Re-Colonisation: The Journey to Mars Zero

Releasing my first full-length novel Colonisation in April 2013 was a pretty big deal for me, and even though that form was only available briefly, it taught me a ton of lessons that are reflected in my writing to this day.

I’ve been closely scrutinising my own work in terms of Colonisation; I’ve nearly finished (at long last) a careful and thorough pass over the current draft, with a ton of changes I hope to make. Some of them are to harmonise my own in-universe terms and ideas, and some are as mundane as spelling and others as significant as re-architecting entire chapters. It’s been a heavy job; I am my most ardent critic, but it’s been thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable.

During that time, too, I’ve also read a lot, and written a lot more and I feel Colonisation can benefit from the cumulative experience I’ve gained during the rewrite and writing subsequence short stories. Moreover, I feel that Colonisation has, a a concept, outgrown not only my initial aims – no longer do I feel the “young adult pulp sci-fi” epithet does the story I both want to and now feel I can tell justice – but also its title.

Mars Zero

Colonisation is no more – the edition I’m working on now will go under the title of Mars Zero.

My rationale is that my plans for the book – to bring the story to a wider appeal through better characterisation, better pacing and, to be honest, better science means a new title is not only advantageous but befitting. I’m taking inspiration from the Mars One project that I find both fascinating and inspiring. I’ve also been reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s seminal colonisation novel Red Mars – it’s a book I’d have loved to write; that realisation alone led to my new plans for Mars Zero – which had proved an education, and given me the grounds to focus my efforts with the current “green” rewrite (current rewrite is in red pen; I’ll do another pass in green with the new additions) that’ll take me the rest of the year.

The core of the story that I told in the original Colonisation is going to be intact. It’s going to be about a group of pioneers, betrayed by their human brethren, forging a path on a new world and the inherent struggles. But it’s going to be so much more than a slushy teenage love story with the a science-fiction story on the periphery; the science is going to get hardened up and the action more compelling.

I can’t wait to show Mars Zero to you as soon as I can squeeze it from my brain! So keep your spacesuits warmed up, it’s on the way!

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2013: The Year S**t Got Real

With the end of 2013 approaching I suppose it’s about time for a little retrospective of the year that’s passed and how it affects my outlook into the year ahead.

Firstly, I’m probably the most impressed with my writing output this year: sixty blogposts of, I hope, decent informative quality, a novel in the form of Colonisation and eight short stories totalling 32,779 words. At the beginning of 2013, I had no idea such a thing would be possible!

Writing short stories has been a real eye-opener and it’s something I definitely want to keep going with! There’s a certain freedom in not having to devote an inordinate amount of time to a theme to find it doesn’t work which allows for experimentation, plus it gets content to people quicker! I hate to keep talking about creating content; I want to be putting it out there!

April saw the release of my debut full-length novel Colonisation, and it was a learning experience, one that I shall endeavour to document more fully later. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a lot about the self-publishing landscape and book-writing in general from Colonisation and when Colonisation rematerialises in its second edition next year, it’ll reflect those lessons.

For me, 2013 has cemented in my mind that this writing lark is not just great fun but something I really should develop further. 2014 is the year I’ll strive to act on these instinctive feelings – the first step of which will be to begin the application process for a university degree in the field of English, something I’ll again talk about in detail soon!

So where does that leave me now? I’ve a good mind to amalgamate my eight current short stories – the four “longer” ones and the other flash-fics into my Rememories collection early next year. I’ll keep writing other shorts too; maybe a yearly collection will be the done thing for me going forward? Other than that, I’m slating Colonisation for an April-May release in its second edition guise and The World Eaters will burst forth later, maybe in October!

As always, keep an eye on the site for updates as I write ‘em! I’m looking forward to documenting the upcoming journey; stick around for the ride, it might actually prove to be fun!

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Discoveries about Editing

I’ve recently been throwing myself headlong into editing the second edition of Colonisation and in the course of this undertaking had a bit of a writer’s epiphany.

Before I go on, this is how Colonisation looks right now on my desk:

Colonisation editing

Editing my book by hand, with a red pen and a printed copy has been an extremely cathartic experience and it’s proving to be a great way to reconnect with my work at a very base level. I’m already identifying errors and passages for improvement; heck, I’m even making notations of the improvements to add as I go along! I’m also identifying stupid errors in grammar and spelling that I’m both a bit surprised and ashamed got through.

Reading my work and adding notes in this form has a totally different “feel” to the digital version I toiled over (maybe too  hastily) before. I can disconnect much easier and look at my work in a more critical light, mainly because of the drastic format change and the stark absence of “by Richard Holliday” anywhere on the printout. It’s just Colonisation the book, with space to add notes and scribblings for ideas, identifying plot holes and more

Another epic feeling is progress; with the digital copy, it just felt like and endless stream of words… that just ended. With my printout… I don’t know… I just feel I’m making more “progress” when I can turn a page and get scribbling on it afresh.

I really don’t know how I edited before, but for certain going forward, editing large projects without a stage involving a printed copy is not going to happen. It may cost me a bomb in paper, box files, red pens and toner cartridges but it’s already feeling like time well spent!

Though one thing I’m steering clear of: highlighting passages and simply noting “improve” or “redo”; Future Me cannot remember everything Current Me is thinking, so a few pointers are going in!

As Colonisation remains my first project, I’m as yet undecided as to whether to send it to professional editing. I’m of the opinion that as it’s a pretty narrow-scope book and not too ambitious I can tighten it up myself (after a few passes here) and release it as is, and move on. Rest assured, my next project, the grand space opera The World Eaters will be edited professionally as a project of it’s complex scope will require. Colonisation is more a learning experience than anything else; I’m proud of it as my first book but the best really is yet to come!

Got any editing tips or thoughts on my new workflow? Or are you interested in finding out more about Colonisation? By all means, leave me a comment; I love reading them! :-)

Quick Note: Colonisation Distribution

Just a quick update to inform you that I have elected to disable distribution on Colonisation via paperback format while I work on a second edition of said book over the summer.

Colonisation

As I’m not sure how long it takes CreateSpace to update the records on Amazon, please do not buy my book on there in paperback format if it’s listed as currently available; you’ll simply be wasting your money. I appreciate your interest but the second edition is going to be an improvement I’d like you all to enjoy and it’d be mighty tricky if you buy the first edition in paper form when a new one is around the corner!

The Kindle edition is still available as updating that is a matter of trivial ease; I will upload the second edition there and hopefully Amazon’s infrastructure will push it out to customers as quickly as possible.

Cheers!

(Also, no Monthly Review this month as I’m terribly busy moving house. Sorry!)

Anyone trying to auction now-rare First Editions should kindly pay the author at least 20% of the proceeds! ;-)