Autumn Writing Update

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I realise it’s high time I take stock of where I am with various writing projects I’ve been working on – and some new ones! I also want to expand on a lot of what I want to start thinking about progressing with next year – it seems customary with the nights drawing in as October grows to a close to reflect not on what can be done with the dregs of this year but to plan for the new year.

Overall, I’m both pleased and a little disappointed with progress with my writing projects but I feel a touch of realism is sometimes what’s needed!

  • Landlady_Cover_MockUpI’m thoroughly thrilled with how my short story The Landlady has gone down since I put it out last month. I’m really grateful to everyone who both read it and bought the little paperback editions that I made available for purchase; it was a really touching and humbling thing to have signed so many of them for good friends and colleagues. Thank you once again for all your support and comments! And to those asking “when’s the next one coming?”… well keep reading!
  • I sent my post-apoc thriller novel The Thaw off to beta-readers in second draft form at the end of July, hoping for a relatively quick turnaround to gain some feedback on it for the next edit – it’s the third draft that I want to start approaching professional editors and agents with. However, it’s been a bit disappointing, as I mentioned in a thread on Twitter, and with Christmas closing in I can’t see my beta-readers having much time. I understand that; however, I’m excited to have received word from my good friend and university classmate Rosie that her notes and annotations are incoming! So I hope to be able to start the next pass of editing on The Thaw over Christmas; it shouldn’t be anywhere near as intense as the first pass was! Overall though I reflect on the project with a great deal of pride and I really believe the project has “legs” and I’ll be pursuing it toward publication in a traditional sense throughout the coming year!
    • Incidentally, I was very pleased to be able to complete two beta-reads of my own recently; one for Rosie’s young-adult fantasy novel Under Oath and recently for Alex Clifford’s comedy novella The Very Foreign Desk. I was more than happy to give the feedback and I look forward to seeing the improved forms of both works!

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While I might not have been actively writing or editing much for the last couple of months, that hasn’t meant I’ve not been generating ideas – in fact I’ve two ideas I feel are closest in gestation that I feel comfortable talking about them, with a couple more still only in rough concept form in my notebook.

  • As mentioned, the reaction to my short horror story The Landlady has been more than I could’ve possibly imagined, and to answer those that are asking me if I’ve more in the works… I’m happy to say yes! I’ve been concepting out an idea for a horror story that might make it to full novel proportions and that I’m going to be spending the festive season planning intensely. I do want to write more horror based on this experience but I’ve a lot of research to do on the genre, but more importantly I needed an idea. By some happy accident I had the idea last week and I think I could do well with it. I’d love to say more but it’s very rough at the moment but I’ll hope to tell more about it in the new year once I’ve nailed down the plot and plan – but work is going really well as I keep thinking about it!
  • I’ve also been concepting out a climate-based post-apocalyptic novel that I had the idea for in the recent hot weather that the UK experienced – what if the UK experienced a heatwave that never ended? This one was what I thought I’d be working on next but I found myself a little stumped in the early planning but I’ve re-evaluated my ideas and, after chatting to some writer friends, have a better idea where I can take it. I originally envisaged a pseudo-political/techno thriller but I can’t say I was massively enthused by the knots I’d have to tie in my plot to make that work effectively; instead it’s going to be a bit more of an adventure into a decimated, desertified Southern England.
  • I also want to post more short stories from my university studies and re-organise the range of short stories on my site for those dear readers who are interested in reading more of my fiction. I’m really proud of the work I produced through university (even if I wasn’t a particularly happy student) and going by how people enjoyed The Landlady then I’m more than happy to show off some of my more recent, and in my opinion, refined work.

I’m excited I’ve got lots of ideas but I’m starting to prioritise them a little – I’d initially wanted to work on the climate fiction idea first but it needs some more plotting and, honestly, it’s the horror that’s screaming out to me to write first over the next while. But regardless I’ll keep everyone updated on how these projects start to shape up, as well as how The Thaw progresses, through my site but I’d also wholeheartedly recommend liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter and Instagram for all my writing and reading goodness!

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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! :-)

Getting My House In Order

After a longer-than-expected delay, I’m pleased to say I’m back to blogging, and normal service here is to resume. It’s been a bit challenging, moving house, getting reconnected and with real life well and truly in the way it’s left little time for serious writing activity.

That said, I’m pleased to say that I’ve made an earnest start on the new (and final) edit of Colonisation and a new short story is in the works! I hope to bring a few non-writing topics to bear on my site (but with a serious geek/sci-fi skew to them, to fit my current remit) and also keep up with reviews of content I’m currently enjoying.

I’ll be updating the “currently reading” and “reading list” pages presently! I’ve missed my site rather a lot and having the environment and ideas to compel me to blog again are great!