Progress From The Cave – January 2018

New year, new me.

Well, a slightly more productive me at least.  That’s the aim anyway, and to help towards that goal I’ve decided to start posting monthly progress reports on my writing.  Not only will this give anyone interested an idea of where I’m up to, it will hopefully encourage me to actually write something worth reporting on!

It’s not quite a New Year’s Resolution, as the idea and the resolve to carry it out has only just settled on me, but it will hopefully bring about a positive change.  If nothing else, the aim of the game is to become more productive on the writing front.

So, what am I writing?  The obvious answer would be Book Two of the Godsbane Trilogy, given that Book One is selling like hotcakes (#itsnot).  In a shock twist though, I’ve come up with a different idea.

When The Ember Child was first released into the wild, it bounded out of the cage with raw enthusiasm, embraced by friends and family like a long lost soul returning home.  Yet, once that early interest faded, it’s as though the book just stands around in a field all day, not really doing anything.

Part of the problem, the Internet tells me, is that not many people want to invest their time in an unfinished trilogy.  They’d rather wait until the whole thing is available, then nail it in one go.  It’s a risky strategy, given that the likelihood of a sequel usually hinges on the success of its predecessor, but that’s by-the-by.

The biggest problem with this thinking is that it doesn’t take into account how big that first book is, how long it took to write.  The Ember Child took a good few years to complete, and that was before I had to balance a wife and a looming child on top of the full-time job.  It’s an epic story that’s only going to get more epic as it rolls on.

So, while I’ve fallen in love with those characters and I’m desperate to share how their journey unfolds, I’ve decided to put it on hold for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I’m a big fan of the whole “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen” kind of philosophy.  I mean, I reckon there must be at least… five… people out there desperately awaiting the sequel.  And the best way to ensure they stick by me?  Keep them waiting 😉

Mostly though, it’s because of another point raised by the good people of the Internet: an author’s volume of work has a big say on attracting potential readers.  To date, my back-catalogue stands at one novel and several blog posts on surviving adulthood.  Something tells me I need to raise my game!

On top of all this, I’m still hoping to get traditionally published one day, and with The Ember Child failing to hook an agent or snag a publisher, it’s probably fair to assume a direct sequel might not be the best option for the next bid along that path.

That’s why I’ve decided to aim small, rather than going for the epic sequel.  I’m currently working on two stand-alone novels, though both are set in the same world as Godsbane.  This time there will be fewer characters, tighter plots, and shorter words… though, hopefully, the entertainment value will remain sky-high.

The first novel, which we’ll call Shadow for now, is actually the first I ever started writing.  The good news with this is that it’s two-thirds complete!  The bad news is I accidentally deleted one of those thirds, long before I learnt to appreciate the wisdom of back-ups, which is why I abandoned it in the first place.  Meanwhile, the other third looks like it was written by someone who’d never attempted to write a novel before – which it was.  So really it’s only one-third complete, with some serious structural reconstruction required.

Shadow tells the story of a skilled assassin whose companions turn against her and her master in an effort to place a ruthless exile on an occupied throne.  Reasons I’m excited?  The story features a character I’ve grown to love over the years, Mikilov, who has already made a cameo appearance in The Ember Child and also features heavily in the second story I’m working on.  So far in the world of Domanska, Mikilov has been the glue that binds the stories together.  In addition, the antagonist, Castle, is one of the easiest characters I’ve ever written.  We’ve all heard authors talk about certain characters writing themselves or stepping off the page fully formed, but I probably didn’t believe it until Castle popped into my head.

The second story, working title of Blood, follows a legendary warrior who comes face to face with his own mortality.  As death looms over his shoulder, he sets out on a dangerous adventure to stand before his gods and ask them for the meaning of his life.  His only companion is an eight-year-old girl with questions of her own.

This is the story I’m actually focused on at the moment.  It’s fresh, and fresh is always exciting to write.  Blood is essentially a road trip story that focuses on a handful of characters whose journey impacts on the people around them, rather than an epic, world defining moment in history.  Not only does this allow a much tighter storyline, it also feels a lot more relatable that my other efforts.  On top of that, two of the main characters offer quite unique POVs, certainly of a kind I’ve never written or read before, so it’s an interesting challenge.

If that’s not enough, I also have an idea for a collection of short stories that will help flesh out some of the characters from The Ember Child, potentially allowing some minor characters from all these stories to cross paths.  Then there’s the blog posts I write whenever life throws something special my way.

As you can see, there’s more than enough there to be getting my teeth into.  I’ll use these monthly progress reports to fill you in on what projects I’ve been working on and how that work has gone.  I’ll follow this post up with an extract from Blood, which will hopefully whet the appetite.  I’d love to get some feedback on that, as well as what people think of the two story ideas mentioned above, or the stand-alone versus trilogy decision I’ve made, so feel free to drop a comment and I’ll reply as soon as I get chance.

Other than that, keep an eye out for more posts.  Even with the new addition on the way, though I may be exhausted from wading through endless nappies and a distinct lack of sleep, I’ll find the time to get something down…

Because challenge accepted!

1st February 2018

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