It’s been a good year, 2018.
Browsing my site you’ll no doubt notice a few magpies dotted about. Well, they all relate to my original work in progress, The Last Magpie. Early in the year, I at last finished my first draft. I wished to have had more edited in the subsequent months but I suppose I was put off by the mammoth task of re-writing and editing it.
It took me two and a half years to get that draft done. When it came to looking back at chapter one, I knew right away from the 12,000-word count that I had lots to do. But I found myself smiling too. 90% of that chapter was shite. I recognised which bits needed incinerating, which bits had promise, which bits were keepers. It gave me confidence and a bit of relief, that in the time it took me to finish that first draft I’d picked up a few things about this craft we call writing.
The struggle with doubt is forever on-going for writers, at all stages of their career. I felt like I was withstanding the siege, but I’d reached a deadlock. I wasn’t having much luck finding homes for short stories and I was yet to make any money from something I’d invested a hell of a lot of time in. That’s not to say that money isn’t the end game here, but it’s a means to that end.
Things changed in September. Seemingly from nowhere, a friend of mine and superb SFF writer, who I met through this very blog, JM Williams, offered me a terrific opportunity. A few weeks later I signed my first professional book deal with Fiction Vortex, but it was unlike any other I’d encountered before. It was a job interview of sorts—demonstrate my writing ability and then, if successful, commit to writing a whole new novel.
Though it was a daunting prospect at first—signing a contract without a manuscript or even a concrete idea—I’m pleased to say I’m halfway through that novel and aim to have the first draft finished by April 2019. A hell of a shorter time than two and a half years. With a bit of luck, it could be available to buy this time next year.
Pariah’s Lament is the title of the book. It’s become an unhealthy obsession. I love nothing more than an underdog’s story, and this is what the novel promises. How the most unlikely of characters muster the courage, strength and determination to overcome impossible odds. I can’t wait to share it with you.
Pariah’s Lament isn’t the only book I plan to release next year. For the past few months, I’ve flirted with the idea of a non-fiction book. The kind of book that I would have loved to have at my side when I first started writing fantasy fiction. Christened A Fantasy Writer’s Handbook, it’s a writer’s resource shaped by the research I conducted in 2018 into what readers dislike in books.
Part One explores the craft of writing—character, plot, premise, dialogue, prose, world-building, writing fight scenes, editing—the core elements of storytelling, all with a focus on fantasy.
The focus of Part Two shifts entirely to fantasy, exploring its many sub-genres, naming characters, cartography, making monsters, and chapters to help you find inspiration for your fantasy worlds, such as those on life in the Middle Ages and medieval warfare.
Part Three provides a guide on everything that follows after the writing—creating websites, blogging, marketing your writing, lists of fantasy publishers, book reviewers, writing cover letters, formatting guides, and self-publishing.
The aim is to provide prospective fantasy writers with everything they need to get off to a good start and to provide the inspiration and confidence to continue with their study and practice of the craft.
So a busy 2019 is in the offing, but I’d rather be busy than twiddling my thumbs. I just need to stop watching Failarmy videos on Youtube.
I wish you all the very best for the New Year and however you choose to celebrate tonight, I hope you have a truly wonderful time.
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