All posts in Godless

12th April, 2011: One book down and the year ahead

Well, after hammering out 4,278 words yesterday (amazing what you can do when the end is in sight), I finished draft 0 of Hang Wire. The manuscript weighs in at 90,447 words, which is 10k below target but still within the accepted 80,000 to 110,000 for science fiction. I tend to add 10,000 words at the redraft anyway, and I suspect I may add even more for this book as the theme changed halfway through, and I have a fair bit to go back and add in. That’s why this is draft 0, not draft 1. This one will go in the trunk until next year.

Project: Hang Wire (serial killers and superheroes in San Francisco)
Words yesterday: 4,278
Words total: 90,447/100,000 (90%, although complete)
Total words for 2011: 120,428

I also finished 10 days ahead of my self-imposed deadline, which means I won’t have the guilt of not writing anything during EasterCon.

So: yay! But I must admit I’m at a loss as to how to celebrate. Jen Williams has some thoughts over here, but as I don’t drink or smoke I may have to settle for… cake! Cake is good.

While it’s only April, the rest of this year is looking very busy already. Taking stock of projects, I have to fit in the following:

  • Revise Ludmila, My Love based on beta-reader comments, write a synopsis for it, and deliver both to my agent by April 30th. Hopefully this won’t take too much work – I’ve got all but two sets of comments in and most things are minor.
  • Edit Seven Wonders, allow a beta-reading period and further revisions, then deliver to Angry Robot by October. This deadline may be months away, but it’ll arrive sooner than I think.
  • Re-write Dark Heart and deliver to my agent ASAP. I mentioned on Twitter last night that I was contemplating a “secret project”, and this is it. Dark Heart was the first novel I wrote, and while the story is solid, the writing is less so. After chatting to Stacia about it, we agreed that the best way forward is to basically strip everything out of it bar the plot and characters, rewrite, top-to-bottom. I’ll talk about this later when I actually start work on it, but I’m feeling a lot happier about this book now I know what needs to be done.
  • Outline, write, edit, beta, correct then deliver Night Pictures by the end of the year. The timeline is still fluid on this project, which will be my next novel written. I’ve shuffled it down after Dark Heart, and it’ll be an interesting exercise to turn around a novel – including edits – so quickly. I’ll have a better feeling for this once I actually start writing it – I certainly don’t want to rush it, and it may be that this slips into 2012. We’ll see.
  • Edits/rewrites on Empire State for Angry Robot. I don’t know when these are expected, although no doubt I’ll know more after EasterCon.
  • Finish Godless by year end. Doable, considering I’m only writing half of the 100,000 words. Again, more planning will be possible after EasterCon.

And that pretty much fills my calendar up until the end of 2011. By heck, I’ve a job of work to do. But what a great job it is!

1st March, 2011: That new start thing

Weeeell… I’m not doing that badly. The first chapter of The Suicide Tree is done and dusted (pending redraft, of course). It comes in at 2,951 words, which is probably a bit long for a first chapter. But it’s the clay on the wheel, as I am fond of saying.

Project: The Suicide Tree (post-apocalyptic horror in storm-battered Louisiana)
Words today: 1,732
Words total: 2,951 (sample chapters only, no specific word limit)
Total words for 2011: 68,927

Ooh, just short of the requisite 2k today. Dang. Must try harder. Although I did say it would take a couple of days to get back up to speed. So, all eyes on day three!

Also today I had a Skype conference with Kate about Godless, which was a pleasure as always as we try and figure out what happens in the next chapter. We do have an outline, but one of the problems of sharing the writing chores on a novel is that rather than just sitting down and getting your words out for the day, and then repeating that the next day, and the next, instead you have to process the proceeding chapter, work out where it digressed from the outline, have a Skype call to make sure you’re on the right track for the next bit, and THEN write your chapter.

As a solo writer, everything happens inside your own head and even if you head off on a tangent, you kinda know where you are going. When somebody else has written the chapter before, you have to analyse it and try and guess where the other person was heading. It’s an immensely fun process, and seeing a new chapter from your co-writer is always a surprise, but it is also time consuming. It’s Kate’s turn to write, and I gummed up the works a little by writing a gigantic chapter (at least twice as long as it should be) which is mainly a conversation between our hero and a local sheriff who is having a bad day. Fun to read (and write), but it took some unravelling to work out what needs to come next.

I’m not complaining. Far from it. But that’s what else I did today. Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing?

15th February, 2011: Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance

I’ve mentioned The Wasp in the Lotus several times now and charted its progress on this blog. For those who missed it, this is a steam/clockpunk novella that checks in at around 21,000 words. I wrote it in January on commission, which is the first time I’ve had to commit to a sort of write-on-demand schedule. It was hard work but it was fun, and I hope the end result is entertaining. And now I can spill the beans on what I wrote it for!

The Wasp in the Lotus is one of five novellas appearing together in a steampunk anthology from Echelon Press, a US-based small press. The anthology, Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance, is due for print and electronic release in May this year, and my story sits very proudly alongside novellas from Jennifer Williams, Kim Lakin-Smith, Sean Hayden, and Nick Valentino. If all goes to plan we should have some stock available in time for Alt Fiction at the end of June, which myself, Jen and Kim will be attending. I understand there is a press release coming from Echelon, but the word got out on Twitter last night.

And what better way to celebrate than with the pinball number count from old school Sesame Street. Right? Well, I just so happened to be watching some vintage episodes this morning (what?), and I noticed that this classic piece of animation (which I first saw when I was probably 3 or 4 years old) is actually steampunk. Seriously. Check out the video and see if you can spot it.

Strangely enough, I’ve got an index card on my corkboard for a story about very high altitude airships. Which means Sesame Street counts as research.


Yesterday was a busy day for writing as I worked on both Godless and Hang Wire. In the former I tied up chapter six and sent our hero on his way to the town of Sentinel, Wyoming. In Hang Wire, Ted, having suffered blackouts and lost time, heads off to San Francisco’s Chinatown district, following the directions given in a mysterious note signed in Korean that was slipped under his apartment door. It feels good to be back in both of these worlds, and they are different enough that working on both on the same day didn’t seem to pose any particular problems.

Project: Godless (horror Western novel)
Words today: 841
Words total: 20,131/100,000 (20%)

Project: Hang Wire (superheroes and serial killers in San Francisco)
Words today: 1219
Words total: 32,872/100,000 (33%)

Total words today: 2060
Total words for 2011: 51,857

Books: some pages of Firestarter by Stephen King.
Comics: None yesterday. Although I just acquired a job lot of classic Marvel GI Joe comics, so I may need to add those to the list sooner rather than later.

14th February, 2011: Back it up!

I don’t want to labour the point here, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve read about quite a handful of incidents involving writers losing work. Some of the time its hard drive failure, some of the time it’s just user error and genuine mistakes.

I’ve been there myself, although thankfully have not experienced anything catastrophic. The worst loss I can remember was about 1,000 words from a book… I think it might have been while I was writing Seven Wonders, but I’m not sure. Might have been Ludmila, My Love. Maybe it happened on both!

On that occassion/those occassions, it was a right pain. More than that, however, was the very real feeling of loss. Now, I’m only talking about 1,000 words here, but creative writing often feels like a one-shot kinda thing. As you write your draft, it all pours out of your head and through your fingers to the keyboard. When you’re on a roll the prose is writing itself quicker than you can type it. It’s a marvellous feeling when that happens, so to lose that, no matter how small or how large the chunk of text lost to the ether is, is a Pretty Big Deal for a writer.

But here’s the thing. If you’re a writer with a book contract, one that involves deadlines (possibly several) and money (and in the case of a New York Time best-selling author, possibly quite a bit of money and a complex set of deadlines and milestones, etc), you can’t afford to lose work. I’m a writer in my day-gig as well, and to lose work there (which has also happened) has very serious repercussions in terms of time, money, and the ability to do work in the future.

So while I can empathise with loss of work – and I really can, I’ve been there, it’s bloody awful – I can’t really sympathise. Sorry. If writing is who you are and what you do, you’ve got to have a strategy for backing work up and keeping archives. These days backing up is cheap and easy. There is no excuse. I’m fortunate enough in twenty years of computer ownership never to have had a computer failure or a hard drive failure, but it’ll happen one day. Those couple of memorable losses of work aside, I’ve had plenty of times where Word has crashed mid-sentence, where Scrivener has eaten a scene, where I’ve just either mis-filed something or have overwritten the right file with the wrong one. But I have back-ups, and a couple of minutes later I’m back in business.

If you don’t have a back-up, you need to get one organised today. If you think you’ll never never a back-up, you’re a fool. As the saying goes, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who have lost data, and those who will.

For my own back-ups, I save work into three separate folders on my Mac – my main Scrivener file goes in the folder for that particular project; this is also saved into my DropBox folder. Additionally, a zipped back-up of that Scrivener file goes into DropBox as well. Scrivener also creates its own backups automatically, saving the last five sessions as a separate zip file in its own application support folder. Using DropBox also means that the files are duplicated on my Macbook Air, my wife’s Macbook, and her iMac too, not to mention the DropBox server itself which I can access from any computer/device I like.

As I use a Mac I also have Time Machine running, backing up selected folders from my iMac to an external 2TB hard drive. The drive cost me £80, which sounds like a lot, but I can remember a time when a 1TB drive cost the same as a small car and 2TB drives didn’t even exist. Having such a large back-up means I have an archive of all of my writing work going back (so far) to the middle of last year. If I had more spare cash I’d buy another two or three.

Backing up is all about redundancy. The chances of my iMac’s internal hard drive failing are slim. The chances of that internal drive failing AND my 2TB external failing are even less. The chances of that internal drive failing AND my external drive failing AND my Macbook Air failing AND… well, you get the picture.

You don’t even need the £80 for a huge external drive. Get a cheap USB pen drive. Get two. Get a pack of five. DropBox is free and you get 2GB of cloud storage. If you have more than one computer, set up a share between them and save duplicate files.

Back your writing up. There is nothing more important.

A good day on Godless yesterday, although chapter six is still not finished and will probably be either too long, or more likely split into two (six and eight, with seven from Kate in the middle). Editing the whole book as a single manuscript is going to be fun, when we get to that stage!

Project: Godless (horror Western novel, formerly The Gospel of the Godless Stars)
Words today: 2,040
Words total: 19,290/100,000 (19%)
Total words for 2011: 49,797

Books: some pages of Firestarter by Stephen King.
Comics: None yesterday.

13th February, 2011: The New York Times Best Sellers list

Interesting news came a few days ago that the New York Times would start including ebooks in their famous bestseller lists for the first time, and indeed starting with the list for February 13th, two new lists appeared: “Combined print and e-book fiction”, and “Combined print and e-book non-fiction”. These are in addition to the standard lists. As the newspaper explains, ebooks are an emerging market and calculation and analysis of metrics are still under development, hence the combined, separate lists. I think it’s an interesting move and a logical one. Afterall, music charts now include downloaded music and now more accurately reflect purchasing statistics. However, music is somewhat different to books, as a very large proportion of music sales are now downloads. Ebooks still have a long way to go.

I often look at the NYT best-seller list. I find it fascinating, seeing what is selling (and what isn’t), and over the last couple of years I’ve actually known a couple of people whose work has made it into the list which has given me a vicarious thrill. The NYT list is the granddaddy of them all – although it only represents the US market, the US market is the biggest English-speaking/reading one there is. Cracking that market is quite an achievement.

I also find the NYT best-seller list aspirational. Not that I have any particular desire to write truly mainstream or commercial fiction, or that I even have the ability to do it or to ever write anything that might sell enough to make the list. Having said that, the list isn’t just supermarket/airport schlock – speculative fiction regularly rides high on it. Stephen King tops it with every new release, of course. Brandon Sanderson’s continuation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time fantasy epic was another notable appearance. Even looking further down the list, James Lovegrove hit the mass-market list recently with Age of Odin from Solaris, and Gail Carriger hit it with her second novel, Changeless. While a lot of books on the list are, shall we say, perhaps not so good (sometimes the NYT will have free samples available from books on the list, which I make a point to read), there’s a lot of good stuff there too.

The NYT best-seller list is aspirational for me not because it represents fame and fortune, but because it shows that an awful lot of people are buying and reading a title, and if that title is fiction, hopefully they’re being entertained and (as Sir Terry Pratchett said at the SFX Weekender) being made happy, if you’ll pardon that awkward phrase. I write fiction to entertain people and to make people happy. If a lot of people read it, and enjoy it and are entertained, then that’s my job done.

Maybe aspirational is the wrong word. Inspirational, perhaps. Reading the NYT best-seller list inspires me to write more fiction, and to write better fiction. If I want to entertain people and make people happy, the writing has got to be good. That’s the key to the list as well, I think. Stephen King and Gail Carriger and James Patterson didn’t sit down with the intention of becoming best-selling authors and making a lot of money. They sat down with the intention to write a good story. If the story is good, people will like it. If people like it, they’ll buy more of it from you, and so on. Success cannot be planned or predicted, but I think it can be worked for.

The commerciality of fiction is an interesting aspect to the list. As I’ve said, while a lot of titles that appear on it are genuinely good or even great, a lot of them are also… well, not so much. But with these writers there is something else going on in their prose. Gail Carriger called it the X-factor, the something indefinable that lurks between the lines that makes you want to read and keep reading. The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol might be awful books, but there is something about Dan Brown’s writing that people like and that makes people read (and keep reading) books that, technically, are not so good. Stephanie Meyer has it, James Patterson has it, Stephen King has it. To bitch about bad books being best-sellers is perhaps missing the point. The most wonderfully constructed story and plot and characters can mean nothing if the book doesn’t have “it”, whatever “it” is. While I think it is possible to deliberate write a commercial book – one that is clear on genre (and the placement of that genre from a marketing perspective) and steers clear of anything wildly experimental or unusual that may put your average reader off – I don’t think you can deliberately write a book with commerciality unless you naturally have that talent. That’s what separates writers like Stephen King from the rest of us.

Reading the NYT best-seller list has another function too, one slightly more practical than staring misty-eyed at your computer monitor. The first sixteen titles on each list, online anyway, are represented by single-sentence summaries which tell you everything you need to know about the book. Here’s some examples from the list for 20th February (the online list appears a week ahead of the print version):

1. TICK TOCK, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. (Little, Brown, $27.99.)

The New York detective Michael Bennett enlists the help of a former colleague to solve a rash of horrifying crimes that are throwing the city into chaos.

3. THE INNER CIRCLE, by Brad Meltzer. (Grand Central, $26.99.)

An archivist discovers a book that once belonged to George Washington and conceals a deadly secret.

6. SHADOWFEVER, by Karen Marie Moning. (Delacorte, $26.)

Hunting for her sister’s murderer, MacKayla Lane is caught up in the struggle between humans and the Fae.

11. WHAT THE NIGHT KNOWS, by Dean Koontz. (Bantam, $28.)

Someone is murdering entire families, recreating in detail a crime spree that took place two decades earlier.

These single-line synopses are not the elevator pitch, which runs along the lines of “Harry Potter meets Ocean’s Eleven”, etc. The NYT lines are an accurate, super-short summary of the plot. They look pretty straight forward and the ones I selected above (and indeed any from the list) make sense and tell me enough about each of the books whether I might be interested or not.

Writing these kind of single-line synopses can actually be very hard. Being able to craft them is a skill that all writers should have, as sooner or later you’ll be asked to come up with something similar. My advice, such as it is, is to read the NYT list regularly, pay attention to the summaries, and then either try some single-line summaries of your own work, or try and write them for some of your favourite books by other authors.

Stats! I have stats, glorious stats! I’m hoping that post-con lull and post-con cold dispatched, I’m back in the saddle. And what better to, erm, re-saddling with than a bit of horror Western.
Project: Godless (horror Western novel, formerly The Gospel of the Godless Stars)
Words today: 2,056
Words total: 17,250/100,000 (17%)
Total words for 2011: 47,757 (behind for the year by a long way, but I’ll take a tally on that later this week)

Firestarter is starting to pick up, although I’m still not reading it as fast as I expected. I ploughed through The Dead Zone in a couple of weeks, but The Dead Zone was a remarkable book. Firestarter is less remarkable, although still excellent. However already in the first 100 pages things have started to accelerate, and I’m enjoying it, which is the main thing.

Books: some pages of Firestarter by Stephen King.
Comics: None yesterday.

6th January, 2011

Today was a good day for writing, even though it was Thursday (Thursdays don’t usually work out) and I ate a gigantic, and unpleasant, pizza for lunch. The box promised a lot but, let’s face it, you get what you pay for. And for £1.25, that’s not much. Moving on…

I worked on two different projects today. Firstly I wrapped up the first draft of the second half (bear with me here) of my sample of codename: Oh Mummy!, clocking that one in at a total of 6,744 words. Tomorrow it’ll get an edit and that word count may go up or down, but it’s feeling pretty good and will be off to my beta-readers for a kicking before getting another edit over the weekend.

Work on that came in at 1,488 words, which left 512 to spare for today’s word count. I spent this on Hang Wire, my superhero crime novel, which I haven’t looked at for a few days. Reading back over the last chapter, I noticed I’d made the teeny-tiny, insignificant, microscopic mistake of changing from first person to third person. Hey, easy to do, right? Erm, perhaps not… anyway, it’s first person, so I completed the chapter in first and will go back and fix the rather alarming error later.

Project: codename Oh Mummy! (zombie horror novel, sample chapters)
Words today: 1,488
Words total: 6,744 (no particular target)

Project: Hang Wire (superhero crime novel)
Words today: 714
Words total: 22,841/100,000 (22.84%)

Total words today: 2,202
Total words for 2011: 11,667 (just 323 short of target!)

Given that splitting my writing today between two completely separate novels, and that my trade paperback of Seven Wonders hasn’t arrived from Lulu yet, I wasn’t too worried about any editing today. Kate sent in her next chapter of The Gospel of the Godless Stars (chapter 5 out of an anticipated 40), which I reviewed and suggested a few changes to, so I guess that counts. Tomorrow’s plan includes editing Oh Mummy!, although if Royal Mail are on schedule I should be able to get stuck into Seven Wonders as well.

Reading? Don’t ask. Again. Seriously, I’m not listening. I’m heading towards the end of The Long Walk (which is starting to feel a little long) but comics will have to wait until tomorrow.

Books: some pages of The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
Comics: Pardon? Sorry, I didn’t catch that.

2011: The lowdown

Okay, let’s recap: last time, I said that I had two New Year’s Resolutions. The first is to write 2,000 words a day. For me, in theory, this is easy, and if I can keep it up then every other writing plan I have for 2011 will just fall into place. Novels, short stories, blogs and guest blogs, editing, whatever. All of these things are just collections of words, some of which have due dates attached. If I can write 2,000 words a day, I don’t even need to think about anything else.

Secondly, I need to keep a log of what I do. Despite lamenting only one novel written from start to finish in 2010, I actually got more done this year than in any year previous, but I haven’t really kept track. As it so happens, I’ve got a website and this website has a blog, so it makes sense to use it to record progress daily. Regular updates will be good motivation too −  if I slack off, it’ll show up here pretty quickly. You have my permission to throw a kick or two in the comments when this happens.

So what do I have to work on? Here’s the list of confirmed projects. There is other stuff on the boil too, but it’s a case of wait and see on those. They can be slotted in as needed, and in a couple of cases will take automatic priority.

I need to finish Hang Wire and write two more novels; I have a steampunk novella to write by early February, and a superhero short by the end of March. Also in 2011 Kate and I need to finish The Gospel of the Godless Stars. My daily word count will include any fiction written, but no non-fiction (eg, blog posts or articles).

I have three novels which need to go from draft to submission-ready manuscripts. These are Dark HeartSeven Wonders and Ludmila, My Love. I’m starting with Seven Wonders tomorrow. Unlike writing, editing is slightly harder to measure progress, so rather than have fixed goals (other than to edit three novels in one year) I’m just going to track it by number of pages edited.

I’m part of the Stephen King challenge, so I have to read at least six King novels in 2011. As I am working through them in publication order these will be: The Long WalkThe Dead ZoneFirestarterRoadworkDanse MacabreCujo, and The Running Man. That’s actually seven titles, but Danse Macabre is non-fiction so doesn’t count. The Long WalkRoadwork and The Running Man are all short Richard Bachman novels, which will help balance against doorstops like The Dead Zone. Aside from King, my TBR pile is fairly substantial, and I hope to reduce it by a handful. If I can read a total of twenty books next year, I’ll be doing well.

In 2011 I’ll also be reducing my comics backlog by reading five issues a day. My first batch, as previously mentioned, will be the new/current series of Power GirlZatanna and DC Legacies, alongside the 2002 series of Catwoman and the 1970 O’Neil/Adams run of Green Lantern.

So, lots to do but a year to do it in. See you tomorrow for the first update!

Rinse and repeat

This always happens. All year I plug away at various writing projects, averaging about 2000 words a day. Then at the end of October, people start talking about Nanowrimo and suddenly I think it’s a great idea.

I mean, I know 50,000 words is not a novel, and the 1,667 words per day required for Nano is actually less than my minimum daily wordcount anyway. So even though the friends who start talking about Nanowrimo are mostly writers anyway (one of the criticisms of Nano, certainly, that those most excited about it are writing more than 50,000 per month anyway), there is a certain spirit of camaraderie that crops up.

And why not use this chatter to get a nice start on a new project, right? Fifty thou is half a novel, and, well, if I was going to write it anyway, why not add a few people on the Nano website and have a bit of an online party.

And then it all goes wrong. In fact, it’s gone wrong the last three years at least that I can remember. I’m going to call this the NaNoCurse. Check it out. This is a snapshot of my progress chart for Hang Wire, my superhero novel about an exploding fortune cookie and a serial killer stalking the San Francisco night:

It started well. Three days above 2k. One day a huge 4,091. And then… a big string of zeroes. So, what happened? What’s my excuse this time?

Actually, it’s the same as every year. November is a busy time for my day job, and this year was no exception. I didn’t even start until a week into November, and on my fourth day I was flown to Vienna for a meeting. When I got back I was flooded with post-meeting work, and then after a brief return to writing on the 18th, I came down with a cold and it all ground to a halt.

Depressing, right? Right. You better believe it. Yet another NanoFailMo. And I’ve blogged about that before.

However, I wasn’t as idle as that chart suggests. I wrote a 1,000 word Christmas-themed short story (more on that later) and wrote a 3,000 word chapter for The Gospel of the Godless Stars, my horror Western collaboration. I also plotted a long-short (novellette? novellina? short novella?) I need to write by the end of January (and more on that), and worked on outlines for two more shorts (and that too!). So not quite as disasterous as my Nano stats tell me.

Periods like this suck, but I need to accept they happen a few times a year. No biggie.

So Hang Wire is at 10,065 words. Theoretically that’s 10% of the book, but nothing much has happened yet except for a fortune cookie exploding, a superhero sizing up his new city from a rooftop at midnight (a cliche, but I had to do it), and a brawl between a Celtic dance troop and the operators of the fairground rides at a travelling circus.

The Gospel of the Godless Stars is now at 8,500 words exactly, with three chapters (two of mine and one of Kate’s) and a prologue down (also Kate). This is turning into quite a fun ride, which I’ll talk about later this week.

November action!

Happy November!

I like November. Back in New Zealand, it’s heading towards summer and great weather. Here in the UK, autumn is in full swing and the countryside is an amazing collection of colours. Plus November is nicely ushered in by Halloween, my favourite holiday, and last night was celebrated with friends with a viewing of the chilling 1968 BBC production of Whistle and I’ll Come To You, followed by my favourite Hammer horror film, 1970’s The Vampire Lovers. The day before was spent mostly at the Lowry theatre in Salford, where we saw a double-bill of M. R. James stories performed by R. M. Lloyd Parry. If you ever get a chance to see these productions, I can heartily recommend them.

This November is likely to be a busy one for me. Last month I locked the final edit of my detective noir fantasy, Empire State, which means I can finally move onto some new projects. This year I’ve signed up for Nanowrimo again to give my fifth novel a bit of a kick-start. It’s modern day superhero story set in San Francisco, and while I quite like the work-in-progress title of The Cosmic Fortune Cookie, it’s now officially called Hang Wire. And yes, that’s part of my ongoing quest to drop names and titles of/from Pixies songs into all my books.

Hang Wire features a newspaper reporter with a drinking problem, a sentient fairground, a fire-worshipping cult, a man who never sleeps, and a mysterious spandex-clad crime fighter chasing a serial killer. And explosions. And, erm, ballroom dancing. If you want to add me as a buddy on the Nano website, you can find me under ghostfinder.

But that, as the breathless narrators of TV informercials would say, is not all. As well as Hang Wire, I’m starting properly on The Gospel of the Godless Stars, the weird Western collaboration with Kate Sherrod. Writing two novels at once sounds like possibly a bad idea, but I’m just trying to be practical. Kate and I are alternating chapters, and neither of us expect an overnight turnaround on materials. As a consequence, work on this will be constant but sporadic, and as I need to write something every day, Hang Wire will fill the gaps nicely. Plus, Hang Wire and Gospel are completely different genres and styles, so separating the two shouldn’t be a problem.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have at least 1,667 words to write.

Laissez les bon temps rouler

I try to keep this blog writing-related, but here’s a brief interlude.

Last Thursday I went to see one of my favourite bands, Quasi, play Manchester’s Deaf Institute. It was nothing short of amazing – tiny venue with perfect sound, small crowd, good support band (I know, I’m still in shock). One of the benefits of being a fan of small indie bands who play small venues is the opportunity to actually meet them. All three members of Quasi were either chatting in the audience beforehand, or manning their t-shirt stand, and when they came off stage I grabbed a moment to chat to Janet, the drummer, who also plays with Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and was one third of Sleater-Kinney.

Anyway, there were a lot of photographers there, and by chance someone captured a pic of me and guitarist/singer Sam Coomes, which I’m pretty chuffed with. Hint, I’m not playing guitar:

The entire set by kezontour can be seen on Flickr.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any video of the show, although there are some good recordings on You Tube from earlier in the same tour. Here’s one from Chicago:

In other news, slightly more writing-related, I’ve got my iPad. It’s absolutely beautiful. I may only have had it since Thursday (it was delivered a day before the official UK launch too), but every day it still surprises me. It is slightly smaller than I thought it would be, but is very comfortable to use. I’ve already been reading comics and eBooks on it, and I have to say, I’m now a total convert to digital reading. iBooks is a terrific e-reader.

It’s not all about passive consumption of content though. I’ve done some beta-reading and critiquing (with notes) in Pages, and I’ve started Corkulous planning boards for Ludmila, My Love and The Gospel of the Godless Stars. When I can figure out how to take screenshots, I’ll post some up.