All posts in Godless

Electric book boogaloo

You might have guessed I’m something of a gadget freak. Well, that’s not quite right. I don’t collect gear or spend hours reading Engadget. However, I am a fan of tech that makes my life easier. I’ve talked about the iPad before – and I’m literally counting the hours until my very own 64GB WiFi model arrives this Friday – and I’m a proponent of all things digital, be it music, or films and TV, or books.

This week I was a guest of Angry Robot books, and I took the opportunity to make a case for switching from print books to ebooks. I’ve had numerous interesting comments about this via Twitter, and my writing pal Jennifer Williams has posted a response on her own blog. I hope you’ll take the time to read both my take and hers, and join the debate!

Writing wise, I’m finally – FINALLY – back on track with Ludmila, My Love. At 2,000 words a day, I should be done in about three weeks, which means I can let that one ferment in the draw and get straight into The Gospel of the Godless Stars, the horror Western I’m co-writing with Kate Sherrod.

This is my first collaboration, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the process. We’re currently working out the plot and synopsis, and have been swapping and expanding scene chronologies back and forth. I must admit, I was nervous at the start of all this – having spent a few days nutting out some plot points, what if Kate hated them? What if Kate’s sections completely turned my precious ideas upside down and inside out?

But of course, it’s not my story. Nor is it her story. It’s our story. We both realise and understand this, and actually it results in a much freer creative experience. Kate even wrote a short prologue at the same time as I was working on mine – and having seen hers, it’s not only a terrific piece of writing, it actually leads almost directly into my own. I suspect this project will go well.

With all this writing work on, one thing that will hopefully keep the pressure up is the brand new Manchester SpecFic Writing Group, which met for the first time a couple of weeks ago at the MadLab in central Manchester. All are welcome, and our next meeting is June 2nd, where we will hopefully have some critiques to give out. I just need to give the first chapter of Empire State another going over before I drop it into our shared folder.

Nervous? You bet. We’re using Turkey City rules. But I’m hoping it’s going to be a valuable experience. I’ll keep you posted.

The art of project management

Time to kick it up a notch.

I find that I work best when I am busy. I have a natural tendency to cruise, which is all very nice, but unless I’m flat out it means that everything takes longer than I intend, simply because I haven’t got the pedal to the metal. The first draft of a novel should, in theory, take two months to write. Ludmila, My Love is only halfway done and it’s already taken about three.

And Ludmila is not the only project I am working on. I need to edit the book before, Empire State, so I can get it out to beta readers. The beta readers will need time to read it, and then I need to allocate another block of editing time for when they all send the book back with their thoughts/critiques. My plan with Empire State is simple enough – get the manuscript in shape so I can start shopping it around by October this year. At the moment, October sounds like a long way off, but once I programme in the three required timeblocks (edit, beta reading, edit), it suddenly looks like a much shorter timeframe.

Another project which requires some hours right now is The Gospel of the Godless Stars. This is shaping up to be the next novel after Ludmila, My Love and my first collaboration. Wyoming-based author and poet Kate Sherrod is co-writing this weird Lovecraftian horror Western with me, and so far we’re having a ball getting the story together. I’ll blog about this properly soon, but the first step is to mesh our two outlines together into a single cohesive story in time for Balticon, which Kate is attending, so she can show it to some folk. Actually, meshing the outlines is the second step – the first step is to get my outline done! Balticon is held over the last weekend in May, which means I need to get the outline out to Kate in the next few days.

So busy, and busy is good, right? Yes, it would be, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still stuck in cruise mode. A couple of weeks ago I had a night or two where I didn’t get much sleep for whatever reason, which threw out my early morning writing routine as I got up too late. And hey presto, the morning routine has been out of whack since then. Add to that a hefty workload from the day gig – including weekend work – and suddenly I’ve done hardly any writing, zero editing, and only a little outlining.

The worst part about it is that there is no-one else to blame but myself. I control when I get up and when I go to bed. Also, I’m in the very fortunate position of being able to control how much day gig work I do. More than most people, I think, I have control over the hours of my day and what I use them for.

But the only way is up, or forward, or however the song goes. Is that even a song? The solution is simple – get up early and re-establish the writing routine; watch the among of day gig work I take on; schedule schedule schedule writing projects.

I’m a routinised person. I love lists. I love calendars and dates and deadlines. So over the next few days I’m going to do some proper planning and scheduling for my writing projects. To this end, I’ve added some little progress bars to the front page of this blog, over on the right there. Wordcount is an easy metric to measure, and while I keep my own detailed spreadsheets on progress, perhaps seeing (and regularly updating) these public trackers will provide just a little more impetus to get things done. Editing Empire State is harder to measure, but will be done by page and date – I’ll put up a tracker for that as soon as I’ve worked out the best method and deadline. Incidentally, the 68 words on Gospel are actual words rather than outline (outlining being even harder to measure than editing), but I don’t expect that number to change significantly until the first draft of Ludmila, My Love is done and dusted.