Writing Schedule Updates – June

Bite Back 3 – Wild Card

In the March update, I estimated Wild Card to be 47% complete, and the scheduled release date to be August. I was trying for the anniversary of the publication of Sleight of Hand.

At that point, I felt I had pretty much worked out the plot and thought it would be 130,000 words. I did end by saying it’s the most complex of the series so far, and that my confidence in my estimate was moderate.

Well I was sort of right in that last bit.

I think now that the book is probably going to be 140,000 words. I also had to re-work the plot to achieve a better flow. The outcome from these changes is that my best estimate now is that Wild Card will be published in October. In order for this to be achieved the editing has to be done in September, so there will be milestones on that route which I will keep posting. (In fact, I will be working with Lauren Sweet to edit the first section of the book this month, so things will overlap a little).

At the moment, I’m finding I *can* write more than 2,000 words a day, but if I do, then I spend more time editing them. However, if I visualize the scene strongly before I start writing, then I seem to be able to write more in a session. I’m experimenting with the visualize-write-edit process as I go. Maybe I will hit the magic combination and shorten the schedule!

I’m not sure how useful it is to give percent completion estimates, but my current estimate is that Wild Card is 58% complete.

Bian’s Tale 1 – Saigon

I was trying to write this at the same time as Wild Card, but I’ve stopped. This is a standalone project to be done after Wild Card.

If I had Wild Card completed by August, I originally thought maybe I could complete Bian’s Tale 1 – Saigon and Bite Back Book 4 before Christmas, to allow the books to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales boom. I’m now hoping that Saigon will be there in that timeframe.

The Bian’s Tale books are much simpler than Amber’s, and shorter as well. Even so, this is another deadline I feel may be difficult to hit, so I’m going to change my communication with you to giving feedback more often on progress, but actually making predictions less challenging.


My apologies, I’m slower than I hoped I would be. But I will get there, and in the spirit of that sentiment, here’s a vignette, an Amber flashback to her Ops 4-10 training ….


    Instructor Ben-Haim crouches on the sandy ground in front of me. We’re in the desert. The sun shines like stars reflecting in the beads of sweat caught in the tangle of his black hair. He smells of soap. God knows what I smell like. He pulls his dusty keffiyeh down from his face. I haven’t eaten for three days. The smell of fresh bread erupts from the roll he breaks. He tears a chunk off and eats it, offering me the rest. I can taste it on my tongue.

    I shake my head so abruptly, sweat spills from me. I resent the loss of moisture, even though I know the sweat helps cool me. My throat’s as dry and scratchy as the sand. I can’t speak. I finished my water yesterday. There are only a few hours walking left to complete the exercise, but I can’t do it now. I have to wait till the sun falls. I try to shuffle deeper into my burrow. It’s pleasant here, where pleasant means less immediately lethal than out in the sun.

    Ben-Haim opens his water bottle, washes the bread down with a gulp, offers me the bottle. Shakes it, so it sloshes. A drop spills, lands on the back of his hand. I watch in fascination as it spreads across his skin and evaporates.

    Shit. I can smell the water too.

    I clench my jaw, but a sound escapes me, a whimper.

    ‘The exercise is to be completed with only the food and water you carry or the desert provides.’ The taste being offered would be the taste of failure.

    It’s alright to die. It’s not alright to fail.

    I close my eyes, crouching lower, pressing my face against my knees. I will not cry. I can’t afford it.

    When I open them, Ben-Haim is walking slowly away, taking his bread and his water.

    On the brow of the ridge, Top is standing at parade rest. He’s looking out over the salt flat. They might have used his face to model those statues on Easter Island. Without looking at BenHaim, Top’s hand comes out from behind his back, palm up. Ben-Haim slaps it, leaving behind something that flutters.

    And suddenly, I know I’m going to make it.


About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

4 responses to “Writing Schedule Updates – June”

  1. C Hoskins says :

    Mark, many thanks for your updates, it’s good to hear how your writing is going and also it’s very interesting to hear your planning, sales, targets etc. thanks for writing such good books, keep going, I’m spreading the word about your books and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many thanks , Clare H

  2. Mark Henwick says :

    Thanks Clare. Word of mouth is powerful!

  3. Richard says :

    mark. I love your books and find myself re-reading them from time to time just because of my atachment to the carachters. I spent months eagerly waiting for hidded trump and now I can’t wait for the next chapter in ambers life. your books are a story about ambers life and they make you emotionaly involved with her not just a story leading up to some big explosive conclusion. each chapter is important to me (the reader) I never skip ahead to the next “action sequence”. the interactions between amber and pia are just as important as the action of the fight sceenes, if not more so.

    Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to purchase the next book.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Richard.
      You’ve highlighted important writing tools here – the pacing of a novel and how much action and development needs to be interleaved. The interlude late in HT (where Amber is unsure what Pia needs from her as House Farrell, then has a bitter-sweet moment of reflection on her family and finally contentment), that is a key set-up for the action that follows, as well as revealing more of both characters.
      It’s also one example of where my editor contributed so much. She sent this scene back with ‘bleh’ or something in the margin of the first draft. I re-wrote as you read it now and then she loved it.

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