Zara! Oh, my goodness, you’re just carrying on like this just to scare us. BUCKLE UP!
Good News… I have ‘finished’. Okay, not quite such good news, I have to go back and fill in bits and fix bits and correct bits and submit it to the demon editor.
Some of the fixes are small, but crop up in lots of places. For instance, name changes:
I always hated ‘Amethys‘ as a name for the planet. It is now Kernow.
Director ‘Rhom‘ is too close to ‘Rhos’. He’s now Director Zabo.
The ‘conspiracy’ needs a name, it is now the Hajnal political movement. (It means ‘Dawn’ in Hungarian)
Welarvon is actually Welarvor.
You may start to see these as we progress. They will definitely be in the final version.
I think the only way to fit to my originally proposed schedule is to publish on the 28th October. (That happens to be when the German version of Angel Stakes is published as well). That means it is very likely that the full editing job will not have been done, and there may be some embarassing grammatical or punctuation errors. Ah well. If this is the way we go, then we have this episode and *maybe* next Friday, but also maybe you open the episode on Friday 27th and it says ‘ha ha, go buy it on Amazon for $2.99’. In any event, the weekly episodes will stop and it will be available on Amazon (and Kobo, if I can get back in there).
+ + + + +
I have had to remove the episodes I posted here to fall into line with Amazon’s policies on Kindle Unlimited books.
The full novel is available on Amazon:
When I post stories on my blog, they will remain for at least a month after completion.
Change of Regime
The serialised story that appeared here on the blog is now available as a novella on Amazon. It’s edited, and there’s also an additional chapter, an epilogue, which didn’t appear on the blog. It’s 25k words long.
The appearance of this novella and also the fact that Bian’s Tale is my priority at the moment has prompted several people to contact me asking why Bite Back 6 is not my priority project. I’ll take the opportunity to answer that here.
Firstly, Change of Regime didn’t actually take any time from my writing schedule. It was conceived, planned, plotted, written and delivered in my development time. Do I need development time? Yes. I want my books to be 20% better than other books and I want readers to tell me the books get better and better. Part of what I do to achieve that aim is I practice and experiment with writing styles and tools. Change of Regime allowed me to look at multiple PoVs, use the present tense and trim down descriptions. It also kept me fresh for Bian’s Tale. I’ll continue to use my development time in this way – which means any new serialised novellas/novels will be produced in the same way – a chapter a week. (Development time is 2-4 hours at the weekend).
Secondly, I’m writing Bian’s Tale as my priority project now for several reasons, not least because readers asked me for it. However there is a hard-headed economic reason as well. I’m losing readers, and I’ve been losing readers ever since Sleight of Hand – each Bite Back book I release has fewer readers than the last. Now, some of those may be readers who love the story and are waiting for me to finish the series so they can binge. Great, but not something I want to rely on. So, what can I do to gather more readers into the series? Write other books, like Bian’s Tale and Change of Regime. Submit stories to anthologies like The Biting Cold (which went into the ‘A Very Paranormal Holiday’ anthology) and Enzili (which went into ‘Vampires of the Caribbean’ anthology). Serialise novels. Marketing. Etc. Etc.
New serialised story
Okay, Change of Regime was well received, so I will continue to use my development time to produce serialised stories. The next will be away from the Athanate storyline. I did show you an example a couple of months ago, a chapter from a steampunk story set in Africa, but the response to that was muted. I will write that story anyway, but perhaps not as a serialisation.
So what do you want to see here on the blog? I have an outline for a Sci-Fi Romance and another for a Horror. Place your votes in the comments.
New pages on the blog
I’ll be adding a new page or pages on the blog to handle the serialised stories (when I work out how to do it!).
I mentioned Enzili above. This story is in the Vampires of the Caribbean anthology, but will shortly be available for me to publish seperately. Now… Enzili is a short story and ends with the resolution of one major incident, which was all there was space for. There are three other issues that are left ‘for later’, and I have the plot to resolve these in ‘Enzili 2’ (not decided on a name yet).
Do I publish Enzili now and Enzili 2 when I write it? Hold off publishing Enzili until I have Enzili 2? Hold off until I can put it all together and make 1 novel instead of 2 novellas?
Vote in the comments.
All writing was on hold while I spent the last week with Jessica in New Orleans, where she’s filming ‘Underwater’ with Kristen Stewart and others. Back now.
Bian’s Tale is still being problematic. I’m getting feedback from beta readers on the first 2 sections (out of a total of 5 for the first book), but the feedback is not concentrated on one single issue. It will sort itself out, but it is taking longer than anticipated.
Inside Straight, Bite Back 6: I have some good chapters done and loads of scenes sketched out. This book is nudging me, wanting to be written NOW.
Unbelievably, we are STILL waiting for Angel Stakes to go through ‘checking’ and ‘processing’ at ACX/Audible. I have no control over this part of the production I’m afraid.
Raw Deal is done. I have submitted a minor correction and the audiobook should shortly go into the ‘checking’ and ‘production’ at ACX/Audible.
Long post! Pictures at the end 🙂
I’ve written another short story for an anthology, but it’s not due out until Q1 2017. I haven’t even settled on a title yet. It’s about 16k words (a little shorter than The Biting Cold). It’s in the Athanate universe, but it’s set in a fictional island in the West Indies (‘St. Mark’s’ in the Leeward Islands) in about 1800. It’s pre-edit, but hey, there’s only 16k words so it can’t change much. Hahahaha.
I’m working on Bian’s Tale companion series book 1, Saigon: The Reach of Lies. I’d say it’s going well, but I got to a point last time, about 75% through the whole book, and suddenly, it wasn’t going well. I’m going to be cautious this time and say it’s going okay. I’ll start to engage with beta readers sometime this month or next.
I’m also working on the plot of Bite Back 6. It’s time for the Adepts to come to the fore, and many threads need to be woven in. Those of you who’ve read The Biting Cold and Winter’s Kiss (Bite Back: Outsiders companion series) know that there is input from that companion series as well. A couple of chapters early in Bite Back 6 will actually be the next step in the Outsiders series, and I will be telling the same events from the two different points of view.
I have a lot of other projects I would like to start, but they’re all on the back burner.
Road Trip Report
Readers of this blog will know I did a US road trip in the fall. I visited Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. It was too much and not nearly enough. I have been promising to show pictures and report back, but I don’t want to swamp you with 20GBytes of photos and pages of musings. I’ll try it a state at a time and no more than a couple of photos per road. This post is just an overview. Next post will start the actual road trip and cover Wyoming.
Why did I do it?
Planning started back in 2014 when I was sketching out the plot for what became two books – Cool Hand and Angel Stakes. The internet is amazing for writer’s research, but there’s a lot to be said for being at the place that you’re writing about. Talking to people. Seeing with your own eyes. And I’d done a lot of research on Denver in 2011 when I was planning the story that became Sleight of Hand and Hidden Trump. So… I planned to visit New Mexico and Los Angeles in preparation for Cool Hand and Angel Stakes.
But…life happened. I didn’t go. I wrote those books using internet research and some feedback from people in the area.
How many mistakes did that produce?
Not as many as it could have been. On the Cool Hand audio, I had Julia pronounce Ute as ‘oo-teh’ and it should be more like ‘yoot’. In Angel Stakes, I had a desk sergeant at the police station, and apparently LAPD does not use sergeants to man the front desks. This was pointed out to me at great length by a reviewer (who managed to miss some other deliberate fictions, got his own facts wrong and got completely the wrong end of the stick on other non-LA items – LOL).
Still…the Bite Back action will move north in BB7 and I wanted to get a feel for the states involved. I also wanted to see some of the places I’d written about using just the internet and friends, hence the trip to New Mexico.
I could also use the photos for backdrops in book covers.
And I wanted a road trip. For me, there’s nothing like the vanishing point to free the imagination.
Came together when the whole family wanted to see my daughter, Jessica, on the set for Iron Fist, filming in New York from summer to late fall. The family would fly out in the last week of August and spend about 2 weeks, and I would go from there when the rest went home. The timing was exactly what I wanted – to be touring after Labor Day, when the prices would drop (hahahaha) and it wouldn’t be too cold in the mountains (hahahahaha).
I couldn’t work LA into the trip. Instead, I concentrated on the Rockies.
The research required me to visit Wyoming and Montana. I wanted to start in Denver, and on a road trip, you should not travel any road twice, so that gave me my first loop:
Wyoming, taking in the areas where the Cheyenne pack run (Medicine Bow National Forest), and including the places where two of the founder packs of the Confederation are based—Wind River and Bighorn.
Montana, taking in Bozeman.
And returning through Idaho, along the Bitterroot and Salmon-Challis areas, where the Bozeman pack runs. (I was originally thinking of missing Idaho, but readers told me I had to see places like Stanley and Sun Valley, and it just worked).
Having done that, I needed to come back through Utah to Colorado.
I knew I’d need some time in Denver to write up, and then set off on the second loop.
For the southern section, I wanted to head to Nevada first. There is the potential for a scene in the Humboldt-Toiyabe area, and I also just wanted to drive along the ‘Loneliest Road in America’—Highway 50.
Then down to Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Back to Denver and complete.
(The requirement for returning to Denver was simple economics of return flights and car hiring).
That was the plan. It went right and wrong. Tune in to the next post to see how it turned out in Wyoming in detail.
How did it go overall?
It was awesome. As I say, things went wrong, and I’ll tell all in the next few posts.
The important thing was that the principle reasons for the trip went very well – I finished the draft of Winter’s Kiss, edited and published it while travelling. I talked to dozens of people. I got lots of photos. Loads of ideas. I came back to the UK with my head full of scenes for Bite Back and other books. My imagination went into overdrive.
There are some photos on the Bite Back page, both from New York and from the road trip. Go to (https://www.facebook.com/TheBiteBackSeries/ and scroll down), I won’t repeat them here, but instead, have a look at some tasters of what’s to come.
I needed a car. Plain Toyota Camry – on a couple of occasions, I was sorry I hadn’t got a 4×4, but it did the task. Yes, things went wrong with cars…
I needed places to stay, hotels, motels and AirBnB. (I didn’t stay here – Jackson, Montana). Yes, things went wrong with hotels…
I needed a camera. During the trip my Canon G9 died slowly, and there’s a tale to that too. Ended up with the current Canon equivalent, a G7x. High quality, fast lens, reasonable zoom, no filters, no changeable lenses, manual and auto programs, robust, fits in pocket – basic parameters for my kinda road trip.
I needed money. Mix of credit and cash. I have to say, I was offended by some of it! Cos I’m speshul.
I sought out views of scenes I’d already written. For instance, here is where Jen and Amber looked down on Denver from Lookout Mountain (at night), after the meeting about the quarter horse race venue in Hidden Trump.
And scenes I’m going to write. A chase, a fight. Bite Back 6 or 7. This is part of a disused railway track in north Denver.
But mainly I took photos just because the scenery was AWESOME. Every bend in the road seemed to bring something new and incredible.
Trees and mountains and rivers…
And the drama of Great Dunes and a dark butte under threatening clouds.
As I said, it was awesome, and I look forward to telling you more about it – the little things and the large.
Would I recommend a road trip in the Rockies? Hell, yeah.
I will continue to update progress on writing as well!
I wrote The Biting Cold as a stand-alone short story back in 2014, but the characters were popular enough to persuade me I needed to write a sequel and merge the story into the main Bite Back thread. So… Winter’s Kiss, a novella, in the newly branded Bite Back: Outsiders series, is up on Amazon now.
In less good news, I managed to mess up my mailing procedures this morning and sent the emails out in batches with all the email addresses visible. My sincere apologies to all affected.
My apologies for the silence on the blog.
This is going to be a mixture of family holiday, writer’s retreat, photo shoots and research. I’m not planning to turn up at any bookstores to do signings, but I will be delighted to meet readers at a coffee shop or restaurant if I’m in the area. Message me on the contact email or Facebook.
Family holiday: From the 23rd August to the 5th September, I’ll be in New York, with the whole family. Jessica will still be filming the first season of Netflix’s Iron Fist (she plays Colleen Wing), so the schedule will be worked around that. I do plan to have a visit for Amber to New York in Bite Back, so I will be meeting readers, scouting locations and taking photographs as well.
Writer’s retreat: Home life has been ‘disrupted’ to say the least over the last few months, from replacing floors to garden landscaping. I’m going to find out how well I write when I’m not at home with these distractions. Back in 2011, I visited Denver for research and I did find I could write quite well while mixing it with doing research and being a tourist. I intend to be writing a few hours a day on average throughout this trip.
Research (and photo shoots): I’ve just about exhausted the notes I took from my first research trip to Denver, and the geographic scope of the Bite Back series has grown a lot. I actually meant to visit New Mexico and Los Angeles while I was writing Cool Hand and Angel Stakes, but it didn’t come off. So…this year I get to do the Rockies, north to south.
I have to visit the sites of the Confederation’s main packs: Wind River, Big Horn and Bozeman. I have to visit the equivalent sites for the League in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. I’ll do a side trip to Nevada to take in Humboldt-Toiyabe and Highway 50. And I’ll spend time based in Denver and looking around Colorado. All of the above are for research, but of course, I’ll be touring and hiking and taking photographs and meeting people as well.
The schedule is: 6th September to 18th September in Wyoming and Montana. Starting in Cheyenne, with the farthest north probably being Helena. I may cut through Idaho on the way back. If you have recommendations for spooky, strange or unusual photogenic places, or you’re in the general area at the same time, message me on the contact email or Facebook!
19th September to 30th September. I’m based in Denver. I’m already meeting a few friends and readers and would love to meet more. I will be full of strange questions about Colorado in general and Denver in particular.
1st October to 4th October. Nevada. Route 50 and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
5th October to 10th October. New Mexico. Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Route 14.
Back to Denver, fly to New York and then fly home, hopefully with head and laptop full of ideas, scenes and photos.
If it goes well enough, there’s lots more of America I want to see.
Editing Winter’s Kiss
Current top-of-the-pile project is editing Winter’s Kiss. This is a novella sequel to The Biting Cold, which follows a different set of characters than Bite Back. However, I did rashly promise to weave them together and this is part of the reason that Winter’s Kiss has been a difficult job. While many readers will be from Bite Back, I’m hoping some new readers will come in from having read only The Biting Cold. My task is then to give them enough of a flavor of what goes on in Bite Back to read the series as well.
I’m about half way through editing and I *really* want this finished before I go on the road trip.
Editing So Many Doors
This is a background project. The book was written by my late mother in 1964 and never published. My sister and I have decided to put it up on Amazon, but there’s a surprising amount of style change required to make it ‘readable’ to modern readers. The book is set in Africa, in Northern Rhodesia, on a remote Colonial administrative center and it’s a murder mystery.
Cast list and synopses
A long-promised project. I have a lot of characters, and I’m writing a brief description of each to put in the back of the Bite Back series books, along with a synopsis of the story so far.
Bian’s Tale book 1, Saigon – The Reach of Lies. I know, I should be in Saigon researching this! However, the Saigon I’m writing about is the ‘Paris of the Orient’ in 1900, and that doesn’t exist any more.
I got about half way through writing Saigon a couple of years and it wasn’t going well, so I put it aside. It’s time to get it back out and finish it.
Schedule for publication? You know me and schedules. I’ll post progress.
Bite Back 6, as yet unnamed. Obviously, this will be next year. I have lots of scenes and ideas and I hope to have more from my road trip.
I may try my hand at writing something short and completely different, just to keep everything fresh. If you have a genre you’d like to see me try (there’s a challenge), email me at the contact address or comment here.