2014 Accountability List: What Peter Plans on Writing

Back in January I sat down and wrote a plan. That plan, more or less, said this is the year when you write all of the things. Then I made myself a list, which broken down what all the things were in roughly the order I wanted to write them.

It was an ambitious-as-hell list of stuff. Full of hope and shiny, happy unicorn spit, pristine in its gleaming awesomeness.Full of novellas, weirdly enough, ‘cause that’s the way my year was rolling. I had a bunch of novellas that were due, for various reasons, so I figured I’d go with the flow.

Now we’re into April and the list of all the things has been beaten around a little, the schedule thrown off track by computer problems and work problems and that whole moving-into-a-new-house thing.

That’s okay. I expected things to fall apart. In fact, I even built in time where I’d use the beginning of April to regroup and re-plan my year, figuring out what was still goddamn viable. Apparently my dream of being a self-employed hermit who never emerges from my bunker is not viable within the coming 9 months.

On the other hand, I’m still moderately convinced that a sizable chunk of my writing wish-list is achievable. Partially this is because a certain percentage of it needs to be achievable, because of deadlines, and partially because I just feel the need to get a keyboard beneath my fingers and start pounding out stories until it feels natural again.

With that in mind, I give you my 2014 accountability list – the ten projects I’m more-or-less committing to getting done by the end of the year.

1) Exile

It’s written. It’s submitted. I’ve drunk the celebratory beer. But the editorial letter came through on the weekend, outlining a bunch of problems with the MS, which means I’m diving back into rewrites this week in order to get things done. I’ve got about four weeks to process the changes and rewrite the bits that need writing. I’m spending two of those four weeks packing and moving to my shiny new digs. If you see me out in the wild, it’s possible I’m looking a little manic at the moment. What’s the novella about? Your basic urban fantasy featuring burnt-out hit men, gambling demons, hippie sorcerers, and trying to stop the apocalypse

2) Long Night at the Black Wolf

A short, serialised sword and sorcery novelette about a bunch of characters trapped in a remote Inn by evil fey. This one fucking terrifies me as a writer, since it’s a) written in third person, b) my first real attempt at a project that ties in to an existing world, and c) lets me check off one of the goals on my writing bucket-list that I seriously figured I’d ever get a chance to tick off. I have a fairly detailed pitch document, a shit-ton of notes, and a self-imposed deadline of April 30th.

3) Frost 

Urban Fantasy Novella. The sequel to Exile. Occult hit-man Keith Murphy gets to deal with the fall-out of killing the man whose death could start Ragnarok. I’m due to turn this over to the Apocalypse Ink team on July 1st, which means it’s first cab off the rank once I’ve moved and set up a new writing space. Again with the occult hit men, demons and sorcerers, but this time they’ll have added bikies and Valkyries to keep me entertained.

4) Crusade

Yep, another Urban Fantasy Novella, following on from Exile and Frost. The deadline for turning this one over isn’t until November, but I’m aiming a little earlier than that. Not entirely planned out yet, but I’ll fix that while writing Frost in May. I’m still putting together a plan for this one, but as one of the few things on this list that have a hard deadline, it’s occupying plenty of mental space. 

5) Altered Pitch Document 

A few years back my friend Kevin got into voice acting in a big way. He’s done some cool stuff since then, including serving as the voice of Judge Dread for Tin Man Games. Sometime last year he pitched the idea of working together on the pitch for an animated series, which has slowly evolved into the Altered project. Super-powers. Creepy shit. Rogue government agencies doing massive amounts of property damage.

6) Claw

Also known as Miriam Aster, book three. No, really. Really. Shut up. I can hear you laughing back there. I am for real, here.

7) Hot for Teacher

It’s come to my attention, in recent years, that I quite like romance novels. I’ve got a particular weakness for the Regency period, since Georgette Heyer was my gateway drug, but I’ve found authors I really like all over the romance spectrum. A while back I was talking the great Van Halen era of hair metal with romance writers/editors online, and the kernel of a novella idea kinda plunked into the back of my head. Weirdly excited to give this a go (especially since getting it done means I can finally go read Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series, which I’ve promised myself I won’t read until this is done).

8) Untitled Planetary Romance Project I

Ambitious lady detective. On Mars. With her Mad Profesor father and a rotund ex-Colonel for back-up. Another one of those projects I’ve been meaning to write forever, but the writer-mind just wasn’t in-gear. Then I took the idea to Kim Wilkin’s Novelist Bootcamp workshop at the writers center earlier this year, banged out a fairly solid plan for the first half of the book, and figured it’d make a nice chance-of-pace project between the urban fantasy novellas that are making up the bulk of my year. 

9) Bad Wolf

A few weeks back, I picked up a copy of Death is No Obstacle, a collection of interviews with Michael Moorcock where he discusses the creation of several of his projects. He spends the first half of the book talking about structure a lot, and how his understanding of structure allowed him to do things like produce books in 3 to 10 days of furious writing with sufficient pre-planning. Later this year, when my schedule allowed it, I figured I’d take a week off work and give his approach a go with a genre where I know the structure really well (hard boiled detective stories) and werewolf tropes.

10) Space Bros! Project

This started as a joke with my flatmate, based on Mass Effect, where we envisioned a trio of Shepherd, Kaiden, and Garrus pissing about the universe, being kinda douche, and generally being awesome SPACE BROS! Then it occurred to me that I’d actually read the fuck out that story if it existed, and I’m actually in a position to make it exist. The sole thing on this list that doesn’t have any planning associated with it at all, but that should have changed by the time I get to work on it in December.

Writing Update: Exile

So last Tuesday I submitted Exile to Apocalypse Ink. It’s the first thing I’ve written and submitted in a long while, and a project that’s been plagued by interruptions and unexpected turns to boot, so it feels good to have gotten the file through more-or-less on time. Especially since the last time I was going to get the book sent off, about twelve hours ahead of deadline, I dropped my laptop and wiped out about 18,000 words of text I didn’t have backed up anywhere else.

The stupidity of that still stings a little.

On the other hand, the submission of Exile means I’ve officially set off the great-2014-write-a-thon-where-Peter-remembers-how-to-be-a-writer-and-things. One novella down, a little behind schedule. A whole crap-load of things to go before the year is done.

For instance, after I drank Mango beer to celebrate the Exile submission, then started work on the three short stories I have to get done in April in order to meet some deadlines. I did some planning on Frost and Crusade, the novellas I’m due to be turning over to the AI folks in July and November, respectively, in order to make up the full trilogy of books they contracted me for.

Then I went and signed the paperwork for my mortgage, ‘cause I finally found an apartment  that both looked spiffy enough to buy and passed through the approval processes I mentioned back in February.

My world, right now, is all writing and packing boxes, preparing to move in two weeks when the sale is finalised. ‘Course, once it’s done, I have my weekends back again, which means regular transmission will likely resume in May some time (basically, whenever the internet’s on after I move into the new Chez Ball).

 

And now we are thirty-seven…

As has become traditional, I’m posting the once-a-year Birthday selfie, because no birthday is complete until my parents ring me and complain about the things I put up on the internet. Except I’ve been doing this for seven years now, so I may have broken them of the habit. We’ll see.

image

And with that, my birthday celebrations are done for the year. Most of today will be spent at work, doing worky things, and starting the price negotiation process on an apartment I’m trying to buy so I can move and unpack all my books.

I forgot to mention it a few weeks back, but my story, The Seventeen Executions of Signore Don Vashta, is live over at the Daily Science Fiction website. You can go read it for free and stuff, if you’re so inclined.

Peeps Doing Cool Stuff: February 2014 Edition

Somewhere along the line, I got out of the habit of posting about peeps releasing cool stuff into the world. I’m not sure why, ’cause I got some pretty awesome peeps and they’re doing some very cool stuff, but my blogging habits are arbitrary these days despite my best intentions.

With that in mind, lets rectify this oversight, and allow me to recommend the following:

RAF_VOL9_ISS_3Review of Australian Fiction, Volume Nine, Issue Three

The concept behind the RAF is actually pretty cool – they grab an established writer, get them to pick an up-and-comer to work with, then produce an issue that features (generally) novella or novelette length work that would be hard to sell elsewhere.

This issue features the always impeccable prose of Angela Slatter as the established author, paired with emerging Brisbane fantasist Linda Brucesmith.

The upside of Angela publishing here is that I now know that RAF has finally abandoned the god-awful Book.ish ebook platform it used in its early days, so it’s actually become something I’ll subscribe to instead of purchasing as a one-off.

everything-is-a-graveyardEverything is a Graveyard, Jason Fischer

This is old news for the Australian SF fans who follow this blog, but for the gamer types who follow the blog and really liked Jason’s zombie novellas (and there are a few), I’m going to mention it: Everything is a Graveyard is Jason’s first short-story collection, brought out via Ticonderoga Publishing.

I haven’t picked up a copy yet, but I know Jason’s short fiction well enough to appreciate his off-beat blend of Australian themes, craziness, and off-beat world-building. Also, I’m off to Adelaide tomorrow, so I’m largely planning on picking up a copy while I’m in Jason’s home town, whereupon I shall track him down and force him to sign copies.

And badger him about the number of awful puns…

ASunsetFinish_200A Sunset Finish, Melinda Moore

I can argue that I’m fashionably late mentioning Jason’s collection, but there’s no excuses here: Melinda emailed me about her first novella getting released back in June of last year, and I’ve been meaning to offer public congratulations for…wow, eight months now.

I first got to know Melinda when we frequented the same gaming forum, way back in 2003 or so, and she frequently blew me away with short-stories she wrote for one of the semi-regular writing jams that happened there. Since then she’s been rocking it with a bunch of short story publications, and I’ve just loaded a copy of A Sunset Finish onto my kindle to read while I’m travelling over the next week.

WebThe Memory of Death: Death Works 4, Trent Jamieson

Trent Jamieson has just released the forth installment of his Death Works series, which is a very good thing. Mostly ’cause I like Trent, and it would be unfortunately if I had to kill him for leaving the series at the end of the third book, which was one of the most HOLY-SHIT-YOU-DID-NOT-JUST-FUCKING-DO-THAT-YOU-BASTARD-FUCK-FUCK-FUCK cliffhangers I’ve ever seen.

I would have killed him, too. I’m not a guy who takes things well when good narratives are left half-finished, and there was a very definite sense that Steven de Selby’s journey wasn’t done yet. Out now via Momentum Books, who are doing gorgeous stuff in the digital realm these days (I mean, hell, I love the cover of this book; I have mad cover envy), and worth picking up.

Everything is better with MODOK

Sometimes, when you bitch about your deadlines on twitter, you’re just an asshole bitching about your deadlines.

And sometimes, people will give you a new catchphrase, ’cause everything is better with some input from a mental organism designed only for killing:

MODOK SAYS WRITE YOUR BOOK

 

In other news, I’ve got seventeen days or so to get a workable draft of Exile ready to submit to Apocalypse Ink, and it’s still not ready, so i’d bet get back to things.

Jim Butcher on Scenes and Sequels

So I’ve been doing this writing thing for a while now. Eighteen years, more or less, once you factor in the time spent working on poetry, scripts, gaming stuff, an unfinished thesis, and stories as a collective whole.

I still go out and learn to do stuff.

And I still read stuff where I am thoroughly fucking schooled and have the way I think about writing turned on its head.

Case in point: this one-two combination from 2006 or so where Jim Butcher talks about Scenes (which is stuff I know) and Sequels to Scenes (which blew my writer-brain in no uncertain terms).

The sequel stuff feels like someone just sat down and wrote a short essay that basically says, “hey, you, short story writer, this is why you struggle with novels.”

Go forth and read it.