A post on why I’m not posting that often

It’s October. And that, as everyone paying attention to their nearest supermarket’s seasonal items aisle since August knows, means Halloween is nigh. And in order to capitalise on this, I – as a writer of horror stories – should obviously be dedicating time and effort into some sort of month long programme of themed blog posts, book giveaways and a general glut of content across my social media presence.

At least I assume this is the case, based on how everyone else seems to be responding to this time of year. But I’m not, and there’s a reason for it. And it’s also the same reason I don’t post on here as often as I could. Allow me to elaborate.

I would love to post more on here. I really would. I want to spend time threading my way through Twitter holding multiple conversations across the world. I want to curate material on my Facebook Page that both interests, amuses and terrifies. I want to keep a regular schedule of interesting posts here on my blog for you all to read. But I also want to work on my actual writing, and I have almost all of my day taken up with either my day job or “grown up stuff” (meaning feeding myself, paying bills, preventing my house becoming a tip, etc.). There is a finite amount of time in the day and until we get those pills that allow us to go without sleep I simply have to make the most of the time I actually have.

There do appear to be people who manage to post all the time, but if I look closer, what do I see? Well in 95% of cases all I see are hundreds of people all yelling the same thing into the vast echo-chamber that is the internet.

I don’t want to be one of those people.

There are so many folk out there in the world trying to get noticed and establish themselves as the latest independent writing sensation. All of them have read the same tips and advise on how to do this as I have. They’ve been told they need a social media presence, to post regularly to build an audience, to generate hits, to connect with people. But the problem is that the more people that there are doing this the less effective these actions become. It’s overwhelming.

I fully admit that having a regular and/or frequent posting schedule would be a good thing. However, what’s more important is to post things of quality. Over the last couple of years I’ve starting following so many people online only to stop a few days later as they clog up my feed with so many repetitive posts and comments that it’s impossible to find anything interesting, let alone engage with any of it. I’m not trying to sound like snob or imply that I’m better than anyone who manages to post more often than me. I’m just saying that I think less quality is better than more mediocrity.

Essentially, in my eyes at least, posting hundreds of things online for the sake of posting something is about as useful as publishing a single short story on Amazon every couple of days so that you have a large back catalogue. You might create a huge online presence, but none of it is going to be any good for you. If I have nothing interesting to say, why should I say it?

I don’t want to be one more wannabe desperately shouting into the void for a sliver of the world’s attention. I don’t want people Following me just to repost what I’ve reposted from someone else’s repost. I don’t want to participate in Like for Like schemes. I don’t want to throw out hastily written 100 word blog posts every day that say absolutely nothing. I don’t want to comment on another person’s blog in the desperate hope saying “I like this post” will somehow equate to greater book sales.

I want to post when I have an interesting idea I want to develop. I want to post when I have news that I want to share with you all. I want to post when I’ve discovered something I honestly feel needs to be seen by more people. I want to feel that the people who Follow me do so because they share my interests and enjoy my work.

This is why I don’t post as often as I would like. If I didn’t have a day-job I would definitely put more up here because I would have more time to think up ideas and then develop them into something worth reading. As it is, I hope you don’t mind the sporadic schedule I am able to maintain, and that the work I actually post is worth reading.

Obviously this post is obviously inspired by the vast number of book-giveaways and blog posts and half-finished short stories I’m currently seeing strewn across internet forums, but I’m not saying the practice is necessarily bad. Just do it right. Plan ahead and think about what you want to do, and then do it well. It all harks back to that central point of the aspiring writing: it’s got to look professional.

But speaking of people doing the Halloween build up right, my friend Christopher Brosnahan has been undertaking something called #octoberphobia. Throughout October he has been posting short pieces of flash fiction, each themes around a separate phobia. Go ahead and have a read if you’re looking for some effective little horror stories this October. Then if you like them, maybe buy one of his books. They’re really quite good.

In which I tell a tale of courage and valour

Gather around, all ye folks, and I shall recount to you a tale. An epic story of man’s battle with the darker side of nature. A battle in which a mighty hunter and his fierce animal companion fought one of the most dangerous and terror-inspiring creatures that has ever roamed this earth!

It began in the early hours of the day. Our hero was lounging at rest after a full and hearty breakfast. His companion, a mighty black panther, prowled restlessly nearby. Suddenly the calm of the morning was broken by a scream, shrill and high. A fair maiden was in peril!

Instantly they were alert, charging upstairs towards the sound. It took but seconds before they had come upon the scene. What terror they beheld! What devastation! What horror! For the maiden was indeed in greatest peril! Somehow the guards and barriers of civilisation had fallen, and a thing of death had forced its way into these hallowed grounds. A thing of shadow. The ancient fears of night made flesh. An evil so great that brave men and women have been known to collapse helpless in terror at the mere sight of such a beast.

A house spider!

Several feet high it stood. Venom dripped from jagged mandibles. The blood of fallen prey smeared its features. Truly, this was a thing of nightmare!

An artist's rendition of the confrontation

An artist’s rendition of the confrontation

Without thought, our hero and his companion threw themselves into the fray. The cat, mightiest of its kind, was upon it in a heartbeat. Her heavy paws crashed down onto hardened carapace. Her claws raked down thick, hairy flesh. Her yowls echoed across the lands so that none for miles around would not know battle was joined!

The creature of shadow and terror fell back at this onslaught. Never could it have faced such a foe before. Long, branchlike legs skittered backwards, its jaws clashing together in a futile attempt to fend off its attacker. Ichor dripped from the many wounds it had taken. Yet still it stood a most fearsome horror.

And in this time our hero set his plan. For skill in battle was not his only weapon, but a mind so cunning it could only have been forged by the gods themselves. As his companion distracted the spider, he set his trap. A drinking glass, carefully placed in such a way to ensnare the creature.

As the spider made its final attempt to turn and run our hero found himself face to face with a creature spawned from hell itself. His features were reflected in hundreds and black eyes, and in those eyes he saw destruction and he saw death.

But before the hellspawn could pounce, our hero grasped hold of it and with mighty arms flung it into the waiting trap! Down it came, that thick glass dome. The battle was over. The creature overcome.

As our hero reassured the fair damsel of her safety his animal companion stalked the glass, beating at the sides to taunt their fallen foe. Now the time had come for our hero to set about disposing of the beast. Using his vast powers he opened a great portal: the bedroom window. Then, as the winds buffeted and blew about him, he flung the creature’s dark and midnight form into the void beyond!

His lands, once again, were safe.

Our hero and his mighty animal companion. Warriors and Saviours

Our hero and his mighty animal companion.
Warriors and Saviours

Here ends my epic tale of heroism. Rarely are such tales told.

(While this story actually happened, some details may have been embellished for dramatic effect)

Why I’m glad there hasn’t been a Black Widow movie… yet

Before I get down to the main topic of this post I want to make one thing clear. I am going to discuss a topic related to gender inequality in cinema. While I have read and reread it before posting in an attempt to ensure that I haven’t said anything that means something other than I think it does, that doesn’t mean I won’t say something inadvertently stupid or offensive.

So, just to be clear, I am in no way intending to defend Marvel Studios’ obvious issues with gender equality. There is a whole ream of blog posts to be written on Marvel’s failure to address the cultural hangover of their 1960’s heritage. The fact that it will be an entire decade over the MCU’s existence (1) before they release a movie with a solo female lead is ridiculous, and the state the merchandising is in would be funny if it wasn’t so depressingly sad.

So please forgive me if I inadvertently say anything that sounds like I am defending them on this. That is not my intention.

In the “geek” community there is currently a lot of anger surrounding the way woman are being depicted in comics. Both in written and cinematic form it is obvious that gender balance issues still exist. As I stated above, I’m not going to attempt to go into too much detail about this, because (a) I know more intelligent people than me are putting it a lot better than I would, and (b) I’d inevitably say something that means something other than what I meant.

What I want to discuss today revolves around one of the more prominent focus points of this argument; that fact that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe there has yet to be a female lead solo movie, and that the most prominent female character in the series, Natasha Romanov, the Black Widow, has been repeatedly relegated to a supporting role

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But here’s the thing. I’m glad she hasn’t had her own movie, because without one she has become the most interesting character in the MCU.

I personally believe that Black Widow has had – possibly inadvertently – the best character development in the entire series. One thing Marvel has done well with their secondary characters in the MCU – and yes, at this point I wouldn’t call her secondary, but let us for now assume “secondary” means that they haven’t had their own movie – is develop them across multiple movies. I have always been a fan of reoccurring background characters. The ones who aren’t part of the main plot but appear throughout a series. It gives a story a sense of continuity. A feel that the world carries on while the heroes are busy doing their thing (2). Part of the reason the MCU came together so well was characters like Natasha Romanov, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson (3), and Maria Hill brought everything together. It wasn’t just the ‘Big Three’: Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, each working with interchangeable, faceless extras. They were part of a world that existed independently from them.

And some secondary characters grow to be come more prominent. Not all, but Natasha was one that did, until she was one of the main characters in the first Avengers movie. And that slow development – spread out over time rather than dumped on us in one go – has allowed her a layer of mystery the others are lacking. The Big Three Avengers are clear cut characters. They may have layers and development, and the actors do a great job of making them three dimensional, but we always know who and what they are. There is no mystery to them. Romanov isn’t like that. She’s not a celebrity, soldier, or god. She’s a spy. An enigma. Her entire life has been about deception. Whatever the situation has needed, that’s who she has become. Her scenes with Bruce Banner in Age of Ultron were probably the first time the audience have seen her completely honest and bare. We’ve slowly learned snatches of her history, but no more than that.

Then there is the fact that she isn’t really a “super” hero. Rather than gaining her abilities through some accident of birth or genius, she will have spent a life time training to become who she is. She’s not a demigod. She doesn’t focus on her own problems and adventures over anything else. She’s not so powerful that it’s impossible for her not to be the centre of the world around her. She goes where she’s needed, doing what’s needed to do.

And that leads to the fact that she is one of only two Avengers with no powers (4). Damage or injury that the others would shake off without thinking would kill Romanov or Hawkeye. But she keeps up with them. She chooses to keep up with them. No one would think less of her for letting the actual “super” members of the team take them lead, and than follow to mop up after them. What sort of person is she that she doesn’t?

And for one last point – and I know some people will disagree with me on this – I feel it’s important to recognise that she’s never been anyone’s sidekick. In Iron Man 2 she turns up as a spy, completely showing up everyone who underestimate her because they couldn’t see past her appearance. In Captain American: Winter Soldier Steve Rogers only succeeds because she is there at times to take the lead. She’s doing her job, which involves working with the others. She’s not working for them.

Remember, Black Widow was originally a bad guy. Assuming that they are keeping that back story – and I think that’s a safe assumption from what we’ve seen – she was a killer for the KGB. An assassin. She has red in her ledger. She was offered a second chance, and now does what she does now in an attempt to make up for her past actions. She doesn’t believe that she deserves to ever get to quit and live happily ever after.

As I said earlier, Black Widow is the most interesting character in the entire MCU.

It boils down to this: unlike with the other characters, as an audience we have had have to fill in the gaps in her story ourselves. We’ve had to use our imaginations to build up a picture of who she is from the little we’ve seen. With each appearance we see a little more, and build up our own personal interpretation of her backstory. It’s that interaction with the character that make her who she is. If we had been given a solo movie too soon, I don’t know if this would have been handled so well.

But I do have to say that this doesn’t let Marvel off the hook. I argue that her slow buildup made her a better character. That having her own film would have ruined this. However this is (a) no excuse for not introducing another female lead, and (b) no longer the case.

I can understand how the MCU ‘Phase 1’ was focused on the three main – male – heroes. They were the tentpoles of the franchise. I can forgive them that. But there was no excuse for not bringing one in for ‘Phase 2’. There is no excuse for waiting until the end of ‘Phase 3’ before we get Captain Marvel, or indeed develop Black Widow into her own story.

And now the mystique is established, Black Widow could easily slip fully formed into her own movie. We now have enough of an idea of her that we want to see more, not because we want a female lead movie on principle, but because the character calls for it. In the correct hands, with a writer and director who understand who to handle the character and don’t simply try to shoehorn her into an cut and paste action adventure, it could be amazing. It needs to be a spy thriller. Captain America: Winter Soldier showed Marvel that their fans can enjoy an action move tinted with political intrigue. A Black Widow movie with just be one step further along that road. It needs to answer some questions while leaving more open. Think of how Wolverine’s story was left at the end of Xmen 2. We knew more than we did, but there was so many more questions left unanswered. The answers we had were satisfying, but the character was still left with some mystery (5). The moment they simply decide to spell her out, the character would be ruined.

Actually, I don’t want her to have a movie. I want her to have a series, a la Agent Carter. And it should be on Netflix so it can be dark and gritty. Marvel have shown that can get the perfect mix of dark and fun with Daredevil. She needs story and character development, not just a series of fights and explosions.

The fan base is ready for it. There's a story to be told.

The fan base is ready for it. There’s a story to be told.

So come on, Marvel. All the elements are there. Time to make up for your lack of care with your female characters. Make it up to up with something awesome.

1 I mean since Iron Man. I’m not counting to two original Hulk movies because, well, who does?

2 Wedge Antillies is the best character in the original Star Wars trilogy. Why does not one else see this? Come on, he survives both Death Star runs!

3 Who should have stayed dead. People disagree. They are wrong. There will possibly be a future post on this.

4 I’m counting super genius and a metal suit that turns you into a superman as a “power” here. Go with it.

5 Xmen: The Last Stand and Xmen Origins: Wolverine DID NOT HAPPEN! Why do people labour under this delusion?

Find me on Social Media

Hello all. I just wanted to give you all a quick round up of where you can find me on social media. 

First off is my Facebook Page. You’ll find all my updates posted here, along with links to any other posts or articles I find interesting. I’ll also occasionally recommend films, books or television I discover and feel are worth sharing. 

On Twitter I’m @tomhbrand. My Twitter account has a slightly more varied theme than the rest of my social media presence. While I try to keep most of my social media presence focused on writing and publishing, rather than any old thing that comes into my mind, on Twitter I’ll post things of a more diverse nature. You’ll find post on politics, art, or links to random stuff that I simply found amusing. 

My Tumblr account is thomashbrand. For the more artistic of you, I post horror and reading imagery, as well as links back to this blog. Tumblr tends to be my go to site when I’m just killing time. If I’ve got a few minutes to kill I can just fire up my Kindle and browse Tumblr. I know there are a lot of people sharing deep, meaningful information. I kind of just use it to bum around. 

You can also find me on Goodreads.com. Add me as a friend to keep up with what I’m reading, as well as what I think of it. Add my work, ask me a question, or give me a rating or a review. I’d love to see more opinions from all of you.

I’m also on Instagram, but it’s more of a personal account. Not so much about my work, but just pictures from my life. You’re all more than welcome to pop over and have a look if you’re interested in seeing a little of the everyday. 

So come along and say hi. I’m always up for answering questions or just saying hello. I’m always interested in meeting new people online, either fans of my work or who simply share the same interests as me. I love discovering new things, events, images or writers through my friends.

Come along and say hi.

The selection of gender

How do you go about choosing a character’s gender? Is it the same as something like their name, height, or hair colour and a just a choice for the writer to make? Or it is more intrinsically linked with the nature of a particular story?

One of the many points of discussion that has sprung up in the current cultural debate about gender politics in society has been how there are so few “strong female characters” in our media. I’m not going to go into detail about the deeper issues here. There has been plenty written and discussed online already – to varying degrees of vitriol – but I want to address this particular issue that is unavoidably interwoven with any creative media. Like it or not we come from a traditionally patriarchal society, and thusly our storytelling traditions have been very much filtered through that ideology; men are the protagonists in life, with women at best secondary or at worst totally sidelined. As Joss Whedon famously pointed out, until we reach the point where strong female characters are no longer highlighted as different from the norm we will remain in an unbalanced media.

There are many reasons for this. Some of it is, of course, straightforward misogyny. The recent #GamerGate scandal has highlighted how much of that lingers around certain types of people. But as vocal as this segment can be it is not one that has an overtly active role in the real media. And yes, while I understand that many people have been seen to pander to this demographic I refuse to believe that entire industries have purposely developed around this kind of mindset.

No, the larger part of this issue has been blindness. Time and time against I have read interviews with men in the media who have told the same tale; unique to them but telling the same story where they were made to suddenly realise they had been perpetuating the gender divide without even realising it. They had never considered themselves as marginalising women. They were merely part of an established system that did so on such an ingrained level they could not see it for the trees.

This issue is an endemic one, but one that is slowly being swept aside. Mainly due to the actions of a few very strong and impressive role-models who have made a stand rather than allow themselves to work within a broken system, facing the far too often vitriolic nature of certain areas of “internet culture”. I honestly feel that today writers and media creators are far more aware of gender in their work than in any time in recent history. The issue is not going to fixed overnight, no social injustice ever is, but it has been set on the right path.

So, as a writer, how much do you need to worry about this? How much do you need to actively plan your work to help bridge the divide when it comes to female characters?

When I was nearing the end of The Serpent’s Eye I began to worry. I realised that I had written a book that hit all the traditional tropes of the old system without thinking; I had one single male protagonist, and all the female characters were viewed through the filter of his viewpoint. Did that mean I had written a bad story? Did it mean I was one of the many people perpetuating the gender imbalance through not paying attention?

No, I don’t think I was. Not everything needs to pass the Bechdel test. More things need to of course – in fact most things should – but the important question here was could I justify my choices for the good of the story?

And yes, I think I can. The story I had come up with involved somebody traveling aboard to deal with a serious of legal issues for a prominent family in the nineteenth century. Would there have been any female lawyers at that time? And if so would they be hired for such a job by an ancient and traditional noble family? For all the thousands of ways I could have created a female protagonist and worked them into the story, this would not have worked for the level of simple realism I wanted to achieve.

I know there are stories that can be told where the gender of the characters will not have one single effect on the plot. It is just that I believe these are as rare a chickens teeth.

The simple fact is, as much as we may not realise it, interpretation of gender plays a massive part in our lives. Everyday we are making thousands of snap judgements about the people we pass in the street based on age, appearance, clothing, attitude and hundreds of other tiny unnoticeable triggers. We don’t even notice we are doing it until we think about it. It is impossible to get to know someone without spending time learning who they are, and so our minds learn shortcuts based on what we can take in quickly so we can make a snap judgement of how they might act based on our previous experiences. These shortcuts are filtered and developed through the societal norms of a culture with thousands of years of momentum. We may try to be gender-blind, or colour-blind, or any kind of prejudice-blind, but it is simply not psychologically possible. It can take years to get to know someone personally, and until then, and even after, all our thoughts and interactions with them will be interpreted using the preconceived ideas that are simply so ingrained into who we are that we don’t realise they exist.

A good writer cannot simply spell out everything about a character, and so has to make use of their reader’s prejudices and assumptions to fill in the blanks. This is a tool that needs to be carefully used. Whether you want the reader to fill in the blanks in a character’s background, or to throw the reader by playing with their assumptions, the first stage is understanding how a reader will initially flesh out the character in their first scene.

These subconscious interpretations can have a profound effect on a story. The writer Brandon Sanderson has said how in earlier drafts of the first Mistborn novel the main character, Vin, was originally a boy. However he felt the tone of the story wasn’t sitting right but he couldn’t put his finger on why. Then he decided to change Vin to a girl and everything fell into place. The story needed a female protagonist, as the character dynamics simply were not working otherwise.

In Nice or Naughty – <shamelessplug> Available to read now in Dark Holidays, an anthology from Dark Skull Publications </shamelessplug> – the protagonist is a young girl with a little brother. Had I swapped the genders around it would not have altered the plot in any way, but the feel of the story and the reader’s relationship with the character would have changed significantly. Most people will have a very different preconception of a young girl’s attitudes towards her little brother than those of a young boy towards his little sister. You never meet the brother in person, he is only discussed, but that relationship is vital to the story and I can’t afford to bore the reader with a page and a half spent spelling out their relationship. Rather than do that I used what I feel will be the reader’s preconceptions and then subtly nudge them at the correct points to give the impression of the children’s relationship.

Now I don’t believe for a moment that, at this stage of my career, my work is going to have any affect in the greater debate on this issue, but also I don’t want to be seen as simply one more white male writer creating white male characters. What I do want is to create stories with a variety of characters and types, and this will sometimes mean developing a story about the character. Sometimes I will have to create male characters, if the story requires it, but at least I am aware that this is not the only option. I know that I need to develop stories to fit around female characters – and in the greater scheme of things also characters of different races and cultures – rather than let my stories grow around lazy writing. To make sure I push myself as a writer.

In the end my choice was not one of which gender I felt like writing, but which gender better fit the character and story.

Getting back to it

One of the most basic tenets of time management in your personal life, which I have heard mentioned in more than one writers “How To” guide, is: “You always have the time. You’re just using it badly.”

The idea is that if you find you don’t have time for something, in this case writing, then you have to look at your life and see what you are doing with that time instead. There are things you have to do; eat, work (if you have a real life job), look after children (if you have any), etc. The rest is free time.* So if you don’t have time to write, what are you doing with your time instead? Are you not getting writing done because you are always playing computer games? Then cut out playing computer games. Are you not getting writing done because you spend all evening with your family? Bite the bullet and put aside half an hour every evening or morning to write, no matter what.

I’m not saying it’s always easy. It all comes down to how much you want to write, and how much you are prepared to give up to do it.

And this is what I’ve had to face for the last few weeks. I have had other temporary commitments. In June, Purple Theatre Company put on their production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, and I was Stage Managing. This meant that for the last few weeks more and more of my time was taken up with planning. I had set to design, and costumes to find, and so many other things to sort and arrange. And time I spent planning on the show, I couldn’t spend writing.

Now this has been causing me some distress. I wanted to write, but had a commitment I had to fill. I wanted to be part of this show. It’s not like anyone forced me to do it. But that meant writing took a back seat and I had very little free time left. What writing I could get in had to be on my main project, finishing The Serpent’s Eye, and so short stories and blog posts took a back seat.

But now I’m free. The show is over. This means that a huge section of my time has been freed up again! Writing is once more my pastime of choice, and I am able to take the time to face what I have in the pipeline.

I have short stories that need finishing. I have one story I was writing for a specific submission deadline, which I ended up missing. But I love the story and feel it will fit in most places. Once I get it polished up I can start to submit it around, and hopefully you’ll all get to read it soon.

I also have two stories for the Æther Collection that need finishing, and a third in my head ready for a first draft. I’ve let the Collection slide as a priority, and I’m angry at myself for that. I meant to have it completed by now, but let it sit on the back burner. I mean to fix this. I now have more time, and my main project, on which most of my time has been spent recently, is now complete and I am free to work on other things.

That’s right, The Serpent’s Eye is finished, finally coming in at 42,590 words. Now I am in the stages of making sure it is all formatted correctly and setting up the methods people will have to buy it.

And let me tell you, formatting this thing was no easy job. Scrivener is an amazing programme and has made the process so much easier, but it’s still something I’ve never had to do before. It’s taken a frustrating amount of trial and error to get it right.

But more on that soon. I am determined to get the ebook on sale before the end of the month, at the latest. Keep your eyes open.

So that’s where I’ve been. I will keep this blog updated more often from now on. I promise.

 
*If you can examine your life and in all honesty say you have no free time, and that everything you do between waking and sleeping is essential, then you have issues that may need addressing. Everyone needs free time.

Working hard, or hardly wor… no, definately working hard

So yes, there’s been a bit of lapse between posts. Sorry about that. I really don’t like leaving so long between updates, but sometimes life gets busy.

The main reason I’ve been this lax is that I’ve got a new day job. I’m not complaining. As much as I enjoy getting to write full time, until I can start earning proper money through doing so I need a dayjob. And this one is great, and so if I can’t be writing full time I’m glad I’m doing this instead of some terrible wage slavery.

However is does mean that the amount of time I have for writing has plummeted. From as much time a day as I wanted, I now have little more than an hour a day. And that’s if I don’t have something come up that takes up my lunch break.

So what does that mean for my current plans. Well, I’m definitely not going to stop writing. I’m still going to be working on The Æther Collection. I fully intend to finish that collection, but there will be a longer gap between them now. I have one story waiting for a final draft, and another two all planned out in my head. They will come, but currently they are on the back burner.

The reason for this is that I’m currently working on the latest draft of The Serpent’s Eye. My last alpha-reader got back to me with some very interesting notes that have lead me to do a little bit of rewriting. It’s not a massive change, just smoothing out a couple of points to make the story flow a little more organically. And it has meant breaking up some sections and reordering them. This has meant more effort and restructuring than I was planning at this stage, but it’s all worth it. Before, when I was writing full time, I probably could have got it all done in a week, two at the outside. Now it’s taking a little longer.

And of course this means that there are fewer updates coming up onto the website. I’m looking forward to working on short stories again. With my truncated writing hours, the short story format is a very appealing form to me right now. Shorter work means it gets done sooner, and I can post more updates.

But the novella is my main focus right now. I really want to get this out in the next couple of months. My sister has put together an amazing cover design, and I’m excited about having it in its finished form and getting it out there.

But things can’t be rushed. There is no point in sending stuff out before it’s ready. There are so many terrible, half finished books being self-published these days, and I refuse to let myself join the ranks of wannabe authors with no quality control.

So my apologies for the delays, and please keep reading.

Where I’ve Been

So it’s been a little while since I’ve updated. OK, a long while. I’m sorry. I really didn’t want that to happen, I wanted to make sure I always posted something new at least once a week. This ambition hasn’t quite worked.

The thing is, there is only ever a certain amount of time in the day and I have to be honest with myself about how best to spend it.

I heard a valuable piece of advice once; If you think there isn’t ever enough time in the day to get something done, you are wrong; you just spent that time doing something else.

This was phrased as a piece of advice for writers with real lives and jobs that got in the way of their writing dreams. Essentially, if you find you don’t have time to write, then you need to make time by cutting out something else. If you need to cut out computer games or television time, then so be it. If you find you need to cut out family time then that might be harder, but you have to decide how much you want to write.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I have a reason I haven’t posted in a while. I have various projects I’m working on, as well as real life, and I have been dedicating my writing time on these, rather than the blog.

So what am I working on. It’s probably only polite to tell you.

My main project over the last couple of months has been my novella; The Serpent’s Eye. I’ve been working on this for about six months now, and I’ve got to the point where I’m sending it out to Alpha Readers to get outside opinions. But at the point when I last posted, I decided to concentrate my time on pushing out the latest draft. I didn’t want to spread out my time on various projects for a while.

Hopefully I’ll get the final draft done by the end of this year. I’m looking to e-publish this one myself, rather than attempt to go the traditional route. I wasn’t confident to do this with The Breaking Land as it was such a big project, but with the smaller scale of The Serpent’s Eye I am more confident of judging the final quality myself. I will post updates as I go.

My other current project is a selection of short stories, which I’m tentatively entitling The Æther Collection. It’s a collection of horror tales, with a slight sci-fi twist, based around the central theme of the fictional element of æther. I say fictional; there were various different ideas of what æther was in classical science. What I have done is take various ideas I’ve found and formed them into something to play with. I’ve been having great fun with this, and so it kind of distracted me from blogging for a while.

My plan for these is to get them put up on here, and then published as a collection once they’re all done. I’m aiming to try and get at least one story completed a month. Hopefully this a self imposed deadline will stop the project slowing or faltering. The first couple of stories will likely go up soon, so keep checking in.

I also have real life issues to deal with. As much as I enjoy writing, until it can support me financially I have to find a job, and so that search has had to occupy me. There are also some health issues occurring in my family right now, and so sometimes I just don’t have the energy to expand into writing

But I am going to try and be less rubbish in the immediate future. I will try to keep people updated, and to start posting more regularly.