Tag Archives: writing discussion

#Authoring Annals – Writing in Heaven and Plunging into Uncertainty Hell… #BrainfluffblogAuthoringAnnals-1 #SJHigbeeWritinginHeaven


I’m conscious that over the last year, I’ve been writing a lot of reviews and not much else other than my weekly roundups. As you’ll see from the subtitle of the blog, the original intention was to provide more variety – and as I am not only a keen reader and reviewer, but also a writer of science fiction and fantasy as well as a Creative Writing tutor at Brighton Metropolitan College, I think it’s high time I wrote a bit more about my other activities.

At the end of last month, my sister-in-law booked a seaside flat as a writing getaway and invited me to join her, as there was a spare bedroom. I’d never been to Bexhill-on-Sea before, despite it being not all that far along the coast. I joined her on Bank Holiday Monday, expecting the town to be heaving with holidaymakers keen to catch the last of the glorious summer by the sea. However, it wasn’t all that busy. While there were certainly tourists around, overall this town had a peaceful serenity that seemed more in keeping with the early half of the last century, to the extent that the two of us felt perfectly safe wandering around the streets on our own late at night.

As for the flat, it was fabulous. The highlight was the room we ended up writing in – a hexagonal room with views on every wall, so that as we wrote, we had panoramic views of the sea. It was magical – it’s always been on my bucket list to write in a room overlooking the sea. And here I was! I managed to get 16,000 words written on the second book of my trilogy featuring my telepathic alien, Vrox. I rewrote and edited the first book, Mantivore Dreams, earlier in the year and was delighted at how smoothly it went.

When I started the second book, Mantivore Prey, I was confident that it, too, would give me no trouble. I was wrong… I love my main character, Felina Keeper. She is in charge of keeping the village’s produce safe from hungry pests, thieving individuals and selling on anything left over from the quota set by The Council for much-needed cash. The village is perched on the edge of The Arids, where rainfall is scarce and the heat of the two suns is fierce. Trouble is, Felina, who is loud, bossy and very overbearing has marched in and taken over the novel. The plotting and pacing have been stomped flat under those hobnailed sandals of hers and I need to nip in quick when she isn’t looking and wrest control back.

Kyrillia, who is the main protagonist in the first book, needs to get a look in, I think. So, I’ll have to go back to the drawing board and start this one again… I’d love to be one of those indie authors who can happily write two books plus a year, but right now it seems a distant dream. I’m hoping that I can use some of those words I wrote while staying at Bexhill – it was such a happy, creative time. But if not, then I’ll chalk this one up to experience. Favourite characters need to kept on a very short leash!

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – June Roundup


Well, we’re now halfway through the year, so how is the strategy holding up? The one – conceived with Mhairi Simpson at stupid o’clock and fuelled by FAR too much strong tea – of working towards insanely ambitious targets in the hopes that I’ll achieve more than if I’d set sensible goals? Patchy, I’d say… Right now I could do with a clone to watch the tennis while I write – or polish off a few chapters while I do the Wimbledon bit.

• I’m still working on Breathing Space, although it isn’t progressing as fast as I’d like… Slow and steady is characterising my writing at present, which isn’t really how I generally produce my first drafts. But this is unknown territory – I know most of the plotpoints and narrative arc in this particular book, whereas normally that all unfurls as I write. My battles to recapture Jezell’s voice are more or less over – I feel I’m back inside her skin now. But she still wants to natter away and tell all to her audience, rather than show them what happened. If I am to hit my target of having the first draft completed by the end of August, I’m really going to have to put my foot to the floor this month and get at least 10 chapters finished.
Challenge – Have first draft of Breathing Space completed by the end of August. In progress and still just about doable.

• I was doing quite well with the blog, until Wimbledon interrupted… It turns out that I cannot watch tennis AND write at the same moontime. Which I’d established before, but it didn’t do any harm in checking. So I need to get it back on track as August is going to be another iffy month with a lot of family stuff going on. But the Challenge I merely threw in just for the Hell of it and without any intention of working particularly hard to achieve is the one that is still rolling forward, absolutely on target, as I’ve written 10 reviews this month…
Challenge – To write and publish 100 reviews on my blog during 2014. Comfortably on target as I’ve completed 64 reviews so far this year.

• Sorry Mike – I’d written about half of Chapter 21 for Chaos in New Cluster, our team-writing project of producing a post-apocalyptic science fiction rom-com, before my annual teaching observation at Northbrook sideswiped me. Will make it a priority in July!
Challenge – To complete Chaos in New Cluster by the end of the year. On target – just about…

• I’ve now completed this year’s Creative Writing course at Northbrook College, which was, as ever, enjoyable and stimulating with great students. There is now a long break until we resume in the third week of September, but as both my courses are already full for the autumn term, I need to get cracking on writing the course notes for How To Write Mood Music and tidy up the last few administrative tasks for the 2013/14 academic year.
Challenge – To write the course notes for next term – not yet started.

• As for the pesky target about submitting my unsold short fiction and poems? Nope – haven’t got to grips with that one yet. BUT I do have the timeslots free when I normally am teaching, so I’ve decided to use that time towards browsing/preparing/submitting work. Watch this space…
Challenge – To submit all my unsold short fiction and poems – dismally failed to date.

Another up and down month. I’ve written 17,000 words on Breathing Space – a fair proportion of those haven’t made it into the first draft as I’ve been junking all Jezell’s rants and looong explanations about stuff the reader doesn’t need to know yet, while writing myself back inside her skin. The reviews for my blog ran to another 10,000 words during June and Northbrook admin for my Creative Writing summer term contributed another 5,000 words, taking my monthly total to 32,000 and my yearly total to date to 145,000 words. Hm… need to get cracking if I’m going to get within sniffing distance to some of those targets!