That Writing Life

I’m on holiday from The Day Job this week, and since I’m feeling a rare sense of pride in my writing (The Royal Sentinel is currently #340 in Fantasy on Wattpad, so yay!) I’ve decided to use the time to take a good crack at Down From The Tower.

I’d made some good headway a few months back, but due to my main character, Mandisa, accidentally morphing way too much into Naomi, I decided to start over again. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Naomi, but I wanted to write a very different sort of leading lady this time. Mandisa is practically Naomi’s opposite in almost every way. Best way to describe it is that Mandisa is the Elle Woods to Naomi’s Katniss Everdeen. It’s a fairly hefty change of pace for me, especially when you consider that I’ve been writing Naomi almost exclusively for the last six years, but it’s been the sort of super fun challenge that makes being a writer worthwhile, I feel.

One of the things I was pulled up for doing badly on when writing The Redwood War series was the bland world-building, so I put a lot more thought and effort into that with Down From The Tower. I doubt I’ll ever be at the Brandon Sanderson level of epic world-building, but I’m proud of what I have so far. It pains me a little to compliment myself (but I’m going to power through it anyway) but I feel like my strongest area will always be writing compelling characters, and honestly that’s just fine with me. Still, I always want to improve at what I do, and I’d like to hope that I’ll be showcasing at least a little of that with this project.

Also I always felt fairly bad for having more male than female characters in The Redwood Rebel (something I was able to fix really quite easily in The Royal Sentinel) so I’m not going to fall into that same trap again this time. It’s far too easy to trip over these tropes, even as someone who is fairly thoughtful about the media I consume and put out into the world, so I’m determined to be a lot more mindful in future. Once again, I hope it’s something that shows in my work.

Down From The Tower is currently only planned to be a short novel of around 50k words, and depending on its reception, may or may not become a series in the future. It’s been a really long time since I last sank my teeth into writing a big project, the last year or so having been entirely about editing The Redwood War series, and writing poems and poetic prose. I’m nervous about it, but I’ve been doing this long enough now that I know the only way to get past that fear is to just barrel straight through it. The feedback I initially had for The Redwood Rebel really knocked me back hard, and it’s honestly taken me this long just to build myself back up to the point where I feel ready to have a pop at traditional publishing again. That’s my plan for this project, at least, so I guess we’ll just have to see where it takes me.

In the end, it may work out or it may not, but I tried giving up and I found it was much harder than trying to succeed ever was.

For now I’m just throwing down words and powering through this first draft. Once that’s done, my plan is to knuckle down with book three of The Redwood War series (working title: TDC) until I have something resembling a draft I can feel at least semi-confident to send out for beta-reading. I’ll swap and switch between the two projects until they’re done, and who knows? Maybe in a year from now I’ll just be that much closer to being the writer I want to be.

Wish me luck!

“The Royal Sentinel” and Some Lorna Stuff:

So it’s finally done! All of The Royal Sentinel is up on Wattpad to be read and/or ignored as people see fit!

I had planned to keep posting a chapter a week until it was all published, but that didn’t really work out the way I’d hoped. Frankly, I’m not a terribly patient person at the best of times, and just between us (and anyone else who should happen to stumble across my wee corner of the internet) I have very little impulse control. The long and short of that is when I get struck by the urge to do something, I do it. And today I was struck by the urge to hang it all and post the dang story, already. So there it is. Enjoy!

So what’s next? Well, your guess is as good as mine, really. Book three isn’t even nearly finished, so it’s going to be a while before that’s ready. I have another poetry collection coming out in September (or possibly August, depending on this and that) and I’m still slowly chugging along through the first draft of Down From The Tower. I also really had the strongest urge to work on Going Under recently, but that story has never had a lot of love, so we’ll see.

I have some other things in the pipes, too. Non-writing things, I mean. I’m currently working on an etsy shop to sell my homemade candles, bath salts, and soaps, as well as starting up a local floristry business. I’m also considering the possibility of setting up a proper beta-reading service, but I’m still in the pondering stage of that particular brain-baby. As well as all of this, I have to keep enough energy and concentration for The Day Job; the only work I do that actually pays my bills, after all.

I’ve been feeling my own mortality a lot lately. I got hit by a car a few weeks back, which was terrifying, and yesterday I ended up in hospital with a ruptured ovarian cyst, which was… also really quite upsetting.

Oh, it’s not all as bad as it sounds, of course! I’m fine, really, I just have been thinking a lot about the sort of life I want to be living. My creative output has been shockingly low as of late, and well, I’m not really happy about that. I just want to do stuff, you know? I want to enjoy what I do, and enjoy my life, and making things makes me happy so it seems like the logical thing to focus on.

I don’t know what’s next, precisely, but I figure I’ll just throw a bunch of projects at life and see what sticks!

Updates and Gratitude

So I finally have a couple of days away from The Day Job, and I can get some real work done! Yay!

I’m slowly working my way through editing The Royal Sentinel chapter by chapter, (the prologue and chapter one can be read on Wattpad, and chapter two will be up on Friday!) but I’m a fair way ahead of myself and I have time, so I might only do a wee bit of that today.

Thank you so, so much to everyone who has helped get the word out about it, and The Redwood Rebel, too! It’s been a huge gamble for me to put it out for free, if only because that’s a solid six years of work for me sitting there, you know? Every single vote, comment, and share means the whole world to me, and will make a massive difference to my writing resume when I’m ready to submit other work to publication. I really do appreciate it so much!

Speaking of “other work”, that’s mostly what today is going to be for, and most of tomorrow, too! Down From The Tower is going very slowly, but it is going, and that’s what counts. I feel like I’m in a good place right now, and it’s not a particularly big project, but I would really like to pick up the pace.

I have been thinking about jumping in with Camp NaNoWriMo next month, but the pressure of word-counting doesn’t always go well for me. Plus it’s my birthday smack in the middle, and I have stock take at work the week after (Uuuuurgh….) but then again, the great thing about Camp is that I can set a lower goal than standard NaNoWriMo, soooo…?

I dunno. I’ll give it some thought. I do really need to find a way to kick myself up the arse and get working again. Once the first draft of DFTT is done, I’ll get on the first draft of The Redwood War book three, so I do really need to get a shufty on.

In the meantime (sorry to bang on) if you haven’t already, please consider voting for The Redwood Rebel and The Royal Sentinel on Wattpad? Even if you’ve already read book one before now, just please take a few minutes to scroll through the chapters and click the vote button! It’s not like AO3 where you can only leave one kudos per story, you can vote for every single chapter. Comments are great, too, but I understand that you may not have the time or the inclination. Voting is super quick and easy, though, and it makes a massive difference and boosts the story up the recommended reading list, thus making it more likely for new readers to find it!

Many thanks!

The Royal Sentinel: Prologue

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‘Fifteen is my final offer.’

Naomi looked at the street vendor, keeping her face carefully neutral as they tried to stare each other down. She hadn’t missed the way his eyes had lit up when she had first put her bow and quiver down on his counter with the intention to sell, and she wasn’t about to let it go for fifteen, either.

Her ship had docked in Asuya after the long voyage across from Ffion, and she needed money to support herself for a few days. The bow and arrows were the least likely of her possessions she would need again, and she had already traded the few sets of clothes she’d had for warmer Tsumetese clothing. Thankfully, despite one of the last surviving members of Ffion’s royal family, the Redwoods, Naomi knew how to barter.

‘The bow alone is worth twenty,’ she said flatly. ‘I’ll take thirty for the lot, or nothing.’

‘Thirty?’ the vendor scoffed, throwing his hands up in a dramatic fashion that almost made her smile. ‘Are you trying to rob me? Twenty-five, and that’s final.’

‘Done,’ she held her hand out to shake, and the bargain was struck. Twenty-five was fair, and it would cover her expenses for a few days. Granted, it would be one of the less reputable inns, but she had slept rougher in her time.

‘You selling anything else?’ the vendor asked, and she looked sharply back at him, unsure of his implication. When she saw he was giving the beautiful sword at her hip the eye, Naomi relaxed again.

‘The sword isn’t for sale.’ she told him firmly, tucking the small pouch of coin into the breast of her warm wrap-over top.

As she did so, her fingers brushed against the dagger secreted out of sight there, and she hesitated. It wasn’t hers, not really. She had borrowed it months ago in the forests of Ffion from King Arun, to bleed poison from a dart wound she’d taken protecting him and had never really gotten around to returning it. Just thinking about their parting of ways made her blood boil.

It was her hope she would never see the cussing man again as long as she lived, and so returning it was unlikely, but somehow she felt wrong selling it. In the privacy of her own mind, she dryly observed that any man who could be so horribly possessive over another person was likely ten times worse for inanimate objects. For a brief moment she wondered how he was doing, if he had made a full recovery after their brutal battle with the reanimated corpse of the harpy, Genevieve…

The smallest brush of something in the back of her mind, not even a whisper of movement, made her start so violently that the street vendor jumped as well. Naomi might have been annoyed with herself at the slip, had she not been so disturbed by the sensation. It had been so light, she almost wondered if she had imagined it, but clutched the woven charm that hung about her neck tightly, searching for any indication that her shields had been broken.

She found nothing. Relieved beyond measure, Naomi sighed heavily and glanced at the vendor, now watching her warily.

‘Pleasure doing business with you,’ she nodded to him, and walked away to find lodging for the night.

Read More on Wattpad

Update: The Redwood War

There are different kinds of currency in the world, and as much as I’d love to have some of the traditional stuff, after a lot of thought I’ve decided I’m going to place value elsewhere and not go with the Patreon idea.

Now I know that there’s a culture amongst writers and artists where what I’m about to do is seen as a sort of betrayal. I know that we should be paid for our work, and that we should insist on it and stick together, but I feel like the circumstances I’m in give me a bit of leeway.

The Redwood Rebel did not sell.

I worked on it for three years, paid for it to be professionally edited and given beautiful cover art. I ran promotions and competitions and did interviews on other author’s websites, I did monthly adverts on Facebook and Goodreads. I networked until I was blue in the face. I promoted the heck out of it, or as best I could as a self-published author, and the only time I ever saw any traction? When I ran free kindle copy weekends.

Now I’m not saying that people didn’t enjoy it when they read it. I’ve had some bad reviews, and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t still sting a bit, but I know the majority of readers liked it. I get asked about the sequel much more frequently than I get hate mail, and that means the world to me, honestly.

What I am saying, however, is that I can’t afford to do all that again. I’m not exaggerating when I say I lost a lot of my own money publishing book one, and I genuinely can’t do that again. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the reality of the situation.

That said, I do understand that a monthly subscription for The Royal Sentinel isn’t feasible for most people, and that at least a third of responses I had to the idea felt that I was being unfair. I would never want that, not for anything in the world. I may not be a successful author in traditional terms, but as far as supportive and dedicated readers go? Well. I am incredibly proud and happy.

The currency I choose is your good faith and enjoyment in my work. That’s why I’ve decided to post The Redwood War series to Wattpad as free content. As of right now I’m uploading a chapter a day of The Redwood Rebel, in an attempt to get some interest from possible new readers, and when that’s done I’ll start to share chapters of The Royal Sentinel, either weekly or fortnightly.

All I’d request in exchange is that you take the time to like and comment, and to share it about to anyone you think might be interested, so that when I finally write something I feel is worth another attempt at traditional publishing, I can confidently add to my resume: “I am the author of a fairly well-received web series”.

Thank you.

Patreon?

I’ve been trying to think of what to do with The Redwood War series. I want to finish it, but mostly because I’m pig-headed about not leaving things half done.

So here’s the question: If I set up a Patreon account, how many of you would be up for supporting my work?

Right now I’m thinking I could give book one as a free epub file for signing up, then update the next three books a chapter at a time -possibly monthly or fortnightly, I haven’t decided- and as each book ends, send them out as a completed epub file.

I’d like to just post it for free, but honestly? I’m broke ^^” I’m just not in a position to work for free right now, as much as I wish I could. Book 1 cost me a heck of a lot to self-publish, and I was in a much better financial situation then than I am right now.

I hope that sounds fair, but I’d really like to hear what you guys think?