Diary 2020

Tuesday 24th November 2020

As I started writing this, it was Saturday 31st October 2020 and I was contemplating the sad news that the UK was about to enter a second Lockdown (now we are two weeks through it). While I pondered that, fireworks were shattering the air above the neighbourhood. What a contrast. Outside I could hear the joyful, though early, celebration of Bonfire Night while, inside, the family was experiencing the familiar, resurging depression over the impending Lockdown. "Oh dear. Here we go again."

Remembering that sad feeling now brings back recent memories of what has transpired, and what hasn't, since my previous diary entry (goodness, how long ago?). As is likely true for you too, 2020 has not been a good year for me or my family. I won't bore you with negative and tedious details - let us only briefly mention depression, overwork and a long illness (not Covid19), and then skip past them to better news -- and I am pleased how much good news there is to tell you.

Here Be Dragons (serialised fantasy novella).

I started to write a story in 2019 (Here Be Dragons) with the intention of entering it for the Dragon Bone Soup anthology that my Critiques Partner (PC Darkcliff) and I published in December of that year. However, no matter how hard I tried, I could not make it fit the anthology's requirement of 5,000 words maximum. With hindsight, trying to create a plot with six dysfunctional relationships between four people in 5,000 words was ... shall we say, "over-optimistic"? The absolute shortest I could manage was 6,600 words. As one of the two submission editors, I had the surreal experience of rejecting my own story! But it was the correct decision and it allowed room for the story to breathe. It has since grown to 17,800 words (a short novella - novelette?) and I am very proud that it now conveys the story I always intended it to tell. Episode 1 is available now on this website (here) and I am excited to be sharing it with you. This story tells you so much about one of the worlds in The Metaverse.

The Orison (fantasy serial).

The draft of Episode 2 of The Orison is complete but needs editing. I am also outlining future episodes with new story ideas that I am very keen to explore and include. This brainstorming led me to conduct an experiment in October: I wrote 5,000 words about a gritty scene that takes place in the main character's teenage years. As the MC (Gouta) is female, I shared it with a sixteen-strong team of female sensitivity readers. As I had hoped, these encouraging and enthusiastic ladies gave me valuable insights into what Gouta would experience and feel in this scene, both physically and emotionally. I am now working on a second draft and, if they give me their general approval, it will become the core part of a future episode of The Orison (three or four episodes into the tale) and will heavily influence the subsequent course of the story.

I managed to get Episodes 1 and 2 published in two volumes of Nebula Tales, to my very great pleasure. Unfortunately, this anthology series failed financially - no more volumes were ever published and all the existing volumes have been pulled from Amazon. But ... just maybe ... I had a lucky escape? I am not used to writing to deadlines, and I found I had to rush to complete Episode 2 by the submissions deadline. Consequently, it was not quite the story I wanted to tell. Worse, I realised that I probably could not have kept up the pace to produce further episodes for the subsequent volumes without completely ruining the serial with poor quality story-telling. Maybe when I am a more experienced writer, I will be able to churn out stories and episodes according to a fixed schedule, but not now. A valuable lesson has been learned.

So, I will tidy up Episode 2 and rewrite a few parts of it before I release it. I am also reworking the outline for the serial to tell a much better story, giving the main character (Lt. Kirel-Ilker145) a far more active role. This work will follow after the above work on The Orison.

Website & Blog

That brings me up-to-date, and now I can mention that I have revamped the website.

  1. I have restructured the Journal as a Diary (with archives for 2018 and 2019),

  2. introduced a new Blog and wrote its first two entries,

  3. and I have decided how to implement discussion forums for my stories (the first appearing at the bottom of the Here Be Dragons page).

Hopefully, there is something of interest here for everyone.