The Light at the End of the Tunnel Was an Express Train

So, it’s been a week-and-half (?) since I last posted, and a lot has happened since then. Namely, I finished my novel! Yay!

I crammed a lot for the last couple of days, mostly because I just really wanted to get the story finished. And then I spent the best part of a week editing, before finally putting it on Amazon pre-order.

And having gone through a lot of edits during and after writing it, I’m so happy with the story. I’ve read it so many times while writing and editing it, and I still love it. I’ve wanted to write this story for so long, but for reasons I’ve already written about, it got put on a back-burner.

And the cover got a minor change too. Or a major overhaul, depending on how you look at it. On the left below is the original cover, and on the right is the final one. (That’s top and bottom respectively if you’re on mobile.)

When the Lights Go Down - Old
Original cover

When the Lights Go Down - Final
Final cover

I know it’s not a huge difference, but I do think the darker purple tones look a lot better on the final cover. Initial feedback from my small band of avid readers (aka my kids) suggested the darker cover worked better with the overall theme of the book. I preferred the pop of the Milky Way on the lighter cover, but in the darker purple shade it washed out the writing too much, so I decided against it.

Reminder: The ebook version is available for preorder now, and I’m just waiting for the proof copy of the paperback to turn up so I can (hopefully) approve it.

And because I hate not writing, I’m already working on the next novel, which I have yet to name; it’s currently just known as 2. Clver, I know. 🙂

xx

RJ

Just a Quick Update

The finish line is in sight. Yay! Six chapters left to write, and one more to finish, and then I can work on the second draft, tighten up the story etc. and then edit.

Outline as it stands
This is the outline for When the Lights Go Down as it stands.

To the left, or I guess above if you’re on a mobile device, I the outline as of about an hour ago.

Green means I’ve finished the first draft, yellow means I’m working on it, and orange means I’ve planned it but not started writing it yet. It looks a lot better than it did a couple of weeks ago, believe me. Green is such a lovely colour!

I’m hoping to have the first draft finished by this Friday (July 19th), which is absolutely doable. It’s only something like thirteen thousand words. It’s not that much. 😐

Once I start the later drafts, the green bits will go sky blue if there’s a major rewrite needed. I only know a couple of scenes that need the full overhaul. The last chapter, which I wrote first, has already been fully rewritten.

Then after revisions, it will go lavender, and after editing it will go a sort of soft magenta – I think it’s Carnation in the Mac colour picker. As much as I hate pink, I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of it.

The main problem I have with Scrivener at the moment is that I tend not to close it down at all. I rarely shut down my MacBook, so I just leave Scrivener open so I can get straight back to work without waiting for it to load.

Of course, not shutting down Scrivener isn’t the problem, it’s that the session counter ticks over at 1am, when I’ve usually (OK, about half of the time) finished writing.

And because the app isn’t being reloaded, it just leaves the session target as it was. That means if I haven’t written as much as I needed to during the day (rare), it’s not accounting for the backlog.

And although it’s rare for me to not hit what I think my target is, because I keep forgetting to manually check the session target in the project targets window (command+shift+T on Mac), it keeps me lagging further behind until I check it again.

Today, for example, I was told my target was about 2800 words, and after I checked it (I didn’t hit my target yesterday), I have an extra 200 words to write. It’s no biggie to catch up, but it would be nice not to have to.

And I’ve finally written the sexy scene I’ve been avoiding. It’s a lot different to how it was originally going to play out, mostly because I made changes to the plot somewhere around the middle. But I think it works nicely, and I can’t wait to see what readers think of it. I personally feel Peter really comes across well in the scene, and I may be falling in love with him myself, never mind Ness. It’s just a shame what happens next.

The reason I was avoiding it was that it was going to be properly steamy, but now it’s a lot more subdued, which you’ll understand if you ever read the novel. I can’t explain the change without giving away a major part of the story. There is a small clue in the outline, but not something that makes sense out of context. That’s the reason I deleted the synopses of the chapters I’ve already finished.

Hey, would you look at that! I blogged three days in a row. Shame all these words can’t count toward my novel, eh?

xx

RJ

Always

So, I found this thing I made when Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was about to come out:

I legit still have my original walkthrough guide. It’s the first walkthrough guide I ever bought for any game, making it the first game I spoiled for myself by reading ahead.

I didn’t need it for myself when Zodiac Age came out – I think there’s a sort of muscle memory type thing going on when I replay old games – but it comes in handy when my kids are playing it. For some reason, if someone else is playing the game, I can’t remember what they’re supposed to do.

And yes, it’s another game with Nolan North. I think it’s the earliest game he did a voice in that I bought when out came out (if that makes sense). That was a little under a year after my triplets were born. My oldest, Kayleigh, used to sit on my knee while I played it. This is what I was saying in my last post; his voice is everywhere. They’ve grown up in a world where they hear Nolan North in something like every third video game we own.

And it wasn’t planned, either. At least, not until recently, anyway. Now I just go through the Game Pass selection and download random games without telling them who does the voices. It’s fun to watch them realise whose voice they’re hearing (again). It really is the little things that make life enjoyable.

Anyway, this isn’t getting any work done, so I’m going to shut up now.

xx

RJ

My Apple Watch Hates Me

My Apple Watch Hates Me

Stupid Apple Watch. It tells me that I’ve exercised for four minutes, but that I haven’t stood at all in the last hour. It tells me that I haven’t climbed any flights of stairs just because its definition of a flight of stairs is a higher elevation than the actual flight of stairs in my house. I rescue it from the trash-heap, fix it up, love it forever, and this is how it repays me?

Anyway, I haven’t posted for a while, and there’s a lot to unpack. First off, remember how in my last post I said I was planning to take a year off studying because I was getting burned out? Well, that burn-out caused me to defer from this year’s module, and I’m still planning to take a year off.

Turns out that trying to do everything at once was ruining my ability to do anything right. I know I said I was finding the time, but it was all in my head. My grades were slipping, I had the time to write but not the inclination, and my kids’ social worker decided I’m suffering from depression. I’m not suffering from depression, I have stress and anxiety, which is not helped by having social workers looking down on me all the time.

But having the time to think now means that I can really focus on my writing. I’ve been slogging away at a full-length novel over the past month, and I’m happy to say it’s almost finished. It’s a story I’ve been wanting to write for a while but lost interest after the #MeToo explosion two years ago. Let’s just say, having Kevin Spacey in your head as the voice of your character doesn’t help with your motivation when there’s a barrage of accusations levelled against him.

But I found myself going through some old, abandoned Scrivener files on my OneDrive, and found this story that I’d almost forgotten about. The outline needed a lot of work, and the characters needed changing up a bit, but I figured it was worth giving it another go.

Three-and-a-half weeks later, I’m almost finished with my first draft. I’ve been doing loose edits as I go, and I know where the plot lines need tightening up, where major revisions need doing to make the story make more sense, and I’ve never been more enthusiastic about writing something.

This is the cover as it stands, but I’m not entirely sure about it. I’ll keep playing about with it, and let you know if I come up with something else. I might just bugger about in Canva for a while and see if I can find any inspiration.

Mostly, I think it’s the new voice of my MMC. I play a lot of video games when I can’t focus, and I pay more attention than I should to voices. I can hear a familiar voice even in a muddle of voices, and one of the voices that crops up regularly is Nolan North. I mean, it sort of helps that this time last year I had just finished my uni module, and I wanted to play through Uncharted from start to finish (it took me about nine days). And that meant a lot of listening to Nolan North.

Look at that smile – isn’t he adorable? This totally isn’t my laptop wallpaper or anything. 😉
Image by Gil Cope; snaffled from Nolan North’s IMDB page.

So it was no surprise when, after vowing not to let another actor infiltrate my head while I was writing my characters, my lovely MMC suddenly started sounding like Nathan Drake… Well, except when I inadvertently wrote him as saying something extremely British (the character is an American actor), and then he ended up sounding like Rory Stewart. Such is the life of me and my brain.

In other news, I’m working on setting up a YouTube channel, where I’ll talk about stuff I’m writing, post book reviews, ads for my writing etc. I don’t plan to monetise it, so if there are any ads, it’s down to YouTube and not me. I also want to stream video games on Twitch – i won’t monetise that either, it’s just for fun. No prizes for guessing whose voice you’ll hear most regularly on there! Maybe I should play Uncharted again… 🙂

And I’m working on a plan for a wiki on here, to use as sort of a database for information about my writing. Anything relating to unpublished work will be hidden unless you’re a Patreon sponsor so, you know, there’s Patreon in the works too. And that’s how I’ll monetise my writing – sales, Patreon, and if I can be bothered (read, if I feel a work needs it), Kickstarter.

Did I mention I’m drinking a lot of coffee lately? I can’t really say that’s increasing my enthusiasm to work, but it’s certainly not harming it. And it’s not because I’m buzzing off my tits either – I drink decaf coffee. And decaf tea, come to that.

Anyway, if I want to get this novel finished any time soon, I’m going to have to get back to it.

God, I’ll be glad when I get the keyboard fixed on my laptop. The WASD keys packing in a couple of weeks ago, and I’m having to use an external keyboard. 🙁

xx

RJ

No More Pantsing!

Down With Pants!

I’ve been a “pantser” for as long as I can remember. If you don’t know, there are two types of writers — pantsers and plotters. Pantsers write without any real plan for how their story will happen. Plotters, well, the clue’s in the name. And for the longest time, I’ve been a pantser. Or at least I was, until now.

After my last module at uni, I just didn’t want to write. I had all these story ideas spinning around in my head, but I didn’t want to write any of them. And I couldn’t work out why. I’m a writer. I’ve always been a writer. So why didn’t I want to write? Well, it turns out the problems were twofold. And both problems were related to my writing course.

Problem the First

The first problem was that I got a few pretty crappy scores for my assignments. The thing is, writing is a creative endeavour. Any creative endeavour is art. Art is subjective. I think you might see where I’m going with this. My tutor didn’t think some of my work was any good, and it was clear from her feedback that it was the subject matter.

Now, my daughter will tell you I’m a crazy person when it comes to writing. I just write whatever my brain thinks up. So for one of my assignments I wrote a selection of poems about characters from a video game; a video game my tutor had never heard of. She wasn’t interested, and I got a shit mark for the assignment. I’m not really a poet, so I was expecting a bad mark, but not for the subject matter. She wasn’t the target demographic, and I wasn’t writing the poems with her in mind. The poems, from a technical point of view, weren’t bad.

So with that, and the fact that every creative piece had to be presented with a reflective commentary, I lost interest in writing for a while. I still wrote down story ideas, I just never got around to writing them.

Problem the Second

*mumbles* Stupid writing course, making me plan out what I’m going to write, and create plots for stories.

Turns out I can’t write by the seat of my pants anymore. Or at least, not entirely. I still don’t write fully detailed plots. I can’t work with something like “The Snowflake Method” and never could — it’s a perfectly respectable method of writing, it’s just not for me. But I’ve found I can’t write without some sort of guide anymore.

But I Have a Plan!

NB: It’s not a plot.

I’ve started outlining stories. I know, it shocked me too, but here we are. I just write loose outlines, so I know where the story’s going. I still don’t know everything about my characters when I start to write either. To be honest, I don’t understand why people write full character bios. It’s not like you instantly know everything about someone when you first meet them. And sometimes the most fun I have when I’m writing is finding out something new about a character while I’m writing their dialogue. Because that’s how you find things out about people — by talking to them. Or talking about them, of course.

And of course having a rough outline fits with my bizarre method of writing random scenes out of order because I think of something that’s going to happen at some point.

House Flipper
Lloyd Grossman voice: “Who’d live in a house like this?”

But most importantly, it means I’m writing again. It’s been bloody hard not writing when I know that’s what I need to be doing. I’ve still written stuff, even when I wasn’t writing, it just wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to write. You know, like uni stuff. And now I’m hitting, and even surpassing, my daily word count goals. I know now that I can write what I need to before lunch, study after lunch, and play House Flipper after dinner. God, I love that game! Except adding decorations to the houses. That’s like the reflective commentary of house flipping. Art is subjective, you donuts; buy your own damn paintings!

Well, I guess I’m going to sign off now. I have houses to flip!

xx

RJ

Red Typewriter

I Want a Red Typewriter, Goddamnit!

My daughter turns fourteen today. It doesn’t seem like that long since I was walking through ten-inch deep snow to get to my last pre-natal appointment, but there we go.

Anyway, for her birthday, she decided she wanted a typewriter. Not an electric one, not a toy one, a real one. I’m so proud! So I had a look on eBay, and found her a gorgeous 1988 model Erika 105. It’s in great condition, and cost me less than £30, which was a bonus.

I’ve wanted a typewriter myself for ages, but never really found one that speaks to me. There are a lot of typewriters for relatively cheap on eBay, but I want one that I’m not going to get bored of. And in the last two weeks, I’ve found two. The first was a Gossen Tippa from the 50s. It was utterly gorgeous, and for most of the final day it was at about £19. That was, until literally the last minute, when the bidding went stratospheric. It went for £91 in the end, and sadly not to me.

Gossen Tippa
WHSmith Red Fox

The second one that I found was a WHSmith Red Fox from the 70s, which went for the slightly less gut-wrenching price – or possibly slightly more gut-wrenching depending on how you look at it – of £26. The only reason I missed out on that one was that I left too long on the first auction and other bidders were able to get in after me, so I bid later on the Red Fox. And I lost out. Given the two typewriters I weirdly fell in love with, I guess you could say I have a type.

Thankfully, someone else is selling a Red Fox on a Buy-it-Now auction, so barring someone else getting there ahead of me, I should be able to get that later this month. I’d buy it now, but I’ve just spent a buttload of money on my daughter’s birthday, not to mention my youngest son’s costume for World Book Day. FYI, he makes an adorable Draco Malfoy. I saw loads of Harry Potters when I picked him up from school, but he was the only Draco. And he came second in his class’s best costume competition. His friend who came first was Danny (the Champion of the World), a decision which I wholly support because that’s my favourite Roald Dahl book.

buttload

(plural buttloads)

– (obsolete, Britain, West Country) A regional English measure of capacity of a heavy cart (a butt), containing 6 seams, or 48 bushels, equivalent to 384 gallons. 
– (dated, Britain, Southern US, New England) A large amount carried in a butt.
eg. “We spent all day Sunday and picked up a buttload of pecans.”
– (by extension, mildly vulgar, slang) Any large but unspecific amount.

Oh, and before I forget, I made my daughter a book related birthday cake. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity with World Book Day and her birthday being so close without making her a Harry Potter inspired cake!

Happee Birthdae Kayleigh
Baked it myself, words and all.

Unlike Hagrid, though, I know I haven’t sat on it. But my God it was annoying having to deliberately misspell the message!

xx

RJ

Site Update

Another Year, Another Reset

Once again, I have had to reset this website due to issues with updates, errors in the database, and generally not having posted anything in a while. I suppose if I posted more often, I would realise the issues are occurring before they fuck up the site. But I don’t, because I’m an idiot.

Anyway, since I last posted anything, which obviously is no longer here, I’ve passed two more modules on my English Literature and Creative Writing course and am currently studying my fourth. Last summer I was planning to take a year off, and do nothing but write for the year, especially after the last module I did. Considering it was the first of the two creative writing modules, and that’s the whole reason for me doing the course, I felt really deflated. The module requires you to write reflective commentaries along with every piece of work you do, and it did my head in. And I don’t think it’s fair for a tutor to mark you down for a piece of writing just because they don’t understand the context. So after this module I’m seriously considering taking a break, because I’m not getting the time to write anything for me. It’s all course work, and fitting that in around home commitments is getting harder all the time.

But I’m slogging on as best I can. I’ve been trying out new software for writing, and I’ll post some reviews of what I like and what I don’t like, or whatever, when I find the time.

xx

RJ