Overworld, Updates

Hello, 2018

Houndtor Haze

Two weeks into January, and so far the year is bumping along much like the old one did. Plenty of things to do, plenty of other things getting in the way and trying to do their best to make sure I don’t get things done, same old, same old.

No worries. This year I have decided I’m not going to make predictions, I’m not going to set any schedules, I will simply set out to achieve things and hope I manage to get them done eventually. I do have a list, but I’m keeping it private for now and will only talk about things that have actually been finished.

Which leads me to… AQUILA’S WAR (Wingborn book 5) IS DONE!

This was my NaNoWriMo project from last year that got derailed mid-November, and I wasn’t able to pick it up again until the start of this month. But after putting in an extra 36K words, it is done! WHOO! It needs a lot of work and there are a few characters and plot lines I might have accidentally forgotten, but that can be cleaned up later. For now it’s all done and the sixth and final Wingborn book is poking me with ideas, so I might just give in and write it next.

I have also finally gathered all the pieces together to puzzle out where the Dragonlands series is headed, which is also a big relief. Looking forward to sorting that one out.

Right now I’m trying to catch up with all the things that got dropped last year and putting other plans into place for future things this year. I’m also kicking around a few ideas of what I’ll tackle once Wingborn is done. I might take a break from the Overworld for a bit, but I might also stay put since there are a couple of stories trying to catch my attention. Lots of things to ponder.

In the meantime, I hope 2018 is treating you fairly thus far, and that your goals and plans – whatsoever they may be – bear the right kind of fruit for you.

A Bit of Me, Updates

And onto December…

Another month, another fumbled not-quite-catch up.

As of the start of last week NaNo was going quite well. I’d just passed 70K on Tuesday and was starting to feel like maybe I was getting towards the end and this was all going to work out. Then Willow got sick.

Fifteen is an excellent age for any dog, especially a large lurcher, but that doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Suddenly NaNo didn’t seem so important anymore.

Because I found it hard to focus on writing difficult scenes, I put Aquila’s War on hold and realised I needed to edit Dragongift instead since I had originally planned to release it this weekend. Well, that’s not quite going to happen because words are polished but the ebook isn’t ready. It’ll be available next week.

What is coming today is the start of Storm Wings, Wingborn #4. I’ll be leaving Dragongift up until Monday – so if there’s anyone still reading that, hurry, hurry! – but right now it’s time to find out what happened to Mouse, Mhysra & Co.

I’ve also realised I never finished posting Courtship. I should probably do something about that…

*sigh* Isn’t 2017 over yet?

Books, Overworld, Updates

Pre-Order Links and Round-Up

Storm Rising 5 Merry Monday, everyone!

Just a quick little update today to say that you can now pre-order Storm Rising all over the place.

Amazon: US || UK || AUS || DE || CAN
|| B&N || iBooks || Kobo ||

From now, right up to next Wednesday (13th Sept) you can also get it at the lowest discounted price. Most places that should be 0.99, but some might be a little higher (Amazon US, for some reason, likes to hover around $1.25) and Kobo might even have it a little lower.

So if you want the next in the Dragonlands series as soon as it comes out – this Wednesday! – go grab it now while it’s cheap!


 

Courtship

In other news, iTunes has finally put A Courtship of Dragons up, so if that’s your preferred ebook shop, you can go grab it for FREE right now.

I’ve also finally posted a proper Courtship Portal Page, which has all the necessary information and links that you might need for that book.


Elsewhere, things have been so busy around here all summer that I’m looking forward to having a bit of downtime. But I’ve also been planning what’s yet to come, for this year and beyond.

Right now I’m focusing on Dragonlands #4, but before the end of the year I hope to have finished the Dragongift serial and prepped that for release (ETA: beginning of December), started posting Storm Wings (Wingborn #4) and also have tackled NaNo (Wingborn #5). Then in January, Dragonlands #3 should be released. So a busy few months lie ahead.

For this week, though, I’m planning to read a lot, replace the shelf that fell off the wall this morning, find a new home for all the heavy books and get back into some sort of normal routine.

Ha! Wish me luck.

Overworld, Updates

May Mission

Mu_Lea
Mushu by the river

It’s been a while since I last did an update and as May has now arrived, I thought it was time to catch up. So far this year life has been pretty busy in many mundane ways, which hasn’t left me much time to get myself organised. However, I do have a few projects on the go.

  • An updated version of Blazing Dawn.
  • A Courtship of Dragons is finished.
  • Storm Rising is about to be overhauled.

All alongside the ongoing Dragongift serial. Which means I’m firmly stuck in an Overworld mood – and that suits me fine.

The new version of Blazing Dawn isn’t massively different to the currently available one, I’ve just expanded a few bits and tried to ensure certain moments make more sense. So basically everything to do with Ushara. I’ve just finished the last big edit, so I’ll be running a final check and formatting it for upload. Hopefully this will be out in the next couple of weeks. After that I hope to start work on a paperback version.

While sorting out the paperback, I’ll also turn my attention back to Courtship. In case you missed the announcement, I’ve finished it! As I feared, it ended up much longer than I planned, but I’m not surprised. There are a few things in it that might affect the other books, so I’m glad I finished it before I released Storm Rising. This does also mean I need to release the whole thing before I release SR, so that’ll be fun.

I plan to keep going with the serial, as well as posting it on Wattpad. However, those who are too impatient to wait several months for the end, you should be able to download the whole thing. For free. Just give me a month or so to tidy it up first.

Once that’s taken care of, I’ll then turn my attention to Storm Rising. This book is long overdue and I’m sorry about that. Hopefully the delay will ensure that it’s a better book. I’ll definitely try.

While I work on all of the above, I also hope to get cracking on more paperback releases – Wingborn, Rift, SR and then I’ll work on the Aekhs. I’m not sure yet what the prices will be or how long each will take. I’ll keep you updated as I go.

So those are my plans for May and June. If everything goes to plan as I hope, by July I’ll be free to get back to work on Dragonlands #4 (Burning Sky/Sands – can’t decide). However, since all my best laid plans keep getting thrown out of the nearest window, I’ll neither hold my breath nor make any predictions beyond that.

Instead I’ll wish you all a Merry Mayday (and Beltane/Samhain for those who celebrate) and hope that life is treating you kindly, wheresoever in the world you may be.

Overworld, Updates

February Update

black-tor
Black Tor, Feb 2017

I’m currently hard at work on the last round of Rift Riders edits, prepping it for its ebook release in a couple of weeks, but since it’s the last day of the month I thought it was time for an update.

So far this year, my productivity hasn’t been too high. In fact, writing has been a bit of a struggle, which is why I’ve been fairly quiet around here. I’m hoping to change that after Rift is out and I can turn my attention back to Burning Sky.

My current tentative plans are to hopefully write Dragonlands 4 and 5 while giving Wingborn another going over and tweaking Blazing Dawn. I’ve already rewritten a few chunks of BD, but there are a few more things I’d like to tackle before I can release the updated version and hopefully work on a print edition. As such, my plans for Storm Rising (Dragonlands 2) have been pushed back to May/June. Hopefully by then I’ll have a much firmer idea of where the series is going and can feel confident in releasing them.

Luckily, Dragongift, the third Wingborn book, is already written and short of a few brief edits is ready and raring to go from March 17th. I have a lot of love for this book, so I hope everyone else enjoys it just as much. It’s different again from both WB and RR, with a more exploratory feel, but it’s the same characters and the same world, so I hope you’ll be back to continue the adventure.

And lastly, fans of A Courtship of Dragons should be pleased to know that I have a vague idea where it’s all headed now. However, I haven’t had a chance to write any more lately so, sorry, but there won’t be an update this week. Hopefully by next week I’ll have more to offer and I might even be inspired enough to finish it.

That ought to cover everything. I’ll be adding a few deleted Wingborn scenes over the next few weeks, and even a glimpse or two of the original book from my teenage years. I’m also considering what to do with my Regency romances and having a few rumbling thoughts about the next Aekh book. So even though I may be a bit quiet (beyond serial updates) there’s always something going on.

As always, thanks for reading, you lovely people, and I hope to have more goodies to share with you soon.

Overworld, Updates

Dragging it Out

[I was going to do a terrible dragon pun, but I thought I’d spare you (except I kind of haven’t… oh well).]

Work has resumed on Storm Rising and I’ve now passed the halfway point (I think). In terms of word count it’s coming along fairly well, but wow, it feels like I’m dragging it out of my imagination, one stubborn chapter at a time.

I’m lucky because I’ve always been a fast writer. I usually have a vague idea of where any story I’m writing is heading, and the details helpfully fill themselves in along the way. This often means that the deeper into a book I get, the faster I write. Which is great, as long as I have time enough to harness the creativity. When I don’t have as much time, the slower pace usually means I can spend more time thinking about what’s coming up and maybe playing with details to make them fit before I have to write them down.

Not with this book. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend thinking about it, the plot still refuses to let me know anything further ahead than a chapter at most. If I think I know where it’s headed, it almost always changes on me as I’m writing it. I don’t know why, but this series really doesn’t like to be thought out in advance. The first book didn’t go anywhere near where I wanted it to, and now that I’ve given up on reaching the one main goal of the second book, suddenly they all veered off course and have now arrived.

I’m not complaining, as such, because the words keep flowing and things are progressing, but it’s not how I’m used to working and I just hope this isn’t going to be how everything goes from now on. One good thing about this series, though: it might not let me see the plot in advance, but it does keep throwing up images of the places they will hopefully end up next. I just wish I had any kind of fantasy landscape artist skills, because I would love to show them off in more than words.

Ah well, I shall just have to stick with what I have and maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to afford to commission someone to do it for me.

In the meantime, Wingborn is definitely loose in the wild now and I’m finally going to update the links on various pages. If you’ve been waiting for it turn up free somewhere other than Smashwords, here are a few:

B&N || iBooks || Kobo

It’s still not free on Amazon, but if you really want to pay for it then I’ll add various links on the Books page under the Overworld header.

Merry Midweek, all!

A Bit of Me, Writing

Feeling Off-Kilter

Dart Valley Rain 1
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 12th June 2016

I’ve been feeling a little off-kilter for the last few weeks. Reading hasn’t been the joy it usually is, writing became a bit of chore, I had a run of headaches and was generally feeling rubbish.

This isn’t unusual for me, I’m used to these feelings cropping up sooner or later, but it’s the first time for a while that all things lost colour all at once. I felt a bit like the bluebells in the bottom right hand corner of the top photo, trying my hardest to keep going yet somehow getting overtaken by the super-fast bracken that sprung up from nowhere! Or maybe the oak tree, stretching all my limbs in one direction only to find the sun has shifted to rise behind me.

Dart Valley Rain 3
Dart Valley, 12th June 2016

It’s not so terrible a feeling, and is mostly brought on by tiredness and a general feeling of being run down, but I wasn’t expecting it all at once so it knocked me back a bit.

 

Sometimes it’s a simple thing to fix – a good walk, usually on Dartmoor, often works wonders. So a couple of weekends ago I went back to the Dart Valley, since the weather was showery and I didn’t want to get caught out somewhere high if it turned nasty. I was half-hoping that the foxgloves would have come out.

Wow, was I wrong. Turns out the bluebells are going stronger than ever and the undergrowth has exploded! Here are some pictures from 15th May next to my last visit on the 12th June. It’s like someone jammed the grow switch on or something. Moss, ferns, leaves, go!

Dart Valley 2 Dart Valley Rain 4

Dart Valley 1 Dart Valley Rain 5

It was lovely down there, and this time there weren’t a bunch of campers cluttering the place up so I could get much closer to the water. I’m not very good at sharing my favourite spaces with other people, but one of the best things about this place is that a lot of people don’t realise it’s down there, so it’s pretty peaceful and quiet – when the campers aren’t about anyway ;)

It was even lovelier when the sun poked its head out for a bit.

Dart Valley Rain 7
River Dart, 12th June 2016

I caught a faint shower on the way back up the hill, but by the time I reached the top the sun was blazing and I was startled by a bunch of sheep who looked very unimpressed by me. I would have taken a picture but the ewe was looking at me funny and I didn’t want to disturb the lambs, so I left them to it and decided to clamber down a very (very) steep slope to see how far along the Venn Brook (which flows into the Dart) I could get. I’d seen a picture of a waterfall down there and wanted to try and find it. Well, I think I did, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s not much of a path and I didn’t pick the best time to walk it, since everything is growing like mad. Maybe I’ll try again in the winter.

Dart Valley Venn
Venn Brook (not the falls, unless they’re really weedy or those ferns are enormous!)

Still, it is very pretty down there. A proper fairy glen.

And the climb back up was rough. I followed a bunch of hoof prints from the Clydesdale Heavy Horse Adventure rides, and I felt so jealous! I went on a ride with them last year and it was amazing, but I really wished I had a horse, any horse, when I was scrambling back up that slope. Served me right.

Dart Valley Rain 2
Dart Valley, 12th June 2016

Sadly the walk itself didn’t sort my head out as much as I hoped, but putting my fiction reading aside for a few days and immersing myself into some non-fiction definitely helped out on that score. On the writing side, I abandoned everything at the end of last week and watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 instead. I hadn’t seen it for ages and it was a perfect tonic. Add in a few naps and I seem to have recovered my writing zest too. I’m now closing in on the end of the Viscount book.

Dart Valley Rain 6
River Dart, 12th June 2016

At least I was until the characters decided to take a road trip. Argh! Don’t they know how difficult it is to find and read Regency era road maps from Devon to Norfolk on my phone?
I also looked up the symptoms for syphilis, just to stop my Google search history from getting boring. It’s probably best that cocaine usage post-dates this era, else I’d have that research on top, with a little opium addiction for extra colour. At least it isn’t poisons or the best natural treatments for burns and bruises or how long it actually takes to throttle someone this time.

I’m not a serial murderer in training, I promise. It’s all research – er, not that kind of research. Oh, never mind!

Ah well, at least my equilibrium is mostly back, so that’s gotta be good. Even if Google is looking at me funny.

Merry Wednesday, everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying Midsummer, or if you be on the lower half of the world, I hope you’re enjoying being halfway out of the dark!

(And for those who are interested, new dragons can be found on Starlight Magpie. Along with an Ivy Witch and hares on rocks. If you’re curious, go and see.)

A Bit of Me, Updates, Writing

The Merry Month of May

Dart Valley 2
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 15th May 2016

Since I was walking in the woods the other day, and it being the merry merry month of May, I decided to share some photos with you while I natter about what I’ve been up to.

It’s incredible how green everything has suddenly become around here. Until very recently it’s been kind of cold for the time of year, meaning the buds and blossoms have been holding back. No longer. It’s all green, all the time. Which, in places like the above picture, mean the bluebells are out in force.

Dart Valley Bells 1You can’t see them too well in that shot, so here’s some more down beside the River Dart. Dart Valley Bells 2

These are British Bluebells, which are something of a rare breed these days, since Spanish bluebells are stronger, brighter and spread like nobody’s business from people’s gardens. In this little spot, however, they were all delicate British ones. I’ve never seen so many.

Dart Valley 1
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, May 15th 2016

This is how you can definitely tell I’m on Dartmoor. Rocks in the woods, rocks in the river. Rocks everywhere! It’s an oread paradise – look at all that moss.

Anyway, as lovely as all that has been (and it has been very lovely, and I’ve had some really good walks lately), I’ve also been busy in other areas.

Since my last catch up post, I’ve edited and read through Blazing Dawn, but I’m a little stuck. If you know of anyone who wouldn’t mind reading a dragon fantasy novel at some point over the next month, please let me know. I’m not looking for deep editing (though I never say no to picks and crits), I mostly need to know if certain plot points make sense. Of course they do to me, because they’re threads I’ve been teasing out for over a decade, but I’m not sure if it’s too obscure for other people or if it works well enough in the context of the story. So, if you know of anyone who can help, please let me know. Ta!

Away from that, I’ve left my first Regency book alone since I finished it – because I need to do some extra research and check things – and was supposed to have turned my attention away from writing for a while. However, I got itchy without typing on a daily basis, so I’m now a little over halfway through an unplanned Overworld novella, which doesn’t fit into either of my Overworld series, but I’m enjoying it immensely. I’m not at all sure where it’s heading (though I got a few inklings when I was thinking it over earlier), so I’m hoping I’m over halfway but can’t be certain. It’s at 20K at the moment, but who knows where it’ll end.

I’ve also started a second Regency novel, because why not? I’m planning to spend the next month writing it, the novella and working on Blazing Dawn. Then, come July, it’ll be time to turn back to the Aekhartain (because summer is absolutely the best time to write a winter novel), and also tidy up the details in the first Regency book. I might even come up with a name… I hope! I can’t call it Filly’s book forever. I’m also hoping I will come up with a name for the second Regency book along the way, because Matilda’s book (can you sense a theme?) doesn’t sound nearly exciting enough.

And the reason why I was supposed to be taking a break from writing these last few weeks? Well, since you asked, I’ve opened an Etsy shop and started a new blog – both called Starlight Magpie.

Here’s a little glimpse at why:

It’s been keeping me busy and I’ve been having fun with it. We’ll see how it goes. For now it’s providing a nice creative break away from writing and I’m constantly getting new ideas.

Dart Valley 3
Dart Valley Nature Reserve, 15th May 2016

Anywho, that’s what up with me. I shall leave you now with a final look along the Dart Valley.

And while we’re here, how are things with you lovely people? Has the year been treating you kindly thus far? I hope so.

I’m driving to Wales on Friday and I’m a touch nervous, but more about that another time.

For now, bask in something beautiful.

Cheers, m’dears!

 

 

A Bit of Me, Books, Overworld, Updates, Writing

Catching Up: Feb-May

As there isn’t a midweek Wingborn update this week (contain yourselves) and we’ve hit the halfway point in the book, I thought I’d catch everyone up on what I’ve been up to lately.

Bagtor Feb
Haytor from Bagtor Feb 2016

As the picture shows, I’ve been walking on Dartmoor a fair bit, when the weather allows. You’d never know from that particular picture that it was bitterly cold up there that day, with a wind blowing hard enough to almost knock me over! (Ignore the shape of the tree, it’s always like that. Growing on the moors tends to have that effect on the vegetation.)

It’s been a very strange start to the year in many ways, not least weatherwise, but now that May is here things seem to be settling down a bit. Especially when it comes to writing.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve finished two books!

The first, Blazing Dawn, is an Overworld book, set a few centuries before Wingborn when women were still allowed in the Rift Riders and the dragons still interacted with humans. That’s where this series is set, the Dragonlands, where a certain fiery Blazeborn elder has been unhappily assigned as a delegate to the new human ambassador and her Rift Rider retinue.

Mini Khennik Blossom
Mini Khennik amidst the greengage blossoms

The dragon is called Khennik and he’s the sort of hero who if you’d asked him to save the world would say, “Not today, I’m busy.” But if you asked him to help his kin and Clan, would lay down his life before you finished the question. He’s contrary and grumpy, prone to bursting into flames, and I’m really rather fond of him.

Mini Dragons 1

Here Mini Khennik is hanging out with a few of his fellow Blazing Dawn characters on some pieces of Dartmoor quartz. Junior Archivist Reglian is the black and gold dragon, Elder Goryal is the little grey one, stony Estenarven is beside him, while poor watery Mastekh is lying off to one side. They all have their parts to play in the story, some more successfully than others, and there are plenty of Rift Riders to get to know too. Not least Nera, a young lieutenant out in the world for the first time.

You might also be able to tell that I’ve been playing with polymer clay a bit lately, but more on that some other time.

The second book I finished just last week. It doesn’t have a title yet, but it’s a Regency Romance! I love reading books in this genre and I’ve had a few ideas for my own over the years. I originally started this one almost ten years ago, but it’s been mouldering away, stalled at only three chapters ever since. I thought I’d give it another go and see if I could actually finish it – and I did! It’s still very rough and needs a lot of work, but it’s set in the country, has a rather put-upon heroine, a scarred up hero and some annoyingly cute kids running around. I had fun writing it, so I hope people will enjoy reading it. I’ll also be releasing it under a different name, but again, more on that some other time.

Aside from the fact that I’m really pleased to have finished these two books, they also have a couple of surprising things in common. They’re both old stories I started ages ago (Blazing Dawn didn’t even get past the first chapter), neither of them turned out at all like I expected, they’re both longer than I intended, and they’re both firsts in their own ways: my first completed Regency and the first time I’ve actually managed to finish a book with a dragon as the main protagonist. This last one is particularly surprising since I love dragons and have written a fair few over the years, but clearly they prove more tricky than I ever expect.

So, as you can see, writing continues apace. Over the next few months I’ll be polishing both books up and turning my attention back to the Aekhartain again. I’ll also be considering what I’ll do after the serialisation of Wingborn ends. I think I’d like to try it with something else, but I’ll be writing it as I go this time. I haven’t what decided yet, but I’m open to suggestion if anyone has anything they want to know more of.

In the meantime, I shall leave you with a final couple of pictures.

One of the things I love best about walking on Dartmoor at this time of year (or in the lanes closer to home, because I am very lucky) is hearing the skylarks. Their numbers are supposedly dropping nationwide, but you’d never know it if you walk regularly around these parts. Here’s one I spotted the other day when walking to Laughter Tor.

Laughter Skylark

It’s perched atop a prehistoric menhir, Loughtor Man, which stands at 2.4 metres tall.

Louden Man
Loughtor Man, April 2016

Apparently it once stood in the centre of a small cairn, with stone rows around it. Now it stands mostly alone, save for the occasional walker or skylark stopping by for a rest or to admire the view.

And on that note, I shall leave you all in peace. I hope the world and the weather is treating you kind wheresoever you may be. I shall be back soon with more Wingborn and perhaps a photo or two of places I’ve been along the way.

Merry midweek, everyone!