Spring Equinox

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Progress Report

It seems oddly appropriate that, having been working on the editing the Lords of Midnight for the last few weeks, there is still snow lying on the ground here at the official start of spring. It seems the Witchking’s power remains strong! I’m going to take that as a good omen for now. Lords of Midnight stands at a solid third draft (152,188 words) at present. I’m currently working with my editor to refine that draft into a final version which can be sent for typesetting and, ultimately, printing. Editing is a bit of a mystical dark art, but essentially it is tightening up the narrative, making the dialogue ‘zing’ and cutting out the unnecessary fat of the story, until you’re left with a lean, pacey story, free from typos with the right speed and energy to make the book absolutely compelling. Having been through this process a few times now (Lords of Midnight is my sixth full-length novel) I’m always amazed at the improvement a solid edit makes. I’m very blessed to have an superb editor who understands both the genres of fantasy and sci-fi, but also understands the way I write and how I go about it. Only rarely do we disagree on what to do about a phrase or a passage, and that’s usually down to some obscure piece of lore – I typically get a comment in the margin saying “Are you sure this is what you mean?” Editing is essential for a good book. Authors can procrastinate, fall in love with their world-building, over describe things, get carried away in the dialogue and forget to ground the reader in the scene, screw up points of view and slow the drama at the wrong times. A good editor doesn’t ‘read’ the book, they evaluate it critically, looking for these constructive errors and suggesting fixes. It’s the difference between having a story that ‘shows promise’ and a ‘great story’. My best claim to fame in this regard is that I occasionally get complaints from my editor that I pull her out of ‘editing mode’ and into ‘reading mode’ and she has to mentally reset and back up before continuing on. I think that’s editor speak for ‘this is good’. 🙂 This work will continue for a while, but we are very close to the end now, folks. Bear with us for a few more weeks and you’ll be able to start your adventure in the lands of Midnight all anew.  There’s a glimmer on the eastern horizon, dawn is not far...

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Revised date for Lord of Midnight availability

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Progress Report

Folks, A quick update on the arrival of the Lords of Midnight novel. Been in conversations with my publisher (FBP) this week on the timing of editing, cover production, typesetting etc. Unfortunately, we have a further short delay. Editing, in particular, can’t be rushed and needs to be done properly. Apologies for this, but it’s a combination of workload and a few other events beyond our control. The birth of books is never a straightforward thing! We are now expecting the book to be available at the end of May this year (rather than March) about an additional 8 weeks. On a more positive note, my wife is reading the draft at the moment (she’s particularly good at spotting plot-holes) and so far we have a thumbs up. She likes it more than my previous book, Elite Dangerous:...

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Lords of Midnight – second draft complete

Posted by on Feb 10, 2018 in Progress Report

Another milestone today on the road to the next book. The second draft is completed! This is an essential point on the road to getting the book ready. We’re not quite done, that’s the third draft, but we’re a ways along from the first draft. 🙂 So what do we have at this stage? Simply put, Chris and I have fixed the major continuity issues, we’ve sorted out the pace and the structure, we have an end-to-end story that works. All the lore aspects have been checked and adjusted where necessary. This is the biggest concern at this stage, particularly as Lords of Midnight is very ‘lore heavy’, there’s a lot of detail that needs to be right, both for this book and for potential future ones. Much of the stuff that is mentioned in the Lords of Midnight foreshadows the events of the other games in the series, and we want to be able to write those books too. Thus we’ve planned to ensure there is an ongoing continuity to the lore that will straddle several stories. Hopefully we will see the events of Doomdark’s Revenge, The Citadel and the Eye of the Moon. So what’s next – that would be the third draft! The second draft gets sent to professional editors, who sort out all the detailed ‘writing craft’ issues; POV, typos, repetition, overused adverbs, clichés, dodgy dialogue and so on. Basically tidying it up and making the scripts punchy and tight. It makes a massive difference to the quality of what you end up reading. All those changes come back to me for review. Typically I agree with about 95% of them. A few I will reject (usually because the editor doesn’t understand the lore in depth and they’ve picked on on something lore specific which looks odd) and a few will be just because I prefer the original. After that? It’s proofreader time. I have a bunch of folks that will read my book with a view to eradicating any remaining typos (they are tricky beasts to get rid of!). Then that final version goes back… and it’s turned a...

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At the Winter’s Solstice, the First draft of the Lords of Midnight

Posted by on Dec 21, 2017 in Progress Report

Yesterday I reached a major milestone in the production of my latest book, The Lords of Midnight. The first draft is complete! Those of you who have followed this blog for quite some time will know that this is an important step, it means there is a ‘story’ end-to-end based on the original plot and direction and that the greater bulk of the writing itself is done. Yet, in some ways, it’s just the start! From here the story has to be tweaked and fettled. I do edit quite a lot as I go on, so this draft isn’t as rough as many fellow authors’ would be, it’s probably more akin to what most writers would consider a ‘second draft’, but it still needs a lot of work. From a pure editing perspective there will be typos, grammar issues, clunky sentences, insufficient character differentiation, repeating words and phrases, too much or too little description, continuity errors and bad POV changes and scene transitions. This is quite tedious to fix, but I’m fortunate to have an excellent editor with her red pen poised to wreak bloody havoc over my manuscript… However, before that, the story needs to have its lore, characters, situations and overall feel checked by the LoreMaster himself; in the case of the Lords of Midnight this is the inestimable Chris Wild who is both the expert and the ultimate decision maker on the lore as it relates to Mike Singleton’s world. As of yesterday evening a draft is with Chris for review and comment. Thus there is an awful lot of work still to do, we may have won a skirmish, but the battle continues! However, having skim read what we have already, I’m confident we have a good foundation to build upon. For me, after the event, it’s fascinating to see the differences between the first draft and the final edit. There are massive changes in some places, minor nips and tucks in others. It’s all aimed at ensuring the book, and the story it tells, is of the highest possible quality. This book was original promised back in 1984 by Beyond, the company that published the original game – they failed in that particular quest. 33 years later we’re on track to close that circle – but we want to ensure that we do the best job we can, making something that Mike himself would be proud of and that lays a solid foundation for future books if this one is successful. For now then, a brief hiatus as the year draws to an end. The Solstice is here, but before long glad hearts and minds will turn to longer days and the promise of spring. A new dawn for Midnight...

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He thinks again…

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Progress Report

Chris and I have been working on the novelization of the Lords of Midnight for some time now, infact it was back in June 2016 I started on the project. With Chris’ help on the lore I have made excellent progress on the novel and I’m getting closer to a good solid first draft. We’re currently at 97,088 words. It happens to be the Autumn Equinox today, as good a time as ever to give an update. However, I’m afraid we have a delay. To cut a long story short, with Chris’ and my publisher’s blessing I have taken the decision to postpone the publication date. As you know, I wanted to have the book available on the 21st of Dec 2017, to mark the Winter Solstice as per the starting point of the game narrative. Due to a number of factors progress has been delayed during the writing. I might be able to push it across the line in time, but I’d start to compromise on quality and content – Chris and I simply won’t do that. Mike Singleton’s legacy deserves the best we can produce – it means we need more time to get it right. So how much of a delay? A revised timeline has the book being published at the end of March 2018, around a 3 month delay overall. I think this is realistic based on current workload and my publisher concurs. I completely understand this isn’t the best of news, and it will be frustrating to those who are eagerly awaiting the story, particularly in time for Christmas. I hope that by letting you know as soon as I can and with a commitment to finish according to a revised plan you’ll understand the situation. The detail on the delays? As you know, I was working on my previous novel, the official Elite Dangerous book : Premonition. This featured a few …er… ‘novel’ scenarios, not least having to take part in and organize some in-game activity which would impact the end of the book. I underestimated the time required for this quite badly. My contingency time was eaten up and I still hadn’t finished with Elite Dangerous. The editing demands of that story were also considerably higher than expected. I also underestimated the emotional and physical drain involved in putting all that content together, and coping with some of the unexpected and undesirable aspects of the outcome. This was combined with a stressful period in my day job where we were under threat of redundancy throughout this entire period. In short, I got rather burnt out. It took a toll on both me and my family. Thus it took me a little time to regain equilibrium and get back on track with writing Lords of Midnight. The work situation has improved since and a summer break recharged the synapses. I’ve been trying, but...

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Bringing characters to life

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Progress Report

STOP PRESS – Elite Dangerous Premonition just came out in paperback on Amazon as I was writing this blog. I would really appreciate it if folks who’ve already read and enjoyed the ebook version could give it a review. Reviews make a massive difference to the visibility of the book and are the best thing you can do to help out an author. Many thanks! This weekend I attended FantastiCon up in Hull. This was the fourth one, but at the same venue as last year – the magnificent Guildhall. My two boys Mark and Joshua were immediately ensconced with their PCs and loading up the latest games and my wife Anita and Mark’s girlfriend Abbey chatted to the attendees. For me it was a chance to meet friends old and new and catch up on all that’s happened over the last year. Fantasticon is run by my publisher, the indomitable Dan and his long suffering, but wonderful, wife, Gabi of Fantastic Books Publishing. It’s a mix of modern and retro computer and tabletop gaming, books, creative arts and socialising, with quite a lot of impromptu mucking about into the bargain, particularly when the alcohol starts flowing. 😉 One of my first assignments was to have an on stage chat with another of Fantastic Books’ authors, Stuart Aken, who was launching his latest book “War Over Dust“. It was fun for us to compare notes about how we approach writing, develop characters, do our research and so on. Turns out that I’m a ‘plotter’ and Stuart is a ‘panster’ – I plot out everything to the nth degree and Stuart prefers to write by the ‘seat of his pants’! Later that day I did a reading from my upcoming novel the “Lords of Midnight” followed later on by Kate Russell and her recently launched audiobook “A Bookkeeper’s Guide to Practical Sorcery.” I, along with two of my longest standing ‘Elite’ buddies, also formed the ‘Drinklings’ (a little homage to the famous ‘Inklings‘) at the Con. Expect the unexpected. 😉 My main event for the Con was something Elite Dangerous related though and this occurred on the second day. Whilst writing for the game I’d been fortunate enough for part of the in-game story to have been voice acted by two very talented voice actors – Amelia Tyler (@AmeliaTyler) and Jay Britton (@VoiceJayBritton). The reaction to the work that they did was remarkable throughout the Elite Dangerous community, with huge enthusiasm and thanks for it being the first example of its type in the game. To see an example of their work in the game and how the community responded – check out this stream segment from @Pumpkinberry who chanced upon the spooky wreck of the abandoned spacecraft ‘Zurara’. (warning – some strong language!) Highlight of my career, this meant so much to me. Thank you @pumpkinberry, thank you @EliteDangerous community...

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