A Very Cold Tale

Some weeks ago I submitted a short story to the Strange Horizon’s website. It was rejected, which was a little disappointing, but not the end of the world. I blogged then that I felt I could quite easily take that short story and make it into a full-length novel with just a few minor changes.

‘Unwelcome Visitors,’ is the result and it’s starting to come together now. I’m about 11k words in and I have a nice list of characters who’re investigating a strange murder and a number of missing persons , all up on a snow covered moor in the depths of winter.

Currently the time-scale covers just one day, although that will be extended as the action progresses, we’re nearly at the end of that first day.

We’ve had a second body found in unusual circumstances, but no obvious cause of death yet – probably need to wait for a post-mortem to get that.

Unlike the Leprechaun story, I’m telling this from a third-person point of view which I much prefer when I’m reading.

The Waiting Game

The final draft has now been completed and read, with comments. I’ve incorporated all of the comments and corrections that I can. Mrs D was invaluable, as always in this process.

It seems the scene in the Jobcentre is simply (and technically) wrong in how those places work, but as the scene covers some things I wanted to include and is otherwise not referred to again, I decided to stick with it.

I’ve now sent a copy of the book off for a completely independent read, by a gentleman in the US who kindly offered to do that, so now I’m just waiting for the results of that to come back. Depending on what he says I should hopefully be able to publish fairly soon after that.

I’ve changed the title of the piece to be ‘Luck is a Leprechaun.’ It still isn’t quite what I wanted, but as I don’t actually know what that would be it’s looking likely that we have a final title.

While I’m waiting for Luck is a Leprechaun to be finalised I’ve actually started on a new work, set in the 19th Century and featuring a Detective Inspector in a smallish cotton town.  It’s intended to be a science-fiction tale working on the theme of how would the Victorians deal with an alien invasion (on a small scale). the working title is ‘Unwelcome Visitors.’

Almost There

Well (almost) all of the writing has been done.  I’m editing and correcting at the moment, which should take a few days and the ending just needs rounding off neatly.

The major issue at the moment is the title.  Loose Louche simply won’t do so I’m actively considering alternatives. This is actually turning out to be more difficult than writing the actual book; the story just tells itself and all I usually have to do is write it down.  The title has to be worked out and worked up.  I’m reluctant to have something which is too bland, it needs to show that we’re following an adventure in a somewhat surreal world. I’m quite sure I can work out a sub-title easily enough once the main title is sorted.

Then I have to arrange a cover illustration, probably using some of the character illustrations that were shown in the last blog post. I have an idea of what I want to do, I’m just not sure I can pull it off graphically.

Finally, I have to think seriously about marketing.  There’s no point in going to all this trouble if nobody can find the book to read it, so I can see some serious learning curves up ahead.

Getting Close

The word count is now around 78k, I’ve still got quite a bit of story to tell and it looks as though the finished work will run to around 85-90k words.  We now have the final member of the team in place: MG. He’s already proved his worth with a daring rescue. He’s still struggling with the new ‘world’ that he’s suddenly discovered, but I’m sure he’ll be fine.

We’ve had our first serious encounter with the villain (after all this time). it didn’t go well, but there’s still a chance to rectify that situation  I have a feeling that we need a liaison type, contact with the local police. It would certainly simplify things and hopefully set up some interesting conflicts involving LW

Just read some advice that we should really be ‘saving the world’ and that the journey our Main Character undertakes should be global in scale. Can’t say that I’m going to start the whole story over again and go down that route. I’m going to run with this idea and see how it pans out in the end.

Learning Curve

In total I received a dozen critiques from Critters Workshop.  The general consensus seemed to be good. People like the story and the way it’s being told, although the fact I labelled it incorrectly as a short story rather than a novel confused some of the reviewers. I won’t make that mistake again.

I’ve made a point of going through the work, and checking the punctuation and grammar generally and made quite a few corrections as a result.  Also made some slight clarifications to the text. There are a few British/American discrepances that I’ve tried to resolve, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

I stand by my earlier comment that the critticism process is valuable and useful, especially if, like me, you’re starting out. I will repeat with later sections of the work.

Currently running over 66k words. I’ve been careful to add more action, and I feel we are approaching some sort of climax. The newest (and, maybe final) character hasn’t yet made an appearance but I do have a vitally important task for him when he gets here.

The one thing that is still causing me concern is the title. I’m still looking for one.

Feedback

I submitted the first draft of the first chapter to the Critters Workshop and I’ve now received the results. So far four separate critiques have come in and they all seem to say much the same. The content is good and the story takes them along, however there are some issues with the grammar and puntuation.

In my defence this was only a first draft and hadn’t been proof read to any great extent. Plus, I had a bit of a struggle getting the story actually uploaded via the submission screen, and it seems I may have lost a little of the formtting in the process.

Still, I now know that I need to pay a lot more attention to grammar, instead of taking for granted that I’d get it right first time.

There were also a few minor comments about the characters that I’ve been ablt to address.  While doing that, I had a second, longer think about Lucy the Guardian of the Knowledge, or LW. When I thought about her I could see that there was a serious discrepancy between her character at initial appearance and the characteristics she displays later in a more confrontational situation. That’s now sorted, I think.

All in all the critiquing process seems to be well worth the effort involved. It’s always good and useful to get some proper and independant views on your work.

Action

Added some action scenes recently.  Marc and his team needed to get out more, so they have. Been upsetting the opposition to an extent, although they’re going to have to do a fair bit more of that before they’re done.  i just hope it doesn’t get out of hand.

LW, Marc’s girl friend is developing into a very strong character in her own right.  Not afraid to take on the big boys and determined not to be left out ‘just because she’s female’.   I think I’ll have to give her more of a back story to explain where she’s coming from.

I was thinking about adding one more character to the team, mainly to deal with the more mundane real world sorts of jobs that they might be asked to undertake as well as being able to act as a sort of ‘first reserve’ when they need an extra pair of hands.

I could probably also do with more activity in the office block. So far there hasn’t been any at all and while the peculiar circumstances of the building could explain a lot of that, the fact that it is so immense suggests there should be something going on more or less constantly.

I’ve been managing about 1500 words a day for the last few days so I’m feeling quite productive, although I imagine I’m going to have to go back and re-write some sections to tighten them up a bit.

Total word count is now approaching 57k so I’m almost 75% of the way to my target. Not really sure if the story will end on target or if I’ll over run, not a real issue either way.

Strange Horizons

Just had a rejection email from Strange Horizons for my story, ‘A Winters Tale.’ I have to say I’m not surprised, my story when I had a deeper look at their output was not a good fit for them.  It’s a fairly straight forward beginning, middle and a rather brutal end sort of thing, whereas their stories seem to be more fluid in their approach to story telling. Not to worry. Now I can use it elsewhere.

It’s probably a bit too long to add to the other short stories on here (5000 words), and it will I think, make a decent opening chapter for a full length novel. It’s set in 1873 and located on the moors in the North of England. The basic premise although it wasn’t explicit in the short version is, ‘How would the Victorians deal with an alien presence?’

It’s going to have to take its place in the queue of projects that I’ve already got in mind. But it won’t be forgotten.

Also added a couple more short stories to the site. Follow the link on the right of this page.

Playing Catch Up

Real life has got in the way for the past week or so. and I’ve not been able to keep to my preferred schedule.  I’ve been able to get a few words down here and there and move the story along at least a little, just not as much as I’d hoped and of course this blog hasn’t been updated in that time. Still, we’re back.

Marc has now got his extra member of staff and very useful she’s proving to be.  Her background is a perfect match to Marc’s needs, (that was lucky?), and importantly she’s been accepted by the rest of the team. Purely coincidentally she’s in possession of an important item that might come in useful later, it remains to be seen.

2k words so far today and still got an hour or so before i need to start thinking about bed. the overall word count is now approaching 44k. my aim is to finish this story by the end of the month. it looks as though it can be done, but it’ll probably be a close run thing.

Still not decided on a suitable title, I’m hoping something will pop into my head when I’m not thinking about it. i just wish it would happen now rather than on the day I decide to publish.