2016: Sabbatical In Review

Welcome back. It’s been an odd year.

Yes, I have been busy, spending much of the summer whittling spoons in the shed, badly.

No, I haven’t written much, and certainly not anything I thought worth publishing.

Yes, I have read quite a few books.

No, I didn’t read as many as I hoped.

Yes, I found Albatross.

No, I didn’t think it was worth publishing. Not in its current state. As a part of my body of work, it stands alone, although probably less so than I think. (Apparently writers are not great judges of their own work.)

Will I publish it, and the dead novel from 2012, at some point in the future? Maybe.

The fourth Petticoat Katie novel is still waiting for me to iron out the kinks in the storyline and find a decent title that makes it stand out from the other three (Maiden Flight, Boom Town and Monkey Business), while showing that it’s still part of the series.

New stories beckon. Other craft and creative pursuits whisper to me, when my hands are idle. The garden always needs attention, one way or another.

So, in sum: life goes on. Raise a glass of whatever you fancy to the year’s end, and a new beginning. While I can’t promise to post every week, to quote Sam Gamgee:

“Well, I’m back.”


P.S. Another reason for posting again: it keeps the spambots away from the regulars.

Published in: on December 31, 2016 at 12:00 am  Comments (4)  
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Goal for 2016: Sabbatical

I have one – and only one – goal for 2016: taking a sabbatical.

I might post if I publish something, but for now, I’m off.

Have a good year!

Published in: on January 1, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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One Down, Many More To Follow

A couple of months ago I wrote a post justifying why the wordcount’s low on my current work-in-progress.

Basically, my creative time is limited – as is my creative energy. And I’ve been busy paving over my garden so I can free up more of my creative time and energy to write, instead of controlling parts of the garden that aren’t productive.

This work is now over, thankfully.

Summer is heading full-tilt towards us, less than a week before the solstice. The grass has gone, the paving is laid, and the remainder of the work falls under the heading of general pottering about – in other words, no heavy lifting.

Like finishing a novel, it’s been a long task, enjoyable, stretching, with a few false starts and moments of trepidation. Now it’s done, I can sit back and admire it look at all the bits I’d do differently if I had to do it again.

Bee on white oregano flower

My imagination hasn’t been idle, though.

I’ve sketched out a few short stories on rainy days when working outside was impossible, and pondered the work still to be done on the fourth Petticoat Katie novel with a view to finishing it as soon as I can.

More stories await. Characters clamour to say their piece, to have their lives imagined into being, to take me on their travels as if I were their own personal Boswell.

And now, of course, I have a neat and tidy garden space within which to imagine new tales while watching the bees amongst the oregano.

Published in: on June 17, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on One Down, Many More To Follow  
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2015: The Story Begins

2015: A brand new year to play with.

The year is already seven days old, so it seems remiss to write greetings* when most of us are already back at work.

However, there’s an ideal opportunity to use this first post of 2015 to set out my goals for the year ahead, insofar as writing is concerned.

Day Job Rules state that any goal – any objective – should be SMART:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

(I made my own graphic for this. Click on the image to see it full size in a new tab. There’s a touch of Lovecraft about the definitions… BTW the lovely font on the capitals is SchnorkelCaps by Manfred Klein)

Steampunk SMARTs - the SMART principles for Cthulhu and Project Yog-Sothothery (c) Lee McAulay 2015

And so to:

The Plan for 2015

  1. Write. First project planned is a new Petticoat Katie novel, which I’ll try to take shorter than the last three.
  2. Write some more. Subsequent projects are lined up like dominoes. Each has their own place on the Kanban chart, and on my Five Year Plan.
  3. Specifically, I’m aiming to write at least a thousand words of fiction each day, four days a week on average (hehe, that should give me plenty of time for this and that and gardening and conventions).
  4. Post here every Wednesday. The WordPress schedule facility is excellent for this.
  5. Learn to write better stories. Guidance is available from seasoned professionals.
  6. Post a series of linked posts around THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN, like I did for SHADOWBOX in 2014. This has to tie in with the events that took place in the novel around the Spring Equinox, so that’s a nice set of deadlines.
  7. Keep up with social media. I don’t do Facebook and rarely venture onto Twitter (waves) so blogging is my main outlet. I have places I regularly comment (you know who you are :)), but I’d like to increase the variety.
  8. Publish (at least) two novels. I did it last year. I don’t see obstacles right now to doing this in 2015.

I might add a few more as the year goes by, but that’s enough for now.


* I’ve commented (on Myth & Moor: “2015, a whole new year to play with. It will hold its own sorrows, but also provides the opportunity to make fresh delights and new art. Hope yours is fabulous!” – and at The Daring Novelist. Sigh. I need to get out more).

Published in: on January 7, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on 2015: The Story Begins  
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Been A Busy Bee

Bee on a white oregano flower

I have been a busy little bee since my last post.

Editing continues on the current project. I aim to have this finished by the end of August.

In the meantime, just before the weather broke, I got out early in the morning to pick brambles. Not normally a mornings person, I realised that instead of lying in bed wide awake waiting for the alarm clock, if I got up I could pick a kilo or so before I had to go to the Day Job.

So I did.

And then I did this:

Home made bramble jelly, August 2014

Home made bramble jelly, August 2014

According to folk legend* you’re supposed to pick blackberries before the end of September, when the Devil spits on them.

Apparently.

But now I am feeling somewhat smug, with two kilos of bramble jelly (seedless jam) in my store cupboard, wobbly and purple and slightly sharp, ready for the onset of winter.

Youse can all spit on the blackberries now, whenever y’like.

And while waking early and then getting up removes the possibility of roaming that lovely half-asleep state where stories seem to spring from the imagination, you can’t spread dreams on buttered toast.


*[mentioned in my jam recipe book and also in Crafts From The Countryside by Patricia de Menezes, which I encountered some months ago in a second-hand bookshop in Hay-On-Wye (although I first read it in Smethwick Library, IIRC)]

Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  
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2013: The year of three novels.

2013 was a remarkable year. The year I wrote three novels.

Let me state that again, for my own sake as much as yours.

I. Wrote. Three. Novels.

This is on top of a full-time Day Job and more than a dozen minor life events that took up weeks, weekends, time and emotional space I could have been writing. I should also give thanks to my partner for the times I’ve been lost in a book, either reading or writing or research.

Three novels.

Sure, I have to finish two of them. The plots are in place and I’m at the stage where I sift layers of colour and texture over them like a Buddhist sand painting, pulling scenery out of the darkness. I’ve made a start on one and have until the end of January to finish. Then the next, by the end of Feb. (First readers, you have been warned…)

The other surprise about my Year Of Three Novels is that my ability to write – 212,000 words, not including blog posts or emails or other writing not connected with novels or short stories – was focused by planning ahead. I have a five-year plan which shows me what my next writing projects are, well in advance, so I don’t have to worry about running out of ideas.

My aim for 2014 is to keep up the pace. On my plan 2014 has two novels scheduled to be written.

However, writing three – or two – novels in a year only adds to my Body Of Work on one condition: they must be published.

And that’s the first writing challenge I face in 2014.

Published in: on January 8, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Diversions

Currently trying to concentrate on editing my “Jack The Ripper” novel, and finding this difficult, so I’ve written a bundle of short stories instead.

steampunk keyboardProcrastination is a wonderful thing…

The first of these is a steampunk romp (or at least I hope it is) which is running close to 9,000 words, which is a little long for a short story.

It will be up on Amazon some time in the next week, shortly followed by another in the same series.

I’ve got ideas for about fifteen of them, but at the rate I’m writing them, it will take until March before I’m done!

This is a new venture, a set of fun stories that are ridiculous and frivolous and great fun to write. I’m trying to channel Wodehouse and Wells and Conan Doyle into an utterly silly couple of characters. Hope it works!

And when I get bored with this, the novels beckon…

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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