A nice little bookshelf

Last month I realised I didn’t have a full set of all my novels in print, and none with the new covers, so I bought one of each off CreateSpace*.

Here’s my tiny bookshelf:

6 books by Lee McAulay and Vita Tugwell

I’m pleased with the covers but some of the interior files can be smartened up. I uploaded The Bead Merchant in 2012, for goodness’ sake, and not only have ebooks moved on since then, my interior layout skills have improved too.

For the sake of the postage I decided not to buy paperback copies of the Petticoat Katie short stories I put in print, although that would be instructive as – again – I uploaded some of those in 2012, before I began writing Maiden Flight.

But half a dozen novels isn’t enough.

It’s barely the foundation of a body of work.

Half a dozen novels, not even under the same name, not in the same series or universe. A bare scratch in the surface of literature, of whatever definition.

A handful of blocks to build a cathedral, one word at a time.

Back to the writing desk.

*You can do the same here.

Published in: on March 11, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

Heatwave Hiatus

Yep, there’s a heatwave in the UK at the moment. I blame that for my lack of progress editing my next novel.Far away in a book

Wait, I hear you say. Haven’t you just finished editing – and publishing – a novel?

Yes, yes. SHADOWBOX and all that. Drove me temporarily 1832-nuts, and it’s still not over as the Goodreads Giveaway ends on 31 July.

However, last year was the year I wrote three novels.

I published one last year (the Vita Tugwell authored Boom Town) and so far this year I’ve edited and published Shadowbox.

That leaves the third one I wrote last year.

Ideally I’d have published it before I even began writing Shadowbox but, d’you know what? I just wanted to get on with the writing.

Now I’ve had a look – a proper, in-depth look – at the remaining work to be done on this third one, I reckon I might just get it finished and published before the Autumnal Equinox.

If I get my skates on.

And like the procrastination that delayed the publication of Shadowbox, I only have myself to blame if it’s late.

Heatwave or not.

Published in: on July 23, 2014 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on Heatwave Hiatus  
Tags: ,

Halfway Through Edits on Project AR

Halfway through edits on Project AR. Good progress has been made, but I should be further along the road to publication by now, and the drag on my writing schedule is starting to show.

One thing I hadn’t expected was a slowdown in late January. There was a good reason for this. I was lucky enough to get on a week-long professional training course, but I hadn’t anticipated the mind-numbing effect this would have on my non-work faculties.

Sure, I anticipated I’d be tired. I knew I’d be out of my usual routine, and I’d have homework to do in the evenings after the day’s work was done.

But I hadn’t figured on how suffocating – how draining – would be the combination of a slide show, with a full pack of all the slides printed out, and a 300-page manual of the subject matter, and a trainer verbally adding her own interpretation to the material.Reading plenty of books

Eight hours a day.

I know the theory that different people learn in different ways but – sheesh! – applying them all at the same time? Just. Doesn’t. Work.

Net Result: No writing or editing. None on the weekend that followed. Little the following week either. I’m just about back to normal now, almost a month later.

On the positive side, I did some artwork, including the new covers for the Vita Tugwell novels, new covers for the Cuckoo Club short stories that directly tie into Project AR and a mock-up of the cover for Project AR itself. It’s not ready yet, but it’s close. I wrote some blog posts for later, and started to work on a month of posts to go up when I finally get AR published. But I did no new writing, or plotting, or editing. I didn’t make the progress I’d expected.

The reason I need to explain all this is more as a reminder to myself than an excuse, though.

Because I have another of these courses scheduled in a few weeks’ time, and I don’t expect the effect to be any less stuffy.

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 10:28 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A Hundred Tales of Kanban for Writers

Way back when Dean Wesley Smith started his 2011 Writing Challenge, I threw myself into writing a bunch of short stories, mostly to back up my Cuckoo Club novels.

I was reminded of this recently by a post over on The Daring Novelist, when Camille LaGuire blogged about What’s Next on her writing schedule as part of a ROW80 update. Once I’d started my reply I realised it would be unbecoming of me to take over her comments section with the details and decided it really ought to be a blog post of its own.

Blogging’s like that. So here’s my words on the subject of writing a bundle of short stories.

I began to build a list of possible short stories by filling a page with titles – hand-written, very small, one per line and I think I stopped at a hundred. I did it in my spare spare time – waiting for a takeaway, or in a cafe while waiting for a friend to arrive for coffee, or while my PC booted up. Any five minutes or so when I couldn’t dig out inspiration much beyond a handful of words.

The titles which appealed especially I transferred to a five-by-ten table and began to work out which theme the title suggested. This involved coloured pencils and subtitles and lots of footnotes. Lots of fun.

Those that REALLY appealed got written.

Out of that exercise I got the stories I’ve written as Vita Tugwell – including the novels – and about a dozen of the Tales from the Cuckoo Club Archives.

The latest of these, Carter’s Loss, will be published as an ebook across all the usual resources (Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Xinxii, etc.) when I’ve given it the once-over and added a few zingy bits. Or maybe a McGuffin.

I’ve got nearly eighty titles left on the list.

Some of those, I suspect, will never be anything more than a neat title, and others will veer off into a new series of novels or novellas (hint: two at least, very promising conjectures both). Some of them were simply titles that provided a link to the next title in the list as I pulled them out of my imagination. They were cheesy, but essential, and the goal was to come up with a hundred titles for short stories.


And then…

I read a post over on InkPunks titled Getting a Handle on Your Short Story Queue.  The post talks about a technique called kanban, which I’d never heard of before – it’s a project management process for visualising progress of project tasks and phases.


I won’t go into it here, as the explanation over on InkPunks is so clear.

Kanban example from inkpunks.com

Kanban example from inkpunks.com

Anyhow, I transferred all my writing projects to a spreadsheet mock-up of the kanban process, with suitable phases and tasks according to my style of writing.

Now I can see how many of the hundred titles are lined up for actual word production, and how many stories will never get past the first assessment stage (i.e. I can’t see how or why I might write a story about That, whatever That might be).

Using the kanban process lets you see what’s next in the queue for writing – and move things around if you don’t feel ready to write a novel, right now, but might have the juice for a short horror story or a teeny paranormal romance novelette (no, I’m still waiting for the inspirational moonlight to strike me on that one too, hehehe).

It’s a good feeling of anticipation when you move a project into the Production phase.

And it’s a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when you move that project – that novel, short story, novella, novelette or non-fiction volume – into the phase marked “Complete”.

So you can start on the next.