Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Draft Done!

I... I think I've just sent in the first draft of the new book...

It's rough around the edges, with some bits missing, some chapters blank... I don't mind this at all, because when my agent and me editor look at a first draft like this, they're focussing on the big picture, things like;

Does the story make sense?

Does the story work?

Are the characters consistent?

Is it as tense as it needs to be?

Does it have enough pace?

Is the book any GOOD?

These are all things I don't know, because when your head is down and you're working away, you can't look up and step back far enough to see how everything slots together. I hope they don't have any major issues with it. I hope they like it. I hope they think it's GOOD.

As I explained in a previous post, I scrapped most of what I'd written for this book at the end of December and started again. In the last month, I've had to average about twice my usual daily word amount to reach the deadline. It has been as HELLISH as it has been rewarding. I've barely been able to take any breaks, not even for twitter. The work isn't over, of course it's not, there's still a lot to do — and if my editor or agent find any major flaws in the book, that work will double.

But I managed it. I got the first draft done by writing twice as much per day as usual, and the only way I could do that was by having ridiculous amounts of fun. I wish I could tell you about it — I wish I could tell you the title that spun it off in this brand new direction — but all these things are yet to come.

Right now, though, we are gearing up to release the Armageddon Outta Here paperback in two days. As usual, I found myself in a Catch-22 position. I had a paperback coming out of a book most of you already bought in hardback (or trade paperback — the hardback-sized paperbacks), and I know a lot of you would want every edition available — because you're uber-geeks, just like me. So I wanted to give you an extra story or two (or three, as it turned out) to make it worthwhile. Of course, by including new stories, it kinda also makes people who were NOT intending to buy the paperback want to buy it, cuz they want the new stuff.

I don't like making my readers buy multiple copies of my books. If you want to, hey, go right ahead, I won't stop you, but I've never wanted anyone to feel left out if they don't buy every edition. There are some things, unfortunately, that I can't win no matter what I do. So apologies, for those who feel like they ARE missing out. That was not my intention.

But what ARE these new stories? Well, for those Billy-Ray fans out there, two of these stories are about him. They were sequences that just wouldn't fit in the last few books. Death and Texas throws our favourite hit man deluxe into a Texas Chainsaw Massacre situation, with a notable twist. Eye of the Beholder, meanwhile, explores some of his history — including how and why he lost his eyes.

And then there's Theatre of Shadows. The original version of this was written in an afternoon, behind the scenes at the roleplaying event in Dublin last year. It was at this time that I learned one very important lesson about writing — don't try to write and publish a story in the same day.

The original was flawed. This new version is radically different, and it takes the original's place in canon. So that story that was sent to everyone who took part is now a one-off, never to be reprinted.

There are some other, minor changes to one or two other stories in the collection. For instance, I noticed a mistake too late in Across a Dark Plain, which made a mess of where the story sits in continuity. This mistake is now fixed, as will be a corresponding mistake in one of the books. Remember when the Dead Men were talking about the war, and Shudder's birthday? There was a pretty significant typo that I hadn't spotted, which basically set that story a hundred years after I had meant it to take place. All that is now changed, and once again the stories make sense.

I think.

The paperback is out on Thursday, and right now I'm going to go shopping. The cupboards are bare. I won't be able to poke my head up for too long, though — I got work to do.

Good thing I love it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

TDOTL Paperback Cover

Minions... BEHOLD, the genius of Mr Tom Percival... 

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Post of 2015

I have just seen Tom Percival's rough version of what the paperback cover for The Dying of the Light ... and all I can say is WOW.

This cover needs to be a poster. You'll be seeing it yourself in a matters of weeks, and then you can join me in demanding more posters. MORE!

Before the paperback of TDOTL comes out, of course, there'll be the paperback edition of Armageddon Outta Here. We'll be using a slightly altered version of the hardback cover for this because I didn't want anyone out there picking it up thinking it's one of the main books — I want it to be as obvious as possible that it's a collection of stories. There ARE going to be three new stories in it, though, about which I'll go into more detail closer to publication.

The Skulduggery series is, of course, now over, and I'm working on this mysterious new trilogy of mine. I had a third of it written by the time TDOTL was released, and then I went on a tour that took me to the other side of the world, and writing stopped.

When I got back, I had to write those three new short stories for AOH — so writing of the new series was postponed.

Then I needed a break. I just needed one or two weeks to just stop working and relax. So no writing got done.

Then it was December, and I sat down to write the remaining two thirds of the book. And I sat. And I sat. And nothing was happening. My absolute deadline for getting the first book finished was the end of January, and I had a LOT to do. But nothing was happening.

The writing had stalled.

This, as you can imagine, was not good. This was ever-so-slightly worrying. It had happened before, of course. It had happened with The Faceless Ones and again with Kingdom of the Wicked. Writer's block? Maybe. If such a thing exists, then I probably had it.

December carried on. I spoke to my agent and my editor just before the Christmas break, because the title I had been planning on using (or something similar) had been used by someone else a year earlier. We'd been having discussions about what it was going to be called now. None of my ideas were hitting in the way I needed.

But then, right before the Christmas break, the title came to me. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is — not yet. But it came to me and my eyes widened, and I sent off an email. A short email. Two words long. My title. My agent and my editor got back to me immediately — perfect.

We got on the phone, discussed it, said merry Christmas, and hung up.

Happy once again, I sat down at my desk and began to WRITE.

Except I didn't.

The book was still stalled.

The day before Christmas Eve I was sitting at my computer, staring at the screen. I remembered how I had been blocked when writing The Faceless Ones and Kingdom of the Wicked. When I was writing TFO, I was in the process of buying a house and I was about to move in. Something like this is incredibly distracting, and probably accounted for my inability to write. I broke through that block one day (on New Year's Eve, 2008) simply because enough time had passed. I didn't question it, I just wrote. When I was writing KOTW, I got halfway through and things slowed down.  I wasn't blocked, exactly, but I wasn't inspired. There was something missing. I looked at the title — Kingdom of the Wicked — and I asked myself what does this title say to me?

For some reason, it said 'alternate dimension'.

That's what was missing. Immediately I was writing about shunting and Mevolent and a world ruled by sorcerers, and slotting all that into what I'd already written about Argeddion and Kitana.

So, two days before Christmas, I looked at this title I'd just come up with, and I asked myself what does this title say to me?

And it told me. And suddenly everything changed.

The core idea is still the same — it's still about a 16 year old girl who is being chased across America by demons — but it has grown. It has expanded. It has evolved.

So I scrapped what I'd written. I managed to salvage maybe half of it, but that meant I was now even worse off than I had been. The thing is, though, I was now inspired. This was FUN again.

My deadline is still the end of this month. In the last week, I have written enough to that I have once again got a third of it written. I calculate that I will need to write twice as much as I usually do per day to get it done in time. Yesterday was my first attempt to do this. I wrote EXACTLY twice as much as I usually do. Yesterday was a good day. Today is going to be a good day too.

It has to be.