Growing Stronger

I’ve been thinking about how I’ve grown as a writer since I wrote Warlock For Hire. There are things that I did back then that I wouldn’t do now. One thing is the scenes I added about Doris and Gavin. Those scenes were purely for comic value and add absolutely nothing to the story. Readers have enjoyed those scenes and nobody has ever complained about them, but they don’t need to be in the book. I think everything else in that book is quite tight in regards to the plot. They add a bit of flavour to Eddie’s life, I guess, so they’re doing no harm by being in there.

These scenes with Doris and Gavin feature in the first three books, but you can see I’ve learned a lesson as early as the second book, Warlock Wanted. In this book the D and G scenes lead to a conversation that actually helps Eddie figure out what is happening to his friends.

Something else I used to do in my earlier days as a writer was something that the Game of Thrones writers tend to be doing in season 8. Having things happen for shock value. Is a reader, or viewer, I do like to be shocked by something that happens, but that shock has to be earned and it has to make sense. Something should only happen if it serves the story. I don’t think I knew that in my early books. The Eddie Lancaster books are fairly safe, but the Cedarstone Chronicles I think did suffer from unnecessary shocks.

My skills have developed a lot since I started out with my first book, Cursed, and they will continue to develop more. At least I hope they will. When I started writing about Eddie I made sure that my writing was a lot tighter and neater than when I wrote the Cedarstone Chronicles. And now that I’m preparing the Jacob Graves series (more on that later) I want to make sure I carry some of the lessons I learned from Eddie to this new project.

Abomination Preview

A brief snippet from the upcoming novel Abomination: The Cedarstone Chronicles Book 5. 

Clara and Arthur hurried into the living room, both dreading what they were about to see. Bianca was pointing at the television where a newscaster was speaking. In the corner of the screen was footage of soldiers putting up roadblocks and checkpoints around Cedarstone. 

“…Nobody has been allowed to enter Cedarstone for the past several hours. The Home Secretary released a statement just thirty minutes ago,” said the newscaster. The screen cut to the Home Secretary, a thin skeletal woman with ear-length grey hair. Clara thought she looked like she had just crawled out of a grave. 

“It gives me great sadness to announce that the town of Cedarstone has fallen victim to a cowardly yet severe terrorist attack. Earlier this morning, unknown persons released a deadly virus in several locations across the town. Twenty-three people have been reported dead and hundreds more have been infected. Medical teams are working relentlessly to find a cure for this unknown virus and security agencies are liaising with the police to discover who is responsible for this vile attack. Due to the contagious nature of this virus, Cedarstone has been completely quarantined. At this moment in time, nobody will be allowed to enter or exit the town with the exception of authorised military personnel. We will be setting up checkpoints as soon as possible where people may exit the town after a successful blood test has ensured that they are not infected. It saddens me further to tell you that intelligence suggests the terrorists responsible for this heinous act are still at large in Cedarstone. We must stop them from communicating with their comrades outside the town, therefore we will be suspending all modes of communication with the town, except for a secure line between my office and the commander of this operation. This is a terribly sad hour and our hearts are with the people of Cedarstone, but the United Kingdom is strong and stable and will not be beaten by this attack.” 

Nobody in the room spoke as the screen switched back to the newscaster. They were all in too much shock. She’d never expected the government to blatantly lie to the country. She’d always thought the security services worked so far in the shadows that even the cabinet ministers didn’t really know what was going on. That theory had just been shot to sunshine. 

The newscaster continued. “Prime Minister David Cameron was unavailable for comment on what can only be described as the biggest terrorist attack this country has seen since the London train bombings. Our thoughts are with the people of Cedarstone and their loved ones. In other news, there was a large disturbance in the city of Cairo in Egypt when the Obelisk cracked—” The screen suddenly turned black taking them all by surprise. 

“ What happened?”asked Bianca in bewilderment, looking around as if the answer was lurking in the room somewhere. 

“They cut the phone lines. Cedarstone has officially been cut off from the rest of the country,” Arthur said sombrely. 

“We need to do something. Now,” said Clara, turning to face Arthur. 

Abomination will be available on November 20th. 

What's Next?

Nothing is more exciting to me than a brand new project. Creating a new world with a new set of characters is something I live for. With Cedarstone coming to an end something will have to replace it. I could just focus on Arcane Inc. but I like having two projects running at a time, plus I have a lot of ideas I want to get out. I'm not sure what I'm going to replace The Cedarstone Chronicles with, but I have narrowed my list down to 3 options.  

Toby the Vampire

This is a series about a nerdy chap called Toby who becomes a vampire. It's set in the same universe as Arcane Inc. and The Cedarstone Chronicles. It's set in Medway and the vampires are all a part of the Syndicate, a group featured heavily in the fourth Arcane Inc. book (Warlock at War). 

High Fantasy Series

This one doesn't have a title yet, but I have done a fair bit of work on it. It's set in a completely fictional fantasy world with a plethora of fantasy races. I've already designed most of a map of the world and begun work on the history of the some of the civilisations. I've written a couple of short stories in the world.

Crime Series

This one is the furthest from anything I've written before. Set in the real world, it's about English crime families. I've done a lot of research into English crime families and started creating my own characters and crime networks. 

None of these ideas are fully developed yet, they're all works in progress. I've still got a few months before I need to decide which one I'm going to roll with, but I've already got a good idea which it will be. I won't say yet because I don't want to look silly if I change my mind. Which one interests you? Let me know in the comments. 

Throwing Out the Plan

So, I've come to the realisation that plans have been weighing me down. So, I'm ditching them. Not completely, that would be silly. Plans are good things. I am a very firm believer that you should plan the future and not just let things happen. I'm quite an organised person and I do have a very planned out schedule. However, my plans of late had become too rigorous. too restricting.

I had a very tight production schedule for this year. I knew how many books I would be publishing. I knew which books I would be publishing. I knew when I would be publishing. I knew every stage of every book from planning the outline to marketing it after publishing. And it was too much. It was going alright until this latest book. I failed to get the first draft ready in time for the first deadline, so I moved the deadline. Then I failed again. After that, I decided that my plan wasn't going to work. The last Arcane Inc book was late as well, though nowhere near as much. Tha plan was depressing me and sucking the enjoyment out of the work, so I decided to throw it out. I've decided I'll stick to the same format, just without the rigorous dates. I still have a number of books I want to get done, I still know which books they are and I still know which order they'll be written and published in. I've just removed the deadlines. And with that freedom everything is flowing so much easier, and I'm enjoying it again. 

It's not just my production plan that got thrown out. Warlock at War and Abomination are the first books where I've prepared more than just a rough outline before writing. I wrote detailed plans of each scene from the start of the book. And it sucked all the fun out of writing them. i haven't finished Abomination yet, but I think I might have gone a lot faster if I;d not planned so thoroughly. Luckily, I only planned it up to the big scene which I recently mentioned on Facebook. That scene is written now, and though I do know how this book will end, between then and now is a bit of mystery. And that's how I like it. I prefer to discover the story as I write it. I tried planning it all out and I hated it. So there you go, out with the plans. I'm back to loose outlines and unspecified publication dates. And trust me, I'll be working a lot faster and a lot harder because of it.  

The Trouble With Clara

For the last few weeks, I've been having trouble writing Abomination (Cedarstone Chronicles Book 5). Some scenes have gone easily whilst others have kept me agonising over them and each sentence has been like chewing glass. It was always Clara's scenes that were hard to write. I couldn;t figure out what it was about her but she just really bored me. I hated her, I even considered killing her off, but I can't do that because anyone who's read the Arcane Inc. books will know that she's still alive 2 years after the events in the Cedarstone Chronicles. Today was different. 

Today I wrote a scene in which Clara does something incredibly stupid (I know, she does that in every book) and it results in quite a bit of reflection for her. The consequences forced her to consider her actions and her outlook on things. It helps to develop her relationship with another character and suddenly she became far more interesting to me. 

I think that the problem in the previous scenes was that there was no development. No depth. She was just reacting to the events and going about trying to stop the bad things from happening. I need to go back over those scenes and really think about her motivations for what she's doing and I need to get her relating to the other characters more deeply. I'll do all that during the first run of edits. For now, I'm just happy to have fixed her.