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Infinite homework report

June 6, 2019
my desk, where the infinite homework happens

Oh hey, it’s been a minute.

So. It’s June, and I’m just about finished with the second draft of a YA sci fi novel. The story I never intended to write. And I still love it. And that feels like a really good sign.

Here’s the playlist I’ve been listening to during this rewrite.

The process of writing this story has been one of evolution. Each draft expanding on the last. The very first iteration was a 19k novella draft, written almost exactly a year ago, on a total whim. A story from the ether channeled through my fingers. It’s now about 65k, more complicated, more punchy, a little less festive-themed. I’ve never written anything in this accumulative way before. It really is true that every story is different!

I’m pretty happy with its bones, so fingers & toes crossed a good edit and polish will make it shiny & submittable, and I can send my little monster hunters out into the world. I’d hoped to be ready to pitch it in #PitMad tonight! But alas. I’ll have to catch the next one…


Infinite homework report

March 14, 2017
my desk, where the infinite homework happens

It’s been *coughcoughmumble* since I did one of these updates. Luckily these things aren’t graded, huh.

Although honestly, there isn’t much to say about my infinite homework except: toiling ever onwards. Neil Gaiman said: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.”

So bloody true.

However, I am now practically finished with Silver & Iron. I know, I know. I’ve been saying that for a while. This time I really truly am. For reals. Honestly. Well… as finished as I think I can be. At some point, you have to stick a fork in it, right? And we’ve passed a lot of points by now. I wrote a first draft, then completely rewrote a third of it (30k words trunked, ouch), then I did a substantive edit (meaty stuff) followed by continuity corrections and then a line edit (wordy stuff)… I changed a few names, and did a few spellchecks. And here I am. I want to do one more pass — because I haven’t read it yet, from start to finish, like a reader — but I’m feeling ready to push this little sucker out of the nest and start hatching something new. Of course I could just keep rewriting, and rewriting. And rewriting. But for the sake of my sanity, I need to take what I’ve learned and apply it. Forward motion. Good luck, little book.

Future WIPs

Contenders… in their corners:

Space opera triology – a planetary civil war generations in the waging. Spies, mercenaries, phaser fights, human-AI hybrids, a hidden queen. But also buddy fiction. in space. With themes of motherhood, and autonomy, and choosing your own fate. I’ve been doodling on this idea for years now and think The Time Has Come.

Multiverse love story – two people meant for each other meet in a place where the the gap between worlds is stretched thin. In another world, they’ve already met. Lives that intersect, reflect, parallel. It’s like my Time Travellers Wife story. It’s percolating. I don’t think I’m ready to write this yet, not the way I want it to be told.

Some kind of post apocalyptic tale – just not sure what my spin is yet.

Sequel(s) to Silver & Iron – because I’ve left it open, and I have an outline of where Rukan goes next. My mood board includes: immortality, sacrificing for love, carrion eating slugs, thermal hot pools surrounded by snow, fur, bearded dudes, perfume, canals, fungi grown in hinterland caves. However aforementioned sanity requires me to take a break from her world for the time being.

Shortie shorts

I do really want to finish “A Swim with Bede”… maybe I’ll be able to, once the book is out of my hair. I still like it, even after all this time… it still makes me smile!


Infinite homework report

October 28, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

Oh man. I am not going to finish this book by end of October. Three days. THREE! How did that happen. Life conspires. Oh well, I suppose it was a self(inflicted)imposed deadline – it shall be done in November instead. This only pushes out me being able to start on a ShinyNewStory(TM)… which patiently waits. All shiny & new.

So. I have 40-something pages left to edit, and the first draft of a query letter. Once both things are done I will be putting them aside for a couple of months, and letting them settle. Letting my brain have a break.

I would love to wipe my hands and say DONESKI for REALSKI – to throw that query letter + 3 chapters into a million agents’ mailboxes – but I just think it’s not quite polished enough yet. You only get one chance to write and finish your first book. You ought to make it the best book you can. And I need some distance before I can do a final passthrough, do a slash & burn with the red pen.

So it will sit and percolate, and I shall entertain myself with ShinyNewStory(TM) in the meantime, and in the new year I’ll pick Rukan up again and dust her off and finish that sucker. For realski.

There’s no other progress to report… All my writing time has been focused on Rukan.


The weird stuff I have googled while writing this book

September 25, 2015

So one of the fun things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up. And one of the annoying things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up…! because stuff must be based in realism. I always write with browser windows open on Google, Etymology Online and – and I’m constantly checking things.

I kept track of a few of the searches I made while writing Rukan… gives you an idea of what weird & wonderful stuff I have read about!

  • How soon after death should someone be buried (ugh, right?)
  • Climate where forest fires are common
  • Words that end in -mancy
  • How does police corruption typically start
  • Composition of bronze
  • When do linden trees flower
  • Symbols and colours of death
  • How fast do pigeons fly
  • End of summer harvest crops
  • Harvest seasons of ancient Israel
  • How ceramic stoves work
  • Economic sanctions
  • Animal symbols and totems
  • How long do moths live
  • How long does it take to sail Sydney to Auckland (to gauge relative distances between my book’s countries)
  • Climate types
  • Who cleans up a crime scene
  • How do you make yellow laundry soap
  • History of traffic control
  • History of kohl
  • Metals in meteorites
  • Yams (apparently most of the world call a sweet potato a yam…?! what I call a yam is actually an “oca” from South America…)
  • Early mail systems


Infinite homework report

June 30, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

I have 3 chapters left in this first editing pass of Rukan. Eeeesh, I am so close! It almost feels like a real story now!

This pass has been a real tough slog. A lot of rewriting. Very slow going. A lot of angst. It has taken me so much longer than I wanted it to.

Next steps are:

  • Another pass with more rewriting (minimal) & updates as per notes I’ve made so far & continuity edits that haven’t been done yet. I’m feeling a bit stuck on those 3 chapters so I might do this first, then come back to fix those guys up all proper-like.
  • A read-through pass. To make sure it flows. Read & then edit, or edit as I go? Not sure yet.
  • (Possibly another massive rewrite if I decide that the beginning does, in fact, need to be drastically changed. Ugh. Save me.)
  • A printed out read-through. By now I hope to be down to line edits & nitpicks. Spellcheck time. Red pen time. (YESSS.)
  • TA DA. We have 1 finished manuscript and 1 utterly over it writer. Goal: October. 3 months to get here!

Future WIP(s)

Because I feel like I’m getting down to the pointy end of Rukan, I’ve been daydreaming about what I’ll write next. It’s like a treat. Shiny new ideas! They sparkle, all tempting & fresh & unsullied by actual work. The total opposite of how I feel about the current WIP. Will I do a post apocalyptic story? Urban fantasy set in London? Or perhaps the sci fi that I started writing years ago & didn’t know how to finish. Well. I know how to finish a book now. I could dust that off & start version bajillion-point-oh. Can’t wait!


Wednesday writing: mini Nanowrimo

November 5, 2014

OK, I’m doing my own mini version of Nanowrimo this year. I decided on 1st November. Hey, that’s better than deciding on 2nd November.

There is no way I could manage 1,667 words a day right now – snatching writing during naptimes is hard enough, particularly with the currently disturbed naptimes that require a lot of help with this crazy sleep thing. (So hard! learning how to go to sleep!)

So my goal is 580 words a day for November. That will mean writing every evening as well as naptimes. (I shouldn’t be blogging right now…)

That’ll bring me to ~90,000 words and my big goal: end of a zero draft.

I’m excited about that reaching that goal. Also kind of terrified. See, vomiting new words can be done mindlessly. You can deathmarch a story into existence. But the fixing of those words? That comes next and that is difficult. That requires actual mental effort. Sheesh.

I have a huuuuuuge amount of [square brackets] in my zero draft so far. Places where things must be explained. Historical events and persons that must be conjured. Pretty setting that must come to life. Names that must be invented. NAMES FOR EVERYTHING. (Fantasy. The making up of shit is both fun and tiring.) And I want those names to be consistent. I want names in other languages to seem like they fit together. I want a nice selection of names that have different beats and rolls and patterns – names that aren’t all double-syllable-ending-in-A (I do that.)

The naming of things takes me a long time. I flit and ponder. Bang my head on the desk. Drink coffee. Pootle around and This is why I shove stuff in square brackets as I write: rather than stop & think, I can keep the flow of words alive and come back to it later.

As well as my story file, I have a separate doc where I have every single made-up name listed, including the yet-to-be-determined square bracketed names…

[Blahblah] bazaar

Lake [Name]






So when my zero draft is complete, one of the things I have to do to turn it into a first draft is invent a LOT of things. En passant, my distinction is that nobody can read a zero draft – it wouldn’t make sense, there are too many holes & things missing – but a first draft could be read from start to finish. (Although still requires a lot of editing & fixing.)

I feel like it could take me another year just to move from zero to first.

It’s daunting.

But I just gotta get on with it.