Writing Updates/Progress – July 2019

Ahoy-hoy – and lo! do I return to the blogging fold with another writing update for those awaiting news of my next book, following another 2 month abscence (derp).

Since my previous update, I’ve broken two toes while training, had my eyebrow split wide open from an elbow in sparring and had it glued back together (being on the receiving end of wound glue for an elbow cut is quite the experience – ow), and I’ve also written another 3 chapters that have moved In His Darkened Halls‘ story forward a significant amount so that the end of the first draft is finally, finally, FINALLY within sight. I’m sorry it’s taken so long (3 years at this point, near enough, if you count the year I took out from writing it to write To Brave the End and Scars of the Sand).

In His Darkened Halls currently stands at about 180,000 words, give or take, and as such is currently about 75-80% done. As I’ve stated before, I’m pushing myself to get this done each day, and my breaks in work are still being spent writing on my phone so I can squeeze in every word I can through the day.

I’m quite excited to write this final arch of the book – it contains many scenes that I first imagined years ago before I had conceived the story fully, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these play out for my readers.

This has been a difficult book to write, I won’t beat about the bush when it comes to that (I learnt what ‘difficult 2nd book’ means during the writing process for this one, that’s for sure), but, for me, it’s been a satisfying and educating, if incredibly frustrating time. The cover is currently in the works and I’m awaiting the first initial sketches that expand upon the thumbnails I was first sent back in February. When appropriate, I will be doing a cover unveil.

Thank you everyone for your patience, as I’ve stated previously in earlier updates I’ve had a lot to contend with since 2017 that has enormously slowed the writing process, but it is progressing, and the first draft is very nearly done. I’m looking forward to some feedback soon from potential alpha readers.

And now, for the customary post-closing writing soundtrack – a song that has inspired a chapter of In His Darkened Halls – the grimly epic More of Fire Than Blood by hands-down my favourite band of all time, Anaal Nathrakh.

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In His Darkened Halls – Exerpt

Hey look at this, two blog posts in one week – impossible really ain’t a thing after all.

So it’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, it’s an important week and deserves more attention than it presently receives, as mental health is something that effects a great number of people worldwide and is something we will all come into contact with at some point in our lives.

Those who know me personally will know that I spent 7 years working in mental health care and that I’m also a qualified mental health nurse. Though I no longer work in the field, mental illness is something I’ve taken a lifelong interest in and continue to be interested in, especially raising awareness of it and dispelling the ongoing myths, stigma and presumptions about it that are played upon by the media.

Mental health is also a subject that I frequently touch upon and incorporate into my writing, and I’ve drawn upon my experience in the field several times when writing scenes in my books.

So, in keeping with the theme of this week, I thought I’d share an exerpt from the first draft of my next book, In His Darkened Halls, from a chapter entitled ‘Fragments of the Self’.

(As stated, this is a first draft, so more than likely will be subject to change prior to publication)

 


There is a certain beauty to be found in pain, one that only the broken can describe. Arnulf pressed the knife’s point into the flesh of his forearm. A moment’s discomfort. He bit down and closed his eyes, dragging it slowly across his skin, sighing as he lifted it free. And a night of rest.

Pat, pat, pat.

Blood ran thick and steady from a shallow cut, divinely straight between the scars either side of it. Pale memories of dark nights, fading yet never quite gone, as though he needed another reminder that only suffering brings salvation.

Pat, pat, pat.

Beads of blood struck the polished floor where Arnulf knelt, dripped onto the robes covering his thighs, full of life’s deceiving warmth. The sound of its pattering echoed depressingly through the temple’s deserted hall, droplets shining black against the candlelight. He raised the blade again, lowering the point to his arm with a shaking hand, a hair’s breadth from the first cut. He closed his eyes as steel bit flesh, gritted his teeth. A moment’s discomfort… He scored his arm again.

Pat, pat, pat.

The blood ran quicker, twin cuts streaming. Another sigh, a hiss of breath against the lingering burn of the cutting edge. A night of rest. A worthy trade. Blood for solace, running cold over his skin. Watch the wounds knit themselves back together, let the wretched fragments of the self congeal and push back the prickling of those ruinous eyes, silence the whispering, chattering voices. For now, at least.


May 2019 Writing Updates/Progress

So as Q1 of the year is toast, the UK’s 5 minutes of summer are underway and I’ve again failed to make blogging a more regular thing (a four-monther this time, my apologies). I thought it was about time to drop another writing update on here.

My focus continues to be on completing the first draft of In His Darkened Halls. Since my last update, I’ve written 5 more chapters (all quite lengthy) and have moved into the beginning of the book’s final sequences. Some of these chapters contain some of the very first scenes I imagined for the story about 3 years ago before I first put pen to paper, so it’s pretty exciting to get writing them at last and see how they spill out on the page.

Currently the first draft is about 160,000 words, give or take a few hundred, so just over 70% (ish) done, so it is progressing and again, I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but it is getting written and it will be published when its ready. Right now I’m spending every free moment I have writing, my breaks in work are spent writing on my phone (Google Docs is a lifesaver when you’re away from your computer most of the week) and every spare minute I get to myself I’m adding in another sentence or two. Cover art is also currently in the works,  a handful of my grimdark compatriots were kind enough to share their thoughts on initial concepts a few months back that helped me decide on which direction to take, and I should have further word on this later in summer, as my cover artist is currently extremely busy with prior commitments.

So, as has become customary on these updates, I’ll leave you with my latest choice in writing music, Of Ash and Torment by Skeletonwitch, a great band if you’re into the whole blackened thrash metal niche thing like me.

2019 – What I’m Up To/WIPs/General Info

Well, it’s that time again where I realise I’ve neglected my blog and decide to update anyone curious on my current writing projects. Only 2 months between posts though this time, so I’ll consider that some growth or at least some form of minor victory.

Right now as I did through 2018, I’m  focussing my creative energy into finishing the first draft of my next full-length – In His Darkened Halls, book 2 of the Weaving Shadows Trilogy.

As I’ve stated before, I’m extremely behind schedule with writing this one, some of it being my own fault, a large part of it being circumstantial with what was taking place through 2017-2018 for me in my personal life, so all I can do is apologise to anyone who’s been waiting for it patiently and promise that the book is indeed coming, and I’m determined for it to be my best output so far.

I’ve seen some comments on reviews etc. that I’ve apparantly stopped writing – I can assure you, that that just ain’t true. I am, like most people, unfortunately required to work to make ends meet. I have a career outside of writing I recently gained a promotion in that’s had me take on a hell of a lot more responsibility than before, so my time for things is limited. I’ve also recently been back training Muay Thai, a passion of mine I’ve neglected for the last 3 years due to previous health problems following a trip to Thailand. I’m 31 now, so I’ve decided it’s time to be health-concious again as I’m pretty sure my abs have disintegrated since I stopped fighting.

Anyway, I’ve been quite tight-lipped (with a few exceptions) on what to expect with In His Darkened Halls, so I thought I’d drop a few hinty-hinty bulletpoints here on what people can expect from the book when it’s (eventually) released:

  • It’s currently 121,020 words long, so about 68-70% done, I would say, for what I have planned for the book as a whole.
  • It takes place 15-16 years after the events of the first book – yes, there’s a reason for this.

  • There are a couple of new viewpoint characters the story will follow.
  • There’s more magical elements in the book than the previous.
  • I’ll be commissioning the cover art in the next few months from the extremely talented Jason Nguyen, who did the cover art for Shadow of the High King
  • I will be revealing said cover art when it’s done.
  • I’m going to some very, very dark places with this book. I’ve been drawing on my years working as a mental health nurse for inspiration, and I’m hoping that these themes come through in my characters, both old and new, as the story unfolds.
  • Yes, Graxis will return.

Other WIPs

I also have a couple of other things I’m working on when I hit burn out/find a few free moments from In His Darkened Halls, these are:

  • The Wretched Ones – Book 3 of Tales of the Blackshield Dogs. Another short novella based around the characters from the Blackshield Dogs Fighting Company in the Weaving Shadows, an origin story focussed on Jorric and Torc and how they came to be recruited into the Company’s ranks. This one has regrettably fallen by the wayside a bit as right now I’m focussing on In His Darkened Halls, but as it’s a novella, this will not take long for me to complete (in theory, at least, I’m always overly optimistic about these things from my track record) once my writing time has been freed up.

 

  • Factorum – a standalone grimdark dieselpunk novel currently in the very,  very early stages of formulation that’s gone down well with those who’ve read what I’ve got penned so far. It’s based around a band of revolutionaries, and I’m reading up on late 19th/early 20th century revolutionary history as research for it. Again, this is on a backburner until I’m done with In His Darkened Halls, but it’s one I’m enjoying writing when I find time for it.

 

So, as always, to give you an idea of the kind of tone and atmosphere (I love atmosphere) that In His Darkened Halls will be taking, I’ll sign out with a song that’s accompanied me during the writing process. Bròn, by Saor (pronounced Seer), an incredible band from Scotland that deserves far more recognition – who’d have thought bagpipes and black metal mixed. If you’ve read Shadow of the High King, then you’ll get the celtic influence, and there’s some beautiful footage of the Highlands in the video.

Until next time.

November 2018 Writing Progress Update – In His Darkened Halls

So, once again, I’ve neglected my writing blog. Woops. Personally, I’m seeing a pattern forming – forgive me. Anyhow, as we’re nearing the end of the 2018, I thought I’d give a writing update, seeing as the last one was in the summertime (I guess these are becoming seasonal at this point?).

Anyway, as previously stated, my personal life since mid/late-2017 has been… problematic, to put it lightly. Without going into this, needless to say my writing pace bore the brunt of this disruption, as well as it dealing me a severe case of writer’s block.

Things are on the way up at last though – matters are resolving themselves, and (fingers crossed) will continue to do so, all being well.

Right now, I’m 103,500 words into the first draft of In His Darkened Halls, or about 60-65% of the way through. The story is heating up at this point and I’m hitting some exciting parts now that things are all coming to a head and character’s paths are crossing and diverging. I’m getting into the real meat of the story that comprises The Weaving Shadows trilogy, and hopefully my readers will find it as exciting as I currently am.

I’ll be approaching the cover artist from The Shadow of the High King soon to begin discussion on concepts based on the ideas I have for it, so stay tuned for a cover drop early next year (probably another seasonal post, am I right?).

Again, as I did in the summer, I’ll sign out for now with a piece of grim and dark music that has been helping me along with the writing process this week, one that might give you an idea of the kind of atmosphere In His Darkened Halls will be taking – ‘Obscured‘ by the legendary Celtic Frost.

Writing Progress Updates – In His Darkened Halls – The Weaving Shadows Book 2

So, it’s been a while (yet again) since I’ve posted anything. My apologies. The last 12 months have been chaos for me in regards to my personal life, and writing is unfortunately one of the many things to have been hampered.

I am, however, continuing to chip away at the 1st draft of The Weaving Shadows Book 2 – In His Darkened Halls, and I’m aiming to have this done over the next few months, hopefully before the year’s out, if possible.

As of today, I’ve written 13 chapters and the 1st draft’s currently sitting at 90,450 words, or about 50-60% of the book as a whole, give or take. I’m hitting points in the plot that I first imagined and planned out when I began writing the book’s first chapter in 2016, and, for me at least, it’s getting pretty exciting.

I’ll be sharing some snippets of the 1st draft now and then when I feel it’s appropriate, but for now, I’ll sign off with a piece of music I’ve been listening to during writing sessions that will give you an idea of the tone and atmosphere that In His Darkened Halls will be taking.

 

Guest Post: Jesse Teller – Author of Hemlock

So, while I continue to work on In His Darkened Halls, updates on future releases are thin on the ground for a short while.

However, a compatriot of mine, one Jesse Teller, has just released the second book in his Manhunters series – Hemlock – and was kind enough to provide a guest article for my blog.

So without further ado, and many thanks to Mr Teller, I’ll give this space over to Jesse, to talk about the Timeless Enemy that has stuck with him throughout his writing career.

You can find Hemlock for purchase here.

 

 

The Timeless Enemy

by Jesse Teller

 

When I was a boy, my parents took me to the movies. This was back when we had no money. No money at all. We had to fight to get food on the table and we were always strapped. Well somehow, my parents found the money and the time to take us to the movies, and I saw Sleeping Beauty.

I don’t remember much at all. Colors, I think, is all I could take away from it. I was about six and I had no recollection of the story or the images really, but I do remember very distinctly the dragon. I remember the colors, the breath, and the black. I remember this tiny man striving to fight it, and the way it seemed impossible. I remember thinking no force in the world could rival a dragon, and that is all I took from it.

Years later, I was watching TV in the morning on a Saturday, and I saw Bilbo Baggins take the first steps of his journey. The artistry of it consumed me, the way those particular animation artists moved the characters across the screen. They were the same animators that did The Last Unicorn and I will never forget the way they drew the line. The movie The Hobbit was fun until Bilbo and I found ourselves at the feet of Smaug.

So huge that dragon was, nothing Bilbo could do could ever stack up. There was no weapon to grasp to bring death to that monster. No hope, however slight, could be held when the idea of fighting that beast was at hand.

I do not accept the death Tolkien gave to his god of dragons. It is too convenient, too simple. No one arrow ever made could take down the beast I saw in that cavern, no matter how well shot, no matter the target.

I remember thinking if ever a power could exist that could rival a being that great, it would have to be me who found it. No other creator could reach within and pluck out the shred of hope that stood up to a creature so mighty.

Well, of course, I was wrong. Writers and artists have been killing dragons as long as dragons have been around. St. George cast one down centuries before I was born, and people have been doing it ever since. But Smaug stayed supreme in my mind, a creature of such immense power that no one dare stand before him had they not a ring of power.

So then I set to work. I began, time after time, crafting a hero or heroine strong enough to crush the monumental monsters of my mind. Soon wizards. Then warriors. Then one after the next, I began to put together an army of people and beings so invincible that they could stand up to Smaug. They could face the Nefarious, the Tempest and the Wrath of the greatest forces of darkness that any mind could find. Any mind anywhere. With this devotion to craft and heart of a creator, I plumbed the darkness within my mind to find magic.

When I hit teenage years, I wanted warriors. Arislan, Aragorn. Caramon Majere. I found Mycenae Kark and Sai Sibbius Summerstone. One after the next, I sought and found one swords smith, then another, to battle the monoliths of my mind. Twenties found assassins. Thirties, barbarians. One great hero after the next filled my mind, always with one goal in sight.

Crush Smaug.

Pulverize the immense. Bring down the invincible. I write high fantasy. If that means I am not grimdark, then so be it.

There is a boy in here, deep where no one can find him. He is fighting a monster, a monster deeply rooted in the fiber of his mind. That little boy will not let me go small. He has a nemesis. He has a nightmare, and one after the other, he will pump out the mighty and the brave to bring it down. I have never killed Smaug. He is, as far as, I know unkillable.

But Rayph Ivoryfist would get close. Smear Kond could sneak up on him. Dreark would make Smaug tremble. I fear that somehow the mighty, world-moving powers within my books will make me less grim, that I might lose some street cred. I might have readers who shrug and drop me, thinking they want lower fantasy than I am prepared to give them.

To them I say, please forgive. There is a monster in here. He scares me. I must fight him the best I can. Smaug is watching. Smaug is waiting.