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The Heavy Sadness

I have this sadness. I’m not going to call it depression because I feel that would belittle the experience of those who are diagnosed with depression and suffer under its weight every day. But this sadness of mine is heavy and when it comes it presses me down into the ground like the worm I realise I am. I question everything I have said. Everything I have done. Every moment when I considered, for just a heartbeat, that I was worth paying attention to. Under the weight of the sadness I am invisible, and in seeking reassurance this is not so I look in all the wrong places. I refresh Facebook hoping for some perfectly timed assurance of my existence and my worth. I refresh Goodreads or my email or trawl through twitter, and in the vast sea of humanity I confirm my own invisibility and complete lack of importance.

Perhaps the problem is social media, but social media is part of my job and it is also how I connect with some of the most important people in my life. It allows me to broaden my horizons and meet new people, but it also crushes my self-esteem – not because anyone ever criticises me or is unpleasant, but because I second guess everything I do and say, and I know, with iron-clad assurance, that it is a drag having me around, that I’m an embarrassment, that I am saying the wrong thing and that in this space that ought to be safe for my introvert self, I am a failure who ought to give up.

There is no uplifting message here, just a moment of honesty, of vulnerability, that the author in me needed to set to words. And perhaps there is someone else out there who feels as I do and might find in my honesty, a lessening of their own heavy sadness.

 

But wait, there’s more!

No, not a complete set of steak knives. Although daggers and other blades to feature in abundance they aren’t cutting steak. Not unless steak is a euphemism for a living person who is about to be a dead person. Or a dead metaphor. Moving on! It’s been a little while since I updated with a bit more detail on what I’ve been working on since The Vengeance Trilogy, so here it is. (And for those interested in keeping up with it more regularly, I do update the info on my homepage at least once a week).

1

My new series of chunky, multiple-POV novels is well underway with the first instalment currently off hitting beta readers in the feels. These are set a few centuries after the events of The Vengeance Trilogy, but in the same world with plenty of wonderful little hark backs for long time fans. I will continue working on this and start the second book next year, but unfortunately you’re not likely to see this one until 2019. I want to get deeper into the story before putting any of it out as it’s a big ‘un.

2

Prequel novella to The Vengeance Trilogy – In Shadows We Fall (so called unless I change my mind in the next few weeks). This is a few days from heading to the editor and July should see some lovely art showing up from my wonderful new cover artist. I’m pretty excited about this. The story follows Empress Li in the few days leading up to the outbreak of the civil war that predates the beginning of the Vengeance Trilogy by sixteen years. A place either to begin your journey in my world, or to go back and new characters and old friends.

3

I have finished the planning stages and about to embark on the first draft of a new trilogy that comes about seventeen years after the end of The Vengeance Trilogy, following three new POV characters into an expanded world. You won’t need to have read the previous trilogy, but it’s always good to have the full story and all the nuances. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into this as it is going to be one hell of a ride.

 

At the rate my brain is throwing out story ideas the completed set of books in this world is going to end up looking like this…

In terms of release dates, nothing solid yet, but the novella is looking to be late August/early September. And the first of the new trilogy maybe March-ish next year with its second instalment coming near the end of 2018.

YAY FOR BOOKS!

When impatience gets ugly

Is it all right to be angry that the release date for the new Song of Ice and Fire book has been pushed back? Again.

I get it, I do. People have been reading and following and adoring this series for longer than some young adults have even been ALIVE. Then the TV series came along and it got even more popular and the knowledge that the TV show will end before the book series is like a slap in the face to some long time fans. But does that make it ok to rant and storm about the man being lazy or wasting too much time blogging?

Blogging? Seriously? Even a non-reader can surely appreciate that blogging and writing deep, complex fiction from multiple points of view are two very different things. A lot of authors use their blog like angsty teenagers use their diaries, it’s a relatively safe space in which they can talk about what interests them and just generally let off steam like a REAL PERSON. If you’re not an author you might not appreciate that we spend an awful lot of time ALONE, struggling with the angst of self-doubt (doesn’t matter how popular you are, it doesn’t go away) ALONE, grinding away at our stories like they are sculptures in marble. ALONE. Did I mention we do it alone? Anyone who has met me will attest that I talk A LOT once you get me going and that’s because I don’t get to do it very much. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, chat apps – these are our social outlet. You may as well complain about the words he wastes on his damn shopping list. I bet he writes plenty of emails, perhaps even personal letters, birthday cards, he probably fills in forms too because life isn’t getting lighter on red tape.

Another thing is that you need to stop thinking about writing as a jigsaw puzzle. A series, especially one this long, doesn’t get easier to write as things move toward the eventual climax. It gets harder. MUCH harder. When you’re writing a first book everything is possible, no characters or events are locked into place yet, you don’t even have to have a complete idea of where the story is going or what each of the character’s fate will be. Then the second book is a bit harder because now some things are locked into place, you’ve introduced characters and now have to ensure they remain interesting and make steps toward achieving, or not achieving, their goals, and you have to consider the ramifications of any new direction on the books coming later. In a lot of ways the second last book is the hardest of all because you have to build to a point just below the full climax, holding it all together and be sure, VERY SURE, that everything is laid and in place for the ending to come after else we’re shifting into pulling-it-out-of-your-arse territory.

And as Neil Gaiman said very eloquently over here many years ago, (and John Anealio put brilliantly to music), George RR Martin is not your bitch. Buying the first book of a series is NOT a contract. In paying your money (or paying nothing and borrowing it from the library) you are getting nothing more and nothing less than the joy of reading THAT BOOK. It is natural to expect there will be more books in a series, that it will one day be complete and you will get your closure, but that first book is no guarantee, no contract, just a book.

No matter how much you want to see A Song of Ice and Fire finished, you do not want it finished more than George RR Martin wants it finished. He is not wasting time. He is not being lazy. He is diligently working away at what is surely an excruciatingly difficult project.

 

 

2017 and Beyond!

There was a time I could not see beyond the end of The Grave at Storm’s End, the book that haunted me through the shittiest portion of my life to date (no, 2017, do not take that as a challenge, you have enough crap going on already. Focus.) But that time is no longer now and it is with much SQUEE that I have planned novels for the year ahead.

Two novels will be going through construction in the Madson cave this year.

  1. Soul War #1 (Working Title) – This is the first novel in what could very easily turn out to be quite the epic series. Work on this started about twelve years ago, and while I’ve completely reworked it there are a number of characters and moments that have been with me for a long time. Call it a magnum opus of sorts. The first book is set about 300 years after the end of The Vengeance Trilogy and encompasses not only Kisia but much of the world around it.
  2. The Fate of Kisia #1 (Working Title) – First novel in what I expect to be a trilogy in the same vein as The Vengeance Trilogy, picking up about 15 years later. This is still in the planning stage at this point, but the intention is to return to the 3x first person perspectives that worked so well in the first trilogy, but I’ll wait and see how it writes before committing to that.

 

 

There are also going to be four short stories in production this year, although only one is currently in the planning stage at this point, which is the origin story of Hope, from Vengeance Trilogy. I’m interested in looking at Shin’s backstory sometime too, but I’m not sure if that will be this year yet, or in what format.

Another short story, The Girl Who Carried Silence, which follows on from The Vengeance Trilogy, is all done and dusted and waiting for a decision on what to do with it! So look out for that one when it comes.

To keep up with all this I’ve added a Progress Report bar to the homepage where you can check out how things are coming along and prod me to make sure I’m working so you guys get more awesome stories.

And if you’d like special sneak peaks and updates sent to your inbox monthly, go ahead and subscribe to my newsletter. It’s going to be an awesome year! 😀 

2016 In Review

So 2016 eh? Not exactly the year many people are going to remember fondly. On the world stage there were a lot of shit moments, a lot of anger and hate and fear that led to war and violent attacks and devastation. But sometimes it is easy to let that overwhelm us, to lead us to despair and forget all the times we proved how wonderful humanity can be, how intelligent, adaptable and resourceful. How kind. It is exactly the same in life, I find. It is so easy to dwell upon the negative and forget good happened.

In 2016 I brought out a book. The Grave at Storm’s End, the end of the Vengeance Trilogy I have been working on all these years finally completed. After three years spent struggling with life’s challenges and with bouts of depression that made sitting down at the keyboard the hardest thing I had ever done, and three years waiting for cover art I thought would never come, it was finally there in my hand. Wow. Done. Finished. Over. The last anchor to an old self, an old pain, set adrift.

Phew!

In 2016 I also watched my beautiful baby boy grow into a toddler with all sorts of personality. He said Mama for the first time and just recently has taken his first steps.

I shared The Force Awakens and Back to the Future with my girls and spent many long hours playing Lego Indiana Jones with them which they find absolutely hilarious.

I wrote my first short story.

I broke out of my comfort zone to make the Storywork videos on youtube.

I sat on my first panels at a con and sold books to strangers.

I got to hear my characters come to life as the audiobook production started for Blood of Whisperers.

I even learned how to build a fire (no, I really didn’t know how before. I grew up with ducted heating. Getting warm meant pushing a button.)

These things are all amazing. But once again I have reached the end of a year and feel as though I have failed. I have not achieved what I wished to achieve, nor done what I wished to do. I have not blogged as much as I wished and have completely fallen off much of social media. I have not put myself forward, not trusted myself or my skills, because I am afraid that I have no worth as a writer. That until I am someone I am no one. That I am not even worthy of a voice.

But today while the memorial posts to Carrie Fisher were swirling around (I cried, I really did, she was an amazing woman) I came across one of her quotes that I hadn’t seen before.

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

My mantra for next year.

 

Bye bye 2016.