Location of the most recent breach into Malifaux, Latest area to be occupied by the forces of Cryx, Stronghold of the Dark Legion, Homeworld of the 'Night Reapers' Space Marine Chapter, Council of Seven allocated Deadzone and the lair of some opinionated git called GMort who they let hang out with them...when he's not distracted by Steampunk, Gothic culture or Cosplay...
Hard Drive Hot List (or, What I'm Currently Writing)
Bi-Monthly Competition Winner
This month has mostly been spent on editing and preparation, rather than actual writing. I’ve made a start on my next novel – a 40K book – but I’m just getting into it (by the time you have read this I’ll have finished the first full week).
It takes a little while to build up momentum on any project, and a novel in particular. You may have recently heard the term ‘flow state’ used by creatives, sports people and the like. This is a bit more of a scientific term for being ‘in the zone’ and describes the brain-state we enter when we are fully engaged with a single task or thought process. Everything else drops away, even making us only subconsciously aware of our surroundings.
A few years ago I visited a hypnotherapist to help me give up smoking. She asked if I had even been hypnotised before and I said no; when she asked me what I did for a living she told me that I probably had in fact been self-hypnotised many times – pretty much every time I got into the ‘zone’ when writing.
Though this is based only on my personal experience of obfuscation and procrastination habits, I think there is also a kind of ‘strategic flow state’ that works over a longer term. At the start of a project I don’t quite have an angle on the characters or perhaps any particular dialogue tweaks or mannerism. I need to work on the characterisation, the environments, even the narrative voice for that writing.
All of which means it takes a little bit longer to get into the regular flow state on any given day because I’m having to make far more conscious decisions at the outset.
And that’s where I am at the moment, working hard to get the foundations laid. I have the story, the themes are developing, but everything isn’t coming together just yet and so the actual act of typing out words is more laborious and consequently less productive.
Another way of looking at it – when one gets to a certain age some things are a little more effort, a little stiffer. Getting back into writing is a vague struggle, like waking up after not quite enough sleep. Everything is technically working, but its definitely not the purring engine you need it to be...
On another level I’m also working out where I can have the most fun – scenes that push the characters or the reader (preferably both) and also stretching my imagination in terms of the setting. Having written a lot of Warhammer and 40K over the years (over 3 million words for BL alone!) I think it’s important that while common imagery and themes develop, I try to push myself into new places too. To be creative with characters, places and story, not just plot.
In my non-work time I have been making some headway on the Big Stompy Robot game (more details below). It’s in a similar place, in some ways – the basic blocks are in place, now it all needs to be fleshed out. I’m forcing myself to think of it just as a fun hobby project, no commercial considerations yet… But twenty-three years of games dev experience moulds the thinking somewhat and sometimes I can’t help myself.
Time to paint some more mechs, and make pew-pew noises, I think.
Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan
Next month sees the release of Asurmen: The Darker Road, a companion audio drama that I wrote for Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan.
To get you in the mood here's a look back at some of the extra-curricular reading available for Asurmen: Hand of Asuryan:
My Author's Notes tell the story of how the Phoenix Lords series came about, and the difficulties I had in writing the first installment!
"The second draft came back with another raft-load of comments, and so did the third… It took five drafts in the end, that’s about two more than I would expect, before we finally got the story into a shape that both I and the editors were happy with. The project dragged on, pressure was mounting, the mortgage still needed paying and so it was more with relief than anything else that I received the final sign off."
There are now a couple of blogs on my website you might want to look at. The first is an introduction to the game, and update on the three stands of development (the rules, miniatures, and terrain). The second blog looks at the first playtest, and what the first proper run-through is actually for.
I've also added a Big Stompy Robot Page to my website, where I'll try and collect together information about the game. I won't go into too much detail here, as I'm planning on sending out the first game-specific newsletter this weekend.
"For the moment my only goal is to run a fun game at ROBIN, to maintain my sanity. However, should it go well I’ll continue developing the game, maybe taking it to some more events including Daffcon, and we’ll see where we go from there…"
If you would like to receive e-mail updates on progress of my new game, you can sign up below.
As I mentioned back in November, my short story Peregrinus Cibus Cedimus has been accepted into the Sharkpunk 2 anthology, alongside stories from fellow Black Library writers Guy Haley, David Guymer and Josh Reynolds, amongst others.
The Kickstarter campaign goes live at 12noon tomorrow, so please take a look and whether you decide to support the project or not, I would really appreciate it if you could share any of my social media posts about it with your friends - getting the word out is key to Kickstarter success.
Andrew asked: I smiled when I first saw the novel Corax. A book about the Raven Guard with the word "Nevermore" on the front cover. I'm curious, is that a nod to Edgar Allan Poe? Or am I making a connection that isn't there?
It's a definite reference, which dates back to the Raven Guard Index Astartes article in White Dwarf magazine about fifteen years ago, when the 'Nevermore' line was introduced. That actual incident doesn't occur until about a year after the event portrayed in the Corax epilogue.
If you want to ask a question, just reply to the newsletter and I'll get back to you as soon as my schedule allows. I'll pick a question to go in the next newsletter, and combine them all into a blog post for the website. Click the button below for the full Q&A round-up for January.
One of the ways that you can get your writing noticed above others, is if you have been previously published. Black Library particularly are usually willing to look at submissions from previously published authors, outside of their advertised submission windows.
If you want to 'start small' and build your confidence as a writer before you pen your magnum-opus, this would be a great place to start.
Flash Fiction Online is a monthly ezine that publishes "short stories for the modern reader" accepting stories between 500-1,000 words. They pay a very reasonable $60 per story, and have a refreshing approach to content:
"We’re not that concerned about genre. Many of us have a fondness for science fiction and fantasy, but we also like literary fiction; and in any case, great flash stories aren’t always easily classified. If you wrote it, and you love it, then submit it."
If you need help with your submission, there's a specific tag for writing short fiction on the writing advice section on my website. I've also added "How to write Flash Fiction" to my growing list of blog posts to write.
All subscribers to my mailing list are entered into the bi-monthly draw to win a personalised, signed copy of one of my books. This month's winner is Sean Aitken from Australia, who will receive a signed copy of my audio drama Asurmen: The Darker Road. The next winner will be picked in March, and will receive their choice from my back-catalogue box - if I've got it, you can have it (includes some limited editions, and older titles that are no longer in print).