This page is a special reward, normally only available to Patrons of the Heavenfield.
Become a Patron to get access to posts like this, plus early audiobook and ebook release, exclusive images and much more:
Well, a Happy New Year to you all!
It’s time to take a look back over what I was up to last year, and to see what the coming year has in store.
I’ve just been having a quick look at last year’s review, and though it’s nice to see what I’ve been up to, it’s also a little frustrating to feel that I haven’t got nearly as much done as I’d hoped for. But that’s writing I guess — it always progresses slower than I want!
The three main series that I was putting into place last year have come into focus a lot more, and I think that the work I started in 2019 will come to fruition and feel like a major step forward in 2020.
The main reason I say this of course, is because of the biggest news of 2019 for me — that in August I finally started writing full-time. It didn’t come about entirely by design, as it was precipitated by my good friend Chris (whose company I freelanced for) deciding it was time to wind down the business as part of his retirement plan.
My wife Gem had qualified as a Midwife the year before last, and this meant that we could just about scrape by with my lack of income. It’s been a real struggle so far, but with the support of my Patrons and a trickle of book sales we’ve managed to keep our heads above water.
Having so much more time to give to my writing has been an incredible privilege. I’m still working within school hours, as I look after our little daughter Annabel, but just the headspace gained by having a whole set of work distractions removed has given me so much more continuity to my writing.
The thing that has struck me as I’ve had time to take stock is that I’ve managed to get a lot of stories pretty much written, but never had the time to take the final step and actually release them! So, now that I have more time I’ve been looking forward to concentrating on bringing all my stories to completion.
Just as I began at the start of 2019, the work ahead in 2020 will be focussed upon establishing the three main series: THE HEAVENFIELD, the LUMINA series, and THE CIRCLE OF SOULS.
Throughout 2019 my goal was to get the three books of the Heavenfield series up to date in its different formats: Audiobook, eBook, and Print.
The Heavenfield series.
In a typical mixed-up fashion, I had released the first and third parts of the audiobook and not the second! So, in a few weeks I will finally have THE DEAD MAN’S FEAST complete, and all three books will then be available in all formats - hooray!
The fourth book in the series has been quite stop-start over the last few years, as I have struggled to get a handle on it. I think I just didn’t quite have a way into the story that gripped me, and though I’d written a fair bit it just felt as though it was missing a main thread.
The fourth book in the Heavenfield series.
Towards the end of the summer I pushed myself to copy up my notebooks, hoping that once I could see what was written down some more ideas would flow.
To a certain extent it worked well, and for some bits of the story where I had found the plotlines unbelievable and out of character, I stumbled upon an interesting twist that explained it all very nicely. That’s often the way with writing: your characters put themselves into impossible situations, or they do something ‘out of character’ that you can’t explain, and then in searching for solutions to the problems your characters have created, the story becomes richer and more deeply layered.
I have yet to have the opportunity to flesh out the initial ideas for this story as I got sidetracked with completing INTO THE FIRE, but I’m hoping to return to it soon.
Into the Fire - the first book in the Lumina series.
Speaking of INTO THE FIRE, this was one of my big goals for 2019, and I just managed to squeeze in its completion before the end of the year!
I underestimated the amount of editing it required in the end, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
When I first completed it I thought that I had written myself into a corner, as I couldn’t see any interesting way that another book could follow on. But, as I worked on the edits, I realised that the apparent confines I had put in place with the ending (I won’t give out any spoilers) actually set the characters upon an interesting journey that could be much more focussed than if I had given them free reign to just go anywhere.
Upon realising this, I had an absolutely crazy session over four or five days in early November when I just wrote and wrote for pretty much every waking hour. By the end of it I had a first draft for the second story in the LUMINA series. I’ve made a start at copying it up, and hope to have it released by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
Meanwhile, I will be releasing the paperback version of INTO THE FIRE, and plan to make a start on the audiobook asap. The pre-release version of this will be available to Patrons.
Into the Fire book cover.
THE CIRCLE OF SOULS
The Circle of Souls series.
The first few months of 2019 were dominated by this new series, written for my little daughter Annabel. It was built around three short stories that I had completed over the years, and the story has quickly spiralled in my mind into an epic series!
The first book, THE RUBY HOUSE, was completed around mid-April, and in that time I had also mapped out the series arc, built a website, and created loads of illustrations and maps.
Working on the Circle of Souls series.
At this time I was still working a lot of freelance hours, and I had decided that I would try and find a publishing agent for this series of books in an attempt to make more of a living from my writing.
It took a huge amount of effort to get everything prepared, and it was for this reason that I kept rather quiet about the completion of the first book. In the end it took from the end of April all the way until mid-October for the agents to decide that they weren’t interested in the story, and by that time it was becoming clear to me that my freelance work was coming to an end.
In one respect, failing to get a publisher at the time my income was disappearing was a blow, but in another way I felt completely liberated. Now seemed finally the time to give everything to my writing and find a way to grow an income on my own terms. I’m still at the very foot of that particular mountain, but I have never felt more determined to succeed!
So, THE RUBY HOUSE, the first book in THE CIRCLE OF SOULS series is complete, and 2020 will see its release in ebook, print, and (hopefully) audiobook.
The Ruby House - The first book in the Circle of Souls series.
In a funny old way, this story is one that I am most proud of. I think that, as a piece of writing, THE DIARY OF OTTO KANDINSKY is one of my best, most precious works. As a story written from the heart, I’m not sure that I will ever do a better job — and from what it took out of me, I don’t know if I have the strength to write another book like that.
But, as a story that I gain the most joy from, I think that THE RUBY HOUSE is top of my list. It has given me such pleasure to write it for my little daughter, and that she should get so involved in its creation was a priceless time.
As I have mentioned before, as I wrote the chapters I would print them off and read them to Annabel at bedtime, and she would help me proof-read them. She became invaluable at spotting errors, and really pressed me to rewrite certain areas that I perhaps would have otherwise let slide.
She also got totally involved in designing some of the symbols that represent the great houses of the kingdom. I used her ideas, re-creating them in Illustrator and Photoshop.
I’m excited to make a start on the second book, and am aiming for its completion around the second half of 2020.
So, these are the three series that I am focussing upon for 2020. My goal is to write write write, and bring you at least three new stories this year — let’s see how that goes! 😉
Thank you again for all your ongoing support. All of this would simply not be possible without you.
All the best for 2020.