Downtime

. . . and about time, too. The last few weeks have been far too busy, and to be honest I can use a break. We lost another developer last week—one who’d taken on one of the projects I’d worked on for a while—which means I got that project back on my plate. Lucky for me, it only has about four problems that need fixing, and three of those should be pretty easy to deal with. The bigger, more messy project (the one I mentioned in the previous post) seems to be coming together at last, in that it looks like the worst of the mess is cleaned up, and the thing seems to be working a lot more reliably.

Which means I’ve had a bit more time to work on writing projects, and I haven’t been quite so whacked by the time I get home that I haven’t had the energy to do something useful. And that’s meant that, at last, I was able to finish a major editing pass on The Voyage of Valerie McGrath this week (even though it took far longer than it should have). No bad thing, considering the deadline for content editing is less than a week away. (Stop press: email from editor telling me it’s gone off to line editing. Phew!)

The plan for this coming week, then: top priority, deal with any more editing on McGrath that comes back from my line editor as and when. Next priority, back to working on the sequel to Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia. My editor on that one came back with a herd of comments on the timeline, so I’ll be addressing those first, and I expect that to take all of this week at the very least.

And from experience, I’ll refrain from making any plans beyond that. Plans have a habit of getting changed or thrown out completely, in many cases before they’ve even been set in motion properly. Sometimes it’s better to just take it one day at a time.

It Is What It Is

My regular readers (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Brentford) will know that last week at work, I was finishing up some major bug fixing. Well, things didn’t go quite as easily as I’d hoped. As things worked out, more problems were found, and it all ended up with me working through Friday (which was supposed to be a day off). I’d like to be able to say that everything works now—but that would probably be the kiss of death. I’m not making any such assumptions. Tomorrow is Presidents’ Day (aka George Washington’s birthday) which is a government holiday, so I do at least get one well-earned extra day before I have to get back to it. Tuesday, then, I’ll have a better idea of where things stand.

What of things on the writing front?

GB2

As I mentioned a while back, work on the sequel to Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia has been put to one side for a little while. I made some notes about a couple of ideas for how to wrap things up at the end, and that’s about it. I’ll be getting back to that after doing what needs to be done on . . .

The Voyage of Valerie McGrath

This is the short story for Xchyler Publishing’s Around The World In 80 Days anthology, which will be out in the spring. (By the way, that was just the name and theme of the anthology contest itself; the real title hasn’t been decided yet.) I got notes back from my editor on a few points needing some work, and I’ll be getting into that shortly (when I’ve finished this post and got some coffee in front of me).

Last but not least . . .

The Top Secret Writing Project

Or rather, it was a secret, but no longer. In 2012 I finished the first draft of a novel, and it’s been sitting in the shadows since then. A couple of weeks ago I decided I’d really like to knock it into publishable shape and get it submitted, so I dusted it off ready to get started into it. This is going to be very much a background task—the first priority right now is Valerie McGrath, then GB2 will be the focus. Reading it back through, though, there’s some pretty good stuff in there. The ending is flat and needs work, and there are quite a few scenes in there that will need to be rewritten, but on the whole it’s a good start. I’ll be working on this when I have spare minutes and there’s nothing pressing on the higher-priority jobs.

And so . . . time for that coffee I mentioned, and then I’ll be editing Valerie McGrath. Until next time . . .

Bad, Bad Week

I just got through one of the heaviest work weeks I can remember in quite some time. One of our developers is leaving, so his projects are being transitioned over to other people, and I’m one of the lucky ones. But as it turned out, this guy’s work is, to put it mildly, appallingly bad. Having worked on this project for more than six months, the thing still wasn’t working—and it was supposed to have been rolled out to production the week before last.

So I was drafted in to try to get it into shape. And after four very tough days, including late night finishes, we’re almost there. One last bug to be nailed (which will probably be dealt with Monday morning) and it can go for final testing.

All of which has meant that there’s been no time for anything else. Work on GB2 has got no further than it was this time last week. The Voyage of Valerie McGrath (the short story that’s going into Xchyler Publishing’s Around The World In 80 Days anthology) is still to be edited (but I’ve had no word from my editor on that, so there’s little I could have done anyway). I’ve had no time even to relax with a bit of gaming.

Today, then, is going to be all about relaxation. I want to spend an hour working on the GB2 timeline (I have some ideas to get that ending sorted out), and I think I could do worse than have a read through McGrath to spot any mistakes I missed earlier. And I do want to have a little game time. (World of Warcraft? Diablo III? Not sure yet.)

And so, it’s time to get moving on that. Tea, then get on with it. Until next time, gentle reader . . .

Eleven Hour Shift

Yesterday was horrible. Not the working-at-home-because-of-snow part—I have no problems staying focussed on the day job, it’s quieter than working at the office, and coffee and snacks are close to hand. In fact, it was all just fine until knocking-off time. I had an errand to run as soon as the work day was over, and I was clearing half a foot of snow off the car when my phone rang. It turned out that a new release of a web application, that had been installed at 3pm, was having problems. It turned out to be some weirdness in the database server, and somewhere along the line it cleared itself and everything started working. But by that time I’d been working for eleven hours pretty much straight. I missed a Facebook release party (too busy arranging some dinner) and then slept heavy for something like ten hours. It’s mid-day and I still feel like I’m barely awake.

Anyway, on to the important stuff. The sequel to Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia (which in future I’ll refer to here as GB2) is coming along quite nicely. The first draft of the timeline was sent to my editor last week. The ending still isn’t set in stone—there’s a section that describes where all the characters are and what needs to be resolved, and I have a couple of ideas on how to wrap things up. And my editor will no doubt spot many scenes that need work.

But that’s on hold for a little while. I think I mentioned, a few posts back, that a steampunk short story I wrote for Xchyler Publishing‘s Around The World In 80 Days anthology contest made the cut; it’s scheduled for release at the end of May, I think, but the deadline for copy editing is just a few short weeks away. I should be getting something from my editor in a couple of days, and as soon as that happens I’ll be getting busy with getting that story into shape.

For now, I’ve decided to take a weekend off writing. I finally broke down and went back to playing World of Warcraft, after an absence of, I think, well over a year. At that time I gave up on it for a number of reasons: that I don’t like doing dungeons with people I don’t know (because, to be honest, even with a group as small as five players, you can guarantee at least one will be some twit who forgets that it’s a game and takes it way too seriously—it’s supposed to be fun, guys, not a chore); that even creating new characters, exploring the same areas and going through the same quests was getting somewhat old; that they seemed to be dumbing the game down; and that the Mists Of Pandaria expansion appeared to pander (har!) to kids, paving the way for a Hello Kitty Island Adventure expansion. But the thing is, it’s still by far the best MMORPG I’m aware of, and after such a long time away from it I’m seeing some things afresh. It’s still loads of fun.

So, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee and go play for a little while, then maybe park myself with a book for a bit. If you’re a WoW player and you happen to be on the Shu’halo realm, and you see a level 19 Alliance Pandaran hunter running around Redridge Mountains or Duskwood with a pet fox, just /yell the magic word “Gunn”. If I yell back “Bohemia”, you found me <grin>.

Until next time, gentle reader . . .

I have ten minutes . . .

. . . while I wait for dinner at the fast food joint. I’m posting from my phone, so this will be short.

The time line for the Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia sequel is coming along. I expect to have the first pass done tomorrow.

Now, I know I said I’d quit playing World of Warcraft a long time back. Well, I couldn’t resist—I bought the latest expansion pack the other day, and started playing last night. Not playing when I should be writing takes self-discipline but so far hasn’t been an issue.

Right, food should be ready in a minute or two. Posting.

[Update: that entry was something of an experiment, to test publishing a post from my phone. Not too successful; the formatting was off and even the title got screwed up somehow. I probably won’t do that again.]

Storytime

It’s been a while since I posted, and since that last one—despite what I said about getting properly back to work on the Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia sequel—I haven’t been able to find as much time as I’d hoped. Until today, that is. Today I was able to spend several hours tweaking the timeline and putting in some changes that I’d made notes about. I’m very pleased that I’ve been able to make some real progress at last.

(Now, a small confession: I’ve been watching Breaking Bad some of the time when I could, and should, have been working on the story. I can’t help it that the show is addictive. But we watched the last episode of the final season yesterday, so that won’t be happening again.)

There’s good news, though. The timeline is in fact mostly complete, in that all of the major story elements are in place. (And for some of this I give thanks to my editor, who scanned an early snapshot of the timeline when I got stalled, and asked some questions that highlighted places that needed work, and so helped me get moving again.)

Most of what I was doing today involved working out when each scene takes place and making sure that things fit, and making corrections when they didn’t (for example, I found one scene with two secondary characters going to the theatre when everyone else would have been eating breakfast). I’m a little bit short of halfway through that process, and I expect to get finished tomorrow. After that comes another pass of the story to make sure everything makes sense and that questions raised in early scenes get answered by the end. And I know that the ending scenes need some work—what’s there now seems rushed, with too much happening in just a couple of scenes. Those need to be broken up and spread out a little so that it doesn’t all come across as too abrupt.

So although progress is slow, the pace is picking up and I really think I’ll have a good draft of the timeline fairly soon. At that point I’ll share it with my editor, and then I can polish it until we agree it’s time to begin the actual writing.

Meanwhile, some small news about Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia. I already mentioned that Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, CO was stocking print copies of the book on their shelves. To that I can now add that Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver has copies at all three of their locations. I’m planning on running by Old Firehouse, and Tattered Cover’s Colfax Avenue store, some time next week. With a camera. Pictures of the book on the shelf will be posted online. There will be rejoicing.

And talking of pictures, I’m giving serious thought to adding a Readers’ Gallery to this blog, rather like the one Craig Hallam set up on his blog. Have you read Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia? If so, and you’re up for sending me a selfie, use the Contact form (the link’s at the top of this page) to let me know. If there’s enough interest, I’ll set that up and get back to you.

Now, a parting note on the subject of the title of this post. Storytime is an apt title for an author’s blog post—but in this case it also has a special meaning, in that it’s the name of a song by Finnish symphonic rock band Nightwish. The song is on YouTube, and it’s really rock-yer-socks-off stuff. I’ve been listening to more of their songs while working, and I’m most impressed.

And on that musical note, I’m off to do a little more work on the timeline. Until next time, gentle reader . . .

Happy New Year!

Hello all! And a Happy New Year to all my followers.

Yes, I know I’m a few days late with that. The holiday ended up being a break from pretty much everything that didn’t have a direct connection to Christmas-related family things, right through from the day I wrote the previous post here, until New Year’s Day. So I was cooking, and helping with tidying and cleaning the house, on the days leading up to Christmas Day itself, then doing other things such as entertaining visiting family for the following week. That included driving number-one-son down to Denver to buy computer parts, and taking a long walk along the Devil’s Backbone (if you follow me on Twitter you might have seen the pictures I posted).

When the holiday was officially over, Thursday, I was back in the office and of course that meant I was immediately swamped with the backlog of work that had built up while I was out. And on top of that, I’ve been helping a new guy get started, since he’ll be taking over from me on one of the projects I’ve been involved with for the last few months. Thursday and Friday ended up being pretty hectic because of all that. Then yesterday it was time to take down the tree and do some other cleaning up that took my wife and I until around 1am—so we don’t have to worry about any of that today, but it did mean that my plan to get some book work done went out the window.

So I’ve had little time for Twitter, Facebook or Google+, and no time for blogging, and I’ve made no progress at all—not so much as a scratch—on the Gunn & Bohemia sequel, beyond a few scribbled notes about a few changes I want to make to the timeline, for the last two weeks.

Today I begin getting wound back into all that. I have those notes about the timeline changes, and I’ll be getting busy with that shortly. Also, beginning this week, I’ll be doing more to promote Mr. Gunn & Dr. Bohemia—although I’m not quite sure yet how I might do that. One thing that’s for sure is to try to get readers to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and so on.

Before I sign off to get started on the timeline, though, I do have one piece of excellent news to report: The short story I wrote for Xchyler Publishing’s Around the World in 80 Days anthology competition was accepted! Yay! I received the contract papers just the other day. I expect to be able to begin editing work on that shortly, and it should see the light of day in early Spring, I think.

On that note, then, it’s time to refresh my tea mug and get busy. Until next time, gentle reader . . .