I’m now on holiday for two weeks! Yay! I can’t tell you what an insane 18 months it has been, but the first six and a half months of this year to date have been even busier than the whole of last year and that was bonkers busy.
My business is celebrating a major anniversary this year, so that has entailed lots of promotional events and writing of award entries. In addition, the industry I work in is undergoing some major changes, and last month I had to interview a government minister about them (AGH!). I’ve been thrown a number of work related challenges, and it’s kept me very busy. I’m sort of proud of how I’ve kept rising to them, but frankly, I’m also bloody exhausted! I’m quite conscientious and want to do a good job, so I’ve had a little knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach for most of the past few months.
There has been a lot of pressure (mostly self-inflicted!), and I feel like I’ve either been running around like a crazy thing all year – or sitting on my sofa being ill. I know I’m stressed and run down, so I’ve booked these two weeks off and purposely arranged very little in them – partly so I can relax and spend time with the cats, and partly so I can write. I do have a few little events planned, but I’ve kept several days free for writing.
Somehow, despite having very little time during the past 18 months, I’ve managed to write 160,000 words of my new story, and now I feel it’s time to do a special writing blog about it.
At first, I was worried by how long the story was turning out to be – you know me, and what a perennial worry this is for me! However, I felt the length was justified because I was establishing a sci-fi setting – a dystopian, near-future Earth, similar to the world we live in but with some very specific problems. I was also writing a murder/mystery, with all the clues and red herring trails that entails <!>. I was writing two different timelines, with some flashbacks to yet another timeline thrown in, and… I was establishing a long, slow-burning romance where two people who really shouldn’t fall in love clearly weren’t going to be able to stop themselves – with all the messy complications that involves!
The more I wrote, the more I worried about the length. I got to the point where I was starting to gloss over some scenes and considering culling some aspects of the story… and that’s when I stopped and had a good hard think about it.
The conclusion I came to was that this wasn’t one book. It wasn’t even two books – it was three! So, now I’m writing a trilogy! LOL! I am fairly sure that’s what it’ll be because I’ve named all the books in the trilogy, and we all know what happens when you name something <g>.
I can’t say for sure, but I think I’m about half-way through. I imagine the total word count will end up being around 300,000 by the time I’m done.
I’m sorry in that this means it’ll be some time before I can publish, but I’m excited because when I do, it’ll be three books and not just one, so I hope that justifies the long wait. I’m really sorry about that. I had no idea my real life work would get so bonkers so fast, or that this story would end up being so epic. I can promise you that this is a typical Xanthe story, though – it’s full of angst and romance and twisty turny plot things. It’s quite different to Ricochet in tone and substance, but I’m enjoying weaving together all the separate elements to make a whole. Ricochet felt, to me, like a transitional novel from fanfic to pro fic, partly because it was set in the familiar environs of the BDSM universe which I’d established in my fanfic, and also because it was about the world of actors and TV. The new story is very much its own beast.
I’ve had some cover art done but now that it’s a trilogy that won’t work for it, which is a salutary lesson in waiting until something is done before commissioning artwork!. I also feel that the ‘look’ of the story has moved on and requires a different approach. I will use the cover art I’ve had done as a promotional gizmo, though, as it’s very pretty :-).
One thing I’m pondering is the protocol for naming a series. I was thinking of naming the overall series one thing and giving each of the three novels in it their own titles. Is it usual for one of the novels to bear the name of the series? Or is it fine to give the series an overall name and give different names to the novels in it? I have names thought up along those lines!
Jacci has been hard at work on a new look for xanthewalter.com, which is very sharp and modern and easy to use. We hope to unveil that soon – perhaps to coincide with my first big teaser post about the new novels. We’ve also moved xanthe.org to a new host because the last one was throwing up 403 errors all the time and making it almost impossible for me to edit it comfortably. That was a bit traumatic, and apologies to anyone who sent an email to xanthe.org during the changeover period and had it bounce! That’s sorted out now :-). Please do let me or Jacs know if you encounter any problem using xanthe.org though – we want that to be as smooth and enjoyable an experience as possible.
One thing I didn’t do very well with Ricochet was marketing. I was so exhausted just from publishing Ricochet and figuring out that whole learning curve with the formatting and so on, that I more or less left it to its own devices after that! I’d like to learn how to market this series more – that’s the big challenge I’m setting myself for this trilogy, in addition to actually completing it! I really enjoy the learning side of self-publishing, although I also wibble about it hugely as well. But it’s fun and interesting, and I like learning new skills.
I haven’t spent any of the money I earned from Ricochet on anything except writing related activities – such as updating and improving my two Xanthe websites, commissioning artwork, and attending the recent UK Meet. I want to make sure I have the funds to put into my next writing venture, and so on for each novel going forward, so I can pay a copy editor and invest maybe a little bit in marketing.
I really want to do a teaser post – I’m itching to share some of the details of this series with you because I’ve been living with them for so long and I’m so excited about this story and this world – but feel I should at least get to the end of book two before I do that! So that’s my goal. I doubt I’ll manage that in my annual leave, but I want to get some momentum going, so I hope it won’t take too long.
I won’t release the books until I’ve finished and edited all three of them – I know how much I like to make little changes as I go along, and wouldn’t want to bring the first book out and then find I need to make some little change to it as a result of editing book three! I hope that ‘ll keep the costs down to my readers as well – I need to look into how to do it, but I am sure it must be possible to offer a special deal to anyone buying all three of the novels at the same time, so it’s cheaper than buying them all separately.
So those are my thinky thoughts at the moment – subject to change, as always! LOL! I hope I’m able to check in more often and be a more active presence going forward, as I’ve felt so semi-detached for the past seven or so months. I also hope to give you regular writing updates and share news and snippets with you. I’ve missed being more part of this world. I loved writing and sharing fanfic, and I feel as if I’ve been slaving away writing this epic story without being able to talk about it or share it with a wider audience, and I’ve missed that aspect of writing.
On that subject… I was tagged by SGA Madison on FB recently, to join in the ‘Lucky 7’ meme which goes as follows:
“Go to page 7 or page 77 of your WIP and C&P the next seven lines on your wall…”
So, below are 7 lines from what is currently page 77 of the new epic story!
Alex glanced up at the picture of the great movie star Hudson Smith hanging over the bed, and grinned. He closed his eyes and imagined he was fucking the beautiful man emerging from the halo of fire.
Neil couldn’t see him; he didn’t need to know that Alex was thinking of someone else when they fucked. Neil could have his body, but he was never, ever going to have his heart.
How could he, when Alex didn’t have a heart to give?
More soon, I hope! One interesting factoid for now: in my head and one day in the movie/TV version (a girl can dream!) Alex is totally played by Sebastian Stan ;-). I’m posting a couple of pictures of him below that to my mind illustrate one of the chapters – although I’m not saying why!