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My Week In Writing (11/06/17)

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Look what came in the post!

Just a short update this week – I continue to be trapped in job search hell. One of the application forms I filled out today felt eerily familiar – so much so that I had to go through my files, just to make sure I hadn’t applied already.

As it turns out, I had – way back in September. I’ve applied for all the jobs in Edinburgh, and now I’m going around a second time…

Settlement 359 is, sadly, stalling right before the climax. I know where I need to get but I haven’t quite figured out how to get there. I just don’t have the mental energy for it at present.

Good news, though – Wednesday is my last day at my job, so pretty soon I’m going to have all the time in the world. I’m taking a week out, then doing doing some social media volunteering.

I read Sirens by Simon Messingham, one of the books I’m reviewing for Shoreline of Infinity. It certainly wasn’t boring – I blazed through it – but I have some, hm, complicated feelings about it and I admit I’m a touch disappointed. I’ve read one of his Doctor Who novels (The Indestructible Man) and thought it was pretty good so I was expecting more interesting things.

I listened to Big Finish’s Fifth Doctor Boxset, which features two stories, Pyschodrome and Iterations of I.

Both stories feature Matthew Waterhouse reprising the part of Adric for the first time since the 1980s. I’ve heard him reprise the role before, for A Full Life, but this was the first time I’d heard him in a full-cast play, and it really was a joy.

Adric is (unpopular opinion) one of my favourite companions and a big part of the reason why I got into Classic Who. The two stories provide a lovely set of bookends for season nineteen, Pyschodrome adding some much-needed character bonding and development, while Iterations of I provides some more conventional Doctor Who action. If you’re into the Peter Davison era, I thoroughly recommend it.

I also listened to the first two installments in last year’s Master trilogy, And You Will Obey Me and Vampire of the Mind. I enjoyed them, but I’m reserving full judgement till I listen to the conclusion, The Two Masters.

And – as you can see! – I got The Doctors: The Pat Troughton Tale, a bumper collection of behind the scenes interviews. I made a start on it today, and I’m having a great time.

Next week, I’m going to leave my job. It hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t until it’s really over. We’ll see how that goes, I guess.

 

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My Week In Writing (04/06/17)

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Inspirational posters

Unemployment still looming. I’m trying to stay focused on the positive aspects, i.e. starting a week on Thursday, I don’t have to go to work any more.

My company’s already hired my replacement, which feels a little weird. It also means that he gets my desk, so I’ve been sitting at my line manager’s desk while he plays an elaborate game of musical chairs with himself. It’s a much nicer desk. The days have been going very fast – I don’t know if it’s being in better surroundings, the knowledge that it’ll be over soon, the fear that it’ll be over soon, or just that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts!

Earlier this week, my new deskmate said to me, more or less out of the blue, “something something-seller?”
“I’m sorry?”
“I said, once you’re unemployed, maybe you’ll write a bestseller!”

To my knowledge I’ve never talked to her about my writing before, so I was a mite puzzled, but I told her I’m writing a book so… yeah, it’s a possibility. I’m closer to writing a bestseller than a person who has not written a book at all!

I’ve been taking a semi-break from writing this week – I can feel myself starting to burn out and unfortunately it’s the less essential stuff that has to go first. I did start a new story, inspired by listening to The Adventure Zone.

I got a thousand words in before it occurred to me that the premise could have some weird racial overtones if not handled very carefully, so it’s on hold already, which is probably for the best.

This week I listened to Tomb Ship and Masquerade, the latter two volumes in a trilogy featuring the Fifth Doctor, old companion Nyssa, and new companion Hannah Bartholemew. I’m a touch underwhelmed – they’re both decent stories, and I thoroughly enjoyed Masquerade, but I’d expected a trilogy introducing a new companion to… promimently feature said new companion?

Hannah doesn’t figure that heavily in her introductory story, doesn’t show up until episode four of Tomb Ship, and largely takes a backseat in Masquerade before suffering a very unpleasant fate. I’m disappointed but I knew it was coming, so I’m not that disappointed.

I also listened to Jago in Love and Beautiful Things, the first two installments in the fourth season of Jago and Litefoot. I still have some, hm, complicated feelings about the series as a whole, but this season is shaping up to be very enjoyable.

I’ve been listening to the new season of Alice Isn’t Dead, which continues to be super creepy and hauntingly beautiful, and working my way through The Adventure Zone. Catching up on the latter is a strange experience at the moment – the current arc has provoked some discussion, so it’s been difficult to avoid spoilers and every time I see people talking about it it’s like getting a glimpse of some dark and terrible future…

I finished reading The Bear and the Nightgale, which took me a while – I just found it hard to follow. I want to review all the books I read this year, but I’m drawing a blank on this one cause I just plain didn’t get it!

The last couple of episodes of Doctor Who have been a bit mixed – The Pyramid at the End of the World was, while not as good, an entirely worthy follow-up to Extremis but then The Lie of the Land, despite a really exciting trailer, was surprisingly bland. The ending was super disappointing. Ah, well. Next week’s episode looks like fun!

And I made maple syrup flapjacks, which came out pretty delicious!

Next week is gonna be my last full week at work, which feels really strange. I don’t think I’ll fully get my head around what I’ve done till I’ve finally left for good!

I’m going to be spending it working my way through the Doctor Who audios I’ve bought and not listened to and trying to get through as much of The Adventure Zone as I can before I leave my job – can’t concentrate on audio stuff unless I have something mindless to do with my hands!

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My Week In Writing (28/05/17)

20170527_203809I didn’t find a new job this week – not that I really expected to, but it would have been nice. I’ve applied for 15, though, and had an interview, so… hopeful?

I’m still struggling to process the fact that I’m leaving my job. It’s especially weird because my work is so repetitive and so thankless that it messes with my sense of time – intellectually I know I’ve been doing it for 2+ years, but it’s been the same working day over and over so it still blows my mind a bit that it’s been more than a couple of months.

So, I’m sort of simultaneously terrified at the prospect of the whole structure of my life changing – entirely of my own choosing – and feeling a bit like ‘phew, everything’s finally going back to normal’. This was always meant to be temporary, y’know?

On a lighter note, I’m just below the halfway point on reading through Summer and enjoying my new draft very much. Fingers crossed it’ll be smooth sailing from now on – so long as I don’t encounter any tricky problems while reading the second half (I found one fairly significant continuity error in the first half) I’m all but finished.

Settlement 359 is at 145k and climbing. And – brace yourselves – I actually started writing the climax. The actual, proper, climax. It’s now in progress. It’s all very exciting. I might even finish this thing before the end of June.

This week I’ve been reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, which I’m enjoying, but it’s been slow going – largely, I think, because the Russian names are confusing me so I keep losing track of which character is which!

I listened to two Doctor Who audios, The Burning Prince and Moonflesh, both Peter Davison stories.

The Burning Prince is the first volume in a multi-Doctor trilogy (I didn’t get the second two volumes – they weren’t on sale). It’s a rare solo Fifth Doctor story – he doesn’t travel alone on screen, ever, so expanded universe writers have to be creative if they want to get him by himself! It’s unpredictable and action-packed, all around a bit of a rollercoaster ride. It’s also one of those Davison stories that’s a full-on bloodpath. Brutal stuff. Not a classic of the range by any means, but solid.

Moonflesh is the first volume in a trilogy of stories featuring the Fifth Doctor, TV companion Nyssa, and new companion Hannah Bartholemew (I bought all three – they were all on sale). An enjoyable enough story, but I’m feeling a slight sense of trepidation, going into the rest of the trilogy – Hannah’s heavily implied to be a lesbian (and a butch lesbian – a first for Doctor Who, as far as I know) but best as I can tell her sexuality is never confirmed, and I accidentally spoiled myself for the ending of her last story, which is, erm, tragic. Hopefully it’ll all be handled well.

I finished the third season of Jago and Litefoot. My favourite season, so far, though that’s in large part because it’s the most Doctor Who-y, due to the addition of Tom Baker companion Leela to the main cast. A really strong run of stories, anyway, blending an ongoing story arc about rifts in time with some very strange, very sad human dramas.

I’ve also been listening to The Second Imaginary Symphony, a mini series from podcast The Orbiting Human Circus of the Air. It’s whimsical, melancholy show that blends storytelling with an ongoing plot about a lonely janitor who works in the Eiffel Tower. The Secondary Imaginary Symphony is a standalone story from the same world, with the same lovely, relaxed tone. I’d recommend checking it out.

And I just started watching Anne with an E, which so far is a beautifully done adaptation. Much heavier viewing than you might expect – there’s some scenes I think I could have done without, but it is what it is.

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My Week In Writing (21/05/17)

20170521_175211Well, first of all the big news: I resigned from my job this week. I’m still hoping to find an entry level position in publishing, but I can’t stomach staying in my current job any longer. Four more weeks and I’m out. Hopefully moving to some kind of temp job. I’m trying not to think about it too much, when I’m not actively job hunting – this level of uncertainty is a terrible thing!

That out of the way: I started reading Summer and marking it up for a final round of edits. So far I’ve found two glaring flaws I’d previously missed, one of which I’m pretty sure has been there since draft one. I have no idea how I missed it for so long! I’m on chapter three, and stalling to do some minor re-structuring.

Settlement 359 has passed 140k and despite my best efforts, I’ve started a part eight, titled Freefall. Things kept getting worse and worse for my protagonist, so I rolled with it and now she’s struggling to recover from mental time travel-enduced amnesia. However, I’m pretty sure part eight will be the last one… I’ve been saying this for a while.

I’ve started work on an entry for Big Finish’s annual short story contest. Torn between two ideas, not sure which is best, and as I don’t have to have a completed story to enter and I can submit more than one, I might as well try and do both.

Speaking of Big Finish, this week I listened to a William Hartnell era Lost Story called The Dark Planet, which was both a fairly typical sixties Doctor Who story, exceptionally dark, more or less impossible to do on film now let along fifty years ago. I’m not surprised it didn’t get made. It’s fascinating listening, though.

This week’s Doctor Who, Extremis, was absolutely phenomenal. Beautifully executed mindscrew and absolutely terrifying – my only concern is how they’re going to top it with the (by the looks of it, more conventional) follow up!

I started reading Darling by Jackie Kay, which is slow going because you can’t just rush through a poetry collection, you have to pause and contemplate, y’know?

Next week, I’m planning to listen to some monthly range Big Finish stories with the Fifth Doctor (my fav!) and start reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, the last of my birthday books. Otherwise, I’m job hunting relentlessly.

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My Week In Writing (14/05/17)

20170512_155627I’m in Berlin! I’m writing this in my hotel room, with a view of a rather orange abstract nude painting. My window looks out over downtown.

I’m here with my parents, primarily to look at museums. We’ve done the Neues, for Egyptian artefacts, and seen the very famous Nefertiti. We’ve done the Altes, for Greek and Roman stuff, and seen the Severan Tondo, which I was excited about, my stepdad was interested in, and my mum, I think, was just sort of confused by.

We did the Pergamon, which was a touch disappointing because as it turns out, the Altar of Zeus plus a whole wing of the museum is under long term refurbishment – but there’s still a lot of very exciting stuff to see.

And then we had a look around the Bode, where we saw some more recent (ie, after the fall of Rome) sculpture, including a Donatello that we had to chase all around the renaissance galleries in search of!

We’ve always been around the cathedral – me and my mum climbed the dome while my stepdad stayed on the ground, being afraid of heighs and in possession of a dodgy knee. I probably should have stayed with him, cause it turns out the stairs up to the dome are far more nerve-wracking than I’d expected. The way up wasn’t so bad. Down was harrowing.

20170513_123140We stopped by Checkpoint Charlie, mostly to have a nose around and take some pictures – we didn’t do the museum but did have a look around the shop, which has the most surrel array of Berlin Wall themed tourist tat. I bought a piece of the wall. Or I think I did. No way to tell if it’s genuine wall or a bit of some other wall.

We’ve also had some very nice cake, admired some modern architecture, and stopped by the Haagan Dazs shop (twice).

Other things I’ve done this week: I made some good progress on editing Summer. It’s on hold till I’m back in the UK, but I’m finally starting to feel like I can actually make it into a good book.

I’m trying to keep up with Settlement 359, but it’s slow going because I don’t have the energy, and because I’ve reached a tricky bit.

I finished reading The Circle Opens and I have three out of four reviews posted on Goodreads. And I read Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay, which was a fascinating and moving read.

Next week, I’m going back to Scotland, catching up on some TV I missed, and for one reason or another, I’m not thinking much beyond that.

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My Week In Writing (30/4/17)

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The view from my window

April’s almost over – insert obligatory ‘can’t qite believe we’re four months into 2017 already!’ here.

Settlement 359 is now sitting at around 125k and rising and has somehow managed to grow another character, the delightfully named Georgiana Polymer Grace. Over a couple of days I went from ‘what are my characters going to do once they’ve broken into this base’ to ‘how would a pair of sixteen year olds blend in, can I justify a party of schoolchildren’ to ‘this party of schoolchildren is absolutely essential to my protagonists arc’. So that’s always a fun process to go through.

I have this very strong feeling that Georgiana Polymer is going to play some kind of role in the sequel. So far, I have no idea what the sequel will be about, but I know Settlement 359 isn’t a standalone, and I know I have characters I want to do more with (for example: Grover G, Lulu the kidnapped preacher’s daughter, the Ship Thinker). I’m equal parts excited to see where this goes and utterly terrified at the prospect of having to come up with 1-2 more books worth of plot…

I finished marking up Summer, so now I’m scrolling through the comments picking one a day to try and fix. Which is a slightly confusing way to edit, and I’ll probably have to spend a couple of weeks going over it chapter by chapter again pretty soon.

I’m also planning on moving around some of the chapter breaks, which means some moderate restructuring. I just plain don’t have the energy for that right now.

I started my Temporal Logbook submission, working-titled ‘The Tower’, which is now sitting at 7500-ish words. Which is to say, almost over the upper word limit, and maybe three quarters done. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that editing it will be manageable-ish. Hoping to have it written by the end of the long weekend, at the very latest.

I went to the Literary Salon at the Wash Bar, where I heard a talk about libraries and realised (to my shame) that I don’t actually have a library card. So, I should probably do something about that – just a matter of deciding which library I want to register with, I guess.

This week I finished reading Popshot: The Future Issue and reviewed it on Goodreads. I also read Slade House by David Mitchell and The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin (both short, both gripping). Got some notes for reviews but they’re both pretty heavy. Next week I’m switching to something lighter – I’m going to re-read The Circle Opens by Tamora Pierce.

I listened to the second two stories in Big Finish’s Raine Creevey trilogy: Animal, which was very 1989 Doctor Who so thumbs up there, and Earth Aid which is basically Doctor Who does Star Trek, with Ace Mcshane as Captain Kirk. Overall, I really strong trilogy of stories (even if none of them were outstandingly good) and Raine’s a fantastic companion. However, lots of questions left unanswered, and Big Finish’s continuity being as confusing as it is, I honestly don’t know if they get picked up in another story or not.

I also listened to season two of Jago & Litefoot, one of Big Finish’s many (MANY) Doctor Who spin offs. This one’s about George Litefoot and Henry Gordon Jago, a pair of very popular supporting characters from The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a very popular Tom Baker story.

I have… complicated feelings about Jago & Litefoot. The show itself is great fun and both lead characters are a delight, but it belongs to this genre of light-hearted Victoriana that always makes me vaguely uncomfortable (I don’t like the Victorians – I’m writing a novel set in a Victoria fantasy world because I hate them). But that’s probably something I should save for a full review!

I’m still enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. Bill’s great, Peter Capaldi is on point as always, and so far we’re three for three on really good stories (and these last two had only minimal Matt Lucas!).

Next week, I’m planning to go to Inky Fingers, and (hopefully) workshopping a very strange sci-fi story with my writing group. I also have two job interviews, though, so I might be too busy for either.

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My Week In Writing (23/4/2017)

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Also I made lemonade

Settlement 359 is still trucking along. Part 6 is sitting at about 10k, so I should probably find a way to wrap it up and move on to part 7, which (all going well) should be the climax. Hopefully. Maybe. Then there’ll be an epilogue. I think.

I’m now 10 chapters (out of 13) into editing Summer. Unfortunately I’ve spent most of this week too tired to substantial re-writes so I’ve just been marking passages to come back to later and then realising that I can’t re-write a related passage in the next chapter till I do the earlier passage so I just highlight that one too… you get the picture.

I’ve started working on a story for The Temporal Logbook II, a charity Doctor Who anthology. No idea if I’ll get my story finished in time for the open submission day, though – I decided to take some advice from one of Big Finish’s writers (I forget which one) and try to come up with the best possible Doctor Who story, so I’ve ended up with something very ambitious that might not be doable in <8k. We’ll see. I’m making a spreadshet.

I went to the Creative Salon at Summerhall, where we heard some poetry, which was a nice change of pace. Lot more writers than usual, so I got to chat to some people about my novels.

I finished reading The Snake Wand and reviewed in on Goodreads. Now I’m reading the newest issue of Popshot (which I submitted a story for and didn’t get into, boo). The artwork is gorgeous as ever and the theme is ‘future’, which means the stories are right up my alley.

I’m really enjoying the new season of Doctor Who. Smile was sincerely frightening in that paranoia-inducing way that New Who’s so good at, though I had a curious sensation of deja vu – I’m sure I’ve seen almost that exact premise in a Doctor Who story before, but I can’t place it. But on the up side, Matt Lucas was barely in it, which is a plus.

I listened to two Doctor Who audio plays, both from Big Finish’s Lost Stories range: Point of Entry, a very gothic piece about Christopher Marlowe (which was originally to be scripted by the author of one of my favourite Fifth Doctor serials, Enlightenment) and Crime of the Century, the first in a trilogy of stories featuring the Seventh Doctor and Raine Creevy, the companion who would have been introduced had the show now been cancelled.

Point of Entry does a really good job of capturing the tone of the Sixth Doctor era (it’s got this grungy, rough around the edges feel to it), though in many respects it harks back to the Hinchcliffe & Holmes era. I don’t think I know enough Christopher Marlowe to properly appreciate it, though. I was a bit less taken with Crime of the Century, which I found oddly dull for a story that features the Doctor’s companion sword fighting a giant insect…

I’ve also been listening to The Adventure Zone by the McElroys, ie, listening to a group of very funny and creative people play D&D. I gather the plot goes to some very exciting places (I know a lot of people who are really invested) but I’m still trying to get caught up.

Next week I’m planning to start reading Slade House by David Mitchell (which I literally JUST realised is a companion piece to The Bone Clocks – which is fine by me because I’ve read it and loved it, apparently threw some people!), finish listening to the Raine Creevy trilogy (I’ve heard mixed things so we’ll see how that goes) and make a proper start on writing this Doctor Who story. Just as soon as I get it planned out. It’s gonna need a very detailed plan.

I’m also hoping to go to Edinburgh’s Literary Salon – no idea who the feature is and don’t especially care, I jsut like getting to hang out with some writers for a few hours.

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