Planned work

No I haven’t died, I just decorated my living room

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I bet you didn’t even notice I was away..!

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks or so, due to the fact that I’ve been redecorating my living room.  This was not a job that I was able to achieve in a weekend, due to the scale of the job, the fact that I was doing it on my own without help, and that I work during the day so had to do it in the afternoons and weekends.  Consequently, it took me well over a week and isn’t really finished now.

Everything stopped while the redecoration was happening, even my writing took a back seat.

I first had to move all my furniture into the centre of the room and cover it with plastic sheeting.  Although I pride myself on not being a hoarder, you never really know just how much shit you’ve accumulated until you have to move it somewhere.  I preceded this redecoration project with a mass clear out and took loads of stuff to the tip and gave other stuff away, but still there was loads to find temporary homes for while paint was flying around.  Having all my furniture in a huddle in the middle of the room and covered with plastic sheet, meant I was now without access to my sofa, table, coffee table, tv, radio etc, and had to ‘move into’ my bedroom for the duration.

I know my mattress isn’t the most expensive on the market but after ten days of both sitting on it and sleeping on it, I realise now what utter shit quality it is.  I had my laptop, which gave me access to the internet so I could watch movies and online tv, but eating meals on my bed and doing every single damn thing on my bed became old very quickly and it took days for my spinal injury to get back to its normal level of pain.

Having given up smoking on March 5th, and not having decorated this room for around ten years or so, it took three coats of white to cover the nicotine stained ceiling.  The walls had been a sort of butter colour, which Dulux poetically referred to as ‘Sundust’ and as I now wanted them a very pale grey, I had to cover them with two coats of white to make sure the grey stayed true.  This took a further two days, due to having to wait for coats to dry before doing the next coat etc, nothing is straight forward with decorating is it?  You can’t just get on with it until you’ve finished.  You always have to wait for some damn thing before you can do the next bit, very annoying.

Next I put the grey on the walls, which looked lovely.  This grey paint was extremely expensive  (£46 for five litres) so I only had enough for one coat and was extremely grateful that I had taken the trouble to white out the dingy yellow.  The grey is pale and has an almost china blue quality to it in a certain light.  Not what you would expect from grey at all.  I’m delighted with it.

The last people who lived in my flat put up some of that fancy S shaped coving in the living room, and I wanted to paint it black.  This took another two days alone, as it needed two coats, then I needed to go along the top and bottom with a tiny artists brush and touch up where the ceiling and walls met the edges of the coving.  After so  many hours of craning my next upwards, I doubt I’ll ever be able to look down at my toes again.  The attention to detail paid off though, as the effect is crisp, modern, urban and slightly 1930’s (says I who was born in the 60’s and knows nothing about the real 30’s).

Next was the woodwork, which is the one job I hate with a passion.  It took me two days to sand down two doorframes, a windowsill,  and a mile of skirting and my wrists are still weak and painful and the  skin on my right hand still hasn’t recovered completely.  The ball of my right thumb is still painful too.  Then came two coats of black gloss paint to finish off the job.  I then had to give it a day to begin to dry enough to put the furniture back.

I want to get new flooring for this room, so I ripped up the cream carpet that was down and hiked up to the tip with it all.  Then after hours of cleaning up and carefully putting furniture back, the room is eighty percent finished.  The floor has bright mexican orange linoleum tiles which was obviously installed by council workmen when the building was built, and although it does not ‘go’ with the colour scheme, I will have to live with it until I can save up for some new white vinyl flooring to complete my monochrome look.

I removed the two doors in this room.  The one into the kitchen will not be replaced as I never shut it and the bit of wall behind it is of far more use to me than a door I never close.  The one into the hall will be replace eventually, by one of those glass panelled doors which I hope will allow a little light into the hall, which has no windows and is as dark as the inside of a penguin’s arse.  I found curtains that blend with the look at very reasonable cost, and two of those nice fat tassel tie backs which are usually blood curdlingly expensive (why is a tassel so expensive?) for a tenner each (steps back in amazement).  A couple of black throws from Asda to cover my brown sofa and chair which I can’t afford to replace, and I’m happy with my room.  I just need to save for a new door and new flooring for it to be finished.

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With a slight rearranging of furniture, the room now looks much bigger than before and this new paint job is the only way I can afford to homage the art deco style I love so much. (Yes I know it probably is totally wrong for Art Deco, but it reminds me of it every time I look at it.)

Mother came up for a visit just as I finished and gave her seal of approval, which meant I had another four days of not being able to get back to writing.  Never mind, she paid for stuff at the supermarket so I’m not complaining.

Now I’ve been able to get back to writing, my current work in progress, which is a paranormal novel, has just passed 50k and should end up around 60k (give or take).  This story started out as a planned 4k short story for another anthology I plan to do, but as usual, my characters asserted themselves very quickly and told me in no uncertain terms that they make the rules, not I.  Being outside of my usual sci fi genre, it has been slow to write but a fun experience for me, and one that I look upon as a learning experience.  I can’t wait to see it in print.

Once the first draft of the paranormal novel is done, I can get to editing my next release, the first draft of which has been waiting patiently for me ever since November’s Nanowrimo, when I wrote it.  This is the third in my Sinclair V-Logs series and sees Sam face up to things he never thought he would ever have to deal with.  I’m planning to release it sometime during July.  Watch this space for further details.

I’m delighted with my newly revived living space, and look forward to doing the next room when I feel up to it.  It is good to be back writing; even though I was only away from it for a couple of weeks, it seems like ages and I’ve missed it and felt terribly guilty.  It has probably done me good though, I’ve certainly done a lot of thinking about my future as an author, but that’s for another blog.

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The tides of change are flowing

Things are changing around the dusty corners of this creative mind.  I can feel this change beginning to happen and it’s exciting to be aware of it from such an early stage.  Normally, we don’t get to know about these changes until we’re (apparently all of a sudden) hit with the urge to create, and we tend to think that this urge has just hit us out of nowhere.  Now I know this isn’t so, that the conduit through which the creative urge flows, takes time to be built.  Not much time, but time nonetheless

In the past, I have ‘suddenly’ got an idea for a story.  I then write down this basic thought in a notebook and keep it for when the time is right to actually write it.  When that time arrives, I ‘just know’ that it’s now time to write this story, and I get on with it.  I  have had no awareness of anything going on during these intervals of time, or during the time leading up to the initial ‘idea hit’.

Now things are different, and I’m being made aware of the very first seeds of creation being sown, and I know that one day, the result will be a story, a book, and that book will be the culmination of the changes that are just now beginning.  I have yet to experience the ‘idea hit’, that is yet to come, but when it does, I will know and think, “ahh, this is because of…………………”

Maybe it’s the muse taking pity on me and deciding to let me in on the bit he normally does on his own, I don’t know but it’s exciting.

My mind is being ‘called’ to take notice of things I have never taken much interest in before.  I’m feeling compelled to watch certain movies, and I know it’s because they contain things that will help me develop a future story.  The first two of these are 2001 and 2010, both classic space operas.  I had some difficulty getting hold of 2001, but thanks to a great friend Paul (thanks buddy) I was able to watch it and I know why I had to watch it.  Today I watched 2010 and although I’m not totally sure what nugget of gold this one has for me, I do know it’s not the same one that 2001 has.  All will become clear in the fullness of time.  I also know I have to watch Doom, probably several times over, and again, I do know why and what I’m looking for.  I have this movie on DVD and luckily, it’s one of my favourites, so I won’t mind at all.

All I know at this moment, is that it will be a classic space opera and will take place entirely in a space ship.  The protagonists will be a unit of soldiers, and a highly sophisticated computer will star alongside them.  I even know the main protagonist’s name,  that was one that came to me ages ago, which is written in my ‘little purple book’ of ideas.  I’ve no idea whether this will be a stand alone or a series, although my educated guess is a stand alone.  I have no title as yet, but I do know that it will come while I’m writing it.

Writing has always been an intuitive process for me, but I’ve never before been party to the build up that lays the foundations for the story.  This is a first for me, and it’s wonderful to be a part of.  I’ve no idea why my muse is letting me in on this initial foundation laying process, but I’m very happy that he is.  Maybe it’s a new muse taking over, one who likes to do things differently.

There have been other changes here too lately.  I wrote some time ago that I decided to do another anthology of short stores, only this one would be paranormal rather than horror.  I have a couple of them done, and I started another, which I planned to be around 4k words.  Well that story is now at 12k and has no intention of finishing yet, so I’m now writing a paranormal novel that I never planned to write. Who’da thunk?

One week ago, on Ash Wednesday actually, I gave up smoking.  I’m getting pangs of course, but my new best friend is my nicorette inhalator and it’s helping me stay on the wagon so far.  Maybe without the poison of smoking, my creative mind can now see further, and maybe my muse can now reach me more easily, I don’t know.

Change is happening, and change is good.

New blurbs, New categories and more updates

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I’ve decided to take a few steps toward trying to build my brand.  I’m always the first to admit that I suck cock at promoting myself, and my efforts so far have proved a waste of time.  With lots of encouragement, and a kick in the ass from time to time from my facebook friend Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I’ve taken a couple of steps towards getting a bit more visibility for my brand.

The first thing I did was update my blurbs.  Although they weren’t bad, they benefitted from a bit of sharpening here and there, and I like the results, which you can see on my book pages here this site (in the nav bar up top).

The second thing I did was to add another category at Amazon.  Up till now, I’ve just placed my work in Science Fiction/Space Opera, which is what the book are, but I added Science Fiction/Action and Adventure.  Hopefully this will give them more scope to be found by browsers and may result in a sale or two.

Next, I re-did the keywords on Amazon.  Keywords is getting towards territory I know practically zip about, but after taking advice, I changed them, and I hope they help increase the number of times my work pops up in searches.  Fingers crossed.

I’m also trying to make more use of Pinterest, as I’ve heard that this place is a great venue for getting your brand noticed.  I’ve renamed some of my boards, and added a couple of new ones that give my pinterest a more science fiction angle.  I hope this will attract more sci fi type folks who may then decide to take a chance on my books.  You never know, it costs nothing to try huh?

I’ve finished the first full read through and edit of my next book, which is a stand alone science fiction romance.  This is the book for which I’ve invented an alien language, and because of this, the first edit took longer than it usually does.  I also took this opportunity to add words to bring each chapter up to my preferred 5k size.  This allowed me to expand in some places that needed it, to go into the characters’ thoughts and emotions in a deeper way, which was a challenge at times but such a worthwhile learning curve.  I hope to publish this in March 2014.

The last update I have, is that I’ve decided to put together another anthology.  This one will be more paranormal based than straight  horror, and I have the first two stories already.  As for size, I think twenty is a good number, it will give my anthologies a consistency if they all contain twenty stories.

On a more personal note, I’m celebrating having successfully persuaded my mother to sell up and leave Cornwall and come and live near me.  She’s 82 this coming July, and very obese, diabetic, and has damaged hips and knees.  Her nearest shop is a mile away, and she can’t walk anywhere near that far, and while it’s not a problem as she still drives, it won’t be long before she can’t drive anymore.  When that happens, she’ll be stuffed like the proverbial Christmas turkey.  If she lives near me, I can lend her a helping hand and keep her independent whenever she needs me.  I’m so relieved my months of nagging has finally borne fruit, and quite excited to see her get a nice place around here.

No rest for the wicked (or the writer)

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Christmas is a busy time of year for most people.  The rush of present buying, food preparing, house decorating and relative visiting is enough to wear anyone out.  It’s the same for  me, though on a smaller scale.  Mother is coming to stay this year and I’ve already got her presents bought and wrapped.  I’ve got presents bought and sent to my friend in Florida and have just one more present to buy.  Food shopping will be done online once mother arrives and I never bother with decorations.  Yes I’m a bit of a humbug, sue me.

Christmas is busy for me this year for another reason, I’m an author.  I’ve been bent, nose to grindstone during November, writing a novel for Nanowrimo.  This was finished yesterday, yippee.  I’ve also been editing, formatting and publishing an anthology of my horror stories, which came out a few days ago, double yippee.  Now I have to set to work on proofing and editing the next novel, which I wrote during this summer’s camp Nano and which I hope to release in March.  I will also have a book to format and cover design for an author friend over Christmas.  I also have a part time job to hold down.  Phew, I thought the holiday season meant you got a rest.

Nanowrimo 2013

This coming Friday, millions of writers across the world will stop their lives and spend the entire month writing as if their lives depend upon it and I will, once again, be one of them.  This will be my second November Nano and I’m looking forward to it very much.

I will be writing the third volume in my Sinclair V-Logs series, starring Sam Sinclair and he will be on the trail of a man who has stolen an ancient artifact from the museum where he worked.  Hot on the heels of the fleeing thief, Sam finds himself facing things he would never have imagined himself facing, and finds his own reality and belief system called into question as events unfold.

This will be the fourth time I’ve written with Sam, and he’s a good friend now.  I know everything about him now and feel comfortable writing with him, and, I hope he feels comfortable telling me his story.  He does, I’m sure he wouldn’t be here passing his experiences to me if he didn’t feel happy about it.

I don’t yet know how long The Sinclair V-Logs series will be, but I am enjoying writing them and this third volume will keep the excitement going at a cracking pace.

Are you taking part in nano this year?  I’d be interested to hear of your plans.

Going Camping?

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I’m going to be doing Camp Nano next month.  After successfully completed last November’s novel in twenty days, I’m fired up and ready for Camp.

I’ve had what I’ve called ‘my big quest’ novel in the wings for months now, and Camp Nano is the perfect time to devote my attention to it.  As I have, up to now anyway, done series’, stand alones have taken a back seat so the Nanos are the obvious times to do them.

This novel will be another space opera, of course, but it’s also a tale of global strife, inter galactic intrigue and all consuming love.

A New Novel is Born

Now that Floxham Island ~ Sinclair V-Log AZ267/M is out, I can turn my attentions to my next two works in progress.

I have the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2012, Acts of Life to edit and proof read ready for publication in July 2013 and I’ve just begun writing a new novel featuring Sam Sinclair from Floxham Island.

Acts of life will be first of these projects you will see and features Jake, a famous movie star who agrees to work aboard an inter galactic freighter for three months as research for his latest movie role.  Events quickly take an unexpected turn and Jake finds himself and his new friends, stranded on a dangerous and uninhabited planet.  In a desperate fight for survival, not only from the indigenous life of the planet, Jake and his companions must also avoid capture by those intent on doing him harm.

The new Sam Sinclair novel, as yet untitled, sees Sam go undercover to find out the cause of seven mysterious deaths.  In the process he gains, and then loses, a great friend whose legacy ensures he finds an important ally in the future.

I’ve decided upon my plot line for this year’s NaNoWriMo, which will be published sometime in 2014.  This story is an epic quest involving a race across planets to save not only the protagonist’s true love, but also to save an entire planet from annihilating themselves in an unnecessary war.

Lastly for this year’s writing plans, I have ten short horror stories to write that will complete my planned horror anthology and hope to get it published this year.

I always like to have plots planned for a couple of books ahead as I have this dread of finishing a current WIP and then not finding another plot to work on.  Hopefully, by the end of 2013 I’ll  have eight books under my belt.

First of my brand new space opera series to be out soon

I’ve been away from blogging for a while (yeah I know you didn’t even notice I was gone) due to the demands of editing and formatting.

Now that The Lilean Chronicles series is complete, I have the first volume in a brand new space opera series coming out very shortly.  I’ve recently completed the final edits and spent several hours yesterday formatting for smashwords, KDP and then battled with the paperback formatting.  Formatting for paperback always gives me grey hairs but as I do more and more, I get to win the battle more quickly each time.

It’s those damn headers and footers; I  hate them and they hate me.

I’ve found out through trial and error that it’s all down to where you have section breaks and where you have page breaks.  I put all the front matter (title page, copyright notice, dedication) as one complete section with page breaks between the pages and a section break at the end.  Then I put all the chapters as a second complete section, with page breaks at the end of each chapter and a section break after THE END.  Any endpapers (coming soon etc) goes as a third seperate section.

Headers and footers are only required in the actual chapters.  You don’t have page numbers or the book title at the top of the page for instance, on the front matter or the end papers.  I’ve always found that Word keeps putting headers and footers on my front matter when I put it on the chapter section, but then when I remove them from the front matter, they also disappear from the chapters, ARGH..!

Then I happened to find out that the headers and footers have ‘same as previous’ on them by default, which means Word automatically makes them the same as the previous section.  So, if you want them in the chapters, Word will also put them in the previous section (the front matter) because it defaults to ‘same as previous’ all the time.

With me so far?

What you have to do is turn off the ‘same as previous’ thing and then it will just put the headers and footers in the current section.

You must also make sure that the page numbering is also set to start at number 1 (it defaults to 2 sometimes) and that you unclick ‘continue from last section’ and then click ‘number first page’.

It all sounds very complicated and it is, far too bloody complicated but I am determined to get this.  It only took me a couple of hours battling this time.  Hopefully when I release my NaNoWriMo novel in July, I’ll get it right first try.

Now that the formatting is done I just have to wait for my cover art guy to do his bit, although I just found out he has the flu so he may not be well enough to do this one.  I plan to publish within the next two weeks so if he isn’t well enough I’ll be doing it myself.  Thankfully he’s taught me so much over the last four books that I feel pretty confident I can do a front cover without a problem.  I’ve been doing digital fan art for ages and this particular cover is a simple design; just one complete photo with text for the title and author name.

I hope he’s recovered by July as my NaNoWriMo novel cover is quite a complicated one..!

The end of the year blog

It’s that time of year again.  I don’t just mean Christmas; I mean it’s the end of another year and the start of a new one, which means one thing in the blogging world – the end of the year review blog.  This is something I started way back in the day when I first joined the internet and got myself a myspace page.  I loved myspace in those days and still look back on it with affection and sadness at myspace’s demise.  Anyway, I digress.  I began a tradition of doing an end of the year – looking forward to the next around Christmas each year and even though I’m not a huge fan of senseless tradition, I wish to continue this one.

2012 has been a tremendous year for me.  It began with me being fresh into self publishing, with my debut novel under my belt and the second written and being edited.  Four novels have been born this year and my space opera series, The Lilean Chronicles was completed.  I had my first go at NaNoWriMo and wrote a 75k word novel in 20 days, which will be published in June 2013.  I also began a new series featuring a new main character called Sam Sinclair, the first of which will be published in February 2013.  I also wrote a third of my planned short story anthology and had several shorts published in Schlock Webzine.  I’ve actually sold a few books too..!

Yes, writing wise, this year had been wonderful.  I’ve learned so much about writing and the process of self publishing and am gratified to see my work on sale all over the internet.  The Lilean Chronicles has received wonderful reviews for which I am truly delighted.  Writing a book is one thing but having someone read it and say they loved it, is on another level altogether.  I have the next two books already taking shape in my head; a second Sam Sinclair novel and an epic adventure quest novel that I will start writing in the summer of 2013.

2012 also saw me meet a wonderfully talented artist who now does all my book covers.  His name is JL Stratton and he is an awesomely talented artist who won’t rip you off.  Find him on facebook by clicking here.   I end 2012 not only feeling like a writer, but knowing that I am a writer and I feel happy and comfortable with it.  I may never be a rich writer, but I’m a writer.

On a personal level, nothing much has changed.  I’m still single, still cripplingly autistic and body dysmorphic and still lonely on an emotional level.   I’m still broke but just getting by and I’ve managed to maintain the inner knowledge that I’m destined for great wealth someday.  I’m still crazy about Riddick and fond of Vin Diesel, although I’ve taken a little bit of a mental step back from the crazy infatuation I used to have for Vin and I feel more balanced about him.  I still have a love/hate relationship with Dwayne Johnson but I am trying to take the same mental step back I took from Vin, although I haven’t quite managed it yet.  There’s something about Dwayne that holds me and I can’t quite yet break away from it for long.  It’s one of the things I intend to work on during 2013.

So what of 2013?  Well, the first Sam Sinclair novel will be published in February and my NaNo novel, Acts of Life will be published in June.  The second Sam Sinclair novel should be ready for publication by the end of the year, so maintaining my 3 books a year tradition.  I intend to continue writing content for my short story anthology and hope to finish it and have it published by the end of 2013, which will bring my total to 4 books next year.  I should end the year deep into writing my epic adventure quest novel.

I’ve managed to save a few pounds over this past year and intend to treat myself to an elliptical cross trainer in the January sales, which I will use as part of my annual, lose weight/get fit campaign.  I know I know, but c’mon, what would New Year be without a pledge to lose weight huh?  Another thing I’m doing next year is going it alone work wise.  I’m quitting my cleaning job with the cleaning company I currently work for and intend to try to work for myself.  The company I work for sometimes only give me 3 or 4 hours work a week, which isn’t enough to live on and I can undercut their prices and be much better off financially.  Hell, I can’t be any worse off so why not have a go?

I’d like to be able to say I intend to find a man during the coming year but I don’t feel confident I could deliver on that pledge, so I’m not going to make it.  I would like to meet someone and I know that my heart is ready for love now.  I just have to get my body into better shape first, hence the weight loss/get fit campaign.  2013 might even see me moving house, as the housing benefit system here is changing and because I have an extra bedroom, they want to cut my housing benefit.  One of the ways around it is to downsize to one bedroom, so I may just be packing up and moving  sometime.

Mother is coming to stay for a couple of weeks for my birthday in February, so I have that to look forward to.  She’ll pay for everything while she’s here and she’s a laugh.  She’s very elderly now and I don’t know how much longer she’ll be around and as we’re getting along better now than ever before, I want to make the most of what time we have left.  Next year will be my turn to have her for Christmas, so that will be fun too.  I’m alone this year as she spends every other year with  her other daughter, with whom I’ve had no contact in many years.  I’m the black sheep of the family and was ostracised many years ago for telling the whole family about the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my father for ten years as a kid.  I didn’t realised that in ‘good’ families one doesn’t tell..!  At least it means Christmas is a cheap time for me, as I don’t have to buy presents for everyone.

Overall, 2012 has been a year of furious movement in a totally new direction – writing.  It’s been exciting and wonderful for my writing career and I’m very happy to have finally found my true calling, my true destined path – as a writer.

I wish everyone who stumbles across here a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

NaNoWriMo Update

It’s day 4 of NaNoWriMo and it seems that many of my contacts on facebook are taking part.  This is my first year participating and I must say I’m enjoying it very much.  It is good discipline to make yourself write every day and even if you don’t reach the 50 k you’ll have pushed yourself and learned a little more of what you’re capable of.

I’m doing okay with it so far.  My total stands at just over 20 k and I’m on track to hit the 50 k on the 9th November.  My novel will be longer than that though; I like my novels to be between 80 – 100 k and it would be super awesome to finish the whole thing in the month.  I’ve completed 4 chapters so far and the real action has just begun.

The only difficulty I’m having is actually nothing to do with it being NaNoWriMo.  I’m having a problem making my protagonist nasty enough.  You see, my main guy is not nice, in fact he’s a bastard but I am finding it a real job to make him horrible enough.  I love writing nice guys and I find them easy and natural but this character is proving a challenge.  As with all my characters though, he is building himself in the way he wants to be and I’ve learned not to fight my characters when they dictate stuff.  I let them have the lead and they know I will listen to them.  I may argue sometimes but they always get their own way in the end.  Jake isn’t a nice guy but I’m finding he’s building himself into a different kind of not nice than I envisioned at the start.  His not niceness comes from his own ignorance rather than any real malice; he is so up his own ass that he just doesn’t see what a prick he is and how he pisses people off.  He is building himself into a far more sophisticated kind of not nice than I thought he would be and y’know what?  I like the guy.

Another thing I didn’t plan or envision when I began was how much sex there would be in this book.  I knew there would have to be some, seeing as how my character is a narcissistic megalomaniac celebrity, but even I’m surprised at how often he ‘whips it out.’  This is definitely going to be an 18+ novel.

I’ve also been formulating ideas for the cover art and have a brilliant idea, which I’m not going to tell you about.  The last time I shared a cover before it was published, some other asshole chick stole my idea and published 2 weeks before I was due to.  My cover art guy had to race around looking for a new idea.  Luckily we found one and it’s  actually better than the one I had planned to use so all ended well.  So I’m keeping this idea under wraps.  This book won’t be published until mid summer anyway so there’s no hurry.  I have the fourth and final volume in The Lilean Chronicles series coming out in the first week of December, then I have a second of my novella series to write so I can publish the first pair as a single volume in spring of 2013 and then it will be time for my NaNo project to come out in summer.  I also had a full plot idea fall right into my head the other night as I sat trawling through facebook, so I be getting on with writing that once my first novella pair is published.

So all is well on the writing front here.  I just wish people would buy the books so I can eat and pay a few bills..!