Tuesday, 18 January 2022


"Realm 5" finally has a name (and a cover... but more on that another day)... it's Chaos.

I've started on the edits and I'm hoping to have got them done and back to Fiona (my editor) by the middle of February, ready for her to do a copyedit. It may well take me less time than that to finish them, but at the moment I'm trying to be kind to myself and accept that some days I just don't have the mental strength to tackle the book. There's no point pushing myself and ending up tired and upset (and not doing the best job with the edits, either). The publishing deadline is set by me!

I've talked of this before, but I must have a deeply ingrained work-ethic, as most days, the idea of choosing not to edit, but to read or knit or (gasp!) do nothing is just beyond me. Which is why I hit burn-out and almost had a breakdown before I left working at the uni. Let's not get to that state again! I left work to protect my mental health and to try to enjoy life. It would be madness to work myself into another crisis, especially given that it's entirely avoidable.

I don't really set New Year's Resolutions, though in the dead week between Christmas and New Year, I usually take stock and reflect on the past year. After that, I tend to have a few things I'd like to do differently in the coming year. In 2022, I really do want to try to be kinder to myself; take more days off; not feel that I have to work every day. It's a work in progress. I have decades of habit to break.

I guess the upshot is that Chaos might not be dropping quite as soon as I'd hoped, but I'll keep you all posted on progress.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

I'm back...

 ... although still finding it hard to concentrate.

The end of 2021 was a bit of a blur with Dad dying, the funeral and so on. Fiona (my editor) sent "Realm #5" back to me just before Christmas and we chatted about the edits last week. We have another Skype meeting scheduled for today, and then I'll be cracking on with the editing.

It's not been easy, to be honest, as one of the main themes of the book involves losing a father too soon and never having enough time to ask them about everything. That theme developed as I was writing the book and slowly losing my own father - mostly to failing health and dementia, then (after the draft went off to Fiona) actually losing him. I've wanted to talk to him about so much over the last few months, and it hasn't been possible. When he was more able to follow conversations, we were restricted in visits because of covid. Then when restrictions eased, he was so often tired or unable to talk about things. And so I never did say all the things to him I wanted to say. Not when I was sure he could understand them, anyway.

I miss him every day. I miss telling him things - things from the news like the Roman mosaic found in Rutland, or the huge dinosaur (also found in Rutland... for a tiny county, it's punching above its weight!). I miss laughing with him. I miss showing him my latest knitting project. I just miss him.

I suspect that editing "Realm #5" will be a slower process than it has been for other books, partly because my concentration is shot to pieces, but mostly because the theme of loss is so very raw.

Bear with me? I am getting there. Just very slowly.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Plans? What plans? Part 2

My darling, beloved father died last Wednesday, so none of the plans I made for November and December will be happening.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Plans? What plans?

I had a plan for what I was tackling before the end of March. And now it's not what I thought it would be.

Realm #5 left my desk on the 8th November, winging its merry way to my editor. Who was originally scheduled to have the book until the end of January. This was my plan:

  • November: take most of it as a break, with perhaps some audiobook recording, but at least a break from writing
  • December: go back over book #10 and rewrite where necessary. Intersperse writing with audiobook recording
  • January: line edits of book #10; audiobook recording
  • February: edits of Realm #5 once it was back from my editor
  • March: get Realm #5 ready for publication

Except on Friday, my editor emailed me to ask if I wanted Realm #5 back in 4 instalments before 20th December, or all in one on the 20th. I don't know if it's coming back to me 6 weeks ahead of schedule because other clients dropped out, leaving my editor with more time, or if she scheduled more time than it needs. She did say she thoroughly enjoyed it (which is always lovely!).

It's currently 22nd November and I did indeed take much of the last couple of weeks as a break. Part of me wishes I'd been a bit more productive writing-wise, but I needed to catch up with other things (like gardening and housework). Realm #5 is coming back in 4 weeks, which isn't enough time to rewrite and edit book #10. It's probably enough time to make a serious dent in the audiobooks project, so I should probably crack on with that. Certainly my hubby will be pleased if/when we can finally take down the recording tent that's lurking in the back of our main sitting room! I may have suggested it was only going to be up for a couple of months, about three months ago.

Maybe the new plan looks like this:

  • Until Realm #5 is back: record audiobooks
  • End of December: go through the editing with my editor
  • January: do the edits on Realm #5
  • February: get Realm #5 ready for publication
  • March onwards: book #10 and audiobook recordings

Sorry, hubby. Looks like the tent's going to be up for a while.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Realm #5 has left the building!

"Realm #5" is away to Fiona, my editor. And now I have "End-of-book-itis" and feel exhausted, bereft, and at a loss over what to do with myself.

I mean, I could do my tax form... (and I probably will, sooner rather than later!). Or the housework, which has been abandoned for quite some time now. I'm hoping to take a bit of a break, but knowing me, that will last all of about a week, before I start editing book #10/recording the audiobooks/plotting book #12/starting something totally new/all of the above.

But, for the next few weeks, I won't be looking at "Realm #5" and that thought is both liberating and crushing. I've been writing the series on and off since 2014 (😮) and since then, any time I've not been working on it, I've always felt a pull back to it. But the series ends with this book. There will be no more "just making some notes for the next one" because there is no next one. As I say - this feels both liberating and crushing. Liberating, because I have a gazillion other ideas buzzing around in my head which I've been promising to get to once Realm #5 was off to Fiona. Crushing, because I've spent so many years with these characters, that it feels like I'm losing some best friends.

Anyway, for now, I'm going to make another cup of tea and try to remember what life involves, when it doesn't involve writing and editing!

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

First edit? Check.

I didn't think I'd get there but at the weekend, I finished the first edit of Realm #5 (a structural edit). Because life happens, I've had to push the date I'm sending it off to my editor back a week, but I've just started on my second edit. The second edit is the "use all the right words" one!

I'm probably going to take the rest of November off after the ms goes away. I'm tired. I need a break. And I need to rediscover my love of writing a little bit, and feel less like I'm on a treadmill. I still have a gazillion writing goals (and not enough time to complete them), but I definitely need a break. Mind you, I know me, and I'll probably end up taking a week off and then getting stuck into something long before the end of November.

But I have to say, I feel a whole let better now that I've got through the structural edit. It's always more difficult than the line-edits.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

1857 and jobs or hobbies

1857 is a podcast by one of my good friends and I was listening to it over the weekend, while doing some knitting. (This was my attempt to make my brain shut up and allow me to chill.) The episode was on when hobbies become jobs, and if they do, will they lose their appeal. Give it a listen.

It struck me as apposite, because I had a 'proper job' (i.e. one that paid me a decent wage and a pension) and I gave it up, mostly because it had pushed me into a breakdown but partly because I wanted to do 'my dream job' which was writing. And while I was doing the proper job, writing was a hobby.

Is writing still my dream?

Well, eleven books on and I'm still doing it. And luckily I'm in the fortunate position of not needing to go back to having a 'proper job' because all those years of working allowed me to squirrel away money. Which is good, because writing doesn't even cover its costs, never mind actually let me earn anything!

Some days, it's a fabulous lifestyle. I lose myself in the worlds I'm creating, talk away to the people I made up, and time just flows. On days like that, I feel like the luckiest person alive.

Other days, it's hell. As Stu and TJ contemplate in the podcast, as soon as you start monetising something, it stops being a hobby and starts being stressful. I can feel as if I'm on a treadmill and not always writing what I want to write.

I think I need to go back to having more fun with my writing and write stuff just for me. (Of course, in many ways, that's kind of what I did... I wrote The Guardians of The Realm series for me, because I wanted to read something just like it and found nothing out there that was quite right. I hadn't realised at the time that I had such unique taste...)

The quandary I feel I face is that what I want to write isn't what other people want to buy. Which is a bit of a bugger when you turn your passion into a job. What sells like hot cakes in the urban fantasy world right now are a whole series of things that I personally don't enjoy reading and couldn't write.

I'm currently deep into edits, but once they go off to my editor at the start of next month, I think I might take some time to write stuff that I enjoy. It'll probably never be published. But the passion is feeling too much like an unpaid job right now, and I am a terrible boss.