Finally, something to write home about…

What’s up everybody?

Yes, that’s right, I’ve finally gotten around to making another blog post. This time, I’m going to cover a lot of things since there has been a plethora of changes in my life as of late that I’m going to share with you.

The first – and arguably most important – of these is the fact that I left my job working in the Civil Service (quite a few months ago now, actually). However, since then I have also been preparing for what could be the most dramatic upheaval of my life since I went to university. Are you ready for this news of epic proportions? Probably, since it’s not that big a deal. I am going to Japan. Not just to visit, but to live and work in Japan for an entire year (provided I don’t totally fuck it up before my 6 month review). I’ll be living on the outskirts of Tokyo in Kanagawa Prefecture, near the mountains and merely an hour’s train ride away from where the majority of my books are set. As with most foreigners, I’m going out there to teach English, primarily to young children but also to teenagers and adults as well. It’s well paid, challenging work and I get to experience a culture I have been fascinated with since I was ten years old.

This is near where I’ll be living!

Fortunately for me, I have a reasonable handle on my Japanese and I have a friend living within a sensible distance who is fluent in Japanese and knows the main metropolis pretty well given that she has been working there for quite a few years now. It’s an adventure, and one I’ll be keeping track of right here on my website. Your support is, as always, most welcome.

The second bit of news is that in spite of me heading out to Japan in a few weeks time, I will be at least attempting to participate in NaNoWriMo. A double-figures duration flight will certainly help with adding to my word count, I’d wager. Naturally, it’s going to be set in my usual universe, and is actually going to be the first full draft of the sequel to Hikari.

The working title is Kagami (or ‘Mirror’) and follows a talented spy in an agency where she is the only person with no magical abilities whatsoever. It’s meant to be a little tense, a little funny and a good introduction to the magical systems of my little universe. I don’t want to write too much yet, because no doubt I would end up spoiling something, but I have plenty of ideas down and it should be fun to write.

I’ve also been overhauling some of the names and locations in my story as well, since some of them are relics of my original NaNoWriMo project, Industrial Espionage, which while still being based in what is essentially the same universe, played fast and loose with many silly tropes while attempting to be serious at the same time. I’ll be updating the information pages on the site to reflect this change.

In other news, I’ve been making the most of my opportunities to game since I won’t be able to ship my rig across to Japan (and I’m pretty down about the fact that I won’t be able play Fallout 4, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make). My main games have been Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Tales from the Borderlands.

I’ll talk about The Phantom Pain first. I’ve long been a fan of Metal Gear, ever since playing Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation, falling in love with its deep narrative and the contrast between the explosive action and intense stealth gameplay. This final offering from Hideo Kojima has received mixed reviews from gamers, but is no doubt a beautiful game. The open-world experience leaves a lot of room for creativity, reminiscent of the survivalist gameplay of MGS3 but without the tedium of constantly keeping up a stamina gauge. It’s frustratingly difficult at some points, forcing you to reconsider your entire approach to certain missions, but incredibly satisfying when you finally break the deadlock and complete the objectives.

I also really like the openness of choice when it comes to the development screen – because of the way I play MGS, I focused heavily on assault rifles and sniper rifles, particularly down the non-lethal path but also with the generic weapons. I was amazed by the level of customization that could be done with the assault rifles in particular, being able to switch out different parts and even change the types of rounds a weapon would use to increase range and penetration at the cost of total ammunition or vice versa.

Sure, it can be very cutscene/dialogue heavy at points and the opening credits for every single mission do get a tad tedious after you’ve done about 11, but it’s a wholly satisfying game and I have greatly enjoyed it.

My overall opinion of MGSV:TPP.

As for Tales from the Borderlands, it’s my first innings with one of Telltale Games’ offerings – not having been drawn in by the allure of The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones – and I am definitely happy I chose to purchase it.

It’s an interesting format, reminiscent of the classic Japanese visual novel style but with more actions in the form of the decidedly Western ‘quick time event’. I was quickly drawn into the story of the hapless Hyperion corporate stooge Rhys and his friend Vaughn and the con-artist sisters Sasha and Fiona, showing how easy it is to relate to these characters who live in the crazy fictional universe of Pandora.

The way the story escalates in its five episodes is really interesting, and attests to the skill of the writers behind the series – especially when you consider that it has numerous options and players quite obviously have different approaches to the game as evidenced by the percentage screen at the end of each chapter. I’d really recommend it if you’re a fan of the Borderlands series or you enjoy a good (if not slightly silly) story-based game.

*Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged Paradox voice* “PWOTAGONIIIIST!”

But yeah, that’s about all I have time for in this update – don’t forget to like the post, comment the post and subscribe if you want to see more posts like this one. See ya.

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Camp Nanowrimo: The Re-returning

Good morning everyone.

It’s about that time of year again. Cabins have been assigned, story outlines are (hopefully) prepared and the pantsers have sorted themselves from the planners. It’s also the best opportunity to grasp the metaphorical bulls by its equally metaphorical horns and get some writing done.

Over the years of participating, however, I’ve found that I struggle with one particular thing: finding time to do just that, get my writing underway and really crank up the word count in the first day. As the schedule would have it, this year’s Camp Nano is in July, not August, and my current work contract ends… in August. As a radio journalist, my job involves some degree of creativity, some writing and a lot of energy.

As an introvert, dealing with so many people and utilizing my energy in a way that isn’t exactly suited to me is exceptionally exhausting. Existentially exhausting, as I have put it before. So by the time I’ve done my duties for the day and ridden a busy bus home, all I want is some downtime, some ‘me’ time. It’s frustrating really, because I know I need to write, I just can’t – or at least, I struggle more than I would writing at a reasonable hour.

Anyway, personal issues aside, let’s talk about my project: Gemini. It’s a story I’m retconning from last year’s November NaNoWriMo, which I quickly abandoned due for the aforementioned reasons. That, and because I’d only planned half of the book, that’s as far as I got because I didn’t have time to plan out the second half. The protagonist is the same, and the premise of the book is relatively similar, but my recent interests have slightly skewed the plot.

I’m going for a sort of heist story put in a science-fiction universe, which it was to some degree before. However, this time, it’s a lot more action-packed; I focused too heavily on character relationships before, which while they are my usual forte, almost drowned the plot when I was writing The Legion of Truth. So, instead, I’m trying to maintain a balance between demonstrating who the characters are and how they relate, while keeping the story flowing towards the planned conclusion.

As always, I’m going to keep you updated about all the progress (or lack thereof) I’m making with Gemini and fingers crossed, it’ll go much better this time!

Hikari’s Coma: Another Update

Hello friends,

I’m back, once again with another set of updates about my Hikari’s Coma project. Firstly, I am thinking of renaming the story to merely ‘Hikari’ – over time, it has increasingly felt like a more appropriate, more serious title which fits better with the overall theme of the story. I have a few other ideas for titles, but ‘Hikari’ just seems like the most suitable for now.

Additionally, I have lengthened the story into two significant parts, with a prologue and an epilogue. The second part isn’t finished and I’m going to rework the epilogue, but I have a solid plan about what I’m doing and where I’m taking the narrative.

I’m also toying with the idea about submitting the story to an LGBT publisher rather than self-publishing. The reason I’m toying with it, rather than having actually decided on it, is primarily because the relationship between Sarina and Hikari, while adorable and lovely, is incidental. It’s a science-fiction novel about giant robots set in a dystopian alternate universe and it just so happens that the main character and her love interest are both women. That was my intention from the start, and I’m undecided as to whether increasing emphasis on their relationship would be to everyone’s benefit, both mine and yours. We’ll see I suppose.

On a personal level, I have some rather exciting news. Call it research, a vacation, a dream-come-true, what have you, but I am going to Tokyo, Japan in September! I have managed to – at great expense to my wallet and my mental health – acquire a short trip of just over a week to the world’s only megacity, and I couldn’t be more excited. And I’m really not the excitable type! During my trip out there, I am planning to produce a daily blog on here, with photos and stories and so on, which I hope you’ll all enjoy. If you’re in and around Tokyo, I’ll be staying in the Asakusa area between the 24th of September and the 2nd of October, so please get in touch if you would like to meet up!

I’m also planning on taking some time off in the coming weeks, as I have a lot of vacation time left to take at my current job that I have to take before August, so I should be able to make some good progress with my writing. I’m also going to be posting a review of an amateur science fiction novel by the name of Ntshona soon, so please do check it out when that happens!

For fans of Night God Bless, I am still working on the new chapter and it should be available soon. After the cliffhanger of the last chapter, I’ve been trying to find my way back into the flow of things and I think I’ve found it, so I shall let you know once it’s out!

Hikari’s Coma: Artwork!

Hey there guys,

I just thought I’d post this short update to let you know that over the holiday period, I commissioned some artwork of the two main characters from my upcoming (yes, it’s that dreaded word again) novel, Hikari’s Coma. They were created by Jodie Wynne who turned them out in an exceptionally short space of time.

And here they are! What do you think?

I’m really happy with how they turned out. I have known Jodie quite a while, and her work is always second to none. She regularly does commissions via DeviantArt, so if you’d like your characters to have this kind of treatment, keep watching her at http://jowyn.deviantart.com/.

Night God Bless: Update

Hello everyone and happy holidays.

I just thought I’d drop an update for you to let you know that Night God Bless: Tales from the 2nd Arlandrian Civil War should resume a regular updating schedule come the New Year. I can’t give you anything more specific than that, but the updates should, in theory, be over the weekend, as its the only time I really have any free time.

I’ll also be writing a few more personal blogs, about me, my writing and certain aspects of my life. While I know that some people who follow me are friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I also know that others know absolutely nothing about me other than that I am a writer of science-fiction. I think having regular blogs about me will help you get to know me better. I’ll also be adding a generic ‘about the author’ page, which will serve as a relatively straightforward fact page.

Thank you once again for keeping up with me, it’s made this year a very satisfying one. So, I hope you’ve had a smashing holiday season and if I don’t write before, have a very happy new year.

Hikari’s Coma: Update

Hello everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been around lately, ’tis the season after all and my free time seems to have been taken up by looking for Christmas gifts, staring woefully at my bank balance and searching for engineering apprenticeships. The last one isn’t that seasonal, I know, that’s more just something I’ve been doing.

I have reached that point in a writer’s life where I have the awkward and slightly nerve-wracking task of allowing my first draft into the hands of a few especially selected people. I have already handed one to my fellow writer and friend, Matthew A Robinson, who also writes science fiction. There are a few other people I have in mind as well.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because it means that I will soon be publishing my first eBook, Hikari’s Coma. I’m hoping to have it done some time by January (a little later than I had hoped, but the pays-the-bills job gets in the way of this one quite frequently), and hopefully you will have a few pennies left over from the sales to throw into my weathered writerly cap in exchange for a rollicking science fiction romp which features as an introduction into my little universe.

I’m also hoping to use the holiday period to write a few more chapters of Night God Bless for your enjoyment, as a few fans have got in touch to say they’re wanting more!

Anyway, that’s all I have for now – I hope you are all enjoying the winter (or the summer if you’re in the Southern hemisphere) and are wrapped up warm (if necessary). Take care!

On giving up NaNoWriMo – and finishing something else instead!

Hey guys.

You may remember from my last post that I said I was not even going to attempt to finish NaNoWriMo, and I stand by that point. I’m really glad I could make a start on Kelly Kaptur’s personal story, but the problem with introducing a character in a prior, unfinished project is that you don’t know where they’re really going to end up.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Kaptur was obviously going to survive through her introduction in Hikari’s Coma by the fact I even started writing The Legion of Truth. I just had to know what happened to everyone else, what caused the changes in her personality, what made her tick. For that reason, I finished up my second draft of Hikari’s Coma this weekend. Although it’s more of a first-and-a-half draft – I couldn’t help editing while I was writing, so the first half is pretty much spot on, whereas the latter half is in that bits and pieces, could be way better stage.

And I’m happy about it. I really am! It’s not the same kind of happiness as when I finished my first draft of the second version of Industrial Espionage (complicated, much?) – that was more relief than happiness. This is more a sensation of contentment, that I’ve finally put that chapter of this saga to bed. Obviously, I can’t go into massive detail without spoilers, but the last few chapters were tough. The first ending I wrote was stupid.

This_is_stupid_Large
Me, realising the first ending was stupid. (No, just kidding this is John from Homestuck, I don’t look that classy.)

It just didn’t have the emotional impact I wanted, nor the resolution I was hoping for. The story just seemed to peter out into a relatively depressing conclusion, much like the ending of a terrible television series, the kind that leaves you sat in the living room going, ‘well, I just wasted all my evenings for the past 8 weeks for this crap’.

Also, it didn’t involve a giant robot, and seeing as this is a book about a girl who builds a giant robot, I thought that was pretty disingenuous of me. Geez, I’m an asshole. Why did I even think that was a good idea?

Self-deprecation aside, I am really pleased with how it’s turned out. My next plan is to finish editing it and get it out there: a short first read for those who have stuck by me. I’ve sketched out a design for the front cover, and I’m going to attempt to colour it digitally on Thursday when I have my day off (I am looking forward to it so much!). I’ll drop an image of my new cover about the internets when I’ve done with it. Hope you like it!

NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 23

So, it’s been ages since I last checked in!

You have my sincerest apologies for that. I suppose my main reason for this, other than being incredibly busy of late, is that I have decided that I am not going to attempt to reach the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo this year. Why? Because I don’t want writing The Legion of Truth to feel like a chore. I began writing it because I really enjoyed the character of Kelly Kaptur and her comrades, the way they counter one another in one way and complement each other in another. The reason I’ve stopped, or slowed to a snail’s pace is because the latter half of the story wasn’t planned out, and I need time to do that.

Time, it must be said, is not something NaNoWriMo lends a writer. Because of that, I have neglected to work on my almost-finished Camp NaNoWriMo project, Hikari’s Coma, and am still stuck in a rut with 2011’s NaNoWriMo project, Industrial Espionage. So, in the spirit of being clever and stuff, I have come up with a plan for the next few months… providing I don’t get any major news, of course.

Step one, is to finish Hikari’s Coma and get it out there! With a heavily edited storyline, which is freer of continuity errors than most Hollywood blockbusters, I only have to finish the last few chapters and get a cover prepared. That way, I can really start promoting my writing because hey, you can actually buy one of my books at that point.

Step two, possibly in parallel with step one, is to plan out the latter half of The Legion of Truth. And possibly think of a less crappy title, because the more I write it, the less I like it. There have been a few ideas I’ve come up with as of late, and I might even set it to a poll or something, although Facebook’s stupid page algorithm might ruin this idea quite horribly. I’ll see if I can get around it.

Step three, is to get a solid chapter-by-chapter plan for Industrial Espionage. With a word count of over 100,000 words for my last draft of it, it’s going to be a major project to overhaul that amount of story, as well as to keep track of its nuances and side-stories. Unlike Hikari and Kelly’s stories, Industrial Espionage follows a considerable number of characters, rather than sticking to a single point of view, which makes it even harder to keep track of things. There are all those questions; did so-and-so tell so-and-so this? Did I allude to this major historical event? Did I really write that or was I imagining it?

That’s my little plan so far. All this being said though, I do hope that you who are doing NaNoWriMo are having an excellent time of it, and that your characters are lively and inventive, and your plot thick and rich like so much delicious Sunday roast gravy. I also hope that you do manage to reach the 50,000 words, it is a wonderful achievement and you have every right to feel proud of yourself for reaching it, especially if you are working around other time constraints, such as employment, childcare, illness and things like that.

And whether or not you’re involved with NaNoWriMo, thank you very much for reading.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 4

Hey again, I guess I didn’t really do a great job of keeping up with the daily blogging. In my defense, I did have a very busy weekend (job interview in London on Saturday and working 9 hours on Sunday), so… deal with it. In the nicest possible way, of course.

I think my main character may be seeping into my personality. As a polite individual, I feel this is probably not the best thing ever.

Anyway, the book is into its fourth chapter and I am currently just short of 8,000 words, which puts me well ahead of the daily amount. At present, my ‘words a day to finish on time’ is 1,557 instead of 1,667 and if I carry on at this rate, I’ll be done by November 26th (which if I can do that I will be a very happy human being).

I am trying not to be discouraged by only slightly topping the word count each day. It’s a little intimidating to see that some people have literally finished their entire NaNo only 3 or 4 days in. But I remind myself that I am only human, caffeine seems to have little or no effect on me, and I have to work a 6 hour day with 1 hour of travel either way. I also seem to have lost my rather helpful teenage ability to live on 3 hours’ sleep.

I hope everyone else who is participating is doing well and most of all enjoying it, regardless of their word counts or whether they think they’ll finish on time or not. At the end of the day, you’re writing, and that’s the first step.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Day 1

Well, National Novel Writing Month is off to a flying start, it seems! The forums and Facebook group are populated with chatter, the word counts are rising and novels are being written in various genres.

I’m already onto the second chapter of The Legion of Truth, with a word count of 3085 and a swear count of 15. For now. It is, as I had expected, wonderfully liberating to write a character who doesn’t mince her words. I had a brief taster of that when I wrote her into Hikari’s Coma, but this is even better. She’s intelligent, and she knows her technology, but she isn’t afraid to show she’s pissed off when she actually is. I’m not sure about other writers, but I can always use a character like that.

Then, you’ve got the character who goes by the name of Garnet, a woman who is well-spoken, all about the mission. She wasn’t intended to operate as a foil against my protagonist, Kelly Kaptur, but they do have an air of that about them. I’m still setting the scene at the moment, but things have already been drenched in a concoction of guns and adrenaline, and we’re not even into the ‘meat’ of the story as it were. Or main course, if you’d prefer a more vegetarian-friendly term.

That’s just my little update for today, hopefully I’ll have more to tell you tomorrow as long as my job interview doesn’t entirely exhaust me in terms of anxiety! I’m sure I’ll be fine, nonetheless, but wish me luck on both fronts!