This year I’ve enjoyed the solitude of my study, reading, writing and generally continuing as I have since retiring thirty months ago. Two holidays have been cancelled and a considerable number of one-day ‘shopping’ trips to other towns. I cycle early in the morning and work at my chosen creative craft every day.
In January I published Light at The End: Surviving the Apocalypse. It may not have as many reviews as I’d like but those it has received have been good and gave me the confidence to write a sequel. Light to Dark went through several drafts prior to going out to beta readers. It has since been printed and attacked again with my red pen so the manuscript is now resting before a final read.
If the international crisis has affected me in any way it has increased my productivity. A lack of holidays and away-days has provided me with many extra hours of writing time. Shopping trips are done when a necessity only and are local. I sit in the car maintaining social distance, with my clipboard and pen so I can continue writing.
In March I created the eBook Bank International website with the objective of making eBooks more affordable during the Covid 19 crisis. I set a closing date of 1st July and with the support of 17 other authors, the site carried 135 titles at one time. It was a site to offer books at a lower price, but I’m happy to say it stimulated sales for more than one author.
I’ve continued to work on Time after Time: and other stories which is almost ready for publication. I have again invited guest authors to submit stories. This is not a money-making venture but will provide a platform for authors. There are 18 stories covering a variety of genre, but all on the theme of ‘Time’. Good value at 99p/99c.
In the background when stories are ‘resting’ between drafts, I’ve indulged my pseudonym by building on ideas which have been simmering in the background over a few years. Most of Katya Cumming’s stories originated as short stories or passages which didn’t work in other books.
This year so far, Katya has produced a two-part novel, an anthology of short stories and a novel. After three more novels she will stop. This will meet her target of a dirty dozen novels and an anthology. She has her own website at Katya Cumming – Erotica.
Apart from reading purely for pleasure, I’ve also been a beta reader for several authors so far this year. For me, beta reading is not a task, especially if I like the author’s work, it makes me feel that I’ve been instrumental in some small way helping to raise their game with a story. Isn’t that one of our responsibilities as indie authors?
Light at The End, as I’ve said before, was an experiment. If it had been ridiculed by my beta readers I’d have shelved or abandoned writing a post-apocalyptic story. It’s also important to me that I enjoy telling the story because in my opinion, an author can generate enthusiasm in the telling.
I wrote a post some time ago regarding my first attempt at a trilogy and I’ll quote a snippet:
‘Originality is relatively easy when an author is working on a single title. When the title/premise goes to a second, third or more, the idea must be examined closely to see how far it can be taken without repetition.
Certain sub-genres can run for several books and if the author is careful and inventive the fictional world will remain exciting to the reader. This must be paramount in the mindset of the creator of the work. Reader satisfaction is everything.’
Now, here I am on that same road once again. I am close to completion of Light to Dark which will be the sequel to Light at The End. A few days ago while out walking in local woodland I was struck by inspiration, and no, it didn’t hurt. When I got home I made notes for the final chapter if the story were a trilogy.
No, you didn’t read that wrong. I was thinking about how to end Book 2 and I imagined how things could go after that point … and so was born the early ideas for Dark to Light … Book 3 in the Light at The End trilogy.
I aim to have Book 2 ready for beta readers in August.
For me, from the outset, the tale has been a departure from most other stories I’ve written but the genre offers so many possibilities. I’ve been finding that however things might be going for the characters there must be a sense of hope … that things can’t just end because of the ill-considered actions of a few.
After all, don’t we all need to believe that there is to be a tomorrow?
Inspiration comes to authors in many ways and from countless sources. It may be that phrase overheard while out shopping, how another driver has misbehaved, or a special location on holiday. For most people, a walk, run, cycle, drive or any other outing is simply a means of getting from Point A to Point B.
To a writer, each trip holds golden opportunities.
I’ve written poetry and short stories which feature the Scottish Highlands and the region makes an appearance in several of my novels. Indeed, most of my erotica series, Highland Games is based there in a remote glen.
Light at The End had been a story idea for a few months but I needed more than what I’d conjured up in my imagination. I didn’t want an entirely fictional tale, I wanted to include something substantial from the real world … a piece of reality which could not be denied.
Perhaps it’s not so surprising that when I eventually went on a tour of Cruachan Hydro-Electric Power Station my imagination went into hyperdrive. The installation is colloquially known as The Hollow Mountain because the entire enterprise is inside a mountain. The only visual indication that the place is established is the dam between two lochs.
I’d considered a story in which the ‘Hollow Mountain’ was a feature but my visit became absorbing research. I went on the tour inside the mountain which for me meant photographs, notes, sketches and a host of questions for three of the members of staff.
My new story, at last, had a foundation and my characters evolved. Over the past few months, it has become my top-selling title. It may not have many reviews but I blame that on rules regarding reviewer eligibility.
From the feedback I’ve had in comments, emails and the handful of reviews the book has received, I’ve been emboldened to get working on a sequel.
Light to Dark will take over where Light at The End left off and we shall see just how my survivors have fared in their brave new world; inside a mountain.
Unlike the first book, the research for the sequel has been conducted over many years. I’ve walked, climbed, canoed, abseiled, camped and enjoyed being reminded of man’s insignificance amidst mountains, rivers and forests which existed before us and will outlive us.
My aim is to show how the apocalypse survivors sense the need to move forward and the difficulties they encounter on their new adventures to save mankind from extinction.
This is my first attempt at depicting a post-apocalyptic scenario. Almost every day in the media we learn of conflict in various regions around the globe … or ‘across the board’ for the Flat Earth Society. 😀
As ‘nations’ argue with each other publicly and their leaders make veiled threats via international media and occasionally on social media, many people cast it all aside as hot air. All around we hear cries of ‘We’ve heard it all before’, but what if on one fateful day it all goes wrong and some of the threats fall on the wrong ears?
The blurb follows below with the cover image. If you’d like to see how things get underway there is an Amazon link below. The first chapter is available under the book title in my Novels section of the main menu.
Bill Kane’s long military career had recently ended so he relaxed by joining a three-day sightseeing tour in the Scottish Highlands. At last, the ex-Serviceman would be able to leave stress and decision-making to somebody else, or would he?
While the squabbling of world leaders intensified on international media, Bill, like others, shrugged it off as sabre-rattling, but the sabres in question were nuclear missiles. An unthinkable situation developed rapidly. A missile was launched, and retaliation became a chain reaction.
On a mountain road in Scotland, Paul Harrington a young coach driver listened to the news in disbelief. When his passengers returned down the hill from the latest viewpoint it would be Paul’s responsibility to get them to safety, but to where?
No town was within easy reach, but he remembered a disused railway tunnel not far away. Could he get them there in time, and how would they survive?
Welcome to my world in this new writing year. Due to the methodology of creative writing, it is a craft in which the product disregards the passing from one year to the next. Of course, authors, like many other people like to feel they are making progress, so we recognise the new year even if our work doesn’t.
Work in Progress (WIP) I am bringing forward this year?
Light at The End. This is my first attempt at a post-apocalyptic novel. The seventh draft is now as much history as the missiles which are mentioned early in the story. I’ve had alpha and beta readers check out the tale. I aim to publish on Saturday 11th January 2020.
OMG, that’s next weekend.
Czech Mate. This story features a young art dealer from Edinburgh who follows up a mysterious and cryptic message left in his father’s will. As the title suggests, Bryce, our hero finds himself in the Czech Republic and then things get complicated. This story has been put on hold over the past year for a variety of reasons but I’m aiming for publication in 2020.
Codename: Foxglove. This is a sequel to Codename: Nightshade. In the ‘Nightshade’ story, Rachel Donoghue continues the work she was trained for by Phil and Annabel in the Beyond the Law trilogy.
Dominique McEwan, a young woman with a keen sense of justice is recruited and assessed by Rachel Donoghue (Deadly Nightshade). The pair vow to work together and build a new team of vigilante operatives. How rapidly this story develops will depend on how many other projects in which I become involved.
Around the Bend is my next anthology of mixed-genre short stories. This collection opens with a fact-based tale of a road accident. I witnessed the incident and was then involved in the rescue of one of the vehicle drivers. The other stories in this anthology include covert operations, romance, horror, comeuppance, police detectives and more.
At the time of producing this post, I have no immediate plans to publish more erotica in my own name. I already have two more erotica titles underway but they will be under the Katya Cumming banner. ‘Katya’ has six titles available and all are doing well, although reviews are scarce as we all know. My intention is for her to cease producing work when ten titles are achieved.
My first target with Katya was to use the pseudonym as an experiment, which produced positive results, and the secondary aim is to reach ten titles. Six are published, two more are WIP and I have two more sketched out as basic ideas.
What else is on the cards for me this year?
I’d like to publish another invitation anthology in 2020. As I did with The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories I will produce at least six tales and add work from other authors. My aim is to create an anthology of twelve original stories plus three or more bonus tales of a similar theme. Like the main collection, the bonus stories will come from my guest authors and me, but they will be stories which are previously published. The idea may or may not work, but my choice of theme is ‘Time’, hence the title, Time after Time. If you’re interested, please use the highlighted title or click on the book cover to go to the WIP page.
I will be reading for pleasure, and beta reading throughout the year as normal which takes a lot of my time, but while I’m helping a fellow author of whatever level, you won’t find me complaining. I will be continuing to mentor my good friend, fellow author and poet Carmen Lopez.
Two anthologies of short stories have put Carmen on the global stage, and this year gets underway with the recent publication of her first novel, Beware The Fury. (US link)
I’ve published short stories in a wide variety of genres, but before tackling a novel I think ‘long and hard’, which I suppose is a reasonable euphemism for writing a novel.
Many authors who write sci-fi, dystopian or apocalyptic naturally populate their world with those creatures with whom we are most well-acquainted—humans. If not human, the characters are invariably a variation of the model. The unbelievable can be found in any genre but, in sci-fi, dystopian and apocalyptic stories, we as readers must more readily ‘accept’ the author’s word—it has to be convincing.
Apart from reading pretty much anything I also write in a broad spectrum. Although my sci-fi short stories have been well-received, for a long time I’ve wanted to write a novel with a sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic flavour. I was afraid of being drawn into a world of unpronounceable equipments, scientific jargon, strange weaponry, beams, time warps and goodness knows what else.
Two writing theories came to mind. ‘Write what you know’ and ‘ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances’. Now, here were two things I could work with in my new venture.
During my morning cycle rides when my surroundings permit, I let my thoughts wander and over many weeks I dreamt up a situation which involved ‘ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances’. If I’m writing ‘what I know’ then that as always will be down to memory, experience, knowledge and research.
My sci-fi/dystopian/apocalyptic novel has the working title ‘Light at the End’. Like most of my titles, this one carries more than one meaning.
For the benefit of new writers or those who are interested in such things as how an author’s mind works when a new idea is bubbling under the surface, I used my favourite method for building the basics before writing any of the story. It’s a one-man brainstorming session.
– On a regular A4 sheet of paper, I drew a bubble and wrote the title inside.
– From this first point, I drew a line with a bubble on the end and wrote ‘tunnel’.
– From ‘tunnel’ I added several other threads with bubbles on the end—some of these immediately gaining their own extension.
– Back at the central bubble I extended more threads and added topics like ‘nuclear strike’, ‘tourists’, inhabitants’ and so on. Inside about thirty minutes I had thirty extensions from the original bubble—Light at the End.
– I spent twenty minutes listing character names and ‘other considerations’, writing as fast as possible when an idea came to mind. Speed is more beneficial than procrastination when brainstorming, otherwise it becomes braindrizzle. Characters would need names—not descriptions or ages—not yet, but male and female—yes.
I stopped the whole brainstorm session at one hour.
Forty circles with topics or sub-topics, and a list of forty ‘other considerations’.
While my thoughts were concentrated on the new story idea I had to keep pushing. Next up was another sheet of paper on which I drew a quick sketch of the tunnel and the surrounding countryside. By this stage, I was thinking of the opening scenes.
Before I stopped working I assessed progress.
A working title, a cover, a wide spread of information required, a plan of the main location, characters … and a catastrophe waiting to happen.
I performed the brainstorming session on Thursday evening and yesterday (Friday), I spent the day working on Chapter 1 – A Leap of Faith. Take a look and leave a comment if you wish. It’s a bit rough, due to being the first draft, which like the brainstorming was produced rapidly.
After much heart-searching, I’ve amended the sub-title/strapline from dystopian to apocalyptic. The two phrases are regularly and rightly associated, but I feel my tale will lean more heavily toward one than the other. Stranger than fiction really, since I’ve only written one chapter.
You’ve got to love being an author.
As always, thank you for dropping by, and for any comments or suggestions.