Obligatory New Year Post

As we bid farewell to what has been a shit show of a year it’s time to look back on the year that’s gone and look forward to the year yet to be. Simultaneously. Which makes for a sort of temporal cross-eyed squint.

My year has been fairly shitty in every respect except for my writing. It was a year of mental and physical illness for me and mine. We’re facing a worsening financial situation that is unlikely to get better over the next couple of years. The ongoing horribleness continues to be both horrible and not something I can talk about here.

But I finished a novel and some people seemed to like it and I managed to send it to Agents. Ok so none of them liked it but that’s still better than last year. I worked on a couple of older novels and wrote a new first draft. The Fife NaNoWriMo group finished in the global top 50 for average word count and was the top UK region.

I’m not going to talk about the continuing midden fire that is global politics. But I might write about my confusion about Donald Trump in a future post. I’m not going to talk about all the talented people we’ve lost this year because it’s just too sad. The world is poorer for their passing.

What worries me is that there’s no evidence that 2017 is going to be any better. Most of the things that are wrong will continue to be wrong or get worse. About the only thing I can say in its favour is that it’s one year closer to the day when theses times will be a curiosity for the history books. Always assuming that there are still books.

No resolutions for me. I don’t trust resolutions. I am renewing my commitment to get something published but that’s no resolution. I’ve started the year as I mean to go on. I tried a new craft beer, I started to crochet a baby blanket for my husband’s sister, I’ve written a blog post and I’m listening to some great music.

I’m not going to make any predictions for next year. But I will say that eventually things will get better. Even if that eventually is measured on a geological time scale.

NaNoWriMo update

I have been super busy working on a new first draft for NaNoWriMo. This year has gone pretty well. I hit the 50,000 word mark in 18 days, which is the quickest I’ve ever crossed the winning line. I kept going and hit 60k today. I’m still writing because the story isn’t done yet. If I keep going at the current rate this will probably be my highest NaNo word count.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I don’t really have a novel and that’s unlikely to change by the end of the month. What I have are a bunch of kind of connected scenes some of which probably deserve to stay in the novel. This one is going to take a lot of wrangling before I even have a coherent first draft.

But even that incoherent partial first draft is still good news because this is not the novel I thought I was writing and I think it might be a lot more interesting than the thing I was trying to write. Of course it could also be utter pants but it’s too early to tell.

And there are other bonuses to writing as part of NaNoWriMo. I got to go to some write-ins and met some people that I wouldn’t otherwise have met. They’re all lovely people and I’m glad I met them.

November blogging

As I write this November is almost upon us. That means that for 30 days I shall be working on a new novel.

I don’t know how it’s going to go. I don’t know if I’ll be able to blog. I may not have the spoons left for it while creating something new. If I do blog it will most likely be a sign that things are either going very well or very badly. My posts are likely to be short, grammatically haphazard and full of swearing. This might well continue into December due to mental fatigue.

Wish me luck.

The joys of NaNoWriMo prep.

I’m running out of time to have some sort of coherent outline for this year’s NaNo novel. The thing is mutating fast. It’s gone from being set in the present to being set in 1985 to being set in 2015, 1985 and 1785 all at once.

Characters are changing. Some of them are turning into complete arseholes. Some are developing unexpectedly tragic backstories. Some are growing spines I did not expect them to have.

The story is getting dark and developing an unexpected theme. Of course that could all disappear once I start writing the thing. It could all just dissolve into a soup of nostalgia and jokes about the terrible hairstyles of the 1980s. It could also end up getting painfully personal for me. I really did not enjoy being a teenager and that’s bound to come out.

I should also really be finishing the current draft of an entirely different novel while I still can but I’m not sure I can write an epic  3 stage fight scene and a denouement in the remaining 3 days of October.

Sometimes I hate my imagination.

As I said in a previous post I am in the process of planning this year’s NaNo Novel. I’m writing YA Horror and this poses a few problems for me. I am not currently a Young Adult. I can’t really remember being one very well and none of the teenagers I know will tell me honestly about their experience because I’m their Mum.

Another problem is that the experience of being a teenager is radically different now to how it was when I was one. The types of peril teenagers face is different now. It’s a lot harder to generate traditional horror peril in the age of smartphones. But there are new and terrible kinds of peril that are generated by smartphones and if I get them wrong it will ruin the story for actual teenagers.

Earlier today I had a sudden and terrifying idea. What if I set the story in 1985? I won’t have to worry about sexting and snapchat and whatever apps kids will be using to make each other miserable by the time the novel comes out.

There are just a couple of problems with this.Firstly, I hated the 80s when I was living through them and I’ve gone to a lot of effort to forget them. Secondly, it might be that this only seems like a good idea because everybody loves Stranger Things at the moment.

I really don’t know if this is a good idea.

The Annual October Panic Begins

In November I write a novel. Well, I write a first draft of a novel. I’ve done it every  November since 2004. It’s all because of NaNoWriMo.

If, for some reason, you don’t want to follow the link I shall explain. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual event where writers get together to write a first draft of at least 50,000 words in 30 days. There are local groups. Meeting other writers is encouraged. It’s how I met a lot of my friends. It’s a lot of fun when it’s not driving us all crazy.

All this means that it is now time for the Annual October Panic. It’s a lot easier to write a novel in a month if you have some kind of plan. So I should be using this month for outlining. But I’m also trying to finish the current draft of a novel (the sexy super-spy one). And I don’t want to get too into the new novel because then I’ll be bored of it by the end of week one. But I do want to have most of the plot sorted before I start. But if I spend too much time on it I wont finish the spy novel.

This is all pretty normal for me in October. What’s new is that this year my NaNo novel will be young adult horror. And I feel completely unprepared. I’m not sure about writing YA. It’s been a while since I was a young adult and I don’t think my experience is going to be useful. I love horror but I haven’t written straight horror before. My plot requires subtle which is not a thing I do well.

So, my loyal readers, here’s where you can help. Do any of you have any tales of real life things that scared the living daylight out of you. They don’t have to be supernatural, just creepy or scary. Do you have any unusual fears that you’re willing to share? Any family superstitions that you’ve never heard of outside your family? Any advice on writing YA? Stick it in the comments, or you could tell me via Facebook or Twitter.

New Plans.

I don’t usually do plans.  As someone once said “life is what happens while you were making other plans” and in my experience whenever I make a plan it seems to attract the attention of life to the best possible way to fuck with me.  However, that being said, sometimes you have to decide in advance what you’re going to do.


  1. I will attempt to finish the Work in Progress (the first Department novel currently called Singularity) before April
  2. In April I will do Camp NaNoWriMo
  3. Assuming I’ve finished the Work in Progress I will use Camp Nano to work on either the second Department novel or on the first in the Dune Sea series.
  4. Between now and April I will decide which thing to work on next.
  5. I will start work on an e-book of Department tales taken from the Department blog but with added new stuff.
  6. Before the end of the month I will write at least one blog post featuring an opinion.

Wish me luck.