Progress Report on Writing

Just a quick update here for those who are wondering how my various writing projects are going.

The Beach Boys book should be coming out at the end of next week. I’ve been revising it based on beta-readers’ comments, and have now fixed all the factual errors and obvious grammatical problems they’ve brought up. However, Plok has sent me a series of comments which are closer to editorial feedback than to proofreading, and some of them require me to be fairly mentally together to do what’s required, and I’ve been quite unwell recently. Once that’s done, I need to read over it one last time and create the index. This is roughly 51,000 words. (Note — most of my previous books have been around the 40,000 word mark).

My novel needs about 10,000 words of additional material writing for it, to add in a couple of subplots suggested by my beta readers and editor which will improve it no end. This mostly requires adding in new chapters rather than reworking other ones. The novel currently stands at about 60,000 words, but will be about 70,000 words by the time it’s done. This is waiting until I can get my head into the right mode for it — it takes a particular mental attitude to get the voices of the different narrators for this, but the actual new writing involved will probably only take a long weekend when I do it. This should be out at the back end of this year or early next year, but I can’t announce it until the final draft has been accepted.

The Doctor Who: Fifty Stories book should be finished in draft by the end of this month, and should be out in November. This is currently at 61,000 words, but will have grown by at least another 12,000 words, probably closer to 15,000, by the end. I’m hoping to have this for sale at Thought Bubble on November 23 and 24.

The California Dreaming book is in the research stage, but has been fully funded by the Kickstarter, so I’ll be starting to post essays from that here in a couple of months, after the third Beach Boys book is finished. I have a good idea of the structure now, and expect the finished version to be done at the end of next year. That will be the very last music book I write.

The Promethea book will hopefully be serialised here and on Mindless Ones over the next few months. We’re hoping to have that done by Thought Bubble too. The only thing written for that at the moment is the introduction.

I’ll be continuing the politics book and How To Build Your Own Time Machine here soon.

I’ve got a short story outlined which has been commissioned for an anthology coming out next year. This won’t be appearing here, but does (sort of) follow up on something I’ve written earlier. I plan to get, roughly, one short story a month done and either posted here or sold to a professional outlet.

The third and last Beach Boys book will start being serialised next week, possibly tomorrow.

I do plan, also, to get a full-length Peculiar Branch book done this year (either continuing the one I started serialising last year, or starting from scratch).

I have *many* other things I want to write, as well — some of which I’ve started here, like How We Know What We Know, Time Detective, more Doctor Watson, the Cerebus book, and so forth — but I’m not going to do anything on them until the list of books above is down to *much* less than what it is right now. I need to get projects finished faster (although the top three projects will all be finished by the end of this month, with luck).

OK… Here’s a serious question

A friend, in an email about other subjects, said in passing today “if you tried crowdfunding to support you while you’re writing, I’d put in between £50 and £100 per book.”

I’ve briefly considered Kickstarter type things in the past for my work, but decided against it. I have a fairly small audience for my writing, and most of that small audience is only interested in one or two of the four or five things I did (some people are only interested in my SF short stories, for example, while others want me to shut up about anything except music).

But given that one person has (ludicrously generously) said this, I’m now wondering if it *would* be feasible to do a kickstarter or similar for my books. The way my work’s vacation time works is you can buy extra days, and if there were enough people who’d put in those sort of sums of money (the fifty or hundred pound ones), I could buy a few weeks extra vacation from work and use that time for writing. But to do that I’d need to plan soon, because there’s only a short window of time to buy vacation time.

So… please only reply to this if you *would* want to be a patron of one of my books, and if so how much you’d think of putting in (email me if you’d not want to make this public) — and also if, for example, you’d do it for any book I wrote, or only for, say, the next Doctor Watson Investigates story or Beach Boys volume. I’m not holding anyone to anything here, I’m just trying to see if it’s feasible or not.

Frankly, I think it’s incredibly unlikely that this would happen, for a whole variety of reasons, but given that one person has already made the offer, I thought it at least worth raising the possibility.

Kinks ebook now (finally!) out!

My book on the Kinks, which has been out for a while in paperback and hardback, is now available for ereaders. The delay was due to some health problems, which are thankfully starting to abate.

It will be available from Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK) later tonight, and is already available for all non-Kindle devices from Smashwords.

Proper update soon.

Where I’ve Been, And A Favour To Ask

Some of you are wondering why I’ve not blogged for a week or so. The reason is that I have actually written the same amount of stuff I’d normally write, but just not posted it here.

I was asked about two weeks ago, by a writer whose work I enjoy, to contribute a story to a shared-world anthology s/he’s working on, involving several other writers whose company I am very proud to be in. I emailed the story off yesterday, and it’s been accepted.

I can’t tell you much about the anthology yet, because it’s not been publicly announced and I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder, but I can tell you a little about my story. It’s called Twenty Voices, it’s 5000 words long (so about as many words as I normally turn out in a week and a half here, but much more work, as it had to fit in someone else’s world – I actually wrote at least 10000 words for it…) and it consists of eighteen monologues and a dialogue. Those who’ve read my previous fiction will see several of the same themes I’ve used before recurring – rather nicely, the theme of the anthology is a perfect fit for my kind of stuff. I don’t want to give too much away, but when I tell you it features at least two Popes, two murderers and a Campaign for Fictional Rights I might whet some of your appetites.

As always when I write fiction, I was very unhappy with the end result, but the editor seemed very pleased, and Millennium’s Daddy Richard (to whom I emailed a copy to give a quick look over) was positively effusive, so the consensus seems to be it’s my best piece of fiction to date. I don’t know what the publication date is going to be, but I hope to be able to announce more details some time in the first half of next year.

This is quite a milestone for me, actually, as I’ve written stuff on commission before (for example for the High Hat and Prism) and I’ve written paying material before, but it’s the first time anyone has actually sought me out and asked me to write a story for money. It’s a nice feeling.

And now the request – as I said, the story contains eighteen monologues and a dialogue. *ONE* of those monologues is, to my mind, problematic. Without giving away too much, it portrays someone who has had gender reassignment surgery, but not for the normal reasons, and I am worried it may come across as transphobic. That’s certainly not the intent, but it might do. For various reasons, I can’t cut that monologue out of the story, but I *would* like it if any of my friends who are trans or in other ways don’t conform to normal gender binaries could have a look at it and see if there are any ways I could improve it without getting rid of the main thrust of it? (If any of you don’t want to out yourselves but also don’t have my email, just leave a comment with a fake name – all first-time commenters are screened, and I’ll see the email address…)

Normal posts resume tomorrow.

I Know A Song That’ll Get On Your Nerves…

For a while now, I’ve been complaining vociferously on Twitter about the lack of a vocalist for the National Pep, my band (such as it is) – my friend and songwriting partner Tilt Araiza has agreed to continue writing songs with me, but for some reason seems to think “I don’t want to, and anyway I’m moving thousands of miles away very soon, and am not going to travel from California to Manchester to play in a bar in front of five people” is an adequate excuse to stop singing with me.

I’ve tried working with other people to no avail, so have finally bitten the bullet and considered the possibility of singing my own stuff. This does, of course, have the slight downside that people have told me for decades that my voice sounds like a donkey being tortured to death, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.

So I’ve decided to record myself performing one of my old songs (from my old band, Stealth Munchkin) and upload an MP3 to see what people think of my vocal ‘abilities’. Please have a listen to this and tell me – truthfully – what you think of the vocals. I want to know if it’s actually worthwhile me continuing to make music without a lead vocalist.

The MP3 is very noisy – this is the first thing I’ve ever recorded by myself with this computer, and I only managed to get everything set up an hour ago, so recorded this without setting levels properly or anything like that – and the song itself is a bad one. I wrote the music when I was seventeen, and my old singer wrote the words when she was 19, and it shows (and before anyone says anything, I had heard neither Five String Serenade by Arthur Lee or My Beloved Monster by The Eels when writing this – I was actually ripping off Tell Me What You See by the Beatles). I chose it not because it’s a good song (it isn’t – it’s almost literally sixth-form poetry) but because the main vocal part is in my range but it also allows me to try different ranges in the backing vocals, and because it’s all major chords so it’s easy on the banjo (with the exception of the last chord – Ddim7 – which I fluff horribly).

Listen and let me know what you think. Proper posts resume tomorrow (my writer’s block seems to have cleared…)

Linkblogging for 22/01/09

We’re going out tonight, so I don’t have time to do a review of Superman Beyond 3D until tomorrow (suffice to say I now know what I want on my gravestone, should I die). In the meantime, some quick links:

Pillock and the Mindless ones talk about how great I am. There’s some other stuff in there, about comics and libertarianism and Fukuyama, but I think what everyone will take away from it is that basically, I’m great.

Jon Morris does a comic of one day in his life. Featuring Daleks, ducks and Aquaman.

Fred Pohl’s started blogging. Here’s the story of his recent book, a collaboration with the late Arthur C Clarke.

Oskar Morgenstern’s account of Kurt Godel’s application for US citizenship. Includes Einstein’s cruel practical jokes.

And Mark Waid talks about how to do a pitch to a comic editor, and includes the sample pitch he wrote for an Aquaman series.