As I've been ensconced in my writing cave for the last few weeks, doing nothing but dreaming up stories and strange tales, I thought I'd poke my head out and let you know what I'm up to, and what I've got planned for the next couple of months.
The Heart of Stone
The newest book continues to go well, with the word count now up to 85k+, so we're now getting in to the final third of the book. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself with this book. The fact it's a standalone, combined with a new, non-human protagonist means I'm getting plenty of chances to experiment and go wild with the world and character building, and to cram in as much depth as possible.
For those of you who haven't seen the sneak peeks on Facebook, or my tweets, the HoS centres around a 400 year-old golem called Task. He's a nine-foot war-machine, bought and sold from master to master for his skills. He's practically indestructible as well as unstoppable, and has seen more wars and more death than any warlord, king, queen or soldier the Realm has known.
In HoS, Task's been bought by one side of a civil war in a land call Hartlund. Task now belongs to the royalist Truehards and the Boy King, who fight against the Last Faded. Up until this point, the Faded have been winning, and it's up to Task to turn the tide, was mercilessly as possible. All Task wants is to never see another war again.
HoS is not a very magical book, which is strange for me. Whilst magic does exist in the world, it doesn't factor a lot, and is relatively unharnessed. Whereas it was integral to the stories of Farden and Merion, I'm focusing more on the characters and the world outside the scope of the main narrative. The plot depends more on emotions and desire, survival and struggle, rather than the influence of magic and magic-users on the world.
The world itself – the Realm – is integral to the story, as its landscape and history affect everybody on a daily basis. Its weather alone breeds discontent and war, and threatens to throughout the book. It's loosely based on 17th century Europe, meaning a mix of medieval weapons and pre-industrial revolution technology, like gunpowder and cannon and clockwork.
There's a bunch of new people for you to meet, which is another aspect I'm very excited about. There are more central characters in this book than in Scarlet Star, and almost as many as the Emaneska Series. As HoS is a standalone it means they've been difficult to give equal time to, but through the virtue of flashbacks and excerpts at the beginning of each chapter, there are plenty of clues and tidbits to help you along. Their storylines are constantly intertwining, becoming more entangled as the war reaches its crescendo, and all the while Task sits at their centre – slowly learning the true face of humanity and war.
In short, I reckon you're going to love it.
So, when can you devour it? I'm going for an autumn/winter launch, so not too long to wait. I do believe that as of today I've found my cover artist, which I'm very excited about. That'll be available to ogle as soon as it's finished. I'm estimating a few weeks for that.
Scarlet Star short stories
We haven't seen the last of Merion! The impetuous little sod will now feature in a range of weird western short stories that follow on, and also precede, my Scarlet Star Trilogy. I've come up with 4 so far, each around 10,000 - 20,000 words long, and I'll be writing them as soon as HoS goes into the publishing stage. If you're a fan of the Trilogy, then these stories will carry on Merion's story as well as expand on the world and all its historical twists.
The first story I'll be writing, and very soon indeed, is the story of Merion journeying to Salem, almost 200 years after the Witch Trials. Whilst paying homage to that story, I'll be exploring the aftermath of it, and making sure Merion gets thoroughly entangled.
Like the standalone, short stories aren't something I've really done before, with the exception of some Emaneska bits and pieces. The Iron Keys – a short story with Farden – has been lingering on my hard drive for over a year as it's not quite right, and I also want to wait until I go back to Emaneska in future books too. It's a bit tough, keeping to a short format, but it's nothing a bit of brutality can't solve. Stay tuned!
That's right - all the work I put in at the start of the year has come to fruition, and I'm pleased to say I'll be launching two online courses for budding authors. There'll be a course on self-publishing and one on book marketing, and both will be available in video and text format. They're both pretty comprehensive, and teach every part of my Shelf Help publishing and promotion methods.
I'll be launching the courses in July, and they'll be on Teachable and accessible by all. So, if you want to do what I do and self-publish some books, these are the courses for you!
And that's about it! Hopefully this quick update has got you rubbing hands in anticipation. It's going to be an exciting rest of the year, that's for sure. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to my writing cave and continue to beaver away. Have a great weekend.