Draft 2

I finished the first draft of the next Codename Omega book a while ago and I took a break to give myself some distance, so that I could come back to the story with fresh eyes. The problem is that I’m now struggling to find the inspiration to pick it up again when there are other shiny, new stories I could be writing.

This is a problem I have, because I always find the first draft the most fun part of the writing experience, as it’s the part where I’m figuring out the story and see how it all works. A second draft is an essential part of the process, but it’s more about fixing things, and I know with this book that that’s a large chunk in the middle that will need strengthening in a serious way. It will either need to be given more emotional impact or trimmed down so that the section doesn’t last as long. Or both.

I’m hoping that by publicly admitting on my blog that I need to get on with the next draft will nudge me into doing just that. After all, the book will never be finished unless I sit down and work on it, and I do want it to be finished because I had a lot of fun with a shift in perspectives in this book, compared to the rest of the series. I want to see how other people react to this change.

But I can’t publish it for readers until I’ve finished the writing process.

So this is a message to myself: get on with draft two.

Book Progress

I just wanted to give you a quick update of where I am with my writing right now. What feels like quite a while ago now, a novella of mine called A Monster’s Kindness was accepted by Less Than Three Press. I’ve just had edits back from them, so I will be spending a lot of time in the near future going through those.

I don’t have a timeline for the publication of A Monster’s Kindness. It will depend on many things, including how long I take to go through the edits and whether another round is required after this, but this book should definitely be published sometime this year. I will keep you posted as it gets nearer to the time.

The third book of the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy is finished. I’m just putting the final touches on that one before I send it to the publishers. I’m sending it to the same publisher that published the first two books in the trilogy, so I’m hopeful that it will get accepted quickly, but there’s no way to know for sure. Like any submission, I have to keep my fingers crossed. Again, I will keep you posted as I learn more.

I said in last week’s post that I’ve finished the first draft of the next Codename Omega book. I’m letting that one sit for a while. It’s actually good timing getting the edits back because it means I can focus on Monster for a bit to get some distance on Omega before going back and doing the second draft of that.

There’s something really nice about having all these projects in there different stages and seeing the progress moving towards all these new books.

Codename Omega Update

This week, I finished the first draft for the next book in the Codename Omega series. The working title of this book is Codename Blank Slate, but that may well change before it comes to publication. The story carries on from the events of Omega Rising, Traitor in the Tower, and Hidden in the Signal. It actually starts shortly before the end of Hidden in the Signal and we get to see some of the events of that book from a different perspective.

That’s actually the big difference between this book and the others in the series. The previous three books have all been from Jenny’s point of view, but in this story I switch and we get another character as the protagonist, telling the story of Jenny’s war from a different angle. I don’t want to give too much away, especially in case anyone hasn’t read the earlier books in the series, but it’s been a really fun perspective to write and we get to find out a lot more about some of the characters who have been a mystery in the earlier books. I’ve really enjoyed writing this book and I hope that comes across on the page.

I think it’s a really good sign when I finished this draft already knowing how the next book would begin.

There’s still a lot of work to do – I really need to tidy up some scenes in the middle – so it will be a while before this book becomes available, but I’m still really excited and I thought it would be good to share my progress with you.

Watch this space.

2019 Writing Goals

I tend not to set new year’s resolutions, but I do like to come up with goals for things I would like to achieve in the upcoming year. Here are my writing-related goals for 2019.

  • Finish editing Shadows of Tomorrow book three and get it accepted by the publisher.
  • Finish at least the first draft of Codename Omega book four.
  • Run another writing workshop.
  • Earn out my advance on Wolf Unleashed.
  • Successfully launch A Monster’s Kindness, which was accepted by Less Than Three Press earlier this year.

Of all of these, the Wolf Unleashed one is going to be the hardest to achieve but the point of having these goals is to push myself.

Writer’s Retreat

I have next week booked off work, which will be awesome, and I’ll be using the time as a writer’s retreat. My intention is to get some peace and quiet and really focus on writing for a few days.

I always have several projects on the go but there are three in particular I intend to focus on for this holiday:

  • finishing the second draft of the final book in the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy
  • writing the first draft fourth book in the Codename Omega series
  • getting the m/m monster romance novella ready to go out to publishers

I will probably work on all of these at some point over the week, but the question is where I should prioritise my efforts.

The first of those projects is probably the most urgent one as it’s been ages since the second book came out and the publishing process will take about a year even after I’ve finished it. One of my coworkers keeps asking when that book will be out, and since she’s still not forgiven me for killing her favourite character, I probably should finish the book at some point.

But having said that, tidying up the novella will probably be a shorter task. If I focus on that, I can probably get it done and have the book ready to go to publishers by the end of the week and it will feel great to have something definitively done out of this focus time.

But it would also be amazing if I could buckle down and get a complete first draft of Codename Blank Slate written.

I want to set myself definite goals because otherwise what will probably end up happening is that I’ll flit between all three of these and spend half the time writing fanfic instead. I will write some fanfic this week, but that’s not the point of doing this.

I’ve decided to set general writing goals as well as specific goals for each of these three projects. My goal is to spend at least half an hour a day on each of these three projects. That’s a small enough target that it doesn’t seem too daunting and over the course of the week off work, I should make decent progress on all of them, but it allows me the freedom to work longer on whatever happens to be flowing better that day.

I’m also going to set myself a word count target: 10000 words a day across everything, including fanfic and whatever other random stuff I end up writing. They won’t all necessarily be new words if I’m editing the novella which is why I think I can get away with setting the target so high. I can reevaluate after a couple of days if that seems like it’s going to be too much.

Book updates

Hidden in the Signal coverI realised recently that I hadn’t added Hidden in the Signal, the third book in the Codename Omega series to the My Books page on this blog. I’ve remedied that mistake now. The information on the third instalment of Jenny’s adventures is now up.

Hidden in the Signal continues the story of Jenny’s fight to uncover the truth of Grey’s Tower and to fight against the alien threat hiding on Earth.

Keep an eye on that page because I will soon be adding details of my upcoming book, Wolf Unleashed. I just sent the last chapter of edits back to the line editor today. I think there’s just one more round of checks before the text of the book is ready to go. We will be launching the book at this years Eastercon, Follycon, in Harragote over the Easter weekend. I will also be giving a presentation on the representation of gods in science fiction at the convention. The agenda is still being finalised so I don’t know if I will be on any panels, but I will let you know if I am.

If you’re going to be attending Follycon, come along to the book launch and say hi.

Get a free book!

omega rising coverUntil the end of October, I am offering a chance to get hold of a free copy of Omega Rising, the first book in my Codename Omega series. 100 copies of the ebook are available – but it’s first come, first served so sign up quickly.

Simply follow this link and enter your name and email address to be sent your free copy. You can also choose to sign up to my mailing list to receive publication news about future books.


Jenny Harding has no money, no qualifications and no career history. A job working security for a big tech firm seems too good to be true. Maybe it is.

She is tasked with hunting down a group of thieves who have been stealing sensitive technology. Caught up in a battle involving alien forces, Jenny has some important questions to answer:
Who are the thieves?
What’s their real purpose?
And is she on the right side?


Omega Rising is available to buy on Amazon (UK link, US link). The Codename Omega series is continued in Traitor in the Tower (UK link, US link) and Hidden in the Signal (UK link, US link).

Cover Art Reveal: Hidden in the Signal

Hidden in the Signal cover

Those who oppose Grey’s Tower tend to end up missing or dead. Jenny’s friend Matt vanished while trying to uncover the Tower’s secrets. Jenny has promised to discover what happened to him, and she must keep those she loves from facing the same fate.

Meanwhile there is another threat looming. An alien spaceship is heading for Earth. Jenny and her allies must find a way to stop it but there may be another danger nearer to hand. Someone close to Jenny is keeping secrets – secrets that might hold the key to the spaceship’s mission, to Matt’s disappearance, and to what their enemies have planned.


Hidden in the Signal is the third book in the Codename Omega series, which follows the adventures of Jenny Harding, an ordinary girl who gets caught up in conspiracies and combat involving alien technology. The first two books Omega Rising and Traitor in the Tower are available now.

The evolution of a cover

Child of the Hive coverOne question I get asked whenever I give a talk about writing is how much control I have over the cover art so I figured I’d put my answer in full here. This is one of those things that varies considerably from publisher to publisher, and from book to book. I’ve spoken to authors who’ve had no say, or almost no say, in cover designs for some books. I’ve met authors who’ve hated the covers they were presented with. I’ve been lucky. For all of my books, I’ve been given a lot of input and I’ve been delighted with most of them.

I was astonished when Child of the Hive was published how much input I was given. The publisher sent me about a dozen different designs for the potential cover – and I hated them all. I don’t want to imply that they were bad designs, but they were bad for the book. The designer who’d created them hadn’t actually read the book, he’d just been given the text to go on the back cover and a couple of paragraphs of description. The end result was some designs that would have been great on someone else’s book (there was a creepy one with a child coming out of mist that would have been great for a ghost story) but that were completely wrong for mine. Shadows of Tomorrow draft cover

We had a few emails back and forth and then I was put on a phone call with the designer and I talked about what I liked and didn’t like about the different designs, what the disconnects with the book were, and so on. He went off and came back with a different design, which I liked a lot more. I asked for a couple of minor tweaks and then was given a cover design I was thrilled with.

When Shadows of Tomorrow was published, the publisher gave me a form to fill out with my ideas for the cover. I suggested a figure silhouetted against a portal holding a sword. They sent me a couple of drafts and, once again, I wasn’t happy with either of them. The covers showed what looked like someone standing at the edge of the sea, which didn’t fit at all, but I did like the font on one of them. The designer went away and came back with the final cover. Shadows of Tomorrow cover

When Shadows of Tomorrow came out, I really liked the cover. In person, it’s really dramatic. I’ve come to the conclusion though that it doesn’t work as well as a thumbnail on Amazon. It doesn’t look as interesting as other covers. So when it came to Between Yesterdays, I wanted to go with the same general idea but with more happening visually. The design they sent me was pretty good, but I wasn’t sure about the image they’d chosen for Abby. For one thing, in the book, Abby has quite dark colouring, which isn’t obvious in this image. For another, this young woman looks dressed for a party rather than a battle.

I went back to the publisher and asked for a different Abby for the cover, and was thrilled with the final cover design they offered me. Between Yesterdays cover draft

The same sort of thing happened with the Codename Omega books. I gave ideas, they sent designs, I asked for changes. The Codename Omega books are self-published so I was given a lot of say in the design because I was effectively hiring the designers to work to my specifications. I wasn’t surprised that I was the one calling the shots with those covers, but I was surprised how much control I had with the others, especially having heard stories from some other authors about how little say they were given. I guess I’ve been lucky so far when it comes to covers.

 

Cover Cross Stitch

Omega Rising cross stitch completeI’ve been continuing my efforts to turn my book covers into embroidery patterns and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get brighter cover art – I keep running out of black thread. I have now completed my Omega Rising cover and need to get it framed up to match the Between Yesterdays cross stitch I’ve already completed.

These take a long while to sew. My sister gave me the pattern for the Omega Rising cover as a Christmas present and I finished sewing it in August. I’ve started the Child of the Hive cover now. At this rate, I might just about finish it by my birthday next year.

With the release of the Mischief Corner Books quarterly and the upcoming third book in the Codename Omega series, I’m never going to finish with this project.