New Look for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’…
Finishing up on the last in my latest run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, I have taken a break from writing to rethink the covers for the series. For anyone who has stuck around long enough, you will have seen the covers change four or five times. Starting from the ugly to the acceptable. I will admit, I was daunted at having to get another 11 covers done. While I can have my insecurities about writing, I know one thing with a certainty–I am not an artist. And, after doing 2 or 3 new ‘art’ elements for the covers I decided that my stories deserve better than what I can produce with pen and paper. So, for each individual story I have opted for photo elements, and I am dropping individual art elements for each story–only the number and title of the story will change. The collections will remain as the leather look with just a few tweaks as I do like that classic style.
I spent hours trawling shutterstock for images. People who tag these images have a very loose interpretation of Victorian. Regency isn’t Victorian. Images ranged from original period, to Gothic romance cover, to cyberpunk, to… well, ‘sexy’ Victorian… There has always been one image I have fancied as Darkwood, and ended up just going for that one in the end. What I have always liked about is that her hat hides much of her face, so the reader can keep her looking just how they think she looks. That set me the task of finding a male with a similar hat over face style. I ended up having to do a bit of cutting and pasting for Hobbs, and both had to be recoloured, but I was pleased with how they turned out. I wanted some kind of detailed background, and trawling images of Victorian London and fog, I ended up just lifting a smoky element I use in my banner. That was handy. So… here is what the standard cover will look like:
An Origin Story
With my current project, I’ve made it to the end of the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’. And it’s a short story, so shouldn’t take too long. The only difference this time is the importance of the story. One of the central mysteries of The Darkwood Mysteries is what Darkwood’s mother and father did with the guide-stone they left her as inheritance, and this story will explore the beginning of the Darkwood relationship with the stone. Peeling back the curtain on a central mystery is daunting. An info dump is not satisfying, but with my trying to keep each story in the series as standalone as possible and through their not really being in chronological order it’s equally difficult to sprinkle in clues and red-herrings which build to a climactic reveal. So, I have set upon having one or two stories per run deconstructing the central mystery.
I’m entering the last writing sessions for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (16): The Rise of the Dragon’. It’s all been going smoothly. The joys of being a plotter! I have each character figured out, and each chapter planned out, and pretty much each week I manage to get through a chapter in a writing session.
The writing regime of a minimum of 3000 words a week is pretty easy to hit. I get up at 6:00, and I’m normally at the keyboard by 06:30, and I’m often at the 2000 word stage by 08:00. Some of my writing time is revisiting the last section from the week before and tweaking it for anything stand-out bad. I tend to be done by about 11:30 and then it’s lunch and whatever I want to do for the rest of the day.
Thanks to my husband cooking up a super-virus and then giving it me just when I was boasting a year of good health, I haven’t been in the greatest frame of mind for writing this past few weeks. Thankfully that target of 3000 words minimum a week seems pretty easy to achieve within a lazy morning, so despite being ill I managed to hit my weekly targets. ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Rise of the Dragon’ has now reached 40,000 words and I’m a little over half way through, so this is already in novella territory.
Making a Villain
I’m enjoying writing the return of my my reocurring villain, the Mandarin–now in his third plot. I’m finding he is a shadowy threat. Being a master of disguise and mesmerism, he is present even if not apparent, as he can be other people or influencing other people from afar. It makes him quite a palpable and formidable threat, but a game player. He’s not one to sweep the board clear, but to play the board to keep himself safe, and his plans moving.
This is only my second writing related blog post of 2019. And it’s April. I know, I know. Seems like I’m slacking, but anyone following me on social media will know that I have been a busy manboy. So far this year the first draft of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Book of Lies’ has been knocked out, and I have been busy plotting out ‘The Darkwood Mysteries: The Rise of the Dragon’. I have now made a good start on ‘Rise’ and am about 10,000 words in. Not too shabby. That will leave one more Darkwood Mystery to write and I will then have twenty titles in the series. Woohoo!
It’s not all been actual writing either. I have been rethinking my blog and have cleared out pretty much all my non-writing posts, clearing up tags and categories, and going forward I am going to commit to two blog posts a month. One post near the beginning of the month and on writing, where I will be blogging about projects, plans, and sneak peeks (like this one–please note the funky new image); and another post part way through the month on what I’m enjoying, what I’m doing and inspiration (wait until you see the image for that one–it’s funky-adorable). I hope this will give my blog a bit more of an identity, and with only two types of post, you will know what to expect and what you want to follow. If either of them!
Why the change?
The first draft of ‘The Rat King’ is done. It needs some work, and will definitely need a polish, but I’m happy with the result. It has a real ‘X-Files’ monster of the week vibe to me, and writing the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, it was nice to write something where I didn’t have to think too hard on its place in the Darkwood world–which has been an added trial in writing those next tales. The experience of writing this Victorian period story was sharpened by reading the fantastic book ‘Voices from Dickens’ London’ by Michael Paterson. I picked it up from a bargain book shop ages ago, and realised the other day I hadn’t read it. It’s not quite the setting for Darkwood and Hobbs as it’s largely early to mid Victorian, whereas my stories are late Victorian, but it uses writing from the time to paint a picture of Victorian London–and not the sanitised Christmas card Victorian London either, very much a warts and all Victorian London, which I love.
The blurb tease for ‘The Rat King’ is:
“Death by rat? Darkwood suspects foul play in the death of charity members. But can rats really be the cause? And if they are, who, or what, is driving them–and why?“
I have had a pop at doing the cover–and it looks awful, so I’m not sharing that here just yet. It needs work. It actually needs me to be an artist, or to have a budget for paying for a professional cover artist. Neither of those are likely to happen, so I will have to see what I come up with and hope people truly don’t judge a book by its cover.
As for the writing though, if you want a sneak peak of the beginning of the first draft, then read on…