Back at the laptop writing feels good! Jumping into a work in progress was a helpful way to get a feel for writing again, but it’s also been a testing experience. It’s been over a year since I last worked on ‘The Disaster Man’ for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and what I want to do with this tale has changed since. It’s actually the second ever Darkwood mystery I wrote after ‘The Thief of Faces’, and was a complete and finished tale. I wrote it as a submission for the Horror Addicts podcast’s anthology book ‘Horrible Disasters’, which was rejected over my other story submission, ‘London Peculiar: The Secret of the Fog’, so it was very short and streamlined. I always felt it to be a little rushed, and having it for myself gives me the luxury of letting the events within it breathe and to expand on the story.
Being a tale about a man cursed with disaster which puts London–his latest destination–at risk, the scale of the danger is pretty epic for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, and deserves to be a longer story than it once was. It also lends itself nicely to being a finale for the next run of stories. I’ve planted some seeds in the next set of tales which will develop the characters of Darkwood and Hobbs and their world. I’m conscious that while I love having a couple of heroes to play with, I want a sense of realism thrown in there too.
Darkwood is clever, and Hobbs both tend to sweep in and solve the mystery and move on, with similar beats throughout–Darkwood is clever and usually one step ahead, Hobbs is loyal and a little submissive, Darkwood studying to be a doctor, having support and backup in her investigations through Scotland Yard, Darkwood is rich and has her station which gives her some sway, always with Darkwood leading and Hobbs following. I didn’t want this series to become predictable and stale, so while the tales will always be about fighting supernatural and criminal evils, and generally being victorious, I really wanted there to be consequences to this life. I introduced an element of that with ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (8): The Spindly-Snatcher’, with some details of the future of Darkwood and Hobbs very much a short cut to that end, but with my new stories I wanted a few tales where they get a wake-up call around what they are doing.
May saw me return to writing after a very long break. I have started writing a series of blog posts to support my self-help book ‘Get Over It’, which I’m enjoying. On the fiction front, I decided to return to ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ as it’s a comfortable place to be.
I have been reading ‘City of Sin’ by Catherine Arnold–a nice bit of history around London’s relationship with sex over the centuries, and ‘Sins of the City of the Plain’ by ‘Jack Saul’ (probably not actually by him), which is a contemporaneous account of the notorious rent boy, Jack Saul’s experiences. Essentially Victorian gay smut. So, some titillating reading.
No, Darkwood and Hobbs are not suddenly going to have a series of sexcapades (disappointingly for them), but sex is a big part of all our lives, and it’s often when we’re at our most honest, and reading about what the Victorians got up to behind closed doors is sometimes much more informative than the dry accounts reported in newspapers and diaries, especially socially and use of language. While some of the sexy talk seems a little juvenile by today’s sexy talk, a time-travelling sexplorer would be able to have just as much fun in 1800s London. A fun return to research! But, on the actual writing side of it all I decided against a blank page…
It’s been a couple of years since I have done any serious writing. That disappoints me so much. However, studies are over with and I have my life back. That study and work period reinforced that time is precious, and so I headed back into writing wanting to streamline what writing involves for me. That is cutting down the amount of writing related work that isn’t actually writing. April saw the website get a little spruce up, courtesy of my other half. ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ is no longer a separate website, but a page on my author site, and soon I will stop using the social media accounts for this series and my self-help title ‘Get Over It’. That way I can just focus on one social media account as me, sharing whatever I find interesting, from writing, weirdness through to geek, to Victorian history and to self-help. Eclectic as I am. One of the last tasks before I get back down to writing was to reformat ‘Get Over It’… Formatting. What fun. I have learnt that images can be resized in a few ways, which, if you’re a novice self-publisher like me, you might find useful to know.
March has been another month of non-writing writing stuff. I have rewritten the synopsis for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, and the character profiles for the two main characters, Darkwood and Hobbs. It’s amazing how much I love writing, but HATE writing synopses and summaries like that. This is for the upcoming condensing of all my work under one website and social media under my name instead of my titles. The new covers for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ are now uploaded to Kindle and Smashwords. With those done, I turned to my self-help title ‘Get Over It’. I’ve slightly tweaked the title, and decided to have a bit more fun with the cover. It was quite plain before, and while it’s a bit busy now, it’s more colourful and playful, which I like. Go on, I know you want to have a look. Check it out and see what you think…
February has all been about photoshop. So, after some drawings, downloads, and lots and lots of mouse clicks and drags, I have tweaked and changed all the covers for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ and created a new logo. Being the perfectionist I am, I’m not a 100% happy with them, but I think they are an improvement on the previous covers. I like the boldness and the simplicity of the new look. I think they read better, but I’m not sure the silver leaf effect works well on the images at the centre of each cover if there’s too much detail in them. Especially so as a thumbnail–although I guess there aren’t too many covers which do actually work at thumbnail size.
The first month of 2017 is gone already. Free from studying, I’ve been a little slower at getting back to the writing desk than I expected myself to be. I’m taking time to look after my inner child after a year of neglect. I have a lot of making up to do to the poor guy. So, there has been lots of flumping into my bean bag, drinking tea, eating, and watching ‘He-Man’. That’s been a bit of a rediscovery for me. I love that show. Sometimes, when things have been complicated, it can feel good to go simple. You can’t get much simpler than cartoons. Well, maybe not anime… And there has been lots of fun and games with the husband. Board games that is, you filthy people. Because, I’ve felt that I’ve been neglecting him too. He thought me being on another planet with writing was bad, then I pitched myself into studying and he probably found I was even less present. But, I’m back now, in life, into my interests, and I’m back at the writing desk too…