February (2018) in Writing… A Sneak Peek at Chapter Two of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underworld’…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optFebruary was a good month for writing. I managed to reach the end of part 1–a third of the way through–my latest project. At 40 pages, “The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underworld”, is shaping up nicely as a novella, perhaps even a novel length by the time I have completed parts 2 and 3. My plan, which I talked about in my last post, has held up. Chapters are pretty short, which is what I wanted, and the story I have had in my head for a few years now is getting onto the page without too much effort. I’ve managed to get a few full days of writing in, starting at about 6:30 or 7 am and then working through until 5 or 6 pm (with lunch and plenty of tea in between of course!). This was always how I used to write, and I’m glad to be getting back into the swing of it. It feels much more satisfying than a morning or afternoon, and an hour or so in an evening here and there a couple of times a week.

I’m going to share chapter two with you now. And disclaimer time again–I don’t consider I have a first draft until I have finished the whole story, as I often revisit sections and chapters as I am writing to make tweaks or changes, or move things around, so these shares are very much the rough that comes from the writing desk before they’ve been studied and edited. Please forgive typos and any wonky writing that comes through. After the ‘hook’ of finding Jack Hobbs committing himself to the workhouse, chapter two reveals why he is in this situation, and sets up the inciting incident–entering the workhouse–which will propel the story forward, with Hobbs in a very different place to the usual Darkwood Mystery.

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January (2018) in Writing… Tax & ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underground’…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optMy January in writing started with a tax return. What fun. As my writing can only be considered a hobby considering my low earnings, I’m hopeful I will only have the 2017/2018 return to do before taking advantage of new tax rules allowing for a minimum of a £1000 additional earnings before the need for a separate taxation process beyond main earnings. Of course, I would like for my writing to earn me more than a £1000 and for that to by my main source of income… (I earned £320 last year, and while I know that will not pay any bills, that’s supported my board game habit, and I’m chuffed at earning anything from tapping away at my keyboard!)

January also saw me doing some writing too. With one wholly new project finished in ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (13): The Ghosts of the Black Museum’, I set about planning the next three. One of them proved to come more readily into my head than the others, so to avoid brain ache I just went with that one. The other two can get more head time to cook up into something easier to get into the keys. I opted for ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (17): The Slaves of the Underground’. It will be the penultimate of the next run in my series, but it will still pack a punch. It will see Darkwood and Hobbs separated under sad circumstances, and then reunited in desperate circumstances. The next run doesn’t let up on the bashing of Darkwood and Hobss. I’m a mean writer daddy. There will be a return of an old friend, an old enemy, a return monster, and a newly visited ancient Cthulhu style city. Read on for an extract after the jump…

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Darkwood & Hobbs Live! & Plots Within Plots… Reflecting on November and December (2017)…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optAfter a long break from writing, 2017 saw me get back on the swivel chair at the desk and take some tentative taps at the keyboard as I eased my head back into writing. I won’t lie, the enthusiasm was hard to come by. Not writers block as such, but a big dose of ‘what’s the point’. Sales have flat-lined, and I was returning to write the next run of ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’ short stories, which, when I did have regular sales, was never a strong seller. But, they were the ones I have had the most fun writing, and being short they seemed a good place to start this writing thing again. I was kind to myself and finished a project first, but then came the blank page under the opening of the next project, ‘The Darkwood Mysteries (13): The Ghosts of the Black Museum’…

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The Darkwood Mysteries: The Catalogue of Errors… Reflecting on October (2017)…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optOctober saw the release of a collection of all ‘The Darkwood Mysteries‘ currently available. Darkwood and Hobbs, the heroes of these Victorian tales of horror and adventure, can think themselves lucky. They only have to deal with criminals and the supernatural, and they have me to bail them out. I, on the other hand, have to write and then self-publish their exploits. I only have the staff of me to do this. And, as I have recently found… I can be f****** useless. Okay, that’s a little harsh, but within the three days of formatting and uploading this collection to Kindle I nurtured a red, hot, and smothering self-rage at the stupid mistakes I kept making.

Let me start my tale of torment at the very beginning. First, some context. I write. Frustrated with the traditional publishing approach of differing submission requirements and waiting forever to get nowhere, I decided to self-publish. Through a mixture of many people wanting my money to promote my books, and me not being one to shout about my work, they don’t get promoted. I guess I rely on the chance of readers stumbling across me. I’m no self-publishing guru. Of course, I am not actually relying on chance. I am relying on whatever algorithm on Kindle gets you seen. It’s akin to having every book in the whole history of the world in one place, and hoping the senile librarian leads a reader looking for ’50 Shades of Grey’ to the aisle with my book in it. Whilst I’m not on the bestseller list, I’ve enjoyed periods of (very) modest sales. And although they flat lined in the last year, ‘The Darkwood Mysteries’, along with ‘Ivory’, have always had the least amount of sales. Bordering on being completely unseen.

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Darkwood & the 7 Point Plot Structure… Reflecting on September (2017)…

BEHIND THE WRITING DESK_optWhen it comes to writing, I’m a plotter. Actually, when it comes to most things I’m a plotter. I can’t understand how people write on the fly. How do you know where you’re going? I’ve always been a thinky person. Outside of writing I’m pretty sure I overthink, but behind the writing desk, there’s no such thing as overthinking. Thinking, for me, is the most time I spend on writing. I usually have a strong idea of what I want to happen in the story, and I build on it and build on it, while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil, riding out a journey, half-watching something on the box, sometimes while talking to people (don’t tell people). Most of my writing happens in my head. All these ideas and beats are then gathered up and put in some order when I get some desk time.

When I sit down to put all these thoughts in order, my story structure is usually quite basic–establish the conflicts; work to a prologue, beginning, middle, end, epilogue; and ensuring characters progress or are in some way changed by the story. Then plot out each individual scene. I also write character bios and descriptions to refer to in the hope I won’t have sudden height changes, or changing eye colours! A while back though, at a convention, I heard some Star Trek writers talking about the 7 point story structure, and it struck me as being a much better framework to hang my plot on. It consists of a hook, 1st plot point, 1st pinch point, mid-point, 2nd plot point, 2nd pinch point, and conclusion. It doesn’t just apply to the whole overarching plot, but can apply to all the plot threads, and as many of the characters as you like that wind together to make the story whole.

 

1 Hook: the baited hook to keep the reader reading. Give incentive to read on. Make a thought-provoking statement. Pose an interesting question. Make a funny relatable comment.

See more, after the jump! (See what I did there?) 🙂 *hook*

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The Darkwood Mysteries Collection…

This Halloween something wicked this way comes… For the first time, all nine tales which begin The Darkwood Mysteries are collected in one volume.

FB Square Kindle Collection 1The Darkwood Mysteries is a series of short-stories and novels which can be enjoyed as individual tales or as part of a deeper mystery.

Emily Darkwood, guided by a mysterious stone, investigates the supernatural and the criminal in the gaslight and shadows of Victorian England. Assisted by her faithful young servant-companion, Jack Hobbs, she risks all in her search for answers to the mystery of the stone and the fates of her parents who left it to her.

Tales 1 – 9 of The Darkwood Mysteries collected in one volume:

The Thief of Faces: Why is Darkwood keeping vigil at her friend’s tomb? Darkwood hunts a serial killer with a gruesome signature execution. What does a murderer want his victims’ faces for?

The Posthumous Child: Darkwood receives messages from the other side whilst a family experiences a ghostly tormentor. What does a spirit child want to be known? What secret haunts the country estate of Cecil House?

The Luminous Marks: Glowing marks are left at the sites of petty thefts. What are they for? Darkwood and Hobbs search out the meaning of the marks in London’s fog shrouded night.

The Wrath of the Dragon: Just who or what is causing terrible fires in the slums of London’s East End? Superstitious fears on the street claim the Chinese are to blame—but could there really be a dragon in London?

The Peacock Cabal: Just what drained a young man of his vitality and left him dead? Men who love men are dying, as something takes advantage of the secrecy surrounding their hidden love. Darkwood’s investigation reveals a conspiracy and a sinister threat…

The Cult of the Scarab: How does a mummified body, missing from the British Museum, connect to Darkwood’s nightmare of beetles in a foreign red land? The answer is found at the end of a trail of bodies…

The Hag on the Heath: Is an acquaintance of Darkwood the victim of supernatural attack? Darkwood, Hobbs, the victim and her gypsy kin—her father and his companions—embark on a hunt for a witch, but all is not as it seems…

The Spindly-Snatcher: Why is a writer burning down bookshops? Darkwood and Hobbs investigate a creeping madness, but in doing so the hunters become the hunted…

The Conspiracies of Shadow & Fire: Conspiracies in the past unfold in the present and pitch Darkwood and Hobbs into a desperate struggle where they are uncertain of who they can trust, and drawn to a confrontation with the ultimate evil…

Available for pre-order on Amazon now.

Darkwood and Hobbs will be returning in a new run of nine stories in 2018. Get ahead now. Don’t be left in the shadows–they aren’t what they appear to be…