so anyway...

No, this is not a blog. But it is a place where I can micro-rant about things that you maybe find interesting. Or maybe not, mind, so prepare to be mildly disappointed.

Here, I can also share news, updates and background stuff that usually gets buried during the writing process, but almost all story ideas have some little titbits that add a little seasoning to the reading experience, assuming that's what you're looking for.

Sometimes I wonder if we read to understand ourselves better. Both we, ourselves, and us as a species. And if that is the case, then the act of reading is as much a part of that as the fantastical words rising off the page. And so - like those 'behind the scenes' things the movie people do - I will try to bring the process and the person to life, here, in the same way I try to with the characters in my stories (although I'm sure they'd have something to say about that).

 general update 21/11/21

Submissions are done; now I wait.
...
...
It goes on like that for a while.
But, you never know...
I updated my book covers with a cleaner font and changed the look of the Lost Earth covers, which I really like now. (But then I always say that).
I've yet to final edit Last Incidence as I'm letting it percolate, but I had good feedback from the beta reading and so I shall be incorporating two minor changes to make it work better. Over Christmas, probably.

So, I took American Gods off the site because I couldn't quite work out where is sat, length-wise. Plus, I was in procrastination mode. Then another idea came to me - air - which become my new fave and I put that up instead. Then the way to write American Gods came to me, plus I stopped obsessing over what length to force-write it at (preferring to let it unfold naturally, which took the pressure off) and so I started it last week, and plan to see where it takes me. Turns out, trying to plan everything out, chapter by character - not really my style at all. Got me all of a tizzy. So feeling much better now, and what length it ends up, I guess I'll find out at some point. But for now, I'm enjoying writing this story, using a new premise/perspective. I'm 10k in and liking it so far. That can change quick, mind.

quick one 22/10/21

A family thing happened which knocked me off my rhythm there for a moment, but that's in the rearview now.
So, I started writing The Observer Effect and finished up with The Final Incidence. So that's what it's called now. I shall save Observer for a story more suited to the scientific angle, rather than the philosophical. 

I haven't started American Gods yet, despite having it planned out, and although I can start right now (with Incidence wrapped - less final edit), I think there's some pontification coming. I think I'm going to final edit Three Systems, and hope that The Difference Engine comes to me while I'm doing that, with the aim of knocking that out before Christmas and then, having mulled American Gods some more, start that in the new year. 
It's a plan. Kinda. Meanwhile submissions continue. No takers yet.

three quick things 27/9/21

First, I have begun the submission process, with Echoes of a Lost Earth. Pleased to have finally built up the courage to do it, but it's also truth to the head time.
Second, I have completed the planning element of Even American Gods Die. I have an outline plot, character bios and a timeline (the latter being something that I just couldn't put down for like a week - so much fun. Which means, I'm good to go (once I've worked out the perspective).

Third, the broad concept for The Observer Effect came to me the other day. Been wondering how that might unfurl for a while, so it's nice that it happened. I suspect that I will be owing much to Stephen Baxter and Peter F Hamilton for sowing the seeds of the 'observer' premise. And so I'm going to knock this one out before I start American Gods

writing update 10/9/21

I didn't sleep well last night. I read later than I usually do, fell into a deep, brief, slumber and when I awoke my brain decided that that would be the ideal time to start work on my new project, Even American Gods Die.
Thanks. I was going to start it next week and would therefore have been fine with a nice long sleep (I like a good sleep). But I don't get to choose, so...
I think it's going to be a long form story (novel length) and I'm going to approach this one differently to After the Rise and Echoes of a Lost Earth
By that I mean, I intend to spend a really good amount of time planning this one out. Chapter by chapter. Character bios. All that stuff they say you should do, but I always preferred to just get on with the writing. Natch. But stomping around where angels fear may not be the very best way, so I'm trying it their way, this time.

So last night, my brain started to work out some of the world building stuff. Political structures, past events, main players, opening sequences. It's all a jumble right now, but rather than just leave it tumbling around in my head (like I normally do and can get away with, with short form), I'm going to write it all down and then place it in order. Only once I have a fleshed out end-to-end story, am I then going to start tap-tapping (I wrote an opening scene a few months ago, but that doesn't count - I may not even use it, although it's ace so I probably will).
I also need to reread and final edit A Light Beyond the Stars (my latest short) and I hope to be able to bang out The Observer Effect short before I start on American Gods proper - I've spend most of '21 re-editing all my works and building this blooming website, so I feel like I haven't got much to show for 2021. A third story would make me feel better. Only problem is, for Observer, all I have is a title.
Still, worry about that another time, right now, I'm ordering my unordered American Gods thoughts. Smiley face.

reading

I'm a slow reader. I always have been. I think I benefit from a greater word absorption rate, but maybe that's a myth. I might just not be very good at hoovering up words on a page. That's more likely. They can jiggle about a bit and are very good and simply being the words I think they're going to be rather than what the author typed out.
But that's just me.
I read every day. And not just what I write (although I do a lot of that). No. I also read for fun. I read when I'm writing and when I'm not. I read because books are still the very best form of story telling.
Dune (the film) comes out soon. It'll be epic and I can't wait. But I suspect it won't quite measure up to my perspective view of the book (which I read in anticipation of the film coming out, and blimey it's dense). Books can stack 'em high, more layers, greater depth. More majesty. And, it allows my imagination to unfurl. It feeds my brain in a way a film can't. Not so immersively. Even the obvious epicness of the upcoming Dune.

And so when people say that they don't read when they're writing because it confuses them or that they may inadvertently plagiarise another work, I say, what twaddle.
And when others say they don't read at all. That they don't like to read but that they do love to write, and is that okay, I'm slightly incredulous.
Or maybe they are just better at this, but the idea that a person can write without reading the best writing out there feels like arrogance. Or ignorance, perhaps.
But what do I know, except that I'm fairly certain a writer also has to be a reader.
I'm currently reading Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky, who may be one of the best writers of today. Why wouldn't I want to learn from a master writer such as that?

my book covers

So, a quick one about my book covers, because a few (and I do mean, a few) people have asked.
I make them in PowerPoint and then screenshot a cropped image.
Simple. And it shows.
But, it's part of my process; I create these before I begin writing, y'see.

My aim is to keep them deliberately simple while maintaining a standardised, inoffensive look. I want them to be identifiable as mine at a quick glance. I'd like to think that they hint at the tale contained within, but that might be stretching it a bit.
I'm not a cover artist, of course I'm not, but these will do. For now.

mark j suddaby | writer