Heading For The Coast

We’ll be heading south in a little while, so I’m racing to get this done before we go — I’m never quite sure how good internet reception will be down there. We were due to go down next weekend, but Kate’s been getting a little stressed about the whole Christmas thing; part of that is worrying about whether we can get down there before Christmas to drop the family presents off, or whether we’ll get snowed in.  If we head down this weekend, the whole issue becomes moot.

And I can afford to take a weekend away, since I finished the revision of Ultramassive yesterday, and am reasonably on top of university work. In fact, I’ve been using the worksheet to control my workload rather than it controlling me, to establish where I’m neglecting key particular chunks of work. I find it far more helpful to look at work at a strategic level than simply scribbling down tasks piecemeal.

It’ll be nice to have a break from the routine, and (maybe) go for a walk along the beach. Weather permitting, of course; that’s always the caveat at this time of year. Although it’s generally warmer along the south coast, it also tends to be wetter.  Pictures like this one -taken last February- are the exception, rather than the norm.

Back tomorrow for the last week of term. Wow! Where has the time gone?

• December 11th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The World in White

Something significant happened at 12.27 today; at about the same time as I was submitting my first assignment, in Feature Journalism, the thermometer rose to freezing point. It’s the first time in I’m not sure how many days that it’s shown positive.  It’s still bitterly cold, but at least now I can leave off tipping boiling water into the bird bath. (No, we’re not parboiling the local sparrows — within a few minutes it’s barely above freezing again, but at least it’s drinkable)

Kate took some pictures yesterday, which will illustrate our wintry world far better than I can.

And in the same way as there’s a sense that the world is thawing gradually, so I’ve finally started to feel as if I’m getting on top of things, for the first time in quite a while.

Partly that’s because I’m about two days away from finishing the revision of Ultramassive.  I have one more pass to do a light edit of certain passages, but I’ve used the time freed up from working at the BEH to target this.

And, as I blogged yesterday, Film is done and dusted for a few days. It’s now onto the nice part, the concept stages leading to a screenplay.  And tomorrow night our core lecture will take the form of a screening of the Swedish version of Let the Right One In. Must remember to pick up the popcorn on the way in…

• December 8th, 2010 • Posted in General, Other Colin Harvey Sites • Comments: 0

Miscellany

No blog yesterday, as it was Monday, although I did post a Film Making Mumblings which I’ll link to here.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was keeping a spreadsheet of the hours that I was working, and what activities I was allocating the time to; the categories were the four uni subjects that I’m studying, (Writer’s Workshop aka Core, Genre, Feature Journalism and Film Making, plus writing, blogging, reading and other. As it’s the end of the month today, I’ve begun to reflect on the results. I’ll post an analysis -probably tomorrow- but one of the things that’s come out of it is how hard it is to allocate time to a job that’s as complex as being a writer.

For example, your hard drive goes and you have to get a new one. Is that work? I think so. But where do you put it? In the end, I put it under ‘other.’ The problem is that I also put the time I spent at cons and meetings such as the BSFA interview under other as well, and as a result, a third of my time is spent under other. Perhaps if I do it again, I’ll put a column in for ‘networking.’

I have one activity that doesn’t count as work, which is to take the afternoon off, and to attend Kate’s choral performance of various pieces of music such as ‘Hiawatha’s Wedding March’ and ‘Oklahoma.’  The event is at The United Reformed Church in Bath, just over Poulteney Bridge at 3.45pm. Tea and cakes will be served by my fair hand.

Meanwhile, I’m December’s Featured Author in The World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto.  There’ll be an interview going up at some point, and I’ll link to it, but in the meantime here’s a rather nice shot of the gondola end with Winter Song and Damage Time  on.

And I continue to paddle frantically below the waterline on stuff that I can’t yet talk about; as soon as I can, I’ll stop with the mystery.

• November 30th, 2010 • Posted in Books, General, Other Colin Harvey Sites, Writing • Comments: 0

Sleepy Sunday

After the excitement of November in the shape of Bristolcon, the BSFA interview and several days worth of filming, it’s been a pleasure to do only a minimal amount of work today, and instead concentrate on chilling.

Walked Alice round the community forest, and then did my daily allocation of Ultramassive. Mark came over for lunch, since when we’ve had a fest of armchair sport. Later on, I have Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight as my evening reading.

Back to the grind at Uni tomorrow, but it’s been good to rest up and re-charge.

• November 28th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Red Letter Day

Well, here we are and it’s the 31st of August.

To celebrate the official US release of Winter Song (yes, really! Have I mentioned it already?) the lovely, intelligent and charming Sharon Reamer has updated an interview with me that orinally ran in Allegory magazine a full twelve months ago.  There’s plenty more where that one came from!

In fact, I’m not quite sure whether it’s actually in the shops, or just means that it’s officially in a warehouse in Omaha, or Oregon, or…

And this morning I finished the wip. 613 words over, but that’s not bad for a 105,000 word novel. It’ll be put to one side now, while I think about re-writes for a month.

Finally, but equally importantly, I wrapped the last of Kate’s presents yesterday.

All done and on target — a nice red letter day!

• August 31st, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Power of 31

It’s now 14 days until August 31st, a date which grows increasingly significant with every day. That’s because organizations and individuals target the first and last days of the month, so the 31st is always busy with some deadline or other.

It’s also the day before Kate’s birthday, by which time I need to have sneaked any goodies into the house and wrapped them. So usually in August I’m getting a little stressy. Although this year, I no longer have the annual influx of applications for the SLF‘s Annual Travel Grant.

Still, when I planned my summer workload it seemed to be against a view of one looooong siesta as I dozed beneath the apple tree from the end of the 1st year in May, to the 2nd year in early October.  I calculated that if I could finish the draft of Ultramassive by August 31st, I could take a month off before going back to uni. So far, so good; I’m 80% of the way through, and if I can keep producing my target wordage, I’ll make it, bang on schedule.

And although Dark Spires is to be launched at Bristolcon, the printers only need a couple of weeks, so I figured that with any luck I could even write the story for it in early October — at least, if I was lucky… if not, then late September. 

Ah, I thought smugly. A plan is hatched…

The first flaw came at the end of May. Angry Robot announced that they were gearing up the US launch to start with Winter Song. They are launching in September, but monthly deliveries go out on the last Tuesday of the previous month, which is….de de de de de de de…August 31st. (It’s actually great news, but it was about two or three months earlier than I’d expected, and Leeee keeps shouting at me for more interviews and more blog material!!!!)

Now, having thought that I could get away with a gap before turning my full attention to Dark Spires, it transpires that WTP’s lovely copy editor is expecting her first child soon, and we need to get all the editing done soonest. Last Friday I learned that it’s due…August 31. 

And that first annual deadline hasn’t gone away — at some point I need to get Kate’s birthday presents before she returns from holiday on…August 31st. (Can anyone recommend a mains-operated DAB radio that also picks up FM?) 

I know, I know. I could be writing, blogging, editing or…ew, shopping…instead of whinging about it. But hey, my therapist tells me it’s good to share.

But if anyone else has any deadlines for this date, keep them to yourself — at least until September the 1st.

Please? Pretty please?

• August 17th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 1

Head Above the Parapet

You may have noticed a distinct lack of bloggage lately — not only have I been head down on Ultramassive (three-quarters of the way through), but I’ve also been flat out editing the subs for Dark Spires, and on top of that I’ve had Leee at Angry Robot c-cracking the whip.

But now I’m within 19 days of finishing the Ultramassive draft, and the last sub  for the anthology is in, so come September I might even take a day or two off. Although there’s Mrs H’s birthday to sort out.

So I’d better get on with some shopping….

• August 13th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Process of Editing — Anthologies

I’ve posted the final part of the blog post about editing over at Suite101. I hope that it’s helpful in understanding the thought processes that accompany assembling an anthology.

And on other news, I passed the two-thirds mark on Ultramassive.

• August 8th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

The Process of Editing – Stories

I’ve posted the second of  what is now three parts on editing over at Suite101, detailing what I do with a submission when I receive it.

One unexpected side effect of spending so much time on less than a dozen submissions is that I’m finding it a real battle writing my 1500 words each day. I have enormous admiration for those writers who can work on one book in the morning, and then focus on another in the afternoon.  My next task is work out how I can mentally multi-task.

More tomorrow on editing, though.

• August 7th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Back to Ultramassive, and Damage Time

I’m still getting settled back into some sort of routine this morning. After a brief diversion into the land of short story writing, I took a day off yesterday to attend my step-father’s funeral.  Not the sort of day off that I like — I much prefer them to involve lying prone somewhere in sunshine on one hand, a long drink in another, and a good book — wait, that’s too many hands…

But despite being slightly worried about resuming novel-writing, once I got going, I found slipping back into the groove of writing Ultramassive surprisingly easy. I think that I’ve achieved a certain residual momentum. Or maybe the day ‘off’ did some good.

My only reminder of work yesterday was when Lee rang me from the Angry Robot office for one last minor edit for Damage Time. It came as Kate and I were buying some sandwiches for lunch in a bomb-site/Sainsbury’s-under-construction, on the edge of Exeter. I thought, ‘shall I tell him where I am?’ but decided against it. He might have felt guilty, whereas I was actually glad of the distraction.

And Damage Time cropped up again this morning, with this timely link provided by the lovely Liz van Zandt, via Facebook. I proposed in the novel that society might be entering a phase whereby economic factors affect people’s living arrangements, and even marriage. In the draft it raised more eyebrows and hackles with the crit group than perhaps any other point, which surprised me.

I suspect that I’m not done with blogging about this yet. In fact, I know I’m not…thanks Liz. :)

• August 4th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0