Apocalypse Weird 101

image001Every so often something comes along which will make careers and change the world. My news-sense says AW is mine and I’m proud to be a part of the Tier One team, creating and then breaking a brand new world created by Nick Cole, Michael Bunker and Tim Grahl:

Apocalypse Weird is a fully realized, weird, apocalyptic world produced and directed by Wonderment Media, Inc.

For more information, you can download the first book in the series, Nick Cole’s The Red King for free RIGHT NOW from all your favourite e-book vendors. The idea is a metaverse where each author has their own corner of the sandbox in which to play and we can freely write books in each others corners (playing nicely with the canon and the pre-ordained rules set by the original creators). There are some amazing names connected with this including:

Nick is the official showrunner/author herder for AW with the awesome Ellen Campbell in charge of editing duties. Tim is doing the internet/marketing stuff in tandem with the author blog platform ThirdScribe and the Screenshot 2014-12-06 17.12.51stunning graphic novel-style covers are being created by M.S. Corley. The first books are due to drop on February 23rd which means I’d better get writing.

I’ve secured Japan and am currently writing the second and third books (The first draft The Fractured Mirror was completed in December 2014, I’m now working on revisions ahead of the launch): The Crimson Sea and Blood, Steel and Stone (You can check out my Pinterest board for the series here).

Want to know more? Well you should check out the official Facebook group where us authors seem to be using as a rec room. You should also sign up to the newsletter and a chance to get ARCs before publication (in exchange for an honest review). You should also check out Hank Garner‘s awesome podcast with Nick where he spills everything he knew as of date of recording.

I’ll post more as I have it.

Update: Nick Cole has posted on how YOU can get involved with AW.

8/12/2014: Another update — Michael has posted going into more detail on the different ways you can get involved in AW.

13/12/2014: Michael has been chatting to Hank on his latest podcast, spilling more details about AW.

19/12/2014: Stefan Bolz has done an awesome blog post containing the synopses of the tier one books.

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31/12/2014: This (click the screenshot to embiggen):

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31/12/2014: Also this:

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5/1/2015: Following the Nerd has a short article on Apocalypse Weird.

9/1/2015: The trailer is out, gasp in awe and share it:

15/1/2015: Nick Cole has announced the titles of the first five books in the series which will drop on 23/2:

  • Apocalypse Weird: Texocalypse Now by Michael Bunker and Nick Cole
  • Apocalypse Weird: Reversal by Jennifer Ellis
  • Apocalypse Weird: Serenity Strain by Chris Pourteau
  • Apocalypse Weird: The White Queen by David Parish-Whittaker
  • Apocalypse Weird: The Dark Knight, WYRD Book 2 (The sequel to The Red King) by Nick Cole

18/1/2015: Michael and Nick revealed the cover for Texocalypse Now:

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The Creatives’ Guide to Living With Bipolar Disorder: Why Is There No Book For This?

Here is the warming: this post contains talk of stuff you might not like from medication to self realisations re my various diagnoses and the odd gory detail you might not want to read with breakfast. As the kids say nowadays there’s a trigger warning. This is it.

A month ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (Type II), aka manic depression or as I like to think of it, the Creatives’ Curse (and that’s said somewhat in jest, not in a menstrual cramps-kinda way). I call it that because with great creativity comes bipolar; I have a half dozen friends who are artists, writers, musicians and exhibition-type folk who all have bipolar and for them their art is the thing which keeps them going. I’m the same, my manic phrases produce my most work and I’ve been desperately trying to find information on surviving this illness. I downloaded three good books (a For Dummies, a Practical Guide and a Survival Guide) and the problem with all of them is that they focus more on the ‘so you might have bipolar?’ question and how to go about (usually the American way) of getting a diagnosis.

Not helpful.

As someone recently diagnosed I want help learning how to life with this, especially in my capacity as a writer. So, bollocks to all of it, I thought I might as well do it myself. Right now I know nothing, the NHS has given me zero information (without even assuming that I’m capable of finding it, I am but it would have been nice to get some kind of BD information pack on Diagnosis Day). The problem is Aspie Me likes things specific to my situation and I am a writer. I want to know what I should be doing to get control over my mood so that my muse doesn’t run away from my and I become another statistic (apparently your survival rate gets slashed the second you’re diagnosed with BD which doesn’t surprise me one iota). I’m, personally, still waiting for referrals for my BD medication as well as an appointment for an ECG (why eludes me; my heart works) as well as being passed back over to the local bipolar support group. That at least should warrant some kind of info dump.

Hey, you never know, I might just end up writing a book on this but right now this is more because it’s a way for me to have something to refer too when I get to the point where I need an obvious collection of useful information to look at. I’m writing this for myself but if it helps other people out then awesome.

The basics

I’ve been on anxiety meds (Peracyazine and Diazapam) for a month now and OMFVGs it’s like someone flicked a switch in my brain. I can actually function now without collapsing into a blubbing mess of panic, uncertainty and PTSD trauma. I still sometimes just burst into tears (I’m blaming this on post-diagnosis grieving, any diagnosis is going to have an adjustment phrase and I was a the same with my Aspergers. I was happy with the diagnosis but it was a drastic shift, ditto when I found out about my brain damage).

The weird thing is I’ve done from treating every thing I say as inviolate to realising there’s leeway. Yesterday I realised I would need to change a couple of things around and it didn’t make me freak out or beat myself up. In fact I felt relieved for the first time in months, calm and acknowledged my decision as being the right one and made for the correct reasons (if you’re curious it’s that I won’t do more Kickstarters until Parting/Star are finished and that BTSBTS will go to backers at the same time as Parting instead of before due to the stories taking place, chronologically, after the novel).

I need to take my meds regularly. This should be simple but my GP stupidly added the caveat ‘as needed’ when she gave them to me. Tip: You want to make an aspie do something, think of us like genies, unless you word something perfectly, we will find a way around something. Can I drink with these? No! Must I take them every day? YES! Got it?

Aspie Me takes liberties with ‘as needed’ so I am personally taking control and making sure I take at least three tablets a day (the minimum dose). Also I need to learn my times tables: I was given a box of 84 Periacyazine which sounds like a shot but if I take 6 a day, the dose which works for me personally, that’s just 14 days and I don’t just have a repeat. Add the Diazapam for real emergencies (here categorised as intensely stressful situations like family shit, dentist visits and stuff that otherwise scares the crap out of me) that’s 9 days worth …. 14 plus 9 is no where near 28 days (and that is how often I see my GP).

Running out of my medication is one of the big triggers of stress for me. I’m hoping this will be resolved once I get my actual GP to give me a repeat. They were supposed to be a stop-gap until I get to go back to Hellesdon but as no one knows when that will be I’ve been cut loose and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to let that mess my life up again.

On top of this I also have to take iron medication (though I’m not anaemic at this instant, if I don’t take them I will slip back into being ill again) and the unpleasant side-effects caused by a Gastric Bypass about a decade ago. This means I have to limit my sugar, chocolate and coffee intake. I get IBS when I’m stressed which leads to stuff I Cannot Cope With and they don’t really spell it out to you what happens when someone stitches up your stomach and messes with your intestine/removes your gallbladder.

They tell you, when you have this surgery (that I’ve just been told my the medical professionals DOESN’T WORK and you have no idea how relieved that’s made me after a decade) is that it messed your internals up. I was a premie baby (born at 24 weeks, 1lb 11oz) so my body has never quite been as finely tuned as everyone elses. Since the surgery even something a little as a bit of chocolate can set me off and iron tablets did not a good combination make and, sadly, the mind numbing cramp was the easiest to deal with. I know I eat too much sugar, too much alcohol and I’ve been suffering for it consistently. They call it dumping for good reason and it’s another thing I had to put on medical forms and cry about afterwards.

But I am alive, so bonus point to me.

I’ve just switched from hot chocolate to mochas on the advice of one of my favourite Lovely Baristas. I need coffee to function and 2 shots is my limit but because I was drinking it with hot chocolate the calories were as big as a meal (and I have been using coffee as something of an appetite suppressant. Some days I don’t eat until 4pm and That Is Bad). So we switched, added a spoon and an extra pump of mocha, it’s hot and chocolatey and healthier. All good. At some point I’ll work out the exact saving in calories (I get more bonus points for hating cream) but for now I get to feel all self-righteous and sensible.

With chocolate.

I have noticed from scientifically testing (ha!) that the crappier chocolate is (e.g. Dairy Milk over, say, Hotel Chocolate) then the iller I get faster. The higher percentage (72%) might be a very acquired taste (which I lose as if I don’t eat it) but it gives me the needed hit without the agony. Cornettos and (to a lesser extent Magnums) are the same … and I need to stop buying them, period, and stick to Haagan Daaz or that nice gelato from Carluccios.

Aftermath

In my first post-diagnosis month (of mania with a tiny bit of rapid cycling, mostly mania though) I’ve learned the following:

Be kind to yourself.

It’s not a massive jump to understand that how you feel physically is going to affect your mental state. I’ve been making an effort to take my meds, to get exercise, to do fun things and what not and it has helped. Specifically:

  • As I’m not currently anaemic, I can wear my reading glasses which means less eye strain.
  • I’ve started drinking sencha, green Japanese tea, at home as I genuinely need caffeine in life but hate the taste of black/British tea. I was forced to drink it as a kid and yuck. Green tea is much nicer. I also made up an instant hot chocolate mix from very high quality dark chocolate that I can add to warm milk.
  • I do Zumba once a week, a friend runs the class and she picks me up. This means I don’t need to self-motivate (Jeanette is a parent, she doesn’t deal with crap from anyone) and also ensures I will go.
  • I get reflexology twice a month as I have lymphodema in my left leg from FIVE bouts of cellulitis since I was 13. It not only helps me sleep but also serves as unofficial therapy and allows me to wear my new boots.
  • I walk around the city a lot, even though I’m seen more on buses. Having Uni means I sometimes have to go out, especially as I like being self-reliant (at the same time I do have friends to rely on for things I have trouble with, like bottles of milk).
  • I get a massage once a month (I’m blind and I have terrible posture) and, like reflexology, this helps me sleep as well as dealing with chronically buggered shoulder blades.
  • Eat proper meals (or at least buy them). I have been making use of the BOGOF offers being run by my favourite restaurants in January and it’s wonderous. Ditto is buying focaccia and reheating it the following day with some garlic butter.
  • I don’t do breakfast but I do accept that a glass of milk is better than nothing.
  • Ready meals are okay. I usually have some in from Morrisons and the quality is edible! This is quite stunning. I also have a slow cooker and love making faux jambalaya as it really tastes good, has shedloads of veg and tastes better the longer you leave it. It’s also really, really cheap to make.
  • Take the dog for a proper run a couple of times a week.
  • I have friends and I make a point of seeing those closest to me as often as possible, in a pinch borrowing a kidlet works wonders when you have Disney movies they’ve not seen.
  • It’s okay to buy little things but I’m trying to transition to cash only as, especially when manic, my spending goes out of the window and I cannot do debt. Right now I’m using book covers as motivation, that’s awesome. Ditto art cards and other small things which make me happy.

Work and scheduling

Today, for example, I’m waiting for a parcel to be delivered so I’ve structured my day at home. I have food, I have the promise of social interaction and coffee later as well as a reflexology treatment tomorrow. I also have tasks like addressing twenty envelopes for my backers and stuffing them with art cards so I can take them to the post office tomorrow. I’ve been putting this chore off but I know it will actually help my mood, it’s repetitive and calming but also make me feel like I’m one step closer to completing Parting.

When I’m manic, I don’t sleep much (and I’ve been waking up between 4 and 6am like clockwork for the last week and a half) so I make a point of getting out of the house. I get on the first bus to Norwich and am sitting in Starbucks two minutes after they open. I will then sit there, with the dog and coffee, and work there for the morning, sometimes getting lunch in the city and spend the afternoon at home. It gets me out but also I find Starbucks is safe so I can happily function there and get some needed social interaction.

But here’s what I’ve realised.

  • If I can’t sleep, get up. Do not lie in bed and berate a lack of sleep. Also do not wake the dog.
  • If I do need sleep then do it. Cancel appointments and reschedule.
  • If I need something and don’t have the energy to get it, ask someone or put in a delivery (like the four bags of cat food I ordered Monday; they were on offer and I couldn’t have carried them even if I didn’t have Uni)
  • Write. I am one of those people who sometimes gets Writer’s Block but I write constantly so it’s not normally an issue. If I get stuck on one thing, I just move to something else (and normally I can juggle four to six projects on to the go). The trick is to not beat yourself up for not writing what you’re supposed to be doing. Writing something is better than nothing.
  • Playlists. I have find if I need cheering up, I have a Zumba playlist, if I want to get into my Ashteraiverse I have a playlist for that and then I just have ones of my favourite songs and ones that keep me calm and chilled out. The same applies to movies.
  • Sometimes it’s just okay to want to read a book (normally I’m a last thing at night/on the bus reader) but when I get an ARC in then the sofa is there for a reason and getting ARCs from my friends are the best.
  • Everyone who works with me long term is aware of my diagnosis. Ellen has seen be going through a manic and a depressive phase and knows when I’m blind to it. After I got my diagnosis, I made a point of sitting down the Other Important People and explaining what this meant. Everyone was good about it and I’m aware the honest and open route isn’t for everyone, I’m just blessed that I’m in the situation where I can go ‘so I have Bipolar, this is how we’re going to get through it’.
  • I instituted a three month first draft rule. Any book I write to contract/publication needs that length of time for me to do it. This also applies to my Ashteraiverse and City of Dragons books as well but it’s more flexible in that case.
  • I’ve also explained to folks that if they say “Can you do X by Y” not to ask me that. I will say yes (Most of the time I’m incapable of saying no and sometimes I even believe I can do stuff like that), then I will stress and it will be BAD.
  • Schedule your days. In a diary. It’s useful not just for having a system but for also being able to tell what you were doing at X on the 23rd. My memory is now shot to pieces due to the medication so my Passion Planner Compact/Calendar have become my saviour.
  • Remember schedules sometimes change. For example, it’s supposed to snow for the rest of the week. If that happens there might days when I cannot get out but that’s okay.
  • Changing plans, changing your mind is okay.

That’s it for today. This post was definitely and info dump but it’s helped me. A lot of this is giving myself permission and trying to make sense of a weird new world where I have to function like a rational human being. That was never going to be easy and that’s the point. Life never is.

How My Asperger’s and Bipolar Affects Being An Author

I’m starting to come down from my most recent manic phase and this is a good thing. Being manic is exhausting, expensive and, for me at least, balanced by being super productive. I though I was cycling but once I started on my anxiety meds I realised this was mania pure and simple. The problem is that while I can identify the periods, usually after the fact, that doesn’t mean I have control. Far from it. You can be aware of something but not understand it, not comprehend it.

In December I wrote a book. In a month. The first half of it wasn’t awesome, my tenses got mixed up and while the thread was there in my brain on paper it was a mess. The problem with being manic is I couldn’t see it. I can be aware I’m manic but it doesn’t stop me spending money, disappearing into a universe I’ve created or being so hyperactive that when I come down I hate myself for it.

My editor, Ellen, is an angel; she understands that I was sick, divorced from reality in a particularly unique way and she’s taken it up on herself to be my anchor, the one who stops me doing stupid shit like submitting novels. She’s my gatekeeper and I am so glad of her, she’s also my friend and has my interests at heart. She won’t let me mess my life up and I’ve never been so thankful of having her, even if she has to put up with herding a bipolar author.

It’s okay because I’m fixing it, I have the time and the awesome people who understand that being bipolar, I can’t turn it off. I love being manic because it means I can write shedloads (and, you know what? A World of Strange New Things doesn’t suck but there’s a different writing my own stuff which I know so intimately it’s a part of me and writing a book to contract). I enjoy the rush that comes with waking up at 4am and sitting in Starbucks letting the words flow, the plot growing and flowering like an orchid. This might be a first draft, it might not be perfect, but it’s promising and I find myself thinking about the story all day.

I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by people who understand that when I try to explain how my bipolar affects me, they get it. I’m type 2 which means my periods of highs and lows aren’t quite as epic as, say, Stephen Fry’s. Personally I believe that this is down to my anxiety and Asperger’s; I have inbuilt boundaries which prevent me doing really, really insane things. I still spent money (hi headphones, book covers, Apple docks, art cards etc), I still live in a strange world where rules don’t quite mesh with the real world. I like it there.

Amusingly I actually asked my psychiatrist if having narrators in my head makes me schizophrenic (it doesn’t) because that is how I feel most the time and I enjoy having people in my head, telling me stories. I feel more like a conduit, a medium, for the ether and it’s why I write in first person for the majority of the time.

My bipolar, my Asperger’s, both of those make me a better author, if a neurotic one. I can live with that but the sooner I get these mood swings under control the better.

A World of Strange New Things: Sweetness in Sorrow is Finished!

SiS2Hey look, I finished something :D Sweetness in Sorrow is the first part of A World of Strange New Things and having that done is a massive weight off my mind, simply because it means I’m starting to fill the unofficial ToC in my head for Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea. This story has turned from a short into a 25k novella, which is awesome and I’m totally okay with it. However it’s also making me think that, perhaps, rather than five parts this full novel will only need four. There’s a natural break and I would like to do another Zoe volume where she starts looking into the people behind the darkness falling over the continental United States in the wake of Lesser Evils, 2018 and A Star Filled Sea.

So I’ve decided that World is going to have four stories, each of about 25k.

  • Sweetness in Sorrow
  • Temporal Grace
  • Suffer the Children
  • Games the Powerful Play

The final story, The Serpent’s Venom, will then find itself in Zoe’s second novel. I need to now let this sit for a little while and then sent it off to my beta reader. This is the right decision, I think, as it means less over heads, less covers that need doing and a cheaper Kickstarter campaign in the longer run. Plus I know how unwieldy a 150k book is, how much more expensive it costs to purchase and ship so I’m going to try to keep this one to 100k, nice and simple.

Sound good?

Screenshot 2015-01-18 09.04.01

A Star Filled Sea: The Final Covers and Other News

I love these covers for A Star Filled Sea. They’re my new favourites (yes there are two of them, one for print and one for ebook):

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Nick gave me a fresh pull quote and it’s fantastic:

“Lesley Smith writes beautifully crafted tales that take you into the dreams and nightmares of a gifted storyteller.”

This was something I initially envisioned, recognising that sometimes Cover A looks better on an ebook than it does on the print version so I explained this to Scarlett and, in return, she’s now christened the paperback as ‘the special edition’. Frankly this cover now ranks as my favourite (or at least it will until my next cover commission); it perfectly encapsulates the beauty of space but also suggests that behind that is something darker, more dangerous.

Plus I love blue …

If you want both covers (and trust me, you do) then go for Josh’s tier; you’ll get print and an ebook copy (in the usual formats) as well as an art card of the book cover. That’s my personal recommendation as this book really has ‘collector’ on it. Seriously, it’s going to be gorgeous.

Would you like to see the blurb? This is rough and, depending on the space, may need condensing but for now:

Monsters are real and they hide in plain sight. 

Living on Earth pretending to be human, linguist and translator Joshua Jordan is happy with a quiet life until his alien employer asks him to attend the top secret and much-anticipated ceremony where Earth will become a part of civilised alien society and join the Union. 

It should have been easy but when Josh gets involved nothing is ever is, particularly not when a body-jumping parasite kills a member of the human ambassador’s staff mid-way through the transgalactic flight. 

No one is safe, not even Josh. 

Separated from his soulmate and star systems out his comfort zone, Josh finds himself forced to walk a fine line between being human and his responsibilities as an Ashterai Elder which says finding the wraith is his job. Assisted by his reptilian boss and an empathic intern, there are just hours until the Tsura Medan docks on Mnemosyne and the creature disappears into the local population. 

Josh is going to learn the hard way that sometimes there are worse things than a wraith only he can see—like having to ask your friends for help, especially when the clock is ticking and the future hangs in the balance.

My friend Mel put me on to Kicktraq and it's quite handy

My friend Melissa put me into Kicktraq while funding her debut YA novel Becoming Death last month. I like Kickstarter’s dashboard but I love stats even more, plus this allows a projection (as inaccurate as those can be) to give you an idea of what you can fund though this fluctuates and is projected on the backers you’ve had. Anyone who crowdsources for more than a minute knows how inaccurate this is, just as I know I’m more than likely to get a slew of people (I hope) at the end of the campaign or on a Friday as that’s payday for a lot of people.

Remember, you can pledge now (if you’ve not done so already, you totally should) and the money is only debited at the end of the campaign (Feb 8th) IF we get enough pledges to pass the £750 funding threshold.

I must admit, I’m liking this campaign a lot more than my last two. I don’t like spamming but I do find my excitement is infectious which is why I like sharing news, excerpts (the next one unlocks at £500!) and covers with you guys. I think enthusiasm is a better way to go, as are low funding goals and long time frames. I have a core fanbase now and while I’m still pushing, it’s nowhere near the spam levels of my last two campaigns.

We're still doing brilliantly!

It’s actually making me think about my next campaigns and how I’m going to change them. I had intended my next Kickstarter to be for The Shadow of the Stars but I’m currently behind due to other commitments etc and so I think I may have to delay Shadow for a couple of months into 2016. However, there’s a bonus to this aside from me having more time to complete the book (and time is the most important thing I need right now, next to clones) which is that, instead, I’m going to Kickstart the prequel novella One in Blue, The Other Green separately in the summer.

Like Star, the overheads are minimal, it’s a nice short project and it also means that when I Kickstart Shadow, those overheads will also be much less allowing me to finish the trilogy on a high  note (the cover is already done for that one). This is good for you guys as it means more books and  it’s good for me as it means I won’t have to hammer the campaign quite so hard.

After all it’s so much easier to raise £750 (actually it will probably be less than that for Blue) than it is £3000 and it mean you guy will have things to read between now and the end of the year (remember I’m also working on my serial which is going to be a nice way for me to ensure you guys see instant gratification instead of waiting six months for a full novel).

I’d love to know your thoughts, after all, I can’t do this alone and you guys are an important part of every story I write.

Being kind to myself …

My official diagnosis letter came today, except it’s more of a packet (they kindly sent it into a massive font but only one copy which means it’s like ten pages) so I’m going to have to ask my doctor for a print out of the initial pages for life purposes. I’m okay about it (none of it was a surprise) but that doesn’t mean I can face actually reading it. Not today, not now. The psychiatrist was night enough to confirm the language I would prefer (so to not trigger me) and that’s helped but it’s still not something I want to think about sober.

So I’m drinking fizzy apple juice instead.

I met some friends of mine (both writers) for lunch and we talked about Japan, about concept covers (Mel has just gotten her cover from Scarlett and it looks awesome, ditto my own) and the fact my December really did suck. They both saw it, from my comments, tweets and blogposts, and today I ate like a horse (though January does mean Yo Sushi is extra affordable). I’ve not had a proper appetite in days, I’ve been up for twenty hours and not sleeping properly or well.

Right now i’m a slave to my muse, which of course means writing A World of Strange New Things and not The Fractured Mirror. I thought I was burning out but it appears I’ve not got my second wind. That said, I know if I compartmentalise Mirror, write a chapter a day and fully own the story, then it will be okay. Zoe has part of my brain but so does Mina and, for a couple of weeks, it just means project jumping from one novel to the other and trying not to get mixed up.

This letter, it means cogs are moving, appointments and hopefully the medications/support I need will be forthcoming. In the meantime I’m trying to be proactive by keeping as calm and stress free as possible. I’m drinking a single shot of coffee in my hot chocolate with no ill-effects (sadly I can’t eat chocolate; turns out the dairy/sugar was behind most of it), I’m trying to walk and get out, I’m attempting to do Zumba once a week (which is knackering), I’m trying not to spend money I don’t have (especially given I have lots of promises to fulfil this year) and I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m eating good food, I’m not justifying the odd luxury like some lovely sencha (even if that means physically going out of my way to get, for example, the tea bags) or asking friends with cars to bring me heavy bottles of milk.

I’m drinking water, getting reflexology (it helps with my crappy circulation and improves my mood), I’ve finally found a lovely massage therapist who can deal with the author levels of damage to my spine/neck/shoulders from hunching over keyboard, I’m seeing people I care about, doing sports and activities I love, I’m running the dog and being nice to D. I’ve bought some new clothes I needed, including a lovely dress which does wonders for my self-esteem, I’m getting my hair cut regularly and it’s all these little things which add up. I’m now willing to do things I would have otherwise discounted simply because I know they’ll make my life easier.

And I feel better for it.

I know if I can be in a better place physically, my mental state will improve and I won’t break. I’ll be able to handle deadlines and contracts, promises and my own insane workload. I know, realistically, some things on my list won’t happen this year. The paperwork is going to sit on my desk until I scan it but I doubt I’ll ever read it, not now, not right this second. I’m not ready yet. So I’m going to bed early, I’m going to hope more people see my Kickstarter and trust that everything is going to be okay because, really, all my worries are tiny in comparison to others’. I know that if, for example, a book gets delayed then that’s down to life, not me. These things happen and, sadly, sometimes they are unavoidable and unforeseen.

So here’s my list until June:

A Star Filled Sea: Cover Concepts the Second and Third

Lesleysmith_starfilledsea_web3

I love the colouring and the fonts she’s chosen … very celestial ;D

Scarlett got back to me this morning with two new cover concepts for A Star Filled Sea and they’re getting there now, I think. I’ve chosen the one above because it’s gorgeous. There’s still refinement and little things to iron out but seeing these, it makes me excited about the book! That’s a good thing but now we just need to get the campaign funded so if you’ve not pledged, this would be a very good time.

Here’s the third concept:

Lesleysmith_starfilledsea_web4

Right now I’m paying for the cover out of my own pocket, assuming this Kickstarter will fund because I have amazing backers. I will release this novel whatever happens but being able to fund means I can afford to get Ellen to edit, a map made and to have Ben do me an illustration. These things, editing and the cover aside, are not necessary but they will make the book beautiful, to have pride of place on books shelves and on tablets.

A World of Strange New Things: Hello 40k

AWoSNTs240k is the traditional length for a novel according to the SFWA, the lower end anyway. A World of Strange New Things, my first Ashteraiverse serial, has just passed the 40k mark and it’s not done, not by a long shot, not if it’s going to be a five part serial but there’s something about that waypoint which makes me feel accomplished. Also I started writing this just eight days ago, minus much of Sweetness that’s still a massive 25k in a week.

It’s going to be good, here’s a revised blurb:

Zoe was never cut out for her job. Hired to help people, her role within the Ashterai hierarchy soon becomes a burden so she finds herself on the alien world of Mnemosyne in search of reassignment. Yet even afterwards, as a celestial PA, Zoe’s previous lives haunt her when she is murdered days after moving to Seattle and the momentous news that aliens have made Contact. Forced to rely on new friends she doesn’t even know she has yet, Zoe begins her descent into a dark, terrifying new world in search of the one person she’d stopped looking for: her soulmate.

Balancing her life as an Ashterai Elder and a human was never going to be easy but when Zoe takes a job at a school for psychics, Seattle’s esper underground is revealed to her. She begins to realise that the nefarious Bureau of Esper Affairs and Registration is far from benign or as mandated by paperwork as the government would have it’s citizens believe. On her journey to find her other half, Zoe becomes a secret agent for her new employers and begins to see that there is always a shadow, sometimes the light is simply so blinding that it’s impossible to see.

A World of Strange New Things is a five part serial set in the Ashteraiverse, comprising of: Sweetness in Sorrow (also included in the anthology Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea), Temporal Grace, Suffer the Children, BEAR’s Claws and The Serpent’s Venom. The book is scheduled for a monthly release in the latter half of 2015 with a Kickstarter campaign to follow later this year.

And the all important screenshot:

Screenshot 2015-01-12 17.08.26

The Terrifying Number of Books I’d Like to Publish in 2015

2015-01-08 17.47.25I got my Passion Planner Compact yesterday. Cue much squeeing, highlighters, coloured pens and three hours of trying to transfer my life into an iPad Mini-sized planner. I’m actually tag-teaming it this year, with my diary in the planner but also on my phone/computer.

The plan is to publish

* The chances of City coming out this year are, however, minuscule.