I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
Guy Haley is one of the authors I discovered this year, when I picked up an eARC of his second Richards and Klein Investigations novel, Omega Point, and then requested the first novel, Reality 36, as well. I liked both novels and was hungry for more, which introduced me to his novel Champion of Mars which ties a bit into his novels above and was just plain fantastic. Then I heard that he was going to be writing for Black Library and that he had already been commissioned for two novels! In all honesty, Guy is definitely one of my favourite authors period. Strike and Fade is the first of his works for Black Library that I’ve had an opportunity to go through, and it is just mind-blowing.
Sorry for the late Advent Review today. I’ve been out of home and away from my laptop for pretty much the entire day and I was at a concert last night, which I got back from rather late. Anyway, my 14th Advent Review (Batgirl Volume 1 by Gail Simone) was posted yesterday on the SF Signal site, thanks to the awesome John DeNardo, who was gracious to allow me a guest spot. Hugo Award Winner 2012 – Best Fanzine, yo! To take things away from the comics for today, I bring to you a review of John French’s latest Horus Heresy contribution, the Advent audio drama Warmaster.
In the last installment of this series, it was Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Gav Thorpe, Rob Sanders and John French. This time it is Matthew Farrer, Nick Kyme and Chris Wraight. As it turns out, this past weekend we’ve also had the first ever Black Library Weekender, a two-day weekend event at which there was a ton of information released about the Heresy: more audios, more novels, more anthologies, a new author joining the ranks, and more time-limited edition novellas among other things. So instead of what I thought I’d cover for the fourth installment, It’ll be how the new stuff announced matches up with what I had envisioned. But anyway, here’s today’s writeup for you all.
Well, I’ve read the 22nd novel in the series by now, the Shadows of Treachery, and it has sparked off more stuff that I think could feasibly turn into a part 4 for this series. Anyhow, last time I talked about this topic, I covered Dan Abnett, Graham McNeill, Ben Counter and James Swallow. This time its going to be Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Gav Thorpe, John French, and Rob Sanders.
Twitter has been buzzing lately with “best of the year so far” and “most anticipated lists”. Looks like everybody and their fictional cat is on the bandwagon. So I thought I’d do one too, a “best of the half-year” list that is. I mean why not, I’ve read so much good stuff this year that it all deserves recognition anyway. I already do a top-of-the-month list anyway, as you can see on the Reading Awards page, so this should be good fun either way.
Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!
A roller-coaster year is coming to an end. Lots of positives, a few dumb negatives, lots of excitement, lots of cheering and a few disappointments.
To be fair, the year didn’t really start for me until the third week of March. And that’s because it was in the third week of March that I discovered the Bolthole. And once I navigated to this corner of the internet, then everything just spiraled upwards and it has been a hell of a ride.
Finding the Bolthole has been the single-most positive event of the year because it opened me up to a really big world of exciting possibilities and fantastic opportunities. This is around the time I started blogging as well, so that is a huge plus that happened concurrently. The amount of writing I have done this year, at a guesstimate, is somewhere around 200,000 words. That includes blogging, reviewing, various submissions, my Sons of Corax fanfic, Bolthole comps, and my Nano novel among other things.
Jeff Ambrose, over on his blog here, discussed his goals for 2011 and new goals for 2012. His post is, in part, the inspiration and motivation for this post. He mentions his target word-count for the year, which stands at an impressive 400k words and how close he is to accomplishing that.
So it all got me thinking about what I want to do for myself next year. And I have come up with a few tentative things that I would like to accomplish this coming year.
1. I am going to write a full novel submission for Black Library. For the submission itself they want a 6-page chapter breakdown, a 1000-word synopsis and the first 3 chapters clocking in at at least 10k words. My goal is to write the novel in full. Target count is 85,000 words. This will be my Writing Project 1: In The Emperor We Trust. This was originally going to be a Space Marine Battles novel but I have been reliably told that only stories that are mentioned in existing lore qualify for that brand. So ITEWT will be a regular Space Marine novel.
If I can write a 70k novel in 32 days with 2% planning then I can write an 85k novel with 80% planning over the entire year surely!
Total Goal: 85,000 words
2. I am going to write 3 short stories in full for Stories in the Ether. SITE is an anthology of stories set in various different genres that are generally printed online first and later on for digital print and so on. As you can see here, their guidelines are fairly relaxed and very open-ended, which means you can write about anything and everything as long as you conform to their genres: Sci-fi, Fantasy and Steampunk.
What is awesome about Nevermet Press is that the SITE submissions are open throughout the year! Which means that yes, you can submit throughout the year. It is fantastic news. SITE also doesn’t get long-term exclusive rights to your work so you are free to explore other publishers with your work. The details are over on their SITE page.
I already have a short story in the works that is a spin-off prequel story for my Nano novel. Given that SITE short stories need to be no longer than 15k words, that is a lot of wiggle room. My aim for my 3 stories is to clock in at around 10,000 words each.
Total Goal: 115,000 words
3. I currently have 4 chapters to write for my Sons of Corax fanfic for the Bolthole. The goal, given all the things I want to talk about and have planned out in bits and pieces, is to average about 2800 words between the four of them. The fanfic has been ignored for the last month and a half, primarily because first I had Nano to work on and then later in Dec I have just generally been procrastinating.
Lesson to the wise: Procrastinating is bad. Especially when you are watching movies.
But, I plan to shape up this coming year and keep pumping out the stuff for two main reasons. One is that I really, really like doing it. Two, people just plain like what I have been doing. Just the other day someone on Warseer of all places commented to me that they like what I am doing with LL’s 60k setting. That is a major surprise for me since I posted a few initial chapters on the warseer boards a couple months ago and got zero response.
But that’s just the way the cookie crumbles I suppose. More incentive to write something you already like doing is always good.
Total Goal: 126,200 words
4. Black Library submissions. Another year is rolling round and I have a lot of things I have been doodling on and off since June of this year for future stuff. This includes Project: In The Emperor We Trust. I also have plans for a “series” of shorts and novels that are all linked by a very central event. The series is currently 5 short stories and two novels long. I already submitted one of the short stories this year, and since I have yet to hear word of it I am going to go with the assumption that it was rejected.
So that leaves 4 short stories and 2 novels. I am definitely going to focus on the short stories first. And that is purely because short stories can be churned out faster than a novel. With the submission guidelines wanting somewhere in the region of 2500 words an average per short story pitch, that is roughly 10k words to add to my work for the next year. Not too bad. The novels I will see. I want to focus on my current novel project first before I start messing around with another one. But, I would like to get the pitch requirements done with at least which should somewhere be around the 19k mark for each roughly.
Then I have about 3 more short stories I want to submit this year. One of them is a failed short story pitch that I never quite got around to work out. So this coming year I want to rework the whole thing and definitely get that pitch done with.
For now, that is all for the submissions stage of things.
Total Goal: 181,700 words
5. I seriously need to blog more. I don’t get enough blogging done at the moment, mostly because of procrastinating with regards to doing it. And that is when I kind of really do enjoy blogging. Its a good habit to be into, especially if you are a writer, and most of my writing-inclined friends and pretty much most of the authors I know, do blog a fair bit. So that is ample motivation.
Plus, the more you write, the more you learn. So the target is to do 2 blogposts minimum each month. More it kind of depends. I do have a lot on my plate with regards to handling blogs since I am a part of two review sites and I also am the unofficial in-charge for the Bolthole blog as well. I definitely don’t want to over-work, especially since I do want to focus on my writing this year.
Total Goal: 211,700 words
6. The Founding Fields. More book reviews dammit! As we speak, I have a backlog of about 4-5 reviews that need to be done, and that is only increasing as time passes since I just recently finished reading Anthony Reynolds’s third Word Bearers novel, Dark Creed, and I am in the middle of Gav Thorpe’s first HH novel, Deliverance Lost.
Plus, I have now arranged things with Black Library and I am now on their Advance Reviewer’s list. My first package is going to be the March releases which are Horus Heresy: Know No Fear by Dan Abnett, the Iron Warriors Omnibus by Graham McNeill, Path of the Renegade by Andy Chambers and finally Knight of the Blazing Sun by newcomer Josh Reynolds. So that’s going to be a lot of reading.
But that’s not all of course because I am me.
I also signed for Angry Robot‘s Robot Army as an Advance Reviewer and have requested a couple ARCs from them, Empire State by Adam Christopher and Giant Thief by David Tallerman. As per their guidelines, requesting ARC’s guarantees that I need to do reviews, which is totally fine by me. Adam’s novel particularly has been gaining a lot of steam, not in the least because of its frikkin awesome cover. So that’s more work for moi!
First order of business is to clear out my backlog and then get on with all the other reviews I need to do as I finish with the books and short stories. Given that my reviews are like usually in the 1200-1500 range, I’ll just take 1300 as my average for each review and I plan to do 5 reviews at least each month. That should sufficiently keep me on track with my reading and getting through all the BL ARC’s I will be getting throughout the year.
Fun fact: My latest review, which should go up within the next 12 hours, is for Sarah Cawkwell’s first novella, Accursed Eternity, and it clocks in at a perfect 1800 words, making it the biggest one I have done so far.
You can see all my current reviews for TFF here.
Total Goal: 289,700 words
7. 24FPS. Another of my review sites that I am a part of and that gets sort of neglected, again, because of procrastination. I sincerely intend to change that of course. For this also I have a backlog, that is about 4-6 movies big depending on what I really want to do. Just like with my book reviews, I tend to average roughly 1300 words a review and I intend to publish about 2 reviews a month. Movies are a little more difficult to get a hold of obviously, not to mention the time commitment issue but this shouldn’t be too bad. And it should be quite relaxing too if I take a low-key but regimented approach to this.
All my reviews for 24FPS can be found here.
Total Goal: 320,900 words
8. Raven and Blood. Clocking in at 70,219 words this is my first ever completed novel that fits a zero draft description, meaning it is not yet ready for editorial eyes and has a ton of things wrong with it that need to be fixed. But, I am immensely proud that I got this done. But now this youngling needs to be edited to hell and back. Plus I need to draw up a “pitch” for this that approximates what Black Library requires for their submissions. I know that different editors have different requirements and that Black Library is not going to be interested in this but I think the exercise in itself will be quite a challenge.
Of course, I cannot really guesstimate how much work this novel-editing shindig will involve on the writing front because editing in itself is so open-ended, particularly for someone like me who has no real experience with proper editing but I think I can take care of the basics at least. I aim for a final word count of about 95,000 words plus the pitch document which, excluding the chapters themselves, should be about another 4000 words.
Total Goal: 349,900 words
9. Finally, NaNoWriMo. I intend to enter the “competition” again and churn out another novel. Maybe one of those novel submissions I mentioned earlier or something different. I do have an old novel project, my first proper novel project in fact, that was a sci-fi story that is sort of half-finished. It is really amateurish in its current incarnation so I might just end up reworking the whole thing. But still, I aim to at least meet my accomplishment of this year if not better it. So the target is another 70,000-word novel which I hope to then sit down to edit for 2013.
Total Goal: 419,900 words
So umm, yeah, that’s my writing goals for 2012. Its a lot of writing and I am not even sure at the moment if I will actually be able to do all of it. But I know that I could reach all of them if I just focused my efforts and really cut down on procrastinating. That’s like Enemy Number One for me. I am really getting into the groove of writing, I feel, and I just got to work it all so that apathy doesn’t set in. Get all that down and then I can really get some solid writing done.
So what about you folks? What writing goals do you all have for 2012?
If you learned a secret that could change the course of history, And you knew that the fate of mankind rested in your hands, Whom would you trust?
- The Outcast Dead, a Horus Heresy novel by Graham McNeill.
Note: I would like to point out that this is an advanced review since the novel itself will not be available to the general public until December this year, and was available only to the people who were at Games Day UK a few days ago.
The Horus Heresy, essentially Black Library’s flagship range considering its popularity and the titles that have gone on to become New York Times Bestsellers, is joined in November by The Outcast Dead, written by the author who brought us the Ultramarines and the Iron Warriors, Graham McNeill. The Horus Heresy, the most influential and defining campaign ever conducted in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, is ultimately about the conflict between brothers, warriors, and sons: the Primarchs and the Legiones Astartes. Central to the entire concept they may be, but their are many other stories of these times that are just waiting to be told, and this novel delivers that quite well.
For it is not about the post-human Astartes or their demi-god sires the Primarchs. It is about those who hold the Imperium together in an invisible net. The psykers. And not just any psykers, but the Astropaths, blind psykers who are soul-bonded to the Emperor and are the communication lifeline of the entire Imperium.
As far as I am able to say on the matter, The Outcast Dead is the first novel in the entirety of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise that actually delves deep into what makes the Astropaths tick, even going so far as to give us juicy details of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and we actually see how the the spider-web of telepathic messages are transmitted on and off Terra.
To be honest, at times the first half of the novel is bogged down with details and background as the author sets up the stage for the inevitable conflict and it makes the novel feel like it is progressing far too slow. There is a wealth of further background information inherent here that is only implied and never explained. Which is fine, otherwise the novel could easily have been half as big again. But, it is not enough to make you put the novel down for Graham’s style just makes you want to keep on reading.
Well except for one of the two pre-prologues. It raises a lot of questions that go largely unanswered and are glossed over. This scene’s placement in the novel is really an odd one, and I believe that had it been omitted from the final manuscript, the novel would have suffered nothing. The scene just doesn’t have any impact on the rest of the novel.
The second half is the explosive half of the novel, wherein the plot goes from strength to strength, introducing to us concepts most people would have never considered or thought about and that make the plot seem like it has a magic of its own.
Kai Zulane is our unwitting hero here, the genius astropath who was once the pride of the Telepathica but is forced to become a hunted man through the depths of Terra. He is joined in this run for his life by a mismatch group of renegade Astartes who have been declared traitor by association with their respective legions.
The Outcast Dead is about betrayal, guilt, truth and sacrifice, not necessarily in that order. And Graham McNeill has handled it all beautifully. The novel is full of esoteric concepts that some people have wanted to know about for years but had no avenue to explore. It also builds up on the concepts introduced in other novels, such as A Thousand Sons and Nemesis while also cross-connecting to the other novels in the series through the main characters reminiscing about characters such as Vespasian, Skraal, Constantin Valdor, Amon Tauromachian, and many others. Not to mention referencing some of the events from other novels and even showing us startling glimpses of these from other perspectives. I will leave off mentioning these because they are just too powerful as spoilers.
The style, as I have said, is something that builds upon those introduced in novels like A Thousand Sons and Mechanicum, and it does seem at times to be somewhat heavy-handed, but the dramatic conclusion of the plot and the journey to that climax easily excuse these hiccups. And that is mostly because the references are not jarring, they are just alien to a degree because we are seeing a side of Terra that has never been explored before, getting only brief screen-time in short stories such as Blood Games.
When a certain galaxy-changing event happens during the course of the novel, one of two as it were, Graham has turned to the madness of Mechanicum to really show us how devastating of an impact this event has on the civilians of Terra, and their guardians.
What is jarring though, is Graham’s naming convention. Actually no. It is not the convention but the names he actually uses. He uses the same name twice in the novel for vastly different characters and also reuses a name that he gave to a sub-faction in his novel Mechanicum. It kind of ruined the fun of the climax for me to see this.
EDIT: After having talked briefly with Graham regarding the names, I take back the statement since his reasoning was totally sound, and this was as intentional on his part. On reflection, I actually like his approach.
Other than that, there really is no fault with the novel. As said before, it really only goes from strength to strength, with the chilling scene when the astropaths receive the most dreaded message from half a galaxy away, a character long-thought dead returning to the stage, the Emperor as we have never seen before, the working of the Astropaths from their City of Sight (how bloody ironic is that name?) and more besides.
Whether you are a Horus Heresy addict, or someone who loves the life of an Astropath and wants to know more about them, or someone who wants to know how Terra was before the inevitable Siege and the death of the Emperor, or just cannot resist the Astartes, this novel is for you. It is not one you should be missing out on any time soon. It is definitely right up there in the top-tier novels of the Horus Heresy. Missing out on this book is like missing out on an experience of a lifetime. This novel is so begging for a sequel.
Been a while since I last blogged (again) so apologies (again). It’s been quite hectic around here what with real life taking over completely for a while and a trip to India for a festival. That trip incidentally marks a full year where I have attended every single major festival and attended every single major family event after a full TEN years. That’s crazy I tell you.
Anyhow, moving on, let’s catch up with what I’ve been doing since my last post.
Chapter 6 (clicky) of my Warhammer 60,000 piece, Sons of Corax, is now up on the Bolthole, so yay me! Took me only about ages to get it done! Some interesting revelations in it, plus I name-drop an old, old Warhammer 40,000 character that I have actually quite liked reading about recently. With the soup of ideas related to the setting that my mind keeps cooking on an hourly basis, he just might become a major character down the line.
LordLucan continues his epic 60k storyline with some awesome new additions in Age of Dusk. The sheer epicness of these two pieces is beyond words. Mysteries solved, mysteries discovered, great battles, the sheer scope of things!
I am still slowly working my way through Prospero Burns and Fall of Damnos. I just plain don’t have any fascination at all for the way Dan Abnett has portrayed the Space Wolves. Far too sophisticated and ‘mysterious’. Blergh. Can I just get William King to write me some good Space Wolf stuff please, Christian? I can get you some nice cake if you do it! Fall of Damnos seems ok so far, not off-putting it all, just… different from the norm. Big things are yet to happen here.
As of officially this morning, I have finished listening to Garro: Oath of Moment (Horus Heresy) and Fireborn (Warhammer 40,0000: Salamanders) and of the two, I far prefer the former over the latter by a margin the size of the US national debt. Toby Longworth has done the voiceover for both but the ‘quality’ is far greater in GOaM than Fireborn. GOaM has a far better plot, far better believable dialogue, far better sound effects, far better tension, far better everything. Fireborn just falls flat in comparison, which is a shame since I really like Nick Kyme’s Salamander novels. The voices of the five Firedrakes are all just too similar and with the added ‘effects’ of them at times speaking through helmets, sometimes I can barely hear what the heck they are saying. Not to mention the cop-out with no female voice-actors by making the Sororitas featured belonging to an order of mute warrior-maidens, which smacks of Sisters of Silence background.
However, I have the excellent Garro: Legion of One (Horus Heresy) and Raven’s Flight (Horus Heresy) waiting for me. I am really excited about RF since it features my favourite primarch and legion (if that wasn’t really obvious to any of you). I also have Helion Rain (Warhammer 40,000: Raven Guard) waiting, and I am cautiously optimistic about it. We shall see how that one goes. I shall keep you all updated on it.
Did I mention that I am also in the middle of reading A Game of Thrones? I finally was able to pick it up this past weekend when I was coming back from India, got it cheap at the airport. Really excited about this and it has been good so far, nearly as good as the TV show was (yes I know the TV show came second). Its interesting to see the differences between the TV version and the book version of this, and there are quite a few. So far, GRRM has not disappointed.
I mentioned that I play Lord of Ultima a while back, and just to keep my readers who also play that updated, I finally hit King today, and it’s been a rough ride getting here. The main obstacle so far has been getting enough damn gold and I already have two pure gold cities and am raiding almost non-stop with my troops to bring in the dough! I am definitely going to have to make at least one more.
Score: 282,856 Rank: 440 W: 19 Title: King Cities: 45+1
And as regards my work over at 24FPS, the long-promised review for Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is almost done and should be up by tomorrow night at the latest. So keep an eye out for that peeps.
For those are going there this year, I will also be attending Games Day UK 2011 in Birmingham so hope to see lots of people there! It’s gonna be a fun few days meeting a lot of the Bolthole people and others. Not to mention picking up some really juicy BL offerings and hopefully seeing something about FW’s next IA book. I already have a damn long list of books I wanna pick up on the day of and some of those are a real must to get!