In recent years, Black Library has taken to the short story and novella formats with abundant enthusiasm, as evidence by their fiction release schedules since 2012. Bit by bit, the publisher has shifted focus from the mainstream novel format to the shorter ones, and while I don’t find that to be a healthy change at all, we have at least seen quite a lot of good stuff in both these formats, which is good enough for me, for now. It does mean however that my reading lists have gotten bigger and bigger, but that’s something to be managed in time
In an effort to catch up with the vast volume of short stories and novellas released by Black Library in the last couple years, I’ve recently started moving through them one at a time. The most recent short story I’ve read from them is The Devine Adoratrice, which first appeared in the event-exclusive anthology Horus Heresy: Imperial Truth and was then released as a digital download. It is a prologue to Graham McNeill’s latest Horus Heresy novel, Vengeful Spirit, and it focuses on mortal character that go on to become important characters in the novel. My first reaction to the short story, when I was done with it, was rather lukewarm but going through the audiobook of Vengeful Spirit right now, details are popping out at me, and my appreciation has risen significantly.
Games Workshop’s Space Hulk, a Warhammer 40,000 tabletop classic has recently seen a new lease on life. The game is being brought back for a new generation of players, and to accompany the release of the game itself, Black Library recently put out a quartet of short stories and even a novella focusing on the core concept of the game: Space Marine Terminators fighting off against a Tyranid infestation in space. From what I can tell, the re-release has been received very positively, as well as it should, given the place that Space Hulk has in Warhammer 40,000 tabletop gaming history.
Two of the stories released (so far) are The Black Pilgrims by Guy Haley and Sanguis Irae by Gav Thorpe. The former focuses on a small force of Black Templars led by Castellan Adelard, while the latter focuses on an equally small force of Blood Angels led by Brother-Librarian Calistarius. I didn’t quite like The Black Pilgrims as much as I did Sanguis Irae and I didn’t even really know about the whole shared theme thing until I read through them, but I will say that both stories are fun nonetheless, and they serve to highlight an aspect of Warhammer 40,000 that seems to not get as much narrative attention as it should, truly.
Black Library started its trend of micro-shorts back in 2012 and it is something that has really caught on since. With a word-length ranging from 1,000-2,000 words, these shorts are great teasers for various characters and events within Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Dan Abnett kicked off the 2012 Black Library Advent Calendar with his Inquisition short story Born To Us, which I loved since it satisfied my desire to read more Eisenhorn, a character I love dearly.
In light of The Founding Fields currently suffering some major site issues, I’m going to be reposting my reviews from the site to the blog, so enjoy away!
The original review can be found here.
Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names, which is the first book in his flintlock military fantasy series The Shadow Campaigns, is one of my favourite reads of 2014 so far. It presents a bold new world, adds to the flintlock fantasy genre, and has some great characters, not to mention a great story of course. With the sequel, The Shadow Throne, supposed to be coming later this year in late summer, the wait to get back into this world is long of course, but fortunately I had a short story to tide me over. Released last year (on both Amazon and still available for free on geek site io9), the short story presents some new characters, but adds to the overall setting, and that is the charm of it.
In The Penitent Damnedi, we meet Alex, a thief in the Vordanai capital Vordan City. She is a completely different character to those that I read about in The Thousand Names, but she is no less impressive than either of them. She has some… special abilities, entirely fitting with the world that Django created in The Thousand Names, and the use of these powers and what follows from there is the driving force behind this short story. And we see some more, bigger, characters too, such as the Last Duke, who was a major behind-the-scenes villain of The Thousand Names. So, the setup for this story is pretty good!
Its been ages since I’ve read any Black Library short stories. I used to read them quite religiously up until January of this year, but then it all just kind of fell off since I was focusing far more on reading novels, whether from Black Library or any other publisher. A couple weeks ago, I started to go through some of the recently released short stories, and by “recently released” I mean the last eight months. And I was intimidated by how many had been released in this window.
However, the ones that really caught my eye were the three short stories that featured the Eldar and told the three-stage tale of the Carnac Campaign. Written by Joe Parrino, Graeme Lyon and Rob Sanders, these short stories proved to be among the best of the format that I’ve read over the years from Black Library. Nightspear, Sky Hunter, and Spirit War each tells us a different aspect of the Carnac Campaign, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of them.
Discovering authors through Twitter was the grand theme of this year, and last. Some of the best fiction I read this year was a result of that discovery and I’m really glad that things worked out so well, since most of these authors came highly recommended from bloggers I followed at the time, or their interactions on social media were always entertaining and professional and something I could learn from. Michael J. Sullivan is one such author and his Riyria Revelations novels are some of my favourite fantasy novels, because they are tales without the super-complex adventures that have become the norm in mainstream fantasy. Michael offers this prequel short story as a freebie to promote his books and it was my first taste of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater, two of the most charming rogues I’ve read about, period.
I love Warhammer Fantasy more than any other shared fantasy world(s) I’ve read to date. It’s a wonderfully complex world with the typical high fantasy archetypes that I’ve come to love over the years, combined with a really dark and brutal stance to it that is unique in its own way. And Josh Reynolds is an author that I’m coming to think very highly of since he is one of those authors who can grab your attention right off the bat and hold it through to the end. He has only recently started writing in the Warhammer Fantasy setting and everything that I’ve read of his works so far, I’ve been quite impressed with, this flash fiction for Black Library’s Advent Calendar 2012 being no exception.
Black Library has kicked off another holiday season with their 2012 Advent Calendar. Last year they unveiled a new artwork, this year they are releasing a single short story, usually about a 1,000 words although some in the past have gone quite a bit over that limit, a day, covering both the Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Warhammer 40,000 product lines. Among the first batch of stories is Binding, by new author Ray Harrison, writing about a lone Imperial Fists Sergeant.
At the end of January, on the last day to be exact, I did a blogpost about how the month had gone for me writing and reading wise. The plan at that time was to do that at the end of every month. But as it turned out, due to some extenuating circumstances such as two international trips and some other stuff (mostly work), I wasn’t able to knock out the February report. So I’m lumping it here together with the March report. Enjoy!
So the month is coming to an end and, in all honesty, it has been quite the ride in terms of both my reading and writing. As I mentioned in my end of December blogpost here, I had certain writing goals in mind that I was going to be sticking to for the new year and when I wrote everything down, my writing goals were quite ambitious. Later on, I posted here about my reading goals for the year as well and these two were equally ambitious, if not more so. Given that the first month is about to end, I thought I’d take the time to review those goals and see where I am currently in accomplishing those goals.
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?
So. Two days to go. Games Day United Kingdom 2011.
It is going to rock!
And what’s more, I am going! Hell yeah I am! I have my plane tickets, I have my hotel reservation, I have some local currency. A shopping list of books I wanna get.
And I am definitely prepared to have a ton of fun with all of the Boltholers who are going to be showing up for the event. Although, it appears so far that I am the only one coming from out of country.
The twin Black Library seminars, a “Writing For” and “Art of”, are going to be so much fun, I have no idea how to tell you all about it.
I have still not heard back regarding any of the 5 short stories I submitted during the Spring Submissions Window, and to be honest, I am resigned to the fact that I probably will not. It’s just been too long. There is less than a week left for their 8-week notification time too.
Hence, I am excited that BL is going to be having an area set aside at Games Day where we can submit some new short story ideas. For more information, just check out their latest blog post, which you can find here.
I already have two nice ideas regarding the Invictors and a Blood Angels successor chapter. The Invictors have already seen some time in the limelight as I submitted a short story about them for the submissions window. The Blood Angels idea is totally rocking, if I do say so myself. I feel it really captures the “grimdark” nature of Warhammer 40,000. Victory is not always the victory you hope for and all that jazz as they say.
In other news, Ch10 of Sons of Corax just got posted to the Bolthole. So definitely check that out. The last two chapters (which includes this one) have been mammoth additions to this ongoing project, and I have really had a blast writing the action scenes in there. I am told by reliable sources that the beginning and end of Ch9 is particularly awesome.
I am hoping to do some kind of a breakdown of Sons of Corax soon enough on the blog. Mostly I shall be talking about how the idea came about and how I’ve managed to write so much in such a short time! I am loving this project.
Sadly, my Star Wars/40k crossover fanfic is still in its development stage. Haven’t had much time to work on it, given some real life commitments and working on Sons of Corax.
Not to mention the awesomeness that is Space Marine. I have only played the demo so far and I am really liking the combat mechanics and the gameplay in general. I shall have the full game soon enough. Expect a review on that soon-ish.
Talking of reviews, I posted two movie reviews on 24FPS this past week. The first one is Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, which is my third review in the DC Animated Universe Film Reviews Spotlight. The second one is Captain America: The First Avenger (3D). Do check them out!
Given my novel-related haul at Games Day, I shall have a fair bit of pre-release novels in my hands pretty soon. And I have decided that I am going to review them as and when I finish them. Time to branch out the blog to more than just rambling about 40k and writing :)
So yeah, that’s all that. I fly off to London in roughly 24 hours from now.