Happy new year everyone! I hope you had a fantastic holiday period and haven't broken your resolutions just yet. (Yes, you over there with that half-eaten packet of cookies - I can see you. And I won't tell, if you share.)
As for me, I haven't made any resolutions, but I have got a plan for the year. January finds me in a brand new situation; I'm working on multiple projects at once! Not only am I about to turn Bovine Intervention: A Lawnmowers, Inc. Sequel over to my editor for some much needed perspective, I'm also making headway with two new books.
I'm pleased to announce that work has begun on the next book in the series. It's tentatively titled Herd Mortality: A Lawnmowers Inc. Finale. But DON'T PANIC! Note that I've specified "a finale" as opposed to "the finale". Herd Mortality marks the end of this particular sequence. But Lawnmowers, Inc. is almost certainly coming back for one more, slightly different book after this. I think it's too easy to spin a series out for loads of volumes where nothing really changes and the stakes are too low. I'd rather keep the story arc tighter, offer some serious closure, and start fresh with a brand new dynamic in Book 4.
So alongside wrapping up the first phase of the Lawnmowers, Inc. series, I'm also (slowly) working on a brand-new, unrelated project. This untitled book is a sci-fi comedy about a bungled invasion of Earth - from the perspective of the invader. She's cranky, clumsy, incompetent and very goal-oriented. She's also driven by the looming threat of student loans. This one's a way off yet and it's likely I'll be shopping it around to agents in the far future rather than self-publishing it. But it will almost certainly exist in some form. Eventually.
In other news, I've just finished beta-reading a manuscript from my friend Adam. His novel The Ash Circus is almost like a YA re-imagining of Vanity Fair - the story of two teens caught up in a social media scandal, threaded with the dangers of celebrity and unexpected romance. It was a really fluid and enjoyable read - I got through it in about three days, lightning-fast by my standards - and I'm hoping to hear some big news the novel one day soon. Definitely one to watch. Check out the links below if you want to keep up to date with his work:
Adam's Twitter / Adam's Blog
I always offer beta-reading to fellow writers, not only because we have to look out for our own kind, but because it actually improves my own critical eye when it comes to re-writing my own work. In spotting the sorts of things other writers often do, I'm more likely to pick up on patterns in my own work that need to be ironed out. I fully recommend that every writer attempts this once or twice. If you're reading this and you've hit a dead end with your writing, try asking a friend if you can work on their novel for a bit instead. It might just loosen your brain up.
Last but not least - book recommendation. I got a copy of Satoshi Kon's Opus for Christmas and I read it in one sitting. Kon is better known for his films but his manga, Opus, offers a glimpse into his work as a writer and illustrator before becoming a director. I was stunned to discover that, although the manga was famously unfinished, after Kon's death, an ending of sorts was discovered among his papers. So this edition is pretty much the one to get - and I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty emotional to read the notes from Kon, and to be reminded that his contributions to the world of manga and cinema are complete.
That's all from me until next month. As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via the form on my website, or on Twitter and Facebook. Whether you're a reader, a fellow writer or a stranger who ended up here by accident and you're not quite sure what's going on, thanks for reading!