I've been slow at updating this blog because I've been busy working on the new book. Lots of progress has been made. I'm not at 89,000 words. I originally thought the book would be about 120,000 words long but it may well be a bit more than that. I was also hoping to finish it by the end of the month but again that might not be possible. I'm having good days writing but (according to Scrivener) I need to clock in about 1800 words a day to do that and that's a lot for me.
The Emirates Festival of Literature was taking place here over the last few weekends here in Dubai. They had so many good authors giving talks and workshops. I attended a talk by Kathy Reichs of Bones fame, Frank Gardner, and Simon Scarrow (with a surprisingly small audience).
I also attended a thriller writing workshop by Eric Van Lustbader - a massive thrill for me because he was probably the first adult author that I fell in love reading when I was in my early teens. I got my dog-eared copies of his Sunset Warrior trilogy signed. He talked about structure and how important that is to thrillers. I've always struggled planning books but I think that's because I didn't really understand the mechanics behind good structure. With the new book, I've used ideas from John Yorke's Into The Woods to plan with and it was so much easier (and made the book better). With Eric's comments too, I've been tweaking things slightly as well. I'll never be a massive outline guy, but having those beat written down are super helpful. To think I've written books in the past where I had no idea where I was going with it!
The next day I went to a workshop with Eric's wife, Victoria Lustbader. Her talk was called From Idea To Submission. In retrospect, it was a bit too much to cover in 2 hours but again, it was so useful and set the old mind bombs off. She was super inspirational, especially when talking about the importance of Theme to your book. She said a book without a theme was a book without a soul. Again, with the new book, I'm really glad that I have a theme (a first!) - let's see if it makes a difference.
Finally, I had a fifteen minute session with Jonathon Lloyd, Chairman of uber agents, Curtis Brown. I'd sent him the first chapter of the new book to read and had my "pitch" all ready. I was apprehensive because I'd heard he was a bit of a tough cookie but I needn't have worried. He was super-complimentary of my writing and did my ego no end of good. He did say unfortunately he didn't rep fantasy so he couldn't help me more than that but, to be honest, that was more than enough.
Like any creative, I have ups and downs about my work. I can love the book I'm writing one minute and want to give up the next. Experience has told me to enjoy the highs and work through the lows. But compliments of any kind are always welcome.