Indecision: a continuation

This post continues to explore a few publishing possibilities. I have about ten options in mind, out of hundreds, and the options seem to change as something ‘new’ catches my eye. By new, I often mean a story that I started a long time ago and am still writing.

The last post ended with a paranormal story, about a young man and his relationship with one of this ghosts in his newly inherited run-down mansion. Paranormal is a genre I have started writing more of, but not in the horror sense. Every story still comes down stronger on the romance side.

The story option this post starts with also deals with a ghost.

Fletcher

This particular story is only a couple of years old and it’s only been in recent months that I’ve really started writing it. As yet, it’s untitled.

Fletcher’s brother is killed in a car crash. Several months later this dead kid starts texting him. Understandably, that doesn’t put Fletcher in a good headspace. Worse is that Gabe says it wasn’t a simple accident, and that he didn’t cause it. He wants Fletcher to uncover the truth.

Fletcher agrees, of course, but finds himself uncovering a brother that he really never knew. Struggling with that knowledge, Fletcher also has to deal with growing feelings for a young man who’s in the same game that Gabe was.

Compared to the other option, this story is only a quarter through. However, it does seem to be easier to work on. Fletcher and Shylo are a hoot as they try to sort out how they feel for each other. I have no idea what could have killed Gabe (a clear toxicity report and no random injuries) but he’s insistent he didn’t cause the accident. It’s a mystery I have to clear up as much as Fletcher! It’s set in New Zealand, though the actual location is currently unknown.

Of all the options, this story is the one that would take the longest to finish.

Couldn’t believe he’d picked up his brother’s phone instead of his own. Sinking to the bed, he found himself replying to the last text with, Gabe?

Almost instantly came Hey kid, u r usually quickr

‘It’s fucking two in the morning,’ Fletcher growled out first and then texted I was asleep.

Then This phone is dead. It probably could have been fixed but what was the point? And Fletcher still didn’t know why he’d even accepted it. As a memento it was a dumb one.

Yeah well so am I came back, followed by Kinda weird but hey. How r you?

Fletcher looked at the letters and words. Gabe had often been spare in his text but fast, but the speed at which these texts were coming in and the length surprised him. You’re not actually texting, are you?

No. R u?

That was more like Gabe. Fletcher grimaced. Yeah, on a dead phone. I’m dreaming

No, ur not Flitt. I hope anyway

Fletcher kind of hoped he was because this was too weird, and too painful. A dream at least he could let go once awake.

Love is Complicated

Before I’d even published Threatening Sky, this story was the original contender for being next. It’s about the terrible power of love, and how it can blind a person to reality.

It’s violent and difficult and complicated. Joshua’s boyfriend is abusive but Joshua is in love and will not see how serious the issue is. That is, until he meets Gale and starts to truly realise that his relationship is not normal.

But there’s no on/off switch for loving someone, and Joshua’s torn between Shaun and Gale. Unfortunately, it will take something extreme for him to fully cut Shaun out of his life. And, by then, he may have lost Gale too.

No one really wants to admit they enjoy writing dark things, however I find themfairly easy to write. Somehow, the darker, deeper, angrier feelings are easier to get across. In any case, I also wanted this story to show that it’s not easy for someone in an abusive relationship to get out of it. I’d probably been reading too many ‘nice’ things when this idea popped up.

The story is about two-thirds complete, although it currently weighs in at less than 40,000 words. I can’t really even call it a novel! There’s a gaping hole in the middle, so it reads like a tale of two halves. However, I know what’s supposed to be there: a focus on Joshua’s growing ‘something’ with Gale and the loosening of Shaun’s grip on him. Both of these things lead to that ‘something extreme’ I spoke of earlier.

My bowling wasn’t monumentally crap. After six ends, twenty-one was better than usual though not fantastic given the scores going up around me from my friends and in the other lanes. I picked up my green eleven-pound ball.

‘Hey, can I offer a tip?’

The question came from a decently hot young man standing a few feet away. His hands were in his pockets in what seemed an almost hesitant gesture. I snorted. ‘I’ve already got it. Don’t give up my day job, right?’

He gave a sudden grin. ‘Well, yeah, but I meant a real tip.’

Considering he’d been bowling strikes more often than not in the next lane I couldn’t be offended. ‘Sure.’

‘Right.’ He came forward. ‘So I’ve been watching you a while.’

I reddened, hoped he didn’t notice. Entertainment for others was a whole different kettle of fish to providing amusement for my friends.

‘You’re throwing gutter balls because you twist your wrist just as you release the ball.’ He demonstrated.

‘Oh.’

‘That sends the ball in the direction you’ve aimed,’ he said. ‘If you keep your wrist straight, you’ll bowl straight.’

Biting down on my lip kept my amusement back. I wondered if he’d heard himself. Maybe he didn’t realise he was talking about straight wrists to a gay boy.

‘Give me your ball.’

I cracked a grin, couldn’t help it. A brow rose a second as if he wondered about backing away, but then I held out my bowling ball. He grinned and took it from me, slotted his fingers where mine had been.

Five Hours

I hesitate to tell people I write gay fiction because you can practically see their thoughts: oh, you write porn. What the hell? Gay fiction does not equal porn. However… hot gay fiction (which does seem just hooking up physcially with a bit of a story) is incredibly well-selling so it’s not to be sneezed at.

Five Hours is kind of in-between. There is no sex, but it’s erotic and it’s supposed to be. It also has a plot–one of the few where I actually knew what was supposed to happen right from the start! That makes this one of the better options to publish. It’s all but complete, it’s hot, and it’s short.

The current title relates to a particular time-frame set within the story. Alex has to spend five hours (one a day, generally) with the Prince of Albany learning various things (I’m not giving the plot away!). In return, he’ll receive the Prince’s real name, needed for an article he has to write.

Names always have power, and the Prince has kept his identity secret for many years. He’s not just going to give it over to some straight kid who comes asking for it because it’s needed for a writing-group initiation. He’s going to ensure Alex earns the right to know his real name.

Leighton Hall’s writers are head-hunted all over the country, so earning a place in the group is Alex’s ticket out of town and away from a domineering father. But is his desire to join the group strong enough to get him through what’s coming? Or will he give in to his father who has forcefully forbidden him any contact with the members of the Jardinian Gardens?

I’m actually leaning towards a different title to this story, one which brings it a bit more in line with the actual ‘type’ that it is. In general, this novella is all but complete. I’m mostly struggling with not making it longer! I suspect it might have an epilogue, the first I’ve ever written.

The Prince sipped from his glass, watching me over it, and all my nerves started pinging. He asked how the article was coming along.

I strove to keep his gaze. ‘Minimally.’

He smiled and put the glass down. ‘Let’s see how tonight goes.’

I prickled all over. There was no dinner to take up the hour this time, and my heart went back to hammering my ribs. I had to hold my glass in both hands so the trembling wasn’t overt.

I almost dropped it when the Prince took it out of my hands. For a moment I regretted not sculling the wine. He set the glass on the table with his, then turned back to me. ‘Stand up.’

Somehow I managed to be both hesitant and panicked and if the Prince hadn’t grabbed me I’d have tripped. My face heated and for a bare moment my eyes stung with embarrassment.

As he let me go he said, ‘Alex, relax, I’m not going to hustle you down that end of the room.’

The bed end.

‘We’re going to be working this way.’ He turned me slightly.

That’s when I noticed the large draped object.

‘Mirror,’ he said, walking to it. ‘As large as the rest of this place, but it helps with tonight’s lesson.’

‘Lesson?’

He nodded. ‘Come over here.’ He crooked a finger and I moved like he was reeling me in. He motioned where I should stand and then asked if I’d ever looked at myself in the mirror naked.

Bitter Sweet

This is a story about a vampire who doesn’t want to be one. Even though Lysais is incredibly powerful (his converter lived in the time of Augustus) he resents the conversion and how it shatters his dreams.

This incomplete novel is sitting at over 200,000 words, rivalling the Watching Clouds series for sheer size. To gain some control, it has been cut into four parts that each deal with a specific moment in Lysais’s life. Each one will probably end up about 70,000 each.

Bitter Sweet is one of the few non-gay pieces that I’m writing. There are gay elements but Lysais isn’t gay himself. Romance runs through the latter parts and has to survive some dark times, including several attempts on Lysais’s live (by humans and vampires).

As Lysais fights for the life that he had, the life that he has, and the life that he wants, he finds out who his friends are and just how much of a key resilience is to his survival. He must also come to terms with the fact the resented conversion has in fact saved his life.

This piece below comes from the first book, currently subtitled New Lysais.

‘Three days after you were converted you stepped in front of a train and tried to kill yourself.’ A statement, not a question.

An answer came anyway. ‘Yes.’

‘We didn’t find you until six days later,’ Samuel said. ‘How did you survive?’

A shrug of the shoulders with a head shake, then Lysais murmured he’d drunk from his wrist when he’d been able to move.

‘The thing is, Lysais,’ Alexander said gently, hiding his shock. ‘When we found you, you were only nine days old. Granted an immortal, but none of us can recall a new conversion surviving such severe injuries alongside deprivation of blood.’

‘I haven’t lied.’ The whisper was directed at twined fingers. ‘Nine days before that I had a life. I was going to see a scholarships officer and…’ Next thing Lysais was sobbing into his hands.

The councillors regarded each other. No one expressed doubt about the veracity of the tale; they all heard and felt this young vampire’s distress. Richmond swore softly. ‘I don’t know that Caleb will like this. The converter could still be foreign.’

‘He spoke English,’ Lysais stated, straightening and striving for control.

‘I meant foreign as in simply not being a part of our community,’ Richmond explained, tried a reassuring smile. ‘Would you recognise him if you saw him again?’ If they didn’t realise what the loss of colour on the youngster’s face meant, the accompanying expression made it clear: I never want to see him again. Just the sort of reaction to convince Richmond there was a great deal more to this conversion.

Where to go from here.

I feel like the eight stories highlighted over these two posts represent the ‘best bets’ for publishing. I just don’t know how to narrow them down to one.

Perhaps I don’t have to. Maybe I just go ahead and say ‘these are the next in line’ (in any order) and get serious about all of them? They all have work to do, and Fletcher’s story needs a title, but I know they will all be satisfying to work on. And all satisfying to see published.

Hopefully a later post will detail progress!

Indecision: what do I publish next?

It’s been six months since I published Threatening Sky. I still don’t know what to publish next. And it’s not like I don’t have many, many stories to pick from. I’ve hundreds, but every time I think I’ve decided another story catches my eye instead.

I understand the logic that says to sell books you have to publish books. That book two sells book one, etc. My problem is that even though I want to publish books I’m not really doing it to sell them. Yes, dumb given I want to make some money from the process.

I guess I’m still writing for me, and therefore that I’m publishing for me. And that’s the issue. My whole drive was about publishing Owen and Andrew’s story. Now that those two books are published, my drive is “parked”. I’m still writing and I’m doing a lot of editing, but I am no closer to deciding on what to focus on next than I was last year.

How do I decide? Do I work on the story….

  • that is closest to actually having a complete draft?
  • that I enjoy writing the most?
  • that needs least work (in terms of editing/sorting out)?
  • that actually has a plot?
  • where the character is shouting the loudest for my attention?

The Contenders

Although it may sound like I have absolutely no clue as to what to focus on, I actually do. There are about ten options I’m considering. I’ve decided to list them here (in no real order), each with a scene.

Perhaps you might let me know what you choose.

Watching Clouds – behind the scenes

Mackerel Sky and Threatening Sky were both so long in their creation that there are thousands of words that never ended up in the final novels. Some have never even actually been typed up!

This particular ‘book’ would be showing my processes from beginning to end, and looking at both stories. After all, they were once one giant story. I want to show how the novels happened, as well as talk about how the characters changed and how the themes and plot were fleshed out. I also want to reveal some of the “life” that isn’t in either book, and show some things that couldn’t be.

It’s “complete” in that all the bits and pieces are just waiting for me to ceate something comprehensive and sensible. I think my issue will be in deciding what to leave out! What would you like to see in such a book?

This particular scene is a couldn’t from Threatening Sky.

After a short silence Andrew asked if Sarah’s parents knew.

‘No, and she doesn’t want to tell them just yet.’

‘They’ll react badly?’ he asked.

‘We’re sixteen,’ I growled before I could stop myself. ‘How do you think they’ll react?’

Andrew shifted a little and I felt Owen staring at me but I refused to look his way. I rubbed at my face and then said revealed something about mine and Sarah’s relationship. ‘Her parents already think we’re too serious. They keep saying we should take a breather. They’re not gonna be too pleased to find out just how serious.’

‘Was it planned?’ Andrew’s voice held faint surprise.

‘Of course, it wasn’t planned,’ I cried. ‘What the fuck?’

‘Hey,’ Owen warned beside me.’

‘Well, it was a dumb thing to ask,’ I said.

‘Not from where I sit, Jamie,’ Andrew said calmly.

I scowled at him, and then found myself sagging into the couch. ‘It wasn’t planned. We’re serious about each other, but not that serious.’

‘Gonna have to be now,’ Owen muttered.

If only looks could kill.

‘And how is Sarah?’ Andrew asked. ‘Did you just hear from her this morning? Is she coming over?’

‘No, she’s not coming over,’ I said, pulling myself up straight again. ‘And I haven’t talked to her today. She told me last night,’ I added when Andrew cocked his head.

Obsidian Sky

Obsidian Sky is book three of the Watching Clouds series. It’s sad and dark, but I’ve loved writing it. Ah, that makes me sound bad. In a nutshell, it’s about how Owen copes after Andrew’s sudden death.

Sergeant Morrison steps up to become a first-person narrator alongside Owen and Jamie, and it’s been interesting to write from his side. He’s still (generally) letting Owen get his way.

This particular novel is about two-thirds written. It has characters who were cut from being intro’d in Threatening Sky as well as settings that are no longer valid for a direct follow-on. I didn’t do that consciously just so I could never publish this particular part. That does mean, however, that it would be an odd-bod because I need to use those old settings. It is, though, the novel currently sitting highest in my ‘finish and publish’ list.

I’ve lost count of how many hours I’ve spent watching clouds. I did it often when I was upset or stressed, less when I had Andrew. Though, occasionally I’d make him lie back in the grass and cloud-gaze too. Since his death I’m back to cloud watching all the time; in our backyard, out the window of his John Hancock apartment or—today anyway—lying beside his grave.

I’m not supposed to be here. In the sixty-seven days since Andrew’s death I’ve only been grave-side three times. The first time—at the burial—I climbed in on the casket when they gave me a final ten minutes to say good bye, and the third time I’d made the Senior Sergeant I’d been staying with bring me in the middle of the night so I could be absolutely sure my dad wasn’t digging up Andrew’s grave like I’d dreamed. My dad’s in Stateville, but I’d insisted anyway.

Rybourne

Ragen finds himself, by a twist of fate, the owner of an old country mansion, Rybourne. Going from a flat the size of a shoe box to a house that has a ballroom, a grand staircase, and a stinking big chandelier in the foyer isn’t the only shock he has to cope with. Rybourne has ghosts–a brother and sister.

Ragen’s in his element, exploring the house, and eventually stumbles upon a skeleton. It turns out to be Arcady’s, and Ragen learns the ghosts’ stories, finds out that Arcady can become solid, and learns the handome young ghost has an even ‘darker’ secret.

This is a romance first and foremost, rather than a ghost story. Ragen and Arcady begin an odd sort of relationship that first has to get around Ragen deciding if he is actually gay or not. It also has to cope with the fact that it suddenly seems as if Ragen is re-living Arcady’s life through a series of unfortunate events.

That last idea has really only come about recently. It’s because Rybourne is close to 100K words already and I’ve been thinking ‘what’s the plot?’ I write character-driven stories and sometimes they appear to have no plot other than a very tangled weave of relationships and romance. Having been through this issue with the two Sky novels I’m now far more aware of plot. Or, rather, not having one.

Rybourne is perhaps three-quarters written. It needs reworking to ensure the plot is actually clear. I enjoy reading and editing but it’s been a while since I wrote anything new.

Ragen sat on the stairs and contemplated the shambles on the floor. They’d swept up the glass so it was at least contained under the warped chandelier but he wasn’t sure how they’d get that outside. Even warped it wasn’t going to fit through the front door, at least not while they couldn’t get one side of it open. And he was bummed; he’d liked the chandelier. ‘Should be glad I got to see it once,’ he mumbled.

‘It didn’t go with this house.’

‘What didn’t go?’ Ragen responded before realising he was still physically alone in the foyer. He frowned, grumbled, ‘If you’re going to insult my house the least you could do is show yourself.’ In a normal world he’d have gone nowhere near those words but he’d sensed things, images, and the comment had come from somewhere.

Amidst the mess of glass and warped metal a figure formed – male, well dressed, young. The man gave a bow of his head and a tight-lipped smile. Ragen swallowed. ‘There was… is… a woman.’ He’d not heard her but the figure he’d half glimpsed earlier that day had seemed to be in skirts.

‘Yes,’ a female voice said beside him.

Ragen yelped now as the woman materialised, scampered down the remaining steps to the foyer, near the salon doorway. She was as pretty as the man was handsome. ‘My name is Carolyn, and that insulting rogue is my brother, Arcady.’ She indicated him and Ragen looked his way as he moved through the chandelier to stand at the bottom step. He said, ‘You thought it too, Caro.’

‘Yes, but manners, Arcady,’ she reproved him.

Nos Galan Gaeaf

On nos galan gaeaf (Halloween) twin brothers, Caerwyn and Hywel, get rid of a young man who used and abused their sister. Although Elen recovers from the odd shell she’d become, Caerwyn and Hywel are forced to deal with long-buried memories and secrets as a consequence of the death.

Relationships and how they can be both empowering and suffocating are a central theme of this novel. It’s also a romance, though that’s a tough road for Caerwyn because an abusive uncle is hautning him. Hywel’s doing his best to give support but he’s cracking under his own dark secret.

The twins are also demons. Pure blood, despite having a mortal mother. Their very specific bloodline puts them in danger from other demons, although I’m still working out the reasons for that (oh… the plot).

NGG weighs in at over 100K at the moment and it’s possibly only two-thirds complete. As with most of my writing, it just grew as the characters did their thing. Plot is a distant second to just writing! However, I’m slowly but surely figuring out just what this story is actually about and how everything ties together – the human and demon sides. It has already been edited and edited and edited, but… I’m not totally sure how to make it a rounded novel.

Yes, Caerwyn is crossdressing in this scene. The party they’re attending is a fancy dress, and they need to get Ifan’s attention somehow!

‘We’re not here to discuss how awesome Caerwyn looks as a girl,’ Hywel said. ‘But to discuss our sister.’

‘Remember her, Ifan?’ I asked.

‘No.’

He definitely did.

‘This very night,’ Hywel said. ‘A year ago. You took her innocence, broke her heart then threw her away.’

‘She was sixteen,’ I stated.

‘Bullshit!’ Ifan responded through gritted teeth, pressing his arm against his chest. ‘She wouldn’t have been at the party if she was sixteen.’

Henley Park’s party did have an age limit. We hadn’t realised Elen had even been aware of the event, even though she’d been mooning over Ifan. She’d been talking non-stop about a school party.

Hywel’s eyes narrowed. ‘She’s barely been herself since that night.’

‘How is that my fault?’

‘Because you caused it,’ I told him.

‘If me being with your sister, and she didn’t fight me, by the way, was such an issue why has it taken you so long to get me all alone?’ His sneer turned on me. ‘You just wanted an excuse—’

‘Wouldn’t go there, Ifan,’ Hywel cut him off.

Before I could speak, he added, ‘It took so long because today is a special day for Caer and me. The one day each year we can walk this earth in all our glory with impunity.’

I shook my head. Ever theatrical was my brother. ‘All Hallow’s Eve, Ifan, nos galan gaeaf. Do you know nothing beyond the gimmicks?’

‘What? Witches and demons and all that claptrap? That corset’s deprived you of oxygen.’

‘Somewhat true,’ I agreed, splaying a hand across my chest. ‘But that won’t help you. I am very, very hungry and there’s nobody around but you.’

‘Dare touch me, you deviant, and I…’

Hywel broke into laughter. ‘Keep up with the insults, Ifan, I’m enjoying the show.’ Then he switched to dead still, dead serious. ‘I expect your enaid is rotten, but we’ll take it anyway.’

‘You two are fucking morons,’ Ifan said.

‘Pot calling the kettle black,’ I murmured, and yawned so he got a fine view of my teeth.

Ifan looked a little bit uncertain after that, possibly realising that Hywel’s theatrics carried truth.

A decision yet?

Even writing about these four options has not made one of them jump up with waving arms. Perhaps the main contender is in part two?

Threatening Sky

I thought that getting Threatening Sky fit for publishing would be easy. After all, it was half written before I turned serious about it as a sequel.

The truth is, this novel was harder to write than Mackerel Sky. Not simply because it was the sequel. It was actually in bad shape: scattered, plot-holed, endless. I’m grateful to my writing coach for pointing out the issues. I wasn’t early on (which you’ll know if you’ve read the previous post) but I am now. Took her advice too, mostly.

The End

One of the main difficulties was finding an ending. One that would satisfy me and the characters.

Mackerel Sky and Threatening Sky used to be one big novel. And it didn’t end there. I’ve got the bones of books three and four, too. However, they’re not why I never had an explicit ending for this sequel. I simply hadn’t thought of ‘The End’ (or that this might one day bite me on the butt when I tried to publish).

In saying that, though, the novel has ended in much the same way as the long-ago original storyline did–with a new house. When I’d started getting serious about finishing, the writing coach saw a version which had no mention of a new, comfy place where Owen, and Andrew and the kids could live in peace.

After a couple of huge changes to the plot had twisted off other endings, I revisited the possibility of shifting house. I wanted Threatening Sky to end on a positive note after so much heartache, but not be so completely at odds with everything that had changed. In actual fact, shifting house tied in well with those changes and I’m very happy with how it’s come about.

I really had to force myself to stop writing about the house though! Everyone was very excited, but the novel was long enough already. For being such a ‘big’ part of the overall novel, it’s got the smallest ink-print.

Threatening Sky – got a cover, still writing the novel

I was all set to publish the sequel to my debut novel on April 5th. However, discussion with a writing coach left me feeling oddly side-swiped. and that date became far too soon.

Changing the date was the best thing to do. Stress rolled away just like that and I could “forget” about the novel for a couple of weeks. I say “forget” with quotes because it took at least three days before the characters quietened down and before I did too. Some of the coach’s suggestions had stupidly annoyed me but through that annoyance my brain was already working out how to action those suggestions. So I had to force myself to shut that down too; I really did need a break.

By this time, the cover creation was already in motion. I wanted to keep going with it because having the cover would hopefully invigorate my enthusiasm. I’d settled on a “threatening” sky (thanks, Mum), and chose a misty image of the John Hancock Building (it’ll always be this to me) on Michigan Ave to go with it. Fog rolling around skyscrapers is an eerie sight. Just the sort of image I wanted.

The cover, by the same wonderful designer of Mackerel Sky‘s cover, is now finalised and I’m really pleased to reveal it here.

This novel is so much darker than Mackerel Sky, and I wanted that reflected in the images just as much as the title. The peace, happiness, and love that Owen and Andrew had found sits on a knife edge this time. They’re going to have to put up a hell of a fight if they want to survive.

Threatening Sky is now due to be published for Kindle on June 27. Print later in the year.

Finding a Threatening Sky

I wanted to keep the sky theme for the sequel to Mackerel Sky, because originally these two novels were just one giant novel under the working title, Watching Clouds. That title because I love watching clouds and, naturally, so does the main character, Owen.

Up until the end of 2016, Watching Clouds was still going to be the title of the first book. It changed to the mackerel version because that cloud formation happens to be one of my favourites and it has a pivotal scene in the novel.

Threatening Sky came about as the sequel’s title to represent the darker nature of the story within. And, as with the mackerel sky, the threatening version plays a physical part too.

The Clouds

What I didn’t quite realise, when coming up with this title, was how hard it would be to find a sky that could be considered threatening. Or to articulate what ‘threatening’ meant to me. Big? Black? Streaky? Rainy? Flat? The following three images are top of my list at the moment, and they’re all rather different from each other.

Sky One

From 2016, this was taken on my way from Denver to Houston. Houston at the time had been suffering heavy storms and was dealing with the aftermath of floods. We skirted around this monster cloud, allowing me to see quite a lot of it. It’s totally gorgeous, but now that I’ve looked at it again, I can’t see that it’s threatening enough for a cover image (even if it was to have a change of colour).

Sky Two

Part of my daily commute consists of a beautiful coastal train journey, and I’ve taken countless photos of the sea and skies at dawn and at dusk. The view is different daily and I just love it. I like the grey/black of this photo (March 2018) but perhaps the peeking sun might rule it out of being considered threatening.

Sky Three

Ever since I told my mum what the title would be, she has been on the look out for threatening skies. She lives in an area that’s plains on one side and mountains on the other, and temperatures can be extreme. This particular photo was one of a series (December 2018) just before the storm arrived, and I really like it. It’s angry and patchy and promises rain.

The Full Cover

I envisage the cover taking the same format as Mackerel Sky because I want the pair of novels to be recognisable as a pair. So it’s all about clouds and Chicago.

However, because the John Hancock isn’t as significant as it was in the first novel, I don’t need such a close-up view of it. And, with the clouds I’m considering, I’m not sure that their threatening nature is visible enough when half the cover is of buildings.

When I visited Chicago in April/May this year, I walked along the wonderful waterfront trail. I did this because Owen walks there and I needed to see how far he could go from the downtown area and still see the John Hancock. Well, the building can be seen from Evanston, which is a perfect miracle for both novels. I have some good images of the building and general skyline from different distances that I think will work on the cover.

The novel, itself, is going through yet another edit/rewrite/reposition phase. (How many times can you reposition scenes? Turns out, a LOT.) Though I’m sure on the title and the general cover design, I won’t speak to my cover designer until nearer the end of January. The novel should be in a more stable position by then and I should have settled not only on the cloud image but also the novel’s blurb.

Threatening Sky will be published 5 April 2019.