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?