Category Archives: My writing

2014 – a look ahead


Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers


I shall be aiming to participate in the usual #100kwords100days challenges (January and July, all things being equal) and also in NaNoWriMo 2014.

There is also a rather larger, tougher writing challenge – #milwordy. Those who are good at deciphering acronyms might realise that the challenge is to write 1,000,000 words during 2014. One. Million. Words. Two thousand, seven hundred and forty words a day. Every day.

I’m pretty sure I can do this. Typing isn’t a problem for me, and I have a stack of new project ideas ready to be lifted from obscurity. But my problem is one of producing stories which are good enough to go on to publish.

And that’s one of the downsides to rapid writing – the quality can, and sometimes does, suffer. Do I really need another million words of something-less-than-first-drafts, when I already have nearly 720,000 already sitting in Works In Progress? When doing my fast writing, I tell myself that I can add more character depth later, add a plot twist or a subplot later. And, I think, that leads me to be dissatisfied with my writing. It’s a conundrum. 


Anyway, I’ve been thinking, and I know what my major project will be this year, and that is to write a series of apocalyptic fiction novels, with a common main character taking the reader from small, local, everyman issues, up to global and international issues, and perhaps beyond.

I’m not going to do this alone. Oh no. I have a small army of previously-written concepts, which I’m going to use as fleshed-out plans for my 2014 writing. I have a character who struggles with politics and business (key themes for my End Of Civilization series), but on a very basic, local level.

He then moves onto to the national stage, moving in circles with people he used to watch on TV, tackling big international issues.

Then, he moves onto a global stage, where the challenges are bigger and the stakes are higher.

The final piece of the series bring him full circle, back to a very local level, dealing with personal issues, because he’s failed to resolve the mighty issues that challenged him in Book 3.

 Added to that (which is a big enough project on its own, I know) I will be trying to complete my collection of crime series. For marketing reasons, that might be written under a pseudonym, but we’ll see. All in all, it’s going to be a busy year.

 Happy New Year!


2013 – a look back, but not in anger



It’s been a bit of a mixed year for me.

On the positive side, I had two successful #100kwords100days challenges (January and July), and a successful NaNoWriMo. At the time of writing (December 30th), I’ve written 409,575 new words this year. Not all were fiction – the ‘rules’ of #100kwords100days allow for blog posts and planning to be included in word counts. But that’s still a good total for one year.

On the negative side, I didn’t publish anything this year.


One of my aims this year was to complete a selection of dark Christmas-related tales, and to publish them in time for the Christmas

But … I wasn’t pleased with them. Soseason. I did this – I created ten new short stories, at around 21,000 words in total, which I was going to bundle with three previously-released short pieces which had a Christmas theme. Some of them worked, but one or two didn’t – they weren’t strong enough stories, and my writing wasn’t the best. So I shelved the project. I didn’t delete it, and They Will Return, with tough rewrites to sharpen up the writing. Depending on the situation when next Christmas trundles alone, I will either publish them as a collection or release them for free as singles. Watch this space.

The bottom line is – I’m not going to release my writing unless I think it’s the best it can be. The quality of the writing is more important than any seasonal-related marketing strategy. I only wish that were the case with some other self-published writers.


I’ve completed 3 long works to “draft zero” status – a 65,000 word crime story, and two thrillers at 45k and 47k each.

But therein lies the problem. I love writing, I love the buzz I get from creating new characters and situations. But, before 2013, I was a terrible finisher. I never really completed anything but short fiction. So one of my goals for this year was to finish some long fiction, and I’m pleased I’ve been able to do that.

However, I’m still not completely happy with my stories. At the time of writing, I’m not sure whether they’re going to be edited, or put to one side. All is not lost, and I have good news in my “2014 – look ahead” post, coming soon, including a new life for a piece of writing that’s over ten years old. NaNoWriMo 2003, your time is up!

NaNoWriMo – week 1 update

So where are we? The bald facts – after 7 days’ writing, I have 35,467 words to my name this month, and after 2 days of #50K5DAYS, I have written 18,282 words.

Edit: (update) Only managed 3,040 on day 3 of #50K5DAYS, so I’ve abandoned this attempt. Should be ready to try again on Monday morning.

One thing that had occurred to me – some people might be put off by my posting large word counts. NaNoWriMo is all about personal challenges and achievements. I write fast; 2,000 words an hour is the norm for me. I am an experienced writer – I have 22 works in progress, comprising over 660,000 words (a work in progress is something I’ve written but not edited, or something half-written and incomplete). I have ‘won’ 8 NaNoWriMo’s so far in the 10 years I’ve been doing them.

All this means that, for me, my personal targets go a bit beyond the ‘standard’ NaNo, but they’re no less challenging. Maybe part of this ‘experience’ is understanding how, when and why I write.

There is no doubt that, for some, NaNoWriMo is an invigorating, enlightening time. Some will discover that, yes, they can write a novel. Some will discover the love of writing, and of creating something from nothing but ideas and thoughts. Some will begin great friendships and discover writing camaraderie. But there are some for whom NaNo is a dispiriting, depressing time. The sight of new-found friends disappearing into the distance with ever-burgeoning wordcounts can be upsetting, I’m sure.

So I’m wondering if NaNoWriMo should change, and allow people to set their own personal word count goals. If someone has physical difficulty writing anywhere near 1,667 words per day for 30 days, maybe they should be ‘allowed’ to set their own challenging target?

Then, if they do this, are these people not writers? Of course they are. They may not have the high volume output of others, but they may still enjoy writing. They may not have the stamina, or the desire, even, to create a novel, but there’s probably no reason why they can’t create a 10-minute play script, a 20-line poem, an article for a local newspaper, or a post on their blog. People who do this are writers, just as much as someone who can crank out 5,000 words in a day.

Why this? I have tapped a lot of words into Scrivener this November, and I intend to tap in a lot more. As part of our local support group, we cheerfully present our daily / total word counts with pride. But I wonder if there are some who view these figures with some sadness; I have felt awkward posting mine, worried in case any members of the group approach the challenge as a competition, and feel that they have ‘lost’ if they aren’t near the top word count generators.

But my message is: if you want to be a writer, write. Write what pleases you, write when you want to, write in whatever format gives you the best feelings. We are all writers, and we don’t need a word count chart to prove that.

Late summer update. Busy busy busy.

Tonight, I had cause to log in to my WordPress account, in order to comment on a friend’s blog. No problems occurred, but I did look at my blog, and saw that the last item was posted way back in early April. Ugh. Bad blogger.

As a way back in, I’ll give you an update on what’s happening. Summer is happening, that’s what. For once, the UK, and especially the Eastern side, has been bathed in beautiful sun for what seems likes weeks on end.

Which makes it hard to write.

It always seems that there’s something else that needs doing, whether it really needs it, or whether that need is perceived. Gardens need tidying, planting, cutting back, mowing, watering. Summer houses needed to be built, which necessitated quite large changes to groundworks in the back garden. Social events had been organised, and enjoyed.

Cycling happened. A lot. I rode from London to Paris in less than 24 hours. That was fun. Shortly, I’m going to be riding from Shenfield (bottom of Essex), through Harwich / Hook of Holland, to Bruges (or Brugge, if you’re Belgian). And back again. There’s various other cycling-related things going on, too, either watching or actually doing. And a new bike has entered the collection, which is lovely and a joy to ride.

Oh, and I’m doing #100kwords100days again.

The group seemed to have an appetite for more of the pain and anguish, although word counts have been somewhat down on the winter version. I suspect others have the summer distraction thing going on, too. This one runs from the 1st of July through to early October, when we’ll breathe a sigh of relief before girding our loins ready for NaNoWriMo.

I’m writing about the end of the world again, albeit this time in a fairly small area in the USA. But there’s death and destruction going on, forces unimagined by man (or woman), and I have a strong female lead. Again.

On word counts, I’m somewhat down on the target. I’m at 41,579 for the story and 48,435 for the challenge (the challenge includes blog posts and other creative writing). I am supposed to be somewhere near 66,000 words right now. My rolling average word count per day is creeping up and is now 734 words per day, which is pretty good, and I need to write an average of 1,517 words per day between now and the end of the challenge to reach the 100k.

More importantly, it looks like I’m going to finish this work. Mr. Work In Progress might actually get to finish something (unlike the other 17 or 18 WIPs which lay unloved on various parts of my hard disk).

And how has this been achieved? I think it has been achieved with more structured planning, clear and interesting characters, a vision for the whole story from start to finish, and using the classic 3 act / 8 sequence structure, often used in film making. I’ve been able to keep my story on track, writing scenes (In Scrivener, of course), and kept the plot rolling along.

I also have an outline for another long piece, which may end up being my NaNoWriMo project. When this story is complete, I shall put it away for preliminary editing, and take up my crime short novel series. I really would like to get 2 or 3 of those written before the end of the challenge.

Wish me luck!

Changed my mind

Yeah, yeah, I know what I said. I changed my mind

So now, I have a nice little psycho-spooky short under my belt, which is settling ready for edit. I like it.

No more work on any of the novel things. I’ve been too lazy, and spent too much time being ill, doing Christmas, and stuff like that.

Come the new year, all that goes out of the window, and I start a new project! Yes! Sally Quilford’s 100k in 100 days. I hope it’s a good idea. I love these challenges, and I need to get my writing back on track. I have other ideas for shorts, which I’ll probably publish here / give away, but we’ll see.

If it’s Sunday, it must be #SampleSunday

I’ve got another prologue for you this week. Writing tutors don’t like prologues. But then again, they don’t like lots of things that they say you shouldn’t do, but which are actually pretty cool.

I like prologues. It’s a chance to whet your reader’s appetite. It’s that chance to get them hooked, when they’re browsing the bookshop shelves or the website listings. It’s the overture to the musical, it’s the small artwork in the entranceway. It’s your chance to say “here it is, this is what it’s like, are you interested?”

This particular prologue starts the novel “Twelve Days”. Which isn’t out yet. But every crime / thriller writer has a serial killer book in them. It’s de rigeur. I started writing this several years ago, but then put it to one side. “Silence of the Lambs” had come out a few years earlier, and then everyone tried to jump on the serial killer / FBI profiler bandwagon. Mine was set in the UK, but even so, it just seemed to follow the herd.

But in recent times, the serial killer story just keeps coming up, and they’re still popular. It’s a chance for a writer to get their “page per kills” ratio down.

Anyway, I hope you like it. It’s over on the #SampleSunday page:

Don’t forget my two short story collections in the sidebar.