Leveling up as a writer

Leveling up in computer games is a process whereby a character gains enough points or experience to unlock a whole new level in the game.

Writers level up too.  The first time they finish a book, the first time they learn to take critiques properly, when they learn that writing is not just writing, it’s rewriting.

Here’s a fun diagram of a writer leveling up.  We’ve made some assumptions.

  • The writer is going the trad pub route, and they get an agent first, who then sells their book to an editor
  • Both editor and agent are legitimate and doing their best to sell/make the book as good as it can be. That is, the writer isn’t caught up by scammers.
  • A lot of these things loop. You can keep going around and around in circles, but we’re only doing it the once.


A couple of quick things

Giveaway finishes at the end of this month

We’re running a Goodreads giveaway. One lucky reader can win a copy of all three books. If you’re interested, head over to Goodreads to enter.

Competition closes midnight 31 July.

Linesman eBook reduced on

Linesman is $2.99 over at Amazon, and at Barnes and Noble. We don’t know for how long.

Not in the mood for reading dystopia

I wanted a picture of utopia to balance this blog. Interestingly, my stock images supplier had lots of pictures with the word ‘heaven’, but little else. Except pictures of Roman ruins kept cropping up as well. I googled, but couldn’t find any reason for it.

I started a book today.

It was well written, and had a characters I cared about, right from the start. World building was superb.  And yet … I couldn’t keep going with it.

Too many bad things happened to the point-of-view character in the first two chapters. Nasty, horrible things.  Beatings, starved, torture, being branded on the face with a hot iron.  Worse, the world he lived in was the sort of place where that could happen to anyone except the truly rich (and sometimes even to them). Where the people in power treated those outside their circle as lesser beings, and did really nasty things to them.

I stopped at the start of chapter three.

I couldn’t read any further.

It’s starting to feel as if I live in that world already.  I don’t want to read about it too.

I think it’s human nature to want to read positive stories when the world around us seems quite depressing.  I certainly do, anyway.

I picked up another book, more light-hearted, and read that instead.

Saturday night

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you might know I’m a big fan of Jon English and David MacKay’s rock odyssey, Paris. It’s about the Trojan war.

A concept album came out in 1990, with John Parr (who sang Man in Motion, from St Elmo’s Fire) as Paris, and Sheila Parker as Helen of Troy. The album had some impressive talent on it—John Waters, Barry Humphries, Philip Quast, Doc Neeson, John Parr, Sheila Parker, Joe Fagin, Demis Roussos, David Atkins and Terence Donovan. It was backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and London Philharmonic Choir.

It’s one of the albums we listen to a lot when writing.

The show has been produced as an amateur musical since, but it has never been produced professionally.

Not until Music Theatre Melbourne (MTM) produced a four-show concert series.

Paris is a rock opera. I’d never even imagined it as concert. I mean, an orchestra in the back, a choir behind them, and the singers down the front.

It was great, and the singers were superb.

Afterwards, they all sang a Jon English song as a tribute. Fantastic.

More cat pictures, please

“And then Mrs Wiggles the cat, and Martha the girl, went up the ramp, and the spaceship took off.”

(If you haven’t recognised it, the title of this post is a play on Naomi Kritzer’s Cat Pictures Please, which won the 2016 Hugo and 2016 Locus Award for best short story, and was also a Nebula nominee for the same. You can read it on Clarkesworld magazine.)

Sometimes, all you want is something beautiful, but the news is depressing and everywhere you look, people are doing horrible things to each other.  So, today, I present to you … cat (and dog) pictures.

The word count is going down … slowly

Sometimes our word counts feel like Sisyphus. Cut the words, add the words, cut some more.

Winter is not just coming, it’s here

We had the first real frost of winter today.  Enough to ice up the car.  It’s only the start of July. It feels like it’ll be a cold winter.

I’m almost glad we’ll be inside with the heater on, editing.

Although, I confess, our heater is great when it’s working, but the thermostat is placed in the one part of the house where it’s always warm.  The passage.  Individual rooms can be quite cold, but it’s always warm and cozy in the passage.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in the passage.

When it gets really cold, we take the remote—which is also the thermostat—bring it into the room where we’re working, and watch the temperature drop.

It’s become a running joke in the house.  “Oh, the thermostat’s bored again.  Wants a different view.  Where will we put it today?”


Sherylyn has finished the first round of cuts on Stars Uncharted.  She got the story down from 128,000 words to 112,000.  Now I’m looking at what she cut, and doing my take on (Editor) Anne’s notes.

Sometimes the word count goes up.

I’m trying not to.

As you can see, I’m always reluctant to cut words we’ve written.  Sometimes I flat-out refuse.  Most times, we sort cuts out away from the computer.  Over dinner, or over coffee.  Or tea.  We did that last night.

There was a section I didn’t want to cut.  Sherylyn did.  We spent half of dinner talking about it, and realised by the end that the real issue was that I wanted this particular scene to show how tense everyone was getting, waiting for the coming battle.  Sherylyn wanted it gone because all they were doing was talking about food.  The food talk wasn’t doing anything about the tenseness of the situation.

Final solution. Rewrite the scene.

Goodreads giveaway

Our Goodreads giveaway was going well … until I went in and corrected a typo.  After the competition had started. Silly me.  Now it’s back waiting to be approved.  On a 4 July weekend.  So if you want to enter to win a copy of the whole series – it will come back, I promise.  We’re just not sure when.

Edits on Stars Uncharted. Sometimes we feel there’s no page we haven’t edited.