Buenos Dias

Philip HarrisBooks, Chatter, Stories, WritingLeave a Comment

On Wednesday, we got back from a holiday at the Hacienda Cerritos near Todos Santos, in Mexico. It’s the first time we’ve been to Mexico and we had a fantastic time. The Hacienda Cerritos is in an amazing location with stunning views and a very nice beach. They could do with a new set of pool balls though.

DSC00817The Hacienda Cerritos, Mexico

We were planning a very laid back, relaxed holiday so I was hoping to get some serious writing time in. That didn’t quite work out, but I did get some serious reading done and finished a whole bunch of books (thanks Mr Kindle):

  • Red Shirts by John Scalzi
  • The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumiere
  • A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck
  • The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  • Pantomime by Laura Lam
  • Filaria by Brent Hayward

Yes, I read too fast but some of those are pretty short books.

That’s a lot of great fiction but the highlights were Mary Robinette Kowal’s poignant science fiction novelette, The Lady Astronaut of Mars (which you can get for free from her blog) and Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House – a dizzying mix of Istanbul, terrorist attacks, ancient artifacts, high finance and a boy detective, all wrapped up in a crispy nanotechnology shell.

The only book that didn’t quite work for me was Pantomime.  It’s well written and there’s a lot of interesting elements there, a circus, a mysterious lost civilization, hints of magic, a dash of steampunk and a very interesting protagonist but the pieces never really came together as I’d hoped. It’s the first book in a planned series and it shows – I’d have liked a bit more payoff in this book. That said, I’m probably pretty far from its target audience (it’s a Young Adult novel for a start, and I’m neither of those things) so don’t read too much into my comments; grab a sample and make your own decision.

I did do some writing as well as all that reading (and a bit of exploring and eating great food). I’d planned on writing a few short stories but I got ‘stuck’ on a new idea that was a) very tempting and b) novel sized. It feels like a good idea and Ethel the Muse wouldn’t stop talking about it but I wanted a short story idea, dammit – not another novel.

In the end, I managed to quiet that idea down and wrote first drafts of The First Zombie Hunter (a zombie story with very little zombie in it) and CAvE (a sort of time travel story).

I used Ann’s iPad to write both the stories (using iAWriter) and it worked surprisingly well. I find editing very hard on the iPad but even so, I ended up with a passable first draft of both stories. Now I just need to get them onto my PC and batter them into shape.

I also wrote a blog post on running and novel writing that will go up at some point over the next couple of weeks. Oh, and another story idea popped up that I’ll come back to at a later date. So, pretty good despite a slow start.

DSC01163The view from “my” writing spot

I took a couple of extra days off work to ease my transition back into the real world. Yesterday was spent sorting photographs, washing socks and catching up on The Walking Dead but today is the day I kick off the rewrite of The Ghost Smuggler.

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