On Goals

Philip HarrisChatterLeave a Comment

Happy New Year! So, it’s New Year’s Resolution time again. I’m not really a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy. I do set “resolutions” but I do it when the mood takes me not just at the beginning of the year. That’s why my writing streak starts on 30th June 2013 rather than something more numerically pleasing. I am setting a few goals this year, though. Running a marathon in less than four hours for example. That’s a good goal to me because a) it’s tough but achievable and b) the outcome is pretty much under my control. Assuming I train properly, don’t eat all the chocolate we have in our fridge and sort out my race nutrition, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to achieve that. I’ve even got at least two shots – one at the Vancouver Marathon in May and then another either in September (The Blerch) or October (Victoria).  There are some external factors – I might get injured or the weather might not cooperate but beyond that, my success in the marathon is really down to me. Even injuries are partially under my control – over training and ignoring warning signs are a good way to end up … Read More

Draft Four – The Final Conflict

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

Last night I wrapped up the fourth draft of The Girl in the Machine. This morning I sent the manuscript to my editor for the next step along the road to publication. He’ll send back his edits, I’ll do another revision pass accepting most of his suggestions, then the new manuscript will go back to him for another once over. Then I’ll do another pass over any new suggestions and then the book goes off for three rounds of proofreading. When it’s all laid out like that it sounds like there’s still a long way to go, and in some ways there is. But the heavy lifting is done. The 65,217 words that go to make up the final part of Leah’s story are pretty much in the right order. It’s a satisfying story that I think people will enjoy and I think it wraps up the trilogy well. The various threads I scattered through the first two books (including some threads I hadn’t even realised where there) are all tied up and it feels like a complete story without being unrealistic or contrived. At least, I think it does. Hopefully everyone else will agree. The Girl in the Machine will be released in the next couple of months, depending on … Read More

A Drafty Machine

Philip HarrisIndie Publishing, WritingLeave a Comment

It’s 4pm on Saturday afternoon here in Vancouver and I’ve just wrapped up the second draft of The Girl in the Machine which now sits at 67,671 words. After working through the notes I made on the print out of the first draft, I pulled out a few broken chapters, simplified some sections and general fixed a bunch of big picture issues. There’s still some smaller things that need fixing, some foreshadowing that needs to go in and lots of crafting of individual sentences but the heavy lifting is done. It took me a while longer than I’d hoped and this will be going to my editor later than I’d planned but it’s more important it’s a good story. And I think it will be. Tomorrow I scroll back to page one and start the third draft. In the meantime, here’s a rainbow. Sign up for my newsletter and get four free ebooks. CLICK HERE to get started. [A Drafty Machine by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 19th November 2016]

The Girl in the Machine – The First Draft

Philip HarrisWriting1 Comment

On November 7th I  hit the next big milestone on The Girl in the Machine – The first draft. <dun dun derrrrr> The final word count for the draft was 69,527. I immediately printed the whole thing off and the next day sat down to start editing. (Click to sneak a look at the opening chapter) I always do my first editing pass on paper using an actual pen. At this point I want to focus on big picture issues – continuity and plot holes mostly. If I edit on the computer, I tend to get distracted by the details and end up tweaking sentences instead of looking for the major problems. I do still mark clunky writing, unnecessary repetition that isn’t necessary, and things like that but I don’t get caught up trying to fix those issues. That comes later. I try to read through the whole book in one day so that I can keep track of the story properly and by the end of the day I’d done just that and had 226 pages covered with green ink (thanks Coke Zero). Since then I’ve been working through those notes, hacking out chapters, inserting foreshadowing, fixing the clunky writing I spotted. That took longer than the read through but it’s done. Now … Read More

Sold! – Sitala

Philip HarrisStories, WritingLeave a Comment

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d sold a story to Dark Fuse Magazine (it’ll be available soon). This week I got another acceptance, this time for a science fiction story called Sitala. The sale is to Fighting Monkey Press for the third anthology in their UnCommon series – UnCommon Minds. I appeared in the first in the series – UnCommon Bodies and it was a very varied and interesting collection with lots of excellent stories. The second anthology, UnCommon Origins was even better, and I’ve got no reason to think this one won’t surpass that. As for my story, I was very happy with how it turned out so I was quite nervous about the submission. I’m incredibly pleased Fighting Monkey liked it as much as I do. I can’t wait for you to read it. No idea what the publishing timeline is yet. Sign up for my newsletter and get four free ebooks. CLICK HERE to get started. [Sold! – Sitala by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 12th November 2016]

An Unmitigated Disaster

Philip HarrisChatter, WritingLeave a Comment

I’m now about 66,000 words into the final book in the Leah King trilogy, The Girl in the Machine, and I’ve reached the point where I’m convinced it’s an unmitigated disaster. My outline is in shreds. There’s dozens of plot holes in every chapter. The character arcs aren’t arcs, they’re circles. I’ve forgotten to tie up at least three loose ends and there’s two more that I opened in chapter three that go nowhere. The critical scene involving the aardvark and the pug is physically impossible, and I’m pretty sure several of my character’s names change halfway through the story. Twice. Basically, I want to delete everything relating to this book and take up something sane like juggling scorpions. I’m not going to. Partly because scorpions are mean and that would be dangerous, but mostly because I’ve been here before. ON EVERY SINGLE BOOK I’VE WRITTEN. The Girl in the City, Unseen Planet, The Girl in Wilderness, The Ghost Smuggler, Siren’s Call and both my (currently unpublished) zombie books all went through this same phase. Experience has taught me that my mind is lying to me. I’m not writing in stone. Sure, I’ll have to go back and rewrite big chunks, fill in the holes, check names and facts, and generally … Read More

Sold! – The Ride

Philip HarrisChatter, Stories, WritingLeave a Comment

So far this year, I’ve submitted short stories to magazines and anthologies fourteen times. Last weekend I got my second acceptance. My very short story, The Ride will be published at Dark Fuse Magazine. I’m very pleased this one has found a home and Dark Fuse put out some quality fiction so I’m in good company. I’ll be sure to post the link to the story here once it’s available in early November. Incidentally, Dark Fuse currently have an offer on their one year subscription. For $60 you get a year of Dark Fuse Magazine (normally $40) plus all the ebooks Dark Fuse publish in that year. Given that they guarantee at least 24 titles that’s a good deal if you’re into dark fiction. Sign up for my newsletter and get a year of stories, completely free. CLICK HERE to get started. [Sold! – The Ride by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 27th October 2016]

September Writing Update

Philip HarrisWritingLeave a Comment

Another month down, another thirty days added to my writing streak. September was a very focused month with me spending all of my writing time working on the last book in the Leah King trilogy – The Girl in the Machine. Total word count for the month was 24,382 words which should, in theory, have been more than enough to wrap the book up. But of course, it didn’t turn out that way. This last book will easily be the longest of the three. At the moment it looks like it’s going to come in around 70,000 – 80,000 words which is somewhere around the 300 page mark. So much for breaking up the work on my zombie novels with a couple of quick novellas. Ah well, 24k words is a good month, it’s a good story and hopefully it should be done by the end of October. Outside of the day job and working on The Girl in the Machine, most of my time was spent preparing for the launch of The Girl in the Wilderness on Tuesday.* This time around I created my own ebook using a tool called Vellum. It’s a very quick way to create gorgeous looking books, and I’m very happy with the results. So, I also converted … Read More

August Writing Update

Philip HarrisChatter, WritingLeave a Comment

I’ve realised I haven’t posted any writing updates for a while so I thought I’d avoid working on my latest short story by giving an update instead. The last few months have been reasonably good from a fiction point of view. My writing-every-day streak continues and sits at 1,147 days. I’ve just broken the 150k mark for words written this year (158,173 to be exact) so I’m pretty much on track to break my personal annual word count record (275,872). At this point, I’m pretty confident I can do that. I have several first drafts I want to get written, and they should drive up that word count pretty quickly. It won’t be obvious to anyone looking at my Amazon author page, but this year I’ve been trying to focus on finishing projects and getting them out into the wide world. That said, the last few months have been spent working on several projects. The Girl in the Wilderness This is the sequel to The Girl in the City that I hadn’t planned on writing. And when I did decide to write it I was expecting it to be another novella but a bit bigger than The Girl in the City. It turned out to be a full length novel … Read More

Three Years of Writing (Every Day)

Philip HarrisMetrics, WritingLeave a Comment

A few weeks ago I passed the three year mark of my writing streak – I’ve now written some sort of fiction every day for over 1100 days. That’s a lot of days. I don’t always write a lot, my lowest day is less than 100 words, but it’s the consistency that’s important. I read somewhere that it takes a couple of weeks for a habit to form and a couple of weeks after that it becomes so ingrained that missing it feels “wrong”. After three years, writing something is as much a part of my daily routine as showering or brushing my teeth. I’ve talked before about how I keep writing every day but it really boils down to one thing – after many years of not really committing to writing, the simple addition of a “Writing Streak” to my tracking spreadsheet has turned me from a “want-to” writer to a “need-to” writer. I know perfectly well I’m playing mental games with myself, using my addiction to that ever increasing number to make sure I get my writing done, but it works. In the past I’ve posted charts of my writing but there’s so much data they’ve become a bit pointless. I need to revamp them, but the monthly word count chart … Read More