My latest novel (or the first draft of it, at any rate), is available to read, for free, via Wattpad. So what is it about?
The City of Fallen Dreams is the first book in the After The Rising series. And interestingly enough, it had its first incarnation on this blog as the unfinished serialised story, On The Run, from 2017. There is very little left of the original story, of which I had written about 2000 words, but the new version, which comes in at around 52,000 words, used that original opening to create the world the story is set in.
I had so much fun writing this story. So much so that I’ve already started writing the sequel. It has a little bit of everything in it: paranormal, dystopian, mystery, magic, romance, action, adventure, historical, political intrigue and more besides…
Here’s the story summary:
What do a tarot reader, a violinist, a schoolboy and a detective all have in common? They are all trying to make a life for themselves after The Rising. But it’s not easy.
Three of them are on the wrong side of the authorities. One’s a prisoner. One’s on the run. One’s leading the resistance.
As for the other one? He works for the authorities. It’s his job to find two of them, and as for the third…she might be locked up, but her heart is proving to be the most elusive out of the lot.
But that’s not all. A Time of Mirroring approaches, according to The Temple in The Grove. And who doesn’t like a prophecy? Well, a lot of people aren’t going to like this one.
The City of Fallen Dreams is a dystopian fantasy where ancient spirituality and the modern world meet but don’t mingle. Not yet, at any rate.
You can read The City of Fallen Dreams by either clicking the book cover at the top of the post or by following this link. If you do have a read of it, I really hope you enjoy it.
Piling up the rubble and sweeping the dust
I tidy the ruins
Of an anxious mind
Fractures in stonework
And shattered glass
Visible to be me but no-one else
There are ghosts here
Haunting memories of bygone days
Whispering words of judgement and doubt
The truth is different, I know
Smoke and mirrors distort and contort
Warp, bend and buckle what is, was and may be
They need these ruins as much as I
For without them
Neither of us would exist
So I dwell here in these echoes
Keeping company with shades
Ever searching for the fact in their fiction
One of the things I always try to do – but often fail at 😉 – is push myself beyond the limits of my comfort zone. And recently that has meant I have been trying to engage with any writing opportunities that I stumble across.
Since the beginning of July this has manifested itself in three different writing projects, with the three different goals.
Camp NaNo – July 2022
So you may remember how, for once, I was ahead of the planning game for July’s Camp (you can read about that here). You may also remember that things were a little up and down for the first two weeks of the challenge (you can read about that here). Well, I can now confirm that things continued in the same fashion for the rest of the month.
I went for another 10 days without adding a single word to the project, then added just over 1500 words (cumulative) over the next three days, and then nothing else. I ended July with 7466 words added to the project. Half of my goal.
However, I can’t be sad with that. My attempt at April’s camp this year was woeful and along with the new words added to the WIP, I also got a huge amount of world building, back story and planning complete. It’s not the win I was hoping for, but it is still a win. And, this was achieved alongside…
Submitting to a Competition
Part way through July, I stumbled across a UK literary agency (one of the biggest, in fact!) holding a commercial fiction / women’s fiction novel competition. Now, I don’t really enter competitions, submit to literary agents (it has been years since I had a go that!), or write commercial fiction very often. But what I do have is an historical romance novel that I am in the process of finding a home for.
When I saw how wide the scope was in terms of what they were looking for, I thought why not try, after all the worst that could happen is that they don’t like it, and the response time was nice and short (I think it was 3 weeks).
So I gave the story another edit (I can never send submissions out without going through them again, even though they are complete), and submitted it. I didn’t make the shortlist but I’m happy I tried. Usually I would have made some excuse to justify not bothering, but not this time, which is a win in itself.
And, whilst I was waiting to hear of the outcome for this story, I then saw an advert on Wattpad for this year’s Watty Awards…
A Writing Challenge
I was late in deciding to enter the Watty’s this year. Very late. Unlike other years I’ve entered, the submission window appeared very short, but I like a challenge. And a challenge this was. I wrote a 52,000 word novel in about two weeks. Actually it was probably closer to 12 or 13 writing days, and as you can imagine, some of those days were long.
In the few days running up to the closing date, I was spending 12 hours in front of the computer, and on the last day it was about 17 hours. On that last day, I was still writing the story, and trying to edit and upload the book, chapter by chapter, to the website.
The deadline for submission was Friday 19th August, and I can honestly admit, if I hadn’t been in a different time zone, I would not have made it. As it was, it was 2 AM my time, when I got the form accompanying my entry submitted. (For those interested, it is called The City of Fallen Dreams and I entered it into the wild card category because it has a little bit of everything in it).
Am I happy I did it? You bet I am. In the past I would have said the deadline was too tight, there’s no way I could have made it, and I would have just given up. Not this time. I pushed and pushed and pushed, right to the very end and I got it in before the deadline. Miraculously.
Would I do it again? Nope. No way. This whole experience is what I would describe as endurance writing. It felt like (how I imagine) a marathon to be. And I’m not that kind of writer.
One of the upsides to this style of writing was that I was completely immersed in this story almost continuously from the beginning to the end of it, and that was a really enjoyable experience.
The shortlist is announced sometime in October. Naturally, I have my fingers crossed, but I don’t expect to be on it. Why? Because for me, this was about pushing myself. This was about setting an almost impossible challenge and being able to actually meet it.
It’s taken me a week to recover from these crazy 6 or 7 weeks of challenging myself, and I’m still going to take it easy for a few more days yet. But it has got me thinking of what challenges I want to set myself next.
Do you set yourself writing challenges or writing goals? Or maybe you find they hinder your writing more than help it? Let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts on this…
So, I sort of went a bit quiet on the Camp NaNoWriMo front after declaring I had weeks to plan and prepare for it…
And I did plan…
And I did prepare…
And on the 1st of July I decided to work on a different project. Sigh. That’s just how my brain works sometimes…
The project I’m working on is not a new one, and you will probably have heard me talking of it, if you’ve been following me here or over on Wattpad for the last few years. It’s my Oath Sworn Trilogy, the first book of which is Oathbreaker. However, since I finished that first draft (back in 2018!), the project has grown exponentially to encompass not one trilogy, but two running side-by-side, as well as three standalone novels and two novellas!
So I set my daily target at the low end, knowing that, should I not be able to write everyday, the total target for the month should still be achievable. So 500 words a day, for a total of 15,500 words by the end of the month. So far so good: project picked and goal set.
On the first day, I managed to exceed my daily target. Woohoo! Then, for the next 12 days, I couldn’t find the time to write one. single. word. on my project.
Come Day 13, I was determined to fix that, and so I put my To Do list where I wouldn’t see it, sat down at my desk and gave myself permission to write, as if nothing else mattered (nothing important, at any rate!).
And my! It was glorious! And thankfully I managed to carry that same enthusiasm to make the time, and the momentum to make that time count, into Day 14. I’m now just shy of being a third into my goal. Hopefully it will continue into the second half of the month…
If you’re doing July’s Camp NaNo, how are you fairing?
Give me the cold and grey
The picturesque monotone
Of a watercolour painting
Brush strokes in variations of
Enchant me with silver skies
Charm me with hard granite and rocky outcrops
Offer me storm clouds as love tokens
And downpours as a sign you're missing me
Give me the cold and grey
The call has been open for a few weeks now (and closes on the 24th June 2022), and since then I’ve been wondering if I am able to write one. Those who have been here a while will know I do try and write some poetry, mainly free verse, sometimes haikus. And I have been lucky enough to have had some of my poetry published. However, I have never in my life written a sonnet. But can I write a sorta-sonnet?
I’m going to try.
Bartholomew Barker explained in the submissions call post what the rules are for a sorta-sonnet:
14 line poem
under 100 words
Nice. Simple. Clear instructions. And best of all, there’s no need to get to grips with a particular meter and rhyming scheme. It sounds do-able…
So here’s my first attempt at a sorta-sonnet:
I craft worlds out of words
That only exist in my head
These words build cities and
Grow gardens, make history as
Well as bake cakes
These words that create
Transform into people, with
Thoughts and actions all their own
And so my words become theirs
Or is it the other way around?
These words...their voices
My craft...their art
My daydreams...their adventures
All inside my head
I absolutely failed at April’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Completely. I have no words and no excuses, it just didn’t happen for me. But I won’t dwell on the past, but instead look forward to July’s Camp… (If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo here’s the link to the site: https://nanowrimo.org/)
I’ve already decided I am going to participate, which is quite novel for me. Usually, it’s a last minute decision, often with only a slight nod towards planning. But this time, I have weeks to prepare! Yay! (Famous last words…?)
If you read my Tolkien Tuesday post from a few weeks ago, you might remember that I posted it a day late because I was putting together my step-by-step novel outlining process. Well that turned into a 17 page workbook, the premise of which is to create a full story outline in less than day. This is for my shorter outlining process. I do have another one which is much longer and much more in-depth, but this one I find is also good for novellas and short stories, as well as for reacquainting myself with a story I’ve taken a break from, one that perhaps lacked a certain depth in planning 🙂
So, in the weeks running up to Camp, I will be working through this workbook, which I’m really looking forward to (I know that probably sounds strange).
On a different note, I think I have managed to catch-up on the all comments I was behind with. So yay again!
Who is this new organised Sammi? I have no idea but I like her 🙂
Anyone else considering joining in with Camp NaNo in July? Let me know in the comments.
You can find me over on the NaNoWriMo website by searching for my username: Sammi Cox