Plans for July: A Writing Challenge

Hey, apparently today is my three-year anniversary of this blog!  DSCF4158

I don’t have much else to say on that front; I just saw the notification to that effect. Also, I found my stash of pictures from Australia, so I’ll be adding them into the mix over the next while.

I’ve been thinking that I want to do some sort of challenge for myself for the month of July. I’ve got a fair amount of gardening work to be doing, but not as much other stuff as in June, so I’ve got more time for my writing — if I push myself a bit! It’s also easy to let things slide in the summer, especially coming off an academic calendar where the winter is so much busier. August is going to be busy with weddings and visits, however, and I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in the fall yet, so … no, I don’t want to fall into a slump of little writing.

Along with those reasons, well, I have a bunch of half-finished stories jostling in the back of my mind for completion that I am excited to write, both short stories and novels. Some of the short stories follow on from the ones I’ve been posting monthly: ‘The Glassblower’ and ‘In the Realms of Gold’ will carry on Scheherezade the Storyteller’s story, and ‘Avon-under-the-Hill’ and ‘These are Pearls’ Will Shakespeare’s after the events of ‘Inkebarrow,’ and then ‘Shakespeare and Scheherezade Go to a Bar’ combine their two story-lines and connect them to the events in Till Human Voices Wake Us, where they are both major secondary characters (along with Robin, the Prince of the Fairies, from ‘Rook’). I’m halfway through ‘The Glassblower’ and ‘Avon-under-the-Hill’, so I hope for them to be the August and September free stories. I’m going to be working on the covers for all of these over the next few months, too.

I’ve got a few other short stories in mind or partially written, some standalones (not too many of those! my stories and worlds are strongly interconnected) and a few relating to other books. ‘The Beanseller,’ ‘Indigo, Frankincense, and Jade’, and ‘The Knife-Thrower’s Apprentice’ are part of the Red Company sequence, of which the first novel is The Coming of Fitzroy (which should be coming some time this fall); ‘The Bramble King’ and ‘Kingfisher Blues’ are connected with that sequence as well.

I have Till Human Voices Wake Us to finish publishing — it will be launching on 15th July, so get ready! — and The Coming of Fitzroy to finish writing. That’s the book I started working on last summer when I was in Kirkby Lonsdale. I haven’t been working on it consistently the whole time, partly because I was stuck on the conclusion. It’s going to be the first of both a self-contained trilogy (“Derring-Do for Beginners,” containing The Coming of Fitzroy, The Baker’s Daughters of Three-Quarters-Off, and So You Want to Be a Folk Hero? — unless my cover design skills falter in the face of such long titles …) and also the beginning of a long sequence of novels about the Red Company. Those later books won’t be coming into concrete form any time soon, but I go over them like saying the beads of a rosary, which I find comforting: Cloudbringer, The Fine Art of High Adventure, Customs and Duties, The Sisters Avramapul, Firewater over Ice, The Three Mirrors of Harbut Zalarin …

But apart from the short stories, The Coming of Fitzroy, and the various covers, the challenge I’m considering doing in July is trying to write a full novel, start to finish, in one month. I’ve had the idea for some time that I’d like to write a kind of fantasy cozy mystery — I have a particular character and setting that I think would do very well in that type of book — and I’ve also been wanting to write something a bit more plot-centric and a bit shorter, more like a 1960s or 70s- length book, which tend to be about a third shorter than most current ones. (60,000 words instead of 90,000, if that means much to you, which it probably doesn’t if you’re not a writer yourself; basically, think Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Dorothy Gilman length books.)

So mulling it over, and discovering that July is Camp NaNoWriMo — based off the write a 50,000-word-novel-in-a-month challenge of “National Novel Writing Month” (November), it’s basically a challenge one can join for encouragement and deadlines — and also because I’ve been reading several people’s accounts of increasing their writing speeds … well, because of all of these things, I think I’m going to try writing this short humorous mystery/crime/spy novel set in a fantasy setting over the course of one month. I’m going to aim at somewhere between 60,000 to 75,000 words. I can write 2000 words in an hour and a half or so, if the story is in my head; the problem is that I’m not always very consistent about doing that every day. So since I really enjoyed the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, I thought that I would set my own, and report back each day on my writing progress.

I have thought about this novel, I have written the first page of it (several months ago), and I’ve decided there are going to be at least five in this sequence of mysteries. I know who the main characters are — Mrs Etaris and Mr Greenfield — and that they live in a town called Ragnor Bella, which is on a made-up world but is analogous to late 18th-early 19th-century northern Europe, and that’s about it. So I am not starting completely cold — but close to it. I am going to keep track of my writing process and progress and see how well this works. I don’t know whether I can write a satisfactory novel in a month — there’s no particular reason why not, but I haven’t done so before. (The draft of what’s now The Coming of Fitzroy wasn’t quite finished in a month, as the conclusion is still hanging, so it doesn’t quite count.) But obviously, I have a lot of stories to tell, so if I can increase my writing speed with satisfactory quality of stories — well, that’d be great.

So! Starting tomorrow, the first of the Mrs. E. Mysteries: Stargazy Pie.



5 thoughts on “Plans for July: A Writing Challenge

  1. I shall be following your progress with much interest. I am impressed with your ability to set challenges and follow through. May you meet your expectations and remain happy while achieving your set goals!


  2. It’s the “remaining happy while achieving” them that’s the matter at stake, isn’t it? I don’t intend to run myself into the ground with this one — but I do like having challenges and find them helpful.


  3. Go Victoria! This is inspiring, and I look forward to following along.

    Those titles are delightful, too. I thought I’d heard most of your plans for upcoming works, but some of those are new to me!


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