Above, you can see page 166 of the paperback of Craven Place. This is the final page proof from my editor of choice Danny Evarts. The red numbering at each line is so that I can point him straight to any changes I want made (delete the word X on page 143, line 26, etc). We’ve already done the edits, so at this stage the proof exists for last minute minor amendments, and so that I can see what the book is actually going to look like when the cover is opened (and it’s beautiful, but more on that another time).
This also means I have the final page count for the novel, and so the cover designer can finish the cover flat that will go around the novel (without knowing the page count you can’t work out how wide the spine of the book needs to be). Those dimensions are away to Emma now, and I don’t expect it will take her too long to deliver.
Which means I’m about to cross the line. I’ve talked before about having a bit of time before I take the freelance plunge in order to sit back, have a think, natter to you about some ideas, and so forth. That’s at an end now. Craven Place is where it all starts.
There are still a few more months before I’ll actually be on sabbatical from my usual dayjobbery, of course. Going forward from here though, it’s all about doing stuff, instead of working stuff out in advance. The more I get done before the end of September, the more chance I can make this all work.
Although Craven Place will be ready to publish in the next week or so, I won’t be releasing it for sale until the start of July (I have a red ring around Monday July 1st on my calendar). When it’s released, it will initially only be available in paperback and on Kindle. In October, I’ll publish it more widely, for the Nook, Kobo, and other ebook platforms.
If you want to read it for free before the rest of the world can even buy it, all you have to do is sign up to my announcements newsletter at the top right of this page. You will get an email whenever I’ve something big to announce (usually a new book), so you don’t have to worry about missing an important blog or tweet. I won’t spam you or share your data, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
You’ll also get a free ebook copy (that will work on ANY reader) of everything I publish myself, starting from Craven Place, for as long as I do so. It’s the ultimate lifetime subscription, and amounts to at least one free book a year for quite some time. I also give books made of actual trees, that you can’t get elsewhere, to one reader every time I send a newsletter. Go and enter your email address while you remember, then come back and I’ll tell you about dandelions.
Done? Okay then. Dandelions.
You have hopefully already read my blog on The 52, but here’s a summary. I’m encouraging people to send me images – photos, drawings, pictures of art they created. If I get fifty-two submissions, I’ll use each one as inspiration for a short story. I’ll publish those stories here next year along with the image that inspired them, one a week, free for all to read. You should go and read that post, and submit something. I’m about 25% of the way towards my funding goal (of pictures instead of cash), and so far have twisted trees, beautiful man-made butterflies, distant children on the shore, dinosaurs, chickens, floating babies, and something that might be a fungus or a dessert or both (really no idea, but an image doesn’t have to make sense to qualify – in fact the less I know about it, the easier it is to start a story based on the thing from scratch). Go and read that post, have a look at the world around you, and send me something I can turn into a story.
Jackie B* asked me on Facebook why I was doing this at all. Next year is supposed to be about The Freelance Leap, she rightly surmised. How can writing 52 short stories – thousands of words – and giving them away for free possibly help that? What is my cunning master-plan?
Um. There isn’t one. Which is sort of the point. This is the opposite of a master-plan. An anti-master-plan, if you like.
The Freelance Leap is all about planning, and working out how to make the thing I love doing more than anything in the world pay me enough to spend even more of my time doing it. That’s well and good, and I enjoy that type of planning. It comes with a risk though – what anybody looking to turn the thing they love into their job fears the most.
Restriction. Not being able to take massive risks. Doing the healthiest thing for a career, and not just the thing that’s most fun.
That’s what The 52 is for. It’s an ambitious, challenging project that’s there just for the joy of doing it. I want to write fifty-two strange little stories, and send them out into the world just to see what happens. Maybe there will be some sort of payback, and the Freelance Leap will benefit in the long run. If that’s the case it will be interesting to see how it happens, because at the moment I can’t think of anything. Maybe all that will happen is that it will happen.
That’s okay by me. Fifty-two stories that I don’t have to restrict to a particular market or business need, that I can just watch drift away and hope they make somebody happy. It’s good for my sanity, if nothing else.
A (clearly jet lagged) Neil Gaiman gave a splendid speech at the London Book festival this year, that I’ll embed below. Publishers didn’t like it very much, but writers did. He reminded me that sometimes writing isn’t about trying to fit into something, but instead can be about doing silly things, and making mistakes, and trying a thousand things to see if just one turns into something exciting. I never want the goal of full time writing to make me forget that I think that. I’ve embedded the speech below, and if you’re into any sort of creative stuff you should listen to it.
The 52 is about freedom. So go and read about it. Send me stuff. Help me make stories.
There’s a second project I want to do too, that won’t make me a penny. It’s a hopefully beautiful limited edition thing, and only a hundred of it will exist. Nobody will be able to buy it. The only people who get a copy will get it for free, whether they want it or not, and they won’t necessarily know who I am, why they have it, or where it came from. I need to wait a bit to do that one, because it’s more expensive that The 52. it will happen though, and it won’t fit neatly with The Freelance Leap any better than The 52 does.
Stories aren’t just profits waiting to happen. Stories mean something. That’s what these projects are about.
*I have to two Jackie Bs in my life, and both are among the most splendid people I know. This cannot be a coincidence. If you are also a Jackie B, then congratulations. Statistically, you too are probably smart, lovely, and a joy to know.