Back from vacation, and hardly a word written!

Posted on June 20, 2016 (Subscribe to Blog)

I spent the first half of June vacationing in England and Wales. We flew out on May 29, stayed at my brother's house in the south of England for a week, visited another brother at his new house in the south of Wales, then drove north to a rented cottage in the Snowdonia region of Wales, then returned to England for a wedding. Surprisingly dry and sunny weather throughout, fantastic scenery around Wales, and a one-hour drive on our last day to Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey.

I should add that we ate a lot of food. Fish and chips, steak and ale pies, full English breakfasts with proper sausages and bacon, crumpets and scones, Scotch eggs, and the rest. All the good stuff. Oh, and plenty of wine gums and decent chocolate. All these things are sadly missing or hard to find where we live in the south-east corner of America, where people think grits are good and tea should be served cold.

Don't get me wrong. I love where I live in Chickamauga, Georgia. There's a lot to like here. But there's a lot I miss, too. In case you don't know, I grew up in England and moved to the USA in 2001 at the age of 31, so I've been here 15 years now. Usually when someone asks me if I miss England, I say "Not really" and shrug it off. This time it's a little different, and it might be because of the fantastic scenery we enjoyed throughout Wales – literally everywhere we drove, from Llanelli in the south to Porthmadog in the north, was worthy of being on a postcard. And we had a great time driving around the Downton Abbey area back in England, all those narrow roads and tiny "villages" tucked away in the hills.

I'd fully intended to finish Sinister Roots, the second installment of the Island of Fog Legacies, during this vacation. I'm about two-thirds through and expected to have plenty of time on my hands. But shortly after I arrived in the UK, I realized I couldn't concentrate enough to write, so I decided I'd just read through what I'd written so far and get that edited. I didn't do that either! Basically, I did very little writing at all. All this means my planned June publication is delayed, and I'm now looking at July or August. But hey, I'm allowed some time off, aren't I? I'm still faster than George R. R. Martin. :-)

I will say, though, that I'm really liking what I've done so far. Of course, as with any book, I'm nervous about what readers will think of it. What if it misses the mark? It's certainly unique, a single and fairly straightforward mission that turns into something entirely different. And over halfway through, Travis, this time in chimera form, finds himself in a position where he could either go on home and report a major problem for the adults to deal with... or he can deal with it himself. What do you think he chooses? Yes, he does what any hero would do and tries to deal with the situation himself. And to be fair, this is no foolhardy decision. Time is against him, and he has no choice but to intervene. So he's turning out to be a real hero worthy of his famous parents Hal and Abigail Franklin.

With about two-thirds of the book written, I'm into the final act and know exactly where I'm going. But one not-so-small detail is undecided, and I'm giving that great thought. I might even write two endings and see how my beta readers choose. This decision doesn't impact the preceding story at all, but it does impact Travis's future and the overall tone of the finished novel. So it's quite important.

One thing I find interesting and kind of exciting is how varied these Legacies adventures are (and will be throughout the series). Not only will Travis be an entirely different kind of shapeshifter each time, but it seems he has a different companion as well. A shy imp named Nitwit followed him about in Unicorn Hunters, and his best friend Rez accompanies him in Sinister Roots. And I can confirm that Book 3 will see Robbie and Lauren's daughter Melinda joining him. She'll be a shapeshifter too, though a little younger. I suspect Travis, being older and more experienced, will naturally try to shield her from danger... but she'll pooh-pooh his gallant effort and aim to show him she doesn't need his help, which will lead to trouble. I don't have a name for Book 3 yet, but it will involve fish! Make of that what you will.

One final note. Regular readers of my monthly short stories will have noticed that both May and June's entries are missing. That was a conscious decision rather than pure laziness on my part. I've had so little feedback about those monthly stories, and they take up so much of my time, that I'm benching the idea for a while. I'll still write a story occasionally, but not on the 15th of every month, a deadline that honestly has become a bit of a chore. I found that I'd have to break off from novel writing for almost an entire week to write a short story, which was a little too much of a distraction. At some point, I plan to release some of the later short stories (plus a few other unpublished ones) as an Island of Fog Chronicles ebook.

Okay, now back to editing. Move along, nothing to see here.

Comment by VIVIEN on Tuesday, June 21, 2016...

So glad to hear you enjoyed your holiday & to find out why there were no short stories. I looked forward to reading them each month, but guess I do understand why you've stopped writing them. I'll be keeping an eye out for your next publication & if you need a beta reader you can call on me.

Comment by BRIAN B. on Tuesday, June 21, 2016...

Well, now you need to set a story in jolly old England, don't you old boy?

Comment by MICHAEL BARRINGTON on Tuesday, June 21, 2016...

I loved the little short stories, but I totally understand what you mean about deadlines. Do them as the inspiration comes to you, not because there is some expectation or deadline. Things are always better when they are not forced.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Tuesday, June 21, 2016...

Thanks for your support, Vivien and Michael! And Brian, an adventure in England... Hmm. Funny thing is, I always saw Carter as a quaint English setting, and the villagers' accents were distinctly Cornish (at least in my head).

Comment by GRAEME JENKS on Wednesday, June 22, 2016...

I also looked forward to the short stories but can also understand the reason behind stopping them. Can't wait to read the next Island of Fog book. I have to say that no matter where I have been, North of Scotland scenery is the best. Haha. Home sweet home.

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