A log of Blogjam past issues

Landing 2017.11.04

Battling onwards

Getting social approval

04th of November, 2017

As a species Homo Sapiens have developed to become gregarious and social creatures. We have a natural tendency to clump together into mutually supportive groups.

In many respects, being a writer is about flying in the face of human evolution. We writers have a tendency to withdrawn from society whilst working. We crave peace and quiet in order to let our thoughts crystallise and that's just not possible as part of a large group.

Nevertheless, 'going it alone' is a frightening and scary task. It can also become unhealthy, both mentally and physically. It is therefore of great importance for writers to come out of there shells occasionally and interact with others. Of particular benefit is showing off all the darling little beasts you have been creating recently.

With all ths in mind, this week I again returned to an online community that has been very helpful and supportive during my writing project critique.org. As a member of several critiquing forums, I'm happy to say that each is unique and helpful in its own way. Critique.org's special talent is in delivering high quality, well balance critique on everything from short stories to complete novels. Furthermore, it does all this within 'closed' workshops so as to protect copyright and publishability.

If you are a writer yourself, I look forward to seeing you on the platform.

In the mean time join the Newsletter to become part of the Ax-yZ community and stay up to date with all our goings on.


It's a big issue

Read all about it in the latest Ax-yZ newsletter

08th of October, 2017

The latest issue of the Ax-yZ newsletter has just gone out to all subscribers.

Join the Newsletter to get your copy.


A long hard summer

Back under the boardwalk

27th of September, 2017

Since the last blog post a lot has been going on. There was a never ending stream of business trips, a sprint visit to some long lost family members, a rather nasty case of Bronchitis and a large slice of procrastination. All in all its a wonder that any progress has been made on the creative projects. However, it has!

The Ax-yZ project has been creeping along. There are some more graphics and a bit more content especially around the Blog and Newsletter pages.

Speaking of new content, the Orb writing project has been making a lot of progress both on and off the website. After much deliberation (years worth!) the decision was finally made about which book to actually start the whole saga off with. As a result Borderlands has made gigantic leaps forward in terms of manuscript size and maturity (see previous posts). Additionaly, it is now also included on the Ax-yZ website. There is both a cover sheet with a bit of book blurb and also the first couple of chapters. We very much look forward to all your feedback about the story so far.


In the green zone

Crossing over into novel territory

10th of September, 2017

Quick update:

Title: Borderlands

Status: 1st draft

Plot Arc: Yes

Complete Character profiles: 7.0

Words in manuscript: 50160

I have again crossed back over the 50k mark. This makes me feel good. :bigcool: The manuscript is quite untidy consisting of a mixture of layer 3 (story in bullet points and notes) and layer 5 (full prose). However, have cheated a bit and skipped over the layer 4 prep work that I should have done before starting any layer five stuff (I was struck be inspiration and wanted to record it rather than putting it off, what can I say?). With this in mind, the manuscript word count is going to hit a plateau for the next week at least as I re-trace my steps and 'snowflake' this puppy into submission.

As I am not tracking the word count in my Snowflake software, the only indication of progress is going to be the Character profiles. The count is going to go up and, just for a laugh, I might add in some character introductions to my next posting here.


A splitting book ache

The manuscript gains a sibling

04th of September, 2017

As feared, the day job has been running interference recently so my routine has been disrupted. Nevertheless, I have made a little progress so here is the current status:

Title: Borderlands

Status: 1st draft

Plot Arc: Yes

Complete Character profiles: 7.0

Words in manuscript: 48428

This puts the word count just short of the 50k minimum I am aiming for in the finished manuscript. Much of this is layer three notes so there remains substantial room for expansion and brutal editing as needs be.

Significantly, the word count on this manuscript actually dropped by over 2k this week (from a brief peak at just over the magic 50k). This is because I decided that the trailing lump of text would actually be better in a sequel. This sequel is actually the second half of the original Borderlands story. Now I have to think of a title for this extra book. I am currently hovering between 'The Prince' and 'Yell', only time shall tell what it eventually turns out to be.


Not doing things

The boat can wait

20th of August, 2017

Just a brief update to keep things tracking nicely. I am sticking determinedly to getting Borderlands finished. It has been a struggle, especially as one of my non-writing projects has been elbowing its way to the front recently. However, I did NOT continue my plans to design, build and sail a kite powered yacht, instead I knuckled down and put some more black on white.

Title: Borderlands

Status: 1st draft

Plot Arc: Yes

Complete Character profiles: 7.0

Words in manuscript: 40851

The Character profile counter crept up due to another o.5 that has been included. Thanks primarily to that character the word count jumped up to 40k. As this is layer 3 stuff it is easily going to inflate to at least 60k or more with some filling in. All in all I am feeling very pleased and positive about the whole thing.

However, the nasty monster of my day job is threatening to get in the way. I may have to put down my pen and pick up my passport and travel to an overseas customer to finalise a big sales deal..... Why must customers insist on haggling? They need to accept that I'm right, that the product is right, that the price is right and that they should just sign on the dotted line for goodness' sake already!


Half way house

Crossing the mid point in word count

10th of August, 2017

Hello everyone that is either truly interested in my progress or has just stumbled upon this blog by accident, you are all very welcome to hang out here or kick a few pebbles about as may please you. Due to having to undergo the 'terrible' experience of a fun and relaxing summer vacation with my next of kin, there was a recent hiatus in my writing. The progress on my 'primary focus' book now stands as follows:

Title: Borderlands

Status: 1st draft

Plot Arc: Yes

Complete Character profiles: 6.5

Words in manuscript: 30811

This represents a significant drop in my weekly word count. Nevertheless, I did manage to get something done and some of these words are very good ones! By passing the 30k mark I have crossed an important psychological threshold. IF I were to retain everything that I have written so far in the final manuscript then I WOULD be over half way through already. :D Obviously, I may have to trim a bit during the editing process so I have probably not got to the pre-edit half way point yet, that is probably still another 10k ahead. :( Still ever forwards and upwards!

At a different level, the addition of a deceptively insignificant 0.5 to the character profiles is really quite important. I haven't rounded the character out yet, but it promises to provide the zing and focus I was concerned that this story was lacking up until now. Crucially, if this character plays out how I am anticipating, it is going to cause an almost tectonic shift in my basic writing concept. Up until now I have been planning to write large sections of each book from a single character's 1st Person PoV (also in Present as a by the way). The way it is currently looking, this may just end up transforming into TWO 1st Person characters per book. This sounds like a small change but it has far reaching implications for my whole saga concept. I haven't got my head around the whole thing yet.

Stay tuned for more!


Focusing in

The book at the top of the pile

18th of July, 2017

I have been concentrating on generating text for just one book recently. Therefore, I shall just give a specific update on that one manuscript.

Title: Borderlands

Status: 1st draft

Plot Arc: Yes

Complete Character profiles: 6

Words in manuscript: 26541

Taking 60k words as an upper limit for the books that I wish to publish, this puts me about 44% of the way through. However, rather alarmingly, I seem to have hardly begun on the plot arc I have planned. I am still somewhere in 'Act 1'. I am sure I'll hit 30k words or more before being able to move on to 'Act 2'.

It is looking like I shall have to crop the first act prose quite heavily during 2nd draft editing. Otherwise, I shall likely end up at 70k to 80k in the book.


The story takes form

Discovering briefly mislaid prose

11th of July, 2017

I have gone through all my various folders and devices and realised that there was a fair bit of 'layer 3' stuff that had fallen down the back of the sofa. I have aggregated all the text documents and updated the word counts. I have also grouped the books thematically to give a better idea of how they related to each other.

[Disclaimer: All titles and character names remain provisional until otherwise confirmed in the final printed version. Lists are non-ordered and may be incomplete]

Project Overview

Title: 'Orb'

Number of books conceived: 30

Number of books published: 0

Titles conceived:

The Ahlmatredis Empire - Ocean Bridge, Empire, Crystalies.

The First and Final Dragon - Eddy, Borderlands, Steward of the Everthrone, The Second Coming, Traakenholt, Trivian, Wallic, Blade Brothers, Mark of the Serpent.

The Gods of a defiled Heaven - Flight of the GEPs, Curse of the GEPs, Fall of the GEPs, Progeny of the GEPs, Legacy of the GEPs.

The NGR Missions - Crossing Eden, A Truce with Demons, The Crystal Whisperer.

The Orb Inner Sequence - The Rainbow's Eye, The Librarian, The Again-Again.

The Sweet Water Chronicles - The Black Tower (short), The Fall of Gort, Age of the Burden Beasts, Legends of the Sky Masters, The Tribe of Three.

The Whyr - The Whyr Girl, The Pack.

Total Words in manuscripts: 88486

Book Overview

Title Status Plot Arc Complete Character profiles Words in manuscript
Borderlands 1st draft Yes 6 18758
Crystalies 1st draft Yes 2 17917
E3 1st draft No 0 13772
Eddy 1st draft Yes 0 12848
Traakenholt 1st draft Yes 4 12730
The Fall of Gort 1st draft Yes 0 3273
The Whyr Girl 1st draft No 0 2158
Age of the Burden Beasts 1st draft No 0 2148
Empire 1st draft No 0 1313
Crossing Eden 1st draft Yes 0 1283
The Second Coming 1st draft No 0 1249
The Tribe of Three 1st draft No 0 1144
Steward of the Everthrone 1st draft No 0 1109
Legends of the Sky Masters 1st draft No 0 97

Layering it on

My approach to writing a mega saga

05th of July, 2017

Since my last post several people have asked about my writing style and how I keep track of such massive projects. The short answer is I'm still working on a perfect process. Some people work in a highly structured manner whereas others are totally non-linear. Nether way is right or wrong per se. You just have to find something that works for you. Personally, I have begun to develop a hybrid system. Rather than talking about stages, I like to think in terms of layers.

0th Layer

Post-it notes, random thoughts jotted in note books, ideas I dictate to my smartphone, photographs of things that have caught my fancy, questions people have asked me, memories of people and events from my life and so on. All these things swirl around and clump together to form the inspirational base material for the project.

1st Layer

I create MASSIVE charts that record the individual story blocks (think of these as books for the moment) and trace the interactions and sequences. This is especially important when the possibility of time travel is taken into account within the project. Also there are multiple parallel streams of story that interact and intersect at different times.

2nd Layer

I use Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake software to lay out the foundation for each story block. I find the formality of this helps focus my mind and think more deeply about the plot and the characters.

3rd Layer

I write the whole book in fast-forward note form to make sure that it flows properly. This is my speed writing layer using material from previous layers.

4th Layer

I return to Snowflake and finish off the scene layout based on what I have now learnt about the story.

5th Layer

I write the prose. I flesh out what I created in layer 4 with proper sentences and draw inspiration from the earlier layers. This is also the point at which most dialogue is created for the first time.

Layer 1 is why I can say that there are 26 books identified so far. Layers 2 to 5 are the 1st Draft stage. My manuscript word counts come from a combination of layers 3 and 5.

After a great deal of trial and error I have identified 2 story blocks (Crystalies and Borderlands) that are probably the best points of entry and so should be published first. This is based on the degree to which they can be read and understood autonomously without knowing anything else that has happened (or shall happen) elsewhere in the network. However, I am not forcing myself to only work on these two. There are two more (First and Final Dragon and Traakenholt) where I have enjoyed large amounts of spontaneous inspiration. This can be seen in the word count. However, these two are more my 'self reward' blocks because they are a lot of fun to write but are probably close to meaningless if read before many of the other blocks. Candidates for the 3rd and 4th block to be published are The Tribe of Three and Ocean Bridge as they are also fairly autonomous too. I have subdivided the project so much because I intend to only publish shorter novels (50 to 60 thousand words). As soon as I think a block is getting too big I try and break it down into two or more smaller blocks.

Makes sense?


Writing the Orb

Hello every bodily personage!

02nd of July, 2017

This is actually the first progress log or journal I have ever made, ever, at all, ever. It is pretty much a first for me, if you get my drift. I usually keep everything 'neatly' stacked and filed in my head. However, my head is a dark and mischievous place full of maggots and pixies that either eat my ideas or randomly re-shuffle the stack. Any thoughts or suggestions anyone may have would be greatly appreciated. I am not sure if this is going to be of any interest to anyone else but it might just turn out to be of interest to me. So here goes:-

[Disclaimer: All titles and character names remain provisional until otherwise confirmed in the final printed version. Lists are non-ordered and may be incomplete]

Project Overview

Title: 'Orb'

Number of books conceived: 26

Number of books published: 0

Titles conceived: Orb, Traakenholt, First and Final Dragon, E3, Crystalies, The Fall of Gort, The Whyr Girl, Crossing Eden, The Black Tower (short), Blade Brothers, The Steward, Ocean Bridge, Borderlands, Simon001, Rise of the Titans, The Sweet Water Chronicles, Legends of the Sky Masters, The Bomb's Tale (short), The Tribe of Three....

Total Words in manuscripts: ~75k

Book Overview

Title Status Plot Arc Full Character profiles Words in manuscript
Crystalies 1st draft Yes 2 ~17k
Borderlands 1st draft Yes 6 ~15k
Traakenholt 1st draft Yes 4 ~13k
First and Final Dragon 1st draft Yes 0 ~10k
E3 1st draft No 0 ~8k
Crossing Eden 1st draft Yes 0 ~4k
The Fall of Gort 1st draft Yes 0 ~3k
The Whyr Girl 1st draft No 0 ~2k
Ocean Bridge 1st draft No 0 ~2k
The Tribe of Three 1st draft No 0 ~1k

The Ax-yZ creative projects platform is On-Line!

Hello and welcome

06th of May, 2017

The Ax-yZ creative projects platform is a showcase for creative projects. You can dive into and explore all kinds of projects from Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writing through White Papers that take a fun approach to Theoretical Physics to blogs on Health Tips, Product Reviews, Travel Accommodation and much more. But be warned, there are going to be a fair few quite atrocious puns mixed in along the way as well. So it's going to be perfectly understandable if you wince and groan. Just try not to do it too loudly in public spaces.

We set ourselves the target of launching on the 1st of May, 2017. We did. However, it then went all wrong and we had to take it down and put the BETA version back up. Once we found the error (a stupid little typo that threw everything off) we uploaded the full version again. There are still a few kinks in the code that need ironing out we'll fix these as we move ahead. We hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment of the site and that you still have fun exploring. If you do, or don't, like what you see, please let us know.

If your 'fancy has been tickled' then we look forward to greeting you again once the site is live. Until then, you can stay up-to-date with developments with our email newsletter. Not a subscriber yet? No problem! Not only is it free to register, but as a ONCE OFF OFFER for new subscribers, we shall also send you FIVE THOUSAND WORDS from our Sci-Fi/Fantasy crossover book series 'Orb' as a FREE SAMPLER. Don't hesitate any longer,



Jamming in all the blog back log

01st of May, 2017

This is where you can find past copies of 'Blogjam' the Ax-yZ blog.

Don't forget, by subscribing to our free email Newsletter you can not only get the latest news long before it gets uploaded to this archve but also as a ONCE OFF OFFER for new subscribers, we shall also send you FIVE THOUSAND WORDS from our Sci-Fi/Fantasy crossover book series 'Orb' as a FREE SAMPLER.