September Review 2020

September Review 2020

The September Review often shows a drop in word count and focus as I return to school after the summer and refocus my energy on my principal job.  This year follows that pattern.  However, with the current situation being different from the normal start of a school year, I’ve been much more tired than usual.  I’ve therefore spent a lot less time on writing than would be the case.

I have had two significant successes this month, with a very successful advertising campaign following up the successful launch of Dead Hander.

September Review – word counts

During September I wrote 4,353 words.  This is lower than originally intended, but as has been the case over the last few months, one reason is the increased focus on editing and proofreading.  I also spent two weeks commuting by car, which knocked out my usual writing slot on the train.  I’m back on the train again, which is incidentally empty, something which happened previously in the lead up to the March lockdown.

September Review – writing projects underway

· There are two first drafts queued in the editing pile.  These are waiting to become the primary editing focus.

· Most of my editing effort, which has been sporadic, has been focused on the ‘Long Journey’ short story I previously had on the website.  I’ve given it a tidy and have just to apply the last edits and give it a final read-through.  I did not get started on the edits for the last book in the Royal Zombie Corps series.

· The 1980s short story, set in the zombie universe, has made some progress this month.  This first draft is still a long way from completion.

· The third story in the Butcher’s Funeral series is part-written, but is still on hold.

September Review – other projects

The launch of Dead Handlers at the end of August has continued to increase interest in my books.  Likewise, a timely advertised one day offer on the first zombie book, Blood, Mud and Corpses, nearly hit a major milestone for me.

Publishing schedule

Having returned full time to school, I am still happy with my revised publishing schedule. I have left it unchanged for now.

· December 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. The last book in the WWI sequence.

· Early 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Summer 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

October Plans

· Extend my writing focus as I become used to the ‘new normal’ of working in a school during an epidemic.  Fingers cross we make it to the half-term holiday without a lockdown affecting schools.

· Complete edits of the short story

· Begin the editing process for ‘The Sands of War’

· Finish the first draft of the 1980s zombie short

· Continue working on marketing efforts

August Review 2020

August Review 2020

As usual, the summer has proved productive, although this was because of the amount of editing and proofreading I undertook, rather than new words.  For this August review, I am pleased to report I have released Dead Handler.

August Review – word counts

In August I only wrote 4,484 new words towards my various projects.  However, I’ve tried to not get hung up on word counts as I’ve been putting a great deal of effort into editing and proofreading. What’s the point of new words if you never get to improve the ones you’ve already got?

August Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, launched on Amazon at the end of the month.  This was about three weeks before the official Amazon publication date, but in line with what I intended.

· There are two first drafts queued in the editing pile.  These are waiting to become the primary editing focus.

  • · There are several short stories I’ve queued for editing.  I’ve pulled one which was previously published on the blog for a tidy up.  The story should go back online during September.
  • · I have started a new short story in the zombie universe, set in the 1980s.  I’m planning for this to only be available to mailing list subscribers.

· The third story in the Butcher’s Funeral series is part-written, but is still to one side while I work on other areas.

· I’m continuing to develop ideas for two new future series through background reading and research.

August Review – other projects

Following the wipe of the blog earlier in the year, I’ve finally reinstated all the old posts.  This was a task I’ve been dragging my heels on for quite a while as it has been time consuming.  However, now everything is back – except one short story which I’m editing further. 

With a book launch in August, I also worked on a few marketing approaches. 

Publishing schedule

The new publishing schedule seems achievable, and I’ve been happy with how achievable it should be.  Time and workload will tell, as my main job will probably demand over the next few months.

· December 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. The last book in the WWI sequence.

· Early 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Summer 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

September Plans

· Re-establish my working routine as I return to my full-time job after lockdown

· Complete edits on one story

· Begin the editing process for ‘The Sands of War’

· Add a significant chunk to the 1980s zombie short

· Continue working on marketing efforts

Dead Handler – Now Available!

I am excited to announce that Dead Handler, book 6 in the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now available on Amazon.

Amidst the chaos of the Great War, the Germans have a new weapon. The dead have no sides, the people who command them do.

With Britain reeling following the zombie outbreak in London, the Central Powers launch their Spring Offensive, a last desperate attack to knock Britain and France out of the war before the vast US army arrives. For the first time Germany uses zombie soldiers. In a desperate attempt to end the new zombie threat, the British despatch their leading zombie expert to duel with the notorious Dead Handler.

Dead Handler available for pre-order

Dead Handler, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Dead Handler will be released in the second half of August 2020. It’s a great book, and like Outbreak London, it is a longer book than the first four in the series. The final, 7th book in the series will follow later in 2020.

Amidst the chaos of the Great War, the Germans have a new weapon.

The dead have no sides, the people who command them do. 

With Britain reeling following the zombie outbreak in London, the Central Powers launch their Spring Offensive, a last desperate attack to knock Britain and France out of the war before the vast US army arrives. For the first time, Germany uses zombie soldiers. 

In a desperate attempt to end the new zombie threat, the British despatch their leading zombie expert to duel with the notorious Dead Handler. 

July Review 2020

It’s an excellent time to take stock in this July Review. Last summer I stepped up the pace with my writing, so now a year on it’s a good time to reflect on what has worked and what hasn’t.

In the last twelve months, I’ve managed to publish one book, Outbreak London. I’ve also got one book coming up on Amazon pre-order (more details to follow on this blog later this week). I’ve also two more books ready for editing and am writing a third.

Having gone over two years without publishing, it was good to get things moving again. I was completely over-optimistic and hoped I would be able to publish at least four books over the course of the year. Getting the drafts written, was not the problem. The biggest challenge has been getting the editing to a high standard, especially the frequent redrafting, which is very time-consuming. I’m therefore revising my release plans for the next year to be far more realistic with the time demands. Likewise, I’m adjusting my workflow to better balance the creative versus the editing demands.

A number of other things I put in place a year ago are also having an impact. This blog has been more active than before, although it tends to be based around monthly reviews rather than anything else at the moment. I’ve grown my mailing list, the CM Harald Readers’ Club. If you haven’t signed up for it, you can download an exclusive short story only available to subscribers. I’ve also improved my marketing on Amazon and Facebook. Writing several short stories, I’ve experimented with some new characters and stories I’d like to develop. Finally, I’ve been really pleased to commission some excellent new covers, one of which was for a previously released book.

July Review – word counts

Word counts in July are usually excellent as I’m moving into the summer holidays and therefore have much more time to write. However, this year I’ve used the time to work on Dead Handler to get it ready for publication. As a result, I’ve written far fewer new words. Writing new words is not where the bottleneck currently is, so I’m not worried about holding back on this. Therefore, instead of the 15,000 words I was aiming at in July, I’ve only hit 5,800.

July Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now available for pre-order. It will shortly be going out to ARC readers, and is undergoing the application of final edits. I’m expecting to release the book towards the end of August

· There are two first drafts queued in the editing pile

· The third story in the Butcher’s Funeral series is part-written, but I’ve put it to one side while I focus on editing drafted work

· I’m continuing to develop ideas for two new future series

July Review – other projects

I’m continuing to work on a number of marketing projects and tided several aspects of this blog. July was my third best-ever month for sales, which is good considering how Coronavirus impacted sales earlier this year. Several other authors in my genre, and related genres, experienced significant drops in sales during the early stages of the outbreak.

Publishing schedule

In light of the areas which have progressed over the last year, and those which have not, I’m massively adjusting my publishing schedule to make it far more realistic. Now I have a year of experience working at this writing pace, I think it is only realistic to aim to publish new works twice a year. I may well exceed this, but this is unlikely based on the current pace.

· August 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.

· December 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. This is the last book in the WWI sequence.

· Early 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Summer 2021 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

August Plans

· Release ‘Dead Handler’. It has a release date in September on Amazon, but it will be released in the second half of August.

· Apply final edits to ‘Dead Handler’, finalise copies for publication.

· Get back to writing the first draft of Butcher’s third book.

· Edit a short story.

· Continue working on marketing efforts.

June Review 2020

With the pubs opening in England, perhaps the country is finally returning to routines, even if the priorities are backwards. It’s a good time to have a June Review as my patterns are also changing. Schools aren’t operating fully on site, so I’m still working a hybrid of some days in school, some days from home. It’s been good to see some pupils, having started working face-to-face with them again in the last few weeks. However, despite not being able to fully attend school, I can go to the bar to buy some beer after work. All is good in the universe.

Pleasingly, I’ve managed to keep at the writing. However, I usually do well in June, writing in the garden in the good weather during the evenings. The last fortnight has been slightly damp, almost as if summer has been cancelled. Hopefully, it’ll pick up soon so I can get back out there.

The picture is one of the lockdown cookery attempts I’ve made. This one is a Wagamama recipe Katsu chicken. Very tasty and one of a few new dishes I’ve tried.

June Review – Word Counts

June was the best month so far this year for word counts. Having fallen behind earlier in the year, I had a target of nearly 15,000 words for June. I cleared this with 15,378. Compared to 11,459 in May, this is quite satisfying, especially as June had eight days at 1k+.

June Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now 85% edited. This is dragging on quite a bit. I’ve split the last chapter into three as it was far too long. While I’ve increased my pace of editing, I’m still making plodding progress with this.

· ‘Butcher’s Fire’, Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is 2nd in the editing queue.

· The third story in the Butcher’s Funeral series is progressing with a fair degree of rapidity, consuming most of the 15,000 words I wrote in June.

· No progress has been made on the future historical story. I’m also pondering the outlines of a low fantasy series.

June Review – other projects

The short story ‘Let’s Eat Children‘ was posted on the blog in June and has been a hit on Facebook. There were a few requests for more short stories, possibly more stories in this vein. I’ll be looking at tidying up some short stories, including some previously released on the blog, but not currently available.

Sales are continuing to return to pre-Coronavirus levels, with late June close to where things were for me before the lockdown. I’ve continued to work hard on my advertising strategy, trimming out underperforming adverts on Amazon.

Publishing schedule

I’ve delayed several items on the agenda simply as I’m finding the in-depth editing very time-consuming. Until I can figure out how to do it quickly, I’ll have to settle for a lower pace of publication.

· Summer 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.

· Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Autumn 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. This is the last book in the WWI sequence.

· Winter 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

July plans

· Finish editing and proof-reading ‘Dead Handler’. Really want this checked off the list as it’s been hanging around for ages.

· Release ‘Dead Handler’ to the ARC readers for final checking.

· Continue writing the first draft of Butcher’s third book.

· Continue to research the new historical series I’m working on. Continue outlining low fantasy story. Not sure how much of a series this one could be.

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing.

· Edit and upload another short story to the blog.

May Review 2020

I’m writing this May Review at the start of June. In the UK, we’re sending in the tiny kids first, and their staff, to see if it’s safe for the rest of us.  Yes, I’m a teacher, and so are others in my family.  The Government has regularly played upon the myth of the Blitz spirit, when I think the myths of trench warfare may be more appropriate.  We’ve still got very high infection rates and death rates, alongside one of the highest death rates in the world (which now exceed the number of deaths caused in the Blitz). I’m very much hoping to be proved wrong, but I’ve studied the history of medicine in too much detail to be comfortable with ending the lockdown in the UK because other countries (with lower infection and death rates) are reopening.  Nor do I find any reassurance in global perceptions of British political competence at the moment.

Even while I’m still teaching from home, not commuting and other efficiencies, mean I’ve been able to get on with more writing (and gardening) than is usually the case. I’ve even lost a bit of weight with all the extra exercise opportunities.

May Review – Word Counts

May was much better than April for word counts.  I’ve got back into the full swing of writing and punched out 11,459 words in May.  This total gives an average of 370 words per day, just below my intended monthly target when I planned the year out.  Having missed several monthly writing targets this year, I’m now aiming to write just short of 15,000 words in June.

Editing has been continuing. I’m finding my improved computer-aided checks time consuming, so it’s not going as quickly as I wanted.  I had wished to have ‘Dead Handler’ ready for proof-reading, but I’ve still got the last chapter to edit.  The process is more effective at spotting mistakes, so the extra delay should be worth it.

May Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now 80% edited.  I had hoped to have this finished by now.  

· ‘Butcher’s Fire’, Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is 2nd in the editing queue.

· The third story in the Butcher’s Funeral series is now 10,500 words into the first draft, and I’m working on the fourth chapter at the moment.  I suspect this book will come in at just over 50,000 words.

· The future historical project has made slow progress, although I’m watching the new series of ‘A House Through Time’ on the BBC, as this show led to the original inspiration for this story project.

June Review – other projects

Marketing is continuing at more sustainable levels.  Sales have also picked up.  They have not yet returned to pre-Coronavirus levels, but they are much higher than at the first weeks of the global lockdown.  I have also spent more time studying techniques for advertising on Amazon.

Publishing schedule

· Summer 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.

· Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Summer 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.  This is the last book in the WWI sequence.

· Autumn 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

June plans

· Finish editing and proof-reading ‘Dead Handler’. 

· Release ‘Dead Handler’ to the ARC readers for final checking.

· Continue writing the first draft of Butcher’s third book.

· Continue to research the new historical series I’m working on.

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing.

· Upload a brief story to the blog.

April Review 2020

As the global experience has progressed, things are still rather unreal. It makes for rather interesting contemplation while writing this April Review.  In the UK we are lagging behind other countries in our response to the virus. Although the media would have us believe we are eager to be out of lockdown we trail many other countries in response and data.  As an historian, it will be interesting, and sobering, picking this crisis apart in the future.  Whether that be the actions of the political actors, the influence of the media, or the work of those people in the frontline, let alone the individual stories of those lost.

For my writing experience, my focus has been all over the place.  I have worked hard for several days, while slacking off on an equal number.  I am also balancing the home-working needs of my principal job, but these are not challenging at the moment.  As an introvert, I am not finding the isolation much of a challenge; it is even refreshing.  I am not wandering around the house craving interaction with others.  Often I am looking for things to do, but there are so many things I can engage with, it is the paralysis of too many interesting things to do.  I am not raring to go back into the workplace, because working with lots of people is always the bigger challenge for me.  I pull it off very well, but to be that social always has a cost.

April Review – Word Counts

April was marginally better than March for word counts.  Unlike March, I was nowhere near as distracted by the 24-hour media cycle, but it is still a time-sink.  However, the word count has stayed low as I have spent greater time on editing.

During April the total of new words into writing was 5,345.  A daily average of 178 words.  This compared to April’s 4,837, with a daily average of 156, is an improvement.  Yes, I am aiming to write 12,000 new words each month, but I’ll pick up the slack later in the year.  

The good news is editing has been proceeding at a far higher pace.  The proof-reading of Tigers on the Western Front was completed.  In early April I uploaded the new edition for sale.  I have also invested some time working on grammar and setting up better computer-aided checks.  I have applied this fresh approach to the editing process for ‘Dead Handler’, which is half-way through editing.  The new approach is thorough and picking up many more issues before proof-reading. Hopefully, it will provide a far better final product.

April Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is 50% edited.  It is a slower process than originally intended, especially as I have expanded the detail and depth of the checks. Fortunately, I have also increased the time spent checking.  I would be very surprised if I did not have the editing and proof-reading completed by the end of May.  After that, it will be off to the ARC readers.

· Tigers on the Western Front – released in 2nd ebook format following the completion of  proof-reading.

· ‘Butcher’s Fire’, Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral has moved up to 2nd in the editing queue.

· Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series now has a name.  It will be called ‘The Sands of War’.  The artist cover brief has been submitted, and the book is now at the top of the editing queue.

· I have started a fresh story in the Butcher’s Funeral series.  This will be the third book.  The book outline is now in place.  It’s not thorough, but I know where I’m going with it.  I’m not much of a pantser with writing, more a plotter.  I completed the first draft of the first chapter three days ago and am quite pleased with it.  There is plenty of action, and a couple of clear hooks.

· I have made little progress on the future historical fiction project.  I am slowly completing background reading, which will help support the character and plot development.  I am hoping to plan out some locational research over the next few weeks.

April Review – other projects

I took part in a marketing challenge in April.  This took more effort but has had the benefit of cutting my AMS marketing costs.  Marketing is improving again as purchasing and reading patterns move closer to normality.  There is still some way to go until the patterns return to normal in the genre I am publishing in.

Publishing schedule

· April 2020 2nd ebook edition of Tigers on the Western Front, with the old cover, was released.

· Before the summer 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.

· Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition.

· Summer 2020 – ‘The Sands of War’, book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series.  This is the last book in the WWI sequence.

· Autumn 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

May plans

· Finish editing and proof-reading ‘Dead Handler’. 

· Release ‘Dead Handler’ to the ARC readers for final checking.

· Continue writing the first draft of Butcher’s third book.

· Continue focus on editing as I have two books queued.

· Continue to research the new historical series I’m working on.

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing.

· Write a brief for another book cover.

March Review 2020

So, March was like living through the pages of a thriller or science-fiction novel. Possibly it is similar to a historical memoir, such as Defoe’s experiences of the Plague.  March will be one of those shared human experiences which will be remembered and discussed in the future.  For now, the impacts are wide-ranging and are no-where clear as I write this March Review at the start of April.

Writing has obviously taken a back seat for me during March.  Living on the edge of London and working in an inner-city school, has seen the typical routine of Spring smashed to pieces.  The last two weeks of term, the school was closed, and remote learning was provided to the pupils.  This has been a very interesting experience, which was far more time-consuming than I expected.  At the same time, I also had the misfortune, or maybe the fortune, of having to self-isolate in line with Government requirements. This lasted a total of fourteen days.  Due to the evolving identification of coronavirus symptoms, we couldn’t take any risks, even though the illness was likely a heavy cold and had been lingering around the house for several weeks.

Of course, the experience of self-isolation and social distancing is significantly different from the fortnight before the schools were closed in England.  While still travelling to work with a heavy cold, I was less than popular on the emptying commuter trains.  At the time, the advice was vast quantities of mucus and a chesty cough, were not symptoms of coronavirus.  Around us, everything was closing down, with people encouraged to work from home.  There was also the steep reduction of pupils present at school as parents decided to keep their children at home, either unprepared to risk their health or suspicious of the positive messages from the Government.  The more vulnerable pupils and staff were rightly concerned about the risks of exposure, especially as the Government seemed to be pursuing a ‘herd immunity’ theory.  More than one pupil drew parallels to the Spanish Flu and waves of the Plague, especially as the history of medicine is one of the examination units we teach. Several also questioned the Government policies, making good reference to historical approaches to infectious illness.  It is unfortunate, but wise given the circumstances, the eldest of these pupils will not be able to test their skills through the examination process. Fortunately, Government advice for the UK changed and the lessons of the past have had a greater influence on policy.

Therefore, since we have all been living through a variation of an old Dean Koontz or Stephen King novel, or blockbuster movies starring Dustin Hoffman or Jude Law attempting an Australian accent, I’ve been really unfocused with my writing.  I know I’m in the same situation as many other writers, with this a frequent focus of online conversations.  I suspect I’m much the same as most other people in countries operating some degree of lockdown.  Watching and reading the news now consumes an even more significant amount of my time than it used to.

March Review – word counts

The word count during March has been meagre.  The main reason has been the disruption of the regular routine and spectating of world events.  Writing fiction, while fiction happens around you, is not really easy. It’s hard to focus.

So March only totalled 4,837 words, a daily average of 156.  This is low as my primary target for the month was 12,000.  There were twenty days on which I wrote no new fiction, many of them in the first half of the month when still commuting and drained by the constant news.

To avoid completely losing the time, I have refocused on some editing tasks which had been slipping.  However, these do not create new word counts, even though they are necessary, so not every non-writing day was lost to the creative process.

Will I make up my writing total by the end of the year?  Highly likely.  There are always ebbs and flows with writing.  While I can get hung up with daily totals, I know during holidays, I write at a far higher pace than other times. I’ll therefore quickly make up any shortfall in the summer holidays.  Also, while the schools remain closed, I may be able to find a replacement routine for working during my daily commute.

March Review – writing projects underway

· I completed two short stories.  One was the genie story I nearly finished in February.  The other was writing the central part of a short story I started while covering an English lesson. I had started this to help model a task for some pupils, putting it aside to finish at a later time as I liked the idea.  This second story featured a deceptive old lady.  I may well upload both stories to the blog at some point, but will sit on them for a while before editing.

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series is now at the top of the proof-reading list, and I’ve already scheduled it in for checking over the next month.

· The paperback version of Blood, Mud and Corpses was successfully released. I’m pleased with how it looks and have a couple of copies myself.

· Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is still awaiting editing and is third in the editing queue.

· Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now second in the editing queue.

· Tigers on the Western Front – the final-proof reading was nearly finished in time to be included in the March Review, with just one more chapter to check before uploading the ebook 2nd edition.

· I have started plotting the third book in the Butcher’s Funeral series.  This is likely to be my new writing focus.

March Review – other projects

I have made little effort with marketing during March.  In the first few days I put in quite a bit of work on AMS, as the new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses was finally usable.  However, as the month progressed, it became clear the usual advertising channels were proving unstable. Purchasing and reading patterns are being greatly affected by the news.  Who needs to read fiction when you’re living through it?  However, at some point, reading patterns will return to normal.

I have continued research on a new historical series I am planning.  This background reading has the goal of searching for historical and locational information to lend the story greater depth.  It has been fascinating and a welcome distraction from the news.

Publishing schedule

· March 2020 – the new paperback for Blood, Mud and Corpses was released.

· Before the summer 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. Yes, I have moved the date again. I’ve simply looked at how unfocused I am at the moment.  All of the dates have been adjusted in light of this.

· April 2020 2nd ebook edition of Tigers on the Western Front, with the old cover for now

· Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition

· Summer 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series

· Late Summer 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

April plans

· Finish editing and upload 2nd edition of Tigers on the Western Front

· Continue outlining Butcher’s third book

· Not worry about word counts and instead focus on editing, with headway on ‘Dead Handler’.

· Continue to research the new series I’m working on

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing

· Write briefs for the next set of covers to be created

February Review 2020

The last month has been tough, hence the February Review is not as positive as usual. I have struggled to achieve the volume of writing I would like, mainly as I have been distracted from new work. The main distraction was my blog getting hacked in the middle of the month with even the online backups getting wiped. This problem has been fixed. While I have recovered all of my original content, I have not yet restored it all. I also lost the social media content. As a result, I’ve not been as focused on new words as intended, nor have I got enough editing done. 

On the positive side, the process of reviewing February reminds me I had an important success at the start of the month. I now have new artwork for the first Royal Zombie Corps book, Blood, Mud and Corpses. Stuart Bache and his excellent team made this cover. He is currently working on the paperback version so I can finally bring the book out in paperback. The e-book cover is now available on new purchases via Amazon and is much better looking. Stuart also delivered the e-book cover for the next Royal Zombie Corps book to be released, Dead Handler.

It was also interesting to visit the Vaudeville Theatre, a location I used in Outbreak London. Although I’ve visited quite a few London theatres, I do not recall having been in this one before, despite passing it many times in the street. The building received an extensive redesign in the 1920s, so much of my original setting was no longer present. However, the show, Magic Goes Wrong, was excellent.

February Review - A visit to the Vaudeville Theatre
The Vaudeville Theatre in London. Much changed since 1918, and without zombies in real life.
February Review - Adelphi Theatre in 2020
The Adelphi Theatre in London. A setting for zombie chaos in Outbreak London, set in 1918.

February Review – word counts

Averaging 309 words a day in February, I still exceeded my target levels for last year but fell short of my targets for this year. This month brought in a total of 8,952 words when I was targeting just short of 12,000. The main reason for the shortfall was the extra work on the blog. However, I also wrote less as I finished the first draft of book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series and then spent some time tinkering with new ideas. The primary focus of this tinkering has been a 5,000 word short story, which I’m currently finishing.

Unfortunately, there were nine days during which I wrote nothing new. This is more than the eight in January. I also did not make effective use of the one week holiday I had, mainly due to being exhausted from the day job and needing a good break.

I did manage to get some editing done, but this stalled under the increased needs to recover the material from the blog.

February Review – writing projects underway

· ‘Dead Handler’, Book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series still needs editing and proof-reading. I have the cover from the cover artist, and I’m very happy with it.

· The paperback cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses is being worked on.

· Book 2 of the Butcher’s Funeral is still awaiting editing

· Book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series, is now complete and I’m sitting on it for a while to get some distance between the first draft and the next trawl through it.

·      Tigers on the Western Front – work on the final proof-reading has crept on. I had intended to get this finished in February, but the blog got in the way.

· A new short story, along with another unpublished short story, is being written. There are already over 5,000 words in the first draft, which was the total I was aiming for. More on this at another time, but there are no zombies. Instead, there is a genie.

February Review – other projects

I sent a message to the Readers’ Club at the start of February announcing the new cover for Blood, Mud and Corpses. Again, I’ve not focused on adding to the Readers’ Club. Instead, my marketing efforts have been focused on AMS and the use of the new cover to the first Royal Zombie Corps book.

Sales were comparable to January, which are much better than has previously been the case.

I have also started research on a new series I’m planning to write. It’s been exciting, and I’m mainly engaged in background reading. There are no zombies, but there are plenty of corpses and some bleak industrial history. Fortunately, I’m well versed in industrial history. Still, I need to fine-tune my knowledge of the location the story will be set in along with improving my understanding of a few more specific details related to the main character.

Publishing schedule

· March/April 2020 – the new paperback for Blood, Mud and Corpses will be released. This hard copy uses the same original artwork as the online version.

· March/April 2020 – ‘Dead Handler’, book 6 of the Royal Zombie Corps series. The date is provisional as I may want to give the ARC team a little more time to get through this book

· Spring 2020 2nd edition of Tigers on the Western Front, with the old cover for now

· April/May/June 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral book two titled ‘Butcher’s Fire’. 

· May/June 2020 – Butcher’s Funeral new cover and 2nd edition

· May/June 2020 – book 7 of the Royal Zombie Corps series

Plans for March

· Return to the daily writing average of at least 410 words

· Release the paperback version of Blood, Mud and Corpses

· Continue to research the new series I’m working on

· Write another short story, probably in the same sequence as the one I’ve been working on in February

· Continue to refocus my efforts on the non-creative side of the business, especially editing and proof-reading. With minimal time available, this is one aspect that is holding me back

· Recruit more people to the ARC team

· Continue to learn about publishing and writing 

· Relaunch my AMS marketing campaign as a result of my new book cover

· Manage the major clash in the second half of the month when I will have just under 300 exam papers to mark