12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



#WIP – An Incident

My wife would’ve had me to call the polis in a situation like this.  She’d have been awake now, quivering with indignation on my behalf.  She’d head to the kitchen, ranting and raving about speaking to that boy’s parents and him being a bad influence on all the other kids in the neighbourhood, especially Julie.  She’d fix us a cup of tea – or something stronger – and start drafting a letter to our local councillor, whoever that was.

I did none of those things.

Instead, shaking my head in confusion, I climbed back in to bed and reopened my copy of Riders of the Purple Sage.  This would never have happened in Zane Grey’s Wild West.  If someone wanted to call you out, they would have just gone ahead and done it.


A snippet.

She regarded me with clear grey eyes that gave nothing away.

“Don’t you start making grandiose plans,” she commanded.

I shifted uncomfortably from right foot to left, like a child that has been caught out.

“Ah amnae,” I protested, which was true, really.  My plans weren’t grandiose, not by a long chalk.

She frowned.

“You can’t be the hero in this, Victor.”

Another Excerpt From Book Two

“What did she mean, we’re stuck?”  Mrs Shiers peered at Bob accusingly.

There was a pregnant pause, then:

“….what?” he said, in the worst feigning of ignorance ever showcased in the whole of Auchtergowrie Theatre’s long and painful history.

“That actor lassie said we were stuck,” Mrs Shiers reminded him, accidentally slipping into a broader accent in her concern.

“Ah,” Bob shrugged helplessly, looking about him for guidance but receiving none, “that.”

“The security system is jiggered, Mrs S,” Lauren volunteered after several long moments.  “We can’t get out of the building, and there’s a high chance nobody else can get in.”

“But we’d rather that it wasn’t common knowledge,” Bob interrupted, “because we don’t want people to panic.  And the police’ll probably want to talk to everyone that saw the show, we think.”

“Why would they want to do that?”

“Well, to get their eyewitness accounts,” Bob said vaguely.  “To find out exactly what happened.”

“Come on,” Elspeth encouraged, holding out her arm for Mrs Shiers, “let’s leave these lot to it and get a stiff drink.”

“In light of the situation,” Mrs Shiers conceded, “that doesn’t sound like a completely terrible idea.”

First Draft of Caligula’s Blog Complete!

In university, I had a habit of working on essays right up until the deadline, then racing along to the history department to hand in essays right as they were being removed from the box.  It would appear that, certainly when I am unemployed, I have retained this tendency, for not twenty minutes ago, right before midnight on January 31st 2011, I bashed out the last few posts of Caligula’s Blog.  I’ve written 5905 words today, and I wouldn’t advise doing that much in one sitting because now my back really hurts!

The draft is very raw, and falls short of my 50k word target, weighing in at only 33, 173 words.  However, given that I knew nothing whatsoever about the man on the 1st of the month, and most diary style books are shorter than 50k, I regard this as being fundamentally OK.  We’ll see how that changes when I come to look over it again – April at the very earliest!

41 AD
January 24th

I dreamed last night I was standing in heaven, near the throne of Jupiter.  It was very beautiful and humbling.  I was about to say something, when Jupiter gave me a push with the big toe of his right foot, and I fell right on my face.  When I woke up it turned out I had fallen out of bed, so that’s probably why that happened in the dream.

Doesn’t feel like a great start to the day, really.  Still, things can only get better now that I’m awake!  Perhaps I’ll sacrifice a couple of white bulls to the big man this afternoon though, just to be on the safe side.

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus – or Caligula to you and me – was assassinated later that day by his own men.  His wife, Milonia Caesonia, and infant daughter Julia Drusilla were killed by members of the Praetorian Guard a few hours later.  He was succeeded by Derek Jacobi.

Writing Routines

Just read an article on different authors’ writing routines, and was thinking it might be quite fun to try them all across the year to see whether they work for me.  The obsessive routines of C.S.Lewis and Toni Morrison would undoubtedly do wonders for my productivity, but I wonder whether I would come to associate writing with all that I hate in life (very early mornings, not being able to do anything spontaneous, and suchlike).

Some might prove more difficult than others, though – will need to procure a dog from somewhere for Wordsworth‘s technique, and I’m not sure how well George Sand‘s 2 year affair strategy would go down with my partner…  But it would be interesting to see how standing up to write would affect my productivity, as per Philip Roth, or how my body would react to a minimum 50 cups of coffee a day like Balzac.

AD 39, June 10th

Today is the first anniversary of Drusilla’s death.

It’s clear to everyone that I need cheering up, so to that end I have commissioned a statue of myself.  It shall be like me in height, appearance – every respect, in fact.  But instead of marble or bronze, he shall be cast in purest gold.  Perhaps jeweled eyes, although I think that might just look a bit strange.  And every day he shall be arrayed in the exact attire that I have chosen to wear that day.  I will need to employ someone whose specific task that will be.

Why?  Because I can.  I am the emperor of Rome, after all.

Caligula in Love

37 AD
July 8th

OK, so you know when you meet someone unexpectedly, and you just click?

I don’t mean like when you fancy someone and make them your mistress either.  I mean when you see a Roman noblewoman across a crowded dance floor – a classy bird, the sort you can marry if you’re an emperor without having to worry whether she’ll be accepted by the senate, and the people, and anyone else who has the capacity to make life difficult.  The kind of woman who’s good looking and erudite, and essentially ticks all the boxes.

You’ve probably guessed this already, but I met such a woman at Cassius Piso’s wedding the other night, and I have decided to marry her.

The only trouble is, she’s the bride.

His bride, I mean.  Livia Orestilla.


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