February 29, 2024

What I’m up to - February 2024

A short month with a lot in it, almost none of which I can talk about (yet).

This is a cross-post from my current Now page. You can also get these updates (and other cool stuff) in your inbox by subscribing to my newsletter.

Another quiet one on the actually writing’ front, but a really, really busy one in many other ways.

Writing and editing

February was a rare zero words month for me. I mean, I did write some words, but not an amount I could reasonably track. It was individual sentences here and there, because this entire month has been editing, structural planning, copyedits and critique reading. I worked on writing for 22 days out of the month, which is every weekday. So even though I had zero wordcount increase, it wasn’t for lack of spending time on writing.

This is partially because I have a major project (SHARD) to get off my plate, so I’ve been collating a LOT of beta feedback. I’m in the extremely enviable position of having a bunch of very reliable beta readers who read quick and provide copious notes, which makes for a not-insignificant job in collating and analysing the responses to figure out what changes I want to make. Ten (!) people read it in the end, so I spent most of the first third of the month coming up with my tasklist.

While I was doing this, my copyedits came back on PROJECT ALTHROP. This was my first time working with a professional copyeditor and it was an absolute joy. I was intensely relieved that there were no huge continuity errors or grammatical screw-ups to deal with, but there was a lot of little fixes to do. Apparently I have zero idea how and when to hyphenate words. But the copy editor fixed them with laser precision.

ALTHROP is still under wraps, but hopefully by the time I publish this, that will be for not very long at all - stay tuned for pretty major news in the very near future.

In the meantime, I’m all set to launch into beta reader edits on SHARD in March. I’ve got a wardrobe door covered in sticky notes outlining the entire book, another wardrobe door covered with more sticky notes for new scenes I need to write or extensively edit, and a massive list of edits that will hopefully merge, reorder and refine those sticky notes into a (much) better draft. Aside from reviewing proofs on ALTHROP, I’m anticipating spending most of my writing time in March on that.

New work and submissions

My newest novelette, Kardashev’s Palimpsest’, came out in Clarkesworld Magazine on the first of February. The audio version isn’t out yet, but I’m hoping that will appear in March. You can find out more about this story here.

Nebula and BSFA shortlist nominations have closed now, but the Hugo nominations are still open. If you’re a WSFS member for Glasgow Worldcon, I’d love to have your vote. You can see my eligible stories in my 2023 awards eligibility post.

Publishing and community

February was a really fun month! I taught two workshops at Edinburgh Napier University, along with my critique partner and friend Nick Binge. I have done workshops and dribs and drabs of teaching-adjacent work in various jobs over the years and always enjoyed it, but I was really excited to have the chance to talk about my absolute favourite subject - writing. Specifically, I taught a session on writing, editing and publishing short fiction, then did a co-presentation with Nick on critique groups (and how we run ours). The Creative Writing MA class were fantastic, asking smart questions and getting stuck into the exercises we set for them with gusto. Thank you to Nick and Napier for the opportunity.

I also did some writing about this upcoming year, focusing on the challenges (and opportunities) of having a dual career as a thriller and SF writer. I suspect (for… Reasons) that I’m going to be thinking (and writing) a lot more on this topic shortly.


I actually managed to start a couple of new books in February!

  • Hopeland by Ian McDonald - I picked this up after seeing McDonald speaking at last year’s Cymera Festival, and reading Cory Doctorow’s effusive review. I’m only a hundred pages or so into it so far, but it has all of McDonald’s characteristically lyrical sense of wonder and intricate visual detail. I’ve been reading McDonald for years and I never fail to become fully immersed in his books. Looking forward to finishing this one.
  • Moscow X by David McCloskey - I read Damascus Station last year and absolutely loved it, and Moscow X opens with a hell of a bang (literally), reintroducing the scene-stealing Chief of Station Artemis Proctor. She was easily my favourite character from the first book and she has a way bigger part to play in this one, which I am extremely happy about. McCloskey also brings the same attention to detail and wry narrative voice that made his debut so engaging to a whole new set of challenges. This is another book I’m only about a hundred pages into, but I predict it won’t last long - he has the rare talent of creating books that are not only beautifully written but also page-turningly pacy.


The weather continued to be rubbish here in Scotland, and that combined with some work travel to mean I didn’t get out for walks as much as I would have liked. But I did get to have a very nice dinner with someone I’ve been trying to meet up with for about four or five months now (illness and schedule clashes foiled us until now). It was a very exciting dinner.

I promise I’ll soon be able to be less vague about this stuff, honestly.


March is relatively quiet on the writing front. I’ll be heading through to Glasgow early in the month to attend the Scottish launch of Eliza Chan’s Fathomfolk, where she’ll be in conversation with Hannah Kaner and L. R. Lam. Eliza and I got to know each other through the Codex writer’s community, went on sub at the same time and have shared many a celebration and frustration over the past couple of years online. I’m really looking forward to helping her celebrate her launch (and meeting her in person for the first time!).

Other than that (and a friend’s wedding at the end of the month) it’s going to hopefully be a quiet month mostly focused on re-establishing routines, enjoying the first flush of spring and being much, much better about getting out for my morning walk. My entire day is better when I start it with writing, then walking in the woods and on the beach. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that (but also very easy to fix).


A short month, but a long list of links.

Just like January, February sometimes gets the short end of the stick, with people saying it’s main redeeming feature is its shortness. I’ve heard it called the Tuesday of the year’ and everyone knows Tuesday is the worst day of the week - it’s not a fresh start like Monday, the middle of the week like Wednesday, the day before Friday like Thursday or the end of the week like Friday.

But boy, if the light starts to come back in January, it positively roars into life in February. It’s light past six in the evening now. I can see where my feet are going on evening walks to the beach. And even though I get up at stupid o’ clock to write each morning, I’m starting to see light in the sky as I start typing as well.

I hope wherever you’re reading this, you too manage to spot a little light in the early morning.

In the meantime, as ever, keep reading, keep writing and keep moving.

If you have a question, suggestion or something else you’d like me to write about, please get in touch over on Bluesky, Mastodon or Twitter, or send me a message on my contact form.

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