Something has dawned on me.

For years I was an owl. No, I’m not revealing a past as a feathery denizen of the night going around eating mice. I mean I was someone who naturally wanted to stay up late into the night and sleep late the in the morning. This meant I was of course never a morning person, and was always dog tired in the mornings. A few years ago, once I got serious about writing, I started to train myself to get up earlier in the mornings and like it. But not to write. So that I could go to work a bit earlier and get home sooner and have more of the evening to myself to write. For a while that was fine.

But lately I’ve been having trouble getting enough writing work done in the evening because I’ve been feeling dog tired and ready for bed by about 9:30. And I keep waking up early and only snoozing until it’s time to actually get up. Finally the answer smacked me in the face. I have become a lark!

Somehow, in the last few years, when I wasn’t paying attention – probably busy deciding what horrible thing to do next to a character – I became a morning person. Is it age? Is it a temporary summertime only phenomenon, where the dawn is waking me up?

So I’ve been trying an experiment. Get up at 5am and start a writing session by 6am, once I have some tea and breakfast in my face. After nearly two weeks of this it’s going really well. I started it midweek, when I was in the middle of drafting a story. The first morning I did over 1000 words in an hour and they were effortless. The weekend came. I got up at the same time and wrote all morning – with a couple of breaks, and did about 10,000 words over the two days! Holy moley!

I also feel better. I feel fine shortly after I get up and especially once I’ve got a nice strong cuppa in me. I feel more awake the rest of the day. I’ve got to make sure I stick to my early bedtime and not stay up late for no good reason, but by 9:30 all I want is to retire with my Kindle or an audiobook anyway. It’s nice and peaceful at that time of the morning – well until the birdman comes around about 6:45. That’s a neighbour who takes a morning walk and always brings a bag of food for the birds, which he happens to empty in the back lane outside my house. So they all show up for the breakfast sitting squawking and flapping!

And oh wow does it feel good to have a big chunk of words done before the day has even begun. Or on a weekend to have the whole day’s worth of writing done by lunchtime. On weekdays I can do another hour of writing in the evening of I want to, or use that time for some promo or blogging, or other busywork. I may even manage to get some exercise back into my routine if I don’t have as much time pressure to do writing in the evening.

I will continue this for a while and see how it goes. I’m editing for the next few weeks, then drafting again, and it will be NaNoWriMo before we know it. This new regime could be a game changer for NaNoWriMo. I can get a big chunk of the daily word count under my belt before work, maybe even the whole thing! They anything else I write that day gets me ahead of the game.

The test will come once dawn starts coming after 5am. Will I find it harder to wake up when it’s dark? Will it indeed prove to be a summer thing? In a way that’s okay. I can work in different ways at different times of the year if I have to. The key is finding the schedule that works right now and switch to something else that works better later, and then come back maybe. But I am thinking about getting one of those alarm clocks that wakes you with light.

Have you ever shaken up your writing routine to this extent? Was it a revelation? Did it stick after the novelty wore off? Have you turned from an owl to a lark, or vice versa?

Audiobooks and me

Audiobooks and me go back a long way. To long before they were called audiobooks in fact. When I was a kid I had a cassette tape of an abridged reading of HG Wells’ The Time Machine. I played that tape so many times I wore it out in the end. Back in the 1990s, after several attempts to read Lord of the Rings stalled within the first 100 pages I borrowed the unabridged books on tape of the whole trilogy from the library. I seem to recall it contained approximately 17 zillion cassettes.

I didn’t listen to the whole thing. I got frustrated by the pace of it and wanted to move faster, so I went back to my copy of The Fellowship of the Ring and didn’t stop reading until I got to the end of The Return of the King. I had other books on tape over the years, though don’t recall them so well, though I recently unearthed a cassette of The Valley of Fear, as read by Christopher Lee – before he was Sir Christopher even. And it still works. Yay!
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Dreams are faster than zombies.

Remember last year I wrote about how fast my book Patient Z went from draft to published? I wrote that book for NaNoWriMo 2012 and it sold and came out by late July 2013. Well my new book Dream For Me was actually faster. I drafted it for NaNoWriMo 2013 and it came out early 8th July 2014.

However if you count from idea to publication, it was definitely a lot longer than Patient Z. The germ of an idea for Dream For Me had been sitting in my ideas file for years as no more than the note: “What if humans evolved to no longer sleep? What if there were some throwbacks who did sleep?”


In my story it turned into not so much evolution as a sudden change. Suddenly almost every baby born in the world no longer slept. Imagine for a moment being a parent of one of that first generation of babies who didn’t sleep, while you still do. When you’re done whimpering, carry on.

The story is actually set 200 years after that happened. The world has changed to take advantage of all these extra productive hours in the day. That’s the key word – productive. In an overcrowded world that needs ever more food and medecine and services as surge of productivity was just what was required. No wonder some people think that the “mutation event” was deliberately invoked, and that sleep has been stolen from humanity.

DreamForMe_BeckyBlack_150x225To Shay Mistry, my scientist hero, studying one the the few remaining sleepers, being awake for twenty-four hours a day is just normal life. He’s fascinated by sleep as a natural phenomenon and as something strange and exotic. But even he finds it hard to cope with having a lover who spends a third of his life unconscious.

Jacob Garcia, the last known sleeper in America, is a scientific curiosity to some, a disabled man to others, and, to a few, a man possessing a near magical ability most humans have lost. And that’s only a few of the directions he’s pulled in. Lots of people have different ideas of who and what Jacob is. Jacob himself? He thinks he’s the normal one. It’s the rest of the world that’s weird.

It was fun to plan and write this story, to brainstorm about how our lives would be different. How our homes would be different. How the fact that booking a hotel room with a bed is something most people would do for only one reason… And my boys do of course, even if one of them has another use for the bed.

There’s a giveaway contest running at Charlie Cochrane’s Live Journal right now. Go comment for a chance to win an ebook of Dream For Me.

Release Day – Dream For Me

It’s release day for my 9th novel with Loose Id. Dream For Me is available now!

Dream For Me cover art by Ginny GlassBlurb

In a society awake for twenty-four hours a day a man who sleeps is a freak. But not to neurobiologist Shay Mistry. Jacob Garcia, the last known sleeper in America, is the test subject whose brain Shay has been dying to get his hands on for years. When they meet, Shay discovers the sleeper’s brain comes accompanied by a gorgeous body and a hostile attitude. As Jacob sleeps night after night in his lab it’s harder and harder for Shay to resist their mutual attraction.

Jacob is tired of being a lab rat, but he’s got his reasons to be in Shay’s lab—one of them he’s not going to tell anyone about—and his plan is to do what he came to do and leave. So falling in love with Shay is like adding a hand grenade to all the other balls he’s juggling. He doesn’t need this added complication, but his desire for Shay is too strong to resist. When Jacob’s secret comes out it triggers a chain of events leaving Shay irrevocably changed and forcing Jacob to choose where his loyalties lie.

A m/m science fiction romance available now from Loose Id.
More buy links will appear on the Dream For Me book page as they go live.

Dream For Me


Links that are hotter than July

Some links to read while sunbathing.

Are you ‘in the closet’ about M/M?
Kate Aaron talks about being secretive about what you read.

Here’s the thing: people’s minds don’t just change overnight. There are plenty of folks who think they don’t know anyone who’s LGBT, or who really gives a damn about LGBT rights. They’re aware that out there somewhere in the hypothetical realm this stuff matters, but they don’t think it matters to them. That’s why we keep coming out, to show people that they do know queerfolk. We are the human faces of a heated political debate. Just look how many Republicans have changed their minds about same-sex marriage since their children came out.

Do You Know How To Edit AND Proofread Your Story?
Jenny Hansen talks about the differences between editing and proofreading and how to do both well.

Like most writers, I hang out with a boatload of other writers. Still, I never saw much of other peoples’ works in progress until I coordinated a contest several years ago. Coordinating contests changed the way I see writing. Period. It was a window into both sides of the submission process.

Plus, I saw firsthand one of the important talents that separates the amateurs from the professionals: the ability to both edit and proofread.

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