This is what forever feels like!

I am writing this blog entry - even more horrendously overdue than the last - about quarter of an hour shy of twelve hours after I started playing (Settlers of) Catan with the awesome and equally crazy people that I work with at Snakes & Lattes in Toronto.

The event is the fourth annual Catanathon-Against-Cancer. I make no particular attempt to hide the fact that I do not enjoy Catan, but there are few causes for which I would be happier to play it, or be around people playing it, for over twelve hours straight. We are approaching 7AM EST and, at time of writing, we have 4 more hours of play paid for through donations that have come in.

If you are reading this soon enough that we are still playing (check the livestream at www.snakesandlattes.com/catanathon), then please support this fantastic cause. As a side-effect, the more money that we raise, the longer we keep playing. We're aiming for 24 hours, if we can keep it going that long.

The new job is awesome though. My job is to recommend and teach people board games. For those who are not versed in the modern world of board games, we are not talking Monopoly, Life, or Snakes and Ladders - though all of those still exist. There are thousands of board games out there, and I think it is probably safe to say that there is probably a game out there for every possibly personality.

This is the first time that I have had a job that I am regularly sad to leave at the end of the evening. I meet awesome people every shift, and I get to share the joy of my obsession with other people. That is a great thing, and I'm glad that I have found it!

On the flipside, I have been working a lot recently. We're almost half way through NaNoWriMo and I'm not even ten percent of the way through my goal. I really need to work on that...!

Back to the island of Catan. See you once I stop counting ore - or bricks - or sheep...

Podcast release, and a quick catch-up

Goodness, it has been a while.

I didn't actually realise how long ago I last posted a blog entry, so a quick one just to say hello.

BUT FIRST...

I am delighted to announce that I have released episode one of Once Upon A Die, my board gaming podcast. To listen, please go to this page and you can download or stream the episode. In it, I look at the excellent Fantasy Flight game Arkham Horror, and face off against the dread Azathoth in a three-investigator, solo game.

I would love to hear any comments or thoughts that you may have. Please feel free to message me through the contact page. I have also posted a link into the Board Game Geek podcasts forum, and that message is also available to comment on for those that have a profile. (You could also reply to this post.)

Other than working on the podcast, I am currently getting ready for a production of Shakespeare's Star Wars, which will be happening at the Storefront Theatre, Toronto on June 1st. Details to follow soon.

More news to follow, but that will be a in another post in a day or two.

"...take the most special care that you locate Muad'Dib in his place..."

Back on December 3rd, I finished a blog post with the idea that 'home' is an intangible issue that can be confused by the people and places that you know. This is the dilemma I have been facing for the last year. Ever since I returned from Toronto, back before Dragon Literature was a thing, I have been questioning whether I should return or not.

As of mid-February, I am indeed going back for another year of living there. My home is in two different countries - I have said this before - but right now, it is more in Toronto than it is in London.

The quote in the title of this blog post, for those who do not recognise it, is from Frank Herbert's Dune, a book which has been in my top three novels ever since I read it. It is from the chapter 'header quote' - whatever one calls quotes that come under a chapter number and before the chapter begins - and, at that point, the reader has no idea who Muad'Dib is. He is Paul Atreides, who was born on the planet Caladan, but the Muad'Dib alter ego came into being on Arrakis (aka Dune), and that is his home.

While David A Xavier was a name I established in London, it began to take shape before I returned here. While I don't feel that he and David Kingsmill have two different homes - although I am a melodramatic personality, I wouldn't go quite that far(!) - I do feel that different aspects of me flourish in each country.

I have been slowly gaining support amongst those who glance at this site, my Twitter account, or my Facebook page, and I do hope that you will all continue to follow me on this adventure. I will continue to produce work in both countries, and I am excited to see what opportunities are opened up to me by this move.

Another year has gone

Goodness knows where it went. I'm pretty certain that the last time I looked I had just got back from Canada on New Year's Eve 2013.

Kudos to anyone who gets the reference in the title, by the way. You have been with me a long time if you do.

As people who know me will be aware of already, I do not celebrate New Year's. For me, it is more about reminiscence - looking back at the achievements of the year gone past, clearing the decks for the new year, and raising a glass to those that are no longer with us.

2014 has been an enormous year for me in so many ways - personal and professional. I will not linger on the former, but I will say that it has taught me a lot about myself and freed me up to be more honest with myself, and I think that my new year's resolution will be to continue that trend.

Professionally, of course, most of my successes have been logged on here. Out Of The Lens and So What If I Dance? were a phenomenal step forward in my theatrical pursuits. Equally, the publishing of The Puppet Master has given me an enormous boost to my writing confidence. The third book of the series, now retitled The Chandler's Den, has been written, and my focus is now on finishing the redrafts of The Night Banks.

Equally, Nick and I have plans for 2015 which we will reveal once we are ready to do so. For now I shall just say that if all goes to plan, it will be quite an exciting year for Kingsmill & Chave.

A very happy new year to you all. I hope that 2015 is good to you, and I look forward to sharing experiences throughout the 12 months to come. I hope that it will be a really interesting year, and I hope that you will come with me on the journey. To quote one of my fictional heroes: "I'm going on an adventure!"

Home

The end of NaNoWriMo always feels like the end of a month-long show for me. I spend a month writing a novel in a community of like-minded individuals: talking through ideas; providing support and receiving it; generally socialising with people as mad as me...

The people are what make the month as important as it is. Just as with theatre, NaNo can expose deep emotions within those writers that partake in it, and I have formed bonds within that community as strong as any I have created in theatrical or other environments. I hold my NaNo family very close to my heart.

This year was a little different to my previous experiences as I was only in Toronto for half of the month, but I still managed to attend a couple of events, including the wonderful overnighter that the Toronto NaNo group holds - an event that runs from 10pm on the penultimate Saturday through to breakfast the next day. Equal parts social and write-in, it is thoroughly enjoyable, and was no less so this year.

I got some great feedback on The Puppet Master as well, which is helping me as I edit The Night Banks and in my work on the new novel. Sure, I did not hit my 100K goal, but I am delighted with the work I did. Speaking of The Puppet Master, competition winners will receive an e-mail from me before Friday.

I also managed to get my affairs fixed over there - to ship my possessions back over to England - quickly enough that I caught up with almost all of my old friends and met many new ones at the same time.

It never ceases to fascinate me how people communicate and connect - something I'm sure I will blog on in the future - and the fact that a single party (let alone the other get-togethers I went to) could introduce me to such a group of people that I already miss greatly, despite having met most of them once or twice at most, is wonderful.

Whether they were someone I travelled a few extra miles to see, someone I had known for years but ran out of time to catch up with, someone I met just once and look forward to seeing again, or someone in-between who left an indelible mark on me, every person contributed to make this such a fantastic trip. Thank you all, and I look forward to our next encounters.

I find myself wondering once again where my 'home' truly lies. I have said before, and will say again that home is where the heart is. In that case, my home is on two different continents and in four different cities.

Some people might argue that you can only have one home, but I find that communication and connections often create relationships with people and places that really blur the issue...

- David's final word count: 73, 637
- Toronto final word count: 33, 762, 929 (11th highest word count by NaNo region - London was 4th, after Germany, Seattle and Maryland)
- Final global word count (as of December 3rd): 2, 909, 151, 985 (that's almost 3 BILLION words worldwide)

NaNoWriMo'14 blog 5: Completion and not...

We are drawing towards the end of the 2014 NaNoWriMo, and I am both pleased with myself and a little disappointed in my NaNo efforts.

I've been in Canada since the 18th, spending a few days in Montreal and the rest of the time in Toronto. I had to come back to deal with some remaining admin from my time living here. However, it was also a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends and old colleagues that I've not seen since April, or even longer.

My decision process as to whether I would return to live here again or not is a discussion that could take up an entire post and still not have a firm resolution. However, I have had the most wonderful week and a bit, and I still have a few days left. This, of course, is still my NaNo blog, so maybe I'll talk Canada later on.

Why am I pleased with myself? I finished the third book in the MSCE Investigation series! It has a working title, but I've since decided that it would suit the fourth book better, so I need to come up with another one. I finished it on day 20 this year, which I am very excited about. My next job is to finish editing The Night Banks, book 2, but that has to wait until after November.

That said, I'm disappointed because my word count has fallen off since I finished. I began book 4, but I had no idea of where it was going to go. The series was meant to be three books and, although I managed most of the key plot points I had planned, there is no way that the series could finish without a fourth novel. This left me completely stuck and at risk of knee-jerk reactions that would spoil the continuing story. So, I switched to short stories.

These have been going okay, but without the overarching goal, I've found myself meeting the wall that is writer's block. I am not happy with the work. I have been writing every day, but nowhere near even the NaNo target on most days, let alone my own.

The upshot is that I have left the NaNo target in the dust, but my own is now all but unreachable - I would have to write 7,000 words per day to hit 100,000 words. Very possible, and I could do it, but it is not the future words that disappoint me, but the chances I've had over the last few days that I have squandered.

As far as the future is concerned, I have work still to do here, and also I have met many new friends and still not seen a couple of old ones. I will add to that word count every day, little by little - I am about to do some work for today right now - but since I'm only here for a few more days, I have more important things to do than write.

David's word count (as of November 26th): 72,001
Global word count (as of 15:35 GMT on November 27th): 2, 419, 322, 052

P.S. Don't forget the competition to win one of 5 eBooks of The Puppet Master! Deadline is 23:59 GMT on November 30th. ENTER HERE!

What's next?

Hello again!

So I promised last time that I'd talk about what was next in the MSCE series. Well, as you know, the first book, The Puppet Master, is now available to purchase. I am hoping to accrue some reviews for it, get its profile raised a little, and see where I can take it. I'm a complete newbie to the world of publicising novels and don't really know what I'm doing, but I've seen some good sites that should help and the publisher is going to send out press releases for me, so that's a big help.

The second book is also finished. Entitled The Night Banks it takes the adventure of the first novel and pulls it into the world of conspiracy and questions of trust. I just re-read it to go over the first edit before re-drafting, and I must say that I'm excited to get it out there and see what people think about the next step in Oliver's adventures. I'm afraid it's a ways off yet and probably won't see light of day until the end of next year, but I'll keep you up to date on the progress.

Lastly I'd like to raise awareness of a concert that I'm co-producing, and for which I'm musical director, on November the 16th. Entitled Limitless, it is raising money for Parkinson's UK - a charity that has a very personal meaning to the organiser, and which does a lot of good work in the world of research into Parkinson's as well as support to those suffering from it. The show is at the Wenlock & Essex in Islington, London. If you're free that Sunday, please come along. Show kicks off at 18:30, and the venue is in a themed pub, so getting there early won't be dull! Fantastic performers will be singing there, and we are hoping to raise a lot of money for a good cause. Please go to this Facebook event for details. As a side-note, the Out Of The Lens OCR will be available to purchase in CD form there, and £2.50 for every CD sold will go to the charity.

Something new!

Hello, fans of Dragon Literature, and welcome to the newborn blog. I'm not quite sure yet what I'm going to be using this for, but I thought it might be a good idea to start it in order to communicate more with you, and also to track my own progress over time. (In part, it will also encourage me to update the site more often!)

I am also hoping that it will allow me to update you with information about my activities in other ways than simply shouting in home-page news fragments or tweets.

That's a good place to start then, I guess. I'm recovering now from the excitement of having both a book and an original cast recording available to buy in the shops. That was a big moment for me, as both projects were a long time in the making and, while the stage production of Out Of The Lens was the main goal, there's something about holding a physical object that makes a mark of its own. The show is down for now, and Nick and I are working to revamp it, make it a little longer, and hopefully see what more we can do with it next year.

Audience feedback was, I'm delighted to say, universally positive, but there were a few things we would like to change, some that were rushed because of the time constraint in Edinburgh, and a few that never went in for the same reason. Details will be posted up as soon as we have more information.

As for The Puppet Master and the further mysteries of the MSCE? Check back in a couple of days for the next post. Ta-ra for now.