The Making of Lord of the Rams 2: Author Diary – Part 1

As mentioned last week on lordoftherams.com, a sequel to Lord of the Rams, provisionally titled Lord of the Rams 2: A Tale of Four Continents, is in the works. It’s a long way from completion (projected release date is 2013) but it’s definitely on the way.

Unlike its predecessor, the action in Lord of the Rams 2 will—for the most part—take place outside of Ireland in a diverse range of countries such as Russia, Mongolia, Japan, United States, China, Slovenia and Germany. Many of the old characters will be back—including Goosey, Dowd, Sean George Mara II and the irreproachable Tighe brothers—and they’ll be causing mayhem and destruction with yours truly right across the globe.

But if the book is at least three years away, why am I telling you about it now?

As the title of this month’s blog suggests, today marks the first part of what I hope will be a regular series (every two or three months) in which I will discuss the progress of the new book. I aim to provide an insight into what goes into writing a book—the research, the time commitments involved, the problems, etc.

I know a lot of people who have spoken about writing a book but never seem to get round to it. Well, these updates will follow my trials and tribulations, as I get stuck into the writing and editing process while trying to balance work and other commitments. It might be interesting; it might send you to sleep. But I’d welcome any comments along the way.

Just because I’m writing my second book, that doesn’t mean the process gets any easier. For one, there is a certain level of expectation (however low) surrounding a sequel to any work. Difficult second album syndrome can apply to authors too. For me, the biggest question in my mind at this early stage of the process is: can I write a follow-up that can at least equal, if not better, my first effort? Right now, I just don’t know. I think Lord of the Rams 2 has potential, but only time will tell if I can manage to pull it off!

Going back to the point I made about people who talk about writing a book but never find the time, I had that problem too. I started Lord of the Rams in January 2003, wrote less than a handful of pages and then didn’t touch the project again for a year—a failed new year resolution no doubt. Exactly 12 months later I returned to the writing with renewed vigour.

The most important rule to remember if you want to write a book—and any author will always tell you the same—is that you need to write something every week. Set a realistic target (in terms of word count) and stick religiously to it. I write by hand on A4 notepads, and my aim each week is to fill three notepad pages. This only amounts to about 800 words maximum (which explains why my first book took almost five years to complete). Sure, it’s a relatively small output but it adds up over the course of a year.

Even factoring in six weeks holidays per year (it’s important to take extended breaks from your writing so you can return to it with fresh eyes) and averaging 800 words per week, you will have written almost 37,000 words in your first year—a remarkable achievement and about half the length of a small novel (Lord of the Rams clocked in at over 72,000 words).

The main problem I had when writing Lord of the Rams is that I didn’t commit enough to reaching that 800 words target each week, and so it ended up taking me almost three years instead of two to complete the first draft of the book.

This time round, things have been going a lot better. I began work on Lord of the Rams 2 in mid-July 2009. Once again my biggest stumbling block was getting those first few words down on paper. However, once I got started, the old creative juices began flowing and I have reached my targets every week (after factoring holidays into the equation). The word count at the moment (which is no indication of quality but is an important physical benchmark nonetheless) is around the 19,000 mark—not bad for a little over six months’ work.

So, where exactly am I with Lord of the Rams 2?

Progess Report

Word Count: 17,020 (typed)

Chapters Complete (1st Draft): 9

Featured Locations (thus far):

  • Oldcastle (Ireland)
  • Ljubljana and Postojna (Slovenia)
  • Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashville, Memphis, Chicago (United States)
  • Riga, Sigulda and Cesis (Latvia)

One of the ways in which Lord of the Rams 2 will differ from its predecessor is that it will include references to some of the hotels, restaurants and tourist sites I’ve visited over the years. Don’t expect guidebook-type reviews (far from it) but I’m hoping that the descriptions of the locations will help bring the story to life and will allow readers to relate more to the book if, for example, they too have visited a location mentioned in the book.  This time round I have to do a lot more research in order to accurately portray the events in the book (last night, for example, I spent time trying to find out the name of the oldest restaurant in Ljubljana. It’s called Gostilna Sestica in case you were wondering). On the plus side, I have hundreds of photographs from my trips (which are the cornerstone of this new book) to help fill in the gaps, and that’s a luxury I didn’t have with the first book.

I’ll post another diary update in April or May. But first there’s the little matter of a trip to Vegas in March. All in the name of research, I’m sure you’ll understand.

Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide postage and packaging)

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2 Responses to “The Making of Lord of the Rams 2: Author Diary – Part 1”

  1. Paul OMahonyCork Says:

    Hello Ronan,

    I came across you via @krishnade this morning. She did a good job of hooking me on your behalf. I’m also an author who’s using the internet to help my book into print and selling well for my publisher. It’s been a major job to log on and get the permission to comment, by the way.

    I love your tone. You offer an interesting journey ahead over the years until your book is on the shelves. The world of marketing writing is changing so quickly, it’ll be interesting to see what happens around your book as well. I guess you’ve heard of the worldwide effort to get people writing in November 2009 – the 50,000 word challenge. I thought that was a great help to many who’ve never sustained the writing effort.

    800 words per week, 160 per day (5 day week), 20 per hour (8 hour day), 1 word every 3 minutes, say 10% of a syllable per second… I hope you can keep that effort up.

    If your blog will let me, I’ll be back as a reader, an encourager, a potential buyer, maybe a fan, certainly a publicist…
    Thank you very much for sharing. [Twitter as @omaniblog & @marketwrite]

  2. admin Says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for the feedback. And fair play to Krishna – she was very kind to plug my site on her page. Sorry you had trouble posting a comment; I have set up the blog so that all comments are moderated before they go online – I was getting a load of spammers attempting to post rubbish links, so I had to take steps to counter them (but don’t worry, I’m online almost every day so can usually approve posts fairly quickly).

    Yes, an interesting journey lies ahead. I’m adamant that I will keep the 800 words per week going until I finish the first draft. Then the harder work begins – fine tuning and editing. I’m hoping to be at final first draft form by the second half of next year (at the latest) but we’ll see what happens. The diary updates will hopefully be somewhat enlightening and I’d be glad to hear what you think might be of interest to readers.

    I had heard of the November 2009 writing challenge alright via culch.ie. Great idea although it seemed a bit daunting for someone like me who writes at a snail’s pace :-)

    Anyway, hopefully you’ll check back here over the comings months. I’ve added you in on Facebook from my Lord of the Rams page (since I’m not yet on Twitter), which will help facilitate two-way communication.

    Regards,
    Ronan

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