Chasing Oumuamua – new story in Asimov’s

 

IMG_20190523_082919With the vagaries of postage, I had two publications arrive in the mail a couple of days apart.

A couple of days back, I mentioned my story in New Zealand literary magazine Landfall.

A while before, I mentioned my story “Chasing Oumuamua” in the May/June issue of Asimov’s Science FictionI said enough then enough then, but receiving the actual artifact is always exciting. This is my seventh story in Asimov’s (my second this year), and I’m still surprised each time. Little old me, next to other authors like Jay O’Connell and Ian R. MacLeod. Wow.

Now, I have no more stories lined up for the rest of the year. I will be self-publishing some, of course, and I’m submitting stories all the time.

Hoping to have Red Alliance, the sequel to my middle grade novel Blue Defender, out by the end of June. Lots of business things keeping me busy too.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

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Landslide Country – new story in Landfall

LandfallThose who know my writing will have noticed that mostly I write Science Fiction. At times I dally with Fantasy, though I’m not then a real heroic fantasy kind of writer, with dragons and swords and wizards hurling wonderful spells around. Sometimes my Science Fiction has elements of Fantasy (as in there’s no scientific reason this is happening…). I write thrillers too, on occasion.

Sometimes I also dabble with literary fiction. I have a couple of literary novels out, and numerous stories. Over recent years I’ve had a few stories published in Landfall, New Zealand’s premier literary journal, and I’m pleased to have another in the current issue.

landfall contents“Landslide Country” evolved from an exploration of pacing and setting. One of those ones where the setting is almost another character (though of course, that’s up to the reader to determine, rather than the writer). One of the editors noted that things seemed to happen in slow motion, which was cool, something I’d tried to achieve: a micro-focus on detail, while maintaining the tension and arc.

There’s quite a line up of great writers in the issue. I’m humbled to be in such great company.

Landfall is available from booksellers and through subscription. Many New Zealand libraries have subscriptions, so you can find it on the shelves there.

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Not sure that anyone might be interested, but mostly when I write I’m not sure where the story is going to go. At least in that moment when I’m sitting down to type in those first few words.

Mostly it ends up as science fiction, but the process is no different for literary. It’s all just words on the page. The story in my head coming out so that hopefully the reader gets the same story in their head.

I like to think that I bring the same level of craft to all my work, whether literary or more commercial.

Geysercon in Rotorua, Queen’s Birthday weekend

I’ll be at Geysercon in Rotorua Queen’s Birthday Weekend, Saturday May thirty-first and Sunday June first. If you happen to be there, please stop me and say hello.

I am on two panels. The first I’m the moderator (so hopefully I’ll shut the face up and let the panel members do the talking), and the other I’m a panel member.

I’m moderating the panel To Boldly Go: Ships in SFF featuring Kodi Washere, Dave Hadwin, Carleton Chinner, and Guest of Honour Alena Van Arendonk. Fortunately, having been in touch with the others, they know their spaceships and their SF way better than me. I feel privileged to be along for the ride.

I’m a panel member on Scripts to Screen. So I’m relatively inexperienced on this one, so we’ll see how it goes. I offered to be on the panel since I have licensed the film rights to one of my stories. That’s exciting, though I am very conscious that it’s a long way from rights to sitting in a theatre watching a finished film. I’m excited by the director and his energy for the project, but it is very early days right now. We’ll see.

That story is “Ventiforms” which appeared in the January/February issue of Asimov’s. The story is available as a pre-order ebook, with full release on the first day of conference. From Amazon and various other retailers. Also available as a nice little print book on Amazon too (actually available right now, since I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to do a pre-order with the print versions). I will have a few print copies with me at the conference.

The other two panelists, Jean Gilbert (moderator) and Claire McKenna, have far more experience than I do. Expect starry eyes from me there.

I have been a fan of film since I was a kid. One of my day job bosses years ago loved film too and he had this cool way of rating a film. Any number from one to fifty-two. A film with a rating of fifty-two was for films that people who see a film a week should see. A rating of one was for films that people who go to a film a year should go and see. As in, this is the ‘film of the year’.

Me, I usually saw more than fifty films in a year. And I still do. The arrival of Netflix has upped that number. Whew.

So I like to think that I have some understanding of the process of short story/novel to script to film. As in a novel is a different medium to film, so things don’t necessarily work interchangeably.

The example I like to use is how in Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the entire third act of the film is an extrapolation of a single sentence in the book, in effect.

Similarly, whole tracts of novels’ storylines are left out of films based on them.

As well as “Ventiforms”, there will be copies of some of my other books on sale at the convention bookstore. And please do introduce yourself if you’re there.

Chasing Oumuamua in Asimov’s

ASF_MayJune2019_400x570Following “Ventiforms” in the January – February 2019 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction, I’m privileged to have have a new story “Chasing Oumuamua” in the May – June issue.

“Chasing Oumuamua” is, I guess, another of my family relationships story. Ultimately I think most of my stories are along those lines. Even when there’s lots of stuff blowing up and people hanging onto blistering railings by their fingertips.

‘Oumuamua was the name given to a chunk of interstellar flotsam (or possibly jetsam) that flittered through our solar system (well, it’s still within the solar system, just that it’s on its way out and we can’t actually see it any more), first noticed in 2017.

‘Oumuamua comes from the Hawaiian ‘oumuamua, meaning scout (forgive me if I have the wrong), and I kind of like that name. Just a little scout, coming to take a look around. There’s a good overview on Wikipedia. Yes, the apostrophe comes first – something I neglected in my story.

 

While I’m here (I’m not here as often as I should be, but perhaps that’s a good thing), I’ll mention one or two other things.

I have another story coming out in Landfall, the Autumn 2019 issue which should be out in the next few weeks. “Landslide Country” is me heading into more literary territory, with a story about a retired woman finding herself coming of age, I suppose.

Landfall is New Zealand’s iconic literary magazine and I’m grateful to editor Emma Neale for taking the story. This will be my third appearance in Landfall’s pages, which is kind of cool.

This is also the first year where I’ve had three pro stories come out. Not a bad first half. I’m still somewhat startled that I’ve had even one at all, ever 🙂 I mean, seriously look at the names on the cover of Asimov’s there! Holy Money.

I’m still blogging on Pro Writers Writing – every Monday morning a new post comes out. That’s taking a little energy away from here, too, I guess. That’s okay. It stretches my brain. I am thinking that I’ll collate my posts maybe next year into a little book of my take on how to be a writer.

I do try to stay a few posts ahead on that. My posts there are a little like here too, somewhat stream of consciousness. They also come in bursts. Sometimes I’ll write three in a week, sometimes I’ll see next Monday looming and wonder what the heck I’m going to ramble about.

VentiformsAlso, “Ventiforms” my story from Asimov’s this past January, will be out as a standalone ebook on May 31st. Just in time for Geysercon. I’m moderating a panel, and sitting on another. I hope to have some print copies available for release at the con too.

Wonderful evocative illustration for the story by Kerem Gogus there. I like the image, and it’s forced me to shift around the type in places I wouldn’t normally put it. I don’t know what a professional designer would make of it, but I like it.

I’ll fill in more on Geysercon and other things in another post soon.

 

 

The Quiet Year

 

 

I haven’t posted for a little while here. I’m looking at various things about why that might be. Few enough of you read this anyway (I like to think you’re a select group), that likely you don’t miss me when I’m gone. That’s fine, there are many many worthy blogs worth reading, and this one is more about my stream of thought, or else trying to sell you my books.

About that last one, that’s another thing I’m looking at; that my books sell few copies. There are some very obvious ones, such as the only place I mention that they’re for sale is here, that I don’t have a mailing list, I don’t send out for reviews, some of my covers are pretty lousy, as are some of my blurbs, and, yes, some of those early books are probably pretty lame too.

If I want to sell books I need to up my game. I’m competing in a very big competition here and there are many people way smarter than me at the contest.

So, I’m having a quieter year. Fewer publications, fewer blog posts here, fewer submissions. Perhaps it’s just a regathering of energy.

I am still writing about as much. Fifteen hundred words a day on average. And I have taken on writing a weekly blog post for the Professional Writers Writing site, which takes up some writing time. I would also say writing for that is giving me some reflection time too.

I’m writing there for other writers, about things that I see as good ways to pursue writing and publishing. I don’t know it all, by a long shot, but over the years I figure that I’ve learned some things that might help others along the road.

I am also making sketchy plans. Mostly for how I’m going to get this volume of work out to the public in a way that might garner me more than a few readers here and there. I am a slow learner, I guess, in terms of how to attract readers, but I figure I’ll get there.
One way is writing better books. And I’m feeling confident that my books are getting better. When I reflect on my early indie books – things like Rotations or The Tunnel – I really see the apprenticeship things I was doing. But also books from last year – The Map Maker of Morgenfeld or Raven Rising – still feel like steps along the way.
And I have so much more to learn.

A second good thing about participating in the Pro Writers Writing site is that there’s a collective camaraderie happening there (some might say, as my father used to mutter, ‘little more than a mutual admiration society’). I guess that being around other writers has got to be good, right?

You bet.

So yes, a quiet year. Tinkering away on big plans for next year. More books from my series. Maybe a new series. Maybe some new standalone books.

We’ll see.

Oh, speaking of standalone, I must say how much I enjoyed Alan Dean Foster’s novel Relic (not an affiliate link). Foster has been around for a long while now and I’ve read many of his books, both the media tie-ins and from his Commonwealth series, and others. For me this was a real treat. Clever, affecting and powerful. I recommend it.

One thing I am working on is the sequel to my middle-grade SF adventure novel Blue Defender. Red Alliance should be out in a month or two. I will update here when that happens.

 

I’ll be contributing a weekly post on Professional Writers Writing

cropped-RJS-logo-1100x190I’m honored to have been invited by writer Harvey Stanbrough to join a group of Professional Writers in contributing to a daily blog post on aspects of the writing life.
Along with five other writers, I’ll write a weekly post on the trials and thrills of being a writer. As well as the six regulars, there’s a small group of others who will rotate posting on a Sunday.

Pro Writers Writing Blog

Now, I kind of feel like I ought to be holding my hand up for having imposter syndrome. I do have numerous professional publications to my name, but I’m still working to figure out how to actually do this writing thing for my livelihood. There are many out there so much more qualified than I to talk about being a professional writer.
Still, I hope that my posts might offer some pointers for younger writers still coming along. Perhaps even for some readers who might like some insights into my writing process.

My posts go out each Monday (effectively Tuesday here in New Zealand). You can read them here.

The other writers and days are:

And the Sunday crew will be:

It’s been fun writing the first few of the blogs (trying to make sure I’m ahead). I find myself writing differently to the way I do here. In a way I feel like I’m finding out my own writing process as I write about it.

Anyway, please stop by the site if you feel so inclined. There are free email subscriptions ready to go if that’s your thing too.

False starts and new beginnings

Blue Defender CoverWriting about a work in progress again here. Maybe that’s going to be my new thing for a while.

I’ve started work on Red Alliance, the sequel to Blue Defender. I got about seven or eight pages in, a couple of thousand words and into the second chapter, and wasn’t feeling it. It felt like hard work. Like I was trying too hard. Trying to get everything covered. After all, it’s a sequel; need to cover all that old ground in a general way. It got lumbering and dull.

Missing an important element there.

Story.

So, I started off again. Started with the story. Not with the old story, but with the new. Those critical details started working their way in piece by piece. And now it’s starting to feel like it’s taking on a life of its own.

That’s good.

For me, anyway. Because now it’s fun to write, rather than being an obligation.
And if something’s fun for me to write, I’m guessing it will be fun for readers to read.