That time of year again

A quick post here about short story contests. Specifically the Sunday Star Times Short Story Contest, here in New Zealand.

sst-logo

Each year around this time, my site gets a lot of views because I’ve written over the last few years about this contest, and, I guess, people are looking for information about when it opens, what the prizes are, when it closes and so on. A google search brings my posts up on the first page when you search up the contest.

I have written about the contest because over those years, their rules have been egregious: their terms and conditions allow them to effectively publish any entry without having to pay the author.

I don’t think that they go ahead and use those rights – they seem to just publish the prize winners. The thing is that rights are all writers have, and we need to protect them.

I don’t know if they’ll retain that this  year. I did get in touch with the contest organisers about the issue, and had a positive to neutral response; to the effect that they would look at those conditions again for the next time they run the contest.

So, I’m hopeful that when they next run the competition, that the conditions will be more favourable to writers. Also hopeful that they will run it this year, and announce the details soon.

The Billows of Sarto in The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction.

yearsbestanzsff_1_frontcoverMarie Hodgkinson of Paper Road Press produces some wonderful books. Coming in November this year is the anthology The Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy. I’m fortunate enough to have a story included.

There are some amazing writers in the book. This is the full table of contents:

“We Feed the Bears of Fire and Ice”, by Octavia Cade (originally published in Strange Horizons)

“A Most Elegant Solution”, by M. Darusha Wehm (originally published in Terraform)

“Girls Who Do Not Drown”, by Andi Buchanan (originally published in Apex Magazine)

“Logistics”, by A.J. Fitzwater (originally published in Clarkesworld)

“The Billows of Sarto”, by Sean Monaghan (originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction)

“A Brighter Future”, by Grant Stone (originally published in Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud (IFWG))

“The People Between the Silences”, by Dave Moore (originally published in Landfall)

“Common Denominator”, by Melanie Harding-Shaw (originally published in Wild Musette Journal)

“Te Ika”, by J.C. Hart (originally published in Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud (IFWG))

“Trees”, by Toni Wi (originally published in Breach)

“The Garden”, by Isabelle McNeur (originally published in Wizards in Space)

“Mirror Mirror”, by Mark English (originally published in Abyss & Apex)

“The Glassblower’s Peace”, by James Rowland (originally published in Aurealis Magazine)

Cover art by Emma Weakley

I’m privileged to be among such company. I’m also thrilled in that this is my first “Year’s Best” selection. I’ve had friends appear in them before, and had my stories listed in the “Recommended Reading” or “Honorable Mentions” pages. Yes, it’s a regional publication the advantage of that is that I think I’ve met about half the writers in person. I’m still pretty stoked.

The anthology is available for preorder now from Paper Road Press

Rebranding gradually

Ship Tracers 2018 thmbI’m very conscious that while I’m a pretty good writer (ahem), and I’m okay with most of the business side, I’m really pretty lousy when it comes to sales and marketing.

Key point for an indie writer, right? Market yourself.

Some of my books have fairly bad covers. Some have terrible sales copy. I don’t even have a mailing list. This site sits in WordPress’s paid domain, but free side. I’ll be upgrading that (*update, Saturday – upgrade done – already I’m out of my depth with customizing the look. Good – out of my depth means I’ll learn to swim).

All of that was okay in the early days of indie publishing, but times have changed. Around me. And in my dozy state I’m just beginning to notice.

So I’m making a few changes. My website. Trying to figure out managing a mailing list. Trying to get a handle on, you know, the basic stuff if you want to gain a few readers here and there. I did start a facebook author page – here where this blog posts to and I do occasional separate posts. That’s a whole other area of learning – social media.

Now I do have some covers and copy I’m proud of – my Captain Arlon Stoddard series books look okay to my mind. Not up there with the $2500 professionally designed books, but still doing okay.

So this will be a time of experimenting. First out of the blocks, I’m going to update the covers and blurbs for the first series I released, starting back in 2012 – The Hidden Dome. Here’s a preview of the new covers. What do you think?

I’m looking for a consistency of branding there, so at least I think I’ve got that. Next step: amazing sales copy. Then the whole repackage, getting them out as print and ebooks again (somehow I never got around to putting The Eye out as a print book, so it will be good to have them all done).

Will I get more sales? Who knows? The thing is I need to work on my branding, my sales and a whole bunch of other things. This is like a practice round.

The Map Maker of Morgenfeld thumbAfter that I do have a second book coming out in my Morgenfeld fantasy series – The Stairs at Cronnenwood. At the same time I will update the original’s cover (see the current cover here – too many design faults there, though I might even use that image). And if I can figure it out, I’ll create that mailing list and have a giveaway Morgenfeld story for signups.

Plan is to have The Stairs at Cronnenwood out in September.

Then there’s another Captain Arlon Stoddard novel to come out. And the third in the Chronicles of the Donner series. I’m not short of material, but I have so much to learn about getting into the hands of readers.

 

 

 

Sargeson Prize – competition for New Zealand writers

sargeson-small-fileOver the last few years I’ve railed against the terms and conditions of the Sunday Star Times short story contest – where they effectively retain the right to publish any entry without paying the author. I have been in touch directly with them, and had a positive response, indicating that they will look again at those terms and conditions should they run the contest again.

In the meantime, there’s another contest open for New Zealand writers – the  Sargeson Prize, run through the University of Waikato. The contest is named for celebrated New Zealand writer Frank Sargeson.

Under the terms of this contest, writers retain the rights to their story, win, lose or place. That’s fair. There is no entry fee (my advice, avoid contests that charge a fee: money flows to authors, not from).

There’s a nice prize too.

You can enter here. Entries are restricted to residents of New Zealand.

Entries close on June 30th, so there’s still a little time to get something in. You could write it tonight and send it in tomorrow, if you’re really keen.

 

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.

 

 

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.