Category Archives: fiction

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.

 

 

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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.

Sequel to Blue Defender is underway

Blue Defender CoverI don’t ordinarily write about works in progress. Maybe about upcoming releases, but mostly I shut up about what I’m working on. Maybe because, well, what if it crashes and burns? What if I get expectations too high?
But Red Alliance, the sequel to Blue Defender, has made a start. 1325 words (about four pages) for the first day. That’s an all right start.
I don’t have a cover yet. I don’t have a plot outline. I’m excited to see where it goes.
Interesting side note, the title for Red Alliance was chosen by my daughter. I wrote Blue Defender for her (see this post about that) and she seemed to enjoy it. At least enough that she wanted a sequel. We tossed around titles. Her first thought was that it needed to be Red [something].
I had to agree. If there’s a third book, well, I guess that’ll be Green [something], or maybe Yellow [something].
These are books written for her, so I guess for a middle-school age, but the adults who’ve read the first one enjoyed the story, so I guess it’s for all ages.

Blue Defender is available from various retailers here, also, Amazon

A little break

Punakaiki Cottage – a pretty good place to get some writing done

So I know there is a way to write a whole bunch of posts and have them roll out automatically, even if I’m, say, away on holiday. And holiday for me usually means little or no internet. Let me tell you, that’s really refreshing.

Also, no internet is really good for the writing. So, while on holiday over Christmas and New Year I still got a whole lot of writing done. Keeping up the streak of writing every single day. I started that practice on January 1st 2012. So, seven years. 2,557 days (if my calculations of the number of days in a year, including a couple of leap years, are correct). (also, another twenty-two days as I come to post this).

One place had no electricity (some solar for lighting and the shower pump, but nothing for recharging batteries). An old schoolhouse. That just took some smart battery management on the laptop for a couple of days.

Anyway, writing while on holiday is a blast. We stayed in some awesome spots around New Zealand’s South Island, including this one near Punakaiki. Now, if you’ve got to be somewhere other than your usual writing nook to get some writing done, this one is pretty good.

“Ventiforms” a new Shilinka Switalla story in Asimov’s

Having just returned from a month’s break I guess I should mention my new story “Ventiforms” in the current (January/ February 2019) issue of Asimov’s.

Following my award-winning* (yay) story from two years ago, “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles“, this is another story from my world of Shilinka Switalla. Ms. Switalla is an artist who creates artworks on a vast scale. In the case of “Ventiforms” transforming whole canyons into musical instruments.

My Worlds of Shilinka Switalla universe is growing slowly, with two other stories also available, “Cathedrals” and “Ten Gravity Tower“. I have fun with the concepts, and I’m glad that readers enjoy the stories too.