My latest release continues the theme of strange and dangerous environments challenging the characters. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of vast cities so it I had fun taking free rein creating the world of Mackelle. The blurb goes like this:
Later this year I’m heading away for a trip into the wilds. Well, with some touches of cities and towns. The trip will involve thirteen flights. I’m taking carry-on luggage only. I might need a subtitle: ‘while traveling light’.
Dean Wesley Smith wrote a series of blog posts earlier this year about writing a novel in five days while traveling. Well, I won’t be managing a novel in five days. Much too much sightseeing to do-but it would be cool to get a whole novel through the trip.
Smith took his whole big writing computer, lugging it in the back seat of the car. On the basis that it’s easier to write with the same old regular writing set-up. I agree, but with air travel and boat travel and a whole lot of walking I’m leaving my hefty desktop behind. In fact, not even taking a laptop.
Instead I’m using a smartphone with a wordprocessing app, a bluetooth keyboard and a dinky little stand I designed and had 3D printed. The three pieces fit snugly into a kind of re-purposed travel wallet. I designed the stand to fit into the cavity in the keyboard – where the battery section forms sticks out. A couple of Velcro dots hold the pair together for packing.
Even with the charger, the whole package is way smaller than my laptop (as it turns out, smaller than my laptop charging brick and the cord combined).
Smith has some other good hints – be realistic, plan for the fiction writing and plan for the touristy stuff. To be honest I’m not sure that I’ll get through a novel in the time, but part of this is to keep up the momentum with the writing every day process. Even if I only get down a few hundred words in a day, I’ll know that I’m know that I’m on track with that.
Doubling on the packing light; that phone will also serve as my camera (I do have a nice camera which takes way better photos, but it’s kind of bulky; the phone will do). The phone also has an e-ink screen on the back, so I have reading material (without chewing through the battery), and, importantly, I’m taking a tiny OTG drive to back-up my work everyday. There’ll be some long stretches with no internet access, which is fine by me, but when I do get access I’ll back up through my email as well.
I’ve tried out the system to make sure it works for me – beyond just typing on the keys (given Smith’s point about writing on your regular set-up). I took a few days worth of writing time and wrote a short story – 6000 words – going to various places; home, other places at home, my lunchbreak space at work, Subway (where I’m sure I looked pretty geeky to other sandwich eaters and passersby). Completed the story. Got it backed up. Good to go.
Still, we’ll see how it all works out when I get underway to Easter Island and the Galapagos. I’ll keep you posted.
This year I’m attending two full days of the New Zealand Science Fiction Convention, LexiCon, in Taupo. I’m honored to have been asked to sit on two panels.
The State of Genre Publishing. Discussing the various publishing options for authors: traditional publishers, small presses, self publishing and more. With Marie Hodgkinson, Darian Smith, Sean Monaghan, and Leigh K Hunt.
Sat 9am in Hine-i-tīweka (Jupiter)
Hard SF – Where Engineers Go To Die… and how to open it up for the rest of us. With Art Protin, Sean Monaghan and Mark English.
Sun 5pm in Matawhero (Mars)
I’m looking forward to the convention and getting time to hang out with old friends.
My story “Low Arc”, which won the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Award, will appear among other winning and place-getting stories in a new volume due this autumn.
The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest is an annual award, run as an association between the National Space Society, and Baen Books. Winners attend the International Space Development Conference, including an awards dinner for the presentation.
The contest is administrated by Nebula Award Nominee William Ledbetter. He’s edited this volume. Thanks Bill.
The contest asks contestants to “write a short story of no more than 8,000 words, that shows the near future (no more than about 50-60 years out) of manned space exploration”. My own story is an adventure piece, set on the moon in the near future. One of the times where I’ve gone for hard sci-fi.
This is my first pro anthology appearance, and I’m honoured to be among such company.
“A Better Sense of Direction” by Mjke Wood
“Letting Go” by David Walton
“Cathedral” by Mike Barretta
“Space Hero” by Patrick Lundrigan
“That Undiscovered Country” by Nancy Fulda
“Taking the High Road” by R.P.L. Johnson
“The Lamplighter Legacy” by Patrick O’Sullivan
“Low Arc” by Sean Monaghan
“We Fly” by K.B. Rylander
“Dear Ammi” by Aimee Ogden
“Citizen-Astronaut” by David D. Levine
“Gemini XVII” by Brad R. Torgersen
“Scramble” by Martin L. Shoemaker
“Balance” by Marina J. Lostetter
“To Lose the Stars” by Jennifer Brozek
“Cylinders” by Ronald D Ferguson
The cover is by the esteemed Bob Eggleton. Bob published a thumbnail of the cover minus the text on facebook, which is kind of cool.
So my number of external publications is slowing. Down to a few factors.
First: I’m focusing on novels, so I’ll be writing fewer short stories and novellas. I may write a short story or two between bursts of novels. Inclination will be a big determinant on that 🙂
Second: I have a trip coming up later in the year. Six weeks. Latin America. I can’t guarantee my access to the internet to manage submissions and the business as a whole. So I’m putting submissions on hold from now through until I return. No sense in frustrating editors if by chance they want my story and they can’t get hold of me.
Third: I’m pursuing professional sales only. You would think that that’s an obvious strategy, but for many years I’ve undervalued my writing. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of my publications, or ungrateful to those editors who’ve honored me with publication.
Naturally this assumes that editors will take my stories. I have had numerous professional publications, and I generally get positive personal rejections from most for stories that don’t make the cut. Making it cut is always a long shot. I recall reading that Clarkesworld receives around 1000 submissions a month, all angling for one of five places in the magazine.
So, all that said, if I’m not here announcing more frequently, it’s because I have less to announce.
Naturally, I will be writing just as much 🙂
For a moment, I thought I’d wait until I hit 2000 consecutive days of writing every day, but I still feel like five years (1826 days) is a good round figure.
So, last December 31st, 2016 I made it through five years of writing every day. I counted the words written each day as I went (heading for annual targets). Some days I wrote a little (156 words for my lowest count), some days a whole lot more (over 8000 on my best day), most days around 1500.
Each year my total wordcount has crept up. From just over a half million in 2012 to well over 600,000 last year.
What did I learn?
Well, I hope I learned to be a better storyteller. Raymond Chandler is supposed to have said that every writer has “a million words of crap” in them before they start writing readable fiction. My five years has produced over 2.5 million. With the years before, I suspect I’m up well over three million words. I’m not convinced that I’m not still writing crap.
Dean Wesley Smith would say that a writer is the worst judge of his or her own writing. I’d agree there. Some of my stories I think are duds sell, and some I think are wonderful circulate and circulate without finding a home.
(Chandler also said “A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled” – I like that one).
Along with learning about writing, I’m learning about the business of writing. How to manage my time more effectively and how to worry less often. I guess another thing I’m learning is patience. Whether that be waiting for the response from a publisher, or waiting for my readership to grow. Getting there.
The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s science fiction awards. Presented annually at the convention in June.
The ceremony brings out the cream of the New Zealand science fiction scene – too many to list here, but I’d include Lee Murray and Octavia Cade, both of whom won awards in categories for which I was a finalist last year.
I am eligible once again, though this time just in the short story category.
I had the a few stories published during 2015 which are eligible and some of which are available as free reads.
Scour in New Myths (click to read for free)
Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (click to read for free)
The Bubbcat in Cirsova Issue 4
The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis
Wakers in Asimov’s
Go For The Dome in Perihelion (click to read for free)
Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (click to read for free)
I’d also like to do a shout out for a couple of others here – Lee Murray for her novel Into The Mist, and Octavia Cade for her novella Eating Science with Ghosts – Asimov’s October/November 2016. If I am fortunate enough to be nominated this year, at least it it won’t be up against these two, since they’re different categories (then again, they may have placed stories I haven’t spotted yet).
Previous winner AJ Fitwater also has some eligible stories, listed on her website there – a nice tale in Shimmer – “An Atlas in Sgraffito Style”.
Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray deserve an editors’ nomination for At The Edge, their Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror anthology. This also includes AC Buchanan’s story And Still the Forests Grow though we are Gone.
Nominations are open at the SFFANZ site, through until March 31st. Good luck to everyone.
My current story in Asimov’s – “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is not eligible, since it’s in the January issue. The story will be eligible for the 2018 awards.