My schedule for LexiCon

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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.

 

 

Low Arc to appear in The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The First Decade

jbmassc-coverMy 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.

jbmassc cover without text

A different kind of a year.

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 🙂

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Five years of writing every day.

keys.jpgFor 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.

Sir Julius Vogel Award nominations open.

smFront-v5The 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.

End of year review – some successes and some… learning experiences.

2016 feels like my best year ever. Publishing went well. Work went well. I wrote more words than in any previous year. I also published more than any previous year.

Novels

My goal this year was to publish nine novels. I got eight. Failed at my goal, but, well you know… eight novels out there, so more successful than any other year so far.

 

Seven science fiction, one thriller (Taken by Surprise – but I hope that’s obvious from the cover). Three novels from my Karnish River Navigations Series. I feel like I learned a whole lot about the writing process and how to become prolific (I’m still not there). I feel like I’m making all my blunders in public. Busking away as I try to learn to be a better writer.

All of the books are available in print and ebook from most regular retailers. One thing for me to work on next year is maximizing the availability. My personal favourites are Athena Setting and Night Operations.

Submissions

I’ve been working to keep my stories circulating (unsurprisingly, my stories don’t always sell to the first editor. Sometimes they don’t even sell to the tenth). I’ve made almost 150 submissions through the year (145 as I type this – I hope to get an extra few by year’s end).

I had around six acceptances, and seven publications, plus one reprint:

  • Scour in New Myths (a Karnish River Navigations story, so ties in with some of the novels above).
  • Penny of Tharsis Montes in Amazing Stories (this was my Gernsback Amazing Stories contest co-winner).
  • The Bubbcat in Cirsova Issue 4
  • The Root Bridges of Haemae in Aurealis
  • Wakers in Asimov’s
  • Go For The Dome in Perihelion
    Kernel in Digital Science Fiction (reprint – originally published in Aurealis)
  • Ink for a Verbal Contract in Ad Astra (this was my Writers of the Future contest finalist from a few years back – nice to see it find a home).

Also, my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” made the cover of the January/February 2017 issue of Asimov’s. It came out on December 20th, so I’m unsure whether to count it here or next year. Maybe both. 🙂

With that last story, I’ve had to make my final entry into the Writer’s of the Future contest. I’m now, for the purposes of the contest, considered a professional writer. Next year a change up too: except for a couple close to my heart, I’ll be targetting only pro-paying outlets. Seems obvious really.

Currently I have about thirty stories out on submission.

I had the good fortune to be a finalist for four awards. My novella “The Molenstraat Music Fesival” (Asmov’s September 2015) for the Aurealis Awards (won by Garth Nix), the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Octavia Cade) and the Asimov’s Reader’s Awards (Michael Swanwick and Gregory Frost), and my short story “The Harpsichord Elf” (Capricious, Issue #1) for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards (Lee Murray).

Also music – I worked with Kendall on some new Shadows on the Snow material. I think I should do a separate post about that elsewhere.

Failing to success is a term I got from Dean Wesley Smith – my take on it is that while you might miss reaching your goals, you still achieve something in that striving. While I didn’t quite make all my goals, I feel like I shot high.

Next year

Still thinking about how to approach next year. I do think I’ll shoot for ten novels. I have a few at various stages of the editing process (as in four complete manuscripts, copyediting, formatting, etc. to do). I’ll be doing some traveling too, so that might impact my writing time. I have some strategies around that. Pretty sure I won’t make the 150 submissions. Travel, and focus on novels means I’ll have fewer stories to circulate. Some of these old ones have burned through their potential markets. Likely I’ll bundle them up into a collection or two and publish that myself.

All the best for your new year. Reach for your goals: it’s a whole lot of fun.

Crimson Birds of Small Miracles – story in January/February Asimov’s

asimovs-cover-jan-2016My story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is out now in the January-February issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. 2017 marks the 40th year of Asimov’s. I’m honored to be included, and extra-honored to have my story illustrated for the cover with wonderful art by Maurizio Manzieri.

C.J. Penn does everything he can for his ailing daughter, including traveling across worlds in search of relief from her symptoms. When they find the opportunity to witness the displays of Shilinka Switalla’s crimson birds, Penn leaps at the opportunity.

The issue should be out in bookstores now, and it’s also available as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others.

Maurizio was kind enough to share with me (and grant permission for me to share here), the original image and his study work for the birds themselves. I’m thrilled with these. The images capture the story so well.