Tag Archives: science fiction

Q&A with me at Asimov’s From Earth to the Stars editor’s blog

asimovs march april 2018I neglected to give anything more than a passing mention that I got interviewed at the Asimov’s blog, specifically about my story in the March April 2018 issue.

The interview is here. I talk with the editors about my process for creating “The Billows of Sarto”, and my general writing process, and a few other things.

Check out the other interviews on the site too. You’ll build up a pretty good picture of authors writing for Asimov’s today.

 

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My story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” wins the Sir Julius Vogel Award

asimovs-cover-jan-2016
A few weeks back I mentioned that I was honoured to be a finalist for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award in short story category, for my Asimov’s story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”.
Well it turns out that, ahem, another small miracle has occurred; the story won the award. I’m amazed and surprised. The other stories on the ballot (at least those I had the chance to read) were excellent, and the authors of those stories read like a who’s-who of New Zealand science fiction: Grace Bridges, A.J. Fitzwater, Andi Buchanan, Octavia Cade.smFront-v5

Yeah.

With other commitments, I was elsewhere during the presentations, but I thank Lee Murray for collecting the award and reading my little speech.
This is my third time on the final ballot, so it’s heartening to pick up a win.
My congratulations to the other winners – a full list here: SJV Winners 2018.
Great to see some others I know in there: Darian, Dan and Lee, and Grace, but well done all.

sjv winners 1

I will be publishing the story as a standalone ebook (and print) in the near future, with a wonderful alternative cover by Maurizio Manzieri.
And, while I’m sharing good news, I have signed the contract for another story, titled “Ventiforms”, set in the same universe, which will be coming out in Asimov’s either later this year or early next year. More news on that closer to the time.

Manzieri_CrimsonBirds_previewb

Writing sales copy – still learning

I like to think that I’m growing and learning as a writer (and despite a string of university qualifications, I’m starting to  wonder if I’m a slow learner. Perhaps a topic for another post). As I learn, I hope I’m getting better a writing blurbs. Blurbs are a whole other language (did I mention somewhere that I struggle with learning languages?).

Stories seem to fall out of me, yet blurbs are more like that old story about pulling teeth.

It strikes me that a blurb, as in sales copy, must describe the book, but not reveal the book. They must be punchy. Rather than saying, ‘well, you might enjoy this book’, they should say, in effect, ‘READ THIS NOW! Your life depends on it!’ I’ve been looking back over some of my blurbs and starting to get a sense of how they miss that. By a wide mark. Sometimes wide means something like the gulf between galaxies.Raven Rising thumb

My recent book Raven Rising started out with this goofy blurb:

“Practically swallowed up by alien forest, the wreck of the Raven offers few clues to the team eager to discover why the ship wrecked so violently. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson faces an enormous task. Will she be able to find the answers before time runs out? An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning
author of The City Builders.”

I think this blurb has some good moments (the last sentence kind of works), but frankly overall it’s pedestrian. Where’s the good reason why a reader might be interested in the book?

All right then, I’ve had a go at another iteration:

“Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in an plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.”

Hmm. Not quite sure yet. Don’t quite know what the next iteration will be.

I am, however, going to take a course in Writing Sales Copy, to see if I can’t get a better handle on this.

Then of course there’s work to do on the covers… and all the time work to do on the craft of writing too…

All this is pretty fun.

Scheduling 26 publications this year

 

As I continue to attempt the business of getting a handle on having indie publications, I’m starting to get a rhythm beyond the haphazard. Over the last few years I feel like I’ve certainly gotten a handle on the writing side of things – writing every day, finishing everything I start, and so on – but getting that material out sometimes gets away on me.

Last year I managed just eight publications. Four novels and four longer stories (some of those in the image above). I didn’t even manage a single collection of those stories, which would have bee kind of easy.

Ah, well.

So this year I’m challenging myself to publish 26 items. One every two weeks. So far I’m on target. Just. Twelve weeks into the year and I’ve managed to publish six items. Two novels (albiet one being the shorter Raven Rising), and four longer stories.

Some of the 26 publications will be collections, which helps, since some of the stories will have already been formatted ready to go. I will try to make sure that each collection has one unique story in, in some cases they might be mostly unique.

I have enough writings ready to go to keep this up for a while, but at some point I’ll run out unless I keep writing. Well, keeping writing is the easy part. Keeping this up might push me somewhat.

Working on learning how to write better blurbs too. And to make better covers. And to get my website looking better. And to do some courses. And to get more things published in the professional magazines. And to just be a better writer.

Some year. Looking forward to it really.

 

Books so far this year at my Smashwords page, or on Amazon. Also on iBooks and so on…

Interesting side note, yes, the Lord of the Rings films, and related items show up on an  Amazon search for my name. I figure because a couple of the hobbits were played by Sean Astin and Dominic Monaghan. As if I didn’t get enough Lord of the Rings already, what with living in New Zealand 🙂

Raven Rising, my second novel for 2018, is out.

Raven Rising thumbI’ve published my shortest novel to date. Is that something to brag about? Not sure. I do like Dean Wesley Smith’s philosophy that a story is the length the story needs to be, rather than pushing to hit some arbitrary wordcount. I think I hear that a hundred thousand words is where a novel should aim.

Well, my story, Raven Rising didn’t need a hundred thousand. Or even fifty thousand. More like thirty-two thousand. Too long to be a novella, but still short for a novel.

This might be more like those “Bookshots” from James Patterson. Little standalone books, full of adventure. Though mine is very much science fiction. Not really the thriller, or similar stories in those books. Deep space science fiction at that.

Cover illustration © Philcold | Dreamstime

Blurb: Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in a plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.

Coming up soon, a post about just how hard I find it to write decent sales copy. It uses a different part of the brain, I’m thinking.

Anyway, Raven Rising is available from various retailers, (link goes to books 2 read universal page, then on to retailers – still learning about that one too). The print version will be available soon. ebook $5.99, print will be $9.99.

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Asimov’s Readers’ poll.

asimovs-cover-jan-2016Asimov’s Science Fiction hold reader polls each year – where readers get the chance to vote for their favorite story from the past year’s issues.

I’m honored that my story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” is a finalist in the short story category. Amazed really.

The full list of finalists, in all categories is on the Asimov’s website.

The story is also a finalist in New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards, so I’m doubly honored.

And, triply cool is that the fabulous cover image by artist Maurizio Manzieri for the story is also a finalist in the Asimov’s Awards. I’ll be releasing the story later in the year as a standalone ebook, with an alternative illustration that Maurizio has graciously licensed to me.

Exciting times. Fingers crossed.

___________

As a bonus, most of the stories are available for a limited time to read online for free at the site.

The Billows of Sarto – new short story in Asimov’s

asimovs march april 2018I probably wax on about my teenage dream of getting published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. This month marks the publication of my fifth story there, in the March-April 2018 issue. I’m humbled every time. That my little ol’ story gets such an honor.

Without giving too much away, “The Billows of Sarto” is set in an dormant volcanic crater, teeming with forest life and hotpools, on a far away planet (isn’t science fiction cool – I get such a fun playground). There’s an interview around somewhere with me (I’ll link to it once I find it!), but one of the questions was about my inspiration for the story.

Well, I do like volcanoes. Growing up in New Zealand, they’re all over. On a clear day, with a bit of elevation, you can see two from my hometown – Taranaki and Ruapehu.

I’ve also been lucky enough to visit volcanoes in other parts of the world too, from the volcanic plugs of the Glass House Mountains in Queensland Australia, to Rano Kau on Easter Island to Mt Fuji in Japan (well in the distance from a train).

One of my favourite places is Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. This is a genuine collapse caldera, where part of the mountain has dropped into the magma chamber (if I have those processes right). A smaller cone has even developed inside the caldera.

(photographs by Diana Monaghan – when I was there I was so in love with the place I forgot to take any. Excuse the bluriness – not Mum’s fault: mine. I photographed her photos with my phone. Sheesh).

It was fun to write the story, taking those places and reinventing them, with new ecologies and geothermal systems and, I hope, interesting characters.

Oh, it also turns out that my last story for Asimov’s, “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”, is also a finalist in the Asimov’s  Annual Readers’ Award Poll, short story category, which is quite an honor. Maurizio’s wonderful cover art is also a finalist in the art category. Feels like that’ll need a longer post soon.