Tag Archives: writing

Latest novel: The City Builders – out on April 16th

City BuildersMy 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:

Desra Parker loves investigating strange planets. But when missiles shoot her ship down over Mackelle, Desra and her crew find themselves in a desperate race for survival. Battling the elements and relentless building-sized robots, Desra needs to unravel the mysteries of Mackelle’s endless city if she’s going to keep anyone alive. And figure out a way to get home.
I was lucky enough to get this wonderful cover illustration by Bertrandb (Dreamstime.com) which perfectly conveys the setting.
Available from your usual retailers, including
ebook – $5.99
Print $17.99
Amazon

Writing a novel while traveling, some thoughts

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.

My schedule for LexiCon

Lexicon header

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 🙂

books 2017c.jpg

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, some NaNoWriMo thoughts for writers

National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – is a celebration of writing, described on the website as “a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing”. The idea is to write a whole novel during November.

nanowrimologo.jpg

I think NaNoWriMo is a wonderful thing. It gets people writing. Gives focus and milestones and goals. Fabulous.

One little niggle though, and I may be wrong, so feel free to shout me down. It seems to me that participants are encouraged to write fast and sloppy. Get the words down and come back and fix them later.

As if ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ are irrevocably linked.

I’m not convinced that’s the best approach.

For a time I tutored in a university creative writing programme. I hold a Masters of Philosophy in creative writing. As part of my job I even run writing workshops for children. I’m not sure any of that really qualifies me to give NaNoWriMo advice (or any writing advice for that matter).

Nor have I ever participated in NaNoWriMo.

So, my thoughts are really just the opinion of a relative layman.

That said, I have written a novel in a month. It just happened to be June of this year, rather than November. I’ve written several other novels this year, mostly though, taking more than a month (forty days seems to be my around-about duration).

So, if I think ‘fast’ and ‘sloppy’ is not the best approach, what do I think?

Why not write fast and the best you possibly can? Those two can go hand in hand. Really, that’s how I strive to write. I can’t say if my writing’s any good or not (that’s up to the readers), but whenever I sit down to write, I don’t go sloppy. I write the best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I’m always working to write the best I can.

I think if you write sloppy, that might be how you’re training yourself to write. I doubt that Venus Williams plays sloppy when she’s practising. I hope the guys who put a new roof on my house didn’t hammer sloppy. I don’t do a sloppy job on my taxes and come back to fix it later.

Write the best you can. Every time you go write. Even if you’re aiming to write a novel in a month.

So, that’s my two cents on NaNoWriMo. Have a great month. Write a great novel. And as you write, do the best you can.

Final entry into the Writers of the Future Contest

I have made my final entry into the Writers of the Future Contest. For the last five years I’ve entered every quarter, but with my forthcoming story in January’s issue of  Asimovs, my eligibility comes to an end.

WOTF-FINALIST-#31Writers of the Future is perhaps the premier writing contest for non-professional speculative writers.

I’ve been a finalist, and I’ve had straight rejections. My tally over more than twenty entries also includes numerous honorable mentions, a silver honorable mention and three semi-finalist placings. So often feeling so close.

I felt a bit sad clicking ‘submit’ with my final entry. This thing is over. I have numerous friends who’ve won the competition and been published in the anthology. I would have liked to join them (well, I still have this one last shot, right?).

Flipside: I feel elated. I wouldn’t be losing eligibility if I hadn’t been having success with my writing. And I wouldn’t be having success if I hadn’t been tenacious. Taking those non-winning stories (and other stories) and sending them to other markets. Writing and learning and sending off and writing some more.

Now of course, I have my sights on some other prizes and awards. Aim high.