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Writing update – all in the computer

So, about four months back I posted that I’d finally written the words “THE END” in a notebook, signally the first draft of my novel length work was complete.

Of course, that was longhand writing. I still had about 30,000 words that were sitting in notebooks that needed to be typed up.

About 8 weeks ago I posted that, due to starting writing other things, I hadn’t quite got around to writing up those words. I promised you, dear reader, that I would knuckle down and get this bad boy written up. You have been very patient, and as such I am pleased to finally reward that patience by announcing that, last night, I once again wrote the words “THE END” – this time on the keyboard.

As per my current writing process, I have been taking the chance to tweak things as I type them up, but the work is still very rudimentary. Still, it is now at least a complete electronic entity that has been backed up in a few locations. It’s good to know that a freak laptop explosion that causes my writing desk to catch on fire and incidentally burns all my notebooks is no longer the risk it once was.

I mean the likelihood is the same, but the consequences are way less.   I’m downgrading that sucker from “high” to “medium” risk overall.

One of the advantages of typing everything up is getting more accurate stats about the impact of my new writing approach. The total length of the book as it stands is just over 110,000 words. You might recall that I decided to start writing one page a night as a mandatory minimum, and that one page equals around 100 words in my notebooks. This was to try and get some kind of momentum with my writing.

I had been a bit concerned that this would mean that I only ended up writing the 700 words a week minimum, however during the time that I used this technique, I averaged about 2,800 words a week, demonstrating that the “make yourself do something even if it is tiny” technique really works for me.

So, what now? I’m reading through a book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. I’m generating a Kindle version of the book so I can read it in a different format and really start to wince at the cliches and gaping continuity errors. And the telling, not showing. Soooo much telling!

(BTW is it a cliche yet for writers who are talking about their first drafts to say there are too many cliches? Ah, what the hell. This is the first draft of this post as well)

From now on I think I will alternate weeks, one week writing new work, one week editing the novel. We’ll see how that goes.

So, that’s the end of my writing update. How is your writing going? If you are not writing or are not a writer at all:

  1. Why not?
  2. Feel free to update us on any other hobbies and pastimes that you happen to indulge in.

Come on. Share with the group.

Dimension6 – Issue 2

Dimension6 is a free speculative fiction magazine, produced by Coeur de Lion Publishing and issue 2 is out now!

This website is an affiliate of Dimension 6, where you can download each issue.

Issue 2 – (July 2014)

Issue 2 features:

‘At Dawn’s Speed’ by Dirk Strasser
Swift and her tribe have been running their whole lives, because the touch of the sun brings the ‘silvering’.

_________________________________

‘Upon a Distant Shore’ by Alan Baxter
Astronaut Anatoly Novikov wanted a mission that would inscribe his name on the ages. Finally he got one.

_________________________________

‘He Ain’t Dead’ by Robert N Stephenson
It’s simple really. Don’t mess with native American burial mounds.

And the winner is…

So, as regular readers of this blog know I’ve been helping out with a podcast called Galactic Chat, in which we interview people in the speculative fiction field. Usually authors and usually Australian, although not exclusive on either front.

Recently, our podcast was nominated for a Ditmar (which are the Australian national voted speculative fiction awards) in the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category. It was a great honour to be nominated, however we were up against some absolutely fantastic competition (the likes of Galactic SuburbiaThe Writer and the Critic, The Coode St podcast - all of which are up for the internationally recognised Hugo award this year). I don’t know about the others, but I spent quite some time practicing my gracious loser face, in case the television cameras panned to me when they announced someone else won.

(What do you mean it wasn’t broadcast on national television? What about local television? You mean that was just some guy with his own video camera? Sheesh)

There were a lot of awards to give out (the Victorian Chronos Awards, the Ditmars and a few additional individual awards that defy classification), but MC’s George Ivanoff and Narelle Harris did an excellent job keeping things moving. Soon enough we got to our category, and I sat in the audience with what I hoped was a congratulatory grin on my face.

And then we won!

It was a shock, I can tell you. Sean Wright, our intrepid leader and absolute backbone of the Galactic Chat podcast, led us up on stage and before I knew it we were each being handed a trophy.

Me and my DitmarAs you can see from the photo, it is a very pretty trophy.

Sean and Alex did the talking for us on stage, but I’d like to use this post to thank my fellow interviewers (Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs and David McDonald) and in particular thank our fellow nominees – I listen to all the other podcasts and always take a huge amount of enjoyment from them and both fanzines listed have a long and distinguished history in the Australian speculative fiction scene. I’d also like to thank Jason Nahrung and Keith Stevenson, who were the very patient subjects of my newbie interview techniques during the qualifying period.

Congratulations to all the winners on the night, in particular Sean Wright who also took home the Best Fan Writer award.

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who voted for us. You know who you are.

For a full list of all nominees, you can go here. At the time of writing, a list of the full results hadn’t been published, but I shall come back and edit this post when they have.

Edit 11/6/2014

The results are on Wikipedia now.

Showdown now available at Electric Spec

As reported earlier in the month, I recently sold my short story Showdown to the good people at Electric Spec.

Well, I’m pleased to say that the new edition (Volume 9, Issue 2) has gone live and Showdown is available to read online.

If semi-urban Australian fantasy with an elderly protagonist isn’t quite your style, you can still check out the other excellent offering which include:

  • Girl with the Crooked Spine by Jason Sturner - an unusual fantasy about a unique girl and a misfit boy who meet in the Field Museum in Chicago.
  • A Learned Man by Melinda Brasher is a fantasy inspired by La Leyenda de Bolsa Salgado, an El Salvadorian folktale.
  • Khuminay and the Axe-Wielding Psycho by Barton Paul Levenson. In it, there’s a creature named Khuminay and there’s at least one murder via an axe.
  • Between the Covers by Kathryn Yelinek takes place partly on Earth and partly on another world and explore the topic: what do you do if your memories of yourself aren’t reliable?
  • Forgetting by David E. Hughs is another memory related story.

On the non-fiction side is the ‘Spec Fic in Flicks’ column by Marty Mapes. This edition the topic is “An Alien Perspctive on the Human Condition”.

This edition also contains an interview with author Brian McClellan. McClellan writes epic fantasy, specifically, The Powder Mage Trilogy.

I hope you enjoy Showdown and the rest this edition of Electric Spec.

Continuum 10 – Melbourne Australia

Well, I’ve made the relatively last minute decision to head down to Melbourne to the Australian National SF Convention. This year it is Continuum, the Victorian convention.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make any conventions this year. Life has been quite hectic and while I’ve made enough accommodations to fit in some writing every day, I didn’t think I’d be able to get away for a whole long weekend.

But my very understanding wife, perhaps sensing the need for me to have some down time, suggested that I head to Melbourne for the convention. I suspect I’m going to need to look after the kids one weekend in the near future so she can get away as well!

I’m arriving on the Saturday morning and leaving Monday morning, so I’ll miss the very start and very end of the convention. But that should still leave plenty of time for catching up with friends and generally imbibing the goodness that is a SF convention.

If you’re going to Continuum and you see me around, make sure you come up and say hi.

 

Patronising Musketeer Space

Wait, maybe that isn’t the greatest title for this post. Oh well, I’ve typed it now. Editing three words seems like a lot of work.

I have become a patron of the arts! Well, of an art. “How did this happen?” I hear you ask. No, no – too late. You’re committed to hearing an answer now.

As Jeeves (*) was driving me down to the Opera House to smoke cigars and laugh at student protestors with my wealthy mates, it occurred to me that with my fabulous riches came the obligation to be seen to support the arts. Of course I don’t want to actually hang around with creative types. Bohemian grungy plebs with their dreadlocks and their communism. No, I was delicately balanced on the horns of a dilemma. How did I maintain my social status by being able to talk about the “worthy” causes I supported, without actually touching any of the people involved in them?

Jeeves pointed out that the Internet was handy for the whole not-actually-physically-interacting thing. After I had him roundly whipped for speaking to his betters without permission, I had a sudden thought. It occurred to me that the Internet is handy for the whole not-actually-physically-interacting thing. So I sought out causes whose worth I could talk about and donate to without actually meeting any of the artists.

And that was how I came across Musketeer Space, an initiative by Tasmanian writer Tansy Rayner Roberts.

To quote from the artist herself:

Musketeer Space is a (mostly) gender-swapped retelling of The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, one of my favourite all time books, as a space opera. The gender-swapping aspect is part of the experiment – I wanted to challenge some of my own preconceptions about gender and narrative, and taking a classic novel apart like this is a fun way to do it. Plus I love space opera, the kind with heightened drama and romance, and I think there’s nothing wrong with mashing up spaceships with swashbuckle.

Roberts will be publishing one chapter a week of this interesting sounding book, and the first chapter is now online on her website. She also gives an update on the experience of using Patreon to gather ongoing funding.

I highly enjoyed the first chapter and decided to dip my toe in the waters of patronising by pledging a monthly amount. There are some interesting advantages in pledging at higher levels, and while I don’t need a fictional spaceship named after me (my membership of a nameless secret society dedicated to maintaining clandestine contact with our alien overlords means I have an actual spaceship named after me), the idea of getting extra information from the author in the form of a regular newsletter certainly appealed.

So if you, like me, yearn to add “Patron of the Arts” to your resume, why not head over to the Musketeer Space Patreon page and get involved.

 

(*) of course it would be a wild coincidence if someone called Jeeves actually decided to become a butler/driver. So wild that I won’t insult your intelligence by pretending that is actually what happened. I made him change his name when he came into my service of course.

Short Story Sale – Electric Spec

I was very excited earlier in the week to hear that the fine people at Electric Spec wanted to publish one of my short stories, titled Showdown.

Who are Electric Spec? In their own words:

Electric Spec is a not-for-profit speculative fiction magazine published four times per year. Our primary goal is getting great speculative fiction into the hands (or screens) of readers. Since 2005, we’ve been publishing short stories from authors all over the world. We’ve worked with all kinds of authors, from published professionals to new writers. We also believe in the value of the editorial process, and we edit every story we publish. 

Electric Spec have recently published a blog article announcing some of the first line up for their next edition (including me!), which can be found here.

I’m really excited to work with Lesley and the rest of the Electric Spec editorial team on bringing Showdown to life. The edition is due to be published on May 31, and I hope you read and enjoy my story.

Galactic Chat up for a Ditmar

So, the preliminary Ditmars ballot is out and a podcast that I contributed to last year (Galactic Chat) has been nominated. It’s the first time a speculative fiction project I’ve been involved in has been nominated for an award, so its very exciting.

The 2014 Ditmar preliminary ballot can be found here, but to save that extra click, Galactic Chat can be found in the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium category, which I’ve reproduced below.

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • Dark Matter Zine, Nalini Haynes
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • Galactic Chat Podcast, Sean Wright, Alex Pierce, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, and Mark Webb
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Those that follow speculative fiction awards closely may have already noticed that three of our competitors are up for the Hugo award for Best Fancast (The Writer and the Critic, Galactic Suburbia and The Coode Street Podcast).

Now just because we’re up against three Hugo nominated podcasts doesn’t mean we have any less chance…
(…checks facts…)
Ah, apparently it does mean we have less of a chance. Still, I like to think of us as a plucky band of misfits taking on the might of the establishment, and unless fiction has lied to me my entire life that means we’re almost certain to win…
(…checks facts again…)
OK, apparently fiction has lied to me my entire life. Ummm, it’s an honour to be nominated?
(…checks facts a third time…)
Yes, it’s an honour to be nominated.
Phew.
I should also mention that several of the Galactic Chat “cast” have further nominations.
  • David McDonald has been nominated for the William J Atheling Award for Criticism or Review;
  • Alex Pierce was nominated twice for the Atheling, is part of the Galactic Suburbia team AND was nominated for Best Fan Writer; and
  • Sean Wright, leader of aforementioned plucky band of misfits, has also been nominated for the Best Fan Writer award.

All nominations are very well deserved – its been a pleasure working with all the members of the Galactic Chat crew and it’s great to see them being recognised for their diverse talents.

The Ditmars are presented each year at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, which this year is Melbourne’s Continuum, held in early June.

Wefting the Warp online

I recently blogged that my story, Wefting the Warp, had been purchased and published by Robot and Rayguna UK based speculative fiction magazine. The first publication was done through eBook form, available through Amazon and other fine eBook retailers.

For those not wanting to purchase the eBook version, good news. Robot and Raygun progressively publish each month’s stories on their website. My story is now freely available. Go and check it out. While you’re there, why not read the other fine fiction Robot and Raygun have been publishing?

Dimension6 launches

Dimension6

I’m very excited to see a new speculative fiction magazine launch in Australia. It’s Dimension6, Keith Stevenson’s latest venture through his publishing house Coeur de Lion.

Long time readers might recall that I interviewed Keith for GalacticChat a few months back. Keith is a mainstay of the Australian speculative fiction scene and one of its true innovators. I’m excited to see what he’ll do with Dimension6.

Go and check it out – can’t argue with the price (free!).

This website is also an affiliate for Dimension6 – you can download each issue’s copy from this page.