Sunday, April 26, 2009

My writing week 2(17)

Hi all,

Well I did more writing last week than the week before, but that aint saying much. I have made quite a few changes to chapter two and added a bit too. Chapter two was originally the second part of a novella so it contained the story's revelations, but as I have now extended it into a novel, those revelations don't need to occur in chapter two and can be sprinkled throughout the rest of the novel.

If you read my review of the very good Time Machines Repaired While U Wait, you would have seen my comments about what I consider to be good and bad time travel stories. As it happened, I had just finished critiquing a time travel story which fell into the bad category. It had as its premise a very unoriginal idea, on par with going back and killing Hitler. I wonder how many writers in the future will be tempted to write a story where their protagonist goes back in time and convinces George W. Bush that a career in catering, at say McDonald's, would be more suited to his talents.

I didn't do much reading last week. Too tired after my efforts to keep fit and stop life from overrunning me. At least it rained and, for about the first time in two years, I could delay watering the garden.

And if you are wondering, I still haven't received my stimulus package money. It's also time to bug Aussiecon 4 again, because they are still yet to send me an acknowledgement of my membership payment.

Here's hoping I can speed up my novel editing this week.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time Machines - Repaired While U Wait, a review

Hi all,

I have always loved a good story about time travel. Bad time travel stories have someone going back to a time where the protagonist frets about changing the future - will I or won't I kill Hitler, Jack the Ripper, George Bush - and usually have me wanting the protagonist to have never been born. Good time travel stories mainly take place in the future and are full of time paradoxes and continually break the imagined rules of time travel.

Time Machines Repaired While U Wait by Australian K. A. Bedford falls into the good category. Set in the near future in Perth Australia - where for some reason it now rains all the time - its main protagonist Aloysius "Spider" Webb is a disillusioned ex-cop working in a time machine repair shop. It seems time machines are the new Ferrari with most wealthier citizens having one. Time travel is regulated and the machines have limits on what time periods they can travel to. For instance it is illegal to go ahead in time and get tonight's lotto numbers.

One day a body turns up in one of the time machines Spider is fixing, his cop instincts kick in and we follow his attempts to solve the mystery. Along the way he gets help from future versions of himself and is hindered by his boss, Dickhead McMahon. The tension increases as the Spider finds himself in increasingly strange situations.

Spider would be classed by many as a loser, but I think he has more in common with the increasingly disillusioned population of Australia, and indeed the West, than people, who are desperately trying to keep their lives too busy to contemplate their existence, would care to admit. I felt for him: his poverty, his damaged relationships.

I have made a point over the past few years of reading Australian science fiction. Most of those stories have cut out the unique Australian vernacular so that the characters could be pretty much... well American. This novel doesn't. And it's published in Canada. I reckon the Canadians are very aware of the Americanisation of their culture. At first I found it strange reading Australian dialogue in a science fiction book, but then I got into it, revelled in it.

The conclusion resolves the murder, but leaves plenty of room for a sequel.

Overall, this is one of the better Australian speculative fiction novels that I have read. It is brave in its Australianess and original in its the way it uses the commonality of time travel.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

My writing week 2(16)

Hi all,

Last week wasn't that great for writing as I spent most of it catching up on non-writing things after Easter. I only managed a bit of editing of Stalking Tigers each day. I critiqued one story and did very little reading, although I did finish reading the enjoyable Time Machines Repaired While U Wait, by Adrian Bedford, which I will review later this week. This week I plan to do much more of all things writing.

I am still yet to receive confirmation of my membership to AussieCon 4 after paying the $210 membership about a month ago. I sent Vic Sci-Fi Conventions an email last week to which they replied that they would notify their membership people.

I have continued reading articles and posts about the proposed changes to the parallel importation laws in Australia. I found a blog post by author Alison Croggon on royalties here very concerning. She thinks her royalties might be reduced by nearly half. I really don't see the need for change as the costs to Australian authors, publishers and printers seem to far outweigh any hoped for small book price decreases.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My writing week 2(15)

Hi all,

I'm a bit late with this week's post because a rabbit kept on giving me chocolate treats and delicious fruit buns with plus signs iced on them. My wagon also broke down - after nearly six months - and I had a couple of drinks. I had the house to myself for a few days so I practiced being a slob. I was getting pretty good at it, until work intervened. Nothing like getting up at 4am for work to get you back into craving healthy living.

I watched a few movies including the remake of Planet of the Apes, which wasn't as terrible as I remembered. I still think the original is a classic.

I did some editing, finishing the first chapter of the novel and beginning the second. The first chapter only grew by about 300 words.

I only critiqued one story. I was put off by the first story emailed to me being written by a person whose main language is not English. I would have spent days writing the critique. After the first 1,000 words I still had no idea what the story's speculative fiction element was, all it seemed to be about was some hoods trying to act cool. I threw that story in the bin and tried another. The second one was classified as science-fiction - Wrong - it nearly slipped into horror, but I thought it was more of a thriller. It was well written though and an enjoyable read, therefore a pleasure to critique.

I did some reading in the first part of the week and will probably review the novel I am reading next week, where you will learn about the major typo/discontinuity problem I found on one page.

Time to do some editing.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

My writing week 2(14)

Hi all,

It seems that editing my novel may take a while as I've spent two weeks editing chapter 27, which I eventually split into two as at 7,300 words it was getting a bit long. I've now gone back to the chapter one, where I have found myself having to introduce some of the things, people, groups, concepts that crept into the novel as I went along, so chapter one is growing too. That may not be as much of a problem as I thought because I read last week that Baen generally want manuscripts to be 100,000 -130,000 words; DAW not less than 80,000; Luna 100,000 - 150,000 and Tor doesn't mention limits. The novel I am working on is currently 132,000 words.

I did my first critique for OWWW and one for I will continue critiquing one story a week for critters and two a month for OWWW for the next month or so to get my critiquing ratios up before I critique a novel on one while continuing doing stories on the other and then vise versa.

I read most days last week again. So I had a reasonably committed writing week last week.

I had a look at after reading a rather alarming article by Jason Steger in The Age. He called it the literary version of Youtube and said that it might speed up the process of people uploading copyrighted books onto the Web for others to download for free, sort of like napster. He pointed out that 3,300 people had illegally downloaded The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

I wasn't that impressed with the site, finding nothing of interest. Some people where using it in what seemed a vain attempt to market their books by having the first couple of chapters of their book for free to download and read. No one much seem to be taking up the offer. Does anyone ever do that? I've never read the first couple of chapters of a book online and then gone out and purchased it. I'm not the sort of person who stands in a bookshop and reads the first few pages of a book either. I decide on the author, blurb, word-of-mouth or book review.

The Scribd site managers say they will remove any copyrighted works from the site, when requested. It seems inevitable that what happened to music will happen to books, but probably not to such a great extent, as there are many like me who can't stand reading off a computer screen, and who much prefer the aesthetics of book over a bundle of stapled A4 pages. And besides,
I would never download an illegally uploaded novel as I have to much admiration/empathy for an author to steal royalties from them.