Friday, October 29, 2010

Stop to smell the roses

Hi all,

It's one of those rare occasions that I have the house to myself. On these occasions, I usually take a holiday from my disciplined program of exercise, knowledge gathering and writing activities. I usually watch a few videos, listen to some music, have a few drinks, think about life and writing, and watch the world go by.

I have looked through my DVD collection and watched The Heretic and Razorback among other films. After watching The Heretic, I am wondering if it should be included as a science fiction film, because its premise has Linda Blair's character and a priest being telepathically connected with a electronic instrument.

Razorback depicts a lot of redneck Aussies and I wonder if that is why it was so derided. It did go on about Kangaroos becoming hunted to extinction from overhunting. Which was always bullshit.

I have thought up a personal article to write for divine. An article about my fascination with fire, which ended when youthful misadventure resulted in me being on fire. Years later I worked for the forestry commission and fought a couple of bush fires.

I have been wondering about my neighbours. Particularly those who keep dogs. On my left are neighbours who have gone through four dogs in about four years. I complained to them about a very loud barking German Shepherd. It disappeared a few weeks later. They then got a Labrador, which didn't bark much, so much so that we don't know when it disappeared. They recently got another a Jack Russell that barks during the day, but not much at night. Then just recently we could hear whimpering from their garage, they had another dog.

I was shocked to see them walking both dogs a few days ago. I have never seen then do it before. Meanwhile, I heard whimpering from the left side house. A house vacant for a few months because both owners died. I stuck my head over the fence. A big brown shaggy coated dog that looked like the neighbour's of two houses down was there. I looked out the front of their house, a pest controller vehicle was there. So they must have temporary locked the dog in the dead neighbour's back yard so it would not get poisoned. The dog disappeared at the same time as the pest control vehicle.

Today, two days later, more whimpering. That dog is back in the dead neighbour's yard. I am assuming it is because the owners plan to hold a jazz festival party in their backyard. They once kept us up all night with one. But it has been raining all day, so good luck to them.
So will they remove it, or not care if its whimpering turns to barking and keeps me up. Why are so many dog owners such arseholes?


Sunday, October 24, 2010

My writing week 3 (42)

Hi all,

I had a very busy writing week last week. On Monday I sent in a pitch for three articles to Divine magazine. One of them was a review of this weekend's Wangaratta Jazz Festival. The editor suggested rather than a review, that I write more of a news item alerting people to the coming festival. I agreed to do it, which meant that instead of a three week deadline, it would need to be submitted by today.

I read through the Jazz festival website and then rang the publicist of the event to ask a few questions, she asked me to email them to her. To my surprise she replied very quickly. She even sent a couple of requested photos to use for free. I also rang a few motels to check out their accommodation situation for people with disabilities: they were booked out up to two years in advance.

I had already done some preliminary research at the tourist info board, before I sent in the pitch, so I was then right to write it. It took a couple of hours to write and then I edited it once every day, until Sunday when I emailed it in.

On Wednesday, the editor sent me a revised copy of an article I had written called Live Long and Prosper. The editor had suggested a personal article which told readers something about the magazines writers. I had written an article connecting two things that are important to me: science fiction and global warming. He had made only a few changes to the article I had submitted, mostly to suit the site's writing style. The article went up on Thursday.

So I have had three articles appear, with another one hopefully up this week. The editor was also happy with the two other ideas I pitched to him.

Divine work kept me away from progressing very far with the novella I am writing. Perhaps this week.

I forgot to mention I read issue 47 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine a couple of weeks ago. The first issue I had read since issue five. If issue 47 is any guide, the magazine has improved, more science fiction, less high fantasy. The standout story was The Ship's Doctor by Charlotte Nash, her first sale. Closely followed by Acid, written by Debi Carroll. The format of the magazine was cleaner and there were no attempts at humorous fillers about ASIM. Patty Jansen, the editor for this edition, did a good job.


Aussiecon 4 - The market sessions

Hi all,
I have finally gotten around to writing a post about three marketing sessions I attended at Aussiecon4. My first attempt got lost on a click on my mouse and since then I have been busy. Well, busy for me.
The three sessions I attended were enlightening. They emphasised how hard it is to get published, but after you’ve been researching publishing for a while and joined a few writing groups you already know it’s darn near impossible, so what more can be said to put me off. What’s that, I have to sell your soul? Sorry I’m an atheist.
Anyway, by the time I get my novels ready to be published, ebooks will have drastically changed the publishing industry. So much so, that many of the people who spoke at these sessions will be working in other industries.
What we Publish.
This session featured editors from the three big US science fiction publishers. Patrick Neilsen Hayden from Tor, Ginjer Buchanan from Ace, and Toni Weisskopf from Baen. Alex Adsett, a publishing consultant, was the fourth member of the panel. Tor works with Pan Macmillan in Australia.
There was some playful (?) tension between Patrick and Ginjer during the session.
They started by talking about book formats in the US. Trade paperbacks are only sold to bookselling specialists in the US. Supermarkets only sell mass market paperbacks.
Baen is increasingly using the tradepaperback as the original book for an author. But they also use ebooks, hardcovers and mass market. Ace doesn’t do original ebooks.
For the customer who can’t wait for the release of the next book from an author, Baen has started to sell ebook review copies at a premium price.
Ace and Tor said that military science fiction is a big sub-genre at the moment, especially around father’s day.
They said the third novel from an author can prove to be the hardest to get published. If their first novel doesn’t set the world on fire, which the vast majority don’t, a publisher who believes in an author may still take a chance on a second novel, but if that doesn’t sell, then it is very unlikely that an author will get a third chance.
Ace said it was very hard for an Australian to get an agent in the US. Agents want to be able to meet with their clients, and send them on book tours etc.
Be warned, Baen said that if you are unagented and get accepted by a publisher, and then go out and get an agent who attempts negotiate the contract, they won’t be very happy.
Fantasy outsells science fiction 2:1 in the US. I would have expected fantasy to outsell science fiction by a lot more. I think it would in Australia.
I heard about the book depository for the first time. Alex said it is the new Amazon because its books and delivery charges are much cheaper. From what I have been reading on sites like Goodreads, it certainly seems to be taking off in Australia. Does Amazon care enough about the small Australian market to even fight back?
I left the session thinking that US science fiction editors did appear human.
To Market: How to sell your Short Stories.
The legendary science fiction author and editor Robert Silverberg created a bit of tension with Canadian novelist Cory Doctorow on this panel. Chirpy novelist David D Levine, Australian novelist Angela Slater and Leslie (did not catch her surname and it was not listed on the program) were also present.
The panels started by telling us how they first got their short stories published.
Robert Silverberg said that a famous writer moved in next door who turned out to be Harlan Ellison. He introduced him to the editors of his magazine and said Silverberg was a great writer. Silverberg sold two stories and they all lived happily ever after. He said he made himself useful. If they needed 75,000 words by Tuesday he did it.
Cory Doctorow started sending off stories when he 16, he sent them to fanzines and didn’t get paid anything for them. He then sold a couple of short stories to minor magazines. He went to Clarion (a reoccurring theme) and conventions. He said he didn’t think it made his writing any better, but personal contacts helped. He worked as a columnist for a magazine who published his first professional story after seven years as a columnist. He kept on pressing for them to publish his stories and was turned down time and time again before they finally said yes.
David D Levine broke into the industry in 2001. He became a technical writer straight out of college. He didn’t write fiction because it was too much like work. Fourteen years later he decided he wanted to so, he went to Clarion. He sold some stories and entered competitions like Writers of the Future, which he thought was excellent publicity.
Angela Slater had a really supportive supervisor while she was studying for a masters in writing. She stressed you should be polite to everyone, because you never know who you’re going to be working with. She was approached by Tantalus to republish some of her stories as a collection.
Leslie met her collaborator on eBay, Mike Preswick? She bought one of his books, and said she hadn’t read any of his short stories. He said we can’t have that and sent her some of his stories. She critiqued them and sent them back to him. She said maybe she could do that herself and they collaborated, and they sold that story. Then she wrote a couple of her own and sold those to Asimov and Analog. Now all of her stories are pre-sold. She’s a Campbell nominee. She’s only been writing for two years. Her first story was written in October 2008 and published in November.
David said personal contacts are not necessary. But he had only been getting rejection letters from Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine and then he met the editor, who recognized his name from those submissions and had been watching his work get better, and was just waiting for one of his stories to be good enough to buy. He had actually been rooting for him.
David asked whether an online presence was important for the other writers.
Angela said her agent told her to set up a blog and a website, because people were looking for her.
Leslie said she didn’t have much of an online presence, no website, but she had written a couple of articles, one recently about being a writer for the past year.
David has had a blog since before there was a word for it. He has a Livejournal blog, and says there are a lot of writers who talk about the craft on Livejournal.
Cory Doctorow has a big online presence from Boing Boing.
Robert is not on Facebook or Twitter. He has a website that is maintained for him.
Robert then asked if they though it was possible to make a living selling short stories.
Cory said no because they still only pay 3-4 cents a word. Sometimes there are cases where he is offered $4 a word, but a lot of those were solicitations, and in order to keep getting those, he would have to keep up with the ones he had been offered. Even if he could keep up, he couldn’t live off that.
Angela said that even if you submit a short story to an anthology, the best you’re going to get is $50 and a copy of the anthology.
David said for unsolicited stories, check out
What I got from this session is that once your writing reaches an acceptable level, it is who you know that is going to get your short story published, but don’t expect to make any money out of it.
The Future of Short Fiction
A small panel for this session as two members failed to turn up. Cory Doctorow did though. By now he might have been thinking he had a stalker because I had seen him in four sessions. His enthusiastic performance over those panels had me buying one his books, he had even gone to the trouble of signing all of the books in the dealer’s room. I saw him scrambling under a table to find boxes of them to sign. The other panellist, was Australian short story writer and fiction editor of Borderlands magazine, Stephen Dedman. He muttered something about having a hangover, I think.
Cory felt that the short story format was ideal for the web. People did not have the discipline to read long novels on computers as they were constantly multitasking from one application to another.
Stephen thought the web would be the salvation of the short story. It would allow a short story to be the length it needed to be, not restricted by submission guidelines in paper magazines. I have often thought that the novella may become a more accepted form as an ebook.
Cory hoped that publishers would try to make the physical edition of anthologies/novels more beautiful, so people would want to own it, rather then downloading an electronic file.
Cory said no one has ever made money from selling short stories, and the future will be no different.
Cory said podcasting of stories is one growing market. He recommends escape pod, a website that passes the hat around to get money. It has 20,000 listeners and buys reprints.
They agreed with an audience member that short story writing is all about making a name for an author, not about making money.
Cory thought was a good idea, where you can create your own anthology for $14.95 from a selection of stories and get it sent to you.
Cory has monetised typos on an ebook collection, you point out typos, he will fix it, and include a note in ebook referring to you.
This session was on Monday afternoon, so I think the panellists and audience were a bit Aussieconed out by this stage.
But I have not finished yet. I still have posts to make on: the future of publishing; the future in general; and editing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My writing week 3 (41)

Hi all

I have been busy writing and doing paperwork type things for DiVine online magazine. I read their writer's guide, and you will hopefully see some of their advice on writing online in this blog with more shorter sentences and less thirty-three word sentences like this one. They reckon the ideal length is about ten words. I probably was told this in the Interactive Writing subject in my Master of Creative Writing, but then again I might not have been.

After reading the writer's guide I rewrote the last article I had written and emailed it to them. It's a personal article, telling people something about my interests. I choose to talk about the possible connection between solving global warming and science fiction. I included headings. (Not sure about putting them in a blog.) The article has yet to be accepted. From now on we have to query the editor before we write a story.

I sent my first invoice in for two stories that are already up on the site. In two weeks I should receive payment and then I will be running around yelling: look at me, I am a paid writer.

I also got a photo back that will be used on the DiVine site. It made me look human so I have decided to place it on my blog and other pages. The professional photographer actually got me to smile. The previous photo on this blog was from about ten years ago. As you may have noticed, I have attempted to cultivate a beard since then.

Last week I also did some research into another article and found myself frequently writing down ideas and adding to others.

Other than DiVine I spent some time catching up on my newspaper reading. I am not sure if they sacked the proofreader at The Age, but I kept on spotting typos. In one article they had the Federal Government spending $60 BILLION on pumping carbon dioxide into the ground. I think that should have been $60 million. I saw three other typos in that edition and the one I read today had two typos in one article, witting instead of willing, twice.

So with DiVine and my newspaper reading, I had little writing time for my novella. I did a bit. One good session and I will have the draft finished.

I also did not get around to my Aussiecon post on the Marketing sessions. But have faith, it will appear soon.

3G Problems with Kindle

(There you are, I got a heading in.) I intend to buy a Kindle with some of my writing money. But I read recently about a person having 3G connection problems and telstra couldn't give a stuff. It left me wondering if 3G downloads will work in Wangaratta. If you have a Kindle, have you had these problems?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

My writing week 3 (40)

Hi all,

I really enjoyed the Divine magazine introduction/training day on Friday. I went down to Melbourne on Thursday night and stayed in the same hotel in which the training day was being held. There were twelve other writers, some with obvious disabilities, others it was hard to tell, and like me, they weren't shouting about it. I spoke to about half of the group during the day - I'm not great at small talk, so I am not one to cruise a room.

Two of the writers from last year's inaugural intake came along to tell us about their experiences. One named Graeme writes science fiction too.

I learnt that we would be paid for any of the articles we sent in with our applications that were put on the magazine's website. Two of mine were: one on how ebooks will make reading easier for people with a disability and the other on looking after my father who had dementia. It feels like found money so I will spend some of it on a present for myself, perhaps I will finally go over to the darkside and buy a Kindle. We are also told that we could submit more than one article a month.

There is a second training day this week on Tuesday for about ten other writers.

Along with a 60 page Writer's Guide, we got some snazzy looking business cards, complete with braille notations and a free memory stick. I also got free accommodation for the night before and after. I know two of the other writers came from regional areas, Traralgon (not far from Heyfield and Newry in East Gippsland where I lived as a child) and the other from Geelong.

When I arrived in Melbourne on Thursday I noticed a lot of police on the streets (must be a state election coming up), but on Saturday morning they were all gone and there were a few beggars about. Not that I think police should be running around hassling those who are desperate.

On Wednesday I attempted to write a blog post on three marketing panels I saw at Aussiecon, but accidentally deleted the 1000 words or so I had written and then a thunderstorm came along, so I packed up for the day. The rewritten post should be up on Thursday this week.

I watched the first two episodes of Caprica and it looks like it could become a science fiction classic. It centres around the creator
(played by Eric Stoltz) of the cylons that destroyed most of humanity in Battlestar Galactica.

This week will be bit of a catch up week and one of preparing myself for writing at Divine by doing such things as reading the Writer's Guide. I also hope to make a bit more time to write the novella I am still working on.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

My writing week 3 (39)

Hi all,

Just got the signed contract from Divine in the mail. It came with a form to fill in if I wanted to be excused from getting an ABN number. Wasn't sure if I should have one or not so I contacted the tax office, who wouldn't give me a definitive answer, instead directing me to an article on the tax office website. Read the article and then asked my sister who works for the tax office, and I have decided, my main reason for writing for Divine is for recreational purposes and not as a business venture, so I won't have to get an ABN.

I am currently critiquing a spec fiction novel and have to get a move on, don't want it taking four months like the last one. Fortunately this one is half the size. Its first two chapters have me intrigued, the initial setup reminds me of the recent series The Prisoner, not in story, but both have someone in a bizarre location trying to figure out where they are and how they got there.

I don't have any additional reading to do for my remaining Aussiecon posts, unlike for the last one on climate change, so I hope to write the rest of them this and next week. I reckon I have four more to go, covering eleven panels.

For those who missed it, Caprica, a prequel to Battlestar Galactica started on 7mate last Thursday at 9.30. I messed up recording it, so I need to catch it on sevenyahoo. Caprica is set 58 years before the original.

I didn't do a lot of writing last week, and this week will probably not be much better as I have relatives visiting at the moment and I go down to Melbourne for a couple of nights to attend a training day at Divine later this week. Looking forward to it.

So far I have not run into any gloating Collingwood fans. The bloke at the corner store missed his opportunity this morning. The replay didn't really feel like a grand-final to me so I don't think it should count.