Wednesday, February 09, 2005


I watched a couple of films tonight, unable to stare at the computer screen thanks to a combination of eyestrain and headache. First up was Men in Black II, and although I barely remember the original I'm sure it was a lot better than this. I'm into humourous SF, not silly SF.

The second film was The Quiet American with Michael Caine. I thought Caine was very good in this, very believable, but overall I was disappointed. I don't know whether it was the intention, but twists were telegraphed well in advance, which left me waiting for something unexpected to happen. It never did. Since they revealed the ending right at the start, I suppose that was inevitable.

I managed to strip a few more scenes from my second novel earlier today. Like renovating, first you tear out the bits you don't like and then you build something better. Or you totally cock it up and leave uneven walls, rampant sawdust and lumps of plaster glued to the carpets.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Excellent book on contracts

Title: How to be your own Literary Agent
Author: Richard Curtis.

I've read a few books on the business aspects of publishing lately, and this one really stands out. The author is an experienced agent sharing his knowledge with a gentle humour. Ok, sometimes not so gentle.

I read the book cover to cover in one sitting, skimming only the sections on collaborative writing and book packagers, and not only did I learn a lot I also laughed out loud at several observations.

The book includes a sample publishing contract and several author-friendly clauses which can be substituted for the more usual publisher-friendly versions.

I saw comments on Amazon declaring the book a gloomy, depressing view of the publishing world but in my opinion the publishing world IS depressing and gloomy when you're trying to get into it. So many manuscripts, so many dead ends and rejections... little wonder many eventually give up in despair.

I'm not suggesting you rush out and buy this book, but if a publisher or agent nibbles at your query letter you'll know where to find some impartial help.

I've listed this title in the Recommended Books section of my website and I will certainly be reading it again.

WIP: I've come up with a plot change for Hal 2 which will fix a series of wishy-washy events, turning them into something with more bite. I've also worked out a couple of structural changes near the beginning which will tighten things up nicely, allowing me to remove several redundant scenes later in the book.
Today's music: Paperback Writer - the Beatles. (Can't get the damn tune out of my head.)
Mood: Sleep deprived. The kids are back at school, and 1am to 7am isn't enough sleep.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, February 07, 2005

First Post

I don't know how successful this is going to be - in terms of my adding content, that is. I write novels, I write and maintain computer software and I run a customer support forum and update a pair of web sites daily, so I don't know how much time I'll have left over to write random thoughts into a blog.

But this blog is about my writing, so I'm going to give it a shot and see what happens.

Yesterday I discovered something like 100 unfinished short stories in my work-in-progress folder. I went through a write-and-submit patch in 2001 and then turned to writing novels, leaving this glob of unpublished work in a forgotten folder. None of it is publishable, and I suppose a it's better to think of it as practice material than wasted effort. Going back to read some of these pieces, I can also see why I didn't finish writing them in the first place ...

Mood: Pensive.
WIP: Editing my second Hal Spacejock novel. Re-plotting.
Music: INXS Shabooh Shabaah. I used to listen to this driving to and from uni back in the 80's . The tracks evoke the rattle of the Renault 12 I was driving back then. Not a lot of power in that car, but one hell of a heater.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)