Thursday, March 24, 2005


I have this thing with my lower back - a couple of vertebrae with bone spurs or something (looks like dracula fangs on the Xray) I found out about 3 or 4 years ago. It's nothing major, just one of those things you live with. I just have to pick things up properly (bend knees, keep back straight) and twisting with heavy weights is out.

Despite precautions, from time to time I'll do the wrong thing and endure a week or more of discomfort. Twice now I've really done it, causing all sorts of grief as I'm confined to bed for 5-7 days, totally unable to walk. Right now is one of those times.

So, I'm typing this through a haze of anti-inflammatories & heavy-duty painkillers. Lucky for me I picked up a new laptop barely 6 weeks ago. It's an el-cheapo machine, light on the features, but it has that essential component built in - a DVD player. Say no more.

On the books front, I've agreed to the draft contract and the publisher is sending me a witnessed contract to sign. This contract covers my first three novels, and while there are clauses I'd liked to have altered, I've decided to take a longer term view. After all, I didn't get into this game expecting overnight success - I typed the first words of book one over ten years ago now. These aren't the last novels I'm going to write, and I've always joked about writing 15 in the Hal Spacejock series for a start. (That's one way to get a bookstore shelf to yourself - cf. Pratchett)

You read about authors who get sick of their major characters and kill them off rather than being forced to write more books with them in. (e.g. Doyle with Sherlock Holmes) Why is this? Some want to use their fame and fortune to do something experimental or arty. Some run out of ideas. Some of them resent their popular and famous characters, who become better known than the author themselves. To wannabe writers who would sell their soul to get one book into print, let alone a never-ending series, this seems precious, selfish and dumb. Maybe when Hal 14 rolls around I'll feel different, but if people want more in the series I will feed off that demand and motivate myself to deliver. And I'd be more than happy for Hal and Clunk to be the famous ones while I pull their strings from the shadows.

I recently created PAD files for all my software programs - these are like the CIP information you find in the front of books, a sort of electronic catalogue entry. The beauty with PAD files is that you stick them in a folder on your web site and then tell the central repository where to find them. Over time, freeware and shareware sites pick up the files and list your programs in their download sections. And here's the best bit: when you change the PAD with a new version of the software, all those sites pick up the new details and update their records. I have 11 programs listed now at, and there's usually a new version of one of them every week. I double-click a batch file and records all over the planet are updated within 24 hours... science fiction indeed. Yesterday 2 sites listed updates and I immediately got 1300+ unique visitors.

Google is obviously the dominant search engine, and it can be an ego boost to go searching for your own programs to compare the rank with others. For example, my new MP3 player sofware (yPlay) leapt to the top of all searches in about 24 hours. Terms like "Freeware MP3 player" and "Freeware Ogg Player" took longer, but searching Google Australia for those terms brings my site up first. I don't understand how it works, but I guess Spacejock has a fairly good Google ranking for something so generic to go to #1 so quickly. Then again, with the transient nature of the web they could be on page 65 two months from now.

If the Spacejock novels take off it will be interesting to see how quickly the word 'Spacejock' becomes associated with my books instead of my software. Right now it's about ten thousand to one in favour of the software, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye on it.

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


David Forbes said...

Thanks for pointing out the typo. I said I was a terrible proofreader!

I can definitely relate to your back pain. I blew out the L5/S1 disc in my back about six years ago (it's the lowest disc in the spine) and had to have surgery to remove the blown-out debris, which was crushing my sciatic nerve in my left leg. I have some permanent numbness in my left foot, and 70% of the disc is gone. I'm actually about half-an-inch shorter than I used to be because of this. Anyway, let's just say I can definitely sympathize with others who have back pain. Take it easy, don't overdo it, and get healthy soon.

Simon Haynes said...

Thanks for your comments - and sorry to hear about the disc. Funny you should mention it, but I have numbness in my left foot too. Guess the same nerve is getting damaged.

Stoney said...

Hi Simon

I used to read a LOT of sci-fi but drifted away from it over the years. I especially liked some of Piers Anthony 's books, mainly his "Incarnations of Immortality" series, though that's not really sci-fi. One of the things I most enjoyed was his discussions about the writing process and his interaction
with his publishers. I hope you keep putting that type of stuff in your bloggs. It gives us laymen some idea
of what authors go through to get their work published.

Stoney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Haynes said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm more than happy to post my experience of author/publisher interaction, and will make sure I include more of that kind of material in the future. I put the signed contract back in the mail today, so it's all set to go now ...