Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pleased with Hal

I got an email from my publisher today, telling me they're very pleased with the sales of Hal Spacejock. Hopefully the sales are about to get even better, because the Abbeys/Galaxy Xmas catalogue has my book on page 12.
On the down side, Hal Spacejock Second Course now has something to live up to. Trust me to find a cloud enveloping every silver lining ;-)

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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Nanowrimo Winner

I worked steadily for 23 days, writing 1700 words or so per day until I reached 41500 words. Then I came up with the mad plan to write 7500 words in a single day. It worked - and because I only had 900 to go by 10pm I knocked them off as well. Hasta la vista, Nano.

I should point out that I write fiction via an internal editor. I don't splash down grammatically incorrect repetitious nonsense and hope to clean it up later: I write as if my draft were to be published as-is.

On the other hand, my major plot ideas come after I've written the bulk of the book. I like to write in scenes, and I like to string together scenes for each viewpoint character. What I mean is, I'll keep writing about one character and just fling in notes about what the other characters are doing in the meantime. When I run out of inspiration I just write one of the other characters' streams. What happens is that one stream will influence another, and then I have fresh ideas to carry those along.

Tying them up at the end is the fun part.

For example, Hal 4 features three or four subplots and I had no idea where there were all going or how they were linked. I was happy to just mine each one, writing along with the knowledge that weaving the threads could come later. Now, after several days of reflection, I've come up with what I think is a killer plot which neatly joins the bits together. The trick now is to re-read and edit the threads so that each has clues & references to the others and to the overall plot. You can't know all this stuff before you begin writing, believe me, and I think many first-time authors fall at this hurdle. Staring at a blank page and hoping to come up with a knock-out plot isn't the way to do it.

When you read a book there's no knowing which bits the author thought of up front, and which were cunningly inserted in a later draft. A novice writer might read a novel and wonder how the author come up with all these twists and turns. Well, they probably didn't. They just wrote and wrote until they had a messy first draft, then kept only the bits which followed the plot they ended up with, and wrote other bits to bridge the gaps.

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

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Fandomedia Thanks

I just wanted to say a public thanks to Ju for inviting me to Fandomedia. Perth fans are a great bunch of people, and the program was well thought out. Plenty of time for chat, eating and drinking, and the Emerald hotel is very con-friendly.
I had a ball on several panels including interview with an Alien: Chuck McKenzie and his reproductive hands and Erika as the team leader for Perth Inter-Species Specialists (We're real artists) Other highlights included the Goodies panel, the Sunday morning coffee panel featuring Kaneda the barista and much detail on why a lot of cafe coffee sucks, and chatting to a number of writers throughout.
I've been attending cons for over five years now, but this was the first one where my wife and I managed to schedule things with the kids so she could attend. I'm sure it was nothing like she expected: Many people think cons are just a bunch of weirdos dressed in Trekkie uniforms. She didn't have THAT perception (because I've told her about cons in the past), but I don't think I'd managed to convey the friendliness of the all-embracing fan community. Well, now she knows.
Fandomedia 2005 is done. Look out for Fandomedia 2006!

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Go Socceroos!

Aussie Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy!
Yeehah ... Australia just qualified for the soccer World Cup!
You're not going to believe the coverage it's going to get in this country. From now until the tournament in Germany next year it's going to be soccer soccer soccer. For too long the world game has been a second cousin to rugby and AFL here, but this is going to boost it unbelievably.
My local archery club was absolutely swamped when Australia won a gold medal in 2000, as parents herded their budding Robin Hoods in for their chance at fame and fortune. Now everywhere you go you'll see kids in green and gold booting soccer balls around.

Update: It seems SBS captured 36% of the Australian TV-watching audience last night, and the peak viewing audience matched those for the opening and closing ceremonies at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. For decades SBS has been plugging away with soccer while the other channels (ie. the ones most people watch) completely ignored it. All I can say is HAH!
Aussie newspapers are reporting a 40% spike in visits to their sites as people get to work and catch up on the aftermath of the game, and on the Age website I notice that eight of the top ten most viewed articles are soccer-related - the first seven plus the ninth. (The other two are probably stories on how soccer balls are made.)
Sydney is planning a ticker-tape parade - perhaps as early as tomorrow (most of the Socceroos play for european clubs, and will need to get back 'home' for their weekend games.)
Australia is a sport-mad country, there's no doubt about it.

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

Promo CD

Hal Spacejock is appearing on the Fantastic Queensland Speculative Fiction Library promo CD. If you follow the link you'll find a web-based version of the disk, which features 14 Aussie SF/Fantasy authors with extracts from their latest books plus a bonus article or short story from each one. I submitted the first chapter of Hal Spacejock along with a humorous fantasy story originally published in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Launch of Australian Specfic in focus (ASif!)

Check out ASif! (Australian Specfic in focus!) – launched today with over 50 reviews by 22 reviewers of Australian speculative fiction and comics. The site aims to double review every Australian publication, author and artist of specfic. A big task, but someone’s gotta do it.

The aim is to have all the low-down you need to find out what you want to read and where you need to go to buy it. And for the next month, there are freebie prizes, including a copy of the forthcoming Shadow Box CD, for spiffy answers to the online treasurehunt! What are you waiting for? Visit ASif! now!

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sunday Times mention

A couple of weeks ago Hal Spacejock got a mention in a comedy piece on literary awards (Miles Franklin crossed with the Brownlow count. You have to be an Aussie for this one.) Personally I wouldn't have typed the whole article in just to share it (copywrite plus waste of time.) However, it's posted on Tara Moss's news page so click the link and have a giggle.

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

Monday, November 07, 2005

Nano progress

My goal is 1700 words of fiction per day, for a total of 52700 words by November 30. So far, so good: I'm six words ahead of schedule.
That means I've written 10,206 new words of Hal Spacejock 4 in six days, and when you factor in a day job, my part-time software business and family life it's not bad going.
Occasionally I wonder why I'm putting myself through the extra pressure, particularly when I could be editing Hal Spacejock 3 - unlike #4, that one's under contract. The answer is that the first three Hal books are coming out at six month intervals, and if my publisher decides to extend the series I need to write them now. To meet that six month deadline, each book has to be finished before the previous one is released. Hal 3 will be ready by March '06 for a release date of Sept '06. Hal 4, if there's going to be one, would have to be written and edited by Sept '06. Hal 5 by March '07.
Bear in mind I've had no word from my publisher on any of this - they've only just brought out book one, and for all I know they might be wishing they hadn't! But I have to plan ahead, and one Hal book every six months means there's no let-up.

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

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

NanoWrimo begins

Every year thousands of dedicated writers set out to write a complete novel in a month. November is that month, and it started at one minute past midnight on the first (today, as I write this.)
I've signed up this year, hoping to knock off half of Hal Spacejock 4 by the 30th. (A complete Hal Spacejock novel is around 90,000 words.)
Why did I sign up when I already know I can write a whole novel? In a nutshell, I work best with a deadline and I enjoy a challenge.
The Nano deadline suits me because it's much easier to skip unimportant stuff when you have to write 1,700 words each and every day. There's also the reward aspect, where you won't allow yourself another coffee until you reach 500, 1000, 1500 words, or you're not allowed any TV or DVDs or casual web browsing unless you've done your quota for the day. That works quite well.
The challenge is a major one - Assuming you get 250 words on a double-spaced manuscript page with industry standard margins (ie. huge), 1700 words is almost 8 pages. And that's not dictation or copying from a book - it's all fresh fiction from your brain. Every day.
I'm off to the dentist in about 1/2 hour, but when I get back it's writing time. My goal is to start off with 3000 words.
By the way, you might like to check out my NanoWrimo Progress Forms

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