Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

Prompted by a post over on JA Konrath's blog.

I will submit a story to F&SF
I will complete the first draft of Hal Spacejock 4

As ol' JA says, don't set goals where others determine the outcome. Good advice.

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

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I signed up with LibraryThing recently, after seeing it mentioned around the place. If you don't know what LT is, it's a site where you can catalog(ue) your books. Free accounts are limited to 200 books, or you can get an annual or lifetime account with unlimited entries.

Most popular titles already have an entry, and the site also offers a bulk ISBN import feature which gathers data from up to three different sources.

Unfortunately, of the 3000 or so books in my house I'd only catalogued about 1300 in my own BookDB software, and of those I'd only bothered to enter ISBNs for about 300. So, it's search-add-search-add for me.

The quickest way I've found is to gather all the books I have by a given author (thank goodness my collection is alphabetical!) and then I search for that author in LT under 'Search works' on this page (NOT 'Search authors' or you just get the author name...) When the list of works comes up you can sort by title and ctrl+click all the ones you have to open their pages in new windows, where you can then click Add to library.

The people running the site are open to suggestions - in fact, they've already made one change I requested and I've only been there a few days. They'll go far with that attitude - or else they'll get purchased by your local mega media conglomerate.

Signup is really quick and easy, with no personal details required, and the site is certainly worth a look if you've ever considered making a list of your books. It's fascinating to see how many other people have copies of the books you own, and you can also leave reviews and scores out of five for any title.

As for backing up, LT offers a CSV export, and naturally I'll be adding an importer to BookDB which will read their file format.

Final thing: If you have Hal Spacejock 1, 2 or 3 you can add them to your LT from their pages below:

Hal Spacejock LT page
Hal Spacejock Second Course LT page
Hal Spacejock Just Desserts LT page

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

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Draw Results

Every few weeks I draw a batch of names from a digital hat and send those lucky folk a signed copy of my novel. (If you're not in the draw you can enter here)

This particular draw is for a copy of Hal Spacejock with the funky new Dion Hamill cover.

Every person in the draw has received (or will receive) a unique number via email, and if your number appears below you've won a copy! Just reply to the notification email with your mailing address and you'll receive a signed copy of Hal Spacejock.

The winning numbers for draw 1221:


If you missed out, relax! There's a second chance! All you have to do is post a comment below, and in a few days time I'll pick a name at random and they'll also win a copy of Hal. (The second chance draw is one extra book for each of my Blogger, LJ and Myspace blogs. Keen Spacejock fans will no doubt seek out and comment on all three ...)

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

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Upcoming draw

I'm going to draw three or four copies of Hal Spacejock in a couple of days time - this is just an advance warning in case you want to publicise the drawing amongst other fans of science fiction. Friends, family, worst enemies ... send them all here:

(Remember, if THEY win a copy you can always borrow it .. then forget to hand it back.)

In a new twist, these copies will be from the second printing of Hal Spacejock book 1, with the NEW Dion Hamill cover.

And rest assured I'll be drawing copies of Hal 3 as soon as I get my hands on some ...

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

Monday, December 11, 2006

Toast part 2

I'm sure you've heard of the Madonna toast and the Elvis toast, but this morning I ended up with Happy toast:

(The mouth is natural but I confess to adding the jam.)

Anyway, my kids thought it was neat, and is there anything greater in life than hearing your own kids laugh? (They're not at the eyeroll age yet.)

Now, I'm a practical sort, and rather than listing this @rare@ and exclusive item on eBay or preserving it in a temperature controlled cabinet for future generations, I decided to put it to good use.

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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yoyogod meets Hal Spacejock ...

... and Hal wins ;-)

Read the review here

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Post for nature lovers

A few snaps from around my garden, taken just five minutes ago with a Fuji Finepix S9500 and severely downsized from the original 3488 x 2616 pixels

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ticonderoga Interview

Russell Farr interviewed me recently for Ticonderoga Online, an Aussie mag which describes itself as "a ticonderogapalooza of gonzo and quality sf in the tradition of Bester, Waldrop and Womack. Fiction, non-fiction, reviews and interviews. Australia's best sf for free!"

If you'd like to read the interview, or indeed, the rest of the issue, or even JUST the rest of the issue, you can do so right here

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

Hal Spacejock update

Amazon has finally added an order button to their listing for Hal Spacejock (book one in the series).

They don't have copies in stock yet, but at least it's the right price AND sold & shipped by instead of the 3rd party merchants who were charging double the sticker price or more. (And wouldn't Hal be proud of that little dodge?)

Book two has been listed on Amazon for a while here. Book three is still pre-release, and not available to order yet.

By the way, I'm not trying to get anyone to order the books, but I keep fielding questions from US and Canadian residents asking when they can get hold of them. So, consider this a heads-up ;-)


Well, I bet you saw this coming. The minute I declare Hal 3 isn't available for pre-order, Amazon adds a pre-order button to their Hal 3 listing. They're obviously spying on my blogs.

"When can I order Hal 3?" is the OTHER question people keep asking me. Click here and you can do so right now ;-)

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

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Daylight Saving in Western Australia

If you live in WA this Microsoft patch for Windows XP, 2003 and Vista will automatically adjust your PC's clock for Daylight Savings over the next three years.

Better than setting them all by hand ...

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

Monday, November 27, 2006

Nano progress III

Done it, and it all but done me:

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

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Draw Results

Every few weeks I draw a couple of names from a digital hat and send those lucky folk a signed copy of my novel. (If you're not in the draw - why not? - you can enter here)

Every person in the draw gets a lucky number, and for this draw I've changed things around and put the winning numbers in this blog post.

Before I get to the winners I'd just like to mention that it's only five weeks until the launch of Hal Spacejock Just Desserts, which will be hitting bookstores across Australia and New Zealand right after Christmas.

I do have ONE copy of the book in my possession, and you can see pretty pictures of that rare beast right here. Unfortunately that's a pre-release advance copy, and I can't let it go.

By the way, if you're looking to score a copy of Hal 3 via more conventional means, I'd drop hints about book vouchers when the subject of xmas presents comes up.

In other news, I'm currently the guest author on the ASif forums, and you're more than welcome to drop by and ask questions.

I'm also up to my neck in NanoWrimo, and am 40,000 words or more into Hal 4.

Okay, enough spam and onto the lucky winning numbers. If your number appears below, just reply to the email you received and include your postal address. You'll receive a signed copy of Hal 1 or 2 (mention which you want) and a set of six Hal Spacejock bookmarks:

The winning numbers for draw 1126:


If you missed out, relax! There will be other draws in future. If I get my author copies of Hal 3 before Xmas I'll be sure to give some of those away too, and that means you could be one of the very first to read the book.

If you know you're in the draw but haven't received your email, check your spam folder. Words like 'Free' and 'Winner' are red flags to most ISPs. If you're not sure, just enter again. My software filters duplicates anyway.

By the way, the Hal Spacejock Support Crew could score you a nice little collection of Spacejock swag in exchange for a blog post.

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

Nanowrimo interview

Sean Lindsay just posted an interview he did with me on the subject of NaNoWriMo. You'll find it here.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


There are several special moments in a writer's life: your first story sale, finishing a first draft, getting an agent or securing a publishing contract, handing in a final manuscript and many others.

One of them is receiving an advance copy of your novel in the mail.

Today I opened the door and found a small parcel on the mat. Inside I found not just an advance copy of Hal 3, but also the reprinted edition of Hal 1. Two new books! Bargain!

So, off to the scanner I went:

Hal 3 front and back

Hal 3 spine

Hal 3 reviews pages

Hal 3 dedication

Now, onto Hal Spacejock:

Hal 1 front and back

Hal 1 spine

Hal 1 reviews pages

Can I just say that Fremantle Arts Centre Press have done a stunning job? They're an amazing, dedicated bunch of people and I'd love the Hal Spacejock books to do really well just to reward them for taking a risk on me. They deserve no less than a worldwide bestselling series followed by a string of blockbuster movies.

Edit: I just checked the last few pages of Hal 1 and the publisher has inserted ads for Hal 2 and 3. The Hal 2 page starts with 'But wait, there's more ...' and Hal 3 says 'And that's not all ...' Lovely ;-)

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

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I shot this with my digital camera too:

And this one:

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

Red Bull Air Race pics

As promised ...

767 Flyover

Click here for a lot more.

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

Friday, November 17, 2006

See me on Google Earth

Well, my car anyway. The white sedan in the green circle (bottom right) is my car parked outside my old work place. I'm 95% certain the white vehicle in the red circle (top left) is my wife's station wagon turning into the road.

The image is 3 or 4 years old, and I found it when Google Earth first came out. Didn't really think anyone else would be interested, but hey, people are scrambling to look at huge KFC logo so who am I to judge?

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Nanowrimo day 16

Wrote 2150 words today for a progressive total of 28839. I'm 1639 ahead of target, but one missed day and I'll be back to level pegging.

The good news is that instead of having to write 1677 words per day for the rest of November I only need to do 1512. If I stick to my daily 1800-2000 I'll knock this thing off in 10-12 more days.

Very busy weekend coming up, so I might not be crowing by next Tuesday ...

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Guest author on the ASIF forum

Just a quick note to let everyone know I'm the guest author on the ASIF* forums over the next fortnight. Please make your way over to the following link to participate:

ASIF forum - Simon Haynes

The discussion will most likely include publicising your work without alienating readers, the care and feeding of literary agents, surviving the editing process with all limbs intact, why self publishing is a good idea - sometimes, the ups and downs of small press, invisible short fiction markets and a whole range of other topics, so feel free to jump in. The more people participate, the more useful the result will be.

I'm your typical internet junky and will therefore be visiting regularly. My goal is to leave no question unanswered - your goal should be to ask the questions ;-)

* ASIF is Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, a site which aims to review every piece of Aussie specfic - twice.

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nanowrimo motivation

This is my reward for hitting 20k words during Nanowrimo. (Okay, so it's actually my birthday present. I can still use it as motivation.)

Fuji Finepix S9500

This is my reward if I finish Nanowrimo:

Microsoft Flight Simulator X

You probably think they're the wrong way round, given the camera is worth ten times the Flight Sim, but I need the camera for the Red Bull air race this coming weekend. Organisers have laid out a grass strip on Langley Park (Perth, Western Australia), and this is the exact view I'll be enjoying:

That's a wide angle shot - it's even closer live.

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

Monday, November 13, 2006

Interviewed on Novel Journey

Novel Journey just posted an interview they did with me recently. I promised to stick around and defend some of my outrageous theories, so feel free to go post virtual raspberries.

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

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nanowrimo Progress - day 11

Yesterday (the 11th) was my birthday, but I still managed 2000 words for the day. The graphic above is one of the handy little Nano widgets, and it should keep updating without me having to do anything. Just as well, because I've written 1100 words today and it's nearly 3pm.

Still, that's just over 20,000 words in 12 days, and if I kept this up year-round I'd be able to bash out seven or eight first draft Hal novels a year.

A truly frightening thought.

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

Thursday, November 09, 2006

yWriter nominated for an award

yWriter has been nominated for the PricelessWare best free software award. Anyone with a Google login can vote here

If you've never heard of my yWriter software, see here for details.

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nano progress II

Reached 12,123 words tonight, with 1714 for the day. It's a bit of a struggle and some of the writing is a bit forced, but the occasional funny gag makes it worthwhile.

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

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Golden Hype award

I think Amazon should institute a new prize: The Golden Hype, awarded for "The highest number of positive reviews for a book which we still don't have in stock."

First place, Hal Spacejock with 7:

Second prize, Hal Spacejock Second Course with 3:

(Okay, so 3 reviews isn't really hype. Work with me on this one.)

They're not fake reviews, and I like the way some reviewers mention how they got their copies - ordered from Australia, sent over by a relative, picked up on a trip to Antartica ... in fact, every which way except via Amazon, who still don't have the books in stock.

Hal 3 comes out in January, and I'm betting it'll be available before the other two. If not, there's another Golden Hype award in the wings.

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

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Nanowrimo progress

It's been a rough start to the month, writing wise, but the whole point of NanoWrimo is that you churn out the daily words whether you feel like it or not.

For the past couple of weeks I've been building an ambitious shelving unit for DVDs, although that's just something I do in rare moments of spare time. (I design and build my own bookcases, each more elaborate than the last. I start with lengths of pine from the local timber supplier and and up with exactly what I want, most of the time. I've been doing this for years, and most of the accessible walls in our house are now covered with bookcases.)

Apart from tinkering with the DVD shelf I also squeeze in 42 minutes on the exercise bike every day. Why so exact? Because I built a laptop shelf for the bike, and 42 mins is the length of most TV shows once they hit DVD. Yes, that's 18 minutes less than watching them on TV, which is the subject of one of my very first blog posts. I can cycle 11km in 42 mins, which is plenty when you're doing it every day.

Anyway, enough of the ancilliary stuff and back to the writing. Last Thursday night I was up until 1:40am and had to get up at 7 the next day, which left me zombie-like from lack of sleep for the whole of Friday. I can scrape by with 7 hours for a couple of nights running, but 4 1/2 is nowhere near enough. I still managed 1500 words on that day, but I daren't re-read them. You need to be fresh to write well, which is rule #1.

On Saturday we took the kids to a local agricultural fair at 11am, got home at 2:30pm zonked out after rides, sideshows and various sugary treats, and then had to rush the eldest daughter to a birthday party for 3pm. Picked her up again at 6pm, and rushed her home just before the inlaws arrived for dinner. Had a good meal and chatted & played games until 10:30pm or so. Kids to bed, and I managed about 1000 words afterwards. It was a good family day and the kids had an absolute riot but it's not one you'd highlight as an example of getting words on paper. Got to bed around 12:30. You need to be single and living in a monastery to write lots, which is rule #2.

Today I pulled out all the stops and wrote 2239 words, which got me back on track. My running total is 8317 words and that's just 183 behind my self-imposed target of 8500. Sometimes you just have to shut the door and get to work, which is rule #3.

Apart from the writing I also applied the last coat of varnish to my DVD shelves and scavenged a full length mirror the neighbours threw out, took it apart, stripped the old paint and helped my eldest daughter apply three coats of navy blue acrylic to the bare timber. It was dry in no time so I gave the glass a good cleaning before putting the whole thing back together. I fitted it to her cupboard door, and while she's not the fairy princess type, is she happy with that mirror or what? Sure, we could have gone out and bought one but it was a whole lot more satisfying to do the job ourselves - and that's rule #4.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another blog to read

Found via Battersblog: 101 reasons to stop writing

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

Friday, October 27, 2006

Writing tip o' the day

So it's your turn to empty the dishwasher, and amongst the sparkly clean knives, forks and plates you come across this plastic doohicky thing you've never seen before.
Normally you'd search the kitchen drawers & cupboards for a similar doohicky so you can put this one with it. However, a writer's time is precious, so here's your time-saving tip for today: Set the plastic jobbie aside for the minute, and when you've finished emptying the dishwasher just chuck the doohicky thing back in again. Hey, not only did you empty the dishwasher, you've now made a start on refilling it!
Repeat this tip until it's someone else's turn to put the stuff away.
And you never heard this tip from me.

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

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The things kids say ...

I was playing Lego Star Wars with my youngest daughter yesterday, and after a couple of hours battling through Episode I she finally asked me something which had obviously been troubling her for some time:

Dad, why do they call it a Life Saver when it chops people up?

Neat game, by the way.

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

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Talking about showers

(This is a G-rated post, which will probably divide my readers into disappointed and relieved.)

Actually, I want to talk about shampoo. My wife buys the stuff in our house, not because I don't do any shopping but because I never notice when we've run out. That's because I always use the closest bottle-shaped container, be that shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath or mould remover.

So, there I was having my shower, and when I reached for the nearest container it said 'Coal Tar Shampoo'. I rolled my eyes, soapy film and all, and put it down to marketing bods trying to appeal to the survivalist types. Wondering what it REALLY contained, I splurged a dollar-bill-sized amount onto my hand and started to lather.

Well, I can tell you what it REALLY contained: Real fricking coal tar.

Let me divert for just a sec.

As a kid I used to walk to school, and along the way there were many fences painted with creosote. I remember that smell like it was yesterday - or indeed, five minutes ago. As a kid I also used to play on and around train tracks (don't ask), and right now I smell almost exactly like a railway sleeper, and the bathroom has that eau de marshalling yard aroma which comes from years of heavy diesel traffic. Bargain.

As I towelled off I pondered the uses for this wonderful product, and then it hit me: model railway enthusiasts. Don't go buying expensive tins of creosote, just spread Coal Tar (tm) shampoo on your papier mache mountains. Better still, add it to the paste while you're making the things for a really long lasting stench.

Coal Tar (tm) shampoo: redefining 'clean'

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

Friday, September 29, 2006

Metatextual or imagination?

You hear about authors inserting themselves in their books, whether deliberately or not. But how about authors being inserted into cover art without their knowledge? I'll let you be the judge ...

(Neither side of the image has been doctored - they're just merged as-is. In case there's any doubt, I'm the one on the left. The Hal pic came from the cover art of Hal Spacejock Just Desserts.)

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Make money fast - NOT!

I'm sharing this because some folk seem to think writers dash off a first draft, seek an agent and then wait for the money to roll in.

Over on the Voyager forums someone asked an innocent-sounding question which turned into a bit of a confessional. Quite a few HarperCollins Voyager authors post on the board, so it was interesting to hear their responses.

The question? Something along the lines of "I wonder who took the longest from manuscript finish to publication?"

Karen Miller, author of the Kingmaker/Kingbreaker duology: approx 15 years.
Glenda Larke, The Aware: 14 years (1989-2003) and Heart of Mirage: 16 years (1991-2006)
Russell Kirkpatrick: Across The Face Of the World: 20 years (1985 - 2004), In the Earth Abides the Flame: 19 years (1994-2004), The Right Hand of God: 3 years (2003-2005)

That's just a selection, but you can see that 10-15 years is much more likely than one or two.

And just for reference: Hal Spacejock: 12 years (1994-2005, although I didn't finish the first draft until 1999), Hal Spacejock Second Course: 2002-2006, Hal Spacejock Just Desserts 2003-2007.

I can't speak for the other authors, but my own books have undergone countless rewrites, drafts and polishes during that time. In other words, I wasn't just sitting around for 12 years waiting for a publisher to throw money at me.

So, it takes years to get into print. Big surprise. But what can you do with that information?

First, you should have a long term view, because the publishing industry will still be there when your manuscript is ready.

Second, it doesn't matter whether they publish your first, third or fifth novel. Once in print they'll want to see your trunked manuscripts, so all that effort wasn't wasted. And with your added experience you'll be able to spot the flaws in those unpublished works.

Want to know how I did it? I decided to write fifteen novels in the Hal Spacejock series ... one per year until I hit fifteen. If I still wasn't published by then, I'd give up.

How many novels are you planning to write?

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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shh, don't tell anyone.

I have no idea whether I'm allowed to show this yet, so I'll assume yes and apologise profusely later.

I just got the cover for Hal Spacejock Just Desserts (book three in the series), and the result is eye catching and rather special:

Nice work, Dion!

In other news, the first print run of Hal Spacejock (book one) is just about gone, and Fremantle Arts have confirmed a second print run. This second printing will feature a brand new Dion Hamill cover to match the rest of the series, so the original version is destined to become @RARE@ if not @MINT@

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

Monday, September 11, 2006

On toast

This is one of those blog posts where I appreciate an underrated food. Yes, humble sliced bread lightly browned on both sides.

Nothing in life is simple, and good toast isn't just a matter of whacking the sliced stuff in the nukifier and slopping on the topping of choice when it pops out again. No, toast has to be done right.

First, you need one technique for real bread (which doesn't need toasting anyway - better fresh) and another for the stuff you get in gaudy plastic bags with the little plastic doohicky and an expiry date about a week in the future.

This post is about the latter.

First, let me describe the different kinds of toast. The worst kind, to me, is a slice which is spread with marge the instant it hit the plate. The problem here is that the huge amount of heat in the bread melts all the marge, the bread collapses and you end up with a damp flannel with chewy edges. Yuk.

Better is a slightly cooled slice which holds its shape, where the heat softens the marge (or butter, if that's your thing) and which goes CRUNCH when you bite it.

There's a reason they invented toast racks, you know, and it wasn't just so you could stand it all in a neat row. See, the bread still contains a load of moisture after toasting, and if you lay the stuff on a plate it'll just make a damp spot. Yuk again.

I'm a four slice guy, so four slices go into the toaster, which has the dial set to 3/4. Once they pop I leave them to cool for about five minutes. Is it ready after that?

Hell no.

Set the dial to 1/4 and give the toast another dose. This will dump more of the moisture and give you that all-important crunch. Incidentally, bis cuit is french for cooked twice, and biscuit toast is just how I like it. (If you use thin bread adjust the times downward or you'll end up with particle board.)

Remove the toast and - vital - make a tent on your plate with the slices. If you have a toast rack, great, but this works just as well. Let it cool for a couple of minutes and THEN do the spreading.

Now a note on the bread. For years I've worked my way through sliced loaves, always leaving the endy bit on top to keep the upper slice fresh. Once I reached the end of the bag, into the bin it went, along with both of the endy bits.

A week ago, facing endy bits or no toast, I slung them into the machine. POW! Best toast ever. Now I hoard those endy bits for special occasions.

Must go - the toast just popped and today I have three endy bits to enjoy.

(And if you have a toast method you wish to share, feel free to comment. Maybe we can start a PAHBB society - People for the Appreciation of Hot Browned Bread.)

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

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Asimov Classic?

On my Hal Spacejock site I have a few pages dedicated to classic SF authors - for example, William F Temple. After I first put the pages up I soon discovered the one on Isaac Asimov was the highest ranked on Google Australia, which prompted me to remark at an SF convention that given I was now Australia's formost authority on Asimov I'd better put some actual content on the page.

Today, according to my server logs, over 200 people arrived at my site after searching google, MSN, Yahoo and so on for 'Asimov Classic' and 'What is an Asimov Classic?'

Nice to have all those visitors, but what exactly set them off? (Wacky suggestions in the comments trail welcome.)

update: Another 150 or so overnight.

update #2: Two days later and they're still coming. Maybe it was a crossword with a million dollar prize?

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

PRESS RELEASE – Simon Haynes joins JJLA

Australian SF/Humour writer Simon Haynes has joined the John Jarrold Literary Agency. Simon’s first two HAL SPACEJOCK novels have been published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press. Featuring an inept interstellar cargo pilot, HAL SPACEJOCK hit the bestseller list at Dymocks (one of the big two bookselling chains across Australia and New Zealand) on release, and is outselling major SF and Fantasy authors in specialist bookshops. A second printing is expected soon, and together with its sequel, HAL SPACEJOCK SECOND COURSE, it has gained these reviews, amongst many others:

"Fast, funny, quirky, enthralling comedy adventure; not just a genre parody but a well-made story in its own right, told with a light, deft touch. Better than RED DWARF!"
Tom Holt

"A dizzying ride, lurching from planet to planet and crisis to crisis as Hal bumbles his way through meetings with inept assassins, murderous rich guys, gullible officials and a bailiff with a very nasty robot. Blithely oblivious to the havoc he causes, quite astonishingly incompetent, and someone I wouldn't trust to use my toaster without a fire-extinguisher and a team of firemen standing by, Hal Spacejock is one of the most memorable figures in sci-fi. It'll never be high literature, and it's unlikely to make the classics list, but who cares when it's this much fun? A book to be enjoyed over and over again."
Joules Taylor – SF Crowsnest reviewer

"The quirkiest genre satire to hit bookshelves since Terry Pratchett's Discworld"
The West Australian

"Riddled with slapstick humour and glib one-liners"
Courier Mail, Brisbane

'Having published a number of humorous writers,' said John Jarrold, 'I was taken by Simon's storytelling and the fact that he really likes his characters. Together with a great sense of wit, that makes him a winner in my view.'

You can visit the Hal Spacejock website here

John Jarrold has run three science fiction and fantasy imprints in the UK since 1988 - Orbit Books, Legend Books (Random House) and Earthlight (Simon and Schuster) - and edited many well-known authors.

Contact John Jarrold for further information:

3rd September 2006

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

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Read this if you want to get an agent/get published

Miss Snark has just started analysing REAL query letters and REAL first pages from fiction submissions on her blog.

See the mistakes people make. See what puts an agent off quicker'n a malfunctioning coffee percolator. Stop reading my blog and go and look at hers instead

If you have any intention of getting an agent or getting published, read them all. Now.

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

Friday, September 01, 2006

No news is good news

I've been flat out recently, and one of the things I'd like to talk about is a school visit I did to the Bunbury Primary School. They invited me down to talk to the kids about writing and publishing as part of National Literacy Week.

When I've visited schools in the past I've mostly talked about my background and how I came to write the books. This time I thought I'd do something more useful so I designed a story planning worksheet and printed enough for all the kids - around 300 all told.

I blanked out all the terms on these worksheets except for the first letter (e.g. C for Character) and let the kids guess them. It kept them interested and some got them right straight away. Then I got them to write down their own data next to each term - for example, the character's name.

I'm not a teacher by any means, but they all seemed interested and I understand some of them were motivated enough to make a start on the stories they'd planned.

I spoke to years 3 to 7, seven classes in a row, and as the ages went up I made sure to include more info. For example, I included info about literary agents, editors and submitting to publishers.

By the way, on a similar note (but involving a somewhat older age group) I'll be doing readings from Hal Spacejock books 1-3 at Edith Cowan Uni this Friday for their regular Lunchlines event.

And what about the title of this blog post? I can't say yet, but you can speculate all you like in the comments trail. (It is writing related news.)

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

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A reality check - meeting famous authors

Spotted at the library yesterday: a flier for an Andy Griffiths book signing today. (Andy's the author behind the Zombie Bums books, amongst others, and each of his new books regularly hits the childrens bestseller lists.) Wouldn't you know it, my kids are away with their grandparents for the weekend.

Still, I figured I'd go along, pick up a couple of books for my kids and perhaps give Andy a copy of Hal as a gift.

I got there at five to two and there's a queue of kids about a mile long, all of them clutching Andy Griffiths books. I saw tatty copies, new copies, covered copies and several which looked like they'd just come from a school library. While I sat and envied, a lady nearby asked me what was going on. "Just a book signing," I said casually, as if every book signing attracted two-three hundred people.

Fifteen minutes later the line hadn't got any smaller, so I left to do some errands. Just before I left though, the lady's companions had come back, and one had a nephew or grandson who sounded like the perfect reader for a Hal Spacejock book. Happy that someone was going to get it, I personalised the copy I was holding and handed it over.

For some time I've been after a high definition set top box with a hard drive recorder, because time shifting is the perfect solution to annoying ads. Unfortunately Saturday shopping hours were slipping away so I hurried off to find what I needed. (Only gas stations, convenience and hardware stores are open Sunday in Western Australia.)

By the time I'd found what I needed it was ten to four, and I was nine minutes drive from the shopping centre. I suddenly realised the signing would probably go for two hours, and if I hurried back I might just get those books signed after all. So, back I went, hauling a spare copy of Hal from the trunk, and there was the author sitting at his table with just one child in the line. I couldn't have timed it better with a stopwatch ... packing up was literally in progress.

I nipped in and chatted to Andy's publicist while he was signing books, and asked whether I could give him a copy of Hal. She spotted the 'Better than Red Dwarf' comment on the cover and said Andy was a Red Dwarf fan, and would probably like something to read on the flight home. Done deal. (I personally wouldn't read about a crash-happy pilot like Hal just before climbing aboard a jet, but there you go.)

I didn't stop to chat long because everyone looked like they were ready to cut and run, but Andy took the time to draw cartoons in the copies of his books I'd bought for my kids, and he got me to personalise the copy of Hal for him. I didn't mention crash-happy pilots at all.

Tell you one thing - I won't forget that huge line of kids waiting patiently to get their books signed. Apparently the average number of people turning up to signings is four, so that two hundred covers about fifty complete no-shows ;-) (I've never done a signing for Hal books, but I've had a secondary launch at a con which didn't.)

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

Monday, August 21, 2006

Don't buy this book either ...

... and for twice as many reasons as last time. I was just looking at the Hal Spacejock listing on when I spotted the following entry amongst the third party sellers:

"Nice Book" it says. It'd want to be more than nice for almost four thousand Australian dollars. And I thought the copy listed on for US$1985.01 was overpriced.

Just wait until they list Hal Spacejock Second Course. You'll need the GDP of a small country to pick up a copy.


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

Friday, August 18, 2006

Do not buy this book.

Well, not this particular copy anyway (note - this is NOT a doctored image):

(See the third one? Think there might be a decimal point in the wrong place?)

Here's the original listing, although it might change real soon now.

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

AW blog chain

In a moment of madness (and with only minutes to spare) I put my hand up for the Absolute Write blog chain.

Each participant blogs about something pinched from the previous person's post, then links back. Simran is just before me in the chain, and she blogged about some of the indian items in her apartment, turning the post into a story. Then she challenged me, a science fiction writer, to take something out of it for my own effort. Hmm, tricky. Then I realised she finished her story with the words 'lost in another world', and it all became clear.

I've been lost in another world twice in my life. Once when we moved to Spain, the second time when we moved from Spain to Australia. In this post I'll cover the first, because I was younger and it was a much bigger culture shock.

At age seven, I was settled at the local school and had several very good friends. This was the early 70's, in England, and we lived in a comfortable two storey house with central heating and nice gurgling radiators in every room. Dr Who and the Goodies were on TV and we had a huge garden - everything a kid could want. It was a quiet street, fairly close to the train station and local school, and all the neighbours were happy and friendly.

Then, with a few months notice, our family moved to the south of Spain. (The Costa Blanca was known as a hotbed of british criminals hiding from justice, but we didn't go for anything as exotic as that. My dad suffered a serious accident, and moving from damp English weather to the sunny, hot climate of Spain was going to be a big help with his recovery.)

My dad flew down first to scout the place out, while my mother, my brother and I remained in England. Then we got the call - time to move. I don't remember the flight but I DO remember Alicante airport, which was a sea of cool marble flooring and signs I couldn't read.

My dad met us there, and as soon as my mum was out of earshot he told my younger brother and I the gag he'd come up with. He was going to drive us to the local campsite, show us a tatty old tent, and tell us it was our new home. We, my brother and I, were to play along, ecstatic at the chance to live outdoors. My mum, presumably, would enjoy a good laugh afterwards.

So, with my brother Mat and I hunched up and fairly snorting in anticipation, we drove an hour or so to the fishing town of Altea. Main road turned to minor road, minor road quickly became dirt track, and there it was: Camping Miami! A field with a few derelict caravans melting in the heat and an office that wouldn't have looked out of place in The Great Escape - as the solitary confinement cooler.

We drove through the gates and dad pointed out a tent, saying it was quite nice inside, while Mat and I enthused volubly. My mum looked a little uncertain, to say the least.

Then dad said he'd made some good friends nearby, and they'd invited us to lunch. We drove to this lovely place with masses of flowering bougainvillea outside, a wrought iron fence and those ubiquitous marble floors. Once inside there was no sign of any friends, but my dad turned to us with a huge grin and said 'This is our new home.'

(30 years later they're still happily married, although they've never been camping since.)

Now, the next stop on your blog chain is Organised Chaos, so I'm passing on the baton. Enjoy!

Would you trick someone this cute? (My mum, age 6)

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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Support Crew cards are in

I had such a fantastic response to the Hal Spacejock Support Crew meme of a week ago that I went out and spent a hundred bucks or so on some little Support Crew business cards for everyone. (And it's not too late to get yours - just follow the link above for instructions.)

Anyway, I ordered my business cards from someone advertising on ebay of all places. (I'm in Western Australia, he's on the other side of the continent) You email him a rough idea and he'll do all the artwork, going back and forth until you're happy. Then he organises the actual printing and ships the cards overnight express - and the price includes design, printing and delivery.

I do my own artwork (I've been doing full colour brochure layouts for years) so I sent him finished files after getting the required specs, and when the cards arrived an hour ago I was more than impressed. Sharp, nice and bright, and a very close match to what I had on the screen. Very happy.

So, if you live in Australia and need some quick and easy printing - and not just business cards - give Tom at Wainwright Media a go. I'm not one for rampant plugs but I like to reward good service. (You can say I sent you but it won't make a blind bit of difference.)

Incidentally, all the goodies will soon be on the way to everyone who pasted the Support Crew code into their blog and then emailed me with their addresses. Hah, you forgot that bit didn't you?

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

An editor says thanks

Not my editor (who doesn't need to thank me for anything - rather, the reverse), this is a nice thank-you from an editor I don't even know, and she's happy with my recent article on how I work with my editor.

It's always nice to discover industry people are reading my blog. Actually, it's nice to discover anyone is reading my blog, industry or not. You know you've made it when someone actually links to your verbiage.

And just so you know, yesterday I expanded the article to 1800 words for writers world, where it should appear in the next month or two. Once they take it down I'll add it to the collection of writing articles on the Hal Spacejock website.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Winners from name a Hal book

These lucky folk have won a signed copy of Hal Spacejock in the recent 'name the next Hal book' competition:

Gerald Williams (HS: Moon Shot)
Kelly (HS: Sticky Parts)

Send me your postal address to hs1 at spacejock dot com and I'll have your book delivered asap.

Everyone else who entered, don't go yet - email me your postal address and I'll send you a set of bookmarks, a Hal Spacejock support crew membership card and signed Hal Spacejock bookplates. Yes, that's everyone else who entered, wherever you might be in the world.

And thanks for all the suggestions ;-)

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hal Spacejock Support Crew

Update: If you join the crew I'll list your blog on the Hal Spacejock Diary

I joined Hal Spacejock's Support Crew
I didn't pay anything,
I didn't sign anything,
and I didn't read the fine print.
Just like Hal!

No space pilot can exist in a vacuum (hah!), and behind every successful pilot there's a talented and dedicated support crew.
Hal Spacejock is one of the least successful space pilots in the history of the galaxy, and a worldwide support crew is needed just to get him off the ground.

Join now for free Hal Spacejock goodies!
Join the team - - - - - - - - - Hal who?

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

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Let's have some fun

(Update: this competition is now closed, but you can still enter the draw for a signed copy here)

I came up with the definitive Hal Spacejock title yesterday, although sadly I don't think it'll fly. (Hal Spacejock - Up Uranus)

After HS Second Course and HS Just Desserts, my editor jokingly suggested Port and Cigars next. I promptly came back with 'The Big Bang', then realised that'd be best for book six.

For now, book four is HS Legacy and book five is HS Faulty Parts, which I just KNOW is going to lead to 'Poultry Farts' every time I open my mouth.

Anyway, I played around with 'mint' but was fresh out of ideas. I messed around with 'port' and got a headache. Cigars - well, those jokes have all been done.

That's where the fun comes in. All you have to do is suggest a title for a future Hal Spacejock novel in the comments trail. The wackier the better - they don't have to be remotely useable, I'm just after way-out craziness here.

(E.g. HS: Wrong Port, HS: Full Moon, etc.)

Just get your entry in by August 15, 2006 and I'll select a couple of winners, who will receive a signed copy of Hal Spacejock 1 OR 2 (your choice.)

If you can't think of anything, why not share the link? If someone else wins you can borrow their copy.

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

Monday, July 31, 2006


For all ex-pat poms, did you know you can listen to all BBC radio services live over the internet?

They also have the news in 33 languages.

If you find yourself wasting hours reading news sites when you should be working, try internet radio. I'm supposed to be doing paperwork, and background noise from the old dart is just fine by me.

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

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hal 1 limited

I just visited the Dymocks Hal Spacejock page and for the first time ever they're showing 'Limited Stock'. (Dymocks are one of Australia's largest bookselling chains, with over 80 stores across three countries.)

Now, I know how many my publisher has left from the original print run, and it's stuff all. They're preparing for a second printing, but that won't be a juicy first edition will it?

So, if you live in Australia or NZ and you've been meaning to get your hands on Hal, now's the time to pop into your local bookstore. Years from now you'll be able to tell people you were in on the secret before millions got on the bandwagon. (I write fiction, remember.)

If you live outside Australia and can't buy a copy, enter my draw. Not only could you win a first edition, it will be signed as well.

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

Hal in a nutshell

No, that's not the title of book six in the series.

I recently organised a number of free copies of Hal Spacejock for SF bloggers around the world. I'm not expecting them to drop everything and post glowing reviews, so why do it?

First, because it's neat to have something of value to give away, even if that value is only twenty bucks.

Second, Hal is a fun book and they might enjoy it. There's a reason humans tell jokes: that special feeling you get when you make someone laugh is priceless, at least to me.

Third, because mainstream press tends to ignore genre (SF/Fantasy/Horror) titles. (In turn, SF/Fantasy/Horror fans tend to ignore mainstream press.) SF blogs, on the other hand, are a gathering of like-minded folk, a sort of rolling 24/7 SF convention. Conversations spring up, points are discussed at length, and word gets around. If someone does get a laugh out of Spacejock, they might get that special feeling by sharing the joke with others.

Fourth, because Hal Spacejock is an odd title. One glance and people picture a muscle-bound idiot barging through life using his fists to settle every argument. In truth, Hal would sooner run away than go toe-to-toe with a librarian, and his character is (deliberately) as shallow as a puddle. I like my little jokes, and one of them is that the books are as much about the sympathetic and noble character of XG99, aka Clunk the robot, as they are about Hal. Clunk's constant struggle to keep Hal in check is a huge source of amusement, and it's wonderful when he completely loses it from time to time. Chastened, Hal mends his ways ... for about five minutes.

The humour in my books is very dry and understated, because I don't like lame, silly gags and I hate beating readers over the head with the obvious and I hate explaining jokes. If you get it, great. If you don't, there's still a decent plot ... and I still earn royalties from your copy ;-)

So, the fifth and final reason: The more people share and discuss the book, the less chance it'll be perceived as Crocodile Dundee in space. Hence all my prize draws to give copies away.

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

Win a copy of Hal Spacejock

Published by FACP, Distributed by Penguin

"Fast, funny, quirky, enthralling comedy adventure"
Tom Holt

I know many people missed out in the last draw, so I'm having another one. I'll draw ten copies next weekend. Winners choose either Hal 1 or 2, airmail postage is included.

Just visit this page to enter.

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

Thursday, July 27, 2006

PBW's virtual writing course

PBW is S.L. Viehl, author of the Stardoc SF series. (Her books keep popping up on the Galaxy Books bestseller lists, so she's certainly not unknown to Australians.) Actually, she's an entire book writing industry, with a staggering 33 novels in 5 genres.

I always believe in learning from the Pros, and here's your chance for a free ringside seat:

Virtual Workshop #2: Trend Tracking Versus Jumping

Virtual Workshop #1: Building Series Novels

Not only do you get a free education, you can also score goodies just by joining in the discussion.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hal elbows his way into respectable company

Fantastic Planet just posted their top 20 bestselling titles (Based on sales from July 2005 to July 2006), and I'm happy to report Hal Spacejock made equal #17 on the list.

I may be wrong, but I think Judas Unchained (#6) and Century Rain (#13) are the only other SF titles above it. Apart from Nylon Angel at #20 all the rest are Fantasy.

Hmm. Proposed title for Hal Spacejock 4: The ring-thing quest of the dragon-riding bigsword icy fury giants. Nine volumes with a free keyring.

1...A Feast for Crows, George R. R. Martin
2...Temeraire, Naomi Novik
3...Never Seen by Waking Eyes, Stephen Dedman
4...Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
5...Knife of Dreams, Robert Jordan
6...Judas Unchained, Peter F. Hamilton
7...Shadow Box, edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings and Angela Challis
8...Aggressive Retail Therapy, by Grant Watson
9...Thud!, by Terry Pratchett
10..Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
11..Through Soft Air, by Lee Battersby
11..Chainfire, by Terry Goodkind
12..Black Powder War, by Naomi Novik
13..Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
13..The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
13..Century Rain, Alastair Reynolds
14..A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin
15..Woken Furies, Richard Morgan
15..Throne of Jade, by Naomi Novik
15..Pushing Ice, by Alastair Reynolds
16..American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
17..Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susannah Clarke
17..Micah, by Laurell K. Hamilton
17..Hal Spacejock, Simon Haynes
18..The Blue Girl, by Charles de Lint
18..The Shadow of Saganami, by David Weber
19..Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow, by David Gemmell
19..Iron Council, by China Mieville
20..War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull
20..Nylon Angel, by Marianne de Pierres

(Bear in mind Hal Spacejock didn't hit their shelves until Nov 2005)

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

Monday, July 24, 2006

Andromeda Spaceways issue 24 available

Issue 24 PDF is heading your way!

Andromeda Spaceways is a printed Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine with a paid circulation across Australia, USA, the UK and several exotic locations such as Indonesia, Brazil and New Zealand.

With issue 22 we launched an electronic PDF version alongside the printed magazine, and it was so successful we did the same for issue 23. (The printed issue sells for AUD$8 plus postage. The PDF is just AUD$4, or US$3, a huge saving.)

And now, Andromeda Spaceways brings you PDF ISSUE 24. You can pay online with Paypal (cards also accepted), then download and enjoy immediately.

Edited by Edwina Harvey, issue 24 contains fantastic new fiction by Simon Brown, Brian Tillotson, Paul Woodlin, Marissa Lingen, Stephanie Campisi, André Oosterman, Anna Tambour, S Hutson Blount, Steven Pirie, Chuck McKenzie and Katherine Woodbury, as well as poetry by Samantha Henderson, and features a special interview with Sonny Whitelaw. It's so huge, we needed a whale on the cover!

If you're a traditionalist, you can order the print version, back issues and subscriptions via the ASIM website

I've been a member of the ASIM co-op since day one, and it's been a fascinating journey.

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

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Second set of 10 Hal Spacejock winners

I'm really grateful to everyone who entered, and particularly those who shared a link to my contest on their blogs and in email. Getting published is just half the battle, and letting people know about Hal Spacejock will do more than any amount of advertising or talking from me or my publisher.

Without futher ado, here are the second set of ten winners, who should email spacejock at gmail dot com to claim their prize:

Julia B
Kim Miller
Dawn Pendergast
Random Walk Writer
Gabriele C
Tiffany Weatherby

For everyone else, keep your eye on my blog because I'm determined to give away copies in future, helping to spread the word about Hal Spacejock. You can also join the announcements-only mailing list, where I recently gave away another 5 copies of my books.

Incidentally, I put a new header on the Hal Spacejock website. Let me know what you think!

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

Countin' up the words & a pledge

Lee Battersby started it, and then Martin Livings applied the ol' electric bolts of life. Yes, it's a 'what's lurking in my short story folder?' meme.

I'm not going to list all the titles, word counts and dates, but a quick scan of my work-in-progress folder reveals the following:

13 files, each with a story idea (Usually just one sentence)
9 files, each with the outline of a story (Several sentences)
12 files, each with a story fragment (Just paragraphs out of the blue)
37 files, each with the beginning of a story (Many over half complete)
7 files, each with an almost-finished story
23 files, each with a completed story, ranging from 1500 words up to 10,000

So, with all that stuff sitting around, why haven't I polished them up and sent them off?

Because, in most cases, they're junk. The most recent is dated 4 or 5 years ago, and even a cursory glance shows me it needs a complete rewrite. The oldest stuff is laughable. (I do have a folder called 'Old Junk' which I daren't open. Picture the tomb full of snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

The mistake many writers make is to try and get everything they've ever scribbled into print. It's like a concert pianist who records every practice session, and then sets up shop to flog all those recordings. Wouldn't it be better to sell your best performances, and keep the bum notes and flaky pieces well hidden? Same with photographers, who select the best and ditch the rest.

I've only seen half a dozen of my stories published, and I picked those carefully from the false starts and half-completed stuff you see in the list above. Three or four of the completed stories went out to 2 markets, and were rejected.

Anyway, dredging through my WIP folder turned up half a dozen stories I wouldn't mind rewriting, or at least pinching ideas from. Now Spacejock is in print I need another challenge, and trying to get a short story into a top flight Spec Fic market has that climb-Everest-without-personal-danger appeal to it. After all, I still have a sheet of US postal stamps for the rejection letters ;-)

All right, here's the pledge: I'm going to submit short fiction to US markets until my stamps run out. (13 left)

I'll report everything here, including details on the stories I've sent out, where I've sent them, and what the rejection letters said. I don't care who rejects me or what they say - I'm going to report it.

One proviso: If my publisher demands Hal Spacejock books 4-6 yesterday, this pledge idea is toast.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2006

So what kind of SF is it?

I was reading a thread on the SF forum at sffworld this morning where someone asked why the fantasy forum on the same site had 5 or 6 times the visitors and discussion. Was fantasy really that much more popular?

Someone made a good point (I've lost the exact post) when they said readers know what they're getting when they embark on a fantasy trilogy. Within a page or two they're up to speed, and from there it's just a matter of how the good guys beat the bad guys, and what the bad guys get up to along the way. Sure, there are other kinds of fantasy, but if the cover has a bloke with a sword or a castle or a warrior princess on horseback or whatever you're pretty well set.

Science fiction, on the other hand, is much more open. You might be picking up a book with exhaustive scientific detail, written to explain the author's theory that the universe is really three parallel planes in one. Or it might be a bug hunt with big guns and chesty babes. (And don't rely on the cover - more than one universe-theory author has received the first copies of their latest tome, eagerly opened the package, and then stared in horror at the chesty babes and laser guns on the cover. Blame the marketing dept for trying to shift books.)

Hal Spacejock is at the bugs 'n' guns end, science wise, but the characters have all the morals of the dodgy geezers from the TV series Minder - without the cockney slang.

There's hardly any violence in Hal, though. No sex or swearing either, and if you think it'd be hard to write a funny book without those three mainstays you're right. I play on incompetence, tricky situations and overconfidence a lot, and there's enough dialog(ue) for a whole radio series.

To get a feel for the style, you can read chapter one of both books online. Just see the Hal Spacejock website. I had to convince my publisher it was a good idea to put them online, so please make use of them.

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

Friday, July 21, 2006

Working with an editor

I started to write this in a comment on PBW's blog, then realised it was turning into a lengthy post by itself. So, here it is.

This is the process my editor and I use for each Hal book, and I thought I'd share because it really is a great way to work. I'm not combative about my precious creations, and will happily throw out characters, scenes and whole chapters to make something better. My editor, on the other hand, is not being paid to read eighteen versions of the same manuscript, and therefore needs to reign in my wild brushcutting tendencies.

Oh, and if you're one of those writers who can't bear the thought of having a stranger go over your manuscript and come up with fourteen pages of notes and comments, perhaps you shouldn't read on.

This is the second and final part of the editing process. I'll write another blog post about the first part - ie. writing the actual book from synopsis to first draft - another time.

So, we have this finished manuscript. It more-or-less matches the synopsis I gave my editor months earlier, apart from the aliens arriving in chapter 12 (subtle Miss Snark reference, there), two new characters and a completely different plot.

What happens is that I email this final draft to my editor as a Word Doc, and then she prints it out and writes all over it. A week or two later I go in to pick it up and we discuss the major issues she has with it (to whit, aliens suddenly arrive in chapter 14, there are two new characters and why is the plot completely different?)

I nod, listen, and promise to fix everything. Then I get home and scan the chickenpoxed text and the additional stapled pages of comments and notes, and remember how happy I felt when I handed in the 'finished' draft.

Anyway, I load it up into Word, set track changes and go to work, page by page, until I've covered everything. In some cases that means adding a scene, in others (rarer) it means deleting one. Usually it's smaller stuff, like mentioning the gun used in chapter 15 a little earlier in the book so the reader doesn't go 'Huh? Where did that come from?' at the crucial moment.

When I'm done - usually three or four days, because I like to read the whole manuscript through at least once with the changes - I send my editor the MS via email. I'm on Windows, she's on Mac, but it works fine. We're both using old versions anyway (I never got past Word 97, and use OpenOffice for everything else. However, I stick to Word for this one particular task because I know it works.)

Once she's checked all my changes, skipping from one to the next rather than reading the whole book again, she applies them or not, commenting on the ones she didn't think were so hot. (Or, best case, adding a comment that she really liked something I've done.) She'll often tweak the wording in the new bits with tracked changes switched on, and when she's done she sends me the file back. (Usually after 2-3 days) There are usually a few more comments at this stage, perhaps little things in the book which aren't quite right, or could be improved just a touch.

I go through and chuck all these new changes out, just to show who's boss ... no wait, this is real life. Actually, I generally agree with 99% of the suggestions, and I apply them and add my own little flourishes. For example, she might suggest a slight rewording on one particular sentence, and I'll take the suggestion to mean there was something wrong with it, rather than 'this is what it should be'. Then I address the comments, one by one, which usually means rewriting a couple of bits and sticking in more text.

That usually takes me a day or less, and I send back this final version with my last tweaks in. We go back and forth quickly, over the course of twenty-thirty minutes, and then we speak on the phone to congratulate ourselves.

And yippee, that's what we did Thursday morning, and I'm still euphoric.

One of the best parts is that my editor and I use the comments feature in Word to joke back and forth about changes, the book, and anything else which comes up during the process. It's a bit like an IRC session via manuscript, but it all adds to the fun.

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

Book a day

Andrew Wheeler, a senior editor at the US SF book club, has just embarked on a project. He's going to read a book a day for as long as he can.

I wonder whether that includes the odd fantasy doorstopper, or whether he's just going for the lighter stuff?

Years ago, before work, family and ... you know, responsibilities, I used to read more than one book a day. We had no computers, no tv ('andful of cold gravel for tea' shouts someone from the peanut gallery), and there was little else to do but prowl the countryside with my air rifle.

These days I'm lucky to read one a week, and the air rifle is long gone. Actually, so's the countryside.

So, I applaud Andrew's endeavour but I do wonder how long he'll keep it up. Long enough to attract so much interest from the 'entertainment' section of the national papers that they lose interest in stories about movie stars having babies in Namibia?

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

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mini SF convention at the KSP Writers Centre

I'll be hanging around this event with pen in hand, and Fantastic Planet will be carting some of my books along, so anyone keen to get their hands on a signed copy of Hal 1 or 2 need only show up with cash in hand. Or book in hand, if you already have one to be signed.


On Sunday 13 August, the KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group will host a mini-convention featuring panels, readings and refreshments. And it's all free except a sausage-sizzle lunch, which will set you back $5 per head. There will also be books for sale with several authors hanging around, pens in hand. (Yup, me too) This cosy event will be held in conjunction with the awards for the annual Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre Science Fiction Short Story Competition.

10 - 3pm at 11 Old York Road, Greenmount WA 6056
(That's in the hills above* Perth, Western Australia.)
KSP Phone/Fax: (08) 9294 1872

Featured panellists (some TBC) include Lyn Battersby, Sally Beasley, Angela Challis, Shane Jirayah Cummings, Stephen Dedman, Russell Farr, Elaine Kemp, Dave Luckett, Juliet Marillier, Carol Ryles and Aiden Triffett. The MC will be the one and only Lee Battersby.

The day will conclude with the announcement of winners in the KSP Sci-Fi competition, which has become one of the country's most prestigous contests.

Help keep the scene alive between cons by favouring this event with your presence.

* They're not particularly big hills, so you're kind of alongside and up a bit.

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


I'm behind on everything right now, and would you believe I failed to mention a publication credit in an exciting new print anthology? (Yes, an incredible oversight. Won't happen again, I promise.)

The anthology in question is Flashspec volume one, a collection of speculative flash fiction. In this case, that means stories which come in at less than 500 words. (So you can read them in a flash, see?)

You can order a copy online through the link. I have one copy with another on the way, and now that Hal 3 is done done done I'm going to start reading again.

The second volume has a reading period starting in April 2007, so what are you waiting for? Read up on the art of good flash fiction and get ready to submit!

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Daft idea

I decided lurking around freo trying to fob off an ARC of Hal Spacejock 3 on Ben Elton was a silly idea. (See this post for the background.) So, I employed a firm to do the same job for a bargain AUD $9.75. Yes, for a low nine bucks and change they will hand my books directly to Ben Elton's publisher in Sydney, who will then pack them up and send them to WA or the UK, or more likely just bin them.) I'm happy to share the name of this awesome publicity machine ... they're called Australia Post and they have branches all over the country. Keep them in mind.

(Post office pricing is very strange, by the way. It costs $9.75 to send a parcel weighing less than 1kg to Sydney via road freight, a trip of 5-7 days for your average box. BUT you can buy a pre-paid satchel which will take anything up to 3kg overnight for ... $9.75! Madness.)

While I was posting Mr Elton's books I also sent off all the Hal Spacejocks people won in my recent competition. (It's still open - enter now and your chances of scoring a copy are about 1 in 6.)

I also sent off complete sets to a couple of other big name authors, so their publishers can forward them all over the planet, or bin them. I'm sure the pros get bombarded with books from newbies like me, but what the heck. (Normally my publisher does this kind of thing, but they won't be gearing up for Hal 3 publicity until Oct/Nov. Anyway, I don't let a single day pass without doing something to help my books along.)

Tomorrow I'll be drawing the Hal Spacejock frisbee competition so get your name in now. (Betcha didn't know about that one.)

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I love this bit

Address the editor's final queries, hand in the finished manuscript, and then bask in the glow as 11 months of writing plus 9 months of rewrites draw to a close. That's the best part of being an author: completing something.

I don't sit still for long, and after handing in the manuscript I jotted a few thoughts down for the back cover blurb, emailed the production manager about covers and packed up books for winners in my various competitions.

My publisher has first and final say in all design matters - covers, blurbs, etc - but they do encourage input, and I don't take much encouraging. I was reading Jennifer Fallon's blog post about palm trees which explains the publisher/author relationship better than I can.

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

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hal Spacejock winners

A week ago I put a post online offering 10 signed copies of Hal Spacejock, drawing the winners from comments below that post. The response was great, and I wish I had enough books to send to everyone.

In the end I drew 20 winners - 10 here, and 10 the following week. Here are the first ten winners, who should email spacejock at gmail dot com to claim their prize:

Jim C. Hines
Michael Kastler
Laura (Bayre)
Sapphire Writer (Briana)
Martin Livings
Bill Peschel
Ailsa (dragonrider on VO/dragon_crier on lj)

For everyone else, keep an eye on this blog for next week's draw. If you don't win and they do, you might be able to borrow their copy (and not give it back!)

(If I get another 60 comments I'll increase the number of books again, unless they're all the same person ...)

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

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why yWriter

There are two kinds of 'writing software'. One is supposed to generate plots and all but write your book for you, which is the silliest idea since battery powered trouser zippers.

The other kind of writing software is just a word processor in slightly different clothing. Instead of keeping your novel in one long file (or a load of chapter files) this kind of writing software organises the books into chapters and scenes. That's all yWriter does.

I'm a programmer, and nobody sits down to write a 50,000 line program in a single text window. You'd be laughed off the planet if you tried, since it would be impossible to find anything quickly. Instead, we work with short code modules, which are held in source files. They show up in a tree view, and you edit a particular module by double-clicking it. The parts make up the whole. It's just so much easier to work on smaller pieces, while still being able to view the whole.

All I did was transfer this method of working to the act of writing a book. Several years back I was getting more and more confused the longer my book got, until I hit the wall at around 25,000 words. I could no longer check previous sections quickly, and splitting the book into chapter files meant I had nineteen copies of Word running simultanously.

A novel consists of chapters and scenes, and if you put the chapters into a tree and break them down further into scenes, you've got a structure the brain can work with. In yWriter you can drag and drop scenes between chapters, move chapters around, and open any scene in any chapter in its own editor window - simultanously.

I've written three novels using yWriter, and when time came to rewrite them for my publisher it saved me weeks of headaches. I used the scene description feature to keep notes about what needed to change, and used the auto-synopsis feature to print off a working framework for the book. AND I used the work schedule to see what I had to do every day to meet my deadline.

I put the software on my website for others to use, but I really don't care whether they write books with it or not. I'm not selling it, I'm giving it away, and I get nothing out of that than even more emails.

Still, it's very rewarding when someone sends me a message to say they're finally getting their novel into shape, thanks to my software. Every one of those makes me smile.

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

The Ben Elton campaign

There I was, sipping coffee and watching toast burn, when I suddenly realised how neat it would be to get a copy of Hal Spacejock into Ben Elton's hands. It's a fun book with lots of sly gags, and Ben Elton is a very funny guy. Perfect match.

Okay, so it's not much of a quest, but it's more worthy than three plodding volumes about a farmboy seeking the doohicky of power to defeat the evil Lord of Kardbod.

Now, Western Australia is a spectacularly beautiful state, and as luck would have it Ben Elton lives here part of each year. In case you live somewhere even more remote than Perth (like, Jupiter) Ben Elton is the manic genius behind the best three series of Black Adder, a number of bestselling novels and numerous stage and TV shows.

First obstacle: I don't know Mr Elton.

Plan #1: Dress up in a suit, pin a 'Ben Elton's Driver' badge to my lapel, and wander around Fremantle looking thoroughly lost. Some kind soul is sure to give me directions ('He's in London, ya twit') and then I'd be set.

Plan #2: Walk into the Fremantle branch of Dymocks Booksellers and offer to buy their entire stock of Ben Elton books ... if Mr Elton signs them. No walking around in suits, either. Bonus.

Plan #3: Get arrested for being drunk and disorderly, and name Ben Elton as a witness. Problem is, I don't drink and I'm not disorderly.

Plan #4: Find out where he lives (biggest house in Freo, natch) and heave a couple of books over the wall. Only thing is, if the attack dogs don't get them, the armed guards probably will.

To be honest that all sounds like a load of trouble, and in more ways than one. Inspiration was slipping away until I read an article in this morning's paper: Ben Elton's Get a Grip will be at the Perth Concert Hall, Sunday 23 July, Monday 24 July and Sunday 6 August.

Cool. More options:

Plan 1: Buy a front row seat and bide my time. At the right moment, leap up and yell 'read this, Ben!' and hurl a copy of Hal Spacejock onto the stage.

For: It'd certainly get his attention.

Against: And everyone else's, including security. Plus it might actually hit him, and Hal is a hefty book.

Plan 2: Hang around the stage entrance with a large box of chocolates. Nestled (!) under the top row, a copy of Hal Spacejock.

For: It might actually work.

Against: He might eat the book and read the chocolates.

Once again it sounds like a lot of trouble, involving police, restraining orders and lengthy jail terms. I know all publicity is good publicity, but good for whom? I'm not having my publisher coining it while my royalties pay to have Mr Elton's stomach pumped.

So why not try something a bit more normal and post a book c/o his agent?

For: It's not only easy, it's legal.

Against: I hear his agent doesn't use firewood to warm his house.

Okay, the toast has cooled and so has my enthusiasm. The second cup of coffee has gone the way of the first, I have 300+ pages of red-penned manuscript to transfer into the original Hal Spacejock 3 file and nothing is getting done while I indulge in these flights of fancy. Suddenly I remember an important fact: Authors write, publicists publicise. FACP employs a dedicated professional publicist, an expert at getting media attention.

Time to fire off an email ;-)

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hal Spacejock Giveaway

Update #3: Although this draw is closed I'm running another one here

Update #2: The draw is now closed. I've listed the second set of 10 winners here

Update #1: I've drawn 10 winners here, and will draw another ten next Sunday.

I just handed in the final draft of Hal 3, and to celebrate I'm giving away TWENTY copies of the first Hal Spacejock book. (Trade Paperback, 393 pages) All you have to do is tell me why you'd like a copy. Saying 'Because it sounds fun' is plenty, and you can quote me on that ;-) (You don't have to register with blogger to post - anon comments are accepted but you should add your name or a nickname to id yourself in case you win.)

Not sure whether you want a copy? Read chapter one online to find out.

Published by FACP, Distributed by Penguin

"Fast, funny, quirky, enthralling comedy adventure"
Tom Holt

This draw is open to all readers of this blog. Each prize includes a signed copy of Hal and worldwide airmail postage. If you already have a copy of Hal Spacejock, you can request Second Course instead

I'll be picking one winner for every ten comments, to a max of ten copies of the book, so it won't hurt your chances if you share a link to the draw

You can also click 'email post' below (see the envelope icon), and specify an address to send it to.

(I forgot to say - you should bookmark this page because I'll be updating it with the selected winners as time goes by. Just right click this link and choose 'Add to bookmarks'. I don't know how long it's going to take me to give the books away, but certainly check back once a week.)

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


This is called shutting the stable door before you've bought a horse. Still, it might motivate me ;-)

Hal 4 home page

Hal 5 home page

See my earlier post - you can still vote which order you'd like to read them in.

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

They put WHAT, WHERE?

I get asked this a lot, so I'll explain:

The Hal Spacejock series is only available in Australia and NZ (for now), although places like and do show copies for exhorbitant prices. Those copies are shipped from Australia by locals.

In Australia and NZ the book is stocked just about everywhere, from Dymocks to Collins to Angus & Robertson, from Borders to independants and just about every airport terminal bookstore including such places as Hamilton Island and Alice Springs. (No kidding - my brother just spotted Hal 2 there.) Whether you'd want to read a book about an incompetent pilot and his hair raising landings before taking to the skies is another matter.

My publisher DOES have distributors in the UK and US, but are holding back stocks while an attempt is made to sell the rights overseas. As you can imagine, a UK publisher would be a lot less interested in a book deal if copies of the book were already sitting on the shelves in that country.

If you live outside Australia/NZ, the cheapest and most reliable way to get hold of Hal 1 or 2 is to order via the Australian Online Bookshop. Not only do they deduct around 20% of the cover price, but for overseas buyers they also remove the 10% sales tax and charge postage at cost (Economy air is the best deal.) The links are here if you're interested: Hal 1 and Hal 2

Anyway, that wasn't why I posted to the blog, but I never let sticking to the point get in the way of a lengthy post.

What I wanted to say is that the Vancouver Public Library (Canada) now has a copy of Hal 2 sitting on the shelf. Don't ask me how it got there, and don't ask me why they didn't start with Hal 1, but if you live in the area you can probably request it as an inter-library loan and read it for free. (You should also request Hal 1, just to even things up.)


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

Damn those forking plots

Early in 2004 I dreamt up a plot for Hal Spacejock 4 involving a large amount of money left to Clunk in a will. (Hence the provisional title - Hal Spacejock Legacy)

The idea was that he'd have to go to great lengths to prove who he was, which would also introduce readers to his forgotten past. There would also be a family who'd inherit if Clunk failed to prove his claim, making them a decent antagonist for the book.

I managed to write about 16,000 words, but unfortunately for Hal 4 (and not for me!) Fremantle Arts Centre Press took on the first three books in the series soon afterwards and all new work ceased while I prepared those for publication.

Despite that, in November last year I participated in Nanowrimo and wrote 50,000 words of 'Hal 4' during the month. I introduced a sub-plot, where Hal and Clunk are hired to transport a concept artist's works across three luxury planets. Clunk is awed by the artist and entranced by his exhibition, and won't hear a bad word against him. Hal is ... Hal, and he thinks art is something you stick on the wall to cover up the stains.

Anyway, the idea grew into a whole series of funny scenes, and there's also a pair of Peace Force officers chasing the criminals responsible for ... but no, that's giving away too much. Suffice it to say I was really getting into a sendup of the whole arty scene.

Then, in December, I stopped work again to rewrite Hal 3.

This morning I glanced over my Hal 4 project in yWriter, and soon realised I had two books in one. (There's a good reason writers should take a rest from their projects. You get a wider view.) I just spent an hour splitting the two plots apart, moving the artist and the Peace Force officers into one book, and the legacy and Clunk's secret past into the other.

My question is, which sounds more intriguing, and which would you rather read first?

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

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mega cool

Planet Fantastic (an SF Bookstore in Perth) just posted a list of the top 50 bestselling authors through their store over the past 12 months.

I'm at equal 35 (with CS Lewis), and if you look at the names below that point you'll see Hal Spacejock 1 & 2 outsold a raft of world famous SF writers. Neat.

Although I'm a local I don't get to that part of town, so it wasn't me ripping the covers off other books or turning mine face out. Credit to the staff though, because I know they mention my book whenever someone is looking for 'something like Red Dwarf or Hitchhiker's guide'

So, here's the list in full:

Planet Fantastic Bestselling Authors (Based on sales from July 2005 to July 2006)

1...Mercedes Lackey
2...Terry Pratchett
3...Neil Gaiman
4...George R. R. Martin
5...David Weber
6...Raymond E. Feist
7...Naomi Novik
8...Alastair Reynolds
9...Peter F. Hamilton
10..Orson Scott Card

11..Stephen King
12..Charles de Lint
13..Stephen Dedman
14..Anne McCaffrey
15..Robert Jordan
16..David Eddings
17..Stephen Baxter
18..Philip K. Dick
19..Richard Morgan
20..Sean Williams

21..John Ringo
22..Terry Goodkind
23..Isaac Asimov
24..Lois McMaster Bujold
25..Arthur C. Clarke
26..Marianne de Pierres
26..Neal Stephenson
27..China Mieville
28..Robin Hobb
29..Elizabeth Moon
30..Dan Simmons

31..Laurell K. Hamilton
31..Shaun Tan
32..David Gemmell
32..Grant Watson
33..Kate Forsyth
34..Fiona McIntosh
35..C. S. Lewis
35. Simon Haynes
36..Alan Dean Foster
36..Garth Nix
37..Robert J. Sawyer
38..Sara Douglass
38..Jasper Fforde
38..Harry Turtledove
39..Katharine Kerr
40..R. A. Salvatore

41..Lee Battersby
42..Iain M. Banks
43..Larry Niven
44..William Gibson
45..Trudi Canavan
45..L. E. Modesit
45..Connie Willis
46..Michael Moorcock
46..Charles Stross
47..John Birmingham
47..Stephen Donaldson
48..Greg Bear
48..John Varley
49..Clive Barker
49..Ray Bradbury
49..Greg Egan
49..Jennifer Fallon
50..Susannah Clarke
50..Robert A. Heinlein
50..Barry Hughart

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


I emailed Miss Snark with a plea for help earlier today, and while it might seem like an odd thing to be asking about I'd still like to know what she thinks.

Background: Books one and two of the Hal Spacejock series have done quite well. The first has just about sold out and is likely to be reprinted RSN, and the second appears to have sold more copies than the first did after a similar amount of time. Distributors are actively pushing the books into schools as something reluctant boys might choose to read. (They're adult books, but fine for ages 14+. In fact, being adult books with the odd smutty double-entendre makes them perfect for reluctant boys. Girls too, I hasten to add, but boys do seem to prefer the zap-pow-crash-bang of SF space opera. As a side note, more than half the email I get about Hal comes from females.)

Anyway, I've handed in book three pending editorial wrangles (in a nice sense - my editor does a great job of highlighting the flaws which I may be blind to) and that's the end of my current contract.

Onto the question: I believe the books have done well enough for my publisher (or another, if FACP aren't interested) to seek more in the series, but I'm not sure about committing to three more. Logically, you want a contract for as many books as possible, e.g. twenty-five, which would keep you writing from here until doomsday. But from a creative point of view you just have to dread any series which loses the sparkle as each book plods onto the market. That's something I won't be party to, whatever the incentives.

When FACP approached me I'd already written 300,000 words across three Hal books. Each was quite different, and while they underwent a heap of editing before they were published, I had those rough drafts I could point to as a kind of comfort blanket. There they were, and they only needed shaping and polishing. (How much shaping and polishing I'll leave for another post. Suffice it to say I have 3 large boxes full of annotated drafts.)

So, facing more Hal books, where do I turn? I wrote about 60% of Hal 4 during NanoWrimo last year, and I'm planning to return to that novel once final edits of Hal 3 are in. I want to write 50,000 words of Hal 5 during NanoWrimo this year (November), so by the time Hal 3 comes out in January 2007 I should have an almost complete Hal 4 and just over half of Hal 5.

By then I'll know whether Hal 6 is a possibility, or whether I'm just treading water. For now, I think if the subject comes up I'll just stall for time.

(Another side note: If you're reading this as a writer trying as hard as possible to get published, all of the above probably sounds like the most ridiculous thing to worry about. I'm not making any apologies - the challenges you'll face are different when you're published, but they're still challenges and they're still worth talking about.)

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

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Well-earned success for friends

This follows on nicely from my post a couple of days ago, where I spoke about the magic ingredients which go into a successful writing career. (That's hard work and persistance, if you weren't paying attention.)

Well, here's proof.

First, Karen Miller's Kingmaker/Kingbreaker duology is a gripping fantasy tale which has been storming bookstores across Australia and NZ. In a very smart move, Orbit Books has snapped up the UK publishing rights and will release the books there in 2007.

Second, and hot on the heels of that announcement, Orbit Books has also signed Glenda Larke's fantasy series 'The Mirage Makers'. This series debuted in Australia recently and has been doing very well by all accounts.

So, well deserved success. And when you hear great things about these authors, don't kid yourself it all happened overnight. Read their blogs and websites, and you'll see years and years of hard work and setbacks. Bet they're not thinking about that now ;-)

It's also a reminder to Australian writers to look in their own backyard. Many Aussies reach out to overseas publishers, thinking their local market isn't worth the bother. On the contrary, a good reception here might very well hasten your move into the UK and US.

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