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)