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 And with your added experience you'll be able to spot the flaws in those unpublished works.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)