Monday, May 28, 2007

Hal 3 appears on the 'Page 99 Test'

An interesting blogging concept: Authors are invited to submit the full text of page 99 from their current novel, and to follow it up with a brief essay on the snippet. In their own words:

For the Page 99 Test, I hope to have authors comment on whether Page 99 reveals "the quality of the whole" about their books. We'll try the test on new books, contemporary classics, and a few time-honored books, with recognized experts applying the test to the text.

My effort is here.

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Competition Winners

A big thanks to all who entered the wonderful sets competition, and I really wish I could send everyone a book.

However, there can only be one winner and Rob in Denver was first out of the virtual hat. The prize includes all three Hal books and airmail postage - you'll just have to supply the reading part of it.

Update: I couldn't leave it at that, and so I've picked a second-place winner for a copy of Hal Spacejock: Matt B

To claim your prizes just email me here: spacejock at gmail dt com

Again, thanks to all who entered and please keep an eye out for more chances to win Hal. For example, this one and this one.

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

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wonderful sets

This competition is now closed, but there's another right here

If you've followed my blog for a reasonable amount of time (say, two or three days), you'll know that I occasionally give away copies of my books.

Today is a bit different, because instead of giving away copies to multiple winners, I'm drawing ONE set of Hal Spacejock books 1, 2 and 3.

Yes, that's what three books look like.

The winner will take the lot, and I'll post them anywhere in the world. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me why the whole Hal Spacejock thing appeals to you.

I'll give it a couple of weeks, then draw one winner at random. Good luck!

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

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Death of a character

No, not that kind of death. Nobody gets killed in Hal Spacejock books. They just disappear in a mysterious fashion.

When I submitted the Hal 4 outline to my editor, one of the minor characters was a gruff desk sergeant, semi-retired. You know the type - worldly wise, unflappable, full of useful information and a father figure and guiding light to one of the major characters. He was Roger Murtaugh to Martin Riggs, William of Baskerville to Adso of Melk, and any one of those countless wise older hands which populate books and movies.

In other words, the perfect example of a cliche character.

So there I was last night, writing the scene where my major character returns to HQ and encounters good old Ted, sergeant cliche of the movie tropes squad. And I didn't want to write him in. I just couldn't do it. So, I gave up and played NFS Underground 2 against my kids until the game crashed. (For that I have to thank EA, Intel Dual Core, Microsoft Windows XP and Nvidia.)

Anyway, around 1am I found myself mulling over the Ted problem. The lights were off, the house was quiet and I was supposed to be going to sleep, but I never let minor challenges like oncoming unconsciousness distract me. Instead of coming up with a replacement for Ted I decided I'd introduce a third character, an original one which would be great fun to write. I ran a few conversations in my head, and my new creation held up just fine. A few minutes later I realised this new character had already supplanted staid old Ted: everything Ted could possibly bring to the plot this new character could do better, and with laughs to boot.

So long Ted, and may you live on in Hollywood buddy movies.

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

Thursday, May 03, 2007

7000 down

... 73,000 to go.

Actually, I'm feeling quite good. I mean, apart from having had chronic back pain for the past two weeks AND a sharp pain in my abdomen for which I'm having an ultrasound next week AND a nasty intermittent ear-ache which I only experience when I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night.

But I've still managed to write my 1,000 words a day, which is the important thing. The first two chapters are done, the words are flowing and my writing muscles are getting used to unfamiliar work. As time goes by I'll up the daily count to 2,000, and I still have a load of pre-written scenes which will have to be shoe-horned into the right places and then pounded into shape. Looking good for a first draft by the end of May. (I think I gave myself until the end of June, but time is tight for this book.)

One of the characters has undergone three complete transformations since I first came up with her. Her age and her position have both changed, so all the scenes I wrote with her slightly cynical take on things now have to be rewritten from a younger viewpoint, with a lot less cynicism. Dialogue, thoughts, actions .. it's like changing actors halfway through a film shoot, then having to redo the screenplay because the new person's personality and presence are so different. And in an earlier version she was definitely on the opposite side to Hal, whereas now ...

Of course, some time in the future I'm sure I'll need a cynical older female character, so I can't just delete bits or write over the top of them. First I have to store away every scene, adding to the 700,000 word pile sitting in my 'for future use' folder.

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