Sunday, September 30, 2007

Andromeda Spaceways issue 31

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is now available. Issue 31 features a never before seen interview with fantasy author Robin Hobb (who also writes as Megan Lindholm) alongside fantastic new fiction, poetry, art and non- fiction by new faces and some of our favourite authors gracing our pages once more.

Don’t miss the new instalment in the award winning Red Priest world, brought to you by Dirk Flinthart. Are you having Goblin withdrawal while waiting for Jim Hines latest Jig novel? Get your fix with The Haunting of Jig’s Ear! Delve into the dark depths of award winning author Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ mind in Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist, and check out a topical piece in Sonny Whitelaw’s The Promise. Whether it’s a chuckle, a shiver, a tear to your eye or just a darn good read you’re after, issue 31 will deliver!

Full Contents listing:

The Garden of the Djinn . . . Dirk Flinthart
Wicked View . . . Marie Alafaci
The Promise . . . Sonny Whitelaw
How I Learned to Keep Tidy . . . Matthew Chrulew
Reading the Lines . . . J J Irwin
The Haunting of Jig's Ear . . . Jim C Hines
Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist . . . Shane Jiraiya Cummings
The Neighborly Thing . . . Suzanne Palmer
Sing . . . Mary O R Paddock
Getting the Curse . . . Susan Abel Sullivan


Wayfaring the Space-Time Continuum . . . Davina Aw

Special Features

Interview with Robin Hobb . . . Tehani Wessely
Interview with Alastair Reynolds . . . Edwina Harvey

Visit for more information and ways to order your copy in print or PDF. PDF subscriptions also available at a great price, or get your hands dirty (well, not really but paper does feel so nice!) with a print subscription!

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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ask someone who knows ...

For some weeks now I've been trying to find the right word for the opening sentence in Hal 4. I had 'lying' in a bunk, where I wanted something more like 'slumped' or 'collapsed'. It's been nagging me, and I've had a couple of attempts at it, but tonight I decided to nail it.

So I asked my wife, and as we were testing alternatives my nine-year-old happened by. "Oh, you want 'sprawled'" she said. And kept right on going.

I now dedicate the sprawling first line of Hal 4 to my youngest daughter. Onya lass.

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

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Interview with Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt's novel Blood Engines was released yesterday, and here’s a little Q&A to answer all your burning questions about it:

1) What was your inspiration for writing Blood Engines?

There were multiple inspirations. I’ve been writing stories about the main character, sorcerer Marla Mason, for years, and finally decided it would be tremendous fun to write a whole novel about her. The novel is also something of a love song to San Francisco, and I had a lot of fun exploring that city and its history. Plus, I’ve always been fascinated by Aztec mythology, so it was enjoyable to write a novel where the villain is a devotee of those bloody old gods. I managed to work in various other fascinations and obsessions, too: poison dart frogs, hummingbirds, Emperor Joshua Norton, snake gods, sex parties, oracles, and other nice things.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

Stephen King is probably the biggest influence — I started reading his novels when I was eight years old! Charles de Lint and Jonathan Carroll are also huge influences. These days I like George R.R. Martin and Scott Lynch a lot.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

While I enjoy reading some mimetic fiction, I get bored in my own writing if there are no gods, monsters, or miracles. I especially like contemporary fantasy, because I like the tension created by the juxtaposition of the familiar with the magical.

4) Why did you decide to make Marla the chief sorcerer of her own city?

In the early stories I wrote about her, Marla was dangerous because she had power without focus. In order to make her more vulnerable and sympathetic, I wanted to give her something to lose. Thus, I made her responsible for the well-being of her own city. The responsibility puts tremendous stress on her, but it also gives her a profound sense of purpose.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I like to cook, read, play video games, spend time with my family and friends, take walks to the lake or the farmer’s market, and see movies. The usual things.

6) What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

For this book I read a lot about Aztec mythology (The Codex Chimalpopoca is no beach read, either, I’m telling you), and wound up reading a fair bit about San Francisco’s history, too (I would especially recommend Tom Cole’s A Short History of San Francisco — it’s smart, accessible, and, well, short.) The only preparation I do for writing is making sure I’m sufficiently caffeinated.

7) Marla loves kicking ass. Is that your favorite thing too?

I haven’t been in a fight since junior high. I’d rather have a war of words than fists anyway.

8) What are you writing now?

I’m working on the fourth book in the Marla Mason series, Grift Sense — having already written book 2, Poison Sleep, and book 3, Dead Reign. The books are being released six months apart, so getting all the books written in time is sort of a marathon that’s also a sprint, and sprinting a marathon? That’s hard on the system. But I’m still having tons of fun.

9) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember. (I wanted to be other things, too — an actor, a rock star, an artist, a chef.) But writing was always there, and I’ve been doing it steadily since at least third grade. (I think learning to write in cursive was a turning point for me!) As for how I got where I am now… sheer persistence. I write, I send stuff out, I write some more. Writing, at this point, is as necessary and familiar as eating and sleeping.

10) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

I have no typical day. I have one day a week off from my day job — Wednesdays — and tend to do most of my writing then. In the morning I spend a couple of hours doing freelance non-fiction work. Then I have lunch, take a walk, think about my story, and come home and write fiction for a few hours. Though if I’m up against a deadline, I just write pretty much every chance I get — before work, after work, on lunch breaks, late at night.

11) Where do you write?

Mostly at my desk in my office, which is in fact a tiny little nook just off the kitchen. If I’m feeling stir-crazy I’ll walk down to a cafe and write longhand there.

12) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

I like writing first drafts, because that’s where the fun and excitement is, though in truth I’ve started to really enjoy revision in recent years — it’s not the white heat of creation, but it’s a fun and challenging exercise in craft. As for what’s hardest… all the business stuff. Copyedits. Proofreading a book I’ve already read ten times and am thoroughly sick of looking at.

13) What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

I’m not sure SF/Fantasy has a particular purpose that’s different from the purpose(s) of all literature, which are variously to edify, to entertain, and to illuminate the human condition. Though if pressed I might just quote G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be defeated.”

Tim Pratt's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and other nice places, and have been nominated for Nebula and Hugo awards. Some of his short work is gathered in two collections: Little Gods, and Hart & Boot & Other Stories. His first novel, The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, was a 2006 Mythopoeic Award finalist. His Marla Mason series of urban fantasy novels, written under the name T.A. Pratt, begin in October 2006 with Blood Engines, and continue for (at least) three volumes after that. He lives in Oakland California.

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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Interview with Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough's first novel, WebMage, a fantasy-cyberpunk hybrid, was released by ACE books July 25th 2006. It has now been joined by a sequel, CyberMancy.

Kelly is a fellow member of sfnovelists, and I'm happy to present an interview with him for your reading pleasure:

1) What was your inspiration for writing Cybermancy?

There are a number of reasons I wanted to write this. First, I wanted to write something else in the WebMage universe (this was before WebMage sold) because I really like hanging out with these fun, funny characters, and I love the world. Second, there was unfinished business left over from WebMage, most notably Shara's injury/death which happens off screen. Finally, and maybe most important for the arc of this book, the Persephone myth has always made me terribly angry. Here is a young goddess who is condemned to be eternally bound to her abductor and rapist, Hades the god of the dead. It's appalling and the injustice of it something that I found that I really wanted to write about.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

I was raised on Tolkien and Asimov and Shakespeare, and I still love them all, particularly the Lord of the Rings, Richard III and a Midsummer Night's Dream. I discovered Roger Zelazney and H. Beam Piper when I was a little older, and Zelazney is certainly one of my strongest influences. My favorite writer as a writer myself is probably Tim Powers. I always learn something when I reread him.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

The fact that the genre puts no limits on my creativity. What I'm most drawn to as a writer is world. I love to invent whole worlds with their own internal logic and rules, and realistcally where else do you have to scope to do that? I also love both as a reader and a writer the sense of being taken completely out of the here and now.

4) Why did you decide to make Ravirn a hacker/sorcerer?

I started the WebMage series from the idea of a magical internet that tied worlds together like webpages and used code for spells. If I wanted to really explore that concept in depth I needed someone who could do more than just use the magical equivalent of web-browser, I needed someone who really understood how the coding worked. That meant a hacker and in the context of the world I was writing, that automatically made him a sorcerer too.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

Well, writing really is near the top of my list for play as well as being my job. I really enjoy sitting down to work every day. But I also love walking and biking with my wife. I'm an avid videogamer, mostly role-playing stuff like Final Fantasy, but also puzzle games and stuff like Ratchet and Clank, all of which I play with my wife. Like most writers, I'm an avid reader, though more non-fiction than fiction these days.

6) What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of
preparation do you do when you are writing?

I didn't need to do an enormous amount of new research for Cybermancy, since it's the second book in a series. I did do a refresher on my general Greek Mythology and especially on the details of Hades and the Persephone story. I also have to constantly update my computer knowledge base, but that's just part of my ongoing non-fiction reading. I really do more general research than I do specific stuff for any given book. As a part of being a writer I try to have at least a couple of serious non-fiction books going along with keeping up general and scientific news. That's probably a good two hours of every day, often more and part of what I think of as my job.

7) Ravirn loves hacking and cracking. Is that your favorite activity too?

Actually no, I'm aware of programming and hacking (my mother's a computer geek as are a number of my close friends), but I've never been much interested in the mechanics of how my computer works.

8) In Cybermancy, Ravirn finds himself breaking into Hades to bring back a dead friend in the mode of Orpheus. How do you put yourslef in situations like that as a writer to try to make them believable?

It's tough sometimes. Ravirn is stronger faster and more durable than I am. Many of the things he attempts would pretty much kill me. On the other hand, since he's a figment of my imagination and hence only a part of me, I like to think I'm smarter. I also get to manipulate the world he lives in to make things harder or easier as seems appropriate. The other thing to remember is that believable and real are not necessarily the same things. There are all sorts of things that happen in fantastic fiction that are completely unreal but believable in the context of the imagined world. There's a shorter answer and maybe I should have given this first: I really like playing make-believe.

9) What are you writing now?

Two things actively, with a third hovering off to one side. My main project is MythOS which is the fourth book in the WebMage series and will be out in 2009. I'm also writing the first book in a new contemporary fantasy series. I was really inspired by a recent trip to Halifax and this book is the result of that trip. I'm trying to get the first three chapters down while the experience is still fresh. It's kind of a reward. Once I've got my WebMage done for the day (never less than 1,000 words) it's kind of fun to play with some other characters. I've also got the second book in YA fantasy set in World War II that I've been playing with. The first book went to my agent a few months ago, and I really love the idea, but I promised myself not to start until I've finished MythOS.

10) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

No. If you'd asked me what I wanted to be when I was between the age of 11-22 I'd have said an actor or a stunt man or maybe set designer. My degree is theater and I grew up on and around the stage. But then I met the woman who I would later marry and realized that between the hours and the travel, theater wasn't entirely compatible with having a happy home life. At about that same time I got my first computer. One day I was kind of trying to figure out what I could do with my life if I gave up theater, and it occurred to me that it might be fun to writer a novel. So I did. I'm no working on 12th and 13th and I've never looked back.

11) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

On a good day I get up around 8:00, hop on the treadmill and use my laptop to read the news while I put in 3-5 miles. Then breakfast and a shower and off to my office for 5-8 hours of writing time. I do that five days a week with occasional variations for research days, editing, dealing with promotion, that kind of thing.

12) Where do you write?

In summer I work in a second floor screen porch overlooking a really lovely park in the small town where I live. In winter I sit in our south-facing TV room and soak up the sunshine reflecting off the wood floors. That's the routine, but I'll write anywhere and have, including tucked into a corner at the Air and Space Museum in D.C., on planes, in coffee shops, etc. My real office is my laptop.

13) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

The easiest thing is world. My brain is really wired to create large-scale magical systems and the historical structures that go with them. Hardest is character. I'm not a natural character writer and I've really worked hard to get where I am with it.

14) This isn't your first book, tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

Right now, it's really only WebMage and some short stories in various magazines and anthologies-a couple of those are available for free reads at my website, I've also got a collection of hard science fiction short stories in an illustrated collection called Chronicles of the Wandering Star, but that only available to teachers since it's part of a middle-school science curriculum. The funny thing about that is that since it's in a number of large school systems, probably more people have read that than all my other stuff combined despite the fact that you can't really buy it.

15) What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

Two things really. One is true of both F&SF and Fantasy, the other is true of SF alone. The first, to carry us out of ourselves. I think one of the greatest services fiction does is to allow you to be someone else someplace else for a while. It allows you to transcend the day-to-day and that's really important for the human psyche. The second, to explicate and advocate reason and science. The methodology that
is science is one of humanity's most powerful tools and SF is the fiction of science. It can both generate a sense of wonder in the reader about subjects scientific and put those same subjects into story which can help a reader make sense of the ideas.

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

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Interview with Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is a fellow sfnovelist author, and her new novel SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL is set to hit stores from today. (How can you go wrong with a librarian witch?!)

Mindy was kind enough to post responses to a set of interview questions, and I've included them below. Enjoy!

1) What was your inspiration for writing SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL?

When I wrote GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, my theme song should have been "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". That book was completely light and fluffy, a fun escape from a busy work week, family commitments, etc. When I had the opportunity to write another Jane Madison story, I wanted to dig a little deeper - to look at the decisions that we make with regard to friends and jobs, the tough calls that force us to decide what is important to us. (I wasn't willing to give up on the fun, though :-) )

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

When I was growing up, I read a lot of classic fantasy - J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Anne McCaffrey?. I devoured Patricia McKillip?'s books, and I practically memorized every word of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series.

Now, I read much more broadly, alternating between genre fiction for fun (my favorites in the past year have been Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES/PRETTIES/SPECIALS trilogy) and literary fiction for musing(most recently, Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN). I also read a lot of non-fiction, especially popular non-fiction on narrow topics, like COD and SALT.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

I've always enjoyed the sense of possibility in speculative fiction, the ability to explore other ways of thinking, other ways of being. Even as my own writing has shifted from classic fantasy (SEASON OF SACRIFICE and the Glasswright Series) to paranormal romance, I've continued to draw on the Sense of Wonder that first addicted me to reading.

4) Why did you decide to make Jane Madison a librarian?

I work as a librarian in my day-job, managing seven libraries for a fourteen-office nationwide law firm. In the course of that job, I've met hundreds of librarians who live fascinating lives. Yet, in the eyes of the public, librarians are still the people who say "shhhhh". I wanted to write about Jane Madison to make people realize that there's a lot more out there beyond the stereotype.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I spend a lot of time watching baseball - I married into Red Sox fandom. To justify the time I spend in front of the television, I quilt - entirely hand-pieced and hand-quilted wall hangings, with a bias toward traditional patchwork patterns.

6) What sort of research did you do to write this book?/What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

When I start a novel, I create a spreadsheet. One column lists, in a few sentences, what happens in each chapter. The other columns track the number of pages, the number of words, and the date that the chapter was last modified.

When I'm ready to start writing, I just roll up my sleeves and go. I conduct a fair amount of spot research as I'm working. My characters tend to be much more fashion conscious than I am; I often need to check the name of a designer or a color of make-up. I also find myself regularly tracking down the qualities of various crystals and plants -- the essential "props" for Jane's witchcraft.

7) Jane and her best friend, Melissa, quote Shakespeare to each other frequently. Are you a fan of Shakespeare?

For years, I've held season tickets to the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, D.C. They do a phenomenal job with their productions -- even when the plays are not my favorite (and they present a wide range of classical theater, not just Shakespeare), their sets, costumes, and lighting design are spectacular. I used to stage manage plays in college, and Jane's love of Shakespeare brings that avocation back to me.

8) If you were Jane Madison, and you discovered that you were a witch, what would you do?

I probably wouldn't handle the situation a whole lot more gracefully than Jane does. She reaches out to her best friend right away. I would probably try to keep my powers a secret for as long as possible, because I'd always sort of worry, in the very back of my mind, that I was absolutely, totally, completely insane.

9) What are you writing now?

I'm hard at work on the third novel in Jane's series, MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL (which will be in bookstores in October 2008). After that, I have a new series for Red Dress Ink, about a stage manager who discovers a genie in a magic lantern.

10) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

When I was in seventh grade, my best friend and I decided that we would spend our spring break writing a sequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS. (Oddly enough, we didn't get it finished in nine days.) I learned, though, that I loved creating characters, building their personalities and then tossing them into challenging situations. I wrote off and on all through high school but fell away from writing in college. When I started law school, though, I was desperate for something to balance the dry cases that I was reading. I wrote my first published novel while I was working as a trademark and copyright litigator at a major law firm. Eventually, I quit practicing law to become a librarian (in part, so that I would have more time to write!)

11) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

In a perfect world, I wake up each morning at 6:00, work out until 7:00, write until 8:00, then eat breakfast, shower, and get ready for work. (I have to be in the office by 9:30.)

In the real world, I travel a lot for my day-job, and publicity and promotion tend to sponge up my weekly writing time. I usually set aside one or both days of the weekend to write for three or four straight hours. When deadlines are approaching, I forfeit a week of vacation from the day-job, using the nine days (work-week, plus two weekends) to pound out around 35,000 words (approximately a third of a novel.)

12) Where do you write?

I have a home office on the ground floor of my three-story townhouse. I sit at a desk that I bought at IKEA about 15 years ago; it looks like leftover hardware from the space shuttle, but it has the best ergonomics of any computer desk I've ever used. I use a five-year-old Dell desktop computer, running Windows XP, and I write using WordPerfect? 10. I keep an Excel spreadsheet to track my story outline.

(When I'm traveling, all bets are off - I write on a hotel bed, on a couch, on a chaise lounge, wherever I can find a surface to balance the laptop I'm using -- which might be my own, a friend's, or a loaner.)

13) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

I have a very difficult time starting a new chapter - the blank screen intimidates me, and I find a hundred and one excuses to keep from writing. (I have forbidden myself from playing FreeCell?, and I had to remove Tetris from my computer entirely.)

I love editing chapters that are already drafted - I truly enjoy reviewing the flow of the language. On my final pass of editing, I read everything out loud, so that I can make sure the sound is as close to perfect as I can make it.

14) This isn't your first book, tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

I have six traditional fantasy novels - SEASON OF SACRIFICE (a stand-alone novel about twins who are kidnapped from their medieval fishing village and taken to an inland town, where they are expected to participate in a terrifying religious ceremony) and the Glasswrights Series (GLASSWRIGHTS' APPRENTICE, GLASSWRIGHTS' PROGRESS, GLASSWRIGHTS' JOURNEYMAN, GLASSWRIGHTS' TEST, and GLASSWRIGHTS' MASTER.) The series tells the story of Rani Trader, an apprentice in the stained glass makers' guild who witnesses a murder and is accused of being the killer. She's forced to go under cover in her society's strict castes to unmask the true assassin.

I also have one other paranormal romance, the first of Jane Madison's stories, GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT. It's about a librarian who finds out that she's a witch. But you probably knew that already :-)

15) What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?

Different genre publications have different purposes. Some are truly written to entertain, to take us away from the cares and worries of our daily lives. Others are written as cautionary tales, to warn us about the dangers of politics, of science, of society, of whatever. Still others are written as elegies, reminding us of great men and woman, of leaders who may have never lived. The best genre fiction combines many (or all) of these functions.

Part of the purpose of the Jane Madison books is to raise money for First Book - - a national charity with the mission of giving underprivileged children their first books to own. I donate 10% of my profits on both GIRL'S GUIDE and SORCERY to First Book.

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

Friday, September 21, 2007

Day out

I dashed out for a 10k bike ride this morning, just to clear my head before carrying on with the novel polishing. Spring is a beautiful time of year in Western Australia, and it's a pity it's so short. (Only lasts a few weeks before we hit the long and very hot summer.)

Anyway, I snapped a couple of pics over the handlebars on the mobile phone. I also took a couple of brief clips with a load of bird song (more like feral screams, really) and I might put them online another time. Really have to get back to the novel.

(And if you thought WA was one big red desert with tin shacks, these images should change your mind ...)

Near Riverton Bridge

Looking across the water at Riverton Bridge

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

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Auto Summary meme

Here's the deal: Open your novel or WIP in Word 97 or later and click AutoSummarize. Change the options to 'create a new doc and put the summary there' and '100 words or less', then paste the result into your blog with these instructions. (This meme was my own stupid idea, btw.)

Here's the result from the first Hal book, where he sounds like a bit part in an 80's text adventure:

Hal Spacejock

Hal shrugged. Hal sighed. Hal sighed. Hal nodded. Hal blinked. Hal frowned. 'Clunk! Hal frowned. Hal frowned. Hal nodded. Hal grinned. Hal shrugged. Hal sighed. 'Clunk? Hal blinked. Hal nodded. Hal sighed. Hal sighed. Hal frowned. Hal nodded.
Hal nodded. Hal nudged Clunk. Hal waited. Hal frowned. 'Clunk? Hal shrugged. Hal shrugged. Hal frowned. Hal nodded. Hal nodded.
Hal sighed. Hal nodded. Hal frowned. Hal pointed. Hal grinned. Hal frowned. Hal groaned. Clunk! Hal sighed. 'Clunk? Hal groaned. Hal frowned. Hal nodded. Hal stared. Hal grinned. Hal grinned. Hal frowned. Hal smiled. Hal grinned. Hal grinned.

After all that I'm surprised his head hasn't dropped off. But hey, at least ol' Clunk got a mention.

And just for a real laugh, my Word Verification for this post was bashsf. Indeed!

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ventus by Karl Schroeder

To celebrate the publication of Queen of Candesce, SF author Karl Schroeder has just released his first novel, Ventus (TOR, 2001), as a free ebook.

More details and the download links can be found on his blog post.

And here's why you should take a look, other than 'Simon Says':

New York Times Book Review: "Deeply Satisfying"

Kirkus Reviews: "Delightful and engaging, both intellectually and viscerally: a superb achievement."

You'll find more reviews if you follow the link.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Going the other way

The Grumpy Old Bookman recently posted a snippet about Siobhan Curham, mentioning that this multi-published author (four books with HarperCollins and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK) is turning to self-publishing for her latest work.

Here's a quote from her new Facebook group: I think the deciding factor for me in taking the self-publishing route was when an editor suggested I write something more formulaic as "it would be easier to sell to the supermarkets."

Now, I went through the self-publishing process several years ago*, and I have to say the hardest part was getting the books into readers' hands. Shops really don't want them, your work is lumped in with every other self-pubbed novel and opening your mouth in a mailing list or forum is a sure-fire way to start off the usual self-pub vs traditional publishing arguments.

I always believed that if you proved your ability first, maybe with short fiction sales to legit markets, then self-publishing could make sense. Therefore I'll be watching Siobhan Curham's progress with interest.

Also on self-publishing, but in a completely different way, Tansy Rayner Roberts has started putting the third Mocklore novel online chapter by chapter. A few years ago a publisher put the first two Mocklore books out, but for one reason or another they never got to the third. Full details and Tansy's comments are here.

* My publisher always likes me to clarify this: Although I self-published once, my current novels are not self-published.

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

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chat transcript

I did a live chat with members of "The Writers' Association" back in 2005, before Hal Spacejock was first launched. Adam Wieland was present at the time, and he's just posted the transcript on his blog.

The chat covered a few topics, from publishing to editing and several other things unrelated to either. Pop over and take a look, and if you have any questions feel free to post them here!

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

Career meme

Nicked from Anysia

1. Go to
2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark
3. Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.
4. Post the top fifteen results

Here's what I came up with:

1. Computer Engineer
2. Research Analyst (Financial)
3. Retail Buyer
4. Computer Programmer
5. Technical Writer
6. Media Buyer
7. Purchaser
8. Electrical Engineer
9. Multimedia Developer
10. Mechanical Engineer
11. Aerospace Engineer
12. Advertising Copywriter
13. Business Systems Analyst
14. Communications Specialist
15. Writer

The amazing thing is that I've done most of those for a living or as part of my regular day job. (All except 11, and given I write SF that's kinda sorta covered by the spaceships I design for my novels.)

I'd really love to do more of #12 - and funnily enough, a couple of weeks ago I had an email from a retired Madison Ave copywriter who'd just read through my website and reckoned I should be doing copywriting full time. Not the first time I've heard that, by any means. But how do you get into such a job when you live in the most remote capital city on the planet?

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Much happiness

After the brief phone call with my editor yesterday morning I was expecting the worst when I went to see her today. (She was noncommittal on the phone, which I took as a very bad sign. Well, I never said I was a confident writer did I?)

Turns out she loved the plot (best so far, yes!), loved the new characters and loved the way Hal showed a new side. Suddenly I'm full of confidence again after a damn near sleepless night, and I know I can nail this thing.

On the minus side, she pointed out that the first 100 pages need a lot of tightening and there's no real humour. Neither bothers me - I'd already flagged the beginning as too slow and I have up to 20,000 words of snippage available to me. As for the humour, I usually add that during the polishing stage, when the draft is almost there. (If this seems a bit mechanical ... well, I never claimed to be an ad-libbing comedian either.)

So, good news on all fronts. I have about three weeks to lose the verbiage and address all the other queries and issues Janet raised, and then I'll send out the final draft to my first readers. After I've selected them ;-)

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

ASIM well received

I'm off to meet my editor to discuss Hal 4. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, let me leave you with some reading material. Horrorscope reviews ASIM #30:

"ASIM celebrates five years of continuous publication with one of its strongest and most even issues to date. Issue editor Robbie Matthews recaptures the magazine’s initial intentions for fun, entertaining speculative fiction with nine new stories that are light in tone but rich in story. The fiction here is ASIM at its very best: with stories written with entertainment in mind that don’t fall into the common trappings of cheap gags or preachy morals (a common fault of some stories in past issues). The end result is a collection of fun bedside tales and the perfect anti-dote for all those serious sci-fi warnings of doom and gloom."

Read the full review

1. Remember you can order the print or pdf editions online.

2. Do so.

3. You can also order our best-of-ASIM collections.

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

Monday, September 10, 2007

Murky Depths first look

Issue one of UK magazine Murky Depths lobbed into my mailbox recently, and I have to say it's one of the best-looking mags I've had the pleasure of laying my hands on. (The cover warns of 'Mature Content', so the link isn't for younger readers.)

As most of you probably know, I'm a founding member of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine where the design ethos was cheap 'n' pulpy. Well, the Murky Depths team has taken the opposite approach, and their art-laden mag with its heavy gloss paper is something to behold.

But never mind the quality, what about the contents?

I'm happy to say they measure up to the presentation. Many of the pieces are either heavily illustrated or are presented in graphic novel format. (Calling them 'comics' doesn't fit, not with the dark horror throughout.) Evocative and thought-provoking, I think MD is a great addition to the ranks of spec fic publications.

Fans of grim, bloodthirsty spec fic should definitely check this one out.

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

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Someone's reading this stuff

... or at least, linking to it. Kathryn Linge just posted a top-ten list of Australian spec-fic blogs, and my blog came in at number 6.

Thanks to everyone who's linked to one of my posts or shared my blog with their own readers, because you're the reason this blog made the list. Let's face it, it certainly wasn't my toast posts or TV rants ;-)

(I just noticed my LiveJournal blog came in at #17. What can I say ... I'm a net addict.)

Thanks to Kathryn for posting the list - looks like a lot of work, but it was interesting to see a regional take on blog popularity.

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

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I don't even remember how I ended up on Facebook, but invites are trickling in and I'm happy to add anyone reading this. You'll find my Facebook profile here.

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

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another funny series

You've heard me talking about Hal Spacejock often enough, but there's another series you should be looking out for, buying and reading: Jim C. Hines' Goblin Quest. I read the first book and it's a hoot, so when I discovered Jim was giving away signed copies I had to mention it. Head over to his blog for details.

The other thing I'd like to mention is that I'm running a giveway of my own. I draw signed copies of the Hal Spacejock books every month, your choice of 1-3, and the September draw will take place soon.

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

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Python Time

Those who saw my recent 'believe it or not' probably won't be surprised by this, but did you know I've never seen an entire episode of Monty Python? My only exposure was the Flying Circus cassette the BBC put out in the late 70's, which I wore out with repeat listenings. Oh, and the films of course.

Anyway, the 16 ton megaset lobbed into my mailbox today. It's all 45 episodes plus a couple of bonus disks, and that should be interesting. I didn't buy this for myself, though - this one's because my eldest daughter asked for it.

Over the weekend I watched season 1 of Angel, which was fun. I also spent the past three days - 9am until 10pm daily - spring cleaning the garage, putting up hooks & shelves and generally being the spiders' worst enemy. We moved into this place just on ten years ago, and let's just say the garage needed a thorough sorting out.

For the past two nights, following garage cleaning duties, I've been up until 1am sorting buckets of odds and ends into trays - thousands of mixed screws, nuts, doohickies, widgets and thingummies - and simultaneously watching a bunch of episodes from season 1 of Auf Wiedersehen Pet.

As for Hal 4: I'm not even thinking about it. My editor is hoping to get the report back to me Friday week, and when I re-read it I want to approach it completely fresh. Or rather, I'll be so sick of tidying up that re-reading a 100,000 word manuscript for the umpteenth time will be a nice break.

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

Monday, September 03, 2007

More bureaucracy

Second prize for ineffective mailouts goes to the insurance company. Last week I phoned company X to say I'd switched to insurance firm Y, and today I got two letters from company X: a late payment notice in one envelope, and a credit note for the identical amount in the other.

But first prize goes to a Rather Large Phone Company (RLPC), and you'll need a little background for this one: Ten years ago we combined our home phone and two mobiles onto the same bill, thus saving a tiny amount of money and a whole lot of separate payments. Over time I moved my mobile to prepaid (never use it anyway), and the home phone to another provider. With me so far? Simple math will tell you that my wife's mobile was all that remained on this bill.

Recently, my wife and I agreed that our eldest daughter should have a mobile, and while my wife was out shopping she found a really good prepaid deal, including a very nice phone. So, she bought two of them - one for our daughter, and one for herself. Note that this was NOT with RLPC.

Now comes the fun bit. She took her old phone into a RLPC shop to cancel it, but they said they couldn't because it was on a joint bill in my name. All they could do was apply to have the phone removed from the joint bill, and once that went through we could then cancel the phone. With a bit of a shrug, my wife said okay.

Two weeks later we cut the phone off, and a week after that I get a bill for two weeks of network usage. Now, we'd already paid three months up front (until the end of September) before going to cut the thing off, so I was surprised to say the least. I dug out the old bill, and with both in hand I phoned RLPC mobile. Here's how it went:

Me: I have a query about a bill.
Them: Give us the account number.
Me: (New account num)
Them: I'm sorry, that's been cancelled.
Me: Yes, I know. But I have a bill here for $12.
Them: You need to pay it.
Me: But on this other bill for the same phone I have a credit for $50.
Them: What's the account number for that one?
Me: (Other account num)
Them: I'm sorry, that's a joint billing account. Would you like me to put you through?
Me: Sigh. Okay.
(Purr purr, lots of ads for their broadband accounts, then finally I hear someone on the line)
Me: I have this bill for $12 but you owe me $50.
Them: What's the account number?
Me: (1st account num)
Them: I'm sorry, that's a mobile bill. You'll have to speak to mobile.
Me: But I was just speaking to mobile and they put me through to you.
Them: That's because you said it was a joint account.
Me: It IS a joint account. (Gives joint account number) You see, mobile X was on that account but they wouldn't let us cancel it. So, we moved it off the account.
Them: The mobile number you gave me isn't on that joint account.
Me: Yes, I know that. We just moved it off so we could cancel it. There's NOTHING on the joint account. But you're trying to bill me for the mobile number on a new account and I still have a credit on the joint account.
Them: What's the new account?
Me: (1st account num)
Them: I'm sorry, I can't look at mobile phone bills.
Me: But you own me fifty bucks, and the guy on the other line wants me to pay $12. Wouldn't it be easier if you just offset them and paid me the difference?
Them: I'm sorry, that's a mobile bill. This is joint billing.
Me: But you're the same company!
Them: I'm sorry. Would you like me to put you through to mobile?
Me: Aaarrgghhhh!

So, I've paid the $12 on the new bill and I await my $50 credit with interest. So to speak.

(And just for completeness, this is the same company who messed me around with a 99c bill and a 1c credit for an internet account last week.)

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