Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Easy way to keep up to date

I'm not sure how many of you have seen iGoogle, but those of you running it will know you can add handy little applets, jokes and news to your home page.

Anyway, the point is I've set up links to the Andromeda Spaceways, Hal Spacejock and Spacejock Software news. Just click the buttons below to add a summary widget to your iGoogle page. (It's just as easy to remove them again, btw.)

Andromeda Spaceways: Add to Google

Spacejock Software: Add to Google

Hal Spacejock: Add to Google

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

Monday, February 18, 2008

Diary of a book release

I've covered plotting, writing and editing novels in detail, but I don't think I've blogged much about the process leading up to the launch. That is, from the minute you hand your baby over to the publisher until the day it, er, graduates.

So, I thought I'd start blogging about the process. It might only be two blog posts or it might be a whole series of them - that depends on how much I'm involved this time around. (And let me tell you, with the first book you're so involved the publishers start thinking they've employed you around the office.)

Anyway, the launch date for Hal 4 is June the second, and it's now mid-February. That gives me three months to cover, and we'll see how it goes.

Fremantle Press has a new publicist, Claire, after Scott was whisked away to New York for involvement in the film industry. So, best wishes to Scott ... and good luck to Claire ;-) I got an email from her the other day, and we're going to meet up to discuss publicity ideas soon.

And speaking of promo, I was pleased to get an email from a public library in Victoria. They like the Hal books and were writing to ask for posters and/or bookmarks to promote them. I already like their library and I've never been there. So, I fired an email off to Claire about posters and I packed up some bookmarks to send off.

Claire also got in touch asking whether I could present at a local writers festival (school age), which sounds interesting. I've said yes, so we'll see where that leads.

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hal Spacejock February Draw

Notification emails are on their way - if you think you're in the draw and you don't get an email, then your ISP is blocking me or your submitted email address is incorrect.

Remember, you can enter the draw here. Duplicates are fine, as are new entries with your replacement email address.

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

New book reviews online

No, not mine. There's a batch of new book reviews up at Andromeda Spaceways. Enjoy!

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

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Andromeda Spaceways Issue 32

Please feel free to distribute as widely as you can! Every bit of publicity helps the mag, and the mag ONLY exists to help new and established writers.

Also, when you buy a PDF copy of ASIM please be aware you're actually downloading your copy from the server in my office, right next to where I'm busy working on the next Hal Spacejock novel. Doesn't that give you a thrill? (If so, you really need to get out more.)

-- Andromeda Spaceways Press Release --

What are you giving your loved one this Valentine’s Day? Flowers and chocolates are so passé for the keen speculative fiction reader! Why not offer your sweetie the delectable Andromeda Spaceways #32 instead? When ingested by the eyes, doesn't hang around the thighs! What better gift could there be?!

Available for devouring in print and PDF right now, issue 32 - edited by Monissa Whiteley - has a firm outer coating by the delicious Dan Skinner, and mouth-watering insides from scrumptious authors such as Brian Dolton, Ian Nichols, Dave Luckett and Karen Maric. Other goodies are served up by D Gellen and M Owton, Damon Kaswell, Eugenie Edquist and Kent Purvis. To really put the icing on the cake, Tansy Rayner Roberts interviews the yummy Justine Larbalestier about her writing and Simon Petrie gives us a "Little Nut Tree".

ASIM #32 is available to purchase in print and PDF at www.andromedaspaceways.com and in specialty bookshops around Australia including our newest supplier, Gleebooks at Blackheath in the NSW Blue Mountains. You can also get a print or PDF subscription to ASIM online.

Go on, give your loved one what they REALLY want!

-- End Press Release --

Better dash, my server is making strange noises under the sudden load.

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

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Software Update

A few updates on my free software ...

Sonar 3 was released as a beta a week ago, and so far I've not had any bug reports. It must be broken somewhere, so it might be time for me to announce the beta on spacejock.com

I'm in the middle of converting BookDB3, my home library software, to dotnet. It's running, including using the new xml database format, but the user interface needs a fair bit of work and for some reason drag/drop on my laptop touchpad just stopped working - but only in two programs.

I also turned to yWriter 4 and added a few features. First, project-wide notes so you can stick random bits of information into the program. There's a tab to the right of the scene listing, and when you click Notes the scene list vanishes and you get the note list instead. These features will be in the next release.

Second, yWriter has had a spell checker since version 3, but I keep getting emails asking me to add one. So, I've added a menu entry which downloads the dictionary, unpacks it to the right place, then unhides the spell checker menu items. I don't include the dictionary because it's not mine to distribute.

yMail is another app I've been tweaking. (It's an offline mail reader like Outlook Express, one which I first starting working on in 2003.) I've vastly improved the local file caching, making it a lot quicker, and I've also added a spell checker for mail composition. I've also built a response system which allows you to build canned responses to many questions (e.g. the answer to 'Will you add a spell checker to yWriter?'), and the feature is intelligent enough to scan the incoming question and pick the closest reply. Very handy for customer support, and it's helping with my backlog.

The other app I've been tidying up is yEdit. It's a text editor where you specify a word count (e.g. 500) and then start typing. The status bar shows how many words to go, which is a boon for people trying to write X words in a session.

By the way, I installed Ubuntu on my main desktop PC yesterday. Carved out a 10 gig partition and installed the thing in an hour or so, including all the updates and the essential installer from getautomatix.com. Then I set up compiz and, quite frankly, was stunned. Holding the middle mouse down and shifting the mouse left and right sticks your current desktop onto a big 3d cube, zooms out, and allows you to rotate to any of your other desktops. (Ubuntu has 4 by default, but I set up 8 for the fun of it.) Then, for amusement, I ran two AVI files in each desktop window and rotated the cube. The movies kept playing, and it was something to see.

Anyway, back to my software (but still on Linux.) I used automatix to install wine, and then installed BookDB, yMail, yWriter and yGen in rapid succession. Every one of them by double-clicking the exe file in Linux, and every one installed and ran perfectly. I got desktop shortcuts, a start menu entry for each, and all the features worked including installing updates over the net. The last time I tried Wine I spent two weeks frigging around with .config and reg files, so this was some eye-opener.

I'll repeat that ... install Ubuntu Linux, install Wine, and my apps all run without a hitch. Neat.

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

Friday, February 08, 2008

Hal 4 release date announced

Unfortunately the Australian release of Hal Spacejock 4: No Free Lunch has been pushed back to the 2nd of June 2008. I know a lot of you are keen to get your hands on this new book, and I apologise for the delay.

To whet your appetite I've put a completely unauthorise mockup of the cover online, without any permission whatsoever.

If they sue, arrest or chide me severely I'll blame you lot.

It's also time for another giveaway of the first book in the series. I'll do a draw in the next day or so, and you're welcome to share the contest link with friends/coworkers/family and also editors at UK and US publishers seeking a funny, ongoing SF series for their list ;-) (My agent is still shopping the series around, but these things take time.)

The link to the contest page is here. Duplicates are discarded automatically, so you're welcome to go ahead and submit again if you can't remember whether you entered or not.

I'm expecting at least three* entries this time, so have at it.

* a slight understatement.

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

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Interview with Paul Melko

Fellow SFNovelist Paul Melko has a novel coming out tomorrow, and this is his chance to tell you why you should buy a copy.

1) What was your inspiration for writing Singularity's Ring?

This is all Lou Anders' fault. He was inviting authors to write stories for his upcoming anthology entitled Live Without a Net back in 2001. "Give me something where the internet and computers are not the be-all and end-all of technology. Give me something different," he said. "What kind of future would that be?" I wondered, thinking his anthology wouldn't find a lot of takers. Of course, my subconscious rolled the idea over and over, and by the next morning I had the genesis of "Singletons in Love." That story went on to be reprinted in Dozois' The Year's Best Science Fiction, and it became the second chapter of Singularity's Ring.

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

As a youth, I read to escape and loved a good science fiction yarn: Heinlein, Farmer, Harrison, Haldeman, and Panshin. These days, I'm reading more YA fiction as my daughter starts to read: Westerfeld, Rowland, and Tolkien. Just this last week, my son started reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's been fun to re-read it with him.

3) Summarize the book for our viewers.

Singularity's Ring is set several decades in the future, and the world has collapsed in a technological cataclysm. Most of humanity has died or disappeared in a singularity event, and what is left of humanity is being shepherded carefully by Pod Society. Pods are an experiment in multiple humans: duos, trios, quartets, and quintets of humans that share thoughts and emotions among themselves. The environment is unstable and the world seems on the brink of another cataclysm. Apollo Papadopulos has been bred to fly a starship through the Rift, a remnant of the singularity event. Only forces don't want him to succeed. And, amazingly, someone has come down the space elevator from the supposedly empty Ring.

4) Why did you decide to make Apollo a quintet?

My protagonist is not one person, but five. Lou Anders didn't want silicon computers, so I created a biological computer: Apollo Papadopulos is five humans altered to think as one. As such, his thoughts benefit from the synergism of their network; he can make great intuitive leaps, understand things quickly, and come to more logical conclusions. Of course, there's a trade-off. You or I would see him (them) standing still, grasping hands for seconds at a time while he (they) come to consensus.

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

Recently I took up Taekwondo. My children started last year, and it looked like so much fun, I joined them. I was right; it was fun. We're all blue belts. We've managed to not break anything in the house yet.

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

Singularity's Ring is an adventure story that follows Apollo from the Rockies to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit to the Amazon and Congo. There's also, of course, an orbital structure, the Ring. The scope of the book allowed me to draw on the details of these exotic locales, as well as create a technological artifact that's larger in diameter than the Earth.

7) What are you writing now?

I just turned in the novel-version of my Hugo-, Nebula-, and Sturgeon-nominated novella "The Walls of the Universe." This is a parallel universe story in which one version of my protagonist tricks another version out of his life. Farmboy John Rayburn is cast into the multiverse, and tries to get home again.


Paul lives in Ohio with his beautiful wife and four fairly wonderful children. He is an active member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, where he sits on the board of directors as the South-Central Regional Director and is chair of the Grievance Committee.

Paul's fiction has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Spider Magazine, The Year's Best Science Fiction, Talebones, and other magazines and anthologies. His work has been translated into Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, and Russian, and it has been nominated for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo Awards. Singularity's Ring is his first novel.

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

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Sonar 3 beta

Unfortunately I spent almost all of January immobilised due to lower back pain. However, thanks to my laptop and wifi connection I managed to use the time constructively, and I've not only converted the thousands and thousands of lines of code I use for all my software into VB2008, I also converted Sonar and added a bunch of new features.

* Resizable forms
* Colour coded lines
* Single data file in XML format
* Load, use, save as many different databases as you want
* 'Stories' now called 'works', so non-fic writers can use the prog
* You can double-click entries in any list to view details
* Text fields now have unlimited length
* List subs by work AND by market (e.g. a list of everything sent to F&SF)
* All lists can be sorted
* Sortable date columns for dates

etc etc

Now, this is a BETA version, and it will probably crash and/or lose data. People who download it will be existing Sonar 2 users who are keen to see where the program is going, and who don't mind trying various menus and forms in order to let me know of any problems.

There's a Sonar2 data importer built in, and you can have both apps installed at the same time without any problems. Importing your Sonar 2 data won't change the original files.


Because Sonar3 is a .NET Version 2.0 application, you'll need to install the Microsoft .NET Framework Version 2.0 if you don't already have it.

Best bet is to download and install Sonar3, then run it. If you get an error message about a missing runtime environment, you can grab the .NET Framework from the link below and install it.

Link to Sonar 3 install (about 800kb)

Link to .NET Framework Version 2.0 Redistributable Package (x86)

(If you're running 64-bit windows there's a link to the x64 version on the same page.)

Sonar 3 has a 'check for updates' feature under the Utilities menu. I'd use it fairly often ...

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