Monday, March 31, 2008

LOL bookz

If you like a chuckle, check out Jim C. Hines' (Mr Goblin himself!) LOL book posting for today.

Lots of previous efforts to giggle, smirk and snark at too.

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

Tusk tusk ...

How did they pull this stunt then?


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

April Fools ... not

My faithful, reliable digital watch, which must be nearing its 20th year now, reliably and faithfully informed me this morning that today was April 1st.

I'd already spent 20-30 mins reading my favourite news sites, and I got this sudden aha! as I realised all the ludicrous junk I'd been reading was nothing more than elaborate April Fools gags.

So, I went back and re-read the stories, looking for 'Avril Premier' bylines, grinning to myself as I realised how I'd been taken in unawares.

I also implemented a few tweaks on the Hal Spacejock website, to confuse visitors. Some new images, a bit of code, upload the lot .. done.

Then I spotted the date in the corner of my screen. March 31. Oops.

I'm busy reverting the website and adjusting the watch as you read this ...

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

Monday, March 24, 2008

More good news

I found a parcel on the doormat this morning, and when I ripped it open I realised it contained four copies of Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch!

I've scanned the front and back covers, and put them online for your viewing pleasure:



Remember the cheeky business card I designed? My publisher went for it! It's right there on the back cover:


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

Surprised and pleased

I was very happy to see the Andromeda Spaceways co-op pick up a Ditmar for "Best Professional Acheivement" last night. (The Ditmars are the Australian Science Fiction Awards, and they recognise excellence by Australians in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)

There's more good news: We published Rick Kennett's story 'The Dark and What It Said' in ASIM #28, and he just scored the Ditmar for the best short story of 2007.

And more: Tehani Wessely, a founding member, editor of numerous issues, and the driving force behind the three ASIM best-ofs, picked up the Ditmar for best new talent.

Yea verily, we're rolling in recognition, and it feels great.

I also learned that Hal Spacejock: Just Desserts scored a Tin Duck for Best WA Professional Long Work, which is wonderful news. Big thanks to those who voted for the book, and I'm very grateful. (Series authors face several challenges, including stores carrying later books and not the early ones, the prospect of having a series dropped mid stream, author fatigue with the characters, etc, etc. A nice award right out of the blue sure helps dispel those concerns, and it's a very handy tool for sales reps when encouraging stores to order the next in the series.)

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Plot synopsis project

A couple of weeks back Joshua Palmatier suggested this project, in which published authors post a copy of the synopsis they used to actually sell their novel to a publisher. (Or in some cases, the document used to describe the book to the author's editor. There's a subtle difference.)

His post is here, so you can see the reasoning behind the project.

I'm posting the synopsis of Hal 3 - the document I used to show my editor what I was intending to write. We went back and forth a number of times, and while the finished book diverges a fair bit from this original outline, I must point out that reading this outline could spoil the book for you

So, if you're an avid Hal fan hanging out for Hal 3, don't read on. On the other hand, if you have no interest in Hal and just follow my blog for the writing and publishing tips, go for it! (Hal fans - dozens of writers have posted their synopses today under a similar title, so you'll be able to find others to read.)

Without further ado, here's the summary as presented to my editor:

Hal Spacejock Just Desserts original outline

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

Friday, March 14, 2008

Interview with Paul Melko

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, Romanian, Czech, and Russian, and it has been nominated for the Sturgeon, Nebula, and Hugo Awards. TEN SIGMAS AND OTHER UNLIKELIHOODS is his collection of science fiction.



1) What fiction did you select for this collection and why?
TEN SIGMAS is a collection of my science fiction short fiction, all published within the last decade or so. The twelve stories first appeared in such places as Asimov's SF, Talebones, and Strange Horizons. The title story first appeared in Talebones #28, and was subsequently picked up by Gardner Dozois for his year's best collection.


2) Explain the title for my blog readers.
The title story "Ten Sigmas" is from the view point of a character who lives simultaneously in billions of universes. He's a normal distribution of all his selves. During the course of the story, he continually makes decisions that drive him farther and farther to the edge of the normal distribution, until he is so far away from the center -- ten standard deviations, or ten sigmas -- that he becomes unique again in his consciousness, just like you and me.


3) There's some overlap of stories between this collection and your first novel, isn't there?
My first novel -- SINGULARITY'S RING -- was released last month. It's the story of five teenagers that are actually a plural human who can share thoughts and emotions among themselves. Each chapter is from the point of view of one of the teens. When I first wrote the book, there were six humans in the composite human. Subsequent editorial decisions resulted in the sixth person being dropped. The collection includes the original sextet-based stories that became the novel, as well as the section cut from the novel and first published in Asimov's SF: "The Summer of the Seven." Also in this collection is the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Sturgeon-Award nominated story "Walls of the Universe." This story is the basis for my next novel, of the same title, coming out winter 2009 from Tor Books.


4) Why did you choose Fairwood Press to publish this collection?
Fairwood Press publisher's Patrick Swenson published in his magazine Talebones a number of my stories: six of them, in fact. Two of them are included herein. The sixth is in the current issue of Talebones, "Cankerman's Shower," available now. When it came time for me to publish my collection, there really was no choice except for Fairwood Press. Check out the other collections available from Fairwood.


5) Come on. Which story is your favorite?
All of these stories are special to me. How can you ask that? All right, "Ten Sigmas" is the story that is most significant to me. I still choke up when I read the ending. Yes, I'm a big baby.


6) Who drew the artwork?
Adam Hunter Peck drew the awesome cover. Check him out here: http://www.adamhunterpeck.com/


7) What are you writing now?
I've just turned in the novel version of "Walls of the Universe." My follow-up novel is set in the same universe as "Cankerman's Shower" and is entitled CANKERMAN'S TWIN. It's the story of a misogynistic remittance man with no scruples, traveling about the galactic empire, getting into trouble and adventure.


8) Where will you be next?
I'll be at Millenicon in Cincinnati March 14-16. Then I'll be at the Nebulas in Austin, Texas April 25-27. Over the summer, look for me at Marcon in Columbus, Confluence in Pittsburgh, and WorldCon in Denver!

Link to buy: www.fairwoodpress.com
Link to Amazon Listing

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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on yWriter

yWriter4 is easily the most-searched, most-downloaded and most-used of my free software apps, and after a suggestion in a blog comment yesterday I decided to set up a Google Group for the program:

Visit the yWriter Google Group

It's a public group, so you'll be able to read posts even if you don't join. Hopefully people will use the thing as a source of yWriter info and tips, and maybe we'll even get some of that community spirit going.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

yWriter 4 review

Just had an email letting me know of the first major review of yWriter 4.

Lots of pros, a good score, and only two cons. One of the cons (no submission tracker) is irrelevant, since I already have Sonar in the stable. The other ... well, I don't believe in hand-holding when it comes to software ;-)

Anyway, take a look at the review for more.

EDIT: Don't miss the new yWriter mailing list.

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

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Publishing diary #2

A couple of weeks back I promised to post about all the interactions with my publisher leading up to the launch of book four ... and maybe beyond. We're still a long way from release date (2nd June) so the posts won't be that frequent, but I do have a couple of updates for you.

Yesterday my publicist emailed about getting together to talk about the upcoming release, but thanks to my dodgy back I've had to put that off for now. I had a CT scan and xrays this morning, and it's still giving me a lot of pain. Anyway, I offered to chat on the phone initially, and perhaps we can have a meeting to discuss any points raised.

The other thing I discovered is that review copies of Hal 4 are going out. I've not seen the finished book myself yet, despite my casual hints, but I suppose I already know how it ends and I can't very well post an unbiased review. Anyway, I put in a word for Mary Koenig, who reviews for the WA education department. Their publication only comes out 2-3 times a year, which means long lead times. She obviously enjoyed the first three books so I'm keen to see her reaction to #4.

Speaking of fours, today was the fourth time I've driven my car since the Xmas holidays, so after the xrays etc I decided to make the most of the trip and went to visit the nice people at Dymocks Carousel. (The first drive was round the block back in February, when I was checking to see how my back would stand up to it. The second was to pick up an Atari 1040 STe, also in February, from a guy who contacted me via my website after seeing my emulators page. He just wanted it to go to a good home, and I now have it set up in my office. The third trip was last week, when my daughter missed her bus. But I digress.)

The reason for the Dymocks trip was to advise them about Hal 4 coming out, but they asked me about the book launch before I could bring the subject up, so we're good there.

Finally, I had nice email from one of the local Penguin sales reps, congratulating me on the upcoming release of Hal 4. Penguin distribute the books outside my home state, so this rep has no financial interest in the Hal books and can't even take orders for them, but that just made it even nicer to get her email. I know publishers can seem like faceless conglomerates, but little touches like that show there's a human side.

Oh, one more thing... I just spotted a familiar name on the Tin Duck (WA SF awards) ballot. Yes, Tehani Wessely, who put together the three Andromeda Spaceways best-ofs last year (details here), has been nominated for Best WA Professional Production. Go T!

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

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Aussiereviews.com and Hal Spacejock 2 & 3

These reviews were posted late last year, and I somehow managed to miss them. (I had the pleasure of meeting the reviewer, Sally Murphy, at the All Saints' Kids' Lit festival in April last year, and I was happy to sign a copy of Hal Spacejock to her - right underneath the promo blurb for the book which my publisher snipped out of her first Hal review!)

Hal Spacejock Second Course reviewed here

"Often sequels to successful first books can be downright disappointing or repetitive, but this sequel is better than the first, with more development of Hal and Clunk as characters and an interesting cast of supporting characters, as well as a plot with twists and turns, and plenty of humour."

Hal Spacejock Just Desserts reviewed here

"Author Simon Haynes has found a formula that works, yet manages to make each new instalment sufficiently different to avoid it becoming predictable."

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

Monday, March 03, 2008

Interview with Alma Alexander

ALMA ALEXANDER is a novelist whose work has appeared in thirteen languages and more than 20 countries worldwide. Her international bestseller "The Secrets of Jin Shei" is perhaps the best known of her adult books, but in 2007 she branched out into the world of YA literature with the release of the first book in the Worldweavers trilogy, "Gift of the Unmage", which has garnered a great deal of reader enthusiasm and critical praise, being compared to Susan Cooper, Madeleine L'Engle, and even J K Rowlings. "Spellspam" is the second book in the Harper Collins trillogy, released March 11, 2008. The third book, due in the spring of 2009, is entitled "Cybermage".


1) What was your inspiration for writing Spellspam?

Back in 2002 I went to my first-ever World Fantasy Convention. I had no plans to do any writing in the YA arena, but I wandered, at some point, into a panel on YA literature because it had a bunch of writers on it whose work I have admired - Charles de Lint, for one, and Jane Yolen. After about five or six minutes of chatter on the subject of YA, someone from the audience raised a hand and asked, "What about Harry Potter?"

And Jane Yolen sighed and said, "I was wondering how long it would be before that particular elephant walked into the room."

This was 2002 - Pottermania was in full swing. And I am sure they went on to discuss that, amongst other things, But I didn't exactly hear any of it. Because the next thing that came out of Jane Yolen's mouth was something about how she didn't particularly like the way that the Potter books treated girls. And I was off and running, making the acquaintance of Thea Winthrop - not the Boy Who Lived but the Girl Who Couldn't - and exploring the Last Ditch School for the Incurably Incompetent, to which she would be sent because she, born a Double Seventh, the sventh child of two seventh children and the most magical of entities, cannot do any magic. At all. At ALL.

Until everything changes...


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

Good grief, I read EVERYTHING. I blew through the kids' section of our library like a tornado, and there were always books in my house, and the rule was if I could read it and if it interested me then it was allowed. There were no restrictions. I grew up in language heaven. I could not possibly start naming all my favourite authors, the list would go on forever. I cut my teeth on authorless books - the collections of myths and legends from various sources. But when it comes to a few seminal influences - Tolkien, of course. The Narnia books. Roger Zelazny.

But also Henryk Sienkiewicz, Sigrid Undsett, John Galsworthy, Pearl Buck, Ivo Andric.


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

The fact that it allows for the telling of pure unvarnished truth, and because it's wrapped up in such a pretty tissue of lies and enchantment people seldom realise that the story they are reading is far more real and far more emotionally true than much of what they cling to in their "Real" worlds. I believe in fantasy. I have always thought there was a vast power in dreams.


4) Why did you decide to make Thea "incapable" of magic ?

Because everything has a price - as my Alphiri (a race of elves with the souls of Star Trek's Ferengi will take great pleasure in telling you). And this is a coming-of-age story, and coming of age means finding out what your values truly are, and how they shape who you are becoming. Thea's inability to to magic in the first book of the trilogy is a very important formative period for her.


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

Heh. Reading.

Also, photography, embroidery, watching a few good shows on TV (currently - spring 2008 - "House", "Lost", "Men in Trees").

Travel.

Did I mention reading?


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

That depends entirely on the book. "The Secrets of Jin Shei" and "Embers of Heaven" were extremely research-intensive - but then, they were historical fantasies based on and rooted in things that existed in our own world, and it was important. Even though the world I was creating was my own - to make it right, to make it true, even though I had to break the rules to do it - and for me to be able to do that I needed to know exactly what the rules were to begin with.

With the YA books, yes, there was research done. For "Gift of the Unmage" I read up on the Anasazi, and learned about the world creation myths and the elder gods of the Native Americans, the peoples who first walked the North American continent before the Europeans came. It imbues the books with a certain amount of mysticism which makes the books intrinsically American, as American as Harry Potter was English. But there were other aspects of the story that needed research, too, and for the third book I read up exhaustively on Nilkola Tesla, who is one of the major characters in "Cybermage".

I stir in all kinds of things into this particular YA brew - First World gods and tricksters, modern cutting-edge cyber-magic, Eastern European fairy tales, and pure invention (like the Alphiri, for instance). It was a wonderful writing experience.


7) What are you writing now?

The new project is an adult novel inspired by Byzantium. Vastly more complex and research-intensive than the Worldweavers books were. But it's time for another of my complicated, lush, vast, broad-canvas stories - and I've already waded into this one, and it is going to be GOOD.


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

In order, yes, no, and I stumbled blindly along what I thought were lots of different roads but there was only one, and it led here.

I grew up in love with words - it began with the influence of my poet-Grandfather who read me his sonnets from when I was five years old and it stuck, I never could shake language from me after that, I devoured books, and I started writing my own poetry when I was six or so. I wrote my first novel at 11 (and it was horrible, and thankfully doesn't survive). I won a national writing competition back home in Yugoslavia when I was 12. I wrote the next novel at 14, and you know, it isn't half bad if I went back and tweaked the 14-year-old-ishness out of some of it. I started publishing before I was twenty - but I didn't get a "real" book published until 1995, when I was in my early thirties, and I went full-time only eight years ago. But in the meantime I managed to earn an MSc in Molecular Biology, run an allergy society professional journal, do a stint as senior editor with an educational publisher where I produced text books in subjects as widely varied as Social Studies and Mathematics, got married... lived a life.

But I am, and have always been, first and last a WRITER. That has never changed. It never will.


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

There is no such thing as a typical writing day. The one thing that all days have in common is coffee - lots of coffee - hello, my name is Alma and I am an addict. But the rest of it - if I am reading a research book, I am "writing" just as much as if I had my behind planted in a chair and my fingers on a keyboard. Writing is what happens in the mind, and for me it's a constant and ongoing process - putting actual words on a page is just the final installment of that process, the culminating act. THere are days when I will spend hours doing that, pouring out the words, writing up to 10 000 words a day. There are days I will go for a long walk and wrestle with a scene or a character until I can get to a point where I CAN sit down and let the words come. That's half the joy of being what I am. I have no "routine". I am responsible only to myself, my story, and my characters - and it takes however long it takes.


10) Where do you write?

In an office with a view of cedar woods, where deer occasionally come to my door to greet me and woodpeckers flutter around in the trees. I have a massive oak desk, my present to myself from the first check from "Jin SHei", and a library full of books at my back.


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

Dreaming is easy. My stories... just come, and are already fledged, and fly away with me.

Rewriting... is horrible. It all mucks about with my instinctive sense of order, and screws around with the shape of my vision, and drives me demented. I know it is necessary, sometimes essential. I don't have to LIKE it..


12) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there.

"Spellspam" will be my ninth published book.

I started out with a collection of three fantasy short stories - much like the Oscar WIlde fairy tales, "The Nightingale and the Rose", like that - which was published by Longman UK in 1995 and STILL brings me in a trickle of royalties to this day. That was followed by "Houses in Africa", an autobiographical volume describing my growing-up years in Africa, published by a small New Zealand publisher and now out of print. That in turn was followed by an epistolary email novel called "Letters from the Fire", written in collaboration with R.A. ("Deck") Deckert, the man I subsequently married. That, too, is out of print. But then came the "Changer of Days" books - published in 2001/2002 in New Zealand, and reprinted in the US in 2005 by Eos as "The Hidden Queen" and "Changer of Days"; and my big successes, "The Secrets of Jin Shei" and "Embers of Heaven", both published by Harper Collins in their English editions and by a plethora of foreign-language publishers elsewhere.

The YA books were next, with "Gift of the Unmage" in 2007 and "Spellspam" in 2008 and "Cybermage", my jubilee tenth published book, due out in 2009.


Visit Alma at her website, www.AlmaAlexander.com, and learn more about the Worldweavers books at their own site, www.WorldWeaversWeb.com. Alma also blogs at http://anghara.livejournal.com, and is a regular guest blogger at www.SFNovelists.com and www.Storytellersunplugged.com.


About SPELLSPAM:

When Email Attacks!

What would happen if the spam that accumulates in your inbox suddenly started carrying live spells - open a "Lose Weight Now" email, and you do, you drop pounds, you open the thing inadvertently twice and you turn into a wraith? Or a "Free GIft" email results in a subscirption to a magazine in Mandarin Chinese or a pair of Emperor Penguns delivered to your door?

And what happens if it is a grounding tenet in your world that the only thing actually impervious to magic IS a computer, and magical... SPELLSPAM... is frankly impossible...?

Welcome to Thea Winthrop's next adventure ... Spellspam

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

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Interview with Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder changed careers in 1995 from being a Meteorologist to a Novelist when she began working on her first novel, Poison Study. Published in October 2005, Poison Study won the 2006 Compton Crook Award, was a 2005 Booksense pick, and received a Starred Review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Maria's second book, Magic Study was a 2006 Book Sense pick and a RITA Award Finalist. Her latest release Fire Study is due out March 1, 2008. While doing research for Fire Study, Maria learned that working with glass requires deft coordination, arm strength, tons of patience, and a good partner—she now has an extensive collection of misshapened paperweights, tumblers, and bowls.



1) What was your inspiration for writing Fire Study?

1A) I wanted to explore the uses and abuses of power in this book. Poison Study, which is the first in the Study series, concentrated on Yelena’s inner conflicts and her self-confidence, and only touched briefly on magic. Magic Study focused on discovering the extent and type of powers Yelena possesses. In the third book, I wanted to show the extent some magicians will go to gain power over others. Using magic to solve problems can be addicting, and, in Fire Study Yelena realizes how much she depends on her magical abilities. She must learn how to balance the use of her power with more mundane methods and to discover that completely turning your back on magic isn’t the right answer.

2) Where do you find your inspiration?

2A) It can be from anywhere. I get ideas from newspaper and magazine articles, from something I see on television, from something that comes up in conversation, from dreams, or from something my children say or do. I tend not to lack for ideas just time!

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

3A) Currently my favorite authors all have humor in their books. Since my life is so stress-filled and complicated, I’ve been enjoying light and fluffy reading with Mary Janice Davidson’s vampire series and her new mermaid series, Connie Willis is another favorite of mine, and I’ve recently discover the mystery/suspense thrillers of Harlan Coben. Growing up, I started with mysteries because that is what my mother enjoyed. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were my favorites before I graduated to Agatha Cristie, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Barbara Vine, and Ed McBain.

4)Who has influenced you in your writing?

4A): I read a ton of mystery novels growing up. My favorite mystery author is Dick Francis and his books have influenced my writing style. I also use first person point of view and try to keep the story’s pace moving. My cliff hanger endings are a direct result from his books; I can never stop reading one of his books at a chapter break. My favorite fantasy writers all have strong female protagonists and interesting characters in common. Barbara Hambly’s books have a nice mix of action, character and humor - all essential elements to what I consider good fiction.

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

5A) As a writer, the attraction is in exploring new settings and characters and not having to worry too much about what is physically possible or not. I make my own rules about my world and, as long as I stick to them, can explore various problems generated by the unique setting and situation. As a reader, I enjoy traveling beyond my everyday world to a new place full of wonder and surprises.

6) Why did you decide to make Yelena a Soulfinder?

6A) The concept of everyone having a soul fascinates me. I never consciously decided to make her a Soulfinder, it just happened toward the end of Magic Study. My subconscious must have been working on it because even in Poison Study, when Yelena chooses to become the Commander’s food taster there is a moment where she is peering at her reflection wondering if she still has a soul. She felt so empty and used that she was sure her soul had gone, leaving behind a thin shell.

Being a Soulfinder also added conflict to the story. The Sitian people feared the power. Someone who has the ability to manipulate a person’s soul is serious business, especially since the last person with the power abused it by creating his own soulless army. So here’s Yelena – already an oddity by being raised in the northern lands of Ixia, conflicted over her loyalties between Ixia and Sitia and now has this ability which could condemn her before she even explores what she can do with it.

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

7A) I love to travel with my family. Exploring new places and meeting new people and experiencing other cultures are wonderful for the writer’s soul I also enjoy playing volleyball, reading and I dabble with photography.

8) What sort of research did you do to write this book?

8A) In order to write the scenes with Opal, a glass artist in the book, I needed to enroll in glass blowing classes. The teacher made it look so easy to gather a slug of glass. But when it was my turn – yikes! It was HOT! The big vat of molten glass was kept in a rip roaring furnace at a toasty 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. I held a metal rod, and, while squinting through an eye-melting orange light, I dipped the end into the thick goo and spun it, gathering a glob of glass onto the end. The incandescent glob glowed as if alive.

Once acquired, the slug then needed to be quickly shaped. Glass cooled at a rapid pace, and, even though heat waves pulsed from the slug, it didn’t stay pliable for long. My first paperweight was a misshapened blob. After hours of practice, my ability improved, and I created a paperweight worthy to hold down my next novel’s manuscript pages.

I learned that working with glass required deft coordination, arm strength, tons of patience, and a good partner—it’s a good thing I have a day job!

9) What are you writing now?

9A) I’m writing the fourth book based in the Study world titled, Storm Glass. Set five years after Fire Study, Storm Glass has a new protagonist and she’s the reason for the new series title. Storm Glass will be out December 2008. Here is the cover copy of the book:

“As a glassmaker and a magician-in-training, Opal Cowen understands trial by fire. Now it’s time to test her mettle. Someone has sabotaged the Stormdancer clan’s glass orbs, killing their most powerful magicians. The Stormdancers—particularly the mysterious and mercurial Kade—require Opal’s unique talents to prevent it happening again. But when the mission goes awry, Opal must tap into a new kind of magic as stunningly potent as it is frightening. And the further she delves into the intrigue behind the glass and magic, the more distorted things appear. With lives hanging in the balance—including her own—Opal must control powers she never knew she possessed...powers that might lead to disaster beyond anything she’s ever known.”

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

10A) I started writing because of boredom! My first job after college was as a Meteorologist for an environmental consulting firm. The amount of work came in waves, and we were either extremely busy or very bored. During the slow times, I started writing a short story. Ideas were always floating around in my mind, but that was when I began using them. I submitted my first short story for critique at a writing conference in Philadelphia, and when the workshop leader gave me 7 out of 10, I thought that was pretty good for a first effort and decided to stick with writing for a while. After my son was born and I only had about one hour a day to myself, I had to decide what was important enough to spend that precious time on. Most days writing won.

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

11A) I sit down at my computer after my children leave for school. After answering email and procrastinating for an hour, I start writing and only stop briefly for lunch and continue until my son comes home around 3:30 p.m. During the school year, I’m very productive, but once summer comes along I can only do revisions.

12) Where do you write??

12A) I write in my home office. My husband enjoys woodworking and he built me a great writing room with built in bookcases and a custom made desk. I keep a number of toys nearby to fidget with as I’m working out a problem in my head, and I keep weapons nearby to make sure when I write an action scene, I’m not describing something impossible.

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

13A) Dialogue is the easiest and the most fun to write. I struggle with details. I tend to go light on details, preferring to focus on action and dialogue. Also describing emotions without using clich├ęs is very difficult for me, finding something fresh is hard, but when I do—it’s like hitting the lottery.

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

14A) The first and second books in the series are still available.

In Poison Study, Yelena starts her adventure in a dungeon, waiting to be executed for murder. She is given a choice of the noose or to become the new food taster for the Commander of Ixia—a military dictator paranoid of being poisoned. She chooses the job, and learns how to taste foods for poisons without dying. Life in the castle is full of hazards, the General, whose son she killed, wants revenge, rebels plot to seize Ixia, and Yelena develops magic she can’t control—magic which is forbidden in Ixia and punishable by death. As she searches for a way to freedom, Yelena is faced with more choices, but this time the outcomes aren’t so clear.

In Magic Study, Yelena is on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago. Although she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways, and her newfound friends and relatives don't think it's for the better. Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magical training. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince, and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians. If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with her new enemies.


Links to author:

Website address – www.mariavsnyder.com

MySpace page – www.myspace.com/mariavsnyder


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

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Interview with Jim C. Hines




Goblin War, by Jim C. Hines
Published March 4, 2008, by DAW Books

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Readers have dubbed Jim C. Hines the Goblin King. His third novel Goblin War has just been released in the U.S. His goblins are also showing up in France, Germany, Russia, and several other nations. The books have earned praise from the likes of Julie Czerneda, Ed Greenwood, and even Wil Wheaton, who called Goblin Quest "too f*****g cool for words!"

Q) What was your inspiration for writing Goblin War?

A) It's the unwritten law of fantasy. I had written two goblin books, but as a fantasy author, I had no choice. I Must Write Trilogies.

There were things I wanted to accomplish with the third book, of course. In the first two books, Jig is constantly struggling to protect himself from adventurers and heroes, not to mention his fellow goblins. This time, I wanted to bring that struggled to some sort of resolution. This is an all-or-nothing adventure. If Jig succeeds, he'll be able to keep himself and his fellow goblins safe for years. But if he fails, he's going to fail big.

There were other factors as well. Jig' and Smudge are a lot of fun to write about ... my readers enjoy him and wanted more ... perhaps most importantly, DAW was willing to pay me for a third book!

Q) Why did you decide to make Jig a goblin?

A) I wanted to take on the fantasy genre from the monsters' point of view. I've seen it done a few times before, Shrek being one of the more famous examples, but I never felt like they got it right. Shrek is really just a big, gross, socially awkward human. We never see anything about his family, his culture, or his background, and his motivations are completely human.

I also thought the tougher monsters had it too easy. Sure, anyone can survive an adventure when you're big enough to recycle armored knights and punch dragons in the face. So I decided to go with the underdogs, and you don't get much lower than goblins.

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

A) You wouldn't think a humorous fantasy would require much research. At least, I wouldn't have until I got started. But from day one, I was e-mailing a geologist for information on cave formations, looking up cooking sites to come up with good goblin recipes, double-checking armor and weaponry ... for Goblin War, I spent a fair amount of time trying to make sure my armies were using sensible formations and tactics.

Goblin War also required me to go back and re-read The Giving Tree. And no, I'm not going to explain that one.

Q) Are there any interesting scenes or ideas that didn't make it into the final book?

A) The biggest thing was a romance between Jig and one of his fellow goblins. I tried ... I really tried to make it work. I think I'm a pretty good writer, but I just couldn't pull it off. Maybe it's self-preservation, but my brain refused to go there. Much to the disappointment of my agent, who was hoping for a fourth book called "Jig gets Jiggy."

The first draft also gave Jig a magical elf cloak, a la Lord of the Rings, but I kept giving myself flashbacks to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. Besides, invisibility would have made Jig's life far too easy.

Oh, and the scene where we learn that Smudge the fire-spider is gay didn't fly. I guess my publisher doesn't think the world was ready for homosexual spiders.

Q) What are you writing now?

A) DAW recently bought three more books from me in a new series. The first book is called The Stepsister Scheme, and should show up in January of 2009. I just finished revising that book, and have started on the rewrite of The Mermaid's Madness. The books are basically my response to the overcommercializiation of the fairy tale princess. My princesses come from the older fairy tales, which means these are some very conflicted characters with pretty dark backstories. I basically did a mash-up of those old fairy tales and Charlie's Angels.

Let's just say my version of Sleeping Beauty can kill you with a spoon.

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

A) I do most of my writing during my lunch breaks at work. Typically, a few minutes are spent actually eating, and then there are a few minutes of stalling and procrastinating before I dig in and start typing. 50 minutes or so isn't a lot, but I've found I can do about 5000 words in a good week, which allows me to write a book every year in addition to some short fiction.

These days, I'm having to make time in the evenings and weekends to keep up with deadlines. I'm glad the writing is going so well, but I also struggle to balance family, writing, and the day-to-day jobs like shoveling snow or fixing the zipper on my daughter's backpack.

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

A) There are the first two goblin books, Goblin Quest and Goblin Hero. All three are a lot of fun, particularly if you're a fantasy fan, because you'll catch a lot more of the jokes. I've also written close to 40 short stories. (Well, I've written a lot more than that, but I've sold close to 40. Big difference.) A fair amount of the short fiction is humorous sword and sorcery, but there's some serious stuff as well. I was quite happy to make the preliminary Nebula ballot this year for one of the serious stories, even though I got knocked out of the running for the finals.

Q) Who is your favorite author?

A) The answer changes from day to day, depending on my mood and what I've been reading. Today, I think I'm going to say ... Snoopy. His prose isn't always the greatest, but as an author, he's quite the inspirational little beagle. He never lets rejection slow him down, and he knows the most important thing is to drag that typewriter onto the doghouse and just keep writing.

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Previews of all three goblin books are available at http://www.sff.net/people/jchines/Goblins/

Jim's blog is at http://jimhines.livejournal.com

Find the Goblin Series on Amazon.com: Goblin Quest, Goblin Hero & Goblin War


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