Saturday, May 31, 2008

Stats plus

Some people love stats (me included!), so here's a breakdown of the top 20 countries downloading the free Hal Spacejock ebook by percentage. Now, Australia is the 3rd largest market on the planet for English language books (after the US and the UK), and yet it's second here. Do aussies love a quick freebie or what?

Country/Territory - Percentage
United States - 42.32%
Australia - 26.47%
United Kingdom - 6.79%
Canada - 5.53%
Germany - 1.25%
India - 1.23%
France - 1.09%
Netherlands - 0.92%
Sweden - 0.82%
New Zealand - 0.78%
Spain - 0.70%
South Africa - 0.66%
Romania - 0.66%
Brazil - 0.56%
Ireland - 0.42%
Italy - 0.42%
China - 0.38%
Belgium - 0.38%
Portugal - 0.34%
Denmark - 0.34%

(So far the book has been downloaded by people in 108 countries & territories)

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

Friday, May 30, 2008


I just dropped by the publisher to sign copies of Hal 1 through 4 for people who've ordered them since the ebook hit the ewaves, and they told me they've asked stores NOT to put Hal 4 out until the release date (next Monday)

Wow, a genuine real-life embargo on the release. Nice! Unless you're waiting in a queue, of course.

The other availability I'm referring to is me. If you'd like me to answer questions about the decision to release Hal Spacejock as an ebook, the goals we had going in & the ongoing results, or even questions about writing, getting published, slaving away on the same series and so on, just contact me via email: spacejock at gmail dot com

I'm always happy to talk ;-)

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

Ebook progress

I've had email from a number of other authors asking me to keep them up to date with the Hal Spacejock ebook experiment. I'm happy to oblige!

After two and a half days the ebook is still being downloaded once every two minutes, on average. The biggest number of referrals have come from John Scalzi's Whatever blog, various buttons around my own site, Stumbleupon, the University of Pennsylvania online books page, Myspace, Fremantle Press, SFSignal and PBW. (Plus a fair number from random google searches.)

Now, the interesting thing is that well over half the downloads were referred by 'OTHER' sources. Maybe two, maybe just one each, but added together they brought more traffic than all the biggies put together.

That's why every blog post about the Hal Spacejock ebook is valuable, no matter how much (or how little) traffic you think it might send my way.

Another interesting stat: Only 1% of all downloads have gone to UK addresses. Australia, with 1/3 the population of the UK, has accounted for over 20% of the total.

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

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Progress report

Over the past 24 hours the free Hal Spacejock ebook has been downloaded at the rate of one copy every 30-40 seconds.

Links to the download are turning up in the oddest places. The front page of The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film, a forum on the Baen Books website, state newspapers, teacher/librarian mailing lists, blogs, forum and websites.

Oh, and the odd Google search is bringing people in too.

Many thanks to everyone sharing links to the download, and please, don't stop now! It's a big, bad internet, and despite the publicity 99.999999% of all users are still oblivious to the delights of Hal Spacejock.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've got me Tin Duck, in my hands ...

And very shiny it is too:

(Hal Spacejock Just Desserts won the WASFF 'Tin Duck' award for best WA long professional work of 2007. I couldn't attend the ceremony at Swancon earlier this year, but Tehani was kind enough to pick the trophy up for me, and she brought it along to the Hal 4 book launch last night.)

Tehani didn't realise I'd picked up an Aurealis Award a few years back, so here's a pic of that one too:

Now, stop reading this and go download Hal Spacejock already. Two a minute just isn't enough!

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

Download Hal Spacejock

Hal Spacejock fans worldwide are about to be served a big helping of science fiction - for nothing! Fremantle Press and Western Australian author, Simon Haynes, are giving away complete online copies of the novel Hal Spacejock 1.

The first novel in the popular series is available to download right now, and serves as the perfect entree to the release of book four - Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch - on June the 2nd.

Get your copy of Hal Spacejock here

Full press release here

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ELR statement

Just got the Educational Lending Rights statement for last year. Hal Spacejock (book 1) is the only one listed, since Hal 2 came out after the cutoff, but it seems there are almost 1000 copies in school libraries around Australia.


That's 2000 fridge magnets paid for.

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

Book launch goodies

I usually make a bit of an effort for Hal Spacejock launches - people are taking the trouble to get there, so why not throw in a few extras?

If you know how publishing works you'll know that authors make about A$1.50-A$1.90 royalty on a $20 book. If we sell 30-40 books at the launch I'll have earned a massive $50 or so (about nine months from now, when the next royalty statement comes in.)

A book launch isn't about earning money, though. It's a celebration, a chance to send off the latest book with a whack from a bottle of bubbly, and a chance for me to hand out some unique Hal-related goodies.

This morning the postie delivered about 200 cover flats for Hal Spacejock books 1 and 3. I'm busy signing them now, and everyone who buys a book at the launch will get one in their goodie bag. There'll be Hal Spacejock fridge magnets and bookmarks too, and I usually throw in something chocolatey. (Obesity epidemic be damned. Anyway, they're only little.)

There's also a ticket for the free Hal gift I've been banging on about for the past two weeks. If you have today's West Australian (Tuesday 27th), turn to page 8 of the Today section and you'll be able to work out what the gift is ...

Everyone else can wait until tomorrow ;-)

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

Monday, May 26, 2008

Snip Three

An hour later Hal was sitting in the flight deck, gazing at a satellite image of planet Dismolle on the main viewscreen. The display was centred on a sandy beach, where hoards of sunbathers were stretched out on their towels.
  ‘Navcom, how do you zoom in again?’ asked Hal.
  ‘That’s the limit,’ said the ship’s computer, in her neutral female voice.
  ‘But I can’t see anything!’
  ‘That’s why it’s the limit.’

Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch (Page 4)

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

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Another snip

Walsh frowned. Had all these callers hit the turps and then sat down to watch the same show? ‘Tell me, have you had a drink this evening?’

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘Only I’ve just had a similar report, and I’m wondering whether there’s a program you’ve all been watching. Something of a fantastic nature.’

There was a long silence. ‘Are you accusing me of watching horror films? Science fiction?’

Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, p72

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

Can't make the launch?

This post is for Australian residents who don't live in the Perth metro area. Everyone else will get their own special post on Wednesday the 28th.

The Hal Spacejock launch is on Tuesday, and I've had several emails from avid fans who can't be bothered hopping on a plane and flying 5000km or more just to be there on the night. (Some people, I tell you!)

Anyway, there is a solution: One fan rang Dymocks Carousel (08 9356 8888) and ordered all four Hal books plus home delivery. They've put his copies aside, I'll sign & personalise them at the launch, and they'll post them to him afterwards.

They're more than happy to take phone orders for the books - the latest, the first, all of 'em - so I thought I'd better mention it.

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

Friday, May 23, 2008

A second piece of great news ...

... and I can't announce this one either! It's a good one, though. Really excellent. Wish I could share.

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

Stars of SF interview + RTRFM

Mark Deniz just posted his interview with me here. Lots of good questions about Hal Spacejock and Andromeda Spaceways, and I enjoyed participating.

In other interview news, there's a stream of the RTRFM interview I did yesterday on the web, but it's 3 hours long and I don't put in an appearance until the 2hr+ mark.

Warning ... the track before my interview is the sort of thing my 13 year old daughter euphemistically calls a "naughty word song", so keep the volume low whilst seeking.

Can anyone tell me how to extract a chunk of the MP4 as a regular MP3? I tried VLC with the stream to file option, but the result was a big blank file which did nothing.

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

A snip

Tee hee ...

Hal sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes. ‘I still can’t believe I let you talk me into this little jaunt. We must have flown halfway across the galaxy.’

‘It was a wise move, Mr Spacejock. We needed a fresh start.’

‘We weren’t doing that badly.’

‘Oh no? Feuding politicians, desperate fugitives and mercenaries ... We’ve made enough enemies to fill three second-rate novels.’

Taken from Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch (Book four in the series)

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

Might even spill the beans early ...

I know it says June 1, but I have a nasty habit of revealing things too early:

Share if you dare ...

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

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Status update

Rosalie Writers Festival ... check (Great fun, including last night's meet-the-parent evening)

RTR-FM Radio Interview ... check (I'll link to the podcast when/if it's online)

Book launch ... 27th May. (Feel free to share as widely as possible. Official press release at the foot of this post)

Massive world-changing Hal Spacejock news ... 28th May (STILL not spilling the beans. Sorry!)

Official release of Hal 4 ... 2nd June.

I'm just enjoying the fuss while it lasts, because it won't be long before I'm hard at work on the next Hal book (hopefully), and these fleeting moments of fame and fortune will be nothing more than a distant memory.

You are invited to join author Simon Haynes for the launch of Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch.

When: Tuesday 27 May at 6.30pm
Where: Dymocks Carousel, Carousel Shopping Centre, Albany Highway, Cannington
RSVP: 08 9356 8888

About the book:
Brought to you by Fremantle Press, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch is the fourth in a comic science fiction series by Simon Haynes. It will appeal to anyone who enjoys Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt or Douglas Adams and is the ideal book for the reluctant reader.

Full launch invite here:
(Worth a read for the laughs alone...also suitable for printing.)

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

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fridge Magnet update

So far I've had 388 requests for the Hal Spacejock fridge magnets. I posted each person four magnets (one for them, three to share), a bookmark, an invite to the book launch, a small blurb about Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, a sample chapter of Hal Spacejock, a brief note from me, a signed bookplate and a free gift voucher.

No wonder both my printers are smoking quietly in the corner. And if you see any local posties bent double, it's my fault.

I have about 100 fridge magnets left, so if you live in Australia and you haven't contacted me yet, feel free to do so.

I'm even paying the postage, so it'll cost you nothing.

By the way, feel free to share the link on your own blog - I have another 2000 fridge magnets on the way, and I'm ordering 5000 new bookmarks early next week.

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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

13 days to go ...

I'm not talking!

PS - Don't forget the Hal 4 Book Launch on the 27th of May.

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

Saturday, May 17, 2008

SFNovelists post

On the 17th of every month I post to the SFNovelists blog. Usually I try and write something industry-related, and this time I've touched on writing - business or art.

Also, there's only two weeks left to discover what the Hal Spacejock free gift is. (No, it's not a fridge magnet or bookmark.)

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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Feel free to share ...

Share the mystery around ...

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

Complete blank

My publicist just booked me for a radio interview next week, which is great news. Then she chucked me a real poser: "Be prepared to describe a couple of incidents and key stories from within the book."

The problem is, I finished editing the book last October and haven't looked at it since. In the meantime I've written 50,000 words of Hal 5 for NanoWrimo AND come up with half a dozen neato plots for the same book. Hal 5 is a go, and Hal 4 is ancient history! I'm just as likely to go into the interview and describe this really hilarious bit ... from Hal 2.

The other problem is that Hal 4 is a whodunnit/mystery, and any key scenes from later in the book are likely to contain spoilers. I don't even like identifying the characters, because there are some twists there, too.

I have a week until the interview, and before that I have an appearance at a school lit festival. Methinks I'll be re-reading Hal 4 between now and then.

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

YA reading

In my quest to do a year's worth of blogging in a single day (!), I just had word from SFSignal that their latest Mind Meld post is up: Young Adult SF/F Books That Adults Will Like, Too.

If you haven't ventured into the YA section of your local bookstore lately, or at all, this one post contains a bunch of recommendations from a variety of heavyweight industry types. And me.

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

Belonging to Andromeda Spaceways

This is the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine crew, the team who bring you a new issue of ASIM every two months.

Some folk think we're all nuts, paying $100 a year to be a member of the Andromeda Spaceways co-op. What are the benefits, and why is being a member of the team so important to me?

First off, the price includes a subscription ($49), so we're only paying $51 a year.

Second, we're publishing new and established writers, and we're an important market for both.

Third, I can attend any convention in Australia, and there's guaranteed to be at least one other ASIM member there. Important connections.

Fourth, the slush process. Electronic Brilliance.

Fifth, it's a big group (15 or 16 members at the moment.) That means individual members can afford to slack off when real life intrudes.

Sixth, we have a rotating editor policy. It's hard to burn out when you get one issue to edit every 2-3 years. (Quite a few of our past members have gone on to edit their own mags & ezines.)

Seventh and beyond .. the magazine is great reading, and I'm proud to be part of it.

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


I just heard the board of directors at Fremantle Press has approved my radical publicity idea for the Hal Spacejock series.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is yet, although I can say that it doesn't involve public nudity or bungie jumping off famous buildings.

Excited, I am.

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

Hal 4 launch invite

I used something like this for the Hal 3 launch last year, but many of you wouldn't have seen it. (I used mine for my contacts, while Fremantle Press put together an official-looking invite for the media and Dymocks.)

This year when I sent my effort to the publisher, to let them know what I was up to, they wrote back and said they wanted to use it.

Here's a thumbnail, and if you click the image you'll get the full 800kb PDF. If you live in Perth and want to help publicise the launch (and the Hal series!) feel free to run off a few copies. Schools, libraries, workplaces .. there are more SF nuts around than you think.

Any and all help with this is much appreciated!

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

Interview with Jeri Smith-Ready


Jeri Smith-Ready ( has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. She holds a master’s degree in environmental policy and lives in Maryland with her husband, cat, and the world’s goofiest greyhound. Jeri fosters shelter dogs with Tails of Hope Sanctuary ( As of this writing, she has hosted twenty dogs at her home, all of whom have found loving adopters.

Jeri’s latest release is WICKED GAME ( (May 13, 2008, Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a cadre of vampire DJs and the con artist trying to save their ‘lives.’

What was your inspiration for writing WICKED GAME?

A song, of course. Not the song “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak—that came much later. Almost three years ago to the day, I was driving down the road flipping the dial and came to a classic rock station playing “Bad Company” by the band of the same name. I thought, Hmm, “Bad Company” would be a perfect title for a paranormal book with a shady main character.

By the time I reached my destination, I had a fully formed idea for vampire DJs who were psychologically and culturally ‘stuck’ in the era in which they were turned. I also knew the heroine would be “bad” in some way. (The punch line is that even though it all began with “Bad Company,” the publisher ultimately asked me to change the title.)

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

I tend to read widely rather than deeply and rarely follow series for more than a book or two, regardless of how much I enjoy them. I’m the opposite of an addictive personality. I’m pretty sure I’d be the world’s first casual crack smoker.

I was completely different as a kid, of course. I read EVERYTHING, especially books by Marguerite Henry, Walter Farley, and Jim Kjelgaard, who each wrote continuing series about animals (and not talking animals, either—usually just plain old horses and dogs). I also loved the Trixie Belden mysteries. Trixie was like Nancy Drew, but with an actual personality.

My all-time favorite book was DOGSBODY by Diana Wynne Jones. It combined my love of animals with my passions for astronomy and mythology. Because of that book, Sirius became my favorite star (not to mention my eventual choice in satellite radio).

My current favorite authors tend to write stand-alone novels or loosely connected series: Neil Gaiman, PC Cast, Charles de Lint, Christopher Moore, James Morrow, Caprice Crane, and John Irving, to name a few. They also tend to be funny.

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

To me, speculative fiction at its core is about what it means to be human. Often it does this by juxtaposing humans with other races or species (like elves or vampires or aliens), or by putting ordinary people in extraordinary settings. I also like the genre’s tendency to push the boundaries of humanity itself.

Why did you decide to make Ciara a con artist?

From the beginning I knew that the main character would have a shady past. Her current job is in sales and marketing (S&M, as she calls it), which is really just a legal form of con artistry. It sounds like a cheap joke, but the two pursuits both require an understanding of human nature and how to manipulate people’s emotions to make them cheerfully act against their own best interests.

Ciara tries to save the radio station from corporate takeover by branding it as “WVMP: The Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” essentially hiding the vampires’ nature in plain sight. She disguises the truth as a marketing gimmick. I loved playing with notions of truth and lies, and I loved watching Ciara’s moral acrobatics in justifying her actions. Con artists are sociopaths with little notion of right and wrong; however, Ciara’s parents gave her a religious upbringing, which she’s rejected, but only on the intellectual level. She still feels guilt.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I’m an avid pro football fan. It’s the only thing in my life that has nothing whatsoever to do with writing, and I guard my time with it like a starving dog with a bone. I also follow politics, but that’s not fun—more like a form of sado-masochistic torture.

What sort of research did you do to write WICKED GAME?

For the musical aspects, the research came by osmosis over the course of months and years. I’d think of a band and then run to (and more recently to learn all about them. Then I’d surf the links to understand the connections among that band and its forerunners and followers.

And of course I read books. One of my favorites was THE ROCK SNOB’S DICTIONARY by David Kamp and Steven Daly. Entertaining, informative, and an incisive look inside the mind of the cooler-than-thou rock snob.

To learn about radio stations, I interviewed DJs and had them ‘vet’ the manuscript when it was in near-final form, to make sure I didn’t have any major mistakes. A highlight of my life was getting a cover quote from Weasel, who used to DJ at the legendary Washington, DC, alternative station WHFS. He said that, disturbingly, he could relate very well to my characters.

Shane McAllister (the 90s grunge DJ vamp) loves Nirvana. Is that your favorite band, too?

Yep, though I was only a casual fan during the band’s actual existence. I was sad but not devastated when Kurt Cobain died in 1995. However, as the years go by and I’ve learned to appreciate the band’s incredible talent, I grieve his loss more intensely.

I suppose the creation of Shane is my small way of honoring Cobain’s life and work and the impact it’s had (and continues to have) on my psyche. I feel a spiritual kinship with them both and wonder if but for the grace of good fortune I’d be in as bad a shape as they were in their lives.

What are you writing now?

I’m working on the second draft of WICKED GAME’s sequel, BAD TO THE BONE (May 2009). That’s due to my editor in a few days, which explains the bags under my eyes. And probably the hallucinations.

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

After three years of writing full-time, I’ve ceased to feel guilty for not writing first thing in the morning. My brain just isn’t wit-enabled before 10 or 11 am.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

Dialogue is by far the easiest. Maybe it’s my theatre background, but my first drafts tend to consist of characters arguing in living rooms and coffee shops. I keep forgetting that novels have infinite budgets for location shoots.

First drafts are the hardest by far. It feels like sculpting air. Once I have a rough draft down, no matter how crap-adelic, I can work to make it better. But that initial creation of the story is torment.

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

I also have an epic fantasy series, the Aspect of Crow trilogy, which takes place in a world where everyone has magic bestowed by their Guardian Spirit animal. The first one, EYES OF CROW (Luna Books, 2006), won the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award for Best Fantasy Novel. The second, VOICE OF CROW, came out last October (a favorite of mine because it was the Book That Almost Killed Me), and the trilogy will conclude this November with THE REAWAKENED.

I also have an older urban fantasy (REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL, Grand Central Publishing, 2001). It takes place in modern day Washington, DC, and Lucifer masquerades as a political consultant. For the first time in his ten-billion-year existence, he falls in love. It changes everything.

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

See answer to #3. I can’t be that earnest twice in one interview.

More about WICKED GAME:

To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows:

Jeri on MySpace:

Ciara on MySpace:

Order links

Mysterious Galaxy


Barnes & Noble

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great service

2000 Hal Spacejock fridge magnets just landed on my doorstep with a groan and a hefty thud. (The groan was the postie. Do you realise 2000 fridge magnets weigh nearly 20kg?)

The printing on the magnets is superb, and I can't wait to get them out to the hundreds of people who sent in their details.

(If you missed out, relax. You can still request some)

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

Just spotted

No, not Hal 4 (bit early for that!)

I've just spotted one of the original Bowman Publishing editions of Hal Spacejock on eBay. There are probably less than 100 of these in the wild, so it's a big surprise to see one.

(This was a short-lived cover. Soon afterwards Hal 1 was released with the original Les Petersen cover, and not long after that Fremantle Press picked the series up and the first book was completely rewritten.)

If you're interested, there's a history of the Hal Spacejock books here

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

Monday, May 12, 2008

Recap #3

Hal Spacejock Just Desserts (book 3 in the series) was released in January 2007, not much more than a year ago. It's a bit soon to do a recap - much like a 15-year-old publishing their autobiography - but I'll give it a shot.

This was my favourite cover by far. Hal's bemused look of resignation, the glorious reds and yellows, the mercenaries with their OTT guns, the Tastee bars peeking out of Hal's pocket, the crates, the coffee, the racing cars and the crazy dress uniform all relate to plot points and gags in the novel.

The good news started in January ... Hal 3 was a number one bestseller at Fantastic Planet, the first Hal Spacejock novel to hit #1 anywhere.

In July Fantastic Planet posted their all-time top 100 bestselling authors, and I made it into the list at position #34.

Then, in December, Fantastic Planet published their top 50 bestselling books for 2007. (Do these guys love to please their authors or what?) Hal Spacejock Just Desserts was #23 on the list, an amazing achievement when you look at the big names.

During this time there were a number of great reviews for Hal 3, many of them on blogs, and I'd estimate that 85% of the feedback indicated this was the best book yet.

All three books have their fans, each willing to nominate their fave title as the best of the series. The challenge is to write new books they'll enjoy, while remaining fresh AND not coming up with anything so wildly different it's not even Hal Spacejock any more.

Finally, earlier this year Hal 3 was nominated for the WA Science Fiction Foundation awards in the 'Best Long Professional Work' category. Known as the 'Tin Ducks', these awards recognise Western Australians. Much to my surprise, Hal Spacejock Just Desserts won the category.

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

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New bookmarks

Still working on the artwork for the new Spacejock bookmarks, but what do you think so far?


(These images are from the front & back)

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

LibraryThing ER

My LT author profile gained a new piccy!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Simon Haynes's book Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch is available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get a pre-publication copy in exchange for a review.

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

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Recap #2

Hal Spacejock Second Course came out in March 2006, just over two years ago, and it's the second book in my short recap of the series.

Now, if there's one issue with Hal Second Course it's this: everyone on the cover looks angry or gloomy. (The same cover artist did the Hal 1, 3 and 4 covers, all of which contain visual gags.)

Not that I'm criticising Hal 2, but I'm eager for the book to sell out so it can be reprinted with a tweaked cover image. The artist will earn a bit more too, so head out and buy Hal 2 now! Quick, stocks are limited, etc.

The book itself earned a bunch of reviews and reader feedback, with plenty of comments along these lines:

I must say that if you enjoyed book one, you'll absolutely love book two - it's miles ahead of book one ... and I loved the first book :)

Next stop was a visit to the Fantastic Planet 2006 bestseller list. From March-December that year they sold enough copies of Hal 2 to earn it position #21 overall.

Next surprise was a nomination for the WA Young Readers Book Awards. Books are suggested by students from schools all over WA, and Hal 2 was accepted as a nomination.

This raised Hal's profile amongst WA school libraries, many of whom purchase large numbers of WAYRBA listed books. A friend of mine working with school & library accounts for a chain store told me she slipped sale-or-return copies of Hal 1 and 3 into every WAYRBA order for Hal 2. With friends like that, who needs a publicity department? ;-)

Then it was Fantastic Planet's turn once again: They published a bestseller list dating back to their opening, and Hal 2 came in at #44.

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

Friday, May 09, 2008

Recap #1

It's nearly 3 years since the first Hal Spacejock novel was released by Fremantle Press, and sometimes it's easy to forget the milestones and achievements that have cropped up along the way. (It took me over five years to find a publisher willing to take a risk on the Hal books, so forgive me if I occasionally thank my lucky stars in public.)

Anyway, I thought I'd have a little recap of the high points since publication. I can't think of any low points off the top of my head, which is high point number one.

Because there are four books in the Hal Spacejock series, I'll break this into four posts. First cab off the rank: Hal Spacejock, book one in the series.

Published September 2005, appeared in the Dymocks catalogue for that month and hit their SF bestseller list three weeks running. It peaked at #3, one spot ahead of Harry Potter 6. (Relax .. that was the HP6 version with the adult cover. The normal everyday version outsold everything else a bazillion to one.)

Earned out the advance in the first week or two. Admittedly it was a rather small advance, but that's often the case with literary houses.

Generated a large amount of positive reader comments and reviews

Penguin started selling the book into schools across Australia and New Zealand, where it's found a strong following. As a side-effect, this led to quite a number of school, public library and literary festival appearances for the author.

Made #25 on the Fantastic Planet all-time bestsellers list in 2007, and most recently was #8 on their top ten bestsellers for March 2008.

Twelve months after release, Hal Spacejock was reprinted with a new Dion Hamill cover.

Now about to undergo a third printing, and my publisher is considering binding the first chapter of Hal 2 into the back.

There are almost a thousand people on the Hal Spacejock announcements list, many of them eagerly (and impatiently) awaiting news of a US or UK release. (That's one milestone which is still eating a hole in my side.)

It's been a long journey with many speed bumps, but with the upcoming release of Hal 4 (and the possibility of a Hal 5 to come), I can feel the foundations slotting into place. Not finished yet by any means.

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

Two ASIMs went into a bar...

A public service announcement on behalf of the Andromeda Spaceways co-op, which is zany enough to have me as a member.

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issues 33 and 34 are available now as a double package in print or PDF from and specialist bookstores.

Two issues, delivered simultaneously!

Not only do you get double your regular dose of fiction from ASIM, you also get stories from Andromeda Spaceways favourites and up-and-coming SF writers.

Edwina Harvey takes the reins for issue 33, delivering her trademark blend of zany and traditional SF fare from a Dragon blogging to tales of ancient breadmaking and betrayal, we'll take you back to the pulp feel of the early SF greats.

Joanne Anderton takes her maiden voyage as editor in issue 34, delivering new piece from favourites Lyn Battersby and Ellie Tupper, outstanding work from up-and-comer R J Astruc, and introducing several new writers for you to enjoy!

Both issues bring you all the enjoyment, entertainment and adventure that every ASIM brings, only twice as much! How can you resist two issues at once?

Issue 33 features fiction by Larry Ferrill, Jeff Parish, Richard S Crawford, Loic Henry, Alex Cohen, Sarah Totton, Simon Petrie (twice!) and Regina Patton, as well as the latest "State of the Art" by Dirk Flinthart and a review of Bruce Boston's Flashing the Dark, by Michael Lohr.

Issue 34 features fiction by R J Astruc. Nigel Stones. M P Ericson. Wade
Albert White, Lyn Battersby, Ellie Tupper, Shana Lear, Tessa Kum
, Poetry by Elizabeth Barrette, as well as a feature on Fantasy from Tehani Wessely, An interview with Jackie Kessler and plenty of reviews.

How do you get it?

Issues 33 and 34 are on sale now at in PDF and print versions. Don't miss out, because issue 35 is coming out at warp speed!

And don't forget, ASIM is open right now for submissions of speculative fiction of up to 10,000 words - see our website for guidelines.

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

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Still on the old

I check the blog fairly often, and today's entry is a great one:

Kodak's first digital camera

I still remember when home computers looked like that - all string 'n' sealing wax and memory measured in kb. In fact, I have several of them stashed away.

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

Blast from the past

I was just digging through my old Atari ST files when I came across a plot outline for Hal Spacejock dated 19th February, 1995. It's over 13 years old!

Here are the character descriptions, lifted straight from the text. Those of you who have read the actual book will note how far from the finished versions these two are. (Clunk in the police force? Wow.)

Hal - about 5'8", fair hair, rugged, a bit slow on the uptake, but generous
and friendly (a bit gullible). Impetuous, head strong.

Clunk - advanced stainless steel robot. Has a good command of spoken
language, and a wicked sense of humour. Secretly knows that his breed of
robots is technically superior to all humans. Has a variety of tools and stuff secreted in various pockets around the place. Looks a bit second hand. Actually works for the galactic police, as an undercover drug cop (!)

If you think that's bad, you should read the Feb 1995 version of the novel ...

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

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Magnets, Update

This morning I put a page on my site offering Hal Spacejock fridge magnets to anyone sending me an SSAE.

Well, I've just upped the offer, and an SSAE is no longer required:

Hal Spacejock Fridge Magnets

Commissioned to celebrate the launch of Hal Spacejock 4: No Free Lunch. Stick one on your fridge, on your car, on your PC case... who knows, one day they might be valuable.

And the magnets could be worth something, too.

To receive yours, just email me your postal address (Australia only).
(I'll send you 3 or 4 magnets and a couple of bookmarks. Keep one magnet for yourself, and give three away!)

If you live OUTSIDE Australia, send an SAE to:

Hal Spacejock Magnets
c/o Simon Haynes
PO Box 127
Belmont WA 6984

Include one US$1 stamp or an IRC along with your envelope, but don't stick it on. (I'll attach an Australian stamp instead.)

1. If you live outside Australia, please enclose either a US$1 stamp or an IRC.
2. Your address won't be used for marketing. I'll just be posting the magnets to you, not entering details into a database.
3. If you repost this offer anywhere else, include the URL and a note that people should check it for availability.

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

Three ...

Three weeks to go until the Hal Spacejock 4 book launch! Invites are being handed out as you read this.

Large batch of Hal Spacejock fridge magnets ordered, and should be here in a week or so. (See the link to obtain yours.)

Early Reviewer packages all but assembled.

Press release plus site & contact list for Big Announcement nearly finished.

More review copies posted (still have three left)

I know, I know. Writers write and publishers do the rest. However, after so many years working in wholesale, with all the marketing that entails, I really do have this stuff in my blood.

Anyway, I want to give Hal 4 a good leg-up before I bury myself in the next book. It's no good throwing a half-hearted effort into these things AFTER the book has been sitting in the shops for several weeks. Everything builds up in the month before the launch, and after that it's all down to the book itself.

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

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Interview with Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough's first novel in the WebMage series, WebMage, was released by Ace in 2006 to considerable critical praise. A second, Cybermancy, followed in 2007. His newest release, CodeSpell, will be out May 27th. And a fourth book, MythOS, is slated for late May '09. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Weird Tales, Writers of the Future, and Tales of the Unanticipated. His illustrated collection, The Chronicles of the Wandering Star, is part of a National Science Foundation-funded middle school science curriculum, Interactions in Physical Science.

For more information and samples of some his short stories you can check out his website: Kelly blogs regularly on writing topics at along with several other members of his writing group including well known authors Eleanor Arnason, Tate Hallaway/Lyda Moorhouse, and Naomi Kritzer. He also occasionally posts at – usually on the 9th of any given month.

Why this book? What made you want to write this story?

That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. This is the third book of a series and certainly part of my motivation for writing it is that this is a fun world to play in and I like these characters enough to want to spend more time with them. Part of it is that I had what I thought was a fast fun plot that continued the story in a way that would be entertaining to write and to read. But probably the most important part of the equation for this book is that actions have consequences. The things that Ravirn did in books one and two have ongoing repercussions and I wanted to see how they played out and how Ravirn would have to grow to respond to them.

Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

Different writers teach me different things at different times. Zelazney and Tim Powers are probably at the top of the list of writers who've affected my work most visibly, though Powers is less present in the WebMage stuff than he is in some of my other, darker work. Norton and McCaffrey and Tolkien are in my bones. Martha Wells is wonderful and so are Robin McKinley and Lois McMaster Bujold.

Why genre? Is there something special about science fiction or fantasy that draws you to write in the field?

I was pretty much raised to be a fantasy and science fiction writer, though that certainly wasn't the intent of the process. I'm a third generation fan of the genre and some of my earliest memories are of having the Lord of the Rings, Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and A Midsummer Night's Dream read to me. I learned very early to love story and genre and once I found out that I could maybe make a living by telling the sorts of stories that were told to me I was pretty much lost.

What do you find most interesting about Ravirn? Why write about this protagonist?

What I love about Ravirn is his combination of idealism and cynicism. He expects the worst of a situation but won't let that stop him from working toward a solution, even when he knows the attempt is probably doomed. That and his sense of humor. I come from a family where humor, particularly black humor and sarcasm, are fundamental coping mechanisms. Sometimes life hands you a situation where you have to laugh or cry, and given any choice in the matter I'll always pick laughter. It may not solve the problem, but it sure lightens the load.

You're a writer. What else are you? What are your interests? Hobbies?

Husband and cat-wrangler are probably at the top of the list for other self-identifiers. My wife and I are coming up on twenty fantastic years together and over that time two cats became three cats, became four cats, became five. I love to read and play video-games. I've got a Gaiman, a Pierce and a Blaylock on the active books pile and I just finished playing Portal and Drake's Fortune. I also like hiking and biking, and since it's spring, I'm at the front end of the annual garden madness.

Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you need to know in order to write it that you didn't know before? Do you have some special preparation you do for your writing?

I didn't have to do a lot of new research for this book. After finishing two novels set in the Greek gods plus computers reality of the WebMage I have a pretty good grounding in this world, and I really only needed to touch up my memory of a couple of the myths involved in this specific story. On a more general note, I read non-fiction voraciously. I just finished a great book on plants in traditional Hawaiian culture as part of a Hawaiian history and mythology kick. I read several science and technology magazines on an ongoing basis and I'm looking around for some good references on the Canadian Maritime provinces in general and on Halifax in particular.

I see a lot of computer and programming stuff in the WebMage series. Is that something that really interests you? Or is it more driven by the needs of the story?

Mostly it's the needs of the story. I love my laptop and the web and I tend to be a technology early adopter if I can afford it, but I'm not really much for programming or hacking. While I have been immersed in computer culture from a very early age since my mother became a bug-checker when I was about ten and has been working as an analyst and programmer ever since and because I've got a lot of close friends in IT, it's not something I'm much involved in outside of writing the books.

Ravirn displays a lot of physicality, constantly getting himself into life-threatening situations and back out of them in ways that involve all sorts of death defying action. I'm guessing that's not something you the writer have an enormous amount of experience with. How do you make that convincing? Do Ravirn's solutions reflect the sort of things you might do in a similar situation?

I'm much more of a thinker than Ravirn, especially as I've gotten older, but I've got to admit to a certain amount of speaking from experience when I have him do something big and physical and stupid like climbing a building and then jumping off. It's not the sort of thing I'd do now, but when I was in my late teens and early twenties I was something of an adrenaline junkie. I was into martial arts and mountain climbing and all sorts of things that are moderately safe when done responsibly and less so when done the way I did some of them. From fifteen to twenty-two I averaged two trips to the emergency room a year, and as I've gotten older that's led to things like a couple of knee surgeries and other corrective measures.

What are you writing now?

A couple of things. I just sent off book proposals for a fifth WebMage and for two books that I would like to write as a successor series to the WebMage/Ravirn books. I've also got a YA I want to work on–the second in a series that my agent is shopping around now–because I'm in love with the story and the world. That's the main front burner stuff. But I've got five complete novels and nine proposals out with various editors and any of those could get moved up the list if they sell. I'm pretty busy at the moment, and I love it that way. There's really nothing I'd rather be doing with my life than what I'm doing right now.

How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you be surprise?

Short answer: I quit theater. Longer version. I set out at the age of eleven to be an actor and was well on my way when I met the woman I would eventually marry. At that point, I realized how incompatible theater was with having a long term relationship and I went looking for something else to do. On something very like a whim I wrote my first novel and fell head over heals in love with writing. Now I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

I write between two and eight hours a day five days a week. On a typical day I get up around eight in the morning, stagger downstairs and collect a unit of caffeine–could be soda, could be tea, it doesn't really matter since it's a delivery system. Then I hop on the treadmill and websurf and read email and the like for an hour or so. At that point I'm mostly awake and I do things like respond to the email or other writing and life maintenance tasks. That can take anything between twenty minutes and two hours. Then I write. Less than a thousand words is a bad day. More than two thousand is a good one. Oh, and, I use a laptop so that I can work where the whim takes me.

Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite? How does the environment you write in affect your production? Your process?

In summer I write in a second floor screen porch. It has a gorgeous view over the park that abuts our backyard, and that sort of near outdoor setting is my preferred setting for writing–I'm hoping to have a more permanent solar built to replace the porch soon. Until then, my winter office is our upstairs sitting room which gets southern light and is a pretty comfortable substitute for my screen porch.

Is there anything you especially like to work on in a book? Anything you hate?

I love world-building and plot-twisting. Figuring out how a system of magic might work and then figuring out ways to game that system fascinates me. And yes, I was a rules lawyer back in my role-playing days, why do you ask? Likewise building a plot and then coming up with ways to add twists or bits of misdirection is a joy for me. I don't really have any hates. There are things that I used to find more difficult, character chief among them, but I'm getting a steadily better handle on the whole process and I just love writing. I even love rewriting, both the sentence level stuff and the bigger more complex story edits.

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

Well, primarily it's the WebMage stuff. WebMage, Cybermancy, and now CodeSpell with MythOS finished and forthcoming and a proposal in for SpellCrash after that. On the novels front, as I mentioned above, I've got five more books and nine proposals out, so that could change at any moment. I've also had a number of short stories published, including an illustrated collection as part of a big middle school physical science curriculum that's been adopted by several states. But that doesn't make an enormous amount of sense outside the classroom setting it was written for.

Do you see fiction as having a purpose? Generally? How about your own work?

Transcendence. I think that human beings need story. We need myths and legends and tales that lift us out of ourselves and that fiction supplies that need. That's another reason I do most of my work in fantasy-if I'm going to be a mythmaker for a living I might as well write the truly mythic.

Sales info:

Amazon: CodeSpell, Cybermancy, WebMage

Barnes & Noble: CodeSpell, Cybermancy, WebMage

Dreamhaven: signed copies

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

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Another Hal 4 review

I had a lot of fun writing this book, even though it involved months of very hard work. So, it's good to see a couple of positive early reviews:

The plot is cleverly engineered so that the lives of seemingly unrelated characters are thrown together in the most unlikely of circumstances which, on reflection, seem perfectly logical. And, of course, trouble is never far away.


Haynes has cranked up the ‘ribald meter’ a notch or two as well, and there are plenty of coy sexual references and double entendres. You could hardly call this racy, however; it’s all good, clean fun.


The Hal Spacejock series is highly amusing and addictive fare, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

Full review here

(The book won't be out for 3-4 weeks yet, but that gives you plenty of time to pick up and read the first three, doesn't it?)

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