I Now Haz Agent!

If you didn’t see my raging howls over social media, it’s that I NOW HAZ A LITERARY AGENT.

I am now represented by John Jarrold of the John Jarrold Literary Agency, and my film/TV rights represented by Julie Kane-Ritsch of The Gotham Group. John Jarrold picked up my space opera/murder mystery noir novel called THE ROGUE GALAXY, with a strong blend of Scandinavia noir and a body count in the triple figures.

John Jarrold edited and acquired novels by Michael Moorcock, Iain M. Banks, and Robert Jordan, and his current clients include John Gwynne, James Bennett, and Melinda Snodgrass, who I now share an agency with. He also represents Adam Nevill, whose novel The Ritual is releasing as a feature film this October.

It’s not about rubbing shoulders with the big folks (well, maybe a little), but more about the assurance that someone who’s worked with these giants know their stuff, and that you and your project be in good, safe hands.

I spoke with John Jarrold over the phone and felt he was the best one to represent my work. I had interest from other agents, but went with John in the end. But these other agents were so gracious and polite, some telling me that while they didn’t think they had the right contacts to sell it, or didn’t connect with it entirely, they were fans and couldn’t wait to pick it off the shelves one day. There’s so little indication if you’re Doing It Right, and it’s a relief when you get picked up.

But yeah. Agent! We’re going to start doing edits soon, and then it’s off to publishers and I’m absolutely over the moon about this. Thanks again to everyone who beta read the novel, helped revise the query, gave me advice, or just cheered along from the sidelines. It all helped and I’m very pleased to be here now.

The Novel is DOOOOONE

 

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My spacepunk novel about drug cartels, alien narcotics and fanatic cults is complete at 113,000 words.

It’s the first adult novel I wrote in first-person, and it’s also the very novel where I put the characters first. I’ve always included character arcs and backgrounds, but this is the first time where the characters and their voices drove the story. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write another way. Whereas my last novel taught me about world-building and scene-setting, this one taught me so much about characterization and voice and agency. I learn with everything I write, and this one certainly has, too.

I wrote the novel I wanted to write. It took six months because of editing my other work and restructuring, but it’s done and I love the end result. It’s gonna need edits, and beta-readers. But I haz another novel and I am very excited about it. I almost didn’t want to finish it, because I love these people and this world so much, but that’s what a dozen rewrites and rounds of edits are for.

But for now it’s done and I hope to bring it to you guys someday.

Progess Report: 2017

So 2017 has been busy in a lot of ways. We’re already one month down and halfway into the next. Could thing is I’ve kept pretty busy.

I’ve seen a number of films this Oscar season, including La La Land, Lion, Split, Hackshaw Ridge, Arrrival, (loved them all) Passengers, Live By Night, Nocturnal Animals (didn’t think too much of ’em) and read a few books here and there, including Stephanie Garber’s fabulous Caraval. But I’ve been pretty busy with my own work, including the space opera/murder mystery that’s been eating up my creative time since April 2016. I got further feedback from narrators that required some major structural edits in the first crucial third of the novel, which cut a pile of pages and unnecessary words and made the novel much sharper. It’s in the absolute final polish now with the query and synopsis being written and polished in tandem. I’m incredibly happy with it and hope that it finds a home.

But then it’s back to my other novel, which I halted at 50k to edit this previous one. I haven’t written many shorts in this time, which is going to change once I get some novel work done. Although I do have a (great) part time job, earning some dough from fiction never gets old, and so sketching up a cool cool 4,000 words at pro rates is something I’d like to do. Plus it gives me a great chance to experiment with areas I’m weak with or themes and characters I’d like to explore but not willing to donate an entire novel to. So I’m doing that soon.

But something pretty cool is coming: just a week ago I interviewed Colin Gibson for StarShipSofa. Name sound unfamiliar? But you know his work: he was the head production designer for Mad Max: Fury Road. The man designed and built the weapons, the sets, the look, the aesthetic, and all 150 cars for the film. He also got to work on the background, the storyline and the world-building for one of the most striking and critically acclaimed documentaries films ever put to screen. This guy won an Oscar for his work, beating out Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and the Martian. 

I’ve met him a number of times in person outside of my work for StarShipSofa and spoken to him at length about Fury Road and the industry (and got shown a few things related to the film that I can’t actually reveal or talk about). I told him about the podcast and he agreed to be interviewed. So I interviewed him about this fantastic, insane monstrous of a motion picture and how he helped bring it to life in all it’s Australian glory. It’s going to be out soon and I do hope you’ll check it out then!

Yearly Round up and arbitrary award eligibility

Say one thing about 2016: it’s been one interesting year. I graduated from university (still haven’t found a job in my field, though) officially moved into my own apartment, and started really living on my own accord. It was also the year where I trudged through the last 1/3 of a novel hating every word of it, splashed out on a 125k epic space opera (currently on draft 8 of it) and wrote 45k of a new month within one month. Not bad, I think. I managed this partially because I’m only working three days a week (my current job is a laborer, so work begins and ends at the jobsite). Between cooking, cleaning, housework and General Life Nonsense, writing is what I do. I don’t get up and watch films or play games on my days off, although I very well could. But I sifted through more than 200,000 words in novels alone this year because I made myself have a schedule and I stuck to it, vicariously. ADHD doesn’t make that easy, but sometimes you have to shove a 12-guage in its mouth, pull the trigger and get back to work. And work I did.

From this point on it’s safe to say that novels will be my focus. The sort of material I want to write and my style of writing just doesn’t jive with the shorter form. Short fiction is economic, tight and demanding, and the top markets even more so (along with finicky and very specific in what they want. Quality is top notch, some of the best SF/F material you’ll find. It’s just not what I’m writing), and novels give you that 100,000 words of leg-stretching smoothness and room to write a character arc worthy of a HBO show (looking at you, Boardwalk Empire). I’ll still be writing short stories, but they’ll be quick desserts between the main meal that is a 130k word chiwawa killer.

It’s also the year that I didn’t sell many original short stories. I had quite a few published from 2015 sales, most noticeably one story that was reprinted six times, including in audio, in Flame Tree Press’s Dystopia Utopia hardback anthology, and in China’s SF World magazine. But I got my first anthology invitation, which netted me my longest sale at 7,000 words, which is also my first non-flash, original pro sale.

In 2014 and 2015, I’d churn out a swathe of so-so stories and scattershot them until I got a sale. This year I’ve been deadshotting each one: didn’t have many sales, but almost all were neither to major venues and projects or at pro rates. Pretty happy there.

 

Anyway: this is what I had out:

FICTION:

 

The Galaxy’s Cube – published in print at Abyss & Apex and in audio at The Overcast.

Walls of Nigeria – published in Nature

Skies of Sand and Steel published in Fantasy Scroll Magazine

The Bronze Gods – published in Dimension 6 (website appears to not be working?)

Last Age of Kings – published in audio at Fantasy Scroll Magazine

(All are short stories)

NONFICTION:

We’re Going Places – published in Lightspeed’s People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction

Five Slavic SFF Novels You Should Have On Your Shelves published at Tor.com

 


I’m also eligible for the John W. Campbell Award and for the Hugo and Nebula Awards. And of course, as an editor the podcast I edit, StarShipSofa, is up for Best Fancast at the Hugos. If any of these strike your fancy, you’re more than welcome to throw my dottings on your ballot pile.

Onto next year!

Tor.com publication! Also, outlining.

So…my Tor.com article about the best Slavic sci-fi and fantasy novels went live a few hours ago. I so very rarely see any discussion centered around Eastern European SF/F or Slavic culture in general.  Possibly because (some) Americans hold the view of Slavic SF/F as part of what’s assumed to be whitebread Western European fiction, or doesn’t constitute as “diverse” enough (example: some of the criticism hurled by Americans at The Witcher 3 and its development regarding cultural aspects). So I’m incredibly happy that the folks at Tor.com gave me the chance to discuss it on their website and bring a new chunk of cultural diversity to the table. There’s a great discussion going on  and it’s great to see that the article stirred so much of it up and to really soak it in. It’s already got 300+ likes on their Facebook page and seems to be doing very very well – I’m seeing it all over Twitter and several page groups, and that makes me pretty happy. My fellow Ruskies would be proud. You should be able to check it out over here.

I’m hoping to pitch another article – or even a series of ’em – that discusses SF/F from each chunk of the world: ie the top five picking from South America, East Asia, Scandinavia. I’d love to bring more diverse fiction to the table, and if that’s my way of doing it, then awesome. Let’s hope that happens.

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The last few nights have been super busy due to the Japanese Film Festival (which has been amazing so far – will write a post about it soon), but between screenings I’ve been outling my next novel. I have a very good idea of the world, character and what needs to happen, it’s just the plot that I need to figure out. But when I do…it’s full speed ahead. I’m going to try and write every day until it’s done and see if I can beat my previous 90 day record. I can’t wait to jump into this one. I almost feel sorry for my protagonist already. <i>Almost</i>.

<a href=’http://www.starshipsofa.com/blog/2016/11/16/starshipsofa-no-460-marc-laidlaw/’>Also, my 100th edited and produced episode of StarShipSofa came up last week.</a> And it’s a Mirrorshades story by Marc Laidlaw. In total it’s estimated that the episodes I’ve worked on have accumulated over one million downloads. Pretty happy with that.

 

Progress Report, Novels and Asian films

The last month or so has been busy…and it hasn’t. Not much short fiction writing – barely at all in fact. But I do have a few things coming up. I’ve got another story from Science Fiction World that’s been reprinted and translated – I should be getting my copies any day now. I’ve also got an article coming up at Tor.com, which should be launching in a few days.

But novels are what’s important to me right now. Even if the world gets destroyed and the Earth smashed to oblivion within the next four years (you can read into that subtext however you like) and I never get a novel on the shelf I’m still going to focus on them because I enjoy writing them the most. I’ve got one that beta readers are tearing into right about now (already got some fantastic feedback from some. Seriously, you need beta readers. Full stop.) but I’m also planning my next one. Outlining was one of the best things I ever did, but I still pantstied a lot of the way and it cost me.

So I’m going to be planning my next one pretty soon. Can’t say much more than that, but it’s my dream novel and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it.

In other news, besides finishing and very much enjoying Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and watching the fantastic Westworld, I’m heading off to the Japanese Film festival. There’s some great showings and of course I couldn’t catch them all. But here’s what I am seeing:

After the Storm
Hime-Anole
The Top Secret: Murder in Mind
The Sun
Creepy
The Inerasable
Erased

I’ve already seen the opening film, After the Storm. It’s a slow burner, slice-of-life film that I was happy to see once, but wouldn’t do so again.

I spent the first fourty-five minutes waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did and by the time I realized that the film wasn’t about a moving, cohesive plot but a quiet character study it was almost over. The script could have used some serious tightening, but overall I enjoyed the fact that I’d seen it and could move on. I tend to do that with a lot of films – I’ll sit through one even if I don’t love it because it’s only two hours of my life and I can strike it from the list afterwards, and it’s great to soak up a diverse film list, even if you don’t always love the experience. Can’t do the same with novels, games or TV shows, but I can devote two hours to a film if I need to.

Anyway, it’s back to novel editing and planning right now. I’m seeing Murder in Mind later today and getting ramen with some mates beforehand (c’mon, you need the whole experience to enjoy yourself to the hilt), but if you’re lucky enough to have a foreign film fest playing near you I suggest you see what’s on tap. There’s some rare gems in there.

New Fiction and reprints and stuff

If you’re one of those poor sods who follows my social media you’ll know that almost for the past two months I’ve overseas in Europe. It was a good trip, visited almost a dozen countries and got to see a lot of old friends. But that also means there’s little time to write, let alone blog. And while I’ve been away I’ve had a number of goodies released online or purchased. I’ll link ’em up here.

 

First is my latest piece from Nature, Walls of Nigeria. A story set in a future West Africa, with alien biotech and armored suits a la Halo/Crysis.I’ve been wanting to write this sort of story for a long, long time now but never had the guts. But I decided to hell with it and wrote it. The word-choice and worldbuilding is so strong in this story that it needed a lot of editing to truly knock it into the shape it needed to be in. But so far it’s been getting incredible feedback from everyone’s who read it (including some bloke on twitter who said it was Nature’s best piece. Which is…wow) and I’m very, very happy with it and the ending. Do check it out.

 

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The second the audio release of my nihilistic faux-Lovecraft/secondary world fantasy “Last Age of Kings” over at Far Fetched Fables. I don’t usually listen or like audio adaptations of my work, but Mark Kilfoil absolutely kills the narration and I listened to the whole thing twice. Even though I wrote it nearly two years ago it still seems fresh – all thanks to Mark, of course.

You may listen here.

 

The third is a mouthful: my short story, “The Galaxy’s Cube” has been killing it as far as reprints ago. It’s picked up an audio adaptation over at The Overcast by the lovely lovely J. S. Arquin who does a great job of wrapping his tongue around the tricky Thai names and phrases – very happy here. Check it out here.

It’s also been picked up to be in the hardcover anthology Dystopia Utopia by Flame Tree Press. This one is special because not only did I get pro rates for a reprint, the books are widely available in quite a few bookstores. Flame Tree have gotten their name around and I’ve seen their anthologies in bookstore chains and even in those tiny portable bookstores you see in Westfields. And this down here in Australia. A country that never gets anything. I’m told they’re in UK stores, too, although uncertain in the American front. I’ve already spoken to my local bookstores who’ve carried previous Flame Tree anthos and they’ve agreed to order it in and actually asked me to pop in and scribble a signature in ’em. This is a sale that could rival the one I made to China (for the same story, no less).

Anyway, you can pick up a copy on Book depository, which ships internationally for free. Come on, you know you want a copy.

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It’s it for now. I’m still editing my novel, and there are some other sales I can’t yet discuss (both originals and reprints) but all in good time. Otherwise, onwards and upwards.

The Novel is DONE

It’s done. 123,566 words and I typed THE END on my space opera noir novel.

After 91 days, it’s finally, finally done.

It was done last Thursday, but I’d written 6,000 words that night and I didn’t want to see another keyboard for a weekend at least. But now I’m happy to announce that it’s done and finished.

The first draft, that is. It’s going to take a mountain of effort to unscramble that mess and knock it into something resembling a coherent narrative.

But it’s done.

I feel like Uma Thurman from Kill Bill, standing above the restaurant dojo of Crippling Self Doubt and seeing all the defeated brain weasels on the bloody floor and saying, “All your words are belong to me”.

I wrote everyday for over three months. Every single day. Even the day where I had a ten-hour shift and went out in the evening, even if it was 100 words before collapsing asleep. I kept chiseling away to get the end result.

I absolutely love this novel. After my last project burned me out I had to write exactly what I wanted to write. Genre tends or hot-off-the-press type work be damned. I wanted to take a shot at writing a murder mystery in the deepest reaches of space, with a strong sense of space opera exuberance, and I did.

My plan is to write up a sketchy synopsis of the novel, as well as a detailed list of things that need to be fixed. But I’ll be taking a bit of a break. After a few weeks I’ll try my hand at a short or two, polish up an ugly draft that I’ve got sitting around, maybe do some nonfiction, and then it’s time for revision. A lot of revision.

But for now, I need to clear my mind and take a mini-holiday. After writing almost 125k in 91 days, I think I’ve earned it.

And I’m going to try my best not to think about just how much it sucks and needs work. Wish me luck!

 

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