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 finished Resident Evil 7 (I loved it!) 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. Yeah. That big.

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 Australia gory glory. It’s going to be out soon and I do hope you’ll check it out then!

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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!

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 body horror 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. And it’s also got one of the best/creepiest pieces of artwork I’ve gotten for my fiction (although the armor’s about a century or three behind what I imagined it’d be, I’ll take it).

 

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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.