The Writer as busker

Stone Goddess UpdatedI’ve been self-publishing/indie publishing for about four years now. Learning as I go. Kind of like a busker or a street performer. Out in public practising. Getting better as I go, I hope. Taking courses and reading books and learning all the time, too.

On occasion, some kind reader buys one or other of my stories, like tossing money into a buskers cap. It’s encouraging. I hope they enjoy the stories they purchase as I practise in public.

With the learning, as soon as I feel I’ve got a handle on the writing, I seem to discover some new technique or approach. Often things that seem obvious. Right away I incorporate that into my writing, with various degrees of success. When I look back over my stories, some I’m very proud of, others seem to have been written by a different person.

The other key thing I’m learning is business. That’s a much tougher road for me. I don’t think I’m a natural entrepreneur, so I have to concentrate. I have to make an effort to take those risks, invest some cash, and push into those realms that are a whole lot more uncomfortable.

One of the things I’m beginning to look at are some of those older stories, with bad covers and terrible blurbs. Case in point: Stone Goddess. It was a fun little story I wrote some years back. It got published in an anthology titled Horror Through the Ages from Lame Goat Press. No monetary payment (at the time I was fine with that: I was happy to be in print). It also got a podcast at Cast Macabre (and seems to be still available, for free). Again no monetary payment.

At some point along the way I realized that giving stories away was not a path to making a livelihood (slow to catch on, I know).

I started putting my stories up on Smashwords, Kindle, iTunes, Kobo, Nook and so on. Even putting some of the longer ones in print. I did my own covers. I wrote my own blurbs. Learning all the time.

Now, I’m going back and gradually updating some of those older works with some of the things I’ve learned more recently. So “Stone Goddess” has a new cover. To my embarassment, I’m putting the old cover next to the new. I like the new one better.

Original cover image by me. New cover image by © 1971yes | Dreamstime.com

I’ve redone the interior too, and added a couple of other stories to fill it up a bit (“Stone Goddess” is kind of short) for some value for money. A new blurb too:

Top Mars researcher Ben James loves getting out into the field. Under the stars. Into the dust and stone.
But today something’s amiss. Something’s out there. Calling to him.
Something he’s got to find.
Even if it means breaking every protocol.
A short story from the author of The Molenstraat Music Festival. Includes three bonus Mars stories.

I think it could still use some work, but I dare not show the old blurb (omigosh amateur ramblings).

The story is pretty much available at your favorite ebook retailer. I’m thinking about making a print version (though it’ll be slim). If you’ve read this far (thanks) here’s a coupon for a free copy from Smashwords. Click here and enter the following code:

Promotional price: $0.00
Coupon Code: XH22Q
Expires: April 26, 2021

Five years was the longest I could set the coupon for. I think you have to create a Smashwords login – if you’d like a copy without all that palaver, just let me know here.

All that said about going back, I am continuing to go forward. Trying to write better stories. Working on having consistent covers. And writing sensible, engaging blurbs.

Busking.

On writing Athena Setting

Athena Setting (1)Back in mid-April I commented on Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post about choices. I realized that actually my comment fitted with my own blog and, in fact, could stand expanding.

When I was a teenager and wanting to be a writer and writing lots, I also drew covers for novels I would write someday.

It was kind of self-encouragement: in those days I had no idea how to write a novel. But it was cool to have a pretend cover with my name on it. In the intervening years I might have learned a couple of things about how to write a novel and I’ve practised plenty by writing a fair number of them.

So in January of this year, wondering what to write next, I remembered about that teenage dream. You know what? I sat down and wrote one of those novels. Now I have a book for my cover. Athena Setting. About a space mission gone wrong, a trapped crew about to plunge into Jupiter’s atmosphere while the would-be rescuers struggle to come up with a workable plan.

I will, of course, write a more attractive blurb for the release.

Naturally, I also have a new cover for my book (that pencil scratching would look out of place, and it seems is in fact long gone). A wonderful image by Mik3812345 sourced from Dreamstime.com. I’ve tinkered with that a little. I think it helps tell the story. I do think I’ll update that tagline too – maybe “One hundred hours till rescue, ninety hours till impact” which kind of sums it up a little better.

The novel should be out around the end of May (maybe early June) as both an ebook and in print.

But after saying all that, let me tell you, I had such a fun time with the writing of the story. I got to be that kid again. It might not be my best novel, but I hope my sense of fun and adventure comes through. The kid in me can’t wait to hold the book in his hand. And try out writing another one.

 

Environments – experimental music compilation from Scriptsound Recordings.

environments - ArtworkI’m pleased to have the Venus Vulture track “A Sidelong Glance Reminds Jeanne of the Time She Lost Her Keys” appearing on the ScriptSound Recordings “Environments” compilation. This is a new venture for me – into some darker and busier sound work – and I’m pleased to say I feel right at home with the other artists there. Some familiar names too – nobodisounz, December Nighskies (thanks Kendall for the pointer).

It’s a free download from archive.org.

Full Tracklist:
1. La Horde Poliorcétique – Berthelot
2. A Sidelong Glance Reminds Jeanne Of The Time She Lost Her Keys – Venus Vulture
3. If I Were Invisible – Ricky Tesla & The Noise Generator
4. A Temporary Thing – Ricky Tesla & The Noise Generator
5. Spirits At The Crossroads – Ian Quiet
6. Consumed By Midnight – December Nightskies
7. Strangers In A Foreign Land – Ricky Tesla & The Noise Generator
8. Low Matter – nobodisoundz
9. Liberation – Dr. NoiseM
10. Abandoned Machinery Succumbing To Nature – Ricky Tesla & The Noise Generator
11. Esthetique Des Publicites Lumineuses – Painful Defecation
12. Matanza – 5ebuts
13. Sleepless Hysteria – Sir Edgar Carpenter

10,000 words and counting for April

honeydew

As I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere in my mutterings, I make sure to write every day. I also have a word-count target every day. The target gets flexible: I’m aiming for a half million words of fiction for the year, which spreads out to around 1373 words per day (it’s a leap year, that spreads it even thinner).

So far I’m ahead of my target. Well ahead, in fact (169,000 completed, averaging around 1725 words a day). I did have some days with no other commitments and wrote over 5000 words on each of those, so that’s helped bolster the tally. Fewest words on a day was February 10th with just 503 words. Don’t recall what got in the way that day.

It’s great having my momentum up – I recommend it, in fact. Already in April I’ve gone over 1500 words each day, with a high of 1815. That high was the day I finished a novella and started in on a new novel. 10,000 words for the first six days of April. Pretty good for me. Best of all I’m having fun.

Venus Vulture track on Behemoth Compilation

behemoth20various20artists20compilation20coverKendall Keeler of December Nightskies has put together another compilation of ambient and dark ambient tracks.

Behemoth has 21 tracks by various artists, including my own Venus Vulture track “Components From Air Filter Residue, Daytona Speedway, February 2016”. One of my longer pieces – a little over 14 minutes – that I hope covers a lot of ground, while still being very unobtrusive.

I also sneak in with a Shadows on the Snow (my collaboration with Kendall) track “The Snake is on the Prowl”.

This follows Kendall’s Leviathan compilation from October/November last year. Many of the same artists return. This is shaping up to be a fine series of eclectic sounds. I’m honored to be a part of it.

Behemoth tracklisting – total time is almost 3 hours
1. BERTHELOT – La caverne du Behemoth
2. December Nightskies – Heaven Or Hell
3. Ari Porki – A Great And Mighty
4. Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt – Short Poem For Aretha Cooper
5. eisenlager – NCC-1701
6. Venus Vulture – Components From Air Filter Residue, Daytona Speedway, February 2016
7. Everything From Nothing And Head Joint – The Revolutioner’s Dream
8. Gun Urrainn – Discontact
9. Globoscuro – The Glowing Eye Of NGC 6751
10. Something Like Squids – Imaginary Fireflies (Excerpt)
11. Pixyblink – Observer J
12. nobodisoundz – blakk solarsolstice
13. Shadows On The Snow – The Snake Is On The Prowl
14. Hilyard – Exodus
15. Robert G. Rough- 42 Days (Part 3)
16. CNTV – Renace
17. December Nightskies With Scott Lawlor – The Judgement Of Satan (Excerpt)
18. Mach Feedback – A Fool For Illusions
19. Oystein Jorgensen – Cold Wave
20. VAULT – Presents for Katherine
21. Sir Edgar Carpenter – Perversis

Sir Julius Vogel Award Nominees Announced

SFFANZLogoWebHeader The list of nominees for the upcoming Sir Julius Vogel Awards is now available. I’m honoured to have my name among some fine company.

I’ll be attending the awards on June 5th in Wellington at Au Contraire. Now, it may not seem obvious, but I have in fact never attended a Sci Fi Con. I suspect I’m in for a fast education.

Anyone have any tips on etiquette, behaviours and mores?

Aurealis Award Eludes me

aurealis awards Last night’s Aurealis Award Winners have been announced. Unfortunately I could not be in Brisbane for the ceremony. My congratulations to all the winners. Well done.

I missed out on the “Best Novella” award. That went to Garth Nix. Congratulations and a hearty handshake to Garth.

Of course, being up against someone who’s a New York Times Best-Selling Author, I was philosophical about my chances. Garth’s writing is spectacular, all over the board, and I’m sure he’s doing things I can’t even fathom. My learning will continue.

Now I keep my fingers crossed for June’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards (kind of New Zealand’s equivalent to the Aurealis. Double the chances there with two nominations. I’m sure the competition will be as strong. At least I will be attending the ceremony at Au Contraire this time.