Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jail

Space drama and prison drama. My two favourite genres. So mixing the two HAS to be a winner. I'm looking forward to the Besson produced MS1: Maximum Security (click the link for Trailer goodness). I'm hoping for something with the humour and visual panache of The Fifth Element. And for it NOT to be like Fortress, which was pretty dumb.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paul

Paul Haines is an extraordinarily gifted writer and a good friend. Cancer however is getting the upper hand in what has been a very long and painful battle and Paul has now announced the end of his writing career.

Paul has achieved more in his writing than many others I know, and I've been privileged to work with him on co-writing projects as well as commissioning, editing and publishing his work. You can find information about all his published works on his website. If you haven't read any yet, you should.

Next

Yes, the next thing for coeur de lion is to publish Adam Browne's Cyrano de Bergerac novel Pyrotechnicon. I've been circling this one for a while, as I wanted to do a novel next up and Adam's been looking for a home for his work. I remember critting an earlier version years ago at our first ever Serapeum. It's come a long way since then and it's very good - balancing the witty wordplay and wyrdness that Adam does so well with an engaging and pacey plot and great characters. All the info is in our press release.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Conflux Eight

I'm very honoured to be invited to be one of the guests of honour at Conflux Eight in Canberra on the weekend of September 29 and 30, 2012. I'll be there in my capacity of publisher with coeur de lion publishing, and we'll be making an announcement soon about something else we'll be doing at Conflux.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Festival!

What a brilliant day at the NSW Writers' Centre Speculative Fiction Festival. Kate Forsyth and Centre Staff did a fantastic job and the whole thing went smoothly, including the launch of Anywhere but Earth. Richard, Alan and Margo read to a quiet crowd on the sunny lawn and afterwards we sold mucho books.

I also really enjoyed the two panels I was on. The Publisher's Talk was a great cross section of indy and mainstream publishing, and thanks to Leigh Blackmore for this picture of the panel.

L to R: Russell Farr (Ticonderoga), Me, Claire Craig (PanMac), Zoe Walton (Random House), Stephanie Smith (HarperVoyager)







In the afternoon, it was time for the Small Press Panel with Russell, me, David Henley of Seizure Magazine, my old mate Stuart Mayne, and Alan Baxter of Blade Red Press. I think everyone enjoyed themselves as much as me.

Today I'm finally relaxing after that long climb to get ABE out. It's been worth it, the view up here is great, but it's time to smell the flowers for a while.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Se-wrap-eum

And of course I attended the Serapeum novel retreat a couple weeks back with fellow authors Rjurik Davidson, Andrew McCrae and Peter Hickman. Four days of intensive critting did just what I needed it too. Gave me some passion for the Kresh novel, made me question some key elements, and set me loose on a rewrite, which is going pretty well in terms of developing some real drive and momentum to character and plot. :)

Timeslip

Of course the reason I haven't posted for so long is due to moving house and... launching Anwhere but Earth. Yes, it's big and beautiful and for sale in a variety of 'p' and 'e' incarnations here. And the official launch is at the NSW Writers Centre tomorrow.

Thing 2

Woah! Where did the time go? I've seen that Rotten Tomatoes only gave The Thing 33% or thereabouts. Well for the lovers of the John Carpenter version, this The Thing was like a long overdue love letter. There may have been a couple of slow spots, but the majority of the movie recreated that fearful paranoia, expanded the alien backstory and created some beautiful set pieces which interlinked with key parts of the Carpenter movie in a way that brought a smile to my face. I'd give it 80%

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thing

I am so looking forward to seeing the new movie The Thing . I loved the John Carpenter movie and this prequel looks like it pushes all the right buttons. The isolation, the paranoia, and the pant-browning horror of the monster.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Covered

The cover and internal layout for Anywhere but Earth have been finalised and you can see the whole wraparound cover here. The book is off to the printer now and I'm waiting for the payoff that every editor/ publisher loves - holding the freaking thing in my hands for the first time!

Still nowhere to live as yet :(

However now that the proofreading is done I'm able to concentrate on reading the draft novels of my Serapeum buddies. Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson is on my Kindle right now, and at the 75% mark, it's rocking along. Next up is Andrew Macrae's monster truck novel which has been bubbling away for many years now, and 70,000 words just landed in my 'in tray' from Peter Hickman. Thankfully that's all! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Time

There's nothing like editing an anthology to put your writing off the rails. Kresh has stalled because I'm wrestling the 700+ page behemoth that is Anywhere but Earth past layout and final proofing and into final shape for printing. Mind you I've finished all but the final battle in Kresh and sent it off to my Serapeum crit besties, so I should have good feedback from them in early November to launch into the final straight. And the plan is that Anywhere but Earth will launch in early November which should leave me clear. Assuming I can move house between now and then. And not go totally mad because I have NOWHERE TO LIVE and the lease is up in less than a month. Light a candle for me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ebooking

Into the copyediting long haul on ABE and also learning the gentle art of ebook coding. Having cut my html teeth on dreamweaver it seems to be pretty straightforward, particularly using the mobi software, but we'll see. Lots of beta testing to follow no doubt. As part of my research I downloaded a couple of sf anthos via kindle. The Year's Best SF 16 (containing a story by my bestie Cat Sparks) is a really nice Kindle ebook. The page looks clean, the sections good and the hyperlinking works seemlessly. That one was by HarperCollins Eos. By comparison the ebook of The Year's Best Science Fiction 21, from St Martin's Press is a bit of a mess. The pages are all right indented in the author intro bits so there's a lot of screen that's blank, and the first paras of new sections aren't full out as they should be on the printed page. The title text font for stories (and hyperlinks) isn't to my taste - but that's a minor quibble - but whoever did the hyperlinks to the authors' names was either dyslexic, drunk, or didn't give a sh*t. For example John Varley is displayed as John Vauiey, Charles Stross is Crarles Stross, Paul Melko is Paul Malko and the year 2003 is displayed as 2,003 - embarrassment. Hopefully the ABE ebook will look more like the HC offering than St Martin's Press. We'll see.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

order

The structural edits on the - now - 29 Anywhere But Earth stories are done and next up is page proofing. In between I've been contemplating the 'order of stories' as they will finally appear in the anthology. It's been a really pleasing thing to do because it's let me contemplate the spread and the quality of accepted stories all over again. And it reminded me that there are a lot of strong pieces in there. It was only the work of a few minutes to come up with a running list, balancing length, theme, and feel to create some real contrasts of light against dark. I'm now sitting on that list for a couple of days to see if things shift in my thinking before I announce the final order. Then it will be time to bend my mind to a few nuts and bolts issues: ISBNs, page layout, print quotes etc. Slow progress, but progress all the same.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mirrors

My chick lit urban dark fantasy story 'A Mirror, Darkly' has just been released in ASIM #51.

This story has a very long writing history, which is par for the course with me, being written variously in Sydney and Glasgow and various late night/ early morning stopovers in Singapore and the like while I was going back and forth across the world when my mother was ill and finally succumbed to late onset leukemia.

An early version of it appeared in stages on my livejournal site. But it's moved on a lot since then and, I think, in better directions. Thanks to Simon Petrie for buying it and treating it right. I did have an offer from an earlier editor but they wanted me to get rid of most of the swearing and all of the sex, which - when you read it - would pretty much leave me with nothing.

I also have to tip a nod to the ubiquitous Mr Haines for some early encouragement. I took a leaf out of his book and invested a lot of truth in this story, leavened with a modicum of lies.

Oh, and you can buy it as a pbook or ebook here.

And because we authors like our little ego-boo...
Over at Simon Petrie's blog, 'Mirror' is described as, 'Keith Stevenson's slowly smouldering novelette of sex and aberrant reflections'. Nice!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good Stuff

Watching Source Code last night I was pleased to see a very well put together science fiction idea presented on screen. Parts of the movie had a Twilight Zone feel and Jake Gyllenhal acted his eyeballs out. There were moments towards the end when I feared it would veer into schmalz. Director Duncan Jones’s earlier movie Moon almost did that too – but again it was another solid sci-fi idea. However the ending was more than satisfying and the other characters in the movie were well played. An adult science fiction movie that doesn’t fail to entertain. It’s interesting to see the rise of this phenomenon, and it is now officially a phenomenon when you look at Moon and Inception. The latter has probably done more to cement the probability of more intellectually stimulating sci-fi movies seeing the light of day. But it is a satisfying trend.

Actually watching the upcoming trailers I was amazed to see how many movies coming up I really wanted to see. Captain America actually looks like it will be good, ditto X-Men First Class, shit even the next Transformers movie looks kind of cool in a Michael Bay OTT sfx kind of way. And then there’s Joss Whedon’s Avengers to look forward too.

Speaking of sci-fi and spec fic more broadly, the annual Aurealis Awards went off very well (in Sydney for the first time) last weekend. In fact it looks like the women really took home the majority of the awards – lift your game guys. Case in point: only three books made the science fiction novel shortlist, written by two women. They were all very good, but it’s pretty bad when there’s not enough good novel length sci-fi out there to round out a shortlist of five.

The TISF podcast is now well and truly over. I sold the podcast mic, to a podcaster who is just beginning her podcast adventure, so I know it will continue to be used well. A lot of pretty cool Australian spec fic writers mixed their spittle on that mic – hmmm, better not go there. As for me, I’m concentrating a bit more on me and ‘me and my partner’ stuff from here on in. Certainly the coeur de lion adventure will continue but I want to relax a bit more at home, read books I want to read – not because I have to review them – concentrate on the writing, yes, but also just do other stuff: learn the guitar, go for walks… I’m getting old – 49 last week. Okay not so old, but in the last year or two I’ve been through the whole ‘wow you’re actually going to die someday’ thing. Hopefully a long way off, but it’s important to concentrate on the things that give you energy and happiness. That’s where I’m headed.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Endings

As the princess in Dune said, ‘a beginning is a delicate thing’ — or something like that. Well an ending is pretty blooming delicate too. After saying for months I was approaching the endgame for the Kresh, and then finding some — hopefully entertaining — business that my characters had to attend to before that, we are finally at the spot where weapons must be drawn. And that’s caused a bit of a problem. I’ve been writing this thing over such a long period of time, I’ve lost track of a lot of the detail: who said what, who knows what. But I kind of need that front brain so I can tie up all the loose ends. This has forced me to stop forward momentum and actually type up the 62,000 hand written words and read the other 120,000 typewritten words, before I get back into crafting an awesome denouement. Oh well.

Speaking of endings, I just posted the very last Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction Podcast. Thirty shows over two and a half years is not bad, and I want to thank all the authors who gave freely of their time, stories and vocal talents. I had a lot of fun doing this, learning how to use the technology, editing up the stuff and posting it and I think people enjoyed listening. But there comes a time when all the work starts to be a bit of a drag. That’s why I decided to end it. Time for something new.

My favourite TISF episode? That would have to be 'Come To Daddy' TISF #14 , a very entertaining story from my Serapeum buddy Brendan Duffy, with some cool raps laid down by another Serapeum mate, Matthew Chrulew. It was a lot of fun to edit.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Progress

Things are really popping now, Jeldon-wise, with some major plot points being revealed. We're in the end game which will lead to a simultaneous battle between the opposing Kresh on their homeworld and a major space conflict between the Hegemony and the Jantri - and whoever else they can round up - in the unforgiving environment of tenspace. This is just as well as my sometime writing buds are firming up plans for our semi-annual novel crit workshop 'Serapeum' for the last week in October. The line-up this year will be Rjurik Davidson, Andy Macrae, Peter Hickman, Paul Haines and little old me.
I'd like to get the novel finished to get to them by 1 July. This means some major keyboarding as I've pretty much written the last half longhand. Of course the parrallel story of poor, unloved Rhys and how he gets to join Jeldon against the humans will not be done, but at least I can give them an idea of how it fits in. Full steam ahead!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hiatus

A break from writing during Easter. Hey I’ve been doing it pretty solid since my last break at Christmas so I reckon I was owed it. During the break I’ve been editing stories for Anywhere But Earth and reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. I just finished book five over the break. To my mind it’s a fantastic tale, filled with real humanity, lots of incident and maintains the tension about the main protagonists' overall quest. I have a lot of respect for Stephen King and the dedication required to finish the seven books is an interesting tale in itself and one that demonstrates a useful lesson in stick-to-it-ness.

Apart from writing I went to see Suckerpunch the other week. I thought Zac Snyder’s take on Watchmen was the best movie experience of 2009. Suckerpunch carried high expectations and leaving the cinema I wasn’t sure how I felt. Part of the reason was that I watched it at Imax and I’m finding that the Imax screen is just too big to provide an enjoyable movie watching experience. Instead of being immersive, I find close-up action scenes become jerky and confusing. As to the film itself it’s part action movie, part arthouse and part music video. With the benefit of distance, I think on the whole that Suckerpunch was a good movie. The plot really rewards post-watching deliberation and has a lot more to it than flashy graphics. Also I think Snyder is to be applauded for being ambitious enough to try something that had the potential to confuse an audience that was mainly there to see big explosions and cool fights. There is a serious intent behind Suckerpunch and hopefully Snyder will be allowed to continue to demonstrate his vision to the cinema public. Tonight is a guilty pleasure of another sort. I’m going to see Thor J

Friday, April 15, 2011

Space

I haven't blogged for a long while, mainly due to the fact I've been coming to grips with a new job. But that doesn't mean nothing has been happening.

Work on The Way of The Kresh Book Two continues. It's slow and methodical progress and I'm finding myself in a very fortunate place. Knowing where the story is ending up, I'm letting the characters and situations lead me at present and finding some suprises along the path to my ultimate goal. It's a really nice, no pressure, creative space to be in and I feel privileged to be here. This is where the real creativity occurs, before the painful rewrites and backtracks and the inevitable scrabble to get published.

Meanwhile over at the coeur de lion site, I've just announced the author line up for Anywhere But Earth.  So I'm beginning the editing process now. I'm doing this onscreen and trying out a few new features that Word 2007 has to offer. Hopefully it will be painless for me and the authors.

Episode 29 of the TISF podcast has also just debuted, with Chuck McKenzie doing a great reading of 'Like a Bug Underfoot', though if you don't like swear words you may want to give this one a miss. I've decided to hang up the podcast mic after Episode 30. That's two and a half years of programs and I find I'm a bit 'been there done that' about the whole thing. It's a lot of work and I'm at a place now where I've mastered the skill of podcasting and it's not new and fun anymore. This is why I gave up editing Aurealis Magazine too. I think two to three years is my maximum attention span for a project. Hopefully, however, with TISF I've left something that will stand as an archive of the voices of today's Australian speculative fiction community. That's a good feeling.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Editors

Apparently they may soon be dead as a species. Thanks to the ever-burgeoning self-publishing market, particularly since ebook sites like Smashwords have made it so easy and cheap.

I can see the advantage for writers. No more rejections, just get your excellent stuff out there were it can be read. There is a downside to not having editors, however. I haven’t made a longitudinal survey, but I have read a couple of these self published ebooks now and I do speak from the very recent experience of reading over three hundred short story submissions over the last twelve months for the upcoming ebook and print anthology Anywhere But Earth.

There is an art to editing work and also in collecting short works together in a book. While there are many authors who produce good, publishable stuff, I’ve worked with enough authors and had my own work probed and polished enough to know that a good editor is invaluable for clearing out the unnecessary, the poorly expressed, the badly structured in a work and really making it not only a better story, but a greatly improved reading experience for the poor consumer.

The self-published ebooks and the story submissions I have read over the last year were all open to being improved by an editor. In short, they weren’t as good as they could have been. With the very odd exception, the individual stories didn’t sing as well as they could post-edit. And for the ebook collections, the parts of the whole weren’t shown to best advantage either. As I mentioned there is an art to selecting and arranging stories in a book. You have to consider the groupings, the emotional highs and necessary quieter segments, the avoidance of thematic repetition; all that good editor stuff.

None of that is going to change the rising tide of ebook self-publishing. And for the most part, people will carry on, thinking ‘close enough is good enough’. Except it’s not. That’s what I worry about. That the reader, confronted with work after work that hasn’t been touched by an editor will eventually be turned off the reading experience altogether. That’s the point where we all lose out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Work

Yes, real life intrudes. A new job is really focusing my attention right now, but the writing regime is progressing with Rhys and Jeldon back on homeworld. Hey, they just took a guy's head off. Not much time for anything else, except to put out a huge shout for Shaun Tan's Oscar for The Lost Thing and a huge groan for the lack of Oscarage for Inception, the most challenging sci fi movie I've seen in years.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ditmar time

Dear reader. It is Ditmar nomination time again. Allow me to humbly submit for your sophisticated consideration such things as I have been busy producing in the 2011 Ditmar Awards eligibility period. And if you feel them worthy of nomination to go into the Ditmar voting shortlist, that would be peachy!

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
The William Atheling Jr Award is for the writing or editing of a work or related work of criticism or review pertaining to the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.



 Best Achievement
This award recognises an outstanding achievement related to science fiction, fantasy or horror and not eligible in any other category of these awards.
  • Terra Incognita Australian Speculative Fiction Podcast, Keith Stevenson (producer/ presenter), a monthly podcast of "the best Australian speculative fiction read by the authors who created it". (TISF website
And the nomination form is here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cost

Related to DRM is the issue of ebook costs. Horror writer/ publisher Shane Jiraiya Cummings is hosting a grand discussion about ebooks over on his website, and inviting publishers, authors, editors, readers and anyone else with a point of view to pitch in and discuss the epublishing phenomenon. The discussion is running for the whole of February and I've jumped into the debate on ebook pricing with a little piece entitled:

“Do you know what you’re paying for, and are you happy about that?”
Books are very cool. Ebooks are cool, too, but they are not pbooks (a term I’ll use from now on to differentiate ebooks from books made out of dead trees). Ebooks are very different from pbooks and that difference goes a lot deeper than some people realise. And you can pay quite different prices for the various formats. This is such a new market, no-one’s really nailed down what value to attach to what format and how that value should be reflected in the cost to the consumer. Authors, publishers, and retailers all have their own ideas, and it’s a topic I want to look at a little deeper. So what are the options for you in 2011 if you want to read a book?
Read the rest of the post...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

DRM

Digital Rights Management has been much in my mind lately, particluarly after the launch of the booki.sh site and this and other posts scattered around the internet. It really boils down to ownership and the increasing move away from ownership when it comes to ebooks to 'licensing' or, worse still, now 'access'. It means you buy a thing but you never own it, and that stinks. It goes way beyond copyright law, and if you don't believe me, read Cory Doctorow on the topic.

I think it's time for everyone to get sensible and rethink the whole DRM thing. Ownership and the rights of the consumer are being increasingly eroded, based on the assumption that consumers are all evil rip-off merchants. We're not.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Covered

While we're talking about excellent Science Fiction, over at coeur de lion publishing, we've just revealed the first image mock up cover for the upcoming anthology Anywhere But Earth that I'm currently editing.

It has a nice retro feel and, I think, nails that sense of wonder we're trying to get at for the collection.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wow!

Sara Creasy is an old friend and colleague of mine from the Aurealis Magazine days, and an awesome editor and writer. It only seems like 8 years ago we were sitting around, talking about the novels we were going to write (and yes, I was talking about the Kresh even then). But Sara obviously had more sticktoitness in those intervening years, because that novel she was dreaming of - Song of Scarabaeus - was published in the US by Eos in April last year. And a very good novel it was too, full of kick ass SF action, excellent world building (literally!) and solid characterisation. (Don't believe me? Read my review.) So it's particularly gladdening to hear that Sara's writing has been recognised elsewhere with a shortlisting on none other than the Philip K Dick award for 2010. I feel very chuffed for Sara and kind of tingly/ sparkly that I had a little bit of contact with that novel when it was in its formative stages. Go Sara!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A gift

Surfacing from a dream on Sunday morning with an image of what Jeldon and Rhys might find hidden on the Kresh homeworld could say two things about me. Firstly, I have no life. And/ or secondly, that old subconscious has been working away as usual and thought it would throw me a gift for the weekend. I'll choose 'Box B', thanks.

This literally came out of the nowhere that is somewhere. I can't say too much about it because it's quite a big spoiler about the plot, but not only has it suddenly made my protagonists' journey that much more interesting, it also has repercussions for book three (if it ever sees the light of day) and says a lot about just how callous the Hegemony's operations have become.

In any event, it's all going down in writing over the next couple of weeks while I chart the journey across Jeldon's homeworld :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Opportunity

A two week gap in the novel while I enjoyed the holidays, but instead of getting a bit rusty writing-wise, it gave me a chance to reflect on the latest action and what's coming up. That meant a slight rewrite of a scene where Jeldon is confronted by non-excised Kresh. I'd realised that he wasn't active enough in that scene and needed to do more and it feels better now.

Now I'm closing in on what I think will be the second last section of the story, where Jeldon and Rhys go to the Kresh homeworld to discover the hidden Kresh rebels and organise a counter-attack on the occupying Hegemony forces. I've been kind of dreading this section as it was only ever inferred in the short stories I wrote about the same events and I only just decided that Rhys should accompany Jeldon as I was working through the previous section so it felt like a big blank canvas: off-putting and, well, empty! But the break has given me some perspective now and I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities. Firstly it's a chance for Rhys and Jeldon to really get to know each other and for us to see their interactions. Secondly they're going into occupied territory on the Kresh homeworld. Jeldon had a taste of life under the Hegemony before he escaped, but just how much worse have things gotten in the intervening time? I feel I really want to show what's happened there. Also the pairing of human and Kresh in a setting where together or individually they will be in danger from Hegemony, rebel Kresh and/ or traitor Kresh makes me think there must be heaps of possibilities for jeopardy and action. Now I just need to work out what all of that will be and write it. Simple!