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Carry on up the Amazon I've been thinking a lot about Amazon lately. Specifically, I've been thinking about them since the end of July, when I did my end-of-financial year tally of ebook sales. I have two sale/publication channels - Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), who fairly obviously handle Amazon (and nothing else), and Smashwords, who convert manuscripts into a variety of formats...

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Signal boost - Snapshot 2014 Hi folks, Tonight, rather than talk about myself and writing, I'd rather talk about other folks, who are in turn talking to other, different folks about writing. Lemme back it up. Back in 2005, Australian SF author Ben Peek decided to interview 40-odd Aussie spec-fic writers . It was a pretty interesting glimpse - one might even say a snapshot - of the local...

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Framed Scene framing: Threat or menace? Messiah or Antichrist? Floorwax or dessert topping? ...well, I thought it was funny. Here's a simpler question: What the hell is scene framing? Scene framing is a term thrown around a lot in gaming these days, and it's the simple act of setting a scene for play, ideally play that is immediately interesting. Here's one description...

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Moving day (weekend) (week) (fortnight) Like any writer worth his/her salt, I work in a garret. Well, a back room in our house, anyway. It's reasonably garret-y. But the time came to expand my study into a larger office, one that would accommodate more shelves and an extra desk. And that time came, and went, and came back again, until two weeks ago we decided 'okay, time to move furniture this afternoon'! ...it...

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A Q-and-A with Jason Nahrung It's been aaaaaaaages since I've had another writer on here to discuss their work and their process - blame me and a year of just wanting to talk about myself. But I'm shrugging that off, I hope, and so it's a good time to start getting a few other perspectives on things. And who better to start with than Jason Nahrung, whose profile has become bigger and brighter in...

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Moving day (weekend) (week) (fortnight)

Category : Uncategorized

Like any writer worth his/her salt, I work in a garret.

Well, a back room in our house, anyway. It’s reasonably garret-y.

But the time came to expand my study into a larger office, one that would accommodate more shelves and an extra desk. And that time came, and went, and came back again, until two weeks ago we decided ‘okay, time to move furniture this afternoon’!

…it took longer than an afternoon.

Possibly because this was my workspace, the place where the magic happens:

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It contained the normal things you would expect on a writer’s desk: papers, more papers, Post-it notes, index cards, bits of Lego, dice, pens, photographs, coffee cups, toast crumbs, character sheets, thermal gloves, assorted cables for devices I no longer own, CDs for albums I long ago converted to MP3, vitamins, cufflinks, a really big thesaurus, poker chips, clothes pegs painted to look like Batman and Wonder Woman, tax records and dust.

So much dust.

Anyway, most of that material got put somewhere for safekeeping…

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…while the rest of it moved about four metres down the hall.

This process took two weeks.

In my defence, I also assembled a bunch of furniture in the process. And broke-and-then-fixed the internet. And discovered that you shouldn’t mix tequila and major painkillers.

Oh, what an adventure that was.

But! I’m happy to report that I’m in the new office, along with my wife and our dog. All the shoes are lined up neatly, all the graphic novels and D&D sourcebooks are in a neat Ikea-grid, a new office chair that won’t break my spine is being picked out…

…and I’m back to the writing. Of course.

(PS For this, and for other reasons that mostly involve Real Life and me being crap, The Obituarist II is behind schedule.)

(At least try to look slightly shocked.)

 

 

The state of the union, 2013-14

Category : Uncategorized

Hiya kids,

Last week’s post was a bit epic; this one is a lot shorter. It’s the end of the financial year, so I’m doing a bit of an audit of projects past, present and future to see what’s what.

In no particular order:

  • I spent about eight times more on publishing my ebooks this year than I made back in sales. This may be some kind of record. Oh well, good thing I don’t rely on writing (or at least this kind of writing) to pay the rent.
  • I made 82 cents from Smashwords sales. Pretty much ready to stick a fork in that site. But how else to get my books onto non-Amazon sites?
  • Alpha-reader reports on Raven’s Blood are coming back in, and so far they’re all pretty positive. There’s work to do, but it’s not like the whole concept and/or execution is fucked. And believe me, I was worried.
  • I’m behind schedule on Obituarist II, which I’m sure comes as a huge fucking shock. But the cover is done! And it’s great!
  • 015Kinda gotta start getting my shit together for this year’s US trip in November.
  • Speaking of shit, plotting out a new short story. It’s about the Devil. And bowel movements.
  • Trust me, it’ll be good.
  • My dog is pretty freaking cute.
  • Even if he does keep stepping on my crotch when I’m trying to write.
  • The X-Men: Days of Future Past soundtrack is boooooooooooooooring.

Okay, that’s me done. See you on the opposite side of the profit/loss ledger.

Obligatory end-of-year blog post

Category : Uncategorized

Ah, the end of the year.

At this time it is traditional for us to gather together and paw through the smoking embers of the last twelve months, picking through the ashes for nuggets of gold and occasionally holding up charred bits of regret to ruefully show them off. Then we all get drunk and promise ourselves the next year will be totally different, completely awesome and hopefully less flammable.

Are you tired of that sort of thing? I think I am. I was getting ready to write a 1000-word post about the things I learned in 2013, but when I sat down at the computer I realised that I didn’t really feel like writing that – and that, more importantly, I was pretty sure that no-one else would be all that interested in reading it. We’ve done that before, we’ve all danced that dance, and it’s probably time to change the music and switch to the hokey-pokey instead.

So let’s cut to the chance and do an executive summary. (I do a lot of those, now that I’m an executive.)

Pros of 2013

  • I went to China, France, Germany and Finland
  • I got an awesome new job
  • GenreCon was totally excellent
  • We adopted a pretty great dog
  • The people in my life are pretty much all awesome

Cons of 2013

  • One of my best friends died
  • I didn’t finish writing Raven’s Blood
  • I didn’t finish writing much else either
  • The Abbott government

Things I Want Plan to do in 2014

  • Finish, revise and polish Raven’s Blood and find a publisher for it
  • Write and self-publish Obituarist II: 2 Pinterest 2 Posthumous
  • Write more short fiction and maybe even find someone to pay me for it
  • Become more involved with the Melbourne writing scene, or at least some other writers
  • Go to the US, eat barbecue and have a few drinks with Chuck Wendig again
  • Hang out with my wife and my dog

Things I Will Probably Also do in 2014

  • Drink too much
  • Spend too much time playing games and not enough time writing
  • Come home after work and feel too drained to write or do anything creative
  • Make excuses that I know are bullshit
  • Blog excessively

That probably covers everything. Man, if only I was writing this novel in bullet point form. I could have done the whole trilogy by now.

In closing, many thanks and much respect to everyone who’s stuck with this blog, and with me, in this year where I didn’t get a whole lot done. I probably would have done even less if I hadn’t been worried about disappointing you.

Hope you folks have a good end-of-year celebration, if that’s your bag, and I’ll see you in 2014 – The Year of Living Dangerously (Because You Keep Getting into Bar Fights with Robots).

 

Hello Europe, this is Melbourne calling

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Category : Uncategorized

Let the silence end, let the trumpets sound, let the word go out across the land – I have returned from my European tour!

…well, technically I got back last week, but I didn’t get home until really late on Sunday night and I was tired. So let’s just pretend that I snapped right back into my blogging schedule straight away rather than being a lazy arse for a week.

But yes, I’m back in Melbourne and into the daily grind after visiting Paris, Berlin and Helsinki, as well as coming home via Townsville (I had my reasons). It was a pretty awesome trip, spent wandering the sights with my lovely wife.

Highlights:

  • Exploring the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles
  • Witnessing the silent dead (and sleeping security staff) of the Paris Catacombs
  • Gazing at Monet’s Water Lilies in their original installation/gallery
  • Just so much art in general
  • Wandering the streets of Berlin and drinking its very cheap beer
  • The incredible DesignPanoptikum in Berlin, a ‘surreal museum of industrial objects’ that is basically the best place ever
  • Pretty much everything else in Berlin, which is like the 90s with wifi
  • Vodka with Cam Rogers and dinner with old White Wolf contact Mikko Rautalahti in Helsinki
  • Two days of non-stop beer and movies with Townsville friends to shake off the jetlag

Lowlights:

  • Getting gastroenteritis on the third day and being left too weak to properly explore Paris with my wife on our freakin’ honeymoon
  • Saying goodbye to said wife as we left Berlin, when I headed to Finland and she went to the USA

It was kind of amazing. There are photos over on Facebook if that appeals to you.

And now I’m back.

The other thing I did in Europe was sit in bars, cafes and restaurants, pull out my laptop and work on Raven’s Blood.

That’s right. Writing while on holiday. Writing while recovering from sickness. Writing when I could have been drinking instead. Drinking Euro-booze.

The influence of GenreCon appears to still be in effect, and I may have at last found the writing work ethic I’ve been missing all these years. I keep wrapping up a couple of chapters a week, which isn’t all that much in real terms (about 4000 words) but it’s text that I’m happy with and that’s likely to stay fairly stable as I revise, tweak and polish. More like third draft than first draft, I think. I hope.

Anyway, even as lots of writers I know are smashing their NaNoWriMo targets, I’m achieving the less-impressive task of just getting my work done – and indeed of looking forward to working on the book. Which is a personal milestone for me.

Another will be finishing it, of course. Please keep holding my feet to the fire for that.

I also, while lying awake at 4am thanks to illness and jetlag, came up with the core premise and major character and plot elements of an entire horror/urban-fantasy (but mostly horror) trilogy called Underneath the Skin, which I can best describe as a mix between Silent Hill and Scarface. It’s a story about drugs, gangs and urban crime mixing with warped hell-scapes filled with blood, rust and atrocities; two underworlds colliding with one not-too-sympathetic protagonist in the middle.

(That could also describe Chuck Wendig’s rather awesome The Blue Blazes, except it’s totally different.)

Lying awake at night and thinking up plots is not that unusual for me – except that this time I wrote it all down in the morning, with notes for all three books and the progression of the main character. This is much better than what I normally do, which is forget all about it forever by lunchtime. So once Raven’s Blood is finished and I’ve taken care of The Obituarist II: Obit Harder, the next project may well be Scar Tissue, the first book of this new series.

That’ll happen any day now. Trust me.

And on that note – and because I don’t have a whole lot to say other than ‘hey doodz, I’m back’, I’ma gonna get back to work on the book. There’s a big fight scene I have to complete – and as we know, fight scenes are awesome.

I’ll be back another time to talk about Big Important Issues and similar stuff. After the crossbows and explosions are wrapped up.

Category : Uncategorized

Our cat Graeme died this morning.

This is all I can say for a blog post tonight.

Me and G

A hiatus in E minor

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Category : Uncategorized

Hiya folks,

After much thought, I’ve decided to take a break from regular blogging for a while.

Sobbing

Come on, it’s not that bad, I promise.

It’s just that I have a lot on my plate now – day job, Raven’s Blood, some freelance editing, a semblance of a social life – and taking the time to write two posts a week is really eating into what I have left. (Especially as, despite all my sensible advice, winter weariness and SAD is kicking my butt right now.) Something’s gotta give, and for the next while it’s going to be the 2-3000 words I spend blogging every week.

That doesn’t mean no blogging at all, because having a platform for saying what I think (even if no-one’s listening) is more addictive than blue meth – so I’ll probably pop up now and then to spout off. But the usual two-posts-a-week schedule is getting retired for about, hmm, two months or so. Hopefully that’ll be enough time to really knock off a big chunk of the novel, get some other projects out of the way and build up a head of energy again for sharing my feelpinions.

Emotions

Please. It’ll be okay. I’ll be back soon enough. Just like Dan Harmon.

Got my hands full

Category : Uncategorized

Hey space cadets,

I’m kind of distracted right now because I’m working on my pitch/application for the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship, a great program where the Centre gives writers a desk, a quiet space and a thousand bucks and asks only that they knuckle down and write in return. If that sounds cool, you should apply for consideration, as they have several slots free; just make sure to a) get it done by Monday and b) not push me out by being better than me. I WILL take that personally.

I’m also distracted by my aged mother, but the less said about that the better. It’s all a bit crazy up in here.

Anyhoo, in lieu of me entertaining you this evening, how about you go read the AMAZEBALLS responses to Text Publishing’s editorial want ad, download the new Splendid Chaps podcast and check out Subatomic Party Girls over at Comixology. That should keep you going until Sunday night.

 

The dog ate my homework and other true tales of early onset dementia

Category : Uncategorized

I think there’s something wrong with my brain.

I had tonight’s post 80% written earlier today, but not quite finished, and saved it to my USB drive to finished and post tonight.

I love my USB drive; 8 gigs filled with music, story notes, RPG PDFs, works-in-progress and various e-miscellanea, including some day-job page proofs I wanted to double check over the long weekend.

So I saved some stuff onto there, got it all ready, and then cheerily got the train home without realising that I’d forgotten to take it out of the work computer and put in my bag. Despite thinking less than two minutes earlier that I had to remember to take it out of the work computer and put in my bag.

And I do this ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I think there’s something wrong with my brain.

(Yes, yes, I know, Dropbox. But work is a bit leery of people using Dropbox, and I have to respect that.)

So no clever blog post tonight in which I present and then dissect a prose fragment I found in an old notebook. No chance to look at the page proofs this weekend. No possibility of working on the Raven’s Blood manuscript despite this being the perfect goddamn time to nail a couple of chapters.

Sigh. I hate me sometimes. My own worst freakin’ enemy.

Anyhoo, no point crying over spilt neurons; I gotta head out to start reviewing Comedy Festival shows for Crikey. Let’s hope I don’t misplace my review notes or forget how my autonomic systems function on the way to the train station.

Ignore me

Category : Uncategorized

Hola folks,

My peoples and I have gone down to a property outside Ballarat for the long weekend.

It’s fucking hot, internet access is intermittent and I’m spending most of the time drunk, so it’s not the best environment for writing a good blog post.

So here’s a picture of some random meme crap, and a promise to come back next Sunday with something more interesting and coherent.

Now if y’all will excuse me, there’s a hammock with my name on it.

Hi/bye/Shanghai

Category : Uncategorized

And he’s back!

In the last seven days I’ve flown to Shanghai, ridden a maglev train at over 400 kph, drank lacklustre cocktails in a bar with an incredible view, wandered through street markets, gotten lost, saw a cute baby nearly cause a riot in a department store, bought a bespoke suit and additional clothing items for practically nothing, witnessed a marriage proposal on the bullet train to Beijing, was turned back after entering the Forbidden City (ironic), nearly froze to death in Tienanmen Square, ate duck, walked on the Great Wall of freakin’ China in subzero temperatures and surrounded by impenetrable fog, read and then deleted a whole pile of ebook samples on my Kindle, explored the alleyways of the French Concession, paid my respects at the Jade Buddha Temple, got dressed up to drink better cocktails in a bar with a lesser view, sailed the MoonBoat, went to the world’s most amazingly shithouse chocolate-based theme park (complete with Harry Potter’s Murder Room I SHIT YOU NOT), walked out of a goddamn terrible restaurant, bought a friend a Godzilla onsie and flew the redeye for 10 hours back to Australia.

What have you been up to?

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Me being me, I also spent some time thinking about what I could draw from the experience to use in my writing, most of which came back to my current theme of worldbuilding.

And I’ll make some posts about that, but not tonight. Because I’m tired.

So wǎnān, peeps – I’ll start throwing around the thinkwords again this time next week. Tonight I’m off to bed.