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9th March, 2011: The week that never ends

And it’s only Wednesday, right? Busy busy. Busy busy is good in some parts, but bad in others. Tonight I was forced (FORCED) to eat a very amount of Chinese food and drink a pear cider (not actually perry, I don’t think). Forced, I tell you.

So there’s no blog action here, but over at EscapePod, I give a little rundown of two forthcoming British SF/genre awards. Go check it out!

Editing? On hold. This isn’t according to plan, but I did say this week would be busy. Here’s to the weekend… wait, I’ve got TWO more days to go? Oh man. On the plus side, I have managed to get a lot of writing admin stuff done, which included sorting the paperwork on another short story which I’ve just sold. I mentioned this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll have more info on that shortly.

4th March, 2011: Biscuits and tea

…as opposed to cigarettes and alcohol I guess. Today was a day off. No work. Out to a nice pub for lunch with the Mrs, also on a day off. Well, I say ‘day off’ but then I had to endure a lengthy conference call at five o’clock (seriously, who schedules a conference call for 5pm on a Friday night?) and now having eaten my bodyweight in Fox’s Golden Crunch Creams and watched episode 36 of Dark Shadows (hey, only 1,189 to go!) I’m pretty much ready to call it for the day. Game over. A comfy bed beckons and a few pages of Firestarter – which, I’m pleased to report, suddenly picks up at around page 150 and has become the usual King page-turner. Good, I was worried for a moment there.

Now, some Friday action:

  • The shortlist for the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke awards was released today, featuring six rather interesting novels, each quite different from the other. The ACCAs, as they would be called back home in New Zealand (as in “Ackers”; oddly this doesn’t seem to have caught on here in the UK) usually provoke a fair amount of debate, which I’ll be engaging in myself over at EscapePod (once I’ve recovered from this overdose of delicious, delicious biscuits), and this year doesn’t look any different. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which book I’m rooting for.
  • To wit: until Monday, 7th March, 1200 GMT, you can grab the ebook of the Acker-nominated Zoo City by Lauren Beukes from the Angry Robot bookstore for just one of your English pounds (£1). No DRM, no geographical restrictions. You need this book. It’s good. Real damn good. £1 is nothing. Hell, buy two copies, email one to a friend. They’ll thank you for it.
  • Today’s Friday Flash from Emma Newman, she of the dulcent tones popular amongst our US cousins, is a wee little superhero short. And a good one at that.

Now, remember how I was saying that when I don’t do my 2k words, I get grumpy? This is still true. But tonight is a night off, celebrated with those biscuits (those damn delicious biscuits). Next week is going to be hellabusy, so I’m counting this night as a battery recharge. Am I grumpy? Nah. Will I be grumpy tomorrow if I don’t hit my target? Oh yes. Stay clear if that happens!

23rd February, 2011: Not the best week ever

15th February, 2011: Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance

I’ve mentioned The Wasp in the Lotus several times now and charted its progress on this blog. For those who missed it, this is a steam/clockpunk novella that checks in at around 21,000 words. I wrote it in January on commission, which is the first time I’ve had to commit to a sort of write-on-demand schedule. It was hard work but it was fun, and I hope the end result is entertaining. And now I can spill the beans on what I wrote it for!

The Wasp in the Lotus is one of five novellas appearing together in a steampunk anthology from Echelon Press, a US-based small press. The anthology, Her Majesty’s Mysterious Conveyance, is due for print and electronic release in May this year, and my story sits very proudly alongside novellas from Jennifer Williams, Kim Lakin-Smith, Sean Hayden, and Nick Valentino. If all goes to plan we should have some stock available in time for Alt Fiction at the end of June, which myself, Jen and Kim will be attending. I understand there is a press release coming from Echelon, but the word got out on Twitter last night.

And what better way to celebrate than with the pinball number count from old school Sesame Street. Right? Well, I just so happened to be watching some vintage episodes this morning (what?), and I noticed that this classic piece of animation (which I first saw when I was probably 3 or 4 years old) is actually steampunk. Seriously. Check out the video and see if you can spot it.

Strangely enough, I’ve got an index card on my corkboard for a story about very high altitude airships. Which means Sesame Street counts as research.

*cough*

Writing
Yesterday was a busy day for writing as I worked on both Godless and Hang Wire. In the former I tied up chapter six and sent our hero on his way to the town of Sentinel, Wyoming. In Hang Wire, Ted, having suffered blackouts and lost time, heads off to San Francisco’s Chinatown district, following the directions given in a mysterious note signed in Korean that was slipped under his apartment door. It feels good to be back in both of these worlds, and they are different enough that working on both on the same day didn’t seem to pose any particular problems.

Project: Godless (horror Western novel)
Words today: 841
Words total: 20,131/100,000 (20%)

Project: Hang Wire (superheroes and serial killers in San Francisco)
Words today: 1219
Words total: 32,872/100,000 (33%)

Total words today: 2060
Total words for 2011: 51,857

Reading
Books: some pages of Firestarter by Stephen King.
Comics: None yesterday. Although I just acquired a job lot of classic Marvel GI Joe comics, so I may need to add those to the list sooner rather than later.

To the devil, a podcast!

I’m pleased to be able to spill this particular plate of beans. Or is that a tin? And have I had too much coffee today? The answer to both of those questions is: possibly.

Anyway, starting tonight, Dark Fiction Magazine is podcasting my steampunk horror novella, The Devil in Chains! The story is in five 30-minute episodes, read by the wonderful Emma Newman. Emma first approached me with the idea of doing an audiobook of The Devil in Chains last year, being someone who enjoyed the story. She’s a pro voiceover artist, and her narration of my story is the bees knees.

The Devil in Chains was first published in Pantechnicon in two parts in 2008 and 2009 – there is more info about that here, as well as some blurbage. Producing the podcast version with Emma was a blast, and I can’t thank her enough for the superb work she put in. Emma is a writer herself, and her first novel 20 Years Later is due to drop from Dystopia Press later this year. She’s also on Twitter, and I recommend you follow her at once.

Blue Monday? Getouttatown.

16th January, 2011

Writing
Finally back on schedule with The Wasp in the Lotus. I still have a feeling it’ll be over the 20k word limit, but I’m ready to chop as needed. The primary objective now is just to write it all down!

Project: The Wasp in the Lotus (steampunk/clockpunk novella)
Words today: 2,058
Words total: 6,423/20,000 (32%)
Total words for 2011: 28,233

Editing
A little done on Seven Wonders, and I really mean a little. I need to stop procratinating and step up to this one. I’m dallying on it because I’m still at the stage where I’m trying to do two things at once – correct mistakes and fix/improve the writing, and improve the story. While both of these tasks have to be completed, on this pass I need to focus more on mechanical correction and just make notes on the good, the bad and the ugly. Improving the story is the purpose of the next pass, once the writing has been fixed.

If I can separate those two things in mind head – and I will, it’ll just take a few days – then I’ll be able to truck on.

Project: Seven Wonders (superhero novel)
Pages edited today: 5
Pages to go: 526

Reading
Books: Some pages of The Dead Zone by Stephen King.
Comics: Still on hold. Too much else to do, although I am looking forward to getting back into it.

In other news, yesterday I found out that my vampire short from Hub magazine, The Nightmare of You and Death in the Room, is on the longlist of nominations for the 2010 British Science Fiction Association Awards. Now, this is the longlist, and it is rather long and filled with the mighty, mighty names of a lot of authors and artists I really admire. But while my story is gauranteed to vanish from the shortlist, which is supposed to be announced shortly, I’m living in the moment! This is my first fiction award nomination ever – my Sir Julius Vogel Award was for editing rather than writing – and while I have no idea who nominated it or how many nominations it received, I’m absolutely chuffed that someone, somewhere liked the story enough to think it deserved it. That, as they say, is reward enough. But I do mean it.

As a note: yesterday the final longlist was announced and posted in the BSFA forum thread above. As of this morning, the final longlist has been removed and the previous iteration left. My story is still on it, but I haven’t heard any more about why the final longlist was deleted.

You can read the nominated story for free at Hub fiction.

2nd January, 2011

Going strong on day two. Yes, this is early days, and I’m still on holiday, but heck, call me an optimist. But despite a late start today thanks to the iOS bug which deactivated my alarm this morning (apparently all will be well tomorrow), which resulted in me getting up sometime around eight, I’ve done my list for the day.

Project: Hang Wire (superhero novel)
Words today: 2,030
Words total: 20,099/100,000 (20.1%)
Total words for 2011: 4,328

There was actually a mistake in my tally yesterday – I did write 2,298 words but this brought me to 18,069 total on Hang Wire, not 15,771. Ahem. I’ve gone back and fixed that.

I finally finished spell-checking Seven Wonders and formatted it for Lulu printing. Hopefully the trade paperback will arrive this week, although Royal Mail has become utterly unreliable over the last month. I decided to forgo any kind of fancy cover and instead wrapped the paperback in a big fold-out page from an issue of Green Lantern. It’ll be interesting to see how Lulu copes with such a busy and colourful piece of printing.

Reading: I managed another chunk of The Long Walk today, which is really a remarkable book. I’m amazed how a book so simple can be so absorbing, as basically it just follows the participants of the Long Walk in a completely linear fashion. I’m not sure how much more there is to go but I can’t wait to find out what happens. Among today’s five comics, the excellent Poison Ivy story wrapped up in Detective Comics after just the second issue, and DC Legacies looks like it is turning into DC’s version of Marvels. While I’m not a Marvel fan at all, Marvels is my exception, written as it is by one of my favourite comic scribes, Keith Busiek, with art by the amazing Alex Ross. It’s an essential read for all comic fans and is well worth seeking out.

Book: some pages of The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
Comics: Detective Comics #752 (2000), DC Legacies #2 (2010), Zatanna #2 (2010), Power Girl #2 (2010), Green Lantern #77 (1970)

In other news, the nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards are now open. Members of this year’s WorldCon (Renovation) and last year’s (Aussiecon) are eligible to nominate their favourite works, and as a non-attending member of Aussiecon I’m starting to put my shortlist together.

Also, yesterday EscapePod released Soundproof #3, which features among other things my post on superhero fiction from December. Go check it out – EscapePod (and Soundproof) have some great content in both fiction and non-fiction.

2011: The lowdown

Okay, let’s recap: last time, I said that I had two New Year’s Resolutions. The first is to write 2,000 words a day. For me, in theory, this is easy, and if I can keep it up then every other writing plan I have for 2011 will just fall into place. Novels, short stories, blogs and guest blogs, editing, whatever. All of these things are just collections of words, some of which have due dates attached. If I can write 2,000 words a day, I don’t even need to think about anything else.

Secondly, I need to keep a log of what I do. Despite lamenting only one novel written from start to finish in 2010, I actually got more done this year than in any year previous, but I haven’t really kept track. As it so happens, I’ve got a website and this website has a blog, so it makes sense to use it to record progress daily. Regular updates will be good motivation too −  if I slack off, it’ll show up here pretty quickly. You have my permission to throw a kick or two in the comments when this happens.

So what do I have to work on? Here’s the list of confirmed projects. There is other stuff on the boil too, but it’s a case of wait and see on those. They can be slotted in as needed, and in a couple of cases will take automatic priority.

Writing
I need to finish Hang Wire and write two more novels; I have a steampunk novella to write by early February, and a superhero short by the end of March. Also in 2011 Kate and I need to finish The Gospel of the Godless Stars. My daily word count will include any fiction written, but no non-fiction (eg, blog posts or articles).

Editing
I have three novels which need to go from draft to submission-ready manuscripts. These are Dark HeartSeven Wonders and Ludmila, My Love. I’m starting with Seven Wonders tomorrow. Unlike writing, editing is slightly harder to measure progress, so rather than have fixed goals (other than to edit three novels in one year) I’m just going to track it by number of pages edited.

Reading
I’m part of the Stephen King challenge, so I have to read at least six King novels in 2011. As I am working through them in publication order these will be: The Long WalkThe Dead ZoneFirestarterRoadworkDanse MacabreCujo, and The Running Man. That’s actually seven titles, but Danse Macabre is non-fiction so doesn’t count. The Long WalkRoadwork and The Running Man are all short Richard Bachman novels, which will help balance against doorstops like The Dead Zone. Aside from King, my TBR pile is fairly substantial, and I hope to reduce it by a handful. If I can read a total of twenty books next year, I’ll be doing well.

In 2011 I’ll also be reducing my comics backlog by reading five issues a day. My first batch, as previously mentioned, will be the new/current series of Power GirlZatanna and DC Legacies, alongside the 2002 series of Catwoman and the 1970 O’Neil/Adams run of Green Lantern.

So, lots to do but a year to do it in. See you tomorrow for the first update!

Christmas cheer and a Christmas scare

I love Christmas. Really. And a Christmas in winter (as opposed to in summer back in New Zealand) is still a novelty, and a pretty cool one at that (literally, I guess!). I think I’ve mentioned that before, maybe more than once, so moving on…

A couple o’ cool things. Yesterday I was hiding behind door number 19 of the Angry Robot Advent Calendar, where I talk about my continuing transition – or attempted transition, anyway – towards a digital library. I’ve been following the Advent Calendar daily now and it’s a great pleasure to be included alongside entries by some great authors. And of course, the one day I neglected to check, my entry popped up!

Secondly, tomorrow is the shortest day/longest night in the Northern Hemisphere (or as I prefer to call it, the Blackest Night!). It’s also National Short Story Day in the UK, and it’s just a hair’s breadth from Christmas (and even closer to Festivus, of course).

To mark this accumulation of events I’ve got a Christmassy ghost story coming out tomorrow on this very actual blog for your listening pleasure. It’s just a wee flash, and it’s read by the wonderful Emma Newman. Emma has also read something rather longer for me, which is coming soonish to another site. But more on that when I’m allowed to talk about it. You ain’t seen me, right?

Until tomorrow then!

November miscellany

The end of November already? Cripes. Too much to write, not enough time!

Sir Julius Vogel Award

I mentioned this back in August when the winners were announced, but last week my Sir Julius Vogel Award trophy arrived from New Zealand. These are New Zealand’s national science fiction awards, handed out at the national SF convention. Of course as I now live in the UK, I couldn’t attend in person!

It’s a lovely and reasonably hefy hunk of brass, and takes pride of place on my Doctor Who bookcase (actually filled with DVDs). As with any award it represents blood, sweat and tears, and I’m very pleased to have it cap off my time as TSV editor. It also reveals my surname (Christopher being my middle name) which I don’t use for fiction for a variety of purely practical/conspiratorial reasons (delete as applicable).

Tap! Magazine

Something of a nice surprise (aka total jaw-dropping shock) this week – my voodoo steampunk novella The Devil in Chains made an appearance on the front of the first issue of Tap! magazine, a new publication dedicated to iPhone/iPod touch/iPad apps.

I’ve not yet seen the magazine in person, and I do think it is brave of the publisher to be launching such a title in an already crowded marketplace, but…

ZOMG LOOK! My novella shares the shelves with some of my favourite authors − Dan Abnett! Cherie Priest!, Terry Pratchett! Lavie Tidhar! Peter F. Hamilton! Gail Carriger!

Which is nice.

Hat’s off to @CTD who supplied the screenshot of his iBook app for the magazine. A man of impeccable taste, I’m sure you’ll agree.

EscapePod

EscapePod is one of the web’s best science fiction podcast magazines, and this month I began a regular blog with them in which I talk about… stuff! I try and get something up each week, so please check it out. Also, if there is anything that’d you’d like me to talk or write about, feel free to send in suggestions. My remit is very broad, so long as it is genre-related in some way.

And now/shortly, December. In which I shall have various bits of news to share. I know, promises promises, right?