Friday, October 17, 2014

Some New Thangs

So Shamblers has now been sent off to my publisher. Initial feedback is good but there are still a few hurdles to jump before it starts through the whole acquisitions process, if it does. Pretty well a repeat of this time nearly 5 years ago. Which I have to say, I'm pretty excited about. Deep down I was worried I might get an outright rejection, particularly as this book is very different from Blue Jade. The initial reaction is very encouraging. 

While I'm waiting, I'm thinking about picking up the Weight of Souls again. It's one of those books that's been hanging around my conscience for years. Over time I've picked away at it so it's in a pretty advanced state. I reckon a couple of months' solid work would have it good to go. No idea where I'd send it afterwards. It's not really a Scholastic type book, I don't think. In fact I'm not really sure what it is at all. Possibly YA? Maybe adult? One day I'll work out the difference, maybe. But whatever it is, I really like it, and I think it's worth continuing to plug away at it whenever I get time.

I'm also hoping to do a bit of reading. At lunch today I picked up a copy of Clariel by Garth Nix. I was a bit surprised to find only a single copy at the back of the shop on an obscure shelf with the spine facing outwards. Come on, folks, this is Garth Nix! This is a new Old Kingdom book! High time he visited that shop for a signing, I would say.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

While We're on the Subject

Another day, another drawing. This is Fib Digonius, a character from Shamblers.

It may well be true that his best days are behind him. Just don't let him hear you say it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Short Wait

After many feverish hours I've finally finished Shamblers and sent it off to the publisher. My timing wasn't brilliant as I found out after I sent it that she's having a week off, so I won't find out whether it's publishable until sometime next week. At least it's not as long as the 3 months I waited the first time round.

Speaking of holidays, I'm on holiday myself this week, and seeing as I now have some evenings free I've been getting into some character drawing. Here is Monsieur Le Ponce De Montbatton, a character from my (as yet unpublished) story The Circus on the Head of a Pin.

This is a pencil sketch that's been enhanced by Photoshop, which I downloaded yesterday and which I've been desperately trying to use. After much trial and error, this is the result.

I must say I'm pretty happy with it. Still lots to learn, but I have 30 days before the Photoshop trial runs out so I should be able to give it a good go.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


This is the week every year when my wife and sons go away with the inlaws and I have the house to myself. As has been the case for the last few years, this means some dedicated writing time, and today didn't disappoint. I've been beavering away at the latest draft of Shamblers for the past six months, and for a while there I was hooting along and it looked like I'd be ready for submission in no time at all. Then I hit a wall and for the past few weeks I haven't been able to get myself back into it again. Thankfully today I knocked off two chapters and that takes me to the half way point of the book. Tomorrow I'm hoping to do another and at least four or five more before the family comes back on Friday.

Part of the reason I've been a bit slack the past few weeks is I've been reading Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori Book 0 (yes, it's the prequel), Heaven's Net is Wide. I actually bought the book years ago for half price when Border's closed, but something about its sheer size and the fact it was in the literature section put me off trying it out until now. And I have to say, in the words of the young folk of today, it's simply awesome. Easy to read, difficult to put down, beautifully written all the way through. After a few duds on my reading list lately it's great to find that unexpected gem, even if it has seriously dented my writing time. At least I have a little extra time this week to catch up.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Time for a Jolly Good Moan.

Goodreads have this great idea where authors can list their books as free giveaways and people can vie to get copies. The idea is that authors submit their books in the hope they might raise awareness of their work and also garner a few more reviews than they might otherwise get. I've been involved in two giveaways now, one for Jeweller and one for Ghost of Ping-Ling. In both cases I sent out three copies of the books to various locations around Australia and New Zealand. For the mathematically inclined, that's six books.

Alas, my efforts have only garnered a grand total of one review, which is disappointing because Goodreads stipulates that by entering one of these giveaways you agree to write a review. We authors might be a generous lot but the reason we're willing to pay to send out books all over the place is not simply to give people something to read on a wet afternoon. We want reviews! We want feedback!

And yes, even bad feedback will do. Weird as this might sound, and I think I probably speak for most writers when I say this: our nightmare is not having people read our books and hate them. Our nightmare is having nobody read them at all. That's why we happily send out free copies of our books.  

So if you happen to be reading this and you were one of the beneficiaries of my giveaways, please, please, please take the time to read what you were sent, and even if you don't want to write an actual review you can at least give a star rating. I would really appreciate it. And no, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty. Actually, I am trying to make you feel guilty! Very, very guilty. I fear the only thing you can do to assuage such terrible guilt is scurry off and get reading and reviewing. Immediately!

And if you're reading this and you weren't the recipient of one of the giveaways, maybe you should have been! That's not to say you can't still do me a huge favour and give me a review. You can sign up on and do the deed. Go on, it'll make all of us feel good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feelin' Philosophical

Well the dust has settled, the books are published, and in many ways I'm back where I was four years ago, trying to scrape together a novel and hoping it'll be good enough to get accepted. It's funny how the whole giddy ride of editing manuscripts and signing books and speaking at conferences seems like a distant memory, perhaps even a dream I had once that blurred into reality. At least I can look up at the books on my shelf and know it was real. 

And the writing goes on. I'm about to hit 50K words on the first draft of the new project. I've even managed to con a couple of beta readers into taking a look at it for me when it's ready. I'm happy to report that the excitement is still there, that wonderful feeling you get when you see a story begin to move beyond a few notes on a page into a living, breathing entity, with a life well beyond what you had originally envisioned. I'm looking forward to seeing where it ends up over the next few months.

It has zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

But not quite how you're used to seeing them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Plot Thickens

I'm in the middle of plotting a new story at the moment, using a whiteboard and notebook. I bought the whiteboard about two years ago exactly for this purpose, but so far the only people who've used it are my three sons, mostly to surreptitiously write rude words on when nobody's looking. I can't believe how useful it is to be able to set out ideas and sit back and look at them on a board, as well as to be able to easily rub them out and write new thoughts in. It gives a sort of bird's eye view in a way that staring at a page doesn't (for some reason).

So now I have the first germs of an outline. My next step is do something potentially a bit odd. At some point in the past I read some advice that went along the lines of this: if your story isn't worth telling in a pub, it's not worth telling. And no, the next stage in my plotting process isn't me going to the local pub and boring people senseless with my outline (although the idea is tempting). Instead, what I'll do is tell myself the story, out loud, as I would if I were in a pub, or around a camp fire, or wherever. I haven't done it yet, but I suspect it will be a useful exercise in testing the flow of events and the level of tension as the story progresses. If it's not, I've learned a lesson and nothing's been lost.

So if you live in Adelaide and you see someone driving down the road in the next few days talking to himself in an animated manner, with no blue-tooth headset in existence, it could be me. Please feel free to wave, and to offer any plot advice you may happen to have up your sleeve.