Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There Are Simply Way Too Many of Us.

Peter Coopers, that is.

Exhibit A) There's a village in New York named after us.

Exhibit B) A Google search reveals 241,000 entries.

Exhibit C) After receiving several mysterious wrong numbers on my mobile phone, a little bit of research uncovered another Peter Cooper with the exact same mobile number as me, except the last two digits were reversed. I'm sure he thinks there are way too many of us too.

Now, this preponderance of Peter Coopers has never bothered me before. But now that I'm thinking about registering a domain name and perhaps getting something resembling a "proper" author website set up, I find that the only peter.cooper domain names still available are way too obscure for anyone to ever find. So, unless I decide on a Fiji extension, my only option is to register with something other than my name.

I'm told the resemblance is uncanny.

Alas, my parents never gave me a middle name. I've tossed around the idea of inventing one, just for writing, but it just doesn't sit well with me. I think I'd end up looking at the name on the side of a book and thinking it's not really me, because it's not the name my parents gave me. Deep, perhaps, but that's the way it is.

So I have to keep thinking about it, and checking out what other authors have done with their websites. Many of them are blessed with unique names, though I'm fairly certain most of them secretly wish they had a village in New York named after them too.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Milestones

I've been out of work now since New Year's Eve, although I'm pleased to report I start contract work this coming Monday, with a good chance it will turn into a longer term thing. It's been a strange kind of time -- sometimes depressing and downright terrifying, other times a nice break and a chance to spend time with the family and catch up on some long delayed house-jobs.

It's also been a good chance to get some writing done. Right from the start I knew it would be important to keep up a regular routine, so I set myself a goal of spending Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the university library working on the first draft of MMA. In the end, I didn't do it each week, but I managed to get in for about 5 or 6 days of the 3 weeks I was without work. On my best day I managed to write 10,000 words, quite an achievement for a single 8 hour session. I'm not sure what they put in my coffee that day, but I wish I could get hold of more of it. Most days I achieved a more modest total of between 3,000 and 6,000 words. Nice progress, and it enabled me to finish the draft yesterday, coming in at a final total of just over 80,000 words.

I wasn't sure how I'd go spending the whole day writing - whether I'd get two hours in and find myself unable to do any more. In fact, most days I couldn't believe how quickly 8 hours flashed past. I'm still not sure it's something I could ever do full-time, but it's been an interesting experiment anyway.

So now I start the whole editing process. First off are the major changes - chapters that need a complete re-write, characters who need to be deleted or altered significantly, that kind of thing. Next will be more minor tweaks such as the addition of better description, thinking through locations a bit more (which will involve drawing maps and diagrams), looking for logical errors and trying to plug them, hopefully with simple solutions. Finally it will be the more detailed edit, where I rewrite sentences and try and make the wording read better.

I find that as I pass through each stage of this process, the work gets easier but takes longer to do. For GPL, for example, I found that I could rewrite a chapter in about 2 or 3 evenings, but it could take as many as 6 or 7 to do a fine edit on the same number of words.

I need to remember, though, that this is only the second time in my life that I've gone through this process. Perhaps this time I'll find it quicker and easier. Either way, it's nice to finally have a firm first draft. It's taken me more than six months to get to this point, during which time I estimate I wrote around 120,000 words (60,000 by hand). I learned a lot though, so I'm sure when it comes time to write book 3 it won't be quite such a grind. Let's hope!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queensland Flood Relief

Fablecroft Publishing is releasing an early ebook edition of the After the Rain anthology, with all proceeds going to flood relief in Queensland. If you're in another part of the world and you haven't caught up on it, an area the size of France and Germany combined is now under water, and the rain hasn't yet stopped.




Details and how to purchase are at this link.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Writers of the Very, Very Distant Future...

I did something a bit silly a while ago. I submitted the same story to two different places at the same time. The first was an SF magazine, the second was the Writers of the Future competition. Exact same story, 2 different places. At once.

I won't go into my reasoning for doing this, other than to say it was a spur of the moment thing, and I knew straight away it could potentially lead to problems. But I stuck with it anyway, figuring I'd just wait and see.

And the result surprised me.

The magazine snatched the story up for publication. This particular magazine is very hard to get into, and I was astonished when I found out they'd picked my piece.

WoF rejected it. Not even an Honourable Mention. Just a flat reject.

I find something extremely encouraging in this unintentional experiment. If I'd only submitted the story to WoF, I would quite likely have assumed I'd written a dud, and even though I would have sent it off to other places, it would still have been a huge discouragement. But it wasn't only sent to WoF; it was sent somewhere else and accepted.

To me, it's a huge reminder that a rejection doesn't necessarily mean there's anything wrong with your story. More often than not it simply means you submitted it to the wrong place. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and send it out again. And again. And again.

That's why magazines urge you to read at least one of their editions before you submit, so you can gauge what sort of stuff they print, and whether your piece "fits". I don't always do this, and I know I should. Maybe if I did I'd have a few less homeless stories floating about the place.

Anyway, undeterred by my competition result, I submitted another story for the new quarter of WoF. This time, it's a brand new piece, never submitted anywhere else. Is it good? Well, I kind of like it. Will it do well? I have absolutely no idea, because I still haven't read any of the WoF anthologies or seen any of the winning stories. I'm just working on the basis that the only sure way to fail is to never enter at all.

I'll let you know how I went in about 3 month's time!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

A couple of bits of publishing news..

ASIM #49 is out, with my poem, "Who the Hell is Willard Price?". You can get it here. The pdf costs around $4.5o, and the hard-copy about $8.00



Also, AntipodeanSF #151 is out with "A Random Booze-Up", aka "The Aussie Hobbit". This is free to read, and you can find it here.

Happy reading!