Am currently polishing off a 20,000 word novella I’m calling ‘The Odd Machine’. It’s a first person narrative about a suburban man who loses his wife, is unfairly branded a paedophile, and how he struggles to keep his children as a family when his wife leaves him for reasons unknown, at least to him.
The Odd Machine refers to his inheritance of a bronze and quartz object once reputed to have been the heart of a ‘Death Ray’, and how it seems to be the catalyst for all his woes.
While the story itself takes the form of a single narrative spread over several years, the issues it addresses are quite current. The context tells of a farming family broken by bureaucracy. How a new generation has reinvented itself and faces, amongst others, the challenge of false arrest and public libel. While the subtext asks the question; “Who do we belong to?”
The cover art for the Kindle edition is already uploaded to Amazon, and the Novella itself will form the core of a collection of shorter fiction, to be published in hard copy format sometime in 2012. Have rewritten ‘Polish Ted’ as ‘Cold Warrior’ which will form part of the same collection, along with a bunch of other supernatural stories. Providing of course I can make time to finish the third volume of my Science Fiction ‘Stars’ trilogy, which is due in September 2012. Only 120,000 words and the collapse of interstellar civilisation to go. Then I’ve got the follow-on trilogy or possible series to write. As for the Cerberus series, well, there are a lot of episodes, but no coherent plot or story arc. That needs to be addressed.
I did consider Smashwords as a means of getting my shorter eBooks to market, but having to wait for the US IRS to give me an exemption number seemed a little too involved. I’ve only ever visited the USA once, so why on Gods green Earth do I need to get an IRS exemption? I pay my taxes here in Canada for goodness sake. So Smashwords will have to remain a closed market. At least as far as I’m concerned.
At the moment I’m in a state of semi collapse having just sold my first three hard copies to unsuspecting members of the public. Autographed no less. That and delivered a talk which ended up being somewhere in the region of fifty minutes long, rather than the planned thirty.
Quite frankly I don’t know how I feel right now. A little surprised I slid into the talking groove quite so easily. Interacting with interested parties and talking about my work. Got to talking with a precocious twelve year old who was “Kinda tired” of goody two shoes heroes, and liked heroes with a little bit of the night about them. Maybe a bit less of the formulaic stuff where humanity is surrounded by wicked aliens and good aliens. Bad guys we agreed, were ‘more fun’. Both to write and to read. All the better if they are human.
Had fun talking to the amateur astronomers, who have kit worth thousands of dollars for scanning the night sky. Even ran into a friend of a friend who didn’t recognise me in ‘professional’ mode. Still, the day was a lot more enjoyable than I’d thought. I got a decent portrait of me at my desk selling. Next step is donating a couple of copies to the local library, and seeing if that will generate demand. On Monday I’ll open negotiations for my second book signing and see where that takes me.
Like most people, I have a mortal terror of public speaking. Yet right this minute I’m preparing to do just that. Actually it’s two talks kind of telescoped together, if anyone will pardon the pun.
The first talk is ten or fifteen minutes on “The big ‘What if’?” which is about how science can trump science fiction. How what was true yesterday could be overturned by observations made at CERN, or by some bright Israeli who finally was awarded a Nobel Prize for Chemistry after thirty years.
Another state of matter? Quasicrystals? Who would have thought? There’s also the advances in planetary observations constantly being posted on the Web. Quite a headache if your brand new trilogy is a narrative about extrasolar exploration and colonisation. What was ‘true’ yesterday might not be accurate and true today, thus consigning two years long grind at the keyboard to the literary pulp pile before it even hits the shelves.
The second talk is about the Trilogy itself. The characters, their adventures, and the (supposed) planets and challenges. Nanaimo District Museum, 100 Museum Way, Nanaimo. 2pm PST 22nd October 2011. Scary.
Been writing on and off since I was fifteen. During the intervening years I’ve collected enough rejection slips to wallpaper a considerable sized house.
Notwithstanding, I’ve sold stories, and had enough work published in various mainstream and trade publications to justify the soubriquet ‘Writer’ but like so many others not enough to make a reasonable living.
The publishing industry is so closed down at present that it doesn’t seem worth submitting anything to the mainstream. Everyone is looking for the ‘next Harry Potter’, yet considering there were nineteen publishers who turned down J K Rowlings work before she found one willing to take a risk with an unknown, I don’t think they’ll have much success. Especially when writers play tricks like submit the first three chapters of a literary classic under another title, and most publishers they submit to fail to recognise the ‘great’ prose in question. So I’m branching out on my own. Down the slippery slope of self publishing. Whoring myself out as best I can and hoping there are enough people out there who like my work to make it worthwhile.
The upside is two new 150,000 word volumes out of a trilogy, artwork as above, and I’ve gotten a solid invite to do a talk on ‘The Big What If’ and a five minute reading at Nanaimo District Museum 22nd October 2011 at 2pm. I’m way too late to put my name down for any of the big Sci-fi conventions this year, but will get my name out on the forums and see what happens. Trudge round book stores on the Island and sell my metaphorical soul. Walk and talk. At least I’m good at that. Although I am rather pleased with the cover art.
In some ways it feels terrifying to put the end result of five years work out in the public domain for just anyone to look over and sneer. In others, the same fear forces you to revise, revise, revise until you are either so tired of the project you really don’t care what anyone thinks any more, or the story you’re telling is really as good as you think it is. So far, my test readers only real criticism of the first volume has been “When’s the next one?”
The Sky Full of Stars, and Falling Through the Stars may not be Heinlein, Niven or Asimov, but I’m hoping they’ll find a readership. There’s a hardcover edition of each, but I think the only copies of those that will sell will be the proof editions for my personal book shelf.