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Far Orbit: Apogee

My space opera short Dainty Jane has been accepted for inclusion in the Far Orbit: Apogee anthology by Worldweaver Press, edited by Bascomb James and due for publication in October 2015.

This excites me on three levels:

1) This is a print anthology so I’ll get to hold a physical book in my hand, something you obviously can’t do with e-publications. I’m old school.

2) Dainty Jane is perhaps my favourite short story. I’ve spent the last eight months expanding it into a novel, which I’m currently in the throes of editing and revising. It should be with my agent in the summer.

3) I get to take part in promotional events, which I’ve never done before.

Beta Readers

I’ve been plugging away since January rewriting a novel that’s sat in my electronic bottom drawer since 1998.

It’s been a long job, and after realising the end was finally in sight about six weeks ago I’ve been working exclusively on finishing it. Short stories have been set aside as well as work on plotting my next effort, not to mention annoying my family with non-stop keyboard tapping and grunted responses.

I finished yesterday and it’s now with a few beta readers.

I tried using beta readers for my last novel, with little success. I just picked some friends and sent the ms out. Months later, after some prodding, I heard back from two, maybe three of them. The comments were verbal, brief and–to be frank–no use at all.

So this time I’ve picked fewer friends and asked them to jot down their thoughts in an email. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve set the book aside for a month while I catch up on other projects, so if they haven’t got back to me by then I’ll press on regardless.

If any of you SF readers out there are interested in acting as a beta reader I would be more than happy to send the latest tome over. If you happen to be a writer as well I will also return the favour.

Writing must come first

I’m the sort of person who likes to get any jobs I have to do out of the way before moving on to something more enjoyable.

The trouble is, jobs like vacuuming and putting up a shelf often expand to fill the available time. There’s always something else to do.

Writing is a discipline. You can’t let it slide. So I sit down and write first, and leave a fixed window of time to do everything else afterwards. The mundane jobs still get done, and so does the writing.

It’s the same with hobbies. If I start doing something else before writing, the writing invariably doesn’t get done. If I write first then I can relax and enjoy being hobby-tastic without the writing-monkey clinging to my back.

The good thing is, the more of a writing routine you get into, the easier it is to slip into a session. Sometimes the 1000 words comes out quicker too (but don’t bank on it).

Being on Twitter won’t get you published

I started a new Twitter account a year ago just to use for writing. To make friends and contacts, and to keep in touch with people I met at cons. Also to follow agents, editors and fellow writers with interesting and useful things to say.

The problem with Twitter is that it gives the false impression that you are a peer of those you follow. That’s one of its allures. When you follow Stephen Fry or Wossy, it’s pretty much the same experience as following your best mate, Dave. Except Stephen Fry and Wossy never favourite or retweet you.

And that’s the difference.

It’s the same in writing. I get a warm glow from being part of the Twitter writing community. I even get favourited and retweeted occasionally by writers I like and respect. But that doesn’t make me their peer, although it can feel like it. Only writing will do that. Learning the craft and putting stuff out there. Sighing at rejection after rejection and pushing on regardless.

Writing is about the work. You can tweet published writers all day long, but that doesn’t make you a published writer. Only writing will do that, and it’s bloody hard work.

Having said that, Twitter gives us access to the industry in a way we could only dream of ten years ago.

Just maintain your perspective.

My BristolCon

I’ve just returned from BristolCon. This was my second con, after EdgeLit 2 back in the summer. I tend to shy away from things like this, but I took the advice of Rob Harkess and visited Edge Lit for the day. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but didn’t realise that the real fun stuff happens in the bar once the panels and the workshops and the kaffeeklatsches have finished.

I had such a great time I immediately joined BristolCon, and booked a room in the hotel. In the end I went down on the Friday night, which was a good move as I met the interesting and entertaining Dev Agarwal in the bar.

The panels were an interesting mix, including subjects like Worldbuilding, intellectual property, self publishing and the small press and How To Poo in a Fantasy Universe. I also enjoyed Dr Bob’s excellent presentation on how weird humans are, ideas came thick and fast. Highlight for me was Snorri Kristjansson’s off the cuff remarks and hilarious reading from his book, Swords of Good Men, which I’ve just ordered. The Iain M Banks tribute panel provided a poignant close to the day.

Nick Walters was a highly inappropriate and distressingly amusing host for the evening quiz, which I entered with Rob and Debbie Harkess, Ian Whates and Andy Bigwood.

The thing that strikes me about cons is how friendly and welcoming everyone is. Whether you’re a fan or a writer (published or not) people welcome you to their table for a chat and a beer. In the bar after the quiz I met a whole raft of great people. And what’s better than a passionate drunken discussion about writing?

I find Twitter an invaluable tool for staying in touch with people I meet at cons, as well as keeping up with what’s happening in the writing world. Writing is a solitary business, and Twitter spurs me on.

So if you’re a writer I recommend picking a good con and going along. You’ll meet great people and learn some valuable stuff.

Above all though, you’ll have a great time.