• More straightening up

    General maintenance and site tidying.

    You will see the “View Cart” has been added to the top of the side bar. This is so it is easier to navigate the site and add things, without having to hunt for the cart later if you want to remove something. Since moving away from a single book shop page and hosting the sale details on dedicated individual book pages, the view cart button on the Book Shop page became a hidden part of the shopping equation. Therefore I have placed it in plain sight where it will be accessible at all times. Any items you add to cart from any page on this site will be in that same cart, so you can click the view cart, and in there remove items, or proceed to checkout, or just go “oh right, that was what was in there” and hit continue shopping. Continue shopping or cancel always takes you back to the front page.

    In further tidying, I have made significant changes to the book shop page. It will remain, for the purpose of showing any special offers and may be renamed later because of this. Aside from that it will simply list links to the book pages.

    I also updated the front page a little, since this site is not really a new site anymore.


  • Moving things around

    If you look closely, you might notice some minor changes.

    Shades of Farthrow has been moved to the books menu. If you look in the books section, you will see the front cover, which changed recently. You can see a sample of the full cover by visiting my DeviantART page (in the ‘follow me’ section of the side bar.) I have made arrangements for paperback, kindle and kobo release of this book in coming days. The one publisher currently receptive in Australia to Science Fiction submissions is limiting all such to eBooks, has a three month consideration period, and is willing to consider already self published works. They offer no advance, and contract on royalty only. Therefore, while I have not yet got the requisite query letter or other material ready for it, this book was already prepared for release.  I will announce here when all is confirmed. After that time, I will endeavor to pursue that possible lead with a proper query, and we will see how we go.  I feel it is better to strike now, and get a book out for the year, in time for Christmas no less, than to allow it to sit for three more months when readers are asking for it. Three novels last year, one this year. I guess I got lazy. Maybe I can still get Armada’s Disciple finished!

    Meanwhile, I have added “Longarm Severed” to the Works in Progress list, and will get cracking on that after Armada’s Disciple and Children of Nevermind are both complete.

    Armada’s Disciple has had a strong start, and I hope to complete it before the end of 2012, so cross your fingers!

    A real blog post will follow in the next few days. Cheers!


  • Secret order of the International Reply Coupon

    Today I bring you something silly.

    I have been reading a few SF mags in the last couple of years and decided to submit a short story to a well known and respected one in the US. They don’t take electronic submissions and required return postage. Going to their forum after sending I found a thread about forgetting your SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) so I posted a slightly exaggerated version of my day’s adventure. I will reproduce that post here for you now.

    Well I submitted today, with the SASE, and it was an adventure I tell you!

    I needed that pesky International Reply Coupon, which, according to Australia Post employees in three towns, does not exist. I made several of them very angry while debating this myth with them, and spent an entire tank of fuel. I drove for some hours in my quest until, finally giving in and seeking bread and milk, I stopped at the post agent/store of my village where I live.

    “oh, don’t know about those, but I’ll just ring the post people in Sydney for you,” the lady in the shop said.

    She found out about them, and then rang around various town’s post offices till she found one. A goal in sight and my first solid lead in hand, off I went.

    Some more driving and a lot of time later, the lady that finally sold me the thing looked at me in suspicion as we completed the secret handshake.

    “I haven’t used one of these in thirty years. What on earth is anybody doing using this ancient stuff?” she said in amazement that I was, indeed, qualified to enter into this secretive transaction.

    She disappeared into a secret room through a magic door that materialized in the wall behind her, and returned with a dusty cardboard envelope thing. Now when I say dusty, This had at least two inches of greasy, mystical, forgotten library skin flakes and dead flies encrusted on it.

    She blew the grungy crusted mankmeat from the envelope, and it flew every where, to carry its TB ridden pollutants out into the freedom of the outback Aussie air.

    As the dust left the cardboard, it began to glow in an almost mystical way as the magical certificates of postal depravity inside fought to escape their long time prison. She picked up a golden fly swatter and held it at the ready.

    Opening the cardboard, she swatted down as several glowing blue certificates fluttered out at supersonic speeds, seeking freedom. She managed to catch two of the blighters with that swat. Picking up her +4 stamp of taming, she struck at one, right where its markings indicated such a spell would be most effective. She handed me the now mollified beast and I dropped it carefully into my package, sealed it up and paid the postage.

    It cost $3.30 for that certificate valued at US98c, which I assumed was hazard pay, and happily handed over, my quest finally at an end.

    I apologize in advance to the recipient if it zips out and bites them on arrival. I know that taming spell might have a time limit, and I’ve seen how anxious those things were to escape. I hope the post lady managed to catch them all again.

  • FTL travel, impossible you say?

    This short post is a sort of extension on my post from a couple of weeks ago about skeptical readers. In that post I talked about people who had been talking about SF elements as unbelievable, and as such a bad thing to have in a book. This was to the extent some of them were getting quite nasty about writers who include things like FTL (Faster Than Light) travel. FTL was in fact one of the most highlighted “utterly impossible” things these people were abusing. I already mentioned a few others in my prior post.

    Well, we have all heard recently of the confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs Boson Particle by scientists at CERN. This was yet another thing that a small number of those naysayers, these doom and gloom negative nancy all is absolutely fixed fanatics, said was never going to happen. Well bravo CERN for shutting them up.

    It seems now NASA is set to shut them up once and for all, with talk of actual laboratory experiments into a method of FTL travel that doesn’t even break the rules of Special Relativity that those naysayers worship so strongly. Keeping in mind that special relativity is based on THEORY, their assertions were always rather foolish. Strong theory, respected theory, accepted as fact theory, but theory nonetheless. A theory is always open to new facts, new modifications. We know that time and space can be bent. Black holes do it. And now, NASA hope to do it too.

    Even should the experiments not achieve fruition in our lifetime, this throws the gauntlet down, and demands attention from the naysayers. It commands attention and acceptance that, regardless of your convictions otherwise, nothing should be seen as impossible beyond belief without any attempt to go there. Should it eventuate that something IS impossible, then work around it so that the impossible factor becomes irrelevant. Humanity has intelligence (believe it or not), it has tenacity, and it has innovation. As surely as we clubbed each other on the heads in millennium past, we will club the universe on the head (figuratively) in order to continue our advance. And as long as there are scientists who dream, nothing will ever be truly impossible.

    NASA experiments with FTL

  • Festivals about books and the joy of reading

    Yesterday I attended the Griffith Readers’ Festival, where I spoke about my work and gave a reading of the opening scene from Shades of Farthrow, my upcoming novel. I am pleased to say this was received very well by all those in attendance, and I enjoyed my time there immensely.

    This was a rewarding and positive experience, with some interesting people in attendance, both authors and publishing types. I would like to take this opportunity to humbly thank the organisers of the festival for giving me that opportunity to speak before this group. If there are festivals about books, reading or writing in your area, please support them!

    We need all the events we can get, to keep the interest in books, reading books, and the people who write them thriving in our communities. Literacy is a privilege that we can not allow to be squandered. There are places where literacy is tragically low and those people would cherish any opportunity, yet in the wealthier parts of the world, we often allow literacy to be wasted on ignorance and on a disconnection to the intellectual stimulation that reading provides.

    We should not allow literature and literacy to be so devalued as it is by the teaming throngs who say “tell me when it’s a movie, I don’t read books”. We must strive to support the world of literature, and help it to become perceived as “cool”. We should not be content to allow people to continue saying “reading is just for kids” or “reading is boring.” If reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong! If we all do our bit to support those brave and dedicated individuals who struggle to bring this kind of event to life, our world will be a better place for it.

    The occasional book goes viral, and regardless of what you think of those books, at least they are increasing the number of active readers in our society. Hopefully some of them will realise, as each fad passes, that they are enjoying reading for the sake of the joy it brings, and not just as another fad to be a part of. Even if you loath the Harry Potter books, or the Twilight series, you must admit that they achieved this for millions of young people, and countless adults as well. The recent 50 shades phenomenon might do this in time also, in which case, bravo!

    Promote reading, promote books, support your local book store and support the writers in your area, as well as those all around the world. They are creating, out of love for the written word, vast worlds for your imagination to explore. Join them in their journeys, and follow with your imagination as their characters come to life through your reading of them. With so much fun to be had, it’s sad to be missing out on your share of the joy isn’t it? That would be like sitting in the back of the bar sleeping while your biggest idol dances on the pool table. So if you know somebody who refuses to read although capable of it, ask them this: Do you really know what you are missing out on? And please, drag them along to the next book related festival in your area, they just might begin to see what all the fuss is about.

    Till next time,

  • Fake Reviews? ick!

    Recently, the internet has exploded with shocking revelations regarding a number of successful authors exposed using false identities or other tactics to provide themselves with many fake positive reviews, and in some cases posting negative reviews on their “competitors”.

    I have been appalled and disgusted by much of the behaviour I have read about.

    There is a lot I could say about this, but it has already been said to death in recent weeks. If you want to know about the controversy, you can find it soon enough. But importantly, it is NOT all writers who are involved, and it is NOT all reviews. I remain proud to state I have never solicited a review in any way. Every review my books have received to date has been written by a genuine reader/reviewer with no prompting, no payment, and absolutely no other skulduggery. Even though often seen as a marketing tool, reviews are first and foremost a product intended to assist readers.

    The innapropriate reviewing practice of a small handfull is casting doubt on the millions of honest reviewers, the works they review, and the value of the reviews to the readers they inform. This can not be permitted to occur, and as such, gestures like this: http://nosockpuppets.wordpress.com/ are important as they send a message to those considering the wrong path. The more people who make known their aversion to such tactics and those resorting to them, the less people will be tempted to behave with such dishonest disregard for their readers, and their writing colleagues.

    I am a Science Fiction writer. If you write SF, you are never my competition, you are allways my colleague, my fellow SF writer, and perhaps even a reader. I respect my readers, and I respect my colleagues. I will never participate in dodgy practices such as those that have recently been exposed.

    Thanks for reading.

  • You have to love your editors

    This topic is a great excuse to try posting from my tablet for the first time. Let’s see how the typing goes lol. I witnessed some editor sledging recently and thought it sad.

    How do you treat your editor? We all know of a time somebody may have reacted badly to criticism. If what your editor says is bad enough for that, perhaps you need to listen harder. Your editor is there to help, and has an interest in seeing you succeed.

    Whatever a true editor tells you, it should be seen as constructive. They are professionals, not trolls or scammers. (Though i admit there are some of those who claim to be editors). Your editor is tasked with seeking ways to improve your book, not ‘simply proof reading’.

    The thing is, even if it is tiny things to tweak, it all helps you make the book better. If you have to argue with your editors, by all means do so, but when they speak, always listen. Listen closely, listen properly, and listen well. Then, if you assess the merit of their words and don’t believe the input works for your vision, ignore it. But usually there is a gem at its heart that is something your closeness to the work would not let you see.

    You almost have to love your editors, even if it means loving to hate them. They are the ones who are standing in pit lane with the cleaning rag, who are hoping to make that car shiny and appealing above and beyond simply being a vehicle to display your driving prowess.

    You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t have to worship them, you don’t have to feel they have a greater knowledge than you. Regardless of what kind of expertise your editor has, regardless of whether you love or loath their work, and their input, regardless of whether you are receiving a weaker effort from an inexperienced intern or are getting top shelf from a modern day Dickens, There is one thing you must always do for your editors.

    Value them and appreciate them.

    Without them, god knows what you might end up with. Learn from them. Learn from their input. If the input is not great, learn from their mistakes. You will both grow as professionals if you can achieve a working relationship where this is the case. Is your editor not good enough? Help them to be better, it’s what they would do for you.

    We all have too much to lose by fighting with our greatest assets. An editor can make you look great if you let them. They need your help to make you look bad.

    Thank your editor today.

    By the way, i think it is quicker to find the laptop and post from that after all!

  • Progress Update

    A few little things, not a huge post right now:

    Starlight in it’s second edition form is now on Kindle and Kobo, the paperback is not yet updated.

    Shades of Farthrow  is around half way done. I am “taking a day job break” at the moment, and hopefully can utilise some of this time to get it done. Might as well use my time while I am not getting paid to do something that might earn something one day right?

    All four of my currently released books are now on Kobo, so for those with readers other than Kindle, you should be able to source the ebooks there. I will get the Kobo links into the book pages soon. Link to the list: Link to the M R Mortimer search results on Kobo

    I’ll be back with a more interesting blog post later 🙂

    Till then, happy reading!