Friday, June 30, 2006

How to

I'm not a big fan of books on how to write. I really don't like guides that just throw their wisdom down, saying, "this is how it is." They seem a bit cargo cultish to me. I'm also a little suspicious of people who claim mastery of the craft - in fact that is one my indicators of an author going off the boil.

"How to Write" books make me feel paranoid, that I'm doing it all wrong.

Actually, pretty much all "How to..." books make me feel paranoid, which is cool, a certain level of paranoia is probably a good thing.


you all hate me, don't you.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Friday is nearly here

Well, it's been a busy week, but it's all tumbling into Friday now. Is there any other day more crowded with possibility. Friday is pure potential. Saturday and Sunday invariably disappoint, how can they not with Monday looming - Monday starts looming about mid-morning Saturday? But Friday. Friday is glorious.*

Nearly finished "Carnies", if you haven't bought it yet, get yourself down to the bookstore and do so, damn it.


*Just in case you didn't know.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Canes

Spent the day hobbling around. Must have been pretty amusing as I rushed - rushed being an extremely relative word - down the street to catch a train, missed it, then missed the next one. I now know why people get canes, it's not to help them walk, but to take out their frustration on passers-by.

But all is good. An Okkervil River t-shirt showed up in the post - it had been sitting in my PO Box since Friday, which is pretty cool since it came all the way from Austin Texas, and I'd only ordered it a week before. I love my PO Box.

Other goodies that have shown up recently are issues 23 & 24 of ASIM. Plenty story goodness

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hobble and Books

I've just finished Neal Asher's "The Line of Polity" and gotten further into Martin Living's "Carnies".

"The Line of Polity" was an absolute hoot, have to say I'm glad that I've still got another three or four of his books to go: going to pace myself. This is high octane space opera, witty, marvellously paced. And I see that Neal's put up a timeline at his blog - I love timelines. And, if you want to get a sense of what his stuff is like, check out the review of "Prador Moon" in the latest Emerald City.

On to "Carnies" I'm going to label this "the year of Trent picking books that he's going to love" so far I can do no wrong in my book purchases. This is just going on what I've read so far, but the book's handling of the relationship between two brothers strikes me as extremely authentic. Martin's got the deft touch of Gaiman - with a slightly earthier humour - mixed with a little early Jonathan Carroll, think "Land of Laughs". Which isn't to say that he doesn't have his own voice, I'm just scrambling for comparisons. I'm looking forward to reading what he writes next. Martin's control of his work is only going to get better.

Books good, health a little patchy, I've sprained or torn a muscle in my left leg. Walking is extremely painful, which sucks because my job involves a fair bit of walking - hunting down books and such for returns.

Fortunately reading does not involve walking.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sunday

I like sundays. I usually get more writing done on Sunday than any other day of the week, what with the sleeping and the not working.

I spent the afternoon googling Gods for two different stories - one to make a world and one to swallow a world*. Then sat outside and wrote until it was too cold. The cold creeps up on you when you are writing, I didn't notice it until I was shivering, and the only warm spot was where the dog was curled up next to me.

Since I've moved up to Brisbane I've thoroughly acclimatised. Nineteen degrees and I'm scrambling for a jumper. Winter in Gunnedah, even Lismore, was a hell of a lot colder. We had a wood burner, and I remember sitting in front of it reading, and utterly glad I wasn't outside.

Of course everything has a price.

Those burners went through a few loads of wood each winter.

Dad would borrow a mate's trailer and take me and my brother out into the scrub, find a dead tree and start chain sawing. Man, the horrible things that used to come pouring out of that wood, venomous looking centipedes the size of your forearm, huntsman spiders, tiny scorpions, the occasional snake. None of them that happy about being disturbed.

And, all the while, Dad, the one with the chainsaw and a good bit of distance from all that swarming, slithering venom, would be blithely yelling, "Get it into the trailer, kids!"

Don't remember being bitten, though.




* and let me just say, thank you, Ancient Egypt, your mythology is most, most cool.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tap Tap Tap Drip Drip Drip

I've spent the afternoon (once I finished the usual choring, okay, so there's still washing in the sink, but let me get to that later on - and how do you know there's washing in the sink? That disturbs me.) dropping new sentences into stories, and wishing that my writing process wasn't so glacial. I remember when stories poured from me.

These days it's tap,
tap,
tap - or to continue the pouring metaphor, drip,
drip,
drip.

After the tapping, er dripping, I worried at a few technical problems. Like tense and voice. One of the stories I'm working on at the moment changes from past to present tense, and from third to first person, all over the place, and I kind of liked the sloppiness of it, but now it's time to rein it in. Which means a total redraft, a whole bunch of squiggling in the margins, and a headache.

So, I'm whining, but I actually like this state of affairs as well.

For all the lack of speed, I'm feel particularly narratively fecund. I'm using it as mulch for the garden.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why You Should Buy that Book Now Now Now.

I am in charge of returns in a largish bookstore in Brisbane.

It's my job to send the books that don't sell back to the publisher, so I see the depressing end of the old literary dream. Basically it works this way, though there are exceptions, there is 3-12 month window in which books that are a bookstore buys are returnable. If they are not returned after this time they become what is called firm sale - basically meaning bookstores can't return them.

Most publishers date this window from the publication date of the book, rather than when the book is bought, so most backlist titles (as opposed to New Release or frontlist titles) are bought firm sale - which means the bookstore takes a higher risk buying them. Most of your favourite books are probably backlist titles*.

Now this system works okay, for one it means bookstores are willing to take a risk on newer authors, but also it gives an author pretty much a three month** window to start selling their book or they're kind of screwed. Three months isn't very long.

Which is why you should never hold off buying that new book, because chances are in three months time - or tomorrow - it won't be there, and once it's gone, it's gone.

It is also why you should go out and buy a copy of Martin Living's Carnies, today - well, tomorrow because it's getting late.

It's a fun read - I've only just started, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. And I'll feel happier if I don't have to return any copies - it makes my job easier, so you'd kind of be doing me a favour as well, or some other poor chump like me.



*Backlist titles being firm sale was something that came into prominence about four or five years ago (maybe a little longer, I've been doing this for a while). It basically led to more cautious buying from bookstores, and a lot of author's titles going out of print very quickly.

**Because who's going to keep a book for longer than three months if it isn't selling, that book is taking up valuable shelf space.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rain

It's raining. Has been for most of the afternoon. I love this city in the rain. And I'm getting some writing done, and reading - I just wish I could read faster.

Along with "The Line of Polity" - the book which actually has me looking forward to the commute - I can highly recommend Agog! Ripping Reads, definitely the best one of Cat Spark's antho. series yet. I'm a dipper into of anthologies, and this one has already served up some treats. Ben Peek's "The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Black Birds, Not Little Boys" is great, maybe my favourite of Ben's stories so far. Geoffrey Maloney's "When the World was Flat" is also a corker and sits very nicely at the front of the book.

The best thing is I've still got at least a week's worth of dipping to go.

Now, lets hope this rain keeps up for a few days more.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I've got, I am, I have, It's, Life is.

I've got myself a copy of Agog! Ripping Reads, thanks to the wonderful Cory Daniells.

I'm cooking a very nice lamb curry for dinner.

I have a bottle of good Pinot.

It's raining outside.

Life is pretty swell, I reckon.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Nice

Well, this is just nice.

From the June 2006 issue of Queensland Books:

WARNING: IF YOU LOAN THIS BOOK TO A FRIEND CHANCES ARE YOU WON’T GET IT BACK.
Trent Jamieson’s Reserved for Travelling Shows is not the kind of book to be read once or even twice, it needs to be on call; so buy a copy, and hide it.


Yes, my collection encourages book theft.

Oh, and Neal Asher has a blog check it out. Asher's been my big find of the year - his books are utterly addictive.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

And for my next book...

Hey, it looks like I can talk about the big news I mentioned rather unsubtly in May.

My second book has been sold to the ABC. It's part of a children's series -- called "The Lost Shim" -- I'm doing with my writing group ROR. The details are here. They're a bit sketchy at the moment, but things will develop over the next little while.

My book, with the working title of "The City and the Stony Stars" was a lot of fun to write - maybe the most fun I've had writing anything. Pretty cool, eh.

Almost as cool as Okkervil River touring in September.

Nah, it's cooler.

Consock 06 is over.

Ropes of smoke dangling skywards from the pyre, melted button eyes leering out of the ash, a single flaming sock puppet arm lifting into the air in a sad (sockery) mockery of a wave. Sock puppet authors burn better than regular authors - though not as well as finger puppet authors and not nearly as well as kerosene puppets. The priest who performed the exorcism said it was necessary, or they might never leave - he was a sock puppet priest, so he went in right at the end.

Still it was a relatively successful con - sold 5 copies of reserved for travelling shows - my book, in case you hadn't heard about it, and sock puppet trent is a pretty good panellist - no long silences, no mumbling into the mike - I made sure he burnt long and slow.

Friday tomorrow and it looks like I'll be catching up with one of my favourite people in the world - and one of my favourite sf writers. Hell, if you can't name drop on your blog where can you?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Okkervil River

are touring in September. I didn't expect to get a chance to see them again so soon. Extremely excited. Like I can't tell you how excited I am.

If you get a chance to see them live, do it.

Now, I've got writing to do. And a bottle of red to crack open.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Spent the morning

painting furniture (second coat). Spent the afternoon catching up with family.

Spent the evening thinking over stories.

The thinking part can often be the most fun, feeling the story grow, feeling sentences flex and characters begin to mumble and argue with each other. And the best part is finding that one contrary idea that pulls a story apart and pulls it together at the same time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pleased in the winter winds.

The rain dried up, the wind got cold. I've spent the day writing and painting outdoor furniture. The moon was swollen, and the clouds had that hyper real quality that clouds sometimes get so you feel like you're walking around in a cartoon. Happy with the writing, happy with the furniture, though it needs another coat - listened to Palo Santo while I painted, it's an incredible album.

I'm pretty pleased with the writing. I reckon I'll have about a half dozen stories ready for market in the next couple of weeks. And then it's time to get a start on novel number three.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Guinness Good Guinness Bad

And that's all I have to say on the matter.

I'm listening to "Palo Santo" by a band called Shearwater. It's brilliant and moody and dark and gorgeous.

Oh, and it's raining in Brisbane today. Not enough, but the city's all beautiful, draws the rain round itself like a shawl.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

yeah, I'm kind of over sock puppets

I woke up at seven this morning, feeling a little lopsided. Diana looked at me from her pillow. "Has that sock puppet always been in your ear?"

A sock puppet CS Lewis had burrowed into the canal. Took out a chunk of my eardrum having it removed - surgically, of course. Oh, and they left a pair of tweezers in there, so as I'm typing this my head is jangling, bloody sock puppet doctors.

Got to work and noticed a sock puppet Lewis Carroll trying to gnaw its way into my right kidney. I'm a mess of bloody dressings - and they're all pissed at me because I didn't consider a dressing puppet con, maybe next year.

Sorry, got to go cough up that Lovecraft - which is marginally better than having TB.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

a radiant gathering of sock puppets

The sock puppets are gathering, knocking on the door with their little sock puppet knuckles. I woke this morning to a whole bunch of them standing on the end of the bed watching me with their beady button eyes - I think the sock puppet Heinlein is their leader. He was chatting with a sock puppet Hemingway - on his way to a literary festival in Melbourne.

I coughed up a sock puppet Poe the other day, and I suspect there is a sock puppet Lovecraft in my left lung - growing, changing.

The dog and cat are skittish.

This may have been a mistake.

But I remain optimistic.

The sock puppets are gathering.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

And, if you're going to Conflux...

My short story collection "Reserved for Travelling Shows" will be available in the dealers' room. Bill Congreve has copies and I am sure he would be delighted to sell them to you.

At Consock 06 each copy comes with wise cracking a sock puppet Trent. But, at Conflux, you just get the book. Bet you wish you were hanging with me and the puppets, eh?

Just Finished Just Started

I finished "Cowl" by Neal Asher last night, and bought his "Line of Polity" today. I tend to avoid reading two books by the same author in a row, but I'm addicted damn it. Cowl was great, the best time travel, giant monster with many mouths, and lots of dinosaurs novel I've read - and probably the most fun time travel story I've read since "Big Time" by Fritz Leiber - the time travel was kind of peripheral in "Big Time" but it still counts. It's great stuff.

Once "Line of Polity" is done, I'm rushing onto the Sean Williams and Shane Dix Geodesica duology. I heard Sean read from this a couple of years back and I have been meaning to read it for a long time. Sean's written some absolutely wonderful novels, and I've tended to read them at pivotal moments in my life. I can still remember reading "Metal Fatigue" when I asked Diana to marry me - and she said yes, of course, because I was reading a book with such a cool title.*

Unfortunately a Neal Asher sock puppet couldn't be made in time for Consock 06, nor is the Sean Williams sock puppet attending - as it was already commited to three other sock cons this June.


*No, she's not that shallow, I was wearing an attractive jumper at the time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sleep, or lack there of, and the clarity of night

I think this is just about perfect.

I just wish it was me. Work has sunk my insomnia, and, when it surfaces these days, all it brings with it is a kind of mad panic. But I remember the quiet clarity of night. I remember the stars and the thoughts between them in the dark. Sleep, and that dull hunger for it, takes away so much.

Oddly enough this is a panel topic at Consock 06.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New stuff, finished stuff, and Consock 06

MEMO

The Outage Ouroboros is almost upon us again and, while this is no cause for celebration, neither is it a reason for alarm. Remember:

(1) Keep all doors locked.

(2) Stay away from all windows.

(3) All electrical items must remain off. The surge, post-outage has the potential to explode electrical devices.

(4)Should you be armed, and it is highly recommended that you are, remember a shot to the head kills most beasts you are liable to encounter.

(5)While it is untoward to be pessimistic, remember to keep at least one bullet in the chamber for yourself.

Just finished a rewrite of story that I think is one of my best - well I've got a feeling in my bones or me waters or the water in me bones. It's taken about five drafts and two rejections - I'm a bit embarrassed that I sent the story out before now, it really wasn't working - but I think I've nailed it. It's sat there, alive in my skull, for the last few years, but just not firing, and getting in the way of a lot of other stuff I wanted to write. It's a bloody relief I tell you. Of course, it may well suck, but I've learnt more writing this story than from anything I've done before. So even if it never finds a home I think it's been worth it.

You climb to the top of the tower, the last nineteen floors are without elevator, just coil upon coil of stairwell, wound too tight for easy walking, but just right for defence, though there is no-one in this building to defend it. You’re panting by the time you reach the top. Sweat streams and drips and splatters from your brow, makes ephemeral patterns on the concrete -- though maybe not, who knows what might set upon these ghosts of you, taste the tinctures of your soul, and howl out its hungers.

Also writing a new story, still at the pen and paper stage, it's kind of linked to my story "Tumble" in a loose series that I'm calling "beautiful cities of the damned". Tumble was a sort of Western. This one is more of a noir piece. Having a hell of a lot of fun with it, lots of dead bodies coming back to life, and demons chained and hungry, and corrupt detectives, and rumbling trains.

Wish I was going to Conflux next weekend, but at least I've got some stories that are exciting me to keep me going. And, with my mastery of sock puppetry I can pretend I am at a con. That's the thing with sock puppets I can have any guest of honour I want - even dead writers. So at Consock 06 I'll be hanging with Sock Homer, Sock Leiber, and a special secret guest. Find me at the bar with a whole bunch of the cool sock puppet sf writing crowd.

Just stuff what I am finishing and stuff what I am starting

MEMO

The Outage Ouroboros is almost upon us again and, while this is no cause for celebration, neither is it a reason for alarm. Remember:

(1) Keep all doors locked.
(2) Stay away from all windows.
(3) All electrical items must remain off. The surge, post-outage has the potential to explode electrical devices.
(4)Should you be armed, and it is highly recommended that you are, remember a shot to the head kills most beasts you are liable to encounter.
(5)While it is untoward to be pessimistic, remember to keep at least one bullet in the chamber for yourself.


Just finished a rewrite of story that I think is one of my best - well I've got a feeling in my bones or me waters or the water in me bones. It's taken about five drafts and two rejections - I'm a bit embarrassed that I sent the story out before now, it really wasn't working - but I think I've nailed it. It's sat there, alive in my skull, for the last few years, but just not firing, and getting in the way of a lot of other stuff I wanted to write. It's a bloody relief I tell you. Of course, it may well suck, but I've learnt more writing this story than from anything I've done before. So even if it never finds a home I think it's been worth it.

You climb to the top of the tower, the last nineteen floors are without elevator, just coil upon coil of stairwell, wound too tight for easy walking, but just right for defence, though there is no-one in this building to defend it. You’re panting by the time you reach the top. Sweat streams and drips and splatters from your brow, makes ephemeral patterns on the concrete -- though maybe not, who knows what might set upon these ghosts of you, taste the tinctures of your soul, and howl out its hungers.

Also writing a new story, still at the pen and paper stage, it's kind of linked to my story "Tumble" in a loose series that I'm calling "beautiful cities of the damned". Tumble was a sort of Western. This one is more of a noir piece. Having a hell of a lot of fun with it, lots of dead bodies coming back to life, and demons chained and hungry, and corrupt detectives, and rumbling trains.

Wishing I was going to Conflux next weekend, but at least I've got some stories that are exciting me to keep me going. And, with my mastery of sock puppetry I can pretend I am at a con. That's the thing with sock puppets I can have any guest of honour I want - even dead writers.

So at Consock 06 I'll be hanging with Sock Homer, Sock Leiber, and a special secret guest. Find me at the bar with a whole bunch of the cool sock puppet sf writing crowd.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Down the River of Golden Dreams

I bought Okkervil River's album "Down the River of Golden Dreams" a couple of weeks back and have been playing it pretty much non-stop since - and subjecting it to anyone that visits, yes I am one of those sorts of people. Will Sheff is the Raymond Carver of alt-rock*, his lyrics are simply wonderful, bleak, sublime and carried on a raw and powerful voice.

I love this band. And you will, too.

Look into the monitor,

you are feeling sleepy.

Now follow this link and download, it's all good.


*Actually alt-rock is a terrible description, but it's all I have, and I don't know if Will has a drinking problem, but he is an excellent story teller, and I didn't think calling him the Chekhov of alt-rock sounded as punchy and I kinda prefer Raymond Carver, or Richard Ford - but Ford isn't as pithy, though you really should check out his novella "Abyss" in his collection "A Multitude of Sins" it's very good, and bleak, and funny, but mainly bleak, you know in the way that finding something really funny like a little doll of a clown, with a wide, vacuous grin, then discovering that it's buried in your chest and your heart has stopped beating, and it's still grinning up at you, from the hole in your chest, and, oh shit, it's still kind of hilarious, or maybe not.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Week is Done

Well, the week I wasn't looking forward to is done.

And it wasn't as bad as I thought. I finished work a little before midnight on wednesday - the dreaded stocktake - and caught the last train home. The streets were pretty much empty on the walk home from the station. Just me and the cold.

Until I got to the block before my place. There was this really, really big cat on the road, doing that staring thing that cats do. I was watching it, watching me. I bent down to pat it and realised it wasn't a cat, but a possum, it bolted for the nearest telephone pole, after grunting at me, and then thuck, thuck, thuck, with those stubby thick claws, excellent for climbing, it was halfway up the pole and looking back down at me.

About 50,000 years ago there were "possums" that could eat people, and I think this one considered it, for a moment. Then it decided it was more fun to clamber onto someone's roof and get into a fight.

I went home.

That was pretty much the coolest thing about stocktake.