Archive for June, 2009

Way back when I was young, I inherited a pile of books from my father. Some were from when he was a boy, others were from later on, dealing with Greek and Roman history mainly.

Of his boyhood books, one in particular became my favourite. It had been given to him for Christmas 1956, so is quite an old book, and was called The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss. I read it many, many times as a boy, but hadn’t read it for many years since, until the other day.

The novel itself was first published way back in 1812. In the version I have at least, the language and even attitudes in it may seem a little old fashioned, but perhaps modern adaptions have gotten around it. For instance, pineapples are referred in it by their old name, Ananas.

As to the story itself, it tells of a Swiss family on a colony ship heading to the South Seas, and who are shipwrecked somewhere in the East Indies. The rest of the crew perish, but they survive. The story is told by the father of the family, whose name we never discover and related their adventures. The rest of the family is his wife, Elizabeth, and their four sons, Fritz, Ernest, Jack and Francis, ranging from 14 to 6 years in age.

The island they find themselves on is a veritable Aladin’s cave of an impossible collection of plants and animals drawn from all over the world – lions, tigers, jackals, zebras, ostriches, kangaroo, platypus, wild boars, onagers, monkeys, penguins, flax plants, pineapple, coconuts, rubber trees, sago, cotton, so on and on.

Using the tools they find on the ship and the father’s seemingly limitless knowledge of trades, they build themselves a place to live and indeed thrive.

What I loved about it as a kid was the adventures they had, exploring new lands, building shelters, discovering new wonders and so it. It was probably the first story that sparked the enjoyment of that type of thing in me, and certainly influenced a lot of the books, games and movies I enjoyed so much in later years. It is in part also what I love about building new worlds to write in, as it allows me to seek out the new and unknown.

Just came across a very interesting article, titled 1000 True Fans. A very interesting read.

The short version of it goes thus; You don’t need to produce a mega-blockbuster to be successful and make a living. It would be nice, but they are in the tiny minority.

If you can just garner 1000 True Fans, then you can make a living. By True Fans, they mean the type who will travel long distances to hear your next song, buy all your books, all the caps and mugs and calenders that are merchandise. Seek out autographed copies of your work. The type of people who will spend a day’s wage per year on you.

Of course, if you do the maths, you can see 1000 is more than you would need – and that doesn’t count lesser fans who buy the occasional item.

This is certainly something I’d like to aim for, though I’m currently about, oh, 1000 True Fans short. I’d be quite happy with a couple of hundred in reality

I visit a few communities where the 1000 True Fans effect is a reality – webcomics for the most part – and though I didn’t have a name to give the phenomenon, they certainly gave me the inspiration to give it a go myself.

Of course, my art skills are rather on the mediocre side, so I had to fall back on the written word. My hope is, eventually, to make more and more stories available, to expand on the website, maybe get some forums going – to hopefully be a good enough writer to attract a small community of True Fans to interact with. In this day and age, with the ‘net and all the resources now available, it is much easier to do.

It may just be a pipe dream in the end, but a nice one, and one that I think is at least worth pursuing. But there is a lot of work ahead before that day…

It appears that today, June 23rd, has been named SF/F Writers’ Day, as I discovered in this post by Alan Baxter. I’m with Alan on the placement of the apostrophe for the title. 🙂

So for all of us writers of sci-fi and fantasy out there, have a great writing day.

The Art Of Procrastinating

Posted: June 23, 2009 in writing update
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When it comes to procrastinating, I think I’ve mastered it. I want to be writing, I need to be writing – when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing.

But when I sit down to write I find far too many distractions. It is not that I’m meaning too, it just sort of happens. Probably that pessimistic negative voice deep down that the effort isn’t going to be worth it to write…

Do you think you may be a procrastinator too? This post lists signs to tell you if you are, and what you can do to end it. I need to start trying to follow those rules…

Annoyance

Posted: June 22, 2009 in General

Currently most of my websites are inaccessible, and those that are working are not always working properly – either being slow, not loading correctly, not loading images etc

It is a right pain :/

Problem is with an upstream source with my provider – and though they are working on it, it has been like this for over a day. *sigh*

In the Hall of Black Trees, a number of unusual animals are mentioned, animals that seem fanciful in the extreme.

In reality these animals actually once lived, forming part of what is now the extinct Australian Megafauna.

These were a fascinating collection of animals, much larger than current species as can be guessed by the name. They went extinct some 40,000+ years ago, roughly at the time man first arrived in Australia. Whether that had any effect on the extinction is a matter of much debate still.

Only a few of the species get a guernsey in this first story – others will be seen in later stories of Braega and Tudhala.

The Thunder Birds that chase Tudhala are, or were, a species called Dromornis stirtoni – Stirton’s Thunder Bird. They were a three metre, 500 kilogram flightless bird that was probably carnivorous. For the sake of a good story, I am saying they are meat eaters. A smaller species, the Bullockornis, is also know by the colourful moniker the Demon Duck of Doom.

Alia is of the species Thylacoleo carnifex – the Marsupial Lion. They were the largest meat eating mammals in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. The size of a leopard, they nevertheless possessed the strongest bite of any known mammal, living or extinct. A 100 kg Marsupial Lion would have had a bite the same strength as a 250 kg African Lion. Her colouration is of course made up, but taken from a picture of one I saw when writing the story.

Alia the Marsupial Lion

Marsupial Lion

The Diprotodon I have mentioned before, but I can’t go without mentioning it again. Imagine a wombat. Now imagine it scaled up to three metres long, two metres tall and weighing in at almost 3000 kilos. Basically a wombat the size of a rhinoceros.

Diprotodon

Diprotodon

The snakes and lizards also existed, including a giant carnivorous goanna that might have reached seven metres and 2000 kilos, the Bluff Downs Giant Python that grew up to ten metres long, and the quinkana fortirostrum, a crocodile which grew from five, to possibly seven metres in length.

All in all, a collection of rather large and defiantly dangerous animals. Perfect, in fact, for the Primal Tales series of stories.

Sat down and wrote the fourth short story, The Duel, for the collection yesterday. Its only 2000 words in length, but I think it succeeds in what I wanted from it.

Don’t want to say too much about it without giving away the story.

Now comes the next stage, getting all the stories compiled together into the next volume of Pure Escapism and making it presentable enough.

Had the best week of writing I’ve had for quite a long time. Churned out over 15,000 words in total, so easily made my 2K a day mark for the last week. I’m still a bit behind for the monthly total though, at 26K in the first 17 days.

6200 words of that were in the last two days. With everything else going on, left me feeling drained by days end, but rather happy as well.

So far three of the stories for Pure Escapism Volume Two are done – just need the fourth done, which will hopefully be today or tomorrow. Barring emergencies, I’d like to have it out by week’s end.

I’m changing the content of the upcoming second volume of Pure Escapism slightly. One of the short stories, namely The Village, hasn’t worked out as well as I would like, so I am pulling it out for now and, once it is fixed, it will appear in a later issue.

Replacing it is a short story that is perhaps the oldest one I’ve got that is worth reading – it dates back to ’91 or ’92, when I was still a teenager. To have something from my teenage years actually decent enough to read is a rarity.

The story was one I wrote for Writers Workshop class. I may actually have the original one around somewhere, but it would be hard to find, tough I remember the plot quite well. The story itself came from an exercise where we were shown a painting and had to write a story from it. The painting was of an old, slightly sad looking man, wearing a Spanish Conquistador style helmet with a red plume. The story itself is a bit different, which lends itself well to the more experimental feel of the second volume.

The story is called The Duel, and I look forward to it being available soon, once volume two is finally finished.

I’ve finished the edit/rewrite of the second of the short stories and have commenced on the third, and longest, of the four. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be done and have volume two ready to go.

The edits, beside fixing spelling and grammar issues, also seem to add about 20% to the length of the stories from the rough drafts as parts get improved and expanded on.

Yesterday was a bit lacklustre. Had plenty of chances to do some writing but didn’t start until 8:15 at night. Waste of much of a day really. Still, I got a solid hour and a half in. Hopefully today is better.