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January Wrap-up

Posted by samuel on February 5, 2014 in Reading, writing discussion, writing updates

I only read one book in Jan:

The Silver Locomotive Mystery, by Edward Marston. Historical mystery.

Thoughts: Okay. Not great, but not bad. Enjoyed the primary setting (1855 Wales), struggled a bit with the style. 2.5 out of 5

Jan stattage:

Subbed 1 brand-new short story.
Did an extensive rework of a trunk story (i counted that as my ‘write’ story for the month). I hope to get that back on the subbing train this month.
Made 1 sale.
Received 2 rejections (both for the brand-new story).
Have 6 stories out in the world.

Feb goals:

Read 2 books.
Finish edits on 2 more stories.
Write 1 brand new story.
Sub last month’s write story.
Have 9 stories out in the world (unless any sell — subtract accordingly).
Continue rewriting badgerpunk novel from 1st to 3rd (i’m really struggling to go back to this novel for some reason).

ETA: Seems comments aren’t working for this post. Sorry about that, and thanks for the likes!

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First sale of the year!

Posted by samuel on January 13, 2014 in writing discussion

Machinations, a 2,200 word light SF tale, has sold to Bards & Sages Quarterly, to be published in the October 2014 issue. This will be my 5th tale in Bard & Sages.

Nice that the first response of the year is a sale, too!

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December Reads & some other stuff

Posted by samuel on January 1, 2014 in writing discussion

in which i briefly discuss the books i read in December, as well as some other stuff.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. YA, SFF.

Thoughts: Fun read. There were no two-dimensional characters (that i noticed anyway), even in the supporting staff. A few chuckles, too. 4 out of 5.

Sitka, by Louis L’Amour. Western/Frontier.

Thoughts: L’Amour was a real storyteller. I tend to judge books as good based on whether they make me want to write. Sitka had me wanting to write after only 20 pages. 4.5 out of 5.

The Mystery of the Shrinking House, by William Arden. MG/YA. Three Investigators Series.

Thoughts: I’ve loved these books since i was a kid. They’re always intelligently plotted and the characters rounded. This one was no exception. 4 out of 5.

Code Noir, by Marianne de Pierres. SF (cyberpunk)

Thoughts: Caveat: i haven’t read the first book in the series, this being the second, and it doesn’t appear to be one of those series you can plop comfortably into partway through.

I really wanted to like this book. Cyberpunk, kick-ass female lead. Unfortunately, i had to force myself to finish. Too frenetically paced for me, with some group characterization that left me vaguely uncomfortable, and some easily avoidable errors. 2 out of 5.

I will give de Pierres another go. It’s entirely likely my being sick has made me a tetchier reader.
ETA: I have, since, bought books 1 & 3 in the series, so will try again from the beginning.

Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters, edited by Harlan Coben. Anthology of 1930s crime fiction.

Thoughts: Great stuff. Some of the stories had things of the era that make me uncomfortable (casual sexism and racism, for example), but not too pronounced, thankfully. 4.5 out of 5.

In progress: The Silver Locomotive Mystery, by Edward Marston. Historical mystery.

Thoughts: A third of the way in, and enjoying it so far. Detective story set in 1855, and part of a series based around the trains and railways of the era.

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Other Stuff

Had a couple of sales to end the year. Ocbeta’s Revenge, a collaborative effort, and Seaborn. When i can share further details, i will.

I’m hoping back on the Write 1 Sub 1 wagon this year. The plan is 12 stories and 2 novels.

2014 is going to be a good writing year. I can feel it. :)

Also, Comets and Criminals 2.0 has relaunched with the very fine story ‘The Case of the Night-walking Automaton,’ by George S. Walker. There’s an audio version, too, read by me.

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November Reads

Posted by samuel on December 1, 2013 in Reading

In which i briefly discuss the books i read in November.

Finished

Outlaw Breed, by Max Brand. Western.

Thoughts: Typical Max Brand western, with the melodrama expected of the genre. 3 out of 5.

Scourge, by Jeff Grubb. A Star Wars novel, set in the New Republic era.

Thoughts: Read a bit like a transcript of a tabletop RPG adventure, which it may well be, as the events of the book first appeared in a SW RPG product. Still, full of action and set in a familiar universe. 3 out of 5.

The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau. YA SF.

Thoughts: Nice pacing, interesting world. 3.5 out of 5.

206 Bones, by Kathy Reichs. Crime/Mystery.

Thoughts: First Temperance Brennan novel i’v read, though i have most of her books on my shelf (every secondhand book fair i’ve been to has heaps of them going, so i thought, ‘why not collect her?’ :D). Fast paced, well-plotted. While i worked out most of the main plot conclusion fairly early, i didn’t get all the pieces in the correct order. 4 out of 5.

Didn’t Finish

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Classic.

Thoughts: Couldn’t do it. Not sure exactly why, but just couldn’t get more than a few chapters in.

In Progress

The Best Mysteries of Isaac Asimov, by Isaac Asimov. Collection of 31 mystery stories.

Ongoing Thoughts: While i acknowledge Asimov was an SF master, i often struggle with his writing style. This collection is no exception. I started this in September, and am still only a few stories in. I’ll push on, though.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. YA SF/F.

Ongoing Thoughts: Only 50 pages in, but enjoying so far. Fun characters and fun world.

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Interview with a character: Jazz Heely

Posted by samuel on November 13, 2013 in writing discussion

Today we have with us, live in studio, the lady who will be the recurring protagonist in most of Samuel Mae’s new short stories. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

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Thanks, narrator. Jazz Heely, isn’t it?

Yep.

So, what’s, like, your deal?

You mean, my job?

Hey, I’m asking the questions. But yes, your job?

I’m a contractor.

I see. Well, so am I, but I’m not off every week stealing priceless jewels or collecting bounties or exploring ancient ruins or delivering medical supplies to quarantined planets. And I definitely don’t have a Confederation warrant. Or a Commonwealth one. Or any warrant. Mostly, I do data entry.

We must subscribe to different job services.

Not that I think I’d want to do your kind of contracting. You look like you’ve been through the wars.

Several actually, and plenty of skirmishes.

Where are these latest injuries from?

Ribs, cracked, thanks to a run-in with a robot sentry on a job last month. Fingers, two broken, because I tried to catch a flying ship spanner rather than dodge it. That was stupid. The knee is okay. It’s bandaged up because I’ve had some nano-upgrades and my right knee is the transceiver point. Don’t worry about the arm, it’s cybernetic, and the data nodes at the base of my neck are permanent too. And useful.

The black eyes?

Nothing, really. The optic upgrades are fine. My nose got a thumping in a recent fight with a Novus Replicate initiate is all.

But you should see him, right?

He probably looks about the same. I just had to get close enough to shock him in the balls with my hand-stunner. I did call his mother some nasty things, though.

Why did you get into this line of work?

Why does anybody? Money, of course. Body upgrades and enhancements aren’t cheap.

What did you do before this?

Data entry, mostly.

Really?

No. I’ve done this since I was a kid.

Wow. You were raised as a mercenary?

Contractor. And I guess I was. Dad was a warden gone rogue — he was good, the government was bad — and Mom was a gangster way up the tree. I hung with Dad growing up. Mom was too busy crushing her rivals, expanding her drug empire, planning political assassinations and all that other criminal kingpin stuff.

Sounds like an unusual match.

The Milky Way is full of unusual matches.

Are they still together?

Were they ever, really? Mom just wanted Dad’s DNA, but was bound by some weird old-world traditions to care for him as well.

So what happened?

Dad got on his moral high horse one day. There was yelling and throwing stuff and maybe gunfire. Then Dad lit out and took me with.

Is he still alive?

Last I saw him, he was on a cruiser venting atmosphere, exchanging gunfire with some pirates who’d double-crossed us and I was on the last escape shuttle, heading towards planet.

So he might still be alive?

Well, aren’t you smart? Guess he could be, but I tried searching for a while and everything points to that being the last of him. And Mom stopped chasing after that, too. She’s got far better resources at her disposal than I do, so I figure he must be dead.

Don’t stay in touch with your mother, then?

I try not to. Our paths cross sometimes–it’s a small galaxy, once you’ve been around it a few times — but we don’t talk.

She hasn’t tried to induct you into the organization?

Yeah, but only halfheartedly. I’m sure she’s got some master plan, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Got too much else to keep me busy.

Do you think you’ll do this your whole life?

Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a great way to get around the galaxy. Better than hitchhiking, that’s for sure.

Surely you have dreams.

Sometimes I dream about unicorns. And candy rain.

That’s very interesting, but I’m talking more about–

Nah, I usually dream about explosions.

Exploding unicorns?

Exploding candy. I keep asking Hermit to make me some, but he has scruples about it for some reason. He does a mean chocolate box, though.

Explain.

No.

Okay. So what’s your end goal with this contracting stuff?

I’d love to have something named after me.

Heh. You just keep coming with the wisecracks.

I’m serious. It’s about the only way I can see to become immortal.

Anything in particular?

Nah. A solar system would be cool, but you’ve got to do something pretty amazing to get your name on one of those. Hell, I’d be happy if I got a beetle named after me. Or even if I spawned a popular term. Like if people started calling getting the job done in the nick of time ‘jazzing it.’

You can’t see yourself settling down, then?

I’m not even sure what that means. I’ve met people who’ve had the same job for forty years, or raised large families, or never left their hometown and I wouldn’t call most of them settled.

What’s your favorite place in the Milky Way?

Just one?

That’s kind of what ‘favorite’ implies.

*laughs* I’m beginning to like you.

Thanks. I hope. Do people you like often end up dead?

Only sixty-five percent of the time.

Great. So, favorite place?

That’s a hard one. If I had to choose, maybe the Rainbow Falls on Salvit Outer. It’s a trick of the atmosphere or something, but the waterfalls flow in ten different colors. When they hit the lake surface it’s like watching paint melt on a canvas. Breathtakingly beautiful.

I have to say, you don’t seem like a rainbow-loving type of person.

Everybody’s an enigma in the right light.

Probably time to wrap this up. Before we go, though, tell us what’s next for Jazz Heely.

*shrugs* Who knows? Right now I’m in the middle of an investigation, trying to figure out who killed a middle-ranked GalEx Inc. accountant. In his office, of all places. And why the Novus Replicates are involved.

Turning detective, eh?

Be whatever the job needs you to be, is my motto. He was part of a money laundering ring, which I’m beginning to suspect has my Mom’s pawprints all over it.

Busting criminals, even.

Don’t you start! Fact is, someone in that ring has coordinates to an ancient battle station supposedly brimming with gene tech. I want those coordinates. The accountant’s murderer might not have them, but the accountant was my best lead. So I figure if I find his killer I might get back on the trail again.

Um, sounds like a longshot to me.

Yeah, well, what do they say? The devil’s in the details?

I’m not sure that saying works here.

Perhaps I haven’t told you the full story.

Nobody ever does.

*silence*

Uh, well, I guess I should let you get back to tracking down killers and busting criminals and suchlike.

Just so we’re clear, it’s very rare for me to do those things you just mentioned.

I did my research. It’s less rare than you would have us believe.

Well, don’t shout it out too loud. It would do terrible things for my reputation.

I understand. Thank you, Jazz Heely, for consenting to this interview. I hope you get that solar system named in your honor soon.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe a solar system isn’t such a good idea. Pretty sure you have to be dead before they name any after you. A plant might be a better bet. Something like a ‘Heely’s Carnivorous Fighting Vine.’

Whatever pilots your cruiser, I guess. Thanks again, Jazz, and safe travels.

You better not misquote me. I know where you live. Or at least, I can find out easy enough.

I would never do such a thing.

Good.

You like having the last word, don’t you?

Yes. See you around, readers. Back to you, narrator.

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Thanks, Jazz and Sam. We’re currently organizing an interview with Jazz’s arch rival, Leclerc, so stay tuned. But don’t tell Jazz, because we’d prefer not to have a firefight in studio. If you have any follow-up questions, post them in the comments section.

Happy travels, everybody!

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