I arrived back in Australia on Monday.
I had a wonderful vacation. Eastern Europe is such an interesting place.
I finished my trip with a visit to a friend who is living in Germany. I almost stayed an extra day in Germany. My flight from Frankfurt was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers to stay an extra day. They were offering hotel accommodation and 600 euros in compensation. I was going to volunteer, but somebody else beat me to it.
I’ve got a lot of photos to sort through and will add some more blog entries about places I visited after Belarus.
I didn’t get much writing done while I was away, but I got lots of ideas for stories and I’ve kept sending my earlier stories out. Have been busy clocking up rejection letters.
Since Clarion I’ve written 3 new short stories and now all of them have been accepted. So I must have learned something there.
I’ve got a flash fiction piece coming up in Antipodean SF, a short story in the 12th Planet kids’ SF anthology and I just had a second story accepted by Fantasy Magazine.
I’ll be up in northern NSW for a little while, then will have to organise finding a new apartment and a new job in Melbourne.
American writer Jeff VanderMeer (one of my tutors at the writing workshop I did in Brisbane at the start of the year) has a write-up about me on his web site.
Kansai Scene recently published my interview with an Australian potter who is one of the few foreigners to have his work recognised by a Japanese tea master.
Go to NatCon in Adelaide.
Finish my YA fantasy novel.
Write 3 new short stories.
Finish editing my Clarion stories.
Finish my book about Japan.
Finish my eBook for the iPhone.
Learn the Cyrillic Alphabet.
Learn basic Mandarin.
Learn basic Russian.
Work out where I’m going to visit in Eastern Europe.
Add some photo galleries to my web site.
* Warriors of Medieval Japan
* The Historian
* Mao: The Unknown Story
* Soon I Will Be Invincible
* City of Saints & Madmen
* Bridge of Birds
* The Master & Margarita
* Putin’s Russia
* What I’d Say to the Martians
* Snake Agent
* The Hard-Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World
Learn how to write more realistic To Do Lists.
I finished a proposal (outline and sample chapters) for a book about weird things from Japan. So will be sending that off to agents.
I sold Love’s Apprentice, a micro fiction story to Thaumatrope.
Have been doing some planning for a YA fantasy novel.
Started work on a new short story. My first post-Clarion South short story.
Had been planning to revise one of my Clarion stories (The Fourth Monkey) but haven’t made much progress with that. Basically starting it from scratch again.
Have also been doing a lot of reading recently.
I read Jeff Vandermeer’s Booklife, which is one of the most useful books on writing I’ve ever read.
Been reading some YA fantasy novel. Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines (which has a really cool premise), Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret (beautiful book), James Owens’ Here, There Be Dragons (interesting premise, but the characters weren’t that engaging) and China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun. I love Mieville’s other books and while there are some cool things in here, it felt way too long for me.
Also read some more behavioral economics books (why do people do strange things) - Tim Harford’s The Logic of Life and Dan Ariely’s Predictibly Irrational. Both fascinating.
I read Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. This is the first of the Dexter books. I’m a big fan of the TV series and the book was really enjoyable as well. I think the ending of the first series of the TV show was better than the book’s ending.
Plus some Japanese history books. Now I know all about warrior monks.
This week I got my 200th rejection letter. It was for a story I’d originally written long ago (1998) and revised over the years. I did a major revision after Clarion, and since then it’s earned me a couple more rejection letters. I suspect it soon shall be confined to the Abandoned section of my writing folders.
I submitted my first story to a magazine way back in 1991, when I was still at high school. I like keeping records of things, so I’ve kept track of the number of submissions (both fiction and non-fiction) I’ve made for every year since then. I’ve also kept track of the number of rejection letters. It’s at least an indicator that I’m still working on my writing.
I’ve also been doing a bit of reading in the last month. After seeing the Watchmen movie I read the graphic novel, which I was suitably impressed with.
I read Ian McDonald’s Brasyl, which was a very ambitious book, but didn’t really grab me. I’ve been to Brazil a couple of times and I’m really interested in Latin America, but found the novel’s characters hard to sympathise with. And I’m a bit tired of reading stories where Frank Tipler’s Omega Point plays a role.
I read Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. It’s the fourth Harry Dresden novel, and as usual, was a fun, enjoyable read.
I read Vampire Loves by Joann Sfar. It’s a quirky graphic novel about a vampire and his relationship problems. The start was great, but it started to drift a bit after that.
I’m halfway through Accelerando by Charles Stross. Amazing ideas but hard to get into. It’s a good example of why some people prefer fantasy to sf and why some people prefer sf to fantasy. Me, I love both genres. A sample paragraph:
New discoveries this decade include the origins of the weakly repulsive force responsible for changes in the rate of expansion of the universe after the big bang, and on a less abstract level, experimental implementations of a Turing Oracle using quantum entanglement circuits: a device that can determine whether a given functional expression can be evaluated in finite time. It’s boom time in the field of Extreme Cosmology, where some of the more recherche researchers are bickering over the possibility that the entire universe was created as a computing device, with a program encoded in the small print of the Planck constant.
Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner is one of the most interesting and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. The topics it covers -
* Chapter 1: Discovering cheating as applied to teachers and sumo wrestlers
* Chapter 2: Information control as applied to the Ku Klux Klan and real-estate agents
* Chapter 3: The economics of drug dealing, including the surprisingly low earnings and abject working conditions of crack cocaine dealers
* Chapter 4: The controversial role legalized abortion has played in reducing crime. (Levitt explored this topic in an earlier paper entitled “The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime.”)
* Chapter 5: The negligible effects of good parenting on education
* Chapter 6: The socioeconomic patterns of naming children
I sold a travel article about NZ a few years ago. Just recently the web site I sold it to, started offering their articles to another web site and they bought my article. So I got paid again, without any extra work. The joy of reprints.