The Best of Abyss & Apex, Volume 2

Now available on Amazon, and wherever such indisputably fine books as this are sold: The Best of Abyss & Apex, Volume Two.

I have the honour to serve on the staff of Abyss & Apex as Editor-at-Large. This collection contains many of the finest stories I have helped to edit during my tenure there. I can’t pick a favourite, but Celeste Rita Baker’s ‘Name Calling’ is an excellent piece of work, and George S. Walker’s ‘Dreadnought Under Ice’ is exceptionally nifty. All this and C. J. Cherryh, too!

The book is immediately available in both paperback and ebook editions. The price is a very reasonable $9.99 and $3.00 U.S., respectively, or the equivalent in your local dosh.

 

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One of the duties attached to my position was to do the interior design for this ‘Best Of’ anthology, in both ebook and print formats. It can do no harm to mention that I am available to do this kind of work for other clients at reasonable rates. (The cover design, however, is by other capable hands; though I assisted in getting it ready for press.)

‘Superversive’ coming soon

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed—
Dignity never been photographed.

—Bob Dylan, ‘Dignity’

Neither the redoubtable Sarah Dimento nor I could think of any good way to draw a picture of a superversion; so after long dithering, I asked her to come up with a simple text design.

Here, then, is the cover for Superversive: Recovering the Tao of Fantasy, coming soon to an Amazon near you.

[Read more…]

Apologies

Part 3 of ‘The exotic and the familiar’ has been badly delayed. My doctors have changed my medication yet again, and my body and mind are struggling to adapt. Going cold turkey on one drug has given me nightmares, reduced mental acuity, and random weepy bouts. Starting up on another drug has given me insomnia and anxiety attacks. Both of these effects are bound to go away in a few weeks, but until then, I am having great difficulty applying myself and getting work done

On top of that, I somehow managed to throw out my back and strain a muscle. For the first 24 hours, I could not stand up straight, but had to walk like Dagwood Bumstead or Groucho Marx. Now I can stand, though not without pain, and my mind is mildly fogged with painkillers.

I am very sorry for the delay. Please pray, if that be your wont, that I may get through the next few weeks without any more of these interesting experiences.

An experiment in speed writing

Came back Friday night from a short holiday in British Columbia, where lakes were swum in, and hot springs soaked in, and beaches lain upon, and peaches picked and gourmandized. The Beloved Other and I were both much refreshed upon our return.

Today, I began a brief experiment in writing at top speed, to see if I can break myself of some of the perfectionist habits that have so impeded my productivity. I am reminding myself (truthfully, I hope) that there are those who enjoy my writing just as it is; I do not have to make it utterly bulletproof so that a Traditional Publisher will find no excuse to reject it, as I was once warned that I had to do. (Traditional Publishers were quite willing to reject my work without an excuse, because they saw no benefit in admitting me to the Cool Kids’ Club; but that is a rant for another time.)

So, having all but finished the opening episode of Where Angels Die, I am trying to write a rough draft of the second episode in three days. This episode is called ‘The Little Charter’, and it is designed to stand somewhat independently as a story, whilst fitting into the overall arc of the serial: the technique of episodic television. I expect it to weigh in at about 12,000 words when finished.

Four thousand words a day is a biggish output for me, but I often write essais of that length or more in a single sitting. The idea here is to keep myself from niggling unnecessarily, and teach myself to write fiction with roughly the same facility. If I can do that, I may yet manage to pay my bills at this dodge. Fiction is where the money is, but hitherto I have been too slow and sporadic to build an audience with it.

Today I did a chapter-level outline, and wrote about 2,600 words of draft copy. I will have to improve on that pace to meet my goal, but it should be feasible now that the prior planning is quite finished.

Time is not on my side in this venture. Wish me luck!

Progress report

Since inquiries have come from several of the 3.6 Loyal Readers, I answer at large:—

Tonight I finished compiling and formatting the essais that will go into the Superversive collection, and to my surprise, they seem to hang together pretty well, and add up to a sustained and forcible polemic. I still need to go through the drudgery of compiling the bibliography and endnotes (always the worst part of the job), and to write a valedictory piece, ‘Recovering the Tao of Story’. Then I have got to talk Sarah Dimento into doing a cover. I expect to have the new book out in July.

I have also, at long last, come within a few chapters of completing the first episode of Where Angels Die. I am reasonably pleased with the work so far. My original plan was to make the episodes about 60 manuscript pages apiece; that is, roughly as long as the screenplay for a one-hour television drama. But the first episode has a lot more work to do, introducing the main characters and setting up the central conflict; so it will be double that length. This is not without precedent; quite a lot of TV series have premiered as made-for-TV feature films, which were then cut up into two episodes for syndication.

I have sketched out the next three episodes, tentatively entitled ‘The Little Charter’, ‘The Bad Enough Brigade’, and ‘Luck’s Travelling Temple’. I should like to release all of them at once, and get some of the ‘Liliana Nirvana’ effect I referred to earlier. We shall see if this has a salutary effect on sales.

Meanwhile, I am formatting several paperback books for Wendy S. Delmater, and editing a translation of a stage play by Bruno Moreno Ramos. I am open for more commissions of both these kinds, at the right price.

Once all these things are taken care of, I intend to get back to work on the Magnificent Octopus. It is still my firm intention to get The Grey Death out for an autumn release; though at present it looks as if it may be later rather than earlier in that season.

The equitable division of shirking labour

Last night, I did nothing.

That is, I got no work done on Where Angels Die, which it had been my firm intention to do when I applied the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. Instead, I sifted through the archives to choose the right essais for the Superversive collection, and whittled my list down to ten. (But ten of my longer pieces; the book will be slightly longer than Writing Down the Dragon, which will make it my largest collection yet.) Then I imported them into Word, made some necessary edits (mostly to eliminate repetitive bits), and formatted them for submission to Amazon’s Magic Ebook Gonkulator.

‘But you did nothing!’ cried Truman the Boneless Beast. I have introduced you to Truman before, I think. He is a fat little sluglike creature, boneless and quite possibly brainless, who inhabits the subbasement of my mind. His function, such as it is, is to criticize everything I do, and everything I omit to do, and make it out that I am a complete and miserable failure as a human being. I call him Truman because it helps me to imagine him talking in the voice of Truman Capote, who had a voice that nobody could possibly take seriously. (He sounded very much like Droopy, the sad little dog from the Tex Avery cartoons.)

Of course, Truman meant that I wrote no original copy – ignoring the fact that I did several hours of solid work, editing and formatting and so forth, amounting to about half the labour of putting out a new book. (The other half: I shall have to write a new essai especially for the collection, my standard nefarious plot to make my 3.6 Loyal Readers buy it instead of just reading it all here for free.)

So Truman and I have struck a deal; or rather, I have made Truman an offer that he can’t refuse. Every night, when I go to work, I shall do nothing on one particular project; and Truman can castigate me as much as he likes for that. And I shall sneak away and play hooky, and spend my time working on something else, so that I can feel a sense of virtuous accomplishment about the ‘nothing’ that I did.

I regard this as a very fair way to divide up the shirking of labour.

If any of you are afflicted with minor chores or big jobs that you don’t much want to do, and your own inner screamer (miscalled your conscience) is riding you illogically whether you do them or not, I can only humbly suggest that you give this method a try. It seems to be working for me, so far.

And now I hope you will excuse me. The hour draws nigh, and I have my lack of work cut out for me.

Here comes another one: STYLE IS THE ROCKET in paperback

Order your copy!

With this latest release, all my books are now available in print editions from CreateSpace, except The End of Earth and Sky. That one will have to wait until I have a press-quality map ready. I plan to re-release it (with map) along with The Grey Death, some time later this year, if I am able to work regularly. We shall see.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Keep spreading the word!

New release: STYLE IS THE ROCKET

At long last, it’s here!

My long-promised collection of essais, Style is the Rocket, is going live today, exclusively on Amazon. It contains nine pieces that have previously appeared on this blog:

 

 

Style is the rocket
The drudge and the architect
The immersive writer
Sturgeon’s law school
Ozamataz
Legosity
Heinlein’s rules vs Amazon’s game
Clock share: Writers vs the competition
Why I write

Plus ‘The Emperor’s new prose’, a revised and updated version of a piece from 2006, and the all-new and exclusive ‘Quality vs quality’.

Buy the ebook of Style is the Rocket on Amazon today!

Get yours for $2.99 U.S., or an equivalent amount in your go-to currency.

For those who prefer to eschew electrons, a handy paperback edition will be on sale within a few days.

In other news, The Worm of the Ages and Other Tails has been our most successful ebook launch so far, thanks partly to signal boosts by L. Jagi Lamplighter, John C. Wright, Ben Zwycky, Anthony Marchetta, Wendy S. Delmater, and others. Your help in spreading the word is deeply appreciated. Yr. Obt. Svt. is touched and honoured.

So what happens next? I have several projects on the go, including another essai collection, two pieces of short fiction, and (just possibly) a collection of pieces by our Evil Alter Blogger, H. Smiggy McStudge. Keep watching this space!

THE WORM OF THE AGES, now in paperback!

While I was formatting and uploading The Worm of the Ages and Other Tails, I did the necessary work to lay out the paperback edition in InDesign. The approval process at CreateSpace takes a bit longer, because human eyes and brains have to be involved: colour prepress work for book covers is still an art as well as a science. That, too, has now been completed, and I am pleased to announce that The Worm of the Ages is already available in a print edition.

Click on the cover image below (or in the right margin of this page, if you’re viewing on a PC screen), and choose the ebook for $2.99 U.S. or the trade paperback for $6.99.

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Our thanks and blessings to all those Loyal Readers who have already purchased the ebook!

Next up: Style is the Rocket, coming to you in June!

New release: THE WORM OF THE AGES

A slight change of plans: Since The Worm of the Ages and Other Tails is ready for release now, and Style is the Rocket isn’t quite yet, we have chosen to publish Worm immediately.

Click here to buy the ebook of The Worm of the Ages and Other Tails!

The Worm of the Ages is the first short story collection by Yr. Obt. Svt., Tom Simon. It contains five stories which have previously appeared on this blog—

The Worm of the Ages
Droll’s audition
Magic’s pawnshop
A case of vengeance
Kundenschmerz

And as a bonus, a new story, ‘The wrongs of the matter’, never before published in any medium. Buy yours today! Be the envy of your friends and the puzzlement of your neighbours!

For the time being, Worm will be sold only through Amazon. That means you can borrow it through Kindle Unlimited, which I heartily recommend you do if you are a subscriber. I get paid either way. You can acquire it for the trivial price of $2.99 in U.S. greenbacks, or an equivalent amount in the dosh of your own country. Available wherever Amazon sells books.