Tag Archive for News & Upcoming Events

Mmm, BBQ

S0 yesterday was pretty good day.

There was a delayed birthday dinner with the family, whereupon we set out for The Smoke in New Farm and ate our own bodyweight in American-style BBQ, then we set out to see Wil Anderson at the Brisbane Comedy Festival, and then because I was full of food and happy I stayed up to listen to the latest Galactic Suburbia podcast instead of going to sleep.

Somewhere in there the home internet was fixed, so I rejoined the online world, and I wrote some things. About 1 o’clock I went to bed and actually slept for five hours, which is something I rarely do since starting the dayjob and discovered that being employed is actually far more stressful and soul-destroying than being unemployed (who knew?).

So yesterday was a pretty good day, against all expectations, and tonight I make chili in the hopes that it’ll redeem today in much the same way.

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The Aurealis Awards short-lists came out yesterday, which includes all sorts of awesome news such as: Jason Fischer making the final list of the Best Horror Novel for Gravesend (and really, it’s about time the Fisch made an Aurealis Shortlist); four nominations for the inimitable Angela Slatter (both her collections were shortlisted, as was the story Sister, Sister and her collaboration with LL Hannett, The February Dragon ); Trent Jamieson making the shortlist with Death Most Definite; Dirk Flinthart making the list  YA Short Story; all sorts of love for Twelfth Planet Press up and down the shortlist.

I’m inevitably forgetting to congratulate *someone* in the list above, for which I apologise and offer a blanket congratulations go out to everyone. Full details of the list can be found over at the Aurealis Awards website.

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I read Ian McEwen’s Solar over the weekend, which quickly became one of those books that I’m ish-ish about. It was my first McEwen book and I found myself intrigued by the idea of the book after it was featured on First Tuesday Book Club last year, and while it’s got some beautiful writing and characterization it left me feeling utterly unsatisfied at the end.

Basically it’s one of those comic tragedies where you follow the life of an utterly appalling human being who’s rarely punished for their follies until the end, only when it comes the tragedy is so utterly weak that I found myself shrugging and thinking “really? That’s it?”

I mean, I would have been more satisfied if he’d gotten away with everything, which isn’t really really the kind of thing tragedy should strive for. Still, it’s an interesting read, and the narrative POV  is so hands-off and telling-oriented that I’m fascinated by the fact that it seems to work.

It just doesn’t inspire me to read more McEwen, which seems a shame.

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I keep forgetting to mention this and it should probably be something that gets a blog post of its own, but the latest installment of Flotsam is out over at the Edge of Propinquity website.

The Great Bookshelf Reorganising of 2011

Reorganised Bookshelf

On Saturday night, around 4 am, I started reorganising bookshelves. It seemed like the thing to do, since I’d been studiously not-sleeping for five hours after going to bed.

Bookcases are one of the places where mess accumulates in my flat, largely because there’s so many of the damn things and I’ve developed a bad habit of taking things down, reading a couple of paragraphs, then putting them back somewhere else. What starts as a workable system quickly devolves over time, and every couple of years I have to start from scratch and reorganize the entire system.

The whole process tends to start around 4 AM, ’cause insomnia is my response to doing to much and thinking too much and generally feeling like things are out of control. Reordering shelves is my way of figuring out what is and isn’t important in my life, and everything goes on from there. It’s a mental reset, fighting back against my natural tendency towards entropy.

So far I’ve got two shelves down. There are many, many more to go.

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I mention this primarily because my friend Alan, and possibly my dad, were interested in knowing when the issue of Weird Tales with my story in it was available. And it now seems as though Weird Tales #357 is out in the world, and when all your friends are Lovecraft geeks this is about as cool as it gets.

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This has been doing the rounds of twitter and facebook recently, but for those behind the curve: a guy tries to sell “a story to topple Star Wars and Harry Potter” on ebay with a starting bid of $3,000,000.

There’s also a pretty good take-down of his sales pitch over at Bleeding Cool, but essentially what’s going on  is a new iteration of an old conversation that goes something along the lines of “oh, wow, you’re a writer? I’ve got a great idea, let me sell it to you and we can split the money it earns once you’ve written it.”

For those of you out there with a great idea: please don’t do this. It irritates writers and perpetuates the myth that ideas are somehow all it takes, rather than work and persistence and the occasional stroke of luck

Most writers will reply with something along the lines of “ah-huh, great, but I’m a little busy right now,” after which the writer walks away and mock you with their writer-friends, who understand that ideas are the cheap part of the equation and worth very little until someone builds a book/movie around them.

When you try to sell your idea on ebay for large sums of money, it just means you’ll be mocked in public. The internets are like that, sometimes. So are writers, really. I suspect we’re subconsciously bitter about the fact that our career is so frequently undervalued, both socially and monetarily, that the three million asking price is like a red cape to a bull.

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I tweeted this a little earlier this morning, largely ’cause I suspect there’s more gamers following my twitter/facebook feeds than there are following this blog, but just in case I’m wrong: RPGnow is raising funds for the NZ Earthquake victims. Folks who donate $20 get a bundle of over $320 RPG/gaming  ebooks donated by gaming publishers.

This is, as they say, a good cause worth supporting and the RPG ebook community has been very successful with such things in the past (and a tip of the hat to Melinda, who comments here occasionally, for giving me the heads up).

Saturday Morning

Desk View: Coffee, Printer, Keyboard, and Mithrangorfaniel

It’s Saturday morning and I’m drinking instant coffee. Maccona Classic Dark Roast with milk and one sugar, for those who might be interested, although I have no earthly idea why you would be. In an hour or so I’m going to ignore the rest of the internet and start talking to the scattered members of my online crit group, who conveniently double as a group of good and articulate friends, so there’s still good reason to skype on the dates when we’re meant to be critting and no-one actually submitted things.

This, I suspect, is as close to being one of the hidden secrets of writing as I can think of – find people you enjoy talking too who happen to be writers, then talk to them as often as you can. Ideas will form, ambitions will solidify, and the day-to-day despair of being underpaid and frustrated by the blank page will gradually fall by the wayside. I remember this far less often than I should.

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The Friday issue of Daily Science Fiction containing my story appeared in my inbox overnight, delayed until Saturday morning by the magic of time zones. The online version isn’t up yet, but I’ll post a link when it is (I think the delay is about a week, but I subscribed to get the stories via email, so I’m not entirely sure).

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I’ve been up since five AM for reasons unfathomable to me, and spent most of that time re-reading parts of books I adore, because five AM on a Saturday is a good time to re-read and adore things all over again. The world wants you to sleep in on weekends, so the five AM start is like stealing time that doesn’t belong to you, and re-reading parts of books is the kind of sacrilegious activity that divorces language from the context of narrative and gives you the opportunity to appreciate things anew. Language as an art gallery, where you’re encouraged to examine the individual pieces of the whole.

It reminds you of things that have dropped from view.

I’d forgotten, for example, much of the raw power in Fitzgerald’s introduction of Tom Buchanan. I remember the tag-line – the final image of the body capable of great leverage – because it’s one of the great character descriptions that appear in modern literature. It’s the thing that sticks in my memory because that’s what it’s meant to do, but the set-up that makes that one line it’s impact? Forgotten. Lost. Until I sit down and re-read, and am reminded of how carefully that line is built up.

He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and give him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body – he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see the great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage – a cruel body. (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Too many people hate the Great Gatsby because it’s one of the books they were forced to read at school, because they were told to ask more of their fiction. I don’t begrudge them that, asking more of your fiction is a choice every reader should make on their own and there’s nothing wrong with saying ‘entertain me’ if it’s that’s the choice they’re making.

But Fitzgerald’s book deserves so much better. It deserves to be read by people who will love it.

Preferably in parts, on Saturday mornings, long after they’ve read the whole

Blatant Self Promotion: February

Okay, since February is deveoted to the Gauntlet, I’m just going to cram a whole months worth of blatant self promotion into the one post. Strap yourselves in, ’cause it looks like February is a busy one:

– Descended from Darkness volume II is out, collecting another twelve months of short fiction originally published in Apex Magazine (including my story To Dream of Stars: An Astronomer’s Lament). For a limited time you can pick this up with the first Descended from Darkness collection (which included my story Clockwork, Patchwork, and Ravens) for only $25US.

– My story Briar Day is live over at the Moonlight Tuber site, as part of the line-up of the “Moonlight Tuber #2 – Captain Homonculous Dines with ‘That Irascible Mizzen Mast’ – Part Three” issue of the zine that’s available for online reading or as a downloadable PDF. I think this officially marks editor Ben Payne as the man whose acquired more of my short fiction than any other editor.

– The teaser page for Electric Velocipede 21/22 is live, complete with the opening teaser for my story Memories of Chalice in addition to the works of such fine writers as LL Hannett.  The issue is just $12 US and features a small horde of writers I’m excited to be sharing a table of contents with.

– There are also reports that we’re about a week away from one of my short stories making an appearance in Daily Science Fiction, a magazine that delivers short stories to your inbox every workday. This stuff keeps me sane at the day-job, giving me something to read over my mid-morning coffee, and it’s FREE TO SUBSCRIBE. There should be a web-version of the story eventaully, should you prefer to keep your inbox free of fiction, but that usually comes after the email version is out. If you’re on the fence, I recommend taking a look at the February line-up which includes folks such as Cat Rambo and Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

– The February issue of Locus is out with its recommended reading list for 2011, which named a whole host of Australian SF work including TPP’s Sprawl anthology in the best original anthologies section and stories by me, Angela Slatter (twice!), and Cat Sparks in the short-stories list.

– Bleed scored itself an 8 out of 10 stars in a review over on Scary Minds. To quote: Bleed rocks along at a fair pace, Ball doesn’t allow the narrative to lag at any stage, and you will be dragged into the shenanigans unfolding. There’s a mystery to be solved, plenty of plot twists, and the sort of conclusion that no doubt bodes well for another book in the series. Be careful here Ball’s series is habit forming and I’m already looking at getting my grubby mits on Horn sooner rather than later. And let’s keep our minds out of the gutter here okay!

Which, lets face it, is more or less what I was aiming for. The full text is available over on the Scary Minds review site, and I recommend checking out their review of Eeek! (which features work by my comrade in gauntleting, Jason Fischer) as well. Bonus sidenote: The Bleed review does mention some confusion with finding the book over at the Twelfth Planet site, which is mostly because they’re an older link (Twelthplanet.wordpress.com) that connects to an earlier edition of the site. Twelfthplanetpress.com should make your life easier, should you be, you know, inclined to go order yourself a copy.

– Back in December I did an interview with Dan Abnett for the Auscon podcast. Actually, I did two interviews, largely because the first one didn’t record properly and Dan Abnett was nice enough to come back and re-record things. Not really February pimpery, I know, but since it happened during the blog haitus of December it’d largely forgotten to mention it before now.

Electric Velocipede

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a new issue of Electric Velocipede on the horizon and I have a story in it. Apparently Electric Velocipede were handing out promotional postcards at World Fantasy that challenged people to match six opening lines with the authors who wrote them. You’re invited to follow the link and find out why this causes me some form of squee. There may well be some kind of contest associated with it,  although there’s no closing date mentioned in the post and I’m a little behind the times, so it’s entirely possible said contest no longer applies. Or can’t be entered online. I can’t really say for sure from perusal of the post, but I’m all for embracing the mystery.

After seeing the full table of contents I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the double-issue, largely ’cause I share a ToC with the esteemed L.L. Hannett and I’m always pleased to be in the same magazine/book/etc with friends.

The Mike & Carly Story in Shimmer 12

So I’m spending some time away from the internet this week, trying to get some life stuff sorted out, but I figured I’d drop by to mention the following:

Issue 12 of Shimmer magazine is out

This is always a source of joy, largely ’cause Shimmer is one of the magazine I consistently subscribe too regardless of financial circumstances. And to quote from their webpage: Issue 12 contains wonders and marvels, from Peter M. Ball‘s punk-not-emo teenage werewolf story, to Josh Storey‘s gorgeous take on the tale of Orpheus, to Monica Byrne‘s story of stigmata in a colony on a distant planet. We’ve got an imaginative reinterpretations of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wizard of Oz, and a sweet little zombie love story. And more! We packed 9 stories into this issue.

What they don’t actually mention in that excerpt is that Issue 12 also contains the inimitable Ben Francisco’s Crepuscular, which takes the concept of a firefly and a magical snowman and goes off in a totally unexpected and heartbreaking direction and may well be one of my favourite stories Ben’s written over the last couple of year.

Pick it up for $6 an issue in hardcopy and $4 an issue in PDF

Or, if you’re still wondering if Shimmer is your thing, hie yourself over here and check out the free bonus story for this issue.

Just Sayin’

Should you find yourself in the market for a signed copy of Bleed and not be in a position to corner me in my natural habitat, it’s worth noting that Pulp Fiction Bookshop in Brisbane’s Anzac Square Arcade got me to sign a bunch of the stock when I was in there earlier today (which also included a few copies of Horn, should you be looking for one).

This isn’t a regular occurrence for me (in fact, it’d be the very first time I’ve done it), so I have no idea how long they’ll have said signed copies in stock and such. But they have them. On sale, like. For you to buy. And I get to add one more reason to the long list of reasons I fricken’ heart the Pulp Fiction staff.

Of course, should you not be in Brisbane, then this probably doesn’t help much. Sorry about that. Although I should probably mention that there are still unsigned copies of Bleed available from the Twelfth Planet Press store which remain perfectly readable despite the absence of my handwritten and nigh illegible scrawl.

Hi

Between the Worldcon aftermath and the recent story going up at Apex Magazine, it seems like there’s been a spike in the number of folks walking past this here blog to have a gander (which would be Australian for “have a look” not “have a male goose”). It’s left me all a-fluster, for if I’d known company was coming I would have put on a better shirt before posting today. And possibly some pants. And I would have made sure I was posting from my computer at home, which is shiny and easy to use, rather than the clunky Mac at my parents place.

Nevertheless, make yourselves comfortable and allow me to offer you a hot beverage of your choice.

Okay, so I guess I should make introductions. First up, this blog is maintained by this pair:

The chap at the foreground is Fudge, better known around these parts as the Spokesbear of Doom, who is the taskmaster that keeps me working and sending new fiction out into the world. The chap in the back is me, Peter M. Ball, who does most of the typing  by virtue of being the one with opposable thumbs. For various reasons I have much less hair than I did when this photograph was taken, but I still forget to shave roughly as often. For reasons of my dignity, I should not be trusted with a paper bag. This probably explains all that really needs to be explained about the non-writerly parts of my life. The bulk of my writing can be accessed via the bibliography tag, but I should probably mention that I have two books out. Notably, this one:


and this one:


Both are available through Twelfth Planet Press, who are lovely and appreciative folks who would gladly exchange your hard-earned dollars for novellas packed full of hardboiled detectives and evil faeries.

Should the constant checking of webpages and/or the use of RSS feeds not be your thing, I can be found on all the usual social networking sites (twitter, facebook, etc) under the cunning disguise of PeterMBall. The blog is also syndicated over on livejournal. Feel free to drop past the venue of your choice and say hi, for I enjoy chatting to people and the realities of writing means I rarely get the opportunity to do so.

And that’s me. Welcome. Pull up a couch. And should you be inclined to hang around for a bit, feel free to introduce yourself in the comments.

2 Days ‘Til Worldcon

And by this time tomorrow I’ll be happily ensconced in our Melbourne digs, surrounded by a bunch of my writerly peeps. This promises to be awesome – hail to the peeps.

My publisher’s twitter stream also informs me that they’ll be bringing the last of their Horn stocks to Worldcon. I have no idea how many books this may be, but should they run out of stock at the con it means the second print run has completely sold through. This is pretty good news, unless you happen to be at worldcon, in which case I may find myself clutching people by the lapels and asking “do *you* own a copy of Horn yet? Do ya? You should totally buy one!” in a slightly manic voice.

I shall try to retrain myself, really I shall, but I make no promises. I was barely able to contain myself when the goal was “convince lots of people to buy copies of Bleed, for it is new and shiny and avialble for the first time at Worldcon”. While I’m usually pretty good at restraining my default level of writerly craziness in public, something may well come loose in my head when I finally see both books sitting next to each other in the dealer’s room.

See you in Melbourne, should you be coming along.

14 Days ‘Til Worldcon

There are fourteen days between me and Worldcon, which means there’s fourteen days before people can get their hands on Bleed. Much as I’m all unsubtle about my desire for you all to give in to your base, capitalist urges and consume for the good of the economy (and, lets be frank, my rent-paying ability) there is still a tiny part of me that isn’t quite ready for people to see Bleed yet. And yet I stay calm. Almost zen-like. Mostly I’m doing this by pretending its not going to happen, so if you see me at worldcon and I’m all surprised that there’s a book out with my name on it, you’ll know why.

And now I must go clean the house prior to write-club, and wait for a phonecall from my sister so I can explain the latest not-a-calamity.