XXX - Changed blog: the new blog can be found here: New Blog
Good news on the submission front. My lovecraftian short story "Black Sand" has been accepted for publication by Innsmouth Free Press. Looking forward to seeing it in the magazine.
One more topic: Odyssey is doing online courses again in 2011 and even three of them. I'm glad to hear that Odyssey's first online course that I had the privilege to be a part of in Jan/Feb. 2010 was a success and that there will be more in the future.
I am always fascinated with the turn around times = answering times of magazines. There is everything from within one day to one year. One day is in my eyes as suspicious as one year. One day evokes the question, has my submission really been read? One year...well, what shall I say. If an author had to wait for every submission for one year, a normal life-span wouldn't be enough time to get anything published.
Back from the 4th Annual Japan Writers Conference. Very good event with lots of interesting speakers and panels. Amazing and encouraging how many foreigners living in Japan write and are published worldwide.
New short story is out. Though it's not the rewrite that I had wanted to see in print... stuff like that happens it seems. "The Park" - published at Three Crow Press.
26. September 2010
Went to see Metallica live yesterday in Saitama Super Arena. Cool band, good performance, crazy audience (very rough and bouncing you around), but actually I liked one of the support bands better! Hell, "Fear Factory" rocks! Gonna buy a CD at next chance.
19. September 2010
Very good round of critiques and stories at the Tokyo Writers Workshop today. It's good to meet like-minded authors!
12. September 2010
An Ode to time:
time - time - oh time - I have so few of thee... argh!
04. September 2010
Riding Japan's trains when it's 35 degrees outside is kinda nasty... Last Thursday I managed to get a seat on the way to work (which is a rare thing) but got wedged in by two astonishingly big and overweight sweating salarymen... must I say more? It's so disgusting to have the sweat of a stranger on you!
29. August 2010
Another weekend spent with submitting and submitting and submitting. That's the best one can do in this awful heat. Every day 35 degrees and at night it doesn't cool down. Even the animals go crazy, I saw a Japanese raccoon dog or Tanuki leisurely walking down the street where I live on Friday night. Where did that guy come from? There's nothing but houses in my neighborhood and the next big park is 15 minutes by bicycle. Hope no car hit him and that he made it back into the woods.
21. August 2010
Back from Europe I do not enjoy the heat that still prevails in Japan... Well, another month or so we'll have to sweat. Good old Europe was great and I highly enjoyed it. By now both worlds, Asia and Europe, are essential parts of me and I am completely at home in either environment, which is a very good feeling I must say. If it wasn't for the damned jetlag...
31. July 2010
Good movies are rare these days but finally I did see a good one: Inception. Great multi-layered plot, good acting, intriguing visuals. Paris folding in on itself impressed me most of all. Great job Mr. Nolan. I wish there were more movies like that.
Jeez... it's hot in Japan. When we had a hard winter and we did have one with four times snow in Tokyo, then we usually have a hard summer and so far that is true. We are melting here with over 35 Celsius per day and horrendous humidity. Move but a little finger and the sweat rolls... Saw some interesting statistics on TV about "hot nights" (a hot night is an innocent night over 25 Celsius). In the 1940ies there were 5, now there are 30....
17. July 2010
Submitting is hard... well, I guess every author knows that. Spent the entire day again submitting short stories and one novella. And tomorrow is Tokyo Writers Workshop = a weekend filled not with writing, but marketing and critiquing. It's necessary, yes, but I'd like to have more time for actual writing!
10. July 2010
Kudos to Paul - the world's most famous octopus. He's been making the news even in Japan. I, of course, support the idea that he is in fact an alien in disguise. On his home planet Tentaculus they play soccer too, if with four balls and eight goals. Therefore, the exercise of predicting one ball going into which of two goals is a game for toddlers. Live long and prosper, Paul!
03. July 2010
Saw "The Book of Eli" the other day. It's been a while since I saw a post-apocalyptic SF movie. Despite brilliant performances from Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman the movie had that "seen it all before" feel to it. It seems difficult to add a new twist to a post-apo story. Interesting challenge to look for one!
And: ah... tonight it's Germany vs. Argentina in the world cup. Go Germany! Go!
Nothing against Uruguay, but I would've loved to see an African team advance to the semi finals!
And Brazil... it'll be their turn next time, when the world cup will be in Brazil in 2014.
I foresee a Netherlands vs. Germany final!!! (laugh)
26. June 2010
So interesting who made it into the round of the final 16 at the soccer world cup. Germany (luckily), The US (I think for the first time ever, right?) and Japan!!! I hadn't thought that the Japanese would make it, but they did. Very good match against Denmark. And the winner and the finalist of the previous world cup are on their ways home! That's soccer for you, you never know what's going to happen. Looking forward to a thrilling knock out round!
19. June 2010
Due to time zone issues, the soccer world cup happens only late at night in Japan. Yesterday was the only Germany game during "watchable" time and I went to a British pub with a few friends to watch Germany play against Serbia. Nowadays Tokyo is a melting pot, too. Many Japanese, of course, but a very international audience in the pub (Australian, British, Korean, German, Serbian and many more) and a great atmosphere. The audience cheered for everyone and everything that was happening. The match was chaotic, too many yellow and red cards, but it was great fun watching it in Ebsiu! And right now it's still 0:0 in the Japan vs. Holland match...
Once every four years, my DNA reminds me that I'm German: world cup fever hits. Great atmosphere and good soccer yesterday at the opening game. Hope that continues!
05. June 2010
Just finished reading: "How to write a damn good novel" by James N. Frey. A good book that covers all aspects of novel writing. The one thing I learned from it is the "premise". Check whether your novel or short story has a premise that you prove throughout your story like: "greed leads to destruction", or "the winner takes it all", or whatever the premise might be. Chances are that if you don't have a premise your story needs strengthening. Good advice, thanks Mr. Frey.
30. May 2010
Kilos and the author... sitting behind your desk and eating chocolate whilst writing all the time has one great disadvantage - lack of movement and too many calories = not good for the physical shape. Some kilos must go... I wish myself luck with accomplishing that. Got the feeling it's easier to write a complete novel!
Went to Fuji Safari Park yesterday. Very nice area, close to Mt. Fuji (as the name suggests). The highlights of the tour are surely the caged bus you can ride with and feed brown bears (with apples and carrots), lions (with chicken and beef) and camels (with what looked like dried cow food). One can also do a walking safari and meet the lions again and feed them once more. It's more engaging than in a zoo, since the lions want something from you and come up close to the fence and you have only 50 cm between you and them. The lions close up were clearly the best experience of the tour, beautiful animals.
16.May 2010 - The synopsis horror
As almost every writer that I know, I hate writing a synopsis. I've sat there, wrote a 110,000 words novel and then I have to squeeze what it's about into 2000 words or so? Ha! And unfortunately so much depends on that synopsis... In the whole marketing process of a novel I find the synopsis the most painful and awful one... Just had a synopsis for one of the novels I want to go shopping critiqued today and, as expected, the thing was horrible. Well then, let's write the next version.
I just rediscovered a good old TV show - "Married With Children". I just love the black humor in that series. I remembered "Married With Children" after seeing Katey Sagal in "Sons of Anarchy" (a very cool series by the way, too). Peggy Bundy aka Katey is hilarious. Go back and watch the show again, it's great fun.
Just finished reading "Self-editing for Fiction Writers", very good book and useful tips from the big picture to the little things. Those little things are so important. It's amazing how many "he whispered, she mumbled, he suggested, she insisted, he thought, she wondered" you find when you look for them! And, oh yes, those guys"!", too.
Nothing flies to Europe from Japan anymore because of volcanic ash and last night we had a bit of snow in Tokyo. The first time in 41 years that it snows here in mid April NHK says.
The Iceland volcano makes me wonder about Mt. Fuji. It last erupted in 1703 and drowned Edo (now Tokyo) in ashes. 300 years is a blink with an eye in a volcano's life and Mt. Fuji is still active. If the arguably most beautiful mountain in the world ever erupted again the chaos in Tokyo would be beyond imagination. Let's hope the mountain will sleep for a few hundred years more.
Just returned from the first Hal-Con in Omiya, Japan. Guests of honor were British SF author Charles Stross and Japanese manga-ka Masaru Ohishi. Hal-Con had about 100 participants and it was the first first small convention that I attended. Great atmosphere and the GoHs are much more accessible than during, for example, Worldcon. A well spent weekend and thanks a lot to the Hal-Con organizers for their great work.
Japan has incorporated Christmas and Halloween, but Easter-bunnies and eggs just don't seem to tickle Japanese fantasy. One reason is surely that Easter often collides with cherry blossom season, which is at its peak this weekend. Nevertheless I find it odd that the chocolate industry in Japan doesn't take the Easter bait. I just made a test of my Easter knowledge at the ARD (German TV) homepage - did you know that kids looking for eggs was first mentioned in 1691? I bet you didn't, but now you do. Happy Easter.
They are pretty, yes. However in the greater Tokyo area "hanami" = flower watching, means rather people watching, since Tokyo has way more people than blossoms. During hanami season every cherry tree is beleaguered by throngs of people who feast and get drunk underneath them. My most impressive hanami experience was seeing the five meter high mountains (I'm not exaggerating) of garbage in plastic bags at the park's exit and the end of a beautiful hanami watching day in Tokyo's famed Shinjuku park. But, when one disregards the trash, for two weeks those trees are pretty...
It's extremely windy today and one piece of my laundry (a jacket) got blown off the balcony. I found it later a few houses down the road and the person who had found it had put it onto a garden wall weighed down by a brick inside a vinyl bag, so that the brick wouldn't smudge or damage the jacket. Now that's Japan for you. Where else would your neighbor protect the jacket from the brick with a vinyl bag? Thanks a lot to the friendly neighbor!
I didn't follow the Oscars at all and only saw a few photos on the web, but I'm glad that Christoph Waltz won for his incredible performance in Inglorious Basterds. I mentioned in a previous blog entry that his performance totally stunned me and he really deserved that Academy Award. I'm also happy that the first woman ever won a director's Oscar. Funny thing is though that the two movies of Kathryn Biglow that I love are over twenty years old: Near Dark and Point Break. No idea what she did in the twenty years meantime... gotta google that on imdb.
Ups and downs in the world of publishing are common and part of the ordeal. What's especially frustrating though is, when some magazine accepts your story and you are happy and enthusiastic, only to have that magazine die on you before they fulfill their promise to get your story out there. Had that happening to me three times already = no guarantee to see your story online somewhere once it's accepted... Another obstacle the aspiring author has to live with. And here is the best source that I know for dying and emerging magazines:
Ralan's Webstravaganza Thanks, Ralan for keeping us up to date!
I'm a bit unsettled by the cult status that surrounds some Olympic contestants. Fandom is nice and good, but as everything done in excess it can develop unhealthy tendencies. I find it frightening to read that figure skating winner Kim Yu Na needs ten bodyguards to protect her from too enthusiastic fans... despite the 8 million $ she apparently earned last year (read that somewhere too) - poor girl.
And one thing that annoys me big time when watching Japanese TV coverage of the Olympics are super close-ups on anybody who's crying. Red, blotchy eyes filling the entire TV screen. My respect for every contestant whose fist doesn't land in the lens...
The web is overflowing with tips on how to "write better". There are hundred thousands of books you can buy that are supposed to teach you how to become a better writer. There is a whole armada of workshops out there that feature fabulous and not so fabulous teachers. Some of them don't give a damn about whether your writing will improve or not and they just want your money. Some rare jewels out there though have an interest in truly teaching you how to write better, mostly because they don't want to read so much crap anymore... Odyssey is one of those jewels and you can find some excellent writing tips here:Odyssey Writing Tips
I have just reemerged from the depths of the fabulous Odyssey Online workshop: Showing vs. Telling in Fantastic Fiction. The workshop was fantastic. I think I learned more about writing during the six weeks of classes than ever before. I have a daunting task ahead of me now though: revising everything in the light of what I have learned! Let's get to work...
The day has only 24 hours and that is much too short! I have three jobs: "dayjob", writing and marketing my writing. And oh yes, there is "life" too... sometimes I find it rather difficult to integrate those four pillars of existence into 24 hours. Time management is the key, but sometimes I wish there were a day with "no plans". But then again, that wouldn't be me, would it? Nah!
"A Fly in Amber" magazine has published my so far first and only zombie short story. Beware though, Tristan is not your usual zombie, he's rather undead...
You can read the story for free here: My Friend, the Zombie
My humorous fantasy short story "Seeing Stone" has been published by Big Pulp in their Fantasy - Lore line. You can read the story for free here:
A quick thought on critiquing: If you are an aspiring author - do it! Critiquing other people's work and getting your own work critiqued is incredibly rewarding. Thinking about why this and that in another person's piece of fiction didn't work for you, structuring those thoughts and writing them down, lets you see the weaknesses and shortcomings in your own work as well. Learning from "how not to do it" is much more valuable than reading glorious examples of "perfect" fiction. If you don't have a critique partner/group yet, find yourself one. I cannot stress enough how much this will contribute to "kaizen" = continuous improvement of your own writing.
Happy New Year everyone!
Holidays are coming to an end and the prospect of office does not enthuse me...
I have only one 2010 new year resolution: Sell one of my novels this year! Went to the shrine I usually go to for New Year in Tokyo's Shinjuku district and prayed accordingly (laugh). Hope it will work.
Yoroshiku - as the Japanese say - please!
Merry X-mas everyone.
A friend gave me a Kinder Surprise Advent Calendar this year and I've been eating myself through the eggs for much of December. (I guess most people know what Kinder Surprise is: they're hollow chocolate eggs filled with another egg that contains a tiny toy). I don't know how long this stuff is around already but some twenty years for sure and I cannot get rid of the feeling that the eggs were more fun when I was a kid. Twenty years ago you had to assemble what was inside the plastic egg. But most of the toys I unraveled from those 24 eggs this year were assembled in two or three parts and not much of a challenge. Does that mean kids nowadays don't want to assemble anymore??? If it's not simple, pre-made, finished within a second, kids aren't interested anymore? It may be far fetched, but this is the beginning of future lack of creativity and innovation. We have to give kids challenges, not ready to use toys!
X-mas is big business - also in Japan. The Japanese love to celebrate (there is a Matsuri = festival) every day of the year somewhere in Japan), so they have also incorporated western celebrations like Valentine's Day, Christmas, and the most recent adaptation is Halloween. During X-mas time Tokyo is swamped with (mostly artificial) X-mas trees, illumination projects and other kinds of X-mas decoration. Strawberries are grown so that they are ripe for X-mas season to decorate the millions of Christmas cakes... and among all that sway drunken salary men who are heading home on the last trains from their year-end-parties (bounenkai) - a genuine Japanese tradition. Kanpai! (Cheers!)
Japan is not a good place for people who are claustrophobic (5-7% of the world's population are believed to suffer from the disorder Wikipedia says). Yesterday I had two claustrophobic situations: a) a completely overcrowded train and b) a tiny Korean restaurant. If you wanted to use the bathroom in that restaurant you had to squeeze yourself out of your chair, down a hallway just as broad as your shoulders with open racks to your right piled with stuff that would immediately bury you underneath them in case of an earthquake. The bathroom itself was so small you could barely sit down......... I don't understand why the authorities allow a place like that to operate. The crowded trains - well, actually I have just written a horror short story about them! Anyway, many facilities and buildings in Japan tend to be tiny and confined due to lack of space - no wonder people get claustrophobia...
I went to the movies this week and saw the new Quentin Tarantino - "Inglorious Basterds".
I had mentally prepared myself for scenes of gruesome violence, but except for some scalping and beating and shooting (irony intended) it was relatively harmless - at least for a Tarantino movie. I really liked the film, not because of the story or because of Brad Pitt, but because of an Austrian actor I had never heard of before. His name is Christoph Waltz and his performance as Col. Hans Landa was glorious, really. It's been a long time since I was wowed like that. What a villain! What a smile! So much scarier than the usual Hollywood bad guy. You left me impressed, Herr Waltz!
"The Chasm" published
My horror short story "The Chasm" has just been published by Afterburn SF. I don't know about other authors, but it quite often happens to me that I sell what I think are not so hot stories and nobody buys the stories that I personally think are really good. With Afterburn it's different, they bought a story that I'm proud of! Please read "The Chasm" at Afterburn SF
An author's live consists mostly of waiting: Waiting for news on submissions, waiting to get paid, waiting till friends read through first drafts, waiting for magazines etc. to start their submission periods, and, oh yes, waiting for news on submissions...
But, there is nothing like the feeling to put the words "The End" under a new novel. Done that this week, first draft of a new novel is finished. Cheers!
With lots of help from a friend my "Regina is reading from her Dark Matters SF novella video" is now finally on YouTube. Go check it out:
During wintertime in Japan people drive through town in tiny trucks and sell oven-baked hot sweet potatoes called "yaki imo" (which simply means fried or baked potato). Those trucks have a traditional "music". From a tape sounds an endlessly repeated and sung "yaki imo". Don't get me wrong, I really like this song/announcement, it's the sound of winter in Japan and a bit of tradition. It's like sitting cozily in front of the fireplace, watching the fire while listening to the cold wind outside. But, the sung "yaki imo" does sound a bit like howling. So just this afternoon when the "yaki imo" truck passed through the street where I live the dog opposite, at that moment outside in the tiny garden of the house, decided he liked the "yaki imo" song too and howled like a wolf in unison with it. Hilarious!
Japan is full of Halloween decoration these days, and Halloween parades are happening here and there, but the Japanese children have not yet adopted the trick or treat habit. Compared to ten years ago, when there was not even a single pumpkin image anywhere, Halloween adaptation has made quite some progress..
I snapped a few photos of autumn in Japan today, Mikan (tangerines) and Kiwis (they don't only grow in New Zealand) and another feature of Japanese autumn, giant spiders and plenty of them! As long as the spiders aren't in my room I find them to be fascinating and eerily beautiful creatures...
Oddities of Japanese Television
I am again and again fascinated by the oddities of Japanese television.
One of the strangest features is the mass appearance of "moderators". Japanese news broadcasts as well as talk shows/variety shows have about 4 or 5 "anchors", not only two (except for NHK). In addition to that, in many variety shows, like for example "King's Brunch" on Saturday mornings some fifteen (more or less) pretty girls are sitting behind the regular crew of five and nod vigorously, smile broadly, laugh (giggle) loudly to confirm what the regulars say and do. To my eyes it looks so silly and ridiculous to have these "repeater and confirmer" girls sitting in the background...
Had a busy week:
Got soaked in typhoon No. 18. Saw a weird Japanese comedy called "South Pole Chef" (Nankyoku Ryourijin) about a guy who has to cook for the people in a Japanese South Pole research station. Weird! But interesting.
Found a picture of me in Locus from Montreal's Anticipation Worldcon. Nice! Only that they spelled my name wrong (laugh).
Polished at an SF novel that I will very soon send into the submission circus. Continued writing on my new urban fantasy novel...
My SF, near future mining on the moon short story "Lunatic" has been published by "Strange, Weird and Wonderful" magazine, issue Fall 2009. Hope you'll enjoy. You can download the magazine as a PDF for free from: http://www.strangeweirdandwonderful.com/
Watched Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski again last night after not having seen it in many years. The movie made me wonder about today's movies. Rosemary's Baby is over 40 years old! It's from 1968. I love it, and I'm wondering what has become of movies nowadays - special effects, rapid cuts and dull plots. I wish Hollywood's movie makers would go back to the basics. If you have a good story you don't need special effects and music video clip editing!
I just started making an author page at Amazon. Exciting! It'll be up in a week or so. At least that's what the system says.
Ever heard of ASIM? That's the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magzine. Australia's biggest SpecFic magazine. They have a four step submission process. Step one slush reader, step two - you managed to get past the slush reader and three/four people read your story. Step three they put your story "on hold" = they are considering it for publication and 1 out of 3 makes it into print. I finally, after 11 submissions (2 got into round two) managed to get into round 3! Jeez! Now let's hope I'll be one of those 1 in 3 who make it into print! Message: Persistence is everything!
I'm back from Worldcon! It was a great trip and a great Con! Thanks to everyone who bought a copy of Dark Matters. The Writers Workshop was great too and I'm looking forward to the critique group that might get established now.
Am gearing up for Worldcon! Currently writing critiques for a Writers Workshop held at Worldcon. I am thrilled how the critiques of the novel excerpt I submitted will be!
Apparently my author's batch of Dark Matters hard copies has arrived in Japan! I am VERY thrilled how the print version will look like!
26. Jul. 2009
I'll be at the SF Worldcon in Canada (Montreal)!
I'm horrified of the long flight there, via New York... Ouch...
But I'm looking very much forward to Worldcon, since my Dark Matters novella will be available there in print form! I hope I get the promised chance for a reading... have been practicing a lot!
26. Jul. 2009
One of the best sources for SF writing advice is Robert Sawyer's webpage - google for him and read all his writing and marketing stuff!
One of the best sources for speculative fiction markets is Ralan! Google for Ralan's Webstravaganza.
15. Jul. 2009
I joined Facebook... and MySpace...