2003 News

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This copy of the blog doesn't have a comments facility, because it's manually written html. But there's another copy on Livejournal with user name julesjones and comments are welcome there:   http://www.livejournal.com/users/julesjones/. You can also email me at jules.jones@gmail.com

December 2003

23 December: Never, never, never install new software without first backing up your data. You may get away with it for years, but one day you will encounter software written by morons. As it happens, the hard drive is no longer bootable, but is readable as a slave, so I haven't lost a month's work after all. But much angst until this was confirmed, followed by general waste of time installing a new hard drive, plus a couple of other bits that looked like they might be useful. I still haven't had time to reinstall all the software. Now, I was considering a format C: and full reinstall, and the new hard drive is much bigger and quieter than the old one, but I'd really rather have done this as a planned operation when I had the time and mental energy to do it properly.

I'm usually better at taking regular backups, but what with one thing and another (mostly working long, weird shifts in the runup to Christmas) I'd let it slip. A couple of short stories hadn't even been emailed to Alex, which is my usual way of ensuring I've got some sort of backup on the fiction.

And I've been reminded that offsite backups, ideally on another continent, are a Good Idea. The San Simeon earthquake yesterday (6.5 Richter) was strong enough to be felt as far away as Silicon Valley. The San Andreas Fault is less than ten miles from where I currently sit. Even if I survive the Big One, my hard drive might not...

The computer problem meant that I had to use Other Half's laptop for my net access. Other Half does not want my nasty non-MS software on the laptop, so I had to use the webmail interface. I was reminded of why I hate reading my email through an HTML interface. (I have RSI. Webmail requires lots of mousework.) I couldn't face using an HTML interface for reading usenet, so I was cut off from a significant part of my social life. I'm used to being able to have long, involved, interesting (and occasionally very, very silly) conversations with people from all over the world. Some of whom I even know in meatspace, only they're currently in a different timezone to me, so the not-necessarily-realtime interaction of usenet is a great way to talk. It's become an integral part of my life over the last few years. Amazing how a technical wonder becomes something that's just there. Science fiction becomes real, and we don't even notice.

November 2003

30 November: A month has gone by, and I have done nothing on writing other than check the listings at Ralan and Erotica Readers. Starting a full-time job after three years of enforced idleness was something of a shock to the system, and I've been too tired to write. I'm not even getting any useful material out of the nightmares I've had nearly every night. I like the job, but apparently it's overloaded my capacity to process newly-learnt material. I've found myself reliving bits of the day during the night, in unpleasantly distorted form. I don't think the bad cold was helping matters - the nightmares have eased off a bit since I finally shook it off a few days ago.

M Christian has extended the deadline on the gay vampires anthology. This has tempted me into rejectology even before getting the rejection - is it because he's too busy to look at the slushpile anyway, or is it because he has looked at the slushpile and found it wanting? And if the latter, does this mean that mine is one of the "not good enough regardless" or one of the "well, if nothing better comes along"? Must write new story, or at least submission package for Journey Into Freedom so that I have something to send out instead of agitating about things already out.

17 November: Mary Anne is looking specifically for high fantasy, not sf, but said I should still submit Journey Into Freedom direct to Tor. Just one problem - between the new job and a bad cold, I still haven't had the mental energy to actually finish the detailed outline. It's a lot harder than writing the novel was. :-/

No further work to report on volume 3 of The Syndicate. I've had a new job and a bad cold, and Alex is severely distracted by a combination of new kittens and Computer From Hell. I'm working odd shifts, and the eight hour time difference between Silicon Valley and Ipswich, Arse-end Of Britain (Alex's description, what little I saw of it on a visit seemed pleasant enough to me) means that we currently don't have much chance to work together over Netmeeting. Annoying, since we're about 25 kwords into it.

More searchbots are tracking the site. There seem to be a few specialist blog search engines that have decided that this page counts as a blog. Some of them even come back more than once. They obviously have no taste. The page is mostly a record for me that I can access when I'm away from my own computer (laptop? I don't need no steenking laptop, have Zip drive will travel), and for literally half a dozen people who have some vague interest in the progress of my profic. It does not have political opinions, amusing rants, or charming monologues. It doesn't even have smut, you'll have to go to the fiction section for that.

9 November: Journey into Freedom synopsis sent out for another go.

And in other news, it will doubtless amuse one or two readers to hear that the HTML Hater has finally been tempted by the thought of a LiveJournal, courtesy of the current flap in a certain fandom. However, getting a LiveJournal merely to display an icon designed to get up the nose of someone seems a tad excessive, so I will resist the temptation a while longer.

6 November: We interrupt this writing diary to bring you the news that some people can still bounce around a stage even when they're pushing pension age. Went to the Simon and Garfunkel concert last night. It was Art Garfunkel's 62nd birthday. Paul Simon turned 62 in October. They can still sing, although the years have been kinder to Simon than Garfunkel. And I hope I have that amount of energy when I'm 62. They were joined by the Everly Brothers for a short set - and those two are singing so well I suspected them of miming to a recording.

Art Garfunkel's voice is noticeably weaker, and he's lost the top register, but it was still wonderful to hear him. Paul Simon hasn't lost anything, and they're stunning when they sing together. Sound of Silence can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and Slip Slidin' Away is spine-chilling as a duet. There are still tickets available at some concerts, it's well worth going.

3 November: Celebrated the work permit with a new job. A minimum wage job in retail. I have never done retail before, and it's taking me a while to get used to the many different transaction types. It doesn't help that I'm not used to the layout of US ID, cheques, etc. I'm too tired to write when I get home, and writing at lunchtime is not on, since we aren't allowed electronic doodads on the premises and I'm not writing smut at work on dead trees. You can't password protect dead trees. On the other hand, it gets me out of the house, and reminds me that the world contains more than the few dozen people I have a regular acquaintance with. This is good. But no NaNoWriMo for me.

The website logs continue to entertain me. This month it's the blip in traffic courtesy of a few links from Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza. I sent Ralan a couple of new markets and several minor corrections for the sf market listings, and got the usual site link in thanks for the tips. Complete with warning that my site contains erotica. Welcome to the new visitors, and I hope you weren't too disappointed when you found out what sort of erotica I mostly write.

The other item from the logs was realising that I had better either use a robots.txt to bar Google (and other well-mannered search engines) from the actual fiction pages, or put a content warning at the top of each fiction page, not just in the fiction index. I'm fairly sure that the person searching in google.uk for recycled hot water bottles wasn't expecting a homoerotic story containing frottage with a hot water bottle and a spanking scene. All within 500 words. The person searching for harem slaves probably was looking for porn, but possibly not the sort sie found. And as for the person who ended up on "A Trifling Affair" by searching for "collapsed Colin", all I can say is that the snippet that Google quotes makes it quite clear what you're getting into. And indeed what Colin's getting into, namely Darryl.

October 2003

16 October: The mailserver situation on my primary email account is getting ridiculous. We are not happy bunnies in the "complain about your ISP here" newsgroup, but there's not actually a lot the techies can do at the moment. If anyone has been trying to email me, be aware that I am currently receiving email with random delays of anything up to a week, and this affects any email address forwarded through that account. Addresses at this domain aren't affected.

Didn't make the final cut on the Blowing Kisses anthology. Didn't get the email sent yesterday lunchtime until lunchtime today, courtesy of the aforementioned mailserver meltdown. Otherwise it would have been one rejection per day for the first three days this week. I'm sure it's all good practice for cultivating the rhinocerous hide needed in this game. Back to trawling the market listings for markets that will take gay erotica over 4 kwords.

13 October: In the end the agent thought it was going to be too difficult for him to place; a combination of it being difficult to sell new sf, and it being difficult to sell something with that genre mix (i.e. it's got too much gay sex for the sf market, and too much sf for the mainstream market). But he liked the writing, which is good.

The resulting commiserations thread in rasfc has pointed me in the direction of a couple of potential markets, at least one of which has an open slushpile. So I'll be spending tomorrow doing another submissions package.

10 October: The agent thinks it's interesting enough to ask for a further fifty page sample, but also thinks it's going to be difficult to place. This is a lot better than impossible to place.   :-)   Pity I didn't actually get the email telling me this until a day and a half after it had been sent. My ISP would pick this week to misconfigure its mailserver.

In other news, received the latest and I presume last episode of Kaldor City. Unfortunately I have to take back what I said about not needing to have seen the Dr Who story that provided the background. My feeling is that it's necessary to be familiar with a completely different Dr Who story to follow what happens in Checkmate. Which one constitutes a Great Big Spoiler. In fact, even saying that much constitutes a Great Big Spoiler, but I think it's only fair to warn people that the series conclusion may well be a disappointment if you're not familiar with the Tom Baker era of Who. Review to follow when I've worked out how to review it without major spoilers all over the place.

5 October: rasfc meet this afternoon, of low attendance because short notice, but nice to do some of the wittering face to face.

Even nicer to get home and find an email from the agent I'd sent a synopsis to, asking for the usual three sample chapters. It may well come to nothing, but at least it means the synopsis is capable of attracting interest.

2 October: Had an email to say that the story I submitted to the Blowfish Anthology is being held for further consideration, which means that it's in the 100 or so that the editor hasn't yet rejected from the over 400 submissions she received. It'll be another week or two before I hear whether it's made the final selection.

The size of Mary Anne's slush pile has reminded me of why I metaphorically ran away screaming when someone suggested to me earlier this year that I try pitching an anthology to a publisher.   :-)

Finally finished a short story that I'd started two years ago. I started it in a notebook of the dead tree kind while on a plane from San Francisco to Newark Airport, New York, for a con. I did not do anything with it on the way back. The flight on the way back had been delayed, because that morning a plane had fallen on Queen's, New York, and all the New York airports had been closed for several hours. Somehow I didn't really feel like writing sex scenes. I found the story while going through my notebooks last month, and decided to do something with it.

1 October: Deadline day on three anthologies. In the end I only submitted to one of them--simply couldn't come up with something suitable for the other two. On the other hand, for the one I did submit to, I came up with one new story and hauled out and polished a scene from something that's been lying around on my hard drive for... er... five years. It's a long piece of fanfic, or will be if I ever get back to it. But the opening scene makes a nice little standalone scene. Also wrote something for another anthology, deadline next month, after being inspired by the anthology's guidelines.

Of course, being inspired by guidelines doesn't always work out the way you expect. Read the Suspect Thoughts guidelines and found a call for submissions for Out of Control: Erotic Wild Rides and Men of Mystery: Erotic Tales of Intrigue and Suspense, both for up to 7000 words. That gave me an idea for something that might fit either anthology, and I sat down to write it. Four days later, I had a 10 000 word piece of gentle romance, with about 500 words of actual sex right at the end of the story. Not quite the sort of thing Suspect Thoughts goes in for. In fact, if it was het I could put in smut-eating asterisks and sell it to the Women's Weekly. Quite what I'm going to do with it I don't know.

September 2003

4 September: Reviews of the first four Kaldor City CDs added to Ramblings. This is a dark and witty sf series drawn from a setting first created for Dr Who, and using original characters from the Dr Who story Robots of Death and the Blake's 7 story Weapon. Politics and action in equal measure, but with a level of violence the BBC would never have got away with in the time slots the inspiring series were shown in. Well worth a listen.

Went to King's Canyon in the Sierras for the Labor Day weekend, partly because at 6500 feet it's well above both smog and light pollution, and thus a fantastic place to view Mars during the current "closest approach for 60 000 years". Stunning view of the stars and Mars. And a good way to avoid the temptation of the keyboard, highly useful because the RSI flared up last week.

August 2003

26 August: I sent an agent a query letter and synopsis for the novel Journey Into Freedom last week, so at least I've made a start on trying to sell it.

I failed to sell my short story Ghost Train to Weird Tales, but I think it was a "try harder next time" rejection rather than a "never darken our slushpile again" rejection. And it had a couple of useful comments on why they didn't want it (beyond the fact that the WT slushpile is currently threatening to take over the entire metropolis]. I'll probably only try it on another one or two markets before giving up on it. The story has a slight problem in that I wrote it in March 2001, but I wasn't able to send it out for a few months because I was in the middle of moving continent-- and any reader coming to it now will think that I wrote it in September of that year. I know specfic is supposed to manage prescience occasionally, but I'd really rather not have done it on this occasion.

Alex and I are still amusing ourselves with the next chunk of The Syndicate. Claire and Harry have taken Allard shopping for his bridal outfit, and of course are taking full advantage of the opportunity to embarrass him in public.

7 August: Mixed bag of writing over the last week; resume (does anyone in Silicon Valley want an optical microscopist?), first revision pass on Journey Into Freedom, and Alex and I have now done the first 16k words of volume 3 of The Syndicate. Allard was last seen wearing rather a lot of strategically placed jewellery and nothing else. This was because he was catering to Vaughan's fantasies about training harem slaves. They were supposed to be planning their wedding, but Vaughan's easily distracted...

July 2003

28 July: Added the short story Keeping Warm to the downloads page for The Syndicate. It's a very short story (500 words) set in the universe of The Syndicate, but wasn't used in the novel. There are also minor tweaks to that section of the website.

Sufficently Advanced Magic was rejected by Circlet, but at least it was a "like it but can't use it" rejection. Along with yet another comment about it having the potential for a novel. If even the editors are saying this, it's probably time I gave in and wrote it as a novel. At least now there's a potential market for it, with Tor's new paranormal romance line.

25 July: Added a review of the CD The Actor Speaks 1 - Gareth Thomas to the Ramblings page.

Bug-hunting is such fun... I did a fair bit of fiddling with the site HTML yesterday, and couldn't get it to validate. Eventually asked for help, and the error turned out to be very trivial, once it had been pointed out to me. Spent this morning validating and link-checking, and as of this upload it all works. Let's see how long that lasts.

24 July: Added the short story A Trifling Affair to the fiction downloads page.

Started work on the accessibility, which means there's a new CSS for the site, and various additions to the pages which should only show up in non-CSS browsers, i.e. the majority of accessibility browsers. There are general tweaks to the HTML while I'm at it.

Current thought on Journey Into Freedom is to market it as a political allegory. Which is what it had turned into by the time I'd finished writing it. Presumably this is what comes of leaving story ideas fermenting for three years before actually doing anything about them.

Speaking of story ideas Doing Things when left alone, the Knights Templar story seems to have accumulated some interesting baggage since the last time I wrote anything for it, about eighteen months ago. And that was before I asked for a spot of help on making sure the society worked, and was handed enough ideas to keep me going for a six-part series.

14 July: Finished the first draft of Journey Into Freedom, which still has the working title from when it was supposed to be a Trashy Porn Novel. Yes, this is the "Sold As A Sex Slave! (TM)" story, which acquired a serious political plot and another 50k words once I actually started writing it.

With any luck I will now have a chance to do something about a short story for content for the site. I announce this here so that I may be nagged if it has not been done by the end of the month.

And in Grumpy Old Usenaut news, I have discovered yet another reason to hate web-based conversation fora. They don't have killfiles.

9 July: The Googlebot has discovered the site - just over five weeks from it first going up and being linked to in Alex's LiveJournal.

Miscellaneous ramblings now includes a review of the CD "The Actor Speaks 3 - Jacqueline Pearce".

I'd intended to do something about improving the accessibility by now. Unfortunately I haven't been very well, and didn't have the attention span needed to tweak the HTML without making a mess of it. So nothing more exciting than making the site a little more internally consistent. I'll probably leave it now until I've finished the first draft of the novel (80,000 words down, two chapters to go...).

June 2003

9 June: The Amatory Ink shop has reopened, so The Syndicate is available for purchase again.

7 June: I've had some useful advice on improving the accessibility of the site, complete with sample page. Now all it needs is for me to try and work out how to apply it to the rest of the site, which could be entertaining as my knowledge of HTML dates from somewhere prior to CSS. Watch this space...

4 June: So I now have a few days' worth of log files for the vanity domain. It's interesting looking at the pattern of usage. Some of this is because I posted in afp asking for people to try to break it, preferably with a variety of browsers. They did. (You know who you are, and I'm very grateful for the help. It looks as if the site's at least usable in several browsers.) Some of the activity is because the site was referenced on LiveJournal in a couple of places. And some of it is just... odd. Why does a machine belonging to a Catholic School Board want to look at my smut? Even more unnerving - why does an office machine at my UK ISP want to look at my smut? All right, I can work that one out, it looks as if someone at said ISP has actually noticed the new sig file on my posts to one of the ISP's internal newsgroups and clicked on the link out of curiosity - and the long-term readers of that newsgroup all know about my porn writing activities anyway. It just took me aback slightly when I saw the IP address in the log. I obviously feel guilty deep down inside somewhere about not having as blunt an "adult content" warning page as might be required if I'd stuck the site on the ISP's webserver.

And I suppose it says what a sad git I am that I recognised the IP address as being an internal machine at my ISP without having to look it up.

May 2003

29 May: I now have my own vanity domain. Apparently this is now passe, and I should be blogging if I want to be on the cutting edge of self-publicity. Or so said some of the panellists at Baycon. Thanks, but for the moment I'll stick to being opinionated all over Usenet. At least I know I can use my speech recognition software with my newsreader if necessary. If I had a blog, I'd have to look at it. And reply to comments. And I hate HTML-based conversation interfaces. Give me something where I can just spacebar my way through...

26 May: Baycon was as usual great fun, and as usual I'm now knackered. It appears that there is a remote possibility that a print publisher would be interested in The Syndicate even though it's available as an ebook (or ought to be available, the publisher's shop is still out of action). Don't hold your breath, these things happen slowly if they happen at all.

5 May: Well, actually, it's not available and neither is anything else - the Amatory Ink shop is having technical difficulties at the moment. There's a link on the page to sign up to the newsletter, which will tell you when the shop's back up.

4 May: Volume 2 of The Syndicate, nee Tech Tales, is now available from Amatory Ink

Local Manners, the chapter that got left out of volume 1 of The Syndicate, is now available on the website.

April 2003

28 April: I thought I was writing a trashy porn novel - an sf version of "Sold As A Sex Slave!(TM)", in fact. It appears to have other ideas. There seems to be all sorts of stuff about Stockholm Syndrome and culture clash creeping in there. 15k words in, it only has two sex scenes, the first of which doesn't appear until after several thousand words of character building and scene-setting. So I now have another novel which doesn't have enough sex for the one-handed reading market, but is probably going to be a bit too raunchy/kinky for the mainstream sf market. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

March 2003

1 March: Volume 1 of The Syndicate, nee Tech Tales, is now available from Amatory Ink

February 2003

Lots of fun at Redemption, where I had the pleasure of pushing The Syndicate without actually knowing what the final title would be...

Tech Tales volume 2 accepted by Amatory Ink - except Alex and I have to come up with some catchy title for both volumes...

September 2002

Finally made it to a WorldCon...

August 2002

Tech Tales Volume 1 accepted by Amatory Ink

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