12 September 2014

Graham Joyce, 1954 - 2014

Graham Joyce died earlier this week.

I only met him the once, at World Fantasy 2012 here in Toronto. I was at the bar, chatting with a couple of Australian writers I know when Graham came over. He knew them both quite well, and they introduced me.

I liked Graham right away; he reminded me of a beloved professor from my undergrad days. He had a kind face, dominated by a big nose, and a great working-class accent. I seem to recall him lugging around a box of books for some reason.

He struck me as quintessentially British.

We talked a bit about writing, and a great deal about Toronto. I remember a good sense of humor, and a wonderful squinty-eyed laugh. And then he was on his way.

I'd never read anything he wrote, but I decided that I should pick up some of his work simply because he seemed like such an all-around nice bloke who'd taken the time to have a nice conversation with a nobody author 20-years his junior who happened to be sitting with a couple of guys far more successful who were his contemporaries.

Later at the annual "what we liked this year" panel that some of the major editors always do at WFC, Graham's book Some Kind of Fairy Tale kept being mentioned (indeed, it was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award the very next year) and I took it as a sign that I really did need to read it.

And there it sits still on my shelf. I bought it at the dealer's room that same day four years ago…and haven't cracked it open.

And I feel a strange guilt about that.

I'm a notoriously slow reader and I have a HUGE pile of books in my "to read" pile. But now that Graham Joyce is dead-- I dunno. I'm feeling some kind of regret that I didn't read it sooner. Maybe I would have sent him a fan letter? I dunno.

I don't pretend to have known him, and there's zero reason he would have had to recall me from our brief conversation. But I feel deeply saddened by his passing.

Having read a bit more about him this week perhaps there are reasons.

He died too young, first off. Not even sixty--in this day and age!

He began writing around the same age I am now, and published more than 20 books before he died, being awarded the British Fantasy Award an extraordinary seven times.

He died of lymphoma, leaving behind a wife and two children. With the recent birth of my second child, I confess to more than a passing fear of dying suddenly and leaving my wife all alone to raise the kids. And as someone whose family has been touched by lymphoma (though a much slower form) his diagnosis hits more than a little close to home.

It could be anyone of those reasons, I suppose, thought they all came after the fact.

Truthfully, when I heard the news I was sad because a guy I'd met once and shared a pleasant half-hour or so with passed away too young, and that doesn't seem fair.

As it happens, I'm between books right now in my alternating fiction/nonfiction/fiction cycle. So tonight, I'm going to settle into bed with Some Kind of Fairy Tale at last and remember with fondness my passing acquaintance with the talent that wrote it.

Rest peacefully, Graham. I for one will miss you.

- S.

05 September 2014

Seven Things Your Author Website Needs to Be Successful

I'm planning some big changes to my web presence this Autumn, not least of which is putting together a simple but proper author website with custom URL. This Blogger account has served me well, but as I plan on launching my first indie pub project later this year I think its limits have been reached. Stay tuned for further announcements!

So I was pleased this morning to find some advice from Mike Shatzkin on what exactly a proper author website should include in this day and age. His entire post (on author web presence and SEO, author branding, and marketing) is well worth the read, but here's a checklist that I plan on testing my new site against:

* List of all your books, listed chronologically and by series
* A landing page for each book, including the cover, a description, reviews, excerpts, links to retail sites and other important metadata that would help readers discover the title and decide to buy
* Contact page so readers can easily send an email and get a response
* Sign-up for an email list for future updates and marketing initiatives
* Social media buttons, so readers can easily connect and share your content via social media
* Calendar with upcoming publication dates and scheduled public appearances
* Page with links to articles and reviews by the author, as well as references to the author on blogs and in the press
In addition to these things on an author website, Shatzkin recommends that authors all should have:
* Up-to-date Amazon author page
* Google Plus page (which is crucial for effective search engine optimization strategy)
* Twitter and Facebook

Shatzkin's full article (and blog full of useful stuff generally) is here.

- S.

02 September 2014


Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.jpg

Proof over the weekend from an archaeological discovery in Gibraltar that the extinct hominid genus Neanderthal, a) were perhaps capable of abstract, artistic thought after all, and b) invented the hash-tag.

For reals.

Check out the deals on the discovery here.

- S.

10 April 2014

I've nominated for the Prix Aurora Awards. Have YOU?

The Prix Aurora Awards are the Canadian award for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy works and activities, as selected by YOU the (Canadian) fans. Nomination for the 2014 awards (for works first published in 2013) are closing soon! As a past (and future?) nominee for the Aurora, I urge you to nominate your favorite works from last year.

Nominations close this Sunday, April 12, 2014 at 11:59:59 PM EDT.

For a list of eligible works go HERE (and let me put in a special plug for some great eligible work from my fellow Stop-Watch Gang members which you can find HERE). To place your nomination go HERE.

Once nominations are finalized, voting will begin on May 3, 2014. Online votes must be submitted by 11:59:59 EDT on September 6, 2014.

The Aurora awards will be present during VCON 39 / Canvention 34 on the weekend of Oct 3-5, 2014.

Remember: vote early, vote often!

- S.

31 March 2014

Translation Sale! "Cladistics" Published in Estonian

Very pleased to announce that my story "Cladistics" has been published in translation by Algernon Ulmeajakiri (Algernon Science Fiction Magazine), an online SF magazine in Estonia. The story appeared in their August 2013 issue but I just found out today.

This marks the first foreign language sale for "Cladistics" and my seventh foreign language sale (Russian, Spanish, Finnish, Turkish, Greek, and forthcoming in German...and I feel like I'm forgetting one...) "Cladistics" was originally published (in English!) in the now out of print anthology The Book of Exodi.

You can read "Kladistika" here (assuming you can read Estonian, I mean...)

- S.