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The Value of Story Bundles

26 Jan

For readers, especially avid readers, the value of a story bundle is obvious. You get 12 books for $15 (a few more if you are feeling flushed and generous). Each book arrives on your e-reader for less than the price of a (cheap) cup of coffee. Even if you are one of those book-a-day readers, that’s 12 days of reading pleasure. For those of us who read a book a week – you get 3 months of entertainment for half the price of Netflix. That’s a pretty good value.

But there is more to it than that. Some of the authors you may already know and like but others may be new to you. One of them might become your next favorite writer.

Our story bundle is all science fiction. That may not be your favorite genre but at this price, you can take a chance. Maybe you’ll find you like a certain sub-genre (near-future or space opera or SF mysteries). Even if you only like three of the books it is still a fairly good deal. And maybe your partner or parent or child will like a different three.

But of course, readers aren’t the only one who benefit from the bundle; writers benefit, too. Each book is allocated a share of the proceeds. For writers who own their ebook rights (some of those in this bundle do), that can result in a nice little pay day. No-one is getting rich but, if the bundle does really well, it might buy groceries for a month or even two or pay the rent. Writers incomes have been falling steadily over the last ten years and every bit helps keep writers writing rather than thinking about day jobs. Which means more books for readers.

Even when book rights are held by publishers, the writer is still entitled to a share and getting a royalty cheque in the spring is always something every writer looks forward to. The more bundles that sell, the bigger that cheque will be.

As for publishers, the income from story bundles can mean the difference between losing money and breaking even, or, heaven forbid, making a little profit. When distribution is difficult and expensive, story bundle cash means that Bundoran Press can keep its publishing schedule intact and keep buying new books for future years. Without it, the future – as much as we like to have a conversation with it – can seem mighty bleak.

And, if all that wasn’t enough, some of the money goes to worthwhile charities—mostly meant to support young writers so that future readers will always have something to read.

So check out the Bundoran Buddies Science Fiction Story Bundle at www.storybundle.com/scifi. But do it soon, because it is only here until January 31st.

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Interview with Hayden Trenholm

20 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors (and today, the curator of the bundle and editor of Bundoran Press) about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Hayden Trenholm

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction editor and why?

Like many things that I wind up doing, becoming an editor was simply a matter of saying yes when the opportunity arose. It is more or less how I wound up being a policy analyst, a political advisor, a playwright, an actor, an arts administration, a novelist and living in Toronto, Iqaluit, Yellowknife, Calgary and Ottawa. As a friend of mine likes to say, don’t ask why, ask why not.

I had been writing novels for Bundoran Press when the publisher Virginia O’Dine asked me to edit an anthology of short fiction, which wound up being the Aurora Award-winning book, Blood & Water. When, about a year later, she asked me if I wanted to buy the press, I said yes to that and in the subsequent six years, I’ve edited and published four more anthologies (two with Mike Rimar) and fourteen novels. I’m currently working on five more.

What inspired you to select the Bundoran books included in this book bundle?

One of my goals in running the press is to introduce readers to writers or series they might not have encountered before. While Edward Willett and Alison Sinclair are quite well known, the series they wrote for us are probably less so and the first book in each will hopefully lead people to pick up the second. Similarly, Al Onia’s Transient City is the first of two books set in a diesel-punk future, while Stars Like Cold Fire by Brent Nichols brings readers into the world of Jeff Yi and its many conflicts.  While Jennifer Rahn’s The Cyanide Process is a stand alone novel, her next book (coming out later in 2019) takes place in the same universe. As for Matthew Johnson’s Fall From Earth, it was published at the same time as my own first novel and I’ve always wanted to see it get more attention.

What themes appear most strongly in Bundoran books? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

Obviously, every writer brings his own ideas and concerns to their work but, as an editor, I’m most attracted to books where characters struggle to do the right thing both in their own lives and in the societies they live it. Most of our anthologies and the novels we publish have a definite political bent—though not a singular one. I’m more interested in the questions they ask than in the answers they find.

Do you have a special routine when you are editing? Time of day? Inspiring music or images? Particular clothing or food/drink?

I’m not an early riser so I do my best editing work from about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., usually eating a light lunch at my desk. I’ll often get in an hour or so between four and five-thirty but editing requires focus and concentration. Hemingway’s old adage about writing drunk and editing sober are wise words indeed. As for clothing, I work mostly in my sweats unless I have to meet people or run some errands.

Do need privacy to do your editing or do you prefer the social ambiance of a coffee shop or  retreat? How do you balance your editing with the rest of your life?

I can pretty much work anywhere—though the hard thinking about substantive edits usually require me to pace around and mutter to myself, so while I might be fine, others tend to find that aspect disturbing so I do it private. But once I get into the focused work of making comments or suggestions or doing copy-editing or even proofing, I can do it anywhere I can find a flat surface to put my laptop on.

Finding balance has never been hard for me. I’ve never been work obsessed so making time for my own writing, the necessities of maintaining a house, the joys of having a relationship and the sheer pleasure of food, music, wine and travel is mostly a matter of habit meeting desire.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

First of all, read. Read widely. Read fiction and non-fiction. Think about what you read—both its content but, more importantly, how it gets what it does done. Write regularly, not necessarily everyday, but several times a week at least. Learn to trust your instincts while being open to good (but not all advice.

And, when the time is right, get an editor.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Hayden and his writing and editing, visit: https://www.haydentrenholm.com/

 

Interview with Matthew Johnson

19 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Matthew Johnson

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction writer and why? How long after than did you have your first fiction sale?

I started writing seriously in my teens, but my early work was mostly plays; my high school had a very active drama program, so that was where the audience was. Though I did a lot of absurdist fantasy and a little bit of horror, SF and theatre were a tough fit, so it wasn’t until I switched to writing mostly prose in my mid-twenties that I really focused on SF and fantasy. I actually sold the first story I ever submitted for publication (and then didn’t sell anything else for five years.)

What inspired you to write Fall From Earth? How does this book fit into the rest of your writing career?

Fall From Earth is the result of a whole host of things that had been percolating in my brain since I was a kid, from my love of both classic space opera and New Wave sociological SF to my later fascination with Chinese history. Looking back it’s a bit of an outlier, both as the only novel (so far) and the work I’ve done that fits best into classic SF traditions, but it also has a lot of the themes and motifs I’ve played with since in stories like “Rules of Engagement” and “Irregular Verbs.”

What themes appear most strongly in your writing? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

The motif that comes up the most often is the tension between justice and compassion — that’s the heart of Shi Jin’s story in Fall From Earth, as well as for characters like the man who refuses to leave anyone else in Hell in “Talking Blues” or the nurse in “The Afflicted,” who cares for zombies during their transition and then puts them down once they become dangerous. The other major theme, which in this book is mostly represented by Ruchika’s encounters with the Greyen, is the question of how (and whether) we are ever really able to know anything, or to communicate with others.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?

I’m definitely a plotter: each book or story has a long runway before it really gets started, and I’ve been a devoted follower of the Church of the Holy Index Card ever since I read David Gerrold’s The Trouble With Tribbles as a twelve-year-old and learned how to break down a plot. (I bought it at the late, lamented House of Speculative Fiction in Ottawa; I’ve still got a bookmark around somewhere which I really should get laminated.)

Unfortunately my work at MediaSmarts occupies a lot of the same mental bandwidth and energy as writing (partly because it involves a fair bit of writing, even a bit of fiction now and then) so it’s hard for me to switch gears for just a few hours: I usually need at least a half a day free to get any writing down, which hasn’t done much for my productivity over the last few years.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

Keep at it. (That’s actually advice to myself, but if anyone else wants it they’re welcome to it!)

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Matthew and his writing, visit: http://zatrikion.blogspot.com/

 

Interview with Tanya Huff

18 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Tanya Huff

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction writer and why? How long after than did you have your first fiction sale?

I was always a story teller.  Going through some of my father’s things, I found a letter my grandmother had sent him where she transcribed a long, complicated story I’d told her about a spider that lived in the garden. I was three. (I illustrated the story. I was never an illustrator.)

When I was ten, I sold two poems to the local paper and was astounded to discover that people would pay money for writing.

When I was thirteen, I discovered a friend was writing Zena Henderson pastiches. Up until then, although I read all the time, it hadn’t occurred to me that people wrote books. (Poetry and newspaper articles, yes. Books, no. Books were special.) I was people. Therefore, I could write books.

I wrote books (about 40K so essentially novellas) all through high school. Switched to scripts for a while after graduation, started Child of the Grove in university (In TV Tech because I honestly didn’t care.) while writing short stories in my spare time.

I wrote Science Fiction and Fantasy because that made up the higher percentage of what I read.

I sold my first two short stories in 1984 (maybe ‘83, it’s been a while) and Child of the Grove the year after.  It’s been pretty much a book a year since.

I still don’t do illustration.

What inspired you to write Valor’s Choice? How does this book fit into the rest of your writing career?

I come from a military family – both grandfathers, both parents, assorted cousins. I served in the Canadian Naval Reserve. At no point have we ever had a commissioned officer in the family.  Non-coms, yes, and this gives me a somewhat different view as to who actually gets the job done in most militaries.

Military science fiction, however, concentrates on officers.  So, Valor’s Choice was written for the rest of us.

As to how it fits into the rest of my writing career? I honestly have no idea. I suspect that’s something posterity will determine.

Who is your favorite secondary character in this book and why?

I’d have to say Haysole. Military characters have fairly well-defined parameters and he coloured outside the lines.

 What themes appear most strongly in your writing? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

  1. Who do I chose to be. Blood and background only go so far, at some point you have to say this is who I am. I was the first person in my family to finish high-school and the only person to attend university. Fuck the world’s expectations. You decide.
  2. Competence. Because competence is sexy.

Do you have a special routine when you are writing? Time of day? Inspiring music or images? Particular clothing or food/drink?

I try to write every afternoon from one to six. In my office. Where it’s quiet. If I’m struggling, I indulge my oral fixation. Because I don’t want to weigh 400 lbs and fingernails have little food value, I eat a lot of carrot sticks. And drink a lot of black tea with milk. (Coffee’s for mornings, before I start writing.) (Unless we’re out of either tea or milk.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?

Yes.

Do need privacy to do your writing or do you prefer the social ambience of a coffee shop or writing retreat? How do you balance your writing with the rest of your life?

Privacy. I’m not big on social ambiance while involved in social activities. The exception to this is trains. I love writing on trains. Don’t know why.

Because writing has been my full-time job since 1992, it’s the same old work/life balance everyone faces. Except that I’m doing research while listening to you complain about your relationships…

What aspects of writing do you find easiest (character, plot, setting) and which are your biggest struggle?

I find setting easiest because I find world building fun. Pick a geography, a climate, a tech level, build from there. Plot’s next easiest. Characters are complex and twisty and frequently illogical. They take your nice simple plot of a staff sergeant getting the job done and getting her people home alive and make it complex and twisty and frequently illogical.

But I struggle most with description. I personally don’t much care what people/things/places look like, I care what they do, what their relevance is to the story. However, as most people do care, I have to keep reminding myself to not only put it in, but make it interesting. I suspect this is partially because all my formal training was in script writing.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

Read. Read everything. Read for pleasure. Read for research. Read for inspiration. Read to learn your craft.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Tanya and her writing, visit: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/h/tanya-huff/

 

Interview with Brent Nichols

17 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Brent Nichols

When did you first know you wanted to be a science fiction writer and why? How long after than did you have your first fiction sale?

I knew I wanted to be a writer pretty early in my life. Books had a huge influence on me. At first I wanted to be the heroes of those books. Eventually, though, I started to envy the writers. People I’d never met, in many cases people who died before I was even born, were having this tremendous influence on me. I wanted to wield that kind of power.

The best part of reading for me as a child was the way books would whisk me away to somewhere else. I got hooked on science fiction early, because of the fantastic environments and the mind-bending concepts. That made science fiction the playground I wanted to inhabit as a writer.

So my goal was selected by my early teens. My first sale came many, many, many years later, when I was in my forties. If you’d told fourteen-year-old me that he’d work for thirty years without making a sale he’d have called you a liar. That unshakable delusion was the only thing that kept me going through all the years of rejection and obscurity.

What themes appear most strongly in your writing? What makes you particularly care about those ideas?

I find I’m constantly exploring the question of identity, of how we become who we are and the degree to which we can choose. I’m almost fifty and I’m still grappling with that. The person I assumed I’d become when I was a child is not the person I grew up to be. I’ve been shaped by the events of my life, especially my childhood, often in ways I don’t like, and it’s maddeningly difficult to change myself from the inside.

My characters tend to be young, and they tend to struggle with identity. With choosing. With seeing beyond their environment and the “wisdom” of everyone around them to make good choices about who they become. They struggle, and sometimes they fail, to rise above their environment and become who they choose to be. I’m endlessly fascinated by that struggle.

Do need privacy to do your writing or do you prefer the social ambiance of a coffee shop or writing retreat? How do you balance your writing with the rest of your life?

I’ve never been one for writing in a coffee shop. I do most of my writing at home. I’ve got an office set up with a view of the backyard and a couple of bird-feeders, which are often full of squabbling birds. It’s a pretty nice place to work. I don’t have children or pets, so I’m generally not interrupted when I’m home.

I do find that my productivity increases when I go on retreats, though. The social pressure of having writers all around me who are writing and who expect me to be writing leads me to work more and goof off less. The most productive days I’ve ever had been at retreats or when I’ve been stuck with absolutely nothing else to do. The absence of Wi-Fi can be a wonderful thing when you want to get work done.

Lately I’ve been dictating with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I only want to do alone. I either dictate in my office, or I take a digital recorder and walk around outside. If I go outside and pick a destination, I’ll usually keep on dictating until I get there. It takes away my typical inclination to decide I’m frustrated or that I need a break.

As for balancing writing with the rest of my life, it helps that I don’t have children. Nor do I have a day job that is overly demanding. For a long time, I worked as a trainer with an irregular schedule that gave me a lot of days off. Now I’m able to make my living writing, so balancing writing with the rest of my life has become easy. The only challenge is self-discipline and resisting the urge to make excuses while I goof off.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

Be wary of advice. Especially be wary of writers who tell you there is one way to do things. If you read or watch a lot of interviews with writers you quickly realize that they work in very different ways, and succeed in very different ways. So, you can reject out of hand any advice that begins with, “You must always …”

Do what works for you, and never mind what works for someone else. That being said, be wary of indulging your anxieties and telling yourself that a routine that involves very little actual writing is “what works for me”. If you’re not writing, your approach doesn’t actually work for you.

Similarly, you must be discerning with the feedback you get when you share your writing. You will get good, insightful, useful feedback, telling you things you’d never figure out on your own. And you will get wrong-headed, destructive, terrible feedback that you must ignore. And no one can tell you which is which. Figuring out which voices to listen to and which voices to ignore may be one of your biggest challenges as a writer.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Brent and his writing, visit: http://www.steampunch.com/index.html

 

Interview with Alison Sinclair

16 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Alison Sinclair

What inspired you to write Breakpoint: Nereis? How does this book fit into the rest of your writing career?

Breakpoint was to be my medical ship story, with my elevator-speech including the phrase “Star Trek meets medicine”. I was exploring the overall idea of the medical ship picking up the pieces after a plague, but trying to get going on a novel centred on the Waiorans and their conflicts. Then Creon McIntyre arrived on stage, so decisively that I started drafting scenes from his point of view in a hotel room while on a business trip, which is something I can very rarely do. As my characters tend to do, he dragged in his family, friends and enemies, who then started to define the world they lived in. The germ of a different novel snapped into shape around him, and I rolled with it.

Who is your favorite secondary character in this book and why?

My favourite secondary character has to be the world of Nereis itself, and the funky biochemistry that is responsible for a number of the plot drivers: Nereian native biochemistry has amino acid variants replacing three essential Earth-type amino acids, which means that humans cannot survive without either modifying themselves or terraforming the landscape. In the aftermath of the Plague, with Nereis being thrown on its own devices, the terraforming is losing ground and the adaptations are failing, and two sides are struggling for control of the remaining habitable land. That’s where the Waiorans come in, with their dual mission of tracking their plague (which they think might have survived in bodies buried in Nereis’ unusual ecosystem), and helping the colony avoid extinction. Both sides promptly attempt to enlist the Waiorans to their cause.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?

Combination, though I skew heavily towards pantser. There’s a cartoon that most scientists have encountered of two mathematicians standing at a blackboard, on which is written a series of formulae at top left and bottom right, with “and then a miracle occurs” written in the centre. Which pretty much describes my process of getting from an idea of the beginning to some vague notion of the end. Each of my projects has a paper notebook (or more than one), and a project can’t really get rolling until I find my preferred notebook (so I have a LOT of notebooks), which gets filled up with checklists of scenes to be written, possible names for people and place, multi-page scrawled plot-bashing sessions and Smeagol vs Deagol arguments with myself about who is doing what and when and why, messy timelines with many arrows and bubbles, coarse sketches of maps so I at least can keep the eight points of the compass straight, book lists, literature searches, and research notes. What my primordial entries describe usually bears little resemblance to the book that finally condenses in the end.

Given the messy process that is a first draft, rewriting is generally easier. It’s also essential, since I have usually taken a turn somewhere in the middle and have re-align the beginning with the end, so that the problem presented in the first act is solved by the final curtain (usually generating a host of new problems). I also wind up cutting quite a number of scenes that are pure character or world building but do not advance the plot. Stuff I needed to know but ultimately do not need to show.

The only time I could write every day is when the novel has hit its last third, the plot has developed its own inevitability, and it all starts rolling downhill. I don’t usually get to, because work and life.

Do need privacy to do your writing or do you prefer the social ambiance of a coffee shop or writing retreat? How do you balance your writing with the rest of your life?

Privacy and quiet for writing itself. I’d like to be one of those who can use music to shut out other distractions and create a mood, but it imposes itself on the rhythm of my own narrative voice and that of the dialogue. I cannot write in coffee shops, though I can constructively plot-bash there. Much of the plot-bashing for Breakpoint was done on weekend mornings at the James Bay Coffee and Books in Victoria, BC. My all-time favourite place to work is the reading room of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, followed by the silent working floors of a University Library, particularly in the summer. My version of Hemingway’s “write drunk, edit sober”, is to write late at night, when it’s quieter and punchiness can produce some quite interesting twists, about the time I start typing with my eyes closed. I can then work on coherence in the morning, when I am sharp.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Alison and her writing, visit: http://www.alisonsinclair.ca/

 

Interview with Jennifer Rahn

15 Jan

A great bundle of science fiction books is currently being offered at https://storybundle.com/scifi, consisting of six titles from Bundoran Press and six by some great writers who have befriended the press over the years. As an added bonus, we will be running a series of interviews with the authors about their contribution to the Bundle.

Next up: Jennifer Rahn

Do you have a special routine when you are writing? Time of day? Inspiring music or images? Particular clothing or food/drink?

I usually end up writing early morning when insomnia hits at 2 am, or whenever I can fit in a few minutes during the day. It’s nice to have a mug of lemon tea and potato chips to go along with it, or candy. For music, I usually like to listen to something heavier, like July Talk, Nightwish or Beethoven.

Are you a plotter or a pantser or some combination of the two? Do prefer to writing or re-writing? Do you write every day or when the muse strikes you?

I was a pantser, but found that going back to fix things later is so much more work. Now I’m a plotter. It may not all come at once, and I may end up plotting and writing the first part of a novel before plotting the next, but I find that at least having a skeleton outline makes the entire process go so much more smoothly. I may write everyday for a few weeks at time, but I’m not that consistent about it. I like to ride the wave of motivation that hits now and then.

Do need privacy to do your writing or do you prefer the social ambiance of a coffee shop or writing retreat? How do you balance your writing with the rest of your life?

I have a day job and a four-year-old, so periodic insomnia aside, I don’t often have the luxury of privacy or going out to spend the afternoon in a coffee shop. I do, however, have dual monitors on my computer, so sometimes I’ll end up having my daughter sitting on my lap, watching Bob the Train on one screen, while I write on the other.

What aspects of writing do you find easiest (character, plot, setting) and which are your biggest struggle?

Characters come easily for me. Once I “see” them and catch hold of their personality, it all just flows. Setting is also easy. Plotting and logic are certainly where I need to make the most improvements. I get the support I need from an extremely logical engineer husband (Chris), and a very accomplished editor (Hayden).

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding writer, what would it be?

Learn from every experience and use what you learn to keep upping your game.

 

To learn more about this great bundle of books, visit https://storybundle.com/scifi.

To connect with Bundoran Press, visit our web-site, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BundoranPress

To learn more about Jennifer and her writing, visit: http://www.longevitythesis.ca/