Monday, 27 October 2014

Photo Contest (Bees)

Earlier in the year, I stumbled across one of National Geographic's photo contests. It had a small entry fee, which I couldn't pay. So though it looked fun, I didn't enter.

Roll on some months and I've sold stories and earnt money. With a little time to go on the current contest (as it ends on October 31st), I entered a photo. I think this is my best photo of the year so far. The bumblebee was caught on the flower after getting soaked by the rain, so there's a little story behind it too. I doubt a bee picture has much chance in the nature category, but I figured it'd be fun to enter, and you never know unless you try.

The official entry page is here, where people can like it on Facebook or post it to Twitter. That doesn't have any impact on the contest itself, but it's there if you want it.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Writing Diary: Art and Books

Quick bottles painting

I talked short stories last time, due to a bunch of acceptances. But now, 'tis the season for longer and more painterly project discussion.

Intersections (the blog essay book) is getting there. I'm not happy with the introduction and have some formatting left to do, but it's not far off. The Deathwish List (cozy mystery novel) is most likely going to be early next year. I did provisionally say late this year, but I need time to focus on my art.

Conduit (the second Bigfoot Mysteries) is on track for late next year. I've actually got a fair chunk written, but it's put aside due to low sales of the first book. That said, sales have been rising in the last few months, which is great. I've also picked up some reviews. Maybe by the time the second one is done, it'll have a bit of momentum going.

Which brings me back to art. I'm in the second year of my A-Level now. I won't be able to afford to go on to the degree, but I could in terms of skills. So once it's done, my cunning plan is to get a portfolio sorted, so I can apply for illustration work. I'm never going to be a photorealist, as that's just not my thing. But some markets want stuff closer to what I do. Also, I'd like to work on my children's style, to query as an author/illustrator for picture books (one reason why my plan to get a picture book portfolio together went a bit quiet, as I figured if I worked a bit longer, I might get the drawings up to scratch too).

My current thought is I'll need some black/white stuff, like a book interior might have. Which as I still want to do interior pictures for the paperback of Rainbow Lights, I can feed two birds with one coconut. And some colour mixed media stuff for online illustration and possibly covers (for the most part, my art isn't typical cover material... but I used it for my own covers, so there might be authors with similar tastes).

It's a longer term goal, as it'll take a while to get a strong portfolio together. But I think it'll complement the writing nicely. Any advice from people who've gone that route is welcome. (Some of my A-level work is here and here, for those interested.)

Monday, 29 September 2014

New Fighter Fish - Shimmer

The tank I mentioned in my last writing diary now has a resident. Shimmer is a female fighter fish, and is probably between six months and one year old. She's white, with iridescent blue highlights on the fins and tail. As it's her first day, I didn't hassle too much with photographs. The best I got was this one:

White female fighter fish by an anubias plant

I also took a few videos, which I'll likely put together later in a setting-up-a-tank video series. But here are a few still shots from them. The last shows how blue her tail can look as she moves:

White female fighter fish with light shining through her

Back view of white female fighter fish, with her tail shining bright blue

She's generally settling in well. She's clamping her fins a bit (not so much in the shots, but other times), which is usual after a scary day moving to a new tank. She's really enjoying picking off little critters from the driftwood and plants, so I can recommend spending a little extra time on setting up a proper soil-based planted tank. It's not that my previous fighter tanks were bad, but this one is much more awesome for the fish.

In about a month, I'll introduce amano shrimp. The place I get my fish keeps the fighters in with other fish, so I've had a chance to see how she deals with tankmates. She had some very tiny fish in with her and was ignoring them, which is a good sign for being a tankmate-friendly fighter.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Story at Strange Horizons

A cartoon bird

My story "Never the Same" is up at Strange Horizons. It's a science fiction mystery. I wrote it about the time I started my cozy mystery novel, so it's a play on some of those tropes... but in a less cozy way.

Also has birds and terraforming!

Never the Same

Friday, 29 August 2014

Writing Diary: If Sales were Fishes

I've sold two short stories. "Never the Same" (science fiction mystery) to Strange Horizons and "After the Rain" (folkloric fantasyish) to Lackington's Magazine. In addition to the titles rhyming, I noted my last few short story length sales have been in the format of "Y the X". This isn't because I title all my stories that way... it's just what sold.

All this means I'll need to write some more short stories. With different titles.

The other result of selling stuff is I have money, so I got a little fish tank for a fighter fish. It'll be a few weeks at least before the fish, as it takes time to get the bacteria in the tank going. But here's a photo of what it looked like soon after I planted it:

Aqua One Aquastart 320 with wood and plants