Category Archives: Writing

05 Feb

How All Her Children Fought came to be a film: sometimes it pays to take a chance

Sometimes it pays to just take a chance.

About two and a half years ago an odd email dropped into my inbox out of nowhere. It seemed to be a quickly written email from someone in Ireland. The writer, Liam, said he was asking if I had any stories that I thought might be worth filming. In particular, he was trying to find something under fifteen minutes long that he, and a crew of others from his village in Ireland, could enter into a film competition. And they needed it, like, yesterday.

I decided to follow up, and asked more questions, instead of just moving on. And I was glad I did. Despite the hastiness of the initial email, Liam went on to explain further that he and his crew had entered several weekend film competitions and won them. They were looking for a script they could film over a weekend for a ‘make a film in a weekend’ competition coming up, but they couldn’t use their current script.

I thought All Her Children Fought could be filmed, so I sent the story along, and Liam loved it. I spent a week turning it into a script that I sent to Liam.

And then things went quiet for a long while. Past the time I thought they were going to try to film for that weekend.

They got back into touch. They hadn’t been able to get things ready to use my script in time, they’d gone with another. But they were still super excited about my script and wanted to film it. Only, they said they wanted to level up from their regional wins and do something even better. They wanted to hire a director and audition actors and get really serious.

A friend of mine joked that this was when the request for me to invest money would come, but pretty soon Liam and the Snugboro team were sending me clips of directors they were looking at, along with actors they were thinking of using. I suddenly realized this was going to really happen.

The director had done some adverts, and been to film school. Pretty soon they got their hands on my script and we had some back and forth edits. The director had some tweaks, all of which punched things up (the cat and the end shot, which really boosted the whole thing, came from that pass and weren’t in my original, but I loved them).

Knowing that I was working with a team that didn’t have a Hollywood budget, I’d tried to take things that would require special effects and get them off screen. I suggested using fans to blow leaves across the field for the ship taking off at the end. But someone on the team knew a computer graphics guy, and soon I was getting mpegs of test imagery for the ship to see what I thought, as they were going to include that as the penultimate shot. It was going to look totally SF-nal! That blew me away.

When I got the DVD in the mail it wouldn’t work on my player, but I was able to get my Xbox 360 to show the movie. I was nervous. No doubt. But the quality of the filming and acting were far beyond anything I hoped for.

And then, seeing words I wrote played out in front of me, it really gut punched me. Here was something I’d dreamed, and they’d done such an amazing job of nailing what I was trying to do. And even taken it up a level. Of course, having been so involved in seeing the actors chosen, the drafts of the script, my own mind’s eye for what happened in it, and the fact that I was so close to the project, meant I had no idea if what I was seeing had the same effect on anyone else.

So I, very nervously, did a screening in Bluffton at the local movie theater early one Saturday. Fifty or so people in town and from the college came out to see it, and it seemed to have an effect. I also screened it for people at Blue Heaven, the writing workshop, right after it came out, to see what my peers thought.

So now, I get to share it with everyone, as Liam has allowed me to upload it to YouTube and pass it around. I loved the chance to write a script. I loved the opportunity to see something of mine transferred to a whole new medium.

And here’s the film again:

Details about the film:

Based on the short story by Tobias Buckell (http://www.TobiasBuckell.com). Script by Tobias S. Buckell, Cathal Feeney, and Patrick Ryan.

Produced by Liam Grant (Snugboro Films: http://snugborofilms.com) and directed by Patrick Ryan, who has a number of award winning short films to his credit. The film was shortlisted for showing at the Belfast Film Festival in April 2013 and the Tokyo Short Shorts Festival May/June 2013.

When every pound to orbit counts, who will fight for our future in deep space?

05 Feb

All Her Children Fought: A 15 minute short film, based on my short story, can now be viewed on youtube

About two years ago I may have posted some stills about a short, fifteen minute film made out of one of my short stories. I’m delighted that the producer of the film sent me news that I could upload it to YouTube and share it however I wished. So I’ve done just that, and am posting it on my website here as well to share with all.

Details about the film:

Based on the short story by Tobias Buckell (http://www.TobiasBuckell.com). Script by Tobias S. Buckell, Cathal Feeney, and Patrick Ryan.

Produced by Liam Grant (Snugboro Films: http://snugborofilms.com) and directed by Patrick Ryan, who has a number of award winning short films to his credit. The film was shortlisted for showing at the Belfast Film Festival in April 2013 and the Tokyo Short Shorts Festival May/June 2013.

When every pound to orbit counts, who will fight for our future in deep space?

I’ll be following up in a little bit with a post about how this all came about.

03 Feb

A note about RETR-O-RAMA appearance in Florida: Apparently I will not be attending

Last July I confirmed I’d be attending a Jacksonville, FL event called Retr-O-Rama, and a few Florida readers have contacted to ask about it. I was contacted July 16th by someone representing the event (I still have all the archived emails) and confirmed that I would attend back then. I requested details to hammer down the flight time in August, as I’d planned to go down early (and spend my own money on a hotel) to spend a number of days writing in the sun as it always doubles or triples my word count. Since August I’ve had no reply. January 7th I reached out again to the email that had confirmed my attendance and got nothing.

Since January 7th I’ve not been told the event has been rescinded or anything like that.

Seeing that other names have been added to the site and that I’m getting the silent treatment, and seeing that I was supposed to travel down on the 13th (I’d asked for earlier), and that there are mere days left and I haven’t seen any ticket information, I can safely assume that I am being dodged/ignored/forgotten or some combination thereof.

So, sadly, and alas, I will not be down in Florida to sign books.

I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience if you were hoping or planning to come out to see me. I swear it was not my fault. I’ll be taking down the appearance listing, but I just wanted to pass on a notice.

I do have another speaking appearance that is being offered that will be at a Florida university, details to be announced later, which will be sometime next year.

Until then!

22 Jan

Crystal Rain relaunched in trade paperback this week. Read the first 1/3 free right here

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Crystal Rain launches this week in a brand new trade paperback format.

If you’re interested in diverse SF, if you’re interested in seeing what a taste of the Caribbean is like when it’s married with adventure SF, if you’re interested in reading the book that launched the Xenowealth series, then here you go.

A lot of people have taken a closer look at the book with the new cover. A lot of people have told me ‘oh, I didn’t realize it was SF.’

It is.

But don’t take my word for it. Read the first entire third of the book and see for yourself.

That’s my advertisement right there. Please link the sampler. Please link the post. If you’re interested in a broader SF, if you’re interested in something outside the usual, then take a bite. A third of a whole book is enough for you to decide if it is your thing.

All without having to drop a single dime.

Try it.

No, seriously, try it.

Legends say that the forefathers of Nanagada fled a far-off star to their new home. They say that the sky once hummed with metal flying machines and palatial floating cities. But then the Azteca came. Created and driven by cruel, inhuman gods they swarmed out of the sky in search of sacrificial blood, and worse. To defeat them and their gods the forefathers burned the sky. The cities and machines fell to the ground, useless.

In the centuries since, Azteca have kept to their side of the mountains in an uneasy truce. But now it has been broken. Driven forward by their gods once again, only one man can stop their bloodthirsty march: John deBrun. His family scattered, John holds the key to an ancient secret deep in memories lost just before he was dragged unconscious from the sea years ago…

…if he can stay alive long enough to uncover them, he might be able to stop the destruction of Nanagada.

And here a few reviews, if you’re still not convinced:

“Buckell’s promising debut. …a twist that adds a sci-fi edge to this tale’s mythological underpinnings.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“Buckell does a nice job of setting the stage and the pages turn quickly. I’m still on board for Volume Two. The possibilities for the series are tantalizing.” Contra Costa Times

“…[A] promising debut. It’s a twist that adds a sci-fi edge to this tale’s mythological underpinnings.” Kansas City Star

“Buckell does a fairly smooth job unwrapping the plot.” Tampa Bay Tribune

“Readers who like sieges, strategies and swashbuckling heroes will thoroughly enjoy this fast-moving tale.” Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A fast-moving and thoroughly enjoyable tale that kept me reading almost non-stop.” Midwest Book Review

“In this stellar debut, Buckell has created an amazing world. The plot is well-constructed and the writing is simply superb, particularly the dialogue, which is amazingly beautiful.” Romantic Times

“Enjoyable…for a first-timer Buckell handles his interlocking narratives well and his characters retain their humanity.” Publishers Weekly

“Buckell’s debut captures the flavor of Afro-Caribbean culture in the lilting dialog of his characters and in their customs. An original tale with distinctive characters and a fresh approach to worldbuilding, this sf quest belongs in most libraries.” Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Buckell’s first novel conjures a vividly imagined world, spiced with intrigue and adventure that unfolds at a breakneck pace.” Booklist

“An auspicious debut. Buckell’s done what a first novelist needs to do: to make us want to know about his world, and more about his imagination. His announced next novel, Ragamuffin, is certainly worth looking forward to.” Locus

“A good old SF adventure story. His Creole background lends a colorful touch to his characters and dialogue, and his clever reworking of familiar tropes makes this a standout first novel.” Locus (Short review)

“Crystal Rain is a totally engrossing, can’t-put-it-down reading experience. The setting is superb, the characters are fascinating and DeBrun, the enigmatic Pepper and the conflicted Oaxyctl are one of the great fictional triumvirates. This is lush SF adventure in the C.L. Moore vein. Hopefully more installments are on the way.” Starlog

“Even non-sci-fi readers will be bowled over by…Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain… Violent, poetic and compulsively readable.” Maclean’s (Canada)

“A pepperpot of a delectable, enjoyable story…Buckell is a deft, assured storyteller who will, hopefully, continue to publish novel-length fiction with the same eye for intricate setting and rounded characterization he’s exhibited here in his debut novel.” SFF World

“Infused with new life and excitement. Buckell’s plotting is sturdy and swift with nary a longuer. For a thrilling adventure set on a unique world, this book couldn’t be bettered.” SciFi.com (Paul Di Filippo)

“A fast-paced pulp-style adventure … a very satisfying first novel with a different and refreshing setting.” Emerald City

“There’s a great old-school pulp-adventure essence to Crystal Rain … what Buckell does right, I’m happy to say he does breathtakingly right. Most effective is the evocation of place. His setting feels alive. There is real texture to Nanagada, its people, villages, back alleys and crowded markets. You can almost feel the humidity. Buckell’s use of the sea as a critical setting is brilliantly handled, too…I can definitely say that there’s nothing else on the racks right at this moment quite like it, and that Tobias Buckell is a name to add to you ‘watch this writer’ list.” SFReviews.net

“[Buckell’s] first novel, CRYSTAL RAIN, is the sort of thing that will have readers watching for more. [He] has displayed a gift for imagination much greater than one book can hold. Sequels would surely please many readers, but if he imagines as thoroughly in new and unconnected novels, they too will please.” Analog

“The hard part [of writing a novel] is a combination of fast pace with some glossy writing and intriguing characters. And I’ve noticed that this is a skill that science fiction writers are picking up. Case in point: the debut novel from Tobias S. Buckell, Crystal Rain.”

“I was actually quite surprised at how fast-paced the book was. I was glad to see, however, that as I was burning through the story, Buckell got each moment and each twist and turn exactly right.”

“Buckell writes that stuff with panache, and there’s some remarkably strong science fiction in there too… [He] has way more atmosphere and colour in his story than an equivalent sf book… It takes a great deal of care to create something so balanced.”

“This gave me quite a joyful feeling as some new twist came into play and the world wrenched into a strange direction.” The Cultural Gutter

“Once the world sank in and permeated my mind, I couldn’t put the book down. Like all good books, it only got better as it progressed, all the way to the end.” GreenMan Review

“Buckell has done an excellent job with his first Sci-Fi novel. This story is complex, fresh, and interesting–and wide open to a sequel.” Children’s Literature

“An impressive debut…with unique creatures, characters, and advanced technology; Crystal Rain blends plenty of action, suspense, culture, and science fiction. Buckell has created an interesting world that I’m looking forward to reading more about in his sequel Ragamuffin.” SciFi Chick

“A galloping read that throws the reader into an alien world that they won’t want to leave. I may have just found my new favorite sci-fi author.” Graeme’s Fantasy Review

“This is an exciting and imaginative debut from author Tobias S. Buckell. The story features characters that are carefully nuanced and thus, wholly believable. The ending, though logical, is truly heartbreaking.” Bookstove

“What Tobias Buckell has done here is pretty impressive. He’s taken a culture that wouldn’t usually be put in the same sentence as science fiction and created something that is both unique and familiar.” – Walker of Worlds

09 Dec

Authors reading one star reviews

Have you been paying attention to the Worldbuilders charity that Pat Rothfuss runs? It’s up to $574,508 raised for Heifer International. One of the stretch goals was just blown right past (450K), in which I and many other cool writers read one star reviews of our work.

You can help out Heifer International via Worldbuilders here by just buying great signed books, or other cool items, as well as entering a lottery.

The next stretch goal is getting Hank Green to perform an angry acoustic of “Shake it Off.”

What’s that you say? You want to make the world a better place while winning fabulous prizes?

Well today is your lucky day.

Heifer International is our favorite charity. It helps people raise themselves up out of poverty and starvation. Heifer promotes education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world.

They don’t just keep kids from starving, they make it so families can take care of themselves. They give goats, sheep, and chickens to families so their children have milk to drink, warm clothes to wear, and eggs to eat.

(Are you ready? I’m so ready. Let’s do it.)

Pay attention now, you’ve got a couple different options for donating.

The Lottery

The Sure Thing

The Auctions

(Via How It Works | Worldbuilders.)

08 Dec

More on Kindle Unlimited

When I said half the stuff indie writers are now saying in the comments here about Amazon I was called some heinous names and ‘legacy’ writer, a ‘trad pub house slave’ and many other objectionable things. All I’ve done is note in the past that putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket will one day lead to sorrow.

Porter Anderson has a pretty thorough roundup over at theBookSeller.com:

Odd how those squeals of “this is the best time to be an author!” start to fade when you hear about a major self-publishing author’s struggles to pay a child’s medical bills because 75 percent of her Amazon income evaporated in the advent of KU, isn’t it?

Trial and so much error, obviously by Amazon’s folks — who are good people inventing a new  wheel — as well as by authors.

What comes next? We don’t know. As usual. 

That’s the bottom line: the way, the truth, and the lightheadedness of it all.. We just don’t know.

(Via Is the honeymoon over? KU comes between Amazon and its self-publishers | The Bookseller.)

There’s still a lot of sorting and settling out.

But we are the little insects under conglomerate giant’s feet. It’s not that I’m going to say other corporations are better. Just that I have a cynical eye toward them all! The idea peddled a few years ago that Amazon cared about writers and nothing but writers was silly then, and we’re starting to realize it.

Amazon cares about customers first, and gaining more of them… also first. Giving them free books for signing up to their service is a win for Amazon, even if it’s not a win for writers.

If that means at the writer’s cost, so be it. I warned about this with the cuts that were made in audio royalties, and the cuts made in certain foreign markets if you didn’t go Kindle Select. And even though I sold as a hybrid author, I was consistently attacked for pointing these moves out.

eBooks are a great option. I’m happy to see more arrows in the quiver.

But now we’re seeing the reality set in. There’s lots of work ahead of us. And the gold-rush mentality is fading. Which is a relief.

I’m not giving up on being a hybrid author, but I sure am making sure my books are for sale in multiple areas and in multiple ways.

08 Dec

Reminder: How to Get Signed and Personalized Tobias S. Buckell Books for the Holidays, 2014

I’m bumping this back up, reminder, you have until the 10th (that’s Wednesday) to snag signed books for the holidays if you want them:

Winter’s coming! Which means we’ll soon be shopping for gifts for each other and doing our best, if we’re too far away from the equator, to keep coldwarm. And there’s nothing better than sitting inside a warm home with a book, right?

At John Scalzi’s excellent suggestion (he’s been doing this a few years), I’m teaming up with Jay & Mary’s Book Center, the closest independent bookseller to me, to offer signed and personalized books. You can get a great gift and support a independent book store, which is a double win.

How to do it?

1. Ring up Jay & Mary’s Book Center, via their 800 number (800-842-1604) and explain that you want to order signed copies of my books. And they’ve asked that everyone please call rather than send email, as they find it easier to keep track that way.

2. Tell them what books you’d like and whether you want it just plainly signed by me, or if you’d like me to sign it to a specific name (great for gifts), and if there’s something specific you’d like me to write in the book. Do remember to make it clear if you’re ordering the book as a gift who’s name the book is being signed to. If it’s unclear to me, I’ll avoid using a specific name.

3. You don’t have to order just my books. For example, John Scalzi will be in to sign books at Jay & Mary. You could get *two* New York Times Bestelling authors signing your books at once.

4. Give Jay & Mary your mailing address and billing info. This is open to US Residents only, alas, due to shipping issues.

5. After that, I’ll be swinging by Jay & Mary’s to sign the books for you!

If you want the books by Christmas, the deadline for that is December 10th in order to make sure they get to you!

Here are the books of mine that are available:

Current Hardcover: Hurricane Fever.

Paperback: Arctic Rising. The Xenowealth novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose may still have some warehouses holding them, the best thing to do is ask and find out. As the trade paperbacks are coming out this January, they may be harder to order this season around.

Anthologies I’m in: Upgraded, Dead Man’s Hand, The Book of Silverberg (you’re free to ask about others, but again I wouldn’t be sure about their availability).

Good luck shopping, and thanks so much for supporting Jay & Mary’s Book Center,. When John took me over to show me the store I was excited to realize there was an independent I could do this with (and pick up a couple books from while I was there). They seem like a great store, and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Best!

06 Dec

Kindle Unlimited may be cannibilizing eBook sales. I’m unsurprised

Amazon is disintermediating general eBook sales with Kindle Unlimited:

When Kindle Unlimited launched in July, it was hoped that the increase in fees paid for loans would counteract the loss in income from authors not being able to sell their ebooks outside of the Kindle Store.

Sadly, a lot of authors are reporting that that is not the case.

(Via Author discontent grows as Kindle Unlimited enters its fifth month – The Digital Reader.)

Expect impacts due to Oyster and its like as well. For a canary in the coal mine, check out singer/songwriters/musicians and the Spotify effect.

So if you’re exempt from Kindle Universe exclusivity (as certain Amazon boosters are, because they’re used as figureheads), it’s a good gig.

Everyone else is in a different spot. And as I’ve been saying for years, if you depend on one marketplace or avenue, you’re effectively non-diversified and you’re at risk if a business model changes.

I’m happy to diversify into Kindle (I have some new stuff coming out over the next quarter), but it’s one avenue of income among many.

The best thing you can do is Courtney Milan’s advice to make sure you built up a great email list serv of people interested in your next book.

Why?

Consider your current career as just one variation on many you’ll experience. Assume that algorithms will change. That tastes will change. Things will shift. Empires grow and die.

A mailing list of fans?

Doesn’t matter if you use Kindle, direct brain-to-brain interface, burst into scripts, or start serializing on your blog for Patreon subscriptions, if you have a growing list of subscribers you’ll always be able to reach them.

Facebook changed how you could reach the people you’d gathered up as an audience. Twitter might as well.

Control your own website and mailing list (physical too, they’re still A Thing), and always think of distribution as a business partner matter, not a matter of revolution or what tribe you’re a member of, and these swings will come as less a surprise and more of just part of the constant shifting that is trying to make a living as an artist or trying to reach many people as an artist.

Because no matter how you do that, it’s actually way harder than it looks.

If it wasn’t everyone else would be doing it, right?

04 Dec

Xenowealth: A Collection Kickstarter is halfway through. Some quick thoughts.

As of today we’re just over the halfway mark on my Kickstarter for Xenowealth: A Collection. I promised I’d burn some social capitol promoting this, but Thanksgiving break and holidays hit at the halfway point as well, so I’ve just been letting things go quiet.

When I built this Kickstarter out, I wanted to tweak some of the things I’d done in the past. For one, in the past I’d put the eBooks at too high a value. Lowering them to $10 seems to have boosted our numbers, and included some drive-by backers who aren’t already part of my core readership. So that worked.

I noticed from some other Kickstarters that a decent tranche of trade paperback backers existed. I’d shied away as that being ‘more logistics’ in the past. But I think I was wrong. It fills in a ~$30 backing level. There’s a logical $10 eBook, $30 trade and $50 hardcover set of steps.

I’m noticing my higher ones aren’t as popular though, so while I nailed the lower ones, I’m having trouble with those. But I can’t call it a failed test until the very end. We shall see.

The $30 trade level also offers a great transition into the post-Kickstarter selling. Get a trade paperback ready to sell via CreateSpace, because if you have the rights, you should do that anyway. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for The Apocalypse Ocean, Mitigated Futures, and I haven’t. Putting in there will make me do it. While the limited hardcover will be limited, the trade allows me sell physical books.

People still really like those. I need to test those waters out more than I currently do.

I need to put out a call for artists soon. That’ll be fun to have some of the stories illustrated.

As far as progress so far, I’m happy. People asked why I set the goal so low at $1,000. As Mitigated Futures hit $3,280 (and a last minute backer came in the next day to push it to $4,280 and commission a custom story), I had a feeling we could get to $4,000 or so. I set up stretch goals all the way through $10,000, trying to make sure to keep the project interesting. And because, hey, a guy can dream, right?

That said, I wasn’t expecting the first day to go so well. To be at $5,220 here halfway through is amazing. Lots of Xenowealth fans out there.

I am questioning whether I should have set a $6,000 stretch goal with the third novella there, instead of putting it in with the $7,500 omnibus. Maybe that would have kept some excitement during the slower bits here in week 3.

But week 4 always picks back up.

I have no idea where this is going to end, but it’s been quite a ride so far.

Thanks all for the signal boosts and enthusiasm. Short story collections get the short shrift often enough in an author’s career. They’re a hard sell. It’s interesting to see that crowdfunding opens up a space here for me to do these in a way where everyone wins.

When I talked at O’Reilly Tools of Change about crowdfunding I mentioned that Kevin Kelly’s ‘1,000 true fans’ concept could be used to do interesting things even at smaller levels. 169 readers made Mitigated Futures a great project, 191 gave me the space to write The Apocalypse Ocean. 192 are on board for the Xenowealth collection. The next 13 days should be interesting!

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