Amazon royalties for copies of my books sold between 2018 and 2023: $6.10

Return from 3 months of ad revenue from a dumb programming project: $250.84

Return from $104 worth of tickets in the $150M Powerball: $97.40

If you like Bradism, you'll probably enjoy my stories. You can click a cover below and support me by buying one of my books from Amazon.

If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?


On Wednesday evening I walked with Mum and Nash around the Torrens after dinner. She was complaining about dealing with call centres and hard to understand people. I mentioned that AI and voice synthetization would probably replace those employees within a few years, and potentially my own job as well. After I extolled the benefits of generative AI some more she asked what I would do as a job if AI replaced my current one. I answered that I would pivot back to being an author and writing stories. I don't think AI will take over that for a while yet.

And yet... I finished the draft of my latest story a few months ago which gave me great satisfaction. And I workshopped it after making a return to writer's group where I also received good feedback to help improve it. All that is left for me to send this story to publishers for the small chance of it being published. And I have procrastinated that step more than any other in the process of writing it. Much of this procrastination time has been used to upskill myself in Generative AI.

Submitting stories is so hard because that's the point you lose control of them. And that's the point the feedback loop can stretch to such lengths that the whole hobby feels unfulfilling. Programming in React means you don't even need to refresh the page to see functionality changes. A short story can take months to get rejected. That means a thread is running in your brain for all that time. You can try to ignore it, but it's there.

But getting stories accepted is more fulfilling that pushing code or even running serverless function apps. You have to try and submit, even though rejection will come. And what better time to learn how to handle this fear, when AI is coming for our day jobs.

Dry Ink

I received a parcel from France today containing my notepad and the July/August 2012 issue of Analog that I left behind in Colmar.

What was not in the package was Uni-Ball Signo 207.

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The biro had been mentioned when I'd listed what I'd inadvertently abandoned, and it was the reason for me estimating the package value at €5. Staring into that reused Amazon cardboard and seeing only Alsace air made me realise it was gone forever. Dead or missing in France like Private Ryan.

This made me sad. I wrote a lot of words with that pen, albeit not recently. It travelled with me across the world twice. Losing it made my remission from storytelling sting a bit more. I do still write occasionally, usually by keyboard these days, but I'm devoid of any commitment or habit that would define me as a writer. And I hadn't typed a word since before my holiday on anything that was still in progress.

But tonight, in memory to the pen, I typed a fresh 500 words onto the end of my current project. And if it ever gets published the dedication on the first page will be obvious.

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Just Another Thursday

I’m not procrastinating. I actually want to know what’s going to happen to my Scrobbles after I die? I’ve already accumulated more than 300,000 of them. Will Last.FM look after them? Maybe add whatever songs get played at my funeral to the list?

And what will happen to my steps? I got 4,901 last Saturday and 21,689 on Monday. Every day I accumulate all these steps and when I cease to exist I guess they will cease to exist even though they all definitely did happen. I guess a lot of them were stepped in places where other steps by other people happened and some of those people are already dead and so these steps kind of exist as an independent entity and the ones I take are just a temporal association with that sneaker-shaped piece of earth.

I wore a singlet to the supermarket this evening and I couldn’t help wondering how I must exist in the minds of the checkout people who see me there so frequently over the years. Singlet, shirt, jumper, jacket, jumper, shirt, singlet. Over and over it loops and all I am is some other person wearing different things and buying bananas and meat on clearance. In my defense they are also on an endless cycle of being different people so I can’t imagine I owe them much. Although that actually makes me a little sad.

I was asked recently what I would do if I could freeze time. I don’t know what the right answer to that question is, but my response was that I would try and get all my projects done. Novels to finish. Novels to edit. Novels to rewrite. Programming activities and photography projects I want to finish. I know it’s an artistic cliche to always be distracted from a project you’re working on by a project you’re not, but I’m wondering if it’s more than that. Perhaps life is just a series of incomplete projects until you die and leave them behind, unfinished and with as much meaning as a pile of Scrobbles.

Or maybe I am procrastinating.

Books of 2021

I digested a whole lot of books in 2021. Was this better for me than watching TV? Who knows. But to celebrate I’m going to review all the ones I gave 5 stars. In alphabetical order.

A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris
Ferris is a literary author with the punchy prose of a thriller writer and the comedic timing of Larry David. There were moments in the first half of this novel where the characters and circumstances were so expertly written into sitcom style awkwardness I couldn’t help but marvel at the setup. Which is impressive, considering the topic of the novel is, at that stage, dying:

Cancer of the pancreas is the piano that falls from the sky. You have time to glance up, maybe. Then, splat! Like a bug on the cosmic grille.

It really was a novel of two parts, and while the second took a different turn that initially left me longing for the awkward, hyper-detailed comedy narrative of the first, in the end I can’t fault Ferris for breaking with typical conventions, and writing a story that really is about sons and fathers and how they exist in each other's minds.

Driving the Deep by Suzanne Palmer
The thing I most love about Palmer’s science-fiction stories is that they are, for the most part, pure adventure. While themes are touched on, for the most part its good versus evil, heroes versus villains, mind versus matter, across an amazing, imaginative array of locations and characters across the solar system.

What I liked most about Driving the Deep, in contrast to the other books in Fergus Ferguson’s chronicles, were the lonesome moments in the submarine under the ice of Enceladus. Even though here the action - finally - slows a little, there was something about these pieces that conveyed a sense of awe for the setting, the tickle of the overall puzzle, the anticipation. They were masterfully done.

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
I’ve been reading my way through the Discworld series over the past two years. Some are better than others, but I’m a fan of The Watch series’ most of all, in part because they are the earliest example I can recall of a detective story in a speculative fiction setting. The scene where Angua sees the colours of the smells as she hunts for clues has stuck with me since childhood, and was definitely one of my major influences for Baxter Adamson. Pratchett is also one of those authors that was given - or earned - permission to put jokes into his stories even if they serve no purpose to the plot. I’d like to have that distinction one day too.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
I am insanely jealous of Horowitz, who writes so well he makes me feel bad a little. How many other authors in the world churn out a whole, full length Agatha Christie style mystery that takes up 50,000 words inside their actual detective novel? Just for the sake of a plot. And then fills the inside book and the outside book with clever references and clues just to turn 600 pages into a playful, captivating mystery novel with a great payoff? He writes on hard mode and it only seems to make him better.

Napoleon the Great
A superbly assembled biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, at 976 pages it’s not short but like the Grande Armée it moves deceptively fast. Mostly chronological, it zooms in and out it as suits the story of a fascinating character, rich with minute details and trivialities as well as the main mechanics of all the relevant political, cultural and tactical moments. Widely sourced and relatively objective. It was the perfect distraction for two weeks in a sling after my shoulder operation.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
Turton’s follow up to The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was completely disconnected from his debut, but was another epic fantasy-thriller. Turton writes with such an effective, dark and chilling voice. He is a artist of intrigue and keeps pages turning. Another adventure that branches into not so common territory and totally nails it.

The Searcher by Tana French
I recall that French learned to write commercial crime novels after being brought up as a dancer, or something like that. Her Dublin Murder series highlighted this, with plots and twists that moved smoothly then swiftly, pirouetted, and always had a feel to them that no other Irish crime series could match - and there are a lot of those.

In The Searcher French writes a standalone mystery that isn’t particularly grand in scale, or fast moving, or even has much of a twist. Perhaps it was having read this book on the tail of a few other less “enriched” novels but the words on these pages were perfect in the way that they put you into the wet, Irish countryside. The players in the tale and their dialogue were real, nuanced and their lives felt completely fleshed out. As a study of character and scene it was excellent, and the story itself did the setting justice.

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My goal last year was to read 35 books and in total I read 14,647 pages across 40 books. Which, coincidentally, is just 40 pages a day. That doesn’t seem so bad. Still, I think this year I will set my goal to read one book a month. I don’t want to create a mental hook that makes me want to consume just for the sake of increasing a number. I already do that with steps, music, the share market and journal entries.

Out of Retirement

I finished writing a new story.

What Did I Learn From Napoleon This Week?

I like delving into historic biopics. The longer they are the better. There are so many things that have happened in human history that are fascinating and a really long book can be the best way to be immersed in the details of these prominent people. And as usual I mainly reflect upon my own life.

I'm currently five hours into Andrew Roberts' 37 hour audiobook Napoleon the Great. I suspect it will be a good way to pass some of the next two weeks. So far I've learned about Napoleon's origins in Corsica and, just like me, his own love of history books. However, at mention of the Ceasars - subject I read about only a few months ago - I felt disappointed that I'd seemingly forgotten so much of what I read in Tom Holland's Rubicon.

Napoleon, I've learned, was a writer. Of letters and poems and short stories. I write, and I write this journal to help me remember the things that happen to me, or that I learn. I have an excellent recall of many specific things in my life, and for that I can thank my journal. So, I've concluded that if I want to retain more memories of important things then I should write them down.

For some reason, Napoleon seems important to me this week. Here is some things I have learned:

Napoleon wasn't French, but as Corsica was governed by French power, he went to a military school in France which led to him joining the French army.

During the French Revolution he took long breaks of paid sick leave and went back to Corsica, which the French army approved because they didn't want to lose any more officers at that time.

Napoleon owned a mulberry tree (a lot, in fact.)

Napoleon's intelligence saw him assigned to the artillery branch because he knew enough mathematics to fire a cannon.

Napoleon wrote a 'History of Corsica' book in his early 20s, and a lot of his maneuvering through noble and political circles seems to have been motivated by trying to get someone to publish it.

His father died at a young age, and Napoleon may have believed he would share a similar affliction and fate, which could explain why he YOLO'd so hard in later life.

He perfected and reused many successful strategies, both on the battlefield and off it. After every success, he demanded more power and threatened to resign if not given to him.

He wrote a lot of letters - something I could maybe do more of?

To my dear, beloved Journal. Tu wouldn't believe the day I've had today...

Timeline to Publication

I remember, vaguely, the first short story I ever wrote. I was eight years old, and it was the last day of school for the year. The class exercise was to write a tale to read out before we all went home for Christmas. My tale was about a magic tree that shrank a main character (named Brad) who then had to escape from an ants' nest. It was a thrilling couple of pages. Probably a little tropey. And it included a picture I drew.

As home time approached that afternoon the teacher called us one at a time to read our work. Each time my classmates finished I shot my hand up, craving to be the next to share my piece. Over and over this repeated until, finally, the bell rang and story time was over. My little tale was never shared with anyone.

This was the first in a long succession of literary rejections.

I was a voracious reader as a child thanks to my library card and my parent's enforced restriction of screen time. I continued to write for my own amusement throughout my adolescence and eventually when I started journaling my life at seventeen the occasional entry transcended reality completely and became a work of fiction. Inspired mainly by American sitcoms, my stories featured double entendres about bread or beards and publishing them online brought me joy, and the taste of popularity on INTERNET FORUMS.

A sample of the books I read in a two month period of 1997.

A sample of the books I read in a two month period of 1997.

During my IT degree I chose creative writing topics to fill my electives, and after graduation and a few months of office life drudgery I knew that sooner or later I would need to pivot. My strategy at 23 was to make up fictional stories about office life drudgery. In 2007 I decided to submit one for publication.

I received my first professional rejection from Wet Ink for a short story about a paper towel shortage in an office which was supposed to be a metaphor for the French revolution. Honestly, I was a little shocked. I'd kind of had a feeling that I would fall into success as a writer. I'd been encouraged specifically to submit by the editor of the magazine while in the crowd at the Salisbury Writer's Festival, and it was at this same festival I'd scored my side job writing music reviews for Rip It Up just by bothering the editor of that mag while he'd been on his smoke break.

As I continued reading the likes of Pratchett, Coupland, Palahniuk and Gladwell the inspirations they gave me took my work in all sorts of directions and by my mid-twenties I'd written a whole portfolio of short stories and novellas. I persisted honing my craft, spending lunch breaks writing stories in the sunshine, joining discussion boards and writing communities online, plotting and editing piece after piece many which are extremely polished and were never published. I put a lot of effort and hours into this writing dream. I even paid money for state writer's memberships, online workshops and beta-swaps. I entered some short story competitions which I did not win.

I spent most of my writing energy between 2012 and 2016 working on novellas and novels. After not falling into success with novel submissions in much the same fashion as my short story career, It was suggested to me that I work on getting short works published in the multitude of magazines, anthologies and blogs that published authors. "Building a resume" was the advice. I took it to heart and from the start of 2017 I dedicated myself to this challenge. I found the lay of the land on and after reading some of the listed publications I knew my goal was to be published in a qualified Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) magazine. These were the publication’s on ralan’s “Pro” listings, and the more I read and wrote, the more I wanted to put my name in those pages.

On October 15, 2020, nearly four years later, my story A Purpose for Stars was published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. This is something thousands of other people have done. It's also the proudest achievement of my writing career. While I feel like I have written better stories by my own standards, imagining, writing and publishing something that found a home in such a historic publication that has featured such prestigious authors is an achievement I will hopefully replicate, but I’ll never forget my first.

Roll over to see what's inside.

Roll over to see what's inside.

I’m writing this out because I thought it would be worth documenting the time it took from the day I first had the dream, to the day I held the print copy of my story in my hands. This is both for the benefit of my own reflection, and as a single example of the journey for any other aspiring authors to provide perspective.

While this summary details my first successful submission to the token, semi-pro and pro markets it should be understood that between January 2017 and June 2019 I was writing and editing stories for about twenty hours every single week. I have lost track of the number of rejections I received. Searching my email inbox for the phrase “unfortunately” is bittersweet.

Time-Stones along the way

  • April 2017 - I write my latest story Bung Fritz at the kitchen table one Saturday night applying everything I’ve learned on the above journey.
  • June 14, 2017 - After revising, reading to Vanessa, my writer’s group and sending to online beta readers I submit Bung Fritz to its first market: Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.
  • June 20, 2017 - Received my first rejection for Bung Fritz.
  • October 23, 2017 - I start work on my latest story Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan
  • November 20, 2017 - After three rejections, Bung Fritz is accepted by Breach Magazine after 6 days. My first acceptance.
  • December 14, 2017 - The December issue of Breach Magazine is released. I was paid $10 AUD. Time between first draft and publication: 244 days.
  • April 4, 2018 - Submit Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan to Aurealis
  • June 2018 - Write first draft of A Purpose for Stars.
  • June 24, 2018 - Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan is accepted by Aurealis after 82 days. My first acceptance in a “semi-pro” market.
  • July 3, 2018 - Receive my first rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • July 7, 2018 - Receive my second rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • August 13, 2018 - Wormholes is published in Aurealis Magazine. I was paid $146 AUD (2 cents/word). Time between first draft and publication: 295 days.
  • August 14, 2018 - Receive my third rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • December 7, 2018 - A Purpose for Stars receives an honourable mention for an anthology competition - giving me some confidence - but is not published.
  • January 22, 2020 - A Purpose for Stars is accepted by Analog SF&F after 275 days.
  • June 30, 2020 - Receive proof and provide edits.
  • October 15, 2020 - A Purpose for Stars is published in the November/December issue of Analog SF&F. I was paid $428USD/$636AUD. (8 cents USD/word).
  • November 13, 2020 - My print copy of Analog SF&F is delivered and I confirmed that it’s true: I am a SFWA Market/Professional writer. Time between first draft and publication: 854 days.

Your journey my vary. The most important thing to remember: keep writing.

(This advice is also for aspiring writers plus me).

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