Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Never Know...

As a teacher, you have to be careful in what you say and do.  The kids are always watching, and they'll comment on your clothes, your shoes, your hair.  They'll mention that they saw you in shops, buying certain products, looking at particular items. They'll tell you that they noticed you with certain people, going into the movies, at restaurants.

One day, a couple of years ago, I had an idea. So I wrote a story around it - a kind of Beatles influenced, Christmas, 1969, romantic ghost story set in Australia where December can be 40 degrees celcius.

And then I needed a title.

I stole Ghost of the Heart from a song by Daniel Amos. And then the story sold, after a few rejections, and was published in Festive Fear, a limited edition anthology from a small press.

But someone must have seen it. I'm still thrilled to be included in the Recommended Reading list for 2010.

Since that happened, I've had emails and texts from people - some I never expected.

As I said, you never know who's watching.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Year’s Best Australian Fantasy And Horror: Recommended Reading List.

Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene have compiled a list of the year's recommended reading - and I'm included!

I'm over the moon, and honoured to be listed among these writers.

Gitte Christensen's story made it into the anthology - always great to see friends do well.

I must mention Steve Clark at Tasmaniac Publications who bought my story. Two of the stories from Festive Fear (Michael Radburn being the other) are included on the list. Congratulations to all these writers.

Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror: Recommended Reading List: 2010

Deborah Biancotti, “Home Turf” Baggage
Jenny Blackford, “Adam” Kaleidotrope #9
Simon Brown, “Sweep” Sprawl
Mary Elizabeth Burroughs, “The Flinchfield Dance” Black Static #17
Steve Cameron, “Ghost Of The Heart” Festive Fear
Stephanie Campisi, “Seven” Scenes From The Second Storey
Matthew Chrulew, “The Nullabor Wave” World’s Next Door
Bill Congreve, “The Traps of Tumut” Souls Along The Meridian
Rjurik Davidson, “The Cinema Of Coming Attractions” The Library of Forgotten Books
Stephen Dedman, “For Those In Peril On The Sea” Haunted Legends
Felicity Dowker, “From Little Things” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #43
Felicity Dowker, “The House On Juniper Road” Worlds Next Door
Felicity Dowker, “Bread And Circuses” Scary Kisses
Will Elliott, “Dhayban” Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears
Mark Farrugia, “A Bag Full Of Arrows” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #48
Jason Fischer, “The House Of Nameless” Writers of the Future Vol. xxvi
Bob Franklin, “Take The Free Tour” Under Stones
Christopher Green, “Jumbuck” Aurealis #44
Paul Haines, “Her Gallant Needs” Sprawl
Lisa L Hannett, “Singing Breath Into The Dead” Music For Another World
Lisa L Hannett, “Commonplace Sacrifices” On Spec
Lisa L Hannett, “Tiny Drops” Midnight Echo #4
Richard Harland, “Shakti” Tales of the Talisman
Richard Harland, “The Fear” Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears
Narrelle M Harris, “The Truth About Brains” Best New Zombie Tales: Volume 2
Robert Hood, “Wasting Matilda” The Mammoth Book Of The Zombie Apocalypse
George Ivanoff, “Trees” Short & Scary
Trent Jamieson, “The Driver’s Assistant” Ticon4
Pete Kempshall, “Dead Letter Drop” Close Encounters of the Urban Kind
Pete Kempshall, “Signature Walk” Sprawl
Martin Livings, “Lollo” Close Encounters of the Urban Kind
Penelope Love, “Border Crossing” Belong
Geoffrey Maloney & Andrew Bakery, “Sleeping Dogs” Midnight Echo #4
Tracie McBride, “Lest We Forget” (audio) Spectrum Collection
Kirstyn McDermott, “Monsters Among Us” Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears
Andrew J McKiernan, “All The Clowns In Clown Town” Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears
Simon Petrie, “Running Lizard” Rare Unsigned Copy: tales of Rocketry, Ineptitude, and Giant Mutant Vegetables
Michael Radburn, “They Own The Night” Festive Fear
Janeen Samuel, “My Brother Quentin” Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #44
Angela Slatter, “A Porcelain Soul” Sourdough and other stories
Angela Slatter, “Gallowberries” Sourdough and other stories
Angela Slatter, “The Dead Ones Don’t Hurt You” The Girl With No Hands and other tales
Cat Sparks, “All the Love in the World” Sprawl
Grant Stone, “Dead Air” (poem) Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #46
Lucy Sussex, “Albert & Victoria/Slow Dreams” Baggage
Anna Tambour, “Gnawer Of The Moon Seeks Summit Of Paradise” Sprawl
Kaaron Warren, “Sins Of The Ancestors” Dead Sea Fruit
Kaaron Warren, “The Coral Gatherer” Dead Sea Fruit
Kaaron Warren, “Hive Of Glass” Baggage
David Witteveen, “Perfect Skin” Cthulhu’s Dark Cults

And those in the Anthology:

RJ Astruc: “Johnny and Babushka”
Peter M Ball: “L’esprit de L’escalier”
Alan Baxter: “The King’s Accord”
Jenny Blackford: “Mirror”
Gitte Christensen: “A Sweet Story”
Matthew Chrulew: “Schubert By Candlelight”
Bill Congreve: “Ghia Likes Food”
Rjurik Davidson: “Lovers In Caeli-Amur”
Felicity Dowker: “After the Jump”
Dale Elvy: “Night Shift”
Jason Fischer: “The School Bus”
Dirk Flinthart: “Walker”
Bob Franklin: “Children’s Story”
Christopher Green: “Where We Go To Be Made Lighter”
Paul Haines: “High Tide At Hot Water Beach”
L.L. Hannett: “Soil From My Fingers”
Stephen Irwin: “Hive”
Gary Kemble: “Feast Or Famine”
Pete Kempshall: “Brave Face”
Tessa Kum: “Acception”
Martin Livings: “Home”
Maxine McArthur: “A Pearling Tale”
Kirstyn McDermott: “She Said”
Andrew McKiernan: “The Memory Of Water”
Ben Peek: “White Crocodile Jazz”
Simon Petrie: “Dark Rendezvous”
Lezli Robyn: “Anne-droid of Green Gables”
Angela Rega: “Slow Cookin’ ”
Angela Slatter: “The Bone Mother”
Angela Slatter & LL Hannett: “The February Dragon”
Grant Stone: “Wood”
Kaaron Warren: “That Girl”
Janeen Webb: “Manifest Destiny”

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Taking Stock.

Four stories out in the wilderness, awaiting the right home. Three sitting here that I'm not sure are ready to go out again. Several that are trunked, ready to be stripped and re-written if I feel the premise is any good. Two stories that need finishing. And many ready to go.

I have high hopes for three of the four that are currently out there. I'd like to believe three of these are strong enough to be picked up at the market they are currently waiting at. The other one?  Well, I'm not holding my breath on that one. Despite my initial enthusiasm for it, and even though I still really like it, others don't seem to be so keen on it.

The three that need to go out again will get a look over, and a possible tweaking or rewrite.
The trunked stories can stay there for now.  They need too much work. The two stories I'm working on are shaping up well. I'm very happy with their progress. And the couple of stories I'm ready to start writing only need me to find time between marking and other school work as we head towards the end of term. One of these stories will require a reasonable amount of reading and research.

I received page proofs for my story from Keith Stevenson for the upcoming Anywhere But Earth. Boy, is it dangerous to go back and look at older stories. Already I've seen several sentences I'd like to rewrite, but I must resist.

Apart from that, the story looks great in print, and the whole collection should be fantastic.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Polite Self Promotion.

I've been thinking about heading up to Sydney for the launch of Coeur De Lion's anthology,  Anywhere But Earth. It looks like this will occur in November, but I'm waiting for confirmation.

I'm also planning on heading to Canberra for Conflux in October.

Conventions have served me well, over the past few years. I've met a range of interesting people with whom I have regular communication, I've met and become friendly with a number of publishers, editors and writers, I've attended workshops that have improved my knowledge and writing and, most importantly, I've made friends in areas (both writing and SF fandom) that often tend to be insular activities.

Never underestimate the value of networking.

The important thing to remember, though, is to be genuine, be polite and to give as much as you take.

I've seen a few people who seem to head straight for the 'important' people, and totally ignore us small people. I've also had famous writers whose work I own ask me if I'd like to share a meal with them.

I saw Lee Childs on The First Tuesday Book Club, and he said this.
Well, what I found is that every single thing sells books. Everything you do sells books. The question is, is it economically effective? I mean, I once met a fan who had all the books, wanted all the books signed, and sometimes I ask them, do you remember why you picked up this book? And she said, "I saw you at a conference and you opened a door for somebody and I thought, what a polite gentleman. I'll try his book." Every single thing works.
Manners and presentation are vital.

I know of a couple of writers whose work I haven't bought simply because I've seen them be rude, or present poorly at public events.

If you get along to the Anywhere But Earth launch, look for me.  I'll be the one who isn't saying anything, but standing looking like an idiot with mouth agape. After all, I'm still stunned  to be included in that book with writers I admire.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Empirical Strikes Back.

Over at the Writers of the Future forums, there seems to be quite a discussion on what kind of stories have had success in the competition. Not only do I mean the genre, such as hard SF vs. yet another vampire story, but the form of the writing, such as first person vs. third person, past tense vs present tense, how many words winning stories have had, titles and structure.

While it appears as though the judges do prefer particular styles of stories and formats, attempting to quantify and create a formula for your writing isn't the way to go.

Yes, some stories are going to suit WOTF more than others will (And don't forget that although it is treated as a competition, it is ultimately a market trying to fill an anthology) but the truth is they do reward well written, well told stories.

You should be writing your stories in the tense and POV that best serves the story. And use as many words as it takes.