Monday, October 31, 2011


I've posted before about how great it is to be part of the Aussie Spec Fic community. They are generally courteous, professional, supporting and encouraging.

They are also very talented.

It's no surprise that Australia is so successful in the Writers of the Future contest. In fact, Australians win more WOTF awards per entry than any other country. Sean Williams told me that.

And our small press is alive and healthy. Quietly producing quality anthologies and collections with hardly a blip on the radar.

And so congratulations must go to Alisa Krasnostein at Twelfth Planet Press on winning the World Fantasy Award (Non-professional).

I often hear of writers that sub to small press magazines and anthologies but don't buy any.

Support the writers, support the small press, subscribe to a magazine or buy a couple of books. Twelfth Planet is a great place to start.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Most Excellent Week.

Yes, I'm still grinning. Anywhere But Earth is beautiful, lovely to look at and hold. And now that I'm reading it, I find it even more delightful (and I haven't even reached my story yet!)

It seems to be doing well on Amazon, having climbed many thousands in their ranking system (although that could reflect only a handful of sales) and has broken into the top 100 of Amazon's SF Anthology list.

It's available in eBook and paperback here.

And, of course, I'm heading up to Sydney for the launch next Saturday. (info here) Hope to see you there.

But beyond that, I've received very positive feedback on a story (send positive vibes in that direction, please), rewritten and subbed two more, and subbed a third that was just waiting for the right market.

Which means I now have TEN stories out in the submission wildwoods.

And that is a personal record.

I am cautiously optimistic for at least three of those stories. And I expect to hear back from editors on a couple in the next week or so.

But then again, submission land is a strange and weird place that works in mysterious ways.

Speaking of which, two excellent posts on submission caught my attention this week. Tehani Wessely and Alisa Krasnostein are both lovely people and excellent editors, and I'm not just saying that because I'm hopeful of selling stories to their presses. I would point out I met them at Worldcon last year, and they certainly have their evil sides, as in when they held me down and forced me to purchase their books.

But they are currently producing high quality anthologies through their award winning and respected presses, FableCroft and Twelfth Planet

If you're interested in subbing, and doing it right, the advice in these posts is invaluable.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anywhere But Earth.

I am pleased to announce that Anywhere But Earth is available now, in paperback and eBook. (here)

Publisher Coeur De Lion (Keith Stevenson) is well respected in small press. His last anthology, X6, won a number of awards around the world.

I'm thrilled to be part of this TOC, along with names such as Rob Hood, Margo Lanagan, Richard Harland, Kim Westwood, Cat Sparks, and - heck, there's too many. Here's the TOC.

Margo Lanagan ‘Yon Horned Moon’
Richard Harland ‘An Exhibition of the Plague’
Sean McMullen ‘Spacebook’
Lee Battersby ‘At The End There Was a Man’
Jason Nahrung ‘Messiah on the Rock’
Angela Ambroz ‘Pyaar Kiya’
Kim Westwood ‘By Any Other Name’
Brendan Duffy ‘ Space Girl Blues’
Steve de Beer ‘Psi World’
Robert Hood ‘Desert Madonna’
Cat Sparks ‘Beautiful’
Penny Love ‘Sibo’
Wendy Waring ‘Alien Tears’
Simon Petrie ‘Hatchway’
Jason Fischer ‘Eating Gnashdal’
Robert N Stephenson ‘Rains of la Strange’
Alan Baxter ‘Unexpected Launch’
Chris McMahon ‘Memories of Mars’
Mark Rossiter ‘The Caretaker’
Liz Argall ‘Maia Blue is Going Home’
Calie Voorhis ‘Murmer’
Damon Shaw ‘Continuity’
Donna Maree Hanson ‘Beneath the Floating City’
Patty Jansen ‘Poor Man’s Travel’
Tristan Davenport ‘Oak with the Left Hand’
Colum Paget ‘Pink Ice in the Jovian Rings’
Erin Stocks ‘Lisse’
William Wood ‘Deuteronomy’
Steve Cameron ‘So Sad, the Lighthouse Keeper’

An excellent anthology that is sure to win awards.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Critters And Varmints.

Critiquing is a weird kind of thing for me. My first experience with having someone critique my writing wasn't too good, and I'm afraid it put me off critting for a long time.

I was at a workshop, and although people generally liked my story, there were lots of comments made about how the story could be improved. The biggest problem was probably me - as a newbie I didn't have the experience to discern which comments I should pay attention to, and which I should ignore. And so I tried to change everything that had been suggested. I did it, and then I realised I'd torn the soul out of the story and I went back to my earlier draft and revised it according to what I thought.

But fortunately I've grown through that, and now have a few regular readers and critters.

Firstly, it's your story. Pay attention to the readers and critters, but ultimately the story needs to be in your voice and you have to decide which, if any, changes you make.

Secondly, you have to find people you trust. I've had critters tell me things that were just complete nonsense.

Thirdly, some of your critters need to be peers, or writers that are more advanced than you. You need people to pull you up, experienced writers that know where problems lie in your writing, and how they can be solved. I've got some readers who can tell me the story doesn't quite work for them, but can't explain why. Be aware that readers (who are not writers) may well reflect your final reading audience, and so if they can't understand something then perhaps it's confusing for others too.

Fourthly, be prepared to crit in return.  Now this is where I always have a problem until I get to know the other writer.  How harsh do they want me to be? How pedantic? Some people get offended by comments that could be perceived as negative. I even saw a request for critting recently that said they didn't want any negative comments as they've had enough of those already and just wanted people who would tell him which parts were good. Hmmm - can't see that being much help.

But mostly, at least consider the crits. Be open to them. There's a reason comments are being made.  I had someone crit a story for me last week, and told me I needed to lose the first three paragraphs. I resisted for a while, and then  finally relented and cut them. And damn that varmint's eyes, the story improved dramatically.

Keep an eye out for that story - it should be available soon. More information when I can confirm it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Aurealis, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

I see that Aurealis magazine is about to become a monthly e-pub, adding two stories to the current AurealisXpress.

I must say I'm extremely disappointed at this move. And to these eyes, it looks as though the statement on the Aurealis website is more an attempt at rationalisation than a preferred business decision. I believe that print magazines are still vital and necessary. I am fully aware that there are quality e-mags out there (Intergalactic Medicine Show, for example) but I'm convinced that traditional publications offer quality control, checks and balances and a respect that are often missing from e-mags. After all, anyone can stick a story on the net and claim it's published. (And I'm not for a minute suggesting that Aurealis will lessen it's approach to selecting stories.) Maybe I'm lodged firmly in the 20th century, but even discounting the e-pub aspect (and I realise that there may be financial considerations at play) I don't think a monthly magazine of two stories is the way to go.

One of my goals has been to get published in Aurealis - a magazine I first picked off the newsstand with issue 2 back in 1990. I've subbed a few times since I commenced writing a couple of years ago, and made shortlists for issues before being rejected. I'll always regret not making the print issues of this mag.

(And I'm still missing Issue 37 to complete the set, if anyone can help me.)

Will I be re-subscribing now that it's changed?  I doubt it. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I suspect a lot of others will feel the same way I do.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What's Happening.

Conflux was great. I had a wonderful time up in Canberra and met and hung out with a lot of cool people, certainly way cooler than I am. Peter and I spent an extra day up there, visiting the War Museum and getting kicked out when they closed. We still hadn't seen everything. It's a must-see if you're ever in Canberra.

I arrived home, spent a day here recovering from Con-Lag before driving to Rye to spend a couple of days with my wife. We took our dogs, our bikes and even rode to Blairgowrie and back. Drove home this afternoon, and I'm currently getting ready to return to work tomorrow.

On the writing front, all is going well. I currently have seven stories out in sub-land, which is the most I've ever had at the one time, I've booked my flight to Sydney for the launch of Anywhere But Earth, and I'm all fired up about my writing and ready to write more.

Oh yeah, and I finally joined Facebook after a couple of people twisted my arm. They say it'll be good for me.

It's John's birthday. Raise a glass.....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

When I Was Up In Canberra.

Last week was insanely busy.

I finished the school term, and then had three days in which to write two assignments for university, and prepare three stories for submission.

I finished writing one story, rewrote both it and another, then tweaked a third - subbing them all before the deadline.  The assignments were also submitted just in time.  And then I was able to relax.

It rained the entire eight hour drive up to Conflux, but we had a great time - taking it in turns to choose CDs and talking crap. It was dark by the time we got here, and the map we had wasn't ideal. But we found our hotel and the room is fine, and pretty soon we were catching up with familiar faces in the lounge.

So far the con has been a lot of fun. I attended a writing workshop which just confirmed my current practices, and introduced me to a few new ideas as well.

I also picked up a copy of the Year's Best Australian Horror and Fantasy, in which I am listed on the Recommended Reading List, and name-checked on page 22. The paragraph describes Festive Fear as being a macho collection, which is something I can see and agree with. I would like to point out, however, that I don't believe my story, Ghost of the Heart, fits that label.

No major problems so far, apart from the lousy service in one restaurant. If you're ever there, make sure they have the ingredients before they take your order. Not only were they delivering the meals of people who placed their orders well after mine, but it took another twenty minutes before they told me I couldn't have what I wanted.

Still, if that's the biggest problem I have in my life, then I don't really have much to worry about.