Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nine Thousand Divided By Four?

I never did get that story started on the weekend.

My computer decided it was time to crash, and so I spent much of the day saving files from the C drive (they were all backed up, but it was good to make sure I kept everything in its very latest form) then rebuilding the machine.

I'm one of those unfortunate enough to have had the issues with Windows 7 on their system. Whenever it's loaded, the machine locks on a black screen. About a year ago, I worked out how to fix it. Unfortunately I didn't take notes and this time it wouldn't work for me. Eventually I gave up and installed an older Windows.

Then I started installing all the software I need. Of course that didn't run smoothly either. I found the Office installation disc, and that was fine, but for the life of me I couldn't find the pocket it came in. And that's where the product key is printed. (Yes, legitimate software here.)

I did eventually find it, on Monday night, but by then I was tied up with work stuff. I made sure I found the time to tweak the story I'd written for the Jack Dann workshop, but beyond that I still hadn't written my words.

Of course Saturday is the 30th, and the end of the month is the natural time to close subbing periods. I had a brainwave for one antho on the weekend, which you may have noticed my peers decided to discuss in the comments section of my last post, but no ideas for the other.

And now it's happened. I've had an idea. Which means I should write two fresh stories and rewrite another by Friday night - all ready for subbing on Saturday. I completed the first draft of one last night, and I'm pretty happy with that, but it still needs a lot of work.

I can do it. I know I can. If Sean Williams can write 784 Star Wars novels in 18 months, I can manage 9,000 words in a few days.

Can't I?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Slowly Getting There

There's an upcoming themed anthology that I would very much love to be a part of.  The reading period closes next week, and so far I've only had the merest glimmer of an idea for a story that would suit.

This morning, while walking my dogs, my thoughts turned to a conversation I had with a couple of friends recently. We'd had a fabulous dinner, a few glasses of wine, and we were all very relaxed. The discussion turned to quantum mechanics and all things metaphysical. And then I recalled a conversation with an old girlfriend many, many years ago in which she told me of an experience she'd once had. A more complete story started to gel in my mind.

I returned home, threw some Bob Dylan on the CD player (Slow Train Coming seemed appropriate for a Sunday morning), and sat outside with a cup of coffee. And my mind went to work.

A good dose of The Beatles found its way into the story mix, a few more weird ideas, and suddenly I find myself with a plot.

I know what I'm doing today.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Deck The Halls.

I have a story, Softly Sing The Stars, in the eMergent anthology Deck the Halls.  (Edited by Jodi Cleghorn with fabulous art by Andrew McKiernan).

Due for release in July, the collection is now available for pre-order at the ridiculously low special price of $15.99 plus shipping (Australia only). The book will be made available to overseas readers a little later.

Table of Contents:

Touched - Rowena Specht-Whyte
Drench the School - Benjamin Solah
Coming Home - Rebecca Dobbie
While You Were Out - Sam Adamson
Twenty-Five - Rebecca Emin
A Jolly Pair - Christopher Chartrand
Gays and Commies - Graham Storrs
A Better Fit - Jen Brubacher
Salvation - Nicole R Murphy
A Troll for Christmas - Jo Hart
Modraniht - Kate Sherrod
Bosch’s Book of Trolls - Susan May James
‘Til Death Do Us Part - Emma Kerry
High Holidays - Dale Challener Roe
The Headless Shadow - Jonathan Crossfield
End of a Tradition - Paul Servini
Weatherboy - Nik Perring
Not a Whisper - Lily Mulholland
Lords of the Dance - Janette Dalgliesh
Through Frosted Glass - Laura Meyer
Midsummer’s Eve - Stacey Larner
Yuletide Treasure - Rob Diaz II
Broken Angel - Jodi Cleghorn
A Golden Treasure - Chia Evers
Fast Away - Jim Bronyaur
Apprentices to Time - Icy Sedgwick
Unfolding - Alison Wells
Egg-Ceptional - PJ Kaiser
Hail the New - Trevor Belshaw
Perfect Light - Dan Powell
Softly Sing the Stars - Steve Cameron
Through Wind and Weather - David McDonald

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vale: Victor Spinetti.

Victor Spinetti has passed away.

A fine comedy and character actor, he was an under-rated talent who never quite achieved the fame he should have.

He had roles in three Beatles movies -  The TV director in A Hard Day's Night, Professor Foot in Help! and the Army Sergeant in Magical Mystery Tour. Spinetti continued working in film and television until around 5 years ago. From all accounts he was a charming gentleman that the fab four admired and respected.

He was 82 years old.

If You Give This Girl A Ride.

I've just realised that my story, If You Give This Girl A Ride, has been published in Cover of Darkness #11. It slipped in under the radar, as I wasn't expecting it to be released for quite some time yet.

The print version can be found here, and it should shortly be available in e-form, here.

Ironically, this story is set after another story in the sequence, Drive, She Said, which has been sold but is yet to be published. It shouldn't make any real difference, though. It is stand alone, and rather than If You Give This Girl A Ride being a sequel, Drive, She Said is now a prequel.

I think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pops Off The Page.

As an English teacher, I see a lot of student work. Not just writing, but work from other subject areas that tend to be displayed around the school - especially work from the creative fields.

I see their artwork, sculptures, photography, design items, dressmaking and sometimes their cooking. I see (and hear)  their musical and dramatic performances, and even hear their (often faltering and occasionally  amusing) attempts in German.

Last week I visited a gallery of students' photography. I was impressed by a number of pieces, but as I left I realised there were a couple of photos that stood out way above the rest. Photos that very obiously had a certain something. Not just good, but artistic. The difference between a person who takes photos and an artist. And this is something I see in my students' writing all the time. One or two pieces of writing that 'pops off the page'. The narrative may be immature, the grammar or spelling weak,  but I can see something there that draws me in.

I see it in other writers' work as well. And I see some writers who can barely string a sentence together.

Why are we so unaware of our own abilities? I know I waver (and sometimes swing wildly) between thinking I can write and then (usually after reading someone else's brilliant work) thinking my words are illiterate ramblings.

Maybe this is why, as writers, we need external endorsement and validation. Awards nominations, sales, a kind and encouraging word from a peer (or better yet from someone we look up to), and even positive feedback in a rejection slip.

I have some idea of my strengths in my writing. I'm also developing a discernment, an understanding of areas in which I need to develop. And I continue to work at improving all areas of my fiction.

And it is improving. I have external benchmarks that assure me of this. If only I had more time to write more frequently.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pain And Procrastination.

In traditional stories, fairies come at night and sweep up, or sew buttons and so on. Why isn't there a fairy that comes at night to mark student work and writes my reports for me?

I have a colleague who tells me her house is always spotless at this time of year, simply because she'll find something, anything to do rather than write reports. I'm much the same - but without the spotless house. The internet is a huge distraction. Funnily enough, I don't work on short stories at this time. I'd feel guilty knowing I hadn't finished my reports. And so neither gets done.

But there comes a point where I can no longer put it off, and I have to finish them up.  Teachers know what I'm talking about.

See you on the other side.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Socially Active?

As someone who is firmly planted well within the twentieth century, I've had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the social networking world.

Blogs I could understand. This one has been maintained regularly for four years, and over that time I've seen a gradual rise in the number of hits and return visits.

Thank you.

Facebook and other media I've deliberately avoided. In fact, I was proud I wasn't on Facebook. Finally, late last year, I felt the time had arrived where I'd have to join. As a writer, it's vital to have an online presence. As a teacher, it is important for me to stay current and see how my students are communication and socialising. I was told that it was up to me how I often I visited and what I posted. I originally thought my account would be used simply about writing, but what I've learned is that it's not called social media for nothing.

I get annoyed when people use their account simply to post about their stories, sales and so on. I don't mind a bit of it, but it can't be all. And so I've had to learn the 'unwritten rules.' I think I'm getting better at it.

Twitter still eludes me, although a friend thinks I need to be there also. I've succumbed to Instagram, which I am enjoying. Again, I need to learn the 'unwritten rules'. But I'm getting there. (By the way, feel free to follow me - my account name is 'Nihilon')

As for where all this stuff leads? I have no idea. But I'm now in the 21st century, and I'm along for the ride.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ditmars And Chronii.

My first awards night, at least the first one where I was nominated. And it's a real thrill to hear your name called out as part of the shortlist.

I told Jo Anderton and Alan Baxter I was hoping for a three-way tie. At least that's what I told them. I didn't really mean it. Jo deservedly won the Ditmar for Best New Talent. Elsewhere Paul Haines won the Chronos for Best Short Story with his amazing story, The Past Is A Bridge Best Left Burnt.

OK, so I would have loved either one of those little trophies, but the truth is Jo and Paul both deserved them for their work, and no-one can begrudge either of them. I've been writing for only about two and a half years, so simply to be nominated was a thrill and a validation.

Congratulations to all other winners, and look out for me in the future.

It's A Vibe.

Sunday morning, and it's latte and breakfast on Lygon Street. It's been a very, very long time since I've been down here this early, perhaps 25 years or more. A very different vibe to the evenings. Most of the customers are seated inside, but I'm out under the umbrellas. Me and one other customer - a guy who wouldn't be out of place on the set of The Sopranos.

Lygon Street is, after all, Little Italy.

Continuum is rocking along nicely. The panels have been great, but as any regular attendee knows, most of the best stuff happens elsewhere. Usually in the bar.

Had a great time last night, getting to know some new people and catching up with familiar faces. It's an absolute thrill when someone approaches you and introduces themself because they read your story, or your blog, or saw you on a panel or heard your name. I know I've introduced myself to a few people over the past few days for those very reasons.

And there's a vibe. A really cool, exciting vibe. The one thing I keep getting, from panels and conversations is this.

These are exciting times for Australian speculative fiction. The golden age of the small press. And we have some exciting writers emerging, some great projects happening and fun times ahead.

And remember, whatever happens on Con, usually ends up on the internet within minutes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vale: Bob Welch.

There are reports that Bob Welch has been found dead.

When I was a teenager, I used to stay over at a friend's house some Friday nights. We'd stay up real late, listening to albums and making toast. He was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, and so I became a fan also.

Most of the Fleetwood Mac albums we listened to were from their pre Stevie and Lindsey days. As such I grew to love Kiln House, Mystery To Me, Heroes Are Hard To Find and Penguin. In fact, Jewel Eyed Judy was probably the first songs I ever learned on guitar. Bob Welch was the guitarist on those albums. He left before they hit it big in the U.S.

Afterwards he had a hit single with Ebony Eyes. Not exactly my cup of tea, but decent enough pop. Since then? I have no idea what he's been up to.

But I thank him for his contributions to those four great albums.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vale: Ray Bradbury.

Ray Bradbury has left us at the age of 91, and I've just realised how long it's been since I read any of his work.

I loved Fahrenheit 451, enjoyed I Sing The Body Electric, and struggled through The Martian Chronicles. I'm sure I've read more, but I can only recall those at the moment. I don't remember much about Chronicles - except that I had a hard time of it. My excuse is I was young. I do recall Kenny Everett making a joke that I found very funny as a teenage boy. Captain Kremmen once described someone as being "so low he could kick a Martian in the chronicles."

So I'll add that to my 'to read' stack and give it another shot now that I'm older.

There's no denying Bradbury's influence in the genre. R.I.P. Ray.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I've Been Snapshotted.

Yes, as an English teacher I know that's not the correct word,  but it seems to be the term a number of other participants have used when their interview has gone live as part of Snapshot 2012.

I was privileged to have been invited to participate, and to be interviewed by Tehani Wessely of FableCroft. (The editor of the terrific anthology, Epilogue)

You can find my interview here.

But don't forget to check out all the interviews, hosted on the following sites. They truly are fantastic.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy To Be Rejected.

Can you get excited about a rejection? I did. It was a personal rejection from one of the 'big-three' pro markets, direct from the editor-in-chief.

I've had rejections from this market before - the standard form rejections, but this time it had a few comments about the writing and the request to see more of my writing.  Of course this doesn't mean my work will sell there anytime soon, but it does mean that for the first time my story made it past the readers. And there was enough there for the Grand Poobah to comment on before rejecting it. I see that as a victory.

On top of that I sold another story. It's a story I love, a story that had a few 'almost but not quites' from markets I want to break into. A quick rejig and it was off again to another market. And I still have two stories on hold elsewhere - and yes, (fingers crossed) I have hopes for at least one of those to be picked up.

My contributor copy of Epilogue arrived this week, and it's beautiful. It's shiny and new and I love it. My preciousssss. I've just turned the final page, and I must say it's a fantastic read. Congrats to my co-contributors. You can't really go too far wrong with a TOC that has the following names alongside my own: Thoraiya Dyer, Lyn Battersby, Joanne Anderton, Dirk Flinthart, Stephanie Gunn, Kaia Landelius, Dave Luckett, David McDonald, Jason Nahrung, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Elizabeth Tan. As Molly used to say, do yourself a favour and all that.

I'm also thrilled to have received a 5 star review for my Epilogue story, Fireflies.
Fireflies - Steve Cameron - Five stars.

Beautiful and emotive. A lovely journey that was set up well, and followed through wonderfully. I would love to see more in this world.

Snapshot 2012 is well underway, and I was interviewed for that a week or so ago. I'll post a link here when my interview appears. In the meantime checkout the previous post and get reading. Fascinating viewpoints from Australia's SpecFic community.

And I bought my own domain name. Did you notice stevecameron.com.au? And then there's Continuum 8 next weekend. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Does it get a whole lot better than this?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Snapshot 2012.

Every few years, a series of short interviews with members of the Australian SpecFic community is conducted and published online. The purpose is to get a 'snapshot' of the state of Australian SpecFic. Ben Peek started it all, way back in 2005 when he interviewed 43 people in a week. By 2007 the number of participants had almost doubled. The Snapshot was once again undertaken in 2010.

It's time for Snapshot 2012, and I feel completely honoured to have been interviewed.

Between 1st and 7th of June, a team of bloggers will daily be posting interviews with the participants of Snapshot 2012 across the following links:


This past year we lost two of our leading lights. Snapshot 2012 commences with tributes to Paul Haines and Sara Douglass.