Sunday, June 30, 2013

Distant Lands.

Once again I'm teaching Tim Winton's short story collection, Minimum of Two, to my senior students. This is about the fifth year in a row I've done so. I never tire of it and the writing never gets stale.

Want to learn how to write a short story without a word out of place and no excess? Read these stories.

Distant Lands, The Water Was Dark And It Went Forever Down, and No Memory Comes just to name a few. Brilliant. Concise. Descriptive. Detailed. Emotive. The writing is superb. Efficient use of words and layer upon layer of meaning.

If I could write half as well as Winton.....


It's enough just to read these stories. Go ahead. As Molly used to say, Do yourself a favour.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vale: Richard Matheson.

When I think back to films that scared me when I was young, there are two titles that leap into my mind. The original War of the Worlds is one, (I think I was very young), while Trilogy of Terror is the other. Especially the third segment, Amelia.

It was only a few years ago I realised Trilogy of Terror was based on three unrelated short stories written by Richard Matheson. I was reading a collection of his short stories, and one of those pieces felt very familiar.

I went and rewatched Trilogy of Terror, and it had held up surprisingly well. The first two segments were better than I remembered them, and the third section still held suspense. (OK, the doll was a little unconvincing in these CGI days.)

He also wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone, as well as Rod Serling's famous introduction. And then there's the other TV stuff, and the movies, and...

Richard Matheson was 87. He will be missed.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


There's been a fair amount of chatter about the GOH speech given by N.K. Jemisin at Continuum 9. I've seen a variety of comments on the net. I fall firmly on the 'praise' side of the fence.

I was at the speech, and I'm glad I was. It was powerful and I was emotionally moved by it. And if you weren't there, you should read it. And hopefully someone has video or audio of the entire speech. (I've heard there's a copy that's missing the first couple of minutes.)

I've written before about recognising our Australian SF heritage. And I've read a couple of histories of the genre's history in Australia. So yes, I realise that our heritage consists of more than the post-war male authors we hear so much about. (Not that they aren't part of our heritage, but they're not the be all and end all.)

I've looked at Aboriginal mythology, although probably not as much as I should have, and I've read a little current SF by Aboriginal writers. I probably don't know enough about the cultural diversity of the Australian writers whose work I currently read. I'd certainly be interested in learning of any Aboriginal SF authors (past or present) whose work I've missed.

I chose not to actively participate in the Australian Women Writer's Challenge, not because I don't think it's an excellent promotion (which it is), but simply because I read so much work by Australian women authors anyway. I would suspect women authors comprise around 60% of my reading.

I read a lot of writers from other cultures and ethnicities. In the past six months I've read work by authors from Japan, Sri Lanka, India, China, South America, the U.S., Canada and New Zealand, as well as European countries, and, of course, Australia.

I don't actively search out these works, unless it's a country I'm planning to visit, but try to read as widely as possible. I don't really know whether any of these authors have disabilities, or what colour they are, or sexual orientations, or even, in some cases, their gender.

And ultimately it doesn't matter too much. I'm simply looking for great storytelling from a range of viewpoints. Diversity, in all its beauty.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Strange Things Are Afoot At The Circle K.

Report writing and the subsequent intensive proof-reading is enough to drive any sane teacher mad. Having read hundreds of these things in the past week, and the typos made, I now question the sanity of some of my colleagues. And that includes the ones I considered normal.

The current format for reports includes more information and data than anyone really needs. But I suppose information overload is the way of the world.

Proofreading is almost done, as is the term, which means I'll have a little more free time in the coming weeks. Good things, along with the strange, are indeed afoot. And I have hopes that a couple of opportunities will come to fruition.  I have a good feeling about a couple of these things.

Maybe it's just my post-birthday optimistic outlook.  Or maybe, just maybe, things might come together for me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Can You See It?

The future is in the palms of your hands.  Success, happiness, long life, health, wealth.

Or is it?

I've just returned from a weekend away celebrating my birthday. Eight old friends in a holiday house on the peninsula with great food, wine and merriment.

Moments to reflect. A lot of laughter. Much discussion on the past, the present and the future.

Prophecies or wishful thinking?

A milestone or a millstone?

Last week a student asked me about my life, and which five years were the happiest.  A mature question from one so young.

My answer?  The past five years.

All is well, all is good. Life is fun. I feel like I'm having successes and doing what I'm meant to be doing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Melbourne Noir Vampire Story.

My vampire story, Best Served Cold is now available in Disturbed #1. Alban Lake is a new publisher whose staff seems to consist of many of  Sam's Dot alumni. This quarterly digest was edited by the fabulous Terrie Leigh Relf, and I'm thrilled to have a story in the inaugural issue. It's also really cool to have my name on the cover and be featured in the advertising blurb.
"You’ll find some bent and tilted tales in the genres of dark fantasy, horror, and even some science fiction. Australian Steve Cameron’s “Best Served Cold” is a don’t-miss story. Other authors include Derek Muk, Adam Millard, David Gallay, James S. Dorr, and Marge Simon. And don’t miss the evocative “Cold War” by E. P. Fisher. So come get your spine tingled."
 Thanks Terrie and Alban.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm Late.

I post every Sunday and Wednesday, and mostly I've managed to keep to this schedule. Occasionally, for some reason or another, I miss a post. This time it was simply because I was at Continuum and I didn't really have internet access (or time).

But I'm home now from yet another fabulous weekend.  Great panels, great people and a lot of fun.

I don't really have time at the moment to delve further into the convention - perhaps I'll lash something together by Wednesday. Or maybe not.

But if I were to sum up the weekend for me in a single sentence?  I'm re-invigorated and re-inspired.

Thanks, Continuum.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'm Still Here.

I'm supposed to be at a meeting right now. The last committee meeting before Continuum next week. Unfortunately I never made it. Instead I spent three hours in the car park at the local supermarket trying to get my car started.

It was the starter motor that died. I did what I could, which admittedly isn't much. I checked all the things I thought it might be. The relays, the inhibitor sensor, the battery connections, even the battery in the key and the ignition switch connectors. Finally I called the RACV.  It took a little while for the mechanic to arrive, but he soon solved the problem and got it going. The car then went about 20 metres before it died again. Fortunately he was still around, started it again and then followed me most of the way home.

But now it's far too late to head to the meeting. By the time I arrive it would be in its death throes, and there's no guarantee my car would even make it there.

So I'm writing this instead.

Another rejection last night. Positive comments, and I can see why they didn't take it. A quick rewrite and it will go out again.  I have no doubts this story will sell.  It's just a feeling I have about it.

Facebook still hasn't responded to me. I've now taken the ironic step of sending a snail-mail to one of the world's largest and best known internet companies because there is virtually no way to contact them by email.

Unlike Alannis Morissette, it really would be ironic if this works.

And then it's back to work in the morning. I have my performance review tomorrow, so I need to look and feel my best in order to impress my bosses. 

Maybe I'll just bring chocolate instead.