Sunday, December 29, 2013

The End (Of The Year) Is Nigh.

Now is the time of year we traditionally reflect on the previous 12 months.

I made big plans for this year, and I had high hopes of achieving them all.  In some ways I feel as though I've failed as I barely made a dint on the list. Life happened - it was a difficult and busy year - and some writing had to be sacrificed.

And yes, I recognise it's a matter of priorities and I could have done more, had I chosen.

On the other hand, I made some great sales, including my first pro-sale.

Next year. I promise I'll do more next year.

Have a great New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Down Under Merry Christmas.

Peace on Earth, goodwill to all.

I saw this somewhere yesterday, probably in a shop window or something. Quite a good sentiment but the cynical side of me questions its attainability. (attainableness?)

Christmas is traditionally seen as a Christian event, although now it's generally accepted as being more widespread than that. I'm not one of those that thinks carols should be banned because they contain a Christian message, or that we should say 'Happy Holidays' instead of Merry Christmas. Leave the tradition as it is, and accept it for what it is.

I grew up in a church environment, although that's not where my beliefs lie now. Each year I look forward to the Christmas season and enjoy its sense of goodwill.

Now all we have to do is extend that feeling to the rest of the year.

Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Calm Before The Storm.

A short post this week, mostly because I've been a tour guide for visiting relatives (from the U.K.) and haven't had much time to sit down and write anything. I'm currently sitting in the kitchen typing this and it's still early and quiet. Only my brother-in-law beat me up, but I think he's jet-lagged still. He's on another laptop writing emails to home. Business? Family? Friends?  I have no idea, but even in holiday mode on the other side of the world life goes on around us.

We've been out and about a bit checking out the native animals and local sights. It's a strange thing to see these familiar things through the eyes of first time visitors. There's a freshness, a new appreciation that fills me and inspires me.

The others have started rising now, and the house is no longer quiet. They're bustling, and trying to engage us in conversation while we'd like just another half hour of peace and quiet. And in an hour or so we'll all be off on another day of adventures.

My holidays are off to a great start. How about yours?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Tin Soldier Rides Away.

When I was a high school student, they occasionally dragged us off to a cinema somewhere to show us a film. In those days DVDs and videos simply didn't exist, and if they wanted to show a film in school they had to rent the reels and have a licenced projectionist on staff.

I remember they took us to see 12 Angry Men. I presume that was for Legal Studies, although it was the 70s and anything was possible. We saw Macbeth, the playboy version with the three naked witches. I'm pretty sure this was for English. And then for some bizarre reason they even showed us No Blade of Grass, a post-apocalyptic survival film. I have no idea what that was in connection with.

But the one I remember most, the one that had the biggest impact on me was Billy Jack. 

I haven't seen it since, but I fondly recall the story of a Native American Vietnam Veteran defending a bunch of kids and teachers at a 'free' curriculum school from a bunch of rampaging, racist rednecks.

The writer, director, star of that film, Tom Laughlin, passed away a couple of days ago. He was 82 years old, and still married to Dolores Taylor, his co-star/co-writer in Billy Jack. They'd been together since 1954.

I've read a couple of comments that the themes in Billy Jack are outdated and confused, as the peace/love thing fails while Billy Jack has to resort to violence in order to win. But I don't remember it like that. I recall the story being about how sometimes you have to stand up against the bully, about how justice fails those who have defended the country, and how patriotism comes in different shapes and sizes.

Billy Jack only fought back because the local rednecks pushed him into it, after a rape and a murder, and someone had to stand up for the kids. And the horses.

Yes, there were horses.

And, as Billy Jack was taken away by the police after surrendering, he was given a guard of honour by the kids, fists raised in salute, while the song One Tin Soldier was played.

I must watch this again soon, to see exactly how much it has dated.

Monday, December 16, 2013

All Over Bar The Shouting.

Deadlines loom, and few of them have to do with writing. Which is why this post is a day late.

Guests are visiting over Christmas and there has been a lot of work to get done around the house. The kitchen has been renovated, mostly by me (although I did call in a tradie friend for the measuring and straight cutting parts) but a couple of problems meant its completion is coming down to the wire. The garden is looking fabulous. It's full of colour and a lovely place to sit and relax, which I hope to have time to do soon.

School is about done for the year - a few days left. Reports are being compiled, programs for next year are being written, meeting are being held, the passive voice is being used. Free time calls me.

And then I must get some writing done. Don't worry, editors, I haven't forgot you. The deadlines will be met.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tales Of Marrakesh.

I love waking up to acceptance emails.

Alban Lake, publisher of Outposts of Beyond, has bought another of my stories. I love this story. Not only is it a twist on the Aladdin tale, but elements of the story actually happened to me when I was in Marrakesh with my wife.

A magical city, a magical time.

I now have four stories scheduled for publication in the first four months of next year.

A pretty good start to 2014, don't you think?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Make Your Own Future.

When I was in high school  I had a part time job in a supermarket. Thirty three years ago today, I was out the back of the store doing some menial task when someone told me John Lennon had been shot.

Many times over the years I've wondered what could have been.

Lennon had just released his first album in five years, and while it's no classic it was certainly more accessible than his previous few releases. At least the tracks that were his were.

It certainly seems as though Lennon was finally open to a Beatles reunion. We can only speculate as to whether they would have even come close to the quality of their previous output should they have entered a recording studio once more.

There are many other rumours about John's personal life that may have led him in different directions. And again we can only wonder.

But we have what we have. And we can play the 'what if' game with plenty of others. Hendrix, Cobain, and Morrison.

And writers. What if Salinger or Capote had written more? What if Philip K Dick had lived past the premiere of Blade Runner?

What if I had started writing twenty years earlier?

We have what we have. We are who we are. I'm here, right now, doing this. And if I don't produce more, then that's no one's fault but mine. Do I have a novel ready to burst from me? Will it even sell?

Stick around. We might find out together.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Come From A Land Down Under.

I had a bit of free time with one of my boys' classes this week and so I showed them a little bit of Star Wars Downunder.

Not only is it superbly done with high production values, but it's funny and catches the ocker stereotype brilliantly. I loved it, my students really liked it, but as we watched I became aware they didn't 'get' it all.

Very few Australians really speak like that all the time, and even fewer do so now than they did 4o years ago. Watch a bit of Smiley, or Paul Hogan Show, or even Kingswood Country, and you'll see characters, albeit exaggerated to the nth degree, speaking and behaving that way.

But with globalisation, the invasion of U.S. media and TV, and our own knee-jerk reaction to the 80s cultural cringe, our kids no longer even recognise half these expressions or idioms.

Nor did they 'get' all the Aussie jokes and references.

Which is sad. It's part of our history, part of our culture, and although I never spoke like that (despite last Sunday's post) I used some of those terms and could recognise the historical references.

We're homogenising. And I think that's fair dinkum sad.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stone The Crows, Cobber!

Fair dinkum!

For those that don't know me personally, I'm Australian. I was born in Scotland but I emigrated here with my parents when I was about one year old. And despite having lived virtually all my life here, apart from a six year stint in Japan, and identifying myself as Australian, it was only a couple of months ago that I actually took up citizenship.

So yes, I'm a true-blue, dinky-di Aussie.

And so I was thrilled to receive my contributor copy of Outposts Of Beyond #2 this week, and find the fantastic blurb the editor, Tyree Campbell, had written for my story, The God Thing.
"You may have noticed that Steve Cameron tends to take matters just a bit over the edge. We call it pushing the envelope, or thinking outside the box. I’m not sure what they call it in Australia, where Steve lives and writes and says things like “Crikey” and “Fair dinkum,” and drinks beer out of schooners. But he has a way with ideas. Here he blends science fiction and theology. Or is it the other way around?"

Yup, that pretty much nails it. Except that in my state we drink beer from 'pots', not 'schooners'.

I will add that the two main characters in this story are based on two people I know rather well, and their theological discussions are based on conversations I've been part of.

It's available in e-format and print.

Fair dinkum indeed.