Saturday, May 31, 2014

Continuum X.

Next weekend, Melbourne's Continuum will celebrate its 10th birthday. For those not familiar with it, "Continuum is an annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention celebrating creativity across genre and media. From hard-edge science fiction to high-flown fantasy, comic books to film noir, high culture to sub-culture… we sink our teeth into it all!" This year the convention is also host to Natcon, the 53rd Australian National Science Fiction Convention.

I love Continuum - not only for the panels and spending time with interstate friends, but the whole atmosphere of being with like-minded people.

I'm really excited to be involved in the following panels:

Seminal British SF Friday 22:30-23:30 with: Cat Sparks, Rob Hood, Narrelle Harris, Steve Cameron

The Aliens Are Too Human! Sunday 10:00-11:00 with: Alan Baxter, Steve Cameron, Darren Sanderson, Bismuth Hoban, Stacey Larner

YA - Meet the Authors Sunday 14:00-15:00 Steve Cameron interviewing:
Jim C. Hines, Tracy Joyce, Mary Borsellino

Not doing anything next weekend? There's still time to join.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Back, Forward And Now.

A time of reflection this week. A time to look back at where I've been and to look forward to where I'm going.

I spent several hours on the weekend in StreetView, virtually walking the old neighbourhoods in Tokyo. During my time there I lived in three different places, and so it was fun travelling up and down the old streets, trying to re-find places I used to frequent, and looking at what had changed. It made me nostalgic, and now I want to go back and walk those streets for real. I want to open my senses and take it all in again, this time afresh. I want to see the people that still live there, and catch up with old friends.

I've spent some time talking with a friend about my writing, and how I haven't written much recently. There are a number of reasons for that, and I'm planning to overcome those obstacles shortly. I also spent some time talking with the same friend about career moves, about my transition and what it's meant to both me and my teaching.

I've also spent time thinking about my own goals, personal, writing and career-wise. I'd made decisions about where I plan to be in the future in each of those areas, and I've pretty much re-affirmed those this week.

And I've spent time thinking of a couple of friends who are currently facing battles of different types.

I've looked to my inspirations, both people I've met and those who have inspired me. Some were/are mentors, some are friends who have done incredible things (and continue to do so), and some are people who wouldn't even know their influence on me.

I chatted tonight to one of those people. She's just done some fantastic things in education. But she won't be recognised for it by anyone, apart from a few colleagues. She might even be criticised by some for having a job with short hours, long holidays and too many complaints. Yeah, I've heard that a few times recently, and it gets old real quick. Walk a mile in my shoes, and so on...

But I can't complain. Life here continues to be good, and I'm grateful for what I have.
Now all I have to do is stop procrastinating and get writing again.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Do writers have nicknames? I know Hemingway was known as 'Papa', but nowadays?

I think I should have one. How about Lightning Fingers? Captain Keyboard? Blank Page Cameron?

Musicians love nicknames - especially those from a blues and jazz background. Canned Heat, for example, currently consist of Larry "The Mole" Taylor, Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra, Harvey "The Snake" Mandel and Dale Spalding.

I wonder if Dale feels left out?

Previous members include Bob 'The Bear' Hite, Alan 'Blind Owl' Wilson, Henry 'The Sunflower' Vestine, Mike 'Hollywood Fats' Mann, and Stanley 'The Baron' Behrens.

I've recently been teaching Holes (by Louis Sachar) to my students. The boys in the novel, all in juvenile detention, use nicknames rather than their own name to separate their prisoner selves from their outside-world selves. I spent some time discussing this with my students, who were generally proud of their own nicknames. I did feel a bit sorry for one kid who told me his own nickname, but probably didn't realise the real reason he had been given it.

When I was younger, most of my social circle (outside school) simply called me Cammo, a shortening of my surname. In High School, though, I was know as Soap. No, this had nothing to do with the hygiene of a teenage boy. There was a brand of soap at the time called Cameo. Cameo/Cameron - you can see where that came from.

In the Police Academy, my squadmates knew me as Kodak. (Cameron to Camera to Kodak). But since then I haven't really had a commonly used nickname.

I have one friend who calls me 'Small African Nation' (Cameron/Cameroon - get it?), or occasionally 'Acolyte Bill'. (A longer story there. He's a computer expert and became known as Guru Bob, although his name isn't even remotely similar to Bob. As his occasional sidekick, he made me his acolyte. Go figure!)

A few years ago some students started referring to me as Dr. C, or Cam Dog. I must admit I didn't discourage those. One student even started with Toyota (Cameron/Camry) but that never really caught on.

But after discussing Holes and nicknames with my students a few weeks ago, they approached me  this week with a new nickname they've chosen for me. Apparently while on an excursion, their bus passed a truck owned by Cameron Trucking.

I like it. And I love that they regard me well enough to create a nickname for me.

From now on, you may refer to me as Steve 'The Truck' Cameron.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Aaarrrgggggh! I know what I want to write in this post but the words just won't come out right.

I've been sitting here for the past hour writing sentences, deleting, writing more, deleting again, saving drafts, and it's all awful. More awful than usual.

I switched topics, tried a little on something else I wanted to write. No luck there. Same thing. I went back and looked at a different draft on another topic that I wrote a few days ago. Nope, that needs a bit of cleaning up and research before it's unleashed on the world.

I then came back to the new ones, and they're just not working for me. I can't put my finger on it exactly, they're just not saying what I intend them to say.

The frustrating thing is that tomorrow, or the next day, I could look at them again and sort them out in a moment. But for now...?

So these are the words that are flowing - a stream of consciousness as I sit here and sniffle.

I've been off work sick this week. Some sort of head cold. I'm doped up on a lemon and codeine drink, or something like that, and not really thinking straight.

Which, some would argue, is no different to usual.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Falling Short.

I am constantly amazed at how other authors sculpt words.

I read a wide variety of books - short stories, novels, series, non-fiction - across a variety of genres. And as I read, I find myself analysing whole sections, and trying to understand how the writer achieved certain effects. I've found this doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the text - I find it actually enhances it. The more I read, the more I realise I have to learn. And yes, I find it frustrates me from time to time. I'm filled with self doubts and feelings of writing inadequacy, but it's always followed by a determined optimism to learn and improve.

I'm currently writing a story that I really like. I like the ideas, the setting, the characters, but there are a couple of elements of storytelling I want to achieve that I haven't successfully managed to do.

But that's what the first draft is for. And the second draft will fix those parts, improve the story and the writing.

And hopefully, one day, all this will permeate my brain, and my first drafts will be closer to the second drafts.

Let's hope it's sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grain Of Truth.

Last week I listed a few podcasts to which I've started listening. Yesterday I suddenly realised I'd forgotten to include Grain Of Truth.

Grain Of Truth is a half-hour panel, quiz, comedy show created and convened by David Innes, with special guests who give speeches based on silly topics related to their field of expertise.

David is a good friend and colleague of mine. We've shared quite a few laughs, and at post-work drinks we've even gone as far as developing our own sitcom - complete with title, stereotypical characters, catchcries, and a theme song. Buy us a drink sometime, and if we remember the words we may even sing it for you.

David will tell you that he's not only amazingly talented, but exceedingly funny and physically agile as well. And who am I to disagree with that. Especially when I think he still owes me a drink.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Award Winning.

Congratulations to Eric J. Guignard on winning the 'Best Anthology' Bram Stoker award for his collection, After Death.

I am thrilled to have had my story, I Was The Walrus, included in this award winning collection.

Well done, Eric. And congratulations to all the other winners.


The winners of the Bram Stoker Awards® for 2013 were announced at the Awards Banquet on May 10, 2014, at the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend and World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon. The winners for superior achievement in each of the categories are:

Stephen King – Doctor Sleep (Scribner)

First Novel

Rena Mason – The Evolutionist (Nightscape Press)

Young Adult Novel
Joe McKinney – Dog Days (JournalStone)

Graphic Novel
Caitlin R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics)

Long Fiction
Gary Braunbeck – “The Great Pity” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards)

Short Fiction
David Gerrold – “Night Train to Paris” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan./Feb. 2013)

Glen Mazzara – The Walking Dead: “Welcome to the Tombs” (AMC TV)

Eric J. Guignard (editor) – After Death… (Dark Moon Books)

Fiction Collection
Laird Barron – The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Other Stories (Night Shade Books)

William F. Nolan – Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction (Hippocampus Press)

Poetry Collection
Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob, and Linda Addison – Four Elements (Bad Moon Books/Evil Jester Press)

The following awards were also presented:

The Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen Jones
R.L. Stine

The Specialty Press Award
Gray Friar Press

The Silver Hammer Award (for outstanding service to the Horror Writers Assn.)
Norman Rubenstein

The President’s Richard Laymon Service Award
JG Faherty

Let's Just See What Develops.

I was on a music forum this week where some of the fans were decrying a particular artist's latest effort. One in particular claimed that since the musician had such a good time making this music, it was for fun. And since it wasn't serious, he couldn't expect the fans to pay for it. The fun stuff should be free. And of course get back to what you used to do and just make more of that.

The writer continued with a comment about fans' expectations, and how the artist owes it to the fans to deliver what they expect.

I was astounded.

I'm sorry, but the musician owes you nothing. And that goes for artist, film-maker, and writer.

Artists grow, develop, change. Their heads are in very different places to where they were five, ten or twenty years ago. As are their lives, their experiences, their goals and talents. Their output reflects their world.

Would The Beatles be the name they are now if they'd continued to write variations of She Loves You into 1969? The majority of the beat bands from that era who couldn't develop are now forgotten.

Many people criticise artists who change and develop, but then they also criticise those who don't. Yeah, I do still love Status Quo though. Athough now Quo is reduced to making TV commercials for supermarkets.
(That's the good one. Try this one.)  (Oh, and this one sucks too.)

There is a part of me that wishes Philip K. Dick hadn't become fixated with Valis and the pink beam in 1974. He spent the rest of the decade focused on that, spent hours and hours writing 8,000 pages of exegesis as he attempted to make sense of his experiences. And then, of course, his fiction output decreased and the few novels he wrote were based around his studies.

Of course I love those books he did produce in that time, but I do wonder what could have been had he continued on his merry way.

But the point is he developed, he changed. We have what we have. And we should appreciate that.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Creepy And Kooky, Mysterious And Spooky.

Now that I actually have some time to listen to stuff as I drive to and from work, I've taken the opportunity to check out some podcasts that have been on my 'to listen' list for a while.

I've quickly become a fan of Eerie X, a podcast which, according to their website,  "discusses human subcultures and the oddities of our world. From the strange to the supernatural, the obscure to the absurd, the paranormal to the peculiar and the uncommon to the unthinkable. Eerie X, flogging the sacred cows of humanity."

Yup, that's right up my alley. 

When I was a kid, my Dad bought a book from Readers Digest which I devoured. I must have read it hundreds of times. Strange Stories, Amazing Facts is a collection of scientific, historical and paranormal oddities and mysteries. I still have it, and although some of the scientific stuff has dated, the rest of it holds up really well. I still haven't found a more recent book to supersede it. I also have a copy of A Book Of Beliefs, an overview of religions, sects, cults and beliefs. Together, these two books are great for dipping into, and pretty much sum up a major area of fascination for me.

So it should be no surprise the second podcast on my playlist is produced by a friend of mine with similar interests. Meat Mutant has developed into a show worth a regular listen. Joe and Emma, a couple of ex-Catholics and now staunch athiests from opposite sides of the world, broadcast their own form of irreligiosophy.

Then, of course, there's the speculative fiction podcasts that I've been planning on listening to for the longest time. I know some of these broadcasters personally, and the names involved speak for themselves. Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, is about to hit its 100th show. Congratulations on the Hugo nomination. An associated podcast, Galactic Chat, is a series of interviews with people within the speculative fiction field, while the Coode Street Podcast consists of conversations between Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe.

OK, so I have a lot of catching up to do. I simply never had time to sit and listen to these broadcasts.  But I'm loving what I've listened to so far and I'm really enjoying my driving time each day.

I'm sure there are lots of great podcasts out there, and I'm certainly open to recommendations. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 Chronos Awards Shortlist.

Congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted for a Chronos award. These works are all worthy and these names deserve to be on this list.

Having said that, this shortlist is a very shortlist. And I'm surprised by that. In fact, it's embarrassingly short. OK, the first category is full, but apart from that?

I've resisted posting about this for some time, simply because I wasn't sure what to say or how to phrase it.  But here goes.

Why is the list so short? Surely it's not from a shortage of eligible works. That list was long enough. Is it apathy from the nominating public? Not enough awareness of the nominated works? Not enough promotion? Is our state and this convention simply too small to operate these awards? Is the continuum membership more interested in the 'pop culture' side of the convention, and not so much in the 'speculative' side? All, some, one or none of the above?

I certainly don't know the answer.

One thing I noticed this year, in the lead up to both the Chronos and Ditmar awards, was how little self-promoting and touting there seemed to be from those who were eligible. At least that's how I saw it on Facebook. I'm not so sure how it was on other social media. Is this lack of promotion a symptom of how these awards are perceived in writing and fandom?

Now, I'm not one of those rushing to suggest the Hugos need to be cancelled because I don't like certain nominations. Simply vote on which nominee you believe to be the most worthy. And I'm not suggesting the Chronos awards needs to be discontinued. But I do think the Chronos awards need reviewing.

My thoughts? Either the SF community needs to value and support these awards, and make them relevant, or we have to accept the state is too small to continue with them.

Here's the shortlist.

Best Long Fiction (including collected works)
Best Short Fiction
  • "Fairy Pie" by George Ivanoff in Stories for Girls (Random House Australia)
Best Artwork
Best Fan Writer
  • No award
Best Fan Publication in any Medium
Best Achievement