"I'm just going to write because I can't help it."- Charlotte Brontë

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

End of the Month Report: August

Submissions: 7
Rejections: 5
Acceptances: 0
Published: 1 ('A Sweet Story' in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010)
Stories out in the wild: 10
New stories completed: 2
Mood: Yay! The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 is out! And no, slipping it into posts/conversations will never get old.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's not all beer and skittles


Real Life sucks on so many fronts right now that getting through the week will be a matter of taking one step, then another, then possibly a third and fourth, and lots of going to happy places in my head and thinking deepish zen thoughts like 'And this too will pass.'

Fortunately the writing is going well (my little horse turned into one evil fellow - Chucky with hooves) because when Real Life sucks and my writing sucks, the double whammy is a killer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just one of the cats

So how goes it with my vagabond chicken? (perhaps I should call her Red Chook) Judge for yourself. I snapped this just a few minutes ago when I popped out to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Here she is, presently enjoying this fine Sunday afternoon toddling around the patio with my tribe of mighty hunters:

Now, back to finally finishing off the little horse story, which grew and grew, and has gone from being cute to almost too dark with all its death and revenge.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good dog





Reader, there were sniffles. Multiple sniffles. But I'd been warned. I was prepared. I had tissues. And dark, dark sunnies for departing with dignity.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get out the glad rags


This morning's reading of the local paper reveals that a centre for writers and readers will be launched just up the road next week. Local luminaries like Robyn Annear, Carmel Bird, Rob Wallis, Lisa D'Onofrio and Deborah Coulthard are seeking to establish a quiet space for writing (sounds divine), as well as a place for more rambunctious pursuits like workshops, reading, mentoring, publication advice, book launches, getting together for writerly gossip and other events. It could be just the thing to compensate for no longer having the VWC just around the corner.

Consider it jotted down in my diary. I might even delve into the wardrobe and dig out a skirt for the party.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You know...

Whenever politicians of any persuasion use sucking-up-to-the-public, vote-massaging phrases like 'salt-of-the-earth Australians', I have a Blazing Saddles flashback and see the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) and Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) in this.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Swing cats

The weather was so gorgeous and the birds were twittering so enticingly today that it proved impossible to stay indoors, so I transferred my work to Rover and settled down on the Xmas swing for a bit of al fresco writing. I was soon joined by the girls, and we spent an amiable afternoon enjoying the day and each other's company whilst I tinkered with a few stories, had lunch and an open-air nap, then tinkered some more. I love my Xmas swing!

Otherwise, I subbed 2 stories, checked a proof, and rejoiced over an email that said my contributor's copy of The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 would soon be on its way to me :-)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hyggemad

I've been out for most of this superbly sunny day - shopping, movie (please, don't ask) Bunnings, talking, arvo tea with the cats in the backyard - and now I'm in the middle of hitting the domestic stuff hard (washing, cleaning, cooking up a giant pot of lentil soup for freezing down) so that tomorrow is totally clear for writerly deeds.

I plan to reward myself for these labours in a few hours with Saturday Night Klatkager (you can Youtube an amiable bloke whipping up a batch of this utterly delicious Danish hyggemad (usually translated as comfort food, even though you don't necessarily enjoy it because you're sad. I think of it more as cosy food.) here - is there anything one can't YouTube these days? - though of course the recipes will differ slightly from family to family and across the generations e.g. I use olive oil, which might make purists recoil in horror)*** and a couple of episodes of Stargate Universe, though I'm not sure the word 'reward' applies to the latter. I'm 5 episodes in and the characters still make me grit my teeth. I want horrible things to happen to a few of them. However, I'll bravely forge onwards because I've been informed by a reasonably reliable source (brother) that it all gets better from this point on.

And as an afterthought, I'll tell you what klatkager used to go with so perfectly you'd think the recipe had been invented for them - Xena:Warrior Princess, and before that, Hercules. Ah, those were the days.

*** Sorry - I hope it isn't too hard to sort out all those parentheses. I'd go back and edit, but, as mentioned, I have other stuff to do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yay!


I just checked my email and there was no regular Friday night rejection.

Oh wait, I received one this morning. All is as it should be then.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Neigh

Yes, I'm afraid it's true, I'm writing a horse story. A little horse story, as in both the tale and the critter are little. I think the Foalwatch photo of Peanut (see Sunday) had something to do with it popping into my head during yesterday's train writing session on the way to the Arvo Job. Since I do what I do, it's also a fantasy story. I didn't have high hopes for it initially, and worried that it was too cute by far, but today it took a nice, grounding turn both structurally and contentwise, and now I'm quite excited by it. I hope to have it done by the end of the week.

George who?

These days, ever since HBO had the good sense to bring Game of Thrones to the general public (it's even appearing on the sides of Melbourne trams at the moment), when I casually mention that I met George R.R. Martin at WorldCon last year, I garner impressed gasps rather than glazed looks.

But George has been around for ages - you can read about his previous forays into the wilds of televisionland and encounters with TPTB here

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bad blogger

I really should stop cutting and pasting the latest tidbits from my weekly NSW Writers' Centre 'Newsbite' email for there are stern people out in the world who have all sorts of seriously strict rules about what constitutes good/bad blogging, and such habits are generally considered 'bad' by the purveyors of these arbitrary regulations, but alas, I do love a good quote about writing, so here's the latest:

Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don't see any.
- Orson Scott Card.

And on that note, let me direct you to 'Do you want to write or do you want to be a writer?' by S.C. Butler. I love the first line: There is a difference. The first is an ambition, the latter a disease. It made me laugh, it made me sigh, it made me wish I'd studied medicine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Looking good


This morning's email check revealed the preliminary cover art for the October 2011 issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly, which will include my story Quick Fix. Looking good! And what a nice start to the week.

However, now it's back to the "Real World".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flying through the forest

Today was one of those utterly perfect days one has every now and then. It was a horse riding day, the weather was gorgeous, and every eyeful of the Daylesford countryside was picture postcard stunning. My sister Cindy and I went out by ourselves for the morning ride. We mostly hacked along and chatted, enjoying the day and our companionable mounts. I rode an old favourite of mine, Marab, an Arab with a huge personality who is getting on in years but is still full of vim and verve. I used to take him out for both the morning and afternoon rides whenever we went to Daylesford, but now he only occasionally goes out, and just for shorter rides. He's still willing and fast, but too long a ride knocks him out for days afterwards. It was good to spend some time with him again. It was like meeting up with an old pal. My sister and I let him set the pace, and we both laughed at his obvious enjoyment of the ride.

The afternoon ride was fast and long and hard. We were five experienced riders with strong, fast, zesty mounts. We did one of my favourite rides - along an old railway track in the Wombat State Forest. At times we cantered through deep railway cuttings, the rough rock walls soaring up on both sides, and at other times along high, narrow embankments that put us up way higher than the surrounding forest so it was like we were on earthen bridges galloping over a ferny sea. We jumped a few logs, did some serious bush bashing, and all in all had a ripping time. The horses loved it too - I'll have sore shoulders tomorrow from controlling my mount. She was a big girl, very strong and very eager.

And here is today's Foalwatch photo, emailed to me by my sister. Our very special guest is Peanut (a.k.a. Naughty Nuts) a miniature horse foal. He and his mum were rescued and sent to an animal shelter. Sadly, his mum died, but Peanut has a fantastic new home, where he now enjoys the companionship of two other tiny equines. This picture is definitely the cutest yet to grace Foalwatch.

And in a writerly aside, my Thalassophobia story is being held for final consideration. Cross fingers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Running with the pack

So today I finished the first draft of a 2.5k werewolf tale. It is my one and only werewolf story. However, since the market is swamped with stories about these shaggy shapeshifters, it'll be close to impossible to find a home for it, but hey, there are some things you just have to do. Last year it was the vamp story, this year it's a lyco tale, and who knows what storytelling challenge 2012 will bring.

Anyway, I'm rather pleased with my vamp-human run Earth of 2175 and the werewolves who find a place to call home but do so in a most unwolvish way.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Acting up

John Scalzi thinks it's time Andy Serkis received an Oscar. Read his open letter to the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here.


And Andy wouldn't mind a little respect for all his hard work either here







Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nice

The Edgar Rice Burroughs celebrations continue with the U.S. Postal Sevice giving the author his very own Forever Stamp in 2012.

ERB's profile is based on a photograph taken by his son in 1934. Who stood model for Tarzan, however, is anyone's guess.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Excitement at the train station

Cutting across the footy field this morning, I was confronted by a small city of movie-making trucks parked behind the sports pavilion. I spotted the racks of costumes, saw knitted vests, hats, old fashioned coats and suitcases, and I thought Aha! The Castlemaine - Maldon steam train.

Sure enough (click photos for a better view):






Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ironing out the details

I spent 5 hours on the YA fantasy novel today. My diagnosis is that I've tried to cram two books into what I need to edit down into one, so I spent today rebuilding it from the beginning chapter by chapter.

Otherwise, it was a lovely, peaceful, rainy day, perfect for losing oneself in writing projects. I've just wound up a most productive day by submitting 3 stories, but now I realise that I have to get my ironing done for the Arvo Job work week ahead. Blah.

THE MONKEY MOVIE

For a popcorn flick, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes was surprisingly good. Apart from a few fudge factors, this origin story nicely set up a foundation for the intended reboot of the old film series. And since I was cheering for the chimps and booing at the arrogance and cruelty of modern humans (individually, we're reasonably decent, but oh, as a group, we soooo deserve our fate), the upcoming war between the two species, where humans reap in spades what they have so thoughtlessly sown, should be morally interesting.

Eventually, of course, our apish revolutionaries will go the way of all downtrodden groups that topple one cruel, monolithic power only to become a cruel, monolithic power themselves. Gaining political power is always the ultimate moral makeover, and very few elites are upright enough to resist the joys of tribal bullying. I suspect that once founding father Caesar (well done, Andy Serkis) no longer functions as a moral compass for the monkeys, then the chimps will, excuse the language and the pun, go apeshit.

Ah, the line "Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape" just never gets old.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Alphabet Sci-Fi

From 'A is for Anakin, born on Tattooine' to 'Z is for Zed, makes diapers look tough' by Kevin Maher.

To start the weekend with a grin, help yourself to a serve of it here.

(What were those Zardoz costume people thinking? And really, could anyone but our Sean have even remotely gotten away with it?)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The art of ending

I finished St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell yesterday and have such mixed feelings about it. The language is beautiful and the details are impressive, and I was mostly entertained, but after the first few stories, with each tale I found myself worrying whether I was going to get a decent ending as a reward for my efforts. I have nothing against the occasional open ending, but string too many of them together and I feel cheated and get bit narky. I also began to get the uneasy feeling that I was being flimflammed. Most of the stories are milquetoast bizarre - weird fiction for mainstream readers who are feeling a little adventurous but would never pick up an issue of Electric Velocipede or Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. The stories are good, and quirky, but not as gob smackingly amazing as some would have us believe. The thing is, they could have been great. Still, I liked most of them. I particularly enjoyed the title story and from Children's Reminiscences of the Westward Migration, though once again, that "ending"...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yuck

This, from the NSW Writers' Centre 'Newsbite' email I received this morning, made me grin:

Only ambitious nonentities and hearty mediocrities exhibit their rough drafts. It's like passing around samples of sputum.

-Vladimir Nabokov