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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More win!

Eeeeeek. Super good anthologywise news has just arrived - more about it when it's finalised. All I can say is 'NEVER give up on a story you've worked hard on and believe in. NEVER!'. ***

I'll have a song on my lips at the Arvo Job today.

Yay!

*** For bonus happiness points, it's one of my longer stories - over 5000 words - which are harder to move.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A win-win, lose, win-win day

I scheduled a wag day from the Arvo Job today to catch up on stuff, and couldn’t have picked a better time for it. It’s been bucketing down since dawn, which was not so good for the out and about stuff, but brilliant for writing early this morning when I sorted out a certain story bound for an anthology with a deadline at the end of next month (WIN!). However, by about 15.00 it was absolutely pitch dark, there was thunder and lightning of the most impressive kind, and apparently strikes damaged the signalling so the trains out this way didn't run all evening. It would have been a late night, probably wet and smelly bus ride home for me if I'd gone to work. A most excellent day to not be commuting (WIN!)

Whilst I was out and about, I checked my lottery ticket. Another big, fat $0 to match last week’s $0 profit. (LOSE!) But I also picked up a package at the post office, which turned out to be the hardback copy of you know what that I’ve bought for myself as a special present. It’s even more fondable that the softback, and imminently more impressive looking (WIN!)

Then this evening, I waded off to the first meeting of the new, local writer’s centre to sign up as a member. Snug inside while the rain pounded upon the roof, ideas were put forth, committees set up, there was lots of mingling and introducing and chatting about writerly deeds and aspirations (I got to know a gentleman I used to meet on the late train home a while back until he finished his classes in the city), fantastic entertainment from Terry Jaensch who performed 3 of his orphanage monologues, announcements, poetry prizes and a raffle which, as you can guess from the picture, I won. Inside that cellophane there is much booty – Alex Miller’s Lovesong, a lovely selection of poetry books, a massive encyclopedia... (WIN!!!)

So, not exactly Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but fun nonetheless.

:) :) :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vale, Sara Douglass

This is the news I've been dreading for the past few weeks:

Best-selling Australian fantasy writer Sara Douglass has died. Douglass, 54, died from ovarian cancer at 5am Tuesday 27 September 2011.


R.I.P. Sara.

You're already greatly missed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What a rush

I almost didn't get to the Arvo Job yesterday. As I was hurrying out the front door, I literally bumped into the postie, who was holding an excitingly book sized package. Could it be, could it be? I signed, seized the package from the poor man and ripped it open. And yes indeed, it contained real, live, physical copies of The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 that I could, after all the proofs and photos, actually hold and fondle. I stuffed one into my book bag, ran for the train, just made it, then sat perusing the pages all the way to Woodend. I even imagined a scene in which the train crashed and they found me with a smile on my face clutching YBAF&H 2010 and it didn't seem at all morbid to me, but rather a reward from the gods in the best Greek-myths-about-hubris-dying-while-you're-happy way.

Anyway, I've read the blogs of a few of the other contributors, and some of them have wondered, in the nicest way, who the heck folk like me are, but I'm only too aware of who they all are and how lucky I am to have squeezed into this volume. And I'm also determined to enjoy the experience as much as possible, for who knows when or whether I'll get a joy-hit like this again?

And congratulations to Steve Cameron, who is not only on the Recommended Reading List, but also scored a mention on page 22 in the 'Year in Review' section as 'an antipodean author'. See how I scoured the pages? :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nowhere genre?

There's an interesting post about the implications for writing SF when ‘the Future’ (cue trumpet blast) is downgraded to just ‘the future’, and the possibility that, overwhelmed as we are by constant 'newness', the genre has nowhere to go here.

Hmmm, am I typing away on a sinking ship? Or is it all just doom and gloom mongering? I shall ponder upon this as I head off into Real Life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interconnectivitiness

On the way to the Arvo Job, I finished another non-fiction, reading-on-the-tram-after-a-session-of-writing-on-the-train book, which this month was The Fated Sky. Astrology in History by Benson Bobrick. It ended by quoting The Year's Awakening , a poem by Thomas Hardy (How do you know that the pilgrim track / Along the belting zodiac / Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds / Is traced by now to the Fishes' bounds / And into the Ram...)
At the Arvo Job, my current lunchtime audiobook is The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (good stuff!!)

Today, Elizabeth-Jane, in an effort to win the increasingly grumpy Henchard's approval, was trying to be more ladylike and better herself by not using common peasant words like dumbledore and hagrid...

Such things amuse me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The race is on

There's a deadline fast approaching for a certain anthology that has already rejected one story I submitted (I knew the tale in question was a long shot, but it was the only one I had that vaguely fitted the theme) and now I get a good idea, characters and setting for a story that's just perfect for it? I'm looking at the calendar and wondering Can I do it? Can I do it? I tell myself I shouldn't even try, that the anthology is probably already pretty much filled, that it'll all end in tears or a crappy, half-baked story, but then this competitive urge rises in me, and the story tells me that it'll behave, and I think Yeah, what the heck, let's go for it, and I work out in my head that if I keep it short and get down a first draft by Sunday night it's doable and ...

So I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Galactic graffiti

The theory proposed by certain folk that aliens might have left messages in our DNA (New Scientist, 10/9-11), particularly that they may have embedded code in long “junk” sequences that seem to serve no biological function just to let us know that hey, yoohoo, they exist and they'd like to be our best pals, smacks to me of the same self importance that makes other folk painstakingly decrypt texts such as the Bible for special messages using their own home-made God decoders, or even the spelling out of spiritual advice using a Ouija board.

Basically, people will find the messages they want to find amidst so much random information. If this brings them peace in a chaotic universe and keeps them off the streets at night, fine, but please, don’t set yourself up as expert medium and then tell me that your “unbiased” interpretation of what I should think and do based on what you read in the entrails of a goat is Science or the Truth.

Besides, who’d want to hang out with aliens who go around disrespectfully defacing the basic building blocks of living creatures and then zip off back to the stars never to be heard of again?

Of course, if it turns out that the aliens have embedded a YouTube link in our DNA, then I’ll post a video of myself eating a sombrero.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apropos yesterday

Why do ads always show folk riding along the beach in attire like this?All I see are torn toes, a chafed bottom, legs rubbed raw, sunburnt shoulders, and possibly a cracked skull if she falls off that beautiful horse.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh! I do like to be beside the seaside

And so, unfortunately, did everyone else on this stunning, unseasonably warm Spring Sunday. At Airey's Inlet today, far, far more than the usual quota of folk for this time of the year filled the Great Ocean Road beach with their towels, tents, kites, kids and dogs, so even though my sister and I got in a few highly enjoyable canters, they were nothing like the glorious gallops along an empty shore that we usually enjoy before the Summer crowds turn up.

In the afternoon, after starting out with a larger group, 3 of us, mounted on mares infamous for their attitudes (sort of equine versions of the Pink Ladies from Grease) split off for a more challenging bush ride. I wish I'd taken my camera, because at one point, a "stick" on a wide track suddenly moved and we immediately reined into let the "stick", a huge tiger snake, make its leisurely way across the road. It was fascinating to watch, and we had a good, comparing-snake-stories chat while we waited until it reached the other side. It rested there on the slope of the embankment, in no hurry to move on. As we rode past, we eyeballed it, and it kept a beady eye on us.


And to finish off, even though not technically a foal, this Shetland does fulfill enough foal-like criteria - he's small, cute and cheeky - to adorn today's Foalwatch space, since foals, at the moment, are few and far between.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I should be so lucky

Working on the theory that I'm as likely to win a lottery as I am to ever make a living writing fiction, which you can interpret as positively or negatively you please, I thought I might test my luck by buying a $7.95 Tattslotto ticket each week, which, for overseas readers, is the cheapest possible one you can get.

Week 1 of this experiment yielded a $43 and something cents prize, a profit of approximately $35.00. This is fantastic! Why haven't I done this before? I hastily splurged my big win on the latest issue of New Scientist and a DVD set that wasn't even on special - Season 3 of Being Human.

Ah, the decadence of wealth.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sum of my satisfaction


Dark days + random line of well known psychological information read this morning which suddenly seemed a lot more interesting than usual + a splash of often mentioned WWII history concerning civilian disobedience that popped up to join the process + old communication theory lessons + image of a mother and her rebellious son + a brisk walk = the outline of a new, dark, political SF story by the time I reached the train station this morning, and the first 500 words by the time the train arrived at Southern Cross Station.

Ah, that cheered me up no end.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I know what they mean...

...but I would have phrased it more delicately.

In the local paper today: 'Remember: Butchering is not just our job it's our passion'.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sanity Too Far Away

It's only Tuesday?
I. Don't. Think. I'll. Make. It. To. The. Weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The little Aussie who could.

Congratulations Samantha Stosur, who beat Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final to win her first Grand Slam tennis title and become the first Australian woman in 31 years to capture a major singles championship.

Yay!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I see dinosaurs. They're everywhere.

After seeing Tree of Life last night, I’m having a heavily Terrence Malick influenced kind of a day. Everything seems both significant and insignificant: the washing flapping in the sunshine; the blossom fragrances of early Spring; the wind blowing through the trees; folk in town greeting each other; the tactile experience of making bread; Red Chook, my very own modern dinosaur, scratching the earth and clucking contentedly; the cats coming up for a smooch; even writing this blog as I eat leftover movie Maltesers. And I’m not being facetious.

I’d heard a lot of bad and ho-hum things about this movie, but found it appealed to my love of the epic and my view of life, the universe and everything. An extremely aesthetic work that takes galaxies, star formation, planet accretion, life struggling back from the brink time and time again after multiple mass extinctions, evolution, zen-like dinosaurs living in the moment (from the reviewing hullabaloo about the appearance of these critters and the loudly expressed opinions of a lady on the train one night, I was expecting at the very least a Tyrannosaurs Rex to come crashing into the frame at some point rather than creatures of quiet grace and dignity) and the eventual annihilation of our solar system, and then interweaves all this vast grandeur with the personal triumphs and catastrophes of one family without making that human struggle seem bleak, inconsequential, worthless or overly meaningful, well, it struck a chord with me.

Before TOL, we saw Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, which had me foaming at the mouth and ranting about, among other things, war, justice, and governments reactively feeding the mob what it wants rather than exercising leadership and setting a better example, so all in all, it was a movie double that made for much conversation afterwards.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Getting down to business

There's exciting news for genre writers over at Twelfth Planet Press:

Twelfth Planet Press is looking to develop a new line of dynamic, original genre novels. Twelfth Planet Press novels will push boundaries to question, inspire, engage and challenge. We are specifically looking to acquire material outside that which is typically considered by mainstream publishers.

We are looking for science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime. We will consider borderline literary, new weird, steampunk, space opera, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, urban fantasy, cyberpunk, military science fiction, young adult, paranormal romance and everything in between.

So line up. The starting gun fires January 2012, which gives us all a few months to polish, polish, polish.

And if you're a writer trying to survive the hurly burly of modern publishing and don't read The Business Rusch, all I can say is that you really, really, really should.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Catch them while they're young.

The optimum age for getting kids hooked on SF seems to be 12. But what catches their imagination then? John deNando speaks in favour of "The Heinlein Juveniles" here: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/blog/young-adult/kids-space-part-1/

I concur. Whatever reservations one might have about Robert Heinlein later in life, I know I devoured his adventurous space tomes when I was younger.

* My favourites were 'Tunnel in the Sky' (I think I read it about 10 times) and 'The Star Beast' . In fact, I still have a tattered copy of the latter, and every now and then I revisit Lummox and remember how thoroughly enchanted I was by her as a kid (and still am), and how much I wished I had a gigantic Lummox of my very own in the back yard.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Slow brain week

Ideas are thin on the ground this week, I barely seem able to compose a new sentence, and life isn't quite as sparkly as it is when the words are flowing easily. But all is not lost. That just means it's time to put on the editing hat, pull out all those first, second, third and whatnot drafts of stories that are settling/hiding in shame, and start shredding sentences, removing words, polishing prose, and mercilessly killing my little darlings for the greater good of getting them published.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A centre is born

Today, after shopping, a movie* (The Help**) and a DVD buying splurge (buy 2 cheap, get one free) I hurried home, threw the groceries into the kitchen, then hurried off again to the launch of 'The Word Mine', a brand spanking new local centre for writers and readers.

It was fun. There was wine, cheese, crackers, wine, lovely savoury things, wine, lovely sweet baked things, wine, readings, a raffle with many prizes, mostly of a bookish nature but some of which included wine (drats, I didn't win the $300 limited edition Macquarie anthology) much writerly talking, many jokes, and wine. There was also Robyn Annear*** (one very entertaining lady) launching, with the help of some fangled machine, a bunch of old library cards at us, and everyone got to write a word on their card, which might or might not eventually be used as part of a poetry competition. I'll let you know if the steering committee chooses my word. Anyway, the prize will be a year's membership and a bottle of wine. I'll definitely be signing up as a member. I might even volunteer for a spot of envelope licking or the like.

*We saw the trailer for 'War Horse', based on the bestselling book my Michael Mopurgo. Aaaaah.

**The book, about writing a book, by Kathryn Stockett, was rejected 40-45 times, depending on your source, and went on to become a bestseller - heartwarming stuff for the battling unknowns of the world.

*** Robyn introduced us to the little known but very useful and possibly writerly relevant verb 'to penelopise' , meaning to undo one's work to gain time, derived from "Penelope", the wife of Odysseus. After the Greek hero was declared MIA whilst returning from the siege of Troy, many power hungry suitors approached his wife Penelope and pressed her to marry again. Certain that her hubby would return at any moment, she said she'd marry one of the suitors once she finished weaving a certain tapestry, but she would weave away all night and then undo her night's work in morning to keep the suitors hanging. Some scribes at the launch saw this as being a lot like writing all night only to hit the delete button come morning.

Wise words for the end of the week


"Why can't we work out our differences? Why can't we work things out? Little people, why can't we all just get along?"

- President James Dale in that great classic Mars Attacks.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How much is that dragon in the window?

Cutting through town on the way home in the dark of the night, I was surprised to spot this beauty in a shop (take my word for it because this photo doesn't do it justice.) It's as big as me. Ok, some people might not think that's so big, but as ornamental dragons go, it takes up a lot of space. It'd look good in my hallway, welcoming people into the house...

Which reminds me that I should get back to my dragon story, the one with the Ice Queen and the royal plots and royal killings and the royal pain-in-the-butt historical back story that refuses to reveal itself to me.