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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of the Month Report: December 2011

Submissions: 3
Rejections: 1
Acceptances: 0
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 10
New stories completed: 1.5
Extra achievement category added to pump up my final stats for 2011: my story The Nameless Seamstress was a semi-finalist in the 4th Quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest.
Mood: optimistic and raring to go. I've been trying not to compare my 2011 with at all the amazing 'Year in Review' blogs posted by writers who are, I keep reminding myself, further ahead in their careers. They write of achieving many publications, and receiving awards, and winning arts grants that will give them time off from their day jobs to just write and do research, and one can't help but feel a teensy bit deficient. This is a classic mistake to make, of course, because you should NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS. That way lies the Desolate Road to Self-Imposed Misery, a terrible highway travelled by insecure people who insist on flagellating themselves with psychological cat-o'-nine-tails. The writers in question have all weathered their own ups and downs, and worked hard and consistently to achieve their successes. Instead of feeling inadequate, I choose to be inspired to follow their worthy examples and focus even more on my writing in 2012.

So, repeat after me: "You get out of it (whatever you choose 'it' to be) what you put into it. You get out of it what you put into it. You get out of it what you put into it. You get out of it what you put into it. You get out of it what you put into it..."

Now, which way to the fireworks? Happy 2012, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Having fun, fun, fun.

So I tore apart my chinese steampunk/wuxia story and ditched A LOT of what I wrote on Tuesday, got to know my main character better and designed a stunning wardrobe for her, changed the plot and pumped up the backstory of another character after coming across a scrumptiously must-use piece of information whilst looking up some geographical data, thought of a different and much better ending, and, most importantly, found the story's voice.

Once you've got a story's voice, it's all uphill. And then, eventually, hopefully, it's a downhill cruise :)

Oh, and I stuck in a few dragons. I was trying to stay away from them, but it felt wrong to so deliberately excise them from the tale. They mostly appear in walk-on parts anyway, sort of dragonish guest artists, but they need to be there in the background, otherwise their absence is too distracting. Besides, one should exploit every possible opportunity to pop a dragon into a story, especially if you write a lot of SF.

I love holidays. It's so nice to luxuriate in a new story rather than squishing it in between the daily grind and, sometimes, forgetting to enjoy the process.

And apropos dragons, here's a cool, very musical Oriental Dragon site.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Crackered animals

So I'm seeing a lot more of these guys and/or gals now that I'm at home during the days:
The chook has taken to wandering into the kitchen and clucking indignantly for her breakfast when she arrives. She almost made it all the way to my writing cave on Tuesday before I realised what was happening. Cute as it is, this is definitely not a behaviour I want to encourage.

The blue-tongue keeps turning up by the Xmas swing while I'm reading, or is sunning itself on the patio of a morning when I open up the house. Right now, it's scurrying around amongst the dead leaves about the back shed, poking its head up every now and then to scowl at me. You didn't think skinks could scowl? Believe me, they can. Possibly there's more than one - I'm not adept at distinguishing lizardy individuals. Sometimes I hear a hiss and look down to see one at my feet warning me off, and once it's sure I'm suitably impressed, it arrogantly, and not too hurriedly, exits the stage. And just like the chook, they keep the cats entertained (my mighty hunters just plop themselves down next to any passing blue-tongue and curiously regard their every move.)

***Here's a freshly snapped (12.30 pm) update featuring Polly:







Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Very interesting, and not the least bit stupid.

There's plenty of science fiction and fantasy relevant TV, movie and book industry information in this i09 post: The Power List: 23 Movers and Shakers in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I know I loosed a few hmms and aaahs as I read it.

And that's it for today - I've been shopping (gift cards to use, sales to go to) and visiting and traipsing all over Melbourne. I am thoroughly pooped. Now I'm going to put up my frazzled feet and enjoy one of my purchases, namely the BBC science fiction series Outcasts, which I've been told is a sterling piece of work with smart writing and a great cast. Crossing fingers.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Creak!

Writerlywise, I warmed up my Xmas-addled brain today with 2 x 1.5 hours worth of work on the Chinese steampunk/wuxia story, research for another story, about 2 hours of reading out in the backyard on the Xmas swing (1 x a short story + China Mieville's The City and the City) and sending off 2 submissions.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Allow it

I'm just back from a double at Star Cinema - we saw 'The Debt' and 'Attack the Block'. Because of the latter, I'll probably be saying things like 'check it' and 'shizzle' for the next few days. I must say, I respect the fact that ATB bothered to come up with a reasonably plausible sci-fi reason for the scenario - aliens attacking a single London housing estate and focusing on one gang - which is more than can be said for some of the spineless SF movies I've watched this year that were served up by much bigger Hollywood productions.

And while we're on the topic of fudged SF storylines, if you're one of those people who were mightily displeased by the inane ending of Battleship Galactica, here's an in depth essay on why it didn't work the big one. Needless to say, it's chock full of spoilers.

To give or not to give? (1)


'A book is a gift you can open again and again.' - Garrison Keilor


I meant to write this post last week after receiving my Lovecraftian Kris Kringle present, but couldn’t quite find the time. However, as we’re all still enjoying the spoils of the past few days, and, as far as I’m concerned, if you’re lucky, that booty includes a few books, I can squeeze it in now.

It centers on a piece by Jane Sullivan in the Age last weekend titled ‘Unwrapping the gift of childhood rapture’, which was about how you can divide children into two classes: those who love to get books as for Christmas (and I would add here, for any other occasion), and those who are appalled at being denied a “proper present”. She went on to wax lyrical about receiving a boxed set of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when she was 11, and wrote about feeling a special kinship with author Rick Riordan, who also treasured his memories of a yuletide LOTR gift (I myself came relatively late to LOTR – when I was about 15, via an Australian exchange student in Denmark, and promptly fell deeply in love with Strider/Aragorn. Back then, as Jane Sullivan points out, Tolkien wasn’t world famous, and to be a LOTR reader was to be part of a secret club. New members were recruited by the archaic word-of-mouth method, and when, in the wilderness of the mundane world, you came upon another LOTR reader – oh, the joy!)

Anyway, I was definitely a child who loved to receive books as presents. I didn’t get many fiction books for Xmas, but I did get stacks and stacks of encyclopedias, history, animal (mostly about horses) and science books (which sometime included things like the evolution of horses...) Basically, books that were, oooh, educational. Oh, to see that tell-tale cubic present under the tree, to sneak in prior to Xmas Eve and lift it and feel the weight of the knowledge to come – there was not the least sense of deprivation in that for me, only extreme happiness. In the Xmas photos, I’m the one in the corner leafing through some massive tome with a rapt expression on my face.
I did, however, receive a memorable fiction book for my eight birthday – Rennie Goes Riding by Monica Edwards (A quick Google reveals that I was far from the only little girl who adored that particular book - and there I thought it was my special book. Sometimes, one really should resist the urge to Google. But I did find the cover for the edition I had back then.) I think that only Black Beauty tops it in my personal ‘Horse Books that have Deeply Affected Me’ category. It’s all about a poor and suitably orphaned city girl with a great theoretical love for horses who lands a dream job in a riding stable far out in the country. She is much mocked initially because she can’t even handle the creatures she loves so much, or even ride them, but she knows what she knows, feels what she feels, preservers and ultimately triumphs. I read that book over and over until it turned to dust. Whoever it was who gave it to me, even though you no doubt forgot all about it decades ago – thank you very much.

Well, I’m running out of time again. I’ll post this and continue the ‘books as gifts’ theme later. *** oops, I tidied this post up a bit later, including the incorrect link.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas conundrum

After a morning finishing up at the Arvo Job, a lift home, a quick shop, a nap and a few cups of tea, I was just getting stuck into Xmas preparations for tomorrow when disaster struck - my wooden spoon snapped in half. As anyone in the know will tell you, it is nigh impossible to make ris a la mande without a wooden spoon. Other, non-wooden spoons just don't cut it, for they do not handle in the same way when it comes to swirling around rice, nuts and cream.

So, what with it being a beautiful, cool evening after a sultry day, I thought I'd go get a new spoon and fit in a nice twilight walk as well. My wanderings took me down the mean backstreets of our country town, where I came upon a mother duck with four tiny ducklings scooting across the road into an industrial courtyard full of dumpsters and sheds full of rubbish. I followed, wondering where the heck she was going, and soon realised that she was quite stressed and didn't really have a clue what to do except keep moving. As I watched her and tried to think how I could help, dark things began to move at the periphery of my vision. It was like those horror movies where shadows slip in and out of the frame, but whenever the protagonist whirls about, there's nothing there. In this case, I glimpsed fleeting images of feral cats - lots and lots of very tough looking and obviously very hungry feral cats, and all of them intent on the ducklings. Alas, there was nothing I could do in the time I had - the stupid duck mother pushed under a mesh and squeezed down a narrow drain between two buildings, taking her young ones with her. The cats flowed after them. Tragedy, I'm sure, soon ensued.

I was thinking about how sad it was that those tiny lives should be snuffed out so horribly as I walked home with my new wooden spoon when it occurred to me that as far as the shadowy slips of starvation were concerned, what had happened was a genuine Xmas miracle - when their bellies were empty and their feline need was great, fresh Christmas ducks were home delivered by random chance (or the Cat Goddess) to a group of lowly outcasts struggling to survive in their rundown alleyway. Those cats are probably still celebrating their good luck.

Besides, the fact that their Xmas dinner was fluffy and adorable and chirped prettily as it waddled along doesn't really make the consuming of it, no matter how messily it happened, more reprehensible than all the anodyne lumps packed in plastic that we humans will devour in vast amounts over the next few days. For, it should be remembered, those anodyne lumps on the decorated table also once gamboled, clucked, swam and whatnot, and they probably didn't have a great time getting from the home where they grew up to our plates.

Still, those poor little critters. They were cute...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Obeying the strict, yuletide tenets of my Danish ancestry, I'm in the middle of a midnight ris á l'amande making session - rice is being cooked, cream is being whipped, almonds are being chopped, and vanilla is being whacked in, giving the whole place a yummy odour.

So, just one more day of Arvo Jobbing, then it's 2 weeks off and the fun part of Xmas starts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feeling outshausted

In a few days, my presently hired out brain will belong to me again. Thoughts unrelated to the Arvo Job will hopefully occur then. Bring it on.

And speaking of long days at work, a certain despot (I will not sully my blog with his name) just carked it. According to official and entirely believable sources i.e. rich and powerful apparatchiks with no interest whatsoever in maintaining the status quo, this much loved leader's heart attack was the result of his being exhausted from selflessly slaving away, year after year, to make life better for his poor, downtrodden, persecuted, starving, bled dry and dying-in-droves people.

Yeah. He was a real saint.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Made it!

Time has been extremely tight the past 2 weeks, and it didn't help in the least that I spent yesterday either sleeping or coughing or blowing my nose or raging against the silence imposed by a dodgy throat (be warned, world - my voice is starting to come back), but I wanted to finish and send off my SF pony story for today's anthology deadline, so after sleeping in again this morning, I spent 7 hours on this rainy Sunday afternoon, in between coughing fits, on getting it done and dusted. Typically, even though I thought I knew what was going to happen, the story changed as I wrote the final section and edited it. Instead of being dark and cynical, it morphed into something dark and cynical but with a quite tender love story. And there's a pony in it, of course. Mustn't forget the pony.

Anyway, I'm just glad I made the deadline. Whether it cuts the mustard for the antho is a different matter. Now for all those things I didn't get done today because I was writing. What time is it anyway? Whoa - would anyone like to pop by and do my ironing?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vale, Christopher Hitchens

In Memoriam:

Christopher Eric Hitchens
1949-2011

Love him or hate him, this hard-living contrarian, who passionately crossed intellectual swords with both the flabby and rigid minded, was never boring or safe. The world sorely needs more such informed literary provocateurs who do not shy from a rousing stoush with orthodoxy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Silent Night

Attending a Christmas bash is not much fun when you've completely lost your voice.

Just saying.

Or rather, not saying.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lovecraftian Kringle

We did Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Secret Santa) at the Arvo Job today. You just know when the box under the tree with your name on it looks like this and wishes you a 'Cthulhu Christmas' that you're not going to get chocolate or soap or a sparkly thingamajig. I swear, I would have been happy with just the box, but it got better.

Inside was a book (yay!):

Of course, a present this precise pretty much narrows down the pool of possible givers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Loco-motion

The Xmas rush, rush, rush is upon us at the Arvo Job. It's nuts. The days are long and stacked high with deadlines. There aren't too many writerly thoughts in my head at the moment. It's just keep moving, full steam ahead, chugging through the dreary tunnel of endless tasks, don't stop until I burst out into the light at the other end.

And then, by golly, I shall write again.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Arabian days

My sister and I went riding through the Wombat Forest today. We went out by ourselves in the morning and had a good natter as we rode along at a relaxed pace, then did the hard, fast, daredevil ride with other experienced riders in the afternoon.

Today was unique in that I rode a white Arabian horse for the morning ride - my old friend M, who is getting on in years, but is still lively and very personable - and then K, a brand new, very energetic and willful, white Arabian horse for the afternoon ride, who, I think, has been brought in to be M's replacement in the years to come. He was a bit of a handful, but I had a ball.

Unfortunately, the afternoon ride ended with an accident and an ambulance ride for one of our fellow riders, a timely reminder that horse riding is a high risk activity. I was right behind the rider who was injured when it happened and saw the whole thing. Not good. I'll check back tomorrow to see how she is.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Paradox revisited

With my emails once more observable, the countless quantum superpositions of writerly outcomes collapsed into a single, measurable state. Possibly other versions of this post from those of me presently blogging in alternative realities contain slightly different and possibly more uplifting information, but here, in this universe, my inbox revealed not one dead cat, nor a single living cat, but no cats of any description at all.

Another me

Aaaaah, Ive got email problems. There are probably thousands of acceptances awaiting my perusal that I can't access. Or hundreds. Or three. Maybe one, if I'm lucky. The potential for good news held in some electronic limbo allows me to imagine all sorts of wild, writing-related scenarios. Possibly there's the chance of a lifetime sitting snug in my inbox, but I have to respond by exactly 11.58 today for it to happen, and thus my life, even as I write this, is being diverted down a different, drearier path, while a me in a parallel universe has just accessed her emails, promptly sent a reply, and is now whooping with joy.

Of course, I'm happy for her (cow!), but I'd rather be the whooper. I hope this situation is fixed before I get the shakes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time to build that rocket ship

Just as things are starting to get seriously crowded here on planet Earth, NASA's Kepler Mission has discovered the first super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone of a star similar to our Sun. The host star lies about 600 light-years away from us toward the constellations of Lyra and Cygnus. The star, a G5 star, has a mass and a radius only slightly smaller than that of our Sun, a G2 star.

Some are caught up in the scientific wonder of this discovery, but there are already many articles discussing whether this poor, innocent planet will be humankind's next home. They' re very catchily calling this apparently balmy world Kepler-22b, though I'm sure enterprising real estate agents will come up with something more appealing when they start to flog off subdivisions in a year or two. They'll probably advertise plots as 'supersized lots on a super-world for the super-people of the future', and heavily promote the image of moving to another planet as a trendy alternative lifestyle choice that guarantees peace, quiet, happiness, contentment and suitable neighbours. And then there's that word 'balmy' that they keep using. Any time you use the word 'balmy' you're bound to get hordes of tourists and all the glitzy paraphanalia of tourism. If you hurry, maybe you can beat the crowds.

My guess is that they'll probably end up calling Kepler-22b 'Paradise' or 'Pandora' or some such thing.

Watch out universe, here we come!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Books with fluffy pink covers

Tipped off by this article in the Age about celebrity inventors which I read in the train on the way home, I googled Barbara Cartland and The Bishop Wright Air Industry Award and discovered that yes indeed, the Pink One did make a recognised contribution to the development of aviation. I did not know that, though it's probably a well-known fact amongst her legions of fans. I'd previously read about Hedy Lamarr helping the war effort by inventing a device meant for radio-guided torpedoes, and knew about Samuel L. Clemens' fondness for taking out patents, but that Dame BC was a recognised pioneer of aviation technology comes as a complete revelation, and a pleasant reminder to watch those tendencies to take short cuts when judging people.

According to Wikipedia :

Privately, Cartland took an interest in the early gliding movement. Although aerotowing for launching gliders first occurred in Germany, she thought of long-distance tows in 1931 and did a 200-mile (360 km) tow in a two-seater glider. The idea led to troop-carrying gliders.


I love it when people so thoroughly surprise me in a good way. I love it not so much when they do it in an intolerant, small-minded, ignorant or just plain nasty way, but hey, let's focus on the good way and celebrate the agile minds, free spirits and rich personalities of people like Hedy and Samuel and Dame Barbara Cartland. Here's to them!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sci Fi Santa and some cyclists

So I kicked off the Christmas season yesterday with Aardman's latest movie Arthur Christmas. It was a lot funnier than I thought it would be. I laughed til I cried and discovered The True Meaning of Xmas. It's certainly jam packed with sci fi jokes, and I'll have to watch it again to catch the scattershot of countless yuletide jokes fired off by the elves.

Today I watched the tired but elated cyclists finishing the last stretch of the Great Victoria Bike Ride, which ended in our town, and made promises to myself about participating in it next year, maybe, but definitely the year after. Definitely!

In between, inspired by this upcoming anthology, I've been working on a sci fi pony story. As the site quite rightly states:

“A pony is better than a unicorn because he doesn’t know how cute he is! Unicorns are all glitter and sass. Very pompous.” and “I think we have room for at least 500 more pony stories in the f&sf genre.”

The inspiration behind the anthology is Kij Johnson’s Nebula winning short story “Ponies”, a very disturbing piece of writing. Her involvement is also what makes me want to be a part of this most noble project to bring more pony stories to the sf & f reading public. I was thinking of pulling out the first draft of the evil miniature horse story I wrote a while back and changing him to a pony, but it didn't feel right. Miniature horses are not ponies. Besides, an actual SF pony story popped into my head on Tuesday, and I've been working on it each morning on the train on the way to the Arvo Job. Today I changed quite a few things and almost finished it. I know how it ends, so I'm pretty confident it'll be done and polished by the deadline even with all the stuff coming up over the next few weeks.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Me? Why, thank you!

Good news on a Friday night is always welcome, so I was very pleased to get the following email instead of the traditional end-of-the-week rejection:

Dear Gitte,
Congratulations, your story - The Nameless Seamstress - was a semi-finalist in the 4th quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest!


I'm pretty happy with that! I entered this competition once many, many, many moons ago (Hmm, maybe I should dig out that old, typewritten* story and have a look at it. Dilmun was the title, I think) so that makes The Nameless Seamstress my second submission to WOTF.

I think it's safe to say that I'm now officially hooked. I'm already scanning my stock of stories for something to send off for the next quarter.

*Meaning written on a typewriter, clack, clack, clack, after which it was put into an envelope and posted off the US. Ah, how I love email submissions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

End of the Month Report: November

Submissions: 7
Rejections: 4
Acceptances: 0
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 9
New stories completed: 1
Mood: :) :) :) :) with high hopes for more :) :) :) :)