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

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just in from L.A.

I've just returned from my daily zombie shuffle brisk walk around the botanical gardens and found this, my WOTF semi-finalist certificate, in an envelope of course, deposited by my front door. Yay! Up on the wall it goes.

There is also a very helpful critique from K.D. Wentworth (it's a multiple P.O.V story; she suggested that I strengthen one of the characters and add more conflict*). Otherwise, she was quite complimentary. I feel honoured and touched to have received it. As anyone who keeps up to date with WOTF knows, K.D. recently passed away, so I actually didn't think this critique was going to happen.

It was a lovely surprise to come home to.

* I actually deliberately wrote this story with a more dreamy, inevitable, magical, unfolding flow, but perhaps I need to get real about the difference between what I want to write and what pleases readers. This story keeps almost making it. Perhaps a K.D. inspired tweak will, as Jack Dann keeps saying at his workshops, ' get it over the line'.

The Knitted City

Yesterday, while returning from my slow but triumphant lap of the local botanical gardens, I walked home via the main drag and came upon this bicycle rugged up in a fetching, red, knitted outfit that had obviously been crafted specifically for it. Even stranger, the bike stand supporting it was also decked out in a homemade, likewise tailored "jumpsuit".

My finely tuned Art-dar immediately suspected a local initiative - perhaps a comment on the coldness of winter and those loyal, everyday objects we betray by unthinkingly leaving them outside to weather the frigid blasts while we selfishly sit inside close to the heater and ply ourselves with hot soup, or perhaps merely a humble effort to counter the drabness of these greyer days - so I hefted my trusty camera and went sleuthing. And lo and behold, I turned a corner and came upon much craftiness covering the local library, complete with tags to indentify the various contributors to this ambitious plain and pearl project.

My favourite was this ever so cute but frighteningly realistic, knitted dog turd (an installation piece signifying that all the world is merely crap? An earthy, handiwork thesis on bodily processes and the way animals, unlike humans, accept excretion as a natural part of living? Or was it simply inspired by the knitter having some leftover yarn in a certain shade of diarrhoea?) In essence merely a looped tube of structured yarn, it could have become so many things (a worm, chopstick warmers) but its creator chose to make it a non-steaming pile of canine poo.

I can feel the love that went into patiently producing this poignant piece one stitch at a time. And hear the giggles as the finished woollen sausage was cast off. Giggles are good. The older I get, the more I believe that Art could do with a few more meaningful giggles.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another Painful Admission

So you know how sad I was about surgery interfering with my plans to see Prometheus? What I've hitherto kept a dark secret is that last week, just after getting home, as a treat, I was chauffered right to the door of the cinema for that much anticipated spectacle.

I'm still recovering from the shock. Not even heavy duty pain killing drugs could stop my mind going What the...? as I watched it and my heart from hurting at the terrible, stupid characters and abysmal storytelling. It's only now that I've finally recovered enough to confess that when it comes to that particular public debate, I'm firmly in the 'nay' camp. There's no need to go into specifics - they're plastered all over the Internet. Enough to say that I'm still weeping and raging with disappointment.

Also, while I'm at it, yesterday's hospital visit confirmed that while I'm thoroughly recovering from the surgery, and am up and about and healing extraordinarily well, my Serious Medical Issue will not be over and done with any time soon. I'll just have to knuckle down, do what I'm told by the medicos, stay the course, and get through it.

In the meantime, there are books to read, movies to watch, and stories to write. And I think I'll go for a nice long walk in the sunshine today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'd Better Get a Move On

The sun is shining and the world looks bright and glorious, but unfortunately I'll have to down the stronger pain killers, hop on a train, and spend the day getting to Melbourne for more hospital business. I'm pooped already just thinking about it.

He he - my sister just texted that I should remember my brolly :) Will do. And once again, thank goodness I'll be getting a lift home.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Possible Argument in Favour of a Zombie Apocalypse

After hissing or shouting "shush up for crickey's, bloomin' sake !!!!!!" at the screen last night for the umpteenth time while watching the second season of The Walking Dead, it occurred to me that really, scriptwriters' conveniently placed boltholes aside, only quiet people with organising skills and impetus control would survive a zombie apocalypse. Then, evolution being what it is, surely after a few generations of weeding out the screamers, moaners, drama queens, arguing-for-the-sake-of-arguing arguers, cupboard shakers, fumble-fingered looters and trigger-happy shooters, the human race would be a lot less shoutey, more emotionally disciplined, more graceful of movement and prone to actually plan ahead. And did I mention less shoutey?

Alas, my Darwinian theory soon begins to fall apart like the proverbial rotting carcass when I factor in that the people with the most and/or biggest guns would also have a significant advantage. Once in power, such folk usually like to wave their weapons around a lot. And shout a lot. Same old same old. So, there goes that paradigm of possible paradisaical peace and quiet populated by shuffling corpses already.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back from the Dead

Cleaning up old anthology links, on a whim I clicked onto one that I'd long ago consigned to the great crypt of dead publication projects located at the back of the expansive cemetery of ambitious intentions that never got off the ground, and discovered that apparently there's still life in the concept.

This is good news, because if it goes ahead, this anthology will include two flash fiction stories by me (a 500 worder and a 1000 worder) that were accepted back in December 2010 (aaah, those were the days!) just after I'd decided to have a serious go at being professional about getting my short stories out and about. Ever optimistic, I had them listed as 'forthcoming' for about 18 months before I decided to remove them until I had real evidence that the publication was actually going to happen, and as said, I'd pretty much given up on it and moved on. If this collection does see print, it'll be great - flash fiction doesn't get much respect, and an anthology like this might help to showcase that micro fiction isn't all obtuse shortcuts and airy-fairy wankery. You can tell a layered tale in under a thousand words. I'm not sure why some people so vehemently contest that. They have a right to their personal preferences, of course. I'm just saying that like everything, there's good flash and bad flash. Some stories are born tiny and poignant rather than sprawling and analytical. That doesn't make them better or worse, just different.

Anyway, onwards into the day. I'm definitely going to fiddle around with some words today. And tonight - yay! - I'll start on season two of The Walking Dead. I love this series. It's a nice throwback to my favourite survivors-journeying-though-apocalyptic-landscapes-whilst-arguing-every-step-of-the-way television viewing of yore. Threads (it gutted me!), Survivors (the original 1970s series, thank you very much, devised by no less a stalwart of the genre than Terry Nation), and the 1981 version of Day of the Triffids (I was soooo in love with John Duttine!) all shaped my thinking, filled my imagination and haunted my dreams. Alien nasties invading our world, or homegrown viruses, nuclear holocaust or zombies, whatever - I love 'em! They all boil down to a band of people demonstrating why we humans thoroughly deserve to be wiped out by our own stupidity (it's not always our fault though - sometimes the [fill in the relevant cause] apocalypse does go on for a tad too long, the writers lose the plot, the characters get petty, and you start barracking for the agent of our destruction...), whilst presenting arguments that plead for a more clement view of our basic natures.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Zipping Along

'Twas a day of small triumphs.

- I went to bed insanely early last night, and got up without the aid of an alarm clock insanely early this morning. The normal number of sleeping hours was suddenly enough. I napped just twice. You can certainly fit a lot more into a day when you cut out all the snoozing.

- I put on real pants with a zipper. I zipped up the zipper. The zipper mostly stayed zipped up.

- I stayed off the super pain killers. The milder stuff did the trick. My brain definitely works better without the drug-induced dullness-haze. And my eyes are less spooky-shiny.

- I was driven, with unzipped zipper, to the movies where, after having zipped up the zipper to walk from the car to the cinema, I then discretely once again unzipped my zipper for viewing comfort. Needless to say, I rezipped my pants before exiting said cinema.

- I had this thought: I really really should try to write something soon. Perhaps I'll look through my WIPs tomorrow and pull out something light and amusing for that upcoming spec fic humour anthology. And I caught myself gazing at my writing keyboard with that special longing...

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brolly Fu Fighting

In case you think I'm completely housebound, I have ventured out into the world a few times. At first it was always with someone who was ready to scoop me up and put me in their nearby car if need be, but now I also totter forth on my own for fresh air clutching my mobile. Today I actually took the train to Melbourne for medical stuff, which was a nice and relaxing enough trip, but boy was I glad to have my brolly with me when I got there. Not for rain, you understand, but to stab or whack anyone who looked like they were even remotely about to bump into me. The city masses were suddenly scary. I wielded my umbrella like an Eastern blade, and I would have used it, believe me. However, people seemed to sense my martial intentions and respectfully stepped out of my path, so there was no need for any violence.

Yeah that, or they saw the wild expression on my face and decided to steer clear of a possible madwoman.

Anyway, I was certainly glad to get a lift home. The pushing, shoving, peak hour crowds would have reduced me to a gibbering wreck, I think.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sleepyhead

I was going to do it, I swear, I really was, I was going to get this blogging thingie up and running again and maybe even upload a photo or two from last week, but now that I'm here, my eyelids keep plopping down...

Unbelievable. I think I'll go have some soup instead. And apple and blueberry crumble. I really must get around to telling you about the lovely lady responsible for these goodies (I have more in the freezer), but for now, I'll go park myself in front of a screen, whack on a movie that I probably won't stay awake long enough to see the end of, and fuel up.

Recuperating bodies sure use up a lot of energy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So I clicked my heels thrice...

Well, if only it were that easy. Without physics-defying, Hollywood slippers for quick teleportation, the troops rallied this morning at my sister's and, after hot beverages and pastries, the day was spent transporting me and mine across our fine state in a more mundane fashion, and then getting us all set up at (there's no place like) home.

So here I am, somewhat battered, bruised, slow of movement and ever-ready for a snooze, but extremely grateful for all the help I've received over the past few weeks from so many people. I shall extol their many virtues tomorrow.

 Right now, you guessed it - another nap.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We Interrupt this Break for...


I'm still recuperating from major surgery, but I've popped a few pain killers and crawled to the keyboard in order to to share the happy news that my sf werewolf story The Wolfgirl in the Cupboard has been selected for the upcoming anthology Mark of the Beast: New Legends of the Werewolf, edited by Scott David Aniolowski, which will be published by Chaosium in late 2012.

Normally I'd wait a bit longer before blogging such news, but I've just discovered that Scott has announced the TOC here, so the information is already out there, running free and howling on the Internet. So, with the sale of my vamp story 2 weeks ago, that makes two more anthologies coming up this year with me in them. Yay! There's nothing like a sale to enhance one's mood.

Now, please excuse me - I'm off to do medical things and possibly nap yet again. I'll get back to regular blogging next week.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Déjà Boo

So I'm washing and cleaning and getting stuff ready for the housesitters so I can head off to my sister's tomorrow. Then it'll be on to you know what again.

Please let this all be over and done with soon.

Making me feel more writerly: I worked on my recently accepted Aussie vampire story and sent it back to the anthology editor. I'm happy with the tweaks, and hopefully the editor will be too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Dragon Has Landed


Commercial space travel here we come?


SpaceX will officially begin deliveries to the ISS later this year, transitioning to Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) with legally binding contracts and penalties.

I'm firmly of the opinion that once there's money to be made in them there stars (asteroid mining anyone?) we'll start our outward expansion. What humankind as a whole won't do for the pure acquisition of knowledge and simply for the thrill of exploring unknown territories, they'll certainly do for a buck. And so it has ever been with new frontiers.

So, maybe it's time for me to get my CV up to scratch for that job on the Moon that I grew up thinking was a dead certainty.  Mind you, I envisioned myself wearing a purple wig and a fishnet spacesuit, and there were hostile aliens involved, but I was working on the Moon, dammit, and that's what counts!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Roll up! Roll up!

Once more, it's time for the great Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot.
Background: it all started back in 2005 when Ben Peek did a quick inventory of the Australian spec fic scene and interviewed these 43 people.
Then in 2007, this lengthening list was compiled.
Onwards to 2010, and even more people were added here. Who knows where it will all end?

This year, from  June 1 to June 7, 2012, in the lead up to Continuum 8 in Melbourne (you know, the con I won't be able to attend *sniff*) clicking the links below on a daily basis will take you to interviews with people currently beavering away in the Aussie spec fic scene. You might even (he he) bump into me at some point...

Eventually, all of the 2012 interviews will all be archived here.

This year, in honour of their memories, the first two snapshots are:

A tribute to Paul Haines.
A tribute to Sara Douglass.