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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

End of the Month Report: October 2013

Submissions: 3
Rejections: 6
Acceptances: 0
Published: 0
Stories out in the wild: 8
New stories completed: 0
Mood: Not especially pleased with this month's effort. I've been a bit all over the shop. Time to pull up those writerly socks and get focused.

Have A Happy, Horsey Halloween

You can read more about the stupendous, seasonal painting of this very sweet, pretty, and obviously supernaturally patient pony appropriately called Raven over at the site of the person who actually did all the hard artwork rather than just, like yours truly, lazily pinching her cool photos because I simply cannot resist the opportunity to post a demon horse on this All Hallows' Eve:


Doesn't the sight of this skeleton horse make you want to throw a saddle on it, put a voluminous, black cape around your own shoulders, mount up and go galloping though a dark and stormy night whilst laughing maniacally?

And imagine if some little kid happened to look out the window...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

You Don't Say?

I'm still annoyed this morning about a paragraph in an article I read in a certain vapid newspaper yesterday. The story was about the sad death of a young man, and the publication was milking it for all it was worth, of course. The paragraph in question:

A resident at the house, who did not wish to be named, said she did not know how the teen died and did not know him.

I still don't understand the point of that spectacular piece of non-information. This is lazy journalism at it's most inane. All I can think is padding, and for some reason, it really, really bugs me.

Why Drink from a Common Bowl?

Past midnight snap, hot off my Pentax.

Of course, this won't end well. Cats and vases and other generally smashable nicknacks seldom occupy the same space without mishaps occurring, but still I try. In this case, I thought the rather largish thorns would be a deterrent. I was wrong.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Overreacting Strangers in the Night

This evening, after the Arvo Job, I was walking to the train station when a car that was obliged by law to stop and let me cross the road actually stopped to let me cross the road. Since that was both nice and courteous of him/her, I looked at the driver, tipped my head in acknowledgement, and mouthed a distinct thank you as I walked past the front of the car - as you do in such situations.

When I'd passed, the driver opened his side window and shouted "You should say thank you, lady" in an outraged voice. I checked to see whether he was speaking to me. He was. And then he was gone in a vrooming rush.  'I did say thank you,' I thought, 'But now I really wish I hadn't.'

What did he expect? Maybe I should have given him a thumbs up? Shouted my thanks? Done a song and interpretive dance of gratitude on the pavement? I'm not sure. But I don't think his reaction was terribly civil. Maybe he'd had a bad day and felt unappreciated and neglected? Again, not sure. But it was a lot of commotion for a such small thing.

Ah well, it's been that kind of a day. Nothing to do but move on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Stack Attack

Around about Monday midnight, two cats came hurtling into my study, the one chasing the other, and sprang high onto my big worktable, but not high enough.

Bang! Cat number one (the chased) kicked back against a particularly precipitous pile of "really important stuff"and sent it spilling onto the floor. Followup bang!  Cat number two (the chaser) got into a twist trying to avoid the avalanche and sent what little remained also onto the newly-formed island of paper below. Ah, the joys of sharing a house with felines.

There was no way I was going to tackle tidying it up then. It'll have to wait until Wednesday, I thought with a weary groan, and spent the next day and a half skirting the messy mound. I was mightily tempted today to not do it, but being a grown-up, I did, both to clear the room and my head - and I must say my worktable looks a lot less cluttered now. I suppose I almost owe the cats a thank you. Then I wrote for 3 hours. Afterwards, once I'd had a nap, I set aside thirty minutes to attack a few "garden stacks" aka weeds, so the patio also has a more streamlined look, and gave myself a stern lecture about not letting things that tend to pile up get out of control. Weed a bit each week. Tick off an arduous (boring) everyday task or two each day. Clip and file articles, and write notes as I go. Don't procrastinate. Don't stack.

98% of what was in that toppled stack ended up in the recycling bin. Throwing stuff out is always the quickest way to get such jobs done. Amongst all the old magazines and forgotten printouts, however, I found a folder full of critiques from the spec-fic novel writing course I did a few years ago with Paul Collins. I reread the submissions and the kind comments, and wondered why I haven't done more with this novel, why I'd almost forgotten about this great opus that I was once so fired up about. I've written most of it, and it's been sitting on my hard drive for long enough. Of course, I haven't really been up for a longer project over the past couple of years of medical crap, but perhaps it's time to see if I can scrounge enough energy and head space to finish it.

No point putting it off any longer. Life will be much neater with it done.

Whether it makes it out into the world, of course, is an entirely different matter altogether.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Naughty Writer

Writers like to think of themselves as the poor, suffering, misunderstood underdogs of the publishing industry (and we are! We really, really are!) but over the last couple of weeks I've come across a few examples of editor and publisher misery caused by... hmmm, my fellow writers.

There was an email from a publisher exhorting writers not to review their own work on Amazon, the reason being that Amazon's review policies prohibit writers from reviewing their own work and if said writer is reported, Amazon comes down on the publisher, which makes the publisher look bad. Apparently, this is an ongoing problem, but I'm at a loss as to why anyone would do such a thing. Review your own work? It's embarrassing to even think about someone being so unprofessional. What would you even write about your own piece? Something along the lines of This is a fabulous story of great depth and intelligence and humour and complexity and subtlety and anything else you want it to be obviously written by a genius, who just happens to be me...? :)

Speaking of reviews, there's always the perennial problem of the occasional unseemly Internet ruckus caused by oversensitive writers wildly responding to reviews they don't like (not having written them themselves, obviously). The best advice I've seen in ages on how to deal with this situation is over at Alan Baxter's blog:

Don't worry, it's succinct.

In the meantime, Lakeside Circus, which is just starting up and is dealing with a influx of material and wrangling many writerly egos, felt it necessary to post a piece about reading guidelines, because many writers are such creative giants  that they seem to feel they can skip such mundane constraints (in this case, among other things, sending non-spec fic stories to a magazine that deals in speculative fiction), and another about experimenting with personal rejections. The latter included a warning :

Here’s the problem, though: for every author who takes the notes in stride, we have another who feels the need to reply to the rejection. Saying, “Thanks, I hadn’t thought of that!” is okay–it’s not necessary, but we don’t mind hearing from you. What we do mind is the authors who reply to argue with the rejection, who insult our staff, or misread the suggestions in order to complain that the fault lies in our reading instead of in their writing.

Too many of those, and we’ll go back to form rejections.

It's sad that they felt the need to add that last warning. Personally, I cannot fathom why anyone would think that being aggressive is appropriate behaviour in this, or any other business. If you're a writer who can't deal with rejection letters, then you really need to find another creative outlet - they're part and parcel of the landscape, for most of us, at least. This post also helps me understand why so many publications do default to form letters. Of course, that just makes the personal ones all that more exciting and special.

Finally, there's the poor, beleaguered literary agent, and if you don't already occasionally pop over to Slushpile Hell, billed as One grumpy literary agent, a sea of query fails, and other publishing nonsense, do so now. You'll do a lot of groaning, but also laugh. And it's a wonderful example of what others in the industry deal with on a daily basis, and a lesson in how NOT to behave if you wish to establish a reputation for professionalism. Mind you, most of the examples used seem to be from the extreme end of wannabe writerly egos running amok and demonstrate a pathological lack of perspective. At least I very much hope they do.

So be good, writers. Do your homework, abide by the rules, be professionally polite, and save your rantings about the unfair treatment of writers for your Facebook pages or blogs :)

And if you truly don't like the way things are, there's always self-publishing...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Alien Thrills (or This Never Ever Ever Gets Old)

Killing a little time between finishing off my Saturday of going to the movies, washing clothes etc and getting ready to make yummy klatkager for a night of slovenly TV watching (last two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 3 here I come) I did a spot of writerly ego-Googling to see how the anthology Aliens: Recent Encounters is faring out in the wide world, and found that reviews are starting to trickle in.

You know where this is going, of course :)

And here it is. This Goodreads reader sums up her review with   :

Personal favourites in the collection include:

"The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" by Ken Lui
"The Tetrahedon" by Vandana Singh
"Knapsack Poems" by Eleanor Arnason
"Nullipara" by Gitte Christensen
"Jagannath" by Karin Tidbeck
"A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel" by Yoon Ha Lee

Can you believe it? Me, one of the and others in this collection, making it as a favourite along with illustrious names like that in an antho choc bloc with BIG writers, at the very least with this one reader? Because that's what it's all about - connecting with readers. Writing is great, and you love your own stories because otherwise why would you bother to wrangle them into existence? but it never ceases to amaze me when something I've produced actually resonates with another person enough for them to kindly comment on it.

That is just so cool. Anyway, I'm grinning, and hoping others out there in the world enjoy Nullipara too.

Now for some zombie violence.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

They Shoot Computers, Don't They?

Today's stupendous post has unfortunately been postponed due to computer problems which have only just been (maybe) resolved. It's too late for blogging now - I'm off to bed. I've got an early start at the Arvo Job tomorrow, and I don't want to squander the restorative effects of my Wednesday R&R.

My Internet computer has been a tad rickety and overly temperamental the past few weeks. I think it's time for my IT brother to pop over and either massage it back to wellness or put a bullet in it and bury the whole kit and caboodle down some back paddock.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Son of Punjab, Where Are You?

After starting yesterday with a Sunday morning rejection ( I really like this one but...) I headed off to the Melbourne Festival for a day of music, exhibitions, eating and fun, finishing off with an effervescent show constructed around the Australian-born Bollywood siren known as Fearless Nadia and her movie Diamond Queen.

Born Mary Ann Evans in Perth, she was a huge hit in India during the 1930s and 40s - her most famous film was Hunterwali -  and this show sought to pay tribute to her amazing feats of screen dare-devilry (she did all her own stunts) and sense of fun and adventure. It was a hoot. Not only did you have Nadia swinging her fists and leaping about all over the place, but there was also the in house fighting squad from of Wadia Movietone doing all sorts of crazy and comedic action stunts, and some of her regular, faithful, animal characters like the very smart, he'd-give-Silver-a-run-for-his-money wonder horse Punjab ka Beta (Son of Punjab, scion of Punjab, another of Nadia's faithful sidekick equines) and a baby Austin called Rolls Royce ki Beti (Daughter of Rolls Royce), a vehicle with much personality and a very independent mind. Alas, we didn't get to see much of Moti the wonder dog in this cut of the film.

On top of the movie hi jinks, there were live performances in keeping with what was happening on the screen inserted in between - Indian dancing, vaudeville acts, and feats of high-wire, musical daring. All of this and energetic, Indian-Western music that had people jigging in their seats played by master musicians who all seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

It was a fun evening that I've carried with me all through today at my less glittery and swashbuckling Arvo Job, doing a little Indian dancing here and there whilst daydreaming about Son of Punjab galloping into the office to rescue me. I saw myself swinging into the saddle, raising a defiant fist as Son of Punjab reared, and then we'd be off, the two of us, racing towards some distant adventure full of villains and stout-hearted, supportive friends.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Should You Choose To Accept It

A huge congratulations to Steve Cameron, who has just made his first professional sale to Mike Resnik's magazine Galaxy's Edge. Yaaaaaaay!

Writing is not the easiest of career paths to walk, and anyone, aside from the occasional genius, who undertakes the scribe's long journey (and remember, no-one forces you to take that particular road in the yellow wood) should be prepared for lots of rejection and disappointment, so it's great to see that all Steve's hard work and persistence has paid off, and that he's well on his way to a SFWA membership.

Also - and this is the bit that's all about me - it's wonderful to actually know someone you met when they were starting out their mission to become a writer, someone who has stuck to their guns and steadily worked their way upwards to professional success, because it makes me believe that maybe, just maybe, I can do it too. It's not a certainty, and possibly it may never happen, but knowing a real, live, flesh and blood person who has achieved a goal you're also aiming for certainly makes it less pie-in-the-sky and more feasible. Do the work, do it well, weather the storms, keep your eyes on the prize, enjoy the process and things will happen, is the message one absorbs. Steve's success certainly inspired me today; I hit my desk and tackled a particularly stubborn story I have to write, and resubbed a piece everyone seems to likes but no-one buys. I suppose that's why positive mentors and role models and supportive peers are so important in all areas of life.

So once again, congratulations, Steve. This is, I'm sure, just the first of many pro sales.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Roll Up, Roll Up for Lakeside Circus Short Fiction and Other Oddities

Over at Lakeside Circus, where they plan to publish 200,000 words of new flash fiction, short stories and poetry every year, they've started selling subscriptions. Get in early, and you get a great deal:

If you subscribe now, you can get our first year for only $20. Even better, if you purchase your subscription before November 15, our first issue will be delivered a week early. Before anyone else can buy the magazine or begin to read us online, you’ll have an entire quarter’s worth of short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, including work by:

Dean Fracis Alfar, C.S.E. Cooney, Trevor Shikaze, Ada Hoffmann, Mike Allen, Alan Baxter, Lucas Ahlsen, Cate Gardner, Jill Corddry, Rachael Acks, Conor Powers-Smith, Andrew S. Williams, Lisa Bradley, John P. Murphy, Dan Campbell, Gitte Christensen, Megan Arkenberg, Rich Larson, Jon Arthur Kitson, David Sklar, Andrew Gilstrap, Sarah Hendrix, F.J. Bergmann, Virginia Mohlere, Michael Haynes, John Skylar, H.L. Fullerton, Sofia Samatar, Eric Rosenfield, Jamie Lackey, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Bryan Thao Worra, and more!
Once the magazine is out, the yearly subscription will go up to $30.  You can read the details, and possibly click the button, here.

Notice my name tucked away in there amongst the others? :) :) There are so many writers here I recognise and admire. Needless to say, I'm extremely chuffed to keep company with them in this inaugural issue of what I'm sure will become a mainstay publication.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bards and Sages Quarterly, October 2013

My plucky little NASA Martian rover and assorted other personable space probes tribute short story The Stars Their Hesitation in the Bards and Sages Quarterly, October 2013 issue is now available in a multitude of formats to suit all reading predilections, budgets and technological tastes (I was waiting for all the info to come together before posting):

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords  (EPub, .mobi, PDF, LMR and PDB)

Please enjoy!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I Wanna Go To Space, And I Wanna Go Now!

I saw Gravity today. Best. Space. Movie. In. Ages. Maybe. Ever.

With not a single alien or phaser in sight, this was the most exciting space adventure I've watched in a long, long time, and it had, more or less, given the needs of storytelling, the added thrill of making the audience feel they were watching a drama that could happen in real life. It was so big, and at the same time so intimate, simultaneously vast and claustrophobic. I also liked the international feel of the movie, with the Earth rotating below, and all the nations of that planet represented with their stations and astronauts working together, each bravely trying to establish themselves on the new frontier. It made me feel warm and fuzzy and optimistic about humanity.

The visuals were heart-achingly stunning. The wannabe astronaut in me was overwhelmed by the beauty of this movie, and the courage and intelligence of the people who get the job done in the harshest of environments. I have to confess, I shed a few tears of yearning simply because this movie so effectively conveys that space is awe-inspiring and so full of potential, and I so want to go there just once in my lifetime, and I very strongly feel that WE AS A SPECIES HAVE TO GO THERE!

I especially noticed three lads in the audience today who gave me great hope. Early teens, popcorn munching, the kind of youths my aged type can often reflexively dismiss as shallow, I was initially rather dubious in a unforgivably superior way that they would enjoy the movie (no aliens!), but every time I glanced their way, the meticulously gelled, identically Bieber-haired trio were silent and spellbound. They too, it seemed, were members of my tribe of wannabe astronauts. Maybe they'll make it. Maybe Gravity will inspire them to go for it. They're young enough. I hope so. After all, who says astronauts can't be fashionably coiffed?