Friday, August 31, 2007

Quick Update

Hi All

The the new website is starting to generate traffic which is nice but if you do visit, please sign the guest book. I'd love to know who is visiting and from where.

Next update: I have gathered together all the market guides and listed them in the Book Store & E-Book Store on the website. There is also a section for other books with some gems to help us poor writers to be found there.

Last Update for now: A good friend of mine contributed to a new book titled "The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy." It's more than worth a look.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Apt Pupil

A couple of nights ago, I was presented with one of those DVD cases that house three movies - two on one disc. I've never seen a movie on either side of the disc - yeah - I don't get out much. That's not the good bit. I am starting to seriously get into writing horror and dark fiction so who better to learn from than Stephen King.

The three DVD set contained - Christine; Sleepwalkers; Apt Pupil.

The first two are full blown novels but the last is a novella. I'm a fan of Christine from way back, always had a soft spot for a 57 Fury since watching it. Sleepwalkers was strange. I remember watching years ago and thinking it was a little weird. Now I'm all grown up, I know it's weird!

Apt Pupil I'd never heard of. I haven't read it or seen the movie before. - It is seriously good! If you want to learn how to portray a plot with a couple of major twists in it - watch this.

It starts with a barely plausible plot of a young boy in school taking a weeks focus on The Holocaust and becoming obsessed with it. During a bus trip home, he recognises an older version of a man he has seen in his research. With an old raincoat, glasses, hat and an extra 50 years - apparently a single glance was enough to set the boy off on the course that makes the movie. A lame opening but it gets better.

With items purchased from Toy World, the kid proves the real identity of the old man to be that of a German Soldier, a member of the SS, who worked in the concentration camps.

OK so with all the ridiculous bits out of the way, the real story begins - the kid blackmails the old man into telling him about the camps during the war. Not the watered down versions he learnt at school - but every sickening detail.

This is a sixteen year old kid! His obsession grows until it's all he can think about and his grades start to slide. The old man steps in and makes a deal with the school councillor and turns the tables on the kid, placing a full affidavit of their relationship in a bank security box. If he dies, then the lawyers get it which would expose the kid and ruin his life.

At this point I was thinking not a bad story, cant be much left - wrong! The story twists with the introduction of a homeless man discovering the old man's past, a Nazi war criminal hunter, the councillor discovering the deception of the old man after graduation, the old man's solution to the homeless guy and how it involves the kid. The secret of the strong box, suicide and suggested child molestation by the councillor.

In the end, the councillor runs for his professional career, the old man gets away with his crimes - kind of and the kid gets off Scott free and proves to be the most cunning of them all.

If this little gem has passed you by - do yourself a favour - go buy it!

The Website

“Musings of an Aussie Writer - The website” is up and running - woohoo!

You will find heaps of updated resources, articles and information there. Please have a look around. There is also a contact page to my Gmail account for any and all suggestions in regards to either the web page, the blog or anything writing related.

Many thianks to Lee for help with both articles for the free writing tips section and for aid with the HTML code. I work in server based computing not web design - there's a big difference!

Now that it is up and running, I need to do a few tweaks in regards to its searchability but I really need to get back to writing. I haven't written anything for three days other than blogs or emails - oh and a big report for work but that's no fun at all!

Keep on writing!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A new musing is born

Hi all

Today I published my first website. Unfortunately it is currently the free version so it includes ads not of my choosing. Please visit and let me know what you think.

You will find loads more links to helpful and interesting things designed to help all writers regardless of level.

Have a look and have fun.

Keep on writing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Website Currently being built

Hi Folks. I am currently playing around with building a free website through Tripod. If you're looking for a fairly simple website to share photo's of you and yours with relatives around the globe, this looks like the go.

I know nothing about HTML, coding, building websites (or blogs for that matter) but this is easy. And I think it can be customised to look exceptional!

Give it a go.

I'm heading back to play somemore. As soon as it's finished, I'll post the URL here first. Stay tuned because it will have heaps of useful stuff for writers on it.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Great new tip

I have just been trolling the forums I usually visit and I found this gem that I must share. I work with computers but never knew about this ability within Word.

Many thanks goes out to Scribbler1382 at Absolute Writer Water Cooler for this one:

"For scene descriptions, use the Comments in track changes. Then when you're going to print, in the "Print What?" drop-down on the print dialog, choose "List of Markup". Just the comments will print."

Get your critiquers to do their comments this way and it's very cool too.

Anthology follow up

I just received confirmation that my submission was received. The editor was very happy to be notified that the email address that was listed in the submission guidelines didn't seem to be working.

Now we wait. She said the current slushpile should be answered to by the 28th. I wonder if she means to give me an answer by tomorrow??

Now that's turn around :)

New Anthology Submission

Hi All

Last night I submitted a piece, I've been playing around with for the last month or so, for the Courting Morpheus Anthology concerning New Bedlam. With editorial help from friends, I think it's pretty good, so I sent it. Unfortunately the editors email address kept bouncing. I sent it to her private gmail account instead with an explanation. Fingers crossed she won't count this against me. Hopefully I'll receive confirmation of submission before the 1st of September which is the deadline.

Have been in discussion with writer friends on all sorts of things lately, primarily to do with writing strangely enough. ;)

In my ongoing education it was suggested that I take aim at some of the lower paying markets and some of the less prestigious contests to gain writing credits for my bio. My response was not to take aim but to take a machine gun approach and submit to all levels of markets and competitions. It struck a note of approval. So with all the authority invested in me from my current three accepted pieces, may I suggest that little published, unpublished and anyone else who writes, should simply write a lot and send them out.

I tend to write a piece and create a submission path for it. I go through all the market listings (check the links on the side) and figure out which ones are likely to be interested in the story. I plot them out in order of payment. I send it to the best paying markets first and work my way down as any rejections roll in. Competitions are a little different. I don't really care about prestige or money, I care about any theme and deadlines. Having a competition piece on the back burner is a great way to beat the dreaded writer's block. Oh - and I only enter those that have no entry fee. There are plenty of writing comps about the place that have no fee of any kind attached to them. Aim for them.

The only other thing about comps I keep in mind are the really big ones, like Writers Of The Future (WOTF). It has four reading periods each year with winners in each period. If I'm working on a particular story I think fits the bill, I don't submit it anywhere else. Currently 2108 is my work in progress (WIP) for this major comp. We'll see.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I have just received my writing requirements worksheet for the "Advanced Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing)".

I have to create a 500 word letter demonstrating my ability to

  • Write correctly and fluently
  • Meet creative and intellectual demands
  • Exercise self dicipline
  • Write unsupervised
  • Read widely
  • Meet Deadlines
  • Deal with critical responses

Plus I have to write the first 500 words for a story in which the opening line is

""Take me with you," she said. "I'll try harder, I promise."

I knocked that one off last night. Nice little dark fiction piece about two kids with psychic powers. I also had to include a 100 word summary on how I saw the story progressing.

Lastly I have an editing exercise to do on a passage that was supplied.

Ah - the fun of learning. All this just to compete for a place to begin with. Fingers crossed I actually get accepted.

That's all for now.

Thanks for reading and keep on writing.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Bad

As with "The Good" posting, below you will find what I have found to be not so good over the past 9 months.

To start with I didn’t have a clue what the writing game was all about. I was like a teenager listening to their parents. I thought I knew a fair bit but what I did know turned out to be either wrong or just not enough. I definitely still don’t know everything I should, but I keep researching my questions and hassling those in the know.

Writing for the sake of writing is nice but gaining recognition for it by getting published is so much better. Getting paid for it is nice too :) Hold onto your ignorance or arrogance and you'll only ever be writing for the sake of it.

Being ripped off
Beware those out there that offer the fountain of knowledge. There are many web sites, publications, forums, etc, etc out there that offer to help new writers. In my experience, very few of them are genuinely not interested in making a buck for themselves along the way. Now I wouldn’t suggest that people shouldn’t make a dollar where they can, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of others. What I mean is making money while helping your fellow writer is fine, making money by ripping off new writers who don't know any better is wrong.

In my haste to become a writer I bought a huge amount of e-books on the topic. I bought programs to help me write and I looked into all sorts of courses and workshops. I’m lucky that I learn lessons very quickly but this was also my downfall. I figured I could sponge up all this information and churn out my best sellers in no time flat. Ha! Nearly everything I bought I found later on free sites or through friends.

Nothing in writing is new; it’s been around for centuries. Take your time – you can still write and have a huge store of work to release as you find the right resources for you.

I will take this time to suggest three resources that I found immeasurably helpful in my first six months of writing:

  • - they have different sites for different genres too. Fantasy, horror, romance, children, freelance plus others. Excellent site. The forum and those that participate are also brilliant for information. There is no such thing as a stupid question! I have listed the links over on the left.
  • I still crit but not as much anymore but in the beginning you need to read everything, not only to learn, but to see what you’re competing against. Wait until they release the zip file of the previous week’s crits and download it. Have a good look through. Read the story and see if you can figure out what the critters were getting at. Do a crit of a past week’s story and then have a look at the submitted crits in the zip file you downloaded earlier. Are you picking up similar things that others are. Have you noticed a glaring omission that the author may want to know about? Submit crit’s on the current story queue. Try and do ten a week for at least the first month. You’ll see why when you get there.
  • The last is an e-book. I have gushed about Lee already but I discovered her first through purchasing her e-book. She wrote “Write Here Write Now” with her friend and co-author Tina, both involved with the FictionFactor web sites. All the questions most green writers ask will be answered here.
    ****Disclaimer - My recomendation above is completely impartial. I gain no benefits from the sale of Lee's ebook***

To begin with I subscribed to every newsletter under the sun. Eventually you figure out which ones are actually of any use. Surprisingly few are but recognising them only comes with trial and error. It’s simple enough to cancel them but your email will take a hit to begin with.

Self doubt
I could probably list this one every couple of weeks. My writing tends to come in waves. I try to write something every day but my real inspirations come much less regularly. When they don’t come, I doubt. When they do come, I doubt that I can express them well enough. When I send them to other writers for critique, I worry over their responses because I have doubt over my own ability. When I submit them to editors, publishers and agents, I doubt the ability of the pieces to catch their attention. When I show friends published pieces, I have doubts over their reactions. When people ask me what I do in my spare time, I have doubts over telling them I write. When it comes to my creative side, I doubt anyone could understand my insecurities. Then I write another piece.

My first uncomplimentary batch of critiques to a work I really liked, and had received good feedback on from people I trusted to tell me the truth.
Now there's a title! Let me explain: the first short story I submitted to Critters was the third thing I had written since I had made the decision to write seriously. The first two amused my family but I never really considered them to be any good. (Until yesterday! "Wake-up Call" has been accepted) - back to the third thing ever wrote; I wrote a 3500 word story in the sci-fi genre. It took six weeks to make it to the top of the queue. By that time I had begun to learn about gramma, how to represent conversations and a multitude of other things that this story didn’t have. And everyone jumped on it. Some not so nicely.

A friend had already convinced me that I needed a better ending. I knew the grammer wasn't up to scratch. I'd realised there was a small POV shift part way through. All fixable things.

About a third of the critiques, which constituted nearly all those I received first up, tore the piece in its entirety, to shreds. I was devastated. I tried to rewrite it four times before the first nice crit came in. Self doubt was huge that week. I left it alone and let the remainder of the crits come. I let the lot sit for a few weeks. Only now am I working through them. A good friend told me something like "they're only critiquing your choice of words, not the story" and "not everyone will like everything but submit a good story to enough places and it'll find a home."
Both pieces of advise are very true.

I'll add this bit though - Never react to a single crit. Wait until you have received them all and a week has gone by since you received the last. Then sit down with all of them and see what multiple people have noticed in your work. If a good percentage of people are saying the same thing, it may point to something that needs fixing. Remember it's only an opinion.

Thanks for reading & keep writing.

The Good

Ok - now it starts.

At the writing of this, I have been seriously trying to master the art of writing for about 9 months. Seriously for me means, I come home from work, spend some time with my kids, eat, clean away all the dinner stuff and then spend the next 5 or 6 hours on the computer.

Sometimes I just write, sometimes I research, sometimes I edit, sometimes I critique -sometimes I do all of the above.

Over the last 9 months, I've learnt a thing or two. Well more than two as you'll see below.

Here are the good things that have happened to me so far:

New friends
In learning about writing I have met some wonderful people. Actually I haven’t met most of them but we converse regularly online. One I have met is Lee. I would have drowned in ignorance a long time ago if it wasn’t for her. My number one tip for all new writers – research your local area and find a local writer who runs a workshop or a web site or a newsletter that is willing to exchange email addresses with you, and help out a new comer to the industry. Treat them with respect but learn all you can until they take out a restraining order.

Being published for the first time
I wrote a piece titled "The Elusive Muse" on a whim which I sent to my friend Lee who is the editor for a well respected website that aims to help new writers – – Out of the blue she treated it as a submission and accepted it. She even paid me the going fee. I thought she was just being extremely nice to me, a kind of pat on the head – now go away, type of gesture. The following month it turned up in the newsletter that is sent out to the hundreds, if not thousands, of writers who pray at the FictionFactor alter. I was flabbergasted and suddenly extremely proud. It was a very little piece but it was the start.

My first requested article
Lee has a lot to answer for as she also requested my first real non-fiction article. As I said earlier, I suggest everyone find a writer and learn all they can. I asked so many questions of Lee, I’m sure she became afraid to open her email. At first she was amused at my enthusiasm but getting multiple emails every single day, attempting to suck all the knowledge and creativity out of you, gets old really quick. While it was still a little amusing to her, I sent an email on some interesting bits and pieces I had come across whilst trying to write my first novel. I cross referenced everything and provided many examples on ways to make inventing worlds and characters easy. She then asked me to submit it as an article. "Reinventing the Wheel" came into being and was to be found in the following month’s newsletter. Again the fee was paid and I began to feel like a real author.

My first rejection
I know this sounds odd to be in the “good” points list but it really was. I was disappointed but I was lucky enough a gain a few words of encouragement from the slusher and possible ways to improve it. No opportunity to resubmit but you can’t ask for everything and remember that this was my very first submission, I was lucky not to be told to just bugger off.

A valuable piece of advice was continually told to me or kept popping up in my research about writing – keep doing it, every day if you can. Practise makes a good piece, nothing is ever perfect. A good way to recognise good and bad writing is read a lot of it. Read everything you can in the genre that you choose to write in and then add works from outside your chosen genre for variety and to gain additional insight. There are some good writers on Critters and there are a number who could be, with practise and perseverance. There are a few who may never be any good at all, but at least they’re trying and willing to put their hard work before others for judgement. I have read posts from “writers” on forums, that openly admit to their fear of submissions. Gaining the courage to submit – for critique – a piece on the Critters queue is a big step. Once taken and once you start critiquing others and gaining positive feedback your writing will move forward.

Setting priorities
At first I wanted to get a story out my head that a few mates and I had mucked about with for many, many years. One December morning, 2006, I didn’t have a lot of work on and decided to finally pen a few lines. It didn’t come out too bad. A month later I wrote a bit more and started to get hooked. My writing time slowly increased and within six months of penning the first few lines I managed to write “the end” – an important milestone not to be underestimated. I then started writing short stories. After writing for a whole seven months I stopped and asked, “Why am I doing all this and what do I want out of it?” So I set some priorities

  • I want to be published in print. Be it a short story or hopefully my novel, I want it in a dead tree format – call me a traditionalist.
  • To win a contest. Then to win more than one. Looks great on the bio.
  • I would like to become good enough to be published in any format regularly; to provide a tidy side income.
  • To gain professional writing credentials. Back to school for formal education. Scary!
  • To find an agent for my novel
  • To get my novel published
  • To become a full time writer
  • To become a millionaire
  • To… - okay I’m getting a little off track now.

Finding a guaranteed solution for the dreaded writers block

Multiple projects. Let’s say you’re trying to work on a short story, and you get stuck part way through on where to go with your main character. Put it aside and continue work on editing your novel. Just as you get into a real rhythm, an idea for your short story will pop into your head. Jot it down and continue editing. When your steam runs out on the novel, switch back to the short story. When that’s completed and you can’t be bothered doing the novel, (its not the inspiring choice for the day) try critiquing someone else’s work. Write a short story in a different genre. Research a different story or an article for a non-fiction piece. Cruise the anthology listings and see what themes stir your juices. Enter a themed competition. With so much on your plate, you won’t have time for writers block.

Being introduced to the Absolute Writers forum. (Thanks Jo)

There are some very knowledgeable people who hang out there and you can find out just about everything you ever wanted to know. Be warned though – it’s huge!

Having a piece accepted for publication by a stranger

It was very nice when Lee published my essay about the Muse. It was nice when she requested another non-fiction essay about resources for fantasy writers. It was out of this world when the very first piece I ever wrote, the same one that garnered my first rejection, was accepted in a recognised publication.

I am pleased to announce that last night (my time) AntipodeanSF accepted a small humourous Sci-Fi piece I penned long ago. Mid February 2008 will be publishing it's 10th Anniversary edition publication. In it will be "Wake-up Call." This tiny little piece, that all my kids loved, was rejected by three other publications before finding its home (nearly 9 months after its first draft was completed).

Working on it

Hi again. Don't get used to so many posts in one day. I'm playing with my new toy.

To the left, you'll find listings for all the sites I visit often. I find them extremely useful, hopefully others will to.

In my research I've found that a lot of this information is scattered around so part of my blogs mandate will be to bring it together - primarily so I know where it is, but also for so those of you that have found this space to also have easy access.

Also over there, I keep a list of everything I'm currently working on. Pieces that genius' out there in the market have recognised as good enough to publish. Hopefully this list will grow as quickly as the others.

Apart from chronicling my writing exploits, I'll also be doing the occasional review on books, movies or web sites I encounter, courses I enrol in or other writers who have good FREE wisdom to impart.

Hope some of it helps


In the beginning

Ok - Hi

I'm totally new to the whole blogging experience so please bear with me.

Who - My name is Brenton Tomlinson. I'm a 39 year old Aussie male, happily married with three kids. My wife is Jodi, Amie 17 (nearly 18), Corey 14 and Tyarna 8 make up the immediate Tomlinson clan. When I figure out how to post pic's, I will.

Why - I am an aspiring writer, currently banging away on the keyboard creating my first novel. I have been seriously writing since December 2006. I have been trying to write down all the good and bad points I encounter as I go. It helps me remember my mistakes, re-live my glories and I thought it might be a good idea for a freelance article at some point. Now I figure I'd just blog it all. As soon as I figure out what I'm doing, I'll post what I have and try to keep it up to date.

While learning all I can about writing during my first year, it has been suggested that a web presence is a requirement for a professional writer. As this is my target, becoming a professional writer I thought a blog would be a good place to start.

So for those of you that have wandered into my blog - welcome and thanks for reading. I'll try to be a good citizen and update regularly but it probably wont be a daily thing. You never know.

Now I'm off to see about configuring all this.