Friday, February 29, 2008

Assignment 1 Done - Again

I have resubmitted assignment 1. Fingers crossed I have done it correctly this time. It was a huge disappointment to me when the note came back that I hadn't done things right. I try to ensure everything I do is to the best of my ability and was very shocked when this was judged to be rubbish or done in correctly.

I thought about it and decided it was a wake up call.

So now if it comes back as being sub standard - then I'll be worried.

Been away on conference for work over the last two days so I've done no writing at all. I gained nothing from the conference either so I'm pretty disappointed. If it wasn't for being able to spend some quality time with my wife in the middle of the conference, the two days would have been a total waste of time. :(

Tomorrow I'm playing the last minor round game of cricketof the season. We're chasing 221. We chased down 250 last game so I'm quietly confident. Then we're into the finals. Finals are played over a single weekend - Saturday, Sunday - not looking forward to that so much. At my age, it takes time to recover from a days play. Must remember to take my time on the Sunday this time round. Last year I wasn't warmed up enough and got out because of it which lost us the game. Don't want to feel that way again in my last year.

My assignments for HorrorScope should arrive early next week so keep an eye out for regular reviews starting soon. I'll be reviewing Black Static, Gratia Placenti and possibly Albedo One.

I'll also be reviewing Book of Shadows and Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2007 - both from Brimstone Press.

Lastly, I've been accepted into a new critique group run by Authors by Design. This is important to me as it gives me access to other like minded individuals who are willing to critique my work. In return I will try to do my best to help them advance in pursuit of their goals within writing. Alas, this means that any crit group I thought about starting will now be put on hold.

Well that's about it. For now I think that's enough really.

May all your submissions sell and may all your nightmares be memorable.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Set Back

I have received feedback from my first assignment - and the news isn't good.

I have on many occasions, told people on forums and mentioned it a few times through my posts, to check guidelines before submissions.

I was told during orientation that we were to treat the submission of assignments as if we were submitting to market.

The first page of the introduction booklet outlined the submission format.

I didn't double check :(

Result: I forgot to double space my submission as requested. The requirements were also a little vague on the material they wanted submitted so I sent in all three parts of my work within the first assignment, including all the markups regarding changes between the original piece and the final piece. I thought they also wanted the 200 word description of those changes on top.

It turns out I got it wrong in my eagerness to get into it.

Luckily, the lecturer has allowed me to resubmit my first assignment but I have sent him an email requesting clarification on exactly what he wants. I'm thinking it could be as little as just the 200 word description.

I'm hoping I will be allowed to resubmit my second assignment which also wasn't double spaced.

The directions for that assignment were much clearer and I believe I've submitted exactly what they wanted - we'll see.

I'm glad I held onto the third assignment. I'll be reformatting that one correctly before sending out now.

It seems being away from academia for twenty something years has had its draw backs. But I learn quickly. The format of submissions won't be a mistake I'll make again - ever.

So now I'm waiting on a reply from my questions on assignment one. Then I'll sit down and get caught up again.

Good luck with your submissions (check the guidelines before sending)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Assignments, Crit Groups and Synopsis

Been a busy morning.

I have finished critiquing a query letter and a synopsis for a friend in the states for her YA novel. I have sealed up the latest assignment to go off for my diploma, posted a quick news item on HorrorScope and exchanged emails with the moderator for a new critique group I hope to join.

I'm about to start the next assignment to be sent out latter this week. Unfortunately I haven't received any response back from the assignments I've already sent in so I'm still flying blind. Hopefully I'm not doing things terribly wrong and have to resubmit everything. This is definitely a draw back of doing a course of study externally.

Last night my wife critiqued two of my stories, the fifth installment of "Too Late the Rain" and "Drinkers", a new short story I've just written. Her feedback was concise, honest and surprisingly good. I have read everywhere that family and friends do not make good critiquers as they will only give you positive feedback, not wanting to hurt your feelings.

Not so in this case. Her suggestions and questions were very good and allowed me to see things from the readers POV that I hadn't considered. As a rule, family and friends aren't the best to judge your work but give them a chance, they may surprise you.

Oh - my membership has come through for the Australian Horror Writers Association. Payment was made this morning so I should be a fully fledged member before the week is out.

Lastly - thank you to Amy. When I changed the layout to better reflect my writing on both this blog and my web site, I didn't check the documents in the Free Writing Tips section. I checked all the other pages, which looked good, but the type within the documents was in black font which doesn't show up very well on a black background. This has all been fixed.

Time to get back to work on my assignment. Good luck with your submissions and keep on writing.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Review: Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2006

Edited by Angela Challis & Shane Jiraiya Cummings
ISBN: 0 9802817 0 9
13-digit ISBN: 978-0-9802817-0-5
240 pages - B Format paperback

The Blurb

The dark age is here. For years, Australian dark fiction writers have toiled in the shadows at their craft. Australian dark fiction is now stronger than ever. This anthology features the very best Australian short stories, novelettes, and essays published in 2005 — including many award winners and nominees.

The Review

If you haven't had the opportunity to yet read this, get it - now!
I was blown away by the stories contained within its pages. It is a remarkable collection of the adjudged best of Australian Dark Fiction from those published in 2005.

"The Memory of Breathing" by Lyn Battersby is the first story. A tale of the future where those found guilty of murder or suicide are sentenced to a life as a reanimated corpse. This particular tale follows a young girl through her reanimation after she was particuarly naughty. It is an excellent story that involves the reader emotionally through to its surprising end.

Many more great short stories follow with different slants on old tales involving vampires, time travel, purgatory, Peter Pan and many others.

Combined with insightful and pertinent non-fiction pieces from some of Australia's best known dark fiction authors such as Robert Hood, Josephine Pennicott and James Doig, I found this anthology to be a great read from beginning to end.

I now eagerly await the arrival of (just ordered by me) the follow up book from 2006, and the 2007 edition which has just been released by the same publishers, Brimstone Press (which I have also just ordered).
- - - ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I urge you to do yourself a favour and order your copies now of all three.

Adelaide Writers Week 2008

(As posted on HorrorScope)

Adelaide Writers Week 2008 is fast approaching.

I went into a local Dymocks store today and purchased a very nicely produced programme for $6 to eagerly check out what sessions I would be interested in attending. The same program of events can be found here for free.

I brought the program hoping it had more detail than the web version in regards to the sessions and the authors. It was advertised on the Festival web site as; “A detailed program of events with full information on sessions and participating writers.”

Unfortunately, the reality is much less inviting than the glossy 50 or so page programme, at least less inviting for genre writers among us.Out of the 61 authors listed as attending and being involved in a specific event, none are from the horror genre.

The agenda is full of crime writers, poets, playwrights, biographers and other non-fiction writers. A few have dabbled in the fantasy realms but none in science fiction or the darker side.It seems the Adelaide Writers Week is for the "so-called" literary elite, not the lowly genre writer.

I’m sure there is still information to be learnt from writers who have succeeded in their chosen field but it would have been nice to have heard from one of our own.For those of you who would still like to attend:

Adelaide Writers Week (Part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts)
2-7 March 2008
Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens
Free Admission

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Just a quick note: While reading a transcript of an online chat session between AHWA and Ellen Datlow (full transcipt to be found here) I found this absolute gem piece of advice.

[Ellen Datlow] Actually, the first one, Salon Fantastique was a bit scarier for Terri and me. Because it was our first time out (for both of us I think)...but like any anthology, the editor is more open at the beginning than later in the process...

[AHWA Member question] So submit early?

[Ellen Datlow] anything goes at first but as an anthology of any type fills up, your "needs" change and narrow as you try to balance everything. So {AHWA Member} yes, submit early.

So there you have it folks - straight from the editors mouth, as soon as you hear about an up coming anthology you think would be good to get into, start writing. As soon as it opens, get your submission in as soon as humanly, or inhumanly, possible!

Rules to live by :)

Good luck with your back to updating the web site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I'm active again among the critter ranks.

I've posted the new version of "Too Late the Rain" onto the queue but that's at least five weeks away before receiving crit responses. So in the mean time I've started critiquing other critters stories again.

In the past two days, I've done four. I've read seven but only critiqued four as the other three were pretty bad in way too many ways to critique diplomatically. I'll leave them to others. I'd rather find a story that has potential, a solid plot, or premise, or good characters. If subtle suggestions are what's required then I'm more than happy to try and help.

On a sad note, I've still not gained a response from a recommended crit group. I was told to wait a day or two and members from that group would contact me. I figured I'd go have a look at the site and become a member to have a nose around. If it is an environment I'm looking to work in then I'd like to do some investigation first, some snooping if you will.

As I haven't yet received a validation email from my request for membership, I can only browse the newsletter. It's a nice newsletter but the forums are where the action takes place and I can't get into those. So the wait for a good crit circle continues :(

One last thing - for some reason the spell check on this blog doesn't seem to be working anymore which is annoying. I apologise in advance for any typo's I miss.

Keep on writing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another Positive Rejection

Is there such a thing? One thing I've learnt over the past year is that aspiring writers need a thick skin. You need to become a glass half full type of person.

Take this as an example:

I sent off my current baby "Too Late the Rain" to Nossa Morte, where it was pretty quickly rejected.

The bad side of this was that it was rejected - again.

The good side was the response. Below is the email I received:

Thank you for your submission to Nossa Morte. Unfortunately, it will not be appearing in our issues.We hope to receive more work from you in the near future.

I have included the editor comments for your consideration:

This wasn't bad. Well written; nice voice. The premise just didn'tblow me away, and there were some plot holes that prevented me from really getting into this one. It was unclear how or why Jed had shot his sister. I didn't get the sense that there was any real animosity between him and her ghost. Was it an accident? Was it done on purpose? Was she bitter? I just couldn't get a great read on the characters and their relationship and so it was hard to get immersed in the tale. A good effort though, and I'd be happy to read more of your work.

So - out of this I gained that my mechanics of writing has improved as has my ability to convey the way I want to write - my voice. I have also had requests from other citiques for more fore-story to explain a few things so today I wrote up the missing bits. "Too Late the Rain" has grown by another 918 words. That's almost 100%. I believe the story now depicts the relationship between the main characters a lot better plus it explains, by showing the reader, why they end up in the situation they do.

I feel even stronger about the piece now. I have sent it off for critique at Critters although this tends to take an age, so I've applied for membership in another, more intimate crit group. Stay tuned for more on this in the weeks ahead. If it all goes well then I'll be singing the praises of another forum/website.

Tonight I did a final version of my latest assignment for my course. It includes an amusing article I had to write according to structure. Some way down the track, this may get published to the Musings website. I haven't had any feedback yet on previous assignments so I'm tempted to hang onto this one for a day or two more.

I have applied for membership at AHWA and suggest any writers of the dark side do the same. At only $25 for initial joining and a poultry $10 a year there after, it is more than worth it. I'm lucky enough to be getting it as one of my birthday presents.

Well, this has turned into another of those really long posts, so for those of you still reading, thanks for making it this far.

Good Luck with your submissions!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Southern Writers and a new Website

I have spent a lot of today researching dark fiction or horror orientated critique groups - not a lot to be found - none specifically in the genre.

I want a small group of dedicated writers, who love the darker genre, to work with me in improving everyone's craft. Lofty ideals - maybe but surely not unattainable.

I will be looking into the mechanics of creating and maintaining a small, intimate group so watch this space.

This evening I also joined the Southern Horror Yahoo Group. As per the welcoming blurb this is "Australia's unified group of amateur and professional writers, editors, agents and publishers of horror (or dark fiction)."

They're not kidding either, the first name I noticed was Robert Hood, a fellow HorrorScope editor and a noted and very successful Australian author of the dark side.

If you're an Aussie writer of dark fiction, looking to meet like minded people, then head on over to

Lastly - I found an amazing Australian website which provides excellent resources and information for Spec Fic writers of all genres.

The Australian Speculative Writers Website serves up: Speculative Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, Markets, also Writing, Editing and Publishing Information and Resources. It is excellent and has been added to "My Ten Best Websites"

Good Luck with your submissions.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wake-up Call Published!

Hi all.

Been a very busy couple of days. Saturdays are always packed for me during summer with cricket. I take my boy down to the club from 8am where he plays for the under 15 side. Unfortunately they were beaten today in their last game for the season.

I play for the seniors in the afternoon. Today we managed to chase down the oppositions score of 250 with relative ease. I made 83. We have one more minor round game to go before finals commence. Currently we're sitting second.

This is my last season so its fitting that the grand final will fall on the 15th and 16th of March. The 16th is my 40th birthday so going out with a bang would be nice.

Now for the important news - Antipodean SF has released their 10th Anniversary issue today. In it can be found my little (and I mean real little at 101 words) piece titled Wake-Up Call. It is amusing and cute but more importantly, it's my first fiction piece accepted anywhere! WooHoo.

If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder that all stories can find a home somewhere so keep on submitting.

Good luck to you all.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thank You

Just a quick note to those of you who regularly come back to have a read. I've just checked my counter stats and although not mind blowing, I am eternally humbled to think I have a handful of followers who are interested in what I'm doing.

Don't be shy, drop a comment to say hi or anything else you'd like to get off your chest ;)

Keep on submitting and please - keep on visiting.

Again - Thank you.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day everyone. I hope you gain all the love and affection from your significant other that you crave.

The first assignment of the second module is going out the door today. I did two assignments this week because I mistakenly did the second assignment from the first module at the beginning of the week, then realised I was supposed to alternate between modules.

Week one - Assignment one from module one
Week two - Assignment one from module two
Week three - Assignment two from module one
etc, etc.

So assignment one from module two is going out today. Assignment two from module one is ready for final approval but doesn't need to go out until next week - I'm in front - cool!!

Still waiting on work assignments for HorrorScope but the Managing Editor, Shane, has allayed some of my fears. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in.

You can see some of Shane's work in the current issue of Shadowed Realms called "Spin the Witch Bottle" - plenty of other excellent work available fore reading there too. I'm adding Shadowed Realms to my ten best web site list. It's a quality online magazine that freely publishes the story content for all to read and appreciate, and pays it contributors a professional rate of 8 cents per word. Well done to all at Shadowed Realms!

I have additional news but I'll add it in a separate post so the labels wok better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Busy as...

Today has been non-stop!

I have read more than I have in months, and completed two assignments for my diploma, plus arranged a new home loan, organised a surprise for tomorrow (don't tell my wife) and fixed printing issues with both my PC and my laptop.

Oh and I worked from home too so I had to log into work and resolve issues there!

I'm about to go and watch "Underbelly" with my wife so I haven't additional time to blog tonight.

Happy Valentines day tomorrow and please ladies, remember that men enjoy a present occasionally too.

Maybe tomorrow would be a good day to write and submit a romance - maybe a romance where the couple die horribly in a tragic skateboarding accident involving a run away giant prop fan that won't shut off - cool!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


For sometime I've been a little disappointed with the ideas I've been generating in regards to plots - too trite, done before, not original enough, etc, etc.

I then remembered hearing somewhere (not sure when or where), that things are similar to ideas that have come before because there are only seven original plots.

I had an idea for a short, a little different to one I'd read last week, a different way of looking at the same thing. I was worried it wasn't original enough - solution - discover more about these so-called original seven plots.

My research has turned up some amazing stuff.

Within Google Answers I found this which has another link to a better article on the theme here

Poe's Deadly Daughters has a slightly different take on this

So obviously I'm not the first (and I won't be the last) to have come to this conclusion that my ideas aren't original.

While struggling with this concept I read the current issue of Shadowed Realms (Issue 11) in which 13 short horror tales are told (including "Finding the Words" by Steven Cavanagh - 2006 winner of the AHWA flash fiction competition). They are all beautifully told tales from the dark side of writing that I would be loathed to try and categorise into one of seven basic plots. (Especially since a number of them are also written by fellow AHWA team members)

Of course I did but then I won't divulge my conclusions - try it yourself after reading them.

Even the 36 plot list found above seemed constraining so I looked further.

And I found this -

This is an amazing breakdown of plots and an excellent article on the original plots in its own right. In the end Emma Davies (read her BIO - she's definitely different) breaks down the 36 point plot list into a staggering 380 something sub plots! If you're ever stuck for a plot idea, have a scan through this.

In the end, plot is important but there are only so many of them. It's your characters and what you do with them that will pull a reader in. More importantly, it is how you write what your characters do that will pull the agents and editors in.

No-one will look at a plot exactly like you do. No-one will use the same characters or the same traits that you give them. No-one will do to them what you will.

That is where the differences and originality needs to be. Dark stormy nights in ramshackle houses will always be around, but what happens within those walls, to who, how and in the manner it is presented to the reader is where you will win.

Good luck with those submissions.

Time waits for no man....

Just when you think you're on top of things, you run out of time - again! I sent off the first assignment yesterday and fully intended to read through the next section of the course and see what the next assignment was.

I got about half way through.

My lovely wife Jodi mentioned we should rearrange the study this coming weekend to make it more comfortable for me to work in. Then she made the brilliant suggestion that I retrieve an old wing back chair I had stored in the garage so I had somewhere nice to read.

That got me started - I had to get the chair into my study and I had to rearrange the whole study to make it work. So after removing doors, altering the desk, running additional cables, unloading the book case, moving boxes, etc, etc - I finally got it sorted.

I then looked at the clock - the evening had fled and I was pretty tired. The family has to get up at six each morning now to get things done so my days of staying up till 1am are behind me.

I received my instructions from HorrorScope last night and some welcome emails from the other friendly staff members. Nervous and anxious would be good words to describe me at the moment. I want to jump in and impress but don't want to over step the mark or stuff things up at the same time. Time to step back, take a breath and proceed a little slower. None of the other new team have posted anything yet either, those that are currently posting have been doing so for ages and do so more regularly than the others anyway. Chill pill time :)

I need to send out query letters tonight. I have a dozen or so shorts in the market that need to be followed up on this month.

On top of that I also need to follow up my stories that need to be resubmitted or finished editing or etc, etc. - see, no time.

I need a schedule. Many writers sites shout the virtues of making a writing time and guarding it jealously. It's not a silly suggestion. I once wrote for six hours every night and produced large amounts of work, including the first draft of my fantasy novel "Tigers Eye".

As the weather warmed and the days grew longer, my writing time shrank, whittled away to nothing. With a schedule, I'll have something to guard and plan around. My problem now seems to be that I'm finding things I need to do to ensure I have an opportunity to write. I work through all these things and never seem to actually get to writing! :(

So now that I've recognised the problem I will set a schedule, a negotiated schedule (need the bosses stamp of approval) and then stick to it. That schedule will have time allocated for writing and nothing else.

So priority one for today is to get that timetable set in stone and start getting things done!

What excuses are you using to put off writing or submitting??????

Time to write! Good luck.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Assignment 1 Done

Well the free writing assignment has been completed and is ready for posting. It'll be in the mail first thing tomorrow morning.

"Too Late the Rain" has been prep'd for sending out to another market. I've done some serious research into the types of markets out there in the dark fiction arena so I'm hopeful of finding the right place.

I'm going to revamp all the short stories I have and submit them all again. I didn't make my goal of gaining a second fiction publication before the end of 2007 but then if I never have another four months like that again - it will be too soon.

Haven't yet heard what my new duties are for HorrorScope but I'm anxious to get started.

That's it for now....

Good luck with your submissions.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Excellent News

I have just been informed that I have been accepted as the sixth and final new member on the HorrorScope Associate Editors team. It means I get the opportunity to review books, magazines and DVD's in the horror genre - woohoo!!!!!

Make sure you check out the best horror blog on the web :)


What a great way to start the day!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Change is a good thing

They say change is as good as a holiday - whoever they are!

So I've changed the look of the blog to fit in more with the way I write.

Dark fiction/Horror/Twisted/Weird. There are so many names for it now. I'll stick with dark fiction as I think it covers the genre nicely.

Still ultra busy at work and now I have to go help my kids with their homework - no rest for the wicked.

One last piece of news - I applied for an Associate Editors spot today. Won't say where or doing what incase I don't get it. Fingers crossed.


Changes are a happening

As you may have noticed - some fundemental changes are taking place on the blog. The colour scheme and fonts may seem a little out of whack at the moment as I play with a new look. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to want to let me do it from work during my lunch break so I'll have to find the time at home.

My course books arrived yesterday and last night I began reading and working on my first assignment. 15 minutes of "Free Writing" and then revision of the result. Have you ever sat down cold and attempted to write an opinion piece? This was not to be written within 15 minutes but writing for 15 minutes non-stop. It's not as easy as it sounds.

I was instructed not to worry about grammer or spelling or the like - just write. Or, as it turned out, just ramble on. The purpose was to revise the piece to sharpen focus, identify audience, tone, etc etc - an exercise in the style and context of writing professionally. An interesting exercise. Draft 1 and revision 1 were completed last night. I'll leave it for a day or so to allow a fresh pair of eyes to have a look at it on the weekend.

Thanks for reading and good luck in whatever you're doing in your field of writing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Important Horror News

I have just heard that Australian Horror Writers Association is launching their own magazine.

For all the details see here:

or check out the AHWA web site:

Excellent news!!

Get cracking on those stories!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

White Rabbit Syndrome

Where does the time go?

I started a post earlier today at work during my lunch break. I then got called into a meeting which went ridiculously long and turned out to be a waste of time! I then got side tracked with over heating issues in a server rack, and then had to rush off to cricket training - I coach so I had to go.

I got home and then helped my boy with a resume for his first job application.

I only now get time to find out I never finished the blog from work. :(

The internal students began tonight but I still don't have my books. I spoke with the freight company who are blaming the Arts Centre. I spoke with a nice woman from the Arts Centre who blames the dispatchers. Either way, I'm still waiting for my books. Not a great start to the school year.

As soon as I get my course work I'll let you all know what I'm in for.

Started perusing the short story markets again today (this morning before it all hit the fan). Found some new ones to send my current stock to. As of tomorrow I will spend an hour or two each day at the keyboard working on either current stories or course work.

Hope your writing continues to blossom and your submissions are successful!