Sunday, March 30, 2008

Review: Gratia Placenti

Gratia Placenti: For the Sake of Pleasingby Jason, B Sizemore (Editor), Gill Ainsworth (Editor)

Paperback: 196 pages
Publisher: Apex Publications (December 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0978867653
ISBN-13: 978-0978867652

Gratia Placenti is the 2007 follow-up to Apex Publications' first Stoker-nominated featured writer anthology, Aegri Somnia. In the previous anthology, the publishers invited specific authors to participate and then chose a theme. With this publication, they reversed the process, choosing the theme: "For the sake of pleasing", and then inviting the authors to write with theme in mind. The results are nothing short of dark, disturbing examples of the esteemed minds of some sick individuals. Extremely cool!

Ever wanted your writing to shape the world? Ever wanted to be the one artist the rest of humanity wanted to be close to? Be careful what you wish for..., "Translatio" by Geoffrey Girard is an end-of-the-world story that takes place as a writer is compelled to pen his darkest visions. Visions not created in his mind but by an unseen master that is having a wonderful time tormenting the individual while decimating the populace of the entire planet.

"Follow the Canary" by Athena Workman is up next. While telling the story from the point of view of the main character, Athena weaves the theme into the actions of the other characters throughout the tale. For a short story, an amazing amount of world building is intricately woven into the tale to give the reader an excellent grasp of setting, along with the twisted plot and highly developed characters, in a Sci-Fi/Dark Fiction addition to this anthology that’s sure to please.

"Crasher" by Debbie Kuhn is a ghost story. There is my entrant for understatement of the year. “Crasher” is a wonderfully descriptive and emotional piece that takes a twist to lead the reader in a new direction, only to twist on them again, and again. Like watching a blind man crossing a freeway, you know someone’s going to be badly hurt, you’re just not sure who – and you can’t turn away.

David Niall Wilson's "Some Glue Never Dries" is a complex look into one man’s abused mind. Dark in its visions and forceful in its telling, this tale will be worth reading over many times.

"The Cutting Room" by our own Shane Jiraiya Cummings is an amazing tale that many of you will already be aware of. This was the first time I’d had the pleasure of reading it. Shane easily translates the cold and clinical world of the morgue onto the pages and then adds a good measure of dark to disturb the reader. Then he twists, repulsing and yet drawing in the viewer so in the end, the tale will linger in the minds of the anthology reader for some time to come.

"Bright Red Razors" by Teri Jacobs shows a disturbing insight into the world of self-mutilators. With brilliant use of the English language, Teri manages to lead us through a therapy session with a young lady and the torture filled reasoning behind her continued self abuse – or is she driven by an unseen hand of evil? The climactic scene alone is both vivid and shocking. An excellent addition to the anthology.

"Party Makers" by Adrienne Jones is a story about unwittingly selling your soul to the devil, although you wouldn’t know it. It is a strange tale that winds its way through deceit, jealousy and shallowness to wind up in a very weird place. Out of all the stories in this anthology, this one seemed to be the least at ease within its pages.

J.A. Konrath’s “Them’s Good Eats” is a simple tale with a simple plot whose ending was telegraphed well before the end. But it’s also simply a good read. This is so much more than a humorous story involving backward country bumpkins, aliens and the secret to good cracklin’.

"Something Wet" by James Reilly is something different from all the other stories in this anthology and yet with a theme like "For the sake of pleasing", you’d think most of the stories would have touched upon this trope somewhere. Sex....but with a twist. “Something Wet” is about a virtual porn star and the twisted situation he finds himself in when hired to “work” for a disfigured zillionaire. A futuristic setting involving double betrayal, money and murder. Like a sci-fi afternoon soap opera, when you think about it, but much more disturbing when the adverts are removed.

As my day job is in the IT industry, Bev Vincent's "Popup Killer" rang a strange little note of sadistic pleasure deep within me. As the world’s anti-virus companies fall over themselves to keep those nasty pop-up ad’s off our screens, what happens when one gets through the ever tightening net? What happens when that pop-up turns out to be able to remove the most annoying people in your life, for free, no questions asked? Would you? Could you?

"Only Spirits Cry" by R. Thomas Riley was an amazing addition to this collection. At first I couldn’t see why a story set in a modern day fantasy setting, involving unicorns, a gorgon and practitioners of strange magic was included at all. Woven into this setting is a boy who does everything he can to save the life of his mother from a very common modern disease. All very nicely told but surely not particularly dark. Then it dives, slowly delving into the darker forces at play between good and evil and the consequences of the decisions we make. An enchanting story with a definite dark heart.

"The Listening" by Neil Ayres is a slow and studied journey through one man’s efforts to find peace after the disappearance of a loved one. Tied in with the legend of the Selkie, it hints at how the love of one man’s life disappeared, a darker effect when considering she was six months pregnant at the time. Beautifully written, it stands out in this anthology for its total lack of the visceral or blatant evil figures one would expect to see.

Concluding the anthology is Mary Robinette Kowal's futuristic "Tomorrow and Tomorrow", a tale of the desperate things people do for the sake of others, dare I say “for the sake of pleasing” others. Entrapped by her desires and wants as well as her responsibilities for her family, we watch as one mother falls deeper into the side of darkness for all the right reasons.

At less than 200 pages from cover to cover, Gratia Placenti is a quick and comfortable read for those who like their fix of darkness to cross all the perceivable boundaries. This is a highly entertaining read by a collection of highly talented authors.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Review: Gratia Placenti posted on HorrorScope

I've posted my latest review onto the esteemed pages of HorrorScope for you all to read.

Go Here

I have two more reviews to do and then I have the infamous Black Box anthology to review for Brimstone Press - very cool. I've also ordered a copy of Shards by Shane Jiraiya Cummings. Again, very cool.

I've done a first draft (fifth draft) of Ill Wind so that's ready to go to TPN. I've done a first draft of my next assignment and had an Epiphany in regards to my recently returned assignment (watch this space).

I have one week of work left and then three weeks holidays (yay, super cool, yippee) - slaps self in forehead - sorry about that.

I currently have five fiction books crying out for my attention and seven non-fiction books waiting for my time. "Too Late the Rain" needs to be finished as does "Drinkers", "Grimoire" and "Ill Wind" - not to mention my ongoing assignments.

No rest for the wicked - I hope.

Good luck with everything you do if has the slightest connection to your writing - and don't forget to submit it somewhere.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Changes

On a suggestion, I've updated My Work page to be my Bibliography page. It now contains links to the pieces I've had published electronically, all my reviews (both here and on other web sites) and lists of any pieces in print. I'll update the printed list with links to where you can purchase the book(s) as that information becomes available.

The critiques of "Too Late the Rain" are rolling in. Today is the last day and so far I've had 17 responses - pretty good. The glaringly obvious comment is that very few of the readers seem to understand that one of the characters is actually a ghost. It seems I am too subtle in my inferences. The majority of responses have been positive though and nearly all of them have claimed to be disturbed by the story - bingo!

I'm home feeling very sick and sorry for myself today. The weather here has changed from a heat wave to very cool. Guess my body wasn't ready for the change. Today I sit at the keyboard with a jumper on and still feeling cold where as a few days ago I was sweating in a T-shirt.

I need to pick the kids up from school in a couple of hours so I'd better get stuck into some reading. I need to finish a whole bunch of reviews soon. I also received my last assignment back. Apparently, I again mis-read what I was supposed to do. This time however, my writing apparently convinced the lecturer to pass me anyway but with a lower mark. He called my submission "ingenious" which is nice but the grade would exclude me from a credit or distinction so I'll be resubmitting again. :( So yet again I need to finish two assignments and get them sent of ASAP.

So much to do, so little time.

Good luck with your writing and keep on submitting.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Received a rejection letter from Necrology Magazine late last Thursday. As it was the Easter weekend, we closed shop around 16:00, the email arrived 20 minutes later. It took me until late yesterday to find it!

I sent "Grimiore" to them a month ago. Received a nice rejection letter:

"Your work is interesting, but we did not feel it fit our current needs.
We would like to see further submissions from you in the coming future."

I'll have to hold them to that.

A TPN member has sent me all their previous chapters to bring me up to date, I've started reading Gratia Placenti, I'm helping a fellow HorrorScoper with some reviews, I have three stories to revise and polish, an assignment to finish and then there's work and family to fit in!

Time to go and do some work and hopefully fit in some writing stuff - a massive headache has begun drilling the inside of my skull so work of any kind on the PC may not last long.

Good luck with your writing.


Monday, March 24, 2008


Took the lovely wife to IKEA for the first time today. It's a long drive from where we live so the Easter weekend is a good time to have a look. The store is huge with a massive range - you probably all know that already but this was our first time in its doors.

On my birthday, I received a new awesome writing desk and a very comfortable reading chair. Unfortunately the office room is quite small so the writing chair, with the new much bigger desk and the new reading chair wouldn't all fit in there nicely.

So today we bought a new writing chair, and a new bin, and a new lamp, and storage boxes, and etc, etc. $179 later we loaded up the car and headed home. More than we should have spent but we've been good for a while now so we could afford a little splurge. To counter balance this, we've started a fund to pay for future holidays and now throw all our gold coins into a separate jar. In Australia $1 and $2 are gold coins.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. Four days off work and you'd think I'd get plenty of writing done. Not really - I critiqued a few pieces, had two pieces accepted, wrote a first draft of an assignment, accepted an invitation to host a chat on Horror, visited some old cemeteries for research and watched Mary Shelly's Frankenstein on the TV.

But I enjoyed it anyway. Tonight I'll revisit the assignment and hopefully start reading some of the anthologies I have piling up.

Good luck with your writing.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

New Layout

Having taken my inspiration from HorrorScope, the new layout for this blog is pretty much done. Things have been rearranged and the theme has been firmly planted into the dark side. I'm still playing with what picture I want on the background but, rest assured, it will remind the viewer of dark things.

Thanks to Shane from HorrorScope and Smoke and Mirrors, and to MoleCat from Blind Dust Collection for all the help and suggestions.

On the diploma front - things have been a little quiet lately. I haven't received feedback or grading from my last assignment so I've been a little lax on completing the next. Last night I read though it and completed a first draft. I'll look to finishing that tomorrow in time for the start of the new week. As soon as my feedback comes in, I'll send it out the door.

Yesterday was a cool day. I promised my wife we'd look into buying a dog once I'd sorted out the rest of our finances. So yesterday we took a long trip to a breeder to look at some four week old puppies. Very cute. Pictures posted on the web site.

After spending some time with the dogs, we went for a drive through South Australian farm country. In the end we covered over 300km, round trip. We stopped at a couple really old cemeteries and took some photo's of the oldest graves. These were all children's graves. I know it sounds sick but it seems my writing is very much focused on dark fiction involving children.

In no particular order

Drinkers - children vampires
Too Late the Rain - involves a child ghost
Ill Wind - Cot death
Grimoire - involves teenagers
The Gift - Demonic Child
Danielle - Daughter of Satan

I have plenty of other works that don't involve kids primarily but all my latest work does.

In the end, we had a great day out and took some really nice photo's.

I hope you've all had a wonderful Easter.

Good luck with your writing!


On Line Chat Invitation

I've been invited by "Authors by Design" (AbD) to host an online chat into the world of dark fiction. It's a little daunting as I've never done anything like this before and, to be honest, I'm not sure I should be hosting anything of the sort.

Yes I write dark fiction and have some knowledge on the genre. Yes my knowledge and ability in the genre is growing all the time but I'm still a beginner. I'm still unpublished in this genre. I don't want to be seen as putting myself forward as some sort of "expert" in the field when I'm nowhere near that.

Still, members of the forum are fairly insistent on me giving it a shot so I finally said yes. Things are all still to be confirmed but on or around the 19th of April 2008, I'll host my first information chat session on the world of dark fiction - as I know it. I'll post more details and how anyone can attend when it becomes available.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I have just been notified that two of my erotica pieces have been accepted into the "Mammoth Book of Erotic Confessions" due out May 2009.

Strangely, I was first published as an essayist, then as a non-fiction writer and then had a sci-fi drabble accepted. Now I've had two erotica pieces accepted and yet I market myself as a dark fiction writer.

What is the world coming too.......

The two accepted pieces are:

Lounge Sweet


Service Call

Excellent news!

Good luck with your own submissions. Remember, no editor will buy your work if you don't submit it. Take a chance, send it out there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Sorry it's been so long since I last updated. Work has been insane to the point that I've gotten home very tired.

Last weekend was our cricket GF in which we fell apart and got rolled big time. My last ever game of cricket was not particularly memorable - enough said.

The club was nice enough to organise a cake and a card for my birthday which was nice and there were some touching and heart-felt words within it from some of the younger players I've mentored this year.

"Too Late the Rain" should hit the Critters queue tonight and "Drinkers" has gather a few crits from TPN.

I've gathered a new piece to do my next assignment on but haven't yet received feedback on my last one.

I haven't made any time to work on "An ill Wind" yet either. Must do over Easter.

Thank you to MoleCat for leaving a comment. And for your suggestions and help on the blog improvements. I'm yet to make my way over to your blog but if you'd like to swap links and each host the others link - I'd be more than happy to.

OK - that's it for tonight. Short and sweet but I'm yet again ready for bed.

Good luck with your submissions.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Quick Post

Just a quick note.

I did the redesigning on my laptop but then saw it on my larger PC screen. The background picture didn't work so I've removed it for now but I've not given up on sorting something out rather than just plain black.

I think the reorganisation works better regardless.

Cricket today: Day one of the Grand Final - We lost the toss and Virginia decided to bat. They managed to bat for most of the day but only posted 179 runs all out. I took three catches at first slip.

If we bat anywhere near as we have been over the last month or so, we should easily accomplish that. We (ATCO) don't get on particularly well with this opposition so to beat them in the GF after losing twice to them during the year and finishing a distant second to them on the table, will be extremely satisfying and an excellent way to retire.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Eye Opener

I have just finished reading through some of my earlier work. "An Ill Wind" and "Confused Love". The first was originally written in July 2007, the second in August 2007. The premise for both is pretty good although "Ill Wind" (as in "ill wind" - might need to come up with another title that looks better in electronic print) is a stronger, more disturbing piece (or at least could be). "Confused Love" has been sent out to market once and came back with the comment of the reader not being able to really get into the story. "Ill Wind" has been critiqued by one individual some time ago with comments such as "All in all, a pretty good concept and certainly a tale that could be extremely riveting. I just think you have a lot of polishing to do on it."

After rereading them tonight, I'm left shaking my head and wondering whatever convinced me to let others see this work. I have been working hard on "Drinkers" and Too Late the Rain" recently and have done a number of revisions before releasing them to others. I up loaded the latest version of "Too Late the Rain" to Critters earlier today, even though it was originally posted on the queue nearly six weeks ago. It's due for crit next week and although I'd made changes, I didn't want others to see work of mine that I felt to be inferior.

Now the self doubt kicks in. If "Confused love" and "An Ill Wind" need huge amounts of work and I now realise that nearly 12 months down the track - what will I think of "Too Late the Rain" and "Drinkers" 12 months from now? Are they really as good as I think they are. I once thought the earlier two stories were pretty good too.

In the end, those I ask to critique my work and the market will be the true judge. As writers we continue to learn and to grow in our craft. The down side of that is when we look at old works, we instantly see the bad points, the silly structure we employed, the strange use of words.

I banished my self doubts by resolving to rewrite "An Ill Wind" and submit it to it's target competition before April 15th 2008. I have a month to seriously improve it. So be it. "Confused Love" will be turned into the script that it was originally thought up as.

"Drinkers" will be critiqued again next week as will "Too Late the Rain", then both of those will be going out the door. "Drinkers" to Midnight Echo and "Too Late the Rain" to the latest AHWA competition.

I will get additional writing credits from paying markets this year.

I hope you manage the same.

Good luck with your submissions.


Still Playing

I've figured out how to put a background onto the blog but not how to extend it all the way to the right edge - still working on that.

According to my counters, people are visiting my little corner of cyberspace but none of you wish to leave a comment :( Please let me know what you think of the layout and the content. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please. OK I'll stop begging now.

My critiques are still receiving good feedback from TPN which is nice. I'm glad to be useful to some. My crit of a FF members short was also received favourably. I'm not into blowing sunshine up the proverbial so it's comforting to know that some people are serious about wanting to improve their craft. I'm not a total prick about it either so people needn't worry I'm going to set out to destroy them. I only want to help.

I need to update the version of "Too Late the Rain" that is going on Critters soon (I think - I hope) and do at least one crit for those members.

Still waiting on a response from any one of the six pieces I currently have out in the market. Five of them are now over due a response. One has probably been overlooked and the editors not bothered to respond as this is a freelance market and they can be notorious for not responding. Four of them are due a response sometime this month as the deadline was the end of last month. The market is after 500 stories for an anthology of which I've submitted four. The last isn't due a response until mid next month. Soon, "Drinkers" and "Too Late The Rain" will be joining them.

The heat continues here in Adelaide. Today is supposed to top 41C with tomorrow being 39C and Sunday 40C. Not looking good for the cricket grand final. I may well have already played my last game. I've been nominated by the umpires for the Grade 2 medal for cricketer of the year which was nice. I don't expect to come close to some of the others who have been nominated from other clubs but it is nice to get the nod for the 6th time (I think) in my time playing cricket. Unfortunately I've never won it.

Well - time to go crit something for Critters and resub "Too Late the Rain".

Good luck with whatever you're writing at the moment and remember no editor will purchase your work if you don't submit it.


Thursday, March 13, 2008


As you can see, I'm playing around with the background and the colours. I am far from finished. If you visit and like what you see or absolutely hate it, then please comment.

For now - I'm going to bed as its getting late and the heat has drained me. We are currently in the middle of the longest heat wave in Australian history here in Adelaide. 11 days straight over 35C. Today got to 41C and tomorrow is forecast the same. I need some sleep.

My assignment has been posted and I'm completely up to date on my crits. Cricket season finishes this weekend so beginning next week - I'll have time to organise my schedule and really start enjoying life and my writing - looking forward to it!

Hope everything is going as well for you as it is for me. Now if I can only get some acceptances...

Good luck with your submissions.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Review: Black Static Issue #1

Black Static would have been the 43rd issue of “The Third Alternative” (TTA) and released two years ago but the inclusion of Interzone into this stable of magazines required a restructure. No point in competing against yourself. Part of the restructure became allowing TTA to fully embrace its darker side. {Insert evil laugh here} Hence the birth of Black Static.
It’s amazing the magazine actually made it into the light of day, let alone into the hands of subscribers or reviewers. The copy I have is a third reprint of the first issue. Printing issues requiring changes that required further changes may have been enough to derail less determined editors. Thankfully not so in this case and Black Static has been officially delivered to its anxiously waiting public.

I had heard only good things about this British magazine and was not disappointed by my initial experiences.

Stephen Volk’s column “Electric Darkness” discusses the current state of Dark Fiction on the small screen. His insights are amusing but highlight a growing mentality of “playing it safe” by those that control the purse strings. He expands his theories to include Dark Fiction in all its forms. It is a well written column with some interesting thoughts.

“Bury The Carnival” by Simon Avery is simply brilliant. This is short Dark Fiction of the highest calibre. A tale of a magician/puppeteer in a small town and a local reporter who hunts down his secret, only to discover a secret of her own she never knew she had. The prose is excellent with descriptive passages of outstanding quality and the characters are beautifully crafted (in more ways than one) allowing a strong buy in by the reader.

After such a strong opening for issue #1, I was a little disappointed by the remaining content.

“Nights Plutonian Shore” by Mike O’Driscoll seems to begin as a commentary on the media in general. As this is a Dark Fiction magazine I patiently continued to read, expecting the discussion to turn to specific dark offerings in media not covered in other columns. Unfortunately it turned into a diatribe against the media in general over the handling of the Madeleine McCann abduction case in Portugal. Due to the delays in releasing the issue, the comments are unfortunately those of someone not fully informed and are easily interpreted as simply “having a go” at a ferocious European media, in particular the British press.

“Pale Saints & Dark Madonnas” by Jamie Barras is a tale based on true events in South America. It involves an age old religion based on West African Voodoo, transported/transplanted along with slaves in the early 1800’s and continued by the poorer classes in the slums of Rio to this day. The story is well written but skims across the surface of what could have been a much deeper and more disturbing sequence of events.

“Interference” is another column within the issue. By Christopher Fowler it descends quickly into a social commentary slanging off the lack of morals and increasing apathy in England. That maybe so but I’m not sure what it has to do with Dark Fiction.

“Acton Undream” by Daniel Bennett is an interesting premise for a dark tale. If we could dream things into reality, could we then undream real things into oblivion? Unfortunately the possibilities were not endless for the author and seemed to take a relatively mundane trek to a telegraphed ending.

Yet another column then separates the fictional offerings. “Blood Spectrum” by Tony Lee reviews Dark Fiction on the big screen. Unlike his two previous columnists, Tony discusses Dark Fiction on the big screen! This was surprising after the complete lack of pertinent content in the earlier commentaries. Tony gives the reader lots of useful information on films and everyone involved in the making of them. He provides more than enough detail for any movie goer to make an informed choice on their next cinematic experience.

“Votary” by Mary K. Hobson is, as the title suggests, a story of devotion - between a daughter and her father. But because this is a tale of Dark Fiction, there is a twist. The story has well defined three dimensional characters (some much larger than others) that allow the reader to gain an empathy with two rather nasty pieces of work. The second shortest of the offered works, it easily deserves its place in this first issue.

“Japan’s Dark Lanterns” is a column by John Paul Catton, told in a satirical manner, regarding the current (May 2007) state of affairs in Japan. Offered as a transcript of an interview between a teacher and one of his students, it is a light hearted look at one man’s opinion of modern Japan. Although amusing to read it touches on some serious political and social issues. Not sure what this has to do with Dark Fiction though....

“My Stone Desire” by Joel Lane is a dark tale of reminiscence by a police officer. During his last year at the academy, he meets a young woman and begins a journey of self awakening. Filled with metaphors, the shortest piece in this issue makes for interesting reading.

“Case Notes” by Peter Tennant is a comprehensive section of the magazine with “Bury The Carnival” being the only section to take up more pages. The first section covers a review of Michael Marshall-Smith’s (or his other by-line Michael Marshall’s) latest two published titles. Peter gives a good overview of the artist and the two books: The Servants and The Intruders.
A transcript of an interview between Peter and the author is then offered although this is very short with only six questions answered.

Peter moves onto reviews of three novellas although this takes a second to differentiate from his involvement with Michael Marshall-Smith as it’s tacked onto the bottom of a page with no heading of its own. Still his reviews are straight forward and pull no punches. He calls a spade a spade and a lack of innovation, “just solid storytelling”.

Again without fanfare or title, “Case Notes” moves on to cover stories involving vampires. After offering up reviews on six titles and interesting side facts, he continues to review other Dark Fiction/Horror books without letting the reader know that, what looked like a special section on vampires, is now over.

“Case Notes” is filled with good stuff but it is not well laid out.

“Lady Of The Crows” by Tim Casson is an interesting tale that is filled with tension building, well built characters and great descriptive phrases that – fizzles into nothing. I thought it was a column on dark theatrical offerings to begin with (which I thought was a cool idea), but turned out to be an interesting opening to what quickly built into a well paced and well written piece of short fiction. The last twelve paragraphs were rushed through leaving me wondering why the author had gone to such lengths to rush it to an unsatisfactory ending. Did the editors need to cut it off right there and then to fit it into the issue at the cost of a better ending? I hope not.

In the end, Black Static didn’t quite reach the heights I was hoping it would. Three of the “features” weren’t relevant to turning TTA to its darker side as mentioned in the editorial “White Noise” first up.

They have had a huge amount of teething problems getting the first issue of this magazine out to the public. Feedback through their readership and from reviews such as this will shape future issues for the better – I hope.

For any writers of Dark Fiction out there, I would suggest you buy the first issue, if for no other reason than to read Simon Avery’s “Bury The Carnival”. To the editors of Black Static I would suggest they ensure their features/columns are relevant to the magazine’s overall aim otherwise cut them and spend the extra money on some additional fictional offerings.

I look forward to Issue #2 with the new format that they had so many issues with on the release of Issue #1.

Honest or Harsh

I've just finished and posted my comments for the first six chapters of a fellow TPN members book. I was, I believe, honest - she may well think it's too harsh.

I wait with trepidation for her response.

I finally got around to signing off on my third assignment so it can go out the door tomorrow morning.

I posted the new version of Drinkers to the crit group.

I've done enough for tonight, I can barely keep my eyes open. I'll post my Black Static review and then its off to bed for me.

Hope you've all had a productive day.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Drinkers Version 3 (now known as Dark Rose)

I completed an extended rewrite of my new short story "Drinkers" last night. I took into account most of the changes suggested by members of TPN, omitting only those that asked to insert some passive phrases.

The biggest comment I received was on it's length so "Drinkers", like "Too Late the Rain" before it, has now doubled in size.

I'll post it back to the crit group tonight after cricket training (if I get a chance).

I have one and a half chapters left to go on my crit of one members novel. This isn't a completed work. Only up to chapter 8 has been submitted for critique to this point. I still have a short to do for FF member and I'd like to comment on part two of another short by another TPN member.

I have also offered my services as a type of mentor for another TPN member who is about to start submitting work into the big bad world of the editors.

I want to do some more lay out changes on the blog. When I post a review, it looks cluttered in its present format so some tinkering is required - stay tuned.

I'll post my review of Black Static tomorrow on here and the web site.

I forgot to post out my assignment today so I'll do a final check on that tonight and send tomorrow.

Not a lot else to report at this time.

Hope your writing is going well and all your submissions are accepted.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Review: Albedo One, Issue #34

Albedo One is Ireland’s Magazine of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. It is also home of the Aeon Award .

They claim under their guidelines, their definition of what constitutes SF, horror and fantasy is extremely broad and they love to see material which pushes at the boundaries – I think they have easily achieved that goal within this issue and still remained within the chosen theme of “Things Change”.

Once I moved on from the beautiful cover art, the first item I came across was an Interview with Raymond E Feist by Bob Neilson titled “Hey I think I forgot Uncle Tom Cobley”.

I found this to be a down to earth and open look at Raymond’s career from Magician through to Wrath of a Mad God, and the processes he, as a writer, has gone through to make that journey. He is very candid and gives some interesting insights, not only into the world of Epic Fantasy but into writing in general - with some interesting thoughts on other genres. Detailed discussion into the titles he believes will make writers into authors would be worth the price of the mag alone for new scribes among us.

But Albedo One prides itself on distinctive fiction and as previously stated, in this department it delivers.

“LOOB: Love Only Oily Bodies” by William R. Eakin’s is a dark tale that encompasses a man who is finally forced to find himself - his inner self. This is a complex tale told with an underlying force that pushes the reader on to an unexpected ending.

"The White Knight" by Devon Code placed third in the Aeon Award 2006-2007 contest. After reading this, you’ll never look at chess, Casablanca or research assistants the same.

"Boneless" by Rebecca Sian Pyne is based on an Oxfordshire legend about a gelatinous monster that roams the leafy English countryside engulfing unlucky travellers. This is a delightfully twisted tale of a man receiving justice from an unlikely source. Rich in its descriptions and almost tangible in its flavours, Boneless is an excellent example that cheating wives can sometimes be called on to pay their dues.

"Angelus" by Nina Allan was the winning entrant for the Aeon Award for 2007. It is an in-depth characterization of two men whose lives are irrevocably changed by a single woman and the different relationships they have with her. The tale is rich in detail and highly charged with emotional minefields as two men meet up again years after they’d last seen each other and the thread that ties them together.

"Alice & Bob", by Phil Raines and Harvey Welles, is very different. I’ve never been a fan of stories told disjointedly through the exchange of letters, but here it works. In a world where your very location isn’t guaranteed we follow a love story as it unfolds via letters left by Alice and Bob. Through their missives we learn how the world has gone to ruin through unnatural forces acting on the flesh of mankind to pick them up without warning (and without their clothing) and transport them to a random point somewhere else on the globe: hardly the type of situation conducive to finding a soul-mate.

"Isle of Beauty" by Larry Taylor came second place in the Aeon Award 2006-2007 contest. This apocalyptic tale focuses on one small community and how they come together to cope with the change that is about to be thrust upon them. Told with fantastic descriptiveness, the changes this college based community go through is amazing and thought provoking. It is the least abstract of all the pieces presented and yet easily holds its head up among its surrounding award winners.

"Siren" by Nassau Hedron takes yet another road to illuminating how things change with a story depicting the relationship of a man and a woman through different incarnations, as they progress through time. The change is not the incarnations but the equilibrium of their relationship – it is a change that is unexpected and all the more powerful because it should have happened a long time ago. Love between a man and a woman can be strong; love between a mother and child is something else entirely.

"The Supplanter" by James Steimle is a strange little tale of ghosts, child birth and the passage of spirits from one generation to the next.

In the back of the magazine is more reviews than you’ll need to decide on your next month’s fictional purchases but hidden within them was Australia's own David Conyers. Of particular note is an excellent review by David of Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2006. I imagine Albedo may be happy to take a follow up review for the just released 2007 edition.

Also among the reviews I found an excellent review for Aurealis #36 (Issue #38/39 out now) from a self confessed “not the biggest fan” of Sci-Fi, Andrew McKenna, a regular reviewer for the magazine for the past three issues.

It is proof positive that Australian fiction is being taken ever more seriously around the world.

Albedo One, Issue 34 is out now.

Hell's Kitchen Continues

I have a few posts to put up today dealing with a number of different things, hence the separate posts.

South Australia is in the middle of a heat wave. Temperatures routinely above 35C have been recorded for the past week and will continue for the foreseeable future.

The heat allowed us to win our semi final in the cricket without me having to bat. We have a heat ruling where if it is forecast 40C or higher the night before play - then the game is cancelled. As we finished higher than our opposition, we proceed through to the grand final. So my 150th game for the club goes down as a win but celebrations were kept to a minimum.

My assignment has been rechecked and will go out tomorrow.

I'm almost caught up on my critiquing requirements for TPN. Only one more member to satisfy.

I have received comments on "Drinkers" from fellow TPN members and will commence revision work shortly. It seems I need to expand on this story as I did with "Too Late The Rain", which will be the next piece I put up on TPN for crit.

I'm critiquing a short for a Fiction Factor member.

My review of Black Static has been posted here. I'll post to this blog and my web site in a couple of days.

That's it for this post, I'll throw up the Albedo One review now for your perusal.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Love Hate relationship

I have finally received a marked and commented assignment back. Another B minus. Must be my starting grade, something to build from.

My lecturer for this first module is a hard task master I think. Reminds me of an architecture professor I read about once in another piece of fiction. Only different. The Prof was the type that knew his stuff and rode his students hard, never offering friendship or trying to build a rapport outside the classroom. That's OK I think. He's there to teach and students are there to learn. Push those who have a talent harder, make them achieve more. All good stuff.

My lecturer is a little different. He puts my submissions down, with no regard he points out flaws with a casualness bordering on callousness. I can almost see the smirk as he writes his comments. The use of the phrase "rather ordinary" when refering to my first draft that was required to be handed up, is a little harsh I would have thought. Still, in amongst this he welcomes me to the course warmly, is glad I'm enrolled, looks forward to working with me. A wolf in sheeps clothing if ever I saw one.

Perhaps, I'm being too harsh and reading things into it that aren't really there. Perhaps I'm still a little sensitive over my own work. We'll see. I will continue to try my best and continue to shoot for a minimum of a B grade.

I'll go over my next assignment one last time before submitting it early next week.

Albedo One review has been posted. You can see it here. I'll post it to this blog and my web site in a day or two.

My books arrived today so now I have Black Static to review and three anthologies, plus a short story to crit and seven chapters to read before I can crit the 8th.

Oh - and I have the cricket semi final to play over both days this weekend.

No rest for the wicked.

Good luck with your submissions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And then it hit me...

Yesterday, I was driving to my local convenience store to grab a packet of smokes and had to stop at a pedestrian crossing. A little blond-haired girl was standing there holding her Mum's hand, waiting for the cue to cross. She looked across at me sitting behind the wheel and smiled. Not a smile of friendly greeting or of mischievous delight but one bordering on malevolence. It was as if she was coldly amused that she'd managed to stop me by pushing a button, as if she'd just discovered a very powerful secret and was determined to get everything she could out of it.

My guess is that she was just pleased as punch that her button push had stopped a few cars but the smile on her face triggered off some amazing thoughts in my head. I had a really big idea for a story. Not a short story but a novel sized story. Today I began researching it, putting little snippets together and now I have an idea for two books - independent tales but connected through this little girl.

Talk about excited! for labelling purposes - the working title for the story is Danielle.

My crit group (TPN) seems to have come alive. Through looking at past going's on and talking with members, it seems to have moments of activity laced with long periods of inactivity. My joining may have triggered a new round of the former. I've critiqued one chapter and one short. I have at least another chapter to do and another short with another members chapter coming soon.

Still waiting on crits to my little piece.

I have two stories to go in Albedo before I decide on my review - its growing on me. Now that the stories have settled into my subconscious, it is definitely growing on me. I should have the review by the weekend - stay tuned.

My copy of Black Static arrived today. I've only glanced through it but it looks right up my alley - so to speak. Nice and dark and full of hidden tales concerning my end of the spectrum - very cool.

Still no reply on the resubmitted assignment.

Busy, busy, busy.....

Hope everything is going gangbusters in your neck of the woods.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Crits and Reading

Not getting a lot of fictional writing done lately. I've posted a few critiques into my new writers group "The Prose Nest" (TPN) but haven't had anyone take a look at my little short yet.

I've packaged up my latest assignment but decided to hang onto it until I gain feedback on my resubmitted one.

Slugging my way through the latest issue of Albedo One. I've read six or so stories and the interview so far. The interview is good and worth the cost of the mag but I've only identified with two of the stories so far. Some of those I thought not particularly great are apparent award winners. I've asked a fellow HorrorScoper for their opinion so we'll see if I'm in over my head or not. Personally, I just don't like most of the stories in the mag. :(

Tonight I have other commitments, (Cricket) so its a non-writing related night, but that's cool. I don't like to obsess and my writing was definitely bordering on an obsession. I'm slowly reigning it in again although those that are closest to me may disagree. ;)

For those of you interested, the short list for Australia's Premier Award in Dark Fiction, The Australian Shadow Award has been announced. You can check it out here.

Good luck with your submissions.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Assignment 2 Graded and Assignment 3 Done - Again

I received the second of my assignments back in the post today. Unknown to me, I have a different lecturer for this module as well.

The good news is that I don't have to redo this one - I passed with a B-. My goal is to achieve all A's and B's to make me eligible for credits and distinctions so this grade just scraps in as a minimum.

I have redone assignment 3 and will send that off later this week, although I'm tempted to wait until I receive comments from the resubmitted assignment 1. We'll see.

Now to continue the review of Albedo One....

A new week

My ability to blog on a weekend is not good at the moment. That should change in a couple of weeks with the end of cricket season fast approaching. Speaking of cricket, we won again on the weekend, chasing down the required 221 with a single wicket to spare. Nail biting stuff. I made 86 this week and am now really paying for it. The body just can't recover as it once did. Still we finished second after the home and away season and have the semi-finals this weekend.

On the writing front: my lad is home from school today - a bad case of gastro. Gives me a good excuse to work from home. This will allow me to get ahead on my assignments and catch up on some writing so I hope to be posting later on with updates on all fronts.

I have posted my first crit on Authors by Design (AbD) and put my latest short up for comment. It will be nice working with this group. If nothing else, the moderator seems nice and I think we'll get on well. Fingers crossed.

I received my advanced copy of Albedo 1 Issue #34 to review. I'll post a link to HorrorScope when I post it and then add it to my review page a day or so after that. So far it looks like a good read.

Well, that's it for now.

Good luck with your submissions