Friday, October 31, 2008

Done & Dusted

The laptop is fixed. I'm sure you don't want to hear about the boring details, but I managed to fix it and maintain my data and applications.

For those of you who have stared at a computer screen for hours on end, you will understand how tiring it is to ones eyes. I have a load of work to catch up on but tonight is not the time.

Alex - I wasn't at work today, so I apologise if you've tried to contact me and I haven't returned your email. I'll forward my home email address shortly.

Happy Halloween everybody, I hope you have a great one.


Fingers Crossed

It's taken me a further three hours, but things are looking stable again. Hopefully I won't have to throw the laptop out the window after all.

The only up side has been the ability to read the very first issue of AHWA's Midnight Echo while I was waiting.

Exceptional - and I'm only halfway through it!

(It doesn't take me three hours to read half a magazine - I've been doing other stuff too)

So far my favourite is "Suburban Cowboys" by Natalie J E Potts.

In passing, can I also add my congratulations and praise to Felicity Dowker whose story "They Live Under The House" was a very enjoyable read.

Time to get back to fixing my laptop. I still need to do heaps of updates to get it back to a true working state as opposed to just working as it is now. No fun trying to work without a delete key - just as well the backspace key still functions...

Speak soon


Wasted Evening

Another chunk of lost time due to machine issues. I spent 4 hours trying to repair my system which experienced really bad display issues last night - right in the middle of me doing research and notes on my latest assignment.

Not happy.

Today I'm trying to do a system restore to before I installed Service Pack 3 when I believe all these issues began. I'm about halfway through the restore and the screen is flickering again. If it locks up during this process, I may not be left with any option but to rebuild it. Ever seen an angry and frustrated IT technician who is also a writer missing out on writing time because he has to fix the stupid computer first - not pretty.

So I'm resorting to using the family computer instead of my laptop while it restores. I really don't like the keyboard on this machine or where it's situated on the desk - gives me a sore back when I type.

At least I've fully backed up all my work on the laptop. Not looking forward to having to reinstall all my applications. Touch wood (places hand on head) it won't come to that.

Not how I envisioned spending Halloween...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Great Idea

I was reading over at Alexandra Sokoloff's blog and came across this little gem:

Subscribe to Publishers Lunch, (not Launch as previously misread) a free newsletter that you can sign up for on the Publishers' Weekly site, and start a notebook in which you list agents who have sold books in your genre that week and the editors and publishing houses they have sold to.
Use the link to the the Lunch above as the link on Alex's site is wrong. Unfortunately, the free version only shares three stories from the days issue.

This seemed like such a simple and brilliant idea for every writer out there that has a manuscript and no agent. On further investigation, it seems you need to subscribe to the deluxe model to gain the benefits Alex mentions.


I've subscribed anyway to check out in full what they send out. It was then I discovered there's up to a three week wait before I'll receive my first emailed issue!

I'll let you know what arrives and how useful it is.


Thunder & Lightning & Your Brain

Last night we had a huge electrical storm hang out over the house - well, circle around the suburb at the very least. I kid you not. When I got into work this morning, some of my colleagues reported a bit of rain while others reported Nada. We had the full box and dice and it was very loud at times.

So I did the right thing and left the computers off for the majority of the night. I have enough issues with a faulty video driver without blowing the thing up altogether.

Doing the right thing, left me with doing nothing in regards to writing work. I didn't even read. I just vegged. It was nice.

I've been catching up on my feeds this morning as I now tend to do. Each morning I get to work and skim the online version of the paper, and then read all the blogs that have been updated. If I didn't blog last night I get that done (as I'm doing now).

While surfing this morning I came across the little lady found here at the Left Brain v Right Brain Test. I remember coming across this some time ago and posting it at the forums I was involved with at the time. Back then I used to be able to make her switch direction almost at will.
Now she is predominately a clockwise girl for me. If I look away so she's only in my peripheral vision, I can get her to change direction but it's difficult.
So clockwise is supposed to mean I'm right sided and apparently different to the majority.
But does the simple fact that I can make her change direction (not as easily as I once did, granted) mean I'm more liable to use both sides of my brain equally.
Given the break down of functions I end up with:

uses logic - Definitely Me
detail oriented - Definitely Me
facts rule - Definitely Me
words and language - I write, therefore I am...Definitely Me
present and past - Not really
maths and science - Math - no, Science, kind of.
can comprehend - Yes
knowing - Definitely Me
acknowledges - 50-50 on this one
order/pattern perception - Yep
knows object name - I can't remember my phone number
reality based - In my life - definitely
forms strategies - Based on possibilities
practical - Definitely Me
safe - Definitely Me
So I match up well on 10 out of 14 with another 3 being a big part of me. Past and present is the only one I would say no to and yet I love history, but in my everyday life I'm very much more about now and planning for the future.
But then match them against the right side:

uses feeling - I consider myself quite empathic
"big picture" oriented - Definitely Me but I break it down into manageable bits
imagination rules - In my writing and in the way I resolve issues definitely
symbols and images - symbols - no, images - yes.
present and future - Definitely
philosophy & religion - Philosophy - yes, religion - not really unless it's in my writing
can "get it" (i.e. meaning) - Yep
believes - No
appreciates - Yes
spatial perception - I would have thought so
knows object function - Yep
fantasy based - in my writing
presents possibilities - to form strategies for the future
impetuous - no
risk taking - no
So more definite No's on this side of things.
Which is strange I guess. I see myself as a practical, non "arty" individual. I think of things logically and tend to be a little old fashioned in many ways. I'm a safe traditional kind of guy... who writes dark fiction, predominately involving children.
It takes all kinds to make the world go round, I guess.
Which way does she turn for you and how do you stack up on the brain function side of things?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Quiet Day

Work is on slow down as we head toward November - anyone would think we break up for Xmas a month before anyone else (we don't, we only break up on Christmas Eve this year).

So in my quiet times, I've managed to do what I started doing nearly two years ago - I write.

In December 2006, I began to write my first manuscript, 'Tigers Eye' - a 130,000 word epic fantasy novel. I took me till May 2007 to finish it. A few months back I started to edit the original manuscript and found I really didn't know a lot about writing back then. It was pretty bad.

Since then I've had published, or have had accepted to be published, five fiction pieces. On top of that, I've had 6 articles printed, and numerous reviews (both online and in print). I've also just about completed the first year of my Advanced Diploma (three to go).

I am fast approaching having read 30 books so far this year which averages out to a little less than a book a week. If truth be told, I really started getting back into reading when I was accepted onto the HorrorScope team, so I've read 30 or so books in only 36 or so weeks - much closer to one book a week.

But this isn't supposed to be a round-up of what I've done so far this year - that'll come in December - this was supposed to be about last night.

I had trouble sleeping last night. I seem to be going through the brain equivalent of the drinkers issue of "releasing the seal" - this is where someone goes out for a night on the town and drinks plenty. To start with they don't need to go to the toilet but eventually they must. Once they go, they have to go on a regular basis whereas up to that point, they haven't had to go at all - hence why the term for the first visit to the loo is called "releasing the seal" - maybe you have a different term for it.

Anyway, back to last night. It seems my recent increase in creative thoughts has "released the seal" on my artistic side. I tossed and turned because an idea was formulating in my mind's eye. As I lay there examining this little embryo of an idea, I added and discarded additional thoughts, plots, and characters. I kept telling myself not to interrupt the flow, let the whole idea come out and then you can get up and write it down. Then other noises pressed in from the real world. I tried to stick with the coaxing of my new story but I kept getting distracted and then, like a bubble, it popped and went away, leaving only vague recollections like a visions from a dream on waking.

It was very disappointing to the point where I didn't get a lot of sleep for the remainder of the night. So I came to work today and gathered up the remnants of my idea and started trying to fit them back together like a jigsaw that was missing pieces and without the front of the box to help me.

I came up with an outline, a 1200 word outline - the bare bones if you will, with no dialogue or descriptive prowess. I saw a story unfold in my head and wrote down the dot points of the picture in my mind's eye.

Problem: I now have three new premises waiting to be worked on and Newland is still waiting patiently for me to return. It's not a bad problem to have - too many new ideas all at once, but where does one find the time?

I have reading to do, stuff I've promised others that I'd look at and comment on, so that has to be done. Maybe I need to just build up the ideas file for times when I suddenly do have time - I'm sure that time will come again (in about three more years when I've finished my diploma).

I've been sitting in one spot for too long and I'm now in desperate need to move about. Time for smoko.

Speak to you later.


The Bullsheet Has A New Home

Heads up folks. One of the best sources of information for writers has moved to a new home.

Here's a copy of the email I received:

The web version of the Bullsheet can now be found at:

Ted Scribner, our Ace webmaster, keeps the site updated as the month progresses, so it's worth while dropping by to catch the latest news.

Our thanks to Jeremy Byrne for his help in finding the Bullsheet a new home.

Bests Edwina

If you don't currently subscribe to the Bullsheet, drop by and have a look. You'll find out all the good oil on things going on in the industry - subscribe today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And Kermit Sang...

Moving right along...sorry, it just popped into my head. I'm obviously coming to the end of this semester because my head is already moving into a more creative space. All sorts of things are just popping into that vacant space I sometimes call a mind.

The diploma assignment writing tends to be a very structured affair and follows a set formulae (at least the writing articles for publication side does) - I 'finished' the short story module sometime ago so nearly all the recent assignments have been on article writing. Maybe I should have paid more attention to Bianca's blog to help me in that area - doh!

Anyhoo - finished with assignment 7 tonight and packaged it up for posting. Hopefully I'll get this one posted tomorrow. Just as hopefully, I'll receive some of my recently sent assignments back soon. Seems hope is also springing eternal around here lately. (or is that waxing lyrical?)

Strikes the banjo, cues Fozzie - 'Moving right along' (shoot me now!)

I've had an idea for the final assignment in this article based module. It requires a little bit of research (another idea has arrived) and an article from Bianca on the perfect query letter to editors - do you have one already posted on your blog - if not, I think it'd make a good article for you to do - I'll link to it. (insert gentle nudging and winking here)

Visions of a green Studebaker (sp??) flash before my eyes (this is getting ridiculous).

I may have also finally fixed my video driver issues. The laptop crashed again early this evening leaving me with the prospect of another wasted evening trying to track down the culprit. I rebooted it twice to finally get back in and then stripped the drivers back to the bones. I then went and found a high performance driver and installed it - now things seem to be back to where I was a month ago - stable, touch wood (places hand on head).

In the words of Porky - th,th,that's all folks. (time to go before I damage my horrific image any further) (or use anymore bracketed comments)




You will have noticed the appearance of two ads on this site. The banner at the top for Amazon and there's a book carousel all the way down the bottom - also linked to Amazon.

I used to have another banner many months back, but thought it wasn't particularly useful, so I removed it. As the associate emails arrived, I didn't bother checking them. Today I finally decided to have a look at my account and was surprised to find some money in there - not a lot of money (I think the correct word here is pittance) but it was surprising to find anything.

So obviously banners dealing with books and writing provide some useful information to visitors of this site - hence the return.

I'm considering adding one last banner partway down the side bar - in fact I will. You'll see it appear shortly after this post.

Let me know if you think they're useful or some form of intrusion? Do they detract from the site in a big way?

I'd appreciate your input.


**Update** - Okay, I changed the top ad from the Amazon banner because it looked horrible and switched it with the Adsense banner. I added a Kindle ad partway down the side bar and the carousel at the bottom. What do you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Long Evening

It seemed to take a long time for me to actually make it to the computer this evening. By the time I did, I didn't have a huge amount of energy or enthusiasm for the task at hand, but I did it anyway.

Module 2, assignment 7 has been done. It turned out to be a large one too. I began with a 908 word supplied piece which needed to be edited into a tighter version, improving the flow as I went. This is very much like my critiquing process where I try to tighten things but not interrupt or influence the original writers voice or meaning. I managed to get it down to 565 words and convey a stronger message, while maintaining the focus of the article.

Then I had to dig out an article I'd done earlier for the diploma or another article I'd submitted elsewhere. Well, I've only done one article in full for the diploma - everything else has been outlined. So I turned to articles I'd written for SA50s+. All but one fell below the requested 750 words - my article on the World Tennis Challenge scheduled for Memorial Drive in January.

After refreshing my memory on the contents of the 803 word article, I found some areas where the teachings of unit 7 would make the article tighter. However I went a step further and removed bits and tightened the delivery of the article, turning it from a casual sales pitch to an older demographic, into a more considered and articulate article espousing the virtues of attending the approaching spectacle. The edited article now stands at a mere 629 words - my editor would have preferred that size I think (she'll shoot me if she reads this).

Because there was so much more in this assignment submission than I realised, I'll let it sit another day and reread my prepared submission before sending - just to be sure.

That will leave me with one last assignment to do - and it's another two part assignment. I need to come up with a new idea for an article, target a publication, and write a query letter outlining my article to the editor - I need to submit the letter and an explanation as to the formulation of the idea as part one of the assessment.

Part 2 is choosing two additional publications that could be interested in my idea and outline how I would alter the article to fit into the new publications. I need to submit the names and addresses of the publications and 150 word explanations of the changes and why.

This could take a bit of thinking and I'm way too tired tonight to worry over it.

Before I go I have one last thing to share.

Two new ideas popped into my head today. A colleague was doing the rounds at work and asking people if they were interested in joining a union - bang - idea number one came into existence and I rattled off the first three pages and an outline right then and there while the guy was outlining the benefits of joining. He left looking at me rather strangely. I was pretty pleased with myself. So I was a happy chappy when I got in the car to go home. Turning the ignition, the radio came on and the DJ was talking about a new competition based on a popular theme from a movie first shown a while ago now - one I haven't seen.

Wouldn't matter even if I had seen it because I understand what it was about - bang - idea number two came into existence - this time it's just the idea, a vague outline. I fish into my bag and pull out my Dictaphone. I record my idea and transcribe it later on into the ideas file for later use. It isn't the same as the movie - it's a different take on a play on words the DJ used in his segue to introducing the competition. Complicated thought process - welcome to my world...

Both of these ideas will be turned into short stories after I've finished with the diploma this year. I also need to start thinking about pieces for next years contests. They're not that far away when you need to include initial writing, rewrites, edits, beta readers, polishing and then submission.

I was saying I couldn't have drawn out the writing of Wamphyri for 5 months back in July (I think). It didn't quite take me that long to get it to a stage I really like, but it was only about six weeks off. On a good night I can rattle off 3-4000 words. The original version of Wamphyri was 4300 words which I wrote in a night. It is now 3999 (I think) and much of the original work is still there, but the quality is in the details. One beta reader has commented that it could be the best thing I've written so far. We'll see what the market thinks once it's been graded.

Okay - that's more than enough for this post. Time for bed.

Best of luck with all your writing endeavours.


Blow Me Away

When submitting a manuscript to an agent for consideration, I get that a query letter and the synopsis is important.

I was a little surprised to read an article by Jessica Faust over at BookEnds concerning the query letter from the agents POV. This is not the query from author to agent, this is the agent to editor query letter - the one they write trying to sell the manuscript they agreed to represent for you.

Stepping back for a moment; obviously agents shop around your work by submitting it to editors, but they don't just make a gazillion copies and send them to all the publishing houses in the phone book. They craft a query letter. And I mean seriously craft a query letter.

It only makes sense that we extend agents the same courtesy. As J.A. Konrath is fond of reminding all us noobies - be professional about your writing career.

So if you are submitting your manuscript out to agents, or hope to so at some stage, then ensure you spend a similar effort in preparing your synopsis and your query letter as you did in polishing and agonising over the story itself.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Almost There

The video driver issue isn't fully resolved it would seem. I had a small hiccup earlier but it corrected itself almost immediately.

So for tonight, I ignored it and continued on.

I've done the draft version of my next assignment. I'll leave it for now and reread it tomorrow night. If it all seems okay, I'll send it out soon after that.

I'd like to draft up the last assignment I need to do tomorrow night as well, although that looked to have a bit more to it so it may take a little longer. I want to get them done and dusted because I expect some of the four I sent off recently to return. If one or more require submission (just being practical), I want to have the decks cleared so I can redo them and resend them quickly. If they come back as passes, then I'm done for the year and I can celebrate.

I've also sent off two queries as to the status of a couple of submissions. A response is a little overdue. The others I'm not expecting a response on for a few weeks yet.

I'm hoping the draft version of Wamphyri returns with good comments so that can go out to market. I think I'll submit it to Midnight Echo, Issue #2 first. I want to read issue #1 to see what style of story they accepted first time round (and to read Felicity's accepted piece). I know they have different editors this time round, which one could assume they will want different types of stories, but a guideline would be a good thing.

I hope you all had a good weekend.

Good luck with all your writing endeavours.

Speak to you soon.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Bloody Video Drivers

I've been inconsistent at best this week with anything to do with my laptop. The video driver is liable to have a hissy fit at any given moment so the motivation for working on the computer has been severely reduced.

Almost every time I've been on it this week, I've spent more time trying to fix it then trying to write.

I wrote the above comments last night before the thing died again.

I walked away in disgust and came back to it this afternoon. I have now rolled back Service Pack 3 for XP and reinstalled the video drivers. Using the inbuilt Nvidia control panel, I've setup the laptop and my main monitor to be dual screen with the primary monitor being the impressively large screen on my desk. The laptop is now just a handy device to run my hard drive and usb key from.

It seems to be stable now - touch wood. (Places finger on top of head)

It has taken me a week to get on top of this issue without rebuilding my machine from scratch and keeping all my work in tact. Backups are all well and good but not having to use them is better.

I finally posted off the four assignments I completed, either late last week or first thing this week, before everything went belly up.

According to my task list, I have three left to do for the year, including the assignment for Wamphyri - so really only two.

I figure I'll knock those off ASAP which should leave me until February next year to concentrate on Newland and anything else that pops up. Allowing myself time to work on my own writing has been sadly lacking recently.

Time to fix that as soon as I do these last two assignments.

Time to work.

(I can't believe I finally finished this post!)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Interesting Stuff

I had a total bludge day yesterday. Very slack.

I think my laptop is developing a serious issue since the upgrade to SP3 so I may wind that back tonight. The video driver is having conniptions and getting stuck in a loop. I'll try an upgraded driver first but it seems strange how I never had an issue until the SP3 upgrade.

Today I've been surfing through my feeds while eating breakfast and came across some interesting stuff. If you haven't yet been through my list of industry links, I strongly advise you to do so. If you're like me and still working at the writing game, having only limited publishing success with short stories, and don't have an agent - then some of this stuff may seem useless to you, but if you dream of changing those circumstances, getting an agent and writing for a living, then you need to know what you're aiming at.

Now I need to go write a letter of introduction for a colleague to try and land him a career change - which I should have done last night but like I said, I had a big bludge night.

Speak to you soon


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In the leadup to Halloween...

I stole this from Jamie over at "A Continuity of Parks", we don't celebrate All Hallows Eve with the same vigour, but this is pretty cool.


I did say I'd check out John Joseph Adams list of the best 21 blogs. I have now fulfilled that promise.

Here's what I found:

Authors Blogs

John Scalzi: Yes he writes about writing on occasion and his advice is pretty good, but it's not often enough for my requirements. I won't be adding it to my feed list.

Tess Gerritsen: Some really good stuff here. I'll add it to my feed list but she had family issues at the moment that is seriously cutting into any writing time, let alone blogging time. It did however lead me to this site Murderati, which markets itself as a Thriller/Mystery/Murder type of author site, but we all know that sub-genres of horror are called all sorts of things today. It has some really good information from a wide variety of authors. I'll be adding this one to the feed list. Unfortunately Murderati didn't make John's list at all...

J. A. Konrath is already on my list.

David Louis Edelman admits to not blogging regularly. I'd read into that, he isn't overly fussed about blogging at all. I have no need to wait with baited breath over his laboriously thought over words. Pass.

Tobias S. Buckell - some interesting stuff , but not really my cup of tea. I wonder if the US election being on is screwing up what American writers would otherwise blog about?

Jay Lake's live journal. This I like a lot. It's honest. It covers a lot of stuff - writing included. It reminds me of my own blog except I haven't sold books or live in America or...well it reminds me of my blog. I'll be adding this one to the feed list.

Group Blogs

Deep Genre: I'll be adding this one even though it boasts David Louis Edelman among its contributors. There are others here who blog on interesting issues and the article on vampires helped to persuade me ;c)

Writer Beware: I'll be the first to admit I should already have this one and don't. I shall immediately rectify this oversight.


Deanna Hoak: Any insights you can gain from those in the industry is a good thing - and she looks good hanging upside down from a tree.

Rose Fox: Lots of interesting stuff including heaps of interviews.


Like editors blogs, I don't think you can really go astray with including these blogs. The more you know about the industry the less mistakes you're likely to make.

The Knight Agency: Represents all genres and types of writing.

Jennifer Jackson: Represents all genres and most types of writing. No children's or poetry.

BookEnds: Represents most genres and most types of writing.

Rachel Vater: Lots of interesting stuff here.

Janet Reid: It was about this time was was becoming convinced this is a little community of people. They all reference each other somewhere along the line.

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management: Some of them even look the same.

Kristen Nelson is already on my list and highly recommended.


I won't use the Anonymous Professionals tag that John uses. They may contain good information , but surely people should be able to put their name on their opinions.

Miss Snark no longer posts but the archives are there. Nothing you can't get from other sources and they (see list above) are much more up to date.

Evil Editor, if you want to see what people are doing with query letters. Personally there are other sites out there that give good advice and aren't liable to lead you into copying others.

Editorial Anonymous is for children's books and claims the information will cross all publishing. Much of it will but I don't write children's books and I'm not interested in trying to manipulate information to make it relevant to me. Call me lazy...

The Rejector: Do we really want to read someone who claims to immediately reject 95% of query letters? I understand that these businesses are in it to make money but if you don't have the staff to take on the job and give each query its due, then perhaps you shouldn't be in the industry. I know many are small in number of staff, but then a proper business expansion program, coupled with not over stretching your resources would probably solve many issues.

Lastly I found it interesting that the article appeared in the 2009 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. It then went on to say if any of the sites were now dead, they apologise but if you have any you think should be included, then please let them know - why? So they can produce another article they can get paid for???

Here's a tip - go look at my feed list. It's free and updated regularly.

Have fun surfing.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Its A Bird, Its A Plane... it's super writer.

Tonight I have managed to finish three assignments and print out the draft version (Wamphyri) of a fourth.

Are they any good?

No idea. I've thought some assignments good and had to resubmit them while thinking others were okay and ending up getting an A for them. Now I just do them and send them. I'll worry about the mark or the need to resubmit when it happens.

Things have quietened down a bit at work as well allowing me to get back into other things more enjoyable. So today I began reading my friend Amy's latest manuscript. I'm a little over halfway through my first read through.

When I critique something, I always read it in its entirety first. This allows me to give my first impressions without distractions. It is a learned skill to be able to read with a readers hat and then reread with an editors hat. If you want to be valued as a critiquer (and be able to effectively take comments on your own work) you need to learn this skill. It only comes with practise and attention to detail. Practise enjoying stories and use attention to detail when editing.

I should finish my first read through either tomorrow or the day after and then pen my initial comments. I'll then reread each chapter and mark them up with comments and critiques as I go. Finally I'll make any plot comments at the end.

It's a lengthy process, even more so when you're doing a novel length manuscript, but I wouldn't offer if I wasn't going to give my best efforts at advancing her piece. I'd like to think she wouldn't have asked me to read her work if she didn't appreciate my efforts and the comments I've given in the past.

It's worth it for both parties. If you want to improve your writing and feel good about yourself, join a critique group. I've been involved with Critters, TPN at AbD, and a number of individuals. I've learned a lot from all of them. The more groups you involve yourself with, the more different writers you will come into contact with, and most know something you don't.

It takes time to find a few select individuals who you trust enough to work with over time. Once you find your core group of readers/critique partners, never turn down work from them. If you're busy, explain that there may be a delay. If you have writers block, no harm in still sending emails to keep the lines of communication open. Build trust and a comfortable rapport. Get to know them, become friends but not too close a friend. At some point you need to tell that other writer that they took a left when they should have taken a right. Some people find that hard to do if you don't keep some sort of distance. It helps if you're on different sides of the world.

I've been involved with creating the first critique group at AHWA. I'll also be involved with the first group as a critiquer. I may pass some of my current stories through there to see what fellow horror writers think of them and I'll definitely pass new stuff through there as it comes out. I'm looking forward to commenting on other Australian horror writers work though.

Whoa - my computer just crashed for no particular reason - backing up now. Running scans now.

That's scary.

Time to go to bed I think. I'll let these scans and backups finish and call it a night

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Now What

Before I start my usual ramble, here's a couple of interesting things I found during my daily surf:

Some humour at Rob's undead backbrain that unfortunately rings a bell of truth. If you're a writer, go have a read and you'll see what I mean.

Over at John Joseph Adams, he has listed 21 sites all writers should include on their regular reading lists. I haven't had a chance to go through them yet, but I will - and post my own thoughts about the relative usefulness of them. Go have a look for yourself here.

Onto my normal ramblings...

I took my laptop to the cricket on Sunday and found the horrible truth that I only have 1 hour of power when I'm not connected to mains electricity. That makes my dreams of working while watching my lad play pretty much useless. As it was, I kept being interrupted by other people so I was never going to get anything done anyway. I guess I'll have to drop him off, nip home for a couple of hours and then go back.

So Saturday was a write off. Today wasn't any better. I was doing my normal Sunday chores when a latch on the front door needed fixing. So I did that. I went to hang out some washing and found the rear gate needed fixing - so I did that. After cleaning up the backyard, I heard a car coming down the road with the horn blaring. I went round the front to tear strips off the driver for disturbing the peace when my wife rolled into the driveway with the horn stuck - in my car.

It took a while but eventually we found out how to disable the thing and restore some quiet.

Then the bees came. Seriously, we had a group of bees suddenly descend on our bedroom window. Not exactly a hive but there were enough to cause concern.

As you can imagine, I've been pretty busy all day.

That's led to no writing, so I'm still behind on my assignments and I've still not done any more on Newland.

There seems to be an issue with Blogger at the moment as well as it keeps locking up. It's taking longer than usual to post my ramblings...turned out to be a problem with a file I was downloading - apologies to blogger. The whole system crashed and I just had to reboot. Thank God blogger saved this attempted post as a draft. It's been one of those days.

It's getting late and I'm calling it quits before anything else goes wrong - after I do a full backup of my stuff.

Speak to you later...I hope.


Post addition - This was actually when my troubles started with my laptop. From logical reasoning I think it all began on the Saturday when people kept coming over and interrupting me. I placed the laptop into the boot of my station wagon. I think a child of one of the parents who came over may have sat on it or put pressure on the lid, which resulted in a damaged display. Lesson here is to never leave your laptop where others can accidentally damage it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Anyone Have a Shotgun I Can Borrow?

I hate my work.

Not like Ben hates his work, not like others who would prefer to do something else, and not like most of us who would rather just write for a living.

I'm very good at what I do, and have become adept at managing my systems to the point where I can carry on with other things for long periods of time - while still getting paid a very good wage. My colleague summed it up best when he coined the phrase 'work hard to bludge hard'.

It means we work hard to get our systems working well which then allows us time to do other more interesting stuff that may not be connected to our primary employment.

But the people and the environment I work in, apart from a very few select individuals, is very wrong.

I've spent two weeks coming up with work-around fixes to keep my users happy. Today another issue is presented to me and I'm beginning to think I don't know half as much as I thought I did. I spend most of POETS Day rooting around obscure resources looking for solutions.

Turns out the symptoms of a much greater problem are showing up in my systems because I manage the front end. The issue is much deeper and those wankers/administrators who manage those systems aren't owning up to it. Am I allowed to show discontent? Am I allowed to march down the hallway and give them a wake up call? Not likely. I'd be seen as bullying another individual. Struth - people aren't doing their job - or worse - they're doing it half-arsed and causing others bigger headaches, but I'm not allowed to bring them into reality, and their manager is @#$%^ useless!

Vent over, thank you for listening.

Normal services resumed shortly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Assignment Draft Completed

I've been a good boy tonight and put in the time to write up the first draft of my next assignment. Back in assignment 4 of module 2, I mapped out a possible article. In this assignment I had to take that outline and create a 750-1000 word article. After 2 hours, I've managed a 794 word article pulling all the pieces of my outline together.

I'll let it sit for tonight now. I'll have a look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow, hopefully polish it and package it for posting on Monday. It won't go tomorrow as I also need to do another assignment for module 1. Along with that assignment, I will send in my 'draft' of Wamphyri for comment by the lecturer.

I really need to do another assignment for module 2 as quickly as possible after that. My schedule has been thrown completely out of whack with all the recent deadlines converging so I need to work my ass off to get back on track.

I also need to get my assignments cleared so I can do the reading I promised I'd do for one of my writing friends.

Life would be so much easier if I got paid for everything I do in relation to writing instead of having to hold down a real job as well. Guess we'd better keep buying lotto tickets...

That's today's update - time for bed.

Good luck with your submissions.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reviews Away

Done, dusted, and reviewed.

Just sent off the three reviews for Black magazine. I can feel the weight lifting from my shoulders already. SA50s+ done. Black reviews done!

Socceroos up 2-0 at half time - you beauty!

The soccer is causing havoc with my writing plans though. I was fully intending to look at an assignment tonight but I'd forgotten the soccer was on.

Should get more of a chance tomorrow and Friday night. One way or another, I need to get another assignment in the post before Sunday.

Signed off on the proof for Winged Shepherd tonight so hopefully that should be published soon. Stay tuned.

Second half has already started - gotta go.


These were originally posted on the forum at Fiction Factor. Unfortunately I don't have a huge amount of time to interact with forums at the moment so many of my past cyber-haunts haven't heard from me in a while.

So now I've found them - and now I sit shaking my head in befuddled bemusement. These were written back in January. Original updates were in May and are in brackets. I've now added an October update and what I want for the remainder of this year. I would call these goals "organic"...

1. Write one new short story a month. (try to get my current batch of four short stories up to marketable standard and boot them out the door. I'm going to go back to my first manuscript and get that into a marketable state over the remainder of this year.)

October Update: By my reckoning, I've written 4 new shorts this year and fully revised and updated 4 others. All 8, plus one from last year, are currently out in the market with 1 of them having so far sold. I've put the first manuscript "Tigers Eye" away. I learned a lot from writing it, but it may never see the light of day again.

Goal update for the remainder of the year: Sell at least one more short story and write two more new tales.

2. Keep currently completed and as of yet unpublished short stories out on submission.

October Update: Obviously I'm still doing this.

Goal update for the remainder of the year: keep doing this.

3. Keep website ( updated each month.


4. Keep blog ( updated each month.

Double Duh!!

5. Pass all modules and assignments within my Advanced Diploma. (Actually improving my grades, which is nice - touch wood.)

October Update: If you've been keeping up with my blog, you're already aware that this is going well.

6. Finish all three of my novellas.

The May updates on this goal talked about turning one into a new novel (Voodoo) and abandoning another. The last of the three was more a short story (Hathor) which has also been abandoned at this point. None of these are currently active and will not be active for the foreseeable future.

7. Finish rewriting first manuscript to submission level and then submit. (May update moved this to priority number two behind my coursework)

October Update: As already stated, this has now been put away and replaced with Newland.

In the end, my initial goals for 2008 were pretty much bunk. I remember going by some guideline that suggested putting in goals that were achievable so you weren't disheartened. Something like "make some of your goals attainable and reward yourself when you reach them". Not sure I subscribe to that in that way anymore. Sure, your goals should be attainable but that doesn't mean they should be relatively easy.

New goals from my website that were published in August:

1. To have at least two of my dark short stories published in 2008

One down, one to go...

2. To pass each semester of my diploma and gain at least one credit.

Gained two in the first semester and may surpass that in the second semester.

3.To win one contest in 2008

Doesn't look promising...

4. To find a regular paying freelance writing job.

I get paid for regular reviews with Black but it isn't exactly what I meant. I'm still looking and still actively putting feelers out.

5. To grasp grammar and punctuation concepts

I've learned a lot but I'll always have heaps to go. Remember that infamous line - "Only dead writers are incapable of improvement."

6. To finish writing Newlands

Now these goals I found more sensible - and harder to obtain. To achieve 1, 3, & 4, it helps to do well in 2 & 5. To accomplish all of them takes discipline and hard work. To become a good consistently published writer, you need to put in the hard yards to learn the craft properly.

Moral of the post - make goals by all means, but make them real. Don't make too many of them and have them lead you toward longer term goals. I'm guessing the long term goal of most writers is to make a living at writing. Achieving my short term goals will move me in that direction.

Good luck with your writing goals.


Almost there

Sometime today, when work permits, I'll finish reading the last of the books I need to review for the next issue of Black. I'll write up the review tonight and send all three of them off to the editor with a day to spare. Then I need to get stuck into some assignments.

Since Thursday October 2nd, (12 days ago) I've read 5 books, completed 2 assignments, and finished off the last of my three articles of this issue of SA50s+.

I've written pretty much 0 of my own fiction.

Over the next 12 days I need to do two (preferably three) assignments, beta read 1 novel, critique another short story, and write at least one (preferably two) chapters of Newland - which has been sadly neglected of late.

I'd like to write a new short as well at some point. Wamphyri was my last original short and that was written back in August. I'm going to go and find the goals I set out at the beginning of the year and see where I'm at...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I love being given examples of what not to do. Just reading the wrong way followed by the right way allows me to identify with what the author is trying to get across.

When I come across examples of this, I try to post them in the Writing tips section of the website. Sometimes that's not possible so they have to be posted here.

Go have a good read of this post over at Murder by 4 by Marci Baun.

"But I don't do that type of thing, I can write" I hear you cry. Have a look without the rose coloured glasses on and after donning your editors cap. We all have little issues we would benefit from resolving. Only dead writers are incapable of improvement.

Now there's a line of profound wisdom: Only dead writers are incapable of improvement.

I googled it and it seems I haven't dredged it up from somewhere else. Very cool!

Go read the post. Learn and grow grasshoppers.


Monday, October 13, 2008


I have a problem - maybe you can help.

I write a lot of dark stuff that contains some not so nice stuff concerning children. I don't deliberately set out to write this stuff - it just pops into my head.

I'm a very normal bloke. I don't hide secret and perverse fantasies toward the harming (or worse) of our most innocent. I'm a father of three and adore my kids (most of the time ;c)).

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I was outside having a cigarette when the beginning of an idea popped into my head. It wasn't pleasant and it again involved children.

During lunch today it kept nagging at me so I figured I'd write it down and then maybe it would go away. It's not quite the original thing as I've played with it a bit to fit it into exactly 100 words, but this is the story/idea I came up with:


The only difference between you and others is your inability to control your urges,’ his mind regurgitated the nasally voice from this morning’s session.

Adam hawked up phlegm and spat noisily onto the pavement. “What ever you reckon, doc,” he whispered to no-one in particular.

He pushed himself away from the shop’s exterior wall he was leaning on as the harsh clanging of a bell sounded, and hordes of children streamed out of the school across the street.

Most ran into the arms of parents. The hordes became singles; eventually one.

Adam took a bag of sweets from his pocket.


My problem: where do you sell horrible little (or in some cases not so little) stories like this? Child abuse is not a topic anyone wants to think about or read (thankfully), but I don't write about that. I write about the fiends behind the perversion, the emotions, the aftermath, the revenge of the child in many cases.

John Saul does nasty things to the children in his books all the time. The children are central and don't always come out on top. Quite often they have horrible things done to them and many of them die. Is this only allowed in longer works?

My work: (a simplified breakdown)

Too Late the Rain is a 2798 word piece containing child abuse and death.
Dark Rose is a 3385 word piece about child vampires
System Failure is 4000 words containing infant kidnapping
Wamphyri is 4000 words about a boy becoming a man while dealing with a vampire
The Winged Shepherd contains Cot Death (SIDS)
Mobile has a pregnant woman die and come back with her ghostly child
Confused Love is about a retarded boys misconceptions and some extreme reactions.

I write some weird shit.

But were would I sell it?

I'm trying to sell it at all the normal horror outlets online.

Winged Shepherd went to Fear and Trembling (F&T) after not placing in the PARSEC contest, and being rejected at F&T's sister site MindFlight. (with edits and revisions in between)

Too Late has been rejected a few times as has Dark Rose. I think all the others have been rejected at least once. This goes back to my recent post referring back to JA Konrath's post talking about when to let go.

Some of this work has been evolving for a while, but I don't think any of them have been rejected more then three or four times. I run a dark market database for AHWA where we list at least 100 of the most prestigious markets accepting dark fiction, so I know there are plenty of markets for me to still try - but should I?

Is there a market for insidious stuff like this?
Am I just having a really down day?
Should I re-evaluate what I'm doing and write more mainstream dark fiction?

What do you think?

Should I just shut up and keep writing whatever comes into my head and just get on with it?

If we were just talking about art, it wouldn't matter. I'd keep writing whatever twisted tale came to mind, but I want to write stuff that sells (don't we all?). If my current topics don't sell, or don't sell well, then I need to alter my way of thinking.

What do you prominently write about? What things do you think sell?

I recently read a new take on a vampire story and Wamphyri was inspired by a new take on a werewolf story. Do I look more to this type of thinking rather than continue with my own dark thoughts and imaginings?

If children were excluded, would I have a better chance at marketing my work?

I know some of you who read this blog have had pretty good years as far as selling shorts go. In your research into markets for selling those shorts, would you say dark tales concerning children would make it harder to sell?

How many questions can you fit into one blog post?

Okay, I'll stop now. Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Down, One To Go

I read and reviewed Darren Shan's "Demon Apocalypse" on Friday. Yesterday and today (this afternoon - I did overtime at the real day job this morning) I read and reviewed "13 Bullets" by David Wellington. Tomorrow I begin a non-fiction title, "Sadistic Killers: Profile of pathological predators" by Carol Anne Davis, which needs to be reviewed by the 15th at the latest - hopefully I'll be done by the 14th at the latest. I'm guessing out of the three, "13 Bullets" will win in the story telling stakes , but "Sadistic killers" will win in the horror stakes. Nothing's more horrific than the truth about what one human can do to another.

This batch of reviews has come with a very tight deadline causing me to drop a little behind on assignment work and way behind on any other writing.

By my rather flimsy calculations, I have 6 weeks to finish 4 assignments. The fact I'm ahead in the short story module is the only way I'm keeping my head above water this semester.

Best of luck with your submissions over the coming week.


***Late Addition***

I just found a link to a very cool essay on The Short Story - have a read here

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lots Going On

I've updated the AHWA markets page again and in my market research came across some interesting competitions you may be interested in - I'm thinking about them although I have no time to write at the moment.

Oceanview Publishing Short Story Contest

Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine (I particularly like the Winter '09 Prompt 3 scenario)

Best part is entry is free. Good luck.

I received my last two assignments back yesterday. More good news: an A and an A-. I'll update the assignment website when I get a chance. May have to raise my aim for this semester from Credits to Distinctions...

My short fiction module lecturer (that's a mouthful) has asked I submit a draft of Wamphyri before I submit the assignment. She said the assignments I'm currently doing and those I'm still yet to do would be important in completing the final story - she obviously doesn't read my blog or she'd know I finished the story a while ago now. Still, I'll submit the "draft" and see what she says.

All my articles for SA50s+ have been submitted and accepted. I have to chase down some pictures but that shouldn't be too difficult. I also need to forward the names of people who can okay the purchasing of advertisement space to go with the articles. Not really happy about that bit. I write the stories, I shouldn't be trying to sell ad space as well. I managed to talk it down to me supplying the names of target individuals rather than me actually doing the selling - I supposed that's not too bad.

Cricket season starts today and I'm not playing. Gearing up to watch my lad play, do a lot of reading and I'm taking my laptop to do some writing if the urge strikes (probably end up only writing reviews if I finish the books). I'm quite looking forward to it.

Time to venture out into the bright Australian sunshine and have an enjoyable and hopefully productive day. I wish you the same.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Productive Night

It's been a busy day at work, or at least there's been plenty for me to think about in regards to work, which has kept me away from writing anything other than occasional blog post.

Add to that building pressure with approaching deadlines, and this evening's relief will explain itself.

The decision on Lance Armstrong's involvement in the Tour Down Under was finalised today which allowed me to finish my article for SA50s+. This was due by mid next week, but without the decision I didn't know which one of three articles on the Tour I was going to submit. This issue may be going to the editor by mid next week, but it doesn't hit the streets till November. If the decision hadn't been finalised now, I would have had to submit a much weaker article hedging my bets. Not good. The article I've written makes sense and flows naturally from Lance, his crusade, his return, and then the event. It's not bad at all even if I do say so myself. Hopefully the editor likes it as well.

Next, I finished my review of Darren Shan's Demon Apocalypse for Black. The book was so easy a read, it never made it onto my "currently reading" list. It wasn't until after I'd finished that my assumptions were proven correct and it was a book for the young adult market. Which is cool because I wanted to research what was selling in that area anyway. You'll have to either buy Black or wait for a month or so to find out what I thought about it.

Over the next three days, I have to arrange photos for an article, read two books and write the reviews, contact the focus of another article which is also an assignment (which is a week overdue because of things outside of my control), and then hopefully finish and submit the overdue assignment (a 1000 word article).

With any luck, tomorrow I'll get back my last assignment with instructions on submitting Wamphyri. Either it'll go in for comment, or be submitted as the final assignment, within the next week. that will leave only one assignment to do for that module - which is due to be done in the coming week. Unfortunately, there's still three assignments still to be done in the other module on top of the overdue assignment. Think I may have to pull out a digit on those very soon. Mr Stone has already said he would support an application for an extension, but why would I want to work any closer to Xmas than I have to? A little discipline and lack of sleep now will gain me benefits later.

I haven't played golf at all tonight! Yep - I've been that addicted over the last few weeks that I had to mention that as a quantifier.

Time to hit the sack so I'm fully refreshed and recharged for the workload ahead.

No acceptances or rejections today. Normal programming has resumed.

Good luck with your submissions.


Post 300

Drumroll please - this is my 300th post...

That's it, move along, nothing more to see here.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Side Tracked - Big Time

Here I am, happily working away, browsing writers blogs as I wait for technology to catchup and I come across an interesting blog

I was reading through the posts and struck this one, which prompted me to browse the comments. After seeing my initial thoughts not touched on I began to post my own comment. In my normal style, it went on and on and on and...well you all know how I go on. So Instead I thought I'd ask the question here and see what everyone thinks.

This is what I posted (or will post momentarily) on Jeremy's site:

First time visitor so I'm sorry for commenting on past postings, but apart from a great description and an exciting sounding book: I have a question (yep, I'm fairly new to all this - well less than two years at seriously trying to write) - What's the theme? Do you have one? Do you care? (Okay, three questions.)

The story sounds awesome and I can see it playing out, but as I move forward in writing stories, people are starting to ask me about themes. Can good stories simply not have themes? Are they inherently there but I just can't see them? (I know, slipped in two more, sorry about that)

And yes, I tend to ramble once I get started ;c)

So what do you think? About themes I mean. Do you think about them when you write, as you write, as you edit, as you outline? Do you not think about them at all?

I've read many times that they (themes) make up an integral part of a story. I've tried to incorporate theme into Wamphyri and on at least opinion, failed somewhat. I've recently sold "Winged Shepherd" which I have problems in nailing a theme too. As soon as it becomes available, I'll post a link. Maybe you can offer me a theme...

I really do ramble don't I?

Links & Other Great Stuff

I'm going to dump this stuff together. As usual I've gotten behind on my feed reading so I'm learning all sorts of cool stuff in one hit instead of passing it on in bits as it was originally intended.

This is a very cool topic to start with: Dracula: the Undead. Nope, not another trashy rip off of the original fanged one. This has been written by descendants with full backing of the Stoker Clan and the weight of some big publishing houses behind it. Read the full story on Hellnotes. Seriously looking forward to this coming out.

Want to dream big - look here, but remember: only 10% of writers make a living out of writing and only 5% of those earn 90% of the money, so don't give up your day job. Besides...none of use write simply for the money - do we?

Some very interesting thoughts over on Speakeasy - and you've just got to love the final quote.

And just because I'll be spending some time here searching around because it's so HUGE - take a gander at Horror World when you get a chance.

Share The Warmth

It's been a little remiss of me lately to not post links to online stories of others so here's a couple I think you'll really like:

The Solution by David Such published at Static Movement - Dave manages to capture how many of us older males believe things work within the head of a teenage girl. He also produces a very cold and sadistic killer who finds out he isn't so smart after all.

Spinnerbait by Amy Treadwell published at Flash Fiction Online - I was lucky enough to gain a sneak preview of this one as one of Amy's beta readers/critique partners. I loved it from the get-go - I'm sure you will too.

I know there's more links that have been sent to me or I've come across, but I'm at work and these are all I can remember or find while I wait for Microsoft Update to catch up.

Sorry to anyone I've missed - I'll try to be a little quicker in posting links in future.


Light at the end of the tunnel

It's 1:20 in the morning and I can't sleep. I spent all day reading a book for review in Black and now can't get it out of my head - not that the book was brilliant, I just keep thinking about how to phrase the review.

So instead of tossing and turning, I got up to put a few sentences on paper and hopefully banish it from my mind.

That's why I was sitting here at this silly hour when a sale came through.

Yep, finally, a sale. I've just received an offer of publication for "Winged Shepherd of Innocence" from Fear and Trembling Magazine. This was originally my entry into this years PARSEC contest and was very much rushed through TPN and others to get to the contest on time. It has been revised a few times since then and has finally found a home.

Now I'm too excited to go to sleep. It's not a huge paying market -$5 (US) ($6.96AU) - but it's a little confirmation that someone thinks I can write. To top everything off, this is actually my first dark fiction piece to sell. I've sold sci-fi, non-fiction, an essay, and erotica in the past, but never the genre that's closest to my heart - until now.

Okay, I'm rambling now. I'll chalk up number 6 acceptance and call it a night.

Keep on submitting - there is a home for your story somewhere out there.

Good luck!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Review: One Foot Wrong by Sophie Laguna

I've posted my latest review on HorrorScope.

Go here to read about Sophie Laguna's first venture into writing for the adult market. That's not "adult" as in erotica. Sophie's first couple of published books are for children or YA. This is her first book for adults and yet told from the view point of a young abused girl.

Another three books arrived today that have to be read and reviewed in the next 7 days so life suddenly became very busy.

I need to finish off this weeks assignment but haven't had a response back from my source. I need to finish off my article but haven't got the final decision on a very important focus point.

I guess I just have to read my new books and wait. I'm guessing everything will come to light in about six days allowing me no sleep on October 14th and 15th.

And to top things off - it's my wife and eldest daughter's birthdays this week.

At least it's never dull!

Back to reading and waiting for the pieces to fall into place.


Monday, October 6, 2008

AHWA Market Hive

For those of you who read this blog and are members of AHWA - I've updated the market information for this month.

Good luck on those submissions and please let me know if the information is:

a) useful


b) leads to a sale.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Diploma

Firstly, David, yes - it does suck up a lot of time you could otherwise be using for writing.

I allocate two nights a week to doing assignments and occasionally have to use a third.

But it depends on what exactly you want to accomplish with your writing.

If you only want to write fiction, then you'll only gain benefit from half the diploma. I'm sure there are shorter courses that could teach almost as much.

If you want to have fiction and freelance writing as strings to your bow, then this diploma is a good thing.

This first year I've learned little bits through doing the diploma. I've learned far more from crit groups and friends over the previous year in regards to fiction writing. Next year, I'll be beginning electives which will help me write my book. I'll gain one on one mentoring with someone who has written in a similar field and been published.

Through this first year, the diploma has inspired me to write three new short stories that started out as assignments and grown to marketable pieces, so I guess it hasn't really stopped my writing short fiction either.

But like I said earlier, it's the freelance side of things where I've learned so much more than I knew before. Through the diploma I now write articles for SA50s+. The editor of that publication has said she will let me know if paying opportunities come up because she knows I'll continue to write for her anyway. It's a foot in the door and allows me to grow my clips.

It's given me the confidence to apply to HorrorScope to do reviews which has led to a paying gig with Black magazine. I'm guessing we've all wanted to be able to watch movies, read books, and play video games and get paid for it - well this is the first step in that direction.

Year 1 is tough on time and you won't get a whole new understanding on writing fiction, but you will learn something about the freelance side of things. The following years will be tougher on time but I'll be doing what I would be during that time anyway - writing.

Time consuming - yes.

Worthwhile - yes.

Being on the Eastern seaboard, I think it'll be even more beneficial for you if you want to move into a writing job. I scan the job boards everyday and all of them are based over that way.

If you can afford it and can organise the time needed to do the course justice, then I'd wholeheartedly suggest you go for it.

Hope that helps.


Thursday, October 2, 2008


I've just finished doing the updates on the website and other bits and pieces around here. The Diploma section where you can follow exactly what I'm doing has been totally caught up.

I've updated the biblio and my work in progress status. Feel free to wander over and have a browse around if you so choose. Musings Of An Aussie Writer - The Website.

My next batch of books for review didn't arrive today. If they don't arrive tomorrow then it'll be panic stations all round. Reviews are due by the 15th!

I still have one book to finish for HorrorScope which I'll start reading tomorrow.

Sitting around my study at the moment, I have 27 books I want to read! If placed in priority I guess about half of them I may never get to and I won't be overly upset, but that still leaves a significant number that I want to get to and somehow don't quite make it before something else pushes them back onto the shelf. I must make a more concerted effort to have a book with me at all times.

That's it for tonight. I have the next five days off so I should be able to squeeze in a little time to do some writing among other stuff - if my next batch of books doesn't arrive.

I'm getting toward the end of the second semester assignments so I might make a push to complete that work for the year which would free up heaps of time.

We'll see.

Speak to you later.


Review: The Dirty Little Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner

I've posted my review of Meg Gardiners The Dirty Little Secrets Club over at HorrorScope.

Not a bad book. Worth checking out especially if you love crime/thriller style novels. It packs more of a punch than Law & Order (any flavour).

Go have a read of my review and then go buy the book.

Morning Read

Some people read the newspaper in the morning, and I should be one of them. I keep telling myself I'll get into the habit, but I never do. I read blogs instead.

This morning I was over at J. A. Konrath's blog and found this timely bit of advise. I've been reading around the place how so many of us writers are pressed for time, lead hectic lives, can't find a sale, etc, etc.

I think JA's comments are very true and we need to be able to let go.

I thought this comment interesting: "Is it time to abandon a piece after ten rejections? Or a hundred rejections? Six months? Three years?"

Lets take for example two pieces of mine that have been doing the rounds. "Too Late the Rain" was written originally back in mid 2007, so it's been around for over a year. It's evolved in that time and on each significant rebirth, it's gone out to market. It has garnered 4 rejections (I think - I don't have my spreadsheet with me to check). Mobile has only been around since the middle of this year - around four months. It has gathered 2 rejections of its own.

When do I lay these stories aside and admit they aren't as good as I think they are?

Is the number of rejections and the time the story has been around have any bearing on it? I send a story via email to market and the slushers/editors take 3 months to get a rejection back to me. I spend a month reworking it and then send it out again. 3 months later I gain another rejection. That's seven months gone already.

I still believe there is a market for everything. The quality of that market ranges from the best to a backwater, I'll accept anything and everything crappy e-zine. I'm hoping to go no lower than respected publications that currently don't pay such as Ripples or Eclecticism, but before I send to these markets, I want to exhaust the possibilities out there.

I run the market hive for AHWA where I maintain 100 markets for dark fiction. There are more out there but these are 50% dark fiction only markets and 50% SpecFic markets that accept dark fiction. Only a dozen or so are non-paying markets and they are only the highly thought of exposure markets.

I think around 60% of these markets would consider anyone of my stories at any given time. A young adult market isn't going to print something like "Too Late the Rain" but it might print "Mobile" - so I guess I keep sending out my work till it gathers 60 or so rejections each.

I should have a skin as tough as metal by then.

Here's hoping we both find homes for our work, sooner rather than later.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Assignment Returns

Recieved two assignments back in the mail today.

An A and a B+!

Two more I can cross off the list and don't have to resubmit.


I've done the first draft of my dialogue assignment, but want to revisit tomorrow if I can find the time. I want to see if I can add in some little extra bits to differentiate between the characters.

Tonight I've been reading. I'm nearly two thirds through "The Dirty Little Secrets Club" by Meg Gardiner - it's good. Once this is done I need to rattle off the review for HorrorScope asap. I've just been informed I have three more books coming that I need to have read and reviewed in less than two weeks. Lots of reading in my near future and not so much writing.

Speak to you soon


Reply From Tim North

Question: In Australia, do we use double quotation marks or single when writing dialogue? According to the Australian Style Manual, we're supposed to use single quotes, ...

Answer: Indeed. The Style Manual (6th edn, p. 112) says:

The question of whether to use single or double quote marks
is often debated. In Australia and the United Kingdom both
types are widely used; in North America double quotes are the

Single quotes are recommended for Australian Government
publications -- in keeping with the trend towards minimal
punctuation. Double quotation marks are then used for quotes
within quotes.

Question (continued): and yet in fiction published in Australia and in America, I see double quotes all the time.

Answer: Double quotes are the norm for American documents, so that explains those sightings.

Double quotes in Australian fiction is also easily explained by the first paragraph. (Both types of quotes are in common use.)

To answer your original question about dialogue, you should use single quotes if it happens to be in the context of a Government document. For anything else (fiction, for example), you can use either.

Just make a choice and be consistent.

Hope this helps.

Warm regards,

Tim North (Perth, Western Australia)

Thanks Tim - if you have questions you'd like looked into, make sure you visit Tim's website Better Writing Skills. Subscribe to the newsletter - it's worth it.

In other news - this question is actually going to make it into the next newsletter Tim sends out.


It's official, I'm slushing for a publication.

I received my first batch of stories to go through, and during a quiet period I managed to read them all.

Quite an eye opener. If you've ever been involved in Critters, I'd say it's fairly close to the experience of looking over a new queue each week in that environment.

You are presented (in Critters) with 40 or so stories each week. You are expected to critique one or two, or if you want to have the opportunity to advance your story to the top of the queue instead of waiting the six or seven weeks it normally took to percolate to the top, you'd do at least 10.

To find the one or two or ten, you browse through what's on offer. By the time I was ready to leave Critters, I was looking for certain criteria.

1. It had to be relatively well written. Not outstandingly so - I was looking to help people not just dish out praise.

2. Below 4000 words. Time was becoming extremely precious. Now it's impossible for me to be considering critiquing that sort of number. One or two a week would be it.

3. The story had to be worth reading. Nothing worse than a story with no tale to tell. I can write meandering drivel quite easily on my own without having to read other peoples efforts.

With slush reading, I don't get to choose and I have a very small limit on being able to give feedback.

When I gain a rejection, I prefer to gain some level of feedback. The best I've ever consistently had is from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine from one of their slushers. From these comments, I eventually sold the first piece I ever wrote Wake-up Call.

I've had good feedback from other markets but sadly, plenty only offer form rejections. I understand many of these markets receive huge amounts of submissions, but if the slusher is going to take the time to read it, surely they could take another five minutes to jot a couple of lines down.

Regardless of other markets, this particular publication has asked me to provide feedback which I'm very happy to do.

Back to my Critters comparison - the difference between Critters and now, is I don't get the opportunity to browse. I get sent a batch and have to work through them. No authors names or identifying features are included so it's nothing personal.

This batch had a 100% strike rate - 100% strike out, that is.

It's too soon to start listing reasons why I pass on some and consider others (apart from the fact that I haven't had anything to consider yet), but I'm keen to know if my reasons line up with other slusher comments I've read around the place.

If they do, then I'd be shaking my head in bewilderment. If I've been able to find and read comments about submissions from different levels of the industry, from slushers, judges, agents, editors, even other writers, then surely other writers have done the same.

So why then would writers keep submitting the same mistakes?

I almost stopped reading a submission because it didn't conform to submission guidelines! Only because I know what I want from readers did I continue. Others have said that an inability to follow guidelines tends to also show an inability to write a good story. If it doesn't look professional then it most likely isn't. Sadly, it seems this could be the first of my "Slusher tips on what not to do when submitting your masterpiece" - too much of a mouthful?

I'm open to suggestions...