Friday, November 28, 2008

Idolatry Grows Up

My most rejected piece - Idolatry - has again gone out to market, to the Three Lobed Burning Eye (Don't you just love the magazine's name?).

Including missing a place in the writing competition it was originally targeted at, it has four rejections to it's name. Rewrites this time round has added 25% to the word count so she now comes in at nearly 2500 words.

She has a new ending - different even from what my beta readers have read as I had a flash of inspiration as I was submitting it (honestly, as I was pasting it into the web based submission form, I reread it to check I hadn't missed anything - and then the ending came to me so I rewrote it - probably not the best idea, but we'll see.) She also contains a lot more detail, and quality is in the detail. Fingers crossed.

End of the working week here, and also the last day for assignments to be submitted for the year. I hope all my fellow students in the Advanced Diploma of Arts for Professional Writing (it's a mouthful isn't it?), managed to get everything submitted. I'm a little annoyed I haven't received my last assignment back yet. I sent it a week ago now. The resub had better pass now as time to do another resub has gone. I won't be happy if this costs me more money.

Thinking happy thoughts - it doesn't matter that the assignment hasn't been returned yet as I'm going to pass anyway. There will be no need for any further work this semester.

Speaking of most rejected pieces got me to thinking about my submissions. Most of the stories doing the rounds at the moment have been knocked back two or three times. Idolatry four times. I also found I have had a story knocked back from Weird Tales already this year, so if System Failure does get rejected, it'll be the second from that market this year - I don't feel so out of place with everyone else now. (That's somewhat twisted I think!)

So that's it for now. Tomorrow I will bat in a game of cricket for the first time in 8 months. Please wish me luck - it can't hurt (and I'm going to need more than my fair share).

Good luck with your submissions


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Work Is Really Slow

We have 19 working days left till Xmas breakup (only 29 days till Santa!). Looking around here, you'd think everyone was already on leave.

Under here I launched into a rant about work but just in case the wrong people read this - I've censored myself.

Anyway, I've managed to write three different length reviews for the first book "Promise Not to Tell." I've also downloaded a book on reviewing which has different markets to sell reviews to. I figure once I know which review is going to Black, I can look into selling the other short review to a different market. The full review gets published on HorrorScope in February regardless.

This is all because I haven't been told yet what Black want. They publish 100 and 200 word reviews, while HorrorScope (online and therefore without content size restraints) publish reviews up to 1000 words.

If nothing else, it'll be an interesting exercise into researching what review markets there are out there.

Tonight, after training, I'm finishing the revision of, and submitting to a new market, my short story Idolatry.

Hopefully when I get home, my assignment will also have been returned.

Cheers for now


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finished One

Just finished Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon. The review will be in Black issue #4 come January, or on HorrorScope around February. For now I can say, I enjoyed it. Want to read the whole review? By the magazine...

The funniest thing - the query letter I sent back today was for an agent in New York, who is also the agent for Jennifer McMahon! How's that for a small world?

Well that's it for tonight. No response on submissions and my last assignment still hasn't been returned.

I was going to finish off the revision of Idolatry but chose to finish the book instead - maybe tomorrow although I need to write up the full review first.

Good luck with your writing



Firstly - Ben (and anybody else interested), over on the sidebar, and I'm going to move up into a more prominent position, is the Global Writing Classroom. In there I place links to good stuff I find around the place, as well as a link to all the posts in this blog with the label "Writing Tips". If you ever remember me posting, or rambling, about something half useful, chances are you'll be able to find it there. Or you can post a comment and ask and I'll post a new link like this one:

Link to the great writing advice by Alexandra Sokoloff.


Next update:

As to the recent question on how to formulate a query. Seems I still have a very shy following


Never mind: - The formula I used as outlined in this post, has worked a treat. I have gained notification that Too Late the Rain is still under consideration and has gone to a second editor. Last night I also received notification that Mobile is also still under consideration.

Obviously both of these could still fall short at the post, but they are no longer just being flat out thrown back - which is nice.

Oh - I hooked up with Cafe Doom recently and have just finished reading through the latest annual competition entries. And I come across one Felicity Dowker piece titled "Fine Print" - who says it's not a small world?

I read all the stories first and chose my own top 10, then I reread through the voting, and finally the results. My winner didn't win. Mind you, my winner came closer to the editors choice than the people's choice did.

Fel, you'll be happy to know, yours made my top 10 before I knew it was written by you.

Some very good submissions. If you're into the dark stuff, go have a look at Cafe Doom, it's a nice place. I joined primarily to have a go at the flash fiction comp they have each week. I'm losing the ability to write very short stories, so it'll give me practise - if I can find the time to write.

Just finished with the query letter and synopsis for a friend and sent them back. Hopefully they find the comments and suggestions useful. Hopefully they sell the manuscript for squillions and find it in the goodness of their heart to take me on as their full time, well paid critique writer - or they could just say thanks on the inside cover of the book. Honestly, I'd just be happy if they sent me a copy of the book once it's published.

It's all good.

Lastly, I've started my reading for review. I'm yet to update the library widgets, but I will as soon as I can. So chances are I'll be a little quieter, although this was supposed to be a short post when I started - rambling again...

Good luck with your submissions

Monday, November 24, 2008

Close Call

Alex, you almost gained an email from me. I got so lost in trying to map out my story structure I was starting to see grid patterns when I was looking away from the screen.

I think I've figured things out now using a little common sense and reading between the lines.

And in the end, I think I've got it.

My act 1 lined up with a good climax already in place - right where it was supposed to be.

I got a little confused with the placement of the midpoint before the midpoint climax and which column it was supposed to be, but I reverted to scenes within a sequence, within an act to figure out where the midpoint should be and found my sex at sixty arrived too early (no male comments here please). So I need to add two scenes to get it on track, or, if going by remaining scenes, it's spot on being exactly the midpoint between the beginning of act 2 and the final climax. (I know - typical male looking for a way to excuse the early arrival).

Going by scenes again, my final act should only be around 12-15 scenes. Structuring things out as suggested, I was missing 5 scenes, and when looking at the grid structure, some of the missing scenes to allow me to get from here to there, were painfully obvious.

So all in all, so far the storyboarding structure and formula suggested by Alex works. Obviously you may need to massage it a little, but you don't want to go too far away from an obviously proven, and more importantly, accepted method.

Now strangely, I've only storyboarded half my plot. The second half feeds off the first and now that I've laid it out, I can see what needs to go into it. I can see where the planting and payoffs are going to go, the foreshadowing. I can pluck and swap and play til my little black heart is content.

Very cool.

Go read Alex's writing suggestions and give it a go. If you're struggling to get words on a page, use it as a time out. Convince yourself you're still doing something worthwhile for your book even though you're not actually writing. It shouldn't be too hard to convince yourself because you will be doing something important for your book.

If you're a pantser instead of a plodder, good luck to you; I couldn't work that way. For the rest of us - you too Ben - go and give it a go.

Speak soon


Lots in...Nothing out

Got lots of real mail today, as opposed to email.

My assignments (including Wamphyri) from module 1 have returned - both received an A which allows me to wrap up this module with a distinction (gaining more A's than B's and nothing lower than a B-). I have one outstanding assignment from module 2 (the one I had to resub), if that comes back with a minimum of a B- then I get a distinction for that module as well. Too cool for school.

I also received my next batch of reading for Black magazine and HorrorScope, the covers on two of the books look interesting but the third I received in manuscript form. I wasn't expecting that.

On the email front, I gained a whisper Too Late the Rain is still in the running at the publication I sent it to which is why I never got around to storyboarding Newland yesterday - I was too excited to sit still enough. No, I won't be slitting my wrists if it gets rejected but at least I know I'm getting closer with that one.

My contributors copy of Black also arrived today and looks very swish. This is an excellent magazine. I'm allowed to say that without any bias because I only supply a couple of reviews at the very centre of the mag. Everything else has nothing to do with me which is why I feel guilty getting a contributors copy for nothing, but I'm extremely grateful I do.

If you write dark fiction, or have anything to do with what beige coloured society would call a sub-culture, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to Black, and (if you write) join AHWA.

I've received a little bit of mixed feedback from my writing friends on Idolatry, mainly positive, but there are at least three sentences I need to work on. In one instance, both commented on my stupidity, and the others just need a little tweaking. It seems I may have solved the issues brought to light from the marketplace feedback.

But I'm not working on that tonight. Tonight, I'm storyboarding!

Speak soon.

Good luck with your submissions.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update On Queries

I should be placed in a corner and smacked severely.

Yep, I'm still finding ways to procrastinate.

So far I've found this in response to my quest fro "How to Query":

How to Follow Up on Short Story Submissions by Roselyn James

An interesting sample letter on P&E

And...that's it!

So it would seem your comments, examples, advice, or anything else you're willing to offer will be timely advice for the writing community out there.

Show us how you query the status of your submissions.



Side Tracked

I thought I'd catch up on my feeds before delving into story boarding Newland.

After reading this crap, I wonder (not for the first time) why haven't I been published?

Sunday Has Arrived

I survived my first full day back playing cricket. Turned out to be a fairly boring day for as I stood at first slip and didn't do a lot. Took one catch, and little else. Next week it's our turn to bat and we'll be attempting to chase down 264 for the win.

In my last post, I'd ear-marked today for three things to happen:

  1. Update the assignments page
  2. Send query letters off to submission markets
  3. Story board Newland

I've updated the assignments page - check the links on my sidebar.

I've also sent off three query letters. It's another fortnight before anymore query letters are due, but I wasn't sure exactly what to write. The basic premise is obvious - "Hey, it's been over the time frame suggested in your guidelines and I haven't had a response so can you let me know where you're at with my submission", but how to phrase that in a professional manner?

Interestingly, if you search for help on the Net, you'll gain 624,000 links on writing the perfect query letter, but that's not the type of query I'm talking about. I haven't refined my search yet (I do intend to) on how to query on the progress of your submission so I thought I'd post the question here.

We all write, or intend to write, short stories for publication in varied magazines around the world. When you've submitted something you slaved over for many weeks, months, or even years, struggled to find the right words, the right sentence structure, and then submit it to just the right market, how do you ask for an update when the response time deadline slides past?

I decided to go the short and succinct way:

Dear [editors name]

I am writing to query the progress of my flash fiction piece titled [your next big thing] which I sent to your publication for consideration on the [whenever].

Kindest regards

Brenton Tomlinson

What do you think? How do you do it?

Time to go story board Newland. I look forward to your answers.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Back To It

Before I tell you about my evening with working on Newland:

I received an assignment back from Mr Stone - an A-. Cool. This only leaves my resubmitted assignment to be marked for this module to be completed. As long as it gains a minimum grade of a B-, I'll have achieved a Distinction for this module. Very cool. I really have to get around to updating the diploma assignments page. (Maybe Sunday). I haven't received the last assignments back from the other module yet.

Idolatry has been reworked and tonight I revised that latest version once more. My prime beta reader (my wife) gave it a going over and thought the new version was good. She may be biased so I've now sent it out to my other beta readers/critiquing writer buddies. Then I need to decide on a new market to send it to.

No responses from the submissions already out there - really need to write some query letters (also maybe Sunday).

Tonight I worked on Newland. I was tossing up whether to write a new chapter or use the time to properly story board it. In the end I really wanted to write something new so the story boarding was left for another day (yep, maybe Sunday). I read through the previous five chapters I'd written and the first 300 or so words of the sixth chapter, and revised as I went - I couldn't help myself.

I then wrote two thirds of chapter six, bumping it up to nearly 1800 words. It seems to be a little slow through chapters 5 & 6 though but I've decided I'm not going to worry about it at the moment. I'm just going to push on and get the story out. I'm thinking I'll be able to go back and plant stuff, or add greater conflict, or do some foreshadowing, after I've written the other bits of the story.

So the story sits with a little over 12,000 words on the page with a projected finishing total of around 95-100k. A touch over 13% done of the first draft, but the important thing is I'm working on it again and getting the story written. Polishing is for later.

It's just about midnight here. Tomorrow my cricket playing days begin again and true to form, it's cold and a little wet outside. My first game of any season tends to be rain affected. This is the fourth game of the current season and they haven't had a single day with rain. Now I come out of retirement - it rains. Typical.

Time for bed, as I'm guessing I'll need all the sleep I can get. My body is complaining about the torment I'm going to put it through tomorrow already.

Wish me luck.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

On It Goes...

Many a writing site will shout to the masses gathered, a writer continues to learn regardless of how successful they become. Even I have coined the phrase "Only dead writers are incapable of improvement" - and I'm really beginning to understand why.

Not only do we have a continual upward curve in mastering our craft, there are so many little things one has to get right to make it.

I've touted Alex's writing structure lessons enough this week so you should all be aware of that side of things.

But on the business side, it just keeps coming. Lets say you have gained a respectable mastery over the craft, and your time management skills, to be able to produce a marketable manuscript.
How do you go about getting it published?

Step 1: Research agents and publishers who may be a good fit to sell your masterpiece to. This is a long and in depth process requiring you to learn all about the the market out there.

Step 2: Write the query letter. I've got links on my sidebar about how to do this. It seems most writers are now recognising this important step. So much so it has prompted this article from Stephen Barbara. Send out the query and wait for requests for partials or fulls (or the query occasionally goes out with a package as in step 4)

Step 3: Write a synopsis - again there are links in the sidebar and all over the Internet. This sometimes goes out with step 2, sometimes with step 4.

Step 4: Put together a professional package containing your work shopped query, synopsis, and the first 'x' chapters of your manuscript as requested. (Step 2, 3 , 4 will be dependant on the guidelines clearly defined on each agency/publishers website)

Step 5: Wait

Step 6: Wait some more or preferably start work on the next project. Don't stop writing.

Step 7: Run around the house doing the happy dance when you gain representation.

Step 8: Begin rewrites (Now there is a huge amount of steps which take place between 8 and 9, many of which I'm not fully aware of at this point in my career)

Step 9: Work closely with your representation on getting your book to the publication date.

Step 10: Do everything you can, above and beyond whatever your agent/publisher ask, to self market your new book.

Step 11: Do happy dance as your baby is released to the public.

As far as I knew, this was the (very) basic process. Now I have a new step to add thanks to this post by Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at the Red Room. This would happen during step 9, but before the covers are finalised.

See what I mean, always something new to learn. I'm guessing when I finally get to go through the publishing process, it'll be completely different and I'll be resetting my expectations and assumptions all over again, once more renewing the learning cycle.

Ah, the love of learning...

Idolatry Reworked

I sat down and did what I said I would last night - shock horror.

No distractions, no procrastination.

Comments made from the last market Idolatry was submitted to (ASIM), suggested the plot was a little vague. After rereading it, I can see what they are referring to. In the beginning, it purposefully doesn't reveal the name of one character or why she is at a seedy hotel for a business transaction (not that sort of transaction) - so I took on what I'd recently learned (thanks Alex).

Up front, I told the reader what's going on. I let the reason for her being there, what she was after and why, out of the bag very early in the piece.

I also changed the idol from one of fiction to a real one. I did a little bit of research and found a very striking little statue that fitted the bill.

I cut a few bits here and there but ended up putting one piece back which helped me tie up a brand new ending - remember that plant and payoff stuff Alex and I have talked about? I had a comment in the feedback about the ending not being overly satisfying, so I better defined the results of a particular action which takes place in the story. A line said very early on in the piece by a bit character comes back to help wrap things up.

As a refresher, and to bring those up to date who are new to this blog, this is the story which arose from an assignment I did earlier in the year. My lecturer made a comment about doubting me being able to turn the premise of the 600 word opening into a viable story. Idolatry is what I turned that opening into.

The lecturer, Mr Stone, has a way of giving praise with one hand and knocking the stuffing out of you with the other, a kind of literary carrot and stick approach. So it has become a mission to mold this piece into a story I can sell. Very little of the 600 words from the original opening remain, but the premise hasn't changed.

I'll sell this thing to a market somewhere - just to prove Mr Stone wrong on this one.

In other news...

The resubmission assignment went into the post yesterday so all my work for the year has been completed and sent in - 10 days in advance of the deadline. I'm expecting at least one or two back either today or tomorrow. Hopefully they don't require resubs.

Still no responses back about the rest of my submissions. May have to start sending out queries very soon.

Tonight is training again, although the weather seems to have turned a little cool, threatening rain. If the heavens do open up, that will shorten training and I may have time to get some work done tonight. Tomorrow night, it's time to start work on Newland again.

I wish you every success with your words and the order you put them in.

Speak soon


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Here's an amusing little time waster I came across while surfing the feeds (thanks to Jamie). And below are my results. The link for you to take your own test is at the end. Let me know how you go and may the force be with you ;c)

You are Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Qui-Gon Jinn
Mace Windu
Darth Maul
Boba Fett
Luke Skywalker
Princess Leia
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Test

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clearing The Decks...Still

I knocked off my current slush reading requirements last night.

The biggest thing I've noticed so far with the dozen or so submissions I've read - new and emerging writers need to gain feedback and input from other writers whether in a formal crit group or through someone they know who has had some success in gaining publication in the types of magazines you, as the new or emerging writer, would like to target.

A lot of the submissions seem under polished, almost immature. Now I don't mean that as in an adult who enjoys getting around in nappies (not that there's anything wrong with that), but the writing has been allowed out into the market place without having had a real good going over. Other writers haven't given input and picked up where sentences don't read real fluent - I'm not kidding, I've seen sentence structures like this.

Examples (I've changed things so as to not use real examples but they are similar)

  • Little things like "On the floor, I watched bugs crawl across the floor" - the use of similar words close together, or similar sounds too close together so it begins to read more like poetry.

  • Overly long sentences and talking in loops i.e. her hair was different to everyone else - hers was straight, while everyone else was curly, she was auburn while everyone else is blond, she had long hair while everyone else was short.

  • Show don't tell: We've all heard this mantra before. If you're not sure what it means, take a creative writing course. He pushed open the door and stomped into the room. The angry look in his eye was enough to let everyone there know he was in a bad mood, and when he was in that kind of mood, everyone knew to stay away. That is telling. The echo of his hobnailed boots drew everyones attention. His eyes remained fixed on the barkeep as he stomped across the room. Chairs, patrons, and stray cats were kicked out of the way. The piano faltered as he slammed his six shooter down onto the scarred oakwood of the bar. This is showing. The difference: One tells the reader what is going on, it doesn't allow them an opportunity to have any imaginative input. The other describes the scene, adds in the emotions of those experiencing it and invites the reader to experience it as well. I've painted a scene and now it's up to the reader to interpret it as they see fit. I've put in all the elements that should allow a reader to see the main character is pissed off without actually saying it. I can see you all nodding and saying "Well duh! I know that" - well do it then so I won't see any more submissions of this nature.

Honestly - get feedback, join a critique group, do a creative writing course.

On a brighter note - I received a couple of brand spanking new, hard cover , signed, books for review last night, and I'm expecting at least three others (not hard cover or signed) in the not too distant future. Lots of reading coming up.

Tonight is training night but tomorrow night - I'm sitting down and reworking Idolatry. Nothing else - just Idolatry.

Thursday is training again. Friday I restart work on Newland.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wamphyri Away

Last night I sent off Wamphyri to a brand new pro rate market - that should make figuring out which market I sent it to fairly easy - it's the only new pro market I've heard about for dark fiction emerging recently.

I also packaged up the very last assignment but I've run out of stamps at home so it'll have to wait until I find time to go down the post office. It needs to go in before the end of next week so there's no real rush. It'll go sometime in the next day or two.

Today I'll be catching up on some slush reading I need to do and writing up the comments. At some point I need to get stuck into a book I'm reading about writing freelance articles. This needs to be done as I'm expecting the next lot of books to arrive soon for Black and then I'll have no time to read anything else.

I'm procrastinating a bit at the moment. I have Idolatry which needs reworking (almost rewriting) and Newland. I haven't touched either of them in a while and know I need to really make a concerted effort on both. I really need to work on Newland in particular. But I keep finding other things to do.

But I'm just about out of excuses now. The school year is over. My critique of a friend's manuscript is over. No articles are due for SA50s+. All my stories are out in the market place except Idolatry.

Possible excuses I could use include: I have a mountain of books I haven't yet read. I have slush reading that needs doing because if I was submitting to this market, I wouldn't want to wait longer than necessary for a response. I need to rewrite Idolatry. I need to rewrite one of my other stories that has sat dormant for over six months. Christmas preparations are taking up too much time. My sister has just returned from interstate and I need to help her out. Found something new and interesting in cyberspace I need to blog about. I need to do something out the back/to the house/down at the club...

I know I can still write because when I force myself to sit down, it still comes out as easily as it always has. And everything I know I've learned over the past six months through my studies or through the net is now second nature, making it less of a chore during the subsequent drafts.

I seem to be lacking the inspiration to actually sit down and write, as if I need to take a breather now the bulk of the work for this year is over. That's fine, I'm all for a writer taking a step back and enjoying the feeling of finishing something, but now I need to get back to work.

It's an odd feeling.

Is this what they call writers block? Any suggestions for getting over it?

I Prompted A Post From Alex

On Murderati, Alex has posted an expanded response to a comment I made on her blog. Go here to read the full post and go here to read the initial post, comment, and response.

It's got me thinking, which could also come under the title of procrastinating.

I'm thinking about what stories, books and movies, are in my all-time favourite list, and more importantly why.

I'm going to have to go back and rewatch/read these again to better break them down but so far my pathetically short list goes something like this:

Somewhere In Time

This has always been number one for me. An emotional sci-fi flick with a beautiful musical score and wonderful characters - particularly Jane Seymour (although I had a huge thing for her so I may be biased).


Both the book and the film but for different reasons. In the book, I felt a kindred spirit for the writer, but in the movie I was more strongly attracted to Anne Wilkes. Not in a physical sense, but as the character who made a bigger emotional impact on me.


Only the first movie. A classic good versus evil with lots of dark undertones for both characters throughout.

The Return of Count Yorga

This was released in 1971 but I didn't see it until 1982 when I was an impressionable 14 year old. A friend and I were only just beginning to get into horror books and our parents allowed us to stay up and watch a horror marathon. It was the first film that really scared me.

Bram Stokers Dracula

Again full of sexual undertones, dark topics, larger than life characters, and good versus evil conflicts.


Yes, I mean the big Hollywood flick with Leonardo and Kate. My wife and I love it. Yes, I guess I can be just a big softy at heart. But I also love the underlying conflicts between Jack and Rose, Jack and Rose's mother, between Rose and her mum, between Rose, Jack and Hartley, and then there's the whole issue of knowing the ship is going down at some point in the flick and then all the action and emotion when it does. And the screen shot of the woman in the white dress floating under the central dome just after the priest finishes his sermon as Jack and Rose rush toward the back of the ship: "Jack, this is where we first met", gets me every time with its calmness and beauty in the middle of such chaos and destruction.

Romeo & Juliet

The linked to movie version, the original play, and a version I saw the state theatre company do where the only set was a couple of huge red curtains. The play on words, the classic love found and lost, the conflict between families, the humour, the tragedy.

So there's my first seven, but I need to expand things. I am very much a person who picks up a book or enters a movie theatre ready to be entertained and willing to immerse myself into the story to allow that to happen. In other words, I'm willing to put in a little effort to ensure I enjoy the experience, I'm not someone who grabs a book or goes to a movie and expects to be entertained, kind of like a heckler in the front row of a comedic performance.

But now I have a start to a list, I need to be able to break down the titles on it. It seems to me I enjoy conflicts at different levels within a story, both within a scene and at the over all plot level. I like it to be relatively fast paced but not break-neck. I want to be able to digest what's going on.

I like a little bit of humour and probably a little bit of irony.

I like a sexual undertone - preferably subtle. Occasionally in your face type stuff but I'm a big believer that a woman should only hint at her womanly charms.

Now surprisingly in this initial list, there is no children specific stories. True the women in Dracula would be teenagers, but in that day and age, they were regarded as adults. Rose was only 17 but again classed as an adult. Same again with Romeo and Juliet.

I considered books by John Saul, but have found on rereading them. I didn't get as much from them as I did when I read them as a teenager. Other books under consideration would be: Carrie; The Omen; Books of Blood; Pet Semetary. (Yeah, I like horror - is that really a surprise?)

I gained some enjoyment from other blockbuster movies such as MIB, Final Destination, SAW I, Nightmare on Elm Street I, Armageddon, and lots of others, but I'm looking for books or movies which have had a lasting effect on me, because that's what I want to do with my books - have a lasting effect on my readers.

Lets see of you can help jog my memory. What books and movies are in your top ten lists? And more importantly, why?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reading List

I've been trying to put together a list of books for my wife and kids to pick something out for Christmas to place in Dad's stocking.

And then I found this. My only defence is that I didn't start with HorrorScope until April 2008.

Sorry guys.

Write Or Die

Tired of all the writing advice floating around in cyberspace? Need a stick and a deadline to get anything done?

Dr Wicked has something for you...

This is the most amazing thing I've seen or heard of in a while. Now I admit I'm unlikely to use it on a regular basis (if at all) but it could be useful for some and my mandate is to collect anything which could be deemed useful for writers and group it all together. So, without further ado, I present you with WRITE OR DIE.

Thanks to Speakeasy for the heads up.

Just About...

Last night I finally got hold of the data I require to finish the assignment I need to resubmit. So I got home and worked steadily on getting it done. Reading the fine print on the requirements to ensure I did everything required, I was surprised when I noticed the clock - 12:20am.

I had to be up early this morning and it always takes me an hour or more to get to sleep. So little wonder the assignment is almost finished and I'm now at work with my eyes hanging out of my head.

I lugged the whole thing to work with me, so I can finish it off, package it up and mail it out today. Starting next week, I want to concentrate on my own writing again.

In other news...

As promised back on the 30/10 with the post Great Idea - I can now pass on my thoughts on subscribing to the free version of the Publishers Lunch: When I complete my first manuscript to a level I'm really happy with and I'm ready to shop it around to find an agent - I will be paying my fees and joining as a fully fledged member to this organisation.

If you want to be up-to-date with what's going on in the industry - this looks good.

But the free version is only a hint at what can be found with the membership. It's a teaser, an advertising ploy. There is a little bit of publishing related news, and it's mildly interesting to know there were 46 new deals done yesterday in the publishing world, but there are no details in the free version. It gives you some book titles which sold and the author's name but out of the 46 deals, it gave book title and author information on half a dozen. That's it.

There was three news items, 1 job ad for a position in New York, and two sections on the benefits of joining the organisation as a fully subscribed member.

I don't have a problem with it being an advertising tool. I can see it would be a worthwhile expenditure to be a member of when I am looking to sell a manuscript. Just not at the moment.

So the final judgement is to go ahead and register for the free newsletter as the occasional piece of information may be useful to you, but when you're ready to shop around your masterpiece, then join as a full member so you can avail yourself of the deal details, and who sold what to whom.

Lastly - still working on a YA link salad. Some very interesting stuff out there. Stay tuned.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

And So It Begins

Two posts from the same blog dealing with YA writing - and showing I know/knew nothing about by pointing out I was already asking the wrong questions and had incorrect assumptions.

Ally Carter who blogs over at Ally's Diary is ready to open up your mind to being able to write for the YA market.

Try these to give you the beginnings of understanding.

The Wrong Questions: This one blew my preconceptions out of the water.

Questions That Aren't Getting Asked At All: and this one clearly defines what a potential YA writer needs to know.

This throws a whole knew light on things. As many of you already know, a lot of my writing revolves around children or teens already. It may very well be possible, I'm already writing YA stuff. Some of it is definitely adult stuff with teens or kids involved but some is definitely with a teenage main character dealing with issues from a teen perspective.

The longest short story I've written so far is called "Confused Love" and that is definitely about a teenager with grownup issues from a teen perspective. At 9000+ words I cut out a lot of stuff I could rework and put back in to make it a longer work. 50-60,000 words for a YA novel shouldn't be difficult. It's NaNoWriMo in whatever time frame I want.

My current Historical Dark Fiction piece called Newland has a teenage girl as the main character. It's currently outlined to come in at 90-100k. A big point made in Ally's posts was to ensure something interesting was happening on every page for a YA novel. Although only in the first draft and obviously in need of revision once I get the story on paper, I think I could cut it down further if required. Still Ally also mentions that with the release of Twilight & Harry Potter, word count limits aren't what they used to be.

Could it be that I'm already a YA writer????

More research required...

Warms The Cockles Of My Black Heart

I was just over at Pubrants where I read an extremely interesting blog on what some editors in the US are looking for. Keep in mind Australia tends to be a year or more behind those trends, but this is big news for dark fiction writers.

This bit in particular interested me:

"Both editors are convinced that werewolves might be the new vampires (and that Zombies are almost over). Never thought I’d put those things in a sentence together! And although paranormal, vampires, and werewolves have been hot in the adult market, the children’s field hasn’t really caught up and there might be lots of room for that. I can see it."

I'm just about to release Wamphyri into the market which is both werewolf and vampire tale.

Not sure about the zombie quote though. I know over at Undead Backbrain, Rob has been keeping tabs on the next installment from George A. Romero which will likely cause another surge in the zombie craze.

I really need to get a grasp on writing horror for YA and child readers. There are writers like P. S. Gifford who are gaining momentum in this field. I wonder if I could find someone who could tell me what excludes stories from being considered YA and further excluded from a kids rating. I get that there shouldn't be swearing or sex or overt gore for gores sake, but what about everything else which makes up a horror story?

I don't let me nine year old read my stories, but then Santa and unicorns are still very real for her. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong in allowing your child to remain a child for as long as you can keep the magic going. Personally I think the world could be a better place if we all believed in a little magic. But I digress - again.

Does anybody have any suggestions on where I can find resources for writers who want to write in the YA or children's markets - specifically those who want to write dark fiction in these markets? Can people give me examples of what works in an adult market and how it would be presented differently in a YA market?

Time to do some serious research - I'll let you know what I find.

Just For Fun

Things like this do the rounds all the time but in case you haven't seen them, I received an email this morning with these:
This is just funny. Remember the old saying about "Out of the mouth of babes...: "Waterford boy, 8, saves sister's life: 'I wouldn't do it again. She's been a pain this week.'

In answer to the question: why would you?
"We had no idea anyone was buried there."

Now here's a surprise:

Now I could be wrong, but don't the teen years finish at 19??

Just to show this isn't a post trying to prove how much sillier other countries are, here's one closer to my home:

More From Alex

Alex continues her discussion on writing imagery.

This post is a little different from the rest of the series being more a discussion of where you can see thematic imagery used rather than how to build it into a story.

If you've read the other posts then it'll become self apparent.

Still worth the time to peruse.

Visual Storytelling Part 2

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Slow Day

Today has been slow in every way possible.

Last night I went out and participated in senior cricket training in an effort to be ready for my recommencement in a little over a weeks time. Today I'm paying for it.

I ache in a way I thought was a distant memory. I'm moving around like a very old man.

To top things off, I forgot to grab the data I needed to finish of my assignment resubmission so I won't get that done before Friday.

I had a response back from the Diploma Coordinator and gained the answers I expected so everything is moving forward for next year as expected. My elective choice has been confirmed as has the opportunity to swap to an internal student for one of the modules next year. The infamous Mr Stone and I will finally meet. That should be interesting.

No new responses from my submissions today. Another one has become overdue so I'll need to write a query shortly. Two more become due by the 15th and another before the end of the month. I need one more sale to consider this year a step forward on last year - business wise. I think I've moved forward with my ability in the craft, as in my writing is much improved, which, in the end, is the real goal at the moment.

Time to go and shuffle back to a comfortable seat and relax while I wait for my muscles to stop complaining.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Big Plug For Alexandra Sokoloff

I am getting no kick back for this. I started out putting together a link salad for your benefit and mine. While doing it, I thoroughly went through each post so I could comment on it or bypass it altogether.

I started listing a large number of links from a single blog, and really enjoying what I was learning as I read. Credit where credit's due, here I provide a single post touting the benefits of one writer's blog.

Over at The Dark Salon, Alexandra Sokolff's blog, she has been doing a huge series on writing tips. I've heard lots of people talk about writing to a formula and always scoffed at the thought of being so uncreative. Excuse me as I cover my mouth and cough (D!ckh3@d). If you can discover a set method for producing well written books, and then insert your creativity into that method, wouldn't you churn them out? As sure as the sun comes up in the morning and we will always have bills to pay - damn right you would.

Sage Agent Advice

  • Why Do I Need An Agent - This is in reverse order than shown on Alex's blog but then I think this needs to be answered first. Once convinced - and you will be - then you can find out how to get an agent.
  • How Do I Get A Literary Agent - A frank discussion on getting an agent and some tools to help you in your search.

Writing Tips

  • Screenwriting Part 2: Craft - This is just for the screenwriters out there and for me as I know I have a screenwriting module within my diploma and I'll need this resource later. The link for Part 1 is at the bottom of this post if you want to start from the beginning. There's a Part 3 as well.
  • Whats Your Premise - Excellent advise on the creation of the single sentence premise you'll need to sell your story to others. When someone asks you what your book is about, this will give you the structure you need to provide a killer answer.
  • Story Structure 101: The Index Card Method - Alex teaches screenwriting workshops but the formula discussed fits into writing a book. If you're like me and prefer a structured, methodical format to outline your writing - this could be for you. I'm definitely going to give this one a go.

Personal note: When I outline, I do it in a word document but it is similar to the index cards - just on smaller scale. It works. Alex now gives me the vital information of what I need to put into those scenes.

  • Fairy Tale Structure & Your List (08-01-09) Late on adding this one. Alex originally posted it back in Nov 08. I remember reading it but just never linked it to this series of posts. I'm putting this up front because creating your list is important. Thinking about the types of movies, settings, scares, love scenes, etc which you have found appealing in movies is central to writing the type of story you - and other movie lovers - would want to read. It also helps you break down what's important and when to place those important pieces. Learn this list - it helps.
  • The First Act - (Get the Hero Up A Tree) After learning about the index card method, now you can learn what to put on the cards in greater detail. There are great examples to help clarify things. And there are a lot of things you need to squeeze in here. While reading the second act, you see that some of these things can drift over, but there are still a lot of things to get done.
  • The Second Act - (Throw Rocks At The Tree Bound Hero) The big theme here according to Alex: "[The] continual opposition of the protagonist’s and antagonist’s plans is the main underlying structure of the second act." Alex also discusses 'Plants & Payoff'. I've recently started to invest more revision time in this and include comments about it in my critiques, pointing out when things first need to be mentioned (planted) so they come into play later (the payoff). This is also referred to as shadowing , but I differentiate between the two. Shadowing is all about the premise from my POV where as plant's and payoffs are more about making the story move along seamlessly. Shadowing has a bigger importance in my book, the little clues which foretell things to come. Same thing but different.
  • Creating Suspense - Good suggestions on recognising the type of suspense you want to create and how to go about deconstructing it into a formula you can then use to build it into your own writing. This post also looks at "the STAKES" within a story and how telling the reader straight out what the big stakes are, will help create suspense. So in Act One, tell the reader what the stakes are while introducing the scene, characters and premise, and then begin to create a scenario where those stakes are at risk. Hopefully you've also allowed your reader to begin caring about your main character. In Act Two you put all the obstacles in the way of your character and ramp up the threats to the major stakes. This can also include the introduction of the ticking clock. This post also makes the point between suspense at the overall level and at a scene level - two very different things which need to be succeeded at.
  • Creating Suspense Part 2 (Added 06-01-09) this post lit a light bulb for me on more than just suspense creation (although it's great information on that as well). Writing your WIP in layers, specific layers. You write out the story in the first draft, get it out of your system. You know all the bits you want to include, the emotions you want to provoke, but don't worry about that on the first pass. You can come back and ensure you get what you want on subsequent dedicated passes. Need more suspense? Do a dedicated pass over your story with suspense in mind. Need more warmth from your main character's second sister? Do a dedicated pass through your WIP concentrating on her and her interactions with others. Need more information provided to the reader on the setting? Do a... you get the picture. For people like me who are very methodical after the first draft, I found this idea to be brilliant.
  • The Second Act: Part Two - The Midpoint! Part two, of part two, goes into great detail about this very important event with great examples. With all the hints dropped to this point about the different posts still to come, and all the books and movies given as examples so far, I could be reading or watching TV for a long time to come.
  • Visual Storytelling - I've seen writers (okay, one writer) develop this technique as they evolved from unpublished to aspiring professional. It makes a huge difference in story telling. Alex again goes into great detail and provides good examples to help make this clearer. Using the visual aspect to mirror the theme, or the characters state of mind within a scene makes good story telling sense.
  • Visual Storytelling Part 2 (added 13-11-08) Alex continues her discussion on writing imagery. This post is a little different from the rest of the series being more a discussion of where you can see thematic imagery used rather than how to build it into a story. If you've read the other posts then it'll become self apparent. Still worth the time to peruse.
  • What Makes A Great Climax (added 18-11-08) Alex skips to the creation of the end, but it's something we need to think about way before we get there. The details may evolve a little differently as we write and revise our story, but how we come to the climax and what that clmax is, will be the last thing your reader/audience remembers. And if it's a let down, you may flush away your chances of landing that agent/editor/future longtime reader.
  • Elements Of Act Three - Part 1 (added 2-12-08) The first installment on crafting a great third act, particularly the parts which go into making a memorable, impact full final quarter of your story.
  • Elements Of Act Three - Continued or Part 2 (added 15-12-08) And the good advice keeps on coming in Alex's continuing series of brilliant writing tips. Much of this post is confirming things we have already read; things Alex has already touched on but with new examples to drive home the previous lessons. Oh, and if you haven't already made your list of the ten best films, 10 best midpoints, 10 best endings, etc - then you had better get stuck into your homework otherwise you won't gain full benefit from this series.
  • What Makes A Great Villain? (AKA Villains part 1) (added 20-01-09) This lesson is the opening gambit on creating a believable counterpart to your story's hero/ine. Rather than specifically telling you how to do it, Alex uses the make your own list method to get to the bottom of what you enjoy in a good villain and how to use that in making a great villain for your own story. It also leads into a great article by Allison Brennan with some gems of advice on the topic.
  • Forces of antagonism (AKA Villains part 2) (added 20-01-09) Carrying on from the first villain lesson, this post continues a good grounding on how to create the antagonist including some great examples.

Other Useful Stuff

  • Internet Resources For Writers - Lots of information about lots of different things - includes a lot of stuff I've already told you to go look at but if you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe Alex.

That's it so far, but there's so much more to come. If you haven't bookmarked this lady's blog yet, do yourself a favour.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Assignments Returned

After getting my rejection, it was nice to receive some positive news on the diploma front.

My penultimate assignment for Mr Stone in 2008 has received a B+ and some additional encouraging remarks (mixed in with his usual comments designed to bring a student down to earth).

But even better (and stranger) was the return of the assignment I've been waiting on.

The strangeness comes in because it was returned without a grade. The comments have my name attached to them but reference another work. I'll be querying it tomorrow. More importantly, I gained a response about Wamphyri - "nailed it" was the term used.

As soon as I get the printer installed, I'll be printing off the final version and submitting it along with the last assignment for Mr Stone, and the requested resubmission. Hopefully I won't need to resubmit the strange assignment I got back today.

The end is nigh.

Here Come The Rejections

The first rejection of the new season has arrived, although this has some nice personalised comments contained within such as:

"There's some quality moments of writing here, but..."

So Idolatry will be reworked when I find sometime. Chalk up another miss :(


I'm having a time out from my boring technical writing and catching up on some of my blog reading. It was during this relaxing past time I came upon this bit of information by Lauri Kubuitsile, a full time, award-winning writer living in Botswana.

I am amazed because I've read lists like this many times and the don'ts listed on them never seem to change.

Don't leave contact details off your short story submission unless otherwise indicated. This is normally because some authors place the details within the email instead. This is your work people and I'm guessing you'd like to gain the kudos or any feedback it gathers. Put your information in the email and in the story if you must, but definitely put it in the story - usually on a cover page in bold, clear type.

Don't go with the the first thing in your head. This should be obvious. Originality is, or should be, a key word in all your writing. And that is only possible if you read what's come before. Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre of choice and some from outside of it. At the very least you'll learn some good writing practises from osmosis and gain an insight into what's already been done. There is no such thing as a new plot, but there is an infinite way to portray it in a new light.

Don't mention your pets/hobbies. This is a new one on me. I stress all the time to anyone who'll listen, to read the publications guidelines (and one or two copies of the publication if possible) to understand what the editors are after. No where have I yet seen a guideline asking for the name of your pet or what your hobby is. The only way I could see this as being relevant would be if you're trying to build a non-fiction platform - i.e. You're writing a non-fiction story on climbing mountains and your hobby is climbing mountains with your pet yak - maybe.

Don't use txt. You are a writer. You are supposed to be an aspiring professional practitioner of the English language (or whatever countries language you write in). SMS is not the English language.

Don't go over or under the word count. Again - guidelines are there for a reason - not an editors whim. Be professional.

Don't send a poem to a short story market. Oh please. Apart from the fact I detest poetry, why would you? Lets go back to the guidelines - be professional!!

Don't scan your story into a JPEG file and submit. I'm beginning to think a school of 300 students were encouraged to send in entries and none of the teachers bothered to read the guidelines. Who scans a story into a picture file for submission? Where in the guidelines would it have suggested that?

Don't ask for a critique. In a contest, this is a big no-no. In short story markets, it is usually another big no. Some anthology editors are willing but not many of them. I would recommend not asking, but if you're lucky enough to get one, be profuse in your thanks (and don't expect the same responses from the editor in the future just because they were kind enough to do it once.)

Don't reveal this is your first story. I'll admit to doing this when I sent out my first piece to market. I did so because I'd done no research at all. This is the biggest mark of being green and points to the fact you've done no learning in the field what-so-ever. Unless you're incredibly gifted, it will also mark your writing as probably being terrible as well. No need to give an editor a reason to gloss over your work before they start. Be professional and succinct.

Don't constantly query. Editors are busy people. Annoy them at your peril.

So in the end, more than half of these dont's should be eradicated by simply reading the guidelines. How and where to place your contact details is normally covered. What to include in a cover letter is covered. The word count is always covered, as is the type of prose requested, i.e. short story or poem. The format of the submission is recovered and is usually .doc, .rtf, .txt, or within the body of the email. Response times, when to query if you haven't had a response, and what sort of a response you can expect are all covered in the guidelines.

The moral to all this:

Read the publications guidelines!

Moving On

I completed my manuscript critique on Saturday and sent it to the author yesterday. Also on Saturday, I touched base with a mate who is in the South Australian Police Force. I'm interested in gaining more knowledge on how things happen with the local boys in blue, but it seems we don't have ride alongs like I've heard of happening in the US. I may have to just sit down with a large list of questions and pick my mates brain. Police procedural stuff seems to big in the markets and a lot of the scenarios I've been thinking up lately have some detective element in them. Honestly, how can something horrific (supernatural or not) happen in this day and age and not involve the police? I need to know how they would react to certain things, the procedures they would follow. If other crime/mystery/thriller/police procedural writers are out there reading this - how did you find out how things worked?

Late last night, I finished off the last unsubmitted assignment for module 2. I would have printed it out for sending off today, except my printer refuses to install on the new computer - if it's not one thing it's another :(

So I'll play the USB key shuffle tonight, and transfer my assignment to the family computer to allow me to print it off. It'll get sent out tomorrow.

This assignment has actually got me thinking about some articles I can do for some pretty big publications. I think I'll have to do some research and a little travelling of the next few weeks to see if it'll pan out.

I came up with a new concept for the assignment I am required to resubmit, but I cant get the source material I need until Tuesday night. Once obtained, I'll photocopy it off on Wednesday and hopefully have the assignment finished and ready for posting by Friday.

I also emailed the course coordinator about next year and the choices I have to make. I'll probably come across as anal and overly obsessed, but that's me. I much prefer to be fully prepared when going into these things. Forearmed is forewarned...and all that great stuff.

Got a response back on Idolatry last night. Not an acceptance or a rejection - unfortunately it had been misplaced, gobbled up by the ether. The publication is seriously backlogged at the moment so I fully expected to be told sorry, please try somewhere else, but they didn't. I was asked to resub and was immediately confirmed as being in the slush pile. I've always had positive interactions with this market (haven't made a sale to them, but they have always been helpful in the feedback department). So I've altered my tracking sheet with the new dates and now wait eagerly for responses on all my other stories to start rolling in over the next couple of weeks.

Still waiting on the assignment with my draft version of Wamphyri to be returned. I'm hoping the assignment gains a passing grade, obviously, but I really want to see what the lecturer says about my story.

Today in my day job, and for most of this week, I'm writing. Technical writing unfortunately. Can't put it off any longer. In four hours this morning, I've knocked up four documents. I have a bunch of web based FAQ's to do, and another 6-8 technical doco's to do for the IT Help Desk staff. Very dry and boring stuff.

Lunch time.

I hope things are moving positively forward for you, in life, and with writing, for you and yours.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Progress Report

Just a quick note: I've critiqued to page 162 or the end of chapter 14. Just under 50 pages in an evening of work - except I have been constantly interrupted by a naughty little girl. My youngest decided tonight would be a good night to test the boundaries of Daddy's patience.

Still, I've crested the halfway mark and am looking to the final 37,000 words tomorrow. I just need to get up early enough to allow me a chance to do it.

Got to love a bit of pressure - deadlines are good. Even self imposed ones.

Time for bed.



Yep, another quiet day at work - and the boss left early which didn't promote an overly productive atmosphere among us plebs.

Result was I'm now up to page 116 out of 293 in my critique of my friend's manuscript. Not quite halfway. On the 29th of last month I received the full manuscript and promised she'd have it back in 10 days - therefore it's due tomorrow.

So tonight I'll be feverishly working through it and hopefully finishing it off sometime tomorrow. My youngest has had her weekly cricket game cancelled tomorrow due to lack of numbers with some of the team members going away on holidays and us not having any replacements. Good news for me - extra time to work.

Checked the post when I arrived home and no more assignments have arrived. I was really hoping my draft of Wamphyri would have been returned, but alas no. The job resume and application package I left in the mailbox for the family friend to pickup has gone so hopefully they liked what I did last night. Lets just say I was very creative ;c)

If I can get the resubmission and my final assignment for module two done on Sunday, then I'm pretty much finished. Sometime next week I'll be contacting the course coordinators to discuss my way forward for next year and find out what happened to my revised marks for semester one which never turned up.

So that's where I'm at.

Little wonder I'm not doing the NaNoWriMo challenge this year. Personally I think it's a great concept and one I'd love to find the time to do, but can't see me ever managing it - maybe when I've finished the diploma. I do however wish all those out there that are doing it all the very best. I'm avidly following a couple of writers attempting it this year and will be very interested to see how they get on.

Time to get back to critiquing.

Good luck with everything you're doing.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

A New Day Dawns And It's Another Up...So Far

After posting last night, I helped a family friend prepare a job application and the accompanying resume. At a guess, I think they are the 5th or 6th person I've helped in this way in the last six months - maybe I should start a business.

Anyway, doing the application left me no time to do my own writing or reworking of the assignment I have to resubmit. I should have taken it to work today as it was another fairly quiet one. I've got plenty to do, but nothing pressing.

So I critiqued another 4 chapters of a friends manuscript. When I got home, a single piece of mail was waiting for me - a returned assignment.

I opened it with trepidation. It was my "Writing Dialogue" assignment from module 1 - and I got an A.

See what I mean about ups & downs. I've received three assignments back this week: A-, resubmission required, A.

Can't get any further apart really, can you?

Tonight is cricket training so I won't be able to get on till late and then I have to finish off the application for the family friend. If it's again quiet at work tomorrow, I'll do some more critiquing before sending the manuscript home to finish off over the weekend.

To break things up, I'll work on the resubmission assignment as well.

Still no replies from any of my story submissions. Hopefully no news is good news.

One last piece of information everyone should read. Over at BookEnds, Jessica has given us an insight into what she asks her interns when they read a manuscript submission. It makes interesting reading. It would also be an excellent checklist for an author to run through during the outline and revision parts of writing a book. Go read it here...

I'll wait...................

I say it should be a checklist during outlining as well as during revision, because why would anyone want to invest huge amounts of time in writing a book if it doesn't have at least some of the characteristics listed there? True, books come that buck the trend and spawn a whole new way of doing things: Carrie, The DaVinci Code, Harry Potter - just to name a few, but look close--even they check off most of the things on that list. If your manuscript doesn't, and you think that's because yours is something completely different which will blow the socks off of an agent, then submit it a couple of times. If it gets rejected, it maybe worthwhile revisiting this checklist.

Good luck with your submissions


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ups & Downs

Yesterday I got some reading work done and received a positive outcome on a returned assignment.

Today, my daughter is coming down with tonsillitis requiring me to stay home and look after her. I imagined spending a good few hours writing, but after getting the doctor's appointment out of the way and waiting an hour for the prescription to get filled, I turned on the laptop and the same display issues sprang up immediately.

Rather than waste another day trying to resolve the problems, I scrounged around the parts I have at home and put another computer together. After reinstalling all the apps, I'm still yet to transfer all my writing work and finish the Microsoft updates - but at this point, it seems stable and working effectively. Hence my ability to blog.

If the little one is still under the weather tomorrow, maybe I'll be able to do the assignment that was returned today with a request to resubmit. Joy.

I was once told, if I allowed negative thoughts to linger then negative things will happen in my life. Case in point: If I had said the assignments were completed and sent off and I knew they were good and likely to gain high marks, then the power of positive thinking would make it so. If I planned for possible failure then I was allowing the window of opportunity to remain open and therefore I would fail.

I cant help it, I plan for contingencies so it isn't possible for me to get caught out. In allowing extra time to complete resubmitted assignments if they were required, I allowed the forces at work to sway me into submitting a below par assignment (apparently it completely missed the target as far as requirements), which I now have to work on in the additional time I allocated. I planned for failure - so I failed.


I misread the requirements; interpreted them incorrectly; went off half cocked.

Confidence and regarding the glass as half full is good. Not having a backup plan is bad.

Writers tend to be great at self-doubt. We need the reassurance of others to let us know we're not completely useless or wasting our time. We all have down times where we think negatively about our craft and our ability to use it.

If thinking negatively was a guarantee of failure, there would never have been a book written.

Writing takes work, lots of practise, and a degree of tenacity. But it also takes planning, and in that plan, you need to have contingencies. At every step: in the outline; in the writing; in the submission process; for your career.

Yet again I've rambled off on a tangent. I was intending just to let you know about my laptop and my assignment woes.

Just as well I planned to be ahead of schedule at this point of the year.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Good luck with all your writing endeavours.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And You Think I Write Long Posts

But this one, and the others in the series, are very worthwhile of your time.

Go read and learn - I did/am...

Excellent, Alex!

Assignment Returned

It's been a very slow and boring day at work today...which allowed me to get 4 chapters critiqued for a friend!

I also got back another graded A-.

All in all, a good day.

Still waiting on the assignment I need to hear back from with my draft of Wamphyri and I did gain a response back from the market I'm requested guidelines from but the email address they tried apparently bounced - very strange. I sent them additional email addresses to try.

Alex, if you're passing by, did you get my email with all my details?

I feel like I'm treading water at the moment. I don't like to start a new phase until I've finished what I was already doing. SA50s+ may be finished and now I'm waiting on the assignments to come back so this year of the diploma is finished. Then I wont feel guilty forgetting about structured writing and getting stuck into my fiction again.

Strange way to work, but I hate working creatively on a piece spawned from my imagination to work on a structured article that involves double checking facts, or vice versa.

Might go do some reading - although golf on the Wii is calling me as well...

Good luck with whatever you're working.


Monday, November 3, 2008


It seems highly possible that the soon-to-be released issue of SA50s+ will be the last issue I will write for.

A week or so ago, I was informed that the publishing agency was making some changes after this issue was released. Over the weekend I was told the editor has been removed.

It seems format and content changes are now going to go ahead. I don't know if the new editor will be contacting me in regards to further articles, or even if I want to write for the proposed new format.

On a personal note, I think the recently released editor did an outstanding job for the three issues she produced. The paper was vibrant and full of information the target demographic would find useful. If feedback letters are anything to go by, then she'd done the right thing.

Apparently it wasn't financially viable, or at least the end product wasn't. It seemed to me that articles were being squeezed more and more each issue due to increased pressure from the publishers to include more and more advertisements.

Apparently issue four, autumn 2009, will be completely different. The large, colourful, information packed format will be gone, replaced by a smaller publication with less content, but more ads!

I'm not getting paid to write the articles I do for this publication so I guess I can express my disappointment in these changes. If I lose the gig, so be it. It'll give me more time to write for other publications. If anyone out there is after a freelancer to do some work for them, leave me a comment.

Time to go look for a new gig...


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Advanced Diploma 2008

As they say in Euka - I'm all but - all but done for this year as far as the diploma is concerned.

I'm still waiting for a whole bunch of them to be graded and returned, and I'm waiting on submission guidelines to arrive from a target market for my second to last assignment. I'm also waiting on the return of my draft submission of Wamphryi.

If the market guidelines confirm what I suspect, then I can send in the last assignment for Module 2. If the draft of Wamphyri comes back without too many requests for changes (there will be some - this teacher is not going to think a student can produce a flawless piece, even if it has been work shopped with other writers) then I should be able to knock that off quickly as well.

My only drama will be the assignments I haven't yet received back. I've had to resubmit assignments in the past so until I get them back with a sufficiently high enough grade, I don't count anything as done.

I received a letter from the Centre for Arts the other day notifying students when final submissions had to be in by. I've been working to the deadline of the 20th November. My schedule has me finishing on the 12th, leaving me two weeks for any resubmissions. The letter gives me until the 28th, so I have another full week up my sleeve.

If the best scenario plays out, I'll be finished by the 7th, and with two distinctions to my name.

It's just as well things are wrapping up - my laptop is dying. I finally concede it isn't driver or software causing my problems. I'm pretty sure it's the hardware. Time to save up and buy a new one. Maybe Santa could bring me one - I've been a good boy this year...

I'm also expecting replies back about story submissions this month. Just about the entire current batch actually. I queried two last month, got a response from one editor and nothing from the other market to this point, however I know they're having issues so I can be patient.

So hopefully a good month ahead.

I wish you all a good month ahead as well.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Come My Children

I have a follower: Ms Nienke Hinton from Canada. I feel all cultish and strange ;c) Thank you for hooking up - just for that I'll add you to the link exchange program (If you really want to see someone with a huge link exchange, go see Nienke's blog roll - it is mega-huge), and return the favour. I'm interested to see how a few of my writing buddies go with NaNOWrMO - or whatever it's called ;c). Maybe I'll have time to give it a go next year.

Writers seem to clump together in cyberspace. We gather around and support each other through good times and bad. The image of the lonely wordsmith with the drinking problem, struggling through difficult times without anyone to offer words of encouragement or validation are long gone I think, or at least should be. Unless it's the type of writer portrayed in Californication - if I was single, I wouldn't mind being that kind of writer. Back to reality...

I still spend long hours in my study, on my own, but enough people send me a comment or an email to let me know I'm not the only person in my writing situation. I'm never truly alone in my writing.

My family support me, friends show interest, and the writing community, particularly writers who are only just starting out, or those who haven't made it to mega rich status yet, or have been doing it seriously for less than 7 or 8 years, are more than happy to open communication channels. Even full time writers have started communicating with me.

In a comment from an earlier post, Bianca referred to to Lee from Fiction Factor. Lee was the very first professional writer I got to know online, and helped me immensely when I first started. Her site continues to help me. I've drifted out of forums at the moment due to time constraints, but I wholeheartedly still endorse her site and her efforts to help new writers. Go join the newsletter mailing list and see what I mean.

But the point is, Bianca has only started posting the occasional comment recently and has said she is happy to do an article and allow me to link to it. And she was happy to refer me on to another source out of the kindness of her heart. That's how thoughtful writers are toward each other.

Benjamin, Felicity, Jamie, Cate, David & no doubt others who will be miffed at not being originally named in this paragraph, have all offered words of comfort and encouragement at times for no additional payment other than an occasional similar comment on their little piece of cyber-real estate, but even that isn't a prerequisite.

We are all learning the craft, and we all search other writers sites for little pearls of wisdom to both share and incorporate into our own life. Together we form a growing bond of loosely associated peddlers of fiction - and I for one am proud to be part of it.

Whether you're a lurker who has never commented, a follower, or a regular comment maker - thank you for coming.

And if you feel so inclined, feel free to join the cult of MyMusings - it's totally free! I won't take any of your assets, I include all other denominations without prejudice, and don't expect any further input if you don't wish to do so. We don't plan on killing anybody in real life but we do write lots of stories about doing it, and can be found thinking up new ways to terrorize individuals while we blend into normal society performing perfunctionary tasks called day jobs.

There are no leaders and no sexual rites performed unless you really want to and then you're free to choose your own partner to perform those rites on/with.

What more could you ask for from a membership that is here to support you while you support others.

I guarantee, if you join my cult, I will join yours :)