Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flat

My lovely wife had a dinner engagement to attend tonight so I thought I'd do a quick switch of which night I'd have off writing. Turns out I ended up doing a couple of hours yesterday anyway but nowhere near what I normally do.

I figured I'd spend that couple of hours on Wamphyri and then have all of tonight to work on Newland. Wamphyri is coming along. It's now 20 something words over limit but I've addressed all the areas of concern from my readers. Now I just need to find areas to slim down - any one have a girdle for words?

So tonight I'm supposed to be working on the book and I've only just sat down at the computer. This cold still has a grip on me and I have a killer headache on top of that. I can't concentrate. As I've said before, when I sit down to write, I read over what I did before and then move on from there. Unfortunately just reading what I'm currently typing is causing me to squint at the screen.

I've got this week off work. I've got appointments on Monday and an interview for SA50s+ to do on Wednesday. Other than that, it's time to write. No painting this time round.

This week I want to do at least two chapters of Newland, finish off Wamphyri, and do two assignments. I'd also like to finish reading another book, and finish another article for SA50s+ (otherwise why bother going on an interview?).

Lets see how I do. How much do you read/write in a week? Do you work full time as well? Am I deluding myself... :)

Good luck with your writing.

BT

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Things All Round

Today was another dreary day at my real job.

The silver lining was the gaining of feedback from both my crit partners. Both picked up on similar things that didn't work for them, and a few individual things of interest. I'll be revising Wamphyri for the fifth time tonight.

The other bit of good news was the return of my assignments. I managed to go from a C- and a resubmit please, to an A and an A-! Out of the park!

So I'm back on track. I'm only doing a few hours of writing tonight so I'd better get to it.

I hope nice things arrived on your doorstep today.

BT

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Birthday

Firstly - Happy Birthday to Amy Treadwell.

Secondly - Happy Birthday to Musings Of An Aussie Writer!

Yep, we've turned 1 year old. Well, we actually turned 1 year old 5 days ago but due to illness and the reminder being set on my work computer, I missed it.

So mark it in your diaries - 22nd August - I'll supply the cake, you bring a libation of your choice.

A little under 4000 visitors in 12 months to my little section of cyberspace. Not bad really. According to ClustrMaps, I've had visitors from every continent except Antarctica. Not a huge amount of people from Africa or South America, so I'd love for that area to increase. Maybe someone out of Egypt or Argentina...

The majority of my visitors have been from Australia, USA and UK which is understandable but writing is universal and the Net is spreading wider everyday. Send me requests to link to your sites. Send me requests to comment on your sites if you'd like. More than happy to spread the love of writing and increase your traffic and my own.

Here's to topping 8000 visitors by this time next year.

To all the wonderful people I've met and exchanged words with over the last 12 months - thank you. Writing can be an isolated gig, but being able to interact with others of the ilk is a nice thing.

BT

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Funny

Now this is scarily amusing and apart from the music and dancing, not far from the truth when I first started.

The Imaginary Writing Process

Anybody else game enough to admit to it?

Got A Bit Done

Currently it's 9:14Pm on Tuesday night (Mind you, I didn't finish writing this post till 9:45 - see I do get side tracked) - so nearly 12 hours since I posted this morning about what I was going to try and get done. Not surprisingly, I didn't get a long way through my short list.

Lets recap:

I wanted to review the anthology Triangulation: Taking Flight. This was the first thing off the bat, and as indicated earlier, has been completed. I've alerted at least one of the authors to its birth but haven't had any feedback yet - not that it matters one way or the other, all my reviews are honest.

Next cab off the rank was Wamphyri, my short story for the diploma. Due to be in a marketable state by November, I wrote the outline over a month ago, the major character outline a few weeks ago and the first scene three times in the last fortnight. Then inspiration struck and I wrote the whole story in an evening. The assignment requirement was for a 4000 word story but my night of falling through the hole in the page led to a 4300 word story. Today I was intending to do the first revision. After the fourth revision, I had it down to 4000 words. Ordinarily I prefer to leave time between changing work--which I did--ordinarily I tend to have bigger breaks than a walk to the fridge for refreshment--but today I didn't. Still I think it comes up pretty good now so I've sent it to a couple of people for comment.

Next was Idolatry. After it's rejection, I looked hard at the story and kept the editors comments in mind. It is a horror story but not hard core. In my way of placing stories into genres, Idolatry is dark fiction at worst. 1920s pulp fiction maybe a better description. So I needed a lighter speculative market this time round. I'm still not ready to send work to exposure only markets, although I'm not far away from that. For work over 1000 words, I'd rather get something for my efforts. In the end I chose Byzarium for a couple of reasons. They are SpecFic, prefer shorter works, don't pay huge amounts, have a quick response time, and have a currently open submission window. Actually they accept all year round, but not everyone does - read the guidelines page before submission anywhere!

Last two items were assignments and Newland. Not going to happen, even though Monday and Tuesday are assignment nights. Instead I got sidetracked - again.

I went through every page of Musings Of An Aussie Writer - The Website. I've updated most pages and checked all the links (I think). I've added some new content and removed some older stuff I no longer want to support or host. I've updated my goal progress (or lack thereof) and a whole heap of other stuff. Feel free to wander through and let me know if I need other stuff either added or removed (or fixed).

And yes, I know the ads are a pain, but I simply don't have the time or the money to spend on a new site right now. Soon, I'll look into a domain but just not yet.

Last announcement (that I can think of at the moment - head like a sieve), the details for next years PARSEC contest are already out. Go have a look from the link in my competitions list and keep it in mind. Good luck!

Okay, that's it from me for today. Obviously I didn't spend the full 12 hours at the computer but it was at least a full days work. I think I did okay on the amount I got done. What do you think?

Back to my real job tomorrow :( Wednesday, Thursday & Friday of working in the real world to go--oh, and then I've got all of next week off :)

Sorry - couldn't resist.

Hope things are working out exactly as you want them to in whatever it is you're doing.

BT

Back In The Saddle...Slowly

Today is the first day in nearly a week, I've felt well enough to get some work done o my writing.

I sat down this morning and listed off the things I need to catch up on.

A review of the anthology sent to me by Amy Treadwell - Triangulation: Taking Flight. Done.
First revision of Wamphyri. Done (and subsequent 2nd, 3rd & 4th revisions)
Find a new market and possible revision of Idolatry (doing now - 7:30pm local time)
Assignments 2-3 & 1-4 for my diploma
Newlands
Reading

Reading is just an ongoing thing for me now. I've always got half a dozen books (minimum) floating around waiting to be read and reviewed.

The review on the antho has been done and the link inserted above.

Wamphyri needs to be revised and then reduced--hopefully both at the same time.

Idolatry needs to go out again today.

This is the bare minimum I need to accomplish. I'll let you know how I get on later.

Go read my review and then go buy a copy of Amy's anthology. Her stories alone are worth the $4 for the PDF version. (Thank you for the autographed copy - hopefully one day I will be able to return the favour :))

Time to get back to work.

BT

Monday, August 25, 2008

Triangulation Anthology

I managed to finish reading the anthology sent to me by Amy Treadwell.

Some very good stuff contained there in. I'll do a full review as soon as I can sit at the computer without getting a headache, a hot flush, a stop dripping bodily fluids onto the keyboard - eww - sorry about that.

Good book though. I found most of the stories very good and easy to read. What registered more than anything else was the majority were fully formed ideas. "But all stories should be!" I hear you cry. Most stories I've come across outside of published markets, i.e. those that are trying to get into published markets, are not fully told stories. Important lesson that.

I didn't like all the stories inside the cover, but I'll get to that full review soon.

Back to bed for me. This flu is killing me.

BT

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kicked While I'm Down

Well--not really. I'm still very ill. Only a few days ago I was listening to a news story about how the flu season had seemed to pass Adelaide by this year - yet another news story released just a little too early to be useful.

So, I've spent the last two days in bed and now I've finally dragged myself to the keyboard to check my emails, and I discover that Idolatry got knocked back. I'd do a write up and grab an excerpt of the comments, but the jury is still out on whether people think it should be done - so I'll make comments on the comments but leave it at that.

Dark Recesses thought my writing was pretty good but the story didn't have enough in it. I'd describe Idolatry as more 1920s noir fiction so it could very well be a little light for a full on horror market - that's cool and the feedback is very much appreciated. Increase the reject total by one.

I don't have the strength to think about revisions, new markets or anything else at the moment. It's suddenly got very hot in here, and my nose is starting to run again from sitting up for longer than I have in two days.

Time to go back to bed.

Hope life is better where you are.

BT

Friday, August 22, 2008

Enforced Timeout

Been sick the last day and a bit. Having immense troubles looking at a screen and typing let alone actually managing some work. The bug that's been sweeping through my household has claimed me and knocked me flat.

Time for plenty of bed rest and maybe some reading.

Hopefully I'll be back on deck come Monday.

Have a good weekend.

BT

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Freelance Article Writers: Questions of a Newbie

I'm working my way through a comprehensive market list and finding a lot of seemingly dead ends. So I'm going to throw questions up here. I'll add to them as new ones come up and answer them if I find out the info, but don't be shy: if you know an answer, please enlighten us.

It was only the other day I asked a question that others apparently didn't know either but for one reason or another didn't ask. I'm not scared about looking a bit slow in the head - I always look that way :p

1. What are "Tear sheets"? I found this explanation:

'Any time your work is published, you get copies, often literally clipped out of copies of the magazine, for your own future advertising and portfolio. Tear sheets are the evidence that your work has been published. Tear sheets are similar in this regard to reprints of articles'

Does this mean the publisher tears out a copy of your article and sends it to you for your own records instead of sending a full copy?

2. Contributor Guidelines Available. I'm used to the fiction markets where the guidelines are displayed on the websites - simple and convenient. In a lot of freelance article markets, I've seen listings saying "Contributor Guidelines Available" but I can't find them on the websites. Am I supposed to email the editors for a copy? If yes, then is there a proper format for doing this or is a simple direct request all that is required?

In addition to this one, I see things like:

Initial contact: email/phone/full submission/short outline

I'm guessing if I'm supposed to phone editors with a pitch for an article, there would be some extremely busy people who are on the phone all day. What about fillers? Are we supposed to phone with these too? Doesn't sound particularly efficient or logical.

3. What are media packs?

4. Is there a pitch format?

5. What is the standard rate of pay for new comers?

I am amazed that all these magazines have a large percentage of their content provided by freelancers and yet guidelines are hidden away, or extremely hard to get hold of, or the freelancer has to jump through hoops to get.

It's like some secret world out there, a members only club.

I had some spare time this afternoon, so I quickly skimmed through the beginning of the Australian Writers Marketplace, and noted down which markets accepted articles on topics I could write about and which ones accepted fillers. In the short time I had available, I noted down 31 markets. This evening I went through them, visited every single one's website, read the details of each market in the Guide.

I have created a list of markets where I know what they want. I put in it all the little details I can find to help me market the right articles and fillers to the right markets - just like I do with my fiction stuff. Out of 31 markets so far, I've added 4 markets to my list. Two of those are fiction markets that accept articles as well. The other two I managed to find out about through similar methods I find stuff out about fiction markets.

This is ridiculous.

Can anybody shed some light on this...please.

Signed

Frustrated :(

Assignments Gone and Some Appreciation

I finished off the second assignment and sent both resubs off this afternoon. Fingers crossed I got it right this time.

I also received some nice feedback from Polly Frost on my review of Deep Inside. It's nice to get positive feedback when reviewing, almost as much as it's nice to get positive feedback from a reviewer - I imagine.

Currently I'm working through compiling a freelance market list to include possible markets for articles I can see myself writing and for fillers. Mustn't disregard fillers. Good payment for a little work if you get enough of them out there.

I've also been scouring the web for freelance help and there is so much crap out there, it's scary. I came across more sites and deals trying to rip newcomers off than I did with writing fiction. Strangely enough, they look and feel very similar.

Best rules to apply when looking for help in either freelance or fiction:

Money flows to the writer. Never pay for anything. Unless it is a government recognised course, don't fork out the hard earned.

Don't buy ebooks promising to teach you anything. I've seen a number of ebooks, and while some actually do contain good information, careful searching and proper education, will reveal those tricks to you anyway. There are no short cuts!

Put in the work to learn. You need to write in both fields to get better at them. Write lots of short stories and revise them, gain feedback from reputable crit groups or non-related people you trust to be honest. Read potential freelance markets, the magazines, newsletters, etc and see what others have had accepted and figure out if an angle was missed. Practise creating simple and straightforward pitches based on your ideas. Send those pitches to editors.

They can only say no, and usually it would be a no thank you.

Don't get discouraged.

Speak to you soon.

BT

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another Assignment Redone

Well almost. This has been hard. I found it hard the first time round too, but this time I've done it on an idea for an article I'm already pitching, but isn't yet accepted--although it looks promising.

Shaping it into what is required for the assignment was the hard part. The idea and the reasons behind the article were obvious as was the original market, but because of the way the assignment is worded, it keeps pushing me back to a different mind frame. My idea for an article almost seems trivial to what it's trying to get me to do.

But that could be my blinkers in regards to articles and the terminology used in the assignment. My innate thought process should be closer to the mark of what is required but nagging doubts remain because of the wording. We'll see. I can't do any worse than a C-.

I have a flow chart to depict my flow of ideas in creating this article still to do, and I want to do some more research into possible markets to offer a few targets when I resubmit the assignment. I think Mr Stone will like that.

So a pretty productive night. A book finished and reviewed, and an assignment almost redone. I'll finish it off tomorrow night first thing, and then move onto reading and reviewing The Teacher's anthology.

I keep telling everyone what I'm doing and how I'm progressing, but what are you doing? Had any acceptances you'd like to crow about? You should, crow that is, to everyone that'll listen. It's not easy to put your work out there, so you have a right to feel proud when someone else agrees that it is good enough to be shown to the world.

Feel free to drop me a comment about your latest successes, or your latest plans. Maybe you'll trigger ideas or new pathways for others that read the blog.

Don't be shy.

And don't forget, that I'm looking after markets for AHWA now, so if you have any market news, let me know about that too.

Best of luck with your writing.

BT

Review: Deep Inside by Polly Frost

I've just finished the review of the darkly erotic anthology, Deep Inside by Polly Frost.

You can read what I thought of it here.

Freelancing

Over the last few months, I've become very jaded about my current day job. I rock up to work and slog may way through the day - very uninspiring.

Why not quit?

Because there is simply nowhere in South Australia that would pay me the same amount of money, provide a relaxed environment, flexible working hours, and good conditions. Sounds like a dream place to be.

Notice I didn't mention good things about the people I work with. There are some good people here but none of them are managers. Everyone above me in the pecking order couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery, and love to do their best to make everyone's life harder than it needs to be.

I have no wish to become management, I couldn't handle working closer with these people. So if I'm not part of the solution, then I'm part of the problem. I don't want to be either - hence the desire to move on.

But, like everyone else, I have responsibilities, so I need something else to move on to. I scour the job market every day, but I can't find anything worthwhile, or that will match my skills with what I currently get - which is pretty good for South Australian standards. And I don't really want to stay in the same type of job. After 10 years in this industry and over 8 years at the same place, I'm bored.

Mid-life crisis, maybe, but I much prefer to snuggle with my wife, and I don't want to buy an e-type jag.

So it may be time to seriously look at freelancing. As it's part of my diploma course work, now is probably the best time to begin.

I put a few pitches forward to a couple of editors and an Adelaide company. I've put feelers out to increase my writing work to increase the income from it. I need to start researching the freelance markets sent to me by my lecturer, buy the magazines and become familiar with the style and type of article they accept.

I want to be a professional writer and earn a living from it. I want to work from home and still provide my family with the standard of living they've become accustomed to. I need to stop half trying.

My fiction may one day make some money, but freelancing is where the steady income will come from in the meantime. So I'll see what I can learn about freelance article writing over the next few months. I'll pump my lecturer, Mr Stone, for all I can in an effort to absorb knowledge, which I'll try to pass on here when I find successful strategies.

I've pretty much fallen into opportunities presently and taken a chance at suggesting articles to editors I've gotten to know. It's surprising how happy they are to get the pitches. They need to fill their publications and the more freelance stuff they get, the less they have to hunt around for fillers.

More pages of good articles = more space for advertising = more money for publication = happy editor = happy freelancer = more good articles.

So, my plan is to study the markets, start collecting ideas and pitch them at editors.

I need to learn about media packs, magazine publishing schedules (are they the same thing), who are the editors, market databases similar to the fiction databases, pitch formats and guidelines, payment standards, pitfalls and places to stay away from, job markets, etc, etc.

I'm sure this list will grow as my knowledge grows. When I first started learning about writing fiction, I gathered more questions than answers. I still learn new things all the time, and will always continue to do so, but now it's time to expand my knowledge across the freelance article side of professional writing.

Anybody have suggestions, gotcha warnings, tips, tricks, helpful hints? I'm sure we're all ears.

BT

Monday, August 18, 2008

Module 2 Assignment 1 Done - Again

"insert voice dripping with sarcasm here" Strange - I looked very closely at Mr Stone's general comments and then went through what I'd done.

"attach open palm to forehead with great velocity here" - I'd generalised the whole assignment because I'd missed the imperative line "an article" - the assignment was supposed to focus on a single article I was intending to research and write, not what I was intending to research and write overall. Bloody dill! - apologies to Mr Stone for me going off half cocked--again.

Now Mr Stone also stressed that I should take my time and have a think before redoing it - I'm not really built that way. I made a mistake so I carefully went through the criteria again. And then rewrote the assignment. It's now ready to be sent off again. I'm sure I've got it covered this time. Famous last words...

I'll do the second resubmission tomorrow night. I'm not sure if he'll accept that one but I want to do it right anyway. If he accepts it, fine, if not then so be it. It currently has been graded at a lowly C- which made me cringe after getting used to As and Bs. Definitely woke me up from my carefree attitude. Like I said - business as usual with Mr Stone.

Time for me to be calling it a night. I've got 100 or so pages left to read on my current book for review and then it's off to the land of nod.

Night

BT

Stone Walled Again

I was feeling so good last night after reeling off 4300 words. Today I wrote another brand new story for the Apex Halloween contest keeping it under 1000 words. Then the mail came...

For those of you who don't know, I had a running battle with one of my lecturers during semester 1. Much to my chagrin, I have him again for semester 2. It's a hate-love-hate kind of relationship. He tells me how much potential I have and then makes odd comments, almost snide remarks, about my work.

Well today saw a return to normal services. Two assignments that need to be resubmitted with little real suggestions, only general comments and yet with ticks on every page - not a single note to point out what he specifically thought was wrong. Just generalised fluff on the overall assignment. Not really helpful. Then he supplies me with pages of possible markets for students to submit work to. It's like sugar and a stick. He offers me a sweetener and then smacks me over the hand when I reach for it. So the remainder of the assignments for Mr Stone go back on hold while I rework these two. I need to focus more on the freelance article-side of my writing, maybe this is just fates way of giving me a nudge. I'm missing something about identifying topics and markets. If only that penny would drop...

Have to take the lad to cricket training first but then the rest of the evening is on Diploma work.

I hope your writing is on less of a roller coaster ride than mine is currently.

BT

Annual Apex Halloween Contest

Link to original posting on Apexbookcompany.com

Halloween is just around the corner, so you should know what that means–the annual Apex Halloween short fiction contest!

This year’s theme is: ELECTION HORROR

Guidelines:Your story must incorporate the theme of ELECTION HORROR.
Word count maximum is 1,000.
Your story must have first rights available.
Submit your story to halloween@apexdigest.com.
Submissions are open NOW.
Deadline is 11:59 PM, October 15th, EST.
This year’s celebrity judge is noted SF author Jay Lake!

Winner receives payment of 10 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Second place receives payment of 5 cents per word and publication in Apex Digest Online.
Third place receives a free Apex Book Company hardcover.
Fourth place receives a free Apex Book Company trade paperback.

Winning and second place story will be published on November 4th (election day).

Good luck and have fun writing some election horror!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Out On My Own

Well something had to give, unfortunately it was either my writing time or the time I spent on TPN. So I'm down to having two gifted individuals who have said they'd be happy to read my stuff. In a perfect world, I'd be able to find one last individual who writes in my genre to help, but I'm in no hurry. If the proposed AHWA critique groups get under way, then maybe I'll be ready to try another group. Maybe I'll have all my commitments under better control by then.

But that's in the future. Tonight I sat down and got stuck into my short story for my diploma - current title, Wamphyri. It needs to be 4000 words or less. I've written the opening twice and then rewrote the outline based on feedback from my lecturer. Tonight I started for the third time and in a few hours, among doing the washing, I've knocked off 4300 words.

I'll let it sit for a few days before coming back and editing it, hopefully down to 4000. As Felicity would say, I found the hole in the page. I literally fell through it. I could see what was happening and just wrote what I saw. It's the first new thing I've written from start to finish in a while. I'm tired but very happy.

Tomorrow and Tuesday are assignment days, and I'm looking forward to doing them, not worried that I have so much other stuff to do, because of my relaxed responsibilities toward others.

One of my goals for this year was to win a writing contest. I don't think that's going to happen now. I'm not giving up on it completely but I'm changing my targets a little. I will aim only for genre specific contests from now on. The only two exceptions to that are PARSEC and the Salisbury Writers Festival. These are more literary, more mainstream, but Amy was kind enough to send me the anthology that resulted from this years PARSEC contest so I'll know what they're after better (if I can get around to reading it - it's next on my list, honest--keep an eye out for the review) and I'll do some research into the Salisbury contest to find out what they want. The other two contests I want to look at is AHWA (of course) and WOTF.

AHWA contest has already gone for this year but I'll see what they want once Midnight Echo comes out. I've already read one of the runners up. This will allow me to shape something for next years contest. I've got a bunch of WOTF anthologies I haven't got around to reading.

So assignments, SA50s+, and reading (+reviews) will be my focus for the next few months. I currently still have 8 shorts doing the rounds. As far as my writing goes, I won't be idle there either. I'm still working on Newland and Wamphyri and have a growing word document on other ideas I have (had a big one the other day while watching an Italian movie).

So I'm sad that I've parted ways with TPN and thank them all very much for the help they offered along the way. I've written a more detailed thank you to them on the site so I'll leave my public thank you at that.

Writers need feedback, and when I joined TPN, I didn't really have any outlets, and I wasn't doing anywhere near as much. Since joining them, I've been lucky enough to find two people who want to continue reading my stuff and are happy for me to comment on theirs, joined HorrorScope, joined Black, joined SA50s+, offered to be a slush pile reader, and increased my course load.

The fun just never stops.

I look at a lot of this "volunteer" stuff I'm doing as paying my dues, learning the trade, networking, a kind of education in the trenches if you will.

I am learning and becoming a better writer because of it.

I hope I'm sharing that with you. I think I've been pretty open with my journey so far and I hope because of that, others have managed to step over a few potholes I missed, or found a piece of advice useful to help in their own growth.

If yes--great, if no, then this journal still helps me and provides entertaining reading for at least a few. I hope it's a little of both.

Good luck with your writing.

BT

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Review: AntipodeanSF Issue 123

I've posted a review of AntipodeanSF Issue 123 on HorrorScope. Enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Salisbury Writers Festival Launch

Short and definitely not sweet.

Perhaps being someone who has grown up in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide, and intimately aware that the general individual raised in this area comes from a lower-middle-class background, I shouldn't have been surprised at what confronted my wife and I.

We arrived on time, Jodi in a very nice suit we brought for the occasion, me in dress pants and a shirt. As we walked toward the well lit location with the glass frontage, we could see those gathering inside. Very few had bothered to dress for the occasion. Ratty old jumpers, jeans, sneakers; as if they'd taken time out from their shopping at the local mall and popped in for the free food and wine. Provincial was the word that suddenly came to mind. A bunch of try-hard part-timers who wanted to be considered writers.

Then the average age of those present dawned on me. Most were a lot older than my 40 years. Life experience is an important thing for a writer, but less so for a genre writer. Don't get me wrong, a good young genre writer will become a great writer with time and application, but too many festivals have the blue rinse set writing humdrum mainstream stories as their bread & butter patrons.

My wife and I sat in the hastily aligned chairs somewhere near the middle row, but at the end as I have a need to get up on occasion due to a bad back.

We listened with interest to a local author, who has seen more than his fair share of troubles in his life, but still managed to get a local history book published. Then came the announcement of the contest winners.

First the kids who looked truly happy at their success, and I was genuinely pleased for them--writers of the future, I thought.

Then the senior awards, sorry, the open awards which turned out to be presented to mainly seniors. Sour grapes? Not really. With titles like "Watching the power bill" or some such dribble, I knew immediately that the awards were going to mainstream stories. My little dark fiction piece didn't stand a chance.

No announcement of any honourable mentions, just first, second, and third. I also think most of them knew they'd placed somewhere beforehand.

I'm guessing the hall sat around 80 people. About a dozen dignitaries were there with partners; the special guest was there with a few of his friends, and I spied a few who looked like supporters of the local culture building attempts of the council; local authors and the like (the literary bow tie and antique broach club brigade). So there would have been around 50 possible entrants, maybe less. They announced 12 awards which went to 11 people with one person winning an award for prose and poetry.

Only one winner wasn't there and the organisers knew where they were. They actually explained the reason for the absence, so I'm guessing they contacted the recipients to make sure they would be present. The rest of us, they let come and stew in anticipation to fill up the numbers.

I was more disappointed because we believed we were going to a cultural event that promoted itself more toward genre writing than mainstream literary stuff. I was more disappointed because my wife and I seemed to be the only two there to bother about presentation--we were better dressed than the Mayor! Jodi looked beautiful in her new outfit.

Only one person turned up to represent the writers centre.

We arrived at 7:00pm and were out of there before 8:00pm.

Disappointing would be an understatement.

But now we know. Next year I'll enter a more contemporary piece, and won't bother showing up unless I'm asked specifically to attend. If I'm wrong and they don't let the winners know previous to the event, they can send me my check and certificate in the mail, if I manage to place.

Congratulations to all the winners, especially the kids. I hope to read the winning stories in the not-too-distant-future so I know what they expect next year.

So the Salisbury Writers Festival Launch Party was a wash. Now I just need to send Idolatry off to the other market I heard about that sounded very suitable.

Ah well - back to writing and submitting.

BT

Big Night Tonight

Tonight is the launch party for the Salisbury Writers Festival. I forgot to RSVP earlier in the week but a quick phone call to the organisers this morning assured me my wife and I were still able to get in.

The announcement of the winners for the short story comp will also be made tonight so everyone keep your fingers, toes, and anything else you're capable of crossing, crossed. This is the comp I submitted Idolatry to, a 2000 word dark fiction piece centering around the theme of greed.

Yesterday I also received another assignment back. B+. So for Module 1, semester 2, I've so far received an A and two B+s. Cool. It also included some thoughts on the short I'm writing for it, Wamphyri.

Lately I've been very preoccupied with theme in my writing. Combined with feedback on my outline for Wamphyri, it's becoming an issue. "Too much going on" is a common catch-cry in regards to my early drafts of short fiction. I need to step back and nail down a theme and then remove everything not necessary to convey that theme. Not an easy task when verbalising exactly what the theme is, seems elusive to me.

So I've started trying to detail the theme in all my works - practise makes perfect. Hence my mention of greed in Idolatry. Everyone in the story has an agenda where they believe a magical object can get them what they really want: The main character wants money and long life, the buyer wants long life and virility for her husband (they already have money), and a rival wants the idol for the same reasons as our main character. In the end, only one wins, while greed claims the life of one, and disappointment for another. Perhaps a fuller theme description would be "Greed only brings hardship" as even the "winner" has to devote himself to the idol.

There is a total of four characters (including the hotel clerk - five if you include the cab driver but he doesn't speak). In Wamphyri, which is targeted to be about double the size (4000 words), I currently have somewhere near 20 characters to control. Most are very minor parts where they are simply torn apart, but fitting all this in while trying to resolve internal and external conflicts for my major character is obscuring any possible theme. I need to pare things down to a much more manageable level. The more I think about it, the more I think a short story should only contain three or four characters max.

So I'm going to rethink the plot and reduce significantly the players involved. Then before I actually write a word, I'm going to decide on a theme. Not sure if this will work, but we'll see. I was supposed to work on it last night but never got there. The advanced release of the Black Box extended review sidetracked me. Tonight is the launch and tomorrow is my day off writing.

Things seem like their backing up again. I've spent one night this week on Newland. I have only thought about Wamphyri. I haven't begun to draft the three articles I need to do for SA50s+. I haven't done the interviews I need to do for my current assignment. I still have over a dozen books waiting for me to read.

I like things to happen quickly, but this is not the way it works with writing.

Newland will take months to complete the first draft. If it's done by Christmas it will be good.

Wamphyri needs to be done by November to a publishable standard. I'm still working on getting Too Late the Rain published and that was written over a year ago.

Articles take me about a week to write, but I'll write all three of these at the same time. I just need to dedicate some time to getting them done.

Assignments I do one a week minimum.

Books take a few days each to read and review.

Prioritise and get on with it, is what I need to do, but I keep changing the priorities as need arises. Not a good habit.

This week has probably been worse than most because of the sudden requirements for the Black readings & reviews. I lost two days there. I lost another day fixing my sisters computer, while I wrote the extended Black Box review. I'll loose another block of time due to tonight's launch. So pretty much four days gone and I have a little bit done on Newland, a couple of books read and reviewed, a first draft of an assignment and a lot of thoughts on themes and changes for Wamphyri to show for it. (oh, and I finished working on the AHWA market pages) - Actually that's quite a bit of work when you look at it like that.

Maybe my writing commitments is like my short story plots--too much going on. I can see my wife nodding :)

My frustration comes from not getting enough done on the projects I really want to get done, namely Newland and Wamphyri...and my assignments of course.

I'd like to take my wife on a couple of research trips for articles I have in mind but that's new projects for new markets that takes up extra time. I know she'd enjoy the outings (as would I), but it would equate to another change in priorities - they pay good but.

My mind always seems to be looking for the next opportunity to learn more or to take advantage of what I already know. It's not always due to money either. It's just that hunger within me to become the best writer I can possibly be, to reach that ultimate goal of being a writer full time. But yet again I'm stargazing while my feet remain in the quagmire. I'm getting ahead of myself.

Tonight I need to see how Idolatry makes out. I already have another market in mind for this piece if it fails.

Next week, I will finish the due assignments at the beginning of the week (Monday-Tuesday). I'll break up the time with some reading. I'll try to post one review on HorrorScope. Returning Wednesday nights to reading nights should more than help with that. Thursday will be for Newland and Friday for Wamphyri. Sunday needs to be freelance day - time to write my articles.

I still need to fit in some critiquing time somewhere. I need that X-Lotto win!

I've rambled enough--time to move on.

I hope you're having better luck organising your time than I am.

Remember to keep your fingers crossed for me tonight.

BT

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review: Black Box - it's finally open...

Only two days ago, I said you'd have to wait until Black was released to find out what I thought of the Black Box anthology. Today I receive notice from the editor to release the extended review on HorrorScope. So I did.

Go see for yourself here.

Then go buy it here.

You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still Unbelievably Busy

Today I did a crit on a large piece of work by The Teacher (aka Amy). I'm hoping when I get the reply, we'll still be friends--it was a tough crit.

I also did the first part of my next assignment. I need to pick a topic and do some interviews before writing up summaries so I couldn't finish it tonight.

I finally finished fixing my sister's computer. It is once again as good as new. If one of my nephews gets another Trojan on it, I'll kill them or at least make them pay professional rates to get it cleaned. This thing was a tough bastard to kill.

No response back on the two reviews I sent in. I've started reading a supernatural erotica novel titled Deep Inside. It's different, but very cool. I've said it before that writers need to read - a lot and widely. If you intend to write in the darker genres then I seriously suggest you dabble in erotica at some point. Horror and dark fiction tend to lean on sex a lot. Maybe not as heavily, or as obviously as erotica but, just like in real life, you need to know the whole topic before you can be any good at any of it.

Very hard to write about the bodies response to something if you're incapable of describing a wide variety of feelings from all sorts of acts. And the good bit - erotica pays really well. I haven't written any for a while as I've moved into other areas at the moment, but I'm considering going back there at some point. I had two pieces accepted into a big anthology last year, which isn't due to be published until next year - The Mammoth Book of Erotic Confessions - at 15 pounds each story (minimum) you can't go wrong with the exchange rate between Australia and the UK.
Go on, give it a go. Calls for submissions have already gone out for another book. Have a peek--you know you want to.

Just gone midnight here so time for me to hit the sack. Good night and pleasant dreams.

Best of luck with whatever genre writing your Deep Inside of ;c)

BT

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chapter 4 Complete

The first draft of chapter 4 (which will really be chapter 7) has been completed. It's close to 25% bigger than the previous chapters so there may be a bit to cut out on the rewrite but I covered what I wanted to. I also had to shift some of the plot I'd outlined for this chapter into chapter 5 (which will become chapter 9). Looking at what I had planned, I think I can streamline a fair bit of it and include the last few bits of this chapter without it blowing out. We'll see. I do like where chapter 7 finished though and it had some good conflict in it--even managed a little humour (well I chuckled but we'll see if it stays the journey). Moving along nicely.

Finished off the last touches on the AHWA market pages today and told the President he may announce their opening to the masses (at least to the membership masses). I'm going to do a competitions page as well. As per my current little list on the sidebar, it will only be for competitions that are free to enter or a worthwhile membership makes it free.

What makes a membership worthwhile?

I'm glad you asked: value for your hard earned. When I first started looking around at trying to earn a dollar at this writing caper, I found so many "helpful" souls on the net, I was amazed I'd never decided to try this before. For a minor membership fee, I could gain access to all sorts of things to help me rake in the freelance dollars. Bloody scam the lot of them, and I got burnt by a couple real slick ones. Not a huge amount of money but I didn't appreciate being ripped off or lied to either. Now I live by the mantra that "Money flows to the writer" - apart from a lovely thought, all that cash flowing like a river of wealth into my pocket, it is the only way it should be, and it should come with a large warning label - "But you will need to work damn hard to obtain even a fraction of it" - coupled with "Don't give up your day job"!!!! :c)

Agents and publishers should pay you, but it takes a huge amount of work on your part to convince them you're worth the risk. There are plenty of competitions out there that cost nothing to enter, but read the fine print (and the guidelines), be sure you know what you're entering. Lots of big prestigious competitions are free.

Back to value for dosh: the actual membership fee shouldn't be big. You should always double check what you're getting for your buck. The good one's usually have savings (worthwhile savings) bigger than the membership fee. No point forking out $20 bucks and gaining 10% off your golf cart hire if you don't like playing golf.

It should be a proactive organisation. Nothing worse than paying money to sit around doing very little. Worse if you have to drive any activity. If it has an active membership, willing to try new things for it's members, willing to step out on a limb to organise things and then advertise to its membership about that thing coming up you are onto a good deal. It should be doing things for you. It's fine to volunteer, get involved, network, but in the end, without your aid, you should benefit from paying your money.

Membership should be growing and it should be easy for you to find out real numbers if this is true. Good word of mouth is also important but only listen to those that you trust, not those that look trustworthy. Get onto the writers forums (the free ones) and ask what others think if you're not sure. Absolute Write, Fiction Factor, Southern Horror Writers, there are heaps of them out there.

Writing is a lonely enough occupation without sitting at the keyboard and refusing to reach out. Try it. Apart from possibly finding a whole new group of friends you may never have to clean up after (you may never meet them face-to-face), you'll find outlets for other writers to give feedback on your work (a must), learn about what is coming and what has gone before. You'll learn how to improve your craft. You'll increase the amount of enjoyment you get from something you already love. Now you can't beat that.

Most of all, you'll only grow in your craft by learning from others. You need to read - alot, and widely - you need to be able to ask questions, even stupid ones. You need feedback and you need support for when those rejection slips roll in. You don't need huge amounts of any of these, except the reading bit, but you do need some of all of them. Even Stephen King was an English teacher and still uses beta readers for feedback today. Nobody does it totally without help.

But most of all, you'll only improve from practise. You take in all you can from your surroundings, what you learn from others and your reading, and you practise.

Writers write. Never a truer two words spoken. Just write. It doesn't matter if it's dribble to start with. That dribble can become a drabble very quickly. A drabble becomes a flash, flash to short to novella to novel. It's only words. If you can tell a story, you can learn the rest. Nobody is born a writer, it's a learned skill.

As my favourite King quote states: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

There are plenty of inspiring quotes and sayings out there. Find one you're happy with, which inspires you, or make up your own. Wrestle with the concept of Muse versus "men in the basement" until you like whatever concept allows you to create new ideas, and then just write. And submit the results to critique groups and then out to markets after it has been suitably sweated over and polished. Wear your rejections proudly - there are plenty of failed writers who can't submit. Push yourself, become a published author.

Good luck

BT

Monday, August 11, 2008

Reviews Done & Positive Feedback

The two reviews for the next issue of Black magazine have been done and sent off. I finished reading Voodoo Doll by Dr Leah Giarrantano only half an hour ago, sent the finished reviews less than 10 minutes ago.

If you want the early heads up on whether I thought them any good and worthwhile spending your hard earned on, then be sure to get your copy of Black Issue #2 (Hint: Go buy them!--too subtle??)

I've also received the feedback from my independent reader: he really enjoyed Too Late the Rain, Winged Shepherd, Mobile and Dark Rose - particularly liked Dark Rose.

So it's nice to gain some validation from an avid reader of a vast number of books, although I still have misgivings about Rose, but why aren't they selling? What am I missing? Am I targeting the wrong markets?

It's hard to stay positive when I see others selling their work with apparent ease. Then I found this. It's important information that all aspiring writers should keep close to their heart. My stuff may not be selling as quickly just yet but that's only because I haven't found the right market for it yet. It is good, it's just not to everyones tastes. The reaction I've had from a wide cross section of readers (some writers, some not) should have clued me in on that to start with. It takes me a while but eventually the penny drops.

So I'll keep an eye open for the right markets for my current work and keep on submitting. They'll find a home eventually.

With the reviews out of the way, I can relax my reading a little - not too much as I still have four books to review for HorrorScope and a couple that have been sitting around waiting for me to get to them but keep getting pushed back. Tomorrow night I want to look at my next assignment, and I still need to do some more writing on Newland.

My plan would be: Tuesday - Newland; Wednesday - Assignment; Thursday - Wamphyri; Friday - Double check assignment before attending festival launch party.

Obviously still plenty on and more besides. Will someone let me know when they discover the 38 hour day--I could use that.

Getting late, time for bed.

Good luck with your writing.

BT

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A New Week Begins

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I had a good weekend both personally and writing-wise. During the weekend I came into contact with a lot of thoughts and feelings I hadn't touched in a while, quite a few of them to do with the dark side, which I found somewhat invigorating when I look back on them. Nothing too twisted but more in helping me to connect with a victims thoughts and feelings - no, I didn't get mugged or anything, but I was in a situation where it was a possibility. (Sleepy old Adelaide just isn't as sleepy as I remember it.)

As expected, I managed no writing over this weekend. I did manage one review--which I intend to critique over the next few days before sending out--and I'm halfway through reading the book for my second critique which will go out at the same time. That's two down and lots to go.

It's also time for me to get back onto the assignment treadmill and get a few more out the door.

There has been no movement on TPN for over a week now. I don't want to jump to assumptions but it hasn't been quiet--it's been dead.

No rejections in my inbox over the weekend which is good, I hope. Positive comments back from Amy in regards to Too Late the Rain, although her critiquing is always on the positive side; not so much blowing sunshine up the proverbial but constructive comments aimed to improve the work, in her opinion, put in a non-sledging manner. It's appreciated.

I've got the Salisbury Festival launch this week. Friday I'll find out if it's done any good, if not, I already have another market lined up for it. Seems fate is as determined as I am to find a home for this one. Anything to prove to Mr Stone that he was wrong about this one.

Busy week ahead, need sleep.

Hope everything is going well for you.

BT

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Assignment Results

I've received gradings on my first two assignments for semester 2. An A and a B+, an excellent start with some extremely encouraging comments.

Before the semester began, I contacted administration to find out the names of the lecturers I was submitting to this time round so I didn't make the same mistakes as last time. Somehow I got it wrong again. Very annoying. I addressed the assignments to the lecturer I was told to and they still come back with the name crossed out and a new name penned in, in red ink. Very hard to look like a professional when you're given incorrect information :(

My review books also arrived today. I've already done read one as it came on a CD rather than in print. It was a very different way to read some excellent stories. You'll have to buy the next issue of Black magazine to see my thoughts on it any time soon though.

I have one other book to read and review before next week. I also have four other books to review for HorrorScope. Plenty of reading ahead.

My wife checked over Too Late the Rain and found two typos. I was mortified. I've sent this out and now I know it has two mistakes in it. Not very professional. One should have been picked up by the spell checker but wasn't because the first few words it recognises are misspelled on purpose, part of dialogue. I'm used to this so I just skipped through it, only half paying attention. The second wasn't picked up because it wasn't spelled incorrectly, it was the wrong word. Because I've read this story so many times, my brain automatically inserted what should have been there.

These are two common mistakes, very amateur mistakes, that I won't be making again. Everything now needs to go through a beta reader or crit group. Everything needs to sit for a day or two before being sent anywhere.

Looking at things with a fresh POV, or having others look at your work is invaluable. Skip this step at your peril.

Good luck with your your writing.

BT

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Done

Too Late the Rain has gone out the door to battle the forces of editorialism once more. I've lowered my sights some what, and rewritten the ending, so we'll see if it makes more of a splash.

I've released the markets page I now maintain for AHWA. It's a little different to the one I maintain as my subs list (which I am aware is missing a whole heap of links and I'll rectify when I get the chance), much more comprehensive with a lot of additional help for authors trying to find somewhere for their masterpiece. Help in the form of advice from already published authors, additional links to market resources, market news specifically for dark fiction authors, and much more.

All available only to AHWA members. I have been carrying on about readers of this blog joining this great organisation before. I know some of you already are. For an initial fee of $15AU and an ongoing annual fee of a poultry $20AU, you gain so much in return.

For example, lets say you fork out your hard earned on the initial layout of $35AU, you get:

Entrance into the AHWA annual contests for free - saving $15AU

Access to the PDF AHWA bi-annual magazine Midnight Echo - saving $9AU

Access to a dark fiction specific market database - no other similar online database exists but an average membership to some of the better online databases go for around $20AU.

Access to interactive chat sessions with leading figures in the industry - priceless

Able to network with fellow writers of your genre - not that easy to obtain.

Discounts all over the shop - I've saved close to $50 in the 6 months I've been a member

And heaps more. With what I've mentioned alone, you've saved nearly $100, paying for the measly $35 initial outlay. Next year, will probably be even better due to AHWA growing so rapidly, and the second year is only going to cost me $20AU!

Do yourself a favour - join!

Good luck with your submissions.

BT

It's Done

Too Late the Rain has a new ending. After it was returned from the AHWA contest, I cut it deep, removing a further 200 or so words from it. Now I've rewritten it and it's turned out to be nearly 400 words longer than the version I sent to the contest.

I'm not sending it to any more competitions. I want market feedback on the new version.

Tonight I'm going to scour through the flat payment markets for a proper submission path for it. I've become the victim of impatience again. I haven't waited for a response from my reader before redoing it. I couldn't. After being hit with a big idea last night, it had to be done.

I think I'll put it up on TPN this weekend. I think they like this version much better as it addresses one of their major concerns with the ending. We'll see. I've printed out a copy for my wife to read and for her to take to my new reader, but tonight I'm still researching what markets it needs to go to.

Writing this has stopped me going to the Post Office to send off my assignments. I did remember to copy my front page story to add to the package I have to send off, though. It'll go tomorrow now. No biggy.

I've had news that all of my expected reading will arrive tomorrow or Friday at the latest. Going to be a busy weekend. I'm out most of Friday and Saturday, it's my youngest daughter's birthday on Sunday so that could be full on. Then a week to read two books and do reviews (actually six days). I usually take my time and read a good size book (3-400 pages) in a week. With all my other commitments, it's taken me two or three times that. Now I have to cut it in half. Should be an interesting experience, and not much writing. We'll see.

Speak to you later.

BT

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

AHWA Transcript & The Problem With Teenagers

Firstly, the length of the transcript for the Australian Horror Writers Association's chat session with Australian Editors has been broken into two parts due to the success of the evening. It was without doubt the most successful event so far of this kind the AHWA have held. Well done to all involved. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Today I updated my resume. I'm not actively looking to leave my current employment, no where in South Australia is going to pay me the bucks I currently get, but just in case I find the dream job in a publishing house that will, I thought it best I update my CV. Bugger me if I'm not doing a lot at the moment. It wasn't until I'd written it all down that it fully dawned on me.

Currently I:

Work full time
Write columns for SA50s+
Do reviews for HorrorScope/Black and all the reading that entails
Slush reading for a publication
Working toward my Advanced Diploma for the Arts in Professional Writing
Do market research for AHWA
Research for articles and for my own writing

On top of all this I'm a husband and a father of three with everything that encompasses. Home renovations, handyman projects, time with the kids, trying to share home duties with my lovely wife, controlling a teenage son and trying to impart words of wisdom for an adult daughter, while trying to placate an eight year old.

Oh yeah, and trying to write fiction on occasion.

Tonight I went back to work on Newland. I managed to add only 200 words. I was in the middle of finding my groove, the "hole in the page" as some refer to it, when it was suddenly ripped away from me by a loud conversation taking place in the hallway outside my study door. I tried to ignore it, but it was persistent to the point I made out the gist of the conversation, and as father, I knew the answer to shut them up. I rose from my chair and imparted my wisdom which had the desired effect.

I sat back down and found I couldn't find the thread I'd been playing out before. I now have on my shopping list a "Do Not Disturb" sign and a set of headphones. I find I need to read what I've written previous to allow me to pick up the story again. I know the major points of it but I write what I see in my head and I need to build that picture piece by piece. Once it's complete, I can then continue.

However, I've found that I can only go there once in a session. There needs to be an activity or a long enough break between readings for it to work for me. Unfortunately, after only 200 words, it wasn't that long ago I'd done my read through for tonight. The thread has gone for this evening--as has the desire to remain sitting in a chair banging away at the keyboard. (And yet I still blog...)

The problem with teenagers is they have no concept of others. Their natural state of mind is "me, me, me". Now I'm not so old that I've totally forgotten that I too was once of this ilk, but I now know how frustrating my parents must have found it. So I bite my tongue more often than not and wait till quiet has again settled in my house.

If dad points out the obvious, points out what should be referred to as "common sense", no one believes me anyway. They all still think I'm spouting the fiction I write. Perhaps I should just write about it. I'm guessing the Young Adults of today would lap up "old time common sense" as the latest in YA fiction anyway. Maybe that's my ticket to the big time--simply write about common sense...

Onto more solid matters. The second Issue of SA50s+ arrived today. What I thought was going to be a small article somewhere to one side of the front page, turned out to be the whole front page. I was staggered. In issue one, I was given the whole back page. Issue two - the whole front page. I guess the only way now is down. Not really. I've already had three articles accepted for issue three so my input has increased. Things are going well in this area of my writing.

It also means I can finally send off the assignments I've been hanging onto. I'll copy my article tomorrow and include it with my already completed assignments for Mr Stone. Things can then begin moving again on my diploma. I still haven't received any grades from the three assignments I've already sent out. Still it's only Tuesday. (Three seems to be today's number--things are on the way up.)

Still no books to review yet and the deadline is fast approaching. This means when they do arrive, I'm going to have to allocate a lot of my writing time to reading to get through them.

I'm also waiting on the first batch of stories to read in my position as a slush reader. You just know they're going to all arrive at the same time. Life is far from dull.

Okay, I've noticed this post is becoming extremely long--again. Perhaps I should change the title of this blog to the ramblings of an Aussie wannabe writer.

I've not submitted my returned stories yet, waiting on the verdict from my new beta reader, but I encourage you to not wait. Get those submissions out there.

Best of luck.

BT

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mobile Didn't Place

My severely restricted Internet access at home made me miss the announcement of the AlienSkin contest where I entered Mobile. Must have been a sign.

No good - I didn't place, not even a runners up spot :(

So currently, Dark Rose, Too Late the Rain, and now Mobile have all returned from the war worse for wear. The Rose needs work. Too Late has already been reworked, Mobile I still like as it is. I'll reread it tonight though and see if that still holds true.

Then they all need to go back out into the market. I think I'll do a mini submissions list of the Aussie markets and run them through there.

Placing submissions and receiving rejections is supposed to be character building and allow writers to cultivate that hardened second skin we all supposedly need in this business.

Personally I think it sucks the big one.

Entering pieces into contests seems to be that much worse because most give back very little feedback. PARSEC is different as it provides quite detailed feedback and so I'll be entering that contest again next year. Not sure about the others I've entered this year.

AHWA short story contest is an important Aussie contest for dark fiction writers and so I'll probably always drop something in there.

AlienSkin - I think I'll only throw something that way if I have a piece sitting around rather than write something especially for it.

Salisbury Writers Festival - The launch and results aren't due for another two weeks. I'll probably still enter this one as it gives the wife and I a night out.

I think the fact that these comps have all announced their winners so close to each other has allowed the feeling of despondency to be compounded for me. Not gaining any feedback as to whether they are any good or not leaves me nowhere to go and allows self doubt to grow.

I've had an offer from a friend of my wife, someone I don't know and have never met. They have heard that I write and have offered to read my stuff and offer their opinions. This person isn't a writer as far as I know. They work a lot of night shifts and therefore tends to read a lot. I think I'll print out the three recently returned stories and allow this mystery reader to give me their thoughts. At least it'll be a new audience to gain feedback from.

Yep, it's one of those dips in the roller coaster again. I never seem to actually reach any great heights at the moment and yet I feel I'm writing better. Obviously still something missing.

I hope you're all having better luck than I am on the submission merry-go-round.

BT

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Review: Clive Barker's Books of Blood, Vol 1-3

Simply brilliant. Do I come across as spouting nothing but adulation? - Hell yes, and rightfully so.
Read my review here.

Buy the book and tell me if I'm wrong.

Productive...Kinda

Yesterday, as some of you may remember is my day off. Absolutely no writing takes place on a Saturday. Very rarely any reading either. I do handyman stuff around the house or go out with the family. Live a little bit of the normal life.

Unfortunately, today I haven't been able to pick up Clive Barker's Books of Blood as of yet. I intend to shortly though. I will finish it tonight so I can look at doing a review before my next lot of review books arrive for Black/HorrorScope.

I did get to writing some more of chapter 4 (this will actually become chapter 7 when the book is spliced together) for Newland though. It's progressing. I've tried to keep chapter length close to 2000 words at this point in time. I figure on a first draft, if I can keep it succinct, I'll have less waffle to cut later. Personally I think adding is much easier. Chapter 4 currently sits at a little over 1900 words and has only covered half of what I wanted it to. I have a bit of shadowing still to include, a funeral, a prisoner escape, and and a loose end to tie up. These bits will definitely take more than 100 or so words. So be it. If it takes another 1000 words then that's what it takes. I'll worry about it in the revision stage.

Time to go do some reading.

Speak to you later.

BT

Necrology is Dead

Just a note to let you guys know that Necrology Webzine is no more. I've removed it from my current submission path and suggest you do the same.

On their web page the following has been posted:

Greetings We are sorry, Necrology Magazine has closed. Our parent company has decided to close Necrology Magazine for undisclosed reasons. We wish to thank all our contributors for the wonderful stories and material which they submitted to us over the issues. - Editor & Staff

One less to submit to :(

Friday, August 1, 2008

AHWA Competition Winners Announced

The winners of the 2008 Flash and Short Story Competition are:

SHORT STORIES:

WINNER:
Drowning, by Alice Godwin

COMMENDATIONS:
The Lord of the Law, by David Conyers
The Dead End, by Stephen Studach
The Biting of Nails, by Steven Cavanagh

FLASH:

WINNER:
The Exchange, by Benjamin Hayes

COMMENDATIONS:
Portrait, by Crisetta MacLeod
Cold Feet, by Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti
The Salbine Incident, by Patrick O'Duffy

Apparently there were over 100 entries this year of which my "Too Late The Rain" was obviously not one of the better ones. Congratulations to all the winners and to those who made the short list.

I guess there's always next year.

Time to find a new market for "Too Late the Rain".

Invitation

Last night was interesting.

I received an invitation to the launch of the Salisbury Writers Festival 2008. At the launch, the winners of the 2008 writing competition will be announced. This is the competition to which I submitted Idolatry.

Now information is scarce, but in 2005, the site boasts of having over 200 entries to the writing comp. The comp itself is split into a number of different categories.

There's a section called the 3 Day Novel Race
Junior, Young Adult and Senior Poetry
Junior, Young Adult and Senior Short Story

Now, I believe the festival is actually growing in popularity and prominence so I imagine the competition is also attracting more competitors. I'm hoping they don't invite all entrants to the launch.

So, if all my assumptions are correct (and we all know the old saying about assuming anything), then it's quite possible I've made some sort of unpublished short list.

In the past, they've named first, second and third places for all the above mentioned categories. A total of 20+ people if one includes the occasional honourable mention. The launch party is being held at a place called The John Harvey Gallery. On investigation, the gallery has seating capacity of 80 and standing room for 150. Now the launch party also has keynote speakers and invited guest Richard Maurovic. I'm guessing there will be somewhere between the seated and standing room number of people there which will include dignitaries, invited guests, other competition entrants and general public. So the conclusion is not all the entrants would be invited.

Okay, I'm working myself into bigger and more detailed worlds of fantasy here. I have no idea why I was invited other than I submitted a story there. Maybe they didn't have many entrants and they all did get an invite. Maybe they got plenty of entrants and decided to send everyone an invite because not many accept. Maybe the short list were informed they really should attend where as the rest of us got an invite just to be polite.

Who knows.

In the end, it will be a nice night out for the wife and I. A chance to dress up and act like adults for a while. I received an email from The Teacher last night in regards to her wonderful experience with the anthology in which she won first and second prize. The launch was held at the Conflux convention and she had plenty of good advice for writers who attend such things. This launch party will be an opportunity to trial some of her suggestions (obviously on a smaller scale).

Should be fun (and probably a little nerve wracking as I continue to drift along in a world of fantasy and possibilities. But let's be honest, Idolatry was the story my lecturer first said he didn't think a lot of, didn't think I'd be able to make it work. Imagine if it actually placed or gained an honourable mention--imagine if it won. That would make for an interesting conversation next time I corresponded with him...)

Enough of my rambling fantasies.

Last night I continued to work through Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Gritty would be a great single word to use in explaining this work. Barker is a hell of a writer, with an amazing imagination and a thoroughly gifted ability in using the written form of the language but it is extremely different to what one could consider mainstream horror fiction. It is a little off centre to be considered straight dark fiction, although there are stories in the volumes that do indeed belong in both defined genres. But there is a lot more that begs for further definition, further analysis. His stories linger, disgust and yet allure. They completely turn the reader around.

They somehow how have an older world charm. They seem to capture an age of writing I thought had passed us by and yet he continually thrusts today back into the readers face with use of the language at well chosen points. And sex...it is definitely an underlying theme in the work of Clive Barker.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I have around 150 pages of this excellent book still to read, which I intend to do tonight. This should allow me to do a full review over the weekend. I should have a link for you come Monday.

Last bit of news. I considered not posting this news but this blog/journal is about my writing journey and this definitely fits into this so here it is - with self imposed censorship for obvious reasons. I've accepted a position as a slush reader for a magazine. I have no intention of telling which mag, which country or anything of that nature. The only clue I shall give is that it is listed on my submissions page.

I have decided to take this opportunity as it will allow me to gain a better understanding of the publishing industry. It will allow me to see what other writers are presenting to publications. To see what the competition is like if you will. All I will receive is the story. No authors details so I won't know who's written the piece that I'm reading. Everything will be judged on merit alone.

Don't send me stories. They'll just get deleted unread. Use my dark submissions page to send your stories to the correct markets in the correct format (always read the guidelines for each market). Who knows, maybe it'll end up in my slush pile to go through. I warn you though, I'm a hard marker ;@)

Oh, one last bit of news I almost forgot. Last night I also received confirmation of my ABN (Australian Business Number). I am now officially a business. I can now officially claim things on my next tax return. My diploma now becomes a tax write off against any future earnings. I can claim things like research travel, some books, all resource books and a whole heap of other things as I strive to become published. If you want to be thought of as a professional, you need to put everything in place to become one. If you want to write for the love of writing alone, then you need never submit and you need never worry about trying to be professional.

If you'd like to be published and possibly earn a living, then you need to be serious about it.

Strewth, I can ramble once I start (some would say continuously). I think I've said (written) enough for now.

Good luck with whichever path you choose but above all, keep on writing.

BT