Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Hard Part

As Laura revealed in her comments on the last post, I knocked back her submission into the Dark Pages Anthology. I don't expect this to put her off though - there's still a month until subs close.

I began on this antho as a slush reader only, but took on more and more reading and eventually was asked to take over and do all the reading and choosing so as to provide the anthology with some independence from the owner(s) of Blade Red Press. Don't get me wrong, Blade Red Press are more than happy to do a first sift through the submissions for me, but I'd like to see it all so I now read everything.

On taking over this role, I have been amazed and, at first, delighted, to see so many familiar names submitting.

Then I read two stories by known names in the industry which set the standard for me. I don't think we've yet sent out any acceptance emails, but I doubt I'm going to find a dozen stories better than these so they'll probably be included. The point is, that these two are the only two I've got in my probably yes file. I have a growing number in my possibles file. I keep just a few in a third level file for backups (just in case).

Thank you but no thank you notes will go out as quick as I can get them sent - please feel free to submit another piece.

But the hard bit is because I've come to know so many of those who have submitted. I don't play favourites. When I read, I skip over the name and where it's from and just read the story. I like to think I have the ability to firmly wear a simple readers hat while doing this. I overlook grammar errors and mentally substitute letters and words for the occasional typo. I've even continued to read when the formatting has been completely botched and changed halfway through the manuscript. If the story doesn't have anything to draw me in, and it doesn't need to be a lot, then I stop reading (this has happened only once so far). If I get to the end and I'm not pulling a face of wonderment or puzzlement, or smiling as if I and the author know a secret but no one else does, then the story would be very lucky to make the third level folder.

So when I read something I'm not instantly happy to place in my possible file, and then see that it's by someone I know and consider a friend, I have a twinge of regret pass through me. It is a regret that I can't place the piece in this anthology and it is a regret that I know they'll be getting a rejection email.

I'm coming to terms with this - not that I really had a choice. With the number of subs from people I know, I needed to grow an extra thick skin pretty quickly. That's one thing I've learned in this process - editors who have writer friends, need a thicker skin just being a writer alone.

The saving grace in all this is the knowledge that those writers out there I call my friends are professional in their attitude and behaviour. They are knowledgeable in how the industry works and know that there are never enough slots in an anthology for the editor to publish everything he or she would like. With all this knowledge and with every set back, every writer I know strives that little bit harder to improve their craft in order to gain an acceptance the next time out.

I know those of you who have submitted to the antho and haven't been successful, or to those of you who are intending to submit and may not gain entrance - I know you are aware that the decisions made here are nothing personal and we, the team putting this product together, all wish you the best of luck, and the speediest of time frames, in finding a home for your work.

Now, having said all that - get back to work and send me your very best work. I'm looking forward to reading it, with a smile on my face...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Announcement

And so the time has come...

As guessed by some and alluded to by others, I'm editing an anthology, but not just any anthology.

Here is the official announcement over at Blade Red Press

Yes - Dark Pages Volume 1 is to be edited by me with help from the resources of Blade Red Press and more technical input from my guru of all things, Pharo.

This is why I've had no time to write, read other people's work, read books for review, or anything else lately - I've been reading submissions--lots and lots of submissions.

The process has been quite interesting, and very eye-opening, with a little head shaking in the mix, and a lot of pleasant surprises thrown in.

Now I have a challenge for you all - submissions for the anthology close at the end of November. I know many of you are doing NaNo, but I'm looking to blow away all the other dark anthologies out there by presenting some of the very best short fiction ever to come out of an independent small press. I want the Blade Red Press Dark Pages Volumes to be on everyone's 'to buy' list every year because the first one was killer. I want future invited editors of the anthology (if I don't get invited back), to have an extremely difficult job to top Volume 1! I want it all - insert maniacal laugh here ;c)

But I can't do that without you.

What do I want, and what have I learned so far?

As announced at Blade Red Press, there has been over 150 submissions already. The vast majority have made my life difficult in choosing whether to keep them for a second reading or pass on them. I want my life made more difficult in this regard. I want more excellent submissions.

Dark Pages is about dark fiction but this is not a horror-only anthology. I'm not interested in torture porn or blood and guts for blood and guts sake. I'm not interested in traditional tropes, but feel free to send me vampires, werewolves or voodoo if you and your entire critique group believe it to be the best thing ever written. In short - read the guidelines and stick to them as if the life of your piece depended on it - because it does. Depending on the length of the final stories chosen, Dark Pages could contain between 9-15 stories. That's less than 10% of the submissions I've received so far! With a month still to go, I'm expecting the final mark to be less than 5% of overall submissions - make yours brilliant! Stray from the guidelines and you'll be cut very quickly with no further correspondence to be entered into other than a standard rejection. I know this is harsh. As a writer, I know you all deserve more. I know you all deserve at least some comment as to why I didn't accept it or at least hold onto it for a second reading. The short answer is time and resources - we have bugger all of either. Many that don't make the cut are good enough to be published, but don't make it here because there are so many here that are outstanding - send me only your very best.

Okay - enough of the tough talk. Blade Red is paying well for the honour of using your work in this first anthology. Go check out the market pages like Duotrope or Ralan - not many antho's come out offering $25 and a copy as payment. Competition will be tough and will only get tougher as the deadline approaches. I have set my sights high on this, and expect to create a quality anthology with exceptional content as the end product.


To this point (he says with over 50 unread subs waiting for him), I have not seen enough dark fantasy or sci-fi submissions. Dark urban, western, war, yellow school buses or other not so obvious settings. Shorter is better. I will take two excellent short pieces over one excellent long piece (probably). Female authors - I don't have enough subs from the women of disturbia - in the end, gender will not decide if you get in, only the quality of the work will, but I'd like the opportunity to be able to include a wide selection of authors so please submit.

Finally - this is not an Australian anthology. There is not a set number of spots for any nationality. If I end up accepting stories from a dozen different countries and Australia isn't part of that, I'll be disappointed, but so be it.

Now - get writing, edit it to within an inch of its life, gain external feedback, check the guidelines, polish and submit! (not to me - send them here)

I'm counting on you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Coming

The announcement that is...very soon. Within a day or two...or three...well, hopefully sometime this week.

That is all


Monday, October 26, 2009


I've been a little 'in dispose' over the last day and a bit. While it's true I don't normally blog on the weekend, this past weekend has made it almost impossible.

I played cricket on Saturday and batted for an extended length of time. My body is now paying the price for what my head thought it could do. A sharp reminder that I'm on the wrong side of forty to be attempting such things.

Still, it's been a while since I've made some decent runs so, although painful, it has been enjoyable.

For anyone interested: I play for ATCO CC and you can follow our exploits over at (skip past the ad to find the site). To see where the teams are in the greater scheme of things, you can check out the association website.

On the writing side of things - an announcement is imminent...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yellow Mama

If you haven't read it yet - do so now.

Among all the gooey goodness, you will find stories from a few people you know:

Natalie L. Sin
Scott Wilson
Cindy Rosmus (of course)
L. R. Bonehill
& Me!

Out of 16 stories I know over 25% of the accepted submitters! Is it a small world or do writers of similar ilk, and at a similar mile-marker on that journey of discovery through the craft (how purple is that!), just seem to drift into each others company?

But apart from you knowing a quarter of the ToC, you should read this issue (and every issue) because it's just chock full of stories which will make you think. They may also make you keep the light on at night but whatever floats your boat! ;c)

In other news - I found an hour or so to myself yesterday and had an idea for a new story. The beginning is outlined and some research has already been done so that the logic works - it's a ghost story but I still like it to be as believable as possible. I'm sitting on the middle at the moment, letting some things ferment before deciding in which direction to go - and I have no ending at the moment. I need some sort of direction so I can shape the middle. Hopefully it comes but if not, the half baked idea has been entered into my ideas file along with the outline, the research and some websites of interest.

Some slush reading for Aurealis has arrived so I've got more of that to do as well.

Lastly, I'd like to write some flash fiction. Everything I think about and work on at the moment is long. I've written two pieces in the last six months or so that are 1000 words or less. I'd like to do a little more so I may just start turning my hand to the CafeDoom weekly challenge and see if I can hit on something I like. It's not like I have anything else on....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Feeling Alone

In my writing that is - I haven't busted with my lovely wife or anything so don't worry about that.

Over the past couple of years, I've been honoured and privileged to gather around me a fairly large group of writers who are now steadfast cyber-friends. When I've hit the writer's block wall - you have been there. You have celebrated my successes and offered consolation at my defeats. Always there has been encouraging words.

Now I'm working on a secret project and haven't been able to to discuss the process with any of you, and I don't feel right about it.

From the very beginning I've written honestly about the writing journey I've been on, more in the hope of dispelling the mysteries and uncovering the pitfalls for those who come after, but with the added benefit of finding like-minded individuals who have empathy for what I'm going through. The whole process has left me feeling warm and fuzzy because of your input into my writing life.

Now some of those friends have presented work for critiquing and comment which I've been unable to provide. Keeping the AHWA market database up to date has been an ever increasingly difficult task as my free time dwindles to almost nothing - I've had to withdraw from this now summer has come and my writing time is seriously squeezed. My reading for HorrorScope has come to a screaming halt. My reading for pleasure is non-existent. My providing interesting writing tips, facts and other things to help new and emerging writers has dried up.

If I could share what I'm doing, allow you all in on the process and, hopefully, allow you to learn what I'm now learning, I wouldn't mind (quite so much) how everything else has ground to a halt (I knew all this would happen when going into this project so I'm fine with it and I know it's only short term). But I'm worried about alienating some of you I have been blessed to call my friend. When the announcement does finally come, as it inevitably must, then this, and other concerns won't disappear, so I'm considering just releasing the proverbial cat from the bag on early parole. Kind of like ripping off the band-aid and allowing any pain to dissipate early - well, that's the theory...

This blog has become very much my writing journal as well as a way to disseminate writing knowledge, tips and other authorial goodness from one who is learning as they go. This post is no different. It is me, thinking while I type, or rather, typing what I'm thinking; allowing it to settle straight in my head before I shoot off at the mouth.

I've put the question to a significant other involved in this secret project and wait to hear what they think before announcing anything further - if anything at all at this time.

There are also very selfish reasons behind me wanting to spill the beans, most of which I can't divulge here without giving too much away. Besides, I'm not very good at keeping secrets like this. I'm the type of guy who thinks that it will all be announced at some point so why not just do it now?

So please bear with me a little longer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still Here

I did say I'd be quieter, but I've been really quiet - sorry about that.

Writing - zero
Reading - some of the latest edition of Yellow Mama but nothing else either online or in book form. When I logged in today, I had over 130 new items in my google reader!
Cricket - we won the first game of the season! Woot.
Secret project - didn't look at it over the weekend.
Day job - busy.

I apologise for my absence. My congratulations to Nat, Aaron, L.R, Laura, Cate, Barry, Jason, Mercedes and everyone else I'm sure to have forgotten on their recent publications. Keep going D, the edits will be worth it and Butterflies will be wonderful (hope you've recovered from your fall). KC, I'm in awe at how fast Bell-Men has come together. Katey, enjoy your music, family and life - the writing will come back when it's ready. Alan (1), enjoy your time going into the wild. Alan (2), everyone needs a Renaissance Man; I'm glad you found one (and remember that writing is all about persistence).

That's it from me for now. Call this a heart beat post, just so you know I still have one.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dark Rose

Thanks to the sharp eye of Natalie Sin, who saw and read my story before I knew it had been published (yes, I'm that much of an airhead), I'm pleased to announce everyone can now read Dark Rose over at Yellow Mama.

This was written back in early March 2008, and has been through about nine different versions. With the help of The Prose Nest critique group (and Pharo in particular) over at Authors by Design it grew and slowly took the shape you pretty much now see over at Yellow Mama. It had been rejected three times before it found its home.

I gotta say, I love the picture Cindy assigned to it. Jeff Karnick kicks ass!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nothing New To Report

I know you would all like to know what's going on around here but as far as what I'm doing writing-wise, nothing new. I'm still up to my neck in my secret project and quite enjoying it.

The day job is flat out at the moment as my major projects there are all ramping up. Lots of documentation to be created so any time I have during the day is all being sapped by technical writing - which is nowhere near as much fun.

Haven't read (for fun or review) a great deal lately either.

I was given a prompt for a flash piece the other day and began writing on one of those instant ideas we sometimes have. I got through about 200 words, got sidetracked (again) and when I came back to it I'd already lost the spark of inspiration for it. I am firmly set in 'can't say' mode for the time being as I work on 'can't say that either'.

What I will say is that I'm learning a lot. I'm learning about what other writers think, how they write, story structure, what types of ideas work, what types of execution doesn't and lots of other things besides. There, that's a huge clue, but I shall not be confirming or denying any guesses. I promise I'll document the whole thing when I come clean (in about 6-7 weeks - maybe sooner if the need arises...).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Excuse Me While I Talk With My Mouth Full

No Nat...

The blindfold is in place, my hands are now tied and I've taken a great leap into the unknown.

No Nat...

My secret project is full steam ahead but will remain secret for the time being for reasons that will become obvious once it's all revealed. I'm just hoping I haven't bitten off more than I can chew (you knew I'd work the title of the blog post in somewhere...didn't you?)

I may be a little quiet in the mean time as what spare moments I do have are booked up twice over. This leaves my self-created writing bible on the back burner and edits for IV may start closer to December, but it's all good. Once this project is done, I'll be so revved up to dive back into IV it can only be beneficial!

I'll still be haunting blogs/journals/etc and making the occasional post here, but I think there won't be a huge amount to report. I could tell you what's going on, but wouldn't be so much fun ;c) (In a number of different ways - No Nat...)


It's 3:00AM here and sleep still seems a long way away.

Still, I've managed to catch up on all my email and Google Reader reading. I've visted and commented on a bunch of blogs and watched this:

Super cool!

Lastly, Apex has posted a press release for the upcoming The Blackness Within anthology. First thing I've ever been involved with that's had a press release. I'm not even named and I feel all warm and fuzzy (or that could be the lack of sleep and the fact I've not put pants on again...)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lots Happening

I've got so many fingers in so many pies that you just knew now is when my laptop would start playing up...

So, first things first, I need to fix my laptop and while I'm at it, I'll probably have to fix my sister-in-laws laptop which has been kicking around here for a few weeks waiting to be looked at. I work with computers for a living so I hate having to fix them at home. I guess it's like the mechanic who has a car that always breaks down - we all try to leave work at work.

After that, I have a new secret project in the works. The final details aren't worked out so I'm not saying alot just yet, but it could be the start of a new direction for me, or at least a new string to the writing bow which will be nice - stay tuned.

For anyone interested in my non-writing activities:

Cricket season started yesterday. As well as being involved with the committee, I'm also captain of our B Grade team (getting too old to keep playing A Grade - I'll leave that to the younger lads). I won the toss and batted. We were eventually bowled out for 208. I was happy enough to be part of an 87 run partnership in the middle order which built the foundation for our more than competitive total, but mainly I was stoked with how the boys all batted in partnerships and allowed the score to grow. Then, with 15 overs left to bowl in the day's play, we hit the opposition hard and have them 4/33 at stumps on day one. A couple of quick wickets first up next Saturday and we'll be pushing for a big points in the first game. This is doubly satisfying as nearly half of the players who would be considered automatic picks for the team are unavailable for this game. Due to the excellent performance, it's highly possible those automatic picks will be starting their season in the C Grade.

Time for me to get to work fixing computers (groan). Speak soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009


As promised, at least to myself and mentioned on this blog, I was going to go back after finishing the first draft of IV to compile all the bits and pieces I've learned over the past couple of years into my own form of writing bible.

I was reading some pointers on how to set your premise and had to relate it back to my manuscript. I now have a new bit to write in the first chapter - which will extend that out nicely, introduce the antagonist earlier and allow a 'penny dropping' moment for the reader later on - cool!

The point I was reading pretty much boils down to introducing the bad guy to your reader as early as possible, even if it's only a quick walk-on/walk-off type of thing. When s/he comes back later the reader will sit up and go 'hang on, wasn't that so-and-so from earlier!' and probably something like 'I knew there was something fishy about that one' - and they will feel smug and happy - and then they will realise that the writer allowed them to achieve that - and then they will be in awe as the penny drops - maawahh (cough, cough, splutter, splutter), sorry. Back in control now.

This morning I've been playing around with loglines as prompted by Alex (again - you really should read her blog). This seems like a fairly natural continuation of the premise stuff I was reading yesterday so I gave it a go.

A resourceful teenager with a knack for electronics and chemistry tries to foil a case of industrial espionage instigated by his dad’s professional rival, win the girl and complete a difficult school assignment – it’s going to be a busy weekend.

Using the breakdown headings supplied by Alex it looks something like this:

Who’s the story about: A resourceful teenager. Nathan Steele is a 15yo boy from a fairly well off family (not rich, but doing ok) who loves playing with electronics and has a natural flair for chemistry. He is much more comfortable soldering capacitors than talking with girls.

Setting: Not so clear. Not sure how to depict this within this sentence. The setting is a local suburb, but it could be anywhere in the world. The scenes switch between his home, school, a motel, his dad's work, and the protagonist's condo (pretty much). Everything happens within a couple of hours drive of each other. As this isn't specfic, maybe the setting isn't as important?? Not sure. What do you think?

Who’s the antagonist: His dad’s rival. I had to mention professional rival because this guy isn't trying to steal the wife, or the family or anything else. He's after a powerful computer program module.

What’s the conflict: Internal and external. He has the very real threat to his safety from criminals who get more desperate as things progress. He also has the complications of first love to deal with, normal growing up insecurities, tension between his parents, saving for a car, being dominated by other social outcasts at school, and a difficult homework assignment with a tight deadline. Lots of conflict :c)

What are the stakes: his dad’s career, physical (life and death for him and those he cares for), emotional (will his heart get broken/will he get to first base), his school grades (will he get the assignment done to maintain his grades).

Genre: YA thriller/action.

I'm not sure about it though. I had to add in the 'Instigated by his dad's professional rival' to be able to answer the antagonist question but I think it throws off the flow of the sentence too much.
Well, there you have it. What do you think? Would you consider reading it, or getting it for your favourite young male relative?

Thursday, October 8, 2009


It's been a while and I've read some really good stuff around the place recently.

Great advice from the Query Tracker blog.

October Issue of Apex Mag is out for some good reading.

Alex has some good advice and prods us to look closer at our dreams - definitely something I need to do. (I've had two really good stories disappear on me in the last ten days)

I talked about lists recently - well now read this, and then this (Or just subscribe and read all of Alex's posts). This should give everyone a good idea on how to go about list creation and some ideas for their own.

There is justification for all writers over at Kate's blog. In a convoluted path, you will end up over at Dani Shapiro's corner of the cyberverse where we find it's good for a writer to do nothing! (occasionally).

KC lets us know everything we ever needed to know about deers - and a lot that you wish you didn't. This is just good fun and while you're considering the benefits of doing nothing, you may as well surf other writer's sites...

Aaron was kind enough to let us know that Necrography has gone the way of the Dodo :c( Make sure you read all the comments as well - and put your hand in your pocket occasionally.

And in an effort to wrap this salad up with something ultra useful and uber helpful to all writers, I present one of the best posts I've read in a long time from Ms Mercedes (love that name) M Yardley. If you intend to pitch, verbally, to anyone - you need to read this.

Congratulations to everyone who gained an acceptance recently - I know there are a few of you but this post is long enough.

Hope you find something useful.


Hi all - no I've not been sick this time. We had a long weekend over here and some other things cropped up which have taken away lots of my time.

I've been voted on as chairman of my local cricket club and have a few irons in different fires in regards to sorting some issues out. Waiting on responses from others has been a painful and disappointing waste of time this weekend. And now I'm awaiting the outcome of an appeal which is proving to be just as painful, but hopefully not as disappointing.

On top of that, the season itself begins this coming weekend so we had an internal trial game on the Saturday just gone, which was pretty well attended and I think most of the players had fun - even if only a few actually got any real benefit from it. Any chance to play some cricket can only be a good thing before we are thrust into real competition.

And finally, I managed to fix our spare DS which meant I'm back to hunting lots of Pokemon - yes, I'm addicted. Yes, it's very sad.

I successfully finished my week long course, got the certificate, and confirmed I was on the right track with my planning for the future which is always nice. Now I have some planning and testing weeks ahead of me and then some building and implementation weeks. This will result in very little time for writing during the day. With cricket season now on, that wipes out two weekday afternoons/evenings and Saturdays. Sundays are for chores and recovery. Not a lot left. I'll find time somewhere to write but there won' be a lot of it.

Some good news!

Behold the awesomeness that is the cover for The Blackness Within anthology from Apex

And the wonderful people I get to share the ToC with are:
(In alphabetical order as listed here)

For They Are As Beasts by Camille Alexa
Abattoir Blues by Geoffrey W. Cole
Chain of Hearts by Eric Gregory
The Free Poor by Mark Grundy
Bad Meat by Michael Keyton
Dance of the Psychopomps by Joshua McCune
The Messiah of Mincemeat by S. Clayton Rhodes
Without Mercy by Lucas Pederson
Daughter of God by Maxwell Peterson
Secrets of Fatima by Steven L. Shrewsbury
Dreaming by Brenton Tomlinson
Song-Ji and the Wolf by Paul Williams
Big Game by Conrad Zero

I started trying to find websites for each author but many either have only a Facebook/MySpace presence, completely outdated blogs, or nothing at all. If I'm wrong and you do have a site you'd like me to link to - send me an email. Still, it's an interesting collection of unknown authors thrown in with a few who have a fair amount of stuff out in the marketplace - even a novel or two! After working with Gill Ainsworth (editor), I'm sure it will be mind-blowingly awesome in its togetherness.

So that's it from me. All I've got on at the moment is reading and I need to get back to it. Still working on my lists and still have every intention of doing my own rules bible, but slowly. I think while everyone else is doing NaNoWriMo this year I'll be editing Inner Voice but that's okay as well.

Friday, October 2, 2009


32,577 words. The first draft of Inner Voice is done!

The last thousand words or so turned out to be only 668 needed words and an additional 120 or so words to the preceeding chapter. A lot of angst over bugger all in the end - ah, doesn't that sound nice? I think I'll say it again...The End!

I'd present the bean about now but he's already pissed off to the pub without me and taken my car so I'll guess I'll have to stay home and do the dance:

Not this one (Evan Almighty) (no embedding for this one)

This one:

Not Impressed

As some of you may know, I keep a little side site where static information about my writing is kept. Things like my progress when I was working through the Advanced Diploma, my bibliography, current work in progress - that type of thing.

Not many people went there, but it was a little place I kept things of interest to me and occasionally others. It was a free site plagued by ads. Well, it seems the hosts have migrated over to a new tool for people to create and edit their sites with. I knew it was coming was not keen to move. Now I know why.

Today I finally clicked on the migrate site option (I needed to update my bibliography anyway) and it totally screwed up everything!

I'm not going to fix it. It's time to find a solution to my issues which will allow me to host the information I want (writing tips, bibliography, WIP, etc) and possibly/probably my blog posts, without looking overly crowded or with it being too difficult to master.

Don't get me wrong, I work with computers everyday. Many may laughingly call me an IT professional, but I'm not interested in the field. It pays the bills - that's it. I am seriously not interested in learning new languages, manipulating HTML, or coding complex algorithms to present a website. It's one of the reasons I use blogger - it's point and click, dead easy, leaving the little amount of grey matter I have left to think on other things.

I may also bite the bullet and register a domain name to tie it all together.

So consider this session of the people's court open. I need to hear arguments for the platforms out there, both the good and bad side. Take nothing as granted. What you consider an easy interface may be as good as something written in Klingon for me. Explain to me why I should be looking at LJ, or Facebook, or WordPress, or some thing else. Tell me where help can be found. Tell me why you don't use the other platforms.

Help me to help me and you. A lot of what I put up on these pages is for the benefit of other writers just so they know they're not alone and others have made the same mis-steps before them, but I need somewhere I can blog and keep all the static information together.

Any and all suggestions, advice and help is appreciated. If someone wants to offer web help for advertising space or is willing to provide web services for a reasonable fee I'll also be willing to listen.

Please be seated. You may call your first witness...

Target Hit Patch Out

Earlier this year I named Necrotic Tissue and The New Bedlam Project as the two main markets I would be aiming at this year. I've not managed to crack NT...yet, but I'm happy to announce I've secured a spot in the town of New Bedlam - the lead off story no less!

Go take a look and let me know what you think.