My alarm is set to go off at 6:00am. It is currently 4:23 as I begin to write this. I can't see the point in going back to bed for an hour and a half when I still won't be able to sleep.
My brain won't shut down and neither will the pain in my back.
I've gone and read a bunch of blogs, and will soon go back to reading some more. I can't concentrate enough to work on any of my writing or to read anything of length.
So far, I've found a number of interesting posts you should go look at. I've also finally opened an email I began sometime last week and finally sent home the other day, with all sorts of links. So I'll throw the still relevant of those up as well.
This one over at Query Tracker defining genres and how you should define your book is excellent, and there is more to come. It also has an excellent link over to a discussion on the 'Literary' genre at Nathan Bradsford - and we like Nathan's opinions on anything - including a discussion about concepts.
This one over at Straight from hel on book-royalty statements is one to keep for future reference but is interesting to see what actually takes place when an author goes through the process.
If none of you believed my spouting wonderful things about Alexandra Sokoloff's book The Harrowing, then you could always read another independent review of it over at Hellnotes. It's a good review, and nicely written. One day, I to will write reviews as good as this. And just for the hell of it - here's a video I found with an interview Alex did.
Quite a few of the regular agents I monitor went to the London Book Fair. This post over at Pubrants had some interesting stuff in it, with this little snippet catching my eye in particular:
In Asian territories, literary/commercial historical fiction doesn’t work at all. The editors won’t even look at it. However, UK and European editors say bring it on--they'd love to look.
I'm thinking AKL could work in a UK market, being about when the Brit's first arrived over here, so maybe I should add UK agents to my list.
A Fulton Prize winning short story which is a good read, by Sean Ferrell who has also just gained his first novel contract with HarperCollins no less. I've already added this guy to must read list of modern-authors-with-a-new-book-deal. I told you about that one - yes.
Not long back I discussed my process in creating wonderful works of art for people to read. Julie Weathers discusses her way of doing things which I thought a timely addition to the earlier discussion. I loved this bit:
Most often, we fall somewhere in the middle and a well-written book makes its own luck. Part of that "luck" process is a whole lot of hard work in the background. Writing, editing, revising, revising more, smoothing, beta reading, revising more and then smoothing one last time before we send it out into the cruel world.
And this bit should be made into a bumper sticker
“Unique for unique only makes a freak, not a fully functioning darling.”
To add some food for thought on the whole future of publishing debate - Check this post out over at Michael Hyatt's blog about Microsoft's current research projects. Print may very well become hugely expensive and only kept in museums - not libraries.
And here we get another angle on the bane of us all, rejection, from published author Alan Baxter.
Done! And it's now 5:16am - definitely not going back to bed for 45 minutes. It's going to be a long day.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
My alarm is set to go off at 6:00am. It is currently 4:23 as I begin to write this. I can't see the point in going back to bed for an hour and a half when I still won't be able to sleep.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
If one was to take a reasonably well looked after human being, stuff them into a dryer, add three bricks (we don't want to over work the motor and we need to keep the noise down to a dull roar), and instigate a fast spin cycle, but allow only freezing cold air to circulate, then you'd be close to how I feel.
Being a pin cushion for a medical type person is no fun at all strangely enough. Having those pins driven all the way into the joints between the bone (where hidden reservoirs of pain lie in wait) puts any possible fun firmly into another reality.
Before the procedure was undertaken, I was warned that the process normally stirred things up a little for the first few days. No bloody kidding!
Still, it is now done and eventually the pain will ebb (hopefully). Strangely I went into this with thoughts of remembering detail so I could use the experience at some point in my writing. Now I can't seem to recall anything except the surprising amount of pain a long thin piece of metal can do to a person.
Tonight, I'll be reclining in the boudoir (of the husband and wife variety), possibly reading, possibly taking pharmaceutical drugs.
For those of you interested - and if you're a writer and either have a beef with what is currently out there, or would like to have a say in what you use next, head on over to David Such's blog to check out his new application FlashWRITER.
This could be big. I love the idea of setting up templates for each market you send off to. With a quick check of the guidelines to see if anything has changed, and bang - you're ready to go.
Go have a look.
Well done, Dave.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
It's done. On the side bar, just under the picture of whatever book I'm reading, you'll find a link to my review scale as hosted on my website. It has its own page and lists off all the novels and anthologies I've read since I started this review capper.
I've also broken down all the marks so you can see where everything sits in relation to each other. My scale of a simple 0-6 is now offset by varying degress because books I really liked and marked as a 4, were liked to different degrees and for different reasons, and so they needed to be slightly differentiated. Go see - I think it's pretty straight forward to figure out.
If you have a dispute or comments or suggestions - please feel free.
Dave - the stats are done by the counter located on the sidebar. Click on it and set one up for yourself. It's dead easy and boosts the ego.
As for advertising, not going to happen really. I have one ad, way down at the bottom of the blog where nobody ever visits and I'm thinking of scraping that. I have this blog for a number of reasons and none of them have to do with making money.
No - I don't have an issue with people putting ads on their blogs or websites.
No - I don't have an issue with making money, or anybody else making monet through the ads.
When I first started this blog, I had ads on it. Nobody came here so I never sold anything, but it didn't feel right to me anyway. I've played around with freelancing, or with what lots of other people call freelancing, and it's not for me. My type of freelancing is to write articles and be paid for them. I'm happy to get paid for whatever work I do, but gaining money for sticking an ad on my blog, passive freelancing, doesn't sit well with me.
When I gain publication of a novel, I'll have a website where people will be able to buy my book. I'll stick amazon widgets on this blog and gain money from that. I'm happy to that because I'm selling my own stuff. If I gain publication in a print anthology, I'll whack up a widget for that book as well, but not for any other.
I'm happy to provide links to stuff I think is worthwhile - for free.
I'm happy to raise extra revenue for my work.
I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with passive selling of other people's stuff.
It's not what I'm here for and it's not what I'm about. Yes, I want to be a professional writer and live off the money I make for writing. Yes, many people say I need to diversify my income streams, and should include passive income such as ads, but I can't - I won't.
So my promise to all of you is you won't see additional ads popping up on this blog until I start selling my own stuff, but when I do start selling my own work, I expect you all to buy it - makes a great stocking filler or present for Mother's Day...
Monday, April 27, 2009
I'm just about to send out my AHWA competition entries and then go veg on the bed or do some reading - it looks like it's going to be a slow week. insert shrug here
Thought, I'd just share these numbers with you because they blew me away...
I'm still amazed this many people would come to read my ramblings. Thank you - everyone, commenter's and lurkers alike.
And on that note: a big welcome to the Musings Cult to Suzette Saxton. I'll be around soon to keep an eye on you ;c)
This post is inspired by this post over at Rachelle Gardner's blog.
Lately I've been more proactive in making contact with recently published authors in an effort to gain new books for me to review on HorrorScope and here. In talking with one such author it has become apparent I need to do separate posts for each review (including separate posts on this blog with the links in, to make them easier to find), and a separate post for my review scale (this might be moved to my website and a link placed here on the blog. This will make it easier for me to maintain.)
My latest review, of Alexandra Sokoloff's The Harrowing, is posted here on HorrorScope. You'll also find recent reviews for Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon and Envy the Night by Micheal Kortya. Of course these, and all my other reviews can be accessed from my review page.
But enough about me. The reviews highlighted by Rachelle show how appalling many reviewers can be, so I thought it might be time to revisit what a reviewer should be trying to achieve.
Any reviewer needs to remember that their number one responsibility is to be honest without being hurtful. You are providing a review, you are not a critic - and this is not a critique. The easy way to remember is a critic is an arsehole who likes to be critical, nobody wants that label so don't do it. A critique is where constructive feedback is provided to a writer.
You are running interference on the reader's behalf. It matters nought if you know the writer. If you are not able to give an honest opinion of someones work for fear of upsetting them, then decline to do a review. Amazingly, I've done, what I've considered, harsh reviews in the past and authors have only picked out the good bits and ignored the rest. Fair, honest, and thorough are common descriptions of my reviews. I couldn't care less if the words, excellent, good, crap, or terrible are associated with them, as long as honest makes the list.
Being a writer help, I think. No book, regardless of how badly written or put together I believe it to be, should be resoundingly ripped apart in a review. A writer somewhere out there has invested countless hours in its creation. Editors have done their bit, and then publishers, etc, etc. It takes a lot of people to get a book onto the shelves and therefore, if it doesn't appeal to you as a reviewer, that doesn't mean it won't appeal to others. Yes, you are to give your opinion, but you should also have a broad an open mind. I've read a few books which I haven't liked very much. Anything which gained a 2 or less on my scale would fall into this category, and yet, I try to be honest and open minded in my view. I tell those who read my review what the good points of the book are, and I tell them what the bad points are - and why I think it has bad points. You must provide reasons, not just slander the book because you can.
If the book is considered in most circles as a classic, like the examples in Rachelle's post, then try to understand why, do some research before you make a fool of yourself. If you do the research you will be able to make comment on why others thought it was good, and then mount your counter arguments as I did here with The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. You'll note I mentioned a longer review to come - well it never did. But you'll also note, I mention lots of good points about the book, and quantify what I considered the bad points.
In the end, a reviewer must remember a couple of points. Your first responsibility is to the reader, not the author, but in doing so, you must be honest in your appraisal and not just scathing of the author's work (or overly profuse in your praise for that matter). Have tact, learn diplomacy, and find good and bad points with the work, and report accordingly - particularly if you didn't like the work (there is always something good to say about something, even if it's just a nice cover.) Balance and honesty need to be the words to live by.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Strange day today. I stayed up way too late last night/early hours of this morning watching Manchester United in the EPL - a stunning 5-2 win for those who don't watch soccer/football, to keep their title hopes alive. For anyone out there who does watch the EPL and is shaking their head at another Utd supporter jumping on the bandwagon - be assured, I've followed the team since 1973. A Johnny-come-lately I definitely am not.
Anyway - I stayed up late and then slept away the morning resulting in me accomplishing nothing. My Australian Rules Football team, the Adelaide Crows, played this afternoon so I watched them just hold off Melbourne for a win (not a good game to watch, but a win's a win). So I got nothing done this afternoon either.
Finally I sat down at the computer and passed some comments on a friend's flash contest piece for a time constrained competition. I then updated the website (well over due), and began reading Aurealis.
I got the website done, and a little over halfway through Aurealis when the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix started. Shock, horror, Ferrari managed to score some points this week. They're still a long way from where they should be, but at least we've broken the duck. Onto Europe.
So - I haven't sent in my two AHWA contest entries, found something to use as a six page script, or finished reading Aurealis - smack my wrist.
Tomorrow I have a lot of reading to do at work - for work! I start a big upgrade project tomorrow so my writing time there will be pretty much nada. :c(
So not a lot of success to report today, at least not on the personal writing front. But then, no rejections in my inbox either...touch wood.
Writing time, after work, will become more precious for the next few weeks so I need to attain my goals. Tomorrow night I must finish Aurealis, I must submit my contest entries, and I must find something for my six page script. If I can get them done, then I can look at doing some more on AKL, and on my Christmas antho piece, which is close to completion and still doesn't have a title.
Lots to do as always.
How guilty do you feel when you don't reach a days writing goals? What do you do to celebrate if you do reach them?
Saturday, April 25, 2009
So he announced he would redo the list when the new page rankings came out. He requested everyone who had issues with the first list (and anyone else who wanted to), to send in all their nominations.
Apparently, he received a lot of suggestions. Lots of new sites were registered with Technorati and the other places where Jonathan collects his numbers from to compile his list. To me, it seemed some people were a little desperate to get on this list.
Me - I did nothing. I was stoked to be included on the first list at #23. If the big influx of interest caused me to drop off - so be it. I'm not in this for acclaim.
So the new list comes out and I've somehow manged to move up two spots on the list by doing nothing different. I haven't even found the time yet to check out, and possibly interact with, all of the other 49 people on the list. Some I already do, but not because of this list. I really must make the time to set this right one day.
So - it's a nice little boost to my ego. Thank you Jonathan.
Friday, April 24, 2009
'God's Piscatorial Church' is the title of my AHWA Flash Fiction Competition entry. I fought against this title for the best part of a week, but nothing else fits as well as this, so this is what it shall forever be known as.
It was inspired by the wall in this picture by Victoria Frances:
This is my current desktop wallpaper at work - yeah, everyone there pretty much knows I'm not normal.
If you haven't checked out Victoria's work, do yourself a favour. Simply brilliant.
As for the story, I am quite happy with how it's turned out.
To be on the safe side, I'm going to let it sit for a day or so and then read it again before I decide to send it in.
So today has been a good day. I even remembered to post off the completed assignment. Over the weekend I'll finish off Digging Up The Past and send that off, and hopefully find something I can use for the six page script I need to submit pretty soon. I also want to finish reading the current issue of Aurealis so I can move onto a novel. Oh, I also need to update the website which is woefully out of date.
If I can get all this done, or at least everything up to finding a six page script, by Sunday night, I'll be a happy camper.
Have a great weekend.
Aaron, you had a big hand in this - if it doesn't work, I'm going to come find you, but if it comes together as it seems to be in my head - I'm going to come and find you...and kiss you.
Last week I edited a YA manuscript. Only recently I also commented to friend that I couldn't write YA - it just didn't come out right. (I'm the guy who sat down to write a unicorn story for my daughter and ended up killing most of them with Chimeras', by ripping out their horns and severing their heads. I ended up writing her a little poem about unicorns in the snow instead.)
Then I wrote a flash fiction piece I intend to sub to the AHWA flash fiction contest. It is an adult thinking back over his life as a kid which leads to a big final scene. But all the things a kid experiences and has to put up with came flooding back to me. A huge majority of this flash piece could be looked at as YA - although it's not in the end. (At least I don't kill any unicorns in this one)
Last Wednesday, Aaron blogged about romance writing. I made a silly comment which I'll include here in the spirit of full disclosure:
I'm toying with the idea of writing a good dark romance. It's kind of like toying with the idea of writing a porn film with a story. A noble thought, but maybe impossible to actually achieve.
Still, good writing should always win in the end, so if I take the major plot points in all these formula romances and add a dark twist, with a real story, then shouldn't that stand out from the herd and sell?
If nothing else, it would give me something to use my erotic writing skills for...
Then this new paranormal romance anthology was opened for submissions, with initial notification coming out through the Southern Horror Writers Yahoo Group. According to JT, it was a sign.
Then last night I saw an ad for a new TV series which was so close to my original idea it was scary. Saving Grace (I've provided the link here but I'm not reading any of it. I don't want to be subconsciously influenced). I've never seen this before, but the core premise was so similar I almost went searching for a noose. Needless to say, until I've got this outline rock solid, I won't be watching the series.
But, on closer introspection, there are differences - big differences. My story is YA, Grace is most definitely not. Mine has a romance, Grace has sex (from what I've seen on the ad). My main character is male - Grace isn't, my MC is dead, but not in a zombie way, and not in a in-need-of-redemption way, but in a way I'm yet to pin down, but I'm working on that-kind-of-way. (I know, big part of the premise, but it's still coming to me, and even if I did have it, I don't want to give it away here.)
I'm also not sure if I can condense it down to 8500 words for Scary Kisses. I can see a YA series here, clear as day. I'm thinking any story for the anthology would have to be a later-down-the-track-type-of-thing, a single incident in an ongoing history of this character.
I've already outlined the first book. I'm already seeing places to add in foreshadowing, humour, romance, clues. I've already started to shape minor characters to help build the bigger picture. The story, and the characters, don't even have names yet! Honestly, I have committed a 553 word/ 3 page outline to file. :c)
The kick off for book two has already been included.
No - I'm not abandoning AKL - God no! This is my project on the side. This little YA series will be what I play around with when I hit a hurdle in the creative-juices-flowing-type circumstances. I will do backgrounds and profiles on all the characters, the world they live in, the situation, possible scenarios in the future. I will story book the whole thing. It is set in my home state, to begin with, so I'll be doing little research trips.
Cate has TPA with wonderful quirky characters she has revisited over and over again. This will be mine - I hope.
Fingers firmly crossed.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Is this coincidence or fate?
Over at Aaron Polson's Blog, discussion turned to romance. In my comment I mentioned I was thinking about a dark romance story. Then this arrives in my inbox:
edited by Liz Grzyb with Russell B. Farr
Do your kisses have bite? What mischief are the vampires, werewolves and mummies getting up to now? Romance may be dead, but it’s still walking…
Scary Kisses, a paranormal romance anthology, is scheduled for release in 2010.
The anthology is open to unsolicited submissions until 1st December, 2009.
- Story length 1,000 to 8,500 words. (Longer stories may be accepted, though payment is capped at 5,000)
- Original stories only: no reprints, multiple or simultaneous submissions.
- Stories may be emailed to the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words "Submission Scary Kisses" in the subject line.
- Manuscript format: double spaced, large margins, sensible font.
- The editors reserve the right to bend any and all rules for close personal friends.
- Deadline: 1st December, 2009.
Send us your best stories in the paranormal romance vein.
We are looking for submissions with romantic and paranormal or speculative elements.
Payment: 2 copies and Aus 2 cents/word (GST inc., maximum payment $100) on publication.
Well the news is good.
I don't have to go under the knife - yet!
I'm going in a couple of weeks for facet joint injections to the right side of three vertebrae. Nothing huge there. I've had these types of injections before.
We, the doc and I, are hoping it will see off the pain I get in my hip and lower back for at least a three month period. During that time, I'll be working on getting my core strength up so I can support the lower back enough that there won't be any further occurrence of this pain.
Time to finally get that six pack I've always wanted. This won't be a vanity thing though, it's for my own health and well being.
The fact that getting fitter and toning up the mid section is all that is required is great. I'm all for changing my lifestyle to make things better rather than have some one cut me open.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today I worked on getting assignments done.
I finished off assignment 4 which deals with POV within AKL - 1000 words. Will be posted tomorrow.
Had a look at the next assignment for my screen play module. It needs to be six pages. The last one I did at five pages came from something I specifically wrote for that purpose - the kid in the shop buying condoms. When written in prose form, it came out at 6 pages and just over 1200 words. And yet when I converted it, it came out at 5 pages.
Tonight I began converting Idolatry into a screenplay. It stands at 16 pages and nearly 2500 words. After conversion, it's come out at 11 pages. too short for the final assignment and too long for any other assignment.
Not happy - big waste of an evening. My only saving grace is if I can add to it to make an additional four pages, but the story is told. Anything else would be padding, and padding in a script is not good.
Tomorrow I'm off to see the specialist surgeon for my back and leg pain issues. Hopefully I'll have all the possibilities laid out for me once I've spoken with him. I know most of them already but he may have something new for me. Having once been a nurse, I tend to be a little more forward with doctor's than other people. You can see a fear creep into some of their eyes when I talk to them. A case of "Oh shit. No baffling this guy with bullshit. He knows what we mean."
So wish me luck that between now and tomorrow, the world finds a cure for my ailments short of a truck to the knacker yard.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Today was a day full of agonising over a word or sentence, occasionally a paragraph.
The first draft of my 1000 word, untitled piece, hovered between 900 and 1015 words. I'd cut a bit, and then rewrite another bit and then contract two words, realise something should be hyphenated, scrap another bit and then expand another. I imagine it could be described very well as my piece was breathing, struggling to find the right rhythm it would need to survive in the real world. It's done. It's been sent to Pharo for grammar correction and premise/plot comments. It's different. We'll see.
I've also revised Digging Up The Past. This will be going out the door to a bunch of people shortly.
Unfortunately I didn't get around to polishing my assignment. I must do that tomorrow.
And that's it. That's all I did today in my writing endeavours. It took a long time to get my words in a place I was happy with, but it's done and time to move on. Assignment tomorrow and then back to AKL.
Last night I finished the critique I've been working on for a friend and fellow writer, and sent that off.
And then I had a strange picture in my head about a brick wall. You know those old ruins you see occasionally where just the brick chimney is still standing, or part of a wall, usually the corner of a structure, is refusing to fall? Well, I had a picture of a small church front wall, ruined by time and vandals, standing against the efforts of the wind to blow it down - strangely with the tattered remains of the doors still in place.
So I started writing with no idea what would come out past the description of this wall. The first draft of a 1000 word piece is done. I'm not happy with one paragraph and I want to expand on something else so there's still work to do, but I may have something for the AHWA flash fiction contest. I'm going to revise Digging Up The Past and submit that to the AHWA short story section of the comp. We'll see how things play out.
Today I want to finalise my assignment and print it ready for posting tomorrow. I'll also be looking at revisions for Digging and this new, currently untitled, flash piece.
I've come to the conclusion I'm still striving to find my voice as a writer, and I'm still searching for the correct vehicle. I think that now I'm writing more about Australian based settings, I'm feeling more comfortable. I still write in European and American settings occasionally, but I now look at an Australian setting first. Writing 4000+ words in a story is still easier for me than writing under a 1000. Writing a scene in 2-3000 words is becoming second nature when I'm in longer version mode, i.e. Novel Mode.
I think 3rd person is my preferred POV, but I've experimented with 1st in this new flash piece and quite enjoyed it. Maybe 1st for the really short stuff and 3rd for longer work??
I've had a number of editors now tell me my work is well written - usually in a personalised rejection letter, but, even if the work isn't right for the market, it's nice to have confirmation I can write. So I'm going to try and put the insecurities aside in that department.
I can write, but I rarely write well without feedback.
This is how I work: I write out the first draft. I then sit on it and do some revision before anyone has seen it. Then my wife reads it and points out anything she sees as good or bad or anything else. I let it sit and then revise again. Then I need to send it to the almighty Pharo. This is a friend I've cultivated from an online crit group. Pharo is a guru in the use of English, and finds all my mistakes, and makes excellent suggestions dealing with plot and premise. I revise again. Then it needs to go to my beta readers. I revise again. So by now I'm up to version 5 or more of the work in progress. It's guaranteed that it's 100 times better than the original piece I wrote while still being my work, my idea, my voice. It goes to market and may be revised more times if rejected depending on editors comments and my rereading of it after months of not seeing it.
When I get my first book published, the dedication will go to my family for all they've put up with, but there will be a thank you page, and all the people mentioned above will be on it. The thank you page in the first published book will probably be quite long (if I can get away with it).
What process do you go through to prepare your masterpieces for entry into the world? Is it version 1 or 2 that you send out, or 5, 6 or 7?
Monday, April 20, 2009
Back at work today. Nothing blew up in my absence and it did take me all morning to work through hundreds of emails after 12 days away. In the end, there were only a dozen or so of any note.
Unfortunately one of them was a rejection for 'Digging Up The Past', my sub for the Devil's Food Antho. Just a form pass so it'll take a quick revision and out she'll go again.
When I earlier said I didn't think I was being a good blog citizen, I was referring to my lack of reciprocating to those kind enough to visit and leave comments. My reading of others blogs has been a little stunted recently. I've even been slack in updating the blogs I frequent on my sidebar. I'm in the process of fixing that. You'll notice my blog rolls are extending quite a lot.
Now I'm back at work, I'll also be settling back into reading blogs first thing of a morning to catch up on current events and hopefully having something useful to add in way of a comment.
As I had mountains of email to trudge through this morning, and, shock horror, I had some work to do, I haven't gotten through all my feeds yet, but I thought I'd add whatever useful links I came across as I did.
From Janet Reid's excellent blog I found this quote from one Julie Weathers, "Query letters are like a good strip tease. Reveal enough to stir up the reader emotionally and leave them wanting more." - writing advise to live by. Brilliant! (And yes, I've added Julie to my blog roll - if someone can come up with writing advise like this, I want to read her daily thoughts).
A little while ago, during one of the meme things that were/are going around, I disclosed a funny and utterly stupid thing I did in the past in regards to the first manuscript I'd written. I won't rehash it her, but this post over at Et in arcedia, ego, agent Jennifer Jackson's blog, pretty much nails it. I have, on many, many, many occasions tried to push this point since I wised up and winced at my early behaviour. If you want to be a professional writer, you must act professionally. It is a given fact that we are all too close to our work to be able to give objective opinions on it. Writers never stop learning and growing in the use of the craft. Not all experimentation or plot twist will work as you envisage it. When you finish your work, let it sit before revising it - then send it to someone not related to you, and preferably living in a different suburb, if not a different state or country, to give their opinion on it. Revise some more - polish it till it shines. Remember, great writing is not written - it's rewritten. Then submit it to market as per the guidelines as stated on the target market/agents website.
Just about everyone haunts Nathan Bransford's blog now-a-days, but just in case you've been under a rock, down the coast, or just too busy (that would be me on all three accounts), Nathan has been hosting the Be An Agent for a Day series of posts. As soon as I find some time I intend to go through them and check out the queries, the responses, and Nathan's advise on them. I should be able to learn something from that lot...I hope.
And just for the hell of it - stop complaining about agents or the process. Just write. If you do this well enough, you'll find the right agent for you, but please, enough with the agent bashing I keep reading about around the place - it's not nice - and it doesn't help anyone. Feel free to vent on your own blog (god knows I do from time to time), but is there really a need to sound off on an agents blog? Besides, it's not professional and I have a sneaking suspicion agents have a long memory about such things...
Tweets - I don't get it. I know one or two of you out there partake of this particular phenomenon, but I don't get it. I sure as hell wouldn't be able to do it - look at the length of this post!
Found this post on Smoke & Mirrors, Shane Jiraiya Cummings blog. Yep, it was five days ago and I'm only now catching up. It gave me all nice and warm fuzzy feelings to see my name listed as a possible candidate for best fan writer - yeah, right! My vote goes to Chuck McKenzie. It'll be an interesting list when the nominations do come out. Any way - thanks for the mention Shane.
I also found out today the the Australian Tax Office considers writers as "Special Professionals" - as tax time is only a couple of months away, here could be some info you need to know. (Thanks to Speakeasy for the nod & reminder.)
Okay - that is more than enough for my first post back at work. There may be more tonight if I get around to doing some writing.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I've spent many hours in the chair this weekend but I have a few things to show for it - no acceptances or anything (actually no rejections either), but lots of stuff done.
Today I finished a quick revision of chapter 20 of AKL and moved on to chapter 21, and then on to chapter 22. I worked chapter 23 into 22 so I've currently shortened the book to exactly 40 chapters. After taking some away, adding others and writing whole new swathes of words, I've ended up adding 2742 words to it. The other good point about this, is I'm starting to add heaps of footnotes. These are little reminders of things I have to go back and do once I've finished the first draft. Things which will add to the layers, foreshadowing and clues and plants and the like - very cool when the brain starts dropping those things in already - it's like weaving a more complex story on the side. Almost like I'm starting to see in more than the black letters on white screen dimension...it's really becoming alive.
Next thing off the start line was a draft version of my next assignment. This is the POV assignment I've mentioned some time ago. At 1000 words, I'm pretty happy with it, but I'll let it sit for a day, give it another once over and then fire it off - lets see if I can raise the average from the standard B I seem to be getting this year.
Then I had a break to watch Ferrari do woefully in the Chinese Grand Prix - although I was stoked to see Mark Webber get second. Finally he's in a good car and could get a good result this year. Wet weather + no driver aids + new drivers at the top of the standings = interesting race.
I then fired off an email to someone I'm doing a manuscript critique for, claiming the need for more time due to my run away session on AKL this morning. I'm halfway through and promised to at least get through a couple more chapters tonight. Well the roll-on bug hit me again and I managed to get a lot further than I first thought I would. It's looking good to be completed tomorrow, or the day after at the latest. Promise.
So with all the bits and pieces added together, I've come close to 5000 words today with over half of them being solely for AKL. I'm happy with that, and very tired.
My holiday is over so it's back to work tomorrow. That should be fun. No doubt I'll have a full morning going through mindless email, and then an afternoon of catching up on everything which went wrong while I was away--and has been held over to be fixed until I got back - hopefully not. A good day would be no hassles, a quick skim through email, and then plenty of time to work on my own little projects ;c)
Hope you had a good weekend. I apologise for not being a particularly good blog citizen lately. I've been a little under the pump - not a real excuse but it's the only one I've got. I'll try to do better.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
This is a first for a while. Normally I have Saturday's off but the whole family was out doing other things and left all on my lonesome - so I got stuck in - to start with...
I managed to write chapter 21 of AKL bringing my weekly output to just under 3500. Way short of what I'd like but then added with the rest of what I've written, it actually surpasses my target for the week so I'm not going to bitch about it. Check it out - the bean man has finally hit 50% - it's all down hill from here! Woohoo...
I managed another 5 chapters critiqued in the manuscript I'm working on so that makes it halfway. I'm hoping to get another 10 or so done tomorrow.
I will also get two assignment drafts done, and hopefully get a chance to do a bit on the Xmas antho piece - we'll see.
I've started reading Aurealis issue 41 - the girls of horror edition. So far - it's good, very good.
Then I was interrupted by qualifying for the F1 and by my team playing in the AFL. Ferrari are going crap this year - so far - and my team got thumped.
Time for bed.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I've managed to crit the first ten chapters of the manuscript I'm currently helping out with. This is my second read through and I do this one very slowly and carefully, considering voice setting and what the author is trying to convey - I then make any suggestions I think could help, correct typos, comment on environment and POV, and comment on any logic issues - keeping in mind the original brief from the writer.
So you can see it takes a lot longer the second time through. I read it for the first time yesterday and have already submitted the initial thoughts as a reader. Yes I can be anal while I try to be thorough.
I only managed to get through 10 chapters instead of 20 due to the onset of a major headache - the writer/reader/editors worst nightmare.
So I went and laid down to relax. Then dinner time came around, and then I got hooked on the movie IQ - I'm a sucker for anything with Meg Ryan in it - and then my family took over the study and the computer, so I read some of the latest Aurealis issue.
And that's all I've managed. True, I cleaned up out the back, done some washing, tidied the littlest ones room and changed all her bed clothes (including installing the electric blanket) in preparation for the coming colder weather, done the dishes, went and got Chinese for dinner, and fed the animals - but that's normal life everyone has to do above and beyond their writing.
I managed naff all actual writing and today is the last day of my week long holiday. A month ago I had visions of getting at least 5000 words done on AKL during this week. Instead I managed to do a revision on my Xmas antho piece, write a 1500 word article and add a little over 1300 words to AKL. Yes I wrote two reviews, and have read one manuscript and critiqued a quarter of it, but I still have two assignments to prepare at some point. What was that saying about best laid plans...
Life: it's that thing that gets in the way of my writing...
Tomorrow's a new day with endless possibilities, maybe I'll be able to snag one of them.
Time for a quick whip around the blogs before bed. Speak soon.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I wrote up the two reviews of the books I read over Easter and posted them on GoodReads. Others have already posted reviews of them on HorrorScope so I figured I didn't need to add to them. If you haven't yet, you should all go and join GoodReads. You'll get cool widgets to display your book collections and be able to read heaps of reviews - by me and others.
I took my little one to see "Race to Witch Mountain" which was okay for a kids flick. My little one seemed to enjoy it and at least the lad from High School Musical wasn't in it.
Then I came home and started reading a YA manuscript for a friend. First thoughts have been sent back and I'll get to the line edits tomorrow. I probably won't be finished with it till some time over the weekend.
I did a revision on my Christmas antho piece (now titled Spoilt Rotten) and sent that out to the same friend so they could have the honour of ripping it apart first. When returned, I'll do a revision and then send to my other beta readers - stay tuned.
My sister dropped by to borrow another book from my growing collection and return Alex Sokoloff's "The Harrowing" - which she agreed was a very good book. I'll be posting my review of it on HorrorScope shortly so keep an eye out for that as well.
My back and legs are hurting a bit tonight, so I don't think I'll accomplish anymore on the writing front today. Chapters 21 to 24 encompass the midpoint climax in AKL and a ramping up of the pace which increases all the way to the end of the book, but 21 in particular is the main character's major turning point. It's here they realise the bigger importance of their inner desire as opposed to the external want. If, and it's a big if, I can get out of bed at a reasonable hour, I'll have a go at writing it tomorrow, before going over an assignment, and then resuming editorial work on the YA manuscript. Might even break all that up with a spot of reading...
Still no news from the market place :(
Here's hoping life is being good to you.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
We're going to go see 'Race to Witch Mountain" tomorrow.
Tonight I received Aaron Polson's manuscript and will devote some time to that over the next few days.
I also wrote another 1312 words to complete chapter 20 of AKL - bean counter will be added at the bottom of the post.
I wrote a travel article of just under 1500 words and submitted it to market. First real freelance thing I've submitted on spec so I'm a bit nervous about this one - fingers crossed.
Transcribed all my ramblings over the Easter weekend from my Dictaphone into three new documents - lots of interesting stuff.
Will update my Good Reads widgets once I've finished posting here with my new acquisitions.
I need to update some areas of the website as well.
It seems I'm paying for my last two weeks of doing naff all by suddenly being inundated with stuff (sorry Aaron) needing to be done yesterday.
Oh, before I forget - pop on over to Alex's blog where she has been continuing with her series on the elements of writing. Some really good advice. Her link can be found in my sidebar if you haven't already subscribed to her feed - and if you haven't, make sure you do now.
I've had no rejections and no acceptances recently. Still no word from Devil's food and no update from Apex on the short listed Dreaming, and nothing from Anne Cecil on the PARSEC contest.
In fact the only news I have had is that my two erotic stories in the UK published anthology "Mammoth Book of Erotic Confessions" is finely going into print next month. Here's the link to buy it on Amazon, although it hasn't actually hit the stores yet as far as I know - I haven't been paid yet at any rate.
That's my quick update. Here's the Bean Counter
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Best laid plans of Mice and Men - seems I'm stuck on regurgitating quotes from well known material to get my point across at the moment - sorry about that.
Sorry about turning a great deal of my intended "an's" into "and's" as well. I really must proof read better. Story of my life...
Today I figured I'd go and get the dog and then do some writing. That was shot in the foot by there being more traffic on the roads today then there was over the whole Easter break. It took me 25% longer to get the dog than anticipated, which meant longer in the car, which resulted in lots of pain through back and legs.
So after retrieving the family loose-fur maker, I came home to rest. The kids invaded the study and took over the computer, leaving me to watch lots of TV I'd recorded through Foxtel. Pretty sad really.
Last night I did rewatch Perfume: A Story of a Murderer, with pad and pen in hand and slowly pulled it apart.
This is the first time I've done this and I found it a wonderful experience. Funnily enough, my boy came in part way through and asked me if I'd figured it all out yet? I asked him what he meant, and he replied with, "That's what you normally do. You watch the first bit and then can tell what's going to come and how everything will play out."
I'm guessing I'm not much fun to watch films with if this is what I'm doing without realising it. Little wonder I'm also finding too many films to be predictable and crap. Same goes with written work. (except for my own - seems I have a blind spot there)
It's becoming second nature to understand the plot sequence and the necessary requirements of a story. I can recollect foreshadowing on a second viewing and readily pickup the hints on the way through which should make for a satisfying ending. Now if I can only convert that to my own work...
Still, it's all practise in the art of story telling.
Another new book arrived today. A late birthday present (thank you sweetheart). Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror Volume 3 (2008). This has all the very best of short stories published in the preceding year by Australian authors. Lots of familiar names and some new ones I haven't heard before, so I'm looking forward to reading it. One of the anthologies I read over the weekend was volume 2 of this series and was most impressed (review still to come), so this should be well worth the wait.
At the end of my "Hi I'm Back" post, I hinted at maybe having forgotten things I need to accomplish this week. I was right. I need to get back onto the assignment wagon and knock off at least two first drafts, if not finish and submit them by the weekend. Thursday will be the day I take the little one to the flicks so tomorrow will have to be a big day on the writing front. The alarm has been set for early - God help me actually get out of bed...
That's it from me for now. I'm going to cruise the feeds and hand out a few well chosen comments before hitting the hay - tomorrow is a big day!
Monday, April 13, 2009
The time away was lovely, but there's no place like home - yeah I know it's not very original but it's still very true.
A very short post this evening, just to let you know me and mine made it home safely after covering a little over 500km's this long weekend. I'll be adding another 130 or so to that tomorrow when I go and pick up the dog.
I accomplished much: had two new ideas for stories, got new bearings on AKL, outlined a travel article to shop around, visited the scene of the two biggest parts of AKL and found one of them needs to be changed, visited another scene and found some of that needs to be changed, as well as gathering info on bits I skimmed over in preparation for this visit so I can now go back and expand on something very heart warming which will end in something very bone chilling - cool.
I also read two books full of short stories, brought and old Stephen King novel didn't have and haven't read, received and assignment in the mail as well as Aurealis Issue #41.
I will go into detail as this week progresses, but I have so much I need to get done. I want to write a shitload of new stuff for AKL. I need to pick up the dog, take my daughter to the pictures to see some silly children's holiday film (should be a fun escape), go over two returned crits of my work on a couple of different stories, catch up on everyone's blogs, write up two reviews, write one article, transcribe all my musings from my dictaphone, go through holiday photographs... and I'm sure there's heaps of other stuff I've forgotten because I'm good at forgetting things.
So tonight, I'll get some sleep and then - hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work I go - yeah, I know, not very original either...
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Bend me over and strike me pink, the wonderful Catherine J Gardner (the classy lady I've placed on the pedestal as the caring overseer of our little writing group of friends - who anyone is welcome to join) has nominated me for an Honest Scrap award.
The Award and Rules:
This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.
The rules are as follows:
1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
2. Choose a minimum of 5 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!
The Honest Scrap Award goes to....
The following nominees are all part of our growing online group of writers and friends who I have come to love and adore for their support and kindness.
Jamie Eyberg - has become a good friend even though we are separated by miles and miles of ocean. Any writer who is also a stay at home dad, can rebuild his own house, and shoot wild animals from distance - oh, and he can write, is good in my books and deserves all the honours he can get.
Danielle Ferries - I'm a sucker for a pretty face and an emerging talent. D is both of those, and an Australian writer to watch in the not-too-distant-future. I'm all for supporting young writers who write exceptional weird stuff.
Aaron Polson - writer, teacher, and editor extraordinaire. This guy has written some truly awesome stories that make the skin crawl and the hairs stand on end - and he's a friend of mine. It just keeps getting better and better...
Natalie L Sin - A lady I'm sure was born a man inside a woman's body. When we are all famous, Nat will be the one at our yearly get together in Aspen who keeps the party going for days on end. And who could go past a blog which regularly highlights the world's need for Korean boy bands - err, maybe I should take this award back...
Jameson T Caine - A truck driver with a latin named blog who writes wonderful prose and has an awesome writing space, who seems very down to earth and an all around nice guy. I'm more than happy to count him among my writing friends.
10 Honest things about me (that I haven't already divulged on this blog...)
1. I prefer to write than to watch my kids play sport. I don't, but I wish I could.
2. I only drink alcohol during summer and then only at the cricket club, and usually only a couple of cans on a Saturday night. I can't remember the last time I got really drunk.
3. If given the choice, I will drive. I consider myself an excellent driver and have faith in my ability to get out of trouble and protect those travelling with me. I have varying levels of faith in other drivers I travel with.
4. I can live on turkey and mayo sandwiches.
5. I drink Farmers Union Iced Coffee by the gallon. It is normal for me to have two or three 600ml cartons a day.
6. I am a leader in my sporting club, I am not shy in coming forward with suggestions at work, but I am extremely insecure about my writing.
7. I would kill to protect my kids and my wife - and I know how it can be done in many ways - some untraceable by pathology.
8. I rarely get a fit of the giggles, but when I do, I can't stop. I carry on well past the point where it hurts, and it's very easy to set me off again once I get started - which my wife has great pleasure in using against me.
9. I love Formula One racing and was a big Schumacher fan. I still support Ferrari.
10. At the completion of writing my first manuscript, "Tigers Eye", I found an article claiming some writers got paid nearly 80 cents a word. I began planning my retirement as I packaged up my manuscript, a synopsis, and query and sent it to a reputable Australian agency with the greeting of "Hi from a nervous new writer" - I shit you not - If you take nothing else from this post, never do this. Never tell any agent you're a new anything. You're a writer, be professional, or at least try to portray an air of a professionalism.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sorry about my whinge yesterday - a necessary venting, but I'm over it and moving forward.
Unfortunately my little girl is sick again, her sore throat/tonsillitis looked to be clearing up but seems to have become more overnight. This morning she lost her voice - day after tomorrow, we go on holiday.
Give a shit about getting a knock back on a story when my little one is facing a terrible holiday ahead if she can't kick this thing to the curb in a hurry. Kind of puts thing back into better perspective.
So today I'm sitting at home again. I've managed to update the market information for AHWA so if you're a member, go have a look. A couple of markets have died and I've added a couple of new ones. For everyone else, Byzarium and From the Asylum has gone under, and Bards & Sages Quarterly, and Hub are worth a look. I hadn't realised Hub had increased their payment by so much - very much worth it when you take the conversion rate into account. Unfortunately they are closed for subs right now, but you should sub once they reopen.
I revised Wamphyri once more, cutting 20 or so words to just tighten it up a little. I actually cut a lot more but I rewrote other bits to end up with an overall reduction of only 21 words. This has now gone back out to market.
I'm two-thirds of the way through my current book and have finished rebuilding the other family computer. I now wait for the garage to phone to tell me my car has been serviced and is ready for me to go driving long distance in.
Time to go watch a flick, and then go get the car. I'm hoping I find some time tonight to revise my new, currently untitled, story for the Christmas antho Festive Fear.
Next week will be AKL and maybe a couple of assignments. If getting back from the site AKL took place doesn't inspire me to get a good deal of it done, then maybe I need a new project.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I just this moment received a rejection back from the general submission slush pile for the Dark Glass anthology which makes me think it'll have no hope in the competition side of things either.
It was quite unapologetic in it's efforts to call my story crap. Taking a line from the middle of the rejection letter - "There's nothing really new here, and the characters seem thin." - left me wondering if I can actually write.
This story has passed through a number of beta readers, and others, and has attracted better feedback with each revision cycle - and yet now it has been broadsided with labels of 'standard' and 'better avoided'. (Actual words used in the rejection letter)
I haven't done a lot of writing over the last couple of weeks: less than 2000 words on AKL and one short at 3600. Add in a couple of assignments and I get a total of around 7-8K in two weeks. I've done a bit of reading but in general, I seem to be winding down.
Now this could be due to the fast approaching holiday period. I have two days of work left, and then 12 days of relaxation. First family holiday where we are going away for a long, long time. I'm seriously looking forward to it.
Or it could be because in the last few days, I've had rejections on a couple of pieces I thought were good, or at least some of the better stuff I'd written so far. The insecure writer in me has taken this pretty badly. I understand that and intend to simply keep trying, but I am worried that a lot of my work seems to come back from paying markets with comments seriously down-playing my ability to form all the components of a good story.
Am I just a cliche writer? Can I not come up with something new, or at least something with a big enough twist on it that someone would want to pay me for it?
I have these doubts, and then I read some of the crap that is being published and writers are getting paid for, and I go into this spiral of envy and whining bullshit which disgusts me, and makes me feel somewhat worse than a gynaecologist who misses the mark by just that much. (Sorry, I watched Knocked Up last night - funny.)
I guess this is all part of the learning process, and the heavy payment of dues we all must put into the coffers at some point. Personally - I think it blows the big one.
Now I wait in expectation for another hammer blow from the Devil's Food antho, and then Apex can drive in the final nail by rejecting the previously short listed Dreaming with a "sorry, what were we thinking" type of rejection.
Sorry - just venting.
I'm revising a couple of stories at the moment. I'll wait until I have confirmation from the PARSEC contest before I do anything with Swirls. I still have some market work to do for AHWA which I'm hoping to get onto today.
As for the next week or so: I'll post a couple more times over the next day or two and then I'll be slipping off the radar until after Easter - or there abouts. So have a great and safe Easter. Drive carefully, and best of luck on your egg hunt.
And I wish you all the very best with your Easter writing endeavours.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I had a few days of this week remaining to do some writing. I wanted to do some work on A Kookaburra's Laugh, but I also noticed that all my current stories are out in the wild. I had a choice. I could work on two stories I haven't retired or I could write something new.
I wrote something new. 3690 words of Christmas horror. Very much a family who slays together, sleighs together, type of thing. Fun. First draft is done. Time to let sit before revising, and then maybe going out to beta readers - I know who you are, as do you, so no need to throw up offers - it'll be winging your way in the not too distant future. It is currently untitled.
This is for the Inaugural Festive Fear Anthology to be released by Tasmaniac Publications. This first one is only open to Australian writers (sorry), but make sure you keep it in mind for next year (no doubt I'll be reminding you anyway). I expect the TOC to just get better each year. This year I expect quite a few AHWA members to get behind it. Danielle, David, Flick, and everyone else who is an AHWA member and reads this blog - get cracking. You've got until June to submit.
And to top things off, I got Module 2, assignment 4 back today. That's 6 straight B's for semester 1, 2009. At least I'm passing.
For the next couple of days, I'll be reading short stories in "The Book Of Shadows" which has waited patiently for me to get to it, and knocking out a few thousand words to my manuscript. A Kookaburra's Laugh is way too long to keep writing so I'll be calling it by its nickname AKL. Thought I'd better mention this before confusing everyone.
Okay, I'm rambling; time to go.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I've posted my review of Alan Baxter's MageSign over on HorrorScope. This is a good piece of Dark Fantasy - I recommend it with a solid 4/5 on the Amazon scale and a good 4/6 on my own scale. It's worth the read.
Does that look cool? I was blown away and totally not expecting this - number 23!
I like to thank my mum, the academy and all the little people I stepped over to get here.
Seriously - who dobbed me into this?Go and click on the badge and check out the other blogs - but please come back...
In a month where I notched up another year gone, I did okay on the writing front.
I was chuffed to receive The Scribbler Award - I don't get many awards so I'm milking this for all it's worth.
I managed a below-par 8585 new words on Newland which also gained a new name - A Kookaburra's Laugh.
I wrote one new short which I promptly turned into a screen play script and submitted as an assignment.
Wamphyri was rejected and subsequently resent out. I also discovered Dark Rose was languishing at a failed market and so resubbed her as well to Yellow Mama who graciously offered her a home at which to spend Halloween.
Winged Shepherd of Innocence was published at Fear & Trembling Magazine.
I finished revising and submitted Dreaming, which was immediately short listed by the editor.
I completed and submitted five assignments. I received three of these back - all have gained a B grade pass.
I have read RealmShift & MageSign by Alan Baxter. I have also posted a review of the first and will do the review for the second shortly.
I have also read and reviewed Tainted: Tales of the Supernatural, edited by Aaron Polson, and Phantasy Moste Grotesk by Felicity Dowker.
I also promised myself I'd try to blog a little less to allow for more writing time. Last month I blogged 43 separate times and accomplished 15,000 or so words on my manuscript, three short stories and a couple of assignments. I also managed to read a bit. This month I've done about half the words on the manuscript, only one short story, and 5 assignments - but only 40 posts on the blog. So much for that theory.
On to April where I fully expect to get even less done. Only 30 days in the month and 5 or 6 of them will be off limits for writing due to being away on holiday. The last week of the month could be a total write off as well. May could be worse - more on that as it approaches.
Here's hoping you had a better month and have better times to look forward to.
On firing up the laptop today, I was greeted with some good news. Dreaming has been shorted listed for the Blackness Within Anthology. Although this doesn't mean it will make the final cut, it's nice to know it's good enough for consideration.
I've also managed to write 737 new words for A Kookaburra's Laugh. I'm almost halfway through the expected length of the first draft now, having just breached the 45000 word milestone. The midpoint climax is fast approaching where everything gets turned on its head.
I'm going to spend some time with my little one before I come back and write up the review for MageSign.
So far, it's been a good day.
Here's the long awaited return of the Bean Counter: