Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I say Mother Nature may burn me with as many maladies as she can and I will continue to rise from the ashes - just kidding MN, please, no more...

I'm just about on the road to full recovery once more, at least I think I am - all the road signs look familiar. If I can just reach the interstate I think I'll floor it and not be visiting here again anytime soon. I'm not rushing back into things this time. I'll make sure I have a clear road before I put the pedal to the metal. Thanks to everyone who has left comments of good cheer and speedy recovery.

So, the 'to do' list is still waiting, and, of course, growing. At the moment, I don't really care about any of it except the reading I promised to do for a friend - that will get done, but I'll be in the right frame of mind to do the job justice.

What laid me out - again? I have no idea but I'm suspecting salt & pepper squid. It shall be a long time before I eat at that restaurant again and probably longer before I indulge in seafood once more.

I've also been thinking a lot about my writing (surprise, surprise). As many of you know, I'm a big fan of the writing advice given out by Alexandra Sokoloff. She hasn't been giving out the same sort of advice recently due to promotional appointments (oh to have those issues), but one thing she has been constantly advising writers to do is to make up top ten lists. The idea is to identify the types of things that you like in a book/movie and use those techniques in your own work.

For instance, I've noticed recently I like feel good movies which have a seriously flawed character involved. Chaos Theory, Things We Lost in the Fire, even big blockbuster versions like Armageddon can get to me. I watched Legally Blonde last night and found that enjoyable (mostly).

So I like something that rings (mostly) true (or I can at least suspend my belief for), may be able to bring real men close to shedding a tear (not me, just some other guy I know), have major conflicts, and that allow the reader to empathise with and feel good about at the end of the movie.

Yes, I like horror flicks, thrillers, and other darkly good things, but I like feel good best.

Some of my favourite books/movies of all time are kid's flicks (Charlotte's Web, Monsters Inc) or chick flicks (Titanic, Dirty Dancing) or straight up literary classics without a whisper of darkness within (To Kill A Mocking Bird), or true stories (Reach For The Sky). There are plenty of others but I think you get the point. (And yes, I got slack and couldn't be bothered providing any more links, sorry)

Inner Voice, my still current work in progress (of which this is the second week in a row where I've not written the last thousand or so words), is a feel good book. The tale of a socially awkward teen who does good, and gets the girl, by using brains instead of brawn.

I've come to one of those crossroads we as writers find in our journey (quite often as we try to find our feet). It's time for me to take stock and understand where I'm at and where I want to head. Don't get me wrong, I'll always pen tales of misfortune and disturbing situations - it's fun, but it is no longer what moves me the most. In truth it has never been, but I hadn't fully accepted that until now.

Of course, this could all change when the next big idea hits me in the head, but I think it will go a long way to forming the core of all my future work. After all, aren't we the result of lots of little (and some not so little) light bulb moments in the trials and tribulations of learning The Craft?

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Give Up

This shop is closed until further notice. I refuse to write or read or do anything else for the foreseeable future. I will not exit my house. In fact, I'm thinking about purchasing one of those environment bubbles to live in for at least the rest of spring.

I'm not ill. My family is not ill.

I now have the tooth ache to end all toothaches. It began earlier this afternoon while I was more concerned with back spasms from crappy chairs at the course I was on. The pain from my back and legs kept my mind off a slightly irritating sore throat. I figured it was the return of my ills from the last few weeks and that I'd not knocked on wood hard enough.

No such luck. I think my tonsil has blown up again due to something wrong with a molar. Can't be wisdom teeth, I had them out years ago.

I'm still going to read my alloted stories as I promised to do tonight. I fear for those who have submitted, I'm not in a good mood, but I shall do everything in my power to be fair and honest in my appraisal.

Only two more hours before I can have more drugs...

Sunday, September 27, 2009


That's pretty much the sound of my weekend having flown past. Saturday morning I had to go into work for a quick visit to get some stuff done and then I came home and spent the entire day in bed watching TV. How slack is that? I've not done it in a while and apart from getting up to put another load of washing on, I accomplished absolutely nothing writing related.

Today I had to go back into work, which took a bit longer than it did yesterday, but when I got home, I lay on the bed and watched TV. Super slack!

Now I've finally made my way to the keyboard, but in 40 or so minutes, the Singapore Grand Prix is on so I shall resume my posture stretched out on the bed watching TV. Super, Super Slack!

I'm letting things slip. I went over my spreadsheet tonight, that thing I use to keep track of where my work is and how long it's been there. I still had things marked down as submitted when they'd been rejected a month ago. I still had things marked as submitted that had been published a month ago!

So I brought it up to date. The result, I need some new short stories. I have two that have been out to market forever and have queried a couple of times. I'm considering taking on the three strikes and you're out rule. One more query + one more month and if nothing comes back, then I'm emailing my withdrawal and sending elsewhere (actually one of them will be retired as it's erotica and I'm not submitting in that genre at this point in time).

Apart from those two, I have a grand total of five pieces out in the market place and two pieces waiting to be resubbed. Well, three of you include the flash piece I wrote Friday. I haven't had less than ten pieces out on submission for some time.

I still have to finish IV and I still have to finish my currently untitled fantasy piece. I won't mention all the reading...

Okay, priorities!

I will read the pieces sent to me that I promised to look at for a friend's up coming publication. I made a commitment and now I need to honour that. It's not a difficult job so that needs to be done first - tomorrow night!.

I need to finish IV. Maybe Tuesday night, probably Wednesday night (due to training commitments Tuesday).

I need to finish this fantasy monster I started. Thursday I have training commitments again so probably not till Friday, which is two days after the deadline for the antho. Can't be helped. If the deadline doesn't get extended then it wasn't meant to be - it probably wasn't meant to be anyway. I very rarely submit it before it's gone through a number of drafts and revisions so this piece will probably end up going elsewhere. With all that in mind, it will probably be put off until next week.

And lastly, I will begin reading one of my two HorrorScope books for review this week.

Just as well I'm only on a full time, 5 day, intensive computing course this week...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Did I Say Short

The story continues to evolve as I work on this short for the Blood and Iron Anthology. I have gone from a little complex story with a hopeful word count of under 5K to something only half told and currently weighs in at 6400!

I have five scenes (so far) and only two of them are around 1000 words. The others are action scenes and pay the price arriving on the page at the normal length I would use for a chapter.

This is getting ridiculous.

I still haven't done any more on Inner Voices.

And to top things off - I wrote a totally separate flash piece as well which I'm currently sitting on trying to figure out what to do with it. The inspiration came from the CafeDoom weekly challenge Pharo sometimes competes in and I used to have a bash at at the start of this year. I had a quick look at what had been posted so far and had an idea of my own. Now I don't know if I want to put it up there, here, save it for 52 Stitches 2010, or submit it to market this year. Of course, it could be total tripe as well...and it's only 349 words in length!

So today, I've managed 4000 words...and not moved Inner Voices forward by a single letter :c(

I must find time this weekend to finish Nathan's story and work on this monster I'm creating, and get some reading done. And earlier this week I was writing about not having a plethora of ideas. I'm not complaining, not really, Mr and Mrs Writing Gods.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

WIP Wednesday...On A Thursday

After four posts yesterday, and for some reason thinking it was actually Tuesday, I ended up not posting my progress for the week.

I managed three writing sessions this week which is pretty good for me. Last Friday I knocked out a little over 3K, and then on the real Tuesday night, I did another 1500 or so, and yesterday I managed a whopping 2742 words! The problem is yesterday's efforts had nothing to do with Nathan Steele or Inner Voice.

I don't know why, but during a slow period at work, I decided to browse through the anthologies listed on Duotrope. I'm guessing it's because of my recently reading KC Shaw's Jack of all Trades but I was attracted to a fantasy antho - Through Blood & Iron. I don't know why I do these things to myself. The deadline is October 1st! I have one week to write, edit, polish and submit - I ask again: why?

On top of that, I was aiming for something around 5K. I'm over half that already and will struggle to rein it in. I have three plot points which could be expanded out quite significantly. Two major characters have been introduced and two of four antags have made an appearance (plus two red herrings who were necessary just to put things in motion). Things are about to ramp up significantly. At the very worse, I'm hoping to pull this in at under 7500 words.

But, seriously, how stupid am I? I have a couple of thousand words left to finish Inner Voice first draft. I have a week long, fairly intensive course to attend every work day next week. I want to begin work on my self made writing resources bible. I have two books I need to read and review in the not too distant future.

So what do I do? I begin another story, with an extremely tight deadline, and introduce a complex plot.


Oh, my progress for the week in regards to Inner Voice. The total is an additional 4591 words for a current grand total of:

Still, 7333 words for the week over all is pretty good. The next seven days should be interesting...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All Sorts of Awsome

My friend and fellow Adelaidian, Jason Fischer, has just won the Writers Of the Future contest!

Go to his journal and leave a congratulations note.


Not interested in posting anything else now - that news is just so good it should be on its own.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Four posts in one day, must be something in the water.

A good night tonight. I've been researching my second to last chapter as my female lead steps into the spotlight for a moment to show off her musical talents. A shout out to Talie for pointing me in the right direction. I've listened to a lot of good music tonight.

Anyway, I managed to add nearly another 1500 words tonight so it's been good night. This week I'm fast approaching the 5k mark with only another 1500 or so to go till the first draft is done. My subplot characters have just stepped up to the plate but I'm not happy with how they want it played out. I may have to tweak things a little to put at least one of them back in his place.

Either way, this first draft should be done by next weeks WIP update if not before. Woot! I can't lie, I'm looking forward to knocking this one off and having a break with something different, but it's getting late and I need to be up early.

A good night's work. I'm happy.

Shroud Flash Fiction Contest

Okay, I received an email notifying me that I hadn't made the cut in the Shroud Flash Fiction Contest. My first reaction was WTF? I didn't remember entering. I searched for the story and couldn't find it anywhere. I ended up rumaging around in my sent items folder within Outlook and came up with something titled 'Mad As A Hatter' - I still didn't remember it.

Over on Cate's blog she posted her entry which didn't make the cut which is way better than mine but I figured as she had posted hers, I'd follow suit (I'm not likely to send it anywhere else). Con gratulations to those we know who did make the cut! Excellent news that at least some of our group made it.

So, for what it's worth, for you enjoyment, cringe factor, whatever, I present:

Mad As A Hatter:

Kelly twisted the phone cord around her finger as she perched on the edge of the bed, the dial tone thunderous in her ear. "Pick up, David. I know you're there."

With her free hand she reclaimed the tumbler from the night stand and sipped the amber fluid within, savouring the burn as it slid down her throat.

The dial tone was replaced by David's dulcet tones. "I'm not in right now, but if you leave me a name, a number where I can contact you, the time of your call and a brief message, I'll get back to as soon as possible. Have a nice day."

The high pitched beep announced it was Kelly's turn.

"Pick up the God damn phone, David. I know you're screening your calls. Pick it up or the egg gets it."

The blank silence of the phone recording her message was assaulted with a cacophony of noise as the receiver was picked up. "Kelly? Is that you? What do you mean the egg gets it? What are you talking about?" David's normally dulcet tones had picked up an octave or two.

Kelly smiled as she turned to the large stuffed costume of Humpty lounging beside her on the bed. "I've still got Humpty here, David, and he'll only be able to withstand my rage for so long. And then it'll be your turn."

"Listen you crazy bitch. It's over between us—has been since the May parade. Can't you get that through your sick head?"

Kelly replaced the tumbled on the nightstand and picked up an ornately carved dagger instead. Wrapped around its blade were fine strands of David's hair she'd found inside Humpty's head. "Tell me, David, are you sure you won't borrow the cat costume just one more time? I promise if you do, we can say goodbye properly and I won't bother you again."

"Once was enough with you. You're sick. You need help!"

"How's your leg, David?" She waited long enough for David to pause in trying to grasp what she was talking about before driving the blade into Humpty's leg. A scream on the other end of the line told her she'd hit the mark. With infinite care, she withdrew the knife. "David! Are you there, David?"

"What did you do, bitch?"

Kelly lightly ran the tip of the blade along Humpty's inner thigh. She could hear David swallow close to the receiver. "Remember all those books on Voodoo and black magic you commented on during our afternoon tryst?"

"You're mad—worse, you're delusional."

Kelly gripped the daggers hilt until her knuckles turned white. "You shouldn't say things like that to me. But I'll forgive you if you bring the cat suit around one last time."

"It's not going to happen, Kelly. Accept it. Goodbye!"

The dagger remained poised above Humpty's groin. Kelly flicked a dry tongue across her chapped lips. "I wonder what the Mad Hatter is up to?"


I don't have a back-store of ideas for my writing. Rarely do I seem to be struck by an idea so powerful that it makes me stop in wonder at the power of my brain - actually I've never wondered at the power of my brain, it's always quite the opposite (maybe I'm more like Pinky than Brain...).

But I digress.

I read a lot of blogs and I've trawled around cyberspace for a couple of years now getting a feel for what it takes to be a writer, and I've come to the startling conclusion that the journey is different for each and every one of us who puts words on a page.

And that's the way it should be.

Many, indeed, most writers will advise you to keep a notebook on hand to scribble down an idea you can later turn into the next big thing, or at least the next story for you to work on - it can work. Me, I find that an idea looked at in the cold harsh light of day, without that original flame of inspiration providing a backlight, seems to wither and die before my eyes. Too many seemingly good ideas at the time have gone the way of the dodo in my experience to warrant me keeping much in the way of a notebook.

I do have an ideas file, but I don't put story ideas into it. I put in the little spark which prompted the story idea. Sometimes, often actually, I go back when looking for a new story to write, and wonder what the hell was I thinking. At these times I accept the idea mustn't have been all that good to begin with, delete it and move on. Sometimes it gives me a new idea and so I write a new story. I don't think it matters - it works for me...most of the time.

Sometimes I have a semi-formed, or on rarer occasions, a fully-formed, idea and I outline it in my ideas file. I come back later and still often think WTF, but these types of ideas are easily massaged into something I can get excited about and move forward with.

The bottom line here, and the reason for this post in the first place, is that it's okay to not have a plethora of ideas on the back burner if you're a writer - it's okay if you do, but it's not a prerequisite. Writing is supposed to be enjoyable and if you get to the point where you're worrying over not being like other writers out there, then I can't see how anyone can wring enjoyment from the process.

Be different. Be the best writer you can be and ensure you still gain maximum enjoyment from the craft we all love..

Find your own way, adapt what others have done before you and make it work for you. Write every day or once a week or only when the mood is right and the wind is blowing from the north. Outline every story or just start and see where you finish. Act out your characters, read out loud your dialogue, have critique partners read your work from the first draft or only after completion of the revised second or third instalments - whatever works for you.

And don't beat yourself up about anything. You are learning the craft and writing. You are spending some hours investing in improving yourself as a person, indulging in a need you must have fulfilled. You are not feeding the children in Africa or solving world peace. In the end, you're a story teller, which, with practise, can make a difference in a different way, and if you're commercially successful enough, may allow you to contribute funding to find the cure for AIDS, but in the end you are still just a story teller.

And that's a great thing to be.

Review: Jack of all Trades by K. C. Shaw

Last night I was gifted an unexpected reading pleasure.

Recently I’ve been wading my way through tomes which lived in darkness. I have been surrounded by devils and demons, ghosts, vampires and other creatures of evil; killers, sadists, masochists and other undesirables our society has spawned. If I didn’t own my own little black and twisted heart then I’d have been in danger of becoming quite depressed and possibly more than a little paranoid.

But last night the sun shone into the darkest recesses of my shadowed world and offered a little hope that a good read can be found in the most unexpected places.

I also found that words I often thought trite do have a place in the review world. We’ve all seen blurbs were a book is labelled as ‘wonderful’, ‘enchanting’, ‘a pleasure to read’ – I always looked at these labels as people being dishonest. It’s like saying something is nice. What is nice? It’s a word people use when they have nothing nice to say. It’s sprinkling flowery camouflage over the compost heap they perceive before them. Last night I read a book that was wonderful. Last night I read a book which both enchanted and entertained me thoroughly. Last night I became lost in an imaginary world which was a pleasure to read.

Last night, I read Jack of all Trades by K.C. Shaw from cover to cover.

Granted, I don’t read a huge amount of books aimed at young adult or younger markets, but this book is like a Pixar film and crosses the age boundaries with ease. Everyone will enjoy this. When I closed the book I felt happy to have read it, content with the way things worked out and eager to suggest my ten year old daughter should read it next.

A love story, a tale of friendship, and one of tolerance. It takes the reader back to times when children respected their elders, when a hard day’s work was gratifying and when the most important things in the world were those around you.

It is full of action, what many in the past would label ‘a real page turner’ with so many things happening in the life of one man you wonder how it all relates back to the central plot, but Shaw manages to keep all the balls in the air, circulating them with ease, until she decides to allow one to drop into place and the central picture becomes that much clearer to the reader. Everything is related to everything else. There are no loose ends and the connections are a joy to reveal.

The only downfall I can point to is the length. The experience is over far too soon and there is no loose end to naturally lead onto other books in the series. Yes, our hero, and his lady-love, may travel and experience new adventures, but this book has painted such a wonderful community, it would be difficult to let it go. Still, if the author is able to build minor characters and weave such a wonderful plot into a standalone book for each addition to Jack’s adventures – then this series will become a staple of every school library. I will be happy to buy each new book as it’s released and I would read them before giving them to my daughter.

This gave me back the feeling of wonder I had back in school when I read classics like Charlotte’s Web, or even further back when I read the Jungle Book. I remembered the enjoyment of a tale that made me laugh and just made me feel good. It is a simply well told and very entertaining story.

You may have noticed that I haven’t gone into plot detail. I’m trying to do this less and less. I want to give you my opinion on the book, not a quick rundown of its contents. There are plenty of other review sites which will fill you in on plot points if you prefer that.

This book gets a 4.6 making it the only non-dark fiction and non-adult orientated book to earn 5 out of 6 on my review scale. If I haven’t sung it’s praises enough already then let me leave with you a reminder as to what I think about books which score a 5 on my scale: Outstanding. You must buy this book. If money is tight, then steal it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Almost There

It's been a few days since I last posted. It's had nothing to do with illness this time round. As many of my regular readers will be aware, I don't tend to post on a weekend anyway.

But to bring you up to date, Friday saw me get some good words out. 3150 words added (I think - I don't have my word count sheet with me). Saturday found me doing husband, father, man-about-the-house type stuff. Sunday we attended preseason training for cricket and the club's AGM. We kind of blew off Sunday afternoon.

And now I'm back at work (happy, happy, joy, joy - not!)

Lots to do, but thought I'd take a quick time out to lodge this post and then go back to it - may add a more informative writing related post a little later. Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting There

I've read and written reviews for a couple of titles (Jack's up). I've sorted through the copious amounts of backlogged email and even answered a few. I've read through all the old Google Reader posts and commented on a number of blogs (I was right - some of you have had excellent news to which I came late to the party) - and it's not even lunchtime yet!

I'm just about over my current bout of illness (touch wood), and seem to be getting some energy back.

I'll get some writing done over the next three days if it kills me. This thing needs to be finished!

Just for something different, I thought I'd list off my current 'to-read' list which I'm looking to finish by the end of October.

Jack of all Trades by KC Shaw
Frankenstein by Dean Koontz (for HorrorScope)
Deadlier Than The Male by Adrian Tame (for HorrorScope)
The Unwanted by Brett Battles (for HorrorScope)
Shards by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Necrotic Tissue Issue seven (still haven't gotten to it)
Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight

So that's my reading list for the next 6-7 weeks. What about you? Have much lined up to exercise the old grey cells?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review: The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon

Bucket 'O' Guts Press made an inspired choice when they chose Catherine J Gardner's tale of twisted woe as the flagship for their chap book series.

Their guidelines state: We want fiction that cannot be classified or pigeonholed. The only contingency is your story must leave us all scratching our heads. Make us say “WTF?” But force us to read it again. Plant an earworm that gnaws away at our grey matter and leaves behind a plaque of damn good storytelling.

I decided I'd read Cate's offering this afternoon as it would be a quick read and be a good way for me to kick start me back into work. By the end of it I was definitely asking WTF? And then I read it again.

On opening the slim book, I was amused to find this little caveat on the inside front cover: This chapbook and the characters herein are a work of fiction. If this story or characters have any resemblance to your own life, then it is a coincidence, or you need to share whatever it is that you're smoking.

Couple that with the earlier stated guidelines and you just know you're in for something different.

If you're new to the Catherine J Gardner brand of fiction, then 'The Sour Aftertaste of Olive Lemon' will leave you in no doubt as to the unique voice, the mastery of the metaphor, and the exquisite use of vivid narrative description this author has developed from years of penning the weird and wonderful. It will also leave you searching out her online work and with a want to quickly obtain her printed material.

I'm lucky enough to have read (and own) a great deal of Cate's work and to be able to call her a friend, but with all sentiments aside, Olive will make you think, and when you get to the reveal, it will definitely make you say 'WTF?'

On a personal note, I've read two chapbooks this year - Olive and Felicity Dowker's Phantasy Moste Grotesk (not sure if they have any left though). If this is the quality we have to look forward to with future releases of chapbooks, I for one will be ordering often and early to ensure I get one - I suggest you do the same.

Chapbooks don't get a gig on my review scale. They are a different animal and can't be held up alongside full novels or anthologies in my opinion. Flick's didn't get a score and neither does Cate's but I would happily give both a 4 out of 5 on the Amazon scale of things if that helps you decide on whether to buy them or not.

Where's Wally

It seems like only yesterday I was calling out to all and sundry about how my family were finally breaking free of the dreaded winter lurgy's and bursting forth into a healthy spring. I forgot to touch wood and throw salt over my shoulder.

I've been ill...again. I won't go into details but it's been enough to stop me focusing on anything other than sleeping and watching the occasional bit of TV.

I am marginally better today and hope to get some reading done. I don't think I'll be able to sit at the keyboard long enough to get any real writing done.

I didn't post a WIP Wednesday yesterday as there has been nothing to report. I'm in the home stretch and I've suddenly hit a week where I accomplished zero words - even though I know what happens, how it happens, who is involved, the sub plot intervention - everything! And I still wrote zero words. I know I've been ill for most of that time but still - nothing?!

Time to go get back into bed and cuddle up to a couple of books. My Google reader has exploded out to 129 unread posts so I'm sure some of you have great news to share, but I just can't wade through everything at the moment, so I extend to you my best wishes and my hearty congratulations (and my apology which will be issued as I no doubt get to the announcements belatedly).

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [01.09.09-15.09.09]

The following digest of recent horror news is compiled from pieces published to HorrorScope and the Australian Horror Writers' Association website.

Freecon 2009
Guest writers for the Sydney Freecon have been announced! Click through for program details. Sydney Freecon, Nov. 27 to 29, 2009.

Terra Incognita 011
Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction Podcast #011 is now available for your listening pleasure. In this episode Brendan Duffy reads his story Louder Echo, and Keith Stevenson reviews The Dead Path by Stephen M Irwin.

David Conyers Special Guest at GenCon Australia
Australian Horror Writers' Association member David Conyers will be a special guest at this year's GenCon Australia, held at the Brisbane Convention Centre 18-20 September 2009 in Queensland. Click through to view David's itinerary.

Gen Con 2009
Gen Con™ Australia is a consumer games and entertainment convention that showcases games for a broad audience of entertainment seekers. The event will be held 18th to 20th of September 2009 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. Gen Con™ hosts the largest number of games tournaments and demonstrations ever seen in Australia.

Midnight Echo print copy pre-orders
The AHWA is now taking pre-orders for the print editions of Midnight Echo, the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers' Association. For Issue #3 onwards, print copies of Midnight Echo will be available directly from the AHWA at a substantially discounted rate to what is currently on offer at Lulu. Click through for more details.

Book trailers from i-Video
Western Australian video production company i-video has launched a new book trailer service for interested authors and publishers. Click through for more information.

Specusphere walks the Dead Path with Stephen M. Irwin
Astrid Cooper of the Australian SF e-zine The Specusphere has conducted an in-depth interview with Stephen M. Irwin about his debut horror novel The Dead Path.

Australian Reader Halloween Special intends to showcase Australian horror this Halloween. The zine's editor Phillip A. Ellis is looking for fiction and poetry up to 5,000 words. Stories must be emailed in the body of an email or as an attachment (no docx) before October 25. All types of horror will be considered. Click through for more information.

2009/2010 AHWA Committee
At the Australian Horror Writers Association AGM on September 9, a new, expanded Management Committee was elected. Click through to view the line-up of fantastic fiends!

Ned Kelly Awards Winners for 2009
The winners of Australia's premier crime writing awards, The Ned Kelly Awards, have been announced! Click through for the winners!

Theatre Of Blood
Theatre of Blood is a late-night horror theatre in the tradition of the Grand Guignol. Each Friday night at 11pm, in the foyer of the Newtown Theatre in Sydney, be thrilled with a one-hour program of three short plays. Every three months, there’s a brand new selection of plays to entertain, titillate and frighten you senseless…

Theatre Of Blood call for original plays
Theatre Of Blood have issued the following call for submissions of original short plays in the Grand Guignol style. Click through for guidelines.

Monsters and Bloodsuckers online content

Monsters and Bloodsuckers, part of the special Jennifer Byrne Presents series, is available for download as a Video Podcast, and a transcript is available online. Guest authors joining Byrn, are noted horror and occult writer Leigh Blackmore, children's book writer Catherine Jinks, novelist Tara Moss, and novelist Will Elliott.

New & Forthcoming Releases from Severed Press

Severed Press, an independent publisher based in Melbourne, have two titles just released - or about to be released! Tim Curran's Resurrection is available for pre-order. Just out from Severed Press - Dead America by Australian author Luke Keioskie.

LegumeMan Books open to submissions
The mysterious Brothers Gunther at Australian independent press LegumeMan Books have flung their doors open to submissions for three months, from now until December 1. Click through for guidelines.

Midnight Echo #4 reading period
Midnight Echo, the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association, has opened its reading period for Issue #4, which is edited by Australian Shadows Award-winning author Lee Battersby. Click through for more information.

Family Demons Takes Awards At Fright Night
Australian horror film Family Demons, directed by Ursula Dabrowsky, has won awards in the following categories at Fright Night Film Festival 2009. Click through for details.

Eneit Press To Launch Two New Books
Eneit Press would like to invite you to the launch of two new books: Life Through Cellophane by Gillian Polack, and In Bad Dreams Volume 2 edited by Sharyn Lilley. 4th October, at Conflux. Click through for RSVP details.

Eye Of Fire Issue #1
Brimstone Press has launched a new, free e-zine entitled Eye Of Fire. Issue #1 can be downloaded here. Subscribe to Eye Of Fire as a show of support while Black Magazine is being restructured. Angela Challis, Brimstone Press and Black Magazine Editor-in-Chief comments: "...With enough interest shown through free subscription to this e-zine ... Black (magazine) will be back!" Click through to subscribe.

Paul Haines' Slice Of Life
A man. A liver. A mind? Meet the mind of Paul Haines. Slice of Life contains seventeen glittering stories, dripping with twenty first century paranoia and anxiety - to be launched at Conflux 09, 29 August. Slice of Life is a fund-raising venture for the Paul Haines cancer fund. 100% of the cover price will help Paul Haines fight his cancer. Help give Paul Haines a slice of life. Click through to order.

Submitting News

If you have news about Australian and New Zealand Horror publishing and film, or news of professional development opportunities in the field, feel free to submit news to Talie Helene, AHWA News Editor. Just visit HorrorScope, and click on the convenient email link. (International news is not unwelcome, although relevance to Antipodean literary arts practitioners is strongly preferred.)

For information on the Australian Horror Writers' Association, visit

This AHWA NEWS DIGEST has been compiled, written, and republished in select Australian horror haunts by Talie Helene. Currently archived at the
AHWA MySpace page, and Southern Horror; hosted at the social networking sites Darklands and A Writer Goes On A Journey; and hosted by AHWA members Felicity Dowker, Brenton Tomlinson, Scott Wilson, and Jeff Ritchie (Scary Minds: Horror's Last Colonial Outpost).

If you would like to support the AHWA News effort by hosting a copy of the AHWA News Digest on your blog or website,
contact Talie to receive a fully formatted HTML edition of the digest by email.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Monday, September 14, 2009

Reviews and Comments

With thanks to Jennifer over at Et in arcaedia, ego, you really should read this article.

If you plan on sending me a book to review - read the article.

If you want me to critique your work - read the article.

If you plan to be a writer and send work to anyone other than your family or friends - read the article!

I have one difference from Josh Olson, the writer of the article, I will be happy to read your work, but I make no bones about being honest in my response. I say this because I've had a few writers who have taken umbrage with my responses. If you know what to expect from me, then it won't come as a surprise.

I'm not here to rip things to shreds. I'm here to try and help and to be honest. If you are the type of person to switch channels when someone starts pointing out festering boils hiding beneath layers of make-up and pretty cloth - then don't ask me to read your work.

If I don't like something - I'll say so, and still consider you my friend. If you don't like what I say and come back at me with childlike responses, that's okay, just don't bother me with your work ever again. I'm still willing to consider you my friend ;c)

I say all this for a few reasons, but the main one being people I know, or have met through the wonder that is the cybersphere, have asked me to read their work or review their book(s). And that trend is now increasing.

The first personally known author's work I reviewed was Shane Jiraiya Cummings in Gratia Placenti and then again Shane's efforts in putting together Black Box. Gratia is a class anthology put together, by invitation only, by Gill Ainsworth. At the time, I didn't know Gill and still rate the antho as one of the best I've read to date. For fans of short short fiction such as 52 Stitches, I strongly recommend getting hold of a copy of Black Box, but you'll note in the review, I still made mention of what I didn't like.

And it continued when I reviewed fellow AHWA member Alan Baxter. His response to my review of his first book RealmShift was somewhat downplayed (perhaps Alan can shed some light on how he felt about it). On his site he posted this short comment:

Overall a pretty good review – very thorough, well thought out and largely positive. That’s pretty much the best we can hope for in a review.

Yep - I was largely positive, but I did point out a lot of things I didn't like. Not just a bit here and there - there's quite a bit of it - see for yourself.

Then I sunk my teeth into Alan's second offering, MageSign. He was noticeably happier in his comment this time round:

It’s a good review, very thorough and honest. The best thing is that the reviewer decided that MageSign was an improvement on RealmShift and gave it 4 out of 5, which is always satisfying. If I can improve my craft with every book I write, I’ll be very happy.

You can read it here. Maybe Alan was a little happier as there is much less I have a go at here, but there's still a few things, and I don't think I'm overly backwards in coming forward. I can't ever remember being labelled a shrinking violet, and I'm only soft on the inside to me and mine ;c)

I've reviewed other books which are, or contain, work by people I know such as, Triangulation, Atrum Tempestas, Tainted, and Grants Pass. I have more on my desk such as Shadows, Olive Lemon, Jack of all Trades plus numerous zines containing stories from people I know. I'd like to think I'm honest in my appraisals. I'd hope I'm not straying too close to the bone with my comments. I hope people want me to continue to read their work and provide reviews they are happy to display.

In closing let me just say this, I'm not here to rip your masterpiece to shreds. I've been in crit groups where the sole intention of the critiquer was to be brutally honest to the point it was almost personal - and sometimes beyond that. I know sometimes I have crossed that line myself. I try not to now, but I'm guessing I still run it pretty close.

The difference here is that I look for everything I like and make sure to mention them. I do note all the things which really don't work for me as well, so in the end, you have a balanced and honest opinion.

So why mention all this? Because sooner or later, I'm going to read something by someone I know and I'm not going to like it, and I want the way I go about things to be out there for everyone to know beforehand. This has not been prompted by anyone's work I currently possess or am about to read - relax. It's only due to the fact that I have a large number of books and other things to read, and I know the people within the covers, and the knowledge that eventually, something won't sit quite right with me - and I really don't want to upset people.

Does that make sense?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still Alive

Hi all. Sorry I've been away for the past few days. To be perfectly honest, I just couldn't drag myself to the computer - there was no inner urging of any kind so I just left it alone.

Now I've logged on to find a huge amount of email (most of it not worth reading), replies to comments I'd made about the Ditmar awards which I cannot seem to reply back to - and therefore have to let it go (which is probably a good thing but I'm not overly happy about letting a self-righteous so-and-so have the last word - some people are very happy about the distance and safety the net allows them. Me, I like long distance driving so I'm very happy to speak to people face to face). Take a breath and let it go...

Digging Up The Past has been passed on again so I need to revisit it and then find a new home. I mention this as it's the first response I've had from an editor in ages.

What else - welcome to my two new cult members (and everyone else who is lurking in the shadows, or commenting for the first time).

Team Tomlinson is just about back up to full strength. My princess is close to fully fit, the lad is about 90% of the way there and I only have a small rasping left in the throat. My better half has managed to soldier on through all our ills and complaints like the wonder that she is - thank, honey.

I've let Inner Voice (yes, I decided to drop the 's') sit long enough. I need to make a final push on getting the first draft completed. I also need to update the AHWA markets and read a few books before the end of the month.

The plan is to do the markets immediately after posting this, and then do some writing. I'm hoping to get a couple of chapters knocked off after tonights Grand Prix. So, it's all back to normal and full steam ahead.

Congratulations to the newly elected AHWA committee members. With over 200 members nationwide, the organisation is becoming quite the place to meet and greet those of a similar dark bent, and is beginning to be heard in all the right literary circles. I'm sure under the guidance of the new committee, it shall continue to do so.

Time to get some work done. I have my Google Reader pointing out that I have over 106 new entries to read, but I dare not start there until I've at least updated the markets page or it will never get done...and then I won't get any writing done...and then no reading...

I'm going - speak soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WIP Wednesday

Another day of veging out as far as the reading and writing goes - not good. September's only 9 days old so there's plenty of time for me to turn it around. I haven't even updated the markets at AHWA yet this month - sick person still recovering here.

As far as the week that was in regards to Inner Voices, which I'm considering changing to Inner Voice - as it sounds less dramatic and less like a horror title. Opinions appreciated...

With the arrival of the subplot, I went back and reread the first 5 chapters where my character, who will become the saviour in the new subplot, dwelt in anonymity. I needed to see how much of him I actually revealed originally (not much), and what I can do to shape him into what I need.

Then I kind of got caught up in doing edits here and there and then just kept going and ended up doing little edits on the first 11 chapters. Chapter 12 and 13 are a little too fresh for me to be worrying about them now.

This was in no way the serious edits I intend to do once the first draft is finished, so don't think I managed to get through 11 chapters because they're all so great (although they're not bad - in my totally unbiased opinion). Seriously, there is way too much dialogue at the moment. The dialogue is needed, but I need to insert more descriptive narrative to break things up and create a greater overall picture - see, lots of work for me to do on the rewrite revision stage.

Sorry - tangent.

Back to the writing managed over the last week. Cue the bean...

An additional 3926 words were added, with 339 of them being due to the little edits of the first 11 chapters (told you they were little - lots of work still to come in the rewrite revision).

When added to the overall total, I now stand at -

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Going Round Again

We're all at different stages of being sick again in my house.

The little one has never really gotten over her cold from weeks ago. The lad is just about over a bout of tonsillitis. The better half has been crook-as-a-dog for the past week and is slowly coming out of it thanks to antibiotics, and now I'm starting to come down with something. It's a never ending bloody cycle!

I'll be glad when winter is gone and I can bake in 35C+ heat. I love summer!

On the writing front: as many of you alluded to (are you all writers or something?), I have had a plot twist/subplot smack me in the head. I was driving down to watch the lad play footy on the weekend and a thought occurred to me. It will require making a minor character's role a little bigger, and probably give me an extra chapter between the big climax and the resolution - one of those 'so now he thinks he's safe, we'll throw the minor loose end at him to pump up the adrenaline one last time' - but the difference here will be the unexpected resolution of that loose end - which, of course, will allow for further expansion of another character in the next book.

I've got a bit of writing done this week (a little over 3.6k at this point, final count sometime tomorrow in the WIP report), but gaming has side tracked me somewhat. For those of you who need to know, Australia won the second test at Lord's by an innings and 20-odd runs for a 2-0 series lead. At the end of the first session on day one in the third test (after being sent in to bat) Australia are 1-477 (good decision Strauss - not). Yes, I think I've sorted out this game and need to bump up the difficulty level but it is fun hitting Broad all around the ground...moving on.

I need to set aside some time to read. I'm finding the motivation a little hard at the moment because my current book for review is in PDF format. As e-readers are not plentiful within Australia, I'm stuck with reading on the laptop. Not a pleasant duty and with everyone sick at the moment, I'm lacking sleep. Reading off a screen has an almost ironclad guarantee to make me doze. Don't worry, Joan. I promised I'd have it read and reviewed during September, and so I shall.

Best part about work at the moment is the slight slowing down. Unfortunately everyone but me seems to be on holidays or attending conferences, or interstate for one reason or another, but this week is one of taking a breath before getting stuck into my major projects - which means I can get a little bit of writing done. Writing at work leaves more time for gaming at home...reading, I meant reading at home. ;c)

That's enough of an update from me at the moment. This blog is pretty much doubling as my journal at the moment, cataloguing my journey as a writer and not giving out a lot in the way of advice or tips. I haven't done a link salad in, like, forever. But this too will change. When I've finished the first draft of Inner Voices (IV), I will begin bringing together all the advice I was given while working with Gill Ainsworth of Apex fame. I will also be pulling out all the tucked away advice from my hero Pharo. The plan is to let IV (how's that for a cool shortening of a book title?) sit while I learn the technical bits behind writing that I've only got a loose grasp on at the moment. I intend to post the lessons and tips as I go, so we'll get back more towards the help in writing I was once more known for (by my hundreds of adoring fans).

Oh, one last thing, I've updated the links in my sidebar to show all the writer's blogs I frequent. Blogger has allowed me to easily import everything from my Google Reader which was nice - so go have a look at the names of the writers I read the blogs of, and if you're one of them, some reciprocated blog linkage love would be appreciated. Of course, if you're not listed and would like to swap links, I'm happy to sort that out as well - just drop me an email or leave a comment.

Peace Out (I don't know why I had a sudden urge to write that - sorry)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Father's Day Wrap Up

My family don't want me to write - I'm sure of it.

They all know I have a weakness for cute little Pokemon and other time wasting games like golf on the Wii. For Father's Day, I got Ashes 2009 for the Wii.

Last night I managed to do two things Ricky and the boys couldn't: I won in Cardiff (in under three sessions!) and I scored over 300 in the first innings at Lords. I managed zero reading or writing ;c(

Heading into the third session on day one of the second test, Australia has been bowled out for 320 and England are reeling at 4 for 70 odd. How will I ever get any writing done when things hang in the balance?

Okay, it's true I'm playing it on the easy level to figure out how to control the myriad of functions - it's quite an in depth and complex game - but an ass kicking is still an ass kicking. Cricketing world order has been restored, at least in my house ;c)

On top of that, further evidence of my family's attempts to keep me away from the keyboard include: a new micro SD chip for my daughter's old DS unit so I can hunt all the Pokemon I want when not playing cricket, and a sorely needed new step ladder so I can get additional jobs done around home and not lug around the big ladder (when not playing cricket or hunting Pokemon). Is it just me or is there a pattern forming here?

I hope all the dad's out there had a great day. Thank you to my lovely wife and kids for making my day as wonderful as always.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Can't Sleep

In the famous words of Robin Williams - it's oh two thirty in the morning. What's the oh stand for? Oh my God it's early!

Yes, it's 0233 here and my mind is running off on fuzzy and weird tangents when all I want it to do is shut down so I can go to sleep.

As it became obvious this wasn't going to happen, I got up and fired up the laptop (note to self: in the middle of winter, when you decide to work at stupid hours, put some pants on - my legs are bloody freezing!)

So, I went back and revisited my, you beaut big climax scene which I think is too short because it's missing the beginning third.

Some good news - the title of the first book came to me. One day you will all hopefully be able to purchase a copy of 'Inner Voices', Book one of the Nathan Steele series. (you'll have to imagine the trumpets and doves, voluptuous women gesticulating gently at the unfurling banner over head - you know, nothing too over the top)

More good news would be that I stopped obsessing over the length of the chapter and just finished writing it.

Bad news is, it currently sits as the second shortest chapter I've written, the first being...the first chapter. A fast start and a fast finish? Maybe...maybe I just need to let them sit and come back later with fresh eyes.

Which leads us nicely to some more good news...I'll be letting it sit where it is and come back to it later with fresh eyes...couldn't see that one coming could you? Oh, you did... :c(

Well, that's enough from me and it's good night from him, so because it's technically Sunday here, and therefore Father's Day in Australia, and I'm going to be tired and not feel like looking at a computer screen at all tomorrow, Happy Father's day to everyone out there.

Time for bed...

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [03.08.09-03.09.09]

The following digest of recent horror news is compiled from pieces published to HorrorScope and the Australian Horror Writers' Association website.

2009 AHWA AGM Notice
The Australian Horror Writers Association's Annual General Meeting (AGM) will take place in September, and all AHWA members are invited to attend and be involved in the organisation's future developments. 9 September 2009, 7:30 pm (EST), Venue to be confirmed (Melbourne metro area). Please contact AHWA Secretary Ian Mond for further info on the location of this year's AGM.

Family Demons Takes Awards At Fright Night

Australian horror film Family Demons, directed by Ursula Dabrowsky, has won awards in the following categories at Fright Night Film Festival 2009. Click through for details.

Eneit Press To Launch Two New Books
Eneit Press would like to invite you to the launch of two new books: Life Through Cellophane by Gillian Polack, and In Bad Dreams Volume 2 edited by Sharyn Lilley. 4th October, at Conflux. Click through for RSVP details.

Eye Of Fire Issue #1
Brimstone Press has launched a new, free e-zine entitled Eye Of Fire. Issue #1 can be downloaded here. Subscribe to Eye Of Fire as a show of support while Black Magazine is being restructured. Angela Challis, Brimstone Press and Black Magazine Editor-in-Chief comments: "...With enough interest shown through free subscription to this e-zine ... Black (magazine) will be back!" Click through to subscribe.

Paul Haines' Slice Of Life
A man. A liver. A mind? Meet the mind of Paul Haines. Slice of Life contains seventeen glittering stories, dripping with twenty first century paranoia and anxiety - to be launched at Conflux 09, 29 August. Slice of Life is a fund-raising venture for the Paul Haines cancer fund. 100% of the cover price will help Paul Haines fight his cancer. Help give Paul Haines a slice of life. Click through to order.

Dymocks Southland Bestselling Horror Titles For August ‘09
Dymocks Southland is a general bookshop in Cheltenham, Victoria, boasting an extensive range of genre stock. Click through for the top 10 bestselling horror titles for August 2009.

Shards and Shards: Damned and Burning
Shane Jiraiya Cummings' debut collection, Shards, has been published and is now available from Brimstone Press and selected bookstores in Australia. Every story in Shards is illustrated by Australian dark fantasy artist Andrew J. McKiernan. Coinciding with the release of Shards is the bonus e-chapbook, Shards: Damned and Burning. Shards: Damned and Burning can be downloaded (PDF) for free from the Brimstone Press website (click on the Shards page).

Thrill The World 2009 Perth
Perth zombie lovers and Michael Jackson fans are organising a zombie-themed dance off as part of the Thrill The World 2009 event. Organisers are inviting people to dress as zombies and dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as part of a simultaneous, worldwide Guinness World Record attempt. October 25, South Perth Foreshore. Click through for details.

Lovecraft Annual No 3
Lovecraft Annual No 3: New Scholarship on H. P. Lovecraft
has just been published by Hippocampus Press. Edited by S. T. Joshi, this volume includes essays from Australian writers Leigh Blackmore and Phillip A. Ellis.

Digital Fringe 2009 Open For Entries
Digital Fringe is an open access public arts festival that places contemporary screen based media in public locations. In keeping with the Fringe Festival charter, Digital Fringe is open access and accessible to emerging and established artists, particularly those working in screen based and new media. Click through for more details.

Aussiecon 4 Membership Rates From September 1, 2009

Aussiecon 4 have announced that the following membership rates will hold from 1 September 2009. Click through for details.

Festive Fear
Tasmaniac Publications presents FESTIVE FEAR! An anthology of original stories from some of the leading horror writers working in Australia today. Fourteen disturbing tales, that will make you wonder if Christmas really is something to look forward to?

Writers Workshop Of Horror
Writers Workshop Of Horror includes an unparalleled list of teachers, all experts in their fields of endeavor. Woodland Press assembled a dream team of writers, editors and professionals for this special project. The book focuses solely on honing the craft of writing. Click through for more details.

Shades Of Sentience Short Story Competition

The Shades Of Sentience short story competition is open to "horror, fantasy, science fiction, and anything in between." Click through for more details.

Worldshaker Shortlisted For Golden Inky Award
Richard Harland's Young Adult steam punk novel Worldshaker has been shortlisted for a Golden Inky Award. Harland's book is one of 20 youth literature books listed on the awards shortlist - announced on the State Library of Victoria's youth reading website on August 21. Click through for a list of nominees.

World Premiere Of Australian Film: Eraser Children at Fantastic Planet Film Festival

Fantastic Planet, Sydney’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival and Crumpler are proud to announce the festival’s opening night film: the world premiere of the Australian science fiction feature Eraser Children. The festival runs for eight days at Dendy, Newtown Cinema, from October 30 to Nov 6, 2009.

The Lifted Brow's Valcapella and Dwinn
The Lifted Brow is an Australian magazine of writing, art, and music. The magazine's recent midyear issue includes an ambitious eighty-minute audio drama by Brisbane writer Thomas Benjamin Guerney entitled "Valcapella and Dwinn".

LegumeMan's Underground Fiction Forum
Independent Australian publisher LegumeMan Books, known for titles that explore the dark and absurd, has recently launched a forum to discuss underground fiction and culture.

The Man Who Collected Psychos
In The Man Who Collected Psychos: Critical Essays on Robert Bloch, editor Benjamin Szumskyj gathers essays examining Robert Bloch’s novels, short stories and life, as well as the themes and issues explored in his influential canon. Featuring a Forward by Robert Hood. Available from McFarland Publications.

Jennifer Byrne Presents Monsters and Bloodsuckers
As part of the special Jennifer Byrne Presents series, Monsters and Bloodsuckers is slated to screen on the ABC at 10pm, Tuesday 8th of September. A special episode of First Tuesday Book Club, the half-hour programme will focus on the classic horror novels Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Werewolf Of Paris by Guy Endore, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Guest authors joining Jennifer Byrn, are noted horror and occult writer Leigh Blackmore, childrens' book writer Catherine Jinks, novelist Tara Moss, and novelist Will Elliott.

Submitting News

If you have news about Australian and New Zealand Horror publishing and film, or news of professional development opportunities in the field, feel free to submit news to Talie Helene, AHWA News Editor. Just visit HorrorScope, and click on the convenient email link. (International news is not unwelcome, although relevance to Antipodean literary arts practitioners is strongly preferred.)

For information on the Australian Horror Writers' Association, visit

This AHWA NEWS DIGEST has been compiled, written, and republished in select Australian horror haunts by Talie Helene. Currently archived at the
AHWA MySpace page, and Southern Horror; hosted at the social networking sites Darklands and A Writer Goes On A Journey; and hosted by AHWA members Felicity Dowker, Brenton Tomlinson, Scott Wilson, and Jeff Ritchie (Scary Minds: Horror's Last Colonial Outpost).

If you would like to support the AHWA News effort by hosting a copy of the AHWA News Digest on your blog or website,
contact Talie to receive a fully formatted HTML edition of the digest by email.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Review: This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams

My review of 'This Is Not A Game by Walter Jon Williams is now up over at HorrorScope - your home of all great book reviews - go have a look and if you like techno-thrillers, near future sci-fi, have fond memories of D&D, or like to learn the tools of the trade in writing a story, then do yourself a favour and go out and buy the book.

On my review scale I'm giving it a well deserved 4.4!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Good Day

Today has been a good day for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I added a touch over 2000 words to the current WIP - excellent! Except I've struck a strange obstacle. I've written, what seems to me, to be the middle third of a chapter first. I know what comes after, but the first bit is eluding me unless I want a chapter that is around half the size of all the others.

I know it comes down to just write the story, don't pad, and all that, but this is the major climax - and it all seems to be happening too fast! I've slowly increased the pace until the point where our hero has had the crap beaten out of him and he's just about to find himself in the firing line between the good guys and the arch nemesis, and then has to use his own cunning to defeat the bad guy, save himself, and the day, but I've arrived too quick! I've gotten caught up in the action and rattled it off. (please, no male jokes this time - I'm feeling sensitive and vulnerable).

So before I get him out of the pickle, I've let things cool down. I'll go back to it after a nights sleep and see where I can heighten the tension, make the beating a little more vivid, pack in the punches - so to speak.

Another reason it's been a good day is because Jack of all Trades by the wonderful K.C. Shaw arrived in my mailbox! The only downer to this is the pile-up of books which sit in front of it before I can read it. My 10 year old daughter is also eyeing it off (It would be okay for her to read, wouldn't it, KC? Hanging around with dark fiction writers makes me ask first...)

But the last writing-related reason it's been a good day is because the list of books standing between me and everything else I want to read has been reduced by one! I finished 'This Is Not A Game' by Walter Jon Williams. This was a good book, but I'm somewhat biased because I'm a gamer from way back - not a video game player - a D&D player. I was rolling dice and talking to myself long before there was an AD&D. It is what really got my creative juices flowing in the first place and what I've tapped into to get back into characters heads ever since - but I digress...

This book has characters who are gamers, and the protagonist is also a writer who eventually switches from writing fiction to reality-infused-with-online games - these things are huge and have multi-million dollar budgets. But part of the appeal is because Williams also feeds out some mechanics on how to write a fictional story in the action/thriller genre. It's all pretty cool and that's just the first Act of the book (yep, it's even written in three distinct acts like all good little writers are taught). From there, the D&D aspects move more to the background and the obvious writing lessons disappear all together, but the story really takes off (which is more writing lessons in itself).

Okay - wait for more to be posted, like an actual review, on HorrorScope, tomorrow, or maybe Saturday if I don't find enough time tomorrow.

And totally not related to writing, but very cool anyway, I solved two major headaches at work today that have been hanging around my neck like a millstone for the last few weeks. The annoying bit is that I gave the guys the solutions and work arounds sometime back but nobody believed me until they implemented the suggested fixes today! There's some old saying about soaring with turkeys, and something about eagles - can't remember, but I think you know what I mean and it definitely applies to the Thanks Giving guest's of honour that I work with!

Only one major headache left to solve and then I can start making my own migraines by rolling out the first of two major projects I need to get done before Christmas this year :c(

2010 will definitely see more time for writing if I get everything right, so it'll be worthwhile - at least that's what I keep telling myself ;c) (there, I tied the last good bits into having something to with writing - kind of).

Time to catch some Pokemon - oh, is that the time...maybe just time to get some sleep instead.

Here's hoping you had/have a great Thursday as well!

Writer Appreciation

Writing is a lonely vocation so any excuse to say think you to those people out there who help make it a little less lonely is something that should be encouraged.

Hence Cate's blog, which was inspired by the post over at Nathan Bransford's blog, and which has inspired a few others to take up the baton should be applauded. And now here is my effort in spreading my appreciation (warm wet towelettes can be found just inside the entrance, please clean up before you leave).

I have always looked to Cate Gardner as the iconic 'Mother' of the loosely affiliated writing group I've become a part of. It has nothing to do with age, or an Oedipus complex, it has everything to do with a writer who has produced a large body of seriously impressive work who still takes the time to encourage and interact with other writers, especially if they're new to the game. She always has a nice word to say, and if you're lucky enough for her to have a look at your work as a beta reader, then her comments are insightful, encouraging and helpful.

If Cate is the 'Mother' then I look to Aaron Polson as the 'Father' of the group. All of the writers I'm going to mention have serious talent, so to keep listing that will get repetitive very quickly, but Aaron has a knack of creating vivid and detail sensory narrative which draws the reader in so completely that physical reactions to written words are common place. He has taken the time to read a few pieces of mine and my work has become better for it. His advice and blog posts are informative, sometimes funny, and often allow a light bulb to appear ever so briefly above my head.

Jamie Eyberg, the irreverent Natalie Sin, the zany Carrie Harris, Danielle Ferries, Felicity Dowker, Barry Napier, L.R. Bonehill, Jodi Lee, the other Kate's (Taylor & Shaw), the man with the amazing August - Jameson T Caine (congrats once more, buddy), the eternally young Rebecca Nazar, Alan Baxter, Anton Gully, Laura Eno, Alan Davidson, Jason Fischer, everyone at AHWA, Joan De La Haye, Benjamin Solah, and David Such are the usual suspects who, along with "Mum and Dad", tend to leave comments on this blog and give me the encouragement to go on. With all these cyber friends, who all know the trials and self doubt a writer goes through, writing doesn't seem like such a lonely profession.

Every single one of these people have written something, somewhere, which has amazed me. I read a lot of new writers work as part of my slushing duties, and I read a fair amount of newly published work through my reviewing, and it seems obvious to me that all of these people have an immense talent which will see the light of day to the greater public through a medium of their choice in the not too distant future.

Reading back over this impressive list, it would be remiss of me to not specifically point out a few people who have, and in some cases, still do, have (or had) a big impact on my writing. Amy Treadwell, my guru - Pharosian, and Gill Ainsworth.

I am proud to name all of them as my friends!

And I'd like to take this opportunity to say to those of you who visit and lurk in the background, who may have only commented once or twice, or who have nothing to do with writing but have found my ramblings somewhat entertaining (I believe they now have a vaccine for that), a great big thank you and your presence is also appreciated.

Okay, before I get all teary-eyed and start pasting pink all over the blog again, I think that's enough appreciation for one post.

Please don't forget to deposit your soiled towelettes in the receptacle on the way out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A New Type Of Progress Counter For WIP Wednesday

I give you the Happy Bean. It is a happy creature who is always to be found with a beer in hand and proud of the words it has so far committed to paper/binary. It's count is always at 100% because he has totally completed all the words it claims to have completed at the time of reporting.

As it is more than happy to just let the story run its course, there is no target and therefore we are always meeting expectations. We will get there when we get there - wherever 'there' happens to be...

All I'll be adding is a weekly word count on WIP Wednesday, which this week stand at:- 2628 words, for a current overall total of...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is This A Problem

My first instincts tell me maybe, but then the old saying of 'a story takes as long as it takes to tell the whole story' rings through the vacant space which I refer to as my mind.

I'm going to struggle to make 50k in my current WIP. A little while back, Cate mentioned she was struggling to find wordage and thought I'd have no problems reaching my goal. At the time I said I didn't think that was the case. Tonight I did a new outline of the last third of the book based on a new scene I had an idea for. I managed to re-script chapter 11 entirely, reworked chapter 12, and added a new chapter 13.

Total plot now plays out over 16 chapters instead of 15. Current average length of each chapter sits at 2100 words (some longer, some shorter). That math seems to suggest a first draft of 33600k, somewhat short of my target...

I know I want to go back and add in some additional layers, so I don't really see an issue with being able to legitimately move the wordage up close to 40k.

So I guess that's what I'm really looking at as my first target. I have a couple of other scenes which may need to be played out in the beginning of the book, but I'm not sure if they're needed and won't really know until the first draft is done.

The question I'd like to ask you: Should I drop my target at this point? If yes, should it go to 33.6k or 40k? If no, then do I stop and continue to work the outline to expand the scenes I think I need?

Am I thinking too much and should I just shut up and write the story, and who really cares about wordage and percentages anyway?

Did I just answer my own questions?

So I've done some writing last night and again tonight, as well as the new outline which is fairly detailed. I've also managed to complete another third of my current book-for-review. I'll finish 'This Is Not A Game' tomorrow and write up a first draft review (hint: it's a good book to this point), and then round out this weeks WIP total with a couple more hours on the laptop.

If things continue as they are, Nathan Steele, Book One (still looking for catchy title), will have it's first draft complete by the end of September. It's something to aim for...