Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gathering Speed

Today during my insanely hectic *cough* day at the 'real' job, I "found" some time to do a little research.

For the past few days I've been giving Inner Voice (IV) a nudge (playing with some line edits, marking things I want to change, having brainstorming session on characters and how to improve them). With just playing on the peripherals, in only about half the chapters, I've already added nearly a thousand words. Only one chapter actually decreased in size (and that wasn't by a huge amount).

I have quite a few notes at home I'm yet to incorporate. Like the post title suggests - I'm gathering speed.

Even while writing this post I've come to a decision about a minor character who is now going to change sex, learn new skills, become a love interest conflict, and open up possible threads into the paranormal. Along with the ramping up of another minor character, I guess I'm totally into gathering together the Scooby gang, or building the team - as it's referred to in "How to write" posts on many other websites. This will all work out nicely when I write the new final two chapters (I did mention in earlier posts how I wasn't happy with the ending, didn't I?).

But I digress from the mental toils started today, which is not unusual when I get started on IV.

My research was all about creating an agent list. I'm a long way from finished but I have so far gathered two dozen links (or so) I need to collate and further expand on to arrive at my final agents submission list.

I expect that by the time I've finished editing and polishing the manuscript, I'll have a fully prepared stable of agents to query, and hopefully a nailed down log-line-come-elevator pitch, query, and synopsis (stop laughing).

I have a few items each agent/agency must meet for me to consider submitting to them:

  • They must accept YA submissions but also handle darker and edgier stuff.
  • They must accept email queries
  • They must have a track record of exposing new talent
  • They must state their willingness to work editorially with clients
  • They must have a decent stable of already signed writers
  • They must not have any reading fees or associations with editorial businesses
  • If not in the US or UK, they must have international connections with a proven track record
Once I've done my initial electronic research, I'll be researching YA writers who write in same/similar genres as my offering as I'll be targeting the agencies who represent them as well.

As I move into this new phase of the writing journey, I'll post my findings, recommendations and experiences. I'll not be posting any negative comments as I'm keen not to burn any bridges at this embryonic stage of my attempting to leave the nest (hows that for mixing metaphors?).

On the Dark Pages Volume I front, things have slowed to a crawl. We have over half the ToC stowed away and ready to go to publishing. The last few stories are taking a little longer to square away, but I'm sure it will all come together in the not-too-distant-future.

So how's your day been?

Monday, February 22, 2010

It's Just Not Writing

No it isn't, it's cricket.

Not a lot happening on my writing front, or back, at the moment so I'll dribble about my normal life. For those of you who have been playing along at home, the team I'm playing for this year, ATCO B Grade (that would be in PDCA Grade 4 - confused yet?) is doing pretty good.

The season is played in two halves, on either side of Christmas. We play 14 games. We won five out of the first seven with only one of those losses being a complete aberration, the other was unfortunate and by less than 10 runs. We began the second half of the season in a comfortable third spot, but a fair bit behind the two front runners (due to our aberration).

We have currently worked our way through five and a half games of the remaining seven. One round was cancelled due to heat (points shared for everyone), we lost another game which we really shouldn't have, and then proceeded to win the next three, including beating the two teams sitting above us (in back-to-back games no less).

The game we are currently playing is half over. We play two day games (Saturday - Saturday) in which you are entitled to two innings per side if you can fit them in. Sixty five overs must be bowled in a day so if you can get the opposition out quickly enough, you have an opportunity to earn extra points. We have already gotten our opposition out and have passed their score. We're now looking for all those extra points to make up for lost ground due to the aberrations and mis-steps earlier in the season.

Since finishing on Saturday, I've discovered that second place has decided now was a good time for an aberration of their own and look to be going down to a side ranked well below them on the table. If they lose, we already have enough points from this game to slip into second spot. The race to finish top may not be over yet.

The pleasing thing, well, one of the pleasing things, is that I've not had my first choice team on the park for most of the season. We always seem to be two or three (or more) first choice players short. This has given me the wonderful (and yet horrible) task of picking a finals side from a large pool of players. Some people will be disappointed on missing out, and one or two may take umbrage with my final selections. Not a lot I can do about that, but some of those who have been asked to go away and prove themselves during the season have done (or are doing) what's asked of them. Others are (possibly) taking their selection for granted - they may be in for a very rude shock if performances don't pick up.

Whichever way it goes, people will be disappointed and I'll be sorry to be the one to cause that. I've rethought my finals team three times in the last week. I've given up trying to second guess how it'll end up. It's a much harder job than trying to select stories for an anthology.

We have three weeks of the regular season left to play. We finish of the current game this coming Saturday and then play the last minor round game the two Saturdays after that (against the team who handed us our aberration). March 20th is the beginning of Semi-Final weekend. For finals, we play Saturday/Sunday. A whole game over one weekend! Not good for those of us on the wrong side of 40. If we win, we do it again the following weekend in the Grand Final, once more on Saturday and Sunday. After that, I'm ready to curl into a foetal position and forget about the world for a week.

So wish us luck, cross any and all anatomy bits capable of such an action, and prepare yourself for more confusing posts on a sport many of you overseas readers have no idea about and even less interest in - but stay true--April is not far away and I hear the muse has already begun the homeward journey...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Long Overdue Links To Good Stuff

Excellent advice from Elana over at Query Tracker on trimming the fat in your manuscript. Take note of the post-it note tip...

Via the filtration that is communal blogging (snatched from Alan Baxter who was alerted by Cat Sparks who took it from Jay Lake's journal), I give you the The larval stages of the common American speculative fiction writer. Also from Alan, I was alerted to these two pages of interesting aids/rules in writing fiction: Page 1 Page 2.

Monica Valentinelli writes an interesting piece all new and emerging writers of dark fiction should take a squiz at.

I've been thinking lately that I've been a very bad online community member. I've not been doing the blog rounds, I've not been commenting a lot, I've not been posting a lot - and then I found this. Oh, yes! Bring on the crickets.

Locus Online has released their 2009 recommended reading list. Some excellent choices and plenty of Aussie flavour. (Must look into how you get a book in front of these guys so we have a chance of getting Dark Pages on the 2010 list).

This requires no explanation. It is so true. And funny.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still Ticking

I'm still here.

We're almost there. I think we have two-thirds of the anthology edited and squared away. Not long now until we go into the production stages. Very cool.

My mind is drifting back to Inner Voice and I'm making copious amounts of notes on what I want to add, need to change and have to revise - all good stuff.

We're also about to enter our third heatwave for the summer. 35C and above for the end of this working week and continuing in the high 30's for the weekend. Normally we have a week long blast of hot once a summer but this season it just keeps coming. Personally, I like the heat. I much prefer it over the cold but even I've just about had enough.

I want the end of March to hurry up and arrive - the end of the real heat season, the end of cricket season, the anthology will be done and hopefully for sale (and hopefully flying out the door), my 42nd birthday will be a distant memory, and I can get on with getting some real writing done.

Anyone want to lay bets that come the end of March, I'll still be wondering when my writing year is going to begin....

I think I need a holiday. In fact, I think I could do with two!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Sad Day

Jodi Lee alerted me to this one.

My wife and I have watched The Deadliest Catch almost religiously over the past few years. We regularly watch reruns and have developed our favourites among the boats and crews who brave the Bering Sea. It was with much sadness that we heard about the passing of the Cornelia Marie's Captain Phil Harris at the way too young age of 53 after having had a stroke a week ago.

Our thoughts go to his family, to the crew of the Cornelia Marie, and to all who knew him personally and to the millions who got to know him through the show.

As Jodi rightly stated - it just won't be the same.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


How true is this?
The problem I have is the first sentence - 'It's not all bad.' Being a writer tends to make soul searching a downward spiralling experience: am I good enough; is my work good enough; am I actually improving; why do I bother...that is bad.

I've not written a lot this year. I've not read a huge amount either. Yes, I've been working on the Dark Pages antho for quite some time now but I'm at a stage where I make overall decisions - most of the work is being done by my copy editor (who is a God send).

During all this soul-searching time, I keep coming back to the thought that I'm kidding myself and I should just bite the bullet and call an end to the farce. The saying is, "Writer's write" and I'm not writing so the conclusion is pretty self explanatory.


Inner Voice is still tugging at my brain. Last night I realised I needed a new chapter and a new ending (I've known about needing a new end for a while but I think I found one last night). I already know I need to expand on a couple of character arcs. I've come up with a couple of new problems for my MC to solve with ingenuity and common household items. I've even come up with the ways he could solve them (a couple for each so the first attempt may not always work or work as expected). The overall result should be an increase in tension, a better resolution for the MC, a closer tie with the love interest, a chance for a little bit of humour, and a better highlighting of this kids overall abilities. Good things.

I don't think I'll ever do an editor gig again. I can't seem to break from this project and spend time on my work. The desire just isn't there, and I'm self aware enough to know that it's because I can work on only one major project at a time, even if I'm not doing a huge amount of the primary project at that time. I need an uninterrupted flow from inspiration to perspiration. If I worked on Inner Voice now, and was then required to reread a Dark Pages story and make editorial decisions, I'd quickly loose the want to go back to Dark Pages or the inspiration to work on Inner Voice. Result = nothing gets done.

So I'll continue with Dark Pages and continue to not be writing at this moment in time (there, I'm owning that decision). When the antho is done, I'll take a break as suggested by many of you. I'll get some reading done. I'll potter around the house and bang some tools together. When I can't stop creating new scenes for Inner Voice (inside my head or on note paper), I'll come back to it, and then I'll be a writer again.

Biggest issue with that is the total lack of material that will give me for regular blog posts. I tend to only blog about the writing side of my life and the lessons I learn as I go forward (at least I hope it's forward). Most other writers understand the limiting nature of this and either philosophise about writing or find humorous antidotes or comment on a broader range of topics. Not sure which way I'll go with this.

Suggestions for great current affairs sites appreciated.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Apparently the Sun Shines Out of My...

I'm guessing I now have your attention ;c)

The wonderfully talented, very beautiful, and obviously full of good taste Ms Danielle Ferris has bestowed upon me the 'Ray of Sunshine' award.

Isn't it pretty, gum boots and all!

Yes, it's doing the rounds and just about everyone in my small circle of writing friends already has one. Yes, I could do the same as Aaron and include all you lurkers out there and just nominate everyone. Yes, I could nominate Anton as we all get a great kick out of his responses to such things.

But I won't.

I'm going to award it to two people who have supported me for a long time in my writing. Neither have a blog so they will not be able to pass this award on but both give me supportive comments on a regular basis.

I call to the stage my wonderful wife, Jodi. The amount of hours she puts up with me being secluded in a fantasy setting of my own creation, my deteriorating memory of what I'm supposed to be doing in the 'real world', my odd way of looking at things, and my continual gazing at passersby while we're out shopping - among all manner of other odd writerly things. In all this she remains confident that one day I'll get it right and we'll be able to retire to the country due to my writing (ah, the dream).

Secondly, I call to the stage my daughter, Tyarna. The first thing I had published by an editor I didn't know was because of her encouragement that it was good - and funny. Mind you, she was only seven at the time but her good taste was already blossoming. She continues to be proud that her dad is a writer, and has begun to take up the pen/keyboard in an effort to write her own fantasy tales. The fact that she's started writing long fiction thirty years before I decided to may mean she'll get that book deal well before me - which is okay, because then she'll be able to afford to look after her mum and dad in their twilight years (and who knows, maybe I'll get the inside track to my own publishing contract through her agent...)

Review: The Price by Alexandra Sokoloff

Shock horror, I've not only read something, I've reviewed it!

And it was good.

The review is over at HorrorScope for your viewing pleasure.

Very Cool

I've seen a few of my writer friends take up this challenge so I figured 'What the hell. I'd love to know what little known author I'm supposed to be like' - and then the results came in:

I am:
Arthur C. Clarke
Well known for nonfiction science writing and for early promotion of the effort toward space travel, his fiction was often grand and visionary.

Which science fiction writer are you?

Very cool

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I've been very selfish recently in regards to my writing - not the actual sitting down and penning a new story, because, well, I haven't done any writing yet this year - not really. I've started two new short stories in 2010 but they currently languish in the WIP file and the sheen has lost its lustre.

I've not read a great deal. I've finally started on a book I've been meaning to read and review for sometime but that is going very slowly and it's of no fault of the book. The opening passages are wonderfully descriptive but I'm just not ready within myself to fall into another world.

I've not been big on interacting with other bloggers. I still read all the blogs of writer friends around the world so I know what they've been up to, how much snow they've had and what their current WIP is, but I've not commented often.

I'm skimming over industry blogs. Agent blogs have some wonderful advice but I'm not interested in reading it at the moment.

I'm in a bit of a lull. I'm steadily working through getting the Dark Pages anthology ready as and when required but other than that, I'm not really doing anything with writing.

I'm easing off the accelerator which I had pressed firmly to the floor over the past three years. I'm taking a breather, letting things settle.

I'm not going to set any goals, or rather, I'm cancelling the goals I mentioned only a month ago and just allowing things to go where they please.

Of the now non-goals, a few are still going to happen. Dark Pages will obviously still be going ahead and I still need to do what an editor needs to do to get that done. Inner Voice still needs revising so that will still get done. I'm booking time off for NaNo so that will still get done.

Everything else can take care of itself if it wants to. I'd like to go to WorldCon, I'd like to create my editing bible, I'd like to create some new stories. Good on them if they happen - not the end of the world if they don't.

It's all about me at the moment and my total lack of desire to sit down and write. I think outside influences have a lot to do with this and come the end of cricket season, this may change (I hope this changes), but forcing myself to sit and write at the moment is producing half baked ideas and lots of dribble, so it's not a helpful solution. Like everything else, this will pass.

In the end, I'm a writer - and writers write, but right now I feel like the longest em dash in history.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Working With An Editor

Nobody knows the look and feel of your story better than you. Nobody knows exactly what you meant better than you...except the editor who accepts your story.

The purchasing editor will "get" the inner gem that is lying under the semi-polished version you sent them. Yes, you've spent a long time going through it, making sure the punctuation and grammar is as good as you know how to make it, restructuring awkward sentences, removing repeated phrases, and killing babies as required. For every conceivable method of measuring things, you have polished your story to a high sheen--and yet it comes back from the accepting market with changes, both requested and suggested.

And more often than not, writers accept the changes, agonise over sentence restructuring, and find clever ways to say what we said in the first place, only a little more clearer.


Some writers believe the editor must know better than they as why else would they be in the position of Editor. Some accept the changes and then reread the story and find it is either better or, at the very least, no worse than the baby they'd originally sent. Some writers don't care and are ready to accept any changes so the story can finally find a home and get published.

Personally, I think it's a little of all of this, but I don't think it's all true either (I'm certainly no better than the writers in this anthology-but I believe my copy editor has a great deal more knowledge in the presentation of the English language than almost anyone I've ever met...argue a point at your own peril).

We send work to critique groups, friends, other writers, et al, so we can get feedback and make subtle changes to move the story forward. Rare is the time when we go back to previous versions because we've moved too far from what we considered a brilliant idea. The creation of a story is all about evolution and about getting it out to appreciative readers. Getting paid is a bonus for everyone, except the professional writer who needs to pay this months rent.

If you are one of the few who believe that your work is exceptional as it is, if you reject suggested changes on principal as you believe it will ruin the underlying message you're trying to get out into the world - then stop sending your stories to editors. Publish them on your own blog or website. If you want to get into mainstream zines then stop being precious.

The editor and the magnificent people who work with them in reading, accepting, and in suggesting possible changes to your story are your final critique group. They want to publish your story and may even want to give you money for the honour they are giving you. Unless you have a rock-solid reason for not accepting a change, and can explain it better than 'It's just not how I saw it', then accept the suggestions or requests. If it doesn't change your voice as a writer (and a good editor would not try to do that), then accept the changes.

I've been lucky so far. The authors I'm working with are all very professional and the minor changes they've knocked back have been for very specific reasons, which, when explained in a clear and concise manner, make sense. Our editing process will be fairly quick if things keep moving as they are. And really, why wouldn't it? We purchased the story because we loved it in its originally presented form. We are not suggesting huge structural changes or major plot deviations.

So, if you've gone to the trouble of following the guidelines, formatting correctly, polishing a story to within an inch of its life and waited the long wait to finally gain an acceptance - why would you baulk at the final hurdle when an editor suggests a change? Remember, they like your story. They wouldn't have offered to buy it otherwise. They are only attempting to show it in its very best light. And, if nothing else, remember that every part of the writing to publishing process is subjective. Your name will be on the story, but the editor's name will be on the cover of the book, and if it's badly presented, it will be the editor (and probably the publisher) the who receives the most mud.

We all want to get great stories out there to be read and fawned over. It takes a partnership to accomplish that in a traditional sense. Let's work together and produce the best damn stories read by anyone. Now stop reading this blog and get back to writing!

Good luck with your submissions.

First Round Edits - Done

We here in the trenches we call Dark Pages Volume One, to be released early this year by Blade Red Press, have passed another milestone. We have completed reading and editing the ToC - the first time round.

We believe all the major changes, punctuation, grammar, character nicknames, English versus Americanisms, etc have been decided, pointed out, and the suggested changes, well,er, have been suggested.

I rush to point out that this is not an Australian anthology, and so I'm not aligning everything into Australian English. Authors from all over the world have their own way of looking and describing things and we've tried to stay true to the original visions where at all possible. We've even kept the spelling in line with the author's country of birth - to this point.

I can safely say, this collection is just getting better and better as we go through it.

Second round edits (this is where the authors send back manuscripts telling us how right or wrong we are in our suggestions) have started coming in and we're now moving through those as of this week. Another week or two and they will all be ready, signed off on, and approved to be left in the loving care of the publisher.

Not long now!

Onward (if you're American), or onwards (if you're English/Australian).

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [18.01.10-31.01.10]

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

Blood, Boggarts and Battlestars: An Introduction to Speculative Fiction with Margo Lanagan
Come to the New South Wales Writers Centre, and dig around in the three genres that make up spec fic today: science fiction, fantasy and horror. Tutor Margo Lanagan is passionate about genre fiction, and keen to impart this love of the fabulous to her students. Lanagan explains how she has crafted a hands-on course to get students writing in genre right away. "This workshop will be a learn-by-doing experience. There won’t be a lot of theory; instead I’ll send you off into space, or the dark forest, or into the murderer’s arms, to see what you encounter, to see what you find and bring back." New South Wales Writers Centre, Saturday 6 March, 10am – 4pm.

Writing Imaginary Worlds with Richard Harland
Do you have ideas for invented worlds and alternative realms? Perhaps you should be writing in the imaginative genres of speculative fiction. The New South Wales Writers' Centre has just the course for you! Fantasy, science fiction and horror not only demand more imagination than other genres but also a high level of narrative technique. This workshop shows how to turn your imaginative ideas into a fully fleshed-out story – strategies for involving the reader in another world, conveying foreground and background at the same time, ‘defining’ a mystery, building to a climax … and not forgetting the very important art of pitching to a publisher! New South Wales Writers Centre, Sunday 9 May, 10am – 4pm.

Eclecticism #11
Eclecticism #11 is up and running, and ready to download for free from the website. Issue #11 features the haunting theme 'Ghost Story' and the work of: Keith Nunes, Myra King, Mark Smith-Briggs , Trost, Lynley Stace, Nicholas Deigman, Allan Wilson, E. Armanious, Chantel Schott, and featured artist Katie Ryan.

Aurealis Awards Winners
The Aurealis Award winners for 2009 were announced at the thirteenth annual Aurealis Awards ceremony at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane on Saturday 24 January 2010. Click through to view a complete list of winners in all categories, and links to down-loadable Judges Reports.

Continuum 6 - Future Tense
The killer robots are beating down the front door while the mutant hordes gather at the back; your emotional inhibitor is on the fritz again and your computer has started calling you "Dave"; the world outside is a burning wasteland, but that's OK, there's an ice age right around the corner; so climb into your nutrient tank and get comfy - it's going to be a lovely apocalypse. This year’s guests of honour include: futurist writer and virtual reality pioneer Mark Pesce (Hyperpeople, ABC’s New Inventors) and Aurealis-award winning author Kim Westwood (The Oracle, The Daughters of Moab). Panel discussions, workshops, readings and more. Continuum 6 are host to the awards night for the Chronos Awards for excellence in Victorian science fiction, fantasy and horror in 2009. ether Convention Space, 26-28 February.

Victorian Writers Centre Upcoming Events & Year-Long Programs
The Victorian Writers Centre are offering a range of professional development and creative writing courses and workshops. Select highlights include Hook a Publisher with a Great Proposal Masterclass with Sheila Hollingworth; Inside Publishing & Editing – A Head Start weekend workshop with Christine Nagel; Year of SF & Fantasy with Paul Collins; Year of the Novel – Advanced with Andrea Goldsmith. For the full program, see

JUMP National Mentoring Program for Young and Emerging Artists
Are you a creative, young Australian on the cusp of a great artistic career? You’ve got the talent, the vision and the drive it’s going to take – but do you have the professional skill set, one on one support and national network to match? JUMP can make sure that you do. Applications to be a mentee or mentor in the inaugural JUMP program in 2010 must be submitted to Youth Arts Queensland by 5pm (Brisbane time), Friday 26 February.

Hugo Awards Nominations
The Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. They were first awarded in 1953, and have been awarded every year since 1955. The 2010 Hugo Awards will be presented in Melbourne, Australia during Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. Members of Aussiecon 4 who joined before February 1, and members of Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, are eligible to nominate people or works from 2009 in various categories. Nominations for the 2010 Hugo Awards will close 13 March.

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.