Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of 08

Today started on a downer - Too late The Rain has been rejected.

Some nice comments and one that completely contradicted earlier feedback. Isn't this industry wonderful.

I won't be changing it though. She'll go back out the door early in the new year.

So the rejection of a piece I think should be published has dampened my enthusiasm to write today, which means my work for 2008 has finished and therefore the end of year post can now be penned.


Biggest achievement this year has been the completion of the first year in my Advanced Diploma of Art for Professional Writing. It was a huge surprise to not only pass, but to pass with Credits and Distinctions.

I gained "writing employment" with HorrorScope, SA50s+, and Black magazine. HorrorScope has published a dozen or so of my reviews, while five of my reviews have been published in the first three issues of Black (another three to be published next month). I had five articles published in SA50s+. I am also "working" as a slush reader for an Australian publication.

On the fiction front, I've had four pieces accepted. "Lounge Sweet" and "Service Call" were accepted in February for a British erotic anthology to be published in May 09. "Winged Shepherd of Innocence" was accepted in October at Fear & Trembling to be published sometime in 09, and "Murky Depths" was accepted at 52 Stitches to be published on June 7th 09.

I've written 5 new short stories this year which are all currently out on submission.

I worked with the critique group called The Prose Nest at Authors by Design and met some wonderful writers before time became ridiculously tight and I had to give it away. While there I work shopped four of my new stories and four of the stories I wrote last year. I think all of them have improved because of this interaction. It also allowed me to meet Pharosian, a writer of unique talent and a critiquer of exceptional ability - a definite bonus. We still work together on occasion and I consider myself lucky to be able to call this particular writer my friend.

I continue to work with Amy Treadwell, an emerging writer of speculative fiction I expect to be published in the longer format in the not-to-distant-future. Amy and I have a solid working relationship which I know improves my writing and hopefully has some positive impact on her own.

I've read 27 novels this year, numerous issues of print magazines, and countless issues of online publications. I haven't read this much since I was a nurse working night duty.

I created and continue to maintain the Market Hive database for AHWA. I also had input into the creation of the first AHWA critique group.

I came to the conclusion my first completed manuscript "Tigers Eye" was a good learning experience but nowhere near good enough to ever again see the light of day. One day I might rewrite it, but that day is a long way off.

I began writing "Newland" in July 08 after visiting Victor Harbor with my family. A pensioner working in the information centre told us the story of the first settlers in the area, which fired off an idea for a story. That story has slowly grown to become a fully fleshed out historical novel with a decidedly dark side. It currently stands at a touch under 20,000 words. Obviously the first draft won't be finished by the end of the year (unless I can write 75,000 words in 10 or so hours - but it would be a long shot), so I need to set a realistic and attainable goal for completing it. Goal setting has been something else I've learned a bit about this year. For "Newland" the goal will be to have the first draft completed by the end of April. I will let it sit during May. I will begin polishing and sending out for critique by July 09 - 12 months after starting it.

I currently have 28 books on my "to read" bookshelf, 11 of which I received for Christmas.

I began to make connections with other writers at a similar stage in their writing career. The importance of this for all new writers cannot be overstressed. Writing is a lonely enough vocation without forcing yourself to forgo interaction with other writers of similar skill. Family is important but they will never truly understand what it means to have a need to write. You must be able to interact with others who intimately understand that addiction.

Cate, Aaron, Jamie, Felicity, David, Ms Sin, Ben, and the many others who comment occasionally on my blog and whose blog's I regularly visit - I wish you nothing but the very best of success in everything you do during 09.

To everyone who visits my little bit of the cybersphere - thank you for reading and for driving my counter over the 5500 mark. I posted a whole 38 posts in 2006 over a period of about six months. This year I've tried to be a little more regular with my posts resulting in over 350 posts - almost one a day which is pretty good seeing how I don't post most weekends.

I'd like to think a good number of my posts this year have dealt with my mandate of providing information about writing. I hope many of you found my posts amusing/educational, or simply engaging enough to keep you coming back. Hopefully there will be more of the same next year.

I'd also like to thank those established writers out there who have allowed me to interact with them. In no particular order: Alexandra Sokoloff, Polly Frost, Shane and the rest of the gang from Black and HorrorScope, Stuart Mayne, Stephen Dedman, and David Wellington.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my family, particularly my wife, Jodi, for all the support they've shown me this year. It can't be easy to have dad/husband disappear into the study for long periods of time to bang away on the keyboard about people and places only he can see - and not have much remuneration to show for it. Jodi has celebrated my small successes with me, and has proudly told her friends that her husband is a writer. She has been disappointed with each rejection but is quick to bolster my ego back to a position where I can resubmit that work elsewhere.

Thank you, my love.

So it is to 2009 I look with the same determination I faced the beginning of 2008, but I am (I hope), a little wiser and a little more skilled in the craft. My goals will be fewer.

I would still like to win a competition so I will enter at least three
I will finish Newland
I will pass the second year of my diploma
I will continue to circulate my current batch of stories
I will write at least three new short stories
I will get at least four acceptances
I will go to the writers conventions held in Adelaide if I can afford it.
I will read at least two books a month
I will continue to write reviews for HorrorScope and Black
I will keep my blog updated

Actually that seems like quite a lot. The diploma and writing Newland are my two main priorities. The rest will take care of themselves.

Submitting to competitions requires I write new shorts so that should take care of a couple of points. Continuing to circulate my current stories is a given as is updating my blog. If I continue to improve in the craft, the acceptances will come. Reading is a requirement of giving reviews and of being a writer. See - most of my goals are natural extensions of what I'm already doing. Even writing Newland is an extension as I need to write a novel as part of year three and four of my diploma.

In the end, by 2012, I should be skilled enough, and polished enough, to be a professional writer. Professional means I should be earning a living at it. That's the ultimate goal.

That's it for me for 2008.

See you next year.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Year Update

New Year is approaching and I'm finding it harder to sit for long periods of time. The pain in my legs is getting hard to take so I tend to do my writing first and then blog as the last thing before I give my body a break.

Unfortunately that has meant no posts for the last few days - sorry about that.

Up to Christmas I managed to get Chapter 7 knocked off and reached my minimum goal of 2500 words leaving Newland at a touch over 15,000 words. Since Christmas I've only managed to write for fairly short periods of time resulting in the completion of Chapter 8 and I'm now two-thirds through Chapter 9. An extra 3267 words to this point. I should have added over 8,000 by the end of today so I'm a little behind schedule.

And now my little one is ill. Is it any wonder writers have difficulties in reaching word count goals...

So I'll write what I write and be happy the project is moving forward.

Time to finish Chapter 9 and hopefully manage to finish all of Chapter 10. That should see well over 20,000 words for Newland. If I can get Chapter 11 out tomorrow before party time, I should have just about reached 10,000 words in the five days I allowed myself.

Now I've just written over 200 words in this post alone so I'm wasting time. back to work I go...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Update

Just about to call it a night here so I thought I'd do a quick update on where I'm at.

Firstly, out shopping in the post-Christmas sales today and picked up a CD set of classical music. I love listening to the classics and thought I'd give it a go while writing - very glad I did.

When I eventually got around to doing some writing I knocked off four fifths of chapter 8. Newland has just gone through the 17,000 word mark.

I have four days left to churn out at least 8,000 words to surpass my minimum goal before New Year. If I can get stuck in during the day at some point, this should be a breeze.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful festive season and getting lots of things done - whether that's spending time with the family and friends, writing, reading or whatever else floats your boat. I hope you're having fun and staying safe.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Update

Merry Christmas!

As I write this, Santa is currently delivering presents to the area around Roswell (Not making this up - according to NORAD Santa Tracker).

He finished up in Australia some 10 or so hours ago. Poor fella. He may get huge amounts of time off but he earns every minute of it in just one night.

My goal by Christmas was to write 2500-5000 words. As we rushed around getting ready for today, this seemed unlikely. But things have fallen into place and I've managed some alone time this afternoon to do some more work. I've fallen over the 2500 word mark at this point and finished chapter 7. Chapter 8 is a race against time with a young child's life at stake, and in the hands of an inexperienced white woman and an aboriginal she doesn't yet trust. Will they make it? If nothing else, it'll be a fast paced chapter to write after the last two had more foreshadowing than anything else within them. Don't get me wrong, there is action in all my chapters- relevant action to boot - but there has to be a story in there to hold it all together and that seemed to take over much of chapter 5 & 6, along with characterisation.

The characters have been revealed more and more since the beginning, but I'm now starting to reveal the intricate relationships between the major role players. Chapter 9 is ear marked for another major relationship reveal so 8 will be a nice change. I'm rambling. 8 has character relationship development but shown more through action than anything else - buy the book when it comes out and you'll see what I mean ;c)

Tomorrow the rest of the family head down to the inlaws and I have a day to write. I'm hoping to make a serious dent in my goal of 10,000+ words between Xmas and New Year.

Stay tuned.

At this point, I think we've been invited to a New Years Party so my last post for 08 will be either during the day on the 31st or during the night of the 30th. On the 1st I'll be setting new goals and publishing them here for anyone interested.

Due to people popping in for visits, pain in my legs, and my normal rambling style, Santa has moved onto Canada now - Fort Nelson to be precise.

I hope you all have a wonderful Xmas wherever you are or I hope you had one if it's already gone. For those of you interested, it was very humid and 32C here in Adelaide today. Definitely shorts and a t-shirt type weather.

Speak soon


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Moving Along

A quick post to prove i'm still around the traps...

Today is my lad's 16th birthday - happy birthday Corey! My wife complains when I get too personal on this blog, but also complained when I didn't wish her a happy birthday earlier in the year so I'll limit myself to wishing my family members a happy birthday when appropriate and not mention them (much) at other times.

Anyway - this blog is about writing so back to the main focus...

It seems I've prompted another entry from Alex. You can read it here. Sound advice as always.

I managed to spend some time at the museum yesterday and got some interesting stuff to tie into my manuscript. We also got some shopping done and I managed to pen nearly 500 words. I also rearranged my outline into an easier to use format. I still have my major cleaning project to complete.

I haven't had a chance to further my research into a market for Grimore so the piece is still floating.

Today I've managed a further 1500 words on Newland bringing my total to around 2000 pre-Christmas. Now I have some errands to get done. A productive day all-in-all.

I refuse to give the end of year posting just yet - so much can happen within a few days and I still intend to get a lot more writing done. Many others are already wrapping up for the holidays and I seem way behind in comparison, but I'm done comparing myself to other writers. I'm exceptionally happy others are finding success and wish them more of them same for 09.

I wish everyone else success as well, least of all me among them. May we all set new goals in the coming weeks and exceed each and every one of them - spectacularly.

Speak soon


Friday, December 19, 2008

Time To Write...Almost

Today is my last day at work for 2008 - let the pigeons loose!!!

In two hours, I knock off for the last time this year. This afternoon I have some shopping to do, and a few errands to run - pretty much a boring mundane afternoon.

Tomorrow I play cricket. Sunday I have some big cleaning plans - particularly for my youngest daughters room - in preparation for Xmas.

For at least one day next week, I'm in town to do some shopping and to pay a visit to the museum and maybe the library if I have enough time. I'm hoping to spend at least one of the days before Xmas writing. My goal will be 2500 words. My dream will be 5000 words.

Once Xmas is out of the way, I need to get some serious writing done. For the week between Xmas and New Year I'm hoping to get 10-20,000 words on paper. A big number in a short time but possible. We'll see.

I still haven't decided on a market for Grimoire to be sent to yet. I've been reading - that takes time but is a very worthwhile exercise in pinning down the type of story they like and the level of the authors currently accepted. I will say this though, a large number of my pieces currently doing the rounds could be a match for "The Monsters Next Door". I've read through their current issue and my "normal" stuff could fit in there easily. But not Grimoire so the search continues...

Speak soon


Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Little Down But Not Out

Hi all - there is a definite reason I didn't blog yesterday...I needed time to assimilate a response I received from one of my submissions.

If I'd have posted yesterday it would have been classed as a rant. I would have been going off half cocked, and I would have been wrong.

Now I've had time to sit back and consider everything behind the feedback.

First impressions: Rude to the point of being insulting. This is what I thought of the feedback. The opening paragraph rips my poor little piece to shreds. The second paragraph seemed arrogant and pompous. Anything which contains the words "does in fact" sounds way too much like my eldest daughter trying to argue with me - trying to put me down and prove themselves the better in this instance. That type of thing "does in fact" piss me off!

So I took time out and refused to write anything knowing I'd go off on one of my rants. Now I've had time to put everything into perspective.

"Grimoire" was written nearly 18 months ago for a specific anthology. It was rejected from that market. I rewrote it and submitted it to TPN, the crit group I was involved with earlier this year. It went through many rewrites from that point on. According to my tracking sheet it has been submitted a total of five times. The original anthology responded with comments such as entertaining and likable. Two other markets responded with form rejections, one market closed before responding, and now this response labeling it pretty much as schlep.

The market, while not paying a huge amount, does have prestige attached to it. I've read past issues and know in my heart this piece wasn't up to their standards.

The editor is known to me. I didn't send it thinking I could sneak in under the nepotism banner or anything like that. I'd sent it before I knew the editor, but now I do know the editor, I can appreciate the blunt and straight forward response. It's the type of person they are when it comes to the provision of feedback. I was forewarned of it in an earlier online chat session they were part of.

Lastly - it is an opinion on the work - not an opinion on me. I needed to remind myself of this one regardless of how the feedback was worded. No response is personal. Many slushers and editors, most magazine staff in general, are nice people. They want to publish great stories. It's up to us writers to do the work and provide them with suitable material. In this case I didn't.

I'm marking this one down for exposure markets. I still like the story although it is full of cliche's - it's supposed to be. It's an early effort which members of my previous crit group thought okay, and others who have read it thought okay. It's not a down and out suspenseful masterpiece - but that's okay too as it was an early effort at writing, which has since seen a few revisions but kept the original sense in tact. If an exposure market doesn't want it, I'll post it on the examples page.

So I'll chalk up another rejection, but life goes on--and this piece will go back out.

Good luck with your submissions


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fledgling Writers Who Visit This Blog Unite

Here's the thing: PARSEC has released the new guidelines for next years anthology/short story contest.

I would love to see some names I have come to know included next year. The good news is Amy isn't allowed to enter the contest in 09 after taking out first and second prize in 08. I'm pretty sure she will be submitting for the antho, and if she is offering the piece I think she is (there are some perks to critiquing other writers work), I think she'll have a great chance of being in the antho again this year.

The big bonus with this comp/antho is if your submission is rejected, you gain some really useful feedback. I submitted "The Winged Shepherd of Innocence" last year and from the feedback managed to turn it into a story which was accepted elsewhere.

The deadline is March 31 09. Now is the time to start thinking about your story.

The guidelines for the anthology are here.

The guidelines for the short story contest are here.

Get busy folks

A Favour

Hi all,

I submit to paying markets. I start at the top and work my way down. I look after the market database at AHWA where I maintain a list of at least 100 markets. Currently only 10 or so of those are non-paying markets.

I haven't looked into many exposure markets so I'm not sure what's out there.

I know many of those who visit here have published pieces at 4theluv markets so instead of me spending hours surfing around trying to find them or investigate them, I thought I'd ask those who have already done the work - no point in reinventing the wheel, right?

So please, in the comments, list all the exposure only markets which accept dark fiction that you believe writers should know about.

Lets drag them all together. I'll produce a website based on that information we can all use when we're looking to submit our next piece, or submit a piece we haven't been able to find a paying home for.

What do you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tonight's Efforts

Tonight I'd set myself one of two goals - and didn't reach either of them.

I'm researching for a kind of keystone which will unlock the imagery I want to use in my historical fiction piece currently titled Newland. I'm thinking of a bird but it must be able to fly and it must have significance to indigenous Australian's so it is used within one of their stories - what we know or call "The Dreaming".

One would think tracking down something similar in the historical records of the first inhabitants of this land a fairly easy thing to do. Indeed I mentioned what I was after to a knowledgeable friend who looked at me strangely and said, "Of course it's easy," and promptly went on a search of his own - which yielded nothing.

I'm just about resigned to the fact I'm going to have to talk with a tribal elder to discover my keystone. First I'll try another visit to the library at the scene of my story which had a plethora of historical tomes the last time I went there - only that time I wasn't looking for the Aboriginal content.

I have a huge store of Aboriginal knowledge I can weave into my story due to my research, so it hasn't been a complete misfire, but looking into the history of those who first lived in the area my story is set in, is nowhere as easy as I first assumed.

So the word count I've added is: nearly 300 words to my research notes after 3 hours of surfing. I've read countless Dreamtime Tales but none have been what I want. Some I can use, but only in passing. I also found out many remain secret and unpublished.

I did find one little bit of information which will help me reshape my ending as is decidedly unsettling. Very cool, but nothing to do with imagery or able to be used throughout the book to plant the imagery - decidedly not cool.

My other goal was to write some additional words to the story. When I sit in a computer chair for extended periods of time, my legs seriously begin to ache. I work with computers during the day and relieve the pressure by going outside for a short walk each hour or so. When I'm at home I become engrossed in what I'm reading/researching/writing and can be seated until the pain drives me out of the room. I wander around for a while, but the damage is done and my stints at the keyboard shorten significantly. After three hours this evening, on top of the hours I have sat already today, my legs are screaming out in agony resulting in no will to write after doing the research. Net gain is 0 extra words on the manuscript again this evening - pitiful.

Tomorrow night is the kid's Xmas party at the cricket club so there will be no additional writing then either. Any spare time I currently get at work is devoted to helping out another writer - if I haven't completely alienated them with my overview of the manuscript they sent me to read.

I filled out my application for enrolment for next year today so that will go out the door soon.

No further replies back about submissions and I'm guessing everyone is winding down for Xmas holidays so any further news is probably not going to happen until next year. Maybe I should just send all my pieces to publishers in the Australian market first to try and build up some credits - God that sounds terrible. What I mean is: perhaps I shouldn't target the pro and upper semi-pro markets around the world anymore. Perhaps I should aim for semi-pro and paying markets a little more? Maybe even send any pieces which have been rejected five or more times to non-paying markets. If they get rejected there, then maybe I need to retire them to my examples pages...I suppose it goes back to how long you want to trot them out as I've talked about before.

Okay, my legs are reminding me it's time to move, and this will be the last move for tonight as I blissfully slip beneath the covers.

So goodnight to you all. Pleasant dreams and may all your writing wishes come true.


Oh! I almost forgot - Alex has posted a new writing tip in her ongoing series. Go take a look here or if you're wondering what I'm talking about, check out my post with all the links in here.



Friday, December 12, 2008

Can't Write

After my last post, I was just about ready to sit down and do some work on Newland and yet I drifted off onto other stuff.

I posted (on HorrorScope) my three latest reviews published in Black magazine (that's from Issue #3 not #4 which is due out next month).

The time taken to do that was extended out as I first thought about having something to eat and then stopped to eat a little something prepared for me by my loving wife.

Then I went and got a drink, had a smoke and chat, and now I've come back to waste more time by blogging about wasting time...

I can't bring myself to sit down and actually write.

That's sad.

And it's not writers block as such. I have plenty to write about, or at the very least, I could do some research I need for the book, but I'm just not in the mood.

I still have plenty of books to read, plenty of magazines to catch up on, and a few markets I want to research, but I couldn't be bothered. I think I've been in the chair too long today.

Time to just call it a night - and I feel quite disappointed by that.

Hope you're having more luck.


Rejection News

My baby, Wamphyri has gained her first rejection :c(

I'm making it policy now to send my work to a professional paying market first followed by doing the rounds in the Australian short fiction marketplace. So with that in mind, I've picked an Australian market I've not yet gained an acceptance from and currently don't have anything submitted to, checked the guidelines, reformatted the piece, and sent my baby out the door again.

Fingers crossed.

In other news - I've signed and returned the contract concerning Murky Depths, which gives me a rise in spirits. Slight difference in payment level between markets, but an acceptance is still an acceptance, and without it, it doesn't matter what the market is paying. A rejection still equals no credit for the bio and no money in the bank. So Murky Depths is a very good thing.

Both my reviews for the next issue of Black have been sent - one good, one not so good. Can't wait to see whats what, then subscribe to Black ASAP - follow link from cover shot in sidebar.

Started a dialogue with another author regarding their work - hopefully I'll be able to put forward some useful comments to help them gain published status in regards to their novel(s).

Lastly I updated all the AHWA market lists. It is very disappointing to find two or three markets closing their doors every month, usually to be be replaced by an inferior paying (or non-paying) market.

Well that's it from me for today. Time to do some work.

Speak soon.


Book of Blood

Earlier this year I read volumes 1-3 of Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Today I found out (thanks to Rob Hood) that there is going to be a movie based on the short story.

It seems the trailer is disappearing all over the net so when I finally found one, I thought I'd throw up here.
On some screen resolutions, the video is cut off. Simply click on the little square icon highlighted above to access full screen mode.


Read this.

At first I thought someone had stolen my diary and posted it on the web. But as I don't have a diary - I'm manly and I post all my thoughts straight here instead - I was left astounded someone could just about have laid the footprints that I'm currently walking in.

My first effort at writing was an epic fantasy novel - Tigers Eye.
I then wanted something published so I moved onto shorts.
I am now writing a historical fiction novel - although mine is a dark fiction piece.

Hopefully I can stay on this same path and an agent followed by publication is not far away...


I think it's highly amusing how topics go in circles, do the rounds so to speak. All of us writers out here in cyberspace are doing our utmost to provide clear, concise, and pertinent information for writers of all levels (while we continue to learn ourselves).


We read lots. We read each others blogs, we read resource books, novels, anthologies, online mags, reviews, and countless other things in an effort to further our own education and to give us something to write about to continue those who visit us.

Oh - and we write a lot. Practise may one day make close to perfect...

But back to what I was talking about.

Recently I've gone on about plotting. Particularly Alex Sokoloff's method of structuring a story which I've found particularly useful. In the comments sections you may have noticed others are busy plotting their own stories. Now I find J.A. Konrath is also talking about plotting here (it's a good article - go read...I'll wait.........)

It all boils down to the same advice I think. Stories have a formula. Stories have a structure. Learn to set your imagination and talent free within that structure. Follow the rules (at least to begin with).

I think Pantsers (those that write by the seat of their pants) must have some inbuilt knack of including the major plot points into a story structure automatically. I wish. I need to see it all plotted out before me so I can carefully place the bits and pieces I want in the story (aka a Plodder).

Whatever works for you is fine but make sure you know lots of the rules for writing a good story and then stick to that formula. Bend it as you improve and break it occasionally if you like, but learn the rules first - and become good at them.

Now if you're new to Musings and have no idea what I'm talking about, or really want to know what the rules are, then you need to do a couple of things. Firstly become a follower of this wonderful blog. Browse down the sidebar and you'll see others who have taken the oath and now follow blindly...err...who now openly claim their fellowship of the Aussie muse. Go ahead and join in.

Secondly, my child, you should go to the section of the side bar titled "The Global Writing Classroom" and you'll find lots of good stuff to help you with plotting - and everything else to do with writing.

(actually you should spend time browsing through all the information on the sidebar, there's lots of useful stuff contained therein)

Have fun and good luck with all your writing endeavours.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Storms A Brewing

No - I mean literally a huge electrical storm is heading our way tonight so this is a quick post and then I'm shutting down the computer for the evening.

I've finished reading my required books for review for Black magazine and am now ready to send them out. Unfortunately one of the reviews I wrote up during a quiet time at work and forgot to forward home, so the sending will have to wait till tomorrow - no real drama as they're not due until next week.

Still haven't gotten around to sorting out my application for second year of my diploma. An electrical storm tonight seems like as good a time as any to sit down with a pen and fill it out.

That's it for now.

Speak soon


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The End is in Sight

Yesterday I was working through my plotting grid as proposed by Alexandra Sokoloff (if you haven't started working to this advice - you really should give it a go), and suddenly my ending found me.

I could see how it all plays out, the heart rendering emotion, the chills and unsettling thoughts still creeping around in the back of the readers mind, the scene, settings, payoffs from previously unconsidered plants, resolution of plans and answers to central questions, nicely wrapped up in a layered scene echoing bits that came before.

So now the skeleton of my story is laid bare in a very formulaic fashion before me. I need to research/track down three more important bits of information, and take a field trip to the location of the last third of the book. Once all the ingredients are in place, I can finish this thing quickly. I can still get the first draft done by the end of January.

I'll admit to not strictly sticking to Alex's formula. I've tweaked it a little but kept the major points in place. The scene climaxes, the midpoint, what needs to be in each act, that sort of thing is all still there. My sex at sixty (sixty pages not age sixty), as described by Alex, happens a touch later, the statement of the plan is not directly stated initially, but played out with the character. I do state it eventually though during act 2 just to make sure the reader knows what the character is trying to achieve. The sequencing is different though. Alex suggested 16 scenes in Act 1, double for Act 2, and a slightly smaller Act 3.

I've reversed engineered that a little. I wanted to write a book of around 95-100K. I want to write between 2-2500K in each paragraph. To do this, I'm looking at 40-42 chapters - definitely no more than 45.

I divide up the number of chapters so my Act 2 is double Act 1, leaving a slightly smaller Act 3 for the climax. I then figured out the correct placement of my climaxes, midpoints, etc. Plotting it all out allows me to see where I can plant things, add foreshadowing, add extra layers, and build up to the climaxes as required. I'm definitely not a pantser.

Other news in brief...

I'm about halfway through my current book for review. I've got the next two days off, so I should be able to squeeze a fair bit of reading in tomorrow and get the reviews written up and sent off tomorrow night. Thursday is booked for other activities.

Have fun and good luck with your writing

Speak soon


Monday, December 8, 2008

Interesting Information

Quite a number of the blogs I've got listed on the sidebar are doing this at the moment and I found the information very interesting. When comparing where I'm at with my writing and some of the stats thrown up by others I can see:

a) I'm not doing so bad &
b) I need to work a little more diligently.

So here are my answers to the pop quiz.

Age when I decided I wanted to be a writer: 38
Age when I wrote my first story: 38
Age when I first submitted a short story to a magazine: 38
Age when I sold my first short story: 38 (The Elusive Muse to Fiction Factor)
Total number of submissions: 55
Total acceptances: 7
Thickness of file of rejection slips prior to first story sale: I sold the first one.
Approximate number of short stories/novelettes/novellas sold for cash money: 6
Poems sold: 0 - I don't do poetry
Age when I started writing my first novel: 38 (Tigers Eye)
Age when I started writing my first completed novel: Tigers Eye first draft was completed when I was 39. No novel has been completed to a polished level.
Age I finished that novel: 41
Age I started my second novel: 40
Age I finished my second novel: 40 (Turn 41 in March so hopefully Newland is polished and out to market by then)
Age when I sold a first novel: 41...
Total number of novels written (discounting duds): 0
Books sold: 0
Books in the process of querying: 0
Short stories in the slush: 8 (This would be an area where I need to pick up my act)
Short stories written this year: 7 (This would be another area where I need to pick up my act)
Age when I became a full-time novelist: 47
Age now: 40

Tag - your turn

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Goal Reached

Just got an acceptance email from 52 Stitches for "Murky Depths". Apart from being over the moon about the acceptance, it also allows me to pass last years acceptance count.

In the first 12 months of writing "professionally", I secured publication at Fiction Factor (x2), and Antipodean SF (1), for a total of three published pieces.

This year I have gained an acceptance in Fear & Trembling, 52 Stitches and two acceptances in a British erotica anthology. Unfortunately none have yet reached publication. 52 Stitches and the British anthology isn't slated until next year - I don't know when F&T are planning to publish my piece.

3 acceptances/publications in 2006. 4 acceptances in 2007. No publication of my fiction this year, but then that is balanced by the amount of freelance stuff I've had published. 7 articles in SA50s+, 4 reviews in Black, and a dozen or so reviews, news, and comments articles on HorrorScope

There's still a few weeks of this year to come and I still have 8 pieces in the market place - two of which have been queried and the staff are still interested in - so more good news may yet be to come. But I'll stop from extending this post into a look back at 2007 just yet.

I've received my word counts for the next issue of Black so I need to finish the final book I'm reading and get the review written up this week.

Work continues on finding the last third of my book, as does the writing on the first two thirds I've already found. The ending may change some of what I'm doing now, but that's okay. I refuse to just sit and allow things to drag on.

Lastly, welcome to the latest cult member/follower: SES Wilson. Go and check out his blog where he posts a lot of his flash fiction. I see you've already added my link to your blog so I'm happy to return the favour.

Don't be shy folks, become a follower, link up and let me know - always happy to return the favour.

Time to go read a chapter or two.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Shock Horror

I have just realised I didn't post at all yesterday - most unlike me.

I've been plotting and reading, and reading and researching. All very mundane and fairly boring stuff, kinda...

I've ripped Newland in half. I didn't like the way the second story line of the book was coming together so I pulled it. That left me with half a book which needed an extra 45,000 (or so) words and an ending to find. I needed to find layers to make the extra tale a lot more than just padding.

At the moment it looks like my story is going to be around 40 chapters in length, which equates to somewhere between 8-100,000 words. I'm gunning for 90-95k - if I can find an ending.

The research came about due to Alex's teachings on layering, imagery, and plants. I've made a choice on my imagery and that requires some additional learning on my part. It will make the whole thing that much more authentic and visually stimulating (remember this is a historical dark fiction piece). I've been thinking about my layers and that's made me realise my opening scene is that much more powerful because of the layers I instinctively included.

I explained it a mate today who was asking why I was reading some stuff he hadn't seen me reading before. I explained all about the imagery in my opening scene, what it represented, how it was portrayed, hidden meanings from a number of different angles - he looked at me kind of weird as if to say, "Yeah right. You've written something that subtly complex..." - I just smiled and walked away - I did write something visually stimulating, full of imagery, and full of layers for my opening scene - it still needs polishing by my beta readers, but not yet. I need an ending.

I'm working through the first half of my plot and fixing missing bits and adding in additional threads to build the story in the later half where I removed the old storyline. My big issue now is the ending (have I mentioned that yet?). I have a few in mind, but they all seem a little cheesy or gimmicky to me - not good. So I continue to work on what I've got and hopefully the characters will reveal to me what the ending has to be. Not how I like to work.

My plot is two thirds complete, with the beginning of a third act. I'm just not sure where or how it will finish. Wish me luck in finding it - and soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Anthology Market

Thanks to The Other Aaron for the heads up.

The Monsters Next Door have called for submissions to The Devil's Food anthology. Quoted from the site:

Stories should be centered on humans as food for some type of monster. Stories should have a supernatural element. Classic monsters (vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc…) are okay, as well as new, creative and original monsters. The focus of the story should be the threat of being eaten; this should dominate the tone of the story. Gore, sex, and violence are fine as long as it is used to enhance the story and not merely for the gross out or the smut.

Stories should be 3000 to 7500 words in length, Times New Roman font, double spaced, two spaces after sentence ending punctuation. Please do not use headers or footers. Stories should be sent as .rtf or .doc documents. The author’s contact info should be on the first page of the manuscript as well as in the body of the email. A short synopsis should also be in the body of the email.

We will pay $25 dollars and a contributor’s copy for First North American serial rights for each story selected. Authors will be paid upon publication. All rights revert back to the author upon publication.

Send submissions to MonsterAnthology[@] (without the brackets) as attached .rtf or .doc file. On the subject line, put DEVIL’S FOOD: your story’s title. If you do not receive confirmation that we received your submission within 10 days, feel free to query.

Multiple submissions are fine as long as they are in separate emails. Simultaneous submissions okay as long as it is clearly stated in the cover letter (aka body of the email).

Submissions will remain open until April 1, 2009. All submissions will be responded to by June 1, 2009. Do not query on your status until after that date. Publication date is scheduled for late summer 2009.

I have a few in mind that could go here if they don't find a home where they are currently submitted.

Give it a go and good luck.


Blog Numbers

Over to the right you'll see a couple of different counter type things. A little lower you'll also come across feedit which shows where some people are arriving from.

All interesting stuff that can be interpreted and displayed in a myriad of different ways.

Heres's something else I recently came across which I thought interesting.

I've had over 5100 people visit this site over the year and a bit I've been blogging. Most of those numbers are return visitors.

In fact I've only had a little over 1500 unique visitors - and that's fine. I'd be happy if I only had a dozen or so people who popped in on occasion to say hello. I write this blog as an exercise for me, as my writing presence on the web, and to try and help out any other writers who are just starting out. It is cathartic for me in many ways.

So where have all these unique visitors come from? I'm glad you asked. Just click on the image below to blow it up into something you can read without crossing your eyes.

The top three are kind of expected to be leading the way. The next three surprised me a little but then I don't know what I would have expected to take their place. Maybe New Zealand, Ireland and...and...I have no idea.

Once upon a time I mused about having more people from India or South Africa, or possibly South America pass by. Now I'm just happy people find me and some of them come back more than once.

Thank you one and all for taking the time.

Good luck with your writing.



I've done a little house work since the semester has officially come to a close.

You may notice (especially as I'm now pointing it out), I've updated the links to my Bibliography, my Diploma Progress, and my Work In Progress pages. I've also added a new flash fiction piece to my Work Examples page.

I'm currently trying to write one piece of flash fiction a week at Cafe Doom. I imagine the first few (maybe all of them) will be a little rough so rather than subject my stumbling efforts on editors around the globe, I though I'd throw them up on My Examples page for you, and prosperity, to view at your leisure. Comments welcome. The first offering is "Spring BBQ" and again touched on my love for writing dark fiction involving children. If you have a weak stomach or don't like to think about situations not so nice involving kids - then look away now. No sex or actual violence in this one. The one I posted to Cafe Doom today however, is completely different. No kids, a little bit of nudity, implied sexual scenario, and a zombie. Makes the mind boggle doesn't it? I'll post that one to the examples page next week.

You may also notice - although these things are way down on the sidebar - a new book has been added to my current reading for review list. It is "Envy the Night" by Michael Koryta (a very young and intense looking fellow). I'm reading this for Black magazine. The review will be out in January, with a full review to be posted on HorrorScope in February.

With Newland - I'm still working with the structure and will be for a little while yet. Storyboarding points out all sorts of downfalls and thin sections within your planned book. It makes a lot more work prior to the actual writing, but writing should then be so much easier when I get to it.

Lots of people are putting up reports of the previous month so I figured I'd join in on the fun.
So, what happened in November? (ala (also labelled as) Status Report)

I didn't participate in NaNoWriMo. :(
I wrote around 2000 words in Newland. :(
Began storyboarding Newland.
I revised Idolatry and submitted it to a new market.
Submitted Wamphyri to market for the first time.
I wrote "Spring BBQ" for Cafe Doom.
Wrote a new flash piece titled "Murky Depths" and submitted to market for first time.
I read "Promise Not To Tell" by Jennifer McMahon
I wrote three reviews of "Promise Not To Tell" by Jennifer McMahon
I completed and submitted 3 assignments, passing them all and completing my first year of study successfully.
Slushed 8 stories. (still haven't found a gem)
Critiqued 1 manuscript, 1 Query letter, and 1 synopsis. Excellent premise I expect to see grow.
Queried two submissions and received notice they were still under consideration.
Received 1 somewhat positive rejection.
Received 0 acceptances
9 pieces currently out to market.

I still feel like I didn't do enough though, and I think that's primarily due to not doing a lot on Newland.

That's enough for the updates.

Go read Spring BBQ and let me know what you think...

Speak soon


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Next lesson from Alex

Alex has posted a new part to her writing instructions titled Elements Of Act Three - Part 1. I've added it the main post where I'm gathering all these bits of wonderful information together here.

I am seriously looking forward to when this all gets turned into a single book.


To be puzzled or confused.

Yep, you guessed it, I received my final assignment back from my nemesis, Mr Jonathon Stone. I received a B-. Not a great grade but enough of a grade to get me another distinction.

So why am I annoyed and flummoxed?

The accompanying note from Mr Stone has always been a case of give with one hand and strike down with the other. Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot from this lecturer over the course of this year, but it hasn't been without a fair bit of aggravation.

Assignment 6 was to take material that was numbers based - a table or statistics or similar - and create an article from it. The module was titled Processing Information, and so it would be normal to assume I was supposed to take these gathered statistics and process them in an effort to create an article for a correctly targeted market. At least that's what I assumed.

The one hand giving: Mr Stone labelled my article as "ingenious!" (yep, he included the exclamation mark). He went on to say, "Of all the various approaches I've seen to this assignment this effort of yours takes the cake!" (yep, he included another exclamation mark).

He then went on to strike me down: "In reality of course it's a human interest story..." and "It's hardly a revelation..." and could have been the basis of a one-sentence article!" (yep, another exclamation mark).

Then, as if trying to smooth things over and make himself overly generous in the spirit of Xmas he writes: "But I guess your ingenuity on this occasion...deserve recognition - even though we both know your treatment of Assignment 6 isn't what Unit 6 is all about! (I'm sure we've been instructed in this first year not to use exclamation marks excessively but he packs them in).

So he passed me not because of the work, but because he thought I deserved it on the whole. He tells me we both know the work doesn't address the assignment - as if I'd pass in work I knew didn't meet the criteria!!!!

Let's go back to the facts.

The Unit is titled "Processing Information"

It deals with numbers, statistics, tables.

I was required to find such material and turn it into an article.

I chose to write an article for a local sporting organisation based on the scoresheet from a previous game. This was a cricket game. A scoresheet from a cricket game is nothing but a confusing collection of numbers and statistics.

The article was based around a fine innings of one young batsman. Yep, a human interest story - which suited perfectly the requirements of the local sporting clubs newsletter.

As for being able to state things in a single sentence - aren't all stories supposed to be able to be expressed in a single sentence. Professionals would call that a logline.

So I took a huge amount of numbers, and created an article for a viable market. That's what it asked me to do for the assignment; it is what the Unit is about.

The lecturer considered it an ingenious approach and then condescends me with the comment that we both know it's not he was really after but (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) I'll give you just enough of a grade to still gain your distinction - what an arrogant...


Forget it.

The year is now officially over and I can move on.

I finished with two credits for semester one, and two distinctions for semester two. I would have been happy with just a pass so I'm pretty chuffed with myself. (Even if I still feel like I was gifted one of the distinctions - moving on...)

I'll have Mr Stone to deal with again next year, but I won't worry about that until then. And this time we'll be face-to-face as I'm purposefully switching to be an internal student just for his module. That should make for some interesting conversations.

Did you do any study this year? How'd you go? What about next year?

Speak soon


Monday, December 1, 2008


Yesterday, I was a bad boy. I did my normal Sunday chores and...nothing else. I watched "The Birds" again, some cricket, repeats of sport on FOX, and a few other very mundane things.

I didn't write a word. I didn't read a book. I didn't turn on the computer, which resulted in me not surfing the web or checking emails. As far as writing was concerned, I did nada!

And I didn't mind a bit.

This morning, I loaded everything I've done so far on Newland onto my thumb drive/usb key/flash drive/call it what you will. December has finally arrived and I intend on doing my own form of NaNoWriMo, but it will be over December and January. I'll be writing as I can, which should be most days.

I have two books to read and review, one of those with a short deadline. I'll commence reading that one tonight. I need to leave work early every dau this week to pickup my youngest from school so I'll be looking to write for an hour or two when we first get home, and then do some reading later in the evening.

I should finish the first book inside two or three days and then write up three reviews.

That should free up additional writing time.

My goal is to write not 50,000 words in a month: My goal is to write the remaining 80-90,000 or so words in the next two months.


I began writing this earlier at work and never got around to posting it - who'd have thought I'd actually have to do some work :c(

So at 7:30 PM - here's what I was musing earlier...

Blog Level

This is a strange thing I was directed to by Janet Reid's blog:

blog readability test

What does it mean? God knows, but I'm sure you'll want to do it as well.

Have fun...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Idolatry Grows Up

My most rejected piece - Idolatry - has again gone out to market, to the Three Lobed Burning Eye (Don't you just love the magazine's name?).

Including missing a place in the writing competition it was originally targeted at, it has four rejections to it's name. Rewrites this time round has added 25% to the word count so she now comes in at nearly 2500 words.

She has a new ending - different even from what my beta readers have read as I had a flash of inspiration as I was submitting it (honestly, as I was pasting it into the web based submission form, I reread it to check I hadn't missed anything - and then the ending came to me so I rewrote it - probably not the best idea, but we'll see.) She also contains a lot more detail, and quality is in the detail. Fingers crossed.

End of the working week here, and also the last day for assignments to be submitted for the year. I hope all my fellow students in the Advanced Diploma of Arts for Professional Writing (it's a mouthful isn't it?), managed to get everything submitted. I'm a little annoyed I haven't received my last assignment back yet. I sent it a week ago now. The resub had better pass now as time to do another resub has gone. I won't be happy if this costs me more money.

Thinking happy thoughts - it doesn't matter that the assignment hasn't been returned yet as I'm going to pass anyway. There will be no need for any further work this semester.

Speaking of most rejected pieces got me to thinking about my submissions. Most of the stories doing the rounds at the moment have been knocked back two or three times. Idolatry four times. I also found I have had a story knocked back from Weird Tales already this year, so if System Failure does get rejected, it'll be the second from that market this year - I don't feel so out of place with everyone else now. (That's somewhat twisted I think!)

So that's it for now. Tomorrow I will bat in a game of cricket for the first time in 8 months. Please wish me luck - it can't hurt (and I'm going to need more than my fair share).

Good luck with your submissions


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Work Is Really Slow

We have 19 working days left till Xmas breakup (only 29 days till Santa!). Looking around here, you'd think everyone was already on leave.

Under here I launched into a rant about work but just in case the wrong people read this - I've censored myself.

Anyway, I've managed to write three different length reviews for the first book "Promise Not to Tell." I've also downloaded a book on reviewing which has different markets to sell reviews to. I figure once I know which review is going to Black, I can look into selling the other short review to a different market. The full review gets published on HorrorScope in February regardless.

This is all because I haven't been told yet what Black want. They publish 100 and 200 word reviews, while HorrorScope (online and therefore without content size restraints) publish reviews up to 1000 words.

If nothing else, it'll be an interesting exercise into researching what review markets there are out there.

Tonight, after training, I'm finishing the revision of, and submitting to a new market, my short story Idolatry.

Hopefully when I get home, my assignment will also have been returned.

Cheers for now


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Finished One

Just finished Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer McMahon. The review will be in Black issue #4 come January, or on HorrorScope around February. For now I can say, I enjoyed it. Want to read the whole review? By the magazine...

The funniest thing - the query letter I sent back today was for an agent in New York, who is also the agent for Jennifer McMahon! How's that for a small world?

Well that's it for tonight. No response on submissions and my last assignment still hasn't been returned.

I was going to finish off the revision of Idolatry but chose to finish the book instead - maybe tomorrow although I need to write up the full review first.

Good luck with your writing



Firstly - Ben (and anybody else interested), over on the sidebar, and I'm going to move up into a more prominent position, is the Global Writing Classroom. In there I place links to good stuff I find around the place, as well as a link to all the posts in this blog with the label "Writing Tips". If you ever remember me posting, or rambling, about something half useful, chances are you'll be able to find it there. Or you can post a comment and ask and I'll post a new link like this one:

Link to the great writing advice by Alexandra Sokoloff.


Next update:

As to the recent question on how to formulate a query. Seems I still have a very shy following


Never mind: - The formula I used as outlined in this post, has worked a treat. I have gained notification that Too Late the Rain is still under consideration and has gone to a second editor. Last night I also received notification that Mobile is also still under consideration.

Obviously both of these could still fall short at the post, but they are no longer just being flat out thrown back - which is nice.

Oh - I hooked up with Cafe Doom recently and have just finished reading through the latest annual competition entries. And I come across one Felicity Dowker piece titled "Fine Print" - who says it's not a small world?

I read all the stories first and chose my own top 10, then I reread through the voting, and finally the results. My winner didn't win. Mind you, my winner came closer to the editors choice than the people's choice did.

Fel, you'll be happy to know, yours made my top 10 before I knew it was written by you.

Some very good submissions. If you're into the dark stuff, go have a look at Cafe Doom, it's a nice place. I joined primarily to have a go at the flash fiction comp they have each week. I'm losing the ability to write very short stories, so it'll give me practise - if I can find the time to write.

Just finished with the query letter and synopsis for a friend and sent them back. Hopefully they find the comments and suggestions useful. Hopefully they sell the manuscript for squillions and find it in the goodness of their heart to take me on as their full time, well paid critique writer - or they could just say thanks on the inside cover of the book. Honestly, I'd just be happy if they sent me a copy of the book once it's published.

It's all good.

Lastly, I've started my reading for review. I'm yet to update the library widgets, but I will as soon as I can. So chances are I'll be a little quieter, although this was supposed to be a short post when I started - rambling again...

Good luck with your submissions

Monday, November 24, 2008

Close Call

Alex, you almost gained an email from me. I got so lost in trying to map out my story structure I was starting to see grid patterns when I was looking away from the screen.

I think I've figured things out now using a little common sense and reading between the lines.

And in the end, I think I've got it.

My act 1 lined up with a good climax already in place - right where it was supposed to be.

I got a little confused with the placement of the midpoint before the midpoint climax and which column it was supposed to be, but I reverted to scenes within a sequence, within an act to figure out where the midpoint should be and found my sex at sixty arrived too early (no male comments here please). So I need to add two scenes to get it on track, or, if going by remaining scenes, it's spot on being exactly the midpoint between the beginning of act 2 and the final climax. (I know - typical male looking for a way to excuse the early arrival).

Going by scenes again, my final act should only be around 12-15 scenes. Structuring things out as suggested, I was missing 5 scenes, and when looking at the grid structure, some of the missing scenes to allow me to get from here to there, were painfully obvious.

So all in all, so far the storyboarding structure and formula suggested by Alex works. Obviously you may need to massage it a little, but you don't want to go too far away from an obviously proven, and more importantly, accepted method.

Now strangely, I've only storyboarded half my plot. The second half feeds off the first and now that I've laid it out, I can see what needs to go into it. I can see where the planting and payoffs are going to go, the foreshadowing. I can pluck and swap and play til my little black heart is content.

Very cool.

Go read Alex's writing suggestions and give it a go. If you're struggling to get words on a page, use it as a time out. Convince yourself you're still doing something worthwhile for your book even though you're not actually writing. It shouldn't be too hard to convince yourself because you will be doing something important for your book.

If you're a pantser instead of a plodder, good luck to you; I couldn't work that way. For the rest of us - you too Ben - go and give it a go.

Speak soon


Lots in...Nothing out

Got lots of real mail today, as opposed to email.

My assignments (including Wamphyri) from module 1 have returned - both received an A which allows me to wrap up this module with a distinction (gaining more A's than B's and nothing lower than a B-). I have one outstanding assignment from module 2 (the one I had to resub), if that comes back with a minimum of a B- then I get a distinction for that module as well. Too cool for school.

I also received my next batch of reading for Black magazine and HorrorScope, the covers on two of the books look interesting but the third I received in manuscript form. I wasn't expecting that.

On the email front, I gained a whisper Too Late the Rain is still in the running at the publication I sent it to which is why I never got around to storyboarding Newland yesterday - I was too excited to sit still enough. No, I won't be slitting my wrists if it gets rejected but at least I know I'm getting closer with that one.

My contributors copy of Black also arrived today and looks very swish. This is an excellent magazine. I'm allowed to say that without any bias because I only supply a couple of reviews at the very centre of the mag. Everything else has nothing to do with me which is why I feel guilty getting a contributors copy for nothing, but I'm extremely grateful I do.

If you write dark fiction, or have anything to do with what beige coloured society would call a sub-culture, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to Black, and (if you write) join AHWA.

I've received a little bit of mixed feedback from my writing friends on Idolatry, mainly positive, but there are at least three sentences I need to work on. In one instance, both commented on my stupidity, and the others just need a little tweaking. It seems I may have solved the issues brought to light from the marketplace feedback.

But I'm not working on that tonight. Tonight, I'm storyboarding!

Speak soon.

Good luck with your submissions.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update On Queries

I should be placed in a corner and smacked severely.

Yep, I'm still finding ways to procrastinate.

So far I've found this in response to my quest fro "How to Query":

How to Follow Up on Short Story Submissions by Roselyn James

An interesting sample letter on P&E

And...that's it!

So it would seem your comments, examples, advice, or anything else you're willing to offer will be timely advice for the writing community out there.

Show us how you query the status of your submissions.



Side Tracked

I thought I'd catch up on my feeds before delving into story boarding Newland.

After reading this crap, I wonder (not for the first time) why haven't I been published?

Sunday Has Arrived

I survived my first full day back playing cricket. Turned out to be a fairly boring day for as I stood at first slip and didn't do a lot. Took one catch, and little else. Next week it's our turn to bat and we'll be attempting to chase down 264 for the win.

In my last post, I'd ear-marked today for three things to happen:

  1. Update the assignments page
  2. Send query letters off to submission markets
  3. Story board Newland

I've updated the assignments page - check the links on my sidebar.

I've also sent off three query letters. It's another fortnight before anymore query letters are due, but I wasn't sure exactly what to write. The basic premise is obvious - "Hey, it's been over the time frame suggested in your guidelines and I haven't had a response so can you let me know where you're at with my submission", but how to phrase that in a professional manner?

Interestingly, if you search for help on the Net, you'll gain 624,000 links on writing the perfect query letter, but that's not the type of query I'm talking about. I haven't refined my search yet (I do intend to) on how to query on the progress of your submission so I thought I'd post the question here.

We all write, or intend to write, short stories for publication in varied magazines around the world. When you've submitted something you slaved over for many weeks, months, or even years, struggled to find the right words, the right sentence structure, and then submit it to just the right market, how do you ask for an update when the response time deadline slides past?

I decided to go the short and succinct way:

Dear [editors name]

I am writing to query the progress of my flash fiction piece titled [your next big thing] which I sent to your publication for consideration on the [whenever].

Kindest regards

Brenton Tomlinson

What do you think? How do you do it?

Time to go story board Newland. I look forward to your answers.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Back To It

Before I tell you about my evening with working on Newland:

I received an assignment back from Mr Stone - an A-. Cool. This only leaves my resubmitted assignment to be marked for this module to be completed. As long as it gains a minimum grade of a B-, I'll have achieved a Distinction for this module. Very cool. I really have to get around to updating the diploma assignments page. (Maybe Sunday). I haven't received the last assignments back from the other module yet.

Idolatry has been reworked and tonight I revised that latest version once more. My prime beta reader (my wife) gave it a going over and thought the new version was good. She may be biased so I've now sent it out to my other beta readers/critiquing writer buddies. Then I need to decide on a new market to send it to.

No responses from the submissions already out there - really need to write some query letters (also maybe Sunday).

Tonight I worked on Newland. I was tossing up whether to write a new chapter or use the time to properly story board it. In the end I really wanted to write something new so the story boarding was left for another day (yep, maybe Sunday). I read through the previous five chapters I'd written and the first 300 or so words of the sixth chapter, and revised as I went - I couldn't help myself.

I then wrote two thirds of chapter six, bumping it up to nearly 1800 words. It seems to be a little slow through chapters 5 & 6 though but I've decided I'm not going to worry about it at the moment. I'm just going to push on and get the story out. I'm thinking I'll be able to go back and plant stuff, or add greater conflict, or do some foreshadowing, after I've written the other bits of the story.

So the story sits with a little over 12,000 words on the page with a projected finishing total of around 95-100k. A touch over 13% done of the first draft, but the important thing is I'm working on it again and getting the story written. Polishing is for later.

It's just about midnight here. Tomorrow my cricket playing days begin again and true to form, it's cold and a little wet outside. My first game of any season tends to be rain affected. This is the fourth game of the current season and they haven't had a single day with rain. Now I come out of retirement - it rains. Typical.

Time for bed, as I'm guessing I'll need all the sleep I can get. My body is complaining about the torment I'm going to put it through tomorrow already.

Wish me luck.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

On It Goes...

Many a writing site will shout to the masses gathered, a writer continues to learn regardless of how successful they become. Even I have coined the phrase "Only dead writers are incapable of improvement" - and I'm really beginning to understand why.

Not only do we have a continual upward curve in mastering our craft, there are so many little things one has to get right to make it.

I've touted Alex's writing structure lessons enough this week so you should all be aware of that side of things.

But on the business side, it just keeps coming. Lets say you have gained a respectable mastery over the craft, and your time management skills, to be able to produce a marketable manuscript.
How do you go about getting it published?

Step 1: Research agents and publishers who may be a good fit to sell your masterpiece to. This is a long and in depth process requiring you to learn all about the the market out there.

Step 2: Write the query letter. I've got links on my sidebar about how to do this. It seems most writers are now recognising this important step. So much so it has prompted this article from Stephen Barbara. Send out the query and wait for requests for partials or fulls (or the query occasionally goes out with a package as in step 4)

Step 3: Write a synopsis - again there are links in the sidebar and all over the Internet. This sometimes goes out with step 2, sometimes with step 4.

Step 4: Put together a professional package containing your work shopped query, synopsis, and the first 'x' chapters of your manuscript as requested. (Step 2, 3 , 4 will be dependant on the guidelines clearly defined on each agency/publishers website)

Step 5: Wait

Step 6: Wait some more or preferably start work on the next project. Don't stop writing.

Step 7: Run around the house doing the happy dance when you gain representation.

Step 8: Begin rewrites (Now there is a huge amount of steps which take place between 8 and 9, many of which I'm not fully aware of at this point in my career)

Step 9: Work closely with your representation on getting your book to the publication date.

Step 10: Do everything you can, above and beyond whatever your agent/publisher ask, to self market your new book.

Step 11: Do happy dance as your baby is released to the public.

As far as I knew, this was the (very) basic process. Now I have a new step to add thanks to this post by Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted at the Red Room. This would happen during step 9, but before the covers are finalised.

See what I mean, always something new to learn. I'm guessing when I finally get to go through the publishing process, it'll be completely different and I'll be resetting my expectations and assumptions all over again, once more renewing the learning cycle.

Ah, the love of learning...

Idolatry Reworked

I sat down and did what I said I would last night - shock horror.

No distractions, no procrastination.

Comments made from the last market Idolatry was submitted to (ASIM), suggested the plot was a little vague. After rereading it, I can see what they are referring to. In the beginning, it purposefully doesn't reveal the name of one character or why she is at a seedy hotel for a business transaction (not that sort of transaction) - so I took on what I'd recently learned (thanks Alex).

Up front, I told the reader what's going on. I let the reason for her being there, what she was after and why, out of the bag very early in the piece.

I also changed the idol from one of fiction to a real one. I did a little bit of research and found a very striking little statue that fitted the bill.

I cut a few bits here and there but ended up putting one piece back which helped me tie up a brand new ending - remember that plant and payoff stuff Alex and I have talked about? I had a comment in the feedback about the ending not being overly satisfying, so I better defined the results of a particular action which takes place in the story. A line said very early on in the piece by a bit character comes back to help wrap things up.

As a refresher, and to bring those up to date who are new to this blog, this is the story which arose from an assignment I did earlier in the year. My lecturer made a comment about doubting me being able to turn the premise of the 600 word opening into a viable story. Idolatry is what I turned that opening into.

The lecturer, Mr Stone, has a way of giving praise with one hand and knocking the stuffing out of you with the other, a kind of literary carrot and stick approach. So it has become a mission to mold this piece into a story I can sell. Very little of the 600 words from the original opening remain, but the premise hasn't changed.

I'll sell this thing to a market somewhere - just to prove Mr Stone wrong on this one.

In other news...

The resubmission assignment went into the post yesterday so all my work for the year has been completed and sent in - 10 days in advance of the deadline. I'm expecting at least one or two back either today or tomorrow. Hopefully they don't require resubs.

Still no responses back about the rest of my submissions. May have to start sending out queries very soon.

Tonight is training again, although the weather seems to have turned a little cool, threatening rain. If the heavens do open up, that will shorten training and I may have time to get some work done tonight. Tomorrow night, it's time to start work on Newland again.

I wish you every success with your words and the order you put them in.

Speak soon


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Here's an amusing little time waster I came across while surfing the feeds (thanks to Jamie). And below are my results. The link for you to take your own test is at the end. Let me know how you go and may the force be with you ;c)

You are Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Qui-Gon Jinn
Mace Windu
Darth Maul
Boba Fett
Luke Skywalker
Princess Leia
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Test

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Clearing The Decks...Still

I knocked off my current slush reading requirements last night.

The biggest thing I've noticed so far with the dozen or so submissions I've read - new and emerging writers need to gain feedback and input from other writers whether in a formal crit group or through someone they know who has had some success in gaining publication in the types of magazines you, as the new or emerging writer, would like to target.

A lot of the submissions seem under polished, almost immature. Now I don't mean that as in an adult who enjoys getting around in nappies (not that there's anything wrong with that), but the writing has been allowed out into the market place without having had a real good going over. Other writers haven't given input and picked up where sentences don't read real fluent - I'm not kidding, I've seen sentence structures like this.

Examples (I've changed things so as to not use real examples but they are similar)

  • Little things like "On the floor, I watched bugs crawl across the floor" - the use of similar words close together, or similar sounds too close together so it begins to read more like poetry.

  • Overly long sentences and talking in loops i.e. her hair was different to everyone else - hers was straight, while everyone else was curly, she was auburn while everyone else is blond, she had long hair while everyone else was short.

  • Show don't tell: We've all heard this mantra before. If you're not sure what it means, take a creative writing course. He pushed open the door and stomped into the room. The angry look in his eye was enough to let everyone there know he was in a bad mood, and when he was in that kind of mood, everyone knew to stay away. That is telling. The echo of his hobnailed boots drew everyones attention. His eyes remained fixed on the barkeep as he stomped across the room. Chairs, patrons, and stray cats were kicked out of the way. The piano faltered as he slammed his six shooter down onto the scarred oakwood of the bar. This is showing. The difference: One tells the reader what is going on, it doesn't allow them an opportunity to have any imaginative input. The other describes the scene, adds in the emotions of those experiencing it and invites the reader to experience it as well. I've painted a scene and now it's up to the reader to interpret it as they see fit. I've put in all the elements that should allow a reader to see the main character is pissed off without actually saying it. I can see you all nodding and saying "Well duh! I know that" - well do it then so I won't see any more submissions of this nature.

Honestly - get feedback, join a critique group, do a creative writing course.

On a brighter note - I received a couple of brand spanking new, hard cover , signed, books for review last night, and I'm expecting at least three others (not hard cover or signed) in the not too distant future. Lots of reading coming up.

Tonight is training night but tomorrow night - I'm sitting down and reworking Idolatry. Nothing else - just Idolatry.

Thursday is training again. Friday I restart work on Newland.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wamphyri Away

Last night I sent off Wamphyri to a brand new pro rate market - that should make figuring out which market I sent it to fairly easy - it's the only new pro market I've heard about for dark fiction emerging recently.

I also packaged up the very last assignment but I've run out of stamps at home so it'll have to wait until I find time to go down the post office. It needs to go in before the end of next week so there's no real rush. It'll go sometime in the next day or two.

Today I'll be catching up on some slush reading I need to do and writing up the comments. At some point I need to get stuck into a book I'm reading about writing freelance articles. This needs to be done as I'm expecting the next lot of books to arrive soon for Black and then I'll have no time to read anything else.

I'm procrastinating a bit at the moment. I have Idolatry which needs reworking (almost rewriting) and Newland. I haven't touched either of them in a while and know I need to really make a concerted effort on both. I really need to work on Newland in particular. But I keep finding other things to do.

But I'm just about out of excuses now. The school year is over. My critique of a friend's manuscript is over. No articles are due for SA50s+. All my stories are out in the market place except Idolatry.

Possible excuses I could use include: I have a mountain of books I haven't yet read. I have slush reading that needs doing because if I was submitting to this market, I wouldn't want to wait longer than necessary for a response. I need to rewrite Idolatry. I need to rewrite one of my other stories that has sat dormant for over six months. Christmas preparations are taking up too much time. My sister has just returned from interstate and I need to help her out. Found something new and interesting in cyberspace I need to blog about. I need to do something out the back/to the house/down at the club...

I know I can still write because when I force myself to sit down, it still comes out as easily as it always has. And everything I know I've learned over the past six months through my studies or through the net is now second nature, making it less of a chore during the subsequent drafts.

I seem to be lacking the inspiration to actually sit down and write, as if I need to take a breather now the bulk of the work for this year is over. That's fine, I'm all for a writer taking a step back and enjoying the feeling of finishing something, but now I need to get back to work.

It's an odd feeling.

Is this what they call writers block? Any suggestions for getting over it?

I Prompted A Post From Alex

On Murderati, Alex has posted an expanded response to a comment I made on her blog. Go here to read the full post and go here to read the initial post, comment, and response.

It's got me thinking, which could also come under the title of procrastinating.

I'm thinking about what stories, books and movies, are in my all-time favourite list, and more importantly why.

I'm going to have to go back and rewatch/read these again to better break them down but so far my pathetically short list goes something like this:

Somewhere In Time

This has always been number one for me. An emotional sci-fi flick with a beautiful musical score and wonderful characters - particularly Jane Seymour (although I had a huge thing for her so I may be biased).


Both the book and the film but for different reasons. In the book, I felt a kindred spirit for the writer, but in the movie I was more strongly attracted to Anne Wilkes. Not in a physical sense, but as the character who made a bigger emotional impact on me.


Only the first movie. A classic good versus evil with lots of dark undertones for both characters throughout.

The Return of Count Yorga

This was released in 1971 but I didn't see it until 1982 when I was an impressionable 14 year old. A friend and I were only just beginning to get into horror books and our parents allowed us to stay up and watch a horror marathon. It was the first film that really scared me.

Bram Stokers Dracula

Again full of sexual undertones, dark topics, larger than life characters, and good versus evil conflicts.


Yes, I mean the big Hollywood flick with Leonardo and Kate. My wife and I love it. Yes, I guess I can be just a big softy at heart. But I also love the underlying conflicts between Jack and Rose, Jack and Rose's mother, between Rose and her mum, between Rose, Jack and Hartley, and then there's the whole issue of knowing the ship is going down at some point in the flick and then all the action and emotion when it does. And the screen shot of the woman in the white dress floating under the central dome just after the priest finishes his sermon as Jack and Rose rush toward the back of the ship: "Jack, this is where we first met", gets me every time with its calmness and beauty in the middle of such chaos and destruction.

Romeo & Juliet

The linked to movie version, the original play, and a version I saw the state theatre company do where the only set was a couple of huge red curtains. The play on words, the classic love found and lost, the conflict between families, the humour, the tragedy.

So there's my first seven, but I need to expand things. I am very much a person who picks up a book or enters a movie theatre ready to be entertained and willing to immerse myself into the story to allow that to happen. In other words, I'm willing to put in a little effort to ensure I enjoy the experience, I'm not someone who grabs a book or goes to a movie and expects to be entertained, kind of like a heckler in the front row of a comedic performance.

But now I have a start to a list, I need to be able to break down the titles on it. It seems to me I enjoy conflicts at different levels within a story, both within a scene and at the over all plot level. I like it to be relatively fast paced but not break-neck. I want to be able to digest what's going on.

I like a little bit of humour and probably a little bit of irony.

I like a sexual undertone - preferably subtle. Occasionally in your face type stuff but I'm a big believer that a woman should only hint at her womanly charms.

Now surprisingly in this initial list, there is no children specific stories. True the women in Dracula would be teenagers, but in that day and age, they were regarded as adults. Rose was only 17 but again classed as an adult. Same again with Romeo and Juliet.

I considered books by John Saul, but have found on rereading them. I didn't get as much from them as I did when I read them as a teenager. Other books under consideration would be: Carrie; The Omen; Books of Blood; Pet Semetary. (Yeah, I like horror - is that really a surprise?)

I gained some enjoyment from other blockbuster movies such as MIB, Final Destination, SAW I, Nightmare on Elm Street I, Armageddon, and lots of others, but I'm looking for books or movies which have had a lasting effect on me, because that's what I want to do with my books - have a lasting effect on my readers.

Lets see of you can help jog my memory. What books and movies are in your top ten lists? And more importantly, why?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reading List

I've been trying to put together a list of books for my wife and kids to pick something out for Christmas to place in Dad's stocking.

And then I found this. My only defence is that I didn't start with HorrorScope until April 2008.

Sorry guys.

Write Or Die

Tired of all the writing advice floating around in cyberspace? Need a stick and a deadline to get anything done?

Dr Wicked has something for you...

This is the most amazing thing I've seen or heard of in a while. Now I admit I'm unlikely to use it on a regular basis (if at all) but it could be useful for some and my mandate is to collect anything which could be deemed useful for writers and group it all together. So, without further ado, I present you with WRITE OR DIE.

Thanks to Speakeasy for the heads up.

Just About...

Last night I finally got hold of the data I require to finish the assignment I need to resubmit. So I got home and worked steadily on getting it done. Reading the fine print on the requirements to ensure I did everything required, I was surprised when I noticed the clock - 12:20am.

I had to be up early this morning and it always takes me an hour or more to get to sleep. So little wonder the assignment is almost finished and I'm now at work with my eyes hanging out of my head.

I lugged the whole thing to work with me, so I can finish it off, package it up and mail it out today. Starting next week, I want to concentrate on my own writing again.

In other news...

As promised back on the 30/10 with the post Great Idea - I can now pass on my thoughts on subscribing to the free version of the Publishers Lunch: When I complete my first manuscript to a level I'm really happy with and I'm ready to shop it around to find an agent - I will be paying my fees and joining as a fully fledged member to this organisation.

If you want to be up-to-date with what's going on in the industry - this looks good.

But the free version is only a hint at what can be found with the membership. It's a teaser, an advertising ploy. There is a little bit of publishing related news, and it's mildly interesting to know there were 46 new deals done yesterday in the publishing world, but there are no details in the free version. It gives you some book titles which sold and the author's name but out of the 46 deals, it gave book title and author information on half a dozen. That's it.

There was three news items, 1 job ad for a position in New York, and two sections on the benefits of joining the organisation as a fully subscribed member.

I don't have a problem with it being an advertising tool. I can see it would be a worthwhile expenditure to be a member of when I am looking to sell a manuscript. Just not at the moment.

So the final judgement is to go ahead and register for the free newsletter as the occasional piece of information may be useful to you, but when you're ready to shop around your masterpiece, then join as a full member so you can avail yourself of the deal details, and who sold what to whom.

Lastly - still working on a YA link salad. Some very interesting stuff out there. Stay tuned.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

And So It Begins

Two posts from the same blog dealing with YA writing - and showing I know/knew nothing about by pointing out I was already asking the wrong questions and had incorrect assumptions.

Ally Carter who blogs over at Ally's Diary is ready to open up your mind to being able to write for the YA market.

Try these to give you the beginnings of understanding.

The Wrong Questions: This one blew my preconceptions out of the water.

Questions That Aren't Getting Asked At All: and this one clearly defines what a potential YA writer needs to know.

This throws a whole knew light on things. As many of you already know, a lot of my writing revolves around children or teens already. It may very well be possible, I'm already writing YA stuff. Some of it is definitely adult stuff with teens or kids involved but some is definitely with a teenage main character dealing with issues from a teen perspective.

The longest short story I've written so far is called "Confused Love" and that is definitely about a teenager with grownup issues from a teen perspective. At 9000+ words I cut out a lot of stuff I could rework and put back in to make it a longer work. 50-60,000 words for a YA novel shouldn't be difficult. It's NaNoWriMo in whatever time frame I want.

My current Historical Dark Fiction piece called Newland has a teenage girl as the main character. It's currently outlined to come in at 90-100k. A big point made in Ally's posts was to ensure something interesting was happening on every page for a YA novel. Although only in the first draft and obviously in need of revision once I get the story on paper, I think I could cut it down further if required. Still Ally also mentions that with the release of Twilight & Harry Potter, word count limits aren't what they used to be.

Could it be that I'm already a YA writer????

More research required...