Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Good News

But not for me :(

A good friend of mine looks like she's sold her first two pieces of fiction. I won't mention names or where's or how's but she is understandably stoked!

I didn't check my email first thing this morning like I normally do. Her email arrived around 8am. I didn't get around to checking mail until after 10pm. She'd emailed me for advice on a couple of offers she'd received. 14 hours later, I responded - I'm so sorry it took so long A.

So I emailed my advice and I'm extremely happy for her. As soon as it's public, I'll let you know the details and where you can buy her work.

I'm having major problems organising my Internet connection from home at the moment. My current - at least until midnight tonight - ISP charges like a wounded bull and the ISP I want to get on - the only one that offers ADSL2 in my area - cant get the exchange upgraded to meet what they've promised me. My connection date has been put back from the 24th of April to the 28th, to yesterday, to today and now not until tomorrow. I lost my cool with the trying to be helpful person on the other end of the phone. In the end, I have free Internet for the next month - as soon as they connect it that is. It better be on tomorrow or heads will roll.

My writing - I am halfway through a crit on TPN - then ran out of time. I'll finish it tomorrow - I promise Swampfaye. I have another crit to do for another member and I still have this weeks assignment to do. I've been a little slack this week - reading instead of writing, taking part in a chat session on AHWA hosted by Jonathon Maberry (transcript available here - if you're an Australian horror writer, you should look at membership while you're there) which was excellent - instead of writing and generally just taking a bit of time off.

Now of course, I'm a little behind again. The assignment this week is to write a 600 word speech! I've never written a speech before. And there are structures and guidelines and all sorts of stuff. This one is going to be hard - and probably late.

On the good news front - I received my last assignment back from Mr Stone. B+!!! My highest mark to date. Still had some interesting comments in the prose. Some good, some a little strange but another assignment in this module I don't have to resubmit. Unfortunately the speech assignment is also for Mr Stone so I'm preparing for a fall from grace.

Okay - that's it for now.

Like my American friend, who just sold her first pieces, you'll never know how good you're stuff is until you submit it - congratulations again A.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Review: On Writing Horror - revised edition

I have posted a review on HorrorScope of this highly recommended publication. Do yourself a favour - if you write in the dark fiction/horror genre, have ever mentioned a ghost or other supernatural creatures in your tales, then this is a must buy.

Read my review here.

I've decided to only post links to reviews on the blog from now on. If I publish it first on HorrorScope then the link will go there. If I publish a review on my website then it will go there. All HorrorScope reviews I do, are published a day or two later on my website as well. So if you'd like to read any or all of my reviews, go here.

For a complete list of all my published work, go here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Schedule

I've been reading a bit lately about Stephen King. Apparently, he and his wife, Tabitha, had an agreement where, in the early days before Carrie sold, he would spend three hours every night at the typewriter. Without fail!

So I've looked at the time available to me and at what I need to get done each week.

I have assignments due each week.
I have critiques due every week/fortnight.
I have reading I want to do.
I have commitments to do for HorrorScope and SA50s+.
I obviously want to write.

Writing also includes, revisions, edits and research. Somewhere in there, I also want to write new stuff. Then there's blogging and website maintenance.

Did I mention I have a full time job, a wife, two kids still at home and a life outside my keyboard.

I have no idea how I can devote three hours a night and not have my wife and family feel neglected. Work I can do standing on my head. Writing I can squeeze into spare moments but it's not how I write best. Assignment work just needs to be done. HorrorScope and SA50s+ is an occasional thing. TPN critiques are slowing down, at least I don't seem as pushed to get three or four done a fortnight now. Reading is always piling up.

If I do assignment work every Sunday, they should be ready to go out by Tuesday morning. On Tuesday night, I should be able to get a couple of crits done for TPN, if necessary. Wednesday night, I'd like to read. Thursday and Friday night would be for writing.

Saturday I'd like to keep free. When I get the chance, and the resources, I'd like to be able to take my wife out on a Saturday night. Maybe catch a flick or have dinner, or both. Until then, maybe we can go for a walk, a drive or just down the shops. Maybe I can sit in the dinning room with her and help with her latest puzzle (she loves jigsaw puzzles).

So if I look to do my writing work between 8:30 and 11:30 weeknights with an extended 6:30 to 11:30 on Sunday's, maybe, just maybe, I can squeeze in everything I want to do without neglecting my family. Obviously before work time I'll need to pull my weight. School nights I'll make lunches before I sit down. Friday, the washing needs to be done. A couple nights a week, the lad needs to attend and be picked up from training. Saturday and Sunday, during the day will be dedicated to watching football (both the lad and my AFL team) and for handy-man stuff. I have a dog mansion to build.

Not sure how all this will work out but we'll see.

I need a time limit on this too. John Saul, Dean Koontz and Stephen King all had time frames in which they thought they should be published by. They discussed this with their wife's. My diploma is for four years, so it will (or should) conclude in 2011. I have long service leave coming in 2010. WorldCon is scheduled for Australia in 2010. At the end of my diploma I am supposed to have a manuscript good enough to be marketed to publishers to be able to pass. Obviously I would rather have more than one at that time but one is the minimum. I've read in many places that 12 months to two years is normal to get a book published and selling. One of the authors I've already mentioned had a five year deal with his wife and made it in three.

With all that taken into account, I would hope to have a manuscript accepted within a twelve month period of having finished my diploma. That makes it 2012.

If I haven't "made it" by December 2012, then I'll stop devoting so much time to this. I may never stop writing, but I'll stop trying to turn my hobby/dreams into my day job.

There it is in writing. Now if I can only get my better half to agree.

So - I've just let my wife read this before publishing it. She has hesitantly agreed to try my new timetable for the next two weeks. Then we'll revisit it and tweak as required.

Wish us luck.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Time to Read

Yesterday, I played home-handyman. I managed to get a whole host of jobs done after I'd posted my review to HorrorScope. This morning I've managed to do my outstanding crit for AbD. I'm up to date!!!!!!!!

I can now work on my current batch of shorts, my next due assignment or do some reading.

And the winner is.....I intend to read what's required of my next assignment to formulate a plan of attack and then read my "on writing horror" book that I've been dying to read for the last 6 weeks. I guess the title of the blog probably gave that away.

On the puppy front....BJ didn't whine last night as he slept in our room. He snores -- a lot -- and loud, so in the end I still didn't get a lot of sleep.

In local news.......Today it's raining and cold in Adelaide. I hate both. We need the water but my extremities turn a nasty shade of purple in the cold and my fingers hurt when I type. Time to pull out all the winter clothing I guess.

A nice day, sitting by the fire and reading a good book. Sounds nice, doesn't it? But I'd rather be on the beach reading it ;)

Hope the weather is just what you want in your neck of the woods, and it's allowing you to write wonderful masterpieces. Good luck with those submissions.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction April 2007

New review finally posted on HorrorScope.

Read it here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Assignments Done

Assignments module 1 number 4, and module 2 number 4, have both been done and will go in the post Monday. Tomorrow is ANZAC day in Australia so it's a public holiday - no post offices open. Still they're done. ANZAC Day is also first issue release for SA50s+ - fingers crossed it -- and my column -- goes down well.

That should bring me up to date. I just need to do assignment module 1 number 5 this week and I should be back on track. I need to create a better calendar to keep track of what needs to be submitted by when. Great - there's another task on my to do list!

I've updated my current assignment and grade list which you can find here.

I have one crit to do on AbD and one review still to do for HorrorScope. Hopefully they'll be done tomorrow. I have a host of revisions to do on my current clutch of shorts before they go out the door. Getting closer to getting some reading done - yay!!!!

Puppy is starting to settle down. He carries on for about 10 minutes, every two hours through the night but at least my sleep is only broken for short periods of time now. Six or so hours a night is a lot better than 3.

Brought a new lawn mower today, so the lad and I halved the chore. I did the front, he did the back. Place looks much better now. Tomorrow I have a plant to repot and a dog house to design and start building.

Three more days and then it's back to work :( I can just imagine what's waiting for me there.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Death by Puppy

Last night wasn't a good night. BJ had an upset tummy and was up for most of the night. I didn't get to sleep until nearly 1:45am and that only lasted for 10 minutes before I was up again. Stayed in the lounge with pup (after taking him out the back for ablutions) till close to 2:30 and then was up again at 3:00. Back into bed by 3:30 but woken again at 4:00. I woke the wife and asked her to take care of it this time.

She ended up sleeping with the dog in the lounge. Jodi's feeling a little guilty at the moment because she wanted the dog and I'm the one loosing all the sleep. Doesn't really matter - I'm the one on holidays so I can afford to drag my arse around for a few days. In the end I was extremely grateful for the rest. I was up again at 6:30 as Jodi goes to work then. I managed to snatch a little extra in the lounge after I'd fed BJ his breakfast. So last night I ended up with around three and a half hours of extremely broken sleep.

I'll try and have a nap after lunch today and get stuck into some writing tonight.

Yesterday, I managed to get both assignments read and have formulated a plan of attack. I also managed to get two critiques done for members of TPN. I should get both first drafts of the assignments done tonight. The review won't get done till tomorrow at the earliest. Revisions may have to wait another day on top of that - golf doesn't look like happening these holidays :(

Time to go check the pup.

I hope you're sleeping well and managing to get lots of writing done. Good luck with your submissions.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


If it isn't a recognised disease -- it should be.

For the last day and a half, I've been walking around with my brain switched off and my eyes half closed. Eight and a bit years ago, my youngest child was born. I remember getting up at two in the morning for feeding time. I felt like crap the day after and everyday for the first six months of her life but it was worth it. Now I have a puppy doing it to me all over again. But this time without the overwhelming feeling of pride and love.

At least twice a night, he wakes me up with his crying, whining and barking. I stagger out of bed and let him out the back. So far he's managed to do his business outside more often than not, which is good but occasionally he doesn't make it and I'm left to clean up a mess in the wee hours of the morning.

I haven't written or read anything for the last few days due to sleep dragging at my eye-lids should I so much as look at written words in prose.

Later today, I need to sit down and get stuck in. My wife and kids can look after the new arrival for the rest of the day, while I try and get some work done.

By the end of today I need to have read both my due assignments and hopefully I can get the final review done for HorrorScope.

Tomorrow I want my first drafts finished, and I can do the revisions for Drinkers and Grimoire. I need to copy the final comments on Winged Shepherd to file, in case it doesn't do any good in competition, in preparation for a rewrite for market. I need to do a final read through of the current version of Too Late the Rain so that can go up to AbD next week. And then there's all the reading I still have to do.

At some stage this week, I'd like to play a round of golf too, but that doesn't look likely.

*******News Flash********

Puppy photo page has been updated. BJ is now 8 weeks old. See how he's grown here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Busy Weekend

It's Sunday night and I'm plumb tuckered out.

Saturday morning I hosted a chat on dark fiction for members of Authors by Design. I had eight people turn up and some good discussion took place. It was good fun.

Saturday evening we had a big surprise party for my mum's 70th birthday. Got home in the wee hours of this morning.

This morning we picked up our new puppy. I don't have my camera handy, so no new photos at the moment but as soon as I get it back from my eldest daughter, I'll update the link at the bottom of the page.

Been out in the garden for most of the day, puppy proofing the backyard.

His name is BJ. We deliberated with Quill, King and then we met his dad at a dog show this morning. He's huge. His name is Buddy so we decided on Buddy Junior for his son, shortened to BJ.

On the writing front:

Sent out the two assignments in the last post on Friday so I can start on the next two early this week. I have a couple of crits to do and 1 review. Grimoire is ready to be revised and Drinkers is up for final comment this week. Still have plenty of reading to do.

I hope life is treating you well and all your submissions are successful.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Holiday Stuff

Spent the day with my daughter, doing the museum thing today. We had a wonderful time, looking at all the old indigenous stuff, the stuffed animals and the odds and ends scattered around. The South Australian museum isn't huge so it only took an hour or so. It takes nearly an hour just to drive to it from my house!

On the way home we stopped for fast food and she played on the playground for half an hour. Then home.

I finished my second assignment but it's too late to go to the post office now so both the latest assignments will go out the door Monday - where I'll also commence work on the next two assignments.

Been a nice day though :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Module 2 Still Has Credit Possibility

Just received my last assignment back. A straight out B! And a reminder that I'm a little behind on the schedule of work :(

Need to pick up the pace. Today I did a final check on assignment 3 for Module 1 - that will go out the door tomorrow. For the remainder of today and for tonight, I need to try and complete assignment 3 for module 2 and send them out together. That will make 4 assignments graded and 2 under assessment. By the end of next week, I need to send off another 2 assignments to bring my semester one submissions to 8 - the halfway mark.

Then I need to try and maintain it till the mid year break.

So for module one, I currently have the grades:- B-; C+
For module two, I currently have the grades:- B-; B

I need to maintain a B to gain a credit rating - distinctions are beyond me. As Mr Stone pointed out, "a pass is a pass", and that will be the minimum requirement, but a pass with an occasional credit along the way, would be nice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Module 1 Assignment 3 First Draft

I have completed my first draft of my next assignment. Module 1 is the "Introduction to Writing Styles, Techniques and Conventions" - pretty dry stuff but important basics that we (you and I) need to be fully aware of before we go throwing them out the door :)

This assignment is on style. It's one of the better assignments because I had to grab an extract from a favourite author's (step on up, Mr Saul) book (and bring Suffer the Children with you) and pull apart diction; description; POV; tone and voice.

I used pages 12 & 13 to analyse. This is in the forward where sicko family drunk watches, pounces upon and does evil things to, poor young Beth. Why choose such a sick and twisted section - my lecturer for module 1 is Mr Stone :)

It also led nicely into the second section of the assignment, where I had to write my own opening 600 words of a story using a similar style to my selected author. I say similar because John Saul I'm not - nor ever likely to be.

I may enjoy his books and have similar themes running through my twisted tales of the dark side but my way of putting it on the page is different. Not hugely so, but enough for me to recognise the differences in voice - and the fact that he's an immensely popular author and I'm still an emerging hack. And he's a real person living in Seattle, Washington and I'm an Aussie on the other side of the world - see lots of differences :)

So, I wrote the opening 600 words (exactly) which depict a lovely Australian beach from my childhood. It describes in vivid detail what happens leading up to the possible drowning of a young boy. Possible, because his mother manages to pull him out of the water and CPR is about to commence, when we hit the 600 word mark.....insert evil laugh here - will poor Nicholas be saved, will I ever finish the story? Don't know....I may just add it to the story I began and never went back to that formed part of my application.

So now, I'll let it sit overnight. Tomorrow I'll revisit it, polish it if it needs further changes and send it out the door. I was a little shocked to hear that term one had come to an end. There's 16 assignments due in the first semester so I should be somewhere near through eight of them. Style is number five, so I'm a little behind. Time to get stuck in.

In completing this assignment, I got to reread chapter one of Suffer the Children by John Saul - I hate to leave a good book unfinished - think it may be a reading night tonight :)

Good luck with whatever it is you're doing - as long as it progresses your writing forward.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Competition Entry Submitted

It's gone. Just sent it a few moments ago.

The Thirteenth Annual PARSEC Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story Contest closing deadline is today, or tomorrow if you're in the USA. With a theme of "Metallic Feathers" to go with, "An ill wind blows no good" became "An ill wind" which became "ill wind" which became "The Winged Shepherd of Innocence" and sent via email to the lovely Ann Cecil who said I could email rather than post. Apparently I'm Aussie number 3 to enter the contest this year. Fingers crossed.

Today, I've been extremely lazy. I laid in bed till late and slept away precious holiday time, instead of writing.

Last night, my wife and I went to see "Prom Night" - I'll write my own review of it soon but for a pretty good idea on the movie, you can't go too far wrong with this review on HorrorScope by Robert Hood. We had a nice meal and it was nice to have a night out, it's just a pity that Hollywood continues to give Horror a bad name.

Monday, April 14, 2008

End of my credit bid

It seems my lecturer and I will never see eye to eye. My last assignment was graded at a C+, which effectively ended my chances of gaining a credit for this semester. He did, however, give me a chance to readdress the short comings to improve my grade. So I resubmitted.

Apparently not well enough for an improved grade though. He commented that "the story was no worse than the original but definitely no better" - that's okay because he called the first effort "ingenious" - and he was happy with my effort at trying to find a viable market for the fictional piece - but in the end, still graded it at a C+! So I apparently improved some of the submission, without degrading other sections but didn't improve my grade - sounding the death knell of my being able to gain a credit rating for this module. Not happy.

Time to look into the next submission for his (now here I sit pondering what to write. Maybe he reads this blog and it therefore affects my possible grades, maybe not. Do I say that the next submission will be submitted for his butchering, his incompetent grasping of my concepts or do I step back and admit that we're currently not on the same wavelength and as he's the teacher, I need alter my way of doing things - conform to the grade-masters thought patterns to improve my chances.)

Over analysing - probably. I read once that a story will take as many words as it takes to convey the story in full. So that's what I do. I'll tell my story, in my voice, in the manner I believe tells it to the best of my current ability - while continuing to learn about doing it better.

So if indeed you do read this blog, Mr Stone - be assured that I don't agree with all your comments or the manner in which they are presented, but I do take them in and will continue to strive to meet the standards you require to give me better grades.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Review: Fantasy & Science Fiction May 2007

The May, 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

I’m unable to comment on any additional content or layout as I’ve only been sent the five pieces of fiction included in the issue. With that in mind, here are my reviews on what was sent to me:

The Master Miller’s Tale
By Ian R. MacLeod

After an extremely long winded info dump of an introduction, the novella that is “The Master Miller’s Tale” begins a wonderfully told story about Nathan Westover, the son and heir of Burlish Mill on Burlish Hill. His life, his struggle, is a metaphor for the advancement of technology and how it literally and figuratively, steamrolls over the traditions and methods of the past, making what men once held dear and scared, old and antiquated.

Ian MacLeod has a brilliant mastery of the English language which he unleashes in full, as he goes to great length to reel the reader into his tale as he slowly unveils the hidden warnings contained within.

The Tamarisk Hunter
By Paolo Bacigalupi

This story came into being on a call from a regional American newspaper. Their prompt was for stories where country folk in the future, had learned to live sustainably in the American West. Turns out this was the only story they found worth printing. It tells of how a drought, The Big Daddy Drought, has settled into North America and is drying up all the water. A tree called the Tamarisk grows along the river banks of the main water supply into California. It drinks huge amounts of the water, so the government agencies hires people to seek them out and destroy them, paying each hunter a bounty for a successful kill.

It is an interesting take on the water shortages the world over seem to be experiencing in higher frequency than ever before, as we here in Australia know. Australian’s would keep a secret smile for the way this particular hunter plans for the future. In the end, the little man looses out anyway and is forced from his patch. It comes across as a little biased but then, the story did come from the online editor of the paper that called for submissions in the first place.

By K. D. Wentworth

Inspired by a neighbor’s run-away dog, this story is like a rollercoaster ride with no end in sight.

At first I thought it a wonderful tale of an aging woman in the throes of dementia, but it seems so much more than that. Ally can’t keep her universe straight and the love of her life keeps morphing into other men or out of existence all together.

Stunningly told, this will leave you wondering about parallel universes, old age and lost love

Simply brilliant!

The Great White Bed
By Don Webb
Is a disturbing and weird tale of a young teenagers summer long past, told by the boy when he was much older – a flash back, a memory. He tells of having to look after a senile and dying grandfather, doing chores like mowing the grass, doing the laundry and cooking the meals. During this time, his dear old pop, begins reading a strange book that has appeared from nowhere. The elder statesman reveals that the book is actually reading him, but better still, it seems to bring the old boy back to some form of sensibility.

This is where the tale veers off the normal path and enters something much stranger than the Twilight Zone.

The shortest piece in this issue, it is also the strangest.

Telefunken Remix
By A. A. Attanasio

With the advanced warning of: His new story is challenging, complex, and fascinating. If it seems a bit odd at first, stick with it — it will get even odder (but it will all make sense), I delved into the second longest offering of this issue (11,000 words), with heightened wariness.

Before I had reached 600 words, I’d already consulted the dictionary on a couple of occasions. This was going to be a hard slog, but onwards I pushed.

This story will thrill the hardened sci-fi readers out there. It is big on the science aspect and yet maintains a speculative plot throughout. An extremely heavy story, (in construction and in word usage), that deals with a future society’s ability to play with the space-time continuum to allow time travel.

Cloning is common place two million years into the future, long after the human race has passed beyond extinction. From excavated bones, a new society is raised, to live within the trees, gaining sustenance from them. Our flora friends caring for us in every way, well almost every way (There were no Evil Dead scenes here so I can’t confirm or deny this aspect). For company we create companions and tie them to us with strange magic. The combined inhabitants don’t work; they just exist to grow as individuals – much like the crew of the Starship Enterprise but without the uniforms.

As our clones grow, the intrepid explorer in all men comes to the fore and our protagonist clone wishes to swap places with the real man from which his DNA was harvested. To go back in time and exchange places so he can live in the wild world before our destruction. Leave the paradise called Heavinside (a combination of Heaven and Inside), and journey to Errth, the bastardization of Earth, such ingenuity in naming conventions.

It’s like radical environmentalists going without today’s modern conveniences so they can embrace the simple life of a distant yesterday. The end result achieves nothing. The end result of this story is similar.

Ready To Roll

Been busy today.

"The Winged Shepherd" has been pretty much rewritten and polished. I've submitted it to TPN for final comments before posting it off to PARSEC. Today is the 13th so it needs to go either tonight, or at the very worst, tomorrow night. I think it's pretty much done, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

"Drinkers" has been finished. That will go up to TPN after I finish posting this, as this weeks offering.

"Too Late the Rain" has been finished. That will go up to TPN next week.

Both of these pieces have grown, so only one can be entered into the AHWA contest. The other will be submitted to Midnight Echo. Currently I don't have a piece to submit to the flash fiction (<1000 words) competition.

I've added another piece to the examples page on my website. This is an interesting piece of history. It is the very first piece I ever wrote. It's not exactly a story, more a narrative, which is why it never went anywhere. The second piece I wrote was "Wake-up Call" which was published by AntipodeanSF.

I've updated my submissions spreadsheet. Now there's a dismal sight. Currently it reads as:

Published: 3 pieces
Accepted to be published: 2 pieces
Out to market: 1 piece
In progress: 9 short stories (including those three mentioned above)
Abandoned: 10 projects (fiction and non-fiction pieces included)

Plus I have two novels and two novella's in progress, and the outline of another story tucked away that I may or may never write.

I'm considering working on Tiger's Eye once these three pieces are out the door but then I want to research a new idea I have. Tiger's Eye (the first draft) has been written and won't go anywhere so, I'm in no hurry with that one.

I have to look into my next two assignments this week as well, finish another review for HorrorScope, take my wife to "Prom Night" and prepare for the arrival of our new puppy - see link at the bottom of the blog.

The good part about this week - no painting!

So in the next seven to ten days, I'll be submitting at least three pieces out to market - how about you?

Good luck with your writing.


Friday, April 11, 2008

New Review on HorrorScope

I've posted my latest review on HorrorScope today. It's for the May 2007 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Out of the five stories on offer, I found two very good ones and two average offerings and one not so good one.

You can read it here.

Haven't done a great deal today. Finally finished painting - and then decided to chill for the rest of the day. I've read some of the crits for "The Shepherd of Innocence" which points to me needed to do a lot of work over the weekend. I'm waiting on one or two more comments before I sit down and rewrite it.

It will be very busy over the next seven days or so. I will have the final draft of four pieces ready for final viewing and then they will all go out the door. They will add to the solitary piece I currently have in the market. Reviewing, column work and school work have been keeping me side-tracked.

I've gone through some of my older work from last year. Some of the smaller competition pieces were very specifically written for the market they were submitted to. As they are no longer viable, I've decided to post them on my website as samples of my work.

I hope you enjoy them.

Good luck with your writing.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review: To Kill a Mocking bird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Published by Vintage, The Random house group
0 099 46673 2

I’ve just finished reading this as an aid to helping my son define different types of prejudice encountered through the book, so I thought I’d write a short review of it while I was at it.

To Kill a Mockingbird was originally published in 1960 and won the Pulitzer Prize.

Set in Alabama in the 1930’s, it is a stark look at the culture and the prejudices that prevail in southern America through the eyes of a little girl.

Her family is white, and live in Maycomb. It is an old community with most white families able to trace their heritage back a common group of ancestors. The little girl – Jean Louise, is of the first generation that probably wont be marrying a second cousin.

Her dad, Atticus Finch, is the local member of the state legislature, and the incumbent public defender in this narrow minded town.

He is given a case to defend a black man against allegations of raping a white woman.

The story is split into two parts. The first details Jean Louise and her brother Jem, growing up without a mother. They have a fascination for the local recluse and the story goes into depth of their adventures into trying to get Boo Radley to come out into the light of day.

The first section also weaves the background into the tale, highlighting the differences between different folk and the social class structure that was in place.

The second part of the book deals with the trial and repercussions, of a racists America, and shows the first glimpses of people realising how wrong it was.

This novel has always been on school reading lists around the world and is considered a timeless classic. Although the language is occasionally hard to decipher, it is still an excellent read.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Winged Shepherd of Innocence

Well I've posted this piece to TPN tonight. I'm allowed to post one piece each week so it's gone up as this weeks offering. I mistakenly thought Grimoire was for last week and this week but the two parts of that were for last week and the week before that - confused - welcome to my world, come on in the waters fine. You must try the beef and the cabaret is performing till next Tuesday!

Crawls around on floor attempting to regather marbles.

I have just finished reviewing the first story (a novella no less) from the magazine I said I'd help a fellow HorrorScoper with. Nearly 20,000 words! Good story though with a nice hidden message played out through metaphors. You'll see what I mean when I finish reviewing the other four (hopefully shorter) stories in the issue.

Got the bedroom to the halfway point today before running out of steam and desire to continue painting. Only the relatively easy bits to do now - should be finished tomorrow.

Nothing else to report since posting earlier today - oh, one last thing. I'm helping AHWA out by gathering information on all writers festivals and conventions held within South Australia so if you have any information that may be of use, even if you think I'd already have it or the festival is too small to worry about, please leave me a comment on it anyway.




I hate painting - have I said that somewhere else on here???? :)

Last night I finished a rewrite of "Drinkers" so it's ready for a final look over by the crit group and then it's out to market.

Finished a rewrite of "ill wind" and have renamed it "Winged Shepherd of Innocence" - cool title I thought. This would have gone to TPN as well but I've run out of time. Working on the poem at the front of it now and then it's off to PARSEC.

Article for SA50s+ has gone in and has been accepted, now just waiting on the published issue to arrive.

I'm up-to-date on my crits but still haven't done the two reviews for HorrorScope - must get to that soon.

Have gone through the crits for "Too Late the Rain" - some interesting comments. Have taken out the thoughts that I think will improve the piece and ignored the rest. Once I've revised it, that too will go to TPN before submission.

I've changed the writers link on the right side of this page. It now has a partner and both go to pages maintained by Chuck McKenzie. Check out his site along with many other Australian writers. The second link is to Australian publishing houses - very cool resource. I'll also post both links on the web page.

Still painting the bedroom :(

I hope your writing is going well - keep those submissions going out the door.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time Out

Have managed not to sit in front of the keyboard until 8:30PM. I spent the first part of the day pitching in at a working bee down at the cricket club.

I've spent most of the afternoon, vegetating on the couch watching football - Australian style football, not that American style where they wear copious amounts of padding to protect themselves and not that European style football where diving has become and art. Real Australian Rules Football where, despite the best efforts of the administration, spectators can still see a truly physical, man's game.

I then put a chair together for my mother and fetched decidedly average Chinese take-away for dinner.

Now - after I've finished blogging - I will settle into my comfortable chair and finish the second half of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird". My son is in year 10 and has asked for help with his English essay. I have no intention of writing it for him but I can't provide prompts or suggestions on how to complete his assignment if I don't know the text. Besides, it's supposed to be one of those English Lit books, everyone should read. So far, it's a pretty good story and an eye opener on life in pre-World War II Alabama. I'll post a review on my review page.

Final drafts of my three dark shorts, will not be completed before the end of the week :( I have a bit of house reno to complete at the start of the week, so they won't be done until towards the end of next week. I also have my article for SA50s+ to finish Sunday night after the lad finishes his essay.

And I still have two reviews to do for HorrorScope.

Once that's all done, then I can start to look at the next assignments due for my diploma. Oh and I must make time to write a new dark fiction story for this month.

No wonder I needed three weeks holiday......

Good luck with your writing.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Sports Writer

My article submission for SA50s+ has been accepted. With only slight alterations required, the editor has decided to accept my article and I am now the imcumbent sports writer/columnist for the brand new publication.

I have also been informed that the new issue has been brought forward so my next article is due in about four weeks.

My lecturer from my Advanced Diploma course is now emailing me directly to find out if this would be a viable market for other students.

I am now a published short story author, an associate editor for HorrorScope and the sports writer for SA50s+.

If I could only get some dark fiction published, all would be right in the world......

We all want to get our fiction published and make a side income, or get our novel published and retire from our day job. Reality is that very few people achieve the second and less people than you think achieve the first. The lesson I've found is embodied by my favourite Stephen King quote:

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

I had a large amount of personal upheaval over the last six months or so of last year. Over the Christmas - New year period, I stopped writing altogether. Regular visitors to this blog will have noticed I stopped blogging. Things were dark.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually I (we) emerged and my writing began to increase again.

I don't write as much as I used to. When I do write I try to make that time fruitful. I don't write as much fiction anymore, because I'm still learning, and the time I have set aside to continue that learning, leaves me much less time to write creatively. I am working through all my older dark fiction stories. Fixing the multitude of mistakes that proliferate through them.

I'm learning about punctuation and grammar. A member of my crit group is excellent in this area and is providing me with a very thorough education.

But when an opportunity to write comes up, don't dismiss it. A month or so ago, I had one essay, one self help piece and one drabble published. I was struggling with my course work and felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew.

During a particularly long procrastination session of surfing the web, I stumbled across HorrorScope. I read through a few back posts and found the call for a new bunch of associate editors. On a whim, with no previous experience at all, I sent off an email. What was the worst that could happen? I'd be told thanks but no thanks.

The editor took a chance on me and asked me to submit an example review. He liked what I submitted and suddenly I'm an associate editor. People who read that on my writers bio, look favourably on me. Somehow they think I know more than I do.

A lead from an unexpected source put me onto this latest gig. The email was no more than three lines in length and only provided a name, the company and a mobile phone number. I took a chance. I asked the editor what she needed after she asked me what my strengths were. She asked if I liked sport. The rest is history now.

The worst they can say to a polite enquiry is sorry, no. You've lost out on nothing and can't regret not having tried.

It's like sending out your submissions. I've said it before but it's true - an editor is not not going to bash down your door, rummage through your writing space and triumphantly seize your dust covered manuscript from the bottom draw. Take a chance, polish your baby until it shines - and send it to market. Someone, somewhere will love what you've written - and they may even pay you for it.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I've posted off a lot of stuff in the last day or two - and I'm not expecting a single dollar for any of it!

I've posted two assignments off for my diploma.
I've emailed my article to the new publication my course co-ordinator put me onto.
I've put "Grimoire" onto the crit group "to do" list.
I've posted apologises on two different sites because I seem to be annoying individuals.

Lots of stuff going out - nothing new hitting the paper :(

Still lots of reading and reviews to get done. The weather's cold and my back is playing up. Feeling a little down.

Three weeks holidays starting next week - yay - need to paint for at least the first week - boo.

I hate painting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

So Much To Do.....

I can't believe it's only been two days since I last posted - so much has happened.

The boring stuff first:

I received confirmation that my two erotic stories are the only two submitted to the anthology. The other two have been rejected.

One of my cats has an injured front leg.

Told you it was the boring stuff. Now to the good stuff.

A few posts ago I told you how my last assignment was returned with a lower than wanted grade, due to me not covering one of the points requested and because I targeted what the lecturer thought was an unrealistic market. Over the last two days, I've scoured the freelance market lists and found a suitable, non paying university paper. I emailed the editorial team with a simple query which turned into an email conversation. Someone famous said "timing is everything" and my timing was spot on with these guys. They are currently trying to convince their own department of creative writing to submit creative fictional pieces to the paper. They're apparently not getting a huge response. So they've asked me to submit some pieces to them and to let my fellow students know the new market. Like I said, it's non-paying but a credit is a credit.

Anyway, now that I found my valid market for my assignment, I rewrote the article that the lecturer labelled "ingenious". As the part I didn't include on the first submission dealt with death, this submission was a little more sombre than the initial effort. I don't think it's quite as strong but then it should be enough to get me back into the grade level I'm after.

I also finished my next assignment that I'd done a first draft of last week. Both assignments will go out the door tomorrow.

At work today, I received an email forwarded from the course co-ordinator of my Diploma. She was sending out emails to all students about possible writing opportunities. One of them was for a regular columnist for a new magazine coming out in South Australia. Details were vague so I phoned the editor to ask for more information. Again my timing was spot on. On the spot she invited me to be the sports columnist and to submit a piece on South Australia's two teams in the national football league - the AFL. If she likes what she sees, I'll be the new sports writer for the new publication! At the moment this is also a non-paying market but she is trying to change that. I'm guessing it depends on the subscription rates but it's still another credit.

I've had two more books arrive to clamour for my attention. First is John Saul's first book "Suffer the Children". I read this book when I was a teenager but have since lost that copy. I intend to rebuy all of the books I once owned, particularly John Saul's as my writing has a lot in common with his, at least the themes are similar. The second is the AHW's "on writing horror" - the bible for horror writers the world over. It currently sits on my desk and whispers to me. I've worked like crazy tonight and will continue to do so over this week, just to clear the decks so I can sit back and read this tome.

And lastly it looks like I've won tickets to see the new film "Prom Night" - this will be a good night out for me and the better half.

Still to do this week:

Reviews x2
Final version of "ill wind" to be done and a new title to be thought of.
Final version of "Drinkers" to be done.
Final version of "Too Late the Rain" to be done.

I'm up-to-date with my crits on TPN but there has been no movement by other members on "Grimoire". This is a little annoying and a little worrying. It's early days yet so we'll see.

I hope your recent experiences with writing have been as good as mine.

Keep on submitting those stories.