Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moving On

My little girl has a bout of tonsillitis keeping me at home at the moment, so I thought I'd try and make some progress.

Today I emailed out comments and suggestions to two writers-in-arms, finished reading MageSign (review to come - maybe tomorrow), resubmitted Wamphyri which received a rejection yesterday, and revised and submitted Dreaming to the Blackness Within Anthology.

Quite a productive day all in all.

Time for bed.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I am pleased to announce this is post
The festivities have been meticulously planned. The invitations have gone out. If you haven't received yours yet, keep an eye on the mailbox. Directions are included but you can't miss the place with its grand new entrance.

The champagne is ready and waiting,

The food is to die for,

The guests are beginning to arrive any way they can,

Formal wear, casual, or dress as you please - I don't mind.
Although Ms Alba may have taken that a little the wrong way...but none of the other guests seem to be complaining.
500 posts, nearly 8000 visitors with over 100 unique people arriving every week--and more than half of them coming back for more.

To everyone who reads, comments, or throws darts at BT effigies - thank you for coming and being a part of it.

A Quite Weekend

On Friday I received an assignment back and managed to continue my run of consistency - 5 returned assignments, 5 B grades. I never claimed to be a A student so I'm happy enough with my progress. One of my lecturers has stated outright they don't give out A's unless something is exceptional so I don't expect anything better than a B anyway.

I also made a discovery about my progress through one of the modules. I posted my fourth assignment on Thursday evening and had a look at recent activity on the site where I was amazed to see the time stamps for all the other students and when they commented in the forum or posted and assignment. It seems I'm currently two weeks ahead of the class so I need to slow down. Obviously my timetable for submissions isn't the same as everyone else.

Today I have some reading to do for a friend, I'd like to do some more reading on MageSign, and I need to finish and submit Dreaming. Obviously I don't need to do any assignment work this week, but I'll probably do a draft of the next assignment anyway. I may even find some time to do a chapter of "A Kookaburra's Laugh" - on a side note, I'm going to rename all the Newland labels to A Kookaburra's Laugh.

I hope your writing has been a great deal more productive than mine has been over the last three days.

Speak soon


Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Post For The Week

This weekend will be full. This afternoon, I'll be watching hi-tech cars go round in circles at ridiculous speeds - and fixing a leaky tap in the shower.

Saturday and Sunday will be more fast cars and scantily clad women.

Saturday night is Presentation Night down at the cricket club to wrap up the season.

So this weeks word total for "A Kookaburra's Laugh" finishes at a dismal 907 - but then that's 907 more than I did the two weeks before :c(

I did write a new short story at just over 1200 words so it wasn't a total loss, and I managed to finish and submit two assignments. Somewhere in there I read and reviewed Tainted as well. Oh, and I finished revising Dreaming - which I must send off very shortly.

Last night I began reading MageSign. 5 chapters in, but I'm not saying anything until I write the review. That doesn't mean good or bad things about the book. You'll just have to read the review, or better yet, go buy yourself a copy on Amazon and we can have a book club discussion once we've both finished reading it.

And finally I can announce - Dark Rose has been accepted for publication in Yellow Mama's Issue #16 Halloween edition for 2009. My child vampire story has finally found a home. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Cindy Rosmus for all her input in making the story better and for accepting Dark Rose into the Yellow Mama family. This was also my first ever request for a rewrite, and I found the experience to be a positive one because of Cindy's professionalism. I'd highly recommend submitting your stories to YM.

So, have a great weekend and I hope you manage to get some writing done, or have a great time which will recharge your batteries and creative juices so you can hit the keyboard running when the new week begins. Remember April starts mid next week so any March deadlines are now looming large.

Good luck with all your writing.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Progress

But not on Newland or as I'm starting to think of it "A Kookaburra's Laugh".

Last night I turned a new short story I wrote, into a screenplay for assignment 4 of module 2. It had to come out at 5 pages. Up until now I've used Word, with my own created template in place for formatting, to create these things, and so I used my past efforts to estimate how long a story I would need.

I was way wrong.

Assignment 3 needed to be 4 pages long. I used a 350 word story I'd created on Cafe Doom as it's basis and struggled to contain it to four pages. I figured I'd need a story under 500 words to make 5 pages. But this time I used the demo version of Final Draft 7 (apparently the lecturer doesn't have an issue with great big watermarks spread across the assignment submissions).

My new short story came out at a little over 1200 words. I figured I could format it up and once I'd discovered how long it was, I could decide on what to do with it from there. My guess was a little padding could go on it and it would work for the final 15 page script I'd need.

So I wrote it out and formatted it in Final Draft 7 and fell onto page five with the last bit of dialogue in the whole story - and I used a lot more direction and scene setting than I have in the past, but less actual scenes.

The good news is I'm now back to being in front with the diploma submission schedule. Module 1 has had assignments 1-3 completed, but only assignment 1 returned so far. Module 2 has had 1-4 completed (1-3 submitted and returned with grades). The assignment I formatted last night needs a final read through and then I'll submit it tomorrow. Module 1, assignment 4 is on POV and should be a walk in the park.

Nat might find this new story amusing as it details the struggle of a young man and his efforts to overcome his fear as he enters the local convenience store to purchase a box of condoms. Not particularly horrific in any way, other than to another 16 year old male who has gone through a similar situation - but I don't choose what pops into my head.

For the rest of today I'll be reading MageSign.

I'm a big Formula One fan and that season starts this weekend with the Melbourne Grand Prix (which I can't afford to attend :c() - so this weekend is a write off for doing any work. Still, all work and no play...

Negotiations continue with my rewrite of Dark Rose. This is the first time I've been asked to do a rewrite and I'm enjoying the back and forth comments with the editor. It's a good thing and just about complete with one final issue being raised and that a fairly easy one to fix. I've done the five changes it needed and sent back yet another version (I think this will make it version 4.3 or something). Announcement on where and when you can see it should be happening soon.

**Late announcement** I've applied to join The Random Complexity Writing Challenge instituted by Aerin the Mastermind. As part of the rules for joining I have to place the following on my blog:

1. Declare your intentions to join the challenge by putting up a post on your blog with this information. Fill out the registration form here. (Done!)

2. Write a minimum of 1000 words of fiction or creative non-fiction per month, from January through December of 2009. (You'd think this would be straight forward but I've only managed 907 so far this month. Unless you count my short story as well and then that comes to a little over 2000. Still a far cry from the 15k I wrote last month. I wonder if I can get writing assignments included in this...)

3. Post an update about your fiction on your blog, or on the Challenge blog (coming soon.) So, you can publish your writing if you want feedback, or you can just put up a post about the 1000 words you've written in the past month. (Moderator has the right to sniff out impostors, but mostly she trusts the honor system.) (I already do this so no great drama).

4. Your 1000 words per month can be in any form, but they must be created for this challenge. So, you could write two new non-sequential 500 word snippets for your previously begun WIP, or several hundred haikus, or a variety of short stories. You can use writing prompts. Fan-fic counts. Revisions count only if the original words were written as part of this challenge (so it doesn't count to merely edit your 2008 NaNo entry.) Creative non-fiction absolutely counts. Facebook missives and email correspondence do not count. (Hopefully I can start this in April - getting another 1000 words out this weekend will be difficult - you know, with the race and all...would this bit about "Creative non-fiction" - would that be writing assignments?)

5. Rules may be further explained, at any time, and entries are at Moderator's discretion.

Come join in with me. Fill out the registration form here.

More Links

Yes I post a lot of links to stuff I think is interesting and possibly educational for writers of all levels - it's what I do.

Here's some great advice on bad advice from Jim C. Hines

I remember some time back mentioning in a post that a writer needs to possess innate talent, be willing to put in a huge amount of work and have copious amounts of luck to actually get that book deal and make a financial success of this writing caper. It seems Moonrat over at Editorial Ass(istant) agrees with me. Who knew I knew what I was talking about...

As I was randomly clicking on links which led me to different sites and more links to keep my random path moving in new and exciting directions, I came across this site: NewPages.COM. There is a wealth of information here on, about, and generally concerning the industry. Go lose yourself for a while.

The above link and this next one are both thanks to yet another new site I stumbled across: Random Complexity Writer's Challenge has loads of interesting and useful information - and links - like this one to the "A Comprehensive and Totally Universal Listing of Every Problem a Story Has Ever Had" article by Douglas A. Van Belle over at ASIM. If you want to improve your chances of getting out of the slush pile, or at least of being published by ASIM, then you must read this.


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

A Night of Horror Special Event: How to Make a Horror Feature Film Forum
Wednesday March 25, 6.30pm at Metro Screen, Paddington Town Hall

Learn the ins and outs of making an independent horror feature film from filmmakers who have successfully navigated the process! Special guest feature filmmakers: Ursula Dabrowsy (FAMILY DEMONS), Mike Masters (REEL ZOMBIES), Stacey Edmonds and Doug Turner (I KNOW HOW MANY RUNS YOU SCORED LAST SUMMER). And forum chair ABC Movietime journalist Jason Di Rosso.

Ozploitation Shorts Showcase presented by A Night of Horror

Wednesday March 25, 9pm at Metro Screen, Paddington Town Hall

Don’t miss your chance to see this gut-wrenching line-up of shorts from Australia’s up and coming generation of horror filmmakers. It’s a bloody fantastic program packed with frights, laughs, and gore, proving that the spirit of 70s and 80s Ozploitation cinema is still undead and kicking.

A Night of Horror opening night screening of The Broken
Thursday March 26, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night of Horror International Film Festival is opening with the Australian Premiere screening of The Broken, the creepily atmospheric second feature film from OSCAR and BAFTA nominated director Sean Ellis (Best Short Film: CASHBACK).

On a busy street in London, Gina (Lena Heady) thinks she sees herself drive past in her own car. Stunned by this strange event, Gina follows the mystery woman up to her apartment. From here, events take an eerie turn for the worse until Gina's awareness slides from solid reality into a nightmarish existence.

Accompanied by the short films: The Strange Case of Mr Hollow 7 Min - Rodrigo Gudino (Canada) and Corrections 10 Min - Bob Franklin (Australia).

A Night of Horror presents: I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer
Thursday March 26, 9pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

The Australian cricket-themed satirical slasher feature film, I KNOW HOW MANY RUNS YOU SCORED LAST SUMMER steps up to crease in 2009. Sharpen up your game.

In the heady Australian summer of ‘89 a young cricketer is hospitalized by his bullying teammates. 20 years later he returns to his homeland to wreak his bloody revenge. Scotland Yard hotshot Kim Reynolds arrives in Sydney to assist New South Wales Detectives Gary Chance and Shane Scott in the hunt for the serial killer terrorizing Sydney. The remaining team members are relocated to a safe house in Joadja Creek, Illawarra; unfortunately it doesn’t turn out to be that safe! One by one in the remote Australian outback the team members are dismissed by a moustachioed serial killer with a razor sharp cricket glove and an arsenal of sharpened stumps.

Special guests Stacey Edmonds and Doug Turner - the film's directors/producers - will be at the screening's Q&A and also at the fest's Horror Filmmaking Forum.

A Night of Horror presents: Mum & Dad
Friday March 27, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

Gore Zone calls MUM & DAD "The Best UK Horror of the last decade". See it for yourself, and you'll know why.

Set around a major London airport, MUM & DAD is about a murderous and perverse family who live at the end of a runway. They live off the airport, feeding off the black market and sending their two adopted children out to bring back victims for Mum to torture and Dad to kill. Lena, a young Polish worker, is one of these victims. The film charts Lena's battle to survive Mum and Dad's savage parental regime, until finally, Lena finds her only way out is to become as savage and brutal as the family itself.

Accompanied by the short films: Daugher Of The Above - 12 Min Rodney Bolton (Australia) and The Ugly File - 10 Min Mark Steensland (USA).

A Night of Horror Presents: Family Demons
Friday March 27, 9pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

FAMILY DEMONS will leave you uncertain as to whether you are watching reality or a character’s perception of reality, similar in tone to THE SIXTH SENSE and THE OTHERS. Thematic and visual references in FAMILY DEMONS hark back to Brian de Palma’s horror classic, CARRIE and contemporary Japanese and Korean ghost stories, such as THE GRUDGE and TALE OF TWO SISTERS. Inspired by real events, FAMILY DEMONS is a powerful and disturbing chiller, and an amazing feature debut from director Ursula Dabrowsky. Don't miss the world premiere of her film at A Night of Horror.

When Billie, an abused teenage girl, murders her alcoholic mother, she is horrified to discover that the mother’s vengeful spirit returns to haunt her. Even in death, the mother is hell bent on denying Billie her freedom.

Ursula is flying in from Adelaide for a Q&A at her screening. She will also be on the panel at the festival's Horror Filmmaking Forum at Metro Screen on Wednesday, March 25.

Accompanied by the short film: Hold Your Fire 8 Min - Wes Benscoter (USA).

A Night of Horror presents: Midnight Movie
Friday March 27, 11:45pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown - feature starts at 12:00am sharp!

Here's your chance for a genuine old school grindhouse experience! Come to the festival's midnight screening of MIDNIGHT MOVIE, a film that hearkens back to such genre classic as DEMONS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The perfect film to screen at the witching hour!

At a run down theater in a sleepy suburban town, a group of friends get together for a midnight screening of an early 1970's horror film. The director/star is thought to have died five years earlier in a psych ward massacre. But the detective and doctor who witnessed the aftermath of the bloodbath suspect that the director was not a victim, but the perpetrator of the killings and is still on the loose. What none of them understand is that he has enshrined his soul into the film itself.

As the film starts, the kids heckle the old black-and-white scenes, but are jolted when the movie's gruesome killer butchers one of their friends on screen! They realize that it is not the prank that they had hoped it was as they soon become the stars of the very movie they are watching on the screen. Caught between the world of reality and the screen's flickering shadows, these unsuspecting viewers fight to stay alive in the locked theater.

Accompanied by the short film: Dead Bones - 18 Min Olivier Beguin (Switzerland).

Free Forum with Ian Hunter - The Dark Knight's visual effects supervisor
Saturday March 28, 1pm at The International Film School Sydney

A Night of Horror International Film Festival and The International Film School Sydney are proud to present visual effects master Ian Hunter (New Deal Studios) in a free public forum. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Ian is one of the world’s leading visual effects supervisors. You’ve seen recent examples of his stunning work in: THE DARK KNIGHT, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, SPIDER MAN 3, and WAR OF THE WORLDS.

Ian will be screening samples of his work, special behind the scenes footage, and talking about the ins and outs of the visual effects industry. Ian’s visually mesmerising short film ALLURE is screening as part of A Night of Horror International Film Festival!

A Night Of Horror International Film Festival Shorts Program
Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night Of Horror International Film Festival is delighted to present a special program of bite sized horror treats - short films to shock and entice. The program is spread over three installments, all of which are not to be missed!

Saturday March 28th, 4pm - Shorts Programme #1: Horror Comedies & Animations
A line-up of hilarious, disgusting, wild and wonderful horror comedies & animations from all around the world that will leave you in stitches!

Sunday March 29, 4pm - Shorts Programme #2: H.P Lovecraft & Other Adapted Shorts
Join us for a line-up of shorts inspired by the legendary author H.P Lovecraft

Thursday April 2, 7pm - Shorts Programme # 3: F#*%ed Up People Doing F#*%ed Up Things
You know they're out there!

A Night of Horror presents: Reel Zombies

Saturday March 28, 9pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

REEL ZOMBIES is a hilarious thrill-ride and the most original zombie film of the decade.

Independent zombie filmmakers, (real-life) Producer Mike Masters and Director David J. Francis, the team behind the commercially unsuccessful ZOMBIE NIGHT 1 and 2, set about to complete their trilogy, only this time, using the real zombies that have taken over much of the world. With a full crew and a documentarian following them all the way, Masters and Francis embark on the production of their masterpiece only to discover that shooting in a post-apocalyptic world offers even more challenges than they faced on the first two films.
Followed by a Q&A with Mike Masters the co-director/producer and star of REEL ZOMBIES.

Accompanied by the short film: Kickstart My Gandhi - 10 Min Shane K (AU).

A Night Of Horror presents: Finale
Sunday March 29, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night Of Horror International Film Festival proudly present the world premiere of John Elfers shoe-string budget feature Finale. Mystery, horror and suspense are captured in the visual style of the 1970's colorful Italian gialli.

A family descends into a vortex of denial and paranoia after the death of the oldest son. Though labeled a suicide, the bizarre circumstances lead the mother, Helen (Carolyn von Hauck), to believe there are darker forces at work. Black paint was thrown over everything reflective in the son's decrepit Victorian house, an explosive trap set in his bedroom and a woman from his past haunts the cemetery where he lies buried. But when Helen's investigation threatens to ruin the life of her teenage daughter, Kate (Suthi Picotte), and possibly her own sanity, she realizes there is but one escape from this nightmare world - the very route attempted by her dead son.
Accompanied by the short films: Shapes - 5 MIN Alan Brennan (IRELAND) and Still Life - 9 min Daniel McKleinfeld (USA).

A Night Of Horror @ Club 77
Sunday March, 9pm til late at Club 77, Kings Cross

Join A Night Of Horror at Sydney's notorious Club 77 for horror themed music videos and the horror party to end all parties! Includes the feature film Burn Paris Burn - 71 Min Laurent Sebelin (France), and the shorts Anyone There? - 10 Min Holger Frick (Germany), Kagimiko - 13 Min Mathieu Arsenault (Canada), The Flies - 5 Min Josh Collier (UK) and Stygian Horizon - 5 Min Evan Chan (Canada).

With horror themed music videos:
  • More Control - 6 Min Steve Daniels (USA)
  • The Beauty - 4 Min Luca Vecchi (Italy)
  • Hunt - 2 Min Yohei Ito (Japan)
  • Francois Martin By The Tenth Stage - 4 Min John Von Ahlen (AU)
  • The Man Who Made Monsters - 6 Min Onethirtyeight (UK)
  • Haunted By The Thought Of You - 6 Min Terran Schackor (USA)
  • Karaoke Show - 5 Min Karl Tebbe (Germany)
  • Crystal - 4 Min Jason Lapeyre (Canada)
A Night Of Horror Presents: Plague Town
Monday March 30, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

Get ready to experience the graphic shocker from director/co-writer David Gregory that DVD Savant hails as “a bloody onslaught…PLAGUE TOWN knows which buttons to push to extract the maximum in squeamish delirium!” Fangoria calls it “A boundary-pushing, taboo-breaking experience.” AV Maniacs says it “embodies the spirit and atmosphere of the great horror films of the ‘70s.”

In a remote village, a shocking secret lives on with each and every baby born. It is said that all children are creatures of God…except here. Now for a group of lost tourists, every conception of ‘family’ will soon be sliced to pieces. And for a doomed few, the ultimate terror is about to hit home.

Accompanied by the short film: Una Storia Di Lupi (A Wolf's Tale) - 27 Min Cristiano Donzelli (Italy).

A Night Of Horror presents: Linkeroever (Left Bank)
Tuesday March 31, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night Of Horror presents Belgian horror gem Linkeroever (Left Bank), directed by Pieter Van Hees. Left Bank is an original and emotionally true thriller about a driven, confused girl who, in her journey to womanhood, gradually starts alienating from the place she lives, the man she loves and the body that fails her. Welcome to Left Bank.

When Marie begins to suffer from headaches, nausea and insomnia, she starts believing that the place they live has a bad influence on her body. Her obsessions create a distance between them, Bobby believes she is just imagining things. Now Marie feels lonelier than ever. She begins to doubt whether she can really trust Bobby. Life in Left Bank, once envisaged as a dream town, becomes an alienating nightmare.

Accompanied by the short film: Shadows - 14 Min Michael Jonathan (NZ).

A Night Of Horror Presents: The Dead Outside

Wednesday April 1, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night Of Horror International Film Festival presents Scottish horror/thriller feature The Dead Outside, directed by Kerry Anne Mullaney.

Following the outbreak of a terrifying, brain-disease inducing virus, a botched anti-viral program designed to stop mass panic turned millions into carriers, leading to a catastrophic collapse of the population. The dying victims wander desperate, confused, violent, or scared; always in the dark… until now.

With the cause of the outbreak and the fate of the wider world largely unknown to him, Daniel, a man desperate and recently bereaved, finds refuge in a crudely fortified but once-working farm in the Scottish countryside. In the face of evidence of recent life, and recent killings in the form of a mass grave, something is not quite right with Braehead Farm. Unexpected company arrives in the form of a mysterious young girl, who claims the farm as her own. As Daniel struggles to come to terms with his new life, and keep a grip on his own fragile sanity, the mysteries surrounding the farm and its young inhabitant are revealed to run far deeper than he first thought. In a desperate world, true evil lurks in the most unexpected of places.

Accompanied by the short films: H5N1, Le Jour De La Pandemie - 8 Min Jean Olivier (France), Gasoline Blood - 9 Min David Pope (UK), and A Break in the Monotony - 4 Min Damien Slevin (Australia).

A Night of Horror presents: No Morire Sola (I'll Never Die Alone)

Thursday April 2, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

NO MORIRE SOLA is probably the most shocking film you will see this year, reminiscent of such exploitation classics as I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, THEY CALL HER ONE EYE, THE BRIDE WORE BLACK, and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. If you are offended by scenes of strong violence and brutality, you had better sit this one out...

The film follows the traumatic journey of four female University students who travel back to their family home in the remote outback of the La Plata region, Argentina. On the road they witness a violent crime perpetrated by local thugs. They are captured, hideously violated and some are shot dead… The surviving women, out of sheer determination for revenge, mercilessly pursue their attackers to the bitter end.

Accompanied by the short films: Linda Lorna: The Red Door - 16 Min Jason Bognacki (USA), and Fetal - 4 Min Tony Falcon (USA).

A Night of Horror Closing Night: Splinter Screening, Awards Ceremony and After Party!
Friday April 3, 7pm at Dendy Cinema Newtown

A Night Of Horror International Film Festival comes to a close with the Australian premiere of Splinter - screening to be followed by the A Night Of Horror Awards Ceremony and after party!

Fantastically paced, with smart, motivated characters, and plenty of cool scares and gore, Toby Wilkins' SPLINTER is the best monster flick we've seen in years. So, we're not at all surprised that the film recently won almost every major award at Screamfest (The USA's biggest horror film festival) including: BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS, BEST MAKE-UP, BEST EDITING, & BEST SCORE). This is one horror film that you do not want to miss! DREAD CENTRAL says, "Splinter is garnering quite the buzz and with good reason -- it kicks ass!"

A young couple has retreated to the wilderness for a romantic camping weekend – but the trip quickly spirals into a nightmare when they are car-jacked by an escaped convict and his girlfriend. Thrown together by chance, no one can imagine the terrifying horror that awaits the two couples at the remote and isolated gas station.
Includes FREE DRINK on arrival courtesy of HOWLING WOLVES WINES, and admission to the awards ceremony and after party.

A Night Of Horror Film Festival 2009

All sessions are rated R 18+ (except I Know How Many Runs Your Scored Last Summer - rated MA 15+).

Ticket Prices:
Regular sessions: $15 / $11 concessions
Closing Night: $20 / $15 concession
Metro Screen Filmmaking Forum: $15
Club 77: $15

Dendy tickets can be booked on: 9550 5699
All other sessions, tickets only at the door.


Dendy Cinema, 261-263 King Street, Newtown
Metro Screen, Crn Oatley Rd & Oxford Street, Paddington
Mu-Meson Archives, Crn Parramatta Rd & Trafalgar St, Annandale
Club 77, 77 William Street, Kings Cross

Addendum - The Australian Horror Writers' Association would like to congratulate AHWA member Kyla Ward on the world premiere screening of her comedic short horror film Bad Reception, screening at A Night Of Horror International Film Festival on March 28. Knock 'em dead, Kyla!

Submitting News

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

For information on the Australian Horror Writers' Association, visit australianhorror.com.

This AHWA NEWS DIGEST has been compiled, written, and republished in select Australian horror haunts by Talie Helene. Currently archived at the
AHWA MySpace page, Southern Horror, and Darklands, and hosted by AHWA members Felicity Dowker, Jeff Ritchie, Brenton Tomlinson, and Scott Wilson.

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buffet Time

Lots of stuff to click on and an answer:

Seems like award season has seriously hit the literary arts. Here's just a few of the award finalists mentioned around the place.


The reason I'm happy to list these awards is because they help build reading lists writers should be reading. Not only do we need to read what's come before (an incredible backlist in any chosen genre which will fill a lifetime of reading on its own), but we need to stay in touch with what is considered really good at the moment. Do yourself a favour and scan the lists, and then pick one to buy. Remember that buying a book helps the industry you want to be a part of.

Below I have some links I saved a little while back because I thought they were useful to writers whether they new, emerging (got to love that title - it's like labelling a sportsperson with 'potential'), or seasoned veterans. Some really good points made here - go read.


Last link for this post - Alexandra Sokoloff has been at it again, producing writing lesson posts on her blog which are insightful and extremely educational. Go have a look at the latest one here. At the bottom of the post are the links to all the other writing lessons, but she has recently done some scene and character breakdowns of much loved and hugely iconic films - worth checking out.

Now - the answer - specifically, Ben's answer:

Ben - how much writing are you actually getting done at the moment? I may be way off the mark, and if I am with any of this, I apologise up front, but unless every weekday needs to be used to do something different in your writing, or you spend much of your work day doing writing instead of your real job (guilty as charged on both counts), then you have time to go to uni.

Is the issue writing time, or commitment to better time management to allow you to do study, write, and have a life?

It all comes down to how much you want something, and what you're willing to sacrifice for it - and we all know how much writing is about sacrifice.

My comments on study impinging on my writing is because I have no wish to totally disregard my family. They have shown an unbelievable amount of support for what I'm trying to accomplish - which in the end, is a very selfish thing. So I want to make time to do things with them. I still don't do as much as I probably should, and I feel guilty more often than not because of that, but we all know how writing is a disease, not a whim.

Like you, I work full time at a normal day job. I'm lucky because I have plenty of autonomy to get my job done and get some writing in. If I didn't, I wouldn't be studying because I wouldn't have enough writing time. Of an evening I write most of the time, but sometimes I sit and watch TV with my wife, or simply by myself (or do some reading) so the rest of the family has some computer time. I'm trying to make time to spend with my kids. I play console games with my youngest or discuss homework or whatever. I give her lots of hugs and kisses if I can't manage any other time. I think she knows how much I love her - I hope she does anyway. I want to go and kick the footy with my lad - and I will if he ever manages to get a ball from the coach - or I might just have to go buy one. He's a bit old for hugs and kisses, but I want to share time so he knows I still love him. I take time to listen to my wife's day and occasionally do jigsaw puzzles with her. We always wind up the evening by watching a little TV together - if I can drag myself away from the keyboard before she goes to sleep. I love her more now than the day we meet, but I feel I take her for granted sometimes and that's not a good thing. (Now I'll probably be in trouble for revealing too much personal life...)

The point is, I have to share myself around a number of individuals. I don't really have friends other than those online. None of the other people I know in real life have the same writing interests. I play sport during summer and have friends there, but I don't have contact with them outside of the sporting arena - that's my choice. I'd rather have that time to write.

I allocate a couple of days a week to getting coursework done. I've made a commitment to it, both financially, professionally, and personally. I hate starting something and not finishing it. So I've sacrificed some writing time to get it done. I rearrange my schedule so I still get some writing done and some reading in - otherwise why bother, but if I couldn't write a little at work as well, then I wouldn't do it.

So, for you, it comes down to what you can give up of your social life. I know you can't write at work due to them locking everything down. You may not have the freedom I currently enjoy either. I believe you have a partner, who you must not take for granted, and who is currently supportive of your writing (which is great).

So you need to decide on how much you want to continue with your current social schedule, because that is where the sacrifice must come from - and that probably includes your political involvement. I know you're passionate about that side of things, but it becomes a question of how many passions you can support and be totally committed to. It's great for successful writers to support politicians or animal rights groups or any other cause they deem worthy, but it's a lot harder for an up and comer.

Now I know this comes across as a lot of telling rather than suggesting, but then sometimes things just need to be laid out. If we want to write, we must make sacrifices. If we want to study as well, then more sacrifices need to be made, otherwise we will not finish what we start. We still need to work a day job, and we still need to care for our loved ones. I whinge about the study, but I am learning, but at the same time it isn't for everyone.

Ask yourself:

Why do you want to study?
Can you give up some things to make the time, and not resent giving them up three or four years down the track?
Can you give your partner enough time?
Will you still have enough time to maintain your current writing output (and you need to be honest here)?

If this lengthy answer is stepping over the boundary of friendship, or even that of faceless advisor, then feel free to tell me so and I'll happily delete this section of the post and never go there again, but I thought if my rambling is having an effect on your decision, then I should address it and put some real light on things.

That's more than enough from me for today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Another Assignment Done

I spent the evening working on completing the submission version of assignment 3 for my 'Write Fiction 2' module, even though I haven't received assignment 2 back yet. My lecturer for this module seems a little slow on returning things.

I've also finished checking out my assignment requirements for the other "screenplay" module. I need to come up with 3 more scripts by the end of semester: one of 5 pages; one of 6 pages; and one of 15 pages.

The long one I already have a story in mind for, but the other two need something new. From what I've managed so far I need to come up with two flash stories around 500 and 600 words respectively. Might be time to visit Cafe Doom for some inspiration, or maybe the current anthology markets. It seems the only way I can write a script is to write a standard story and then convert it to a script by how I see the story play out in my mind's eye - I'm just wired that way I guess.

Of course, this will mean less time for other types of writing, like my manuscript and any new shorts :c(

I'm also about ready to begin reading my next book - MageSign by Alan Baxter, the follow up to RealmShift which I read a week or so ago.

A friend at work has also given me another book to read at some point (like I need more books), but I couldn't say no to this one: The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - I mean, really, could you say no to that? 54 short stories about the greatest detective character of all time. If I can't learn a thing or two about creating characters from reading this then I should probably stop writing now...

So that's the update from me for today.

Still in negotiations with an editor about my rewrite. They wanted something else changed and I said no. They came back with a different suggestion which met their needs and didn't compromise my story. I made the change and am now waiting their decision once more. It looks good, but I'm not counting any chickens - or ducks. Apart from that, no subs although one is just about ready to go, and no rejections.

Here's hoping everything is going well in your neck of the woods.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: Tainted - Tales Of Terror And The Supernatural

Edited by Aaron Polson
Published by Strange Publications 2008

I was one of the lucky ones and if you wish to be counted among their number as well, then you’ll read no further of this review, for it may colour your thoughts and forewarn you of that which lies in wait between the covers of this anthology.

I missed the announcement for submissions to this anthology so I never read the guidelines. I was unaware of what Mr Polson wanted when he compiled this book. In hindsight this was a good thing. I came to read the stories contained herein with no preconceived ideas and if you wish to experience the same wonderful delight I did, then you’ll stop reading this now, and start reading Tainted: Tales of terror and the supernatural.

For those of you who have had the good fortune to have already consumed the offering or for those of you brave enough to have continued to read my ramblings, then here is what I thought of the anthology.

Inspired by the masters of the macabre in times gone past: namely Messer’s Poe, Blackwood, Beirce, Wells, and Benson, Aaron Polson has gathered together eight tales of terror and the supernatural by modern day counterparts, and just to prove how faithful they have been, he has included Beirce’s ‘The Boarded Window’, Benson’s ‘The Caterpillars, Blackwood’s ‘The Empty House’ (my personal favourite), H.G. Wells’ ‘The Red Room, and finally Poe’s ‘The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.

The modern day weavers of words manage to hold true to all that was esteemed wonderful in literary fiction before these tales of woe warranted a sub-genre of their own. It’s true I knew nothing of the requirement to style tales after a master when I first began reading them, and commented to the editor how surprised I was at how mainstream the fiction came across.

From all the selected new stories, I most admired three. In the order they appear in the book, they are:

Fish balls and Mushrooms by Natalie L Sin – a wonderfully told tale which takes us out of the traditional English or quaint American town the masters wrote about, but maintained their style and technique. A wonderfully chilling tale, externalising how envy eats one young man while his friend succeeds. The narratives and descriptions are wonderfully rendered while the tension is layered on thickly in the classic manner.

The Lion Roared by Jodi Lee was another favourite although in this I could be biased. Give me a well told story containing the unbridled creepiness of child ghosts and I’m putty in the author’s hands.

Lastly, The Tethering by W.D. Prescott made me look twice to see if I’d mistakenly left one of the masters off the list. His emulation of the style and technique in character voice and setting so mirrored those he was asked to, I was taken aback.

Blackwood’s modern counterpart ‘Station Thirteen’ by Camille Alexa arrived in a very close fourth on my list of the modern favourites, and deserves a mention here, as I had to unduly mark her against my favourite tale in the entire collection.

I am yet to find a book without the telltale sign of a flawed link and most of the way through this wonderfully presented publication I thought I’d finally found my grail, but, alas, Carmine Skeptic failed me. The writing was solid and faithful as was required, but the detail too closely matched H.G. Wells’ offering. Being alongside the master’s work only highlighted the lack of real creativity here, which I’m sure Ms Pyne is more than capable of accomplishing as witnessed by her impressive list of past writing credits. It is a good tale, just not as original as the others so in being a blemish, it is really only the slightest of smudges, but I would be remiss if I were not truthful in all my undertakings.

Overall, I heartily recommend this publication in becoming part of your library, and further more to be read quietly in the confines of a comfortable chair beside a welcoming hearth when the weather without is foul and disquieting – preferably with lots of lightning and thunderous applause.

This book earns an easy 4 from 6 on my scale, very nearly reaching a 5 (and I would recommend a 4/5 on the Amazon scale). It missed gaining the higher scale only due to the failure to stir any sense of real dread in me. Only one story managed that within its shiny cover: Algernon Blackwood’s ‘The Empty House’, but then writers of his ilk have earned the title for a reason.

I believe Aaron Polson has done well in gathering some of our potential master’s of future literary works. Due diligence is required to watch their rising fortunes.

Half Cocked

Seems to be my issue lately.

I mentioned to Aaron what I thought about his anthology "Tainted: Tales of terror and the supernatural" before finding out the reason behind it being that way - well duh, there had to be guidelines at some point, but now I know what those guidelines were or at at least what the inspirations were, I can see how this marvelous collection came together. But - I haven't finished reading it yet (I will by tonight), so I'll save any further comment for my review.

Second premature shot into the darkness came with PARSEC. According to the guidelines for the anthology, contestant entries should be submitted to the antho as well, just in case it's good enough to go into the book but not quite there for the competition win. Submitting to the antho gives the editors a chance to ask for rewrites. So, with a week or so to spare, I've sent it off to the antho portion of the market as well as the competition section. Two shots at it can't be a bad thing.

My lecturer has gotten back to me and has suggested I just send in what I have even though it's well over the word limit. I'm going to have another go at shortening things up to get closer to the word count and then send it.

Want a good read to round things off? Seems a number of us in this little group have published or republished recently. I give you:

But not to be out done, our little group of writing friends has also had a bunch of acceptances:

Not a bad little collection of emerging writers there. Maybe we should start our own webring?

Congratulations to everyone with a recent publication, acceptance, or to those who have simply gathered enough courage to submit somewhere for the first time.

Keep on writing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Newland Started Again

Managed to get a little done on Newland this evening. Not a lot: only 907 words to finish off the first draft of chapter 19.

I've also got a tentative title for it. Newland was only ever the working title. The same as all the character names need to be changed as they are currently named after the real life people who were once in the area back in the late 1830s. For obvious reasons that needs to change.

So I'm toying with "The Kookaburra's Laugh" which will mean nothing to you guys and girls, but let me let you in on the story of the Kookaburra's laugh. So, if you've read the story in the link, you may see how it can be a visual image for the herald, of a new day. Perhaps even the rebirth of the sun. That's what I'm going for, a rebirth, a finding of a new way. My MC's journey to find strength and independence in a harsh new world. I think it might work. I'll see if it grows on me.

So a weekend with no commitments has passed and I've managed 907 words and read 100 pages of Tainted. I updated all the books and covers I have at GoodReads, the place I got my widgets from to display what I've reviewed, am yet to read, and what I'm currently reading. You can see them way down on the sidebar - cute aren't they? And lastly updated my website and bibliography. Having a story published and putting up a new review tends to give me a push into updating things.

Well, I hope the review was useful (and I hope you're not too angry with me, Alan), and I hope everyone got something out of Winged Shepherd of Innocence.

Here's Mr Bean Counter to bring things up to date and then I'm off to bed.

Winged Shepherd Of Innocence

Winged Shepherd of Innocence has been published over at Fear & Trembling Magazine.

This is the very first dark fiction piece I've had accepted and published anywhere.

I hope you like it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday's Post

Today marks the start of my drafting bits and pieces I would normally use over multiple posts, but am trying to gather together for a single post per day - if that makes any sense.

I'm not sure I'll stick with it though. I enjoy just getting on and rambling whenever I have something to say or share. We'll see.

Today I posted my review of RealmShift. If you'd like to see what I said about it you can visit this post over at HorrorScope. On my own scale, I mark it a solid 3 out of 6. I'm looking forward to reading MageSign to see where Alan went with this concept. Stay tuned for that review after I've finished Tainted.

Next - while doing the rounds of the feeds I found this post over at 'How Publishing Really Works'. Why does the old saying of one bad apple spoiling the barrel have to be so true?

An interesting discussion over at Murderati on the pros and cons of when one comes to short story writing by Zoe Sharp.

D - my thoughts on The Uninvited - first up, my wife enjoyed it, so from a purely non-biased viewers POV, I imagine most people will be entertained with this one - as long as you like dark thriller type stuff and if you don't then you have walked into the wrong theatre - please check your ticket and move elsewhere.

From my POV - Red Herring. The flick is full of it, not them, it. 95% of the film is one big Red Herring. I'm considering going back and rewatching it just to see if the explanation at the end actually matches what I saw, because from memory, it doesn't, which amounts to the director lying to me for the duration.

There are some nice bits, some good cheap scares, and a lot of confusion and misdirection, but the ending, which my wife liked, I thought was pretty blah.

Downer bits of the day include:

  • Not having heard back from lecturer about assignment 3
  • Having received some negative feedback on my seriously condensed plot summary and realising they were spot on so I have to do it all over again regardless of what my lecturer says.
  • Not hearing back about the rewrite request I submitted. I know I'm impatient here but the initial request came within a day or so of me submitting so I guess I was expecting a similar speedily reply on the rewrite.
  • Spending two hours doing nothing while my daughter ran around playing laser skirmish in an area without a viewers platform. I should have taken a book.

Other good bits of the day:

  • I've finished revising version 4 of Dreaming. This will now be winging its way to Jamie so he can play with all the cool new functions he's found in his new OpenOffice product ;c)
  • Started reading Tainted - I'm only 12 pages in and if the first story is anything to go by, I'm going to love this.
  • It's Friday and I have nothing planned for the weekend - outstanding! No commitments of any kind.
  • Helped my wife do a little more of her extremely complicated jigsaw puzzle - we will get this thing finished before Xmas 2010.

So that's my day. I'm not going to do an End of Week wrap up anymore. I couldn't be bothered sifting through all the posts to give a summary. If you want to know what I've managed to get done this week, go back and read the previous posts, but most of you regulars will have already done that so you don't need me to do an EOW wrap, and for that, I'm very much appreciative.

I think I'll just finish Kevin P Keating's offering and send off Dreaming to Jamie before hitting the hay.

Night all.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Todays Accomplishments

I think I need to start drafting my posts during the day and making a single post at night - unless it's a Soapbox post, but then they will be few and far between.

Today I completed the first draft of my next assignment. Part one you've all heard me groan about. It's supposed to be about 500 words. Currently it stands at a touch under 1000 words. I can cut some sections out and bring it down to 850 without too much drama, but getting below 800 is looking unlikely at this point. Part two is also supposed to be around 500 words and I've managed to draft that at a little over 300. You win some, you loose some.

I've emailed my lecturer for advice. We'll see.

I finished reading RealmShift last night. I've spent the day allowing the different aspects of the novel to percolate around inside my head. I'll begin drafting my review tomorrow. Not long now Alan.

Tainted has been positioned close to the bed for the next reading period, although "Dissecting Hannibal Lecter" edited by Benjamin Szumskyj, and "Procession of the Dead" by D.B. Shan has just landed on my desk. My to read shelf is now growing on its own, self populating until it takes over the room and smothers me, allowing me to die slowly of ink poisoning and a thousand paper cuts. I kid you not, I now have 32 books on the shelf. I also have a number of PDF novels to read as well. What I would give for an ereader and a book scanner.

Tonight I think I'll watch The Uninvited. I could be reading or writing, but watching a horror flick is still good research.

Tomorrow I should have my answer from my lecturer and begin drafting my review. Tomorrow night I'm taking my little one to Laser Skirmish as her end of cricket season team get together. Should be amusing.

The down side on all this, is a full week with no work on Newland. As soon as the current WIP goes out (Dreaming), I'll have to change that. There's no cricket this weekend now the season's over so maybe I can squeeze some work in then. Have to play that one by ear for now.

Okay, that's my update for today. Time for the movies...

Not Great News

Okay, new section with a new label. From now on these rants, comments and/or musings will be headed with the title of:

BT's Soapbox

If you prefer not to be subjected to my ramblings, then this heading will allow you to skip them.

Now then...

The inaugural BT's Soapbox

During my normal scoping out of industry blogs, I made a comment the other day over at The BookEnds Literary Agency Blog to this post about timing. It went like this:

Hi Jessica,

I'm interested in the holes which get filled, the hooks that are in vogue for a time and then over done a little while later.

I'm guessing during your talks with those in the industry, they tell you what they're looking for, what they'd like to see, what they've seen enough of - what hooks are in vogue, what are dated, and what holes have been filled.

I would think a regular update on this type of information would be invaluable to writers. It would be almost a type of trigger for sending in specific work.

I don't mean when someone says, "I'm looking for more historical romance, or dark sci-fi", I mean in a little more detail if that's at all possible.

What type of hooks ?
What do publishers think is becoming hot and why?
What patch of earth is looking plumb to have a new hole dug in it?

I realize this could be construed as searching for the goose laying the golden egg, but anyone trying to write something based on this info would be missing the boat by the time it was ready anyway. This info would only be useful for those with manuscripts in hand (or in drawer).

Thanks in advance


Polite type of individual, aren't I?

I mention this because over at Pubrants, you'll find this post, and I refer you specifically to the last three paragraphs:

And second, publishing is often about timing. For example, if you are currently a writer of young adult or middle grade fiction and you have a paranormal element (read: vampire, werewolf, witch or what have you), you might be stymied by the timing of putting said project on submission right now.

The market is crowded. Editors are weary in some respects. (Agents too!) Just last week I had an editor turn down even looking at a manuscript because she felt her list was too crowded with the supernatural.

That’s a sure sign that a trend is winding down. Now that doesn’t mean nothing in that realm will sell. It just means that any project that does will have to be X times better, X times more original, than similar projects sold 2 years ago.

A couple of commenter's latch onto this bit instead of the gender portion of the post (personally, I think good writing by male or female will sell if marketed correctly and claims of a bias in any genre one way or another is bollocks - nothing wrong with blokes writing romance anymore than women writing action or horror - as long as the writing is good and fits the genre). Unfortunately what comments there are on the second bit stick with the YA bit of it and there have been no replies.

I wanted to ask about the second paragraph in particular - is this all supernatural premises, or only YA?

I would also like to know how long a trend normally lasts? I'm guessing the hype about a book lasts typically 12 months, so a trilogy around three to four years. And then the movie comes out and tacks on another six or so months.

So if you started writing a supernatural book now, used about a year to get it to a standard where you could begin submitting it, you could conceivably be on the very beginning of the next surge. I'm guessing staying away from YA supernatural for a couple of years may be a good thing, but then YA and middle grade want real escapism - look at Twilight and Potter. Fantasy and Horror. So does that mean the next big thing will be YA sci-fi?


So, if any agents, editors, publishers or others within the industry who are in the know happen to pop by, would it be possible to get regular (maybe quarterly) updates, posted somewhere, on what you are looking for, and what you think may be the next big thing?

I think writers everywhere would be happy with that. Some may try to roll with the trends and produce work specifically targeted at it, but then, don't they already? I think most would continue as they currently do, but it would be nice to know if I should set my next horror story, in the past, present or future and if I should centre it around kids or adults.

Okay - rant over, thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interesting Day

I've had a fairly productive day for a change - although I still haven't got back into Newland yet.

I've revised Dark Rose, cutting it by a paltry 40 or so words, but those words were the naughty over the top descriptive ones the editor asked me to kill, and resubmitted it. Hopefully that will now have a home and be published for Halloween this year. Once acceptance comes, I'll let you know where. (note the positive use of voice in there...;c))

I got stuck into writing the one-page plot summary of Newland required for my next assignment, and four versions later, I'm still not sure I like it, but I'm getting closer - I think.

I've made contact with Stuart Neville, author of The Twelve, an exciting new release from a first time author I've heard all sorts of good things about (Plus he's Irish, and it is St Pat's day and all). This is the guy who's blog I read from start to finish some time ago and have been keeping tabs on since. It's an interesting journey. Anyway, I'm hoping to be added to his list of reviewers. He's promised to forward my details to Random House so fingers crossed that all goes ahead.

Tonight I intend to continue my reading. I've only got 4 chapters and an epilogue to go, some 70 odd pages, so hopefully I'll be able to start drafting my review as well. I'll get that done by the end of the week - if all goes well.

Then I'm going to read a book of short stories (Maybe Tainted...) to cleanse my palette (so to speak), and do a review of that, before diving into Alan's second book MageSign.

The question then becomes, do I release both reviews together or one at a time? Alan - what would you prefer?

Actively Being Passive

First up, read this post over at the Mystery Man on Film...I'll wait...

As many of you would already know, I'm a big fan of King and very much enjoyed his book On Writing, which I reviewed somewhat briefly here.

But I'm also open minded and not one to jump to King's defence on the slightest provocation, and I don't intend to do anything of the sort here.

The thing is, MM is spot on with what he says. And this brings me to the core subject of this post: where are new writers supposed to learn their craft if conflicting points of view are held by those who have been successful in the industry already?

As regular readers are aware, I'm having my doubts to the benefits of structured learning within our academic institutions in regards to writing. I've found I learn just as much, if not more, from reading other writers blogs and interacting with critique groups/partners. Yes, I'm learning from my course, but so far very little real progress has been made in advancing my fiction writing.

So I go out into the great big wide web of all knowledge in search of tiny nuggets to help me over hurdles, but it seems I'm finding plenty of crossfire from some big names. It makes me dig deeper and think longer on what I'm being advised.

It was during one of these searches I had my biggest light bulb moment to date - the method of writing in layers. I didn't get that one out of a book. Thanks goes to Alexandra Sokoloff. I now just write the first draft. I know I will go back and do specific sweeps over the manuscript when I'm done to add in the needed layers to create a great book. I feel much freer when I write in the long form now.

Bottom line - writers should read everything they can and keep only the information which works for their writing. This works at every level.

When working with critique groups or individuals, read what they suggest and then decide on whether you think it improves or detracts from the story, your theme, and your voice. Then make a decision on their suggestion, but if you discard it, don't forget it. It may be useful further along your journey.

When reading an agents blog, take on board the information they give you, but you need to shape any nuggets of wisdom to suit you and your style of writing. Own it. Shape it to conform to you while staying within the accepted boundaries of the industry. Once you've been published you can look to break rules.

When editors and publishers ask for revisions (I'm talking about short stories here as we are all still looking to get to the book stage - for an idea of the process after finding the book deal look here), stop and think before doing anything. Will the changes affect your story and what you're trying to convey in a bad way? Exactly why has the editor asked for these changes? Maybe it's just the wrong market and you should say thanks for considering, but move on to find a different home for your baby.

When one successful writer suggests outlining a plot in detail before writing while another just as successful writer suggests that way will kill true creativity, you need to step back and think about what works for you. Try them both, or try a variation and merge the methods to create something that works for you.

First you need to get a grasp on the basics - you need to be able to tell a story. Grammar, spelling, and all the rules of English (or whatever language you write in) can be mastered over time as you practise, but the best grasp of the technical aspects will mean nothing if you can't tell a story.

So write - and keep writing.

And read absolutely everything you can: books in your chosen genre (the old and the new); books outside your chosen genre; writers blogs; agents blogs; industry blogs; text books; course books.

But above all else, you must write, because that's what writers do.

Everything else will come with time and luck. But that's a whole other topic for discussion...

So, what do you do, other than write, to grow in the craft? What blogs would you suggest every writer should visit above any other? What books are must reads? What's been your biggest light bulb moment so far?

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [01.03.09-15.03.09]

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

A Dark New World: Anatomy of Australian Horror Films
While the rest of the Australian film industry is languishing, horror movies are alive and thriving and reaping in the big bucks according to a Queensland University of Technology researcher. Dr. Mark David Ryan has completed the first in-depth study into the re-emergence of horror films and the reasons why horror hungry fans can't get enough of our Aussie schlock. Mark's thesis has been released online and can be downloaded from: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/18351/

Masques Anthology Launch
Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG) Publishing would like to invite you to the launch of its eighth anthology Masques on 20th March 2009, from 5.00pm. Special guest author Gary Hampson will unveil Masques at the National Archives of Australia on Queen Victoria Terrace. Some authors and editors will be in attendance to sign copies of Masques. Based in Canberra, the CSFG aims to assist science fiction, fantasy, horror writers and illustrators Australia-wide to develop their craft through critiquing, and sharing news and experiences. 30 authors from across Australia (and beyond) come together in Masques.

Chuck McKenzie's Deadwalkers
AHWA member Chuck McKenzie has launched his second "fictional blog" of serialized fiction, with the following statement: "Deadwalkers is a tale set quite a bit further into the future than most post-apocalyptic zombie fare, and one which - hopefully - throws a few new ingredients into the mix. But you'll have to read it to judge for yourselves. So please consider yourselves invited to visit, read, hopefully enjoy, and comment. A new chapter will go up weekly, and the prologue has already been posted. Hey, it's free, so what have you got to lose?"

Manifest 2009 - Melbourne Anime Festival - New Venue!
The following news has been published by the management of Manifest 2009 - Melbourne Anime Festival. "To celebrate our 10th anniversary Melbourne Anime Festival has uprooted and released itself from the shackles of the University of Melbourne and is now going to be held at the Melbourne Showgrounds. After many years of preparing we are finally taking the leap and a big one at that." A Minifest will be held at Melbourne University (10:00am - 8:00pm, 4th April, Architecture Building, University of Melbourne) as well as a Sakura House Cosplay Dinner in the wilds of Wantirna South on April 1st.

Infinitas Newsletter March 2009
The Infinitas Newsletter - published by Infinitas Bookshop - is now available for March 2009 at www.infinitas.com.au. This month's newsletter has a short story, plenty of news and lots of great new books to tempt you. Scan through for your favourite authors and series.

Aeon Award 2008 Winners
Grand Judge of the Aeon Award, respected SF author Ian Watson, has made his decision on the winners of the 2008 contest. Ian chose as winner Twinkle, Twinkle by British author Colin Henchley, who receives the 1000 euro Grand Prize and publication in the next issue (#36) of Albedo One. In second place Ian chose Aegis by U.S. author David T. Neale, who receives 200 euro and will be published in issue 37 of Albedo One. In third place was The Better to See You With by U.S. author Allison Francisco. The Aeon Award 2009 is currently open to submissions, and hopes to continue to promote new writers and writing in the speculative fiction genres.

Clarion South Needs Donations
The Clarion South writers workshop, known as the Australian 'boot camp' for speculative fiction writers, is experiencing trouble and calling for donations to ensure the next workshop goes ahead in 2011. A call for support from Kate Eltham, co-director of Clarion South, states: "There are a few ways you can help... 1. Donate to our Fundraising Appeal - simply go to www.clarionsouth.org/donate.htm to make a PayPal donation directly to Clarion South. 2. Spread the word - even if you can't donate to the Appeal, we would love your support to spread the word about our fundraising drive. By the end of March, we are hoping to raise $4,000 for Clarion South. Thank you in advance for your love and support. We're incredibly passionate about Clarion South and would like to see it thrive and continue into the future."

Midnight Echo III
Midnight Echo III, the magazine of the Australian Horror Writers' Association, is open for business and receptive to unique reverberations. Editor Stephen Studach has issued a call for submissions - "...works of dark fantasy up to 5000 words. That imposed number, however, should be considered a flexible margin. If a work runs to twice that, and you are confident of its worth, then give me a look. Sorry, definitely nothing past 10,000 words this time. Whilst the type of story is almost completely open on this one, if anyone wants to work to a theme try an auditory one; sound, echoes, resonances. Be they literal, metaphoric, or both. But, remember, I am open to all types of tale. Except... No funnies, please. The only humour allowed this time is the black stuff that can sometimes be distilled from seriously dark works. Things tittered out nervously in lieu of a scream or a crazed laugh. The macabre slapstick that sometimes occurs when battling shadows for one's life and sanity. Stylistically you can send me Gothic, old school, cutting edge, atmospheric, mood or experimental pieces, I am a devotee of all of these. If in doubt, send it anyway." For poetry and fine art guidelines, read the full news item at HorrorScope.

Stay Tuned for a special A Night Of Horror International Film Festival AHWA News Digest supplementary edition!

Submitting News

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

For information on the Australian Horror Writers' Association, visit australianhorror.com.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


So here I am writing the first post after setting up my new laptop.

The Toshiba Satellite L300/D05 is what I'm currently typing at you on. I still have to finish setting up all the rules in my email profile but the rest is pretty much done.


More good news on the assignment front with me gaining yet another B for my last assignment - that would be Module 1, assignment 3.

I've double checked the next assignment for the other module and I'm not sure the news is quite as good. This is what it says:

"Present a proposed central plot for a novel based on the initial idea or concept you submitted for Assignment 1"

So for this bit I'm basing it on Newland - obviously.

"Your proposal should include:

  • A one-page plot summary or synopsis, such as you might send to and editor
  • A visual representation of the plot - either a flow chart or chapter breakdown
  • An explanation of how you plan to tackle any of the plot factors (conflict, twists, ending, etc)
  • A discussion of theme(s) you intend to explore through the central plot

Your proposal should total about 500 words"

My thinking:

  • A synopsis of a 90-100k novel will be longer than 500 words so I need to look at a very condensed plot summary.
  • A chapter breakdown. I already have one of these but it is currently just over 1000 words so I need to condense this in a big way - unless someone can explain to me what a visual representation of the plot is using a flow chart...
  • Theme is the easy bit.

So suggestions on how I can make this a reality would be appreciated. I feel sorry for students who haven't got as far as I have. Imagine only having an initial idea for a novel length work, no chapter outline, no chapters in the can, vague outlines of a character let alone a cast, and shifting ideas on what theme(s) they might cover - and then having to do this.

The second part of the assignment I should be able to do within the requested word count but the first bit baffles me. I don't have a piece of paper which can act like the Tardis!

Interesting Stuff II

Do you remember a few weeks/months ago we talked about the benefits (if any) of doing study? I talked about the amount of time I dedicate to assignments and how I wondered if it was time well spent...alright, hang on, I'll see if I can find the post - err, no, I can't find it. Maybe I dreamed about posting that one.

Anyway, I vaguely remember something about wondering if the amount of time I spent on study would be better spent on just writing, and practising the craft.

Here's an interesting take on it from Tess Gerritsen's blog. Make sure you read the comments as well. I'll be finishing my diploma now I've started it, but I'd think twice about recommending it to anyone who just wants to write fiction.

Chuck McKenzie has started a new online zombie novel. I was unfortunate to not have followed the first one and that got rave reviews and may have other plans in the works for it, so don't miss out on reading this one.

An interesting interview of Nathan Bransford over at the Book Deal blog.

Go here to download issue 1 of Ruthless Peoples Magazine and read Aaron Polson's spectacular flash piece titled 'Man Bites Man' - satire at its biting best (It's a pity the mag editor didn't screen his publication for typos though. Still it's only the first issue so a couple of hitches can be excused - I guess). (And happy birthday for the 15th)

And lastly Cate (Catherine J Gardner) has The Marionette Manipulator & The Headless Bride up on 52 Stitches - yes it is as odd as the title sounds, but it is told in the unmistakeably wonderful voice Cate is becoming well known for. Very much worth the read.

And tonight - will be the very first post from my laptop as it comes online - stay tuned...

Back On The Bike

Today I intend to finish setting up my new laptop so I'll have a new base of operations.

Over the weekend I managed to complete the next assignment for Module 1 and have read the requirements for the next assignment for Module 2. Hows this for unrealistic:

In a week, I need to write a synopsis for Newland, a chapter breakdown and how I intend to handle a number of plot factors such as conflict, characterisation and other things. All within 500 words! I then have to do a summary on any sub-plots and themes - in another 500 words. Joy.

I have managed to read another 5 chapters in RealmShift so my reading is moving forward as well.

I've had a please revise and resubmit for possible acceptance for Dark Rose, so I'll be working on that this week as well, and lastly, I've had feedback on Dreaming. I need to tweak a couple of things on that and get that finished as well.

So, time to get cracking on my laptop so I can get stuck into everything else.

Here's hoping writing life is heading in the direction you want it to as well.


Friday, March 13, 2009

A Weird Time

I haven't lost the want to write. I haven't grown bored with reading. I don't have something else suddenly taking over my time - and yet, I've done very little this week.

It seems I've almost drifted into a holiday from thinking.

I've managed to write a little over a thousand words to finish Dreaming and read a chapter or two of RealmShift - and that's it.

No critiquing (sorry to he who knows to who I refer)
No reading (sorry Alan - it's not your book)
No writing
No assignments
No reviews

I could put it down to the change in seasons and the approach of my birthday, but I don't really care about either of those. The end of Summer also points to the end of cricket season, which equates to more time for writing - that's a good thing.

My birthday - I don't think I'm going through a midlife crisis at the moment - I've not booked any test drives in a e-type jag or anything.

Could be my stupid teeth - they still hurt and I still haven't seen the dentist - yes I'm a silly scared little human - who isn't when it comes to the dentist? I just happen to have a bigger pain threshold and so can put up with things longer. A bad back will do that much for you ;c)

I think constant pain, my overdoing it last weekend, and general tiredness has caught up with me.

So I'm not freaking out. No sympathy required. I'm just mentioning it as the reason behind my immense slackness this week.

Tomorrow I'll take the field for the last time this season (yes, I've already indicated I'll be playing again next year - I know - I'm an idiot), and we'll drink away the sorrows of a pitiful season. Sunday will be a day of recovery - probably. Monday is my birthday so I'll be relaxing then as well.

Hopefully the dull clouds will lift and I'll be back in the swing. The fact my wife has brought me a laptop for my birthday should be enough to get me going.

How do you get yourself out of a funk?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dreaming Done

Finished another version of Dreaming, well, finished the new ending to Dreaming. This has been like pulling teeth, but it's done. I've sent to a friend for comment who helped me brainstorm the new idea for the ending. If that comes back okay, I'll probably just submit it on to the anthology and see how we get on.

Tonight is reading night, but I'm going to critique another friend's story before I settle down to RealmShift. I've been promising it for a while now and keep getting side tracked. Time to fix that tonight.

I've got to try and get another assignment done Thursday and Friday.

Still, I'm happy to have managed the 1000+ words I did on finishing/rewriting/editing Dreaming.

Writing Is supposed To Be A Solitary Life...Isn't It?

It's cold. The writer sits before his keyboard with an overcoat, scarf, beanie, and fingerless gloves on. He has to wear all this because he can't afford to pay the heating bill. Snow is falling heavily outside while his latest femme fatal won't stop shaking his brain around inside his head. He hasn't slept in weeks as he tries to find just the right words to convey the insightful, and hugely impactful ending he has in mind. He just has to keep going; he knows he'll get there sooner or later - and then he might be able to ring his mum and convince her he wasn't kidnapped, maybe pop down to the shops and buy a new roll of toilet paper, and finally get some vitamin D - if the sun ever comes out again--he was sure it was summer last time he actually stop on the front porch when that killer idea first invaded his skull.

Writing is a solitary life.

Or is it?

This article over at GlobeandMail (thanks to Josephine Damian for the heads up) tells a very different story. And I seem to have come down more on the fans side rather than the writers.

I know a professional writer must have a web presence. Blogging is the easiest way to accomplish that. MySpace and FaceBook, Twitter, Websites, and other methods are all good and well, but they take time and as a new writer and I think that time could be better spent learning my craft - you know - actually writing.

Once my writing is good enough to find representation, and then I gain a book deal, hopefully a multiple book deal, then I've achieved something a professional writer originally sets out to do. I can now dial down my normal work, and begin writing more. I can start churning out books more regularly, start building a readership.

Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing? Where in that dream we all keep inside us is the bit about, once I've made it, once I have a readership established, I can slow down a little, enjoy the fruits of all those unpaid hours I spent learning to get to where I am now - and damn the readership I've invited into my life through my web presence and through my books?

How unprofessional is that?

Once you gain your book deal, once you have enough money to quit the real job everyone else has to put up with, why wouldn't writing take up 6-8 hours of your day, five days a week, for 46 weeks a year? If you can't write a book with that sort of time on your side, then there must be something wrong with you. If you have family issues, or gain an invite from the Queen or the Pope then I can understand additional time being taken out. If World War breaks out, or a local skirmish in whatever country you happen to be researching in way lays you, again, I understand a delay. If illness strikes you or yours, of course deadlines will stretch.

Other than that - write the damn book your contracted to write.

As for the online presence, stick to writing or writing related topics. If you go on holidays, don't blog about, just mention you'll be away on annual leave. Organise guest bloggers, but don't swan in the sun and then announce your deadline has to be shifted back. Don't rave on about your partner, the hassle the kids are putting you through, the illness of the dog and how all this is eating up your writing time. Your readership isn't going to thank you for it. They may be understanding for a time but that is not an infinite number.

Your readership is there because of your books and maybe because of your advice in regards to the craft. Stick with that.

And if you start blogging before your deal, don't suddenly go from two or three posts a week to once a month or something. I've read a few blogs like this now. We follow the journey right up to the signing of the contract and then we get promotions. We get news but not background. No information on the machinations on how the publishing industry really works from the eyes of a newly published author. Be consistent. If you make the promise, unspoken or not, to allow people to follow your journey, then don't change the details of their ticket just as things start to get really interesting.

It takes only a few minutes a day to blog. If you really have nothing interesting related to your chosen vocation to blog about, then skip a day or two. If you've written nothing, or researched nothing, or read nothing, or submitted nothing in that time - are you serious about this writing dream? Are you serious about your readership?

Last bit - reviews, particularly negative reviews: GET OVER YOURSELF!

First, some timely thoughts from Nathan Bransford (I've started linking to more and more of Nathan's posts lately - that isn't coincidence. Nathan reads blogs and news and websites a lot and picks things to reply to, just like I do. Must be brilliant minds and all that. Do yourself a favour and subscribe to his blog.)

Try to remember all those rejection slips you once collected. Try to remember what you learned from them. Apply that knowledge. Check sales figures - if they dip, then your fans are speaking and you did a bad job. If not, a review is only one person's opinion. If your editor, agent and publisher all think the work's good, then chances are it is. If it's not great, then you should be the first one to pick that up. Stick to the basics and write well; write as you did when you secured the first book deal. Of course you'll be better skilled than when you first submitted, one would hope you've continued to grow in the craft and not just rested on your laurels, but you need to recapture that voice and go with it. Remember you are one lucky SOB to have a full time writing job in the first place. Write at least as well as the first book which got you that readership and you won't have to worry about negative reviews anyway.

I hope nobody I know ever tries to get their fan base to rally on their behalf over a bad review. I won't sit mutely to the side and let it pass - you have been warned. I'm happy to give my sympathies, offer emotional support, do what I can to get through the down time so you can return to writing the brilliant stuff you were first published for. That's it.

And if someone has had a bad review and wants an honest opinion, I'd be happy to give it the once or twice over, but I'll be honest in my opinion, so don't expect a countering good review to a bad one just because you asked nicely. A reviewers first loyalty must lie with the reader.

I've given good reviews recently to two authors I interact with - Alex and Felicity - and they both deserved them because they published good work. If the next thing I read of theirs isn't as good, I'll be saying so. No qualms.

So much for shorter posts.

That's my two cents for what its worth.