Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Mistake...It Was A Train

Not happy! Saturday and Sunday were merely false dawns of a new age. Monday saw me doing my best impression of a seal and attempting to cough up a lung. Today I feel almost as bad as I did last Wednesday as if the cycle is starting all over again.

If I don't have Swine Flu - I've got the next best thing. I've never been this sick before, and now Jodi has it as well. The kids are all a little snuffly or have just got over it. The worse bit is my eldest is due to have our first grandchild at anytime (she was due at the end of last week), and none of us will be able to enjoy it or be part of the event because we're all too sick!

To top things off, no writing has led to no blog posts on writing, so last weeks numbers have dropped significantly. Let this be a lesson to you all. If you intend to have a blog about writing, make sure you blog everyday and post worthwhile comments or people will stop coming :c( My numbers steadily increased to peak at just over 250 individual visitors a week. Last week saw that drop by around 80!

I haven't managed to read* or write anything in sometime. I tried doing some work on my partial story idea from my dream last week but it's coming out forced so I've dropped it. If it reoccurs so be it, if not...

* - Not quite true. I did read about half of ME2 yesterday in three sittings. My eyes get tired from focusing on the screen (and I cant focus on printed text at all), but I did learn two things:

1) We have some great writing talent in Australia

2) I should have sent Dreaming, Digging Up The Past (DUTP), or God's Piscatorial Church (GPC) to ME2 submissions instead of Wamphyri.

Of course, DUTP & GPC have been entered into the AHWA comps so if successful they'd end up in ME3 or 4 and Dreaming has ended up in the Apex anthology Blackness Within.

Today I'm going to try and get a couple of things done. I'll finish reading ME2 and I'll pull my story for The New Bedlam Project out of mothballs. I'll reread it, do any revisions I need and then send to the guru (Pharo). On return, it will go through another round of revision and then go to my beta readers for comment. Next week - the second week of July - as promised, I'll be submitting it to Jodi Lee.

I've also got two pieces I need to finish polishing in preparation for sending to NT this week. So much to do, and so much snot to wade through. If I can just keep my lungs within my chest, I should be able to get some of it done.

Time to get to work!

Monday, June 29, 2009


The latest meme doing the rounds and thanks to Jamie, I have something to blog about today - no really, thanks, Jamie .

"Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie."

Pride: What is your biggest contribution to the world?

Darren Lehmann. No, he's not a mutant love child or anything like that, but I was his captain in junior representative cricket and it was because I kept getting him out in the nets that he vowed to concentrate harder on becoming an excellent batsmen. I heard rumours he acknowledged me as the reason he was able to hit the winning runs in the 1999 world cup.

Envy: What do your coworkers wish they had which is yours?

Quite a lot. But specifically, my ability to act calmly in a crisis and to have the uncanny knack to know just the right thing at just the right time. My knowledge of everything has saved their bacon on numerous occasions.

Gluttony: What did you eat last night?

Pretty standard fare last night. We started with King Prawn cocktails followed by Pheasant Under Glass with a side Cesar salad. We enjoyed a simple Peking Duck flown in by the Royals just for the quick stop over visit by Harry. It was nicely complemented with a bottle of Grange Hermitage, before we had a simple pavlova for desert.

Lust: What really lights your fire?

This is becoming a difficult thing. I mean, I'm on the wrong side of 40 now and last weeks visit from the triplets only just managed to get me in the mood.

Anger: What is the last thing that really pissed you off?

Lying. I can put up with a great deal from the little people of this world but those who just can't tell the truth really make me see red.

Greed: Name something you keep from others.

This is almost as difficult an answer as Lust. I am so open with those I consider my friends. I am generous with my money, emotions and time. I put everybody first, before me and usually before my family. Still, I scoff at suggestions I should be canonised immediately upon my death. I mean seriously, if you could cure blindness and heal the sick, you'd just do it too - wouldn't you?

Sloth: What's the laziest thing you've ever done?

I once watched my son mow the lawn while my wife washed and dried the dishes, but then it was they who suggested I have a morning off.

Just in case you didn't catch onto any of this - I have lied my ass off!

Next on the tag line: Danielle Ferries, Felicity Dowker, Jason Fischer, & Jodi Lee.

Yeah, I know I'm supposed to tag seven, but I've got another dozen or so people who I'd like to link to and don't want anyone to feel left out, so if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged. Perhaps I should have put that under sloth...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

As I rose from the depths of sleep late this morning, a story idea was playing out in my head, a powerful story idea.

But being ill, I wanted to stay in the warm confines of my bed and enjoy the tale rather than write it down and work on it. So I lay there, half awake, and started trying to remember bits and pieces and solidify cause and effects - and so the story slowly slipped from me.

I'm left with vague recollections, images, smells, sounds. I know the time period and the main specfic plot details behind it, but I don't have the central question. I've written down everything I can remember, but it has some pretty big holes in it.

But at least I'm thinking again which means the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a train rushing towards me.

For those of you after an excellent read, I present the second issue of Midnight Echo, the official magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association.

Non-members can download the PDF for US$3.50 or purchase the print version for US$12.95 from this link at the AHWA Midnight Echo page.

Stealing directly from the write up on HorrorScope:

Contributors include David Conyers, Bob Franklin, Kurt Newton, Felicity Dowker, Andrew J McKiernan, and Joanne Anderton, among many more. Art Director David Schembri has assembled an array of darkly visual delights from artists such as George Cotronis, Will Jacques, Liza Phoenix, Khara Burgess, and more.

I've already downloaded my free copy (because I'm a member ;cP), and can verify that this issue continues, if not exceeds, the excellent levels of dark fiction and professionalism begun in issue one. Do yourself a favour - go buy it.

Lastly - on the agenda for today:

Reading ME2
Reading The Six
Watching Transformers 2
Watching The Second Coming
Watching the Adelaide Crows (my AFL team)

Still not writing, but I'm getting closer.

Hope things are still going well for you.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Still very sick.

Crawled out of bed to find a new movie to watch and to post some stuff - sorry Aaron, the brain is just too fuzzy to come up with another word.

So far I've watched:

Sweeney Todd - cool
The Prestige - interesting but a bit of a let down with half the reveal. I'd figured one bit out, but the other bit I couldn't grasp had a simple solution which was shouted at me all the way through, but one which I didn't believe. Looking back, as a piece of story telling, it was well crafted, but as a watcher, it seemed a little bit lacking.
The Illusionist - Cool film with lots of plants and payoffs which led to a logical ending. This wasn't a case of the story teller trying to be overly subtle or by trying to hide things from the audience - everything was there and it still made for a good story.
Underbelly 2 - my wife and I are working through the TV series. We have a disc and bit left to go. Not as good as the first series, but not bad.

Add these to the movies I've already mentioned in recent posts, and you can see I've done very little other than watch the box.

Some interesting news in the little bit of cyber-surfing I have managed:

Jason Sizemore (Apex Editor) has announced the magazine is coming out of hiatus (which lasted all of a number of weeks). Go check it out. Submissions will be open as of July 1st!

Stuart Neville is releasing his book 'The Twelve' to the Northern Hemisphere this week (no, I'm not upset that once again we down here have to wait...), but he has also released a free ebook of short stories called The Six. Go check it out to read some of the most anticipated work for some time.

There's lots of other good stuff, but I'm going back to bed so you'll have to troll through my blog lists over there on the side-bar. Yeah, I know, very slack of me, but I'm sick so :cP

Good luck with your writing.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Getting sicker - not good.

Still managed to do a quick edit on Too Late the Rain and send it off to another market. The one it was at is currently very unstable due to personal issues with the editor, so I sent it off a new one. Fingers crossed.

I also received the contract for The Blackness Within anthology from Apex. Unfortunately it won't be seeing publication until July 2010 so you've got plenty of time to save the penny's.

I watched "Terminator: Salvation" and "The Last House on the Left" - both average films. Terminator pretty much continues the franchise but it lacks the polish of earlier versions, which sounds strange to say about old films, but this one is definitely grittier and edgier. I'm also not a big fan of Christian Bale but the Aussie lad, Sam Worthington, easily steals the limelight. He was very good in it. The Last House was slow to get going and we questioned its ability to sit in the thriller genre until nearly halfway through. It then takes off and becomes a good ride but the end is ridiculous.

I've got Sweeney Todd lined up to watch next and I have the Dexter Omnibus to read, but sitting up and reading is difficult at the moment. Focusing is hard and my nose is running like a tap.

Time to return to the bed covers. I hope life is better where you are.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Review: Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp

I've posted another review on HorrorScope. And it's another Jeremy C. Shipp book I've reviewed.

I know one or two of you have expressed an interest in his work, and I'm open-minded enough to say I've found the reading an interesting and informative exercise, but Bizzaro fiction is not really something I'd seek out in the future.

Regardless of this fact, Sheep and Wolves Collected Stories by Jeremy C. Shipp and published by Raw Dog Screaming Press gets a 3.1 on My Review Scale.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Sick - again

I must be really run down this year. Every few weeks I'm struck down with some malady or another. I can't remember ever being sick this often in the past.

This week I'm back to just a common cold - dry cough, runny nose, sore throat - all the good stuff.

Time to crawl into bed with a good book, or at least try and catch up on my book review pile.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quiet Weekend

I'm blaming the cold for any real lack of forward momentum in my writing - as opposed to my just feeling somewhat slack and seriously lacking in any real inspiration (only half this sentence is true - guess which half! Hint: Take out everything between 'blaming' and the second instance of 'my').

I did manage to wrap up a draft of my New Bedlam submission. I'm now going to let this sit until I've read the next issue (due out the beginning of next month) before I decide on the next move. Jodi Lee, you'll be pleased to know it looks to be coming in within the short fiction guidelines. Working title "The Grass is Always Greener..." - yep, I'm a tease.

A side note. I have a requirement to write the whole name of the editor of The New Bedlam Project as my wife has the same name, with the same spelling. I know they both read the blog, so to save confusion, my wife is Jodi, and my friend is Jodi Lee.

Now, moving on...

I read and reviewed Jeremy C. Shipp's debut novel and now have his collection of short stories in my bag to do next. After reading Vacation, I had one major thought in mind - Ben should read this, so Benjamin Solah - go and buy this book. It's right up your alley.

And next...

Alan Baxter (author of RealmShift and MageSign), has posted an excellent bit of webtrickery (TM) about importing blog posts to other areas. I've managed to follow the first bit and reproduce this blog onto FaceBook so that space is no longer just sitting there doing nothing. Hopefully I'll be able to the same to other spaces currently acting as place holders for the Brenton Tomlinson or MusingsOfAnAussieWriter brands.


I received my final assignment back for Module 1: Write for TV and Film. In way of background for all of you coming late to this topic, and for my copious amount of new readers on FaceBook, I have just completed semester 1 for my second year in an Advanced Diploma of Art in Professional Writing. Each semester I am required to submit 8 assignments. So far this semester I have received the following grades: B, B, B, B, B, C, C - and the final grade - insert drum roll here - was another B! All together, this gives me a Credit for this module - which I think is pretty much the standard mark. It should be a pretty good mark (the levels being pass, Credit, Distinction), but it doesn't seem so, which is part of the reason I'm leaving. I won't open up that whole thing again - this post is probably long enough already.

So that was my weekend. I hope yours was filled with all sorts of awesomeness and sparkles (you have a lot to answer for Carrie).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Late Update

I'm about to go off and watch Mist, but I thought I'd give Jodi...I mean everybody, a quick update.

I worked on my current two stories today. The serial one has started to go off on a weird and not so good tangent. I stopped mid-sentence because I couldn't figure out what the hell I was trying to accomplish and I couldn't see where the characters were trying to take me.

Because of this, I sat down and mapped my New Bedlam sub instead. And then I started to fill that map out and now have quite a chunky outline in place.

If I can get the right words in the right order, I think this could turn out quite nicely. Of course, Jodi Lee could take one look at it and send out assassins with orders to kill me for building up tension and suspense and not delivering.

But that's the risk we boys take all the time...

Slowing Down

I have once more reached a strange place in my writing journey. This writing caper seems to be full of such oubliettes.

With the decision to withdraw from my studies, I suddenly feel like all the pressure is off, and I'm now moving along at a very mundane pace, as if sludging through molasses up to my knees. (Having done nothing but edit for the last three weeks hasn't helped)

It's only to my knees because my head hasn't switched off. I'm still mulling over what I want to write for my New Bedlam submission, and I'm still pondering bits about my possible serial short story, but I'm not actually writing. I'm just doing a lot of thinking about it.

To give me a kick in the pants, this is my plan of attack:

I'm going to absorb Alexandra Sokoloff's brilliant breakdown of Act One of The Mist. Then I'm going to watch the movie with a pen in hand, pad poised, and pull it apart for myself.

I also need to read Jeremy's book which I've been carrying around for days now and not made time for. And write the review for it. I think I need to rededicate one day a week to nothing but reading. At the moment, I seem to do it in huge chunks. Feast or famine, instead of a steady continuation.

Then I'm going to work hard on the first installment of my serial story.

By that time, July will be here and I can read the second installment of the New Bedlam zine. This should solidify what I need to accomplish with my submission idea. I will then work hard at getting that right.

I'm not planning any further than that, because I have no idea what will come up between now and then. I still have lots of books to read and review so that will be in there somewhere, and I need a stand-alone short story to submit to Necrotic Tissue - but the two stories I submitted to the AHWA competitions should be back by then, and if God's Piscatorial Church doesn't gain publication through that avenue, then it would be a good candidate for NT.

So tell me, when things slow down in your writing, apart from just sitting in the chair and making yourself work, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing? Do you hike like KC, build like Jamie, or surf YouTube for Korean Boy bands like Nat? Maybe you have another suggestion?

By the by, I was reading through old emails sent to me by Wordsmith (an excellent resource). At the bottom of the email, they include a thought for the day. Many emails ago, this one seriously appealed to me and once more jumped up and down in the front of my brain when I reread it:

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. -Anton Chekhov, short-story writer and dramatist (1860-1904)

Great advice to write by.

So fill up the comments with how you rekindle the flame of inspiration, and keep Chekhov in mind as you write.

Good luck with your submissions


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Earlier this week, I sent out two queries for stories I'd not heard back from for over six months. I've received a reply from one of them informing me they didn't know they were supposed to have it.

I queried the same two stories three months ago and received replies that they were still under consideration.

Go figure.

I was very kindly offered to resubmit and the editor would bump it to the top of the reading pile.

I pulled up the story file (System Failure) and read through it. I didn't like it anymore. I began to do a quick revision and found I was rewriting great chunks of it. I stopped about halfway through and junked it. I wrote a nice email back to the editor thanking them for their offer, but I wouldn't be taking them up on it as I didn't think the story worthwhile. This is another big market and this story just wasn't up to scratch.

Should I have just sent it and let the editor decide?

I don't think so. What if it had been accepted? I would have died. I would have also cringed at the thought other people would read this down the track and it would be associated with me. I'm guessing the editor would have come to the same conclusion as I did and gave me a quick, sorry - no thank you.

So instead of junking it, why wouldn't I send it off to a FTL market, or publish it at TLODS, or as an example of my work on my own website?

For the same reasons I said no to resubmitting it. I expect better of my stories, and I would like to think anybody who has read my more recent work also expects more of my stories.

From this moment forth, I shall no longer retire my older stuff (or any new stuff I write which doesn't make the grade), it's too nice a way to describe inferior work slinking off into the darkness. If it's not good enough to be submitted to TLODS, or my own examples page, then it gets junked.

Too harsh? Would you have resubmitted? Think I'm nuts?

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [02.06.09-15.06.09] - Oh, and 600th post.

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

Government Review of Western Australian Literary Awards

The Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) has initiated a review of both the West Australian Premier's Book Awards and the Australia Asia Literary Award and is now inviting submissions from authors, publishers, book sellers, librarians, academics and members of the public. If you have a view regarding the future of the Awards, or suggestions on how the Awards might be developed to achieve greater impact and/or improved outcomes for the West Australian writing sector then this is your opportunity to contribute. writingWA encourages you to provide your input into this process. Further information about the aims and objectives of the Awards and details of the review process are available by visiting the DCA website. Submissions close 5pm June 25. Click through for contact details.

The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing
The Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing
is an annual prize awarded to an outstanding unpublished manuscript. It aims to discover more wonderful new books for young readers, by Australian and New Zealand writers. Both published and unpublished writers of all ages are eligible to enter with works of fiction or non-fiction. We are now accepting submissions for the 2009 prize. All entries must be received by Friday 31 July. Judged by a panel of editors from Text Publishing, the winning book will be announced during the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. The winner will receive a publishing contract with Text and a $10,000 advance against royalties.

Jason Nahrung reading on Terra Incognita

Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction Podcast #008 is now available for your listening pleasure at http://www.tisf.com.au/ also available on iTunes. This month, Jason Nahrung reads his outback vampire story Smoking, Waiting For The Dawn (from Dreaming Again), and Keith Stevenson reviews Canterbury 2100, edited by Dirk Flinthart. The Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction podcast is presented by Keith Stevenson, and brought to you by Coeur de Lion books.

2009 Bram Stoker Award winners
The 2009 Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement in Horror Fiction published in 2008 have been presented by the Horror Writers Association at the Stoker Awards Weekend in Burbank, California (USA). Click through to view a complete list of winners in all categories.

Call for Entries - 4th Annual A Night of Horror International Film Festival
A Night of Horror International Film Festival is now accepting feature films, shorts, music videos, and screenplays for the 2010 event. John Michael Elfers, director of the feature film Finale speaks glowingly of his experience at the 2009 festival: “Saying that we had a tremendous experience at A Night of Horror would be an understatement. It was our world premiere and exceeded our expectations. The festival is committed to helping independent horror filmmakers find their audience and get noticed. They put our film in the hands of distributors, reviewers, and got us on the radio. The personal attention was unlike anything I've experienced at other festivals.” More details are available at the festival's official site: http://www.anightofhorror.com/.

Facts About Speculative Fiction panel cancelled
Due to a lack of bookings, the Victorian Writers' Centre have had to cancel the Facts About Speculative Fiction seminar on Wednesday 17th June. Those who have already paid for the seminar, will be issued a refund, or alternatively can keep it as a credit in the system to be used at a later stage. For the other outstanding genre writing offerings, check out the previously reported news at HorrorScope. For a full listing of the 2009 VWC program, visit the Victorian Writers' Centre website.

Andrew J McKiernan's new website
AHWA member, Australian spec-fic and horror author and illustrator, Andrew J McKiernan now has a new website. The image gallery contains samples from the forthcoming SHARDS: Short Sharp Tales collection by Shane Jiraiya Cummings & Andrew J McKiernan (Brimstone Press - June 2009 - ISBN 978-0-980-56772-4), as well as illustrations that have appeared in Aurealis magazine, Orb Speculative Fiction, and a number of other collections and anthologies.

Genre Publishers Tell All
Join a guest editor from Black Dog Books, Stuart Mayne (Aurealis Magazine) and Janet Rowe (Five Mile Press) as they discuss their genre areas of writing and publications. This diverse panel of guest speakers will provide insight of the manuscript submission process, market trends and readership. There’s something for everyone who has an interest in SF, children’s or crime fiction and non-fiction writing and are looking to get published. Who knows, you may even be writing a SF, Kid’s crime novel! Victorian Writers' Centre, Tuesday 30 June 2009, 6:30PM - 8:00PM.

The Hero's Journey with Paul Collins
Join Paul Collins and create both a world and a plot in a single day! Working in groups, participants will learn the 12 point structure of fantasy, drawing on examples from the best known fantasy novels such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books. At the end of the workshop everyone will have a map, plot and scenes from their fantasy novel. Paul is best known for his young adult fantasy and science fiction series: The Quentaris Chronicles, which he co-edits with Michael Pryor, The Jelindel Chronicles and The Earthborn Wars. Along with a dozen SF&F anthologies, he edited The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy. His current project is The World of Grrym trilogy in collaboration with Danny Willis. He is also the publisher at Ford Street Publishing. Paul has been short-listed for many awards for his fiction, and has won the inaugural Peter McNamara, Aurealis and William Atheling awards. Victorian Writers' Centre, Sunday 28 June 2009, 10:00AM - 4:00PM.

Cops and Robbers: writing the perfect crime scene!
Ever wanted to write a crime novel or short story? Chances are you'll have at least one detective wandering your pages. But how do you get the procedure right? What about dialogue? You don't want an Aussie detective to sound like a character off the set of CSI, do you? And what about the crime scene? Who strings up the plastic tape, who calls in homicide and the coroner? In this 6 hour interactive seminar you'll learn the ins and outs of real life police drama and how to apply this to your characters and plot, giving your stories the essential ingredient of every great crime writer; verisimilitude. Jarad Henry has worked in the criminal justice system for more than ten years, is currently a strategic advisor for Victoria Police and has two novels published, Head Shot and Blood Sunset. Victorian Writers' Centre, Saturday 27 June 2009, 10:00AM - 4:00PM.

Let's Network! Genre / Popular Fiction Writers

An opportunity for like-minded VWC writers to get together, form new networks, exchange ideas, and strengthen literary community ties. From new and emerging writers, freelancers, non-fiction, genre fiction to editors, each month will give focus to different literary groups, along with special guest speakers attending over the year. This month will feature guest speakers, Lindy Cameron, convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia and Murray MacLachlan, President of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. Victorian Writers' Centre, Thursday 18 June 2009, 6:30PM - 8:00PM.

2009 Ditmar Award winners
The 2009 Ditmar Awards for Australian SF, fantasy, and horror were presented on Sunday June 7 at Conjecture in Adelaide. Click through to view a complete list of winners in all categories.

2009 Sir Julius Vogel Awards winners
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards. This year's Sir Julius Vogel Awards were voted on at Conscription, the 2009 New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention, on Sunday 31st May 2009. Click through to view a complete list of winners in all categories.

Applications now open for Regional Arts Fund (NSW) 2010
Applications are now being accepted for the Regional Arts Fund (NSW), one of the key funding sources for arts and cultural activities in regional, rural and remote communities of New South Wales (Australia). Funding is available for projects commencing after 1 January 2010 in the categories of New Initiatives, Partnerships and Residencies and Mentorships. Funding is available for one, two or three year projects. Applications for the Regional Arts Fund (NSW) close on Friday 14 August 2009.

Prey to open in USA in June
Top Cat Films and Damage Releasing have steered Australian horror movie Prey through the international market screening process, and released the following media blurb: Less than a week after a near-full 10am market screening at Cannes Film Market, surprise Aussie 'candy horror' treat PREY has taken down rights for Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia and is honing in on a coterie of Asian territories. PREY opens in the United States on 23 June. The DVD release in Australia is slated for June 30. (Extract only.)

2009 QWC/Hachette Australia Manuscript Development Program for Fiction Writers now open
Queensland Writers Centre (QWC) and Hachette Australia are proud to announce their national program for fiction writers in 2009. This program has been created for emerging Australian authors of fiction who are either unpublished or have no more than one significant work commercially published. Up to 10 emerging fiction writers will work with publishers for Hachette Australia to develop high-quality fiction manuscripts. Applications open in May 2009. The deadline for submission is last post 24 July 2009. The manuscript development retreat will run in southeast Queensland from 20-25 November 2009. Click through for full details.

4th Biennial Watermark Literary Muster

The Watermark Literary Muster invites readers and writers to celebrate the literature of nature and place. In 2009 the theme is 'wood' - forests, trees, fire, artisans and artefacts, philosophies, opinions, conflicts - and the literature and stories that embrace it. The packed program includes readings, conversations, panel sessions, nature excursions, literary meals, performances, art, book launches, formal and informal discussion. 19 - 22 June, Kendall, NSW.

AntipodeanSF #132
AntipodeanSF Issue 132 is now available on the net. Please visit for your monthly fix of fantastic flash fiction, another ten stories from everywhere around the world, and spanning subjects that stretch even further than that.

The John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers 2009

Tired of scratching around your pockets for money? Well it's time to get writing because The John Marsden Prize for Young Australian Writers 2009 has now opened. $4500.00 in prize money is up for grabs! In its fifth year running, The John Marsden Prize offers the chance for young Australian writers to have their work judged by author John Marsden, be published in Voiceworks, and receive some cash as well! Entries close 5pm Friday 28th August, 2009. For more information including the entry form, please visit http://www.expressmedia.org.au/.

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.

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

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

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back On Track

Okay, I think I'm about done with revising Arcanum. I'll be letting it sit for a few days and then giving it another read through before sending it to my toughest critique for their opinion.

Then I'm thinking of sending it off to The Way of the Wizard anthology - see previous post.

A couple of my ideas for The New Bedlam Project have gelled together so things are beginning to hot up in my head. For a change, I started with the end (Aaron will be pleased), and now have cause and effect, but I'm trying to nail down a beginning in my head which makes sense, is believable and fits in with the whole New Bedlam feel that I've read so far. It'll come...

In the mail today I received two things. An assignment, which only managed a C grade and has so many comments all over it I'm amazed it didn't cost them extra in stamps due to the weight of ink, and a couple of books.

The assignment I'm not overly fussed about. I may read the comments, I may not - it doesn't matter at the moment because I've already sent in the remainder of this semester's assignments and then that's it - I'm done for the time being with study.

But the books...today I've finally seen some words I wrote in an actual book. A real one with a flash looking cover and pages and black ink and everything. Only downer is it doesn't have my name on the two stories within it :c(

Yeah, it's my two erotica stories in the British anthology "The Mammoth Book of Erotic Confessions"

Unfortunately neither of these stories are penned under my real name :c(, so I still have that check box to tick, but it paid well and I wrote these at a time when i was still experimenting with genres and finding my fledgling voice.

So, if you're into reading erotica, then may I suggest you do yourself a favour and add this to your list. Would make a great present for that special someone in your life...maybe.

Well, I thought it was a big deal.

Time to get back to some more normal writing; you know, maiming and killing and that type of stuff ;c)

New Anthology Market

The Way of the Wizard - 5c/word!

Obviously there will be lots of competition for places here. Reading period is July 1, 2009 - March 31, 2010, so remember the first rule of thumb when submitting to anthologies - submit early when the editor is not jaded or spoilt for choice.

Good luck!

A Little Bit of Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

Ever heard the old joke about who is the most dangerous person in the army? A second lieutenant with a map and compass...

That's because you give a brand new, wet-behind-the-ears officer a map and allow him to tell others how to get somewhere, and he'll invariably screw it up and get everyone lost. It then becomes extremely difficult to win a war with your soldiers in the wrong place.

Now I've exploded that old joke by over explaining it; ever heard the one about the noobie writer who knew just a little too much to be called a noob, but not nearly enough to be considered seasoned? He made a fool of himself. Actually, that should be: I made a fool of myself.

I traipse around the web, read books and magazines, listen to shows, and chat with other writers a lot. I have certain ideas on the writing process and the industry as a whole which has developed over time as I've learned more.

When I truly was a noob, one who didn't know about guidelines pages, about manuscript formatting, about passive writing (still struggling with this on occasion), etc, etc - I thought: why are there so many people out there claiming to offer new writers good advice, and yet, they are really only trying to feather their own nest in one way or another? It pissed me off. And a lot of what they were saying was bunk!

So I vowed that I would spread any knowledge I learned freely and without prejudice or want of self gain. I started this blog and its poor cousin, the website, to meet this aim.

Yes, the blog is also my writing journal. I make no apologises for that. This is all about my journey as a writer. I try to keep things non-writing related to a minimum. I figure someone may learn something about the life of a writer if I just journal - so I do.

But I digress.

The more I developed opinions on things, the more I gathered tips, information, and what I considered good practise, the more confident I felt in liberally passing that information on, outside the borders of this blog.

Ever heard that old saying about giving someone enough rope?

Well, I inadvertently trampled all over someone else's thoughts and opinions yesterday. I not only became an over-opinionated writer, I was a typical unthinking male. I offered up not only my thoughts on a given topic, I gave out the solution. I didn't make suggestions, or possible options - I told.

For that, and for any damage I did to our friendship - I'm sorry.

There's another old saying, but this one's from the building trade: Measure twice, cut once.

It pretty much means to make sure that what you think you're about to do, is what you are really doing. Yesterday, I was trying to be encouraging and offer a suggestion on doing something in a different manner. What I did was a long way from that.

Another way to put it would be engage brain before opening mouth as receptacle for foot!

But, we live and learn - and move on.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reading and Ideas

As regular visitors know, I read a lot. Today I managed to finish reading Issue 6 of Necrotic Tissue's back catalogue (loved Ms Sin's submission in there - the description of his nuts heading for higher ground made me smile and wonder if a little bit of hermaphrodite doesn't linger within her psych - but I digress), and I also finished the April Issue of New Bedlam.

If you haven't been over to read this little gem of an online zine, I encourage you to do so immediately. Honestly, it won't take you long and it's full of creepiness. And has filled me with all sorts of story ideas.

Regulars will also know that I'm currently targeting NT and NB as my next markets of choice. Yes, I will be submitting to other markets, but I'll also be penning new stories with these markets in mind. I've written a 100 worder for NT already - actually I wrote that over two weeks ago, and I have another story currently on the go, but have a horrible suspicion it's going to go over word length - and it could turn into a serial - did I mention the other day that my timelessness bubble had burst?

But I have four ideas for stories in or around New Bedlam. We'll see how that plays out. The July issue isn't far away, and the next reading period is July 1st to August 31st, so I can play with my ideas, see what comes out in July and refine my plan of attack.

As you can also see, I've moved on to read Vacation by Jeremy C Shipp. I was going to read Sheep and Wolves but discovered Vacation was written first so I figured I'd better do this in the right order.

I also had to go into work today to finish off some geek stuff in my 'day job', but while I waited for some other stuff to happen, I managed to write a bit more of my new (possible serial) story so it now stands at 1706 words. I've got maybe three more 'scenes' left to write so I could go close to getting out of it under 3000 words, hopefully under 2500 - but we'll see. If i can't tie this down into more of a serial format, then it will definitely race past 5000 - again!

Thank you to everyone for the nice comments on my Apex news. I'm still quietly doing the Snoopy Dance inside.

Dave, I began my new story at 2 o'clock last night and I've only just realised I didn't use FLASHWriter as I promised. I'll see if i can come up with something else and start using it immediately - old habits die hard.

So that's it from me for today. It's been quite productive without having to push myself. Life is good. I hope it's been just as good for you as well.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Some time ago, I wrote this blog post about a new short story I wrote based on the open submission call from this anthology.

Even before the story's first draft had been fully written I was mapping out a submission path for it once Apex rejected it. Just dripping with confidence, wasn't I? The first draft finally came together at 3662 words. This was January.

I sent it off to my guru, Pharo, who suggested it needed the ending rewritten. I cut off the last third and tried again.

This post about writing it made me giggle. Over dramatic - much?

The new ending was finally finished in March so I sent it out to beta readers - again.

A couple more rounds of revisions and I sent it off to Apex (March 31st) and forgot about it.

April 1st, it was long listed. May 3rd is was short listed!

For the last 7 or 8 days I've been working fairly heavily with Gill Ainsworth who is editing the anthology. I've also since found out that most of Apex's anthologies are by invitation only and Gill was responsible for Gratia Placenti, one of the best anthologies I ever read. Dreaming is now a smidgeon under 6000 words.

Today I received confirmation my story is definitely going to be included!

I am over the moon, tickled pink, and totally chuffed.

Thank you to everyone who helped this one come together. It was like pulling teeth for much of it's creation, but the planets have aligned and it's turned out pretty good - well, actually it's turned out bloody brilliant but I'll let you all be the judge of that when the anthology comes out.

Now I can't wait till the ToC are announced.

Time for the Snoopy Dance!

Friday, June 12, 2009

News Flash!

People are advised to stay indoors, load shotguns, notch crossbows, and take up the zombie emergency brace position (sit, place head between knees, and kiss your arse goodbye).

Once more the ineptitude of local law enforcement and the woefully underfunded facility that is the Turkey Shoot Zombie farm has come to the fore. The fences have failed once more, but this time the walking undead managed to rip apart the authorities before any alarm was raised.

The first anyone knew there was any danger was when this poor fellow was impacted by the 20:30 bus to central station. Did he become a zombie just to be treated so badly that he no longer knows if his ear from his elbow? Possibly, but the point is, he was supposed to be kept behind fences so the good people of the world could take pot shots at his brain from safety.

When the bus driver realised he hadn’t actually killed anyone, he radioed in the emergency. Unfortunately to additional escapees (pictured below) entered the bus and made quick work of the lightly populated bus. Apparently one witness also saw them make a hat from a stomach, a broach from an eyeball and a necklace from a string of intestines.

Worse news is the appearance of a new type of zombieism with what is being called the Silver Strain. Luckily for us, they seem to congregate near discount record shops playing seventies music and dingy adult book stores.

The mayor has taken control of the situation and sent out a crack team of zombie hunters to clean them up. These lucky girls currently hold the highest score on the Zombie Hunt game at the arcade so we can rest assured our safety will be returned to us soon. If they fail, then the ultimate weapon, the Query Ninja shall be unleashed!

Only one last creature of doom remains unaccounted for. His keeper, who had the night off tonight with illness, was located at the local watering hole, imbuing his spirit with a top secret fortification liquid he wasn’t at liberty to reveal. He mentioned that arse-about-face, as he is lovingly called, is a gentle creature that wouldn’t hurt a fly. If seen please ring
1-800-zombie-return and someone will be round to collect him.

We believe this is the picture of the creature at large although someone in the field office swears it was the keeper.

Please stay indoors until you hear the all clear.

Thank you. That is all.

(All images shamefully stolen from other areas, but I am willing to throw up thank you's if you can be bothered to claim them)

Last Piece

I received the last of my feedback on my sample chapter today. This in turn allowed me to knock off the final assignment of semester 1.

I need to go buy a new printer cartridge over the weekend (although I could print it out at work come Monday if it comes to that). The due date for final assignments is 24th of June, so I've once again finished well ahead of schedule, even though I took three weeks off in the middle of the semester.

I'll now be considering my options and investigating whether I should bother continuing with the study route. I'm not inclined to do so currently. We'll see.

Still no word on my short listed piece. Hopefully sometime tonight.

Now - to see if I can put together something for The Awesome Carrie Harris and the Zom-Com Contest (Yes the capital in Awesome is intentional - I'll try anything to suck up to the judges)

New Anthology Market

Nothing wrong with aiming high

Announcing the forth coming Apex Halloween Short Story Contest

From the website:

Contest rules in a nutshell:

Theme: Urban myths with an alien origin
Deadline: October 15th, 2009
Word Count: Maximum of 2,500 words
Submission Address: halloween@apexbookcompany.com

The prize this year is publication in Jennifer Brozek’s upcoming Apex anthology Close Encounters of the Urban Kind. First place gets publication and payment of 8 cents per word for their story (and a copy of the antho). Second place gets publication and payment of 5 cents per word for their story (and a copy of the antho).

Jennifer’s anthology is invite only, so these will be the only open spots available to non-solicited manuscripts. (This would be a huge feather in someones cap)

The Apex editing team will choose the ten to fifteen best stories and submit those to Jennifer.

Jennifer will proceed to pick the winner and runner-up for publication.

(Take note of this - it's important!)

Her anthology can be described as “combining the dark allure of urban legends with the high stakes of alien encounters”.

Best of luck!


Last night I finished my revision of Swirls In Obsidian. It has been renamed Arcanum due to all the changes which have been made and sent out to my wonderful group of beta readers.

I did this while rebuilding my oldest daughters laptop and while continuing to wait on tender hooks for any word from the editor I'm currently working with.

Alas, the laptop is rebuilt, the revision is complete, I even managed to get halfway through NT # issue 6, but still nothing from the editor. I don't blame her for it or hold any grudges. I'm sure she has more than just little old me to work with in getting this book together to the extremely high standards this particular publication is known for.

Tonight I have more real work to do. Sunday I will be once more at my day job doing overtime. Sunday night I'll be putting together my last assignment for submission sometime during the coming week. I must also finish reading NT6 and read New Bedlam 1 before the weekend is done so I can make a dent in my review work.

You just know my slush reading for this month will arrive in my inbox any day now...

As for the previous discussion on writing courses. I am in no way saying people shouldn't do it. I am suggesting there may be better ways to achieve the same results, but courses do provide the structure some people need, and they definitely provide the much needed piece of paper to allow one to move into some writing professions. I suggest that if you are going to do a writing course, you first look at doing a short English grammar course to get the basics right (unlike me), and then research any long time course carefully. Ask around, post a question, be sure. Know what you want out of it and ensure that is the minimum you attain.

And good luck.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Up For Discussion

Anton provided this link to an article in the New Yorker discussing the merits of creative writing courses. It's a long article, but worth the read,I think. (Thanks, Anton)

It seems to be centred on mainstream literary fiction, and it seems to argue against itself with the evidence it presents, but it does touch on some home truths, the main one being that creativity can not be taught but it can be encouraged, and this is what I think creative writing courses at all levels are endeavouring to do.

I'm becoming a little disillusioned with my course because I'm not learning a great deal and it's not inspiring me to write more or better. This may have something to do with not fully trusting some of those teaching me.

When I do modules on screen writing, or writing articles - things I'm not naturally lured towards, then I focus more because I'm learning new things. When I'm doing modules on writing short stories or on writing the novel, I'm not learning so much because I've learned much of it over my growth as a writer over the last three years or so. That's not to say I learn nothing, but I do have to sift through a lot of chaff to get to the good stuff.

So does this make writing courses not worth the Latin inscribed parchment you get from them?

I think that depends on where you're at in your writing journey and what you're aiming to get out of the experience.

Creative writing courses will not make you a writer. They will give you tools to add to your writing toolbox, some you will keep, some you will adapt to your own needs, and others you will discard, but at least you will learn of their existence and be able to make decisions about them.

They can give you a sense of community in a profession which is mostly a solo affair, and writers need each other, but a blog like this one or joining a writing group does the same thing - and probably does it better.

It can prod you into producing work. This isn't always quality work due to the time constraints placed on you, but it does give ideas you can work on outside the course framework. Of course your time is so taken up with doing assignments and reading, you have seriously reduced time to follow up on those ideas, and by the time you do, often the spark of inspiration has died and you tend to discard those once flaming gems.

The dream of writing for a living is dying. I'm becoming, sadly, more in tune with the idea of writing only because I want to. I've always wanted to, I just wanted my cake and to eat it as well. Now I'm happy enough to get my work published and track my career as it moves through better quality markets which may one day equal better pay, but it will 'probably' never be enough to live on. Still, a nice bonus occasionally is a good thing.

So do I think creative writing courses are a good thing?

For new writers, for people who, like I did back in 2006, suddenly decided to start writing, then doing a six or twelve month writing course could put you on the right path, but I would suggest doing an English class at that point would be more beneficial.

When you get to the point of submitting work to market, then it may be useful, but then putting the butt in the chair and writing is as useful if not more so. Finding writers who are better than you and who are willing to share their wisdom, help you learn, and pass honest judgement on your work, is infinitely more useful.

As you progress into more focused work in the longer courses such as the four year one I'm currently doing, you will dedicate more time producing a single work which is a good thing, but then with everything you've done with other writers outside the course structure, you'd be doing this anyway and with a better base of opinions to offer guidance rather than a single mentor who you have been paired with - someone you didn't pick and who you still have to learn to trust.

If you're doing the course for the other modules to expand your knowledge across all possible writing careers, then you're diluting your creative juices and this is not a good thing. Decide on what you want to do and put your energies into that.

Creative writing courses may teach you some technical parts of the writing process. They may encourage you to produce work and move forward with your art, but they cannot teach you to be creative.

My advice is to take an English course as early in life as possible and become good at using the words you intend to be creative with, and then get out and experience life. Take note of the world around you and encourage your inner child to make up scenarios about the things you see.

And then write - a lot. Read a lot as well. Seek out writers who are better than you. Your goal is to learn from them and eventually surpass them, unless they are just as focused and then you should all rise together. Critique other people's work and get your own done as often as you can.

Spend some time as a member of Critters (or similar large critique group) where you will read a lot of work. You need to read the good and the bad. You need to be able to pick the difference at ten paces so you won't make the same mistakes - or at least be less likely to :c)

Unless a specific job you're aiming at requires you to have that Latin coated piece of dried and pressed wood, then don't bother. There are better ways - in my opinion (and experience).

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Quiet Day On The Writing Front

I've done zero writing today until I began this post.

I've done zero reading.

Had lots of meetings at work so that kept me more than busy.

I did receive an assignment back! Another B grade. I'm seriously considering not continuing this course. I've learned more about writing in the last week from my secret editor than I have in 18 months in the course - that's sad.

I've also updated all the market links and news at AHWA so if you're a member don't forget to head along and check it out for all your Australian and dark fiction markets - oh, and I've added The New Bedlam Project to the database ;c)

And that's it.

So much for Mr Busy who doesn't sleep.

Good luck with your submissions.



Got another edit back from the editor yesterday. Rather than get straight onto it, I let it sit during the daylight hours and got stuck in last night.

When I first saw all the proposed changes, I thought it would no longer be my story. I was worried. I didn't want to say no to this opportunity, but I didn't want to sell my soul either.

In the end, I made a copy of the file and accepted every single change. I then went through and read the 'new' story, and found--it's still my story--only so much better.

There were some things I wasn't 100% sold on so I marked these up, some other things I didn't understand or which didn't sound right to me, so I marked those up as well, and sent it back with an email containing just a couple of questions.

I got a prompt email back with answers to my questions and notification she was going to do what I've suggested all writers do, take a break from a story so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

This means a day or two of me sitting on my hands and fretting. Character building stuff!

No news back on anything else while all this is going on. It's like my whole writing bubble has taken a deep breath and is now holding it till this situation resolves. Honestly - I've not got any other acceptances or rejections. I've not even received an assignment back from the Academy.

Picture a street with high rise buildings on either side. It could be New York, London or Sydney, but it's quiet apart from the rustle of discarded paper and the whine of the wind as it races around the corners of the monoliths towering above you. And everything is grey. Colours are washed away. Low clouds of the same bland grey hang overhead. Imagine the first moment you step out into the middle of the street and wonder what's happened. Now imagine the moment before any theories or answers or conclusions begin to form in your head to explain away why things are as they are around you. Now imagine that moment is where you have to stay forever. It's not Ground Hog day. Bill Murray isn't about to come screaming around the corner in a truck advising a furry creature not to drive angry. Things aren't on an endless loop. You are just in that moment before thought, with nothing around you, and you know it will be like that for the rest of your life.

That's how I feel right now.

I know things will start up again in only a few days time (maybe sooner), and for better or worse, the colour will flood back and motion will once more reign supreme, but for now, I'm stuck in that moment. Limbo without the fire, half-naked women, and over drinking. Roll on the weekend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

All Over The Place

I have a story currently being given the serious treatment by an editor at a big name market.

I may have mentioned the story or market in past posts, I'm not sure, but I'll refrain from doing it here in case I jinx myself and everything falls over at the last hurdle.

Thing is, I have learned a great deal from this editor in less than a week. My story has had more red ink applied to it than all previous critiques put together. At one point I asked why they'd bothered accepting it if it was so bad? Probably not a good move on my part, but I judged my fledgling email relationship with this editor to have progressed far enough, and I'm nothing if not honest.

The response back was more than encouraging and a big lesson that good stories will only get better with an experienced editors help and guidance.

It's funny that I expected revisions and block changes to be made on a novel manuscript, and yet was surprised to see similar things, only on a smaller scale, at the short story level. I really am learning about the professional side of things on a steep learning curve at the moment. Reading about it is one thing - being involved as it happens is something else entirely.

Nothing has been set in stone, although the cement is drying fast, so although I've not been able to announce the acceptance within the 24 hour period, I'm hopeful to have an announcement of some kind before the weekend.

The result of all this back and forth revisions and the mounting excitement and nervousness over the story's prospects and final evolvement (my word), is I've done very little of anything else other than reading. My mind is so focused on this story, and everything I'm learning, I can't think of anything else. This editor is so nice, they've even taken the time to explain to me the difference between toward and towards! How cool is that?

FYI - if you're submitting to an American market - use toward, everywhere else, towards.

So if I've seemed a little less than myself recently, that's why.

And yes, if things do fall over at the last hurdle, I am going to be seriously crushed. I'll have a great story at the end of it all and have learned a lot, but I feel like I'm standing on a wobbly stool and playing out the rope over the beam above my head, while someone else ties the noose around my neck. Adrenaline plus, but not a particularly nice feeling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

2009 Ditmar Winners

Just in case you haven't heard HorrorScope has listed all the winners from this years awards.

Look very closely and you'll not see me anywhere on there - not that I expected to be, but look just a little closer and you'll see the wonderful Ms Dowker!

Well done Flick!

And congratulations to all this years winners, especially Angela and the team at Black and to Rob and everyone else I know through the AHWA and HorrorScope who got a gong. Much deserved.

Reading List 2009

I've seen many blogs with a list of what's been read by the owner and I've decided I want one. So over on the sidebar, in the coming days as I gather the titles together. you will see a list of everything I've read so far this year and I'll try to keep it updated.

Why? Reading is part of learning as a writer, and showing what I've read and what I'm currently reading is visible proof to myself that I'm not slacking off completely.

Yes I have the GoodRead widgets toward the bottom, but I want books that I've read this year listed by themselves. I know I read 27 books last year, but I don't know how many, or what ezines or print magazines I read. I need to know where my time is going because I have so little of it to go around.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something A Little Murky

Over on 52 Stitches you can now read my little flash piece titled Murky Depths.

I know I'm going to get hauled over the coals for it so I'll be up front. Until I reread it just now, I didn't notice the speech tags being the wrong way round. That is to say, instead of it being 'he said', I managed to let slip through many instances of 'said he'.

It's one of those rules I know, but old habits die hard and sometimes I slip. I'm human.

I hope you enjoy the story.

As for this weekend:

Today I got called into work and I need to pop back in there tomorrow which will be nice when the pay packet comes in but shoots my schedule full of holes.

I did manage to get some editing work done on Swirls In Obsidian, which now needs a new title because it's moved a long way away from what it once was. And I'm about to complete my reading of Atrum Tempestas and then write the review, so the weekend isn't a total bust.

Hopefully I'll have some awesome news about an acceptance sometime over the next 24 hours. Fingers crossed.

Everyone think happy thoughts and I'll continue to do the same for you. With a little help from each other, I know we can fly.

Still Reading

I'm still working my way through my reading.

I managed to submit assignment 8 for the film based module so that one is now complete. A C grade will get me a credit.

I'm working on the last assignment for the novel writing module so the end of the semester is well in hand.

I've also been asked to do a revision for one piece I currently have out which TOTALLY blew me away. It's my biggest market to date so I'm suddenly very anxious. If it wasn't for the steading influence of my private super editor, Pharosian, I'd be pulling my hair out by now. A beacon by name and by nature. Thank you Pharo.

So the sudden adrenaline rush and chaos of continuos revisions put my weekend schedule a little behind. Out of the 25 stories in Atrum Tempestas, I'm currently up to number 19. Our very own Danielle Ferris is only another three stories away. I shall get there tomorrow (it's now 1am so that would mean later today).

I also want to finish reading the NT back catalogue and read New Bedlam before the weekend is out. Monday will be helping the little one with a project and getting some work done around the house - if the rain holds off.

That's it from me for now - time to go watch the Socceroos.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: Atrum Tempestas

Atrum Tempestas available at Lulu.

Publisher: Black Hound

What they say: A collection of dark, surreal and fantastical tales that will prick your senses. Written by the cream of up coming and established authors, this collection will leave you compelled and looking over your shoulder.

What I say: Unfortunately, the above blurb is nicely written and a good example of a useful sales pitch which bears little resemblance to the actual product.

There are gems within the 25 stories offered, but the journey to find them is a difficult one for they are few, and the ground between them is vast and littered with rubble.

And I don't blame the authors at all. The editorial efforts are nonexistent with bad grammar, typos and poor sentence structure allowed to pass onto the printed page.

Many of the stories have a good premise, but fail in execution. Some should not have made the short list. It feels like there wasn't a huge response and so some below par stories were included, which brings down the reading experience.

But enough negatives, there are some solid positives here as well.

The cover is a nice piece of artwork. I tip my hat to Crystal Adkins (staff member of SNM Horror Magazine as well as an obvious freelance artist of talent).

While good stories at the beginning of the anthology were rare, (I found two in the first sixteen offered) it did get better as I went through, and it almost came home with a wet sail (five good ones in the last eleven).

In total, I found seven stories I enjoyed. Stories with a plot, characterisation, setting, and written with enough skill, that any editorial mishaps or oversights did not detract from my enjoyment. They came at the premise from a new or unique angle, or were just downright disturbing. These stories shone out from the others like diamonds on a black velvet cushion.

In no particular order other than how they appear in the TOC, they are:

Chalky White by Gregory Hall (Easily my favourite in the entire anthology)

That Damned Old House by Jeff Ezell (Evil clowns, with a hell of a twist)

Harlequin by Sarah Basore (Poignant with a deadly sting in the tail)

Q by Jade Eckert (this is original and very well written)

Child Villain by Danielle Ferris (Yes I'm a sucker for an evil child tale, but this girl is disturbing)

Would You Like Fries With That by Ben Eads (enough to put you off fast food for at least a week)

Apart from the above mentioned authors, the other stories were told with mainly fair to good attempts as far as technical writing skills, but the premises adopted were overused, cliched, and generally a bit of a yawn. I would not like to see the good stories overlooked because of the bad points which abound, so I leave you with one final, exceptional point: you can purchase and download this anthology from Lulu for only $1.40US. I strongly suggest reconsidering any thoughts of paying for the print version.

On my reading scale, this anthology only gets a 2.4.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I've finally gotten around to posting my reviews onto Amazon (after a timely reminder from Alan).

It (Amazon) tells me they may not appear for 48 hours, so be patient if you're waiting to see a review of something you've been published in or something you're considering buying (because I know you wouldn't do that until you've heard my opinion on it).

Work continues on my revision of a couple of stories and will do over the long weekend which stretches before me (Queen's Birthday here in SA - happy birthday Liz!). I'm also intending on finishing up the majority of my last assignments so they're ready to go out the door once I've got the last few pieces together. I've given a deadline of the 15th of June before the last is actually posted so no rush on those who've been so kind to pierce my sample chapter with the cold hard steel of truth.

I'm also moving along with my reading. I'm about halfway through Atrum Tempestas and will go close to finishing that tonight.

Not much happening on the new words front at the moment though. The muse has vacated the premises. I think I'll check out what anthologies are around the place over the weekend, but I'm not limiting it to just dark fiction. According to Duotrope, there are about 40 anthologies on the books at the moment. Maybe one of those will stir up an idea. I've also got to finish reading Issue 5 & 6 of the NT back catalogue and then Issue 1 of New Bedlam.

If that doesn't spark something, I've got nearly 40 books sitting on my to read shelf that should get me going - or make me go blind - no, they are not that kind of book.

So that's my weekend summed up. Of course there's the kids sport and time with the family, and research to fit in there as well, but this is a writing blog and I know none of you are interested in my other exploits.

Speak soon.

Good luck with your submissions.



That's what I did last night.

Okay, I vegged out on the bed and watched movies, but they were horror movies.

Okay - they were billed as horror movies.

I watched:

Lesbian Vampire Killers - I know you won't believe me, but my wife chose this one because she thought it might interest me - at least I hope that's why she chose it - anyway, don't bother with this one. I heard a rumour the script was sold purely on the title. After seeing the flick, I now believe that rumour.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past - lots of eye candy here for the men, and Matthew McConaughey for the women - and nothing else.

The Host - recommended by Nat. This is one of the strangest creature flicks I've ever seen. The beginning was absolute crud. The acting is rubbish. The camera work is almost comical in places, the final scenes are a total let down - but in between is a very good, very well told, although sometimes over acted, story. The final confrontation between the family and the creature just drops everything into place. For an exercise on why you should start as close to the action as possible and why you should leave as soon as you can - this movie is good, but also if you want to see how story structure comes together, how three character arcs finally come to a common meeting point, then everything between the beginning and the end of this movie is very good.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I present for your veiwing enjoyment and total awe, the new cover for my book!

No longer am I writing a dark historical romance with swathes of parnormal experiences throughout - I have been shown the error of my ways! I'm beginning a new WIP - and it's gonna be blue ;c)

Just kidding.

If you haven't caught up with the craze yet, head on over to Carrie Harris' blog of total awesomness and check things out.

Thanks, Carrie. Your advice is wonderfully sparkly and threaded with brilliance. Please pass on my many thanks to the Query Ninja. I bow respectfully to their greater power and understanding.

Or, as us Aussies would say while turning a snag over the barbie in your honour while lifting a cold one in your direction: You're a top shelia, and ta muchly for the bonza advice. Oh and thank the fella in the black getup for me as well...

Strange Place

I'm in a strange place with my writing at the moment and I think it has a lot to do with AKL, the associated assignments and the recent improvement in my strike rate with short stories. The list is not all new news, just a round up of things that occurred in May (without being a full May report...if you get what I mean).

Firstly - Wamphyri has been accepted at Night to Dawn. Thank you guys for the suggestion.
Next - Dreaming was shortlisted at Apex.
Next - Worth the Wait has been long listed at Festive Fear.
Next - Swirls in Obsidian came back with some really positive comments from PARSEC. It won't take a lot of revision to ramp it up and send it back out.
Next - Spoilt Rotten received good comments from its target market before being rejected. I had very little qualms in resubmitting that one elsewhere.

All of these stories have been written in the last seven months. Actually all of them except Wamphryi have been written in the last 3 months.

Two other stories written recently: God's Piscatorial Church and Digging Up The Past are also firmly on my favourites list (particularly GPC).

With the diploma firmly directing me back to AKL, and more specifically to AKL chapters I'd written a long time ago, I've been dismayed at my past writing efforts. Yep, I'm on one of those down sides, but only as far as the long version stuff goes. I'm very much on a high for the short stuff.

So I'm thinking about changing my course selections for the last two years of the course. I'm thinking of shelving the novel aspirations for the moment and hitting the shorts - hard!

An option for the final two years of the diploma where I need to come up with a big project, is to put together a short story collection. I could do that. It will take just as much work as a novel, but in much smaller bites. They will need to be just as measured as a longer story as I need to keep to a central theme, but the idea has merit, and it excites me (and I haven't even decided on a theme yet!).

The problem here will be putting AKL away, or at least on a back burner. It's been a long haul so far. Any writing would help me to continue to improve, but do I hone in the short form until something hits me over the head so hard it must be made into a longer form, or do I just plug away with what I'm doing? Does putting AKL away amount to admitting defeat?

I guess that's what scares me most: admitting defeat. Admitting I'm not ready, not skilled enough to write a compelling novel, or that my current ideas aren't compelling enough; not fully formed enough.

I know I one day will be, today is just not that day.

So I'm going, I think (I still need to research all my options), switch tacks with the diploma and with my time.

Look out anthology markets - here I come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

AHWA NEWS DIGEST [16.05.09-01.06.09]

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

Australian Shadows Award expands

Australia's top honour for horror fiction, the Australian Horror Writers Association's Australian Shadows Award, is now open for 2009 but with a major difference — this year, the Award has expanded from one to three categories; awards will be issued for the best works in Short Fiction (short stories), Long Fiction (novellas, novels, and single-author collections), and Edited Publication (for editors of anthologies and horror fiction magazines).

The Australian Shadows Award reading period is open from now until December 31. Works of horror and dark fantasy written or edited by Australians (or New Zealanders) and first published in the 2009 calendar year are eligible. Authors, editors, or publishers seeking to enter eligible work must contact Award Director Shane Jiraiya Cummings to arrange for the material to be submitted to the judges (no entry fee required). Click through for more details, including competition judges.

'Nameless' Competition open
Read the story (accessed through the AHWA site), get to know the story elements, the characters, their journey and their motivations. Then, write a fitting ending for ‘The Nameless’ and give the tale a title while you’re at it. The competition will run for one month - submissions close June 30. The six best endings will be featured on the HorrorScope site. A special guest judge will decide the winner. Click through for guidelines.

Dymocks Southland Bestselling Horror Titles for May ‘09
Dymocks Southland is a general bookshop in Cheltenham, Victoria, boasting an extensive range of genre stock. Dymocks Southland publishes Dymensions, a monthly SF, fantasy and horror newsletter. Click here to subscribe. Click through for the Top 10 Bestselling Horror titles for May 2009.

Victorian SF Chronos Awards opens
The Continuum Foundation has opened nominations for the inaugural Chronos Awards for excellence in SF, fantasy, and horror in the state of Victoria in 2008. Nominations from "natural persons active in fandom" or from full or supporting members of the Continuum 5 SF convention are open from now until June 28. The Chronos Awards will be presented at Continuum 5 in August. Nomination details available at HorrorScope.

Alan Baxter's RealmShift competition
Australian author and AHWA member Alan Baxter is offering a signed copy of his novel RealmShift to one lucky reader. Competition details are here. Competition ends June 9.

Midnight Echo #2 - Coming in June
This month watch out for Midnight Echo #2, edited by Angela Challis & Shane Jiraiya Cummings, and featuring creepy stories by Kurt Newton, Bob Franklin, David Conyers, Andrew J. McKiernan, Joanne Anderton, Shaun Jeffrey, Felicity Dowker, and many more... plus artwork from David Schembri and many talented dark fantasy artists.

BlackOnline Twitter
Black Magazine staff writer Gary Kemble has set up the Black Online Twitter site. For Twitter users, this is the ideal place to get all the latest dark fiction news in bite-sized pieces (including articles syndicated from HorrorScope and Robert Hood's Undead Backbrain). The BlackOnline Twitter site is here and the RSS feed is here.

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.

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, Brenton Tomlinson, Scott Wilson, and Jeff Ritchie (Scary Minds).

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.

Grants Pass Review

I've posted my review of the invitation only anthology 'Grant's Pass' over at HorrorScope. Go here to check it out! On my review scale, I'm rating it at a healthy 4.3.

I should have updated my currently reading to convey my sudden switch, but...I didn't.

Now before I move onto the mountain of books which has arrived, I promised Danielle I'd review her anthology, and as I paid good money for it, I'd better keep that promise, so I'm about to begin reading Atrum Tempestas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Semester Just About Done

The current assignment I'm working on has been a doozy. Create and smooth out a query letter for a novel I'm still writing. Create a synopsis for that same still-being-constructed novel and make sure the two combined don't equal more than 1500 words.

Easier said than done.

And finally add a sample chapter - well, that was easy enough. Which one of my 23 already written chapters would you like to see?

The query is kind of done. I'll gain more insight and loads of goodness when the Query Ninja has at it, but I think it's good enough for the assignment. I've also done the synopsis, which I think is poor - still. It doesn't flow as I would like , but not getting bogged down in detail and including all the relevant bits will take time. I think stepping away from it for a bit and then revising will be worthwhile, as will feedback from others. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of time, so it may have to go as is. The chapter, as already stated, is done.

So this assignment is just about ready to go out the door. I feel a huge amount of sympathy for the other students in this course. At the meet and greet at the beginning of last year, very few of them admitted to being up to their armpits in trying to write a novel. If they haven't gotten seriously stuck in before this semester began, I can see them ready to hit the self destruct button by now - I was almost there about a week ago and I already knew a lot about this industry.

Now the final assignment looms on the horizon--well the final two assignments. The script has been done and is waiting for the lecturer to open up electronic submissions, but the novel writing assignment requires I find some willing readers. Thank you one and all for jumping up and down and offering, but I've already got my three in mind and will be sending them emails shortly explaining what I need and asking if they'd be willing to help out. Spread the love, or don't ask too much of too few is the catch phrase here - otherwise known as don't wear out your welcome...

And all these assignments are coming to an end just in time.

Today my reading-for-review books arrived.

On my immediate to read pile over the next 8 weeks are (in no particular order):

Sheep and Wolves by Jeremy C. Shipp
Vacation by Jeremy C. Shipp

This is not a Game by Walter Jon Williams
Ravensoul by James Barclay
The Grave Thief by Tom Lloyd (No, I haven't read the first two)
Two Jeff Lindsay books concerning Dexter (One of the books contains three stories, the other arrived in a police evidence bag - cool!)
Grants Pass Anthology (already reviewed by 'my pick for the fan writer Ditmar', Chuck. The man is a machine when it comes to reading and churning out excellent reviews. I've started reading this one already so my pale imitation of a review should be available soon. Psst, so far I agree with Chuck, this is very good!)

So, the chaos that is my writing life continues.

Oh, and lastly: David Such has written a program to help us all produce wonderful pieces of fiction. Head on over to his blog and download the beta release of his exciting new product called FlashWRITER and give it a go. You'll be able to supply feedback and give input to create exactly the type of writing program you want. No more excuses about Microsoft or any of the other Office-type programs out there not being able to do what you want. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Go and have a look and at the very least, say hello and congratulate him on a monumental effort in producing this very professional looking program.

To be honest, I'm not sure how many testers David is currently after, but it can't hurt to go over and ask if you're interested.

That's it from me for tonight. Email requests going out shortly and then I'm going to get some reading done.