“Kissed by the Sun” Accepted

It has been a rather exciting afternoon here. This morning, after ‘sleeping on it’ as Jason Coggins suggested to me last night, I got back to work on “Kissed by the Sun.” Dave mentioned last night if I were to tinker any further with it I would do more harm than good  so I did the final proof reading corrections, as brought to my attention by his red pen, and sent the story back to Russell at Ticonderoga Publications, with fingers crossed.

And within an hour the reply landed in my inbox… it would be included in Dead Red Heart in 2011. This was followed by me skipping up the corridor very loudly chanting  “I’m published. I’m published.” (If you are wondering – no the thrill never wears off, and this is my first Australian publication). There is still a little work to be done on it, but it has a place!

I have gone on record in numerous places saying I “hear” the characters in my head. With this story the characters I heard were scheduled for an early death and a late entrance. So what is a girl supposed to do? I took the leap of faith and wrote it from the female protagonist’s point of view and just hoped it would be fine. Getting the green light has been the greatest relief to what felt like a creative purgatory shared with two recalcitrant female vampires who simply did not want to share.

The rewrite consisted of carving 1200 words from the word total, cutting a lot of the back story so it is implied rather than trotted out, tightening the dialogue and then finally, creating an authentic relationship between the two female vampires.

This ended up being the stumbling block. I couldn’t hear them spatting with each other. Jason pointed out the dialogue between then was very ‘vampy’ and suggested I go for the master/slave archetype rather than an actual vampire relationship. And then, when all else failed, he helped me out with the very nasty Isolda. It was almost like he heard her or ‘got her’ better than I ever could.

I honestly feel I’ve grown from living in rewrite hell and hats go off to those writers I’ve worked with this year (Dale and Paul S immediately spring to mind) who spent time there also, of varying lengths. I promise to appreciate the process far better as an editor with my writers next year having been sent there this year. (Though I will say, I hope no one has to go to an indefinite rewrite hell next year!)

My thanks go to all who helped turn the story from some random ramblings of a couple of sunburnt guys on holidays to get their rocks off to the cohesive ‘oh my god’ story it became, especially those who came in as individual cheer squads when my confidence waned.

To my beta readers Chris Chartrand, Carrie Clevenger, Dan Powell and Jason Coggins… thanks for being able to see the story I often couldn’t or missed totally; to Lily Mulholland and Paul Anderson who line edited… thanks for the razor sharp precision; and finally Stacey Larner, Kate Caston and my own Dave Harris, who proof read for me so I turned in the cleanest possible copy. Again, proof that successful writing is not a solo endeavour.

More information will be forthcoming soon regarding publication dates for this wonderful anthology of Australian vampire stories.  Most of all I’m itching to know who I will be sharing the space between the covers with.

Image via Pivotal Public Speaking

Kissed by the Sun Redux

White Peaks
My vampire story for Ticonderoga’s Dead Red Heart anthology is back on the chopping block. I got an email from the editor , Russell B Farr,  this morning saying “Kissed by the Sun” couldn’t be used in its present form but I could resubmit a rewrite. Better than a rejection any day!

Again I feel like the Universe was looking out for me. We went to Burleigh Heads on the weekend and I got a chance to experience the feel of the water and sand, wishing I’d had it a few weeks earlier so I could rewrite the sections at the beach… especially the sensation of the sand being sucked out from under the feet and the rapid sink… what a great metaphor for Anke descent!

The story is currently at 5580 words and I need to chop it down to 4500… condense the story, cut some of the dialogue, actualise the relationship between Anke and Isolda. The good news though, is the gritty location of Brisbane and the Gold Coast got the thumbs up and there’s nothing askew in the narrative. And the wonderful Chris Chartrand has offered to cast a razorsharp eye over it also.

So picking up my beautiful razorblade to start chopping. The litmus test will be: ‘does this progress the story?’ If not – out it goes.

Kudos to Russell who took the time out to talk to me on the phone, in between my phone service to drop in and out, and visitors arriving earlier than expected.

Image By: Cyron / www.flickr.com
License: Creative Commons License (By 2.0)

Deck the Halls Roll Call

Here ye, oh hear ye! Let it be known that nineteen intrepid writers of all ilks stuck their hands up, snaffled a prompt and proceded to get rather excited about ‘Deck the Halls’.

Without further ado… let me unfurl the roll. We have:

And while this seems rather blithe… I can tell you, having already seen one story, the fun and laughter will probably stop here (though please, someone write an outrageously funny Christmas story… or two!)

My partner Dave says I always get this crazy twinkle in my eye at the start of a project… and let me tell you, it’s not just the Christmas tinsel glittering at our place tonight. So, thank-you everyone who threw their lot in with me. Congratulations on being part of my first mixed tape and first project of any type outside of eMergent Publishing and Chinese Whisperings. I’m really looking forward to this, epecially hanging with some brand new faces.

To those who missed out… you get first dibs on the next mixed tape!

For the readers… you will not have to endure false Christmas sentiments and bad TV carols this Christmas Eve.

More wonderful images via Modish.

Call for Submissions: “Deck the Halls”


A second round of places is now open and available. If you are still interested put your name down in the comments section.

This year I missed out on taking part in Jim Bronyaur’s 12 Days of Christmas. I returned home from wild, wanderings in Malaysia to discover the shout out happened while I was away. This leaves me with a quandary; for the first year in a long time I’m without a Christmas writing project. Seems I also have a few friends without a Christmas project.

Last week we went to our son’s first school carols evening. As we sang Deck the Halls it occurred to me:

1. the song was the only vaguely pagan/non religious song sung which didn’t have to do with Santa that night.

2. it has some wickedly twisted passages if you look at the lyrics out of context of the song.

3. Deck the Halls was the song I riffed my very first Christmas story, ‘Deck the Balls’ from in 2008.

After a busy year with Chinese Whisperings, eMergent Publishing and Write Anything I just need a new project to get me through the festive season… so, I am offering the first nine writers to sign up the opportunity to join in a ‘mixed tape’ of short stories for Christmas. I will publish a story every two hours on the 24th of December in the lead up to Christmas Day (Eastern Australia Standard Time). I will also make an eBook version available for free download (here) midnight Christmas Day. The stories will be grouped together under the title “Mixed Tapes Volume 1: Deck the Halls” and be published in the same order as the song.

The submission guidelines are simple:

1. Nominate a lyric/line you’d like to use as a prompt in the comments section below – first nine people get a place.

2. Write an original story of 1500 words based on the lyric (go on, really twist it!)

3. Stories can be in any genre but must be based in or connected with the holiday season (please no religious themed stories – those with a pagan/roots slant OK).

4. all stories must have been beta read, line edited and proof read prior to submission.

5. all stories must be submitted by Wednesday 22nd December (Eastern Australian Standard Time).

6. All successful authors will be notified of submission procedure.

7. Copyright of all stories will remain with the original author.

8. Stories to be submitted via Submishmash

Any queries please DM me at Twitter @jodicleghorn. Here are the ten lines… go for it!

#1 Deck the halls with boughs of holly (Rebecca Dobbie & Benjamin Solah)

#2 Tis the season to be jolly (Chris Chartrand & Sam Adamson)

#3 Don we now our gay apparel (Jen Brubacher & Graham Storrs)

#4 Troll the ancient Yule tide carol (Annie Evett & Amanda Scotney)

#5 See the blazing Yule before us (Laura Eno & Emma Kerry)

#6 Strike the harp and join the chorus (Paul Servini & Lily Mulholland)

#7 Follow me in merry measure (Kil Connor & Stacey Larner)

#8 While I tell of Yule tide treasure (Jodi Cleghorn & Chia Lynn)

#9 Fast away the old year passes (Jim Bronyaur & Icy Sedgwick)

#10 Hail the new, ye lads and lasses (Dan Powell & Trevor Belshaw)

Picture via Modish where there are lots more wonderful vintage Christmas pics.

Bridging the Gulf

On Year Nine school camp, at Apollo Bay we divided our week away between the beach (and residence at a convent!) and camping by a river in the Ottway Ranges (my girlfriends from MacAuley and Connell houses will remember this trip well!) We did a two hour hike into the Ottway Ranges to our camp site, with ruck sacks etc as a prelimary ‘rough it’ for Outward Bound the following year. By sunset it was obvious we were lost, the PE teacher deciding to go a different route to usual. Just before the sun went down we came to the edge of a massive cliff and below, the mouth of the river we were meant to be camping on.

We spent the night on top of the escarpment, looking down on the lights lit on the beach for us,  in a creepy adventure (which earned us front page on the Colac Times the next day!). The entire episode was made all the more bizarre by the lack of food and water, but George Michael blaring out into the wilderness from my friend’s hot pink tape deck (which she’d carried all the way in!)The next morning we turned around and started back, met half way by the local SES who loaded our rucksacks into their utes, passed around the water and shared lots of smiles amid rather grim faced 14 year olds.

The failed bushwalk and the sinking moment of realisation, seeing the huge valley below and knowing we couldn’t get there easily without turning back, came to mind last week when I sat down to do the fourth draft of ‘Kissed by the Sun’ – very aptly renamed by the wonderful Lily Mulholland. It felt like being caught on one side of the creative divide knowing I had to be on the other… and wondering how the hell I was going to get there. I should have played some George Michael simply to lighten the mood!

And yes, there was a moment of turning back when I got to the edge, realising I couldn’t get to the otherside with what I had. Sadly no creative SES volunteers arrived to help shoulder the burden. Instead lovely, writing mates kept my spirits up, especially Carrie Clevenger who gave me thumbs up on the first two sections I rewrote, giving me the confidence to keep on going.

And I got there… I ploughed through the massive rewrite to get me to a cohesive POV, mourning the loss of the male POV in the story, to end up with a solid fourth draft of around 5,500. And it has all been pretty much plain sailing from there, with minimal line edits, and then minimal proof reading corrections. Thanks to Paul Anderson and  Lily Mulholland for the line edits, as well as Stacey Larner and my own darling, Dave, who did the proofreading. Also my heartfelt thanks to the original beta reading team who helped me see the light, Jason Coggins, Carrie Clevenger, Dan Powell and Rebecca Dobbie. Again, this adventure in writing has proven to me, writing is a team effort.

‘Kissed by the Sun’ went into Ticonderoga Publication’s submission machine at 9am this morning. An auspicious way to celebrate the Sagittarian new moon and hopefully a fruitful month of submissions else where.