An Omnibus of News

Rather than bore you readers rotten with a succession of catch up posts on what’s been going on, while I’ve been squirrled away behind the scenes, I’m taking a leaf out of Paul Anderson’s book and presenting an omnibus of news.

DECK THE HALLS: festive tales of fear and cheer

I feel like busting out the mid 80’s Fourex tune every time I think of this project (you know “they said you’d never make it, but you finally came through”). The good news is the anthology goes to pre-sales this Friday and launches Tuesday 10th July. For those wondering why the hell a Christmas anthology in July… Christmas in July is sort of a big thing here in Australia. This gives the anthology a soft launch here and then an international launch in late November.

The trollicious wreath is compliments of Andrew McKiernan. For more information on the anthology you can see the official release at Literary Mix Tapes, and for more on Literary Mix Tapes you can see eMergent Publishing’s press release.

DEAD RED HEART now award-winning

Ticonderoga Publications’ massive Australian vampire-themed anthology took out the Best Edited Work at the Australian Shadows Awards. My story “Kissed by the Sun” is in DRH along with a bunch of truly brilliant stories including my favourites: Shona Husks’ “Mutiny on the Scarborough”, Angela Slatter’s “Sun Falls”, Jeremy Saddler’s “Such is Life”, Felicity Dowker’s “Red Delicious”, Patty Jansen’s “Quarantine”, Joanne Anderton’s “Sea At Night”, Jason Nahrung’s “Children of the Cane” and Damon Cavalchini’s “Renfield’s Wife”.


I had the pleasure of talking to Greg McQueen (one of my heroes!) several weeks ago about digital publishing, relationship building and the cost of going Amazon Kindle for eP’s anthologies, plus a whole heap of other things in the penultimate podcast for his degree.

Gratefully Greg was a super kind host (I could honestly chat to Greg for hours) and despite the fact he threw in a few curve balls, and perhaps because he’s a consummate audio editor, I came out sounding vaguely like I know one or two things. Next time though I will wear my headset so I can bob about without hampering the audio quality at my end.


Last week was the first week of Literary Mix Tapes’ BOOT CAMP, embarking (for me) into the big black unknown of script writing, with nine other mates. I’m not a visual person… my stories are generally auditory or emotive, so it’s been a challenge to try and conceptualise and then articulate, what I want someone else’s story to look like on the screen. Just ask any of our cover artists who has worked with me, how much I struggle to tell someone what I want visually.

The story I am adapting is Lily Mulholland’s “Grey, Like Stone” and she’s been awesome in helping me wrap my head around the main characters and his motivations. Tonight I hung out on Google Earth and got a feel for the area the story is set in. This included a very unsettling moment of virtually walking Apollo Road… the same road Sean walks in the story/script.


This month Paul dragged us through the last of the truly difficult wringers to talk about what obstacles we face and overcome to write. I talk about my issues with trust and how I’m facing up to them (jeez, I have to say, this year seems to be a fast track of self improvement as a writer and no lingering on the sidelines watching a literary life pass me by). I also wrote about The Rabbit Hole (and that got me thinking… perhaps Write Anything could have a Rabbit Hole one day).


Speaking of The Rabbit Hole, I got just over 20,000 words for the weekend. I was pleased, though I wanted another two hours to wrap up my novella ELYORA. Had I had several more hours where I churned out over 1700 words earlier on in the weekend, I would easily have completed the novella and perhaps nipped at the heels of 30,000 words.

I had planned to write the first five chapters of my novel BYRTHED, but Saturday proved to be harder than I thought it might be. Two weeks of hammering massive deadlines, late nights and the inevitable come down from the adrenalin high of Friday night, made Saturday morning struggle street amplified to the power of 100. Mid-afternoon I pulled up ELYORA (a short story I started in August last year, that I knew was never going to be content being short) after Peter told us there was a publishing opportunity for those of us writing shorts or novellas during The Rabbit Hole.

So I have a potential home for ELYORA, currently sitting at 19,000 words and several thousand words from THE END. I love the way the story has come together, and all the things I’ve learned about it as I’ve gone along (like waiting until Saturday night, almost ten months after I started writing to know what the underlying premise of the township). I can’t wait to dive into the second draft and pull all those threads together, refine the story line and hopefully deliver on kick-arse novella on the 27th July.

I have to say a big thank you to my beta readers who have agreed to take on the 20,000 beta reading challenge… Chris, Dan and Laura, with Stacey there on the sidelines for extra support.

…So that’s what I’ve been up to, and between ELYORA and BOOT CAMP, I’ll have plenty to keep me out of trouble for the next fortnight or so before we leave for our annual holiday in the mountains (ironically where I dreamed the original storyline for ELYORA!) To say I can’t wait, is really underplaying it.

What have you been up to since you were last here?

When Does the Stupid Crazy Busy End?

Last weekend was my first weekend off in two weeks, so you could say I was well and truly ready for a long one. On top of working 13 days straight, I’d been putting in between 10 and 14 hours a day getting Deck the Halls, Best of Friday Flash 2 and Tiny Dancer ready to send to the printer and doing the Rabbit Hole.

As I lay in bed Monday, enjoying a day of peace and respite it occurred to me: when does the stupid crazy busy end?

Every week I’ve said this will be the last one. And then there is another one. If I’m honest each week could be stupid, crazy busy if I wanted it to be. There’s always something and I have a penchant for busyness.

But that’s not what I want.

I’m yearning for the quiet of writing and the pleasure and pain of simply losing myself to the page. Of not stressing about deadlines bearing down on me, or wrangling 60+ writers to make the deadline. Don’t get me wrong, the writers I work with are amazing, but it’s a lot of administration and paperwork, and it’s extra work I’d prefer to skip at the end of a project.

So when does the stupid crazy busy end?

Yesterday I said THIS is where, because at some point I have to establish new boundaries… and well yesterday was my line in the sand.

From now on, the morning is given over to writing.

At 1pm I’ll flip hats and get back to what I need to do: work to complete until all my current projects are finished or what I need to learn to further the reach of what eP when the projects are done and dusted.

Yesterday I spent the morning catching up on non-fiction writing and I went to bed rather than stay up and force my way to the end of a deadline. As it turned out, it was the sensible thing to do because several pieces of information I was waiting on, arrived while I slept.

Deck the Halls is almost done; my millstone will be released sooner rather than later now. The other projects are in varying stages of finalisation and will fit with this shift of focus. The energy required on my novel has ramped up and I start scriptwriting bootcamp today. Transition has begun.

It’s scary and it’s exciting and I’m glad I’m easing out, rather than rushing in.

How to Prepare for The Rabbit Hole

Be so ridiculously into the idea…  you ring to secure your place so early on the day places open, the person you need to speak to isn’t even there yet and you have to ring back at a more sensible hour… and your name goes on the list.

Mark it as a hard deadline… write it on your calendar (every calendar!), let people know you’re busy that weekend and finish projects that might hamper your ability to concentrate for 30 hours.

Read up on how the Rabbit Hole works… and tips to get through it.

Consider what you’re going to write…  then make a list if you need to. My list (penned this morning!) looks a little something like this and contains 42,000 potential words.

  1. The five opening chapters of my novel (10,000 = 10 hours (or one day in at QWC) These I have a rough sketch of in my head. I’m not discounting one of my novel threads might find insatiable traction and I’ll be lost in the medicratic city-state of Rosslin for longer than I thought I would.
  2. My June article for Write Anything, embarrassingly, outstanding. (1,000 = 1 hour) and perhaps next month’s articles to finally get myself ahead (2,000=2 hours)
  3. An unfinished horror short story “Elyora” that is beginning perhaps to be a novella (5,000 = 5 hours)
  4. A series of blog articles on beta reading (5,000=5 hours)
  5. The Shades of Indigo stories – one mystical one set in a lighthouse, a cow punk started as my Tiny Dancer story and a second jettisoned Tiny Dancer story about a possessed gun (6,000-6 hours)
  6. Several unfinished short stories – “Light Years” and “Don’t Forget Me” (9,000=9 hours)
  7. My actual Tiny Dancer story – I’ll just keep bloody writing until I find the best place to start and finish the story. (1500 – 1.5 hours)
  8. Then… well there are several guest articles I’ve promised around the webz. (min 3,000=3 hours)

Make a survival list… mine has on it food, music, caffeine, transportation and clothing (starts to feel like school camp).

Expand those lists out… and then tick them off. As I bash this out I have:

  1. cooked pasta bake and a collection of samosas, bought three blocks of chocolate
  2. decided I’ll take my tiny little tea pot along and organised tea to go with it
  3.  bought new music, uploaded it and updated my iPod
  4. bought a new warm jumper, ensured my hoodie is clean and found my fingerless gloves
  5. checked the weather forecast, organised cash for my GoCard and worked out which days I’ll drive and which I’ll bus it.
  6. organised additinal cash in the event there are beers post writing.

This possibly makes me the most organised I have EVER been (well, since the days when my Mum organised everything and packed me off to school camp).

Get hooked in… find the social media hotspots and join, establish the twitterhashtag, write a blog post and assemble a virtual cheer squad

Bank sleep, because you need a clear head for a mad weekend… or in my case spend the week madly finishing huge projects, stay up late and lose sleep and then the night before have a succession of mad dreams because you’re too excited to sleep properly and hope you’ve woken up enough by the starters gun.

Prepare your equipment… organise and/or collect your files, diary, memory sticks, phone, ipods, earphones, pens, pencils, notebooks, lists and anything else you might need.

Secure the biggest water bottle known to mankind… and then remember to bring it with you (nothing short circuits the brain faster than dehydration – especially when you’re hammering the caffeine)

Find every other possible incarnation or mention of The Rabbit Hole… in case you’re short on talking material among strangers, or someone you know mistakens your 30 hours endeavour for something else. Just so you know, the list of Rabbit Hole references includes:

  • a movie and a play
  • a theatre ensemble in New York City
  • a baker in Brooklyn
  • an organic tea bar in Australia
  • a porn platform
  • a song by the Temper Trap
  • a slang expression for having a trip
  • a reference to depression
  • something to do with finding a new world in an alternate reality game, and of course,
  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (and Trevor Browns’ very naughty paintings of Alice for adults!)

Kiss good-bye your loved ones… take a big deep breath, close the door, disconnect from the internet and prepare to jump.

And if you’re staying home and joining the virtual team, you may need to make contingencies for actually clearing your home of unwanted distractions and preparing a space to work at.