Pies, Rolls, Radio, Impending Farewells and Sparkles

All good intentions to hang out in Borders went out the window! I purposely chose to ditch “work” today so I could write in there and then ended up in the library. I wanted to break the day between the two – because a day of sitting in Borders at the table a bit too long for my personal ergonomics. I got so sucked into my story that before I realised, it was 1:30am and I was in the groove. Didn’t want to disrupt the pace.

I wanted to write in Borders today because they close on the weekend. It’s been beyond sad watching the demise of the shop over the last two months and worse, watching people who would never normally shop there, picking over the store like vultures. I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy anything from their. Mr D bought a DVD and I felt guilty enough about that.

It’s not just sad because we’re losing an awesome bookstores (I remember it opening just a few years ago) but the Gloria Jean’s coffee shop, and by default my ‘other office’. I’ve been sitting in that little corner for more than two years putting words on paper. It was where I wrote the majority of my (still unnamed and unfinished) Fourth Fiction novella (yes Chris Chartrand, if you are reading, I will have it finished before the end of this year… I miss it). I’ve written so many things there, including the foreword of The Red Book.

I’m not sure where I will set up home next. I need somewhere outside my house, with little or no distraction AND access to tea, to write effectively. As I fall in love with writing again, and maintain the momentum I have created, perhaps writing at home will be less of an issue. More on the ‘do-able spectrum’.

My optimistic nature kicks in and tells me one door closing is really just the sound of another one opening.

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I started off in the library today for the sake of my back. Between stress and the cold, it’s a mess. I plugged $4 into one of the massage chairs today just to get a little relief – which I did, and a huge dose of drowsiness. It was enough to get me through the day.

I can’t wait for Rachael to be able to come over and give me a massage. They might just have to be regular this winter if I’m going to be able to function without on going pain.

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Walking into school today my friend Amanda and I were chatting about what we’d been up to. Before I even got a chance to say I’d be writing, she turned to me and said, “You’ve been writing, haven’t you.” I nodded. “I can tell,” she said. “I sparkle,” was my reply and she nodded. “Yes you sparkle when you write.”

I’d only been thinking, driving across from the library to school how I feel totally different when I’ve been writing. When I move beyond the trippy disorientation of coming straight out of a story, I honestly feel like I’m walking on the sunshine. I still can’t believe I actually said to another adult, I sparkle!

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Yesterday Amy, from 4ZZZ’s Book Shop emailed to confirm at spot for me on their show Thursday, 9th June at 7:40om. The good news for those who don’t live in the Brisbane area – they have web streaming. You will be able to tune in wherever in the world you are and hear me, hopefully not make a goose of myself, live on air.

We tuned in and listened to Josh Donellan several weeks ago and when Mr D heard I was going to be on radio, I think he was far more excited about it that I was.

June 9th is also the anniversary of me going into labour with Mr D (he was born 12:40am the following morning) and it’s therefore a fitting date somehow. I feel like I am birthing a new version of me, not a newer and better version, perhaps just a more mature, wiser one.

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All I’m going to say about the frontal assault began on the list of ISBNs yesterday is HOLY HELL! I had no idea there was so much work involved. I’m going to have to chip away at them one listing at a time. Another example of expectations being to small to fit the reality of the job.

The terrible mash up between The Red Book and Nothing But Flowers has been fixed… as has attribution to “Poul Anderson”. I can’t believe Paul would misspell is own name – not once but in several places. The data base has been having a bit of fun, I think.

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I’m so on a roll with writing at the moment. It has been so long since I have felt this good and been so productive. My Eighty-Nine anthology (#LMT89) story is coming together beautifully. It’s a little harder work than I thought it would be as it’s told backwards, and as a consequence I’m moving between section tweaking as things come to light further on. I don’t have a name for it yet… though cocaine is central to the story so maybe I can get away with a JJ Cale tribute in there as well!

And much to my relief, while it is riffing from some events in my life, they’re detoured far enough away now for me to consider the characters as their own persons. I realise now Rebecca Booker, the main character (and narrator) doesn’t have any kids… so what has happened to Toby makes it all the more damaging for her. She’s really had nothing to lose, except a new boyfriend.

I pitched the story to Scott (one of the Dad’s at school today) and had him clapping his hands, and bopping up and down… so I’m guessing I’ve got the narrative (to date) nailed if I can entertain and partially stun him. Plan is to get it finished up tonight and off to beta readers for the weekend.

The story currently stands at a little over 1100 words and I think is on track to nail the 1575 upper word limit.

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Dave printed off my contracts for Karen and the Hope Anthology yesterday at work. Will fill those out later and get them in the post. Then I will be done!

I had an embarrassing moment of clicking the wrong David in my address and David Robinson got an email which began, “Hi Darling” – with my blank contracts attached. Ooops! I can’t even blame it on being drunk.

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Last night it was a gastronaut’s delight in our house. I cooked from scratch a chicken pie – the pastry was perfect, and then my first ever fruit cobbler. The apple and raspberry were perfect and I woofed it down watching Spicks and Specks. It’s like totally losing two and a half hour to the kitchen , but with the cooler weather I’m enjoying being in there. And the lack of nasty deadlines makes it possible to relish food creation rather than despise it. Better get in while the goings good, as it will all change next week.

Ponies, Admin Aversion, Dark Erotica & Kicking Bad Habits

My friend Tom Dullemond, one half of the fabulous Literarium directed my attention to the story Ponies by Kij Johsnson on the Tor.com site last night and asked me what I thought of it. In short – it is one of the most powerful stories I have read in a long time, as well as the most settling and thought-provoking. I’ll be talking about this story for weeks, if not months to come. Only after we’d had a back and forth for a few minutes about it over twitter, did he tell me it was the joint winner of the 2011 Nebula Prize for the short story.

The upshot of it was Tom didn’t think much of it was a story. Which got me thinking – was there an inherent gender bias in the reactions to the story. Yes, it’s about girls and their ponies… but it is about so much more than that. Just scratch a little under the surface. I feel it is an important read for anyone who is a daughter or has a daughter.

It is interesting to note also, in livestock handling there is a term called ‘Cutting Out’ which refers to a stockman and his horse targeting an animal and ‘cutting it out’ of the herd. You’ll see aspiring rodeo heroes doing it across the world. Knowing this, it gives a whole new level of meaning to the story.

But don’t take my word for it… go across and read. I’d love to know what you think.

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Today is admin day. See if I don’t dedicate some time to it, I just won’t do it. While I’m saving the fun of doing the front cover of The Red Book for later, I have a list of ISBN’s to register with BowkerLink. This was a job Paul used to have, but it made better sense for me, given I’m in the same time zone. Plus, it was a pain in the arse, the easy submission system never worked for him and it must have taken him all of half a second to agree to hand the job over to me.

When we bought our first block of ten ISBNs back at the end of December 2009, we both looked at the list of numbers and wondered how the hell we would ever fill them. Well we filled them within a year and having bought the next block of numbers, we’ve already allocated ALL of them. Amazing.

Later on, once I’ve done battle with BowkerLink its time to pen some new bios. I’m not sure yet how I feel about admitting in such a public way that I am the recipient of ‘The Hembury’, or even how you actually wind that into a bio. I write fiction right – it should be a sinch. Ha!

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When Dan Powell asked me to be part of his My Life in Short Fiction I was more than willing to be part of it. I found it a useful process, to think about the short stories which might have influenced me. I realised there is a close link between what I write and what I read, and how that pattern was strongly shaped by the writing and reading I did at high school.

We were only ever encouraged to write short stories. I have a folder full of them. But we were never exposed to short stories to read. I read a totally of ONE, yes read, ONE, fictional short story through my English years. This hangover remains… I write short fiction and my bed side table is full of novels.

This is something I am working to address. As May is Short Story Month – I committed to only read is short fiction for a month and I’ve been surprised at how much I’m enjoying it. I’ve read Cate Kennedy’s Dark Roots, #50 Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and I’ve almost finished Dead Red Heart. From now on there will be more anthologies on my bed side table. Which just goes to show, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

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My re-writes on “Saw Him Standing There” the story I penned for Susan May James Sunday Snaps: The Shorts are complete and the story is submitted (yes almost two weeks ahead of the deadline!)

The story is inspired by another short story I wrote, based in a churchyard. The thing I’m most happy with (and my beta readers too) was the mastery of the imagery. Anyone who knows me, knows descriptive narrative is my Achilles. I write as little of it as possible. I find descriptive narrative totally boring in novels and short stories alike (yes, I will actually skip ahead if there are paragraphs of it). It has to be unique or beautifully written to hold my attention. It’s been beta reading for Jason Coggins which has really given me the shove to take my descriptive narrative more seriously and try to excel at it, rather than simply avoid it.

I’m thinking this time around the descriptions works so well because worked from a photograph– something I could actually see (given I don’t see things, only hear voices when I write my work). It was the clear leadlighted windows in the church which appealed to me most and I actually blew the photo up to look intimately at the detail in the window and then paced around the bedroom trying to work out the best way to describe them.

Jen Brubacher who worked on the piece as a line editor said in her email:

“It’s dark as you say, but it isn’t unbalanced. Your description is terrific, from the church yard to the sex and even the women by the mirror (familiar sight for most of us I guess). The pace and length are right on and I love the way you circle around “what goes around come around,” and the idea that it’s deathly serious.”

The best bit about it all… this story was a joy to write and after months of writing being a hard slog, it’s given my confidence a well timed injection. I didn’t think the redemption of my writing confidence would be in a dark, erotic tale! You’ll have to wait a few months, to read it though. The slated release date is 19th September – which will pair the photos and stories. A text only paperback and eBook will be available in October.

Thanks to Jason Coggins, Chris Chartrand and Jen Brubacher for being the best darn pit crew any writer could ever wish for.