Author Update #1

Happy Dark Moon. This is the first of what will hopefully be a semi-regular round up of my writing plus the writing and projects of those around me.

A MONTH OF POETRY

February was #postitenotepoetry month. I came out of the month with just under 40 poems—well ahead of the ‘dared’ 28. Unlike the “29 Days of Haiku” last year, I loved every minute of #postitnotepoetry. It became an unexpected and very welcomed outlet for a lot of difficult stuff I faced behind the scenes.

PODCAST

During the January heatwave, I sat down in my air-conditioned writing room to chat with Sean Wright for his Adventures of a Bookonaut podcast. I’ve done a few interviews (including on 4ZZZ) but this was the first time I’d been interviewed as a writer, and it was so much fun. The glowing feedback from Sean came at just the right time, as I sat poised on making the BIG decision to spend a year away from editing and publishing to write. It was also on Sean’s insistence that I sent ELYORA out into the big wide world.  Which brings me to…

ELYORA

My horror novella, published as part of Review of Australian Fiction’s Rabbit Hole special, is out in the wild. It has a brand new beginning, new title and hopefully a new home with the prospect of some financial return. Fingers crossed for good news in the next couple of weeks.

ONE SMALL STEP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DISCOVERIES

Fablecroft’s next anthology ONE SMALL STEP: an anthology of discoveries is now available for pre-order. The all female anthology will launch at NatCon/Conflux next month. Looking at the ToC, I still pinch myself…that “Firefly Epilogue” sits alongside stories of some of my favourite authors.

FIRST TO A HUNDRED

A story idea for a piece of flash fiction, spawned by Adam’s commentary on cricket and tennis over summer, grew in one afternoon to a 5000 word story (in one sitting – making it the one easy story afforded a year – in the second week of my creative year!). “First to a Hundred” will be my entry in the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. In a quirk of narrative, the story steps aside from weird spec-fic I’m used to penning and is instead a YA coming-of-age story set on a Victorian beach in the late 1980’s. It’s the story that made all the important men in my life cry!

BIRTHPUNK

I have started on my set of six interlocking birthpunk novellas. I’m currently working on “Sylvie”—the original story that inspired the entire concept of birthpunk. With so many debates going on around the world about women’s corporeal rights (ie. Rights to choose what happens to their bodies) it would appear this is the year to be writing about a world where women’s corporeal rights have been stripped away. Where the Government controls all aspects of fertility and reproduction.

It is hard going at the moment, getting my head around the world building, with some extra distractions going on behind the scenes. The enormity of what I’m attempting weighs heavily on my confidence, despite the small, but dedicated cheer squad who keep telling me it’s awesome and I can do it. I’m hoping to have the first novella completed in the next fortnight.

POST MARKED: PIPER’S REACH

Adam and I have reached the point where we’re acknowledging the end is nigh. But if you think either of us has any idea how it ends, you’d be wrong. It’s not going to be in the next couple of letters, it might be even longer than a few more after that, but it’s definitely on the horizon.

I might not know how it’s going to end, but I do know what I had in mind for the ending this time last year, has been somewhat gutted by the unravelling of events in the last 12 months. There has been discussion that it will end where it started…with a letter from Ella-Louise. We’ll see.

Adam and I are planning to gift print copies of the Christmas Special as a chapbook, accompanied with Jude’s mix tape from 1991. We’re compiling a list of fans and supporters. If you have been a lurker, now would be the time to out yourself.

AROUND THE TRAPS

Joanne Anderton’s debut short story collection, THE BONE CHIME SONG is available for pre-order through FableCroft. I can’t wait to see what is between the pages and looking forward to getting a signed copy at NatCon.

Jessica Bell released her novella The Book in last January and followed up with a short story The Hum of Sin Against Skin last week.

Chris Chartrand unveiled Worth A Thousand Words podcast last month. It is wonderful mash up of photo prompts, writing, podcasting and interviews. I’m currently gestating a story for submission. I’d love to hear something I wrote be narrated by Chris.

Maria Kelly’s story “Parker’s Pygmallion”, a twist on Shaw’s concept, won the Phi Theta Kappa Florida Regional award for Best Short Story—Fiction.

Nicole Murphy released the yearly anthology from In Fabula-divino mentoring project yesterday. It contains a bunch of truly awesome stories, including S.G. Larner’s “Regret” (definitely one of my favourite stories of Stacey’s!)

Emma Newman’s BETWEEN TWO THORNS, the first in the Split Words Trilogy was released by Angry Robot in late February and my copy arrived on Friday. You can purchase at the following locations: UK Edition – US Edition. Em was also the featured author at SFX magazine’s Issue 233 with a corker photo that had Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne nominated Em as the next Doctor!

Dan Powell was joint winner of the Carve Esoteric Prize (2013) for “Storm in a Tea Cup” and his short story collection “Looking Out Of Broken Windows” is short listed for the International Scott Prize for Short Stories. You can read an interview with Dan here on the Salt Publishing website about the collection.

Sean Wright sat on the other side of the interviewing desk with Emma Raven of E-book Revolution talking about a bunch of things from attending local writing events to the best use of Twitter and and Goodreads.

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.

– – –

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!

– – –

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!

– – –

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.