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Map of the Lane

Caesura is a flash fiction story I wrote for the Lane of Unusual Traders, a project by Tiny Owl Workshop. It is live and free to read today. The first two stories can also be found on the LoUT website (and I’ll link them here as they progressively “open”).

Check out:

Sugarman by Steve Toase

Irrealty and Ferns by Robert G. Cook

Caesura by me

Check back for more stories!

So uni is kicking my butt. I haven’t written anything fictiony or poety in a while. I had enrolled in 4 subjects but just today made the decision to drop one so I can give them all my full attention.

This link caught my attention the other day though. AustLit aims to be the definitive virtual research environment and information resource for Australian literary, print, and narrative culture. From the link:

‘Diversity and Australian Speculative Fiction’ participates in an ongoing debate about the visibility of diversity in science-fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as continuing AustLit’s own interest in representing the richness of Australia’s multicultural cultural heritage. In this post, we highlight speculative-fiction writers from backgrounds other than Anglo-Celtic or northern European.

Diversity and Aust. Speculative Fiction Part One

Go forth and find good spec fic to read, people!

 

The Aurealis Awards shortlist was announced yesterday and I was thrilled to see so many friends make the final list. Particular nods to Jason Fischer, Angela Slatter, Kirstyn McDermott, Alan Baxter, Thoraiya Dyer, Liz Grzyb, Kathleen Jennings, Jason Franks, and Tehani Wessely.

Phantazein is shortlisted for best anthology, which is pretty damn cool. You should go buy it and read it. I’m not at all biased ;).

Look at that pretty cover.

Phantazein cover art

So… I finished it!

Photo by Mariusz Kluzniak on Flickr

Photo by Mariusz Kluzniak on Flickr

“The Forgotten Children of Zurat” is now a complete manuscript. All 19300ish words. I need to do a read-through without adding sections to see how it flows… but I think it’s good.

I took a week from Facebook to get it done. I now feel a little lost… Zurat has commanded my attention for a while now, and I miss the creative surge of the first draft. Of navigating the threads of the narrative as it unspools, and weaving it into a coherent whole.

Hardcore edits coming up… but there is something pretty special in printing off a story you wrote from beginning to end, with all the bits in the middle complete. This is the longest story I’ve managed to actually finish… my precious novella-baby!

manuscript

Ghost town…

London, 1970, by Terence Spencer… one of the photos I use as inspiration

I’ve been a bit quiet here, I know. I don’t really have much to update. There are a few publications in the pipeline for this year but they’re a little while away.

I’ve been busy working on The Forgotten Children of Zurat. It’s around 16500 words at the moment. First draft is almost done except for a few blank spots, so I’ve started on the second draft rewrites with the aim of filling in those gaps as I go.

One thing I’ve noticed with Zurat is that I jumped around a lot. I didn’t write a story from start to finish. I let my imagination drift and take me further ahead or jump right back. Whenever I got stuck I’d find some juicy bit I knew was coming up and let the words pour out. There are a few continuity issues because of it but actually not as many as I was expecting.

This is also the reason for the blank spots, of course! But I think if I’d tried to write the story chronologically I would have gotten bored, and lost some of the spark that came from the intensely fevered writing sessions where I tried to get everything that was in my head out before I lost it.

I’ve done a little bit of Zurat art but I’m not really happy enough with it to share. Sometimes I let my perfectionist side have final say ;).

Here’s a tiny snippet from my novella baby…

Her mood buoyed by the prospect of action, Jette forged up the hill, even as the rain started to fall again in earnest. Ilse trudged up the slope, her head down. The windows had eyes, and they watched her pass.

A door opened to their right. An old woman pulled a hood down over her head as she shuffled out into the rain. Two small boys slipped out of the house behind her and ran up the street. One carried a sack, the other a stack of wood. The old woman didn’t react to their passage.

There are no children in Zurat. Only ghosts.

If I was to conjure a mental image of my writing process last year, it would be a monkey flinging poo as fast as possible.

Ok, so maybe the stories I was sending out weren’t poo, but some of them were polished turds. My approach was, simply, write as much as possible and submit submit submit. Every time I got a rejection I was to resubmit it (sometimes with tweaking). According to Duotrope, I sent out 119 submissions in the past 12 months (46 fiction and 73 poetry). 14% of my fiction submissions were accepted, and only 4.3% of my poetry subs were accepted (I tend to simultaneously submit poems where I can, so the stats are always going to look terrible). Still, that’s a lot of poo being flung. And while that approach possibly served me in 2014, I need to write and submit more efficiently in 2015.

With that in mind I have the following creative goals for 2015:

  • Finish “The Forgotten Children of Zurat”, edit and submit (novella length);
  • Edit at least two of the short stories I started last year that I think have a lot of promise, and submit;
  • Finish and submit the two collaborative short stories I’m involved in;
  • Attend GenreCon in October;
  • Submit an Expression of Interest for the QLD Poetry Festival;
  • Attend QPF and BWF;
  • Ensure Furious Writer Drinks remains a “thing”;
  • Do more beta reads / critiques;
  • Daily journalling;
  • Learn how to create linocut art;
  • Explore the idea of an art exhibition.

I also have some non-creative goals:

  • Do that pesky obstacle course race;
  • Increase my unbroken run distance to 8km;
  • Camping with all the children;
  • Nurturing new and existing connections.

2015 is going to be a busy year, but I feel up for the challenge. University will take up my time, it will add to my stress levels—but I think it will be positive stress. Change creates stress, but there is stress that drains, and stress that builds. Uni is a first step in what is hopefully a positive change in my life.

To think otherwise is UNACCEPTABLE!

I approached 2014 with caution, after the previous two years. I may be a fool, but I do feel hopeful that 2015 may bring a new energy. This year will be about focus and dedication. and maybe some fun, too!

 

Covers galore!

Covers galore!

2014 was a year of extremes, for me. I said it was likely to be a year of shifts, and I was right. While not “bad” like 2013, it was intense and full of ups and downs. It was, however, an amazing year for my writing.

I had a bunch of goals for 2014 and I met all but one.

  • Write regularly, submit regularly.
  • Attend Continuum in Melbourne.
  • Participate in an obstacle course race.
  • Run 5kms unbroken.
  • Go camping.
  • Do more poetry readings (including Speedpoets as a regular thing).

Kicking goals

Continuum was amazeballs. I was a bit sick so my energy was lacking, but I still had a fantastic time. I spoke on panels, attended other panels, listened to some fascinating people, met new people, hung out with people I don’t see enough normally, drank coffee, went on missions to find decent food (Melbourne CBD on a long weekend is a bit of a food desert), drank some alcohol, bought books, went to book launches… and learned stuff!

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The “pupparazzi” at the entranceway to Continuum hotel.

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Goth Doll for the Maskobalo at Continuum

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Helen Stubbs and I post Maskobalo

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Jodi Cleghorn and I just after I first arrived at the Con… first Con drink!

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Ben Payne and I with coffee, not alcohol

I learned to run. I’ve never been a sporty person. I used to wag PE at school (it was pretty much the only bit of rebellion I did at school–and we would go hang out in the music block and play music instead haha!) But with a bit of inspiration from friends and a lot of encouragement I figured I’d give it a try. It’s been a long slow hard slog, I’ve been sick so many times this year and that set me back a bit, but in November I finally ran 5km without stopping. It was slow but I don’t care!

I did my first poetry reading in January at Tom Dullemond’s “At the End” poetry reading night that was held at The End in West End (too many ends!). I missed the first couple of months of SpeedPoets, and the last couple, but attended and read a lot of poetry.

At The End, with Jodi and Helen

At The End, with Jodi and Helen

I wrote a lot, and submitted a lot. I did have some fallow writing and subbing periods but I’m not beating myself up over them as they were pretty much out of my control. It was a very productive year. The camping trip was marred by rain and difficulties, but we did it. The obstacle course race was the only thing I didn’t do, and well… that was just bad planning.

horrorselfie2

Horror selfies for Halloween

I did more art! I arted quite a lot. Rekindling my love of visual art has been an enormous positive to come out of the year. While there was a lot of awesome in 2014, it was also very very very stressful. I had one severe depressive episode and at least two more moderate episodes. My dodgy health also made life harder.

I cracked some of the markets I had in my sights. I was published by Fablecroft, and I’m due to be published by a few pretty damn awesome markets next year.

phantazeinselfie

Me with my contributor copy of Phantazein

Writing

So, to the list of stuff what happened in 2014 (writing style):

  • The following stories were published: “Diary of a Tree-Sitter” and “Proximity” by Tincture Journal; “Paradise Drowned” in Undertow; “Chasing the Storm” in SQ Mag; “Perfect Soldiers” in Equilibrium Overturned; “Banned Girl” in Fictionvale; “Shades of Memory” in Suspended in Dusk; “Kneaded” in Phantazein; “I Have Never Seen the Sky So Blue” in Vine Leaves Literary Journal (technically a vignette); “Labyrinth Hope” in Inaccurate Realities.
  • I also had a few poems published: “Fracture” by InDaily; “Whisper” and “Abyss” in Deep Water Literary Journal; and “Heat, Flies, and Cane Toads” in Tincture Journal.
  • I did my first poetry reading in January at The End.
  • I attended and read at SpeedPoets regularly.

August SpeedPoets – photo by JdUb

  • I resigned as Membership Officer of the AHWA.
  • I went to the Brisbane Writers Festival.
  • I went to Continuum in Melbourne which was SO MUCH FUN and I met some fabulous new people.
  • Furious Writer Drinks became a thing.
drinks2

July Furious Writer Drinks

  • “Poppies” was included in Ticonderoga’s Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013.
  • I got another Best New Talent nomination for the Ditmar Awards.
  • I was invited to do a reading at QWC’s salon event, Whispers.
whisperscrew

My Whispers support crew

  • I was interviewed by Sean Wright for Galactic Chat.
  • I sold a flash fiction piece to Tiny Owl Workshop so get to be part of the Lane of Unusual Traders.
  • I sold a sci fi story called “Going Home Sideways” to Dimension6.
  • I sold a poem to a pro SFF market (I’m superstitious so not naming this one out loud until I have contract!)
  • Some great reviews of my stories (particularly “Kneaded”)
  • I discovered a story I’m utterly in love with and plan to make into a novella, if not a novel. I even joined Pinterest because of it!

Life

  • I enrolled in a Masters of Information Science (Library and Information Practice) to begin in 2015.
  • My youngest child turned 3, and is now “in the system”. He’s had physio, speech therapy and occupational therapy and is on the waiting list to see a developmental paediatrician.
  • My middle child turned 7. She won first prize in the Brookfield Art Show in her grade division, and we spent the last term of school together while I homeschooled her. She was motivated and made a LOT of things and did a LOT of art! It was fantastic to share my love of art with her.
  • My eldest child turned 10 and we waded into some big tricky parenting issues. She became obsessed with Warrior Cats and continued to rock at most things.
  • I discovered a lot of things about myself, some surprised me, some explained a lot.
drinks1

Rob Cook, me and Aimée Lindorff at October Furious Writer Drinks

People

There have been a lot of people important to me this year. More I think than any year previously. My little writing community is full of generous, warm, astounding people, and I am blessed to know them and have them in my life. I started to list them and then realised it was too complicated to list everyone who has made a difference in my life this year… I hope you all know who you are (and if you’re a Brisbane writer or someone I talk to on facebook chances are good I’m talking about you ;)). Also my friends and family who endured me rabbiting on about writing and bought stuff I’m in, and read it… yay you all and thank you!

Me with my brood waiting for churros

Me with my brood waiting for churros

The 4 people who made the biggest impact on my life and my writing this year were Helen Stubbs, Jodi Cleghorn, Tom Dullemond, and Lloyd Barrett. Thanks you awesome people. No matter what 2015 brings, thanks for supporting, critiquing, collaborating, and listening to me whinge.

elfandminister

Me and Lloyd Barrett

Jodi Cleghorn, me, Tom Dullemond and Ben Payne

Jodi Cleghorn, me, Tom Dullemond and Ben Payne

furiesselfie

The Furies: Helen Stubbs, me and Jodi Cleghorn

Getting Personal

triumph

This is my favourite photo of myself from 2014. No make up, no alcohol, no awesome friends. Just me after having done a 6km beach run, barefoot, in under 40 minutes. I love it because it is the culmination of months of perseverance. Running doesn’t come easily to me. And some time in the last 3 years I broke, and I’ve been rebuilding myself ever since. I might look strong on the outside, but what seems strong from the outside can be brittle, if you test it. This photo shows my inner strength. It tells me that, even though my brain might at times be my abuser that isolates me from the support of my loved ones, and been my worst enemy that I’ve had to ignore to survive, I am getting there. It tells me that what might appear impossible, at first glance, may be achievable if you hold on and just keep swimming. This applies to running, to writing, and to living.

2014, you have been an amazing year for my writing. Next year won’t be quite as frantic but hopefully more focused. as I work on “The Forgotten Children of Zurat” while studying. And of course there’ll be Drinks and friends and GenreCon!

outside

2015, we’re looking at you.

 

 

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