Saturday, March 29, 2008

What Time D'You Call This?

That Earth Hour thing seems like a good idea, huh? I had no problem killing all the lights in the house from 8pm this evening.

Thing is, my kids did, being scared of the dark and still awake at eight ...

How about nine o'clock next year then, eh?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Train Tracking

My son doesn't get back to school until tomorrow (I know - starts back on Friday, then it's the weekend ...), so I've been having a work-lite day today. That meant dipping into Casino Royale (thanks to Simon for blogging about Bond and so reminding me that the original Fleming novels have been on my to-read list for almost two years ...) and pottering around on the Internet, odd-jobbing.

One of the things I had to do online was check out the Australian Horror Writers Association in the wake of some chats I'd had at Swancon. And while I was on their website I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was there a good buzz about the In Bad Dreams anthology overall, but also that This Train Terminates Here was named amongst the 'worthy finalists' that didn't quite make the shortlist for the 2007 Australian Shadows awards.

It's always nice to have someone say good things about your work, but more so in this case because of the cool reception some reviewers gave the very same story. Which, as I believe I've said before, just goes to show ...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Con Men

Just back from Swancon, the Western Australian sci-fi and fantasy convention, which has been running in the city since last Thursday. What with one thing and another I only got along for Sunday and today, but it's been none the less interesting for my not attending the earlier sessions.

Having missed out on chatting to acclaimed writer Rob Shearman at the London launch of his book earlier this year, I was pleased to hear from the ever-helpful Jonathan that Rob would be the guest-of-honour at the convention here in Perth. Rob and I have a mutual friend in Melbourne-based scribe Ian Mond, so a meeting was set up and I'm extremely pleased to say it all went very well indeed. Rob is a strong contender for the title of Nicest Man Alive and unfeasibly talented to boot. His book of short stories, Tiny Deaths, sold out at the convention (it's unavailable elsewhere in Australia) and while I've only dipped into it so far, already I can't recommend it highly enough. And as well as being an absolute pleasure to hang out with, Rob was also very helpful and encouraging to Mondy and I about progressing with our writing in a rather different direction. More on that in coming weeks when I've got my ideas together.

Highlights - and lowlights - of the convention itself also centered on Rob and a couple of events in which both he and Mondy were involved. Rob's live commentary over his Doctor Who episode Dalek (moderated by Mondy) was a great success, touching on earlier drafts of the script and some entertaining anecdotes about behind-the-scenes naughtiness. Less amusing - but equally memorable - was a panel on which Rob and Mondy sat, about working for publishing company Big Finish.

Both writers were ideally qualified to talk on the subject - Rob's responsible for some of the company's most critically lauded releases, while Mondy's short story output across their various ranges is in double figures. So it was irritating - and disrespectful - of a writer with a single short story under his belt to talk over the top of both of them, interrupting and putting himself forward at every turn as an expert on the subject.

I have no doubt that much of this was down to the man's uncontainable joy at having a Doctor Who story published. Then again, if you were to believe this particular writer, working for BF is like pulling teeth, with multiple rewrites and drafts required before the work is acceptable. Those of us who read the writers' guidelines that invariably come with the invitation to pitch, however, know that more than half of those rewrites could have been avoided ...

All that aside, though, I think a good time was had by all. Tomorrow it's back home for the interstate and international guests. And for me it's back to work, re-enthused by what I've learned over the last 48 hours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


If you've chanced to glimpse me over the last couple of days, it will have looked like I've taken my hands right off the wheel, workwise.

Don't get me wrong, I've been busy. I've got lots of reading done (I'm loving Ten-Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler - why more people don't read him is an utter mystery - Mark Millar's Kick-Ass and the second volume of Ed Brubaker's Criminal), dug my office out from under three months of scrunched up drafts and newspapers, reconnected with the joys of The Shield (Season Five) and watched No Country for Old Men in a single, uninterrupted sitting. That's how good it is.

But it's not really writing, is it?

Well, yes and no. While all this other stuff's been going on at the front of my brain, a few story-related things have shaken loose at the back, notably something about bellboys, something about catering and something about x-rays. Hmmm.

Of course, I could just be trying to justify having a lazy couple of days. You'll just never know ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Plot Dentistry

Early deadlines for Easter mean that I'm now finished all my magazine work until after the long weekend - hooray! That's not to say I've nothing to do, however, with three other non-day job projects needing attention in the time that's been freed up.

The first is a spec piece I'd quite like to have knocked into shape by the end of the week. Perth's sci-fi and fantasy convention, Swancon, kicks off on Thursday and as a result there'll be a couple of people in town I'd like to discuss this one with - assuming it's ready. A flash of insight over the weekend has opened up the ending for me, but now I'm having a few structural problems with it. Tried to fix them today, but it's been like pulling teeth.

So tomorrow I'll step back from it and work on one of the other yarns instead - a short story about a man and a bag, or the Secret Project that Mark Deniz alluded to in the previous post's comments section. As far as that one goes, all I can say is that in the beginning there was a word ...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

They Can't All Be Winners

Editor-bod Mark dropped me a line last night to say Signature Walk didn't make the final cut for the anthology. He was nice enough to elaborate on the decision, however, saying that it only missed out by the narrowest of margins. That's always good to know - at least the piece was reasonably strong. The simple fact is that there were 13 submissions that were stronger.

Still, it's never wasted effort - at the end of the day I've got a decent story (one that I can strip for parts later if I need to. Heh heh heh). Plus it keeps the writing muscles limber for the next project, the deadline for which is actually galloping closer all the time I'm doing this.

So I'm stopping now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spinning Plates, Yarns

Well that was a long week ...

Work's been all about juggling. Unforeseen circumstances (a sick wife, then a sick me, a public holiday on Monday that I clean forgot was happening and then getting roped into an online civilisation-building game ...) left me working on about five different projects with several days fewer to work on them than I needed.

Aside from the regular round of day jobbery, I'm happy to say that the first draft of Signature Walk is done, has gone off to editors Mark and Sharyn, and is through to the second elimination round for submissions. Around 100 tales were culled in round one, with 26 stories are still in it, vying for 10 or 12 available slots. Should know by the end of the month.

Today saw the dispatch of a story I've been working on for one of the national mags, concerning a big wedding that happened over here last month. Assuming no rewrites are needed, that's another thing off the list, freeing me to work on other things ... like an idea for a short story I had after waking up at three in the morning for no good reason. It involves a car and an confidence trick, and that's all you're getting until I've thought it through a little more.

Meanwhile - and this is in no way competing with the far better sighting made by the good Mr Pan the other day - a strange appearance next to the Great Eastern Highway has garnered some interest in the local paper:

Seems the owner's available for weddings, birthdays and fetes. If he's got time.