Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fevered Pitch

It's been touch and go, but I've finally finished the submission I've been working on for the chaps at Morrigan, squeaking it in on the very day the deadline closes. Got to say it looked grim there for a while. Freed up by the return of the kids to school, my window of opportunity almost slammed closed when I went down with an amusing little virus that brought with it high fevers and associated delerious rambling. It might be argued that such overheated rantings could only help my writing, but since I've forgotten everything I said at the time that'll be another golden chance wasted.

Fortunately I've been clear-headed enough over the last day or two to not only finish the story but also to avert a complete disaster with the ending. The one I'd hoped to use had seemed like a good idea when I mentioned it to Editor Mark, but once the whole story was written ... well it was like plate armour at a bikini party - clunky and utterly out of place. But it's all fixed now, and the draft's away. Should find out if it made the cut in the next week or so.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Storey Books

You may have caught wind here on the blog of a 'Secret Project' being hatched by Mark Deniz over at his new - but rapidly expanding - publishing house Morrigan Books. Well, yesterday Mr Deniz whipped the covers off his grand scheme and now we can all talk about it. Hooray!

It's called Scenes from the Second Storey, and it involves writers penning short stories inspired by tracks on an album by one of Mark's favourite bands, The God Machine. That's 13 tracks, 13 writers.

There are a few interesting differences about this project, compared with the usual kind of thing I work on. Firstly, the book will be available in two editions - one featuring Australian writers only, the other an assembly of international talent. Theoretically I straddle both categories, but I'm down for the International book, not being a natural born 'Strayan. You can click on the link above to see the full line-ups, some 26 scribes in all.

Secondly Mark's commissioned me on the strength of my previous stories ... without my writing a single word by way of a pitch for this one. That's only ever happened once before (for the Old Friends novellas) and is something of a double-edged sword. On the up side, it's good to be contracted without having to go through the usual pitching rigmarole. But at the same time there's a lot of pressure to justify the undoubted faith shown by the editor for something he's buying, effectively, sight unseen ...

The story also stands out in one other regard. While the other writers get to interpret the lyrics from their songs while they're plotting their yarns, the track I've been selected to write for is an instrumental ... so no help there, then. All I've got is the tune and the one word title:


Lucky I've got a good idea then.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Getting Promoted

Saw this on the Doctor Who discussion group Jade Pagoda yesterday, and couldn't help laughing:

"Transmissions" authors include Graeme Burk (of BBC and BF Short Trips fame), (our own) Ian Mond, Andy Lane (woo!), Mags L Halliday (woo!), Lou Anders, Richard Wright, James Milton, Dan Abnett (2000AD), Pete Kempshall (who's done some good fanzine work), Dale Smith (woo!), George Mann (the Time Hunter guy?), Kelly Hale (double woo!), Mark Stevens, Steve Lyons (woo!), Dave Hoskin, James Moran ("The Fires of Pompeii") and, of course, Richard Salter.

Which tells me that I really need to promote myself a little better (that or the chap who wrote the list doesn't like anything I've written since).

Still, at least someone's been reading those old fanzines - there's some very good stuff in those issues of Myth Makers, not least by Dale Smith. Who's also in Transmissions. With me.

See: bit of self-promotion, right there. Easy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Whoosing Sound They Make

Spent the weekend in Gracetown, a small beach resort about three hours south of Perth. Mired in school holidays as we are, we chipped in with some friends to rent a place down there for a few nights, the idea being that all the kids could play with each other down the beach while I got stuck into the various stories I have to work on. The house even came with a little office that looked out over the coast:

No internet, no mobile phone reception, no kids, nice view - the perfect writing environment. Except ...

Yes, flying in the face of the loooong periods of sunshine and near-drought conditions in Western Australia recently, the skies opened on the trip down and kept on dumping water for most of the weekend. Which meant no beach for the kids. Which meant no peace in the house.

On a good writing day, I can clear about 2000 words of useable prose, so this trip was my chance to complete a 5000 word short story for which the deadline is rapidly approaching. Instead my total word count for the whole weekend: 556.

The upside is that those 556 words comprise the opening scene of the story, traditionally the part I find the hardest to get out of the way. Once that's done, it's usually plain sailing - and term starts back at school on Monday ... I might just make that deadline after all.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Begin Transmissions

Well, it's been a long time coming, but Big Finish have at last announced their upcoming Short Trips collection Transmissions. Which is nice, because I have a story in it and now I can talk about it here without being all cryptic.
The collection is available at the end of July, and the yarn in question is called simply Link. The book also features stories by new-series and Torchwood writer James Moran, fan favourites like Mags Halliday, Andy Lane and Dan Abnett, and of course fellow Australia-based scribes Ian Mond and Dave Hoskin. Honestly, how can you not buy it?
I should also give a shout-out to the editor, Richard Salter, who was not only good enough to ask me to pitch for this one, but who also gave me my start in the Myth Makers fiction collections a couple of years ago. That job led directly to bigger things, so yes, you can safely say that much of what I've written since is his fault ...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Multi-Coloured Chop Shop

Decided yesterday to take the weekend off from any kind of writing, and catch up on some reading and odd-jobs around the house instead.

DIY tasks invariably mean a trip to the hardware shop. This in turn affords me the opportunity to walk aisles of tools and building gear, chin-stroking and pretending I'm not the kind of hopelessly arty type who thinks a screwdriver only comes in a glass. So stocked up on equipment and re-convinced of my own manliness, it was off home to fix the bathroom tiles. Then came the major task of the weekend - sorting out my son's bike.

The little lad's of an age now where he wants to pedal around furiously chasing his sister. Being a writer, however (and therefore permamently broke), I've had to wait for the right time of year to roll around, when I could get him a bike gratis.

As I'd expected, finding one the right size and in perfect working order was no trouble at all - which was all well and good except that the freebie in question was pink.

So after lunch today I sat on the porch with a tool kit and stripped the whole thing down to just the frame. Every now and again, as I sanded the paint off, one of the kids would drift past and express pleasure that I was now lightly dusted a glittery girly colour, but the real coos of appreciation were saved for later ... when the spray paint came out.

The bike is now a boy-friendly jet black. What remains of the spray paint has been carefully concealed, to ensure our golden labrador remains golden.

My daughter, meanwhile, wins this weekend's prize for ego-stroking, with her question, 'Dad, why are you so handy?'. Extra chocolate for her later, once I've stopped laughing.

I think I'll wait until she's back at school before I attempt to reassemble the bike. I've a feeling my curses and violent fitting when the brakes fail and the wheels fall off may spoil her mental picture of me as Mr Fixit. Let's face it, it's an image only slightly more rose-tinted than my clothes and hair.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Conclusive Proofs

Got lots accomplished in the last day or so, including a reasonably successful first pass at a synopsis for a new horror story - although the second I printed it out a new angle occurred to me, so there's still a fair bit of work to be done.

Also made a start on reading the proofs for story that's out later this year. It's in an as-yet-unannounced collection, so I'm not allowed to say more than that at the minute. I'm sure the release date will be revealed imminently, however, if only because details of the volume that follows it are already on the 'Net.

Reading proofs tends to mark the end of a writer's involvement with a story (unless higher powers demand that significant changes be made further down the line). It can also give you the very strange feeling of not recognising your own work. In this case it's been four months since I wrote the story, and I haven't clapped eyes on it once in the interim. Seeing it again now, there were whole scenes I don't remember writing.

You'll know them when you see them - they'll be the good ones.