Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Load of Ballots

I keep feeling like someone who's turned up for a party just as everyone else is leaving... another late blog means most of you will already know that the final ballot papers have been revealed for both the Ditmar Awards and the Tin Ducks. Some of you will already know that I've scored a couple of nominations on them. First up, a huge thank you to everyone who read this blog and voted for me in the initial round. Without your support, I wouldn't be writing this now. Next, a look at the Ditmars. I've been nominated personally in the Best New Talent category and with Amanda Pillar as editors in Best Collected Work for Scenes from the Second Storey. As with all the awards doing the rounds right now, both are tough fields, with very deserving nominees. My blog has decided not to allow me to cut and paste today, so I can't list everyone here without spending an hour retyping the names. Suffice it to say a large number of those I suggested for nominations in my previous posts did indeed make the final lists - the complete ballots for online voting and physical votes have all the details. As I understand it, members of this year's Swancon and last year's Worldcon are eligible to vote, as are Supporting Members (those who can't make it to Perth for the convention are able to pay $20 to cast their votes in absentia). I'll make sure and get back to you. Meanwhile Swancon will also see the voting for the WA-only Tin Duck awards, and this year I have two nominations, both for Best WA Professional Short Written Work. You probably remember I suggested Signature Walk for this category, as a story of which I'm very proud that's set in WA and published by a WA company - what surprised me was that another story I didn't suggest, Brave Face from ASIM issue 46, has also made the final list. It's a little piece of flash fiction I wrote last year that I didn't think would get much attention, so thanks to those who voted for it - it was a pleasant shock. There are nearly 20 stories in this category, which is going to make it a tight-run thing, if only because the votes are likely to be diluted, so if anyone's a full or supporting member of Swancon and would like to vote, it could be the odd nod that makes the difference. Take a look at the ballot form and see what I mean! And now, back to my boxes. Moving house next week, and the sheer volume of clutter I've accumulated since the last move is terrifying.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aurealis Awards

Being in WA and a few hours behind everyone else means I'm posting a while after the rest of the writing community... but if, by some remote chance you haven't heard, the Aurealis Award finalists were announced today and Scenes From the Second Storey made the last five for Best Anthology.

Obviously it's a huge honour and I'm chuffed to bits not just for myself and Amanda but for all the writers who put in such sterling efforts. As with other awards, the competition is very very strong - a big congratulations to everyone who made the respective short lists, which you can find at the Aurealis website. The winners are announced at a ceremony in Sydney on May 21.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 'e' in Book

Things are a little quieter at the moment, although an impending house move means they won't stay that way for long. I've used the time to finish off the first-round edits on a novella I've been asked to look at, but now that I've sent the comments off to the writer, my time's my own (until he gets back to me with his comments on my comments, at any rate).

I've got a novella of my own that needs rewrites for publication later in the year - more on that a bit closer to the time - but aside from that all there is to report is that two books with which I've had some involvement have got the 'e' treatment.

Voices - an anthology about nastiness in hotel rooms - contains my story Just Us, described as a 'brutal police procedural' by one reviewer. You can now buy it on Smashwords or as a Kindle book from Amazon.

Meanwhile, Scenes from the Second Storey is also available now in electronic format. There's been a lot of positive buzz about this one - see for yourself in the Smashwords and Kindle versions.

And since I'm talking about it, let's not forget the award-winning apocalyptic anthology Grants Pass has been out in e-format for a while and can still be bought on, you guessed it, Smashwords and Kindle.

Here ends the sales pitch.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Honour Amongst Writers

Very pleased to wake up this morning to find that Signature Walk has made the (very) long list of stories on Ellen Datlow's Honourable Mentions for Best Horror of the Year. It's weird to be mentioned on the same list as Christopher Fowler, Stephen King, Rob Shearman, Neil Gaiman and Lawrence Block... at least without the words "not nearly as good as" being used.

Anyway, better yet the list also includes three tales from Scenes from the Second Storey: The Blind Man by Felicity Dowker, Ego by Robert Hood and The Desert Song by Andrew J McKiernan. Big congrats to them, as ever I'm immensely proud. Of course, I'm duty-bound to suggest this as further reason to vote for all of these stories in the upcoming awards. Check out my previous post for details on how to show your support, now you've got further proof that they're deserving.

If that's not good news enough, the list is further populated by talented individuals from Down Under: Kirstyn McDermott, Kaaron Warren and Paul Haines all make the list, as do Chris Green, Mark Farrugia and Amanda Spedding from the AHWA critique group - as good an advertisment for the fine work that the group does as you're likely to see. I've said it before and I'll say it again, there's no way you can overestimate the quality of the service these guys provide. My writing would be a lot poorer without them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Voting Thoughts 3

There are two more categories I’d like to cover before voting for both the Ditmars and the Tin Ducks close this weekend. First up is the Ditmar for Best Collected Work.

This is one of the two categories for which I’m pushing my own product. Scenes From the Second Storey (edited by Amanda Pillar and myself, Morrigan Books) came out at WorldCon last year and has garnered uniformly positive and enthusiastic reviews in the months since. An anthology that features a stellar line up of writers all at the top of their respective games, I’m very proud of it and everyone who was involved. So if you wanted to throw it a vote or two…

But the competition is stiff this year, with some equally worthy contenders out there. The biggest – in page count and stature! – is Macabre (ed. Angela Challis and Marty Young, Brimstone Press). A history of Australian horror writing, it’s jammed with gems and recently made the final ballot for the Stoker Awards, no mean feat for an Aussie book in a stateside award.

I’ve already mentioned Cthulhu’s Dark Cults (ed. David Conyers, Chaosium) in relation to one of my tips for Best Novella, and the same reasons for voting in that category apply here – I loved the Call of Cthulhu game back in the old days, and the stories in this anthology are a lovely blast of nostalgia.

I’d also like to mention Scary Kisses (ed. Liz Grzyb, Ticonderoga) for showing you can do paranormal romance without selling out, and Sprawl (ed. Alisa Krasnostein, Twelfth Planet Press) for a fine collection of stories that distils the more disturbing side of life in the Australian burbs. Both are great reads and worth considering.

Things get more complex, when it comes to the Best Short Story noms, if only because my short list… well, isn’t. I’m not putting any of my own shorts into this category, preferring to concentrate on the Tin Ducks for that particular area. I am, however, going to nominate everyone who contributed to Scenes From the Second Storey. They are:

Dream Machine by David Conyers
She Said by Kirstyn McDermott
The Blind Man by Felicity Dowker
I’ve Seen The Man by Paul Haines
The Desert Song by Andrew J. McKiernan
Home by Martin Livings (also eligible for the Tin Ducks)
It’s All Over by L.J. Hayward
Temptation by Trent Jamieson
Out by Stephen Dedman
Ego by Robert Hood
Seven by Stephanie Campisi
Purity by Kaaron Warren
The Piano Song by Cat Sparks

I’m quite, quite serious when I say there’s not a single dud in the entire book. Anyone on that list who gets a nomination will truly have deserved it.

Aside from the above, however, there’s a wide field to choose from. Stories I’ve particularly enjoyed are:

Bread and Circuses by Felicity Dowker: a love story that transcends the grave, managing to be romantic and disturbing simultaneously.

The King’s Accord by Alan Baxter: a tale of political intrigue that asks how far is too far where the greater good is concerned. Wonderful ending.

The School Bus by Jason Fischer: not many stories have lingered in my mind after reading as long as this one did. Chilling.

Lollo by Martin Livings: What’s scarier than aliens, clowns or creepy dolls? A creepy alien clown doll. Easily the best story in the Close Encounters of the Urban Kind anthology. Also eligible for the Tin Ducks in the Best Professional Short Written Work category.

A Bagful of Arrows by Mark Farrugia: A story I got to see evolve through the AHWA critique group, growing into a tight, clever yarn.

Darwin’s Daughter by Christopher Green: it’s difficult to pick any one of Chris’s stories as a favourite – he’s that good. Darwin’s Daughter melds an intelligent concept with emotional punch.

And that’s it for my recommendations – for what they’re worth. If you’re thinking of voting, get in before Sunday. Details and voting forms are here for the Ditmars, and here for the Tin Ducks.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Voting Thoughts 2

I'm only putting my work out there for two categories in this year's Ditmars - Best New Talent, as I mention previously, and Best Collected Work - but there are a whole range of other awards I'll be voting in, many with a list of eligibles as long as the Indian Pacific railway. I've tried to narrow the options down as best I can - here are a few works that I think are worth a vote or two.

Best Novel
My first pick for this is Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott. Kirstyn wrote a damn fine short for Scenes From the Second Storey, and her first novel demonstrates beyond any argument that she's a top-notch writer. A listing on the final ballot for this year's Stoker Awards (albeit not for this novel) just proves my point.

I'm cheating a little when I suggest Death Most Definite by Trent Jamieson, in that I have my copy on order but it's yet to arrive... I'd been hoping to read it before needing to post, but these things happen. Working on the basis that so many people whose opinions I respect can't be wrong, however, I'm taking it on faith that Trent's urban fantasy is as good as it's rep.

The last novel I'd suggest is Samhane by Daniel I Russell. This one targets a very different niche in the market from the first two suggestions, splatter-filled and aimed more at fans of films like Hostel. That said, Daniel knows his market and caters for it well, which makes it worth a nod.

Best Novella
Again, there are three works that'll be getting my votes in this category. All the Clowns in Clowntown (from Macabre, Brimstone Press) takes one of horror's traditional scares (clowns = evil) and turns it on its head. I've a lot of time for stories by its writer, Andrew J McKiernan, and this one's really rather good.

Requiem for the Burning God by Shane Jiraiya Cummings is taken from David Conyer's anthology Cthulhu's Dark Cults. Those that knew me back in my teens (an eternity ago...) will remember my love of the Call of Cthulhu game and Shane's tale of evil in the mountains of Peru did a fine job of evoking the tone and atmosphere I associated with the game.

Last up, A Tale of the Interferers: A Hunger for Forbidden Flesh by Paul Haines (ASIM issue 46). Paul is ludicrously talented, and I've dipped into several stories in his back catalogue since finally meeting him at WorldCon. His characters the Interferers (a pair of less than legendary sword-and-sorcery) adventurers meld laugh-out-loud humour with the nastiness in such a seamless way that I'm seething with envy just thinking about it.

As before, voting can be done online. Otherwise, that's it for this post... I'm building up to a Best Short Story post, but with so many possible candidates, it may take a little while to get that one composed. Back soon(ish).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Voting Thoughts 1

I promised a week or so back that I'd post my list of recommendations for the upcoming awards season, but life being what it is I've been stuck for the opportunity to do so. Part of the problem is that I've been thinking about who I'd vote for at both the Ditmars and the WA-oriented Tin Ducks, and the list seems to expand by the second. One by-product of attending WorldCon last September was that I got to meet a wider circle of Australian writers, thus becoming wider read myself as I caught up with their work. That in turn means this post has the potential to make The Lord of the Rings look like a pamphlet...

So I'll be splitting it up. Today I'll cover one award I'm up for and one category in which I'll be nominating.

By one of those strange quirks of the voting process, I'm eligible for the Best New Talent Award at the Ditmars this year. Strange, because I was eligible for it last year, too. It seems that newbies get two bites of the cherry here - but only two, so it's my last chance in this category. That said, my output for this year has been stronger and more varied than last, including not just short stories but an editing role alongside Amanda Pillar on Scenes From the Second Storey. That Scenes has been so well received and that my short stories for the last year so well reviewed is a big step forward on the previous Ditmars. With a bit of luck, versatility can count for something.

There are, however, a couple of other people whose work I'd point you towards for the same award. Jason Crowe is one of the members of the Australian Horror Writers Association Critique Group, an invaluable collection of writers who have been there to point out the inadequacies of my fiction (and ways to fix them) for the last couple of years. Because I've returned the favour and worked on a number of Jason's manuscripts, I can say with conviction that he's a fine storyteller in his own right, and well worth considering in this category.

The other name on my list is another AHWA Critter who's just starting to make a name for herself. Amanda J Spedding's hit a rich vein of form in the last couple of months, with her stories in the Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine gaining some deserved attention. This week, her steampunk story Shovel-Man Joe won first place in a competition run by website Shades of Sentience. Again, I've read quite a number of her stories, and she's got what it takes.

So that's Best New Talent covered. If you're a Ditmar voter (ie you can prove you're 'active in fandom') you can see the full list of eligibles here. Online voting closes on March 14, but I'll be back before that with my thoughts on another category. Until then...