Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: The Year That Will Be

I find New Year's resolutions cliche and unnecessary. If you're going to do something, why wait?

Therefore, while this may look like The Making of Resolutions, it's simply the timing. I've been talking myself into planning my writing year for the last month. Oh dear Spaghetti Monster, planning. The notorious non-planner is talking about plans?

It's that non-planning that's got me into a whole heap of trouble, mainly with myself. I thought being solely responsible to myself would be Teh Awesome. But it's not. I'm not impressed with my momentum. I'm not getting enough done, I'm not progressing in my technique, and I'm not making as many sales as I would like.

It's time to get Srs Bznss.

So here it is: for the next year, starting today, the 31st of December 2013, I am determined to write 5000 new words a week. That works out to around 700 words a day. I am going to keep a daily and weekly tally.  I will post that tally every Sunday night here on the blog. It doesn't matter if anyone is reading, I'm simply using the blog as accountability.

I will not beat myself up if I have an exceedingly difficult week, and I don't make the count - I'll take what I have written and see it as a win for the week, then get back on the bicycle. I will give myself the flexibility of time off for good behaviour once I reach the count, or if I feel particularly inspired I will keep going. There will be time off for holidays, especially for my planned Disneyland trip in April.

The flexibility in this plan is what I will write. I have a lot of UFOs and half formed ideas to draw on. I will continue to write the short form. If this means I will turn out approximately one short story a week, awesome! If I go longer into novella territory if the inspiration strikes me, I'll go with it. I will attempt to plot a little better, instead of winging it on inspiration and running out of puff halfway through. I will attempt to make each work submission ready, but I will also not get upset if it doesn't work. Every word written is practice.

I'm scared. No, scrap that. I'm absolutely terrified. I'm not actually sure what I'm afraid of, because it's not failure - I'm used to the rejection by now. Perhaps I'm afraid of turning a passion into work, because I don't want to end up hating a job I really want. I don't want writing to be full of the tedium, the have-tos, and the sapping of mental energy that a day job entails. I still want this to be fun. And part of the battle of this year is to work out how to retain that spark of fun.

I have to do this if I'm to find out if I can do it planned and steady. I have to do this to find out what sort of person I can be. I have to try, or I will never be true to myself.

So, 365 days from now, let's check back in and see how 2013 went. It's a date.

YES, Ize WERKING. Ize in teh PLANNING stage.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: The Year That Was

Barring a miracle in the next twenty-four hours, here's how my writing year has shaped up.

Stories Published:
This is strange to say, but in what has been my most successful writing year yet, I only had two new stories published: "The City of Sand and Knives" in The Future Fire's February issue, and "Cartography and the Death of Shoes" in Crossed Genres "Fat Girl in a Strange Land".

Stories Accepted:
I had six stories accepted, which is equal to my 2011 acceptance rate, but the deal breaker was my first pro sale.

Reprints:
I've only had one reprint, "Twixt", which was included in the M-Brane SF Quarterly #4.

New Stories Released to the Traps:
I prepped eleven stories I was happy enough to begin submitting around the traps, only one of which I've trunked.

Rejections:
I had seventy-seven rejections, including four no replies.

Current WiPs:
I can't accurately count how many stories I have in various states of plan, write or repair, but I'd guess it's around fifteen to twenty.

Huzzah to 2012!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays, However You Like To Celebrate

It's been a quiet December in Pickles Land but things have been strange and busy in the Real Life.

I took extra RL responsibility on myself by negotiating through a house purchase. It was a difficult process especially this close to Christmas and in the Christchurch housing environment, but hooray I got there and I'll be moving house in the new year.

This meant a lot of my mental energy at a busy time of year got even more sapped, and my writing suffered. On the tailcoat of not seeing anything published or accepted  by the end of the year (well, still a week left!), I was feeling a bit despondent. I really do miss the buzz writing gives me, but there's only so much of me to go around. And boy was I tired after the last month!

Seeing how I crumbled during a crunch time, I decided to do something I really hate to do: make some resolutions. I don't like jumping on the old cliche bandwagon, it just so happens that some self realizations about energy and writing came at the end of a year.

It would have been nice to close out the year with something big, but such is the writer life - plans change. It looks like the first quarter is shaping up to be a big one - with some publishing deadlines pushed back, I'll be seeing pieces in two anthologies, a magazine, and The Big One all coming out in early 2013. It'll look like I've been very busy when if fact I've been waiting for Teh Splosion of Orsumness for quite some time!

2013 is going to be awesome and different. For one, I'm going to have my own office - a writing space all of my own I can clutter with books and inspirational detritus and I don't have to share. My first pro sale is going to be released - you have no idea how excited I am about that one. There's going to be Au Contraire 2 and the SJVs, stories coming out in venues I'm pleased as punch about, start doing something with this blog (yeah, I got it wrong this year) and, dammit all, more awesome writing.

So here's to a happy holiday, cool yule, fabulous festivus, however you like to celebrate, and thanks for sticking round with this wee whisper of an author. You'll be seeing bigger things from me in the new year.


Iz long story. Jus pull, pleez.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fantastique Unfettered #5 Delayed

The expected release date of Fantastique Unfettered #5, which would feature my story "In Bloom", has been pushed back.

The magazine was originally going to appear in November, but unforeseen circumstances has delayed the release date until sometime in early 2013. Sorry, no hard and fast date yet.

Oh well, just means instead of lots happening at the end of this year, there will be lots happening at the start of next year! Bring on a big 2013!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

'Menial' Promotions are a go-go!

'Menial: Skilled Labor in SF' from Crossed Genres Publications comes out on January 21st, 2013, and promotion has begun.

I'm excited to see it's been getting signal boosted from some significant geek and publishing sites, like SFSignal, i09, and Tor.com.

If you're the reviewer-y type, ARCs are now available. Contact details are available here.

There's currently a Good Reads giveaway available for three ARC copies, ending December 18th. Check out the details here. And if you're considering entering the giveaway, come on over to my Good Reads page and friend or fan me.

Huzzah!

Monday, November 19, 2012

I can haz excite! Table of contents and cover art for "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF"

It's a reveal...that I'm a little late on. And I better leave out the good ol' Commonwealth 'u' in labo(u)r. But here 'tis! It's the ToC and cover art for "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF", edited by Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach, due out January 21st, 2013, from Crossed Genres Publication.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
AJ Fitzwater -  “Diamond in the Rough”
M. Bennardo – “Thirty-Four Dollars”
Sean Jones – “A Tale of a Fast Horse”
Barbara Krasnoff – “The Didibug Pin”
Camille Alexa – “Sarah 87″
A.D. Spencer – “Carnivores”
Andrew C. Releford - “Urban Renewal”
Matthew Cherry – “Storage”
Angeli Primlani – “Snowball the Rabbit Was Dead”
Jasmine M. Templet – “Leviathan”
Margaret M. Gilman – “All in a Day’s Work”
Kevin Bennett – “The Belt”
Jude-Marie Green – “Far, Far From Land”
Clifford Royal Johns – “Big Steel In The Sky”
Sophie Constable – “Air Supply”
Dany G. Zuwen – “The Heart of the Union”
Sabrina Vourvoulias – “Ember”


Why yes, that is my story the first in the book. Hee!

ETA: 
- I'm super excited to see that i09 has seen fit to give the anthology a plug! Thanks to Charlie Jane Anders.
- SFSignal have also got in on the act with a plug too.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crunching Numbers

Numbers annoy and disturb me: the numbers of rejections I've had; the numbers of words people can write (almost every day); final word counts in someone else's WiP. I know I shouldn't let them bother me, but some days when I feel like I'm not doing enough to forward my writing career they get to me.

I've stopped counting numbers of anything other than numbers of submissions and acceptances, so a realization that popped up the other night surprised me.

I prepped and submitted my 40th and 41st story manuscripts earlier this week. My average story word count is around 4000. There have been some longer, some shorter, and of course plenty of stories I haven't finished or never sent out to the traps.

But lets just say amoungst all that I've written, conservatively, about 160 000 words. Being generous, with those unfinished WiPs, maybe it's closer to 180 000.

That's two books worth. Or a really big doorstop.

I had to think on that for a moment. For all my struggles, procrastinations, and anguish over other people bashing out oodles of words, a book or two a year, I've written the equivalent of maybe two books worth of words in the last two and a half years. They're not all good words, or in any sort of linear (quality and quantity) fashion, but not all first drafts of books are amazing either.

And then I stopped to think again: out of those 41 stories I have seen fit to submit (and admittedly trunked a few), I've sold 14. That's a success rate of 34%. THIRTY FOUR PERCENT. Sure, only 2% of that success has been a pro sale, but damn...do I undersell and underrate my ability to produce.

I'm doing okay. I can do better, but I'm definitely doing more okay than I thought.

patience, mah minion...1 day this will all be ours

Monday, November 12, 2012

Struggling

I never thought my first pro sale would be The Start Of All Things Amazing, but geez have I hit the wall this last month.

Good old Imposter Syndrome, how ya doing? Haven't heard from you in a while. And Magpie Syndrome, you've decided to turn up too? Oh, and a big dollop of creamy Procrastination, how you doin'? Chuck in a big helping of gaming FOMO and yay, my life is complete - on a collision course for not a heck of a lot of work getting done.

I'm a recidivist non-planner. Plans scream Work. Work screams Unfun. But writing is fun, right? RIGHT? Well, it's supposed to be. Maybe it's that old theocratic holdover drummed into me that hard work isn't supposed to be fun. I always said as a kid "When I grow up, I'm only ever going to do something for fun!" Why, hello Day Job and Mortgage, how's that working out for you?

So now, the only time I can have Fun is my off hours, and if writing seems like Work hedging in on my Fun Time...oh man, I know, this round-about thinking is killing my creativity.

So what to do? I need discipline, a plan. Haha yeah, here we go on the suck vortex again. We're going under again, cap'n! She's gonna blow!

So come on Pickles, it's time to Get Serious. It's time to stop half-arseing this and pretending what little I'm doing is enough. It's time to dedicate a plan to paper. It's time to turn off the games and turn on your brain.

Engage, Number One!

HALP!!!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coming Up

It's been a long time between drinks this year as far as published work goes, but things are about to hit the presses.

All the work has been going on behind the scenes, with five sales made since I was last published at the start of this year ("Fat Girl in a Strange Land", see the sidebar; "The City of Sand and Knives" in The Future Fire).

Three of these new stories are about to hit print in the very near future:

The end of the year and start of 2013 is going to be a busy time in-print wise, and I'm really looking forward to some of my best work to date getting out there. 

Stand by, I'll keep you posted on more details, release dates, purchasing information, and reviews.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Diary of a Pro Sale aka How I learned to stop hitting Send/Receive and love my inbox

Day 1: Submit to Clarkesworld with the usual good humour: "Bring on that whiplash rejection!"
Day 2: Receive an email from Neil Clarke asking a question about the story. Run around room screaming and flailing.
Day 3: No reply, remembering to breathe.
Day 6: Still reminding myself to breathe.
Day 10: Send/Receive, Send/Receive, Send/Receive.
Day 12: Duotrope rejectomancy, discover sitting around the average acceptance time. Ignore my discovery.
Day 20: Send/Receive, Send/Receive, Send/Receive. Inbox, y u so emptee?!
Day 22: More Duotrope rejectomancy, slightly hysterical giggle, Send/Receive, rinse repeat.
Day 29: Decide to ignore Duotrope rejectomancy, fail. SEND/RECEIVE.
Day 33: Huddle in a corner giggling and whimpering to self.
Day 34: Shake myself and remind myself to write something just as awesome, if not more.
Day 40: La la la la la I can't hear yoooouuu email inbox. Your Send/Receive button means nothing to me.
Day 41: Click. Computer says no. Click. Computer says no.
Day 45: Hahahahahahaha.
Day 48: Consider sending query for the 100th time. Act like a grown up writer and do not.
Day 49: Hear the sad news of Neil's health problems. Send best wishes. Put personal needs on the back burner. Expect CW slush pile to be cleaned out. Not worried in the grander scheme of things.
Day 55: Interesting. Still no rejection.
Day 57: Still haven't forgotten about my other Word Babies, send latest story out onto the submission merry go round to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Forget about it.
Day 63: Duotrope rejectomancy...Neil's back to work? Wow. Dedication.
Day 70: I am the leaf on the wind. The Send/Receive button and I are in a special place in our relationship.
Day 72: More Duotrope rejectomancy. Dude has detemination for his work, gotta tell ya.
Day 77: Rejection from Clarkesworld. Sort of. "Send me a rewrite" type words in there. Yussssss. Oh noes, here we go again...
Day 84: Send back rewrite. Am a complete Zen Monster.
Day 90: Oh hello, Send/Receive my old friend.
Day 95: I am a leaf, I am the wind, I am ice cream, I am furry mountains etc. Your Send/Receive cannot reach me.
Day 100: Who are you again, Send/Receive?
Day 107: Pretend I am normal.
Day 108: Receive query regarding rewrite from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Fall off chair.
Day 114: Send back Rewrite The Oneth. Remember to breathe.
Day 119: Rejection from Clarkesworld. This is not the pro sale you are looking for, my padawan. Bow to the master. Now, about that other rewrite...
Day 123: Send back Rewrite The Twoth. This seems oddly surreal and easy considering the last four months.
Day 125: Rewrite The Threeth. How did we get here?
Day 127: Read email. Read email again. Blink, rub eyes, read email once more. "I would love to buy it". You're talking about my writing, right? Not some other person with Mad Writerly Skills madder than mine? Squee very loudly, paddle feet, and run around Day Job office screaming.
Day 129: Rewrite/Editeth The Fourst
Day 133: WORD PERFECTION ACKNOWLEDGED. Official important bits can occur.
Day 142: O hai Officially Pro Sale Writerly Personage!
Day 143: I love you, Send/Receive button.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Official Announcement is Official!

Now that the Is have been crossed and the Ts dotted, I am able to officially announce my first pro sale.

I am beyond proud and excited to announce that "Blood Stone Water" will be appearing in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (issue TBA).

Thank you so much to editor Scott H. Andrews for kindly guiding this newb through the process. His patience and dedication to getting the story perfect put me so much at ease.

We're on our way, baby!

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mushroom Forest

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Specfic New Zealand Blogging Week: The Next Big Thing

I've been terribly remiss in taking part in Specfic New Zealand Blogging Week this year, but since Anna Caro tagged me into the "Next Big Thing" exercise, I thought this was my opportunity to fix that! The NBT exercise is a mini interview of oneself with set questions about a current project. The exercise specifies books, but my focus is on short stories, so I'm going to change the language of the questions to reflect that.

What is the working title of your story?

It's called 'The Mary-Jane Effect', named after one of the characters in the story. I liked the concept of how one person, or stereotype of a person, could be used as a scapegoat. The title rolls beautifully across my mind every time I revisit it.

Where did the idea come from for the story?

From one very specific phrase: Nigel Latta (a New Zealand pop psychologist) saying "All teenagers are terrorists". I thought that was incredibly dismissive of teenage problems and suffering, and also appropriative of violent rhetoric. And it got me to wondering "what IF teenagers were branded terrorists?" I focused on the female experience, because a huge burden of respectability and policing of teenage sexuality is wrongly placed upon young women.

What genre does your story fall under?

Near future social (soft) science fiction. There is talk of shuttles to space stations and enhanced tech, but there is a lot about a certain reviled age group that will be very familiar to people.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I never really pictured any one person as the characters. Probably Michelle Rodriguez as Rosie:
Viola Davis as Shan:

and Willow Smith as MJ:


I draw a blank on who to use as the voice of the narrator - someone with a fairly mellow, middle pitch voice who can do a cross between a Mexican and Australian accent (interesting call!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your story?

An unseen narrator attempts to reconcile a young person's experience living through 'Generation Lost', a section of female teenage society reviled using common social ideals and violent media rhetoric against terrorism.

Will your story be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm currently submitting the story around the traps, hoping for a hit from an editor. I've already had one nibble, but it didn't pan out. Still, the nibble helped me refine the story more, and was a good learning experience about rewrites.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

'MJ' was one of those beautiful perfect storms where I had the idea on Friday, outlined it Saturday, started it Sunday, and finished it on Wednesday. That doesn't often happen to me! Usually I labour intensely over a first draft, but this one just fell out.

What other stories would you compare this story to within your genre?

The coming of age story is a fairly common theme, and one I've been trying to avoid. However, there's another theme to the story, which I can't reveal because it's involves the big ending, which is an under represented theme in SF and a theme which is an important part of my writing.

Who or What inspired you to write this story?

In my experience with feminism and its intersections, I've come to re-evaluate many parts of a woman's life that I was originally socialized to be very dismissive of - we're taught to hate ourselves and other women, implicitly and explicitly, in a myriad of ways. Many people have a desire to write a letter to their younger selves or a younger person to say "Hey, I'm sorry I completely screwed you up. Please take my wisdom and shake off the chains of socialization as quickly as you can. You're okay just the way you are, and you're not losing your mind!"

This story turned out to be just such a letter (not to myself, mind you) inter-sped with media snippets and rhetoric that would read very familiar. If we don't change our cultural attitudes towards teenagers and their sexuality soon, we're doomed to repeating our mistakes into the next generations.

I also had a bit of fun creating the media snippets, using rhetoric, headlines and themes common to a young woman's experience. There will be language in there people will recognize.

What else about your story might pique the reader’s interest?

The story features a family with two mothers that talks about same-sex marriages as a given, and easily accessible sperm donors with some of the contractual/moral implications involved. These may seem as givens into today's world, but considering the recent furore surrounding marriage equality the world over we've still got a way to go. I also touch on masculine and feminine role models outside of a family, because I'm fed up with the anti-marriage equality proponents saying children will be confused without the "traditional" (yes, that's in jerk-finger quotes, since one-man, one woman marriage has only legally been in existence the last century or so) values of heterosexual families.

The narrator and MJ are also pretty frank about their sexuality,  which I feel is refreshing because outside of the authors I read and enjoy, teenage sexuality is usually completely ignored or talked about in a very coy or ridiculous infantalizing fashion.

Tag, you're it Helen Lowe, Paul Mannering, and Samuel Mae.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

M-Brane SF Quarterly #4 available in paperback

I somehow completely missed the fact that M-Brane SF Quarterly #4 had been released back in June, but here we are!

M-Brane SF Quarterly #4 is a compilation of the stories from the electronic editions, and is the last publication from M-Brane SF as it is currently on hiatus.

This compilation contains my story "Twixt", a post-apocalyptic genderqueer all-female dystopia (wow, what a mix when I put it that way!). It's also really lovely to see my name on the front cover.

Here's editor Chris Fletcher's post about the release, and here's the direct link to the Amazon listing for the paperback.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rewrites!

So. This...thing...has happened in the last couple weeks.

I was hesitant to talk about it. Though I don't believe in superstition, I didn't want to jinx my chances, because if "this" happens, it could be BIG, and I didn't really want to write ANOTHER "almost, but not quite post". I'm sure you're getting bored with those. I know I am.

But this, "this", is different. Let's just say there's these two major venues. We'll call them A and B. Quite some time back, I submitted a story to Venue A, who after a series of events eventually came back to me with "not quite" a rejection. If I wanted to rewrite some parts and resubmit, Venue A said, feel free to do so.

Rewrite? REWRITE? Hell, yeah!

So I did.

Then Venue B came along. After submitting a (different) story, they came back to me with gushy feedback that put a blush all up in a my face. If I wanted to rewrite some parts, Venue B said, feel free to do so.

Rewrite? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? HELL, YEAH!

A month ago, I was sitting on some nice feedback with rejections from various editors round the traps.

Now, I'm sitting on two rewrite requests. Count 'em, TWO. And now I'm trying to figure out how to make the best stories I've ever written even better. Woah. Mind reeling.

If neither of them happen, it'll still be a success in networking and a learning experience dealing with two great editors.

If either one of them happens - Oscar Mike Golf, pro time!

If both happen, you'll need to resuscitate me.


Kitteh sez: OMG

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The end of "Tales For Canterbury"

Almost nineteen months after we began our journey with "Tales For Canterbury", the numbers are in and money has been donated.

The anthology, put together post-February 22, 2011 Christchurch earthquake to raise funds for Red Cross, raised a very respectable $4132 which has now been passed on to this worthwhile charity still on the ground here in Christchurch.

Only a handful of the paperback copies of the anthology were left over, one of which was given to the Red Cross along with the donation, and the rest were given to the Christchurch Writer's Festival which took place this past weekend.

So this is it, the end of the journey for "Tales For Canterbury". I'm glad the money is being put to good use, and a book that reflects a moment in kiwi history is on bookshelves and in e-readers.

Thank you to editors Cassie Hart and Anna Caro. And thank you to you, esteemed reader on this particular anniversary (September 4, when it really all began), for walking with us on this journey.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

News From Shakytown: Word Counts, Encouragement and Almost Maybes, Oh My!

It's been a quiet winter blogging wise here at PT, but it certainly hasn't been a quiet time behind the writing scenes.

Most of my writing community conversations have been happening on Twitter. If you haven't already found me on Twitter, join me through the bar on the right hand side of this page. I recently changed my Twitter handle to be more in line with my writing identity. My previous handle (BiscuitCIB) only had relevance to me (an old identity from my very first days in chat rooms way back in 95!), and it was about time I started pretending I was a growed up writer. I'll probably have to pretend that even more with a proper website eventually, but that's medium term goal once things "start happening". That is, start making pro-sales.

And speaking of pro-sales....no, nothing yet. One of my 2012 goals is to make my first pro-sale, and I'm still hoping that's possible with all the excellent vibes I've been getting lately. More often than not now I'm getting feedback from editors, and the encouragement is really uplifting. All the major editors I've hoped to impress have made encouraging noises this year, even if it's just a line or two with a rejection or a "send more". It's nice to be noticed by the people I really respect.

This isn't to say the writing life has been all rainbows, kittens and muffins. This past winter has been exceptionally hard, as I've been coming to grips with post-earthquake stress and burn out. Living in this city is a grey old time. I've struggled with my writing energy and inspiration, and there have been some really low days ("What the hell am I doing? I suck! etc etc" all those irrational thoughts). But there are also some really good days - the last few months I've written what I believe is my best work to date, and these stories have been the ones getting encouraging feedback. It's a very odd dissonance.

Over the last couple of years I've blogged about trying to make a writing process fit, but with how restless the eighteen months have been some of the processes I tried out just aren't working. Thankfully, flexibility has been working for me - I can now work in outside environments (the local libraries actually have a very cool atmosphere and accessibility for people working on laptops), I often take my laptop into other "comfort zones" (sitting up in bed; in my armchair), and I've been experimenting with music (instrumental, electronic ambient) and mental white noise (TV in the background) to help me focus. It's helped me find more environments to be comfortable in, so I'm not always poked away in my office.

While my output has waned lately with stress and winter energies, I seem to have settled into a happy average word count: during my one full writing day a week I manage around 2000 words, and most nights (after the day job) I manage about 500 words. I would like this to be more, and some days I get super inspired (nice, but rare and it blows me out), but at this point in my life I have to be very careful about managing my energy.

Mostly, it's been a lot of time spent alone in the trenches this year. That's something a lot of writer "How To's" don't mention - it can be a pretty lonely life. This is okay some days if you're not feeling overly social, but can make one despondent when needing work critique or a self-esteem boost. I'm grateful for my local writing group for keeping me sane (Liz and Helen, you're legends!), and for SpecFicNZ for keeping me focused.

I keep plodding.
Pickles Out.


This Is Mah Job


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lately: SpecFicNZ Committee; Paul Mannering's 'Engines of Empathy on IndieGoGo; Ripley Patton's 'Ghost Hand'; Helen Lowe's Gemmell is PURTY

  • Today was the AGM of SpecFicNZ (the New Zealand writer's collective I belong to). The new committee has been voted in for the 2012-13 year, and I'm totally stoked that I've been voted onto the general committe. I've never done committee work before, so it's a whole new experience for me. Hopefully because it's a subject I love, and with so many wonderfully supportive people to help out, things should go fine.

    At SpecFicNZ we're all about supporting and promoting New Zealand based and bred science fiction, fantasy and horror authors. We've been underway for two years now, and promotions include writing contests (for example, through Wily Writers) and cover design, giveaways, and special events like Flights of Fancy.

    So! It will be an interesting year for me as I find out what it takes to run things behind the scenes. Thanks to whoever nominated me for the position, I hope I can do you all proud.
  • New Zealand author and my friend Paul Mannering, he of 'Tankbread' fame (infamy?) is preparing to self-publish his second novel 'Engines of Empathy', with crowd sourdced funding through IndieGoGo. Unlike Tankbread, which was an Australian based zombie novel, EoE is a science fiction story about 'a peaceful world where empathically empowered technology runs on positive emotions'.

    The blurb further reads: 'After her toaster has a psychotic breakdown, Charlotte Pudding finds herself caught up in what might possibly be the greatest conspiracy in history. Running for her life with a grandmaster of sarcasm, the race is on to discover the secret of an antique desk that is the key to the mysterious origins of Empathic Energy. With mystical monks, villainous corporations and a shocking revelation about R.A.B.I.T.S, Pudding is on a quest to find patchouli oil, uncover the truth, and (if it’s not too inconvenient) save the world.'

    Intrigued? Think you'd like to read this wacky story? (I can assure you, Paul has the most twisted mind in a human being I've ever met). Then give it a leg up into the world! Paul is running an IndieGoGo campaign, which will cover the costs of editing, cover design and self publishing.

    Crowd funding is a great way to see self-published books into the world - it's like giving the author a publishing advance right from the fans and readers pockets. This way you can choose the books you'd like to see published!
  • Another friend who is crowd funding a self-publishing outing is my friend Ripley Patton, with her YA fantasy novel 'Ghost Hand'. I blogged about it earlier, but this is just a reminder that with 8 days to go, Ripley needs just $600 more to hit her target.
  • Here's something sweet as: last weekend I got to hold Helen Lowe's Gemmell Morningstar award, which she won for her fantasy novel 'The Heir of Night'. All crystal, that sucker was heavy! I'd like to steal this award on behalf of...
A nearly see through crystal trophy, that catches and shows light prismatically,
with a square base, long middle section and star at the top.
The inscription reads 'The David Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012'

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Moral Panic at the Disco

Goodness, but does the media love a juicy moral panic.

This week over at Granny Herald, Karl Du Fresne decided that, without a trace of irony in his opening salvo, he knew what was responsible for the recent shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

Deriding "the usual anguished self-examination in the American media", Du Fresne proceeded into his own anguished self-examination, claiming in the most disingenuous, irresponsible and downright rude way possible that an unhealthy attachment to fantasy stories was the culprit for this tragedy.

That's right, if you're a geek, if you're in a fandom: beware. Every single one of you has a violent sociopath lurking beneath the surface because of your inability to connect with the real world.

As a geek, as a co-habitor of many fandoms, as a fantasy and science fiction writer, and as a person who is part of a large and varied culture of fantasy literature and entertainment within New Zealand, Mr Du Fresne I bite my thumb at you.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Rejection Makes You Feel On Top Of The World

What do these magazines have in common: Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Redstone, Lightspeed.

Yes, they're all top names in SFF. Yes, they're all SFWA qualifying markets. Yes, they're all venues I would love to be published in...and they're all venues I've received personal, positive, encouraging rejections from in just the last six months.

Yes, I can add Lightspeed to my personal rejection list! I'm absolutely delighted that John Joseph Adams took some time to offer me encouragement.

Getting personal rejections like this reminds me that I am on the right track, even though I can go for weeks without a squeak from any venue. I said that 2012 will be the year I make my first pro sale. I've still got five months, so come on you good thing!

I'm going to print out my personal rejections and put them on my office wall as reminders. Almost there, almost there!



Dear sir or madam, we are glad to tell you that, rtzudgtzuertwerthsertew546233rwt3456q4t





Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kickstart The Hand!: Help Ripley Patton publish her YA Novel "Ghost Hand"

We've all seen how successful Kickstarter can be for indie and self publishing. Here's a project I thoroughly recommend supporting: Ripley Patton's Young Adult fantasy novel "Ghost Hand".

Ripley is a friend of mine from her time living here in Christchurch, and as the former president of SpecFicNZ. She has always been super supportive of me, and I'd like to give something back to her.

Ripley wants to raise $US2500 in order to self publish her book. These monies will include a professional edit, ISBN numbers, file conversions, printing, and fees. $2500 might not seem a lot in the grander scheme of the publishing industry, but when you're going it alone with nothing but the support of your family and/or day job, that's a lot of money to scrape up out of thin air!

If you want a teaser of what the book will be about, there's a link to the first chapters on the Kickstarter page.

So let's give Ripley the push she deserves! She's a great fantasy writer, and it would be awesome to see the power of social media and word of mouth get behind her. Tweet it, Facebook it, email it, tell people you know who love YA fantasy. Let's get "Ghost Hand" out there in the world!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A pen and ink drawing of a woman bending over an old fashioned typewriter. Text reads: I should stop talking about writing and actually write something.
I need to stop talking about writing
And actually write something.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sale: "Diamond in the Rough" to appear in Crossed Genres "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF"

Now see! This is what happens when all you lovely folk support small press Kickstarters!

Crossed Genres, who published "Fat Girl in a Strange Land" (link in the side bar if you're interested in a copy), have accepted my story genderqueer SF story "Diamond in the Rough" for their next anthology "Menial: Skilled Labor in SF", edited by Kelly Jennings and Shay Darrach.

I'm proud and pleased to yet again be part of a Crossed Genres anthology. They're always reaching to push the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy, and I welcome the opportunity to stretch the conversation.

Further information in the form of ToC and artwork will be coming soon.

Huzzah for me!

Fluffy is justifiably proud.
Shredding of this quality takes years of practise.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Update

I wish I had more news to share, but I don't.

The writerly side of life has taken a turn for the quiet. No news good or bad - no acceptances, and even the rejections are coming at a very slow pace lately. Have a couple of stories sitting around the 170 to 200 day mark at some venues (wut), and I'm sitting on something that could be potentially exciting or potentially the biggest disappointment of my writing career so far, depending on how it goes, but I just can't say anything about it. I'm not a superstitious person but I'm worried I'll jinx it! Please, oh writerly goddesses, be kind to me!

I've been dealing with some private issues (earthquake related) which are impeding my ability to write lately,  and the more I don't write, the more I feel guilty, and round and down the spiral we go. I have good days and bad days, and sometimes the bad days can stretch into bad weeks. I'm working on it, and hanging in there.

"Daughters of Icarus" and my piece in Fantastique Unfettered are on the horizon, so it's just a matter of waiting for those releases.

I've also been contemplating a "Tip Jar" for this blog, but I'm not sure if a) I update often enough to warrant it b) I have enough indie cred/publications to resort to begging. If I did go ahead with the Tip Jar, I would definitely only use the money for writing concerns, probably for my trip to Au Contraire next year, or even put it towards savings for *gasp, whisper* WisCon in a couple of years.

Yes, I said WisCon out loud. Could WisCon, like Disneyland, be a possibility for my Big Four Oh trip?

Captain Fitzwater of the Starship Picklesworth, signing off.

Pickel Jar: 20 cents
Stuffing your freind in it: Priceless

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That's it, we've used up all the old blades: 'Tales For Canterbury' no longer available

A year after it was released, 'Tales For Canterbury' is now no longer available for sale.

Thank you to all who brought a copy and contributed towards the literary arts in Canterbury and Red Cross donations for the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

Editors Cassie and Anna will be putting up a final tally of the funds raised on the TfC website soon.

And so, our lovely little book goes into history. Treasure the copy you have - it's rare and unique now!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crossed Genres Kickstarter: 4 More Days To Help 'Em Go Pro!

I blogged earlier about Crossed Genres Kickstarter fundraiser, which incredibly raised the original $4000 they needed to stay afloat in just 24 hours!

Now things are down to the wire. This little indie publisher who are dedicated to diversity and helping out new authors (like moi) are reaching for a Stretch Goal of $14 000. With the extra money, they plan to restart the Crossed Genres magazine, AND pay pro-rates. Can you imagine that? An indie publisher, with lots of different things to say about LGBT, body politics, disability, race and all sorts of intersectionality, paying pro-rates. It makes an author like me who is very much invested in writing about those themes very excited!

At this point, with only four days to go, CG have reached the goal where they can restart the magazine, but they still need the extra $5000 to be able to pay their authors pro-rates of 5 cents a word.

If you can help out in any way, even if it's a dollar or two, I'd really appreciate it. They have some great rewards - head over to the Kickstarter page and check them out. You'll find things like free books, magazines, t-shirts, signed books, artwork, critiques from established authors and even a custom Lego set!

If you can't help out financially, you can help out by spreading the word. Put it out on your social networks. Tell friends who are interested in science fiction and fantasy.

SFF deserves diversity! Let's get CG there, so more voices can be heard loud and clear.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Putting Christchurch on the world fantasy map: Helen Lowe wins Gemmell Morningstar Award

A big, deserved congratulations goes out to Christchurch fantasy author Helen Lowe, who has been awarded the Morningstar Award for Best Debut at the Gemmell Legend Awards for Fantasy 2012 for her novel "The Heir of Night", the first woman to do so.

I'm absolutely thrilled that a local author is garnering world-wide attention and accolades for her work. It helps bring the world's eye on New Zealand's growing collection of fantasy and science fiction authors.

When I first started considering writing seriously about 20 years ago, I felt very isolated. Fantasy and science fiction of the type I enjoyed and written by New Zealand authors was very few and far between, and often only written for a young adult audience. I imagine if there had been someone like Helen, as well as Russell Kirkpatrick, Jennifer Fallon, and Juliet Marillier, making big waves on the world fantasy scene then I might have had more of an impetus to start a whole lot earlier. Now, I take heart from her success. If she can do it from little ol' Christchurch, New Zealand, so can I.

I have referenced how difficult psychologically it has been to write in the last 18 months, but I had it different to Helen - I had no one to be responsible to but myself. She has had to dig liquefaction out from around her damaged house multiple times and dealt with far rougher times than me, and through it all she was working to deadline on the writing, editing and preparation for release of her second book "The Gathering of the Lost". I give her massive props for continuing to write, and write well, during such a difficult time.

Well done Helen, I'm very proud to know you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Snoopy has it right

Image: A Peanuts cartoon, featuring Snoopy on his typewriter
Frame One, Snoopy writes: Gentlemen, regarding the recent rejection slip you sent me.
Frame Two: I think there might have been a misunderstanding.
Frame Three: What I really wanted was for you to publish my story, and send me fifty thousand dollars.
Frame Four: Didn't you realize that?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Last chance to get your copy of 'Tales For Canterbury'

Front cover of 'Tales For Canterbury',
a tree bending in the famous norwester,
with two doves flying above.
'Tales For Canterbury', the award winning New Zealand anthology of speculative fiction published as a fund raiser and celebration of Canterbury spirit post-2011 earthquake, is nearing the end of its availability.

I have been informed there are only a few copies of the paperback left, and no more print runs will be made. If you'd like a copy of this anthology, you'll not only be owning a piece of New Zealand speculative fiction literature history, but you'll be contributing to the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Appeal.

And I can tell you from personal experience that even 18 months on from the disaster there are still people in desperate need of help. Can you imagine living in a tent, caravan or even your car in the middle of a bitter winter, because you've lost your home and your job in the midst of a housing crisis? Yes, this is happening right now here in Christchurch, and the Red Cross are still here, helping out in the best ways they can.

'Tales For Canterbury', available through Random Static, will be gone within a couple of weeks, so make sure you order your copy before it's unavailable for good.

Ithankyou!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

M-Brane SF Quarterly #4 due out soon


Cover for 'M-Brane SF Quarterly #4', a soon to be released print version collection of the magazine,
with my byline at the top of the author list on the front cover,
and a quote from my story "Twixt" on the back cover.
Picture courtesy @mbranesf editor Chris Fletcher

*kermit flail*

"Sexy", "stupid", but never "normal"

Every now and then issues come up with my accent. I don't mean my usual bug bears like my Dark L, swallowed vowels or rolling rs - I'm always working on those. I mean how I get objectified, troped and dismissed by it.

New Zealand is a small country. There is only a tiny percentage of the world's population with my accent, and even amoungst us there are regional variations. Even though it bears many similarities to the Australian accent, we even get ridiculed by our supposed trans-tasman allies for it. Therefore, to some my accent is a freak show attraction, often to be dismissed or hidden.

I find this difficult to deal with. What makes me unique is dismissed in some very stereotypical, problematic ways. There are two main categories I'm dumped in: sexy and stupid.

Because I game frequently, I am often in voice chat. I can judge a person's or community's reaction to me as a woman gamer very quickly by how they react to my voice and my accent. Just recently I had a new acquaintance go into raptures over how "sexy" my voice was, so much so they just. wouldn't. stop. No surprise that they were male. No surprise I'm not comfortable talking in voice chat with that person any more. No surprise I was fed up it took my partner joining the voice chat after I left in disgust to simmer them down.

THIS is just one way in which women gamers are made to feel objectified, unwelcome and silenced in gaming. It's not a joke. It's not a compliment. It's creepy.

I have a deep professional voice. To some it may even sound genderqueer. I have been called "unnatural" to my face for it. It's no surprise that I have become cognisant in the last few years how I have always pitched my speaking voice upwards to make others feel comfortable, even though I feel it makes me sound shrill and whiny.

Combine this with my accent, and I've copped some severe flack from international ears over the years, from being told I'm "incomprehensible" and "stupid", to being passed over for work. Please, remind me again what is the "acceptable" accent for a world blessed with multi-faceted cultures and voices? Asserting a certain accent denotes lack of intelligence is some serious class, ethnic, gender, and disability warfare (look up how ebonics, the "redneck" accent, or the "valley girl" inflection is treated, for example; also, disability activists problems with "herp derp").

And please, remind me again why we have to change our voices to suit the dominant culture and class? This is not simplified Star Trek world, where everyone looks, dresses, thinks and sounds the same. I count myself privileged in aspects of my life, so if I'm copping it, can you imagine how much harder it is for other people with other intersections in their lives?

What is normal? Our beauty is in our diversity. It should be up to the listener to adjust their ears for all the glorious voices in this world. Ridicule and refusal to do so very much smacks of gender-, ethno-, and class-centrism. Get your bigotry off people's vocal chords.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Au Contraire Redux and 'Regeneration'

I am very excited to find out that next year's New Zealand con will be a redux of 2010's Au Contraire, AND New Zealand indie publishers Random Static will again be putting out a companion NZ SpecFic anthology to go with the convention!

I very much enjoyed Au Contraire in 2010 and I'm looking forward to going again. The anthology 'A Foreign Country' was the perfect companion to be released at the same time, marketing to and showcasing our national specfic and author population. 

The anthology will be called 'Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction 2', and submissions are open from now through to December 31st at Random Static's online submission form. Editor Anna Caro also gives more information at this blog post here.
Tell us stories of how cities and societies regenerate after disaster; of bodies regenerated by science or magic, and the consequences; or natural – or unnatural – environments thriving once more. We’d also like to see stories that examine the psychological or moral dimensions to regeneration, or any other interpretation of the theme.
I have only now begun to examine disaster and rebirth themes in my writing, and coincidentally just finished a piece that would seem perfect for submitting to this anthology. I look forward to what my other local writer friends may come up with, as they process their experiences with the Christchurch earthquakes. For some, putting the experience into fiction can be a healing process.

Monday, June 4, 2012

So Proud! 'Tales For Canterbury' wins an SJV

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards were held over Queen's Birthday weekend at UnCONventional in Auckland, this year's New Zealand speculative fiction con, and I'm very pleased and proud to announce that 'Tales For Canterbury', the earthquake fundraising anthology I was part of last year, won the award for Best Collected Work.

I'm proud of and amazed at the work editors Cassie Hart and Anna Caro did on this anthology, and in so little time. The earthquake happened in February, and the book was released in June. I don't know how difficult things were behind the scenes, but everything seemed to fall together so well. They brought together a fantastic table of contents, and all for a great cause.

And now Anna, Cassie and TfC has an award to prove what a meaningful effort it was.

It's also fun to be able to say I'm part of an "award winning book".

Congratulations Anna and Cassie. You did an amazing job. Canterbury and its arts thank you.

Image of the SJV for Tales For Canterbury (Best Collected Work)
shamelessly stolen from Cassie's blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Save Crossed Genres Publications!

Crossed Genres Publications, the awesome indie publisher who released "Fat Girl in a Strange Land", are in danger of closing down.

Editors Bart Lieb and Kay T. Holt were so kind to me during the FGIASL publication and release process, and I feel it's time to give something back...even if that is the equivalent of my story fee for their Kickstarter fund raiser. It's a recursive little world in publishing, but we need wonderful indie companies such as CGP as much as they need us.

CGP have plans for themed anthologies such as "Menial: Skilled Labour in SF" and "Winter Well", an anthology of speculative novellas about older women. SFF publishing needs themes like these explored, to continue expanding the conversations about diversity.

If you can help out CGP, please do so by pledging through their Kickstarter campaign. They need $4000 to get through publishing in 2013. For more details from CGP on why they need this campaign, check out their blog post here.

Thank you!

EDIT: WOW! The power of social media has won the day! Crossed Genres met their Kickstarter target in 24 hours! They now have a Stretch Goal - if they can get another $1500 pledged they'll bring back the magazine they had to close down last year due to financial constraints.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

More crowd funding for awesome projects

  • Jef Smith of Geek Radical and PM Press is running a Kickstarter fundraiser for an anthology of Feminist Science Fiction which will be edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. "The anthology will emphasize women's speculative fiction from the mid-1970s onward, looking to explore women's rights as well as gender/race/class/etc. from as many perspectives as possible." I'm interested in this one because...well, me!
  • Anita Sarkeesian, the woman behind Feminist Frequency, is running a Kickstarter fundraiser for a series she wants to create called "Tropes vs Women: Video Games". If you've enjoyed her insights in her Tropes vs Women:Media series she's run previously, why not consider giving her a dollar or two.
  • The Future Fire editor Djibril al-Ayad and writer/editor Fabio Fernandes are teaming up to create an anthology of World SF called "We See A Different Frontier". While their Peerbacker fundraiser has met their target, it would be awesome if they could extend their scope and print more fantastic international authors of SF. If you think so too, go give them a leg up.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sale: "Through The Open Door" to appear in Aoife's Kiss

It's turning into a good month! I'm pleased to announce that my short story "Through The Open Door" has been accepted at Aoife's Kiss (published by Sam's Dot Publishing), and will appear in their June 2013 issue.

TTOD's journey is another tale of persistence. It was the second story I wrote when I first started two years ago, and has racked up 23 - count 'em, TWENTY THREE! - rejections in that time.

Yay!

OMG!!1!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Supporting Women Authors and Presses Doing Interesting Things

  • Australian Fantasy Romance author Nicole R. Murphy has started up a crowd funded e-zine called In Fabula-Divinos dedicated to fostering and critiquing new authors work. Nicole is determined to pay each author she publishes at IFD, and to that ends is currently running a fundraising drive through IndieGoGo. If you think it's important that new talent is fostered and given opportunities they deserve in this messy wonderful publishing industry, go give Nicole a leg up.
  • Jennifer who runs Luna Station Quarterly, who published my story "The Woman With Flowers In Her Hair" back in September last year, is working to start up an indie press. Not only will the back issues of LSQ be published in print form, but she also plans to publish ebooks and print on demand volumes of "quirky books as well as traditional novels, poetry and essay collections". Another long  term plan is to be able to pay LSQ authors for their short stories published on the site. LSQ now has a PayPal donation button, and if you'd like to see more women's voices heard in speculative fiction, have at!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sale! "In Bloom" to appear in Fantastique Unfettered

Sometimes you get it right on the first go!

I'm delighted to announce that my genderqueer fantasy story "In Bloom" has been picked up by Fantastique Unfettered for their double November issue. ETA: Here is the official announcement from FU.

FU has also featured another kiwi fantasy author and SpecFicNZ member (and my friend) Lynne Jamneck in their last issue, publishing her Sir Julius Vogel Award nominated story "Azif". FU is also a sister magazine to M-Brane SF, which published my story "Twixt" in July of last year.

I'm also especially happy that this story was picked up on it's first visit to the traps, which tells me I'm starting to "hit the sweet spot" with a story a lot easier and quicker.

And there couldn't be a more appropriate LOLCat for this story:

Every once and a while you have to stop and taste the roses

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

VA: "The Comet Rider" by Ray Whitter, Wily Writers

Adding to the list of venues I narrate for, welcome Wily Writers!

My first narration for editor Angel Leigh McCoy (who you may remember was also an author in "Tales For Canterbury" with me) is Ray Whitter's space western "The Comet Rider". Click through at the link to listen.

This narration was done in my normal New Zealand accent, so thanks Angel for allowing me to do that! I even get my own nifty profile page.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Waiting

This Writing Life includes a whole lot of waiting.

Right now, I'm waiting on responses to over a dozen submissions I have around the traps. Three of them were submitted last year, one of them to a famously slothful (though fantastic) market back in October.

While I don't fault any market for the time it takes them to do business, I feel like good stories are going to waste sitting dormant like this. And since many markets aren't receptive to simultaneous submissions it can be a juggling act. Does one let the piece languish on the slush pile in the hopes the market will eventually reply, or does one suck it up and send it out in hopes it might find another home quicker?

Querying is always a fine line to walk. How early is too early? Has the market gone into hibernation or closed down for some reason (check their blog or Twitter feed, Ralan's or Duotrope)? Has the submission been lost to the spam gods? Always be cognisant of a market's response times (Duotrope's submission tracker is excellent for this) and act accordingly. One wants to retain a good professional relationship without seeming too pushy, but once a submission hits the four, five, six, seven month mark, goes well past the allotted response time, it might be time to drop a polite note to the editors.

And I mean POLITE. One does not want to be the type turning up on "Slushpile Hell" or an editors blog as that sort of writer who thinks the editor or agent owes them something. Love your word babies, but don't love your word babies.

And while you're waiting, go write something even more awesome. Try not to hit refresh on the email inbox every five minutes. No, I don't do that at all some days...

Ah, but here is me, one famous for impatience, lecturing on patience. The business of writing can seem like a lot of hurry up and wait, and when it happens it all happens at once. "Where has your genius been for so long!" they will say, and the reply will be "plugging around the markets for years". Who can tell the when the vagaries of the art and market will point it's Eye of Sauron on one writer or another.

Just keep plugging away. Practise practise practise.

Soon?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Tales For Canterbury" makes the SJV ballot

While I haven't personally been nominated for a Sir Julius Vogel Award this year, I'm absolutely delighted that "Tales For Canterbury" has been nominated in the Best Collected Work category.

I'm very proud of the work editors Cassie Hart and Anna Caro produced in seemingly no time at all. Though it was a journey of some months post-February 22, 2011 Christchurch earthquake, it's quite incredible to think that TfC was released within four months compared to the full year to eighteen months some anthologies take to be read for, picked, packed and perfected. It's a testament to the heart, spirit and rallying around displayed by New Zealanders during a terrible time in our history. And the front cover artwork that speaks to our famous norwest wind, a "bent but not broken" spirit, and the hope represented by doves is just gorgeous!

If you haven't picked up a copy of "Tales For Canterbury" yet, there are still paperback versions available. But be quick - this book is destined to become a kiwi rarity as it is only available on limited release. Once all printed versions are gone at the end of this year no more will be printed. Plus you'll be contributing to a good cause - profits will be donated towards the Canterbury Earthquake Red Cross Appeal. Because yes, life in the middle of rubble is still ongoing down here.

"Tales For Canterbury" is a collection of speculative fiction short stories, some set on our shores, the majority of which are penned by authors from the New Zealand specfic community, including such luminaries as Helen Lowe, Juliet Marillier, Karen Healey, and Mary Victoria. It also includes international writers such as Neil Gaiman, Jay Lake, Sean Williams, Gwyneth Jones and Jeff Vandermeer. Oh, and it also includes me.

Front Cover of the Tales For Canterbury anthology,
featuring a windblown tree with doves

Friday, April 13, 2012

SJVs

Just a quick note to say I was long listed for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for "The Ten Thousand Steps" (thanks to my nominating peeps), but didn't make the final ballot.

There will always be other stories. There's always a next year.

Oh hai, aiz jus praktisin mai...well...um...not sur akshually

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Most of my thinky thoughts are turning inwards of late

Yes, I have noticed that a lot of my usual nostril flaring and red-seeing and flames-upside-the-face have been relegated to drive-by commenting or tweeting.

The tools needed for dealing with a life-changing event move in and out of the tool box on a daily basis. I realized around Christmas time I'd spent a lot of 2011 running on nervous energy and adrenaline, and if I didn't deal with that I'd turn into a bit of a wreck. I had to reset my priorities.

One of my biggest priorities is my writing. I needed the energy to focus on it. I want to be invested in issues that are meaningful to me, but my reserves of Coping Energy are somewhat depleted after the last twelve months, so something had to give. Hence, less flamination and banner waving from PT.

I haven't lost my verve for important issues, I've simply found another venue to work them out. I've turned them inwards, gone introspective, and they're coming out as good stories. I could even say it's been good therapy.

This is not to say things will continue this way. Possibly as time goes on I'll find renewed energy and coping skills that will allow me to get beyond "*flail* This sucks!" or "Amazeballs!". I do look at some of my writing heroines and marvel at how articulate they are in the face of their writing work, daily lives, and human stupidity. I want to be a wordsmith like that. They make me want to be a better person.

Words, please don't f(l)ail me now.


There's an app for flat

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Acceptance: Peeps. PEEPS. "Daughters of Icarus" want me!

My first ever Word Baby has found a home!

I'm absolutely out of my little tree with excitement that my story "Me Myself I" has been accepted for the Pink Narcissus Press anthology "Daughters of Icarus", 'a brave new world of feminist science fiction'.

MMI is the first story I wrote two years ago, and it racked up 18 rejections in that time. It goes to show that persistence, belief in vision, and the right venue makes all the difference!

Hi-five, froggeh bro!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Anniversary

Happy second anniversary PT, and happy second writing anniversary to me.

Well, here we are two years into the journey. Still no pro sale, or even a semi-pro sale, but I'm hopeful that I've made enough progress in the last year that 2012 will see something really interesting happen. And it already has, with a sale to a venue I hugely respect and a story out in a print anthology getting a nice wee bit of indie promo and chugging along on word of mouth.

I still haven't settled on any firm or long term plans to write a novel because I'm still happy writing and getting better at short stories, though my tenuous plan is to make a pro sale or three, join SFWA, and reconsider. I'm not doing this for the money yet - I didn't even come close to making $100 last year on my writing.

I'm not feeling the panic of "approaching 40 and haven't achieved something" any more. I feel like I've achieved something with my baby steps and network connections I've been establishing, and stories I've written and fallen in love with. Plus I'm getting a huge sense of satisfaction of finally doing something I really love. I just wish satisfaction paid the mortgage!

As far as rejections go, I've now stopped counting. I'm up around the 150 mark now, pretty impressive for 2 years work! I just keep rolling the stories out, and a rejection doesn't prickle any more. Well, maybe just a little, if it's a market I'd really like to break or a story I really believe in. All my stories are my babies, but some are more favourites than others. Oh, do not turn on me now, wayward children!

And so I carry on carrying on.


I finnisht ur novel..and ur donuts

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Round The Traps 27/03/2012

  • Christchurch fantasy writer Helen Lowe's latest book "The Gathering of The Lost" has been released! She's currently doing giveaways and a blog tour. GotL is the sequel to "The Heir of Night", and is the second book to be released in Lowe's Wall of Night trilogy.
  • Australian author Jennifer Mills has written a brilliant piece entitled "On Books and Gender" regarding her participation in the Australian Women Writers challenge.
    It is not possible to be gender blind. It is only possible to interrogate the judgements that you make about gender, and the way that gender operates in your decision-making, and try to account for it. As a queer woman I am well aware of the subtle (questioning, pigeonholing, jokes) and not-so subtle (violent assault, discrimination) ways society has of policing gender. Gender essentialism doesn’t just punish the freaks, though. It stereotypes everybody. It might be everyday, assumed in many contexts, embedded in the language, but like racism, just because we are used to it, doesn’t mean it is right or natural.
  • Recently YA author Karen Healey (ex-NZ, now living in Australia) did research into gendered criticism of authors. In "Shock: Researching hatred makes me angry" she discovered that though criticism is evenly split between the genders, the language used to criticize female is more personally vituperative.
  • Please excuse me for linking to Jezebel (they're on my shit list of feminist sites) but this stuff makes me so angry: "Racist Hunger Games Fans Are So Very Angry". This ties into a bigger picture of racist assholes 'not seeing colour' or being able to see PoC as good people.
  • Still on the topic of the Hunger Games (I have not yet either read the book or seen the movie, but the word of mouth is so huge I'm taking notice), here's one to make the Fat Activist and recently published "FGIASL" author absolutely FROTH AT THE MOUTH: "Hunger Games star 'too big' for role". There's a lot to be said about the sexism, racism and sizeism swirling around Hunger Games: a popular book written by a woman, with a female protagonist, major female and PoC characters, turned into a box office smash. Anything to cut women's success and story telling power down to size, yeah?