Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting Published

There has been an interesting discussion going on at Nicola Morgan's Help! I Need a Publisher! blog on whether a publisher will accept an older author who lives in an isolated area. This leads to a much wider issue that applies equally to both young and old because both suffer the same problems from living in isolated places as do others of any age group.

The discussion started from a post on Catdownunder's blog where she described a meeting (at a party) with an unnamed publisher. Cat was introduced to the publisher as a writer – and, since she is a sensible, well-mannered writer, she avoided the subject of how to get published and stuck to social chit chat. Later the publisher came back to her and offered some advice. He told her in effect that she had no chance of being published because she was too old and lived in an isolated area (in this case Adelaide, the capital of South Australia). Apparently publishers like writers who are young and will produce multiple books, not just one or two. Even if the book is outstanding no-one would be interested because an author has to put in other work like publicity. They have to be able to go out into retail centres and schools and do book signings – and Cat would not be able to do book-signings in any case. I have no idea why he assumed this.

Now I don't know how old Cat is and I really don't care but the casual assumption that she is not a worthwhile investment bothers me – a lot. You see I know of a number of writers who have had their first books published when they were over fifty and are still writing well past what would be retirement age in other employment. Some of these writers have produced ten or more books since their first publication and many also live in isolated parts of the world (I'm assuming isolated means away from major publishing centres) They do publicize their work. They use media interviews, writing associations, websites, Facebook pages, tweets and blogs to keep in contact with their public. They visit schools and bookshops, take up writing residencies, travel to writers' festivals, genre related conventions and conferences in their hometowns and anywhere else they think might be useful, and they do book signings at home and all over the globe. They are nominated for and win major awards in their writing area.

I also know other authors (both young and old), who do none of these things. They write their books, acquire agents or publishers, send their manuscripts off and that's the limit of their involvement. They may be living in isolated places or they may live in a major city. Either way their publishers and agents may never see them. They still sell. They still win awards.

Although this discussion was sparked by the comments of a publisher to an older writer, the issues of isolation are just as relevant to others. Let's say you are a twenty year old full-time student (who is also working because you have to fund your studies – but that's an issue to talk about on another day) living in Perth, Western Australia (We like to describe our city as the most isolated capital city in the world. Look at a map and you'll see why.). Does this mean you will be excluded from consideration by an agent or publisher? You won't be available for book signings, school visits, etc etc? Maybe you are a forty something working mother or you have a disability that precludes you from travelling. Will you be able to do all the things listed by the publisher? If not does that mean your novel, even if it is good enough, will never be published?

So what do you think? Is this just the opinion of one man or is it the view of the industry? Do the old, middle-aged, disabled, isolated or young for different reasons have to abandon their hopes of publication? And if they do who exactly is going to provide the fiction of the future?

Ebook Availability | Trudi Canavan

Trudi Canavan begins to examine the eBook issue as an author with a whole bunch of trilogies out there. Very interesting notes about availability of eBooks and which stores stock what.

Ebook Availability | Trudi Canavan

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Business Rusch

I don't remember where I came across the link to Kristine Rusch's blog but I'm very glad I did. This site is packed with information for writers, not the usual crafting and skills teaching, but the business side of being a writer. She is currently doing a series of posts on the way the publishing world is changing due to the rapid emergence of e-publishing, and while it is based on US publishing the general principles are useful to anyone.

There is much more as well. I have just spent hours looking at posts on international travel hints and other aspects of the writing business - and the comments are as fascinating as the posts. Just one thing, the link to the table of contents only lists some of the Changing Times posts - there are fifteen so far - so it will pay to look through the blog to find the other posts.

Among other things her book The Freelancer's Survival Guide is up on the website. Despite what is said in the introduction it is also now available e-published and in print.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Five Things We Learned At Clarion

Five things people have learned at Clarions. All of this is fabulous, fabulous advice. If you;ve ever wanted to write better, learn more cratf, or considered going to Clarion, Clarion West or Clarion South, then this is well worth a read! 

Five Things We Learned At Clarion, Part 1 � Clarion Blog

Five Things We Learned at Clarion, Part 2 � Clarion Blog

Joanna Fay to be Published in Elf Love by Pink Narcissus!

Fantastic news for Joanna Fay fans! Joanna is spreading her wings further afield and is being published in the up and coming anthology Elf Love by Pink Narcissus Press!

Pink Narcissus says...

image by Duncan Eagleson
Tales of lust, betrayal, murder and... elves.
20 original stories enchant, intrigue, and delight as they explore the theme of "Elf Love" in a variety of genres: fantasy, suspense, romance, noir, humor, and much more.
Edited by Josie Brown, Rose Mambert, and Bill Racicot, this one-of-a-kind collection features stories by Jon Bishop, Michelle Markey Butler, Rev Di Certo, Ed Cooke, Duncan Eagleson, Sarah Eaton, Joanna Fay, Athena Giles, Michael Takeda, Juniper Talbot, Otilia Tena, James Thibeault, and David Vernaglia.
Cover design and illustration by Duncan Eagleson.

Her story Feather Fall is so exciting it's the inspiration for the cover! Elf Love is available via mail order for only $14.95 USD.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Discipline and how to Make It Happen!

This is a rather excellent article which spells out exactly how to be disciplined, determined, and awesome!

Key points - if you're not that interested, you won't MAKE TIME. I see this as telling us to be aware of what makes us passionate, and to BE passionate and enjoy it to the fullest extent.

We're all here because we are passionate about writing, and sometimes we need a little help to remind us HOW to do what we love. This is a fantastic article which can help people to get back on track when it comes to writing.

HELLO, my name is BLOG!: If You Still Can’t Discipline Yourself After Reading This Article, I Swear to God I’m Going to Scream

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ticonderoga Responds

Further to Monday's post which linked to Peter M Ball's "rant" regarding the guidelines of Ticonderoga's proposed anthology, Darkest Hour edited by Angela Challis, Russell B Farr outlines his non-discriminatory editorial philosophy here and announces the removal of above-mentioned guidelines from Ticonderoga's website here.

Spelling Reform

The English language is a bastard, a hybrid from the mating of a Germanic tongue with a Latinate one. And ever since the Norman invasion, it has, as James D. Nicoll puts it “...pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

This bastardry given us one of the richest and most subtle languages on earth. There are few true synonyms in English. But when it comes to spelling this glorious language, we are in trouble. There have been many attempts to instigate spelling reform, and only one, to my knowledge, was ever taken up – that of the American lexicographer Noah Webster in the late C18. Webster was a clever man, but he largely wanted change for its own sake as part of the republicanisation of America. In changing the spelling, he made the difficult task of learning to pronounce English words even harder. Any child of native-speaking parents outside the USA learns, for example, that –ll in a word shortens the previous vowel, while a single –l followed by an e makes the vowel “say its own name”. Thus the American spelling “canceled” looks as if it should be pronounced “can-sealed” to any English speaker not educated in an American dialect.

Even so, one problem with changing spelling (apart from the fact that no two authorities would agree on the extent and nature of the changes) is that pronunciation is constantly changing, and can be vastly different in different areas of the English-speaking world. One of the reasons is that a lot of people have never been taught the few rules that should work universally (well, almost!) such as the accent going on the ante-penultimate syllable. So at present we have people pronouncing, for instance, in'tegral as integ'ral, and ex'quisite as exquis'ite. These are two that have changed even in my lifetime of 67 years, and I'm sure there are many more. My mother told me that she had seen many other changes – when she was young (pre WWI) for example, surveillance was pronounced surveyance, in the French manner. From there it went through a stage of being pronounced surveilyance and thence to our modern pronunciation. Likewise with Parliament - educated people when my mum was a girl used to say pah'ley-ament.

And what would we do with all the foreign words that find their way into our language each year? As soon as they are introduced we change the pronunciation to suit ourselves, despite the best efforts of linguists to match symbol to sound as closely as possible. So, for example, the Pin Yin Qi is invariably pronounced, and often spelt, Chi.

If we change spelling to match current pronunciation then the new spelling will be outdated within a century and will just have to be changed again. When it comes to spelling reform, you’re damned if you do (you risk ruining the existing rules of pronunciation, as Webster did) and damned if you don’t (you change spelling to match pronunciation and the pronunciation changes anyway).

Spelling reform is a contentious issue and many will disagree with my stance. But the system we have works fine. So the written language is not a true representation of the spoken variety - so what? This is true of most languages, and in the case of Chinese, for example, the written word is a unifying factor for the many different spoken forms. Written English meets the same purpose. Speakers of broad Yorkshire, Australian English or Texan English may not understand each other in face to face conversation, but our wonderful written language means they can all read and enjoy the same books. Even when they are written in American English:-).

When the Rump is Wrong!

"How do I fix my ending?" It'a certainly a cry I have made! A short story I am working on right now, in fact, made me wail and scream about the ending. I wish I had read this article a week ago! Instead, I felt my way backwards, tap tap tapping my way to see where the fault lay, and then spacking the whole and rewriting the ending. In an unconscious way, I did what Nancy suggests. But golly I wish it had been conscious! Much less whining from me then!
Nancy's Blog: Update

Monday, January 24, 2011

Peter M Ball has a LOT to say...

Actually, fuck it, I’m ranting |

Summary: A local publisher puts out a call for submissions asking for 'masculine' tones. Peter explains why this is mysogynistic, embarrassing and actively discourages people from submitting.

Update: Ticonderoga responds here and announces removal of Darkest Hour's guidelines here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Volunteering tourism is a fast growing trend - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

I always want to travel. Here's some thoughts that maybe voluntouring isn't such a good idea. It's an interesting discussion. I find the reasons in the article a bit wishy washy. I'm hoping to go with such a programme myself one day, but I'd like to spend a year somewhere else rather than just a few weeks.

Volunteering tourism is a fast growing trend - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Twelfth Planet Press Announcement: The Twelve Planets

girlie jones - Twelfth Planet Press Announcement: The Twelve Planets


Alisa has finally announced her twelve planets and what STELLAR collections it's going to be!

Who Are the Twelve Planets?

Margo Lanagan, Lucy Sussex, Rosaleen Love, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Deborah Biancotti, Kaaron Warren, Cat Sparks, Sue Isle,
Kirstyn McDermott, Narrelle M Harris, Thoraiya Dyer, Stephanie Campisi.

What Are the Twelve Planets?

The Twelve Planets are twelve boutique collections by some of Australia's finest short story writers. Varied across genre and style, each collection will offer four short stories and a unique glimpse into worlds fashioned by some of our favourite storytellers. Each author has taken the brief of 4 stories and up to 40 000 words in their own direction. Some are quartet suites of linked stories. Others are tasters of the range and style of the writer. Each release will bring something unexpected to our subscriber's mailboxes.

When Are the Twelve Planets

The Twelve Planets will spread over 2011 and 2012, with six books released between February and November each year.
The first three titles will be Nightsiders by Sue Isle (March), Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts (May) and the third collection will be by Lucy Sussex (July).

How to Receive the Twelve Planets

The Twelve Planets will be available for purchase in several ways:

Single collections will be priced at $20/$23 International each including postage. A season's pass will offer the three collections of the season for $50/$65 International including postage and each sent out on release.
Full subscriptions to the series are $180/$215 International including postage and each sent out on release.

More information relating to upgrades, ebooks and distribution will be made available in due course.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Science in My What??

Science in my Science Fiction!

Science fiction is fiction where the main plot elements are derived from scientific elements. A lot of space opera is actually other genres in science fiction clothing, however this website is here to help aspiring science fiction authors to put their science where their plot is!

This website shows some of the coolest things going on in science right now, and also helps to critique and examine the uses of science in fiction.  "The purpose of the Science in My Fiction blog is to get science fiction and fantasy writers and fans thinking ahead of science again. Playful bloggers will take a look at recent scientific developments and extrapolate potential futures from them. SiMF will update Mondays and Fridays (for now; possibly more in the future). This is a fight for survival of the fiction. It's time to seize culture and do science to it!"


Dead Red Heart anthology

Take a look at this stunningly dark and bloodied cover for the upcoming anthology of Australian vampire stories, Dead Red Heart, from Ticonderoga Press, to be released in April, 2011.
Hmm, I might be reading this is small doses, and not too late at night! Looking at the line-up of authors, I'm sure there will be great diversity, and some interesting and novel takes on the concept of 'vampire'.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jim C. Hines - Arguing Book Piracy

Jim has posted a rebuttal to the Saundra Mitchell post I linked to a few days ago. Nice to see a discussion happening!

Check it out!

Jim C. Hines - Arguing Book Piracy

Dead Red Heart Table of Contents Announced!

Featuring our very own Joanna Fay! It's a busy year for Joanna already! Stay tuned for more posts of her next publications coming soon! Plus as an added bonus, Carol Ryles is one of the contributors to "The Tide," a collaborative story headed by Martin Livings.

Ticonderoga Publications has announced the exciting table of contents for Dead Red Heart, a collection of Australian vampire stories. 32 stories, 130 thousand words of vampiric awesomeness.

"The Tide", Martin Livings, Carol Ryles, Lezli Robyn, Kaaron Warren, Patty Jansen, Alan Baxter, Devin Jeythurai, Felicity Dowker, Andrew J McKiernan, Gillian Pollack, Chuck McKenzie, Peter Kempshall.
"Mutiny on the Scarborough", Shona Husk
"Sun Falls", Angela Slatter
"Such is Life", Jeremy Sadler
"Apolotoi", Chris Lawson
"Punishment of the Sun", Alan Baxter
"Red Delicious", Felicity Dowker
"Just a Matter of Economics", Yvonne Eve Walu
"Quarantine", Patty Jansen
"Out of the Grave", Amanda Pillar
"Desert Blood", Marty Young
"Thin Air", Simon Brown
"Kissed by the Sun", Jodi Cleghorn
"Black Heart", Joanna Fay
"Renfield's Wife", Damon Cavalcini
"Listening to Tracy", Jen White
"Breaking the Drought", Jay Caselberg
"Children of the Cane", Jason Nahrung
"The Sea at Night", Joanne Anderton
"Sky in the Morning", Sonia Marcon
"Taking it for the Team", Tracie McBride
"All that Glisters", Pete Kempshall
"The Rider", Martin Livings
"Vitality", George Ivanoff
"Coming Home", Kathryn Hore
"The Little Red Man", Ray Gates
"Deathborn Light", Helen Stubbs
"The Life Stealer", Donna Maree Hanson
"Behind the Black Mask", Jacob Edwards
"Interview with the Jiangshi", Anne Mok
"White and Red in the Black", Lisa L Hannett
"Lady Yang's Lament", Penelope Love

Sarah P

Book Origami | Recyclart

Something new to do with old books. (No, not burning!)

Book Origami | Recyclart

Jim C. Hines - Fact-checking the E-Revolution

Jim Hines has a few things to say about the J A Konrath blog I have been reading, which I thought was very timely! Jim's article is cautious and thoughtful about the way that we want eBooks to succeed - but we need realfacts and no cheerleading to see how the E-volution is going. I got the same feeling from the Konrath blog as I read through it, so it's good to see someone with a bit more clout, interest and facts behind them to be saying the same thing!

Jim C. Hines - Fact-checking the E-Revolution

Monday, January 17, 2011

E-readers 'too easy' to read - Telegraph

A lot of people forget that sometimes the packaging of a text is just as important as the text itself. This article talks about a possibility that because eReaders make texts so much easier to read, that the unconscious parts of our brains assumes the text is less important as it took less work to read.

An interesting position to take!

E-readers 'too easy' to read - Telegraph

I wonder if there are any studies on the attractiveness or beauty of a text and its comprehension and perceived difficulty of reading are related. It would be a fascinating thing to research!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Grumble Thrum Collective

Got some doubts? Got some worries? Got some issues?

As writers we all have doubts, issues and worries, and ways of getting around them. One of the more interesting and inventive ways I have come across lately is seeing each of these as monsters, to be talked to and possible enlisted in your great goal.

Havi Brooks has a few words to say about the topic, and addresses her own monsters for our amusement and self development.

I think this is a fantastic way to explore your fears and worries, and one of the least threatening ways of doing so. In aid of the de-frightening of these monsters, she's also produced a colouring-in book to help us get past our own barriers, and have fun while doing so. Play is an important part of learning, creating, and self development, and I want one of these books right now!

I shall have to add it to my wish list!


Friday, January 14, 2011

WA's micropress scene thrives - The West Australian

Here's a rather awesome review of the current state of independent press in Australia. One thing to add though - Twelfth Planet Press has actually won a slew of Australian awards, for publishing short stories by authors such as Trent Jamieson for "Cracks" in Shiny, which won an Aurealis Award, "The Sun People" from Shiny #2 by Sue Isle which won a Tin Duck for Best Professional Work (2008), "2012" won Best Professional Production Tin Duck (2009),  plus Alisa's work elsewhere with ASiF and Last Short Story have also been awarded numerous times. Twelfth Planet Press and Deb Biancotti also won a Shadows Award for the story "Six Suicides" in the anthology A Book Of Endings. (2009)

WA's micropress scene thrives - The West Australian

Thursday, January 13, 2011

dragonkat @ LJ - Queensland Floods -Fundraising Appeal

Tehani Wessley of FableCroft Publishing fame is releasing a limited edition eBook version of her newest anthology "After The Rain" as a fundraising mechanism to help the victims of the Queensland floods.

dragonkat @ LJ - Queensland Floods - fundraising

Check out the Fablecroft post to buy your copy now!

Saundra Mitchell's Thoughts on Illegal Torrenting of Books

"Free" Books Aren't Free

Making Stuff Up for a Living: The Blog

Personally I think the publishing industry is in flux right now. Interesting times ahead! I do not believe we will EVER leave paper and ink print books behind. The new future will have to incorporate more forms of text dissemation, not hoard the current styles.

Saundra's post is excellent because she is up front with her sales and her income from her novel(s), and also up front about the career choices she has faced and how she feels the illegal downloads affects those choices. It's an interesting contrast to some of the other blogs I have been reading.

Sarah P

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements

Do you write Fantasy?

Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine is putting out a call for submissions.

The first Issue Theme is 'Rumpelstiltskin' and submissions open on the 21st of February and close on February 24th. Stories and Poetry is welcome. Enchanted Conversations has also kindly provided details for their next deadline too, which is Issue Two, Poetry Only and "Snow White."

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Submission to Filament Magazine

Do you write Erotica?

Filament Magazine is running a competition for Issue 8 of their Magazine, with the theme of 'Water.'

First Prize is  £100 and publication in Issue 8, and two second prizes are awarded of £50 pounds and publication in Issue 8.

Terms and conditions are here! Filament Magazine is devoted to the Female Gaze. If you don't know what that is, or don't know what it means, this might not be for you!

Submissions are due by the 31st of January


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Writing Emotion

Writing emotion is not as easy at it sounds. There are, after all, only so many times a writer can describe a point-of-view character’s body language and physiology before it all starts to sound repetitive. There are a limited number of ways a character’s heart can race when confronted with danger, and a limited number of variations on a shrug or caught breath or sigh. Too much gut churning or bile swallowing and the scene reads like an attack of histrionics.

When writers accomplish their first million words of fiction, chances are they have written down every possible combination of body language. They realise that, although each one is useful in its place, not one is guaranteed to convey a sense of emotion on its own.

So how do writers make readers feel the fear or love or anger that their point-of-view characters are going through? Is it all in the character? Or is it also in the plot, dialogue, setting and tone? Is attention to detail merely a way of making the tale appear authentic? Or do details function at some other level, triggering emotional switches in ways that are both subtle and effective?

To explore this question, I set myself a little exercise. I wrote an action scene from scratch, developing it over five different drafts. First I concentrated on plot, and then I incorporated body language/physiology, and then dialogue, setting, details and tone.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Take 1: Starting with Plot:

While taking a photo, Toby lost his footing and stumbled down the escarpment.

Take 2: Incorporating Body Language and physiology:

Toby inched forward and took the photo. He cried out as he lost his footing. He dropped his camera and scrabbled to catch hold of anything that could slow his descent. He yelped as his arms flailed without success. He slammed into a tree trunk. Pain seared through his right thigh. His vision darkened.

Take 3: Incorporating Dialogue:

Toby inched forward and took the photo.

“Watch out,” Krista shouted.

Toby cried out as he lost his footing. He dropped his camera and scrabbled to slow his descent. Stupid, stupid, stupid, he thought. He yelped as his arms flailed without success etc…

Take 4: Incorporating Setting:

The edge was unstable, but the view of the wooded, coastal plain beneath it was worth the risk. Toby inched forward, and took the photo.

“Watch out,” Krista shouted.

The ground slid beneath Toby’s feet. He cried out as he lost his footing and fell an entire body length before landing in gravel. He dropped his camera and scrabbled to slow his descent. Stupid, stupid, stupid, he thought. Branches and twigs blurred out of reach. Stones skidded beneath him, scraping, bruising, accelerating his fall. He saw the tree only seconds before he reached it, an old, twisted Mallee. Yelping, he veered away from it, but his leg hit it full on. Pain seared through his thigh. His vision darkened.

Take 5: Incorporating Details and Tone:

Toby knew the edge was unstable. He inched forward at just the right angle and pressed the shutter release. Old fashioned photography with its film speeds and f-stops may well have taken him weeks to master but, at that moment, he knew he'd gotten everything right. His photo of the coastal plain with its tangled forest would be stunning, not because of some pre-programmed setting, but because of choices he’d made himself. It would win him the prize, maybe even earn him the publication he was aiming for.

“Watch out,” Krista shouted.

The ground slid beneath Toby’s feet. He lost his footing, cried out and fell an entire body length before landing on gravel. Stones skidded beneath him, scraping, bruising, accelerating his slide down the face of the escarpment. He dropped his camera and scrabbled for a handhold. Stupid, stupid, stupid, he thought. Branches and twigs blurred out of reach; except for the Mallee tree that looked old enough and stubborn enough to block a tornado. Yelping, he tried to veer around it, but his leg hit the tree full on. Pain darkened his vision. He caught a final glimpse of his camera, broken in two – film spooling out like ribbon – tumbling down the slope, overtaking him.

Admittedly the fifth piece still needs work, and if it were a real story, I’d let it sit for a few weeks before getting back to it. But it’s just an exercise, so I’m going to stop here, hoping that it shows some of what I’ve learned about incorporating emotion into my stories. Here, I purposely avoided words that *told* emotion, and instead tried to *show* it in the details and in Toby's ambition to get that photo just right. The addition of the symbol of the broken camera mirrored the broken leg (which the reader will learn about in the next scene) and also added an element of disappointment and irony to an already unpleasant situation. Furthermore, I’m hoping that the image of the film unspooling, and destroying the photo, will show the final insult that made Toby’s pain transcend the physical.

But this is just my own attempt at writing emotion. It’s certainly not the best example, and master writers are much better at it. Click here for an excerpt from Jeanette Winterson's novel The Passion where the perfect amount of showing is balanced with the perfect amount of telling to convey the tension and horror of a gambling match ending badly.

If you have any other thoughts on writing emotion, your comments are most welcome.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Making Light - How to Get Published

Jim McDonald from Making Light fame published this rather useful guide to getting published.

It's a very handy little guide, and probably one of the most honest ones I have seen. I like to read this sort of thing! It's quite serious in the step by step approach and of course - the fact that it all takes a lot of time, sweat, tears and rejection to get a publication under your belt. Have a read, and read it often.