Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements

Do you write Fantasy?

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

The second Issue Theme is 'Snow White' and submissions open on May 11th and close May 14th. This issue is Poetry only. Enchanted Conversations has also kindly provided details for their next deadline too, which is Issue Three, Poetry and stories, and "Cinderella"

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements


You’re Not a Thing: 10 Anti-Insanity Tips for Writers � Sarah Ockler, Author

I don't think this article needs a summary at all... the title says it! 

You’re Not a Thing: 10 Anti-Insanity Tips for Writers � Sarah Ockler, Author

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Finding the Balance

Reading Kristin Jantz's post on first drafts (see the previous post - thankyou Carol) along with a great collection of responses, on the official Clarion blog, makes me think about how many different pathways there are for writers in terms of their 'process' when it comes to drafting. Some express a preference - or need - for getting down an entire first draft, without interrupting the flow of the creative 'right brain', then working back through with 'left brain' edits and revisions. Others take the painstaking route of editing every paragraph as they go, since they find the process of 'mass editing' very heavy going. Others look for a middle road of light editing/tweaking during the first draft's progress, but without being exacting enough to really pull it to a halt, and then come back with major edits and revisions once the draft is complete.

Personally, as I've been cultivating a more aware 'craft' of writing over the last couple of years, what I've noticed is distinct differences in my approach depending on the nature of what I'm writing, and also how that approach is shifting, with time and experience. Poems, which are highly condensed and focussed creatures, hit the page/screen pretty much fully formed via stream of consciousness. With poetry, more than any other form, I find it vital not to interrupt the flow of words, lines, bite-sized phrases...and I find the less interrupted that flow is during writing, the less editing I need to do at the end, if any.

With short stories, this applies to some extent. Flash fiction I've tended to treat as a 'prose poem' in terms of writing-state-of-mind; it's still small enough to treat as stream of consciousness with little effort. And again, the post-op editing tends to be minimal. A longer length short story takes a slightly different approach. Character and plot, by necessity, take on a more substantial presence, and require more thought in terms of how they play out in the overall story arc. What I'm finding is that as my writing confidence grows, and less focus needs to be given to my starting point problems of style (particularly the tendency to overwrite!), stories of up to 5000 words or so, which would have taken days, if not weeks, to get down and then edit, revise, and re-edit, are materialising with greater ease and fewer edits and revisions.

Currently, I'm drafting in one or two sittings, allowing myself to edit as I go, up to a point. If my mind starts to tighten up about a particular element, whatever it is, I either let it go and keep writing (knowing I'll revisit it later) or sit back and ask the character/s involved what the problem is....because sometimes it can be an indication that the initial plot concept is asking for a change. And if I can give myself the space to stop and sort it out at this precise point where it feels like I've hit a 'hump', then it can save doing an awful lot of work at the end.

This approach has now filtered across to the novels, and they are benefiting from it. I'm allowing myself to tweak - but only a little - during the first draft, then at the end of each scene go back and do a light edit. This gives my 'right brain' time to relax, refresh, recharge for the next onslaught of intoxicating inspiration (yes, I *love* first drafting), and stops my 'left brain' from getting bored and grumbling in the background.

The combination approach seems to be working for me; each day I have the same level of pleasure and excitement about my 'writing time' (which varies, depending on Real Life). And if the flow has to be interrupted mid-scene, leaving it mid-sentence helps me to jump straight back into the action again. If the interruption is prolonged, then just re-reading the scene in progress is usually enough to get the flow going again. I am also happy not be faced with a mountain of rewriting/editing at the end of the draft (though that, of course, can happen, if I decide a major element needs to change). However, the combined writing/soft editing road seems to be creating a balance that works for me, at this stage in my writing journey at least.

What are your experiences? Do you have one approach that works for you all the time, across the board? Or are you experimenting with different processes, maybe different processes with different forms of writing? Has your approach evolved over time?
Whatever it is, remember to keep it fun. And if you're not having fun with it, that too might be a signal for change.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kristin Jantz talks about Crafting the Draft

Clarion people are running a series on the craft of writing over on their official blog. Clarion West 2008 graduate, Kristin Jantz, talks about ways of approaching first drafting.

The entire Writer's Craft series can be viewed here


Monday, February 21, 2011

GOOD Design Daily: Do You Double Space After Periods? - Design - GOOD - StumbleUpon

This article was interestign because of the discussion it created, when realistically, the article was written to put the matter to rest!

I learnt to write on a typewriter, and my first few novels were typed up on the clunky old things too. But I don't even remember losing the double spacing urge.

GOOD Design Daily: Do You Double Space After Periods? - Design - GOOD - StumbleUpon

With A Little Help: The Early Returns

Cory reports on how his self publishing venture went. Some good things, some bad things, some fascinating figures... and lessons for future attempts.

With A Little Help: The Early Returns

Sci-Fi's Cory Doctorow Separates Self-Publishing Fact From Fiction : All Tech Considered : NPR

This is a rather timely article given discussion on the Egoboo mailing list! Also with the recent issues with book shops across the world, we're looking into a very different future when it comes to publishing. Cory has a lot to say about self-publishing!

Sci-Fi's Cory Doctorow Separates Self-Publishing Fact From Fiction : All Tech Considered : NPR

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing Strong Women

For a variety of viewpoints on writing strong women, check out Mary Victoria's website here and here for posts by guest writers:

Saladin Ahmed, Phillipa Ballantine, Karaan Warren, Helen Lowe, Nicole Murphy, Gillian Polack, Glenda Larke, Kim Falconer and Tim Jones.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Drawing Board (blog): Dare to be Foolish

This is a great post by Terri Windling that talks about creativity, what it means, and ways of fostering it sustainably.

One of the quotes that Terri refers to in her post:

"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself," says Heimel. "There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap."

The Drawing Board (blog): Dare to be Foolish

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Text Publishing Prize

Entry forms for the Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing, an annual prize awarded for an outstanding unpublished manuscript by an Australian or New Zealand writer, are now available - and it doesn't matter whether you are published or not. The submission period doesn't start until 2 May 2011 so you've time to polish up your manuscript. Go here for details.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Market Insights: Douglas Cohen, Realms of Fantasy � Clarion Blog

Douglas Chen talks about the experiences he has had with Realms of Fantasy. RoF has had some troubled times lately, but like the phoenix, it continues to rise again. 

Market Insights: Douglas Cohen, Realms of Fantasy � Clarion Blog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Write Daily (or Meet Whatever Writing Goal You Set) More Easily - WritingSpirit Blog

More helpful advice on how to write daily, and meet any goal you like to set. It helps to remain focused and to be aware - aware of your own needs, the needs of those around you (work or family or pets) as well as have a PLAN.

A big goal is a brilliant thing to have, but how do we achieve it? By lots of little steps.

How to Write Daily (or Meet Whatever Writing Goal You Set) More Easily - WritingSpirit Blog

Monday, February 7, 2011

HorrorScope: Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival: January 2011 edition

Find out what's new and up to date with the most recent Aus Spec Fic Carnival! Check it out. Carol's post on Writing Emotion made it in, and so did Kaitlyn Fall for her post about turning F*it into Effort!

HorrorScope: Australian Speculative Fiction Blog Carnival: January 2011 edition

Burn Bright trailer/Tara Moss In Conversation | Marianne de Pierres

Burn Bright trailer/Tara Moss In Conversation | Marianne de Pierres: "

Marianne says: "Random House released the Burn Bright trailer."

Congratulations to Marianne! Can't wait to see the book!

Swancon36 � Natcon Fifty Short Story competition

Swancon36 � Natcon Fifty Short Story competition:

"Natcon Fifty Short Story competition

Sponsored by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation
Entries are now open for the Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty Short Story competition, proudly sponsored in 2011 by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation.


OPEN: 1st prize $250 | 2nd prize $150
JUNIOR: (18 and under): 1st prize $100 | 2nd prize $50

Stories must be submitted as an RTF or Word (doc.) attachment by email to Tehani Wessely.

Entry is free for the JUNIOR category. Entry to the OPEN category is free for Swancon Thirty Six | Natcon Fifty members. and $10 per story for non-members. (Day members are eligible for free entry.) Limit of two entries per person.

THEME: Historical futures
CLOSING DATE: Friday April 1, 2011
OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS: Stories must be between 1000 and 3500 words to be eligible. Works must be unpublished and must not have previously won any other awards, nor be under consideration by any other market or competition.

The judges reserve the right to present no awards should there not be enough quality entries. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into."

Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Awards 2011

Are you an Australian resident with a speculative fiction short story sitting on your computer? Entries for the KSP Speculative Fiction Awards are now open. It encompasses all forms of speculative fiction and with $600 for first prize, $300 for second and $175 or third in the Open section plus Young Writers prizes it's worth entering. Entry forms and conditions are available from the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre website

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Interview With Chris Lynch of Tangled Bank Press

Chris Lynch runs Tangled Bank Press. He is also a writer and graduate of Clarion South. He dropped by to answer a few questions prior to the launch of the print version of the anthology, The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution, which is also available as an e-book.

Welcome, Chris.

Tell us a little about yourself. When did you first realise you were a writer?

I've still got one of my picture books from primary school (about a war between cats and mice). But I didn't decide to be a writer until Clarion South, and that was probably more significant.

What was the first book you remember falling in love with?

The Wishing Tree by Ruth Chew. I've still got a tattered copy somewhere (tape is all that's holding it together), but haven't read it for over 20 years, since I have a sneaking suspicion it won't hold up well. I think it was probably well-structured narratively.

You are both a writer and a publisher. Which is dearest to your heart?

Definitely writing. Publishing is a means to getting out writing on subjects that I want to read about.

What has been your most exciting writing success?

Getting published in Dreaming Again (edited by Jack Dann), along with many of the best Australian speculative fiction writers. I co-wrote the story This is My Blood with Ben Francisco at Clarion South.

My first collection of poetry in Brisbane New Voices 2, is out later this month and is also something I'm very excited about.

As a Clarion South graduate how did you find the experience? What were the main things you learned there?

Clarion South was fantastic. I made life-long friends, wrote and wrote and pulled apart story after story, and learnt loads about the craft of writing. Writing is a solitary activity, and it was immensely validating to be surrounded by people interested in talking about plot structure and characterisation and words day in and day out for six weeks. As for the main thing I learned, it was pretty simple: Writers write. Persistence is crucial. Athletes train every day, and writers need to as well. Clarion was a boot camp--it gave me the fitness and the tools to go back out into the world and attack my writing with more confidence.

(Applications for Clarion South 2012 are now open, by the way.)

You started Tangled Bank Press in 2009. What inspired you to start it? What are your long term goals for the press?

The inspiration was mostly the idea for the anthology. But I was also studying Writing, Editing, and Publishing at university and interested in exploring what I was learning about publishing.
Long-term, I'd like to continue to put out occasional books with interesting themes, and explore different kinds of publishing models.

You are launching the print version The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution on Darwin Day, 12 February, 2011. What made you decide on Darwinian evolution as the theme for the anthology?

I have a degree in ecology and have always been interested in evolution. 2009 was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species, and the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth. Culturally the publication of Origin of Species in 1859 was a significant milestone in human history--an explanation of how life, including humans, has changed over millions of years. Also, far more knowledgeable people than myself, including Gardner Dozois and Brian Stableford (who contributed a story to The Tangled Bank), have argued that the theory of evolution gave us the sense of deep time that allowed science fiction to develop and flourish. I thought there would definitely be speculative fiction anthology of some kind, but as the year wore on I couldn't find one. So I decided to do one myself. As it turned out, there were a couple of other projects, but I think The Tangled Bank adds something to the mix.

What was your favourite part of developing the anthology?

Putting together the Table of Contents. It was like a complex three-dimensional puzzle. I ended up structuring the book around Sean Williams's haiku series, which itself was structured around the chapters of Origin of Species and cleverly used Darwin's own words to mirror the evolution of the haiku form. (If that doesn't make sense, I've just posted an interview with Sean on the TBP website that explains all.) I'm really pleased with how the Table of Contents turned out: I think the stories, poetry, essay, and artwork are in a real conversation with each other. My aim with the anthology was to get a feel for what 'evolution' means to us in the early 21st century, and I hope I've gone at least part way to achieving that.

What was your least favourite part?

Typesetting. It's laborious, intricate, and unforgiving. But I have a new-found respect for typographers.

Would you do it all again?

Yes. I've learned a lot from The Tangled Bank, and it would be a shame not to put that experience to good use.

What publicity event are you looking forward to most?

Giving away three print copies of the book. All you need to do is tell us your favourite evolutionary adaptation (real or imagined) in 50 words or less. The details are on the website.

There are also chances to win copies of the e-book by following @thetangledbank on Twitter.

What is your next project?

I've got several of my own writing projects that need attending to, including a travel book about walking the length of Japan, a poetry manuscript, and a couple of novels. I'd like to get those done before tackling another anthology.

You made a decision to publish your first anthology as an e-book following it up later with a print version. Any particular reason?

Various reasons. The initial decision to publish as an e-book was partly due to cost (from the beginning I wanted to include colour artwork), partly a means to learning about an aspect of the publishing industry that in 2009 seemed like it would only grown in importance. E-books still don't have the cachet of print books, though, and most people still want to hold a print copy in their hands. I'd made a point of designing the book specifically for the screen, so a print version essentially meant a second book. Technical issues and other problems meant that the print version was delayed much longer than I'd anticipated. Fortunately, developments like the transition to XML are making it much easier for projects to be diced into multiple formats, which will ultimately make books cheaper and more convenient for readers. Last year was a breakthrough year for the e-book. Kindle book sales have just eclipsed print sales at Amazon; it's an exciting time in the publishing industry, not least because the scales are tipping back towards the author.

A couple of questions about your experience as a publisher.

We all know that the number of stories a publisher gets is often overwhelming. What makes you choose a story?

All the usual reasons: interesting characters, strong prose, original ideas. Beyond that, a sense of balance in an anthology. I've rejected good stories that just didn't sit well in the anthology, or would have served a similar function to other stories I'd already accepted. Those are the hardest decisions. With this anthology, I was particularly looking for stories that really engaged with the idea of evolution, either scientifically or thematically, rather than just using the concept of, say, mutants, to tell a ripping yarn that didn't really relate to evolution.

What is the most common mistake in the stories you receive? Which one makes you want to scream?

As much as I'd like to make some deeply insightful comment about narrative, it almost always comes down to writers not reading the guidelines. As a writer, I'd heard editors say this before, but it really is surprising how many writers expect you to read stories that are unrelated to the theme or not formatted correctly or in some way ignore the guidelines. While editors have the unpleasant task of rejecting stories (and thus have a reputation for being stern and capricious), editing, like writing, is usually a labour of love, and anything that stops the editor from just reading your story at 11pm after a long day at work is bad for everyone.

Guidelines, particularly formatting guidelines, can seem capricious, but you can guarantee that they're there to save the editor time. There are a myriad of boring reasons to do with where an editor reads, what they read on, and the software they use to edit and publish which explain why the guidelines are the way they are. If the writer can't be bothered to spend 20 minutes getting the formatting right on a story, why should the editor? Especially when there are dozens more stories in the pile.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there is a very strong correlation between following the guidelines and quality of writing. Editors and slush readers know this from experience. So not following guidelines already slants the impression of the reader. My very first impression of nearly all the accepted stories on opening them up was, "Oh, this looks professional." Provided the opening paragraphs weren't dire, I printed the story off so I could give it my full attention. If the story wasn't formatted correctly, I scanned through it to see if it was worth printing off and reading properly. Nine times out of 10, it wasn't.

See, I'm a crotchety editor already.

Final question: Any future plans?

The next Tangled Bank Press project will be a pocket book of poetry and artwork. I haven't quite decided on the theme or submission dates yet, but it will be a much smaller project. While great poetry will obviously be paramount, I'm looking forward to focusing more on the art and marketing aspects than I was able to with The Tangled Bank, which by its sheer size and complexity meant I was more focused on editing and layout.

The huge growth in e-books means that the physical characteristics of books are becoming one of the key selling points of print books, so books that revel in their physicality and ability to be personalised are going to become much more common. So while I still prefer to read books in print, I'm not one to bemoan the rise of e-books. New technology like tablets means that e-books are going to become much more readable (and take-to-bedable), and market forces are going to bring us print books to die for. I'm interested in publishing books that take advantage of both of those trends.

I've got several exciting ideas for future anthologies of fiction, poetry, and artwork, but I'd like to get some of my own work published before I edit another anthology. Providing all goes to plan, TBP will probably announce the next call for submissions sometime in the second half of next year, with a release date in 2013.

TBP won't be publishing novels for the forseeable future--but that's not very far, so who knows.

As Chris says above, Tangled Bank Press is running a competition giving away three print copies of The Tangled Bank: Love, Wonder, and Evolution on their website. You can also read a free sample story from the anthology, Darwin's Daughter, by 2009 Aurealis winner, Christopher Green, there. The print edition launches on 12 Feb 2011.