Friday, May 27, 2011

You are Not a Weenie if a Critique Makes You Cry � The Practical Free Spirit

Amy Sundberg is on a voyage of discovery - and we get free tickets to the ride! One of the things she noted the other day was that blogs without opinions seem to be a bit wishy washy.

To fix that, she's put together her first of a series of Backbone posts, and happen to have chosen something close to our hearts - the critique. She says 'you are not a weenie if a critique makes you cry,' and then lists a few of the myths writers tell each other, and busts each of them.

Crits are valuable things. Someone has taken the time, care, and effort to look over your work, consider where it's going and how it hangs together, and then told you. Every crit should be gratefully received.

But in the end, the text is your own. You can choose to ignore a crit, or you can choose to take a crit on board. Whatever you do, you're the one with the vision. You're the one who OWNS that text.

Take that vision and run.

You are Not a Weenie if a Critique Makes You Cry � The Practical Free Spirit

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aurealis Awards 2010

The winners of the Aurealis Awards 2010 were announced on Saturday night. Congratulations to you all. The list of winners can be found here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Internet Research

Writers research all the time. Even if you write speculative fiction - or other fiction for that matter - you need to make sure that your world is believable and to do that you, as the creator of this fictional world, need to know what makes it tick or your reader won't believe in it.

How do you do this? You can and should read widely and non fiction is where the really cool stuff comes from as are television documentaries. Would I have ever known about the way trees are trained to cross streams in parts of India, providing a living bridge, if I hadn't watched The Human Planet, a BBC documentary? Would I have ever dreamed that orcas in some parts of the world actually throw themselves up a certain beach so they can catch their prey if not for a wonderful nature documentary I saw? I doubt it.

Then there is the internet, a wonderful resource at our finger tips but one we have to use carefully. We have become so used to using it that we google now, using the name of a search engine instead of calling it research. But there is always the question as to reliability of information given that anyone can post anything on their websites. That's why I was pleased to find this article by Jane Friedman on her There Are No Rules blog giving her favourite research websites and as well some tips on how to get the most out of using Google.

Why not share some of your favourite research websites with us. We would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements

Do you write Fantasy?

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

The third Issue Theme is 'Cinderella' and opens on the 27th of June and closes on June 30th. Poetry and Stories welcome. Enchanted Conversations has also kindly provided details for their next deadline too, which is Issue Four, Poetry and stories, and "Little Red Riding Hood."

Enchanted Conversation: Submission Requirements


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Juliet Marillier talks to Egoboo

Multi-faceted Perth-based writer Juliet Marillier recently gave Egoboo an hour out of her very busy schedule to talk about Druidry, Wagner, fairy tales, conventions and her writerly life. We had a handful of questions for her – and here they are, along with the words of wisdom she gave us in reply.

Joanna Fay set the ball rolling by asking: Do you draw on your druidic beliefs and practices in your writing?

Juliet: I actually came to Druidry through writing. When I was researching Daughter of the Forest, my first book, I found I needed to research Druidry because one of my characters was destined to become a druid. Just at that time, Philip Carr-Gomm of the UK-based Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) visited Perth to give a workshop for the University of Western Australia’s extension program. I went along to hear him and was impressed by his unpretentious, non-guru-like manner. He told us the story of Taliesin and how the Order sees story-telling as an integral part of spiritual practice. I was so intrigued that I enrolled for OBOD’s correspondence course. This felt rather like coming home – there were so many similarities between the Order’s teachings and  my own belief system. Druidry recognises the power of storytelling for teaching and healing. We see ourselves as part of the web of life on earth, and that means sharing responsibility for the health of the planet. Conservation and sustainability are important in druid work. Another key belief is that the divine exists within all living beings. This ensures that we respect all forms of life, ourselves included. These beliefs can’t help but flow through to my writing.

Joanna: I’ve heard that you’re a Wagner enthusiast, like me. Do you find this influences your writing, too? And how about other music, art, and other literary forms? Are they also influences?

Juliet: My mother loved Wagner! I remember going the home of some Austrian friends when I was about ten, and over a series of evenings, listening to the entire Ring Cycle with musical score in hand. I was captured by both story and music. But although I enjoy Wagner and opera in general, these days I prefer to listen to folk music – Celtic and Hispanic music in particular. My CD collection is 95% folk music. I don’t usually listen to music while I’m writing, but when I do I choose something appropriate to the story and setting – that usually means some form of traditional music.

I love the Pre-Raphaelite painters, especially Waterhouse (I was delighted when Pan Macmillan brought out an edition of the Sevenwaters books featuring his paintings on the covers!) but whether they are actually an influence on my work is a moot point. I like many fairytale illustrators, notably Kinuko Y Kraft, who created the lovely covers for my two YA books, Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret. Most of the art work on my walls at home is fairytale based. I guess fantastic art has been an unconscious influence since childhood.

As for other literary forms, I read widely. For recreation I prefer general fiction and literary fiction. I love writers who combine excellent craft with great storytelling. I read very little fantasy.

Satima Flavell: Do you follow any fantasy writers at all?

Juliet: If you look at my bookshelves, you’ll see that I do love some fantasy writers. One is Joe Abercrombie, whose work meets my criteria: craft plus storytelling. All the authors I enjoy create characters with a lot of depth, and one reason I don’t care for much epic fantasy is that there’s often an emphasis on worldbuilding at the expense of character development. There are exceptions: Abercrombie is one, and others include Guy Gavriel Kay (I especially love Tigana and The Lions of Al-Rassan) and Jacqueline Carey. I also enjoy Neil Gaiman and I think Orson Scott Card is a great craftsman who sometimes gets carried away by his personal philosophies. In Australian fantasy, you can’t go past Margo Lanagan. Her Tender Morsels was utterly absorbing.

Satima: What else might we find on your bookshelves?

Juliet: Plenty of mainstream and literary fiction, and, of course, lots of folklore and fairy tales! A lot of non-fiction, too, mostly research-related: customs, languages, geography, history. Books on the writer’s craft. Favourite children’s books. Knitting books. Dog books.

Helen Venn: You’ve used myth and fable in your work a number of times. How do you work it in? And how do you keep it fresh?

Juliet: I’ve loved fairy tales and folklore since I was about two, so traditional storytelling creeps into my work in all kinds of ways. Generally it comes out in the manner of telling or in the choice of big themes – courage, friendship, true love, faith, honour. But sometimes I use a story as the basis of a book – I’ve done this for three of my thirteen published novels. I’ve always loved the Six Swans story, on which my first novel, Daughter of the Forest was based. I wanted to place a real family in the middle of those terrifying events and see how they coped. That fairy tale also appealed because of its strong female protagonist.

For Wildwood Dancing I took the stories of The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Frog Prince and developed the plot around elements of both. Heart’s Blood uses Beauty and the Beast as its framework, but it is a much more complex and layered story than the fairy tale. I made many changes so my story would resonate for contemporary readers, but kept all the parts I loved most: secret garden, cast of mysterious retainers, magic mirrors. There’s more about this on my website:

As for keeping it fresh, there are two main reasons for using fairy tale material: firstly, because you love it and secondly, because it fits the story you passionately want to tell. If you keep both of those in mind, the "how to" should become clear as you go.

Helen: What are the problems inherent in writing a story such as Heart’s Blood, which is so obviously based on a well-known fairy story?

Juliet: It depends on how closely you’re basing your work on the fairy tale. Some writers might twist the story to make it fit into, say, a feminist paradigm, or they might re-tell it as humour. One challenge is to make a story acceptable (and relevant) to contemporary readers rather than retaining the mores and values of the period in which it was first written down, since these could be unacceptable now. You need to do that without losing the charm of the original.  For example, in Beauty and the Beast, a curse is lifted at the end and the hero becomes handsome. I didn’t want to send a message that physical beauty is necessary for happiness. Anluan in Heart’s Blood has a physical disability caused by a childhood illness, not a curse. He still has it at the end of the story, but has learned that it makes no difference to the people that love him.

Sarah Parker: How did you enjoy this year’s Swancon and the panels you were on?

Juliet: I’m not much of a con enthusiast generally, but this one was fun: well-organised, and in a spacious, comfortable venue. I especially liked the inclusion of the Romancing the West writers’ workshops under the Swancon umbrella. I would have liked to see hands-on writing workshops for speculative fiction writers too, not only for romance writers – it felt odd to me that the romance stream got “how to write better” workshops and the spec fic stream got “how to get published” workshops.

My panels were well attended and brought out some interesting questions. I especially enjoyed "Writer as business person/Writer as entertainer" with Sean Williams, Justina Robson and Simon Brown (who was an excellent facilitator). It was notable for frankness and good humour.

Satima: And how about your workshop on using fairy stories in writing romance?

Juliet: The quality of writing that came out of the workshop was very pleasing. It’s hard to write something that’s both creative and polished under workshop conditions. And I was happy to learn later than some participants had gone home and developed their ideas into stories.

Not only was it great to share my lifelong love of fairy stories with other writers, it also provided me with the opportunity to try out some ideas preparatory to presenting the material as a one-day workshop in Santa Barbara in June, for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). That workshop is called Old Bones, New Flesh, and is based on fairy tales as inspiration for creative work.

After Santa Barbara I fly on to New York, where I’m delivering the keynote address for the Women’s Fiction Chapter at the Romance Writers of America convention. I’ll base it on the ways in which women pass on wisdom from one generation to the next. And then to Lisbon for the release of Seer of Sevenwaters in Portuguese.

Thank you from all of us here at Egoboo, Juliet Marillier!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Call for submissions by Pink Narcissus Press.
The third (and final?) call for submissions for the year is now open!

In case the title doesn't say it all, Pink Narcissus Press is seeking genre-breaking short stories that leave the reader wondering what hit them. We are looking for unusual stories, something that other publishers "love but can't publish". Whether it's set in space, in Dodge City, or on the head of a pin, setting should not dictate plot. Submissions should take risks, break boundaries and leave the reader wondering: "WTF?!"

The deadline is July 31, 2011. No word count requirement. If interested please see our submissions guidelines for more information, at

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Interview with Rose Mambert of Pink Narcissus Press

Rose Mambert is Editor-in-Chief of Pink Narcissus Press, founded in 2010 in Auburn, Massachusetts with Josie Brown and Bill Racicot. Rose holds a degree in Italian Literature from Middlebury College and teaches Italian and Cinema. Pink Narcissus Press launched its first anthology Elf Love in February 2011, and has a second anthology Rapunzel's Daughters coming out in July 2011.

1) What motivated you to set up Pink Narcissus Press and how did the editorial team get together?

Pink Narcissus Press was born one dark and stormy night about twenty years ago in Portland, Oregon when a friend of mine and I thought it would be cool to publish an indie magazine. Portland in the '90s was a very literary, coffee-shop kind of scene, so everyone we knew was some sort of writer or artist. However, we were young and not exactly motivated, so the publication never got off the ground. Since then, though, the idea had been in the back of my mind. Once I had the motivation, I decided to give publishing another shot.

Pulling the team together was easy. I called up Dr. Bill and Sweet Josie Brown and asked them if they'd like to found a publishing company. Fortunately, they said yes. Since then, we've recruited Stacy Guifre, who agreed to join our team if we called her "Principessa Stacy" and bought her a tiara.

2) With a background in Italian Literature and teaching in areas as diverse as Italian and cinema, what was your pathway to setting up a speculative fiction press? How far back do its roots go back for you personally?

I started reading fantasy back in highschool. I hung out with a geeky crowd, so all my friends were into fantasy and sci-fi, and kept shoving books into my hand, saying "Read this!" At the time, my writing was of the contemporary sort. Someone insisted I read Michael Moorcock's "Elric" series. As cliched as this will sound, these books changed my life. I've been reading and writing fantasy ever since. So I blame Michael Moorcock.

3) Pink Narcissus' first anthology, Elf Love, has now been published and is meeting with positive reviews. What were the major hiccups and highlights of getting Elf Love into print (and e-print) and what do you feel you've learnt from the experience? Oh, and what inspired you to lift off with elves?

We've learned a lot from the experience of Elf Love. Among other things, we've learned that publishing a book is a lot of hard work, that printers are unreliable, and that if you put two sexy elves on the cover, a lot of people are going to assume that the book is porn (which it isn't). Elf Love was not an easy project. In part, writers were hesitant (and understandably so) to submit to a brand new press with no publication record. In part, a lot of writers weren't inspired by the elf theme.

The theme of "elf love" came out of my unnatural obsession with elves. At the time, it seemed like a good idea - after all, no one else had published an anthology based solely on elves, so our book is certainly unique in that regard.

4) Recently you've opened up submissions for novels and novellas - do you have an overarching goal or aspiration/s for Pink Narcissus?

Our primary goal as a press from the beginning was to publish genre fiction novels. Larger publishers tend to overlook novels that are well-written for the sole reason that they don't easily fit into a particular category, and therefore would be difficult to market. Our goal is to give a home to such works. However, we decided the best course of action would be to build up a reputation by publishing some anthologies first.

5) Pink Narcissus currently has submissions open for no less than three new anthologies, Slashfest, A Stranger Comes to Town, and WTF?! You're certainly highly motivated and busy! Opening anthologies under different editors as well as opening submissions for novels/novellas, how do you coordinate yourselves as a team? Do you have an overall 'production schedule' as such?

As Editor-in-Chief, part of my job is to keep everything organised and give orders to my minions...I mean, to the editors. In truth, though, each editor works on the project that interests them, and sets their own deadlines. Once Rapunzel's Daughters comes out in July, we are planning on kicking Pink Narc into high gear, and hoping to average 5-6 titles a year. Since we're a small press, though, we can afford to keep our production schedule flexible.

6) In the light of current developments in the publishing industry, how do you see the future of the press? Do you see yourselves using conventional publishing forms, or moving more towards e-publishing and print-on-demand?

Currently we use both e-publishing and POD technology. When we started the company, we had a long and serious debate about whether we should print our books traditionally or go for POD. The advantages to POD printing are numerous, however, we were concerned about the stigma that often goes along with POD printing, which often (erroneously, I might add) gets equated with self-publishing, or worse, with vanity presses. In the end, though, it occurred to us that what you print is what counts - not who the printer is. In fact, it's becoming common for "traditional" printers to use the exact same technology (laser printing) as POD printers use for short runs (usually under 1000 copies). Usually only for large print runs will a printer crank up the old traditional lithograph offset press.

Whatever the technology, Pink Narcissus will continue to print paper copies. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but there's something pleasurably visceral about the experience of holding an actual book in your hands and leafing through the pages that you just don't get from reading on a screen. Of course, given the growing demand for e-books, all our books will also be available in e-format.

Thank you, Rose.

To find out more about Pink Narcissus Press, and for details of published and forthcoming anthologies, and anthologies currently open for submissions, visit them at