Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Snapshot

A lemongrass blade
spears through the sunlight
down stabs into shadow
at the base of its fellows
taking bright green
into the heart of the darkness
of the soil
where things begin.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Good news for e-authors.

As a soon-to-be-published e-author, I've become much more aware recently of the issue of e-piracy, and know some authors who've lost thousands of downloads to pirates, so this is good news, and hopefully paves the way for more closures:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Blogger: Patty Jansen

As part of her February blog tour we welcome Sydney author Patty Jansen as a guest blogger. With publishing in a state of flux where everything is changing almost by the minute and as she has just spent a year experimenting with e-publishing we asked Patty to give us her thoughts on self-publishing.

Self-publishing: what does it do for you?
Patty Jansen

There is little that divides authors so much and generates so much heat in discussions as the subject of self-publishing. Some people declare that self-publishing is cheap, tacky, that they would never do it, and that anything that's good will always find a publisher, providing you keep sending it. The rest of the people? Well, they're too busy checking their Kindle statements.

The time has now come that many authors will have put their little toe in the hot self-publishing waters and many others are considering it. Many, like me, are discovering that there are interesting benefits to having a presence on Amazon and other self-publishing sites.

What can self-publishing do for you? The obvious benefits first.

One of the most obvious uses of self-publishing sites is to keep your old material in print. I don't mean just books, but especially short stories. Whether you've been published in print or online magazines, older issues tend to get buried under newer ones, and after a while, your story becomes less visible. So it makes sense to put the story up in ebook form when the contract runs out.

What about new material? Well, that's up to you. I have a number of longer works up. Why? The first novel I put up was for kids. I chose this book because I love the story, but would not want to be branded a children's writer. The second novel I put up had a small press contract that fell through. I couldn't bear the thought of taking it back to market. The same with the novella Charlotte's Army. This manuscript was far in development when the publisher pulled the project. Then, lastly, I'm publishing a fantasy trilogy. No reason in particular that I'm self-publishing that one, except that it's fun, and that this way, the entire series is actually going to get written (as opposed to only the first book, until it's sold). So, as you see, there are a lot of reasons to self-publish new material. "Because I couldn't sell it" is probably one of the worst reasons, but if that rocks your boat, what's the skin off anyone's nose?

In the last year, I've discovered another advantage of self-published material.

Self-publishing electronically is comparable with putting material up on your blog. Only, when using the power of Amazon, people can find you in a central place where they're actually looking for things to read. You can make your work free. This is easier on Smashwords than Amazon, but possible on both. The people who download free stories are strangers who would never have read your work otherwise. In this way, free stories become your business card. And you hand out thousands of them.

What should you expect sales-wise?

Realistically? Nothing. Free stories usually get a nice number of downloads, but sales are harder. Having more books up helps. Publishing something in a traditional venue helps a lot. Whichever way you publish, making significant money from writing is hard.

I think that for the new writer, self-publishing is a tool and not an end-destination. Which is why the argument of trad-published vs self-published is so stupid. Traditional publishers are not evil. Not all self-published books are crap. Do both and expand your reach.

Patty Jansen lives in Sydney, Australia, where she spends most of her time writing hard SF, space opera and hybrid fantasy. She publishes in both traditional and indie venues. Her story This Peaceful State of War placed first in the second quarter of the Writers of the Future contest and was published in their 27th anthology. Her story Survival in Shade of Orange will be published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
Her novels (available at ebook venues) include Watcher's Web (soft SF), The Far Horizon (middle grade SF), Charlotte's Army (military SF) and books 1 and 2 of the Icefire Trilogy Fire & Ice ( and Dust & Rain (epic post-apocalyptic steampunk fantasy).
Patty is on Twitter (@pattyjansen), Facebook, LinkedIn, goodreads, LibraryThing, google+ and blogs at:

My novels: Watcher’s Web, The Far Horizon and the Icefire Trilogy

Find out more on my author website:

Mythic Resonance is out!

The Specusphere's long-awaited anthology, Mythic Resonance, is hot off the press and will be ready for purchase soon. You can buy hard copy at the great price of only $19.95, and an e-book version will be available within a few days.

Mythic Resonance contains a lovely line-up of stories and authors, including one, I'm proud to say, by Yours Truly (Satima). There are sad ones and funny ones: thought-provoking ones and some that are just for fun.

We selected fourteen stories from over 50 submissions. I hope our readers will agree that we have a nice blend of adaptations from myths, legends and fairy tales. Here's the final line-up:

The Salted Heart — N A Sulway
The Everywhere And The Always — Alan Baxter
Annabel and the Witch — Paul Freeman
Through these eyes I see — Donna Maree Hanson
A Tale of Publication — Les Zigomanis
La Belle Dame — Satima Flavell
Glorious Destiny — Steven Gepp
Meeting my Renaissance Man — Vicky Daddo
Wetlands — Jen White
Man’s Best Friend — Tom Williams
In Paradise, Trapped — Kelly Dillon
Holly and Iron — Nigel Read
Brothers — Sue Bursztynski

The anthology was edited by Stephen Thompson, with contributing editors Amanda Greenslade, Sue Hammond, Linda Stewart and me (Satima), together with associate editors Astrid Cooper and Jennie Kremmer. Amanda is also responsible for the beautiful cover, all that tricky design and layout stuff and the atmospheric book trailer, which you can watch here on YouTube.

If that whets your appetite, check out the story excerpts. I do hope you love them enough to buy a copy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ethics and Review Copies of Books

Via Tansy Rayner Roberts blog comes this link to Stacked on ARCs, Ethics & Speaking Up - about review copies sent out to reviewers prior to the release of a book. These are usually clearly marked as review copies that are not to be sold. For non-reviewers, reviewers receive no payment from the publisher or author and the books they receive may be put together in a less finished state than that which goes on sale to the general public. As an occasional reviewer I receive books to review but never sell them. I just wouldn't because that costs the author and the publisher money and, in my opinion, that is unethical. The blogger at Stacked Books goes into the details of why.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Musa Publishing competition opens.

Musa Publishing have opened a new competition for novels and novellas under their GLBT imprint, Erato. Stories can be of any genre, including Speculative Fiction, as long as they have a GLBT angle. The prize is a two book deal with Musa! Guidelines can be found at:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Writing and Language, Dialect, Accent and Register

From time to time, writers need to depict a character who speaks with an accent, in a dialect, or even in a foreign language. And quite often, we will have a group of characters who are involved in, let’s say, magic. The area of interest, be it magic or anything else, will require its own register, of which more later.

Idiosyncratic speech can make writing tricky. But before we consider how best to handle the situation, let’s take a closer look at just what these terms mean.

A language is a communication system shared by a number of people. English is today an international language, not limited by national borders. Esperanto is an invented language, intended to provide a relatively simple means of communication among people who have no common language. Auslan is the sign language of the Australian deaf community. Cornish is a dead language that has been revived by a few natives of the county who are eager to give the ancient tongue a new lease of life.

Most languages contain more than one dialect. A dialect is a variety of language used by a specific speech community. A dialect may have noticeable differences in grammar, syntax and vocabulary from the ‘standard’ form of the language. ‘Dialect’ implies that it is spoken by many or most people who live in a particular area, so we talk, for instance of someone speaking in a Yorkshire dialect. But Black American English is definitely a dialect, and it is not limited to any particular area. Cultural factors can also come into play.

There’s a difference between a dialect and an accent. The term 'accent' usually refers to the way people pronounce words in a particular area. For example, most English people pronounce the name of the fodder crop lucerne with the accent on the second syllable, while their Australian cousins put the accent on the first syllable. Both Brits and Australians pronounce ‘buoy’ the same way as ‘boy’, while their Stateside buddies will say ‘booi’. However, Brits, Aussies and Americans (and Kiwis, South Africans Canadians and Indians, among others!) who speak a reasonably standard form of their country’s version of English can generally understand each other without too many hitches, so they are said to be speaking ‘with an accent' rather than ‘in a dialect’.

But try putting a country Cornishman, a country Queenslander and a native of the Deep South in a room together. You would probably get a few laughs from their mutual incomprehension because it’s quite likely their accents would be so broad, and would contain so many mutually unintelligible words, that they could be said to be using dialect rather than accent. This is less true today, of course, than it was even 30 years ago, but even so, anyone who travels around the different English speaking countries will tell a story or two about failures of communication.

So what about our last term, register? A register is a variety of language associated with people's occupations and interests. 'Register' describes variations in language use connected with a particular topic. For instance, if I go to a writers meeting, I will hear expressions such as ‘protag’, ‘POV’, ‘sub’, synop’ ‘blurb’ all of which are either limited to people involved in writing and publishing or have a different meaning in the literary context than they do in everyday speech. But I might go straight from the writers meeting to review a ballet, and my review is likely to contain words such as pirouette, pas de deux, balon, elevation, flic-flac and entrechat, all of which are French in origin because France is where ballet was first codified, so it based its vocabulary on that language.

All of us have more than one register, which we will use in appropriate contexts. It’s useless for me to natter on about POV or balon at a get-together for people who practise Yoga, for example. I might find one or two folk there who knew what I was talking about, but generally, it would be inappropriate. We all know intuitively to restrict register use to its proper context.

So how would we deal with these situations if they form part of a story we want to set down on paper? I’ll start investigating that in my next post.

(You'll find the follow-up to this article at:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Writers On Their Writing Process

Award winning YA author, Maggie Stiefvater, has a fascinating post on her blog where she has invited ten fellow authors to post examples of their writing from early draft to finished piece and comment on the reasons behind their decisions. The idea for this came from when she did something similar with a piece of her own work here. Australian author, Margo Lanagan, features in Stiefvater's post with a piece from her recently released novel, The Brides of Rollrock Island UK (and USA later this year), published as Sea Hearts in Australia, with links given to the others.

I was fascinated how, while each author has a different approach and issues to deal with, they have so much in common. Really though, what hooked me is seeing the actual process at work as they prune, expand and develop their characters and story and the techniques they use to do it. We are being shown the elements of the craft of writing - and it works.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Locus 2011 Recommended Reading List

is up on the Locus website. The list is put together by a consensus of the magazine's editors and reviewers. There's a strong field and it includes a number of Australian authors, editors and publishers among them. Congratulations to all.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Terrible Minds On 25 Things Writers Should Know About Agents

Via Call My Agent comes this link to Terrible Minds on the subject of agents - how to find one, what to expect from them and much more. Some colourful language but very funny as well as informative.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Joanna Fay wins the publication race!

Late in 2009, five would-be authors, all members of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in the hills east of Perth,trekked down to Eagle Bay, a lovely spot some three hours’ drive south. One member had struck it lucky – a friend had offered her the use of a luxurious home for a few days, and when the fortunate scribe hit on the bright idea of using the time for a writing retreat, the other four were all enthusiasm.

I was one of those five writers, and I was giddy with anticipation. I’d always wanted to go on a writing retreat, but finances had not permitted. Now here was my chance! Two months before our adventure, we sent each other our beloved baby manuscripts, all hoping that the others would love our babies — and at the same time filled with doubts. What if they hate it? What if it’s no good? What if they laugh at my baby?

But nobody hated, nobody laughed, and while the manuscripts were rough around the edges, none was inherently bad. As soon as we’d settled in at Eagle Bay, we gathered around the kitchen table with our laptops to consider the first novel. We only had four days, so we had to make good use of the time. Each writer got half a day’s consideration, more than enough time for a lot of constructive criticism, a bit of bickering, a few tears and a lot of laughs.

From our excursion Egoboo was born. When we got back to Perth, we settled down for another couple of years steady writing, for we’d all realised that far from being finished, our precious stories all needed what amounted to complete rewrites! Over the following months we exchanged rewritten chapters and continued to give each other feedback and encouragement.

Even before the Egoboo adventure, we’d all been working on our stories for some time, but in that regard Jo took the blue ribbon. She had first envisaged the quartet decades earlier, when as a girl she had been moved by her love of all winged creatures, especially angels, to invent a fascinating world filled with winged gods and demi-gods, not all of them admirable. A clear struggle between good and evil, the basis of all good fantasy stories, started to emerge. In the two years after our Eagle Bay retreat, Jo not only rewrote book one of her four-part fantasy series, she also drafted the other three books! All are now more-or-less complete. (I’m still struggling with my book one!)

We watched with awe as Jo’s work soared skyward on its stellar path, taking us to worlds unimagined to meet characters so deftly drawn that they started to feel like old friends. As the adventure unfolded we saw a clear narrative emerge from what had previously seemed an amorphous blob of a story.

Last year, several of us started to submit our manuscripts to a variety of agents and publishers. Now and then, an agent or publisher would express interest in one or another of our babies, but no one struck the gold of a contract.

But Jo’s time had come! Three months ago, she was offered a contract for the first book with an option on the others in the series by Stateside press Musa Publishing. Like many forward-looking publishing houses, Musa is focussing on e-book releases for their full-length acquisitions, so it will be easy to buy Jo’s first book, Daughter of Hope, on the internet when it is released on 8 June of this year. Further books in Jo's Siaris Quartet will be released in sequence.

As you can imagine, the rest of the Egoboo crew — Carol, Helen, Keira, Laura, Sarah and yours truly (Satima) are almost as joyful about the book’s forthcoming publication as Jo is herself. Closer to the time, we’ll ask Jo for a post about her journey to publication; a journey we are all watching with interest in the hopes of learning how to accomplish the exalted station of Published Novelist ourselves! We stand on the sidelines, cheering as she makes her way to the finishing line.

Maybe, just maybe, we will all have a turn to run that race before too long!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Writer Unboxed � A Planner tackles NaNoWriMo

Writer Unboxed � A Planner tackles NaNoWriMo:

Juliet Marillier tried Nanowrimo in 2011, and here she writes about some of the things she learnt from the experience.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. It was more of an experiment than anything, though I had two good reasons for wanting to ditch my usual work practices for the month and concentrate on getting as many words down on the page as possible. Firstly, I was presenting a pair of novel writing workshops in mid-November, and I knew many of the participants were attempting NaNo. I figured my presentation would be more relevant for them if I’d shared the experience in all its frustration and frenzy. Secondly, my current writing load is ridiculously heavy (memo to self, learn to say No) and I figured that getting the first 50,000 words of the new novel done in a month would be a fantastic, morale-boosting start.