Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Lady Who Sings to the Dead.

I'm so very pleased to be back in the pages of Outposts of Beyond.  A great little magazine, containing novellas, short stories, flash fiction, poetry, articles and reviews. I feel privileged. This is the fifth time I've been published by Alban Lake, and I look forward to having a new shiny copy of this issue in my hands.

My story, The Lady Who Sings to the Dead, is set in Australia long after an apocalypse but in a non-technological time. This story occurs in the same world and many years following the events depicted in two of my other stories, The Last of the Butterflies and Fireflies.

I love this world I've created. I love visiting it and I love writing in it. I really like some of the people who populate it.

I imagine there are many more stories to be told. For the time being, however, you we have this one.

Enjoy.


Table of contents:

The Lady Who Sings to the Dead by Steve Cameron
The One That Is All by Mike Adamson
The Voice of the Moroth by John Buentello & Lawrence Buentello
The Monster at the End of the World by Lee Clark Zumpe
The Steppenwolf Revisitation by Alan Ira Gordon
The Assassin Program by Christina Sng
The Quicksilver Wall by t.santitoro
The Unfolding by Melanie Smith
The Stories We Tell by Holly Day
Terran Vacations 2070 AD by Marge Simon
Water 2050 AD by Marge Simon
Meteor Shower BC by Marge Simon
The Ship by Marge Simon
The New Canadians  by Aaron W. Haney M.D.
Blade Runner 2049 Review by Kendall Evans
Integral Parts by Robert E. Porter

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Take Me Away....

Two weeks in the south of France does wonders for the soul, mind and body.

We drove there and back. It's kind of weird driving onto a train, sitting in the car for the 35 minute tunnel crossing, and then driving onto the wrong side of the road in France. Two weeks later we did the same trip in return, arriving home having added more than 3000 miles to the odometer.

Our dogs, faithful travelling companions both, were so well behaved. They sat on the back seat and loved every moment of the trip. I have to say though that a number of French dogs were enamoured of one in particular. Good thing she never gave out our phone number or address.

Driving in France is a pleasure. The roads are excellent, traffic flows well, and the scenery, drastically changing the further south you travel, is stunning. Then there's the food and wine. Fabulous. Just fabulous. And no, I did not add to my waistline. I was moderate in all my eating and drinking. I know, you're only concerned about my health.

Lots of scenery, lots of art and lots of history. The highlight for me was the Grottes préhistoriques de Cougnac, a series of caves with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. But then, tucked away in the back, is a series of cave paintings. At least 25,000 years old. Primitive, artistic, and moving beyond belief. I could only stare, trying to take it all in. Photos not allowed, so I grabbed a few postcards. If you haven't seen them, then you've seen enough pictures in books, films and websites to get the idea. But those can in no way compare to the real thing.

(I thoroughly recommend the Werner Herzog documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams about the Chauvet caves, which have far more artwork than the Cougnac caves. For their preservation, however, they have been closed to the public for many years.

But at night, sitting outside under French skies and sipping red wine, I gazed at the stars and my mind turned to a prehistoric France. The people then, most likely my ancestors, saw the same stars and the same hills. How much has the landscape changed in 25,000 years? How much did they understand about the sky? There were certainly some different animals, the lifestyle was very different and the landscape too. But a few people left art that is still there now.

Yes, the holiday was also a time of self-reflection, and wonder and awe. And for me that makes for a pretty good break.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Gone, But Not Forgotten By All.

I worry sometimes that we're losing our past, our heritage.

Carson, Ross Ryan, Buffalo, Sid Rumpo, Co. Caine?

None of these will mean anything to most of you, and even if you are Australian the chances are you won't know them, or at least not have heard of them in a very long time.

These were all musicians in the early 70s. Well known at the time, and some of the members went on to other things. But now largely forgotten.

My last foray into an Australian music store had none of these available. Most of them have never even had their work released on CD. Even if it was, it was generally on a specialist re-issue label for a very short time.

I'm lucky to have a few friends who remember these acts. I also have a group of friends who have ripped their vinyl to CD and share them, as long as the music is well out of print and not available in any format. Yes, their first aim is to protect and support the artist. And that is exactly how it should be.

My dad played a lot of older music when I was young, so I have a love of crooners, big band, brass band, and even some country music. But having taught for a number of years it seems as though the past is largely forgotten by many young people. They were never exposed to it. Occasionally I has a student who would approach me when no one else was around to tell me they'd discovered some amazing "new" artist, such as Hendrix or Nirvana, and wondered if I'd ever heard of them. But these are big names, and I very rarely hear anyone mention any of the artists above, although I Am Pegasus gets the very occasional spin on Australian radio.

We need to make sure we don't lose our Arts heritage, whether it's a novel by George Turner, a Smiley film, or an old album by Blackfeather.

Explore the past. There are some real diamonds in there.

Monday, May 7, 2018

There's An Optimistic Vibe In The Air.

Spring has arrived, later than last year for sure, but it's finally here and making up for lost time. The skies are blue, the flowers are blooming and the grass needs cutting once again.

OK, that last one I'm not so keen on, but at least the grass isn't as tough as the grass back in Australia. Nor does it need cutting on a fortnightly basis.

The change in weather seemed quite sudden, and because of that the longer days also seemed to appear without much warning. One morning I realised I was waking at 5am (or earlier) simply because it was light outside.

For a number of reasons, and I'm sure the arrival of Spring is part of it, I feel really quite optimistic at the moment. I got to work with a spring in my step, a song in my heart, and a bunch of other cliches. Someone even mentioned they'd noticed I was whistling at work last week. I hadn't noticed it myself, although I know I whistle. Fortunately they told me they quite liked hearing it. I have, of course, become quite self-conscious in the office now and have stopped myself a couple of times as I was about to launch into song.

The writing continues, slowly, but this beast is being lashed into shape. I like where it's heading. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Ideas A Plenty.

I've had a good run of ideas for short stories recently. Some are merely snippets, some are almost fully fleshed. All have gone into my writing journal.

I have no idea how many will end up getting used. I never do. And some that do get used end up being more of an inspiration, or a launching point, rather than the original idea. A piece of conversation I overheard on a plane (and noted because it was so ludicrous) will get used, but even the original conversants would never recognise it. It was idea of the silliness of the conversation I loved, even though the participants were earnest and serious.

One of the ideas has already developed into a few paragraphs, and I'm enjoying writing this one. It's a comedy piece based on an idea I originally had about a year ago, but mashed it with another idea I had a week ago. And they fit so well together it is as if it was meant to be.

Writing comedy is difficult. Humour is so subjective that you can never be really sure how well it is working until a range of readers tell you. I've been fortunate in my attempts, and my biggest sale was a humorous piece which garnered good reviews, comments and even a mention in a recommended reading list.

But the main thing is the ideas have been flowing, and I'm working at whipping them into shape and pushing them out into the wild world.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Andy Remic: Writer, Film-maker, Mentor and Friend.

I had the privilege and honour of spending an afternoon with Andy Remic. Not only is he a friend, but he's a fabulous author with more publishing credentials than I could ever achieve.

Yeah, we hang out from time to time. We meet up for drinks, to watch TV shows, to listen to music and just chat.

Among our many chats, we've talked about writing before - quite a few times. He's also done me the great honour of reading some of my work and offering fantastic advice and feedback. We've even talked about the industry. We've talked about the work involved, the contracts, the business, the hopes and dreams, the problems encountered. And all the while he's been patient, encouraging and supporting.

This time, however, was different, and I can't quite put my finger on how. Sure, we talked about the same range of writing topics, but there was a lot more about the mechanics of writing, of getting published. It seemed to me as though the discussion was more focused and structured. More than that, though, I think I was more active in my listening (not that I don't ever listen to advice from someone who know what they're doing) and I think I asked better questions.

I left feeling energised and inspired. Thanks Andy, for your time, your advice, your encouragement and your friendship.

And if you're not familiar with Andy's work, check out this review in last week's Grimdark

Remic is so good at creating a horrific vision of the front—of hopelessness and horror, of surrender and grit, of the randomness of death when a million people are trying to kill you in a million different ways.
A fun book, with a big mid-novella twist and a constant sense of foreboding, Return of Souls gives fans of this series more of what we loved about A Song for No Mans Land, and then turns up the fantasy dial.

 Surely that's enough to get you started.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Ever Sneaky and Mysterious Thoraiya Dyer.

Thoraiya Dyer is a name many of you will recognise. She's a great writer and also a friend - although we've only really met twice in person, chatted once on the phone, and never spent anywhere near enough time together. We don't even e-communicate very often. Her online presence is restricted to a website, a few tweets and, like many mysterious and elusive beings, a couple of photos. (which may or not be her)

So it's no surprise to accidentally discover she has a new release on Tor books.'Part two of A Titan's Forest series, Echoes of Understorey continues on from last year's Crossroads of Canopy. Already it has received excellent reviews - including a star review in Publisher's Weekly.
"There’s far more to this story than can easily be summarized, and readers will savor its intricacy, depicted in evocative prose (“the monsoon greeted her with a wet slap across the face”). Dyer skillfully weaves elements of mythology, family loyalty, and divine destiny into a distinctive, enchanting, and complete world."
But if that's not enough to convince you, consider the following as well:

"I am majorly impressed with Thoraiya Dyer's Crossroads of Canopy. A unique, gorgeous, and dangerous world, a stubborn female hero, and a writer to watch!"--Tamora Pierce

"For her striking first novel Crossroads of Canopy, Thoraiya Dyer reworks the stuff of epic fantasy in ways that seem organic, rooted in the natural world but just as true to human experience." --Locus magazine

"Recommended for readers who appreciate nuanced world building, as both Canopy and Understorey arestrange, fleshed-out lands thrown into turmoil."--Booklist

I've read quite a bit of Thoraiya's work, and I can highly recommend both her short and longer fiction to you. Although I have yet to read Echoes of Understorey, I look forward to doing so. And I must admit to being jealous of those of you who will encounter Thoraiya's writing for the first time.

Congratulations, Thoraiya.