Monday, May 2, 2016

The Countdown Continues.

I only have a few short months left before I make the big move over to the UK.

When my wife and I first decided to go, it all seemed so far away. As usual, however, time passes very quickly when there are deadlines and much to do. But we are progressing well, right on schedule in fact, and we'll be ready when the time comes.

There was a lot of culling - furniture, clothes and even books. There will be more items that need to go, but not until the last minute.

Our flights are booked, as are the flights for our dogs. They're getting used to sleeping in their crates and seem to quite enjoy them.

A lot of people have asked whether I have found employment in the UK. Not yet. It's still a bit early for that as their school year doesn't commence until September. But we have found a place to live, and I have made initial contact with a few schools in the area.

I will be at Continuum in June, for those who want to catch up and buy me a drink. I guess my next convention will be somewhere in the UK.

I'm excited by the prospect of the move. New life, new experiences, new people to annoy. And, I must add, a little nervous by venturing into the unknown. But I figure that if I can live in Japan for six years, I can manage a few years in my homeland.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

He's Doing Alright, Isn't He?

Much congratulations to my writing buddy, David McDonald.

Although this news is a few weeks old, it's never too late to recognise the achievements of a friend. Especially when those achievements are so very fine.

David was very excited to announce the forthcoming release of his original Guardians of the Galaxy novel, Castaways.  I'm sure you'll agree the cover art is fabulous. And if you loved the film and the characters, you need to read this.

The Guardians of the Galaxy are back in a new adventure, Castaways. Marooned on a mysterious planet that is trapped centuries behind the rest of the galaxy, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot go their separate ways. But when an alien technology threatens their new home, Castaways becomes a race to see if the Guardians can reunite in time to save it.
But wait, there's more.

David's novelisation of Backcountry, a recent movie, has been shortlisted for a Scribe Award (Adapted Novel – General and Speculative category). For those who aren't aware, these awards are run by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

And he has more exciting news on the way. Keep an eye out for that announcement.

Congratulations, David.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Submissions And Other Debris.

I spent last weekend at a writing retreat with three fellow writers.

We booked a place down on the peninsula, spent lots of time in front of screens putting words down, had a great crit session of our stories, and wonderful discussions on a range of topics. A fantastic time was had by all, and I suspect that if I weren't moving to the UK in a few months, this might have become a regular event for me. As it is there will be another, only I won't be there.

So I managed to get new words down, plus I rewrote three stories that have been on the backburner for quite a long time. I was pleased with how these pieces turned out. They're good stories. Now they just need to find homes.

In the past week I've sent out four stories. And already had four rejections.  Which is painful. I had hoped for at least a personal rejection on two of them, but only received form rejections. Those stories went straight back out again.

I'm kicking myself because I missed three deadlines. Two are my fault. I was travelling, and forgot about them. The other was brought forward due to the high number of submissions. Sigh.

I started a four-week fantasy writing course with the fabulous Michael Pryor. Not only is he a well respected author and editor, but a fantastic teacher. I'm loving the time in class, and learning lots.

So my writing is on the move again, which is good. But it's been a while since I've had a sale. I need one soon.

Real soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Congratulations Jason.

And so my story, Lodloc and the Bear, didn't win the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella. That honour went to Jason Fischer. Congratulations, Jason. Well deserved.

It was an honour to be shortlisted for an Aurealis Award, and it was amazing to have been a finalist along with so many great names - writers I admire and some whose work I have been reading for longer than I can remember. It was a real thrill to have had my story considered worthy.

Awards are a funny thing. Most writers will tell you they're not that important, that they're not the reason we write. Which is certainly true in my case. But they are something many of us long for. I know I would love to receive an award or two. Writing is a solitary endeavour, and contact with our reading audience can be minimal. We might receive an encouraging note or an email, usually from someone we know. We might even be lucky enough to get a positive mention in a review. But an award or nomination, especially for a jury-judged award like the Aurealis, gives us some sense of validation. It makes us feel like maybe we can do this, and maybe we can do it reasonably well.

Many writers, myself included, live with nagging self doubts. About our abilities, about our words, about our goals. In the weeks leading up to the Aurealis Awards ceremony I honestly gave little thought to the outcome. Occasionally it would cross my mind, and I would swing wildly between 'I have no chance' to 'You never know - after all my story was deemed worthy enough to be a finalist.' In the last few hours leading up to the announcements, however, I must admit the pending result played on my mind quite a bit. I was walking through the streets of London, checking my phone for free wi-fi as I passed coffee shops, updating my newsfeed, and hoping I would be lucky enough to see my name as a winner.

Unfortunately that wasn't to be.

I had the amazing Cat Sparks lined up as my proxy to accept the award (and ensuing free drinks), and despite Cat's assurances I only needed to say "I love youse all", I had written something a little longer than that. My speech included thanks to the publisher, Keith Stevenson, my crit and writing buddy, David McDonald, my best friend, Fenna, and my wife Lindsey.

Was I disappointed I didn't win? Of course. Did I feel cheated? Not in the least. Jason is one mean writer, and it truly was an honour to be shortlisted alongside him and the others. Indeed, congratulations to all winners and other finalists.

And if I've done it once, I can surely get my name on that list again. Surely, I can.

And I do love youse all.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Might Not Even Be Remembered.

It's March, which is autumn, but the weather hasn't turned yet. It's still hot and summery and uncomfortable. Today was well into the 30s, which is unbearable when you're working on the house to get it ready for sale. The big move to the UK is only a few months away, and the house needs to go on the market this week.

I had no idea how much work is deemed necessary these days in order to make the house sellable.

But we march steadily towards the UK.

I was informed on Friday that I was now qualified and registered to teach in England. I've accidentally networked a connection to a school near Lincoln. And I've copped a number of negative comments from people about the move.

So you had a bad experience teaching at your school? I won't be at your school.

So the weather's awful? I'm looking forward to it. I hate the hot weather here.

So English food/water/service is terrible? When were you there? The 1850s? I've had nothing but exceptional food/water/service in the past ten years.

I don't need naysayers on the sidecar of my motorcycle. I'm sliding around corners, running a few red lights, skidding into the driveway.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thinkin' Of Lincoln.

This is a year of change.

One of the reasons I've been away from the blog and from writing is my attentions and efforts have been focused elsewhere.  In late June I will be moving, and this is taking a lot of planning, preparation and effort.

I have been granted a two year leave of absence from my school and so Lindsey and I will be moving to the UK - more specifically, a village just outside Lincoln, England.

Lincoln is a beautiful, historic city, with a magnificent cathedral, castle, and two magna-cartas. The city is also famous for Stokes High Bridge café, the Lincoln Steampunk Festival and Steep Hill.

Less well known are my in-laws, although a major part of this decision is to spend more time with them. Of course in return they have to put up with me.

Let the adventure commence!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Aurealis Awards Finalist, 2015.

Last year I decided to take a break from writing and from the blog for a number of reasons. I figured I needed a month or two. I had no idea it would last this long.

Last week I decided I needed to get a move on. I needed to return. I figured I'd post something soon. And then yesterday, I realised the time was ripe, just after I received a wonderful email informing me that I had been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award.

Lodloc and The Bear was originally published last October by Keith Stevenson in Dimension6, a free magazine that is well worth reading. (Go, download and read it. And please, if you can spare a few bucks, pay to download the yearly collections instead and support small press in Australia.)

This is a favourite story of mine, and so I was delighted and thrilled by its shortlisting. I was also a little shocked, as I really didn't expect this. I feel so honoured.

Thanks to everyone who has sent comments and messages of congratulations. I appreciate them all.

And congratulations to my fellow finalists, especially my friends on the list - Sean Monaghan, Michelle Goldsmith, Clare McKenna, Amie Kaufman, Kaaron Warren, Joel Shepherd and Michael Pryor.

The winners will be awarded at a ceremony in Brisbane on Friday, 25th March, 2016.

2015 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION
A Week Without Tuesday, Angelica Banks
The Cut-Out, Jack Heath
A Single Stone, Meg McKinlay
Bella and the Wandering House, Meg McKinlay
The Mapmaker Chronicles: Prisoner of the Black Hawk, A.L. Tait

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK
The Undertaker Morton Stone Vol.1, Gary Chaloner, Ben Templesmith, and Ashley Wood
The Diemenois, Jamie Clennett
Unmasked Vol.1: Going Straight is No Way to Die, Christian Read
The Singing Bones, Shaun Tan
Fly the Colour Fantastica, various authors

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
“In Sheep’s Clothing”, Kimberly Gaal (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
“The Nexus Tree”, Kimberly Gaal (The Never Never Land)
“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children,)
“The Heart of the Labyrinth”, DK Mok (In Memory: A Tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett)
“Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar)
Welcome to Orphancorp, Marlee Jane Ward (Seizure)

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY
“Bullets”, Joanne Anderton (In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep)
“Consorting with Filth”, Lisa L Hannett (Blurring the Line)
“Heirloom Pieces”, Lisa L Hannett (Apex Magazine)
“The Briskwater Mare”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children)
“Breaking Windows”, Tracie McBride (Aurealis #84)
“Self, Contained”, Kirstyn McDermott (The Dark)

BEST HORROR NOVELLA
“Night Shift”, Dirk Flinthart (Striking Fire)
“The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children)
“The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children)
“Wages of Honey”, Deborah Kalin (Cherry Crow Children)
“Sleepless”, Jay Kristoff (Slasher Girls and Monster Boys)
“Ripper”, Angela Slatter (Horrorology)

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY
“The Giant’s Lady”, Rowena Cory Daniells (Legends 2)
“The Jellyfish Collector”, Michelle Goldsmith (Review of Australian Fiction Vol. 13 Issue 6)
“A Shot of Salt Water”, Lisa L Hannett (The Dark)
“Almost Days”, DK Mok (Insert Title Here)
“Blueblood”, Faith Mudge (Hear Me Roar)
“Husk and Sheaf”, Suzanne Willis (SQ Mag 22)

BEST FANTASY NOVELLA
“Lodloc and The Bear”, Steve Cameron (Dimension6)
“Defy the Grey Kings”, Jason Fischer (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“Broken Glass”, Stephanie Gunn (Hear Me Roar)
“The Flowers that Bloom Where Blood Touches the Earth”, Stephanie Gunn (Bloodlines)
“Haunting Matilda”, Dmetri Kakmi (Cthulhu: Deep Down Under)
“Of Sorrow and Such”, Angela Slatter (Tor.com)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
“2B”, Joanne Anderton (Insert Title Here)
“The Marriage of the Corn King”, Claire McKenna (Cosmos)
“Alchemy and Ice”, Charlotte Nash (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #61)
“Witnessing”, Kaaron Warren (The Canary Press Story Magazine #6)
“All the Wrong Places”, Sean Williams (Meeting Infinity)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA
“Blood and Ink”, Jack Bridges
“The Molenstraat Music Festival”, Sean Monaghan (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
“By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers”, Garth Nix (Old Venus)

BEST COLLECTION
The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Striking Fire, Dirk Flinthart
Cherry Crow Children, Deborah Kalin
To Hold the Bridge, Garth Nix
The Fading, Carole Nomarhas
The Finest Ass in the Universe, Anna Tambour

BEST ANTHOLOGY
Hear Me Roar, Liz Grzyb (ed.)
The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (eds.)
Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (ed.)
Meeting Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (ed.)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 9, Jonathan Strahan (ed.)
Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction, Tehani Wessely (ed.)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman
The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig
Day Boy,Trent Jamieson
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The Hush, Skye Melki-Wagner

BEST HORROR NOVEL
No Shortlist Released

BEST FANTASY NOVEL
In The Skin of a Monster, Kathryn Barker
Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club, Alison Goodman
Day Boy,Trent Jamieson
The Dagger’s Path, Glenda Larke
Tower Of Thorns, Juliet Marillier
Skin, Ilka Tampke

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Crossed, Evelyn Blackwell
Clade, James Bradley
Illuminae, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Their Fractured Light, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Renegade, Joel Shepherd
Twinmaker: Fall, Sean Williams

SARA DOUGLASS BOOK SERIES AWARD
The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin, Rowena Cory Daniells
The Watergivers, Glenda Larke
The Lumatere Chronicles,  Melina Marchetta
Sevenwaters, Juliet Marillier
The Laws of Magic,  Michael Pryor
Creature Court, Tansy Rayner Roberts