Sunday, June 28, 2015

It's The Write Time.

I'm on term break now, and I must say I've been hanging out for this one.

It's been a very, very busy semester. And, for a variety of reason, it's probably been the busiest time I've had teaching in the past ten years. I have a few things to do during the coming two weeks, but writing is definitely one of them.

I must sit down daily and get words out. I have to get back into that habit. Last week I managed some words, but nowhere near as many as I would like. I was able to sub a couple of stories as well, but even though these are markets that promise rapid responses, I'm still waiting to hear back on those.

And that other story, the one that's been sitting at Analog for 135 days.  Yup, it seems as though my prediction was correct and response times have blow out again.

In the meantime, apart from waiting with fingers crossed on all these stories, I guess the only thing I can do is write. And that starts again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Words, Words Everywhere.

Lots of words. Thousands of them. None of them for sale. I wrote them all, but they've been given away and I don't even know how many of them will ever be read.

In the past few weeks I've marked lots of essays and written hundreds of school reports. Then there's been the proofreading, corrections and tweaking to get the comments just right. It's not a pleasant job, but one that has to be done. It's one of the compromise aspects of my career, one of the roles I must do if I want to do the actual teaching stuff.

The creative side of my writing is still quiet, although some would joke the reports I write are fiction. But one of my mentors tells me to take those 'report' words, use them. There are narratives in there. Hopes, dreams, success, failure - all you have to do is sort them out. Use some, twist them.

He's right, of course. He usually is. And he's far more experienced with words than I am.

I will play with those words. I will contort them, slash them, hack them within an inch of their lives.

Another experiment. Will it result in anything useable? Who knows? But that is what experiments are about. And it may plant a seed, something that leads to something that leads to something else.

They are, after all, only words.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Many Missions?

There are times I feel like Yossarian in Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Not that I imagine millions of people are trying to kill me and no one will listen. In my case that would be paranoia. Although as Yossarian was in the middle of a war it's likely he was speaking more than some truth there.

No, I'm talking about his missions.

Yossarian simply wants to go home, but his command continue to increase the number of missions he has to fly in order to do so. This is usually done when he's only one or two missions shy of the target number. And so, of course, he can never get there.

Earlier this year, I submitted a story to Analog magazine at a time when they had reported response times of around 70 days. While that may seem high, it's actually much lower than the 180ish days they were reporting a year or two ago. And so I waited.

Around the 70 day mark, I checked the response times, only to find they had increased to around 90 days. A few more weeks wait then.

Three weeks later, when I was on 90 days, they had increased out to around 110 days. Two weeks after that it was around 135 days.

I'm currently sitting at 119 days and there has not been a reported response for two weeks. Is that because no one has recorded a response, or because the editors have given up reading slush and all gone home?

Either way I'm sure the response time will have increased.

In the end Yossarian had to make a deal in order to go home. He had to pretend to be friends with his commanders.

I'm willing to do that. Analog Editors, would you like to come over for drinks some time?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Happy , Happy Thoughts.

Three times I've written this blogpost. Three times I've deleted it. Each one has been on a different topic. And then common sense got the better of me, and I begged off.

There seems to be a lot to be negative about at the moment. I see it on social media on a daily basis. Writing, publishing, awards, work, health, relationships, the environment, politics. And football. Mostly football.

Oh yeah. Something is definitely wrong at my beloved Essendon.

And no, all those categories above apply to me and my life. But I made the decision several years ago, when I was reluctantly dragged into the twenty-first century and Facebook, that I would only share happy thoughts, honest thoughts, and not permit my voice to become negative.

I've seen it happen. Negativity only leads to a downward spiral from which a return can be difficult.

So happy thoughts this week at Chateau Cameron. I have a job. I have a home. I have great family and friends. I have books. I have music. I have film. I have art.

Life is good.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Continuum 11.

It's that time of year. Continuum 11 is on next weekend, and the program is looking great.

For those who have never heard of Continuum, here's the description from their website.

"Continuum is an annual Melbourne speculative fiction and pop culture fan convention celebrating creativity across genre and media. From hard-edge science fiction to high-flown fantasy, comic books to film noir, high culture to sub-culture … we sink our teeth into it all!

2015 marks our 11th convention, and we’re taking the time to celebrate Australia.  Not in a yellow-and-green-how-many-gold-medals-did-that-koala-get-in-the-sports way, but looking at Australia’s history and future, and also Australian genre and media, our fandom, and our people."

This will be my seventh Continuum. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I won't be able to attend the entire weekend as I usually do. I'm even unsure of when I can manage to drop in, But I will definitely be there Saturday afternoon.

I'm only on one panel this time, Religions in Spec Fic, alongside David McDonald, RJ Anderson, Alexandra Pierce and Stephanie Lai. 
Religions are portrayed as good and bad forces in specfic, but in Western SF there are certain long-standing traditions. What are "neglected" religions? Has the way religion been portrayed changed along with its changing role in society? What are some of the mistakes writers make when incorporating religion?
Come along to Continuum. Check out the Religions panel. And if you're not even sure you want to go, Friday night of the program is a gold coin donation entry.

You can't get anything better for that price these days.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

In Sunshine Bright And Darkness Deep.

And so I can announce my story, Bloodlust, has been selected for inclusion in the inaugural Australian Horror Writers Association showcase, In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep. Slated for publication at Halloween, the TOC and cover were published online last week.

I'm pleased to be included alongside name writers like Marty Young, Cameron Trost, Jason Nahrung, Joanne Anderton and Dan Rabarts.

I love the cover artwork by Greg Chapman.

And the blurb? Those South-East Asian vampiric gangsters would be mine. I first encountered them when I was walking through the KLCC underground passages in Kuala Lumpur. They didn't want to stay there, hidden away.
"In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep is an anthology like no other. The tales herein will take you on a weird and terrifying journey. You will set out on a road trip and find yourself trapped in the arid Australian outback where a little girl and her grandfather struggle to survive. There are isolated farmhouses threatened by bushfires and bullets, and rainforests teeming with bloodthirsty bugs. The cities are full of trouble too. The murky waters of the Brisbane River hide spiteful spirits and the suburbs are infested with insane inhabitants masquerading as ordinary human beings. Then, you will leave Australia, departing from Melbourne, to hunt down vampiric gangsters in Southeast Asia, before sailing future seas and visiting realms beyond this world altogether. This inaugural showcase anthology features the work of just a handful of the many talented and darkly imaginative authors who make up the Australian Horror Writers’ Association. If you are unfamiliar with Australian horror, let this book be just the first step on a long voyage of discovery."
The River Slurry • by Rue Karney
Triage • by Jason Nahrung
Upon the Dead Oceans • by Marty Young
Beast • by Natalie Satakovski
The Grinning Tide • by Stuart Olver
Our Last Meal • by J. Ashley Smith
Veronica's Dogs • by Cameron Trost
Bullets • by Joanne Anderton
Saviour • by Mark McAuliffe
The Hunt • by Mark Smith-Briggs
The Monster in the Woods • by Kathryn Hore
Road Trip • by Anthony Ferguson
Bloodlust • by Steve Cameron
Elffingern • by Dan Rabarts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Love A Good Review.

And this is a very good one.

My story, Outside World, which was published in Aurealis #80 last week, has been reviewed on Tangent. And the reviewer had some nice things to say about my story.

This is a story that came about from thinking about a couple of other stories while I was climbing Little Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka. The original idea certainly wasn't fully formed and needed a lot of cajoling to become the story it is now. And some rewrites. But I'm pleased with how it ended up, and it pretty much holds true to my original vision.

The review?
"Outside World," by Steve Cameron, is an allegory for people who are forcibly dispossessed in the real world. Veronica, the narrator, is the last of a small community which has been ordered to vacate to make room for a colony of stranded aliens. The aliens don't want to have to do this any more than she does, but her town sat on a mine that, while mostly stripped-out, still contains enough ore for the aliens to build what they need to repair their crippled ship. Refreshingly, they are not portrayed as evil: the one that we see, Aldreth, is just a person who wants to go home. As with "Loyalty,” (the other story in Aurealis #80) it's a variation on a concept that has been done often already, but Veronica's grief is deeply convincing, her character complex despite the shortness of the story.
Yep. I'll take a review like that any day. Thanks, Tangent.