Category Archives: linkage

Spring has sprung and I have too

Holla folks,

It’s going to be one of those annoying broundup-of-stuff-I’ve done-or-am-going-to-do posts, because I’ve been busy being AMAZING WRITER GUY  lately, in that way that you can be AMAZING WRITER GUY without doing much in the way of actual writing.

You know, like this guy.

What have I been doing?

  • I was a guest on the Romance Writers of Australia email list for a few days, answering questions about ebooks because people keep asking me such things. That was great fun! The email format gave me room to explore answers in more depth, and the questions pushed me to do some reading and research so I could get things right. Romance writers are great to work with; they’re really focused on the business of writing while still loving their genre and their stories. If only my heart wasn’t a lump of coal.
  • On the subject of ebooks, I had a bit of a chinwag with the guys at The Crime Factory about Kindle formatting and file conversion. They paid me with beer. I heartily endorse the alcohol-based economy that is at the heart of the small press publishing industry.
  • There was the Melbourne Writers Festival! But I didn’t really attend, because writers’ festivals of this kind don’t do a lot for me. I made an exception for Twelfth Planet Press’ launch of their Twelve Planets range of anthologies, which was great. It’s a terrific series, with work by an amazing variety of Australian writers including Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti, Cat Sparks, Kirstyn McDermott and many others. Plus the launch included a reading by Jason Nahrung from his novella Salvage, which I’m very keen to read. Plus plus I got to say hello to people I’d met at Continuum and then drink Sam Adams in the downstairs bar.
  • I got royalty payments from both Amazon and Smashwords, plus a nice big tax refund, all of which makes me feel a bit better about writing. Well, the tax refund was because I didn’t do much writing this year, but let’s not quibble.
  • I made pulled pork in the slow cooker. It was pretty boss.
  • And I’m still trying to work out why someone stole our front gate.

Have I been talking about myself?

  • Fuck yeah I have.
  • I mentioned last week that I was on the Read@UTS site talking about crime stories with Sean Riley and Pam Newton. And now I’m mentioning it again, because it was a really fun interview.
  • But not as much fun as the massive interview that I’ve been working on with Hugh Grimwade for the last few months. We’ve been trading emails and bon mots for ages, and now that we’ve finally finished he’s put the first instalment up on his blog, where we talk about when you decide you’re a writer and what the hell that means in the times you’re not writing. This was a hoot and a half, and there’s something like 5000 words in the three instalments – so if you read this blog but think that it just doesn’t have quite enough talk about me, well, get you hither to Mister Grimwade’s pad.

Read anything good?

  •  I read Volumes 4 and 5 of Locke and Key and the fact that I now have to wait for Volume 6 makes me want to scream and drink bleach in frustration. Jesus fuck, this series is so amazingly good.
  • I’ve just started Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men, and I mean that literally; I’m like four pages in. But so far they’re good pages.
  • There’s a very good review of The Obituarist over at Crime Fiction Lover. I read that a few times.

What next?

  • The big thing on my to-do list is this year’s Freeplay festival! I’ve attended this independent video games festival a couple of times, but this year I’ll be on a panel, talking about Sex and Death. Granted, I am not a writer or creator of video games, but I play them and have opinions about them and occasionally blog about when they say fucked-up things about gender and sexuality, so they asked me to come on the panel. I think I’m going to talk about Assassin’s Creed. Sort of.
  • Tomorrow night I’m going to the launch of Jay Kristoff’s new book Stormdancer, which is shaping up as the MONSTER hit of 2012. If you like your fantasy YA, Japanese-inspired, steampunk and really fucking well written, you need to read this book. And if you’re in the Melbourne CBD tomorrow night, the launch is at Dymocks. Come along! I’ll be the second-tallest guy in the room for once.
  • To fend off the tide of requests for an Obituarist sequel – it’s coming, I swear – I’ve started work on a stand-alone short story about Kendall Barber. No idea what to call it; I was toying with ‘Person of Pinterest’ but that doesn’t really work. Anyway, hoping to have that finished in the next couple of weeks, after which I’ll be giving it away COMPLETELY FREE on this blog and via Smashwords.
  • Also, playtesting the upcoming Atomic Robo RPG hells yeah this is going to be awesome DINOSAUR TO THE FACE

Quick recommendation – WAR ROCKET AJAX

I plugged Kieron Gillen’s podcast Decompressed earlier in the month, and I’m liking it a lot. But it’s not my favourite comic podcast, or indeed favourite podcast full stop.

That honour (I should have an award graphic) goes to War Rocket Ajax, the world’s most destructive comics and pop culture podcast, which is the highlight of my listening week.

WRA is hosted by Chris Sims and Matt Wilson, comics journalists and humour writers in the service of Comics Alliance. They are smart, funny guys in print and in pod, and both good indie prose/comics writers to boot. Wilson writes the webcomic Copernicus Jones and the recently released Supervillain Handbook (which I just bought for my wife); Sims has a number of free e-comics at Action Age Comics and has released two issues of the super-cheap (and really worthwhile) e-comic Dracula the Unconquered.

So they can walk the walk when they have to, but the main point of a podcast is to talk the talk, and they’re great at that too. A typical WRA episode has recommendations of stuff they’ve seen/read/played, reviews of 3-4 recent comics (usually superhero stuff), an interview with a comics creator (usually either an independent creator or one of the writers at Marvel), complete with questions from fans on Twitter, and then some general fuckin’ about to close things out.

Perennial topics include video games everyone else played 4 years ago, nerdcore music, the beat poetry that is Thrasher Magazine, the awfulness of Geoff Johns’ Justice League and the joys of Carolina barbecue, which inspired me into cooking pulled pork for the first time today. (It should be ready to eat about an hour after I post this; I’ll let you know how it turns out.) More than anything else, both these guys recognise that superhero comics should be fun, even when they’re sort-of serious, and that’s the lens through which they judge, enjoy and recommend stuff.

And when Nichole and I got married, they gave us a shout-out for the event. That made us pretty happy.

WRA’s been going for a while, but it’s pretty easy to jump right in wherever you like. A good hook is to scroll back through the archives until you find an interview with a creator you like. Two of my favourite episodes are the Dan DiDio Employee Evaluation (part 1 and part 2), which rip into the DC Co-Publisher’s list of his favourite projects; it’s a smart, critical look at those titles and what they say about DC’s current approach to the genre and the business of comics publishing.

Or just listen to last year’s Christmas episode, with guest starts Matt Fraction (writer of Iron Fist and Hawkeye) and nerdcore rapper Adam Warrock, where the four of them analyse the songs on the Insane Clown Posse/Psychopathic Records album Holiday Heat. I nearly blew a blood vessel in my head within the first 10 minutes of this episode from laughing, and it just ramped up from there. The editors in the adjoining desks probably thought I was having a seizure. It’s fucking funny, is what I’m trying to tell you.

War Rocket Ajax. Ask for it by name. Check it out. Download the destructiveness. Tell ’em I sent you.

Quick recommendation – DECOMPRESSED

Decompressed is a podcast produced by comics writer Kieron Gillen, perhaps best known for his Britpop-fantasy Phonogram and for suddenly graduating to writing a shitload of books for Marvel.

Decompressed is not about his work.

Instead it’s a comics-creation (mostly writing) craft blog where he interviews creators about their process, their decisions and the development of ideas into a specific single comic. Thus far he’s interviewed Jason Aaron (Wolverine and the X-Men), Kelly Sue deConnick (Captain Marvel), Tim Seeley & Mike Norton (Revival) and Matt Fraction and David Aja (Hawkeye, which I am seriously going to buy the fuck out of when it’s available as a trade).

And it’s really good stuff. Gillen asks the right questions in his soft English accent and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that he’s still relatively new to the industry. This is not an old hand talking about things he knows by rote; this is an excited newcomer still learning his craft asking ‘hey, why did you do that?’ and really wanting to know the answer. And his subjects love what they’re doing too, and the passion and the process ring out and ring true. It’s fucking fascinating.

If you’re not interested in how comics are conceived and written and drawn, this probably ain’t very interesting. But then again, if that were true you probably wouldn’t be sticking around on this blog in August. So go listen and check this fly shit out.

(PS – Decompressed is also available on iTunes.)

(PPS – And Gillen deserves mad props for a) telling me about amazing Brit-band Los Campesinos! in the back pages of Phonogram, which led to me listening to them every week for the past two years, and b) using one of their tracks as his intro/outro music. Seriously, they’re a great fucking band and you should listen to Romance is Boring right now.)

Resuming transmission… NOW!

I RETURN! LET TRUMPETS AND CORONETS BLART THEIR JOYOUS NOISE ACROSS THE INTERWEBS!

Ahem.

Miss me?

Where I’ve been

Last week N. and I went to the tiny Fijian island of Nanuya, some 4-5 hours by boat north of Nadi, to spend seven days and six nights relaxing, attending friends’ wedding and getting in a little honeymoon time of our own. We snorkelled, lay on beaches, swam, drank cocktails, drank massages and generally did nothing but enjoy ourselves – with a short aside to do a reading for Sabhdh and Peter, our getting-hitched friends.

Here I am at the wedding (with my pal Eamon) looking completely awesome in traditional Fijian shirt and sulu (skirt), a formal pinstripe model that I plan to wear to the office Christmas party, because it’s super-light and comfortable and it’ll be a million degrees that day.

It was a grand, grand time. Possibly one of the best times of my life. Especially the part where my wife and I held hands while snorkelling through a school of a million darting blue fish, suspended in cool water above an expanse of reef, in love and in paradise. That was the best part.

(Sabhdh is also the non-fiction blogger over at Boomerang Books, and you should check her column out once she gets back from her honeymoon.)

What I’ve been doing

We got back very late on Sunday night, and since then it’s been busy as H-E-double-hockeysticks, back at work and arse back on the grindstone.

But no-one wants to hear about my arse, do they? God, I hope not.

On the internet this week you can find me over at Louise Cusack’s site If You Must Write, where I give a quick and hopefully useful primer on how to independently publish your own ebooks. It’s neither the first nor last word on the subject, and it’s all very general; I could have written twice as much just on topics like sorting out US tax details or the proper use and value of a table of contents. But if you’ve been looking at indie ebooks thinking ‘could I do that?’, well, the answer is ‘yes’ and this may give you a bit of a head start.

You can also go check out this very positive review of The Obituarist over at the eNovella Review site, which says all sorts of nice things about my little book. Including that it could be good YA reading, something that I don’t quite understand and is prompting me to write that what-the-heck-is-YA-anyway post that’s been on my mind, possibly even this weekend.

Last night I saw the Afghan Whigs live, a gig I’ve been waiting nearly twenty years to see. And yeah, it was worth the wait. I saw Greg Dulli a couple of years ago when touring with/as the Twilight Singers, and that was good, but this was a stronger, punchier gig with all of the Whigs’ classic tracks, all jangly guitars and sleazy, lonely lyrics. The Hifi crowd was pumping and just the right size – and for an encore they busted out ‘Miles iz Dead’, the bonus B-side from Congregation, and that pretty much made my fucking week. Thank goodness that all us indie/grunge/subpop kids from the early 90s now have respectable jobs and can make it financially worthwhile for our fave bands to reform, tour and charge $70 a ticket at last.

Oh, and I saw Dark Knight Rises. Which was… hmm. Not as good as I’d hoped, due to very messy storytelling and pacing, massive plot holes and nowhere near enough Batman. On the other hand the acting/casting was uniformly excellent (especially Anne Hathaway), the development of themes within the movie dovetailed amazingly with those in the previous two films, and there were some gorgeously visceral setpieces. But still, something of a disappointment to me.

…and yes, of course I’m going to buy it on DVD and watch all three movies in a single night as soon as possible. Like that was ever in question.

What’s next?

Writing, of course. It’s been on the backburner for a bit as I got organised for the trip, flogged the last book around the internets and did, you know, living things. But now I have a head full of concepts and half-developed lines for Raven’s Blood and that old itch is building up – that terrible itch that crawls up my neck and reminds me that I could be writing, creating, making something; that it’s time for me to do the only thing I’m good at. Because there may never be another chance.

It’s very Shakespearean. And Batmantarian.

Plus I’ve managed to sort out the other half of my ideas for The Obituarist’s inevitable sequel, which I’m now formally committing to writing, hopefully by the end of the year. But don’t hold me to that date. Really, don’t.

I also need to write reviews for the books I read in Fiji, as per my last blog post – especially for Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, which completely blew me away. Just need to find the time and the spark to come up with something fitting.

Stupid spark. Why can’t I just be on fire ALL THE TIME?

…god, I wish I was back on Nanuya.

Welcome to the EOFY Follies

It’s the first of July! A time where we traditionally look back upon our accomplishments of the previous twelve months and wonder how much extra tax we will have to pay as a consequence!

Oh yes. Doesn’t that sound like fun.

But rather than calculate my writing earnings since mid-2011 (sob), or write another great long diatribe like I did last week, I thought I’d take this as a chance to quickly memorialise the cool things that happened in June around this here internet and see what they promise for the 12-13 year. Which will perhaps finally be the year when I make enough money from writing to quit the day job and just drink Old Fashioneds in my underwear by the pool all day.

And now that I’ve said it, you can’t unsee it.

What I’ve been doing

  • I just finished laying out the pages of The Obituarist’s limited print run! And I do mean limited – I’m planning on running off maybe 25-30 of these through Blurb. And once I have them, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with them. But hey, the important thing is that they’ll exist! In any event, I should have the rest of the details sorted out this week and the books by the end of July.
  • I also just had a meeting with Ben McKenzie about the audiobook version of The Obituarist, where we hashed out various points and scribbled down our to-do lists. It’s super-exciting! Especially since crime is probably the single most popular genre in audio fiction. Stay tuned for more on that as we put it together.
  • I did some work on Raven’s Blood, but time spent on promoting the last book is time I can’t spend writing the next book, which is one of the frustrating things in this life. I hope to get more time for that in July and start building up a head of steam, probably by adopting the same 1000-words-a-night program that got The Obituarist finished.
  • There was the EWF and Continuum at the start of the month, but I’ve already talked about those things at great length.
  • We playtested the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons. I can’t say I’m a fan at this point.
  • I created a fan page for myself on Facebook and began spending more time on Google+, because I have a terrible fear that I’m just not talking about myself enough.
  • I read a lot of comics and not enough books.

What other people have been doing

  • Jay Kristoff launched a stunning new website for himself and his soon-to-be-released novel Stormdancer, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest things to hit YA fantasy in ages. He’s a top bloke and a good writer and (believe it or not) even taller than I am, so go check it out – and check out the first three chapters of Stormdancer over at Tor.com.
  • Foz Meadows has been on fire this month with a series of scorching blog posts that ask tough questions and (sigh) bring trolls out of the woodwork. Her initial post on rape culture in gaming (there’s that topic again) drew attention and a flood of comments, both positive and negative; her follow-up post about the attention and commentary is also really interesting as a look at the kind of discussion and conversation this topic creates. And on a different note, this week’s post on sex scenes in YA fiction and why they matter is also really interesting, particularly for those of us thinking of writing in that genre.
  • Margaret Weis Publishing put out the Civil War supplement for their Marvel superhero RPG, and speaking as a comics nerd and roleplayer, guys, this book is pretty goddamn great. Significantly better than the Civil War comics, in fact.
  • Mur Lafferty released all – yes, all – of her ebooks for free! I think the offer’s only for a limited period, so don’t delay, go download the zip file and fill your Kindle/Nook/iPad/direct neural interface post right now.
  • Indie nerdcore hip-hop artist Adam Warrock is running a donation drive, and it’s worth giving him some cash so he can keep putting out free mixtapes of tracks about Firefly, old Marvel comics, popular TV shows and other cool shit. Because that shit is awesome, guys.
  • After being axed by Campbell Newman and the appalling reactionary politics of the new LNP government – who, hey, are also fucking over GLBTs, women and pretty much anyone who didn’t vote for them – the Queensland Literary Awards are being revived by local readers, writers and decent human beings. But it all takes money, so that’s why you should go pitch in to their fundraising page at Pozible.
  • While you’re there, you should also donate some money to Fee Plumley and The Really Big Road Trip, a project to create a mobile art space for creative digital culture and technological art. I met Fee at the EWF and was blown away by her passion and dedication to creative digital culture; help her share that passion and bring it to spaces around Australia.
  • You probably already know that Chuck Wendig has a new book of writing tips and advice out, 500 Ways to Tell a Better Story, because Chuck has approximately eleventy-billion readers and you all think he’s Piss Christ. Which is fair; he is in fact Piss Christ. But on the off-chance you didn’t know about the release, well, go here and read all about it.
  • And finally I just want to link to this post by comics writer Gail Simone, who – in addition to being fucking hilarious on Twitter – also presents one of the best, simplest pieces of advice to any writer, artist or creator in any field.

What you could do next

  • Remember how I said I was writing a crime story to submit to Crime Factory? Well, they passed on it as not right for them, and that’s completely fair enough. I’ll look for another home for it or maybe just give it away here. But, much more importantly, they’re gearing up for another special edition collection, Horror Factory, and they’re looking for horror stories! If you’re a horror writer (local or international), why not put together a story and submit it to them by the end of August? I know I sure as hell will.
  • And then I’ll write another horror story and submit it to Nightmare Magazine, which is currently open for submission and paying a very respectable 5 cents a word for pieces! It’s a good time for writing horror, so don’t let me do it alone – get those fingers bleeding onto your keyboard and write.
  • If you live in Melbourne and want to see me in the flesh (eww), come along to Dungeon Crawl this Wednesday night! The monthly improvised comedy show is drifting from its D&D-flavoured roots to celebrate all things superhero – so this one-time impro hound and long-time supers fanboy is pulling the costume out of mothballs and rejoining the Fantastic Four! Or, more precisely, joining the Dungeon Crawl team as the fourth member of this month’s performance group! Come along and laugh at me, preferably for the right reasons!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s a cold and rainy night, and I’m going to go join my wife under the doona and watch a kung-fu movie. Happy Carbon Tax Apocalypse Day to you all.

Launched from last weekend

Hi folks,

I promised new flash fiction and I will deliver, but not tonight – too busy this week with things like a day job, returning to the gym after a long absence and wishing I was dead because everything hurts after returning to the gym after a long absence.

Instead, tonight, I’d like to explode with links in a follow-up from last weekend’s Continuum convention. I had the chance to meet a lot of interesting writers, bloggers and podcasters over that weekend, whether as co-panelists or just from talking in the bar, and it’d be nice to tell all y’all about them and spread some of the love.

  • Deborah Biancotti chaired the ‘I Don’t Get It’ panel and was both charming and very skilled at getting people back on track when they’d gone off on tangents. She’s a Sydney-based writer; I haven’t read her anthology A Book of Endings but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and I’ve liked the excerpts of other work I’ve read. She’s jumped into my to-read list right away.
  • Peter Ball was on the aforementioned panel and another panel on creating RPG worlds. He’s also a Brisbanite, a friend of a friend, a gamer and a comics reader, so frankly I’m kind of shocked it took us this long to meet. He likes Power Man and Iron Fist, tweets about terrible movies, blogs about writing and has two novellas on Smashwords. He’s good fucking value.
  • Ian Mond is a writer and podcaster, one of those overactive podcasters who knows all the other podcasters and they have like special podcastparties that I never get invited to and I should probably stop this sentence now. Anyway, he puts out two podcasts, The Writer and the Critic with Kirstyn McDermott (which won both a Chronos and a Ditmar award on the weekend) and the irreverent Shooting the Poo with some other people. We talked about comics and the problems with the DC reboot. I liked him.
  • Grant Watson was also on that same panel and agreed with me that Suicide Squad is basically God’s punishment on this fallen world, so he gets props. I listened to his comics podcast Panel2Panel this week and dug it; he has another podcast called Bad Film Diaries which I haven’t heard but I can guess what it’s about. Anyway, cool stuff.
  • Louise Cusack has been a guest of mine on the blog in the past, but I got a chance to actually meet with her and have a chat over the weekend, and she’s just lovely. We only touched base officially in the session where we were doing readings, along with Jo Spurrier and Danny Fahey, where we all bonded over the fact that pretty much nobody came to hear us. Oh well!
  • Jack Dann doesn’t need an introduction; he’s one of the giants of Australian speculative fiction. He was kind enough to moderate the panel on independent publishing. And he was really pleasant too.
  • Steven O’Connor is a YA writer who had his first novel lauded and launched by a major publisher who pulled the plug on the series before the sequel came out. Now he’s trying to get the rights back  while learning the ins and outs of independent e-publishing. He was a really nice chap who’s been thrown in at the deep end and he’s blogging about his learning process, which is a valuable thing and worth reading about.
  • Russell Farr is the founding editor of Ticonderoga Publications, who have really gained market in the last few years to become one of Australia’s biggest independent spec-fic publishers. He was on the indie publishing panel to give insight into the non-ebook, non-going-it-alone approach, and he was gracious, open to discussion and a real class act. I want to be in his books now.
  • Tor Roxburgh is a really interesting lady who decided to publish her fantasy novels herself and managed the entire process like a professional publisher, from hiring designers to picking paper stock and booking an international printer. I saw her book, The Light Heart of Stone, at the EWF’s Pages Parlour and it is indistinguishable from a big publisher’s product. I hope to lure Tor onto here to talk about this in the next month or two.
  • Sean Wright is a book blogger and reviewer from South Australia who’s been saying some very positive things about The Obituarist online. We hung out in a hallway after the independent publishing panel to chat about that and the differences in structure, narrative and audience engagement between crime and speculative fiction. Hopefully that’s a conversation we can continue online later.

These are cool people. You should check them out.

June moon spoon dune

Right, after running myself a bit ragged at the Emerging Writers Festival last weekend, the sensible thing would be to rest and recharge for a bit before going onto the next thing.

But ‘sensible’ is a dirty word in The O’Duffy Dictionary, one of several significant errors that have made it almost impossible to sell the damned thing. And because of this I’m jumping back into word action like Batroc the Leaper going to a poetry slam.

First up, Continuum! I have my program details, so here’s where and when you can catch me being on a panel and sounding all clever and writerly despite the fact that I wear shoes with Batman symbols on them.

  • 9pm Friday – I Don’t Get It: Why is it that some fans just don’t like what everyone else does? And who better to ask than me, a person who doesn’t like anything? But I don’t hate much either, so rather than just reciting all the things I don’t care about, like Star Wars and Harry Potter, the other panelists (Peter Ball, Alan Stewart, Ian Nichols and Deborah Biancotti) are hopefully also going to talk about fan tribalism, internet belligerence and how silly it is to ‘hate’ a piece of media.
  • 9am Saturday – Everything Old is New Again: AH GOD I HATE THE DC COMICS REBOOT SO MUCH AND YES I AM AWARE OF THE IRONY THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I’ll be talking to Ian Mond and Grant Watson (one of whom apparently likes the New DC 52) about just much the DC Reboot has sucked, how reading Geoff Johns’ Justice League made me hate characters I’ve loved for decades and why female, gay and POC readers might think DC’s vaunted ‘diversity’ tastes like a bowl full of lies and dirty hair.
  • 4pm Sunday – Readings: I’m doing a reading! From something! I have no idea what, though, since I don’t know if The Obituarist is what folks at a SF convention want to hear. Possibly a story from Godheads, or maybe even some of that first chapter of Raven’s Blood as a work-in-progress. Hmm. Anyway, I’m last in the 4-5pm slot after Louise Cusack, Danny Fahey and Jo Spurrier, so that should be super fun.
  • 8pm Sunday – Build it and They Will Come: Talking about RPG setting design with Peter Ball, Hespa and Darren Sanderson. My tack is that game settings are settings, not worlds, and that they need to be constructed and run to revolve around the player characters, a stance that some will agree with and other won’t. Maybe a chair will be thrown! Or perhaps not.
  • 11am Monday – Independent Publishing and Speculative Fiction: Pretty much what it says on the tin. Me and my fellow panelists (Jack Dann, Tor Roxburgh and Steven O’Connor) will talk about how Australian spec-fic is moving into ebooks and small/independent presses and what that might mean in the future for writers and readers. I imagine there’ll be less shouting than at the DC Reboot panel.

So that promises to be a pretty busy long weekend. Especially as we also have interstate visitors and at least two parties to go to. Fun! Anyway, if you’re coming to Continuum, feel free to say hi, sit in on a panel or pester me until I admit that alright, Scott Snyder’s Batman is pretty good BUT THAT DOESN’T CHANGE ANYTHING.

The other thing I’ll be doing this weekend? Writing, of course! Having just started my new novella, I’m going to immediately change gears and write a couple of short crime stories.

Why? Because last weekend I happened to discover The Crime Factory, a Melbourne-based publisher putting out both a regular journal and a number of anthologies of local and international crime fiction and criticism. I wandered past their table at the EWF’s Pages Parlour (a gathering of local small presses) for a chat and learned about what they’re up to. As a result, the guys asked me to submit a story for consideration in later projects and I’ve already got underway on a rather nasty piece or two. No promises or anything, but damn, it’s very nice to be asked to submit a story somewhere. Makes me feel like I’ve arrived.

More word on that if/when anything comes of it. And in the meantime, go check out the ludicrously cheap Crime Factory #10 and martial arts-themed Kung-Fu Factory (both just 99c on Amazon) and their anthology The First Shift as well. There’s some really good stuff in there; Kung-Fu Factory is worth it alone for the hilarious psychobilly piece ‘Crotch Rockets’ by Anthony Neil Smith.

Also, before I threw myself down the rabbit hole, I had a chance to talk to Jason Nahrung about crime, spec-fic and where things are going as part of the Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot 2012 that he and a number of other bloggers and writers are making.

You can find our discussion here, where I try to come off like I know what I’m talking about and occasionally succeed. But don’t stop there – check out the other profiles on Jason’s blog and follow the links to read more on other blogs. It’s a really fascinating look at what’s happening in Australian speculative writing – where we’ve been and where we going – and I think Jason and his fellows deserve huge kudos for it, as does irascible author Ben Peek for starting the ball rolling a few years ago.

(And if you’re at Continuum, don’t miss the launch for Jason’s new novella Salvage at 7pm on Friday night!)

And if that’s not enough, I also plan to do a big analysis of The Obituarist‘s performance in May and go over the details in a weekend (well, Monday) blog post. There will be graphs.

SMELL THE EXCITEMENT.

He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere

On Sunday I said that I wouldn’t spend so much time talking here about The Obituarist, and by God I meant it.

So instead, I’m gonna talk about all the other places where I have been (or will be) talking about The Obituarist.

IT’S A RULES-LEGAL LOOPHOLE DAMNIT

…man, I have really got to get out of this sudden all-caps habit.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been doing this week:

Can I just say that this whole interview thing is AWESOME FUN? Because it is. It’s like getting drunk and talking about writing except that you’re sober (bad) and no-one interrupts you (good!).

I should have a couple of more interviews coming up in the next couple of weeks; I’ll keep you posted as they come together. One that I’m UNBELIEVABLY EXCITED  about isn’t in print – I should (fingers crossed) be on 3RRR Radio’s Byte Into It program on May the 23rd. How incredibly fucking cool is that! I promise to talk excitedly and largely incoherently about social media and identity theft and not spend too much time plugging my book.

And lest we forget, the other major activity on the horizon is the Emerging Writers’ Festival, and my involvement as the coach/cheerleader/chief bully for the online team at the Rabbit Hole writing boot camp event. I’m getting my ducks in a row for that and will be writing more on the topic this coming weekend.

(I also hope to get a slot at the EWF Open Mic on the 3rd of June to do a quick reading from The Obituarist, but that’s first-in-best-dressed and I can’t promise I’ll get in. But show up anyway, just in case!)

So yeah. May. It’s been a pretty AMAZEBALLS month, and shows no signs of letting up soon.

And on the third day he blogged again in accordance with the Scriptures

***insert gross sneezing noises***

Oh, hello there. Don’t mind me, I’m just plague-ridden and exhausted. You know, when I was younger (and not that much younger either) I’d use the Easter weekend as a chance to party as hard as I possibly could and hit up a string of raves, festivals, house parties and BBQs before collapsing on Monday and sleeping for 20 hours.

Now, at age 41, I’ve spent the four-day weekend writing, cleaning and sniffling. Goodbye, rock and roll.

But hey, I’m getting stuff done, which is good. The Obituarist continues apace and I’m on target to finish this draft by next weekend, at which point it goes out to the editor and for feedback from my readers. Plus I have a line on a designer to approach regarding the cover, which I’ll do during the review/editing window. All of which makes me feel super-organised and not at all like a shut-in drinking bad coffee and wearing trackpants all day.

I’ve also been out to some Comedy Festival shows; you can see my reviews of Tessa Waters, Dingo & Wolf and Daniel Burt on The Pun, along with reviews of many other shows. I also saw Damian Callinan, who was terrific, and would recommend The Peer Revue except that it’s already finished its run.

I don’t have much else to talk about at the moment, but rather than cut things short right there, I wanted to drop a few links to other blogs, events and postings that are worth your time and eyeballs.

  • Cat Valente posted this amazing essay about reactions to Christopher Priest’s criticism of this year’s Clarke Award nominees and how different (and loathsome) those reactions might have been if a woman had written the exact same thing. It’s a fantastic post that uses a lot of genuine examples of the negative reactions women draw just from being female on the Internet, so naturally a bunch of the comments are that she’s wrong and that never happens and men have it just as hard and YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID ‘COS BITCHES AIN’T SHIT and so forth. But not that many of the comments, thankfully. Anyway, it’s a really strong piece and I think it’s worth reading and considering even if you disagree with her premise or conclusions.
  • Kirstyn McDermott has written a piece in partial response to Cat Valente’s essay that is also well worth a read, where she talks about her own experiences of feminism and internet responses to women with opinions.
  • And speaking of blogging about feminism and writing, Foz Meadows continues to impress with her essays, including this pair about default narrative sexism in fantasy worlds and how that then interacts with sexism within wider geek circles.
  • Former Queenslander Jason Nahrung vents some spleen over the axing of the QLD Premier’s Literary Awards – not the worst thing Campbell Newman will probably do to my former home, but certainly one a lot of writers find immediately upsetting. Jason also has some good news, though, in that a group of writers, booksellers and artslovers are trying to get an alternative set of awards up and running – more info here.
  • Like many others, Jay Kristoff saw The Hunger Games recently (I haven’t, but I’ve got to be different), and he has some thoughts on the rating it received and how we look at sex and violence in stories for/about teenagers. Jay also thinks a lot about steampunk – not surprising, given the nature of his soon-to-be-released novel Stormdancer – and has put down some interesting thoughts about the evolution of the subgenre over at the blog Steamed.
  • Alan Baxter is also talking about The Hunger Games (jeez, I’m really falling behind here), in this case the novel and what he sees as flaws in both the story and the way some adults think about YA fiction. Alan also has a new e-novella out called The Darkest Shade of Grey, which you should all investigate and perhaps buy for the low price of $1.99.
  • And another thing Alan is involved with is Thirteen O’Clock, a new collaborative blog about horror news and reviews. He and fellow editors/writers Felicity Dowker and Andrew McKiernan are doing their best to cover a lot of new and independent books and projects, from both Australia and overseas, and if you’re interested in horror fiction it’s well worth a look.
  • News out this week is a set of Gallup survey stats showing that people are actually reading far more now – and reading more books at that – than they did 25 or 50 years ago. Which gives me hope.
  • And in closing, Text From Dog wins the entire Internet.

Alright, that’s enough out of me for the night. Next update should hopefully just say FINISHED in eleventy-hundred-point type above a picture of a coffin.

One of the cool kids

So I turned 41 on Friday.

Thank you, thank you, yes I don’t look a day over 33, you’re too kind.

It was a day marked by spontaneous outpourings of love and respect from people all over the planet, which is amazing and always makes me feel humbled and incredibly fortunate.

PLUS I GOT PHAT LOOTS.

Said loots include an excellent and stylish watch, books, a Lego Batplane set (!!!), a variety of vouchers for buying graphic novels, and…

Yes, I done got me a Kindle, thanks to the efforts of my amazing wife and our most excellent friends. And it is a thing of beauty – 155 grams of processing power, with a minimal but easy-to-use interface and enough space to store a metric shit-tonne of ebooks.

I have, of course, immediately put all my own ebook titles on it, and have finally been able to examine them in their native environment and realise that I don’t like some of the formatting. So I’ll need to do some work on those – both Kindle Store and Smashwords versions – to get them up to snuff.

I also have a few other titles on there, including Chuck Wendig’s Shotgun Gravy and Greg Stolze’s Switchflipped, both of which I can now read in comfort without balancing a laptop on my knees while riding the bus. More will come, once I start working out how to filter down the impossible volume of ebooks on the market to find the ones I want.

Yes, I’m now a consumer as well as a producer, and can start developing my own impressions about ebooks and how expensive they are. It’s exciting.

Also rather exciting is the appearance of Hotel Flamingo and Godheads in The Book Designer‘s ebook cover design awards for February. They didn’t win, but I’m assuming that the covers are listed in descending order of awesomeness, which means they placed pretty high. I’m chuffed no matter what.

Speaking of cover designs, I’m still working out what to do for The Obituarist; I’m very happy with the great work Design Junkies did on those two books, but it’d be good to try something different for the next one. So if there are any graphic designers reading who’d like to work on an ebook cover – and can work within my budgetary constraints – drop me a line and talk to me!

(As for Nine Flash Nine, I’m talking to an illustrator about that one for something different again, but it’s a while away still.)

Work on The Obituarist continues apace. I’m actually having a lot of fun writing it, which is very out of character for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

The problem has been finding time to write it, as this has been a very busy couple of months, what with the day job, social life, travelling and writing horse-choking blog posts every 3-4 days. Which, as you may have noticed, I’m cutting back on a little, now that all that book pricing stuff is done and dusted.

But still, the hope is that I can finish a first draft by the end of March. I’m actually going to New Zealand in a week or so to spend 5 days travelling around the North Island and meeting with textbook authors and consultants for my day job. But by night, I plan to eschew the fleshpots of Auckland and Palmerston North to hunker down in my hotel room and bang out one 1000-word chapter after another.

Let’s see how that goes.

In closing – it’s a short post tonight – I want to reiterate the fact that my wife is amazing. Just amazing.

She’s my sunshine, you know.

Also, LEGO BATPLANE.