Saturday, December 17, 2011

What I've been doing and what I plan to do...

I’ve been watching....

Torchwood: Miracle Day – great idea, what would happen if people stopped dying? But lousy story. There’s no villain, just a shady conspiracy theory with no particular direction and our band of heroes are just dithering around following spurious leads that don’t really reveal anything or go anywhere.

James Bond – every Saturday night, TVNZ have been showing all of the Bond movies, in order. Great Fun, even the rubbish ones. I was surprised at how good ‘On her majesty’s secret service” was – it being the one with George Lazenby. And ‘Live and Let Die’ shows just how cool the 70’s were, at least, the jet-setting, digital watch, coffee maker and pale blue flares side of it was.

Aliens Resurrection – nonsense, drivel, just plain bad. Though Winona Ryder was still very cute.

I’ve been reading....

Stranger in a strange land by Robert Heinlen – hard work, an awful lot of philosophy and not so much action, but great, sixties-style, tripped-out, free-lovin fun. I grok it is a goodness.

Dolores Clairborne by Stephen King – excellent stuff from the master. Gripping, quirky thriller.

Imajica by Clive Barker – I’ve just started it, and it’s intriguing so far. A big difference between Barker and King is that Barker’s characters aren’t really regular people – they are artists or aristocrats or dealers in forgeries; there’s no normal people with normal jobs like in King’s, largely, blue-collar world of domestic violence and alcohol abuse. This doesn’t make Barker any less engaging, he still manages to make his characters believable, and both Barker and King conjure up awesome fantasty.

The Spy who came in from the cold by John le Carre – very good, grim, grey and hard cold war thriller. Set in the early 1960’s but there is no sign of any swinging going on, just grimy bedsits, menial filing jobs and bleak weather. No really, it’s a cracking read!

I’ve been writing...

I did manage to complete the “prologue” of The Power, so I have a kind of “origin” story for the Man with a Billion Brains, and the groundwork for the bigger story to come.

I will be doing…in 2012

Write and publish in e-book form a couple of novellas, one for end of April, one for November...

Write The War on Mars.
Write The Power.
Find homes for those poor, unloved short stories, currently limping around on my hard drive.
Do a Triathlon.
Have mild 40th birthday mid-life crisis (will have to be approved by my wife).

Right, and this month’s drabble....with apologies to my Reader in Carterton; Appendicitis is NOT funny.

The Intelligent Designer had a hangover. What had the party been about; something about the Boss’s son being born in a million years’ time.
The Boss never had hangovers. “Get the humans finished,” he’d shouted, “they’re made in my image so better be done right. Not like that platypus thing.”
The Designer groaned. The human was nearly done. Hang on, what was the appendix doing there? It was a leftover from a cow. A shameful memory surfaced.
“Is it done?” shouted the Boss.
Sod it. He sewed up the human. He was sure the appendix wouldn’t cause any trouble later.

So what have my vast army of followers been watching/ reading/ doing/ planning to do?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The rough end of publishing...

A little bad news, the Twisted Library Press, where I had my Trip Hawker and superhero story waiting for publication has cancelled all of its upcoming anthologies.

According to Dr Pus (the man in charge of this small publishers), he couldn't afford to do the anthologies - they cost him around $1500 each to publish and the economic times made it impossible to fund them; he said he was struggling with his dental practice and so something had to give.

Very unfortunate, as I got the impression that he was a guy trying to get his small press up and running (a tough job even in a good economic climate) and was very keen on giving new writers a chance for publication.

Micheal Lea, who was editing the superhero anthology, said he would look for a new publishers so I was happy to let him keep hold of my story in the meantime, although he could promise nothing about when they might ever occur. From my point of view, the story was written to fit his book so unless I see a open submission that it would somehow work for, I'm not in a hurry to find a new home for it.

Trip Hawker, alas, joins the list of my homeless short stories......he's not alone.

I will concentrate on getting some decent work done on a novel (one or other) until the end of the year, then have a sort through the pile and see what can go where and get them back out into the world.

As a tribute to the horror fun and jollies of the Twisted Library Press, and because I'm reading the wonderfully creepy "Hell House" by Richard Mathieson, here is a 100 words of haunted house horror:

Floyd looked round the table at the other two survivors of Helmdark Hall.

Margot was smug; surely possessed. It explained Dr Tewk’s disappearance.

Vijay was distraught; he’d watched his wife hurl herself to her death. No use now, but the Presence might decide to use him as a weapon.

Floyd was ready.

The table rocked. Margot laughed. Floyd pulled his revolver and fired.

Margot slumped, whispering “idiot.”

The knife flew from Vijay’s sleeve. Vijay was unaware, even when it hit Floyd’s throat.

Floyd’s mind went black; he heard voices. Tewk agonised, pleading forgiveness. Margot furious. The last voice just laughed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I blame the Rugby World Cup!!

A while back I posted on how much I was getting into writing my novel (The Power!!), and how I was cheerfully churning out at least 500 words a day, how I would surge onwards to have a first, rough draft done by Xmas...
Then there was New Zealand Spec Fic Blogging week - I DID achieve my goal of 7 blogs in 7 days, being 7 drabble episodes of a self contained story...but my novel writing slid a little.
And then I reached a bit of a big ending to the first chapter of my novel - and I really had to grind out 500 or so awful words to get going on that bit...and haven't been able to get back to it since.

What also got in the way was talking about an idea I had for a more YA adventure, steampunky story set on Mars at the last Wellington SpecFic meet-up - I worried that the idea was just so unoriginal..but Craig and Paul seemed shocked by the idea that this should stop me writing it. So I started writing it, which gets in the way of the other novel.

Oh, and then Paul said how he was taking submissions for a horror anthology that I thought one of my homeless short stories might fit into so then took some time to tweak that (again).

So all in all, a fair lack of discipline to keep focused on ONE project.

Oh and six weeks of storming rugby action (talking of lacking discipline, I was supporting England) where awesome New Zealand held one of the biggest parties in the world, kept me from The Novel too.

The status now - NZ won the Rugby World Cup (at last), they had a victory parade through Wellington this lunchtime, and I have plugged away at my Mars story.

Goals for November
  • Finish that last bit of the first chunk of The Power (maybe a thousand or so words).
  • Write the 2nd chapter of The War on Mars (2 or 3 thousand words?).
  • Finish editing the horror story for the anthology and submit.
  • Watch less TV.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Going Down - Finale

Colin had found papers explaining the conspiracy that had taken his life. A gorgeous naked girl appeared from nowhere.
“I’m Tasha,” said the girl, “from a grim future you created.”
“That’s what it says here.”
“Do they say I have to kill you?”
“No, but apparently you can fix my iPod.” He laid the stylish gadget beside her hand.
She tapped her wristpad. The iPod turned on.
Colin’s sense of personal status and satisfaction returned. All of the bitterness that had consumed the future was gone.
Tasha vanished, paradoxically, from existence. Colin put in his earphones and left the office.

So there we are, 7 one hundred word chapters in seven days.
And what have I learned from this? Mainly that it is quite fun to just run at a story without any clue about where its going, BUT, it would be best to review and re-write before putting it out there. I feel a few changes a couple of chapters ago would have made the ending make more sense.

And the other thing I learn is that I really do benefit from a deadline. At least something gets written when there's one to spur me on, even if it is just my own deadline.

Tomorrow, the novel continues. Tonight, young Colin goes back to his life...or does he?

Going Down Part 6

“Tell us,” said Vellus, the Leader, “The name on the discs?”
Colin shrugged. “An office in Swindon. Taking away people’s lives, erasing them. From all systems.”
“The name?” said Vellus. Tasha watched a monitor.
“My name.”
“Time travel,” said Tasha. “Screws everything. The drones are getting closer.”
Vellus sighed. “If we send you back, you’ll take charge of everything.”
Colin smiled. “Kill me now.”
“No need,” said Tasha. “The drones are here.” She tapped her wristpad.”
The drones poured death upon their bunker.
In the office in Swindon, Colin looked up. A naked girl had appeared in front of him.

Is Colin finally dead? Or is he behind the whole conspiracy? Is there any hope that any of this will make any sense at all?

Tune in tomorrow for the last part!!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Going Down - Part 5

Colin’s hut was obliterated. With him in it.
He sat up. A car flew past the window.
“That worked, then,” said the brunette, donning a black body suit. Colin was naked.
She threw him a suit. “Clothes don’t do time travel. I’m Tasha.”
“Time travel?”
“Yes. You were completely incinerated. But you’re too important to die. I had to save you.”
Colin felt tingly as he dressed.
“Sub-atomic mapping.”
She glanced out the window. Drones fired energy bolts at them.
Tasha tapped the wall. A green glow appeared. She grabbed Colin.
Colin’s body dissolved. They flew into the energy stream.

Hmm, all getting a bit weird now - who would have thought that there would be time travel? Certainly not least, until I had to think of some way of getting Colin out of the hut.

More tomorrow as we thunder towards our big finale....and I promise, no cop-outs!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Going Down - Part 4

And on we go......

Sergeant Stein was satisfied with the test firing. Admittedly, it was hardly the toughest shot, just an old hut.
Obviously, the hut was uninhabited.
Though, there had been that flash in the window.
But his Commander said it was empty, so that was that.
The Commander didn’t question the mission. He reported its success to the Ministry.
The Civil servant approved the report and sent it to the Department.
The department noted the approval and sent it to the originator.
In an Office in Swindon, a box was ticked, and the paper filed.
No need for questions. Everything was approved.

Crikey - I've only got three hundred words to wrap this thing up! Did Colin escape? And if so, HOW?

A quick Beta City update - I asked what was happening with the anthology and the editor, Michael C Lea was good enough to get back - it's all still moving forward, abeit a little slowly, mainly due to various issues.

I really hope I make the cut with this one - Michael has a professional approach so I'd hope that this would be a really good book to be in. Fingers continue to be crossed.

"Rockets, swords and rainbows", however, seems to have slid into some strange limbo and I don't seem to get any updates...

Ah well, I will carry on hammering out my novel - hopefully finish the first rough-as draft by year end then I will revisit my homeless short stories, see if I can spruce them up a bit and find them homes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going Down - Part 3

And on to Part 3 - a bit of exposition, a smidge of character development and a challenge for our protagonist.

Colin’s life had been rubbed out. Made redundant, defriended from Facebook, bank accounts closed. Utilities had been cut-off and even his flat had been let to someone else. But Colin was no ordinary person; he was an ex-Extreme Customer Service Representative.
In his Orkneys hideaway, he searched through stolen disks on his old PC. One address kept coming up, an office in Swindon.
Now it was time to take his life back.
And then he noticed the tiny chip on the stolen disk. Then he heard the ominous sound of helicopter blades.
The missiles hit the hut; the hut exploded.

This is turning into an interesting writing exercise - just a rush of pure narrative. Character, description (of characters and places etc), dialogue - all have to take a bit of a back seat, but the story just has to charge forward.

So, stay tuned for Part 4 tomorrow - will our hero escape? Who or what is based in the office in Swindon? Don't ask me - I won't find until tomorrow either. I'm sure Colin will be OK...or  will he?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Going Down - Part 2

So far, so good, so generally coherent.... in the first episode, Colin's life was falling apart having lost his job, his girlfriend, his iPod and finally, his bank account. BUT, it's time to fight back.....

The Bank Manager was scared, because a customer had actually found him and because he was hanging over the edge of a tall building.

“I want my account back,” snarled Colin.
“They won’t let us.”
“Who won’t?”
The Manager shut up, more scared of “them” than Colin.
Colin left him hanging. In the Manager’s office he found some “floppy” disks.

Back at Colin’s flat, there were some serious Goons around. It had come to this; somehow, Colin always knew it would.
Two days later, in a hideaway in the Orkneys, Colin fired up his Atari ST and inserted the disks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

New Zealand Spec Fic Blogging Week - Post1

Seven days - seven drabbles (being a story EXACTLY 100 words long).

And these seven drabbles will be seven, 100 word chapters of a daily serial story. The challenge is that I refuse to make a plan ahead - I'll write each one each day and have to make it work. So we will see..

So here goes with Chapter One of what I am calling "Going Down":

It was a bad week. Made redundant, broken iPod, girlfriend defriending him on Facebook. Then he opened the letter from the bank.
His account was closed because he failed to respond to two letters that he never received. He called the bank.
After a couple of hours, an actual human spoke to him.
“You failed to respond, we closed your account.”
“Where’s my money, then?”
“But you don’t have an account.”
After an hour of this, Colin realised that he wasn’t speaking to a human after all.

But they’d messed with the wrong man. It was time to fight back.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The sweet smell of rejection....

Ah well - last month I promised my Monster Hunter story would be out there by now - it went out there and came right back. To be honest, it was written because there was a deadline, not really from a sense that I had a story to tell, so it couldn't help but be a bit clunky and odd.
Also - my tale of rock'n'roll'n'zombies got spat back - at least not actually rejected but the anthology that it was intended for has been put on hold for at least a year...which is a pity because I quite liked that one. We will see where else it can go. Suggestions welcome.
The anthology that "Trip Hawker and The asteroid of Vengeance" was supposed to be going into seems to have frozen - no updates, no replies etc for months.
Hopefully my superhero story will make the final cut for its anthology (and hopefully there'll be updates for that soon..).

HOWEVER - as I said last time round, the Spec Fic meet-up fired up my writing muscles and I have started on The Novel - called, at least at this stage, "The Power". It's meant to be Ian M Banks meets Jack Kirby - superhero schenanigans with some blunt edges. I had the idea of writing this piece of prose in a series of chapters like a series running through several comic books, giving me the chance to bounce between the major viewpoints as we go. I did a load of rough, rambling background and have now got stuck in. I've managed 5500 words in six days, and WILL write at least something every day on this until its FINISHED. And lo, it shall be so.

Unless Spec Fic Blogging week gets in the way. From next Monday 19th September, I'll be blogging every day for a week along with a 7 episode drabble story - 100 words an episode for 7 days - I wonder what I'll end up with?

Today's Drabble - inspired by the continual lurch between financial crises that the US and Europe seem to find themselves in these days..

It seemed that the shovelling was nearly finished. The shift leader, Gork had realised that there hadn’t been any massive trucks for at least an hour. Nothing new had been added to the pile.
“Nearly finished, lads.”
The boys got stuck in again, shoving piles of paper and metal into the hole.
Gork’s phone rang. He listened and groaned. “Sorry lads, they agreed to give the Government more money.” They heard trucks approaching.
The trucks tipped out more good money. It didn’t take long for it to rot down to bad money. It all got poured into the bottomless pit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spec Fic NZ Wellington meet-up & general update

Last Saturday (6th August) I organised the Wellington Spec Fic NZ meet-up, as Anna Caro was away in Europe. It was great to meet several other New Zealand Spec fic writers.

Stephen Minchin, who is starting up a New Zealand publisher, Steam Press for speculative fiction, was greatly enlightening about the difficulties of getting books published and sold in NZ.

Craig Gulow writes graphic novels and the pair of us indulged in some Alan Moore appreciation (well, as we both said, the Man is God) - we also discussed just where the space programme had gone wrong (the Space Shuttle basically), and Craig recommended "The High Frontier" by Gerard O Neill - a roadmap for what the US could have done after the Apollo programme.

Also attending were Alicia Ponder and Kay (apologies I didn't catch the surname).

Craig also extolled the virtues of Scrivener - a classy piece of writing software. Alas, it doesn't actually do the writing for you (but where would be the fun in that), but does provide lots of neat little organising functions.

As for my writing....

Monster Hunting story - frankly, I'm fed up with the damn thing, but WILL finish it. Thanks to my wife, who pointed out a shedload of problems with my 5th draft, the 6th draft may actually have a bit more coherance. I think it's helped that I walked away from it for about three weeks. Re-reading draft 6 reveals that it's not so bad, just needs those final dew tightenings, and a bit of a final punch.

Superhero story - remains in limbo as we wait for the final culling on the anthology.
Trip Hawker and the Asteroid of Death - accepted some time last year, but the project seems to be a little stalled...

BUT - having had the Spec Fic meet-up, I realise that I'd sunk into a bit of a funk with my writing, lacking the willpower to sit down at the keyboard - however, chatting to other writers and bouncing ideas around has reignited me a bit.

So next time I write this, there will be a Monster Hunting story out there, yearning for acceptance, and hopefully a couple of other things too.

AND - my novel will be lurching towards some kind of start....

Today's Drabble - if you worry that your project at work is difficult, think how bad Noah had it...

There was a problem with the spiders. There were 40,000 species. Noah had been instructed to get a pair representing every living creature.
Even forgetting the extra deck the Ark would need, and finding a pair of all 40,000 types, how was he going to stop the females from eating the males?
And the little buggers scared the crap out of him.
And that was just the Spiders. The other million odd invertebrates were hardly less difficult. At least they were small.
He reviewed his project plan. The hundred thousand vertebrates were going to need a lot of space too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How low can they go?

The tabloid press in the UK have always been gutter scum - but the latest revelations about tapping the phone of a murdered girl show they can sink to even lower depths. Further vile revelations are following, including taps on the relatives of victims of the 7/7 bombings in London and the parents of the murdered Soham girls:

News of the World hacked 7/7 Family phones

One hopes that heads will roll over this, frankly Rupert Murdoch himself should stand down. In the meantime - don't buy The Sun, don't buy The News of the World, don't buy The Times or Sunday Times, stop watching Fox, cancel your Sky subscription, even, stop watching The Simpsons.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Half acceptance....

June was spent mostly writing a new short story which will be getting submitted to Triskaideka Books for their "Masters of Horror: Grave Grimoire" anthology. It's an undead themed anthology - my story is a mix of sex, drugs, rock'n' roll and the living dead. For once I did not have to write the whole thing and then figure out what the story was actually about and write it all again...

As is often the case though, the minor character who was there to provide a vital body organ turned out to have a lot more going for her than I realised, which is all part of the fun of writing. The story is with my current grammar/ punctuation nazi, which is always necessary, considering the way I use semi-colons in particular. Hell, leave out the semi-colon, just write two short, sharp sentences - c'oh!

This month, I will do a story for another anthology, wanting stories about Monster Hunters - I've been writing rough "treatments" - already it has switched from a story about a grizzled werewolf hunter, to one about a lady monster hunter who's after something that might be, or might not be a werewolf. Actually, I'd better pull my finger out on that one.

Some good news - my superhero story "The Girl who blew his mind", starring the Man with a Million Brains, has made the first cut of the anthology, but the Editor still has to make decisions around how much space he's got to play with.

Today's Drabble continuing the story of Oog and Sog, is partially inspired by Christopher Hitchen's "God is Not Great" - he's very angry about the whole thing, but frankly, does make a lot of valid points.

Oog and Sog gazed at the night sky. There were lots of stars but no-one had invented numbers so no-one knew how many.
“Where did they come from?” asked Sog, ignoring his hunger.
Oog thought. “Either, a burst of energy sent out lots of stuff which bashed into each other to make lots of bigger things. On our big thing, lots of that stuff mixed together over lots of time to make us, sitting here, looking at lots of other big things.”
“Or?” said Sog.
“Some bloke just switched it all on.”
“Could we ask that bloke for more deer?”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Submitted, rejected, being written and consequences..

A status update:

"Trip Hawker and the Asteroid of Vengeance" is waiting to be published in "Rockets, Swords and Rainbows" anthology.
"Trip Hawker and the Point of Death" is currently "in process" with RayGun Revival - meaning it's been read by a slush reader and is waiting for an Editor to peruse. So someone thought it worth pushing along the chain, which is nice.
"The Big Three-oh" was finally let go by "Andromoda Spaceways Inflight Magazine" - it was accepted but didn't fit in with their upcoming issues. They were good enough to give me some kind feedback, so I'll need to see where else this can be submitted.
"Everybody Goes to Hell" has been submitted to WilyWriters competition for members of the Masters of Horror group.

Work in progress:

I'm working on my submission to Masters of Horror: Grave Grimoire - an anthology of undead fiction. My story is a sick little number about pop stars, groupies and weird voodoo priests. It's rolling in at about 6500 words at the moment, but my first re-cut should trim it back to 5000 (lose the more obvious exposition and get rid of the adverbs etc) - then we'll look at the re-jigging and beefing up and toning down. Hopefully a good title will occur to me at some point.

After that:

I am determined to have a go at a novel - BUT what to write....I have several ideas but the fact that nothing has made me run at it (or maybe I'm just daunted by the whole prospect), makes me wonder if that they're just not the "right" idea. Or perhaps I should just get off my lazy butt and write SOMETHING.

Current notions:

Carrie Black is Dead - being the tale of an embittered corpse and a ball of hate.
Strange Days in the Budaland - sword and sorcery in a hot, desert landscape.
What's it all about? - far future society and the search for meaning.

And recent mind-vomit splurged up overnight:

A Boy and his Dog - in a screwed up small town, an abusive father chucks his son's dog out to the mercy of the weird things in the woods. But the dog returns...

Hell, one thing at a time - let's get the voodoo/ popstar story finished and sent off...

Todays drabble is inspired by the life and achievements of Thomas Midgley Jr - who I read about in Bill Bryson's A Brief History of Nearly Everything. Midgley was one of the pioneers of putting lead into petrol, a dangerous process which nearly killed him (when he demonstrated how safe it was to journalists). They made the process safer but the longer term consequences of leaded petrol took many decades to address.

However, Midgley topped this considerable acheivement by inventing CFCs - one of the main contributors to Global Warming. To be fair, it took decades before anyone realised CFCs were a problem, but it makes you wonder about how much we might consider the wider consequences of our actions...

Oog was freezing. No matter how many skins he heaped on himself, he was still cold. He rubbed sticks together to keep moving and warm. Suddenly there was a spark and then a flame.
He felt warmth and added more sticks.
Sog arrived with a deer. There was something orange by Oog. He sat down.
“It’s warm,” said Sog.
“Neat, eh?” said Oog.
“We should do more of it,” said Sog.
“We need wood,” said Oog, “we’d need to cut down some of these trees.”
Sog shrugged. “There are millions of trees. We’ll never run out. What could go wrong?”

Friday, May 6, 2011

A rant about literary fiction...

I’ve got issues with Literary Fiction. Admittedly, I have read very little of what is marketed as Literary Fiction (and I appreciate that authors may not necessarily class their books as such but seeing stacks of books with suitably arty covers all over the walls at Borders implies it’s a powerful marketing term.) My issue with Lit Fiction is as a marketing concept; the books themselves may be perfectly good reads.

My problem with Lit Fiction is that it appears to be consciously NOT Genre fiction (eg Sci-Fi, Western, Crime etc) but, it’s not hard to see certain repeated conventions dominating such books – it’s a genre whether it likes it or not. My rough checklist of Lit Fiction conventions:

  • Arty-farty cover with only an abstract connection to the story.
  • Not set in the English speaking world (Chocolat, The Shadow of the Wind).
  • Detail about some kind of artisanship – (Chocolat, The Vinter’s Luck)
  • Connection to real historical events which are known, but not too well known, or some suitably novel aspect is addressed (The Shadow of the Wind and Franco’s Spain, Birdsong and miners digging underneath the trenches/ no-man’s land)
  • Pretensions to some deep and meaningful universal human truth but without any great insight actually turning up (all of them…)

There is, to my mind, a desire for Lit Fiction to be worthy. You, the reader, will learn something as opposed to just being entertained. There is an implication that there is something wrong with simply sitting down and enjoying a thumping good read. This even infects stuff like Harry Potter – which is why (in the UK at least) the books were each printed with an adult and children’s edition – different covers, the words remained exactly the same.

Is there something wrong with genre media (meaning books, films, TV and so on)?
Is this a reaction to some culture becoming so completely devoid of relevance (ie, so-called reality TV) that as consumers we don’t want to be associated with that trash so want to think we’re being immersed in more substantial fare? Perhaps, someone I work with said that if they were ever going to read “War and Peace”, they’d read it in book form, not on their e-reader – they wanted people to see they were reading it.

OR, has genre culture become so “franchised” (eg Star Wars, Trek etc) that we see it as just another machine produced product?

And in response – Literary Fiction in exactly 100words

‘Joseph kneaded the dough in the traditional way, used in this part of France for centuries. He could have done it the modern way, but since Jerome’s death, he wanted to do the work, to put something of himself back into it, something to remember and honour his brother.
The door creaked open. It was Mariette, the girl his brother had come to France for.
“The bread, it is how Jerome did it,” she said with a smile. It was her first smile since Jerome had died in Bleriot’s plane. Her hand met Joseph’s and they kneaded the dough together.’

Goddamn, I am so sarcastic...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another submission out the door....

The deadline for the SpecFicNZ competition was today (31/03/11) - so naturally it took until right up to today to finish off my story (Trip Hawker and the Point of Death) and get it submitted.
Frankly, I have no idea what kind of chance it has of winning, I worry that my writing is a bit low-brow for NZ tastes - although the competition is being run by the Wily Writers website which is based in the US.

This story is the second to feature my character, Trip Hawker, (the first, ..and the Asteroid of Vengeance is soon to turn up in "Rockets, Swords and Rainbows: New Tales of Science Fiction") - it's deliberately breathless pulp, hopefully with a bit of oomph in the subject matter, but more than anything, I want it to be a thumping good piece of action. If I have an issue with New Zealand writing, it always seems to be very deliberately deep and meaningful - I should note that there is still lots of excellent writing, but I find it all a little serious.

Interestingly, the main force behind the Wily Writers website is Angel Leigh McCoy who penned the superb "Barnes Family Reunion" in the Masters of Horror anthology (also featuring my story, "Something Unpleasant")  ... Angel's story is NOT any reflection of my own family get-togethers...

Todays drabble is inspired by the dramatic tumbling of despotic regimes across the middle-east and the exciting surge of democracy and freedom...

The President’s bunker was finally breached and the Allied troops charged in, shooting the henchmen of the tyrant.
Captain Flint pointed his gun at the President.
“Flint,” said the President, “remember when we took out those terrorists?”
Flint smiled. “This is nothing personal, but we’re on the side of the freedom fighters now.”
The President shrugged. “Freedom fighters, terrorists?” Flint shot him dead.
The rebel leader stormed in, shoved the President’s body aside and tried out the chair behind the desk.
“So when are the elections?” asked Flint.
The Leader waved a hand. “Don’t worry, we’ll get round to it.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Super-heroics for Canterbury, not so super heroics for my story....

I finally finished and submitted my superhero story “The Girl who blew his mind” to the Beta City Anthology – and once again, its writing is a tale of three different stories, all different. The first was a straight good vs evil battle with Redstar, our socialist super hero taking on evil aliens with his more human nemesis, Charles Vance complicating issues. Version two made Redstar more of an ally of Mr Vance, but one who was about to be thoroughly stabbed in the back as the story progressed. Our final version sees Redstar deleted altogether and Charles Vance (now the Man with a Billion Brains) takes centre stage in a furious battle in cyberspace and his own psyche!!!!

It has been fun working on this story. As always, I had to go through my weird process to discover what my story actually is. What is slightly annoying is that if it is rejected (or maybe when) I really have no idea what to do with it – unlike my western horror story, which has been bounced around a couple of other horror anthologies, this story was conceived and written for one particular anthology.

Ah well, it is out there now, and although I’m not particularly confident, I still take satisfaction in actually finishing it. As Neil Gaiman advised at the Wellington Readers and Writers Festival last year, if you want to be a writer you’ve got to write and finish stuff. The writing bit is sort of obvious, but the finishing bit was a very good tip – my hard drive is still littered with half done stuff – it is a good habit to grind on through to the end, as I have found, it may not be the story I want, but it often points to the story that I’m after. At the signing session after his talk, Neil stole my Gold pen... but that’s another story.

Talking of Neil Gaiman, he has agreed to provide a story for a great anthology that is being worked on right now: Tales for Canterbury. It’s a book being put together by Cassie Hart and Anna Caro (both of whom have excellent stories in “A Foreign Country”) and all proceeds from it will be going to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

And this blog’s drabble – a bit of Biblical satire...

God waved to Adam. “All OK?” He called.
Adam waved cheerily back. “Sweet as,” he shouted back as Eve, his stunning, naked wife walked up.
“Now,” said God, “you haven’t eaten from the tree of knowledge, eh?”
“Course not,” said Adam.
“Cool,” said God, and off He trotted. He found the Serpent.
“So they’re not eating the fruit?” said the Serpent.
“No,” said God, “how is My Plan supposed to work if they won’t eat the fruit?”
“I could tell them to eat it?” said the Serpent.
“Oh go on, then,” said God, “we’ve got to get this going somehow.”

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Year, new writing, new reading, new child..

The year was old 22 days old when I got my first creation of the year out - to be fair, it was a collaboration with my wife, and she actually did most of the work. Eddie was born on 22nd January and is reminding me of how newborn babies work. I've impressed myself with how the skills of changing nappies, feeding, the sterilizer and managing the baby capsule for the car are all coming back to me.

I've had two weeks off and am looking forward to getting back to work for a rest. My writing has taken a definite back-seat, but helping with a ten day old and keeping my three and half year old amused are, at least, good excuses as to why I'm not writing.

However, the announcement of the SpecFicNZ short story competition sent a jolt to my creative bone - I woke up the other day with a fully formed story bubbling in my head. It features a couple of characters that have been rattling around my mind for years but I've never quite figured out a story to put them into, but this one was just right. And, suddenly seeing Emily Blunt as my female lead helped give her character that she had never had. It's pretty fast and furious, I doubt it will be more than 3000 words, but that's a relief really - usually it all gets way too complicated.

Take my superhero story - it started with a fight between hero and villain and aliens, then it became a more localised fight between hero and villain and aliens, then it morphed into a virtual fight between hero WITH villain and aliens...and now, in its hopeful last state, my hero has vanished, my villain has stepped into the lead role and the aliens are a whole new bunch....

Okay, today's drabble - 100 words inspired by the Rugby Sevens, which are on TV as I write...

Fred Flinstone was at the bar. Barney and Wilma shouted at him but Homer, Lisa and Ned Flanders were trying to push past.
The barman shoved six bottles over to Fred. Homer shoved Fred, who stumbled back, barging into a furious wookie and knocking a soggy burger to the floor.
A French maid stepped in the burger and he slipped over. Barney helped the maid up and she realised she worked in the same building as the maid.
Romance was blossoming, wookies were shouting and the Simpsons weren’t getting served. Somewhere, somebody was playing rugby, but who cared about that?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Superheroes SUPER

My immediate task to start the year off is to finish the first rough draft of my superhero story - I'm going to submit it to an anthology about a city that gets invaded by aliens and the superheroes fight back (or not). It's an interesting piece to write for - for once there are quite defined parameters that tell me where the story has to sit within a larger narrative. I really hope I get accepted as I'd imagine there will have to be further collaboration with the Editor to help fit the disparate stories within the bigger story.

However, before that, and before I've even finished the first draft, I'm aware that I have to make my central character more interesting and also make the conflict have more to do with the alien invasion while at the same time keeping a story around my main interesting juggling act.

I've loved superheroes since I learned to read - I remember reading awesome re-prints of classic Hulk vs Thing fights when I was very small - and was fairly serious as a collector in my late teens/ early twenties. I still try to keep up with Alan Moore's (genius that he is) output and usually have a collection from the library on the go - I especially recommend Essential Amazing Spider-Man volumes 4-6.

When I saw the call for submissions - how could I resist...but it is interesting having to craft my own story about my characters while trying to make it fit into someone else's story.

After that - I will write a Flash Fiction piece I have a lingering idea for, then I will have a go at trimming an earlier sci-fi piece down to flash size which may be the best way of punching out the main subject rather than getting it bogged down in lots of story...and THEN, I'll write that novel.

Anyhoo - lets see RedStar (my superhero) in action in just 100 words...

Redstar heard the laser blasts and swooped into the alleyway behind a Vance Foodstore. A man with a gun fired at a security droid, bringing it down. Two others shoved a trolley full of stolen food.
Redstar blasted the gun from the thief’s hand.
“Hold it there,” he said.
The leader spoke. “Vance made us become Contractors then ended our contracts. We can’t claim welfare. How are we supposed to feed our kids?” Behind him, the droid stood back up and aimed a laser cannon at the thieves.
“Freeze,” it grated.
Redstar blasted the droid and let the thieves run.