Tag Archives: short stories

Reprint deal with Clan Destine Press

Observant followers of the scene may have noticed that Clan Destine Press have launched a new website, and have been signing some new authors – including fellow SuperNOVArians Jason Nahrung and Pete Aldin.

I am delighted to announce that Clan Destine have asked to reprint my story “Cold comfort” (originally published by Fablecroft in the anthology, “Epilogue”). Details are yet to be completely hammered out, but it looks it will be part of their new fiction imprint and it is likely that it will be paired with another of my shorts.

Clan Destine have a great catalogue of writers, and have produced some wonderful books, so I am very excited to have a chance to work with them.

More details to follow!

CDP Poster

 

ReDeus: Beyond Borders

Very excited to announce the upcoming release of ReDeus: Beyond Borders from Crazy 8 Press. This is my first time working in a shared world environment of this type, and it has been a great experience. There is a great line up of writers, and the editors have been amazing – not surprising given their backgrounds and experience in the industry!

On their website, Bob Greenberger says:

When Aaron Rosenberg, Paul Kupperberg, and I conceived ReDeus–our world if all of the gods from all of the pantheons suddenly returned and demanded worship once more–some years back, we initially thought it would be a fun playground for the three of us to explore, telling stories that we’d hope would find an audience. Last year, we decided to invite our friends to come play with us, resulting in ReDeus: Divine Tales, an anthology of eleven stories that debuted at Shore Leave, marking Crazy 8 Press’ first anniversary.

We had so much fun with that, and got such excellent response from readers in person and online, we decided to do more. In fact, coming this year there will be two more collections. First up is ReDeus: Beyond Borders, a collection of tales exploring how the gods settle back in around the world.. We’ll see some returning characters from the first book and some very familiar gods, but our writers have also chosen to explore some nooks and crannies about life within the first two decades after the gods of myth have all returned. Everything has not necessarily turned out for the best, especially in some lands, nor is it all bad as we will discover. And with so many gods vying for worship, there’s some interesting jockeying going on, for lands and for people. It’s a vastly different world the gods have discovered and while some embrace the new technologies, others find it abhorrent. That in itself makes life among the mortals complicated, an ever-changing struggle to live and provide for the families.

The anthology will be launched at Balticon in late May, and I will be posting more information soon.

beyondboarders_lorraineSchleter

Tales of the Shadowmen 9 Now Available

Tales of the Shadowmen is now available to purchase. With a great lineup of stories (even if I do say so myself), it is  guaranteed to be packed full of action and adventure! You can find it here.

TOC:
Matthew Baugh: Tournament of the Treasure starring Steve Costigan, Townsend Harper, The Black Coats.
Nicholas Boving: Wings of Fear starring Harry Dickson, Bulldog Drummond.
Robert Darvel: The Man With the Double Heart starring The Nyctalope.
Visions of the Nyctalope (illustrated portfolio)
Matthew Dennion: The Treasure of Everlasting Life starring Allan Quatermain, Dr. Miguelito Loveless, The Black Coats.
Win Scott Eckert: Violet’s Lament starring Sir Percy Blakeney’s daughter, Countess Nadine Carody, The Black Coats.
Martin Gately: Wolf at the Door of Time starring Doctor Omega, Moses Nebogipfel, The Nyctalope.
Travis Hiltz: What Lurks in Romney Marsh? starring Doctor Omega, Doctor Syn.
Paul Hugli: As Time Goes By… starring Doctor Omega, Rick Blaine.
Rick Lai: Gods of the Underworld starring The Black Coats, Vautrin, Doctor Lerne.
Jean-Marc Lofficier: Dad starring Glinda.
Nigel Malcolm: To Dust and Ashes, in its Heat Consuming starring Harry Dickson, Professor Quatermass.
David McDonald: Diplomatic Freeze starring Flashman’s son, The Nyctalope’s father, The People of the Pole.
Christofer Nigro: Death of a Dream starring The Phantom of the Opera, The Black Coats, The Domino Lady.
John Peel: The Benevolent Burglar starring Maigret, J.G. Reeder, The Saint.
Neil Penswick: The Conspiracy of Silence starring Fantômas.
Pete Rawlik: Professor Peaslee Plays Paris starring Pr. Nathaniel Wingate Peaslee, Hercule Flambeau, The Black Coats.
Joshua Reynolds: Nestor Burma Goes West starring Nestor Burma, Jim Anthony, Irma Vep.
Frank Schildiner: The True Cost of Doing Business starring Mr. Big, The Black Coats.
Bradley H. Sinor: The Silence starring Michel Ardan, Colonel Moran, John Carter.
Michel Stéphan: Vampire in the Fist starring Irma Vep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Edith Piaf liked to sing about la vie en rose, this volume of Tales of the Shadowmen, the first and only international anthology devoted to paying homage to the world’s most fantastic heroes and villains, is dedicated to la vie en noir, the darker side of life.

And what could be darker than the sinister brotherhood of criminals known as the Black Coats and their legendary treasure, a malignant self-aware entity that is the embodiment of greed and avarice?

You will also find gathered here stories about the evil Fantômas and the mysterious Yellow Shadow, the crafty Doctor Cornelius and the megalomaniacal Sun Koh, the ruthless Irma Vep and the frightful Bride of Frankenstein; in these pages, you will read tales of creatures and zombies, and things from otherworldly reals, and likely gasp at the most monstrous couple of parents ever imagined…

Wednesday Writers – Greg Mellor

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of being asked to be one of the interviewers for the 2012 Aussie Snapshot. Not only did I get to work with some of my favourite people in Aussie Spec Fic, it also gave me the opportunity to meet a whole heap of new people (and an excuse to email them lol) who were all doing exciting things and having a big impact on the scene.

One of those people was Greg Mellor, and there is no doubt that he is a writer to watch. Not only is he a regular contributor to markets of the calibre of Cosmos, with an impressive list of overseas sales, he is also one of the most qualified science fiction writers going around! It is not always the case that people who are talented writers of science fiction have such a background, or that people with this academic pedigree are any good at writing quality fiction. Greg has that rare combination of both, and there is no doubt this a big part of why he is one of the rising stars of Aussie Spec Fic.

Science (and Philosophy) in Science Fiction

I think one of the major challenges for science fiction writers is getting the right blend of ideas and entertainment in each story. Hopefully this should result in a narrative that provokes the reader to ask questions about what is going on and why, but also presents the reader with a narrative that has an enjoyable kinesis leading to a satisfying conclusion. I think another major challenge is achieving the right mix of science and humanity. Too much science, and the story may as well be a thesis; too much humanity, and it’s just not science fiction.

As I continued to produce more short stories for Wild Chrome during 2010 and 2011, I found that the cross roads of ideas, entertainment, science and humanity is also the stomping ground for reflection and a little philosophy. I don’t claim to do the philosophy very well, but damn it, I like having a go.

For example, terraforming is a well worn scientific idea involving modifications of extra-terrestrial atmosphere, surface and ecology to achieve Earth-like conditions. I like the idea but I can’t help but think it’s a little arrogant. Do we really think we could replicate a biosphere that has emerged over billions of years of deep time? Hmm, still, imagine if we could use some form of technology to create an Earth-like environment. Now imagine if we quickly followed this up and took our supply-chain economics out there to feed the hungry colonies.

To me this represents the intersection of two seemingly mutually exclusive ideas: could we go to the extremes of creating something as beautiful as a habitable biosphere and ruin it with supply chain madness? We’re doing it with our evolved world because we don’t know any better right now. But will we ever know any better? If I were the terraformer I’d be livid, wouldn’t you? Or would you still hold out hope for humanity? Maybe there’s a chance we would get it right on some planets. It’s not just an ethical dilemma; it’s a deeply philosophical one that goes to the heart of our humanity.

When I wrote “Terra Q” I thought these ideas and the science alone would make for an interesting thesis, but it wouldn’t be fiction. Then I put myself in the shoes of the terraformer. That would probably give me an angry thesis. Then I thought: what if I interviewed the terraformer? How do you feel, dude? How did you get into this gig? How the hell does this technology work? Why are half your planets being ruined? Why do you keep building new ones? That might give me a thought provoking narrative, hopefully entertaining, with science and humanity all mixed in. And no, I didn’t resolve the philosophical dilemma!

My writing also tackles traditional intersections of science and philosophy. For example, I like the theme of technology and death. There are very few stones unturned in the SF genre, so rather than tinker at the bleeding edge, I try to produce stories with heart, even if the protagonist has a black heart. In my Urban Decay series, I wrote about a world after decades of GFCs and climate change, where the middle and lower class are disavowed into the badlands or “mulch” surrounding the shining cities. The really rich people – the ones running business and government – live in orbitals.

In this setting, the protagonist in “Beyond Winter’s Shadow” is a humble store owner who helps a homeless kid reconstruct his dead mum’s persona using an app that responds to external stimuli, but in the process finds some kind of personal enlightenment after the years of service to the community. In “Hollow Places” a desperate mum tries to save her brain-dead son by rebuilding aspects of his personality through a virtual interface, but still struggles to reconcile her own selfishness. I think technology can give us the sense (delusion) that we have some control over the uncontrollable. In these stories it is control over the inevitability of death. We never give up, we’re always, and I mean always trying to avert the course of fate or nature. Are we saving others, seeking our own salvation, or a little bit of both? I suppose there’s also an element of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” in this struggle to recreate life. I think future technologies will give us more options and thus more hope, so taking us to even more extreme “solutions” – just find it in the cloud!

I think the antithesis of this is the use of technology to extend the experience of death and decay. In “Time Capture” a deranged father prolongs his own pleasure and despair through a bizarre virtual interface with his murdered daughter. Publishers Weekly said “Time Capture” is “truly disturbing”. I never quite set out for it to be like that, but the protagonist took me on a nasty journey. I imagine that an imbalanced killer with advanced technology at his disposal would seek to fuel his own perversions.

I venture further along the science and philosophy path in several post-human stories in Wild Chrome where society is either on the cusp of, or just beyond the technology singularity. In “Autumn Leaves Falling” the protagonist struggles with the idea that uploading his mind is tantamount to suicide. He wonders whether it is really okay to hope for a richer experience in an uploaded collective, even if it means sacrificing his corporeal body.

In “Heaven and Earth” the very rich families have created the singularity and taken their secrets with them into the galaxy. The story follows a human woman trying to reconnect with her post-human lover. The post-human collective has retained the bigotry of a regular society. As the protagonist evolves, she dares to speak out and be one voice in a billion seeking change. It’s hard enough these days standing out from the crowd, never mind in a collective consciousness where all your hopes and fears are known by others.

In “Fragments”, the Earth has suffered a botched technology singularity, leaving many people in a kind of half-uploaded limbo. The protagonist is a guy left behind looking for the fragmented remains of his wife in the ruins, living in hope that something of her can be salvaged. I think hope drives many of my characters. There is true despair in the singularity event, but there is also hope borne from sacrifice and darkness.

In “Ethos Anthropoi Daimon” the post-human world is dystopian, a reflection of the dark nature of men. The gothic bad guy called Spain lives in hope of something more than the drudgery of dystopia, but in the end it is the character of men that has created his world – character is fate. Try as he may, Spain struggles to escape his own flawed character.

Finally, the theme of morality plays out in several stories of alien contact. “Alien Intent” is set in a colony world on Sirius where the humans have slaughtered the indigenous species. “The Trouble with Memes” is set in the near future Earth where humanity has made contact with an interstellar network of post-corporeal societies. The stories ask, in different ways, whether we are worthy of the responsibility of being an interstellar species, but from the POV of the aliens. In both cases we come up short. The aliens can see us for what we really are, but we struggle to achieve any level of introspection and therefore conscience until the situation forces us to. It seems we are wired to evolve like this, but not yet advanced enough to make the collective choice necessary to lift ourselves out of the “red in tooth and claw” evolution and make moral choices about our future and the well-being of the species around us.

I delve into this theme a little more, but in a sardonic way, in “Ravenous”. Again, I took the alien POV on a world where humans are simply out of control – an interstellar blight. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but there’s some gallows comedy and therefore some dark truth in it. The story basically suggests that we are what we are, and we’ll always be oblivious to this fact. The alien civilisations out there shall accept and suffer us, until the day one of them decides to fight back.

So, in conclusion, I enjoy injecting the philosophical stuff into my science fiction. Of course, it’s not all deep and meaningful in Wild Chrome, and there are stories that are purely action and entertainment, or stories that are purely about one person’s journey.

Producing the book has certainly been a hell of a journey for me and I don’t regret a minute of it. I hope you find it entertaining reading – be it intriguing, funny, gritty, heartfelt or all of the above!

 

Greg Mellor is a Canberra-based writer of science fiction, and occasional writer of horror, paranormal, romance, erotica, fantasy and any combination thereof.  He is also a totally awesome husband and dad – well, at least that’s what he tells everyone. Ask his wife if you want to find out the “home truth”.

Greg has worked and studied in and around Canberra all his life, with a ten year residency in the UK somewhere in the middle. For some reason he felt compelled to do an Honours Degree in Astrophysics, and as if that wasn’t enough punishment, he also completed an MBA in Technology Management. He has worked in professional service firms for the last 15 years and will continue to do so for a while yet to ensure he leaves enough inter-generational debt for his son and future grandchildren. There’s a long, puzzling journey from astrophysics to consulting, involving shelf-packing, builder’s labourer and general dog’s body, technical drawing, business reporting, IT systems trainer, electrical power-line maintenance, four wheel driving, writing science articles and . . . you get the gist. Don’t ask him “how” or “why”, suffice to say there were many “sliding doors”.

He is a regular contributor to Cosmos Magazine with “Defence of the Realm”, “Autumn Leaves Falling” and “Day Break”. His work has also appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, Aurealis, AntipodeanSF and Daily Science Fiction, plus several Aus and US small press anthologies including “Winds of Change”, “Flesh & Bone”, “Hit Men”, “Novus Creatura” and others. Greg reached the finals of the 2009 Aurealis Awards, Best Short SF category. His stories regularly receive mentions (honourable and otherwise) and tend to crop up on recommended reading lists around the internet.

In his spare time (is there such a thing?) he reads about consciousness, philosophy, psychology, physics, astronomy, history and evolution. This is usually followed by a self-help book so that he can still feel good about the world. Occasionally he’ll flick through the books of Paul Davies, one of his professors at uni  . . . spot the name drop. Then he’ll follow this up with the odd fiction book or two, referencing Keats for soulful quotes and Wilde for the brutal truth about human nature. Then, when he can’t cram any more in, he will occasionally get back to his writing in the hope that the collage of ideas makes more sense on paper than it does in his head.

Greg was delighted when Ticonderoga Publications accepted his debut collection, “Wild Chrome”. Now he faces the daunting prospect of the SF novel.

He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (CSFG), and the ACT Writers’ Centre.

Visit www.gregmellor.com to see pictures of his cat.

tracie

Wednesday Writers: Tracie McBride

Australia has a long and glorious tradition of – how shall we put this – adopting New Zealanders as our own. Sometimes, one can’t help but feel that we got the raw end of the deal and that our Kiwi cousins are quietly sniggering to themselves after off loading undesirables on us, see Russell Crowe for an example. But, more often, we benefit immeasurably from the export and end up with a Phar Lap. Tracie McBride falls squarely in the latter category. A talented short story writer, her short fiction is creepy and haunting and will make you very uncomfortable and her “little collection of short stories” as she calls it is one of the best investments of time and money you will make. And, not content to stop there she is also trying her hand at publishing! *sigh* The problem with Wednesday Writers is that my guests always make me feel like an underacheiver!

Meet The Local Authors (How I felt the fear and did it anyway)

When David invited me to contribute a post to his Wednesday Writers series, I went through an emotional process that is common for me. First, blind optimism – “Sure! I can do that! I’d be happy to do that!” Then, after looking at all the accomplished and eloquent Wednesday Writers who had gone before me, came crushing self-doubt and despair – “Waaaah! I can’t do this!” And finally came a grim, fatalistic determination – “Well, I said I would do it, so now I’ll just have to get on with it.”

I went through the same process when I attended a Meet the Local Author session at my local library recently as part of their annual Booklovers Festival. I saw the flyer, and thought, “I’m local. And I write stuff. Even got a book to prove it.” So I signed up. About an hour out from the event, I got the jitters. Aside from the venue and the time, I knew nothing about what to expect. What if there were so many accomplished authors there that my little collection of short stories published by a start-up small press was laughingly dismissed? Or worse, what if I were the only author to attend and wound up sitting on a table by myself? I briefly considered not going. But no – I had put my name on the List. And Lists are Sacred. I put on my Big Girl Panties and my best nervous smile and got on down there.

Upon arrival, the librarian gently herded me in the direction of the Local Authors table and introduced me to fellow author Daniela Zannoni. Daniela had arrived early and set up. She had flyers and posters. Her book “My Mother’s Memories (The Successes and Tragedies of An Italian Migrant Family)” was lovingly displayed on gilt book stands in two different editions, English and Italian. I was duly intimidated. I laid out my half dozen copies of “Ghosts Can Bleed” at the other end of the table and tried to look halfway competent.

For a while there it looked like Daniela and I were going to be the only authors in attendance. Then along came Arthur Yong. Before coming to Australia from Malaysia, Arthur Yong was a biochemist (let’s just ratchet up the intimidation factor a little bit more…) Unlike Daniela and me, Arthur didn’t have a stack of books for library patrons to peruse; the librarian found his book on the shelves and brought it over to display between ours. It is a handsome A4-sized volume entitled “Chinese Settlement in Whittlesea” which tells the story of sixteen different Chinese migrants and descendants of migrants living in the Whittlesea region of Melbourne. On the surface, the niche market sounds extremely small. And indeed, Arthur doesn’t even think in terms of ‘market’ for his book; when I asked him where and how he sells his book, he looked surprised and said, “I don’t. I got a grant to write and print it, so I just give it away.”

It was an interesting concept which, as a genre fiction writer, I had never considered before. Of course, I had heard of writers obtaining literary grants to complete works of fiction, but they generally went on to sell the book they’d been paid to write, and it got me thinking about the nature of the capitalist model for book publishing and marketing versus a model of literary patronage. In any case, after leafing through Arthur’s book and having to force myself to put it down lest I appear rude for reading instead of talking to people, I thought it would be of interest to a much wider audience than the handful of local libraries, historians and contributors to the book to whom he had gifted a copy.

The fourth author to join our group was Ian B G Burns, a prolific author and self-publisher, mostly of historical children’s novels set in Australia. With Ian I felt on more familiar ground as we discussed the various merits of Smashwords, Lulu and Createspace and the grave limitations of Spellcheck. Being a third-generation author, Ian has an impressive pedigree, but by this point I’d run out of emotional energy to be intimidated and had settled into enjoying the company of fellow wordsmiths. My usual writers’ social network consists primarily of independent genre fiction writers, so it was refreshing to learn of the experiences and journeys of other local writers.

And how did the afternoon rate as a promotional activity? The vast majority of library patrons avoided us in droves, being too engrossed in their free internet access (the librarian wryly commented that they could probably get rid of all the books and just run an internet café, and the numbers coming through the door would not change). But about halfway through the afternoon a visibly nervous young woman (even more nervous than me!) approached our table and introduced herself. She ran a programme at a local high school for creative writers, and would any of us like to come along and talk to the kids and maybe run a couple of workshops?

“Sure!” I said. “I have kids. I write stuff. I can do that. I’d be happy to do that!”

“By the way,” she said, “I have a budget, so I can pay you.”

“Money?” I said. “You’ll give me money to do it? Oh, I never even thought of that…”

Arthur Yong invited us all to be interviewed on his local – very local – radio show that broadcast at 10.30pm on a Friday night.

“Sure!” I said. “I can talk. I write stuff…”

Expect in a couple of weeks’ time as I make good on all these promises to hear lots of “Waaah! I can’t do this!” swiftly followed by mutterings of, “I said I would, so now I have to.”

And the fourth and final reaction – “I’m really glad I did that. Imagine what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t.”

Tracie McBride is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 80 print and electronic publications, including Horror Library Vols 4 and 5, Dead Red Heart, Phobophobia and Horror for Good. Her debut collection Ghosts Can Bleed contains much of the work that earned her a Sir Julius Vogel Award in 2008.  She helps to wrangle slush for Dark Moon Digest and is the vice president of Dark Continents Publishing.  She welcomes visitors to her blog at http://traciemcbridewriter.wordpress.com/

FRONT-COVER-DtH

Deck the Halls is live!

Deck the Halls, the Christmas themed anthology from eMergent Publishing is now live! You can read a new story every hour as they are posted on the Literary Mix Tapes blog. follow the link for more details, and the schedule is below (including mine, right at the end).

Tuesday 17th July
9am Touched Rowena Specht-Whyte
10am Drench the School Benjamin Solah
11am Coming Home Rebecca L Dobbie
12pm While You Were Out Sam Adamson
1pm Twenty Five Rebecca Emin
2pm A Jolly Pair Christopher Chartrand
3pm Gays and Commies Graham Storrs
4pm A Better Fit Jen Brubacher
5pm Salvation Nicole Murphy
6pm A Troll For Christmas Jo Hart
7pm Modraniht Kate Sherrod
8pm ‘Til Death Do Us Part Emma Kerry
9pm High Holidays Dale Challener Roe
10pm The Headless Shadow Jonathan Crossfield
11pm Not A Whisper Lily Mulholland

Wednesday 18th July
12am Through The Frosted Window Laura Meyer
1am Lords of the Dance Janette Dalgliesh
2am Midsummer’s Eve S.G. Larner
3am Yuletide Treasure Rob Diaz II
4am Broken Angel Jodi Cleghorn
5am Unfolding Alison Wells
6am Hail The New Trevor Belshaw
7am Softly Sing The Stars Steve Cameron
8am Through Wind and Weather David McDonald

Deck the Halls available for pre order!

Deck the Halls: festive tales of fear and cheer, featuring a story by yours truly, is now available for pre order! Press release below (and what an awesome cover!).

Pre-Order Now for the special price of $15.99 plus shipping (Australia only)

Editor: Jodi Cleghorn
Original Artwork: Andrew McKiernan
ISBN: 978-0-9871126-4-4 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-9871126-5-1 (eBook)
Size: 203x127cm (Perfect Bound)
Pages: 226
RRP: A$21.99

DECK THE HALLS traverses the joy and jeopardy of the festive season, from Yule to Mōdraniht, Summer Solstice to Years’ End. The stories journey through consternations and celebrations, past, present and future, which might be or never were.

Along the way you’ll meet troll hunters, consumer dissidents, corset-bound adventurers, a joint-toking spirit, big-hearted gangbangers, an outcast hybrid spaceship, petrol-toting politicians, mythical swingers and a boy who unwittingly controls the weather.

Heart-warming and horrifying, the collection is a merry measure of cross-genre, short fiction subverting traditional notions of the holiday season.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Touched Rowena Specht-Whyte
Drench the School Benjamin Solah
Coming Home Rebecca Dobbie
While You Were Out Sam Adamson
Twenty-Five Rebecca Emin
A Jolly Pair Christopher Chartrand
Gays and Commies Graham Storrs
A Better Fit Jen Brubacher
Salvation Nicole R Murphy
A Troll for Christmas Jo Hart
Modraniht Kate Sherrod
Bosch’s Book of Trolls Susan May James
‘Til Death Do Us Part Emma Kerry
High Holidays Dale Challener Roe
The Headless Shadow Jonathan Crossfield
End of a Tradition Paul Servini
Weatherboy Nik Perring
Not a Whisper Lily Mulholland
Lords of the Dance Janette Dalgliesh
Through Frosted Glass Laura Meyer
Midsummer’s Eve Stacey Larner
Yuletide Treasure Rob Diaz II
Broken Angel Jodi Cleghorn
A Golden Treasure Chia Evers
Fast Away Jim Bronyaur
Apprentices to Time Icy Sedgwick
Unfolding Alison Wells
Egg-Ceptional PJ Kaiser
Hail the New Trevor Belshaw
Perfect Light Dan Powell
Softly Sing the Stars Steve Cameron
Through Wind and Weather David McDonald

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Quick Update

I haven’t had much time for blogging the last week or so due to being feverishly busy with a very exciting and secret project! In a few weeks you will know all about it, but for now a quick update:

  • The Lone Ranger Chronicles have made it into the wild, and features my story Reflections in a Silver Mirror. I am thrilled to see there is a hard back edition, that is a first for me!
  • Congratulations to all the winners at last night’s Aurealis Awards! Judging from the twitter feed, it looks like I missed out on an exciting evening, and that all the people behind the scenes did an amazing job od putting together a spectacular event. The full list of winners is here, but I was especially excited to see Galactic Suburbia get the Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award, Paul Haines’ gut wrenching “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt” tie for Horror Short Story and Thoraiya Dyer pick up “Fruit of the Pipal Tree” for Fantasy Short Story. The last one makes me feel all the more priviliged to appear in Fablecroft’s upcoming anthology, Epilogue, alongside Thoraiya. Fablecroft keep producing quality work, and that’s what you want to be part of.

Hopefully I will have a more substantial post up soon!

Wednesday Writers: Cat Sparks

Often it is something said as a polite fiction, but Cat Sparks really does need no introduction. One of the brightest lights of Australian spec fic, she has done it all from editing award winning anthologies to writing award winning fiction. As the Editor of Australia’s only pro sci fi short fiction market and as a writer of exquisite short stories sharp enough to cut you if you are careless, there is no one more qualified to talk about the craft of writing. Here, Cat tells us about the importance of finding the right title.

On the importance of titles and why you should put some effort into ensuring yours don’t suck by Cat Sparks

If fiction is a delicious slice of cake, the title is the icing. Titles should be enticing: lush but not too rich. The perfect accompaniment to the dense slab of literary calories beneath. But enough talk of cake, it’s making me peckish. Titles are important for several reasons, yet many writers don’t give them so much as a cursory effort.

To me, it’s a bit like this: when you attend an important event, such as a wedding or dinner party, you dress accordingly and mostly that means smart clothes. To turn up in tracky pants and a dirty t-shirt is lazy, amongst other things. Boring titles are lazy. Writing is hard work. Why top off your efforts with something slack and half arsed?

Your title is an advertisement for your prose. Stylish and intriguing versus dull and descriptive. It’s a story you’ve written, damnit, not a catalogue entry.

Your title should reflect, echo, enhance or qualify your story’s theme. If your story doesn’t have a theme, no need to bother — I’m probably not going to be all that interested in reading it anyway.

A title can be important to the understanding of the work. Your title should be meaningful, memorable or evocative. Your title should resonate.

A title is often the hardest part of the story to write.

Stylish titles speak to professionalism and hint at the possibility of stylish prose to follow.

If a slushpile story title is intriguing, I am automatically predisposed to want to like the story that comes with it. Maybe I won’t end up liking it after all, but isn’t positive anticipation an excellent place to start?

A stylish title tells me that you’ve put some thought into it. It suggests you might be an artist — or at the very least, an artisan.

Some titles are so powerful or beautiful that they scream out for stories to accompany them.

I keep a lookout for potential titles for my own stories long before I have the stirrings of ideas. All the Love in the World and The Sleeping and the Dead are two examples. Both made me think long and deep about what such sets of words might encompass. Eventually the right stories made themselves apparent and I endeavoured to bring them into being. The Alchemy of Light is the title of a story I’ve been trying to get right for years. Still failing miserably, unfortunately — but isn’t the title a stunner!

I’ve never rejected a story from Cosmos or Agog! because it had a crappy title, nor have I selected a crappy story because it had a brilliant title. Most stories we buy for Cosmos end up having their titles changed. The reasons vary. Sometimes they’re too long for the page layout, sometimes too short can look odd when married with the illustrator’s work. Mostly a much cleverer option seems obvious.

Give yourself — and your story — the best chance possible of being chosen. Dress your story in its Sunday best, make sure its shoes are shiny and its nose is clean. Sometimes in life — and publishing — it’s the little things that matter.

Check out this interesting article on titles:
Titles That Didn’t Smell as Sweet

Cat Sparks is fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine. She managed Agog! Press, an Australian independent press that produced ten anthologies of new speculative fiction from 2002-2008. She’s known for her award-winning editing, writing, graphic design and photography.

Cat was born in Sydney and has traveled through Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, the South Pacific, Mexico and North America. Her adventures so far have included winning a trip to Paris in a Bulletin Magazine photography competition; being appointed official photographer for two NSW Premiers and working as dig photographer on three archaeological expeditions to Jordan.

A graduate of the inaugural Clarion South Writers’ Workshop, she was a Writers of the Future prize winner in 2004. She has edited five anthologies of speculative fiction and more than fifty of her short stories have been published since the turn of the millennium.

Cat has received a total of seventeen Aurealis and Ditmar awards for writing, editing and art including the Peter McNamara Conveners Award 2004, for services to Australia’s speculative fiction industry. She was the convenor of the Aurealis Awards horror division in 2006 and a judge in the anthologies and collected work category in 2009.

An active member of Science Fiction Writers of America, her fiction is represented by Jill Grinberg Literary Management, New York.

She is currently working on a biopunk trilogy and a suite of post-apocalypse tales set on the New South Wales south coast.

Her story ‘All the Love in the World’ is reprinted in Hartwell and Kramer’s Years Best Science Fiction, Volume 16.

In January 2012 she was one of 12 students chosen to participate in Margaret Atwood’s The Time Machine Doorway workshop as part of the Key West Literary Seminar Yet Another World: literature of the future. Her participation was funded by an Australia Council emerging writers grant.

In March she will be embarking upon provisional candidature for a Doctorate of Philosophy – Media, Culture and Creative Arts through Curtin University.

Photo by Charlie O'Neal

Wednesday Writers: Lincoln Crisler

Writer, editor and combat veteran, Lincoln Crisler is truly a man of many talents! As someone who has sat on both sides of the slush pile divide, Lincoln is well qualified to talk about what lessons he has taken from his stints as an editor and how he has applied it to his own writing. Oh, and buy his anthology – it looks AWESOME!

The Author as Editor, and Vice-versa

Cover by Jessy Lucero

As some of you may know (and if not a single one of you, David’s readers, knows, I really need to stop charging people for my mad marketing skillz), I have an anthology coming out on March 1st. It’s a collection of dark stories about people with superpowers. It’s the second anthology I’ve edited (and you can read more about that here). I learned some stuff in the process. Editing’s made me a better author, and quite possibly, a better human. Continue reading