Friday, October 27, 2006

My First Interview!

Yours truly is being interviewed on ABC Radio Ballarat 187.9 FM on Monday 30th October at 6:40am. I am stoked - my first interview! Back in 2005, I won a competition ABC Radio ran in conjunction with Ballarat Writers. It was called the Body In Bourke Street Competition and I won an award for best graphic literary imagery. Pretty cool.

Anyway, they simply want to catch up with me to see what I've been up to and they have invited me to read a couple of pieces live on their breakfast radio program - I don't think you could have a better marketing tool than that, really. Let's just hope enough people listen in and take down my email or blog address. I'm a little bit nervous....

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rocky Balboa Mentality - Going the Distance

His whole life was a million to one these words sound familiar? If not, then you must have been stranded on a desert island for the last thirty years or so because Rocky has remained one of the most inspirational icons in cinematic history. Hands up those who get shivers down their spine when they hear the theme music? Finish watching Rocky IV (the best of the series) and tell me you don't feel like you can take on the world. You can't, can you?

This same inspiration applies to writing. As a writer I believe it is so important to have goals. Without them, you become lost, you get lazy and you feel like shit when you receive the countless rejections slips from editors who didn't like your latest creation that you laboured over for countless hours.

Using the Rocky example, say one day you get another rejection slip. It feels like Ivan Drago landing a devastating punch, sending you flying fifteen feet across the ring. The referee begins his count after you crash to the canvass. Your vision gets hazy. The crowd and the lights spin before you in a dazzling blur. The referee counts - six; seven; eight. Get up! Get up! Your mind screams. You don't know how, you don't know where the strength comes from, but you get up. You file the rejection slip and you lunge at Drago - punch! Another story gets sent out; Punch! Another, another, another. Are you getting the point?

As writers we are so passionate about our work that rejection does hurt, but eventually we get into print. My goals for 2006 were, I thought, pretty achievable. My primary goal was to get published in the printed form. I was lucky enough to achieve that earlier in the year. The second was to win a competition. That hasn't happened but the year isn't finished yet. The third was to complete or rather, draft twenty new short stories. I'm half-way there. And my fourth goal was to complete the first draft of a novel. I don't think that's going to happen this year due to the fact that irresistible ideas refuse to leave me alone until I exorcise them onto paper, producing them as short stories - hence my delayed attention to the novel.

Already, I'm setting my sights on 2007, the next round, if you will. I'm upping the bar for next year. My goals are:

1) To be published in Shadowed Realms

2) To have one of my micro pieces accepted into Black Box

3) To be nominated for an Aurealis Award or an Australian Shadow

4) To complete that novel - no excuses

5) To have three pieces featured in FlashSpec Volume 2

6) To win the AHWA Flash or Short Story Competition

And finally, a goal that has nothing to do with writing - to be a good Dad to my child due to be born in January next year - I can't wait!

If we all adopt the Rocky Balboa mentality with our writing, we will go the distance and keep getting up when we're down for the count.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Story for Horror Day

As most of you know, Friday was Horror Day, where many prominent members of the horror writing community banded together to make the public aware of this awesome genre.

Martin Livings, the author of Carnies and Stephanie Gunn pulled off an incredible feat of bringing together some of the most prominent names in the horror-writing community in a special online anthology exclusively for Horror Day. Well known authors such as Stephen Dedman and Robert Hood were featured along with many other gifted authors.

Although I couldn't contribute much myself, since I was chained to my desk at work all day, I thought since it's Horror Day, I'll write a flash fiction piece completely from scratch to mark the occasion.

It took half an hour to belt out my story titled, Prized Possession. Now, here's the scary part. The word count of the first draft weighed in at 666. Coincidence? Get this. The story is about a black BMW - the idea for the story has been in the back of my mind for a little while and I had the licence plate pictured in my head before I even put pen to paper (TZF-666). Cue the Twilight Zone theme!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Outside My Comfort Zone

A current project I'm working on right now is a bit of a strange one. Primarily, I write horror. It's what I love, it's what courses through my veins and I'm helpless to its relentless need to flow down my arm and onto the page.

However, in my constant quest to become a success I'm yet to win a competition, although I've been shortlisted and won an award or two - but I need a first prize winner. So I noticed that The Age Short Story Competition was coming up and I thought I'd enter it, just to see how I go. After thinking about what to write (and wondering if I stood a chance against thousands of other entries - including the pros) I concluded that a juicy horror tale wasn't going to work here because the previous winners wrote contemporary literary stories.

Using this philosophy I sat down and penned a short story with a working title, 'Never Far Away' - don't laugh! I know it sounds mushy but it's a story that contains the theme of coping with the loss of a loved one.

By now, you're probably asking why am I writing something so different? The answer is this: if I can create effective mood and atmosphere in my horror fiction, then maybe I can use my tools to make the judge(s) cry, maybe touch them with a tear-jerker of a tale. Talk about going off at a tangent! It was a challenge, I have to admit because I usually write fast-paced pieces so I had to slow down with this one. I just hope I can pull it off - I may even submit it under a pseudonym to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment.

The first hand-written draft weighed in at 2,000 words which was comfortably under the 3,000 word limit and next comes the drafting / re-writing stage. To some, it may seem like a chore but to me I love getting out my red pen to shape and sculpture my words to create the best effects possible.

Well, the deadline is 20/10/2006 so I better get my arse moving. I'll let you know how I go.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Three Stories Find a Home

How many of you have heard of a publication called Flash Shot Daily Genre Fiction? Well, recently I was lucky enough to have two of my micro stories, Decapitated and Silent Treatment chosen by Flash Shot to be distributed to its subscribers next year.

Decapitated is scheduled for publication on 4th January 2007 and will also be included in an anthology (TBA) while Silent Treatment is due for scheduling in the next two weeks or so.

Flash Shot is quite a unique publication. When you get a story published it gets sent out to the inboxes of subscribers and once 365 stories have been collected, they get published in an anthology each year. Now get this - you have the option of getting your story printed on to a mug or a t-shirt. How cool is that?

Do yourself a favour and subscribe - it's free and you receive a new micro story every single day. There are some really good stories, too and they only take about twenty seconds to read. It's a good way to start your day over your steaming cup of java. To subscribe, simply click on the link in my list.

The Jaunt, my third story to find a home, is a sci-fi piece of about 1,500 words. It's been accepted into a brand new anthology called Timeflash. Timeflash will feature stories with a time-travel or alternate reality theme. I think it's going to showcase about thirty authors from around the world so it's pretty cool to be involved in something like that. The Jaunt is the longest story I have had accepted to date.

When Decapitated and Silent Treatment are released next year, I will also make sure that they are available to read right here on my blog, so watch this space.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Origins of a Horror Writer

In my last post I said I wouldn't give too much information about myself too quickly. After giving it some thought I came to the conclusion that I might as well get it all out of the way so I can concentrate on current goings-on.

This post is going to be quite lengthy so bear with me. I hope it doesn't bore you too much - but then, most of you (if you are writers reading this) would probably relate to how I came to be a writer.

The first half of my life was spent in Ballarat, Victoria and like most pre-teen kids I had an extremely active imagination. In those days it didn't take much to feed it, especially when my older brothers hired a lot of horror movies from the local video shop - Poltergeist; The Madman; Friday the 13th; Cujo; The Slayer (I could go on and on). My brothers would also tell me ghost stories and scare me with this doll where you stuck on his facial features (I've based a story on those events and I'll tell you about it another time). All that stimuli resonated with me and scared the hell out of me for years. I had no idea that all of it would get buried deep within my subconcious, influencing what was to come later on in my life.

During early childhood, I was also plagued by nightmares. Ask my Mum and she'd tell you about the countless nights I would wake up screaming. Once I had calmed down I would sit up with her and watch old TV shows like Prisoner, The Professionals or Hart to Hart (eek!)

Around the age of seven or eight, I caught the writing bug (what kid didn't?) My Mum noticed this and bought me a beautiful blue Olivetti typewriter complete with yellow paper. I loved it. I would pound out stories that made little sense, but I had fun with them regardless.

Flash forward to my high school years. I went through high school at Wycheproof in central Victoria and during that time my teachers told me that I had the potential to become a good writer. This was encouraging but when I left school my desire to write vanished - I had no idea why until thirteen years later. I went straight into the workforce, moved down to Bendigo, started a brand new life, went from job to job and finally met the girl of my dreams in 1997. I married her in 2000. I had finally settled down and built a wonderful life with my soul mate. Then one day in 2004, a strange thing happened, it completely caught me off guard.

I woke up with a little voice inside my head saying, 'It's time to start writing.' Weird, huh? So this idea for a short story came to me and I sat down and began to write - it felt like the most natural thing in the world. After hand-writing furiously for about an hour my first serious attempt at fiction was born, a 2,000 word story about cause and effect. I named it 'The Prophecy.' It felt like I'd received my calling in life and I knew then that writing was what I wanted to do.

So then I thought to myself, how can I find out if I have the goods to go further with this? The answer was: go to Tafe and do a course. I enrolled in the Short Story 1A & 1B course at Tafe in 2005. It was a night class and there I found the encouragement and support I needed to unleash my potential. Receiving a competency with merit assessment told me that I would have a future with my writing and I ended up winning my first award for a flash fiction story called 'The Tram' in the first half of 2005. My experience at Tafe cemented my self-belief and gave me the knowledge to launch my own writing career, to fulfill a dream.

After the course finished I was worried that I couldn't cope without the valued support I was used to receiving. It turned out that I worried about nothing. I actually got published earlier this year in FlashSpec Volume 1 and words can't describe how that felt - I was elated (and still am.) Then I got several micro pieces accepted by Flash Shot in Canada. So with my ever-growing confidence it's enabled me to start work on my first novel (I'm already 7,500 words in and I haven't looked back). I've also submitted stories everywhere I can think of so I do keep myself busy in my spare time. I'll keep you posted on how the novel's going and where I'm at with my current projects.

Phew! Wasn't that a mouthful? Now you know how I came to be a writer and what drives me. Next time I can talk to you about everything else instead of boring you with my personal history. Talk to you soon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Brief Introduction

Well, here it is - my first Blog. I've wanted to do this for a while now, purely to make contact with writers like myself who love speculative fiction. I had no idea where to start and I noticed that a few writers who I admire were starting up Blogs. Now, I'm really doing it and it's great to be here!

I know introductions can be boring so I'm not going to bore you with my life story....yet. I simply thought it appropriate that my first entry should tell you a little about myself. There's going to be plenty of time to fill you in on my origins and what I've been up to before making my debut on this Blog.

So, let's start with the present. I live in Bendigo, Victoria with my beautiful wife, Jennie and we're expecting our first child in February 2007 - exciting stuff! We've even resisted the temptation to find out what the sex is. We want the surprise instead - it'll add more emotion to the birth and make the experience really special.

For the past five years I have been reluctantly working in telecommunications (selling mobile phones). My dream, like many emerging writers is to write full-time. Unfortunately, as reality would have it, a writer at the beginning of his career needs to eat, pay the bills, the mortgage and prepare for his child's arrival. For the time being, I have to put on a happy face and tolerate the monotony of my dead-end job. I've even thought of going down the same road Dean Koontz did. Remember when his wife said she'd give him five years to become a success and that she'd support him financially for that time? You know what happened - he did just that. I've toyed with the idea of convincing my wife to let me do the same thing - I know the answer would be no, so I've never mentioned it to her. She's always right and she keeps me well-grounded (one of the millions of reasons I love her to bits).

Since this is my first post, I've made it a light one. I don't want to bog you down with excess wordage at this stage. You'll get to know me as we go along, trust me. Next time, I'll reveal a little more about my past as well as what I've been doing with my writing over the past couple of years - we've got plenty of time.