Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 In Retrospect

I know, I know - I haven't made a blog entry since like forever but I do have some good excuses for it, really!

For me, 2007 was a huge year, one of highs, lows, joys and sadness - a real mixed bag of emotions, let me tell you. My year couldn't have started off better since my son was born on the 5th of February. Nothing comes close to the joy I experienced when he entered the world for the first time. Now, in the blink of an eye, his first birthday is rapidly approaching. Time does fly.

On a sadder note, I lost my step dad in October. He lost his battle with cancer and I can now say that he's not suffering anymore. This was quite a difficult time and my writing did take a back seat for a little while.

But with my writing, this year I had a flash piece, Wired for Sound accepted into FlashSpec Volume 2 but the highlight of the year came when I learned that one of my micro stories, Edgar's Final Act made the cut to be included in Black Box by Brimstone Press. To be a part of a collection along with the top dark fiction writers in this country is a dream come true (it only took five subs for E.F.A. to make it!)

I also managed to write ten new stories this year, even though some of them were micro pieces - but it feels good to be churning out regular work.

Now, I do love to read. Unfortunately the list of books below I read this year doesn't even come close to the 2006 list. Anyway, here they are:

Dark Tower 1 - The Gunslinger - Stephen King
Dark Tower 2 - The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King
Cell - Stephen King
The Familiar Stranger - Brett McBean
The Good Guy - Dean Koontz
The Shining - Stephen King
100 Jolts - Michael Arnzen
The Last Motel - Brett McBean
Six Sacred Stones - Matthew Reilly
Mama's Boy - Fran Friel
Blaze - Richard Bachman
Friday Night in Beast House - Richard Laymon
Bag of Bones - Stephen King

What can I say accept the rigors of Fatherhood made extra reading time that little bit more elusive.

In current news I have a few submissions out there at the moment. One of my early short stories, Beware the Children has been sent to a TV producer to hopefully be optioned off and adapted for the small screen. Harvest, a new Melbourne magazine is looking at my latest story, Treasured Pages and I also wanted to score my first reprint so I sent Ion over at Antipodean my flash piece, Wired for Sound that first appeared in FlashSpec Volume 2 earlier this year. And Shroud magazine is looking at Treasured Pages also.

Hopefully the new year will bring some exciting news.

Anyway, here are my goals for 2008:

1) To write no less than eight new stories

2) To participate in the AHWA mentorship program

3) To outline a novel

4) To win at least one competition

5) To be shortlisted for an Aurealis Award

6) To publish two reprints

Happy New Year everyone and I'll be back soon.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Submission: Accepted

It's always nice to receive acceptances, particularly when it means you've achieved a major goal for the year. I learnt last night that my micro fiction piece, Edgar's Final Act has made the cut and will be published in Brimstone Press' Black Box e-anthology, slated for release in January 2008.

This was a major goal for me this year because I wanted to get up there, work hard and sculpt a micro piece of fiction into something publishable, to be showcased with the best dark fiction writers in the country - now it's happened. I'm a very happy boy at the moment.

In other news, another one of my flash fiction stories, Wired For Sound recently received a favourable review on the website. This was the comment:

'Hard to find a flaw and the final line is irresistible...'

Well, what can I say? It's looking to be another good year for my writing career...

What I'm reading: Blaze By Richard Bachman

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the hell have I been up to?

Well, I've got some good answers to that question since it's been a while between posts. So, allow me to dust away some cobwebs and tell you what I've been doing.

Firstly, I've got two submissions out there that are being considered as I type. The first is my main project for this year, my novella - The Devil's Number. I should here something very shortly whether or not the editor wants to see the manuscript in its entirety. The second is my submission to Brimstone Press' Black Box e-anthology, a very trim 120 word piece that would highight my year - it would mean I'd be showcased in a collection among the best dark fiction writers in the country.

In other news, while occupying myself with being the best parent I can to my beautiful baby boy, and working my full-time job, I've managed to complete a first draft of a short story for possible inclusion in Dead Letter Press' premium anthology, 'Bound for Evil.' If accepted I would be showcased in a very high quality volume of short stories along with the legendary H.P. Lovecraft. This is a project I've held pretty close to my chest but now I'm comfortable enough to at least reveal the working title - 'Treasured Pages.' The deadline for this submission is the end of September so there's not much time for the inevitable re-writes and polishing (after my seven days away from the manuscript, of course - talk about discipline!)

It really does feel good to be writing again. There was a period of quite a few weeks where I refused to sit in front of the keyboard and create something. Maybe it was a confdence problem - I don't know. But while I was writing the first draft to Treasured Pages there were a couple of occasions where I zoned out while typing away, a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me, to produce two thousand words barely remebering them coming from my head and down through my fingers. It's a real buzz.

The next time you hear from me I'll hopefully be finished the second draft of TP! Cross your fingers for me for the two submissions I mentioned earlier.

Till next time.

What I'm reading: Heart-shaped Box By Joe Hill

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Old Friend

I was at the local Bendigo Showgrounds market the other week and was browsing the book stands (I couldn't help myself) and came across an ancient copy of The Shining - a pretty rare movie tie-in edition - so I snatched it up for the princely sum of $3. You're probably asking why I did this when I could by it brand new for $20. Well, here's my answer.

All I wanted was an old copy I could read without worrying about damaging it. I missed the book - I actually sold one of my copies years ago (for shame) but that's another story. The Shining happens to be my most favourite book of all time. During my life I've read it three times before delving into it's pages again right now. I don't think I could ever get sick of it. You fall in love with the characters so much so that when you read the book again it's like visiting old friends.

I've never felt this way about any other book (although I do have soft spots for Christine, Needful Things and Pet Semetary). The story is so compelling that I will probably read it again several more times throughout my life.

This was just something personal that I wanted to share with you.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My Growth as a Writer

Recently, I've been reflecting on ways in which to improve my writing. A story I wrote at the beginning of the year was one I was quite happy with - that is, until I received six straight rejections. Then I started thinking, what am I doing wrong?

I've figured it out. It was so blatantly obvious and yet, I was oblivious to it. The conclusion I've come to is that...wait for it - I rush my stories. Upon analyzing and thinking about how I go about my work, I've discovered that I have become too concerned about having my stories reach print rather than give the story its best chance by taking my time with them. I've been too caught up by quantity - not quality, wanting to become too big too soon.

So right here, right now I'm going to make a declaration. With every story I write from here on in, I'm going to bang out a first draft and let it sit for a little while instead of launching straight into the second draft. I have found that my aproach to my work of late has been very narrow minded. I haven't let the stories rest and haven't asked myself quesions such as, Is the story original enough? Have I used word economy to its best advantage? Does the story flow smoothly and is it polished to a professional enough standard?

No, I haven't been asking myself these questions and my work has suffered greatly from it. So, in order to succeed and have more stories published, I will strive to give considerable thought as to a story's appeal and work and work and work it until I'm satisfied that I have written them as best as I posibly can.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Devil's Number Update

It's been a while since I Blogged, I know - but I have been working, I swear!

In fact, earlier today I sent off the first five scenes of the novella and it is now sitting on the editor's desk. I'm feeling a bit of relief that I've finally sent it. It does ease the workload just a little.

It's amazing how different the novella has become since the first draft - the re-writing, editing, changing the sex of characters etc. But, it's reading a lot smoother now and hopefully it's got a chance at seeing publication.

I've made a vow to myself that the final product will be completed by the last quarter of the year. The projects and ideas inside my head are banking up and it is almost time to move on.

In other news, it's almost time for FlashSpec Volume 2 to be released and I have to say the line-up is pretty impressive and let's hope the stories within get some good reviews.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Another Submission: Accepted

It's beginning to look like a good year so far in terms of acceptances. I've just been notified that my flash fiction piece, The Tram has just been accepted and published on the Micro Horror website. Although, it's not a paying market, it's still good exposure for me - Pretty bloody cool!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mama's Boy - A Review

I find it very hard to believe that, upon reading Fran Friel’s novella, Mama's Boy that it was written by an author who had just made her debut. This is a piece that has already earned her critical acclaim, a piece that turns your blood to crimson ice. You find yourself constantly wondering how a nice lady like Fran could produce a story so disturbing and macabre, yet so enjoyable at the same time.

The writing within the novella is so crisp and flowing that you could swear Fran had been churning out best-selling work for years – such is the quality of her writing that only recently earned her a Bram Stoker nomination.

As you read the first page, you’re thrust into the dark, chilling landscape that makes up Frank Doe’s soul. Frank is a mental patient warehoused in Penn Asylum and has resided within its walls for the past twenty years. In all that time he has remained mute about the goings-on in his past – until Rebecca, a young doctor freshly recruited by the asylum manages to crack open Doe’s mental vault, peeling away at the complex layers of his psyche that have remained hidden for so long. Then we begin a journey into the turbulent events from Doe’s doomed life.

Even though numerous scenes disturb you and rock you to your core, you simply can’t help but turn page after page until the very end, until you discover the reasons behind Doe’s activities. Fran keeps the momentum going at a cracking pace and doesn’t disappoint.

With a delightful little twist at the end with a strong underlying Psycho-like theme that fuels the book, I guarantee that this nasty little read will resonate with you for quite some time after putting it down. There’s so much more I could say about this brilliant book, but to do so would give too much away – you’ll just have to be on the look out for the various clues strategically scattered throughout the text.

Sadly, Mama's Boy has sold out due to a limited print run from Insidious Publications. However, don’t worry too much. Fran has mentioned that Mama's Boy will be available again; this time paired with a short story collection that’s hopefully going to be available some time next year. I know it is going to be some hot property to own, let me tell you. I can’t wait!

So keep an eye out for Fran in the future – she’s going to be around for quite some time. She’s just getting started!

For more information about Fran you can either visit her Blog at:

Or you can catch her on The Horror Library’s Blog-o-Rama where she regularly contributes a column:

Friday, April 06, 2007

Submission: Accepted

Making my debut in FlashSpec Volume 1 in 2006 was the highlight of the year for me and a massive confidence boost. So, imagine my delight when I opened up my email earlier today and found one of those messages informing me that one of my flash fiction pieces, Wired for Sound was accepted into FlashSpec Volume 2. Talk about a great Easter present!

FlashSpec Volume 1 offered no payment for its contributors last year (I was fine with that), however this time, we get paid. The amount is small, but that doesn't worry me too much - it's still my first professional sale and I get to see my work in print again!
In other news, I thought I should give you an update of where I'm at with The Devil's Number. It's slow going, but I am getting through the second draft. It's taking a bit longer than the first draft because of the constant revision I'm employing as well as the copious re-writing of certain scenes to make the story flow better. I'm still aiming for my June deadline so I better get cracking!
What I'm reading: Will Elliott's The Pilo Family Circus

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dead Silence

Alright! If any of you have seen the preview to this flick like I have, you'll probably agree with me that it is going to be one of the best horror films of 2007 - without doubt, especially when you have talent like James Wan at the helm. It's going to scare a lot of people because ventriloquist's (prick of a word to spell!) dummies are pretty freaky and not many people like them (I know I don't). So if I pluck up the courage to go and see it, I'll let you know what I think.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Matthew's Picture

I thought it was about time I learnt how to post pictures on my blog and I thought, why not begin by posting a picture of my baby son, Matthew. How could parenthood be this hard when our baby is this cute? He's actually pretty good and sleeps between 4 and 6 hours a night he is.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My First Professional Gig

Last Thuesday night I was lucky enough to be invited along to my local Tafe campass to deliver my first lecture to a class.

Once I got over the initial stage fright I began to relax and tell them all about how I came to be a writer, I discussed flash and micro fiction at length and I got them to do an exercise where they were to write a 100 word story and read them out. I also touched a little on motivation and goal setting.

The course co-ordinator said to me at the end of the night in front of everyone that I would make a great teacher in the future at Tafe.

This came as quite a shock to me and I was flattered. I must have done okay.

What I'm reading: Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's a Boy!

On 5th February, my son was born at 3:12am. Words simply can't describe the emotions that ran through me.

His name is Matthew Alexander, he weighed in at 9 pounds, 2 1/2 (big boy!) and is 52.5cm tall. He is very healthy, and beautiful.

For five days, food and sleep were put on the back burner as I simply can't beleive that Matty is finally here. We've been blessed, truly. He feeds well, he doesn't cry that much and when he does, he's easily consolable - he's perfect - and he's coming home today!

Well, gotta go and pick up Mother and Son and I'll talk to you all again soon.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our Baby

Hi, guys.

Just thought I'd let you know my wife's water broke half an hour ago and we're off to the hospital. This is the most exciting day of my life!

It's been a long nine months and we've made it. Awesome!

This post isn't about writing, but - you get that. I'll let you know what we have.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ten New Laymon Books!


I just found out yesterday that I was the lucky winner of a choice of ten Richard Laymon paperbacks from Leisure Books in the U.S. I was stoked! All I had to do was answer a trivia question on the Richard Laymon Kills website and go into the draw to win - and I did. How cool is that?

When I entered the competition I didn't really think much about it because I've never really won a prize like this before, so you could imagine my delight at getting an email from Steve Gerlach himself, informing me that I won. It made my day.

What I'm reading: Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Devil's Number Update

Recently, I took a break once I completed my first draft of The Devil's Number. During that time I've been enjoying writing short stories again and have had a ball writing and re-working my latest one, The Chocoholic. It's nearly ready - all I have to do is re-write the ending to make it resonate with a prospective editor and apply a little polish. I plan on sending it out in February when reading periods open up again.

Over the last week or so, I've commenced work on the second draft of the novella and I've already cut two scenes from it. My prologue originally had three different situations that relate to the main content of the novella's plotline. After coming back to it I thought, it's way too much information for the reader before the main story begins so two scenes were cut, leaving behind the one that is the most interesting. This scene, I'm expanding with a bit more detail, just meaty enough without too much length to draw the reader in.

So the first half of 2007 will see much of my time taken up with the second and third drafts with a target completion date of 30th June.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

FlashSpec Volume 1 Review

On friday I just read a new review on FlashSpec Volume 1 on ASif's website. My two stories, Angel of Death and Bedtime Story got mentioned. Angel of Death didn't fare very well, but - you get that. Bedtime Story, on the other hand did get a favourable mention so it wasn't all that bad a result, really.

Since I wrote Angel of Death quite some time ago when I was a little greener, I have since improved my craft a bit more by writing twenty more stories, and completing the first draft of a novella so I'm not doing too bad at the moment.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

'Decapitated' is Released!

Yesterday morning, my micro story, Decapitated got emailed out to countless subscribers and I was delighted. In case you missed it, here it is...

Copyright Christopher Elston 2006

I am unable to escape the wrath of the storm. I turn in time to see the metal projectile hurtle toward me -- large, square and sharp. When it hits me, I feel nothing.

The side of my head rests against the ground. I gaze up at the turbulent sky, oblivious to pain as I watch my headless body sway in tune with the wind, waltzing with the elements until, finally, it topples to the ground. I stare helplessly at the oozing stump where my head used to be attached.

Everything goes dark as I plunge into eternal darkness.

Don't get me wrong, I'm delighted the story got published. But when I read it after writing it six months ago, I thought to myself - I'm not as impressed with it now. Could this be because I'm improving and growing as a writer? The mind boggles...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Last Year's Reads

I just thought I'd share this with you, my list of books I managed to find time to read last year, in no particular order....

The Mother - Brett McBean
Carnies - Martin Livings
Skeleton Crew - Stephen King
Firestarter - Stephen King
Carrie - Stephen King
Cujo - Stephen King
The Dead Zone - Stephen King
The House - Bentley Little
The Collection - Bentley Little
On Writing Horror - HWA
Treasure of Kahn - Clive Cussler
Velocity - Dean Koontz
Life Expectancy - Dean Koontz
The Husband - Dean Koontz
Thinner - Stephen King
Uncollected, Unpublished - Rocky Wood
Midnight Voices - John Saul
Seven Ancient Wonders - Matthew Reilly
Shadows - John Saul

So, there it is. Pretty freaky, huh? I can't help it. My reading appetite is insatiable.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Off to a Great Start

On Saturday morning, I got up and the first thing I did was check my email. Imagine my surprise and delight at opening up an email from the folks at DemonMinds saying that they have accepted my flash fiction piece, A Visit From Santa. Feel free to check it out at .

Now, it's one thing to have a story accepted for publication, but another one entirely to have one published that just happens to be one of your personal favourites. They are also considering the story as a feature so fingers crossed for that. It's a hell of a way to start the new year, one where my goals are much more ambitious than 2006. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. To be published in Shadowed Realms

2. To be published in Brimstone Press' Black Box

3. To win a competition

4. To be published in Cemetery Dance (a long shot)

5. To win or be nominated for an Aurealis Award

6. To see my first novella in print

7. To become a better writer

8. To write thirty new stories

9. To start work on a novel

10. To be featured in FlashSpec Volume 2

So, there they are. I've aimed pretty high this year but I think you have to up the bar to grow as a writer, to focus on your goals and actually achieve them.

What I'm reading: Brett McBean's The Last Motel

Monday, January 01, 2007

2006 in Review

Happy New Year, everyone!

I thought it fitting that my first post for 2007 should be a round-up of 2006. It was pretty big year for me as a writer. I had just finished my Short Story 1A & 1B course at Tafe and felt a little lost because there was no safety net anymore, no other people to workshop my stories. I found myself getting over that quickly because the class had given me the tools I need to start a career as a writer - it's what I wanted to do more than anything.

So, I set myself a couple of goals. To get published and to win a competition. The first goal, I achieved in May. Two of my flash fiction pieces, Bedtime Story and Angel of Death were accepted into FlashSpec Volume 1. This was a turning point because it was very exciting to see my work in print within five months of setting the goal and it gave me the confidence to keep writing and keep submitting.

I also had my first radio interview with ABC radio in Ballarat in November. That was exciting - I got to read out one of my micro fiction pieces. That was real highlight for the year.

Later in the year, two of my micro fiction pieces, Decapitated and Silent Treatment were accepted by Flash Shot, which was also quite a buzz. Sadly, I didn't end up winning competition but, I'm sure I will in 2007.

The only let down in 2006 (apart from quite a few rejections) was that my sci-fi story, The Jaunt isn't going to be published as planned - the anthology it was submitted to fell through, but I've adopted a philosophical attitude towards it, knowing that it'll probably happen to me again, but I guess it's a part of the writing life and I've accepted that and moved on.

Above all else, though, 2006 saw me produce an absolute shit load of new material. I think I wrote about fifteen new stories which I didn't think was a bad effort, as well as completing a first draft of my novella, The Devil's Number.

So, 2006 was quite a busy and exciting year for me. In my next post, I'll talk more about how 2007 is going to be one of the most exciting years of my life - both as a writer and a new Dad!