Tag Archives: writing

A publishing sort of year

Most people who read this would know I publish books via my boutique press FableCroft Publishing. In 2015, we’ve brought out two original anthologies, Cranky Ladies of History and Insert Title Here, Dirk Flinthart’s debut collection Striking Fire and the reprint ebook anthology Focus 2014: highlights of Australian short fiction (the third of an annual series) (and there may be a couple more things yet to come…).

What you might NOT know, is that this year I’ve also had several publications of my own! They are all non-fiction, and I’m rather chuffed about them, particularly when they have mostly been for paying markets!

Companion Piece cover

The first was an essay in the latest Mad Norwegian Press Doctor Who book, Companion PieceEdited by Liz Barr and LM Myles, Companion Piece focusses exclusively on the companions of Doctor Who – my essay is about Tegan, the Australian companion!

LetterstoTiptreeFollowing that, I have a letter in the Twelfth Planet Press tribute to James Tiptree Jr / Alice Sheldon / Raccoona Sheldon, Letters to TiptreeThis book is amazing and a powerful collection of work showcasing writers inspired by Sheldon’s story and her work.

Adding to these essays, I recently had an article published in the magazine Magpies, aimed at school libraries and librarians. I pitched the idea to the editors and was delighted to have it accepted, even though I only had about a week to then interview the authors and write the 1600 piece! The article is titled “Collaboration is the human superpower”, and is a feature focusing on the recent YA novel Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti within the broader context of the superhero popularity of today. It’s not online anywhere but I will probably blog the article when the exclusivity period ends.

And I was really pleased to do my first review for Books+Publishing this month! I think it’s the first time I’ve been paid to write a book review, and I’m hoping to be able to do some more. I reviewed Alison Goodman’s forthcoming novel Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club which is out early 2016, but the review is behind a paywall, sorry!

Oh, and just last week I was part of the latest SF Signal Mind Meld, on the topic “The books that made us love science fiction and fantasy” – this one WASN’T a paid piece, but I had a lot of fun writing it and check out the fantastic company I’m in!

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Promoting some Tassie events!

Some really interesting Tassie events coming up (some of which I’m involved in!):

Tasmanian Writers’ Festival – 16-24 March, 2013 (over two weekends).

TrifleDead-Cover2Book Launch: A Trifle Dead by Livia Day (from Deadlines, a Twelfth Planet Press imprint), Hobart Bookshop, Thursday 28 March, 2013 (more details to follow).

Get Published! Hints on avoiding the pitfalls to success – Saturday 13 April, 2013 (yep, I’m presenting at this one!).

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Creative day

I love writing. I choose not to do it much these days, as I’m focussed on editing and reading, but I’ve always made up stories. And so days like today are wonderful for my soul, because I get the chance to immerse in creative writing completely randomly! Just as when I had fun at the John Marsden session at the WA School Library Conference earlier this year, today has been a simple and creative pleasure. I was asked to come along with a few students to the Fremantle Children’s Literature Centre for a full day workshop with Aussie author Simon Higgins (I first met Simon at the Aurealis Awards a couple of years ago). It’s been a great day! Below is one of Simon’s exercises we did (and, at risk of ridicule) my own attempt at it 🙂

10 sentences
Keep them simple
Don’t add anything unasked for
Write about a mother and daughter meeting face to face for the first time in years
Choose your storytelling voice and tense & use throughout
number your sentences

1. Something about the weather on the day or night they meet and place them somewhere (meeting can be anywhere & when)
2. Mention a sound the characters can hear – be specific but don’t over describe
3. Choose a small physical object near or between the two characters.
4. An update on the weather.
5. Writing in the first person (about the other) third person (about either) – mention one item of clothing or an accessory
6. Revisit the sound from sentence 2
7. Make one of your characters look at the object from sentence 3 and as a result, think or feel or imagine something. (first person – about self)
8. Whoever wore or carried the article of clothing or accessory – have them do something with it.
9. As for #5 mention one physical trait (can be shared feature)
10. First time there is dialogue – one of the characters finally speaks. Has to be dramatic, intriguing, mysterious or a hint to why they haven’t seen each other in years.

The wind pushed the clouds in front of the half moon, whipping Asha’s hair around her face as I watched. The whispering of the gum leaves overhead was a constant echo in the torchlit dark. The balustrade was cold beneath my hands, gritty with peeling paint. A playful breeze flirted with the fringes of my shawl, drawing Asha’s attention at last. The rustle of the leaves seemed suddenly louder as the silence between us grew. I clenched one hand on the wooden beam, anxious now as I had not been before. I threaded three fingers through the loops of crochet shawl, nervous and waiting. Her eyes, so much like mine, widened as she took in my appearance.
“How can you be so young?”

I’m here with a bunch of 13-16 year olds and the ones who read theirs out were WAY better than mine! The future of writing in WA is solid 🙂

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On slushing…

Image courtesy of whisperwolf on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

In reading for Apocalypse Hope (working title), this is the first time I’ve opened my slushpool doors internationally. It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve been flooded with submissions from all over the world (particularly the US), and what has been the most heartening part of the process is how well the Aussie subs stand up against the international ones. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been quality submissions from all over the world, but the top Australian submissions are surpassing any from overseas, which is fantastic to see.

I ended up with over 200 submissions (I’ll do a stats breakdown when I’ve finished reading, for gender, nationality, reprint vs original works etc), and with a rather manic month and a half just past (starting with two weeks of being very ill, then school holidays and my mum’s ongoing journey of discovery of illness), I’m down to the wire on the actual reading deadline I gave myself. I plan to have all first round reading done (that is, any outright rejections) by the end of this month. Two days away. Eep. And then I’ve got another stack of second round readings to do, which I don’t want to go much beyond mid-November on. That’s my plan, right at this moment, and I’m so grateful to the wonderful authors who permit me to hold on to their stories a little longer than I’d originally hoped.

I’ve been interested to see how some authors deal with their submission. I really should have had a column for “Didn’t follow guidelines” to put in the stats, because it’s been surprisingly high. Top offenders were stories outside the word count (without query), submission of reprint (without query), multiple (without query) or simultaneous submission, and completely not fitting the theme. There were also plenty of emails without any information in the body of the email (not even a “Dear Editor, please find my submission attached”). Weirdest “Didn’t follow the guidelines” was a snail mail submission from the UK (what the WHAT?!). Typewritten. I kid you not.

Image courtesy of irina slutsky on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons

And it’s also been interesting to have more than one author take rejection very badly. Newbie writers, please take note – being aggressive with the person who publishes the work is a really bad idea. I’m an editor and publisher and sure, I don’t put out a whole lot of anthologies. Right now. At this point in my career. But my goal is to go on to bigger things. And I happen to have lots of friends who are editors and publishers. And we talk. About writers. And unprofessionalism in a writer is something we are interested in talking about, because if you can’t handle the rejection of your precious story (and yes, they are all precious, we understand), the chances are you won’t deal very well with the editorial process. Or, should you make it through that, with negative reviews (the very BEST of stories gets them – live with it).

Read a few pro writer blogs. Read about the rejections slips almost EVERY pro writer gathered when starting out (and may still gather, if they are the most wonderful type of writer who continues to take risks, who writes without contract, who submits on spec, even though they probably don’t HAVE to any more!), and consider their graciousness with this process. Rejection hurts. We all KNOW this. But you have to learn to deal with it if you really want to write.

The thing is too, you sometimes have no idea why you’ve been rejected (such as when the editor is very busy and doesn’t have time to give you more than a standard rejection). It could be that your story was actually pretty good, but just a bit too similar to another story already accepted. Or that the story just didn’t quite fit the interpretation of the theme in the editor’s head. Or any number of reasons (including, yes, that it was just plain bad). And if you behave badly in reaction to the rejection you receive, guess what? You just got crossed off that editor’s list of people she wants to work with in the future. To be honest, the best response is no response; trust me, there’s no point in arguing, and if feedback has not been freely offered, don’t ask for it. There are plenty of online and face-to-face crit groups who will give that to you.

I need to say though, almost all the writers I deal with are fantastic. They are wonderful to edit, respond promptly to email, and handle rejections gracefully. And they are the reason I continue to do this job – the good guys outnumber the bad, thankfully!

Right, so now I’ve got that off my chest, excuse me while I dive back into the slushpool, to fish out some more gems.

If you enjoyed this rant post, you might also be interested in the (more reasoned) post Alisa Krasnostein at Twelfth Planet Press made recently on the same topic.

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On indie press: Dave Luckett

I’ve invited a number of people who have published in indie press and gone on to become professionals in the field to write about their experiences. Today’s post comes to us from Dave Luckett, who has a different journey to share. 

Photo courtesy of Sandra L Chung

I had only one short story published in the old Eidolon before I got published by Scholastic, who have been publishing me ever since. They had never heard of Eidolon. That Scholastic publication only happened because Lucy Sussex was editing a collection for them – it was because she knew me. So I first got commercially published via the same route, alas, that most authors do. It was because I knew somebody in commercial publication. I am as dissatisfied with that as anyone. I don’t think it should work that way, but it does.

It was Scholastic’s imprint Omnibus who published the Tenabran Trilogy, which took two Aurealises, and that made what name I’ve got. After that it wasn’t hard to get short stories for adults into (some) indie collections like those from your good self and ‘zines like ASIM and Oceans of the Mind.

But Omnibus publishes children’s and YA only. I can’t get long works for adults published at all. The only work for adults that I can get published is short fiction in small press. The commercial outfits publish hardly any short fiction, as you know. They’re utterly risk-averse, category-driven, only listen to each others’ sales figures and industry gossip, and are only interested in this week’s bottom line and the next Big Thing. On the other hand, the indie publishers don’t publish novels, generally, and they rely – perfectly legitimately, in their case – on the personal tastes of the editor and publisher.

But my output of short stories remains small and peripheral, and it doesn’t get a foot in the door with any other publishers. In my experience, indie-published short stories are invisible to mainstream publishers, commissioning editors, and agents. In fact, almost all short fiction is invisible to them, except the very small amount they publish themselves, and then only because the very act forges personal contacts between editor and author.  The industry functions on these personal contacts.

I’m really glad that you seem to enjoy my work, and so apparently does Stephen Dedman. Others putting out indie collections, such as Bill Congreve or Russell Farr, don’t care for it. All I can do is write the best I can. I certainly don’t regard small press as any sort of career in the “earns money” sense, and regret that it doesn’t seem to be any sort of recommendation to a publisher who might be able to pay a living wage for regular output. That’s sad, and it’s wrong, but there it is.

Dave Luckett has written three junior novels for the Omnibus Ripper range: The Adventures of Addam; The Best Batsman in the World and The Last Eleven and two Shorts: Night Hunters and The Wizard and Me.

The first book in his Tenebran TrilogyA Dark Winter was released to much acclaim in April 1998, and was shortlisted for the 1999 West Australian Premier’s Award. The second book in the Tenebran TrilogyA Dark Journey was released in February 1999. A Dark Victory, book three in the trilogy, was released later that year.

Rhianna and the Wild Magic and Rhianna and the Dogs of Iron are among Dave’s recent Scholastic releases for children, and his 2010 book, Paladin, is a great time/world slip novel for younger teens. 


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