science fiction and fantasy writer

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

CSFG Next anthology

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2013 at 11:37 pm

CSFG’s Next anthology (featuring my story “Vandiemensland”) is now an e-book! Available from Smashwords in most formats for the very reasonable price of USD $4.99.

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Next is also available in trade paperback from the CSFG website for AUD $24.95 (and you can get a 2nd CSFG book for half price).

More Culinary Horror

In Uncategorized on May 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Certain members of my writers’ group, who may or may not include the editors of the CSFG’s most recent short story anthology, have a predilection for the dark art of punning.

We tolerate this foible, because we understand that compulsive punning is a sickness. But our hearts are heavy, because we know, too, that it is a degenerative condition.

To the punners among us, I say: Get help! Stop, while you still can! Or see what your futures hold:

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Random Topic: Best. Recipe book. Ever.

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2013 at 10:39 pm

I do some volunteering for Lifeline to help out with the fundraising Bookfairs that run in Canberra three times a year. Something I’ve recently started doing is helping to price the vintage books. My latest box for pricing is mostly full of recipe books. And in amongst them, this First Edition pearl from 1929:

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Oh, lordie.

It features advice that ranges from the wise “there is only one kind of knife suited to sandwich making – a sharp one” (I feel like such a fool!) via the ingenious “a plate of sandwiches may be covered with a towel wrung out of hot water” (who knew?) to the racy “Sandwiches are more attractive if cut in rounds, triangles, oblongs or exact squares, or with a fancy cutter” (oh, have mercy!) and the deeply zen “Many directions say to butter the bread before it is cut from the loaf” (fuck– what?)

I dunno if there’s really five hundred recipes in there – they’re not numbered – but damn, if you’re the sort of person who publishes a book of your sandwich recipes then, if the cover says Five Hundred Sandwiches, well, hell yes there will be exactly five hundred sandwich recipes inside.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of them are stretching things a bit.

Worst page? This:IMG_1380

Okay so lettuce sandwiches are perfectly acceptable, but the cabbage and mashed peas are giving me flashbacks to the English school lunches of my early childhood. What is the emoticon for my gag reflex? Not to mention that the fresh grated horseradish would probably blow your sinuses out through your forehead. The sliced olive is an insult on top of the abuse that recipe would do to your mucus membranes.

Other highlights include:  anchovy and egg (aka The Death By Farts); banana, lettuce and mayonnaise (aka The Whateverthefuck Happened To Be In The Fridge At The Time); Nasturtium (aka The Whateverthefuck I Happened To See In The Garden); orange and egg (aka The Goddammit I Am Making It To Five Hundred); liver, raisin and onion (aka The Okay, Just Stop Now. No Really, For The Love Of God, Stop).

On the difference between writers and regular crazy people

In Uncategorized on May 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I posited the idea recently, amongst a group of other writers in the bar at a convention, that the only difference between a successful writer and a regular crazy deluded person is a certain level of talent. This suggestion was roundly shouted down with cries of “Not even that!” “Talent doesn’t get you anywhere!” and “Drink! Nother drink! Whez ma drink?”

I think talent does have a role in a writer’s success or failure (along with hard work, skill, persistence, luck, not being a jerk, the ability to drink gin for breakfast and having a delusional outlook on your prospects of success). I think, as writers, we often bias towards things like lyricism of prose (for me, Le Guin, Bradbury) or mastery of narrative (Gaiman) when we think of talent. So J.K. Rowling might get criticised for clunky narrative or Stephenie Meyer for mediocre prose, and their successes attributed to something other than talent.

I think talent is part of the reason why writers who (may) have shortcomings in aspects of their craft can find such success. Because, despite those shortcomings, their stories have got the secret sauce that makes readers’ brains fizz, that drag you into the story and suddenly it’s six hours later, the house is dark and cold and you’ve hopelessly missed the dinner with your friends that you’d been looking forward to this past week. I think the ability to create stories that do that is not something that can be entirely taught. And, to my mind, that makes it (at least partly) a talent.

But what about being a crazy deluded person? Why is that an important attribute for being a writer? Read more…