The Queensland Literary Awards short-lists have been announced. How wonderful to see how the community rallied to support these awards when the Queensland Government couldn’t be arsed. As the LNP rips the state apart looking for spare change and some cheap point-scoring, something has been built. Even the Courier-Mail ponied up some cash, brilliant given the chaos that Murdoch’s empire is in at the moment, slashing jobs wherever they can be found to slash — latest on the line, photographics. But the good news — well done, y’all!
The press release is here and the short-lists here. Yay Margo Lanagan, with Sea Hearts in the, ahem, YA section!
Elsewhere, some good advice, especially that from Dr Kim!
China Mieville, at the Edinburgh international writers conference, quoted in the Guardian’s round-up:
Our job is not to give readers what they want, it is to try to make readers want what we give.
Kim Wilkins, on being distracted from your work by, um, writing this blog post:
reframing your internet procrastination as wandering away from your work can really help
And Marianne de Pierres shares productivity tips over at Louise Cusack’s place, my favourite being: persevere. Something of a personal mantra.
An Aussie voicing Judge Dredd: that’s pretty cool. Alan Baxter reports there’s a new mobile phone game set in the world of Judge Dredd, with the said judge voiced by Kevin Powe, a Melbourne actor I’ve had the good fortune to run into in bars (as you do). Better than Sly? You can be the judge of that.
Louise Cusack is running a series of Wednesday posts about the writing game, with recent posts by guests including using writing contests to build a CV on the way to getting a publishing contract; publishing an e-book; and wrangling media. There’s a good post about editing from Louise, too, with a handy Q&A form.
Speaking of editing, Angela Slatter has a handy graphic to help understand the writing cycle. The word ‘flensing’ appears. Not for the precious or faint-hearted!
Over at Cheryse Durrant’s, I’ve been invited to bang on about Kim Harrison and urban fantasy. I am seriously behind on the Rachel Morgan series: there’s a graphic novel now? From Ivy’s point of view? w00t!
Have you been following the Wonder Women Are blog posts over at Tansy’s place? Delightful overviews of various star women characters in the comics world. The focus has been on DC and Marvel, with this week dedicated to the Bat-family. As a one-time massive buyer of Batman comics, it’s been great to see not only how stories have progressed and been reinvented, but how the comics honchos have moved with the times … or not. I may even have to make some further investments for the collection. Outside of Batman, two of my favourite titles back in the day were Kabuki and Shi: I wonder how they hold up today? Hm, I know they’re here somewhere…
Recent common sense from writers wot know:
Two-million-word writer Kim Wilkins:
Write the fucking fiction! Don’t write blogs and marketing plans and twitter yourself in front of everyone in hopes of building a platform. Write the fucking fiction FIRST. The rest is just white noise until you have a good finished product. And it must be good.
Read the rest here. It’s fucking gold. You can have a ‘cosy chat’ with Kim at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 9 September.
Justine Larbalestier, whose blog is informative and entertaining, on YA writers doing it for the money:
If someone really decided to become a YA novelist solely to make big money then they’re an idiot with incredibly poor research skills. Choosing to write novels—in any genre—as a path to riches is about as smart as buying lottery tickets to achieve the same.
And to complete the trifecta, Joe Abercrombie offers an overview of planning, something I’m going through at the moment with a similar process to this:
I’ll know the setting and the rough plot for each part, some idea of what each point of view character needs to do, but usually I only plan the first part in any close detail, working out exactly what each chapter is going to contain.
Abercrombie and Wilkins are guests at GenreCon in Sydney in November, which should be a hoot.
Bundaberg’s WriteFest is a great event, one of those fairly intimate occasions when everyone’s just chilled out yet totally keen. This year the organisers have upped the ante, offering a workshop with Louise Cusack — her writing advice is always worth it — as well as the chance to get feedback from Allen & Unwin’s Rachael Donovan on how to improve a submission to a publisher, and a chance to talk to Clan Destine Press’s Lindy Cameron about a manuscript. But you want to be quick: applications for the feedback sessions close on Sunday April 15. Check out the website: there’s plenty more on, including two workshops with Marianne de Pierres and seminars on many things writerly. WriteFest is held on May 19.
Michael Hauge provides insight into story structure and the rules of engagement for hero and ‘reflection character’.
The horror of having a book go to print without its opening line, and a constructive way of dealing with the misdeed, courtesy of Kirstyn McDermott.
I’ve recently had cause to chinwag with a.rawlings, this year’s Arts Queensland poet in residence hosted by Queensland Poetry Festival, and was again struck by the power of the written word when read out loud. I found her poem, ‘a hoosh a ha’, inside her collection Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists, and then this clip on YouTube of her performing the piece. It’s a gorgeous book, beautifully laid out, but to hear those words out loud: wow. To complete the narrative circle of this post, it’s worth the mention that one of Louise Cusack’s suggestions for improving self-editing is to read the work out loud. Advice I really wish I’d take more often, because it really does highlight awkwardness, errors and repetition.
Queensland Writers Centre is compiling a booklet, Books from our Backyard, of Queensland authors to have had a book published in 2011. Must be first edition, paper or e-book, with ISBN and cover image. Details at the website.
Also, the centre has compiled a website of reaction to the summary cancellation of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards by incoming premier Campbell Newman. The centre is looking to salvage something from the debacle and provides some avenues for reaction to the move. A separate push is underway to establish the Queensland Literary Awards.
In award news, and much more positive all round, Aussies Jonathan Strahan and the gang from Galactic Suburbia podcast have made the shortlist for the Hugo Awards — Strahan twice, for best short form editor and also his co-hosted Notes from Coode St podcast. Way to go!
The Blood-Red Pencil hosts two posts about the life of agents, including their changing role in an industry where self-publishing is no longer the path of last resort.
At the Lair, Sean Williams and Karen Miller talk joining Forces with the Star Wars franchise.
In Lisa Hannett’s Tuesday Therapy (it’s been a busy week), Kim Falconer offers some down-to-earth advice about setting goals and achieving them despite all the good advice. In today’s Theraphy, Angela Slatters offers excellent advice about both offering and receiving favours of a literary nature.
Looking ahead: Swancon 2013 has announced a guest list of Gail Simone, Charles Stross, John Birmingham and Lucy Sussex. w00t!
Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Creature Court series is pushing into overseas markets — great to see a publisher investing in local talent.
And finally, this piece from Call My Agent! about the cultural cringe and Australian novels. I’d like to think that the efforts of our fantasy, crime and romance writers, in particular, are changing the apparent reluctance of readers to buy locally … This post riffs off a previous one about why it’s hard to get an Aussie novel published, which kicked along a meme about ‘what Australian book have you bought recently’. You don’t buy local just because it is local, of course, but because it’s local and good: it’s that last part that has had buyers doubting, but they’re out of excuses these days. Now it’s how to raise awareness in an ever-crowded market place.
Late addition: I’ve been meaning to add 20c to this excellent post about the value of a book cover over at Patrick O’Duffy’s place, but that’s gonna have to wait for another day. When you see the amount of quality info Angry Robot has packed onto that back cover … wow. The absence of a back cover on an e-book — that requirement that the browser has picked up that info on the web page — is an interesting quandary that I haven’t got around to pondering in any meaningful way. Patrick, it’s up to you!
Ursula K Le Guin offers this about the ‘death’ of the book:
There certainly is something sick about the book industry, but it seems closely related to the sickness affecting every industry that, under pressure from a corporate owner, dumps product standards and long-range planning in favor of ‘predictable’ sales and short-term profits
Uh-huh. In the Book View Cafe piece, she goes on to talk about the differentiation between books and reading, and the definition of books. Plenty to applaud.
And there’s this interesting thought about the structure of writing in the face of technology, specifically the amount of a Kindle book revealed in an Amazon sample. Leave’em on a cliff-hanger, seems to the be the idea. The potential for narrative convolutions is immense. I can’t help feeling that if you’ve read 10 per cent of a book and you still don’t know whether you want to read it or not, the book’s in trouble. But then, I like the slow burn; you don’t have to hook me with a big bang or a plot twist if your voice is on the money.
Yay: this analysis of the Hunger Games movie helps explain why I came away feeling I’d been served a snack instead of a meal. Seems there’s a whole layer of social snark that got discarded, as well as the fact that I might’ve misread who was playing games of the heart. All the more reason to read the book, methinks.
And in case you missed it: the long list of the Miles Franklin. Lots of memories of the war, family secrets, a little bit of inner city, a touch of paddock, some foreign climes, the way we were and what happens next. That’s all very well, but at this time of the week, I’m thinking Sean Williams in power armour* wins hands down!
* See this interview for the background to Sean’s powering up!
Yay for Chuck McKenzie who, after four years running a Dymocks shop, has gone it alone with Notions Unlimited spec fic book store at Melbourne’s bayside Chelsea. Ensconced between a coffee shop and a liquour outlet and with a sushi store right outside the door, he must be occupying some prime real estate. Add in an amazingly wide range of genre reading — a dedicated small press section, graphic novels, and all the F, SF and H you can point a stick at, whether big guns or more oscure or up-and-coming writers — and a seriously luxurious looking set of sofas, and he might be needed a bouncer to kick the customers out at closing time. It’s a tough time for bricks and mortar enterprises, but a niche store with a knowledgeable and welcoming owner is in with a chance. There’s nothing quite like that human element when it comes to, ‘if you bought this, you might also like…’
In what at times feels like a stampede to be published — by someone, anyone, even ourselves — it’s worth taking a breath and deciding just how much we value our written words and the time and effort (yes, it takes effort!) taken to tell that particular story. Check out these posts at Writer Beware, giving pause for thought about writing contests and dodgy publisher deals.
Ellen Datlow, much awarded and respected editor of all things grim and ghoulish, has a new Best Horror on the way — Aussie Margo Lanagan flies the flag in the TOC. Ellen’s listed her honourable mentions, and Antipodeans Alan Baxter, John Harwood, Terry Dowling and Kaaron Warren are included. Nice.
Ian Irvine is giving away an iPad3 as part of a Facebook promotion.
Canberra’s Nicole Murphy (The Secret Ones) had me over at her blog recently to gab (in two parts) about the technical stuff — how to organise a writing schedule, look after health and get stuck into the words. It’s always fun, though perhaps also confronting, answering questions such as Nicole’s, because it makes you check the balance between intentions and practice. Note to self: must get act together and get nose to writing grindstone.
has reviewed Keith Stevenson’s monolithic (it’s more than 700 pages!) SF antho Anywhere But Earth
and I *love* her comment about my story in it:
Jason Nahrung, as usual, wrote beautifully, but handed me horror in sci-fi clothing. One day, he’ll gift me with a glimmer of hope!
A glimmer? I *think* I could do that. In fact, I did try once, and the jury’s still out on that story, but I *guess* I could try again…
Read Thoraiya’s thoughtful and generous review here.
Meanwhile, Karen Brooks has penned one of her, as usual, insightful media-probing articles about a new Snow White movie starring Charlize Theron and ‘that girl from Twilight‘, Kristen Stewart, a casting decision which apparently has issues of the shallow flesh front and centre. Stewart impressed in The Runaways; this might be worth a look. Has there been a decent adaptation since Sigourney Weaver played the wicked stepmother? I like what Karen says about looking for moral reinforcement in uncertain times, and just hope that means the movie makers are subverting the old tropes of cultural reinforcement rather than wielding them from a pulpit.
Louise Cusack has blogged on the authenticity of blogging and the crafting of online personae, this weird business of marketing the creator and not just the product. A kind of cult of personality, or a genuine reaching out to those who make a creative life financially viable (if you’re one of the lucky ones)? For those writers who fit the shy, retiring mould, the idea of appearing in public to try to talk up their work is anathema, but the pressure’s on. I guess the key is to try to be nice about it, wield some respect for others and yourself, while at the same time not taking it too seriously because there’s nothing worse than seeing a big head explode in front of an audience…
Jay Kristoff, who recently exhorted us all to walk and keep on walkin’ till we reach the destination, has got me thinking that, hm, yes, I really must investigate this Dropbox thing, or something similar. Read these words and tremble in shared terror:
Michael Pryor, who has a new book out soon, has provided some cool tips for DIY booktrailers. Possibly the hardest part is getting someone to watch it, neh?
And Stephen M Irwin talks about the three acts of a narrative, the kind of basic info that I really should staple to the wall above my computer before I start the next project…
…the entire sequel had flipped out and been eaten by gremlins. Every draft. All my notes. My diary of a madman scribbles about where the trilogy was headed. Everything.
Act 1: make it matter
Act 2: make it messy
Act 3: make it meaningful
I can’t help feeling that it’s Act 3 that lets a lot of stories down. Boom, crash is all very well and lots of fun, but the stories that linger are the ones that reach down deep and make us ask those ‘what if’ questions.
Back to the fairytales, then, and one of the coolest Disney villains: magnificent Maleficent!