Feeling Sad

One of the best people I know passed away on the last day of January.

Aiki Flinthart was on the cusp of becoming truly famous. She was going to run her ‘Fight Like A Girl’ workshop at WorldCon – and people might think that the Covid lockdown had postponed that until WorldCon could be safely run again. However, Aiki found out well before WorldCon2020 that she was living on a shortened schedule. In January 2020, she discovered she had tumours in her brain, her lungs, and liver, and she was dying.

Aiki – being Aiki – didn’t let this slow down her plans, just alter them. She managed to put together an AMAZING anthology, with people like Neil Gaiman and Robert Silverberg. Seriously, go buy Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins. Aiki was an editor’s editor. She kept coming to meetings of our writing group, inspiring us all to keep writing NO MATTER WHAT. She managed to get an Aiki Flinthart residency up and running at the Queensland Writers Centre. She kept writing the whole thirteen months she lived after the cancer diagnosis.

She was worried the brain tumours would strip her of her intellect. That didn’t happen. She was still signing books and making plans right up until the last week in January, when the cancer was steamrolling its way through her body. I could never be so brave!

On a personal level, we had some phone calls that made us both weep. And laugh. And swear. She gave me a crown to remind me that I am a queen of writing. We got together for coffee and gossips, and can’t I tell you how much I appreciate her sharing some of her precious time with me.

Other people have written eulogies that surpass anything I could say about Aiki. She was a fighter, physically, she lived twice as long as first advised, but being a fighter was also a part of her personality. I don’t mean she was a grump that picked arguments; she fought to be a better writer, a better friend, a supporter of the writing community, a better wife and mother, and she shone like a bright, brave blade in a drawer of plastic knives.

I was very lucky to have known her, and even luckier to have her as a friend. I would wish that on all of you, to have a friend as wonderful as Aiki Flinthart, but there will never be another Aiki.

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Filed under Aiki Flinthart, Personal experience

Do I need an author website?

I’m getting a quite a few publication credits and I have actual books coming out this year. I know a lot of people rush into getting websites before they have anything to offer, and I never wanted to be one of them. However, I am at a point where people might start looking for me online (maybe?).

The thing with a website is that it can make or break your ‘brand’. My problem … I do a heck of a lot of different things! I write both fiction and nonfiction, articles, short stories, and books, in different genres, and I write for children and adults! Once upon a time, it would have been Steampunk aesthetic all the way! I’m still tempted by that – but then it overshadows everything else I do.

Thinking about a website means getting someone to design it for me (I know my limitations!) and set it up. It means getting a domain name and an email for the site. It means opening myself up more to possible fans – and critics. Do I want to be that vulnerable?

Then I remember how much I was encouraged when I first got business cards that stated I was a writer …

What to do, what to do.

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Filed under Personal experience, Writing Career

In Lockdown Again

I live in the Greater Brisbane region, and we have just started a three day lockdown. This created a sudden rush of hysteria in the panic buyers, who spent Friday depleting supermarket shelves of milk, bread, eggs, and other items (lockdown commencing at 6pm). I know that some people feel that having a fully stocked pantry gives them a sense of control. However, I still have to wonder why … after all, the cows won’t stop providing milk and the bakers won’t stop baking.

My biggest disappointment is that I will now be cancelling a trip into the Queensland Writers Centre, and that out first writing group meeting of the year has to be postponed. It is the second event that rips at me like dragon claws. The best of us is dying of cancer, and this was probably our last chance to see her – ever. She can’t risk socialising with her immune system at its lowest point.

It seems so unfair that Covid is stripping even these small pleasures away from her.

I know a lot of people thought 2021 was going to be a better year than 2020. The truth is that every year brings new challenges to be overcome. We have to learn to live with the hand we’ve been dealt. I’m so lucky to have my family and my books and a career that involves staying home and in isolation. There is food in my fridge and pantry. My husband has a job. Thanks to social media, I’m not even isolated from my tribe. And yet … I miss hugs. I miss being able to plan an outing without the fear of infection of Covid.

Back in 2017, I didn’t know how lucky I was. Now I do. Maybe this is the lesson we all needed to learn.

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Filed under Personal experience, Writing Career

Welcome to my Life, 2021 edition

This year has started out very well, career wise. Daily Science Fiction has just notified me that they have accepted a third submission. On the very same day, I was advised the first book in my Summerbrook Besties series – which I refer to as my farm books – is now up for pre-order. Fate decided to keep me grounded by having maggots invade my kitchen bin – EWWWW! Nothing says ‘down to earth’ as much as cleaning up crawlies.

Still, the horror of invading crawlies is good inspiration for my Gothic themed project. Everything is grist for the mill!

I’m not making New Year resolutions as such for 2021. I have my five year career goals, I have my short term career goals, and I have my personal goals (be kind), and they aren’t just to make me feel better about starting a new year. They make me feel better about myself on a continuous basis. If that makes me sound like a grind, so be it. I’ve hit the combination that is working for me and I’m not fiddling with the magic.

I hope you had a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to chatting with you all throughout the coming months.

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Filed under Autobiographical, DailySF, Farm Book, Personal experience, Submissions, Writing Career

Feeling Neglected?

Sorry. If I can’t offer you something original, I tend to not blog.

Please stay safe throughout the holiday period. And have an awesome time.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Start of the Term

I like going down the rabbit hole of etymology of writing terms. Some terms are hard to pin down. Here are three of my favourites, and if you can enlighten me further I would be most grateful.

The Easter Egg

song of the lark

An Easter egg in a game or video is a hidden or secret feature, often for the amusement of the creators rather than the users/audience. Wikipedia states that “The use of the term “Easter egg” to describe secret features in video games originates from the 1980 video game Adventure for the Atari 2600 game console, programmed by employee Warren Robinett.” HOWEVER! In the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the crew and cast had an Easter Egg hunt on the sets, and eggs turned up during filming. I would suggest that – since the movie was released in 1975 – that Robinett may have been a fan of the musical and this inspired the name.

Jumping the shark: when Fonzie defined a TV show's decline on Happy Days

Jumping the Shark

The origin of this term is straight from an episode of Happy Days, the television series, when Fonzi feels the need to prove his courage by jumping a shark. ‘Jumping the shark’ is when a show starts doing ridiculous storylines in an attempt to stop haemorrhaging viewers; it usually means the show is about to be cancelled. Often, it is these bizarre storylines that deliver the death blow.

DIY lamp rewire | Pearson Blakesley

Lampshading

Lampshading is a way of dealing with any element of the story that threatens the verisimilitude of a narrative or television show or movie, and interferes with the audience’s suspension of belief. Lampshading is calling attention to the very implausible plot development, or overused stereotype or tired cliché, by highlighting it. By pointing out the issue, the writer hopes to turn it into a in-joke with the audience, rather than an example of lazy writing. So where did the term come from? My research couldn’t turn up a straightforward answer. It seems to have its murky origins in vaudeville, where it was a common comedic ruse for a character to hide by sticking a lampshade on their head.

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Filed under Etymology, Language, Linguistics, Love of words, Verisimilitude, Word Play

A new publication credit

This week I was pleasantly surprised to have a story published by the Every Day Fiction magazine/website. What makes it interesting is that I can read the comments of readers that are rating the story. The first critique was a bit of a slap in the face, but the comments after have been both encouraging and helpful. (As always, setting is my weakness. Sigh.)

I’ve supplied the link above if your interested … it’s a five minute read. Not Steampunk, but still Speculative Fiction.

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Filed under Australian Author, Flash Fiction, Short Story, The Writing Life

Stuckity-stuckity-stuck

Will be slowly sink into a bottomless pit in quicksand?

I am trying to come up with a better ending for the first farm book. Something that foreshadows the arc of the four books, while at the same time making the first book a satisfactory read.

Everything I write either sinks like lead boulders into quicksand or is trite or is slightly ill-fitting like damp underwear just one size too small for comfort.

I don’t normally suffer from this sort of writer’s block. Business as usual for me is a traffic jam of ideas. I guess i will just have to push through until I find the firm ground again.

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Filed under The Farm Books, The Writing Life, Writer's Block

What you learn by being a Judge for Writing Awards

Having been an Aurealis Awards judge … there isn’t any conscious decision towards what sort of stories win awards. A lot of things are going on with judging any award.

There is a panel of judges, but it just takes one nay-sayer in a panel to knock down the front runners in a close run race. Or, a person on the panel drops out halfway through the judging period and the rest of the panel is scrabbling to make sense of the mess left behind. The smaller the number of people left, the more likely it is that personal taste will affect the end result.

Lately, what I see happening is that the darker, more literary stories are being accepted by the magazines and anthologies – thanks to the popularity of GoT and its darker themes. Fashions in writing happen just like in any sort of human-based activity- just more slowly. Ten years from now, we might be looking at a retro-revival of sword and sorcery or space opera. So, it is these darker stories that are winning the awards.

A good story is still a good story. Do your best to write amazing stories. You might not win awards, but you will get nominated for the short lists over and over again. That is more of an indication of the quality of your work than anything else.

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Filed under Australian Author, Awards, Short Story, The Aurealis, The Writing Life

I’m Still Steampunking…

Just got a quick question about whether or not I still consider myself a Steampunk Enthusiast.

Well, I bought all of Professor Elemental’s comics earlier this year. I consider that a hint as to where my heart lies. I might not get out much, but I’m still a Steampunk enthusiast at heart.

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Filed under Steampunk, Steampunk Author, Steampunk Writer