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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Elise Moser

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

Elise Moser brings a softly undulating tale of  discovery and transformation in Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast.

CA: Your story “Sandhill” is one of transformation. Such stories harken back to the earliest myths and rituals. Were you building on that tradition?

I wasn’t building on that tradition in a conscious way, although I like the idea. Really I started off just loving the cranes and trying to think my way closer to them somehow. I think a lot of our human socialization works to separate us from animals and animal consciousness, and we would be better off, as individuals and as planetary citizens, if we could find a way to open ourselves to the animal world again. And then of course once my characters were teenagers, it became all about the struggle through transformation.

CA: Childhood is in itself a transformation until we become adults. Do you think our transformation, like a butterfly or moth’s, ends upon adulthood?

No, with possible exception of some very sad and unlucky people.

CA: Are you exploring this theme in any of your other works?

Yes, probably always, one way or another.

CA: “Sandhill” is also a tale of being one with nature, whether animals or the environment. Where do you feel humankind is in this respect? Do we need to pay more attention to nature or do we, as individuals, manage it as best we can in a modern world?

animals, environment, fantasy, myth, Tesseracts 17, Canadian writers

Elise Moser explores transformation and environment in “Sandhill.”

I gave part of my answer to this question above, but I will add here that I don’t believe we are managing very well at all; on the contrary, our “managing” is disastrous. We need to pay more attention to nature — our nature, the natures of others, the nature of reality, of power, of suffering, of respect and of compassion.

CA: What other projects do you have in the works?

In September my YA novel, Lily and Taylor, which is about a transformation of a different kind, was published, and I have been busy launching and publicizing that. I have written the first draft of a play adapted from “Sand Hill.” And I am developing another project which isn’t ripe enough to pick yet.

Elise Moser has published short stories in journals and anthologies, and coedited two anthologies. Her novel Because I Have Loved and Hidden It came out from Cormorant Books in 2009. She was founding literary editor of Montreal online arts and culture magazine The Rover, and was president of the Quebec Writers’ Federation for three years. Her YA novel Lily and Taylor appeared in 2013 from Groundwood Books, just before her story “Sand Hill” hatched in Tesseracts 17.

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Rhea Rose

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out this fall with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

Another BC author, Rhea Rose’s story “The Wall” graces the pages of Tesseracts 17. It is a disturbing tale of love, obsession and loss.

CA: Rhea, your story “The Wall”  is a classic descent-into-madness story, or is it?

I think you can definitely describe this story as a classic descent-into-madness tale.  It’s also a horror story. When I wrote it I was playing with both those aspects of storytelling, madness and horror. I asked myself, “Is she crazy” or “Is this really happening?” I decided at some point that the “Wall” needed to be more concrete, more of a real creature rather than an imagining on the part of the main character. At that point, when I made the wall more of a creepy little character, was when the story turned from a one-dimensional descent- into- madness story to a more multidimensional  horror tale, as well.

CA: The disturbing imagery both draws the reader in and repulses at the same time. What made you explore such a strange world, and have you ever seen the Wall?

Nope.  I’ve never seen the Wall, and I hope I never do, except perhaps in the movie version!  When I’m trying to write something scary, I ask myself what are the things that disturb me, and when I figure out what those are, I try to put at least three of them into a story.  In this case I wanted to play with the fear of being a mother, the pressures of being responsible for a baby, combined with a fear – the Wall – of something you can’t get rid of, or control.

CA: What do you think it is about madness that fascinates people?

Rhea Rose, Canadian writers, horror, fantasy

Rhea Rose taps into the vein of madness in her tale. If you’re at VCon this weekend, look for Rhea.

Hmm,  madness goes hand in hand with creativity and a connection with genius, so madness can be the negative extreme of both those conditions. The mad scientist is a genius with wondrous creations that are also destructive. The mad woman may have moments of lucidity when wisdom issues forth, losing control of paradigm is terrifying and exhilarating, a kind of madness.  Of course real madness, as in the case of diagnosed schizophrenia is just plain terrifying.

CA: Have you dealt with this theme in other pieces of your work?

Only in a meta sense.  Descent into story writing is a form of controlled madness, but I can’t think of another story I’ve written that deals with any form of “crazy.” It’s a difficult place to live in even for a short time, which is what you have to do when you’re writing the story. Generally, my characters are trying to deal with the madness that others have foisted on them.

CA: Many of your stories have involved children from their POV. In this case, the child is both peripheral and integral to this piece. Are you done exploring tales which put children into strange dilemmas?

I doubt I am done with children in strange dilemmas, as you say.  That seems to be my psyche’s theme, but I do consciously work to move away from those stories, although if a really good one pops into my head I won’t hesitate to write it down.  I find children’s responses to the world both fascinating and frightening. It’s such a scary ordeal to have to figure out how the world works when you can’t yet read the instructions.

Rhea is a Vancouver, BC writer and a teacher. She’s a graduate of UBC’s Creative Writing program and a Clarion writer. Most of her work has been published north of the 49th parallel. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in the Tesseracts anthologies. Many of her pieces have been nominated for awards, including the Rhysling award for poetry, and a nomination for an Aurora award. There were a couple of preliminary nominations for Nebula award nominations. A short story of hers appeared in a David Hartwell’s, Christmas Forever anthology. TaleBones has published a short story and poem. Rhea’s Big Foot story (not her foot) was published in NorthWest Passages: A Cascadian Anthology, and a horror tale made it into Tesseracts 10 from EDGE Press, which received honorable mention in  BHOTY, as did her latest story in the first Evolve anthology.  Look for her most recent poetry at Chizine. http://www.chizine.com/authors/davidclink.  All of these stories and many of her poems can be found in her collection, Pandora’s Progeny, at Amazon.  Her latest works appear in Masked Mosaic, Dead North and Tesseracts 17.

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The Devil Reads Prada

Prada, fashion, writing contest, Prada fiction contest, taking moral rights, devil, satan

This is a tarot card, but maybe the devil is saying, if you don’t wear Prada, you wear nothing.

You know the movie, the one where sweet Anne Hathaway is sucked into the world of high snobbery and is Meryl Streep’s minion at a fashion magazine. The world where it’s backstabbing and anorexia but somewhere in amongst the fashionistas true wuv takes root? Yeah that one.

Well, besides making clothing and creating a fashion magazine, it seems Prada really does want to lash out with that forked tail and snare artists of all flavors. They don’t just do magazines and sunglasses and backpacks and clothing and fragrances and boat races. No, they want to capture the creative essence of other artists. “Prada, in keeping with the brand’s innovative spirit, launches a literary contest in cooperation with Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Editore.” They have something called the journal project which includes a writing contest. The crucial statement when considering what to write is: “What are the realities that our eyes give back to us? And how are these realities filtered through lenses?” Obviously they would like to tie it into to their sunglasses line.www.prada.com/journal

As I read the rather long and convoluted contest rules (the English translation is a bit off), I thought €5,000! Well, yes, I will definitely enter that. Oh but wait, should you win the contest then you give up all moral rights, which means your name will stay with the piece but they own it in all forms and media, can print it on clothing or put in books or chop up the sentences and stick them wherever, in perpetuity. You lose all rights to read your story, put it in a collection of your writing or do anything else with it.

writing, Canadian anthology, Steve Vernon, Colleen Anderson, Tesseracts 17, Edge Publications

Get writing but don’t sell your soul.

That’s not the true deal with the devil though it gets close. As I read on it turns out that while there would only be one monetary winner Prada reserves the right to create other categories and choose winners on the spot. But those winners receive no prize and lose all rights to their stories as well. This pretty much amounts to theft even if they have you acknowledge you’re selling your soul to the devil but don’t get anything out of it except perhaps some bit of elusive fame. Or perhaps we should just call this exploitation. It’s not like Prada is hurting for money.

To make sure it just wasn’t some misinterpretation that happened in the translation, I wrote to Prada.

Dear Madam,

The winners of the Contest, if any, will receive the amount of Euro 5.000, while the winner of the thematic prizes, if established by Prada and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (it is not sure that such thematic prizes will be established), will not receive this amount. But in both such events the authorship of the short stories will remain with the winners in accordance with the applicable law in the copyright field.

In fact, PRADA and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli shall have the right to use the short stories as per the provisions of the “T&C” of the Contest and on the basis of the rights granted by the winners to Prada and Feltrinelli  as specified in such “T&C “: “(the Winner) he/she grants exclusively to PRADA and Feltrinelli any and all right to use, reproduce, publish, edit, distribute and divulge the selected Short Story(ies), on its(their) own, in full or in part, or in a collection book, at PRADA and Feltrinelli’s discretion in perpetuity and at a worldwide level for any uses either commercial or promotional, in any language or version, and in any print and/or digital and/or multimedia materials and media, including Internet, now known or hereafter invented. Moreover, You acknowledge and agree that PRADA and Feltrinelli will be entitled to edit and to adapt the Short Story(ies) at its(their) sole discretion and to reproduce the very same in its(their) edited and/or adapted version in any print and/or digital material and/or multimedia materials and media, including Internet, and for whatsoever purposes to the extend permitted by law”.

Should you have any further query, please do not hesitate to contact us.

My advice would be to save your soul, and your writing and not enter the contest on the off chance you’ll get the grand prize. The devil, you know, is in the details.

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Women in Horror: Sandra Wickham

Women in Horror Month is over but I’m still featuring Canadian writers. Today’s author is Sandra Wickham whose short stories have appeared in Evolve: Vampires of the New Undead, Evolve: Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the OrderCrossed Genres magazine and in the upcoming Urban Green Man anthology.  She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks, is the Fitness Nerd columnist for the Functional Nerds and reads slush for Lightspeed Magazine. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training.

vampires, dark fiction, dark fantasy, horror, Canadian authors, female writers

Sandra Wickham likes her dark fiction with bite.

SANDRA WICKHAM

1.     Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I didn’t set out to write horror but for some reason the best things I write come out as dark and often horrible. Even with all of our knowledge and technology there are still many things we fear, including the darkness that resides within all of us and I can’t help wanting to explore those shadowy places. I also write fantasy and often go to the other end of the spectrum with light, humourous stories.

2.     What dark themes do you explore?

Fear of the unknown, including things we can’t explain, as well as the loss of loved ones. I tend to write the underdog, perhaps stemming from being a petite woman in a world that still favors aggression and strength.

3.    Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

It is an important genre for us as writers and readers to deal with the things that frighten us. We know a lot about our world these days, but there are still things that are unknown or unexplainable that we are afraid of and they’re worth exploring. (not to mention loads of fun)

Early on I was heavily inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short stories and of course, Stephen King. More recently, I’m inspired by the darker urban fantasy writers who manage to combine frightening gore with humor. There’s nothing like being scared out of our wits while laughing hysterically.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)human rights, womens rights, writing, horror,

Women are underrepresented across the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The old school boys club still rules the roost.  I have to believe that with so many talented female writers currently producing amazing work, this will begin to shift.

5.     Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

rape, womens rights, abuse, sexual abuse, horrorI think the internet has been a useful tool in bringing these issues to light, in bringing awareness to the plight of women all over the world. We’re no longer in an era of hiding these awful things in the dark or turning a blind eye to it. It’s going to take more women and men standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves to make a significant change.

6.     Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Thank you for highlighting Women in Horror and giving us a chance to spread the fear, I mean, love.  🙂

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Writing: Speculative Fiction Tropes

writing, anthologies, speculative fiction, Edge Publishing, short stories

From Tesseracts 15, Edge Publications.

Steve Vernon and I have started reading some of the submissions for Tesseracts 17. This is a yearly anthology of speculative fiction, usually by Canadians, those living in Canada and expats. The theme this year is “Speculations: From Coast to Coast to Coast.” We’re trying to highlight fiction and poetry from all provinces and territories, but quality will be the prime criteria.

Another thing to mention: Know, and I mean really know (don’t just presume you know) what proper manuscript format is. It’s not single spaced, it’s not a block of text with no indents, it’s not tabbing across the page instead of hitting “Enter” to move to a new paragraph, it’s not using the space bar instead of the Tab key, it’s not justifying both sides, it’s not using bizarre fonts. We haven’t received all these errors yet, but we have received most of them. If you’re not sure what proper manuscript format is, go to William Shunn’s Proper Manuscript Format for short stories. You can’t go wrong if you do this.

As in many genres of writing, speculative fiction has some popular tropes. If you write something in a familiar trope (a common or overused device), then you have to make sure it has a unique twist or that the language sings. We’re at the beginning of the submission window so stories are only trickling in right now, but here are a few tropes I’ve seen here and at other times when editing.This isn’t saying they’re bad, but if you’re writing a story that hits any of the ones I’m about to mention, make sure they’re really good and have something new to tell.

  • vampires–yes they have been done to death (haha!), and I’ve done a few myself so what is new about this version?
    tropes, fiction, writing, publishing, hero's journey, good vs evil

    Luke, I am your trope. Star Wars is a classic good vs evil but it’s more than that.

  • the underdog wins the day–it doesn’t matter if it’s Jack and the Beanstalk, the geeky computer nerd, the scrawny barbarian or an actual dog; it better be good and/or truly funny (and humor isn’t easy to write).
  • transformations–I was a human and turned into something else, I was something else and became human. Sometimes the metamorphosis is fascinating but it’s not the full story. I’ve written a few of these myself. The outer conflict is what the body goes through; the inner conflict is the psyche and these tales need both. How does a transformation change the protagonist and the world?
  • ghost story–the dead haunt us in different ways or commune among themselves. What’s new with your spook?
  • visiting your past/future–whether it’s time travel, a shamanic journey or body transferral, you better be doing more than just avoiding yourself so you don’t cancel you.
  • Eureka! I’ve discovered/invented it–Is the discovery the main story or should it be a tale of what happened after it was used?
  • the secret garden/the world beyond–whether you (you, meaning the character) create it, find it or can’t get back to it, how does it impact on you and your world beyond Alice in Wonderland?
  • the magic being–whether a genie, an angel, the devil you know or the robot you don’t, it’s not about their difference so much as it is about you react to them and integrate or destroy them.
  • descent into madness–is it Dante’s inferno, or just your sick twisted mind? Maybe we’ll never know but it better be entertaining.
  • the quest or journey–hi ho, hi ho it’s adventuring we go.
  • the altered world–something in the character’s world has changed. Do they survive, adapt or be consumed?
short fiction, collection, Embers Amongst the Fallen, speculative fiction, reprints

Embers Amongst the Fallen will be out in print by the end of October.

I’m sure other tropes will come to mind but that’s all I can think of now. However the thing to note is that it’s not bad to use a trope. It’s better to use it consciously so that you can make sure you manipulate it away from a tales that’s been done too often. Here’s another: good triumphs over evil. This is almost a primal human hope and we like stories that uplift, but the world isn’t so cut and dried and stories with nuances can be more enlightening, thought-provoking and entertaining.

I’d like to see some stories come in that take place in the past or far future, on a different world, have a different culture, in a time other than now or medieval, steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. We’ve received a few but I’m hoping for true diversity

Just to compare, my reprint collection Embers Amongst the Fallen, which has 14 reprinted stories and two new ones breaks down into the following statistics (of course some of the tales could fit in more than one category):

  • four vampire tales (the future, an alternate world, the past, and in India)
  • five tales of transformation (which was part of the original title)
  • four magic beings
  • one journey
  • two altered worlds

I’d be interested to see how others would categorize my tales. Sometimes a tale can be a journey and a transformation in an altered world, but which trope influences the story the most?

Here’s a bonus, also on tropes. One Thousand and One Parsecs

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Writing Update: The Collection Progresses

I have actually been too busy to write here but I thought I’d toss in an update on what’s been transpiring.

Deadline for voting in the Aurora Awards closes on Monday, July 23 so if you’re Canadian and would like to vote you can go here. There is also a voters package that contains the works being nominated. Since you pay $10 to vote (unless you already paid to nominate), then you can consider it a purchase of several novels, short, stories, art works and poems. My poem “A Good Catch” is nominated in the poetry category and the awards will be given in Calgary at the When Words Collide convention, which I will be at.

I have a week left to finish my story for Masked Mosaic. It’s been a bit of a struggle so I’m not sure how successful I’ll be. But mostly my time has been taken with formatting and getting my collection of stories ready for putting on Smashwords, for ereaders and then for print. If you’re interested in a print copy, send me a message and I’ll let you know when it’s ready and the cost.

The collection will be called “Embers Amongst the Fallen” and will include sixteen stories, two of them new. Wayne Allen Sallee has written a lovely blurb:

“Anderson is an enigma. Many of her stories evoke the tense subtleties of Shirley Jackson, but then I go on to another story and it breathes of Richard Matheson or the late Ray Bradbury. Few people can pull off the whipsaw of terror to wonder and back, but Colleen makes it way past easy.”

Wayne is a “5 time finalist-Stoker Award-First Novel, Collection, Novella, Novelette, Short Story.” East Coast, dark fiction writer Steve Vernon is writing an introduction for the collection as well so I feel very honored that these people, along with Sandra Kasturi of CZP who proofread it, have agreed to be part of it.

Polu Texni has bought another poem, “Mermaid,” which is written in the style of a villanelle. I’m not sure when it will be up on the site. Now, on to the process of self-producing a book.

books, publishing, collection, reprints, ebooks, Smashwords, writing, book production

Creative Commons: Ninha Morandini

Smashwords is for ereaders and once you have your book formatted they will make it readable for different readers and send out a catalog. You have to meet their formatting guidelines and produce a cover. I have a friend working on one right now. There is a giant book that can be downloaded for free that is the Smashwords style guide. Interestingly enough, it has formatting issues in rtf, but is okay in PDF. It’s written for those who are not even that familiar with using Word. I’m pretty much an expert (though the stupid Office/Word 2007 sucks big time and annoys the hell out of me) so I’m finding the book a bit tedious in some sections. I have to glean through though because some information is buried and some not so clear.

I have got rid of most of the marks and spaces that they require but I also have one story with footnotes and I still have to determine how to make sure those show correctly. I’m presuming once I get to the submission part that I’ll get to review before it goes to the vetters (they send it back if  there are formatting errors). It’s that part that could slow down my release date of Aug. 1.  I’m more than half way through the formatting and just waiting for the intro (and to complete my acknowledgements) so I hope by this weekend I’ll only be dealing with getting the cover art finalized.

It’s been an interesting process and I’ve been working on a few erotic stories to put up as well. Formatting one story is much easier than the book but I’m learning some things when doing this. Stay tuned for the release of my first collection.


			

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Writing: British Fantasy Awards & Stuff

I’m listing the recent announcement of shortlisted works for the British Fantasy Awards. I am not nominated but the anthology Cone Zero that my story “The Fathomless World” is in, has been. But then, none of the stories from the anthology have been nominated so I wonder if that bodes ill for the anthology winning the award.

Of course, for me it would have been better if my story was nominate but that’s okay. And it’s too bad that some of the reviews really just recapped the book and my story didn’t make much of a splash. Pooh. I liked it but perhaps the most informative review was a very late, after the fact one, where the reviewer decided to leave his notes as haiku, partly because it was so late. The one which I’m sure was for “The Fathomless World” said something like, “more style than substance.”  That would be the middle line of the haiku if you count “style as a two-syllable word.

So it goes. I thought it had substance but I also did it in a mythic style. I continue to send works out and work on new ones. Unfortunately the whole economic crisis has affected story markets to the point that I’m thinking I should just be working on my novel and skip the stories right now. For speculative fiction, whether horror, fantasy, science fiction or other, there are not a lot of markets to submit to right now. Some have gone the way of the dodo, while the majority of the pro markets (those that pay five cents a word or more) are closed to submissions or on hiatus. A sad state indeed.

And it’s always been a sad state that the pay for speculative fiction has been so low. Definitely not a make-a-living type of wage. Literary markets as a whole tend to pay somewhat better but many of them also pay the equivalent of $100 a story, which many anthologies do. Some literary markets pay anywhere from $15-40 a printed page, which again could work out to the same amount.

Why do we write then? For fame? Partly, though that’s a long hard road. Hardly for fortune. And maybe most of all, because we love words and our minds just keep filling with them and we want to tell a story and share in the mysteries of what-if. And not onto the shortlisted works for the British Fantasy Award.

BEST ANTHOLOGY

    Cone Zero(DF Lewis) Megazanthus Press
    Myth-Understandings (Ian Whates) Newcon Press
    Subtle Edens (Allen Ashley) Elastic Press
    The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 19 (Stephen Jones) Constable & Robinson
    The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror(Ian Alexander Martin) Humdrumming
    We Fade To Grey(Gary McMahon) Pendragon Press

BEST NOVEL (THE AUGUST DERLETH FANTASY AWARD)

    Memoirs of a Master Forger(William Heaney/Graham Joyce) Gollancz
    Midnight Man (Simon Clark) Severn House
    Rain Dogs(Gary McMahon) Humdrumming
    The Graveyard Book(Neil Gaiman) Bloomsbury
    The Victoria Vanishes (Christopher Fowler) Little Brown
    Thieving Fear (Ramsey Campbell) PS Publishing

THE PS PUBLISHING BEST SMALL PRESS AWARD

    Elastic Press (Andrew Hook)
    Newcon Press (Ian Whates)
    Pendragon Press (Chris Teague)
    Screaming Dreams (Steve Upham)
    TTA Press (Andy Cox)

BEST COLLECTION

    Bull Running for Girls (Allyson Bird) Screaming Dreams
    Glyphotech(Mark Samuels) PS Publishing
    How To Make Monsters(Gary McMahon) Morrigan Books
    Islington Crocodiles(Paul Meloy) TTA Press
    Just After Sunset(Stephen King) Hodder & Stoughton

BEST NOVELLA

    “Cold Stone Calling” (Simon Clark) Tasmaniac Publications
    “Gunpowder” (Joe Hill) PS Publishing
    “Heads” (Gary McMahon) We Fade To Grey, Ed. Gary McMahon – Pendragon Press
    “The Narrows” (Simon Bestwick) We Fade To Grey, Ed. Gary McMahon – Pendragon Press
    “The Reach of Children” (Tim Lebbon) Humdrumming

BEST SHORT FICTION

    “All Mouth” (Paul Meloy) Black Static 6, Ed. Andy Cox – TTA Press
    “Do You See” (Sarah Pinborough) Myth-Understandings, Ed. Ian Whates – Newcon Press
    “N” (Stephen King) Just After Sunset – Hodder & Stoughton
    “Pinholes in Black Muslin” (Simon Strantzas) The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror, Ed. Ian Alexander Martin – Humdrumming
    “The Caul Bearer” (Allyson Bird) Bull Running For Girls – Screaming Dreams
    “The Tobacconist’s Concession” (John Travis) The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror, Ed. Ian Alexander Martin – Humdrumming
    “The Vague” (Paul Meloy) Islington Crocodiles, TTA Press
    “Winter Journey” (Joel Lane) Black Static 5, Ed. Andy Cox – TTA Press

BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL

    30 Days of Night: Beyond Barrow(Steve Niles/Bill Sienkiewicz) IDW Publishing
    All-Star Superman(Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely) DC Comics
    Buffy Season Eight Vol. 3: Wolves at the Gate(Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard/ Georges Jeanty) Dark Horse Comics
    Comic Book Tattoo Tales Inspired by Tori Amos(Ed, Rantz A. Hoseley & Tori Amos/ Various) Image Comics
    Hellblazer: Fear Machine (Jamie Delano) Vertigo
    Hellblazer: The Laughing Magician(Andy Diggle/Leonardo Manco & Daniel Zezelj) Vertigo
    Locke and Key(Joe Hill/Gabriel Rodriguez) IDW Publishing
    The Girly Comic Book 1 (Ed, Selina Lock) Factor Fiction
    The New Avengers: Illuminati(Brian Bendis & Brian Reed/Jim Cheung) Marvel Comics

BEST ARTIST

    Dave McKean (The Graveyard Book) Bloomsbury
    Edward Miller (Vault of Deeds) PS Publishing
    Lee Thompson (The Land at the End of the Working Day) Humdrumming
    Les Edwards (Various)
    Vincent Chong (Various)

BEST NON-FICTION

    Basil Copper: A Life in Books (Basil Copper, Ed, Stephen Jones) PS Publishing
    Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale (Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook) BBC Books
    journal.neilgaiman.com (Neil Gaiman)
    Mutant Popcorn(Nick Lowe) Interzone – TTA Press
    What Is It We Do When We Read Science Fiction(Paul Kincaid) Beccon Publications

BEST MAGAZINE

    Black Static(Andy Cox) TTA Press
    Interzone(Andy Cox et. al.) TTA Press
    Midnight Street(Trevor Denyer)
    Postscripts(Peter Crowther & Nick Gevers) PS Publishing
    SFX (Dave Bradley) Future Publishing Limited

BEST TELEVISON

    Battlestar Galactica (NBC)
    Dead Set(Zeppotron/Channel 4)
    Dexter (Clyde Phillips Productions)
    Doctor Who (BBC Wales)
    Supernatural (Warner Bros TV)

BEST FILM

    Cloverfield (Matt Reeves)
    Iron Man(Jon Favreau)
    The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan)
    The Mist(Frank Darabont)
    The Orphanage(Juan Antonio Bayona)
    (With thanks to SFWA for supplying the list.)

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Writing: The Process

The writing process is a different beast for every writer. There are those that have a set time every day and write within that time. How I envy them. Me, I abhor schedules at the best of time, which is also my bane. This blog is about as regular as I get. It’s one aspect of the “write every day” rule. The writing process can also be different for every story.

Some stories nearly write themselves in a few days. Some are long struggles. Often the ones I think are going to be easiest (such as writing a fairy tale) turn out to be the worst for getting the idea flowing. Some stories take forever for different reasons. “A Kind Hand,” which I finished last year and is fantasy, took me about eight years to write. I would work on it in fits and starts and stop again. It slowly progressed with a lot of agonizing along the way. And every time I went to work on it, I had to read it again and then try to match the voice I had started in. I also quite like the way I was writing it and didn’t want to ruin it.

In this case I knew the ending because it’s based off of a particular tale about the Germanic hearth goddess Berchta. But in between the ending and the beginning I needed a flow of events that raised the tension. Like many fairy tales, the original tale was fairly bare bones and short, jumping to the one climax. I needed to put flesh on those bones. I got closer and closer to finishing and finally last year worked out the full story. I think I sent it out once but in the meantime also had a friend read it. His comments included that there needed to be more tension so I made the character a bit scarier, upped the ante at the end and sent it to Shroud, and it sold.

My longest running story ever, from start to finish is “Awaking Pandora,” which I’m working on right now. It’s science fiction, which I don’t write as often. I started it about fifteen plus years ago, while visiting a friend in New York. I was struck by all the barges and the prison barge around Manhattan. So I started the story and began writing and writing and realized, if I wasn’t careful, it was going to become a novel. But I didn’t want a novel. I knew it was still going to be a long story.

With this story the problem was that I really didn’t have a finally resolution. I had a conflict, conflicts in fact, but I didn’t know how to solve them. So it sat as I ruminated. I’d pull it out once in a while, read the whole thing, rewrote a bit what I’d started and then let it sit. I discussed it with a friend or two, trying to find an ending. Then, a year ago, there was an anthology looking for novelettes, stories between 10-20,000 words in this case. I tried to finish it but just couldn’t get there. I did finally finish the first draft last year.

Now, again there are two anthology markets that this story could fit into but I’m running out of time on the first. I’ve spent the last month writing and rewriting, taking the comments of two friends. The story was running at 9800 words and is down to 8600 but one market has a limit of 6,000. I’ve looked at it so often, changing word, changing sentences, deleting some, moving some up, some down, expanding and changing.

I’ve changed, more refined, the ending twice and it’s not quite there. I passed it by a third friend last night who said she just couldn’t chop some out as it would take rewriting to remove some aspects and make it shorter (partly because I’ve already removed extraneous words and removing more means redoing the flow). Again, I think this is a good story and I like my characters though I already cut the extraneous ones as too many for a shortish story. I have this weekend to make the thing work as I have to mail it latest by Monday.

It’s a long process, agonizing over a word, a line, a paragraph, a character. Then the conflict; is it enough, does it need to be earlier? This story has been easy for getting description and mood in, and characterization was fairly effortless, but plot. Yikes. Well, I’m back to the writing board and the true test is whether I’ll sell it or not. One last shot at getting the plot right and trying to cut out another 2,000 words and away it will go.

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Writing: Rannu Fund Fiction & Poetry Winners

donjuan-cover-72

To the right is the cover of Don Juan & Men, which is due out in June with my story, “The Boy Who Bled Rubies.” It is obviously a book with tales about the homo-erotic natures of men. I believe all the stories have a fantasy aspect, and mind definitely does.

As well, another story that also revolves around some taboo sex, “An Ember Amongst the Fallen” has been accepted by Nancy Kilpatrick for Evolve, a vampire anthology (of modern vampires, hence the title) due to debut in Brighton, England next year at the World Horror Convention.

And then, I entered the Rannu fund for poetry and fiction. I did not win, alas, nor get an honorable mention but received a note, I suppose. Here are the results of the winners, post by Sandra Kasturi, one of the patrons of the fund. Now I just need to sell my story, “Shoes.”

**Please note that all judging was done blind; names, bios, e-mails, etc. were all stripped from the entries.**

Fiction Winners (tie):
“Hell Friend” by Gemma Files
“As Promised” by Nick Stokes

Fiction Honourable Mentions:
“God’s Gift to the Natives: Flight” by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
“Crossroads and Gateways” by Helen Marshall

Fiction Judges: Robert Boyczuk, Candas Jane Dorsey, Sandra Kasturi

Poetry Winner:
“Visitation” by Kim Goldberg

Poetry Honourable Mentions:
“Book of Sloth” by Jacques Benoit
“The Gypsy” by Helen Marshall

Poetry Judges: David Livingstone Clink, Mildred Tremblay, Sandra Kasturi

We would also like to note the entries that made it onto one or more judges’ shortlists:

Fiction:
“Shoes” by Colleen Anderson
“Pearls Before Swine” by Don Bassingthwaite
“No Cages” by Kevin Nunn
“Natalie Touches Upon the World” by Ivan Faute

Poetry:
Jacques Benoit’s “Slow Day in Tabloidland”
Robert Borski’s “Neosaur,” “Frog Prince,” and “All the Clocks of Hell”
Gemma Files’ “Tantalus, Reaching Upwards” and “Jar of Salts”
Kim Goldberg’s “Inner Sanctum” and “Green Thumb”
Sidharth Gopinath’s “Watcher”
Riina Kindlam’s “Vulnerable, with a Pinch of Salt”
Helen Marshall’s “Howling,” “The Oak Girl,” “The Queen of the Cats,” and “Pan”

Thank you all for participating in this competition, and I hope you will all enter again next year–check the website for details in the fall. And thank you again for your patience as the judges got through the entries. (And thanks again to the judges!!)

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