Thursday, July 29, 2010

Parsec Awards Finalists 2010

This year's Parsecs shortlist is out! The Parsec Awards, awarded at Dragon*Con, are a "Celebration of Speculative Fiction Podcasting".

There are two (TWO!) audio dramas nominated that I have been involved in as a VA, both in the Best Speculative Fiction Long Form Audio Drama division.

The first one is "Sides", written by Mike Murphy, a BrokenSea Audio Production under their "Twilight Theatre" banner. In it I play a secretive operative called "Sackett". Neehaw Guerillas!

The second is "The Byron Chronicles", produced by Darker Projects. I've played a variety of characters in Byron over the years, and most recently I played a psychotic zombie intent on face eating. Nommy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Week in Revelling in Rejection 28/07/2010

This week's update is short n' sweet.

"Anthropology, Redacted" made the quarter finals of the EscapePod flash competition. It placed third equal in it's quarter final and the editors had to make the call on which one would go through. Not me *wry grin*. Ah well. I've already revisited it, and submitted it elsewhere.

"SEP" bombed out of it's heat. I've chucked it on the scrap heap. Even I can recognize when something isn't very good and needs a complete start over.

I'm waiting on a reply on another submission from elsewhere...well, the magazine's turnaround did state "30 days or less", and it's been more than that. Yeah, yeah...I'm impatient, I'm terrible, I'll suck it up. It's either one of three things: their slush pile is way massive; my email got lost in a spam filter; or they've fallen to their knees to worship my brilliance. I'm going with massive slush pile.

I have two other pieces I'm on the cusp of submitting. I want to sit on them for a few more days, so I'm happy with their polish.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Week in Linkage 27/07/2010

  • Dee from "Just a Girl, lost in Azeroth" examines female body image in World of Warcraft with "The Female Horde". It's an excellent exploration of what game designers have done right with female character design. This is something I've thought about for a while in relation to Guild Wars, and I might explore this further as pertains to my female GW characters. (via @cnstoker)
  • I'm a massive fan of Michael Whelan, and I'm excited to see him return to cover art ( There was a time I would choose a book because he did the art, and it's how I discovered Melanie Rawn and Tad Williams.
  • Lisa Shearin at The Magic District blogs about "You Gotta Want It Bad" in her "5 Things I've Learned About Writing". Oh yeah, I want it bad want your bad romance... (via SFSignal)
  • Jim C Hines continues talking about rape in "False Rape Reports", their rarity, and they harm they perpetuate on getting justice for rape victims. Once again, thanks Jim. (via @jimchines)
  • Editormum has a list of open sf/f/h short story markets in Australia. Very useful! (via @tansyrr)
  • Mad World - No Girls Allowed: File Sharing Culture and BitTorrent. A video at Bitch Magazine discussed why geek girls are blocked from full participation in technology and file sharing. Hell to the yeah am I sick of looking at titty and fat shaming advertising when I try to do my geek life! (via @cnstoker)
  • ETA: Just discovered this one though call for submissions have been on since the start of the year...yeah yeah, I know, I'm still navigating all the markets that are open to me. Realms of Fantasy are doing a Women In Fantasy special issue, open to women writers only, submissions close November 15th. I better get planning!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ramblings from Pickled Mansion, fueled by caffeine.

I haven't written a blog post in the last week, because things have been on the quiet and steady front, writing wise.

I didn't feel up to writing a frontal assault on anything particularly nasty in the media lately, because I've been feeling emotionally burned out from debating the abortion and rape focus of the last couple of weeks. Couple that with negotiating the emotional mine-field of watching "Precious" (it is a fantastic movie, really challenging of privilege of what you may know about abuse and racism), and my ability to form coherent words was caput. So I've let it wash over me the last few days and waited for equilibrium to re-establish.

I really envy people who can blog about our screwed up world through a mist of red. Usually when I'm angry and attempt to write, it comes out as such: "That #$(*&$ing thing...that just happened...(*&$#&!...and things....and umm yeah something...#^&#$ Manda wanna hulk smash...change wurld nao!". Cripes, even @feministhulk is more coherent than I am when hulk smashing...

Back in Science Fiction Writer-ville, two things have become easier - the process and admitting I'm a writer. Applying butt to seat is very enjoyable, I wish I could do it full time and get paid for this, but I think that's a looooong way off. It's so enjoyable, it doesn't feel like work. I'm sure I'm looking at it as a starry-eyed noob, and there's much of the publishing industry I'm yet to be exposed to (including the nasty bits), but I'd hate to lose this cool feeling.

Admitting I'm a writer has flowed much easier since I've decided to "own my identity" as a writer. I've felt much more comfortable talking about what I've been doing, and talking up my near miss rejections. "It's only a matter of time" has become a standard phrase, and it's a nice boost to my ego. If I say it enough, I believe it.

The nuts n bolts of what I've been writing:
I'm prepping a piece which I'm really pleased with for entering into the Redstone's "Towards and Accessible Futures" competition - even if it doesn't succeed in the competition, I feel I've got a nice mix of space opera, sympathetic protag and romance going on that I could sell it anywhere. I even had it suggested to me that it could expand into a novel. So, I'm gonna let this world simmer in the back of my head for a while.

I also have designs on attempting to submit to Asimov's (GULP). I've been holding off from submitting there because...well...I'm shit scared. I couldn't say whether any of my stories are up to Asimov's standards, but *I* believe in them. I'll have to rattle my recalcitrance to choose a piece to submit there and tidy it up. I *think* I might try sending in the novelette I was pleased with myself over a couple weeks back.

I haven't been using Kiwi Writers as much as I should (for support, inspiration), but I saw their the "July Zing Thing" posted and a big wallop of inspiration hit me. I've struggled a bit with placing my Sci Fi in NZ, but this gave me a full formed scene in my head on the top of Mount Victoria. Not sure if I'll knock it off this weekend (because of dinner and dungeon engagements), but if nothing else it's given me inspiration.

Annnnd....I guess that means it's time for kittenz....

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Week in Linkage 16/07/2010

Been doing a lot of reading round the traps this week on the craft of writing. I also love discovering new authors via their blogs! If they blog about a subject I have an interest in, it makes me want to check out their fiction writing.

  • I discovered Dean Wesley Smith's "Killing The Sacred Cows of Publishing". I first came to the series this week with "Writers need to be taken care of", a no nonsense look at not letting yourself be taken advantage of by agents and publishers. DWS is the husband of Kristine Kathryn Rusch who writes the very useful "Freelancer's Survival Guide". These two make a great writing craft tag team! (via @KristineRusch)

  • Juliette Wade at TalkToYoUniverse writes about owning your identity as a writer in "Becoming 'A Writer'". This piece really spoke to me because I've only just started experimenting with finding my identity by admitting I'm a writer and blogging. It's an odd experience, like changing your career or a huge part of your personality. (via SFSignal)

  • Juliette also blogs about creating an "interview" for character creation purposes in "Getting to know your character inside and out". A useful tool, if you're the sort of writer who prep is important to. At this stage, I let my characters fall out on the page and I clean up their idiosyncracies in editing. This may change if I ever get to starting The Novel and I need to start making better notes.

  • Rachelle Gardener at "Rants and Ramblings On Life as a Literary Agent" has a tip which looks incredibly useful, which I can start doing now - "Keeping Track of Details" outlines how to start using an editorial style sheet. (via SFSignal)

  • More on editing. Steve Harper Pizik's "Edit Smackdown" pits writer versus editor in a battle of the red pencil. (at Book View Cafe)

  • Nalo Hopkinson's "About Writing" is a comprehensive list of tropes and mis-steps often seen in fiction writing (via @CatRambo). There are many lists like this for writers, sometimes even available through their submission guidelines. For example, one of the first lists I ever came across was at Strange Horizons, with "Stories we've seen too often".

  • And for something a bit different, Mike Brotherton takes on mixing critique of a story with critique of the writer in "The Issue of Separating Writer from Story". I agree that it's problematic to conflate a story's issue to the intentions of a writer if those original intentions were good, but this issue deserves deeper introspection. Especially, in the perspective the good art someone makes should not give a pass for their awful personal views (eg: Polanski, Ellison). Also on the flip side, what about that writer who writes/creates something contentious AND holds that world view, but it still gets a pass because it's "art" or because of the writer's privilege? (via SFSignal)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On: Quality Control

This week's hard learned lesson is about proof reading.

I've always made Spell Check my best friend; I've been exceptionally vigorous about making. myself. slow. down. and read carefully. But somehow, mistakes are still slipping through. It's like I get this mental haze going on when I'm invested or excited about prepping a story for submission.

My palm is beginning to get an imprint of my face going on. I feel like a prize ninny when I get a rejection or see something of mine posted and I notice the spelling and grammar mistakes, or the plot holes have trucks driven through them by helpful critiquers.

I know, I know, it's all about learning from your mistakes, but I keep thinking "this is stuff I should have learned twenty years ago". It's a little bruising to the ego to be reminded that even in my thirties I'm still learning. Heck, I've pretty much gone back to school on writing - I'm reminded almost daily what a noob I am at this publishing industry thingy.

But I think it's a good thing that I'm getting reminded often how much I have to learn, and the rigour I must undertake. If I want to be good, if I want to get published, this basic stuff has to become second nature.

I've been reminded from reading various blogs how valuable writing groups are. This is something I've not given much thought to. Sure, I use the OWWSFF for structured critique, but I'm wondering if I need something more. Do I need to find a local writing group? Perhaps I need to find a friend who can act simply as a copy editor for me. That seems a big ask for little return - "Take the red pen to my stuff and I'll pay you in...alcohol and autographs when I'm rich and famous?"

I'm not comfortable with letting anyone particularly close be an editor for me. Letting them read my fiction would be too much like letting them read my diary (if I had one - I abhor them). I need help from those more objective, less invested in keeping my ego at a passable PSI.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On Conventions: I R a Con Noob

I don't know anyone in the New Zealand science fiction community.

Ok, I tell a wee fib. I know ONE person going to Au Contraire at the end of August. My buddy Paul Mannering, the fan Guest of Honour, is running a panel and doing a speech on Internet Audio Drama. I'll be hanging out at Paul's panel, helping him out.

But that's it. My network, because I'm just getting started in this game, is zilch.

In the past, I was so completely uninvested in my writing I didn't even KNOW New Zealand had its own SF&F con, let alone a community. The only time I contemplated going to a New Zealand con was a few years back when Michael Whelan was coming - I chucked the idea because he ended up not attending.

I've dabbled slightly in cons in the last couple of years, for different reasons - I ran a Vampire: The Eternal Struggle game table, helped out IPW (on a very basic level), and attended as a geek fan at Armageddon. But that's it.

Now, I have a different agenda. Previously, I was TERRIFIED at the idea of attending a con. I didn't know ANYONE. I had nothing to contribute. I'm a lousy networker - I have the social skills of a...not very social thing.

A few days ago, I was looking at the preliminary timetable for the Au Contraire weekend, and I started to get excited. Now that I am invested in my writing, there's a lot of fun and interesting panels, talks and people. In fact, there's so much I'm interested in, it's gonna be a juggle!

I'm still terrified - I don't feel I have anything to contribute to the writing community because I'm not yet a published writer. How does one engage in networking, without sounding like some try hard noob? "Uh yeah, I'm a writer, but I haven't had anything published yet, but I've been getting favourable personal rejections and came fourth in a contest...!" Yeah, my mum thinks I'm talented...

Yeah yeah, I know. Believe in myself etc etc.

I'm really not sure at all how to approach anyone, or what about. A while back I pointed out I was Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Type 2" con networker: "The excellent craftsperson who can’t network to save her life." I have to figure out how to engage in the community, maybe make a few new friends and business contacts. I really don't want to ask anything of anyone (yeah, totally gonna rock on up to Cheryl Morgan and demand to know why her Clarkesworld counterparts didn't accept my story...not). I'm just going to absorb. I am a wee sponge.

There's no one I'm going to drop to my knees and worship...but maybe that's a good thing. I'll be meeting these writers and publishing industry people as People first.

If you're going to Au Contraire, this con noob who gets nervous around strangers would appreciate a "Hi, how are ya". Give me a moment, I usually loosen up. I do like to partay, so maybe you'll see me doing my Magenta imitation at the partici...pation Rocky Horror, grooving on the dance floor Friday night, and I'm quite partial to a glass of Jack Daniels.

ETA: To be clear, this is not an invitation for nasty con trolls or scam artists. I am neither some booth babe, hanger on, nor stupid.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Revelling in Rejection 07/07/2010

Rejection strikes again.

"Me Myself I" was rejected by "Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine" after a lengthy (and exciting for a noobie) process. I referred to this one previously - it got through the two step phase of the slush pile, and was waiting on the "right place, right time" spot in the magazine.

So so so close. Take it away, Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown, a round headed cartoon boy with a wrinkled forehead. A thought balloon above his head says: Sigh

The editorial team at ASIM were just lovely. They kept me informed every step of the way with personalized emails. In the end, they gave me a super nice rejection, with very helpful feedback. It was a wonderful, positive experience, and I really appreciate it. Thanks ASIM!

Now, I shall wallow in my little pity party for 30 seconds...

A white girl with brown hair, wearing a yellow coat, is turning her face slightly to one side. She has an exaggerated upset look on her face, her bottom lip poking out

...and then I will get on with re-editing and finding a new market for the story.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On: Time

How's my writing been going? It's goin' good.

The structure of my writing week is working well so far. I have set aside quality writing and editing time, and for once in my life my procrastinating ass is sticking to my timetable.

My next problem to solve is deciding on More Time. How much more time will I give to this "second career" of mine? How much more of my free time do I sacrifice? At what point does the sacrifice become worthwhile? What is the tipping point from quality sacrifice into loosing other quality parts of myself that I like?

Because I'm working full time four days a week, any writing done outside of Writer Mondays will be on my own recognisance - nights and weekends. At the moment writing is huge fun, but my personality is such that if I thrash something I lose interest. So, how to find the balance to get results from my writing (ie: a body of work built up, publication), get better at it, not lose sight of other parts of me, all without devolving into hating what brought me to the dance.

At this point in my life, I have three other major hobbies - reading, crafts and computer games, specifically Guild Wars. My leisure time is extremely important to me - my leisure time keeps me mentally and dexterously stimulated in ways different to work, and also helps me retain my sanity. I do not do bored well.

Next month, I will have been playing Guild Wars for five years. FIVE YEARS. And during those five years I have been pretty hardcore - there have been months where all I ever did, every night, every weekend, was play Guild Wars. And when I wasn't playing, I was planning what I was going to do next (reading Wikis, plotting armour, planning Titles).

It's been great, I love Guild Wars, and it's a testament to the quality of a game that I can still play it five years down the track. But I have recognized that it's sucking my time - my reading has suffered, and worst of all my dedication to crafts has dissipated drastically. I'm very good at my crafts, and I turn out pieces for family milestones and for my own artistic satisfaction. I used to joke that I have a "twenty year waiting list" of projects - now I struggle to even finish milestone pieces on time.

I've been dealing to the amount of time I play Guild Wars lately in small bites: I've got back to reading more lately, and I'm pushing myself as hard as I can to finish priority craft pieces. However, I'm HORRIBLE at pushing myself, and I'm even worse if I'm pushed by outside forces. I am the only one in control of me.

In just her second post in her "Freelancers Survival Guide", Kristine Kathryn Rusch talks about "Priorities". I know I SHOULD dedicate more time to my writing, if I want to make things move along quicker, if writing really is that big a priority to me. To find that time, I need to slice it out of my leisure time. I really resent that, and that resentment is a big hurdle I have to get over. How can I resent anything that is supposed to be for the betterment of me, something I've always wanted, something that makes me happy?

I'm attempting to figure out how much more time I'd like to dedicate (ideally a full time work day, ha! Dream on, win Lotto), but it's not going to be easy with the thought that Guild Wars 2 is in the works - a new shiny that could potentially make me fall right back into old habits.

I don't like structure. I like my freedom. I will work on this.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This Week in Linkage 04/07/2010

  • The 26th Down Under Feminists Carnival is live, coming to you from A Shiny New Coin. If you've never had a wander through the carnival, it's a monthly round up of blog posts from New Zealand and Australia, well worth a cup of tea and some of your time. I'm totally stoked that PT got a mention...twice!
  • Jim C Hines brings it once more, with "Rape and The Police". Thanks for speaking up Jim. The ladies appreciate the support. Jim not only blogs about whatever is on this mind, but also his writing - Jim is a fantasy writer who is currently working on a series about "butt kicking princesses". (via @jimchines)
  • It's a Female Singularity! Annalee Newitz tells us about "Three ways that women are about to change the world" over at i09.
  • Ctrl-F, replace. It sounds like Writing 101, but "Word Repetition and Sundry" as reinforced by Marshall Payne is always worth being reminded of. (via SFSignal)
  • "Dressing Up Like a Girl: Two guys talk about writing the other". Jeremy L.C. Jones and Danny Pelletier come at it from different angles over at BookLife. (via SFSignal)
  • Welcome to Slush Pile Hell, where a "grumpy literary agent wades through query fails". It never ceases to amaze me how people can be so blind to their bad writing...
  • In the last week, I have been reading up a bit on woman and comic geekery. "Wonder Woman in pants is not a feminist win" (from Jezebel) and the subsequent branching debate in comic fandom got me revisiting my long neglected of idea of picking up some comics, so that I have a rudimentry idea of their history. Because of the debate about Wondy's pants (and suddenly realizing her awesome feminist history) I've decided to start investing in the WW back catalog.
  • "How to fight ableism: some easy steps" by jadelennox asks that we go beyond blogging about language or Media Fail, and apply what we know to our work places. I'm on to it! (via Geek Feminism)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

She'z In Mah Brainz: Introducing Courtney Stoker

I spent a delightfully long time yesterday getting acquainted with the blogging of Courtney Stoker. Her blog resides at "From Austin to A&M", and was started as a reactionary to her being a liberal feminist atheist moving to a conservative school.

Most exciting of all, Courtney blogs about geek feminism, and it's like reading a little piece of me. She's all about how women negotiate and survive within male dominated constructs like science fiction and gaming, and she writes in a beautiful, succinct, literate way. I made a comment to someone last night that she has a writing voice which sounds very much like the way I imagine I would have sounded if I had done a PhD in women's and literature studies.