Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, if that's your bag.

Well, have made it through the retail madness - sold books, and books, and a lot of my favourites, which is always nice. Also managed to "deliver" my novella to Keith Stevenson today, not too fond of it at the moment, but now, with some enforced distance ahead, I'm sure I'll be callous enough to cut and cut and make sensible in February. So, huzzah.

Just finished writing the jokes for the Christmas Crackers tomorrow. If any of you know me, well, you'll know how lame they are. They're of the bad pun variety, eg. Why did the Television have fingers? It was digital.

Yes, they're that bad!

Now, have yourself a merry and safe Christmas - if that's what you're into.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Rambling Retale

Christmas for retailers is utterly crazy, draining (a bit like the battle of Helms Deep, but with Christmas Wrap, and less armour) and actually rather nice.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've worked in retail(books) for around 14 years (except last year, when I was pretty much writing full-time) and the thing about Retail (and, in fact, any ostensibly service based industry*) is it tends to knock the edges off you a bit (in a good way). If you can't deal with people, then you really can't cut it over any length of time. You've got to love people or the job just won't work for you, because you see people at their best and worst.

I reckon most** people should work in a shop for a while. It's a very Zen like activity, and if it doesn't increase your sense of empathy, I'm not sure what will. Impatience, judgement, intolerance, even ego, all of it have to be put aside, or you're just going to be miserable. Over the years, I've seen people crumble because of these things. But, if you can let them go, without letting go of your dignity, it can be a very satisfying job.

There's this perception that shop assistants are just idiots, or bored teens. In, books at least, let me say, this just isn't true. I count myself very lucky to have worked with some of the most wonderful people in the book trade. Passionate, personable and patient. They're the best people to pass the time of day with, and they read, and they care about books, and they're bloody funny, and, if they didn't think that bookselling was worthwhile, well, there would be even less of a publishing industry than there is.

So, anyway, as I disappear into the madness that is a retail Christmas, I hope you all have a very wonderful, safe and happy holiday. And, if you work in a shop, well, there's only four more days (and nights) to go.


*and, who, ultimately, doesn't?ok, maybe some CEOs
**Though there are some people who just shouldn't.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mongol

It's been a rather disappointing year of movie watching. But I have to say that I really did enjoy Mongol. If you haven't seen it, and don't mind a bit of blood, I can't recommend it enough. It's a simple story, but a fascinating one, with some really bleak humour and nicely choreographed battle scenes.

It may be my favourite movie of the year - am certainly regretting not seeing it at the cinema.

Novella

I know I keep saying it. But the novella is almost done - one tiny scene to write, a wee bit-o-spit and polish and it's done*.

I really don't have a clue if it's any good, but some of my best writing is in there - I reckon - and the story holds together (if you don't look at it too closely) over its 21,000 words. And I love it and loathe it equally, which is just about how I feel about all my stuff. But I figure self loathing is an important element in any writer's make-up, `cause, geez, if I didn't have that I would have given up ages ago.

Watched the Unforgiven last night. Realized that I had never seen it before, and it wasn't half bad - though it's sound track dates it somewhat, or, maybe I'm just too much of a fan of those early Morricone Western Soundtracks.

Right then, back to the novella.

Oh, and the Bathroom is finished. Last thing was done today - looks pretty swish.






*except, no doubt, for a bit of extensive editing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Long Day

It's been a long day. Starting with writing, and a problem with the plumbing in the bathroom, and ending with an unexpectedly long shift at work, (just got home in fact) the plumbing problem fixed perfectly, and a lovely draught of James Squire Golden Ale (which really is like drinking beery sunshine).

Funny though, it turned out to be one of the best days I've had in a while. That's the way it is with days, they wend and they wind and you never know where they're going to end up.

Got off the city cat in Toowong turned to look at the city and there, hovering over the skyline, was the most spectacular moon I've seen in a while - sure, she had a bite out of her, but she knew she was gorgeous and wasn't shy in showing off. Gotta love a moon like that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Free Delivery

My Aurealis Award Shortlisted Story "Delivery" is now online at Cosmos, so you can experience it free. It's the only skiffy story I wrote last year, and it's got cool spaceships, science*, and everything. Check it out.







*pseudo and not so pseudo - I cribbed my storks** off an article I'd come across in New Scientist.

**well, their method of propulsion.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'd get such a shock I'd probably...

I'm in such a Smiths mood at the moment.

Possibly because every new album I have bought this year post Shearwater's Rook and Okkervil River's The Stand Ins has been a disappointment. Sure I wasn't expecting much of Chinese Democracy, and the new Killers album is kind of catchy, but dopey as all hell and I still don't get the "Are we human or are we dancer" line.

So it's the Smiths. What thirty something lad doesn't have a Smiths related memory? I mean my later years at Uni involved a lot of mooning around, wondering why this girl or that didn't love me, listening to the Smiths, on cassette no less.

Oh, well, what difference does it make?

Happy 400th Birthday, Milton.

A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round
As one great furnace flamed, yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end

(Sounds like Southbank on New Year's Eve)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Today began

with shit.

Poor Ernie had gotten a dose of the runs in the middle of the night, and not being able to get out, well, lets just say the living room and the study were a rather delightful tableau of crap.

Of course, I discovered it with my feet. I've never seen so much shit. Six-o-clock in the morning, and me a little hung over from the staff xmas party, and there I am mopping the shitty floor, and then washing crap from the matted fur of Ernie, a whole plug of which had formed around his bum*. Just lovely. And he wasn't enjoying it either. Finally, he was cleaned, I had a shower, and some codeine, and found another turd with my heel. Not so good for your hangover.

At least Ernie's stomach has settled, and his fur has never looked cleaner. So everyone's a winner.


*Yes Ernie could never survive in the wild, his bowels would block up after a few months, man's best friend really got screwed over on that score . Ziggy on the other hand is short haired, and wily, and while a sea eagle or a snake would find him a nice meal, I'm certain he would live till a ripe old age.

D & Z


Today

was a weird day.

Seems I'm a finalist in three categories of the Aurealis Awards. I'm not sure how that happened but there you go.

I'd just like to thank the editors who picked up those stories, worked them to a nice shine, and deserve most of the kudos. I just write them, and send them out, which is all you can do really. But these are the people who, through great cost in time (and, in most cases money), slush, edit and get these stories into the mystical world of readers - where every writer hopes their stories will end up, but you never know, you just don't, and you can never tell which stories people are going to like (well, I can't) which is a good thing because otherwise that's all you'd ever try and write which would be very dull indeed.

So thanks to Alisa, Ben and Tansy who edited Cracks and published it in the wonderful Shiny magazine, which is one of my favourite magazines, and has a fourth issue out now, which I would have blogged about ages ago - if I hadn't been so neglectful of Blog.

And thanks to Terry Martin who edited and took Day Boy for Murky Depths - a magazine I think just keeps getting stronger, and one I was very pleased to be published in.

And thanks to Damien Broderick, who took Delivery, and who is not only something of a literary hero of mine, but has been taking some great SF for Cosmos Magazine: and allowed me to fulfill my dream of being published in the closest thing going to Omni Magazine.

I don't expect to win, so I reckon I may as well thank these people now, because the finalist thing is really about the editors or nothing would ever see print. And if it can validate the magazines, and maybe increase the readership a little, it means that these markets may stay around so that they can publish more stories (hopefully some of them mine).

And cheers to Margo, Tansy, Marianne, Dirk and Richard, fellow ROR folk, and all finalists - and in some cases in the same category. Not to mention the multi-nominated Sean Williams, Deb Biancotti and Kim Westwood. And Jack Dann. And Angela S, and Lee B, and Cat S. And everyone else on the lists which can be found here, and which reminds me how many people I am going to be very pleased to be catching up with on the night - because it really is just an excuse to have a very big party.




*Though, if I do win something, well, then it will be all about me!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

You

can tell when I've suddenly got writerly commitments, or the homestead is undergoing renovations. This place suddenly grows deathly quiet.


Well, my commitments are nearly done. My novella has some sort of through line, the bathroom is nearly finished, and there's a little space in my skull for my dear little blog. Look at the poor little fellow, as sketched on this dog chewed post-it-note, has to use a rope for a belt.
Doesn't look too steady on his feet - it's all that red wine.


I'm already gearing up for next year, once everything is put to bed, I'm dying, just dying, to get onto something(s) new.