Friday, February 27, 2004


Writing this entry with some relief today: Luscious Lyn went in for her operation yesterday, and came out okay. Both of us have some awful memories regarding hospitals: the last time either of us attended one everything went pear-shaped in life-altering ways, so we had a lot of personal history on both sides to get past. Thankfully, albeit with quite a bit of post-op pain, she seems to have got through everything fine. The night before the operation was one of the worst I've ever experienced for stress. Today has been a great relief.

One of the benefits of today was that I managed to finish the story that had grown out of that rotten writing exercise I mentioned earlier. Father Renoir's Hands is a truly nasty piece of work, a result of the stress leading up to the operation, some opinions I have on religion, and my deep underlying need never to write a remotely happy ending. I got 3/4 of the way in before stalling on Tuesday night, but finished the last 400 words in about 15 minutes today. Where the hell it'll go is anybody's guess at the moment, but I'm pretty sure it won't be Catholic Reader's Monthly... :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Just returned from the Festival of Perth workshop with Terry Dowling. A mixed result: the other attendees were not as advanced in their careers as Luscious Lyn and I, so much time was taken up with 'Writing 101' stuff. However, Terry is such an engaging speaker, and carries such a wealth of information, that it's impossible to walk away empty-notebooked. There were enough tasty tidbits flowing hither and yon that we left happy. As important as learning new tips and tricks for me was getting affirmation, from a guy who does it for a living, that yes, I am heading along the correct path for a satisfying career. The tools are all there: it's up to me to make sure I stick to the vision.

That's why I keep going to these things: I can see the gulf that exists between writers at my level and those at Terry's. Anything that will help me to bridge that gap is something I want to investigate. I've been a part of a number of artistic communities over the years, and SF writers are the only group I know who will gladly reach a hand out and help you up to their level. The more time I spend with writers who treat me like a peer when they have every right to view my humble achievements with scorn, the more I see my career arc progressing over the years to come. "There's always room for one more" seems to be the creed in this industry.

And the really great thing, of course, is that you come away from a session like today's refreshed and with a renewed desire to write. With 7 stories in various stages of drafting, and another 3 in first-draft, that's a good thing. I'm looking forward to getting back into it tonight once Erin has gone to bed.

Monday, February 23, 2004


Okay dokey, a few people have actually asked which 13 magazines I've chosen for the list I've mentioned (I can only assume that these people have such sad lives that even writing slash is too much for them... >:) Hi to all my slash writing friends. Please put those knives away...) So, for the edification of those of you who have lost the will to live, my list of 13 is below. Those in italics have already received a story from me this year.

The Fat Fella's List of Mintox Markets

1. Well-known porn magazine Asimov's (For those of you who don't get the joke, here's the link, and here's the reply)
2. Brutarian
3. Chiaruscuro
4. F&SF
6. Interzone
7. Leading Edge
8. Oceans Of The Mind
9. Sci-Fiction
10. Strange Horizons
11. The Strand
12. The Third Alternative
13. Weird Tales

So there you go. If you think I've made any glaring omissions, and my laughingly-called-a-career will wither and die if I don't send to this magazine or that magazine, let me know. F'rinstance, I'm aware I've left Analog off my list, but if you'd read any of my hard SF stuff you'd know why :)


I'm an unabashed fan of Terry Dowling's writing, and I dare you to disagree with me once you read the likes of The Lagan Fishers or Stitch. Terry's in town as part of the Perth Writer's Festival, and Luscious Lyn and I have scored some of the few tickets to a writing workshop with him tomorrow. It should be fun: the last time we caught up with Terry, he and I sat at opposite ends of a coffee table trying to out-dirty joke each other while the Luscious One sat above us both laughing her ass off and slapping us both down :)


Went to pick my long-awaited and long-ordered copy of Trophy Night: The Best of Weddings, Parties, Anything this afternoon. $19.95 for the best Australian band I never saw (A long story best summarised along the lines of- every time they were here I somehow managed to be there...). Even better, when I walked out of the shop I saw the price ticket: $24.95. Then I stopped into the chemist to pick up some medication for Erin. Cost: $25.40. I give the girl $50.40. And get $40 change. Happy-fat-man-dance-of-joy!

Like I said: nothing to do with writing...

Friday, February 20, 2004


Another horrible day at the depression salt mines. Not as bad as the last two, but I still ended up by mid-afternoon feeling very low and grinchy, and frustrated at my utter inability to get a single word onto paper. The Luscious One managed to get me to sit down and work on my piece for Consensual a Trois, and I dragged 500 words out of myself. LL got her entire 2200 word story onto the page in the same time, mind, but at least it feels like I'm coming out the other side of the trough.

Bought a bunch of flowers and a candle to say thanks. Not much, I know, but she liked it.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Went to the Word-Thirst writing group at KSP this morning. Was given a writing exercise by this week's moderator (we take turns) which I honestly thought wasn't going to amount to anything: too general, too aimless, too much room for error. To whit:

Describe someone. Describe a setting. Have the character move from that setting to another, describing two emotions along the journey.

Good writing exercises exist, like good physical exercises, to pinpoint, isolate, and develop one skill (or muscle). This exercise didn't do that, and I set about it expecting nothing more than to fill the 15 minutes in order to be polite to a fellow attendee.

Of course, it's led to a damn good story idea, hasn't it? Typical- even when I'm trying not to, I attract the exceptions that prove the rule.


I've found out what the elephants are doing when they paint. Now I just have to find out why...


Two days of heavy research are behind me. Copious note-taking, covering the Botany Bay Colony, prostitute ships, and Napoleon's years in Corsica. It's all coming together, in my best Monty Burns voice. I've set myself a target of 31st March to have the spine of the book laid out (This happens, then this, then this...), and a rough shape is beginning to coalesce out of the ether. Should be well on the way by the end of next month. May even have a few words squeezed out: the first line is already decided upon...


I hate depression, I really do. It can cripple you, making each and every effort seem beyond trying, whether it be getting out of bed, walking your daily fitness walk, or even staying alive. It's all too much, too hard, and not only are you a failure because you can't do it, you're a fool to think anybody would care. At least, that's what you're thinking. Depression is a horrible, terrible affliction. For the last 2 and a bit years I've suffered it in varying degrees. I'm very good at coping. I have a strong personality, a solid sense of what is right and wrong about myself, and a hard-won set of coping mechanisms that have seen me through more than one Black Dog Day. Sometimes, though, it hits hard, and heavy, and the journey back seems too long to be bothered with.

Luscious Lyn copped a fiance-eye's view of it last night and this morning, and she brought me through it with such love, strength, and affection that I was not only recovered by the time we left the writer's group (To which I didn't want to go, and which she made me, knowing exactly what an uplifting effect it would have), I was happy and perky and my usual annoying self.

Everyone should find themselves a partner like The Luscious One. More fool those who have one and let them go, or drive them away, not knowing what harm it is they do themselves.

Love you, babe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


3 stories sent out today, to Interzone, Aurealis, and Argosy. That makes 4 for the week, including the one I emailed to All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories the other day.

I've set myself a list of 13 magazines in the US and Europe that I will send stories to this year: I'm desperate to make the jump from solid Australian sales to making a mark on the larger scale, and the only way to do that is to start selling regularly to larger markets. Interzone is on that list, and I consider Aurealis to be the top Australian market, as no other local magazine currently has its mix of reputation, editorial quality, and distribution. Argosy and ASZAS weren't on the list when I drew it up, but that's an advantage: both look to be high-quality markets, and if it leaves me still needing to send to 12 off my list then it forces me to produce quality work.

Along with some fun and funky markets like Robert Hood and Robin Penn's Daikaiju anthology; Nigel Read's Superluminal project; and ConSensual A Trois, the year is shaping up as both challenging and enjoyable. Of course, if I don't sell them, you might have to look for a "Weird Shit I Can't Find A 2nd Market For" collection sometime next year :)

Got down and dirty with a couple of research books for the novel today. If I was working for the man, lying around on a couch all day reading books would be lazy, but when you're a writer... :) Hello workers, hope you enjoyed your day!

One of the biggest frustrations I have at the moment is finding good sources to tell me about Napoleon Bonaparte's youth. As much stuff as I could possibly want about Napoleon the man, the General, the Emperor, the ice-cream salesman... the square root of bugger all about Napoleon the teenager. Which is, as I'm setting the story between the ages of 16 and somewhere around 21, a bit of a bugger.

So if anybody's found anything useful talking about this period of the little fella's life, there's a place in the novel's acknowledgements page if you contact me and tell me.

Monday, February 16, 2004


Had a crap week last week: involvement in other things kept me away from the writing desk far too often, and pain from my back was a constant trouble. So when we dropped Erin off at her grandparents' place for her 4-weekly dose of cordial, late nights, and all the other things they know we don't let her have, it was with a certain sense of relief, because the weekend was shaping as a fun one and I really needed it.

Thankfully, it lived up to expectations. We went on a Valentine's Day picnic with Callisto and Cheshire (Lyn bought me the Gogs DVD: she lurvs me!) at which much champagne was imbibed, much MUCH food was eaten, and a game of Boules turned into a surreal street theatre performance involving duck-chasing, roo-poo stomping, and a complete inability on the part of all participants to get the balls anywhere near the damned jack. Needless to say, we all laughed our asses off the whole time. We ended up back at C&C's place, where we sat around (and in) the pool discussing video games, pornography, and everything else under the sun. We have more fun with C&C every time we hang out with them.

Sunday morning we attended the monthly KSP SF group. A bunch of new arrivals, including good pal Nigel Read ensured the conversation was lively and the critiques free-flowing. There are a couple of attendees with real potential, besides a bunch of hardened pros, so the group is getting better all the time. Added to our weekly visit to the Word-Thirst group at the centre, Luscious and I are enjoying the chance to get out amongst other writers on a regular basis. I was able to push forward a writing exercise at the end of the meeting, something I think is important (Writing groups should WRITE!), and I'm hoping I can get an increasing focus onto the nuts and bolts stuff as time progresses.

Then we headed out in the afternoon to hang out with Cheshire, Callisto, and Splanky. We attended a local lifestyle Con, a little affair with a few stalls, a couple of demonstrations, and a group of C,C&S's friends we hadn't met before. Had a fun time shopping, chatting, and just generally absorbing ideas and stacking up on information pamphlets (A gift from my late Mother, The Pamphlet Queen: I can't go anywhere and not leave with an armful). Lyn bought herself a beautiful burgundy corset from a stall, which makes her look dead sexy so I was not complaining. I limited myself to a small piece of line-art by a local artist, otherwise I'd have spent all our Swancon money and it would have been a hell of a short holiday in April. We went out to dinner in Mt Lawley, where the 5 of us ate brilliant Italian food and enjoyed our usual wide-ranging and bizarre form of conversation.

So back to work this morning, refreshed and happy after a damn good weekend. Just what the Fat Guy ordered: good friends, good food, good fun, and a happy fiance with jewellery and sexy clothes.


Two rejections waiting for me when I logged on this morning, so today's task: find new homes for my babies. Renamed Black-Painted Trees to Silk (thanks Joanne from Word-Thirst for the far better title) and sent it off to All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. Many thanks to editors David Moles and Jay Lake for letting me e-sub this one, giving me time for 2 extra drafts. Hope it's resulted in a story they want to buy! It's a lot of fun to find a market with such massive strictures on what they accept (how many SF stories about inflatable airships have YOU read?): sometimes great art comes from finding new ways to deal with such strictures, and while I don't pretend to be capable of great art, it's still a challenging and rewarding way to create.


If you want to try the writing exercise I gave the KSP SF group, here 'tis:

Take the last line from an already-published novel or short story, and write it at the top of a blank page. Below that, start writing a story with the intention of reaching that last line. Don't worry about copyright or anything like that: by the time you get to the end of your story, it'll be so different you'll have your own last line all by yourself. This is more an exercise in working towards a solid end-point than trying to recreate anything already written.

A couple of examples, taken entirely without permission, so you'll need to track down, buy, and read the stories so the authors don't sue my ass off:

"There are some places no-one should ever have to go home to." Salvation, Stephen Dedman
"Sarat was right; he had imagined it would be a Union Jack." The World According To Kipling, Geoffrey Maloney
"And in my head the words begin, and the sky closes about me." Skyriders, Simon Brown
"I whisper it to my children every night." Written in Blood, Chris Lawson
"Wind picked up as dawn approached, but by that time Mac couldn't feel it." Rough Trade, Robert Hood


Luscious has come through sporting her new dye job. From copper to a deep, dark burgundy. Yum :)

Thursday, February 12, 2004


The things you have to do to feed a book addiction! The Luscious One and I stopped off at a book sale the other day and set ourselves a $30 limit, on the proviso that whatever we bought, we would use to write a story. So, now I have to work out how to write a story around:

When Elephants Paint: The Quest of Two Russian Artists to Save The Elephants of Thailand, by Komar & Melamid

Who Killed The Great Auk? by Jeremy Gaskell

Alien Art: Extraterrestrial Expressions on Earth by Sarah Moran; and

The Last Face You'll Ever See: The Private Life of the American Death Penalty by Ivan Solotaroff

Your guess is as good as mine...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


At last, I've finished Mikal. Took longer than I anticipated in my first rush of enthusiasm, but the final first draft logs in at just over 3700 words. I've managed two other short stories in the same timeframe, so I find myself with 3 to draft over the next little while. It's a nice place to be in: I felt very dried and lacking in creativity when the year started.

Much work on the novel to be done over the rest of the week, as well as getting Black-Painted Trees finished and off to the Zeppelin Adventure Stories anthology. There's plenty of rest for the wicked, it's the oppressed that have to keep dancing... :)

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Finally persuaded the Luscious One to start a blog. Check it out here!

Friday, February 06, 2004


A little full-time writer woohooing going on at Ches Us today. I've been madly trying to come up with a plot for a (believe it or not, in my best Jack Palance wheeze) SF story about Zeppelins, for an anthology closing on the 16th. Until this morning, I had absolutely nowt.

Woke up today with the entire plot in mind, and within 4 hours of starting had completed the entire 3170 word story, entitled Black-Painted Trees. Happy little fat man dancing.


3686 words of Luscious Lyn's novel completed today as well! The entire first chapter and well into the second. Happy little petite gorgeous woman dancing!


Not a shelf of knick-knacks. Calli's shrine. I hope her God is not a vengeful one, or I'm boned...

The Luscious One is hoping it's not a fertility God.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Just been informed that the shelf of knick-knacks I knocked over at Cheshire & Callisto's place wasn't actually a shelf of knick-knacks.

Oh Christ. Calli, what the hell were they?


A good day in Casa Del Us yesterday, our first day of the full-time-writer-thang (probably need to get a better title for it. How about "Lee And Lyn's Poverty-Stricken Adventure"?)

The Luscious One sent 2 stories out, to ASIM and Ideomancer; wrote over 1000 words on her Big Phat Phantasy Novel (And I quote: "You're stuff always turns out too weird to sell, so I guess I'M going to have to be the whore in this family!"); got through a fat pile of work for her issue of ASIM (Coming up next month: BUY IT, PEOPLE!); and critiqued 3 stories for the KSPSF group. I managed to get two stories out as well, to ASIM and Borderlands; critique a story for KSPSF; logged another 500 words plus on Mikal; and got through a whole bunch of research for the Napoleon Novel (HINT: There are far more places in Western Australia named after dead French guys than you thought...). And we managed to walk almost 3.5 kilometres in our morning constitutional. The Stop-The-Peter-Jackson-Jokes campaign gathers momentum!

Not a bad effort, that. I normally need a lie down if I go to the kitchen and the letterbox in the same day...

Sunday, February 01, 2004


Fabulous times last night, with two invites presented to Luscious Lyn and I for the evening.

Firstly, a little taste of Rustypalooza: met up with good friends and Ticonderoga accomplices Russell Farr and Liz Grzyb at the Dome in Northbridge, for Russ' "31 on the 31st" celebration. A couple of hours spent chatting with a collection of pals ensued, and Russ seemed pretty happy with his prezzies: a book of sports records and another called "Girl Gangs On Film". The photos of Cleopatra Jones and Foxxy Brown seemed to please him... :)
Russ was handing out copies of his "Top 131"- a fanzine entirely dedicated to his favourite 131 songs ever. Very funny and insightful reading it makes, too. If you bump into him, beg a copy.

Then it was on to one of the most enjoyable dinner parties I've ever been to. The more-than-groovy Cheshire and Callisto Shampoo, had us over to tea, and we had a fabulous time. Cheshire & Callisto are fast becoming good friends. The food was brilliant (a delicious teppanyaki feast that took up most of the night between 4 different types of wine :) and a home made pav for dessert), the conversation was free-flowing and seemed to cover 72 subjects a minute, and despite my managing to knock over a shelf full of knick-knacks during an exuberent moment, I don't think they hate me yet :)) We're looking forward to getting them over our place for a return engagement.


My contributor's copy of ASIM 10 arrived Friday, complete with cheque. Luvverly!


Engaged in the usual post-Christmas cleanup of my writing records this past week, and as always, I'm amazed at how the festive season seems to bugger magazine schedules up completely. Of the 9 submission records I followed up, 5 were considerably over their stated response times, 1 had managed to lose my submission completely, 1 magazine had closed (Planet Relish, and a pity too: I liked that one), and 2, despite my including an SAE and International Reply Coupons (Not cheap!) hadn't even bothered to reply to me at all, just published their list of contents. Bloody annoying it is.

On the other hand, a big bouquet for Eric Heideman at Tales of The Unanticipated. I've had a brief e-conversation with him regarding a submission to his magazine, and he's been excellent to deal with: professional, polite, and very personable. Even should this sub be unsuccessful, I'm looking forward to dealing with him again.