It’s not often I recommend books on this site. But I’m going to recommend one now.

I picked up Booklife by Jeff Vandermeer a few weeks ago. It’s a book about being a writer, rather than a book about writing: writing I can do, but there have been any number of times over the years that being a writer has felt beyond me– too hard, too draining, I’ve not been emotionally capable of dealing with the demands, I’ve been too busy, Real Life ™ has been too much, etc etc and so forth.

It’s been a revelation. Clearly set out, quirkily individual, but steadily confronting all the issues I’ve encountered over the years and providing answers, and if not answers then at least strategies for finding my own, in simply digestible chunks, with exercises and anecdotal evidence to get you through.

They’ll be prising it out of my cold, dead fingers.

One of the first things Vandermeer advises is this: create a mission statement. Too many writers, he argues, think tactically, not strategically. Without a view of the entire battlefield, we lurch from minor victory to minor victory with no clear purpose, and no way to string these victories together to provide something meaningful over a length of time.

I am that soldier.

So, this is what I’ve done, and this is why I’ve been so silent on the bloggerywebtitude front. Because, after a year of editing magazines, and judging competitions, and associated frippery, when it comes down to it, my aim, my mission statement, is this:

I want to be a full time professional author of novels and short stories, and to continue to advance my career as a teacher of writing.

A mission statement not only defines what it is you want to achieve: it helps define those tasks that don’t fit in with your aims. It helps you learn what to turn down. If it doesn’t fit the mission statement, why are you doing it?

So: this last month?

I’ve line edited Corpse-Rat King. I’ve submitted the online writing course I’ve been developing for the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. I’ve finished a new short story.

Next month: Corpse-Rat King to Angry Robot before their open submission period ends. A new short story. Take up Father Muerte & The Divine and finish it.

I’m a man on a mission.


You know the full stop, right? Little dot that tells the reader when to stop the sentence and take a breath. Problem is, in speech, the full stop is implied, and can often lead to misunderstandings. (“I thought you were finished speaking. Well you stopped talking. Well, I didn’t know you were just drawing breath, you stopped talking. Who are you, anyway, Robert Mitchum?” and so on). Nobody finishes a sentence by actualy saying the words ‘full stop’. That would be silly.

Thankfully, my wife is a genius, and has solved this problem by the simple act of getting herself an iPad.

Now I *know* when she’s finished a sentence, because they all finish with “on my iPad.”

Problem solved.


My darling wife has returned to Uni, for which I am eternally happy: she is far too intelligent, creative, and worthwhile to content herself with serving the family, and deserves every chance she can to achieve all the things in life she wants.

And thanks to the wonders of teknockery, you can actually be a part of her studies. That’s right, fella, I’m talkin’ at you! As part of the unit she’s studying– Living & Learning With Technology — she’s required to maintain a blog discussing her University experience.

Lyn The Luddite is that blog, and she’s looking for followers. Go; read; comment; follow; absorb; put the free back into free education; the class back into classroom, the each bacn into teaching…. you know, all that stuff.


That fine and august organisation has just released the shortlist for the 2010 Australian Shadows Award, and I was deeply chuffed to find Midnight Echo #4 on the list for ‘Best Edited Publication’. I’ve always enjoyed editing, and the cast and crew of that magazine were an absolute joy to work with: talented authors, excellent and professional backroom staff, and good administration– the whole process was a delight. That the end result has received a chance at winning such a gong is very, very pleasing indeed.

Full details are here, but in case you’re hyperlinkingly challenged, the full roll call is:


  • Madigan Mine by Kirstyn McDermott (Picador Australia)
  • The Girl With No Hands by Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healy (Allen & Unwin)
  • Under Stones by Bob Franklin (Affirm Press)
  • Bleed by Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)



  • Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
  • Scenes From The Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
  • Dark Pages 1, edited by Brenton Tomlinson (Blade Red Press)
  • Scary Kisses, edited by Liz Grzyb (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Midnight Echo #4, edited by Lee Battersby (AHWA)



  • “Bread and Circuses” by Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses)
  • “Brisneyland by Night” by Angela Slatter (Sprawl)
  • “She Said” by Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes from the Second Storey)
  • “All The Clowns In Clowntown” by Andrew J. McKiernan (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
  • “Dream Machine” by David Conyers (Scenes from the Second Storey)

Honestly: not a dud amongst them.

Winners are announced April 15. Win, lose, or lose in some other way, I’ll announce them here on the blog, so stay tuned.



It’s a judgey kind of period for me at the moment. Apart from pulling duty on the Aurealis Awards graphic novels panel this year, I’ve also agreed to join the judging panel for the Australian Horror Writers Association’s Flash & Short Story competition, along with the wise, talented, and downright spunky Kaaron Warren and Stephen Dedman.

Full details are here. Entries close 31st May, so get writing. Remember: I am a crusty and jaded old bastard, so if you want creep me out, you’re going to have to work really hard. Or be Lady Gaga.

I’d prefer to read the story, though.


‘Ee, by gum, it’s been a while. But there’s a bit of news to be had, so let’s be getting on with it, especially now that this blog is being archived at the National Library of Australia’s PANDORA archive.

That’s right: when the alien archaeologists of the far future land and want to find out just which Doctor Who character I most resemble, and just what was all the fuss about Billie Piper’s nipples anyway, they won’t have to search too hard to find out. I know I’ve been sleeping easier at night…

So, with a merry “can I borrow 5 bucks now that you’ve won an Oscar you talented little bugger?” to the mighty Shaun Tan, we probably aught to get on with some actual content, don’cha think?