Monday, December 06, 2010

Macabre Review Rocks and don't forget early January 2010 is it...

...when a UFO will appear over Moscow, apparently. Followed one week later by another one over London. So says a retired NORAD officer by the name of Stanley Fulham. The 'Transcendors' told him so. Good ol' Stanley predicted UFO sightings over New York back in October.

Cool, this will be fun.

Anyway, back into it I go, struggling to retain my focus... Seems to wander all about the place of late. I went out the the kitchen the other night in need of sustenance so I could keep writing and what do I find there? My concentration; it had already gathered itself a plate of biccies, poured itself a scotch, and was heading off to the lounge to watch highlights of the days' Ashes test. No wonder I wasn't getting anything done.

How do you stop your concentration from wandering? Can't really tie it up, can you? Maybe I just need to let it out more often, and constrict my writing efforts to short, sharp periods.

Or maybe my concentration is counting down the days til my holiday, in which case there's no chance...

In other news, ScaryMinds have posted a brilliant review of Macabre, giving it 10 out of 10 and saying it is... ambitious project that Editors Challis and Young have managed to pull off with a high degree of polish. Macabre presents value for money on any of a number of levels. As a sampler of Aussie dark fiction, as a historic record of the development of the dark genre in Australia, and as simply a good book to have at hand.'

Personally, I liked this bit the best:

'The collection is worth the price of admission for Down Under horror scholars on the strength of Dr Marty Young's essay on the history of the dark genre in Australia that kicks off the book. It's pretty comprehensive and I certainly learnt a few things I didn't know via reading it. I hate to think how much research went into producing one of the great dark genre non-fiction pieces yet published.'

Go me :)

Now go check out the full review--and buy yourself a copy! Go on, do it. Now!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

And now for something completely different...

First thing first, I survived NaNoWriMo! Go me. I've written just under 60,000 words of a new novel, and think I have about another 30k to go. 60k in one month. Not bad, if I do say so myself. It was great turning off my internal editor and just writing.

I'll also be heading to the States shortly to spend some time in the setting of one of my novels in order to soak up the character of the place. That should be fun, too.

Anyway, as the title of this post says, And Now for Something Completely Different...

Me being the geek that I am, and being massively interested in alien life (take me! Take me!), I have to admit to being one of those caught up in the excitement of NASA's announcement:
NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p. m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Boy, hasn't that given folks something to chat about. There are all manner of rumours circulating cyberspace, such as arsenic-based bacteria, evidence of alien life on Titan, extraterrestrial life discovered in an ice meteorite...

When I first read this press release, my immediate thoughts were, brilliant! They've discovered alien life!! But although we won't know until tomorrow morning (my Aussie time) what the announcement will be, a lot of people think it will be about the arsenic-based life forms. And if it is, this is still huge news. As The Telegraph says;

If we found a microbe that used arsenic as a substitute for phosphorus, that would be a very exciting development. It might mean that, instead of evolving from a common ancestor with the rest of life, it developed in a second, entirely separate moment of biogenesis: that it is a limb on a “shadow tree of life”. Since this would mean that life has evolved twice on Earth alone, it’s reasonable to think it might have evolved elsewhere in the universe as well

I've always said alien life would be just that, alien. In every sense of the word. Planets we think totally inhospitable could very well be perfectly fine for alien life. It's naive to suggest otherwise.

Well, that was all rather deep. BBUURRRPP!!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

One week in...

...and all is well.

NaNoWriMo is a week old (or there abouts) and I've now completed 11,544 words of what is a thriller, maybe a thriller with a sci-fi conspiracy theory running through it? Yeah, something like that.

It's great fun, writing by the seat of my pants like this. I have a general idea of where I want to go and what the story is about, but already the characters are taking over and leading me up different paths. It's weird when this happens and trying to explain it to people who don't write is really difficult. They say things like, 'but you're writing it, aren't you?'

It was like this in the first novel I wrote, too; I rewrote one particular chapter 3 times because something kept happening that I didn't want to happen. I did everything possible to change it, but in the end, I gave in and let the tragedy happen. I guess it needed to happen. The book was dictating it.

I wasn't impressed though--but then I was also impressed because it meant my story was evolving and filling out. It was coming alive - alive, I tell you! Alive!

So who knows where this one will end up. I'm guessing not where I have penciled in for it to go. Time will tell. Actually, another 24 days will tell...

If anyone else is taking part in NaNoWriMo, let me know and we can buddy up.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Novel No. 2, here I come.

Okay, so the novel has finally been sent off to the agent. Here's hoping he likes it enough to take me on as a client!!

If not, that okay 'cos I'm at least off to a good start. This is the first agent I've contacted and he asked to read the whole MS, so I've gotta be doing something right. And I'm prepared for the hard yards, regardless.

So now it's onto the next novel, and I'm going to use NaNoWriMo to get me out of the starting blocks. Actually, I think I might aim to do this every year. It's a good way to motivate myself, as I find beginning a novel a monumental task, one that I view with both terror and excitement.

I've been busy nutting out the plot and characters, the storyline and structure, and reckon I'm about good to go.

And cos I'm so organised, I had time to think about getting involved with Movember - always thought I'd look a crack up with a mustache! But maybe next year... We had a site wide video conference at work the other day, and one of the presenters had a mustache. All I could think of while he was giving his presentation was, 'gee, he looks like a porn star.'

Oh, and The Art of Tim Burton finally arrived, and what a book this is! Tim Burton is a genius, a talent and a half; his art style is so distinct. Sometimes it's so simple but it's just brilliant. What a source of inspiration this book is.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mmmm... pork...

I love bacon. It's delicious. Roast pork too, with all that crackling. Then there's ham, a whole leg of ham. What a wonderful animal this is. What did Homer once say? 'Porkchops and bacon, my two favourite animals.'
Homer: I’ll have the smiley face breakfast special. Uhh, but could you add a bacon nose? Plus bacon hair, bacon mustache, five o’clock shadow made of bacon bits and a bacon body.
Waitress: How about I just shove a pig down your throat?
(Homer looks excited)
Waitress: I was kidding.
Homer: Fine, but the bacon man lives in a bacon house!
Problem is, I love animals and while I have a huge vege garden, there's no way I could have pigs. No way could I go out to Mr Piggy and slice off a bit of his hide  for my Sunday roast each week. It just wouldn't feel right.

It would be so much better if pork grew on trees. Then I could just plant it with all of my other veges, the corn and carrots, spinach and spuds, capsicums and cucumbers etc. Just imagine, a bacon tree. How wonderful would that be?? I wouldn't have to worry about garden gnomes nibbling my toes, only Homer living there.

Okay, that's my Dr Suess moment over for the week. Back to the writing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beneath the covers

Two new covers to present today, one for my story Joey Blue and the Gutterbreed appearing in ASIM #48 (edited by the wild and wacky Jules), and the second for my flash fiction piece Breaking Point, appearing in Daily Bites of Flesh.

Both covers are truly awesome.

My Joey Blue story is a 'Parkton' story, that is, Joey's a character that appears in my novel, and Parkton is the town in which he finds himself. It ain't a nice place, either... An old bluesman who fell into his songs one day and never found his way out again, that's Joe.

And some of the contributors appearing in Macabre have been posting snippets of their stories for your reading pleasure, plus a bit of background on how their stories came about. Check out the blogs of Shane Jiraiya Cummings and David Conyers for a start, and stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile, my long lost sideshow freak of a muse has unfurled from the depths of my mind and started feeding me stories again... The madness is back, fresh and deformed, and it's such a wild and wonderful feeling!

Also just had the wonderful Sarah Langan, my HWA mentor, provide some brilliant feedback on my novel. I'm making a few changes in accordance with her suggestions, and then the whole MS will be off to the London agent fellow. Keep your fingers crossed!!

And then it's NaNoWriMo next month, and that pesky Jules character has roped myself and AJ (and no doubt a number of other poor souls) into taking part (I say pesky but I don't mean it, honest). Should be fun; only 1666 words per day. Easy.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Dragons are real!

Well whaddya know? It turns out dragons really did exist - at least according to one Mike Hallett, discoverer of the Hallettestoneion Sea Zoria Dragons.

These creatures were apparently the biggest (100-300ft) and most advanced marine reptiles to have ever existed on Earth, going extinct around 540 million years ago - although 'latest results' date these beasties at 484 million years. Their teeth were 3 foot long (see below), which would make T-rex look like a vegetarian.

But, er, the remains look like rocks. I'm a geologist so I know what a rock looks like. But that's okay cos it's all about Zoria Repeat apparently, which I don't know about. Once you understand this, you can see things in the rocks. Wouldn't that make my day job fun?

Here's what this Mike fellow has to say:
What nobody is doing today, in the paleontological scientific communities is addressing the real scientific questions related to explaining the origins of the specialized configurations of stones (Seazoria remains). Basically the common school of thought is 'rocks are rocks because rocks have always been rocks". This is the 21st century and it is now time for science to evolve a grater understanding and explanation of why these particular stones are arranged in the exact configuration's of large scale extremely advanced prehistoric sea dragons. Yes it is much easier to to just label the Hallettestoneion Seazorias are rocks but where are all the scientists that want to get to the bottom of the Seazoria prehistoric biological mysteries. The global scientific community should be explaining accurately the triggering event that caused the creation of the specialized configurations.
I can hear my pal Bones getting all excited over this...

There was another fellow, and this is going back some years, who was convinced he had discovered a microscopic race of humans. Apparently he found evidence of them while looking at some microscope slides of spores and pollen. Little tiny humans, all about 50-100 microns in size (there are 1000 microns in a millimeter).

Man, I'm obviously not taking enough drugs--or scotch. Better ramp up my intake...

But hey, I'm more than happy to be proven wrong on either of the above.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Macabre's on the Radio

Hey hey, just discovered that Macabre was on Afternoons with Richard Fidler on 612 ABC Brisbane. He interviewed three of our contributors, Gary Kemble, Stephen M Irwin, and Will Elliott. 

Way to go, guys! 

And I love what Gary said about Macabre being a landmark anthology - because it's the only Aussie horror anthology that can be seen from space. Hah, classic!

Check out the audio here

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Monstrous Military

Came across an article today worth posting about. It's from

Back in the 1950s, psychological warfare planners within the American military began spreading tales of blood-sucking, monstrous vampires being on the loose in the Philippines. The reason: to terrify the superstitious, Communist Huk rebels that at the time, were engaged in an uprising in the Philippines.
The operation was a truly ingenious one that was coordinated by a certain Major General Edward G. Lansdale. Born in 1908, Lansdale served with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War. Then, in 1945, he was transferred to HQ Air Forces Western Pacific in the Philippines; and, in 1957, he received a posting to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, working as Deputy Assistant to the SoD for what were vaguely termed as “Special Operations.”
At the specific request of President Elpidio Quirino, Lansdale was assigned to the Joint United States Military Assistance Group to provide assistance and guidance in the field of Intelligence, to the Philippine Army, as the latter sought to squash the Huk uprising. And it was while lending assistance to President Quirino that Lansdale had the bright idea of exploiting a local legend for psychological warfare purposes – namely, that of the deadly, predatory and monstrous Asuang Vampire. A very strange “special operation” had well and truly begun.
In his own words, Lansdale would later say that: “To the superstitious, the Huk battleground was a haunted place filled with ghosts and eerie creatures. A combat psy-war squad was brought in. It planted stories among town residents of an Asuang living on the hill where the Huks were based. Two nights later, after giving the stories time to make their way up to the hill camp, the psywar squad set up an ambush along the trail used by the Huks.”
Lansdale continued: “When a Huk patrol came along the trail, the ambushers silently snatched the last man of the patrol, their move unseen in the dark night. They punctured his neck with two holes, vampire-fashion, held the body up by the heels, drained it of blood, and put the corpse back on the trail. When the Huks returned to look for the missing man and found their bloodless comrade, every member of the patrol believed that the Asuang had got him and that one of them would be next if they remained on that hill. When daylight came, the whole Huk squadron moved out of the vicinity.”
And, as a direct result of these actions, key, strategic ground was taken out of the hands of the Huk rebels.'

Good thinking, that...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rusty Writing

So two and a bit weeks after resigning as AHWA's President and the rust is slowly sloughing off... I actually sat down at my computer last night and spent 3 hours on my novel - mostly research - but it was a wonderful feeling.

Then I watched Dexter. That guy's so cold, it's awesome.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Happiness of Being Human

So that's the Worldcon, thank you very much. And what a trip!! Ye Gods, I drank too much, said too many silly things, but jeez I had an awesome time :)

Met loads of cool cats, folks I've spoken to via email for years but had never actually met, and caught up with many old friends. It was a brilliant time - but somewhat chaotic! There just didn't seem to be enough time to do half of the things I wanted to do. Oh well, there will be other cons.

The Nightmare Ball went really well (a huge THANK YOU to Kyla for that; she truly did do us all proud), with many crazy-cool costumes. And the one thing I forgot to do - throughout the whole con - was to take photos! D'oh.

A mate of mine would call that a Dave Moment...

Oh well, there are plenty of photos doing the rounds on Facebook (and fortunately, I'm yet to see any of me in drunken disarray, which is always good...).

I caught up with the agent fellow (John from Zeno Agency) and had a very positive and exciting chat about my novel, so I've come home enthusiastic and eager to get back into writing - which of course I can do now I've passed on the Presidential reigns to Leigh Blackmore (who is gonna rock as the new head honcho). Exciting times indeed...

Macabre was even launched and damn, that book looks great (okay, so I'm slightly biased here, but damn it looks great). Met Bob Franklin, TV/movie star and horror writer, and cool dude. He's one of our contributors so I got him to sign my copy (go Bob!). Missed out on getting many other signatures though, so it looks like I'll be lugging that tomb of a book around at the next con...

And I even brought a domain name for my new coming-soon website - can you believe I managed to get Couldn't believe it wasn't taken.

So as well as writing frantically, I'll also be updating this rusty, cobwebbed blog and changing a few other things. It's a new start, and an exciting one at that!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Bitterness of Being Human

Feeling a mite bitter with mankind today so I thought I'd pen a poem. Something a little different...

People are strange
Jimmy Morrison said,
but they're more than that,
worse than that;
People are human,
and there's no end to what
humans can be...

Yeah, okay, pretty crap, but it does the job.

Sometimes people amaze me and I'm amazed at that. After all of this time, to still be shocked and stunned by what people do... No wonder our poor planet is having an identity crises, hot and cold flushes; it's revolving around so many people...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Macabre's nearly here...

...and I'm damn excited!

It looks bloody awesome - and it's a door-stopper at 672 pages. There're a whole swag of kick-arse writers in the anthology, going all the way back to John Lang's first ever Australian ghost story from 1836.

I'm real proud of this; Angela and I worked hard to get it together, and all of those involved have been fantastic to work with. Thanks all for your patience and perseverance, and here's to a wild launch at Worldcon in September!

The sheer scope of this project meant it wasn't possible to include everyone who deserved to be in there, but that just means there's enough material for a volume II sometime down the track. I still have a pile of stories from the colonial era right up to the 1980's looking for a home (got some great pulp era stories, too).

But for now, make sure you enjoy this Macabre feast - with 36 stories, it's an honest to goodness fuckin' smorgasbord!!

Check out the details (including the really important ordering info!) here:

Oh! And a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my story 'Black Peter' for the Ditmar Awards! That story is now nominated in the Best Short Story category, and that's just cool :)

I'm gonna go git me a scotch and raise a toast. Then I'm 'a gonna drink that there scotch.

'Black Peter' was also honourably mentioned by Ellen Datlow in the Best Horror of the Year volume II, so looks like that's at least 3 glasses of scotch I'd best go enjoy...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Synopsis update

Okay, so the synopsis is now complete!

Thank God.

It took 4 attempts, 3 severe edits by Paula, before I got the damn thing right. And now it bloody well shines :)

I re-read my first attempt and it made me cringe. Even I wouldn't have asked to read the manuscript had someone sent me that synopsis. Funny, cos at the time I was sure it was a knockout. Proves how much I know.

Oh Dr Young, you think you know all there is to know, don't you..?

Turns out I barely know where my next full stop is.

Anyway, the synopsis is done - well, let me clarify. A synopsis a little over 8 double-spaced pages is done, and now Paula is asking for me to shrink it down to 2 pages, and even 1 page. This request made me go fill up my glass with scotch and take a hefty drink.

Two pages is bad enough; how the hell am I supposed to shrink this thing currently 8 pages, something that was a struggle to limit to 8 pages, down to 2 pages?  Or even 1 page? One page!

I think I need another drink...

The idea is to have a couple of different length synopsis ready to go should an agent request a 2 page one, or even a 1 page (shudder) one.

So it's with a groan that I haul myself back to the keyboard..... Will aim to get the 2 page version done this weekend. The 1 page, well, we'll see...

Meanwhile, the research into the most suitable agents continues...

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Great Australian Booklist

Good ol' Chuck McKenzie has been at it again, stirring that brain of his and finding within it this bloody brilliant idea. And thanks to his cohorts (Gillian and Nyssa), the idea has become a reality:

So you're after a book that's published in the US or UK, but which is unavailable to purchase in Australia due to parallel importation restrictions? Maybe your local bookseller isn't stocking the desired range of exciting Aussie small press publications? Or perhaps that novel you've been looking for is long out of print? What can you, as an Australian reader, do to get your hands on the books you want to read?

Readers may use the Great Australian Booklist to nominate 'wish lists' of overseas, local small press and out of print publications, which will then be made available to Australian publishers, distributors and booksellers, to be taken into consideration when purchasing copyright, choosing titles to republish, or stocking shelves.

With this register, book-buyers and the Great Australian Public will benefit by having their say in our industry. Simply nominate all the books you wish you could get hold of, but that your bookshop doesn’t stock, or if it's already up there, use your voting powers. Share your idea on facebook or twitter, and get others to vote for it.

Support the Australian bookselling industry: nominate here today!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Novel Progress: 809 Jacob Street

I thought it might be worthwhile keeping a regularly updated record of this journey from finished novel to published novel, for my own sanity, and in case it helps others on this mad and hectic road to publication (I doubt that it will, so let's just go with saving my sanity).

So where are we up to? Well, I have a shiny manuscript all ready to go - a supernatural thriller of approximately 96,000 words.

This manuscript has been through the wash half a dozen times, been pulled apart by Paula, and slowly put back together again by me. The end result (final edit completed on the 6th of March, 2010 - boy did I have a scotch of two on that day!) is something I'm immensely proud of. It's a far, far better novel than when I first wrote 'The End.' Or even the second time I wrote 'The End.' Or the third time, the fourth, fifth......

My favourite character is still the old homeless bluesman, Joey Blue. Him and his pesky fly thoughts... He's such a poor chap, but he's the one who keeps feeding his demons, no one else. And not even I knew he had that song in him when this journey began:
Barstool eyes, in a dark-lit bar,
Juked-up wails of a jukebox cries,
to drown the despair that seeps from his soul....

But that's Joe for you.

So what's next, then? Well, I have just finished the second draft of my synopsis after Paula tore the first draft to shreds (thanks again, Paula :). She is going over it, no doubt with fangs and claws ready... But that's good, 'cos I want this to shine. Writing a synopsis is hard work. How the heck do you condense a whole novel, all ~96,000 words, into a couple of pages?? With a lot of groaning, that's how.

There are a lot of useful resources out there though, offering tips on writing a synopsis. Check out the following:
How to Write a Synopsis (Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent)

The Synopsis (BookEnds, LLC - A Literary Agent)

How to Write a Synopsis ( - Mark Gilks)

Writing a Novel Synopsis (Fiction Writer's Connection)

Writing a Synopsis from the Ground Up ( - Dee-Ann Latona LeBlanc)

Once the synopsis is done, I still have to write the cover letter. Boy oh boy, I'm beginning to think that writing the blasted novel was the easy step!
Meanwhile, the research into suitable US Agents continues... This is vitally important, as I want to make sure my novel reaches the right agent.
I tells ya, when I submit 809 Jacob Street that first time, even if I get a rejection, that's going to be a huge thrill - although I imagine that by the 20th rejection, the thrill would have probably faded...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Masters of Horror, here I come!

Awesome, the cover art for the MoH anthology has been revealed and I gotta say, it looks damn cool!

You'll find my story 'Fireflies of the Bushfire' nestled neatly inside. Publication date is scheduled for about April... more details soon.

In other news, I'm about 1/3 of the way through the copy edits of my novel and boy oh boy am I sick of this...... but hang in there Marty, nearly done. Just gotta add that final polish and then it's off to US agents we go.

A big THANK YOU to Paula, my editor extraordinaire, who has made this book so damn amazing. Hope those sunny Californian skies are looking after you well :)

Onwards and upwards Paula!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Being Scared...

So have you been scared lately..?

I don't mean scared for your life in the real world, cos that just sucks, really. I lived in Canberra (in one of the worst hit suburbs) when those bushfires ripped through the place and I was pretty damn scared then. The fire front reached the house accross the small cul-de-sac road from me before the wind turned it away (my short story Fireflies of the Bushfire, to be published this year, is based on that experience). Absolutely terrifying. This lil' ol' kiwi had never experienced anything remotely like an Aussie bushfire before that.

But I'm talkin' about the fun kind of scared! Y'know, that 'HOLY JESUS!' moment where you're just freaking the hell out and LOVING IT!

I used to have 3 crazy dreams on a semi-regular basis when I was growing up, one was about zombies chasing me, the next about T-Rex coming after me, and the last about Jason from Friday the 13th hot on my heels. All were pretty much unstoppable, and I used to wake up terrified. Not fun. Man, I'd be a psychiatrist's wet dream...

But no, that's not really the fun scared I'm talking about, either.

I reckon the most fun scared I've been was during Paranormal Activity--especially that scene where the lady's leg is-- well, I'd best not spoil it. But crap, that movie did a major number on me. Blair Witch frightened the heck outta me too, but PA was so much better. I saw this a few weeks ago and I reckon it's the spookiest movie I've ever watched.

Maybe I'm just a wimp.

How about in a book? That's much harder, although The Monkey's Paw by WW Jacobs was pretty damn terrifying. Novels? Hmm.....

There was a novel by Richard Laymon that freaked me out - can't remember what it was called but it was about this sicko who broke into this family's house and killed the parents, then went after the kids. That got me, but only because shit like that happens in our fucked up world. Goddamn people. My money's on the sharks.

(and don't even try with your flying tanks - they'll run out of fuel eventually and then where will you be? Yeah, you know it, punk)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welcome (belatedly) to the future!

So it's 2010.

I thought we'd all have those hover skateboards by now. You know the ones from Back to the Future? I've been looking forward to them for a while--well ever since I saw that flick.

But no. Not even a jetpack. I've got an iPhone but that hardly helps me to fly.

Boy, this future sucks. It's so much like the past. Only the date has changed. Where are the aliens? The wormholes leading to another universe? The wonderful revelations? I've been looking forward to so much but it's just taking too damn long to get here.

(And by the sounds of things, it's all gonna end in 2012, so my blasted jetpack had better hurry up or I won't have time to enjoy it! Huh? I hear you saying... Check out "2012: The Good, the Bad, and the Apocalyptic" by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis)

So anyway, what of this new year, 2010? I guess I should write some more stories seeing as how I have no completed ones left (I submitted 4 stories in the past year; 3 have been published/accepted for publication, and 1 is sitting on a shortlist. That's a good return). I also need to get my novel off to an agent or two, now that it's been through the cleaners and has come out shiny. Time to pull my finger out, stop pouting about my lack of a jetpack, and do some bloody work.

My muse has finally returned from his holiday too, the blasted shifty sideshow freak. God alone knows where he went--and I'm too scared to ask. He's got this look about him, a sparkle to his eye that wasn't there before. Maybe he got laid. Dunno. Don't want to know. But it means trouble for me 'cos he's been circling lately. Moving in closer like a Goddamn shark. He has sights to show me and I can see his fingers itching to peel back the curtain.....

Ah crap, here he is now.....