State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award 2012

Are you a budding writer?

Are you aged 18 to 25 and live in Queensland? Enter your short story of 2,500 words or less in the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award 2012 and you could win $2,000 and career launching opportunities.

Submissions close 13 July.

The competition

The judging panel will select the winner of the Young Writers Award 2012, the first runner up and four highly commended entries.

The judging panel consists of The Courier Mail Arts Editor Nathaneal Cooper, Brisbane Writers Festival Director Jane O’Hara, author Sue Gough, and novelist and former Young Writers Award winner Alasdair Duncan.


The Young Writers Award winner, first runner-up and four highly commended entries each receive prize packs.

Prizes include: 


Hop to it! All entry details here.

Some genre news and links

There’s been some interesting bits and pieces cropping up around the web just lately. First off, you may remember I was very pleased to discover that my story, Punishment Of The Sun, from the Dead Red Heart anthology is going to be included in Ellen Datlow’s Honorable Mentions that will be appearing in The Best Horror of the Year volume four. The HM stories actually listed in the book are the top fifty from a massive Honorable Mentions list that Ellen compiles. She’s just released the full list of 608 Honorable Mentions, which is the best of what she’s read in 2011. I have no idea how she manages to read so much, but bless her for doing do – Ellen Datlow is an absolute treasure and a giant in her field. The full list of 608 is here. And there’s a lot of Aussies on there.

Secondly, there’s a new genre convention coming. The first one is in Sydney, arranged by the Australian Writer’s Marketplace. It’s called, fittingly enough, GenreCon. From the website:

GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore.

I’ll definitely try to get along to that one, especially as it’s relatively local for me.

Lastly, there’s this:

It’s a survey collecting votes for the Independent eBook Award. I’m not really sure what the Award is and I’m having trouble finding out much about anything to do with it, to be honest. But it’s drawing attention, hopefully, to independent and small press publications, which is a good thing. From the site:

Nominations are open to an independent author or independent/small press. For purposes of this award, we are defining a “small press” as follows:

1. Publisher does not charge authors for publication, and is fully responsible for all production of the book
2. Publisher produces fewer than 50 titles a year
3. Publisher is publishing original work, not predominately public domain titles or Private-Label rights titles
4. Publisher is independently owned, not part of a larger corporation.

Authors and publishers are not allowed to vote for themselves and will be disqualified for doing so. They’re trying to make this as transparent and fair as possible, but it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. And yes, for point of reference, my books do qualify under their definition of small press. I really wish there were some further links or references on that survey page, though, so we could find out more about who these people are and what they’re doing. If you know any more, please leave a comment below!


Post-apocalyptic short story podcasts at Wily Writers, edited by me

Wily WritersYou should know by now what a fan I am of podcast short fiction. I wrote about my favourite podcasts a while back. I also wrote here about giving generously to podcasts you enjoy, as the stuff they produce is usually free, but the writers and podcasters need to be paid for their work. My own fiction has been podcast a few times now – I read my story Crossfire for Outlandish Voices, Pseudopod released my original short story, The Seven Garages Of Kevin Simpson in their episode 242 and Wily Writers have podcast two of my stories – a reprint of Stand Off and my post-apocalyptic yarn, Declan’s Plan, which co-won Wily Writers Short Story Contest. Stand Off was also included in Night Mantled, Volume 1 of The Best Of Wily Writers.

And that neatly segues to my reason for posting today. I was very honoured when Angel McCoy, the power behind Wily Writers, asked me to guest edit a themed month for their podcast. The theme of my month was Post-Apocalypse/Dystopia. I read a lot of really good stories and it was hard to pick the two winners. I’ll blog a bit later on about the process of reading, judging and editing for that, and my thoughts on the subject. Hopefully it’ll help both myself and other readers here when we submit our own fiction to any publication.

In the meantime, I did select two winning stories. I wanted strong stories, with good ideas, powerful characters and a tangible sense of place. But I also wanted two stories very different from each other, to explore the theme as fully as possible.

The first story is up now:

Bloodstone by R.B. Payne

Even horror writer J.P. Bloodstone is unprepared for the actual end of the world. Stranded in Beverly Hills, he discovers something far worse than decomposing zombies, vampiric aliens, or infected mutant motorcycle-riding killers.

As I wrote on the Wily Writers site about this story:

I really like the voice of “Bloodstone.” It evokes all kinds of classic writerly angst, like the misanthropic Hunter S. Thompson. Imagine someone like that on their own in a post-apocalyptic world, and you’ve got the start of this story. Couple that with a classic bit of writer/reviewer animosity, and the bones of the story are in place.

This piece is well written with a strong character and an excellent description of the post-apocalyptic world. It also cleverly uses the character to explore possible reactions to an apocalypse, while the reality in this case is a lot less exciting. There’s humour here as well, in the character and the situation.

All Wily Writers stories are published on the site in text as well as podcast, so whatever your preferred format, the option is there. Bloodstone is a great story, read by the excellent Philip Pickard (who also did a great job reading Declan’s Plan for me).

Find the story here.

I’ll post about this again when the other winning story goes up, then I’ll post about the process of judging and editing after that.

And thanks again to Angel McCoy for inviting me to be a part of this. As a writer, it was fun to be on the other side of the fence for a change.


Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2011 Results

SnoopyThe Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is one of my favourite literary events. It’s a brilliant idea. It stems from the awful writing of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. You probably think you’ve never heard of him. But I can almost guarantee you have. Here, see if this is familiar:

“It was a dark and stormy night;”

Yep. You know him. But did you know just how bad he was? Here’s the rest of that line, from Paul Clifford (1830):

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

Holy crap.

It’s writing like that which gave rise to the contest. During his studies Professor Scott Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University unearthed the source of that famous line, “It was a dark and stormy night”, as being the opening of the Edward George Bulwer-Lytton novel, Paul Clifford. And it is a very famous line. After all, Snoopy uses it all the time and that Beagle knows his shit.

For all his hideous writing skills, Lytton coined some phrases we all know well. Among them “the pen is mightier than the sword”, “the great unwashed”, and “the almighty dollar”. He’s had an impact, has Bulwer-Lytton.

So Professor Rice, with the help of San Jose State University, has, since 1982, put together the contest which seeks the worst opening lines to the worst of all novels. You can learn all about the contest here:

Meanwhile, the 2011 results are in. The winner this year is the shortest entry to ever win the contest. It comes from Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, WI. (Yeah, I thought that was a children’s clothing line for people with more money than sense, but apparently it’s a place too.) Here’s the winning line:

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.

Top work, Sue. Congratulations.

Rodney Reed of Ooltewah, TN takes out the runner-up prize with this one:

As I stood among the ransacked ruin that had been my home, surveying the aftermath of the senseless horrors and atrocities that had been perpetrated on my family and everything I hold dear, I swore to myself that no matter where I had to go, no matter what I had to do or endure, I would find the man who did this . . . and when I did, when I did, oh, there would be words.

There are other winners in several categories (Adventure, Crime, Sci-Fi, Vile Puns, etc.) and they’re all listed on the contest site here. Go and have a read. They’re hilarious.


Win a copy of Dead Red Heart

You’ll remember I’ve mentioned a couple of times that my short story, Punishment Of The Sun, is in the new anthology of Australian vampire stories, Dead Red Heart, from Ticonderoga Publications. Talking to the publisher recently, I asked if they’d be interested in giving a copy away to a lucky reader here. They said yes.

So if you’re interested in reading a fantastic tome packed with 33 stories about vampires in Australia, it’s as easy as this: Leave me a comment, telling me something interesting about vampires, and the one I find the most interesting by the end of the week will win the book. Hint: your interesting “facts” about vampires don’t have to be true. They can be, but I’m open to anything, so get commenting.