Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My goals for the near future:

Well, as always, I'm working to build up my short story repertoire. I'm starting to get a nice amount of short horror stories that are around the 4,000+ word limit More stories like that would be great.

I've also begun sending a few stories to magazines for potential publication. I've already had "A Note For Elizabeth" published in the Curtin student guild magazine Grok (2009, edition 4) here in Perth, as well as two poems "Friday Night Pyrotechnics" and "Motivation" in edition 5 of this same year. Since then I've sent a flash fiction, "Granite" and a short story "The Timekeeper" to a literary magazine called DotDotDash, also located here in Perth. I should hear back from them next month. Also, I was encouraged by a fellow writer to submit a short story to Reed Magazine over in San Jose, California. I sent in "The Butcher of Krankhafte", and I think it might be a while before I hear back from them, but I'm certainly excited at the potential prospect of a publication all the way over in the US.

I've also been scouring the web for magazines and publishers to look at in the future, and I've come across an Australian Sci-Fi and Fantasy magazine called Aurealis. I'm considering sending in "Flonkerton". I might also write something for the next edition of DotDotDash, as submissions for that have opened up, and my Creative Writing teacher, who's been very supportive of me all semester, is hopefully going to get me in contact with a friend of his, who is currently running a literary journal in its early stages. The idea is for me to write something and send it in, mention my tutor's name, and I should be ready to rock and roll.

I've had three online literary podcasts for quite some time now, Pseudopod, Escape Pod and PodCastle, none of which I've submitted my stories to yet. I'd love to, really, I would, but nothing I've written so far feels "right". So hopefully one of these days I'll get the creative juices flowing (pardon the cliche) and actually send something in to those guys. The concept is really cool, and I'd love to get in on that.

Another thing my tutor's got me thinking about is radioplays. My last Creative Writing assesment for the year is a five page (translates to five minutes) script. I've chosen a radioplay that's starting out quite well. When I started writing, I never imagined myself coming up with a realist radioplay where the central theme is religion. That's "The Garden". So I was talking with my tutor about radioplays last week, and he mentioned how popular they've become in New Zealand and Britain quite recently, and how it'd be worthwhile getting in touch with Australian radio stations (he mentioned ABC's Radio National), so that's another goal I'd love to work towards; a radioplay on national radio.

And I'm sure some of you are aware of my participation in next month's National Novel Writing Month (see previous blog for plot and details), and my goals for that have stretched beyond the simple 50,000 words. I'm getting into the mindframe where I will finish the novel, no niggling voice inside my head stating otherwise. Not even an imagination of my tutor perplexed at taking less than four or five years on a novel can deter. I've got a rough plot of nine "parts", each separated into about a dozen (or so) "chapters", nice and condensed, so it should be easy to belt through it. I've got pages and pages of plot summary, character names and brief descriptions and settings. In November, I write, regardless of what quality comes out, I'll make the backspace key my worst enemy.

In December, I'll edit. If that goes well, I'll start sending manuscripts off to publishers. I've found three that will accept unpublished novelists. The first choice is Allen & Unwin. They're based over in the eastern states of Australia, and they've got a section on their site called the "Friday Pitch". Basically, I send in my first chapter, and a week later, I'll know whether they'll look at it further or not. They're my first pick primarily because of the time frame. Fingers crossed that'll work out, otherwise, it'll be a quick knockback, no waiting around.

Then I'll try my luck with Fremantle Press. They're located in Fremantle (as strange as that sounds), driving distance from my home here in Perth. They'll take roughly two to four months. Their big bonus is that they're located in Western Australia, and they're dedicated to Western Australia. They only publish fiction that was written by WA residents, so that narrows the field down a bit. They've also published some successful science fiction novels. So they're not limiting writers to realist novels set in this state.

Then it's the UK based Macmillan New Writing sub-division of Pan-Macmillan, although they seem rigid on the contract, however, publishing a first novel with them would open things up for a second novel with them, and later novels with the parent company, Pan-Macmillan, an established writer's publisher. That's a definite plus side.

If they don't work out, I'll save up some cash, probably hire an artist, head over to and publish the novel myself. Although I'll look into that option a lot more when the time comes around, I know little of how I'd distribute the books.

On another note, I updated my "master file" of all my short stories, poems, scripts and works in progress. Over almost two years, I've written over 80,000 words and well over 400,000 characters of fiction. Which is comforting. I mean, this means that I could easily write a solid novel in a couple of years alongside Uni, with more thorough planning than NaNoWriMo and more effort put into the best writing quality possible.

Yep. I've got a lot to look forward to in the future.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo prep.

In less than a week I'll start writing "In the Valley of the Tempest" for the National Novel Writing Month in November. 30 days, 50,000 words, 1 novel. Right now I'm in my last week of University for the year, and I've got assignments looming left, right and centre. Last assignment is due next Thursday or Friday (I vaguely recall someone mentioning the 6th). Two 2,000 word textual analyses, seven film journals (3 pages each), twenty tutorial journals for Literary and Cultural Studies (this one shouldn't take long) and a five minute radioplay. (The Garden).

Once they're done I'll be able to sink my teeth into this novel. In the Valley of the Tempest is set in a fictional Steampunk universe in the city of Berwick which sits atop the edge of a valley where strange occurences take place.

"The tempest stirs. The city trembles. A man dies of unnatural causes."

The novel begins with Seth and Jesse shrugging aside their mutual respect for eachother and taking to the courtyard with knuckles bared. They fight to make history. The victor of the fight will be the youngest person to join an expedition out into the valley. The mysterious death of Grahame Thompson barely out of city limits at the edge of the valley has sparked furious debate as to what goes on down in the valley. Something in the valley has caused the untimely death of Grahame, and the Board of Academics has nominated Chief Detective Casper Bernstein to head the expedition. They wait with baited breath from the moment the team departs from Berwick Airport in the bitter cold pre-dawn hours of the morning.

In the Valley of the Tempest, you will find mountains of iron ore hovering metres from the ground as they resist the magnetic forces of the world. You will find lakes so deep, swimming with mechanical fish so grand you will forget they are machines. You will find secrets so dark that the death of Grahame is only a singular raindrop in a vast, churning, chopping ocean of troubles.

Coming November 2009.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Friday Night Pyrotechnics

Brakes failing, a crash,
I heard it from my IKEA living room,
my Snörk.

There were people on the street,
crowding around the wreck.

The nuclear family in flames,
trapped in their Japanese import,
trapped by the overbearing crowd.

No room,
There’s no room to escape,
They roast.

Fascination towards violence,
towards disaster,
no one rushes to save them,
no one calls for help.

Don't want to get their hands dirty.

They watch the show,
pyrotechnics, Friday night.

Forgot the popcorn.

And they just watch the smoke
mushroom skyward.

We're all the same, really,
except they're out there,
and I'm in here, by the window,

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Timekeeper

He sat in his immense throne of shimmering black obsidian. The Timekeeper, a tall and gallant man, held perfect posture, and gripped the arms of his throne with his bone-white fingers. He was gazing nonchalantly past the billowing gossamer curtains, out into the grey snowy skies, out over his metropolitan empire. He held in his hand a letter he had read through no less than a hundred times. He gave it one last glance before tossing it to the floor in disgust. It was a warrant for his arrest, signed by the High Chancellor, and approved by the seven other Chancellors of the Society. The Timekeeper's reign over the city had come to its appointed close, yet the Timekeeper, like numerous others before him, had grown dependant of his power, and refused to step down and hand the city over to the apprentice in waiting. He sat in his throne, well aware that the High Chancellor was climbing the very steps of the Timekeeper's tower, with twenty of the city's most disciplined guards in tow.

The Timekeeper rose from his throne, and with elegant strides he walked across the room to his liquor cabinet. He poured an amber toxin into a crystal glass before raising the glass to his thin, dry lips and letting the warm potion slide down his gullet. He turned back to glance at the door; a magnificent darkwood mass, framed by a tall, golden archway.

Five hundred steps, the High Chancellor and his guards had climbed, yet five hundred more remained. There was not a drop of sweat on his brow, but rather, the furrowed lines of determination. The Timekeeper glanced at the door, the sole entrance and exit. He knew there was no escape.

The Timekeeper took another gulp of his beverage, savouring the smooth taste as it swelled and blossomed in his mouth.
“It shouldn't have to come to this” he said to himself, with bitterness deep set in his voice.
The drink in his hand was imported Clementine Whiskey, no ordinary alcohol, and it had already begun biting down on the Timekeeper's mind.
“The apprentice should have-” He left the sentence hanging, his eyes glazed over, as he became lost in a reminiscent trance. “The apprentice...”
He drank deeply, and memories from his past came gushing forth in brilliant clarity, yet these memories rolled before his mind for the last time.

He drank, he remembered with a burning, agonizing intensity, and moments later... he forgot. Where and who. How and what. Such was the tragic beauty of the Clementine grog.

“The apprentice should have been here a week ago, to relieve me of my duties. The apprentice should have been here with me, with the eight Chancellors of the Society, but he was not.” The Timekeeper spoke as if poisoned with a truth serum, not intending to say what he did, but compelled to regurgitate his thoughts and memories to the empty room. The apprentice wasn't in the tower, so the Timekeeper remained until such a time where the Council thought it suitable to terminate his contract.

The Timekeeper sucked in the remaining liquid from his glass and walked over to the fireplace. With a strike of flint against the stone wall of the fireplace, sparks flew onto the dry logs. He sprayed the whiskey from his mouth onto the little fires, providing them with enough juice to grow and flower and latch onto the logs.

“The council's guard found no trace of my successor. They couldn't find his bloody corpse and twisted limbs, his broken face and ripped jugular. Tumbled over Mariam's Ravine. I wash the red juice from my fingers and the stains from my clothes.” He threw his glass into the fireplace, giving in to a mischievous chuckle, breathing in the alcoholic fumes that emanated from the flames.

He drank some more, he lifted the bottle clumsily to his lips, not caring to wipe away the dribble down his chin, not caring that he sloshed the bottle and stained his robe.
“I tutored the apprentice. I taught him everything he knew, from everything I knew! Yet he failed to understand the power and responsibility as I did. He was irresponsible! He would have been incapable of lasting a week in my job, let alone a decade!” The Timekeeper spat in frustration before staggering across to his desk. He picked up some documents and ditched them aggressively into the fireplace. “Bastards!” He yelled, clutching his desk for support.

“They told me I should sit tight, and they'd come for me once they'd sorted this mess out. They assured me everything was in order. They lied to my fucking face. They knew I'd done something to the apprentice, they just needed to buy time to forage for evidence.” The Timekeeper laughed malevolently and grabbed the stoker from beside the fireplace. With aggression pumping through his muscles, the Timekeeper flailed the stoker dangerously along the wall, knocking down photographs, paintings and certificates. He flung the stoker across the room, where his pent up aggression bounced harmlessly off the wall.

“The Chancellors, they were like ravens. Vicious, vile creatures of prey. They lied, and I believed them. They hadn't figured out my murder just yet, but it was only a matter of time before they fabricated documents and had me carted away. I wasn't just going to hand down my legacy. Did they expect me to just hand over my life's work, the result of a lifetime of my own sweat and blood, to an amateur? Did they expect me to walk away?” He continued to drink himself into a stupor, further down the path of regret, of which he could never return.

The Timekeeper howled a mournful, melancholic cry of which only tortured and wounded beasts may sound. The Timekeeper was as ruthless and vicious a leader as they come, yet his devastation proved that even he, even the Timekeeper was not immortal, even the Timekeeper could suffer as we do, we men of flesh and blood.
“They hated me, they loathed me. If they could have, they would have killed me.” He grappled the table, and in one swift motion, he upturned it, sending the numerous foreign objects on it soaring through the air. The Timekeeper's ornate silver knife letter opener, reached its apex somewhere high above his head, and came down penetrating the stone floor with its sharpened tip remaining embedded in the ground. It joined the rest of the clutter on the floor.

Another swig, and the Timekeeper became wilder and more aggressive as he sunk further into inebriation. In the chaos and confusion, his memories came faster, a violent blur piercing his mind, cleaving it into millions and billions of fragments, pulling the synapses apart and bestowing upon the Timekeeper the mother of all migraines.

He stumbled to his knees, mumbling unintelligible curses. The High Chancellor and his Guards' echoed footsteps amplified exponentially, they were here. The footsteps were like hammers bludgeoning upon the Timekeeper's eardrums, causing him to writhe and recoil in agony. They came to claim him. They came to take his tortured body from the wreckage that was his office.

“No...” The Timekeeper whispered, his past flashing before his eyes, his mind destroying upon itself. His blood flooded his ears and mouth, it dribbled from his nostrils and tear ducts, his cheeks flushed with a violent shade of indigo.

The High Chancellor wrenched open the door to the Timekeeper's office.
“No!” The Timekeeper said, pinkish warm blood bubbled and spat from his mouth.
“Hello Timekeeper” The High Chancellor said, with a hint of malice intoned in his voice. “As you are undoubtedly aware, I've come to arrest you.”
“NO!” The Timekeeper reared up, roaring in anguish, for he knew that he would rot for an eternity in an unsanitary cell if the High Chancellor had his way today.

The Timekeeper mustered all his remaining energy, hauled himself from the floor and leapt through the gossamer curtains and off the edge of the balcony out of the tower, the wind rushed past his face. People on the street looked up in shock and horror, the High Chancellor ran to the balcony, and watched the old man's body tumble around in the wind.

He fell high and he fell hard, dead on impact. All the High Chancellor could see was the pile of rags of the Timekeeper's robes. He rushed to the stairs, running down them as fast as humanly possible. He barged open the doors of the tower, and leaned over the Timekeeper's body. The High Chancellor shifted the Timekeeper's robes, needing to look into his face, his eyes, but there was no face to be seen. Nor was there a body, either. The robes seemed void of any mass or life entirely. The High Chancellor lifted the robes into his arms, at which point he could feel something moving in the robes. He untangled the bundle, and was greeted with the slight whimper of a perfectly healthy baby child.

“Blessed be the Timekeeper” The High Chancellor uttered to himself in disbelief. He lifted the child in the robes above his head and spoke to the crowd of onlookers. “Friends, my dear friends, we have witnessed a miracle today. A new Timekeeper is born. Long live the Timekeeper!”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Garden

In the garden, where the flowers grow,
Where the earth runs rich with blood and water,
The trees grow strong and old and wise,
And bare the sweet fruit of purest daughter.

The streams run pure and crystal clear,
And twist through the garden a steady flow,
A sleepless journey of deepest blue,
In the garden, where the flowers grow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

STC Literature: Brief Introductions

Hello all,

My name is Shane and I'm a writer. Some of you may recognise me as such, or as my alias, WritersBlock (on some sites) or perhaps as STC on others (i.e. here). Basically, I've been writing short stories and poetry for almost a couple of years now. I'm studying creative writing at University, and I'm really hoping it'll take me places. I've written quite a few short stories for competitions on Newgrounds, of which I've won or placed in quite a few, as well as judged quite a few other writing competitions on the site. I've also started on two novels, which have both temporarily (I hope) run dry, with a third one in the planning stages for November's "National Novel Writing Month", or NaNoWriMo, as it is more commonly known. I've also been published in the last two editions of my Uni's student magazine, one for a short story and another for two poems, and I've sent other stories off to other magazines for future prospects.

I basically hope to keep my literary plans up to date on here, as well as perhaps my current readings and my extended thoughts on writing techniques, amongst other things. And most of my stories, of course. I'd be nowhere without them! So, yeah, here's my little pocket of cyberspace in which those of you interested in my writings and other such musings can access it all.