[sticky post]If You Got A Blacklist, I Wanna Be On It

Hi folks,

Exactly what it says on the tin, I write science fiction, horror and occasionally things that defy categorization, fandom tragic, unabashed lover of pop culture among other things, but this journal is for writing and fandom tragedy. (Also going to conventions and commiserating about books and television and books, all over industrial-strength drinks.)

This blog isn't very busy - most of my bookish and social activity happens over at Facebook, so  you might find more activity than the glacial stuff going on here.


I now have a website at www.clairemckenna.net. Go Forth.

December Roundup
I missed out on a monthly update (so much for committing myself to that) as there’s been so much going on. The Day Job has been kicking my ass, although once again I proved myself a harbinger of fate when I took the day off yesterday and we got our semi-terrorist incident (as Jim the guy in my place says, how come they only turn up when you’re gone?)

Turned out to be a crazy guy on ice and not isis (dude, back in my day people used to say they were in the Mafia to be extra eeeeedgy, but the one critical I had last year was similarly crazy only nobody said boo because he was white and a Collingwood supporter. And this guy was eating faces. GO FIGURE.) I can understand the awfulness of the drug - had training for that too. If I were a wingnut conspiracy theorist I would be super worried about why they’re pushing First Aid Training on us, *snerk*.

(The poor bloody people who got injured though. God, we spend so much money on bullshit and yet everything is drug and mental illness related. Where’s our Manhattan Project for that?)

Anyway point being is that crazy A Wyatt Mann got me some tickets to see Rogue One last year, and this year – last week - I saw The Last Jedi which I was a bit not certain of at first, but on reflection I really liked, and will see again I’m sure. Did I mention Thor 3? Liked that too. There was not, however, enough hours in my life to force Justice League upon me.

Wrapped up Mr Robot season 3 – so good. It’s really settled into the emotional cruxes between Dom/Darlene, Elliot/Robot/Tyrell and Whiterose with everyone. (I love Whiterose!!)

Stranger Things 2 met all expectations.

It’s the Christmas hiatus, so the only thing coming is Star Trek discovery, so with that note, I’m off to bed!

I Have Been To Brisbane
So, GenreCon. Flew up to Brisbane last week, although this was more a conference than a convention so there were less *room parties and social events* and more ships passing in the night. The venue was the Queensland Library, which I swear was a brutalist multi-storeys campus straight out of an old DOOM .wad, (The classic first person shooter was known for its severely blocky right-angles) or maybe the train station in Total Recall.

The city is of course, gorgeous. I spent 6 weeks there 10 years ago, but never got to see the outside of Griffith University. I hired those city-bike things (SO HEAVY) but if I’d had time and a real bike it would have been awesome. Maybe next time. I cycled around on those glorious bicentennial paths (So hilly! Much One Way traffic!) and perhaps next time will hire an ebike. I’m going back in January with Mum and kid in tow. I’m assuming it will be super-hot.

So, in terms of talks I spent the whole of the Saturday looking for the “Magic Sennhiesers” which apparently can pick up the hearing loop. Several library staff were involved in this search, with much “wait here for Ben”, so I can’t fault everyone’s commitment to accessibility, but we kept coming back to the fact that the hearing-aid T-Loop was essentially an 80s invention, like the keyboard tie and the cassette tape Walkman. The audio guy on Sunday (who may have been the mysterious Ben) didn’t have Bluetooth transmission capabilities, it all got very complicated, so I finally just plonked myself in the front row, and the talk was – after all that hassle – SO boring. But the seat was reserved and everything, so I was stuck there. I couldn’t walk out. There is a picture on Twitter with me on the front row on my phone, in a state of fossilization, watching the clock.

Fortunately Alex Adsett’s (Brisbane Literary Agent, really nice person, we’ve met before) talk about Contracts and Copyright was fantastic. She knew her stuff. It was interesting hearing from newbies asking questions, and Dumb Things People Do (huurrr, post the manuscript to Amazon).

I was still in conference mode when I flew back home for a work training session (which was hideously on the other side of town so I had to stay in the same hotel Continuum was in earlier this year,) for a morning start, and for once it was something interesting (i.e.: not the training session held by the guy who looks like a cross between Barak Obama and NBC TV-era Hannibal Lecter and might have been one of me team once but I cannae remember). This one was “Human Behaviours When Recognising Terrorists, Drug Mules And Other Baddies.” I have had a running, nearly 15-year-old joke at work about spaghetti westerns, and sweaty bad guys pausing at doorways while their eyes look about shiftily and jangly faux-Mexican guitar music plays… perhaps with a maraca.

I WAS NOT FAR WRONG *maraca shakes ominously* There really are tells that can’t be stopped.

On writing news. Well *Tenebrae Is Pretty Much Accomplished* Struggled to write a climax and then skipped it for an ending this week, and although the actual details of my MC sailing off into the sunset are in first draft literary note form, it’s a goddamn wrap.

So now I take a breather and do an edit. Or several.

Got one rejection for something so specific I cannot sell the goddamn story on anywhere. Put in a submission to something that is important but won’t pay me much, only that Leife (the editor) asked in person. She’s got a book coming out, “The Beast’s Heart” which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beasts perspective. We had a long chat about YA controversies in general – things like the Continent and The Black Witch and other things that got a dragging for being blindly clunky—

--and it reminds me as I write this of my Human Behaviours training, when most terrorists get caught out because they are so focused on NOT doing the wrong thing that they did stuff like walking face first into security poles and or walking in a conga-line through crowds when they were supposed to “spread out”, or doing the unconscious *brush* of the concealed weapon as they walk past security. All the YA books lately that have gotten into trouble and were written by people desperately pushing an anti-racism message upon the surface (Again, Carve The Mark, The Continent, Black Witch, American Heart? There were others) and ended up doing the literary equivalent of concealed weapon brushing and blank smart-phone screen twirling and reading the newspaper upside down.

--so that was interesting. Oh, I’ve missed going to conventions hand having those convos.

Had two “requests to submit” to something, one of which was not even One Of My Mates, so it was like a genuine request – but I’m so busy on Tenebrae I can’t really concentrate on a short story right now. I just feel that I need to get querying this novel soon and I won’t feel so relentlessly wounded from my last novel’s Failure To Launch And Subsequent Curbstomping. The one before that, and the one before that, and ad infinitum.

So that’s it at the moment. Oh, bought some roller skates, they were red, then I decided I wanted blue. Da da dee, da da dah…

Keeping the beat and bad company...
So it goes, spring has arrived here and already there’s Christmas tomfoolery in the supermarkets. I haven’t even planned that far.

So, what I’ve Consumed:

TV: Saw the first 4 eps of Star Trek: Discovery and am in the “not bad” camp, so will keep at it. I’ve always loved Jason Isaacs with the power of a thousand burning suns and Sonequa Martin-Green was familiar to me as The Walking Dead’s Sasha (where she was criminally underused until her last episode TBH) So there is that.

Season 2 of Preacher was a little bloodless, but there were some fun bits in it. Whatever the finale was, I can’t remember it.

Did a Game of Thrones watch-through. Still ship Sansa/Sandor, and not at all ashamed for doing it.

Had one of those days where I experienced a deep sense of loss that there was no Half-life 3.

Bought some books, read some books, namely Diana Gabaldon’s Cross Stitch (AKA Outlander) which I enjoyed and found it so close enough to what I’m doing at the moment – historical fantasy, hur hur hur – that I might make it a comp title (ie: when you have to describe your book to someone and you say, “oh, it’s My Little Pony meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”)

Comics: Read the first issue of Raising Dion, which is going to be a TV series shortly.

Moofies: Saw Blade Runner 2046 which was gorgeous and actually ended too abruptly. Raised a lot of questions about everything, every single SF trope in the world was in it, and they even had the garbage dump ships from Kurt Russell’s Blade Runner Side-Quell “SOLDIER” (the one where he was a replicant with a Tannhauser Gate tattoo, dumped on a windy planet and the director forgot to film enough romance scenes.) Jason Isaacs was in that one too, actually.

And What I did.

I’m on 60K of the Novel. This is like a milestone because 60K is like, minimum word count in any language. We’re really only in the start of the third Act so there could be an 80-90K ending here. Now we have to rescue some shit and lose an MC, and have a cathartic moment and by gosh, there will be a first draft done.

I need to finish up on a short story for a mate.

Went climbing with Helen Stubbs at the Altona Rock Climbing wall. Awesome but I did flip around a wall on an auto belay and come down hard enough I got tangled up and suffered a rope burn on my leg. It’s been 10 days and now it’s all scabby and itchy. Annoyingly I have not been able to climb as much as I would like and I’m losing some endurance on longer climbs. Maybe I need HRT.

That’s it. Next time I post the novel’s first draft will be done.

OMG, its spring
OK, so I'm not working on RIDING RAIN because I got sidetracked into another manuscript which features bloody wrists, lighthouses and A MURDERED WHORE'S GARMENT of which I'm halfway through and not blocked to shit the way RR made me about 4 weeks ago. I guess I don't have a middle grade kind of feeling at the moment.

I'm not being completely cappricious, I'm dividing my thinking time between ABUNDANCE, RR and err... it might be called VIGIL because it's the name of the town.. They are in the top rotation of Shit I Think About at the moment.

But I am halfway through VIGIL (up to 40K from the 10K it was back in the start of this month) and starting to realise I might have a finished MS at the end of November if I'm a GOOD GIRL. Maybe I can query around Christmas. I'd like to do that, as it will be 12 months since all my dreams of publication were cruelly ripped from my delicate little hands by the cruel storms of fate and the requirement for Gone Girl Clone-age. (Swoons mightily)

Chris, my little etzaz query doppleganger has had ALL REQUESTS and NO REJECTIONS. He's freaking the fuck out in the nicest way. I'm hoping it bodes well. I've been doing things like reading Manuscript Wish List and anxiouisluy scanning for "#MSWL Shit With Krakens, and any Crypotobiology really. With Romance." (HINT: Theres not a lot of folx wishing for that) I'm starting to head towards the pointy end of querying. I promised my previous agent I would show her my next project in those miserable few emails that one exchanges after a project has died and relationships are being quietly severed. But there was not much "#MSWL Shit With Krakens, and any Crypotobiology really. With Romance" on her Wishlist either so I need to gird my loins for another subscription to Querytracker.net. Mind you this site is FUCKING AWESOME and completely designed by someone who is only learning how to be human, obviously. If you can work it out, you get contacted by one of those Good Will Hunting digital security agencies, I swear.

Submitted my Single Story Of The Year - 2018 edition last month. Did I mention in the previous post? I forget. Hope the editors like it, I'm running out of time. MR MYCELIUM comes out in ECOPUNK on Sunday. I would have gone to the launch if I wasn't working...

Watched through all the past seasons of GOT.

Um, got a big-ass gear cluster on my old road-bike. ("BIGGER," I yell at the bike-guy. "It must be BIGGER!" Guy faints. In the distance, sirens).

Collected a lot of Typewriters for a writing project. Now have to find time to write some short stories on them.

Next I post here, I'll be on my way to Queenslands GenreCon.

Also - OMG, it's spring!!


Half Yearly Update 2017
Gosh, I update this so infrequently that it seems every time I look Back on a post it's like someone else wrote it. So, the last 8 months.

I got nominated for an Aurealis (again) and lost (again) although the lovely Kirstyn McDermott gave me one of her multitude of Ditmar runner up pins which now adorns my velvet jacket.

My one short story a year, 2017 version is launched in Canberra next month, at Conflux SF convention Ecopunk! is a Cat/Tehani production through Ticonderoga Press, and more details are via my website at www.clairemckenna.net

I haven't queried any novels this year (for shame) but I got the itch and promised Christopher Ruz like a bit of a Boasty McBoastface that all my queries get shitloads of agent requests from the get-go, and that I would fix up his rather dodgy query, no problemo. Naturally he was a very good Padawan and did exactly what I told him without a lot of fuss, and of course he got full requests from his preferred agents straight away! DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS POWER, YOUNGLING. I'm now emotionally committed to seeing "The God Factory" go places. His website is at www.ruzkin.com

Friends Bren McDibble (AKA Cally Black) and Cat Sparks got novels released this year: How to Bee, In The Dark Spaces and Lotus Blue respectively. All are getting great reviews. There's been quite a few other buddies who got their names up on marquee lights, for all that 2017 has been a global washout, there's been some small successes among good people.

Only a brief writers retreat this year, and a small one I had to hold hush hush with a couple of people. I didn't have the time to organise one of my 13+ people for an entire week ones. 2018 maybe. I am off to the wilds of Queensland for Genrecon in Novembetr though. Promised Helen Stubbs I'd go climbing with her.

Finishing up my One Story Of The Year for 2018, and then I go back to working on RIDING RAIN, ye olde current book. I have shelved ABUNDANCE for now, pending a very interesting solution to a previously insurmountable problem.


2017 - Carry On
It’s the first day of January, so time to make resolutions, to look back over 2016, to update.

For the first time in years I didn’t work NYE, much to the panic of everyone. (My exploits have become legend, from the trolley full of two way radios, to that one time I ended up on an industrial estate miles from the city and welcomed new year with a bunch of strangers on an abandoned train platform. Good times.) For the past frew days I’ve been Excel-wrangling the deployments and sign on sheets for a hundred people so that someone else can do it. Me, well with my first free NYE since I’ve had a child I slept mostly, got up to see some illegal fireworks from the balcony, then went back to bed.

2016 was a huge fizzle in terms of a lot of ways. OK, professionally on the writer side, I got nominated for an Aurealis award (and lost!) Only published one story. As yet, no novel. I can pretty much guarantee 2017 and 2018 are no novel years either so that’s a settled thing. OH WELL.

So, this year, work on That Book. As I said to Cat Sparks during Axe Creek, I’ve decided that ABUNDANCE will be the hill I die upon. Why waste time on small things that go nowhere?

I have a couple of short stories lined up to enter in competitions. One entry is going to necessitate me getting a UK/Ireland pub credit so we will try that.

On the personal side I want to get some more mountain biking in, buy my kid something decent so he can at last keep up, lose the five kilos that crept up over the winter and go on holidays somewhere. My parents are really ill at the moment. I kind of don’t want to make the decision to be away for 4 weeks and get The Call.

I’ve been watching the news about the Horror Clown business in the US. What an absolute embarrassment. Who knows what that will mean for the world? I know what it means for Australia. Every time something like this happens in the States, all our neuro-atypical right-wing politicians get in all their fucking Pennywise gear as if they too are the Horror Clown, (but forget that they are a bumpkin from outer Boganville where as the HC is a puppet for the alt-NWO)

So that's it. Another year over.

All right so I never played Pokemon Go
I should, but I never got around to it.

On TV: Finished FEAR THE WALKING DEAD which may reward those who stick with it. What a slow burning show!


Looking forward to: THE WALKING DEAD

Exciting things to happen: Zippo. Oh, I went to Conflux 12 which was nice, though 1/3 of that was spent in Cat Spark's house nursing a massive hangover and a Nicholas Cage pillow.

The year is half over, what the helllll???
 Time for a POOOST.

Okay, well there’s nothing much happening at the moment. I’m beavering away as much as possible with my current manuscript (What is this? Third Round? Fourth? I forget) I’ve pretty much ripped the guts out of it and done a rewrite of the first few pages. Now to convince work to give me time off so I can actually spend time working on it.

We have come back from holidays along the Great Ocean Road. With a 4WD no less. I had to consult the internet to work out how to escape a sticky situation involving mud and sand along the Old Coach Road: SAW IT! SIDE TO SIDE! It was awesome.

BOOKS: Finished off Mark Lawrence’s “Prince Of Thorns” while at the Cape Otway Lighthouse. I was aware of its problematic angles (A Black Man Has No Name) but once you put that aside it was entertaining and filled up two days of Cape Otway Internet Blackspot.

I’m currently reading something about the cholera epidemic, Power and….  a book on Psychological Warfare by the only author I was ever compared to. Sigh.

TELEVISION: Finished “Game Of Thrones” with a bang. I still ship Sansa/Sandor (the Hound) with the power of a thousand flaming suns. And Jon/Dany seems a bit Endgame, actually.

TV #2: OOOOH, I’m loving “Preacher” at the moment. Shipping Jesse/Cassidy enough to write fanfic of it perhaps. So fun and crazy. The fact it was Hubby’s ex-gf’s favourite comic doesn’t worry me at all. Hey, I’m like a massive Transformers nerd and even I can say the live action SUCKS.

Last of all, my Fat Fucking Fantasy decology is occupying brainspace. And I’ve just downloaded Pokemon Go. HELP ME JESUS.

The Just Right Principle
Here I was thinking I had to do an update, then I read last months post and realized that I didn’t have to update much at all. My concerns of last month are the concerns of this month.

So, errr, BREXIT, right? My friends in the UK with EU passports aren’t terribly happy about it. I’m interested to see how it affects the ten pound watch I want to buy (as I type the AUD is still about 50 cents GBP.

New TV shows sampled:

OUTCAST: I thought this one by the Walking Dead makers was a bit undercooked, actually. Like the kind of show where you have tons of development cash thrown your way but not enough time to actually write beyond stereotypes. I kind of gave up after the second episode. The acting and the filming was lovely, but the story needed some more layer and nuance beyond SATAN IS CUMMING

THE LAST SHIP: Almost the opposite in every way, the best-est and most wonderful ideas formed with the budgetary constraints of my local primary school. Did you know that wrinkly actresses need to be paid more? Well clearly they couldn’t afford her. I was hoping for the poor female lead who looked like she was suffering an allergic reaction to all her botox, HA and too-new facial peels (look, I too am a woman of advanced years, I too have an artificially induced inability to frown and that throbbing head vein post-plumping but YOU KNOW, MAN). It was like having a guy with an extreme six-pack and guys, well, they know how difficult that is to maintain like a normal human being without being a carb-free robot on the brink of ketone acidosis poisoning. So I was just worrying about the arctic wind on her face and how her injections hadn’t shrunk for like 4 months like she was melting like the guy from Robocop after he fell into a vat of toxic waste (This is a THING of great importance once you go down the road of injectables, kids. I cannot judge. But I can say that is exactly what happens. and I was waiting for her face to slide off. Which pretty much is how it goes in real life.)

So great idea. BUT SO LITTLE CASH. And such shoddy acting. Painful Painful. The captain and his inability to emote beyond TV soap.  Shots of the ship in the same LA harbor. Adobe-CGI, It’s gone into a third series. I might have to watch it for my post apoc fix, whilst continually crying.

PREACHER: FINALLY JUST RIGHT! Top notch acting, fun script, great cinematography, great direction, very Tarantino/Rogen, cute guys,  the most beautiful woman in the world (Ruth Negga) I am happy.

I’ll do a books read soon. But I am on super early fucking shift and I have to go to bed.


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