OK, I Therapy Shopped, I feel better now.
clairemckenna
Welp-o-Rama, that last post was a lot of self pity!

Luckily I discovered the reason why - a terrifically shitty cold virus was being passed about at work. Half the roster was floored by it. And the virus limited one’s “Get Over Problems” gland severely, with other people losing the, plot in the middle of their shift, etc etc.

After three days of feeling awful, I’m a bit more on track. I’ve broken through a sub-plot hump with my manuscript, did a whole heap of pity-shopping and bought THREE WATCHES (alright, two were ten-buck skeletons, and the last was an entry-level “Decent Watch”, a Seiko 5 Automatic. You know, I could be asked by a watch snob and there would be sneering, but not too much sneering.

(I also bought a Tag Heuer and an analogue Baby G in the past 6 weeks. I think I’m having some kind of stress-obsession manifesting as watches at the moment).

The Booker Prize Shortlist has come out. I haven’t even got around to doing more than toe-dipping on the last lot due to the Much More Interesting Story Better Told Conundrum. A recent forum on Skeleton Watches (for the metaphorically inclined) said that even though skelly watches were interesting to look at - all those mechanics exposed! - eventually everyone would long for a dial that would just tell the time. Same with literary fiction I suppose. Eventually you get bored with language mechanics against the real purpose of a book - to tell a story.

As for stories well told: A comic book I was following, Sins Of The Wreckers, has gone into hiatus 3 issues in. Nothing new since Feb.

And I finally got around to seeing Jurassic World - AKA the Godzilla movie Godzilla should have been. Cheesy and self referential and kinda excellent, big female hero scenes (much appreciated) Bechdel Test passing, Eye Candy and I did not fall asleep as I did in Jurassic Park 3.

Avatar 2 is apparently coming out in Christmas next year. Look, I’m gonna see it. I’m not a snob. And I’m looking forward to Captain America - Civil War.

I did see Batman Vs Superman.  Did I mention that in a earlier post? Too lazy to fact-check. I needed more reasons for Batman to suddenly become friends with Supes other than their mothers shared the same names. That was dorky and stupid. STUPID. No Bruce/Clark oppositional development for narrative tension (ie: BFFS, oh noes!) It needed more gay. I’m sorry, but it did.

The Slough Of Despond
clairemckenna
It’s been a while since I blogged, mostly because I have been waiting for something to blog about that isn’t sad-sacky and a bit negative.

But what the hell, lets wallow!

After the frenetic pace of last year, the book-thing has gone into a bit of a chilling phase.  Read into that what you must.  So my confidence in that regard has bottomed out. I thought that by now everything would be great. PLOT TWIST: IT ISN’T.

I’m writing another novel - fortunately I completed the Shittiest Of Drafts, so writer’s block isn’t on the cards. I don’t know where my career will be in August. I just don’t know. I could be back on the query train again. I’ve been here before, and I know how quickly things fall apart.

I was up for an award, in Brisbane last month, but I didn’t get it. Nobody on my table won anything. It was pretty fucking depressing. “A Name!” I yelled at Joel, who’s small press Best Novel nomination was taken from him by a Big Five airport novel whose movie rights had been was optioned by Brad Pitt. “A Name and Money! Money!” I didn’t even have a novel. Only a shitty short story. I got really drunk. I got so drunk, which was hard because there was No Wine Allowed On Good Friday In Queensland. I found a room party. I got drunk. And depressed. We aren’t allowed to be depressed. But I was. And the next day I was depressed and so hung over and had to fly back to Melbourne like that.

Then my great short story I wrote back in March made it up to an editor’s desk at a major Magazine. He passed with a form letter. So Depressing.

A couple of days later, Cat Sparks managed to bully another acquisitions editor into saying he would look at a novella for this big-ass website if I chose to submit one. Considering this guy has never accepted anything of mine ever, it seems to be the greatest time-suck of all time, but I feel horrible to Cat if I put her effort to waste.

Yeah, so I could use a break right now.

EIGHT IS ENOUGH
clairemckenna
Not much news after a month, back to the bump and grind of the day-job.
Reading-wise I finished SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson and if you havent read it LOOK AWAY NOW. It was brilliant up until we discovered the Seven Eves of our bunch, and then it took a bit of a falter (though it was cool to find out What Happened Next, there was a sense of a Very Large Idea compressed into a too-small space.)
NO SERIOUSLY LOOK AWAY. Okay, my tut-tut science innacuracy concerns the "eigth" member of the Eves stating that she has reached menopause and cannot contribute to the new human race. Now as you and I know, a fertilised egg will grow on anything including fallopian tubes, intestines and stomach linings, (AND EYEBALLS DEAR GOD) the buggars don't even need a uterus, but it helps. A very recently post menopausal uterus is still better than nothing. And since Luisa could happily borrow someone else's egg and throw in her own chromosomes (the Eves have this technology on board their ISS-cum-asteroid) take some hormones and viola. So the contention that she couldn't have kids was so 1989, dude. (Also they had a few frozen bodies lying around. If you're not too squeamish, they could have Jurassic Parked the lot of them)
So anyway, it's a minor quibble. I did enjoy Seveneves a lot.
Also achieved Peak Transformers Comic. The Two Special Edition Issue #50's of the Transformers came out this week (the concurrent volumes Not!RID and MTMTE have both reached this half-C milestone after 4 years). I'm looking forward to reading 24 issuses of MTMTE in one hit. This "season" has been difficult to enjoy in its piecemeal comic issue format.
I'm off to Brisbane next week!!!

Work Is Coming
clairemckenna
My Annual Leave draws to a close, both more and less productive a time off than I hoped it would be. I had another round of edits on my novel (mostly dangly plot things: “Why isn’t Main Character more scared of X event?” and I am all, hmm, yes, I remember this thing they call FEAR, I think it might have been way back in 1991 and it was a hot April day but I have not known of it’s like since…)

(Well I like, there was that time in 1995 as well, but I was too busy running to take much notice.)


Which leads me to think, how do we experience fear? I become very cold and rational. Some people just fall apart or freeze up. Some people get Real Angry!!1!! I depends who’s counting on us I suppose.

Anyway, to reading matters. On recommendation of either Jason Nahrung or Jason Franks - it was a *Jason*, I got a copy of Paola Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife”. Since I’ve read his other books and LOVED THEM TO BITS, I’d place it sort of a generation or two before Ship Breaker and Wind Up Girl. It’s more 2050 rather than 2150, when a lot of the US states go LOL, I’m splitting off from the union and kind of forget that in this age of diminishing water supplies, the state that gets the Colorado river first GETS ALL OF IT. So it’s a showdown between Nevada and California, with Arizona getting the short end of the stick in terms of water. The biggest image that stuck with me is the idea of “Clearsacs” which are a water reclamation bag people use. Piss in one end, drink out of the other. These things are so ubiquitous that the old Claearsacs are blowing about the desert and getting stuck in the cactuses.

Last of all, some decent news. I received an Aurealis nomination for The Marriage Of The Corn King. I’m up against some stiff competition. (Notably Kaaron and Sean and Joanne) so I’m a long shot, but it’s worth me heading up the Brisbane for the award night afterparty. Yeah!

Reading Roundup
clairemckenna
Through nobody’s fault but mine I haven’t managed to complete a 2015 round-up post or a New Year post! Well, that bird has flown, so onto some interesting things I’ve done and seen over the last couple of months.

Spoilers may happen, but I will be as vague as possible.

I finished watching the JESSICA JONES TV series (or maybe I have one more episde to go - I forget). This superhero Private Investigator doesn’t follow the “ALIAS” comic too closely except in set design and certain nods to the audience (the guy getting thrown though the glass door in the opening scene, for instance, follows the comic precisely). And the Anti-Charles Xavier dude Kilgrave/Hope plot is clearly based on one of her cases involving another superhero in the comic.

So anyway, like Alias-The-Comic, Jessica Jones does take the odd pains to remind us that it is in the same universe as the Avengers/Iron Man/Thor/Hulk and even, (because getting bought by Sony doesn’t mean the property won’t come back to Marvel Studios one day), the X-Men. BUT SO SUBTLE. “We got invaded by aliens last year!” Trish-Not-Ms. Marvel reminds us. “The Big Green Guy,” says Jessica. “You’re one of them!” said the baddie, who may have voted for the Mutant Registration Act. I did enjoy it. It’s got the same Watchmen-level darkness, and Jessica is clearly a female Rorschach.

Seeing as gritty PI comics was on the reading cards, I bought the first collection of BLACKSAD. Originally published in French, it’s essentially hardboiled detectives meets Maus, featuring the cat-detective Blacksad, and the menagerie of down-and-outs and superbads he encounters while working as a Private Investigator. Such a terrific collection! Don’t be fooled by the animals in it, the series is very adult, very European SBS World Movies. Take from that what you will.

On books, I’ve downloaded heaps of samples over the month, and gone through them. The Winner Is: (drumroll please) MR SPLITFOOT, Samatha Hunt wrote a terrific bit of American Gothic Weirdness that I ended up buying the full of, and reading within a day.

And that’s it!

I just realised every comic I just posted has a woman on the cover... Yeah Baby
clairemckenna
I’ve been insanely busy since I last posted, but it doesn’t seem like it, because what I’ve actually produced is behind wraps and bars and is totally a team effort and won’t see the light of day for a while.

This time of year is really quiet convention and get-together wise. I have heard nothing! Cat Sparks finally released her news about LOTUS BLUE, which we’re all going to read the shit out of when it comes out. We were propping each other up with Facebook messaging, as I was leaving my old agent (and getting a new one) while she was on submission to publishers. It’ll be published by Skyhorse next year.

What else have I been doing? What else? As usual, reading comics.



This is ALIAS, which has become the basis for the new Jessica Jones TV series. It’s insanely good. It’s in the same Marvel Universe as Iron Man, Captain America, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D - you know, the big tentpole movie guys. I’m not big into superhero comics, but Alias is more in the style of Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN, in that it’s more a po-mo discourse on the whole idea on what it is to be a failed costumed superhero doing other stuff. (As a failed (ahem) writer I completely got what it was to be Jessica Jones, who has super powers and superhero friends, but  only distantly so, and still has to call the same shitty telephone line into the Avengers house as every other citizen.)

The noir plot in the beginning (woman finds out bad shit - is on the run) reminded me a lot of HIGH CRIMES, the Monkey Brain Comic series that I started early this year and need to pick up again one day.


Interestingly, ALIAS is quite cognizant of the universe it shares with the X-Men, so there are some ideas of supers being a minority group with the same social challenges as being gay/black/disabled/Muslim.



Since I was on a Superhero catch-up lately, I’m trying to fight the gods of Shitty Comixology Download speeds and complete the New Avengers edition of SUICIDE SQUAD Vol #1. Essentially all the DC comics B-and-Z grade forgettable bad guys, oh, and Harley Quinn, whose entire repertoire and team interaction seems to be “I’m Howling Mad Murdock With Boobs, LOL”. I am informed this is technically her shtick in all incarnations, it will be interesting to see what Margot Robbie does with her in the upcoming movie.


I am All Caught Up with SAGA. Now this comic is what I’m talking about, Willis. I’ll do a bigger write-up later to give some length and depth to this blog. The storyline has slowed down somewhat since the family got separated, and plot lines have been dropped inexplicably (like the gay reporters), but maybe it’ll pickup.



TRANSFORMERS: so many series, if this wasn’t my main fandom it would be hard to keep up with. Pity the fool who wants to jump on board. This Massive Massive Undertaking occasionally stops to dwell on some “jumping on point for new readers” palaver, where all ten thousand characters introduce themselves again a.k.a lets-read-the-unabridged-Mahabharata, but seriously, there’s only one spot to start, and that’s at the beginning. At the moment I’m waiting for the big Issue #50 events for both the MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE and NOT-RID lines (these are two different storylines running concurrently.)

So I’ll write about that, too.

More story! Weather talk!
clairemckenna
Well, hopefully by the end of this week I will have finished a submission for Fablecroft’s new anthology (My vote was for calling the antho “Trigger Warning”, though it might be something a little more in your face. Although In Your Face was also a title suggestion!)

For anyone not living under a rock, I have managed to get another literary agent. It’s early days.We’ll see how that goes.

On the self publishing experiment, it was incredibly enlightening to see the interconnections between genre, cover design, content, promotions and marketing. SO MUCH WORK, and obvious sales reactions when you don’t have the time and energy to push it. This November I’ll be pulling everything out of Kindle Unlimited and going “wide” but forgetting about it, too. “Secret Story” was really meant to psychologically tide me over the disappointments of sacrificing a huge project to "the trunk" and moving on to other pastures. That project might also end up SP, or I’ll give it to a small press, later. So we’ll see how that goes too.

Melbourne weather has really been picking up the last few days, hot hot hot. We’ve already had a few destructive fires out in the country due to planed fuel-reduction burns getting out of control. Climate change doesn’t care about your devil's advocate data, good sirs. The days of burning off in a wet October doesn’t count when Octobers are hot and windy, now. I’m just happy to be back on the bike with this glorious sunshine. Now to get fit enough to tackle French Island next year!

Conflux 11 wrap-up, blink and you'll miss it!
clairemckenna
I am BACK from my whirlwind tour of Canberra and the Conflux 11 convention. I might have spent more time in the car (16 hours, 1400 kilometers) then I was at the actual convention (3 hours, not counting the other 3 last night having drinks at the local) thank goodness for cruise control, that’s all I can say.

So I caught up with everyone, (and I will apologize for spelling now) Cat Sparks, Yartiji Green, Dirk Flintheart, Ian McHugh, Shauna O’Maera, Kaaron Warron, Liefe Shalcross, Lucy Sussex, Julian, David McDonald, the peeps from Satalyte Publishing inc. Steve (who gave me a free DL token for Jack Dann’s JUBILEE ebook) Liz G from Ticonderoga, her twin Sister Tehani from Fablecroft Books, Donna Hanson, The Other Ian, and a whole heap of folks I waved at and have not forgotten.

I had my first RELEASE THE KRAKEN cocktail at Shorty’s Bar, which is a spiced rum, cloudy apple juice and Ginger Ale thingy which tasted great.

So for my book haul:

The actual roadtrip was uneventful, but every roadhouse and truck-stop had Damn Fine Coffee, even from the machines. I can’t say I had a bad one at all. Roadkill involved the full selection of Australian Wildlife: Several kangaroos, both grey and red sub-species, a koala, a couple of wombats, some possums of various species, something that could have been a fox, smears of I-don’t-know-what-the-fuck, a wallaby and a sheep.

This finishes the years conventioneering. Brisbane Natcon is on next March. Rock n Roll!

Post-Retreat, Infinity and Beyond...
clairemckenna
The retreat was fantastic, thanks for asking!

I picked up Cat Sparks from the airport, and we bitched about the publishing industry until Bacchus Marsh (“Why does everything remind me of drinking?” says Cat) The bitchery took some time as I took a wrong turn and into the Essendon Airport Historical Zone, which is basically all the WW2 and 1950s sheds/hangars/buildings preserved for historical reasons. It was like taking a step back into communist Russia.

The farm we stayed in was deep into lambing season. Two wood fires and a dodgy central heater kept us all warm. As a matter of fact I got very little writing done, but it was good to be away from it all. We may have found our forever home (not as good as Phillip Island’s Sunderland Beach, but lovely all the same. We’ll be back in 6 months!!

(no subject)
clairemckenna
Better do a public update.

(PS: ignore typos in document. Too long, Didn't Edit)

What have I said publically? Oh, New Year! It's almost September.

YARD got a place in the 2014 Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. YESSSS. Need to do a horror short and get it published in the next couple of months to make 2015.

I am looking forward to the end of winter, it's been dreadfully cold this year, NOS-cold. Nipples Of Steel.. I've organised a writer's retreat to Ballarat - 9 of us are going, for a WHOLE THREE NIGHTS! It's a farmhouse west of Melbourne, about 20 minute drive from town. We were going to write by firelight but chickened out and ordered $150 worth of central heating like a bunch of wusses.

Unfortunately my career has taken a sideways step, there has been a parting of ways with the agent. Long story. Best not to say. But definitely looking forward to querying again. A permanent Wednesday - anything can happen day. It'll take forever but I always manage to make new friends when I do a big push for the summit, and my online social life tends to improve markedly.

I've had some good writing ideas. The latest setbacks haven't hampered my creativity, fortunatley. I've heard bad stories from friends, but I made sure I had my emotional safety nets in place

My self published stories keep chugging on. I'm going to wait until I have 2 or 3 novels on other stores other than Kindle before I spend money promoting them.

Thats it!

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