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!

Dog days
clairemckenna
SO, what's with the politics on the Hugo noms, eh? As if anything other than Ancillary [whatever] is going to win it, god.  Anyway, more than one person has mentioned that the kerfuffle seems to deal with uniquely US-ian problems, so from the Australian perspective it's like watching the Autobots and Decepticons duke it out when you're a... Go-Bot.
Since we're talking about the US, I have found this link: Eat for $4 a day I'm not much of a cook, but I'd like to try out the Opposite Of Activated Almond Diet. Or some realistic eating habits for people on food stamps. (I'm assuming that food stamps are the US equivalent of the dole?) So perhaps it could work either way. I'm always intensely curious about living close to poverty's edge, having been there.

Took a break from writing for a week. Rode my bike. Took advantage of the last of the nice weather.

Kicking against the Pricks. (Well, cacti.)
clairemckenna
It's been an odd three months, since my journey to Outer Dandenong. I have since found an obsession with cacti nd succulents (WHY??) Actually, let me answer that. Unlike C3 and C4 photosynthesis, which is equivalently "Shitbox Runs On Waste Oil Synthesis" and "European Car Will Void Warranty With Less Than 98RON Fuel" Photosynthesis, CAM photosynthesis is "Mr Fission In The DeLorean". It does a lot of cool stuff like going on idle and shuffling the carbon around as an acid and generally being highly evolved.

It's pretty recent in terms of evolution, arid-cactus guys. Our planet was a lot warmer and wetter once. (But getting warmer again, AMIRITE??!)

Anyway there's that. Also I found the story that actually got my own current Work In Progress kicked off: (apart from Dune)  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1902253.The_Narrow_Land



This fine fellow here. According to a Strange Horizon's review:

"The Narrow Land," told from the perspective of its non-human protagonist (named "Ern"; why not?), a creature born with three crests on his head where all around him have one or two. This isn't a traditional Vance story—though the Ones and Twos live in societies with ornate social rules that seem very familiar—Vance's science fiction often throws up gleefully weird aliens; but Ern's perspective here is, at first, genuinely alienating. "The Narrow Land" was to be the first of a series, and the introduction to
Dream Castles suggests that it was a fading interest in the "truly extraterrestrial" (p. 14) that prompted its abandonment."


What a damn shame. It's my favourite Jack Vance story.

2014 Retrospective, Dudes
clairemckenna
So it’s the start of 2015 huh? I didn’t do an end of year wrap-up before on account of the year not ending until the last gasp and vinegar stroke.

Stuff that happened:

Was part of something. Got sea-lioned by #GamerGate (LOL, who didn’t right? You’d tweet the most innocuous observation, “Geez, I’m a bit upset by this GG stuff” and then get zerg-rushed by aggressive sockpuppets camping out in the tag. Man, that block button got a workout. It was the weirdest meme of 2014. Ethics in Journalism.

What DID not happen was Half-Life 3. Not sighted. The fact that nobody rioted about this was pretty indicative of everything.

I started removing my tattoos. Scabs. Scabs everywhere. I’ll get another one in a month. It’s gonna take a while. It fucking hurts, tho. I might have a few scar-spots. For those not on my Facebook, they aren’t terrific ones, just tribal band shit. In the 1990s it was perhaps a nod to cultures alternative to our own to embrace the tribal aesthetic, but we’re a lot more cognizant to cultural appropriation now, and it’s no longer the 1990s. Maybe I’ll put something in its place later.

Went to England/Ireland. Two conventions and a rescue. My mum was left an antique coach writing desk years ago, but her older sister, outside of being too busy in Opus Dei to be a functioning human being, never sent it to her. The Power of Christ never fucking compelled her to put the box in the post and send it to Australia, and then she died so I had to go and get it. The first postage quote was the equivalent of buying another seat on the plane, but in the end I lined up in a post office in Tallaght (Dublin) and posted that fucker economy mail along with some of my luggage.

I got a literary agent. A few juggles and false starts this year. I’m at that level of I’ll Believe It What I See It that I’m not going to post anything until there is a publishing deal signed in blood with the quill of a vulture and witnessed by Satan. Besides the project isn’t even finished.

Spent New Year stuck on a railway station. Got to go the front of the Snowpiercer train and ride back with the driver. We hit something on the way back. “Hope it wasn’t a person!” says the driver, and then we pulled into town, and 2014 was over.

So its the end of the year. FOR YOU.
clairemckenna
The Aurealis Awards are closing in four days.  I'll only have one story to put in, "Yard" from Use Only As Directed.

Looks like my upcoming Cosmos Online story will go up *next* year.

Altogether, although not much has happened, 2014 will be *the* year, career wise. I meant to do more short stories, but I've been horrendously busy with my longer stuff and finishing off some ancient fanfic projects to wrap up that stage of my life when I was so blocked it was ALL I could do for a while.

2015 is gonna be special. Roll on, roll  on.

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