[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.

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 - The Sea Will Be Strong/I Know We'll 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.

A super long update because I've been SLACK (been it, not given any)
The longest of updates, as I keep meaning to do so and life gets in the way.

Recently I got back in FACE TO FACE contact with an old friend from my early 20s, (rather than Facebook, where I'm in contact with everyone, (much to my disgust when they turn out to be racist bogans, sigh)

Contrary to the way things usually go, we had a fine time, with Katie screaming: YOU HAVEN'T CHAAAANGED.

She apologized for the band we went to see - her current boyfriend was the drummer for the support act, and the band was a Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart tribute band which was the oddest Anchorman Jazz Flute music I've ever come across (so very nerdy) - but I said that our entire old relationship had been comprised of her dragging me to some weird band gig, why should it be any different now?

I'm looking forward to keeping in touch. It's good like that, when you come back to people after both living separate lives and they're still great to be with!

For a while now I've been grouping my friends into "eras". The early-twenties mob I don't see so often but remember fondly. Later on as I moved into fandom, and then writing, my go-to crowd for the mystery of human socialization changed with it.

I discussed this with Jamie R at dinner the other day (late 20's era fandom/current writing-associate) how that I'd dumped a lot of people around about 19 or 20 years old. I couldn't articulate why I didn't like them, I just couldn't be with them any more. I didn't know why. They were kind, good folk, but something was nagging at me...

Jamie said that he went through much the same thing when he left his friends to move to Melbourne in his early 20s. Couldn’t stand them, couldn't articulate why either.

Now, nearly 25 years late and on the transparency that is Facebook, just the common dopey racism, nastiness to minorities, narrow worldviews... I wonder if these were the nascent ideas that made me tense up and grit my teeth every time I was around my old teen-era friends. I was always appalled at my own behavior towards them (I wasn't that great a teenager or that great a friend), but everything was rubbing me the wrong way. We've spoken briefly in the shops and when we tend to run into each other on the street, but any more than that might be uncomfortable.

OK, enough of that. Book-wise - finished Katharine Dunn's GEEK LOVE which I'd been meaning to read for ages. She then died mid read! Before I could send her a fan letter! OMG! I see her similar gothic stuff in MR SPLITFOOT which I read this year. So, so good.

Movies - Watched SPECTRE at last. It ain't no SKYFALL, which was ace. SKYFALL incidentally shared some common story beats with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, whose sequel: CIVIL WAR, I saw a couple of weeks ago. Great movie, I would have liked it more if there was more Bucky and Cap. There was a sense of Disney turning over backwards to establish that there was nothing but the most chilly masculine feels between them, as if the nature of friendship was a business transaction that had to be honored like a payday loan. ( Personally, so what if it’s interpreted as gay through the oversexualized lens of our society? I guess in some kind of Protect The Children way, there cannot be the slightest hint of anything untoward)

On the surface, Cap’s purely functional relationship with the Winter Soldier made his actions seem to occur in a vacuum - like the “Martha” moment in BvS. Dude. These are the best of friends for whom Cap has A) Gone awol from the Army B) Thrown his shield away and was willing to commit suicide-by-metal-fist B) Beaten up his other mate, put the rest of his mates in prison, and thrown his shield away *again*.  This is not a mere “friend”. I feel cheated on not seeing this emotionally represented on screen.

And yet the CA:CW directors, bless them, but in a few small touches that only came up on close viewing. The way Cap looms over and protects a very “softer” looking Bucky. The throwback to the Anderson/Dredd “love” scene from the Karl Urban Judge Dread movie, where the two protags stare into each other’s faces all the way down. (As opposed to the whole elevator scene in Winter Soldier, where the pre-shuffle fight was predicated on the fact everyone was trying NOT to look at each other).

But I did like the WS imagery so much I put it on my Twitter feed!

TELEVISION - Of the One Eyed Beast I finished THE WALKING DEAD - Who died? Fark! I’m watching THRONES and FEAR THE WALKING DEAD at the moment, waiting for MR. ROBOT season 2

WRITING - I have a story in a Fablecroft antho coming out next month. It will be good. I’m supposed to finish up some shorts but my heart is not in it. Emotionally, I’m falling back into the well that is ABUNDANCE again. I spoke to Sarah E and said that I spent so much money on the Liminal movie project, for little reward and yet I loved doing it and working with my friends, I want to do the same thing with an epic Fantasy Decology project, where I hire my own editors and artists and produce the books the way I want it to be done. Sarah will edit (not for free, and her mates-rates aren’t cheap!  I don’t even want to think what a million words will cost me) but she knows what I’m getting at, and we’ve discussed so many of her Big 5 publishing projects and what was required. (“I think you’ll be very easy to edit,” she says. Mind you, our last thing we worked on was our first outing, the story that would eventually become MORNINGTOWNS, which I, er, have to fix up after I finish my current suspense/thriller WIP.)

ABUNDANCE already has 400K words done. It’s time for me to stop dicking around and wishful thinking, put in the 200K and get the thing out there.

And that’s it!

OK, I Therapy Shopped, I feel better now.
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
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.

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!!!


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