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Award Winning Australian Writing 2018 is here

September 26, 2018 Leave a comment

This slim volume from Melbourne Books is jam packed with award-winning Australian fiction and poetry and has recently been released. It contains my story ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’, which won the 2017 Joe O’Sullivan Writers’ Prize, and is available from all the usual online outlets. Huzzah!

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The Dying Rain and Other Forays into the Bramble Noir is on the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award longlist

July 18, 2018 2 comments

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Meet Tyler Bramble, the grimy future’s answer to Philip Marlowe. Armed with what he considers to be a razor-sharp wit and what his supervisor considers to be a troubling history vis-a-vis illicit pharmaceuticals, Tyler takes on drug dealers, dodgy doctors and extortioners, and it’s all in the name of the long suffering Victorian taxpayer. These Bramble Noirs—wise cracking, off-beat, occasionally zany tales in a post-apocalyptic Melbourne—reboot Raymond Chandler for the twenty-first century, critiquing toxic masculinity and poking fun at the tired tropes of the tawdry PI genre along the way. At least that’s what it says on the label.

You can read an extract from ‘Blue Swirls’ here.

PRESS RELEASE

The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award longlist announced

Eleven finalists have been announced by renowned Australian author Carmel Bird in the first year of the Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award.

Launched at the State Library Victoria in December 2017, The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award showcases new works of short fiction from Australian and overseas writers. The longlist was judged from a field of over 130 submissions, including short story collections as well as novellas, many of which included digital narratives with multimedia elements.

Carmel Bird was pleased with the diversity of entries to the award: “I was surprised and delighted to see the large number of entries, coming from a great range of writers, some of whom were unpublished, many of whom were students in writing courses, and others who were established writers.”

“It was fascinating to observe what was a kind of broad snapshot of the thinking and practice of fiction-writing in Australia today. The energy of so much of the work, the range of subject-matter, and the confidence in the use of language and form were a source of great pleasure,” Ms Bird said.

Finalists in the 2018 Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award will be showcased by State Library Victoria via the online platform, Tablo. Visitors to Library’s Tablo page will be able to read and respond to an extract from each submission. The three winning entrants will receive cash prizes totalling $5000 as well as publishing agreements with Spineless Wonders. The winners will be announced in September.

Justine Hyde, State Library Victoria’s Director of Library Services and Experience, said the Library was always looking for new ways to shine a light on digital writing: “The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award is a great way for us to highlight talented and creative authors who bring together the literary and digital worlds. We are thrilled to support this award in unearthing innovative and exciting new digital work.”

The longlisted entries are:

Ashley Kalagian Blunt, Flicker of Justice, No More

Craig Cormick, Everybody Loves a Good Cook Book

Susie Greenhill, Maps for the Lost

Mel Hall, Goodbye Tom Morrow

William Lane, Small Forest

Catherine Moffat, Remnants of Sound

Ruairi Murphy, Two Sets of Books 

Arna Radovich, Mosaic of Loss

Bronwyn Rodden, Darkness

Guy Salvidge, The Dying Rain – And Other Forays into the Bramble Noir

Beth Spencer, The Age of Fibs

“The Centre Cannot Hold” wins Joe O’Sullivan Writers’ Prize

December 6, 2017 4 comments

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On Sunday 3rd December I was honoured to receive the 2017 Joe O’Sullivan Writers’ Prize from the Australian Irish Heritage Association for my story ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’. The award was presented by Denis Bratton of the AIHA at the Irish Club in Subiaco in conjunction with the annual Brendan Awards. I was made to feel very welcome indeed and was treated to an afternoon of singing, laughing and of course a couple of pints of Guinness! ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’ appears in the AIHA’s quarterly publication, The Journal, as well as on their website.  Thanks very much to Denis and the rest of the Perth Irish community for making my day/month/year.

City of Rubber Stamps – Draft complete

January 18, 2017 Leave a comment

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Today, the 18th January, I completed the draft of my new crime novel City of Rubber Stamps, which was written in its entirety over the past four months while I’ve been on Long Service Leave from teaching. I’m having a beer to celebrate, but here are some stats (I love stats):

 

Word count – 85, 306

Approximate hours of actual composition, excluding planning, re-reading and revision – 220

Actual writing days – 81

Words written per hour on average – 387

Non-writing days – 36 (this includes my wedding day and two week honeymoon in Tasmania).

Cups of coffees drunk – at least 250 and probably well over 300

Days until I’m due back at work – 11

Time for that beer 🙂

Two book launches and a crime fiction review

November 18, 2016 Leave a comment

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I’ve been busy this week, not only in chipping away at the draft of City of Rubber Stamps, but also with some other writerly events. Firstly, my review of David Whish-Wilson’s excellent Perth crime novel Old Scores is up at Westerly’s Editor’s Desk. My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the novel’s launch at the suitably noirish Buffalo Club in Fremantle on Wednesday night. There I caught up not only with David but with a cadre of Perth crime fiction aficionados and writers like Ron Elliot, Bruce Russell, Michelle Michau-Crawford and Ian Reid. Old Scores is a rip-roaring trip through eighties Perth and highly recommended. You can read more about it and even a sample chapter over at the Fremantle Press website.

Tonight I’m off to my second launch for the week, this one at the Centre for Stories in Northbridge. It’s launch day for Writing the Dream from Serenity Press, which is a book of non-fiction pieces on writing and publishing by 25 mostly WA authors, including the likes of Juliet Marillier, Natasha Lester and Louise Allan. If you are keen on meeting the authors and picking up a signed copy, then you’ll need to head up to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in Greenmount on Sunday 27th November for the second launch date. I’d love to attend this myself, but as I’ll be on my honeymoon in Tasmania it’d be a long way to travel. Writing the Dream is an outstanding and highly practical ‘how to’ guide to writing and publishing as well as being a source of inspiration for aspiring writers. It’s available now from any number of online outlets such as Amazon and Booktopia.

‘Well, it’s fifty cups of coffee and you know it’s on’: writing City of Rubber Stamps

November 4, 2016 Leave a comment

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The year was 2005. I was a 23 year-old Dip Ed student, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and I was about to complete my final teaching practicum. My prac teacher and one of her colleagues, whose names I’ve forgotten, said that while I’d probably be able to get a job teaching the following year, I could forget about ever earning any Long Service Leave. ‘They’ll get rid of it before then,’ one of them said.

They were wrong.

When I started teaching in Merredin in 2006, the Long Service Leave date on my payslip read 31/01/2016, at which time I’d be entitled to thirteen weeks paid leave. It might as well have read 2099 for how distant that date seemed, but as the years rolled by, and I became a teaching survivor rather than one of many casualties, 2016 drew inexorably nearer.

In 2007-8 I became fixated on the idea of winning the TAG Hungerford Award for my first novel, The Kingdom of Four Rivers (eventually published by the now-defunct Equilibrium Books), and when that dream evaporated, my hopes were transferred onto the thought of winning the Vogel. I’ve written about this before so I won’t dwell on it now, but suffice to say that 31/5/2016 was my final Vogel due date, the final year I’d be young enough to be eligible. Thus the two dates became intertwined in my mind. I’d do my ten years of teaching, take Long Service Leave in early 2016, and give the Vogel a red hot crack.

It didn’t work out like that.

In 2012 I spent nine months working for the State School Teachers Union of Western Australia, which was an interesting experience and a nice break from teaching, but it also blew out my Long Service Leave date to October 2016. Too late for the Vogel. My last chance at that turned out to be my crime novel Thirsty Work, written 2013-4, but I didn’t get anywhere with it. I went back to teaching in 2013, put in another three and three-quarter years, and voila, I became eligible for LSL on the fourth of October of this year. I started my leave on the tenth. Including school holidays, I’d have more than four months off.

All I ever wanted was the time and money required to sit down and write, and now I had one hundred and twenty eight days to produce an entire novel, one that had been brewing in my mind for a couple of years, City of Rubber Stamps. The plan was (and is) to produce a solid draft of the novel of around 80,000 words by Monday 30th January 2017, the day I’m due back at work. Given that I average around 1000 words per day when writing, that seemed (and seems) an achievable goal. I’ve written about my writing tribulations and occasional successes in my piece, ‘Hard Travelin’, which is soon to be released in Writing the Dream from Serenity Press.

One of the greatest days of my life, then, was the 23rd of September 2016, my last day of work for the year and co-incidentally my daughter’s eleventh birthday, the same daughter who was yet to be born in 2005.

Six weeks into my eighteen week block of writing, things are (touch wood) progressing smoothly. I had 3,000 words of the novel already written by the time I started my LSL, and in the intervening six weeks I’ve added another 30,000 words at a rate of 5,000 words per week. 5,000 words doesn’t sound like very much to me, but I can assure you that those words are all hard-earned. It takes me between two and three hours to write my 1000 words for the day and I’ve recently decided that three black coffees is my limit (incidentally, the quote in the title of this piece is from the song ‘Super Disco Breakin’ by the Beastie Boys. Along with Beck and Radiohead, these are the three most important bands and artists to me in the music world. I often listen to the Beasties, especially their album Hello Nasty, as a way of jump-starting my brain in the morning).

I’ve always been a fan of number crunching and statistics, so here goes. An 80,000 word novel draft ought to take me around 16 weeks to produce. At 2.5 hours per 1,000 words, that’s 200 hours of actual composing at the keyboard, not to mention an unknowable number of hours planning, tinkering, thinking and redrafting. This isn’t 200 hours of punching the clock in the way we all do in our quotidian lives, but 200 hours of actual creative endeavour. I’ll also consume at least 240 black coffees in the production of the novel draft and an unknown amount of extra strong Dilmah tea.

Six weeks in, I have 33,000 words done and at least 47,000 words to go. I’m slightly ahead of schedule in that I’m 41% of the way through the draft and only 33% of the way through my LSL. I hope to get even further ahead of the curve over the next fortnight before I take a fortnight off from writing while honeymooning with my new bride in Tasmania. I’ve never written an entire draft of a novel in one block before, mainly because I’ve never had this much time to work on a project in my adult life, so I’m hoping that the fortnight off will act as a much-needed refresher.

City of Rubber Stamps will be the twelfth novel I’ve written, my first being completed twenty years ago when I was still in high school, and I’m hopeful that it will be the fourth to be published. I ‘only’ have to work another seven full years to accrue another thirteen weeks LSL, but the thought of having to wait that long to have another crack at a novel doesn’t appeal, so my intention is to enrol in the Deferred Salary Scheme in 2017, whereby I’ll work four years at 80% pay and thus earns the fifth year off at the same 80%

Roll on 2021, the year I’ll turn forty.

In the meantime, I’ve started how I mean to continue on the current project. With any luck, I’ll have a complete draft of City of Rubber Stamps in under three months time. Writing is hard work, finding the time to do it even harder, but this has been my path. As the Beasties say, ‘you gotta have the dreams to make it all worthwhile.’

‘Frank’ is free to read in Westerly: New Creative

September 29, 2016 Leave a comment

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‘Frank’ and a bevy of other works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry by emerging WA writers are online and free to download in Westerly: New Creative as of this minute. I’m really stoked to have a piece in such a venerable publication and I’m also looking forward to the official launch of the ebook at the upcoming Australian Short Story Festival on October 23rd. Thanks to Rashida Murphy for pointing this out and to Josephine Taylor for working with me on editing ‘Frank’ for publication.