January News

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January has been a huge month!

This month I took part in the January Submission Challenge, organised by UK Author Raymond Daley.

The challenge was to submit at least one story every day for the month of January – that’s 31 stories!

After deciding to take part in Ray’s September Submission Challenge at the very last minute, and managing 15 submissions (from which I received two acceptances), I was keen to try again. This time I was much more organised: I had my market lists (compiled from some of Ray’s list, and some from other places I’ve submitted to in the past/wanted to submit to), and my list of polished, unpublished stories (a whole fourteen of them).

I jumped into the month very gung ho – submitting seven stories on day one, and four on day two, etc. Which would have worked well if I had enough stories, but by the middle of the month they were all out under consideration and I had nothing else to submit. (I did also write a new story for the Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fictin competition – so I had a total of fifteen stories, and I spent a good deal of the month working on a story for Australian Speculative Fiction’s Zodiac series,which I may have finished had I not come down with a virus in the last few days of the month and been stuck in bed with a pounding head.)

Some of the places I submitted to, like Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the JJ Outre Review, have a super fast turn around for rejections (a day or two at most – though my quickest rejection took about 6 hours), giving me the freedom to resubmit those stories elsewhere. Others I may not hear back from for a couple of months yet.

I managed 30 submissions for the month, which I am super-pleased about, which has resulted in (so far) 17 rejections, and 2 acceptances.

Which brings me to my biggest news for the month: my acceptances!

First, my story ‘Raven’s Sacrifice’ was accepted into Australian Speculative Fiction’s anthology ‘Stories of Hope’ (see image at the top of this post). This anthology is about raising money for those affected by the horrific bushfires that have burnt through large swathes of Australia over the past couple of months. While I am lucky enough to live away from the bushfires (this time), I have friends who have been on high alert and have been watching the news closely for updates, absolutely horrified by the devastation that has been wrought on our beautiful country. I am so pleased to have been able to contribute something, however small, to help the people and animals affected by this. I know it’s going to be filled with all sorts of fantastic stories, so keep your eye out, and support this great anthology.

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My second acceptance was for something very different, a 100 word dark fantasy, ‘The Consequences of Climate Change for the Merpeople’. This will be published in Black Hare Press’s ‘Oceans’ anthology, expected out in early April 2020.

If you’re on Facebook you can follow me to get updates through out the month, otherwise look out for my next blog post later in the month.

And if you’re a writer and you like the idea of joining in a submission challenge, the next one is planned for May this year. Keep an eye on Ray’s blog for more information!

Book Review – The Binding by Bridget Collins

 

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This book is absolutely spell-binding, in so many ways!

It follows the story of Emmett, a farmer’s son who is summoned to be an apprentice for a binder – a woman who removes people’s most terrible memories and binds those memories into a book, which she then locks away in a vault to protect them forever.

Emmett isn’t entirely certain why he’s been called to do such a task, and finds that people view the ‘job’ of binding as either helpful, or terrible. Books themselves are seen as terrible things, because each one is the genuine memories of a person, who can no longer access those memories themselves, and generally people only go to a Binder because their memories are so terrible they can barely live under the weight of them.

But then the binder dies, and Emmett discovers one of the books in her vault has his name on it.

What was so awful he chose to have it’s memory wiped from his mind forever?

There is so much to love about this story, but I feel that to share those snippets might give away some of the storyline, and one of the things I loved was how the story took a turn I wasn’t really expecting  beforehand, and how beautiful that storyline turned out to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Balfour Correspondent by James Dryburgh

 

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I’m reviewing something a little bit different this time.

The Balfour Correspondent is not a novel. It’s a collection of letters sent by 14 year old Sylvia M’Arthur from Balfour, on Tasmania’s West Coast, to the ‘Young Folks’ page of Launceston’s ‘Weekly Courier’ in 1912, and interspersed with replies from James Dryburgh, writing from Hobart one hundred years later.

Through Syvlia’s letters there is a glimpse of a world and time completely different from our own. At the time of writing, Syliva and her family had just moved to Balfour, a small town consisting of a handful of shops and a small school. They’d moved there because of the mine, where her father had work.

Now, there is almost nothing left of Balfour. It’s been reclaimed by the forests that surround it, and James Balfour’s response to Sylvia’s letters speaks of this, and of what has changed in our world in general in the hundred years or so since Sylvia lived, and what has stayed the same.

It’s a fascinating, and in some places, terribly sad read. And it makes me wonder what other gems are lurking in our newspapers, waiting to be found.

Book Review – Beneath the Mother Tree by D M Cameron

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I really enjoyed this story.

‘Beneath the Mother Tree’ is the story of Ayla, returned back to her island home after a year on the Australian mainland at University. Summer has been it’s usual, but now two newcomers have moved onto the island, Riley and his mother Marlise, a strange woman who prefers to keep to herself, and is struggling with giving her now adult son his independence.

Ayla and Riley are attracted to each other, but Ayla’s Grandfather, known as ‘Grappa’ is convinced that Riley is Far Dorocha, a dark servant of the Queen of Faery, and his mother might be the Queen herself. Raised on his grandmother’s tales from her homeland of Ireland, Grappa has no doubt that these beings exist, and does everything in his power to keep Ayla seperate and safe from these dark beings.

This is such a fascinating and unique Australian story.

 

Book Review – Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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Maud has dementia. She’s forgetful and confused, her thoughts slipping between the present and the past, and sometimes – often – mixing up the two.

In order to remember, Maud writes herself notes, and her notes tell her that Elizabeth is not answering her phone, and is never home when Maud visits, and through the story we get the exasperated conversations with Elizabeth’s son, who refuses to tell Maud anything. She’s convinced he is involved, desperate to get his hands on his inheritance.

This disappearance triggers memories of Sukey, Maud’s sister, who disappeared without a trace 70 years earlier.

I loved this story! ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ is Emma Healey’s first novel, and is so skillfully done – Maud is the protagonist, and the story is told in first person, so her life and experience of the world unfolds before us in all it’s confusion, and yet the story is so well written that the reader is never (or rarely) confused, and the synchronicity of events that leads to both mysterious disappearances being solved doesn’t feel contrived. Highly recommended!

 

 

Book Review – Catching Teller Crow by Ambelimn Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

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There is so much to love about this story, and if I may be a bit geeky, the title is one of those things. It’s so clever, because while the title as a whole makes sense, each word in the title is also the name of a character.

Beth Teller is the first character we meet. She’s a ghost. She was killed in a car accident, and is hanging around because she doesn’t want to leave her father alone (her mother died when she was a baby). Her father is the only person who can see and hear her.

Beth’s father is a police officer, and together they are visiting a small town. A children’s home has burnt down and while all the children escaped, there is a dead body inside the building. It seems like a case of faulty wiring and bad luck, but as they delve deeper they find there is far more to the case than first meets the eye.

Isobel Catching is the other main character in this story. She was found wandering the river after the fire, and is considered to be a witness. Beth and her father try talking to Isobel, who tells them a strange strange story, about almost dying, and crossing into another world and having all her colours stolen.

Crow is a girl who Isobel meets in this other world, and who helps Isobel escape back into this world.

But there is far more to this story than meets the eye, and when everything clicks into place you realise exactly all the awful things that have been happening to Isobel, and exactly how it fits in to the fire in the children’s home, and the dead body inside.

On the surface, this is a crime/mystery, but underneath it is so much more. This is a story about stories, and how telling those stories, how being heard, can strengthen a person, and help in the healing process.

 

 

 

Review – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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I have to thank one of the wonderful women in my local writers group for recommending this brilliant story!

Rivers of London follows probationary constable Peter Grant, who learns one night that he can see ghosts, when he tries to take a witness statement from one…

What follows is a brilliant story of the supernatural side of London.

There is a murderer on the loose, a spirit, able to infect people and set off a train of events that results in someone being violently murdered, while the person who carried out the murder completely unaware of exactly why they snapped and killed someone.

Meanwhile, Father Thames, and Mother Thames, both personifications of the great river that runs through the city, are having a disagreement, and their many children – all the smaller rivers and brooks and streams that run into the Thames, are involved.

Peter not only learns that magic is real, he learns how to wield it, his experiments (when he uses magic, his phone is destroyed, and he’s curious enough to try and figure out why) leading him to successfully summon a spirit with five calculators at the points of a pentagram, and a glow-stick instead of a candle.

Rivers of London is witty, and well written, a brilliant story line.