About Tom Dullemond

Writer. IT guy. Occasional troublemaker. Opinionated. Shockingly, shockingly humble.

Flash Fiction is like a Good Dram (via @literaryminded)

Flash Fiction is hard but rewarding, and has a much better hourly payrate than your first few novels*. The awesome Angela Meyer opines about it thusly:

Those who know me have probably realised I’d eventually get around to using whisky as a metaphor for writing. Flash fictions—stories under 1000 words—are like a good dram. You savour them, roll them around in your mouth, are left with resonant remnants.

Here’s a little guide to tasting flash fiction.

Find it here: http://literaryminded.com.au/2014/06/19/flash-fiction-is-like-a-good-dram/

*this fact may have been pulled out of my backside but sounds about right.

Fun Ideas Time: The Fermi Paradox (via @waitbutwhy)

And by ‘fun’ I mean ‘terrifying existential crisis’.

Sometimes it’s good just to throw some brain-food into the blogging mix in the hope that it will spark some kind of story ideas. The Fermi paradox continues to be terrifying because of mathematics. eg:

Continuing to speculate, if 1% of intelligent life survives long enough to become a potentially galaxy-colonizing Type III Civilization, our calculations above suggest that there should be at least 1,000 Type III Civilizations in our galaxy alone—and given the power of such a civilization, their presence would likely be pretty noticeable. And yet, we see nothing, hear nothing, and we’re visited by no one.

Yay: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/fermi-paradox.html

And here a little refreshing breath to not worry so much about it, we’re special: http://praxtime.com/2013/11/25/sagan-syndrome-pay-heed-to-biologists-about-et/

Monday Markets – Grimdark Magazine (via @AdrianGdMag, HT: @staceysarasvati)

Here’s another great market:

Grimdark Magazine is a grimdark fantasy and sci-fi pro paying market for authors and artists. Working in a sub-genre means we are after a very specific style of story or image. We want dark settings, grey characters of both sexes, morally ambiguous decisions, and plenty of grit. Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin, Mark Lawrence, Scott Lynch, Graham McNeill, Dan Abnett, and R. Scott Bakker are our favourite authors. Buy a copy of our magazine to see exactly what we’re after.

They’re looking for 1,500 to 4,000 word stories and paying a solid 5c AUD per word.

Check out the full guidelines here: http://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/submission-guidelines-for-grimdark-magazine/

He Said/She Sighed – Part 1 (HT: @ginad129)

A great article here from Catherine Austen, which could be ‘here are some rules about writing rules':

Big picture rules are good, like: A book should spend more words on important scenes and fewer words on unimportant scenes. That rule is hard to argue with.

Rules I roll my eyes at are nitpicky particulars like: Use “said” as your only verb in dialogue. That is a stupid rule. Or, rather, it is stupid to think of that as a rule.

Catherine gives a good analysis of why there are apparent ‘rules’ like ‘just use  s‘ as a dialogue tag’. Like all ‘rules’, you can break them once you understand their purpose. This article is about the why:

You can have people spew their words, spit their words, growl them, bark them, bray them if you like. None of it is grammatically incorrect. Just as you can have your character drag her heart to the door, once she gets there she can sigh hello if you want her to. Readers love a good metaphor; why bar them from dialogue? The question is not whether it’s correct usage. (It is.) The question is whether it works. If it enhances the scene and makes it clearer, more vivid, more real and alive, then it’s good usage. If it obscures the action and slows the understanding and annoys the reader, it’s bad usage.

There’s a lot more in there, with this great little smackdown:

Note to nitpickers: The hiss of speech doesn’t have to be on sibilants. Humans do not hiss. The meaning of “hiss” in dialogue is not “sssss. If someone is hissing “ssstay away sssilly” you’d better spell it out because no reader is going to assume the speaker is actually hissing the sibilants – unless you’ve already said they’re insane and one of their symptoms is hissing like a snake. Hissing in dialogue means to speak in quiet anger. Like the hiss of a snake or a cat, it is a small noise with a big angry warning attached to it. It is a perfectly good word for a whisper-shout. So please don’t show off your ignorance by calling out an author for saying a character hissed, “Pick that up” to her unruly child in church. You might not like the usage, but it is not bad grammar.

It’s only part 1. Read it and bookmark it so if I forget to link you to part 2 then you won’t miss out: http://catherineausten.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/he-saidshe-sighed-part-one/

How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage (via @theguardian)

Some commentary from Cory Doctorow about the Amazon and Hachette fight that I’ve posted a few links to over the last few weeks. This touches on the DRM nightmare that enabled all this arm twisting. And everyone knows how much I love DRM!

In a sane world, Hachette would have a whole range of tactics available to it. Amazon’s ebook major competitors – especially Apple and Google – have lots of market clout, and their customers are already carrying around ebook readers (tablets and phones). Hachette could easily play hardball with Amazon by taking out an ad campaign whose message was, “Amazon won’t sell you our books – so we’re holding a 50% sale for anyone who wants to switch to buying ebooks from Apple, Google, Kobo or Nook.”

However:

[I]t is precisely because Hachette has been such a staunch advocate of DRM that it cannot avail itself of this tactic. Hachette, more than any other publisher in the industry, has had a single minded insistence on DRM since the earliest days. It’s likely that every Hachette ebook ever sold has been locked with some company’s proprietary DRM, and therein lies the rub.

Read the rest of the tricky explanation here: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/20/how-amazon-holding-hachette-hostage

Monday Markets – Schoolbooks and Sorcery Anthology – Aug 31, 2014

An interesting LGBTQ friendly anthology project here:

Take high school. It’s weird, confusing, complicated, and frustrating. It’s a time of growth and change, when teens start discovering what they’re made of and who they want to be. Now throw in magic. What happens? That’s the premise of this new YA anthology. Schoolbooks & Sorcery is what happens when you take all the normal ups and downs of high school, inject a healthy dose of magic, shake, stir, and serve.

They’re looking for 2,000 to 7,000 words with payment starting at 2c/word.

All stories must involve magic, and those who practice magic. This covers wizards, witches, sorcerers, magicians, shamans, and other traditions not specifically mentioned. This covers self-taught characters, those whose power is intrinsic or passed down through a family, those who find objects of power or books of spells, those who study with a teacher, those who go to school for magic, and so on. Other paranormal elements, such as vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or fairies, are welcome, as long as they don’t overshadow the primary theme.

Paranormal romance elements are also welcome, but this is not specifically intended as a romance anthology. Romance is good, but not necessary.

All stories must be considered YA.

Stories should be set in modern times/on Earth, but authors are encouraged to use a variety of settings, cultures, and influences to flesh out their characters and world building. Again, one of the primary goals here is to explore diversity.

While LGBTQ elements are not required, they are highly encouraged, as are protagonists who defy traditional roles and labels. (As in “girls doing boy things” and “boys doing girl things”.) More importantly: no story will be turned away for containing LGBTQ characters or elements, unless it violates the other guidelines.

Full guidelines here: http://www.michaelmjones.com/call-for-submissions-schoolbooks-sorcery/

On Their Death Bed, Physical Books Have Finally Become Sexy (via @nytimes, HT: @mikearnzen)

For the record, I’ve always thought physical books were sexy.

The Death of the Book has loomed over so many other eras, but today it seems more certain, at least when it comes to the physical book, because the e-book has been outselling the paper kind on Amazon since 2011. With reading, we all know what direction we’re now going in — it’s bright-at-night, it’s paved with e-paper, it’s bad for focus, it’s incredibly convenient. Those of us — myself included — who can’t yet bring themselves to read on a Kindle or an iPad feel increasingly fusty saying the same old thing: “I just like the feel of paper in my hand! The intimacy!” We preface the words with that thing about not being a Luddite. We talk about the fixity of real books, and the frightening impermanence of one you can download in seconds. We feel our sentences grow stale the second they leave our mouths.

Read it all here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/magazine/on-their-death-bed-physical-books-have-finally-become-sexy.html

We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome (via @thedissolve, ht: @jacklscanlan)

With diversity finally getting a bit more stagetime in the industry (or at least discussions of diversity) it’s tempting for lazy artists to pay, effectively, lip service to the notion of having female characters. For example, having stories with more female protagonists does not mean you can just genderswap a character and end up with female male characters, women saying man-things or navigating a man-world like a man. Or as Tasha Robinson discusses in this article, you can’t just make an interesting female character then…just…forget about her:

There’s been a cultural push going on for years now to get female characters in mainstream films some agency, self-respect, confidence, and capability, to make them more than the cringing victims and eventual trophies of 1980s action films, or the grunting, glowering, sexless-yet-sexualized types that followed, modeled on the groundbreaking badass Vasquez in Aliens.

[snip]

[E]ven when they do, the writers often seem lost after that point. Bringing in a Strong Female Character™ isn’t actually a feminist statement, or an inclusionary statement, or even a basic equality statement, if the character doesn’t have any reason to be in the story except to let filmmakers point at her on the poster and say “See? This film totally respects strong women!”

Very good overview (with extra links) about the mistake of introducing Strong Female Characters who then are superfluous to the plot. The concern is summarised as:

For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.

Important stuff, and a good checklist/questionnaire for writers to help figure out if you’re inadvertently making some of these mistakes: http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/

Monday Markets – The Never Never Land Anthology – 31 Aug, 2014 (HT: @polygonnative)

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild has a new anthology open for submissions from Australian/NZ/close enough authors:

For The Never Never Land, we’re looking for Australian stories, whatever that may mean to you, or stories that are inspired by this country.

If you send us Peter Pan stories, you’re probably missing the point.

Think On the Beach, Mad Max, Two Hands and Tomorrow, When the War Began. Think Terry Dowling’s Rynosseros and Wormwood stories, Sean Williams’s Books of the Change, Patricia Wrightson’s The Nargun and the Stars and the stories in Gillian Polack’s Baggage anthology. Or step outside and look around you, and think something completely different. We want to capture the diversity of what an “Australian + speculative” story can mean.

They’re after genre fiction from 1,000 to 3,000 words and paying $30 and a contributor’s copy.

Details here: http://www.csfg.org.au/2014/02/20/call-for-submissions-the-never-never-land/

Death in modern culture (via @guardian)

An interesting discussion about the interest that the younger generation has in death and things related to death. Death is a bit of a taboo in modern Western society, as is its close friend, ‘old age’.

As a teacher of writing, I am often asked why my students read such “morbid stuff”. Why do teenagers seek out stories about vampires and zombies and death and violence? Parents are particularly interested in this. Should they be making sure their kids are reading something more “wholesome”? Something about junior detectives solving local, non-violent crime perhaps? Something about the rescue of native animals and the hijinks they get up to?

I’m approaching this as a way to get an appreciation of what motivates readers to seek out, for example, horror fiction.

Check it out: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/08/young-people-are-dying-to-talk-about-death