martinlivings: (Nice Pants!)
...shouldn't talk about how "dumb" an actress is, then misspell "Hitler"...

Proofreading FAIL...
martinlivings: (Default)
From the challenge laid down by [personal profile] jaylake HERE...

Story beneath the cut )
martinlivings: (Default)
If you haven't downloaded Shards: Damned and Burning by Shane Jiraiya Cummings yet... why the hell not??? I just read and enjoyed it in a single easy sitting. It's free, it's cool, and it's a neat taster for the full collection, Shards, which you should then go and order. Unless, y'know, you're [personal profile] girliejones and loathe flash fiction with a ferocity that burns the soul. But if you like flash fiction, especially horror flash fiction, then get out there and get it!

Plus, y'know, if that's not enough to tempt you, original artwork by [profile] ashr501. C'mon!
martinlivings: (Default)
So, I've now sent my story off to Close Encounters of the Urban Kind. I have no idea if [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's gonna like it, but it's done, which is the main thing. And it also marks the last of my deadlines for the time being.

I think I'll take a short break from writing. It's been pretty intense, writing these last two stories, both very different from one another. I'm very satisfied with how they both turned out, though. We'll just have to wait and see if the editors feel the same way!

Hmm, wasn't I meant to be writing a novel, not short stories? Ah well...

*hangs up his quill and parchment for a little bit*
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Regular readers might have noticed that I've been a little quiet lately. That's because my boss is off work sick, so all of her duties have fallen to me, along with my own. The nice thign is, Those Above have acknowledged that and temporarily increased my pay rate to recognise this, but nonetheless, it's been a bloody steep learning curve. I'm not a manager, but right now I'm acting as one. It's very unnerving.

Anyway, as a result, not much blogging. And not much writing either, but I have now managed to finish up a first draft of a story for Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, the final version of which is due at the end of the month.

The only problem is, looking at the story now, I have the strange feeling that it's... well, kinda shite. Plus I have no idea what to call the damn thing. It's a quandary. In fact, it's more than a quandary. It's a quintary. Maybe even a hexary. I'm not sure.

So, anyone feel like taking a quick look at about three thousand words of rough first draft and telling me if my suspicions are correct? If so, please comment here with an email address and I'll send it your way. Comments are screened, so your email won't be seen by anyone but me.

Damn this writerly self-doubting tendency...
martinlivings: (Me)
I just thought I'd mention one more before July staggered to a close...

Kate Bush... )


Jul. 28th, 2009 02:50 pm
martinlivings: (Down)
Rest in peace, novel. You were never meant to be.

martinlivings: (Me)
The news illustrates perfectly why I'm seriously considering giving up writing horror... there's nothing I can do that's worse than reality...

Otty Sanchez 'beheaded newborn, ate brain'

Former Liberian President denies cannibalism charges

Mobster 'watched mafia's Mad Sam grind body'

And this is just headline news from today... Jesus...
martinlivings: (Me)
Yes, Chanel Cole.


Australian Idol, Season 2. Came fifth. No-one else really remembers her.

She was completely out of place in Idol, of course. Sensual, jazzy stylings, entirely non-radio-friendly at the time. Self-destructed in spectacular fashion on an awful rendition of "Hit 'Em Up Style". After Idol, did virtually nothing, except a strange Portishead-style album with fellow Idol (and then partner) Daniel Belle and producers Statler and Waldorf, "Spook: The Dusk Project". [1]

Still easily the best thing to come out of that show. And also still waiting for that long-promised solo album, Chanel!

[1] Oh, and a Pascall's ad. :)

martinlivings: (Default)
Work on The Novel - uh, none. A bit of reordering and rethinking the timelines, but that's about it. [profile] halspacejock, your software has given me a multitude of ways I can avoid actually doing any writing on it! ;)

Work on short stories - uh, also none. Need to rewrite my first draft for my Sekrit Projekt (unless [personal profile] petekempshall says I can be more specific!), and write a first draft for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's project too. Once I finish with The Novel, or it's finished with me, whichever comes first!

So, why the update? Well, I submitted a story to Antipodean SF a while ago, and got it accepted today. Which theoretically brings my total stories either published or to be published this year to ten, a new record for me! Woohoo! *does a little dance*

That is all. Back to work, you lot, nothing to see here, move along.
martinlivings: (Me)
There's been a lot of blogging in my local arc of the blogosphere on female appreciation month, which is making me feel really bad. I look at my CD and book collections, and realise that I'm exactly what's wrong with the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time. It's almost entirely male. I'd say it's because I'm a bloke myself, and therefore, deep down, a sexist pig, but only half the CDs and books are actually mine, the other half are Izz's. So where does it all go wrong? Is it down to the type of music that we like, a type of music that, by and large, isn't produced by female artists? Does prejudice influence taste, or does taste influence prejudice? It's a chicken-and-egg situation, but either way, it ain't good.

The problem is, I've listened to almost all of the female recording artists that are being mentioned, some of them fairly extensively, and I have to say, none of them press my buttons, or at least not my good buttons. Some of them I quite like. Some of them I've entirely ambivalent about. And some I cannot stand. But bear in mind, that's the exact same reaction I have to 99% of male artists as well. So maybe it's just that my tastes are ridiculously narrow, and that, combined with the relative scarcity of female artists in that area, is what's caused this imbalance.

Having said that, my tastes aren't entirely testicular. So I thought I might one of the female recording artists who do press my good buttons.

And that would have to be Tori Amos.

Tori sings the number 1 song on the Hottest 100 of All Time...

I stumbled across Tori through her single, "Cornflake Girl", and on the strength of that bought the album, her second, "Under the Pink". It's a gorgeous album, surreal and full of metaphor and mystery. I still don't really understand it, but I know she does, and that's all that really matters. I went back and bought her first album, "Little Earthquakes", which is a much more literal, autobiographical and painful album. I challenge anyone to listen to "Me and a Gun" (sung acapella) without shuddering. I bought her next few albums, but they never excited me as much as the first two, and I've kind of drifted away in recent years. But those first two albums are still two of my favourites of all time.

What I like is storytelling in songwriting. And not just "I went and got some bitches with my homies, yo" kind of storytelling, but stories that have dimension and purpose. Not necessarily an agenda - that's something that puts me off entirely - but a purpose nonetheless. Tori's songwriting, for me, is like a female version of Trent Reznor's earlier work; pain and fear and love and everything else they're feeling, spilled onto the page whole without sugarcoating or censorship. It's sometimes hard to bear, but always impossible to ignore.

Oh, and she's a kick-ass pianist, getting as much emotion out of her instrument as she does from her voice and words. Like David Gilmour and his guitar, it's an extension of her, another voice. The playing on "Yes Anastasia" still sends chills up my spine.

Tori Amos is one of my favourite arists, full stop. And I really need to go back and give her later albums another spin. It's been a few years.

martinlivings: (Default)
Or: Don't put off until tomorrow what you can put off indefinitely...

Yesterday I described writing a novel as paleontology. Today, though, it feels less like arranging bones and more like eating an elephant. The task is so big that it's hurting my fragile little brain. And it's not that big a novel; how people write those massive fat fantasy books, I'll never know.

So, I decided to change my method. I usually write books as a single big Word document. Which is fine during the initial writing, and usually okay in the editing, as long as you get it basically right the first time. With this one, though, there's a lot of chopping and changing around, reordering chapters, inserting new chapters, all the while trying to keep it consistent. It's a frickin' nightmare.

So I bit the bullet, and decided to try something new. or, more accurately, something old, something I utilised a little many years ago when working on Carnies.

I decided to install [profile] halspacejock's yWriter.

This version's a huge improvement over the previous ones, I have to say that. Importing my work was... well, tricky, because it refused to import the first fifteen chapters, deciding instead to start at sixteen for no readily apparent reason. But I got over that and managed to get the entire manuscript imported and split into "scenes" (actually my chapters, but I knew I'd be changing it around so much that having chapter divisions at this stage would be pointless). It's a neat way of getting an overall look at the book. For example, I now know that I have too many scenes from one of the characters' point of view and not enough of the other. I can also see at a glance where I need to add more stuff. Neat.

Will it help? Who knows. But, if nothing else, it let me avoid doing any actual work on it for the entire morning...
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Slight change of plans... I don't think my brain can handle writing 6000 new words a day, so instead I'm aiming for 3000, plus some editing at the same time. I may not finish the whole thing by the end of the month that way, but at least I'll have the wordage on the page to edit if need be.


3000 / 30000 words. 10% done!
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
At the moment, I'm finding the act of writing a little like field paleontology. You go out and dig somewhere you think there may be something. Sometimes there's nothing there at all. Sometimes there's junk, bits and pieces of worthless detritus. But sometimes, just sometimes, there's something good.

Short stories are like fossils for me. Generally they're complete animals, even if only skeletons and a hint of an outline. The only work to do is to fill in the gaps, flesh it out, make it come alive. That's how my story for the latest sekrit projekt came to me, and more recently (ie, last night) the story for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek's project, though I'm not sure if that story is any good yet, there's still a lot of dirt on it to be cleaned off. But no time for that right now, i have to make some field notes then put it aside for later inspection.

No, right now is novel time. And novels are like the bigger dinosaurs, in that they aren't discovered fully formed and clear. They come in pieces, large and small, dug up over weeks and months and, yeah, sometimes years. And sometimes you think you've assembled all the bones correctly, only to discover more bones later on and realise that you made some mistakes in your initial assembly.

That's the stage I'm at right now. I thought I had a complete skeleton, only to find more bones in the pit. So I have to add those bones to the big picture, and rearrange the ones I'd already found. Some of them may not even be the right bones at all, might come from a different animal altogether.

But in the end, I will have my dinosaur. And it will have big teeth and big claws, and yea, it will make the earth tremble beneath its mighty feet.

And yes, I am avoiding getting started on this... how could you tell???
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
Or, the pain of leaving things until the last minute...

So, as astute readers may recall, the last three months were supposed to be spent working on finishing up a novel to a point ready for submission. And, if you're astute enough to remember MaNoWaMo and MaNoPoMo, you also realise that I didn't do any of it at all.

Now there are two work weeks to go before the end of July, which is the deadline I set for myself. A sane person would accept that they've left it far too late, and give up on the deadline.

As astute readers may recall, I am not a sane person.

So, the plan. I need to write another 30000-40000 words of the novel to bring it up to publishable length, and edit the entire thing into some kind of shape. In other words, to complete both MaNoWaMo and MaNoPoMo.

Two months of work.

In ten working days.

Piece of cake.

Write at least six thousand words a day for the first week. Once that's done, edit twenty thousand words a day every day for the second week. Sounds reasonable.

Did I mention next week is orientation week at the uni I work at? One of our busiest times?

Like I said, piece of cake... *twitch*
martinlivings: (Me)
Via [personal profile] angriest, [personal profile] dalekboy and [profile] tikiwanderer, we're looking at first lines of work. For this, I've decided only to include works currently in my "Under Construction" folder on my thumb drive, a lot of which I haven't actually touched or looked at in, well, years, and will probably never actually be completed. Plus the ones I have in "Working On For Publication", so we can get some slightly better lines, though they're all very much in rough draft form, so don't expect "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"!


First lines below the cut... )
martinlivings: (Nice Pants!)
The other day, I caught the end of the recently-axed afternoon show on channel 9, the one with a Daddo, a blonde woman and a traitor, apparently. Anyway, they were talking about a new dating web site in Melbourne called Drive By Dating, where you display a sticker on your car and if you see someone else with the sticker on their car that you like the look of, you can contact them through the website. Wonderful, also known as Drive By Stalking, but hey. That's tacky enough, but they showed the company's logo over and over again, and nobody said anything. Nobody said a damn thing. And I was sitting there, wondering, "are they blind????"

Here's their website:

And here's their logo, as it appears on their website, their stickers, and all over the news report:

I mean, really???? Nobody noticed????
martinlivings: (Writing Frustration)
  • Saturday morning - receive email asking to submit to an anthology with a (VERY) specific theme
  • Saturday afternoon - ideas beginning to coalesce
  • Saturday night - quick discussion with Izz about basic idea for plot
  • Sunday morning - sit down and type out detailed notes for story
  • Monday - work distractions
  • Tuesday afternoon - write 3000 word first draft
It's a shame not all stories come out that easily. For example, the one I'm supposed to be writing for [personal profile] jennifer_brozek (waves!) hasn't even reached the ideas phase yet (I'm so stumped on this one! Aargh!). Others, like "Blessed Are The Dead That The Rain Falls Upon", just come out all at once, from initial idea to completed (very long!) draft in a matter of an hour or two. But this one's pretty typical for me; get an idea, think on it for a while, maybe a few days, then write a first draft. And then, down the track, the last draft is unnervingly similar to the first one. That's because I actually write the first twenty or so drafts in my head [1] before I even put pen to paper [2].

And fast is good, at least for me. Fast eliminates that tiny internal editor and grumpypants that tells you something is a bad idea. That schmuck has no idea, trust me.

[1] And be grateful no-one ever gets to read those drafts, trust me...
[2] Figuratively, of course. I rarely even use pen and paper for notes, let alone actually writing!
martinlivings: (Nice Pants!)

And vaguely sci-fi too!


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Martin Livings

December 2009



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