Oh boy, this is belated

The awesome folks over at Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing gave the world the Lost Signals anthology, oh, um, eight months ago. Yeah. August last year.

I should maybe remember to update my website with a little more haste.

Within this intense anthology sound and radio wave themed horror, you’ll find my story, “The Sound of Yesterday”. Each story got a heading illustration by Luke Spooner.


Get yourselves a copy, fine readers!

Here’s the full Table of Contents.

Scott Nicolay writes the introduction
Matthew M. Bartlett, with “If He Summons His Herd”, and “Where Night Cowers”
T.E. Grau, with “Transmission”
Joseph Bouthiette Jr., with “From: Item L5161ORDE, ‘The Dangsturm Interruption’”
Josh Malerman, with “The Givens Sensor Board”
David James Keaton, with “Sharks With Thumbs”
Tony Burgess, with “Bad Lieutenant”
Michael Paul Gonzalez, with “How the Light Gets In”
George Cotronis, with “Darkhorse Actual”
Betty Rocksteady, with “The Desert of Wounded Frequencies”
Christopher Slatsky, with “Eternity Lie in its Radius”
Amanda Hard, with “Rosabelle, Believe”
Gabino Iglesias, with “The Last Scream”
Dyer Wilk, with “The Man in Room 603”
My story, “The Sound of Yesterday”
Matt Andrew, with “Children of a German Autumn”
H.F. Arnold, with “The Night Wire”
John C. Foster, with “Armageddon Baby”
Vince Darcangelo, with “The Small Hours”
Regina Solomond, with “Hush”
Joshua Chaplinsky, with “Feedback Loop”
Damien Angelica Walters, with “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home”
Paul Michael Anderson, with “All That You Leave Behind”
and James Newman, with “SOMETHINGINTHECODE”




I ramble often about letting my subconscious figure out my story problems or put together hints I didn’t even know I was including in my work. Some might call this their Muse, but that evokes a concept of something more Other than my process, an external force partnering the creative, while mine is more of a surprise discovery that I had the keys to the castle all along and just hadn’t checked the right pocket yet.

I believe everyone can learn to let their subconscious do the heavy lifting for tough plot points or laying foundations for even cooler events than originally outlined. But it’s probably not just a matter of typing madly away and expecting magic to happen out of nowhere. Because, ultimately, my subconscious can do the hard work as I’ve given it plenty of ammunition.

I consume information.

I’m always reading and learning new things, old things, anything in between. I read fiction as a way of life, but we’re graced with the internet age, and such an array of knowledge available in our homes, that it would be a disservice to existing without taking in as many of the universe’s juicy details as possible. I read non-fiction, technical texts, biographies, and just people’s personal blogs, relating their experiences and hardships and the way in which they overcome or simply survive the unimaginable… Without feeding so much into my mind, I wouldn’t have enough to draw on when I need my subconscious to insert something real and vital.

And it’s all interconnected. The way I name things, the themes I come back to, the character types and their trials and growth. What exists in my worlds, and the rules and lore. There are elements from all over the place, and they are all assembled in the unique way my mind functions. This is part of what people end up calling your “voice”, because the exact circumstances of you will be translated into your work.

Give yourself as much information, from a huge range of sources, across any number of subjects, as you can. Read and revel in knowledge. Build a deep well and fill it, and you will always have something to draw from. Let your subconscious handling putting together the jigsaw of these otherwise-disconnected pieces.


Behind the Scenes

I have a favourite saying: 90% of research will never make it onto the page. It’s great to bandy about percentages like that, but it seems like an accurate estimation from my experience.

I love the research which is associated with my fiction, because I love learning and acquiring knowledge. It’s easy, too easy, to get caught up in discovering new pockets of the world we live in and delving deep into the detail and minutiae. But, by far the majority of any information I unearth will never translate to prose. It will not be added into the literal text of my story. What that bulk of knowledge will do is build a stable foundation for the written work to rest upon.

Facebook friends will know I’ve been working on a piece of short fiction known only as the unexpected story. It has an asteroid in it. When the flash of unexpected inspiration overtook me, I put in some place holder name for said cosmic rock, because I needed to get the words out of my head as quickly as my fingers would allow, and there was no time for checking into the facts of asteroid naming conventions. Once the first rush had passed, I could hit the internets and find out as much material as possible, and adjust the story accordingly.

Upon discovery of any significant rock hurtling through the vacuum of space, it gets a provisional designation, using a specific system to state the year, which half of the month, and its order of discovery for that time frame. For example, the eighth object found on June 10th, 2015, should receive a provisional designation of 2015 LG. Cool stuff to learn, but not what I wanted to know, no matter how interesting.

I kept looking and read that when the asteroid’s orbit is calculated, it changes to an official sequential number, in order of its discovery in relation to every other astronomical object previously found. They can also get a temporary alpha-numeric code based on when and where they were initially spotted. Well, still neat, but not quite to the point of straight-up naming an important asteroid.

I got to the good stuff and learnt there are some pretty strict guidelines for naming a celestial body of any kind. Follow the specific rules, you can propose a name, and the space committee will have final say over approving the name. But the really fascinating part, and the most important for my story in particular, is that Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) should be given a name from mythology that is not associated with the underworld or creation themes. Now we’re getting somewhere. There are lists published with all the names already used. It runs heavily into Greek and Roman mythos, unsurprisingly, but that isn’t a requirement for an asteroid.

So, I took my new knowledge, and flicked through some of my older research, which extensively covered gods from multiple cultures. In the end, I had to choose a fertility deity who comes from Australian Aboriginal culture, for all the myriad reasons it worked in the story. My asteroid is Anjea.

And without this blog post, no one would especially know, because none of this explanation ever makes it to the page. It’s important to the story, not in it.


Write a little, write a lot

First, I careened through a 2,500 word goal in a day. Mostly because that number took my overall word counts to tidy, delightful milestones on the last day of September. The novel now sits at just over 50,000 words, and also marked 85k for the entirety of 2014. This hasn’t been the easiest year to write through with the various ups and downs, but I’m still trucking along and can make my final aims if I push hard through the coming months. I don’t enjoy deadlines, but I do like a challenge.

Then on the tail of stubbornly plodding to that target, I blazed through writing a complete 2,600 word short story in two days. I declared it both a happy story, and spur-of-the-moment, but neither description is entirely accurate. The themes are, in my mind, much happier than a lot of what I otherwise write, but it’s a nostalgic and somewhat heart wrenching tale. I know this, because everyone to read the story thus far has informed me they were tearful by the end, and in one case, cried in public. (Haha. Teach you for beta reading my work at a café, M.)

The story has also been bubbling away at the back of my mind for a very long time, all because I promised a friend I would write a happy story one day. It’s taken somewhere in the vicinity of a year for me to reach this mournful answer to writing a piece not based on horror or darkness, nothing evil, just something very, very human. While I had let the idea germinate long before, I didn’t expect it to fall out, nicely whole, when a single additional incentive to write it immediately was added to the mix.

I found a place to submit the story, which I’m grateful for twofold: it gave me the final push which brought the short to completion, and also provides a prospective home for my bundle of words. My novels are my main work, but the amazing connections I’ve found through having shorter work published is an invaluable element of the experience. Those friends don’t know how much their presence and positivity serves to hold my hand when I silently worry I’m not big and vivacious enough to find a larger readership or propel my career where I want it to be. They are quiet support against a doubtful mind, not just when they share appreciation for my work, but by their companionship throughout. So I deeply value every opportunity I have to try and get more of my shorter work picked up.

I know I have a long way to go. Every extra word written is inching me closer to that purpose.


Off on a tangent

I’ve begun writing many, many short stories when an idea strikes or the mood takes me; most of the recent ones are for my own entertainment, a kind of fanfiction for the world I’ve created in The Damning Moths. Sometimes triggered by a reader asking about a specific event in the novel, or just an offshoot from where I’m filling in blanks, plotting other events, and I will start wondering, “What happens here?”

Despite the level of enjoyment these pieces bring me, in a lot of cases, I feel compelled to drop the stories in favour of writing something more in the second novel. There is an oppressive need to get the next book done now, now, now, even as I’m juggling the many threads in the story and trying to keep everything sane, in order. But there the shorts sit, waiting, and I do try and tie off those loose ends eventually. They are too fun to ignore indefinitely.

After completing the draft for an extremely succinct piece, I shrugged and gave copies to my editors to see what they would say. Opinions were good. Apparently, the story appealed to them as well. And so, given a final polish, I’ve gone ahead and released Greenflame as another freebie over at TheDamningMoths.com. You’re all welcome to stop by and read this 1,600 word short when you have a moment spare.

There are more tales from In The Between, the pieces which catch my attention here and there. I look forward to the day when more of them are complete and I can publish them as well. In the meantime, the novel still screams at the back of my mind, demanding more words, more time, more attention. Maybe we can start placing bets on which story I will get through next.


In looking back

I’ve been writing for 3/5ths of my life.

This blog has already been around for three years, a confusing rush of time blended into the everything else happening. On that note, many thanks for continuing to read, my friends. This is, as always, an interesting experience for me.

We’re approaching the third anniversary of my first publishing acceptance, and in turn, the second anniversary of holding an actual printed book in my hands, containing a story I had composed. I’ve made some amazing friends in being a part of that anthology.

Almost six months ago, my first novel successfully launched, along with a little companion tale. The start of many to come in the Anecdota.

And now, another short story will be given to the world. Something small and special, still close to my heart, still young and cherished until the moment the anthology is made and I cannot hold the words as they pour between my fingers and make their way into the reader’s minds, when the story is no longer mine alone.

As stated on the Acknowledgements page of The Damning Moths, I merely write these things; they come to life when you read them. You take them in and experience the story, and they become more, something outside of my control.

Gazing over what I have already accomplished gives a sense of warmth and comfort, a happy glow proving, “I Am.” To know how many people I am reaching, from corners of the globe both obvious and unexpected, is poignant. I’m glad for what I have already done, and equally grateful for the small, screaming voice which always tells me it’s still not enough. Because I have a drive to do it all again. Write a story. Find it the right home. Release it to change and grow and transform into what it must.

Looking back over these things, just one possible sum of my existence, I know I have done well. Here I am, listening to songs hopeful and quietly melancholic and composing new tales, always, endlessly. I can wrap the past around me as a comforting blanket. None of it was a fluke, I’m leaving a mark.

I am here, doing what I was made for.


Cross a name off the list

Publisher Written Backwards has been responsible for some of my all-time favourite anthologies. Which makes me all the more amazed to be included in the next one…!

A short story happened one day, a strange little piece indeed. Inspired by reading about cutting edge medical breakthroughs in cancer treatment, at the same time as ancient Greek medical theories, and finding myself in a strange overlapping territory – “dyscrasia” being both the old Greek term of health imbalance, and now used in naming plasma cell cancer.

The music I happened to be listening to topped off the whole event. Somehow, I had a complete story on my hands, without being sure what to do with it.

I determined after sitting, reading, editing the whole thing that it was probably cyberpunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. And then I waited, and read, and re-read, still uncertain. What was this piece? What would I do with it? There was something very appealing in the story for me, but I don’t normally write sci-fi, and I spent a lot of time glaring at my computer screen. I edited a touch more here and there before throwing Dyscrasia at my beta readers. They got back to me, expressing opposite opinions. Add in another beta reader. Another day. Another reaction.

A new thought tickling at the back of my mind.

Editor Michael Bailey had mentioned his next anthology, Qualia Nous, was not entirely invite-only. The door might still be unlocked for those willing to knock. A great coming together of sci-fi and horror, guaranteed to be as epic as the previous Written Backwards anthologies, and here I figured, why not submit? I don’t know what else to do with Dyscrasia. Almost as if… I was passing the time. So submission goes off, I sleep, then head out for work, life goes on.

I get home again, see an email in my inbox.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours.

I’ve been formally accepted into Qualia Nous.

Dyscrasia is exactly what the editor was waiting for.

That weird cyberpunk story which bubbled up on its own accord, truthfully when I was procrastinating away from writing other novels, had landed me a place beside some amazing authors in one of the most exciting new markets out there. I can’t wait to hold a copy of Qualia Nous in my hands and see how this anthology has come together, with me, somehow, a part of it.