Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Female Heroes

Reading a bit about female heroes coming to the fore in science fiction because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road. I reckon female heroes have been around for years, but it does depend on your definition of what a hero is. Here are some that I think fit the label:

Ellen Ripley - The Alien movies
Sarah Connor - The Terminator Movies
Sarah Connor - The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Dana Scully - The X-files
Purdey - The Avengers
Major Samantha Carter - Stargate
Gwen Cooper - Torchwood
Myka Bering - Warehouse 13
Elanor Arroway - Contact
Aryan Sun - Farscape
Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games
Oliva Dunham - Fringe
Echo - The Dollhouse
Sarah Jane Smith - The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Starbuck - Battlestar Galactica
Ellie - Tomorrow When The War Began
Sarah Walker - Chuck
Dr. Ryan Stone - Gravity
Charlie Matheson - Revolution
Sarah Manning - Orphan Black
Elizabeth Shaw - Prometheus.

There's no doubt that female heroes are hugely underrepresented in science fiction, as they are in other genres, but to say that due to two recent movies there is a sudden trend of an increase in the number of female heroes in science fiction movies and television is clearly wrong. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas Anthology

Hi all,

I have gift for those who read this blog. A Christmas anthology, containing a fantasy story written by me. I have just fixed the epub and pdf file links as they did not appear to be working.

epub file 
mobi file
pdf file  

It has a diverse range of stories written by writers from the Australian Writers' Forum.   

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My writing efforts in November

The graph to the left shows a drop in my word output in November, which suggests I spent a lot less time writing. That is not the case. My word output dropped because I was proofreading/editing and redrafting. I continued redrafting a novel and I also spent a week trying to finalise a long short story that was due for submission at the end of November.

I ended up writing about 5820 new words of fiction for the month.


I received three critiques of my story during the month. One was a very useful full edit, another was just a comment agreeing with the suggested edits of a previous critique, and the other… Well, first some background.

I did a copy edit/critique of one of the other stories written for our Christmas anthology. It was a non-fiction story about a Christmas spent in an Aboriginal community. I really enjoyed the story, I found it informative and was interested to read about life in an Aboriginal community written by someone who had lived in one. I made a fair few edits to the story, many for what I thought were repeated grammar errors.

The writer was not happy with my critique or the other one he had received. He said that as his writing was not good enough, he would withdraw his story from the anthology, and quit our writing group. I wrote back to him that it was a shame he was withdrawing his story and I thought it would be a worthy addition to the anthology.

He also said this about my story:

“I printed it out and commenced reading but was unable to finish it...........without saying anything I gave it to my wife to read. She couldn't finish reading it, either and her 'critique, was summed up in two words, .... "It's weird."”

As you can see from his comment, one of his various writing problems is the overuse of ellipses.

But I did not take his comments to heart as they appeared to be written out of spite. I also don’t think my story is that great, and I am still making changes to it.

At the end of November I asked Chris, whose book I helped edit, to have a look at my story. And he agreed. But I then realised that I should hurry up and finish it (is a story ever finished?) because it was due for submission at the end of November. Chris did have a look at the first 2,000 words or so though.

In contrast to the upset I caused the writer of the Christmas story, another writer was very happy with my critique of his 66,000 word novel. It took me just on three months to critique and it was the first volume of a very interesting science fiction trilogy. I offered to critique the sequel. I also critiqued another story for the anthology, and again the writer seemed appreciative of my comments.


Again, I did very little reading for the month.

A New Article on Divine

An article I wrote on an audio description trial on the ABC’s iview service went up on Divine a few days ago. Please have a look, because in years to come, when your eyesight is failing, you might need audio description when watching television.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

My writing efforts in October.

I finished the first draft of Branded in mid-October. At 135,000 words it is way too big for a young adult novel, so I am going to have to try to cut tens of thousands of words from it. I have already written notes for its sequel set 20 years later. 

I am happy with the story, but the writing is going to have to improve. After a night spent night thinking about whether to go straight into redrafting it or to put it away for a while and go back to another novel, I got up the next day and started redrafting it.

My redrafting is not editing, it is a lot of rewriting. I had hoped to start cutting the novel’s length, but by the end of the month, I had added another chapter and probably about 3,000 words to its length. Hopefully that is only because I now know my characters a lot better and I am just filling in some details at the start that will be cut out later on.

So all up, as you can see from the graph, I wrote about 12,444 words of fiction for October. That’s an average of 401 words a day. On eleven days I got to my quota of 500 words. During the editing phase, I hope to edit for two hours a day at the least. 


I received my first critique/edit of Shrinking, the short story I have written for a Christmas anthology a few of us Australian Writer Forum writers are putting together. It’s the first critique I have had of my work since finishing my masters, eight years ago. Since my masters, I have mainly spent my time writing first drafts of novels, so there has been nothing to critique. 

The critique was from a writer who I had critiqued and who, according to me, can write well. His critique of my story was positive and found no major problems with the story. His edits will be very helpful.

I critiqued another story for the anthology. This one was non-fiction, so I feel, after working with five different editors for Divine, I know what I am talking about when I suggested many changes to the story. It’s a good story, about the time the writer spent Christmas on an Aboriginal reserve, but I found many things, mostly small, but many repetitive, that I thought could be changed. I hope he doesn’t take offense with all the red ink I put on it. 

I also nearly finished critiquing the novel I started critiquing mid-August. I critiqued about 22000 words of it in four hits in October. It’s a very good novel that I am enjoying reading.


Once again, I read virtually nothing for the month, as I was too tired at night to read. I am still halfway through Hugh Howey’s Dust.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My writing efforts in September

Once more it has been a while since my last post. I have been extremely busy writing and doing other writerly things, as you will see in my update for October.  But this post is about September. 

In September my Ulcerative Colitis decided to remind me of its existence, so I had to take some medicine, which made me extremely tired for just over half the month.

At the beginning of September, I was writing a short story for a Christmas anthology that a few members of the Australian Writers Forum are creating. I finished the first draft of the story on the same day I started taking the medication. The story at that stage was 9,800 words, 3,800 words over the suggested word limit.  

I redrafted the story over the next few days, reducing it to 7,400 words. I then printed it out, proofread and edited it many times over the next couple of weeks. I found a lot to change each time, and eventually reduced the story to 7,200 words. On the last day of the month, I finally submitted it to the group for critiquing. I then returned to the novel I had been writing. 

I think one reason I made so many changes when proofreading was the story being in third person. I had not written in third person for a long time. My tiredness probably had something to do with it too. 

All up, I estimate that I wrote 8,746 new words for the month, much lower than for the previous months (as shown in the graph), but I expected my word count would drop when editing. I averaged 291 words per day. And only on nine days did I reach my quota of 500 words. I proofread/edited for at least two hours on about six days.


Due to tiredness, I only managed to critique about ten-thousand words of the novel I am critiquing. Sorry Peter. Ideally, I wanted to critique about twice that many words.


I read bugger all due to tiredness. I’m still reading Dust, the third book in Hugh Howey’s Wool series.

Non-fiction writing

I had another article up on Divine in September. It is about smart homes for people with disabilities. Divine has been having computer problems, which has meant my story hung around on its front page for nearly all of September. I also wrote the second and fourth articles listed on the site for that period. But I did not write any articles in September due to...  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My writing efforts for August.

I have finally made time to write my monthly blog post about my fiction writing efforts for the previous month. I have been extremely busy writing, editing, critiquing and being sick. Yep, my ulcerative colitis has come back at the wrong time, but when is a good time for it?

Fiction Writing.

I continued writing my novel, adding another 8549 words. I am very close to the end of the first draft, so it was with great reluctance that I stopped to write a short story I had committed to finish by the end of August.

I started the short story on the 17th of August, hoping to finish it before attending the Melbourne Writers Festival at the end of the month. At the end of August, I had written 5,582 words of it and it still was nowhere near finished. The story is for a Christmas anthology created by members of the Australian Writer’s Forum.

So all up, I wrote 14,031 words for the month, which is not quite the average of 500 words a day I am aiming for. I met my quota of 500 words a day on only 23 days. I have now written about 129,000 words of the novel.


I critiqued another story for, and then I committed to critiquing a whole novel on critters. Fortunately, the writer writes a lot briefer manuscripts than I do, with it being 66,000 words. By the end of the month, I had critiqued the first six chapters, about 10,000 words.


I finished reading the very good classic, I am Legend by Richard Matheson. It is one of the original apocalyptic novels. In it, a virus decimates the population leaving one lone survivor to battle vampire like creatures. It was made into at least two films, one of the same title and the much better The Omega Man. The novel is very different from both films. Although written 60 years ago, the novel still cracks a punch. I then started reading Dust, the third book in Hugh Howey’s apocalyptic Wool series.

Melbourne Writers Festival.

I went to the festival for the third year in a row. The only science fiction author I saw on a panel kept on apologising for his book being science fiction, so I did not buy it. I learnt a bit from a panel with the editors of Peter Carey and Jonathan Franzen (I’ve read a number of both author’s books.) Best author talk I went to by mistake. The festival organisers changed the venue without telling me, but my ticket still got me in to see Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket). He was there promoting a novel for adults called We are Pirates, and with a title like that, I just had to buy it. Overall, the festival was not as good as the two previous years. I hope to write more on it in upcoming posts. 

Divine Writing.

I had one non-fiction article published on Divine this month, about a casting call for an Australian web-series Aliens Vs Crips, where four people with disabilities try to survive an alien invasion.