Year of the Dog

2006 is the Chinese Year of the Dog. According to Chinese astrology, we Tigers are set to thrive this year – a year which promises opportunity, success, and professional consolidation. Indeed, consolidation is my keyword this year. Ange has sworn me to no new projects after the heady heights of 2005.

With only a few weeks left of the Year of the Rooster (the year for crowing about things), I felt it a good time to recap on what has been and gone, and what is soon to come.

Before I do, there are a few bits of good news to crow about. First of all, my writing seems to be far more invigorated in the early days of 2006. Inspired by a repeat of a true-life incident, I completed my second short story within a few days – this one a flash piece entitled Postcard from Paris (A Reply). It’s a little cliche as a first draft, but cathartic nonetheless.

In other writing news, my story Virgin in the Mist will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Shadowed Realms. This is the latest in a spate of scheduled appearances over the next few months. Vows will appear in Ripples #3 this month and Love in the Land of the Dead will be appearing in ASIM #23 in February(ish). If anyone is interested in reading some of my recent fiction – try Ian at Ticonderoga Online (issue #5) and Congo Jenga at Shadowed Realms (issue #8 – not for the faint-hearted!)
I’m hoping for some even more astounding writing-related news. The fingers, as always, are crossed.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn Shadow Box made the bestseller list (#8) for December at Fantastic Planet. Sales had halted prior to Christmas, but this news, coupled with a few big new year orders, has brightened me considerably.

The dying days of the Year of the Rooster have seen Shadowed Realms Central buzzing and crackling with creative electricity. The Redback mega-edition of Shadowed Realms is shaping up nicely, with a launch date towards the middle of the month. We’ve also come close to finalising the line-up of Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror: Best of 2005. It’s looking to be a fine mix and an intriguing read. More on this will follow soon.

So, onto my 2005 professional recap – and such a fine year it was.

I’ll make no bones of this point: I’m fairly new to writing and editing. I only seriously embarked on an informed professional writer’s career in 2004. With this in mind, 2005 was indeed a fine year.

In the last twelve months, I’ve come close to achieving my goal of being published in every Australian magazine. I had appearances in (or mades sales to) Aurealis #33-35 (Sobek’s Tears), Borderlands #4 (Hear No Evil), Ticonderoga Online #5 (Ian), Shadowed Realms #8 (Congo Jenga), Shadow Box (Cruel Summer series), ASIM #23 (Love in the Land of the Dead), Antipodean SF (A Killer Smile, The Mirror Speaks – forthcoming), Ripples #3 (Vows), and Daikaiju! 2: Revenge of the Giant Monster Tales (Beneath Southern Waves novelette).

I also picked up a couple of pro sales in 2005. Book of Dark Wisdom has proven to be a supportive market to my darker stories (Midnight on the Jetty and On Dark Clouds Borne), which have in the past been tagged ‘Lovecraftian’. I’d probably say my tone is pseudo-Lovecratian, but not the subject matter. European magazine Nowa Fantastyka reprinted Sobek’s Tears in Polish last month, which was one of the highlights of my professional year.

My editorial work perhaps overshadowed these accomplishments. Angela and I worked our arses off with a slew of new projects designed to reinvigorate horror in Australia. Shadowed Realms, under Angela’s control for the majority of the year (I took over the editorial reins for #8, but Ange returns with a vengeance this month with the Redback issue), had an outstanding year. Angela took it from a new webzine and transformed it into the one of the few professional spec fic webzines in the world, and Australia’s pro dark fiction zine. She published some of the best and biggest names in the world, including serials by Poppy Z Brite and Robert Hood, and fiction from Terry Dowling, Richard Harland, Martin Livings, Lee Battersby, and Clarion grads Mark Barnes (twice!) and Suzanne Church. Shadowed Realms stories Pater Familias (by Lee Battersby) and In Nomine Patris (by Martin Livings) were Nominated and Highly Commended respectively in the Aurealis Awards. Earlier in the year, Adam Wieland’s A Life in Art was Nominated for a Tin Duck.

Then there’s the anthologies. Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror: Best of 2005, Macabre: The New Era in Australian Horror, Fading Twilight, and The Book of Shadows (Volume One) are all forthcoming. With Angela, I released the innovative charity e-anthology Shadow Box. I also co-edited Robots & Time with Robert N Stephenson, which was released just prior to Christmas.

HorrorScope, with a team of dedicated and insightful editors who answered my call for volunteers, has been an unqualified success. Since August, HorrorScope has averaged more than 1000 readers a month and delivered over 100 news, editorials, interviews, and reviews. Mark, Andrew, Miranda, Stephanie, and Matt have done a fine job, and AD John joined us at the end of the year to add another voice to the mix. 2006 will see HorrorScope deliver reviews of the most prominent professional publications from around the world, in addition to the fine work already done in covering the local small press scene.

2005 was a good year for me for awards and recognition, despite my writing newbieness. In March (at Swancon), Sobek’s Tears was nominated for a Tin Duck for Best Professional Fiction, while Shadowed Realms was nominated for Best Professional Production. In the middle of the year, my story Ian was Highly Commended in the KSP SF/F Competition (and subsequently published in Ticonderoga Online). My flash story, Countdown Macabre (published in Antipodean SF) was on the Recommended Reading List of Congreve & Marquardt’s Year’s Best Australian SF & Fantasy. I also scored Quarter Finalist placings in the Writers of the Future contest with Yamabushi Kaidan and the Smoke Dragon and Blasphemy on Eight Wheels. The end of the year saw an unexpected Highly Commended for Revision is Murder (published in Simulacrum #11) in the Horror short story category of the Aurealis Awards.

The Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award shortlist is yet to be announced, plus there’s the upcoming Tin Ducks and Ditmars, so I’m remaining optimistic.

Then there was Clarion South. A great way to start the year and an experience I’d thoroughly recommend to any writer looking to make the leap into the professional ranks.

So here’s to 2006, the Year of the Dog. A year which promises to eclipse everything that came before it. Woof!

My Year of the Dog resolutions (or, more accurately, professional goals):

Complete two novels (Harbinger and Yamabushi Kaidan)
3 professional short story sales
5 Australian short story sales
Take a stab at a Children’s/YA novel.

*deep breath* *typing fingers at the ready*