And lo, the foul Winged Beast did step foolishly unto the maw of Fang Fischer, and thereupon did his dirty little feet get caught on the goop therein.
Enjoy your meal, Fang.
At the end of 2013, I started a novel, wrote the first 45% in a blaze of clattering keys – then shelved it for a year. Real Life and Study got in the way of things, and just when I pulled my nose out of the books, a couple of opportunities to write commissioned short pieces landed on my desk. Once those were squared away, I got back into my novel (empty earth thriller yet to be named).
The best news is, it’s falling out of my head just as quickly as when I first started it, which tells me the idea holds water. Early on, I’d cobbled together a thorough outline, detailing what each chapter would do to contribute to the story arc as a whole…
…which I’ve already started deviating from. I’ve changed horses midstream, and you know what? It’s okay.
No plan survives contact with the enemy. In this case, the enemy is my squirrelly writer hind-brain, which churns and burps out words into my fingers, which I then type with and wait a minute I’ve said too much.
Anyhow, I can’t think of a time when I’ve been 100% faithful to my outlines, even while the 1st draft word vomit is splattering all over the page. Safe to say, I’m probably not alone here – author Fiona McIntosh is also a notorious pantser, whose planning of her fantasy works involved a synopsis/outline she rarely kept to, a rough world map, and an idea of which famous actor resembled which of her characters.
She would then proceed to write some of the greatest page-turning works I’ve encountered. The Quickening books honestly kept me up into the small hours, despite the fact that they were pantsers of the highest order.
I’d like to think of my outlines as a plan – and the beauty of plans is that if Plan A isn’t working, there is a Plan B, Plan C etc. In my own process, it works best to let that writer goblin trapped in my subconscious write what flows best – keeps it interesting, and keeps the story itself honest. If that means my writer goblin pisses all over my intended finish line, hey, I’m cool with that.
“Well, of course the Space Goats are going to form an alliance with the Tin Can Cartel. They’ve both been attacked by the Shenanigans Society, and their differences aren’t that hard to overcome in the face of a shared enemy.” - Jason’s Writer Goblin, about 2 in the morning.
So if anyone wants me, I’ll be standing over this half-finished idea, watching my word-vomit fall upon it in a pleasing manner.
We have flies in Australia. Many, many flies. Consequently, many spiders. Both of these things are wrong, and usually arrive in tandem with summer, when our sun becomes a Flaming Bastard Murderball and tries to kill us all.
In an attempt to at least limit the flies, I have adopted two venus fly traps, Fang #1 and Fang #2. May you murder many flies in a gruesome fashion.
Well, it’s been a few weeks since I pulled the plug on the old Facebook account. Not a permanent move, but I’m definitely going to keep it switched off for the rest of the financial year.
Since doing this, I’ve blown the dust from my yet-to-be-named thriller novel and cranked out another four chapters. I wrote the first half of the novel about this time last year, and it’s been good to dive back into the work. Finding that I still have interest in the central premise of the story tells me it most likely holds water. I think 2 or 3 months of this level of productivity should see the first draft conquered and begging for mercy
I must say that I admire creatives who are able to multi-task. Artists who can focus on their social media presence, engage with people, skirt the rabbit-hole of general Internettery and actually accomplish things.
Me, not so much. The last time I wrote a book, I was writing full-time on an arts grant while parenting at home. It turned out the only thing that helped me get my daily word-count down was to lock my modem in the car. That way, if I genuinely needed it, I could go out and hook up the internet again, but it was a bit of a pain in the arse. So I didn’t bother, and usually defaulted to productive work.
Fastforward to 2015. Given that half of the Fischer house now runs on Wifi, I can’t exactly hide the modem everytime I want to write. So I’ve decided to examine my reasons for procrastinating, and eliminate one or two of the biggest timewasters instead.
Happy with the results so far. I did love the community I found on FB, but too much of a good thing meant Fisch Not Writing. So I’m going cold turkey, and will revisit how I use Facebook in July. One idea I had was giving Mrs Fischer the power of the password so I check it only once a week. A more extreme solution involves foregoing all technology and living under the house until I resemble Gollum.
And what a review! Eamonn Murphy from SF Crows Nest had this to say about my story:
“‘The Glorious Aerybeth’ by Jason Fischer is one of those superb Science Fiction stories that you come across once in a blue moon. The Glorious Aerybeth, named after the Empress, is a gigantic organic starship fuelled by flesh and blood which it obtains by scouring the surface of planets and eating every living thing thereon. The race that crews it has a ruthless, hierarchical society. The Empress has an interest in archaeology and has sent our hero, Gannet, to halt the ship’s operations and investigate the planet it’s about to scour. Captain Orace resents this as he has a quota to fill and shareholders to keep satisfied. Combining an original premise, fascinating aliens with an intriguing culture and a few neat plot twists, this is an excellent piece of work. It’s the best hard Science Fiction short story I’ve read this year and should be up for awards.”
Thanks Eamonn! We aim to please – this review has really made my day
The rest of the review can be read at the following link:
(lifted from my Facebook page)
Well, I’ve come to the realisation that I am wasting too much time online. Like a distracted bowerbird faced with too many shiny things, I hop about and gather rubbish for my nest and effectively do fuck all.
Because I don’t possess any self-discipline whatsoever, I’ve decided to deactivate this facebook account in a couple of days. I’ll leave it turned off for the rest of the financial year, and try to lift my game writing-wise. There are entire books need writing after all!
I’ll still be reachable on my email email@example.com, and will float around on Goodreads and occasionally Twitter. I blame all of you for being brilliant, witty and far too interesting
Some reviews have started to hit the net following the publication of my story “The Glorious Aerybeth” in On Spec magazine, issue #97. Reviewer Colleen Chen from Tangent Online says:
“During my first read-through of this story, I was completely confused. It introduces a race of beings and a sort of technology with little that readers can identify with. During my second read, though, I became engrossed in the intricacies of this world Fischer has built. I wasn’t sure of my interpretation, but I also noted embedded within the story a possible connection to Earth’s future seen from an alien standpoint that I found fascinating.
I did think that the aliens here seemed a bit too much like humans in terms of emotions and behavior, which seemed odd given how physically different they are from humans, but then again if they’d been any more alien I couldn’t have found a place to begin to relate. Overall, a rich story with a protagonist whose character is wonderfully flawed, giving us a glimpse into a xenopsychology as relating to a completely foreign culture.”
Full review can be read here: http://www.tangentonline.com/print–quarterly-reviewsmenu-261/on-spec-reviewsmenu-73/2560-on-spec-97-summer-2014
Over at Locus Online, here’s what reviewer Lois Tilton had to say:
“The characters here belong to an alien species obsessed with personal status, as measured by their plumage, and their technology is biological. Gannet is a high-status ship-breeder who has suffered a career setback, for which he is sent on a mission to report on the possibility of alien life that may have been discovered by the eponymous blood-ship. Gannet’s people and their creations are not very nice.
This one could have read as either horror or humor, but the humor prevails, making it difficult to take the horrific aspects of the tale seriously. Those not overly-sensitive should find it imaginatively entertaining.”
The rest of her short story reviews can be read here: http://www.locusmag.com/Reviews/#onspec2014su
Many thanks folks! Reviewing is a hard road to hoe, and it amazes me just how much material the average reviewer actually gets through. You’re the unsung heroes of publishing
My story “Percy’s War” has just been released in the new issue of Review of Australian Fiction. When I say it’s my story, that’s not exactly true. “Percy’s War” is the story of my great-grandfather, Percy Altschwager, who served in World War I in the Middle East.
Percy, complete with slouch hat and Light Horse uniform
Not only did he serve in the Light Horse (in a machine gun crew), he was also one of the first people to own a car in his district (he won a lottery for a Model T Ford with two mates, was the only one who knew how to drive). Percy also went out and worked on the Overland telegraph line, back when one wire connected Australia to the rest of the world.
There’s no doubt that Percy was an interesting fellow, but by all accounts he didn’t talk about the war much. After poring through his war records and that of his brother Bernie (who saw a lot of action throughout France and I believe Gallipoli?) I have blended reality with my own unique brand of fantasy. He wasn’t on deployment for very long by the time the Armistice was signed, but that’s not to say he didn’t face a unique war of his own…
Just to add to the mix, you also get a story from J.J. Irwin, “Afterparty”. Irwin tackles urban fantasy like nobody’s business, and this offering is second-to-none. J.J. Irwin is a fellow Clarion South survivor, ink-scribe of the highest order, and if nothing else you should be buying this issue to read her work.
Volume 12 Issue 2 of the Review of Australian Fiction can be found at the following link: http://reviewofaustralianfiction.com/issues/volume-12-issue-2/
Subscriptions to the Review of Australian Fiction can be found via this link, and apparently subscribers get newsletters and all sorts of other goodies: http://
I’ve been lucky enough to score a slot in the upcoming book Cthulhu: Deep Down Under. The stories and artwork are all based around H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos series, with the twist that these pieces are all set in Australia.
So the book has been done, and all the artwork assigned and completed. Some great Australian artists and writers have been attached to this project, and we’ve nabbed a foreword by none-other than RAMSEY FRICKEN CAMPBELL.
I’ve had a look at the finished galleys, and Cthulhu: Deep Down Under is simply incredible. So where is this book, I hear you ask?
Here’s the kicker – outside of a few prototype copies, it doesn’t exist yet. Our fearless editors have launched a crowd-funding model to get the anthology off of the ground.
The way it works is that you, the discerning reader, throw a few bucks into the pot. At the bare minimum level of funding, you will get the e-book. The next level up, you pre-order the paperback version. So you’re effectively pre-ordering your copy.
Depending on how much you contribute to the project, your rewards increase. There are all sorts of limited edition things, posters, mentoring sessions with professionals, the works. Please head over to the following link to see what goodies are on offer: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cthulhu-deep-down-under
The crowdfunder campaign has officially kicked off at the Armageddon Con, and in a short couple of days it’s already grabbed a swag of donations/purchases. Get amongst it – I might be biased, but I still reckon it’s a great book.
Something that always tickles me pink is hearing my writing on a podcast or radio show. Ion Newcombe from Antipodean SF runs an online radio show to go along with his legendary flash fiction magazine, and he’s been recently posting readings of some of my early stories. I love what this guy does, and it’s been a buzz to hear my stories from way back when. I think I owe this bloke another story soon…
(contain’s my story “Empire’s End”)
(contains my story “Song for the Lost”)
(contains a review of my short story collection “Everything is a Graveyard”)
While I’m compiling a hyperlink salad, here’s another recent recording, but this time it’s of me delivering a guest lecture at Flinders University for “Writers and their Worlds”. I had a great time chatting to the students about my writing experiences, and for the most part I’m actually coherent and organised