I Have a Story in ‘Killing it Softly’ The Best by Women in Horror

I was thrilled to have a reprint of my story Coralesque selected for inclusion in ‘Killing it Softly’ The Best by Women in Horror (Volume 1).

Released by Digital Fiction Publishing Corp, the anthology contains 31 tales of horror from female writers, including New York Times Best Sellers, Bram Stoker winners, and other genre greats.  I’m sharing a table of contents with some pretty awesome talent.

Torn Asunder — Rebecca Snow

Lambent Lights — H.R. Boldwood

Nosophoros — Christine Lucas

What the Rain Brings — Gerri Leen

Taking it for The Team — Tracie McBride

Here We Go Round — Rie Sheridan Rose

Songs for Dead Children — Aliya Whiteley

Music in the Bone — Marion Pitman

All of a Heap — Jenner Michaud

Traitorous, Lying, Little Star — Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

Truth Hurts — Carole Gill

A Trick of the Dark — Tina Rath

Abysmoira — Airika Sneve

Skin Deep — Carson Buckingham

Orbs — Chantal Boudreau

Rule of Five — Eleanor R. Wood

Guilty by Chance — Nidhi Singh

Ecdysis — Rebecca J. Allred

Coralesque — Rebecca Fraser

The Funhouse — Jo-Anne Russell

Graffiti — K. S. Dearsley

Complete — Amanda Northrup Mays

Ellensburg Blue — M.J. Sydney

Abandoned — Rose Blackthorn

The Call of the House of Usher — Annie Neugebauer

Ravens — Elaine Cunningham

Foxford — Sandra Kasturi

The Root — Jess Landry

Long Time, No See — Sarah Hans

Millie’s Hammock — Tory Hoke

Changed — Nancy Holder


It’s great to see an anthology that gives voice to, and celebrates women in horror. There are misconceptions out there that women are incapable of writing horror effectively, and we’re often underrepresented. I’m happy to say that this mindset is starting to shift, thanks in part to anthologies like this, and publishers recognising the demand for diversity across all demographs.

‘Killing it Softly’ is now available in Kindle or Paperback, and can be ordered here, just in time for Halloween!

Happy writing, happy reading, and happy days 🙂

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I Had Lunch with Tim Winton

Ok, so did a whole bunch of other people, but that’s not important 🙂

On Friday I got to meet one of my literary heroes when Tim Winton came to the Safety Beach Yacht Club on the Mornington Peninsula for a literary lunch to coincide with the release of his latest book The Boy Behind the Curtain.

For most, Winton needs no introduction. He’s published twenty-eight books for adults and children, won the Australian Vogel Award, won the Miles Franklin Award four times, and twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.  I’ve long admired Winton’s work – he writes with such authenticity and lyrical beauty that at times I’ve stopped reading to reflect on the magic I’ve just experienced, or to wonder if I could ever inspire such depth of emotion in my writing.

The themes of Winton’s books capture Australian life and culture in all its rawness and realism.  Family dynamics are explored and probed, coming of age issues, environment, spirituality, nostalgia, and gender are all brought to life through well-rounded characters and plots cast in familiar settings.  It’s the settings he writes so vividly that I find most satisfying about Winton’s work. He has a talent for writing landscape and place, so that the very locations of his books take on a persona of their own and become as significant as central characters.

This was echoed in Winton’s response to an audience question about what kick starts a story idea. “I start from a place – a social or physical ecology. For me background comes first, that’s why landscape is so important in my writing. I steep myself in a place … and out of the heat wave, a figure comes.”

Winton was generous with his time, reading two excerpts from his new book, a memoir delivered through reflections on events that have shaped his life and impacted his writing. He conversed at length with facilitator Paul Kennedy (author of Fifteen Young Men), before signing books and graciously posing for photos.

I was a slightly author struck, but (amazingly, for me) managed not to say or do anything to embarrass myself! The day was made more enjoyable by sharing a table with some of the lovely crew from the Peninsula Writers’ Club – who are all die hard fangirls – and we got a group shot to celebrate the momentous occasion.


Author talks and literary lunches are a great way to meet likeminded people, and get motivated and inspired. And when you get to meet one of your literary heroes it’s a shot in the arm that makes you want to dust off that manuscript buried in the bottom drawer, or get started on a new project right away.

Happy writing, happy reading and happy days.


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Interview for Australian Spec Fic Snaphot 2016

This month I was interviewed for the Australian SpecFic Snapshot 2016.  The Snapshot’s series of interviews provides a great overview of who’s who in the Australian Speculative Fiction Community. It has occurred since 2005, launched by the initiative of Ben Peek.

Today, the Australian SpecFic Snapshot has evolved into a mammoth task, with a team of tireless interviewers posting some terrific questions to speculative fiction writers, reviewers, editors, illustrators, publishers, graphic novelists, and screenwriters around the country.

Head on over and check out the latest and greatest in Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Big thank you to Helen Stubbs for my questions.  You can read my interview here.



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Contact2016 – It’s a Wrap

This post is a little later than planned but, you know, life …

Over the Easter weekend I attended Contact in Brisbane. For those unfamiliar with the event it celebrated the 55th Australian National Speculative Fiction Convention (aka NatCon).  It was the first time in a decade Brisbane had played host to NatCon and they went out of their way to impress, delivering a first class convention across all levels.

The program was extensive with panels, workshops, book launches and signings, guest of honour speeches, kaffeeklatsches and activities to please every medium and mode of fandom, craft development, entertainment and interest.

Guest of honour included Keri Arthur, Jill Pantozzi, K A Barker, Ben Aaronovitch and Maria Lewis.  Unfortunately my budget and baggage allowance didn’t allow for rampant expenditure on books this year (boo), but I picked up signed copies of the first of Ben’s Rivers of London series, and Maria’s Who’s Afraid?  I also sat in on Maria’s workshop geared towards social media for writers. She’s a wonderfully refreshing communicator with a massive personality.


The biggest challenge of NatCon was choosing which panels to attend, there was such a comprehensive choice. I spread myself around covering everything from Are There No New Ideas? to New Worlds and Old, Real Fantasy, Dead Ends and Red Herrings, You Read How You Buy, Access All Channels (focused on the portrayal of disability in spec fic), Ripped from the Headlines, Kill or be Killed, Writing the Fantastic City, and Of Men and Monsters … Phew!

I also got the opportunity to pitch my urban fantasy novel to the fabulous Alex Adsett, and attend the Ditmar Awards on Sunday night.

Huge thanks to the committee, panelists and volunteers for bringing the weekend together and working like demons to execute everything with style and humour.

As a side note, conventions are an interesting dynamic no matter which way you are socially geared. There’s the thrill of reconnecting with old friends, meeting cyber friends ‘in real life,’ and making new ones. There can also be times when you’re floating on the fringes looking for an anchor. Thankfully, majority of people at cons have experienced this and are hardwired towards inclusivity. So, if you’ve been thinking of attending a con in the future but the thought of putting yourself out there socially makes ice trickle through your veins, take a deep breath and allow yourself to be swept up in the welcoming, creative energy.

(There’s also the bar. Writers love a bar. And coffee. Both are great for debriefing and regrouping. Did I mention the bar)?

Leaving you with some pictures from the awesome panels. Happy writing, happy reading, and happy days. 🙂





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What I Read In 2015

Normally I’m a voracious reader. Normally. But 2015 wasn’t really a normal year. It was a twelve month juggling act –  work, freelance obligations, family commitments, and completing a thesis for my Master’s Degree – which didn’t leave a whole lot of spare time for my favourite escape, reading.

I did manage to preserve sanity by escaping to new worlds and meeting new characters on several occasions though, and my 2015 reading list shaped up to be quite eclectic. On reflection, I’m pleased to note fifty per cent of the list is made up of Australian authors. There is so much talent in the spheres of Australian writing, across all genres.

I read more forensically these days than I ever have before, and some titles gripped me more than others with the quality of writing and handling of character and plot. Enjoyment from reading will always be a matter of taste though (as it should be), so I haven’t offered reviews of each, just a few indulgent comments.

Overall, 2015 was a damn fine year of reading, even if it wasn’t abundant.

1.  ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ by Shirley Jackson. Shirley Jackson is one of my literary heroes. She has an innate ability to create a false sense of security before tipping everything on end before you even realise what you’re reading. Merricat and her family stayed with me all year.

2.  ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.  This had been on my ‘to read’ list for ages. I couldn’t put it down. It stirred many emotions – shock, outrage, frustration, stress.

3.  ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman.  Ursula Monkton is shuddersome! I always enjoy books that tackle the crossover between childhood and adulthood, especially within dark and unsettling parameters.

4.  ‘Last Year When We Were Young’ by Andrew McKiernan.  A fabulous collection of intelligently crafted tales. While dipping, and often plunging, into delightful darkness, McKiernen’s work should appeal to any lover of well-told fiction, irrespective of genre.

5.  ‘A Girl Like Me’ by Penny Matthews.   Young adult novel centred around the true story of a tragic crime that took place over a hundred years ago in rural Australia. Nicely told – secrets, characters (real and imagined) that you care about, and an interesting glimpse into social dynamics of yesteryear Australia.

6.  ‘Burial Rites’ by Hannah Kent.  I badly wanted to love this book. Another story inspired by a real crime, but what a setting – Iceland in 1829! Plus a debut novel by a young female Aussie that had received rave reviews and award nominations. But I didn’t love it. I found the middle section a real struggle. Nevertheless I was totally impressed by the achievement of this book – the sheer volume of research, the powerful setting – Iceland’s landscape is brought to life in stunning detail and takes on a dark, cold, foreboding character of its own. I would surely die in a badstofa! What Kent has done is quite astounding and I look forward to her next offering, but I did wish the middle section of Burial Rites maintained the pace of the start and finish.

7.  ‘Remarkable Creatures’ by Tracy Chevalier.  Another work based on historical events. I’m dinosaur mad, and Mary Anning fascinates me, so this was a quick, easy read. Girl Power! (Or as much as we could wield in 1810).

8.  ‘Blood Meridian’ by Cormac McCarthy.  I tried to finish Blood Meridian, but admit I abandoned ship about midway. It was just too laborious and repetitive a read stylistically for my tastes. It has moments of utter literary brilliance (of course it does, it’s McCarthy), but I found myself having to be dragged back to it. I will give it a crack again down the track as I do want to see it through. I’ve noticed Blood Meridian seems to polarise many a reader – it’s either loved or loathed. I need to see it out properly and process before I can offer a more valid opinion.

9.  ‘Do the Creepy Thing’ by Graham Joyce.   The creepy thing the girls do before the creepy thing happens to them is by far creepier than the subsequent creepiness. Got it?

10. ‘Blueback’ by Tim Winton.  I read this in one sitting. I love Tim Winton’s writing, and have such an affinity with the ocean that Blueback was always going to be an enjoyable read.

11. ‘So Much to Tell You’ by John Marsden.  14 year old Marina’s story told through diary form. I didn’t realise this was Marsden’s debut novel.

12.  ‘Midnight and Moonshine’ by Angela Slatter and Lisa L Hannett.  A classy collection of interconnected tales. Stunningly beautiful writing. Rich and intelligent. A unique book that deserves its accolades.

13.  ‘Blockade Billy’ by Stephen King   I much preferred the bonus story, ‘Morality’ at the end of the novella.

14.  ‘Flutes in the Garden’ by Chip Richards.  Beautifully written and illustrated with an important message – ‘a story of miracles and the magic of life’. This book was a gift to my son by the author, and it will always have a place on our family bookshelf

15.  ‘11.22.63’ by Stephen King.  SK delivers in spades. And the research component that underpins it is awe inspiring. I understand it is being made into a movie starring James Franco. Pass the popcorn!

16.  ‘Two Wolves’ by Tristan Bancks. My last read of 2015 –  Middle grade novel with terrific pacing, fabulous chacarterisation and real moments of tension.

I hope everyone had a great year of reading, and if you’re anything like me you already have your ‘to read’ pile growing for 2016. I hope I can squeeze in more titles this year.

What were your favourite reads of 2015?

Happy New Year, everyone … and happy writing, happy reading and happy days 🙂

We Have Always Lived in the CastleA girl Like MeBlueback200px-Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_CoverTwo Wolves

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Scribblings from the National Writers’ Conference 2015

Last weekend I attended the National Writers’ Conference, the two day flagship event of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, held at Melbourne’s Town Hall.

The conference is held over Saturday and Sunday with a range of panels hosted by leaders in their field. With such a fabulous schedule it was a challenge choosing which panels to attend. I selected eight across both days, and geared them towards personal interest as well as those that would offer some benefit in skill development and sharing of experience.

Panel members included the likes of Kylie Ladd, Anna Poletti, William McInnes (who’s a bloody funny bloke), Sulari Gentill, Oslo Davis, James Phelan, Kirsty Murray, and many more wonderfully talented folk.Emerging Writers' Festival

I thought I’d share some little pearls I scribbled down by way of writing tips and advice, and snippets of wisdom I found pertinent to my own writing life:

Kylie Ladd offered “Read widely and forensically, it will help you identify why something does or doesn’t work.” “It’s normal to cringe when you read your own work; normal to doubt yourself.” (Phew). “Write for your art, but edit for cash. I hate to make it sound like that, but publishing is a business.”

Oslo Davis made me smile with his intimation, “One day people will see me for the fraud that I am.” It’s always refreshing to know most artists seem to harbor that element of self doubt. Oslo also encouraged others to “Not read reviews of your work. It will take 934 good reviews to wipe out the impact of the one bad one you read.”

“If you write well no one will notice an adverb or a speech tag, they will be so caught up in your story.” I loved this advice from Sulari Gentill. I know some editors go crazy if even one adverb is used, denouncing it as ‘bad writing’. I totally get why adverbs are considered in this light but sometimes, sometimes … a well chosen adverb works beautifully, in my opinion.

Sulari also said we should trust our readers and allow them in. With regards to character description, all Sulari supplies is hair colour, eye colour and height, and allows her reader to bring to the story their own interpretation, saying, “It will help them engage with your story. Allow your reader’s ideas to encroach on your own. Be brave enough to lose a little control.”

“If you don’t write your story then no one will. Find a way to believe you are the best and only person to tell your story,” encouraged English Lecturer and all round cool cat, Anna Poletti. She also advocates getting up from your desk and going for a walk or changing activity to bring what is at the back of your brain to the front. As someone who power walks through challenging plot points and problems, I wholeheartedly agree with this advice.

And lastly, the very funny writer and actor, William McInnes, offered this pearl of wisdom, “Never take yourself too seriously, but take what you do seriously. Life is too much fun to disappear up your own arse.” Yes.

All in all, it was a great weekend, with lots of take home value. Melbourne is a wonderfully supportive city for writers of any level, and really embraces diversity and inclusivity. The Emerging Writers’ Festival is a celebration of literature across all mediums, encouraging creativity, innovation and connectivity with a broader writing community. Hope to see you there next year!

Happy writing, happy reading and happy days 🙂

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ANZAC Day: A Young Man’s Promise

100 years ago today at dawn’s first light, Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli to fight a bloody campaign that would last for eight months and result in the loss of thousands of lives.

ANZAC Day today is a day of remembrance and recognition. A day to commemorate Australians and our New Zealand comrades who served, and lost their lives, in all wars, conflicts and peace keeping operations.

In commemoration, I  introduce a poem written by my Father some years ago.

In “A Young Man’s Promise” the reader is walked across a World War 1 battlefield, where the ghosts of conflict reach out to rattle their chains with resonating imagery, and a young man honours his great grandfather.

For all who have and will serve.  Lest we forget.


A Young Man’s Promise

By Richard Forcey

He walks with slow and measured tread

Across the fields where many died

While ghosts of armies long forgotten

March with him, quietly, by his side.


And as he picks his way through cornfields,

Scenes once faded fill his eyes,

He hears exploding shells long fallen

Now drowned out by a million sighs.


Young men in ragged great-coats cower

In rat-infested trenches foul

And wait the dreaded words,”Let’s go,lads!”

Once more to face the mortar’s howl.


As through the cloying mud they blunder

There’s just one thought in every mind,

“Let it be quick! Oh please God, spare me,”

Drawn-out dying, screaming, blind.


Moonlight, searchlight, stark white flare,

Each flicker rouses numbing dread

Exposing corpse-strewn blasted earth

A shattered school room, children fled.


A row of houses, crumbled, burning

An upturned pram, two bloated cows,

A little girl with death-glazed eyes,

Her blood defiling floral blouse.


And stumbling forward, bayonets fixed,

Towards the whites of foreign eyes,

Does any wild spectre think

He’s just a tool the system plies?


Now bullets whine amongst the debris,

Announcing battle to commence

The rag-tag horde runs forward, yelling,

To spend themselves in vain offence.


The din of conflict, then the silence,

Cold rain falls on cratered ground

The sole survivor, gasping, retching,

Claws blood from eyes and looks around.


A reeking, smoking landscape greets

His blurred and disbelieving gaze

A field sown thick with shattered comrades

Will haunt him all his living days.


So now the youth who picks his pathway

Through swaying tracts of golden corn,

Reflects upon the needless slaughter,

The “glory” under banner torn.


The ghosts recede – Great Granddad’s medal

Laid on the ground by loving hand,

The young man turns, head bowed, then briskly

Walks wondering from the hallowed land.




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