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Matt Cowens
01 September 2010 @ 08:04 am
The book launch for the Random Static Press anthology A Foreign Country was great fun, and I am thoroughly enjoying the book.  My story No Hidden Costs is up third on the table of contents (which can apparently abbreviated to TOC), just after Simon Petrie's Portia Goes A-Hunting and before Lee Murray's Consumed.  It's a beautifully put together book and it's an honour to be included.

The local press (Kapiti Observer) article about the anthology and my contribution was neat too - and a good interview to do.  I'm not a huge fan of talking on the phone but when the person on the other end is an SF fan who's genuinely interested in Speculative Fiction and the NZ SF scene it's a pleasure :-)
Matt Cowens
08 July 2010 @ 06:39 pm
Started the day by cooking Chicken Satay and arm-wrestling my wife before 8am rolled around.  It was a fun way to kick off our 10 year anniversary!  This was followed up by shopping, writing, Debbie's mum looking after Dom while we went out to a cafe, delicious curry for dinner and more writing.

I have been wearing my new fluffy dressing gown since 4pm.  I may never take it off.  It is warm and soft and a mighty good anniversary gift.
Matt Cowens
 A flash fiction story of mine - The Tunnel - is up on the excellent Wily Writers website in both text and audio formats this week.  It's a flash story, so is under 1000 words.  The audio version is something like 6 minutes long / 2.8mb.  Set against a backdrop of war, it's a story about... well, why don't you read it or listen to it, it won't take long, then I can really say what's on my mind :-)

Spoilers and behind-the-scenes...Collapse )
Matt Cowens
16 May 2010 @ 06:31 pm
This week two copies of the Shades of Sentience anthology arrived in our letterbox.  Why two copies?  Because two authors in our household are included.  And with the stories being arranged alphabetically by author Debbie Cowens' A Final Glimpse of Light and Dark appears just before my own Murray the Sex Machine.

It's a handsome tome and a great pleasure to see our names in print!  The anthology can be purchased here:   http://sentientonline.net/?p=1794 and pictures of it can be seen on Debbie's blog here
Matt Cowens
15 May 2010 @ 04:27 pm
I’ve recorded a few stories now, both my own and other people’s (for librivox and everydayfiction.com), and it’s been interesting for me to reflect on which stories best suit my current reading style and skills.

Podcasting skills, styles, and plans...Collapse )
Matt Cowens
15 April 2010 @ 07:38 pm
I have recorded a few short stories for everydayfiction.com recently. There are two new stories coming up in the next couple of weeks which I recorded using my new cheap shotgun mic (which I'm very fond of). Here are the ones I've recorded so far (all flash fiction so under 5 minutes(ish), with a few seconds music added at the beginning and end):  Links will take you to the everydayfiction page for each podcast where you can listen or download.

Dead Weight - by Matt Cowens

Mr Sterne - by Michael Tracy (one of the site's all-time top-rated stories) 

The Death Meter - by Debbie Cowens 

Code Mustard - by Chris Allinotte 
Matt Cowens
03 April 2010 @ 12:03 pm
A podcast of my flash story 'Dead Weight' is now up on everydayfiction.com (read by me):

Dead Weight by Matt Cowens

And Waste Not, a very silly story about nicking heat from dinosaurs, is now on the Pandora archive of antisf.com.au:

Waste Not by Matt Cowens

And here's another daft one-panel comic :-)

Matt Cowens
12 March 2010 @ 12:22 pm
 This is a 1-panel comic from a month or two ago - one of the first in my current run of doodlings :-)

Matt Cowens
09 March 2010 @ 07:10 pm
 Another 1999 effort:

Matt Cowens
06 March 2010 @ 04:11 pm
First, a rather silly short story I wrote last year is up on AntipodeanSF  - Waste Not.  It's about a press conference to discuss sourcing energy from elsewhen.

Second is a second anthology acceptance for the year.  Debbie and I both have stories in the upcoming Shades of Sentience anthology, and I've had a story accepted for the Au Contraire anthology from Random Static Press.  It's a paying gig too, which is awesome sauce (we're getting contributor copies of the Shades of Sentience anthology but no cash).  Not as well paid as the short story that Debbie sold last month (which has already been converted into several comedy DVDs from amazon.co.uk), but a sweet, sweet deal nonetheless!
Matt Cowens
26 February 2010 @ 07:44 am
 I found a pamphlet I made last century, have scanned the contents and begun colourising :-)

1 Panel Comic - the letter F
Matt Cowens
19 February 2010 @ 12:06 pm
This time the caption was written by my lovely wife Debbie. It was a fun comic to draw :-)

Steam Punks

Anyone know of any places I could send some 1 panel comics? I have a couple I'm going to send to Space Squid...
Matt Cowens
06 February 2010 @ 12:35 pm
It's a nerve-wracking thing to know that a review of something you wrote/assembled is in the pipeline, so it was with great relief that I read the very favourable review of The Event on Scary Minds.  It'll be interesting to keep an eye on downloads over at lulu and see how many people give it a try based on the review.  There was a lot in the review to be pleased about but two lines that stood out for me were:

"The horror elements are well conceived and build upon each other keeping the reader on their toes as each new development occurs."
"If Janet Frame had of decided to write a horror novel... I believe The Event is the novel she would have written."

In other news the feedback in the comments section of my story Dead Weight, which went up on Everyday Fiction yesterday, has been an interesting mix.  Being a story with a twist I knew it wouldn't be to everyone's taste but it's scoring well and there are clearly some people who liked it.  I'm very curious about the comment that there are a few instances of 'finger pointing' in the story.  I shall have to google up some info on what that means...

Lastly, here's a 1 panel comic that Simon Petrie wrote the caption for (on his LJ) and I drew:

Matt Cowens
15 January 2010 @ 12:33 pm
My wife Debbie and I have both been writing short, speculative fiction recently and sending stories out to various sites.  Writing is an immensely satisfying activity, as is reading and critiquing the writing of others.  When it comes to sending stories out, however, there is an element of competition that arises.

Because the stories we are writing are suitable for similar markets Debbie and I have had to make decisions about where to send things, and whether submitting stories simultaneously to the same place is a good idea.  Do we want to directly compete for a spot in a zine or on a website?  Is it a good idea for Matt Cowens and Debbie Cowens to appear in the same inbox?

To keep the competition healthy we have:
- extensively read, reread and made suggestions for each other's stories so that we are both highly invested in any submission, regardless of which of us wrote it.
- taken turns sending stories to some sites (waiting until the other person heard back before making a submission).
- celebrated each other's successes
- generally been lucky enough to receive acceptance emails and anthology offers within about a week of each other, so our levels of success are very even :-)

So, with writers' groups or writing couples competing for a limited number of publication spots, how do people keep the competition healthy?  Or is a little unhealthy envy, one-upmanship and pride part of a successful writer's recipe?
Matt Cowens
10 January 2010 @ 07:40 am
I’ve been meaning to record podcasts for some time and I’m also a big fan of new, shiny toys. This has led to one or two experiments in sound recording.

Recording methods I have tried...Collapse )
Matt Cowens
This story is a part of the Spec the Halls contest for speculative winter holiday-themed fiction, artwork, and poetry. You may find guidelines and links to other entries at http://www.aswiebe.com/specthehalls.html

Read "The Death Star of New Bethlehem", a Christmas story :-)Collapse )
Matt Cowens
30 November 2009 @ 10:07 am
My year 9 class are writing disaster stories at the moment. I decided to write one too. It ended up being more or less a spin-off of The Event.

What next? Monster attack snippetCollapse )
Matt Cowens
25 November 2009 @ 08:30 pm

This week a story I wrote with the deliberately provocative title Murray the Sex Machine” was published online by sentientonline.net, a relatively new Australian SF/Gaming/Philosophy/Fiction site. They have some interesting interviews with Australian authors, some science articles and now some of the greatest fiction ever written in the English language about sex machines called Murray. You should check it out.

At the end of this month their inaugural short story competition closes, so in the new year there should be a flood of short stories posted with a speculative (horror, fantasy, science fiction) bent.

Rereading the story and seeing a comment about it on reddit – “Cool story. Wish it was longer” – got me thinking about the way I end my stories. The published version of Murray the Sex Machine clocks in at something like 1,060 words. Not a lengthy story by any measure beyond high school student estimation (We have to read a story that’s how long? I have to write 300 words? Mister, you’re killing me!). I have a definite tendency to write short short stories. I think the batch of short stories I wrote this year would have an average length somewhere in the vicinity of 1,200 to 1,300 words.

About length and endings of stories...Collapse )

Matt Cowens
23 September 2009 @ 11:28 am

I remember a time when 10,000 words was an enormous length for a piece of writing.  I remember a time when all I wrote was short stories - not with any great frequency (and apparently not with correct use of apostrophes looking back).

Some time in the past tenyears I have shifted into novel writing mode.  Again, not at a startling pace, but when I think about writing and when I sit down to do it the things I've been working on have been novel length (2 complete manuscripts, 1 discontinued, 1 in progress).  10,000 words is no longer long.

Then this year I started to think about short story ideas again.  In part it was a result of mr_orgue embarking on a 12 stories in 12 months plan and sending Debbie and me some of his inspirational drafts.  jenni_talula has sent us some of her short fiction.  Then there was a short story competition I wanted to enter.  Then there was the September Zing Thing.  Now it seems my brain has kicked into short story mode and I'm actively thinking and scheming about ideas for short fiction to write, and scoping out places to submit to.

It's a very pleasant thing to begin a piece of writing and be able to finish it in a day or two.  After the endurance game of novel writing it's fun to sprint :-)
Matt Cowens
22 September 2009 @ 11:11 am
The Event, a collaborative fiction project I’ve been working on with Debbie, Steph, Chris and Jenni, is moving into its final phase. We planned to write 5 parts each, moving through the stages of a major event in Wellington. The plan was to establish the characters in part one, have the event hit in part two, see the characters coping with catastrophe in part three, the immediate aftermath in part four and picking up the pieces in part five. Before we began the only story elements we set in place were that there was something in the water, at first people were drawn to it, then later they would be running away from it.

That’s it. Otherwise, blank slate.

What’s it been like to write without a road map, and with other writers throwing escalating horror into the mix? Fantastic. Absolutely awesome.

Because I like lists, here’s a spoiler free list of why it’s been good and what I’ve learned:

  • A ratio of one part writing to 4 parts reading other people’s stuff and being inspired by it is highly motivating.
  • Seeing other people’s emphasis on establishing a realistic setting, including emotional quandaries, incorporating kiwiana or tackling challenging characters and unconventional writing styles helped me to reflect on my own writing and make some judgements about what my own strengths were.
  • Having to juggle the plot details and horror elements introduced by other authors was a fun challenge that lead to some pretty full-on situations.
  • Increasing the tension is a delicate balancing act between subtle cues and times when you want a huge leap in intensity. That contrast between incremental and overpowering jumps in intensity can be fun to play with.
  • I like writing horror.
  • What you don’t show can be as important as what you do.
  • Being forced by your collaborators’ excellent writing to abandon your first ideas about where a story might go or what you want your character to do can lead to better, richer, more complex second ideas.
  • I really, really like writing horror.
  • Killing bystanders in horror writing is easy. Killing named characters was surprisingly uncomfortable.
Many of these ideas are explored in this post and its comments from NZSpecFicBlogWeek - http://rippatton.livejournal.com/29836.html
Matt Cowens
20 September 2009 @ 09:46 am

Today is the last day of NZ Spec Fic Blogging Week - a week which has given me a lot of interesting reading material and pointed me in the direction of some great writing fun.  Having now found and joined www.kiwiwriters.org I decided to jump into the September Zing Thing Challenge.  The challenge is to write and edit a short story this weekend using a set of ingredients.  I wrote my story yesterday, edited it this morning.  I plan to make a few changes before trying to find somewhere to send it.  Here's the current version:


Recommended for mature audiences...Collapse )

There are 16 writers signed up to the challenge (Debbie is one of them and has completed it) so I will link to further stories as/when they're posted up.