Tara Calaby

writer & editor

End of Year Update

I think everyone can agree that 2016 has been a year. Amidst all the bad, however, I’ve somehow managed to have my best year by far when it comes to publications, so that is pleasing.

On that note, a couple of fiction announcements:
(1) My gothic sci-fi piece “Scrap Metal” has just gone live with Issue 28 of Luna Station Quarterly.
(2) My horror novelette “The Starlight Circus” has been accepted for publication in the next issue of Red Sun Magazine, which is due out around Christmas.

In a few weeks’ time, I’m off for a belated honeymoon in the UK, with a brief stop in Denmark to meet a dear friend’s baby. I always find the UK very inspiring, so hopefully it’ll kick start a much more productive writing year in 2017.

To all those feeling a little lost in the world right now, I wish you creativity and hope in the new year. This too will pass.

Mid-Year Round-Up

Apologies for the long delay between posts. I’ve been up to my neck in study, so the focus has been more on essays than fiction. However, I’ve now completed the graduate certificate and hope to post more regularly in the future.

While I was away, I’ve had a few things published, so I’ll make this a quick dot point list to fill things in.

In more personal news, I got married last month! Australia is still dragging its heels on equal marriage but, as I’m a British citizen, my wife and I were able to be legally married at the home of the British Consul-General in Melbourne.

Update Time

Firstly, and most importantly, my piece “The Cow Tower” has been accepted into Mosaics: An Anthology of Independent Women, Volume 2. It’s a great concept, collecting feminist writing from women writers and supporting The Pixel Project, and I’m really pleased to be a part of it. More once we’re closer to publication date.

Secondly, in a couple of weeks I shall be starting a Graduate Certificate of Arts (Gender Studies) at the University of Melbourne. I still have PhD hopes for the future, and I have a glaring gap in my studies right where I’d like to slot that PhD, so I shall finally have the chance to study gender and sexuality formally–and to do my first university English lit subject as well. Everything’s been about my writing up until this point.

Speaking of, I’m not exactly doing any of that right now. Hopefully my head will be in the place for it sometime soon.

Recap: (SVT9) Against the Rules

svt9This one is basically a SVT mash-up of the prejudice against Trisha Martin in the first SVH books and Jessica’s trip away in SVH: Too Good to be True. The main story is that everyone thinks that Sophia Rizzo is bad news because her brother is a violent thief. Except, of course, for Elizabeth, who is always willing to find the good in absolutely everyone. The side plot is that one of Ned’s clients has invited one twin to join their family for a trip to Los Angeles. Liz wins the number game to decide which twin will go, but it’s Jess who is desperate to do so because she’s in love with the musical Shout and the lucky twin will get a backstage tour. Oh, and there’s also a school play, because why keep things simple?

Against the Rules is one of the many Sweet Valley books in which Ned and Alice are terrible parents. Sophia’s brother Tony gives Steven a black eye, so they decide that Liz isn’t allowed to see Sophia at all out of school. It would be one thing if they just didn’t want her to go to Sophia’s house out of the fear that Tony might do the same to her. But that would be too sensible. Instead, they ban any contact, because there’s no better way of judging a person than by other people’s actions, amiright?

For once of only a few times in her life, Liz is a rebel, and continues to spend most of her time at Sophia’s house. She also plans to throw Sophia a birthday party at the Wakefield house, engineering a twin swap so that she can do so, given that Sophia’s birthday just happens to fall on the weekend that she’s meant to go to L.A. Naturally, Jessica is more than happy to oblige.

Sophia’s writing the school play with Liz and a bunch of other kids, so the Unicorns decide to boycott it. I actually find the writing of Jessica very interesting in the early Twins books. She’s just so very susceptible to peer pressure and concerned with appearances and reputations. There’s a lot that’s complete rubbish in the Sweet Valley books, but I actually think Jess is pretty true-to-life for a twelve-year-old trying to find her place in her first year of middle school. Much more so than Elizabeth who really does have an abnormal confidence in who she is and what she believes.

Anyway, of course the Unicorns are made to eat their words, because that’s how these books work. We’re supposed to believe that a play written by a sixth grader (and altered a little by sixth, seventh and eighth graders) is mind-blowingly good, so good that it makes everyone like Sophia after all. Frankly, I’m dubious. I also side-eye the fact that Liz is totally okay with everyone talking about how Sophia is the best writer ever, given her usual habit of freaking out the moment anyone else shows any kind of writing talent at all. Don’t forget how hard she found it to believe that Jessica could write an interesting article mere books ago.

Better yet, the play also makes Ned and Alice realise that they are being horrible human beings, so when they get home early and discover Liz’s secret birthday party, they’re totally fine with it, even inviting Sophia’s mother and bad brother to join them. All’s well that ends well, yet again.

This isn’t one of the most interesting Twins books, largely because the ghost writer tries to fit too much into such a short novel. I think it would’ve been better if the LA plot was cut, irrelevant and glossed-over like it is.

Recap: (SVT8) First Place – Francine Pascal

First Place coverFor a book that has Lila on the front cover, this isn’t nearly as Fowler-filled as I would like. Instead, it is the love story of Elizabeth Wakefield and a horse named Thunder. No, seriously, there is some serious horse-fever-as-metaphor-for-burgeoning-puberty stuff going on here. The moment they meet is described much as the first meeting in any torrid love story:

In the silence of her first glance, she felt she could barely breathe.
And when he stared at her, he seemed to be saying, “Yes. You’re the one.”

If this isn’t enough, we then get a very seductive description of the horse through Elizabeth’s eyes:

…Elizabeth admired the perfect slope of his neck, rising like a tree trunk from his forequarters. His long shoulder muscles glistened as they stretched tightly up to the withers. And his legs, which tapered beautifully to their hooves, seemed graceful, yet powerful…

It’s a real Mr-Darcy-walking-wet-from-the-lake moment.

Ostensibly, this story is about Liz using Lila for her horse, while Lila uses Liz for her homework. It’s about Jess being jealous that Lila and Liz are spending more time with each other, than they are with her (“Lila is not my sister’s type, OK?”) and Liz pretending that she’s really Thunder’s owner, while spending a lot of time with the stable hand Jess is crushing on. Oh, and Liz spilling the beans to all of the Unicorns about Ken kissing Amy, because she is just that good a best friend.

But really, really this is the story of Liz’s hormones kicking in with a vengeance and of her becoming addicted to the feel of a powerful stallion between her legs. And, when it’s over, she feels a little naughty and a little ashamed of herself, but she’s finally learnt that it’s wrong to deceive and use people just to get neigh-ed.

An October Update

indreamsMy piece “In Dreams” was published on the 25th of September and can be read online for free at Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry. It’s an older piece of mine and somewhat different to my current style, but I’ve always been rather fond of it, so I’m very glad that it’s found a good home.

In future publication news, I have a science fiction piece, “Women’s Work”, expected to be in the December edition of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. More details when it eventuates.

Writing-wise, I’ve just completed the first draft of a sword & sorcery short story, which is currently nameless. I hope to have it named, edited and out on submission before I head to Canada next month.

(Yes, I am going to Canada for the first time! I shall be staying with my best friend and her family and–very importantly–her cats.)

1001 Books

Peter Boxall has published three versions of a list of 1001 books for everyone to read before they die. I have my own list of 100 books, which is my main priority, but I thought it might be fun to keep track on the superdooper massive list as well. To be honest, there are a lot of more modern books on here that I’m unlikely to ever read, but I’d love to go through all the 18th and 19th century ones eventually.

Continue reading

An Update: In More Ways Than One

Welcome to the new site. My old Blogspot site was beginning to look decidedly dated, so I’ve moved to a self-hosted WordPress site that hopefully looks a little better! Everything from the old site and my even older review site should now be available here, and I’ll be adding in some further (backdated) stuff over time.

I guess the biggest news is that I have officially graduated from my degree, so I’m now Tara Calaby M.Litt M.A. I was very pleased with my marks and am now investigating PhD programs, because I just really love study. In case it wasn’t blindingly obvious.

I’ve also had a story accepted into Solarwyrm Press’s upcoming anthology, Marked By Scorn, edited by Dominica Malcolm. Malcolm’s last anthology, the Aurealis Award finalist Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction was excellent, so I’m pleased to be a part of her next project.

I haven’t been writing, but I’ve been thinking a lot about writing. That counts, right? No?

The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years

Usually when I talk about Luna Station Quarterly, it’s while wearing my assistant editor hat. Today, however, I’m wearing my writer hat to announce the launch of The Best of Luna Station Quarterly: The First Five Years, a collection of fifty stories from the (you guessed it) first five years of the quarterly.

In amongst those fifty stories is a little (and I do mean little) piece of my own–a science fiction piece called ‘Air’.

In total, the book runs to a massive 550 pages, so there’s plenty of other reading in there as well. You can buy it at Amazon, but if you buy directly through Luna, you’ll receive 10% off if you use the coupon provided. It’s paperback only, because this kind of celebration deserves to be held in your hand.


Grimdark, Issue #4 Now Out

Last month, I posted exciting news about “Ashes” having been accepted by Grimdark Magazine. Today, I’m here to let you know that my issue of the magazine is now out, and also to show you the gorgeous cover art from Jason Deem.

You can buy issue #4 through Grimdark Magazine‘s website, or as part of a first year bundle that includes writing from such notables as Mark Lawrence and R. Scott Bakker. It’s also available on Amazon.

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