November 2017


Announcing Australia's first prize for digital short story collections

Do you have a small swag of short fiction in want of some readers? Well, we have great news for you!

Spineless Wonders has teamed up with online publishing platform Tablo and State Library Victoria to create a new award for writers of short story collections.

Named in honour of one of Australia’s foremost short story authors, The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award will offer cash prizes and digital publication of three selected short story collections each year.

The new award will be launched on December 14 at the State Library Victoria and entries will be accepted by Spineless Wonders until April 30, 2018.

The award aims to showcase contemporary Australian short fiction and is open to submissions from writers residing in Australia as well as to Australians living overseas.

The Carmel Bird Award has been offered annually by Spineless Wonders since 2011 with previous competitions open to submissions of individual short stories only. From this year, in a first for Australia, the award will be open to manuscripts of short story collections.

We are excited to announce that the judge for the first year of the new award will be Patrick White Literary Award winner Carmel Bird. Here’s what Carmel had to say about the judging the award:

I look forward to reading some exciting short fiction from daring writers. These will be writers who are unafraid to be dramatic, entertaining, subversive and also proud to see their work published in a ‘capsule’, to be accessed instantly by online readers for the price of a macchiato, or of half a smashed avocado on sourdough.

Carmel Bird will launch the new digital literary award at the Cowen Gallery, State Library Victoria on Thursday December 14, 2017, 6.30-7.30pm.

The event will also include the launch by Jonathan Green (Meanjin editor and ABC Radio presenter) of Carmel Bird’s digital collection of short stories, The Dead Aviatrix: Eight Short Stories, published by Spineless Wonders. This will be followed by an online Q&A session with Carmel Bird on State Library Victoria’s Tablo community page.


Loopholes does the MUBA!

We are thrilled to announce that Susan McCreery’s Loopholes is in the running for the Small Press Networks’ award for the most underrated book of 2017 sponsored by the Australian Booksellers Association. The winner will be announced by Toni Jordan, one of three MUBA judges, at The Wheeler Centre on November 17. Event details, here.

Huge congratulations to Susan on her unique collection of finely crafted and inventive microfiction. Congrats too, to graphic artist Bettina Kaiser, who designed and illustrated this beautiful, quirky publication.

To celebrate, we are offering discounts on the paperback and digital versions of Loopholes. For details, click here.

And to read more about the book – including the glowing praise it has received from critics and the MUBA judges – check out our blog.


Tablo book club is go

Readers and fans of Loopholes gathered on Tablo on Thursday evening, 9 November to chat with author Susan McCreery. How did the project come about? Which story was almost too edgy to be published? And how does she manage to get so much darn story into 250 words!?

These and many other questions were posed and answered. The chat is still available online, so check it out and look out for more online discussions at Tablo.


How do you sign an ebook?

At the start of November Carmel Bird was invited to appear at the Australian Short Story Festival in Adelaide, just as her latest collection, The Dead Aviatrix: Eight Short Stories, was set to be released. Even better, award-winning Adelaide writer Peter Goldsworthy was keen to launch it, and there was a space for the launch during the closing addresses on Sunday afternoon. Perfect, right?

Well, almost.

The Dead Aviatrix is a digital collection, an ebook. How could Peter launch a virtual book? And what would the author signing look like exactly – skywriting?

Enter the Spineless Wonders ebook voucher, a clever solution created by publisher Bronwyn Mehan to connect digital publications to their real-life events.

Thanks to Dymocks Adelaide – the wonderful, forward-thinking booksellers of the festival – The Dead Aviatrix was available throughout the event. And thanks to the ebook vouchers, Carmel's collection also had a tangible presence.

The front of the voucher is a replica of the cover of the ebook. The back is like a traditional paperback with a blurb and endorsements, a barcode and RRP. There's also a photo of the author and a bio.

Inside the voucher you’ll find a unique code and a URL for Australian ebook retailer Tomely. If you have a QR reader app on your phone, you can redeem your purchase simply by snapping the code on the back cover. Then, voila… you’ll be downloading a Spineless Wonders ebook instantly.

And you've got something for the author to sign.



Congratulations to Terry Anne Whitebeach of WA, who has won a copy of Michael Giacommeti's My Life & Other Fictions for confessing to her biggest fiction:

"I told my sisters my real name was Helena Poppelina and if they called me that I would tell them stories in bed at night."

In the title story of The Dead Aviatrix, a mix-up between Carmel Bird, the author, and Nancy Bird Walton, the renowned aviatrix, has unfortunate consequences. To win a copy of the collection, email us the strangest case of mistaken identity that you have suffered or benefited from, in 50 words or less. 


‘Quote’ unquote

marry me.  please  say yes.  marry me. in our local church with a choir singing and church bells ringing. words we'll say in blessed matrimony: love  honour. love graffiti on an overpass across the main road  strung up for all to see  scrawled upon a flattering sign  suspended high from the railway bridge. marry me. hired a skywriter  his place flew over our house  the words  written in white snow on blue sheets. you saw the,  smiled.  i know your body like my own.  the curves  smells  folds of it.  though we share our bed you cannot be my wife.  church forbidden.  no white frocks  gold rings  wedding bells  no rainbow confetti  no battered shoes to knock the road behind a sign: just married.  my love here is my proposal – when the law is changed – marry me.

‘Proposal’ by Jenny Nixon, published in Flashing The Square , 2014.


Slinkies shine at NYWF

The Slinkies team were at the National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle to run the Phone It In Competition. Festival-goers were able to listen to six audio stories on four old-timey phones scattered throughout the festival and vote for their favourite.

Our six fantastic finalists were:

Night of the Killer Kittens by Brianna Bullen

Eggs Scrambled and Beat by Lauren Grubic

Potato Stamp by Anna Jacobson

Monophonic Bliss by Cat McLean

Lonely Phone by Ben Schofield

Oh No! said Jarvis Cocker by Ben Volchok

The stories range from the tale of a phone longing to be picked up and listened to again, to pieces about mental illness. The winner was Lonely Phone by Ben Schofield, with Oh No! said Jarvis Cocker by Ben Volchok and Eggs Scrambled and Beat by Lauren Grubic tying in second place. The quality of the pieces in the competition was outstanding – a big thank you to everyone who submitted.

Over three days the Slinkies team flitted back and forth between the festival venues, encouraging people to pick up the phone and vote. They also attended slam poetry performances, discussions on queerness in fiction, conversations on the serious side of cartooning, and panels on writing for young people.

There was extra excitement this year as the NYWF celebrated its 20th birthday, bringing the festival vibe to the heart of Newcastle. The guest list included emerging as well as established artists, all giving advice and encouragement to young writers. We're already looking forward to NYWF 21!


Dates for your diary

December 1 – Release of Michael Giacometti’s My Life & Other Fictions.

December 1 – Closing date for submissions to ‘Year of the Dog’ themed Little Fictions event.

December 4 – Alice Springs launch of My Life & Other Fictions.

December 14 – 6.30-7.30pm The Cowen Gallery, State Library Victoria, Double launch: The Dead Aviatrix launch by Jonathan Green and launch of The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award. 8pm Q&A with Carmel Bird on Tablo, State Library Victoria community page.

December 21 – 11.30, 3CR, Carmel Bird will chat with Euan Mitchell about The Dead Aviatrix and The Carmel Bird Digital Literary Award.


This month’s Sluglines was prepared by Mark Vender with assistance from Marjorie and Stephen from You Need A Writerand Emma Howe.