Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

This last weekend (29 September to 1 October) was Conflux, Canberra SF convention. I love these conventions. They are cosy and intimate and surprisingly new faces appear among the old friends. For the first time in my life I had a very busy schedule at an SF convention. I also had a table selling books and a book launch, with some fund raising for GUFF thrown in.

In the week prior to Conflux, I went to Bourke on a creative and cultural trip through the university. More about that in another post. That meant I had to have everything prepared for Conflux and the launch prior to leaving. I was crazy busy doing that. Without my wonderful partner, Matthew, who collected books for me from the post office while I was a way I would have been insane before the convention started.

First up, I was on a panel about Kick arse (ass) heroines in SF on TV. Principally, we were talking about Star Trek Discovery, The Expanse and Lost in Space. I managed to convince Keri Arthur to join the panel as there was just me and Andrew Old. For some reason I thought Andrew was chairing this panel and, unfortunately, I was totally wrong about that. It seems that I was meant to be leading the discussion. We got through that panel all right. I have convinced Andrew Old that Toby Stephens is sexy in Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Now he’s tagging me on Facebook with pictures of Toby Stephens in a singlet and so on. Haha. That’s funny. We all loved these three shows. Keri said Naomi in the Expanse reminded her of Zoe in Firefly.  Firefly was ahead of its time. Or the rest of the universe is catching up. I think Lost in Space is a real, sit up and watch with regards to feminising SF or the feministisation of SF. Love it.

Then it was a short break while I set up for my book launch. As I was away in Bourke, I couldn’t bake so I paid for someone to bake some cupcakes for me. I asked Leife Shallcross who she had do her cupcakes for her launch because they were amazing. There was only a week so not much time to do something too fancy. Listya made vanilla cupcakes with lemon butter filling and butter icing swirls in red and yellow to give the impression of flames, you know dragon flames. They were stunning to look at and drop dead yummy. I ate two of them. I also had bubbly, dips and nibbles and quiches. As it was the last two books in the Dragon Wine series, I was celebrating as well as launching. Many of the people in the audience were people who helped me along the way. I was touched by their support and with friends coming from outside the convention to be at the launch.

Nicole Murphy did my launch speech and it was amazing. She spoke so well (and now I have to learn to improve my public speaking) and I was moved to tears. Not only did she talk about the series and the underlying themes, she also recited the first lines from Shatterwing. She delivered these lines so well.

Here is what she recited.

In the velvet dark of space hovers Shatterwing, the fragments of a broken moon. Vestiges of decaying power crackle and twist in among the debris orbiting Margra, sending rock and dust to rebound off the atmosphere, sometimes piercing its envelope to plummet to the planet’s surface. Yet something approaches, something disturbs the precarious balance. Another piece of dead moon breaks away, larger and more deadly as it plunges to the world below…

What touched me was the words she said about hope and how hope is important for survival and that it was threaded through the work. Thank you awesome Nicole Murphy.


I have to say a special thank you to Matthew too. He did the sales for me and he was great. Well done!


Launch cupcakes a bit blurred. Sorry!

I was down to give a paper on SF romance and consent. A repeat of my paper I gave at IASPR. Funny thing I was so hyper I spoke very fast. I wasn’t nervous as such, just very revved. I have been for weeks and weeks.

After that, I also attended book launches. Kaaron Warren had her two books launched at Verity in town. Then I snuck off with Keri Arthur and we ate Chinese food at Sammy’s. After that we popped into Koko Black because it was too damn early to go home.

Here are some photos from the club where the launch was held. The first one is the crowd, with Robert Hood talking there. Then Keri Arthur and Leife Shallcross, then Lee Murray doing the launch speech with Kaaron Warren looking on and the last one is a picture of the crowd looking on.

I shared a table with Catherine M Walker and I am so grateful to her and my partner Matthew as they covered the table most of the time while I was off being on panels, going to launches or just saying hello to people.

Sunday I had a panel at 9.30  about Unconventional Publishing, with David Henley, Dion Perry and with chair Ion Newcombe. This was tapped for a radio program and it was interesting and fun too. Dion kept coming up with some really key points and David and I talked about our experiences. I think overall it covered a lot of ground. I was interviewed for a radio show by Elizabeth Newman about writing, publishing and the Dragon Wine series. She was easy to talk to and we went over time, of course!

Then it was a talk about my GUFF trip and the upcoming race to send a fan or fans to Dublin. Except well no one showed at first. There was some competition with other panels and tiredness.  I think the panel should have been called- How to get to Worldcon in Dublin?

Here is a picture of some of the highlights from the GUFF auction. I made the tote bags and some of the stuff was donated by Cat Sparks and Robert Hood and I bought the NZ chocolate in New Zealand.

I managed to get John Morris to come in and Garry Dalrymple was there too. It was kind of weird because John was in Helsinki and had met the people in some of the photos. After that we had the fan fund auction. Again not a lot of interest from people. It was probably due to no Finnish sweets! They sell really well. But we did have people who were wonderful and supportive. That’s to Simon, Keri, John, Graham, Garry and then Nicole and Kat who popped in. Gillian Polack was also on the GUFF panel and auction and she bought a few things. We did have NZ chocolates! We sold them. A lot of stuff we put away for Continuum next year. We made a reasonable sum. We also sold things from the table. All up not too shabby.

Then there was the amazing Hand of Knaves book launch. Hand of Knaves is the latest anthology from the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and some of the author read from their stories. The readings were top class. I had to get me a copy. There was the banquet after that. It was nice and the company on the table was great. The food was a bit weird, which is strange because Vibe do great food. There was chicken (yum) and a vegetarian meal as the alternate. I got the vegetarian and beside from the sweet potato mash, it was a bit blah. You know, normally, it’s the beef or chicken.

Some pictures from the launch. The first one is Leife Shallcross one of the editors and David Versace, blue t-shirt one of the authors. Robert Porteous is the pirate and he has a story in there too.

Next up two of the readers. I’ll have to come back to put their names in.

Then a shot with Chris Large, the other editor with Leife doing the launch.


Next up some shots from my table at the banquet. First up, Keri Arthur, Catherine Walker and Alex.

To my left was Jane Virgo, Graham Cheers, Carton (X) and Amanda Dalziel.

Monday morning it was me, Keri and Dione talking about the 10 things that we wished we knew about self-publishing before we did it. Feedback was that panel was great. We went overtime by accident. We talked about how liberating it was, about how hard it is to market and the amount of admin. We had preplanned all this so it was just go and we had thoughts about ISBNs and Vellum and basically we didn’t get through the ten things and we had 14 of them.

Dawn Meredith launched her book, with the launch speech by Gillan Polack. The cake looked great and was yummy too.

After that, Keri and I were both attending Aiki Flinthart’s Writing Fighting Scenes for Women workshop. It was fantastic. Great stuff Aiki! While we were at the dead dog party, we were convincing Catherine M Walker to do a workshop on police procedural for writers…she’s a cop. Then we sort of had her down for doing workshops at other conventions and so on. I really hope she knows we are serious.

I really like the food at the Vibe Hotel at the airport where Conflux took place, so we went to have dinner there after the convention. It was so good. There was six of us. Good conversation. Great laughs. Delicious food.

Here are some selfies of Keri and me. They are kind of a tradition when we are at the same events.

Now I’m back in the real world, teaching and marking at Uni.


The books are launched. Life goes on.

If you are interested in checking out my the Dragon Wine series, then check out this page.

Also, if you are interested I have a newsletter where I share updates, news about cheapies and freebies and I am thinking of doing a contest for a prize soon. I just have to slow down for five seconds. Here is the landing page to sign up for my Newsletter Wing Dust .

I’m all fired up though to write more. Also, I found out that my trip to China in November for two weeks is cancelled. I’m sad not to see my son Taamati in Shanghai, but after I got over it, I realised that I can do NaNoWriMo!

I’ll be heading to Perth at the end of November.

Now I really must get on and focus on this PhD!

Here is my serious, post-Conflux, studious PhD student face, stripped of glam and looking tired.




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I’m so tired and I was caught up doing some stuff for Conflux 9, which zapped me.

However, I thought I would preview by blogging a picture of the UFO cake I made for the launch party.

I had the idea to make a space ship cake, one of my own design. However, time grew short and then I got the idea to use the tagine to make the cake. For those who don’t know what a tagine is, it is a Morrocan ceramic baking dish. Here is a picture of mine.




It seemed really cool but when I made the cake, the top of the tagine and the base did not fit into the oven and it was really hard to judge how much mixture but…

ufo cake 1 Here is how it turned out. The inside is lime green cake, with a lemon spread filling. It has a butter cream underlay and a fondant overlay. It looked a bit like a crayon when we started so we did a black wash and then etching. You can see my daughter here doing all these crazy alien language designs over it. If you look closely you can see the little green alien sticking his head out.

Here is a close up of the alien.

UFO alien close up

It was very fun to make, even though we were rushed. Because I was sick all week I had no prep time. We were doing this a few hours before the party.

My daughter Erana had the idea to use glo sticks to offset the cake.

UFO glo

So it added something to the kitsch SF party.

Here is a look at the inside.

ufo green cake


That’s enough about the cake. Tomorrow the launch party guff.

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This blog post is also delayed. No excuses this time.

This will be a short post because I hung out in the dealers’ room promoting Conflux 9 (the 52nd Australian National Science Fiction Convention) in April next year. Link here. So I didn’t get to many panels (1.5 I think) so I can’t rave about how fantastic they were.

What I can report is that it went off swimmingly. The atmosphere was lovely and supportive and there were more people that I thought were coming.

I’d been helping out with payments in the lead up to Conflux 8, but the sheer luck of having the eftpos machine. The workshops were selling like hotcakes and so were memberships. So by helping out a little bit, I got an invite to the night before dinner with the committee and guests. We went to Sammys and that was awesome.

I met Tor Roxburgh at dinner, and she was great to talk to. She had been previously published in the young adult area many years ago. Took a break from writing and is now writing fantasy. Apparently, her agent doesn’t do fantasy so she went down the self-publishing route. I was very pleased to make Tor’s acquaintance. I got to say a quick hello to Keri Arthur, Traci O’Hara, Kaaron Warren and Dawn Meredith.

The interesting thing about Conflux 8 was that there was a lunch on the Saturday, included in the cost of the membership. It was a great idea and there was plenty of food and the theme was 1950s. There was a prize for the best 1950s get up and the best Hawaiian shirt. So all day I wore my lovely 50s dress and I’d made a little fascinator/hat thing with a veil. I don’t have a photo. Pooh! If someone has a shot, please let me know.

Kaaron Warren and I were the only ones to dress up. We tied for the prize. She wore her amazing pineapple dress she bought in a market in Nadi, Fiji. I was there. I saw her. She was very clever and told a story about the dress. Me…nah my head was empty.

At lunch I got to sit with Ingrid Jonach, who is soon to be published with Strange Chemistry. We had a long chat about her book, about books and about the convention. Fab Oh!

In the dealers’ room I had been tasked with supervising the decoration of Dalek cookies. This was fun and wiled away the time a bit. I got to mix with people. Pressure them into decorating cookies!

Here are some shots.

There is Yaritji in the purple scarf having a go at decorating the cookies.


One of the decorated cookies

I even have a shot with Nicole, who had the munchies, I think.

Nicole Murphy with her fire spitting cookie


Even the big Keith Stevenson got into the dalek action.

Keith Stevenson with the icing in his hand

On Saturday night I went to the book launches. I dressed in my jeans and t-shirt by then. I think there were five books launched, Craig Cormick’s, Greg Mellor, Jodi Cleghorn’s anthology, Gillian Polack’s and Tor Roxburgh. (I don’t think I left anyone out). That was a hoot. Jack Dann worked hard launching those books.

I got to hang with Keri Arthur, Janeen Webb and Kaaron Warren at the launch. Then we nicked down the pub for steak and chips.

Let’s see if this works.  Photo by Cat Sparx here.

Sunday I was in my Victorian gear to promote Conflux 9 and my ol’ time fav event, the steam punk themed high tea. This time Cat Sparks did manage to get a shot of me in it. I was wearing my new hat.

Let me see if I can link to Cat’s photo of me. Here.

I talked to people, got a few people to sign up to the high tea, chatting with KJ Taylor (as she was author in residence) and she talked to me about her latest idea and read a bit from her notebook. It was a fantastic idea and I can’t wait to read that one. I also caught up with Adam Browne, who also launched a book.

My steampunk themed cake was on display all weekend. It was getting photos taken.

Here is one or two here.

This is Katie Taylor checking whether her pocket watch matches the time on the cake.

Katy Taylor with the steampunk cake


I caught up with Keri Arthur and Cora Wright for lunch. We also dead dogged together. Keri is a very generous person. She shares her experience and gives advice and encouragement.

Here is a close up of my cake.

The cake

I managed to get into a panel session on indie publishing. Keri Arthur talked about her hybrid model. She is traditionally published but is also going to self-publish through her agent. The other panel I half got to was the one on point of view, but I got pulled out to attend to closing ceremony business.

At the closing ceremony there was more Jack Dann excellent shtick and Jack auctioned of my steampunk cake. I was hoping to raise some money for Conflux 9 and not bring the cake home to eat. Anyway, the lovely and excellent, Craig Cormick bought the cake for $100 on the condition that all the members of the con ate it. (Craig can’t eat cake himself) so it was cut up etc. Bloody amazing man. I hope we can lure Craig to more conventions because he is good value and way to clever and talented.

So that was my convention. I caught up with friends, Kimberley Gaal, Nicole Murphy (ok she lives up the road). Actually I spilled my tea all over her. Oops!

Here is a great shot of Kimberley in a hat borrowed from Lewis Morley.

Now for those photos from Cat Sparx try here.

Kimberley Gaal



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