Archive for the ‘Conflux 9’ 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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Conflux 9 is done and dusted. It went off very well, a fitting culmination of nearly two years work for Nicole Murphy, me and the committee. A lot of fab people came and enjoyed themselves. Some we were expecting and some who showed up unexpectedly. Like Margo Lanagan!

Big thank you to Karen, Tara and Maddison for manning the rego desk. Actually, Karen told us to bugger off (or words to that effect) so Nicole and I let her go for it. Much less stressful for us.

Before Conflux started we picked up Marc Gascoigne. This is a piccie of Matthew waiting for him.


We took Marc out kangaroo spotting to help him get over his jetlag and then out the next day exploring the countryside around Canberra. We ended up at dinner with Kaaron Warren. Here is a nice shot of them both.


The hotel was great. Rydges Captial Hill excelled in helping the convention run smoothly. I managed to get to a few panel items, Marc Gascoigne’s guest of honour interview, Nalo Hopkinson’s guest of honour interview, Kaaron Warren’s guest talk and half of Karen Miller’s guest of honour talk. This is quite a lot! I also caught Taboo Subjects on Thursday night. Other things I participated in directly were my babies:the steampunk high tea, which went of well. The coffee and tea part could be improved but I think everyone was okay about it and the costumes were great.

Here is a picture of the setting with the steam punk angels that Nicole made.


Here is the high tea food tray, with our steam punk Ninja, Thoraiya Dyer!


and  a picture of Kaaron Warren in her steam punk gear. I don’t have many photos but I got in a couple.


And a begoggled Lily Mulholland.


The pitching sessions, with excellent help from Lily Mulholland  (Time Nazi) and Jane Virgo. These went down very well. The idea was stolen from the Romance Writers of Australia conference and they made great sense. Instead of authors circling the editors and publishers like sharks during a convention on the off chance they might get a chance to meet, and then maybe a chance to talk books, the organised pitching sessions gave people the chance. The feedback on both sides indicates that it went better than planned. Well done you lot.

The next thing was the Regency Banquet, with special guests Earthly Delights. Again Lily came to my assistance, writing out the name cards, helping me coil ribbon around the menus and just being a fab person. The banquet went off very well, with dancing and laughter and I had lots of great feedback on that. We have not mixed dancing with the banquet before but it went off well, better than I anticipated, as much as anyone can anticipate something they have no idea of. I came away sweating, after John made me do the Regency Waltz. I had this terrified, caught in the headlights look in my eye (from my perspective) afraid to put a foot wrong but loving how he explained things and showed me figures and hand holds.

My next baby was the Romance Gauntlet and what a fab time that was. The readings were awesome. Craig Cormick did a bang up job of MCing, cheeky as he is and Valerie Parv did a fantastic job of judging.

Here is a piccie of Rob Porteous, wearing a cod piece, which he did demonstrate to us.


There were also chocolate cupcakes with pink fondant hearts for refreshments.


Then it was downstairs to the Junkyard Cathedral masquerade disco where I was grabbed by Ken Moylan and started dancing until it closed down. The set up for the disco was happening at the same time as the set up and running of the Ditmars. So I was running between floors a bit. Big kudos to Kyla Ward and her fab design and DJs Sean Williams, Dave Cake and Marco Gascoigne.

Kyla wanted a white manniquin, which had to be wrestled to various places. Here is our program guru, panellist wrangler, Maxine McArthur and Co-chair Nicole Murphy getting it on with the body bits.


By the disco, the pressure was easing off as Sunday was a pretty easy slide to closing. I didn’t get a drink in the bar as it had closed on Saturday night but I did get to have some inebriated conversations with the hangers on. I didn’t get to a room party, but I was pretty happy to crash around quarter to two in the morning but had to be up again at seven to get ready for workshops. By this time my feet were numb to my knees and I’d only been eating breakfasts with one lunch over the four days. I hadn’t eaten dinner. Justin Ackroyd and Kaaron Warren sat with me at breakfast on Sunday and Justin mother-henned me about the food (nice man). He was going to have words with Matthew about not getting me to eat. Running the con is so much about adrenalin and running here and there that is very hard to sit down long enough to eat. Breakfast was where I was most relaxed. Except for Sunday where I was dogged tired and feeling queasy.

Sunday I had to get the mannequin out of my room so I asked Lily for help. We giggled alot pretending we were looking for somewhere to stash the body. Nobody is supposed to be sensible on a Sunday, fourth day of running a convention.


(sorry not a good shot. Lily was probably laughing.)

Craig Cormick our wonderful MC, did some amazing screen shots, which I nearly forgot to add. He did dress me up in some weird get up and embarrass the crap out of me and Nicole at the closing ceremony. It was a bit of fun. Nicole organised a collection for my birthday and the congoers gave me a voucher for an underbust corset! Wohoo! And they sang happy birthday. How lovely. I’m technical beyond the age for celebrating birthdays but you know I appreciated it.

So those screen shots. Craig is one funny guy and he went to a lot of work to engage the Conflux 9 mob.

special guests

This was just inspired. Hello guests. Look what the MC has done to you.


Then this is what he did to Nicole and me.

Donna and Nicole copy

By the end of the day my feet were the big players in my life.Image

Sore feet snazzy shoes.

By then it was pack up time and I went to Realm’s Ostani Bar for afterparty drink ups where I got sozzled and as we went past the hotel we caught Marco, after he’d had dinner and there I proceeded to drunk talk him until he ran from the room. Actually he told me to go home!

There the Dweeb, the lovely Matthew Farrer put me to bed, but woke me up again to give me my birthday present.

A clockwork phoenix.


I can’t name every moment or capture the photos I didn’t take, but I hope those of you that came had a fab time. Thank you to Nicole too, for making this an enjoyable experience and for sharing the load.

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I have been shamefully absent. This means I have been absent from my blog and I’m shameful about it.

I have excuses though. Good ones!

I was up in the Torres Strait for work for nearly two weeks before Easter. It was beautiful and so very humid that I nearly expired with the heat. Once back, I’ve been on leave and I had an intensive manuscript writing workshop at uni and a test and I’ve been plodding along with my two masters’ subjects. Eek! So in the next four weeks, I have a national science fiction convention to run (with Nicole and the team), two uni assignments to complete and a writers’ retreat. Doesn’t sound like much when I put it like that but there’s heaps to do on all levels. Then it’s back to work to report writing.

As well as the above I had to revise and resubmit a manuscript to a publisher and hopefully I’ll hear back about that soon. I guess I have a new outlook on crazy busy. Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m making some new outfits for Conflux 9. A new Victorian bustle dress and a new Regency dress and last night I dreamed of making a cake. (I need to be sedated. Pronto!)

Last night I had my first Conflux inspired insomnia episode.

Conflux 9 is going to be great. There’s a great positive vibe, a good swag of people coming (over 200) and fantastic guests and panelists. We have cool events. And some creative people designing and managing the things like the Junkyard Cathedral Masquerade and the Ditmar Awards on Saturday.

I used to  enjoy doing this stuff, but I realise that I don’t have the youth and vigour I did 9 years ago when I chaired the last Natcon in Canberra. Thank god I’m doing this gig with the powerhouse Nicole Murphy. She is awesome, brilliant and visionary. However, I shall be hanging up my con running hat after this. It’s time to truly concentrate on the writing. The best part about organising a convention and choosing the guests. We have fab guests, Marc Gascoigne from Angry Robot Books, Nalo Hopkinson, Jamacian/Canadian award winning author, Karen Miller, who is too prolific to list her titles, Kaaron Warren, a very talented and award winning horror writer and Rose Mitchell our Fan Guest of Honour. Rose has a long history with Conflux. I couldn’t name all the highlights and favs of this convention, but it is thrilling to be able to bring workshops and pitching opportunities to the writers among us. We have some top class panelists and some very cool topics to discuss.

Hopefully, after I put the house back in order after the carpet cleaning today. (so mundane! so necessary) I may blog again when my head is less full.

Cheers D

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What a fun day it was yesterday. It was launch day and all seemed right with the world. After gym, I met with Rydges to discuss Conflux 9 arrangements. That went really well and you know April isn’t that far away. I needed to sort a few things so we can finalise the program. I know we had this idea of it being nice and compact and well shit that doesn’t cut it. The program is so jampacked, it’s splitting its packaging. BTW to find out more check out the Conflux website, which is now http://www.conflux.org.au

Then after a bit of work at home, I drove to Young, which is about 2.5 hours away by car. I’d never been there before but I wanted to have coffee with Valerie Parv (the amazing romance author). Valerie used to live in Canberra and used to be  handy. However, she abandoned us for the lovely town of Young. I must say I was very impressed with the place. Valerie is now also writing science fiction. I’ll tell you a secret. In her younger days, Valerie was an SF fan. I found her name in some old fan stuff a few years ago. So I thought I’d let her know about Conflux natcon because she has a book out called, Birthright. Here is the link to Amazon. Some great reviews there. http://www.amazon.com/Birthright-ebook/dp/B00A0C07BK/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1357853906&sr=8-13&keywords=birthright

And both Nicole and I thought that Conflux is the place for her to come and shout out about her book.

Anyway we had a great natter together for a couple of hours and then I came home. I love driving and I love seeing new places.

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As Rayessa and the Space Pirates comes out tomorrow, I have to make some changes to this blog, such as putting up a page for ‘My Books!’ So I do a happy dance. It will be listed on Escape’s website here.

The week has not been all smooth sailing. I have teenager issues. Just picture a very ripe thunderhead inhabiting a bedroom at the other end of the house. Picture the forks of lightning that lash out randomly. Hear the growls of thunder, enough to shake you to the core and make your heart stutter. Lovely.

I sent out invitations to the party to celebrate the launch, which will be on the 19th. Unfortunately, I got distracted by MS Publisher software giving me grief over the document and didn’t see the typo. So over half of the invites went out with a silly typo. That just inspires confidence in me doesn’t it?

Early this week I got a rejection for a novel I’ve put my heart and soul into. I thought it might make it but it wasn’t quite what the market requires. I’m still thinking about that one. However, I think trying to make it fit the market is a big job and it would be easier to write a new story. So I promptly got an idea for a romantic fantasy, called Into the Dark Glass. I have the opening in my head but I’ll have to jot down notes when the idea forms up a bit more. I have the beginning in my head. It’s going to be dark and gritty, ya, romance (not erotic).

Then this morning I got the HarperVoyager rejection for Dragon Wine. Hey I was expecting this when the announced how many submissions they had. How does one stand out in such a big crowd. Kudos to those who do. I’m so glad they wrote to people as they hadn’t intended to originally. Sending that particular MS to HarperVoyager’s digital call was a difficult choice for me because it meant (at the time) giving up the dream of a traditional deal. It didn’t help that the editor had it all year and didn’t get to read it either. I’d revised it and cut 50,000 words from it. But that’s life. It’s my job to make it better and keep on submitting. So I did already.

I had another MS and that one was wait for a month, then it became three months and I haven’t heard so that’s means it’s the silent rejection or maybe stealth rejection. But that’s fine because you know I sort of changed my mind about submitting it there.

On twitter this morning I called these rejections ‘daggers of spurn’ and if I get another one this week, I’ll be a porcupine of spurn. (Picture me with daggers sticking out of my back). The spurn word comes from Ian McHugh. He was showing us (the CSFG group) his submissions’ spreadsheet. Instead of ‘rejected’ under result he had ‘spurned’.  The group thought that was pretty cool.

This week, I’ve been caught up with Conflux program set up. (if you are coming to Conflux9 in April and haven’t told me you want in, your time is running out). It’s taken me a lot longer than I thought. Tinkering and checking is more time consuming than the initial set up. I’d pretty much given up the thought of doing any writing this week.  I had planned to write the whole week but the Conflux stuff just derailed me. Logistics vs creativity.  Logistics wipes me every time. It’s like doing your taxes. All creative thought goes out the window as your jaw clenches and your eyes narrow as you start the quest to find all your receipts etc. However, I surprised myself today. I’ve been doing revision and getting through it.

Revision is like clipping toenails and reorganising your bookshelf. Satisfying as you cut the excess, but requires one to be logical and make sure things are sorted where they should be. Having beta reading comments helps.

So until tomorrow.

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Life has been busy is chez Donna. Nicole and I spent nearly 6 hours working on the Conflux program today (not counting all the other hours we spent). This is getting the whole weekend down on paper, checking the balance, adding extra panels, shifting them around etc.

I started before she got here so technically it was 7 hours. It was intense but hey, we have a working draft of the program and it’s awesome! Some of the panels made us squee.  It’s so not fair that we’ll be so busy with running the convention that we’ll be lucky to get to the panels at all.

We even talked Matthew Farrer into to panels. (If you knew Matthew you know what a feat this is). He also helped us with ideas when we came unstuck, such as realising that we should have a topic about x but didn’t. We were texting people, checking emails that came in with suggestions, going over emails people already sent.

We’d come up with names of panelists to add to the topics and I loved it when Nicole did a little wiggly in her seat and said. I so want to go to that panel session.

We have a lot of workshops and a lot of the writing craft stuff is covered in those, so the program  has lots of other interesting stuff!

The Conflux 9 program is jam packed. It really is and in a few weeks we’ll share. Right now, I have to type it up and then pass it on to the lovely Maxine McArthur who is doing the logistics of emailing the proposed panelists to see if they want to do the panels etc. (My joke to Nicole is: I so want to give this to Maxine and say “Make is so.” We both laughed but we’re geeks!). The logistical part a lot of work, but for Nicole and I, getting the program down on paper is a major hurdle. It’s not like we can sit on our assess and swill champagne  until the convention starts, but for the both of us the core of the convention is the program. Get that right and everything else hangs together.

Then after a quick nap and very good steak, I had to write some guest blog posts for lovely people who are inviting me around to talk about Rayessa and the Space Pirates. That’s on top of some Conflux emails and various other bits. I’m going to have a cuppa now and rest up with a book. I’m currently reading Twilight. My lecturer suggested the class do it and I was lucky that Trudi Canavan had given me a copy. After two sweeps of my book shelves I found it.


For the record I have very sore hands. So we did the work in my A3 sketch book by hand. It now has to be transcribed. It was better for me to do it that way than try to sit at the computer all day. I’m hoping the hand thing is the heat. I have sore feet too. Please god, do not let it be RSI.

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