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We had a long weekend in Canberra last weekend and I went to Conflux 15, a local SF convention. For the first time we had it in a library, Gungahlin Library to be precise. It was a nice space. There were logistical issues with the door when the library wasn’t open, but overall not too shabby.

It seemed to be a smaller convention than usual. It takes a few people to not turn up to make it seem that way. I heard that the committee had issues and that Karen Herkes was in hospital and that left just a small core of people to do all the things. They and the volunteers did a great job. The program was an awesome thing to behold. Well done, Alistair. I also hear that Karen is on the mend so that’s great news too.

Thoraiya Dyer was the guest of honour and her guest of honour speech was moving and funny. It was very well done. Les Petersen was the artist in residence and his talk about his puppets and animation was interesting. He talked about his career making book covers and how book covers should tell a story. Russell Kirkpatrick was the MC and he put on a schoolmaster role that had people laughing their heads off. Special bonus was a visit on the Sunday by John Scalzi, who did a walk around chat in the dealers area! A kaffeklatch and a question and answer session. It was so fab! John Scalzi was very generous with his time. His books are good too. I’m waiting on The Last Empero that he’s writing right now.

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Me with Thoraiya Dyer at the banquet

 

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Les Petersen during his talk

I have to admit to being the mastermind behind John’s thank you gift. I noticed when I met him in Perth at a Swancon a few years that he had a little sugar addiction going. He’d flown 40 hours to get to Canberra and would need a bit of sugar to get him home. We gave him a bag full of Australian sweets, with some vegemite flavoured peanuts thrown in. He has youtubed the tasting of said sweets. I laughed. Musk sticks scored the lowest and I love those lollies. I can’t keep a pack in my house because I’ll just keep eating them. The link to John’s youtube tasting is below.

A few days before, I was lucky enough to catch John Scalzi’s keynote at the Dept of Defence seminar on the future of war through the lens of SF. A great day full of great talks by the lights of Australian SF: Jack Dann, Janeen Webb, Russell Blackford, Cat Sparks, John Birmingham and other international speakers. I even got an idea for a novel out of that day from an unasked question.

The con kicked off at Siren’s on Friday night with a get together, with pizza and meat on skewers and it was low key but a nice way to warm up with everyone. Well everyone who came. It was free and put on for Conflux members. I’ve always been a fan of the warm up event.

I hung with Keri Arthur and Catherine Walker mostly at the get together and during the con. Keri is a real trooper and had come up for Conflux to catch up with mates. She didn’t even bring any books to sell. I also got to say hello to old friends and introduce myself to people I didn’t know.

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Catherine trying to get away from Keri and me.

 

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Catherine joining in because she couldn’t get away

I had a dealers table at Conflux so I spent a lot of time there. But first, you must hear about my book launch. Leife Shallcross launched Ruby Heart and Emerald Fire at 12.30 on Saturday. I made cupcakes. The best recipe ever that I got on Youtube. I will post the link below. I also made gluten free brownies and provided some rice crackers and humous.

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Launch food, photo by Cat Sparks

I think the launch went very well but I stuffed up my reading. This is because I was so busy! Can you believe that excuse? A serious lack of preparation. Cat Sparks took some shots from the launch. Thoraiya’s daughter had dressed in steampunk costume for the launch. I was dressed in 50s’ style as I have grown out of my steampunk garb! Thoraiya bought both books for her daughter, who is a very advanced 11 year old. To my surprise, the wonderful daughter finished both books by the banquet on Sunday night and pronounced them excellent! I have never been so gobsmacked and grateful for such excellent praise.

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Launch books

My partner usually helps me out with the table and launches but he had a commitment to our house cleaners. I was lucky enough to have my daughters and granddaughter come to help me. My second daughter revamped my table and the number one daughter did the till! They were rewarded with cupcakes.

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Me at the launch. Photo credit Cat Sparks

 

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Me explaining something about the books

People stopped by my dealer’s table so I did get some photos. These guys were instrumental in Matthew Farrer’s writing career. They used to manage a Gamesworkshop store back in the day. Matthew is my very understanding partner.

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Dr Tim Napper and Andrew Old

I was probably on the most panels I have ever been on during a convention. On Saturday I was on a panel about research and rabbit holes called the Exploration Beneath the Novel. It was a fun panel with Dion Perry, Dawn Meredith and Aiki Flinthart. We talked about types of research, like experiential–doing stuff so we can write about it more effectively. Aiki launched her Fight Like a Girl book at Conflux. I’ve almost finished reading my copy. It’s a book for writers about writing girl fights and it is interesting, well researched and very useful. I did her fight like a girl workshop last year.

I was scheduled to be at the Meet the Author station on the Sunday but after watching authors sit under this sign and no one coming to talk to them I didn’t do it. I likened it to the naughty chair so I stayed at my dealer table. Catherine M Walker had the table next to me and she was great keeping an eye on it while I was scampering about. Thank you Cath! And she was company when things were slow.

Monday I was on three panels.  The first one was SF romance, which was a very good panel with Freya Marske and Darian Smith, a new to me male romance writer. I will be interviewing him on the blog soon. Freya was the moderator and she did an excellent job.

Then in the afternoon I was on two in a row, Underground Movements and Secret Societies, followed by the Jane Austen panel. I didn’t have time between panels to change but I had decided to wear my latest Regency dress and my slapdash bonnet. Seeing that in the Regency period, and earlier, there were men’s clubs I thought I could get away with the dress and bonnet during that panel. We were lucky enough to have Keri Arthur join Dionne Lister, Dion Perry and me. It was a fun panel and interesting too about paranoia and conspiracy theories and why these nefarious societies work in fiction, particularly urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy and so on.

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Me on the underground societies’ panel, photo by Nicole Murphy

I chaired the Austen panel and participated a little bit. With panel members Leife Shallcross and Freya Marske, who could talk Austen underwater, this panel went off nicely. With some information gaps filled from the audience we were able to talk about Austen’s contribution to fiction and genre and recommend some Austen genre mashups. I had done a little research ahead of time through reading this book, What Matters in Jane Austen, by John Mullan. Thank you Nick for the gift.

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As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time at my table, but the buzz from the congoers was good. A bit slow for us dealers, but that happens. I did manage the banquet which had good food although I think they ran short of roasted vegetables and put some chips in there, which is a bit sad really. The gluten free menu was a bit contracted and poor Keri got no entrees and had to have ice cream with caramel sauce because there were no gluten free dessert for her.I did hear a rumour that we might get historical banquet’s again curtesy of our resident historian, Gillian Polack.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end. Sad to pack up the table but Matthew was there to help me so all good. I had to take a walking stick with me because of the distances involved. I have a partial tear in my plantar plate and I’m trying to keep the weight off. I kept leaving the stick behind. But once I went a certain distance I’d need it. I wasn’t faking it guys. I hate the damn stick.

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A great photo of me in my bonnet taken by Cat Sparks

So ends another Conflux. Conflux 16 has been announced for next year. If you like meeting authors and hanging out with the genre tribe then make plans to go to an SF convention near you. If you have been to Conflux before and think you might go along one day maybe, remember that Conflux only exists because people come along so come along next year. Without support SF conventions can’t afford to run no matter how dedicated the committee and volunteers. Convention goers make the con. I hope to see you next year.

Here is John Scalzi eating Aussie Sweets and YouTube.

The cupcake recipe is from this lady but this clip is great.

Cat Sparks has a great selection of photos on her Flickr account.

The first photo in Cat’s photostream is Elizabeth who bought and read my books. She’s so cute in her steampunk outfit.

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Last week it was Conflux 15 over three days of the long weekend. I’m due to write a post on that, but first I’m just in the relax weekend space. I have some sourdough in the making. I’m making three loaves instead of two as my second daughter wants a loaf regularly too. I currently make one for the house and one for the number one daughter. I think I have this sourdough bread baking in hand. Today though I threw in a bunch of other flour, some wholemeal and some spelt so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

It’s a lovely sunny day outside, though a bit nippy. I can see cloud shadows on the ranges out the window to my left. I find that view comforting and calming.

IMG_9298I’m a bit stressed. Not a lot stressed but just a bit. It’s the 13th of October 2019 and I’m wondering what is happening to time. September I had a schedule to work on my phd novel, which I stuck to, but October started out busy and you know it’s just slipped by.

I did a schedule for the rest of October and I feel sort of less stressed about it. I want to do NaNoWriMo in November but I do have an exegesis to get reacquainted with. I haven’t been at my uni desk for a long time. I’ll be back there next week.

I think the schedule helped me be less stressed because it positioned me in reality a bit. It’s not an overly hard schedule but sitting down and looking at the month let me know that I still have a couple of weeks to get things done. Or shall I say start to get things done. A little bit less of panic, hand waving, screaming mode.

The PhD is not overly stressful. I’m on intermission so how can it be? It’s one of those things I must really throw myself into next year (next year is fast approaching!). I’m not working and earning so that is probably an itch that contributes to this sense of unease. I think it is this sense that time is going too fast.

So today I’m kicking back and relaxing. I have no chance of slowing time, I know that, but I want to feel a minute pass, and feel my breath as it leaves my body. I’m looking at the view and I’m waiting for the sourdough to do it’s thing.

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Recent sourdough bread

I did have something else to say but it’s slipped through the sieve of my mind.

PS. The sourdough starter I dried before I went away revived nicely. I also froze some but can’t discover it in the chaos of the deep freezer.

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Currently I am living with my partner and his father.

I am pretty much an on the go person, except when I’m not. Recently I have been on the go. Baking bread, trying to weave (both fixed heddle and four shaft), write, bake, teach, study…

I fear I probably need a sedative as I am interesting to watch apparently. Maybe I don’t know how to relax.

Meanwhile, I am finding it hard to focus on the PhD novel. This post is probably an example.

It is just that there is so much to do and life is so short and I know I’ll never get to do all the things…and it makes me anxious!

Maybe I should just take a pill or meditate on what is important and reasonable.

Here is a picture of my 100 per cent Rye bread, first time ever. It’s all gone too. So yummy.

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I’ll be posting about my new novella next.

 

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It’s mid-semester break. I have a new granddaughter so it’s off to New Zealand for a quick visit to family and friends. It is also a good test run for my daughter and me and the baby as we are heading to the UK and Ireland in June for a couple of months.

Yesterday, my daughter bought a nifty little stroller that is 6.5 kilos and breaks down to fit into the overhead locker on the plane. I admit to being exited by this. Because once you check your bags you still have to get around the airport. I think airlines have loan strollers but I figure this is the best thing since sliced bread.

I’m taking my new Dreamstation with me and I have managed to get the Dreammapper app to work and download data. I am doing very well with the ACAP machine. My AHI is down to 1.6 which is normal and basically I feel energetic and alert which is great. This will be my first travel run with it.

I am hoping to get to the Jane Austen festival in Canberra next month but I have not sewn anything and that’s quite normal for me but I usually start sewing in the week before. As I’m going to busy I got stuck in yesterday. I took apart an old dress that I love but didn’t fit and made a new bodice with the scraps I found. Even then I didn’t quite get it right and had to put a band between the bodice and skirt. I will also change how it is fastened at the back as the hooks were crap. So it’s either lacing or buttons and I’m probably going to go buttons. At Ikea I bought some curtains that look like fine muslin with sew white stripes and I have cut out a dress out of it. That worked out to be $29.99 for the fabric and I think that’s quite reasonable.

Here is a snap of the remade dress I made maybe 14 years ago. I’ve grown outwards by at least 2 inches. Don’t mind the stuff around it. We are having the carpets cleaned so all the movables have been deposited around the house.

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And, finally, my publishing news. Argenterra, the first book in the Silverlands series is currently 99 cents/pence. Argenterra-1000x1500

Buy links

amazon ibooks Kobo Google Nook

Ruby Heart is now wide so you can grab a copy in Apple books, Kobo, Google, B&N as well as Amazon. The sequel Emerald Fire is still in Kindle Unlimited but I am going to have a free period and let my newsletter subscribers know about that.

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Ruby Heart is available from major retailers

Nook
ibooks  Kobo Google amazon

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I am happy to report that Ruby Heart is currently free on Amazon until February 4.

A book of manners, magic and mayhem.

I have also put Emerald Fire up for preorder, with a release date of 28 February. I am slightly behind schedule but it’s worth it.

I am helping my daughter with her new baby and have been distracted. So pop on over to Amazon and get your free copy.

Ruby Heart for free                                                                               Emerald Fire for preorder

 

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A funny kind of me day

Today was going to be a me day. Don’t get me wrong-it was- but not what I was expecting.

I had to provide some book links to another author who is spreading the word about Argenterra being on discount for 99 cents. I came to my website and realised that it was in a bit of a crap state. Some links weren’t working.

So my ‘me’ day has been split between working on a hat. Hat making is fun so I call that a win. The rest of the day so far has been updating and revamping my website. It’s not perfect but it is a damn sight better than it was. Do check it out! Mostly the home page and the My books page.

In other news, Moonfall is out. The final installment in the Dragon Wine series. I have no idea if readers think it’s any good. I don’t run an ARC team for feedback and review so I’m sitting here nervously…waiting…waiting.

I’m hoping that it was a delight and not a disaster!

I will be launching the last two books at Conflux, the Canberra SF convention on Saturday 29, 12.45 at the Vibe Hotel at Canberra airport.

I have just sent off a print order for some books. I may have to put another order in but I have enough for the launch!

I’m on some panel items at Conflux as well as having a table and I’ve just signed up to a creative writing thing in Bourke the week before as I come back late the day before Conflux starts. This means I have to very prepared. One of the things I’m doing is presenting the paper I did for IASPR on SF romance and sexual consent. We will also be holding a fan fund auction and have heaps of great stuff to auction off to raise money for GUFF!

Now, if I go find that book I’m meant to be reading for my Phd, I might pretend that it was a ‘me’ day after all.

 

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I have put together a collection of short stories called, Through These Eyes. It is a collection of magic realism and fantasy stories that span my whole publishing career. From my very first story, ‘Absence of Mind’, published way back in 2001, I think, to two stories that are appearing first in the collection,  ‘Compost Juice’ and ‘In My Father’s Footsteps’.

It seems that I have a preference for magic realism, particularly in my earlier stories. Unlike, Beneath the Floating City, which was all SF, this collection is squarely in the realms of magic realism and fantasy. Some are creepy, but then again that depends on your point of view. One story, ‘Veg Out’ was written as horror, but a reader told me they thought it was funny so I guess it could be read as a comedy too.

Each story has a note about how I came up with the idea or ideas that formed the story.

The stunning cover is by Patty Jansen.

Have you ever wondered what is real?
Are everyday things just as they seem or is there a secret world just beyond our perception? One that bends and shifts as it hides from our sight?

Eleven tales of speculative fiction from Australian author, Donna Maree Hanson

I hope you enjoy!

Edit! I forgot to put in buy links.

Amazon

Kobo

Google

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Through These Eyes

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