Archive for the ‘Writer conventions’ Category

The wonderful Nicole Murphy and her team of volunteers put on a wonderful day last Saturday (April 5), presenting the inaugural Canberra Writers Day and the Aurealis Awards. The venue, University House, particularly the Great Hall, had wonderful charm. There’s this long gold fish pond in the quadrangle that I’d love to take home to my place.

Conflux Inc with Nicole at the helm put up bid to run the Aurealis Awards for two years in Canberra. Nicole wanted to make it worthwhile for people to come up for the ceremony and thought up a professional writers day.

The first thing I have to say is that both events were very well run. Nicole and the team were excellent. That’s pretty awesome for a multi stream event. Also, I know it was hard financially as there was absolutely no sponsorship money to be had for either event. That’s pretty tough going. I did note that Escape Publishing put an ad in the Conflux Writers Day booklet. Awesome.

I had a full day and I presented a talk. The plenary sessions were pretty amazing. Joanne Anderton, Kaaron Warren, Ker Arthur, Ian McHugh. All of them had inspiring and interesting presentations on their processes, their journey.

Joanne blew me away with her writing process and her copious notebooks, all so clean. Mine are NOT clean but I do have a similar weakness when it comes to notebooks and pens. I do much less thinking though. But then Joanne is an amazingly talented author and bloody hardworking.

Kaaron shamed me most terribly with her talk on using the minutes when you don’t have hours to write. I’ve known Kaaron a long time and I’ve always admired her talent but also what a devoted mother she is and how family focussed. She’s an inspiration.

Keri talked about her journey to becoming a published author and a New York Times best seller. Her story was a amazing. She persevered when many would have given up. Thank you for the inspiration Keri.

Ian McHugh talked about submitting work, write and submit and repeat was my take away message. Ian always inspires me with his focus and the stories he writes.

I went to the shorter concurrent sessions, which were 20 minutes long. I gave one myself on ‘You are not alone’ the value of writing relationships. It was about writing groups, writing buddies, writing dates and writing retreats. But I ran out of time, which surprised me and I forgot to talk about the really good part of writing retreats- the socialising (read drinking and talking crap). Someone came up to me afterwards and thought I was going to talk about relationships in writing, you know science fiction with romance. I laughed so hard. I would have loved to talk on that topic.

Craig Cormick was awesome.  I have to reprogram my head to say I’m going to win at this writing gig. Marcus Armann talked about Evernote and Scrivener and I’m now tempted to buy the later writing program, particularly after catching Phil Berrie with his word frequency proofing/editing talk. Scrivener has analytical tools that does that stuff. I’m always repeating myself when I don’t want to.

Russell Kirkpatrick sorted his mob into top downers and bottom uppers in the world building sense. He’s definitely a top downer, planning his worlds and then writing the story. I’m quite near the other end. To me it’s story first with an idea of the world, but often I build as I go.

Chris Andrews talked about blogging, which was an excellent session. I learned something. See Chris!

The lovely Shannon B Curtis talk about using Microsoft Word to navigate our novels. That was also very interesting.

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild had a table selling books (theirs and others) and I bought a copy of Joanne Anderton’s collection, The Bone Chime Song and other stories and lost it. (so if anyone found a copy. It could be mine).

Overall it was great to network with people and also see the new faces. Again I didn’t get around to everyone to chat.

Congratulations to Nicole Murphy and the team for a wonderful event.


I didn’t take many photos during the day, except this one of Russell Kirkpatrick. (Happy birthday Russell for tomorrow!!!).

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

PS I’ll have to write about the Aurealis Awards in another post. My time has run out this morning. I decided to get up early to write. Though technically writing a blog post doesn’t count as writing.

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When I think of this time last year, my life is so much better. I had a lot of work stress and I had the RSI at this time last year. The year continued to drag and I was down. I went on a writers’ retreat in January, for the first time without a writing goal because of the aching hands. The year got slowly better, but it wasn’t until the latter part of the year that things looked up in many ways. I still managed to do my uni course with an HD in English Grammar and a D in Writing for Young People and I applied to do a Masters in Creative Writing, which I will finish this year if all goes well.

The RSI settled. I’ll always have it, but it’s not acute and I have to exercise at the gym to keep it at bay and use dictation software and take breaks. It could be worse but it’s not. I’m grateful for that and for the support I received.

I changed work areas and I really like my new one and I’m looking forward to my new project. This makes a huge difference to me and the future outlook.

Somewhere during the year Nicole and I put up our hands to run a natcon (actually did we do that the year before?). It could have been insanity, but hey we are so looking forward to it and also looking forward to when it is over. Mostly because both of us have had excellent news on the writing front.

Since August I have been writing like my life depended on it. Lucky for my sanity that is slowing a bit. I will be writing until January 14 and then it is full work, Conflux Natcon and study mode. Writing will go on the back burner until May and then I’m off on a week long writers retreat/Conflux wind down, before really getting into the year. Looking back over the year, I revised Dragon Wine and cut it back by around 50,000 words, I revised and cut back, Argenterra, not by as much but I did it. I completed a novel (first draft), called the Sorcerer’s Spell and it is on the to be revised/polished list, I also revised Ruby Heart. I wrote a couple of short stories but only published two during the year. However, I need to get those stories out there and not take rejections so hard. I also started a short novel called Bespelled. I hope to finish the draft of that by New Year’s Eve.

In August, I discovered my romance writer side and embraced it. I enjoy writing romance and particularly cross genre works. I feel like a dam has burst and all those ideas that were in my head for ‘one day when I become a full time writer’ are now climbing over one another to be written. I don’t need to wait I just need to do. It’s a great feeling really. To be here where I feel my writing has come into its own.

Who knows I may get more publications or I may get none. I have to look to 2013 for that, but in 2012 I’m not saying to myself: another year and no novels picked up.

I have appreciated the support of friends, family and the bigger writer circle. A particular shout out to Nicole Murphy, Matthew Farrer, Ian McHugh, Kaaren Sutcliffe, Maxine McArthur, Sam Phillips. Russell Kirkpatrick, Kylie Seluka, Glenda Larke, Trudi Canavan, Kaaren Warren, Ingrid Jonach. Chris Andrews and many of the tribe. There are too many to name.

I went to some great conventions/conferences during the year and met new people and caught up with old friends. Continuum, Conflux 8, Genrecon, Romance Writers of Australian Conference. Each one provided me with new learnings and new opportunities. Maybe next year I’ll get to World Fantasy in Brighton UK, but I’ll have to dramatically change my spending habits and convince Matthew to come too.

On a personal level, I’ve had my ups and downs. My body is changing, winding down and that provides its own challenges with hormone swings, weight gain, fatigue among other things. Keeping positive and appreciating those around me is something I’ve been trying hard to do. I can’t help but at times to be anxious (about work, manuscripts, family members, the state of the economy and even politics) but I do try to control it.

Perhaps I have even discovered that I’m a bit OCD. This relates to the sheet set episode where I couldn’t make the bed with odd sheets and had to go buy some.

My credit card is a basket case. Savings have been hit hard. New central heating unit and just life really. It’s been a tough year for the spendthrift me. I’m hoping things will improve during 2013. Finance and 2012 have been a bugger.

Some people close to me have been hit by cancer. That is hard for them. Also hard for me as I am powerless to help. I think that is where I get challenged when I can do nothing, just be there, be positive and that’s sometimes the hardest.

There is probably more I can say, but 2012 you’ve been difficult and brilliant. Here is hoping 2013 is better and brings new hope to everyone.

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Sorry this is a bit overdue. Genrecon was at the beginning of November and now it is nearly the end of November. It’s really scary how I seem to be on a roller coaster heading smack into Christmas. My head is still firmly in fiction writing land and I picked up the paranormal romance I started in New Zealand and it’s like I’m obsessed. I want to find out how it ends. I have the outline I wrote on the way back from the Romance Writers of Australia conference, but I’m quite ready to toss it as the characters have taken off. I think perhaps I had too much plot but we’ll see.

Now back to Genrecon. What an amazing convention that turned out to be. It was a convention aimed at developing writers from crime, romance, speculative fiction, including horror writers, held in Parramatta. I’m not sure how many people were there. I’d say around 200.

We were late for the opening cocktail party as we had to drive up from Canberra after work. It was still going strong by the time we arrived. Matthew took refuge in our suite and I headed for the bar. Two panels sessions started, which I didn’t realise until I was ensconced in the bar. I caught up with people I new from SF cons, Jason Nahrung, Peter Ball , Chris McMahon, Jodi Cleghorn and others.

Breakfast was included in our room rate and when we went down, we found out it was combined with the conrate as well. (I’d booked too late to get the con rate so I got a priority awards rate instead). So the restaurant contained plenty of people we knew. Jane Virgo, Chris Andrews, Nicky Strickland and Damien Cavalchini.

My memory is a little frayed after a few weeks had passed. I remember it all worked really well. The mixture of genre writers created a new kind of tribe. Many were new to cons and others not. I caught up with Jodi Cleghorn, Abigail (@BothersomeWords) and met new people, such as the lovely Rebekah Turner @RbkhTurner, whose debut urban fantasy was released by Escape Publishing last week. To get the book ready for launch both Escape Publishing and the authors worked hard. Rebekah told me on her very quick turn around on edits and proofs. Her cover looks amazing. I met up with Kate Cuthbert (who I can now say is my publisher), Alex Adsett wonder person who gives advice on publishing contracts and is now an agent and I scored at pitching session with Ginger Clark, editor from Curtis & Brown NY.

I introduced myself to Dan O’Malley at breakfast. I’d written to him about Conflux 8 and 9 and I was hoping he would honour us with his presence. He was really nice and very popular as a panellist and the spontaneous kiss (Kate Eltham) during the debate knocked everyone’s socks off. If you caught the twitter feed people were saying he was pure gold.

At lunch I caught up with people. Here is a shot of Alan Baxter and Andrew McKeirnan.

Alan Baxter and Andrew McKeirnan


And Jodi Cleghorn and Alan Baxter

Jodi Cleghorn and Alan Baxter

There were three streams of panels during the day with main sessions combining all rooms. Genrecon had a lovely format for community partners to talk about what they  had to offer, Sisters in Crime, Australian Horror Writers Association, Romance Writers Association and Conflux. We all had 15 minutes to strut our stuff. The Conflux session was on Saturday afternoon and we had a prize draw. A stack of books, which I put together from our authors and from Angry Robot. That went off like a charm because the first person drawn preferred books to a membership. And luckily the second name was Amanda Bridgeman, who is a writer coming out with Momentum next year, won a membership. She was waiting in the wings to talk to me about coming along and wouldn’t you know she won a prize.

Later I had a pitch session with Ginger Clark. She was awesome but threw me a bit by telling me to sending her 50 pages and I’d only been there a minute. So I chatted to her about the Air NZ Hobbit themed safety video and blah, blah until the hook came to drag me off stage.

I went to the Pistols and Parasols banquet. I went to NZ so had to rush my bustle dress but I was pleased with the result. I also had a very pretty parasol. See picture that Matthew took below. I totally wanted to do ‘bustle punk’.

Me in my bustle dress

The food at the banquet was very good. The entertainment was awesome. First up Kim Wilkins, who was the MC, interview Kate Cuthbert about Harlequin’s new digital imprint Escape. Kate is awesome. She is an editor who likes to dress up!

Here is a shot of Kate Cuthbert and author Daniel O’Malley

Daniel (Fez) O’Malley and Kate (Cut throat) Cuthbert.

A shot of Alex Adsett and Dan O’Malley. Life is pretty awesome when even agents like dressing up.

Alex Adsett and Daniel O’Malley

Then Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books did an amazing talk including a cover snark of how Australia is depicted in US romance books. Absolutely awesome.

As I was leaving the banquet, I had to admire this dress. The lovely lady works for the Queensland Writers’ Centre and I think her name is Aimee (correct me if I’m wrong).

Aimee in her Edwardian gown

What was amazing about the gown, as well as looking fab, was that Aimee saw the dress in 1915 magazine and drew the pattern herself and then made it. How talented and patient. She said it took a month for her to get the pattern drawn well.


Here is a shot of Chris McMahon and one of Chris Andrews and Matthew Farrer (my Dweeb!).

Chris McMahon, author


Chris Andrews and Matthew Farrer both from Canberra

After the banquet we were moved on to the bar, except the normal people, (people from Rosehill Racecouse) were still occupying the bar. Apparently, it gets nasty and there are security guards etc. We had a letter and a pass delivered to our rooms in the morning to advise if we left the hotel we’d need a pass to get back in, because they tried to keep people out. It was very educational watching the drunk normal people behave very oddly. Eventually we got back in the bar.

While we waited I caught up with Cat Sparks.

Me and Cat Sparks

And I got to meet author, Charlotte Nash, who wore this Firefly inspired number.

Charlotte Nash

Matthew and I had to duck out because our room deal came with wine and a chocolate fondue. So we ducked up to our room and then I went back to the bar.

I snaffled a shot (a selfie) of me and Rose from @Fangbooks in the bar.

Rosie and me

Sunday it was one of the nerve wracking things were there were three panels I wanted to go to but could only get to one. I went to Sarah Wendell’s one about social media and blogs and marketing. I also went to a session on planning your writing career and copyright and contracts, which was a double header with Alex Adsett and Peter Ball. I haven’t written my plan yet but I’m onto it. Joe Abercrombie was interesting to listen to. I totally lost my smooze mojo when I spoke to him. I happened to mention that his first novel had very little romance. Things sort of dived from there and he choofed off quick and proper.

So overall a great atmosphere. It was totally catered, which I didn’t realise and I had bitched about the price so felt a tad stupid, particularly when Peter Ball told me it was all over the registration page. You don’t get that with cons normally and I wish we had enough $$$ to do at least one meal at Conflux 9. Conflux 8 did a lunch on the Saturday and it went down so well.

So thank you Genrecon for a great time. I totally enjoyed myself and thought it was very well done. The hotel was fab and the logistics of opening and shutting concertina doors was spot on. If I’m in Australia during the next one, I’ll be there. The next Genrecon will be held in Brisbane, backed once again by theQueensland Writer’s Centre and the Australian Writers’ Marketplace. Genecon you rocked.


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