Conflux 11 – Writers and Fans

Conflux is over for another year.  For the past eleven years the science and speculative fiction writers and fans conference has been held over the October long weekend in Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory.  It is a conference run by writers of speculative fiction with panels, workshops and activities that both assist writers and provide fun for fans.  It provides an opportunity to meet well-known and respected writers and spend time with them.

This year Isobelle Carmody was guest of honour.21716189560_5cd0c8f435_o  Prolific author of fantasy fiction, she generously gave her time while in the process of completing her latest book, the Red Queen, the final of the Obernewtyn Chronicles, on a very, very tight deadline – the launch is expected in early November.  Between launching books, participating in panels and kaffeeklatches (coffee meetings), she took the time to mingle with attendees and chat. She spent time signing copies of her graphic novel ‘Evermore’ which she produced with graphic artist Daniel Reed.

The Mistress of Ceremonies for the four day event was Laura E Goodin, poet, playwright and short-story 21892265602_6ecdfc8a97_oauthor, Laura had the attendees in stitches as her introductions and announcements were constantly interrupted by urgent mobile phone calls from her home with questions about zombie apocalypses, imminent danger of death and starvation and all from her scotch loving cat.  She also wrote and hosted the Conflux Radio Play performed by several of the Conflux panellists and authors. The audience loved it.21951008176_9030441ee0_o Radio-Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another well-know attendee was Sean Williams, author of over 100 short stories and 42 novels with several Aurealis Awards and a Ditmar Award to his name.

Several books were launched:

Striking-Fire-cover-1 The first was “Striking Fire” by Dirk Flinthart, published by Fablecroft Press.  Followed by 

“Hero” by Belinda Crawford, published by Odyssey Books,

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2014,  andBloodlines-web Bloodlines , published by Ticonderoga Publications,

“The Floating City” by Craig Cormick, published by Angry Robot

“The Time of the Ghosts” by Gillian Polack, published by Satalyte,  

Fanzine, “The Vortex” edited by Tara Ott and Maddy Piggott which can be found on Etsy and

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild’s latest anthology, Never Never Land.

The art show E Harvey Award went to Shauna O’Meara for the cover of Never Never Land and was richly deserved.

theneverneverland

Cabinet_of_Oddities_flier_smallerFor writers there were pitching sessions that allowed authors to take their novels to a publisher to see if they were interested in their stories.  For fans there was entertainment like the ‘Cabinet of Oddities’ and the Banquet with entertainment by Meri Amber, self-styled ‘geek’ pop-singer, song writer whose delightful voice and wonderful songs had the audience clapping and singing.  I recommend going to her website and sampling her music.MeriAmber

 

 

 

 

This was my 6th Conflux event.  Every one I’ve attended is fabulous and the workshops and events, as a writer, are invaluable for improving my knowledge and skill as a writer. So much so that I was able to pitch my novel this year.  Whether it will be taken up is another matter, but just the knowledge that I’ve finished it and a publisher liked the premise of the story is a whole deal for me.  Fingers crossed it’s good enough to be worked on and published.  But if not, it was a learning experience I would not forgo.

Also being with fellow writers and fans who love genre fiction is, in and of itself, worthwhile.  For four whole days I was with people who ‘got it’ – who thought the strange thoughts I did, and talked in stories and about stories and had fun with stories.

So Conflux 11 is over for 2015 but now the planning begins for Conflux 12 – Red Fire Monkey. If you’re a writer or fan of speculative fiction, set aside 30 September to 3 October 2016 and come and join in the fun. Put it in your diary.

I am delighted to thank Cat Sparks for the wonderful photo’s. Her coverage, as in past years, was terrific.

 

Advertisements

Conflux 10, NaNoWriMo, Life and Me

A little distance is often a good thing.  I attended Conflux 10 in Canberra on the October long weekend.  This is the fifth time I have attended the conference and each time I’ve come away happy, tired an9837-Conflux-10-Logod a little overwhelmed by the friendships I’ve begun and being included in the network of wonderful writers – both well-know published authors and those, like me, just learning the craft. Added to all this, I was joined by two writer friends from the Eurobodalla Writers and we shared a wondrous weekend, cementing friendship, laughing and learning.

On Friday I attended an all-day workshop run by Russell Kirkpatrick and Nicole Murphy on writing opening chapters that catch the reader, summaries of novels and letters to publishers to catch their attention.  All very important skills and a great workshop.  That night we dressed up and attended the Hogwarts’ Pyjama party and, along with some fun games and laughs, had far too much sugar just before bed.  Saturday consisted of an interview with Margo Lanagan, the launch of several books including Simon Petrie‘s ‘Difficult Second Album’ and a horror short story competition suitably won by Shauna O’Meara.  Her story of a WWI pet rat on a battlefield was both charming and horrible.  Margo Lanagan came in a close second with a Halloween story.  After that we attended the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with music, food, talking, a bit of dancing and, not least, the dressing up.  My friend Marisol Dunham won the price for best costume and thoroughly deserved it.  The best cosplay group was Tim Napper, his gorgeous wife and son, dressed in Deep Space 9 uniforms.  Very, very nice.  Sunday, a few more book launches including Donna Maree Hanson‘s ‘Shatterwing’ and Gillian Polack’s ‘Lang (dot) doc’.  Then the ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’ banquet to finish off the day.

Highlights included a kaffeklatch with Isobelle Carmody and a beer meeting with Kaaron Warren.  Learned so much including that writers are normal people with some weird brains that I totally relate to.  I just hope I can someday become 1/10th as good as these ladies.

At the same time as all of this is going on, I’m completing a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.  Thoroughly enjoying the course facilitated at Wisdom Learning by a fantastic teacher in Erin Riley.  Lots of work involved and I’m doing it so that next year I can facilitate a Diploma Course in Project Management for Wisdom.

Prior to all this there was a wonderful week of babysitting my grandson Elliott and a visit to his cousin Ashlyn in Newcastle.  It certainly tested our resources but we did have fun with the grandkids.  They grow up so fast it’s hard to keep up.

The Tuesday after the return from Conflux the evening chapter of the Eurobodalla Writers met and we decided on our story for National November Writers Month – each of us doing a chapter.  The planning went very well and we are hoping to get it together in a book for our families.

I’ve finally got some time to get back to some knitting and writing and the weather is warming up so regular swims in the pool are a definite benefit of being home.  I can now take a deep breath before the onslaught of the Christmas silly season.  It’s silly because we end up running about like silly people to Canberra, Newcastle and even Sydney.  And then the family comes to us for a few days – which I love.  So I’m also looking forward to it even as I know by January I will be well and truly over it.

I didn’t quite get to all the New Year resolutions I made this year but I got to the most important ones – get fit, keep up with the grandchildren, learn some more about writing and writing itself.  I finished my novel but now am in editing mode and it’s going slowly.  However, it is going so that’s good.

I’m a contented Cat, YAY!

low key

 

It’s Done! And more as well.

So I’ve blogged about procrastination and wanting to finish my novel.  Well… I did it!  It’s finished.  77, 984 words.

146797

OK, the writing is finished.  Now comes the editing.  And believe it or not, I’ve already started that.  I think I mentioned I went to a great workshop with Ian McHugh on editing and I’m trying really hard to follow the guidelines.  Read and fix structure, then check characters and only then worry about the line edits.  So I’m reading from scratch.

But I keep wanting to pick up line edits and stuff.  It’s taking quite a bit of concentration and putting data into a spreadsheet as I do it, to ensure I’m sticking to the plan.  After all, this is the first book I’ve edited and it’s much more complex than a short story.  For one, there are many more characters and for another, it takes place in multiple locations.  Have I got all the elements I need? Are all the story elements covered and resolved? Is it logical in terms of the storyline?

So far, after 2 chapters, it’s OK but that, I think, is the easy bit.  It will take a bit of work before I can go on to making sure the characters are as rounded as they need to be and have their own voices.  Actually, that latter bit worries me but maybe I’m OK.  We’ll see.

On top of that I’ve been searching for a topic/theme/storyline for the next CSfG anthology ‘Never, Never Land’.  I don’t think I’m much good at Mad Max stuff and apocalyptic themes are a bit overdone for me.  So, horror, scifi, fantasy or what?  No answers for that here but I think I might have something that I can work with.  Finger’s crossed.

All in all, I’ve found my mojo again after months of … what? Thinking?  Wondering?  Worrying? Well I decided to stop the latter, keep wonder at my core and use it for good and stop thinking and write.  Seems to have worked for me.

Writing but not Blogging

So.  It’s been a while… again.  I have been reading and writing.  Just not writing about reading and writing.  Mainly because I haven’t had anything very interesting to say.  I don’t blog just for the sake of blogging.  I prefer to have an idea, an opinion or a happening I want to share.

Oh yes, I’ve been a busy girl.  Haven’t we all.  It’s been about family and that’s very satisfying.  But I don’t feel I need to air my family good times online.  Those are personal times and I love them.  And I am very cautious about what I actually send out into the great big permanent world of the internet.

What I have been doing is reading a lot of other people’s blogs on writing and spending time with local writers doing ‘stuff’.  I’m trying to improve my writing to a point where I believe I can let it out into the world and be proud of it.  Yes, I’ve been fortunate to have several stories published.  But today I would probably write them more tightly were I to do them again.

I’ve also been working on a novel since NaNoWriMo last November.  I’m working on the final chapters and it’s getting hard to wrap it all up.  I’ve been to courses including Ian McHugh’s ‘Polishing Your Turd’.  And that is actually what’s next for me.  Taking my creation and whipping it into shape.  A bit of a daunting prospect.  I’ve read that some writers actually enjoy that bit most… just not me.  As Ian said, I will have to ‘put on the overalls’ and begin the hard work.

And what have I learned over the past four months?  That I’ve still got a long way to go but that I’m determined to go there.  its_a_long_way_to_go____by_moonshadowgirl

Oh, I’ve equivocated.  The old ‘I don’t need to write, I’ve proved myself in other ways’ thoughts, or ‘I’m retired, I don’t need to push myself,’ or ‘I’ll never be as good as [fill in popular author] so why try.’  But then the mood hits and I have to sit at the computer and create a story; good, bad or indifferent.  I’ve been doing that most of my life, if not on computer than in notebooks while sitting waiting for someone or something, at coffee shops, in airport lounges.  I realise, looking back, I’ve always written and I feel happy when I do.  And therefore I MUST finish this book.

And I have also realised it’s not that I want anyone to say how wonderful it is, or it could be a best seller (a highly unlikely scenario).  I want to create something and finish it as best I can.  And if others like it, it’s a bonus.  And this has been the most important realisation, that I NEED to write, and write for me.

I do have two people to thank for all this ‘realising’.  The first is my dear friend M.A. Dunham, Marisol to me.  We met at the evening meeting of our local writing group the Eurobodalla Fellowship of Australian Writers (EFAW).  We’ve become fast friends and she’s a delightful and very talented writer.  She’s been chivvying me and we’ve spent days writing together.  And then there is Ian McHugh.  Beside being a delightful friend he’s a wonderful teacher.  He makes difficult issues like editing your own stuff seem a simple process of knuckling down and going through a process.  Of course, that’s what it is, but until he laid it out clearly, I really don’t think I had any idea of how to go about it.

And then there is the crew at CSfG.  How can you not be inspired by ‘Writers of the Future’ winners like Ian and Shauna O’Meara, and all the other wonderful published authors that make up the group.

So, to finish where I started.  I’ve not been blogging but I’ve been busy with family and writing.  And maybe, sometime this year, I will have a novel to put out there.  Fingers crossed.

finish-line-2

Writing and critiquing

The last month has been busy with writing – well all things writing I should say.  I’ve had fun with our small but very productive critiquing group from Eurobodalla Writers.  Ross has absolutely_fabulous_001been writing a wonderful story that probably goes into the ‘horror’ genre.  Rosie has been trying different styles and techniques and I’ve been writing a sci-fi story that I’m still not sure where it’s going.  It’s been fun reading other people’s work and discussing various issues about style, plots, characters and dialogue.

I’ve also been trying to organise the fundraising for the Eurobodalla Writers next anthology.  That’s been a bit of a trial really.  Not that it’s anyone’s fault but trying to line up the bank accounts, PayPal and getting on board with Pozible – the crowd sourcing website, has proven to be difficult.  All of them require exactly the same information or it won’t work but when the old bank accounts don’t have the correct name or even one that identifies us as Eurobodalla writers, then things get silly from there.  I’m so sick of the paperwork, the amount of times I’ve had to get the Committee to sign different forms and so on, that last week I almost gave up.  But then, of course, I got stubborn.  I will not let this defeat me.  It has meant that out fundraising will start next Woman-pulling-out-hair2February as I cannot see anyone helping out before Christmas.  It also means our anthology won’t be published until later 2014.  Still, it’s our 20th anniversary so it will get done.  Yes it will, it will, it will.

So now we are about to open the submission period for the new anthology.  Of course, we decided it would be anonymous and we would get slush readers.  If I am going to put my name to an anthology as editor I want it to be the best it can.  There is a slight problem in that not all of our members are online, some don’t even have computers or type out their stories.  I am hoping, and believe there are, some generous members who will assist our non-technical members with this.

Amongst all that I’ve finally gotten around to editing my novel manuscript.  And as I started writing this before I really learned anything about creative writing, I find myself doing quite a bit of rewriting.  The initial draft is all about telling and so the story, which I still like, is not changing much, but the way I’m doing it is.  We have a monthly crit group whose members are all writing novels.  It’s really nice to see different writers, some of them just starting out and some already published, come together and work in this way.  It’s very illuminating and I hope working for all of us to make us better writers. So, now that I’ve finally gotten to blog again I guess I will need to get back to my editing.

Here I Go!

Yesterday, I sat down and rewrite Chapter 1 of my novel.  This morning I woke up at 5.30am and though “Sh#t!  I know how I should have done it better. I should put this there and then when I get to that bit…..”  So this morning it’s back to Chapter 1 and another go over.  But now that I’ve got that under my belt I think I have an excellent way forward for the rest of my book.

I find it amazing how the brain works.  Yep.  I have a degree in Psychology yet the way the brain works amazes me.  You work hard for nearly 5 hours and you look at what you’ve done and say “OK, it’s good”.  Then you do other stuff and go to bed.  During the night the brain goes on a sort of ‘standby’ you think.  Yet it does a background program review and then, BANG!, there is just what you’ve been reaching for and you realise “OK,” and “good” were actually not so OK and good.

It’s a bit like the actual story lines.  I sit down at the computer and a blank Scrivener document.  My fingers sit on the keyboard and then I begin to type and the story just seems to come from nowhere out the end of my fingers and onto the screen.  Yes, I have to sometimes stop and decide where it goes, especially if there are several options.  But when I get going it seems to come from that back part of my brain.

It’s funny, because I always got caught up in the stuff I was taught at school – you had to plan an essay or story and then, when it was clear, write it.  I guess there are many writers who do it that way.  What eventually set me free from all the supposed ways of doing creative writing was Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’.  He simply said ‘just do it’.  Seems to work for me.  OK, it was also a memoir but it was interesting none the less.  I guess we all need to find our path in different ways and this was my ‘aha’ moment.

So, two posts in two days and now another day of serious rewriting.

I’m feeling good.