Sunday, April 25, 2010

KSP Mini Con Update

From the KSP Mini Con blog

The Absolutely Final Program
We're very excited. Come along to Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, 11 Old York Rd, Greenmount, between 10:00 am and 5: pm on May 2. Yes, it is this coming Sunday! How did it come up so fast?

The final line up is:

Annette Backshall and Vanessa Boscarello will share MC duties.

10:00: Casting Call: heroes, villains and monsters. Hal Colebatch, Toby Coulstock, Liz Grzyb, Bevan McGuinness and Carol Ryles (mod)

11:00: Writing Intensives e.g. Clarions, Writers of the Future: do they work? Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Carol Ryles, Helen Venn and Annette Backshall (mod)

Or enjoy a Kaffeeklatsch: Nanowrimo with Elaine Kemp and Sarah Parker

12:00: Stuck in the Mud: Writers' block/painting characters into a corner: Stephen Dedman, Sue Isle, David Kitson, Bevan McGuiness and Annette Backshall (mod)

1:00: Should WA writers use WA settings? Lee Battersby, Adrian Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Juliet Marillier and Russell B. Farr (mod)

2:00: Romance in Fantasy. Lyn Battersby, Satima Flavell, Elaine Kemp, David Kitson and Sarah Parker (mod)

3:00: World Building: Dave Luckett, Bevan McGuinness, Helen Venn and Carol Ryles (mod)

Or enjoy a Kaffeeklatsch: E-publishing with Elaine Kemp and Tehani Wesseley

4:00: Turkey City Lexicon: Have some fun with overused tropes of SF. Russell B. Farr, David Kitson, Dave Luckett, Ian Nichols and Annette Backshall (mod).

See you on Sunday.

Friday, April 23, 2010

KSP Mini Con Update

Taken from the KSP Mini Con blog

Nine More Sleeps
Until the KSP 2010 Mini Con.

It's getting better by the day. There will be panels peopled by some of Perth's finest speculative fiction writers and publishers. You'll be able to buy a range of books from Fantastic Planet and indie publishers Ticonderoga Publications and Twelfth Planet Press as well as from local authors. And, of course, there are the kaffeeklatsches - but you'll have to be early to book into those. Numbers are limited.

Just to remind you, the details for the KSP Mini Con are:

Where: Katharine Susannah Writers Centre, 11 Old York Rd, Greenmount

When: Sunday, May 2, from 10:00 am 'til 5:00 pm.

Entry: Adults $5.00 Family pass $10.00

There'll be snacks and tea and coffee available at a reasonable price duirng the lunch period.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother Earth - Mover and Shaker

So first there was the volcano erupting in Iceland and bringing aviation to a crunching halt. Now we have earthquakes - a massive one in China where there have been many lives lost (although we must be thankful it doesn't look like it's going to compare with the Haitian one in January where the death toll was simply horrendous) and, comparatively speaking, some minor ones (below 6.0) in South Australia a couple of days ago followed by one in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia this morning (neither causing major damage) and there have most probably been others worldwide - all in a week. This is Mother Earth going about her business while we cling, rather precariously, to her surface deluding ourselves that the ground we stand on is secure.

Like anyone with even a basic knowledge of the action of tectonic plates, I'm not surprised at how many earthquakes there are world wide each year - twenty six so far over 6.0 in 2010 and many more below that. Most are minor, causing little more than a shaking that is barely noticed. When you live, as we all do, on drifting land masses collisions are inevitable and we have a fair idea of the main areas where fault lines occur so we just need to accept it.

Unfortunately we have sometimes built major cities in less than stable areas in the past when we had a less accurate understanding of the complexities of the planet and this does create problems. Our forebears arrived somewhere that had ample water, fertile soil and lush vegetation and it seemed like just the place to settle. They may have been there for hundreds - even thousands - of years, unaware of any danger from the volcanic crater on the side of which they had built or the hidden fault line their town straddled.

Then the warning would come in the form of an eruption or an earthquake. But they were settled there. Maybe a god lived in the mountain or under the ground and they had annoyed him or her so they would repent, sacrifice and it wouldn't happen again - at least not in their lifetime. Maybe they would think that it was just some strange aberration and when it didn't recur, well, there was no need to worry, was there. By the time it happened again the village would have grown - into a town or a city - with all the infrastructure and population that comes with that. More sacrifices to the gods maybe or, if they were people with enquiring minds, they might work out that these incidents would possibly happen again and they would try to take steps to mitigate the damage. They could shift away but the effort - all that work of dismantling an entire civilisation and lifestyle and rebuilding - well, they could take a chance it wouldn't happen again. So they stayed.

And that's exactly what we are still doing. The benefits of staying put outweigh the work of moving and finding somewhere more suitable. I can understand that. We all make these sorts of decisions - is something worth the work involved - in our lives on a daily basis. If you live on the slope of a volcano where the soil is so fertile that your crops grow almost like magic staying seems a better option than deciding to move because of a possible but not certain future eruption. Just look at any volcanic region in the world. The same applies if you've built a city with a population that numbers millions. The logistics and the cost are enormous even if you can find somewhere to move to. There are cities built on major fault lines - San Francisco and Teheran are examples - and we pretty much cross our fingers and hope that it won't happen.

Sadly, it isn't always the right decision. You just have to look at the loss of life in Haiti in January to see that. It's not always a matter of personal choice either. Our society has become increasingly city centric since the Industrial Revolution began and people have to go where the work is. While I wouldn't want to go back to living according to pre Industrial Revolution ways I suspect this issue is going to have to be resolved one day, I hope without a massive loss of life as an entire city crashes down or is covered in volcanic ash.

But if we can't solve these world problems we can at least help those who, for whatever reason, are suffering as a result of natural disasters. Relief funds have been set up worldwide to aid areas where the major earthquakes that have occurred and I urge you to give what you can. It's not only immediate loss of life that is the problem. In many of these disaster areas people remain homeless and injured long after the world's attention has passed by.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eagles Flying - at last

Lots of footy this weekend. The Eagles won - which is a good thing- but Daniel Kerr has a hamstring injury - a very bad thing. Then the Dockers v St Kilda was exciting, entertaining football with the Saints really stretched by the Dockers. Better luck next week, Freo.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Well Lookie Here

Ellen Datlow has posted on her LJ lists - and long lists they are too - of those included as honorable mentions in Best Horror of the Year Volumes 1 and 2. There a lot of familiar names in among them so go and have a look.

The lists are very extensive so please forgive me for not trying to list everyone. There are lots of Australians and the Australian contingent includes my Clarion South mates Pete M. Ball, Lyn Battersby, Jason Fischer, Christopher Green as well as tutors Lee Battersby, Simon Brown and Margo Lanagan. Other Clarionites also rate a mention with Michael Greenhut and yet another tutor, Kelly Link, featuring. There are so many more and I congratulate them all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

KSP Mini Con 2010 Program

Taken from the KSP Mini Con blog.

It's Here.

The Mini Con 2010 program that is. We're excited about it and hope you will be too.
We have some great panellists and topics covering a wide range of writerly topics so come and enjoy them on May 2 at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount WA 6056.

Here's the complete list:

10:00: Casting Call: heroes, villains and monsters. Hal Colebatch, Toby Coulstock, Liz Grzyb, Bevan McGuinness and Carol Ryles (mod)

11:00: Writing Intensives e.g. Clarions, Writers of the Future: do they work? Lee Battersby, Sonia Helbig, Carol Ryles and Helen Venn

Kaffeeklatsch: Nanowrimo with Elaine Kemp and Sarah Parker

12:00: Stuck in the Mud: Writers' block/painting characters into a corner: Sonia Helbig, Sue Isle and David Kitson

1:00: Should WA writers use WA settings? Lee Battersby, Adrian Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Russell B. Farr (mod) and Juliet Marillier

2:00: Romance in Fantasy. Lyn Battersby, Satima Flavell, Elaine Kemp and David Kitson

3:00: World Building: Dave Luckett, Bevan McGuinness, Helen Venn and Carol Ryles (mod)

Kaffeeklatsch: E-publishing with Elaine Kemp and Tehani Wesseley

4:00: Turkey City Lexicon: Have some fun with overused tropes of SF. Russell B. Farr, David Kitson, Dave Luckett and Ian Nichols.

More details soon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Laptop Hunting

Although I'm typing on it now this beastie is seriously ill. I could list what ails it but it would take much too long and, besides, it's too depressing. While all my work is backed up it's a pain to have to keep on saving things on to a thumb drive every few minutes because slabs of writing can vanish in an instant.

I'm not enjoying the process of trawling through umpteen laptop advertisements where everyone seems to be trying to convince me to buy the latest, shiniest, most powerful laptop on the market. That's not what I'm looking for. I am trying to convince myself that as a writer my laptop is a work tool and only that. I absolutely do not need all those lovely, seductive things - like games and movies - clamouring for my attention when I should be working. What I need is at 4 GB of RAM, a processor that works efficiently and quickly, access to the internet - for research, people, for research - a screen around 15" and a full size keyboard ideally with a battery that actually delivers what it promises and weighs very little. Yes they are out there but oh, it's so hard to decide. Shiny is so enticing - and there is much shiny and pretty to distract me.

I'm Not Talking Footy

except to say that the Eagles - well they still haven't got it together. For a die hard supporter that is not easy to admit - and they were playing North Melbourne, for Heaven's sake.

In the other WA match the Dockers deserve praise for their win over Geelong. What a nail biter! That's how football should be played. A joy to watch.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

2009 Australian Shadows Awards

The winners announced on the Australian Horror Writers Association website are:

Long fiction: Slights by Kaaron Warren, Angry Robot

Edited publication: Grants Pass edited by Jennifer Brozek and Amanda Pillar, Morrigan Books

Short fiction: Six Suicides by Deborah Biancotti from A Book of Endings Twelfth Planet Press

You'll find the judges' reports on the website as well.

Swancon in Detail

There was a lot to enjoy at Swancon but for me the writer oriented parts were the most appealing. I did miss a few sessions in the evenings. I'm still recovering from a recent illness and I was exhausted by 6.30 pm most days. That was a pity because I also missed the book launches. Belong, an anthology edited by Russell B. Farr and published by Ticonderoga Publications features my KSP Speculative Fiction mates, Carol Ryles and Sonia Helbig, among a host of talented writers including Patty Jansen, who is also a finalist with me in the Fist Quarter of Writers of the Future. The other book is Scary Kisses, another Ticonderoga Publications anthology, this time edited by Liz Grzyb, and includes a story by another KSPSF member, Annette Backshall, in an equally exciting list of authors. I have both books in my hot, little hands - and signed by the editors for an extra bonus - and I'll put up reviews soon.

Among other things I was surprised at just how many people had heard about my shortlisting in the Writers of the Future.

There were other highlights though too and here are a few of the sessions - and other activities - I particularly enjoyed.


I got waylaid chatting with various friends: Satima Flavell, Carol Ryles, Annette Backshall and Sonia Helbig in particular so I missed most of the morning sessions. Yes I know - naughty - but that's all part of the con experience too.

I did get to Scott Sigler's GOH speech and interesting it was too. Scott has made an art form out of promotion of his work, going to places I would never have thought of including giving away free downloads of his books on line. It seems obvious now he has pointed it out - and this was recurrent theme from all the professional writers - that publishers have limited funds for promotion and it's down to the writer to do as much as they can to promote their own work. I will certainly be applying some of Scott's suggestions because they make sense.

Ian Irvine's talk, 'Getting Published', was another useful - if depressing - session giving an introduction to the realities of the publishing world.


Yes well mornings did seem to disappear in chatting but it was fun.

A session by Gina Goddard on trends in YA proved interesting and her list of recommended books - and there are a lot on it - will certainly be getting checked out.

Ian Irvine's GOH speech was illuminating as much of what he talked about added to his talk on the previous day. His ways of promotion are different from Scott Sigler's but equally effective. He's a good speaker and I learned a lot.

Ah yes the Xena Warrior Princess retrospective with Sarah Parker. What a hoot. I was always a fan of Xena and I was surprised to see how well the series had aged - and now, dammit, I'll have to get a complete set of the series.


I was somewhat late due to injuring myself in a fall on Saturday night but I still managed to browse the market stalls - and, of course, chat some more - well, a lot more - and I have still more books, A Book of Endings by Deborah Biancotti, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne and Roadkill/Siren Beat by Rob Shearman and Tansy Rayner Roberts, both published by Twelfth Planet Press.

The Promoting Your Book session with Ian Irvine and Narrelle M. Harris was, for me as a writer at this stage in my career, invaluable. Their advice was sensible, practical and entertaining. I have notes to transcribe. Boy, do I have notes to transcribe.


Somewhat miraculously I got to a 10:30 am session where Richard Harland, Ian Irvine, Dave Luckett and Stephen Dedman talked about the differences inherent in writing short and long fiction. There were a few light bulb moments for me in there that are going to be very useful.

Richard Harland followed on with a session on the art of telling speculative fiction and again, I have notes, many notes.

Only two sessions to go by then - one on how to make science work in speculative fiction and finally SFF and Romance. Both gave fascinating insights into how different writers work but also showed their similarities. All good stuff.

I bought one final anthology, The Starry Rift, a prize winning anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan.

And then we were done. I grabbed a coffee with Satima and Juliet while I waited for my lift for a lovely end to a great con.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Swancon 2010

It was a great weekend. I've heard suggestions that having Swancon as a four day con over Easter is too long but having attended both three and four day cons I can't see this is true. I'm bushed now but I have been equally exhausted after three day cons.

As far as Swancon itself went, the guests were generous with their time and knowledge and the panels ranged over a wide variety of topics. It was an opportunity to learn, to catch up with old friends and to make new ones. Even a fall on Saturday night that left me with a swollen and extremely painful hand and wrist didn't spoil the experience - although not being able to drive and having to hire cabs as a result did put a crimp in my book buying budget.

My only cause for dissatisfaction - and it was a minor one - was that the academic stream of previous years was not run.

I congratulate the organisers on a well run con. I really enjoyed myself and I'm looking forward to the next already - and in the meantime there's Aussiecon 4 only five months off.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Oh Eagles

Why don't you start playing the way we all know you can? You could have won by five goals yesterday. You know you should have.