Tag Archives: conventions

Continuum 11: Launching Thrive and Building Connections

Mary ThriveI’ve just spent the weekend at Melbourne’s annual Continuum Convention, and had (as usual) an absolute blast. I did a few panels – including one on filking (fannish folk music, basically) which resulted in a new Facebook Melbourne Filking community being set up.

I spent the rest of the time running a table in the dealer’s room (selling books and Kitty and Cadaver jewellery) – but what I mostly did was talk with people.

I reconnected (however briefly – we’ve all got so much on at a convention) with old friends and made some new ones. I commiserated on trials and difficulties in the last year. I celebrated the year’s successes with people. I had great conversations, and learned some things, and if I was lucky I shared some good things that others hadn’t known before.

I was very, very honoured and excited to launch Mary Borsellino’s new book, Thrive, which I was thrilled to edit on behalf of the publisher, Clan Destine Press. Most of my readers probably know how very much I love Mary’s books. Thrive is a superb edition to her body of work: a YA novel set in a dystopian future that’s frighteningly very like our rather dystopian present.

THRIVE coverThe blurb:

In a time and place where the gulf between the haves and the have-nots has grown painfully wide, Olivia lives a life cushioned with abundance. Until the day she is kidnapped and held for ransom by Hannah, a girl from a very different kind of life. Olivia discovers a taste for things not commonly condoned in her world: black-market books, daring friends, wild creativity.

From the depths of factory oppression to the dizzying heights of vigilante rooftops, Olivia travels the margins of society, where the misfits gather and build homes for themselves out of whatever they can get their hands on – and fight to make a life worth living.

This story of Olivia discovering the greater world and its unfairness and suffering is as compellling as Mary’s work usually is. It is filled with horror, violence, cruelty and loss but from that desolate ground, Thrive gives us a rich soil from which grows beauty, love, hope and ways to use ideas to fight for better times without destruction.

Thrive is also a very smart book, literate and funny while cracking along with wonderful characters and huge energy. Delightfully, a re-read is guaranteed to add extra depth to your appreciation, as you realise how cleverly plotted it is, and how so many ideas are intricately woven into the cloth of the whole.

In short, if you want to be challenged and engaged and delighted and wowed, go now to get Thrive from Clan Destine Press!

Thrive launchSo. Yes. I launched a book I love with a passion, I bought a lot of other books that set my reader senses tingling, I had long, lovely talks and much laughter with wonderful people and I spent time connecting once more with the broad family of readers, writers, creators and thinkers in the Australian genre community.

Was it awesome? You bet. Will I be back at Continuum next year? HELLA YEAH!

I’m physically exhausted now, but mentally abuzz with ideas and plans ricocheting around my head, turning my brain into an overcaffeinated hive of thought-bees. Which is both brilliant and a little bit frightening.

Just as it should be.

Genrecon 2013: A Lifting Experience

GC logo 2013 smlI have just returned from another fabulous GenreCon, hosted by the Queensland Writers Centre in sweaty Brisbane. I had a fabulous time! It was enormous fun, but also encouraging, supportive, amazing and educational.

I met so many incredibly talented people doing so many brilliant and amazing things, and who were happy to hear me talk about my Kitty and Cadaver project too. I’m fired up about the possibilities inherent in unusual storytelling projects being undertaken by people like Sue Wright of Tiny Owl and Jodi Cleghorn’s Piper’s Reach epistolary story, which started as an online project and is now being prepared for submission to publishers.

I have been energised and engaged by the speakers on the podiums and the ones I met during meal breaks and at the banquet. I am excited for other people’s books and as much so for my own. Sharing a room with Lindy Cameron, my publisher, has resulted in us becoming better friends as well. I made new friends, deepened acquaintanceships, learned about writing about publishing, had it at least confirmed that some of my approaches are the right ones and generally steeped myself in the rich soil of fellowship with others in my profession.

Genrecon  (2)And I have so many new ideas! I’ll be meeting soon with someone to discuss a way to invite musicians to participate a little more in the world of Kitty and Cadaver. I have copious notes about creating a book trailer for future projects and some ideas of where I want to take that. I’ve joined the Romance Writers of Australia to learn how to become a better writer of romance and erotica, since I’m writing that these days (and enjoying it) and promptly came up with ideas for several new short and long stories. My main trouble now is finding the time to write. Or alternatively to sleep!

For those who follow my Twitter account (@daggyvamp), you’ll recognise the lame pun in the blog heading. For those who missed it, on the night of the Cutlasses and Kimonos banquet, a group of us got trapped in a lift for about twenty minutes.  One of our number, we discovered, was keenly claustrophobic, so there was a focus on staying calm and trying to help her. Apparently, we did this mostly by digging deep for our inner Laconic Aussie and tracking the whole experience on social media. We were all writers, so one or two folks tried to read books. The rest of us Tweeted and Facebooked, and fielded much so-called hilarity from friends who were not likewise trapped in a small, hot, humid lift.

GenreconAt one stage, I took a photo of everyone (and most of us were dressed as pirates) giving the wags the finger and posted it on Twitter. The primary target, a horror writer and heavy metal fan from NSW (you know who you are), pretty much just roared with laughter and declared us ‘hardcore’.

We emerged mostly unscathed, though crumpled. And let’s face it – we’re writers. You can bet at least half of us have already worked out how to use the incident in a novel.

So thank you to Peter Ball and Meg Vann and their team of ninjas for a Genrecon that provided communion with like-minded folks, an excellent program, opportunities to find new projects and partners, and even provide a platform for adventures in elevators!

The next Genrecon won’t be held until 2015, which makes many of us a little sad. On the other hand – there’s no reason we can’t have impromptu get-togethers in the between times. So, if any of you Genrecon folks are in Melbourne and would like to catch up for coffee, chat and mutual energy boosting, drop me a line! We’ll find a time and place to make like cartoon superheroes and combine our energies to encourage awesomeness in each other.

P.S. – Grammarly: 

I’ve been experimenting with an online tool called Grammarly (they promised me shinies if I did). It’s pretty neat. It helped me pick up some typos and check that when I vary considerably from correct grammar, the creative licence I employed really expresses what I wanted to say.  I could also run the text through a ‘Plagiarism’ algorithm, but mostly it just found I had quoted standard text from my own blog. It was more useful than I expected it to be, and I’ll use it again in future.  It could be handy for running manuscripts through before submissions.

And so, a little endorsement: “I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because with its Plagiarism algorithm I’ll at least know when I’m repeating myself.”

Walking Shadows nominated for a 2012 Chronos Award!

This week I learned that Walking Shadows was nominated for a Chronos Award in the Best Long Fiction category. I’m obviously chuffed to bits, especially as the nominations are sent in by members of Melbourne’s Continuum convention.  Thank you Continuum People!

The Chronos Awards, according to the award site, “recognise excellence in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror by Victorians”. It’s particularly nice to be included in the short list for an award for Victorian creators at a Melbourne convention – and with a book that is set so firmly in my chosen home town.

I’m also very proud to be sharing nomination in that category with great writers like Jason Nahrung, Paul Collins and Felicity Dowker and fabulous editors Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene for their Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror collection. Whatever the results of the award, it’s fabulous to be in such excellent company, in this and the other categories as well.

The Chronos Awards are very handsome too: sort of steampunky. (Here is a photo of Kirstyn McDermott’s 2011 award for Madigan Mine, which is another terrific book.)

Whether or not you’re going to Continuum or intend to vote in the Chronos Awards, have a look at the nominations and sample some of the great work being done by Victorian-based writers, artists, editors and bloggers, including:

If you’re a member of the convention, you can vote in the Chronos Awards before 20 May 2013. If you’re not a member of the convention, you can join up! I’ll be on several panels, including a short version of my Writing Sex and Intimacy workshop (strictly for the over 18s). And if you can’t get to the con but would like to vote, you can get a voting membership for $5.

Genrecon: Help! My brain is full!

Well, it’s Saturday afternoon at Genrecon, and my brain is way too full. I need to jump up and down a bit, like packing flour into a container, to let the contents settle and make room for more.  Instead, I’m taking some time out to sit quietly, drink a hot beverage and update my blog. Outside I can see cloudy skies and a gusty wind having its salacious way with the fronds of a palm tree. Ah, Parramatta, you sexy beast, you.

Genrecon is a conference for writers of genre fiction, and Rydges Hotel in Parramatta is full of writers of romance, crime, fantasy, SF and horror (and a lot of other genres besides). It’s also full of editors, publishers (both large and small press) and agents.

So far I’ve attended panels on Writing Effective Fight Scenes conducted by writer and martial artist Simon Higgins, how to make a living as a writer in an era of the dwindling advance, and ways of approaching Villains, Monsters and Cads in your writing. Tomorrow I’m looking forward to panels on The Future of Agenting and The Three Stages of The Writers’s Career.I’ll also be participating in a debate about how approaching plot outlines – I’ll be speaking for the Plotters against the Pantsers (‘flying by the seat of your pants’).

Things I’ve learned so far?

  • Historically, the deadliest ninjas were girls.
  • Adrenalin gives short bursts of power, but there’s a cost for it.
  • Even big, tough men can cry if they are unexpectedly punched in the face.
  • Anyone who is in writing to get rich is both hilarious and deluded. (Or JK Rowling.)
  • Almost all writers get income from something other than their writing. If they’re lucky, they get it through public speaking and workshops.
  • When creating villains, it’s a great idea to take something traditional and then approach it from a different perspective.
  • While the villain is the hero of his/her own story, the gothic anti-hero knows that they are the villain of their own story, and must overcome his/her own flaws.
  • (I think BBC Sherlock is may be a gothic antihero in this sense.)
  • Traditionally, female villains are either thwarted in love or trying to make their son Emporer. Surely there are other motivations out there.
  • Kim Wilkins feels there are not enough Vikings in literature. I find myself suddenly agreeing with her.

Other things I’ve gained, outside the panels, is that it’s wonderful to spend time swapping war stories and successes with fellow writers; that it’s encouraging and even necessary for your own motivation to hear people say they like what you do and to tell others how much you like their work too.

Writers generally work in such isolation that it’s a huge relief to talk to others about their writing habits, approaches that work (or not) for them, to see that others struggle, and others succeed, so you know you’re not alone and that success is possible.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from an industry conference for writers, but so far I’m finding it intensely stimulating, challenging, inspirational and reassuring. The Queensland Writers Centre has done a great job of organising guests, panels, workshops and an opportunity for writers to talk to agents. Bless them all!

(As an aside, I had the best street conversation ever on my walk to the venue today: some kids asked me if I’d seen a goat. Yes. A goat. Yes, I did ask twice, to check they meant ‘goat’ and not ‘coat’. Having ascertained that indeed, a goat was what they meant, I confessed that I had not seen one, but if I should, where should I direct the beast? “To the school” they said, pointing. As both a writer and as a human being, I was very disappointed not to see the goat between the school and the conference venue. I sincerely hope the horror, crime or thriller writers in attendance were not responsible for its disappearance. If the romance writers were involved, I definitely don’t want to know.)