Conflux schedule – come and say hi

Conflux 7 will be held in Canberra, the nation’s capital, this long weekend, October 1st to 3rd. I’ll be there, getting involved with a few things and catching up with friends. Hopefully I’ll make some new friends too. Here’s a schedule of what I’ll be doing.

Friday, the day before the convention proper, is open for a series of workshops and launches. I’ll be running a workshop on blogging from 10am till noon, then I’ll be reading from my story at the Winds Of Change launch at 7pm.

Friday, 30th September

10AM – Noon

All About Blogging
A Workshop with Alan Baxter – Yamba Room

Wikipedia describes “blogs” as a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reversechronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Perhaps you would like to learn more about blogs generally, start blogging yourself, or learn how to make your own blog more interesting?

This workshop is free for Conflux members (it is not open to the general public). Participant numbers are limited for this program item, so register soon if you would like to attend.

7pm – 8pm

Launch – Winds Of Change anthology from CSFG Publishing.

This anthology includes my story, Dream Shadow, and I’ll be reading an excerpt at the launch, along with several other contributing authors. There will also be nibbles.

Saturday, 1st October

9am – 10am

Evil Overlord Panel

I’ll be moderating this one, with panel members Phil Berrie, Laura E Goodin and Kethleen Jennings. We’ll be discussing the ideal Evil Overlord getaway vehicle and there’ll be a special prize for the audience member who comes up with the best suugestion.

Sunday, 2nd October

4.30pm – 5.30pm

Publishing – What path should you take?

This is a panel with Natalie Costa Bir, Nicole Murphy and Cat Sparks. We’ll be talking about all the different paths to publishing and the pros and cons of each.

6.30pm – 7.30pm

Heavy Metal panel

This should be a fun one. Myself, Jo Anderton and Tracey O’Hara will be talking about heavy metal music, its influence on spec fic and spec fic’s influence on it. We’ll also talk about how heavy metal has informed or inspired our own writing. Audience participation is welcomed!

Monday, 3rd October

10am – 11am

Kaffeeklatsch – Yamba Room

This is simply me in one place with a coffee, and anyone is welcome to come and join me. We can chat about anything you like, you can get books signed and so on. Come and have a chat.


And that’s it for my official engagements – a pretty quiet con for me this time. I’ll be around the con all weekend and will probably get involved with other things here and there. Otherwise I’ll be in panels listening in or, more likely, propping up the hotel bar.

Conflux is always a great vibe with excellent people, so come and get involved. You can get day tickets or all weekend membership and it’s well worth it. See you there!


Vale Sara Douglass, and powerful words on dying

I heard the news this morning that Australian fantasy writer Sara Douglass died around 5am. It’s absolutely gutting news. I didn’t know Sara personally, but her work has been a part of my life for a long time, and not just her fiction.

Her fiction is fantastic in every sense of the word, and well regarded. She won many awards and accolades for her work, and rightly so. She was probably the first truly successful female Australian fantasy author (please correct me if I’m wrong on that) and I know she was incredibly influential to many other authors, men and women alike.

But it was her fight against cancer that really stood out for me. If you’re a fantasy fan, you absolutely should read her novels. If you’re a human being, you absolutely should read her words on terminal illness. Sara was an amazing role model for dealing with illness and her words on dying really rang true for me. I’ve experienced a lot of death in my time. I’ve seen terminal illness run its course in many forms and seen people die as teenagers and adults from a variety of terrible and debilitating conditions. When I read Sara’s blog post about dying, it hit me hard – it was just so fucking right. She opened with:

Many years ago I did an hour long interview on Adelaide radio (with Jeremy Cordeaux, I think, but my memory may be wrong). The interview was supposed to promote one of my recent publications, but for some reason we quickly strayed onto the subject of death and dying, and there we stayed for the entire hour. I proposed that as a society we have lost all ability to die well. Unlike pre-industrial western society, modern western society is ill at ease with death, we are not taught how to die, and very few people are comfortable around death or the dying. There is a great silence about the subject, and a great silence imposed on the dying. During the programme a Catholic priest called in to agree with the premise (the first and last time a Catholic priest and I have ever agreed on anything) that modern society cannot deal with death. We just have no idea. We are terrified of it. We ignore it and we ignore the dying.

She goes on to talk about how we praise people these days for dying without complaint, when really there should be shrieking and hair pulling.

When it comes to death and dying, we impose a dreadful silence on the dying lest they discomfort the living too greatly.

This is so true and really, fuck that. So often, people suffering greatly are doing their best not to discomfort those people who come to visit. When the terminally ill would rather be howling their grief at the stars or simply be left the fuck alone, they’re instead being brave for other people. Those people who visit now and then without really doing anything to help the dying.

I agree with Sara completely that the dying absolutely should not keep silent for the benefit of the un-dying.

I am tired of being made to feel guilty when I want to express my fear and anguish and grief.

I am tired of keeping silent.

And I’m so glad she didn’t. Everyone should read her words.

The original blog post is here.

The follow up blog post is here.

Read it. Digest it. She’s right.

And you know the best thing? Sara’s body of work will live on even though cancer took her from us way too soon. She was only 54, but her fantastic writing is eternal.

Vale, Sara Douglass. You were a role model and an inspiration, and may your words never fade.


How To Write Fight Scenes Masterclass online

Write The Fight RightRegular readers here will be well aware by now that I have an ebook out called Write The Fight Right, based on my workshops of the same name. It comes from my “day job” as a martial arts instructor, combined with my writing. I love to read a good fight scene, but few people are able to write them convincingly. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – after all, most writers have never had a fight and that’s a good thing. Right? But I’m a career martial artist. I’ve had loads of fights. So I used my powers for good and found a way to share my knowledge and hopefully help writers improve their written fight scenes.

But, of course, useful though the book is, it’s not nearly as informative as my actual workshops. Not everyone can get to the workshops when they run. Incidentally, the next one will be in Melbourne next year at Continuum, which will be NatCon for 2012. But fear not, non-Melburnians! In association with the incomparable Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn, I’m bringing my Write The Fight Right workshop online. Modern technology – it’s amazing.

How To Write Fight Scenes Masterclass

The masterclass will be 60 minutes of teaching followed by 30 mins Q&A. You will also receive the recording and slides from the class as well as an action work-list. All for only US$20.

The live session will be held on Thursday Oct 20, 2011 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM EDT (9pm GMT) but there will be a recording available with the slides if you can’t make the live session. That’s a bit early for the Aussies, because it’ll be 7am Friday morning our time, but I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile. This is the best time placement to allow people all over the world to be involved.

Have your questions answered live

On the webinar sign up page, after payment, you are able to leave your own question for me so the session is most effective for you. We will take extra questions in the Q&A part of the session on the day.

You can also submit 1 page fight scene for me to use in my critique, to help put the class lessons into direct context. No names will be mentioned, so all writing will be anonymous and will be shared with others. Please note: This webinar will be turned into a multimedia product so by submitting your writingt you are giving permission for that piece of writing to be used as a teaching aid.

In this webinar, you will learn:

* How to shorten your sentences and use effective word choice to make a fight scene more realistic
* How to write a fight scene from different gender perspectives
* Writing reactions instead of action and how that affects the way the reader experiences the fight
* How to write about the different senses during a fight scene
* Why footwork and movement are so important in a fight
* Why fighting is responding to chaos and how you incorporate that into your book
* What types of blows would different characters use in what situations?
* How does someone with training fight and how can you make those scenes realistic?
* How does someone with no experience fight?
* How you can use your setting, or construct your setting to make a more effective fight scene
* How weapons change a fight
* When you fight, you get hit. How getting hit feels for your characters and how their need for recovery might affect your plot.

All for just $20! And if you can’t make the live session, you can purchase the recording of the seminar, along with all the notes, as a multimedia package afterwards.

I’ve set up a page specifically for the class here.

Or you can sign up now, by paying your US$20 here:

Add to Cart

Please do tell anyone you think might be interested. And if you have any questions use the comments below.


Thrillercast Episode 27 – Branching out as a writer with David L Golemon

ThrillercastThe latest episode of Thrillercast is online now. It’s a bit of a mega-sized podcast compared to normal, but I think you’ll enjoy it. David and I talk about branching out as a writer and mixing up our genres, and we go on to discuss the subject with NY Times bestselling author, David L Golemon.

David Golemon is best known for his thrillers, but he’s recently signed with a US small press for a new horror novel, what he calls a ghost story. And it certainly sounds interesting. Have a listen and see what you think.

Thrillercast Episode 27 – Branching out as a writer with David L Golemon.


George Lucas Strikes Back

This is just brilliant. It’s a fantastic bit of faux trailer-making in its own right, but it’s also a brilliant concept. I so wish this was actually the case. It really is the only thing that would make any sense in an ideal world. Sadly, what really happened is that George Lucas disappeared up his own arsehole and has spent the last decade systematically raping the childhood memories of us all. But let’s not dwell on such things and just enjoy this awesome piece of work:

Here’s the thing on YouTube.