Convention

2013 Aurealis Award winners announced

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April 8, 2014

Saturday was a big day. I drove down to Canberra, took part in the Conflux Writer’s Day minicon, where I did a highspeed “Social Media for Authors” presentation, then went for a quick change of clothes in order to attend the Aurealis Awards ceremony. Nicole Murphy, who organised everything that day, did a truly amazing job. The writers day and awards ceremony were both superb. We caroused and drank and laughed, and fantastic Australian fiction scored very well-deserved awards.

Here are all the fantastic nominees and winners. If you want a sampler of excellent recent Aussie spec fic, here’s your huckleberry:

(The winners are separated at the top of each list of nominees.)

Best Science Fiction Novel

  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette)


  • Trucksong, Andrew Macrae (Twelfth Planet)
  • A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, Jane Rawson (Transit Lounge)
  • True Path, Graham Storrs (Momentum)
  • Rupetta, Nike Sulway (Tartarus)

Best Science Fiction Short Story

  • “Air, Water and the Grove”, Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven)


  • “The Last Tiger”, Joanne Anderton (Daily Science Fiction 5/17/13)
  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Seven Days in Paris”, Thoraiya Dyer (Asymmetry)
  • “Version 4.3.0.1”, Lucy Stone (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #57)

Best Fantasy Novel

  • A Crucible of Souls, Mitchell Hogan (self-published)


  • Lexicon, Max Barry (Hachette Australia)
  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Newt’s Emerald, Garth Nix (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
  • Ink Black Magic, Tansy Rayner Roberts (FableCroft)

Best Fantasy Short Story

  • The Last Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne)


  • “The Touch of the Taniwha”, Tracie McBride (Fish)
  • “Cold, Cold War”, Ian McHugh (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/13/13)
  • “Short Circuit”, Kirstie Olley (Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Horror Novel

  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)


  • The Marching Dead, Lee Battersby (Angry Robot)
  • The First Bird, Greig Beck (Momentum)
  • Path of Night, Dirk Flinthart (FableCroft)

Best Horror Short Story

  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)


  • “Fencelines”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “The Sleepover”, Terry Dowling (Exotic Gothic 5)
  • “The Home for Broken Dolls”, Kirstyn McDermott (Caution: Contains Small Parts)
  • “The Human Moth”, Kaaron Warren (The Grimscribe’s Puppets)

Best Young Adult Novel (Tie)

  • These Broken Stars, Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Fairytales for Wilde Girls, Allyse Near (Random House Australia)


  • The Big Dry, Tony Davies (Harper Collins)
  • Hunting, Andrea Host (self-published)
  • The Sky So Heavy, Claire Zorn (University of Queensland Press)

Young Adult Short Story

  • “By Bone-Light”, Juliet Marillier (Prickle Moon)


  • “Mah Song”, Joanne Anderton (The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories)
  • “Morning Star”, D.K. Mok (One Small Step)
  • “The Year of Ancient Ghosts”, Kim Wilkins (The Year of Ancient Ghosts)

Best Collection

  • The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, Joanne Anderton (FableCroft)


  • Asymmetry, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet)
  • Caution: Contains Small Parts, Kirstyn McDermott (Twelfth Planet)
  • The Bride Price, Cat Sparks (Ticonderoga)
  • The Year of Ancient Ghosts, Kim Wilkins (Ticonderoga)

Best Anthology (Tie)

  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2012, Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, eds. (Ticonderoga)
  • One Small Step: An Anthology of Discoveries, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)


  • Dreaming of Djinn, Liz Grzyb, ed. (Ticonderoga)
  • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Of The Year: Volume Seven, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
  • Focus 2012: Highlights of Australian Short Fiction, Tehani Wessely, ed. (FableCroft)

Best Children’s Fiction

  • The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, Kirsty Murray (Allen & Unwin)


  • Kingdom of the Lost, Book 2: Cloud Road, Isobelle Carmody (Penguin Group Australia)
  • Refuge, Jackie French (Harper Collins)
  • Song for a Scarlet Runner, Julie Hunt (Allen & Unwin)
  • Rules of Summer, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
  • Ice Breaker: The Hidden 1, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Best Illustrated Book/Graphic Novel (Tie)

  • Burger Force, Jackie Ryan (self-published)
  • The Deep Vol. 2: The Vanishing Island, Tom Taylor & James Brouwer (Gestalt)


  • Savage Bitch, Steve Carter & Antoinette Rydyr (Scar Studios)
  • Mr Unpronounceable Adventures, Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow)
  • Peaceful Tomorrows Volume Two, Shane W Smith (Zetabella)

The annual Aurealis Awards ceremony took place at the Great Hall, University House, Australian National University, Canberra. All the details of the awards can be found at the Aurealis Awards website.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees!

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Conflux Writer’s Day, featuring all sorts of writers including me

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January 28, 2014

I’m going to be one of many presenters at this awesome day for writers organised by the Conflux convention committee. Looks like it’s going to be well worth your time if you’re a writer and able to get to Canberra on the day. The best part? It’s the same day as the Aurealis Awards presentation gala night, so you can come to the writer’s day for professional development and general inspiration, and then glam up for the awards night.

The Writer’s Day presentations are from 9am-5pm on Saturday April 5 2014. Registrations are open now at http://conflux.org.au/conflux-writers-day-2/registration/. It will take place at University House, Australian National University, Canberra.

The theme of the day is ‘The Writers Journey’, which will be covered by four sub-themes – ‘Writing Skills’, ‘Writing Processes’, ‘Submission and Publication’ and ‘Building a Career’.

Four plenary speakers will be addressing these themes. These speakers are:

Joanne Anderton
Kaaron Warren
Ian McHugh
Keri Arthur

Clicking on those names will take you to the Conflux page describing their talk.

There will also be a bunch of concurrent presentations bringing great thoughts and ideas to writers at all stages of their career. That’s where I come in. I’ll be talking about “Building an online presence: social media for authors”. Here’s the abstract, describing what I’ll be talking about:

A presentation on how authors can best build an online presence to promote themselves and their work, utilising the most powerful social media tools, with a central website hub to streamline their activity. Too often, an emphasis on social media distracts from writing time, or an author is overwhelmed by all the things they think they *should* be doing online, instead of writing. This presentation will break down the basics, identify the most powerful online tools and how to use them effectively with very little effort or time required on the part of the author. We will also debunk the myth of the “author platform”.

We will look at personal websites, integrated social media feeds and what an author really *needs* to do. There will be a decent amount of time at the end of the presentation for Q&A.

You can go here for a full breakdown of the day’s presentations. The concurrent presentations are factored in around the plenary speakers, so you can go to all four keynote speeches and then take your pick of all the other stuff. There are some great people with loads of knowledge presenting at this thing, so if you’re able, I highly recommend you try to get along. If you do, come and say hi. Hope to see you there.

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2013 British Fantasy Award and World Fantasy Award winners announced

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November 4, 2013

The British Fantasy Society announced the winners of the 2013 British Fantasy Awards at a ceremony during the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, England on November 3, 2013. The full list of nominees is shown below, with the winner being the first entry in each category:

Best Novel (the August Derleth Fantasy Award)

  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)

 

  • Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling)
  • Railsea, China Miéville (Macmillan)
  • Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)

  • Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)

 

  • The Kind Folk, Ramsey Campbell (PS)
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Silent Voices, Gary McMahon (Solaris)

Best Novella

  • The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral)

 

  • The Respectable Face of Tyranny, Gary Fry (Spectral)
  • “Curaré”, Michael Moorcock (Zenith Lives!)
  • Eyepennies, Mike O’Driscoll (TTA)

Best Short Story

  • “Shark! Shark!”, Ray Cluley (Black Static #29)

 

  • “Sunshine”, Nina Allan (Black Static #29)
  • “Our Island”, Ralph Robert Moore (Where Are We Going?)
  • “Wish for a Gun”, Sam Sykes (A Town Called Pandemonium)

Best Collection

  • Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)

 

  • The Woman Who Married a Cloud, Jonathan Carroll (Subterannean)
  • Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS)
  • From Hell to Eternity, Thana Niveau (Gray Friar)

Best Anthology:

  • Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver, ed. (Solaris)

 

  • Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Paul Finch, ed. (Gray Friar)
  • The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, Marie O’Regan, ed. (Robinson)
  • A Town Called Pandemonium, Anne C. Perry & Jared Shurin, eds. (Jurassic London)

Best Small Press (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award)

  • ChiZine Publications (Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi)

 

  • Gray Friar Press (Gary Fry)
  • Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)
  • TTA Press (Andy Cox)

Best Non-Fiction

  • Pornokitsch, Anne C. Perry & Jared Shurin, eds.

 

  • Ansible, David Langford
  • The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, eds. (Cambridge University Press)
  • Coffinmaker’s Blues (column), Stephen Volk (Black Static)
  • Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin, ed.
  • Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, Diana Wynne Jones (David Fickling)

Best Magazine/Periodical

  • Interzone, Andy Cox, ed. (TTA)

 

  • Black Static, Andy Cox, ed. (TTA)
  • SFX, David Bradley, ed. (Future)
  • Shadows and Tall Trees, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)

Best Artist

  • Sean Phillips

 

  • Ben Baldwin
  • Vincent Chong
  • Les Edwards
  • David Rix

Best Comic/Graphic Novel

  • Saga, Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)

 

  • The Unwritten, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Gary Erskine, Gabriel Hernández Walta, M.K. Perker, Vince Locke, and Rufus Dayglo (Vertigo)
  • The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (Skybound/Image)
  • Dial H, China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, David Lapham, and Riccardo Burchielli (DC)

Best Screenplay

  • The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon &Drew Goddard

 

  • Sightseers, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram, & Amy Jump
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, & Guillermo del Toro
  • Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)

  • Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine)

 

  • Saladin Ahmed, for Throne of the Crescent Moon (Gollancz)
  • Stephen Bacon, for Peel Back the Sky (Gray Friar)
  • Stephen Blackmoore, for City of the Lost (DAW)
  • Kim Curran, for Shift (Strange Chemistry)
  • Anne Lyle, for The Alchemist of Souls (Angry Robot)
  • Alison Moore, for The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing)
  • Lou Morgan, for Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
  • E.C. Myers, for Fair Coin (Pyr)
  • Molly Tanzer, for A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist)

 

Also at the World Fantasy Convention, the World Fantasy Awards winners for works published in 2012 were announced on the same day.

Again, the full list of nominees is shown below, the World Fantasy Award winners being the first listed in each category:

Life Achievement:

  • Susan Cooper
  • Tanith Lee

Novel:

  • Alif the UnseenG. Willow Wilson (Grove; Corvus)

 

  • The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
  • The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
  • Crandolin, Anna Tambour (Chômu)

Novella:

  • “Let Maps to Others”, K.J. Parker (Subterranean Summer ’12)

 

  • “Hand of Glory”, Laird Barron (The Book of Cthulhu II)
  •  The Emperor’s Soul, Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon)
  • “The Skull”, Lucius Shepard (The Dragon Griaule)
  • “Sky”, Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls)

Short Story:

  • “The Telling”, Gregory Norman Bossert (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 11/29/12)

 

  • “A Natural History of Autumn”, Jeffrey Ford (F&SF 7-8/12)
  • “The Castle That Jack Built”, Emily Gilman (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/26/12)
  • “Breaking the Frame”, Kat Howard (Lightspeed 8/12)
  • “Swift, Brutal Retaliation”, Meghan McCarron (Tor.com 1/4/12)

Anthology:

  • Postscripts #28/#29: Exotic Gothic 4, Danel Olson, ed. (PS Publishing)

 

  • Epic: Legends of Fantasy, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Tachyon)
  • Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic, Eduardo Jiménez Mayo & Chris N. Brown, eds. (Small Beer)
  • Magic: An Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver, ed. (Solaris)
  • Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Random House)

Collection:

  • Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)

 

  • At the Mouth of the River of Bees, Kij Johnson (Small Beer)
  • The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth and Volume Two: Outer Space, Inner Lands, Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
  • Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • Jagannath, Karin Tidbeck (Cheeky Frawg)

Artist:

  • Vincent Chong

 

  • Didier Graffet & Dave Senior
  • Kathleen Jennings
  • J.K. Potter
  • Chris Robert

Special Award Professional:

  • Lucia Graves for the translation of The Prisoner of Heaven (Weidenfeld & Nicholson; Harper) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

 

  • Peter Crowther & Nicky Crowther for PS Publishing
  • Adam Mills, Ann VanderMeer, & Jeff VanderMeer for Weird Fiction Review
  • Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi for ChiZine Publications
  • William K. Schafer for Subterranean Press

Special Award Non-Professional:

  • S.T. Joshi for Unutterable Horror: A History of Supernatural Fiction, Volumes 1 & 2 (PS Publishing)

 

  • Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • L. Timmel Duchamp for Aqueduct Press
  • Charles A. Tan for Bibliophile Stalker blog
  • Jerad Walters for Centipede Press
  • Joseph Wrzos for Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration (Centipede Press)

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees in both Awards.

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Great Inspiration – guest post from Martin Livings

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September 25, 2013

Last week I posted about the time, back in 1989, when I met Neil Gaiman and got a signed copy of Sandman #1, with no idea at the time of the significance of the event. You can see that post here. At the end of the post I said I would put the call out to my writerly friends and see if any of them had similar inspirations in their lives they might like to share. The wonderful Thoraiya Dyer got back to me with this excellent post, and today I have a post from Martin Livings:

The Year 1990

1990 was the year that made me. Or ruined me, depending on your point of view. I’d already been writing and submitting stories to the only local SF magazine I knew of, a trashy little beast called “Far Out”. They were amazing tales I sent them, like the one about the advanced civilisation being wiped out by a natural disaster, only to be revealed that it was actually an ants’ nest being stepped on by a small child. Or the one about the two armies fighting to the death that turned out to be a game of chess. Wow, incredible stuff. I wonder why they never accepted them?

Then in 1990 I attended Curtin University for less than a semester, my second unsuccessful foray into academic life. But during that semester, I joined the Curtin Imagination Association (CIA), as a high school friend of mine was already a member, and through them found out about the existence of Swancon, the annual Perth science fiction convention. So I thought, what the hell, sounds like it could be fun, and went along.

And that, as they say, was that.

The guest of honour was the brilliant Terry Dowling. I’d never heard of Terry before that, but hearing him talk, hearing him read, I was gone. Here was an Australian spec fic writer, doing things I’d never seen done in spec fic before. Rynosseros blew my tiny mind; I still have the copy I bought at the con, signed by Terry. I also met Nick Stathopolous for the first time there, artist extraordinaire. And it wasn’t just meeting them, either, but all of the people there, people like me, yet all different too. I wasn’t alone any more. It was energising and liberating to discover this.

These were huge inspirations, but the biggest inspiration that came out of Swancon 1990 was meeting the incredible team that were putting together what was at the time (and in my humble opinion still is) the finest Australian spec fic journal ever, Eidolon. Meeting the editors, Jeremy G. Byrne, Richard Scriven and Jonathan Strahan, plus of course the others involved in getting the magazine up and running, Keira McKenzie, Robin Pen and Chris Stronach, was like a lightbulb going off in my brain. Or maybe a nuclear explosion. These guys were locals, they were here in Perth, and they were doing incredible things with the genre.

I wanted in. I wanted in bad.

bjaheiff Great Inspiration   guest post from Martin Livings

(Martin in home-made Freddy Krueger makeup, Swancon 1990)

It took me two years to get a story accepted by them. That sounds like a long time, but considering the legendary slowness of the Eidolon reading process, it was actually pretty quick. At around the same time, I also had a story accepted by Aurealis, the other local powerhouse on the scene, which I’m so glad is still alive and well today. I ended up working for Eidolon in the end, first writing book reviews, then editing the book review column, and finally as an associate editor. I made so many great friends through this; Sean Williams and Kirstyn McDermott were two of my favourite go-to book reviewers, and of course the amazing (and Oscar-winning!) Shaun Tan was the art editor, to name only three of many. But more than that, I learned. I learned about the craft and the art. I learned what was good, what was bad, and, worse, what was ordinary and dull. I learned more than I ever could have in any university.

1990, Swancon and Eidolon teamed up and created the beginning of my writing career. And even though Eidolon may no longer be with us, it sits on my bookshelf and continues to inspire me, to make me want to do better, write better, be better. Hopefully it always will.

Perth-based writer Martin Livings has had nearly eighty short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Carnies, was published by Hachette Livre in 2006, and his first short story collection, Living With the Dead, was published in 2012 by Dark Prints Press. http://www.martinlivings.com

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Conflux 9, the aftermath

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May 2, 2013

I said I would get around to a quick wrap up post for Conflux 9, the 52nd NatCon, that happened last week. It’s fast becoming history and life is barrelling on (seriously, May, calm the fuck down) and so I thought I’d better get around to it now or I never would. First and foremost, congratulations to co-chairs Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy and the whole Conflux team. They did an amazing job and it really was a great con. Conflux is always my favourite of the year – open, friendly, inspiring – and this year it had all that in spades.

Much time was spent in the bar with friends old and new, drinking too much and talking shit. Which is, after all, one of the main purposes of a con. I have a few highlights persisting through the alcoholic haze. If this con had a theme beyond the official one, it was book launches. So many amazing books were thrust out into the world at Conflux 9.

Cat Sparks’ new collection, The Bride Price, was launched and sold out. Highlights there included Cat drinking champagne from a mug (classy lady, is Cat Sparks) and telling people during her little speech to “Now go and buy my fucking book!” This was particularly entertaining as she was standing three feet from Thoraiya Dyer’s four year old daughter at the time. I don’t know why, I just find that stuff hilarious. Especially when Thoraiya stepped up to buy a book and said to Cat, “Thanks for swearing in front of my kid.” Ah, I laughed.

Rob Hood also launched his amazing novel, Fragments of a Broken Land, which also sold out. And seriously, go and buy that book, folks, because it’s brilliant. Something actually different and dark and bloody good. And Jo Anderton sold out at the launch of her new collection, The Bone Chime Song & Other Stories, which is also dark and different and also fucking brilliant. Such talented writers making work in Australia.

I enjoyed the panels I was on too. Talking horror with Kaaron Warren, Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung and Terry Dowling was probably my favourite panel of the con. I also really enjoyed talking about authors and social media with Alex Adsett, Abigail Nathan, Zena Shapter and Russell B Farr. The best bit about that panel was that we got the panel trending on Twitter while it happened. Fuck yeah, social media masters at work!

Another highlight, as it always is at the NatCon, was the Ditmar Award ceremony. Loads of lovely people being justly rewarded for their fantastic work. Deb Biancotti did a great job of hosting and the thing even ran to time. There was a live Twitter screen by the stage, too. Look at Conflux all up in the future. And a particular highlight there was Russell B Farr getting the A Bertram Chandler Award for his services to SF. Russ has been an amazing advocate of Australian specfic since around 1996 and his press, Ticonderoga Publications, puts out seriously brilliant books. He really deserved that award and I’m glad he got it. I’m also glad because it made him generous with the whisky in the bar afterwards. Russell, and his partner in crime, life and publishing, Liz Grzyb, have been kind enough to publish several of my stories over the years and I hope they continue to do so. I’m very proud to be a small part of the Ticonderoga legacy.

I also sold all bar one copy of Dark Rite that I took to the con with me, so that’s another highlight. I must thank profusely the CSFG for letting me have my books for sale on their table in the dealer room.

I’m sure there was a lot more I should be talking about, and I apologise for anything I’ve missed that really needs a mention, but it’s all blended into that delicious post-con haze of friendship and inspiration. So I’m off to write now, and see if I can’t try to be even a fraction as talented as some of my wonderful friends. If you’d like a pictorial idea of what happened, check out Cat Sparks’ Flickr stream here, with loads of pics from throughout the con.

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Home to nice reviews

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April 29, 2013

I’m back from Conflux 9 and a damn fine time was had by all. Great to catch up with old friends, make some new friends and drink too much. I’ll write up a proper report soon, probably tomorrow. I’m too brain dead today and have a bunch of classes to teach, so might go for a little lie down for while beforehand. But I came back to some very nice reviews of Dark Rite, which is always wonderful.

Firstly, the very cool Damien Smith wrote us this review for Thirteen O’Clock, where he says: “a rollercoaster ride that kept me turning the pages until I was almost late for work” among other nice things.

And US author Terry Ervin II had this to say:

“Unraveling the mystery of his dad’s death turns into a nightmare as Grant finds himself mired in a dark cult’s secret that long ago engulfed a small town, and threatens Cassie, a girl he’s fallen for. Grant knows he’s doomed, but that doesn’t mean the demon worshipers have to win.

As the plot began to unfold, I found myself unwilling to put the book aside until I reached the end.”

–Terry W. Ervin II, author of Blood Sword

Bloody lovely. But for now, a snoozzzzzzzz…

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Conflux 9, 52nd NatCon – my schedule

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April 16, 2013

It’s convention time again. My favourite con every year is Conflux in Canberra. I can’t really explain why other than that it’s always well-organised, always good fun and always has a very inclusive and open vibe about it. It’s also a great chance to catch up with all my writerly friends, who I usually only get to interact with online from the shadowy corners of my writing cave. It’s Conflux 9 this year, and it’s also the NatCon, or National Convention. Each year in Australia, one of the state conventions takes on the role of being Natcon – that makes it the biggest con of the year and means it has extra stuff happening, not least of which is the Ditmar Award ceremony. The Ditmars are like the Australian Hugos, so it’s all good fun.

Conflux 9 runs from Thursday 25th April through to Sunday 28th April, at Rydges Capital Hill in Barton, Canberra. All the details can be found at that link. There’s loads going on, so if you have any chance to get along to Canberra for all or some of the con, I would highly recommend it. There are day passes as well as full con memberships.

I’m going to be involved in a few things:

Thursday 9 – 9.55pm – The Horror Spectrum panel – What forms does horror take? Domestic, psychological or slash? Is there more to it and why do fans like it and why do some writers write it?

There’s always one of these panels at cons and I often seem to sit on them. It’s one of those impossible questions to really answer and almost always devolves into an hour of trying to pin down just what horror is, but it’s usually enjoyable nonetheless. If nothing else, it usually helps to convince some people that there’s a lot more to horror than the torture porn so prevalent in movies right now.

Thursday 10 – 10.55pm – Taboo subjects for authors panel – Fiction these days seems to have no boundaries as to what is good taste, yet there are boundaries, depending on the genre, or are there?

This is another one I always like to get involved with, mainly because I sit firmly in the “fuck your taboos!” camp. But there are some places we don’t go, there are some places we should tread very carefully and there are some places we can stomp all over. So I’ll enjoy discussing that stuff because I’m bound to piss some people off.

Friday 11.30am – 12.25pm – Crowd funding – what is it? How does it work? panel – Crowd funding (using websites like Kickstarter and Indie Gogo to convince complete strangers to fund your creative work) have become the in thing. How do they work? How do they work best? Is this the answer for whatever dilemma you’re facing?

Or should you stop begging and work fucking hard like the rest of us? I’m going to enjoy this one. (And I’m actually a fan of crowd-funding used well.)

Sunday 11am – Reading
I have a reading session here that I think is probably a half an hour long. I’m not sure yet what I’ll be reading – I’m thinking I might read one of my newer short stories that’s about to be published… I’ll have to think on that, but it’ll be something new. And probably a short story rather than a novel excerpt, as that way people get something complete rather than just a teaser.

Sunday 3.30 – 4.30pm – Elegant promotion or just plain annoying panel – Promoting yourself with social media. The tips and traps of promoting books, films, events or your sense of humour. Take a journey through good and bad examples. This panel discusses various pros and cons of reaching audiences in this digital age.

Again, this should be a lot of fun, especially as I’m such an internet whore and happy to bandy myself all over the place. But even then, I do have a pretty strict set of personal guidelines I use to manage my online activity.

So those are my official engagements for the con. The rest of the time I’ll probably… who am I kidding? I’ll definitely be in the bar. Please come and say hello, hang out, drink and partake of the “convention airing of grievances” (about anything). It’s half of what it’s all about. Hopefully see you there!

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GenreCon a great success

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November 6, 2012

I’m very glad I got to go to GenreCon after all last weekend. Thanks to the AHWA for that. It really was a tremendous event, bringing writers of all genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance, crime and more) all together. The streams of panels were excellent, the venue was great and the organisation was simply top notch. Well done to convenor Peter Ball, and to Meg Vann and the team, for such a well organised and well executed con.

The international guests were also brilliant. Joe Abercrombie is an interesting and funny guy, who had time for everyone and always entertained on his panels. Ginger Clark, agent extraordinaire with Curtis Brown, gave a very inspiring and fascinating talk on what an agent does these days, which is a lot more than they used to. If all agents are like Ginger, we writers will be well looked after into the future. And Sarah Wendell, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, gave a tremendous presentation on social media and “author platform”. This is a subject very familiar to me and I’ve given similar presentations myself. Sarah was clear, open and funny and she gave me a lot to think about. Most of her presentation went over things I already know, but even then she gave me new ways to look at them. And a handful of things new to me made the event really worthwhile.

Of course, the local Australian author guests were all very friendly and open, as was everyone at the con. I attended several really good panels.

Martin Livings launched his collection, Living with the Dead, as part of an Australian Horror Writers Association presentation, which I was very proud to be a part of. Seriously, Martin is a bloody great writer and you really should get hold of that collection.

The great debate, Plotters vs Pantsers, at the end of the con was hilarious, and Meg Vann announced that GenreCon 2 was confirmed for Brisbane next year. Bring it on!

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GenreCon this weekend, Nov 2 – 4

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November 1, 2012

GC web banner e1334023900490 300x117 GenreCon this weekend, Nov 2   4I wasn’t originally going to be able to attend GenreCon this weekend, but now I can, so firstly I want to thank the Australian Horror Writers’ Association for making that happen. I’ll be there as an official representative of the AHWA for the Sunday afternoon shenanigans. I won’t be able to make the Friday night part of the con, but I’ll be there all day Saturday and Sunday. What is GenreCon? Here, from the website:

GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore.

Sounds pretty sweet, huh? There’s all kinds of stuff going on, which you can find from the Program page on the website. My official duties will be on Sunday from 3 – 4 pm when the AHWA will host afternoon tea and, as part of the festivities, we’ll be launching Martin Livings’ new collection, Living With The Dead. So don’t miss out!

Come and find me and say hello. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new friends this weekend. All the details here.

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Festival of Learning and Leornian

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October 17, 2012

Many of you may have heard me mention here and there that I’ve had the pleasure of working on a videogame recently. It’s not some huge release by a big international studio, but it’s been great fun all the same. It’s called Leornian, and is a game about Game Based Learning, or GBL. Leornian is being developed for the education sector in NSW, and I’ve been on board in charge of writing the narrative.

While the game itself is designed to showcase all different types of gameplay, which teachers can then play in order to understand gaming and use it in their classrooms, it needs to be more than just a collection of examples. To that end, the PLANE team were tasked with creating an open sim environment within which to situate all these gaming examples. To keep people interested, the whole thing needed emotional engagement. For that, we need story. That’s where I came in, developing a story that gave players a reason to continue on to the next task. We set the game over three levels – medieval, steampunk and sci-fi. The story is woven through all the levels, with an overreaching plot and all kinds of sub-plots and minigames throughout. It’s been enormous fun and a good challenge to get this thing happening, so I’m very pleased I got to be a part of it. I’ll embed a video below that shows the opening sequence to the game.

This weekend, Friday and Saturday, I’ll be at the PLANE Festival Of Learning in Sydney. PLANE stands for “Pathways for Learning Anywhere, anytime – Network of Educators”. To take the description from the website:

PLANE is a Professional Learning community built by educators for educators. It is an environment in which educators can enrich their own and others professional practice in an ever evolving technology-rich world. Since its inception, PLANE has been shaped by the ideas and needs of educators who are looking to impact change in student learning. This continues to be a guiding principle of PLANE.

The Festival of Learning will mark the official launch of the PLANE online learning environment, including the first level of Leornian. I’ll be presenting there about storytelling and speakers include Adam Elliot, Kitty Flanagan, Dr Jason Fox and others. If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here.

Here’s the opening sequence for Leornian:

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Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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