Conflux 12 – what a great con!

conflux12headerrgbI’m home from Conflux 12, my first as an official Guest of Honour, and what a wonderful con it was. I haven’t missed a Conflux in years, because it’s always great and has long been my favourite Aussie convention. So of course, to be the GoH there was a double treat. So much happened, I won’t be able to record it all, but here’s a bit of a run down on my experience of events.

img_4538The MC was the awesome Sean Williams, and the international guest was David Farland (he of the Runelords series and so much more, who you may also know as David Wolverton, the name he uses for his science fiction novels). The picture to the left there shows (left to right) Sean Williams, David Farland and myself, taken at the con banquet on the Saturday night. Both Sean and David were brilliant. I really enjoyed David’s interview, conducted by Tim Napper. David has been in the business for a long time and is a really heavy hitter (he’s the reason Harry Potter got as big as it did). His insights and experiences were fascinating.

There were numerous panels over the four days, covering a wide variety of topics. The theme of the con, based on the year in Chinese astrology, was Red Fire Monkey, so a lot of stuff was based around that. A lot of Asian-influenced SF was discussed, which is great because it’s a largely un-mined source of great fiction in the west.

One of the real high points for me was the launch of my first collection of short fiction, Crow Shine. The amazing and completely lovely Kaaron Warren was kind enough to launch for me and she said such great things about the book. I made some souvenir “moonshine” for the event that we all used to toast the launch and I sold a bunch of books. Hopefully people will enjoy the read. The book is officially released (in hardcover and ebook along with the paperback you see below) in November, so watch here and my social media for details as they come about. Here’s Kaaron and I right before things got under way.

crow-shine-launch

Another high point for me was my Guest of Honour Q&A, with horror master Robert Hood interviewing me. It was a really interesting hour, where Rob’s questions had me interrogating myself and my ideas around horror and dark fiction quite deeply. I enjoyed it a lot. And when Rob opened the floor to questions, he insisted that anyone with a question take Eric the Monkey (a plushy toy monkey with an evil gleam in its eye) and try to hit me with it while I was answering. One shot got through, with Ian Nichols tossing a monkey with more velocity than I expected it capable of! I saw the shot coming and got a hand to it, but just deflected it into my own head due to the unexpected pace. The pic below shows me and Rob mid-discussion. That bastard monkey, Eric, is just out of shot to the left, waiting for his moment to shine.

29447499083_936348a3bf_o

And I think the other thing that really deserves a mention is the Sci Fi Tai Chi! As part of his MC duties, Sean Williams devised a new short form of “tai chi”. Most tai chi styles have moves with poetic and descriptive names, so Sean decided to develop a science fiction version, with each move referencing some SF or fantasy movement known to all fans. He taught a few moves at each significant con event, and I had the obliging Dave Versace video the final lesson from the closing ceremony, where Sean demonstrated the last three parts. I joined him in learning and demonstrating the “Sean Williams Sci Fi Tai Chi Form” and here it is on YouTube. For reference, the moves are:

Rimmer Salute Part 1
Jedi Mind Trick
Vulcan Salute and Nerve Pinch
Grab the Gungan’s Tongue and Bop Him on the Head
Neo Shakes Off the Dust
Marty McFly Checks His Watch
Know Where Your Towel Is
Venusian Aikido
Get Away From Her You Bitch
Slayer Strike Right
Slayer Strike Left
Thunderbird Walk
I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing
Rimmer Salute Part 2

Enjoy!

So that’s my short wrap of Conflux 12. Already, I can’t wait for Conflux 13 next year. As ever, Cat Sparks was roving around all weekend with her camera and her full photoset of the con is on Flickr here. If you can ever get to Canberra in early October for a Conflux, you won’t regret it.

.

Conflux 12

conflux12headerrgb

I’m still coming to terms with the idea that I can be a Guest of Honour at a convention, but it’s true. I’ll be the GoH at Conflux 12 in Canberra this weekend. It’ll be heaps of fun and there’s loads of good stuff happening. We’ll be launching my collection, Crow Shine, with the inestimable Kaaron Warren. The book isn’t officially published until November, so it’s a good chance to get your hands on an early copy.

I’ll be on a bunch of panels and doing my Write the Fight Right workshop too, along with plenty of other stuff. And there’ll also be a whole bunch of fun stuff that doesn’t involve me! The full program is on the con website here. And the rest of the time, of course, I’ll be in bar. So please come along and join in the fun. All the details are on the con website. Four days of SFF fun in Canberra. Can’t wait! Hope to see you there.

.

Newsletter prize pack

So you know I have an irregular newsletter, right? It’s a great way to keep up with new releases and stuff like that, because you might miss announcements on the blog here. And I share other stuff too, like what I’ve been reading lately, short story news, appearances and stuff like that. Every now and then I include a free short story just for subscribers, and other bits and pieces as they occur to me. You won’t be bombarded either – I only send a newsletter every couple of months at most. I try to make it monthly, but I’m crap at remembering. You get a free ebook just for signing up, and there are often other giveaways too. For example, with the last newsletter that just went out, there’s a chance for people to win a copy of Blood Codex, a copy of the Balance Omnibus, or a copy of Crow Shine.

But don’t worry if you missed that, as I have a new giveaway organised for next time, and it’s a corker. If you sign up in time for the next newsletter, which will come out sometime around mid-December, you’ll learn how to win this prize pack:

IMG_4209Copy of Murky Depths #16 which includes my short story “Mirrorwalk”

Copy of M-Brane SF #13 which includes my short story “Trial Not Required”

Copy of Seizure #4 which includes my short story “Deep Sea Fishing”

Copy of my supernatural noir novella “The Darkest Shade of Grey”

Copy of my collaborative horror novella with David Wood, “Dark Rite”

Copy of my first Balance novel, RealmShift

Copy of my second Balance novel, MageSign

Copy of the anthology I helped put together, Dark Pages

Pretty sweet, right? A lot of that stuff isn’t in print any more, and it’ll all be signed. If you win and you want it personalised, no problem. And it won’t be a very difficult to win either. The giveaway is planned around the international release of Bound: Alex Caine #1, and will be themed on that. But to learn more, you need to be a newsletter subscriber. So sign up now, get your free ebook, and wait for the next newsletter in mid-December. Signing up is easy – I’ll never share your email address with anyone else. You’ll find the sign-up form at the bottom of the homepage (just click Home above and scroll down) or right there in the sidebar. (If you’re on a mobile device, the sidebar appears right at the bottom after all the posts, so keep scrolling down.)

.

Some writing facts and figures for 2015

As much for myself as anything else, it’s nice to look back on a year and see what’s been achieved. Given that I’m always striving for more, it’s good to stop and remind myself what I have managed along the way. So here are some writing facts and figures for 2015.

I had no new books out this year, but I wrote some – more on that below.

New short fiction publications this year were:

“How Father Bryant Saw the Light” – Blurring the Line anthology (ed. Marty Young, Cohesion Press, November 2015)

“Reaching For Ruins” – Review of Australian Fiction (ed. Matthew Lamb, Vol. 16, Issue 3, November 2015)

“Old Promise, New Blood” – Bloodlines anthology (ed. Amanda Pillar, Ticonderoga Publications, October 2015)

“In Vaulted Halls Entombed” – SNAFU: Survival of the Fittest anthology (ed. Geoff Brown & A J Spedding, Cohesion Press, September 2015) (Novelette)

“Beyond the Borders of All He Had Been Taught” – Insert Title Here anthology (ed. Tehani Wessley, Fablecroft Publishing, April 2015)

“The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner” – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (ed. Gordon Van Gelder, Jan-Feb 2015 issue)

That last one, selling to F&SF, is a real career high point for me. It’s my holy grail of sales and I finally nailed it. I’ve loved that magazine since I was a kid and seeing my name in one was mind-numbing. Plus, it’s just been listed on the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List, so that’s a nice bonus. Now to beat my best by selling to F&SF again.

As for the business of submissions, I made 37 short fiction submissions in 2015, so fewer than normal. But I got 8 acceptances, a couple of them pro, which is a higher ratio than normal. A few of those were solicited, so the strike rate is always higher that way than cold subs.

As for new writing, I wrote about a dozen new short stories, all of which are either sold or (four of them) out on submission.

I finished a novel that I started in 2014, which is now with my agent.

I wrote a whole new collaborative novel with David Wood which is now out on submission.

I wrote a novella of about 30k words that’s also out on submission.

And I’m halfway (about 50k words) through a new novel that I hope to have finished in first draft by the end of Feb.

Also in 2015, I won an Australian Shadows Award, for “Shadows of the Lonely Dead”, and was nominated for a second one for “Mephisto”, both short stories. And I was nominated for a Best Novel Ditmar Award for Bound, a Best Novella or Novelette Ditmar Award for “The Darkness in Clara”, and a Best Horror Novel Aurealis Award for Obsidian. And the Shadows Award winning story was reprinted in Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror. Not actual writing stats, but fucking significant writing achievements in the year.

So while there’s only been six new stories published this year (my lowest count since 2011), and no new books, I have nonetheless been very busy. That’s the business – nothing happens fast. But you have to work like a pro 100% of the time to see results. And they do come if you never quit.

Hopefully I’ll land a new book deal or two in 2016 – cross your eveythings for me.

How was your year? Productive, I hope. Let’s all try to beat our best in 2016. Happy new year!

.