Friday, August 31, 2012

Mr Frog Went A-courting

I've talked before about the different frogs that live in our garden. While we sometimes see them sunning themselves by the pond we mostly become aware of them when they start wooing. This usually begins in the early evening in spring and summer. Eventually we end up with the ponds full of wriggling black tadpoles that gradually turn into adult frogs. Where most of them end up from there I don't know. They must move on because the actual number of resident frogs seems to stay the same.

Well that's how it normally goes but this year things are different. We have one very confused or  lovelorn - or maybe both - froggie making his presence felt. For the last two weeks all day - but not at night when you'd expect it -  he has been borrrupping away very loudly. I don't know quite what he expects to happen. At  this time of the year all sensible lady frogs spend their days tucked up in their burrows or under a lily pad. They're getting their beauty sleep, ready for when the boys break out in song and entice them to mate in a few weeks time. I wish him luck. I think he needs it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

KSP Minicon

The 2012 KSP Minicon is coming. With panels, a Kaffeeklatsch program, a book launch, author readings and books for sale plus a chance to mingle with local authors this is a highlight for readers and writers of speculative fiction of all kinds. I've been to the previous three Minicons and they were great fun. The details are below.

The 2012 KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group Minicon

Panellists include :
Local Writers: Lee Battersby, Amelia Beamer, Hal Colebatch, Cathy Cupitt, Stephen Dedman, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sonia Helbig, Elaine Kemp, Pete Kempshall, David Kitson, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Juliet Marillier, Ian Nichols, Anthony Panegyres, Carol Ryles, Guy Salvidge, JB Thomas. 

When: Sunday, 9 September, 2012  9.30am-4.30pm

Where: Katherine's Place, Old York Road, Greenmount (Turn into the first driveway after you turn in from the highway and park at the back)

Cost: $15, or $10 if you book in advance. Leave a comment at if you want to do this.

Lunch: A decent meal and tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation or you can BYO - there are no eateries in the vicinity.

Discussion Panels: Meeting Room

10:00 Breaking the Rules
“Look, that's why there's rules, understand? So that you think before you break 'em.” - Terry Pratchett
Sometimes the 'rules of writing' need to be broken. But what are they and how and when do you get away with breaking them? And what do you need to be aware of before you do? All the best writers are renowned for breaking rules and new writers are crucified for it, yet there are times when we all need to cross that line.
Lee Battersby
Sonia Helbig
Martin Livings
Anthony Panegyres
Guy Salvidge 

11:00 Is the Internet the New Slush Pile
Google the question: “is the internet the new slush pile?” and the wisdom of the masses will tell you that since mid 2011, there has been a grass-roots change in the world of publishing. The inference given in hundreds of articles unearthed by such a search is that you should no longer submit to slush piles while trying to get noticed. There's a new wave of authors who publish their material directly to the Internet in the hope that their book will attract the attention of publishers and agents. But what does this method of gaining attention achieve and will it replace the tradition of slush pile Monday's? For that matter, with so many new writers self-publishing, is there a need to be picked up at all? Or is it a path to self-destruction of the writer's rights?
Stephen Dedman
David Kitson 
Dave Luckett
Ian Nichols 

12:00 Lunch 

Book Launch, The Corpse Rat King by award winning author Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

Lee Battersby is the author of the novels The Corpse-Rat King (Angry Robot, 2012) and Marching Dead (Angry Robot, 2013) as well as over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets as Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Year’s Best Australian SF & F, and Writers of the Future. A collection of his work, entitled Through Soft Air has been published by Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week Writing the SF Short Story course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs.

He lives in Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs, the Goon Show and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as the Arts Co-ordinator for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good.

For more about Lee see: 

1:00 Critting and Crowd-Sourced Editing
Should writers have their manuscripts criticised by a broad audience of their fellow writers? What value does it add to your work? Can you lose your ideas by letting others see your manuscript before the editor does? How about crowd-sourcing of editing? Is it possible to let others perform the work for you while reading early revisions of your manuscript? And how do you even take advantage of such services? Should they be avoided completely?

Amelia Beamer
Satima Flavell 
Pete Kempshall
Juliet Marillier
Anthony Panegyres

2:00 Building Characters without Cardboard
In online reviews, a common complaint against many recent authors, especially those who choose to self-publish, is that their characters seem two-dimensional or otherwise lack depth. So what does the aspiring author need to consider in their writing so that their characters seem more real to the reader? And how do they achieve it? Are characters planned or imagined? And what are the pitfalls that many new writer, and even experienced ones, fall into? And how do you write convincing characters from the other gender?

Lee Battersby
Martin Livings
Juliet Marillier
Carol Ryles
JB Thomas

3:00 Has Erotica Become Just another Mainstream Sub-Genre
With Fifty Shades of Grey now the fastest selling book ever, it's difficult to ignore the part that erotica has played in this series’ success. Writers thinking of including sexually explicit content in their novels are often confused by the terms ‘erotica’ and ‘pornography’. How should a modern writer approach this situation? How to avoid mistakes? Should erotica feature in a serious novel at all?

Amelia Beamer
Cathy Cupitt
Stephen Dedman
Elaine Kemp

Kaffeeklatsch Schedule (Library)

1PM – 1:30PM Joanna Fay: Publishing with a small press overseas
Joanna’s Daughter of Hope, the first novel in her epic fantasy sequence The Siaris Quartet, has recently been published as an e-book by Musa Publishing, a relatively new e-press in the USA. From the comfort of her lounge room in the Perth hills, Joanna has taken an intensive 'high learning curve' this year on the road to publication, while coming to grips with both the potential and pitfalls of online promotion.
2PM - 2:30PM David Kitson: Self Publishing – A complete end to end guide for anyone planning on doing it themselves
David’s self-published novel, Turing Evolved, broke into the top 20 Science Fiction book list on and is now rated at four-and-a-half stars with one hundred and fifty customer reviews. Learn about David’s experiences with editing, uploading, customer feedback and eventual contact and representation by a literary agent.

3PM – 3:30PM Juliet Marillier: Theme to be announced
Juliet is a New Zealand-born writer who now lives in WA. Her historical fantasy novels for adult and young adult readers include the popular Sevenwaters series and the Bridei Chronicles. Juliet’s books have won many awards including the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Prix Imaginales and the Aurealis Award. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet has two books out this year: Shadowfell, first instalment in a fantasy series for young adults (available now) and adult fantasy Flame of Sevenwaters, to be published in November.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

I'm a great fan of Juliet Marillier's writing. She has never disappointed me so I've been hanging out for this book. Last week I got it in my hot little hands. Actually they were cold since it's winter but sometimes a cliche is fun.

But back to Shadowfell. I had read some very positive reviews which made me even more enthusiastic. So I struggled up to my local Dymocks book store at about 5:30 last Thursday afternoon - walking is something of a problem at the moment but let's not go into that - and found it among the new releases. I started reading in the car while waiting for Pisces, continued on through dinner and until midnight (when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer) and finished it during breakfast. It was that good.

In a world where magic and any contact with the Good Folk is banned fifteen year old Neryn with her ability to see the Good Folk is in continual danger. Trust is just as dangerous and, as she travels to try to find a sanctuary she only knows from rumour, she finds herself having to make hard decisions. Along the way she meets Flint, a mysterious young man. Not sure whether he is to be trusted, Neryn travels with him but nothing is ever as it seems in this land as she soon discovers.

Neryn  is a well-rounded, believable character and those she meets along the way such as the mysterious Flint and the Good Folk like Sage are just as well-drawn. Shadowfell - what a great title - is being marketed as Young Adult but it is certainly very readable for any lover of fantasy. The best part is that there is a sequel underway and I, for one, can hardly wait to find out what happens next.

 As you can no doubt guess, I recommend this book highly.

Juliet Marillier's website is here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

KSP Mini Con 2012

I've just received the provisional program for the 4th KSP Mini Con 2012. It's certainly impressive and it's happening on Sunday, September 9. There are some fascinating and useful panel topics and Kaffeeklatsches with local authors and editors planned - more when all the details are confirmed. As well, local author, Lee Battersby, will be launching his new novel, The Corpse-Rat King. 

It's an opportunity to meet up with like minded speculative fiction writers, professional and amateur, and readers. Lunch is available - and, from experience, I can say that even problems like the power going off all day does not stop people having a great day. I'll put the full program up as soon as it's out.

It's at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount.  If you're a reader or a writer of speculative fiction and you want a fun day, put it in your diary.

For up to date information go to the KSP Mini Con Facebook page  or the KSP Mini Con blog.