Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

April 29, 2013

Conflux 9/NatCon 52 – The Wrap-up

Filed under: news of the day,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 4:34 pm

I’m still coming down from the unrelenting funfest of four consecutive days of congoing preceded by ten or so days’ travel with small children. And by “I’m still coming down” I mean I am crashing harder than a laptop in a blender. So hard that my analogies make no sense whatsoever.

The 52nd Australian National Science Fiction Convention, attached this year to the Canberra Conflux 9 con, was held over the Anzac Day extra-long weekend. By world standards it was, I’m sure, pretty small peanuts, but for me it was an overwhelming celebration of Australia’s wonderful and vibrant speculative fiction community.

Too much happened for me to summarise in one post, so I’m going to do a series of short posts to hit all my personal highlights, from the launch of the Next anthology, the fun and informative program of panels (some of which included me due to my extensive qualification of having agreed to be on panels), the new books I snaffled, the Ditmar awards and various other things as I they come to mind. The blogs will be necessarily short because, having lost a fortnight of productivity to travel and con-going, I’m massively behind schedule on both writing my novel and critiquing someone else’s. [1]

[1] Don’t worry Leife – I’ll get there!

April 5, 2013

Cover Up

Filed under: wordsmithery — Tags: , , , — lexifab @ 10:25 pm

It’s now exactly three weeks until the launch of CSfG’s anthology Next, at which point I will become (a) a published author and (b) at least a very little bit tipsy. But not too tipsy because apparently I will be doing a panel the following morning. Well, after all I will have responsibilities. What with being a published author and all, I’ll have a brand to protect [1].

Anyway, the cover and table of contents have been posted up at the CSfG website and they are both pretty damn exciting. For one thing, I love Shauna O’Meara’s cover art, which is cartoonish and whimsical but also sharp and absolutely elegant. The spare cover design is unfussy and iconic and makes me rather gleeful.

And imagine it wrapped around a big fat chunk of book [2], because it will be. Just look at the *size* of the collection – 30 stories! Even allowing for the outside possibility that my story “Aisle Nine – Imported Goods” is somehow not to your taste, there’s quite likely something else in there for everyone. Both the editors are fond of humour [3] so there’s bound to be at least a few gags, and I know that there are authors who specialise in romance, fairytale fantasy, hard SF and dark fantasy/horror among the contributors.

I’ll post the purchase details when I know them, in case anyone wants to pick up a copy. I highly recommend that you do, of course – one day an original Next will be worth a mint. Shauna O’Meara’s going to be a big hit some day…


[1] Joking. The only brand I would ever intentionally fight to preserve is Streets’ Golden Gaytime. I can’t really see them asking.

[2] Unless you go digital, I guess, which I understand will be an option after about a month or so.

[3] Okay, well actually they are hopelessly addicted to the worst puns imaginable, but let’s not hold that against them, eh? They also have many commendable qualities.

April 4, 2013

Review – Write the Fight Right by Alan Baxter

Filed under: books of 2012,books read,reviewage,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , — lexifab @ 10:54 am

Alan Baxter is a writer and a kung fu instructor, and if that sounds like a handy combination, it is. Write the Fight Right (WtFR) draws on his experiences in the dojo and the odd real-life street confrontation to help writers bring a touch of reality to their fight scenes.

Baxter helpfully breaks the book into several sections, broadly starting with how fights actually unfold in real life, and in particular showing which factors are the most important in determining the outcome (footwork, reach, training, size and – crucially – the ability to not be where the other guy is throwing a punch). The second set of chapters describe the physiological elements of a chaotic punchup – adrenaline rushes, the effects of pain, getting knocked out – and the mental side of things – how fear and anger matter, what a fighter might see and hear, the psychological benefits of training and so on. The final part deals briefly with weapons, with the take-home message that pulling a knife or a club or a sword out is an orders-of-magnitude escalation of a violent situation, to be avoided at all costs by anyone with a shred of sanity. The book is rounded out with a helpful checklist, summarising the things a writer could consider in putting together a fight scene.

Throughout the book Baxter keeps his eyes firmly on bringing these elements out in tight, well-focused writing. There’s a lot to consider but his advice is not to overegg an action scene: “Don’t try to use everything , but pick and choose things that suit the kind of fight you’re writing or the kind of environment you’re setting the fight in. Also think hard about your characters and what kind of experience they have and what sort of personality they have, which will affect their reactions and perceptions of fighting.”

Baxter has a good nose for the sorts of clichés used by writers with little to no experience of physical altercations (me included) and exhorts the reader to get rid of them. It’s all good, sound advice written in a practical and no-nonsense style. Baxter comes across as a natural teacher; his explanations are clear and his conversational language gives the whole piece the air of a convivial bar conversation. WtFR isn’t a long book – more like a longish essay – but it is a readable and useful reference work for writers whose genre fiction includes a good splash of biffo.

(Alan’s also one of the cohosts of the ThrillerCast podcast, which I reviewed a little while ago, and a fellow alumnus of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. And a charming and funny chap with a new book coming out soon!)

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