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

May 2, 2013

Conflux Roundup – Bookswag

“Come for the chat, leave with an excessive stack of new reading materials,” said absolutely nobody at Conflux 9 over the weekend. But they should have, because dammit there were a lot of book launches happening. I think I was present for at least four, and I’m pretty sure there were a couple that I missed as well. And on top of that, abundant intriguing material was available in the dealer’s room and at a special one-day marketplace. *SO MUCH STUFF*!

Of course love of books – reading them, touching them, completely failing to control the impulse to own them – seems to be what gets most people into writing in the first place. (At least, I don’t think the converse is more common: “Wow, this whole thing where you make meaningful shapes with a crayon is *so cool*. I wonder if anyone else has ever made protracted sequences of meaningful shapes, preferably in third-person past tense?”)

So here’s what I ended up with:

Loot!

A tiny fraction of what I wanted to buy

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day – Livia Day is the not-particularly-secret crime writing pen-name of Tansy Rayner Roberts. I’ve been waiting to see what Twelve Planets Press would put out under a crime imprint for a while. This seems like it will be a fun romp with cakes and capers and bloodthirsty Hobart-based killings. I will, of course, report back once I’ve finished it.

Siren Beat by Tansy Rayner Roberts/Roadkill by Robert Shearman – Back to back novellas by the aforementioned Tansy and Robert Shearman, who wrote (amongst other things) ‘Dalek’, one of the best episodes from Chris Ecclestone season of Doctor Who. I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about either story, but Twelve Planets head honcho Alisa Krasnostein pointed out that it was cheap with any other purchase SO THERE YOU GO. (Also I have a collection of Shearman’s short stories in the to-be-read folder on my Kindle, so what’s one more story for the stack? Even if it doesn’t have *any* Daleks in it, I might very well still like it).

One Small Step is a short story anthology edited by Tehani Wessely of Fablecroft Press (great name!) Funny story: the theme for One Small Step is along the line of ‘journeys of discovery’, a theme that (arguably) fits my short story Imported Goods – Aisle Nine’. I almost submitted that story to this anthology instead of Next. As it turns out One Small Step became an all-women volume, so I’m glad I changed my mind. But it looked like an enticing project then and I’m keen to see what it’s turned into.

Next – is an anthology or something. I will probably blog about it soon.

Leviathan – My buddy Evan attended the Clarion South intensive writing workshop some years ago and he often mentions Scott Westerfeld as one of the tutors who made the biggest impression on him (along with Mrgo Lanagan, Sean Williams, etc etc bastard). As steampunk was one of the big themes of Conflux, and an area in which I am deeply unschooled, I finally gave into temptation to pick up the first volume in his alternate WWI YA steampunk series. Didn’t get a chance to get him to sign it though, which in retrospect is a bit of a pity. Did enjoy hearing Evan recount the story of how Westerfeld has decided not to continue beyond the third book in the series because his decision to fund the luscious illustrations by Keith Thompson proved to be prohibitively expensive. A shame, because from the first paragraph alone – which mentions Australian cavalry, diesel-powerted walking machines and armoured zeppelins – I *know* I am going to enoy this book.

The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories by Joanne Anderton was launched at the con along with One Small Step and the Thoraiya Dyer volume of the Twelve Planets Series, entitled Asymmetry. (I didn’t pick that one up, since I already have the ebook and read it with great relish on my holidays. Review coming soon). The titular ‘The Bone Chime Song’ was among my favourite stories from 2012 (and probably the best entry in the excellent Light Touch Paper Stand Clear anthology, which I reviewed here). It was deservedly up for a Ditmar Award for Best Short Story, although as it turned out it lost to one of Thoraiya Dyer’s, ‘The Wisdom of Ants’. I listened to it read on a podcast a couple of weeks ag. It’s pretty good too.

This is all getting a bit tangled and interwoven, isn’t it? Anyway, those were just the books I picked up. There were others launched and/or available at the con which I would love to have added to that stack, if finances constraints and the threat of spinal damage had not prevailed upon me to see sense. These are a few of them:

In Fabula-Divino – This was an anthology project that Nicole Murphy put together, at the same time that she was being one of the co-chairs of Conflux 9! The goal was to foster new writers, working with one a month for a year to get their first work into print. The project was unfortunately interrupted during the year, but happily various other members of the spec fic community stepped in to help Nicole flesh the book out and get it into print. I already had my e-copy for supporting the project through crowdfunding, but I am still tempted to get a physical copy for the pretty cover…

Dark Rite – A supernatural thriller by Alan Baxter and his podcasting and writing partner David Wood. I meant to get this and just completely forgot at the end of the weekend, when energy levels were low and I was slightly overcaffeinated.

 Fragments of a Broken Land: Valarl Undead by Robert Hood – Don’t know much about it, but (a) I’ve read a couple of Hood’s stories recently and they are suitably creepy and action-packed, and (b) I like the Lovecraftian monster on the cover. This was another book that was launched at the con. I missed the launch and they were all gone by the time I arrived – but screw it, I just checked and it’s available on Amazon, so I’ve bought and downloaded it since I started typing this sentence.

(Did I mention that one of the panels I was on was about instant gratification through digital books?)

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!

February 7, 2013

Short stories made long, junkets and kindy life.

Filed under: family,joey,wordsmithery — Tags: , , , , , , — lexifab @ 4:25 pm

Crit group

I took my short story about British and Russian spies in the Great Game [1] to the CSFG critiquing group last night. Now this was a story that I thought was 90% of the way there, so I had been in two minds as to whether to wait for the monthly crits to resume after the summer break, or just start submitting it for publication.

I’m glad I waited. They were brutal.

In a good way, mind you – everything they said was spot-on (except where various people completely disagreed, but even that was illuminating). My protagonist doesn’t really do anything but shout. The stakes are undefined. Two of the three characters are more or less complete cyphers and their motivations are interesting but murky. Some of the most interesting stuff happens in the flashbacks.

That was the crux of it. Too much of the important stuff in the story happens in flashback or, worse, exposition. It’s a classic example of “show don’t tell”. I need to go back and play out some of those scenes. I need to establish who the characters are so that the story of their final confrontation makes sense.

Unfortunately that means I have to make it about four or five times as long as it currently is. Which on the one hand is great, because I’ve been wondering if I was even capable of writing a long (say 10,000+ words) short story and this is an opportunity to find out. On the other hand, it sucks, because I’ve been procrastinating on my novel throughout January and my enthusiasm for this project is NOT GOING TO HELP.

The solution – or at least the thing I am going to try to see if it will work – will be to write both at once. That is, write one for a while, then when I get bored or stuck switch out to the other.  They’re dissimilar in terms of tone, characters and voice, so it’s unlikely that one will bleed across to infect the other. And I think – though I might be drastically wrong on this – that I should be able to carry the energy and enthusiasm for each across to the other. If not, well maybe I’ll just get fed up and just pick one to finish. A win either way, I hope.

Congoing

I might have mentioned that I’ll be attending Conflux 9 here in Canberra over the Anzac Day weekend. I’d better be, obviously, because I think they’ll want me to be at the book  launch and I’ve also just signed up to be on a couple of panels.

But looking beyond that to October, I’m also heading off to Brisbane for the 2nd annual GenreCon. It’s a meeting of the minds of writers, agents, publishers and fans from across the spectrum of literary ghettoes – romance, crime, thrillers, historicals and of course speculative. By all accounts last year’s event was a huge success [2].

This year, one of the guests of honour is Chuck Wendig. Yeah. I’ve kinda got a big writer-crush on Der Wendigo these days, as you know, so if they’ve convinced him to leave his compound in the backwoods of Pennsyltucky and get on a plane to Australia, the least I can do is take a leisurely flight north to listen to him talk and buy him a beer. Or worship at his feet, whatever he prefers.

Anybody else thinking about making the jaunt?

School age

Totally unrelated to anything writery, Number One Son (aka the Joey) started “big school” this week, which in the ACT means Kindy/Kinder. He looks pretty smart in his big sun hat and school uniform, lemme tell you.

It’s a bit of a relief too. He was beginning to become…let’s say “restless”…about having to serve time in childcare with babies and toddlers while he waited for the school year to start. Now he’s back together with pretty much all of his pre-school friends, in whose company he will probably spend most of the next seven years. I’m sort of excited to see how they all turn out.

It’s scary to be the parent of a school-ager. But it’s kind of great too.

 

[1] Yes, of course there’s a speculative element. Though one of the very valid criticisms was that it showed up so late in the story that it derailed the narrative.

[2] In no small part, I understand, because everyone went away with great ideas about community-building and networking after seeing how well-coordinated and supportive the Romance Writers of Australia are.

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