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Posts Tagged ‘World Con’

World Con Through the Eyes of the Uninitiated

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on September 18, 2010

While attending Aussie Con 4, Leanne C Taylor took her lap top to each panel and made notes. She had kindly offered to share what she gleaned with us.

Take it away, Leanne.

When I first heard about the World Science Fiction Convention, I was thrilled.  I’m a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy related events, even if I don’t usually find my way to them.  My favourite part of Supanova is going to look at all the wonderful, inexplicable merchandise that is absolutely nowhere else in Brisbane.  Sure, you can order some of these things online, but if you have an experience as I did with my purchase of a Clalaclan figure via Play Asia, where what looked cute and demure in the pictures turns up with a rack that would make Jenna Jameson blush, you quickly learn to admire from afar, until you can examine up close.

So it was, with dreams of capitalistic glory and a heavy wallet, that a ventured to Melbourne, to attend my first ever WorldCon.  We eventually found where we were supposed to be, gathered our wits to determine which room our first panel was in, and decided that half an hour spent perusing the dealer’s room would be a half-hour well-spent.  I entered, and took a cruise-by of the stalls on offer.  I made it to the end of the row, and turned the corner, expecting I had entered the wrong door, and sure that eclectic consumerist joys awaited me.  Past the Borders stall, around the divider and…  What?  Coffee?
So the dealer’s room was a little smaller than I imagined.  I left for my first panel, slightly disgruntled and with a severe case of nerves.  Maybe they hadn’t told anyone.  Maybe no one knew.  I ascended the stage in the all-but-empty room, unable to find my fellow participants, with a cold lump of dread settling into my stomach.  What if no one turned up?  What if they got bored and left?  What if – like the survivors of some unforeseen apocalypse – we were doomed to spend our days, wandering the empty halls?
What followed were some of the best days of my writing career.  My first two panels got off to a great start, and I spent the next 4 days flitting from lecture to panel to lunch and back again.  I listened, enraptured, as people whose books I’d seen on store shelves spoke frankly, wittily, and with a heart-warming familiarity.  I took page after page of notes, as you’ll see, and retired each day, exhausted and happy.  I really feel that attending WorldCon has made me a better writer, and has helped put my priorities in order.  It’s something of a shift, to see that there are these wonderful, passionate people, doing what they love, and happy to discuss their passion with you, stranger though you may be.  There’s a sense of community, of togetherness, which I haven’t felt for a long time, not in my professional career.  I can only hope that next time AussieCon rolls around, I’ll be in a position to attend once again, and maybe slip in a couple of visits to the US WorldCons between now and then.
So, was I disappointed?  Momentarily, yes.  But the materialistic side of my psyche soon lost out to my desire to learn.  And learn I did.  I hope my notes provide some small idea of what it was like to attend each of the particular panels.  I hope they’re as useful to you as they are to me.  And I hope, next time, I’ll see you there.
Leanne would like to stress that these notes were taken in real-time, while the panel was happening. I would like to thank her for generously sharing with us. (Also something weird is going on with the formatting when I upload the post, sorry about this).

“Are there taboos in dark fantasy? At what point does the fantasy stop and the psychosis begin? “
Deborah Biancotti, Terry Dowling, Richard Harland, Jason Nahrung, Catherynne M Valente

“For some authors, the most important aspect of writing a story or novel is preparing a meticulously constructed plot. For others, the appeal of writing comes from developing the story on the fly, and allowing the plot to develop as they go. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each approach , and the best techniques for plotting in a chosen way?”
Stephen Dedman, John Scalzi, Melinda M. Snodgrass

“As new technologies arise, story tellers learn (sometimes tot heir embarrassment) which techniques can be adapted from old media, and discover new possibilities. Join our crew of passionate storytellers as we navigate from Stone Age campfires to the interactive multiplayer future.”

Chris Lawson, Grant Wartson, Peter Watts, Ben Chandler

Anachronistic Attitudes: Writing thought and belief in historical fiction

“Writers of historical (or historically inspired) fiction often pay close attention to accuracy, ensuring the technology and fashion surrounding their stories never fall prey to anachronism – but what about the way the characters behave? What responsibility does an author have to their characters’ thought processes, beliefs and understanding of the fictional world around them?”

Kaaron Warren, Rowena Cory Daniells, Juliet Marillier, Ginjer Buchanan

Writing your First Novel

“Suggestions, tips, advice, ideas, opportunities to help all those who would like to write. “
Juliet Marillier, Richard Harland, Leanne Hall, Carol Ryles (chair)

“Editing a 5000 word short story is one thing – how do you edit a 100 000 word novel? A panel of professional editors discuss their own experience in editing the novel – how to keep a work that long consistent, how to maintain energy and enthusiasm, how to liaise with the author over the long haul, and how to decide how long or short a novel should ultimately be.”
Simon Spanton, Zoe Walton, Jean Johnson, Ginjer Buchanan

“Clarke’s Law famously states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. When writing about the distant future, where do we draw this distinction? Can we? And, perhaps more importantly, should we?”
Rani Graff, Bob Kuhn, Alistair Reynolds

“Science fiction used to be a means of extrapolating today’s technology and society, and predicting the future. More and more often, however, our ideas of the future simply aren’t turning true. What happens when the real world starts advancing faster than the imaginations of science fiction writers?”
Kim Stanley Robinson, John Scalzi, Mike Scott, Norman Cates

“Submitting a story to a journal, anthology or magazine might seem as simple as attaching a  Word document to an e-mail and firing it off, but is it? How do you know the appropriate market for your fiction? How much is enough money to be paid for your work? How should you approach an editor? What are the dos and don’ts of getting published in the speculative short fiction marketplace?”
Cory Doctorow, Robert Silverberg, David D. Levine, Angela Slatter

“The mutual admiration of Virginia Woolf and Olaf Stapledon for each other’s novels will serve as a start for a comparison of the very different treatments of time in their books, which will then lead to a discussion of the many ways novelists can portray the passage of time, often in ways unavailable to the other arts. The impact of these formal methods on the reader’s senses of pace and meaning, therefore crucial questions of readerly pleasure, will be explored by way of example of Joyce, Proust, Golding, Garcia Marquez, and other great fantasists.”
Kim Stanley Robinson

“At the crossroads between science fiction and horror there is a familiar formula at work: a group of humans trapped in a claustrophobic environment – a spaceship, a space station, a distant colony – being hunted down one by one by some inhuman and utterly terrifying monster. From Alien and The Thing to Even Horizon, Resident Evil and most recently Cargo and Pandrorum (both screening at the convention), we investigate the origins of this popular sub-genre of cinema, why it works and which films of its type work the best.
Bob Eggleton, Christian Sauve, Foz Meadows

“To be a ‘Philistine’ has entered our language to mean uncouth or barbaric, a perception deeply situated in Biblical thought. Just as the Greeks described non-Greek neighbours as ‘Barbarians,’ so too did the Biblical writers describe people settled along the southern coast of the Levant in derogatory terms. This talk will discuss the Aegean and Cypriot origin of the Philistines,  who were reputed to be among the Sea People wreaking havoc in the Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 1180 BC). I will present recent results from the archaeological excavations at the Philistine site at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel), the city associated with Goliath in the Bible. The archaeological remains of the Philistines reveal them to be a socially and economically advanced, technologically innovative (iron production), artistically sophisticated (decorated Mycenaean-Greek style pottery), and cosmopolitan culture that positively influenced surrounding region.”
Dr. Louise Hitchock

“What keeps the pages turning on a good speculative fiction novel? A panel of authors reveal the tricks and tools they have used – and others they have seen as readers – to keep the momentum of a good story going, and to ensure the reader’s attention. What makes the difference between a tedious bore and an un-put-downable narrative rollercoaster?”
Peter V. Brett, Carrie Vaughn, Howard Tayler, Jay Lake

“The writers of fantastical horror face some very particular challenges. Our panelists discuss defying the prefixes.”
Shane Jiraya Cummings, China Mieville, Carrie Vaughn

Once again, my thanks go to Leanne.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Off to World Con and ROR

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on August 28, 2010

Before I jump in to talk about World Con, Trent, Kylie Chan, Louise Cusack, and the authors of the Johnny Marsh books were at Logan North Library today doing a talk and we had a couple of queries which I directed to this blog.

Here are some useful posts leading on from what we talked about.

Waving madly. You know who you are, the girl up the back with the list of questions. LOL

Book Structure 101 (You didn’t actually ask about this, but I’m sure you would have, if we’d had more time).

Some Useful Links for Spec Fic Writers

The Getting of an Agent

The Aspiring Writer’s Checklist

Industry Insight (This one talks about the different edits that a book goes through before publication)

And now now to WORLDCON and ROR.

See how I’ve used a crucible for today’s post illustration? That’s because getting away with other writers, critiquing books, attending panels, being on panels, buying way to many books, catching up with old friends and making new ones will help me to restore my creative crucible!

I’ll be flying out around lunch time Sunday and then nearly all the ROR will team will be in Melbourne so the blog is going to be quiet until we get back. Then we will be bursting with news!

First we will have our annual ROR. This time 4 out of the 8 RORees will be putting work through for critiquing. For info on how we run ROR see here. And for a quick insight into how to critique see here.

Trent, Richard, Maxine and I will be critiquing our books. Marianne, who is official ROR Oracle, will be coming along because she didn’t want to miss out. Imagine five writers in a room talking the instricacies of Writing Craft for 3 days solid. It would bore anyone else to tears but we get so excited by technique and passionate about obscure points of cratft.

Then it is off to World Con, where there will be panels, parties and tantrums. No. No tantrums, although there could be tears of laughter!

So until I get back, good bye for now.

Posted in Agents, Australian Spec Fic Scene, Creativity, Editors, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Writing Groups, where would we be without them?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 19, 2010

Stuck in our garrets writing away, not sure if what we write is any good. Even with the internet, which has been a lifesaver for writers, we still need that face to face time.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to the writers I’ve met over the last 15 years who have offered me a ‘hand up’. More than that, I’ve made such wonderful friends.

For starters there is this web site and the ROR group.

For information on how to start your own peer critiquing group based on ROR, see here. And for our tips on critiquing see here.

But you may not want to plunge in by starting your own group. There are Writers Centres in every state and these are a good place to start. I went to many QLD Writer Centre workshops when I first started out and really enjoyed them.

And there are quite a few writing groups already established. I’ve been trawling the internet looking for writing groups. If I have missed yours, let me know and I’ll amend this post. (With thanks to everyone who emailed me with the names of writing groups).

These are specifically Speculative Fiction writing groups dedicated to helping their members polish their craft and achieve publication. In no particular order.

ACT – The Canberra Science Fiction Guild.(est?)

The CSFG helps science fiction, fantasy and horror writers and illustrators develop their craft through critiquing, and sharing news and experiences. They have produced six anthologies which have been open to writers throughout Australia. (I couldn’t see a ‘history’ page so I’m not sure when they were established).

Queensland – Vision Writers Group (est 1996 – on Father’s day to be exact. Marianne and I abandoned our husbands to the children and ran away to the QWC to attend the first meeting because we were desperate for a Spec Fic writing group).

They say: VISION was formed to give science fiction, fantasy and horror writers in Queensland a chance to meet their peers, have their work critiqued and critique the work of others. We’re about writing, critiquing, sharing experiences and expanding the opportunities for speculative fiction writers in Queensland and Australia. And that’s what we do.

The group is centred on our monthly meetings and the Discussion List but there are lots of other things we do that you can become involved in, if you like. Our aim is to foster a literature-based speculative fiction community that produces good stories and good writers.

There is the Vision discussion list for those who can’t get along to the meetings.

South Australia – Ad Astra (est 2006)

They say: We are a group of dedicated and supportive writers of speculative fiction who meet regularly to critique work submitted by members, and to discuss industry news, information, problems, and specified topics. (limited to 12 members).

Also South Australia – Blackwood Writers Group (est 1996) and Blackwood Writers Group NE Branch (est 2005).

They don’t have a ‘mission statement’ on their web sites, but they seem pretty serious about the craft of writing.

Victoria – SuperNOVA (est 1999)

They say: We have around 20 members who meet regularly (although usually not all at once) to talk about SF writing-such as aspects of structure, expression, inspiration, publishing markets and conventions. Whereas the atmosphere is informal, SuperNOVA’s intent is serious, with most members striving to make writing their day-time job (as opposed to part-time addiction). If nothing else, SuperNOVA provides a social forum for SF writers, freeing us periodically from the otherwise solitary struggle of storytelling.

Tasmania -(Let me know if there is a writing group in Tassie)

Tansy tells me the ‘Invisible College’ is pretty much defunct, but they do haved a regular Hobart writing group. Only it more a meeting-to-write-in-company, than a critique group.

Western Australia – I know there is a strong contingent of writers and fans in WA. (Please let me know if there are any Spec Fic writing groups).

Update. Satima tells me the Stromatolights no longer exist as a writing group, although it still has a mailing list with a little traffic.  (If anyone has the address let me know. I couldn’t find it).

AND There is an active group (which was mentored for a while by Dave Lucket) at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. It has run a biennial mini-con since 2006. This is the link. (Thanks to Carol for bringing it to my attention).

Egoboo WA is a bunch of writers who are working together to crit, learn, and inspire each other. We all live in Perth, Western Australia, and found we have heaps in common.

New South Wales – Infinitas Bookshop Writers Group (est?)

They say they meet to foster:

  • greater understanding of our writing’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • donation of suggestions for improvements to particular stories; and
  • free exchange of information and experience relevant to writers.

As a secondary objective the group provides a social forum for writers to converse with others who share an interest in, and understanding of the issues of, speculative fiction writing.

Edwina thinks there might also be a writing group in Western Sydney so if you know about it, let me know.

Chris tells me there is the Thorbys Writing Group. Most of the members have attended Clarion South and the group was originally started from one of Terry Dowling’s Workshops. For more details see Chris’s comment below.

Northern Territory – If you know of a Spec Fic writing group, please let me know.

Australian Groups – now we are getting into groups with a different aim from just developing their writing craft.

The Australian SF Foundation (est 1976).

The Australian Science Fiction Foundation (affectionately known as the Foundation) was formally established in 1976, partially to carry on the work of Aussiecon, the first Australian World Science Fiction Convention.

Its main purpose is to sponsor and encourage the creation and appreciation of science fiction in Australia. The Foundation does that through the sponsorship and administration of writing workshops and short story competitions, seed loans to national conventions, and the publication of its newsletter, The Instrumentality. The Foundation has, since its inception, been a resource centre for everyone involved in Science Fiction in Australia.

Aurealis Awards (est 1995)

The Aurealis Awards were established by Chimaera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine, to recognise the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

A lot of people have worked very hard over the years to keep these awards going. A complete list of award winners is available for download on this page.

Clarion South (est 2003)

Clarion is an intensive six week workshop for writers preparing for a professional career in speculative fiction. Clarion has been described as “boot camp” for speculative fiction writers.

In 2002, a new organisation was established in Queensland, Australia to bring the Clarion experience to the southern hemisphere. The first two Clarion South workshops were held in 2004 and 2005, before it became biennial, with subsequent workshops hosted in 2007 and 2009.

Anyone can apply to attend Clarion South (they must be accepted). It is a great experience. See here for FAQs.

Australian Horror Writers Association (est. 2003, incorporated 2005)

(This group is incorporated in Victoria, but its focus is Australia wide so I have listed under Australian groups). They say:

AHWA aims to become the first point of reference for writers and fans of the dark side of literature in Australia. AHWA aims to spread the acceptance and improve the understanding of what horror is in literature to a wider audience, and in doing so gain a greater readership for established and new writers alike.

AHWA aims to offer new writers:

  • Mentor Programs
  • Critique services
  • Competitions
  • Informative tips by authors, agents and editors on how to get published

There will also be:

  • Genre news on the Australian scene
  • Links to horror-related and writing resources
  • Regular articles on writing and the horror genre
  • An active presence at Australian speculative fiction conventions
  • A continued online community for discussions of the horror genre

To reach these goals we welcome all suggestions, comments and ideas. For further information, please contact AHWA

The ‘nascent’ Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (on facebook)

They say:

This association has not been established yet. This will be a not for profit entity with an annual membership fee similar to the standard set by the AHWA.

The point of this page at the moment is to gauge the interest and support of the community and to encourage ideas and debate about what should be included.

What we will do when we set this association up:
* Support and promote Australian science fiction and fantasy writers
* Assist writers of any level of skill or any number of publications in their activities
* Having a place online for people anywhere in the country to be involved in the community and establish new relationships
* Create a new place on the internet for all members to promote their works
Australian web sites which foster the genre by offering reviews, information on markets etc.

ASIF – Australian Spec Fic in FocusASIF is a voluntary group run by booklovers who love reading speculative fiction.

InkspillersMagazines, Anthologies, competitions, editors, publishers, awards, conventions, resources, foriegn resources.

SpecusphereThe Specusphere is an independent website created by people who want to explore the speculative world as a creative industry.

WORLD SF CONVENTION Aussiecon 4The 68th World Science Fiction Convention will be held 2-6 September 2010 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Our Guests of Honour are Hugo-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson, award-winning Melbourne artist Shaun Tan, and dedicated fan Robin Johnson.  Melbourne has also hosted Worldcons in 1975, 1985, and 1999.

The annual Worldcon brings together science fiction and fantasy professionals and fans from around the world.  All forms of SF&F are represented – film, television, comics, costuming, gaming, and especially literature.  Programming includes panel discussions, lectures, science demonstrations, films, readings, and autographing.

For information in what is happening in the Australian scene see the Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet. (You can subscribe to this for free).

For a list of Australian Spec Fic writers see here. (Feel free to contact Specusphere with updates).

For a list of writing groups across Australia see here. (This list is not complete).

For a list of Specialty Bookshops see Eric Lindsay’s list here. (This list may not be complete).

I am just about ‘listed out’ now.  I started compiling this because I had to write an article on fantasy – The Power of Fantasy. And I could not find a definitive list of Australian fantasy writers, let alone speculative fiction writers. So I began making lists.

(Please note all care has been taken to find and include writing groups from small local groups to associations which foster the genre. If I have missed a group, please let me know and I will amend the post).

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Publishing Industry, Writing Groups, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Time Poor Writers

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on April 15, 2010

Remember when you were  a kid and you had time to be bored. The Christmas holidays lasted for ever. Now I blink and a month goes by. Life gets in the way of my writing.

Our next ROR is going to be held the week before World Con, in Melbourne. I need to get my lastest book written. (240 pages done, only another 160 to go but I want to have the time to do a re-write). And I need to do this in time to send out to the other ROR writers so they can read it and do a  report. I’ll be doing the same thing for their books. Reading 6 or 7 manuscripts and writing reports on them is a big commitment, but it is worth it.

Only another writer can truly understand the joy of three days straight of intense talking about the the craft of writing. And then, of course, there is Dirk’s cooking!!!

Sigh. So I have better get writing. If only life would stop getting in the way of writing!

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »