Category Archives: Pitching your book

Off to the National SF Con

This weekend the national Spec Fic convention, Conflux, is being held in Canberra. It’s a fun-filled long weekend for fans of the genre, where you get to talk about the genre you love with other people who share your passion. There will be a packed program with workshops, panels and events,  (see Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday here). Here is but a brief glimpse of the things on offer.

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Thursday, Richard Harland will be there with bells on running a Writing Steam punk workshop from midday until three. Richard’s had a wonderful time in France recently, promoting his Worldshaker series. As you can see, he gets right into the steam punk era.

Richard_tophat

 

At 4pm there will be a Steam Punk High Tea. What could be more delicious? And then there’s the Opening Cocktail party at 7:45pm.

Friday, 11 am Fablecroft Press will be launching One Small Step (Go Tehani). (One of my stories is in this anthology). Unfortunately, I have to work on Friday so I won’t be able to make the launch.  I’ll fly down late Friday night and stagger into my hotel room.

OneSmallStepCoverdraft

At 2:30pm there’s a Guest of Honour interview with Marc Casgione, Publishing Director of Angry Robots. (more on the GoHs down below.

And you can’t miss the Regency Gothic Banquet  starting 7pm.

Celosia Lace Fingerless Gloves - Black Deep Red Metallic Embroidered Floral - Gothic Vampire Regency Tribal Bellydance Goth Fetish Mourning

 

Gorgeous gloves from this site.

 

 

On Saturday morning I’ll be running a workshop preparing lucky authors who will pitch their books to Marc Gasciogne later the same day.

At 2:30pm there will be a Guest of Honour interview with Naolo Hopkins, writer of challenging SF.

And at 5pm the Ditmar Award Winners will be announced, along with the winner of the Hemming Award.

8pm, the attendees will let their hair down at the Junkyard Cathedral Masquerade.

 

 

Sunday there will be a panel on Book Covers, which I’ve been prepping for. And I’m sure there will be a fierce debate of the possibility of a female Dr Who at 12:30pm. (I saw plenty of female Dr Whos at Supanova).

 

Is the World ready for a Female Dr Who? by Vinne Bartilucci

 

See here for a full list of workshops, events and pitching opportunities.

 

The Guests of Honour are:

Naolo Hopkins from the other side of the Pacific. She is the author of four novels and a short story collection (Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber, The Salt Roads, The New Moon’s Arms, Skin Folk).

Marc Gasciogne, Publishing Director of Angry Robot, UK. See an interview with Marc here at Bibliophile Stalker. Marc will he hearing the pitching session . (I’ll be running a workshop on pitching to help the writers prepare).

From Australia, we have Karen Miller, author of more fantasy books than you can shake a stick at.

Fan guest of honour is Rose Mitchell, long time fan and power-house behind many conventions including  World Cons.

And special guest, Kaaron Warren, writer of challenging macabre stories and novels.

 

A great time will be had by all, four days of programming is a big task to organise. See my interview with Donna and Nicole.

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Filed under Australian Artists, Australian Writers, Conferences and Conventions, Conventions, Covers, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fandom, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry, Readers, The Writing Fraternity, Workshop/s, Writing craft

Dynamic Duo run National SF Con (Conflux 9)and have new books out…

I have been featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) but this has morphed into interesting people in the speculative fiction world. Today I’ve invited the Dynamic Duo, Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy who are co-chairs of the Australian National SF Convention, Conflux 9 and who both happen to have a book coming out this year. They are proof that you can be creative and successful, and give back to your community.

 

Donna and Nicole

Donna and Nicole

Q: Both of you have work and families, you are part of a writing group (the Canberra SF Guild and part of Fantasy Writers on Retreat), you’re published and you both have books coming out this year (more later), on top of all this, you put your hands up to be co-chairs of Conflux 9. Tell me honestly, when you came home from that meeting and told your significant others that you’d volunteered to run the Nat Con, what did they say? (From the photo it looks like you might have had one glass to many).

Donna

Well that photo on the website was my birthday shot ( a High Tea)  so I’m not sure we’d dived into the champers at that time. We think we’re insane and I think our partners know it. Matthew (Farrer) my partner has this wide-eyed stare every time we talk Conflux 9. The worried frown sort of says-‘she’s going to rope me in?’ And just last weekend I did too, do a couple of panels. It’s the power of the inevitable. However, this is definitely my last con.

 

Nicole

I dreaded telling my husband, Tim, cause he really didn’t like the time it took from me when I chaired Conflux 4. But the fact that a) it was with Donna, so the workload wouldn’t be as bad and b) I love doing this meant he was fine with it. However, we’re both swearing that this will be the last time we organise a con and hoping our partners will keep us to that. Not that that means it’s the last thing we’ll do for the community. We have ideas. One that keeps popping up in particular (you know what I mean, Donna).

 

Donna

Nicole do not go there. Do not pass go and do not collect $200. Think of the work involved. You’re insane.

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Q: Not only are you doing all of the above, but Nicole, you’re teaching Year of the Novel with the QLD Writing Centre and the ACT Writers Centre, and Donna you are doing a Masters in Creative Writing, and a course in Millinery (hat making). Is there a point where you think, I can’t take on one more thing? Or is your philosophy, the more I take on the stimulating life is and it’s just as well I’m really good at juggling?

 

Donna

I have my limits. Like if I sold a trilogy I’d probably have massive brain melt. But that’s not going to happen in the next 3 months. I’d like it but you know gee a girl can only do so much. Ironically, I do find the more I have on the more productive I get. RSI stymies me a little. I guess it’s a matter of stacking. Conflux is over at the end of April. Things are hotting up now with Conflux so I ease off on the writing. The Masters starts soon, but I’m taking all of April off to get the Conflux thing done and uni if needs me. Millinery if the course goes ahead (they need a minimum number) will be my time out. I have arthritis in the neck and one day I’m not going to be a happy camper so I do have this philosophy of doing as much as I can now rather than waiting until I retire or something. And to ease the pressure in my writing gears and cogs, I wrote two novels in the last half of 2012 and I just have to polish them and send them out this year. The pressure to write has eased a bit.

 

Nicole

There is no doubt in my mind that I am quite, quite mad. However, there’s nothing that annoys me more than being bored, and this year there’s little chance of that happening! The two Year of the Novel courses were important to me because I love teaching and helping people – I get as much satisfaction from seeing friends and those I’m mentored and taught succeed as I do from my own success. More, even, cause I don’t have to deal with the worry and fretting and constant fear of bad sales figures J And as Donna said Conflux is over is just over three months (eep, eep, eep!) and I’m going easy on myself on the writing front in order to keep things under control. That said – I’ve got two books coming out between now and then, one of which I’m editing and publishing, so… Back to the comment about being mad.

Marc Gascoigne

Marc Gascoigne

Q: You’ve been involved in running other Confluxes and other events like the World SF Con 2010. How did you get involved in running events? Was it overwhelming the first time? I know Conflux 9 is running a pitching opportunity with Marc Gascoigne from Angry Robot. Nalo Hopkins is the International writer GOH, Karen Miller is the Australian GOH writer and Kaaron Warren is the Special Guest writer, (see here for details), so you get to meet cool writers and editors. Are there other benefits to running a Con and is it something you’d recommend to people wanting to become writers? (For information on the pitching opportunity see here).

 

Nalo Hopkins (Photo David Findlay, 2007)

Nalo Hopkins (Photo David Findlay, 2007)

Donna

Nicole will tell you I roped her in. I’ll blame Maxine McArthur because I’d never heard of SF cons (well I had been to a Star Trek convention and knew about those but not fan run lit cons). I ended up being the Chair of Conflux (number 1) but I was just helping out on the committee (cough because Maxine gave me strong hints that I should) and then I ended up being the chair. I did the next one and then scaled down my activities to focus on writing.

I did make a lot of contacts and made many friends as a result. In those early days I was very enthusiastic and networked a lot and I guess brought in other writers to the fan scene. The rest is history. For that first con though I had 10 months off work and I didn’t write much either. I think I did other things like edit anthologies.

I do recommend getting involved with organising these conventions and helping out. It’s a good experience and you make great contacts. However, I do recommend a little balancing between your activities. I got invited to help out with worldcon because I got noticed doing the Conflux convention running. It can be addictive. Worldcons are great fun (going to them and being involved).

 

Karen Miller (Photo Mary CT Webber)

Karen Miller (Photo Mary CT Webber)

Kaaron Warren

Kaaron Warren

 

 

 

Nicole

Yes, it’s all Donna’s fault. She asked me to run the short story competition at the first Conflux. I wasn’t totally happy with my work on that, so I decided to work on the next convention to prove I could do it. And then the next convention. And then I chaired one. And then. And then…

And now, thanks to Conflux, I work full-time as a professional conference organiser. So yeah, I love them.

I’m not sure I’d recommend it to other writers, because it is very time consuming. That said, if you’re not good at networking (like me, I’m atrocious at it, unlike Donna who is an absolute marvel at it), then getting involved in convention organising is a great idea because you have to meet and interact with these people. I’ve not doubt that my work with Conflux helped me get my foot in the door with Harper Collins. Didn’t get me published – it was the fact the company loved the books that did that, but it helped.

So balance it up – the time it takes versus the fact it can be very beneficial. And fun. And you get to meet the coolest people, and often they’ll stay friends for a long time after.

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Q: Donna your book Rayessa the Space Pirate is available from Escape Publishing. You edited the Australian Speculative Fiction: Genre Overview, which was published in 2005. You’ve had a lot of short stories published which range from fantasy, through erotic horror, to SF (is this right?), yet Rayessa the Space Pirate is a rollicking Space Opera, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Was it a relief to let your hair down and write for the fun of it?

AustralianSpeculativeFiction

Donna

I had fun writing Rayessa and the Space Pirates. I wrote it a long time ago, when I was a fairly new writer. Even though it’s been revised, I stayed true to the character during those rewrites. She’s fun, the story is fun. But when you take in my other work, it is surely different and not what you’d expect from me. I’m very proud of it because of its lightness, its vibrancy and like you said rollicking space opera.

Many of my short stories are me flexing my writing muscles. I evolved from just writing a story to experimenting with styles and content. I do tend to go a bit dark at times. ‘Heat’ was a bit like that with the split narrative (it’s in my free fiction section on my blog-warning adult content) and in the last couple of years I’d been writing short paranormal too, just to see if I could. I’m a bit astounded that I really like writing happy ever afters just as much as the soul sucking endings. I write what is in my head, pursue ideas and go with it. Who knows what I’m going to do next.

3 books.axd

Q: Nicole you’ve had numerous short stories published, and an Urban Fantasy trilogy set in Australia called The Gadda (Harper Collins). The tag-line on your blog is: Where Fantasy and Romance Collide. So your next book’s genre is a step sideway, but not that far. Arranged to Love is written under your pseudonym, Elizabeth Dunk. (For a taste of Elizabeth Dunk’s writing style see here, Claudine’s New Adventure). What was the genesis of Nicole the fantasy writer evolving  to include Elizabeth the romance writer?

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Nicole

It all started way back when I was originally writing the first lot of Gadda books. I’d been thinking I was a straight fantasy/SF writer, but I had one of those blinding moments of inspiration where I realised I kept putting romance in as a sub-plot and I’d probably be better off pulling it to the forefront. That was the genesis of writing the Gadda books and when they were done, I kept having ideas for contemporary romances as well.

In 2011 I was at home, writing full-time, and I needed to do something apart from the Gadda books to challenge myself. So yes, I took a step sideways – a small one, but definitely still a step. My aim was to write a Mills and Boon category style romance. The only way Arranged to Love matches that is in length – otherwise it fails. But it’s a great story and it had a checkered road to publication but I’m so happy it’s there.

I’d always intended to use a pseudonym, but to be open about it because some people read only genre, some people read an author. So there will be people who will read anything I publish and there will be romance readers who won’t touch the Gadda books with a barge pole and vice versa. Here’s hoping it works.

 

donna-corset

Q: I understand there is a Steampunk High Tea is planned for Conflux 9 on the Thursday afternoon at 3pm.  (For the full program, see here). I’m guessing this mean we all get to dress up in really cool steampunk gear, sip tea and nibble cucumber sandwiches. Do you have any fashion advice for the event?

 

Donna

I think people should go with that they feel comfortable with. I’m dressing up because: hey I made a dress so I must wear it. But people can come with a bow tie, or goggles or a gun or just in day clothes. I bought Matthew a Nerf Gun. I expect him to paint it and make it look all steampunky. My son gave me a steampunk necklace for Christmas. I’m almost kitted up.

It’s a bit of fun. People can do traditional Victorian or make it up with whatever they like. I’ve seen men and women in corsets, kilts, junk, jodhpurs and google, top hats, parasols. Any and all. Just come for the fun and the high tea. I believe we get lovely sparkling wine too. Try googling steampunk clothing and you’ll be amazed at what is out there. Mind bogglingly awesome. There are some very talented and creative people out there. Just remember you have to book and pay for the high tea as it is an extra event.

 

Nicole

Can I just add – cucumber sandwiches are awesome! Honestly, you read about them and think, how old fashioned, how silly, making sandwiches with cucumber only, what a strange thing to do. But they’re great. I prefer them with a yoghurt dressing, rather than cream cheese. Take note, Rydges!

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Q: You are also staging a Regency Banquet. Does this involved getting dressed up like Elizabeth and Mr Darcy? What can people expect at a Regency banquet?

 

Donna

Yes, if you want. We ran a Regency Banquet a few years ago and we had a great turn out. A lot of people love the period and went all out. Some had period costumes, some people adapted modern wear to make it look period, some of those were very effective.

The menu for the banquet is taken from the Conflux cookbook, Five Historical Feasts, by Gillian Polack. We are re-running that. The menu was researched and put together by Gillian, who is our very own historian (she’s a Dr), with the help of a bunch of us who tested and tasted the recipes. The food was really good to eat. Not good for my waistline.

This year to spice things up we have entertainment from Earthly Delights. They are the group that run the Jane Austen Festival in Canberra the week before Conflux. (they always get TV coverage of the event). John Gardiner, his wife Aylwen Gardiner-Garden will be organising the impromptu dancing and also music. John has agreed to do a 3 hour workshop on Regency Dance and Manners on the Friday. I’m so going to that. ($45 for members) and Aylwen is bringing items of costume to do a hands on workshop on costume design ($10 for members), so we are getting into the Regency thing. I hope we get takers because the dance workshop needs 16 people to work.

 

Lewis Morely and Marilyn Pride Conflux 5 (Photo Cat Sparks)

Lewis Morely and Marilyn Pride Conflux 5 (Photo Cat Sparks)

Nicole

The original Regency banquet was run during my conference, Conflux 4 and I may be biased, but I think it was the best of the lot. Everyone really went all out with the costuming and the whole place looked wonderful. The food was overwhelming – there was very little desert eaten because it was so rich we were already full. A fabulous night.

Note that while we’ve cut a lot of allergens out of the menu (eg there’s no fish/shellfish, no nuts), there’s one thing we can’t avoid – dairy. The Regency folks were nuts for it. And butter, so forget your diet! But if you’re lactose intolerant, there’s so little food available for you that you’ve got to seriously consider if it’s worth your while.

 

Donna Hanson, Cat Sparks, Alisa Krasnostein  Conflux 4 (Photo by Cat Sparks)

Donna Hanson, Cat Sparks, Alisa Krasnostein, Conflux 5 (Photo by Cat Sparks)

 

Q: Do you have any tips for first time convention goers who are planning to come to Conflux 9? (For membership information see here)

Donna

Be prepared to meet people, have fun, be entertained, learn things, network (drink). Be prepared to be thoroughly knackered. Come to our Meet the newbie session in the bar after the steampunk high tea. You’ll get to meet seasoned con goers to find out how to make the best of your convention.

 

Adam Browne and Keith Stevenson (Photo Claire McKenna)

Adam Browne and Keith Stevenson (Photo Claire McKenna)

Nicole

Don’t be afraid to approach your favourite writer. One of the great things about our industry is that we’ve all been in the same boat – having to greet our hero for the first time. A lot of the time, we made complete and utter fools of ourselves but we’ve always survived. Australia’s SF industry is wonderfully supportive, encouraging and fabulous and generally we only bite if asked to.

If you’re coming as a writer, intending to network with editors, agents and publishers – be cool about it. For professionals, conventions are part work, part fun and hanging with friends. So be aware of the circumstances and if you are going to approach them for a chat about your work, be polite and understand if they ask you to come back another time.

And whatever you do – don’t do what some shmuck did to poor Stephen King at a convention and chase a writer/editor/agent/publisher into the toilet with your manuscript and fling it under the door to them!

That said, a lot of us are very bribable. I drink red wine :-)

 

 

Rowena thanks for the interview. You’ve done heaps of research. It is much appreciated.

 

Donna Hanson

Donna Hanson

Catch up with Donna on GoodReads

Donna’s blog

Follow Donna on Twitter  @DonnaMHanson

 

 

 

 

Nicole Murphy

Nicole Murphy

Catch up with Nicole on GoodReads

Nicole’s Blog

Catch up with Nicole on Facebook

Follow Nicole on Twitter  @nicole_r_murphy  

 

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Filed under Australian Artists, Australian Writers, Conferences and Conventions, Conventions, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fandom, Fantasy books, Fun Stuff, Indy Press, Pitching your book, Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry, SF Books, Specialist Bookshops, Steampunk, The Writing Fraternity, Tips for Developing Artists, Tips for Developing Writers, Workshop/s, Writing craft, Writing Groups

This one’s for Nat…

For much of Supanova it was really busy and the crowds were so thick you couldn’t hear what people were saying. But there were a couple of quiet patches where I managed to chat to people and several were aspiring writers. I promised Nat I would do a post about writing groups and resources for writers, so here it is.

If you’re based in Queensland, it is well worthwhile joining the Queensland Writers Centre. They offer a broad range of workshops including Year of the Novel (where you write a book in a year under the guidance of a published author who mentors you) and Year of the Edit (where you edit the book you wrote the previous year, again with the guidance of a published author).

QWC have paired with Hachette for the QWC/Hachette manuscript Development Program (closed for this year, but it is good to have a goal for next year).  ’Now in its fifth year, The QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program aims to uncover and develop new emerging Australian writers. This is a fantastic opportunity for emerging fiction and non-fiction writers to work with editors from Hachette Australia and develop high-quality manuscripts. Up to ten emerging writers will work with editors from Hachette Australia, and other industry professionals, to develop their manuscript and learn about the industry over the course of four intensive days.’

If you are writing Spec Fic, I’d recommend joining a writing group who love the genre as much as you do. There is the Vision Writers Group, which meets in Brisbane on the first of the month at the State Library. They also have an on-line discussion list.

There is my own writing group, ROR, where I post about opportunities for aspiring writers like this one: Pitching your book at Conflux (the national Sf convention).

There are also non-genre specific opportunities like the Text Fiction Prize. This is for writers of Children’s books and Young Adult books.

And there is a whole list of useful posts on the craft of writing and the writing industry here.

If you persevere long enough, you’ll learn the craft and write some wonderful stories. Writing is one of those rare past times, which are their own reward.

 

 

 

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Filed under Australian Writers, Children's Books, Conventions, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Tips for Developing Writers, Writing Groups, Young Adult Books

Meet Rhonda Roberts …

Q: First congratulations on the success of Gladiatrix. I feel like a proud big sister because I organised the pitching opportunity at the 2006 National SF Con, which led (eventually) to your sale. (Rhonda talks about this experience on the ROR blog). Since your sale what have you learnt about the publishing industry that you wish you could have told yourself back then?

Thanks Rowena, that pitching opportunity changed everything!

One key lesson is that you need to acquire publicity skills asap. In the standard contract you are legally required to help publicise the book. My experience has been that publishers try to work with you on this – so make choices now rather than later. Different publicity methods suit different books and, more importantly, different authors. The key thing is to go with your strong points.

If public speaking is your strength – then find ways to use that. Your publisher can help you make contacts and set up interviews etc. If, like many authors, you’d rather concentrate on the web – then work out which of the available options suit you and how you want to invest your non-writing time.

Whatever venues you choose, make sure you can sum up your book in 7, 30, and 100 words. That will save you a few uncomfortable silences while you try to compress your magnum opus into a bite size chunk and still do it an iota of justice.

Q: I like the look of your web site, Rhonda, very noir, very suitable for a time travelling detective. Do you have a background in graphic design?

That’s great to hear, thanks!

I do have a distant background in art but my husband, Richard Caladine, did all the artwork on the website, as well as the maps that go with the books. We work closely together on these projects, but he does the final images. He’s in the communication technology industry as well as being a talented artist with his own website.

I love all things noir and have spent a lot of time developing that kind of look and feel in the series. The second book, Hoodwink, is set in Hollywood in 1939 specifically because this is my hero’s first real case as a private investigator. So, of course, she had to go back to the era of The Maltese Falcon and the hard-boiled private eye.

If  you like the website now, check again towards the end of this year, Hoodwink comes out in January 2012 and there’ll be some changes and additions to celebrate the launch. J

Q: I see Gladiatrix was nominated for the Norma K Hemming Award. This award celebrates excellence in the exploration of race, gender, class and sexuality. This must have been a thrill. Did you set out to explore this themes, or did it just arise naturally?

Oh yeah, I certainly was thrilled to be nominated! Gladiatrix was my first book and I had no idea whether anyone would even read it. :-)

Gladiatrix isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a sermon – it’s high adventure – but my politics tend to be inclusive rather than exclusive, so I guess they seep into everything.

Q: Gladiatrix was also nominated for the Davitt Award. This award is sponsored by the Sisters in Crime Australia for the best crime novel by an Australian woman. It looks like you are spanning at least two genres. Have you always been a fan of crime and mystery?

Sisters in Crime is such a wonderful organisation – I was absolutely thrilled they liked it.

Why did I venture across genres? Human history is full of deep dark mysteries and many of them involve unsolved crimes, so following a time travelling detective opens up adventures in any conceivable time or place. When you throw a slightly alternate past and present into the mix, then the adventure gets really exciting because anything can happen – and frequently does. J

Have I always been a fan of crime and mystery? On and off. Then one hot, sweaty summer – when I was bored and desperate for something new – I ended up in the crime section, where I discovered the V.I. Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky. V.I. is not only a smart, tough detective in the old school, noir tradition, but is also a compassionate modern woman. What a combination! I was hooked.

Since then I’ve discovered that noir female characters are very exciting people. You never quite know what they’re going to do next – but you can be damned sure you want to stick around and watch.

Q: Your main character, Kannon Dupree is described as feisty and bit impetuous but smart enough to get herself out of dangerous situations. Did you find that your background in martial arts helped you write realistic fight scenes?

Oh definitely. Especially the injuries incurred side of it. J (I’m rubbing my knee with one hand as I type with the other.)

Q: You PHD and work as an academic specialising in knowledge systems in different cultures and historical periods must help you create realistic settings when your main character travels through time. What advice could you give aspiring writers on research?

It depends on what kind of book you’re researching but if you’re writing about ‘a stranger in a strange land’, I’d suggest you start with what’s the same and what’s different? Then ask yourself why is it so?

Find out what your characters need to operate on a daily basis. Then go on to what belief system is dominant. Is it religious, scientific etc…? How does the power structure operate? Gender/class/ethnic relations? What does their technology look like and how does it fit into the socio-economy? Then the more psychological components come in. What is the family unit like? What are their greatest fears? How do they relax? And so forth…

Q: You grew up in Western Australia and spent your holidays rambling around the old gold rush ghost towns. Will there be a Kannon Dupree time travel mystery set against this background?

The series will regularly return to an Australian setting – that will definitely happen.

Choosing what era to visit next takes a bit of planning. There’s a particular arc going on with the main character that is suited to certain eras, so that has to be catered for. Plus some stories come roaring out of my filing cabinet and gleefully hijack the process…

Both of which happened with my second and third books. Hoodwink, (due out in January 2012) is set in Hollywood in 1939. So Kannon can put on her black trench coat and sunglasses, and slink around noir paradise.

The third book, which I’m now in the process of finishing, comes out later in 2012. I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, as my editor has a sniper ready to fire a warning shot if I mention it too soon. J

Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

Really? But what about J.K. Rowling, Ursula Le Guin, Anne Rice and the million other stunningly wonderful female writers over there? What’s going on?

Sure gender can influence writing choices, just as ethnicity, religion, class, age, breadth of life experience, political beliefs etc, etc, can too. But what’s wrong with that? Does anyone still seriously believe diversity isn’t a good thing? The point is on what basis worth is judged…what is valued, which voices are listened to and which ones are denigrated or dismissed.

Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?

Like many fantasy authors, there’s always been a special place in my heart for books – whatever the genre, whoever the author – that show off the might of the human spirit and it’s awesome potential. We need more of those books not less…

At the moment I’m besotted by John Carlin’s book on Nelson Mandela. How Mandela overcame the shackles placed on him because of his colour and basically saved South Africa from genocide. Talk about a true-life fantasy story!

So, I will happily pick-up books with any gender combination of author and subject. But…I won’t buy misogynistic books or ones that treat their female characters like convenient wallpaper – whatever the author’s gender.

Q: And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?

My two dogs are wondering why I’m laughing… There are so many possibilities! What was Joan of Arc really like? What secrets are encoded in the Voynich manuscript? What were Buddha’s last words? What was written on the Mayan codices destroyed by the Conquistadors?

But this month the answer is: to the VIP seats at the Rugby World Cup Final, Johannesburg, 1995, and in the limo that took President Mandela back home from the game.

This is the day (a fraction of which is portrayed in the film Invictus) that it became clear that Nelson Mandela had managed to divert the South African nation away from a bloody civil war – when blacks and whites alike celebrated the Springboks’ World Cup victory. I’d dearly love to watch Nelson Mandela’s face as he saw HIS people, the South African nation, share the same emotion at the same time – joy.

Give-away Question:  In the last Census there were 58,053 Jedi Knights listed in Australia. What new religion would you propose for the next one? Why? What would they do and wear? How would you spread it? (Get on to merchandising if you feel that is appropriate.)

 

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Filed under Australian Writers, Awards, Book Giveaway, Characterisation, creativity, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Fun Stuff, Genre, Inspiring Art, Nourish the Writer, Paranormal_Crime, Pitching your book, Promoting Friend's Books, Promoting your Book, Publishing Industry

Meet Tracey O’Hara …

As the next of my series featuring fantastic female fantasy authors (see disclaimer) I’ve invited the talented Tracey O’Hara to drop by.

Watch out for the give-away question at the end of the interview.

Q: Congratulations on your R*BY win, Tracey. (Mainstream book with strong romantic theme, 2010). I see you were also a finalist in the Aurealis Awards (Best Horror 2009). That must have been a buzz. Do you think winning awards improves sales? 

It was a very big buzz. It was great having my debut wo well received. The RuBY was just – wow. I never anticipated it would win, so much so I didn’t even prepare a speech. I’m never doing that again. And when I was nominated for the Aurealis – I was so over the moon, and for the horror category as well. One day I would like to write some pure horror.

Q: I see you live in far north Queensland. Were you affected by the category 5 cyclone that swept through there earlier this year?

Actually I live in the ACT, but grew up in Canberra. It was quite an ordeal first worrying about family and close friends in the Queensland floods. Then a few weeks later worrying about extended family up in the north of the state. Followed closely by the Christchurch earthquake. It has been a really horrible time for all the people that live in those areas and my heart goes out to the ones who lost homes, or worse, loved ones in those terrible disasters.

Q: The covers for your Dark Brethren series Night’s Cold Kiss and Death’s Sweet Embrace are brilliant. Did you have any say in them?

I got asked for my ideas, and give them an impression of what I would like to see. With the first book, when they asked what I thought – and I said the opening scene, where Antoinette (the heroine) is perched on the windowsill with the sword strapped to her back would be really cool. But I could never have anticipated the wonderful cover that eventuated. I actually cried tears of joy when I saw it. The second cover is just as amazing.

Q: I see there is a third book in the Dark Brethren series Sin’s Dark Caress. Can you tell us a little about it?

With the first book, I mainly concentrated on the vampiric Aeternus race, the second was shapeshifting Animalians, and in the third I am going to delve into the world of the magic wielders. I am finding this story is quite a bit darker again from the first two. And that is all I am giving away at the moment.

Q: It sounds like your books have a strong thriller/mystery in them. Are you a fan of thriller/mystery books?

I loved the Arthur Upfield, Napoleon Bonaparte (Boney) books when I was a teenager and I’m a big Agatha Christy fan, however mainly the TV series and movies rather than the books which I sometimes find a bit tedious.

I would say I am more of a fantasy and horror fan than thriller/mysteries. Having said that, I love something that will take me to unexpected places and have twists I don’t see coming.

Q: In the Dark Faerie Tales guest post you say: ‘I like to describe the Dark Brethren books as a series concentrating on a central group of characters similar to what you would see in a TV series. Each book has a self contained story with a different heroine and hero but some of the themes are carried throughout the series.’ This reminds me of Buffy or Angel. Are you a fan of Joss Whedon?

OMG yes – very big Joss fan. My favourite series of his though, is Firefly. I actually didn’t like Buffy or Angel as characters much, but loved the characters that supported them. I think Joss’ characterisation is fantastic. The richness and complexity he gives to each individual is one of the most amazing things about his work.

Q: I see in your bio you say your first book just ‘flowed out of you like molasses on a hot day’ LOL. Do you still write that fast? How does it take you to write a Dark Brethren book?

Unfortunately no. That was back in the days before I knew what I was writing was rubbish. Now I agonise over the words more than I want too and I am so grammatically challenged it’s almost a crime. Now I when I see what I’m writing is rubbish, I have to work it out before I can move on. This is a bad habit that I will have to get out of.

Q: I was prompted to start this series of interviews because there seems to be a perception in the US and the UK that fantasy is a bit of a boy’s club. Do you think there’s a difference in the way males and females write fantasy?

That is a very interesting question. I can’t say for sure and I definitely don’t want to pigeonhole writers. Of course every writer writes differently, it’s called the author voice. And there is not one better than the other.

But if I think about my some of my favourite writers, George RR Martin and Raymond E Feist, they have great books, and there are relationships, but I tend to think they concentrate on action, the sweeping epicness and the political intrigue of it all. Whereas my two favourite female authors, Jean M Auel and Anne McCaffery, their stories are just as sweeping and filled with almost as much action and intrigue, but I think the relationships (and I am not just talking romantic ones here) tend to have a bit more focus and feel a bit more personal. As I said – I don’t want to generalise. This is just purely my impression of the top of my head.

And sometimes I get the impression that if it’s a woman writer and the story has anything about relationships, some will say it’s romance, which for some reason is seen as lesser and something to be denigrated. Whereas if it’s a male, it can be seen as a well rounded story with depth and emotional pull.

Q: Following on from that, does the gender of the writer change your expectations when you pick up their book?

No. I read stories. I like to find out more about the author, especially if I enjoy their books. But what I’m really looking for is a story to get totally drawn into and lost.

Q: And here’s the fun question. If you could book a trip on a time machine, where and when would you go, and why?

OMG – that is so hard. The romantic in me would say in the times of the Vikings or Ancient Egypt, but it would depend of who or what I was there. I mean it wouldn’t be much fun going back to Viking days and being murdered in a Viking raid of my village. Nor would it be that much fun ending up as one of the slaves sealed alive in the tomb of a dead pharaoh. I think I am too much of a realist to want to go back in time. And I definitely don’t want to see what’s ahead for similar reasons.

Tracey will give-away a copy of latest book. Here’s the give-away question:

Tracey says – I’ve just started reading Game of Thrones, by George RR Martin, and I love this book because the writing is superb, the characters complex and three dimensional, the setting is vivid and beautifully described. It is what I would like to write when I grow up. What is your favourite book and what about it attracts your attention?

Follow Tracey on Twitter:  @traceyohara

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Dark Urban Fantasy, Fantasy books, Female Fantasy Authors, Inspiring Art, Pitching your book, The Writing Fraternity

Angry Robot has opened to submissions from author without agents. Here’s the link.

And this is what they are looking for:

We’re publishing novels, either standalone or as part of greater series. We’re not looking to publish your novellas, short stories or non-fiction at this time.

All our books are “genre” fiction in one way or another — specifically fantasy, science fiction, horror, and that new catch-all urban or modern fantasy. Those are quite wide-ranging in themselves; we’re looking for all types of sub-genre, so for example, hard SF, space opera, cyberpunk, military SF, alternate future history, future crime, time travel, and more. We have no problem if your book mashes together two or more of these genres; in fact, we practically insist upon it.

Our books will be published in all English-language territories — notably the UK, US and Australia — so we’ll be buying rights to cover all those. If you are only offering rights in one territory, we will not be able to deal with you. We will be able to offer e-book and audio versions as standard too, plus limited edition and multiple physical formats where appropriate. We are not contracting any work-for-hire titles; we offer advances and royalties.

Beyond all of this, what we’re really looking for in your writing is this:
• A “voice”, that comes from…
• Confident writing
• Pacy writing
• Characters that live, have real relationships and emotions, even in extreme situations
• A sense of vision, a rounded universe that lives and breathes
• Clever construction, good plotting, a couple of surprises even for us jaded old read-it-alls
• Heightened experience – an intensity, extremity or just a way of treating plot or situation in a way we’ve not come across before. “Goes up to 11″, if you know what that means.

Do all those, and it will be almost irrelevant that your story is one or other sub-set of SF, fantasy or horror!

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Filed under Nourish the Writer, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry

Conquest … (cue the suitably dramatic music)

In October I will be  a guest at the Conquest 2010 Convention. For info on Conquest see here.

There will be:

  • Fan Auction
  • Panels
  • Discussions
  • Competitions
  • On-the-Spot Quizzes and Prizes
  • Separate Dealers’ Room
  • Saturday Night Dinner Event

And for those of you who were at the World Con panel on Pitching and asked when I was doing a workshop, I will be running one on the Sunday at 2pm. So feel free to rock up.

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Filed under Conventions, Fantasy books, Genre, Movies & TV Shows, Nourish the Writer, Pitching your book, The Writing Fraternity, Writing craft

Pitch that Book

If you’re a writer, you probably dream of getting published. I know I did. (And yes, it really does feel as good as you imagine it will, the day the editor rings you up and says ‘I want to publish your book.’)

But it is really hard to get your book past the gate keeper. More publishers are saying they don’t take unagented submissions and it is hard to get busy agents to look at your work.

One way to get your work in front of an agent or an editor is to Pitch your Book at an event specifically designed for this. Pitching opportunities occur at conferences and festivals. On Saturday I ran a Pitching workshop to help people prepare for what can be a very nerve wracking experience. And I promised to provide a list of pitching opportunities. So here they are:

There are online pitching opportunities such as:

Allen and Unwin Friday Pitch

Random House Children’s Pitch

To pitch in person attend conferences. These vary from year to year. I know the Brisbane Writers Festival has had pitching opportunities. So check out your local writers festival and see what they are offering.

National Romance Conference

Childrens and Young Adult Conference

Bundaberg Writers Festival

New York and Algonkian Conferences

Here is a UK agent’s blog dedicated to the art of pitching.

The Pitch Parlour

And keep an eye on the agent and editor blogs. They often offer advice on pitching. Every now and then and agent will announce that they are open to pitches via their blog, so it is worth finding s few you like and following their blogs.

Sydney Literary Agent.

Kristin Nelson from Nelson Literary Agency.

Nathan Bransford from Curtis Brown.

Book Ends Literary Agency.

So that should be enough to get your started. Let me know if you have any questions.

Meanwhile, there were some questions about agents, so I’ve done a post here, for anyone considering approaching an agent.

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Filed under Competitions, Pitching your book, Publishing Industry, The Writing Fraternity, Workshop/s, Writing craft