Category Archives: Writing

2017 Ditmar Ballot Announced

The 2017 Ditmar Awards Ballot has been released, and I think it’s goimg to cause a lot of people some real problems in deciding who gets their vote–talk about a strong list!

I’m delighted to see a number of my friends and mentors on the list and, as always, honoured to see my name mentioned alongside them. I was grateful to be included in some great projects last year, and it’s wonderful to see them recognised

I have shamelessly stolen the full ballot from the official site, and at the end you’ll find the details of how to vote. Regardless of who you vote for, I do think it is important that everyone eligible to vote does so, because the more people engaged with the awards, the more they reflect the whole community.

Good luck to all the nominees, and whether you win or not, congratulations on your well deserved recognition!

The Ditmar subcommittee are pleased to announce that voting for the
Australian SF (“Ditmar”) Award for 2017 is now open, and will remain
open until one minute before midnight Melbourne time on Sunday, 14th of
May, 2017 (ie. 11.59pm, GMT+10).

The 2017 ballot is as follows:

BEST NOVEL
—————————————————————–
The Grief Hole, Kaaron Warren, IFWG Publishing Australia.
The Lyre Thief, Jennifer Fallon, HarperCollins.
Squid’s Grief, D.K. Mok, D.K. Mok.
Vigil, Angela Slatter, Jo Fletcher Books.
The Wizardry of Jewish Women, Gillian Polack, Satalyte Publishing.

BEST NOVELLA/NOVELETTE
—————————————————————–
“All the Colours of the Tomato”, Simon Petrie, in Dimension6 9.
“By the Laws of Crab and Woman”, Jason Fischer, in Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 17, Issue 6.
“Did We Break the End of the World?”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Defying Doomsday, Twelfth Planet Press.
“Finnegan’s Field”, Angela Slatter, in Tor.com.
“Glass Slipper Scandal”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Sheep Might Fly.
“Going Viral”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Dimension6 8.

BEST SHORT STORY
—————————————————————–
“Flame Trees”, T.R. Napper, in Asimov’s Science Fiction, April/May 2016.
“No Fat Chicks”, Cat Sparks, in In Your Face, FableCroft Publishing.
“There’s No Place Like Home”, Edwina Harvey, in AntipodeanSF 221.

BEST COLLECTED WORK
—————————————————————–
Crow Shine by Alan Baxter, Ticonderoga Publications.
Defying Doomsday, Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, Twelfth Planet Press.
Dreaming in the Dark, Jack Dann, PS Publishing.
In Your Face, Tehani Wessely, FableCroft Publishing.

BEST ARTWORK
—————————————————————–
“The Tame Animals of Saturn”, Adam Browne, in The Tame Animals of Saturn, Peggy Bright Books.
illustration, Shauna O’Meara, for Lackington’s 12.

BEST FAN PUBLICATION IN ANY MEDIUM
—————————————————————–
2016 Australian SF Snapshot, Greg Chapman, Tehani Croft, Tsana Dolichva, Marisol Dunham, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Stephanie Gunn, Ju Landéesse, David McDonald, Belle McQuattie, Matthew Morrison, Alex Pierce, Rivqa Rafael, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs and Matthew Summers.
The Coode St Podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan.
Earl Grey Editing Services (blog), Elizabeth Fitzgerald.
Galactic Chat, Alexandra Pierce, David McDonald, Sarah Parker, Helen Stubbs, Mark Webb, and Sean Wright.
Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts.
The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond.

BEST FAN WRITER
—————————————————————–
James ‘Jocko’ Allen, for “My Life in Fanzines”, in SF Commentary 93.
Aidan Doyle, for “The Science Fiction Writer’s Hierarchy of Doubt”
Bruce Gillespie, for “Revelations: My Life, Science Fiction, and Fanzines”, in SF Commentary 93.
Foz Meadows for Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbows.
Tansy Rayner Roberts for “Justice League International”

BEST FAN ARTIST
—————————————————————–
Kathleen Jennings for “Illustration Friday”.

BEST NEW TALENT
—————————————————————–
T. R. Napper
Marlee Jane Ward

WILLIAM ATHELING JR. AWARD FOR CRITICISM OR REVIEW
—————————————————————–

Kat Clay for essays and reviews in “Weird Fiction Review”.
Tehani Croft & Marisol Dunham, for “Revisiting Pern: the great McCaffrey reread” review series.
Tsana Dolichva, for reviews, in Tsana’s Reads and Reviews.
Kate Forsyth, for The Rebirth of Rapunzel: a mythic biography of the maiden in the tower, FableCroft Publishing.
Ian Mond, for reviews, in The Hysterical Hamster.
Alexandra Pierce, for reviews, in Randomly Yours, Alex.
Gillian Polack, for History and Fiction: Writers, their Research, Worlds and Stories, Peter Lang.

Votes can be sent via email to:

ditmars@sf.org.au

Note that some categories include more than five nominees due to
tied nomination numbers, while others include fewer than five nominees,
either because insufficient eligible nominees received the required
minimum number of nominations for the category, or because ties meant
that more than seven nominees would have appeared on the ballot.

If possible, please vote online at:

http://ditmars.sf.org.au/2017

The online voting system provides a passworded facility to adjust your
vote at any time before the close of voting.

Alternatively, votes will be accepted via email to:

ditmars@sf.org.au

Postal ballots will be distributed in the near future.

Voting for the Ditmar Award is conducted in accordance with the rules
specified here, and is open to members of Continuum 13(including supporting members) and to members of Contact 2016 who were eligible to vote in the 2016 Award.

Voting in all award categories is by the optional preferential system, and each
eligible individual may vote only once. All ballots (including emailed
ballots) should include the name and address of the voter. If you have
questions regarding the ballot or voting procedure, please email
ditmars@sf.org.au.

Shiny

My Aussie Spec Fic Snasphot 2016 roundup!

In the mad scramble to get things done before my overseas trip, I forgot to do a roundup post for the Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot! There were a heap of amazing interviews (that you can find by following that link), and I was lucky enough interview some incredibly talented people. I’ve listed the people I interviewed below, but I would encourage you to check out the rest, too.

Oh, and if you get really bored, I was snapshotted, too–by the wonderful Tehani, our fearless leader.

Jane Rawson
Trudi Canavan
Donna Maree Hanson
Chris Large
Jason Fischer
Kat Clay
Michael Pryor
AJ Spedding
Tania Walker
Paul Mannering
Jenny Blackford
Faith Mudge
Abigail Nathan
George Ivanoff
Pete Aldin
Shauna O’Meara
Geoff Brown
Jason Franks
Liz Barr
Paul Collins
Tristan Savage
Kimberly Gaal
Raymond Gates
Amanda Bridgeman
Simon Dewar
TR Napper
Mark Webb
Karen Miller
Keith Stevenson
Angie Rega
Catherine (CS) McMullen
Holly Kench
TB McKenzie
Rochelle Fernandez
Bruce Gillespie
Steve Cameron
Amanda Kool
Mitch (Anthony) Mitchell
Maureen Flynn
Stephanie O’Connell
Gerry Huntman
Jay Kristoff

Aussie Snapshot 2016

My MidAmeriCon II Schedule – it’s Worldcon Time!

I have been so caught up with the Aussie Snapshot that I forgot how close Worldcon is! *freaks out a little*

I am delighted to have been invited to be on a few panels, and I have no doubt I will have a blast when not doing programming.

If you are at the con, and want to catch up, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. And, I am always happy to be approached at a convention, in fact I am far too shy to approach people so that works way better for me!

MY SCHEDULE:

Australian SF
Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Australian SF is largely Anglophone, and often considered part of the Anglo-American tradition. Yet, because of Australia’s physical isolation, the development of the book and literary trade here has been very different and Australian writing has a distinct flavour. It has also been heavily influenced by Aborigines, and there is a growing body of speculative fiction published and written by Aboriginal writers. We discuss the SF works coming from Australia.

Ms Clare McDonald-Sims, Mr David McDonald, Mr Jonathan Strahan, Miss Amanda Bridgeman

Writing Tie-Ins
Friday 19:00 – 20:00, 2208 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Tie-ins aren’t novelizations, and they’re not adaptations. So, what are they and what purpose do they serve? Moreover, what effect might they have on the source material? Panelists discuss tie-ins and how they affect the universe that they are set in.

David Boop, Jason Heller, Christopher Kastensmidt, Mr David McDonald

The Build-A-World Game Show
Friday 21:00 – 22:00, 2503A (Kansas City Convention Center)

The Build-a-World Game Show is a live action worldbuilding game designed and run by Monica Valentinelli. Two teams of panelists compete to build a fantastic world in under an hour for fun and prizes. The Build-a-World Game Show incorporates audience participation, takes place in three rounds, and results in a fan-voted winner!

Ms. Monica Valentinelli, Tex Thompson, Mr David McDonald, Martha Wells, Catherine Lundoff

Dialog in Game of Thrones: Great Storytelling through Ordinary Conversations
Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, 2207 (Kansas City Convention Center)

A single word can convey pages of subtext when it’s the right word. The Game of Thrones television series does an exceptional job of using dialog to convey character, mood, historical context, themes, narrative arcs, and more within some of the simplest (and yet most revealing) conversations. Panelsts discuss some of their favorite moments of dialog from the series and the impact that these exchanges have on the characters and viewers alike.

Charlaine Harris, Erin Underwood, Mr David McDonald, Toni L. P. Kelner

Aussie Snapshot 2016: our own little census

The Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot has taken place five times in the past 11 years. In 2005, Ben Peek spent a frantic week interviewing 43 people in the Australian spec fic scene, and since then, it’s grown every time, now taking a team of interviewers working together to accomplish.

From August 1 to August 14 2016, this year’s team of interviewers have their turn. Greg Chapman, Tsana Dolichva, Marisol Dunham, Nick Evans, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Stephanie Gunn, Ju Landéesse, David McDonald, Belle McQuattie, Matthew Morrison, Alex Pierce, Rivqa Rafael, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Matthew Summers and Tehani Wessely scoured the country (and a bit beyond) to bring you this year’s Snapshot.

You can follow all the action here at the Snapshot site, via Twitter @AustSFSnapshot or on Facebook, and follow our interviewing team to keep up with all the happenings!

You can find the past five Snapshots at the following links: 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014.

Aussie Snapshot 2016

In conversation with Alan Baxter

To celebrate the release of Alan Baxter’s trilogy (the Alex Caine Series), I asked him a few questions about this funny old game called writing…

How does your background in martial arts affect your writing?

It’s taught me discipline and focus. I’m slowly making notes for a book on the subject, in fact, as the parallels are legion. But being good at anything requires dedication – that’s focus and discipline above all else.

Over the course of your writing career, you have experimented with numerous media, from game writing to podcasting, and different distribution models, from self publishing to big name publishing. What are some of the differences you have noticed? How important is it for writers to be flexible and open to different methods?

There are so many differences, it would take an essay just to touch on them all. But in short, there are all kinds of pros and cons with all of them. No one way is perfect. I think, especially in this day and age, that it’s important for a writer to be open to different methods. We’re seeing more and more people achieve success with the hybrid model (which means some traditional publishing and some self-publishing). I definitely fit into that model and think it’s been valuable for me. It’s also important to consider a variety of different income streams to make a career. If you score a good deal with a big publisher, that’s fantastic, but if that publisher goes down they can take your career with them. At least if your career is diversified over various publishers, various media, you can always have protection if any one thing stops working. And stuff is slow in publishing, so a variety of things means hopefully always having something happening.

Bound

Are there some things that stay the same, or relevant, across the board?

Quality. Regardless of what methods you choose, the simple fact of the matter is that you must have a quality manuscript. You must put out your best work. Of course, we all know about the really successful utter shit that gets published and makes its author a squillionaire, but the simple fact is that while the thing may be subjectively (or even objectively!) terrible, there’s something about it that works for readers. There’s a reason it’s doing so well, and while it may not be quality the way we perceive it, it is perceived value for all those fans. So whatever you’re doing, don’t worry about anyone else’s stuff, just make yours as good as it can possibly be.

Obsidian

How important is social media, or has been, to your success?

It’s very important these days. You can make a career without it, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that. And even if an author isn’t very active on social media, the activity of that author’s fans and readers is essential to continued growth. People are paying more attention to recommendations via social media than pretty much any other source now, so it’s important to be in it in some way. BUT! If you don’t like it, if you don’t enjoy it and can’t act like yourself, don’t do it. There’s no point in forcing yourself and faking it, because people see through that in an instant and you’re wasting your time. I really enjoy the engagement of social media, so for me it’s fun and it definitely helps.

Abduction

What’s one mistake you’ve made as a writer that you would warn new or upcoming writers against?

Only one? Man, that’s a tough question. I don’t want to admit to any mistakes! I’m sure I’ve made plenty, but thankfully nothing so far that’s been devastating for me. I think it’s just important to always work hard, to always learn and try to get better, to always be a decent person to work with. If you constantly strive for those things, everything else should slowly fall into place.

Alan

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter andFacebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Continuum XII – Stranger than Fiction

If you’re in Melbourne this weekend, you should come and check out Continuum XII – Melbourne’s very own spec fic convention. From the website:

Continuum is an annual fan run speculative fiction and pop culture convention. From sci-fi to epic fantasy and everything in between, Continuum 12 will celebrate the theme “Stranger Than Fiction”. Continuum runs every year on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. In 2016 the convention will be held between June 10-13.

Run by fans for fans, Continuum features a great line up of writers and creative artists in the heart of Australia’s most artistic city, Melbourne. The guests of honor at the next convention will be Queenie Chan and Kylie Chan.

Friday night is gold coin donation if you want to get a cheap taste, but be warned–it’s unlikely you can stop at one night!

I will be there all weekend, and I am on a number of panels (see below). Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 10
7:30pm
Continuum 101
Tesla, 7:30pm – 8pm
Tags: Panel

New to Continuum? Come chat to Continuum veterans about what to expect and how to get the most out of your convention

10pm
Batman vs. Superman
Tesla, 10pm – 11pm
Tags: Panel, Movies

Enjoyed by some, reviled by others, and with a Rotten Tomatoes score only 2% higher than Green Lantern, BvS has had a rather mixed reception. What happened? Is Batfleck a worthy successor and just how badass is Wonder Woman? Warning: SPOILERS (Duh)

Saturday, June 11
10am
Books That Changed My Life
Granger, 10am – 11am
Tags: Panel

Join us for a discussion of works that had a profound effect on the panellists’ lives.

2pm
Religion vs. Science vs. Philosophy
Tesla, 2pm – 3pm

Most future works tend to avoid the issue, but can they co-exist? Does religion have a place in the far future and can different ideologies truly co-exist?

Sunday, June 12
5pm
Building a Dramatic Fight Scene
Curie, 5pm – 6pm

How do you write a great fight scene? What does it take to make it believable? Come hear some practical tips and watch your moves and techniques demonstrated by some experienced fighters

Monday, June 13
1pm
The Author is a Jerk!
Granger, 1pm – 2pm
Tags: Panel

How do the personal opinions and actions of an author affect the reception of their work and do we really care? Should an author’s personal and professional lives remain separate or should we boycott problematic authors?

Paying for Our Passion – Pete Aldin

In this series of guest posts, I have asked a number of writers and editors to share the price they pay for pursuing their creative passion or what they sacrifice–whether that is money, time or lost opportunities. It might be how they pay the bills that writing doesn’t, or how they juggle working for a living or raising a family with the time it takes to write or edit. The people who have contributed have shared their personal stories in the hope it might help those new to the scene manage their expectations, or help others dealing with similar things realise they aren’t alone. You can read about the inspiration for this series here, and if you want to be part of it please let me know.

I’ve known Pete Aldin almost as long as I have been actively writing–I met him at one of the few first few conventions I went to, and ever since he has been a huge supporter of my writing career.. Pete is one of those guys who keeps quietly in the background, but doesn’t miss much. He is first to be there with congratulations, but also with an encouraging word just when people need it. He’s a very talented writer, but you’d never hear that from him–he would rather talk about the work of others than his own. It’s safe to say that the writing world–and the world in general–would be a better place if we had more blokes like Pete, and I am really happy to have him on board today.

Some blokes build a boat in their backyard. Some work on their handicap over 18 holes. Some tinker with cars. This gives them peace, and meaning, and a skillset that affirms them.

I write.

Ten years ago (almost to the day), I was turning 40 and I decided it was now or never. I’d had this dream since I was 13 years old to walk into a bookstore, look on a shelf, and see a book there with my name on the spine. And so at 40, I put legs on the dream (and fingers on the keyboard).

I started putting words on pages, meeting other writers, learning to critique and be critiqued, and so on and so on.

A passion was born. An obsession formed. An addiction slid its warm hooks into my soul.

We all pay for our passions, our addictions, our obsessions.

B is for Broken

I’ve paid in time lost with friends and family. I’ve paid in the usual author-trope of self-doubt and self-flagellation. I’ve paid in late nights.

I’ve also paid for it financially, hiring a writing coach in the early days, paying for books on writing, seminars on writing. The trickle of money that’s come from selling stories hasn’t reached anywhere close to the costs of writing them.

I am blessed to have a wife and kids who trust me. Who believe in what I do. Who’ve seen that this obsession actually staves off my other mental illnesses. They’ve backed me to work a four-day week for several years so that I can have one day to write.

And here’s the rub. That one day each week is a sacrifice. It’s holy (a word which means devoted, set apart). And I’ve been often irked when people find out I’m not working on that day and assume I’m “free.” (Lee Murray mentioned this in her own recent post on the subject).

igms

“You’re not working this Wednesday, are you? We should catch up,” they say. “Hey Pete, you’re free this Monday; drive over to my work and we’ll have a coffee on my teabreak.” “Hey, Pete, you have Thursdays off. You can drive me to my medical appointment.”

When I try to tell them that I am working on that day, that I’m working on a novel draft, I get that awkward pause that comes when something simply does not compute. Stuttering eyelids. Twitching lips. A fading smile. Then, I suggest Saturday and invariably get the Oh-sorry-but-I-have-something-on responses. And, understanding soul that I am, I think “So it’s fine for me to lose time doing what’s important to me, but it’s not okay for you.”

Oh, sure, I forgive them, for they know not what they do. But I’m bloody well not taking anyone to the airport this coming writing day, lol.

Deathsmith

I think this has been the biggest challenge for me: to protect that writing day and use it wisely. As much as I’d like to blame the intrusions of others into it, I am much more to blame for any time-wasting that might have happened. I am the Great Procrastinator, Doom Looper, New-Music-Hunter. It’s all to let my other job’s admin creep into my home office on a non-work day.

But I must protect that time and I must use it wisely.

To use this holy time for anything but writing is disrespectful above all to my wife who has encouraged my writing day and made her own sacrifices; I’d be better to take an extra day’s pay a week, climb the career ladder, save up for that holiday my wife deserves.

A Canadian author once told me that over his first decade, his writing cost him all his friends and at least one girlfriend. But it had been worth it in the end: he’d made new friends, he’d found the right partner, and people were reading his writing.

I’m grateful. That my wife lets me write. That I do have great friends, many of whom I have met through my writing. That people are reading my writing.

Art is important. And important things cost.

Pete Aldin

Pete Aldin has been writing stories since he was a kid. A few years ago, he finally decided to take himself seriously, and finishing some.

Pete lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife, two sons and their small yappy dog. His addictions include alcoholic ciders, Fallout 4 and the FIFA franchise on Xbox. He doesn’t like pina colada nor taking walks in the rain.

He can be found lurking in the shadows at www.petealdin.com .

Writing Achievement Unlocked – I’m now a SFWA Active Member!

Most writers like to talk about writing more than actually doing it (I know I do!). One of the things that sometimes comes up is the goals we have, or the targets we have set for ourselves. A lot of writers have a list of things they want to acheive, things that act as a measuring stick, a way of feeling like we are making some progress with this crazy writing game, even if it’s only a little bit.

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to tick a few of those things of my list this year, and today I was finally able to cross off a big one–I am now an Active Member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America!

When I first started writing, and thinking about what I wanted to achieve and how to get there, that was one of the first goals I set myself. To me, because it has requirements based on sales, it has always seemed like a pretty good indicator of having reached a certain level. Not all professional writers are in SFWA, and it doesn’t mean that you have reached some sort of finish line, but the standards required to meet their criteria does indicate that you have managed to cross a certain threshold.

I’ve worked hard on my writing for a long time now, and come very close to a professional sale a number of times only to fall short, so this feels like I have really achieved something.

There is no denying SFWA has faced a number of challenges over the years, even during the relatively short time in the scheme of things that I have been paying attention. But, when I look at everything it does for its members, the people involved giving of their time and energy to improve the scene, and the names of those I will get to rub shoulders with (even just virtually), I am really excited and happy to have made it to this pont.

Now for my next goal!

SFWAcolor