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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Conflux Day 4

Yes, this is a day late. I was just exhausted after the train trip back to Sydney, and today I've been catching up with family.

So, just quickly, day 4 of Conflux 9 was just as great as the others, maybe better.

First, I went to a workshop on writing children's books run by Dawn Meredith. I almost didn't go (8am Sunday start time), but I'm very glad I did. I was brilliant and I learnt far more than I would ever had thought I needed to learn about children's book writing.

After that I went to a very nice panel on mentoring and wonderful stories of how well it works from a panel who had been on both sides of the relationship.

Then it was the big event. For me anyway. The launch of the paper back version of In fabula-divino. The book was launch by Peter Ball, of the Australian Writers Marketplace, who had to stand in at the last minute, and did a wonderful job. It was a great launch, Nicole Murphy, the editor, spoke, I spoke, we sold some books and I faced my, deep seeded, fear of signing autographs and over came it. Remember, you can buy In Fabula-divino online right now, and as a paper back very soon.

I then went to the Natcon Business Meeting and found out that Spec Fic business meeting are just like all other business meetings, but I put my hand up anyway.

The last panel a attended was a showcase of new authors. there were three authors with new or soon to be released books and they were all nice.

I then had to leave early to catch my train, so I missed the closing ceremony.

Finally, Cat Sparks has once again taken my picture while aiming for someone else. To see it follow this link

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Conflux Day 3

An other great day at Conflux 9 over, here are some of today's high lights:

A great workshop about creating vivid characters with author Karren Miller. I also had a coffee with her, and some other ladies, and learnt some interesting things.

An informative panel on writing communities.

Richard Harland reading from
his new book
Song of the Sums
The book launch of Richard Harland's latest novel, "Song of the Slums". There is a great video trailer for the book on You Tube.

Another informative panel, this time about fantasy world building.

The Ditmar awards, which is the Australian, popular vote, awards for Spec Fic writing and some other stuff. I won't go into all the awards, but i will mention one. the best new talent award was won by David McDonald. I mention this one because David's a friend and I'm very happy for him.Ii'm very happy for all the other winners as well, I just don't really know, only know them a little.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Conflux Day 2

I have survived the second day of Conflux, just. I'm wondering how I'm going to do two more days. the conference is really good, but I'm so tired.

The first thing today was a workshop (starting at 8am!) on polishing your stories. It was a very partical workshop and I learnt so much. But the extra work I now think I've got to put into my stories leaves my lazy side in tears.

Next was a small press vs big press smack down panel, that wasn't a smack down. Everyone got alone and said that there's a place for both. But it was a good panel.

There was a book launch at morning tea.

After morning tea I went to a publishers shown case, where only two of the three publishers were there. the third had just had a book launch, so I guess they were busy. The time listening to the two who were there was extremely valuable.

I than went to a panel on, I thought, The politics of steampunk. as I only want to say good things, I'll say that my respect for author Richard Harland, while was already high, was greatly increased by the end of this panel.

After lunch there was an interview with Angry Robot (a publisher) boss Marc Gascoigne. He was funny and very interesting to listen to.

I then took part in a reading session from the anthology In Fabula-divino. I read my whole story from the book. We were on at the same time as a book launch, but we still had a small group come and listen. I will be part of the launch of the book on Sunday.

This was followed by to really great panels, Contracts and Copyright & The business of writing. They were so good that just going to them is enough to make the whole trip worth it.

The last thing, for me, was the launch of the csfg Publishing anthology, 'Next".
The book has thirty stories and about twenty of the authors were there. So, anyone who bought the book, like me, got to line up and have all the authors, and the editors, sign the book.

There were some more night session, but I'm just so Tired, I'm going to bed.

Good night.

Conflux day 1

I made it to Conflux, I got into my Steampunk costume, let the fun begin.

The first thing I attended was the Steampunk High Tea. There were lots of great costumes, (see examples below) far to much food and some friendly conversation.

I then went a panel on pitching stories and found out that it was like a job interview. I hate job interviews, what am I going to do?

Next was a book launch. i was right at the back and couldn't hear or see anything. I talked to some of the others in the same situation.

At the Opening Ceremony I learnt that my 'Evil Overlord' name is Daphne Bashisheadin. I like the name Daphne.

At the Cocktail party I drank water and had something to eat.

I went to a panel about life transitions in Specfic and learn about the rebirth rituals of Native Americans. It was interesting.

My last panel was about the importance of editing. I learnt at lot, but my editor has cut it from this blog.

My first attempt to take a picture of myself in a mirror.

Two people in great costumes.

The costume winner, the five runners up and a little girl dressed as a fairy.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Radar Love Journal Entry 3

Well, I failed to reach my first target, completing the first draft before I leave for Conflux 9. I've only written 2,500 words and I leave for Cunflux in just a few hours.

What do I do? Make a new first target, complete the first draft in time to start reading it to my writing group on the 2nd of May. This will put me back on target. You can read about my plan and targets here.

In the mean time I'm off to Conflux and I'm hoping to journal it here at the end of each day. There is a chance I might get to lazy, I mean tired to do it everyday. Sadly, I get there to late to make the first lot of workshops, so the first event I will be attending is the Steampunk High Tea. Below is a preview of my Steampunk outfit, It's my go at a Steampunk outfit, I hope it's okay.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

In Fabula-divino - the launch

In one week, 28 April 2013, I will be at Conflux 9 and helping to launch the paper back version of In Fabula-divino. It will be the first time that I do a public reading of my own work. Exciting!

Below are some details.

Take eight authors, work them like they’ve never been worked before and what do you get?

Working for the devil, running from zombies, talking your way out of a throat slashing…

The In Fabula-divino project – eight months of mentoring, editing and publishing.

Those eight stories are joined by four tales from some of the biggest names in speculative fiction: Kevin J Anderson & Rebecca Moesta, Trudi Canavan, Angela Slatter and Kaaron Warren.

You’ll be entranced, entertained and inspired.

And maybe even find your own halo…
With original stories by:
Holly Kench
Tony Owens
Lily Ariser
Joseph W Patterson
Janett L Grady
SG Larner
AE Decker
PJ Keuning

To be launched by Russell Kirkpatrick at 11am, Sunday April 28 at Conflux 9, Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra.

Lucky door prize on offer for someone, plus the opportunity to buy one of the prettiest books you’ll ever see.

You can buy the eBook right now, go to here for details.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Radar Love Journal Entry 2

Once again I joined the writers race on Facebook; organized by 'The Australian Writer's Marketplace online'. I helped me to write another 500+ words for my story, Radar Love. All together, I am now just over 2,000 words into the story. Based on my original schedule (which can be found here) I'm half way into the story with one week to finish. That was based on my belief that the story would be 4,000 words long. However, my current estimate of it's length is more like 6,000+ words. If I'm right about this new estimate, I have 4,000 words to right in one week to make my first goal of finishing before I leave for Conflux 9. The last time I wrote that many words in a week was in college in the early 90's writing essays. Back then I would sometimes go for two days with sleep to get an essay finished in time. I was much younger, and did not have children back then.

Below in my favourite bit from the writing race:

'This is the first time I have ever changed from my uniform at work. I have memorised the way to Blue Eye’s rooms, but there is no need. His man is waiting for me; he escorts me from door to door. I almost do not notice the people sitting on lounges, the windows behind them are huge, from floor to ceiling, all I can see is blue sky. 
  ‘Chris, wonderful that you can make it.’ I notice Blue Eyes for the first time, as he stands and gives a slight bow. ‘May I introduce my mother, Lady Frothingham, and my sister Miss Isabelle Frothingham.’ They both nod in my direction, neither rise or speak. Lady Frothingham is the oldest looking woman I have ever seen. Not weak old, but old like steel. She sits perfectly straight, a magnificent head of grey hair, every strand in place. Her eyes meet mine, unwavering, I feel like she is examining my very soul. I quickly avert my eyes.'

Some of the other writers complemented me on the very visual language in the piece. Two of them sighted the phrase, 'old like steel' as being very visual. I like it as well.   

Sunday, 14 April 2013

In Fabula-divino Blog Hop

Welcome the In Fabula-divino blog hop.

In anticipation of the paper back launch of the anthology, ‘In Fabula-divino’ in two weeks at Conflux 9 the authors have got together to answer five In Fabula questions about the incredible experience that was the In Fabula-divino. (The eBook version has already been released; you can go to the ‘In Fabula-divino’ for the details.)

Today, I have Holly Kench the author of ‘The Secret Diary of a Zombie Fan’. (There is a sneak peak of her story after the interview.)

Welcome to The Rick Blog.

Great to be here Rick.

Are you ready to kill zombies...I mean...answer ‘Five In Fabula Questions’?

Ready for both, Rick.

1.         What was your inspiration for the story?
Like most zombie fans, I have spent a little too much time discussing and devising a zombie apocalypse survival plan. My sister and I have passed many a night huddled in front of zombie movies, assuring ourselves that we would handle an approaching wave of zombies with far more sense and success than any of the gun wielding war heroes, super human chicks, or ostensibly geeky body builders that wandered our screens. When I saw the In Fabula-divino call for submissions, I decided it was time I wrote a story about how two girls, like my sister and I, might actually manage if zombies turned up at their door.

2.         How different has the In Fabula-divino journey been from what you expected when you first submitted your story?
I didn’t expect my story to be accepted, so that was a surprise. Other than that I had very few expectations, but I was surprised by what a great time I had during the mentorship process. Nicole has a wicked sense of humour and understands my nerdy references, so we got along really well. I had a lot of fun bombarding her with questions and thrived on her answers.

3.         What is the best thing about having your story in this anthology?
It is always an amazing feeling to know that someone enjoys my writing. For Nicole to like The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan enough to include it in the In Fabula-divino anthology was incredibly exciting.

4.         Is there anything scary about having your story in the anthology?
There’s no room for fear when confronting the zombie apocalypse, I mean, when getting a story published!

5.         What was the most important thing you learnt during the In Fabula-divino process?
Definitely how to be a more conscious and reflective editor of my own work. Being able to look at someone else’s work and spot the flaws is one thing, but Nicole showed me how to do the same with my own writing. I used to be one of those people who would scribble out what they intended to be the final version on the first go. Now I still don’t particularly enjoy editing my own stories, but I value the drafting and editing process, and look forward to seeing how I can improve my work with each edit. Imagine that! Editing makes your work better – who knew?

Thanks Holly, it was great to have you drop by so I could, sorry...pick your brains.

Rick, are you a zombie?

Please continue the In Fabula-divino blog hop by hopping over to Holly’s blog, ‘Confessions of a Stuffed Olive’, where she interviews In Fabula-divino author S G Larner.

Speak Peak
Holly Kench

“Shit,” my sister muttered as she pulled her boyfriend through the front door and slammed it shut. “Grab the bags, Harper. It’s happening.”
“What’s happening?” I asked, irritated by her tone of voice. It was hardly the greeting I expected after she had been away for two weeks. I hadn’t seen another human for days, having decided to write off social contact in favour of getting some work done. I’d been looking forward to some sister bonding and a Resident Evil marathon on her return. Instead she turned up with bossy, cryptic orders.
“The apocalypse.” Ellie threw her arms in the air.
“Don’t be a dick,” I said.
In response, she pulled open the front blind. “Take a look, Harper, and then get a move on.”
She was right. Outside my window were four zombies, walking stiltedly yet determinedly towards my front door.
“What the—”
“Yes, exactly,” said Ellie. “So grab the f___ing bags and let’s go.”
Watching the zombies approach, I wasn’t surprised. I was horrified, even a little exhilarated; but I wasn’t surprised. Ellie and I had always suspected the zombie apocalypse would one day eventuate.
We’d never been convinced about vampires. The idea that a group of super-human anaemics were living in castle basements never seemed plausible. Zombies, on the other hand… We would have put money on someone, somewhere, messing around in a lab with a virus that would eventually lead to the downfall of the human race.

Author Bio:
Holly Kench is a writer and feminist, with a classics degree and a fear of spiders. She enjoys writing fantasy and humour, and is convinced we can change the world through popular culture. Holly writes about her life as a stuffed olive at and manages "Visibility Fiction" for the promotion and publication of inclusive young adult fiction at

More In Fabula-divino blog hop interviews can be seen at, Forgo Reality and SmallTriumphs. You can also buy ‘In Fabula-divino’ as an eBook right now at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Radar Love Journal Entry 1

I'm aiming to finish the first draft of my new short story "Radar Love" by the 24th April, two weeks from now. I started it a week ago and have written 820 words so far. I'm expecting the story to be at least 4000 words, so I've still got a lot to write in the next two weeks. My full schedule for the completion of this story can be found here.

The story got a boost tonight when I took part in a writers race on Facebook. This was organized by 'The Australian Writer's Marketplace online'. Basically, a bunch of writers get on the Facebook page at the same time, tell each other what they will try to write in the next hour and go for it. It was a great experience and I wrote more than 500 in an hour. Something like a miracle for me.

Here is an extract of what I wrote tonight: "We are waiting for our guest. Mother has put me in her favourite dress of mine, the one I hate the most, white and fluffy, and covered in frills. The twins are in their suits, squirming under the restraints of a tie and suspenders. Mother and Father, as always, dressed in their Sunday best. We all stand in the hall and wait for the knock. It finally comes."

I know I will have to write a lot more than 500 words each Wednesday, but participating in the race really lifted me. I'm definitely going to give it another go. The race is on each Wednesday at 9 pm Australian Eastern Time. If you write, why not join in?

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Backworlds: A Review

I've been reading  scifi and fantasy (or spec fic) for about 40 years, but have mean basically ignorant of most of the genre until I started to write recently. For instance, I had no idea of self publishing and how much self published spec fic there is out there.

The Backworlds is the first self published book that I have ever read. I wan to say up front it was a good experience.

The Backworlds is the first in a series by M. Pax, who has a great blog which can be found here. You can get it for free as an ebook, which makes it a very good buy.

This is the blurb from the web site:

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son.Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

As an intro book it's quite good. The plot line is a bit predicable at times, and some twists seemed to convenient, but I still enjoyed the story. The style makes me wonder if it's target is young adults. M. Pax does have another book out that is promoted as Young Adult, but there's nothing to say that The Backworlds is.

I found its simplicity is charming, and I'm interested enough in the characters, and their universe  that I'm going to buy the next book in the series. I would class The Backworlds as good light reading, enjoyably pleasant. The over all standard is the same, or in some cases better than, as a work from a main stream publisher. I'm looking forward to trying more self published stuff in the future.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Learning to Write Short Stories

Ticonderoga Publications has opened a reading period for a new themed anthology with the working title, ‘Kisses byClockwork’. The name gives a clue to the theme, steampunk with a bit of romance. I’ve only read a little steampunk, and enjoyed it, but had never considered writing any. As for romance, not my style, not reading, not writing, not in any way. However, when I read the line, There might be stories of airships, gaslight romance, retro-futurism, post-apocalyptic steam-powered cities, analytical engines or neo-Victorian ladies and gentlemen. the brain kicked into over drive and ‘Radar Love’ was conceived. I’m gunna write me a steampunk short story about, love, airships and Morse code.
Airship Battle by Spiked McGrath.

When I decided to take a serious tilt at writing about 18 months ago, short stories seemed, to me, to be the right place to start. With no idea, I blundered along, trying to learn as I go, and I have written three short stories (One has recently been published in an anthology and one got a prize in an international writing contest, blowing my own trumpet here.) with no idea how to properly plan and produce a short story.
Thanks to a lot of reading, the short story panel at the recent NSW Writers’ Centre Specfic Festival and some excellent blog posts by Zena Shapter, I now hope I’ve got some idea how to properly plan and produce a short story. So, here is my plan for Radar Love.

First: Finish the first draft by the 24th of April, the day before I go the Conflux 9.

Second: Take it to my writing group for their feedback, this will most likely be just after Conflux 9, and edit accordingly. As my gut is telling me that the story is going to be about 4000 words, the group will most likely read it over two weeks.

Third: Let it sit until the end of May, and then edit again.

Fourth: Send to some beta-readers. I have a couple of people who beta read for me, I need more. Edit accordingly.

Fifth: Let it sit for two more weeks and go through it again, reading it out loud and letting my wife give it the once over.

Sixth: Submit, hopefully, sometime in July. The cut-off date is 15 October, so I’ve got a buffer if more time/work is needed.

If all this goes to plan, if the story is about 4000 words and if it gets accepted for the anthology, I will be paid about $100 for all this work (they’re offering 2.5c a word). I guess one would have to ask, is it worth it?


I want to write, I need to learn, and even if the story is never published I’ll learn so much from this that it will be worth every minute spent.

I’m going to journal this, a post every two weeks or so, please come back and see how I’m going.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Blood and Dust: A Review

I want to start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. However, I want to say right up front that there were some things that I didn’t like. I didn’t enjoy the graphic sex; I also didn’t enjoy the graphic language. I’m sure that I’m most likely in the minority, and it may be argued that they are an essential part of the story, but I could live without it. The thing that is very interesting, to me, is that the graphic violence didn’t worry me. What does this say about me?

Now, what makes this book great? Great story, great characters, great backdrop, great mythology, it’s a real page turner; a very compelling book.

I think Jason has done a great job on his vampire mythology. With the rise popularity of vampires have come dramatic changes in the mythology. I my opinion vampires, in many cases, have become too easy. They’ve lost their sense of tragedy and, in many cases, become mere supernatural super beings that just happen to (mostly) have to keep out of the sun and drink some blood. Part of the loss of angst is the divesting of the religious element. It’s not surprising that this has happened, but the loss of the ‘cursed by God’ element really weakened the vampire legend. Many vampires stopped being conflicted cursed beings or total monsters.

Jason has succeeded in bringing back the angst, and did it without any religious elements. He did this with an idea of life streams, which I think is brilliant. The book is full of conflicted cursed beings and some total monsters, which is just great.

This was my first horror novel, although I don’t know if I would call it horror. (More like a supernatural action thriller.) Perhaps it’s the graphic sex and language?;)

Jason Hahrung’s books are all well featured in all the current Australian award nomination lists right now and based on this book he deserves recognition. I want to read more of Jason’s work.