Walking and wordage for spring challenges

In September, I’ve got two -thons happening: one charitable, one creative.

The first is Steptember (thanks, Ellen, for inviting me to the team), raising money to help people with cerebral palsy.

It kicks off on 3 September, with a goal of taking 10,000 steps a day till the end of the month. The daily average is 3000, we’re told. A trial run yesterday revealed some disparity in our pedometers, but what the hey. It gets me out of the chair and maybe does someone else some good, too.

If you’d like to donate, you can do so here

The other distance effort for the month is Writers Victoria’s #30kin30days program, which, as the name applies, set a goal of 1000 words a day for 30 days.

I’ve written bugger all this year, just a few bits of flash fiction since the PhD was signed, sealed and delivered, so I thought this might be a good way to jar the creative synapses out of their stupor.

I’ve chosen a project that’s been hanging around for a very long indeed, and while I’m not expecting to roll 1k a day, I will be very happy to have a solid outline and some scenes drafted by the end of the month.

The program started on 1 September, with a prompt to work out WHEN the story is set. Excellent, I had that in my head, but the prompt called for a room description to conjure the era, and that led to a short scene (250 words on the V/Line; hello again, my office between offices!).

You can join in or follow along on Twitter.

2 September’s prompt was to make a list of 10 locations and then go to town fleshing out one of them. Well, I have a road map for my story, so I’m going to see how I go at selecting key locations and working up their significant details, including smells and time of year (thanks, prompt!), over the next couple of days.

 

Reading the Lifeline at Words in Winter

If all the world’s a stage, then we’re breaking down the big show into bite-sized acts. Five-minute acts, in fact, each one themed on a decade in a lifetime.

I’m joining four fellow Ballaratians to present Reading the Lifeline: an exquisite corpse as part of the Daylesford Words in Winter festival under the auspices of Words Out Loud.

Each of the five writers has been assigned two decades in a lifetime, round robin style, but there’s a catch – the last line of each piece must be the first line of the piece that follows, including that of the very last reading.

With Rebecca Fletcher, Kirstyn McDermott, Megan Riedl and Zoe Werner, I’ll be peeling back the layers of human life, a decade at a time, while celebrating the connections between us all.

Reading the Lifeline is on Saturday 17 August at 6pm at the Daylesford Hotel, 2 Burke Square. $5 entry. There will be chapbooks available so you can revisit the exquisite corpse ‘in the flesh’. All welcome.

Graduation – the latest milestone

Picture by Kirstyn McDermottHere I am in my bonnet and gown, marking graduation from The University of Queensland with a doctorate in creative writing.

Thirty years ago, I was lining up about this time of year in Rockhampton to mark graduation from what is now the University of Central Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts. And in 2008 came a Masters in creative writing from QUT – no ceremony for that one.

My mum died in 1992 and we farewelled Dad at a service on July 18, but their spirits were very much with me at UQ on July 19. Farming folk with limited educations, they were determined I would have the opportunities they had not.

My doctoral thesis was entitled “Watermarks: Science Fiction, Mitigation and the Mosaic Novel Structure in Australian Climate Fiction” and this is the dedication from it:

In a letter published in 1981, my mother, Loma Nahrung, wrote, “I love the wet season—which should be around January through to March, but of late they have not been so predictable … the climate seems to be changing” (White and Nahrung 139). I often wonder what this farmer would have thought of our current state of affairs. This thesis is dedicated to my mother and father, Frank, neither of whom were able to celebrate this achievement, but without whose support, encouragement and sacrifice I would not have made it this far.

So here I am, without them, but they are very much with me.

The gathering of the clans for Dad’s service, and having three friends graduate alongside me with family members in the audience, and then the coming together of family and friends to celebrate afterwards — I am further reminded I am not alone in this journey. (I love you all.)

Where to from here, I wonder. Wherever, we go together, and that’s what matters.

Mum, Dad and me at graduation in 1989.

Slither makes the Australian Shadows shortlist

Australian Shadows shortlist for horror short stories

Cthulhu Deep Down Under Vol 2Very pleased indeed to learn last night that ‘Slither’, my short story in Cthulhu Deep Down Under Vol 2, has been named a finalist in the Australian Shadows awards for best horror short story, alongside some very fine talent.

This follows on from an Aurealis nomination in the same category — go you little story! I found one of the early drafts of it just this week when I was looking for something nice and family-friendly to read at Clunes Booktown on Sunday (nup, have to wing it) — 2003. That’s how long it took me to get it right.

Kind of a horror story, kind of an alternative history, definitely an ode to my father. I’m very pleased this story has been noticed in this way, because it means a lot.

Congratulations to everyone who made the final running – it’s an achievement in itself!

Read the full list of finalists here.

The awards will be presented at the Continuum convention in Melbourne on June 7-10.

You can read more about ‘Slither’ here.
 

Wild Readings in Brisbane and a group hug

Wild Readings reading event in BrisbaneI emerge from the three-and-a-half-year cocoon that has been the PhD* to catch up with a bunch of pals, and what a better way to do it than at a reading.

I’m grateful to be asked to share some words in my old stomping ground of Brisbane, at Wild Readings on Tuesday 20 November. It’ll probably be an excerpt from one of the thesis stories — climate change in Brisbane, seems to fit — but it might be a palate cleanser from the past, too. I dunno yet.

I’m keen to hear what other people are doing, and of course, just enjoy the vibe of being in a room of writers.

I’ll be kicking around Brissie for a couple of days with not much to do other than catch up with people, so drop me a line if you’re at a loose end.

Wild Readings is at Mu’ooz, 54 Mollison Street, West End, 6.30pm for 7-8pm. Free.

Here are the Facebook details for Wild Readings — I hope to see some familiar faces there!
 
* The thesis has been submitted. Just waiting for the examiners’ reports now, so the fingernails won’t be regrowing anytime soon.

Heading to Continuum for a climate disaster or two

continuum convention logoSpeculative fiction convention Continuum runs at Melbourne’s Jasper Hotel June 8-11 (gosh, that’s starting tomorrow!), and I’ll be heading along to talk about climate change (as well as many other things, no doubt, but officially: climate change).

The guests of honour are Alison Evans and my fellow climate fiction writer and researcher Cat Sparks, so that’s excitement enough right there.

This year the convention has added a Deep Dive stream, in which folks give (mostly) 20-minute talks on topics of interest. I’m presenting some research from my PhD-in-progress outlining the mosaic approaches of three Australian SF climate fictions (Sue Isle’s Nightsiders, James Bradley’s Clade, and Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming). Other dives include body horror, convict women in Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), the metaphorical use of monsters, and Cat’s talk on ecocatastrophe and Anthropocene fiction, to name a few.

I’m also on a panel on the Friday night talking about climate science and climate fiction, and the state we’re in.

Day tickets are available for the convention, which celebrates pop culture, geekdom, fandom and speculative fictions in all their forms. Visit the Continuum website to find out more.

We have launch: Shadows on the Wall by Steven Paulsen

Steve Paulsen launches his collection Shadows on the Wall

Steve and Kirstyn


 
Kirstyn and I were stoked to be asked to launch Steve Paulsen‘s Shadows on the Wall, a collection of 14 spooky, at times extremely poignant, occasionally funny short stories penned over the past 30 years.

The launch was held yesterday at the Printers Room, the new home of Words Out Loud in Ballarat, and what a splendid venue it is. It was an excellent launch, with an eager and appreciative audience helping to celebrate the milestone. (Steve had a Melbourne launch earlier in the week, shared with IFWG stablemate and fellow good guy Jason Franks.)

The picture above is of Kirstyn and Steve chatting about the book and his career to date: very gratifying to hear he has more tales on the drawing board, and one might just be set in Ballarat!

Find out more about the book, and where to snaffle a copy, at Steve’s website.
 

2018 Calendar of Australian Literary Events

calendarOh my, it’s almost December! That means it’s time to cram in the last literary events of the year, take a breather (and maybe do some reading) over the festive month, and then get back into it for the new year. Yep, it’s time to cast ahead to 2018 and get those highlighters out — it’s looking like a big one. So here is the 2018 calendar of Australian literary events!

And if you’re still at a loose end for what remains of this year, you can still check out this year’s calendar. There are events in Wollongong, Brissie and the Clare Valley to finish off the year.

As always, updates, notifications and corrections are appreciated!

2017 Calendar of Australian Literary Events

calendarWelcome to 2017, and what is already looking like a crowded calendar of literary events in Australia — some events have already staked claims as far out as November! Check out the 2017 calendar of Australian literary events!

As always, updates, notifications and corrections are appreciated!