GenreCon — worth doing all over again

genrecon logo

So we’re back home, and now that the work has been caught up on — well, kind of — it’s worth reflecting on the good oil that came from GenreCon in Sydney this weekend.

Twas an intimate gathering of writers from across the spectrum of crime, romance and spec fic — a melding of minds, techniques, loves and aspirations. And there were agents and publishers (Hachette, HarperVoyager, Momentum, Xoum, Clan Destine, Dark Prints … to name a few) with an interest in those genres. There were international guests Ginger Clark and Sarah Wendell and Joe Abercrombie:

Ginger let us know about the tough times in publishing and how agents are stepping up to fill the gaps left by publishers, in terms of editing, marketing, production … the line is blurring, the publishers cash-strapped and unable to offer the full suite of resources that has, in the past, made them such a powerful cog in the publishing wheel.

Sarah addressed author platform — the pros and cons of various social media, the importance of politeness — be a person, she said; converse, don’t declare.

And Joe: he’s a damn funny, easy-going fantasy writer who seems just a touch bemused to be selling oodles, but highly appreciative, to be sure. It’s all about getting down and dirty with the characters for him; gritty realism over shiny heroics, though he admits there’s room for both, and more, in fantasy’s huge field.

There was pitching for those with something to pitch — a 70 per cent hit rate for call backs shows some serious quality in the offing, and of the 30 per cent that dipped out, there was a praise for the pitch, even if the actual book didn’t hit that particular agent or publisher’s want list.

The panels were compelling, ranging from industry to craft to workshop topics — Peter M Ball’s business model for writers gave me pause for thought.

LA Larkin described plot as skeleton, characters as flesh and mood as blood: I like that, as you might expect.

There was an awesome debate between planners and pantsers: there was a symbolic glass of water, and a smooch, some of the best insults since Monty Python …

There was catching up and meeting social media pals, making some new friendships and reinforcing some existing ones. It was relaxed but draining. There was morning and afternoon tea and lunch as well, all of which enhanced the social aspect of the event.

As usual with conventions, the hotel didn’t quite come to grips with the bar situation, but the staff were wonderful and, from this outsiders’ viewpoint, apart from the race day madness in the bar, all went to plan.

Martin Livings launched his collection, Living with the Dead, as part of an Australian Horror Writers Association presentation, one of four by various genre groups.

The opening night cocktail party was a hoot of an ice breaker, and it sounded as if we’d missed out by skipping the banquet and a presentation of romance titles, one featuring a platypus that created quite the stir.

The good news: plans are afoot for GenreCon 2013, to be held in Brisbane. The calendar is richer for it.

  • In the aftermath of GenreCon, Conflux 9 — Canberra’s science fiction and fantasy convention, also the natcon for 2013 — has announced a pitching opportunity with Voyager’s Deonie Fiford. This is in addition to already announced opportunities with Angry Robot’s Marc Gascoigne. Noice. I’m really looking forward to getting back to Conflux, which has never failed to entertain.
  • Advertisements

    GenreCon — too much for two days!

    genrecon logoGenreCon has just put its program online, and — ARGH! — I need two of me. Maybe three.

    This program really pops my cork: writing stuff such as ‘how to’, villains, and subtext, and then there’s industry stuff like finding the right publisher and life without advances. It’s very cool to see Romance Writers, Sisters in Crime, Conflux and the horror writers hosting ‘community’ events. I keep hearing how damn professional and, ahem, well-oiled a convention machine the RWA is, so it will be great to get an insight into that, and with Conflux hosting the natcon next year (yep, already booked), the timing is right to fly the F&SF flag.

    Bottom line, though, is the number of experienced writers, publishers and agents on the program. For an emerging writer such as myself, the osmosis learning will be in overdrive. This is going to be a hoot!

    I’m also quite looking forward to publicly picking the brains of Joe Abercrombie at our ‘in conversation’, and talking ‘setting the mood’ in a session on the Sunday. But damn, there’s good stuff on then, too! Too much!

    Rolling the bones, and otherly write bites

    ad&d dungeon master's guideI’ve had a wee sabbatical, and there has been wordage, but now it’s back to the mines. Mordor, today; I do hope they’ve cleaned up the blood from the latest cull. At least we had a D&D session on Saturday: not too much bleeding for our side. There’s nothing quite like that communal escape into the fantastic, that combined storytelling, all tempered by a far more personable overlord and some random dice havoc.

    Here’s a few of the more interesting articles to cross the desk lately, starting off with a nostalgiac reprint of Gary Gygax’s inspirational classic fantasy titles for role-players (ah, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser!), and an updated appendix to that appendix. You might notice Joe Abercrombie’s name on that latter list — he’s a guest at GenreCon in Sydney in November. Here’s a program teaser. It looks tasty. So, hands up who loved the Thieves World books? Who bumped dice with Jubal? Ah, good times …

    Rolling on, and Angela Slatter offers advice for meeting agents — ‘hide the crazy’ — and suggests a key element is to have a good story. You don’t hear much about the value of a good story these days; it’s mostly about how to network and SEO your way to digital sales. Good art and good sales aren’t mutually exclusive, are they? So yay to Writer Unboxed, who reckons one of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is not understanding story. Ah, the learning, it just doesn’t end …

    Which leads to Justine Larbalestier, who’s been blogging like a chipmunk on a wheel this month and making far more sense. Well worth stepping off your own wheel and checking out her posts, such as this one about the need for characters to keep learning and this one about them needing to have a life already!

    I also enjoyed this introduction (typos and all) at Kirkus to the history of the vampire novel — close to my heart, given Salvage owes a debt to Le Fanu’s Carmilla.

  • midnight and moonshine by angela slatter and lisa hannettLooking forward to: seeing this book in print! Even if I wasn’t helping to launch it, I’d’ve been tempted to drive to Adelaide for Launch II. Lisa and Angela have provided two, well, three actually, of the most enjoyable collections of recent years: this combined effort may just be exponentially awesome.

  • Words of writerly wisdom

    Recent common sense from writers wot know:


    Two-million-word writer Kim Wilkins:

    Write the fucking fiction! Don’t write blogs and marketing plans and twitter yourself in front of everyone in hopes of building a platform. Write the fucking fiction FIRST. The rest is just white noise until you have a good finished product. And it must be good.

    Read the rest here. It’s fucking gold. You can have a ‘cosy chat’ with Kim at the Brisbane Writers Festival on 9 September.


    Justine Larbalestier, whose blog is informative and entertaining, on YA writers doing it for the money:

    If someone really decided to become a YA novelist solely to make big money then they’re an idiot with incredibly poor research skills. Choosing to write novels—in any genre—as a path to riches is about as smart as buying lottery tickets to achieve the same.

    And to complete the trifecta, Joe Abercrombie offers an overview of planning, something I’m going through at the moment with a similar process to this:

    I’ll know the setting and the rough plot for each part, some idea of what each point of view character needs to do, but usually I only plan the first part in any close detail, working out exactly what each chapter is going to contain.

    Abercrombie and Wilkins are guests at GenreCon in Sydney in November, which should be a hoot.

    GenreCon for Sydney in November

    From the Queensland Writers Centre bulletin, a great event for genre writers:

    The Australian Writer’s Marketplace is proud to announce GenreCon!

    Rydges Paramatta, November 2-4th 2012

    GenreCon is a three-day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, thrillers, and more. One part party, one part celebration, one part professional development: GenreCon is the place to be if you’re an aspiring or established writer with a penchant for the types of fiction that get relegated to their own corner of the bookstore. Featuring international guests Joe Abercrombie (Writer, The First Law Trilogy, Best Served Cold, The Heroes), Sarah Wendell (co-founder, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), and Ginger Clark (Literary Agent, Curtis Brown).

    For more information, visit GenreCon.com.au. Early bird rates available to the first 50 registrations.

    The event looks to have a strong industry and networking focus, and the ticketing system includes mention of pitching opportunities.