Writerly round-up: a new book, an award, a farewell

It’s the afternoon after the four days that came before, and what a grand four days Continuum 8 offered. Held at Rydges in Carlton, where the bartenders were, as usual, outgunned by demand, the convention pulled together writers, publishers, readers and knitters (!) from around the country for the celebration of all things fantastical.

Twelfth Planet Press launched new titles by Kaaron Warren — a printing error has meant a recall for those who have already snaffled the enticing collection — and Margo Lanagan (officially hitting the shelves in August) and my novella Salvage (yay!). Keep an ear out for a podcast recorded at the beautifully laid out Embiggen Books(timber shelves! ladders! SECRET DOOR!) about the Twelve Planets series of collections. [update: the podcast is now available here]

Twelve Planets podcast

Twelve Planets podcast at Embiggen Books

There were panels on vampires, e-books, Australian writing and many other things; launches; parties; costumes; crafts; dinners on Lygon St; the nearest Japanese restaurant would’ve seen a pleasing surge in income. And there were awards, with Paul Haines and Sara Douglass both receiving posthumous accolades. A further highlight of the Ditmars was the squeaking octopii, given out as stand-ins when the actual awards failed to arrive in time.

Also awarded were the Chronos awards, recognising achievements by Victorian writers, artists and fans, and how pleasing it was to receive one for ‘best fan writer’. A lovely acknowledgement of my new address! And Kirstyn and co-host Ian Mond landed Ditmar and Chronos awards for their podcast, The Writer and the Critic. The awards lists are below.

Convention pictures by Cat Sparks*

More pix from yours truly

So amidst the catching up, the memorials and general frivolity, a bittersweet announcement has been made: my wonderful boss, Kate Eltham, is leaving the Queensland Writers Centre to take the reins at next year’s Brisbane Writers Festival. Kate is a dynamic woman and talented writer who has made the QWC such an active organisation, reaching out across the state and the nation and overseas through various programs all aimed at not just keeping writers of all ilks in the loop but helping them to be part of the loops. It’ll be interesting to see what new ideas she brings to the BWF. This is great news for Kate and a real shift of gears, but I confess that I will sure miss her. Good luck with it, mate!

Kirstyn McDermott, Ian Mond host Continuum awards ceremony

Kirstyn and Ian host the awards ceremony

Ditmar Award winners:

Peter McNamara Award: Bill Congreve

A. Bertram Chandler Award:Richard Harland

Norma K Hemming Award, TIE: Anita (AA) Bell for Hindsight; Sara Douglass for The Devil’s Diadem

And a new award, the Infinity:Merv Binns

Best Novel

  • WINNER: The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)
  • Debris (The Veiled Worlds 1), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
  • Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres (Random House Australia)
  • The Shattered City (Creature Court 2), Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperCollins)
  • Mistification, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot)

Best Novella or Novelette

  • WINNER: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali Yuga)
  • ‘And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living’, Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar)
  • ‘Above’, Stephanie Campisi (Above/Below)
  • ‘Below’, Ben Peek (Above/Below)
  • ‘Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
  • ‘The Sleeping and the Dead’, Cat Sparks (Ishtar)

Best Short Story

  • WINNER: ‘The Patrician’, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk)
  • ‘Bad Power’, Deborah Biancotti (Bad Power)
  • ‘Breaking the Ice’, Thoraiya Dyer (Cosmos 37)
  • ‘The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker’, Martin Livings & Talie Helene (More Scary Kisses)
  • ‘Alchemy’, Lucy Sussex (Thief of Lives)
  • ‘All You Can Do Is Breathe’, Kaaron Warren (Blood and Other Cravings)

Best Collected Work

  • WINNER: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone)
  • Bad Power, Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet)
  • Nightsiders, Sue Isle (Twelfth Planet)
  • Ishtar, Amanda Pillar & KV Taylor, eds. (Gilgamesh)
  • Love and Romanpunk, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet)

Best Artwork

  • WINNER: ‘Finishing School’, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories (Candlewick)
  • Cover art for The Freedom Maze (Small Beer), Kathleen Jennings

Best Fan Writer

  • WINNER: Robin Pen, for The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar’
  • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work including The Golden Age of Fanzines is Now’, and SF Commentary 81 & 82
  • Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth, and Randomly Yours, Alex
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, and Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
  • Sean Wright, for body of work including ‘Authors and Social Media’ series in Adventures of a Bookonaut

Best Fan Artist

  • WINNER: Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry, including ‘The Dalek Game’
  • Rebecca Ing, for work in Scape
  • Dick Jenssen, for body of work including work in IRS, Steam Engine Time, SF Commentary, and Scratchpad
  • Lisa Rye, for Steampunk Portal series
  • Rhianna Williams, for work in Nullas Anxietas Convention Program Book

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • WINNER: The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott & Ian Mond
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie, ed.
  • Galactic Chat podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Sean Wright
  • Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce
  • The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe & Jonathan Strahan

Best New Talent

  • WINNER: Joanne Anderton
  • Alan Baxter
  • Steve Cameron

William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review

  • WINNER: Alexandra Pierce & Tehani Wessely, for reviews of The Vorkosigan Saga, in Randomly Yours, Alex
  • Russell Blackford, for ‘Currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke’, in Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
  • Damien Broderick & Van Ikin, for editing Warriors of the Tao: The Best of Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature
  • Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene, for ‘2010: The Year in Review’, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010
  • David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Tehani Wessely, for ‘Reviewing New Who’ series, in A Conversational Life

 

Chronos Awards

Best Long Fiction: The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)


Best Short Fiction: ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, Paul Haines (in The Last Days of Kali Yuga)


Best Fan Writer: Jason Nahrung


Best Fan Artist: Rachel Holkner


Best Fan Written Work: ‘Tiptree, and a collection of her short stories’, Alexandra Pierce (in Randomly Yours, Alex)

Best Fan Artwork: Blue Locks, Rebecca Ing (Scape 2)

Best Fan Publication: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Best Achievement: Conquilt, Rachel Holkner and Jeanette Holkner (Continuum 7)


 
* It’s possible there might be a photo of me with a bottle of wine and a glass: I was pouring for other people. Honest.

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Looking for words in the rabbit hole


Queensland Writers Centre CEO Kate Eltham played the white rabbit, and a bunch of we Alices gave chase: the goal, 30,000 words in three days. Some gathered in Brisbane while others of us, the diaspora of Queensland writers and other interested parties, joined in online, sharing totals and motivational mentions of caffeine.

How liberating to be given permission to abandon all but the most major of priorities in order to devote three solid days to wordage. For wordage was the goal; quality could come later. The aim was to get that story down, or at least a solid chunk of it.

My goal was a little different, though. I’d already hammered out a bit over 90K of a novel, but I had to write and insert a second point of view character to help fill in some gaps, add some suspense and provide some contrast. It’s a fairly brutal story, this one; moments of levity are to be grabbed wherever they can be had!

ms pages on a kitchen table

There's a story in there somewhere: grappling with scene progression.

I thought I had eight scenes to write, expecting no more than 1000 to 2000 words for each, and it turned out I had 10 to write, and they amounted to about 11,000 words. It took two days, averaging maybe 500 words an hour. Some of the other rabbit holers did meet their 10,000 words a day quota — w00t!

The third day of the rabbit hole was devoted to smoothing out those new scenes, reconfiguring the existing text to accommodate the new material and ensuring continuity. As is the way of things, a whole new character emerged, with enough legs to play a bigger role in a follow-up should such a thing occur. I’m tempted to call her Alice, in honour of the rabbit hole, but I’ve already got a character with that name tucked away waiting for her chance in the spotlight, so for the moment she’s Felicity because A. she’s felicitous and a felicitator but, ironically, not particularly happy, and B. I still owe two sisters a character named after them after inadvertently slipping an Amanda cameo into The Darkness Within. I have managed to slip in an Alice nod to the rabbit hole, though; I hope it survives to the final cut.

In tribute, here’s a cool clip of the Sisters of Mercy performing Alice, one of my favourite SoM songs and the inspiration for the aforementioned character in waiting. Note: The Sisters are touring with Soundwave Revolution: this is very exciting.

So, three days of fairly solid wordsmithing later, what have I got other than square eyes and a slight case of jetlag?

About 108,000 words of first draft manuscript littered with notes and sporting a most satisfying cross-hatch at the end (the mystical The End only comes when the draft is ready to be subbed — that is truly The End). And the possible beginning for a short story: what could be the second to come out of this universe.

Will the MS go anywhere? Well, that’s always the question, isn’t it? But the story feels good — rough but good — and, regardless, I enjoyed myself in my plunge down the rabbit hole, bumped into some new writers online and learnt some stuff along the way. Would I do another rabbit hole? Most definitely. It’s a three-day trip, man. Just ask Alice.