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.

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At Clancy’s, and Lee’s, and Zena’s

jason nahrung by kirstyn mcdermott

Pic by Kirstyn McDermott

Hm, seems not only am I couch surfing in old Bris Vegas at the moment but online as well;
this year, I’ve talked to:

  • Clancy Tucker about journalism and writing, and
  • Lee Battersby about writing fetishes (there’s a bunch of us, revealing our fancies, or not — I got hooked on music), and
  • Zena Shapter about writing to music (well, we had to nominate a tune, and I went with a track from Attrition — make a playlist from all 57 respondents here).
  • Fun, visiting! Next, I’m off to Bundaberg. Most excellent.

    While I was offline… and OMG look at all the Conflux book launches!

  • Sean the Bookonaut has been blogging up a storm. Viz, an examination of Grimdark — a category of genre coding I hadn’t even heard of.
  • Angela Slatter is having a book, Narrow Daylight, published by my digital publisher Xoum — yay for being stablemates (and stable mates, though are we, as individuals, stable? argh!)
  • Lisa L Hannett has had a new essay published at This Is Horror, calling for a consideration of less used/abused things that go bump in the night, which in turn leads to an essay from James Bradley about the ever-evolving vampire metaphor.
  • Random House is taken to task for onerous conditions in its digital imprint Hydra, and makes amends, as reported by Locus.
  • A Brissie launch on April 9 for Charlotte Nash’s debut novel Ryders Ridge.
  • Dymocks ends its publishing effort, D Publishing, perhaps on the nose from the get-go due to a roundly criticised contract base.
  • Margo Lanagan makes the long list of the Stella Prize with Sea Hearts.
  • And I’ve sifted the program for Conflux next month to find the book launches — hold onto your hats!

    I’m not sure if it counts as a launch, but Angry Robot (whose supremo Marc Gascoigne is a guest of honour at the con) is having ‘an hour’ from 1.30pm on the Sunday. Angry Robot is chockers with Aussie writers (Kaaron Warren, Jo Anderton, Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby …) so it’ll be bookish, whatever it is.

  • 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.
  • From the rabbit hole, a Midnight Echo …

    midnight echo 8The cover of Midnight Echo 8 has been released on to the unsuspecting public — it’s rather shiny, ain’t it?

    The magazine is due out at the end of November — egads, that’s this month already! — and features some very fine writers, some from overseas even. And there’s me, with a story about a cat.

    This story sprang out from behind a bush near a bus shelter and found full form during the heady, sweaty hours of Rabbit Hole at the Emerging Writers Festival earlier this year. There was a tweet at one stage about ‘the cat’s gonna get it’ — this is that story. It’s called ‘Hello, Kitty’. It’s not nice. Not at all.

    I almost didn’t finish it, because it’s not nice. At all. But then I thought, ‘what would Haines say?’, and so emboldened, I said fuck it. And wrote it. And the triumvirate of editors of Midnight Echo 8 bought it. And now it’s rubbing shoulders in good company, and you’ve got to be happy about that.

    There are a few of my stories that I wish certain people could’ve read, who never got the chance to.

    This is one of those.

    Fuck that, too.

    Midnight Echo 8 is available to order: here.

    And I’d be remiss not to point out that Queensland Writers Centre is again running Rabbit Hole, November 9-11. Free. Fun. Get words written. Just watch out for the cat.

    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!