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This is a long time coming. I’m so sorry to be so distracted to write this up. In my own defence I did write up the Ditmar awards straight away!

I headed to Swancon a few days early to hang out with Glenda Larke. We came into Perth on the Thursday night and attended the guest of honour dinner. It was a great meal and I got to meet a few of the committee and the guests of honour, John Scalzi, Kylie Chan and Anthony Peacey. The committee had a really cool thing going. They moved the guests of honour around with each course of the meal so we got to talk to all them over the course of the evening.

This photo so Sarah Parker, Swancon programmer and Glenda Larke at the GOH dinner. Did I mention one of the best things about conventions is socialisting?

Sarah Glenda GOH dinner

The Hugo results were due out while we were at Swancon so Glenda and I got a crash course on the Sad and Rabid Puppies. The next morning we saw the Hugo nominations and continued our education.

On Friday, I had a number of panels. The first one was Food as Worldbuilding, which was really interesting panel. Food is such an important part of our lives and it was stimulating to think about how what our characters eat tells the reader about the world, or even what they don’t eat. Even rituals about food, either religious or other were discussed. I know have a lot of ideas from this panel that I can put into future writing.

lounging about

My second panel was Terrors of the Second Draft, which was fun. The other panellists had different views-I think I was the only one to find second drafts hard work. It is taking a draft, crafting it, to make it into a book and that takes work, consistency and day after day of sitting in front of my computer. Maybe I’m hyperactive but that’s hard sometimes.

My third panel that day was The End of the Printed Page: Are Books (as we know them) Dead? This was a wide ranging discussion covering selling ebooks, piracy and print books. No, we didn’t think books were dead.

The audiences in the panels were really interested and well informed and were a joy to talk with. I took some photos of the panelists in other panels I went to.

SwanconKeith

John Scalzi, Guest of Honour Speech

John Scalzi, Guest of Honour Speech

The convention had a lovely vibe and it was quite surprising to me that I didn’t know most of the people. I haven’t been to Swancon for ten years. It is also a vibrant SF community. It was great to see the committee had some many people supporting it.

Anthony Peacey picture below hosted and organised the first Swancon. I had to pleasure of listening to his speech on listening, technology and the changing world.

Anthony Peacey, Guest of Honour Speech

Anthony Peacey, Guest of Honour Speech

I visited the dealers’ room on Saturday. It closed on Sunday and Monday. I raided the small press tables and also bought a Lost in Space Robot for me and a talking Bender for Matthew. I already posted about the Ditmars so I’ll skip that.

Lost is Space Robot.

Lost is Space Robot.

Book haul. One of the best thing at a con is picking up books, particularly small press books that aren’t easilybook haul

Scalzi and Cat Sparks at the Climate Science Fiction panel.

Scalzi and Cat Sparks at the Climate Science Fiction panel.

available in bookstores.

Cat Sparks talking clifi

Cat Sparks talking clifi

Keith Stevenson on the climate science fiction panel

Keith Stevenson on the climate science fiction panel

Glenda Larke talking climate science fiction

Glenda Larke talking climate science fiction

I attended some great panels. John Scalzi’s guest of honour speech was entertaining. He was talking to us while waiting to start his talk and then was 20 minutes into it before realising it had already started. Kylie Chan’s guest of honour talk was also fab and Anthony Peacey’s.

So many interesting panels. Keith Stevenson talked about constructed languages in his panel, using his novel in progress.

The panel I had the most stress about was Spec Fic Writing – Science Portrayal in Fiction on Sunday. It was a panel with John Scalzi, which is awe inspiring to say the least. Tsana was also on the panel and she’s a scientist. But I stressed for nothing. It was a really great panel and there was a lot of hand waving going on (people’s use of science in their writing). The conversation also covered some movies, particularly Interstellar.

The hotel, Pan Pacific, was lovely. Very flash. There was food available for lunch at a reasonable price. So well done to the Swancon 40 committee. I hope to go to a Swancon again in future.

Great opportunities exist at SF conventions to socialise and talk to other writers.

A few photos from dinner or just hanging.

Glenda Larke and Amanda Bridgeman

Glenda Larke and Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman

Glenda Larke and me

Glenda Larke and me

I’ve known a new cover was coming but nothing could prepare me for the awesomeness of it.

Here is the resdesigned cover of Rayessa and the Space Pirates.

Rayessa And The Space PiratesIt’s so very cool.

Also, I’m not sure if I shared the blurb of Rae and Essa Space Adventures.

In Rayessa and the Space Pirates, Rae made a startling discovery about her past. Now her twin sister Essa has her own adventures to pursue.

Essa Gayens is starting to accept her sister Rae into her life, sharing a dorm room in their swanky private school on Earth. Smarter, savvier and more in touch with the world than Rae, Essa’s feelings of superiority and advantage are shaken when their mother goes missing, along with Rae’s boyfriend, Alwin.

When Rae takes off after them into outer space, Essa is spurred into action. Very soon, Essa is hot on her trail, sneaking out of school, bribing officials and begging Captain Thorn Hanover to take her on his ship.

Thorn is a hunk, and Essa is thrilled with the prospect of an interesting trip, but Thorn has no interest in a spoiled rich girl. Not only does he reject her advances, he sets her up on the chore roster and expects her to work for her passage.

Essa has never been anything but a pampered princess, but both Rae and Thorn are challenging her to dig deeper, to be more. But to aspire is to risk failure, and Essa has never really risked anything before. Can she start with her heart?

I also noticed that iBooks had Rae and Essa Space Adventures for 99 cents.

Here is a link the Australian iBooks store. Link.

Audio books

I feel like I’m a bit of a newcomer to audio books, but I’m probably not that new, I’ve just never done them in a big way before now.

I remember way back when radio play of Star Wars played on the radio and we listened so hard to it. This was in the days before VHS players and the like and hearing the radio play was a way to get a fix.

Over the last few years I have, on occasion, listened to Black Library audio plays and audio books featuring the Warhammer 40K universe. These were mostly on car trips with my partner, Matthew.

I wasn’t until a recent car trip to Sydney with my daughter, Shireen, that I was introduced directly to Audible. My son and another friend highly recommended Audible to me but it was just one of those things I didn’t get around to checking out. The trip to Sydney was interesting. Instead of listening to music, my daughter suggested we listen to a book. I was easy with that idea and she asked me to choose. I chose The Girl on the Train. I knew nothing about the book. In the early chapters I said to my daughter, this sounds like a chic lit type of thing that I’m not into and we listened some more and I was totally getting into it. Next I’m saying ‘what did she say?’ and “OMG, she’s not going to do that is she?” and other interjections which my daughter just smiled and nodded. On the trip home, same deal, but this time I’m driving and I’m tense and so into the story that my daughter tells me it’s time for her to drive. When we arrive home to Canberra, the book wasn’t finished. We were only up to chapter 15. Shireen said you’ll have to get your own copy. When I got home I signed up to Audible got the book and listened to the rest and it was so worth it.

With audio books (whether from the library, book shop, Audible or other provider) you can turn non-reading time into reading time. I listen while I sew, clean, and drive to work, when I get home and I’m just chilling or if I go to be early.

I signed up about five weeks ago. I’ve listened to, The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Lock in by John Scalzi, Redshirts by John Scalzi,  Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks and I’ve just finished with Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. (an amazing book btw. At times I couldn’t stop listening). That’s a lot of books for me. I’m still reading paper books. I finished Tiddas by Anita Heiss, almost finished Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester and I’m also beta reading a manuscript and The Tales of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (this is dense so it will take a while). I think I have my head into another book or two, but that’s all I can recall at this present time.

I made a vow to myself that I’ll only listen to books I don’t already own. This is a tad hard, because there’s Georgette Heyer books on audio and all of the JD Robb death series. But I figure there are lots of book I should read that I haven’t yet and at $14.95 for an audio book why not. So now I’m loading up the next book, Speaker of the Dead by Orson Scott Card for the trip into work tomorrow. If I want to get some writing done myself, I dare not start listening to it now.

Before Swancon I went to stay with the lovely and interesting Glenda Larke and her husband Ramly in Mandurah. It had been a while since I had caught up with Glenda in Mandurah so it was great to see her, catch up on all that had been happening and just to relax. Funny, but Glenda kept saying ‘wait to you get to my age and you forget things.’ I forget stuff now. When she said that I was thinking…oh no…it’s going to get worse.

For those of you who know Glenda, you understand her interest in bird watching, in politics, her amazing life living in Malaysia and in other exciting places around the world. I could just chat to Glenda and listen for hours and hours. Once when I visited her in Kuala Lumpur we talked and laughed until my face was numb!

Anyway, this post is mostly photos of the trip we did to some interesting places south of Mandurah, Lake Clifton, Harvey, Pinjarra, Ravenwood and the drive home. While with Glenda I started beta reading the third book in her Forsaken Lands Trilogy. Yes I am being smug! I am cruel like that.

The first photo is a dwarf banksia near Glenda’s house and that Ramly took a fancy to. We ended up getting one for Ramly to plant in the garden on the way to the airport.

Birthday candle banksia

Birthday candle banksia

The next photo is a shot of the Peel Inlet. imageAnd there was a pelican on a light.

imageGlenda thought it was a good idea to see the sun setting over the ocean, something that is peculiar to the west. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, but this shot was quite interesting with the sun reflecting off the wet sand.

Sunset Halls Head Beach. WA

Sunset Halls Head Beach. WA

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Edit: I’ve since been told that these rocks are fossilised trees. I thought they looked tree-like.

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Eroded rocks at Halls Head Beach

Here is a shot of Glenda at Halls Head Beach.

image

imageThen we went to Lake Clifton to look at the thrombolites, which was quite fascinating.

image

Thrombilites Lake Clifton

Thrombilites Lake Clifton

Lake Clifton

Lake Clifton

The colour in this Lake Clifton shot is spectacular.

After Lake Clifton we drove to Harvey, then Pinjarra and then stopped at Ravenwood and had a drink by the river.

We looked at this bridge with old Jarrah timber supports, a sort of meshing of old and new. I believe this was in Harvey.

Jarrah supports under bridge in Harvey

Jarrah supports under bridge in Harvey

Jarrah supports under bridge in Harvey.

Jarrah supports under bridge in Harvey.

We had some lunch/snack at Stirling Cottage. Here is a shot of a Kookaburra in a tree. I wonder if you can see him.

image

Shot of the river at Ravenwood

Shot of the river at Ravenwood

After we did the tripping around, we came into Perth for Swancon, starting with the Guest of Honour dinner where we got to meet John Scalzi, Kylie Chan and Anthony Peacey. That’s the subject of the next post.

It is my pleasure to have Jane here today. When I first met Jane I was an aspiring writer with more zeal than talent or craft. Jane made an impression on me as an author who was happy to share her experience and was very gracious and friendly. Jane is a prior winner of the Aurealis Award for fantasy novel and remember thinking when we me met, wow, just wow. I managed to talk her into coming to Conflux in Canberra… maybe more than once.

Jane Routely

Jane Routley

Jane has provided some wonderful and insightful answers to the interview questions. Some of her habits I can totally relate to.

Your new novel is coming out. Can you tell us a bit about it?

In The Three Sisters, a woman warrior and a mage, who refuses to grow up, traverse an oppressed land in order find a kidnapped sister. Elena, the missing sister, has the curse of Fatal Beauty which means those who see her desire to own her. Unbeknowst to the sisters hidden powers are manipulating their destinies.

The Three Sisters was published some time ago by Harper Collins U.S. under a pseudonym. Clan Destine Press have been kind enough to bring it out as an ebook under my own name so that it can be read in Australia.

There is an unpublished sequel called The Melded Child which I very much hope Clan Destine will bring out in the next year or so.

Jane tell us a bit about yourself (where you live, how long you’ve been writing, previous publications etc)

I’m from Melbourne although I spent seven years in the 90’s living in Frankfurt and Copenhagen. I was a trailing spouse when I lived in Europe so I started writing then. I’d always wanted to be a writer so I figured it was time stop making excuses and knuckle down. I’ve published 4 novels and a number of short stories. Two of the Dion Chronicles won Aurealis Awards for the best fantasy novel in the year they came out.

Print edition from Ticonderoga Publications through Indie Books Online and

Ebook edition.

I had a big slump in the early naughties. Changes in the publishing world made it very difficult for a while and I completely lost my confidence. I never stopped writing but I’m back to finishing things for publication again.

Jane what do you find so attractive about the fantasy genre? In what ways do you find it fulfilling?

I’ve always loved history but I find historical fiction a bit limiting. You’re stuck with an already set out world and if your characters are well known to history you know how they’re going to end up. I’m interesting in travelling in new worlds. At the moment I’m interested in exploring a world in which wealth is passed down through the female line, which is does happen in our world too, but not on a state level. I thought it hadn’t been explored enough in fantasy. I’ve also always loved fairy tales – the sense of wonder that comes from magic. You can do that in fantasy. I do like the way people like Kate Forsyth are combining history and fantasy in books like Bitter Greens.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on “Shadow in the Empire of Light” at the moment. “Shadow” is about an orphan without magical gifts in a powerful family of mages stuck in the country managing the family estates with only an eccentric aunt and a telepathic cat for company. It’s about her breaking out to find her own way in the world.

What is your writing process? (planner, panster, write every day, write sporadically, writers block etc).

As a writer I’m more of a panster than a planner. I know what I’m interested in writing about and I usually have some idea of where I want to go, but I never have much idea of how I’m going to get there. Every book I start I try to be more of a planner. It must save so much time and angst. I always get to a point where the book goes dead and I’ve learned that that’s because I’m trying to make the characters do something that doesn’t work. Gee it’s miserable when it happens. I wish I didn’t have to go through it. On the other hand I get bored easily, so perhaps it’s best if I don’t know how things are going to go.

As a panster, I know I write stories and books to see what’s going to happen if… What if a woman was irresistibly beautiful as Elena is in The Three Sisters. What is it like to colonized? This is a big theme in Australia History. So I set up these conditions, invent these characters and just keep asking what if… until I get closer and closer to the story that feels right for me. It’s a bit like being an archaeologist or painting an oil painting.

I try to write most days for at least an hour, two preferably. I work part time so it makes that easier. I don’t wait for inspiration. I just sit down at the computer and stay there until my time is up. If I can’t write I sit there and feel bored. Sometimes I get stuck but even then I sit down. I’ve never had writers block really badly though I have had some really miserable times sitting at my desk. If I can’t think of anything to write I write in my diary (usually a sadly neglected file)

Elizabeth Jolley once said that one way to avoid getting stuck was to leave the previous day’s work slightly unfinished so that you’ve got something to go on with when you sit down next. I find that always works for me.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Despite the fact that I’ve set up my life to be a writer, I still find sitting down to do it the hardest thing of all. Almost anything is easier than writing. There are still those little voices in my head saying that I’m wasting my time and that nobody wants to read this stuff. I’m very achievement orientated and signs of achievement come very slowly when you’re a writer.

There’s much more instant gratification to be had from doing the garden or having morning coffee with friends or watching eight hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And much more fun chatting on social media. That why I make myself sit down for a couple of hours on a computer that’s not on-line (yes such things do exist.) Otherwise I probably wouldn’t write at all and I’d get very down and grumpy and not know why. I regularly need to remind myself that if it makes you happy, it’s worth doing even if nobody else thinks it’s worthwhile. But I write to be read which is why I finish things.

What do you prefer, drafting the story or revising and reworking?

I find the drafting really really hard work and as I said earlier I sometimes get stuck. Plotting is the hardest part of a story. I really enjoy the reworking and the revising because you have the certainty of knowing where you’re going and you have the pleasure of adding texture to the world that can really make it sparkle. I actually go through each novel three times at least. Once to do a very detailed first draft and the second time to add the flesh to the bones and the third time to polish the prose.

What do you plan to work on next?

I’d like to do a sequel to Shadow in the Empire of Light though ideally I should try and find it a home before I start. I’m also half way through a man on man time travel romance which I started years ago and have been working on on and off for years. I’d love to finish that.

The Three Sisters book cover

The Three Sisters book cover

Here is the blurb!

“A captivating read” Sara Douglass

Three sisters, estranged from the Society they are destined to save. Elena, more beautiful than any man can resist, is kidnapped, her destiny controlled by the men who desire her. Yani, warrior woman, brave, strong, able to pass as a man, who will do anything to find Elena. Marigoth, powerful female mage, determined never to grow up, equally committed to finding their missing sister. In a country oppressed and cruelly ruled, the fate of many people lies in the unsuspecting hands of these three women.

Published by Clan Destine Press link here.   Ebook format. Available also in kindle or mobi

Price AUS $6.79

ISBN  9780992492595

Thank you so much Jane for elaborating on your writing processes.

You can find Jane online at www.janeroutley.com.au and

https://www.facebook.com/jane.routley.5

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/333390.Jane_Routley

As per my previous post, I was in Perth to visit the awesome Glenda Larke and go to the 40th Swancon SF convention. Swancon was a national convention this year and thereby host to the Ditmar awards and a few other awards, including the A. Bertram Chandler Award.

Here is a little about the award from the Australian Science Fiction Foundation’s website:

The A. Bertram Chandler Award is given by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation.

It is Australia’s premier award for lifetime achievement in science fiction.

The first Chandler was presented in 1992 to Van Ikin at the National Science Fiction Convention, SynCon ‘92. Subsequent winners have been Mervyn Binns, George Turner, Wynne Whiteford, Grant Stone, Susan Batho (Smith-Clarke), Graham Stone, John Bangsund, John Foyster, Lucy Sussex, Lee Harding, Bruce Gillespie, Rosaleen Love, Damien Broderick, Paul Collins, Richard Harland, Russell B. Farr and Danny Danger Oz.

The 2015 Chandler Award was presented to Donna Maree Hanson at Swancon 40, the 54th Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Perth, Western Australia, on 5th April 2015.

I didn’t know anyone was watching me and noting what I was doing all these years. I was so surprised to be selected. I had fun doing all those things listed in my citation, except maybe the Conflux accounts last year. That was difficult. What a pleasure and an honour to receive the award. I have to thank the Australian Science Fiction Foundation again for the award. I’m flabbergasted and thoroughly pleased to receive it and can’t believe it’s happened.

When the citation was read out at the ceremony, I did sound like I had done an awful lot but that has been over the last 15 years.

Here is a few shots…also included are shots of Glenda Larke who tied with Trudi Canavan for best novel in the Ditmars. I gave Trudi’s acceptance speech as she is in Europe. It was an ideal outcome because both Trudi and Glenda are dear friends. John Scalzi presented the award and he was a little tricky and a bit of a tease. They way he announced it, it looked like Trudi had won by herself. When I sat down with the award, he said to the crowd, ‘Wait there’s more.’. I got so excited because I knew it was Glenda and that there had been a tie. Glenda didn’t suspect. She’d won her first award just before with the WA Tin Ducks. But it was exactly that. It was in good fun, but someone chided John Scalzi and I have a shot of him begging for forgiveness (not seriously but it was funny).

A. Bertram Chandler Award bowl and plaque close up

A. Bertram Chandler Award bowl and plaque close up

This is the whole package, with the framed citation. The citation was written by Nicole Murphy!

Award package.

Award package.

Here is Glenda with her first award ‘Tin Duck’ for longer work for The Lascar’s Dagger (a really awesome book).

Glenda Larke with her Tin Duck. Juliet Marillier sitting next to her.

Glenda Larke with her Tin Duck. Juliet Marillier sitting next to her.

Here is a shot of us with the Ditmars, me holding Trudi’s award.

Holding the best novel Ditmars

Holding the best novel Ditmars

Here is Scalzi after the award.

Glenda Larke and John Scalzi, Ditmar Awards Perth 2015

Glenda Larke and John Scalzi, Ditmar Awards Perth 2015

Glenda with John Scalzi, asking for forgiveness. Lol.

Glenda with John Scalzi, asking for forgiveness. Lol.

Later we were celebrating the wins.

Glenda Larke and Donna Maree Hanson

Glenda Larke and Donna Maree Hanson

Here is us later in the bar in a three stooges shot with Cat Sparks. Cat won for best short story.

Cat Sparks, Glenda Larke and me.

Cat Sparks, Glenda Larke and me.

When we got home to Glenda’s place on Monday, the celebrating continued.

A writer drinking champagne

A writer drinking champagne

The link to the citation for the A. Bertram Chandler Award is here.

The Wikipedia Entry to the Award is here. A wonderful list of previous winners.

Again, thank you!

I have been spending a lovely few days in Mandurah south of Perth with the lovely Glenda Larke and her hubby, Ramly before we head into Perth tomorrow. We are heading in for the Guest of Honour dinner with John Scalzi and Kylie Chan, guests at Swancon. From then on we will be at the Swancon SF convention over Easter.

Today we went tripping around to Lake Clifton, then to Harvey and then Ravenwood  (the pub by the river) before  heading back home. I pretty tired  and it was a lovely day with lots of lovely  and amazing things to see. I’m going to put up some photos. Lake Clifton was where there were trombolites, llittle creatures like algae that take out the calcium carbonate of water and leave these rock like formations. Apparently, these creatures are what made the world today by creating oxygen.

Lake Clifton

Lake Clifton

Eroded rocks Halls Head beach

Eroded rocks Halls Head beach

Stirling Cottage garden

Stirling Cottage garden

The little creek next to Stirling Cottage

The little creek next to Stirling Cottage

Eroded rock Halls Head

Eroded rock Halls Head

Lake Clifton trombolites

Lake Clifton trombolites

Ravenwood by the river

Ravenwood by the river

image

Harvey (bridge) with Jarrah timber supports

Harvey (bridge) with Jarrah timber supports

Harvey  under the bridge

Harvey under the bridge

In Harvey we checked out  Stirling Cottage, looked at the lovely gardens by the river and then later checked out the underside of the bridge which had these amazing jarrah timber supports.

I ‘m doing this post on my ipad so of course all my photos are now out of order. Sorry! The eroded rock is from yesterday. The rocks were  quite extraordinary, textured and layered and carved into shapes. I had to share.

It was a relaxing day, taking our time and enjoying the lovely Perth autumn weather. I feel like I’m on holiday.

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