Graduation day

I’ve done it!

I’ve collected my degree in a graduation ceremony.


What a hectic day it was. So crowded and so long, but it was awesome just the same. It was held in the Great Hall at Parliament House and there was a string quartet playing and all the pomp you’d expect.

I think I was a bit teary when I was putting the robes on. I remember what a big achievement it was for me to graduate in Economics at Sydney University in 1992. Something that I thought I’d never achieve at all.

Now twenty or so years later with a Masters in Creative Writing I’m so pleased and excited and wowed out.

I was accompanied by my daughter Shireen and my partner Matthew.


Here are my graduation buddies. Jennifer Curry and Wendy Banham.

Then I met up with Tony Eaton, the course convener and all round nice guy (He’s tall). I figured if a lecturer can wear Tardis Damask T-shirt, he had to be ace (and he is).



Here is a distance shot of Matthew and Shireen in the main foyer of Parliament House. Love all that marble.


I have official photos but I’ve just looked them up. OMG! I’ll have to sell my soul for them and I already paid a sitting fee. I will consult with Matthew and see what I can afford. Expensive business graduating.

Edit. And here is me tossing my hat. The camera was too slow so we filmed it.



I thought I’d share this over here because it’s sadly overlooked over there. Sorry Dani.

Originally posted on Dani Kristoff author page:

Consider this interview a break and enter.

I break in and steal your know how. Consider this a hit and run. I want what you have. So put up.


Ainslie I’ve read ( I almost wrote stolen) Floored, which floored me utterly. Sorry bad pun.


Like with Grease Monkey Jive you really get into the characters’ heads, make them so three dimensional I think about them afterwards and wonder  how they are doing. The only other time that’s happened to me was when I read IT by Stephen King.


So spill. How do you do it? I’m not leaving here until you give me a hint, the low down, the how to, the…well how the bloody hell do you do it?

I wish I could give you satisfaction in a Rolling Stones kind of way. I fear I’m going to disappoint.

I assume I only do what…

View original 1,145 more words

Aurealis Awards

As I mentioned in my previous post about the Canberra Writers Day, the Aurealis Awards were on in the evening. Usually my involvement with the AAs is as an event. I go because it’s a fab evening. I get to see friends and network with the industry. I also get to see the people win awards, some of whom I’ve never heard of so in that case it’s a discovery.

This year I was a judge in the Graphic Novel category and I was…wait for it…the trophy chick. I said to Nicole wouldn’t it be fab if I was your trophy girl instead of some young beautiful thing…and she fell for it. The downside to being the trophy girl is that you get to stand through most of the award ceremony in very uncomfortable high heels and my post may reflect some of that pain and maybe a photo of sore feet.sore feet

So the venue at University House turned into a charming venue for the awards ceremony. First there was the cocktail party where we all got to mingle (but not sufficiently for me to get around to everyone I knew or meet new people. Sorry Thoraiya I didn’t even get to say hello properly). I managed to get a glass of bubbly in before the fun began (because I was a dutiful person who went to rehearse with the presentation).

So a few snaps from the cocktail party. Alan Baxter and the lovely Rochelle Fernandez. Alan has a trilogy coming out with Harper Voyager, coming July. I have a book coming out with Harper Impulse under Dani Kristoff (http://danikristoff.wordpress.com for details). BTW I wasn’t out to take photos as Cat Sparks and Mr Fitzgerald were doing that.

Alan Baxter and Rochelle Fernandez

Alan Baxter and Rochelle Fernandez


So here is the room, the Great Hall at University House done up with lights.

University House, Great Hall with lights for the Aurealis Awards Ceremony

University House, Great Hall with lights for the Aurealis Awards Ceremony

Here is a piccie of the candelabra that was next to me. They were placed around the room with real candles. Nice!

Candelabra Great Hall, University House, Canberra

Candelabra Great Hall, University House, Canberra



Then there were the two fabulous MCs, Sean Williams and Simon Brown who were very funny and who created fantastic tales of intergalactic woe and time spinning tales about the presenters.

Sean Williams and Simon Brown, Masters of Ceremonies Aurealis Awards

Sean Williams and Simon Brown, Masters of Ceremonies Aurealis Awards

And so there were a few surprises in the winnings. Having been a judge I know how close it is to decide the winners so if you were short listed you are amazing to be there.

The ceremony went off without a hitch. (As trophy girl I did not drop anything or confuse the names, even though I didn’t have my glasses on-that’s because Nicole Murphy is so organised).

Some of the winners


Ally (Allyse Near) with her two awards- a tie for Young Adult and for Horror novel. Fairytales for Wilde Girls (Oh no. Not a good photo!)

Allyse Near, Aurealis Awards April 2014

Allyse Near, Aurealis Awards April 2014




Joanne Anderton, best collection for The Bone Chime Song and other stories

Joanne Anderton, Aurealis Awards April 2014

Joanne Anderton, Aurealis Awards April 2014



Kaaron Warren best SF short story, Air, Water and the Grove.

Kaaron Warren, Aurealis Awards 2014

Kaaron Warren, Aurealis Awards 2014


Jackie Ryan-tie for best graphic  novel

Jackie Ryan, Aurealis Awards, April 2014

Jackie Ryan, Aurealis Awards, April 2014


Mitchell Hogan for best fantasy novel, The Crucible of Souls. This was a wow moment for me. It was self-published and his thank you speech included editors I knew and I realised I’d been down a similar road to him with my own fantasy novel (and got nowhere). It opened my eyes quite wide. Well done you, Mitchell. Fabulous.

Mitchell Hogan, Aurealis Awards, April 2014

Mitchell Hogan, Aurealis Awards, April 2014


A photo of Liz Grzyb-who tied for best and anthology for the Year’s Best (with Talie Helene). The awards are in the boxes.

Liz Grzyb, Aurealis Awards, April 2014

Liz Grzyb, Aurealis Awards, April 2014


A shot of the wonderful Nicole Murphy looking on at the end of the ceremony. The mastermind behind the flawless awards ceremony.

Nicole Murphy, Aurealis Awards, April 2014

Nicole Murphy, Aurealis Awards, April 2014



Now for some of the crowd, Keri Arthur and gang.

Leife Shallcross, David Versace, Keri Arthur and  Rob Porteous. Aurealis Awards, April 2014

Leife Shallcross, David Versace, Keri Arthur and Rob Porteous. Aurealis Awards, April 2014


Liz’s fab shoes, which I snapped later at the after party. They are  Fluevogs. Want! That’s it from me. Don’t forget to come along next time.

Liz Grzyb's shoes, Fluevogs

Liz Grzyb’s shoes, Fluevogs






The wonderful Nicole Murphy and her team of volunteers put on a wonderful day last Saturday (April 5), presenting the inaugural Canberra Writers Day and the Aurealis Awards. The venue, University House, particularly the Great Hall, had wonderful charm. There’s this long gold fish pond in the quadrangle that I’d love to take home to my place.

Conflux Inc with Nicole at the helm put up bid to run the Aurealis Awards for two years in Canberra. Nicole wanted to make it worthwhile for people to come up for the ceremony and thought up a professional writers day.

The first thing I have to say is that both events were very well run. Nicole and the team were excellent. That’s pretty awesome for a multi stream event. Also, I know it was hard financially as there was absolutely no sponsorship money to be had for either event. That’s pretty tough going. I did note that Escape Publishing put an ad in the Conflux Writers Day booklet. Awesome.

I had a full day and I presented a talk. The plenary sessions were pretty amazing. Joanne Anderton, Kaaron Warren, Ker Arthur, Ian McHugh. All of them had inspiring and interesting presentations on their processes, their journey.

Joanne blew me away with her writing process and her copious notebooks, all so clean. Mine are NOT clean but I do have a similar weakness when it comes to notebooks and pens. I do much less thinking though. But then Joanne is an amazingly talented author and bloody hardworking.

Kaaron shamed me most terribly with her talk on using the minutes when you don’t have hours to write. I’ve known Kaaron a long time and I’ve always admired her talent but also what a devoted mother she is and how family focussed. She’s an inspiration.

Keri talked about her journey to becoming a published author and a New York Times best seller. Her story was a amazing. She persevered when many would have given up. Thank you for the inspiration Keri.

Ian McHugh talked about submitting work, write and submit and repeat was my take away message. Ian always inspires me with his focus and the stories he writes.

I went to the shorter concurrent sessions, which were 20 minutes long. I gave one myself on ‘You are not alone’ the value of writing relationships. It was about writing groups, writing buddies, writing dates and writing retreats. But I ran out of time, which surprised me and I forgot to talk about the really good part of writing retreats- the socialising (read drinking and talking crap). Someone came up to me afterwards and thought I was going to talk about relationships in writing, you know science fiction with romance. I laughed so hard. I would have loved to talk on that topic.

Craig Cormick was awesome.  I have to reprogram my head to say I’m going to win at this writing gig. Marcus Armann talked about Evernote and Scrivener and I’m now tempted to buy the later writing program, particularly after catching Phil Berrie with his word frequency proofing/editing talk. Scrivener has analytical tools that does that stuff. I’m always repeating myself when I don’t want to.

Russell Kirkpatrick sorted his mob into top downers and bottom uppers in the world building sense. He’s definitely a top downer, planning his worlds and then writing the story. I’m quite near the other end. To me it’s story first with an idea of the world, but often I build as I go.

Chris Andrews talked about blogging, which was an excellent session. I learned something. See Chris!

The lovely Shannon B Curtis talk about using Microsoft Word to navigate our novels. That was also very interesting.

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild had a table selling books (theirs and others) and I bought a copy of Joanne Anderton’s collection, The Bone Chime Song and other stories and lost it. (so if anyone found a copy. It could be mine).

Overall it was great to network with people and also see the new faces. Again I didn’t get around to everyone to chat.

Congratulations to Nicole Murphy and the team for a wonderful event.


I didn’t take many photos during the day, except this one of Russell Kirkpatrick. (Happy birthday Russell for tomorrow!!!).

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

Fantasy author, Russell Kirkpatrick, presenting at Conflux Writers Day

PS I’ll have to write about the Aurealis Awards in another post. My time has run out this morning. I decided to get up early to write. Though technically writing a blog post doesn’t count as writing.

One of my favourite people in the world is Glenda Larke. Not only is she a wonderful, knowledgeable and interesting person, she is an exceptional author. I’m so pleased her next book is out (or coming out) that I thought it would be a good idea to interview her.

Your new novel is coming out, Lascar’s Dagger. Can you tell us a bit about it?

It’s the first book in a trilogy, The Forsaken Lands.

It is set in a fictional world, evocative of our 17th to 19th centuries when the expansion of the Dutch and British East India Companies led to colonial wars and aggressive expansion. The wealth of Asia fed the prosperity of Europe at the expense of Asian freedom.

In my fictional world, a lascar arrives from the East with a magical dagger — and nothing is quite the same again…Image

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

I’ve spend most of my adult life abroad: Malaysia including Borneo, Austria, Tunisia–but now I’ve returned to Australia to live, not too far from where I was born. I started to write fiction when I was a kid, but my first published work was all photo-journalism articles (travel and nature). My first novel was accepted for publication when I was 52.

Since then I’ve had three trilogies and a standalone published. The standalone, Havenstar, was the first published, and — weirdly — has garnered the most passionately enthusiastic reviews and the least negative ones, yet has sold the least copies.

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

It enables a writer to explore all facets of humanity with greater ease than any other genre. For example, within the pages of The Lascar’s Dagger, a reader will find cultural misunderstandings and irrational prejudice; the tragedy of arranged marriage; the greyer areas of murder and piracy; misuse of inherited power; religious compassion and spirituality alongside evil, sanctimonious self-righteousness; sacrifice, bravery and honour; battles and … Well, you get the picture. In a fantasy, anything can happen. The secret is to make it believable.

Have you had any feedback from readers about your fantasy worlds and if so what have they said?

Each of my trilogies is very different from the next. The Isles of Glory is more of a kick-ass swords-and-scorcery. With intelligent, aquatic aliens.

The Mirage Makers is really a story about an individual stolen from her culture and family, rather as children of Australia’s stolen generation were, and how she exacts her revenge — and the cost involved. All with mirages.

The third trilogy, called either the Watergivers or the Stormlord trilogy,  is about the preciousness of water and understanding what it takes to live in a desert nation and survive. With magic. And pedes and ziggers…

Some readers have loved them all; others have favourites. As I said above, everybody raved about Havenstar. Probably the least popular of all was the second book of The Mirage Makers. Some people found that very difficult to read because it reminded them of their worst memories of highschool!!

What are you working on at the moment?

Book Two of The Forsaken Lands. Publication is scheduled for January.

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

Not much of a planner. Or rather, I plan like mad, then never follow it because I think of better ways to tell the story. I write anytime, anywhere – literally. In the past that has involved sitting on  the floor of crowded Asian airports, or the deck of a fishing boat chugging up the Kinabatangan River, or in a study so untidy I can’t find anything…

I do find that as I grow older, my ability to write for long hours has diminished. Writer’s block? I write anyway, knowing it’s mostly rubbish, throw it out and try again. Until I get it right.

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

Reworking & revising, because that’s the fun part. That’s when you decide that maybe, just maybe, this particular story is not crap after all.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

Almost everything?

It’s self-torture. Nothing comes easy. You pick yourself up off the floor and try again. And again. The weird thing is that I never thought of myself as a masochist — yet I must be, because I would do it all over again. Every bit. And still believe I enjoyed myself.

What do you plan to work on next?

Book 3.

You write under different names. Does maintaining these identities (blog, twitter and facebook) it take a lot of time? Do you have any tips for those of us who write under more than one name?

Well, I do double up a lot. My webmaster set up a system whereby I can send blog posts on writing/publishing straight to my website. My tweets go straight to Facebook.

Changing my name was at the request of my publisher at the time. They thought Noramly was too difficult for readers to remember. If I were to do it again, I’d start with the name Larke.

There are only two reasons to use different names: 1) because books flopped and a change of identity seems a wise strategy, or 2) because you write several different kinds of books. For example, Melody Silver for romance, Morgan Sheild for fantasy and Mike Storre for military sci-fi.
You can find Glenda on the web


Twitter: @glendalarke

Website: www.glendalarke.com

Facebook: The Glenda Larke Page


Today I am pleased to bring to you an interview with Marianne De Pierres. I’ve known Marianne for a long time now and as she was doing a blog tour for her new release,  Peacemaker with Angry Robot Books, I thought an interview in the author spotlight series was just the thing.

Here is a shot of Marianne (taken from Marianne’s website)3D-marianne2

Marianne Peacemaker is your new SF Western crime/urban fantasy novel out with Angry Robot Books. Can you tell us a bit about it? Sounds fascinating by the way. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Thank you, Donna.  Well the book blurb is probably the best way to answer this!

Virgin is a ranger in Birrimun (Big) Park, a huge natural landscape reserve in the middle of a sprawling coastal megacity. The park has been created to preserve Australia’s changing natural habitat, and to bring tourism to an over-urbanised world. Virgin’s duties are to maintain public safety and order in the park, but Parks Southern have brought out a hotshot cowboy from the US to help her catch some drug runners who’re affecting tourism. Virgin senses her boss is holding something back from her, and isn’t keen on working with an outsider, especially one as laconic and old school as Nate Sixkiller.

When she sees an imaginary animal (a wedge tail eagle she calls Aquila) that hasn’t been around since she was a troubled teenager, Virgin knows its re-appearance means one of two things: she’s having a breakdown, or it’s a warning. Dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate. Something terrible is about to happen in the park that threatens the basis of human belief systems.

I’ve tried hard to retain some standard Western tropes while writing a supernatural crime novel set in Australia. I grew up on Zane Grey novels and I read the entire Time Life Old West series back then, and again more recently. I feel I understand the genre historically.

Marianne tell us a bit about yourself

Though West Australian, I’ve been living in Brisbane for over fifteen years being a stay at home mum. And that’s pretty much the length of time that I’ve been writing full time. I’ve worked hard and had consistent publication since about 2004. My writing journey has taken me in many different directions and I have at various times been a blogger, freelance feature writer, children’s writer, crime and science fiction and fantasy writer. I won’t bore you with my bibliography but you can find it here if you are interested. I feel like I’ve been daydreaming, creating worlds and characters and stories for most of my life.

 I noticed on your webpage that there is a comic of Peacemaker. Can you tell us a bit about that and its relationship to the novel?

I actually started to write the novel first but got side-tracked by the notion of a graphic novel. The story seemed to lend itself to images. Maybe it’s because it was so vivid in my own mind. Nicola Scott recommended artist, Brigitte Sutherland to me and she really got my vision. She also got stuck with my complete inexperience in comics. After Brigitte had finished the inking process, she asked me who would be colouring the work. ‘Um…’ said I, ‘Oh, I thought you would.’ To Brigitte’s great credit she just hunkered down and did everything without freaking out. I love the colours she used and I loved her conception of the world. My only regret is that she moved on to other things in her life and wasn’t available to draw issue 2.

Should the comic ever get completed, it will follow a slightly different story arc to the novel. More episodic, I think. You also get to meet the bad guys much earlier than you will in the books.

How was exploring this new world in Peacemaker? I notice it different from Parrish Plessis and Sentients of Orion.

Well fun doesn’t even begin to describe it! I have a suburb in the book called the Western Quarter which is a mash-up of Australian and Classic Western clichés. Be ready for Stetsons, spurs, chaps, cacti, Akubra’s, and RM Williams to all be populating the same bars and saloons. And then there’s the park. How glorious to be able to inhabit the land so fully and then step straight out into the urgency of the city.

What is your writing process?

I write daily, in the mornings, beginning anywhere between 6am and 9am, depending on the amount of blogging I have to do first. I’ve never had writers block, though I have had periods where I’ve been quite fatigued. I deliberately and scrupulously counterbalance my writing life with sport and exercise, to give my brain chemistry time to recharge. And I’m somewhere in the middle of the PANTS and PLAN continuum. A little bit of planning, and a lot of organic writing. I’m big on narrative drive, so the story usually propels me, whether I like it or not.

What part of writing do you find hardest?

First draft is so exhausting. It feels like someone is draining the life out of me as I get those first words down. Rewrites and edits are much more fun. You know the shape of your story by then, and then it’s a case of making it all pretty.

What do you plan to work on next?

WOW – a lot! I refer you to this link. First and foremost, is book 2 of the PEACEMAKER series (working title DEALBREAKER). But I’m hoping to spend some of 2015 writing PHARMAKON, my SF thriller, because it’s an idea that just won’t silenced. I feel SUCH a strong compulsion to write it! I’ve already done a fair bit of research for it.

You write under different names (De Pierres and Delacourt). Does maintaining these identities (blog, twitter and facebook) it take a lot of time?

It does and, frankly, sometimes Marianne Delacourt suffers. The Tara Sharp books reach a whole different market to the Parrish and Sentients of Orion readers, and staying engaged in both those communities is hard work. But I enjoy my online outings, so even though it’s time consuming, it still gives me a great deal of pleasure. How fortunate am I, to get to do what I love?

Thank you so much Marianne. I’m glad you had the time to stop by and the novel sounds fascinating.

Here is the cover to Peacemaker.


I am currently studying millinery at CIT in Canberra, particularly Traditional Hat Blocking 1. It’s fab and I love it. I will do a post later on my first piece, a Fascinator. I am rather partial to  hats.

On the Canberra long weekend, we had our first writers’ retreat at Dweebenhiem. Formerly, we called them Donnacons, but as this one is at Dweebenhiem and host by Matthew as well as me, the nickname is (wait for it) Dweebenhiemcon. A bit of a mouthful. Technically, this retreat was organised by Nicole Murphy and Cat Sparks and they did most of the organsing. I mixed things up a bit by inviting a number of local writers to pop in for a morning, afternoon or as long they wanted.

I was a bit behind in my work so the first day was finishing off a revision, which I’ve sent of on submission now. And the next two days were spent drafting the first 6750 words of a new project. I’m meant to be working on that right now, but I’m overdue for a blog post and I have Chaos Bound by Rebekah Turner to finish reading upstairs, so I’m doing this instead.

The weekend was an intense affair. It was like having a party from Friday to Monday. Friday Cat and Nicole arrived as our houseguests and they were dropped here by Kaaron and Tehani, so we had dinner and a few drinks. It was so much fun. Then the next morning the writers arrived and then we had dinner and more drinks on Saturday night, same again Sunday and Monday, which might have been quiet, we celebrated Nicole’s birthday. Phew! Hectic. Nicole had organised different people to do lunch and dinner. Saturday the lovely Kimberley brought lunch, Sunday Shauna made delicious pumpkin soup and Kylie and Russell made roast lamb for dinner. Leife brought tiramisu! Which we ate before the roast because we’d be too full otherwise.

The fridge started to fill up but Matthew said it wasn’t a real retreat unless there was too much food. To celebrate on Monday we had pizza and cake and champagne. I’m hoping at least some of the retreatees got some wordage done. Poor Matthew was out for day one, laid up with a headache. I caught him a few times playing a game. But he assures me he did do some writing.

Cat Sparks put up photos on Facebook and Flickr. See the stream here.


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