Judge’s Report for the KSP Speculative Fiction Award

Back in November, I had the pleasure of judging the annual Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Award. The results along with my judge’s report can be found at the KSP website, along with the results of the Short Fiction Award and The Karen W Treanor Poetry Awards.

It was great see the wide range of speculative fiction ideas presented by both new and accomplished writers. The winning stories of the Open Section were of a high standard and would require minimal polishing for publication. The Young Writer’s Section had a range of stories with varying strengths in different areas; but all tackled thought-provoking ideas. To judge these fairly, I needed to consider each entrant’s age, which ranged from eleven to twenty years. Overall, my decisions were based on stories that not only held my attention from beginning to end, but also resonated with aspects of the real word while seamlessly incorporating fantastical elements. I looked for stories that illuminated something interesting about the human condition, told from the points of view of well-rounded characters whose personalities were not based on stereotypes. More…

Congratulations to the winners and commendeds. Congratulations also to my writing buddy, Joanne Mills for her poem, Flying is Easy, which won third place in The Karen W Treanor Poetry Awards.

The Clarion West 2013 Write-a-thon Needs You

Are you looking for something to encourage you to get back into a regular pattern of writing over the next six weeks? Or are you thinking about pushing yourself further?

If so, then the Clarion West Write-a-thon needs you! Here, you can not only take part in the fun of setting yourself new goals, but you can also help to raise funds for one of the world’s best workshops for writers of speculative fiction. Anyone can join by simply heading over to the Write-a-thon sign-up page before June 22nd and fill in details about yourself, your writing and your goals.

Shadow the workshop from June 23 through August 2 and write, write, write! Write 15 minutes or 4 hours a day, 250 words a day, or maybe 8,000 words a week (we call that a “Swanwick”); revise a story or a chapter of your novel every week; complete a story, novella, or trilogy; submit three short stories to professional markets; or do something else completely different.
Remember to keep asking for support and donations for Clarion West from friends and family — send them online to the Write-a-thon web page you’ll create, with the personal PayPal link we’ll add for you. 

For 2013, Clarion West are hoping to sign up 300 participants—workshop alumni and instructors, and authors who’ve never attended—all sorts of people. You.

This year, my goals for the Write-a-thon are 500 words a day of new fiction. It might be on my new novel, or it might be on the novelette I’m working on. Depends on where my muse takes me. If you go to my Write-a-thon page, you’ll also find an excerpt from my novel, Heart Fire.

For me, the Clarion West Workshop not only crammed ten years worth of writing experience into a mere six weeks, but also introduced me to a bunch of people who I now consider to be life-long friends. Together, we knuckled down to the seemingly impossible task of turning out a new short story every week, as well as critiquing up to 30,000 words per night. Each morning, we’d sit down to a three-hour critiquing session, which was honest, informative, at times confronting, but ultimately worth every minute. These sessions were led by professional writers, experts in their field.

In 2008 we had Paul Park, Connie Willis, Mary Rosenblum, Cory Doctorow, Sheree M Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk.

This year it will be Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Margo Lanagan, Samuel R Delaney and Ellen Datlow.

If not for fundraising schemes like the Write-a-thon, this amazing writing experience would not be possible.

During the last Write-a-thon I took part in, my goal was 5000 new words per week. I ended up doing 7000 per week, ie, 49,000 words in six weeks – almost half the total rewrite of the novel draft I was working on at the time. It broke the back of a seemingly impossible task and showed me that when my mind was made up, I could do it.

Clarion West Write-a- thon

Sign up before June 22nd

You’ll find an excerpt of some of the words I wrote during the 2011 Write-a-thon at my Write-a-thon page. Here you will also be able to sponsor me by PayPal. Every dollar – no matter how small – counts.

The 2012 KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group Minicon

Panellists include :
Local Writers: Lee Battersby, Amelia Beamer, Hal Colebatch, Cathy Cupitt, Stephen Dedman, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sonia Helbig, Elaine Kemp, Pete Kempshall, David Kitson, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Juliet Marillier, Ian Nichols, Anthony Panegyres, Carol Ryles, Guy Salvidge, JB Thomas.

When: Sunday, 9 September, 2012  9.30am-4.30pm

Where: Katherine’s Place, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount (Turn into the first driveway after you turn in from the highway and park at the back)

Cost: $15, or $10 if you book in advance. Leave a comment at the minicon website if you want to do this.

Lunch: A decent meal and tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation or you can BYO – there are no eateries in the vicinity.

Discussion Panels: Meeting Room

10:00 Breaking the Rules
“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break ’em.” – Terry Pratchett
Sometimes the ‘rules of writing’ need to be broken. But what are they and how and when do you get away with breaking them? And what do you need to be aware of before you do? All the best writers are renowned for breaking rules and new writers are crucified for it, yet there are times when we all need to cross that line.

Lee Battersby
Sonia Helbig
Martin Livings
Anthony Panegyres
Guy Salvidge

1100: Is the Internet the New Slush Pile
Google the question: “is the internet the new slush pile?” and the wisdom of the masses will tell you that since mid 2011, there has been a grass-roots change in the world of publishing. The inference given in hundreds of articles unearthed by such a search is that you should no longer submit to slush piles while trying to get noticed. There’s a new wave of authors who publish their material directly to the Internet in the hope that their book will attract the attention of publishers and agents. But what does this method of gaining attention achieve and will it replace the tradition of slush pile Mondays? For that matter, with so many new writers self-publishing, is there a need to be picked up at all? Or is it a path to self-destruction of the writer’s rights?

Stephen Dedman
David Kitson
Dave Luckett
Ian Nichols

12:00 Lunch

Book Launch, The Corpse Rat King by award winning author Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

“Lee Battersby is the author of the novels The Corpse-Rat King (Angry Robot, 2012) and Marching Dead (Angry Robot, 2013) as well as over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets as Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Year’s Best Australian SF & F, and Writers of the Future. A collection of his work, entitled Through Soft Air has been published by Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week Writing the SF Short Story course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs.

He lives in Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs, the Goon Show and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as the Arts Co-ordinator for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good.”

For more about Lee see his interview at the Australian Spec Fic Snapshot 2012

1:00 Critting and Crowd-Sourced Editing
Should writers have their manuscripts criticised by a broad audience of their fellow writers? What value does it add to your work? Can you lose your ideas by letting others see your manuscript before the editor does? How about crowd-sourcing of editing? Is it possible to let others perform the work for you while reading early revisions of your manuscript? And how do you even take advantage of such services? Should they be avoided completely?

Amelia Beamer
Satima Flavell
Pete Kempshall
Juliet Marillier

2:00 Building Characters without Cardboard
In online reviews, a common complaint against many recent authors, especially those who choose to self-publish, is that their characters seem two-dimensional or otherwise lack depth. So what does the aspiring author need to consider in their writing so that their characters seem more real to the reader? And how do they achieve it? Are characters planned or imagined? And what are the pitfalls that many new writer, and even experienced ones, fall into? And how do you write convincing characters from the other gender?

Lee Battersby
Martin Livings
Juliet Marillier
Carol Ryles
JB Thomas

3:00 Has Erotica Become Just another Mainstream Sub-Genre
With Fifty Shades of Grey now the fastest selling book ever, it’s difficult to ignore the part that erotica has played in this series’ success. Writers thinking of including sexually explicit content in their novels are often confused by the terms ‘erotica’ and ‘pornography’. How should a modern writer approach this situation? How to avoid mistakes? Should erotica feature in a serious novel at all?

Amelia Beamer
Cathy Cupitt
Stephen Dedman
Elaine Kemp

Kaffeeklatsch Schedule (Library)

1PM – 1:30PM Joanna Fay: Publishing with a small press overseas
Joanna’s Daughter of Hope, the first novel in her epic fantasy sequence The Siaris Quartet, has recently been published as an e-book by Musa Publishing, a relatively new e-press in the USA. From the comfort of her lounge room in the Perth hills, Joanna has taken an intensive ‘high learning curve’ this year on the road to publication, while coming to grips with both the potential and pitfalls of online promotion.

2PM – 2:30PM David Kitson: Self Publishing – A complete end to end guide for anyone planning on doing it themselves
David’s self-published novel, Turing Evolved, broke into the top 20 Science Fiction book list on Amazon.com and is now rated at four-and-a-half stars with one hundred and fifty customer reviews. Learn about David’s experiences with editing, uploading, customer feedback and eventual contact and representation by a literary agent.

3PM – 3:30PM Juliet Marillier: History and World Building
Juliet is a New Zealand-born writer who now lives in WA. Her historical fantasy novels for adult and young adult readers include the popular Sevenwaters series and the Bridei Chronicles. Juliet’s books have won many awards including the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Prix Imaginales and the Aurealis Award. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet has two books out this year: Shadowfell, first instalment in a fantasy series for young adults (available now) and adult fantasy Flame of Sevenwaters, to be published in November.

And don’t forget that there will be books by our panellists and other guests for sale all day. Take advantage of their presence and get your purchases signed!

Book Launch Swancon Sunday 24th April

Ticonderoga Publications are launching their two anthologies, More Scary Kisses and Dead Red Heart: Australian Vampire Tales at Swancon 36 at Hyatt Hotel, Perth, Sunday 24th April, 2011 at 5pm.

I have work in both these Anthologies:

“Snake Charmer” in More Scary Kisses.

“Talent shines in this beguiling collection of 17 paranormal romance stories from Down Under, many of which are more haunting and humorous than scary.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

“The Tide” in Dead Red Heart, a collaborative story with Martin Livings at the helm with myself,  Lezli Robyn, Kaaron Warren, Patty Jansen, Alan Baxter, Devin Jeythurai, Felicity Dowker, Andrew J McKiernan, Gillian Pollack and Chuck McKenzie contributing.

“The Tide,” a multiauthored story that charts vampires’ rise from second-class citizen to the nation’s ruling elite, mix horror with humour.” (Publisher’s Weekly)