Thursday, October 20, 2011

Contribute to Westerly : Westerly Centre : The University of Western Australia

Contribute to Westerly : Westerly Centre : The University of Western Australia: "Westerly publishes lively fiction and poetry as well as intelligent articles.

Westerly differs from other journals in that its focus is more towards the west coast of Australia and the Indian Ocean region (including Asia and India).

All academic work submitted is subject to a double blind refereeing process and all creative work is chosen by the independent poetry and prose editors."

Poems: $75 for one page / one poem or $100 for two or more pages / poems
Stories: $150
Articles: $150

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

I got my highlighters and pen all ready for this one. It was $4.99 from the Post Office, and we bought it in a fine tradition of "OMG we haven't made the Eftpos limit, what else can we buy in a hurry so as not to upset the following customers?" So I ended up with "The Mermaids Singing" by Val McDermid.

I was mildly disappointed that the writing was perfectly fine, and I travelled through the novel with nary a blip on my "phrases to trip over" radar. I put the pens away, eventually. I think maybe I was more scarred by The Girl In The Steel Corset than I thought!

So, the writing was fine. The book tumbled along, neither exciting nor dull. The characters were also neither exciting nor dull. People died, people chased other people, people found out whodunnit. Yeah, OK, so I'm not a big reader of the genre.

Having said that, I bought the book based on the cover and the title. The copy I have actually has a different colour art, but this was the closest to the cover I have. There is no barbed wire in this book, nor barbed wire men. I was a sad panda. There were also no mermaids, nor singing. Cue a VERY sad panda.

So what is with the title? Am I missing something? Is there some obscure story that makes the title meaningful? Mermaids are cool - why use them in the title if they're not in the book? Regardless, I was a bit put out that such a cool title was wasted on an not-cool book.

And men women relationships. Really? Hello, people, women can work with attractive men and not develop crushes on them. Really. And, you know what? It happens EVERY DAY. Why is it that as soon as someone in a crime novel has a vagina, she has to fall in lust/love/crush or be the lust/love/crush object? Why can't she just be a person?

The opening was also kind of confusing for me. We start with multiple points of view of three people, but they're all doing the same thing. And they all sound the same! And then we drop down to two main points of view and I can only tell them apart because the female of the two has a crush!

This book has been out for a long time already, so I'm going to whine about the text itself now, so spoilers ahoy if you worry about that kind of thing. The book is rife with assumptions about men and women, and I spent a fair amount of time thinking "really? You don't think a determined woman would be able to do THAT?" and "This section is written rather neutrally, I wonder if the book is supposed to be playing with our gender assumptions" and the answer is yeah kinda. But also not. It's been a long time since I read the genre, but it doesn't seem to have changed much. The levels of gore vary, but there's a hunt for a killer and blah blah blah. I didn't feel like I was reading anything different from the suspense/crime books I used to read.

Can't be bothered reading this one again. Would any one like my copy?

Sarah P

Monday, October 17, 2011

Winds of Change & Yellowcake Springs to be Launched 13th Nov KSP Centre

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild's latest anthology, Winds of Change, was launched at Conflux in September.

In Perth, Winds of Change, will be launched at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre

Date: Sunday 13th November
Time: 12:30 pm
Where: 11 Old York Road, Greenmount.

Please join us for Nibbles and drinks as we celebrate the year's end with our latest publications.

Perth Writers Joanna Fay, Naomi Mondello, Keira McKenzie and Carol Ryles are contributors to this antho.

Joanna's 'Stone-Singer' is a sliver of her current work in progress. It is set in the future of her epic novel series, a world she has inhabited since childhood.

Naomi's 'Gravity Express' is a steampunk adventure.

Carol's 'Saint Olivia's Light' was first drafted at Clarion West 2008, and is about a spirit trapped in a stained glass window.

Keira, who has recently joined Egoboo, illustrated Tsana Dolichva's 'Time Capsule'.

Table of Contents:

1. "Wraiths" by Jason Nahrung
2. "Gravity Express" by Naomi Mondello
3. "Time Capsule" by Tsana Dolichva
4. "The Tether of Time" by Leife Shallcross
5. "Trigger" by Zena Shapter
6. "Babel" by Robin Shortt
7. "Saint Olivia's Light" by Carol Ryles
8. "In Need of Assistance" by Chris Andrews
9. "After the Bombs" by Adam Tucker
10. "The Horns of Elfland" by Crisetta MacLeod
11. "Time Spent" by David Coleman
12. "Soul of the Machine" by Maxine McArthur
13. "Dream Shadow" by Alan Baxter
14. "Giant" by Annelise Roberts
15. "Evolution Baby" by Lesley Boland
16. "The Princess" by Valerie Y.L. Toh
17. "Children of the Ashes" by Greg Mellor
18. "By Watcher's Pool" by James Goodrum
19. "Turning the Blood" by Donna Maree Hanson
20. "Watching" by Nicole R Murphy
21. "The Stormchilds" by Helen Stubbs
22. "The Fool" by Jane Virgo
23. "Dragonfly" by Cat Sheely
24. "Stone-singer" by Joanna Fay

If you can't make it to the launch, Winds of Change can be purchased directly from CSFG's wordpress page.

Also being launched is Guy Salvidge's novel Yellowcake Springs, winner of IP Picks 2011.

Welcome to Yellowcake Springs; a pristine, friendly, secure community of citizens involved in the maintenance of one of Western Australia’s CIQ Sinocorp nuclear reactor facilities. You have nothing to fear inside the heavily-guarded community, nestled in the quiet streets between the radiation Red Zone and the razor-wired fences. Raise a family. Go to the park. Watch the sun set between the cooling towers. Lament the desperate lives of the lost ones living in the darklands outside the community, where overpopulation and starvation have created a lawless world. Feel lucky. You belong to CIQ Sinocorp now.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Laura and Sarah go Head to Head - Wanna Join Up Too?

Dear Author, 

Nanowrimo is fast approaching, and this year Laura and I will be going head to head in 30 days of literary brawling.

What is Nanowrimo, you ask? It's a month of writing dangerously, throwing all your preconceived notions about 'writing' out the window, and allowing you to do something you always wanted to do - prioritise your manuscript! The challenge is to write 50K over 30 days... merely 1667 words a day. It's a lot of a challenge, but it's exhilarating and fun and you get to do it with friends.

Two of the Egoboo group will be accepting the challenge this year, Laura E Goodin and my humble self. I can write like a demon when I need to - but the only person I need to beat this year is the 50K mark. I intend to write updates on Egoboo as often as I can face the keyboard, so expect to see some stats and mumbles as I stumble along.

Come and join up with us to join in the fun - there will be widgets! Yay widgets! I have a bit of a handicap this year, stepping off the plane on the 1st of November, either losing a day of writing or gaining a day strapped into a plane seat with nothing better to do (except maybe sleep.) Battling with jetlag, will I be able to produce anything at all?

So come on in and join us! It's bliss! (or a frantic scramble for your manuscript. One of the two!)

Plus only a few months after that Twelfth Planet Press is opening the doors to new manuscripts. This could be your year! Join up today!

Sarah Lee Parker
P.S. I wrote my post first dammit! :) 

Oh, yes, November will be intense.

I know, I know. I've heard all the objections and whining about NaNoWriMo. If you are one of the NaNo wowsers (a great word that I only learned after coming to Australia), I suppose you are performing a useful service for those who traffic in outrage. Me, I love NaNo. I love the camaraderie and the productivity and the buzz and the spirit of fun. Because, at its heart, it's a game. A fun, encouraging, energizing game.

This year, in fact, I'm deliberately breaking the rules of NaNoWriMo, in that I will be adding words to an existing work, rather than starting a new project. And for you NaNo rule heavies, well, I stick my tongue out at you, too. (To show just how much, or how little, the rules matter in this good-natured game, there's an "official" term for people like me: NaNo rebels.)

I look forward to the encouragement of my Egoboo buddies, and I look forward to getting a very large percentage of my novel-in-progress drafted, or at least raking together a big pile of word-leaves to jump in and scatter. (Ah, what you Australians miss, growing up amid a tragic paucity of deciduous trees.) And I especially look forward to the chance to cheer my buddies on, on, on! On to glory! On to victory! On to transcendent states of mind where the words flow like the Zambezi over the Victoria Falls!

Like Sarah & Laura, I've just decided I will do the Nanowrimo thing again this year.  Not sure I should be doing it, but last year, got a novel completed in 2 weeks (well, 3 quarters of it) so shall do it again.  Don't know if it will be in the same universe or something else entirely.  I shall just have to wait & see.
I will both curse and enjoy the challenge, as much as I do with all my writing projects.  It's a time to both be structured and free-flowing.  It involves and condenses all the joys and frustrations of what takes normally takes a lot longer.  It's writing in a time-box: all constrictions visible, no opening for escape, and yet, within that box, there are also no limits (TARDIS analogy, anyone?). 
So Sarah - Laura - I will be joining you.

Best of luck to all 3 of us!

(this is the 1st post from new member, Keira - hopefully it won't be the last)

A Plea to SFF Writers for Variety in Pregnancy and Childbirth Depictions |

Childbirth and pregnancy is a gray area in SFF, where the cliches seem to abound and no one does a bare minimum of research about what birth and child bearing is actually like. Kate Nepveu puts out a much more nicely phrased plea for people using child birth and pregnancy in fiction to think a little, and do a little more research. Not every one screams during child birth (actually, as far as I've heard, very few people do!) and some people don't even get morning sickness, for example!

A Plea to SFF Writers for Variety in Pregnancy and Childbirth Depictions |

Friday, October 14, 2011

One Cobble at a Time � When Critiques Wound

One Cobble at a Time � When Critiques Wound: "This is the hard truth about critiques which rarely gets mentioned: If the critique hits one of your writing insecurities, or if you’re uncertain about the relationship with the person critiquing you, then the process can be emotionally injurious. And the writer is not the only one at risk, the critiquer is taking a risk as well. People can get hurt. I got hurt."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teen Harlequin - In The Arms of Stone Angels

I found 'In the Arms of Stone Angels' by Jordan Dane to be much better than 'The Girl In The Steel Corset' - to start with, it had some actual romance elements!

Stone Angels is described as a suspense novel, and I totally agree. It was a good solid read, without any language trips to throw me out of the book. I found it really very hard to read in parts as the ferocious maliciousness of teenagers was really hard to get through, but it did add some extra dimension and angles to the plot. I didn't guess who did it, which was also very nice, and the threads were all pulled together pretty tightly at the end in a way that satisfied me.

Nicely written, tightly constructed, it was a light read but really enjoyable suspense aimed at the young adult range. It included all the things I imagine are issues in YA lives - troubles with authority, self esteem/awareness, trust issues, and peer pressure to the max.

I also enjoyed the fact that the male of the romance didn't really exist as a person/character except in memories. In a way, the romance is a complete construction within the heroine's mind. He didn't need to have a completely active role, as the ploy was around him, but didn't need a male's agency to progress.

Our heroine's relationships are all quite troubled but believable. I really enjoyed this read, and will keep my eyes open for some other of Dane's books.

Sarah P

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SF Conventions in Perth, 2012

On Sunday, Carol Ryles and I dropped in on Villaincon, a small SF convention in Perth. Sadly, it was nowhere near as well attended as it should have been. It seems to me that fannish conventions are not doing as well as they once did. There are so many other calls on our time these days, and besides, events such as SupaNova cast all smaller events into the shade.

But there is still a place for the smaller, more intimate convention, where you can catch up with your friends in the bar and pick up all the latest goss. There are many people I never see outside of conventions – due, again, to all myriad of little things that take up so much time. But you can go to a con knowing that you’re going to meet like-minded people, new ones as well as old friends. So I was really pleased to learn that next year there will be no fewer than four conventions in Perth!

The first is the annual Genghis Con. I must admit I’ve haven’t been to this one, because I’ve always thought of it a student gig and my student days are well gone. However, while it did indeed start out in 1992 as a student con, run by SF aficionados from our universities, I’m assured that while it retains its low budget profile, plenty of older people attend. The 2012 offering will be held from 20-22 January at St Georges College, UWA, and it costs only $25 to attend plus $80 per night accommodation – which includes breakfast.

Then comes Swancon, which I’ve been attending for about ten years. I’ve felt quite bereft the odd time I’ve had to miss a year! It’s held over the Easter long weekend (5-9 April next year) so there are four whole days of panels, discussions, academic papers, book launches and socialising. The venue for next year hasn’t been announced, but it will be at one of Perth’s many lovely hotels. It’s going to be called Doom-Con this time, to reflect an apocalyptic theme. The overseas guest-of honour will be no less a personage than Brandon Sanderson, while local girl turned Brisbanite Marianne de Pierres will be the Australian GOH. Fan GOH will be Chris Creagh, a lecturer at Murdoch University. (Chris is the initiator of the Murdoch University Science Fiction Foundation, which is helping with the preservation of the Murdoch Uni Library's valuable collection of speculative fiction material)

If you book and pay for Swancon before the end of December they’ll give you really good deal, too! Only $185 full price or $140 concession for the four days.

Next up will be one that’s close to my heart – the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre Mini-con on Sunday, 9 September. This one-day gathering of writers has been held at Greenmount in the Perth Hills every two years since 2004, so this will be our fourth venture into the convention business. It’s only a baby con – just the one day and well under a hundred attendees – but because of that it’s intimate and chatty, with interesting panels, a good lunch and lots of books to spend your money on. And the authors could well be in attendance to sign them, too. More news will be posted here closer to the time.

And lastly will come Crime Scene on the 29-30 September at Novotel. This is a new venture for Spec-fic in Perth, but a logical one because a lot of SF readers also read crime, and SF writers often need to research crime for their works. It’s hoped that guests will include crime writers and experts on police procedure, forensics etc. This con doesn't have a website yet but you can find them on Facebook.

So, add the various fund-raising functions and it will be a busy year on the SF front in Perth. And that’s without even thinking about cons in the other state capitals! Maybe we can give you a run-down on those events in another post.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Girl In The Steel Corset

I was poking around Big W the other day at the books. I love romances, so I was checking out the Harlequin section, which has quite a diverse range of books these days! I was quite confused for the amount of choices I had!

So of course, I picked one by cover! I got The Girl In The Steel Corset, by Kady Cross, which has a fabulous steampunk cover. Gorgeous image on the cover, with beautiful rich colours and a striking image. I was amazed to realise the book was a Harlequin Teen novel, and was officially YOUNG ADULT. I read the first two pages, and was even more amazed that it was a teenage romance novel. Except it wasn't.

The opening pages were interesting and did draw me in, hence buying the novel, but beyond that it didn't seem to deepen or mature in the topics it raised. The opening stuff was then basilly forgotten while every one ended up on this strange adventure where Queen Victoria was thrown in for good measure, and some of the characterisations didn't work for me. I wanted the lead heroine to explore herself more, to have more at stake with the story being told; I wanted her to learn and grow. And to be honest, I didn't realise she was sixteen. I thought she was mid twenties to late twenties! 

The other points of view felt quite similar to Finley's, and I found all of them to feel a little detached. It may just be the writing style is different from what I am used to, but I felt I was being told the character's emotional responses rather than feeling them, and the end scenes felt really forced. Also, Kady describes one of the girl's hair as 'ropey' about ten times. By the last quarter of the book I felt like shouting "I get it already! They look like dreads! Okay!" and I there was a LOT of discussion about what people were wearing that I thought was unnecessary. I would have preferred more time spent inside their bodies, and less outside.

Finley didn't really grow or develop as a character, and things seemed to happen where she then never really felt or did much about them after wards. After some shocking relevations about her parentage, she seems to just forget it, or have very little resonance with the big issue. I didn't feel for Fin much, and I didn't care if she did anything, and I didn't like her friends much either.

Things that didn't work for me - my favourite phrase which was TOTALLY out of place involved expecting some feathery wings to grow out of someone's arse. I was just so broken out of the book it took me a while to even try to read it again.

Despite all the negatives listed above, it was a very easy read. I can feel it draining from my head already, and expect to have forgotten the entire book within the week.

Sarah P