authors, Awards, june, Uncategorized

Au Contraire 2016

This weekend past I attended my second ever SFF convention. It was a long weekend, full of socializing, sitting in on fascinating panels and discussions, and which for me meant convening my first ever panel (Mythology, with amazing panelists), attending a launch for At the Edge (which has my short story Hope Lies North included), the SJV Awards (where I didn’t win anything), and a closing ceremony (during which I won a prize for having the best-coloured hair – truly impressive, because there were some awesome colours present!).

PhotoGrid_1465124777173I came home sick, but that was expected. It just would have been really nice if I hadn’t begun the weekend sick! lol I had a horrible case of vertigo all weekend, headaches, and a terribly sore tailbone after the first day or so of sitting. Despite the discomfort, I really enjoyed my time away! There were so many great talks, and I got to meet one of my favourite authors – Juliet Marillier. It was almost six years ago that I was geeking out over appearing alongside her in A Foreign Country, so it was really neat to meet her and to find she is just as lovely in person as online.

PhotoGrid_1465511685331I also came home feeling reconnected with the writing community in NZ. To see such a bounty of fantastic authors (who are also fantastic people!), to just hang, to talk story and craft and all the other stuff that goes along with being a writer was really awesome. Pretty much all of my local writing groups collided, and no-one died on impact ๐Ÿ˜‰ New connections were made, old ones strengthened. It’s a beautiful thing.

We also got to make an announcement about LexiCon, but it’s secret squirrel for now! Keep an eye out next week for that one. We’re almost finished lining up our guests of honour and after the weekend we have an abundance of panels to pick from. It finally feels like a real living thing. We all wanted to give Au Contraire it’s time to shine, and it did. It was a great weekend. Now it’s our turn ๐Ÿ™‚

Special thanks to all my writing crew for making it the weekend it was. You know who you are!! โค MISS YOU!!!

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Au Contraire 2013

I had hoped by now that I’d have something coherent and intelligent to say about my weekend away, but I really don’t feel like I do. It could take me another week, or more, to fully process the whole thing. But I thought it was better to say something, than nothing at all.

It was amazing.

I drove down to Wellington on Friday, stopping to catch up with a friend in Palmerston North on the way, and then arrived in Wellington a mere half hour before the Regeneration book launch. It was dark, and drizzly, and I went the wrong way, and then was doubling back when I managed to find a car park and decided to walk to the hotel as I thought it might be quicker (it was!). By the time I made it to there I was feeling pretty fragile and emotional, but I bumped straight into Anna and she showed me where the launch was. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years, and finally met other people in person, and I signed books! (haha, it had never even crossed my mind that I might be asked to do that – super cool).ย ย It was kind of surreal, really! I grabbed a burger with Anna for dinner and then pretty much stayed in my room.

It was a big day. First time being so far away from my babies. First time in… over seven years that I’d been anywhere out of town that wasn’t visiting family. First book launch. All these people, and then on the other hand being alone, in a room, just me! Just, massive, on so many levels for me. The hibernation was super important because it meant I got my home sickness out of the way and Saturday I could launch myself into attending panels, meeting more people, having great conversations and just enjoying myself in general.

The most valuable thing for me, I think, was making those connections – finally getting to meet people face to face after years of online interaction, and having it more than confirmed that NZ is truly a great place to be a writer. I have always been an advocate for the groups that we have in NZ, for the work SpecFicNZ does, for the important conversations that need to happen to raise the general public awareness of the fantastic speculative fiction writers we have in NZ. Meeting up with all these writers really boosted that feeling.

These are really awesome people, awesome writers too, but awesome people who love what they do, who have unique ways of viewing the world and bring those to the page. And I got to soak that up through the weekend, both inside the Con and out by catching up with a couple of other writer friends who weren’t attending. It was amazing.

Where I live there are very few writers, and I certainly felt the loss on Monday when I had to pack up and come home. Oh well, there is always next year, right? lol I’m still working on getting ‘back to normal’ though it feels like it has gone out the window entirely. I’m hoping that next year I am actually capable of taking notes and making a more intelligent post, but this will have to do for now ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you’ve never been to some kind of convention or conference where you can connect with other writers, then I urge you to give it a shot. Making those writer connections is super awesome. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, say hi to new people, ask questions, feast on the shared passion of writing. It’s totally worthwhile.

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Updates

So… I have been pretty bad with the blogging over the last couple weeks, but I swear I have good reasons!

I’ve actually been busy with writing. My new novella is sitting just over the 8,000 word mark and growing every day, I’ve had my results back for my first semester paper and got a stunning A- (best mark I have had in ages! And considering my ridiculously busy life, I was pretty chuffed with myself), and am now gearing up to head away for a weekend at Au Contraire.

This will be the first time since having Lauren and Natalie that I will be spending time away from my family, out on my own in the big wide world. And while I am SUPER excited about it, and crazy ready for some time ‘off’ from being a Mum, I’m also really nervous about the whole weekend and being away from my babies for so long (yea I know, a weekend isn’t really that long – just remember I home school, and I’m with them ALL THE TIME). I’m going to miss the heck out of them, I can already tell, and if you do see me over the weekend and it looks like there is something wrong with my arms it’s just because I am used to lugging a 3yr old around with me most of the time and my body isn’t quite sure what normal is outside of that. Maybe I’ll just keep them crossed?

I can’t wait to hit the road, I really can’t. I love driving, and it will be really nice to crank up some of MY music, and sing crazy loud. Some of the other rather mundane things I am looking forward to are:

sleeping all night
not starting my day at 4am
not mediating any kiddie outbreaks/tantrums/arguments for a few days
not being responsible for ensuring everyone is satisfactorily fed/clothed/watered/whatever
not cleaning up after everyone
(hopefully) not being yelled at for three whole days
maybe even sneaking in some writing in peace? Who knows.

I’m also very much looking forward to attending my first ever book launch (for Regeneration), meeting people face to face that I have known online for years, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone (and let’s face it, the entire weekend is out of my comfort zone!). It’s going to be an awesome weekend.

I just have to actually make sure I make it out of the house tomorrow, and stop imagining all the terrible, horrible things that could (but never will) happen.

Deep breaths. I CAN do this.

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A good week

This week has been a really good week. Despite us all having colds I am making excellent progress on this revision (only 10 scenes to go!). We’ve been doing lots of fun learning about lizard, more specifically monitor lizards, even more specifically the komodo dragon. I got to introduce the kids to Steve Irwin and we’ve watched his komodo dragon episode like once a day for the last three days. EXCELLENT I say.

Have been planning my youngest’s 3rd birthday party as well which is fun. I love hearing her input. She wants a blue dinosaur cake, a pinata, macaroni cheese, savaloys and sauce, and lemonade, and that’s pretty much it. In all her sweetness, she has made sure to invite all her family members – it’s lovely to have that confirmation that these are the people she loves the most.

I’ve started putting scenes from my novella out for feedback, which has been fun and means I am going over all the beginning scenes again, so it’s kind of like a double revision round, I guess. I’m really liking the way it’s coming together this time, so fingers crossed it won’t need too much more work. I know I could spend weeks poring over it, getting every sentence perfect, but who has time for that? Onwards!

This week has also seen me finish off a short story, which was a lot of fun. I haven’t done ‘creepy’ in a long time. I’d forgotten a) how much squick factor can be involved and b) how much fun it is watching someone as they read your story and just knowing which bits they are up to when they cringe or wince or just look terribly troubled. Muahaha.

Oh, AND I got to okay the ‘galley’ for my short story. That is always so cool! I love seeing how my story will look in the book, it makes me crazy happy!

If all of those things haven’t been wonderful enough, the timetable for Au Contraire was released and I’ve looked through it many times, imagining how my weekend away is going to go. Too much fun!

So, I am one very happy writer at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚ Everything is ticking along beautifully – long may it continue. I hope you’re all having a good week too!

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Au Contraire!

I’m going! Are you??

What’s Au Contraire, you ask? Au Contraire 2013: Regeneration is the 34th National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, and the second Au Contraire convention. It’s taking place early July in Wellington!

I have never been to a Con. It was just too hard to try and organize with small kids. But I’ve decided that they are definitely old enough this year and that if I didn’t book and start working towards making the necessary changes in order to go and feel like I wasn’t abandoning my family, I had to make the commitment NOW.

So I did it! And it felt great! Unless I manage to wrangle a trial night away from my kids before then, it will be the first time I’ve ever spent a night away from either Lauren or Natalie since their births. Yup, I am a veritable home body. There has never been a good enough reason to spend a whole night away from them. But this year I am going to be gone for three. THREE WHOLE NIGHTS and the days as well. In a totally different city.

Squeee! I’m going to a convention! I am so excited! I can’t wait to catch up with the writer friends I have met in person before, and to meet a whole bunch of people face to face for the first time. It will be so cool to finally do that. I definitely now feel like I am investing in myself, because there can be no mistaking that this weekend is for me. I’m not doing it for anyone else.

I will be there*, will you? Only another 5 months and a bit to go! And yes, I will be this excited the entire time! That’s just how I roll ๐Ÿ˜‰

*barring any sudden illnesses or disasters, of courseย *knocks on wood*

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Newbie writer nerves

As next weekend approaches, I find myself becoming nervous.

SO excited, but also, very nervous.

You see the anthology release is next week at Au Contraire in Wellington. A Foreign Country. A book with my story in it. A story I think is great.

That said, I am well aware of the fact that it is not an easy story, certainly not a comfortable story for some. I’m well aware of the kinds of thoughts it might bring to peoples minds. It’s not a story that people are going to love, even if it is a fairly well written story. Even if I love it (while still, after all this time, feeling somewhat uncomfortable about the fact I wrote it), even though I am proud of it. Even though after the first draft I knew it was a story I’d see in print.

It’s simply not an easy story to read, or love.

I’m repeating to myself that someone else saw the merit in it. Someone else thought it was worthy of inclusion. I wholeheartedly believe it is as well.

But my parents are getting copies of the book. My in laws. Friends, other family members.

For the first time I’m stopping to think about how they will respond to it.

I have no idea what they might expect from a story I wrote – I’m certainly not sure that Birth Rights is it! lol many of my family who are going to read it have read other stories I’ve written, but to be perfectly honest, I write quite differently now than I did 3 years ago when I was just starting to get serious about this writing thing. The content is different, the style is different. I’m a different person in so many ways, and my writing reflects that.

And that’s not even thinking about what the people who don’t know me personally might think…

It’s going to be interesting!

I do have to wonder though – will I still get this nervous feeling about how the audience will respond to my work 5 stories down the track? 10? 20? Any thoughts on that?

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SpecFicNZ – launching soon!

I am so very excited. SpecficNZ launches next weekend!

Over a year ago, I responded to a postย Ripley Patton wrote on the Kiwi Writers website and within a very short span of time a group of speculative fiction creators/enthusiast had banded together to form ‘The Core’. We bounced ideas around and worked together to form an organization which we hope will cultivate a supportive environment for genre writers within New Zealand, helping us connect with other creators, find markets for, and promote our work.

It has long been thought that NZ reader’s just aren’t interested in speculative fiction – obviously untrue when every book store has sections dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and horror. If people are interested in reading spec-fic from overseas, why not spec fic from NZ? As a nation we are incredibly supportive of NZ music, film and other creative endeavors – sadly, not so for the writer.

We want to change that.

If you love speculative fiction, if you write speculative fiction, if you want to see more of it from New Zealand writers then you should definitely check out the site.

The official launch is taking place at Au Contraire in Wellington on the 28th of August – if you’re down that way, why not head along and meet some wonderful people? Unfortunately I can’t be there, but I’ll be raising a glass of bubbly (sparkling grape-juice) to toast the organization on that night.

Membership will be opening up after the launch, and you’ll be able to get pretty web badges to show off (see mine over that way>>>>>).

Oh, so excited! It’s been a long time coming, but totally worth the wait.

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Birth Rights

I got notice a couple of days ago that my short story ‘Birth Rights’ is going to be included in the upcoming anthology ‘A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction’, which is due for release in August.

WOOOOO!

The Anthology is being put together by Random Static, in conjunction with Au Contraire – I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Birth Rights was the first short story I thought I would get published, and one that was a massive turning point for me in the way I feel about shorts. I can easily say that it helped me cross the barrier from feeling ‘so-so’ about them to actually enjoying them (maybe even loving them…). So to have it be included in a print anthology, being produced within my own country and full of other wonderful New Zealand writers is just amazing.

I couldn’t be happier about it ๐Ÿ™‚

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Another day, another thing complete

After the really terrible nights sleep I had last night, I was pretty uncertain that I was going to get anything done at all today. I was so tired, frustrated and well, miserable (picture me vacuuming, in tears, while my almost 5 year old asks me if I need to go lie down and cuddle my blanket for a bit, which of course was only going to make me cry even harder due to the pride I felt at my compassionate wee girl).

But I pushed on, did all the cleaning, I even got some washing out on the line, and then finally got the baby to sleep and lunch made for Ivy, at which point, knowing that I would have no time to myself that afternoon, I opened Birth Rights again (I’d made some changes to it last night before bed), and tweaked things until I was happy.

And I was happy. I am happy. I think it’s better, despite my initial worries that the subtle changes I was making weren’t connecting in the ways I wanted them too. I even decided to actually send it into the Au Contraire short story competition after all because quite frankly, the end of the month is rapidly approaching, and I’m not feeling like I can do better before then.

It’s really struck me over the last few days that I have nothing to lose by sending stories places. A rejection is not a loss, it’s just an indicator that for any number of reasons the story wasn’t right for the place. There is no need to take that personally. In any case, a rejection can be a gain in the event that you get some helpful feedback.

So, nothing to lose.

Not sure what comes next, though it’s nice to see my list shortened by two stories in as many days. Nothing is really grabbing me, but I have a feeling that if I have the energy tomorrow, something will.

Happy writing folks.

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October!

Can you believe it? It’s been almost a year since Lauren was born… and wow, what a year it’s been!

I’m feeling really excited at the moment… because I know that in the next few days I’m going to begin querying agents. Squee!

Because the kitchen is almost operational. YAY!

Because I get to start a new novel soon. Woo!

And just because life is so darned good at the moment. I’m feeling really blessed and energized lately, thanks in a large part to all the wonderful writer friends I have around me. You are all wonderful individuals.

Oh, and I’ve decided to be a good girl and wait til November… which is okay, there is a lot of reading and lots of short stories to tie up first, including hopefully my entry into Au Contraire’s Anthology competition. If you’re a kiwi writer, get working! There is plenty of time until the deadline, and it’s a great way to support spec-fic in NZ.

I sorted out a new NaNo account as well, being that my old one… well, it’s not really me anymore! So you can find me here.ย If you are participating this year, friend me ๐Ÿ™‚