More from Denvention Worldcon


Worldcons are not just about panels, of course. [Pamela Freeman, Brandon Sanderson, Karen Miller, Margaret Bonham, Patrick Rothfuss on a panel entitled: “The Return of the King: the novelist’s fascination with monarchy.]

There are so many good things …

The bid parties. The Hugo Awards. Meeting people. The room parties. The Masquerade. Chatting in the green room. Chatting in the bar. Chatting to writers, readers, publishers. The fan parties. The readings. The kaffeeklatches. Did I mention the partying?

For someone like me, living in a place where there are no other writers like me, where the opportunity to meet up with my editor or agent or beta readers or fellow writers is as rare as being able to read all the books I’d like to, a con is almost a necessity. And boy, did I revel in it. And I met so many interesting people I’d never met before, but had heard about or whom I had read. And they are all people who like to talk about reading and writing and books. Paradise.

I shared a panel with Robert J.Sawyer and had dinner with the Orbit US team; I found myself chatting to Elizabeth Moon about snakes and the environment; with Jim Frankel, Tor editor about all sorts of things; with Carol Berg about how to deal with a noisy husband when you want to write; with reviewer and fan writer Cheryl Morgan about all sorts of interesting stuff; with Kate Elliott about her new novel and her husband’s job as a forensic anthropologist and writing and reading and..; with Phyllis Eisenstein about collecting books; and with writer David Coe about covers and writing in general. My room-mate Donna and I had dinner with Gary K.Wolfe and Amelia Beamer of Locus Magazine, novelist Kate Elliott, academic Farah Mendlesohn and David Hartwell of Tor/Forge Books, who had just won a Hugo for Best Professional Editor. Kendall turned up to my reading; other fans brought along books for me to sign at various times, and Sarah and Andrew – who weren’t attending the con – came all the way into Denver to buy two sets of the Mirage Makers. How cool is all that?

I am already wondering just how I can possibly get to Montreal next year without breaking the bank. Never mind, the year after Worldcon is in Melbourne! Start saving folks…

Oh, and I know why obesity is a problem in USA. I got served the largest slice of cake I have ever seen in my life. That thing is sitting on a full-sized dinner plate.

Denvention panels


One of the things that people do at a sf/f convention is go and listen to the panels. There are plenty of them to choose from, and the problem is often which to choose because there are a large number of them on at the same time.And there are several different reasons to choose to attend a particular panel. After all, who could resist a panel that included Connie Willis, George R.R. Martin and Lois McMaster Bujold and (if I remember correctly) Larry Niven, all talking about how they started reading SF and what their early influences were? Or one (top pix) with Joe Haldeman, Connie Willis and Mike Resnik? The title of that one was: “The Best Convention Panel Ever”, but they spent most of their time talking about “The Worst Convention Panel Ever”, and similar disasters instead. It was a laugh a minute. Then there was the panel on “Making a Living Telling Lies” with Jo Walton, Jay Lake, Connie W., and Bill Mayhew.

So the first reason is simply for listening to the greats of sf/f talking about what they do best – writing – and their influences.

The second reason is for information. Want to know about agents and what impresses them? Or listen to Brandon Sanderson talk about the last Wheel of Time novel? Or learn about the reality of space drives? Or dinosaurs? Or a world without fossil fuels? Or the Future of Libraries? There were panels on all those things.

My three panels wavered between great fun and…not so much. As I thought, the birds and dinosaur panel would have been a bit of a disaster for the audience if they’d only had me to listen to. As birders, David Coe and I sort of faded into the background and let the experts on dinosaurs take over. They were much more informed and I ended up learning quite a bit.

The panel on kicking off a story by using the myths of our cultures was interesting and ranged all over the place, taking in everything from ‘have we had enough of King Arthur?’ to cultural appropriation (.e. should writers use the mythology of another living culture, especially if they are going to alter it for their own purposes, or if it is still part of the religion of that people. Short answer: No. Exception: if you really know and respect the culture, enough to ensure that you won’t offend, then – sure.)

The panel on writing in spite of one’s environment was fun. A small and interested audience added to the debate, and the panel – all of us very different in how we approach the same problems – was a good mix.

Unfortunately, I never seem to get to enough panels because there is always so much other stuff going on – more about that next time.

A peek into The Mirage Makers…

Jennifer Fallon has pointed out that Harper Collins Australia website now has the”browse inside the book” facility. You can now take a peek inside each of the Mirage Maker titles here by clicking on the title of each book. Be warned though, the pages they offer you are not entirely consecutive – they are the first 3 pages of each chapter! Enough, I guess, for you to decide whether you will like the story. One thing for sure, there are a lot more pages there than you get with Amazon.

They have not done the same thing yet for the Isles of Glory, although you can read extracts of The Aware and The Tainted.

International Times for Virtual Conflux

Aah, Hrugaar tells me I have got the International times for the Virtual Conflux sff convention wrong. Let me check. I always am lousy at this!

Yep, here are the correct times for my appearance:

Malaysia/Perth: 10 a.m. Saturday
Canberra/Sydney: 12 noon Saturday
Los Angeles: 7 p.m. Friday
New York: 10 p.m. Friday
London: 3 a.m. Saturday
Paris: 4 a.m. Saturday

Thanks Hrugaar. My apologies to everyone. Bet I don’t get many from UK or Europe…but do look at some of the other writers instead who will be online at hours more compatible.

Come chat with me!!

CONFLUX is the science fiction/fantasy convention held in Canberra. This year, prior to the convention they are repeating what they did last year: having a Virtual Convention. Next weekend.

So even if you can’t go to the real thing, you can come and chat online to some authors including myself, guests at the real con, editors and others in the business.

Here’s how:
Log on to this address* – find the section devoted to the author/celeb you want at the time scheduled for them – and chat!
Each has an hour allotted to them. You can throw them tough questions, tell them how much you loathed loved their books, ask what they are doing next, tell them how to write….whatever.

Here’s when:
Next Saturday and Sunday, Oz time. I start the programme at 12 noon Eastern Australian time on Saturday. (That’s 10 a.m. Saturday Western Australian/Malaysian time; 10 p.m. Friday night in New York; 7 p.m. Friday night in Los Angeles; 7 a.m. 3 a.m. Saturday in London – if I have my international dateline worked out properly. (Sorry about the original incorrect time for London.)

Here’s the programme and the participants:
Saturday August 2

12 noon – Glenda Larke

1pm – Chris Barnes
2pm – Gillian Polack
3pm – Bruce Gillespie
4pm – Phill Berrie
5pm – Stephen Hunt
6pm – Peter Strong
7pm – Karen Miller
8pm – Fiona McLennan
9pm – Maxine McArthur
10pm – Sharyn Lilley
11pm – Karen Herkes
12 midnight – Ellen Datlow

Sunday August 3rd

1am to 6am – break
7am – Sherwood Smith
8am – Nicole R Murphy
9am – Jonathan Strahan
10am – Kaaron Warren
11am – Sean Williams
12pm – Kevin J Anderson
1pm – Cat Sparks
2pm – Jackie French
3pm – Jack Dann
4pm – Simon Haynes
5pm – Marianne de Pierres


Writing progress

Getting there, getting there. If I think of the target for the first draft as being 170,000 then the picometer looks like this which is even better:

However, I am taking a bit of a break for a few days, and going back to book one instead. There are a few minor mistakes in continuity and a bit of tweaking that needs to be done; besides, I need to check that I remember what happened in the first book…yeah, my memory is that bad!

Anyway, here’s a bit of description from Book One, if you feel like a peek.

Davim the Drover, Sandmaster, sat on his pede at the top of the dune they called the Watergatherer. To the east and west, the red line of the dune humped away as far as he could see. To the north, it fell sharply to the plains. This, the front edge of the Watergatherer, was a wall of fine red dust unsullied by any plants or growth, a slope steep enough to have made walking difficult. Its top edge, towering a few hundred paces up, was as sharp as a sword cut. An occasional playful gust of wind tore grains away from the cut in flurries.

The back side of the dune was different. There were gullies and dips and hollows, but mostly it slipped gently down to the plain in a long slope of several miles. The red sand was dotted with vegetation: a prickly bush here, a sand-creeper there; a clump of smoke-bush behind that. Bare surface showed through, but the plants maintained a precarious existence, oblivious to the slow inching of the dune that carried them forward.

The red dunes of the quarter were waves swallowing up the land in front only to discard it behind two or three decades later, leaving it lifeless, the skeletal remains of a masticated meal. The Red Quarter had sixteen such dunes, each spaced equidistant from the next, each on its inexorable slither northwards to extinction, death being a long slow demise as they eased themselves into the expanse of the Burning Sand-Sea, a desert so hot and vast that not even a pede ventured there.

They were birthed in the south, those dunes, perhaps by the eroded red rock of the Warthago Range, or the red earth of The Spindlings. The plain they traversed was also red, although the earth was coarser and its vegetation sealed it tight against the depredations of the wind. It was covered with low bushes, rocks, the odd waterhole — until the next parallel hill line of sand ten or fifteen miles away.

Davim scanned the country carefully from his vantage point, watching for the man he expected. His fellow conspirator, he supposed, but he preferred to think of the man as the Traitor, for such he was to his own kind. Once Davim had respected him, though not now. Conspirators they might be, but Davim despised the treachery, useful as it was, that was bringing the Scarperman to him again.

Synopsis nightmare

I love it the way my agent blithely says: Send me a synopsis, will you? – as if I can churn one out in ten minutes. I’d rather write a 5,000 word chapter than one synopsis for a single book, and I’d make a better job of it, too.

And this one is for a whole trilogy.
We are talking summarizing half a million words down into something that makes sense and sounds interesting. For a fantasy. Right. Aaaaargh!

So I sacrificed a whole day of novel writing to write a synopsis instead…and I still think it sounds like the lunatic ravings of someone on hallucinogens. I had actually done this before, a year and a half ago, but at the time the books were unwritten and the trilogy was actually going to be a quartet, so it needed changing drastically now that it is only 3 books and one and a half of them have already been written.

Imagine an arid, ancient land where it no longer rains without magical intervention.

Such is the Quartern, where rainlords sense and move water and cloudmasters make and break clouds to bring rain. Their abilities bring them unlimited wealth and power, as well as a burdensome responsibility.

When potential new cloudmasters are murdered and the land is left short of water, a boy with the ability to move clouds becomes a pawn in a power struggle that leads to war, and two squabbling rainlords are forced to marry in order to produce more cloudmasters. In the meantime, in a poverty-stricken Quartern city, a girl able to depict the future on the surface of water is trapped in a painted destiny, not knowing that her skills will one day be crucial to the survival of the land.

The three books follow the story of these four characters in a time of drought and war, when men and women governed by greed seek to rule, and honour means risking all to stop them.

If only I could stop there.


I am writing,
and writing…


The man beneath her was dead.
His eyes stared upwards past her shoulder, sightless, sad, the vividness of their blue already fading. For a while his blood had seeped from his wounded chest into her tunic, but that had slowed, then stopped. She did not know his name, although she knew him by sight. He’d been a guard at Breccia Hall. Younger than she was. Eighteen, twenty? Too young to die.


Men don’t read cats??

I often delve into a blog site called Writer Unboxed. Great place for writers and people who want to be writers and for readers who want to know a bit about the process. The brain child of Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton, the site now involves a number of writers, such as Juliet Marillier (who lives in my home town and whom I have recently met for the first, and I hope not the last, time).

Recently Kathleen was asking her mystery-reviewer husband what earns a poor review out of him, and he remarked: “Cats. If you have to put a cat in your book, be aware that most men will not read it.”

Okay, you guys out there. I want to know – is this really true? And if so, in heaven’s name, why?? Ladies, ask your spouses, partners, brothers, fathers, sons: do they read cats?