Inspiration through images

This makes me happy:

An image I submitted to Painted With Words provided the inspiration for four very short pieces of fiction (you can argue about whether it’s “Flash” or not in the comments). The photograph was taken in 2011 during a family excursion to the Canberra Glassworks.

The happiness extends not only from having one of my images published, but that four writers created new things out of their brains after seeing this picture (click on the above link to read the four very different stories).

Photography by Lily Mulholland

Photography by Lily Mulholland

And the reason this brings so much happiness is that I totally bummed out in an ACT Writers’ Centre workshop a few years ago when we had a very arty farty short story writer thrust postcard images at us and tell us to ‘write, just write’. Well, I wrote crap (not to put too fine a point on things) and the experience was a little scarring πŸ™‚

Oh, you wanted to know about how my writing’s going? Well, if you count non-fiction, it’s going great! I’ve written more than 50,000 words in the past six months. If you don’t count academic writing, then, not so good. But the good news is, my longtime-coming MPhil dissertation is five weeks away from being submitted. And then, OMG I am SO ready to start writing creative fiction again. Bring it!

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Panaseeya rocking the national capital!


Well blow me down, our band, Panaseeya, has made it to the ACT finals for ABC TV’s Exhumed competition! The play-off is happening on Thursday 8 August 2013 at the Southern Cross Club in Canberra.

You can get your (free) tickets to the ACT finals here:

Come along and watch us battle it out with the four other bands selected from the Canberra region. It will be lots of fun and I hope to see you there.

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And now for some fun stuff…Panaseeya!

Panaseeya band photoIt’s not all doom and gloom right now. Although my writing is currently on hold, I have been doing some creating. I’ve joined with six of my classmates from college to form a band, which we’ve called Panaseeya. The course we’re doing is on strategic studies and the band name is tongue-in-cheek, as some people would like there to be a panacea for all national and international conflict. The band has so far played only one gig, but our second is planned for 24 August in Canberra, where we’ll be playing two sets. Our band is incredibly diverse: we have five guys and two girls, we have band members from Australia, Germany and Brunei, we play rock and pop and we have a great range of instruments, including sax and bagpipes!!

You can follow us on Facebook:

And on Twitter:

We’ve entered the Triple J ‘Exhumed’ competition for ‘mature’ musicians, so wish us luck!

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Disaster strikes…or, first world problems undo best laid plans, an academic I am not meant to be. My long-suffering MPhil thesis will remain in my life for a little longer: my annual progress review did not go according to plan and I am now about 6,000 words in the hole. New submission deadline is 31 March 2014. This means I’ll have a much better thesis, but that my fiction writing is on hold for the duration. Le sigh. #firstworldproblemsofmyownmaking

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Word counts, schmerd counts

581px-Word_Count_22000_svgIt’s a good thing word counts are excellent motivators for so many writers I know, but I have to confess I hate them! And it might not be for the reason you think. Some writers live by their word counts; seeing those figures tick up must give them a sense of achievement – good on ’em I say. But they don’t work for me. I’ll tell you why: I’ve written 32,500 words this year but I didn’t enjoy one of them. Why? Because they were all non-fiction/academic – for the two masters degrees I’m doing concurrently (yes, this is a self-inflicted wound). So, while I’ve chalked up the equivalent of a novella this year, my lovely stories remain in subconscious incubation and I remain completely frustrated as a writer!

On the upside (and fortunately I can always find one), I only have 24,000 words to go and both masters will be finished. Come the end of July, I’ll only 11,000 words left so can start getting some fiction downloaded from my brain. Given it’s the end of May, that’s not so far away, is it?

You still won’t find me posting about word counts. But you will find me happier and more satisfied!

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Conflux 9

Well, Conflux 9, which was also this year’s Australian speculative fiction writiIMG_0943ng convention (NATCON), has been and gone! Held last week from Thursday 25 April through to Sunday 28 April, the Con was a fabulous event that drew around 250 writers, publishers, editors and fans from around Australia and around the world.

As one of the organising committee, I was a busy little bee, running around and trying to take some of the load off the shoulders of the wunderkind co-chairs, Donna Hanson and Nicole Murphy, and to do the SLJs (shitty little jobs) the registration team would have otherwise been lumped with. Having run several large international conferences, I had a good idea of what I was getting into and, not having written any stories lately, was happy to be of use. I even managed to get into a few panels for a little bit of inspiration – storing up all that information for the second half of this year when I’ll finally be able to get to the list of stories I compiled at the beginning of this year. I am on a story ban until I finish my Master of Philosophy thesis, which is due in late July. I have written 20,000 of the required 40,000 words, so I’m making good progress (given I only had about 5000 words at the beginning of the year!).

IMG_0940Highlights of the Con for me were the social events, the Steampunk High Tea (where I dressed up as ‘steampunk girl’), the Regency Banquet, and the Masquerade Junkyard Disco, where we all danced up a storm to the memories of our younger days (and I have the blisters to prove it). The reason these were highlights was because that’s where you get to chat with and get to know the best people in the entire universe. I don’t think it’s a stretch to claim that the Conflux membership comprises some of the most supportive, friendly and generous writers found anywhere on the planet. This Con drew several guests of honour, publishers and agents I’d not met before and they were all so encouraging! Not to mention fabulous human beings (Alex Adsett, I’m particularly looking at you and your crazy lobster dancing!).

I also got to hang with my Brisbane writing buddy, Jodi Cleghorn, even though I did turn into a pumpkin at midnight each night and abandoned her to room parties. I just can’t do late nights anymore!!

IMG_0994What a fabulous Con. A huge well done to Nicole and Donna and the entire Conflux team. It was great and I look forward to Conflux 10 in 2014.

I am also inspired to head up to Genrecon in Brisbane in October. Who else is going?





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New Sun Rising wins Gold eLit Award

Wow! New Sun Rising, the charity fiction anthology that supported the Japanese tsunami relief effort, has been awarded a Gold award in the anthology category in the 2012 eLit Book Awards.

My story, ‘The Brewer’s Son’, is still one of my favourites. If you haven’t read it yet, you can buy the anthology in e-book ($5)Β or paperback ($10.05):

All proceeds to a good cause!

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What bringeth 2013?

Greetings, dear readers. It would appear the year of two thousand and thirteen has crept upon us. Great Scott and gadzooks!

Agh, I’ve come over all faux 19th Century. It must be the research I’ve been doing on the costume I’m preparing for the Conflux 9 Steampunk High Tea on 25 April. Are you coming to Conflux this year? It’s Canberra’s 100th anniversary and the 52nd Natcon – the panels have just been announced (I am so lucky to get a preview of all the goodies, as I am the con’s webmistress) and they look goo-oo-ood.

conflux9If you are umming and ahhing over whether to attend or not, you should definitely come. It’s going to be a great three and half days, with events on each night. I’m not sure how many workshops/panels I’ll be able to attend – I’m yet to see what my hours will be like this year (some exciting news on that below) – but they look fantastic.

I suppose I’m a little more excited for this year’s con than the last, as not only will it be bigger and better (it’s doubling as the national SF convention as well as our annual Canberra con) BUT I am also going to be writing again in 2013 after work forced a complete hiatus last year. I have changed jobs (I start next Tuesday) and am now a fulltime university student again. The government department I’m working for has somehow seen fit to sponsor me for a year of study and field research so I can complete a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies. It’s a wonderful professional development opportunity and it will also provide me with the headspace to make sense of the frenzied experiences of the past two and a half years, as well as consider where I want to take my career over the next five to 10 years.

I will also have the headspace to do some writing in 2013. Here’s what’s in the works:

– a short speculative fiction story set in a small regional city

– a novella set in post-apocalyptic New South Wales (Australia)

– some poetry (totally scary!!) to be performed at Bad! Slam! No! Biscuit! – even scarier!

– early development of a crime series featuring a female policewoman and set in regional New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory

– early development of a contemporary fiction novel set in Sydney and coastal Tasmania

The stories have been stacking up in my subconscious over the past 12 months and my brain is starting to overflow with ideas – I need to get them out before the characters start harming each other! I am not allowing myself to get into them completely until the other issue in my life is resolved – I have been tackling a research project to complete the Master of Philosophy (Business) that I have been undertaking at a glacial pace over the past four years. I have to submit the thesis by July this year, so this is my number one extra curricular priority…productive procrastination on my steampunk costume notwithstanding πŸ™‚

So, these are my writing/creative goals for 2013. What are yours?

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A lovely bunch of coconuts

What a lovely bunch of coconuts we are! The Australian speculative fiction scene is so friendly, encouraging and supportive – I had a blast over the weekend catching up with writers and readers I knew and meeting lots of lovely new people at Conflux 8. Held at the Canberra Novotel over two days packed with panels and workshops, Conflux is the annual spec fiction conference held in Canberra. With special guests like mega-best-selling fantasy author Keri Arthur and Coeur de Lion publisher Keith Stevenson, there were lots of opportunities to ask all those questions you’d ever had about speculative fiction.

I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in two panels: The art of scene and mood setting in dark fantasy, with Alan Baxter and Tracey O’Hara, and Fantasy entities other than dragons, fairies, kings and queens, with K J Taylor and Tor Roxburgh. I had a great time talking about both topics from the perspective of a short story writer – the panels were great mixes of well established authors, novelists and short story writers and it was interesting to see different themes emerge from the different mediums.

YA fantasy author D L Richardson has a great post here on the ‘other entities’ panel.

It was great also to be able to interview writer, editor and publisher Jodi Cleghorn – my interview with her will appear on this website in the coming weeks.

I really enjoyed the weekend and came away inspired to find a way to fit some more writing into my crazy, over-partitioned life. A writer must write to be a writer, after all!

Thanks to Jane Virgo and the Conflux8 committee for another wonderful Conflux!

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Conflux 8 is on this weekend in Canberra


I’m looking forward to the annual Conflux speculative fiction conference, which is being held at the Novotel hotel in Canberra this weekend, 29-30 Sep 12.

Some great local, national and international speakers will entertain writers, readers and fans of speculative fiction over the two days of the conference and I’m looking forward to hearing what they’re working on and latest thinking about how we can keep SF fresh and relevant.

The theme for Conflux 8 is On the Beach – an Australian Apocalypse. You can find the program on the Conflux website (if you read it closely you will see that I am featured on two panels this year!).

Are you coming to join us? See you there.

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