Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Conflux Part Two

If Friday of Conflux was mainly bookstores with a little panel work thrown in, Saturday was more about the panel.
It kicked off with a Starting The Journey panel, about the steps you need to take to get yourself published.
My fellow panellists were Voyager author Nicole Murphy, Angry Robot author Jo Anderton and ex-Harper Collins editor and online guru Natalie Costa Bir.
Nicole, as moderator, pointed out just how many people in the audience wanted to be published with a quick straw poll. Given there would be hundreds more across Australia, it brought home the enormity of the challenge.
I guess the message I tried to convey was simple.
Out of every 100 submissions an agent is sent, they will ask for perhaps five full manuscripts. Out of that five, perhaps one will be selected. maybe even one out of 120. It's that tough.
So it's up to you to do everything possible to make sure you are that one. Because if you don't, then you can be sure someone else is.
If that means thinking about the commercial possibilities of your work at the earliest stage, then so be it. Obviously don't try to slavishly follow what you think is the latest trend - you have to write something from the heart - but it makes sense to appeal to as many people as possible.
That was an enjoyable panel - and funny in that you could see the audience tweeting furiously as the advice came out!
After the panel, it was off to Dymocks Tuggeranong, where the long weekend rain had brought the shoppers out in hordes. As usual, they were happy to buy books from an author and I sold plenty of trilogies and also swiftly sold out of Wounded Guardians, leaving behind a happy bookstore!
An author-in-residence spot came next, and a great chat with the delightful Natalie, my copy editor extraordinaire and tweeting expert Abigail Nathan (Bothersome Words) and author-to-be Zena Shapter. They kept me company before it was time for a panel on Writing With Dinosaurs, about common themes or motifs in writing.
My panellists here were fellow Voyager author KJ Taylor and sci-fi author Simon Petrie.
I met KJ at my last Conflux in 2009; our books were and are on a similar time frame for release. More, I like the way she thinks - and she's always entertaining as a fellow panellist!
Our panel ranged across ideas and similarities within writing and I revealed a couple of recurring motifs within my own work ... a donkey and a bedtime song!
Once again, at the mass book signing, we sat together and chatted ... very necessary as we didn't have books to sell and sign!
The Sunday saw my final panel - Fantasy Accoutrements - the things every fantasy character needs.
I kicked off with the Goblinator 6000 Mark II ... it slices, it dices and it also has a handy attachment for cleaning the blood out from underneath the fingernails.
It's better than the Mark I, which had a tool for clipping nose hairs, except the button for that was too close to the slicer, which had several unfortunate incidents ...
In all seriousness, I highlighted the need for logic - as well as Hollywood's distressing habit of breaking rules of history and sense in its portrayal.
Basically, you can do whatever you want, but have it make sense. You can't sleep out for several nights without getting dirty and needing to carry plenty of food. Swords and other weapons lose their sharpness. Quivers mean you drop arrows everywhere.
I like to use history as a guide. Humans living in those environments coped as best they could and seeing how they did gives you a perfect start.
If you want to get creative, then that's fine as well - but have it make sense.
And as KJ Taylor pointed out, think things through to their logical conclusion!
I had a fun kaffeeklatsche afterwards but then called off my reading with my voice struggling due to all the bookstore appearances.
All in all, a fun Conflux. I met plenty of wonderful people and hope I said a few things that helped people, a little!

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