Along with 70 other authors who have romance in their novels, I’ll be participating in the Australian Romance Reader’s Association mass book signing on Saturday 9th August 2014 from 5-6pm at the Pullman Hotel in Olympic Park. If you’d like to attend, you can purchase tickets here. I’d love to see you there!
I recently went on my first cruise. It’s been a long time coming, but I was scared of the ocean (love to look at it, just don’t want to be on it) so the time had never been right, until I was offered the gig of being a Special Interest Speaker on a cruise, and I thought This is a year of firsts (see Game for a Change), why not!
I won’t bore you with my two-day-terror as we crossed a known rough patch of ocean (known to everyone but me, thankfully, or I may not have had the wherewithal to go) but would rather share the sparkly parts of the journey. Firstly:
Anyone who has ever been on a cruise will know what I mean. Cruise companies do food very, very well. There are multiple restaurants (bistro, a la carte, poolside, intimate cafe, gelateria, you name it) and most serve multiple styles of food. All whims catered to: Indian curries, wood-fired pizzas, sushi, tropical salads, roasts, the list goes on. Most are open all day, some half the night, and if that wasn’t good enough, there’s 24hr room service. As a vegetarian, I occasionally have to work hard to source a nutritious meal, but not on a cruise. Everyone is catered to. No one misses out, and gluttony is the order of the day. Then there was:
Beds turned down every evening with chocolates, afternoon hors d’oeuvres served to the stateroom, waiters everywhere looking to serve you, and on your weary way back on board after an exhausting excursion day, hot chocolate and warm towels to welcome you ‘home’.
Everywhere. Honestly. Everything from classical strings to reggae to soft rock spread out across the ship during the day, and at night, spectacular stage shows with world-class performances – either Broadway style shows, piano or violin recitals, big-name US comedians. You name it, they had it. Plus all the fun stuff people are apparently used to on cruises: bingo, bocce, ballroom dance classes, gambling, shopping.
My talks were part of the entertainment program, so instead of being ‘teaching workshops/talks’ as I’m used to presenting, they were to be infotainment. This meant fun and laughs sprinkled amid the info, which was a delight to plan and prepare, and even more fun to deliver. I presented 5 one-hour sessions over the course of the cruise on various topics related to writing, unlocking creativity, research and development of ideas, the power of story, using your own life to create stories and writing in different genres. My audience built over time and basically fell into two categories: Those who wanted some intellectual stimulation and were curious about how writers work. And those who wanted to write and were keen for tips. Of the latter group, many came up to me afterwards and said things like “Now that I’m retired I’ve finally got time to pursue my dream of writing a book, and thank you for inspiring me to get started!” So it was lovely to have been able to do that. Part of my career mission statement involves helping others achieve their dreams, so I was thrilled to have achieved that.
Was it a fabulous experience? Absolutely! I am so glad I went. Was it what I’d expected? No, not at all. It was way more glamorous, exciting and exhausting than I could ever have imagined. I took books with me to read and got none of that done. When I wasn’t on a ‘working’ day either presenting a session or chatting to people and socializing (also part of the job for Special Interest Speakers) I was on a shore excursion. The shore excursions were free time, and I got to do some amazing exploring, but all of that required energy and focus as well, so to be honest, there was very little downtime and by the end of the 12 days I was exhausted! Knowing what I know now, I’d probably pace myself better and have at least one day out of five relaxing on the ship (ignoring the port we’d docked at) and maybe having spa treatments or lying by the pool with a book. Napping. Napping would be good.
The extroverts among us would fare better, I think. I’m great at presenting, but being an introvert at heart, I need to crawl into my shell regularly to recoup, and I think that element of the trip was lacking. Next time I cruise, I’ll be more organized with pacing, and also checking out the route to make sure it’s smooth sailing all the way!
So that’s my story, now I’m curious about you. Have you cruised? What did you love about it? What would you do differently next time? I’d love to hear.
Angela Sunde, anthology, inspiration, Jann Webb, Karen Williams, literature, local council, Marianne de Pierres, motivation, Peter Matheson, Redland City Council, Redlands, Redlitzer, Redlitzer Award 2013, Rowena Cory Daniells, short story, writing
Last Saturday I traveled to Redlands, just south of Brisbane to attend the Redlitzer Awards where local writers were presented with trophies and certificates by the Mayor, and saw their winning short stories published into anthologies. I was involved as a judge, selecting the winning stories, along with authors Rowena Cory Daniells, Marianne de Pierres, Angela Sunde and Peter Matheson. Two anthologies of winning short stories were launched (ten adult and ten teen stories in one anthology, and ten Junior in a larger ‘picture book’ style anthology), and that night thirty first-time published authors did a mass book signing!
I have to say I was really impressed with the way Redland City Council and their libraries handled the evening. Unlike other awards ceremonies where children are involved, there were no lollies on the tables, and no patronising cuteness. The Junior Redlands writers (now published authors) were treated to a very adult function with beautiful floral arrangements, lots of bling in the silver, black and white color scheme, and formal attire for the evening. I could see their parents were impressed, as were the parents of the teen writers, and I couldn’t help thinking that the formal celebration of their success would make these children’s aspirations seem more real, more professional, and more achievable.
I remember distinctly what it was like as a child and then a teen who knew she wanted to be a writer but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I wanted to be taken seriously, and for those around me to understand that this was a passion and a calling, and that there was money to be made despite all the ‘starving in a garret’ stereotypes. I didn’t want to be ridiculed or have my dreams diminished. Instead I wanted writing and reading to be celebrated, to be encouraged, and to be valued. At the Redlitzer Awards last Saturday night I saw that in spades. The detail and expense in preparing the venue (Victoria Point Library) was impressive, and the fact that the Mayor and two of her councilors attended, and stayed all night, spoke volumes about their commitment to the arts. You won’t believe the number of functions I go to where politicians turn up for photos and then leave. I was also impressed with the respect and encouragement the young (and not so young) writers received at the presentations and at the signing tables. I’m betting that for the first time in their lives, those thirty writers felt like authors, and that’s such a motivating factor.
Writing is a mostly solitary profession, and it’s often difficult to be objective about your writing and to value your own talent. Yet somehow we’re expected to be our own cheer squad, to pick ourselves up when we get rejected, dust ourselves off, remind ourselves that we can do this writing thing, and get back at the keyboard. A little inspiration can go a long way towards motivating us to keep at it, and I’m thrilled that at least one local council in Australia takes literary endeavor seriously and puts time and dollars into encouraging local writers.
Big thank you to Jann Webb at Redlands Libraries who I’ve worked with for the last five years helping tailor their writing program to meet the needs of local writers. Her vision of what can be is inspiring, and her ability to create miracles within a limited budget continues to astound me. In the time she’s been at the helm, three local writers who’ve attended Redlitzer writing workshops have become published novelists:
We all know it’s a long haul from ideas, to drafting a whole novel, editing it and then having the wherewithal to submit, be rejected and submit again. I can’t thank Redlands, and Jann, enough for sticking with their local writers, encouraging, teaching, inspiring and then celebrating their successes. To say there should be more of it is an understatement. Other local councils please take note! If you want your unique culture and your stories to be remembered and shared, this is how you do it. And for anyone who wants to encourage Redlands to keep on with their writing program, feel free to email the Mayor here (her email details are on this page) with some well deserved praise for Jann and her team. Cheers!
Running late with this: a quick roundup of
last weekend’s a fortnight ago’s Australian convention of all things sci fi and fantasy: Continuum8 in Melbourne. A big slice of the Aussie speculative fiction community turned up to hear their favourite authors speak, and my contribution was to sit on panels about fantasy world-building, romance writing, mentoring writers and digital technologies. I also did a reading from my work-in-progress erotic novel (which was fun – my first time reading erotica aloud), chatted in the hallways, wandered a couple of blocks down to Lygon Street and ate amazing food while (again) discussing all things literary with other authors, and hung at the bar. A lot. (although in my defence, often drinking coffee). The bar and adjoining restaurant were quiet places away from the bustle where you could catch up with mates and make new friends. Networking. Of course, it isn’t a con without costumes, and although I missed seeing Rachael Holkner as Wonder Woman, Tansy Rayner Roberts caught this great photo of her above which I’ve borrowed (there are more photos of the con on Tansy’s blog). I did bump into Donna Hanson (left) who is one of the organisers of the Canberra Con Conflux. She was pitching her con for 2013 looking all very Victorian/Steampunk.
Another item on my agenda was attending Twelfth Planet Press’s launch of Jason Nahrung‘s fabulously moody novella “Salvage” which I bought and had signed. It’s an awesome read and I can thoroughly recommend it. Here’s a photo of Jason (below) offering wine and cupcakes to punters at the launch:
More photos below of ‘networking’ around the bar and restaurant areas of the con where all sorts of issues about writing were raised and discussed. I sat in on a few discussions about bookstores and how they’re adapting. Apparently publishers are looking at the idea of selling marginally more expensive print copies of books that include an eBook code in them, so readers can ‘bundle’ their purchase to have both print and digital copies of a book. I also discovered that ‘classics’ are having a resurgence in sales as people download them free as ebooks and fall in love with them, then turn up at a bookstore to buy a print copy. Jane Austin, Dostoevsky, Homer, all getting fresh reprints, which is both lovely and interesting – ebooks driving print sales.
As well as indulging in deep-and-meaningfuls, we had a lot of fun, and to the left is a a pic of two people who gave us a lot of laughs. Ian Mond and Kirstyn McDermott won a Ditmar and a Chronos award for their podcasts of The Writer and the Critic. (if you haven’t heard them, check them out) They were also co-presenters of the awards ceremony and they gave the night some real pizzaz. I was also very impressed by the way the spec fic men scrubbed up in their suits. Not too shabby! The plastic octopus Ian is holding was a stand-in award as the proper trophies hadn’t arrived in time. Bonus, they squeaked! I’m reliably informed that the lurid plastic octopi will be exchanged for proper Ditmar awards in the near future.
Just a few more photos to round out the collection. Me on Lygon Street hunting down desserts, a homage to the fabulous architecture (and trams) of Melbourne, and a collection of amazing pocket watches I found in The Junk Shop on Elizabeth Street (very cool Steampunk accoutrements).
And for those who are lovers of movie/tv sci fi and fantasy, here’s the Opening Ceremony video highlighting the Craftinomicon aspect of the con – making costumes. I’ve got a soft spot for Dr Who’s dog K9 so keep your eyes open and you’ll see him in the mix. Just be aware that it has a fairly loud soundtrack!
The program for Continuum 8: Craftonomicon, the 2012 Australian National SF Convention in Melbourne from 8-11 June is now online and available to download. I’m on several panels, one of which starts at 10pm at night! I’ll have flown out at 6:30am that morning to get there so I’m imagining I’ll need some caffeine to survive that one. Panels I’m sitting on are:
Writing Different Genders, Sexualities And Cultures – Friday 6pm Our fearless authors delve into the ethics, issues and techniques for writing characters who are different. We’ll discuss how to work with unfamiliar, alien or just plain diverse perspectives and we’ll delve into the dangers and satisfactions of writing from another point of view. Finally, we’ll examine some of the reactions to ‘other’ writing and ask what motivates a writer to keep working with genders, sexualities and cultures that are not their own.
In Defence Of Romance – Friday 10pm Paranormal romance, or romance in general, is often dismissed as bodice-ripping fluff. But these are stories for and about women, written by women. They can be more than a guilty pleasure, exploring important issues. Do they have a duty to? Why aren’t novels written by and for men called dudelit and treated to the same derision? Are the cover designs doing the genre a disservice?
Take The Pebble From My Hand, Grasshopper – Saturday 9am When starting out on any path it’s always good to have someone you can ask for advice. Writing is no different and there are many people willing to help. Our panellists discuss how to find a mentor, the benefits of having one and the rewards of being a mentor.
The Future Is Now – Saturday 2pm eBooks, iDevices, apps etc are changing how we write and read. What’s out there, what’s worth using, and is all this technology a help or a hindrance? And where to from here?
Playing God – A Guide For Beginners – Saturday 3pm Building a new world for your fiction can be fun and exciting. But where do you start, what should you avoid and what makes it a living, breathing, believable world?
Writing Storyworlds – New Versus Existing – Saturday 6pm A discussion of the processes involved in creating convincing storyworlds from scratch compared with writing material for existing storyworlds such as Doctor Who, Highlander and Dan Dare
Continuum’s “Enchantment Under the Sea” Maskobalo, Saturday 9 June 2012: Photo op and costume awards at 8:00pm, dancefloor opens at 8:30pm. Costume Parade Take a turn 20,000 leagues below, and follow the undercurrents to a hidden realm of secrets and wonder, of sunken treasure and swelling tides, merfolk and kraken. Lose yourself in the siren-song of Maskobalo on this night of enchantment under the sea.
Readings – Sunday 4pm FARADAY room. Ask a manuscript assessor Q&A
If you’re coming to Continuum 8 I’d love you to find me and say “Hello”. I’ll be a long way from home so some friendly faces will always be welcomed!
Angela Sunde, Gold Coast, Helen Lacey, Katherine Howell, Kylie Chan, librarians, library, literati, literati 2012, Marianne de Pierres, Nicky Strickland, Queenie Chan, readers, rock star writers, Rowena Cory Daniells, Stephen M Irwin, Surfers Paradise, Tiana Templeman, Trent Jamieson, Watermark, writers, writers festival
Okay, some poetic licence there, but I am a fantasy author so I get to embellish. Nothing made up about the glamour of Surfers Paradise, however, and the Gold Coast City Council’s Literati writing festival 2012 ran as smoothly as the surf rolling up onto the pristine white beaches a block from the hotel where the authors were housed, the gorgeous Watermark. This is the view from my window past the iconic Q1 building:
Friday started with me up at 3:30am for the drive down the coast. I arrived over-caffeinated around midday, checking in to the Watermark to hang out my frock and dust off my heels before continuing to the bottom end of the Gold Coast for the afternoon masterclass I was tutoring on “Structural Editing” at the Elanora Library. It was a busy and exciting afternoon of pulling apart 14 authors plots and putting them back together again. I love the revelations that writers experience through this process but I’m well aware it’s unnerving to discover that your draft novel needs more re-writing than you’d thought it would! Still, the guys were very receptive to suggestions.
I finished up right on 4:30pm and instead of hanging around to chat (which I usually do) I raced out the door to drive back to the hotel so I’d have time to frock up for the evening’s Literary Feast which was to be held at the beautiful Gold Coast Arts Centre. After meeting in the foyer of the hotel, the glammed-up authors were bussed to the venue and then had cocktails together so we could meet those we’d be on panels with the next day. After that we were lined up in a dark corridor (bit spooky and some giggling at that point) waiting for our names to be called out…
On the other side of the corridor sat tables of waiting diners. Each author was ‘auctioned’ to a table of literary patrons for entree, main and dessert courses so once we found our places we were able to charm and chat with readers, librarians and friends of the library, all eager for the Literary Feast.
I met some awesome people, chatted to school and council librarians about their jobs, talked to readers about the way ebooks are changing publishing options for authors, and had the pleasure of introducing our representative Harlequin author Helen Lacey to the president of the Gold Coast Friends of the Library (the sponsors of the dinner) who was a huge romance fan! It was a great night.
The next morning I was up bright and early because the four masterclass tutors were on the first panel of the day at the Literati venue, the Robina Community Centre:
Left to right: Trent Jamieson, moi, Angela Sunde and Tiana Templeman. We all gave a short precis of what we’d taught the previous day, then took questions from the floor, and had some interesting discussion on how our private lives have influenced our writing, as well as how you should structure a novel to make it comfortable to read and yet unique and reflective of your own ‘voice’. I love listening to other writers describe their process so this was a particularly satisfying panel for me.
The local Gold Coast ABC radio station FM 91.7 was broadcasting from Literati and I was interviewed after my panel, which was a lot of fun. I managed to fit in some funny anecdotes (which is always a win) and really enjoyed the process:
Following the interview I managed to snag a bit of time off in the green room and had a lovely relaxed chat with Trent Jamieson (left, below) about his Death Works series which I’ve just bought book three of (and adored #1 and #2), and Stephen M. Irwin (who has such a cool website) and who also shares the same agent I do, the beautiful and talented Selwa Anthony.
Then when we’d caught our breath it was time to scoot outside and take our places at the signing table (below) where I got to speak to readers about my books and also to some writers who wanted help with their unpublished novels (keeping my author and manuscript developer hats both to hand).
There was time to catch up with other presenters after the signing session was over, so I snagged a ‘spec fic’ photo opportunity (below) when Marianne de Pierres, Kylie Chan and Nicky Strickland were all in the one spot with me:
It was also a pleasure to reconnect with fantasy author Rowena Cory Daniells (left, below) and my good mate Harlequin author Helen Lacey, so I had to get a ‘members of Romance Writers of Australia‘ photo of the three of us:
By this point everyone was getting a bit ragged, and with way too much caffeine and too little sleep under my belt it was time to leave before Evil Louise could make an appearance (assuming my lap-top smashing alter-ego exists). Now all I have are my lanyard and happy memories:
It was an awesome weekend of luxury, fun, insight, shiny red heels, spectacular creme brulee and deep-and-meaningful conversations – one of my favourite festivals on the Literary Calendar. I’m back home catching my breath and catching up on emails because in only a fortnight I’ll be zipping off to Melbourne for Continuum8, the national science fiction and fantasy convention. Am seriously looking forward to seeing who’s at the bar at that Con!