Young Adult, all grown up

Image from
Image from

At Continuum X on the June long weekend, I had the privilege of moderating a panel called “YA: all grown up”, which featured Guest of Honour Ambelin Kwaymullina, and other YA writers Amie Kaufman, Leonie Rogers and Sue Bursztynski as panellists. We had a chat by email beforehand, so kind of knew the sort of things we wanted to talk about, but of course, you never know where the conversation will go. With such intelligent and well-read panellists, it went all sorts of great places!

We talked about why YA was both important and popular, with readers of all ages, with the panel suggesting that YA is important because “the young matter more” (Ambelin), and that it’s popular for reasons such as the fact it share qualities with genre fiction, the writing is pared back, and YA stories tend to be more diverse that adult-oriented fiction. The reasons why our panellists wrote YA were discussed, and we challenged the idea that YA was “easier” than adult fiction, to write or read, although it’s often shorter and more to-the-point!

Recommendations from the panel for quality YA:

Tehani said (though it would change on any given day) that top reads for her are: Laini Taylor (the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series), Liar by Justine Larbalestier and recommends Awards lists such as the Aurealis Awards, CBCA Older Readers, Inky Awards and various Premier’s literary awards.

Amie suggests Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Legend by Marie Liu.

Ambelin says to pick what you love and don’t worry about where it comes from in the bookstore. Read something you wouldn’t normally read – diverse and different perspective and challenge you and make you smarter.

Sue recommends anything by Melina Marchetta and Michael Pryor’s Laws of Magic series.

Leonie seconds Ambelin’s words, and adds Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free MenBrandon Sanderson’s Rithmatist books, and Bonnie’s story, a blonde’s guide to mathematics by Janis Hill.

I’d like to thank the panellists for being so darn awesome and smart, and for making the hour-long discussion absolutely fly by!

Please note that the notes I took were definitely on the run, and my memory is always suspect. Hopefully I’ve not misrepresented or misremembered anything here – I welcome comments from audience members and the panellists if I’ve got it wrong or missed anything super important!


Conflux Writers’ Day – Saturday April 5 2014

9837-Conflux-writers_blkThe very clever Conflux team, headed most ably by Nicole Murphy, have decided to run the inaugural Conflux Writers’ Day on Saturday April 5 – that’s the day of the Aurealis Awards, which are of course now hosted by the Canberrans!


The inaugural Conflux Writers Day will take place at University House, Australian National University, Canberra. For one day, Australia’s speculative fiction writers will gather for hours of professional development.

The theme of the day is ‘The Writers Journey’, which will be covered by four sub-themes – ‘Writing Skills’, ‘Writing Processes’, ‘Submission and Publication’ and ‘Building a Career’.

Four plenary speakers will be addressing these themes. These speakers are:

Joanne Anderton
Kaaron Warren
Ian McHugh
Keri Arthur

There will also be concurrent presentations bringing great thoughts and ideas to writers at all stages of their career.

For more information, including the full program, head to the website!

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the day as I have to be at the CBCA Judging Conference, but I’ll look forward to hearing all about it after the Aurealis Awards that night!

Thoraiya Dyer guest posts at SF Signal!

Thoraiya is the only author to appear in every one of FableCroft’s anthologies, and I had the privilege of publishing her very first story with Andromeda Spaceways, and another early one in New Ceres Nights. You might say I like her work 🙂 Thoraiya has guest blogged at SF Signal on the topic of “Animals in Fantasy” – as a vet, she knows what she’s on about, and it’s an interesting topic!

From the post:

Prevailing wisdom is that fantastic secondary worlds are generic when they contain ravens, horses and hounds, but as soon as you insert a kangaroo, you jolt the reader out of their suspension of disbelief and rudely bring them crashing back to reality.

Read more at SF Signal!

So you’ve written a book… What now?

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 8.43.51 PMToday I presented for CBCA Tasmania on the topic of publishing. It was a well attended session and I thoroughly enjoyed both the preparation of the presentation and the talk itself. I spoke for nearly an hour and a half (thankfully there were questions too!) and was followed by Nella talking about the nuts and bolts (things like ISBNs, CiP application, legal deposit and so on) and Richard, who gave a brief overview on copyright for authors. My part focussed on the various options authors have for getting published, focussing on traditional, boutique and self-publishing routes. My presentation is made available to download here, for the purposes of the participants, but I don’t mind who else reads it (and it is licensed under Creative Commons, so you are welcome to use it under the licence conditions).

Obviously I spoke a lot more than what is contained on the presentation but you get the gist.

I didn’t really talk a lot about the specifics of marketing your book (whether you self-publish or not, you still need to market!) but did mention that it’s always useful to have ephemera such as bookmarks or postcards to pass out to potential readers and that Vistaprint has been having some excellent deals (you have to be patient and wait for free upload combined with discounts/freebies for the best bargains, but these do happen!). It also occurred to me that I might have spoken in more detail about social networking, but I think that’s a whole other session!

Thanks to all the participants who seemed to find the information useful, and particularly to Nella, both for inviting me and for practising her grandma skills so successfully with the baby I had in tow!

ETA: A couple more useful links that are relevant!

10 ways self publishing has changed the world

A contractual obligation (looking at contracts and what you are signing)

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

Guest Blog: Rabia Gale

FableCroft welcomes author Rabia Gale to the blog! I discovered Rabia’s amazing writing via a recommendation from Joanne Anderton, and have since devoured as much of her work as I can get my hands on. Rabia breaks fairy tales and fuses fantasy and science fiction. She loves to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. Rabia grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and now lives in Northern Virginia. Visit her online at See the end of the post for a teaser from Rabia’s latest work, Rainbird, (which I’ll be reviewing soon!).

Today, Rabia shares her thoughts on balancing family with writing, something which resonates with me strongly.

Balancing Act: On Raising Both a Family and a Writing Career

Juggling parenting, homeschooling, writing, and publishing is a tricky act—and one that often involves dropped balls, shattered plates, and knives falling all over the place. I can’t claim to be an expert at this, and it doesn’t help that as soon as I have one stage figured out, I’m confronted by something new and unexpected. (I can see the parents out there nodding their heads!)

However, a few attitude adjustments have made it possible for me to fit writing and family life together.

Everything comes in seasons. 

I might actually be able to have it all–only not at the same time. Raising my children is my top priority at this season of life. However, in fourteen years they’ll all be adults. I’ll be able channel more of my time and energy into writing and publishing then. Right now, I’m content to fit it into an hour or two a day.

There are also cycles in the shorter-term. There are weeks that I’m going to be busy with family activities, and weeks when I have to put more hours into my writing to meet deadlines. There are days I have to devote to housecleaning, and days that I set aside to deal with administrivia. Understanding these cycles keeps me from getting agitated or down on myself for not being productive in all areas every single day.

My routines are flexible

I always get a lot more writing done during the school year than in the summer because we have a routine. I know when we’re doing math and when we’re studying history, when the kids have gymnastics or taekwondo, what we’re having for dinner, and when I can write. Routines prepare my brain for each activity as it comes up, and free me from having to constantly make decisions about what I’m going to do next.

But we all know that Life Happens. So routines have to be flexible. As I write this, Hurricane Sandy is barreling up the east coast of the United States. Today I took stock of the pantry, filled up bottles (and bathtub) with water, did laundry, and mentally prepared myself for the storm.

I haven’t done a lick of fiction writing. But that’s okay. I know I’ll come back to it.

I’m going for the slow build

I want writing fiction to be my fulltime career when my children leave home.

But I’m laying the groundwork for that now.

Earlier this year, I self-published a collection of short stories. I followed that up with another collection, a short story, and a novella. I plan to release more work at a steady rate that fits my current lifestyle. I’m also submitting short stories to anthologies and ’zines.

I don’t expect to make a living wage from writing anytime soon. Instead, I’m working on developing good habits, learning from my mistakes, improving my craft, creating relationships with other people in the industry, and building my readership and my backlist.

I’m focusing on shorter formats

Before this year, I would have told you that I was a novelist to the core. Short stories were only flings; novels were my serious passion. As my life has gotten busier, shorter fiction has become more appealing to me as a reader. This has made me more receptive to writing it.

I’ve especially come to love the novella form. In a print-based world, novellas didn’t make much sense — too slim to stand alone on a bookstore shelf, too long to be part of an anthology (unless written by a Big Name). Now, because of digital publishing, we’re seeing a resurgence of the novella form, which is great for me.

Novellas allow me to develop my characters, setting, and plot while writing fewer words in less time. Much as I’d love to write an epic urban gothic science fantasy with wide-ranging scope, multiple points-of-views and encompassing several volumes, that’s my Someday Project. Considering my limited time right now, short stories, novellas, and short novels make more sense for me.

Thanks, Tehani, for having me as your guest!

Rainbird Blurb

She’s a halfbreed in hiding.

Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.

She lives on the sunway.

High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.

But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.

For Rainbird. And for her world.

Rainbird is a fantasy novella of about 31,000 words.

Now available at Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Excerpts at Rabia’s site


QWC writing courses (a public service announcement!)

Writing Science Fiction Short Story
Six-week course in July and October
Cost $150
Join one of Australia’s most successful authors of science fiction, fantasy and horror, Lee Battersby, for a journey through the fantastic art of the science fiction short story. Over six weeks you will learn how to build worlds, character, voice and mood in this challenging and rewarding form.

Kim Wilkins’ Year of the Novel led by Trent Jamieson
Year-long course starting August 2011
Cost $445
Challenge yourself to complete the ultimate writing journey in Kim Wilkins’ Year of the Novel under the tutelage of author of Dust, Christine Bongers. Christine will guide you through this course created by Kim Wilkins and help you get that manuscript finished in a year!

Pitching to Publishers with Tiana Templeman
Four-week course in October
Cost $150
This four-week course, starting 9 May, will show you how to push all the right buttons to attract a publisher’s eye. Discover what commissioning editors love and what they loathe.
From writing a captivating synopsis to deciding where to send it, learn about all facets of the proposal process for a range of writing including non-fiction, fiction, and children’s.

Introduction to Creative Writing
Six-week course in August and October
Cost $130
There are a lot of us out there who write, scribbling ideas on bus tickets, boarding passes and coffee shop serviettes, but who never seem to turn these notes into anything. If you have been scribbling away quietly but have never taken the leap to finish anything or call yourself a writer, clear a few hours a week in your schedule to sit down and rediscover the art of creative writing in this practice-based series of online activities and resources.

For more information on any of the courses, or to book your place, contact the Queensland Writers Centre!