Image: Art work by Shauna O’Meara
Image: Art work by Shauna O’Meara

This year I decided to head down to Canberra for the October long weekend to attend Conflux 10 – the annual Speculative Fiction Conference. It was packed full of interesting panels, workshops, an art show, book launches, costumes, pitching and partying! For me, being a first timer I attended as much as I could (I’m sure visiting the hotel bar was mandatory), and I met some great new people and chatted to others I’d met at the Aurealis Awards in April (Read my blog post about the Aurealis Awards).

Thank you Kaaron Warren for saving me from loitering at the bar on my own on Friday night. I had a great night chatting to you, Shauna, Rob and Stephen and Marieke plus a few more. Also thank you to Richard Harland and everyone else who welcomed me into the spec fic community…and Maureen who was my partner in crime for the weekend. Also, I’m loving those girls from the Eurobodalla Writers group – Marisol, Anke and Cat – I will certainly be catching up with you when I travel down to see Mum in Bermagui next time!

I pitched my book for the first time too. Pretty badly. Please don’t ask me what my book is about – I’m still struggling with a disease I like to call ‘literary babbling’ when asked that question. Must nail elevator pitch!!!

Thank you Stephen Ormsby at Satalyte Publishing for encouraging me to pitch. On Saturday I was completely unprepared as I wasn’t planning to pitch (my book is a children’s novel & I didn’t think any of the publishers were looking for that) but after Stephen said to pitch I thought – why not? So I did! And yes, there was babbling and shaking hands but I managed to get something out and will send some writing through to Satalyte Publishing to check out – it might not be what they are looking for but its time I put this book out there – either that or put it in a drawer and continue with my other projects. I’m really looking forward to working on my new ideas next year and finishing a few half-started short stories – I’ve almost had it with Alex Greyson and his bloody dragon!

Conflux 10 – Friday

Workshop with Jack Dann – read more about Jack and his extraordinary writing career HERE

I read up about Jack Dann before the course so I knew he was legendary in the spec fic scene so I was excited to head to his workshop ‘Not for the Fainthearted – How to Write Saleable Fiction’. He talked about writing every day and the trick to being a writer is to be ‘in‘ your life and write every day. Don’t wait to write until it’s a good time, or you’re sitting comfortably at your desk – write when you can. Make an appointment to write – lock it in like any other appointment or job.

I practiced this while I was down there in what was a really busy weekend. I wrote 3 times for only 20 minutes and wrote 3 scenes for three different projects. It’s about making the time and just putting pen to paper. For me, the times when I need to carve out smaller times to write I achieve more by handwriting rather than the laptop, but I’m home now and have to admit I’m finding it a bit harder to do this with all the distractions of home! I blame dachshund puppies.

Main distraction from writing
Main distraction from writing

Jack talked about how to come up with new ideas and to write with dramatic forward motion – be crystal clear in your writing, to know where your protagonist is in the scene and where the other characters are placed – don’t forget to ground them in the scene, treat the viewpoint of the protagonist as though they have a camera.

There was much more from Jack on plotting, doubts as a writer (it never goes away!), to remember how far we’ve come as writers and to push ourselves beyond what we are capable off, getting over the middle of the book slump, creating conflict for our characters, along with handouts from other legendary people about their writing process and helpful hints about the craft of writing.


Workshop with Dawn Meredith – read more about Dawn Meredith HERE

Dawn’s workshop ‘Writing for Children – Reliving the best bits of childhood’ was so informative for me. As a writer of children’s fiction (so far – I may branch out in the future!) this workshop was fantastic. Dawn ran through all the forms of children’s literature from picture books to young adult and talked about everything from phonics, the national curriculum, what newsletters to subscribe to and organisations to join (CBCA, SCBWI & a few more) what social media works for her, and all the different forms of children’s literature – including writing for school text books (fiction & non-fiction), getting published in anthologies, small press publishers, and lists of age appropriate words to use in books for younger readers, plus much more – she packed a lot into the session.

Towards the end of the session Dawn handed out a sheet with memory prompts from childhood – we were to pick one that meant the most to us and write a story. We wrote for ten minutes. This was amazing – everyone in the room managed to jot down something powerful in ten minutes, and after we discussed each persons writing all agreed that each had a story idea there. Such an informative session – thanks Dawn.

 Book Launch: Jack Dann’s short story collection Jubilee by Satalyte Publishing and introduced by Margo Lanagan

Image: Satalyte Publishing
Image: Satalyte Publishing

Jack Dann is a best-selling, award-winning storyteller of the highest order. His work has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Roald Dahl, J. G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick; and his short fiction is known for its originality, scope, and narrative powers. A Jack Dann collection such as Jubilee covers many genres, from magic realism to fantasy and science fiction. And each story will take you on a journey that will stay with you for a very long time.

Featuring 18 stories, ‘Jubilee’ gives an incredible insight into the man who has penned such modern classics as The Memory Cathedral, The Rebel (to be released in its original form by Satalyte Publishing) and The Man Who Melted.

  • Click HERE to purchase


I survived Conflux 10 – Part 2 coming soon…..there is just too much for one post!


3 replies to “Conflux 10”

  1. Conflux sounds great! Makes me wish I’d been there. I’ll have to make the time to go next year. And I know what you mean about pitching… it’s so hard, and I never seem to be able to condense my story into an elevator pitch that actually sounds appealing. I think I may also be suffering from a case of ‘literary babbling’!

    1. Yeah, it was fun. I didn’t know many people but by the end I did! Really worth it as the panels were mostly geared towards speculative fiction which was awesome. I’m doing Literary Speed dating at the NSW writers Centre next month so I definitely need to nail the pitch by then!

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