CSFG

2017 AGM 18 October

A quick note to formally advise that next month’s meeting, to be held on Wednesday 18 October, is the CSFG Annual General Meeting.

Generally, the AGM will take up some of the first hour of our normal meeting (from 7:30 pm). The outgoing committee will report on the activities and our many achievements for the year, and current projects, and the members present will vote in a new committee and office-bearers.

Of course, you’re welcome – nay, encouraged – to nominate yourself if you’re interested in a role on the committee, be that President, Treasurer, Vice President, Public Officer, Secretary or general committee member. And remember that more than one person can nominate for a position (in which case the membership then votes between them). People usually tend to nominate for the committee at the AGM, but if you want to nominate yourself ahead of time, feel free.

Following the AGM, we are scheduled to hear a presentation from the Napoleonic Re-enactment Society. I understand that their presentation is detailed and awesome.

Submissions window open!

And our A Hand of Knaves submissions window is open! Check out our guidelines (for the love of all that’s holy, please read the guidelines) on our submissions page, then submit your word sorcery to knaves.anthology.csfg[at]gmail.com.

And check out our fabulous art from Shauna O’Meara. If you love it like we do, keep an eye out for our crowdfunding campaign for ways and means of scoring awesome Hand of Knaves swag featuring these images.

And follow all the news and updates on our new A Hand of Knaves Facebook page!

What CSFG’s up to in July and August

July

For our July meeting, Ian McHugh took us to market, to market to buy … well, to sell our short stories.

Ian provided insight on the short story market for speculative fiction, and the process of getting our work out there, and published. It all boiled down to a simple three step process:

  • Write the story (and edit it to goodness)
  • Submit the story
  • Repeat

Simple, but harrowing. Nevertheless, we persisted…

Here are the links to the two genre-focused submission lists which Ian mentioned:

and submission savvy members also recommended Submission Grinder.

Ian spoke from experience on the practical, and important, aspects of being professional, and checking for fit, response times, pay, status, and more. He talked about Helsinki buses (it’s a metaphor for persistence in creative endeavours) and about keeping things real when dealing with rejection.

And even though submitting your short stories to market meets Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result) Ian recommended it, to general acclaim.

August

What’s coming up next month? Well, they say every dog has his day, but every thoroughbred horse has its birthday on the 1st of August, and for our August meeting we’re talking horses.

Is it time to send in the cavalry on your WIP?

  • Does your writing include fictional horses which you don’t know how to whip into a shape which resembles something believably horse like?
  • Is your story languishing in the hard drive because your protagonist is riding around on a horse which currently has the personality of a grass-eating Skoda? (I’ll just park that over here, shall I?)
  • Have you always wanted to know more about a unicorn’s fetlocks?

Our panel of experts will be on hand to answer your questions about all things horseful … horsish … steedly – OK, let’s run with equine.

Best of all, if you ask your questions early, in the comments here, or on the group chat, our panel members will be able to give more thought to providing you with the details you need to make your fictional horses prance off the page.

Don’t miss our August meeting:

7.30pm, Wednesday 16 August

We’ll again be in the Metis Room, upstairs at the Canberra City Hellenic Club – it’s warm, it’s got fantastic food and coffee, as well as the bar, so you can have dinner before the meeting, or order something to be delivered to the meeting room.

See you there!

A Hand of Knaves – anthology update

The A Hand of Knaves (AHOK) editorial team (Leife Shallcross, Chris Large, Simon Petrie and Juliette Morley) has been hard at work behind the scenes organising a solid base from which to build our exciting new anthology. The premise of stories featuring rogues, scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells in speculative fiction seems to have struck a chord with writers and we’re looking forward to reading some fantastic stories when submission open next month.

The CSFG committee may have some announcements to make about some exciting AHOK-related developments in coming weeks, but for now we just want to remind everyone thinking of answering the call, that submissions will be open from the 1st of August to the 15th of November 2017.

That’s a pretty wide window, so there is absolutely no excuse for missing out. But don’t leave your submission to the last minute. Remember, Simon (our slushwrangling knave) will allow up to three of your stories to pass. That’s three bites at the cherry. So even if at first you don’t succeed, you can literally try, try again. Perhaps that makes us gluttons for punishment, but we don’t see it that way.

We want to read your stories of mayhem and misadventure. So get scheming, plotting, and scribing. Send us your brightest treasures, but polish them until we’re dazzled by their brilliance.

A Hand of Knaves will be a character-based anthology, so give us characters we can’t ignore, and will never forget. And writers of a darker bent don’t despair, while we’re definitely after tales of thigh-slapping adventure, we are entirely open to stories of heartache, woe and spine-tingling terror. If you still need inspiration, Leife and Chris (our editorial knaves) have opened up their (until now super-secret) Pinterest board – containing over 200 pins – to get those creative juices flowing.

Go get inspired here.

CSFG in June and July

For those who weren’t able to make it to our June meeting, we road-tested our new venue – the Metis room upstairs at the Canberra City Hellenic Club. This proved to be a bit of a winner, with members taking advantage of the opportunity to grab a coffee or a drink, or even dinner, before the meeting. The Chess Club next door proved to be very rowdy and based on the uproarious cheering, we can only imagine there were some very devious queen-takes-rook moves and dramatic checkmates going on. (Or maybe that was the crowd watching the State of Origin downstairs…)

Our scheduled session with Ian McHugh was unfortunately not able to go ahead (there is a happy ending to this, though), so we enacted our cunning Plan B. This was a round table discussion on was “What advice would you give your younger writer self?”, which generated some thought-provoking conversation. A sample of the advice offered included (paraphrased and possibly embellished by Leife):

  • Angus: make your villain someone you admire, make them the hero of their own story.
  • Rik: get that first draft done; polish the sucker later.
  • Dave O: Find your writing community. You will blossom like a flower in spring.
  • Louise: authors are human beings, not divinely appointed, godlike beings (which means you, yes YOU, have a shot at this); AND give yourself a deadline.
  • Juliette: don’t let anyone distract you from writing. Don’t let them tell you it’s not a real job or it’s a worthless activity.
  • Shauna and Amelia: Start earlier.
  • Tim R: make reading fun. Put the non-productive, non-fun things aside. Read and write the stuff you enjoy.
  • Simon: Take chances. Write the crazy stuff.
  • Leife: (Paraphrasing Ira Glass) You have good taste. Keep at it and one day you might measure up to your own standards.

And because Leife is actually writing this post, here’s a handy vid of the Ira Glass advice that struck a chord with her.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

And that happy ending you were hoping for? Well, if you missed the June meeting, or if you were there, but disappointed you didn’t get to hear what Ian McHugh has to say about getting your short stories published, we’ve rescheduled him for our July meeting:

7.30pm, Wednesday 19 July

The Metis Room, upstairs at the Canberra City Hellenic Club

See you there!

 

CSFG announces new anthology: A Hand of Knaves

We are very excited to announce that CSFG will be publishing a new anthology of Australian speculative fiction in 2018!

A Hand of Knaves

Edited by Chris Large and Leife Shallcross

Rogues, thieves, pirates and ne’er-do-wells abound in speculative fiction. Sometimes heroic, sometimes villainous, often somewhere in between, rogues are as likely to steal one’s heart as one’s purse, and show little remorse while helping themselves to either.

So why do we love them? Because they’re imperfect, fallible, and even vulnerable under that carefully-maintained, world-weary exterior.

Rogues represent something we rarely see in our daily lives: ordinary people prepared to take on the “powers that be” by way of guile and subterfuge. But are they only in it for the loot, or are they – deep down – romantic at heart?

We want swashbuckling adventures brimming with humour, loot, and bad blood. Gut-wrenching dilemmas, resolved (for good or ill), by the thrust of a knife in the dark. Thoughtful stories exploring the foggy spaces between justice, and the law. Heroic deeds performed by someone with a less-than-heroic past. Magic and/or technology, combined with charm and charisma, to pull off an impossible heist. Hilarious sea shanties. Sweaty tales of betrayal and Machiavellian intrigue. We want to discover passion, righteous indignation, and the depths of one thief’s hatred of another. How far will the lure of gold, revenge, or the promise of a midnight tryst push one toward the brink of what is honourable, and that which lies beyond? What horrors await a scoundrel who goes too far?

Has this got your imagination going? Good.

Our submissions window will open in August. The full details are available on our publications page.

What are you waiting for? Get writing!

And now, a message from the President

What we’ve been discussing at the CSFG…
…and what’s up next.

Here at the CSFG we’re always trying to challenge ourselves – push our craft of writing into what might be unfamiliar or challenging areas – and by doing so become more dynamic writers.

So, for our May meeting, we discussed writing the ‘other’ gender. Men writing women and women writing men – we’ve all seen it done poorly and we’ve seen it done well. Our very own Louise Peiper ran us through some of the different mistakes, hurdles and misconceptions and, importantly, how we can avoid and correct these. Louise artfully facilitated some lively, mature discussion in what can sometimes be a fraught topic.

If you missed out, then don’t be disappointed, because in our June meeting we’ll have Ian McHugh, one of our most experienced, talented and award-winning short-form writers, discussing submitting to short story markets. He’ll regale us with his considerable experience, describing where, how and who to submit, dos and don’ts, hints and tricks.

Come along and for some valuable insights.

Angus Yeates
CSFG President

Conflux short story contest – Blood, Gold, Lies

We are excited to announce that Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild is once again partnering with Conflux Inc to bring you the CSFG/Conflux 13 short story competition!

This year’s theme is (wait for it…)

BLOOD, GOLD, LIES

These bright and bitter threads wind through the heart of many a grim tale and we want to see what you make of them. We want your tales of 4000 words or under, incorporating these three words somehow, in any speculative fiction genre. It doesn’t have to be a twisted fairy tale, but it does have to be speculative.

The competition is open to all Australian residents and members of either the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild or Conflux 13.

Entry is $5, unless you are a member of the CSFG or Conflux 13 or you are aged 16 or under, in which case it is free!

Prizes

First prize is $200 and a 2018 Conflux 14 membership! Second prize is $50 and a discounted Conflux 14 membership, and third prize is $25 and a discounted Conflux 14 membership.

Guidelines

Stories should be written in English, suitable for a general audience (ie, no gratuitous violence or erotica) and, of course, your own original, unpublished work.

Please submit them in the following format: RTF, double spaced, courier font, with the story title in the top right header.

Make the first page of your document a cover sheet that includes your name, contact details and story title (we’ll remove this before we give it to the judges). YOUR NAME MUST NOT APPEAR ON ANY OF THE OTHER PAGES OF THE STORY.

Get it to us at csfgshortstorycomp@gmail.com before midnight on 31 July 2017.

Fees

Fees can be paid by direct deposit (BSB: 805022 Acct: 03421621 Acct name: Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild) or Paypal to canberra.specfic@gmail.com

(For other options or any more information contact us directly at the csfgshortstorycomp@gmail.com address)

Membership fees raised

The CSFG Committee agreed at the March meeting to raise annual membership fees. As of 16 March 2017, memberships will be at the following rates:

  • General membership – $30.00
  • Concessional membership – $20.00
  • Outer Canberra membership – $10.00

The Committee regrets this unavoidable increase. The hike in membership rates is specifically intended to cover new expenses for Public Liability Insurance and accommodation costs.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact the Committee:

Member News – November 16-January 17

We have a world of news to catch up on since our last update, which only goes to show that life can move pretty fast if you’re not paying attention (or if you just neglect your blog for several months over a very hot summer!)

World’s Finest!

One of the big ticket items on the speculative fiction calendar is the end of year proliferation of year’s best anthologies. This year CSFG have had a probably-record two entries in international volumes recognising the best S&SF of 2016:

  • Ian McHugh’s ‘The Baby Eaters’, originally printed in Asimov’s January 2016, will appear in in The Year’s Best Science-Fiction, Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois.
  • T.R. Napper (aka Tim)’s story ‘A Strange Loop’, originally printed in Interzone 262, will appear in Neil Clarke’s The Best Science Fiction of the Year – Volume 2.

Congratulations to Ian and Tim!

Australian Year’s Best

Ticonderoga Publications’ annual anthology of The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror is another highlight of the Australian speculative community’s year. An impressive lineup of CSFG members have made the Table of Contents this year, including Rivqa and Cat’s stories from CSFG’s most recent anthology The Never Never Land.

  • Alan Baxter, “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”
  • Kimberley Gaal, “In Sheep’s Clothing”
  • Rivqa Rafael, “Beyond the Factory Wall”
  • Cat Sparks, “Dragon Girl”
  • Kaaron Warren, “Mine Intercom”

Best of Midnight Echo

Australia’s premiere horror fiction magazine Midnight Echo, the journal of the Australian Horror Writers Association, recently published Dead of Night: Best of Midnight Echo. The anthology is “a showcase of Australia and New Zealand’s darkest imaginations”, and features stories by CSFG’s:

  • Alan Baxter, “Trawling the Void”
  • Shauna O’Meara, “Blood Lilies”
  • Zena Shapter, “Darker”

Recommended Reading

Early in the new year, a number of sites post recommended reading lists, summarising what they consider the best and most notable works of the past year – and again, CSFG members have made appearances.

Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List mentions two CSFG’ers: “Flame Trees” by T. R. Napper (Asimov’s April-May 2016) and “Breathing” by Leife Shallcross (Aurealis #95)

If that list isn’t long enough for you, you might also want to check out the Locus Online Recommended Reading List. It doesn’t have any CSFG members on it, but is still a useful collection of links to some excellent stories).

Anthology

Rivqa Rafael is co-editing an intersectional feminist spec fic anthology called Problem Daughters. Problem Daughters will amplify the voices of women who are sometimes excluded from mainstream feminism. It will be an anthology of beautiful, thoughtful, unconventional speculative fiction and poetry around the theme of intersectional feminism, focusing on the lives and experiences of marginalized women, such as those who are of colour, QUILTBAG, disabled, sex workers, and all intersections of these.

Problem Daughters is crowdfunding until 14 February 2017, so hop on over if you would like to support this project.

Rivqa recently had a guest post on Elizabeth Fitzgerald’s blog regarding Problem Daughters and international differences in diversity. She’s also appeared in conversation with Gillian Polack at The History Girls blog: Two Jews, Three Opinions.

Other News

Satalyte Publishing

After all that good news, some bad: Satalyte Publishing went out of business early in the new year, which has sadly affected a number of CSFG members. Commiserations to Gillian Polack, Phill Berrie, Dawn Meredith and Chris Andrews, who all either had novels in print or were due to be published soon. (Especially Gillian, who has just had four books go out of print, including one that was only launched in September!)

Elizabeth Fitzgerald

Elizabeth is running a series of interviews with all the GUFF candidates. The first is with
Belle McQuattie
, with others to follow. Don’t forget to cast your vote for a GUFF candidate, or just make a donation to support the cause, if you haven’t already!

Ross Hamilton

Ross has secured a semi-regular gig writing book reviews for The Big Issue. (The issue out this weekend contains one of his).

Gillian Polack

In better news for Gillian, her essay on James Tiptree Jr/Alice Sheldon was voted one of the top five columns in Strange Horizons’ 2016 Readers Poll.

Gillian has also become (as far as this post editor is aware) the first CSFG member to launch a Patreon page to solicit support for her ongoing writing. Please consider pledging if you want to help fund Gillian’s ongoing writing – there are recipes (and also a treasure trove of Gillian’s previously unpublished juvenilia, recently recovered from a box)!

And finally, Gillian will be presenting a paper at Worldcon. What will it be about? You might have to go to Worldcon in Helsinki in August to find out!

Zena Shapter

Zena has recently signed with the Donald Maass Agency in New York, which will hopefully lead to big things. The full announcement is on Zena’s blog.

Zena is also teaching her year-long course ‘The Year Your Book Gets Written’ at Mosman College. The Mosman Daily did a little article about it.

Workshops

This is probably an incomplete list (we will update the relevant part of the site soon!) but Gillian Polack has a range of short course and workshops coming up:

(The latter is timed to coincide with a new collection of essays on Game of Thrones, in which Gillian gets the last word closing essay)