CSFG

Tag Archives: Reading

A Flurry of Launches

CSFG members have a veritable outburst of book launches happening in the new couple of weeks:

Felicity Banks’ debut steampunk adventure novel Heart of Brass will launch as part of the Canberra Writers Festival in the Ferguson Room at the National Library on Saturday 27th August at 10 am. (Details here)

Immediately afterwards, Kaaron Warren’s latest novel The Grief Hole will launch at exactly the same location (what are the odds?!): 11:00 am at the Ferguson Room (Details)

And finally for our Melbourne members, Gillian Polack’s latest novel The Wizardy of Jewish Women will launch at Readings in Hawthorn at 6:30 pm on Monday 5th September. (All the details)

We encourage everyone to get out and support our local authors if you can!

Romance for Speculative Fiction Readers

Over at her Earl Grey Editing blog, Elizabeth Fitzgerald is providing a few recommendations for introductory reading in speculative works that double as a gateway to the romance genre (or vice versa). As anyone who has attended the multidimensional GenreCon convention in recent years can attest, there’s a lot for speculative readers and writers to learn from the romance genre. For anyone looking for ideas on great entry points, Elizabeth has you covered:

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the romance genre and, like any genre, there’s a lot of less than stellar material. If you’re a speculative fiction reader new to romance or looking to get started, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Part One of Elizabeth’s recommended reading list offers some reliable works. In the second part of the discussion, Elizabeth throws the floor open to a few friends for their opinions.

Blog highlight – CSFG anthologies and community

CSFG Secretary Elizabeth Fitzgerald has been running a series of interviews over at her Earl Grey Editing Services blog around the theme of the writing community (also tea). In a recent installment of “Brewing Community”, Ian McHugh, one of the editors of CSFG’s upcoming anthology The Never Never Land, talked about his experience of pulling together an anthology that reflects the vibrant wider-Canberra speculative fiction community:

“Everything that needs to be done to make one of our anthologies happen relies on community. Aside from editing, that includes wrangling submissions, proofing, typesetting, marketing and selling: all done by members of the group volunteering their time. That also means that producing the books can be susceptible to life happening to the people who’ve put their hands up.”

Read the rest of the interview here, and we’ll be back to report on the progress of The Never Never Land very soon!

(The rest of Elizabeth’s series is well worth reading as well!)

TNNL Cover

July meeting rescheduled

Please note that due to building work at Gorman House, our next general meeting at the ACT Writers Centre will be at 7:30 pm on WEDNESDAY 22 JULY.

This meeting will replace the usual 3rd Wednesday meeting, which would have been held on the 15th.

This month’s meeting will have a Midwinter Fireside Reading theme.

If you would like to read, please prepare a 500-1000 word reading of your work to share with the group.

We strongly suggest having a practice at reading your chosen excerpt as we will be capping your reading spot at 5 minutes tops to ensure we get to everyone who wants a go.

Sadly our midwinter fireside reading will be without the actual fireside, owing to a selfish limit the ACT Writers Centre places on burning their furniture.

BUT we’ll arrange to have some hot drinks on hand (think mulled wine, hot chocolate – feel free to make suggestions or offer to bring something). We hope we’ll see you there!

Reading for Writing Part 2

President Leife concludes her thoughts on why she reads what she reads. See Part 1 here.

In my last post, I talked about how being a writer has limited my capacity as a reader. But I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t read any more. Far from it. I just find I have to be a lot more selective these days.

A small portion of the teetering to-read pile.

So what do I read and how do I prioritise? Well, here are some thoughts. In terms of priority, it’s roughly in order, but subject to change on the basis of necessity or whim.

1. I still read to my kids. I’ve put this first, because it happens almost every day, so it probably makes up the bulk of my fiction reading, even though it’s not technically for me. They’re 12 & 10 now, but they love being read to. Right now we’re reading Joan Aiken’s All But a Few. But we’ve worked our way through plenty of fabulous books. This is pure, unadulterated fun.

2. Books I really, really want to read. These are the ones that furnish the landscape of my imagination. These books have built the pantheon that I want to be a part of as a writer. They feed my muse and inspire me.

3. Books I want to read because they’re going to help me improve my craft. They might be beautifully written, or have an intriguing story premise, or won an award, or have caught the zeitgeist, or be somehow relevant to my own work.

4. Beta reading for friends. It might not be for leisure, but it’s reading fiction written by someone else and it certainly helps my own craft.

5. Non-fiction reading, usually for research, but sometimes for fun. Hell, the best research is fun.

6. Catching up on published work by friends. This is basically an impossible task now. But I do what I can.

And that’s it. That’s all I can fit in.

What I find interesting, now I’ve put that list together, is how all of it ties back, somehow, to supporting my own writing. It might just (just! *rolls eyes*) be reigniting my passion for stories and beautiful words, or it might be something more concrete, like learning more about a historical period, or how to construct a murder mystery. But I can’t not read without that writer part of my brain ticking over, hoarding the good stuff and putting squiggly red lines under the bad.

Which tells me, ultimately, that time spent reading is time well spent. Even though – or perhaps because – it’s rarer and more precious than it used to be.

Reading for Writing Part 1

President Leife Shallcross kicks off the 2015 discussions with some musing on some CSFG’ers recent encounter with a literary hero and how reading is a vital ingredient of writing. This essay is crossposted from Leife’s website.

I’ve had quite a literary week. On Monday I went to see the entertaining and debonair Joe Abercrombie talking about his new book, Half the World, at Harry Hartog (and what a beautiful Canberra bookshop that is.) I had the opportunity to chat to him before and after his talk; beforehand I quizzed him about the sex scenes he writes (!!!) and after the crowds had drifted off my CSFG buddies and I had a chance to chat to him about a bunch of things including the fantastic covers on his books.

Meeting Joe Abercrombie at Harry Hartog's

Then on Wednesday, we had our first general meeting of the CSFG for 2015, which my good friend Kimberly Gaal and I kicked off with a session on goal setting for writers.

How are these two things linked? Well, one question Joe was asked on Monday night was what is he reading now? His initial answer to this was interesting: he said “I don’t read anymore.”

I found this interesting because a quick Google search will throw back at you plenty of quotes from high profile writers telling aspiring authors that the one thing they must  do is read. But even so, this is not the first time I’ve heard a high-profile author say they just don’t read anymore.

Joe then went on to demonstrate that, actually, he does read (of course). But when he talked about reading, it was very clear that it’s not something he does for leisure these days. He reads a lot of non-fiction for research, and he indicated the fiction he reads now is mostly in genres other than what he writes (dark fantasy).

At our CSFG meeting on Monday, one of the things we talked about in relation to goal-setting, was doing a reading challenge as a useful way to expand our horizons, connect with readers, understand markets and feed the muse. (Here’s a great post from Elizabeth Fitzgerald over at Earl Grey Editing about reading challenges.)

This all got me thinking about what and why I read. I absolutely do not read anywhere near as much as I used to. I have no hesitation in saying it is one of life’s great pleasures. I was an inveterate bookworm as a child. I read Charlotte’s Web when I was six. I started reading the likes of Anne McCaffrey and Tanith Lee when I was about thirteen. I read and read and then I reread and reread again. In University, I wrangled my degree so that it was about 85% English Literature subjects. This meant I (was supposed to) read something in the order of thirty to forty books a year. I can’t say hand-on-heart that I did read that many, but I read most.

But now…

I find reading uses a similar part of my brain as writing. It also scratches a similar itch and fills in the same few spare hours. So for me, it’s often a choice. Read or write. Still, I definitely do read. I just have to be very selective. I’m also pretty brutal now about finishing books. If it’s not doing what I want it to do for me, I stop reading it. I do not have time to persevere with duds. I set aside one massively popular bestseller just recently because I could not stand either of the two main characters and I did not want to spend another minute in their company. If I decide I want to know how it ends (I’m not fussed right now, I don’t want either of them to prevail), I’ll go see the movie.

Having said all that, I do still read, and it is still one of my favourite ways to spend an hour. Or three. Or eight. Like most people who love books, I have a to-read pile that in its darker, more unstable moments could kill small children if it toppled over. So in my next blog post, I’ll talk about what and why I read, and how I prioritise that growing stack beside my bed. And the one on the bookcase. And the one beside the bookcase on the floor. And –

*sound of books falling*

*muffled screams for help*