Where to find me in Melbourne

I’ve been putting off writing this because a) I am so busy with trying to finish the second Poison Wars MS that I haven’t had time and b) I thought I would do a more fun and informative post if I did it after I’d prepared for panels, etc. Ahem. Well. It’s a couple of days out now so I’ve officially left this too late.

Imagine, if you will, the This Is FIne comic here.

Anyway, Continuum! As I did last year I am headed to Melbourne for their annual fan-run SFF and pop culture convention, Continuum. Guests of honour are the inimitable Cat Sparks and Alison Evans.

Because I thought this was a grand idea at the time, being well after my book was due, I volunteered to be on a number of panels! So of course this means that I’m underprepared and you should probably not expect to be finding fuel for a PHD thesis in anything I’m saying. You can find me bluffing my way through the following excellent-sounding* panels across the weekend:

6pm Friday:  Chosen
with Carolyn Denman, Devin Madson & Kimberley Gaal

Are all chosen ones by their nature Mary Sues? Do we care? How much does it suck to be a chosen one? Life once the Chosen One task is over.

Saturday 10am: Middle Grade Magic
with Thalia Kalkipsakis, Figgy, Sue Bursztynski & George Ivanoff

Why let the young adults have all the fun? Let’s talk about classic and new speculative fiction for readers aged nine to twelve.

Sunday 8pm: Secondary World Sans Magic
with Devin Jeyathurai, Lyss Wickramasinghe, Rachel Nightingale & Freya Marske

Swordspoint, Captive Prince, The Traitor Baru Cormorant — if a secondary world fantasy has no magic, is it still fantasy? Or historical fiction for writers who hate research? No dragons, just worldbuilding here in this panel!

For those among you who are finishing up a project and thinking, or in the middle of, querying, I will also be doing a workshop with my lovely agent sibling, EJ Beaton, on Sunday at 2pm which is all about the joys of agent hunting. Come listen to Liz and I walk you through the treacherous query trenches and ask us questions about the road to getting an agent. We’ll be covering:

  • why you might want an agent
  • figuring out who to query
  • writing the dreaded query letter and synopsis
  • handling the submission process (administration and mental health tips 🙂 )
  • what happens when you get an offer, or offers.

The full program is here: Continuum Program

If none of that takes your fancy, I will also be lurking around the con generally, drinking too many hot beverages and trying to finish my novel in the bar. Come and say hi!

Unless the fates conspire against me I should also have pretty bookmarks if you would like one, and the last couple of bound review copies of City of Lies. So if you are a book blogger or book tuber and you are willing to read my doorstop and review it, drop me a line at samhawkewrites AT gmail DOT com or on twitter @samhawkewrites.

Hope to see some of you there!

*  I take no responsibility for the provision of excellence, but I have great co-panellists, so.

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The mother country

I’m so delighted to be able to announce that Transworld has bought UK/Australian/New Zealand rights to City of Lies and the following Poison Wars novel!

Here’s the Bookseller announcement

I’m thrilled that there will be a local version for my Aussie friends and family and I’m looking forward to changing all my spelling back to the original version, haha. In all seriousness, it’s great to be working with Simon Taylor and the Transworld team. When further info about the new version is available I’ll keep you all posted.

Thanks so much to my US team, led by my wonderful editor Diana Gill, and to Simon and my new pals in the UK, and (as always), the unparalleled Julie Crisp.

As always, thanks for the support and encouragement all of you who bother to read these things!

Review: Art of War anthology

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the anthology from the publisher. Thanks Petros!

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This is a mammoth anthology, with 40 (FORTY!) authors and stories. I know I tend toward wordiness at the best of times so I’m not going to set myself some kind of terrible challenge and talk about everything in here. But, in general, it’s worth noting a few things about the anthology as a collection.

First, it is thematically strong, with all bar a few stories really tying in nicely to the exploration of the art of war, but a huge range of takes on that concept within the book (some grim, some funny, some heartbreaking, some heartening). Second, it’s got some great authors you probably already know and love, and they all deliver, but there’s probably some stories in there by people you don’t know that are gonna knock your socks off (there were for me). Third, it’s entirely for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), so your money is going to one of the best causes you could ask for. It’d be a reeeeeeal shame if you didn’t buy this anthology, son. A real shame.

To my mind, there were a lot of enjoyable reads and only a couple that I really struggled with (remarkable, considering the sheer number of stories). Highlights for me were (in order of appearance not rating):

  • Ed McDonald, The Breaking of the Sky: I have Blackwing but haven’t had a chance to read it yet, and now I’m keener than ever – this was a prequel story set in the Blackwing universe and even without any context in the universe it was compelling reading about the beginning of terrible things.
  • Laura M Hughes, Dear Menelaus: This was probably the most unique story in format – a letter from Helen to Menelaus. Sharp and fresh take on an old story.
  • John Gwynne, The Greatest Battle: If you know John’s work you’ll recognise the style and characters, but it stands, I think, as an enjoyable, well placed fragment of a bigger story, with entertaining characters and a typically engaging and well-written battle scene.
  • Timandra Whitecastle, This War of Ours: this one HURT, man. Gut wrenching little tale of the price of violence and war on children. I read it twice. On reflection, likely my favourite story in the whole anthology. Will be keeping a VERY strong eye on the author.
  • Steven Poore, Asalantir Forever: I’ve had a weakness for stories that deal with the particular futility of life in the trenches since Blackadder Goes Forth. This one had strong writing and powerful imagery.
  • Brian Staveley, the Art of War: This one blew me away with the sheer scope and depth presented within such a short space. Thoughtful, beautifully written.
  • Nicholas Eames, Sacred Semantics: I cannot really describe this story except to note that it is bloody hilarious and had me cracking up the whole way through. I was a bit careless about paying attention to who I was reading when but it wasn’t hard to pick this as the same writer who is currently delighting me with Kings of the Wyld.
  • The combined efforts of Michael R Fletcher’s Doppels, The Undying Lands: Sort-of-zombies, colosseums, humour, tragedy and even a bit of romance, all in one package. Very entertaining and kept upsetting my expectations. Excellent.
  • Anna Smith-Spark, The Fall of Tereen: another author whose debut is sitting waiting on my TBR pile. It’s been bumped up in priority after reading this story, which is one of the standouts in terms of quality and uniqueness of prose. The style is probably not for everyone but I loved it. Very dark though!
  • Dyrk Ashton, Valkyrie Rain: A nuanced and interesting telling of the Valkyries’ fall from and return to grace.
  • Miles Cameron, The Storm: An awesome self contained siege story with a lot of character. I really enjoyed this.
  • Anna Stephens, Flesh and Coin: Mercenaries and ambushes and brutal action with emotional punch, surprise, and even a few laughs. This story does a lot. If you haven’t read Godblind you’re going to want to go out and get it after you’ve read this sample of her writing. Loved it.
  • Mark Lawrence, The Hero of Aral Pass: Great finish to the anthology – action-packed, compelling voice, funny and dark. Classic Lawrence.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the stories I enjoyed but they’re the ones that stayed with me. I’d be stunned if you couldn’t find a bunch you like in there. Overall, I found it a delight, and I’ll be getting the paperback with the beautiful art to add to my collection.

Cons, cons, and more cons. Well, con.

This weekend I’ll be at Conflux, Canberra’s annual SFF convention. (Yes, yes, I got excited in the title. It’s only one con). The theme is Grimm Tales and the program, which starts today (for those of us not stuck at day jobs), looks great!

Amazing guests of honour are Ellen Datlow and Angela Slatter – check out their bios here if you don’t know their names already.

If you’re in town and would like to say hi, I’ll be there Saturday through Monday, and you can find me on the following panels:

Striking the write balance – Saturday 5pm

Finding the right balance between writing, day job and family can be tough. Our panellists share their experiences and life hacks.

There I am appearing as more of a cautionary tale than a wise sage full of life-balancing advice, so you may hear a lot from me about things I think I SHOULD do to manage writing with other commitments, and a lot of ways that I fail to do that, too.

Submitting to publishers and agents – Sunday 3.30pm

What to do. What not to do.

On this one we’ll be talking alllllll about the querying/submission process, from the perspective of both sides of the equation, submitter and submittee, writer and gatekeeper. If you’re looking to get into the query trenches sometime soon, or if you’re already there, this should be a great panel. Ellen Datlow is on this panel, people!

Other than that, you’ll find me lurking about, possibly exploring the Vibe bar, and I’ll be at the banquet on Saturday as well. Please say hi if you see me!

I know I’m biased, but…

But seriously, I could not be more thrilled and excited with the a-maaaaazing cover art that Tor has produced for me. The creative genius minds of Irene Gallo, my editor Diana Gill and the spectacularly talented artist, Greg Ruth (you should check out his work – especially if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks: Greg Ruth’s amazing art) have come up with this beautiful, beautiful thing:

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My reaction to receiving the early drafts has ranged from this:

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Through this:

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And eventually, on seeing the final:

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I mean, it’s just criminally beautiful, isn’t it??

Here’s the link to the cover reveal at Tor.com: Tor.com release

And to my awesome agent Julie Crisp’s blog on the topic: An agent’s take on a pretty pretty cover 🙂

But in all seriousness, guys, tell me what you think! And if you like it, feel free to let Tor know, so you can see more covers in this sort of style. 🙂

Continuuific

Next weekend I’ll be at Australia’s national SFF convention, which this year is Continuum in Melbourne. In its own words, Continuum ‘celebrates creativity across genres and media. Our aim each year is to provide a regional convention where writers, artists, readers and film/TV buffs of all kinds can get together for a weekend of panel discussions, entertainment, and social fun.’  You can find out all the full details at http://www.continuum.org.au/ but in short:

  • Guests of Honour are amazing Hugo winning Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant and brilliant artist Likhain
  • Panels! Workshops! All things writery and geeky!
  • Book signings/readings/launches
  • the annual Ditmar award ceremony, which is the fan-voted national awards for SFF.

This will be my first Continuum and I’m really looking forward to it. If you want to say hi, I will be there all weeknd and I’ll be on a couple of panels if you’d like to hear my post-tonsillectomy croaking voice rambling about either of the following topics.

The Art and Science of Publishing – 9 am Saturday

I’ll be on a panel with Tehani Croft, Donna Maree Hanson, Devin Madson, & Robert New to talk Indie, small press or the big four? How do you choose? How do you succeed? What happens if you fail?

Forgotten Mothers of Fantasy 9.30 am Monday

Here I’ll be with Jodi McAlister, Seanan McGuire, Tansy Rayner Roberts & Cat Sparks to talk about the rich and huge back catalog of SFF written by women who seem invisible when best-of lists, history of the genre and influence are discussed, in favour of their male counterparts. 

I’ve never been on a convention panel before so feel free to pop by and give moral support and some lowball questions if I look panicked!

Hope to see some of you there.

Silence in the house

I haven’t updated in a while, mostly because I’ve been busy and haven’t been able to devote the time to thinking of something worthwhile to talk about. That’s still the case, so instead of something worthwhile I will just give a quick update about status at Castle Hawke.

Right now I’m working on the edits for City of Lies, sitting in warm sun in my library, armed with tea, anzac biscuits, and faithful hounds. The boys are out on a friend’s farm with K, having a picnic and patting horses. The house is silent, other than the sound of Gold Dog’s gentle snores. We have 4 days off for the Easter weekend, and looking forward to our family’s competitive hot cross bun bakeoff on Sunday. Providing I get enough done today, I get to go out (like a grown up!) with some writing buddies to follow the Aurealis award ceremony tonight, as many friends are nominated. All in all, a pretty good morning – hope everything is well for you!