Speculative Fiction Festival – 5 November 2011

This Saturday, the NSW Writers’ Centre is sponsoring a Speculative Fiction Festival at their premises in Garry Owen House, Callan Park, Balmain Rd, Rozelle in NSW, curated by Kate Forsyth (a successful Australian author).

I’ve got my ticket – this will be the first writing festival I’ve attended. There is a very interesting program of events and I’m looking forward to attending sessions (although I’m having trouble which “stream” of sessions to go to – there are several points along the way where I’d like to split myself into two).

I’m in Melbourne for work this week and I’ll be travelling home some time on either Friday night or Saturday, so I’m hoping that I don’t get stuck anywhere. I’ll post a review after my attendance (or my excuse as to why I couldn’t make it).

If anyone reading this is going along then make sure you introduce yourself and say hello. Tickets can be purchased from the NSW Writers’ Centre website ($55 for members, $80 for non members).

First acceptance for publication!

Well, it is all excitement here at Webb HQ. A little while ago I submitted a flash fiction piece to Antipodean SF, a long running website devoted to the publication of short form (flash) science/speculative fiction. I’ve been following the Anti-SF site for a while now, in particular through their weekly podcast which keeps me entertained on my walk into work.

(Flash fiction refers to very short stories that are usually in the 500 – 1000 word range. Antipodean SF focuses on the shorter end of that range, around 500 words. It is very interesting to write, because you can generally only explore one idea and you have to make every word count – it instills a real discipline in your work).

Last night Ion Newcombe (the editor of the site and presenter of the podcast) wrote back to me to say that my story (Shipwrecked) had been accepted. My very first publication! As well as the story getting published on the website, it will also be broadcast on the radio/podcast. I’m in the process of trying to work out how to use GarageBand on my Mac to record myself reading the story for that purpose. And I thought recording a voicemail message was stressful!

Ion made some very sensible editorial suggestions – it was interesting to go through an editorial process for the first time. The changes were small but did help the story track better. I can see why authors often talk about how invaluable an editor is – it was excellent to have someone read the story from a completely independent viewpoint, where the only criterion is making the story better.

So, Shipwrecked will be included in issue 164 of Antipodean Speculative Fiction due out in February 2012. And I’ve had to create a bibliography page on the website! And I’m having a day off work!! It doesn’t get much better than this.

(For more about Antipodean SF, have a look at the Magazines and Podcasts pages under the Links menu item on this website).

Writing Imaginary Worlds workshop

Went to the Writing Imaginary Worlds workshop with Richard Harland on Saturday 3rd September 2011, hosted by the NSW Writer’s Centre.

It was my first writing course of any sort, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Ten people came together to listen to Richard speak on the realities of writing in the speculative fiction genre in Australia. I found it really interesting – not just in hearing from Richard, but also being in a room with 9 other early stage speculative fiction authors.

It took me quite a while to steel my nerve enough to go along to a writing course. I was as much worried about interacting with the other writers (all of whom I was convinced would have oodles more credibility than I did) as I was about whether I was prepared enough to get a lot out of the session.

I’m pleased to say that my fellow writers were as pleasant a bunch of people that I could have hoped to meet. While my writing output was towards the low end (some people had done a very impressive amount of work) I didn’t really feel out of place after my initial butterflies subsided. Indeed I learnt a lot just listening to some of the other stories and experiences of the others. I’ve even made two email pals out of the process (you know who you are K and P).

The content of the workshop itself was very much aligned with Richard’s writing tips website, but it was interspersed with practical exercises which were very thought provoking.

Richard very generously stayed back to spend time with each of the students. I went through the basic plot of Unaligned with him, which was very useful. First time I’d tried to explain the plot to anyone. I found his feedback very helpful and have made some changes as a result.

Marks Tips for Surviving a Workshop

  • DO turn up 10 minutes early. I was there right on the dot and all the eager beavers were already half way round the table doing introductions!
  • DON’T be too concerned with how much writing you’ve done going in – obviously having done some is helpful, but there was a lot of encouragement in the room no matter how new to writing people were.
  • DO chat to your fellow writers in the breaks. Some of my highlights for the day came from those informal conversations.
  • DO take any offered opportunities to chat to the lecturer. By this I don’t mean try to sell them your book or anything, but it gives you a chance to ask some of those questions.
  • DO try and take the time to exchange contact details with anyone who is interested. I’ve had some great email conversations with two of my fellow writers in the weeks after the course and I wish I’d grabbed the details from even more people attending.
  • DO encourage people to add tips for surviving workshops or any other general thoughts on workshops in general in the comments sections below any posts you’ve written about the workshop…



Welcome to Mark Webb’s author website. At this point the site is rather sparse – I’ve only recently started writing and there isn’t a lot to show for it right now. You can check out my biography, see what I’m working on at the moment, see what I’m reading and watching or look at some links to other website that I’ve found useful as a writer getting started. You can leave some comments on any posts or over at the contact page.