The Freedom of #Conflux9 Writers (Days 3 & 4)

How can I describe what it’s been like the last few days – being surrounded by 250 friends and like-minded people? The 52nd Natcon / Conflux 9 was just that. The layout of Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra, meant I could walk into any room, linger in any corridor, and be sure of finding someone to chat with soon enough. And you know how I like to chat!

Me, Alex Adsett (my FAB agent) & Jo Clay

Me, Alex Adsett (my FAB agent) & Jo Clay
Photo by Paul Landymore.

Discussions ranged from critiquing the latest Dr Who to imagining future Star Wars enterprises, from finding your voice as a writer to social media tricks. Secrets were shared with me, and I shared secrets back – the type I usually only set free during workshops! It was liberating, it was beautiful, it was… freedom.

Yes, freedom. I never feel so free as when I’m at conventions such as this. Differences become normal. There’s no judgment or ostracism. Instead, for the last four days I got to feel welcoming sameness. Thank you, Conflux 9!

Thanks too for the continued stream of panels on worldbuilding and historical research, superheroes and crime tropes. There were continued opportunities to socialise with guests of honour in Kaffeeklatchs, with agents and publishers in pitches, artists in the art show and writers in readings. And yes, in amongst it all I managed to squeeze in a 1km swim each day too. It was heaven!

Ditmar winner Kaaron Warren & I.

Ditmar award-winner Kaaron Warren & I.

On Saturday evening, we had the 2013 Ditmar awards – complete with bubble-blowing, lego-construction & live Twitter screens #Ditmars2013.

Congratulations to all the winners: Margo Lanagan, Kaaron Warren, Nick Stathopoulos, Kirstyn McDermott, Ian Mond, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Kate Forsyth, Thoraiya Dyer, Kathleen Jennings, Tehani Wessely, David McDonald, and Russell B Farr (more photos on Cat Sparks flickr stream here).

Sean Williams, me & Marc Gascoigne. Photo by Paul Landymore.

Sean Williams, me & Marc Gascoigne.
Photo by Paul Landymore.


Next was the romance gauntlet (won jointly by the magnificent Kate Forsyth and CSFG’s very own Ross Hamilton), and the Masquerade-Junkyard Cathedral disco – which had DJs Sean Williams, Marc Gascoigne and Dave Cake hitting all the right buttons on their mixing desks.


Trudi Canavan & I.

Trudi Canavan & I.



There were some fabulous costumes too!


Drinking champagne with Kate Forsyth. Cheers, Kate!

Drinking champagne with Kate Forsyth. Cheers, Kate!




That was the night I stayed in the bar chatting until 3am!

(who… me?)


Chatting about books & stuff until 3am!

Chatting about books & stuff until 3am!


Note that the bar shut at midnight – so for three hours we were all just sitting around talking. Who does that?

Convention people do!


Elmo & I. Why not?!

Elmo & I.

On Sunday we had more book launches and panels including the secret lives of authors and short story writing.

Elmo even graced us with his presence from time to time – just to keep us on our toes!

Donna Maree Hanson & Nicole Murphy

Donna Maree Hanson & Nicole Murphy

Later we had the closing ceremony, where everyone involved in the convention was thanked for their efforts. As editor of the five PR reports that were sent around for a year prior to the convention, to generate hype and interest, that included me! Yay!

But the real stars of the ceremony were of course Donna and Nicole, who organised a great convention for us all.

Thanks guys – fantastic job!

As for my personal highlights from the convention’s final two days, they were:

1. Appearing on my panels. The Elegant Promotion panel was especially fun – with the audience live-tweeting our comments until we were trending convention-wide!! #Conflux9

Elegant Promotion panel: Alex Adsett, Abigail Nathan, Alan Baxter, me & Russell B Farr

Elegant Promotion panel:
Alex Adsett, BothersomeWords, Alan Baxter, me & Russell B Farr

 Here are some tweet quotes about the panel by @JodiCleghorn:

Pretend you’re face to face when using social media. If you wouldn’t do it in person. Don’t do it online. @zenashapter @alanbaxter #conflux9

Let people come to trust you as a filter for good information. @zenashapter#Conflux9

The more people trust you for the info you provide, the more they will engage with your own stuff. @alanbaxter @zenashapter#Conflux9

Have a focus for what you want to achieve with a fictional twitterfeed. @zenashapter #conflux9

2. Dancing the night away at the Masquerade.

3. Staying at the convention until the last minute – I didn’t want to leave!

In the corridor: Jodi Cleghorn, Me & Jason Fischer

Chatting in the corridor:
Jodi Cleghorn, Me & Jason Fischer

Now I’m back home and exhausted – but what better sign of a good convention is there other than exhaustion? I tiptoed into our house late last night to find both my children tucked up snug in bed. My son was deep asleep, but my daughter opened her eyes mid-dream, saw me, reached out and gripped on. Seconds later she was asleep again and I crept back out her room. It was the perfect homecoming.

That said, thank heavens for the Aurealis Awards on 18 May – as it means I only have to wait three weeks to see all my dearest friends again 🙂

Zena Shapter

I write from a castle in a flying city hidden by a thundercloud. #Ditmar Award-winning author. Short fiction for now. Novels to come. Movie buff. Traveller. Wine lover. Story nerd. Book Creator & Mentor. Founder & leader of the award-winning Northern Beaches Writers' Group / ZF Kingbolt


  1. Hi Zena, great post, you summed up the hectic awesomeness so well.

    Our conversation about finding your voice will stick with me for all time, thank you 🙂

    • For all time? Wow – I’m so chuffed I made a lasting impression AND such a good one too 🙂

      Thank you, Jason – I’m glad too that you enjoyed the post!

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