The Generosity of #Conflux9 Writers (Days 1 & 2)

I never sleep well without Hubbie (ahh…). So what to do when I’m away as I am now and can’t sleep? I know… blog!!

I’ve been at #Conflux9 – Australia’s 52nd Natcon – for two days now and it’s been so fantastic I can’t wait any longer to share it with you. If you haven’t been to a writing convention before – I thoroughly recommend it, irrespective of how far you are along your writing journey. There’s a generosity of spirit at these things that makes me proud to be a writer…

Crowd of generous writers

A busy convention full of generous writers.

Sure, the majority of us don’t earn much money. Yes, we’re constantly striving for dreams that vary among us but generally involve having our genius(!) recognised – logically we’re competitors in that. And yet, and yet, we can’t stop sharing.

Cat Sparks & Sean Williams

Cat Sparks & Sean Williams
Congratulations, Cat – you sold out at your book launch!



It started on Thursday afternoon, with a book launch that sold out. That’s generosity in the obvious sense of the word. Remember – we writers don’t have much money!





Me, Keri Arthur & Tracey O'Hara

Me, Keri Arthur & Tracey O’Hara

It continued throughout Thursday evening at a cocktail party where seasoned professionals mingled with newbies, carrying zero egos with them (no hierarchies here!).



Patty Jansen, Me & Joanne Anderton

Patty Jansen, Me & Joanne Anderton
Congratulations, Jo – your book launch sold out!

Into the night writers and editors talked on panels until 11pm – I’m usually in bed by that time! But even the last discussion of the day kept me wide-awake: How essential is an editor for authors?

The answer: writers have to balance the expense of editorial advice against the income they can potentially earn from a story that readers may still enjoy despite otherwise imperfect elements. The discussion was respectfully tense – as are all the best panels.

Rochelle Fernandez, Me, Jack Dann & Janeen Webb

Rochelle Fernandez, Me, Jack Dann & Janeen Webb

Friday saw generosity happening all again with workshops prepared by writers who know what they’re talking about, sharing their expertise.

Me teaching my workshop on Friday morning.

Me teaching my workshop on Friday morning.

Writers, publishers, agents and editors on panels might not realise it, but simply talking about their experience of a given subject is invaluable to those listening.



Then there’s the social side to things – linger long in any transitory space (such as a corridor) and you’re sure to encounter a trail of industry professionals happy to share a moment or two to chat about their day, their career, their pearls of wisdom…



Marc Gascoigne

Marc Gascoigne


Our Guests of Honour: Marc Gascoigne, Karen Miller, Kaaron Warren, Rose Mitchell and Nalo Hopkinson have all been especially warm and welcoming. Thank you!



Richard Harland, Ian McHugh, Margo Lanagan, Me & Alan Baxter

Richard Harland, Ian McHugh, Margo Lanagan, Me & Alan Baxter

Friday’s panels ranged from zombies and publishing contracts, to crowdfunding and advice for first-time novelists. One particularly lively panel asked: Is steampunk as a genre inherently racist because it glorifies the imperialist era? Or does focussing on the plight of minorities offset any implied romanticism? Historical, medieval and passionate theories answered that one.


Alex,meThe podcast panel itself was an illustration in writer-generosity – with panellists admitting to spending hundreds of dollars on equipment and countless hours recording their podcasts and uploading them – for listeners to enjoy for free.

Throughout the day, writers could pitch to agents and there were more sold-out book launches too.

The banquet in the evening featured an authentic regency menu and elegant dancers who got us out of our seats – literally!

Four personal highlights for me were:

  1. Teaching my social media workshop on Friday morning. I always get a good crowd!
  2. Getting countless compliments on the PR reports I’ve been doing for the convention over the last year and a bit (find them here if you’re curious).
  3. After my ‘Reading’ slot – wherein I read from the beginning of Darker (the short story that recently ranked me semi-finalist in the internationally prestigious Writers of the Future contest) – one listener, whom I respect highly as a writer, couldn’t get the story out of her head. She tracked me down later and asked to read the rest. Well, what do you think I said?
  4. Also, this conversation:

SIMON: “She writes the best blog.”

AIDAN: “She does.”

ME (to Aidan): “Oh, do you follow my blog too then?”

AIDAN: “Do I follow your blog? I follow the sh*t out of your blog.”

Gee thanks, guys 🙂

Today is going to be another big day, so I’ll leave you now with some photos of the banquet last night, and go grab some breakfast.

Conflux 9 Regency Banquet – music.

Conflux 9 Regency Banquet – music.

Regency ladies.

Regency ladies.

Regency gentlemen.

Regency gentlemen.

Patty Jansen, Me & Jane Virgo

Patty Jansen, Me & Jane Virgo

Alex Adsett & Paul Landymore

Alex Adsett & Paul Landymore

If anyone’s around at 10am this morning (though note, the hotel’s Wi-Fi is playing up and this may not post until later), I’m on a panel discussing virtual and f2f ‘Writing Communities’ and how that alters the old image of writers gazetted in attics (meet me in Forrest Room 1).

The hotel pool, hmm – watery laps :)

The hotel pool, hmm – watery laps 🙂

Tomorrow I’ll be taking attendees on a journey through the tips and traps of reaching audiences online in the ‘Elegant Promotion’ panel (3.30pm, Forrest Room 3).

I’ll be milling around in between too, so come and say ‘hi’ if you see me. I’ll be happy to have a chat with you* 🙂

*Unless I’m on my way to the pool to do a quick 1km between sessions. That water is irresistible!

Zena Shapter

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


  1. Looks so much fun Zena!

  2. 1. I love that you focused on the generosity of spirit in the writing community, because that has always struck me, as well. I’ve always been so touched by how welcoming other writers have been to me.

    2. You look like you’re all having so much fun! I wonder if there’s a similar event over here?

    3. Love the white dress (and you in it!).

    • Thanks, Liz!!

      The white dress actually had to make another appearance tonight as the strapless black dress I had on kept slipping during the awesome disco!!! So you may yet see some more photos of it.

      I’m sure there must be similar events near you – you are in London after all!

      And yes, we writers are generous folk – as is illustrated by your lovely comments 🙂

  3. What can I say? I like the blog. 🙂

  4. Awesome blog, Zena. You have a deft way of describing events and people and with such a positive effect. The magic of Conflux continues…. my pitches went very well. Now we wait…. Dx

    • Thanks, Dawn! I’m glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

      And good luck with your pitches. I hope one of them develops into some good news for you!

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