Farewell 2015 and Happy New Year!


“I will be your Happy New Year Alpaca.”

Last year brought  many wonderful things to me, the best of which was some free time because this little fellow went to school.


Contrary to expectations, he loved school and it loved him.


I used that time to pursue local creative opportunities to extend and enrich the local writing community through Writers Activation.


Candice Lemon Scott reads at Summer Nights, our final event for 2015

There is heaps happening on the Gold Coast for writers and creatives at the moment. It’s an exciting place to be!


Summer Nights street piece. It’s fun chalking a curb hob!

If you’d like to see the full text of this temporary street piece (twice written and twice washed away by the high-pressure hoser) head to YouTube.

I was thrilled to receive a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent in Australian Speculative Fiction. I also finished another novel… this one is called Spliced and I’d love to see it published one day. It’s in the editing phase.

It was great to have time to ramp up my fitness and tackle four obstacle course races (some in fancy dress) and enjoy some lovely bush walks and explore local parks.


I was delighted to to sell this article on obstacle course racing to More Gold Coast.

It was great to see my school friends at my 20 year reunion, omg!


Thanks and love to my family…

Thanks to my friends for their love, support, and the laughs and stories we’ve shared.

In 2016 I’m looking forward to doing Spartan, Tough Mudder and taking Jasmine along for Raw, her first obstacle course.

I’m also looking forward to creating some digital poetry art workshops in partnership with the Gold Coast media lab and delivering Contact, which is just 12 weeks away.

All the best for 2016!

Be kind to your alpaca.



2016 NAFF race – voting open now!

A conversational life

NAFF 2015

Welcome to the NAFF race for 2016. The National Australian Fan Fund (NAFF) was created to assist fans to travel across Australia to attend the National Science Fiction Convention (Natcon). NAFF assists fans to travel to the Natcon and covers the costs of airfares and accommodation. The Natcon donates a convention membership. This year’s NAFF race is to the 55th Australian Natcon, Contact, which will be held in Brisbane during Easter, 25– 28 March 2016. It is expected that the winner will produce a report of their trip, engage in fundraising to support future NAFF races, and to help administer the NAFF race for the following two years. All Australian fans are eligible to vote.

The voting process contributes to the fundraising so each vote costs $5. You are more than welcome to donate more than this amount! Votes are being collected by: Tehani Wessely and the candidates. For more…

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Winell Road Blog Tour with Kate Foster

Kate Foster is a fabulous writer, editor, publisher and friend, and it’s my pleasure to host her as part of her blog tour.

Cheers! Helen


Happy Christmas from Kate and Winell Road! 


When Winell Road: Beneath the Surface was released back in April, Kate didn’t embark on a great deal of promotion. Because of a lot of ‘things’. So, to make up for that and to kick off the festivities for her favourite time of year – Christmas! – she’s taken Winell Road on a little tour, hoping to spread the word and introduce lots of new young readers to, what she believes is, a great big dollop of sci-fi fun and adventure.

Here’s a little info…

Twelve-year old Jack Mills lives at 5 Winell Road and has probably the world’s weirdest neighbours. Like freakishly weird. And to top it off, he lives with Mum: nosy, interfering, a hideous cook, and Dad: unsuccessful inventor of the Camera Belt and Self-Closing Window. All in all, it’s a boring, embarrassing, dead-end place to live.

So when Jack arrives home from school one day, a close shave with a UFO is the last thing he expects. But the fact it doesn’t abduct him, and that no one else, not even Mum, sees the gigantic flying saucer hovering over the street, adds a whole new layer of strange.

Soon after, an alien encounter threatens Jack’s life and he becomes embroiled in a galaxy-saving mission. With the assistance of his new neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, he discovers Winell Road is hiding secrets—secrets Jack might wish he’d never uncovered.


If you’re still not sure, here’s a couple of reviews…

‘Winell Road: Beneath the Surface is a fast-paced middle-grade adventure story with the feel of Men in Black. Jack is a smart, resourceful boy with more abilities than he’s ever dreamed off, and he finds out that the world is a far stranger place than he imagined. The action is non-stop and will keep readers riveted.’ examiner.com

‘This book will work wonderfully read aloud in class. There are enough cliff-hanger chapter endings to keep them begging for more. It will also promote discussion about making snap judgments while providing plenty of scope for related art projects.’ Buzz Words Magazine

Go to Goodreads to see a few more.

Kate Foster snow author


Kate is an Englishwoman on the Gold Coast in Australia. A middle grade writer, freelance editor, the editorial director at Lakewater Press and all around lover of the written word, she is ruled by her three sons, husband and spoodle pup. Not one to have a quiet day, she spends her free time mentoring new writers in contests like Nest Pitch and Pitch Wars, judging writing contests and helping out at Writers Activation on the Gold Coast. Other than that, she likes laying in bed or by the pool with a book!

It would make a great stocking filler for children. BUT, if you’re feeling particularly lucky, she’s giving away three signed copies just in time for Christmas! Yippee!

Click here to enter!


If you don’t win, then the book is available all over the virtual world.

Amazon UK    Amazon.com    Booktopia    Jet Black Publishing.
Thanks for stopping by. MERRY CHRISTMAS!


On other blogs…

Dear long neglected blog, things have been happening, but not here.

You might like to read this post for Contact  2016 about the fun and advantages of networking in meatform! There are a few shots from last weekend’s Genrecon, too. And yes, we did play Lasertag, and these were the scores. 

Also, I answered some questions here for Gold Coast Novel Writers.
Most of my energy has been invested in Writers Activation this year, which has had some wonderful highlights, including this workshop with Kate Foster. 

This month I’m doing Nanowrimo, aiming to add 50k to my novel and finish it. Thanks to workshops with Kylie Chan and Kate Foster last week at Writers Activation, and then attending Genrecon, I’m excited to get into my writing!

Create Change — Gold Coast Future Conference: #2970Degrees Boiling Point

This weekend artists, scientists, business and cultural leaders, on the Gold Coast, have been talking about how to create a better future. And the coolest part is that no-one is denying climate change is happening, we’re talking about how to make positive change – humanitarian and sustainable change. We have both fear and hope for the future.

Alex Kelly says hope is an active choice. Kelly is an activist and film impact creator, and when she was asked why our government and media are denying climate change, her answer was that they are afraid. That they are shouting the story they want to believe louder, because facing the alternative is too difficult.

She said that we need to create other narratives — positive narratives about climate and culture. I agree with this. It starts with story. But I also think we need a How To guide, lisiting the small changes we make within ourselves to create a liveable world.

It’s been wonderful to hear Indigenous people talk about how they have lived in peace with the land, both supporting it and supported by it, and how all their modes of thought are combined, they don’t separate story from science. In the Welcome to Country they asked that we consider the land that we’re on, in our discussions.

This wisdom seems to hold the answers. We need to bring all our technologies and experts together, a trans-disciplinary approach, put our heads together, to work out how to live with respect for the biosphere that supports us.

Many people at the conference seem to feel we still have a choice, we still have the chance to save our world from environmental catastrophe. But we need to start today.

I believe artists, writers and other arts professionals have the power of imagination and surprise, and we can create inspiring projects and be leaders towards positive change, as well as innovating new ways of doing things which are healthier for our communities.

Michael Aird talked about the importance of leadership. That strong leadership leads to prosperous, thriving communities, however traitorous leadership destroys communities for generations. Leadership is what we need now, and with an absence of it in our government, we need to find it within ourselves.

What are the steps? I would say we need to shout ‘yes’ to renewable energy and ‘no’ to fossil fuels. We need to show compassion to those in need. We need to try to close the gaps between those who have privilege and excess wealth, and those who don’t have a safe home to go to at night. The ability to consciously affect our world is what makes us human. Let’s be better humans!

In all our projects we need to measure what the net effect is. Are we making a better world? Or are we helping it die?

I’ll be thinking about these questions as I execute WordXchange, my writing/reading project, in Southport. It might mean sourcing second hand furniture rather than new furniture, catching the tram rather than driving, avoiding printing paper materials, encouraging those who are silenced to share their stories, helping those who find writing difficult to tell their stories, too.

We need to ask ourselves, how can we make positive change? And we need to act.

Alex Kelly (right) in conversation.

Selfie with Stelarc!

This is a side project to Stelarc’s performance of growing an ear in his arm using an ear scaffolding structure implanted through surgery. The ear has a recorder and transmitter implanted and will eventually transmit for us to eavesdrop on his conversations!


Infini — Space Horror Film

I saw Infini last night, a new Australian space horror film, at the Gold Coast Film Festival. There was red carpet with actors posing for photos… Pretty exciting!


I really enjoyed this film. The main character, Whit Carmichael, ends up on an old space outpost where bad shit has gone down in the past and is going to again.

The film stands comfortably in the space horror and bio-contagion horror subgenres, reminding me of Event Horizon, Helix, Alien, but with significant themes of family and redemption.

Director, Shane Abbess, said the film was his rebellion against what he’d worked on in Hollywood. His wife and co producer Sidonie Abbene wanted the film to have an international feel, which I think it achieves.

It also voices Aussie wisdom with repeated statements of, “Don’t touch anything,” which seemed like a blatant tongue poke at Prometheus.

Like most films, it needed more women in it. Let’s get those cast ratios up to 50%! 

I’ve heard a rumour that it opens at cinemas in May, but I can’t find a source to back that up. I hope it does.

Back Home and Swancon Highlights

I finally got a full night of sleep, partly due to being home in my dark quiet room, and in my home time-zone, and away from all the convention excitement. I haven’t taken off my Swancon T-shirt yet! It’s so comfy and I still feel a bit wrapped in Swancon this way. But it will probably need a wash soon. :-)


Compared to being at home doing the daily grind of school lunches and school runs, four days of conversation, learning and fun (and moderate consumption of alcohol) have left me feeling a lot sharper and excited about life.

Though I did have conbrain yesterday, but I blame Virgin for continually giving out wine. They also provided mostly/totally vegan food options without being asked. I’m guessing they do this to keep costs down and also to please vegetarians and vegans, but it is so wonderful to find food you are happy to eat when you’re very high up in the air! I stayed mostly vegan over the con. Took along my little blender and my seed, nut and rice powders, which made it easier.

Coolangatta Welcome Arachnid — Welcome to the Web Hotel! Bugs stay for free! In silky sleeping bags. Breakfast included.

On the plane I planned a story, watched the end of Interstellar :,) and the beginning of Young Ones (desert farming future with robots). It looked good. I loved Interstellar. 

If I had to pick highlights of the con, they would be interviewing Kylie Chan, meeting new friends and immersing in WA fan culture, attending John Scalzi’s Kaffeeklatsche, getting to know people better, and winning an award.

The interview with Kylie was my first in front of an audience and I was really nervous before it, but not at all once we got started. So grateful to Swancon and Kylie for giving me that opportunity! Btw, if you are into Chinese mythology or urban fantasy with cool fighting women, romance and a big cast of rich characters, check out her novels. She recommends starting at the first, White Tiger. She’s working on the ninth book of the series now, so it’s a story you can really sink your teeth into.  

With Kylie Chan

And whoa, the next Natcon is ours, Queensland! The very first Contact! Geeze, it’s a bit early to be getting excited about it but I want to start counting down the days, lol.


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