Monthly Archives: October 2011

Very exciting news!

Thanks to the magic of Twitter, we knew almost as soon as it was announced that my good friend and colleague (in indie press) Alisa Krasnostein won the World (WORLD!!!) Fantasy Special Award – Non-professional in San Diego (presented at World Fantasy Con) for her work at Twelfth Planet Press. The World Fantasy Awards are annual, international awards given to authors and artists who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in the field of fantasy and are considered among the most prestigious in the speculative fiction genre.

I’m SO excited for Alisa – this backs up from the international award win Twelfth Planet Press had at the WSFA Small Press Award last year, with Tansy Rayner Roberts’ “Siren Beat”, and TPP is just going from strength to strength. Alisa works so hard for her press, producing beautiful, brilliant books and nurturing creative talent in Australia. Well done Alisa!!

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A productive long weekend

I’m almost at the end of a four day weekend (Friday was a public holiday here, for the Queen, and I don’t work Thursdays). I must have known I’d be in the mood to get stuff done, as I had a skip delivered on Tuesday. The skip was intended for clearing out the rubbish in the sheds, but once that was done, it had barely made any impression on the skip (husband suggested it meant I really hadn’t cleaned much out. I told him to shush). However, I couldn’t just let the skip go to waste, and so the weekend of GARDENING occurred!

I’m not really the gardening type. I don’t mind watering plants, and strangely enjoy mowing (but I don’t like emptying the mower bucket!) but rarely find I’m in the mood to weed, or design gardens or anything like that. However, we have these ridiculously fast growing bush lemon trees in our backyard which really needed a stern talking to – with battery-powered pruning shears! I went to Bunnings (and was ripped off by bad shelf signage), purchasing said shears, a rake, heavy duty garden gloves, garden bucket and cheap spade. So armed, I went into battle against the massive trees, hacking away at the thickest branches my new shears would manage. I did not escape unscathed – those trees have nasty long thorns, so I’m a bit prickled on my arms, but, after three days off and on, I’m feeling rather proud of myself. I’ve completely cleared the leaf litter (and decaying lemon litter) from under the trees, and they’ve been cut back to be more canopy than child-danger, and it feels like the back yard is suddenly twice the size!

Despite husband’s admonitions yesterday, this morning I also did some judicious pruning of the four trees behind the pool, which had bushed out so much you couldn’t get past them on the ladder-side (particularly problematic because the bees really love them). I think I did a good job! I reckon he probably won’t even notice 🙂 And finally, I’ve done a bit of tidying of plants that didn’t survive winter (ahem, because I completely took watering off my list of jobs for winter. Oops) and cleaned up the gardens. Go me! Arms are pleasantly sore and I’m feeling all healthful after all the fresh air! It’s been a lovely weekend for it as well, which was a nice bonus.

In other news, I’m officially a week ahead of schedule for CBCA reading, sending off a report today that’s not due til Monday week. Which means I can start on the next pile that’s waiting, but also probably squeeze in a couple of books for pleasure (I managed to finish Steampunk! over the past week, but there are so many other books still languishing on my TBR shelves!). Fair bit of review reading sitting there too. Really should get on to that. And I’ve started packing some boxes in the kids’ rooms – the bookcases are copping a hiding, because we have so many books that even if we pack up 90%, there’s plenty to keep us entertained! And because they are awesome, my big kids have been playing nicely together all weekend (with Spider-Man Monopoly winning out over computer & DS for the most part). Master One has been most “helpful” outside…

We did have husband home for one whole day yesterday. He’s gone off again, for two or three weeks (hopefully two, which will bring him back in time for Master Eight’s birthday). We managed to go out to the park for an hour or so yesterday (after three hours there at a birthday party on Friday), and to Sizzler for an early dinner yesterday. And a quick visit with my aunt. Did well! We’re about to head off to our second birthday party of the weekend, which I will hopefully be skivving out of to visit with Terri. Woot! Oh, and apparently I only have 21 days of work left. Did I mention that?

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On slushing…

Image courtesy of whisperwolf on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons.

In reading for Apocalypse Hope (working title), this is the first time I’ve opened my slushpool doors internationally. It’s been an interesting experience. I’ve been flooded with submissions from all over the world (particularly the US), and what has been the most heartening part of the process is how well the Aussie subs stand up against the international ones. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been quality submissions from all over the world, but the top Australian submissions are surpassing any from overseas, which is fantastic to see.

I ended up with over 200 submissions (I’ll do a stats breakdown when I’ve finished reading, for gender, nationality, reprint vs original works etc), and with a rather manic month and a half just past (starting with two weeks of being very ill, then school holidays and my mum’s ongoing journey of discovery of illness), I’m down to the wire on the actual reading deadline I gave myself. I plan to have all first round reading done (that is, any outright rejections) by the end of this month. Two days away. Eep. And then I’ve got another stack of second round readings to do, which I don’t want to go much beyond mid-November on. That’s my plan, right at this moment, and I’m so grateful to the wonderful authors who permit me to hold on to their stories a little longer than I’d originally hoped.

I’ve been interested to see how some authors deal with their submission. I really should have had a column for “Didn’t follow guidelines” to put in the stats, because it’s been surprisingly high. Top offenders were stories outside the word count (without query), submission of reprint (without query), multiple (without query) or simultaneous submission, and completely not fitting the theme. There were also plenty of emails without any information in the body of the email (not even a “Dear Editor, please find my submission attached”). Weirdest “Didn’t follow the guidelines” was a snail mail submission from the UK (what the WHAT?!). Typewritten. I kid you not.

Image courtesy of irina slutsky on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons

And it’s also been interesting to have more than one author take rejection very badly. Newbie writers, please take note – being aggressive with the person who publishes the work is a really bad idea. I’m an editor and publisher and sure, I don’t put out a whole lot of anthologies. Right now. At this point in my career. But my goal is to go on to bigger things. And I happen to have lots of friends who are editors and publishers. And we talk. About writers. And unprofessionalism in a writer is something we are interested in talking about, because if you can’t handle the rejection of your precious story (and yes, they are all precious, we understand), the chances are you won’t deal very well with the editorial process. Or, should you make it through that, with negative reviews (the very BEST of stories gets them – live with it).

Read a few pro writer blogs. Read about the rejections slips almost EVERY pro writer gathered when starting out (and may still gather, if they are the most wonderful type of writer who continues to take risks, who writes without contract, who submits on spec, even though they probably don’t HAVE to any more!), and consider their graciousness with this process. Rejection hurts. We all KNOW this. But you have to learn to deal with it if you really want to write.

The thing is too, you sometimes have no idea why you’ve been rejected (such as when the editor is very busy and doesn’t have time to give you more than a standard rejection). It could be that your story was actually pretty good, but just a bit too similar to another story already accepted. Or that the story just didn’t quite fit the interpretation of the theme in the editor’s head. Or any number of reasons (including, yes, that it was just plain bad). And if you behave badly in reaction to the rejection you receive, guess what? You just got crossed off that editor’s list of people she wants to work with in the future. To be honest, the best response is no response; trust me, there’s no point in arguing, and if feedback has not been freely offered, don’t ask for it. There are plenty of online and face-to-face crit groups who will give that to you.

I need to say though, almost all the writers I deal with are fantastic. They are wonderful to edit, respond promptly to email, and handle rejections gracefully. And they are the reason I continue to do this job – the good guys outnumber the bad, thankfully!

Right, so now I’ve got that off my chest, excuse me while I dive back into the slushpool, to fish out some more gems.

If you enjoyed this rant post, you might also be interested in the (more reasoned) post Alisa Krasnostein at Twelfth Planet Press made recently on the same topic.

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Well, that sucks

My mum has been on a rollercoaster for the past few weeks. Well, maybe not a rollercoaster – that would imply there have been ups. Unfortunately, the ride has been all downhill. She has gone from being a healthy 61-year old who feels fine, to a person about to be admitted to Leukemia House in Brisbane for the next six to nine months, to be treated for an aggressive lymphoma. Her GP came across high calcium levels in her blood about four weeks ago, and from then it’s just been an escalating diagnosis, from suspected parathyroid problem to suspected lymphoma to stage three lymphoma (treatable with six months of chemo) to this. And you know what? It fucking sucks being on the opposite side of the country right now. 😦 For a wonder, my brother (who lives very near them) has actually stepped up, so that’s at least something, but I feel so bloody useless and I have no idea what to do.

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New Who in conversation: The girl in the fireplace (S02E04)

Watching New Who – in conversation with David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely
David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all. We’re going to work our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, as our blogging points. Just for fun! We have already talked about:
“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The girl in the fireplace” – Season two, episode four
The Doctor – David Tennant
Rose Tyler – Billie Piper
Mickey Smith – Noel Clarke
Sophia Myles – Reinette
One of the advantages the episodic format gives shows like Doctor Who is that the writers get a chance to play around with all sorts of concepts, and experiment a little. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed the later seasons of Smallville so much, for example, because you never knew what you were going to get. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is never boring and gives great scope for creativity. I can just imagine the writers sitting around and throwing in ideas for this one. Steampunk and clockwork? Why not? Love story? Sure!
It’s Steampunk In Space!! Awesomely awesome 🙂 I like the longer story arcs we get in New Who, but when the individual episodes are done this well, I love them too. This one is a standout.
This episode has so much to talk about! Given the previous episode, the theme of mortality, and how a, if not immortal, long lived being like the Doctor interacts with short lived humans was very timely. I also enjoyed the way her perceptions of the Doctor changed, which mirrors the differences between how we watch the show as children, and then as adults. And, of course, the idea of the Doctor as the hero, quite literally riding to the rescue, was something that resonated with me.One of the other interesting things about this episode is that you could take someone who has never seen Doctor Who before, and knows nothing more about it than it’s a British sci fi show, and it would stand up completely on its own. It’s so self contained that it works as a stand alone sci fi love story, yet more excellent writing.

This is another of my favourites, and further evidence that Steven Moffat’s (as writer) take on the show was going to be hugely important to New Who. After being supremely cheeky in “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” by addressing the idea of the Doctor flirting and possibly having a sex life (albeit couched in metaphor!) as well as being very relaxed around different sexual orientations, he follows up with this story which unashamedly gives the Doctor a romance.

However you feel about Rose and whether what’s going on between her and the Doctor is romantic or not (it can certainly be read either way at this point), there is no mistaking what is going on with him and Madame De Pompadour in this story. Kissing!  Mind-reading! White charger! Doom!

The first thing I though when they kissed was, “Finally a real kiss! Tansy must have been thrilled!”

And, how awesome was it when he rides the horse through the mirror? It doesn’t get much better than that. Continue reading


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