Category Archives: Me

I have an excuse, really!

These long gaps between posts have become more the norm than not, which is a bit sad. Twitter and Facebook tend to suck out a fair bit of what I used to blog, but this time, it’s not the only reason for the radio silence! After a good school holiday break in which the family and I kept pretty busy (but stayed home mostly, other than me spending the last weekend in Sydney at the Sydney Writers’ Centre Speculative Fiction Festival), I went back to work feeling good, as you’d expect. Nice and rested, all caught up on things, ready for another big term.

That lasted a week. On the first Friday night of term I went to bed early, but within a short while was feeling a bit odd. Our nanny had been ill with a tummy bug just that morning, so I thought it was probably the same thing – unpleasant, but over in a relatively short time. So I put up with the pain, even though I couldn’t sleep. By midnight, I was exhibiting all the symptoms, but the pain seemed to be getting worse. And worse. And then more worse. By about 4am, I probably should have called the ambulance and gone to the hospital, but I held out until 6am, then woke the nanny and got her to take me to Emergency. Apparently 6ish on a Saturday morning is a good time to get sick because there was no one else there and I was ushered straight through and into a bed. The pain was absolutely awful, and I could have kissed the lovely nurse who finally administered morphine through the IV – that stuff is astonishing, though it still took at least half an hour for my body to unclench all the muscles I reckon!

IMG_0713Early diagnosis indicated probably appendicitis, but I had a barrage of tests throughout the day, including an MRI, before they pronounced it the case. Up to the surgical ward I went that evening, but didn’t get the operation until Sunday morning. Relatively straightforward, thank goodness, a laparoscopic appendectomy with no major issues (though I had a bruise on the back of my hand from an IV I never saw for WEEKS after!). I managed to get up and about within a few hours, and felt okay about it. A fairly sleepless night thanks to a very annoying young woman in the bed across the way, but I was allowed to go home Monday morning.

All good, right? Well, I thought so. Sleep wasn’t terribly easy, and I wasn’t really feeling all that great, despite regular naps and doing nothing at all. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, my pain racheted up and I got my husband to take me back to the hospital, because it didn’t feel right. Cue another big round of tests (another MRI, chest x-ray and a VERY thorough ultrasound), another night in hospital, with no real outcome. The pain had abated, and so I went home again.

IMG_0747I shuffled around the house for a few days, worked up to driving on the weekend (cos kids, right), and then presented at the doctor on the Tuesday to get the “fit for work” clearance required by my work. Ah, nope, says the doctor. My pain still wasn’t great, and it turns out my x-ray and MRI showed some lower lung collapse and fluid, which accounted for the fact I couldn’t get a deep breath (and probably the pain too!). Doctor prescribes some stonking penicillin and sends me home for the rest of the week. The new antibiotics worked great, and I started to feel better within hours – magic stuff!

So I eventually get back to work on the Monday, after two weeks wombling around the house feeling horrid. Things seemed to be on the mend. I got better as the week went on. And then on the Saturday I woke up with a super still neck and the start of a head cold. By Monday, aches and pains and lightheadedness had started too. And so I’ve spent the past two weeks battling the flu! Ended up back at the doctor again last Monday, because the pain I’d had before recurred, so I figured it was the same issue – seems so, because some more antibiotics set me to rights! And now, though I’m still not 100%, I’m well on the road to being so!

I’m very grateful to live in a time where we can be treated for the things I’ve had these past few weeks, and to live in a country with a free (well, other than the GP visits!) healthcare system. The Canberra hospital staff were excellent, and I while I don’t know how much they are paid, the nurses deserve more. They’re amazing.

IMG_0725You know who else is amazing? My staff at work – they just made all the things happen and kept me up to date. They sent flowers and brought food and cake and kind wishes. I’m super lucky.

And who else? My au pair, Trisha – have no idea how we would have coped without her!

And that’s my excuse for the past five weeks. The six or eight before that? Erm, well…life!

Currently I’m working on having two books (one print, one e-only) ready for Conflux in Canberra on the first weekend in October – I’m a guest at the con, and really looking forward to it! Four weeks left of term, and a busy holiday period ahead. Bring it on in good health!

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Well, that was the holidays

While I know intellectually I’ve achieved a fair bit these holidays, at the same time it feels like the two weeks have absolutely flown by and I can’t quite believe I have to go back to work tomorrow. Luckily I love my job, so it’s not actually a huge hardship, but boyoboy, I needed that break!

IMG_9852So what HAVE we done? Well the holidays started out with a very social weekend thanks to the Aurealis Awards (I storified them here) and lots of catching up with visitors to town surrounding that. We then spent a lovely few hours on the first Monday having a barbecue with friends out at the Cotter Reserve, which we’d never been to before. But after that, other than (twice) daily swimming for the kids, I spent several days decompressing. For a while there, I just couldn’t focus on anything – I couldn’t finish a book, or even an episode of a tv show! I feel like it was a ridiculously busy term, and even though I enjoyed the work I was doing, what with finishing two books to bring out in March and April on top of everything else, plus Swancon over Easter (and a weekend work conference the week before that), I was just fried. I did very little during the first week but read books and hang out with the kids. I had really hoped to meet up with a few people for drinks, but I had trouble even dealing with emails for a few days, let alone real human interaction.

However, by the beginning of the second week, I started feeling a bit more normal. I went to see Cinderella with Miss 9 (it was, hmm, nice. Yep, that’s about it) on the Monday when husband was (far to briefly) home. Master 2 was at daycare each day still, and Master 5 had daily swimming lessons for the holidays, which got us out of the house nice and early each day. He had a teacher to himself too, which was great! M9 had regular squad the first week each afternoon, but three half day stroke clinics Tues/Wed/Thurs of the second week, so we spent a fair bit of time shuttling back and forth to the pool.

I had some goals for the break, and I’m actually pretty pleased with what I got done.

  • cleaned bathroom ceiling (took about half an hour after I put it off for several months!)
  • cleaned bathrooms
  • cleaned out and sorted all the kids’ cupboards
  • cleaned up kids’ bedrooms
  • sorted out bookcases and displayed pewter and crystal at last
  • completely finished washing/folding/ironing AND putting everything away
  • organised 2013-2014 tax for accountant (at LAST)
  • sent out a bunch of books to purchasers and reviewers etc
  • set the ball rolling for some new publishing projects
  • facilitated playdates for children
  • watched an AWFUL lot of “television”
  • saw Avengers: Age of Ultron (with the bigger kids)
  • rebuilt the FableCroft website
  • read a bunch of books
  • started the process to call for judges for the 2015 Aurealis Awards, and worked on a few things behind the scenes
  • spend an awful lot of time on Twitter and Facebook
  • hung out with the kids

There was probably more, but that’s what I can remember!

IMG_9804And now I’m back to work for what will probably be another busy term (they always are!) but should be lots of fun too. I have a staff retreat the second week back, which will hopefully keep my batteries charged. Once more unto the breach!

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My NAFF Journey to Swancon 40 (Natcon 54)

I was very excited to win the NAFF race this year, which allowed me to attend Natcon 54 (Swancon 40). I’d thrown my hat in the ring for the 2014 race but lost by one vote to Matt Lindus, who came over from Perth to the Melbourne Natcon at Continuum. This year it was a bigger race, with four great candidates (you can find more information here, and I was very chuffed to be declared the winner. While I had been to Swancon before, of course (I was even on the organising committee in 2011!), I hadn’t been back since we left Western Australia the following year.

Due to work and family commitments, I could only attend the convention Friday through to Sunday night, leaving Canberra very early on Good Friday to catch my first flight. While I had reading material and my own viewing on my device, I somehow got sucked into watching Orange is the New Black on my flight from Melbourne to Perth – compelling and engaging and just a bit confronting. I can see why it’s so popular! Continue reading

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Into the NAFF race, once more…

Even though I was beaten (by the slimmest of margins) for NAFF last year, I thought I throw my hat in the ring once again. Glutton for punishment, me! I’ll let the blurb below tell you more about it, but if you would like to help me win the race, please feel free to vote! You can download the voting form right here or to make it super easy, you can vote online here with just a few clicks and Paypal  :) It costs $5.00, with all vote proceeds going to the fan fund, so it’s a good cause!

NAFF 2015

Welcome to the NAFF race for 2015. 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 54th Australian Natcon, Swancon 40, which will be held in Perth during Easter, 2nd– 6th April 2015. 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: Matt Lindus (WA) and the candidate(s). For more information please contact Matt at ratticus@msquared.com.au.

Voting is closed.

Voting opens Sunday 1st March 2015 and concludes on Monday 16th of March 2015. Your candidates for this year:

Paula McGrath

My first convention was Aussiecon3. I stage-managed the Hugos and my memorable moment was convincing Terry Pratchett to hand out awards to ‘fat Americans’ (his words). Since then I’ve helped organise Convergence2002, was on the committee of Aussiecon4, failed in a DUFF race (sympathy play), saw a Worldcon in Chicago, attended almost 10 Continuums, been on and off various committees. What I love most about fandom is the lifelong friends you make and the joy of squeeing about your favourite things and not seem weird. I’ve never been to a Swancon, so this would be a great experience.

Nominated by: Sarah Lee Parker (WA), Rose Mitchell (Vic), and Julian Warner (Vic)

Candice Schilder

I’ve been an active member of the SwanCon community for a long time, including being committee for 23 and convenor of 25. Despite having moved away from WA more than a decade ago, I have continued to make my way to SwanCon, so far without fail. I’m such a familiar face at the convention that I have stopped being surprised when people still think I live locally. I’ll bring to the con the same things I always do; a friendly smile, energy, enthusiasm and a well planned Masquerade costume.

Nominated by: Greg Tannahill (ACT), Desiree Heald (WA), and Samara Morgan (WA)

Greg Tannahill

I am an ACT-based fan, an attendee of multiple Swancons, Continuums and Confluxes, and am well-known in the related community of Australian Roleplaying Conventions. As NAFF delegate I would like to see stronger ties between Australia’s gaming and SF communities, and to cross-pollinate the lessons and experience of each community to help all fans. Both communities need new ideas and new blood, and this is a great place to start. Due to family commitments I cannot otherwise afford to be in Perth on the weekend of Swancon and the NAFF funding would make my attendance possible.

Nominated by: Stuart Barrow (ACT), Julia Burns (ACT), and April Rutkay (WA)

Tehani Wessely

I’ve been involved in the Australian speculative fiction scene since 2001, attending my first convention in 2002. I’m a book geek, a Doctor Who nerd and have volunteerism issues. I was part of the Natcon 50 organising committee, had several years of working with the Andromeda Spaceways crew, helped run the ASif! reviews website, and have judged or acted as judging co-ordinator for the Aurealis Awards since 2007. I love working on ways to improve the prominence of Australian spec fic creators, such as the Australian Spec Fic Snapshot project and by openly wearing my geek cred loud and proud!

Nominated by: Ju Landesse (Vic), Cat Sparks (NSW), and Alisa Kranostein (WA)

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2014 in review

Seeing as I barely blogged (here – I did blog a fair bit at FableCroft and also for my school websites, but Facebook and Twitter tend to be my go-to social networks these days) this year, I figured it might be worth a brief post looking at the year that was. The fact January is almost half over already by the time I’m doing this may indicate what sort of blogging year 2015 will be as well…

1546382_10202569827183393_103299899_nJanuary saw me start a new job in Canberra, commuting to the family in Tassie for the first term while living in a little granny flat during the week. The new job was, and has remained all year, fabulous. I love it, love my staff, love the kids. Very pleased to have made the leap, despite the fact it meant we left (and sold) our lovely home in Tassie that we adored, as well as our fantastic friends there. Due to the travelling, I was quietly tickled to reach Platinum membership status with Virgin Australia, which has made flying a very pleasant experience this past year! Unlikely I’ll maintain it, but it’s fun while it lasts!

Husband started a short-term job midway through the first term, which meant the children were parentless. Thankfully my parents and then a very good friend of the family stepped in for several weeks to take care of them while we both worked. I then shifted the whole family up to Canberra during the Easter holidays, as well as friend from WA who came to be our nanny for the rest of the year. Couldn’t have done 2014 without all the support.

Cranky Ladies logoMarch (and the lead up to) were super busy as we ran a crowdfunding campaign for the Cranky Ladies of History anthology project. We got a lot of media and smashed our target, which was brilliant! The book is due out in early March 2015 and we’re putting the final edits together now. It’s a fantastic book and I’m super proud of it, as well as very grateful to my co-editor Tansy Rayner Roberts and all the contributors for their work. Can’t wait to show it off! As well as projects still yet to come out, 2014 also saw FableCroft publish:

  • the original novel Guardian by Jo Anderton
  • the (mostly) original anthology Phantazein
  • reprint anthology Focus 2013: highlights of Australian short fiction
  • “Sanction” by Dirk Flinthart
  • The Pratchett’s Women and 50 Roman Mistresses essay collections by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • reprint (ebook) novel The Tainted by Glenda Larke

We had several launches/book parties through the year, including one in Hobart to celebrate (belatedly) the launch of Tansy’s Ink Black Magic and Dirk’s Path of Night novels from late 2013, one at Continuum for the release of Guardian, and one at Conflux for the release of Phantazein, all of which were great fun.

photo (36)In early April I had the five day Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year judging conference (for which I was the Tasmanian judge), which coincided with the announcement of the Aurealis Awards (for which I was judging co-ordinator), both in Canberra, which was most handy. This made for a super busy long weekend but one that was filled with collegial conversations revolving primarily around books and publishing – fantastic! Was absolutely delighted to have several shortlisted works on the ballot, and to see Joanne Anderton take home the Aurealis Award for Best Collection for The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories (it also won the Australian Shadows Award for the same category and was shortlisted for a Ditmar!) and that we co-won the Best Anthology category for One Small Step – we’ve had a few shortlistings and one win in a short story category in the past, but this time I got to bring home a trophy! We also had shortlistings for the Ditmar Awards, the Australian Shadows and the Washington Science Fiction Association’s Small Press Award.

I had quite a few conferences during the year, including Continuum in Melbourne, SchoolsTechOz in Melbourne, Conflux in Canberra, the inaugural International Library Symposium at the Gold Coast, CrimeScene in Perth, and others here and there. We also spent several days in Queensland at Mum and Dad’s (and driving to and from) during the July school holidays, and finished the year there as well, though at the coast with them and my brother and his family, which was nice. Driving the distances with four kids on my own isn’t the most fun ever, though it seemed to be the only time I caught up on podcasts during the year, so that’s a win. I’m glad I got to spend time with my aunt in October when I was in WA for conferences, as sadly she passed away in December, and will be much missed.

Other things in 2014? We did the Australian Spec Fic Snapshot again, with an enormous number of interviews being conducted and posted over a two-week period; continued with David McDonald and Tansy our Doctor Who in Conversation series of reviews (for which we won the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review!); with Jo Anderton and Alex Pierce reread and reviewed the David & Leigh Eddings Elenium and Tamuli trilogies; hung out with friends when possible; unintentionally started a bit of Twitter fun with the #FakeCon hashtag; watched a LOT of shows (on DVD or computer, none of that free-to-air business!) with favourites being BBC Musketeers, Outlander, Defiance, Orphan Black, Doctor Who, Arrow, Flash and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD; read a LOT of books, too many to list but you can see them at Goodreads; chauffeuring children from pillar to post (the big kids also both had interstate trips on their own – Master J to QLD to his grandparents in April, Miss G to Tassie to her mates in October, including for her birthday!); I finally got my butt into gear and started actively working to lose some weight (so far about 10kg); and probably a million more things I’ve forgotten but there you have it. My 2014 in 1,000 words (and some pictures). Thanks for being part of it online or in real life, and here’s to another great year!

Christmas Wessely Kids  10410278_10204388469008302_8456898195796568932_n (1) 10847783_10204716753775216_7468526947719541367_n

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