Friday, August 29, 2008


Not a lake or tree in sight and definitely not fluttering. (Where did Wordsworth get that line from? Swaying - maybe. Dancing - fair enough. Fluttering - never). Nonetheless they're one of the joys of Spring - even if it is two days off.

From my garden:

And, just to be fair, one of the last of the winter flowers - a potted camellia that stands outside my back door.

And, best of all, it's been raining.

Two More!

... Clarion South mates that is, with stories you too can read - and they're good. In the latest issue of GUD on sale now we have Think Fast, by Michael Greenhut. I read the first draft of this at Clarion. Highly recommended. Apparently you can buy a PDF version and, after reading the teasers, you'll want to.
Then up at the Daily Cabal is a new short short, Little Bird, by Jason Fischer. I'm generally not fond stories with devolved English but I make an exception for this one. It's clever, it works and it's free.


Having a kitten lying at your feet, gazing up at you, who suddenly springs lightly on to your lap, then up to snuggle in and rest its head on your shoulder and purr loudly is a sweet experience - especially when followed by a kitten kiss on the cheek. Just saying...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Of Owls and Other Birds

The dog was barking furiously at the door the other night and when I turned on the outside light and looked out an owl sitting on the archway above the steps. It sat hunched and focussed, head turning slowly in an almost complete circle, and totally ignoring the dog now barking almost directly underneath it. I called her back in and watched as it continued to survey the garden for about five minutes before it abandoned its search, lifted silently and vanished into the night.
I saw it again a couple of nights later as it passed over the garden in a low sweep. There's good hunting here apparently.

I couldn't identify what kind of owl this time - it was fluffed and I couldn't see its head and shape clearly - but I've heard mopokes calling recently.

This is one of the joys of where I live. We are in a small quiet enclave almost completely surrounded by three nature reserves with extensive wetlands and two well wooded golf courses plus a number of small parks. This means we have a large and varied bird population, both migratory and resident, and we sometimes get quite unexpected visitors - a white egret fishing in the fishpond, a purple swamphen taking a drink from a garden tap, a pair of wood duck sitting at the bus stop looking for all the world as if they were waiting for a bus, the brilliant blue of a kingfisher diving into my neighbour's pool and the tawny frogmouths that have nested in a garden not far away for years pay an occasional visit.

And people wonder why we don't want to move.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Spring Flowers

I don't know if it's the unseasonably long, fine, dry spell we're having but the Spring flowers are starting to come out a bit earlier than usual I think. Come and take a walk with me through my garden.

I had a rush of blood to the head (or something like it) back in April when I bought and, more surprisingly, planted in due time bags and bags of bulbs. So far we've had pots of winter flowering paper white jonquils and tiny dark blue grape hyacinths (both nearly finished) which followed the creamy white richly scented jonquils which valiantly flower every year in the patch of the front garden known as The Desert to me and my neighbours. This is the part of the front verge between our two driveways receiving all the reflected heat from both driveways and the road. Very little grows there despite all our efforts but every year the jonquils put on a lovely display.

In the rest of the garden things are moving on. The snowflakes opened about a week ago, white and green bell heads hanging down, in the corner near the back fence. I'm not sure how they got there or what's happened to those in the bed outside the family room but I'm pleased to see these though. At least I haven't lost them all.

Most unexpected though, this week the daffodils have burst into bloom. Where six days ago, when I weeded the bed, there were only clumps of leaves golden trumpets are strutting their stuff. I half expect a brassy fanfare any minute. It's a pity that they probably won't last for next season. I find that most of the daffodils only flower once these days because they are imported from the Eastern States and either forced in some way or unsuited to our climate. There's a bonus in this bed too because the self-seeded crimson poppies which didn't come up last year have popped up all over the bed. They're still seedlings but they give the promise of a bright display a bit later.

Even more surprising is the first Dutch iris flower. I expect them to come out in the second week of September because when they were in bloom when I had one of my babies and the date is fixed in my mind. A blue so deep it's almost purple, this one is in a group of several dozen I planted next to one of the ponds. I love Dutch iris and grow them every year but last Summer's heatwave seems to have wiped out all those I had in the garden from previous years. This is one of the new lot and if this is anything to go on they're going to be stunning.

All that are left to flower of the bulbs are the miniature daffodils in the planter trough on the edge of the veranda and Spanish bluebells. Some of these are in the garden but there are three big pots as well. They are always generous in their flowering and I'm sure they'll be worth the wait.

And then we'll be ready for the roses and other flowers that are already sprouting. Come back when they are in flower, won't you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Awards 2008

What a lovely afternoon on Sunday at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre which is perched near the top of Greenmount on the Darling Scarp. The scarp edges the Perth hills and, when it's clear, as it mostly is in Perth, you can see all the way across the coastal plain. It's truly spectacular at night.

The Writers' Centre is located in the house where Katharine Susannah Prichard lived and did much of her writing. Writers can rent accommodation for retreats in the house and very soon several new self-contained writer's retreats will be available too.

But back to the Awards. Even the weather was kind on Sunday. Last year there was a continual grey drizzle that dripped away at the spirits. This year it was a warm and sunny winter's day with the Award presentations and readings followed by afternoon tea on the veranda.

The results and the Judge's Report are here. It was especially exciting for me because Laura Goodin and Jason Fischer, who received commended and highly commended respectively, are two of my Clarion South mates and both are excellent writers.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

More Clarion Reads

And today we have a story by Jason Fischer for free at the Daily Cabal and one by Daniel Braum in Full Unit Hookup #9 but to read that you have to buy the magazine.
What a busy lot this batch of Clarionites is.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I've just realised that Angus has been with us for a month. Caddy is still seriously unimpressed but fascinated at the same time. I've been keeping them in different parts of the house but Angus would really like to come out and play everywhere. He lies at the door of his area calling loudly and wildly waving his paws through the gap underneath. Cadillac, being a serious wuss, keeps his distance. He sits about a metre away staring fixedly as if he can't work out exactly what these little grey things are but the minute I open the door and pick Angus up, he saunters off pretending he didn't really want to know.

As Angus is getting bigger so is the havoc he can cause in a small area. This is what I found when I came into my study yesterday morning.

Cute, isn't he? He's not as silvery as he was but he has unusual stippled markings that make him much more attractive than your run of the mill tabby. And you've guessed it - he is here to stay even if Pisces is still huffing and puffing a bit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Template

You will notice I have a new template for my blog. I'm sorry to part with the old one but this one was always my second preference. The trouble was the old one didn't show the links clearly and you can't miss them now - and this is a very good thing, I think.


How exciting. Melbourne is to hold Worldcon 2010. To be known as Aussiecon4, it will take place between 2-6 September 2010. Guests will be Kim Stanley Robinson, Robin Johnson and Shaun Tan.
Now that is something to put in your diary!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Buying US Postage Stamps

A slight hint to all those who direct writers to the US Postal Service website to buy stamps instead of using International Reply Coupons for their stamped, self-addressed reply envelopes. It might work if you live in the US but at present they aren't selling to international customers. Mutter, mutter, mutter.

Olympics Free Zone Declared.

I hereby vow that I will not mention the Games here again after today until the final medal count when I may succumb to national pride.

I have nothing against the Games in general but much against them being forced on me every waking moment by every form of the media. I do not see the Games as an earth stoppingly important event. Yes, it is a good thing to have representatives of many nations and sports come together and if they gain more understanding of other ways of life so much the better but that is only a side aspect to the real business of the Games. The reality is this is a group of driven people who want to succeed whatever the cost to themselves, their families and friends and that's fine if that's their choice. I certainly don't have anything against the pursuit of excellence in any field. That's how we advance in knowledge and skill. What I find hard to understand why this makes makes them "heroes" to use the word that commentators so regularly debase.

I wish all competitors the success they crave - and as the inhabitant of a relatively small nation it is nice to see our fellow countrymen and women bring home a stash of medals way beyond what our population should realistically achieve - but don't expect me to spend the next fortnight glued to the set and don't kid yourselves that you are doing it for your country. I don't doubt that you are truly flattered that you have been chosen to represent your nation but you're doing it for you, not your country. This is the place where you can show you are the best among your peers at a given time. That is a perfectly reasonable objective and I sincerely hope you attain your dreams of sporting and lifetime success.

There is another side to every Games - no, not the big business one where everyone except most of the locals, whose lives are totally disrupted and who can either not afford tickets or are locked out of the process, makes a mint. It's the one where, in a rush akin to air-brushing, all the warts of the host country are no longer visible. I am highly offended by inane remarks by athletes and commentators such as the one who, when asked if she thought the situation in Tibet would have an impact on the way Australians saw the Games, replied along the lines of "They'll forget all about that once the gold medals come rolling in."

That is deeply insulting and, on behalf of myself and the many others across the world who have watched how in the lead up to the Games the Chinese government has continued its heavy handed, authoritarian behaviour in so many areas, Tibet being only one example, with no surprise but much disappointment, I would like to say that we are not all so shallow as to forget these things because of a few Olympic medals.

Rant over for now. Let the Games begin.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Recently a mate, Joel Fagin, let on that he and Robert Bracey from the UK have been working on an online web comic called Tengu. Chapter One is up and I've just got around to reading it. Wow! It's beautifully drawn and there are already hints of a tantalising storyline. It updates on Mondays and I recommend you have a look.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

On Dog Versus Sandwich and Dreaming Again

Until I came across Lyn Battersby's story, Lily's Song, I hadn't really had a look at Dog Versus Sandwich which has been my loss. There are some neat stories here by writers who can really write. I discovered, in my wanderings through the site, stories by Jason Fischer and Peter M. Ball, both fellow Clarion South attendees but even more impressively both also have stories in Jack Dann's recent anthology, Dreaming Again, along with writers of the calibre of Margo Lanagan, Lee Battersby, Kim Wilkins and Rowena Corey Daniels to name only a handful.
Christopher Green, Ben Francisco and Chris Lynch are others from Clarion South 2007 in Dreaming Again too and I was delighted to see Cecily Scutt, a fellow West Australian, has a story in there as well.
Dreaming Again combines so many great writers that all I can say is "Go and read it" but while you're waiting to get to the bookshop try out Dog Versus Sandwich.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

And Over on Dog Versus Sandwich

We have Lily's Song by Lyn Battersby. A beautifully written piece of fiction that I know you will enjoy. Have a look here. Lyn was also a Clarion South 2007 grad - in case you've forgotten.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

KSP Mini Con

In case anyone has not heard about it, from the KSP Mini Con blog

The KSP Mini Con is on again!

Those who attended the inaugural KSP Mini Con run, by the KSP Speculative Fiction Writers' Group, have been asking when the next will be on. Well the wait is over and planning for the KSP Mini Con 2008 is underway.

This is a must visit for Western Australian writers and fans of speculative fiction - a chance to meet writers and editors with panels, readings and books for sale for only a gold coin entry. Tea and coffee and cheap lunches available.

Why come? Because the more opportunities for fans and writers of speculative fiction to get together the better. You'll be able to mingle with established authors and editors, meet up with fans and buy books.

When is it? From 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Sunday 21 September 2008.

Where? At Katharine's Place, the home of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount, WA 6056. This heritage listed building, perched near the top of Greenmount, was the home of well known Australian writer Katharine Susannah Prichard.

Who will be there? Established Western Australian writers and editors from all areas of speculative fiction - science fiction, fantasy and horror. They'll be on discussion panels and reading from their work and there'll be books for sale from local speculative fiction bookshops.

And an update.


There's going to be a great line up at the KSP Mini Con.

Confirmed guests so far include:

Adrian Bedford

Alisa Krasnostein

Bevan McGuiness

Dave Luckett

Elaine Kemp

Grant Stone

Hal Colbatch

Ian Nicholls

Janet Blagg

John Parker

Juliet Marillier

Lee Battersby

Lyn Battersby

Martin Livings

Russell Farr

Simon Haynes

Stephen Dedman

Tehani Wessely

That's a lot of knowledge and talent to be gathered in one place and it's only the beginning.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Daily Cabal

Jason Fischer, a Clarion South mate, has joined the Daily Cabal and his flash fiction piece, Sweet Baby Honey, is here
There are also a number of other fine stories including a bundle by another Clarion South grad, Daniel Braum.