Sunday, January 24, 2010

Aurealis Winners Announced

Out of my sick bed for just long enough to check this out.

The Aurealis Awards were announced last night and I'm delighted to see among them two of my Clarion South mates.

Peter M. Ball Best Science Fiction Short Story for 'Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens' Apex Magazine May 2009.
Christopher Green joint winner Best Fantasy Short Story for 'Father's Kill' Beneath Ceaseless Skies #24 Congratulations.

Others include fellow West Australian Jonathan Strahan (ed) Eclipse 3 Night Shade Books for Best Anthology and Cat Sparks receiving a very well deserved Best Young Adult Short Story for her haunting tale 'Seventeen' in Masques CSFG.

The rest of the list is a catalogue of good writers which you can see here. Congratulations to all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Egobooing Questions

I have a post up on the Egoboo WA blog answering some of the questions we've been asked about how the Egoboo group went about critiquing on the Eagle Bay retreat.

Why don't you drop in and have a look and while you're there have check out some of the other posts including Joanna Fay's exquisite translation from the French of To Paint a Bird's Portrait, a poem by 20th century French surrealist poet, Jacques Prevert. Highly recommended as reading for any artist or creative person. As well there are posts about a whole range of writing related matters and what the group members are doing in their writing lives.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One Month On

This is my vegie patch a month after the last pictures I posted. What a difference.

And from another angle.

Yet more.

I was very late planting this year but after only seven weeks I have harvested lettuce, basil, chives, coriander, two kinds of parsley and there are cucumbers, and zucchinis just about ready.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ways to Prevent Sexual Assault

Yes, I know it's a provocative title but it's an important topic. Women are continually given advice on how to avoid being sexually assaulted and it usually consists of advice on how the woman should modify or restrict her behaviour. It's refreshing to see it turned around. This was snurched from Laura Goodin's blog, A Motley Coat. Thanks to our mutual friend, Heather, who posted the link on her Facebook page.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Aus Spec Fic Carnival

Egoboo WA is hosting January's Aus Spec Fic Carnival. Go here to catch up on the latest happenings in the Australian Speculative Fiction World with news from blogs and LJs as well as about forthcoming events.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Glenda Larke's Stormlord Rising

Glenda Larke has a taster - well teaser more like - up on Voyager Online. In a piece of exquisite cruelty we're given Chapter One of her new book, Stormlord Rising, Book Two of her Watergivers trilogy. How could they? I devoured it in minutes and wanted more. If this is any indication of the rest of the book, we're in for a treat on par with The Last Stormlord (one of my favourite books for 2009 - and deservedly shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards).

I've ordered my copy (due out on March 1 in Australia). I only hope I can stand the strain until it's in my hot little hands. (It might be eased a little by the fact they are putting Chapter Two up online on January 22. Thank you.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TOC for Belong

Here is the Table of Contents in detail and I'm delighted to see my fellow KSP Speculative Fiction members Sonia Helbig and Carol Ryles on the list. Ah the delights of bathing reflected glory.

Cross Gender Writing

Carol Ryles has an interesting piece on this topic here on the Egoboo WA blog along with articles on various writing topics by Satima Flavell, Joanna Fay and Sarah Parker.

In Defence of ...

all those who can't eat what 'everyone' does.

This post was prompted by an article by Nicola Conville in this morning's Sunday Times. In it model Annalise Braakensiek describes how she is plagued by food allergies which she can only control by carefully watching everything she puts in her mouth. As a result she says that she is often regarded as 'picky'.

She has my sympathy. In my family there are several food allergy sufferers and while most folk have got a handle on the idea that sugar is poison to diabetics (not true but at least the need for diabetics to follow a particular dietary regime is acknowledged and accepted) and that peanuts can be fatal to those who are allergic to them, pretty much every other food problem is regarded as the sufferer being 'picky'.

The problem is that the other allergies, sensitivities and illnesses which involve food are not well publicised. Sharing food is an intrinsic part of human culture and society to the point that refusing to share - even on medical grounds - is often seen as an insult.

Annalise Braakensiek is quoted as saying that when she is forced to have a meal out she can often find nothing on the menu that she can eat. This has been our experience too. For example at a recent wedding there was literally nothing on the menu that one family member could eat except for a bread roll. The same thing happened at a Christmas potluck gathering. It's bad enough at weddings, birthdays and other parties but dinner parties are a nightmare. Plane journeys are just as bad though, to be fair, they do cater for vegetarians which is more than many others do. (By the way catering for vegetarians is not saying they can just have the vegetable side dishes like everyone else.) Most infuriating of all though is when having sat watching everyone else eating at a restaurant while we can't eat more than bread or rice we are expected to pay an equal amount of the bill - because we are being 'picky'.

There are many folk out there suffering like this - and make no mistake it is suffering - and there is little or no attempt to understand by the majority of the community. As a family we have reached the point that we now have a meal before we go anywhere that we are expected to eat because we know the likelihood is at least some of us will go hungry.

It's weird isn't it. The ones whose health is endangered are regarded as the problem. Try looking at it this way. Someone with diverticular disease risks serious (even life threatening) consequences if they eat certain popular foods. Someone with a shellfish allergy could die if they have even a tiny amount. Is this being 'picky'. The consequences for people with gluten intolerance, hypoglycaemia and a number of other illnesses and allergies may not be fatal but do you really want people to suffer to make you feel better by eating food you have offered that will harm them?

Another aspect of being unable to share food is that sufferers tend to become socially isolated. In a world where sharing food and eating together is a social glue and not joining in is seen as snobbishness or being picky, at a certain point it becomes easier to just withdraw. Humans are social creatures but very few people want to keep battling community indifference all the time particularly when you are being ground down by disapproval.

Can I make a suggestion? Next time someone irritates you by refusing a food don't immediately pigeon hole them into 'picky'. Chances are they have a very valid reason.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

I'm Probably Being Pedantic

I just heard someone on the television in the next room inform the Australian public that Lake Eyre is a salt pan that fills only once in a generation. What? In my memory there have been a number of times the lake has filled. The most recent before the 2009 event was in 2000. I looked it up to make sure I was right. So either generations are contracting or this was laziness. I know which I think it was.

I may be being pedantic about what was probably a little poetic licence but television is one of the major sources of information for many Australians. If commentators (especially those from media sources that pride themselves on providing accurate information) are unreliable they create a pool of people in the community who are ill informed. In this case it's not all that important. It's a long standing myth that's being perpetuated but will have no lasting effect.

Edit: okay, I've now realised that they were talking about the lake being totally filled and in 2000 it was only partly filled but the point I was making is still valid I think.

But what if it had been something that did matter - something like an allegation that asylum seekers threw their children overboard to force the hand of authorities for example? This is where we need to understand that as far as possible news and documentary sources should be accurate whatever the issues, however big or small.

So does it matter that someone incorrectly stated something that could easily have been checked? Yes, I think it does because the media helps shape public opinion and a misinformed public can be a dangerous thing.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


I won't necessarily be blogging each rejection as it occurs - more likely in monthly batches I think - but this is the first for 2010 for a story sent out just before Christmas. So ninety nine to go.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Time for a Review

I can't say I'm sorry to say goodbye to 2009. There have been some high spots but there were many more lows. Too many deaths of those dear to me and mine have made it very hard to maintain the enthusiasm I would have liked. But that's life, isn't it. There are good times and bad times and in spite of the losses there have been joys.

On the writing front I have had a patchy year. Deciding to concentrate on completing my novel and to move the sequel along meant that I had less time and energy to devote to short stories and poems. I've submitted less than I should have too although I did enter a few competitions and while I didn't win, I'm happy enough with the honorable mentions I received, especially those from Writers of the Future.

My time as an Emerging Writer in Residence at Tom Collins House Writers Centre was an undoubted highlight and I can't thank Tricia Kotai-Ewers and Pat Johnson enough for their help and encouragement while I was there especially as it coincided with a difficult period in my life. During the residency I completely edited my novel and the sequel came close to the half way mark - and has kept on growing.

In October Glenda Larke, Carol Ryles and I had a writing race aiming at each getting 30,000 words on the page in 15 days. None of us actually made it but the encouragement of knowing there were two other people out there working away at the same time was a wonderful encouragement as I balanced my lap top on my knees in bed with the worst back pain I'd had in years. In the end Glenda won with 17320 words, followed by me with 16601 and flu-ridden Carol just behind with 16000. In the circumstances not a bad result.

The formation of the Egoboo WA group in the second half of the year with my friends and fellow writers, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sarah Parker and Carol Ryles, was another huge incentive to get words on the page.

Once the idea of Egoboo WA was mooted we contacted ROR, a similar group, and they were of great help. Following their advice we each committed to having a completed novel ready for critiquing by October 22. It ended up as a total of around 610,000 words between us! That was an immense amount of reading in itself but then we had to write a detailed critique on each of the other four novels. Bear in mind we are speculative fiction writers so these novels were huge. By the time I had finished I had well over 12000 more words just in my critiques - and that's not counting the comments on the manuscript itself.

We Egobooers took ourselves off to Eagle Bay on the south coast for a critiquing retreat at the end of November where, in beautiful surroundings, we worked our little butts off. With two crit sessions of around two and a half hours each a day and using the Milford method, each of us was subjected to a detailed critique by each of the others. It's not easy to sit and hear how flawed your darling is but we did it - and we all agree that we learned an enormous amount. We came home armed with pages of notes and comments to work through. We also decided to set up a blog where you can read writerly things and follow the group's progress.

I've done a couple of reviews for The Specusphere - not as many as I should have, I'm afraid, which is a bit odd really because I actually enjoy writing them. I made a brief appearance on the Voyager Online blog and guest blogged on The Battersblog

At the same time as all this was going on, the KSP Speculative Fiction group has been expanding. We are welcoming new members at each meeting and on our email list. We're running another KSP Mini Con in 2010. Keep May 2 free, folks, if you are interested in a day where you can meet local writers at historic Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre. It's going to be good.

So my goals for 2010:

Finish the edit of my novel using the Egobooers' critiques and send it out. I'm glad I waited but now it's nearly time to fly. Just a little more flapping on the edge of the nest to strengthen its wings first.

Finish writing the sequel.

Follow my Clarion South mate, Chris Green, in aiming at 100 rejections in the year. His philosophy is that you have to be sending out to get rejected. He's right and that's what a writer should be doing do.

Get myself set up with an internet domain name and website.

Keep contributing to the Egoboo WA blog.

Attend Aussiecon 4 in September.

And above all else keep writing.