Archive for April, 2011

One more for luck

April 29, 2011

I think I’ve got the way to do it – at last! Once more for luck. Here’s a photo of Aileen and me, taken a year or more ago, but sent to me today by Mariann in Adelaide.

Steampunk guitar

April 29, 2011

I’ve been collecting images of steampunk guitars – this is my favourite.

Still Trying

April 29, 2011

Can I work out how to insert a picture thru my iPad? I’m still trying …


April 26, 2011

I’m back in Figtree, and I’ve brought a present back with me – a lousy rotten cold. On the plane back, I started sneezing and couldn’t stop. I thought it was an irritation from the nasal spray I use to clear my sinuses (always liable to have pressure problems with the ears) – but no, it’s turned out to be a full on cold. Rats!

The last day of Swancon was a quiet wind-down, as usual, but there was one totally unexpected bonus. Dennis, an old friend I haven’t seen much since Sydney Uni days – well, since he and his wife moved to Perth – had found out I was in town and invited me round for dinner. He picked me up from my hotel, drove me to their place, then took me in to the airport after. It was great to catch up.

My flight took off at midnight, the red eye special. We got in to Sydney just as the sun was rising. Apart from sneezing and closing my eyes without ever sleeping, nothing interesting happened.

Of Masquerades and Awards

April 25, 2011

March 25th

Last day of the con already! can’t believe how fast it’s gone. The days blur into one another, talking, drinking, sitting around. The highlight on Saturday was the Masquerade Ball and dance. I made an effort to dress up, in my Merlin gown and my Viking leather helmet. Well, they were two things I hadn’t worn for a while – up to anyone else to decide what I was meant to be overall!

Of course, I was nowhere compared to other people’s costumes … Which I knew from previous Swancons. They do dressing up in Perth better than anywhere. idiot that I am, I forgot to take my camera, but I’m hoping to get photos from other people to oats into this blog. There was a faun, a Japanese lady-doll, a ferret … No, it’s no use describing, I’ll just have to pray for some photos to put up.

After the costume judging came the dance. High point of the con for me. With Sean Williams and Dave Cake DJing, the music was great and the dancing non-stop. As usual, my clothes were wringing wet by the end. I guess Merlin gowns weren’t designed for dancing.

Yesterday I had a reading to do, but no one told me it was on, and a kaffeeklatsch that I had to cancel because it clashed with one of my panels. That was a panel on steampunk, which was the best so far, and definitely the best attended – not an empty seat. The fairytale panel straight after was almost as well attended.

The end of the afternoon was filled up with the Ticonderoga launch cum anniversary celebration – nice to see the appreciation for what Russell’s been doing over the years.One of the few constants in Australian small press publishing.

The awards ceremony lasted most of the evening, first the free drinks, then the Tin Duck awards, then the Ditmars. Grant Stone was a wonderful MC … It would’ve got a. It tedious but for him. Over two hours of repeated applause – it tires the hands out!

Not so much on today, but my plane doesn’t fly out till midnight, so I’ll be around until the very end. Might even get to go to my first ever dead dog party!

March 23rd

I wonder why my iPad is warm? It hasn’t been in the sun or anything …

Yesterday was the first serious full day of the Con. Many more people around. The bar area, where people congregate, is the central atrium, so it’s not only people from the Con. I did some more catching up – I’m not rushing around, because I’ll have caught up with everyone by the end of the weekend.

Apart from that, I mainly went to talks in the academic stream. It was mostly postgraduate students presenting on their PhDs. I guess I was the exception, when I did my half hour talk at 5.00, on how cultural changes jump around and can’t be predicted like technological advances.

I did a talk on that at the very first con I ever went to, twelve years ago, but it was right before the closing ceremony, so I opened it up into a general discussion – and a great discussion it was too. But this time, just a talk, and a very small audience. The attendance at the academic stream fell away through the afternoon.

I had dinner with the Brisbane gang, or ex-Brisbane gang, at an Indian restaurant across the road from the Con hotel. Very handy. And best of all, it was open! There was a time when the whole of Perth shut down for Good Friday, but now some places stay open.

I’m still struggling to put photos into this WordPress blog from my iPad. If this one works, it’s the view from my hotel window!

Swancon at Perth

April 22, 2011

21st April

Yesterday was a comedy of errors. First, my plane to Perth was delayed, then when we arrived at Perth, all the cabin lights went out – electrical fault – so although we were able to disembark, the baggage took half an hour to come through. And just to cap it off, there was a monster queue at the pay parking machine – one of the machines had gone in the blink.

Anyway, I met up with Van – felt a it guilty keeping him waiting so long –  and he drove us to his place north of Perth. I just about collapsed into bed. But I got to chat and catch up in the morning, when we went in to Uni of WA and had a leisurely breakfast.

I took a taxi to my hotel, there was a room ready for me already – and since then I’ve had a total slob day. The most I did was go shopping – I’ve got my backup food for cons down to a fine art (it’s the same as my on-the-road food when traveling around schools, when I don’t go for takeaway). Namely, bread, tomato, prosciutto, Castello white cheese, and a bottle of red. That’s my basic life support package.

Now I’m off in to the Con, just down the road. better make a move before registration closes.

22nd April, Good Friday

The Hyatt Hotel, where the Con’s being held, is vast and spectacular – a central atrium going up a dozen floors to the glass roof, and four wings fanning out with gallery upon gallery upon gallery. The Con seems almost lost inside it – just one small area of function rooms.

It was great to catch up with people … All the regulars, and many new faces too. I spent a lot of time talking to Simon Brown, who’s over from Phuket just for the con. And still there are so many people I want to talk too – but I will, I will!

So we had the opening ceremony in just a portion of the Main Ballroom, then, after more chatting and drinking (why is it that the hotels that charge the highest prices for rooms also have to rip you off with ridiculous prices for drinks) my first panel on Writing Adventure. Tansy (Rayner Roberts) was on it too, along with Bevan whom I hadn’t met before, while Simon acted as moderator. All great fun, with a small audience,  but bursting with questions.

I put forward my four basic action/excitement situations: the fight, the chase, the edge (I.e on the edge of a waterfall, on a rope bridge that’s about to fall, any situation like that) and the hurtle (the water-slide experience, swooshing down or along at tremendous uncontrollable speed).

That was the end of the night for me – my body clock is still living East Coast time, so 10.30 feels like half past midnight.

Swanning off to Swancon

April 20, 2011

I fly off to Perth this afternoon – staying at Van Ikin’s overnight, then in to the hotel for the start of Swancon – which is also the Australian Natcon – on Thursday. I’m looking forward to the con – there’s always such a great community feel at Perth. I’m on a few panels, I have some of my author’s copies of Liberator to give away, and I have my costume all ready for the masquerade ball.

I meant to take a photo of my costume – sort of half Merlin and half Viking warrior, I’ll work out what it is later – but I’ve already packed it in my suitcase now, and I had such a struggle to get the case closed, there’s no way I’m going to open it up again. It’s a hardshell case, and it doesn’t zipper up well even though it’s not as full as could be.

I’ll put in a photo from Adelaide instead, just sent to me from Mariann. This was the evening gathering with drinks, where I was put ‘on stage’ for a while and did a couple of readings. It was a great night.

I’ll try to keep blogging the con from my hotel in Perth.

So Close now!

April 17, 2011

It’s almost LIBERATOR time! Just a couple of weeks away! Copies are going out to the bookshops now, and it’ll be on the shelves from the start of May. Whooeee! Maybe I posted up an image of the cover before but, anyway, here it is again (by Anthony Lucas, the film director who did the Worldshaker cover too – I reckon this one is even more wonderful!)

I’m off to the SF Natcon in Perth in a couple of days time – aka Swancon. Should be fun – Perth has a great Spec Fic community, there’s always a special feel to events there. I’d planned to do a couple of weeks of school visits  first, but we had a medical scare–well, Aileen had a medical scare–which turned out to be a false alarm (thanks be!), so I cancelled out. I was hoping to launch Liberator at Swancon too, but I misunderstood the publication date: only distribution to bookshops in April, the actual release date is May. Since I couldn’t be sure that copies would be available, I had to abandon the launch, though as it’s turned out I now have my own author’s copies already. So at least I’ll do a few free giveaways.

The launch proper will now be at Continuum in June.

Meanwhile, the French edition of Liberator is coming out neck-and-neck with the Australian edition. Hope we get some nice French reviews–they were all praising the language and style of Worldshaker. Even the top Parisian newspaper, Le Figaro, made a point of praising the style. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my French translator who does such a brilliant job!

The cover looks like this. 

Kind of cute? The French style of cover is very different …

After Adelaide

April 8, 2011

8th April

After the Adelaide trip, I had a million small jobs to do. One job was signing copies, packing them up and sending them to Adelaide schools and other schools on the way. Several dozen copies in many packages … I’ve realised that it works out kind of expensive with postage and GST. Since I get school cheques for after-the-event sales, I can’t not declare sales on tax! The really big packages are better because postage works out at less than $1 a copy–but even then, I’m not quite breaking even. Still, it’s very satisfying to have stirred up so much interest, and that’s what it’s all about.

I took on another job I’ve since regretted – acting as one of the judges for the NSW Writers Fellowship. The number of applications this year is far larger than last time I did it, and the amount of paperwork seems to have increased too. I believe in volunteering and helping out with good causes, but I’ll have to start cutting back.

I visited two schools yesterday and the day before. The day before was John Therry Catholic High, near Campbelltown, where our organisation (Aileen’s and mine and the schools) had got completely muddled. I thought I was doing two periods, but it turned out to be one long double period. With 180 Year 10s, a day or so off the end of term – not good! And yet the students were good – really attentive and interested for over an hour. But no talk should last for 2 x 50 minutes – I know I couldn’t keep listening to someone for that length of time. (Actually, I’m the worst in the world: even the best of speakers couldn’t hold my attention for an hour – probably not even half an hour.)

I wish I had a photo to put up, but of course it had to happen eventually – I forgot to ask someone to take photos. So instead I’ll have to put up a photo from yesterday’s school.

Ulladulla High School

Here’s Ulladulla High School – and yay! I’ve just discovered how to put a caption underneath a photo. Like, fill in the box on the upload page that says “Caption”. Took me a while to work that one out, but it finally sank in!

Ulladulla is a beautiful town on the South Coast, about 150 km south of Wollongong. After all the recent rain, the car trip down was a symphony of green – green fields, green hills, picture-perfect.

The school was great, two talks to about 50-60 students each time – selected students from Year 9 and Year 10. Someone said afterwards, ‘That was the best period ever’, so I reckon they liked it. And v well organised – especially considering that the school had exams on at the same time.

An unusual number of students had brought money for a copy of Worldshaker on the day, so that was an unexpected bonus. Luckily I’d brought a boxful in the car.

Memo to self: I must think in advance about messages to write when I sign personal copies. When I’m signing one book after another, I recycle about 6 different messages – with small variations – that I’ve used before. It’s so hard thinking up something totally new in the moment!

Last days

April 3, 2011

31st March
The start of today was murder. I left myself 180 km to drive from Hay to Narrandera early in the morning, and the sun came up as I set off. Wide flat country and the highway leading directly into the sun. The dazzle on the windscreen was impossible, and there was grease on the glass I couldn’t get off. I drove like driving in a fog, peering out through the side window, focussing on the line at the side of the road. I couldn’t drive real slow or I’d never have arrived in time. Luckily, there was v little traffic, and although the straightness of the road meant I never escaped from the sun, at least I didn’t have to worry about steering round bends.

So I got there in the end–High School. It was my hardest working day, with 4 periods of fifty minutes. I know my voice will last out for one more day tomorrow, but it’s definitely raspy after today.

Kids were fine; some had read the first few chapters of Worldshaker, so that made for one specially interesting interactive talk. In the afternoon, I did a workshop rather than a talk, which ended up harder rather than easier for me. Later in the day probably isn’t the best time to give students actual work to do!

(Pity my photos often look the same: I have many great pics of awarding students the giveaway prize book, or talking to students after the talks, or specially keen students who came to chat over morning tea or lunch. But you can’t show students’ individual faces unless you clear it with their parents, which is just too much hassle for everyone. If I put up photos that showed faces, that could create difficulties for schoo librarians/coordinators – so I don’t.)

Afterwards I did email on a library computer — scary, how much email piles up in 10 days away. Then on to my motel, buying Italian bread and cheese and tomatoes and prosciutto on the way. I sat by the swimming pool and dined Italian style with the rest of yesterday’s bottle of red.

Leeton High School tomorrow, then the long drive back home.

1st April

April Fools Day!

Leeton High School was one big talk followed by two smaller workshops. The talk was in a huge echoing gymnasium type of space – I thought I’d need a mike but I didn’t. The projector and computer wouldn’t talk to each other, so I couldn’t use the slideshow – but no big deal, I never rely on it anyway.

The workshops were fun, the best ones yet. Probably the small numbers helped, and the fact that they weren’t on at the end of the afternoon – also, they were Years 8 and 9, rather than older. The exercises I do depend on imagination and empathy, on stepping into the shoes of other people, other characters, and younger participants are often better for that. Or if not better, at least less inhibited.

The drive back to Wollongong seemed to last forever … the watched pot-principle? Time always seems to drag more slowly when you’re hanging out to reach the end. I couldn’t believe how long it took to cover the last 100 km to the Wollongong turn-off.

So I’m typing this up after dinner and unpacking, but I won’t publish it until I can add in the photos. It was a great trip, I feel it was very successful, but right now I’m just looking forward to a bit of veging out! Zzzzz!