A starry backdrop behind dark mountains

Save Our Con: on Continuum Speculative Fiction Convention and its uncertain future

I’m aware my recent posts have displayed a certain, um… patchiness. Part of that has been down to the simple fact that the last few weeks have been a frenzy of looking for, applying for, and then abruptly moving everything we own into, a new home. Ah, rental life.

The other big part of my recent distraction has been the ramping up of preparations for Continuum Speculative Fiction Convention in June.

If you don’t know what Continuum is, read on. But if you’re already familiar with Melbourne’s own spec fic convention, I have an even more important message for you.

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Group photo on stage of all participants in the 2017 Hugo Awards

Making sense of spec fic awards: the Hugo & Locus Awards

Following on from last week, this is part 2/2 of my explainer on the major speculative fiction awards that are relevant to Australian SF authors like yours truly.

This week, I get into the two major international awards, the Hugo and the Locus – what they are and how to get involved in nominations/voting.

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2019 awards eligibility

It turns out that while I was researching and writing up my big awards explainer post last week, Mother of Invention editor (and excellent writer in her own right) Rivqa Rafael was writing her own post listing all the awards MoI is currently eligible for. This led me to the double realisation that a) burying my own eligibility in the middle of my big explainer post was probably counter-productive and b) there’s a whole ‘nother award I didn’t even know about that I should have included.

I still have a lot to learn about this “writer” gig…

So! To I’m going to do a write-up shortly of the Locus Award, and make a second post this week covering that and the Hugos (expanded and split out from last week’s post to prevent it getting just too unwieldy). And in the meantime, separated out from the original post and now with added Locus, here is my list of eligible works for the 2019 awards:

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‘Two Monsters Down in the Dark’ now out in Luna Station Quarterly issue 37

I am thrilled to bits to announce the release of Luna Station Quarterly issue 37, with my story ‘Two Monsters Down in the Dark’ in pole position as the very first fiction of the issue!

‘Two Monsters’ started out as a technical challenge, but turned into a passion project. I fell in love with the character of Ellie, even as I struggled over many months to get her voice and her story right. It makes me so deeply happy to finally see her and Benji find a home.

You can read ‘Two Monsters’ for free online for the next week only (as well as eleven other SF stories from women and other authors on the femalish end of the spectrum; I’ve already fallen in love with K. Noel Moore’s ‘A Song for Hardy Connelly’ and can’t wait to read the rest). After that you’ll have to pay for a digital or print edition if you want to read it, so don’t dally!

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Trophies for the 2015 Aurealis awards

Making sense of spec fic awards: the Ditmar & Aurealis Awards

Between the Aurealis, the Ditmars, the Locus, and the Hugos, award season is well and truly here in the world of speculative fiction.

So why should you care?

If you’re a writer or other creator, you’ve probably already answered that question. We are, for the most part, an insecure breed, forever convinced that our work just isn’t that good.

Creators also spend a lot of time isolated from their audience, holed up at their computer or easel without easy access to the reactions of the wider world. For my part, all it takes to set fireworks off in my head is a reader getting in touch to tell me they liked my story. To be shortlisted for an actual award, let alone to win one? Validation and joy unimaginable!!

If you’re a reader (or viewer) of spec fic and related works, why should you care? Well, first because paying attention to awards gives you a chance to find great works of SF that you might otherwise miss. If something has made it to one of the finalists’ list in a category you enjoy, chances are it’s worth checking out.

Second, because nominating/voting in awards gives you a chance to share your own opinion on what’s worth checking out, and reward the works you’ve really enjoyed.

And third, because you could help spark that feeling of happy, disbelieving wonder in an author, artist or creator whose work you love.

This year, just saying, that creator could even be me…

Ahem. Anyway.

Since I’ve always found the different awards systems a bit confusing, and I can’t be the only one, I’ve written a concise and (hopefully) straightforward guide to the defining features of the two major Australian spec fic awards, the Ditmar and the Aurealis, as well (in a later post) as the two major international awards, the Locus and the Hugo – and how to take part in nominating/voting for them.

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A rulling landscape of scrub, with mountains in the distance and a stream flowing over rapids in the foreground

Clearing out the mental clutter (without going on a four-day hike)

I recently returned from a four-day hiking trip. Hiking is an activity I don’t undertake often – it usually takes a year or so for the memory of the aches and pains, poor sleep, and lack of refrigerated food to wear off to the point where I start yearning for the positive aspects of a long hike.

Besides the beautiful scenery, one of the elements that keeps bringing me back is the amazing sense of mental clarity hiking produces in me.

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A mess of straw

The horror of small habits: handling habit overload

Some years ago, I went to see a physio about recurring headaches brought on by neck tension. When he was done poking and prodding me, he taught me a set of neck stretches. “Do these for five minutes every day,” he told me, “and you shouldn’t have to come back here.”

Years later, I still do those stretches religiously as part of my morning routine and my neck is much happier. In theory, it would be brilliant if all my problems could be solved this way: take up some small, daily habit and never have to worry about mess, stress, health or happiness ever again.

And yet.

Recently I went back to the physio with lower back problems. But this time, when he finished up with, “Let’s look at some simple preventative exercises…”, my heart sank. The very thought made me want to execute a hard reverse out the door.

So what’s changed? Simple: I’ve hit habit overload.

Continue reading “The horror of small habits: handling habit overload”

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Five snails lined up in a row

This week I learned: the snail telegraph

One of my favourite podcasts is The Futility Closet, source of weird and wonderful historical minutiae. An episode I caught recently put me on the trail of a truly fantastic, if short-lived chapter in the development of long-distance communications: the 19th Century pasilalinic-sympathetic compass, otherwise known as the snail telegraph.

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‘Two Monsters Down in the Dark’ to be published in Luna Station Quarterly!

Super chuffed to announce my next bit of publication news: my story ‘Two Monsters Down in the Dark’ is being published in the March edition of Luna Station Quarterly!
 
This is a story that has been through an awful lot of editing and redrafting since my first attempt at it. In the process, I have learned a lot about story structure, and the story itself has changed a great deal as I came to understand its themes and characters better. It’s probably still far from perfect, but I’m so glad Ellie and Benji are finally getting their moment in the sun.
 
The edition containing ‘Two Monsters’ will be online for free for a week from 1st March, after which you can read it and other stories by emerging authors “on the woman end of the gender spectrum” by buying the March 2019 issue of Luna Station Quarterly.
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Empty furniture and full moving boxes

No blog post this week, I’m afraid. Yesterday and today saw us moving our entire lives and ourselves out of our home of 8 years, the culmination of a hectic month of packing; I fully intended to keep blogging throughout, but my backlog has run dry.

Thankfully that ordeal is over now – I’ll be back with something more interesting (probably involving snails) next week.

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