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This week’s sale over at Weightless Books is Trucksong by Andrew Macrae.
Grab the ebook today only for just $1.99 – bargain!
Available here


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This post is adapted from a series of tweets I wrote today whilst sorting through my submissions email back log.

Cover letters for fiction submissions are not hard. They really aren’t. Editors, or whomever is sorting through the submissions mail, just want to get all the information about your submission as quickly as possible to discern whether or not it conforms to the guidelines and, if it does conform, how it fits into the stack. If it doesn’t, yay they can send out an instant rejection. Submissions calls get lots of responses. And these days, fast turnarounds are expected. (Note: I am wayyyy behind on my responses right now. Life. It gets in the way.) A well written cover letter will give your submission a professional feel and make the editor’s job of sorting through the mail easy. And it’s really really not that hard to write.

1. Unless you know that the system is automated, *always* include a cover letter. It’s a real person opening the email, don’t be rude. And by “cover letter”, I mean write in the body of the email. Even if for some reason the submission call asks you to attach a cover letter along with your submission, *write* in the email. You can even simply write “Dear X, Please find attached … yours Your Name.”

2. Address the cover letter to the person you think will be reading the email i.e. the editor. Name them if you know their name. Otherwise, address it to “The editor(s)”. Noone gets annoyed being correctly referred to as the editor of their book.
“Dear Sir/Madam” and “To Whom it May Concern” are also perfectly fine.

3. Never ever ever assume that the press, the editor or the reader owes you something. They don’t.

4. Usually all the information that you need to include in your letter will be specifically listed or at least implied in the submissions call. Make sure you include your name and how the editor can get in contact with you even though you’ve emailed therefore they have your address, your submission and email might get separated. For good measure, include your contact details at the top of your manuscript document.

5. Give a couple of examples of your previous work to show that you have some writing and publishing experience, even if it’s a competition you placed in or a local market that you don’t think anyone will have heard of. If this is your first submission, or you are yet to be published, that’s okay too. It’s even fine to say so. Everyone starts somewhere.

6. Give the details of the work you are submitting – the title, the word count, the genre and a short paragraph synopsis.

7. Attach your manuscript to the email. It’s helpful to title your document in a way that easily identifies it. The reader/editor might read their submissions from their inbox or they might collate all the submissions elsewhere to be read. Make sure your details are attached to the document by naming it the story title and/or your name. And always always always save the document in the format requested in the guidelines. If there is no guideline, I would opt for .rtf in the first instance and then Word otherwise. Don’t save it as a PDF unless requested. If your work is accepted, the editor will want to be able to work directly with the file.

8. Get outta there.

You’re done.

Now I hear you quietly sobbing about the one paragraph synopsis but it’s okay. I bet you know what your story is about, right? So … it’s an orphan who goes on a dirt bike road trip and discovered he has  magical power and becomes a king. A lot like [this book by this well known author in your genre]. Or, it’s a work that explores what it’s like to be a woman on a desert island with trees that only bear desserts. You get the idea. No one expects you to include all the nuances of your story in that paragraph. We just want to know where to file it-  SF, zombies, epic fantasy etc.

And that’s it! Easy.

 

 





November 12   Galactic Suburbia Ep 110

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In which culture, we consume it. Over at iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Landline by Rainbow Rowell; Coode St Podcast Ep 207: Kameron Hurley; The Wheeler Centre: Books, Writing, Ideas Podcast – Quarterly Essay: On Women Freedom and Misogyny : Anna Goldsworthy; … AND PHd Check in!
Tansy: Rachel & Miles X-plain the X-Men, Battle Scars, Uncanny, Cranky Ladies, Nanowrimo
Alex: Haven seasons 1 and 2; Upgraded, ed Neil Clarke (NB available from Fishpond, for Austraian listeners!); Journeys, Jan Morris; The Book of Life, Deborah Harkness

Orphan Black cat cosplay
Anthony Mackie shouts out to little Falcons & Falconettes.
Sean Pertwee cosplays his Dad for Halloween.

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/galacticsuburbia) and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

 



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Sadly I can’t make it, but if you’re in Hobart tomorrow:

DrownedVanillaWHERE: Hobart Bookshop, Salamanca Place, Hobart Tasmania.
WHEN: 5:30-7pm, Thursday 20 November

Kate Gordon, author of Thyla and Writing Clementine, will be launching Drowned Vanilla by Livia Day at the Hobart Bookshop. Please come and join us! There will be wine, and books, and THIS BOOK IN PARTICULAR WHICH FEATURES MURDER AND ICE CREAM.

We’d love to see you there. No RSVP required, just bring yourselves

For more info, check out Tansy’s/Livia’s blog.



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We’re delighted to announce today, the table of contents for the first volume of our new series, The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction – to be edited by Julia Rios and myself.

Fans of Kaleidoscope will find more tales of wonder, adventure, diversity, and variety in this collection devoted to stories with teen protagonists. This volume will be released later this year (not that many days left in this year!) and preorders will open as soon as we set the RRP.

Table of Contents

Selkie Stories Are For Losers  –  Sofia Samatar
By Bone-Light  –  Juliet Marillier
The Myriad Dangers  –  Lavie Tidhar
Carpet  –  Nnedi Okorafor
I Gave You My Love by the Light of the Moon  –  Sarah Rees Brennan
57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides  –  Sam J. Miller
The Minotaur Girls  –  Tansy Rayner Roberts
Not With You, But With You  –  Miri Kim
Ghost Town  –  Malinda Lo
December  –  Neil Gaiman
An Echo in the Shell  –  Beth Cato
Dan’s Dreams  –  Eliza Victoria
As Large As Alone  –  Alena McNamara
Random Play All and the League of Awesome  –  Shane Halbach
Mah Song  –  Joanne Anderton
What We Ourselves Are Not  –  Leah Cypess
The City of Chrysanthemum  –  Ken Liu
Megumi’s Quest  –  Joyce Chng
Persimmon, Teeth, and Boys  –  Steve Berman
Flight  –  Angela Slatter
We Have Always Lived on Mars  –  Cecil Castellucci

 

 



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22 October 2014

Show Notes

 http://galactisuburbia.podbean.com/e/episode-109-22-october-2014/

In which we solemnly swear we will repeat the title of our culture consumed after discussing it. Pinkie promise. 

Update on Gamergate with particular focus on Brianna Wu AKA @spacekatgal

(This episode was recorded before the Felicia Day incident)

Alisa’s con report – Conflux
Tansy’s con report – CrimesceneWAStrange Horizons fundraising
 We read and appreciate all your Twitter comments and emails, even if we don’t reply. We love your feedback!
It’s time to start thinking about the GS Award, yes already, WTF 2014 why are you moving so fast?
What Culture Have we Consumed?
 
Alisa: Landline, Rainbow Rowell (NB since recording, Alisa actually finished this book YES SHE DID); Night Terrace S1 1- 5
Alex: Sarkeesian’s XOXO talk; Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen); Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond; Indistinguishable from Magic, Catherynne Valente; Bitterwood Bible and other Recountings, Angela Slatter; The Dish.
Tansy: Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan; Night Terrace S1, Agents of SHIELD S1, The Flash S1 Ep 1-2
Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/galacticsuburbia) and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


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Maybe I’m just incapable of finishing things?

 

In knitting, it’s called Startititis – the urge/disease/need to start new projects, usually before finishing ones in progress and usually more than one or three or five at a go. It’s no breaking news story to say I love starting new projects. I love the thrill of thinking of something new – the “can we?”, “would it be possible to…”, “what if?” I love pitching ideas to people, bringing them on board. I love the possibility and potential that new projects bring. I love the idea that I could be the person on the other side of starting a new habit or routine, the person who just is or does [whatever]. But I’m not so good at follow through. I’m not so awesome at taking things through to the finishing line. My most classic example might be my first postgrad attempt where I built the mathematical model, I played with it for 2 or 3 years, even published a paper in a pretty good academic journal, then I saw the problem I was solving through to the end *in my head* and I was good. I knew how the story ended. And I lost interest. Anyone will tell you the thing about a PhD, the thing the actual piece of paper says, is that you can complete something.

In my life, I’m surrounded by half started projects. Let’s see. I’m sitting at my coffee table. Let me tell you what I can see by looking around and without getting up or moving in any way –> to my left there is a started quilting project (the top was finished more than two years ago but never made it’s way to being quilted) and a block of my Solstice quilt with half a border. Panning right is a bookcase that is only partially sorted and some wedding gifts yet to be homed. In front of me are about 6 TV series I’ve started but not continued (yet). And on the table are pieces 4 different craft (quilting and knitting) projects, the rest of the TPP financial bank statements etc from 2014 that are yet to be formally processed (balanced against records, entered into financial software packages and spreadsheets and royalties statements), a book I finished reading and want to write a Goodreads review for and a whole pile of To Do Lists in various states of untidiness. On the printer is a shopping list for a cake I want to bake for Mothers’ Group on Weds. And to my right are receipts that were partially sorted a few days ago.

And I’m not even sitting at my study desk.

But I’m always striving to hope towards being better. You know how it is. As I mentioned previously, a couple of weeks ago we signed up for a program to help us organise our house in a structured way. We aren’t moving at the pace of the program but we’ve made enough progress that I’m starting to get inspired and hopeful we might be turning a corner. The other Alisa lives in a Vogue magazine spread. In whites and eggshell blues. I can see though that when you start to *feel* like you’re gaining control, that helps you gain momentum. It’s quite interesting how important it is how you feel rather than how it is for this stuff. In the GTD school of thought, just sitting down and corralling your to dos makes you feel accomplished. You don’t even have to do any of the items, you just feel back in control simply by emptying your head and itemising them in some way.

So with this thinking in mind, I decided last week to try that piece of advice (was it Mark Twain?) – eat the frog first. Find the thing you least want to do, that you are most avoiding or will be the hardest, and do that first in the morning. Normally, and in Michelle Bridge’s 12WBT, that’s supposed to be exercise. Get it out of the way up front etc. And look, I’m not that person so I’m not even going to pretend to myself that that’s what it will be. But last week, every day, I tried to start the morning, especially over my first cup of coffee, to do something I had been seriously avoiding. And wow! That was an interesting exercise. Not every task when completed made me feel awesome. Some things you avoid because you know you have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. But getting it over and done with was good. And it wasn’t quite as confronting an exercise as I thought it would be. I actually got a lot of things done. And progressed things that had long been shelved. And it did open up a bit of a floodway in that last week was the first week in a very long time that I actually had really long moments (hours) of feeling “in the flow”. I’d forgotten how great that felt! So productive! And exciting!

It had the additional result of having me think about *why* I was avoiding particular things. One of the things I’ve noticed about how my email inbox can build up is that I don’t like making decisions. Not that I’m indecisive or incapable of making decisions but the act of sitting down and actually thinking something through to a decision feels like hard work. “Oh that requires *thinking*. No time for that now!” But actually the thought process ends up taking less than 5 minutes when you finally sit down and do it. Sure, it might mean you have to admit there are 5 or 25 actions that are required but … you know, otherwise, you don’t really want to do whatever it is you are looking at. And usually, once you itemise the actions required, you find yourself doing them without even noticing. Like, “Oh well I need to email … may as well just do that now …” etc. Or the admitting you have to tell someone no or that you can’t do something. That for me is usually the hard bit. Once I’ve done that, I can actually write the email or make the call. It’s the admission that is hard.

So I’ve found that for me a lot of the procrastination is in the required thinking through of something and making a decision on how to act. Once I’ve done that … whee … I’m in flow.

Building onto that is what I’ve been focussing on over the last few days. Is it true that I just can’t finish things and if so, why? I’ve noticed that I can’t finish a novel, for example. That I haven’t finished a book in over two years. Even books I’m enjoying. And a friend of mine mentioned to me one day last week that a mutual friend of ours is now reading 3 books a week just by not doing anything else. And I thought, wow, when did I last finish a book and is it because I “distract” myself with things like TV and craft etc? Have I given myself a short attention span by not staying long attention fit? And … is this the issue I’m having with my reading for my PhD? And … what about all these other things I start but don’t finish? What do I lack? Is it attention? Is it staying power? Commitment? Who am I? And where is my mummy?

The only thing to do was to challenge myself to finish a novel. To just keep bringing myself back to that task. And I did it! (See finished book above!) I finished a book. Wow. 1 frigging book. I proved to myself that I can in fact do it. Good. Though this isn’t enough. But I think shows that I’ve shortened my attention span in the way I interact with things in my world. Yes yes I mean Facebook and Twitter. And only half reading pretty much any article I click on. So I’ve challenged myself to finish a whole bunch of started projects in my house. For the rest of the year. And then I’m going to post a list as my end of year summary – what did I actually finish this year.

And as with all things, it’s not so hard. It does involve thinking through why I’m not finishing something and figuring out what the next action is and sometimes holding my hand though the decision. Here’s the quilt top that was finished over two years ago but not ever actually progressed further. It turns out, I just needed to admit that backing material I’d bought was in fact backing material and the world would go on if I cut it up. And then I just needed to measure and cut. And layer batting in between. And then pin it all up. And get out the quilting hoop. And then … begin quilting.

photo 2

Time taken to get to this point? Over two years.

Time taken to do all the above? Less than 15 minutes.

The trick it seems is to ask yourself “What is next?” and when you brain says “I can’t do X because I still need to do Y”, to then ask yourself, “Well, what do I have to do to get Y?” It’s usually not as hard as your brain likes to pretend.

Here are last week’s finished Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt blocks. The bow tie ended up too small and I’ve fixed this by just creating a new (third) border size to frame it (and several others that are also undersized) to bring it up to the same size. It’s not perfect but it will do.

photo 1 . photo 3 . photo 4



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On Friday we released the brand new cover of the third story in the Cafe La Femme series being publishing by our crime imprint Deadlines and I realised I was remiss by not posting it here.

 

BlackmailBlend The Blackmail Blend by Livia Day (Tansy Rayner Roberts) is a mini mystery set between the first two novels in the series – A Trifle Dead and the newly released Drowned Vanilla. It will be released in ebook formats only and there will be more information soon on how to order it.

Meanwhile, here is the beautiful cover design by Amanda Rainey and a bit of a blurb of the book:

Six romance writers

Five secrets
Four poison pen letters
Three stolen manuscripts
Two undercover journalists
One over-complicated love life

Way too many teacups and tiny sandwiches

This shouldn’t be a recipe for mayhem and murder, but Tabitha Darling has been burned once before and she knows the signs that she’s about to fall into another crime scene. At least she doesn’t have to worry about love triangles any more. Right? RIGHT?


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The tl;dr to the title question is: you don’t.

You notice how they never ask men if they can have it all? You know why, don’t you. It’s because noone can have it all, it’s an impossible question AND actually, noone really wants it all. But we ask women that question all the time to passively aggressively imply that they don’t get to give up the expectations of stuff in one part of their lives in order to do the stuff they also want to do in another part of their lives (or heaven forbid, instead of). Women have to juggle. Men get to delegate.

The expectations. The expectations are there no matter how hard you fight the patriarchy – there from me, there from others. I still stress out when people come over and my house isn’t tidy and organised. *I* know that I’m pulling more than 2 full time jobs at the moment. And I know that other people know that too. But still you can kinda see them think, when I say I haven’t done something or got to something yet, “but it’s just” or “you just have to” or “it’ll only take X amount of time”. And I think but mostly don’t say “When exactly do you think I have time for that?” We all prioritise and triage. I just wish we didn’t also have to feel guilty about doing that. Yes, this is me working on killing the dream of the SuperWoman. She doesn’t exist. Just like cake, she is a lie.

And in other myths. I’m finally having to admit that I can’t still work at the pace I was pre-baby. Horrible realisation. Comes with the “it’s actually impossible to have it all” myth. I hit my wall just over a week ago, one convention shy of my 2014 commitments. Burn out. The worst. I got pharyngitis which is both painful and totally yuk. I’ve ended up on 1 week holiday, self enforced. And am looking at a second week off just to make sure it sticks.

I’ve been doing the traditional rewatch of The Gilmore Girls as antidote for burnout (aka my Business Model – TM Tansy). And working on some sewing. I’ve nearly finished sewing on the borders for the blocks for the Solstice Quilt and then piecing them together. I just had three star blocks left. Tonight I finished Block 11:

photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m working on the Farmer’s Wife project. I was supposed to be posting 2 blocks a week here (you might remember that one). And then I fell off the wagon. I ended up precutting a whole bunch to take with me to Canberra and have been posting the finished ones over on a Pinterest board here. I discovered that the reason I’d been letting this project lie fallow is that I hated some of the decisions I’d made. I felt locked in to the first couple of blocks because I’d started quilting them, and the backing I cut was too short. And I also didn’t actually like the border I’d chosen and some of those blocks. I decided to bite the bullet and change the borders – some are now the strips and some are triangles with the block on an angle. Eg:

Paris Table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is the before (or first go) and after (and second) on the first block, which I really hated.

 

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Farmers Wife block 54: Kitchen Woodbox

 

Today I started working on this new project too. Ages ago I bought a fat quarter bundle called Nightshade – really fun cameos that I thought I could cut into panels and then do something with. The problem was that I really liked the purple ones but the way they cut the fabric, I didn’t get the faces that I liked. I did, though, get them in the green. So I was sort of half-hearted about the project. I made the first one and then I guess I got a bit procrastinaty about it.
photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night I figured out part of my problem was the maths – the purple face was going to be a different size, and I had to work that out (and cut it in a perfect rectangle). And then I had to redesign the log cabin pattern to match the new size of the face and finish at a similar size to the first. But importantly, this doesn’t have anything to do with finishing off the above piece, which just needs now quilting and binding (course now I have to figure out the backing … but I digress).

Voila to the cut piece, BIG progress. And I have designed up the log cabin block. Currently I’m piecing one to see if I like the fabric combinations.

photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still have to decide if I make 3 or 4 of these – 4 seems a bit of an odd number for hanging purposes.

So that’s what I’ve been doing this week of “holidays”.

I’ve also been working on our house project. Just before we headed off to Canberra, I got C to sign us up to this Organise your House in 20 days project (by way of The Organised Housewife). Because being organised at the end of 20 days sounded awesome. It started just as we were leaving so we already knew we would be finishing it after the rest of the sign ups. When we got back, I had a look through the first week of tasks – each day (of the working week) you get a room assignment and a list of tasks. I admit I freaked out. I’m still not sure how other people are completing each day within the day – did they start out more organised than me? Was there a baseline organised requirement that I missed on sign up? Do they not have kids? Other job commitments? Do they spend 8 hours on these tasks each day? The mind boggles. My husband, though, pointed out *we* don’t need to complete this challenge in the 20 days. As long as we set aside an hour or so a day and move forward, we can still win.

Our goal for by the end of the weekend was to have finished the first 3 days’ worth and whilst we’re not quite there, there is very definite improvement. I’m almost completely on top of the laundry, even having done about a half or more of the handwashing. I also had to sort through all my jewellery in order to complete the bedroom tasks. It turns out that I had not ever sorted my collection and instead of making use of my boxes to organise things, I had them stuffed full of stuff I knew not what and most likely didn’t even like, leaving the stuff I did like, all piled up all over the place making everything look messy and also getting dusty and too gross to wear. So, both displeasing to the eye and meaning I haven’t been enjoying wearing jewellery for some time. I’m not quite finished sorting it all and in true GTD fashion, it generated other next actions like – get broken pieces fixed etc. But I’m more inspired, I’ve culled lots of stuff that I can finally admit I’m never going to wear and don’t like or have outgrown, and my dresser is starting to look like a happy place again.

I’m liking the organising challenges. As long as I can be ok that it’s going to take us longer than the 20 days.

Which kinda summarises this whole post. You *can* have and do it all, *as long as* you adjust your estimated timeframes accordingly.

 





September 28   Conflux 10!

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We are off to Canberra this week as I am joining Margo Lanagan as the Guests at Conflux.

I’m taking pitches for Twelfth Planet Press on Friday afternoon ahead of the Opening Ceremony (5.30pm, Forest Room 2) and then disappearing for Yom Kippur. I’ll be back around on Sunday morning (9.45am) to be interviewed by Helen Merrick in my Guest Speech slot before we launch Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA SF & Fantasy Stories in Australia in Forest Room 2.

I’m also scheduled to appear on the following panel items:

CURRENT TRENDS IN BOOK BUSINESS

This century has seen new ways of “doing” book business, from the major publishing house to small and indie press, from print to ebooks. Small press and independent titles are attracting both award and review attention. Panellists have experience with a range of publishing strategies and share their insights.
5.30pm Sunday, Forest Room 2. Panellists: Alan Baxter, Jack Dann, Alisa Krasnostein and Aimee Lindorff.

WRITING ABOUT GENDER AND SEXUAL DIVERSITY

Issues in writing about gender and sexually diverse characters.
9am Monday. Forest Room 2. Panellists: Alisa Krasnostein, Helen Merrick (Moderator), and Jane Virgo.

THE SPOKEN JOURNEY

Podcasts, talking books, radio, audio journals: in a multi-media environment the writing market includes audio presentations. This panel explores audio as a medium and issues in accessibility, technology and performance.
1pm Monday, Forest Room 3. Panellists: Phill Berrie (Moderator), Alisa Krasnostein, and Tehani Wessely.

TRANSMEDIA STORIES

New strategies and trends in story telling are increasing in popularity with graphic novels, e-books with embedded content, Youtube tie-ins, film and television and many other formats. Our panellists discuss ‘telling’ a story across multiple platforms.
3pm Monday, Forest Room 2. Panellists: Jacqueline Abela, Alisa Krasnostein and more panellists to be confirmed.

 

I’m bringing the Twelve Planets Scarf Project so come along and say hi to us in the Dealers Room and knit some rows and check out our new books!



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So while I was in London last month, I managed to catch up with a friend good, very old friend of mine. We had a really lovely afternoon (photos to come in another post) and in it, we caught up on all things. And one of the things I love about good old friends is that they know you, you can’t throw a glamour over yourself and fool them into believe your spin. They see you for what you are. And so during this afternoon, we had a good long chat about the fact that I am a Procrastinator, with a capital P. Which, you know, I can complain about a lotta stuff but I can’t get away with a straight face denying that particular thing. We spoke a bit about it and I toyed with the idea of tracking how much time I work on things – I’d read a really interesting article that said that working 8 hours a day is all you need and you will get everything done, but that you really need to work – honestly – that full 8 hours.

I had been thinking about setting up a way of tracking, not necessarily to see how little work I do, but to actually look at it and use it as a way to maybe counter some bad habits. As it turned out, I didn’t need to spend too much time setting something up as I’d already installed Tictoc some time ago and had a couple of heading tasks in that app – it sits on your dock and you just click on and off as you switch from task to task. I added a few more things in like social media, household stuff, etc and I have some pretty broad titles like TPP, PhD, emails etc. I don’t really need to know the minutiae for this experiment.

I’ve only been doing it properly since about mid last week so I don’t yet have enough data for pretty graphs or anything and let’s be honest, I’m not about to reveal anything earth shattering here. I only got close to anything resembling an 8 hour day yesterday and that was with me pushing working til 1.30 am. Now, yes, I have a baby at home, what do I expect? But I’m studying full time at the moment, so what I expect is to be honestly able to show those hours or else that commitment is unrealistic (hey, what? I can talk reasonably about myself!) So yesterday I was pretty happy as I managed to earn my 12 red ticks for 1 gold star (yes I’m still running that system, it makes sure I touch base across a bunch of projects and not just get lost in one) and I got the 8 hour day of work done.

But today I’ve not managed to get myself to do very much at all. I had Mothers’ Group and then also Galactic Suburbia. And pretty much no motivation or brain space to do much else. Which kinda proves that thing where you can push really hard to double on one day but you pay for that by being able to do nothing the next and thus averaging to normal across 2 days.

I don’t think that my regular work output (before yesterday) is any different to when I had a full time day job ie if I replace the baby for that (which is not quite an equal trade …) I’m still working the same hours on TPP. Which kinda makes me amazed at what I’ve produced in so few hours and annoyed because now given all the time in the world I still don’t have any more time.

But yeah, since a new song sister, we already know this tune.

Today, remarkably, I actually picked up my quilting and worked on one of the Jinny Beyer blocks. Not only that, but I also started looking at how to finish this quilt (the borders and block placement etc). I haven’t thought or been inclined to sew at all since before the injections in my hands (sadly, I’ve had some pain back in my wrists this last week, so I guess they might have lasted me 3 months?). As usual, I’ve been freaking out because I was worried this meant I would never ever want to quilt again (EVERY FRIGGING TIME) and I didn’t know what it was that makes me interested. And of course now I’m worried I’ll drop the knitting and then wonder if I’ll ever want to knit again. Why can’t I be all poly with my crafts? Why???



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The Hugos

 

Long time listeners of Galactic Suburbia will know what huge fans of the Hugos we are. To be nominated for a Hugo just totally floors us. To be able to attend a Hugo ceremony as fangirls was amazing. To be there in a year we were nominees was just super awesome. We got to do the whole trip and we held on and enjoyed the ride. Mostly. We talk about the experience on the latest episode of the podcast. Here are the accompanying photos.

The rehearsal.

Yeah that’s terrifying. Here is a photo of Tansy as we entered the auditorium and got hit by the wave of Hugo nerves. We were all good until this very moment. Behind her, Al Jazeera had swept in asking about where they should set up their cameras. I took this photo to capture all the moments but clearly Tansy is all “Just what the hell are you doing, Alisa? We don’t have time for this right now.”

Here I think she is agreeing with me that is a truly terrifying moment. Behind her is *half* the auditorium and stage.

HALF OF GALACTIC SUBURBIA AT THE HUGOs Selfie!!! (And the OTHER HALF of the auditorium.)

And then we went up to do the rehearsal proper. Here is lovely Niall Harrison going along with my antics. We did the rehearsal with Niall and Abigail Nussbaum and that was a truly fun experience (as well as deeply deeply terrifying, but we were all terrified together). There were lots of instructions on how to handle and how not to handle the trophy – look, if you make your trophy look like a giant penis, there’s not much you can do about what that’s gonna look like when nervous people clasp to it trying not to drop it in a moment of great shock/surprise/denial/surrealism/overwhelming joy/whatever.

Then we went to get changed and head on out to the preceremony cocktail party.

The Cocktail Party

Here is Tansy placating Scottish Liz (Scottish Liz, I cut you out of this photo because it was not a good shot.)

There were two Doctors Who at the party. I’m not sure if there was also a rift in the time space continuum because of this. Doctor One:

Doctor Two:

I was sad neither of them won since they came along and all. But George is lovely. And I was also sad Orphan Black didn’t win. So I guess I must have really liked that category.

OK, so basically, at the party, everyone is nervously hanging around counting down til the pain of the Hugos will be over, oh and also, having their photos taken in their category. Here is ours (I’m going to link to it rather than post it here. Click over to the next photo for us being a bit silly.)

The Hugos Ceremony

Here we are seated for the ceremony in a sort of half the Podcast Posse.

My attempt of a Pat-Cadigan-style-selfie (see her Facebook for the reference)

And Verity!

Our lovely hosts for the evening – Geoff Ryman wearing his Tiptree tiara and Justina Robson

The guarded Hugos cabinet, or as I like to call it – a cupboard of dildos

I was in the front row. Like a true Hugos nerd. Therefore my photos are not awesome but what they lack in lighting, the add in enthusiasm for being there in person to take them.

Sofia Samatar (author of the loved “Walkdog” in Kaleidoscope and the Crawford winner for A Stranger in Olondria) won the Campbell Award (not a Hugo) and here is Julia Rios accepting it for her.

Gratuitous picture (because I love her) of Kate Elliott accepting the Best Fanwriter Hugo for Kameron Hurley. (BTW, Elliott knows how to classily handle a Hugo. Just sayin’)

Best Fancast category was up and SF Signal won. Here is Gail Carriger accepting for Patrick Hester

And then there were my three personal favourite wins (though there were many more that night that were truly awesome too).

John Chu won Best Short Story for “The Water That Falls on You From Nowhere” which … was rejected 12 times and he was told that noone would ever want to read this kind of stories he wrote. Oh how wrong that feedback was. “To win, and for *this* story” is what he is saying here:

You can read his story for free here, and I really do think it’s worth it. You can thank me later :)

And then Mary Robinette Kowal won Best Novelette for “The Lady Astronaut from Mars” which was my absolute favourite in the category – and that’s including against the Ted Chiang! I know!!! This story made me cry, it’s totally beautiful and totally feminist and exactly the kind of subject matter I love to read about and get explored in science fiction. There was some politics surrounding this entry because it was first published in audio format the year before and knocked out of eligibility. You can read it for free on Tor.com who saved it from missing out due to this ruling by printing it online.

And then, finally. The big moment. I had tried not to listen to all the people predicting who would win Best Novel. I really really wanted Ann Leckie to win. And then, as the awards unfolded, and it came to pass that I quite liked the 2014 Hugo voters, I thought, surely, surely they won’t let me down? And they didn’t. And Ann Leckie swept the full suite of awards for her first novel in her trilogy – Ancillary Justice. And we in the front gave her a standing ovation of excitement, of respect and of celebration. And here she is, accepting her Hugo:

What an awesome night! Truly exhilarating. In my mind, a gauntlet had been thrown down many months before, and the Hugo voters picked it up and ran off with it. We read the works and judged them on their merit. And lo, it came to pass that Hugo winning science fiction could be gender bending, feminist, and gay. Who knew?! I love you all. EVEN the people who voted No Award in the Best Fancast category.



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Afternoon Tea at the Ritz

An important engagement we had to make on the very first day proper we were in London was to honour the Kaleidoscope Pozible Campaign reward of Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. Some people have all the hard tasks, I know! It was such a headspin to be finally heading off to catch a train to go and have tea – it had been a flippant idea of Tansy’s maybe two years earlier and since then we’d successfully crowdfunded, (I had a baby), edited and then published a book and now here it was, launch in London time!

 

Here is the baby all dressed up in silver pants and a shirt that says “My First Tea Party”.

Sadly, she fell asleep before we arrived!

Not to worry though, we enjoyed the very beautiful surrounds:

Isn’t it fancy? Here’s Tansy standing in front of the tea room.

And Julia, who was waiting for us when we arrived.

Unfortunately, the most important members of our party were held up due to a train incident. Ever the professionals, we got seated at our table (you have a set time limit for your seating)

Our table:

But we only ordered tea.

I was talked into the The Ritz Royal English since it’s the blend made specifically for The Ritz. Later, we got to have new pots of tea and I chose Orange Pekoe which was also lovely.

Tea came with all the fancy things – sugar cubes, milk, clotted cream and jam (which was not for the tea).

Whilst we sipped tea, we enjoyed the room:

You can see the well dressed footmen (is that what the servers are called? I only watch Downton Abbey) who waited on us most kindly.

When our guests arrived, we had the food brought. I must confess that all this time, I’d thought I was going to go home hungry. I don’t really know why I thought this – perhaps in Perth high tea is overpriced and under delivered? The Ritz did not under deliver.

The sandwiches (bottom tier were vegetarian)

Baby enjoying a hummus sandwich:

And the top tier which you can almost see were the little cakes. I got my own small plate of nut free cakes (they asked for allergies on arrival and sorted on the spot):

Here is (I guess a non nut free?) cake with a lovely little R on top:

On top of this, they then brought out scones and unveiled the clotted cream and jam (OMG I only just realised I didn’t make it to the scones!!!). At the same time, there was a lovely trolley circulating with MORE CAKE! Two kinds! Since Tansy and I didn’t want to pick, we got one each and shared.

This was some kind of lemon drizzle sponge.

AND OMG! This one was a Bakewell Tart which swooooon OMG. The raspberries! The white chocolate! The delicious scrummy base! This was pretty much the best slice of cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. And that’s a big call.

At about this time, we asked for the champagne to arrive and we toasted to Kaleidoscope. The baby hung out with D and we had all kinds of political chat, most inappropriate for a civilised afternoon tea!

And then it was time to leave – well, to head on back to the convention which was only just getting started.

The editors at “almost completed project delivery status”:



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September 1
Current Mood: (bouncy) bouncy
   Worldcon Trip: Debrief Series part 2

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Dealers Room, Knitting Project

For me, a lot of a con is about the dealer’s room. LonCon had a really great one and Farah was amazing in both helping out with us being able to get stock to the con and also in organising the way the room worked once it was go. There felt like there was plenty of space for all the dealers and on top of that, there were amazing installations and exhibits peppered throughout.

Here is a pic of us setting up – Sophie very kindly held the banner up for this photo. It feels like such a short time to have accumulated so many titles already! Of course we also had FableCroft titles on the table and it was very squooshy! I guess soon we’ll need to think about getting a double table at these things! Mindboggling!

Long before we were even in the headspace for LonCon, Fran suggested that the Locus table and the TPP table go next to each other so we could mind each other’s table when needed. It was a FABULOUS idea and even though I suspect they minded my table more often than we minded theirs, we had such a great time we have decided we *must* do this every con. It was perfect. Plus, otherwise cons are so hectic, we’d not get to spend as much time with the Locus crew. And the baby met Fran (in her Galactic Suburbia tshirt, is it not the cutest?)

 

Our table was actually near this installation of one of my favourite Iain M Banks’ books. I stared at it so long that I think it’s time to reread Use of Weapons.

 

Ahead of LonCon we were bandying around ideas for the dealers room. I’m pretty sure it was Tansy who suggested we knit a scarf in the Twelve Planets colours – inviting people to come on over and knit a row, maybe switching to a colour they liked on whim and the scarf knit up however it did. And then we take photos and Instagram the scarf progress. I tried to make this work a couple of other ways but ended up choosing this yarn which I’d conveniently bought when I was on holiday in Sydney earlier this year. A mad dash request had Alex popping in to the same store in Melbourne to buy their last skein and squeeze it in Tansy’s bag to bring over so we had two skeins. For those asking, the yarn is Manos Del Uruguay: Alegria in the colourway Locura Fluo. (Incidentally, Manos Del Uruguay is a very cool not for profit organisation that gathers women in coops across Uruguay to handpaint this yarn and bring economic and social opportunities to rural women. Alegria means joy in Spanish.)

And the thing is, knitters are just awesome people. We had a sign about the project which people asked about. Sometimes the sign wasn’t up and people still asked about the knitting. We tweeted and instagrammed and people came over specifically asking to knit on it. It was like a compulsion – I am knitter, must knit on this project.

Here is Louise who started pretty early.

There’s different styles of knitting, you know.

Sometimes we had some dropped stitches, here’s Anita painstakingly picking up one.

People *had* to just knit a row or two. I loved the passing conversations.

Some people told me how they had managed to integrate knitting in to work – seriously!

Eventually we got a proper knitting seat set up and some people came over to relax and recover with a few rows before heading back out into the fray.

Brenda came over to tell us that we’d joined the Knitting Force by knitting at Worldcon and then showed off the gorgeous knitted jacket she’d made.

Sometimes the scarf just chilled out, amongst the books.

And sometimes, I got to chat with people I know from the internets (Twitter). Here’s Elizabeth studiously knitting a few rows.

Everybody has their own bunch of people they fangirl over. Here’s one of mine – Adrienne Martini who is KNITTING ON MY SCARF! Ages ago I reviewed Adrienne’s book Sweater Quest in which Adrienne does something obsessive and consuming and totally something I would love to do (knit an Alice Starmore sweater exactly according to the pattern, yarn and all) and at the same time shows she is smart and funny and someone I totally wished I could be friends with. You can imagine my inner squee to discover she was pulling some time on the Locus table and I got to chat to her. A lot. And I love her. And here she is knitting on my scarf!!!

Another squee moment as Maureen K Speller is knitting on my scarf and we’re having a lovely chat. I love Twitter and getting to meet people over time in 140 character spurts.

Things got unhinged, as they do towards the end of the con. Here we are on Monday right before we began packing up. Keffy had only just recently started knitting! And I’m still waiting to see how the trip to Lapland went, Keffy!

So uh. Seriously, I thought we’d knit this scarf over Worldcon. I vastly underestimated how much work we’d be doing in the Dealer’s Room which was a hubbub from beginning to end. Plus panels, book launch and other commitments, what was I thinking? But it was such a great project both for meeting all the knitters at Worldcon – so many people like me! Taking knitting into panels and carrying projects around with them! I loved seeing what other people had on the needles. And I love love love the idea that knitters across the world and across cons are going to leave a few of their stitches in this project. We’ll take it along to all the cons we’re at and see how it grows over time.



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The Yarn Edition

Well, we are finally home from our trip to the UK. So much happened, we saw all sorts of things and the con itself was amazing. I have a ton of photos and stuff but I figure I’ll stick to just a few posts.

But first, I’m unpacking and doing all the laundry and setting everything back in place. So obviously the first post should be on the loot. And by “loot”, I do mean yarn. (Books to come later – I had to post them home and I’m not saying that that’s because of the yarn.)

Here it is, the pile:

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I didn’t get to browse too much of the LonCon Dealers Room. Our table was quite near the front of the room so we didn’t walk past too many other tables to get in in the morning or out at closing time and we were really busy pretty much the whole time. I’m a bit sad but I also had very little room in my suitcase so I wanted to keep book buying to a minimum. HOWEVER. There was a yarn stall. Seriously. All my dreams coming true!

The dealer was a German company called Alte Kunste (Ancient Arts). Their yarns are dyed with plant colours, reviving the ancient craft of natural dyes. The two skeins I couldn’t resist are on the left hand side of the photo – the sock yarn in that delicious brown (called hummus) and the lace yarn in a colourway I can’t read on the label as it’s in German so I’m going to read as Summertime by the Sea.

The neon coloured yarn at the top is the second skein for the Twelfth Planets scarf project which I’ll talk more about later.

The other yarns I picked up in London when I made my pilgrimage to a shop I’ve heard about a lot for many years – Loop. It is in Islington and well worth tracking down. It’s not a big shop and I walked straight past it the first time. They have a really lovely range of yarns (colours and also companies) and you choose what you like and they go find out if they have the number of skeins you need. They also had a really nice range of books. I bought a baby garments book and then picked the grey yarn above for a baby cable knit jumper I want to knit next for M. That’s Cascade 220 which I’ve never seen in real life before and wasn’t really what I was expecting. I also grabbed those two purples in a Just Coz way because they are divine to touch – the uncommon thread in Lush Worsted (merino wool and cashmere and nylon). The darker purple is called Lila and the light one Into Dust. I have no idea what I will do with them (they are 100g and 212m each). So so pretty. I also might have grabbed two Unicorn Tails from MadeleineTosh because reasons.

I found the best coffee I came across in London in the same street as Loop – The Coffeeworks Project. The best flat white I’ve had in a month, for sure.



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I’ve been putting off this post for a while. It’s the “Say it out loud” task on the 12wbt preseason tasks. The one where I’m supposed to say my goals for the next 12 weeks in a place that makes me accountable etc. Because, I *am* a woman of my word but I also like to believe I can do more than I really can. Because sometimes I can pull rabbits out of my hat. And because I push myself beyond breaking. And because I feel bad because I really didn’t/couldn’t stick to what I committed to last round.

But I signed up for the next round. And I want to complete all the preseason tasks. And I do want to be accountable.

On a sort of tangent. I’ve been diffusing essential oils for a few years now. I used lemon and grapefruit for morning sickness when the taste of ginger started to make me feel ill. I use lavender a lot for headaches and for insomnia. And I use a bunch of blends as well. After I started wearing the blend “Transformation”, I applied for my Phd and quit my job and got married. Maybe I would have done all those things anyway, maybe choosing that blend was a subconscious action acknowledging a suppressed feeling of wanting to change. Maybe wearing it was giving myself permission to actually pursue it. Anyway, I was at the airport recently and I decided to buy myself one called “Focus” in the hope that it would dispel the cobwebs, the heavy weight of feeling tired all the time and help me to just get on with working one task all the way to the end, not forgetting my handbag places etc. The whole time I was standing there looking, I couldn’t shift the feeling that what I actually should have been buying was “Relax”. The feeling stayed with me so long that last week I finally got myself that one too. And really, it makes sense, that you just can’t keep pushing yourself to work longer and harder and better and think that the productivity/efficiency graph is hyperbolic. That if you could only create more time, you could get more done. I know that’s not how it works.

And the same goes for this whole 12wbt goal setting. This time round, I’m challenging myself to focus (wow that oil really works!) on the REALISTIC element of ACHIEVABLE. And I think that is being the most honest and accountable to those who will be reading this. In the same way that sometimes you need to take time out to relax in order to be more productive, you need to know when to step off being tough on yourself and be kinder to get yourself to do more.

So that’s going to be what I commit to for the next 12 weeks – working out 3-4 days a week, following the nutrition programme, drinking more water every day, taking my vitamins and fitting more yoga in. And to take some time out to just breathe.
I’m not going to set a weight goal and I’m not going to even pretend that I can find time to work out every day.



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One of my favourite events in the week these days is going to Mother’s Group. People close to me will recall how stressed out I got about whether I would actually be assigned one (M was born in November and they didn’t form new groups then til February) and also if I would fit in (I never really felt at home where I live and wasn’t sure I would meet people who would get me). As it turns out, those Child Health Nurses have some whacky superpower whereby they match people up in some way that most people cling tight to their group like it’s their oxygen machine. And as it turns out, I love my mother’s group more than I’ve loved many many things in life (not more than Tim Tams though, Tim Tams are for life). Anyway, we hang out, often for more than several hours on mummy’s group day, and laugh and debrief and all those things, and take photos of the bubs playing. Yesterday, I caught sight of myself (checking Twitter on my phone) in the background of one posted on our FB page. And … it made me sad.

I’ve signed up for the last two rounds of Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT programme to lose my “baby weight” – truthfully I lost weight during my pregnancy as I felt sick for pretty much all of the time. But that weight has not stayed off since. My plan was to – meh – it was probably to be someone else entirely in those photos for the Hugo nominees. This plan of course has not been successful and Loncon is next month.

This plan, by the way, has not been successful because it was completely unrealistic – not the programme, which is fantastic and has been really life changing for me. And not necessarily unrealistic that a new mum could follow it. Just. Not this new mum. In my feedback for the last round I did note that you know, the one mother of a newborn who manages to lose a bunch of weight whilst learning this parenting gig on the job and not sleeping is truly amazing and deserving of much kudos but for the rest of us, who basically feel like zombies dragging themselves through mudflats in a thunderstorm whilst wearing heels and having been slammed up the side of our heads, and already feel like losers and failures, don’t feel encouraged by the “I/She did it so can you too” bullshit.

You see, I’m having to admit that even Wonder Woman couldn’t juggle fighting crime, flying an invisible plane and wearing pants all at the same time.

Yes, that’s right. I’m currently exploring this question: “What is reasonable?”

SMART goals ask you to set measurable, achievable, timely goals that are *reasonable* and in my head I always think that the first three therefore imply the fourth. Yeah, no.

I feel like a total failure because I don’t feel like, don’t have time for and can’t make myself exercise. Oh yeah, and I’m still suffering from carpal tunnel from my pregnancy so some days I hurt so much that I can’t walk on my feet and hold a cup of coffee. (And when you’re the stay at home parent, noone can hear you scream from RSI from baby lifting and noone cares either).

Could I carve out time in my day, maybe when the baby is sleeping or after she goes down for the night? I’m supposed to answer yes to this – sure I can! But I’m supposed to be studying full time right now and running Twelfth Planet Press (which now is perpetually behind and slammed). I don’t really get that much time to do any work uninterrupted during the day so I work a full day from about 6/8pm (the baby currently woke up from her late afternoon nap that she never normally takes and is drinking a bottle – it’s 7.21pm) til 2.30am. Sometimes I work a bit later, sometimes I go to bed at 1/1.30am and read (reading is not always for leisure though it’s for staying in touch with the genre or reading submissions and manuscripts).

What is actually reasonable?

I’m working pretty hard to keep my business running and towards a career change so that when I come out the other side of this full time parenting gig, I’m not tossed aside for being out of date and therefore unemployable. And, you know, so that I don’t lose all that money I’ve invested into my small business because it stagnated and therefore lost its profile, interest and brand. I don’t want people to say “hey, remember that small press thirteen? ten? some number something? Whatever happened to that?” When I have “down time” I go to the toilet, get a hot cup of coffee (OMG remember those?! You’re sipping one right now, aren’t you?) and then I go and do work.

Oh and I am bone tired *all* the time. If I stand still, I can pretty much fall asleep. Any time.

So what *is* reasonable? What *can* you actually expect of yourself. Or more importantly for me, what can *I* really expect of myself? And what can I put on the to do list for later? What can I be ok with just letting be? What’s truly important?



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This week’s blocks were a breeze to make simply because I’d done all the planning weeks ago. How GTD of me! I made one whilst mainlining Emma Approved on YouTube and the other I made during our regular Kaleidoscope Skype meeting on Monday night.

First up, the blocks.

City Life Holds No Glamor is this title of this week’s letter by MRs A. B. D.

This block is called “Flock” and is block 34. And it was one of the hardest ones for me because after, gosh, 10 years or something, I finally cut up this fabric. I’ve been admiring it for years and so unsure what project to use it in but so scared to cut it up. It’s so so pretty. But. I don’t think I am a fabric collector. Or if I am, it’s ok to collect the fabrics inside of my finished quilts. And. There’s never going to be the perfect project for fabric you swoon over. There will always be the fear of cutting it up. Something can be finished or perfect but not both. And this project is a bit about just sucking it up and getting on with it. About progress. About consistency. And about working on something towards the end point. Therapy, if you will. I have a lot of fabrics I’ve collected over time that I want to just have large squares of it framed and I realised that the number of quilts you can make and have like that is one. So … you know … Get Things Done already!

This block is called “Hill and Valley” and is block 46. The lady in Paris fabric I bought at the craft fair trip just gone. So that has barely hit the sides of my stash. The other thing I’ve realised is, you can’t buy more fabric if you’re busy not using the fabric you already have. And there’s so much more beautiful fabric out there to buy and own …

This week’s letter from Mrs A. B. D. is all about how she loves good honest moral hard work having previously lived in Chicago and how she doesn’t miss it. I dunno that I am looking forward to the day America tires of jazz, as she yearns for, but I do agree that there is much to enjoy about watching the slowly changing landscape. That’s something I realised my soul misses, living in the suburbs of Perth which are flat and boring. And I only discovered this after visiting Tasmania and finding so much to drink in from the surrounds.

In other things I finished this week, Block 9 in the Solstice Quilt:

This one nearly broke me because of the lack of a good white pencil on black which meant all the pieces weren’t marked quite right. I bought a chalk pencil at the craft fair but I’m not loving that much more.

And something else.

I’ve been working on this sock for quite some time. I cast it on straight after I finished the socks I made for Deb. And … yeah. So, the sock knitting project for the year (knit as many as I can) was basically about picking kinda mundane sock patterns and the yarns I’m happy to gift away and then knit in the dark whilst I catch up on reading. I would both move theough my stash, make yummy socks for people I love and also get some reading done every day. I have carved out some time in my day for reading by, ahem, getting into bed at about 1am, a bit early for me, and then reading for about an hour in the dark whilst knitting. I can do pretty straight forward knitting without looking at the work.

But it turns out for me, that a lot of the enjoyment in knitting comes from playing with the yarn as it unravels and turns into the fabric. The enjoyment comes in watching the pattern of the colourplay reveal itself. And you miss all of it when you knit in the dark; you become completely disengaged from the piece. And I guess I’m a process knitter. So I stopped working on the sock completely for ages. Which is a ridiculous response. Lately I’ve been grabbing the project as I run out the door in case I have the opportunity to work on it somewhere else. And it’s progressed. I’m packing the sock for the weekend away and I’ll be finished with it pretty quickly.

And finally, my travelling projects. I am going to be travelling and this is what I’ve packed. I hate to be bored or to find myself in any moments where I have nothing to do but could have done something if I’d planned for it. So here are all (some) of my current projects all GTD’ed up. I have to say that in sitting down and cutting out all the blocks for the Farmers Wife ahead of time a couple of weeks ago was a bit of an epiphany for me. The envelopes in the top right hand corner are the last of those but when I get back I’m going to sit down and do another month ahead again. The ability to just grab one and have everything in there for the block ready to go has been awesome. And having it made me realise the value in planning for crafting.

I’m really a fly by the seat of my pants crafter, cutting materials up as I need them because that end of crafting is not the fun part. It’s the chores and it doesn’t feel like recreation or down time. But there are moments when you aren’t up to crafting, like if your eyes are tired, and they make good times for prepping ahead. So for travelling, I prepped little ziplock bags with everything I need for the project. So above, I have the pattern, the yarn and the needles/hook and any other tools, all in there for easy grabbing. And all the pieces have been precut for the quilt blocks as well. And there lies a week or two of happy crafting because all the thinking is already done for me! I’m going to start setting aside some time each week to do this regularly. It’s the “think and plan” bit of GTD and means projects won’t stagnate going forward! I can’t wait!

Happy Friday!



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This post is late not because I have fallen behind but rather because I haven’t had time to post an update. Ahh how times have changed. Right now I’m grateful for having sat down last weekend and planned out a bunch of weeks ahead as I was able to just grab envelopes with precut out blocks both last week and this week. Most helpful as I might be offline next week.

Anyway, this last week’s blocks and letter! Week 2’s letter was written by Mrs E. M. L. who is very pro marrying a farmer. I have say though, all her reasons are really similar to marrying into the Navy, living an hour from your family and running a small press from home, well apart from the bit about the satisfaction of hard work on the land and providing for one’s own dinner from the fruits of said labour. Apart from that, it’s exactly the same.

Reading matter? All you want and any kind, brought by the rural carriers. [Australia Post]. Music? Classics and comics, any and all kinds for Victrola and other”players”. [iTunes and Comixology – see what I did there?] Clothes? Ordered from a dozen catalogs [Modcloth, The Iconic] and a world of pleasure in ordering [Oh yeah!] Over the telephone [Internet] and also close connection, with any needed aid in the event of illness….And there are picnics [Coffee in Perth], camping trips, and the “going-to-see” more distant friends [We’ll call this conventions]

Work? Plenty of it and this is the best part…

Children? Of course…

See what I mean?

Except she does lose me at enjoying getting up early in the morning. Probably I couldn’t really marry a farmer at all.

The blocks this week were, Country Path (number 24)

and Silver Lane (block 79)

This one looks crooked only because of the angle of the photo.

I also have started quilting as I go. Last weekend I went with my mum to get sashing fabric and also wadding. I’ve decided that it’s perfectly fine to start out with the thinnest wadding there is. Perth is hardly cold and I can always use several quilts if it’s really cold. And if the thinnest wadding helps me skill up on quilting such that I actually finish the job? Well finished is always better than perfect. And so I actually started this:

I watched a couple of Youtube vids on how to quilt and I’m working on the rocking motion as well as consistently sized stitches. At first I was trying to get the smallest stitches and the closest together but I’ve realised that since I’ve bought fancy coloured variegated thread, it’s ok to make the thread and stitching a feature not a bug.  And that’s allowed me to have a bit more fun. I actually did quite a bit of quilting on this first block – quilted a bunch of the stripes and then also outlined each of the objects in this block. It was not to bad – kinda fun, didn’t take as long as I thought and I think I got better as I went. Making it small by just being this small block is definitely a real incentive and also in no way daunting!

My goal will be to sew the 2 blocks per week of the project and then also quilt the two blocks of the week before. That way when I finish sewing all the blocks, I’ll almost have finished the quilt. And if I get good enough at this, I’m thinking of doing the Solstice Quilt quilting of each block before I piece the whole thing. Speaking of which, I did manage to finish Block 9 of the Solstice Quilt this week as well:

 



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And so I have begun! My intention was to post finished blocks on Fridays and I was really determined not to meet that goal on the first week. Which was really good because it’s pushed me to finish off one of the blocks in time for this post! The format is working!

So first up, the excerpt from the letter for this week, titled “Living in God’s Open Air” is by Mrs J E F, from Valley County, Montana. In her letter, Mrs J E F says that had she been asked the question (if she had a daughter of marriageable age, would she encourage her to become a farmer’s wife), 50 or even 20 years ago, she would have said no. But she says yes for having been asked in 1922. Firstly she cites the healthy lifestyle and also that the town lifestyle can be [well she doesn’t say bitchy but that’s what she means]. But then she goes on to say that she loves living on the from because it gives her an opportunity to make her own money from her eggs, from churning butter and from having her own veggie patch. She feels like this enables her to contribute by buying almost all the things for the house. Bit of a feminist answer out of the gate. I especially like the closing:

How beautiful our home was! It was only of logs, covered in summer with a wild clematis vine. I told out doctor that after five o’clock on winter nights we became New York millionaires for we had our easy chairs, a big fireplace and good books. We could not have had more in a mansion.

Indeed that does sound cosy!

So my plan for the quilting was that I would print out the templates I need as I go (there are 100 or so and are provided as PDFs on a CD that came with the book – 1 template per PDF. That’s a lot of paper. Definitely a downside to being provided this way). Anyway, I’ve seen that these little blocks are nice portable projects so I thought that it would be great to set up the 2 I needed for this week’s goal and then perhaps get ahead and set up a few blocks going forward.

You know what happened next. Yup, I started working on the third block cause it looked more fun than finishing the first two. This means I don’t actually have any in reserve either! Posting on a Friday with the week’s work is good for me because it forces me to actually finish two each week!

And here they are (excuse the lighting, I tried to get them done before the sun moved, didn’t happen).


Block 26: Cut Glass Dish


54: Kitchen Woodbox

I am hoping to get wadding this weekend so that I can experiment with Quilt As You Go and also so I can see how much fabric I’m left with after taking out for backing, as I go. Sadly I do not have as much fashion fabric stashed as I led myself to believe. That will need to be rectified …

One thing missing from the book is why Hird chose the blocks to go with the letters. I think that would have made a nice addition.

I’m now thinking I might like to read up on the history of quilt blocks. Do you have a recommendation of a book I should read?



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