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The book wall of shame, part 1

A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on

Behold my Book Wall of Shame, part 1. First, I should apologise if you can see your book or a book you gifted or loaned me in this pile – I really like it, I do! I just actually haven’t finished a book in a very long time. Well, I read Landline a couple of months ago. And one or two other novels in the last year or more but otherwise, I’m not very good at finishing anything. But I’m getting better at saying that I’m not reading because that’s actually incorrect. I’ve read hundreds of short stories this year and a couple extra novels that I published, and I read those at least 3 but probably closer to 5 times each. And I read a lot of non fiction every day. But reading for leisure? That’s long since become a thing of the past. And that kinda makes me sad. That my “job” has made what used to be a hobby no longer fun, or possible.

It will not surprise you that one of the items on that heinous 2013 Resolutions list was something a) ridiculous and b) vague like Reduce my TBR queue. What does that mean? Does that mean a net reduction? Or a title reduction so that if new books in = books read, it’s still achieved? Truthfully, I want it to be both reduce the backlog of books I would like to have already read aka all the books that had buzz last year etc as well as stay on top of all the books that will have buzz or that I want to read. Be a reader! in other words. Which I realised the other day, is fine, as long as I don’t also want to be a quilter, a gardener, a knitter, and tidy my house and achieve the other 22 items on the resolutions list. I’ve been avoiding this item on my To Do List and possibly attacking the rest of the items on it because I just didn’t know how to work this one. My TBR is high, and deep, and filled with deep personal *feelings*. I’ve been stalling.

However! It came to me! The idea came to me after I was killing time on Friday waiting for C to get his haircut. I’d wandered to Big W (we now have Big W and 28 Specialty Shops! down our way, it’s a *big* deal) and ended up in the books section. Whereupon I found about 8 books I needed. I mean, wanted. I ended up buying two – The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project, which I loved, and a book about two women who comb England for the best high tea (yes, it’s a book with a whole heap of high tea menus and frivolity, I expect, and some kind of a love story, probably). I took these books home, felt slightly bad about adding to the TBR and then promptly started The Rosie Effect. And I’m enjoying it – it’s a quick read.

So this had me thinking, I have so much less expectation with non genre (SFF) books. I feel less judgement from others because I don’t really discuss the books I read and like outside of genre. I’m probably a very mainstream reader in other genres, and I don’t really care. I read those books for leisure and fun. And I tend to find myself wanting to come back and read another chapter. And if I don’t, I figure I’m not enjoying the book, it owes me nothing, and I ditch it. Noone judges you if you didn’t like a chick lit book. So. I have decided to rekindle the joy of reading books for fun. And I pulled out all the books from my TBR bookcase that are not SFF or horror  (but crime is okay). My dear husband wandered in in the middle of this and got excited cause he thought I was culling a whole heap of books. I also pulled out the YA – SFF or no – as a second wave. And the picture about is the books that I’m going to read over summer. Hahaha. Well maybe not. But they are books I am going to start and if I’m not enjoying I’m going to ditch so I expect to finish many of them in only a couple of days of reading or else move them along. The hope is that by the time I get to the end of this wall of books, I’ve retrained myself to read for fun again. And then I will look at the remainder of the TBR and the wishlist.  

A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on

Today’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses – weak because I scared the machine by running out of water

Today’s total word count: 604

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 14 399

Progress on: Thesis data sets, scarf for xmas gift, filling book orders, emails, Garden Project commenced

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December 13   Black Friday Sales

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Well, I tried to be somewhat restrained during the sales at the end of November. I can’t say that I feel bad (that I wasn’t) now that all my loot is arriving.


My favourite fabric store is the Fat Quarter Shop. I get their daily newsletter. That’s not always a healthy life choice. From their Black Friday sales, I grabbed these:

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The fabrics on the left are a fat quarter bundle called Sewing Studio. They will go into my Farmers’ Wife quilt which I think I’m probably still collecting fabrics for, maybe. The ones on the right are just a grab of stuff I liked. The hot air balloons print is for the baby’s room, Paris map!! (I am collecting fabric maps of Paris for some reason – oh yeah, PARIS), tea cups, coat hangers and lingerie for the Farmers’ Wife quilt, coffee for a coffee themed quilt I’ll make Someday Maybe, flamingos for whimsy and more bras on the far end.

Just exciting enough to make me want to start a new project RIGHT NOW.

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I also grabbed some fabrics from Jinny Beyer from her sale. My mum and I went halvesies on postage and ended up picking the same yards for 3 out of 4 of our choices (8 yards to the flat rate postage). The two prints on the end on the right are the ones we differed on. I’m looking forward to trying out some of the fussy cutting techniques I learned this year from Beyer’s Solstice quilt and so I bought more of her mirror image fabrics and some border pieces. Not quite sure but I might try some of her other stars in her big book of patterns with fussy cut piecing. The thing that makes the Solstice Quilt work, though, is the accompanying fabrics she ties in to the fussy cut pieces. Shall be intriguing!


I actually ended up being rather restrained on the yarn front this year.

  • Firstly, we all know I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Secondly, I don’t need any more yarn.
  • Thirdly, Deb and I have plans for our own knit along thing next year with a whole heap of indie yarn companies we want to try so I maturely decided not to add more stash to the pile when I already feel yarn overload.

Yeah, I dunno, weirdly I was in some kind of ruthlessly realistic mode that Friday. Also, I screwed up one of the sales pretty early on and decided that was it from me for the buying. And, that’s the third year in a row with that particular store that my Black Friday experience has been less than awesome so … I might sit next year’s out. HOWEVER, look at the most gorgeous yarn I bought from them … so …

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The middle skein is Tough Love Sock yarn in Snapdragon from SweetGeorgia Yarns and I’ve been eying off that colourway for YEARS. It’s just divine! I kinda feel like it should become socks for me but then I’ve been disappointed with the socks I’ve been making of late. Maybe a shawl? (How many shawls does one person need, do you think? Is it more or less than 26?)

The two skeins on the outside are a whim that I bought, to try something new (I’m in a yarn rut, have I mentioned this previously?). The yarn is by Yarn Love in Elizabeth Bennett (Merino/Silk/Bamboo blend) in the colourway … wait for it … Fairy Tale. TELL ME how you don’t buy that??? Again, socks?? Meh. I’m in a knitting rut too.

I think I’m only waiting for one more parcel of yarn.

Artisan Jam

And not yarn, not bought on sale or on Black Friday, but that finally arrived – OMG artisan jam!!! OMG.

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This is by Just Add Moonshine and OMG. Deserves a post of its own. With tasting comments.


Today’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses (no photo!)

Today’s total word count: 408

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 13 795

Progress on: TV watching (Doctor Who, Jane The Virgin), Dream in Color Shrug, decluttering the dining room

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December 12   On changing one big thing

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A few Saturdays ago now (how does time do that? Seriously, I blink and suddenly it’s December and my baby is kinda walking), I spent a night alone in a hotel. To relax. And spend time aloooone. It was very surreal – I had lunch in the city with friends and we tried out a new high tea place. It was fine. The highlight was catching up with them for two+ hours and hearing how everyone was doing. And getting lots of tips and recs for things! After tea, I headed off to my hotel to hang out by myself. It was odd. I popped out once to grab coffee and a muffin (Perth CBD is not really awesome if you want coffee at 3.15 FYI) and a second time to grab dinner (9Marys – the eggplant curry was delish). But otherwise, I holed up in my room.

It was the very first night I’ve spent apart from the baby. Ever. I packed five different craft projects. And downloaded latest episodes of several of my favourite podcasts. I made sure I had work and reading on my laptop. I settled in for Me Time. And I had a really great time. It’s been ages since I could catch up on podcasts and I finally got to listen to the final episode of my all time favourite Cast On by Brenda Dayne. It’s a knitting podcast and my example of one of the best ways to priduce a single host podcast. It’s been nine years now, and Brenda feels her project is complete and it’s time to move on to others. It was a really sad podcast for me, what will I do without the dulcet tones of Brenda Dayne to soothe in my hardest of days? I’ve listened to her to quell panic attacks in LAX and on public transport during my hardest of anxiety days back in the very dark early 2000s. She’s made hours and hours of my long commutes not only bearable, but fun. I’ve listened to her regale Today’s Sweater and traditional dyeing and spinning methods in Wales and her gardening escapades. Who will tell me now that if it’s cold, I should put on a sweater, that’s what their for??? I admit I shed a tear or two. I shall miss her dearly. I spent the hour or so sewing on a new project I dug out during my craft room clear out and declutter. More on that hopefully soon!

After the final ever episode of Cast On. I listened to the first, or close to first, episode of new podcast I found on GTD – GTD Virtual Study Group. I’ve listened to probably all or at least most of the podcasts available on David Allen’s website (and have a membership to Connect because I am deeply deeply embedded within the cult) and I just wanted something new/more. This podcast is a recorded group phone call and it looks like different members take turns presenting the session. The first episode of is titled “Tackling Immunity to Change” and I liked the sound of it because maybe that’s what my problem is in not getting any of my 2013 To Do List done. Well, maybe that’s what part of the problem is? Obviously the other part was that they weren’t written as achievable goals that lent themselves to easily broken down parts for action.

This episode drew on two books that basically address why you have a stumbling block to achieving change. the presenter asked you to pick just one Big Thing you want to work on about yourself. Then she talked you through the process of breaking down why it is that you aren’t whatever the opposite is – so, say you picked “Be a better listener”, then why aren’t you a good listener? I picked wanting to be better at GTD, or having GTD at cruise control, mostly because, well, why am I listening to this podcast otherwise?

The process involved soul searching to figure out what it was that you most fear about doing the thing that you are resisting (ie want to change) and what would be the Dire Consequence if that thing you feared happened. This was such an interesting process. As I worked through it, I uncovered that I think my worst fear is of missing an idea. Or missing a great idea. So in the case of my GTD practice, for “stuff” that is yet unprocessed – undealt with emails, items in my in tray, jobs left to start, even – there is still the possibility of my not missing a hidden idea. Once I’ve done the capturing process I could have missed something and lost it forever. That is my fear. And I guess extrapolating from that, doing something, or choosing a path, automatically cancels out the other option/s. And what if they were better/right/correct? Drilling down into that to find the Dire Consequence, I think, that’s missing or wasting an opportunity, or a chance to do something or making an irretrievable mistake. Or that the idea will be too hard for me to nut out how to solve/execute it.

What you then were required to do is to point out to yourself, in your daily life going forward, every time this Dire Consequence is proved false, that it’s a false consequence. So, for example, if your fear is that asking for help will make you look weak or stupid, notice how many times after you ask for help, people are willing or actually want to help you and how they don’t think you are stupid. In my case, I began to process my “stuff” and as I moved further through my in tray, I discovered that actually I come up with the same idea several times. I’ll leave myself the same idea on different pieces of paper or I’ll write very similar notes/conclusions about thoughts (I’ll wrote the exact same Resolutions To Do List two years apart). That actually, I step through the same thought process more than one time. Meaning, it’s ok if I miss an idea. I’ll probably catch it the next time through i.e. FILE that piece of paper as reference, trust I captured all I needed to from it for my Actions To Do List and MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE. The standing paralysed by fear of missing anything is self fulfilling. If I don’t do anything about something, I will definitely miss/waste the opportunity. Something only done 80% as well as I think I can do it is better than not at all (and still an A+). And funnily enough, I often say that sometimes there is no right or wrong decision or choice, you just choose one and move forward. My own rhetoric proves the false consequence.

It was a very interesting hour, in any case. I’m still not at GTD cruise control and in fact all my lists I was making at the time are currently sitting in my in tray waiting for processing. But this idea of missing/wasting has been an interesting one to dissect. I think it’s why I read so slowly so I’ve been challenging myself to let go the idea that I need to memorise books as I read them. That it’s okay if I miss some vague description or a bit of the subplot or whatever. And I’ve been trying to put things away after I finish working with them for the day – be that PhD materials or craft supplies – because I don’t need to leave things out to remind myself I am working on them. The False Dire Consequence is that I will forget what I was working on and never come back and finish it. But actually, an ordered life where everything is where you need to find it when you go looking makes for a much happier and productive life. Who knew??

I think the same reason is why I fear the weekly review. That doing a review of all my projects and what I need to do next on them draws a line under them and I might miss things. Or it requires you to trawl through reference material for projects and with the fear of missing something I think this means doing it from first principles every week. Or if I don’t do it this thoroughly every time, that I might be missing ideas. Or that these will be the only ideas I ever have. Well, that and that it would take all day because I have so many projects going that I like to believe I am currently working on. I’ll work on that later.

Not long after doing this podcast workshop, I was in my counselling session and we were talking through why I try to do so many things. I had also recently listened to another episode of the same podcast where Leo Babauta (The Zen Habits guy) had been talking about how you should just pick the 5 things most important to you in life and work on those and anything that didn’t make that list you should quietly ease out of your life because they aren’t a priority. This gave me quite a panic because my list is probably 50 things and they are all a priority! So my counsellor was all “let’s unpack that” and we discussed why I feel such an urgency to do so many things. And really all I could keep coming back to is that I don’t/can’t waste time and I have a fear of wasting time and I have so much that I want to get done.

I think in part, a characteristic I have long worked on is “to strive to be better” but the thing about striving for something is that you never get there – which makes sense when you want to be sure you push yourself to achieve beyond what you believe you can do or to contribute to improve, be better, be more than. All good things. But the problem is, that means you never achieve, or you never feel happy when you achieve. And it falls into the “you can never be too rich or too thin” etc. Can you ever be happy? Can you ever feel that you deserve to enjoy your wins?

All open ended thoughts because I didn’t come to any real conclusions in that session other than maybe I am in a bit of an existential crisis of sorts. Questioning what my personal meaning of life is. But at least the conclusions I have taken away so far are not to be afraid of missing ideas. I have plenty and sometimes the same ones over and over :) It’s okay to let them go. And that’s something. I guess?

firstcoffeeToday’s drink: San Guillermo Costa Rica by Five Senses

Today’s total word count: 2184

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 13 387

Progress on: writing, running, knitting projects

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December 11   Fun stuff!

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Here are a couple of great vids I’ve enjoyed this week:

I met Books and Pieces at Loncon and she’s as lovely and funny in real person as she is in her Youtube vids. Here she talks about her November reads and her December TBR and she is hilarious. Also I like to note that Kaleidoscope is sitting rather closely nuzzled to Ancillary Sword there.


Hey! Felicia Day has an anounccccceeemennnnt:



I quite enjoyed a short vid of this interview of Oprah Winfrey at Stanford that I came across so I watched the whole hour. It’s not new material if you’ve watched a lot of recent Winfrey production but I still like to hear a lot of her thoughts over and over.


And hey! Did you hear that we released a new book title at Twelfth Planet Press yesterday? You didn’t?! Well! Let me tell you! The eleventh volume of the Twelve Planets (you see how close were are now? Do you see it??? Sooooo clooooose) The Female Factory by Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter arrived in print form at my house yesterday:


Every every every time I open a box of a new title, Amanda blows me away by how much prettier her book covers are in person than the images I’ve been peering over on screen, and I always love those to start with. We did it! We made another book in 2014! (Yes, my husband made me award myself a gold star for that.) And this one is fab! We’re offering the ebook add on for every print book purchase in December 2014. And thanks to Charles Tan, we were able to publish the ebook on the same day as the print for this one! So everyone who had already preordered the book (should have) got the ebook emailed to them last night. (Email me if you didn’t get yours. For those who had prepaid for the ebook as well, we’re offering any other ebook in our catalogue in exchange – email me if you didn’t get the email to organise that!) It’s a book bonanza!! Wheee!!!

Today’s drink: Chuang Hong “river red” Black Tea from Monstrositea

Today’s total word count: 758

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 11 203

Progress on:  Bit of intray management, writing and prep for some upcoming blog posts, finished my knitting stash audit for To Do List 2015 Project

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I have a bunch of half written posts here which is leading to a lot of posting procrastination. I’ll just pop those over to the side though. It’s 10pm and I’m being a bit naughty. I’m hanging on the couch. The house is asleep. I’m watching terrible television and crafting guiltfree.

I had a mixed bag of a day. Today was supposed to be step 1, first day of getting my garden project underway. The bobcat was to arrive and dig out the top layer of sand/couch in my backyard and take it all away so I could start from scratch etc. And then a landscaper was possibly dropping in to give me a quote on some planned works. Well, the bobcat and two big trucks did arrive. And after a short briefing, they set off to work, pulling off my side gate for access before deciding to check the tip fees for my waste. Yes well. I’m very grateful that they did since apparently the disposal of the mixed waste of sand and grass is a heinous crime the punishment of which is exorbitant tip fees. Like almost my whole project budget. So. My backyard did not have the ground works break. And I did not spend the day project managing (I wanted them to dig in soil improver and clay, build a mound for part of the interest features we are creating, and take out some trees and my hills hoist washing line). Meanwhile, I’d not managed to coordinate my enormous volume of mulch to be delivered in time anyway.

I decided instead to go to mummy’s group. Which was a nice place to hang, especially with a bit of a ratty and bored almost-toddler. My crew do make me laugh. But I would have baked J a birthday cake if I’d known I would have been going. Or a batch of brownies – we’re doing an experiment to see how many weeks in a row I can bring the brownies before they get tired of them. (No signs yet.)

I’m pretty keen to get this project started though. I can not stand my barren wasteland backyard anymore. It’s glaring and sandy and sunny with no shade or any nice places to just sit and hang. No space for babies to go out and play. Not really anything interesting for the dogs. And I really wanted to have this done for the summer break – with C home on leave, I thought it would be a nice space to have to relax. Not gonna happen so I have to suck it up for now.

The landscaper guy didn’t turn up today either. Maybe tomorrow.

But! All was not lost! When I got home from mummy’s group, I did a double take when I realised the boxes piled at my front door were in fact The Female Factory! The printer had said delivery by Dec 12 but I was a bit skeptical, I admit. But there they were! We published a book! And they are beautiful, always prettier than the jpg file, I find. So that was exciting! And just as I was rolling out all the ebook preorders today as well. So at least I know that tomorrow I’m doing envelope addressing! We made another book this year! Yay! I get a gold star!

And now? I dunno. Now I think I’m just admitting today was a bit subpar and I’m gonna catch up on some TV and just let it go.


Today’s drink: New coffee beans because I already drank the ones that came last week – pic here

Today’s total word count: 565

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 10 445

Progress on:  Finished second knitting project for the year (2015 To Do List), Published The Female Factory (print and ebook), started on Garden Project 2015 (I guess)


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December 8   Galactic Suburbia Ep112

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In which we help you with your (possibly last minute) Christmas shopping with a ton of our favourite recommendations from the year, plus culture consumed.

Don’t forget to send us your recommendations for the GS Award: for activism and/or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction

Christmas gift suggestions!!

  Alisa: Soapasaurus; Ancient Arts Yarn
  Alex: Orphan Black. Abhorsen trilogy (plus prequel), Garth Nix. Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter. Hav, Jan Morris. Rupetta, Nike Sulway.
  Tansy: Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal, G.Willow Wilson; Teen Titans Go; Dimetrodon, The Doubleclicks; The Musketeers (BBC 2014); Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction
TPP: Drowned Vanilla! Secret Lives of Books; The Female Factory, Kaleidoscope, The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories; Perfections;
  Other Personal Stuff to PluG: The GS Scrapbook, The Twelfth Planet Press Tab, Musketeer Space
  What Culture Have we Consumed?
  Alisa: Scrivener; Monstrous Affections edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant; Champagne and Socks (Alisa’s personal blog)
  Alex: The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss; Troll: A Love Story, Joanne Sinisalo; Uncanny #1; finished Project Bond.
  Tansy: Young Avengers 2: Family Matters; Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways; Young Avengers Presents, The West Wing, Chicks Dig Gaming, Jennifer Brozek & Robert Smith?
 Have a great summer… even if it’s winter where you live.
 Please send feedback to us at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

Today’s drink: Ice cold water with a splash of lime – pic here

Today’s total word count: 1510

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 9860

Progress on:  Craft room; finished a knitted hat; baby taking more first steps; decluttered front room; Week 2, Day 1 of C25K

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Thursday, featured an excerpt from Lisa Hannett and Angela Slatter’s story “Vox” from their forthcoming collection The Female Factory. You can read the teaser here.

I’m getting pretty excited to see this volume of The Twelve Planets in print. I’ve signed off on the printer’s proofs and am expecting the books to arrive next week some time. I’m sure it will be Wednesday as that is the least convenient day for me to be getting a delivery. We’ve got a few more things happening head of the release date. Can’t wait to share!





I got lost in what words I’d written when this week and couldn’t do my tallies. This one is just the tallies to this morning (aka up til yesterday) so that I can keep track and moving forward.

Today’s drink: New coffee blend – Rose Street

Today’s total word count: 5042

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 8350

Progress on: Baked breakfast muffins for next week and a zucchini slice for the baby; almost completed the craft WIP audit for 2015; soil improver delivered (Garden Project).



December 5   Grey skies

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Rough counselling session yesterday. Rough in the sense that there were more questions than answers, more work to be done. Maybe that’s not so different to usual but it’s the first time in a very long  while (maybe since I first started seeing her) that my next appointment is in two weeks and not a month. And worse, it’s possible what I’m having is an existential crisis – what is the point of life? Etc. And I’m guessing that’s not a quick fix.

I have no idea why this post is so hard to write. I’ve been working on it all week. Balance is a weird thing. Or maybe it’s not weird at all. Maybe it’s a completely fictional concept. Something to strive for but to be okay about never actually getting. That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert thinks – that it’s just another bullshit way to make women feel bad about themselves – and I kinda think she’s onto something with that. That’d be because I’ve been feeling bad about myself lately. I spent all last week down, and pretty frustrated, at me, at things, at the lack of time in a week. People say “but hey you had a BABY last year” and that’s true, I did. And they say “don’t worry [about your laundry, the state of your house, what you eat, what you look like etc etc]” but they don’t really mean that, do they? They still judge you, your house, why you haven’t done whatever it is they think is the thing you should have already done by now.

I’ve been frustrated. Frustrated that I don’t have enough time and that I won’t ave enough time in the year to come to get everything I want to get done done. Sure the obvious response to that is “move your deadlines” but the problem is that I don’t want to. I also don’t want to deprioritise anything. Frustrated that my brain feels like it doesn’t work the way it used to.

I work after the baby goes to sleep for the night. If she goes down at 6pm, I can get maybe 6 hours straight of working done. I have Skype meetings with coeditors in this time. I do my work and my research. And really, 6 hours is a pretty good chunk of time. Sure I might be trying to squeeze some me time in then too but what am I? Greedy? The problem is that I still have a pretty severe case of baby brain. I still have gaps in my vocabulary and my brain still doesn’t work as sharply. It *feels* like it doesn’t work as fast, but maybe that’s just that I have less actual time in the day and I’m still expecting the same output (or the same output plus 20%). But last week. Oh last week. Everything I touched after 9.30pm, I broke. And I mean really broke. I ended up screwing a book up so badly it had to be remade 3 times. I had tided my craft cupboard into one worthy of a pic on any self-respecting Pinterest board and in one rash decision to resize the shelving spaces, the entire contents ended up in a Hoarders Buried Alive mountain on the floor in front of it due to a horrible miscalculation of structural integrity. There might have been tears.

Meh. Things got dire. I’m pretty down on my myself, on everything I’m trying to get done, on all the things on my to do list that even a year won’t be enough time to do. On all the things I’m not getting done. On the state of my house, my studies, my press, my unfinished craft. You name it, I suck at it. And how. My lovely husband booked me a night away in a hotel. I suspect I was getting a tad stressful to be around. It was a nice moment to try and short circuit my downwards spiral.

I’m not in a great headspace. And I can see where this all leads and I can tell you that I ain’t sliding back into the abyss. I’ve got me a pretty overstuffed bag of tricks here to fight back with. The abyss might be waving at me but I’m flipping it the bird. Last week I skipped all social activities and that was bullshit. This week I’ve done better at that and gone to mothers’ group and hung out with people who get a lot of this.

On Monday, I woke up and decided to start running again. It’s so weird how you can just not feel like doing something like running for two years and then suddenly change your mind. I’ve been trying to do (any) one of the 12WBT workouts for weeks now and just can’t find myself enthused. Michelle Bridges even has a learn to run program but I’ve never had much success following it. I decided to return to the Couch to 5k program because I’ve done it before and kinda loved it. Plus I already had the app on my phone. And OMG it felt great. I live about 1km from the ocean so I had this delicious breeze which just smelt and tasted revitalising. My tunes (I went for the Pitch Perfect soundtrack) reminded me how much I love music. And as I threw myself into that first run, which wasn’t too bad at all, I remembered that this is exactly the way to fend off frustration and depression.

I’ve made some progress this week. I finally managed to get my grand garden project off the ground. I’ve taken my before photos and today the first delivery of soil improver has been dumped on my front lawn ready for next week. Step 1 will happen and from there, step 2, hopefully, to get some lawn in. I’ve nearly finished organising my craft cupboard and started work on my 2015 to do list (as in how to tackle some of it). I started running. I’ve cut down on the coffee I’ve been drinking and increased drinking water. I sent a book to Print. I’ve worked on ebooks and other books in progress. I had a great meeting with my Phd Supe. I’ve taken some podcast workshops and set other things up. Progress has happened. I’m still not in a great headspace but I can see a way forward, at least. I’m not going down without a fight.

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November 28   New book title

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Last night saw the publication of our fifth title for the year, and the first of our new Classics Reprint line – an ebook reprint of Rosaleen Love’s The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories. A collection that was published by the Women’s Press in 1989. I’ve been coming across Love’s work as I do data entry into my database for my PhD research into the overview picture of Australian small press over time. The very early anthologies (in the 70s and 80s) didn’t really include very many women within them but Rosaleen Love was a name that often appeared. I’ve also heard a lot of people mention her as one of the greats in our field and I was there – I think it was Natcon in Adelaide? – when she was awarded the Chandler award for her lifetime achievement in Australian science fiction. Having worked with her on her volume for the Twelve Planets, Secret Lives of Books – which is just so witty, and sharp and feminist – I just had to get my hands on more of her fiction. I was lucky enough to snag a paperback copy of The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories via Phill Berrie’s ebay store but I haven’t managed to get a copy of Evolution Annie yet.


It just seemed like Love’s work should be more widely and readily available. I approached her about doing an ebook version of them and she was happy to hand the task over. She’d been looking into it herself but only had hard copies of her work. And the job seemed insurmountable. Not so for us because of lovely people who help out at Twelfth Planet Press. David McDonald kindly scanned her books and then Elizabeth Disney took a fine tooth comb through the converted files – no easy task, there was lots of garble (if you’re looking for a proofer, she is without a doubt outstanding, and for hire! ) to come up with cleaner manuscripts which Rosaleen then went through to do a final proof. Rosaleen also wrote a new introduction for The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories which is really cool, I think, to be able to come back to a work 25 years later and add new perspective.

I’m so glad I got to work on this book – I did the final final line edits and got to enjoy these stories from the ground. She’s just such a strong and unique science fiction voice in the Australian field. I’m also so happy she agreed to write new stories for the Twelve Planets. We’re still working through a similar process for her second collection Evolution Annie. And when we’ve got that out, we’re teaming up with Aqueduct Press who have Love’s third collection, The Traveling Tide, in print, to offer the ultimate Rosaleen Love bundle of all four of her collections in ebook. (Early adoptions can get an upgrade to the bundle once it’s out.)

If I had to pick a favourite story in The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories, and it would be very hard, I think it might be  “The Tea Room Tapes” which opens:

In every department up and down the country there is a crisis. It’s a scandal, and the cover-up is even worse. People don’t want it known, their inability to run a tea club. Or else others might start to wonder at their ability to run the country.

It all started the day the tea lady didn’t turn up with the morning tea. There have been some cutbacks, amalgamations and rationalisations round here lately. Or redundancies, sackings, lay-offs and push-outs. But when the tea lady goes, that’s serious. Any one of us could be next.

No tea! No biscuits! Farewell to morning coffee! No warmth, no comfort! End of civilisation as we know it!

‘No work!’ said the juniors, mutinous.

‘No pay,’ said Mr Humphries, the boss.

‘Oh, all right,’ said the juniors, easily browbeaten, returning empty and forlorn to their keyboards.

The next stage was the

MEMO: Meeting.

SUBJECT: Tea crisis.

ATTENDANCE: One, the secretary Cathy, and she said she was only there to take the minutes. No one else came. They knew they’d be dobbed in to organise a roster, so they all stayed away. With the very best excuses.

So, there’s nothing else for it but

ACTION: Ask Cathy to bring in milk each day on her way to work.

RESPONSE: No dice.

Dear Mr Blazer,

Re Terms and Conditions of Employment of Secretaries: Secretaries are no longer the lackeys of the bosses. They cannot and will not pop down to the corner shop on the whim of the management. Gee, Mr Blazer, sorry about this, but the boys in the union won’t let me.




CONSEQUENCE: Rampant individualism on milk front.

Four weeks later, forty quarter-litre cardboard milk cartons in the fridge, with green furry things sprouting from them and a smell that underlines what’s rotten in yet another failure of departmental collective action.

Fridge a symbol of general decline of department under regime of cutbacks, lay-offs, sackings and redundancies. Entire department is composed of slime moulds and green furry things sprouting dusty antennae in vain attempt to keep ear well to ground whence rumours of cutbacks, lay-offs etc., spring.


Or maybe, “The Children Don’t Leave Home Any More”

The children don’t leave home any more. They stay on and expect to be loved, once they are well into the age of reason. They may make various attempts at escape, smiling and waving with joy the first time they take off, butterflies from the cocoon. Six months later back they come, bringing their live-in lovers and their dogs.

I wake in the morning and I find strange bodies on the floor of my house, people I have yet to meet over morning coffee. They lie curled up in sleeping bags or on the couch, back to the womb, my womb, though I cannot recollect I ever gave them birth. They are warm and comfortable, and sheltered, and my children’s friends.

I have friends, too, and my friend Jean thinks it is ridiculous. She tells me I am a doormat, a convenience and a dill. She never had children of her own, she says, because she saw what a trial they were to other people.

‘I rather like it,’ I tell her.

‘In my day, Marion,’ she replied, ‘if you wanted sex, you had to leave home for it, and that was that.’

‘Ah, the good old days!’

‘Next it’ll be grandchildren, and you’ll find yourself running a crèche.’

She may be right.

Or maybe  “Bat Mania”

Here are some of the characteristics of the old bat:

1   She must be female.

2   She must have lost her looks, even if she’s the last person to know.

3   She must still regard herself as a person with rights, as someone whose voice should be heard, whose part should be understood, whose virtues should be appreciated, whose merit should be noted.

4   She doesn’t know the time is past for such demands.

5   She doesn’t know she must sit still and not be any bother to anyone, or else they will scheme to get rid of her and replace her by a dolly bird of nineteen plus, but not too much past that magic age of shimmering tights and playful demeanour.

Or the stories that are very science based – I have such a similar background to Love with my science studies and I just love her stories set on or about the ocean. I’m such a fangirl of her work I may very well chase down her nonfiction books on reefscapes because I’m interested in that too!

In any case, I’m delighted to have been able to republish The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories and I really hope other people enjoy it too. And I am so grateful to the help (and patience) of Amanda, Charles, David and Elizabeth who worked hard to bring this book to being too.


Today’s drink: Afternoon Tea from Monstrositea – pic here

Today’s total word count: 435

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 3308

Progress on: Published The Total Devotion Machine and Other Stories, further progress on organisation of the spare room, took baby to gymbaroo.


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November 26   Where to start?

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I don’t even know if there’s any point taking the mind map I did of goals I’d like to focus on for 2015 and turning it into a list. I think it might just be quicker to work off the 2013 one. Of the 25 items on that list, I can tick off “Commence PhD” but I guess trade it for something PhD related. I can cross off the “Through Splintered Walls Art Project” cause we did that one – thanks to Lee Battersby. A couple of others could be rolled into themselves and I might leave learning how to use a sewing machine for another year. But you know, that takes the 2013 list down to like 20.

I could sit here and feel crappy about myself or I could crack on. I’m of course going for the third option which is a feeling crappy about myself/cracking on combo. Looking at my to do list, with 2 more years of striving to practice GTD under my belt, I realise these are not goals. They’re *at best* vision statements. Maybe. They’re feelings in the direction of wanting to have achieved something with no real way of either doing or auditing the done. No wonder almost none of them got done. I’ve decided to spend the last month of the year (what? we’re not in December yet? Are you sure?) preparing to be able to be awesome in 2015 aka set myself up for success.

I picked one item on the list at random and am in the process of defining the “what” in order to be able to start some SMART goals and figure out the “how” or the “what next”? And then I’ll work through the rest one at a time. This’ll be fun, no?

First up, this great goal: “Reduce fabric stash”. I’m rewriting it to be “Finish quilting WIPs” and am also going to allow the starting of new projects as per below. So, first focus is to finish things that are started but also to work on projects I’ve been meaning to do. I like starting things, I like the thrill of the New Project. As it happens, I also like finishing things. So in theory, a nice balance between the two should be great. I’ve actually only ever finished one quilting project. I was thinking to myself the other day that it might be enthusing to have other projects I’ve finished about the house and in use to encourage me to push past the less fun jobs to finish projects?

The obvious question was, “What are my WIPs?” The answer to this question nicely dovetails into another MUCH BIGGER task elsewhere on this 2015 list and involved sorting out my craft room cupboard(s). This meant I had to be able to get into the damn room in the first place so some tidying up did happen there. And now I am in the process of pulling everything else, cataloguing/itemising it and defining it. Is it reference material? Tools? On a Someday Maybe list? My cross stitch WIPs got catalogued and put away. They aren’t a 2015 to do. Some nice clear borders have been erected. And in a post to come, I’ll have a lovely photo of my newly organised craft cupboard (it’s still in progress and I have to do my Knitting WIPs list first).

But here is the Quilting WIPs list, in three photos. I pulled out everything and stacked related things on my dining table. This was an interesting process in itself. I found myself thinking, “Wow, this isn’t as many projects as I thought.” So that was one obstacle overcome. And then I realised that that was a double edged obstacle – I thought it was more, so hadn’t tackled it, when I realised it was less, I worried what I would do if I finished all of these. Yes, I worry about being finished with things and having nothing to do. Seriously. I’ve even slowed down on the Solstice quilt because I can’t imagine what I will do when I’m not working on it anymore. So many years in therapy, so many more to go.

Here’s the final list:



That gives me at least a starting point to audit back to at the end of the year. I’m already further ahead than in 2012! At least now I’ll know if the number of to do items doesn’t change but the actual to do items does. And facing up to what this list actually looks like, not a small task, I’ve realised fabrics I like but currently have no plans for should not be considered, nor listed as, “projects”. And thanks to Anna, I now have an “Orphans” box so the hexagons in the lower right hand corner went there instead of as a “I should do something with these WIP”.

I also found large pieces of fabric that I’d bought during sales. These got assigned to completed quilt tops, which got sized and I now have a Next Action list for Spotlight/Textile Traders to buy wadding. I was also a bit surprised to find the Friendship quilt, the Monochrome and the Charm quilt tops were all smaller than I’d remembered. Quilting them might not be quite as scary as I’d imagined.

My current tasks for this now are:

  • creating a fabric stash filing system to separate actual projects from vague ideas and inspirations
  • shopping trip for supplies
  • sort out Next Actions for remaining projects (I could just leave them all on a Projects list and come back and pick one out one by one but I have a feeling knowing what the next action is on each before I file them away will mean a greater chance I come back and pick up the next project. Figuring out where you were up to or knowing there was a problem and you abandoned instead of solved are big obstacles to finishing)
  • finish organising the craft cupboard


Today’s drink: Austral Tea from Monstrositea – pic here

Today’s total word count: 772

Year Total running word tally from (Nov 24): 1360

Progress on: 2015 Quilting goals.





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A photo posted by Alisa (@girliejonesadventures) on

As the year winds down, I ramp up. I like to approach the new year the same way as a holiday – clear all the decks so that it’s all fresh in the new year. There’s nothing worse than coming home after a really lovely and relaxing holiday to house a full of chores not yet done and mess. So in the lead up to a holiday, or any trip really,  I work pretty focused to cross off more things on my lists than I normally would if it was just a regular week or month. I like to leave the place with clean spaces and done to do lists. And I’m like that with the end of the year. By about November I’m kinda done with the year but I don’t want to take any of unfinished stuff into January with me. I want to start the new year afresh and clear of backlog. Or that’s the dream, anyhow.

This year I’m particularly drowning in backlog. I’m still publishing books, which I HATE. I really like to have all my books out by now. I had a baby and things got slowed down a bit this year. But I don’t want to take 2014 things with me into 2015 so I’ve been working hard to draw lines under tasks and cross things off my lists. I’ve been working hard this month (and I’m not done but…)

Now, I’m starting to get my head into the planning-for-the-next-year stage. December for me is the silly season in that that’s what’s swirling around me. It never really feels like I’m in it, so I get to take a little time out from the world – because I’m not invested in the goings on. December, for me, is all about the conclusion of the year. I like to spend my time trying out the limited edition Lindt balls (sea salt, and cappuccino ones this year!) and taking stock of what I accomplished in the past year, and think about what I want to accomplish in the coming year and write my list of resolutions.

In my tidying up – I’m determined to finish 2014 with my GTD systems at cruise control and that means empty in trays, zero inbox, clutter gone, and lists in action – I found my resolutions list for 2013. I must have written it in Paris. I remember writing one there. It also looks exactly like the one I spent yesterday crafting for 2015. Which means 1 of 2 things, either I’m crap at doing things or I never intend/ed to do these things at all. (And yes there is a third option, the list is too long for one year.)

Either way, I’m currently freaking out because – because I need to find about 50 more hours in my week, I’m not ok with admitting that’s impossible and I still WANT to do all those things on the list. C says I need to admit that I can’t do all those things because otherwise I will never be happy. But what if I can’t ever be happy because I do want to do all those things (and can’t)?

Today, I think it’s something worse than that. I think I have a short attention span and I forget that I wanted to do something. I’m pretty sure I forgot that I was doing NaNoWriMo for most of last week and either didn’t write words or just forgot to track those I did. I’ll be honest, I’ve often declared a new project or regimen here on this blog (or in previous incarnations) and then just wandered off, completely having forgotten. I always thing those “post a photo every day for X days” or “posts of daily gratitude”  look like great projects but I’m pretty sure I would forget I was doing it. Or maybe not forget it’s just that I have about 26 (not exaggerating, they’re on a list on my fridge) of things I want to do every day. And it’s really hard to regularly do that many things. Sure, I could not do that many and just commit to one or two but that’s not really the theme of this post. Or how I roll. I want do All. The Things.

Back to my freak out.

I feel like I need to have a plan if I really do mean to do all these things on my 2015 resolutions list. Or else, admit that I don’t mean to do them at all. But plans are scary to draw up because they make you realize the reality of how little (free) time there is in a day and what is physically (im)possible to do. I don’t want to really craft a year long plan because I truly believe I will either a) not follow it or b) not actually be able to do more than 1 or 2 things on my wish list if I follow SMART goals.

But that can’t be true, can it?

Meanwhile I’ve spent the last two days flopping about realizing I suck because I never actually DO or FINISH anything. Does anyone else suffer from that kind of panic? I’m mad at myself about that and not sticking to the commitments I make with myself. And I actually don’t want to find the exact same to do list as resolutions for 2016 at the bottom of my inbox. So in true Piscean style, I’m going to both beat myself up for sucking for not finishing anything and also devise a plan, or a series of plans, for 2015 to turn this around. I’m going to track some of those as per below – I need to destash my tea collection, I’ve got a word count goal to come and I want to have something positive to say that shows I’m moving forward every day.


Today’s drink (photo above): ice cold water with a splash of lime (delish)

Today’s total word count: 588

Progress on: Sorting, organising and rationalising my fabric cupboard and my 2015 Quilting goals.

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November 24   Galactic Suburbia 111

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In which we try to fix the world and don’t even fix ourselves, but progress is being made (we hope). You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia.

On the World Fantasy Awards

A couple of links to the big recent internet discussion we didn’t want to try to explain via podcast:
Laura J Mixon
Tessa of Silence Without

What we talk about instead: general issues arising from recent controversies & discussions

Industry bullying & threatening – why people who threaten to blacklist you probably can’t.
On Being Complicit
On Back Channels & the Broken Step
Do We Do Enough & What Else Can Be Done?

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Tansy: Sleepy Hollow #1 (Noelle Stevenson), Gotham Academy #1, Batgirl 35, Young Avengers: Sidekicks
Alex: Interstellar; Haven season 3; the Great Rosetta and Philae saga.
Alisa: We’re not even going to tell you, you have to listen. But it is pretty out there.

Please send feedback to us at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon ( and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!


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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, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon ( 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

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, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon ( 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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