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:

Presentation1

 

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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Shownotes

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 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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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

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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:

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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.
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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.

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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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