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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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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.



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:


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.


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


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.


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 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:










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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is actually reasonable?

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

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

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

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

First up, the blocks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And something else.

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

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

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

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

Happy Friday!

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

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

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

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

Children? Of course…

See what I mean?

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

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

and Silver Lane (block 79)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Indeed that does sound cosy!

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

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

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

Block 26: Cut Glass Dish

54: Kitchen Woodbox

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

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

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

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I promised myself as reward for finishing publishing projects X and Y, I could start playing with a new project. Well … I finished project X yesterday and maybe setting myself the goal of finishing two books in one day was a tad overreaching. So … I’m going to play with this new project anyhow.

On the weekend I popped in to the Perth Quilt and Craft Fair (and by that I mean that my husband shoehorned me out of my pjs and dropped me at the train station to make me go). I had a quick race around all the stalls – a lot of them are the same each year and this year I’m not feeling the buying things without a project intent. I grabbed some tools and ok, maybe some fat quarters just because.


I then wandered through the quilt exhibition and enjoyed quite a few quilts. I really liked this one, which looked like a really example of the kind of version of Farmer’s Wife Sampler that I want to try (more on that in a bit).


And then I had a chat to a friend who pointed out one of the special quilts on display – a Dear Jane quilt. And this is possibly the thing that made the whole event for me. The Dear Jane quilt is very similar to the Farmer’s Wife – it’s a pattern of sampler blocks, in this case it reproduces an original quilt made by Jane A. Blakely Stickle, and finished in 1863. The one on display at the Quilt and Craft fair was made by Angela Davis and made out of a collection of Liberty Fabrics over time and using a technique I’d never heard of before called Quilt As You Go (QAYG). This is quilting each block as you finish it and then sewing them together at the end and voila quilt is done! She had used the fabric she used in each block as the backing for it. This meant that the back was a gorgeous display of the collection of fabrics. This really appealled to me in the sense that if you use fabrics you’ve been specially collecting, it’s a nice solution to the cutting it all up to use it problem. Also, I LOVE the idea of QAYG because I hate quilting so much that I not finished any of my quilts yet. I have a nice pile of finished tops. I think I could attack quilting just one block at a time and also I assume this would give me the chance to improve across the project.

You see where this is all going, don’t you?

The eagle eyed will have already noticed I went and bought myself some fancy quilting thread before I left the show.

Some time ago, I bought myself a copy of the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt. I loved the idea of it – a sampler quilt with a block each dedicated to a letter that was written to the competition run by the magazine The Farmer’s Wife: A Magazine for Farm Women in 1922 to answer the question, if you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you want her to marry a farmer? I’ve never actually been particularly interested in sampler quilts, they look so busy to me. But I love the idea of a quilt with a story and I thought it would also be a good opportunity to try a bunch of traditional blocks (yes, that is the point of a sampler quilt, ahem). And so the book has been on my shelf for a year or two as I’ve wondered how to make this project work.

On the weekend I decided that it might be fun to actually do this quilt. And do it with intent – as a blogging project. I also think it might be the best solution to try and use my fashion fabrics I’ve been collecting which I don’t want to cut up, and would rather have displayed in some way, yet don’t want to do straight blocks with borders with them. But they also don’t really all work in one cohesive colourway. The sampler quilt might get around that. Plus I get to keep the pieces whole for the backing and maybe improve my quilting.

The fabrics I’m thinking of using (funny how the collection wasn’t actually as many fabrics as I had thought I had, in my mind).


In 2013, I picked up the Jinny Beyer Block of the Month project in 2013 with the idea that I would like to have a project where I finish one block on a regular basis. At the time I was knitting more than I am now. But when I’d been part of quilting circles, they had kept me honest about working on a smaller project and finishing it each month. And I really liked that.

So here it is. The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt Project – it’s about 111 blocks, each 6 inches. I’m going to work on finished 2 a week which makes this a one year long project. And I’m going to post the finished blocks every Friday (is the goal) and read the excerpts of the letters as I go along.

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Alisa, Alex and Tansy invite all our listeners to join us as we celebrate our 100th episode of Galactic Suburbia in time-honoured tradition, with cake!

Alisa is eating Golden Gaytime cheesecake. Tansy is eating orange sour cream cake. Alex combined them both to create chocolate orange cheesecake! Let us know what kind of cake you ate while listening to the podcast! If you’d like to enter our cake logo contest, please send a picture of your Galactic Suburbia themed cake to us by email or Twitter by the 27th May!

NEWSThe Norma Shortlist includes some Twelfth Planet Press books!

Alisa recently announced the Kaleidoscope TOC, and may be launching Rosaleen Love’s book Secret Lives of Books at Continuum.

Hugo Packet – Orbit UK not including the novels.
Tansy news: upcoming reread column & web serial
The Galactic Suburbia scrapbook available soon for download.Listen to the episode for giveaway codes. Free books!

Limited editions second print run for Love & Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts. Let Alisa know now if you want one of these – she’s printing them for London.

What Culture Have we Consumed?
  Alex: Hav, Jan Morris; Graceling, Kristin Cashore; so much Fringe. And Orphan Black. No more Comixology for me.
  Tansy: Captain America: Winter Soldier; Gravity; Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Saga 3
  Alisa: OMG I AM IN EDITING/PROOFING ARMAGEDDON – Kaleidoscope almost ready to drop and Secret Lives of Books! And …. Tea and JeopardyGalactic Suburbia highlights.

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Spoilerific Special – Orphan Black

Alisa and Alex welcome you to Clone Club! That is, an incredibly spoilerific discussion of the first season of Orphan Black. If you haven’t watched it yet (it’s only 10 episodes), we’ll be right here when you’re through.

Things we discuss: the clones themselves (and we do use the c-word); representations of motherhood; whether and how the show is SF; the various characters – and their diversity – as well as a rather large amount of gushing love for the show overall.

We really mean it about the spoilers.

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

Download the episode from here




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As Galactic Suburbia approaches our 100th episode – that’s about 150 to 200 hours of talking about specfic publishing news and chat! with a feminist bent – we’ve been working on a thing. Last week I found myself reviewing our Spoilerific Book Club episode on Joanna Russ, recorded way back in July 2011. In that episode, on discussion on a chapter in How to Suppress Women’s Writing, I made this comment about gatekeepers:

…  other than when a lot of the male gatekeepers are actively pushing women – for example the Science Fiction Mistressworks or when they’re actually talking about it – I’m still listening whether or not you’ve forgotten to talk about women, I’m still listening as a woman and I hear you not talking about women.  And I hear those gatekeepers and they meet and they review, they talk about what was brilliant this year and unless they actively switch on that “Whoops!  We better talk about women!” they actually revert back to Paolo Bacigalupi and Ian McDonald and blah, blah, blah, and you forget about women.  “And I know, … Mary Robinette Kowal she’s really good better mention her.” It’s what she talks about in The Female Man, where it’s lip service and it’s not real and I think she talks about it in this book too: unless you actually push yourself beyond your own boundaries you will stay in the centre, the dead centre.  And it’s not true that women aren’t writing, it’s that you don’t notice them because you don’t think they are as good, and that’s not changed in forty years.

We’ve been talking about this subject for a long time – I’ve been actively involved in the ongoing discussion since, I dunno? 2005, maybe? I didn’t invent it. I didn’t invent the arguments. Joanna Russ wrote The Female Man in 1970. Women have been writing letters to the editor since the beginning of the pulp magazines way back in the 30s.

At Swancon this year, I took the opportunity to have a little celebration about the Twelve Planets project. I spoke about it on the night and talked about the political motivations of the project. Back in 2009/2010, we were really having a lot of conversations about the gender imbalance of awards ballots. Here some graphs I prepared earlier.

The Ditmar novel winners by gender is perhaps the most damning. In 2009, when we were having this discussion, 4 women in the history of the award had won. And then another woman won in 2010 to make it the first time a woman won in a consecutive year. This is particularly interesting given that the Ditmars are a popular vote, determined by the community. This is what we as a community think. That in 50 years there were only 4 novels written by women that were worthy of winning.

Ditmar novel winners column

Here’s a different pie chart. This one looks at lifetime achievement awards. These can be awarded by a panel or by a single person. There are a few awards mixed up in here and each award is independent of the others.

Population of Achieve Awards

Or another way, let’s take say the Peter McNamara Award, here are the winners by gender:
Peter Mac Winners

And here is the breakdown of gender of the judges (one person is asked each year to choose a worthy winner):

Peter Mac Judges

From this, we might deduce that men really dig the career achievements of men. But actually some years a female judge has awarded a male winner.

The breakdown of the Chandler Award is even more profound:


This gives some of the context of finding myself sitting in a Mt Lawley cafe one fine day in 2009 with Jonathan Strahan discussing such things – the lack of women winners, whether this pertained to the quality of their writing or perhaps how much they write.  Maybe it’s just that men write more? The discussion has a lot of aspects to it, but on that day, this is how this discussion went, below is an excerpt from the speech I gave last month at Swancon:

This project has been quite a ride. It was conceived way back in 2009 when we were having many discussions on the male dominance of awards shortlists and whether this related to how much new fiction by women was or was not being published. Jonathan said to me, well, if you really believe in Australian female writers, why don’t you publish a whole lot of it in one go and see what happens. If you don’t think there are enough women being collected, why don’t you release a collection a month? This is when I realized I needed to stop drinking so much when I hung out with him.

And so the Twelve Planets project came into being. I chose a variety of female writers for it – well known writers, writers I had enjoyed working with before, writers I wanted to work with, talented writers I wanted to draw attention to. It’s been a really interesting project for a whole lot of reasons. Each writer was given 20 – 40 000 words that were to be in 4 stories. Some wrote to the minimum and some to the maximum word count. Some wrote a suite of interconnected stories, some wrote to a theme, some wrote entirely unconnected non-themed collections. What was interesting was what each writer wrote when given the opportunity to write *anything* they wanted and know it would be sold. Novellas that are really hard to sell became a bit of regular sight (I love novellas). Margo Lanagan gave me a very Australian work taking the chance to write something that would be less sellable to overseas markets. Someone asked me at Swancon when trying to choose a volume, which ones weren’t horror and I have to say, actually only a few. I had to coin a sales phrase of “soft horror” :P

So then, what of the experiment? The original idea was to publish all 12 in one year, one a month. I pulled back from that because I was still doing short print runs rather than POD and the whole project was costed at about $25k. It also turns out that life happens and writing takes time (who knew?). We’ve published 9 so far. And here’s the awards results tally:

  • 14 Aurealis Award nominations and 4 wins
  • 16 Ditmar nominations and 3 wins
  • a Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award
  • a World Fantasy Award nomination
  • 2 Shirley Jackson Award nominations and 1 win
  • 2 15th placings and 1 7th placing in the Locus Awards
  • 5 Australian Shadows Award shortlistings and 2 wins
  • 1 Tiptree Award longlisting
  • and 1 ACT Writers and Publishers Award

Though the full awards cycle relating to volumes 8 and 9 has not yet played out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means, in the context of the original dare, I mean conversation, with Jonathan. The project itself, when I stand back and view the stories of all 12 volumes as one project – 50 stories in all – is a really interesting narrative.  It’s one I’m very proud of. And at the same time, we’ve seen a shift in the way the awards play out. Perhaps voters and readers became more conscious of their habits? Perhaps women suddenly started writing. Perhaps women suddenly started getting good at writing? Certainly my own project suggests that if you support women and provide avenues for their fiction, they write at a very high standard.

But I still didn’t really know what it all means.

And then yesterday, I came across an article that was written about the State of Play in Australian specfic. It was split in two, one section dealing with SF and F and the other dealing with Horror. This latter half of the article was presented as an authoritative snapshot of the Australian Horror scene right now. It listed several Aussie small presses and talked about some of the writers. However, it omitted Twelfth Planet Press completely.

My response was to raise this, via a medium I regret – Twitter. I regret that as in order to get your point across you need several 140 character tweets and that is cumbersome and confronting. I’ve had great multiplayer conversations on Twitter before. I don’t think I’d rate this as one of those.

There’s long been discussion about the gender imbalance in Horror, not just in Australia, but I’ve certainly been keeping an eye on it at home. Here’s an example, Midnight Echo is the flagship magazine to showcase the writers belonging to the Australian Horror Writers Association. Here’s the gender balance of the fiction they have published. So far, no woman has edited the magazine solo and only two women have edited it at all. (However, Kaaron Warren is to edit the next issue.)

But you know, maybe women don’t write great horror? Maybe they don’t submit? Here’s some other stats from Midnight Echo,


But this is very interesting, if we look at the Aurealis Awards winners for Horror Novel over time, only 1 ballot has ever had more novels written by women than men on it:

Aurealis Horror shortlists column

Yet, the women who do make it onto the shortlist seem to write ok:

Aurealis Horror Novel winners

However, my response of pointing out that I found it “interesting” that my press and the Twelve Planets were neglected from the state of play of the current Horror scene was a kind of shock at watching exactly how women just go unmentioned and the goalposts get moved to work around them, quietly excising them from the discussion. The Horror portion of the article in quiestion has since been updated by the author to include TPP and also this particular paragraph has been reworked:

The Australian genre literary scene is full of nationally- and world-renowned Australian horror writers such as Cat Sparks, Kaaron Warren, Lucy Sussex, Sean Williams, Rocky Wood, the wonderful Will Elliott, Sara Douglass (vale), and Amanda Pillar.

My issue with this paragraph, and with the article itself, is not that it failed to namecheck women, many women were in fact namechecked. But what was interesting to me was when the adjective “horror” is omitted from the above sentence, as it originally was, it renders all the names after it as outside of the pool of “horror writers”. It’s an example of this moving the goalposts. I’m always incredulous to see that done. It’s just one word but completely changes the meaning. And sure, call me sensitive, narcissistic, ambitious, a case of sour grapes, attention seeking, (all words we like to use in the direction of women we don’t like and never used in the direction of men for similar actions) and emotional (which interestingly was how my response was characterised – decide for yourself) etc but this piece and this conversation don’t exist in a vacuum, don’t exist without a history and context.

The thing is, I came full circle back to that conversation I had with Jonathan that day in 2009. Because the argument had been – well you need to publish more women and then they will win more awards – and I set out to do and achieve that and then … women were still omitted from the discussion. In other words, it didn’t matter what I did, or maybe how many or how prestigious the awards were that women in Australia win, they are still going to be written out of/forgotten about in the conversation. (It occurs to me that Jonathan’s suggestion might work in a patriarchal world order for men.)

My discussion with the author of the article revealed that he did not do it intentionally, and I believe him. He had not in fact read our work. It’s not like this was for Wikipedia or for an academic journal or an historical assessment and recording of the scene for all time. But actually, both these things are exactly the point. The way women are rendered invisible from history is by this unintentional omission from the narrative we tell each other about ourselves and our history. Gatekeepers pass on the information and it’s heard and repeated down the line. And when someone asks you off the top of your head to name your favourite author or a great work, you’re likely to grasp at something easy to hand. And what’s easy to hand is what’s repeated over and over, from one person to the next, in one retelling of our scene to the next. (Quick name a famous brilliant SF female author that’s not Ursula K Le Guin! – Now, how long did that take for you to do?)

I decided long ago that if I wasn’t part of the solution, I didn’t get to complain about the problem. I consider myself a gatekeeper and I hold myself to this bit of what I said in that Galactic Suburbia podcast: “I’m still listening whether or not you’ve forgotten to talk about women, I’m still listening as a woman and I hear you not talking about women” and I gotta stand up and point it out because otherwise I’m a silent participant.

I’ve apologised to the author of the article for the way I went about speaking out. I’ve spoken on GS before about the limitations of Twitter and I feel I should have acted differently. I do though feel icky about feeling like I need to apologise for my tone in some way. The author and I have had a chat and I would like to consider us having walked away as friends. He has already reworked the article. And I appreciate that the publisher was open and willing to make those changes.

I feel sad that in the end, the whole thing kinda came full circle.

 Edited: Please note that the editor of Issue 9 of Midnight Echo let me know that there was one female writer of nonfiction in his issue which I had incorrectly attributed. Additionally, the cover art of Issue 9 was by a female artist. This was not previously captured. Both figures in this article have been updated to reflect those changes (originally the Nonfiction in Midnight Echo showed to be 100% by men and the artwork as 81% by men). I also added in the chart on the gender breakdown of the interviewees as this is not included in the Nonfiction chart. I’m interested in who is chosen to be interviewed, across magazines. That will be data I intend to present at a later date.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to have my data scrutinised and errors pointed out. I consider this process integral to the robustness of my work and as part of the peer review process of my PhD and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to correct these as I proceed.

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The latest block in the Jinny Beyer Solstice Quilt kit was a long time in coming. I must admit that I don’t enjoy the circular sewing as much (this does not bode well for my project sitting on the design wall to be finished – the New York Beauty). The other reason it took so long is because I’ve become obsessed sewing the log cabin alternate blocks. I’m driven to do nothing but sew them til they are finished. *shakes fist* The will be finished! I’ve completed 3 of the 12. 9 to go and I don’t seem interested in working on anything else really.

These fabrics photograph so well, I don’t think they look quite as spectacular on the design wall.

Course when I said I’ve been doing nothing else, that wasn’t entirely true.

MINISKEINS! OMG I LOVE miniskeins, I can’t get enough of them. So I’m making this blanket, each miniskein makes just over one of these granny squares. So colourful. At some point, I will have enough squares and I will have to stop collecting miniskeins (though once you get into a collecting jag, it’s so hard to stop – I keep forgetting I’m no longer collecting for my monochrome quilt for example). The rule is that miniskeins must be converted to squares as a top priority so that I DO NOT amass a miniskein stash.

I managed to get a pair of socks for the baby out of the leftover sock yarn from Socks #2. They don’t spend much time on baby’s feet, however.

And there this is this quilt. It’s a scrap quilt and it’s going to be the map of the Tokyo Subway from Oh Fransson. But this first block has such a long story! I thought I would be able to easily sew this without marking the squares, if I cut them all correctly with a quarter inch seam and sewed straight. I took the pieces of the first block with me to Conflux last year and then on to Tehani’s house afterwards, where I stayed for a bit of a rest up. Well, I realised about halfway into this block, at Tehani’s, that I was not in fact sewing straight and that the squares didn’t line up. So it went into the suitcase and then into the back of a cupboard for a while. A long while. Until I was doing some GTD around the house and realising that really the next action was to unpick the sewn block so far and start over. To cut out a proper template, suck it up, mark each square and move on with my life. Which I did. And then voila, block 1 below, I sewed the two halves the wrong way round. Sigh!

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