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I’m still only slowly emerging from my writer’s block. Writer’s block sucks, and I’ve been struck down by it for almost 6 months now! Bleurgh. Luckily though, that doesn’t matter when you run your own business. And books have been happening which is awesome But I am remiss in not having talked about them here.

At the moment, we are midst of our second crowdfunding campaign. This time to publish the Defying Doomsday project. Stories already acquired include authors John Chu, Seanan McGuire, Janet Edwards and Corinne Duyvis. And they’re brilliant!

City overlooking desolate desert landscape with cracked earth

“We love apocalypse fiction, but we rarely find characters with disability, chronic illness and other impairments in these stories. When they do appear, they usually die early on, or are secondary characters undeveloped into anything more than a burden to the protagonist. We believe that disabled characters have a far more interesting story to tell in post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction, and we want to create an anthology sharing those stories.

Defying Doomsday is an anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters, which will be edited by Tsana Dolichva and Holly Kench, and published by Twelfth Planet Press in mid 2016.”

We’re 9 days away from the end of the campaign and are looking today to boost the tally up over the $10k mark. Pledges tallying $751 would take Defying Doomsday to the $10k mark. Do you think we could do that today? Is that a big ask? What if I threw something in to tempt you?
How about – for every pledge today, backers will get an extra ebook novel from the list ie there are 4, if you back the Triple Ebook Deluxe, you now get ALL FOUR. Everyone else gets an extra one of their choice.
Already backed? Help us out today through signal boosting – share a Defying Doomsday post on Facebook, tweet/retweet on Twitter, hey we’d even love a blog post or Google+ shout out etc. Just send us a link (defyingdoomsday@twelfthplanetpress.com) to where you boosted our signal and we’ll get an ebook to you!
(N.B. Pledges already made today still count!) More information about the project is here: http://www.pozible.com/project/188146

We’re offering some supercool rewards. Though I have to warn you, there is only 1 mini hamper, which includes a knitted tea cosy or fingerless gloves from me, left.

Our submissions guidelines for the book have also just been released – should the Pozible campaign fully fund, Tsana and Holly will be reading from May 1.

And more on other recent TPP projects in the next post update!



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December 11   Fun stuff!

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

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

 

Hey! Felicia Day has an anounccccceeemennnnt:

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

Today’s total word count: 758

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Today’s total word count: 565

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

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

 



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November 28   New book title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘No work!’ said the juniors, mutinous.

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

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

The next stage was the

MEMO: Meeting.

SUBJECT: Tea crisis.

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

So, there’s nothing else for it but

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

RESPONSE: No dice.

Dear Mr Blazer,

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

From

Cathy

SOLUTION: BYO milk.

CONSEQUENCE: Rampant individualism on milk front.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

‘I rather like it,’ I tell her.

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

‘Ah, the good old days!’

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

She may be right.

Or maybe  “Bat Mania”

Here are some of the characteristics of the old bat:

1   She must be female.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Today’s total word count: 435

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

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

 



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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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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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October 27   New book cover!

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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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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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I’m really pleased to announce the following changes to format delivery at Twelfth Planet Press.

Since I’ve had my baby, I’ve been thinking a lot about convenience and maximising time. I’m often held up or waiting for something or sitting with a baby who needs cuddles or settling or feeding and might not have had a chance to prepare myself adequately. I want the book I’m reading to be within arms reach whether that be the print version that’s by my bed or thrown into my handbag on the way out the door or if I’m stuck on the couch or in a carpark or in a dark room at 3am and only have my laptop or iphone or ipad, I want to be able to continue reading that book. I just don’t have the predictability of habits/lifestyle anymore and all I want is to be able to access the book I’m reading no matter where I am when I get the chance to read a few pages. Otherwise, I just won’t get back to it at all. And these thoughts have prompted me to tweak some things at Twelfth Planet.

As of now, direct from our website, all our ebooks will be delivered with both epub and mobi formats. At the point of purchase download, both links will be provided and customers can choose their preferred format or to download both. (Our Twelve Planet Subscriptions have already been providing subscribers with both.)

In addition, we’ve rolled out our long intended paperback and ebook bundle option. Customers now have the option to buy the ebook version of their print book purchase for just an extra $3. And I’ve tidied up the website so that all formats are now available for each title on the one page. Hurrah!



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March 12   Guest Post

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Feminism, Anger and Silicone Dolls

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by Kirstyn McDermott

I’m cruising a forum for owners and devotees of sex dolls, checking out the For Sale board – one of my habitual research haunts – when I spot it. Someone in Australia is selling their Real Doll. She looks to be in fair to fixable condition and the asking price is only a couple thousand dollars plus shipping. An excellent price, I think, considering these ultra-realistic dolls go for upwards of US$5500 new – plus more than a grand on top to get one out to Australia. And it’s rare to be able to get a second hand doll over here. Their owners tend to hang on to them.

As I scrutinise the photographs, I’m already running numbers in my head. I’d get most of it back when I resold her, right? It’s not like I’m going to do anything that would cause further, ah, injury. I just want to touch her. Hold her. Move her. I’ve been researching these dolls for months, on and off. I know exactly how they’re made, what types of damage can be done to them, how repairs – both amateur and professional – are carried out. I know they’re supposed to be slightly tacky due to the way their silicone skin “sweats” and I know their articulated bodies can be posed in almost any natural position. I’ve seen more photos and amateur videos, in various degrees of graphic intimacy, and watched more documentaries about these dolls than I can count.

In theory, I know a lot. In practice, I know nothing.

How exactly does the silicone feel beneath your fingers? Texture? Softness? Resistance to pressure? What does it smell like? Taste like? How does it feel to handle a doll, to bear the full ungainly weight of her in your arms? These, and other less seemly questions, are the kinds I want answered. Via personal, practical experience if possible – in the name of research, of bringing the necessary verisimilitude to my story, I can justify almost anything – and here is a second hand doll just across the country. So close.

It’s too much money, I tell myself. It’s ridiculous. But if I get most of it back … Hell, if I fix her up a little before selling, I might not even lose a single dollar on the exercise … She has got a very pretty face, even beneath the peeling makeup …

You get your hands on that doll, you know you ain’t even gonna give her back.

The voice in my head is sharp, with a vague American twang. It belongs to Beryl, the lead doll in the novella on which I’m working. Beryl, who is always angry and whose commentary I’ve been hearing in my head a lot lately. It’s something I tend to do when I’m in the middle of a difficult project – and none has been more difficult than The Home for Broken Dolls – carrying characters around with me, viewing the world as they would view it, getting a good sense of their voice.

And if you did go and give her back, if you went and sold her back to them what broke her, now what would that make you?

Beryl is right. I would never re-sell the doll. And I wouldn’t know what else to do with her. This is the path that Jane, my doll-obsessed protagonist, started down and look where that led her. I’m not Jane. I’m not Beryl either. (But they are, both of them, me.) I leave the forum. Wander off instead to explore websites both less and more disturbing. In my head, Beryl is silent. I wonder if she is even angrier that I didn’t make the guy an offer on his doll. That I chose instead to abandon her. And maybe she’s right about that as well.

When I started writing The Home for Broken Dolls, the character of Beryl emerged with speed and furious certainty. Much more so than Jane, or any of the other dolls, who all needed to be coaxed and cajoled. Who needed to be found. Beryl, she found me. She became a near constant presence – not just when I was actively working on the novella, or bogged down in research, but in my daily life. I could be reading an article or news story online, reading a book, watching a movie or TV show, even having a conversation with someone, and her voice would chip in with some barbed comment, an observation full of scorn and fury and no small amount of truth.

I confess that I did try – more than once – to tone her down a little as the story developed. To soften her edges, mix in some vulnerability, add emotional – read feminine – nuance. Because no one likes an angry woman, right? Only male characters are beloved for their righteous, unrelenting fury. (Don’t agree? Provide me, please, with the male equivalent for harridan, or harpy, or shrew. Hell, provide me with one for bitch.) Thankfully, the doll resisted my attempts to reshape her. Even-tempered dialogue sounded wooden; sympathetic gestures and signifiers of fragility rang false. I stopped trying. Beryl remained, until the end, unappeasable and utterly true to herself.

And I loved her for it. I still love her for it.

At one point in the novella, Beryl is asked if she ever gets tired of being angry all the time. “Only always,” the doll replies. “But that’s why I been put here, ain’t it? I get angry, so you don’t gotta.”

I do get angry. A lot. And it makes me so very, very tired. As a woman – even as a woman with the privileges of being white, cis, presenting as straight, educated, financially stable and able-bodied – spend any amount of time online or immersed in the dominant cultural output, and you will likely become angry, frustrated and exhausted. In recent years, I’ve had to learn to pick my battles and my allies, to know when to switch off, turn away and retreat. Otherwise, self-combustion.

But I have come to value anger most highly. Both in myself and, more importantly, in those who are usually scorned for brandishing such a volatile emotion. Those who are called harpies and bitches, those who are deemed to be uppity or loud, those who are ever so helpfully chided to be mindful of their tone in polite conversation. I listen to these voices, even when they are angry, especially when they are angry, and I try to learn from them. Because sometimes when they are angry, it means I don’t gotta be. And I thank them from the bottom of my exhausted heart for that, and hope to return the favour on another day, another front.

Beryl still speaks up in my head from time to time, though not as often as she used to. Part of that is me moving on from the novella to other projects, and the natural fading from view of former central characters that accompanies such a shift. Part of it is the (re)assimilation of her self into my own. (I am not Beryl. But she is me.) My acceptance of her anger and its value, an appreciation of the power it can bring to marginalised voices. I’m still learning how to cultivate my own anger constructively, to know how to wield it and when to set it aside.

But I will never abandon it.

Anger is a feminist and feminine emotion. It doesn’t need its sharp and bloodied edges pared away. It doesn’t need to display a vulnerable underbelly, to show fragile bones between its seething skin. It doesn’t need to speak in modulated tones.

What it needs is to be heard, understood and respected.

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Kirstyn’s Twelve Planet collection Caution: Contains Small Parts is listed on Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List and shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Collection. The novella “Home For Broken Dolls” is shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story and on Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading List.

Caution: Contains Small Parts is available here and on Wizard’s Tower Books, Weightless Books, Amazon and Kobo.

 



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(Apologies for crossposting from our Kaleidoscope blog)

We’re about halfway through our fundraising period now. We want to say a really GIANT THANKS to all our lovely backers!, we’ve really been so blown away by the support and the signal boosting for this campaign. Many people have asked how this project came to be.

We started working on the Kaleidoscope project over a year ago now. I remember driving around on a Saturday afternoon, running my errands and listening to an episode of one of my favourite podcasts – The Outer Alliance. This particular episode was recorded live at WisCon and was a panel Heteronormativity in YA Dystopian Novels featuring Malinda Lo, Neesha Meminger, Katharine Beutner and Julia Rios. The discussion of this panel gave me a bit of a lightbulb moment.

I’d been struggling to read a few YA novels myself around that time – I’d recently finished the Hunger Games trilogy and had gone on to explore a few other books marketed in the same vein but I had been really struggling to finish them, let alone bond with or even like them. I was also reading Russ’ We Who Are About to… at about the same time. And listening to this panel discuss some of the books I was reading, as well as many others, really nailed down my thoughts and feelings on a lot of this recently published YA dystopian fiction. It makes absolutely no logical sense that in a postapocalyptic world, after some catastrophic event that wipes out most of the world’s population and requires a complete social reboot to jumpstart the human race’s viability, that only white, able bodied heteronormative people would survive. Even at the most basic level, what kind of catastrophe could wipe out most people, completely alter the way our reproductive systems work so that only 16 year old girls can have the babies, yet leaves everyone (who is white, straight and able bodied) otherwise completely unchanged? From an evolutionary viewpoint, why would that be the strongest pool of humanity to move forward from? Wouldn’t that leave it completely exposed to the next great catastrophe? With very little variation in the population to be robust enough to survive?

And most disturbingly, what kinds of messages are these books romanticising? How are we empowering young adult readers with books about girls at close to the age of consent being paired up to reproduce, governments choosing and match making teenagers with their marriage partners, placing youth in situations where because there is only one other person (of the opposite sex, of course) their age, they will of course fall in love and get married and make those babies. The obsession with the making of the babies, I think, got to me the most. And to some extent, I understand the appeal of these books to the intended age group, I was a 13 – 15 year old girl once upon a time, after all.

I just … I want more for the young adult reader. I want this reader to be able to see themselves as the protagonist of the stories they read. To find real escapism from reality in their fiction, where they aren’t also excluded or ostracised there too. I want young adults to be inspired, encouraged and captivated to reach for their potential, to be any one they want to be and to feel confident to be who they are and not who or what society says they should be.

And then I remembered that I’m a publisher and that means that I can do something about that. And that by not doing something, I was endorsing the status quo. I’d also been really wanting to work on a project with Julia Rios because I thought that would be fun. I reached out to her, and pitched her the beginning of an idea that evolved into Kaleidoscope. We met up at World Fantasy Con in Toronto and fleshed it out further and began working on this book.

Our main goals are to try as best we can to make this book truly diverse – both in the inclusion of writers and of the stories they tell. It’s important to us that the diverse characters within each story we publish are the heroes of their own journeys and not the support crew, ensemble cast or exoticised other in the background. We want any young adult reader to pick this book up and find a rapport with a character within the pages. And we also want to depict the world as we know it – filled with diversity, and colour and a range of life experiences, that challenge our own view points and perspectives. And most of all, this is a book intended for young adult readers. We want to get this book out and into the hands of as many young adult readers as we can – that’s a final part of this project that extends beyond the funding raising, editing and production stages.

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We are edging up on the halfway mark in our fundraising campaign. We have about two weeks left to go, and we hope to have a lot of wonderfully diverse stories to share, but we can’t do that without you! Please back Kaleidoscope on Pozible, and if you want to see this book in the world, please help us to spread the word!



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Quick! I must get in all the writing before my hands seize up again! (On the upside, I am catching up on things like proofing, slushing and reading, all of which only require the downwards arrow or the odd tweaked word here and there.)

I knew running a crowdfunding campaign would be interesting and to tell the truth, I’ve been wanting to do one for quite some time. I wanted to pick just the right project and the right timing (babies don’t actually care about such things, turns out) and I spent a lot of time observing other similar projects. After our campaign is finished, I’m planning on writing a series of blog posts talking about what we learned – it’s so much already. And also about the publishing business model and being a small press in Australia. One of the most important things that this campaign will enable me to do, is pay at the 5c per word pay rate, something that has been really out of my reach but that I have been aiming to be able to do.

In the meantime, over the weekend we reached the $4000 mark. We were so excited to reach it that we’ve offered all our early backers an extra reward. If you’re interested in claiming yours and were an early backer, give us a shout via the Pozible messages we sent out and we’ll be able to fulfill that straight away.

With just 16 days left to go, we’re hoping to reach our next milestone of $7000 soon and open to general submissions for the anthology. I just wanted to thank everyone who has pledged so far and has helped us boost the signal. We’re so excited about the stories we’ve already acquired for this book, those that we are still considering, and are looking forward to those we are yet to see or are yet to be written! Encouraging more diversity in YA fantasy offers even more scope for exciting stories to be told and read in the genre. We hope to be able to share one more book that does that with YA readers.

We’re blogging over at our Kaleidoscope blog all this month about why this project is important to us, why diversity in fiction is important to us and sharing a little bit of a sneak peek at some of the stories that will be in the book.

 

 



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The exciting news for today is that Julia Rios and I launched our Pozible campaign to fundraise for our anthology project Kaleidscope – an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy. We’ve been working behind the scenes on the Pozible campaign for ages but on the project for even longer – we had a meeting in person about it in Toronto at last World Fantasy Con but we’d been working on it even before then. It’s exciting to finally see it start to go live. I’m looking forward to working on this project – we’ve already bought 4 stories for it and we’re looking forward to reading for it. We’ll be open to submissions for the project as well, and there will be more on that later in the campaign. We’ve also got a whole bunch of content lined up for October to discuss the project and what diversity means to us.



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September 23   Maternity Leave

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So my plan was that I would work my six months on my PhD, turn in my candidacy proposal (at my uni you get accepted into the program and then you have 6 months to write your project proposal which needs to be accepted for you to gain candidacy) and then go on my mat leave Oct 1. And that meant from Twelfth Planet Press as well as my Phd. Go on leave. Hiatus. Do not work. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

And then somewhere along the line this plan became, hand in PhD proposal, go on mat leave from PhD and then finish up a whole bunch of TPP projects, have baby. I don’t really know why I haven’t accomplished more in the last 6 months, especially since I’ve been working full time on all this stuff. Which is to say, I don’t give myself slack for the fact that I felt sick for a large chunk of my pregnancy and tired for the rest of it. There was a lot of napping (!) in the beginning and now there is a lot of not sleeping and walking around in a zombified state.

(Seriously, WTF biology? In what universe does it make sense to prepare a woman to go in to a year of not sleeping with … not sleeping? Wouldn’t it make more sense to make her sleep lots?? I can’t stand it when people keep telling me to rest up and sleep now cause you won’t sleep later. Can’t fucking sleep more than 4 hours in a block of time. And OMG the discomfort. Let me tell you, 1 crying baby waking me up at night versus peeing every 3 minutes, hormones that keep me WIDE AWAKE for 19 hours a day, pain in my hands and elbows, numb fingers, not being able to sleep in any of my preferred sleeping positions, pulling muscles when trying to roll over? Yeah, uhuh. I’ll take the baby.)

Anyway, suffice to say, I got a lot less done than I thought I would. I didn’t factor in my moving more slowly. That never really occurred to me. And I still have at least 5 major projects to deliver before I deliver. And I’ve been stressed out a bit about this in the last couple of weeks. Especially since my PhD proposal is still not really in any good shape – I have 7 days left to finish it. I’m not sure if it can be done. And I have at least 3 books I’m hoping to get to print as well. Ahem. And some other stuff. And then stuff I wanted to get ahead on before I do have the sleeping in one hour blocks thing going on.

And then Thursday night happened. And as we’re driving up the freeway at 10pm, I’m thinking about what an idiot I am. And what really would be the worst case scenario if I don’t meet my deadlines. And really WTF was I thinking about not taking 6 weeks maternity leave, let alone 4? And the whole, “what would I do anyway if  I wasn’t working?” is not the real question – the question I should be asking is, what am I doing to myself, and my body by pushing so hard? And why?

So in theory, I’ve slowed down. Slowed my brain down, anyhow. I’m not going to panic about not meeting deadlines. I’m going to work when I can and do what I can and see what happens. And I’m remembering that I have people I can delegate things to and I’m working on handing that over. But you know the most annoying thing? The hardest thing to get myself to do (and this is the real reason my PhD work is behind) is to read. I avoid to do items that are “Read X” like the plague. I’m a publisher and I procrastinate on reading. Sigh. And then of course today, after only getting to bed (not sleep, but at least into bed) by 4am, I was reading cause that’s kinda low energy stuff and geez the reading for my Phd is really fascinating. Sigh. What am I going to do with myself, huh?



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I have been remiss in not posting this here so for anyone who is going to be in Perth and is interested in a con stream for writers, consider checking this out. Also of important note is that Friday is the closing date to register interest in submitting work to be critted by Juliet Marillier and Lee Battersby. We’re interested in fostering a sf writers crit group in Perth and are hoping this friendly crit session might kickstart some interest in a repeat event.

 

 

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Twelfth Planet Press CrimeScene Writing Stream

Saturday, 12 October, 2013

http://www.crimescenewa.org.au/

 

Pitch Twelfth Planet Press

Take an opportunity to pitch your completed manuscript to editor and publisher Alisa Krasnostein in a one on one pitch appointment. You will be given 5 to 8 minutes to provide a brief synopsis of your story, how it fits in with Twelfth Planet Press’ publishing line and how it stands out from the slushpile.

Twelfth Planet Press novels push boundaries to question, inspire, engage and challenge. We are specifically looking to acquire dynamic, original genre material outside that typically considered by mainstream publishers. We are reading for science fiction, fantasy, horror and crime. We will consider borderline literary, new weird, steampunk, space opera, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, urban fantasy, cyberpunk, military science fiction, young adult, paranormal romance and everything in between. We will also consider novellas in this pitch session.

Pitch appointment slots are limited. To register for your slot, email Linda: Linda@spiralarmevents.com

Critique session with Juliet Marillier, Lee Battersby and Alisa Krasnostein

Join writers Juliet Marillier and Lee Battersby and editor Alisa Krasnostein for a critique session. Selected manuscripts from participants will be critiqued individually by the panellists to an open audience session.

It is our intention to provide a friendly, open and supportive environment that will allow Perth writers to meet, network and develop group critiquing skills. Stay around for drinks after the writers’ stream and meet fellow Perth writers.

What you need to do:
1. Register your interest in participating by emailing Linda: Linda@spiralarmevents.com by 13 Sept 2013. Please provide a brief (one paragraph) description of your writing experience and a brief description of the piece you would be submitting for critique.

2. You will be advised by 18 Sept 2013 whether you have been selected to participate. If selected, you must submit your work by 20 Sept 2013. Manuscripts must comply with the following requirements:
Novel: a one page synopsis and the first 10 to 15 pages.
Short story: Up to 7000 words. Full manuscripts should be submitted.

All submissions should be sent as Word documents attached to a covering email. Documents should be double-spaced ie 15 pages means 15 double-spaced pages.

Juliet Marillier was born and brought up in Dunedin, New Zealand, and now lives in Western Australia. Her historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults have been translated into many languages and have won a number of awards including the Aurealis, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales. Among Juliet’s works are the Sevenwaters novels, the Bridei Chronicles and the Shadowfell series, of which the second novel, Raven Flight, was published in July 2013.

Juliet’s lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. When not busy writing, Juliet tends to a small pack of waifs and strays. Find out more at http://www.julietmarillier.com.

Lee Battersby is the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Writers of the Future-winning author of the novels “The Corpse-Rat King” (Angry Robot Books, 2012) and “The Marching Dead” (Angry Robot, 2013) as well as the collection “Through Soft Air” (Prime Books, 2006) and over 70 stories in the US, Europe and Australia. His writing has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle. He lives online at www.leebattersby.com and blogs at http://battersblog.blogspot.com.

Alisa Krasnostein is editor and publisher at independent Twelfth Planet Press, a freshly minted creative publishing PhD student and recently retired environmental engineer. She part of the twice Hugo nominated and Peter McNamara Award winning Galactic Suburbia Podcast team. In 2011, she won the World Fantasy Award for her work at Twelfth Planet Press. In her spare time she is a critic, reader, reviewer, podcaster, runner, environmentalist, knitter, quilter and puppy lover.

The Invisibility of Elmore Leonard: Writing Workshop with Matthew Chrulew

When Elmore Leonard died in August this year, tributes flowed, and his ten rules for writing were cited all over the net. The influence of his gritty and humorous short stories and novels, many of which were made into films and television series (such as 3:10 to Yuma, Get Shorty and Justified), can be found throughout crime fiction and beyond. Alongside his enticing villains and outlaws, Leonard was famous for bringing a Hemingwayesque restraint to genre fiction: distracting description was minimised and tight dialogue carried the drama. His was the art of getting out of the way. His ten rules advised writers to avoid weather, prologues, said-bookisms, adverbs, exclamation points, dialect, description, and “hooptedoodle”—that is, “obvious writing” that readers might notice or skip. Yet their repetition often ignores the qualifications and exceptions in his original article, his awareness of the singularity of his style. We will take a look at his writing and his rules, ask about their value and place, and attempt to write some Elmore Leonard dialogue of our own.

Matthew Chrulew’s stories have appeared in Aurealis, Antennae, ASIM, Pseudopod, Canterbury 2100 and Macabre: A Journey Through Australian Horror. They have been reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror vol 3. (2008) and The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010. His novella The Angælien Apocalypse (Twelfth Planet Press) was a finalist in the 2010 Aurealis Awards. He teaches creative writing at Curtin University and blogs at matthewchrulew.wordpress.com

How to be a Professional Writer

In this seminar, author Marianne Delacourt/de Pierres discusses how to make the transition from hobbyist/emerging writer to professional. Some of the topics she will discuss are branding, when to give up the day job, work habits and networking. As a full time writer with twenty years of experience and (soon to be) seventeen published novels, Marianne will share her insights and help you avoid her mistakes.

Marianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis and award-winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a teen dark fantasy series.

Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her websites: at www.mariannedepierres.com, www.tarasharp.com and www.burnbright.com.au

 

 



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Pretty much every other day, I take a moment to check whether the other shoe is starting to drop. I really can’t believe how lucky I am to be being given the opportunity to not only work on Twelfth Planet Press all day every day but also to be expected to be exploring new ideas, try new initiatives and to study practices around me. That the point of this whole exercise is to learn things about publishing in a time of great flux in the industry, and to hopefully, take out the other end of this study, a more viable and tangible business. Seriously. How did I get here? (The answer is always: Helen). It’s seriously try that if you find something you truly love, you never have to work a day in your life.

And the other great thing is getting to talk a lot about it as  I go along. Documenting it as I go so I can pull it together into some kind of exegesis at the end.

After spending last week immersed in talking and listening to other people talk about the industry, I’ve been mulling over our novella line. I love novellas – I love the format. I love the fact that they are meaty enough to really tell a deep, expansive story but aren’t as big a reading commitment as a novel. We’ve had a lot of critical success at Twelfth Planet Press with this format. There is no shortage of really great novellas being written. The problem has been that the format in print is just not a viable product. As of this date, the only one that’s ever broken even is Horn by Peter M Ball. At some point, I had to make the decision that I couldn’t keep buying and publishing novellas when they weren’t breaking even. As much as I love the form, and as much as I believe that indie press exists to publish and bring to the reader works that are outside of the scope of commercial publishers, I couldn’t justify the drain on the cash flow. Especially when eventually that comes at the expense of being able to afford other projects that might be more financially viable.

Last week I participated in a panel with Joel Naoum from Momentum discussing all things publishing for a postgrad MasterClass at Curtin. One of the points that struck me about what they are doing at Momentum, is being able to pursue projects that are not viable in print form by going solely digital. Without a doubt, with the democratising of publishing via self publishing and with the merging of big publishers, we have two new and very strong factors at play. The first is that there are more titles being published every year than the year before. And I don’t really see that changing in the near future. Readers are still reading but I suspect the readers for every title is probably less, as the readers spread across more and more titles. I believe this means that the potential to earn for a writer (and publisher) is going to be less per title. Similarly, as the big publishers merge and try to compete against Amazon, they are looking to concentrate on high performing bestsellers. And we’ve seen that result in the loss of the midlist for some time. This, I still think is good news for a publisher like TPP, but not for authors who are still capable of earning reasonably but that “reasonably” is being redefined. And this is where we are seeing a lot of changes in publishing business models as savvy midlisters experiment with new ways to make a career.

A third, and no less important, factor is distribution. Bookstores are closing. Book distributors are folding. And it’s getting harder and easier to get stocked in bookstores. I’m finding that TPP is being picked up by a lot more franchised outlets of the big bookstores in Oz but that’s happening as I work harder to do distribution myself ie dealing with each bookstore one by one. At the same time, I’m also finding other bookstores becoming less open to stocking indie press. Responses like we only stock books by publishers like [named big five publisher] are also coming in.

What’s going to happen to traditional publishing? We don’t know yet but if publishers want to still be around, we’re going to have to adapt and change our models. What used to be is no longer. And what worked before may not in the future. What is clear is that we need to be flexible and open to new things. As I posted the other day, it is really clear that the stigma of digital only publishing or digital first publishing has long been lost in the romance genre. A genre which is alive and kicking and very financially successful.

The sum of all these thoughts: I love novellas and I’ve been looking for a way to be able to publish them again. And I’m keen to experiment with publishing models to see what and how to be successful going forward. And so, finally we are open to novella submissions again! http://www.twelfthplanetpress.com/submissions And hopefully, I’ll be able to use this in my thesis somewhere :) I do quite like the double credit points of working on my press AND my PhD at the same time!

 



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Several exciting things have happened about the offices (I mean house) this week.

First up, Kaaron Warren became the first Aussie ever to win a Shirley Jackson Award. This weekend she won for Best Novella with “Sky” from her collection Through Splintered Walls. The Shirley Jackson Awards recognize work that is innovative, disturbing and excellent. And I’ve long aspired for the work we publish at Twelfth Planet Press to be considered of this calibre.

“Sky” also won the Ditmar Award, the Australian Shadows Award and the Aurealis Award, becoming the first story to win all three. It’s such an astounding effort and I’m so proud that I had the opportunity to work with Kaaron on this collection.

Yesterday, we released this fabulously, deliciously inviting, scrumptious book trailer for A Trifle Dead which was made for us by Film students at Curtin University as part of their term work. It was a lot of fun seeing this come together and hearing about the progress and I think they really nailed the book in their interpretation. (We’re doing the ebook for $5.95 this week only to celebrate the release).

 


And finally, this week, all three of us at Galactic Suburbia got Mind Melded over at SF Signal on our favourite genre road trips of all time. I chose Star Trek Voyager cause I just started an entire series rewatch and I still love everything about a TV show with a female captain :)



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photo(35) Yesterday, I attended the opening for the Through Splintered Walls Art Exhibition at the new Rockingham Art Centre.

Background: Last year, around this time, we launched the sixth volume of the Twelve Planets series – Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren – at Natcon in Melbourne. We had a great launch and sold a bunch of copies and then later in the con, we discovered that there had been a printing error – the top line of every page was missing. After manic searching to check this error didn’t happen at our end, we promised everyone we would replace their copies and then we set about thinking what we could do.

It was such a let down and disappointment. You work so hard to get a book to print and then you proudly release to the world and anxiously anticipate how it will be received. And you hope it will fly. So when it dives and crashes and burns … well it’s a devastating feeling. And one I hope to never experience again. Whilst we stood around feeling sorry for ourselves, Narrelle Harris suggested that we think about turning the spoiled books into artworks – to find a way to get artists involved to use the books for art instead of pulping them. As an environmentalist, I was totally broken hearted about the idea of the waste of all that paper. So the idea sounded perfect. Plus, we had a chance to tank a mistake and turn it into something better.

TSW_1 The three of us worked on some ideas and a pitch and then I took this to Lee Battersby who works at the City of Rockingham (the city I and TPP are now based) as the Cultural Development and Arts Coordinator. His immediate response was “we can do that!” and when I turned around, he’d organised the whole thing. He organised four artists to give four different workshops for anyone who wanted to come along and learn about paper art techniques. And then he organised for the participants to submit their finished works (made from three copies of Through Splintered Walls each, the ruined copies which I donated to the city) for a final art exhibition.

And yesterday, we attended the opening for the exhibition. Here is the Mayor of the city opening the exhibit. It turns out, this is the very first exhibition to be held in the long awaited Rockingham Arts Centre!

Kaaron was brought over for the event and to give a writing workshop whilst she was here.

Here she is giving a few remarks and raving about how awesome the finished artworks are.

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I wandered around and took photos of most of the pieces. Here’s a gallery of them – every one used to be a copy of Through Splintered Walls!
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This one, the artist came and gave me the story to the piece. It’s not quite as she intended. You see, her new puppy accidentally chewed up that copy of the book and so she had to change her plans! I love this piece, I think it’s really great!

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And these are works that one of the workshop tutors made as examples:
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It’s quite an unsettling feeling to be pleased to see copies of your book shredded, cut up and folded. I’m so happy with the way this project turned out!



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Longterm readers of my blog(s) will recall (perhaps with fondness, or the kindly shake of the head whilst they skip about in the daffodils ’cause they did their tax already) my ongoing Accounting Saga. There tends to be a flare up about yearly, ahead of the tax season, as I grapple with yet more spreadsheets that don’t balance, or some new forensic audit for a new system that will definitely absolutely once and for all sort out my financial recording woes.

It’s that tiiiime!!!!

Now with added bonus New Drama!

Let’s see. I should catch you up first. See. I want to be able to apply for Arts Grants. I *should* be applying for Arts Grants. Arts Grants are the holy grail. With an arts grant, I could pay those who work for TPP the real actual monies they are worth. I could pay full pro rates for writers. I could have an actual marketing budget (imagine not having to bake a zillion cupcakes the night before a book launch. Oh my!). More importantly, with an arts grant I could afford to do the things I believe we need to do for the Next Step (TM). Which is: Grow.

Applying for arts grants as a publisher seems to be a little bit more tricky. Firstly, you have to be an incorporated body. So last year, we incorporated. I think that cost about $500 in fees but I’d have to check that. That’s when TPP became a Pty Ltd entity and I got shares in the company and became a director. Then, you have to register with the Australian Arts Council Literature Board in order to be eligible to apply for their grants. This basically requires you to show that you are a legitimate entity, have a track record of publishing quality material and have established distribution streams and so on. And then, to present a balance sheet ie … and here it comes .. have freshly audited books.

Oy vey.

See, ’cause. And I want to just say up front, I’m really busy. I got married last year. I switched jobs *twice*. I published 4 books. I travelled twice overseas. I did *stuff*.

But um. Yes. Of all the things I did, the one thing I did not finish doing was move all my accounting spreadsheets into Quickbooks, which was the free software that came with my incorporating paperwork. I really liked the invoicing ability inside this program and I got that up and running. And it worked ok for some things. But, it turns out that a) forensic auditing of 6 years of records of various levels of perfectionism in their keeping takes *a really long time* and b) the software is not really set up for publishing where you also want to keep track of inventory and the per unit cost make up (it really wasn’t flexible in the per unit cost accumulating over time – like, say, I pay an author the first instalment of an advance 6 months or a year ahead of publishing, and I also take preorders for the book but later on there will be additions to the cost like the rest of the advance, the design fee, the artwork fee and the printing costs and maybe launch costs and various marketing costs). And I also wanted to be able to track projects and their bottom lines versus the entire press’ bottom line (to look at breakeven points for each project vs for the whole press). It’s not really set up for that.

And somewhere along the line I got too busy or distracted to keep up with even the front end of entering records into Quickbooks. And it got to be a big huge mess. Again. WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP HERE?

So you’ll appreciate the hyperventilating, chest thumping and loud sobbing that accompanied the having to get audited aspect of this whole gig.

I believe a text message to my brother-in-law with the question “so is 11 days a reasonable amount of time to get audited in?” kicked this off. He is very lovely and has come to our house twice this week to sit down and look at my numbers and go through my spreadsheets with me. He has approached the Mess with calm and logic, which has been reassuring. He seems convinced that this all could be Sorted out and rational and tidy. (I live in hope. I cling to it sometimes during the nightsweats) And the first step of all this was to pull together numbers for the balance sheet needed for Literature Board Registration.

My exciting news today was all that blood and sweat and tears was worth something!! I lodged all the forms and requirements last night at 11pm and this morning I got word that Twelfth Planet Press was successfully registered! Hurrah! I can’t even explain how uplifted and excited I’ve been all day. I’ve had *ideas* spilling out my ears. I feel completely reinvigorated and reenergised!

Of course, all this is overshadowed by the more painful exercise to come in actually bringing the whole books up to date and neat and tidy. And thus has a whole bunch of complicating factors now – firstly, actually finding an accounting software package that works and/or admitting that I will never fully separate from my spreadsheets and may have to run a software package and my spreadsheets simultaneously to get all the information I want. I really really like to know which projects have broken even, which might break even and which never will. And there’s all kinds of interesting data that you can look at to do with estimating print runs, advances, actions leading to sales correlations, which times of the year books sell better etc etc.

And um … now TPP is a company and that changes things. I’d always operated on the premise that the money I invested in the press I would get paid … at some point in the future … should there ever be funds. But as of March 2012, when we incorporated, there are all kinds of tax implications and you can’t just “take money out” from a company to a person willy nilly. Now I have to look at structure, shares and loans, liabilities and debts and all kinds of things like auditing, annual reports and tax and so on and so on. And a way to somehow be able to get back the money I’ve been investing in this project, at some point, should there ever be money to be got. The pipe dream, eh?

And if we’ve learned nothing else, we’ve learned it’s that the one most important thing in any enterprise is to get the foundation sorted before you run off into the distance. Oh hindsight. You’re so cute.

You know what this all boils down to, don’t you?

Yep. You guessed it.

ANOTHER FORENSIC AUDIT.

Hold me.

But it’s not all bad. I’ve been having to calculate royalties to figure out liabilities – and hopefully next week I will be paying some. This is the first year my authors have earned out their advances. More than one author. More than one book. That’s really exciting. You take your milestones where you can find em.

And the other thing of course – how lucky am I to have such a lovely brother-in-law!



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