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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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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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Saturday was jampacked! After breakfast in the hotel with Terri, Tansy and Finchy and Jonathan and guest appearance Kelly Link and where we invented the drink The Hypocrite, we hightailed it to the panel Masters of Podcasting. It was the only panel I did all weekend and it was such a pleasure – Terry Frost for PaleoCinema, myself for Galactic Suburbia, Jonathan Strahan for Coode St and Kirstyn McDermott for Writer and the Critic who moderated. We had a smallish room and almost all the audience were podcasters too, though I think we had some more nonpodcasters fill the audience after we took the poll. The panel turned into a really relaxed podcasting community discussion where we just kinda shot the breeze and bonded as podcasters and podcast listeners. It was really cool.

I then scooted on to the TPP A Stitch in Time pattern beta testing workshop in the bar. I was sure that noone would turn up. Tansy said she’d come and sew with me as company and then someone wielding a crochet hook accosted me in the hall so we headed over to the bar. I pulled out the pattern we had to test – a little stuffed Roswell grey – and crochet hooks and yarn and everyone dived in. We had I guess 4 or 5 of us trying the pattern and a couple of others who sat with us and did other crafts. And I have to tell you, I had the best time. I was so happy to be crafting in a group with some fellow geeks. There were others who did an awesome job interpreting some of the instructions, working through the pattern and then helping and explaining to others. It was such a fun hour. And I spent it thinking how awesome fandom is. (Photo from Cat Sparks)

There should be more crafting circles at cons. Actually something I really loved was the scattered boxes of craft throughout the con – you were encouraged to pick up works in progress and work on them and if I’d had time I would have. I wonder if that could be something we could carry on through – even something like working on blankets or scarves over the course of a con and then donate the finished ones to a hospital or somewhere?

A photo of how far we managed to get in the hour (photo of our crochet thanks to Tansy and Finchy). But I saw Jo’s later on in the con and she’d managed to make it past the head and body and onto the legs!

I headed off to lunch, which is where I was when Tansy rang me to tell me about the catastrophe that was the printing of Through Splintered Walls. It was at this point that we discovered that there had been a terrible printing error in the book and would need to stop selling it and try and recall all those sold. (If you’re reading this and didn’t know, please contact me to organise an exchange or replacement. The printer is currently reprinting the entire print run and I expect to have those by early next week.)

I then returned just in time for the Galactic Suburbia live recording panel. It’s still weird recording in front of an audience and also where we can actually look at each other whilst we talk. I figured that it wouldn’t be rude to craft on the Galactic Suburbia panel since I do normally do so when recording. Apparently, I’m told, you can tell? Anyway, I was balling up a skein of sock yarn from Blue Moon Fibre Arts during the podcast. This is a photo of the sock I started during the con after balling the yarn and where it got to by the time we landed back in Perth yesterday. I’m just turning the heel.

After the podcast, we headed back to the dealers room and prepped for the Embiggen Books Event. I was very excited about this and not just because I might have been really wanting to find a way to visit this store this time in Melbourne and bring everyone I knew who loved bookstores with me. It’s a truly gorgeous specialist store that’s really really supportive of small press and generally funky and interesting books. We all traipsed down Swanston Street to set up at 4pmish for a 5pm start. The Writer and the Critic were so generous to host, record and produce the podcast. Yes I’ve been dying to be on their podcast for ages! And it was so awesome to watch Kirstyn do her audio technical stuff. Very cool.

First some shots of the bookstore:

Mondy graciously hosted the podcast and interviewed 9 of the Twelve Planets authors and myself. Ian did what he really has a great skill in doing – he asked the exact right questions in the right way, with lots of humour, such that everyone opened up and really said such interesting things. I sat that there listening to everyone talk about their individual collections, their approach to the project and their own style and approach to writing and I realised just how great the sum of these parts this project will be. And what a vibrant, creative and thoughtful group of writers I have been lucky enough to collect. I’m so looking forward to hearing the podcast. And discussing it with others.

Here’s a few action shots from Finchy and Jason Nahrung.

And Jason has a few more shots of the event over on his Flickr stream.  A big thank you to Warren at Embiggen Books for letting us take over his store at 5pm on a Saturday evening. And also thank you to those who helped carry books and food and wine down and to those who came down to watch. Especially those who came down just for the event outside of the con. And also thank you to the TPP authors who came in great spirits and enthusiasm.

After the event we all headed over to a cool little place near the Wheeler Centre for drinks. Check out the beer in beakers!



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Phew, what a day today. I dragged myself out of bed cause I stayed up too late last night reading – something I am going to repeat tonight (so close to Xmas!) – and was finally out the door at 7am instead of my usual 6.40. And I was 30 mins down the road when my car died. First the radio went. Then the indicators. Then the whole thing just suddenly lost momentum. Luckily I could pull off into the emergency lane. I checked my phone and yup, sure enough, I had 9% charge left on it. So I calmly called C and asked him to call the RAC and then I waited for them. A very nice man actually stopped to see if I was alright though he couldn’t help me. I thought it was nice that he stopped all the same – chivalry/good behaviour is not dead! The first RAC man determined that my alternator had died and helped me to get the car off the freeway and to Cockburn Gateway and to call the tow truck. I’d waited about 45 minutes for the first RAC man and then he told me the tow would be about an hour, that I should head off to get a coffee and come back. I raced off to Big W (yay for being open before 9!) and got a phone charger (and then a hot chocolate on the way through) and raced back to my car. At which point I really was cursing myself for wearing my highest heels that day and for not packing a paper book for the first time in weeks. And when I got back to my car and charged my phone off my laptop, I discovered I’d already been texted for the tow. Not at hour/90 minute wait after all.

Much of the rest of the day was spent much less dramatically – the tow truck took me to the mechanic where I left my car. I got picked up and taken to my parents. Then I waited for the car to be repaired, did some work on the laptop, ran errands and had coffee (hot chocolate for me) with my dad. And in this running errands bit I discovered that my print run of Bad Power had arrived yesterday! Had I not had to come north to get my car fixed, I wouldn’t have been near my post office til maybe Saturday or early next week! So that was a big bonus!

I raced home through peak hour to make it in time for the Galactic Suburbia recording! And then I did the Bad Power mail out!

In fact, a rather mellow day, when all is said and done. Tomorrow I go back to work for some unpleasant things to face – why do people leave things to the very last gasps of the working year and then expect you to work miracles? Canna be done, Cap’n. And we have our end of year thing tomorrow afternoon. And then … 8 days left of work and perhaps a wee bit of a change for me in the coming year.



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December 5   I keep meaning to update

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Really, I do keep meaning to update but time is just getting away from me. Seriously, where the hell did November go? I’m not even sure that we actually did all 30 days of it? C and I keep looking at each other and wondering where the month went but also noting that we did a heck of a lot of things this year too. I’m planning on making a wrap up end of year list to remind myself because I know it’s going to be ridiculous.

I’m still doing my 6am starts with being at work by 7.30am. And that means I’m going to bed 10ish which feels like I have very little time in the evenings, or outside work. It must be about the same though, surely? Though, I am also using these hours so probably I have less hanging about in my out of work hours. Today we opened up the Dance Central 2 game that C bought me cause I said I would dance if I had it. And we had a good hour of that. I kinda think that dancing is a far more fun way to get fit than booooring going to the gym agaaaain. Plus I’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance on Friday nights on 11 and missing that part of my life a bit. And then I had a terrible dream last night, a nightmare if you will, that I went to audition for SYTYCD and the only judge on the panel was Robert Shearman and my body just … well … it got old and it couldn’t do any of the things it used to. Well that put a light under my bushel (is that the saying?).

Other than that, we’ve been recording podcasts - Galactic Suburbia the week before last and then again this week. And I’m enjoying actually finishing novels. I have a new one for this week’s episode and am determined to finish Yarn by it too. So that we can get on with the spoilerific podcast for that. But somehow, I’m working my way through my very pared down to read queue by my bed and actually books are making it to the real bookshelves at the other end of the house. I can read! Phew!! Though I keep thinking of all the things I want to get done in my holidays and forgetting that I am not 9 anymore and it’s only 10 days and not 10 weeks. Bummer.

We also recorded a new episode of Live and Sassy. You know what December is like – I really don’t know why we a) all leave everything to the last 4 weeks of the year and b) have this imaginary line in time where simply MUST catch up with everyone we know before the end of the year, as though terrible things will happen if we leave some of them til the week after just cause it’s the first week of the next year. Anyway, so our calendars didn’t coordinate so well and we skyped this episode. We’ll be back to doing it live in a cafe and annoying our listeners with background noise early in the new year.

And books! And projects! I’m really pushing to get a few projects to the printer’s by Xmas so that I can work in a I’m in the Future kind of publishing world in 2012. We’ll see how that goes. I’m expecting Bad Power to arrive any day now. And we have Showtime in layout proofing. And Through Splintered Walls is shaping up nicely. I’m also working on a novella project which we’ll announce soon. And another possible sekret project. And of course, I’m clearing the decks for the novel submission month of January.

And planning a wedding. I only just realised today that I get to plan a holiday as well since we know where we are off to on our honeymoon. EXCITING!!! Yesterday we all trouped back to the wedding venue and did very important things like sign the contract and pay the deposit. Tis booked. And they said “see you in 8 – 10 weeks before the wedding” – OMG! And I got a showbag which was rather exciting. Or you know … useful. The venue owner finally managed to convey to my mother what I had failed to do so -the awesomeness of bonbonierre. It’s not a thing in our culture so it’s a completely foreign convept to us, I guess. However, we now have some awesome ideas to play with for that.

So, you know. Busy.



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October 12   I’ve been quiet

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I didn’t blog much after falling ill. I figured there was nothing more boring than, “yep still sick” plus some of those days I was actually in so much pain I couldn’t type. Or knit. Or really even hold a coffee mug. The ultimate message from the universe, all I could do was lie on the couch and watch TV. Yup. Spent about 7 days there. Watched all of Studio 60. Worked my way through about 3 seasons of Doctor Who. And eventually I got better. I’ve been back at work. Doing things. Catching up. But still running behind.

So a bunch of linky the links before I head back off to the chain gang.

I answered some questions on editing over at Donna Hanson’s blog. I actually think her question (and many people’s answers to – Can editing be taught? – to be really really fascinating. Go read the series!

Deborah Biancotti is featuring a series of paragraphs on creative burnout. Mine is here. And I should add that when I say that I watch TV that I think is really great, I really do mean the Gilmore Girls. If you see me break out a rewatch of the whole series, you know things are bad. Cough. I also really get back into Elton John – a bit of Can you Feel the Love Tonight, Candle in the Wind and so on. And the Goo Goo Dolls, which I admit I was listening to yesterday (Black Balloon, Accoustic #3 and Iris on repeat means all is lost).

Our big Twelfth Planet Press news is that Charles Tan is steadily working on ebook conversion (and soon to have extra help, kind people are really kind) and we now have Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex available in epub. The Kindle version will be up tonight. And both are available now from Wizard Towers Books. Very soon I’ll have links for ebook subscriptions and upgrades on the site.

C has been away this week. I would have done a big Things I Want To Get Done whilst he is away but I’m knackered. And just running to stand still. Also really behind on TPP and focussing on that. If Tansy will stop pitching ENORMOUS ideas at me. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to focus on next year when he is at sea off and on throughout it. I have some ideas. Mostly I’ll be concentrating on TPP, I have some two years goals which really will need concerted and sustained hard work to pull off. But I’m also toying around with some other, smaller projects. That need their own blogs. We’ll see.

This month though is a weird one. Most of it we will be spending apart – he’s had two courses on this month and I realised YESTERDAY that I only have this week and next week at work before I LEAVE FOR WORLD FANTASY CON! for which my schedule is already deliciously jam packed. I have finally booked and paid for a shower, seated massage and hang out in a lounge during my long sojourn in Hong Kong airport. I have organised with my family for pick ups, eating and siteseeing (and phone!) for the couple of days before the con. And mostly, I am intending to just have a vacation. I know, I know. It’s A CON. But still. I’ve sent 5 boxes of Glitter Rose over to San Diego for the convention bags. And a thousand postcards for the Twelve Planets. I’ve also been kindly given a wee bit of space in the dealer’s room so if you want something – let me know and I’ll be sure to pack it and bring it with me. I know what dress I’m wearing for the banquet. I think I’m getting towards ready for it! Eeeeeeeekkkkk



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