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Saturday, May 07, 2005

ONLY THE NAME HAS CHANGED

I've given in to public demand: I have a new blog now. I'll keep this one up as an archive, but anything new will be on the other one.


BATTBLUSH

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Danger Will Robinson (or: We've Gotta Get Outta This Place)

I'm an empathetic person and take other people's pain personally. Hurt inflicted upon others affects me. This has caused me to make a big decision.

Due to various bruised egos and salted wounds inflicted by blog sites and LJ's, I've decided to withdraw from personal blogging. I have a lovely diary that my beloved husband bought for me in Queensland. I'm going to record my thoughts, feelings and daily occurences in that. I will still blog reviews in IMHO. If I have something I desperately need to share at the public level I will rely upon Lee's and my own friends-only LJ. This way no one gets hurt.

Take care. Be kind.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Full o' goodness

The Sunday night crew have decided to form a co-op. Our intention is that, in time, we will raise enough produce (fruit, vege, chickens) amongst ourselves in order to become somewhat self-sufficient. Battboy and I have a particularly large garden and it would be a shame not to use it. In the meantime we have resorted to buying bulk produce and sharing it around. Last night Calli came around with our first delivery. We have pumpkin, pears, beans, basil, apples, spring onions, ginger, garlic and oh how the list goes on. I went through all our goodies this morning and now I'm inspired. I want to make pumpkin soup, banana and ginger muffins, pumpkin and honey muffins (the best ever!) minestrone, salads and all sorts of other yummy things. The fruit and vege look so fresh and delicious and I can't wait to get into it.

My thoughts (and I do have them)

I've put another review up on IMHO. Check it out.

What happened????

Battbaby decided to start sleeping through at about 8 weeks. He stopped at 16 weeks when he decided to wake up once a night for feeds. The last week or so have seen this progress to the stage where he's waking up about 4 times. Battboy and I are shattered.

And...

Erin's woken up the past three nights too

I'm not a big fan of children at the moment. Between teething babies, temperamental toddlers and downright bitchy teenagers, I'm exhausted.

On the other hand

Aiden and Blake are lovely. But with Aiden rapidly approaching 13, and Blakey-boy not far behind him, I have to wonder, how much longer can it possibly last for?

Holidays

They're over. The kids have gone back to their dad's and I'm left to tidy up the havoc caused. On the whole, I think it's Cassie that causes me the most headaches. Not only did I have to pull her away from her friend's house kicking and screaming, she was rude and obnoxious when she was here. I don't know why she bothers to come at all. She walks in, criticises everything I do, and then does little to help. She picks arguments with Aiden and Lee and then yells at everyone as to how it's all their fault, and never hers.

She's gone now. The house is peaceful. And I miss her dreadfully.

Aw shucks

Battboy and I were invited to read at the KSP Open Day yesterday. After about 45 minutes sleep we pulled ourselves out of bed and headed off (chucking a quick left for a Maccas breakfast first). Fortunately we were first up, so the plan was to read a story each and then leave.

It didn't happen that way.

We read our stories, Lee first with Goodfellow and then myself with This Perfect Day. Everyone laughed at all the right places with Lee's story and there was total silence (well, apart from Erin of course) with mine. After I sat down the woman in front turned and told me how much she loved my story. We stayed put for another 15 minutes until morning tea. At that point we loaded up the pram and headed out.

We were about two steps away from the door when suddenly we were surrounded by people wanting to talk to us about our work. It was lovely. I ended up giving my printed copy of This Perfect Day to someone who wanted to read it again, because she'd enjoyed it so much and wanted to recapture the feeling. Yay! A fan.

Finally we made it out the door and arrived home for a quiet day of naps and documentaries. We decided to forgo the movie night as we just needed some personal space after the week that was.

Well, that's it for now. Take it easy and enjoy this public holiday

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Oh the Irony

I'm a fan of irony, those delicious little twists of fate that keep life interesting.

Here's a case in point.

I spent 14 years as a member of the Jehovah's Witness religion. I was also married for 14 years. During that time I built up a close relationship with my husband's family. I didn't celebrate birthdays, Xmas etc, but I made sure they had access to the children during this time because I realised that my beliefs weren't theirs and I respected their right to live life as they saw fit. On the whole we lived in harmony, apart from every now and then when the Triffitt family took it upon themselves to have a rant against my religious leanings. They would bring up aspects of my Witness beliefs and make me account for them. In the beginning, I did, toward the end, I couldn't be bothered. They didn't want to know why I believed such things, they just wanted to find a nice way of protesting.

In time I stopped practicing as a Witness. I also stopped being married about the same time.

I met Lee, fell in love, started my relationship with him, was disfellowshipped. Lee proposed, we married, I gained a new family.

And this is where irony steps in.

I'm a Battersby for five minutes when it starts. A member of his family starts getting narky over something Lee did (or didn't do) and immediately turns it into an attack on me and my former beliefs. Like, they want me to account for something I used to believe in.

I'm so over family politics.

And to make matters worse, this attack is really unfair because I've been doing everything in my power to bring Battboy and his family closer together. I encourage interaction between Lee and his family. Two of my children carry the Battersby name. I want us all to get along.

My head is spinning.

Priorities

Pope John Paul II is dead. Pope Benedict XVI has taken his place. I have nothing against the late Pope. He did a lot to try to restore peace to the Palestine, to further negotiations between the Arabs and the Jews. On the whole I believe his papal reign to have been a good one. Okay, he didn't condone the use of contraception, but the guy was OLD, did we really expect miracles? And besides, how many Catholics do you know who actually follow this edict? There have been many reforms since Vatican 2 and JP2 has played his part in bringing the Church out of the Dark Ages. No, they haven't reached the 21st Century, but they have at least reached the beginning of the 20th. In my own lifetime I saw my Aunty go from wearing a full habit, to 'civvies'.

So, you may ask, what does this particular section have to do with the title?

I just dropped my older three children back with their father after having a week long visit with them. I won't see them again until Friday night. The world mourns the death of a pontiff. I, once again, mourn the loss of my children.
Please don't tell me my grief means nothing. Yes I will see them again, but tonight they go to sleep in someone else's house.

My personal heartache takes priority over the rest of the world's.

How deep is your love?

I love my husband. As I stated in my vows, I love him with my whole heart, mind, body and strength. I would do anything to make and keep him happy.

We received a Traci Harding book in the mail for reviewing yesterday. We all know how much Battboy hates Phat Phantasies. Guess who took the book and added it to her reading pile?

Never doubt my love for you. I think I've more than amply proven myself now.

(PSST: I'm actually rather enjoying it, too, but don't let on :))

Have a great week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Feelin' groovy

Today I not only finished a short story, I edited it to a point of satisfaction. But then, and here's the best part, I sent it out!

There's always a sense of accomplishment in hitting that 'send' button that sees your newest creation hurtling off into cyberspace.

Now I have to find homes for Unnatural Selection and A Whisper In The House of Angels, the stories that picked up 2nd and 3rd prizes respectively at the Swancon Awards.

If the muse is rockin...

Today the two Battkids went into childcare and the Triffs were given strict instructions to entertain themselves for the day. Lee and I were in the mood and ready to go. We snuck off and gave ourselves over to absolute pleasure...
The pleasure of the written word. Lee worked on the Napoleone novel while I finished the above story.
Love like ours doesn't happen by accident.

Full of soapy goodness

Lee and I now have a routine. Dr Who for Battboy at 6pm and EastEnders for me at 6:30. I usually organise dinner and feed Connor during Lee's half hour and he answers emails and catches up on blogs during mine. Lee scorns all things soapy and those who find entertainment within them. So he says. In reality he comes back at the end of the opening credits and watches what's happening from the doorway. He knows the characters as well as I do and offers an opinion on all their storylines.

I have only one explanation for this.

The big hairy guy loves me.

That's it for now. The Battbaby is finally asleep and I want to be too. Take care

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Here we go, Here we go, Here we gooooo

Today I learnt something new about myself. Deep inside my sweet, lovely, kind nature, there lurks a soccer hooligan.

This morning Battboy and I took Aiden to play his first soccer game (his team won 4-2. Yay!) Now, I'd expect Lee to run along the sidelines shouting out encouragement and generally making himself heard. Not me. I'm quiet. I'm more the type to sit at the sidelines and knit scarves for the team so they don't get a chill. Or so I thought.

Truth is, I'm a soccer mum. Any time the ball looked like it might even think of heading in Aiden's direction I was up and yelling, giving advice and letting the world know how amazing my son is. I even called out 'off-side' once (thanks to my darling for patiently explaining what it meant over and over until I finally got it).

In short, I had a great time. It was fun and Aiden seemed to enjoy himself. It was a much better experience than the Tae Kwon Do he'd endured last term. We're definitely going back for more.

Tis the season...

To buy the Plastic Fantastic. I just went to another Tupperware Party. Usually I enjoy such things, but this one left me a little flat. I only spent about $50, whereas I generally buy about twice that amount. Still, my collection continues to grow.

Who's Who

To find out who's doing the business within the SF world, tune into Ben Peek's LJ. He's interviewing all sorts, including Battboy and myself.

That's all I have to say for now. Have a nice week.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Thick and fast Part two
The Ben Peek files

five questions:

1) You're an editor involved with Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and TiconderogaOnline, both different venues with different demands. About the
only thing that links them is that there is a committee involved in the
selection of fiction that appears in the work appearing in each. Some have
claimed that committee style editing ensures that only bland fiction is seen
in the world, but I figure there must be some shit flung and fought for in
those places. Give us a rundown on the committee experience, both pro and
con.

In my experience, working within a committee means working with a lot of different people with different sized egos. I'm a very non-confrontational person and prefer to keep the peace, so I tend to take the lemming approach and follow the crowd. I leave the politics to the Chiefs of the Tribe and make do with being a gatherer.
Or so I thought until ASIM 11. Once it was became my turn to sign my name to an issue, my stance changed. I read a lot of stories for that issue. A couple of them came through the slush-pool, but on the whole the stories I chose were ones that I solicited through the various groups that Lee belonged to at the time. As I found stories I liked, I had to put them into the pool to see how the other members viewed them. Not all were warmly received. One story I accepted was rejected by the group. I had to write to the author and tell him that I couldn't print his story after all. He was lovely about it and offered another story in its place. I took it and then bought the story for TicOn instead. I received a lot of flak for that issue of ASIM from the other members, yet the public loved it. I had people telling me that it was the best issue the co-op has put out to date and it seems true, after winning Best Professional Production at this year's Swancon.
TicOn is a little easier. There's only four of us reading the material and once a 'yes' is entered with either a 'maybe' or another 'yes' it's accepted. While Lee and I don't necessarily share the same tastes in reading, we both have a good eye for what works and what needs work. Lee and I work well together, have respect for each other's opinions and don't let our individual egos get in the way of the product. After all, we're only in this for the love of the genre.

On the whole, I've enjoyed my TicOn experience more than the ASIM one. I love working with Lee. Together with Russell and Liz, we've been able to put out a product that reflects our own personal taste. We like the gonzo stuff and disdain the mundanity of modern fantasy. No fluffy bunnies for us.

2) You're a relatively new name to the production side of the Australian
small press scene, but do you have a vision of the kind of work that should
be in publication that drives you to hunt and rescue, as an editor must,
from the slush pile? And, is there a kind of work that is struggling to find
a venue in this scene?


Generally, I look for two things in a story. Good craftsmanship and originality. And therein lies the rub. I know there are many good writers out there who know how to make one sentence follow another coherently until a readable story is formed. I believe I had an issue full of them. Originality, however, is another matter. Australia isn't keen on pushing the envelope. ASIM could be so influential if it just dared to let the alternative voices speak, but it prefers stories that centres around cute aliens and talking cats. I'm beyond that. I like stories that make you think, that make you question the reality you exist within. (Having said that, Sally Beasley published my story "The Memory of Breathing" within issue 17, a story that tries to do just that.) Sites like TicOn and Shadowed Realms are trying to put out new authors and new ideas, but there's room for a lot of improvement within the scene.

3) It's been said that the Australian Speculative Fiction is not drawing in
enough new readers to see it expand. How would (assuming you agree with it)
go about bringing new and younger readers to the work?


I don't agree with it. I am a member of a writing group that meets together once a month, plus I attend workshops and conventions and what I see convinces me that SF readership is expanding. We have two young writers (aged under 20) at our group, plus Swancon has quite a large young fan base that continues to grow.
I have 5 children and all are either reading SF (John Marsden, Emily Rodda, Dave Luckett) or having it read to them.

4) You're dead. A cage containing a flying monkey fell on you. The Wizard of
Oz has much to answer for. Still, you're dead, and you got to Heaven
(assuming you believe, blah blah) and you see God. You say?


At last, an easy one! I spent 14 years of my life as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This meant I believed, with all my heart and soul, that only a few people made it to Heaven (the 144,000) and that the rest of us would die, stay dead for a while and then be resurrected after Armaggeddon to live forever in the new Paradise that would be established upon the earth. If I did make it to Heaven and met God, I believe I would say; "Well, that's 14 years of my life I'm never getting back."

5) Favourite swear word?

Being a Witness has made it very hard for me to learn to swear. Lee has taught me to say the occasional F word, but I really have to psyche myself into it. I guess my favourite is 'bugger'. It suits so many different occasions, and, as an ex-Witness, I can make it sound really filthy.
Thick and fast

I've had two more 'interviews', this time from Ben Peek and my own beloved.

I'll answer Lee's first because, well, simply because I've already copied the questions and they're sitting on the clipboard.

1. You spent over a decade in a repressive religious system. How does living within such a restrictive set of mores inform your writing?

Well, it makes using swear words harder :) I don't think it changed things on the whole. I still wrote the stories I wanted to write (including one piece of erotica as well as one that relied heavily upon spiritism) but the difference lay in what I sent out. The erotic one was sent (and rejected) when I'd stopped being a Witness and the other was deleted as soon as I'd hit that final full-stop. At 10,000 words it was a long piece of work. I could have deleted it at any stage and saved myself the hassle, but I felt the need to see it through to the end. Looking back, I can see the work was incredibly immature and over-written, but it was still a step in the right direction.

2. Your work often displays levels of subtlety with regards to its SF elements. Do you feel that women writers, and I'm thinking of the likes of Kate Wilhelm here, come at Sf from a more emotional POV then men, in general?

Are you asking if I think that women are emotional writers while men write from logic? Not in my experience. I tend to read more male writers than female and the ones I've read and enjoyed have drawn upon the emotional element. I look at writers such as Harlan Ellison, Tom Reamy, Terry Dowling, Martin Livings and yourself and I find that none of you consistently write the 'hard' or 'in your face' SF. Carol Ryles and James Tiptree Jr on the other hand are capable of logical writing. It all depends on the author.

3. Your story ideas keep turning into novel ideas. Why?

Because at heart I'm a novelist, but the quickest way to build a reputation is through short stories. Each story I write is a step towards a novel and their growing length reflects this. Having said that, I'm working on a piece that's bound to end up as flash.

4. You've gained a reputation as a good editor in quick time. What is it you look for when editing, and what makes the difference between an acceptance and a rejection?

I have fallen into editing quite by accident. Writing is my passion and editing is something I do for the simple pleasure of it.
I look for readability first and foremost. The first story I accepted for publication in ASIM 11 was Rick Kennet's "Time In A Ricebowl" simply because he made me late in picking my kids up from school. The story had that quality that made time seem irrelevant.
I want to know the author cares about his own work. I recently had someone send me something with a cover letter that stated: "Here's some poetry. I think it's sh*t, but you might be able to do something with it." I rejected it without even reading it. If he thinks it's so awful, why does he think I'll want it?
I'm a good editor. I have an eye for what works and what doesn't. This is because I'm a huge reader and have been since the age of 4. I can recognise a good writer who needs practice and a good writer who is lazy and expects me to fill in the blanks. I'll accept the former and reject the latter.
Don't cheese me off when it comes to grammar. And watch your adjectives, and your 'dreaded ly' words. When I finish a story I do a Find (Control F) and count the ly words. I allow words like only and rely to pass, but I look for everything else and try to replace it. Sometimes you can't. I try to have no more than 1 per 5 pages.

5. You've overcome a lifetime of hardship and oppression to get to this place in your life. To what do you credit your ability to continue seeing the positive in people and situations?

I honestly don't know. I'm not a physically strong person, but I do have a mental strength about me. I think I've met the right people at the right times in my life who have helped me in my journey to this point. My maternal grandparents were the most wonderful people in the world. They believed that I was this amazing person who would go on to do amazing things. Their love and trust was unconditional and they helped me hold on to the tiny shred of self-esteem I had. I look in the mirror and like who I am because of them.
I believe in being self-responsible. I don't believe in playing the victim. In the end we're all responsible for our own lives. Yes, terrible things happen to good people, but you have to move on and grow. Don't get me wrong. I didn't just pick myself up and put it all behind me. I've contemplated suicide, lived a wild life, relied upon alcohol, turned to religion (and turned away again), gone through hours and hours and hours of counselling, taken medication for clinical depression and denied my body of food for days on end just so I could feel pain. It hasn't been easy, but I made an effort to change myself. I've been blessed with good friends and loving family who have helped me over the worst hurdles and I'm grateful to each and every one.

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