REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, PART TEN

Over at Facebook, I was tagged in a meme that required me to list three things that made me grateful, every day for three days.

So I thought I’d list them here, too.


  1. I’m grateful for my art. It has provided me with friendships, income, travel opportunities, and was the vehicle by which I escaped the soul-destroying depths off despair I was slowly being crushed by while working in the Public Service. I’ll never be famous, I’ll never be remembered, and I’ll never be considered at even the middle of the tree, but my art has been the thing that has kept me from disappearing into the obscure midst of my mediocre family tree, and I’m grateful.
  2. I’m grateful for a reasonable income. Yes, we struggle, and we juggle finances on a fortnightly basis, but I’m aware that we do so from a level of decent comfort. My children go to a good school, my wife is able to study, essentially, full time, and we have room to both expand our horizons and entertain our hobbies & indulgences. We never suffer, and having both come from backgrounds of grinding poverty, Lyn and I have only ever wanted our children to appreciate a good upbringing.
  3. I’m grateful for the respect of my peers. I get little of it at work, and I rarely feel like an author doing good work, so when a fellow artist expresses their respect or admiration for the work I do then it usually comes as an enormous, and humbling, surprise, because, to be quite honest, I generally don’t know what I do to merit it. I’ve undervalued my work for so long– it’s only in the last fortnight, for example, that I’ve decided to set a minimum fee for appearances, despite doing them regularly for the last 12 years– that I’m always a little stunned when others do value it. And grateful, because sometimes, I doubt I’d go on without it.
  4. I’m grateful for my readers. Despite all the mechanical hoo-ha-ra that goes into writing, ultimately it comes down to entertaining a stranger with the power of your imagination and your words. Anybody who comes back for a second helping, or who picks up my work because they like the cut of my snippets, is someone who has chosen to invest their time and imagination into my maunderings. It’s a weird kind of long-distance love affair of the mind, and I’m thankful to all who take it on.
  5. I’m grateful for my children. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read this Facebook page for long enough– by which I mean half a day or more– my kids constantly entertain me, fill me with wonder, and enrich my life by keeping me innocent, impish and focused on doing good for others who need me in their life. Whether it be my naturally-arrived Miss 12 and Master 9, or my inherited bonus kids Cassie, Aiden and Blake, granddaughter Little Miss 2, grandson Little Man
  6. I’m grateful for the quickness of my mind. I’ve mentioned before that my father’s mind is failing, and it’s killing me to watch a charming, erudite, quick-witted man struggle for words and concepts he used to fling about like gossamer. I love being funny, I love being deliberately unfunny to spark a funny exchange, I love to tease, to argue, to explain, to build worlds and concepts out of nothing more than my vocabulary and my ability to knit words into never before-seen shapes and tastes. All my other gifts belong to the people who bestow them upon me. This is the only thing I have going for me that is purely mine. If it ever begins to desert me, I don’t know what I’ll do.
  7. The care and love shown to Master 9 during his illness by people who have no other investment in it than they are his teachers, or our friends. From just-because gifts, to messages of support, to structuring his classroom, people have gathered round him for the 14 months of his illness and provided him with an atmosphere of caring and support that has done wonders for his morale and self-esteem. To Kris, Kim,Grant, Lilysea, Mark and countless others, my gratitude.
  8. Free education. I went to a shitty High school in the 80s, when my pre-Child Support Agency divorced mother raised two teenage boys and covered a mortgage on a single mother’s pension and a $30 a month in child support payments, and thanks to a nominally free education system I still managed to claw my way through 4 years of University. Now, it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to send my children to a good high school. Much as I would love to do my Master’s degree, I simply can’t afford it. My wife’s attendance at University each semester is a matter of financial negotiation. My eldest sons struggle to hold down shitty part-time jobs and find enough time to attend to their study obligations. If I were starting my educational career today, I’d be working at K-Mart full-time, because that’s the best that people like me could have hoped to afford. I’m grateful that free education enabled me– and subsequently, my children– to escape a lower-class existence through education.
  9. A stable political system. Yes, Tony Abbott and his Ant-Hill Mob of witless cronies are a blight on our culture, and yes, we can argue back and forth about the relative merits of our chosen allegiances until we’re blue in the nads. But nobody shot at me today, and I own my house, and my children are safe and my wife can wear whatever she wants and get herself a tertiary education, and any meal I’ve missed since I was at Uni has been by choice, and I have freedom of travel, speech, religion and thought. And I’m an artist, and a well-paid member of the permanent workforce. I’ve never been conscripted, I’ve never fought in a war, or against my own people. I’ve never been gaoled for my beliefs, tortured, or disappeared. My neighbours don’t spy on me. I’m safe, and warm, and comfortable and educated. And I’m grateful.


And, things being what they are, here’s a little bonus extra grateful content:

10. Above all else, I am grateful for the presence of Luscious Lyn in my life. We have been together almost twelve years now, which boggles me to think of, and in that time we have faced innumerable struggles, traumas and hardships, but throughout it all she has been the pivot around which our family revolves. She has brought me unparallelled joy, belief and support, and whatever happiness I have managed to gather unto myself has been, in large part, because she is beside me, pointing me always towards positivity and joy. I cope, and occasionally flourish, because of her. I am a better person because of her.

And for that we should *all* be grateful.

THEY’RE NOT FISH! FISH DON’T HAVE PAWS!

A couple of months ago, inspired by his friend Kaneda’s Wall-o-fish and with the prospect of inheriting a free tank from a mate, Aiden very politely enquired as to whether he’d be able to keep a couple of fish. We said yes. So he duly brought home said free aquarium, filled it with water and filters and things that made bubbles, and plopped a couple of fish from the local pet store into their spacious new abode.

They died.

We felt pretty bad for the poor kid, so Lyn took him down to the pet store to see if we could get him some less exotic, easier-to-care-for fish. Something a little hardier, more suitable for a beginner, something in the order of goldfish, that he could use to learn about fish care while still experiencing the joy of having brightly coloured fish floating about. Apparently, these fish are called ‘mice’.

I fucking hate mice. But Aiden was thrilled with his purchase, so now we had two mice. We emptied the water out of the tank, replaced the things that made bubbles with things that could be run upon, and bought mouse food. And all was well in the land, at least until the mouse realised that loosely-fitting lids that don’t clip on like they’re supposed to might be all right for fish but are really no match for creatures that can stand on their back legs and run away into the night, giggling (Well, making squeek squeek noises and saying “What shall we do tonight, Brain?”). At which point I gently intimated that perhaps he might like to consider a cage that was not quite so unutterably non-mouse proof. A mouse cage, perhaps.

Enter the inimitable Grant Watson, who had just such a cage going spare, and would we care for it, as he was just going to elbow it otherwise? We certainly would, and took possession with thanks. And a damn spanky one it is too: two spacious cages connected by a series of interlocking tubes, with all sorts of cool mousey entertainment devices for running up and down on, drinking from, and generally lazing about like the mouse equivalent of a supermodel being asked to get out of bed for less than 10 000 blocks of cheese a day. Aiden was at his dad’s for the latter part of the school holidays, so in his absence Blakey put it all together, we transferred the mice into it, and *then* discovered that it was too big to fit on any horizontal surface in the house. (except the dinner table, but there are some centrepieces I do not consider suitable…). Aiden was due home in a few days so we put it on the patio table, with the idea that we would all work out a solution when Aiden got home.

Apparently, a plastic and wire cage is really not that much of an impediment to a hungry cat.

Now, we felt really bad about the loss of the mice: they’d been in our care, and we’d rather cocked it up, despite our best intentions. We let Aiden know what had happened, expressed our regrets, and promised him that, when he returned, we’d take him out and get a couple of replacements. Aiden was cool with it: he understood, and all was well in the land. Yesterday, I returned home from work, and his mum greeted me with the words “Aiden, show lee what you bought at the pet shop today.”

Rats. Two rats.

Aiden is thrilled. Erin and Connor are thrilled. The rats are thrilled. Why wouldn’t they be? They’re currently in a whopping great mouse cage on the desk in Aiden’s nice, warm bedroom. Everybody’s thrilled.

FISH! I said he could have FISH! Since when are rats a form of fucking FISH?

*Incidentally, said rats are named ‘Plague’ and ‘Famine’. Nice…

NIGHT’S EDGE…

…was a fun two days away from the world. Rather than bore you with a detailed Con report (If you’re like me, detailed reports of Cons you didn’t go to leave you a wee bit disinterested), some random personal highlights:
*Two days away from the world, in a hotel room, with Lyn. People should be glad they saw us at all…

* The Wacky Weapons of WWII panel with Paul Kidd. I don’t know Paul socially, but he and I seem to work really well together on panels. It may have something to do with being two geekboys with rampant senses of humour. But it was a funny panel, a very funny panel indeed.

*A spur of the moment pool tournament between me and the boys, in an empty bar during two hours of panels we didn’t fancy attending. For the record, Blake Henry Triffitt, aged 13, is a bloody shark.

*Aiden Triffitt, Mobile Daycare. Three sets of friends brought their under-3s to the Con, and at several moments, Aiden took it upon himself to look after the kids and give said parents some adult time. Nobody told him to, nobody even asked him to. Aiden simply decided that he wanted to help, and what’s more, he was brilliant at it. And to me, it’s a measure of how trusted and respected he is already, at age 14, that the parents in question handed over their babies and then turned their attentions away without constantly checking to see if their kids were okay. They just knew that they were.

*Aiden and Kaneda Go Large. I’ve joked before about how Aiden is turning into ‘One of Ussssssss’. But I will remember this as the Con when he stopped turning, and simply was. We allowed Aiden his freedom, within the usual parental limits, and he didn’t let us down: attending panels on his own, wandering the convention space on his own merits, consorting with the friends he has made by himself (And while many of those friends are also ours, not once did I feel they hung out with him, when we weren’t around, out of anything other than genuine friendship towards him), and interacting with the convention environment as a member in his own right, rather than just ‘Lyn & Lee’s boy’. And when he attended the Saturday night party wearing his pal Kaneda’s hat and boots, and announced that they were heading down to the fan lounge to practice their stunt falls, a Fen was born 🙂

*The Legend of Mothers Sarah. Okay, Kylie as well, but that buggers the Manga reference….. I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for the teensy-tiny people. So I loved seeing babies Nora, Vincent, and Ellie at the con. And much kudos to a monumentally-heavy Callisto for getting through the two days with body and emotions intact.

*The all-in jokefest that started out as a panel on how to survive the apocalypse and ended up as a discussion on whether we could create a horse-drawn internet in time.

*A brand new Grant Watson comic book. My inner Grantfan says Yay. My outer Grantfan agrees.

*Dinner with friends and general attendance. I’ve been away too long.

At this stage, Swancon is theoretically possible, but financially problematic. But unlike last year, I at least want to go.

BIRTHDAY

I turned 37 on Sunday, and didn’t really care, other than that my family showed their love for me by making sure I was well rewarded, and I was able to bask in the glow of their happiness. The boys, especially, blew me away, taking money from their Con budget to sneak out and buy me three DVDs when I wasn’t looking, despite the fact they’d been told that there would be no more money once they’d spent their lot. Having already bought myself the present I desired (a potentially magnificent rare protea longifolia (piccie down the bottom of the page) sapling currently dubbed The Fifty Dollar Stick), it was a touching gesture that genuinely left me speechless. I have a wonderful family, and at the risk of sounding all tree-huggy about it, I’d much rather spend a day in their happy company than be showered with all the gifts in the world. Not that I’m giving any back….

Many thanks also to my good friend Stephen Dedman, who not only presented me with a copy of Men And Cartoons by Jonathon Lethem, over which I’d been seen to lust, but led the assembled crowd in a chorus of Happy Birthday at the end of my last panel, causing me to lapse into embarrassed mumbleness.

And thank you to the long list of friends, colleagues, and facebook pals who have contacted me to wish me a happy one. A happy one was had, everyone. (Incidentally, big slaps on back to Simon Haynes and Chris Barnes, fellow no-longer-unique Remembrance Day birthday boy writer types)

But, as has become my tradition, at least mentally, I now present thee with the by-no-means-comprehensive list of famous people wot I have outlived. To whit:

THEY DIED AGED 36, POSSIBLY WITH BOOTS ON

Marilyn Monroe; Diana, Princess of Wales; Georges Bizet; George, Lord Byron; George Armstrong Custer; Veronica Guerin; Doc Holliday; Blind Lemon Jefferson; Casey Jones; Phil Lynott; Bob Marley; Maximilian Robespierre; Henri Toulouse-Lautrec; Gene Vincent; and Nathanael West.

This is, of course, hardly an exhaustive list. Feel free to contribute your own favourite dead 36 byear old, and we’ll start the cloning process.

SOLD!

It’s been an interesting year, as far as story sales have gone. What with other projects and Real life ™, sales have somewhat resembled a cowboy riding a falling nuclear bomb. That is, they’ve been Slim Pickens (Zap! Pow Kapiiingggg! Comedy GOLD!)

Ahem.

Aaaaanyway, the good news is that I received an email from Stuart Mayne of Aurealis last night, to tell me that they’ve accepted my urban Peter Pan fantasy story Never Grow Old. Which makes me happy indeed. It will appear in issue 40, which is due to be born in December. Never Grow Old marks my 5th sale to Aurealis. If the magazine were the Luftwaffe, that’d make me an ace, and I’d get to wear a little square of coloured cloth on the breast area of my t-shirt when I go to Cons.

Damn I’m in a strange mood today.

AHWA MENTORSHIPS ON AGAIN

Marty Young, happy and disturbingly attractive severed-head honcho of the Australian Horror Writer’s Association, contacted me during the week to sound out my interest in being involved in their mentorship program again next year. Given the fantastic time I had working with Mark Smith-Briggs this year, my reply was an immediate and enthusiastic Yes!

This time around, I’ll be making myself available to work with short stories, and scripts of up to 45 minutes length. No official announcements yet, but applications are likely to be open as of January 1st for mentorships to begin sometime towards March. I’ll let you know as details become available.

REMIX MY LIT

Also from the cool project front comes my participation in the Remix My Lit project. Several established authors will have their stories ‘remixed’ by up and coming new scribes, and the results, as well as the original stories, will be made available using a Creative Commons license, for people to read and to remix themselves. A dauntingly-talented list of writers from a wide variety of genres, including our own Kim Wilkins, has already signed on for what should be an awful lot of fun. More details are available at the website, and like always, I’ll keep you posted as details present themselves.

A BIG SHINY FLOWER AT THE END OF THE POST

Ooooohh, gardenporn 🙂

TRYSERRA TOPS

Named by my five year old daughter, impetus provide by my 14 year old Bonus son…. I’ve opened a cafe press store to provide a home for all the silly one-liners, cartoons, scribbled pictures of dinoasaurs, and sundry ideas that we think someone might like to have on a t-shirt.

So, as the title says: Tryserra Tops.

There’s a link over there 44444444444

Right now I’ve put up one item, but I’ll be adding more as I get the time, and letting you know, including some dinosaur designs and the odd bizarre thing involving Daleks.

JOKE OF THE DAY

You can blame Aiden for this one:

Q: What’s the difference between 100 dead babies and a Ferarri?
A: I don’t have a Ferarri in my garage.

Thengyew, thengyewwww…..

WELL NOW, WASN’T THAT FUN?

Now, treat this is apocryphal, because I’m quoting from memory, but the story goes that by the last 60s, Robert Silverberg had developed a reputation as a pretty gun wordage-for-hire man. If you needed 5000 words of alien invasion story with a twist ending by Tuesday, RS was your man. Critical acclaim wasn’t heading his way overmuch, but you know, he was making a living and it was all good.

Then he and his wife went out for dinner one night, and came home to find they didn’t have one. A fire had taken the lot, including every piece of work past, present, and future that Silverberg had in his files.

Faced with the loss of his career, Silverberg decided to treat the event as a beginning, rather than an end– an opportunity to put his mid-level days behind him and write the kind of SF art that he’d been itching for, but had never had the space to try. From that decision came the Silverberg who wrote Thorns, and Tower of Glass, and The Book of Skulls, and well, go ahead and pick your own favourite Silverberg novel of the 70s.

So why am I telling you this? Guess where I’ve been for the last week. No, go on: guess.

Yup. In Why-didn’t-I-back-up-my-hard-drive hell.

Booted up last Friday, ready to roll on all the stuff that needs rolling upon (except Luscious, of course. She’s in Brisbane until next weekend. I’ll be rolling on her when she gets back) and…… nothing.

No booting. No little Microsoft dooby-doo-doo to welcome me to my desktop. Nowt.

I’ve lost it all. All my files, all my music, all my writing, all my photos. Everything. The Corpse-Rat King is gone. The 80 or so short stories in progress are gone. The movie script is gone. The final edited draft of Napoleone’s Land is gone. 4 years of photography, almost all gone (I’ve got some of Connor and some of Erin and not a lot of much else). After a week of progressively harder scouring of my disc with no success, my IT people have loaded me up a fresh hard disc, a few basic programs, and what percentage of data they did manage to save.

No, I didn’t back up. Yes, I deserve the angst.

I am left with: a previous draft of Napoleone’s Land that I discovered while cleaning my office this week. By my best estimates, it’s 2 drafts old, minimum. But hey, at least I have it. 6 short stories I had printed out to line edit. Producer Matt’s email address.

Onwards and upwards, eh?

NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, HERE ARE THE CONGRATULATIONS!

Typical: spend a week without a computer, and everybody starts having cool days. So:

Big woohoos to Aiden, who turned 14 on the 2nd. An envelope with a ticket in it doesn’t look like much of a present, but a night at the Walking With Dinosaurs Live show next week is as close to the perfect gift as we could have given him. And, you know, we got him God of War as well. I’d ask him whether he likes it, but he’s too busy playing to talk.

Of course, now he’s 14 we’ll have to sit down and have that little talk. It’s about time, too. Maybe he’ll be able to tell me where babies come from….

Talking of which (oh yeah, baby, they gonna call me Mister Segue!) I’m over many moons to welcome Indigo Winter Lindsay to the circus: 4th daughter of my oldest friend Seanie and his lovely wife Terri, who joined us at 2.30 on the morning of the 8th. Remember: boys are icky, horses smell like poo, and dinosaurs rock! Now go ask Daddy for a trust fund.

Soundtrack: Get Shorty, The Soundtrack
Reading: BPRD- The Universal Machine Mignola, Arcudi & Davis

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE I INTEND TO JOIN THEM IN CHANGING

When I started writing, I wanted one thing: to sell a story. I did it, and I liked it, and so my thoughts turned to something else: selling more stories. I did that, too, and I liked it. And in the process of selling more stories, I met people, and became involved in their lives, even if only in an editor-supplicant relationship. I attended convetions, and writer centres, and began email conversations, and joined mailing lists, and posted on LJs, and got into arguments, and became a public figure, and was asked to help organise things, and became distracted, and received hate mail, and had demands made on me and my friendship that I had not welcomed, and demands that I welcomed, and became further distracted, and gossiped, and was gossiped about, and read flists, and wondered where the time was going, and dealt with bruised egos, and dealt with my own bruised ego, and placated people, and inflamed others, and was asked to help organise other things, and made appearances, and somewhere along the line…

I’m not enjoying this anymore.

I have made some wonderful friendships in the last 4 and a bit years. I’m lucky to know, and like, and hopefully be liked in turn, by such people as Stephen Dedman, Dave Luckett, Grant Watson, Kate Eltham, Rob Hoge, Geoffrey Maloney, Russell Farr… there’s a long list.

But somewhere along the line, this field that I came into because I loved reading it and because it was fun, has stopped being that way.

When I started, it was fun to write, and it was more fun to sell, and it was even funnererest to see my name in print. Now I’ve moved so far from what I enjoyed that I have seriously entertained giving the whole thing away in the last couple of weeks. It would not be a million miles from the truth to say that it is the presence of Conflux on my personal calendar that has stopped me from doing so.

However, things will be changing, come dawn next Wednesday, when I return to the world.

The LJs are gone. The volunteering, likewise. The mailing lists: gone. Getting involved: gone. If I am your friend, don’t worry: I’m not going that far. But if you’ve enjoyed seeing me somewhere on the net being all argumentative and opinionated, better, if you’ve enjoyed trying to find my knees so you can take a cut at them: gone. If you’ve got this fabulous project that just has to have my name attached to it or you will die: thank you. I appreciate your faith in me and my name, and should it be a real project, with a publisher on board and a certified release date and/or a professional relationship involved, then I am a writer and we will do business, but I am no longer in the business of faith, so you’ll have to provide me with a little more than sweet smells and promises.

What was fun, when I began, was writing, and selling, and seeing my name in print. And it is that to which I shall be returning.

TWO DEFINITIONS OF FAMILY

Had two social occasions over the weekend, which provided a perfect reminder of the familial world in which I wander.

Saturday night we attended a party to celebrate PRK and Tori on their engagement. When I wasn’t busy looking after Connor, I found time to relax and enjoy the company of some of the closest members of my self-appointed village. I even managed to provide entertainment for Tori, Calli & Luscious when PRK and I shared a kiss, just for them 🙂 Dinner and a show…

Whether I enjoy their company at times or not (and vice versa), these are the people with whom I choose to surround myself. It’s an important point. I don’t open up well, and most people I know see the performer rather than the man underneath. It’s a neat way to give the illusion of familiarity without having to risk anything. Often I risk something, and bear the scars later. But John & Sarah, Ju, Sheldon, PRK & Tori, the Sunday Night Crew as a whole… nah. It may be rough on them sometimes, when I’m dealing with black dogs, or generally just being the shit I can be, but on Saturday night I was relaxed enough to remember that you choose a village for very good reasons, and one of those reasons is that these are the people with whom you want to share something of yourself.

And these are the people who reward you without effort, when you can wander at will through a house, and turn a corner to find this:

A daughter, a friend, a rug is cut

When friends enjoy what you bring in to the world, not because they have to but because they choose to, you’re doing all right.

On Sunday we travelled to Whiteman Park to meet up with my relatives for a picnic lunch. My Aunt and Uncle were over from Nottingham and Dad had organised for us to spend some time together before they flew back. I’ve met Uncle David and Aunty Celia maybe three times since I came out here in 1975. They’re nice people, but on the ladder of familiarity, 3 times in 30 years ain’t a big relationship.

However, something that has become apparent to me in recent days is that your definition of family can be as flexible as you choose it to be. Two nice people who I barely know can be family because my father, who has known his sister all his life (duh) tells me so. And I will happily accept it, because it is a paradigm we choose to share, and because it results in pleasant afternoons in the park with good conversation and a game of kick to kick.

And who am I to argue, when both my Bonus Sons, who I have known for less than 4 years but with whom I have a relationship that bodes no steps, or halves, or complications, insist their Uncle and Pop (and as far as they are concerned, my brother and my father are Uncle and Pop: no steps, or halves, or complications) get out on the grass with them for a kick to kick, so that I am part of a group that consists of: my father, who I have known all my life; my brother, who I have known all his life; two boys with whom I share no biological link other than mutual love; a daughter to a wife who is no longer alive and who shares no biological link to her older brothers; and a son I have with my wife, who shares only half his biology with both sister and brothers.

And not one of that group bothers with steps, or halves, or complications.

A MIND FOR ALL AGES

I cannot comment. All I can do is quote:

AIDEN TRIFFITT: I’m not telepathic, but I am tele-apathetic. I make other people stop caring…

THE HORIZONS EXPAND AGAIN

I’ve grown bored with my reading practices in recent days, and, what with being too skint to buy books, have decided to pull out some of the dust-collectors on my shelf and actually read those books I said I’d get around to reading one of these days. As much as possible, I’m steering away from the heavy SF/F feel that has dragged me down in recent days.

Started with Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby. A safe bet: I generally enjoy Palahniuk, and he does things thematically and stylistically which we as genre writers consider ourselves dead clever for being the only ones to gte away with, whilst not falling under our banner, so it’s nice to remind myself that such a trick can be done. I didn’t think the book was his best, but still, it was a good way to get into a new swing, and enjoyable to read.

Second off the rank this week, Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume. Gave up after 80 or so pages. Just can’t bring myself to enjoy a writing style that considers itself clever for deliberately ignoring all the basics we consider indispensable to the craft, then makes sure to point out to the reader how they are being ignored.

As of yesterday, started in on Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds. And how engaging and delightful it is, brimful of characters and with a style and grace I haven’t encountered for quite some time. Stephen Dedman’s been recommending this book to me at regular intervals for a couple of years, and he’s right so far.

Don’t know what’s nextr, but I’m not planning to buy much of anything at Conflux due to continuing skintness, so I think I’ll be staying with my new reading habit for a while longer.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: AWWWWWWWWWWWW

Connor, because his reputation as cutest baby boy in the known universe isn’t already complete, has started to say “Battersby”. Just so’s you know, the three most gorgeous syllables in the world are ‘Ba-ah-peeeeee”.

And when I put him down for his nap this afternoon, he looked up at me from the cot and said “Nigh nigh Da-dee”.

I lost the power of my knees…

A BIG WEEKEND

So, speaking of Conflux, the programme has been released in something approximating its final form. Like all Cons, it’s subject to last minute catastrophes and changes of plan, but you should expect to see me talking it up at the following times:

Friday, 2pm: Back to Basics: Cover Letters, Manuscripts, and Rejections. Active pros and semi–pros in writing, editing, and publishing talk about the dos and don’ts in submitting your stories. With: Lyn Battersby, Trudi Canavan, Cory Daniells

Saturday, 1pm: Choosing Your Monster. Which monsters are over-used? And which are still untapped resources of evil for your stories? Can we still get something new from werewolves and dragons, or have these been ‘done to death’? How do you go about building a new kind of monster? And is the worst kind of monster really the monsters we keep inside ourselves? With: David B. Coe, Stephen Dedman, Rjurik Davidson

Sunday 12pm: Book Launch Through Soft Air. With the fabulous Dave Luckett saying a few words in my defence.

Sunday 1pm: Writers and Illustrators of the Future. Initially established in 1983 by L. Ron Hubbard, the Writers of the Future Contest was aimed at discovering and then publishing deserving amateur and aspiring speculative fiction writers. Now one of the premier writing contests in the field, it has a record of bringing writers to the attention of publishers and helping launch their professional careers. Find out more about the contest from past winners, and its companion the Illustrators of the Future Contest, and how the contests provide a means for new writers and illustrators to make their mark. With: Sean Williams Cat Sparks, Richard Kerslake

Sunday 4pm: All Aliens, All the Time! Stories Without Homo Sapiens. Aliens, androids, and anthropomorphy: what’s the appeal of stories without humans? What are the challenges for writers? How do you present a view that is both alien, and understandable? And how do you go about making analogies in an otherworldly world? With: Andrew Williams, Rjurik Davidson, Michelle Marquardt, Joan D. Vinge.

Monday 10am: Writing 101: What New Novelists Have Just Found Out and You Want to Know. You’ve written your book and now you’ve sold it—your problems are over, right? Er… These new novelists spill the beans and tell you how to prepare for a whole new world of pain (and pleasure). With: Katie Taylor T.J. Arryn, David Carroll.

Monday 2pm: Clarion South: Learn how to be a professional science fiction writer. The Clarion South Writers Workshop has been described as the most important opportunity for writers of science fiction and fantasy in the southern hemisphere. Aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction learn from Australian and international pros in an intensive “hot-house” environment. Attend this panel to find out how to apply, how to get accepted, and how Clarion South wil change your life. With: Kate Eltham,Rjurik Davidson, Cat Sparks, Lily Chrywenstrom, Sean Williams

In addition, I shall be channeling the ghost of Martin Livings at the launch of his brillfabliest novel Carnies at 12pm on Saturday, following which I shall be accepting my dead chick (otherwise referred to as the Australian Shadows 2006 Award).

Luscious fetishists can see the object of their admiration at:

Friday 1pm: Ghosts in the Attic. The ghost story is a staple of the horror genre. What’s its appeal? Which are the best early ghost stories? How has it evolved in the past hundred years? Who’s writing the best ones now? With: Robert Hood, Leigh Blackmore, Ellen Datlow

Friday 4pm: Cross-Pollinating or contaminating? This panel discusses fiction that crosses genres – fantasy/romance, horror/mystery, science fiction/fantasy and more. When does it succeed? When does it fail? And what are some great examples of cross genre works? With: Ellen Datlow, Jack Dann, Simon Brown, Robert Stephenson

Sunday 1pm: Sci Fi Women: Where are They Now? How has Rose Tyler changed the role of the female companion in Doctor Who? Has the new Starbuck changed the possibilities for women on TV? How are other women treated in Battlestar Galactica? What about women in Farscape? Stargate? Firefly? Andromeda? Babylon 5? With: Jonathan Hardy, Zara Baxter

See you there, non?

A HOUSE FULL OF BODIES

It’s been a loud and hectic week, this past week in the Batthouse. We’ve had the Triffkids for the last week of the school holidays, and it was brilliant. Things may be loud when all 7 of us are in the one place, but the benefits of having a large family make every moment worthwhile. We didn’t do much this holidays, apart from a few activities centred around a bit of news I divulge later in the post, but the act of just hanging out with such intelligent, vibranht, enjoyable kids leaves me feeling froody.

The days after taking them to their dad’s place are always a bit low for us, but it was too good a week to hurt for long.

WHY MY WIFE HATES MY BONUS KIDS

On the other hand, I’m a bit worried about Luscious. Blakey went to a friend’s place for a party mid-week, so she let Aiden & Cassie see a movie. More to the point, she let them see Sky High. A Kuuurrrrtttt movie! And Aiden’s far too young to look at Linda Carter and have rewarding flashbacks.

It could take years for the scars to surface….

HOORAY FOR THE A-BOY

Aiden had his trophy presentation for soccer during the hols. We thought he was in with a real shot for Most Improved Player, given how far he’s come since the start of the season, but he was gazumped by (wait for it) the coach’s daughter. Now, I haven’t seen her play before this season, so I’m not suggesting that the fix was in, but I’m just going to mention that you can read all my entries about Aiden’s progress and decide for yourself whether anyone else could improve that much in the same team…

Anyway, we couldn’t be more proud of him. He loves the game, and the medal he received didn’t leave his neck from the day he got it until it was time to leave. It was a deserved reward for a young man who gave everything to playing a sport he’s grown to love, and I’m a very punch-pleased Bonus Dad. And here’s a gratuitous photo so’s I can show off 🙂

Call him, Hiddink. He’s waiting……

You know, no sooner does the A-boy take up soccer than the NSL changes its name to the A-League. Talk about your destiny!

BEST LINE OF THE HOLIDAYS (or SPOT THE DELIBERATE MISTAKE)

BLAKE (11 years old): Who’s John Lennon?
AIDEN (Much older, and more mature, ie: 12): (In mocking tones) You don’t know who John Lennon is?
BLAKE: No
AIDEN: Duuuuuuh. He sang “You’re The Voice”.

And much Coke was sprayed…..

WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE THE FOXTEL WAY

I love having so many documentary channels. The History of Science Fiction and HG Wells docos last Sunday night gave us enough excuse to invite Martin and Dr Izz over for din-dins and watching. We had a fabulous time, as we always do in their company, and I was especially pleased to learn that Isabelle is fascinated by Wells, something we share.

I find myself searching for ways to catch up with them before they depart for England at the end of the year. I’ve also decided that it’s all a clever plan on the part of Martin to increase his overseas sales– frustrated that he can sell to Australian magazines but not American or British ones (another thing we share…) he’s going to go over there, send stories back here, and they’ll count!

Cunning devil!

BUY MY UNWANTED CRAP!

This Saturday, from 10.30 to 3.30, at the Leederville Town Hall on Vinent Street, Swancon are holding a Geek Trash & Treasure as a fundraiser.

Luscious and I will be there, with the fruits of our book/comic/video cleanout. Nothing over 2 bucks, come on down!

ADVENTURES OF AN ADDICTED BOOK BUYING GUY

Luscious and the kids met me after work today, and we went into Fremantle to have a picnic and play in the park. But we needed to buy drinks, so we found a teeensy little bookstore with a coke machine….

And I found Walking with Dinosaurs: The Evidence and a hardback copy of Tales From Earthsea for ten bucks each. And we bought the drinks and left the shop inside 90 seconds of entering.

I am BOOKBUYMAN!!!!!!!!!!!

PROUD HUBBY TIME

As if it should have ever been in doubt, Luscious’ brilliant story from ASIM 17, The Memory of Breathing, has been picked up for Year’s Best Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2005.

In my humble opinion, it’s the best horror story of the year, and if it doesn’t make the Aurealis Awards short list at least, it’ll point out what a load of bollocks that particular award is. I’m an amazingly proud hisband right now, all the more because it’s so obviously a deserved recognition for a wonderful writer who has yet to hit her straps. When she does, nobody will be talking about me any more.

Of course, no one does now, but that’s not the point. Well done, my darling. You deserve it.

ON THE ROAD AGAIIIIINNNNN……

Well, here’s an announcement.

We’re moving.

The house is on the market, there’s a sign out the front, we’re leaving exotic Huntingdale and moving North of the River to facilitate the arrival of Aiden into our midst on a permanent basis. We’re looking at Clarkson, for any Perthites with a road map and sense of adventure. We’ve had half a dozen people through the house since Thursday, and we’ve not had an open house yet! The agent thinks that we’ll be hard done by if we don’t sell the place within 4 weeks.

It’s weird: I’ve a lot of emotional investment in this place, having bought 2 children home here, as well as my late wife Sharon and my darling Luscious. Almost all the plans I’ve made these last 5 years have involved being here, and inside 2 weeks of making the decision, half the house is packed away, and we’re one person from being out the door and never seeing the place again. I’m eager for somewhere new, excited at the thought of finding a house that Lyn and I can call ours from the very beginning, and yet there’s a tiny part of me that’ll want visiting rights. “Please, can’t I just see the patio every alternative weekend?”

On the other hand, it’s hard to argue with an appraisal that gives you a 240% profit on what you paid for the place 🙂

It was either this or a peaceful life. Pictures and advertorial as soon as I upload them.