GROAN, as I type we are back under lockdown in my state, or at least, some suburbs are. Fortunately the gym has re-opened, but to 10 people per session so everything looks deserted and the entry requirements are the equivalent of visiting someone in a Supermax penitentiary. A day before the restrictions came back down again I went to a rather large party of old friends and there was a sense we might not see each other again for ages... its been 14 days and I haven't come down with the 'Rona yet so that's a positive.
I'm thinking about moving all my keyboard and maker stuff to another page! I have a few PCB/Raspberry Pi/MCU projects I want to do shortly and in terms of branding this might not appeal to everyone but I think they're ace so I'll talk less here and more there. I've gained soldering iron burns on my hands. It's like one of those Fantasy stories where people recognise each other by the injuries of their profession.
That's pretty much it! I've got some days off, so I'll be writing, soldering, and (painfully) working out.
As I type I'm on a very nice set of Dolch keycaps with DSS tooling from Signature Plastics. Thankfully after all the buying up of last month, all my keycaps and keyboard bits came in weeks later when I needed the pick-me-up of nice things.
Australia has lifted its lock-down in increments. Some of the things are still closed, like gyms (boo) but coffee shops should be opening soon, and kids will be all back at school after the Queens Birthday in June. Obviously all this is going to be conditional on the Rona not coming back for Round 2, Electric Boogaloo.
Now I know that posting wordcounts is very contentious in these days of artistic uncertainty, but I'm up to 60K on my latest project codenamed: Three Gods. (Maaaan, I'm not gonna use the word "god" in a title, c'mon, it's a codename folks) It's tentatively 4 books long, down from some stupid number like... oh, it was edging to 10 books, Wheel of Time Style. As these things go, I have to write one book, and have my agent try to sell the whole shebang to publishers before I'm supposed to write the other 3, but I'm at that stage when I'm super committed emotionally to finishing the whole thing, which will take careful vetting at the selling stage. Now that there is a possibility of things getting real, I find myself lingering upon the spines of books and wondering who would be a good fit. (Note: Certainly not the unfriendly editor who gave me stink-eye many years ago at a convention when I pitched it to them during some weird pitching event. Agent has a couple of clients published under the Stink-Eye Imprint, I'll have to make a note for him not to submit there, for my memory is long, my grievances petty and that guy was deeply unpleasant when he didn't need to be.)
But that concern is probably not something I'll have to fuss over until the end of the year. I still have another 100K to go. Who knows what publishing infrastructure the virus will leave standing?
Also, another damn year is halfway done without me publishing a short story. I have to pull my finger out for that.
Anyway, I'm going to round out these blog posts with links to obscure (or maybe not!) music I've been listening to, and Holy Holy's Cover of Beyonce's "Hold Up" is really different and as heartbreaking as the original. <Link>.
Last time I checked in there was a pandemic. Still going! It's like a Dr Who episode where he was on a ship that never seemed to go anywhere. Book launch came and went, as such things do. Oh well, it is done. I got to do an interview with another writer who had been lurking on the edges of the community. (Mate, if you've written a book, you are more than welcome into the inner sanctum!)
Work and school has devolved into weird punctuated virtual conversations with long lag times in between people speaking. I bought a (new-ish) laptop and it went straight into home schooling. I bought another laptop to put aside in case my current one and its gorgeous pre-2013 keyboard dies... now I have 2 replacements and the horror of switching out may be averted for a few more years.
My current obsession is currently mechanical keyboards, on account of me moving my working space to the kitchen table (rather than my local... shut... cafe). Its a whole new world of beautiful things. My (still going but only as an ember of interest) wristwatch obsession was hampered by the fact that most of the watches were priced well out of my budget. Keyboards are more handy, within budget, and have a similar odd thing I've discovered with hobbies that are highly gendered in a world that tries to police gender borders and roles so much more these days. Call it western society's toxic masculinity, but there are very few places for men to express their love of aesthetics and beauty, so these communities take ordinary daily items and make them extraordinarily beautiful. Key-switches like sapphires. Keycaps in pinks and gradients and pastels. Crafting with jewel-like beads of plastic, gold springs, polished brass. Sound recordings of the tiny ping a switch might make in a polycarbonate housing, or how it races on a graph of tension and release
I remember reading on a watch forum where a user commented that in our current culture men were not encouraged to wear beautiful things like jewelry , so lavished great amounts of time on their wristwatches, the point and tint of a second hand, the way a date-font might fall under a magnifying dome, or the hand-made perfection of a leather strap.
It's been such an interesting diversion, and I've not been too guilty about spending time on the keyboard forums, as I use a keyboard all the time, for work and home, and if I'm going to be tying for hours, I might as well enjoy the experience.
Talking about typing for hours, I've started on a new book series. Yes, epic fantasy, about 200 pages in at the moment but I might have to change my name to... and stand by for the irony... something less gendered.
So how about this apocalypse, huh? Who knew it would be so fraught with pasta and toilet roll buying. I only panic-shopped once, when I was given a list for 4 families of elderly people and 1 family of mine last week (mine, my partners, friends of my late mother's), and then had to sleep for 12 hours. So exhausting.
So, dreams must be deferred via quarantine. All the wonderful things one imagines upon releasing one's book must be bundled up and put back in the glory box. There shall be no signings, no launch, no bookshop visits, no trips around the country, no overseas jaunt to Worlddcon where I would have been a Person Of Some Standing and not an un-person. Two conventions here already cancelled: Swancon and Continuum, the latter which was to be my hard-launch. This is the case for a lot of people. My 2020 Debuts Facebook group is a shambles of people missing out on dream tours.
Oh well, to sally forth. Stay well everyone! Until next week!
Nope, not being intentionally depressing, its just after a sunny streak its raining outside again! Melbourne is getting some of the downpour that Tasmania is copping. So long Summer, we hardly knew you and your choking, poisonous air. Roll on flu season and toilet-paper hoarding.
The tyranny of distance has been overcome! As I mentioned in the last post there is quite a goodly distance between myself and the hardback editions of Monstrous Heart, so now I'm having some bookplates couriered to me from the UK office to put inside a fantastic subscription book service which I will mention closer to the date.
I'm still working on that animated gif by the way. The only computer in the house that can handle such nonsense is also commandeered by an individual who shall remain nameless, but who needs excessive processing power to play Roblox at every waking moment.
For non-writing news, we recently finished watching Chernobyl (the HBO mini-series) in Chateau McKenna, and I have never been so genuinely terrified by a TV show as I was during that first episode. That combination of foreknowledge and people's insistent stupidity and inability to accept that they were wrong... I then consumed every bit of wikipedia about Chernobyl and nuclear power in general before being glad we are on track to just do some wind and solar, and the "scare event" consists of a vane flying off the turbine and landing in a field. (Heart palpitations return to normal.)
So, it looks like the pointy end of Monstrous Heart's book release is coming, 35 days and counting. So much for finishing off Book 3 before Book 1's release!
Unfortunately having a publisher on the other side of the world means that my pen and reader's books aren't going to be making any intimate contact soon, however the Australian publishing gods and Harper Collins AU have decreed that there will be signed copies available if you happen to live/buy books in the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne. Otherwise I'll have Book Plates available via post... stand by for more information.
On more slightly random trajectory when it comes to publicity, I'm climbing that learning curve known as the "animated gif of a book cover". Now there are a few sites that will do a layer of flames and snow which got done by everyone and therefore got old in about 3.6 seconds, but any animation of cover elements is another order of magnitude altogether and either involves someone (me) with a questionably obtained Photoshop CS2, low-res poster art and the patience to M A N U A L L Y R E M O V E the title and A N I M A T E the tentacles which takes D A Y S if not W E E K S.
Anyway, I shan't complain - it's actually kind of fun, and an excuse to get back into the image manipulation saddle. When I was mucking around with film-making, I once painted in a special effect frame-by frame, so this is a little similar. But eventually I'm going to have to get this book series wrapped up and move on to the next one, so of course I'll need to limit the amount of faffing with the Photoshop and more typing.
On that note I bought a new typing chair. It's very 70's looking IKEA Alefjall. It was highly expensive, but the only comfortable one in the showroom so I girded my loins and clutched my purse and bought the bloody thing. Ow, my credit card.
2019 was A Lot.
Most of the things that happened were carry-overs from 2018, so it just felt like a lot of mopping up another year's party. Apart from my mother passing away in January--another 2018 thing that found its end early, the rest was pretty low-key. Nothing new was started creatively, so my only credit for the year was a Highly Commended at the Scarlet Stiletto Awards for a story I might work on a little more. The short story collection met a most inglorious end: I was going to do it as a publishing venture with people I've worked with before, but one of the folks involved had a public falling out drama with another editor they'd worked with and nasty personal stuff was aired on social media and well... so it goes.
I made some new friends in June, during the Rotorua Geysercon convention, Convergence the next week and through other various writerly things, although most of those were instances of people circling in the social group for ages and FINALLY we meet with proper introductions rather than stink-eye and nodding from opposite sides of the room.
This year's writer's retreat was on a boat to Kangaroo Island (10/10 will go there again), which was possibly far too emotionally ambitious for me given I'd only had my mum's funeral a fortnight before. But when you've spent a year organising something for (16?) people it begins to get larger than pesky things like life and death.
Fortunately the retreat was buffered by spending the Australia Day long weekend in Canberra with some old urban exploring friends on some of the hottest days of the year. I had a sudden premonition of great horror and decided to stay in a genuine Roach Motel over the border, and even then it was a palace compared to the one-star caravan park lodge I'd previously volunteered to bunk in: I took a wrong turn looking for their cabin while in the compound and ended up in the long-term accommodation section, which bore not a dissimilar appearance to the post-apocalyptic Bartertown from Mad Max.
The Trip Advisor link is here. It was definitely... something. https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel_Review-g255057-d1410557-Reviews-or25-Southside_Village-Canberra_Australian_Capital_Territory.html#REVIEWS
Finally, the volcano I had visited with my mother back in '09 after her cancer diagnosis and whilst I was pregnant with my son, and visited again just prior to Geysercon, the one used as a location for my book's sequel, erupted in December. It was definitely A Lot seeing places I knew well suddenly blanketed in ash. I had several days of "There But For The Grace Of God..." anxieties afterwards. I had planned on bringing my Mum's ashes to White Island and had reconsidered at the last minute. She still sits on my bookshelf in a Keep Calm And Carry On" tea-box. I'm not sure what it would have meant for her to be in a deadly volcano instead.
(Photos to come)
New Year's Eve had me exchanging my labour this year. The building where I sometimes work was having renovations so there was no water except for the hot poison out of the century-old tap that tasted like nuclear waste, so I spent most of the night trying to hunt down enough slabs of bottled water for 50 people. Also the lights in the ladies toilets weren't working so we had to go with phone-lights and the incidental illumination of the laser-light show outside.
Someone suggested we steal the water from the police who were set up in the equally Blade-Runner Tears-In-Rain rotting-room across from us but they didn't even have a functional tap. One of my staff got food poisoning and had to be taken to hospital. It was A Night.
(More photos coming as irrefutable proof)
That was it, though I might add more as I remember. I finished the decade crawling in to bed exhausted from 8 hours of pushing through crowds. 2019, in the bin. We will see how the next one goes...
The final cover of Monstrous Heart was revealed a couple of days ago in the Harper Voyager UK Twitter feed. The pre-order link is here: