So, here at home we're in the last few weeks of EXTREME LOCKDOWN (the papers keep trying to add EXTREME with added commentary about Dan Andrews (our State Premier) being a Big Meanie for keeping everyone Locked Up and Alive and for Fixing a Problem that He Started instead of Quitting In Shame which is apparently the Australian Way.
I've spent most of the Lockdown doing the major revisions for Monstrous Heart #2. No word yet if I get to keep the working title or I'll get some suggestions emailed to me as it was for the first book's title (although by suggestions it was more "suggestion" and by that I mean, "told", haha.
But at least most of the heavy lifting between the covers has been done, so that is that. I did get to have some cover input this time, and I got to suggest "can I have some pipes" and my editor goes, "I was thing of something green.." and I was like: "I really want pipes... like in plumbing pipes, with the green copper and all" and on reflection I realised that this was what my editor probably thought I was talking about:
I really do want pipes though...
Media Consumption: the Gen Z in the house has introduced me to "Among Us" https://among-us.fandom.com/wiki/Among_Us
The YouTube algorithm was very keen to push this song "LIONHEART" by Of Monsters and Men on me and it's such a cool little fantasy video THAT IS SO INCREDIBLY SAD https://youtu.be/A76a_LNIYwE
TV Watching in those minutes we can grab them have been divided between THE BOYS - SEASON 2 and JAMES CAMERON'S THE STORY OF SCIENCE FICTION
To much dismay I was meant to be in New Zealand right now! Seeing my friends!
Instead I am here. Oh, if only there had been a bit of that policing that has been so full on for Black Lives Matter diverted to the All Lives Mattering of a damn pandemic. I can't believe that a few months ago Australia and New Zealand were thinking about a travel bubble. My state has gone into lockdown, and there are mutterings of a harder one happening soon.
Hugos are on Twitter at the moment, they are an award that caters to North American creatives mostly, but still interesting. I'll probably check out the winner's list once its done. The big news is that Brisbane has put in a bid for the 2025 Worldcon, though someone (Rose?) pointed out that Odd Years are usually North American years, and Glasgow might be 2024. It would be lovely though.
Played Recently: INSIDE and LIMBO, both available on Steam. The concept of platformers got totally turned on its head, and I'm such an FPS gamer, but I've struggled to find anything that has really grabbed me until these two came along!
So although we've been on Level 3 Restrictions here in #Ronaville there's more of a sense that this is going to drag on forever (Remember a hundred years ago in April, when the vaccine was just around the corner? Well nobody thinks that now...)
But there was some good news, the advance cheque for acceptance of Book 2 landed in the puddle that lives permanently inside my letterbox, and as it dried out on the back of a chair (just like the cheque for the publication of Monstrous Heart's hardcover - my bank is very tolerant of the crinkly bits of paper with the runny ink I keep bringing in) I got confirmation that Book 2 Is Go. There was a moment with current events and all where everything was up in the air but the dice have fallen in the sequel's favour and we are back on track. It will be edited later in the year and after that Book 3, and the Great Task will be ACCOMPLISHED.
Earlier this month I put together the World's Worst Draft of *New Project* but was not too sure when it would likely be seeing the light of day, if sooner or later. New Project will likely fall somewhere after Monstrous Heart's Trilogy and perhaps a book in between, now. (My contract necessitates a "similar work" after MH, and I have something awesome up my sleeve that will suit. ** Obviously it won't be the pandemic novel I wrote, lol. That will have to sit in the vault for another decade!!
Read Recently: Mia Walsch's MONEY FOR SOMETHING
Watched Recently: The "OG" TOTAL RECALL and CONSTANTINE, BATMAN: DARK KNIGHT (on account of there being no TV shows airing at the moment) and BIRDS OF PREY (was good, had room to go darker though)
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.
Also, another damn year is halfway done without me publishing a short story. I have to pull my finger out for that.
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 date came and went with no launch event, as such things do in these days of social distancing. 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.
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...