London in August

So I missed the mad rush for rooms for  Loncon 3,  the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, which is being held in London between 14 and 18 August, that apparently happened in the early hours of this morning. The people running the con are doing their best to manage the demand for accessible and affordable rooms in one of the biggest and most expensive cities in the world, and that meant lotteries and late night rushes. I secured a room of sorts, but am still tinkering.

Oh, and as  I should have mentioned I am attending the convention with my twelve year old daughter, with a side trip to Paris and the south of France,  and need to arrange rooms and flights, but haven’t really got my act together.  Lots to do!

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Birthday

Well, yesterday was the big day. I was smothered in gifts and had a lovely lunch with family. I was probably still a little bit below par due to illness, but am definitely close to full recovery and enjoyed myself more than I have at any point in the preceding two weeks.

I had, of course, intended to do a little work. Heck, I intended to do some today. Instead, yesterday was slackness and configuring my sparkly, shiny new MacBook Air, and today was errands, cricket and not really much more. I’m getting close to where I have to get things done or terrible trouble will result. I have a party tomorrow night, but tomorrow I really need to get my best of the year intro drafted. It’s that time of the year!

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Successful, but challenging…

There are times when it’s difficult to reconcile the differences between various aspects of your life.  So far this year has been successful, but challenging. Since returning from World Fantasy in Toronto I have sold four new anthologies, including finding a wonderful new home for my ‘best of the year’s series, been commissioned to edit a special issue of a magazine I love and respect, worked with my colleagues and dear friends at Locus on eight issues of the magazine, recorded 26 episodes of the Coode St Podcast with my partner-in-crime Gary K. Wolfe and several episodes of the Last Short Story podcast, had Gardner Dozois call two of my books the best science fiction and the best fantasy anthologies of the year, attended a terrific convention in Canberra, been incredibly fortunate to have two of my books win the Locus and Aurealis Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. I also saw Bruce Springsteen live in Sydney, a fine Elvis Costello show, a good Rickie Lee Jones show, and half of a You Am I gig that I was happy to see. With a little luck I’ll see more. And, of course, Miss 11 got into the Gifted and Talented Program, which made me almost insanely proud.

But, at the same time things have been difficult and challenging for me at my day job. Nothing seriously wrong, and I am very fortunate to work with a great group (from my director to my manager to my immediate colleagues), but it’s not been much fun. I’ve also had a string of minor health problems, starting with what looks to have been a nasty ear infection that has left me with slightly damaged hearing and permanent tinnitus (and caused me to miss a best friend’s wedding), a blurry right eye caused by the collapse of the collagen layer at the back of my eye (something that can happen when you get older and are very short-sighted apparently), and a sore neck. They’ve all slowed me down, and worn away at me. As have some unnecessary and unfortunate complications to do with my editing.

Some or all of this will come right, and there are good things ahead. Today Springsteen tickets go on sale.  Seeing him next February will be huge. I am going to London and Brighton in October, which I think will be fantastic (even though getting ready for it feels like a slog), and there are family birthdays and celebrations.  The family is going away for Christmas, which should be terrific. And in January I’ll be turning fifty, which I’m definitely not looking forward to: lots of talk of parties and celebrations, but I feel mixed and unsure about it and may prefer just to let the day go past unnoticed. Who knows?

Either way, it’s been a time of feeling tired, stressed and worn out. That said, while I’m perfectly willing to whinge a bit on my blog, I look at the challenges facing others and know how comparatively lucky I am.

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Conflux is coming

Next week I will be attending Conflux 9, the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, which is being held at the Rydges Hotel in Canberra.  Along the way I seem to have agreed to appear on three panels, none of which I feel especially qualified for, but all of which I hope will be enormous fun.  If you’re coming, and I hope you are, check out the program and say hi!

The Natcon, for those of you unfamiliar with it,  is the annual gathering of the tribe here in Australia, so next week writers, artists, editors, publishers, fans, and readers of all stripes (those are never discrete groups, by the way), will head to Canberra to talk, eat, drink and live science fiction and fantasy for a long weekend.  It’s a chance to catch up, to do a little business and to reconnect with the field. I almost always find these events rejuvenating, and the Conflux’s I’ve attended have been terrific.

I do seem to have already booked all but one of my dinners (a failing of mine), so I think I know what I’m doing every night except for Sunday.  I’m also thinking about doing a whole bunch of short interviews for Coode Street, which if they work out should be fun. I need to work out the details of those, though.

Other than that, I just need to get ready. Before I know it, it’s going to be Wednesday morning and Alisa, Terri and I will be at the airport and ready to go. I can’t wait!

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2012 is almost done

I’m delighted 2012 is over. The past month has made the year feel like a real ordeal, and I confess that I’m looking forward to 2013 with some fear and trepidation.

That said, looking back at 2012 I had a lovely time with family relaxing in the south west back in April, a fantastic trip to Melbourne in June (the sojourn in Foster was a highlight I’ll always treasure), and a good trip to Toronto (Alisa was a great travel buddy and I had a good time).

Health-wise, while my hearing/balance issues are a concern, I actually started to get fit. After a wake-up call from my doctor in September, I lost 15kgs pretty quickly and have plans to lose a lot more over the coming year. Hopefully, when it’s time to write the next of these brief updates, all of my health issues will be either gone or understood and under control.

Career-wise, I edited what I think are two of my best books, Edge of Infinity and Under My Hat, which was enormously satisfying. I also started work on Eclipse Online, my online magazine, which is being well received, and made what I hope is a solid contribution to Locus as Reviews Editor. I  co-hosted and produced fifty-plus episodes of The Coode Street Podcast with Gary K Wolfe and did a smattering of other podcast appearances.  I was also nominated for Best Editor for the Hugo again, which was an enormous honour and feels like a nod from the community that the work I’m doing is worthwhile. While there remains lots to do, I’m content.

Day job-wise things were a bit more mixed.  A lot of stress and concern over the uncertainty there, but I completed a year acting as the manager of a team of really dedicated people. We had about seven months of real productivity, before losing a staff member and dropping back into getting by mode. The year will start with significant challenges, including shifting two long delayed major projects, and probably applying for the job I’ve been acting in for two years. That won’t be fun, but it has to be done. Hopefully it will all work out.

What am I looking forward to in 2013? Well, there’s a trip to Sydney in March to see Bruce Springsteen with Stephen. Some “Bro bonding time” and hopefully a great show. There’s a trip to the UK with my eleven year old daughter in October that should be fantastic, and there should be lots of time with family, loved ones, and colleagues to make the year worthwhile. Along the way, I hope there’ll be a glass or two of something special, some wonderful conversations, a memorable story or two, and all of those moments that make life worth living.

May your year be filled with all that and more.

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