Journal

Given the way podcasting has come to dominate my blog, I wanted to create a space where I could just blog my thoughts.

  • 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.

  • Lately….

    It’s July and I’ve not been blogging. I know why I haven’t been blogging. Mostly because I have Twitter, and because of the semi-shambles that the first half of 2013 has left everything in round here. I’ve not blogged much about all sorts of small, recurring problems – mostly medical ones like hearing and blurry eyes and so on – which haven’t been life-threatening, but have kept me from feeling like blogging or doing much.

    What have I been doing? Well, since getting back from Canberra and the Australian Natcon I’ve watched a lot of TV – four seasons of Justified, a season of Nashville, a season of The Americans, two seasons of Switched at Birth, and so on. I’ve read a small handful of novels, most of which I’ve discussed on the Coode Street Podcast with Gary K. Wolfe. I’ve also recorded a couple episodes of the Last Short Story podcast, read some excellent short fiction, started work on The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 8,  bought the first story for Reach for Infinity, seen the cover art for the follow-up to Fearsome Journeys, bought the central story for my special issue of Subterranean Magazine, and outlined a couple of other projects.  I’m pretty sure there was also a 13th birthday party for my daughter in there, a 75th birthday for my mother, and some travel and other planning.

    What lies ahead in the second half of 2013? Well, without indulging too much in repeating myself, I have some Locus editing to do, taxes to get submitted, the above-mentioned anthology and editing projects to finish and deliver, and a trip to London and Brighton for World Fantasy Convention to plan. I’m very excited about the latter. I’ll be doing some touristy stuff before WFC with Ellen Klages and Gary Wolfe, as well as trying to pack some UK-focussed podcasting into things, and then down to Brighton. Every year I take a tuxedo with me for my brilliant agent Howard Morhaim’s big annual shindig, but this year I’m hoping to just take a normal suit. See if I can get away with that.  I also have a few birthdays to help celebrate before Christmas, and then my own 50th in January (no idea what to do about/for that). I mega-ton of reading. I really want to finish the best of the year before Brighton as much as possible, and all sorts of other things. And all that on top of a day job.

    It should, all in all, be a busy time. I’ll try to record more of it here, but we shall see how that goes. Tonight: Locus editing, business paperwork and day 2 of the 1st Ashes Test.

     

  • For future me

    I sometimes look back at old blog entries to bring back details of little personal things. Not often, but sometimes. Today is the day, future me, when we went out to see Driving Miss Daisy at His Majesty’s Theatre with mum. Can’t tell you if we enjoyed it, because that’s tonight. Jessica turned thirteen this week. We had a family dinner at Villa Da Vinci, and she got more One Direction stuff than any sane human could ever need. Sophie and you sat at one end of the table, Stephen and Barbara at the other, and much pizza and pasta was consumed in what seemed a good night. Tomorrow there’ll be a small family party at the house, with Jessica M and Bella. Hopefully Jessica S will love it.

    This week we also continued our way through Switched at Birth, you failed to do much new reading though you did start re-reading Consider Phlebas following the sad news of Iain Banks death. Last week we watched Gremlins for family movie night (a failure) and this week is Jessica’s choice and she seems to want Some Like it Hot. We’ll see how that goes down.

    It was also part of your continuing (but hopefully when you read this, long over) period of minor ill-health. Your ears have settled down after a lengthy period of difficulty, as have your teeth (unconnected though that is). Just to make things happy, though, your right eye is acting up and is blurry. Saw the ophthalmologist who explained what was going in. It should be okay. You have, sadly, put most of the weight you lost back on. Still, you’ve identified the recipe for success so hopefully over the coming months that will turn back around. And a look back at old blog posts (11 years worth) shows you usually have the flu around now, but not this year. Yet.

    And, finally, we’re a few weeks away from tax time. A favourite. Still, you’re in pretty good shape for it so if all goes to plan the rest of the year should be easier.  Oh, and Jessica just got up even though it’s 6am, so you tucked her back into bed (she still likes that at thirteen) and she asked if we could go on a family holiday. You should look into that.

  • 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!

  • A picture of a rocket, being the logo for Hugo Awards

    2013 Hugo Awards

    As was reported here yesterday, LoneStarCon3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, announced the nominees for 2013 Hugo Awards.  Many friends and colleagues were nominated and delightfully I was nominated for Best Editor, Short Form and Gary and I were nominated for The Coode Street Podcast in the Best Fancast category.

    To say this is an honor and a pleasure, even if it has happened before, doesn’t really begin to cover how I feel about being nominated for the Hugos. This year’s awards have a record number of nominating ballots, topping several recent record setting years, so community involvement is at an all time high. This means that being nominated takes more nominations and means even more, because it means more people appreciate my/our work. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has nominated me and the podcast this year. It does mean a lot to be on the ballot amongst such fine company and to have the respect and support of our community.

    There are many conversations to have about the changing awards, their lack of diversity, and how representative they are, but at this point I really just want to say thank you. It does mean a lot. Good luck to everyone in San Antonio this August. I wish I could be there. Lasso a steer for me!

  • Before the show…

    Saturday went fairly easy, here on Coode Street. I was up early, got a five km walk in before breakfast, then packed, kissed the family goodbye and headed out to the airport to fly to Sydney to see Springsteen. The flight – the first trip outside of WA with my brother since we stepped off a boat in 1968 – was fine. We chatted, I watched Searching for Sugarman on my iPad, tried not to be annoyed that the inflight entertainment didn’t work at my seat, and arrived in Sydney fairly fresh. We were met at the airport and before I knew it I was at Garth and Anna’s, sitting outside, eating curry and enjoying the wonderful conversation of G&A, Alison, Melina, James and Mardie.  It was a great evening, and when everyone drifted off Garth and I chatted into the small hours.

    Sunday I was up fairly early, even allowing for time differences. I got to chat with Anna over pancakes, then with Garth over coffee. They were kind, wonderful hosts, but before I knew it I was in a cab and headed for the city. I got to the hotel in time to drop off a bag and then grab yum cha with my dear travel buddy, Deb, where we talked of all sorts of things over steamed morsels and jasmine tea.  Hours drifted by and before I knew it we’d finished coffee back at the hotel, said goodbye, and I headed to the 37th Floor to crash for a little while. Stephen arrived around 6pm and we had what proved to be a relaxing time over drinks in the Excecutive Lounge, before grabbing dinner at Glass.   All in all a fine day.

    Sleep, though, as it has of late proved a little elusive, though I didn’t put the waking hours to much use. Today should be a day to chill and wander around town a bit before heading out to Allphone Arena for the show. It should be something special.

  • Springsteen

    Just as a young man’s thoughts turn to certain things in spring, in these latter days of summer this man’s thoughts turn to Bruce Springsteen and the Wrecking Ball tour, which will be hitting Sydney next week. Due to planning, kindness and good fortune, I’ll be there at Allphones Arena and I’m finally near the point where it’s getting exciting. Flights are booked, hotels arranged, and a very quiet social schedule has been laid out. It should be relaxing and fun.

  • 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.

  • Of hearing, work, and oceans…

    When I last reported in here, dear readers, it was mid-November, and I was recovering from jet lag and trying to come to terms with the pre-Christmas workload. I anticipated that the next few weeks would involve an increase in fitness activity, some reading, the completion of work to be done, and preparation for Christmas. The days since then have not gone to plan, though there may be hope for the restoration of normalcy.

    There was a great dinner with friends at a local Himalayan restaurant, a screening of Skyfall, a big special needs Christmas event and some other stuff, which were fun. There was surprisingly little reading, and no exercise (I have to get that happening again), but above all there was hearing. Somewhere around ten days ago my ears became blocked, tinnitus roared, and my left ear especially lost a chunk of sensitivity. I saw my GP about it, had a hearing test, and pursued an appointment with my specialist.

    I had an explained hearing loss in my right ear in February and was extremely concerned I was facing more permanent hearing loss. It threw me off completely. I did finish the Best of the Year, but I lost and had to rewrite the intro, and mostly worried. The hearing test showed that my right ear had recovered somewhat, and that my left was at approx. the same level as the right. Yesterday I spoke to the specialist who, given the tests, feels appointments can wait till after Christmas. The hearing may recover, but the tests show it’s nothing serious. I am vaguely relieved, though still concerned. This morning I see a dentist, just to be sure a tender tooth isn’t involved, and I shall hope for recovery.

    Am I depressed? No. I wondered about that. I’d be depressed if my hearing deteriorated, but there is hope. There is also Christmas, family, a Bruce Springsteen tour and other good things go look forward to. I do have work to do before Christmas that I’d still prefer to avoid, but that too will pass. I read Neil’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, this week. Unexpectedly, it proved to be the balm I needed.

  • Pondering, again…

    So, I’m trying to work out where I’m at, two years into the 2010s. Back in 2002 I was a parent of two very young children, three years married, was a new homeowner, working a day job that I enjoyed and tinkering around with working at Locus. Ten years later I have two near teenage daughters, am thirteen years married, am living in the same house which now needs maintenance, have been acting in a job for 18 months that I don’t enjoy but feel I can’t escape, have been reviews editor at Locus for a decade, have edited over 50 books in one capacity or another, have been podcasting for two years, and am pretty tired out and stressed.

    I’ve touched on this before, but I’m not really listening to much new music, not getting to do things I enjoy, and am even struggling to focus on reading because of my commitments.  I know I need to change, but I can’t work out how I want to/need to restructure what I do to make things work out.

  • Melbourne

    I think all of the travel to the US for conventions has terminally distorted my ability to plan and pack for anything else.  It seems my default setting is to prepare for two weeks away from home without access to laundry facilities, and with enough entertainment on my person to cover two 24hr plus transit periods. As I pack for Melbourne – I leave in less than two hours – I’m finding myself more unpacking than packing. Taking things out I won’t need, remembering I can actually buy something I don’t have in Melbourne and so on. It does seem to be keeping the overall size of my packing down.

    And of course, I’m going to Melbourne! I’m actually in my slightly anxious pre-departure phase, but I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, spending time in a wonderful city, and attending Continuum next weekend. It should, hopefully, be a wonderful time.

    I will try to blog a little from the road, and to podcast if I can, but no promises. If I can’t, do look after the place and I’ll see you back here in a bit.

  • Stress

    It’s heading towards bedtime on a Tuesday evening and I just need to blog the stupidity of this out of my system, so feel free to ignore this as you please.  I come from a family that tends to handle stress poorly. I could see this growing up in my father and in my aunt, and have seen a little of it in my siblings. At one point in my life I thought I had reached a point where I handled stress very well, and was even quite offended when a friend said I could be a bit melodramatic.  However, over the past ten years, since becoming a husband, a parent, taking on Locus reviews editing, anthology editing, and the day job, I’ve come to realise I actually handle stress quite poorly.  This has not been an overly pleasant discovery. It’s something that has come to a head of late, with reasonable but persistent stresses at the day job, and sporadic outbursts of stressors in my other areas of activity. It’s certainly meant that every day for the past few weeks I’ve had some incredible burst of stress, had to work through it, then try to sleep and so on. At the end of it I find myself tired and ready for a break. It’s probably all to the good that I’m heading off to Victoria for ten days. The loved ones are staying home, keeping the house safe and making birthday plans, while I simply hope to relax as much as possible and come back something of a rejuvenated person.

  • Sunday 9am

    Almost got seven hours sleep last night. Woke to find eldest daughter had snuck into bed in the later hours of the morning. We’re all pretty much up now. With everything going on my thoughts are torn between day job needs, editing requirements, home stuff, and trip planning.

    Trip planning is becoming a thing. I intend to make two trips this year: one to Melbourne in a week’s time and one to Toronto in November.  The Melbourne trip is the one on my mind. I need to make sure I have all of the pieces in place, and I don’t. The big stuff – plane, hotel etc is sorted – so I have events and packing to think about. I have been debating taking a laptop with me so I can podcast, but given I have a long bus trip in there somewhere I’m thinking that might not be appropriate. That would leave me dependent on the iPad for podcasting, and I’m just not confident that would work out. I also only have limited ability to publish from the iPad.  That means most likely no podcasting in Melbourne, and no Coode St for at least one week up ahead.

    The Toronto planning is weird. An acceptable route has been found. The okay has been given to make the booking, and yet still I hold off. It’s not that I don’t want to go – I do – I think it’s just that I can’t quite take the thought of all of that plane travel.

    In other news, I’m trying to find time to put new home accounting in place, get my taxes out of the way (2010/11 are ready to go and 2011/12 are progressing), and do some other stuff. My stereo is acting up again. The amp I bought in 2008 seems to be experiencing problems. That means repair, all sorts of mucking about, and not so much music for a while. I can use headphones, but I find since I had the hearing loss a few months back I’m less eager to use them.

    Weirdly I am very eager to pick up a copy of the reissue of Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney. I have no time for it at all back in the day, but now rather fancy it’s ramshackle appeal. Worryingly, I’ve not read much of late. I have read 2.5 of the books I need to read before going to Melbourne, but despite being surrounded by books I think I want to read, I find myself not wanting to actually read much. Dang.

     

  • And here’s what’s happening here…

    I’ve written a note for the website several times in order to bring you up-to-date on recent events here at Coode Street, but one update was eaten by web-goblins and the others sit as notes here and there in various states of incompletion. So goes the life of the busy editor. The first, and possibly most interesting to some, is that I will be travelling to the United States at least once this year. I purchased the necessary plane tickets last Friday, so it’s definitely that I will be in Reno for Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention (17-21 Aug). The travel details are:

    Sat 13 Aug: Fly to Sydney and overnight
    Sun 14 Aug: Fly to San Francisco
    Tues 16 Aug: Drive to Reno
    Sun 21 Aug: Drive to San Francisco
    Mon 22 Aug: Fly to Perth via LA and Brisbane arriving home on 24 August.

    It must be official because the impressively well organised people from Reno have already sent me a draft programme so I will be on panels and around publicly, as well as looking to meet up with old friends and new during my stopover. Oh, and this trip shouldn’t impact on my attending World Fantasy.

    The second, and still slightly secret piece of information is that I’ve agreed to edit a new science fiction anthology. The idea is that it will feature new hard SF/action adventure stories set in a settled, industrialised, pre-starflight solar system. There are still details to be confirmed, but it’s due at the publisher next July and should be out before Christmas, I think. Lots still to be confirmed, but I’ll let you know more as I can.

    There has also been a lot of personal stuff which I don’t think I’ll go into in too much detail here. Suffice it say we had happy news, with my eldest daughter celebrating her birthday, and less happy news with her needing to go through some medication changes as a result of recent events. I think she’ll be fine, but it keeps life interesting.

    Am I busy? I think so. Need to take care of family things while preparing the next year’s best for publication and getting the dreaded Cyberpunk ready to deliver pre-WorldCon.

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