I will be parting ways from Iron Bridge Publishing on the 16th of November.
Category Archives: Personal experience
One of the best people I know passed away on the last day of January.
Aiki Flinthart was on the cusp of becoming truly famous. She was going to run her ‘Fight Like A Girl’ workshop at WorldCon – and people might think that the Covid lockdown had postponed that until WorldCon could be safely run again. However, Aiki found out well before WorldCon2020 that she was living on a shortened schedule. In January 2020, she discovered she had tumours in her brain, her lungs, and liver, and she was dying.
Aiki – being Aiki – didn’t let this slow down her plans, just alter them. She managed to put together an AMAZING anthology, with people like Neil Gaiman and Robert Silverberg. Seriously, go buy Relics, Wrecks, and Ruins. Aiki was an editor’s editor. She kept coming to meetings of our writing group, inspiring us all to keep writing NO MATTER WHAT. She managed to get an Aiki Flinthart residency up and running at the Queensland Writers Centre. She kept writing the whole thirteen months she lived after the cancer diagnosis.
She was worried the brain tumours would strip her of her intellect. That didn’t happen. She was still signing books and making plans right up until the last week in January, when the cancer was steamrolling its way through her body. I could never be so brave!
On a personal level, we had some phone calls that made us both weep. And laugh. And swear. She gave me a crown to remind me that I am a queen of writing. We got together for coffee and gossips, and can’t I tell you how much I appreciate her sharing some of her precious time with me.
Other people have written eulogies that surpass anything I could say about Aiki. She was a fighter, physically, she lived twice as long as first advised, but being a fighter was also a part of her personality. I don’t mean she was a grump that picked arguments; she fought to be a better writer, a better friend, a supporter of the writing community, a better wife and mother, and she shone like a bright, brave blade in a drawer of plastic knives.
I was very lucky to have known her, and even luckier to have her as a friend. I would wish that on all of you, to have a friend as wonderful as Aiki Flinthart, but there will never be another Aiki.
I’m getting a quite a few publication credits and I have actual books coming out this year. I know a lot of people rush into getting websites before they have anything to offer, and I never wanted to be one of them. However, I am at a point where people might start looking for me online (maybe?).
The thing with a website is that it can make or break your ‘brand’. My problem … I do a heck of a lot of different things! I write both fiction and nonfiction, articles, short stories, and books, in different genres, and I write for children and adults! Once upon a time, it would have been Steampunk aesthetic all the way! I’m still tempted by that – but then it overshadows everything else I do.
Thinking about a website means getting someone to design it for me (I know my limitations!) and set it up. It means getting a domain name and an email for the site. It means opening myself up more to possible fans – and critics. Do I want to be that vulnerable?
Then I remember how much I was encouraged when I first got business cards that stated I was a writer …
What to do, what to do.
I live in the Greater Brisbane region, and we have just started a three day lockdown. This created a sudden rush of hysteria in the panic buyers, who spent Friday depleting supermarket shelves of milk, bread, eggs, and other items (lockdown commencing at 6pm). I know that some people feel that having a fully stocked pantry gives them a sense of control. However, I still have to wonder why … after all, the cows won’t stop providing milk and the bakers won’t stop baking.
My biggest disappointment is that I will now be cancelling a trip into the Queensland Writers Centre, and that out first writing group meeting of the year has to be postponed. It is the second event that rips at me like dragon claws. The best of us is dying of cancer, and this was probably our last chance to see her – ever. She can’t risk socialising with her immune system at its lowest point.
It seems so unfair that Covid is stripping even these small pleasures away from her.
I know a lot of people thought 2021 was going to be a better year than 2020. The truth is that every year brings new challenges to be overcome. We have to learn to live with the hand we’ve been dealt. I’m so lucky to have my family and my books and a career that involves staying home and in isolation. There is food in my fridge and pantry. My husband has a job. Thanks to social media, I’m not even isolated from my tribe. And yet … I miss hugs. I miss being able to plan an outing without the fear of infection of Covid.
Back in 2017, I didn’t know how lucky I was. Now I do. Maybe this is the lesson we all needed to learn.
This year has started out very well, career wise. Daily Science Fiction has just notified me that they have accepted a third submission. On the very same day, I was advised the first book in my Summerbrook Besties series – which I refer to as my farm books – is now up for pre-order. Fate decided to keep me grounded by having maggots invade my kitchen bin – EWWWW! Nothing says ‘down to earth’ as much as cleaning up crawlies.
Still, the horror of invading crawlies is good inspiration for my Gothic themed project. Everything is grist for the mill!
I’m not making New Year resolutions as such for 2021. I have my five year career goals, I have my short term career goals, and I have my personal goals (be kind), and they aren’t just to make me feel better about starting a new year. They make me feel better about myself on a continuous basis. If that makes me sound like a grind, so be it. I’ve hit the combination that is working for me and I’m not fiddling with the magic.
I hope you had a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to chatting with you all throughout the coming months.
I’ve just finished drafting the second book in the Summer Brook Besties series, part of a series of four. This series is going to be published by Iron Bridge Publishing over the next year. They made the announcement in the past week.
My lovely publishers, Robyn and Gary.
In this year of disasters, with the bushfires and Covid-19 lock downs and the rest, it’s been uplifting to realise that I will have actual books published soon. They are not in the Speculative Fiction genre, but they are full of animal characters, and the zoologist in me is thrilled to rabbit on about animals. They are about friendship and community, both concepts I value highly.
I’ve seen planning sketches for the illustrations for the first book. Wow, was I moved to see the characters and settings I’d created brought to life. It was similar to seeing photos of your new baby; you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re awake.
There is talk about making the four books a boxed set.Think of it – ME! The author of a boxed set of books! Tick another item off the bucket list!
In Australia, the 1st of August is when every horse ages officially a year – used mostly for race horses. When I was a small girl, I used to wonder about the foals born in July … did they get two birthday parties?
This got me thinking about other misconceptions I had as a child. I used to think that Rheumatic Fever was called Romantic Fever. When I was seven, I had a mild run-in with Romantic Fever just before the family holiday to the beach, and I was not allowed to go swimming that summer. I never developed proper Romantic Fever, so I guess I should be grateful, but at the time I envied my sister when she was splashing about in the ocean.
My youngest child thought that you pressed the crossing button for the number of people waiting to cross the road. That was my fault, I tend to press the button two or three times.
Children live in an adult-run world that makes little sense to them. They often make guesses as to what is going on. Maybe this is why some of us love to read about strange worlds … we used to live in one!
I have more good news. Next issue of AntipodeanSF , Issue 260,will contain one of my Steampunk short stories. I am thrilled to have a story in my favourite genre being showcased in a magazine I support.
And DailySF has accepted a second story from me! I have to admit, that news sent me dancing around my house. I spent two years writing stories specifically for DailySF, and my persistence has paid off. I know the sort of stories they prefer to see from me, and I will be tailoring my submissions accordingly.
On the topic of submissions, I haven’t done as much submitting as usual for the first quarter of the year. I’ve upped my game this month. I’ve already sent off ten stories (some are recycled rejections, given a polish), and plan to write and send at least one more in the next week.
My current project is finally going well. I’ve found my ‘voice’. It helps that I am over the brain fuzziness that plagued me for a fortnight.
As a writer, the current lockdown has only meant more writing time. However, for those of you who are negatively impacted by Covid-19 social distancing regulations, hang in there. Remember to be kind to each other. If you start feeling a dose of cabin fever … take a deep breath and find your happy place. Mine is reading a good book.