Monday, January 31, 2005

Ditmar nominations are open now! The Australian SF ("Ditmar") Awards recognise excellence in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror by Australians.

As of the 1st January, nominations for the 2005 Ditmar awards can be made in the following categories:

Professional: Best Novel; Best Novella or Novelette; Best Short Story; Best Collected Work; Best Artwork.

Fan: Best Fan Writer; Best Fan Artist; Best Fan Production; Best Fanzine.

Special Award for works not eligible in existing categories: Best Professional Achievement; Best Fan Achievement; William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review; Best New Talent.

You may nominate as many works as you wish. Eligible published works must have appeared for the first time in 2004.

Please email your nominations to with the word 'Ditmar' in the subject heading. You can also post nominations to the following address: Ditmar, 16 Maweena Pl, Kingston, TAS 7050

You do not need to be a member of the 2005 Natcon to nominate works. [Zara notes: you do need to be an Australian Citizen or Resident)
Discretion is reserved for accepting nominations. If there are insufficient nominations, a category may not appear.

Nominations will be counted if sent by 1 March.

Voting will open on 7 March 2005. Only members (including supporting members) of Thylacon 2005 will be eligible to vote. Consult for further information.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

ASIM #16 has been released.

This is a very belated post, but still important. Not least because I have a new Delta Void story appearing in this issue. :)

But if you're in Hobart, it won't be in the shops yet because I haven't delivered the issues. Been a bit busy this week!

Check out to find out how to order your issue, or to locate your nearest stockist. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is an experience not to be missed!

And while I was busy getting to know the new little person in my life, my fellow members of the writing group RoR blitzed the Aurealis Awards. Check this out:


Science Fiction novel Division for 2004 -- Maxine McArthur 'Less than Human'. (critiqued at ROR)

Fantasy Short Story Division 2004 -- Richard Harland 'Catabolic Magic'. (joint winner).

Horror novel Division 2004 -- Richard Harland 'The Black Crusade'.

YA Short Story Division 2004 -- Margo Lanagan 'Singing my Sister Down'. (critiqued at ROR)

GOLDEN AUREALIS SHORT STORY 2004 -- Margo Lanagan 'Singing my Sister Down'. (critiqued at ROR)

GOLDEN AUREALIS NOVEL 2004 -- Richard Harland 'The Black Crusade'.

Also shortlisted:

Marianne de Pierres 'Nylon Angel' Science Fiction Novel
Richard Harland 'Catabolic Magic' Fantasy Short Story
Richard Harland 'The Border' Horror Short Story
Margo Lanagan 'Rite of Spring' Young Adult Short Story (critiqued at ROR)

I can't say how proud I am of these guys. We're borrowing Richard's thunder of course, because his works were written before he joined RoR, but it's so exciting so see how well we've done as a group.

It's particularly exciting to see Margo's story be recognised. I remember us all sitting around at the very first RoR, discussing just how many awards, etc. 'Singing my Sister Down' would win, and it's brilliant to have been proved so right. Ellen Datlow agrees with us, obviously, as she selected the story for next year's Best Fantasy and Horror (another of our predictions!!).

The main thing I remember about critiquing this story was that Rowena, Marianne & Maxine all had the same reaction - I think this story is amazing and brilliant and I never want to read it again as long as I live. I also thought it was brilliant but wasn't quite as emotionally wounded by it, and figured it was because they were all mothers, and I wasn't yet. Well, now I am, and I can't help wondering if I'm going to be able to be brave enough to read the story again when it gets reprinted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It's Aurelia Day!

We brought our beautiful new baby home from the hospital today. Aurelia Iris Finch was born at 1:48 pm on 21 January 2005, weighing 3.954 kilos. She had a head full of dark hair (now lightening rapidly!) and the deepest, darkest set of blue eyes the world has ever seen. We love her to bits, obviously.

Also, she managed to be born exactly on her due date. I claim total responsibility for her skill at hitting deadlines. :)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Given that 2004 was the first year I actually kept a reading journal, let's look at the results:

Top 10 Books Read (for the first time) this Year:

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susannah Clarke
Midnight Lamp - Gwyneth Jones
Paladin of Souls - Lois Mcmaster Bujold
Pattern Recognition - William Gibson
Beauty - Sheri S Tepper
Sunshine - Robin McKinley
1610: A sundial in a Grave - Mary Gentle
Up the Duff - Kaz Cooke
Ombria in Shadow - Patricia McKillip
A Hat Full of Sky - Terry Pratchett

Top 10 Australian Books Read (for the first time) this Year:

Up the Duff - Kaz Cooke
The Black Crusade - Richard Harland
Less than Human - Maxine McArthur
Abhorsen - Garth Nix
Black Juice - Margo Lanagan
Nylon Angel - Marianne de Pierres
Queen of the Flowers - Kerry Greenwood
Breastfeeding with Confidence - Sue Cox
The Rebel - Jack Dann
Kidwrangling - Kaz Cooke

No. Books Read by Tansy this Year: 215

Fiction: 182
Non-Fiction: 33
New Reads: 107
Re-reads: 108
SF: 35
Fantasy: 66
Crime: 36
Historical/history: 30
Romance/Chick Lit: 18
YA/Children’s: 33
Pregnancy/maternity: 6
Ebooks: 7
Anthologies/short story collections: 8

Most read authors:
Robert B Parker - 15 (15 re-reads)
Tamora Pierce - 14 (1 new read, 13 re-reads)
Lindsey Davis - 14 (14 re-reads)
Lois McMaster Bujold - 13 (2 new reads, 11 re-reads)
Laurell K Hamilton - 9 (1 new read, 8 re-reads)
Terry Pratchett - 7 (3 new reads, 4 re-reads)
Arthur Ransome - 7 (7 re-reads)
Dorothy Sayers - 6 (6 re-reads)

Best authors/editors read for the first time in 2004:
Katie Hickman
Jacqueline Susann
Kage Baker
Cornelia Funke
Dan Simmons
Sharyn November
D.H. Lawrence
Jonathan Stroud
C.S. Forester
Sheila Kitzinger
Sue Cox
K.A. Bedford
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Susanna Clarke

Reading habits:

Funnily enough, I started out the year reading the various books I had acquired over Christmas 2003. I soon found that keeping a writing log made me extra-aware of my reading choices, and I started seeking out books and authors for the sake of having read them - so I read my first Sherlock Holmes book, Valley of the Dolls, Beauty by Sheri S Tepper and so on. This was indispersed with Spenser novels (to absorb necessary machismo for my novel, Aufleur) and other books which I hoped would add to the necessary ambience of my novel (such as a biography of Colette).

By February I had acquired the LOCUS recommended reading list for books & short stories that appeared in 2003, and having been mildly embarrassed by how few I had read (even the ones like the Bujold and the Gwyneth Jones, which I was desperate to read but hadn’t got hold of because they were hardcovers) I was determined to read as many from the list as possible. This explains the appearance on my list in February of Empress of Mars, Roma Eterna, Changing Planes (very disappointing!) Inkheart, the Sandman: Endless Nights, Ilium, the Best of Science Ficiton 2003 (a very good collection) and even Hitch-hiker, a biography of Douglas Adams from the non fiction list.

This LOCUS-directed reading continued through March, with Firebirds, Sunshine, Mortal Suns by Tanith Lee (a struggle!) Pattern Recognition and Abhorsen (which I would have read anyway!). My ‘books I want to say I’ve read’ desire also contributed to my habits that month, with Lady Chatterley’s Lover and a very dense book of SF criticism. In between I was swallowing (without chewing) several Laurell K Hamiltons for light relief, and was very excited by the release of Black Juice by Margo Lanagan, which I had read in manuscript form. I also tracked down the sequels to the Forsyte Saga in the uni library, starting with the White Monkey (and from the same library acquired access to the 1970’s tv series, which I fell in love with).

My Forsyte obsession continued into April, while my Laurell K Hamilton re-reading fest petered out. From the LOCUS list I read the Amulet of Samarkand, Paladin of Souls, Midnight Lamp and 1610: a Sundial in a Grave. Too much excellent fiction all at once, I was quite glutted! I also read the Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror #16 and Bujold’s Ethan of Athos as ebooks from fictionwise, while travelling to Canberra.

My May schedule gets interesting, because this is the point at which I got pregnant. And stopped reading! Well, not entirely, but within 2 weeks of conception I developed an interesting side effect along the lines of morning sickness (which I didn’t have that strongly) - book sickness! Suddenly I couldn’t read anything remotely challenging, and threw myself into comfort re-reads - Diana Wynne Jones and Lois McMaster Bujold and *nothing else*. This pretty much put paid to my reading of works from the LOCUS list, which I gave up on from this point, despite having discovered so many treasures. I just couldn’t cope with anything that required the slightest effort to read.

This continued into June, in which I managed to read 28 books, only 3 of which were new - a book on lingerie, a Phryne Fisher novel and the first Kelley Armstrong book Bitten. All three of them were good choices to push me into writing Aufleur again, which I was doing quite actively at the time (writing dark fantasy while pregnant not a problem, though reading it was - go figure). My re-reads that month were all authors I was comfy with - Bujold and Wynne Jones again, Rowling, Mary Wesley, Dorothy Sayers, plus a huge glut of Robert B Parker, which are complete comfort books despite the violence (I’ve been reading them since I was 10) and which fed into writing Aufleur.

July came and went and the same reading habits continued - pregnant Tansy reading only very light & comforting books, but lots of them. 13 Tamora Pierces in a row, then two new books - a Janet Evanovich and the latest Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher novel - then 6 Lindsey Davises.

I challenged myself a little bit in August, managing two books that I had to read - Jay Caselberg’s Metal Sky for the Aurealis Awards and From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple for Book Notes - but I still wasn’t straying far from my comfort zone. Lots of Lindsey Davis books in August, plus a few actual pregnancy/maternity ones, particularly by Sheila Kitzinger as my Mum bought me a stack from Amazon.

By September I was full out reading for the Aurealis Awards, and had mostly got over my book sickness, though I was reading my Arthur Ransomes in between the SF, so maybe not. By October I pretty much had my reading skills back, just in time to discover a couple of my favourite books of the year, Richard Harland’s brave and bizarre The Black Crusade and Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s A Fistful of Sky (an author I discovered in the Firebirds antho which I only read because of the LOCUS list so thank you, LOCUS). I also got to read in book form two novels I had read at workshop level, Less than Human by Maxine McArthur & Code Noir by Marianne de Pierres, both of which ended up on the AA shortlist. October is also notable because I *stopped writing my novel* in order to concentrate on my thesis.

I went all frivolous again at the end of the year, with very little but trashy comic romances in November (Brisbane novel The Girl Most Likely was the best of this bunch, very entertaining - I only looked it up after a dinner conversation with a visiting Ron Serdiuk, so thanks, Ron!) and much the same in December with the addition of some Georgette Heyers - I’d only read her murder mysteries before, but again, Ron mentioned them at dinner (as a possible source for old fashioned girls baby names) so I looked them up. After all this frivol, though, I had some good quality reading in the last week of the year, with the two latest Pratchetts as Christmas presents (thanks, hon!) and I finally found time (being very heavily pregnant now and not able to move very fast) to read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I had bought about two months earlier but didn’t read because I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in my handbag.

The interesting thing is that now we’re at the start of a new year, I’m suddenly getting the desire to write serious spec-fic short stories, and itching for a new LOCUS list to come out so I can start reading from it, and find work to inspire me. I’m scouring my shelves for serious, literary fantasy. With two weeks (or more, or less) before I give birth, I’m looking for books that challenge me!

Hah. That won’t last. I’ve laid in the last Jasper Fforde for light reading after the baby arrives, and we’re powering up Clie (the ebook reader) again as I suspect it will be awfully useful when breastfeeding... speaking of books I want to have read, I’ve got Vanity Fair and the sequel to the Three Musketeers waiting for me on there, not to mention a year’s worth of Asimov’ses.

And yes, I’m keeping a reading log again this year, though a less detailed one. I’ll be interested to compare my reading habits before and after baby.

Happy New Year!