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Archive for the ‘Geeking out’ Category

I really should blog more. That way I don’t cram up important posts with all the things I’ve been up to.

I’m currently marking for Uni so that’s something I have to do. It’s going okay and I’ll finish in time. Yesterday was a fasting day so not a good time to be reading lots of stories that I have to grade without the aid of chocolate and chips. However, I have survived so far.

My partner and I just finished a film making workshop with Dan Sanguineti from Sanguineti Media. We had three nights 6-9pm, to plan a two to three minute movie, including brainstorming ideas, come up with a script, actors (Dan supplied those), storyboard and plan the shots and lighting and so on. Then we filmed the movie on Saturday night 6- to 11.30pm with cold temperatures etc. Then on Sunday, we edited the film and did the sound. High five to Shauna O’Meara and Craig Cooper and to Josh and Dan. Just under two minutes! The Key now exists. Later on in the year I’ll share it. Right now it will be doing festival rounds etc.

Doing the workshop was amazing. It is a really hard thing to come up with a story that has a beginning, middle and end in two and a half pages of script. Writing a script was on my bucket list– so tick. I want to thank my partner, Matthew, who basically found the workshop, paid the fees and encouraged others to come along. I did not think I’d have a short film to my credit until now. I didn’t have much idea of how the workshop would pan out but it was great. I learned so much. I have heaps more to learn obviously and more scripts to write.

That brings me to now. Last year I drafted a novella in the Silverlands Series while I was in Perth. Recently, I polished it up and had it proofread and found an amazing cover. Vorn and the First Comers is available now in most large eretailers and it’s free. Yes, that’s right…free!

The novella is a few things. It’s part of a larger collections of stories from Argenterra. One of the characters in Argenterra is Kushlan Silvertongue and he’s a storyteller. If you are familiar with Argenterra, the first book, you know that tales from the past are very important to the narrative and important to the people of Argenterra. I had the idea that Kushlan would be tasked with writing these down. Vorn and the First Comers is the first of these. There will be others…such as Goslien of the Valley, Faruni’s Triplets, Shabra’s Curse and so on.

I’ll be releasing each of these tales before combining them into a collection.

This then is part of a gift to my readers. You get Vorn and the First Comers for free.

The other function of the novella is for readers to get a taste of Argenterra and then get the rest of the series if it interests them.

Here is the Amazon link.

Here is the Apple Books link.

Here is the Kobo link

Here is the Barnes and Noble link

Here is the Googleplay link.

My next task is to get this novella in My Books section.

Blurb and cover (from Patty Jansen)

A choice between life or death…

Kushlan Silvertongue has been commissioned to write the Tales of the First Comers, Tales of Argenterra.

This novella is the story of Vorn and the First Comers and their journey from violence and death to the beautiful magical land of Argenterra, the Silverland.

Mighty warrior, Vorn, leads the survivors to a new land and sets in motion a civilisation that lasts for over one thousand years.

Discover the origins of the given magic and how the first comers made the oaths that secured that magic forever.

 

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On the bus this morning my Twitter and Facebook feed started going a bit wild. I was wondering why people were congratulating me. When I relaxed enough on the bus I started checking the phone. I had no book with me either.

OMG! I was short listed for an Aurealis Award from my short story collection, Beneath the Floating City.

So many friends are in the short lists. Some have been nominated many times and a number of those have won. Here I am little old me, getting a short listing for my self-published collection. The collection is mostly previously published works of science fiction, from early stories back in 2003, such as ‘Other’ to my later stories. I also published a new story in the collection called ‘Lake Absence’ that was inspired by Lake George when I was taking the bus to Sydney to head to the Denver Worldcon many years ago. I just couldn’t get that story published, though I came close with the Aurealis Magazine with one of the previous editors.

In previous years I would never have thought about publishing a collection of my own stories. Although it make sense to gather them up into one book because they are just there instead of scattered around. This was my first attempt and I gathered together SF stories. I have at least two others in mind. A magic realism collection called Through These Eyes and a fantasy collection, name not conceived yet. Since I’m also Indie publishing these days, the collection was something else I could publish.

I realise now that I just put this out there and I didn’t advertise it widely. I know this because the image for the cover was not in my WordPress archive.So I didn’t even blog about it. I think it was because it was just before I went to Europe.

So here it is. The wonderful cover was produced by Patty Jansen. I give this book away free to newsletter subscribers and it’s for sale in ebook everywhere for $2.99 USD. If you want a free copy, the link to sign up to my newsletter is here.

What does this mean for me?

Well heaps actually. To get this kind of acknowledgement is lovely. I had thought that my short story writing days were over. That there wasn’t any point because you know…well. Authors can sometimes have serious downward mind speak that squashes them down. I have mentioned this before but the whole “I’m not worthy thing” is difficult to control at times. That’s why it is so nice to get feedback, of the nice kind, and to be acknowledged with a short listing or an award or a review. It’s like being patted on the head and told keep going, you’ll get there.

I threw this in for the Aurealis Award without expectation. As someone who has researched Australian speculative fiction in the past I know how much the eligible works lists mean to the researcher, how useful. And I wanted to make sure that the work I put out was in the bigger lists. I wasn’t expecting a short listing.

Now I shall not give up writing short stories. I shall write those ideas that bash around inside my brain eventually.

Many thanks to the judges for their hard work. Congratulations to all the other nominees.

My name appears on a list with such amazing writers, I am over the moon, chuffed. Margo Lanagan, Kate Forsyth, Kim Wilkins, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Peter Ball.  Here is the link. 

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We were invited by SF fans James and Fionna to come visit Dublin and Drogheda. It was so lovely to be invited and they looked after us so well.

I bought some plum and vanilla flavour gin liqueur to go with the handmade boomerang and Australian made Womat. On arrival we went with James to a giant Tescos! OMG! There I snaffled a bottle of aromatic gin, which tasted quite good. Beans bought some French red wine. It was a bit of a treat seeing the local produce and prices. I find supermarkets are really cultural that way. Maybe it’s the economics and accounting background.

Then we picked up some Indian takeaway for a late dinner. It was so yummy and be bought too much but that was fine because left overs. Fionna had found a recipe for vegan bread. It was delicious and had chopped hazelnuts in it. Tea and toast is an excellent breakfast for me! We used the last of our vegemite there.

We also met the best fannish dog, Leia, as in General Leia Organa. There was also Lego! Lego daleks!

 

On our first full day we went into Dublin for the day. It was sunny and lovely and mild. A fantastic day. We visited the Glass…cemetery which had a museum attached. Visiting Dublin you can’t help to discover the political history and the 1916 uprising. In the cemetery a number of the 1916 martyrs were buried. The museum also contained illustrations of different religions approaches to death and burial.

We had lunch at the Brazen Head pub for lunch. The photos above were from the Brazen Head. It was meant to be the oldest pub in Dublin. It was pretty touristy but we had no trouble getting a table and fed. OMG! I tried boiled bacon and cabbage. So good.

We also visited the Leprechaun museum. That was more about curiosity and it was fun but again a bit touristy. Here are some silly shots from the Leprechaun Museum.

Here is a few shots from walking around Dublin.

We ended up at the British…pub and that was a lovely place. Classy and quiet. SF fans who were coming pulled out but we had a nice drink. Then we headed back to Drogheda, a bit tired after a long day.

Sunday was going to be a our big sightseeing day, but Fionna had this cool idea to break it up as we were leaving late on Monday. She had booked us into the Kilmeianhan Gaol for a tour there at 4 pm on the Sunday. This is also linked to the 2016 uprisings as the guys that surrendered were executed in the days after for treason. It was really sad and moving. Before that she invited for a walk in the Wicklow Ranges, up the Sugarloaf Mountain to be exact. Unlike Saturday the weather turned typically Irish, light misty rain, grey clouds and not too cold.

The walk.

I did not complain! Well I don’t think anyone heard me. I did berate myself for not bringing a change of clothes. The first part involved walking through waist high ferns, which were wet from the overnight rain. The drizzle wasn’t bad at all. There were blackberries everywhere so I kept snacking. From the beginning of the walk I had no idea where we were walking. Beans said she was worried about me because I’m not a walker. I did buy hiking boots in Bergen so I can now say they have had two serious outings.

It was so beautiful there. The ferns and the mist and the view. We walked and walked. Leia came with us and the dog had so much fun, really so much fun. We did have a few worries finding the right path. I seriously earned whatever bad food I was going to eat that night. I saw the way to the summit and thought I wasn’t going to make it. After a few hours my feet were protesting. I sat down as a cloud rolled in and the others went up. I’m glad I sat the last bit out because it involved a bit of climbing. Not bad on the way up but a bit scary coming down. I took a great panoramic shot of the view when we got off the track. It shows Fionna and James and Leia while they checked the map.

The Kilmainham gaol photos. This was a very moving place where people who surrendered after the 1916 rising were executed. Here us a link to the gaol’s website. http://www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol/

 

Monday

Monday was for Knowth and Newgrange, these chamber tombs. I’ve been in a chamber tomb before in Okney, but I really didn’t understand it. The guides here gave some good insights and I felt that I understood more. I think doing both together is a nice fit because there are different aspects to them. One you can look in the central chamber. We had lunch in the museum café and then it was time to collect our bags for the trip to the airport. Fionna took us up in her little, zippy Skoda and it was time to stay goodbye to Ireland.

Man these places were awesome!

Some thoughts

I will definitely come back to Ireland. I’m mostly Irish so it was good to go there for that reason. I’m glad James and Fionna invited us because it showed me how convenient it is to go there. For some reason it always seemed too hard.

Also, Ireland got me thinking about how British Australia is and how my perspective is shaped by that. We have “Give Way” signs where Ireland (and the USA) have “Yield” and in Ireland the postal boxes are green and so are the postal vans and ours a red like the UK. It got me thinking about how the victor writes the history books. While I have very Irish ancestors, their nationalism didn’t get passed on to me, the Catholicism did, although I am so lapsed, I consider myself not any religion. So Ireland got me thinking that I need to learn more about it and also come again and learn about the history, the myths and the politics.

Also, our hosts were so cute. They made me homesick for Matthew. They are as Dweebie as we are but I consider they had more books and we don’t have Lego so maybe they have way more geek cred than we do. I heart Fionna and James!

For the next few days I’m taking a break. We are staying in the Manchester region in a cute little cottage. Tomorrow we head to York for the day. I’ve been there about four times but it will be Beans’ first. Thursday I’m heading to London for the monthly SF fan meet up, the Ton. I’ll probably blog again soon. Today was meant to be a rest day, but Bean’s got restless so we decided to walk to a nearby town. On the way, besides being distracted by all the ripe blackberries, we saw a sign for a public access walkway and decided to try it. It was hilarious. We didn’t know where to go. Nothing was marked. We started fighting over which way to go and whether to reverse our steps. So our trip to Sandbach took twice as long as it should have. This is not a tourist town. They do have Heritage listed buildings and Saxon crosses and a good bar/pub for lunch.

 

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After partying at the Hugo Losers party, it was a slow start to Saturday at Worldcon. Thank you to WorldCon 76 and George RR Martin for a great party. Saturday for me was a panel on Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. I received an email from program ops saying the moderator for the panel was sick and could I take over as moderator. I said yes, but then put myself in stress mode. It is much easier to answer questions than it is to ask them. So while we had slept late and I did the blogging for post #6 I was hard pressed to get to Mesukeskus in time for my panel. I managed to get on the tram and brainstorm. Then I realised I left my bag of koalas and chocolates at the hotel.

The panel went really well I thought. I went to the green room first but couldn’t see any fellow panelists and we hadn’t talked beforehand. When I got there the panelists were already assembled. They were Delia Sherman (USA), Russell Smith (UK) and Elina Rouhiainen (Finland). The panel were mixed in their writing on paranormal romance and Urban Fantasy. Only Elina and I wrote paranormal romance and urban fantasy. It was interesting but in my brainstorming I came at the topic from a  romance side of things and it was good that Delia and Russell reminded me there was/is a different style, genesis of Urban Fantasy starting from Mary Shelley, but also, Charles De Lint an more recently Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. I was able to clarify the paranormal romance/urban fantasy divide from the romance perspective. It was an interesting panel for me, particularly learning about the other panelists’ work but also Elina, whose work is not translated/published in English. It was sad for me because her work sounded so interesting. Apparently it is in Finish and also translated into Chinese.

We finished that panel on time and my next assignment was the Fan Fund Auction, which as GUFF delegate I needed to attend and I had donated quite a bit of stuff. First up I have to say the fan fund auction did not go off as I expected. I had expectations that it would be fun and entertaining as they are done in Australian conventions. I also thought it would be more organised. But a few things went wrong, particularly the last minute change of venue. Jukka Halme did take time out of his busy schedule to do some auctioning but he couldn’t stay long and as there were 4-6 auctioneers it was a bit chaotic from my perspective. However, we did sell at lot of stuff and that makes it a success! I did hear that the Brits do auctions differently. I thought it was odd that I had culture shock, but that’s my fault for having expectations. A learning experience all round. As the auction took a few hours and I was on my feet, I had serious issues with my feet.

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A shot of Paul Weimer selling stuff for the Down Under Fan Fund.

IMG_8426[1].JPGMy daughter had come to bring me my Koalas and chocolates and she urged me to go back to the hotel. By the time I got there I could hardly walk and my feet were so sore and swollen I was in agony. This meant that I could not go back into worldcon in the evening for the parties. I really should have sat down instead of standing up. Again, my own fault!

My daughter made me lie down and she went out to get us take away dinner. However, just after she stepped out a massive storm hit. It was the weirdest thing. The air just went horizontal and swept over Helsinki bringing rain and lightening and wind and thunder. A nice Finish man on the tram warned us the storm was coming and told us to stay safe, but we could hardly see it and then it just hit. There were sirens and trees were blown down. I turned myself around on the bed so I could lie down and look at the sky.

My daughter came back safely but wet. She said it was rather dramatic being out in the storm. Anyway, I had an early night but was rather sad about missing the last night of parties.

The next day, the last day of WorldCon75, was walking stick day. My only seeming duty on Sunday was to be at the closing ceremony as it was on my schedule, but I had not been informed if I was to do anything so I sent a query to Events. Eventually I found out that I didn’t have to do anything, but I was invited to sit up the front in the reserved seats.

My daughter and I did the hop on hop off tour around Helsinki, before heading to the con. I got to sit on my butt which was good for my feet.

So I spent my time meeting some fans in the fan lounge and checking out the dealers room before it shut down. We caught up with our Finish friends, Thomas and Alex 11, Craig Cormick (Aus) and Robert Hood (Aus) and Lawrie Brown (Aus). I also caught up with and said goodbye to Paul Weimer and met Cora (Germany) again. I met another lady but I’m sorry to say I can’t remember her name. Forgive me!

This meant that I didn’t get to any panels as the last couple were few. I caught up with Sam Hawke as she was taking some Finish coffee and sweets back to Canberra for me. They will be sold in the Fanfund Auction at Conflux when I get back. She sent me a message this morning that she made the allowable weight by .14 of a kilo. She just scraped in.

We have weight issue because two of our flights have 15 kilo limits. One to Iceland and one to Ireland. To get some stuff home we had to beg space in other Canberran’s luggage. I was lucky that Rob Porteous and Sam Hawke came to my rescue. Now that I have been raving about Finish Blueberry flavoured coffee my daughter wants to buy some.

When the time came we went to the closing ceremony. It appears someone didn’t get the memo about being invited to sit up the front and we were tossed from our seats. My daughter went outside and I found a place somewhere else. They were very pressed for space again. The closing ceremony was full. The numbers were so encouraging because usually a lot less people go to the closing ceremony.

There were dead dog party details which was to be held in a nearby hotel. It was being sponsored by another convention. Well that was a really sad thing because we walked over there and were refused entry. Some not quite nice guy had the tough job to tell us to bugger off. It was a mistake he said. The venue was only expecting 400 people and we couldn’t go in. That’s it. So the plans to say goodbye, to celebrate a wonderful convention were destroyed. It was a sad, brutal cutting off of a lovely convention. What was said to us and how we were treated was not good. I don’t know who he was but it was so badly handled. I can’t begin to express how hurt I was feeling and how upset people were.

Really bad planning. If the closing ceremony has 1000 people then clearly you are going to have a lot of people come to the dead dog party. So heartbroken we trailed off into town.

Then I had the absolutely brilliant idea to try the Viking restaurant that Thoraiya had recommended. We found it once we had wifi access and we got in. You see there was only one waitress when we turned up. Another came to help out. We had a fab meal. We had picked up some other fans along the way but getting a table for six wasn’t going to happen quickly. So three of them peeled off leaving Lawrie Brown, my daughter and me.

Some pics of the Viking meal. Haralds was very cool. We had cider with cranberry in these cool mugs. I had beef stew in bread (like a trencher I suppose), ligonberry relish, baked garlic in tomato, parsnip mash and baked root vegetables. It was delicious and rich. My daughter got a vegan vegge/bean thing. We tried two desserts and shared them. There was also a vegan dessert by my daughter was too full. We tried tar and bramble ice cream. I will tell you a secret. It tasted like tar, or how tar smells.

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Later on Twitter I saw that the venue for the deaddog opened an upstairs bar and people were allowed in and they had a wonderful time. I am trying not to feel bad about this. I’m glad people got to go and have fun but I’m said we were turned away so callously, with no information no alternative, just go away. This was not the Worldcon 75 people doing this by the way. They were awesome. I messaged Jukka Halme about it and he was very sorry and distressed to hear what happened.

Now this morning, we are packing up. We had walk in the gardens and then a Finnish Sauna, which was quite nice. I don’t normally do sauna but I managed okay.

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I’m sad to be leaving Helsinki today. Such a great place, such lovely people, such a fantastic convention. I’m really looking forward to going to Stockholm on the ferry. I am not looking forward to moving our luggage from the hotel though. Who likes moving their luggage while on holiday? No one.

 

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I thought this post would be delayed. My head is not feeling too good. It may have something to do with the two long gins I had last night while I was at a party. I think it was the Dublin party but it was hard to tell. Or it could be the dreaded con lurgy.

Thursday I went to Messukeskus on my own. My daughter could not be brought to attend. However, she did do my hair for me. I love it. She took a photo while I was blogging yesterday and I said ‘Don’t I have resting old bitch face.’  Here are some shots of my hair. Totally frivolous of me. Usually I just have boring hair and I’m not an elegant person, but I felt it after this.

 

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I had two panels that I was appearing on so I made sure I arrived in time for those. I decided to try the tram. From our hotel it is route 9. I waited on the wrong side because that’s what my daughter and I thought was the right direction. However, I saw people with worldcon name tags on the other side so I skipped over the tracks to the otherside.

I managed to tag on with the free transport card that the city has given to all the worldcon attendees. This is a wonderful thing. Kiitos Palion to Helsinki!

I was sitting there staring into space (as you do) when I hear an Australia voice at the next stop. “How do you use your ticket?” Or something like that. I recognise the voice. It’s Cat Sparks and Rob Hood. We greet each other and then I face forward and see Janeen Webb tottering down the aisle as the tram had pulled away. So we had more greetings and I met Janeen’s friend Dena. It was a happy little group setting out to Worldcon. The tram drops us right out the front of Messukeskus. It’s a wee bit more convenient than the train, but the train is great too.

I had arranged to meet Paul Weimer before our Fan Fund panel, but first up I sat down and put my feet up in a lovely collection of easy chairs. There was an American woman doing the same so I joined her. My feet are still swelling but are thankfully not too painful.

I met some Danish fans while I was waiting for Paul by the bear. We chatted about fanfunds, I gave away chocolate koalas and I also told them about my other panel, Romance and the female gaze in science fiction. They were very keen to see that panel. I did see them there and they waved. My Finish geekgirl ribbon continues to be of interest. I think they have run out.

Paul showed up so went to grab something to eat and a coffee. We tried this little cafe, Street Food I think it is called. It had a few options and all seemed to be regional/Finish. I had a baked potato stuffed with shrimps in a dill mayonnaise. Paul had the crum chicken drumsticks with a coleslaw and the other option I saw was potato salad with bratwurst sausage. These were about 8 Euro each. Coffee was 3 Euro. The coffee (Kahvi) was filter I think. Sometimes that stuff is like sludge. My daughter tells me that Fins drink the most coffee per capita in the world. She reads the guide books. Well I think that means that Fins have caffeine in their blood. You would think that would make them quite tense but they appear quite laid back.

Paul chatted about his DUFF trip report. (He visited Australia from the USA and visited us in Canberra). He pulled out this massive document with great pictures, including the kangaroos near my place and the yummy pavlova. The fanfunds require a written report and these are sold to raise money for the fanfunds. Paul is selling his for $7US. I thought that was too cheap because it is a massive document, really. I mean really big. So I paid $15US for it as I had some money in my Paypal and it’s for a great cause and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing all those pictures of waterfalls etc. If you see Paul you should ask him how to get a copy.

We went to the Green Room to meet our other panelists. It’s a smallish room and I found it a bit overwhelming because it has people in it, people I don’t know and you are there to meet people you don’t know and that can be hard when you don’t know what they look like. However, Paul knows people and we met some people and Jonathan Strahan and then we met Ben, our chair and then the other people. We had a bit of a run through of the order of business and went to our panel. Luckily, this panel had a small audience and that made it cosy instead of daunting.

You know I’m an extrovert but maybe I lost my extrovertness somewhere. No that’s a lie! I had no trouble talking on the panel. In fact I had to stop myself from grabbing the microphone. I met Claire, who I am meeting up with in London and also Marchin from Poland who wants to run for GUFF. He said he was disappointed I did not choose to visit Poland on my GUFF trip. I said I’d like to visit Poland in my next visit to Europe.

Here is a selfie shot of the fanfunds panel, Paul, Mira, John, John and Ben.

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We were chased from the room after the panel as there was a huge crowd waiting to get in. With such a large number of people it is a huge job moving people in and out of rooms and you need to queue early if you want to get into a panel. I had another panel around three and now that I’m writing this blog post I fear I have lost time. I had more books and chocolates to drop off for the FanFund and I was lucky enough to bump into Kylie Ding who took them off my hand.

Oh now I remember, I went to the dealers room and the fan lounge because I saw there was NZ ribbons. I caught  up with Maree, who I haven’t seen for years who is representing the NZ 2020 worldcon bid. As an aside, I’ve met people who are looking forward to coming to NZ 2020 worldcon and who would like to visit Australia too, so we need to have a convention just before or after NZ 2020. I also picked up a mini Whittakers Hokey Pokey slab. Eat your heart out Russell!

I gave away more chocolates and clip on Koalas during the day. However, it was a bit of a whirl so I don’t recall. I saw some kids in costume and gave them one each. One had a Kylo Ren costume and at the Welcome to Finland Party last night we met Nina who said she had been commissioned to make two costumes. I asked if the costume had been made by Nina and the girl said yes. I think she thought I was rather strange…but that is okay.

The Romance and the Female Gaze panel was full. There were probably 10 seats vacant. That was an interesting panel. I met Carrie Vaughan beforehand in the Green Room, but we didn’t spot the other panelists or more importantly the moderator. We had not chatted via email about what we were talking about so there were a few anxious moments until Fiona turned up. She was a great moderator and had some hard and interesting questions. The panel sessions are only 45 minutes long so there wasn’t time for questions after. I had some lovely feedback afterwards and one lady came up to me and said thank you. The gist of my argument is. Why can’t we imagine a world where women can initiate sex as equals? Where there isn’t slut shaming. Maybe I was a wee bit passionate!

And the deed was done!

I went for a walk and took a shot of Gillian Polack doing her book signing. I didn’t get a chance to say hi as she was talking to a reader. I met Houston, a fellow Australian, in the queue.

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I met up with Robert Hood in the small collection of comfy chairs and he was going to see Cat Sparks in an Australian literature panel. I thought I’d join him and support my fellow Aussies. We were amazed that there was already a line forming and we were about number 70 for a room with 100 people and it was half an hour before. As the queue kept growing, I realised that I was taking the space of someone who really wanted to hear about the Australian scene and I already knew about it. So I left to go back to my accommodation and to see my daughter. On the tram, Robert said hello. He’d also had the same idea. We had fun on the tram. We didn’t have a clue where to get out. We struck up a conversation with a Belgian who was married to a Fin and they gave us advice. It all turned out well, Robert spotted his hotel and I found my stop.

I managed to convince my daughter to come back into the convention centre to the parties. An essential part of Worldcon for me is the parties. They are fun. You meet people. You perhaps drink a little or eat strange foods. At first my daughter was no, I’m not coming. I’m tired, she said. So I resigned myself to going alone and said. I really wish you were coming with me. And she changed her mind.

On the way to Messukeskus we saw a police bust. We were quite surprised. A man was stopped and pulled out of a car and placed on the ground and more police arrived. It was strange. People in the street were drinking coffee and gawping at the goings on. Helsinki, according to my daughter, is the safest city in Europe and one of the safest in the world. We had not seen a police bust before.

I thought I should take steps to meet Einar, the Icelandic fan I had made contact with. As it happened we got there early. The parties hadn’t started. We bumped into John Morris and watched him eat dinner while we drank tea. Then we hit the parties. Like the panel sessions you need to get in early. There were lots of people, the free vouchers for drinks and the food was gone. The bar started running out. Apparently there was only one type of beer left and the queue was so long.

After a bit of phone tag, I met Einar and he joined Thomas and my daughter. Einar and I went to get a drink and it was surprising the but the queue moved quickly. The bar staff were very efficient. Then John Morris and Sara Lindberg joined us so we were very multicultural. So with all the crowd around us we talked stuff. I talked convention running and Iceland with Einar. Then when it came time to leave, I called Thomas, James. OMG! Then he told me I called him something else earlier in the day. I’m so embarrassed.

Here is a shot of us.

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I must remember to call him by the correct name. Einar had left and it was then we realised it was 11.30 and there was a mad panic about whether the trams were still running. All was good though, as there were people waiting and the board said the number 9 was due.

We made it home in good time and went to sleep. I’d had two long gins and maybe…that was too much. I am slightly hungover or at least have a headache today.

My daughter asked if I mentioned the green smoothies she makes every morning. You see she had this goal of making me slimmer, healthier and possibly converted to veganism on this trip. As I normally gain weight when I travel I did not fancy her chances on any of her goals. But I do drink the green smoothies she makes. Actually, she stands over me until I drink the last drop.

Here are some photos of the smoothies my daughter lovingly prepares. They contain baby spinach, cucumber, broccoli, apple and banana and water.

I told my daughter about my blog post. She says. ‘I don’t want you to become a vegan! I want you to go on a plant based diet of six months and lose weight.’

I laughed so hard. A plant based diet is vegan!

Before shot because my daughter says it’s pretty.

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The after shot

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The me drinking the smoothie, in bed, in my nightie with my normal hair. The normal, raw me with hangover.

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Also, I should mention that one of my books, Argenterra, an epic fantasy, is free on all eretailers (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble etc)  so if you want to try some of my fiction then help yourself.

And if you see me today at Worldcon 75, stop me and I’ll give you a koala or chocolate. Until I run out. Also, if you see me with glamour hair, that’s because I’m presenting a Hugo Award later on tonight.

 

 

 

 

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Today was the big day. Time to find the way to Messuskeskus (the convention centre) on the train, register and then hang around a meet people while waiting for the opening ceremony.

We had another hotel breakfast, but this time I went for the porridge instead of meatballs, franks and eggs. I also indulged in one of the bread rolls. The Fins really do bread in a big way.  So many kinds of bread. Also, this morning there are more fans here at the hotel. Beans and I made the train okay. It is only one stations and all the trains go to that station (Pasila). We could have taken a tram too.

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As part of our registration we were given a travel pass for free travel for the week. So excellent! First up, I didn’t have a membership. Somehow wires were crossed and it wasn’t processed whatever. It was sorted pretty quickly after I chased down Jukka Halme who was able to vouch for me. All my program stuff was fine so just a glitch. Registration was pretty efficient and I was able to get my badge printed out how I liked.

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There are many Australians at this conventions and also many Canberrans. You could say that there was an infestation of Australians here.

I was pretty overwhelmed at first at the con today. My job as GUFF delegate is to meet people. Preferably people I don’t know. So I can’t just hang with people I know although I can chat and stuff. It was good to have the support network there from the Australians and I really appreciate them and also my daughter to look out for me. Eventually I settled down and was able to meet people. I have a bag with the Australian flag and I have caramel koalas, cherry ripes and clip on Koala bears to give away. They make a nice ice breaker I guess.

So after registering we went in search of tea. Not much was open before 10 am but we found a place and I drank tea. Tea is my life’s blood so I’m finding the lack of tea disturbing. I may have mentioned this in a previous post. Then we walked about checking out the place.

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I pointed out George RR Martin, who was just sitting there by himself to my daughter. I think of myself as an extrovert, but I have fits of shyness. I’ve seen George around at all the worldcon I’ve been to. I’ve not been introduced so I can’t just rock up and say hi. Although I did work up the courage to give him a clip  on Koala and then slink away.

I caught up with Paul Weimer, the DUFF delegate, and handed over some books I promised and a bag of caramel koalas, a few NZ chocolate fish. We also took a bag full of books, Tim Tams and NZ chocolate to Gillian and Kylie’s room so they can be auctioned off on Saturday at the Fan Fund auction. Must earn back the $ spent on bringing me here. Then we had lunch, checked out the dealers room and met people.

I met Rikka, who told me there is a Geekgirl group in Finland. She have me a Fake Geek Girl ribbon and a Feminist ribbon and told me I could get a Finish one. I had to find it and after tweeting and asking about I found their table next to the Dublin World Con Bid table. I was so pleased.

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Meanwhile I was chatting up Finish people and asking how to say things like…how do I say I come from Australia? Olen kotoisin Australiasta.

After checking out the place, I met up with Joshua, who is involved with running the Hugos and with John Purcell, who is the TAFF delegate. We are presenting a Hugo together and Joshua wanted photos for the Hugo Booklet. Also, Joshua wanted to make sure we had the script for the ceremony and our Hugo’s ribbon. We chatted for  a bit and then as John and I were involved in the opening ceremony we had to make our way there. I was making my way to the prep room and I was stopped by a woman who demanded I get to the back of the line. I had to explain that I was participating in the ceremony. I can understand people’s frustrations in queues when people seemed to be pushing in. As it was we were sorta in the wrong place. However, it couldn’t be rectified because the section reserved for us was full anyway so we missed most of the performances as we were backstage.

Here is a shot of Jukka Halme in horns backstage.

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I talked to this Finish lady called Vanessa and she taught me out to say ‘I love Helsinki’ and I gave her chocolate. Then it was our turn to be called out on stage. The Fins have been lovely to us fan fund delegates. They included us in the opening ceremony so we got to stand up there in front of a thousand people with the guests of honour. Amazing. Then we got to say a few words.

I have to admit as soon as I got the email saying we were expected to say a few words it worried me. What few words should I say? My daughter had been teaching me to say “Good day, my name is Donna Maree Hanson, pleased to meet you in Finish. She suggested I say that. During the day and last night we added more Finish to my repertoire and rearranged it. So I was pretty nervous and Finish is a hard language but I gave a little speech in Finish. (I was told I was understandable!). I was supposed to translate it too but forgot as I was nervous.

This is the English version of what I said.

Good day. My name is Donna Maree Hanson. I am from Australia. Pleased to meet you. I am happy to be here. Thank you very much. I love Helsinki!

Pretty standard but I practiced and practiced it. There was cheering. I hope I did not say anything rude!

I was still shaking ten minutes later. The room was packed out and I understand people missed out on the opening ceremony, which is sad. It is also strange I think because often people don’t come to the opening ceremony.

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After the opening ceremony was a tea and chat session with George RR Martin and Peter and Emma Newman. It was called Live Tea and Jeopardy. It was fun and clever. Emma was hilarious.

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After that for me it was catch up with people, then have dinner, then hang around for the parties, which I did. We met more Fins, chatted, drank a long gin and then folded pretty early and was home by ten. Tomorrow I might be later. I’m not sure.

 

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Time flies! I meant to write this post when I got back but with one thing and another it got delayed.

I had a fab time. It is such a shame there will be no more reader conventions. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Australian Romance Readers Association will come up with in future because they are badass organisers.

So for a romance writer at a reader convention there are these things called swag or loot where writers give stuff away. It can be corny condoms, chocolate with flyers for books, post it notes, pens etc. A lot of it can be personalised. Often it will just be on a general table. When I went to RT Convention in New Orleans authors and publishers had to pay to put their swag in a special room, where readers could go in and take what they want. So as I knew this was the last convention I thought I’d go for the swag giveaway.

My book Opi Battles the Space Pirates was meant to be out. First, I was going to give away print copies, but I didn’t get the cover in time. Then I didn’t get the cover in time to give away Ebooks. So in the end I copied the Ebook (without cover) to USBs and included them in the loot bags.

Ten lucky people got the swag with the book on a USB stick. I had another six bags with general loot. Cautionary tale, don’t put the chocolate hearts in until after you have driven from Canberra to Melbourne as the chocolate will sweat in the heat. Other than packing, that was my preparation.

On the way down and on the way back I stopped at my favourite place, Benalla Art Gallery. This is a picture of the view from where I ate my lunch!

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So what was different about this ARRC? This is my third convention attendance and this time it was in Melbourne at the Rydges in Exhibition Street. Great location and great hotel. Always a good start.

I signed up for the extra-curricular activities, such as the high tea at Zumbo’s and the cruise but my first foray into meeting readers was in the lift. I spoke to Tiffany (waves to Tiffany) and asked her if she was there for the convention. We talked favourite genre on the way up in the lift. She reads paranormal and I write it. So good start. Good on me for being friendly and actually saying hi! to someone. I’m an extrovert but I don’t always find it easy.

Next up was saying hello to whoever was around while waiting for the bus to the high tea.

Keri Arthur called me over, then CS Pacat was there. Say hi to these talented and lovely authors!

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I don’t have a photo of her, but a few minutes after this photo was taken, Debbie (chair) introduced Courtney Milan to us and we hung together for the bus ride (ended up being a life dare to ride that thing) to Zumbos. The high tea was amazing. I’m trying not to put on weight so I figured there were parts of the high tea I could skip. No! I couldn’t. It was all different and peculiar and amazing. The food gave everyone something to talk about. I sat next to Keri Arthur, opposite Cat Pacat and with Courtney Milan, but even better I had eight readers on my left side and I got to talk with them all. Here’s the test. Can I remember all their names?

First up was Tiffany who I met in the lift, then Amanda (we became buddies), Yanna (also became a buddy) oh oh…Barbara?, then ???, the Melissa and Melanie….oh I was so close. It’s on the tip of my tongue. Anyway it was so much fun. I talked all manner of science fiction and fantasy as well as romance reading across the table, sharing our faves and also picking up new recommendations. Melanie I knew from Canberra. She’s a librarian and she had already encouraged me to read McMaster Bujold’s Vorkorisgan series. My fun moment was when Courtney Milan realised she was sitting next to CS Pacat and she had a fangirl moment. That must have been very cool for Cat! (hahaha).

Then it was back to the hotel, where there were a few close shaves in the bus. Glad to be still living, we went off to get ready for drinks. I really did go over my limit. More on that later. Got to talk to heaps of people. Got to chat with Kristen Callihan, but I didn’t know who she was. (she gave an awesome talk by the way!) PS I stole this photo from Yanna on Facebook.

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Then came the Trivia Quiz. That was hard. I was tipsy. I snaffled Melanie and Melissa and Amanda with us writers. It was hard. We did well in the movies, abysmally elsewhere. We won Ice Magic topping for our ice cream. We also won Tim Tams. In the end we resorted to making up answers. Being silly was the fun part of it. We didn’t win either.

Next day the conference started. One of the really cool things I did and I think other conventions should steal this idea was author speed dating. (I keep writing hot dating but that just boggles the imagination). Ten authors, ten readers, four minutes each!  It was great for author/reader interaction, which is sometimes hard to do even at a reader convention. I got to give away nine of my goodie bags. I was so pleased. One reader didn’t show. It was a great way for readers to discover new authors too.

Later that day was the book signing. It took place in Bobby McGees nightclub and it was an interesting venue. The prize for the most startling attraction to her table goes to Wanda Wiltshire for a shirtless man with wings. The poor man was freezing but you know it worked! The photo below is from my signing table. I gave away the rest of my goodie bags and sold a book. Woot! Sorry no picture of the bare-chested man or is that fairy?

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I also went along to the Harlequin drinks and had a very interesting conversation with Narelle Harris, who talked about her slash Holmes/Watson book, called A Colonial Boy (I bought the book later). Thank you Harlequin!

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Next big thing was the ARRA Awards dinner. I sat at the table with the most awards. Keri Arthur won for her section and Anne Gracie won about five awards. I really should have taken a photo with Anne and her collection. It was amazing.I sat with Anne Gracie at the signing so I can understand how much that support from readers means to her. I did snag a photo of Keri though.

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Melissa and I went into the bling off. Melissa should have won. She made her outfit but she needed to flash her sequined bra to bring it off. Kate Cuthbert co-judge offered to send her a prize. I wore my amazing Bollywood-type shoes I bought on a shopping expedition with Keri Arthur in New Orleans. Below is Melissa and below that my shoes.

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Yanna and Amanda came over to take a snapshot of us in our finery.

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On Sunday, I chaired a panel on Feminism versus Romance. At the end of this post is a link to a post about that panel. Renee Dahlia took what looks like incredibly detailed notes. I was nervous as all hell. I’d left my computer at my friend’s place in Melbourne, thinking that I wouldn’t be writing then remembered it had all the stuff for the panel on it. Anne Gracie kindly chatted to me in the dealer’s room beforehand. I was pacing. She also had a print out of the questions. Handy!

I thought the panel discussion went well. I’m usually good at public speaking but I did feel nervous. The panel itself was so interesting and right on my PhD topic area. Thank you to the lovely authors, Erica Hayes, Anne Gracie, Amber Bardan and Bronwyn Parry for a great discussion.

After the panel I fell into a heap. I got to hear Courtney Milan’s guest speech and Kristen Callihan’s which were so worth it. I missed Kylie Scott’s which was a shame but I was busy doing other stuff. It was a sad goodbye at the end of the convention. The team really do organise well and there was masses of food and the hotel room was great.

I should give a shout out to my roommate, Catherine Evans. She was fun to hang with and so quiet. We had some fun midnight discussions and she drinks as much tea as I do.

So the convention was over but there was more. Yes, a river cruise and it was in a Tramboat. Very cute little thing. I got to hang out with my mates, Yanna and Amanda and we also had breakfast together. I’d been out for dinner on Sunday night and ate way too much and spent an uncomfortable night so was not feeling the best. But their company cheered me up.

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And that was that. A lovely weekend, great weather. Lovely people. Thank you so much ARRA for a great weekend. Edit! A shout out to Pamela Diaz for great MCing and her general sweetness.

A pic of me taken by Amanda. Drinking tea as I do.

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Notes to Feminism versus Romance panel discussion. Here.

Hugs!

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