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30 April 2014

Over the last six days I’ve been in Auckland at the National SF Convention. It was a great trip, (although as usual the bus companies were so incompetant that they left me wondering how they make a living. Last year I went to and from the con down in Wellington entirely by bus but had considerable problems getting them to actually provide the tickets paid for and not tickets for some other days/times. And the trip home with a friend coming to stay after the con was terrifying. We had a bus driver who had the bus all over the road and by the time we alighted, we were shades of green (me) and white (her) from sheer fright and waiting for the crash.) This time it was just their inability to get the tickets right that occurred, although that provided stress and irritation enough. The hotel was the same one as we used in 2012, a pleasant smallish place with good facilities and very suitable for a convention. I’d been asked to be the NZ Profesional GoH, and accepted with pleasure. The con was run by friends I’ve known in one case for just over 30 years, and in the other case a few years less. But both are excellent administrators, and I had the great time that I expected. I found stacks of unread books to bring back, had excellent co-GoHs, met stacks of friends I usually only see at cons, and even had a day to relax afterwards while staying with my con-admin friends  6 days later I’m home again, exhausted, to a cat greeting me frantically, geese scolding me vigorously, two blown lightbulbs, my leg going on strike when I got up this morning because of all the trotting about, and 80 emails requiring attention. Oh, and the confounded bus staggered to my stop around half an hour late. But I’m back and east, west, home’s best.

The past 2-3 years I’d noticed that there seemed to be fewer of the Currawongs about (called White-backed Magpies here in Hawkes Bay, probably because they too are black and white.) Normally my shelterbelts are filled with their medodic warbling but the last couple of years I haven’t heard so much of that. Not this last summer, they’ve been back, babies ‘yeeping’ from the trees, parents zooming around and studying me amiably from fenceposts. I believe that elsewhere they do make attacks on people getting too close to their nest sites, but that’s never applied here and when the babies fly I’ve often walked within 5-6 feet of a family line-up on a fence rail. I hope that they had a good breeding season and that there’s still more of them around next summer. They may be Australians originally, but after so many generations I think they do belong here now. I like them and I love their endearing bubbling song. I think my area is lucky to have them and may they live long and prosper here.

Use Only As Directed, an anthology of original speculative fiction edited by Simon Petrie and Edwina Harvey, and published by Peggy Bright Books, will launch at Continuum X, in Melbourne, June 6-9.  I’m delighted to note that once again, I’ll be sharing a stage with Dave Freer. Here’s the lineup:

‘Large Friendly Letters’ — Stephen Dedman

‘The Eighth Day’ — Dirk Flinthart

‘Never More’ — Dave Freer
‘The Climbing Tree’ — Michelle Goldsmith
‘The Kind Neighbours of Hell’ — Alex Isle
‘Fetch Me Down My Gun’ — Lyn McConchie
‘Yard’ — Claire McKenna
‘Dellinger’ — Charlotte Nash
‘Mister Lucky’ — Ian Nichols
‘The Blue Djinn’s Wish’ — Leife Shallcross
‘Always Falling Up’ — Grant Stone
‘Uncle Darwin’s Bazooka’ — Douglas A Van Belle
‘Future Perfect’ — Janeen Webb
‘Home Sick’ — M Darusha Wehm

The anthology will be available in print and e-formats.

18 April 2014

I notice that in recent issues of a magazine I read each week, that there have been a number of contributors saying that when they or someone they know were ill or hurt, the doctor brushed off the problem as nothing major. The person later discovered that whatever the problem was, it was very definitely major. The other side of that is what happened to me. To start with I freely admit that I’m obstinate, which has been just as well over the years. Back in 1977 I was involved in a bad accident. I was left with my right foot hanging from the smashed anklebones, attached by no more than the heel tendon. The right knee was a compound fracture with major tendon damage and deep lacerations. I was rushed to Emergency where the attending surgeon tried to persuade me to sign a form allowing the hospital to do any procedures it deemed necessary.

I refused. I might have been as high as a kite on nitrous oxide, but I knew what he had in mind. He was told that my next of kin had arrived and going outside the theatre he attempted to persuade her to sign for me. She refused. He came back and once more tried to persuade me to sign. An acquaintance was a nurse there at the time and subsequently told me that I reared up and told him in words of one syllable that if he approached me intending to amputate my leg, it wouldn’t be my leg – or anything of mine – that was amputated. He decided they would repair my leg. That was done, I was returned to the ward to recover, but he visited me twice more during the next six weeks in attempts to convince me that my leg had been so severely damaged that it would never heal sufficiently to allow me to walk on it. I said that a leg could always be amputated, when or if I thought it had come to my having no other choice. But that if he was wrong, a) we’d never know, and b) it could hardly be stuck back on. Another operation two years later and I was walking again without crutches or cane on the leg “that was too damaged to ever bear my weight.”

About that time the orthopedic surgeon who had operated told me that because of the extreme damage, severe osteoarthritis would set in within 15-20 years of the original accident, at which stage I would again have a choice. Either to be in a wheelchair, or to have the leg amputated. I said that I’d consider that when or if the time came. Recently I had a set of x-rays done of the damaged leg. It is now more than thirty-five years since the accident. From the latest x-rays there is no sign of “the severe osteoarthritis,” and I continue to walk, now with one crutch when off my property, since occasionally the leg gives way unexpectedly and I can catch myself with the full-length crutch if that happens. But I’m not in a wheelchair, nor am I an amputee. If I’d listened to two eminent specialists, I’d be an amputee; something that it is now clear was never necessary.

Don’t always believe your doctor. Most of the time he or she is right, they’ve done years of training to be that way. But now and again they’re wrong, and at such times your instincts are often screaming that the doctor/s are wrong, and when that time comes, my advice is, listen to your instincts and not necessarily to the doctor! Don’t rush into treatment no matter how much the doctor urges you that it’s vital you waste no time, use a little more time to consider your choices, get a second opinion, and give yourself time to think. Otherwise you could end up, as I would have done if I hadn’t refused, one-legged – and hopping mad about it.

Not that I’m complaining, unlike some others. To date since Saturday the the 8th, we’ve had 220mm. Or around 9 inches. It hasn’t been pouring for most of that, just a steady rain/drizzle that has soaked in deeper and deeper. And with temperatures still staying up, it means that we should get the benefit of it all before winter. Of course, it hasn’t been at all popular with the hens, who have spent most of the last couple of weeks standing in the haybarn doorway glaring at the sky or at me when I come to feed them. I gather that in some way I’ve caused this and should stop it at once. I can’t. And right now with it doing a lot for winter grass growth, I’m not sure I would even if I could…

Softcover Severn House, 2011.

I was introduced to this author in 1990 when her first book (A New Leash On Death) appeared. A friend recommended it and I’ve been buying them ever since. However in late 2007 after All Shots, there appeared to be no more. I looked until late 2010, and found that she was now writing another series (that I didn’t like) with her daughter, sighed, and guessed that this was it. Until a couple of months ao when I was on-line chasing up something else and discovered that there was another in the ‘Dog Lovers’ series that had come out in 2011 and that I’d never known about. I pounced. Got a copy, read it happily and am now about to add a short review to this history but I am also puzzled. For twenty years Conant’s books appeared, first from Charter/Diamond, and then from Berkley Prime Crime, this one is from Severn, and the copy I received is printed by Lightening Source. Did Berkley decide that the books weren’t selling well enough? Did they have a falling-out? I never saw this one advertised and hence knew nothing about it. And while I’m delighted to have found and added it to my permanent library, does this mean that I have to go on line and search for the next in the series if there is a next every year from now on because otherwise I won’t know about it? I will if I have to because I really do love the series, but I wish Berkley had struck to publishing, and advertising them so I don’t have to waste my time searching. I -and probably many other readers prefer it that way.

And on Brute Strength. In between writing about dogs and caring for her other three malamutes and her cat, Tracker, and being married to Steve, a vet, Holly is also a filter for people wanting to adopt rescued malamutes. Too many of the people are unsuitable and rejection doesn’t make those rejected like you; or so Holly is doscovering. She has begun to receive threatening obscene phone calls, and then finds that two others of the rescue group are getting those as well. Someone Holly recently met and liked, dies in an odd car crash, and a member of her dog club then dies from an unexplained illness. And of course, Holly, prone to get involved, becomes interested in all three events particularly when it starts to look as if her cousin may be in danger. The twists and turns of that are, as usual with this author, very well handled, with great characters, wonderful dogs, and nope, I didn’t see the main villain coming until almost at the end. This book was well up to the series standard, and if it was Berkley that let the author go, I can only wonder at someone’s judgement. It will be a pain, but I’ll be watching for the next and really hoping that there is one. Recommended.

8 April 2014

In fact it has been for some time. It began on Saturday with patchy light drizzle, 2mls by Sunday morning, and again by Monday morning. 4mls to date. After that it stepped up, to steady drizzle, with occasional heavier showers but not stopping at all. It didn’t feel like a huge amount until I checked the rain gauge this monring, also at 7 – yes, us farmers do get up early, actually I was up half an hour before that – to find another 44mls. That’s almost 2 inches over the 2 and a half days, all soaking in and with no wind to dry it off the ground. The forecast is for this to continue and I’m really really hoping that they are right. IF they are, our area could see as much as 6-7 inches or 120-150mls for the week and all of it absorbed by dry land. A consumation devoutly to be wished!

I’m really happy to announce that my story, Fetch Me Down My Gun is sold, with contracts now signed, for the forthcoming Australian anthology USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. Which, so I hear, should be out around May if nothing goes wrong. (Often add that proviso because so often things do… As in an email this morning to say well- known editor Eric Reynolds recently had a stroke and his upcoming anthology – and my story’s possible acceptance – is on temporary hold. Hopefully he’ll be fine and so will the anthology. And then there was the anthology for which I had a story provisionally accepted  a few months back – until their finances fell over. Sigh. Life as an author isn’t always all it should be.)

hardcover, published Ace November 2013. Sequel to Troubled Waters but would I should think, be perfectly readable as a stand alone.

I was delighted to receive this as a birthday present since I’d really enjoyed the previous one about Zoe Andelay and hoped she be in this one. She was, as were two of the princesses, and a number of other characters from Troubled Waters, because this appears to be a direct sequel. Some five years have passed and Princesses Josetta and Corene have grown up. Zoe is married to Darian and has a baby, and life in their country continues to jog along. That is until the author introduces Rafe Adova, gambler, with mysterious antecedants about which he himself knows nothing, and a procession of would-be assassins pursuing him, about whom he knows all too well. This book was a full-on, non-stop gallop. between the question of the Royal Succession, the developement of powered land vehicles and the beginning of powered air ones, the machinations of Alys, Corene’s mother, the political problems caused by other countries, the on-going questions about Rafe, and the arrival of his younger brother Steff,  there’s never a dull moment. I throughly enjoyed this book and recommend both it and Troubled Waters. (Note – while Troubled Waters had an apparently definite ending, Royal Airs  has left a number of hooks open, almost demanding a third in the series – I do hope we see it.)



5 April 2014

I’ve done this by starting to get in winter firewood. First load of old man pine landed on the lawn last weekend. It is now all inside the shed and I’m awaiting the next load. This weekend is bringing the sheep in to check them over. Next weekend will hopefully be departure to a bookrama half an hour away, there to browse happily through thousands of very cheap books. Ah, cats, books, (and a warm house) life is good.

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