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Friday Photos – Nullus Anxietas 5

A few photos from the Australian Discworld Convention in Sydney last weekend. Have I really been back less than a week? So much has happened it feels like a month.

Badges Loot

I raided the Dealers Tent and bought badges for my collection. One was given me for my volunteering work. The Be More Terry was was to every attendee by Rob Wilkins and there’s a little one of Rincewind played by Troy Larkin in Run Rincewind Run comes from the Adelaide Mini Con in 2012, they were only issued to attendees but Danny knows I have a collection so he gave me a spare. My joy knows no bounds!

Death in crochet

I took some wool and a crochet hook, while I got little useful done it served as an introduction to some people (I was also waving at people I didn’t know and saying hello but that’s rather beside the point). This amazing scarf was displayed to me by the owner on the Friday, she’s made Death into a scarf! Such amazing talent.


This is my reading loot. The top book was in my con bag, donated by Galaxy Books. The other four I bought from the ASIM table. I have so much Simon Petrie as he kept adding in more books and giving me discounts, I put in an Edwina Harvey as I didn’t want to buy only one author. They had lots of ASIM magazines for sale which I neglected to buy as I have them all…except for the first issue and that’s out of print.

Portfolio cover

It was decided to publish a very special portfolio to be given to everyone who attended the full convention. We had to line up for signing by both Rob Wilkins (Terry’s PA) and Stephen Briggs (massager of Terry’s books into play form). It’s only a little book but I will treasure it.


Here is the inside of the Portfolio. I was near the beginning of the queue when Rob was still asking people if they wanted one stamp or two. I couldn’t make up my mind so I copied the person in front of me who asked for random stamps and we were given both, I think he used both stamps thereafter. Rob signed this page while Stephen signed another page.

Interwebs stuff

As a bit of change of pace I’ve browsed the web and found some interesting articles for you.

Bookseller YA book prize goes to feminist dystopia I was interested by this headline and even more intrigued by the article. The book is about girls in boarding school vying for the chance to be chosen by a boy for his bride to look after him and have his babies until such time as she’s not capable any more. I wondered what this has to do with feminism until I came to this sentence

But, in the final year, it all starts to unravel.

and I started to be interested. All very well, but the article gives no more details so I hope it really is feminist literature.

Harper Lee’s Abandoned True-Crime Novel

Anything Harper Lee is bound to catch my eye at the moment and I found this one rivetting, totally rivetting. Lee is approached to write a novel about a man who insures family members then kills them and gets away with it. Apparently she joins the family for some time, does lots of research, takes the files away with her, starts writing it and then strings the family along finally completely forgetting about them. It’s a wonderful story waiting for an author to write it.

Memphis Publisher Sues Salinger Estate

Another author who caught my eye. Having recently read Salinger’s most interesting novel The Catcher in the Rye it became a must read and I found it less salacious and a case of DRM.

Why Writing is So Hard

One writer’s view of how writing is challenging.

Matt Sumell’s novel-in-stories Making Nice is one of the funniest (and best) books of the year, featuring the self-destructive but well-meaning Alby–a “loser,” according to his sister. Here, Sumell talks about the agonizing process of writing, pushing through the pain, and why it still remains necessary.

Sumell talks, in part, about how autobiographical a book can be.

Asking whether Amazon is friend or foe is a simple question that is complicated to answer

Another fascinating article about Amazon. I thought I’d written enough about them but this one looks to be reasonably balanced. It talks about how Amazon made the ebook market. Certainly, it’s always taken a big company to start something new as you have to have the deep pockets necessary to take the plunge and start a brand new project no-one’s thought of before, or in this case, make it big.

The comments make interesting reading and kudos to you if you make it all the way through to the end of them.


Law Suits

In this increasingly litigious society far too many people are worried about law suits, it seems one can’t say what one feels necessary, even using completely factual information, without worrying about facing a law suit. I am now considering how I can cushion this blog against them and I am one of the least likely to be affected. Free speech seems to be less free than before, let me explain at least in part.

There is a law suit. Ellora’s Cave is a romance publisher and is currently suing Dear Author, a blog about romance books and the world of romance writing. This article is what the case is all about. I haven’t gone into the details but I have read many of the comments on this article and several others so it seems legitimate and factual. Some people are speculating that this is a SLAPP case, a law suit designed to silence people about this topic and if you read further into this it appears to be happening as you can see here in this new blog.

As many of you know I don’t like romance, can’t stand it in any way, shape or form except in real life. That doesn’t mean I can stand back and ignore the whole thing. I see romance and erotica resembling science fiction as it used to be before it became a ‘legitimate’ thing to read.

Some decades ago (my memory tells me pre-1940s or 1950s but I’m not checking this) science fiction was something to be picked up in pulp fiction and wasn’t really taken seriously despite many of the stories being written by eminent scientists such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, something changed around the 1970s and ’80s and I’m not sure what was the catalyst but probably movies such as Star Wars, Star Trek and Back to the Future. Now you can find science fiction books proudly displayed in every bookshop and it has been legitimised.

Romance has been underground just like science fiction and is now being legitimised, many more people are reading and appreciating the genre than ever before. I see so many of my friends enjoying, sharing, and writing about romance and while I don’t understand and have no intention of joining them I do defend their right to read whatever they like. One genre to arise from this is erotica and a sub-genre of romance-erotica. Ellora’s Cave is one of the foremost sellers of ebooks in these genres. They seem to be in some financial difficulty and are suing Dear Author in an effort to silence them rather than finding a legitimate method out of their troubles.

What will happen?

I really don’t know. Some book bloggers will continue to say what they wish and I hope they have enough money behind them in order to hire a good lawyer. Others will become more circumspect. Will this stop people saying what they really feel about a book? Will this stop people being critical of publishers or book sellers? All questions I can’t answer as I don’t have a crystal ball. Until now I was thinking this was a good time to be a reader as you have a much broader range of reviews, you’re not limited to reading them in the newspaper, you can find reviews on a much broader range of topics. If you only read science fiction there are blogs out there who only write about science fiction, others who only write about romance, still others who only write about fantasy. You’re not left with the scanty efforts of a newspaper which is limited to the two or three readers they have who might not read the books you’re interested in.

Friday Photos

The exciting Judy Nunn, our special surprise guest. Can't wait to read her book.

The exciting Judy Nunn, our special surprise guest. Can’t wait to read her book.

Look what greeted me when I got to Random House's offices! A lovely array of books all colour coded.

Look what greeted me when I got to Random House’s offices last Tuesday for the National Book Bloggers Forum! A lovely array of books all colour coded.

Found some of our own Trudi Canavan at the Tullamarine Airport book shop. She's in good company here.

Found some of our own Trudi Canavan at the Tullamarine Airport book shop. She’s in good company here.

National Book Bloggers Forum 2014

Today I’m on the way home to Melbourne after a very exciting day spent at Random House in Sydney. It was a wonderful day, I had a blast, made some new friends and thanks to Penguin Random House exceeded my baggage allowance for my flight. This is a photo of my loot.



They did what any self-respecting organiser of conferences does nowadays and had free wifi for everyone on site encouraging us to tweet as much as we liked. It was fascinating to follow the hash during the day. I’ve been to ProBlogger blogging conferences and I’ve been to Digital Parents Conferences as well as Nuffnang conferences but this was the first one where I felt able to follow along with the Twitter stream. It was incredible! I’ll give you an overview today and go into more detail using the Twitter stream to remind me.

Our opening address was by Brett Osmond, the director of Random House Australia’s Marketing and Publicity Department. He started by talking about the books he’s been reading.

He was followed by Eva Bui and Ellie Morrow who talked about improving SEO, Google Analytics and promoting your blog. This was packed full of information and I only hope I can reproduce enough of it. I was intrigued by our expectations, some of us thought the digital gurus should be male but these two people we’re drop dead gorgeous females…what stereotypes.

Sneh Roy won the 2013 Best Australian Blog Competition, she came in and talked about her journey. Her blog is about cooking and it came to no surprise to find morning tea included a beautiful burnt butter slice made in an oven in her back yard…very bad for the waistline.

Various Penguin Random House publishers were very enthusiastic about the books they’re most excited to publish this year. I’ll name drop in a future article.

Judy Lynn was our surprise guest author, we had no idea until she came through the door, she began her presentation with a video narrated by her husband, Bruce Venables. I was chuffed as I’ve seen both of them on TV and was almost as close to her as I could possibly be.

New author, Bruce McCabe, spoke about his journey to being published by Random House. I look forward to reading his book, either it’s incredibly good or he’s just incredibly lucky.

Random House Australia’s Managing Editor, Brandon VanOver, shared some inside secrets to getting published. I felt this was a letdown, I could easily have listened to him for another hour, he spoke so fast and in shorthand in order to get it all in.

I enjoyed each presenter but I felt the time passed far too quickly. The whole day felt like two hours but the clock assured me I’d been there from 9 am till 5 pm.

Typo Nazi or Grammar Nazi

I cringe and get thoroughly annoyed whenever someone calls me a Typo Nazi or a Grammar Nazi, I do not feel I am in any way as nasty, horrible and all encompassing as anything the Nazis did. Yes, it’s true, I might upset someone briefly and sometimes they’ll be annoyed or worried for a while longer but I don’t haunt them over it for weeks, months or even take their lives and their family’s lives. Or even destroy their artworks or livelihoods.

Read this article all the way to the end and then come back.

You’ve read it? Good, now keep those images of those children in your mind. I understand this is a very American centric article but we seem to find ourselves copying America in far too many ways and with the number of memes I’ve seen going around the traps with the word Nazi in them but not in relation to the Holocaust I feel we’re copying them again in this regard. And, I feel it is totally unnecessary and wrong.

There are far worse things in the world than those like me who pounce on typos and grammar problems.

Publishing house names

Publishing house names can be an interesting thing. When they first started they were named after the founder and there are some big names in publishing. I’m talking people such as Gollancz, Shuster, Knopf and the ubiquitous many more. There’s been a shift and I’m going to talk about the publishing houses named after birds. Here are some examples: Penguin; Pelican; Puffin; and Black Swan. I won’t mention Bantam!

If you look at all those birds they’re much loved. They give the image of loveability and stability. Almost everybody loves the Penguin, they’re considered small, loveable and cute (except for Emperor Penguins which are probably half my height). Pelicans are big, with a large wingspan and an interesting beak, they make one feel grounded. Puffins are again cute with a great appeal to children and the brand has provided many much loved (there’s that ‘loved’ word again) books directed at children, you can find many top fantasy tales published by Puffin including The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Black Swans are seen as elegant creatures and in the UK they would have also been seen as fantasy as they only had white Swans and couldn’t conceive of Swans with black feathers so when reports of  black swans filtered back from Australia to the UK they were disbelieved.

One publisher I’m going to include here is Ladybird Books. You’re right, they’re not birds but they have bird in their name and so many people are captivated by them. I’ve been passing people in the park watching something intently and when I look carefully I see a Ladybird. Like bees they are a valuable part of the food chain and are used by growers instead of pesticides. The brand exudes trustworthyness and cuteness. Ladybird is actually coming up to 100th birthday and as a result has released its Retro Vintage range of goodies.

And, not only but also. I was actually going somewhere with this article but last night was the first decent sleep in a while and my brain won’t let me remember where. On that note I’ll leave you to enjoy, or not, whatever weather you’re experiencing in your neck of the woods.

Lend Me Thine Ears

Here are just a few things I’ve found on the web recently.

Asteroid named after Scottish author Iain Banks

The late Iain Banks had some influential fans and this one decided to honour him after his death by naming an asteroid after him.

Mills & Boon and Cosmopolitan sign up sizzling bestselling author to kick off new e-book series

Here we go, M&B goes electronic with a sizzling new series designed specifically for the ereader.

Has Amazon got a monopoly yet?

Not sure I agree with the summation in this article, but I’m sure that’s where Amazon is heading.

Kickstarter pulls the plug on a campaign due to a copyright issue.

I’m of two minds with this one. It’s good for copyright issues but it makes it hard for the fan to write fan fic when everything they write could potentially cause copyright issues. My first thought was that I was okay then I remembered Mondayitis and I can’t help wondering how close I’m coming to having potential copyright issues in the future. Food for thought.

New player

There’s a new player in the ebook publishing industry. Draft2Digital has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged Smashwords to a duel. Not really but it sounds good. What Draft2Digital actually say is that they fill a hole in the market that Smashwords doesn’t fill.

Smashwords is a publisher of ebooks. They are there for the author and they have an exacting process whereby you have to work through a series of steps to get your ebook published but at the end you have full control of your ebook and then how it sells is up to you as you do the marketing. Draft2Digital seems to have staff onboard who do all the donkey work so you fill out some forms, upload your draft and they do the rest.

There’s problems with both and most of those are to do with proofreading and editing. If you haven’t taken the time and put the money into having someone else proofread and edit it then it could easily be a dreadful book that is likely to sink (except for 50 Shades of Grey type books which fill some kind of need). There are vanity presses who will take your draft and publish it, printing as many copies as you want, their processes also don’t have proofreading or editing involved as they don’t employ the staff for that. And as an aside, if you want your book published by a regular publisher then it’s best to ensure the you’ve done the proofreading and editing before you send it in as it means they have less to do and it’s more likely to get further through the slush pile process.

Also, traditional publishers will dismiss a book that is obviously tripe and won’t publish it whereas with vanity publishers, Smashwords and now Draft2Digital there is no medium to say this book is total rubbish and shouldn’t pass muster. I foresee a lot more ebooks which should never see the light of day…will mine be one of them? Stay tuned to find out.


Three things that have come across my computer this week I feel moved enough to talk about.


The Royal Society of Literature enrolls its fellows using a special pen. Traditionally they’ve used a quill once belonging to Charles Dickens but that is beginning to wear after only a century and a half of use so they’re retiring it (do you think it’s old enough to be retired? What could be the retirement age for a quill?) and replacing it with a pen once owned by TS Eliot given him by his mother. How awesome it would be to become a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and have the chance of using these great mens’ pens/quills.


It used to be that a tragedy would be written about some time after all the fuss and bother was over, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. The Oscar Pistorius story is in the process right now, South African Eyewitness News reporters Mandy Wiener, author of the bestselling Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed, and Barry Bateman have been given the go ahead to write the Oscar and Reeva story. The good news? It won’t be published until after the trial is concluded but it still seems very money grubbing to me. I understand it means they’ll be able to attend every day and do their own research behind the scenes to come up with a story so they won’t have to piece it together after the event but it just feels dirty.


I found this discussion on academic etextbooks. They feel etextbooks won’t take off, I beg to differ. Books are made out of paper which are made out of trees and there are only a finite number of trees in the world so it just makes sense that we should turn to ereaders and stop cutting down trees, stop destroying the forests and animals’ homes in order to read our books. I truly believe we will all be reading books on ereaders in the future and that printed books will be a luxury. There are a few problems still to solve though. The article talks about the researcher only reading up to 100 pages of a book and then never referring to it again so being able to rent/borrow books for a certain period of time makes some kind of sense. And how do you highlight passages in an ebook? One self help book I read recently had the author talking about reading self help books and making notes in the margins, it’s a little harder to do that in ebooks, but if we could then it’d make it easier to read a book for any kind of writing or to read books and refer back to individual passages later on.

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I want to thank the Koolin people for their thousands of years of guardianship and caretaking of the area where I live.