Aurealis Awards

I was plowing through the To-Do list this morning (it included such items as “eat breakfast” and “shower”, because on days like this, if it’s not on the list, it’s not getting done) when I got an email from Editor S.

Despite the fact that “triage email” was further down the list, I have never been able to resist the allure of Inbox (1).

Also, the subject was “SQUUEEEEEEEEAALLL!!”

There was no actual content. Instead, there was an attachment containing the Aurealis Awards Finalists press release.

From these FIENDISHLY DIFFICULT CLUES, I deduced that Guardian of the Dead might be listed, and clicked in nervous anticipation.

At the same time, my phone beeped. It was a text from the lovely Tessa.

The Lovely Tessa: “You’re up for an Aurealis!”
Me: “In the divine words of Ms Gwen Stefani, this shit is bananas.”
The Lovely Tessa: “B A N A N A S”

So, yes! Guardian of the Dead is indeed a finalist in the Young Adult Novel section, along with Merrow (Ananda Braxton-Smith), The Midnight Zoo (Sonya Hartnett), The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher (Doug Macleod) and Behemoth (some guy who fed me this weekend).

The full list can be seen in the press release linked here. It is a very, very good list. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Tales for Canterbury

Internets, I have not told you of Tales for Canterbury! How very remiss of me.

Tales for Canterbury is an anthology of original short stories and reprints by writers from inside and outside New Zealand. All proceeds are going to the New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Appeal, to aid people in the stricken city. None of the contributors nor the editors are getting paid.

Editors Anna Caro and Cassie Hart started putting the anthology together the day after the earthquake, and the response has been incredible. So much so that they opened pre-orders for the anthology one month after the quake. If you know anything about publishing, internets, and also about Star Trek, you know that this is Warp 13.

So, the pub date is expected to be mid-April (!!!!) and pre-orders are open, for both electronic and print copies! You can pre-order copies at Random Static for $12 NZ (electronic) and $24.95 NZ (print)*.

What Christchurch gets for your money is badly needed help.

What do YOU get for your money?


The full contributor list can be found here, but it includes such luminaries as Juliet Marillier, Gwyneth Jones, Sean Williams, Jay Lake, Helen Lowe, Tina Makereti, Jeff VanderMeer and Neil Gaiman.

Oh, and me, all a-flutter at my inclusion in such stellar company.

My contribution, “The Unicorn Bell”, is something of a urban fable. It features seven-year-old Sophie, a full moon, a nor’wester wind, and the most magical thing in her Nana’s magical house.

If you liked Guardian of the Dead and/or Queen of the Kitchen, I think you’d like it. Even if you don’t, odds are that you’ll really enjoy something.

Pre-order here!

Also, feel free to link everywhere you see fit.

* Non-NZers: if you are eyeing those prices and going, “wellll, if it’s for CHARITY”, be aware that these are actually very cheap prices for New Zealand books. Trade paperbacks often come in at nearly twice that, I am not kidding. Also, if you are in the USA, remember that this is New Zealand dollars. It’s like… fifty cents of your money**.

** Okay, maybe a dollar.


My To-Do List for today includes “write blog post”.

Oh, how foolish I am. Many things happened from the moment I wrote that item, and internets, I am awash with things I simply must tell you. One blog post will not suffice! But this is the first.

My circumstances are not nearly so dire as those of many many others, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the collection of disasters in places I have lived and love, deadline pressures, and a legal matter of which I am not at liberty to speak all took their toll. To whit, my brain resembled a hamster on speed running around and around its wheel, nose twitching ceaselessly at a treat held just out of reach.

A holiday was called for.

And so it was that on Friday I traveled to the foreign land of Sydney, to take grateful refuge in the summer abode* of Dr Larbalestier and Mr Westerfeld.

I did not touch a computer for four days, and it was AWESOME. Instead, I was given guided tours to the wonders, scandals and crimes of Sydney past and present, a topic on which Justine is unsurprisingly well-versed. I was given good wines and absolutely incredible food. I was given a beautiful view of the city skyline from the balcony garden, as the flying foxes zipped past and the city hummed. I was given lovely company and interesting conversation and delicious tea.

I was given rest and respite, which I have rarely needed so badly, nor valued so much.

Also, I am really not kidding about the food. I haven’t eaten that well in ever.

Then I came back, to aforementioned deadlines, and began working on the To-Do List. But lo, things had begun to happen in my absence…

* Yes, all right, both of their abodes are summer ones.

The Shattering cookie: Meet Janna!

Cookie time has come again! A very fast poll indicated you would like to see Musician Janna, as opposed to Flirty Janna or Magic Janna, so here we go. But with flirtiness attached anyway. Janna van der Zaag multi-tasks, yo!


Tiny bit of relevant context: Janna’s nickname is Stardust. She claims it’s because she’s vital to the existence of the universe, but Keri has a different, less flattering, origin story for the name.

Patrick looked disgusted, but then again, that was his basic state. “Don’t spend the money before we’ve earned it,” he ordered. “I don’t know if you’ve thought about this, but we have eight days to prepare for the most important gig of our lives. We need to be focused!”

“We need a set list,” Janna said, and slung Cherry Bomb over her shoulder. “Let’s start with ‘Elephant in the Bath’; it’s jumpy, and everyone loves it.”

That, as she had predicted, started an argument about what to play in which order. Patrick won, because he was picky and stubborn and also because he had an annoying habit of being right. Takeshi watched them shout at one another for a while, but his eyes began to wander, inspecting the equipment and the egg cartons nailed to the garage walls.

Janna was wondering if this had been a bad idea. She picked out a B-flat scale, held the final chord, and stepped on the chorus pedal. The sound reverberated around the room. The boys stopped talking. And Takeshi’s eyes snapped back to her.

“Could we, I don’t know, rehearse?” she asked.

Patrick tilted his head, and the twist of his smile said that he knew exactly what she was doing. But he was a good ex-boyfriend.

“‘Elephant in the Bath,’ ” he said, stepping up to the mic. “One, two, three.”

And Janna felt Stardust come up through the soles of her boots and take over. The work was all Janna’s, learning the song, getting the timing, playing alone and with the boys over and over and endlessly over until it clicked at last into what they needed. But once that part was done, and the song was muscle memory in her strong hands, it was sexy, powerful Stardust who took the stage, the backbone of the band, the rhythm that drove them all on and up to new heights. She could feel Takeshi’s attention, warm sun on her skin, as her calloused fingers spider-walked through the opening notes.

And the boys, as always, felt her shining beside them and went for it.

They finished, note and beat perfect, with Patrick breathing out the final words, energy crackling between them.

“We’re going to kick ass,” Hemi said, grinning. And Janna thought that was true, but it was Takeshi she looked at, for the first time since Patrick’s countdown. His pupils had dilated, and he was staring directly at her.

“What did you think?” Patrick asked.

“Good,” Takeshi said. “Very, very good.”

But he said it to her.