Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yesterday: on way to Loch Fyne

Half frozen lochs...
Bleak and beautiful...
Icy waterfalls for miles along the roadside...
Wonderful muted winter colours...
Husband - of course - took pix of lichens!

Today...Loch Lomond

I think the photos speak for themselves...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book loot

Christmas presents added to my to-be-read pile...
What's been added to your TBR pile? And have you read any of them yet??

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas: Glasgow 2010

That wooden box-like thing in the corner? It's a priest confessional.
And that second box-like thing projecting into the room? Another priest confessional
I had been in the room half an hour before I realised it contained a grand piano.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It wasn't Heathrow...

We are safely in Glasgow. Flight on time. Minus 7 degrees C when we landed, though, which is a bit of a shock to the system to Malaysian creatures! And it looks a lot like a winter wonderland...trees all white.
Glasgow airport
On the road home
Husband looks out our bedroom window
View out the loungeroom window...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trilogies - how do you like them?

When I was at Worldcon, on one of the panels, I asked two questions of the audience.

The first was this: do you like cliff hangers at the end of a book of a trilogy, enticing you to buy the next?

It was a fairly full lecture theatre, and the audience was split right down the middle - half of them loved them, half of them hated them.  (Since then I've seen one blogger write a whole blog post on how awful The Last Stormlord was because it didn't "finish" part of the story.)

And the second question: Do you like trilogies that come out one book every month? Would you happily buy them this way?

Most people said yes. (The problem is more that authors can't write a book a month...*grin*)

So what do you think?

And on quite another matter: I am now at the airport, waiting for a flight to Glasgow. Any bets on whether there will be too much snow for the plane to land?  The Noramlys are travelling! So far this year we've had two volcanoes... what will noramly us this time, I wonder?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some stats for writers seeking an agent

These sobering figures from Pub Rants, the blog of an agent, Kristen Nelson, from Denver, U.S. - the stats are for 2010.

9 new clients taken on in 2010 (for two agents)

36,000 number of queries read and responded to (around 120/day)

98 full manuscripts requested and read

839 number of sample pages requested and read 

 Think about this. Of 36,000 hopeful writers, exactly 9 had their dreams answered. That is 0.025%. Or one in every 4000. And they still haven't been accepted for publication...

Some years back, when I was hunting for an agent and/or publisher myself, I remember reading the statistic for one large publishing house, and it was rather similar. They took on 1 in about every 4,000-5,000 mss they received.

When I consider stats like this, I feel blessed that I am one of the lucky ones. Sure, I worked hard, but so do a lot of people.  Sometimes I take a deep breath, and think of the little girl who decided around the age of eight that she was going to be "an authoress", and wonder just how I got here. And I still have reason to be grateful: you guys who are reading my books (and not stealing them from free torrent sites) are keeping my career alive.  Thank you.

You can read Kristen's whole blog post here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

German cover of Gilfeather

So, does he look like your idea of Gilfeather? 
Or is he supposed to be someone else, e.g. Tor? Or Duthrick? Or someone else entirely?
It won't be out until August 2011, or so tells me.  
Der Hieler means "The Healer", by the way.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I have a spam filter on the comments, and it catches most of the rubbish.

What puzzles me is what some of the spam actually is. There is stuff in Chinese, Japanese and Russian. How many people reading my blog would actually read those languages?

And why do you think someone would bother to post this (computer generated?) nonsense - on a very old blog entry:

I be enduring infer from a insufficient of the articles on your website at this very moment, and I really like your line of blogging. I added it to my favorites trap age list and disposition be checking promote soon. Will check into public notice my put as ok and vindicate me be acquainted with what you think. Thanks.

What are they selling?

Sometimes such nonsense has an "anonymous" signature that can be clicked on (which I never do), but surely - even if I did allow the comment to be published - no one would be idiot enough to click on the signature of such twaddle. And who's even going to see it when it's a comment on a blog post that I wrote 3 years ago?

If I was going to send out spam aimed at bringing people to my website, I think I could think up something better than a pathetic attempt like this one. And there are stacks of it, just as silly and futile. Boy, do some people follow poor business models.

And just for a real laugh, did any of you see this (via Making Light)?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So, that's the copy edit done ...

...for Stormlord's Exile, Book 3. 
And guess what:

funny pictures-My get-up-and-go

I'm exhausted.

Right now, I am convinced the book is rubbish, I've never written anything so awful, and you'll all hate it. That's par for the course with every book at this stage. By the time I see the first pages (galley proofs as they used to be called) I shall have changed my mind. At least I hope I will have. Because if I haven't, it will mean that
the book is rubbish  
and I've never written anything so....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

David, unmanned.

I thought the Malaysian censors had grown up a bit, and got over this kind of puerile childish emphasis on the HORROR of actually - omigod - seeing human genitals. Well, not real ones. Stone ones. Oops, no, not stone ones. Just, um, photographs of stone ones.

(I am SCARRED for life! I actually SAW a replica of David, same size as the real statue, quite, quite naked, when I was an innocent child of 14 or so. I have never got over the trauma! *Hits back of wrist to forehead at the memory*)

Seems the censors have the mental capacity of the average chickpea. K.H.Lee send this to me - apparently this is how the December issue of National Geographic arrived to Malaysian subscribers. No, David is not wearing a lap-lap. That's just the censor's ink.

Malaysians, please do not travel to Europe. You will never survive the trauma of seeing all those naked statues in public places - you know, like on fountains, or on parliament and government building facades. You are warned!

Oh, and someone really ought to mention to the censorship people that the more you cover something up, the more curious folk are about what you have to hide. How many kids, leafing though Mum and Dad's National Geographic, are now going to go to the computer to see what was really hidden under there?

And here, for those of you who have a high threshold for life-changing trauma, who really think they can stand the horror of seeing part of the human body as portrayed by the greatest of sculptors, or if you subscribe to National Geographic in Malaysia, is what you were missing...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010



The wonderful people organising Swancon/Natcon* in Perth Western Australia 2011, have included me in their list of invited guests. Many, many thanks to Alisa and the team.

You can read all about the event here. And just look at the list of people I'll be getting to spend time with! The main guests are Ellen Datlow, Justina Robson and Sean Williams, but there are loads of other wonderful people going to be there too.

So, of course, that made up my mind. Twisted the arm of my boss (April is a busy month in the project) and said that I'm going. Now to find the money for the fare to get there...  

....#Honey, many miles have you got on your Malaysian Airlines Enrich card? You don't really need them, do you?#

* This is the 36th Swancon and the 50th National Australian SF Convention.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Do you like dragons?

Then try this. Not sure you'll like it? Read the Amazon reviews! Solid 5 stars all the way, and this guy gets starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly, too. It would make a great Christmas present.

He's also a terrific fellow. The author, I mean...

Monday, December 06, 2010

When Malaysia makes me sad...

Malaysia is many things. A multi-racial country of modern highways and skyscrapers and modern education, where there are more women in university than men, where our top banker is a woman, where women are vice-chancellors (presidents) of universities.  I go to the local government clinic once every 3 months and see whoever the doctor is on duty - and in all the years I've been going there, the different doctors have always been  young Muslim women, competent, friendly and thorough.

You'd think paedophilia would not be legal in a country like that. And it isn't...for non-Muslims. For Muslims, however, it's fine, as long as the child's parents and some other man or other, from some religious department or other, says it's ok. (I wonder what training he has in recognising the physical and emotional well-being of a child. None, I'd say, judging from this article.)

Let's get one thing straight. A 23-year-old male school teacher* is an adult. A man.
A 14-year-old school girl is not an adult. She's not a woman, even if she has started her menses. She's still a child. She looks up to adults. Her religion and her culture tell her to obey her elders, especially her parents. She is gullible and vulnerable.

A 23 year old man who marries her - an educated man, not some illiterate fellow whose society is still steeped in the 19th century idea that children should be working at 12 and married at 14 - is purely and simply a paedophile.

And in this country, he can legally use a child for his sexual gratification. And parents who promote such a match are beyond comprehension.


From the paper:.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom was guest of honour.
"By getting married and starting a new life, these couples also contribute to reducing the many social problems out there," Jamil said. On the 14-year-old bride, Jamil said: "As long as the Syariah Court gave its consent, she is allowed to be married."

Friday, December 03, 2010

From shining sea to shining sea...

...across the world's third largest island.
Taking off from Lahad Datu, east coast of Sabah, Borneo
Mangroves, coastal protection and the nursery for so much sea life
The death of irreplaceable rainforest, the birth of monoculture oil palm and wealth and your soap
What was there before the oilpalm - rainforest and a remarkable biodiversity
Coming in to landing at Kota Kinabalu on the west coast

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

My favourite rainforest tree...

 The mighty emergent that towers higher than the rest, the tualang, the mengaris, Kompassia exelsa, that harbours the hanging nests of the wild bees, that supports itself with buttresses taller than a man standing on the shoulders of another man.

Found in Peninsula Malaysia and in Borneo.

So huge, so smooth, no photo does it justice.

Besides, these trees support the wonderful canopy walkway of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge.