Everyday Gratitude diary

A dear friend of mine creates the Everyday Gratitude diary, and the 2017 edition is now available…


… with illustrations that may not be unfamiliar to my readers.


Bec has posted more about the diary: It’s here! | Everyday Gratitude and it’s available to order now. Mine are in the post and I am looking forward to getting my hands on them (also I love the endpaper design, which is not by me).

Natcon Sketchbook – Conjecture 2009

As usual, if you want to see a larger version of a picture, click on it to go to its Flickr page, then click on “all sizes” above it.

A convention never seems like it’s over until it’s blogged. I have decided against a blow-by-blow account, mostly because I did not keep notes, but there are at least plenty of pictures, although as usual they are selected by the method of choosing what stood still long enough. So if you read this and are disappointed you are not in any of them, that is obviously because you were moving too fast.

Early Friday and south-east Queensland was covered with fog. I hoped it would lift and we would find ourselves in a Wyndham novel, but it was a very prosaic fog and the plane was only delayed by an hour.

Page 13

On the flight I amused myself creating small scenes of maritime tragedy on my fold-down tray. I think there are few English phrases more comforting than, “There is a whistle and a light for attracting attention”.

On arriving, I noted my knees were experiencing a wind chill factor, and checked into my possibly-haunted hotel. I had been worried that I would be lonely, in a nice hotel room all by myself, but then I realised this meant I could have all the hot showers I wanted to! I unpacked and felt very grown up, then went out for a milkshake.

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Before the convention, there were free tours of Haigh’s chocolate factory, with samples. As registration started, I caught up with lots of old and medium and new-ish and brand-new friends and did not draw anything until the next day but that does not mean nothing happened. The convention bags had tiny little matchboxes in them with real matches which actually worked (Kate Eltham tested them). Here are Peter M Ball and Karen Miller being mildy snarky at a panel on Urban Fantasy, which is a name for a moving-target of a genre. What I write is not urban fantasy anymore but no-one knows what it is. My characters do not wear low-slung leather trousers, but then that might be what’s missing.

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A rather heated steampunk panel, followed (I dimly recall) by lots of food and chocolate and talking and lacing of Emilly’s corset (corset-lacing forms a small but vital undercurrent of convention activities), and then the Maskobalo. I did in fact dance, but the lights were very bright and I was all in black, and also Sean Williams was DJing which meant I knew the words to most of the songs and therefore could dance to them and overheated and had to sit down. Catherine Scholz of the green dress, and Steve Scholz of the steampunk backpack were the fan guests of honour. Julie E. Czerneda was the international guest of honour but I did not get her in my sights long enough to draw.

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Conventions have a higher incidence of public knitting than almost anywhere else I know. Here is my costume (same as last weekend) and a sovereign remedy for the Perils Of Insisting On Authenticity, ie a gin martini. Most of the cleaning products in my hotel had exactly the same smell.

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We had the most awesome kids’ program, and almost everyone I spoke to wanted to go. They had marshmallow guns and pinatas and made ornithopters and TARDIS cookies. That is a TARDIS cookie at the top right. It had a little white marshmallow on it, but I ate that, and the icing was much bluer than this. The frightened looking object beneath it is a frog cake, which every South Australian says is an icon but none of them remember having eaten since they were 8 and I am not surprised. The top was very nice although it was a bit like eating frog-cake-brains because it is icing over mock-cream, but the cake underneath was just too sickly sweet.

I had coffee and lunch and dinner with lots of people (but not breakfast because my hotel had a pancake machine and I was not passing that up for any sort of society) but most of our time we spent in and around the bar, traumatising the bar staff and drinking far too much English Breakfast Tea.

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It was very sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end, but ends drag on and when I left Liz & Nigel’s room where we were having more tea after dinner, there were still plenty of people still sitting in the bar. I went back to my hotel and overheard some men asking to change rooms because of a creepy feeling, and then the hotel staff discussing other people who had asked to leave that room because of cold patches and vibrating beds, etc.

I stayed an extra day to see more of Adelaide than a foyer. Occasionally it rained and I would duck into a bookshop which, in retrospect, is possibly not as cost-effective as just buying an umbrella. I drew things and bought some patterned rubber rollers in a shop that recycles old building elements and wandered the streets on what I thought was a rather boring recommended walk, until I worked out that it was a busline and my instincts were correct.

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I bought chocolate and looked into arcades and went to the gallery again to see what it was like without the evil influence of Jason Fischer and Dirk Flinthart, but still all I could see in the renaissance paintings were saints with stigmata lasers. But it is a proper gallery, with high arched ceilings and green trim and very worth gold-lettered labels on the rooms and the museum had, as it ought, a room full of stuffed mammals which is always disconcerting. The best part was the Mawson exhibit, with real ice and a replica of the hut.

I had a wonderful time, and made new friends and caught up with old ones and talked until my voice went and drank a great deal of tea and ate too much and hardly slept and went for dinners with odd collections of people and formed the conclusion – as always happens at conventions in strange cities – that the city is populated mostly with people I know, and met artists and writers and raconteurs and bought too many books and wore my favourite shoes and wandered around a new city and can’t wait for the next one.

Vanuatu: Sketchbook

My poor maltreated Moleskine. It is held together with duct tape now (on the inside, so I can’t pass it off as industrial punk) and has been soggy and dirty and flecked with volcanic ash and had a near miss in the Port in Port Vila.

But it survived and the picture pages are scanned and up as a set on Flickr: Vanuatu 2008 Moleskine.

This sketchbook has fewer receipts and brochures and tickets than the American one (although there are one or two pages of receipts and boarding passes I didn’t scan in), and is better scanned and – in the drawings at least – more colourful due to my acquisition of more markers. My handbag was (is) full of markers (and pencils, erasers, sharpeners, gel pens, blending pencils, etc).

But next time I will carry the book in a ziplock bag. Just in case.


Now, so far I only have one question to answer about Vanuatu, and my answer is: no, to the best of my knowledge there are no longer cannibals in Vanuatu; that doesn’t stop the tourist trade trading on that piece of history; and from time to time startled linguists have been ‘discovered’ by anthropologists searching for cannibal tribes.

Any other questions?