Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category

On Hiatus, Sort Of.

So, I don’t know if y’all have noticed, but I really haven’t been posting as much recently. First it was just a Thursdays in Black post missed out here and there. Then Teaser Tuesday became tricker to keep up with. Then Sunday Spotlight, and now the Monday Poem. I’m not even reading that much anymore, either. So I’ve decided to put the blog on hiatus until the end of October. I’ll still be posting my New Beginnings Wednesday updates, and I want to write up my experiences at Au Contraire before I forget the important parts, so I’m not going to fade away completely. However, I have some important deadlines coming up and I just can’t take the time to give Black Sheep the attention it deserves until my essays, projects and exam (eek!) are out of the way.

But do not despair! I will let you in on a secret: when I come back, I’ll have the new site up and running. New look, new url, and all new content. I’m also working on some ideas for ways I can get more involved in social justice projects, perhaps even hosting some myself, so if you can think of anything you think I should look into then please drop me a line. I will be blogging through NaNo as a co-ML this year too, so that’s something to look forward to.

Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side!


Sunday Spotlight: Beware Bloggers Bearing Gifts!

I’ve been a pretty bad blogger this week – no new content since Wednesday! What’s up with that? Well, the reason I haven’t been blogging is twofold:

(i) I’ve been busy, away at the Au Contraire Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Wellington this weekend.

(ii) Because of this, I’ve been staying in a hotel and thus have had pretty minimal internet access for, like, EVER. Okay, so it was only two days. Shut up. Two days is forever when you’re as addicted to the ‘net as I am. Do you know how hard it is to navigate Opera on an ancient cell phone? This is what I was reduced to! It was terrible!

I had a great time at the Con and learned a great deal, although unfortunately I was sick on the third day (today) and decided to head home early, which meant I missed out on some great stuff and some great people. However! I have the internet again! Which has at least cured me of my withdrawal symptoms. And I still have a whole load of fantastic experiences to share with you guys which I’ll be writing up and posting over the next week or so. The first of which is today. For this week’s Sunday Spotlight, let me share with you some of the amazing people and pages I’ve encountered over the past couple of days.

  1. Introducing SpecFicNZ! I’ve talked about this before, I think, but now it has officially launched: NZ’s go-to organisation for Speculative Fiction. If you read, write, publish or are otherwise involved in the production of fantasy, sci-fi, horror and anything in-between, then do join up! Membership is pretty cheap and the organisation sounds like it’s going to be fantastic once it gets off the ground. Plus, I was at the launch and met some of those who have put it together (maybe this makes me a little biased, but this is my blog, so deal with it) and they are all very dedicated and creative people with some awesome ideas and I want to help them work towards the fulfillment of those ideas as much as I can.
  2. Nicholas Chrustowski’s blog, Storyteller. I met Nick at the Convention (hi!) and learned that he had self published his own anthology of short stories called Dreams and Nightmares, which has since been nominated for the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work 2010. The Sir Julius Vogels have been voted on and will be awarded tonight at Au Contraire, so good luck, Nick! Stop by and check out what he has to say about writing.
  3. Russell Kirkpatrick’s site. Technically, I was never introduced to Mr. Kirkpatrick, but I attended his seminar on Worldbuilding and it was one of the highlights of the convention. FYI, Mr. Kirkpatrick, if you ever read this: I was the one who made the comment about fairytales having a certain loose rule structure. I had a great time and learned heaps, thank you! Ahem. So, anyway. I will be posting more about that later, but in the meantime, check out some of his fantasy novels on his website!
  4. Juliet Marillier’s site. Again, I attended Ms.(?) Marillier’s writing workshop (this one on Voice) rather than talk to her much in person, but I enjoyed that a great deal too. Check out what she’s been writing and if you can catch her at WorldCon later in the year, I highly recommend it!
  5. Last but not least, Writer Unboxed, a gorgeous site about writers and writing to which Juliet Marillier contributes (and through whom I obtained the link). Another blog for the favourites list!

Anyway, I had such fun and I’m sad it’s over, particularly as I didn’t get to see the grand finale. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy exploring these links as much as I enjoyed meeting the people and finding out about them.

The Times, They are A-Changing…

Well, okay, maybe not so much the times as this blog, but the title still stands. Inspired by yesterday’s #bblog chat about defining one’s niche and brand as a blogger, I’ve decided to let you all in on a little secret I’ve been keeping under my hat for the past month or so: I’m moving my blog!

This isn’t going to happen all at once – in fact, I expect it to take a few months, if not more – but I’m quite excited about this project and will be keeping you all up to date about my progress. I’m kind of sad to start shaking things up, since I’ve only been blogging 6 months and feel like I’m just getting to know you all – I don’t want people to be lost in the shuffle! But the fact remains that I didn’t actually plan for this to be a Book Blog. It just kind of happened that way. And now that things are growing, and I’ve proven to myself that I can stick with something as time-consuming as a blog for more than a few weeks, I thought it was time to make some changes so that this blog looks and feels the way I want it to. Better now, when things are still fairly new, than when I’m more firmly entrenched, I reckon!

So! That’s my secret! New name, new address, new look: it’s all coming soon.


NZ and Australian Book Bloggers Network

(courtesy of WritersBlockNZ)

So, the other day I was discussing the merits of Elizabeth Knox’s work with some other fans on Twitter, when one of them happened to suggest that a Kiwi Book Blogging club would be a nice thing to have. A lot of us feel a bit swamped by all the American blogs out there – it’s always nice to talk to people from the same part of the world. The idea stuck with me, and I got to thinking…wouldn’t that be awesome? We could even have a convention sometime, if there were enough of us, and entice authors here from overseas…

Thus, Books Down Under was born. I decided to include Aussies as well, because I imagine y’all feel somewhat isolated too. So! If you’re a literary blogger who lives in NZ or Australia (even if you weren’t born there), or you’re an ex-pat living overseas who wants to stay in touch, go and join up! Don’t forget to add our shiny new button to your site and link up. I’m still working on the layout and graphics at the moment, but it’s functional otherwise. I’d love to hear your ideas and opinions.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: September 13-17th 2010

Registration Post

I recently heard about Book Blogger Appreciation Week through another reader whose blog I frequent, and I have to admit, I didn’t pay much attention at first. I’m kind of a fringe-dweller at the moment, not being quite an official Book Blogger as it were, so I figured it wouldn’t really be of much interest or benefit to me.

But then I got to thinking. And I thought: firstly, nobody said you have to be a certain way. All you have to do to be eligible to get involved is blog about books! Which I’ve been doing for going on six months now. And it looks like a great way to meet other bloggers and find some fantastic new blogs. So I thought I’d register anyway. Fellow book bloggers who would like more information about BBAW will find the button above links to the site directly. Those following the link from the BBAW website will find the links below as requested. Enjoy!

Best Eclectic Book Blog

  1. REVIEW: “The Vintner’s Luck” by Elizabeth Knox
  2. REVIEW: “What Happened to Lani Garver” by Carol Plum-Ucci
  3. REVIEW: “Maus” by Art Spiegelman
  4. Monday Poem: “i carry your heart with me” by e. e. cummings
  5. Thursdays in Black: Learn as You Combat Hunger and Poverty

Best Written Book Blog

  1. REVIEW: “Child of My Right Hand” by Eric Goodman
  2. REVIEW: “Thinking Straight” by Robin Reardon
  3. REVIEW: “The Vintner’s Luck” by Elizabeth Knox
  4. True Confessions!: “I was a Teenage Book Collector.”
  5. Writing Reflections: My Shoes are too Small, My Head is too Big

Best New Book Blog

  1. REVIEW: “What Happened to Lani Garver” by Carol Plum-Ucci
  2. REVIEW: “The Vintner’s Luck” by Elizabeth Knox
  3. REVIEW: “Religulous” (film) with Bill Maher
  4. True Confessions!: “I was a Teenage Book Collector.”
  5. Writing Reflections: My Shoes are too Small, My Head is too Big

True Confessions!: “I was a Teenage Book Collector.”

Guess what I just got in the mail? Never mind – you can’t guess. I’ll have to show you some photos instead:

That’s right! A shiny new copy of The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Not just any copy, either. It’s a numbered, signed, 10th anniversary special edition hardcover. With special wine-red bookmark and everything!

Have I mentioned that I’m a reformed book collector? No? Wow, I can’t believe that slipped my mind. Back in the day (by which I mean about four or five years ago), I was obsessed with collecting books – in particular, the Biggles series by Captain W. E. Johns. In between writing my first novel drafts and tearing my hair out over undergraduate essays, I spent a fair amount of money and a great deal of time acquiring a number of beautiful first editions. The anticipation of the hunt! The thrill of the bargain! The sheer, gloating pride that comes from holding a beloved, 50+ year old book in your hands! I was addicted. It was terrible.

My parents encouraged my obsession, probaly because they were happy I was so involved in something that was not either sex, drugs or alcohol, as the rest of the student population undoubtedly was (at least, if you believe the news). I spent my free time either selling those copies I no longer wanted or needed to other collectors, book shops and young fans, or hunting down my next conquest. I was actually pretty good at remembering all the minutiae, like what made a true first edition (as opposed to a first thus) and the different illustrators, cover designs, logos and so on. I could sling around terms like “foxing” and “FFEP” (front free end paper) like nobody’s business. In fact, I still have about 65% of the series in storage – and just to give you an idea of how many books that is, I think there are something like 98 books in total. I also have duplicate copies, ephemera, and various miscellany related to the series that I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to part with. What can I say? I’m also a pack rat, in the worst way.

What was it that drew me to collecting? I’m not entirely sure, but I think it has something to do with the fact that nobody ever gave me books. This has always baffled me. I am a consummate book lover. I have been since before I could read. And yet, in my entire life I can only recall ever being given books once. And guess what books they were? That’s right. Biggles books. Aside from that, though, I think it’s the fact that I love old things and I love books, so old books are just like heaven to me. The way they feel, the way they smell, the bindings, the illustrations, the inscriptions, the covers…all of it so different from the way books are now. There is something about reading some Aunt’s birthday greeting to a beloved nephew from 1953 that sends chills down the spine. It’s like holding a piece of history.

Eventually, of course, the fever eased, and what with graduating and writing (and being somewhat broke) I eventually weaned myself off the whole collecting addiction and moved on to other things. Like blogging. However, every so often, I come across something that I simply cannot resist – like a numbered, signed, 10th anniversary special edition hardcover of my Favourite Book Ever. I came across it by accident online and the old collector’s fire took hold of my brain all over again. Just call it a (slightly belated) birthday present to myself.

At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.