Web stuff

So I finally got Scott’s new look blog up and running. What a hassle that was! I always think it will be just an hour or two. Hah! Try several days of hassles. Especially as there was a migration of his site to a new server. Why is it always so hard?

Anyways . . . It’s up and I think it looks great. Go take a squiz and tell me what you think. Though if you have any complaints tell Scott, not me!

All praise to Sadish Balasubramanian who designed the very nifty and flexible SeaShore template.

I was planning a redesign here to go with the new book but the very thought of going through that again makes my head explode. Plus deadline is not yet met.

Right then, back to work.

Oh and have a new poll.

Polls (Updated a lot)

So that I can better get to know what you, the reader, thinks, I have added a poll thingie to the sidebar.1

The first poll is about winter because I need to know if the total darkness before 5PM and constant cold and the only decent fruit & veg being apples and pumpkin is bumming out anyone other than me.2 Tell me I am not alone!

That it’s December and I’m still stuck in the Northern hemisphere fills my soul with despair.

Here have some more quokkas:

Lucky quokkas living far away in sunshine and warmth. Oh, how I envy them!

More sunshine & quokkas. Look what the peoples wear! Lucky, lucky bastards.

Okay, that didn’t make it warmer or lighter or less depressing here . . .

Update: I have just learned that creating a new poll instantly replaces the old one. I’d planned to leave the winter poll up for awhile but I done killed it. Thus there is a new poll, which I will not tinker with until next Sunday. This is my punishment for futzing about with the blog3 when I should be nosegrinding towards my deadline. I am bad.

Update 2: I don’t even know how I broke the poll this time. I am turning the internets off and stapling myself to the grindstone.

Update 3: Stupid poll software. I kick it.

  1. This was in no way a work avoidance measure. It is serious research! []
  2. I should be clear: it’s only Northern hemisphere winters I hate. Sydney winters are lovely. []
  3. I also added blog stats (Look! I done writed almost 250,000 words of posts! Fortunately that is still less than my published words. Phew!) and a tag cloud []

Minus One!

I dies.

I think I’m going to have to learn Fahrenheit cause 31 sounds lovely to me while -1 makes me want to cry.

I have not been outside today. Partly due to the dread evil deadlines and partly because it’s -1 out there! Bits of me could freeze and fall off!

How am I going to make it to the end of January?


Not home

I so wish I was back home right now. I’d get to follow the cricket and the election. It would be warm. The sun wouldn’t be setting just a few hours after it rose. No one would be asking me about my accent. People would know that Errol Flynn is Australian. I’m sick of being a foreignor. Back home I don’t have to explain myself nearly so often. I can’t tell you how tiring it gets.

If I was in Sydney right now I would go for a long walk. I’d hear flying foxes in the trees. I’d smell all the night flowering plants. I’d watch the light sparkling on the harbour. I’d be HOME. And I’d go to Forbes & Burton for breakfast. I miss you, Adrian! I miss all my friends and family back home.

Where do you wish you were right now?

In which I commence the cleaning of my desk

It has come to this. I have the final round of edits on the Fairy book. They are in manuscript form. However, there is no room on my desk to put the manuscript. The towering piles of crap cannot stand any further weight, not even one small piece of paper, definitely not 264 manuscript pages. I know because I tried and there was much toppling of crap to the floor. It is now dumped back on the desk.

The desk must be cleaned in order for me to work.

I am afraid of it. It is now more like an archaeological dig than mere cleaning. I fear what I might find: I did clean away all uneaten food, didn’t I? I fear what I won’t find: All those things I’ve been looking for and not found could be buried somewhere in those many layers. But what if they’re not?

And what am I going to do with the stuff on the desk that must be kept? It’s not like there’s anywhere else to put it.

The cleaning of my desk fills my heart with despair.

Perhaps I could work on the floor in the front room? Or on the kitchen table? Or at someone else’s kitchen table?

No. I must be brave. I must delve into those hidden depths and make them go away.

Wish me luck. Pray that I do not get buried alive in an avalanche of old catalogues and magazines and receipts and envelopes and wine labels and dead electronic bits and letters and business cards and books and pens that don’t work and postcards and head phones and empty water bottles and note books and hair clips and lens cloths and post-its and lip balm and all the stuff I can’t actually see. Or eaten by the cockroaches, rats and scorpions that may emerge from the bottom layer.

If I do not post again remember me kindly.

Post no. 755

Why is it often such a nightmare trying to come up with the right title? Why can’t I just call my next article “Article no. 25,” my next short story “Short Story no. 3,” and my next novel “Fourth Novel,” and the one after that “Fifth Novel”?

Don’t you think that has a ring to it? Sixth Novel by Justine Larbalestier.

Or, better still: Two Hundredth and Twenty Seventh Novel by Justine Larbalestier.

Or, how about: Just read it, already! by Justine Larbalestier.

Or, It’s a Book, Stupid. What did you think it was? by Justine Larbalestier.

Stupid titles. I kick them all.

What won’t you blog about?

A friend of mine, who doesn’t blog or read blogs, asked me why I blog. “Don’t you feel weird sharing your personal life with total strangers?”

Their question surprised me because I don’t blog about my personal life. This isn’t that kind of a blog. I explained that to my friend. They didn’t believe me. “You talk about your writing, don’t you? That’s personal.”

Um, no. Writing is my job.

“But what about when your writing’s not going well? Aren’t the bad times personal?”

First of all, I don’t blog about when the writing’s going really badly.

Second, when I blog about the harder aspects of writing I do so to let people know that the writing life is not as glamorous as people think.1 And to demonstrate that, yes, even people who make a living writing have days that are not so productive. It would be the same if I was an accountant blogging about a bad accounting day.2

My friend continues to see blogging as a weird self-revelatory public display that only exhibitionists would engage in. I was bummed that I couldn’t persuade them about the goodness of blogging, but our conversation did leave me thinking about all the stuff I and my blogging friends don’t blog about.

I never blog about

    when I’m unwell or depressed (though I do occasionally talk about homesickness)

    the state of my relationships with family and friends

    my family and friends (unless it’s to boast about their achievements)

    politics (except indirectly)

    religion (though I will argue about it on other people’s blogs)

    personal or family crises of any kind

    books by living people that I hated

    publishing gossip


So basically I don’t talk about stuff that is personal or that I think will start flame wars. I hate flame wars. I also avoid writing word counts (too boring), talking too much about works-in-progress (I’m superstitious), and whingeing when the writing’s going crappily (not only boring but irritating3). And bloggging about blogging is deeply lame. Ooops!

What about my fellow bloggers? What are your no-go areas?

  1. I cannot remember the last time I had a pina colada. And I’ve never had one served to me by a cabana boy or girl. []
  2. Are there accounting blogs? And if not why not? []
  3. Strangely, though, I really enjoy some other writers whingeing about their writing. Though they’re such fabulous writers they could write about accounting and make it riveting. Not that there’s anything wrong with accounting. Some of my best friends love accounting. Or they would if they did. []


Maureen Johnson ones again reveals the truth of what it is to be a writer:

Sitting plays a bigger role in writing than you would think. I mean, a lot of people say, “Oh yeah, I want to write a book one day.” And I smile and nod. Some of them will—but a lot of them can’t sit still for more than fifteen minutes if the TV isn’t on.

You have to sit like a champion when you write. Oh, you’re laughing. You think you can sit like a pro. But when it starts to all go rocky, when your characters don’t behave, when the wolf is at the door and the plot is starting to quake like a jello mold on a trampoline . . . . I defy you to keep sitting.

The sitting thing is why I rarely join my writer compadres in coffee shops. I’m only there if I absolutely have to get out of the house.1 My back is so destroyed by the whole sitting thing that I need an entirely ergonomic set up. I’ve got my ergie chair, my ergie desk, my ergie keyboard. All of it the right amount of heights and distances and blah blah blah. Even with all of that the end of every book I’ve ever written has seen me spending considerable time and money at the chiropractor’s. Oh joy.

Except this last book. I started going to the gym four times a week with a trainer—oh, yes, I’m now one of those wankers—and working mostly on my back and tummy muscles. Result: I finished a book without having to go into traction. I could achieve the same thing by swimming every day but there’s not a 50 metre pool within coo-ee. Buggered if I’ll swim in one of those annoying short course pools. Aargh. Yoga’s good too. But I’ve never found a yoga teacher as good as the one I had back in Sydney. Le sigh.

Anyways, writing = sitting. And sitting can get very bloody ouchy. I’ll never understand why people think being a writer is glamorous. Hah!

  1. So I don’t wind up climbing the walls and rending my hair with writerly frustration and madness. []

DragonCon Blues + Urban legends

The worst thing about DragonCon—other than the way too many people thing—is that it’s on the exact same weekend as the WNBA conference finals. I missed seeing Phoenix sweep San Antonio (woo hoo! Amy—sorry, Rebecca) and will miss all the Indiana-Detroit games (please Indiana win tonight!)

Seeing all those insanely brilliant costumes is some compensation I suppose. Riding on the train with Holly, Theo, Cassandra, Maureen and Scott ditto. Sitting around in a hotel room with them telling ghost stories also not too foul.

Which reminds me what are your favourite urban legends? Feel free to leave a link in the comments if you don’t feel like telling the whole thing. So far we’ve done the finger nails one, the hook, the headless roommate, the evil clown statue, and the finger licker.


The tomatoes right now are unspeakably good. I went to the Tompkins Square farmers’ market this morning and bought eight different kinds. Yum. They’re so sweet and flavouresome they don’t need dressing. Just salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime and you have the best tomato salad ever.

They also had the first cape goosberries (husk cherries) of the season. Heaven! And the fresh garlic keeps on. I think I’ll do a stir fry tonight of kale, lebanese cukes, garlic and onion. (All bought at the market.)

Even though I’m locked in working my arse off on the UFB and can’t remember the last time I talked to a real human being (other than Scott) I’m still eating well! Sometimes I think cooking is the only thing that keeps me sane.

An unanswerable question

Someone just wrote to ask me what to do when the writing is not going well. Fortunately, Diana Peterfreund has just written on this because I have no useful answer.

I suspect my own struggles with sentences that crumble as I type, with plot and character and meaning twisting out of my control, are at least partly because I’m very early on in my career. Old timers are much smarter about this stuff. Fer instance, my parents heard Thomas Kenneally interviewed the other day and he said that the writing got easier as he got older. After having written for more than forty years and having produced a bazillion gazillion novels (or, you know, thirty odd) he knows his own process and what to expect.

I don’t.

Not really. I’ve only written six novels and the writing of each one was different. I’ve been a freelancer writer for four years. I still have no idea how long it takes me to write a book. I can tell you how long the last one took, but not how long the next one will.

When you’re starting out you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what you’re capable of. When the crappy writing days hit you—it’s a shock and you don’t know how to handle them.

Even super disciplined writers, like my old man, have days of words dissolving into puddles of putrescence, when they can’t focuss, and can barely squeeze out five words let alone a thousand.

What he does is keep writing. That’s where the discipline comes in. The act of getting yourself into the chair and typing—even if the words you’re producing make William McGonagall look like a genius—can be enough to get you past the crap and into the good.

Or not.

Sometimes people just need a break.

And only the writer can figure out which it is.

Personally, I’m pretty much always convinced that I need a break. Preferably in a place where there’s plentiful cricket coverage (alas, poor England), the food is fabulous, and the wine even better.

Sadly, my deadlines say otherwise . . .


Apparently there are lots of people out there who hated Sunshine and think it the worst movie ever. I beg to differ.

While I don’t think it was anywhere near best-movie-ever-made status, there was a lot I enjoyed about it compared to your average sf movie, which as a genre I mostly hate. Seriously the amount of sf films I think are okay (in a non-camp way) is very very small. Sunshine gave me a mission to save the world without big long speeches about saving humanity, uniformly good acting, no boredom, plus it was pretty.

What I didn’t like were the standard annoying Hollywoodisms, like, and here come the spoilers, Continue reading

Email bankruptcy, or, attempting to cope

I am in crunch time. I am in crunchy crunch time. The busyness I have been complaining about has rebounded on itself and leapt to a whole new level of busy. In a word: Aaaarggghh!!!!

I’m going to keep blogging. I made a little bet with myself to see if I could blog every day of July and so far so good. I hate to lose bets with myself. Especially fun ones. Also blogging kind of clears my head. Dunno why but when I’m deep in writing, blogging really helps me to unwind—that and a glass of wine.

However, I’ll no longer be replying to comments as much as I have been (which I know has been down on what it used to be)—Sorry! The UFB has to be rewritten and that’s my top priority.

Then there’s the email problem. A while back John Green declared email bankruptcy. I think I may have to do the same. I have more than five hundred unanswered emails, which I know is nothing compared to Cory Doctorow who gets, like, two thousand a day, but, well, I ain’t coping. Important emails are getting lost in the shuffle. So I’m going to put them all in a folder to be dealt with after crunch time. I hope that if it was important folks will resend.

I’m very sorry for not replying. I suck.

So from now until I’ve finished the rewrites and made solid inroads into the new novel, I’ll be very bad about answering email and your comments here. And if I am responding to comments here in the next few months—that means I’m being an evil procrastinator and you have my full permission to hassle me about it.

Now I return to the UFB.

The Tour

Marrije asked over on insideadog if I’ll be following the Tour de France this year. Sadly, I will not.

This year has gotten out of control. I cannot afford to spend hours every day watching the Tour and following it online. I am incapable of following the Tour non-obsessively. So for the first time in years I’m not following it at all. (No spousal pressure was brought to bear in the making of this decision. Well, okay, just a little bit. I am not husband-beaten! I am not!)


The New York Liberty (10-8) will have to sustain my sport-following needs this northern summer.

And now I go back to the myriad tasks that confront me. At this point it’s so bad I’m resorting to triage. “Which of these tasks will most blow up in my face if I don’t do it?”

But, you know, Vive Le Tour!


I have a terrible memory. Especially for people. My memory for names is non-existent unless I’ve met that person many times. My face memory is a little better, but I struggle to place faces. If I see someone I’ve met several times at Young Adult Lit events in a totally different context I often cannot figure out who they are. But usuallly I don’t even recognise the face of the person beaming at me and saying, “Hi, Justine.”

Once the person I’m not remembering starts to recount how we met and describes the conversation I start to figure out who they are. But sometimes even that doesn’t help.

I know I am not alone in this. Almost every writer I know complains about it because we’re often in situations where we’re meeting someone who remembers us because we met at an event, which is a rarity for them, but common for us.

It’s not just a writer problem. Any profession where you’re likely to meet lots of people: retail, teaching, performing etc etc is going to run up against this problem.

I was horrible at remembering my students when I was an academic. To be honest I’ve always been bad at remembering stuff. I sucked at Memory games as a child. Still do.

How do politicians cope? I know Bill Clinton is famous for remembering every single person he’s ever met. But not all politicians are like that. How do they deal with so many different faces?

It could be worse. I know someone who has a condition which means they cannot remember faces. All faces look the same to them. Without name tags or someone prompting them they are lost. They are constantly giving offence.

So, I’m not that bad. And I’m better at faces than Scott is. Though sadly he’s about the same as me on names.

I have gotten better at simply asking the person to tell me how I know them. But often I’m too embarrassed. It feels rude.

Having a bad memory feels rude.

I really hate not remembering people. I know that I’m a wee bit miffed when people don’t remember me (which happens often) and yet here I am constantly doing it to everyone else. So much of the time I act like I know the person and keep the conversation going in the hopes that I can figure it out. Fortunately I usually can. Though there are the horrible moments when I decide they’re someone they’re not. Erk.

Seems to me that there’s only so much space in most (non-Bill Clinton) people’s heads for remembering. So the average person can at most remember, say, a thousand people. Once you meet more than that your brain starts deleting, or pushing them to a less easily accessed part of the hard drive. And creating trouble for you. Stupid brain.

I’m sure there are all these tricks for getting around the limited hard drive space. Hell, I know there are. Friends have taught them to me. But I keep forgetting to try them out.

How do you lot cope?

Yay! Aargh! Woohoo! Eep!

I have like a gazillion billion trakazillion emails in my inbox. This is the first chance I’ve had to go online in almost three days. It’s been crazy busy and exhilarating and fabulous and every big positive happy adjective you can think of.

San Antonio is wondrous. The Texas Library Association conference has been so extraordinarily wonderful I’m left without words. I’ve met so many amazing, fun, smart cool people I think my brain has exploded. Thank you everyone! Yay! Joy! Mangosteens! This trip has also been very educational: I know now how boots are made and have a much better idea of what distributors do.

Scott and mine’s presentation in front of what seemed like thousands of librarians, including Scott’s high school librarian, Darlene, was exhilarating. I’ve never had so much fun doing an appearance. Basically we just gasbagged about how we met, our books, writing, travelling, living in two countries, and answered lots of cool questions from the wonderful audience.

Then we signed what felt like a million books. I think I’m still floating.

To quickly answer two of your questions:

The beasts that shall not be named are evil. That is all you need to know. What do they need that horn for anyway?

Maureen is also evil and you should not do what she tells you to do.

Friday the thirteenth is excellent. Zombies love it. But yesterday’s was the best ever!

It’s snowing

What is wrong with this benighted country? It’s snowing! It’s April. Spring in this poxy hemisphere. It’s warmer back home in Sydney where it’s Autumn. I hates it! Snow!!! Aaaargghh!!!!!!

In other news John Green is silly with his friends over here. I knew they didn’t get any actual writing done when they got together. Now there’s proof.

I’m interviewed by E. Lockhart and reveal that I cannot write song lyrics.

And, um, it’s still snowing. I’m going back to bed. Wake me when the snow’s gone.