From Seed to Fruition – the Journey of an Idea

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Was I eligible to nominate works in any spec-fic community awards during 2011? How many?
  • Was I eligible to vote in any spec-fic awards during 2011? How many?
  • Did I?

Do your numbers add up?

As a community we get very attached to things – TV shows, magazines, characters, awards. And we can raise quite an uproar when those things are threatened.

We’ve seen this in the last few years with the closures of Realms of Fantasy. When it was announced in early 2009 there was an outcry that rippled across the internet, with people declaring it a shame and a tragedy. And a collective sigh of relief was breathed when there was a reprieve, only for the whole episode to repeat itself (twice) a short time later.

But the reality is, not everyone who mourned its death actually did something to further their support.

Yes they were sad, yes, they regretted it, but apart from that, what did they do? Undoubtedly some took out subscriptions, and others bought issues, but certainly not all did.

Quite a few years ago, I was on a voluntary committee that had about 20 members, but, as is often the case, 99% of the work was performed by the same four or five people. When those carrying the workload proposed changes, the other members cried about it, talking about tradition and how what we were doing meant so much to the community.

It’s easy to say you believe or support something. It’s harder to actually do something. Now, in the first instance, Realms of Fantasy really needed its supporters to put their money where their mouths were, in the second the active members were requiring the input of a chunk of time from their peers. But in the instance of awards, the ‘something’ you need to do is invest just a tiny amount of time, and it’s a shame that it isn’t done.

And that’s the kind of thing that is happening with our awards. At the AGM at Swancon this year, the suggestion was put forth to cancel the Tin Ducks, or at least to overhaul them, and people were horrified. Yet on closer question only one person on the room of around 30 had actually nominated anything. One. And it wasn’t me. All the people who were talking about the value of the TD’s, and none of them were contributing. And yes, I’m just as guilty, because I neither nominated nor voted.

I believe the Tin Ducks received 18 nominations this year. EIGHTEEN. Out of, well, a lot more than that. Several hundred eligible folk at least. That’s just sad. And it just shows where it rates in people’s priorities.

And it’s sad, because there were some amazing works produced last year, and while some of them made the ballot, I don’t doubt the ballot could have been far more competitive.

Now, for the record, I am not averse to putting the Ducks out of their misery, but I would prefer to see them revamped and something that a majority of the community participates in.

Last year there was huge drama after the Ditmars, and when the name calling ceased and the dust settled, the general consensus at the end of it was that we need more people to be involved in both nominating and voting.

What it seems to boil down to, is that people are happy to vocally support something, but when they have to actually do something, whether that’s financially, or by doing something, then it’s a little harder.

It’s a little bit like the people who complain about government decisions and actions and yet they haven’t voted. If you don’t vote, general consensus seems to be that you have no right to complain. I believe the same holds true for awards – if your sole interest in them is attending the ceremony, or reading the list of winners and congratulating them, then really, your opinion is kind of redundant.

It’s one thing to campaign and vocally support something, but your support needs to go beyond that. You need to be engaged. In the case of our awards, locally and even globally, all the claps in the world aren’t going to make our awards interesting, or something to be proud of. What validates them, what makes them worth of winning, is when community members offer their opinion. When eighteen people from the community choose, that’s not necessarily particularly representative, and it can in fact be easily skewed.

I am not trying to diminish anyone’s win here, I’m really not. I happen to think that some brilliant works were recognised. I do think though that something seriously needs to be done to save our awards. Now, I can’t speak for other states, I don’t have any idea what kind of percentages they pull for nominations and voting

In many instances, awards aren’t asking anything more from us than a small amount of time and some thought. Yes, we can buy supporting memberships to a con in order to vote, and I applaud those that can and do.

So if you’re eligible to nominate, if you’re eligible to vote, show that our awards mean something, that they are a reflection of works our community is proud of, and do so!

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Progress

Well “The Seed” is beginning to grow. It may not have broken the surface yet, but it’s getting close.

I’ve been elbow deep in planning the last few weeks, and things are moving along nicely. I’ve now got a name, a logo, and an almost complete project plan, and a very clear idea of what I’m doing and what I want to achieve.

In the next few weeks I am going to start actually meeting real people and entering initial negotiations. That’s when this is going to start getting very real!

We have a winner….

It’s been terribly remiss of me, but I meant to offer huge congratulations to the WFA winners, but particularly to Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press. It’s wonderful to see Alisa receiving international attention for all the work she puts into it TPP and the vision she has for it. And it’s recognition like this that validates the kudos she has received already.

Germination

I realise I’ve been pretty quiet here, but that’s partly because I have SO MUCH GOING ON! Not just with The Seed, but you know, life in general.

The first major milestone for my Five Year Plan was to produce a shiny, comprehensive project plan. When I first started putting together the ideas for The Seed, when it first looked like something I might possibly be able to do, I gave myself until the end of 2012 to finish The Plan. That’s only FOURTEEN MONTHS AWAY now! So, yeah, a little bit of heart palpitating when I realised that last week. And then realising that really, I am already about 15% into my time, well, that kind of gave me a kick up the pants. Five Years seemed like such a long time, but it’s already whittling away very quickly.

Anyway, it’s not that I’ve been procrastinating imagining it all in my head for the past six months or so. I have actually talked to people, and for the last few weeks I’ve been busy working away on the actual project plan for The Seed – building the skeleton and starting to get it fleshed out. This involves exploring various opportunities and pushing myself to think WAAAYYYY outside the square to produce something unique.

Something else that seems to have been a natural progression of the Five Year Plan and putting together the Project Plan, is that I now seem to have found myself with a potential TEN Year Plan. That’s suddenly becoming a rather large commitment, and maybe a touch intimidating, but what the hey – May as well Think Big.

One of the feelers I put out a few months ago to look at the viability of the business side of things chased me up yesterday to see how things were progressing, so it was a nice little boost to think that others can see the potential in what I would like to achieve.

My next step is finding a grants writing course that I can get to, or which online one will suit me, because A LOT of this is going to depend on being able to source all kinds of funding, and I hope obtaining grants is going to be a substantial chunk of it.

 

 

What book (and popular movie), do you think this cover is from? No peeking.

 

If you can’t guess, go over here and have a look.

Aurealis Awards

A huge congratulations to the Aurealis Awards winners.

It was fantastic to see not just the gathering of so many from the industry, but also the support shown by HarperVoyager.

It was fantastic to see Tansy Rayner Roberts‘s “Power and Majesty” follow up it’s Ditmar win with a win for “Best Fantasy Novel“. And I was especially glad that Thoraiya Dyer added to her Ditmar wins for “Best New Talent” and “Best Novella or Novellette” by being a joint winner for the “Fantasy Short Story” category for her story “Yowie”, published in Sprawl.

A group of us who were unable to attend the awards ceremony in Sydney held our own celebration cocktail party at the Universal Bar in Northbridge. I’m not quite sure what the barman thought of us as a social group, as we all stood around with our cocktails in one hand and our eyes glues to our iphones and ipads in the other, letting out whoops and cheers when announcements were made. However, the cocktails were delicious, and the food was yummy, and we enjoyed ourselves. Although it was seriously hard work getting through our bar tab – it never seemed to end! Which is not necessarily a bad thing!

The bar itself was great. Nice set up with an alfresco area, and a decent size screen for presentations. And how organised are these guys? The Ladies toilets even had a hair straightener in it. I’m impressed 🙂 It was a nice little function room, over all. I’m seriously considering returning there for future functions.

After the Awards presentation, we moved to the downstairs bar and continued chatting, and plotting. (I may have mentioned The Seed once or twice.) At one point we were joined by a roaming Bucks Night, containing, among others PRK and Strangedave, and this may have led to an informal WASFF meeting, or at least a bouncing of many ideas.

So all in all, a pretty good success. Seriously thinking of doing it again next year. And I may do another cocktail night as a fandom social event later in the year.

Once upon a time I was a prolific reader. You know, back when I didn’t work, and didn’t have children, and didn’t have the internet.

Growing up I would read about six novels a week. And that was on top of all the reading I did for research and study. By the time I graduated from my primary and high schools, I was hard pressed to find a shelf in the fiction section of the libraries that didn’t contain a dozen books that I had read. The desire to read was strong. There was hardly a moment that I didn’t have a book, or two, close to hand. I would read while eating breakfast. I would read while watching TV. I read on the bus, and in the back of class, and all during recess and lunch. I would read under my covers at night, but I didn’t have anything as fancy as a torch. At one point my illumination came from the light of my digital watch, later, I would use my brother’s calculator – it had green illuminated numbers and I would press 88888888 and put the memory on, for maximum light. (Maths was never a strong point, otherwise I might have tried to get the (E)rror and the negative sign happening as well.) But somewhere along the way that changed.

I went from reading six novels a week, to taking six weeks to read a novel. But even picking up a novel became a challenge. I think reading now has become such an investment for me, that I want to be fairly certain of a book before I commit to it. I find it very hard to not finish a book, even if I don’t like it. Even if it is taking me six weeks to read. Once I’ve started, the completist in me wants me to finish. So for me to pick up a book and read it is a Big Deal (TM). It doesn’t mean I don’t *want* to read. I do. And I have a fluctuating pile of ‘TO READ’ books. The pile changes in size as I reassess what’s on it, and how much I *really* want to read it, but there are a number of items that have been sitting looking at me recently.

Of course, we finished Swancon a few weeks ago, and a con will always bring fresh books into the library. (Particularly when you have an awesome Con Bag like we had this year. Books! OMG so many books!)

The news, of course, is that today I read a book. It was Nightsiders, by Sue Isle. I started it last night, didn’t have the chance to read it today, but I finished it tonight.

The cover of Nightsiders - Published by Twelfth Planet Press

It’s the first in the Twelve Planets series, produced by Twelfth Planet Press. Now I’m not going to hide the fact that Alisa is a good friend of mine, but that’s not what attracted me to this book. For me, the great thing about this book is that it’s four short stories, this makes it easily readable in a short time. But it also encourages me to continue reading, because I know that the end isn’t too far off. Each story stands on its own, but they belong as neighbours. They’re set in the same universe, the same locale. Each of the four stories is told by a different character, and explores a different aspect of life in this world.

Sue Isle takes us into a believable future-Perth, one where climate change has ravaged the world and the infrastructure of Perth is virtually non-existent. In what is a plausible extrapolation, the remaining residents of the city have adapted to their circumstances. The majority sleep during the day, and move about at night – Perth has become the ‘Nightside’.

I acknowledge that part of the enjoyment in reading this book was following the clues that Isle leaves as she explores Perth. Being able to know exactly which buildings the characters were living in was. But I also found the stories themselves engaging. I found the effects of climate change believable. When Western Australia is being told now to rethink its use of the word drought, to change it’s mindset that we are not in drought but that this is our new climate, and at the same time the Eastern States of Australia are having huge unprecedented rains, this is the world Isle has built on.