December 1st, 2008



Am tired today. Had trouble falling asleep. And then someone's house alarm went off at 5.30 this morning. And I was so sleepy that I got up twice to check it wasn't mine and it totally wasn't loud enough to be mine - mine drowns out your own thoughts it's so loud. I was just glad that the puppy wasn't sleeping over cause that would have unsettled her.

My sister and her husband gave me a lovely bar of soap and a lemon sorbet lip balm to thank me for puppy sitting. I thought that was really sweet. Poor lil thing slept all evening after she went home. My mum and dad had brought their dog over twice yesterday so she must have been very worn out. And we did some weeding - for some reason she really likes weeding. How would she even know that?

And somehow it's Monday again. And we are back on the LSS roadtrain cause short story publishing stops for no man.

And it's 24 days to Christmas. You see that?! 24 days. A month ago I drafted my christmas cards list (seasons greetings, peace on earth all those non denominational yay-its-the-end-of-the-year ones) and I even bought cards. I've written a total of one.

And 22 days left of my working year. Wow. So little time so much still to do.


Of Twelfth Planet Press

Well it really is the ending of the year with all the rounding up of fiction, isn't it? Mirrordanse's Years Best of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 4 which covers 2007 material is up on their website.

We are very proud that Lucy Sussex's "Mist and Murder" from New Ceres Issue 2, winner of the Julius Vogel short story award, was reprinted. So too are we proud that Trent Jamieson's story "Cracks" from Shiny Issue 2 was reprinted and is described as "new weird" in the introduction.

The introduction mentions both Shiny and New Ceres:
Of the local e-zines, the new young adult e-zine, Shiny, was the most consistent, producing two strong issues, with standout stories by Sue Isle and Trent Jamieson. The same team at Twelfth Planet Press produced a single strong issue of New Ceres.

(I didn't send Bill the third issue in time because it didn't feature any Australian writers. I didn't realise till Conflux that he was actually a fan of the zine and corrected the matter promptly. There were three issues in 2007 and will be two in 2008.)

Also receiving recommendations in the reading list were:
Stephen Dedman's "Sufficiently Advanced", New Ceres Issue 2
Cat Sparks' "The Bride Price", New Ceres Issue 2
Sue Isle's "The Sun People", Shiny Issue 1

A good year for Twelfth Planet Press. But asides from that, it's a really great table of contents. Volume 4 gives a very strong and exciting overview of 2007 in Australian fiction. It's well worth a read.

In Memoriam

I am blogging this email that was forwarded to me in memory of the Holzbergs.

For Gabi and Rivki: In Blessed Memory (Z”L)

Just minutes ago I heard the terrible news that 5 Israeli hostages were found dead inside the Chabad centre at Nariman house in Mumbai. Although the media hasn’t officially confirmed their identities yet, it seems quite certain that they are Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka, an Israeli couple, and another Israeli.

After having been glued to the news for two days straight, relentlessly combing through twitter updates, news reports, and blogs, I am totally exhausted, yet feel compelled to write something about these great people I knew.

I lived in Mumbai for 6 months last year, and would go to the Beit Chabad with friends for a Shabbat meal about every second week. Over the course of 6 months, we got to know the Rabbi and his wife quite well.

They were wonderful people; warm, inviting and engaging. Gabi would get visibly excited to have so many guests for Shabbat, you could tell it really made his week. He would have a grin on his face almost the entire meal, including during his Dvar Torah. He was always so eager to create a communal feeling that he insisted everyone go around the table and say a few words to the group, giving guests 4 options: either delivering a Dvar Torah, relating an inspirational story, declaring to take on a mitzvah, or leading a song.

As most of the guests were Israeli backpackers and other passers-through, they might have found this quite novel. For us regulars, it was just Gabi’s shtick. I can still hear him reciting those 4 options to the group now, as if he had discovered some miraculous way to make everyone involved in the Shabbat with no escape, impressed by his own genius week in and out. He had a devilish smile, you could really see the child still in him, just beneath the surface.

Gabi was also exceptionally thoughtful. Though most of the guests were Israeli, Gabi would give his Dvar Torah in English for the sake of the few of us English-speakers there with sketchy Hebrew, so we’d understand. Sometimes he spoke line by line first in English, then Hebrew. Gabi would start discussions and made it his personal mission to get everyone talking, to make a group of disconnected Jews feel like a family. It worked. That was Gabi.

Rivki was a certified sweetheart. She’d generally sit apart from Gabi, to spread herself out, and usually sat with the girls. She too relished Friday night dinners—I think she needed her weekly female bonding time. She’d talk to the girls about the challenges of keeping kosher in India, and share exciting new finds at the market together. You could tell she was far from home, in this dense Mumbai jungle, but she was tough and really made the best of it. She would balance Gabi’s presence, occasionally making comments to people at her table while Gabi was speaking. Not as a sign of disrespect, but to keep the people around her having a good time, perhaps in the same way a youth group counsellor would, when the kids were bored by another counsellor. That was Rivki. Brave, fun-loving, and super sweet.

Perhaps the greatest testament to their character was simply the fact that they lived in downtown Mumbai for years on end. Having lived there for just 6 months, I understand how incredibly taxing just existing in the city is. Even when trying to relax, the city still seems to suck the life out of you. Living as Westerners in modest conditions in the thick of Mumbai, with the restrictions of kashrut and Shabbat, is certainly no small feat.

I’m not sure if they were thrilled with their placement in Mumbai, but they certainly made a good go of it. They were only a few years older than me, in their late 20s, and despite being far from friends and family and perhaps not in the most exciting Chabad placement (compared to Bangkok or Bondi), they kept positive and built a beautiful bastion of Jewey goodness. They chose a life that demonstrated such altruism and care, in the truest sense. The Mumbai Chabad really made a difference to my time in India, and made me feel that much more at home in such a foreign country.

It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I met Joseph Telushkin, the famous Jewish author. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I randomly bumped into friends of friends from back home. It was to Gabi and Rivki’s where we brought our non-Jewish Indian friends who became curious in Judaism. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where a girl I would later fall for first developed feelings for me, when I brought her some water while she lay sick on the sofa from Indian food poisoning. She was being nursed by Rivki.

Gabi and Rivki were real for me. We often hear about tragedies in distant, disconnected places, and feel frustratingly estranged from them. We want to connect, but cant; we feel as though in a different world. And mere numbers, names and images don’t amass to much. I hope I’ve been able to paint a small picture of two of the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed over 150 lives in total and left hundreds injured.

I know they would have been brave through the whole ordeal. Though unconfirmed, it is likely they would have been murdered right as Shabbat was coming in. I feel that this would have provided them with comfort, knowing that they departed this world in a time of peace. I also know the knowledge that their 2-year old son Moishe managed to escape in the arms of his nanny would have provided them with great comfort in their final hours. When I would look at the young Moishe I would see Gabi’s face, and Rivki’s care-free spirit.

Chabad lost two soldiers today, emissaries and keepers of the Jewish people. Let us honour their work and their lives in our prayers, in our thoughts, and in our deeds, and let us pray for the families of the dozens of other victims of these attacks. May all souls rest in peace, and may we see an end to violence in our time.

Benjamin Holzman

Note from me:
Please feel free to ask for translation or explanation of words above.


Other side of LSS reading

Ugh. I SO do not want to be doing that big reading thing at the end of 2009. I've done it for what? 3 years in a row now? It sucks so bad.

On the upside as we have been hinting at all over the place, we've shaken things up a bit at LSS and I think these changes should reenergise us and get things happenin'!! I hate sitting on exciting news!!! More on that in the next few days. We want to finish blogging 2008 first. But I think for me that's going to really force encourage me to read a lot more consistently through the year. Which has it's own pros and cons but mostly means less brokenated brain at the end of the year. Also, we'd be looking to finish up by Nov 1 with jonathanstrahan.

Which makes this an important place to say that publishing post a certain date in the year has its cons - you tend to miss the reading periods of years bests, review outlets and there is apparently a general lull, in small press at least, over the holiday period. So if you are intending to publish works late 2009, please consider forwarding the closest version to finished as you can to the LSS crew and/or jonathanstrahan as early as possible. It makes things *much* easier.

And that segues into a correction I need to make to the SF Novels category post for the Rock the Ditmar post last Friday. There's mismatches between the AA and the Ditmar cutoff periods due to the nature of each beast. And so I am removing Sean William's Cenotaxis from the eligibles list for novellas as it was considered by the Ditmars last year and was in fact on the short list because we included it in the Ditmar voting package. Isn't it good to start early!!

In other news, my inbox is back to overflowing again. It's at the 130 mark which is double where I like to be. Responses are sluggish but I am trying to get on top of it. But things snuck in over the weekend whilst I was head down in LSS work. Interesting things.


The awesome thing about being alive is the people who come into your life - some friends only pass through, some stay awhile, some stay for life. But every single one changes you. And I also think it's funny how coincidental life can be ... almost like it's trying to teach you a lesson.

Someone just did something for me that I consider one of the most important things about friendship - quietly and gently took me aside and pointed out that I had done something that I must surely think I shouldn't and suggested how I could fix it. And when I realised and agreed and thanked this person, the reply was: I thought that was the case.

And the lesson in this for me, in light of recent dramah, is - people see you for who you are and one action is just one action, it doesn't define your whole. And ... I need to work on the subtle, quietly and gently thing.

Thank you. You know who you are.


argh time!!!

How is it 1045 already? I seriously only just finished dinner. Where the hell did the time go? It's speeding up right? It's not just me, yeah?

I finished work at 5. Sat in the car talking to J till halfpast. Went past the post office ang got talking there till just after 6. Popped past my mum's to discuss a couple of things. Was welcomed with "Thank Gpd! You got the telepathic message! Was hoping you'd pop in and give me a break!" I heard the tinkle tinkle of dog collar and looked down: "You again!" and the puppy was there as well as the other dog (my family is weird with dogs ok? My parents share a dog with my grandmother). So I had to puppy wrangle til my sister came back from the dentist (root canal! Poor thing!). Got home at 7.30ish. Sorted some ASif! stuff and then showered. Dinner! And it was 8.15. But how it got to be now, I don't know.

Had an awesome yoga class today. Very mellow with a 25 minute meditation to start with. Then lots of cool poses and in one, the instructor came and pushed me and I totally got my chest to lie on my thighs! Been working on that all year! So cool!

That's all. That and I brought home the frog CD so I can learn how to listen for South West WA frogs. I hate frogs but I am curious and it gets noisy at my house in the night and I wanna know which frogs they are!