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The interview was on the ABC radio program Overnights, about my book Crime Time: Australians Behaving Badly. I have to take my hat off to those folk who do this nearly every night and act as if it's the middle of the day! They're amazing. That's both the presenter, Trevor Chappell(no, not the cricketer!) and the producers.

Was it worth getting up in the small hours on a weekday? You bet! And I had already told my daily organiser at school that I was going to go back to bed and sleep in. She was fine with that - I have plenty of leave and I don't have classes on Monday anyhow. She even wondered why I was coming in at all, but I have things that need to be done. which can't be done at home.

So, what was it all about? My lovely publisher Paul Collins arranged it. He did an interview about something else a couple of weeks ago(his own version of Henry Lawson's dog-themed stories). They asked him if he could recommend someone else and he recommended me. Which goes to show how right I am to believe you will always get more support from small press than large.

He sent them a copy of my book(which I think they will be giving away to a listener who rang to ask how to get a copy for their children) and I really believe it was read, or at least skimmed.

Then I heard from a producer who said they were interested in doing the interview this morning. She suggested I focus on the Batavia story and the nineteenth century stories, which I did, and made voluminous notes, just in case. You never know, and it has been a while since I wrote this.

So, I got up at 3.30 a.m to make sure I was awake enough to be able to answer questions. I put on the kettle for honey and lemon - I've been sick recently and still have a hacking cough, which I hoped a hot honey and lemon drink might soothe, at least during the interview.

I kept a copy of the book beside me just in case... and sure enough, some questions were about later chapters, but no big deal.

There were questions about the stories themselves and about how you go about choosing stories for a children's book on this subject and how much you have to leave out - and I had no problem with those. Mr Chappell seemed to get it that this is storytelling as much as fiction, and we discussed that too.

To my delight, one of the talkback listeners referred to a story about "an elderly woman, I don't remember her name, who poisoned her family..." which gave me the excuse to talk about Caroline Grills and how I'd once met a member of the prison staff of the time, who called her "such a sweet woman!" despite knowing exactly what she had done. And about how I had once told a bunch of kids too young for the book about "the very naughty nana... I bet your nana wouldn't do that!"

Really, this was such a good promotion, and the presenter was pleasant and relaxed and chuckled a lot at the colourful characters in my book.

I am very happy to have done it. If you're interested in hearing it, here is the link:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/crime-time-australian-true-crime-for-kids/8629676
I don't know if it will work outside Australia, but give it a go. I'm going to download it from iTunes and save it to my computer.


And here's the Ford Street website!

http://www.fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/index.php/ford-street-titles/books


Have a great day, readers!
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The last two days I have attended Continuum 13, the annual Melbourne convention, which was also the Natcon this year. Unfortunately, I had to miss about half of it due to family commitments, but at least I can say I have been to all of them.

Interestingly, there was one panel with a friend whom I haven't seen at a convention in quite some time, because he is strictly a media fan and objects to the other kind of cons because they don't have actors as guests. I tell him till I'm blue in the face that actors cost money, much more money than the average con committee can raise nowadays. They used to manage, years ago, but it was a different world then. Let's face it, the actors now go to events like Supanova and the expo that used to be called Armageddon, where the entrance fee is in the double digits, not the triple, as is the average fan-run convention. The fannish cons simply can't compete. As it is, they have to raise the money to pay for the air fares, accommodation and entertainment of a writer, without also having to pay an appearance fee. (I should add, I don't blame the actors for their appearance fees; it's the way they make a living, it's just another gig, and if they accept your invitation to a convention, they can't accept another gig, like a film or a TV show. It's just that we can't afford them).

So I was very surprised to see him there. I must ask him for details when we next meet on Thursday, at a mutual friend's retirement celebration. I did go to his panel, which was "Queering science fiction", about the obvious. I didn't really enjoy it - there was rather too much complaint about not being represented, which would be fair enough, except it was from people who had just told us that there have been queers in space opera since the beginning. And there was the person(gender-fluid) who complained because poor Ivan, in Lois McMaster Bujold's A Civil Campaign didn't throw himself into the arms of the now-male Lord Dono(formerly Lady Donna) on his return from Beta Colony after a sex change. Well, why would he? Number 1, he's totally hetero; the woman he had an affair with is no longer available, but after his initial shock he helps Dono with his campaign to become Count, something he couldn't have done as a woman. Number 2, Lord Dono is not upset; he thinks it's hilarious, and Number 3, doesn't actually WANT Ivan to continue the relationship. He has other plans. Being a woman on the male-dominated Barrayar is no fun, and by the time Lady Donna left it, she was fed up with dealing with men. She became one without regret, though. Of course, then the panellist might have complained because Lord Dono is now a hetero male, but that would be another matter. The way it was decribed was, "Someone he(Ivan) had lusted after and..." Wrong. He had had an affair with her; she had been his sexual mentor. There's a difference.

There was a mention of the Trill from Star Trek and the assumption made that they take over the bodies of their hosts and squash the personalities. In fact, in Deep Space Nine, it was explained that far from being parasites, they were symbionts, who more or less had to beat off applicants with a stick.The successful ones got access to the memories and skills of all the previous hosts, as I recall, in return for the use of their bodies. In one episode, Jadzia was challenged by an unsuccessful applicant, who got her symbiont off her, and she was not at all happy!

My friend said afterwards that the panel hadn't turned out quite the way he had in mind.

Likewise, there was a lot of whingeing from a panel called "The Forgotten Mothers Of Science Fiction". Thing is, many of the women mentioned, such as Diana Wynne Jones and Andre Norton, are far from forgotten - and their works are still in print. I had read nearly all of the women whose works are supposedly forgotten. It may be because I'm older.

I did see the point about Grania Davis, whose work needs hunting up, and who is only remembered as the wife of Avram Davidson. And I did enjoy the panel despite the complaining about something that really isn't true, IMO. The subject matter, about women in SF, was interesting to me. Mind you, I was surprised that an urban fantasy writer like Seanan McGuire mentioned YA fantasy without mentioning Melissa Marr, whose urban fantasy stories with fairies(or, rather Faeries), the Wicked Lovely series, were based on a lot of research and traditional stories, by a PhD university academic - they were very popular in my library at one stage. But I guess she can't read everything. None of us can.

I was disappointed with the panel on fan fiction, which was run by four young things who were probably not born before the Internet and certainly would never have seen a printed media fanzine. I should have gone to the panel on "Humans are special." But I had such fond memories of fan fiction back in the days when I was writing it - I wrote about 150 fan stories!

My favourite panels for the con were "Kid Stuff" (on books that had inspired some authors on the panel, including the delightful Michael Pryor) and the one on filking, plus I thought Seanan McGuire's GoH speech was delightful. Also, the one on fairy tales and the Dr Who panel, the only one that had a chance for audience to interact - no, the filking one did too, now I think of it.

Anyway, I had a good time in general and met up with some friends I hadn't seen in some time.
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Today, I learned a new word. It was written up on the whiteboard of a classroom where I had taken my EAL class, as "word of the day". The word was "ultracrepidarian." Of course, I had to Google it.

I have quite a good vocabulary, but that one was new to me, and I'd love to know which teacher wrote it.

It sounds like a long, over-the-top word, but the meaning is such an everyday one, concerning something we all have feelings about. It means "shooting your mouth off about a subject you haven't a clue about." Apparently, it was first used in about 1817, to have a go at a literary critic. It came from a couple of Latin words referring to a shoemaker who had the nerve to criticise, as it happened, a famous painter for getting a foot painted wrong. You know - "Cobbler, stick to your last." Personally, I'd think someone who had to make sure shoes fitted a real human foot would know enough to be able to say, "Hey, that foot is all wrong!" But what do I know? Maybe the artist actually said, "Everybody's a critic!" But it's a good word, eh?

I'd love to use that to have a go at someone who has given me a bad review for one of my books.

"Mate, you are such an ultracrepidarian!" you could sneer at some blogger or, if it was a magazine, your letter of response could read, "Sir, I refer to the critic whose comments on my novel's background show a distinct flavour of ultracrepidarianism."

Actually, the reader could be forgiven for thinking it was some form of religious cult...

I'm betting we all know at least one ultracrepidarian, eh? I sure do!

I must find an excuse to use the word in the next few daysM
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For the third time in about six weeks, I've fallen over, this time outside my own home. The same idiot who has been parking a ute in the driveway outside the door - right into the street, so illegal - has done it again. So I had to step around it, so, on an admittedly slippery morning, I tripped over a little ledge that is to the side of the driveway, and banged my knees yet again. I have NEVER tripped over that ledge, in all the years I have lived here. And one of my knees has been hurting for weeks now, due to a bruised bone, plus now it also has a graze. I can't kneel on it, and haven't been able to, for six weeks. The doctor says I just have to be patient and wait for it to get better. No fractures, fortunately.

I will be seeing my doctor in about half an hour, mainly for a medical certificate, as I just couldn't cope with a day at work after the shock, but I haven't wasted my time in the meantime.

I've been catching up with the episodes of Dr Who which I missed the last couple of weeks. I must say, this season is very good so far, and I'll be missing Peter Capaldi. His Doctor is almost as zany as Tom Baker, though he can get more serious. And I thought Thin Ice a particularly Tom Bakerish episode, though I can't see Baker calling his companion "boss".

What a nice surprise to see David Suchet in Knock Knock!

I also like the new companion. Bill is a companion who won't let the Doctor get away with any nonsense, though she also enjoys teasing him.

The scene in Thin Ice where she asks him if he's ever killed anyone, and challenges him, reminds me just a bit of Donna in The Fires of Pompeii.

I think the only companion I haven't really cared for was Amy, but then I didn't much care for that Doctor either.

Anyway, off to my own doctor(not Doctor!)
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Okay, I did it on Blogger. It was a fascinating experience. The idea is, you choose a theme and you write about it on your blog over a month, using the 26 letters of the alphabet. I chose the theme of Spies and Spying, because I'd written a children's book about it and so already had some background. I'm happy to say I managed to get ALL the letters in, though I did cheat a bit with X, writing "X is for eXtras." All things considered one bit of minor cheating in 26 entries was not at all bad.

Mind you, I discovered that some of the people I've written about have had their achievements questioned over the years since my book came out. History does change, no matter what you may think. I left out Jasper Maskelyne, whose boasts about saving Alexandria with magic tricks have been questioned, but then read that, in fact, he had helped with an incident in England where they needed the Nazis to think the Havilland factory was damaged. So, he could do iteksewhere, whether he did or not.

Then there were those web sites that argue that Herbert Dyce Murphy either never did the things he claimed(he was a spy who disguised as a woman before WWI)or that despite having lived quite comfortably as a man afterwards, marrying, etc., he must have been trans. Maybe - but it isn't mentioned in such sources as the Australian Dictionary of Biography on-line. I think the only thing you can do is look up several sources and make up your own mind.

For example, I researched Chang and Eng, the Siamese Twins, for an article I was working on. One said they had worked for Barnum and Bailey, another source said they hadn't. I decided to go with the latter, because from the other info I had about them, they were good businessmen who would be unlikely to agree to be ripped off by Barnum.

Anyway, A to Z was fun and I made some new on line friends and wrote something every day. And I am thinking of reworking a few of the posts and see if I can sell them to a children's magazine...
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I'm an over enthusiastic blogger. My Blogger blog, The Great Raven, is about books, mostly children's and YA books, which I review, writer interviews and guest posts. I love speculative fiction, especially space opera, but sometimes hard SF, and light fantasy like Terry Pratchett's rather than deep and meaningful heroic fantasy. It all turns up on my book blog. As I write this, I'm using it for the A to Z Challenge; my theme is "Spies and Spying". My other Blogger blog is "Sue Bursztynski's Page" which people tend to stumble across and comment on now and then, but I set it up as an experiment and these days mostly use it for my thoughts on my teaching.

My Livejournal is my general blog, for everything else going on in my life. This will be a bit of everything. Sometimes I'll copy and paste posts from here to The Great Raven and vice versa.

My first post will be about baking.

I have a passion for baking, though I'm just a decent amateur cook. You'll never see me in The Great Australian Bake-Off, or My Kitchen Rules. My philosophy is to get the maximum result for the minimum of effort. I will try a recipe that interests me, but if it takes too long or involves too many steps, I won't make it again. If it is something I'm willing to try again, I'll type it into my recipe files. That way I can get back to it and I can share it with anyone who asks.

Until recently I had no oven, my old one having died on me. For a long time I was working out how to avoid baking by using sort-of-baking recipes that you could make on the stove top or the microwave - and you'd be surprised how many those are! You can make pita bread in a frypan, for example, and crumpets.

Then I started to look for a convection oven - and a friend who had recently moved house to somewhere with a new kitchen said, "Here's one I bought on an impulse and never even opened the box. Have it."

I was back in business. I've been making bread, cake, biscuits(recently macaroons and amaretti for Passover), pizza. I have had to work out temperatures and how high the shelf should be. A convection oven has to be cooler than a regular one and my first few attempts were either burnt or soggy(my honey cake, dammit! An expensive cake, so it will be a while before I try again). But I think I've more or less got the hang of it. I will try muffins soon - haven't done those in years! And when I finish this post I'm going to make some Anzac biscuits, with Anzac Day tomorrow. If they work out, I'll make some more for my Year 7 students.

If you've followed me here from Livejournal, let me know and I'll make sure I follow you too.

Cheers!
Sue
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