Brief FableCroft update

April 11th, 2014 at 10:54 am (Miscellaneous)

My apologies for the radio silence around these parts since the end of March. It’s been a crazy few weeks, and I haven’t even had a chance to properly celebrate the end of the Cranky Ladies of History campaign (which I will do soon!). A couple of very quick updates:

1. Insert Title Here slush reading is over halfway done, but we’ve had a few delays due to other things getting in the way. Hope to have first round reading finished in the next two weeks. I’m very sorry for those still waiting to hear back from us.

2. Cranky Ladies surveys and early rewards will go out very soon — just need a chance to sit down with the Pozible site and get it sorted! (And again, THANK YOU to our supporters and signal-boosters — I don’t think I can say that enough!).

3. Aurealis Awards! They happened last weekend, and we WON! One Small Step and The Bone Chime Song both received awards, alongside a bunch of other fantastic work. A proper update about that (with photos), also pending.

Thanks for your patience everyone — I’ve had a five day judging conference for the Children’s Book Council of Australia and end of term (day job) kicking my butt, alongside preparation for an interstate move, but hope to be back on the publishing train really soon!

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Book Review: Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

April 2nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Reviews)

I don’t usually review books here on the FableCroft site, but like to periodically do so when it’s a book by one of the authors we have published in the past.

PeacemakerI first encountered Peacemaker protagonist Virgin Jackson in de Pierres’ story “Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger” (first published in the Agog! Smashing Stories anthology in 2004, and I liked it so much I reprinted in FableCroft’s Australis Imaginarium in 2010). I was delighted to read Peacemaker in graphic version in 2011, and was a bit sad when that format was unable to continue, so it was with huge anticipation I started on the novel version! And I have not been disappointed.

Virgin Jackson is a senior ranger in a themed conservation park; odd things have started to happen to her, and not just finding herself saddled with a US Marshall who is himself just a little strange. When she first finds a dead body where it’s almost impossible for anyone to be, she is essentially accused of the murder, and then is attacked in her home. Not one to stand idly by and let things happen, Virgin starts to investigate for herself, with the help of friends in useful places, and the odd Marshall Sixkiller. What she finds is not at all what she expects…

There are several changes that have occurred from the original short story to the novel-length edition. Focus is by necessity shifted for the longer form, and while the book is still (in my eyes) very Australian, I can also see where some elements have been altered to give the story a more international tone, and that both works very well on a plot level as well as being a sensible move in terms of audience.

In another incarnation, de Pierres writes crime fiction, and her experience in both a science fictional setting and a mystery one offer a deftness of touch here. Peacemaker rollicks along at a cracking pace, and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation at times, which is always a good sign! The character of Virgin is vivid and wonderfully acerbic, and I found both she and the supporting cast so well realised they really bounced off the page. With that combination, I got to the end of the book and flipped the last page in disappointment, because while the story ended well (albeit definitely set up for the next volume), I simply didn’t want it to stop. Bring on the next instalment!

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy of the book. It is available in ebook from your favourite e-tailer or ask your bookstore about the paperback.

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Australia’s literary cranky ladies

March 31st, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

So, I couldn’t resist one last blog post before the end of the month! This was actually the very first idea I had for blogging about Cranky Ladies of History, but with all the things that have been going on, I didn’t get a chance to write it. Until now.

During the month, I wrote about several of Australia’s children’s authors of history, for the CBCA Tasmania blog, but today I want to talk about some female writers of Australian’s rich literary tradition who have left a legacy that can’t be ignored.

miles_franklinBorn in 1879, Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin is probably one of Australia’s best known writers, thanks not only to her work, but also to the Miles Franklin Literary Award (first awarded over fifty years ago) and the more recent Stella Prize, established in 2013. Nationalist and feminist both, Franklin published more than a dozen books (some under the pseudonym Brett of Bin Bin), and although none achieved the same level of success as her first, My Brilliant Career, she did receive some critical acclaim for other works. A Franklin travelled extensively during her life, settling for some time in the USA and the UK, and also volunteering for war work during World War I. Her working life included stints as a housemaid, nurse, cook, secretary and journalist. One of the things I like best about Franklin is that she actively supported Australian literature throughout her life, and mentored both young writers and new literary publications. It seems she really lived life on her own terms, never marrying and taking opportunities where she could, and I think it’s completely fitting that we recognise her contribution, and remember her work, with two major literary awards.

Katharine_Susannah_Prichard_portraitKatharine Susannah Pritchard has also left a lasting legacy in Australia, in the form of the KSP Writers’ Centre in Perth, which I had a bit to do with when I lived there, and her story always intrigued me. Born in Fiji in 1883, and living in Launceston, Tasmania, Melbourne and the UK before settling in Western Australia,  Pritchard became known as a writer but also as one of the founding members of the Communist Party of Australia! She supported unemployed workers and left-wing women’s groups, visited the Soviet Union and argued with other Communist writers over the correct application of socialist realist doctrine in Australian fiction. Though she encountered hardship and trauma during her life, she wrote prolifically and broadly, and fearlessly and emotionally promoted the cause of peace and social justice.

Patricia-Wrightson-006I’m really not sure how I missed including Patricia Wrightson in my earlier post on Australian children’s writers, but I did, so I’m including her here. Born in 1921 as Patricia Furlonger, Wrightson is arguably one of Australia’s most celebrated authors. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of her work is that she incorporated Aboriginal folklore into her writing, and demonstrated respect for these traditional stories while doing so. Wrightson was the recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1986, the highest international career recognition available to children’s writers and illustrators, was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1977 and won the Australian Dromkeen Medal in 1984, as well as winning the CBCA Book of the Year Award four times. The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards has a category named in honour of her.

http://thestellaprize.com.au/about-us/about-the-stella-prize/

http://www.milesfranklin.com.au/

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/franklin-stella-maria-sarah-miles-6235

http://kspf.iinet.net.au/thehurricanechild.php

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/may/09/patricia-wrightson-obituary

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

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Cranky Ladies of History bits and bobs

March 31st, 2014 at 12:01 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

Cranky Ladies logoWell, the crowdfunding ride is nearly over! Just 24 hours left until the Pozible campaign ends, and I’m still blown away by the support we have received, not only in the pledges that saw us reach our goal at just halfway through and smash our first stretch goal, but in the social media signal boosting and the mainstream media as well. It’s been amazing, and Tansy and I are truly grateful for every bit of it. It’s not too late to pledge, and nab exclusive rewards (and a very special surprise we’ve cooked up as well!).

Over the month, I’ve been collecting little tidbits of Cranky Ladies related stuff, and so I’m just going to pop a bunch of them in the one post to see out the campaign.

Suffragettes plaqueVia Alex Pierce, this plaque honouring suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was erected illegally by MP Benn in House of Commons a few years ago.

Female military leaders (The Mary Sue)

15 Adorable Kids Pose As Iconic Figures In Women’s History

This whole month, the poem “Phenomenal Woman”, as narrated by the wonderful Maya Angelou, has been on my mind. So I wanted to link it here.

And in the same way, this song has for some reason resonated with me. Neither the poem nor the song are necessarily about Cranky Ladies of History, but the theme is surely there! (and yes, it’s a fairly ridiculous video clip, which I had not seen until I found it to link here! Ignore that, and enjoy the song :) )

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 9.31.09 PMA great set of biographies of women from history, collated by A Mighty Girl.

Devotion: stories of Australia’s wartime nurses is a wonderful read, put out last year by the Australian War Memorial. Incredible stories, presented in a beautiful book full of photographs and other primary source material.

Kenny_Elizabeth_SisterElizabeth Kenny (1880-1952): Australian, entrepreneur, not-quite-qualified nurse, pioneer of effective treatment for symptoms of polio and cerebral palsy (and effectively modern rehabilitation methods), hospital founder, war nurse, designer of an effective transportation stretcher and true cranky lady of her time! (I read about her in one of my school’s library books, Elizabeth Kenny by Jenny Craig, CIS Cardigan Street Publishers, 1995)

And to finish up, don’t forget to take a look at our Cranky Ladies of History blog tour – we have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have contributed, and it’s been marvellous reading about all those fantastic cranky ladies! Thank you to everyone who has taken part!

 

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Cranky Ladies of History guest post: Lise Meitner

March 30th, 2014 at 8:14 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

I’m cranky on behalf of Lise Meitner, a brilliant physicist.

Guest post by Deidre Tronson

meitnerWas Lise Meitner cranky?

Although she and her nephew, Otto Robert Frisch,  had done the theoretical physics calculations and first proposed that a uranium nucleus had split into smaller pieces (later named nuclear fission),  she did not win the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for that discovery. The only recipient was  her long-time colleague Otto Hahn, who had performed the chemistry experiments  to prove that fission had actually occurred.

I would have been cranky. Very cranky. Read the rest of this entry »

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I see them here, I see them there, I see Cranky Ladies EVERYWHERE!

March 27th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

Since we started this project, I’ve noticed more brilliant cranky ladies of history than I even have before! It seems like everything I read or watch references another awesome lady, and it’s fabulous. I recently flicked through a copy of The National Library of Australia Magazine, and was impressed to see the page space devoted to cranky ladies there! You can read the magazine free online, but here is a summary of the 19th century ladies examined in its pages:

Rose de FreycinetRose de Freycinet: in 1817, Rose cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothes and famously stowed away on the French naval ship Uranie to accompany her husband, Captain Louis de Freycinet, around the world.

Mary GilmoreMary Gilmore: born in 1865, teacher, poet, journalist and activist Mary Gilmore approached life with a keen sense of social justice. She was the first woman member and executive member of the Australian Workers’ Union, and certainly did not conform to the usual standards of the time, moving for a time to a utopian community in Paraguay, where she married. A contemporary and close friend of Henry Lawson, Mary continued to work after the birth of her son, and wrote for many publications. Her popularity was huge and she fought throughout her life for a better standard of living for all.

Nettie HuxleyNettie Huxley: born in 1825, Nettie wrote two children’s books late in the century, but her life was more adventurous than most fictional characters! Descendant of a Caribbean pirate, and possessed of a pioneering spirit, Nettie travelled extensively, including spending over a decade in Australia. With a colourful family history (even in recent generations), Nettie’s life must have been exciting from the very beginning, and I want to know more about her!

Have you found Cranky Ladies of History in unexpected places?

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

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Cranky Ladies of History guest post: Ellen Davitt

March 26th, 2014 at 6:00 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

A Cranky Lady of Crime History:  Ellen Davitt

Guest post by Lucy Sussex

“Was this Ellen Davitt contentious?” said the Archivist to me.

An interesting question.  I was in the reading room of the National Archives, deep in nineteenth-century Education files from the colony of Victoria. The woman I was looking for had a chequered history, but in the 1850s she had been the most powerful female in the colony’s secular education system. I was trying to find out why a (male) historian had described her as having “overbearing self-esteem”.

“Yes, she was contentious,” I decided to say.

“Then try the Special Case files!”—in which I would find that Ellen Davitt fully qualified as cranky, and for excellent reasons.

Force and FraudEllen Davitt (1812-1879) wrote Force and Fraud (1865) the first Australian murder mystery novel, at a time when the crime genre was in the process of formation.  For this distinction, the Davitt award of Sisters in Crime, for Australian women’s crimewriting, is named after her. Force and Fraud will be reprinted as an e-book this year. But in a long career, in which as a widow she was obliged to be self-supporting, Ellen Davitt was a teacher, exhibited artist, public speaker, something at the time which was daring for women, journalist and novelist. She was also feisty and tough, particularly with overbearing males. Had she not had a healthy self-esteem, she would have been crushed.

Her entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography only cites Ellen as an educationalist, with no mention of her other interesting work, only rediscovered in the 1990s.  She was born in England, the daughter of Martha and Edward Heseltine, a (dodgy) bank manager, the eldest of five daughters. Her sister Rose married famous novelist Anthony Trollope. Ellen married Irishman Arthur Davitt, who worked in education, and the pair emigrated to Australia in the 1850s, to run the ModelSchool in Melbourne.  It was a difficult job; and changing politics and an economic recession saw the Davitts’ positions terminated. Arthur died in 1860, of tuberculosis. Ellen vigorously sought compensation, indeed sought to address the Victorian Parliament—an extraordinary move for the time, which was refused.

Her journalism, public speaking and fiction writing were all a means of supporting herself, as a widow, without family in Australia. Force and Fraud was serialised in the Australian Journal. It was a mystery of real ability, without a central detective, rather a group of people banding together to find justice, a common device of the time.  The narrative was a sophisticated whodunnit, as well as being a close observation of colonial society. Other notable works include the short story “The Highlander’s Revenge”, a powerful story of Aboriginal massacres in the Gippsland region, probably based on an eyewitness account.

Conditions for writers in the Australian colonies were poor in the 1800s, it being particularly hard to earn a living. It seems Ellen Davitt contributed anonymously to the press for some time, then returned to teaching. She had the ill-luck to be sent to a rural school outside Bendigo, where she faced a headmaster with a bias against female teachers, and a low salary, which did not take into account her previous experience. It destroyed her health but not her spirits—hence a gold mine of letters to and from the Education department, in which she sought compensation. She was refused again, and in 1879 died of cancer and exhaustion.

Was she contentious? Oh yes!  But with excellent reason, as she fought against the male authorities who sought to contain and control her.  She and Mary Fortune (an even more cranky lady, a bigamist who consorted with criminals, and had a jailbird son) are the mothers of the Australian crime genre. That both of them have been marginalised, in Fortune’s case nearly lost to history, shows the importance of revisiting the lives of women, which are so often braver and less conventional than the official male historians allow.

History is written by the winners. Herstory is stranger and wilder than we can possibly imagine.

Long live the Cranky Ladies!

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is written as part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

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Guest post: Marianne de Pierres on Jeanne d’Orléans

March 25th, 2014 at 6:30 pm (Cranky Ladies of History)

 

Peacemaker Tour Banner

We’re killing two birds with one stone with this post, as it not only celebrates the launch of Marianne’s fantastic new Angry Robot novel Peacemaker (you can see where Peacemaker started, in Marianne’s short story in Australis Imaginarium!) but it’s about one of history’s most famous cranky ladies! Enjoy!

joanJeanne d’Orléans

Maybe it’s my French ancestry that flagged Jeanne d’Orléans in my tweenage consciousness, but her story has always intrigued me. On reflection, I believe that it was her apparent fearlessness and single-mindedness that was so interesting. I find, more and more, I tend to write about characters that are committed to a purpose. I’m attracted to female fictional characters who fit the same mould: Sarah Lund, Grace Hanadarko, and Olivia Dunham.

Our lives are full of distractions, and intent is so easily diluted by demands on our time and energy. It has become important to me to know that there are people who can negotiate through the web of mediocrity to pursue their purpose in a pure and uncompromising manner. Women in my era (I’m fifty plus), were raised to be compromising and conciliatory caregivers. While admirable qualities, they can also affect our ability to remain faithful to our beliefs. We were a generation of placaters and second-guessers.

Wiki says this about Jeanne:

The extent of her actual military leadership is a subject of historical debate. Traditional historians, such as Édouard Perroy, conclude that she was a standard bearer whose primary effect was on morale.[33] This type of analysis usually relies on the condemnation trial testimony, where she stated that she preferred her standard to her sword. Recent scholarship that focuses on the nullification trial testimony asserts that the army’s commanders esteemed her as a skilled tactician and a successful strategist. Stephen W. Richey’s opinion is one example: “She proceeded to lead the army in an astounding series of victories that reversed the tide of the war.”[29] In either case, historians agree that the army enjoyed remarkable success during her brief career.[34]

Naturally, I chose to accept the latter interpretation because there is no reason why it should not be the case. In the end though, Jean fell victim to politics. Her executioner is quoted as saying “he feared damnation” for burning her alive.

So he should have.

GR author pic_webMarianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis, the award-winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series and the upcoming Peacemaker SF Western series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a teen dark fantasy series.

Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt. Visit her websites at www.mariannedepierres.com and www.tarasharp.com.au and www.burnbright.com.au

Cranky Ladies logoThis post is part of the Women’s History Month Cranky Ladies of History blog tour. If  you would like to read more about cranky ladies from the past, you might like to support our Pozible campaign, crowd-funding an anthology of short stories about Cranky Ladies of History from all over the world.

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The final countdown! Seven days to go…

March 25th, 2014 at 8:51 am (Cranky Ladies of History)

Cranky Ladies logoThis is it! The final week of the Cranky Ladies of History Pozible campaign is underway! We are at  $9900 with an amazing 180 supporters on board the Cranky Ladies train, and Tansy and I are just delighted with the result so far. We have smashed our first stretch goal of more art by the brilliant Kathleen Jennings, and we’re aiming high — if we can hit $12,500, we can add another 25,000 words to our book! That’s more stories and more great authors to enjoy, which would help make the book even more awesome.

But what’s in it for you? Why back a crowdfunding campaign that is already funded? There are lots of good reasons (including the fact it makes us do a little dance!) and I wrote about some of them here – exclusive campaign rewards! Publisher dancing! All good things :)

In case you missed it on the weekend, we got some more mainstream media notice with Linda Morris from the Sydney Morning Herald writing a great article about the cranky ladies, which was published on Sunday. We’re so pleased to see that our Cranky Ladies are receiving such attention, and with the previous ABC News Online article and radio appearances and everything, have to say it’s pretty cool. Stay tuned for a few more interviews/articles to come!

I might sound a bit like a broken record, but I really can’t thank enough everyone who has pledged and signal-boosted the campaign over the past three weeks. You’re amazing. And thank you as well to the very excellent people who have taken part in our Cranky Ladies Blog Tour — it’s been such a fantastic response, and it’s still going! Check out the posts so far, and keep an eye out for more to come.

Cranky Ladies, storming the world!

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New reviews!

March 22nd, 2014 at 8:06 pm (Reviews)

We’ve been fairly focused on Cranky Ladies for the past few weeks, but of course there is always more going on behind the scenes!

Firstly, we’re almost halfway through the first round of reading for Insert Title Here, and hopefully will have responded to all authors within the next fortnight.

Secondly, new reviews! We love seeing these appear around the ridges, so please let us know by email or Twitter if you write a review of a FableCroft book!

BoneChimeCoverDraftBlack Static #39 has a great round up of recent Australian short fiction anthologies and collections, and Joanne Anderton’s The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories is part of that. The reviewer calls Jo an author “who deftly blurs the lines between horror, fantasy and science fiction”, and looks at each story. Of particular interest, the two original stories have thoughtful comments, and the reviewer calls “Mah Song” rich in detail and says of “Fencelines”, a slowly burgeoning mood of unreality settling over the text as the narrative unfolds. Nice!

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