1. I have somehow, tangentially, and in connection with the work of others more talented than I (hi, Edwina; hi, Shauna), found my name among those listed on the 2014 Ditmar Ballot, the preliminary form of which was released yesterday. The best of luck to all those listed!
2. The call has recently gone out for the latest crop of Aurealis Awards judges. I’ve served on AA judging panels in 2008 (SF Novel), 2009 (Anthology and Collection), 2010 and 2013 (Fantasy Short Story, those last two occasions); I’ll be sitting this one out, but I can recommend the judging process to anyone who is seriously interested in the Australian speculative fiction scene and who thinks they might have something to offer. It’s hard work: there’s a lot of reading involved, and this reading tends to fall disproportionately close to the deadline, despite the best efforts of those organising — but I do not think there is a better way of taking the pulse of the genre. And it’s nice to be able to feel a personal stake in the recognition of excellence in whatever category you happen to be judging. Plus, of course, it’s not a solitary activity — you’re a member of a panel, and generally speaking at least one panellist will have prior experience of the judging process and can act as mentor. The flip side is that there can only be one winner (or, in the event of a tie, two), and often there are very many deserving candidates: it’s a delicate balance, and necessarily, in the end, a somewhat subjective one. A different panel would possibly pick a slightly different shortlist, perhaps even a different winner. But that’s the awards process. Judges are human. You can make a difference. If you want to, and you have the time (particularly towards December and January, when in the more demanding categories it can get hectic), give it a go. But don’t leave it too long — I believe they’re looking to get expressions of interest in by the 30th of April.