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Title: Austral'a'in
Editor(s): Cassandra Vuksa
Type: letterzine
Date(s): mid-1990s
Medium: print
Fandom: Valdemar
External Links:
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Austral'a'in is a gen Valdemar/Misty-related Australian letterzine edited by Cassandra Vuksa.

This zine includes fiction (both fanfic on Velgarth and other fantasy stories), poetry, art, reviews, recipes, articles, personas, pen pal ads and stacks more.


"Healer-Adept Winterfire stands and claps her hands for attention. "Heyla, heartsibs! Are you looking for a newsletter that has poetry, artwork, stories, reviews, personas, penpal ads, and lots more? For a newsletter that's been around since 1995 and will be around for years more? Then maybe Austral'a'in is for you! Austral'a'in: translated from Latin and Shin'a'in, it means "People of the South". Originally this was a newsletter for Australian Mercedes Lackey fans, but we have members in New Zealand, Singapore, Norway, America, Canada and more! And newcomers are always welcome! For a year's membership you receive eight newsletters of eight pages each (including one full page of artwork)." [1]

Some History and Hints

Hi, I'm Cassandra Vuksa, editor of the newsletter "Austral'a'in" and the 'zine People of the South (plus several other 'zines in the works, but we won't go into that now . . . )

I actually started writing "Austral'a'in" sort-of by accident. I was doing a Technical Writing course at University, and I had to write a report on something--and I decided to do a feasibility study on opening a chapter of Queen's Own (QO) here in Australia. The first thing I did was get in touch with Judith Louvis [Ed. note: who was president of Queen's Own at that time] and ask her how many Australian members she had in Queen's Own and ask her to send each of them an ad that I gave her. She was a great help, and through her and my penpals I got in touch with ten or fifteen people who were interested in joining an Australian chapter.

The next thing I did was make up a survey, which I sent to them, asking what people were interested in seeing in the newsletter, suggestions for names, and so on. It was Fiona Forrester who suggested "Austral'a'in" as a corruption of both Latin and Shin'a'in, and I liked it. It was there that I also decided on the format I have now: Introduction, Reviews, Penpal Ads & Personals, Stories, Poems, Other Stuff (recipes, crosswords, etc.), Disclaimer. I won't always have all of these in there, but it gives me a basic outline for what I do have.

Once I had enough subscriptions for a few issues of the newsletter (which I shamelessly modeled on the QO format--six pages, disclaimer at the end, intro at the beginning), I put together a sample, which I sent free to everyone who had completed the survey, as well as to anyone who asked. (I actually will still send the first issue free to anyone who's interested, which costs me a lot in the long run but wins peoples' trust.) Most of the people who'd done the survey joined for a year.

Since then people have come and gone, but our numbers have been fairly stable, and I'm satisfied with that. I would be just as happy with two or three times the members (I could distribute to a hundred comfortably before I started running into problems), but I can still produce good work with what I have. The newsletter is now eight pages with a piece of cover art on each issue.

After I'd been running the newsletter for just over a year, I looked back at the submissions I'd had and realized that I had enough for a substantial sized 'zine, which is how People of the South came about. But that, and any other 'zines I may produce, is incidental to the main work, which is the newsletter.

Advice for people starting out? Decide how many people you're willing to accept as a minimum membership, then wait till you have at least that number interested before you produce anything (and before they pay). Get submissions off everyone--write what extra you need yourself (Create personas for the stuff you write if you don't want it to be obvious that you did it!). Make a deadline and stick to it because people trust editors who get their projects out on time. A post office box is useful--it makes you look more professional and stops you from swamping your parents with mail--but isn't required.

It is far easier to run a newsletter of six to eight pages once every month and a half than it is to produce a 'zine of fifty pages four times--or even twice--a year. (At least it is if you're organized, but that's required anyway!) There is no way I could have made People of the South without having run the newsletter first. A lot of people seem to try and make 'zines work first, and while some pull it off, others don't.

[Ed. note: Paragraph about personas created by Cassandra Vuksa deleted in this version.]

Why so many [personas]? Remember what I said about writing stuff yourself when you don't have enough submissions?? *grin* There was a bit of that going on there for a while, but lately I have been writing for the pleasure of it--I have enough fanfic by other people to keep the newsletter running for another year or more. And that's exactly what I plan to do. [2]


  1. Austral'a'in
  2. from Sink or Swim