The Model Auntie gets married

Today The Model Auntie married Dr T-shirt, and so became Mrs Dr T-shirt.  (Although for the purposes of my blog she will remain The Model Auntie.)

It was the tiniest wedding ever, with two witnesses (one of them me), and it was lovely.  The four of us went out for brunch in the morning, then went back to their house and changed into wedding clothes (in The Model Auntie’s case, a wedding dress and Hollywood movie star tiny furry jacket, in Dr T-shirt’s case, another T-shirt).  Then we went to the registry office, took some photos in the sunny garden, and then they got married, with music from The Princess Bride.

This is me with the new Mrs Dr T-shirt.

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Cheesemaking

As a fun new endeavour (that might…or might not…save us money), we’re trying out cheesemaking.

This is Abstract heating up unhomogenized, full-cream milk to 32 degrees C exactly.

image Continue reading

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Needs no words

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Cocktails!

LA time – 1.53 pm:

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went to Downtown Disney with other Samhain staff and we ate Mexican food at Tortilla Jo’s and had margaritas.  I had a pomegranate margarita and a plate of shrimp (which here means massive prawns) & avocado enchiladas, black beans, Mexican rice, and guacamole (made at the table).

Then there was the huge Literacy Autographing, where I got to meet Jenna Bayley-Burke and Meg Benjamin and Erica Hayes and Molly Cannon (I think?) and Sarah Frantz and Angie James, and I was nearly signing near Suzanne Brockmann (!) except she wasn’t actually there.  Her books were, in a big pile on her table, with a note apologizing for her absence.

Me:                                                         Jenna Bayley-Burke:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because no one really knows who I am (and my books sell mostly online not in print) I didn’t get anyone buying my books.  But I did have a fun fun time talking to my fellow authors and meeting people.  And then Erica and I went to the bar, where we sat near the super-cool firepit thingy and ordered Nightingales, the exciting purple cocktail the Marriott has invented specially for the RWA!  It was cold and very sweet and pale purple-coloured with a froth of eggwhite on the surface, and flavoured with ginger and violet and lemon.  And we also had calamari and spicy chicken spring rolls served by a very charming Greek waiter who mocked our Nightingales.  Which, to be fair, I understood.  Girliest drinks ever.

I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture of the Nightingale. I think maybe I was too keen to drink it.

I woke up with a sore throat and earache in the night and had to get up and make tea with honey for myself.  I think it was because of a) excessive talking the night before and b) the dehydrating effect of the convention centre’s air-conditioning.  I’m good today, though, and have throat sweets and plenty to drink.

Today I went to a great panel on LGBT fiction, which I found really inspiring, and made me even keener to write gay/lesbian/bisexual characters into my YA books.  I’d say transgender, too, but I feel too ignorant to attempt that just yet.

And I met and chatted with Brigid Kemmerer who writes YA paranormal and Laurie A. Green who writes SF romance.  I have new people to follow on Twitter and new online groups to check out and maybe join (SFR Brigade and Rainbow Romance Writers).

At the Keynote Luncheon I sat next to Toni Kenyon and Bronwen Evans, from New Zealand.  And I was super pleased to find out they knew one of my Samhain authors, Serenity Woods!

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So, palm trees have a scent

LA time – 00.15 am:

Last time I was in the US I was in Georgia. I noticed an unfamiliar smell around where I was staying, but everything was so new I didn’t associate it with one thing in particular. I vaguely assumed it was the scent of the air-conditioning or the wood of the house where I was staying.  Today, intent on going to Downtown Disney to buy souvenirs, I walked out of the hotel, into glorious Californian sunshine, and smelled the same scent.

A little investigation (which involved checking that no one was looking first) revealed that it’s the palm trees that I was smelling.  It’s an odd, slightly smoky, slightly aromatic smell, and, combined with the heat and the sun and the endlessly blue sky, it’s, to me, quintessentially American.

It was lovely to be out in the sun and the heat.  When I arrived at the hotel Monday evening (LA time) it was in the early hours of Tuesday morning by my bodyclock time and, as I can’t sleep on planes, I had been awake for twenty-four hours.  Thankfully, my room is hugely comfortable (and just plain huge), and room service brought me up a tray of English Breakfast tea and a jug of skimmed milk (today I worked out how to use the room’s coffee-maker to make tea, but I couldn’t face trying last night).  And this morning I slept and slept and slept, finally going to the hotel Starbucks for a breakfast of spinach, feta and eggwhite wrap and a latte at around 12 noon.

And then, of course, off I went to Downtown Disney.  Passing palm trees and magnolia trees and a tumble of gorgeous pink flowers falling over the sides of a bridge, and, as I got closer, signs to Disneyland itself.

To quote the four-year-old Gloworm, the first time she saw Meadowhall (a shopping mall near where we live) lit up at night: “Oh wook, Disneywand!”

In Downtown Disney, I wandered around in the sunshine, had a smoothie, and did my souvenir shopping.  Then I walked back and had dinner (meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli and carrots–very British sounding and yet very gourmet-American in the experience, take my word for it!) in the outdoor bar area by the pool.

I met up briefly with Lindsey Faber, Samhain’s publisher, and then had mojitos, deep-fried asparagus and ranch dressing and tuna nachos with Marty, another Samhain colleague.

And now I’m back in my super comfortable room.  That’s my huge bed, below, with Taffy the tortoise keeping me company.

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Immi’s second American adventure

I first went to America in 2009, for a Samhain staff retreat, and it was fabulous.  This time, though, I’m paying for myself and I’m going to attend the RWA conference in Anaheim.  Which is in, hello, California. I know, I know, I’m not going to see Buffy, but all the same…

My adventure begins today (actually yesterday but I haven’t gone to sleep yet so to me this is still Sunday).  I’m spending tonight in the Heathrow Yotel, which I’ve wanted to do since I found out it existed in 2009, and the pictures of which inspired one of the settings in LINKED.  Yeah, when you read the book you’ll totally know which one!

Monday afternoon I fly out to Los Angeles, Tuesday I recover and shop for souvenirs in Downtown Disney (maybe?), and Wednesday the conference starts. I’m very excited!

Not that the last month has lacked excitement.  Goodness me, no.

In no particular order, either chronological or of importance:

Sparkler went to prom in a stunning red satin and diamante dress.  Our house got new windows and a new front door.  I went to London to meet my Quercus editor and publicist, and they showed me the Quercus offices and gave me lunch and wine.  I also met up with Emma Pass, another of the Lucky 13s, a bit nearer home, and had a lovely let’s-talk-nothing-but-writing-and-books lunch with her.

I also went to the RNA conference, which was wonderful as always, made even better by my boss, Heather Osborn, coming over from the States for it.

And I finished the sequel to LINKED, named it (with the help of Dayna Hart) SHATTERED, and sent it to my editor at Simon & Schuster.  And, thank the Lord, she loved it.  I’m now in the middle of first-round edits, which are thorough but not undoable.

I didn’t blog, probably because finishing SHATTERED left me, well, shattered.  But I’m totally going to try to update the blog from the conference.  Because, hello, California.

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Guest blogging at Pub(lishing) Crawl

Buried as I’ve been under writing, writing and more writing (I met my deadline two weeks ago and am very slowly creeping back to normality), I haven’t blogged here much at all.  I have, however, managed to guest blog for my agent, over here at Pub(lishing) Crawl.  Come read what I have to say about writing futuristic fiction in what feels like a science fiction world!

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Winning at life

I would just like to share that so far this week I have:

Written a critique for the first 3000 words of a fantasy novel (I offered it as part of Crits for Water earlier this month), and the author was pleased with it and thanked me on Twitter.

Printed out the almost-complete mostly-second-draft of Mirrored.  Look, look, it’s nearly a whole new book!

Found out that when I go to Cincinnati for the Samhain Editorial Retreat in September I’m staying in an awesome-looking hotel, and sharing with Christa Desir, fellow Samhain editor and Lucky 13 (how cool is that?).

Tried out a Mary Sue Test on both the heroines in Linked, and found out that they’re not remotely Mary Sueish (just as well, as it’s too damn late to change them).

Seen (via Twitter) that my agent Mandy Hubbard (who is also a multi-published YA author) has just sold two more books, and that a friend and colleague who survived breast cancer a couple of years ago has just got a clear result from her latest mammogram.

Continued to read the second book in A Song of Ice and Fire, and it’s just as good as the first.  Which given that there are a load more books in the series, plus a TV show, is an excellent thing.

Discovered that if I do my physio exercises before I go to bed I don’t get back pain in the night or when I wake up in the morning.

And it’s only Tuesday!

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Still here. Typing.

This is going to be one of those fail posts where someone says, “Hi, sorry I haven’t been here; I’m going to not be here again.”

Some points of relevance:

The house is…interesting.  The moment one room becomes normal and pleasant, another room becomes a pit of hell (no light, no plaster, no furniture…and, in Sparkler’s bedroom’s case, one big hole in the floor).  We do have a working kitchen, however, with a double sink and a multi-function oven (with a turbo grill that does fantastic roast beef).

My deadline for Linked the Sequel is three weeks away.  I am nearly nearly there.  The book is mostly in its second-draft form, and I’m on either the last chapter or the penultimate chapter even as I speak.  I won’t know what to do when I’m not on deadline any more!

Linked has sold foreign rights to Germany, Romania, Brazil, and Quercus in the UK.  I had the nicest conversation with my new UK editor last week, and she mentioned the possibility of tours and school visits and festivals – how cool is that?  I’m beyond thrilled that Linked is going to have a UK release – I’ve been hoping for that cherry on the cake ever since the North American rights sold to Simon & Schuster.

Work is busy busy busy.  I’ve picked up a little more editing work, working with an author who I used to work with a few years ago.  I’m very excited and will reveal who it is later!

In domestic news, Sparkler had her sixteenth birthday, Gloworm has moved into her new room (totally new – in February it didn’t even exist), and Willow the cat has forgiven us for putting her out to board while the house was being pulled to pieces in early April.

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No longer displaced

Well, we’re back in our own house, and after a week of Abstract’s hard work, we have a floor throughout most of our kitchen, four new pieces of kitchen furniture, and a working oven!  The hob is not yet working, sadly, and the (huge, double) sink has neither taps, drainage nor running water, so we’re still traipsing up and down stairs to wash up in the bathroom sink.

Oh, and our hoover and kettle and Abstract’s motorbike all broke.  We have a new kettle, a new hoover is being ordered, and the bike is at the bike doctor’s.  And we’re just trying not to think about the money!

This is a view of our new kitchen extension, together with a glimpse of Rubble Mountain in the back garden, and me peeping out of the corner of the frame.

And this is me again, keeping warm in my new Samhain hoodie that Crissy and Lindsey gave me when I went to see them at the London Book Fair earlier this month.

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