Throwback Thursday: UK Trip 2011: LONDON

It’s not too late to blog about a trip two and a half years after the fact, right? Okay good, ’cause that’s what I’m gonna do. 😀

In the summer of 2011, my BFF and I went to the UK for 12 days—she was going for a literary conference; I was going because ENGLAND YOU GUYSSSS. Our trip broke down into four basic stages: London, Edinburgh, York, and London again.

Here’s part one!


We arrived in London at about 7:30 AM British time, completely exhausted and jetlagged like you wouldn’t believe (jet lag is REAL, people!). We had a snack in the airport and I used pounds and pence for the first time! I also dropped my credit card on the ground after buying train tickets, 0_o but fortunately realized it before anything disastrous happened. Oh, and as I was standing in line for the bathroom, I got asked if I “was in the queue” which was awesome. 😀

We took the train to the tube station (don’t remember which one!) and got separated on the tube when I got off too early and she kept going—I asked for directions from a nice British lady and we eventually found each other again at the tube stop by our bed and breakfast. We realized maybe we should have bought minutes for our phones or something so we could get a hold of each other in the event of separation (whoops). Our bed and breakfast was this cute little house on a residential street, and the owner was nice enough to let us check in early, and we got hooked up to the internet and took a much needed NAP. Tragically, we were so ridiculously jetlagged that we opted out of going to the Globe Theater to see ARTHUR DARVIL on stage. Still bummed about that!! 😦

We ate at a charming little pub a few blocks away from our B&B, and were asked what sauces we would like with our meals. Jenny inquired politely what sauces they had (we had no idea why we were being asked about sauces, haha), and the waitress gave us a funny look and was all: “ketchup, mustard…” So apparently sauces = condiments. Good to know!

We spent the majority of the next day at the British Museum, which was filled with all kinds of incredibly amazing things, and I kind of wish I could go there every single day. We ate our first triangularly-packaged sandwiches on the lawn of the museum—there seemed to be a lot of opportunity to eat triangularly-packaged sandwiches that whole trip! I bought an adorable British Museum mug.

In the afternoon, we went to St. Paul’s cathedral, and climbed all the way to the top! It was exhausting but so worth it. Then we stayed for Evensong, which was the MOST GORGEOUS THING I HAVE EVER HEARD.

Back at the B&B I discovered that my wifi had decided it was allergic to foreign air, and refused to connect EVEN THOUGH IT HAD WORKED FINE THE DAY BEFORE!!! It didn’t work the entire rest of the trip. 😛 Jenny generously let me borrow her laptop, which was apparently fine with overseas travel, but it was kind of rough for both of us to communicate with everybody back home! It was also the greatest period of time I had been away from my then-boyfriend-now-husband in the five months we’d been dating, and the separation was kind of a shock! Missing significant others is FOR REAL!! Yikes!

Next day we planned to head to Cambridge and spend the day there. Jenny was getting sick. 😦 Highlight of the day was conversing with a British couple over breakfast about Doctor Who. It was like the epitome of awesome. They were impressed at how much we Americans knew. 😀

The Cambridge trip was kind of a disaster—personality clashes (oops), sickness, and fragile tempers began to rear their ugly heads. 0_o We did take a nice punting tour about the college, though, and got to ride a relaxing train, but all in all not our finest moments…

Next day was all about GETTING TO EDINBURGH, but I’ll leave that for the next post. 🙂

In London, our first night

Jet-lagged and ready for FOOD!

Our Bed & Breakfast

At the Boston Manor Tube Stop by our B&B

The British Museum!

Inside the British Museum

At the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Punting in Cambridge

Procrastination, Rewrite Update, and Arizona Always Does Its Own Thing

And because I’m behind on blogging this month and I want to procrastinate actually working on my novel, here’s a second post for today. 🙂

On the writing front, I’m still slogging away on that giant rewrite. I’m just about to start chapter five of part two, and there’s fifteen chapters after that, so I’ve still got a ways to go, blech. I reallllly want to be done with this draft by the end of March, so I’d better get cracking. Trying not to think about how I get to go through it again after that because this rewrite is so massive it’s like 50% brand new material which needs editing and pondering and possibly rearranging and rewriting. Oh man this is so much work. You see why I’m procrastinating??

I’m so ready to be on to something NEW! Trying do decide if I’ll start writing a brand new novel (from last year’s set-aside short story), finish off my draft from November, or Something Else Entirely. So many possibilities!

Meanwhile, Arizona has forgotten it’s February and has decided to skyrocket into the mid-to-upper-80s, which is making me grumpy because summer is coming soon and WE NEVER HAD WINTER!!!!!! >:-( It’s so weird to me that the rest of the country is wreathed in eternal White Witch Narnian winter, and Arizona is all like “la dee dah, let’s break some heat records for this time of year.” Anyways. I REFUSE to turn on the air conditioning. You know. In the house. It’s definitely on in my car…

So. There you have it.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I just finished this exquisite book last week, and I cannot recommend it enough! Beautiful language and storytelling, compelling characters—it’s just absolutely gorgeous. And because I’m too lazy to do a proper review, here are a few of the many (MANY!) quotable lines from Fairyland:

“She sounds like someone who spends a lot of time in libraries, which are the best sorts of people.”

“Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.”

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and dirt, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in awhile, you have to scrub it up and get the works going, or else you’ll never be brave again.” 

Older and Wiser… ?

So on Monday I turned THIRTY. Isn’t that weird?

Last weekend my awesome husband took me on a hot air balloon ride to celebrate, and it was SO AMAZING!! I now want to travel everywhere by balloon!

Our balloon.

On top of the world!

And on my birthday he got me an oh-so-delicious giant cookie cake from Paradise Bakery. It was all I ever dreamed it would be!

Because all the cool kids wear Disney shirts on their 30th birthday

In writing news, I have made some progress on the revision. I’m almost finished with the first chapter of Part 2, and also ruminating on some changes to the end of Part 1. Still a long way to go, but I think I’m going to make it through this thing!

Here’s to a (hopefully!) awesome new decade!

Plants are Pretty Cool, right?

I’m at that point with my revision of Part II where I just basically hate everything. I’ve outlined what I have. I’ve made lots of rambling notes about what I want to be different. I’m trying to figure out how to merge the two and it’s just AWFUL!! Blarg. I go through this with Every Single Revision, you would think I’d be used to it now, but noooo.

It’s like, I know I’ll reach that point where I’ve got everything figured out and I can start the actual rewriting process, but right now it’s hard to see it. I’m questioning everything: does this scene belong? would this character really behave like that? what is the point of this storyline? how do I develop this naturally? does anything in here make even A LITTLE BIT OF SENSE?? Should I just give up and become a horticulturist???

So anyways. That’s how it’s going.

Notes from the Revision Trenches

Yesterday, I finished Part One of my epic rewrite, and it was awesome, and I’m so proud of my changes!

Today, I remembered that I only have a few brainstorming notes about Part Two, and I don’t really know what I’m doing to it, and there is SO MUCH LEFT to rewrite it’s kind of giving me a headache. Yikes.

This is my third major draft of this manuscript—I first wrote it during NaNoWriMo 2006, and I rewrote it in 2008. I dearly love its core elements and I know I’ve already made it better, but WOW, the second half is going to be a lot harder than I thought. Not to mention I’ve yet to 100% decide on whether or not I’m drastically altering the ending…

In addition to the major scene changes and a vast amount of rewriting, I’m also trying to cut as many words as possible. I’ll be able to focus on that more once I have the whole draft down and can judge what’s working and what’s not, but the good news is Part One is 3K shorter in this draft than it was in the previous one, so that’s encouraging! I would dearly love this to end up around 90K, but if I’m being honest, I’ll be happy to get it down to the 100K mark. We shall see!!

On a side note, I’ve been rereading my NaNo part-of-a-novel from November, and while it definitely needs some help here and there, it’s a lot better than I thought. I’m digging it!

Okay. Back to sorting through this second half.

It’s January Already!

So, so, so, welcome to the second day of 2014! It’s sunny and seventies in AZ, which might make a lot of you jealous, but I really wouldn’t mind some clouds and snow and a roaring fire and some hot chocolate. I am drinking black currant tea with cream, though, so that’s something!

On the roster for 2014:

  • I’m turning 30 in twenty-five days. That sounds really old. 0_o (Obviously this isn’t a goal, just an inevitable event.)
  • Whale and the Tree revision. Hoping to be finished circa April, although this draft will need at least another pass after that. Really proud of my changes so far! I think it’s already a much stronger manuscript.
  • Another novel. Possibly another revision, possibly a reworking of last year’s short story idea, possibly something completely new. We’ll see!
  • I have a ton of books I want to read, including but not limited to: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Sorrow’s Knot, The Bitter Kingdom, Shadow and Bone, The Fault in Our Stars, Unthinkable, The Name of the Wind, The Night Circus, Reflections (Diana Wynne Jones on writing), and whatever else has yet to tickle my fancy! (Book suggestions always welcome!)
That’s it for now. More later if I think of anything! Also, my tea is gone, so it seems a fitting place to end.
Go forth and be awesome, everyone!

2013: The Year in Review!

Well, 2013 is just about over, and I thought I’d report on my goals for the year! Here’s my list from January:

  • Finish rewriting/editing Seer. It’s so close!!
  • Write something new.
  • Blog more.
  • Pay off my credit card.
  • Learn how to cook lots of delicious food!
  • Read good books!

 And here’s my end-of-the-year-accomplishments-list:

  • I finished rewriting Seer!! 
  • I wrote parts of something new, and might turn it into a novel when I finish my current rewrite.
  • Speaking of my current rewrite (though I didn’t list it as a goal on my blog), I’m nearly halfway through an epic re-haul of The Whale and the Tree, and I’m excited about it!!
  • Also not on the list, but I participated in NaNoWriMo this year and wrote 50K more for The Blind King. It’s not done yet, but it’s closer!
  • I blogged more, yay!
  • I paid off my credit card! Now working on my student loan and my husband’s credit card—we will be debt free eventually!
  • I learned how to cook a few things, so that’s good. 🙂
  • I read some awesome new books and reread some old favorites.
So, all-in-all, not too shabby! Happy New Year, everyone! 🙂

Once Upon a December

Happy December, all and sundry!

I’m wearing a SWEATER today, which makes me happy. It’s in the fifties and cloudy and looks like rain, which equals winter in Phoenix. Might be going up north this weekend to catch some potential snow, which would make me happy. 🙂

In update-ish news, I DID complete my 50K for NaNoWriMo. I finished on the 20th in time to enjoy a visit from my sister and her husband and to eat lots of turkey without writing-related guilt. I did not, however, reach the end of the book. There’s probably 15-20K left to go, and my outline is reaaaaaalllllly sketchy at this point. Not sure where it stands in Writing Project Priority currently. I’ll probably put off finishing it for a while, at least until I figure out the outline. I have reread parts of it already, and there’s some glimmers of good scenes in there, so that’s encouraging.

Also, as per my author bio in the last post, I’m participating in Pitch Wars, which is an awesome writing contest hosted by Brenda Drake, which you can read about here. I think I’m giving myself an ulcer by obsessing over the #PitchWars feed on Twitter…

Oh, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special was FANTASTIC, as was Catching Fire. Frozen is next on my to-watch list, I keep hearing good things.

So I guess I need to get back to the novel revision I put aside for NaNoWriMo… And after that, I’m thinking about turning my short story idea from earlier into the year into a novel. I think it could be really, really cool.

And that, as they say, is that!