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!

UK TRIP STAGE ONE: London


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

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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!

Silver Mines & Treason: NaNo Day 14

Well, November is almost halfway over already—not sure how that happened! You’ll be happy to know that my novel is sitting pretty at 32,774 words, and I’m on track to finish by the 22nd. Hooray!!
The story is progressing pretty well, although I’m afraid I might get to 50K before I reach the end… Currently, two of my characters are attempting to escape from the silver mines, one of my characters just discovered the (partial) truth about her mysterious parentage, and one of my characters is about to commit treason against the king… or maybe warn him instead. 🙂 I’ve been posting tiny excerpts every now and again on my NaNoWriMo profile page, for the morbidly curious.
In other news, saw Thor: The Dark World this weekend and LOVED it. Also went to NASCAR for the first time ever and loved that too, although it was Quite Loud. Coming up on the roster: JJ Heller concert this Saturday, and on November 25th I’m seeing the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special IN THEATERS. Sooooo excited!!! There’s also Catching Fire and Frozen coming out soon. Busy month!
Okay. I did the dishes. I wrote this blog. I really should stop procrastinating and get back to writing!!

Bonus Handsome Cat Picture:

So this is the New Year…

Hey everybody, just a quick post to let you all know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet.

Four things:

  1. I have writer’s block/no motivation with current projects/frustration with current projects/despairing of ever writing anything good again. It’s a vicious cycle.
  2. I read Tanith Lee’s The Claidi Journals over the Christmas holidays, and loved them immensely. Gorgeous prose, unusual and striking world-building, unique and stirring characters… everything you could ask for in a YA fantasy. The fourth book was a little bit of a let-down from the others, but still worth reading to soak in the strange beauties of Tanith Lee’s world, and find out how all the various storylines are finally resolved. The books are: Wolf Star, Wolf Tower, Wolf Queen, and Wolf Wing, respectively. Go hit up your local library or bookstore! That’s an order!
  3. The Doctor Who finale was breathtakingly awesome and heartbreakingly brilliant. David Tennant, John Simm, and Benard Cribbins all acted their proverbial socks off. A fantastic ending to a fantastic era of Who. The mighty D.T. will be thoroughly missed. 😦
  4. I’d like an agent for my birthday, please.

NaNoWriMo Day 18

As of last night, I have 40,033 words on Novel No. 2. That’s 1k shy of my word count for Novel No. 1 before I scrapped it, which means I’ve written 80,000 words this month. Yikes. I’m feeling kind of exhausted.

The Blind King is progressing nicely, I think. I’ve been outlining-as-I-go with the handy dandy notecard feature in Scrivener (oh Scrivener, how I love thee), and haven’t run out of scenes yet, so that’s definitely a good thing. I’m currently in the middle of Chapter Seven, and have scenes jotted down on virtual note cards through Chapter Nine, so the outline is progressing at a slightly faster rate than the draft.

I have no idea how long this thing is gonna be. Long, for sure. At this point I’m guesstimating somewhere in the neighborhood of 150k, though it could (and, knowing my track record, probably will) be longer than that. I dunno. We’ll see. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep powering through the rough draft after NaNo is over (it’s quite clear I won’t have finished by then), or shelve it for a while, finish rewriting the book it’s a sequel to, and work on rewrites for a couple of other novels. So many decisions.

But this is the most boring blog post ever (superfluous paranthetical remarks and all). Lemme see if I can remedy that.

Stuff that’s been happening in my novel:

  • Two not-quite-but-almost lovers are reunited after six years, the very day the female character accepts a marriage proposal from a different guy. They spend several thousand words shut up in a room together arguing about this.
  • A rather foolish sixteen-year-old boy gets himself lost in the mountains and captured by enemy soldiers. I’m sorry to say that a stint of enslavement in the silver mines lies in his very imminent future.
  • A princess being blackmailed into espionage has arrived at the palace of a newly-crowned king and (surprise, surprise), is beginning to fall in love with him.
  • An impulsive twelve-year-old girl is about to run away to the capital to try and uncover the secrets of her parentage.

And that’s pretty much that, as far as Novel No. 2 is concerned.

In other news, the Doctor Who special Waters of Mars that aired in the UK (and, er, elsewhere, if one knows where to look… :-)) on Sunday was mind-blowingly awesome. Words cannot describe.

And to top everything off, it’s link time!

  • Gail Carson Levine, author extraordinaire, has a fabulous blog filled with authorly insight and writerly wisdom. Some really awesome advice here.
  • Robin McKinley has a twitter. Robin McKinley has a twitter. Robin McKinley has a twitter!! I cannot emphasize this enough.
  • Duotrope’s Digest is a fantastic free resource listing over 2700 current fiction and poetry markets
  • I’m pretty sure I was going to link you to a couple of other sites, but I forgot what they were. Stay tuned.

Okay, I think maybe I’d better go work on my novel, now.

Onwards to 50k (and lots more paranthetical remarks),

Joanna