Aug 31


(Hurricane evacuation and vacation. Thanks to my brother-in-law for the term!)

Well, we’re up in D.C., safe from the storm, though we’re still obsessively checking the track of the storm and stressing a bit about what we’ll be coming home to (and when.) But I’m trying hard to be Zen about the whole thing. We’re all safe, Jack and I will both have jobs no matter what happens, and we have insurance. There’s nothing in the house that we absolutely couldn’t bear to lose, and the cats have enough food and water for damn near a month.

Our trip up here was easier than we expected. We encountered very little traffic on the way to the airport, and there was no line at the US Airways counter (a stark contrast to the lines at several other airlines that were miles long.) But US Airways doesn’t have too many flights out of New Orleans, so I guess there weren’t that many people who wanted to go where they were going. Dunno. I’m not complaining. It was a direct flight, which made it a lot easier on Anna. This was her first time flying, and she seemed to enjoy it, but I think a longer flight would have been pushing our luck with the boredom level of a four year old.

We made it to our hotel with no issues, got checked in, found food, went through Madame Tussauds, walked down to the Museum of Natural History, walked around there until we were all ready to drop, then returned to the hotel and dropped. I woke up early this morning, and grabbed my laptop and went down to the lobby to work on my revisions. In a few minutes I’ll go back upstairs to see about rousing everyone for brekkie.

I hope everyone along the Gulf Coast is staying safe.

Aug 29

Coming up for air for a minute

In addition to the usual stress of preparing for a family vacation, compounded by the projected path of Gustav–which means we have to batten down the hatches before we leave, I also received my revision letter from my editor last week, so I’ve been eyeball-deep in work for the past few days.

But now, the bags are packed, the house is clean(ish), the Stuff in the yard has been put into the garage or into the bottom floor of my Lair, and my manuscript is in my carry-on.

Therefore, since I have a few seconds of breathing space and I never did post any pics from Worldcon in Denver, I will give you all the one picture that pretty much sums up how fun and cool my Worldcon was.

(John Scalzi explains to me exactly how he won the “Best Fan Writer” Hugo award.)

Aug 27


Our labor day weekend travel plans have been adjusted slightly. We will be flying in to D.C. on Saturday, and returning whenever the airport opens up again. In addition to packing the usual clothes and toiletries, I will also be packing photo albums, insurance papers, birth/marriage certificates, and any other paperwork that is considered to be vital and difficult/impossible to replace.

It’s going to be a fun, fun weekend.

Aug 22

Thursday’s cooking class: Cooking Methods

Yep, two classes this week. (But I won’t get to go to any next week, so it evens out, I guess. Though I will be missing the class on “Desserts.” Waah!)

Cooking Methods learned: Searing, Sautéing, Braising, Roasting, Poaching, Steaming, Frying and Curing

The menu:

Salmon Cerviche
Lamb Stew
Tuna Nicoise Salad w/Nicoise Vinaigrette
Potato Croquettes
Poached Salmon w/Tomato and Basil Dressing
Fruit en Papillote w/ Ginger and Chili Sugar Syrup

Or, the pictorial view:
(Clockwise from bottom left: Salmon Cerviche, Salmon Cerviche arranged with mixed greens to look purty, Tuna Nicoise Salad, Lamb Stew, Potato Croquettes, Paoched Salmon)

And here is the Fruit en Papillote getting ready to go into the oven:

This week was probably my favorite menu of all of the classes I’ve been to so far. I can easily see myself making any one of these recipes again. I’ve already made several dishes from previous weeks, but some of the above dishes are easy (and healthy!) enough to go into a permanent rotation.

Definitely made of lots of heaping Yum.

Aug 22

Wednesday’s Cooking Class: Great British Food

Yes, we made all the jokes about “Great British Food” being an oxymoron. It was still frickin’ awesome!

Learned how to make:

Lancashire Hot Pot
Pickled Red Cabbage
Fish n’ Chips
Tartar Sauce (The BEST tartar sauce I have ever tasted. I usually detest tartar sauce, and I was scooping this stuff up by the fingerful!)
Toad in the Hole
Yorkshire Pudding
Spotted Dick and Custard

Aug 20

Sick Day

I felt crummy this morning, so I called in sick today.

Yeah, astute readers will remember that I work from home now and am my own boss, which, in fact, made it fairly easy to get permission from my boss to take a nap after shoving The Kid onto the bus. (Note: I did go home first before lying down for my nap.) I crawled into bed at 8:30, fell asleep at about 8:30:01, then woke up at 9:30 in an absolute panic because I was certain that I’d overslept and The Kid had missed the bus. Realized my error, called myself a moron, then went back to sleep until about 11:30.

I feel much better now. I have such a great boss.

Aug 18

Louisiana and Politics

Dear Louisiana politicians, especially those in Mandeville, Louisiana (you know who you are!):

Thank you for giving me more scandal-related material than I will ever be able to use in my fiction.

Hugz and kissez,


Aug 12

Worldcon: Days four and five and home again

I did forget to mention one thing about Thursday, which was my panel (SF and CSI.) This was the first time I’ve ever been privileged enough to be on a panel, and I think it went really well. The panel was gifted with an excellent moderator (Colin Harvey) who made sure that everyone had a chance to speak and give input and who also deftly steered the conversation back on topic when it drifted. Several people came up to me afterwards and said that they’d enjoyed what I’d had to say, so I guess I did all right. Anyway, it was fun and I hope to get the chance to do it again.

Saturday (which already feels like a million years ago!) started with breakfast with Mary Robinette Kowal and John Moore. I was scheduled for a reading and a signing that day, so I’d dressed in a nice skirt and blouse with some low-heeled MaryJanes. I had assumed that we were going to eat in the hotel restaurant, but then John said that he knew of a terrific restaurant that was about eight blocks away. I didn’t think I’d have any problems with 8 blocks since my heels were fairly low, so we set off walking.

73,236 blocks later we finally made it to the restaurant. My little toes had been lost somehow around 23rd street. I will say, however, that the food was terrific, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that my reading was at 10am and I was beginning to worry about making it back in time I probably would have enjoyed it even more. As it was, I hoofed it back down to 16th street (and where was a taxi when I needed it??) and snagged the free mall ride bus and then jumped on the rail line to get back to the convention center with about five minutes to spare before my reading.

I didn’t expect anyone to show for my reading, so I was incredibly pleased to have about a half-dozen people come in, including a couple of people I didn’t know. I read the first chapter of Mark of the Demon, and then read a portion of a later chapter (since I had the full 45 minutes to myself.) About halfway through the later chapter I realized that it wasn’t the chapter that I’d intended to read, which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal except that it had more sexual content that I’d wanted to read aloud. But, I couldn’t exactly stop reading in the middle of it, so I forged ahead, trying to feel comfortable reading aloud about nipples and wetness and the like and hoping that none of my audience members were uncomfortable listening to it. [grimace] Oh well. I finished up my reading session by reading my Writers of the Future winning story, “Schroedinger’s Hummingbird,” which was met with very positive reaction. I wasn’t sure how that would work as a read-aloud story (since it was a bit of a wonky structure) but apparently it worked pretty well.

My signing went well, especially considering that I had nothing to sign. But, I seeded the table with chocolates, and chatted with Jeanne Stein, and actually signed a few things (mostly Denvention programs) so it was fairly enjoyable. After that was the Hugo ceremony. Two out of four of the people for whom I was rooting snagged awards, but the two who lost did so by a shockingly small number of votes and both seemed pretty cool about the whole thing, so it was a pretty good evening overall. After it was over I snagged a taxi (because, damn, my feet were hurting!) and headed over to the Sheraton with some others to find Parties. We were successful in our quest for Party, but I am SO not a night-owl, and by about 11 I was fading badly. I made my excuses and ducked out, and grabbed yet another taxi and returned to my own hotel.

Sunday was far more relaxed. I snagged some breakfast at Einstein’s bagels, and then headed to the convention center to catch Daniel Abraham’s reading. Holy crap, but that man is talented. I would have to hate him, except that he’s awfully nice. After his reading I made a few rounds of the dealer’s room, picking up gifts for various people and starting to make goodbyes. By noon things were starting to definitely wind down, and I went over to the Hyatt Regency where I hooked up with Mary Robinette Kowal and the Australian contingent. A short while later Pat Cadigan and Ellen Klages joined us, and we had an eye-opening conversation about how every single one of us had at some point during the convention experienced an episode of insecure neediness, i.e. “Oh my god, no one wants to hang out with me, I don’t know anybody, these people are just talking to me to be polite, I should just go back to my hotel room.” Considering that some of the people making this confession were People made me feel a lot better about my own bouts of utter craziness wherein I became convinced that I was the most uncool person at the convention and my presence was tolerated at best.

I have never claimed to be sane.

By mid-afternoon people were starting to trickle off to catch flights. A group of us who were staying until Monday decided to go on a pub crawl which ended up being more fun that should ever be legal. (At one point I had to convince a few of the guys that dropping trou in the middle of 16th ave was perhaps not a good idea.) We spent most of our time at the first bar we stopped at, which had a truly spectacular selection of brews, including several varieties of cider which I enjoyed (since I’m not much of a beer drinker.) After a while, though, I expressed a desire for some form of chocolatey dessert, so Jim Minz led us down the street to another restaurant where we obtained chocolatey desserts and more drinks. I’m really not doing the evening justice, because I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. Truly awesome fun.

Monday morning was fairly uneventful with breakfast, checking out, and getting to the airport. By this time I was at the point where I was aching to get home, and missing my daughter and husband so much that it hurt. Fortunately my journey home was uneventful, and my family was delighted to have me home again. I know I’m not naming all of the people who need to be named, but I’m almost afraid to because I am certain to leave someone out. However, I’ll get some pics posted soon and hopefully apply some names at that time.

Aug 9

Worldcon: Days 2 & 3

Umm… I may have waited too long to post anything, because now I am trying to remember what I did the past two days.

The coolest thing on Thursday was definitely having lunch with my best friend from high school, who I have not seen in close to fifteen years. We fell right back into the comfortable ease that we had back then as if there’d been no break, chatting and catching up and roaming around the Tattered Cover bookstore. We, of course, talked about books and writing and she mentioned a few authors whose books she enjoyed. So, after we parted ways again, I ducked into the dealers’ room and snatched up copies of books from said authors, and then hunted them down to get them signed for her.

Later that evening I had a terrific dinner with Lee Modesitt, during which he was his usual charming, classy, and companionable self. After dinner we cruised through the ConSuite and sat and talked with some fans, but by 10pm I was already starting to wear out, so made my excuses and made my way back to my hotel. Without getting lost!

Friday was the Codex breakfast, of which I was the organizer, which had not involved much work beyond calling the restaurant and arranging to have room for 25-30 people and explaining that we were all going to have the buffet in order to make it easier (and avoid the nightmare of the Gigantic Communal Bill.) The breakfast went great, until the server dropped the check on the table. One check. For all of us. Sigh. So, I had to take the check up to the manager and explain that I had, in fact, called ahead of time concerning the separate check issue. It all eventually got sorted out, and I headed to the convention.

But first I called my friend up and asked her if she could break away from work for a couple of minutes so that I could give her some stuff (the autographed books!) She suggested a meeting place near the convention center (she works close by) and gave me directions, and I dutifully headed off. Unfortunately, I missed part of the directions and ended up having to clamber over a rail line and an embankment, and then had to pass the books down to her because I didn’t want to make the six foot jump down to where she was. It probably looked like I was passing contraband.

I had some down time in the afternoon, so I went down to the Sheraton and gave blood for the Heinlein blood drive, which made me feel very virtuous.

In the evening I went and watched the Masquerade, which I always get a huge kick out of since I used to costume. However, my attempts at costuming couldn’t touch some of the creations from the masters-level participants. I was totally blown away by several of the entries. Cool stuff! After the masquerade I made my way over to the Sheraton where the Tor party was in full swing. At least I assume the Tor party was in full swing, because I never actually made it to the Tor party. I stopped first at the SFWA suite, and found it to be just the right amount of crowd for my taste, and then after hearing about “The Smell” in the Tor party, I decided that I had no great pressing need to go on up. However, once again I proved myself to be a total weenie about the whole late-night-partying thing, and made my escape around 11pm.

Tomorrow I will do my best to post recaps of days 4 & 5, but I will say that overall it’s been a really enjoyable and fun convention.

More later. :)

Aug 7

Worldcon Day One

Note: Please be aware that the fact that this post is titled “Worldcon Day One” in no way guarantees that there will be subsequent posts titled “Worldcon Day Two” “Worldcon Day Three” etc. It may happen. It may not.

Day one:

I’d set the alarm on my phone for 3:45 AM wednesday morning, planning to leave the house about 4:45 since my flight left at 7AM and it takes about an hour to drive to the airport. I figured this would give me more than enough time to shower, dress, make myself purty, pack the last few remaining items, drive at a reasonable speed to the airport and have sufficient time to deal with parking, checking in, security, and any mishaps that might occur. (I’m a morning person, so 3:45 isn’t utterly obscene to me. Merely slightly obscene.)

Yeah, you can see this one coming, can’t you? The alarm failed to go off, since for some reason my phone decided to shut itself off during the night. I woke up at 5:15, looked at the clock and shrieked in panic. Somehow I managed (with the help of my wonderful husband who leaped out of bed at the same time I did and did what he could to help me get on my way) to shower in about ten seconds flat, throw clothes on, toss my last few toiletries into my suitcase, and hit the road by 5:30 with my hair dripping and not a stitch of makeup on my face. My husband shoved a bottle of Acai juice and a sandwich into my hand as I ran out the door with the admonition, “Don’t get any speeding tickets. It will slow you down!” Note that he did NOT say, “Don’t speed.” I do so love that man.

Luckily there were no traffic slowdowns across the Causeway bridge and I made it to the airport and through check-in and security with about five minutes to spare before my flight began boarding. I had to change planes in Houston–which I’d been a bit nervous about because of TS Eduoard, but luckily it had passed enough that it didn’t affect my flight. On the second leg of my flight I was asked if I would mind changing seats to allow a family to sit together, and of course I said I wouldn’t mind because only an utter a-hole would refuse, so I ended up in an exit row squeezed in the middle seat. And I think there were seventy-three kids on that flight, or at least it sounded like it, but I managed to bury myself in my book and tune out the fussing. I have a four-year-old. I’m a pro at tuning it out.

My suitcase was the first off the plane, and my supershuttle was ready to go when I got there, so I was feeling pretty cheerful and optimistic when I arrived at the hotel, with high hopes that I would soon be able to do something about the air-dried frizzy mess that was my hair, and the “natural look” that I was sporting with my makeup-free face. Because let me tell you something: me without makeup is a scary thing.

My room wasn’t ready. I should have expected this since it was before noon, but I’d been a tad too optimistic it seems. So I smiled nicely at the lady at the desk and asked her where the bathrooms were, whereupon I hied myself hither and made myself less scary-looking (and nicer-smelling too.) At one point I was attacking my frizz-fest with a curling iron and a lady walked in, giving me an odd look at my array of toiletries shamelessly spread out across the counter. “I’m not homeless,” I told her. “My room isn’t ready and I really needed to make myself presentable.” She smiled and said, “Well, I figured your suitcases were a little too nice for you to be homeless.” “Or perhaps I’m just really new to the homeless thing!” I replied.

Finally I felt that I was fit for human company, so I stowed my bags with the bellhop and hied my way to the convention center. Actually first I hied myself three blocks in the wrong direction because I totally misunderstood the directions that the concierge had given me, but eventually I did make it there. Once there I started running into all sorts of cool and awesome people (whom I will name at a later time when I can provide links and pics) and was able to relax and enjoy myself. Later in the evening I made my way over to the SFWA suite at the Sheraton where I managed to get off my poor aching feet and kick back with some pizza and conversation. Around 9pm I realized that I was about to hit the wall, so I made my excuses and began the walk back to my own hotel.

And somehow I got lost. I’m still not sure how it happened, and to be honest it sorta freaked me out a little since I usually have a frickin awesome sense of direction. Add the fact that it was drizzling rain and it took me about three different wrong turns and corrections to finally figure out where I needed to go. I even had a map which made it evening more puzzling to me that I got lost. I was also hyper-aware of the lateness of the hour and the fact that I was in an unfamiliar city, so I was doing my very level best to not look like a potential victim (i.e. I was trying to be subtle about my confused peering at maps and street signs.) Eventually I made it back to the hotel, wet and tired, made my way to my room and crashed with the full intent of sleeping until about 9am.

5AM my body woke me up. Damn internal clock.