The State of the Author Beast

My darling Gentle Reader, Live Journal appears to be, sort of, back up and running. I'm having difficulties loading up new images but I'm going to take this as a momentary opportunity to give you all a quick update.

I'm working ever so hard on the edits for Etiquette & Espionage the first Finishing School book. I really need to focus on them. As a result, I'm taking Serious Measures to fee up some time.
  • I'll be less online for the next two months. Or at least more sporadic. As ever, I allow myself the luxury of lurking about on Twitter over tea, and I'll be poking about groups and blogs during those phases when drafts are back with my editor.
  • Don't worry I will keep the Facebook and Twitter feed updated, I just may not respond very quickly to comments and queries.
  • Retro Rack, which is my necessary brain break, will continue unhindered (2 times a week)
  • Don't worry, I have posts for this blog in the works, but they may not be quite so frequent. Please bare with me?
  • Yes, Lord Akeldama is planning on hijacking this blog for his advice column, so for those (many) of you who have asked questions, he is coming back . . .
  • I'll be declining online interviews and audio interviews for the time being (unless already arranged). Please know I am always flattered to be asked, but right now I have to write my books rather than blogs. Please be kind enough to ping me again in October or better, December?
  • If LiveJournal sorts itself out there will be fresh content, it's just likely to be shorter and more image heavy for a little while, that's all. Sometimes it may just be the Daily Dose.
  • If LJ does not sort itself out I will still be posting on BlogSpot.
  • This has been such a pain (along with increasing other LJ problems) I am considering a permanent switch. Or I may take up some other blog handler. All will depend on coding the ghost to my website and various other minutia I don't have time to deal with right now.
Thank you so much for your patience, I promise Etiquette & Espionage is totally worth it!


Random Moment of Dear Gail

Live Journal is still down (for me) Gentle Reader, so I'm switching to BlogSpot for the moment. This is my back up blog location (for future reference) anyway. Look at me, using it for actual backup, amazing! Actually this was a perfectly fine time for LJ to go down, in my life anyway. Not a lot is going on. However, I didn't want to leave you hanging too long so I give you a random moment of Dear Gail . . .

Received in my Calling Card inbox a few months ago.

Dear Gail,

I was wondering...
do you have a favorite wall paper pattern
what is your favorite light bulb
when did you first fall in love
just wondering...

I am very fond of black and white stripes. It is my dream, one day, to have a living room that is entirely black and white. Perhaps with an occasional red accent here or there.

As for light bulbs I'll go for anything bright, fluorescents these days. Both my parents have some strange addiction to low watt light bulbs, 60 or bellow. While I appreciate that a 100 watt bulb is bad for the environment, I enjoy seeing what I am doing. I write, read, and sew and I'm unwilling to torture my eyes with dimness while pursuing these activities. Good lighting is not an option, it is a moral and physical imperative.

I have loved quite deeply, but being in love came late to me. It's mainly terrifying in my opinion. I don't like being responsible for another person's emotional well being. I got over it eventually.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .

Timeless: Working copyedits.
Etiquette & Espionage: The Finishing School Book the First: Fourth draft turned in!
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

Book News:
Lord Maccon fan art from MaryTriste.

Quote of the Day:
"But perhaps there is nothing more convenient that the ordinary indiarubber air cushion, which has the advantage of all others in point of portability, since, when emptied, it lies flat in an infinitesimal space, or will roll up into an ulster pocket, while a few seconds serves to convert it into a plump but yielding support."
~ Lillias Campbell Davidson, Hints to Lady Travellers, 1889


Adventures with Jack Fruit

You may, Gentle Reader, before we start, cast your mind back to my New Years goals. Or not. I mean, why would you remember mine, you have your own to contend with?

Anyway, one of mine was to try and eat a new fruit/vegetable each month. Fortunately for me I spend a good deal of my time in San Francisco these days, wherein a goodly number of peculiar flora lurk amongst the Drinks with Stuff of various Vietnamese/Chinese/Japanese markets.

Witness the following scene. The AB and I wandering the neighborhood.

Gail spots a massive great ruddy fruit. "Oh, lookie lookie!"
AB, "What is it?"
Gail, "Jack fruit!"
AB, "Are you sure it doesn't want to take over the world."
Gail, "Honnnnneyyy, can I buy a Jack fruit?"
AB, "How will we get it home, it must weigh 40 lbs?"
Gail, "Pleeeeease?"
AB, "Sigh."

It was quite the workout getting it home. Here we are with our Jackfruit baby.

Oh but this is only the beginning of the saga. You must properly appreciate how huge this puppy was! Here is it with a standard cantaloupe and a wine bottle for scale.

I, with my usual disregard for life and limb, grab up a cutting board and a knife and slice in.

The AB, a most Professor Lyall-like individual, goes to hunt down information on the internet on the appropriate ways to tackle a jackfruit. He finds a video from a fruitarian, which he insists I watch, and further information indicating that perhaps I ought to don some safety gear. Out come gloves and an apron.

Gail goes for broke! And lemme tell you, Gentle Reader, I was really sawing at this tough sticky thing. I nearly lost a finger. Sweat and tears!

Here I am pointing out the reason for all the effort and the stickiness and the gloves: Jackfruit is a source of natural latex. We had to stop and coat things in olive oil. (Knives would prove impossible to clean.)

And for the next 2 hours I dissected that jackfruit. Extracting fruit pods, seeds, and, lots of unwanted latex.


The fruit is chewy and not very juicy but tastes exactly like juicy fruit gum. It's very sweet and overpowering. I ended up freezing most of it and now it's promised to my friend Paul (the inspiration for Tunstell) who is going to try to turn it into a booze of some kind.

I boiled the seeds to see what they tasted like: Basically dry chestnuts.

All in all not an unqualified success.

The AB's opinion. "At least I will have an interesting story to tell at work on Monday."

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
In which a bunch of us answer the question, what fictional character do you wish you had come up with first?

Timeless: Working copyedits.
Etiquette & Espionage: The Finishing School Book the First: Fourth draft turned in!
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

Book News:
Lord Akeldama takes you on a tour of Alexia's London of Deadly destinations and a chance to win Heartless.

Quote of the Day:
"I never wanted to be a writer. I don’t want to be one now. To me, writing is not an occupation; it’s not a job; it’s not an avocation. It’s a response to life. I’ve never understood people who say, “I decided to be a writer.” That’s like saying you want to be a pine tree. Either you are a pine tree, or you are not."
~ Gregory Mcdonald


Convention Packing Tips

I have already covered the pros and cons of attending cons, from my perspective perspective and career point. I have also ranted about proper attire. Here's Apartment Therapy on the subject of 9 Air Travel Must Haves. However, most of us drive to local cons which means packing space to use!
So, Gentle Reader, driving back from a writing date recently and listening to Mur, I realized I always travel with a Convention Survival Kit. I though you might like a peak at it . . .

I have several versions, all of which live in this American Touristor.

On the top level of the Touristor live the following.

Left ~ Sparkles!
~ octopus jewelry (I always want to have something on my person)
~ parasol protectorate jewelry
~ the infamous pen necklace *

Middle ~ Emergency Supplies
~ tea, both English Breakfast and raspberry leaf *
~ creamer (for emergency use only)
~ marmite of course
~ mints, I'm talking to people all day, it's only respectful
~ c-gummies for immune defense

Right ~ Business Good
~ utensils
~ card holder, with business cards, OLD drivers license (this is a trick from Faire - no one looks at the date and that way you have ID on you), and SFWA membership card *
~ notebook for panels *
~ spare pen
~ blank thank you cards, for program head or super cool person as needed

Long ~ Miscellaneous
~ fans
~ hat pins **
~ more business cards
~ lint brush
~ binder clip (because you always need one)
~ extra perfume (it's emotionally important to me to smell nice)
~ PP badge
~ Airship Ambassador ribbon ~ because Kevin is awesome!

Under that level are all my other travel needs. Adapted from years off to archaeological digs.

~ spare sun glasses
~ spare glasses
~ spare business cards
~ the shoe tote (a collapsible tote for transporting stilettos too and from convention center while I wear flats) useful for other stuff as well **
~ hairspray **
~ scarf for if hairspray doesn't work
~ wet-ones for a quick tidy on the road
~ spare cutlery
~ blister fixit kit
~ water boil coil **
~ umbrella **

* These migrate to my "If You Take Nothing Else" bag of I have to pair down for air travel.
** These tend to also come with me if needed for outfit and weather

Which brings me to this. This little kit is always with me. It's the one that gets popped into my carry on even if I'm only going overnight to a signing. If you take nothing else from this blog post, this is my "If You Take Nothing Else" kit for con survival, Gail style!

~ shower cap
~ ear plugs (never know what floor you'll be on, or your neighbors)
~ Airship Ambassador ribbon (did I mention Kevin's awesomeness?)
~ painkillers and a carbon pill
~ retractable badge clip (I hate lanyards, they always clash with my outfit)
~ seam ripper
~ tiny sewing repair kit (I wear vintage)
~ zit zapper (I wear makeup)
~ clear nail polish (I wear stockings)
~ another spare perfume (smelling good = very important, did I say that? Well it is!)
~ more blister care needs
~ bobby pins

This is in addition to my usual makeup bag, toiletry bag, hair needs bag, and hatboxes.

So there you have it, my convention survival packing. Of course, I shoudl never presume that you would take the same things, but perhaps I have tipped you off to a few that you might have forgotten. Here's the Domestic CEO on how to pack.

Gail from the future (August 2015) gives this glimpse of her 2015 Convention Attending kit.
The convention kit. L-R, T-B = promo postcards, pens for signing all books, special cards
to give away to kaffeeklatch, small notebook, name tents, newsletter sign up sheet,
business cards, book covers (first in each series), kit bag.

Speaking of conventions: here's an Interactive Convention Map.

Gail's Daily Dose
Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
How to Undress a Victorian Lady in Your Next Historical Romance
Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Sam blogs in his indomitable way, about coping with reviewers. I particularly like the bit about the fish. Funny boy, Mr. Sykes.

Timeless: Working copyedits.
Etiquette & Espionage: The Finishing School Book the First: Fourth draft turned in!
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON'T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven't read the other books first!

Book News:
Guest blog over on Full Moon Dreaming. Julie asks me, "Has your interest in steampunk affected the formation of your characters, what with Victorian mores and all? Can you speculate as to what they and their relative relationships would be like had they been born in another time, such as today?"

Quote of the Day:
"Therefore, the so-called 'Etnas,' or apparatus for quickly supplying boiling water, are most invaluable, and no lady traveller should be without one of these truly indispensable articles."
~ Lillias Campbell Davidson, Hints to Lady Travellers, 1889