Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Off To Nationals I Go

Yup time to fly again. Bought new all singing all dancing American charger for laptop so hopefully will be able to throw a few blogs up in the next week...

But for now it's time to check out and say bye bye to San Diego and HELLO SAN FRANCISCO.

And hopefully I can find where Abby Green is... Otherwise I'll be sleeping in the streets...

Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to seeing this bridge for real!!! ;)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hi from the U.S. of A!!!

Nope, not dead. Having NIGHTMARE of a time with charging laptop thanks to brand new charger we invested in before we left home. It's taken three darn days to charge it up enough to do this so thats how much patience I've exerted because I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH!

Highlights of trip so far:

  • New York - LOVE IT as much this time as I did last time!
  • Walked across Brooklyn Bridge in over 90 degrees and LIVED!!!
  • Took harbour cruise to see waterfalls!
  • San Diego hotel is LOVELY!
  • Did trolley car thingie tour of San Diego!
  • Walked around Old Town in San Diego complete with cowboys, indians and saloons!
  • COMIC CON!!! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G- 140,000 people in one place and a MUCH BIGGER DEAL than I'd thought it would be to the city (more visitors than for the Superbowl I'm informed!!! City has to rearrange itself around it!)
  • Current hero inspiration David Boreanaz is GORGEOUS in the flesh and really really funny!
  • Family Guy team freakin HILARIOUS
  • Trish has major blisters and small case of sunburn...
And that's just a little taster!!! Now lets see if I can get you some pics to go with all that...

Back later but meanwhile top left we have Stargate SG1 crew..

Middle right the lovely David from Bones panel.... YUM!

And bottom left Joe Flanigan from Stargate Atlantis...

BOTH Male on Mondays from the PHS one might add...

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Joys Of Packing...

Okay. Just to prove that procrastination has equal rights in all corners of my life NOT just the writing part - I'm procrastinating about packing for my great adventure...

Now you'd think having survived last summer I'd be much more relaxed about this year, and I am... BUT (you knew that was coming didn't you?!) I don't want to repeat some of last years mistakes either. One that stands out clearest in my mind? Flipping laptop bag. Hauling it over my shoulder through SIX airport stops had me hating it with venom after...ooohhhh I dunno... TWO??? It has one of those extra paddy bits that's supposed to sit on your shoulder and make it more comfy. NOT SO MUCH. Cos the strap wouldn't stay straight inside the paddy thing so it ended up twisted and dug into my shoulder. And some of those airports my friends? Loonnngggg corridors! So this year. Laptop bag being replaced by nice comfy rucksack for laptop. So let’s tick that one off the list, ‘cos yes, we're getting to the subject of lists in just a minute...

As one does when procrastinating about packing. One Googles. You know - for advice. Hopefully from one of those effortlessly elegant women travelers who manage to go on holiday for a year with one carry on case the size of my toiletries bag. How do they DO that?!? When you're hauling a bag the size of a small London apartment behind you on wonky wheels while laptop bag digs into your shoulder and the heat is making you turn into something resembling me on a bicycle going uphill you can't help but HATE THEIR GUTS for that. Now first site I found had something to say I totally agree with:

There is a very simple reason why people go wrong with packing and it can be summed up by this fun game in which you, the lucky reader, gets to rearrange the following words: "it's", "because", "boring", "bloody", "it's".

Okay let's all just take a second to rearrange the words...Yuh-huh. Well yuh-huh and not completely convinced at the same time... Cos when you pack at least you know you're going somewhere nice. Then I hit the advice about lists. And EVERYONE seems to feel I should HAVE ONE:

It's not possible to overstate the importance of actually creating a personal packing list, and using it regularly. Such a list serves two principal purposes. First, it's a gentle reminder that if it's not on your list, it shouldn't be in your bag (because all the necessary items are on your list); this defends against last-minute attacks of "I might need this." The worst possible time to be considering what to take on a trip is while you are packing for that trip!

Now there are words of wisdom here. I'm extremely guilty of the sin of 'I might need this', particularly when I'll be away from home for a MONTH. This year I like to think I'll be better about this. Cos this year I KNOW that America does indeed have things like chemists and shops where I could find a sweater if I need one and I know I can manage with just the one universal overseas all singing all dancing adapter instead of three. The same site also said:

It's important to understand that you need a single packing list, not a new/different one for every trip. The purpose of a packing list is not to specify/record what you are taking with you on any particular journey, but rather to develop a model for your own travels, a constraint on your packing exuberance, a personal blueprint that you can refine over time (not change every time).

See I disagree with that. Three days in London won't need the same things as a month in America. Two days visiting friends isn't the same as a conference with several posh do's. Therefore I'm gonna assume A MAN made that statement and am gonna ignore it. Two T-Shirts, a pair of boxers and nasal tweezers might get HIM through all his trips no matter where to or for what length but for a GIRL. Nuh-uh! Then we got this:

It's no coincidence that aircraft pilots are required to complete a mandatory checklist — on each and every trip — before being allowed to fly the plane.

For all the many aircraft pilots I'm certain visit my blog; THIS SHOULD NEVER CHANGE. I still don't want to have to use the word PLUMMET anywhere on this trip! Using this to make me understand the need for a list however, may still need a little work. So this particular site then MADE ME a list that included the first tip of...erm... make a list. To which I shall add comments of my own...

  1. Make a list. Yes, you run the risk of turning into your mother, but then you can check off what you’ve packed and avoid the “do I have enough T-shirts? - I’ll just put one more in” scenario. It’s also a huge advantage if an airline loses your luggage. Just make sure you don’t pack the list in your suitcase. - Now the part about the airline losing the bag and me having a list of contents actually makes sense to me. Mind you, if that happens you'll hear the weeping and wailing from YOUR HOUSE. This person has obviously never seen my mother pack either. She packed for three kids and a husband - that's an art unto itself. Me, I can pack JUST FOR ME and STILL have the same amount of stuff... The just one more scenario, okay, yes I have a problem with that. Last year I took stuff that never saw the light of day. This year I'm DETERMINED not to do that. But no-one said that would be EASY. Even now I'm washing pretty much EVERY item of clothing I regularly wear 'just in case' (at least that way I have clean clothes to come home to, right?!)
  2. Leave space. If you’ve got an expandable suitcase like me, that’s perfect: don’t expand it until you are packing again to come home. That leaves a little space for the trinkets you’ve collected along the way and you won’t be stressed about your packing on the last day of your holiday. - Uh huh. Right. Yes I do have an expandable suitcase. And yes, it WILL be expanded. And even if it's NOT I know me - I'll just sit on it. And thanks to all the cakes consumed while writing this year I have the perfect sized rear for the job! The trinkets along the way excuse won't work either. Last year I simply bought a second case for them for the trip home. This year I'm planning on several hot and heavy dates with FedEx. But nice try point number two...
  3. Pack stuff to throw away. Instead of donating or recycling your unwanted clothes at home, take some with you and leave them wherever you end up. I often do this with old underwear, the kind of thing I would have thrown out anyway - you can get one more wear out of it, throw it away and lighten your load as you travel.- Can anyone else say eewwwww!!! I'm s'posed to take TATTY stuff with me and dump it when I'm done?! Who in the name of holy hell DOES THAT?! And more than that it's UNDERWEAR!!! Dear god - who IS this person??? I've now lost ALL FAITH in their list of *helpful* tips. Me? I've bought pretty much a whole new wardrobe from the skin out. And the outer wear is especially important cos I've already had to retire my black and white top from last year cos it's EVERYWHERE on the internet. People point a camera at you at Nationals approximately every ninety three seconds, those pics are then online and being beamed around the planet before you've changed into your jammies and collapsed after a jam-packed day of socializing and networking and drinking coffee and eating enough to merit two seats on the plane home. Take OLD CLOTHES? I-THINK-NOT.

So having left that particular site with a snort of disgust I went and found another one. Now this one ALSO makes a list for me. Slightly more helpful a one too I thought. So let's see just how much I'm planning on taking off that list shall we?

  • Travel insurance - YUP
  • Passport, identification, visa(s) - YUP
  • Address book - Erm... See now I think I NEED ONE.
  • Travel tickets, directions, hotel contact details - Oh yes indeedy. In a ziploc bag.
  • Cash (incl. foreign currency) - YUP. And will no doubt use ALL OF IT.
  • Travellers cheques - DITTO.
  • Credit card, debit card, ATM card - DITTO AGAIN
  • Map, guide book - Nope. I like to think cities have those when I get there...
  • Event tickets - In ziploc bag ;) If I lose that bag I'M STUFFED
  • Notebook, pen - YUP. Avec laptop in comfy rucksack

Actually that one wasn't half bad! Now we're GETTING SOMEWHERE. Then there’s:

Don't pack list items that are unnecessary for a specific trip: parkas aren't needed in North Africa, nor are shorts in the Andes (for that matter, shorts are culturally inappropriate in many countries); malaria tablets & a mosquito net are unlikely to be helpful on a trip to San Francisco; dressy shoes might be dispensed with during an Amazon river trek; and you shouldn't need luggage locks when visiting your grandmother in Manchester (unless she has proclivities that might dictate otherwise)

Useful tip about San Francisco there - but still doesn't help me any with the decision of what clothes to take really does it? I can see me doing a lot of hand washing while I'm away, can't you? Have I mentioned how many washing powders I'm allergic to at home??? Then we have:

Add items if you must, to address your business needs, hobbies, personal requirements, etc., but resist the temptation to add non-essentials. If you're thinking "I might need this", you're likely mistaken; if it's "I can't survive without this", you may be right. But consider it carefully and dispassionately. Will the joys of listening to Radio America really warrant lugging that short-wave radio? Do you truly need that 200mm lens? Perhaps, though I have yet to hear of someone returning from an extended trip who vows to take more stuff the next time out!

Some of my trip is for relaxation, some for research, some for business, some for posh do's, some for smart casual do's, some for meeting industry professionals, some for drooling - erm sorry, researching - potential hero types while satisfying my inner geek... Non-essentials for all that anyone??? Anyone?! The 'I can't survive without this' list is veerrryyyyyy short. Tho I reckon I can safely do without the short-wave radio and the 200mm lens. Probably. And DUH to the last line - that's ME. But STILL not finding any helpful tips here! Then I found an actual honest to goodness PROPER LIST that I could check off. Was there light at the end of the tunnel?

  • Suitcases, bags, luggage ID tags, luggage locks (not for checked baggage) - Well if I don't have all these already then why in heck do I need a LIST for packing? *confused*
  • Travel alarm clock - ahhhh the joys of technology. Included in my mobile phone. Yay!
  • Camera, batteries, film (keep in carry-on baggage), memory card - Yup. In comfy rucksack along with Sean T Leprechaun (yes he's BACK).
  • Mini sewing kit, scissors (keep in checked baggage) - Yup. In it's own little pouch...
  • Laundry bag, ziploc plastic bags, soap packets, Travel iron - Nope, just the one and it's now FULL, nope hotels soaps are always nicer and nope – nope we love hotels for that kinda thing too…
  • Book, magazine, playing cards, games, walkman / ipod - BookS (DUH!), airport shop purchase, Nope, nope, and yes - in comfy rucksack.
  • Sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, earplugs - erm nope to number one, blankie comes from nice international flight stewardess lady, have lovely fluffy pillow for traveling so yup and yup (the noise in cities is a bit of a shock to my system on the first coupla nights...here I can hear a pin drop...)
  • Socks, underwear – YUP
  • Trousers, skirts, shorts - YUP tho not shorts...
  • Shirts, blouses, t-shirts - YUP in varying colourways...
  • Swimming costume – YUP
  • Jacket, raincoat - erm nope – should that be a yes????
  • Shoes - *insert manic laughter* And lets just say YES shall we?
  • Pyjamas - YUP and unlike last year we're not taking a different set for sleepwear as opposed to the Harlequin PJ party set...
  • Dress, suit, tie, belt, cufflinks - Yes including posh one and TOLD YA a man had a hand in making this list!
  • Cap, sun hat, sunglasses - Nope to the cap cos I'm a hat collector. I buy a new one on each trip and they go on a nice display at home when I'm done. I bought a stetson last year ;) But yes to the sunnies. Nice Jackie O ones thankyou very much!
  • Comb, brush - One of. - I'll let you guess.
  • Shaver, razor, shaving cream - *snort* But from a female pov we're going through the agony of waxing this week so we'll say NO
  • Aftershave, perfume - 50% of this. Again I'll let you guess...
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash, lipbalm - YUP. To ALL.
  • Deodorant - goes without saying unless you're the kinda person who takes OLD UNDERWEAR on holiday with you I suppose...
  • Cotton buds - yup. But not in the box. See I'm learning. They go in a little bag inside toiletries bag...
  • Soap, shampoo, towelettes - travel sized. GO ME.
  • Towel, blow dryer, hair straighteners / curlers - Sorry. All barring the towel. But the rest ARE travel sized… kinda…
  • Personal hygiene items - yes cos I'm away a MONTH. Nuff said.
  • First aid kit, antibiotic ointment, alcohol wipes - yes but could I lose some of these that's the question?
  • Paracetamol, aspirin, vitamin tablets – Yes. All of them.
  • Cough Syrup, cold and flu medicine - read on...
  • Indigestion tablets, diarrhea medicine, laxatives - keep going...
  • Motion sickness medicine - By now I'm just thinking of packing an ACTUAL DOCTOR.
  • Insect repellent - Will I NEED THIS? I'm sorry. In Baywatch they never stopped to spray themselves from head to toe in repellent...
  • Sunscreen, after-sun lotion - Yup. Irish blonde haired gal WILL be taking these and she'll be buying MORE when she gets there!
  • Sandwiches, sweets, chocolates - I like to think I help keep airport cafes in business myself...
  • Water - ditto. And there are rules about this now anyhoos...
  • Tea bags - YES. Last year I had problems with this. And we Irish RUN on TEA. Well during the day we do. At night? We’re known to partake of the odd different form of libation...

At this point you understand I'm starting to believe I might actually know what I'm doing... What it STILL hasn’t helped me with is the dilemma of what clothes to pack. Cos I have a slight problem when it comes to the weight of my bag too… International allowance = 32kg. Internal allowance = 26kg. Now I can take a second case and I get more of an allowance BUT it'll cost me $25 PER FLIGHT. If I just chance my arm with the one case and I go over the weight? Up to $100. And that's PER FLIGHT.

Are we feeling my pain yet??? Sigh. So much for research

Oh and I'm having a RITA's dress crisis of confidence too. For all of you who have RITA dresses - cocktail or formal? Huh? Huh?

CYCLING UPDATE: I managed BOTH hills today - I may have to use the wheelchair option to get on the plane…

Monday, July 7, 2008

Seemed like a good idea at the time...

So the schools are out for the summer here. And that means I get to see more of my nieces and nephews before I fly away again. I kinda love that and the older ones are gradually coming out of the teenager from hell phase and into that period of their lives when they can hold a conversation without grunting. Niece number one turned EIGHTEEN at the weekend. I felt old. She had an all night fancy dress party to celebrate. Having briefly stuck my head round the corner I left feeling DECREPIT.

Then today my youngest nephew decided we should go cycling...

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I used to cycle. They SAY you never forget how. Both still hold true I've discovered. BUT...

Instead of looking or feeling like the picture top right, I was left feeling and probably looking exactly like the picture on the left. I managed a whole half hour. I didn't manage 50% of the hills we encountered. I apparently burned 600 calories. But I have a feeling that's the equivalent of the cake I had with my cup of tea before I went out. Now I thought kids were supposed to remind you of how it feels to be young. Instead I'm left wondering why the planet's energy problems can't be solved by utilizing ten year olds.

Doesn't bode well for my upcoming trip really. Suffice to say I won't be doing the cycling tour over the Golden Gate Bridge. Not if I can't manage some of our narrow little country roads here at home in Ireland. We're surrounded by roads like this one you see - perfect for cycling and horse riding and dog walking etc, etc. When it's not raining obviously ;)

If I can MOVE tomorrow I might try again. Maybe. We'll see. But NEVER have I been so aware of how much my change of career has effected my ability to MOVE. New writer beware!!! And anyone with small kids? RESPECT my friends. MAJOR RESPECT.

Now must pop out and get more cake for this evenings writing session...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Another Fly By...

And if someone can PLEASE explain to me why it is I have so much fun booking my summer trips and then feel physically sick a few weeks before I go PLEASE DO! What's WITH that?!

So while I swallow herbal Kalms tablets by the handful, try telling myself that I DO have enough clothes for this trip and don't actually need to buy more while angsting over the difference in baggage allowance between International and Domestic flights at the same time (yes I do know the one kinda contradicts the other but I'm panicking OKAY) - oh and attempt to FORCE my muse to get actual words down before I step on a plane...

I thought I'd do another fly by so you all know I'm not dead...

Few things:

First up I'm over at The Pink Heart Society today extolling the virtues of the movie Stardust.

Secondly the Modern Heat authors are all discussing whether or not Alpha heroes can have a squooshy centre. Pop by the Sensational Romance site to add your two penneth worth... And on this subject I found a jolly useful site for your menfolk... feel free to send them to bookmark The Art Of Manliness A little window into Manly skills for you right there. My favourites include the art of the manly hug:

1. Begin with a traditional firm handshake

2. Keeping your hand clasped with your buddy, wrap the left arm around the shoulder of your friend.

3. Slap your friend’s back two times. The back slap is key. Somehow hitting your fellow man makes the hug more manly.

4. Release embrace.

And thirdly let's talk reading books BY EMAIL. Personally I think I'm quite tempted by this. A chapter at a time would fit into my chaotic lifestyle quite nicely. I'm already at the computer twelve odd hours a day so it's kinda landing it in my lap. Plus I think waiting for each new chapter might keep me chomping at the bit to see what happens next... Mind you, it doesn't help any to get me AWAY from the computer. And it does mean if I want the new chapter RIGHT NOW it might add to the number of Kalms tablets I'm already swallowing. A dilemma. Great.

And the reason I'm talking about this? Cos two of MY BOOKS are available that way! And one of them is my Booksellers Best Award Finalist Her Bedroom Surrender! It's AMAZING the things you can find when you Google your own name...

Here's the low-down from Publisher's Weekly:

The latest entrant in the growing ranks of companies offering book content via mobile devices is DailyLit, a new company formed by husband and wife Albert Wenger and Susan Danziger. Unlike other startups, such as Mobifusion and Moka, which aim to get information to consumers' cellphones, DailyLit is using e-mail and RSS feeds to deliver book installments that can be read in less than five minutes. Customers can receive a feed at the same time every day and can get additional feeds if they want to read more of the book at a particular time.

AHA. Well that solves the want it now problem then. They also say the chapters can be sent to a 'customer's device of choice, be it a PDA, Blackberry or other player'. I don't have any of those so email addy it would be for me but even so. I find this FASCINATING. The book market has changed SO MUCH since I first sold and I'm still pretty new to this game. Kinda makes me feel old...

So how do we feel about this method of reading??? Yes, no, you'd try it... YOU TELL ME. As an author naturally I'm gonna say any way that gets books read is a good one ;) If you want to try it then you can join DailyLit's site HERE and if you want my books they're below my Bio HERE.

Right. As you were. I've been doing a manic round of sending books off to reviewers as far apart as the USA, Denmark and Malta and booking lots of online things for August/September for the release of The Millionaire's Proposal (been a long time since I did a big online promo for a book so am a tad nervous, especially since this book is so special to me) and of course naturally the copy edits arrived for my last Modern Heat this week too so I REALLY MUST do some ACTUAL WRITING now. Where THE HECK has 2008 gone to??? I remember twelve months being MUCH LONGER than this!!!