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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

I return to the teaching fold!

Temporarily, at least. 🙂

I’m currently slated to do two teaching stints in 2020. The first is coming up soon: Pen, Paper, Action!, a one-day workshop at Clarion West in Seattle on February 8th. There I’ll be covering not just fight scenes in specific, but action more generally.

The second is later this year, during the Sirens Studio that takes place before the main conference. I’ll be teaching a writing intensive on creating religions for fantasy worlds — going beyond deciding who the gods are, and delving into how beliefs can be integrated into the daily lives of the characters. Sirens is a beautiful event focusing on women in fantasy; I haven’t been to the Studio before, but I was one of the Guests of Honor at the conference in its second year, and had an amazing time.

Registration for both of these things is limited, so if you’re interested, sign up soon!

In other exciting news . . . .

Woke up this morning to find out that Sylvie Denis’ translation of A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the Prix Imaginales, an award given out at the Imaginales festival in Épinal, France. I’m rubbing shoulders with Sofia Samatar again; as you may recall, her novel A Stranger in Olondria won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel the year ANHoD was nominated, and now Une histoire naturelle des dragons is up against Un étranger en Olondre. Congratulations also to Cat Valente, whose first Fairyland book is listed in the Youth category!

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this here or not, but: I’ll be at Imaginales this year, over what would be Memorial Day weekend in the U.S. and is just the last weekend in May for everybody else. Furthermore, since I’ll be going to all the trouble of crossing the continental U.S. and then the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll also be doing a signing at Forbidden Planet in London on June 2nd. In between those two things, it looks like I’ll have a couple of days to kill in Basel/Basle/Bâle, so if you know of interesting things to do there, do pass them along! It’ll be my very first time in Switzerland.

I aten’t dead

I came home from my trip with a broken toe and then promptly went down with a cold, so things have not been very exciting around here. Also I have page proofs to deal with. Page proofing while one’s head is filled with glue is fun times, lemme tell ya.

I have this vague ambition to post about all the ports of call on my trip, maybe with pictures. We’ll see if it happens. There’s no way on god’s green earth I’m going to get all my pictures edited in time for that to happen (I averaged 308 per day of sightseeing, which after an initial cull drops to a mere 191. Of which more will get deleted, I’m sure. But still); on the other hand, I might be able to pick out a couple of representative pics to clean up and post. None of that is happening while my head remains filled with glue, though. I mostly just want to nap. And stare vacantly at the TV. It’s very nearly all I’m good for right now.

Exciting news is en route, though. The sort of exciting news where I don’t quite know what it’ll be when I announce it, because right now multiple possibilities are up in the air. It makes my life complicated, but it’s a good kind of complication to have.

Absent With Leave

Normally I remember to mention this more than 24 hours before I depart, but: I’m going on vacation. 😀

My husband and I are going to Venice for a few days, followed by a cruise to Barcelona, stopping in Dubrovnik (home of many locations you might recognize from Game of Thrones — I’m looking forward to taking photos), Kotor, Corfu, Naples (saw Pompeii last time, so we’re gonna go to Herculaneum, eeeeee), Rome (bring on the Etruscan necropolis!), Florence, Monte Carlo, and St. Tropez. Three weeks door-to-door, and most of it the lovely laid-back relaxing kind of vacation you get when you’re on a cruise ship.

I will not have internet access for most of that time, so if you send me an email, don’t expect a very rapid reply. 🙂 When I get back, I hope to have some exciting publishing-related news to share with you all . . . .

most adorable fan art ever, Y/Y?

So yesterday I’m on my way to Borderlands Books for the last reading/signing event with Mary (the tour isn’t quite over, as I have BayCon yet to go, but I’m almost there), and I see that somebody has mentioned me on Twitter.

That someone is Victoria Ying, an artist at Sony Pictures Animation, who has worked on a couple of films you might have heard of: Tangled, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 (OH MY GOD HOW MUCH DID I LOVE THAT MOVIE). She has apparently read A Natural History of Dragons . . . and this is the result.

. . . it’s wee!Isabella. With a jar of vinegar. And Greenie pickling away in it.

<melts on account of adorableness>

Seeing that, and then reading to a packed crowd at Borderlands (it’s always a good sign when they run out of chairs), and then meeting this lady, who showed up with a dragon on her shoulder:

Honeyseeker at Borderlands Books

It’s a good way to (almost) end the tour.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation I Mean My Book Tour

Lady-Victorian

Because Mary Robinette Kowal is a mad genius, one of the stops on our book tour was the Oregon Regency Society’s Topsails and Tea event. And of course, if you’re going to go on a tall ship . . . you’re going to do it in costume, right? (Here’s another shot that shows more of the ship.)

In fact, I got to go on board twice. After our reading and signing on Saturday afternoon, we partook of the Evening Sail, during which I may have pretended I was Lady Trent on my way to see dragons. >_> And then before we left for Portland on Sunday, we decided to go back for the Battle Sail.

And, well. I had this other costume sitting around my closet, left over from a one-shot LARP, that I’d thought I would never have an excuse to wear again . . . .

Lady-Lieutenant

Yeah, I hauled a naval lieutenant’s uniform — bicorn and all — to Oregon, just so I could wear it on board a tall ship while there were guns firing. 😀

There’s another twist to this story, too. I didn’t realize, before I got to Oregon, that the ships involved in the Topsails and Tea event were from the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority: the Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington. Many of you may know the Lady as the Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean; some of you may have heard me rave about their “Two Weeks Before the Mast” program, where for a remarkably small fee and a fortnight of your life, you can volunteer on board and learn to sail. I’m intending to do that next year, as research for the book I’ll be writing after the Memoirs of Lady Trent are done, so this was a little foretaste of what’s to come. Between that and the fact that I was in uniform, I really felt like I ought to be doing more than standing around . . . .

Lady-Line

Yep, they’ll let you pull on a line or two if you ask nicely. ^_^ But really, this is what I’m looking forward to:

Lady-Aloft

Next year, my friends. Next year.

What a difference an empty seat makes

On the way home from World Fantasy tonight, I had the entire row to myself, all three seats, with my husband in the aisle seat across from me. I took advantage of this space not only to sprawl out and read a sizable chunk of Wolf Hall, but also to get some work done: 1500 words on a proposal for a Sekrit Projekt, and another 2300 on “The Unquiet Grave,” whose title has been hacked down to “Unquiet” for the time being. The only reason I didn’t finish was because my computer was almost out of battery and we were about to land anyway; after I got home and ate dinner, I parked my jet-lagged butt in the chair and knocked out the last 200 words.

So that’s a draft! Not necessarily a good one, but it’s easier to fix a story that exists than one that doesn’t. And it’s nice to write something for which I don’t have to do any research whatsoever: things like that are pretty rare for me these days. I’ll let it sit for a bit and then have some friends pull it to pieces, and then — wonder of wonders — I’ll have something new to send out!

Probably couldn’t have done it without those empty seats, though. It’s amazing, what a difference some elbow room makes.

Here and there (but not everywhere)

Made a haphazard stab at sightseeing in D.C. today. I had only about five hours to spend on it; getting myself to the hotel and then out to the National Mall ate the morning, and at this time of year both the museums and the sun close up shop pretty early. The Mall itself wasn’t putting its best foot forward anyway: this being the off-season, they’re doing returfing projects, there were temporary fences everywhere along with some tents (related to Election Day yesterday? or something else entirely?), the Capitol dome is wrapped in scaffolding, etc. Plus the weather was rather grey. From a photography standpoint, it wasn’t ideal, though I did get some pretty good shots of the Korean War memorial — the trees there had turned red, which harmonized nicely with the metal statues and the dark green ground cover.

But photography was one of only several things I’d come there to do. My top priority was actually research for Chains and Memory. There’s a scene that takes place at the western end of the Mall, so I wandered around Constitution Gardens and the Lincoln Memorial and the bank of the Potomac to fix in my head just how far apart everything is. (Answer: quite.) Then I needed food, and somebody had told me the cafe in the Museum of the American Indian was really good, so I walked more or less the entire bloody length of the Mall just to get a very late lunch — which, to be fair, was worth it. Bison skirt steak with huckleberry reduction, cucumber and some other things I forget in fireweed honey, a truly excellent salad of wild rice with pine nuts and watercress and cranberries and other stuff I couldn’t identify in a apple cider vinaigrette, and then some fry bread to top it off, because how can you not have fry bread?

Wound up spending the rest of my afternoon in that museum, because a) I was there and b) I like anthropological stuff. It’s not at all the kind of museum I expected it to be: I subconsciously assumed there would be galleries devoted to the various geo-cultural areas, i.e. Great Plains and Southwest and so forth, but it’s organized much more around themes. One gallery had to do with the cosmologies of seven different tribes; another was about treaties between the nations and the U.S.; a third discussed how contemporary Native Americans express their identity in the modern world. I don’t think I did the museum justice, but my feet were hurting and I was a little brain-dead; I will have to settle for the value I did get out of it.

I certainly did not do justice to the Mall itself, because I lacked the time and the energy, and the weather was on the dreary side. In tracking how long it took me to get from the north end of the pond in Constitution Gardens to the Lincoln Memorial, I managed to miss the Vietnam Memorial entirely. And I meant to stop at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on my way to food, but thanks to my calorie-deprived state I went right past the place where I should have turned to find it, and by the time I realized that it was much too late to backtrack. But given how many other things I missed in the area — e.g. every museum save the one — it isn’t like I can check “see the National Mall” off my bucket list anyway. I’ll be back some day, and then I’ll see at least a portion of the things I missed this time.

And now, World Fantasy!

Okinawa!

This is less coherent than I wanted it to be; I blame the narcotics. 😛

I went to Okinawa! As many of you know. The main purpose was a karate and kobudo (weapons) seminar; there was also time built in for sightseeing, which is relevant because Shihan’s planning to do another seminar in three years, but that one is intended to be all training, all the time. It is also possibly intended for a different time of year, because yare yare, the heat and humidity. I said I was going to be training in an un-airconditioned budokan; this turned out to be mostly not true, as Shihan got them to turn on the A/C for most of our scheduled training. But we also had one unscheduled afternoon block — about which more later — with nothing but a couple of very inadequate fans, so I got to experience something more like the full misery for at least a couple of hours. More than enough to be grateful it wasn’t the entire time, I can tell you that! (Though even with A/C, it was quite warm. Japan, unlike my home state of Texas, does not feel obliged to chill every indoor space to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.)

The prefectural budokan is an odd place: concrete walls studded with random bits of stained glass, highly functional but with lovely hardwood floors in most places, and then the exterior looks a bit like a stylized samurai helm. Our first day we shared the place with a swarm of children there for a tournament; we also saw a number of kendo groups come and go. It clearly gets plenty of use, and has three separate training halls as well as a weight room and a konbini and so forth. As for the training, it was both very intense and not. Each block was two hours long, usually without a break, and sometimes I was doing things like learning kusanku that drove me into the ground. But periodically Shihan would stop everybody to expound upon some point of technique or history, so you did at least get breathers. I suspect the experience was a bit more valuable for the people from Germany and Denmark and Spain and so on; people from our dojo get advice from Shihan on a regular basis, and are taught by people who are still being trained by him directly. The other RBKD dojo are a bit further removed, and so get that kind of guidance much more rarely. But it was very nifty to see them all, and to realize we truly are part of an international organization for the promotion of shorin-ryu karate.

Where sightseeing is concerned . . . I realized a while ago that I kept saying I was going to Okinawa, not to Japan. The difference matters. Those islands were only added to Japan in the relatively recent past, and culturally speaking, they have a lot of influences from Taiwan and China that make them distinct from the home islands (not to mention, of course, the indigenous Ryukyuan culture). We went to Shuri-jou, to Naminoue-guu, to Fukushuu-en, to the Churaumi Aquarium to see the whale sharks. We went to a small island called Kourijima, and that wound up not really working at all: I don’t know what happened, but we had nowhere near enough space for everybody who came. Shihan told us monks sleep on only one tatami mat; well, the American contingent had fourteen people in an eight-mat room, with no futon or even pillows. (Half the group ended up sleeping on the wooden porch; one of them got bit badly enough that he ended up going to the hospital to have the water blisters lanced.) So Kourijima got cut a day short, which is why we were back in Naha for an extra afternoon of training. But we were there long enough to have “beach training,” which Shihan ought to have called “ocean training” instead: he literally marched us into the water and made us do kata there. (It turns out that you can do the upper-body half of naifanchi shodan quite well while treading water.)

As instructed by my sister, I ate spam fried rice. I ate chanpuru (though not with goya). I ate Okinawan soba; I could not have avoided it if I tried, because it got served as a side dish with practically every meal I ordered. We got to see traditional Okinawan dancing at the welcome dinner; Shihan’s wife Tomoko-sensei is to Okinawan dancing what he is to karate, basically, though health issues mean she doesn’t practice regularly anymore. We bought CDs of traditional Okinawan music and also heard the same group sing “Let It Go” in Japanese. All in all, an excellent trip . . . except for the Kourijima part. 😛

And oh yes, there are pictures. Expect to see many of those in the days to come.