Friday, May 25, 2012

NYC 2012 Research Vacation!

Just got back from a research vacation to NYC and Mystic, CT! I don't really like to tweet/post while traveling, but if I had, this is what my posts would have looked like:


Pouring rain, no umbrella, heavy luggage, and now we can't find a taxi. Obviously we're doing something wrong. Welcome to NYC?

Nice hotel! Ok, maybe things will be looking up now that we've gotten through the initial ordeal. And the guy at the desk is kind enough to pretend I don't look like a drowned rat!

Oooh, so MoMA is pretty fab. Starry Night is so much more powerful in person. And the Monet! How do you create something so huge and actually manage to make it look like something?

Just shared a gigantic sandwich at Carnegie's Deli. Tasted great, but I don't think I've ever eaten that much turkey, even on Thanksgiving. Not sure I ever want to look at meat again.

Times Square. Was here in August. Enjoying M&M World a whole lot more this time, maybe because I'm not quite so dead on my feet.

Um... so why is it that the nicer the hotel, the more ridiculously massive the pillows? My neck will not be thanking me tomorrow.


So apparently we just shared an elevator ride with Kris Allen. I didn't even recognize him. Too busy admiring his jacket.

Why is it so impossible not to fall asleep on a train?

We're here in Mystic! Trying so hard not to freak out about the fact that I'm about to see my inspiration for The Never Silent. Obviously failing.

The Morgan is under major repair, so she's de-masted, on land and under tarp. But we can still walk all around on and 'tween deck.

I can see it all so much better now! This is perfect! It's the right size, and everything is in the right location. I can't express just how right this is.

Extremely knowledgeable volunteer just came on board to answer questions. So much great information, plus her email address if I need more. Thank you!!!

Ok, so the rest of Mystic Seaport is also cool, just not as cool as the Morgan. And it's still raining. And we still have no umbrella.

Oooh, figureheads! Still haven't decided on the one for TNS.

And chanteys! Another detail that fits so perfectly into the story!

Ugh, it's POURing now. Fine. We'll buy an umbrella.

Oh, of course, the rain is letting up now.

So many books in the gift shop, and none of them *quite* what I need. Oh well, it was superfluous info anyway.

Seeing an old friend for the first time in 7 years. So great to catch up!

Ok, maybe not going vegetarian quite yet. We're in prime seafood country. Trying the lemon butter cod from S&P Oyster Co.

Why is it so cold on this train???

Oh hey, the decorative pillow is a lot less bulky than the others. Maybe this'll save my neck. Why didn't I think of this last night?


So now that we've bought the umbrella, what are the odds that we see no more rain all trip? Probably around 99.99%.

Bouchon Bakery for breakfast.

Taking advantage of the sun to go walking through Central Park :)

Reeling just from the quantity of exquisite art in the Met. So. Much. Monet. And I love every one of them.

Oooh, special exhibit of the Stein collection. Some early Picasso sketches that serve as further evidence that you can't start breaking the rules successfully until you've mastered them.

Taxi driver just stopped to buy bananas for his lunch and gave us each one. Probably the only fruit we've eaten all trip. Definitely earned his tip!

On Fulton Street. Trembling very slightly. Everything looks completely different now of course, but I can imagine how it might have looked in 1847.

Lisa's Pizza. Tastes incredible, great location.

So the South Street Seaport Museum isn't quite as informative as I hoped, but I still learned some useful tidbits.

Taxi back north is taking a while, and the video in back keeps playing this ad with “Mambo Italiano” background music. I'm never going to get this song out of my head. Nooooooo.

Eating at Pearls. (Chinese food.) Good eating for a really decent price.

Wicked! Wicked Wicked Wicked Wicked Wicked! Wicked on Broadwaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

O.O So so sooooo gooooooood. What an AMAZING show. Totally loved it. Defying Gravity was sensational.


Final taxi to the train station. “Mambo Italiano” again. Cringing.

Me: We're on a public train. You shouldn't be making a commotion. Hubby: It's a locomotion commotion. Me: -_-

Back home. And now it's raining here too. At least the cat is happy we're home :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Fascination of the Sea

I find it kind of funny how completely fascinating a subject becomes once I've decided to make it part of a book.

Back in 11th grade I did a brief report on Herman Melville, and after seeing him described as one of the best writers who ever lived I determined to read Moby-Dick “some day.” Every few years I would pick it up, read a chapter or so, and then never continue. It isn't exactly an easy book to get lost in.

But recently, owing entirely to the subject matter of my current WIP (tentatively titled The Never Silent), I've decided to read Moby-Dick for real. It was written only four years after The Never Silent takes place, and, like TNS, it involves a voyage on sea. So far I've read 100 pages, and I'm actually enjoying it this time.

In particular I've marked a few quotes that really struck me. Here's one, only a few pages into the book:

“meditation and water are wedded forever”

One of the things that makes great quotes so great for me is that I know immediately what the person is talking about. Perhaps for some people the above quote doesn't mean as much, but for me it immediately transports me back eight years and several thousand miles to a beach in northern Wales.

I was there for a weekend during the summer with a small group of other students. We were about to leave for Cambridge later in the day, but that morning we had some time and chose to spend it along the rocky gray beach. The place was deserted but for us, despite the city (Rhyl) being decently large, though I suppose the early hour and overcast sky made it less appealing.

A long beam of wood jutted out from the shore—a sort of pier perhaps, though it was hardly a foot thick. I walked out along it as far as I could go and stood looking at the sea.

I'm not entirely sure I could describe what I felt. Or perhaps The Never Silent is my attempt to convey that feeling of weighty nostalgia that consumed me there on the edge of the sea. It was almost as if the lonely gray water carried all the memories of all the world, and if only I listened closely enough I would gain something by them.

So when I read that quote in Moby-Dick, I felt all those memories once again crashing against the shore, and I remembered what the ocean means to me. It's a wild, unkempt place, and, at least for the duration of The Never Silent, it's the most fascinating place on earth.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Recommendation: Eon & Eona

First, if you haven't seen this list yet, go check it out: Recommendations of Non-European Fantasy by Women

One of the books on this list is Eon by Alison Goodman. Eon (along with its sequel Eona) was one of my recent impulse picks at the library. The promise of dragons and swords and deception drew me in, and I was quite happy to find that the plot did not disappoint.

Summary: Eon is has been studying for years in the hope of becoming the next Apprentice Dragoneye—chosen to forge a union with one of the eleven remaining energy dragons who protect the land and its people. Of the twelve boys competing for the title, only Eon can see all of the dragons, but then... only Eon has difficulty completing the drills necessary for training. Worse, Eon is secretly Eona—a girl, and therefore one who is forbidden from using dragon magic. But when the ambitions of another Dragoneye threaten to topple the Empire, a girl may be just what is needed in order to save it.

What I liked: Alison Goodman has done some beautiful world-building for these books. The dragon magic is particularly exciting and fun to read about. Magic in this world has appropriate consequences, and those are explored in interesting ways. The setting provides a rich environment for the plot, which is carried out through complex characters. Each character has individual goals and secrets which make for some great tension and intrigue.

Bottom line: Eon is a strong, rich fantasy, and its sequel (Eona) is even better.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Writer's Voice Contest!

I've just entered The Writer's Voice contest! More information here. I'm in good company--best of luck to everyone!

Per the contest rules, here are the plot summary from my query and first 250 words of Olympus Gate:


Plot Summary:

Annie always believed she was just another girl orphaned by the nuclear wars... until the anonymous package arrived on her doorstep. Piecing together the clues inside reveals that she was born thousands of years before in ancient Rome, and that time travel is possible. She discovers that she had a twin sister, who was murdered in 83 BCE.

When she learns of her sister's death, she realizes she has a choice—stay with the people she has known all her life or return to ancient Rome in the hope of saving her twin. What's more, Annie believes that by changing the past she could create a new future, one not destroyed by war, but that in doing so she would erase the lives of everyone she loves. Uncertain whether she is making the right choice, Annie travels back to Rome.

Now she's stuck in the past, hiding her true identity and falling for the guy who loves her twin. She can't find her sister. She can't figure out how to change the world. And as the ancient superstitions that led to her sister's death close in, she fears that she may run out of time for both.


First 250:

Someone told me once that before the end of the world apples were available year-round.  People could go to food stores and expect to find them regardless of the season.  Earth had a lot more apple trees back then.  A lot more people too.

The few of us who survived the apocalypse made a new existence for ourselves, one in which apples are only available in autumn.  I guess we're lucky--that Helsa Labs had the foresight to build this underground facility before the bombs fell; lucky we had the technology to preserve some of our way of life; lucky we rescued enough people from around the world (myself included) to have the genetic diversity necessary to prevent extinction.

But sometimes I think about life in the old world.  As I reach for the first apple of the harvest I wonder—would I like them so much if I could eat them whenever I wanted?

My hand closes around the fruit and immediately I know exactly how it will taste—tart for a gala, but with precisely the right amount of crunch in each bite.  A bruise mars the flesh—a surface wound only.  It doesn't reach the perfect core with its three teardrop seeds.

No... I don't know for certain, but three sounds right.

I pivot to scan Helsa's cavernous dining hall for a place to sit and jump as two lanky arms drape over my shoulders, the gold-skinned fingers grasping my fruit.  The vegetable soup in my left hand sloshes over my thumb.