US Visit

I have just come back with my family (Jenny and daughter Erin) from the States, as part of a quality-time holiday. As a background, early this year I asked Jenny if it was alright with her that I took a week out going to World Fantasy Con 44 in Baltimore – a big deal as Erin is autistic and at times she is high maintenance (not to suggest this is endemic). Jenny’s response was well played and I liked it – why not go to LA for two weeks, and I can do a quick fly-in/fly-out to Baltimore for the Con. Plan set and paid for.

Baltimore was amazing and my first world con. Highlights include:

  • Having a wonderful dinner at a seafood restaurant with Kaaron Warren, Joe Haldeman (and his lovely wife and sister-in-law), Janeen Webb, Dena Taylor, and many others.
  • Seafood was a highlight in itself.
  • Meeting so many great writers, and developing almost instant-friendships.
  • Attending insightful and entertaining panels and presentations (particularly liked Kaaron’s Australian landscape presso)
  • Visiting Edgar Allen Poe’s grave (and the atmospheric gothic church next to it)
  • Being able to impart (and take on) quality publishing/distribution knowledge among peers
  • And on an important professional level, successfully pitching two writing projects that still need to go through an assessment process, but have progressed beyond my expectations. More on this if they bear fruit.

Yes, Baltimore was fantastic (the domestic jet hopping was another story) and professionally, very important for me and my publishing imprints.

I viewed the LA wing of the holiday initially as an emphasis on having Erin experience the time of her life – and it worked. But having said this, boy I had a great time. Disneyland and Universal were mind-blowing, particularly the virtual rides etc (I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean 4 times, as I did the Harry Potter virtual), and I can honestly say Disneyland does make you feel happy. We bought tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party, and it was worth every cent – at 6pm non-ticket holders left Disneyland, leaving thousands of partygoers (as opposed to tens of thousands of visitors) and rides ended up having queues lasting but a few minutes in many cases. I left the party early to connect to a flight to Baltimore, but Erin and Jenny partied beyond Midnight.

Erin loves basketball and is a fan of the LA Lakers. Managed to get tickets to a home game and the three of us had an amazing extravaganza presented to us. Again, well worth the investment.

We visited the Tar Pits and other notable attractions in LA. We even experienced Target US and Walmart shopping in Burbank. That was an experience.

LA is a huge, bustling city but we found everyone we met were friendly and upbeat. We felt welcomed and it did make a difference.

We most certainly will come back.

Personal: Holiday Time

In the last leg of our holidays, we are staying in the Gold Coast (Broadbeach in fact), and we are a little over halfway through that. It has been enjoyable (aside from some sad news about one of our aunts), and Erin is having a ball. Not getting a lot of editing and writing done, but this is probably what the doctor ordered. We are absolutely tiring our little one out each day – she is practically a zombie, her panda eyes are half closed by bed time, but this is great for her, and for us. This is important to help her gross motor skills along, as well. Every day we swim in the pool (more than once on most days), and we always find something to do – shopping trips, White Water World, the movies, the beach, etc. Also, thankfully, while it is hot up here, it is ironically much worse down south where we live (not to mention bush fires).

All in all, looking forward to the last 5 days, prior to our return home.

Special Time

Yes, I just finished the day job and it is Friday evening. Not going back to work until 5 January. Have some Christmas commitments, and will enjoy time with the family. And I will write, edit, outline, etc. Yes, it is a special time.

Want to finish the high level outline of Bitter Creek. It is starting to take over all my spare time of thinking, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, due to stupidity on my part, I left some of my resource material in a chest that is stored away until my house is built – we are talking July or August 2011. Oh well.

Good Break

Had a great week in Fiji as well as a restful five days in the Gold Coast (southern Queensland, Australia). The Fiji wing was much better than expected as it was idyllic, the weather was perfect, and the resort was uber-family friendly (Erin was assigned a nanny from 8am to 9pm each day – which we didn’t fully utilize of course). The journey there was interesting, as was the return journey – another story to tell.

Tomorrow we fly to Melbourne, take another day off, and I am off back to work on Friday. I can honestly say that I couldn’t have recharged my batteries better in a fortnight break.

Oh, and I wrote two short stories that I’m very happy with.

Good start to time off from work

Very good start.

Today is my first day of 14 off from work which allows me a much needed break. We are packing today and late tonight we fly to Fiji (Nandi) and then shuttle off to another island soon afterward. Then 6 days on an island paradise.  After that, a few extra days in the Gold Coast, which will also be very relaxing.

Also, got my short story, David Rorshach’s Dream Comes True, accepted for Sonar4 Publication’s anthology, For The Oceans. The revenue goes to a worthy cause, but it is nice to get my unusual science fiction accepted for it. It made me happy indeed.

I will be on the Internet here and there during the day, but then there will be a black out for me in terms of online – so have a good 10 or so days!

A Welcome Time Out

Boy oh boy have I had a nasty 10 months, in terms of work, and I needed to recharge my batteries, even if it is only partially. Jen needed a break too (having to cope with me being crabby some of the time), and so a few weeks back we booked for two nights what appeared to be a nice cottage in Lorne, Victoria (on the Great Ocean Road – facing the prodigious and windswept Southern Ocean).

We left on Friday morning and came back Sunday afternoon – two nights and essentially two days, and despite the short nature of it, and pretty horrible weather, it was absolutely wonderful. Nothing refreshes me more than the smell of salty air, and the sounds of waves breaking on rocks and on the beaches. I will one day live on the coast, I swear it!

Erin loves water of any kind, and particularly beaches, so she was in her element – perhaps too much so! Our first visit to the beach was without any appropriate clothing as it was windy, rainy and cold, but yes, she insisted on paddling her feet in the shallows, and yes, she fell over backwards and got soaked and sandy! Fun nevertheless.

Lorne is a pretty nice place, but expensive – as it is close enough to Melbourne (2hrs) to have a steady stream of clientele (such as my family) and far enough away to ask for premium prices for everything. Having said this, they had great fish and chip shops, bakeries and restaurants, which really do go well with the type of break we wanted. By coincidence, Lorne was having what Bondi has been famous for – a large sculpture exhibition running along a long stretch of the beach front, as well as among the beach-facing shops. Fifty of them, and some were massive! Not all the artwork was stupendous, but there were enough that were pleasing to the eye or thought-provoking enough, to add value to our trip.

I promised myself that I wanted to spend more time with my family and do ‘family things’ than writing, and I kept it. In fact, I spent no more than about three hours writing, and I finished a particularly difficult chapter in my YA novel, so it was concentrated goodness. No regrets – my family is more important than anything in my life.

So here’s a few photos for your perusal. Hope you get a sense of our enjoyment in that narrow window of opportunity.

Erin on the beach, playing in the sand

One of the sculptures.

Another sculpture.