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Sunday we moved from the wonderful Hilton at the Airport (with its tea and coffee making facilities) to Hotel Arthur via the train. But first, the buffet breakfast at the Hilton was to die for. My daughter who is vegan was amazed. They had seeds and nuts and she was over the moon about them. I discovered a local specialty-rice pancakes.

So to prepare for out trip to the city we did a reconnoiter sans luggage. Pushing and carrying that much stuff is exhausting to getting the lay of the land first was a good plan. Also we didn’t need to check out to 12 and we were awake and in need of exercise. We walked back to the airport terminal and spotted one of the little supermarkets I had read about in the Progress report. There I bought a SIM for my phone that gives me phone and internet access. Yay! I did not need to sign a register or give out all my life secrets to obtain a SIM card. So different to Australia.

Then we went looking for the train. We had to get directions being brain dead with jetlag. We discovered we needed to use the lift to get down and found that too. Then we had more tea before doing the deed. The trip into Helsinki was lovely and smooth on very new looking trains. Our accommodation was within walking distance of central station. I admit to getting lost but fortunately my daughter, Beans took control. The Hotel Arthur is a quaint old place. Our room was ready early and we negotiated the lifts, which looked like fridges and were as big as a fridge too and found our way to our room.

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Lift that doubles as a fridge

The room is as cute as a cupboard. Inside is just right for us and the shower is really good once you figure out the handwaving technique to get it started (it has a sensor switch) and stop crying when it turns itself off.

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Our little room at the Hotel Arthur

The only downside is there is no hot water jug or tea making facilities. I find the lack of tea making facilities disturbing…

We went downstairs and begged for some hot water which we transported in paper cups to our room. I feel now that I am getting acquainted with my uncaffeinated self. I’m telling myself while I sip water that I shall be improved in health after I have totally got used to not being able to sip tea in bed in the mornings. Meanwhile, I’m pouncing on coffee as I find it.

Our big plan was an outing to Tallinn, Estonia, which is a couple of hours by ferry from Helsinki. Our first plan was to look around but at the same time work out where the ferry left from and time how long it would take to walk there. So we headed off. It was quite a walk, around 35 mins. Longer going there because we didn’t know where we were going.

Helsinki is so lovely. We walked down to the docks and we bought giant mutant black cherries grown in Holland. Actually, probably not mutant but so big, they were like small plums and so yummy and also blueberries. There were lots of things to buy but we didn’t. Mostly because our flights to Iceland involve 15 kilos checked bags and it’s going be tough with what we have. Looks like no shopping until UK in the last two weeks of this odyssey. I’ll put up some photos of the walk. We found the Viking Line Terminal and then timed the walk back with some adjustments for time out for photos. We figured we needed 30 mins to walk to the ferry, allowing half an hour for check in time.

Cue photos of Helsinki

 

 

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Then we went for dinner at a Nepalese place close by. It was so good and so much food I was fit to burst. Then we went to bed early. Like 9 pm. It was still light outside.

Man, that night was the longest of the longest nights. I woke up at 1.30am thinking it was 5 am. Then I woke up on the hour and couldn’t really sleep. By the time Beans woke up I was exasperated. We had breakfast at 6.30am so we could start our journey on time. We had booked breakfast on the ferry so we planned two breakfasts, mostly because we didn’t know breakfast came with the room.

The hotel breakfast is not as luxurious as the Hilton but it is still pretty good. Rice pancakes, little franks, meatballs, scrambled eggs etc. Loads of bread of all kinds. You could seriously eat yourself to death with the bread. Coffee. Tea! Cheese, salami, fruits, yogurts, porridge etc. I took a food photo so beware.

Then we set off at a quick pace for the ferry. It was faster than we expected, but it was weird. The terminal was pretty quiet. We arrived to find our ferry cancelled. OMG! Cancelled? Something we had not anticipated. Technical fault the Viking Line said. And the next trip was 11.30 am and already fully booked. So we were told to find one of their competitors. So we sat in terminal thinking up what to do next. In the end we went walking on the other side of the docks looking for an alternative. It did not help that there were no people. Everything was closed. Then we realised that you need to book online that people did not come at 9am. We also couldn’t read the signs so we just couldn’t work it out. It was very frustrating and disappointing. Finally we tried booking online as there was a 10.30am ferry. But the Direct Ferries site wouldn’t let us book for a ferry leaving that day. Then we tried direct to the provider site but it wouldn’t let us book that one, only the 1.30pm one and we tried that but didn’t work either. Then I googled Catamaran and found the Linda Line. We’d been at the Linda Line terminal earlier but didn’t understand the signs and didn’t think they did Tallinn (but they all do we realised later). So we tried booking a 10.00 am trip and we got it almost booked then my bank wanted a netcode to authorise the transaction. I was on my Finland sim. Oh no! We were so close.

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Spotted this while searching for a ferry to Tallinn. Thank you Helsinki!

We decided to hurry to the Linda Line terminal to book in person. Only one person there doing check in. No sales booths. I’m nearly in tears, Beans tries to book with her credit card. Meanwhile people are queuing to board the 10.00 am and we are in the check in line. The transaction goes through and we could line up.

Yay! Celebrations. We were on our way to Tallinn and we could meet up with Cat and Jonathan and Aidan after all. It was a bit choppy. The catamaran is small. All was doing fine and I checked the time 11.18am. I thought it will be over soon as the advertised time was just over 1.5 hours. That was highly optimistic. About this time, the catamaran turned into vomit fest. Kids puking and the poor parents. Then a guy behind us starts to go and the smell hits us. Beans and I leap out of our seats. Me being sympathetic and all start to feel unwell. Beans can’t sit down. I go out the back. It’s a bit bumpy and wet but it was better than heaving. I spent the rest of the journey clinging to the rail and watching the horizon. I visited the loo before disembarking and there was vomit on the carpet and the walls. Oh dear.

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The Karolin-Catamaran

Tallinn

What a lovely place! I could have bought such cute souvenirs but as stated previously baggage allowances prevented it. Here we had lunch in middle eastern food.

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Me at the restaurant

It was so good. Beans enjoyed hers and I had beef with peanut sauce. I tried to contact Cat but my internet didn’t work in Estonia and there was no wifi as far as I could tell.

 

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The old town in Tallinn was so pretty and quaint. Cue photos. Then near the Tourist Information Centre I found free wifi and found Cat and the location of the public loos. OMG! The loos from hell. They weren’t quite the worst in the world, but they public loos consisted of two Portaloos with like an open container of sewerage. There was no water to wash your hands. I’m so white privileged. When Beans had to use them it was hilarious. She went in and came back out again, hyperventilating. She couldn’t but then the other one with a broken lock was in better form so it got sorted in the end.

We met up briefly with Cat, Rob, Jonathan, Francis, Aiden and Alex and walked around with them for a bit.

IMG_8291[1] By then my foot was paining me so I had to get out my walking stick. I haven’t quite worked out how to use it yet. We went up to get a good view and then parted ways. Our catamaran was leaving at 5.00 pm. Our previous plan was to catch a 8 pm ferry back and have dinner there. We were grateful for our time in Tallinn. Even though it was an adventure and a half getting there.

The trip back was smooth as anything and no vomit! So the weather must have been bad then in the morning. I heard that it rained in Helsinki but it was very pleasant weather in Tallinn.

Finally, we made it back to Helsinki and then walked back to our rooms. There we both discovered we had swollen feet, mine sore foot was really swollen. It is probably just the flights combined with cobble stones. We bandaged up my foot and crashed out.

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Pear shaped ankle

I can say that we both slept really well and our body clocks have caught up with us.

 

 

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I was bright eyed and bushy tailed yesterday.

This morning not so much.

Of course there are a number of reasons for this. Yesterday afternoon I sent off Ungiven Land (The Silverlands Book 3) for proofreading after quite a while working through the toughest edits yet. It was going to take me a lot longer but on Sunday I hit of spot of chapters that had light edits and I pushed through them and built up some momentum. That left yesterday morning to finish it off. I had some family obligations during the day, but after that I did some more tinkering and sent the book off. It’s a bloody long book at 145,000 words.

Then yesterday evening, I picked up the revision I was doing of Bloodstorm (Dragon Wine Part 4) without much recollection of how much more I had to do. Well, I was further along than I thought so I pushed through and sent that book off to the editor last night. It’s a shorter novel at just under 90,000 words. I think I have more work to do on a battle scene but the edit will help with that I think. It gives me a month to think about it and make notes. I needed to push it off my plate as I have important PhD stuff to do.

So you would think after an excellent sleep that I’d be ready to roll and full of vim and vigour. Obviously my stories are still in my head. I was thinking about both of them while driving and drove right past two turns offs to my university and didn’t realise until I made a t-junction. Oops! So I had to go to another entry and park in a different spot. Then I realised I hadn’t brushed my hair. This called for emergency coffee and I hope  it kicks in soon.

After having these deadlines I don’t think I like them. I had listed Ungiven Land for pre-order on Amazon. For some strange reason beknownst only to my back brain I put down 31 May 2017 as the delivery date. However, I had not allowed enough time for processing proofreading changes so I had to push it back by two weeks. Amazon lock you out of the file about 3-4 days before release btw. I have had now had my pre-order privileges revoked for one year because I pushed back the date. Thank god for that. I can’t be tempted to put in hard dates that give me stress. I don’t want to do that again because that deadline plus the ones I had with the editors really put the pressure on.

As I don’t have more fiction planned other than putting up books of which I have the rights back, I’m going to give deadlines a miss for a while. I have my PhD novel to think about.

Fingers crossed I get some covers this week because Shatterwing and Skywatcher are ready to go. Deathwings and Bloodstorm the next two parts of the Dragon Wine series are coming soon.

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Organising this blog tour took a lot of work but it  has been fun and interesting to boot. Many thanks to my generous hosts and for the ideas, questions and interesting topics to discuss.

The blog tour starts tomorrow 16 December, 2015.

Why am I doing a blog tour?

My dark fantasy novel, Dragon Wine Book 1: Shatterwing, is free on promotion during December and into January. Doing a blog tour is supposed to help me get the word out and I thought I’d also have a give away of the print version for people who leave comments. Leaving a comment on this post lets you enter the giveaway too.

Also, Dragon Wine Book 2: Skywatcher is available for purchase.

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Dragon Wine Series

Here is a link to the Momentum Books website where you can get your free copy. It has links to all the retailers there too.

Here.

This is a schedule of the blog tour and the topics/interviews etc. I’ll be popping back to leave the links as they come up.

Amanda Bridgeman 16 December
Alan Baxter 17 December
Matthew Summers 18 December
Alis Franklin 19 December
Matthew Farrer 20 December
CSFG interview with Ian McHugh 21 December
Liz Munro 22 December
Glenda Larke 23 December
David McDonald 24 December
Christmas post by me 25 December
Keith Stevenson 26 December
Chris Andrews 27 December
Joanne Anderton 28 December
Patty Jansen 29 December
Leife Shallcross. 30 December
Dawn Meredith 31 December
New year post by me 1 January
Magie Mundy 2 January
Kim Cleary 3 January
Allan Walsh 4 January

Also, Scott Robinson has included an article by me on writing in his newsletter.

Because I wasn’t able to undo the cut and paste on that list, I don’t have room to put the topics so I’m going to give you a few hints and you’ll have to look for the ones that interest you. Some maybe obvious! Like The Dweeb and the Dweebette interview. I also have articles on writing romance in speculative fiction, research habits, an in depth interview about Dragon Wine (totally cool), I have interviews about what I gave up to write, my darkest hour, world building, about my choices in writing versus a well-paying career and my dark past. I also did an article on what makes dark fantasy dark, five things I’d tell the younger writer me, work life balance and how reading helps your writing. Phew! Now wonder I haven’t been near my manuscript since 30 November!

I hope you will check out some of the posts. If you don’t have a copy of Shatterwing and you like dark, nasty fantasy then please help yourself to a free copy. If you liked Shatterwing then please spread the word!  Leave a comment if you want to be in the draw for a print version of the book.

And there is more the story.

And now my not so official photo!

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Me in my not author shot

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I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to be one of the guests at Supanova Pop culture expo in Sydney and in Perth. (Many thanks to Alex Adsett and Supanova). If you are interested in pop culture, cosplay, games, comics or in any of the amazing guests you should come along and enjoy yourself. If you see me then come and say hi to me too.

The Sydney Supanova starts on Friday 19 June at Sydney Showground, Olympic Park-an easy trip on the train.

Guess who is the major guest? Nathan Fillion.Remember Firefly?

There are stacks more of course, writers, actors, comic artists etc. I’m also quite keen to meet/see Graham McTavish (The Hobbit movies, Outlander). I am a big fan of Gabaldon’s books. Actually watching the series I believe Diana Gabaldon is quite dark-lots of brutality and attempted rapes etc so I don’t know why people are complaining about the Dragon Wine series being so grim. Gabaldon was being dark more than 20 years ago.

I’m going to Supanova! Be prepared for geek girl freakout by the Dweebette (me!).

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Photo borrowed from http://www.threeifbyspace.net/2014/08/outlander-twitter-qa-with-graham-mctavish/

I’ll be hanging with my mates, Karen Miller and Keri Arthur and also meeting KA Bedford in Perth. I haven’t seen Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta (international author guests) for some time so it will be great to catch up them too as well as meeting all the people I don’t know.

The dates for Perth are the following weekend 26 to 28 June at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

To celebrate the Supanova appearances, where I’ll be signing books and a limited number of print books will be available for purchase from the bookseller, Momentum Books have put Shatterwing and Skywatcher ebooks on special. So if you already grabbed Shatterwing when it was a freebie, now is the time to grab the second book, Skywatcher, for $2.99. Shatterwing is $1 so you can grab the set for under $4.

Hang on a minute. All my hard work writing this book and you can read it for less than the cost of a cup of coffee! How can this be? There are no steak knives, just grim dark fantasy, with a sci fi setting and dragons.

The special for the Dragon Wine series is currently on the Momentum website and iBooks (today) but it will filter through to other platforms. So it would be great for you to have a read and then come see me and say hello.

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My Supanova appearance will also allow me to put on my retro 50s dresses and petticoats and maybe even a hat or two. I’m so excited.

Me in my dress and shoes

Me in my dress and shoes

I love seeing the cosplayers, who create the most amazing costumes and some stay in character the whole day. All power to them.

I will also be handing out postcards of my other books, which are available as ebooks.

New RayessaSee you there!

Links

Supanova home page

My Supanova guest page

BTW Momentum are having a sale so there are lots of books on special right now. Momentum Books home page.

Momentum Books Shatterwing

Momentum Books Skywatcher

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