Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Friday was a big day at World con. For me it was all about the Hugos as I was so honoured and delighted to be invited to co-present an award. And my daughter came in with me and also did my hair for World Con. We went with an Austenesque style but we had to do it in the morning with the hope that it would hold until the evening.

We were going to take the tram, but another tram had broken down and we couldn’t see how our tram was going to get through as there was only one track. After thinking about it for like 30 seconds we decided to catch the train in instead. The train and tram are so convenient from our location.

We had packed all our gear in case we needed to change on site. My first item was to go to the Hugo rehearsal session. I had arrived in good time but was so directionally challenged I couldn’t find the hall. In an act of desperation I ran up to a security guard. She said you can’t go there as it is shut. After I explained I was going to the rehearsals she directed me to an inconspicuous door. I would not have found it without help.

I made it in good time and watched a few of the run throughs, met people and then John Purcell turned up and we were able to go through some minor edits I made to the text and then it was our turn. Things were a little rushed and we had marks to move to. John and I did a vocal run through off stage just so we knew we could say it all. We needed one name, and Irish one, to be tutored. Lucky the Hugo Award administrator is Irish and could help out.

After that, there wasn’t much to do. We had lunch and hung out with Robert Hood and then Cat Sparks briefly. Cat has donated a signed copy on her Blue Lotus book for the fan fun auction.

The pre-Hugo reception was to start at 5.30 so my daughter suggested we take the tram back to our hotel and come back again. We were having vigorous discussions about shoes and in the end she decided to go to buy some.

I was going to rest but by the time we got back there wasn’t much time. My daughter went out to buy shoes and a big hand bag. We needed extra shoes because we couldn’t stand in high heels all night!

We made it to the reception with the aid of directions. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to a Hugo so it was a pleasure to be there. It was really quite crowded. I guess you can’t experience the impact of all those names until you see them gathered. There was rumours of food. I did see people eating but by 6.15 there was no more food, but some chocolates out for sweets. Lucky I wasn’t too hungry.

I was handed a cocktail/drink when I arrived. I think it was a long gin with Lingon berries (sp) and I had to make sure that was all I had. On an empty stomach too much alcohol is not a good thing.

I caught up with Carrie Vaughn, Paul Weimer, Nalo Hopkinson, Mihela and others. I met CE Murphy, from Ireland via Alaska she tells me. Then it was photos. I was going to get a photo with Jukka Halme, but I lost Paul Weimer so I had to scrap that idea. Then I lined up with Beans for a photo but just as it was nearly our turn, they announced they were taking official photos of the different categories of nominees so there went our chance.

Later though, Jukka grabbed me and said, come and have a photo with my official photographer and so I got my photo after all.

Then it was time to go in and take our places. We made sure to sit with John and Valerie Purcell (TAFF delegate and his wife) as we were presenting together.

This is the shot from inside the auditorium.

IMG_8392.JPG

There was type written script on the screen. It was for the hearing impaired I think but it had problems at times and some of the mispelt words were hilarious.

“I am slighted to be here” etc. I forgot most of them but really, 6000 delegates from 6000 countries. Hahahaha.

Then it was our turn to go on stage. The ceremony is on You Tube I believe and was webcast. We were in the beginning section. There was an International group of people presenting, South Africa, Poland, China, US and Australia. We had to sit on a sofa on stage and then after we presented we had a short interview. Amazing, John and I got to plug the fan auction to like 5000 people! They had John’s name wrong in the script so Karen Lord called him Jeff. We gave John a hard time. So Jeff what did you do with John etc.

After the awards ceremony we were invited to the Hugo Losers’ Party. There was a shuttle bus (a small one) so a lot of people took cabs. We waited with C E Murphy and ? (I’m sorry I forgot your name again) and Nalo Hopkinson, George RR Martin, Pat Catigan and others. A Finish fan guy leaped on the bus and Nalo can I come with you and did.

The venue was Helsinki’s steam punk nightclub. It was crowded by the time we got there. Winners turn up and are boohed and made to wear ridiculous head gear. There was an amazing steampunk cake. Lots of booze. Lots of food and desserts in mini containers. The music was good at first but then we tried to dance and the music went to shit. Go figure. I had a blast but wanted to go home. Beans, my daughter, wanted to party and dance and I didn’t get out of there until around 2 am. But I met people, talked to people. John and Valerie turned up late dressed in their steam punk gear. So cute.

Here is a collection of shots, including the steampunk cake. The steampunk couple are John and Valerie Purcell.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And well today is Saturday and I must get out of here.

 

Read Full Post »

I thought this post would be delayed. My head is not feeling too good. It may have something to do with the two long gins I had last night while I was at a party. I think it was the Dublin party but it was hard to tell. Or it could be the dreaded con lurgy.

Thursday I went to Messukeskus on my own. My daughter could not be brought to attend. However, she did do my hair for me. I love it. She took a photo while I was blogging yesterday and I said ‘Don’t I have resting old bitch face.’  Here are some shots of my hair. Totally frivolous of me. Usually I just have boring hair and I’m not an elegant person, but I felt it after this.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I had two panels that I was appearing on so I made sure I arrived in time for those. I decided to try the tram. From our hotel it is route 9. I waited on the wrong side because that’s what my daughter and I thought was the right direction. However, I saw people with worldcon name tags on the other side so I skipped over the tracks to the otherside.

I managed to tag on with the free transport card that the city has given to all the worldcon attendees. This is a wonderful thing. Kiitos Palion to Helsinki!

I was sitting there staring into space (as you do) when I hear an Australia voice at the next stop. “How do you use your ticket?” Or something like that. I recognise the voice. It’s Cat Sparks and Rob Hood. We greet each other and then I face forward and see Janeen Webb tottering down the aisle as the tram had pulled away. So we had more greetings and I met Janeen’s friend Dena. It was a happy little group setting out to Worldcon. The tram drops us right out the front of Messukeskus. It’s a wee bit more convenient than the train, but the train is great too.

I had arranged to meet Paul Weimer before our Fan Fund panel, but first up I sat down and put my feet up in a lovely collection of easy chairs. There was an American woman doing the same so I joined her. My feet are still swelling but are thankfully not too painful.

I met some Danish fans while I was waiting for Paul by the bear. We chatted about fanfunds, I gave away chocolate koalas and I also told them about my other panel, Romance and the female gaze in science fiction. They were very keen to see that panel. I did see them there and they waved. My Finish geekgirl ribbon continues to be of interest. I think they have run out.

Paul showed up so went to grab something to eat and a coffee. We tried this little cafe, Street Food I think it is called. It had a few options and all seemed to be regional/Finish. I had a baked potato stuffed with shrimps in a dill mayonnaise. Paul had the crum chicken drumsticks with a coleslaw and the other option I saw was potato salad with bratwurst sausage. These were about 8 Euro each. Coffee was 3 Euro. The coffee (Kahvi) was filter I think. Sometimes that stuff is like sludge. My daughter tells me that Fins drink the most coffee per capita in the world. She reads the guide books. Well I think that means that Fins have caffeine in their blood. You would think that would make them quite tense but they appear quite laid back.

Paul chatted about his DUFF trip report. (He visited Australia from the USA and visited us in Canberra). He pulled out this massive document with great pictures, including the kangaroos near my place and the yummy pavlova. The fanfunds require a written report and these are sold to raise money for the fanfunds. Paul is selling his for $7US. I thought that was too cheap because it is a massive document, really. I mean really big. So I paid $15US for it as I had some money in my Paypal and it’s for a great cause and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing all those pictures of waterfalls etc. If you see Paul you should ask him how to get a copy.

We went to the Green Room to meet our other panelists. It’s a smallish room and I found it a bit overwhelming because it has people in it, people I don’t know and you are there to meet people you don’t know and that can be hard when you don’t know what they look like. However, Paul knows people and we met some people and Jonathan Strahan and then we met Ben, our chair and then the other people. We had a bit of a run through of the order of business and went to our panel. Luckily, this panel had a small audience and that made it cosy instead of daunting.

You know I’m an extrovert but maybe I lost my extrovertness somewhere. No that’s a lie! I had no trouble talking on the panel. In fact I had to stop myself from grabbing the microphone. I met Claire, who I am meeting up with in London and also Marchin from Poland who wants to run for GUFF. He said he was disappointed I did not choose to visit Poland on my GUFF trip. I said I’d like to visit Poland in my next visit to Europe.

Here is a selfie shot of the fanfunds panel, Paul, Mira, John, John and Ben.

IMG_8374

We were chased from the room after the panel as there was a huge crowd waiting to get in. With such a large number of people it is a huge job moving people in and out of rooms and you need to queue early if you want to get into a panel. I had another panel around three and now that I’m writing this blog post I fear I have lost time. I had more books and chocolates to drop off for the FanFund and I was lucky enough to bump into Kylie Ding who took them off my hand.

Oh now I remember, I went to the dealers room and the fan lounge because I saw there was NZ ribbons. I caught  up with Maree, who I haven’t seen for years who is representing the NZ 2020 worldcon bid. As an aside, I’ve met people who are looking forward to coming to NZ 2020 worldcon and who would like to visit Australia too, so we need to have a convention just before or after NZ 2020. I also picked up a mini Whittakers Hokey Pokey slab. Eat your heart out Russell!

I gave away more chocolates and clip on Koalas during the day. However, it was a bit of a whirl so I don’t recall. I saw some kids in costume and gave them one each. One had a Kylo Ren costume and at the Welcome to Finland Party last night we met Nina who said she had been commissioned to make two costumes. I asked if the costume had been made by Nina and the girl said yes. I think she thought I was rather strange…but that is okay.

The Romance and the Female Gaze panel was full. There were probably 10 seats vacant. That was an interesting panel. I met Carrie Vaughan beforehand in the Green Room, but we didn’t spot the other panelists or more importantly the moderator. We had not chatted via email about what we were talking about so there were a few anxious moments until Fiona turned up. She was a great moderator and had some hard and interesting questions. The panel sessions are only 45 minutes long so there wasn’t time for questions after. I had some lovely feedback afterwards and one lady came up to me and said thank you. The gist of my argument is. Why can’t we imagine a world where women can initiate sex as equals? Where there isn’t slut shaming. Maybe I was a wee bit passionate!

And the deed was done!

I went for a walk and took a shot of Gillian Polack doing her book signing. I didn’t get a chance to say hi as she was talking to a reader. I met Houston, a fellow Australian, in the queue.

IMG_8376

I met up with Robert Hood in the small collection of comfy chairs and he was going to see Cat Sparks in an Australian literature panel. I thought I’d join him and support my fellow Aussies. We were amazed that there was already a line forming and we were about number 70 for a room with 100 people and it was half an hour before. As the queue kept growing, I realised that I was taking the space of someone who really wanted to hear about the Australian scene and I already knew about it. So I left to go back to my accommodation and to see my daughter. On the tram, Robert said hello. He’d also had the same idea. We had fun on the tram. We didn’t have a clue where to get out. We struck up a conversation with a Belgian who was married to a Fin and they gave us advice. It all turned out well, Robert spotted his hotel and I found my stop.

I managed to convince my daughter to come back into the convention centre to the parties. An essential part of Worldcon for me is the parties. They are fun. You meet people. You perhaps drink a little or eat strange foods. At first my daughter was no, I’m not coming. I’m tired, she said. So I resigned myself to going alone and said. I really wish you were coming with me. And she changed her mind.

On the way to Messukeskus we saw a police bust. We were quite surprised. A man was stopped and pulled out of a car and placed on the ground and more police arrived. It was strange. People in the street were drinking coffee and gawping at the goings on. Helsinki, according to my daughter, is the safest city in Europe and one of the safest in the world. We had not seen a police bust before.

I thought I should take steps to meet Einar, the Icelandic fan I had made contact with. As it happened we got there early. The parties hadn’t started. We bumped into John Morris and watched him eat dinner while we drank tea. Then we hit the parties. Like the panel sessions you need to get in early. There were lots of people, the free vouchers for drinks and the food was gone. The bar started running out. Apparently there was only one type of beer left and the queue was so long.

After a bit of phone tag, I met Einar and he joined Thomas and my daughter. Einar and I went to get a drink and it was surprising the but the queue moved quickly. The bar staff were very efficient. Then John Morris and Sara Lindberg joined us so we were very multicultural. So with all the crowd around us we talked stuff. I talked convention running and Iceland with Einar. Then when it came time to leave, I called Thomas, James. OMG! Then he told me I called him something else earlier in the day. I’m so embarrassed.

Here is a shot of us.

IMG_8382

I must remember to call him by the correct name. Einar had left and it was then we realised it was 11.30 and there was a mad panic about whether the trams were still running. All was good though, as there were people waiting and the board said the number 9 was due.

We made it home in good time and went to sleep. I’d had two long gins and maybe…that was too much. I am slightly hungover or at least have a headache today.

My daughter asked if I mentioned the green smoothies she makes every morning. You see she had this goal of making me slimmer, healthier and possibly converted to veganism on this trip. As I normally gain weight when I travel I did not fancy her chances on any of her goals. But I do drink the green smoothies she makes. Actually, she stands over me until I drink the last drop.

Here are some photos of the smoothies my daughter lovingly prepares. They contain baby spinach, cucumber, broccoli, apple and banana and water.

I told my daughter about my blog post. She says. ‘I don’t want you to become a vegan! I want you to go on a plant based diet of six months and lose weight.’

I laughed so hard. A plant based diet is vegan!

Before shot because my daughter says it’s pretty.

IMG_8386

The after shot

IMG_8385

The me drinking the smoothie, in bed, in my nightie with my normal hair. The normal, raw me with hangover.

IMG_8384

Also, I should mention that one of my books, Argenterra, an epic fantasy, is free on all eretailers (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble etc)  so if you want to try some of my fiction then help yourself.

And if you see me today at Worldcon 75, stop me and I’ll give you a koala or chocolate. Until I run out. Also, if you see me with glamour hair, that’s because I’m presenting a Hugo Award later on tonight.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today was the big day. Time to find the way to Messuskeskus (the convention centre) on the train, register and then hang around a meet people while waiting for the opening ceremony.

We had another hotel breakfast, but this time I went for the porridge instead of meatballs, franks and eggs. I also indulged in one of the bread rolls. The Fins really do bread in a big way.  So many kinds of bread. Also, this morning there are more fans here at the hotel. Beans and I made the train okay. It is only one stations and all the trains go to that station (Pasila). We could have taken a tram too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As part of our registration we were given a travel pass for free travel for the week. So excellent! First up, I didn’t have a membership. Somehow wires were crossed and it wasn’t processed whatever. It was sorted pretty quickly after I chased down Jukka Halme who was able to vouch for me. All my program stuff was fine so just a glitch. Registration was pretty efficient and I was able to get my badge printed out how I liked.

IMG_8360

There are many Australians at this conventions and also many Canberrans. You could say that there was an infestation of Australians here.

I was pretty overwhelmed at first at the con today. My job as GUFF delegate is to meet people. Preferably people I don’t know. So I can’t just hang with people I know although I can chat and stuff. It was good to have the support network there from the Australians and I really appreciate them and also my daughter to look out for me. Eventually I settled down and was able to meet people. I have a bag with the Australian flag and I have caramel koalas, cherry ripes and clip on Koala bears to give away. They make a nice ice breaker I guess.

So after registering we went in search of tea. Not much was open before 10 am but we found a place and I drank tea. Tea is my life’s blood so I’m finding the lack of tea disturbing. I may have mentioned this in a previous post. Then we walked about checking out the place.

IMG_8362

IMG_8371

I pointed out George RR Martin, who was just sitting there by himself to my daughter. I think of myself as an extrovert, but I have fits of shyness. I’ve seen George around at all the worldcon I’ve been to. I’ve not been introduced so I can’t just rock up and say hi. Although I did work up the courage to give him a clip  on Koala and then slink away.

I caught up with Paul Weimer, the DUFF delegate, and handed over some books I promised and a bag of caramel koalas, a few NZ chocolate fish. We also took a bag full of books, Tim Tams and NZ chocolate to Gillian and Kylie’s room so they can be auctioned off on Saturday at the Fan Fund auction. Must earn back the $ spent on bringing me here. Then we had lunch, checked out the dealers room and met people.

I met Rikka, who told me there is a Geekgirl group in Finland. She have me a Fake Geek Girl ribbon and a Feminist ribbon and told me I could get a Finish one. I had to find it and after tweeting and asking about I found their table next to the Dublin World Con Bid table. I was so pleased.

IMG_8370

Meanwhile I was chatting up Finish people and asking how to say things like…how do I say I come from Australia? Olen kotoisin Australiasta.

After checking out the place, I met up with Joshua, who is involved with running the Hugos and with John Purcell, who is the TAFF delegate. We are presenting a Hugo together and Joshua wanted photos for the Hugo Booklet. Also, Joshua wanted to make sure we had the script for the ceremony and our Hugo’s ribbon. We chatted for  a bit and then as John and I were involved in the opening ceremony we had to make our way there. I was making my way to the prep room and I was stopped by a woman who demanded I get to the back of the line. I had to explain that I was participating in the ceremony. I can understand people’s frustrations in queues when people seemed to be pushing in. As it was we were sorta in the wrong place. However, it couldn’t be rectified because the section reserved for us was full anyway so we missed most of the performances as we were backstage.

Here is a shot of Jukka Halme in horns backstage.

IMG_8364

I talked to this Finish lady called Vanessa and she taught me out to say ‘I love Helsinki’ and I gave her chocolate. Then it was our turn to be called out on stage. The Fins have been lovely to us fan fund delegates. They included us in the opening ceremony so we got to stand up there in front of a thousand people with the guests of honour. Amazing. Then we got to say a few words.

I have to admit as soon as I got the email saying we were expected to say a few words it worried me. What few words should I say? My daughter had been teaching me to say “Good day, my name is Donna Maree Hanson, pleased to meet you in Finish. She suggested I say that. During the day and last night we added more Finish to my repertoire and rearranged it. So I was pretty nervous and Finish is a hard language but I gave a little speech in Finish. (I was told I was understandable!). I was supposed to translate it too but forgot as I was nervous.

This is the English version of what I said.

Good day. My name is Donna Maree Hanson. I am from Australia. Pleased to meet you. I am happy to be here. Thank you very much. I love Helsinki!

Pretty standard but I practiced and practiced it. There was cheering. I hope I did not say anything rude!

I was still shaking ten minutes later. The room was packed out and I understand people missed out on the opening ceremony, which is sad. It is also strange I think because often people don’t come to the opening ceremony.

IMG_8366

After the opening ceremony was a tea and chat session with George RR Martin and Peter and Emma Newman. It was called Live Tea and Jeopardy. It was fun and clever. Emma was hilarious.

IMG_8367

After that for me it was catch up with people, then have dinner, then hang around for the parties, which I did. We met more Fins, chatted, drank a long gin and then folded pretty early and was home by ten. Tomorrow I might be later. I’m not sure.

 

Read Full Post »

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.

IMG_8304[1]

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.

IMG_8189

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

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

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.

IMG_8223

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.

IMG_8231

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.

IMG_8299[1]

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_8296[1]

Pear shaped ankle

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

 

 

Read Full Post »

It was a long, long journey to Helsinki from Canberra. It started with a bus. Why did we do that? Why did we start with the bus? This is  what my daughter, Beans, asked me?

Anyway, we left Canberra on the 8 am bus to Sydney International Airport. It was a smooth trip and we arrived in plenty of time to catch the flight. The big issue was the amount of luggage we had. So much luggage that we both did trail packs and weighs before we got it right. We had 23 kilo allowance for our checked bag and then because we flew British Airways we were allowed two carry on. A lot of the excess stuff we carried was for the fan fun auction at Worldcon 75 and some more for gifts for people in the UK and Ireland and elsewhere on our travels.

Luggage is not fun. It’s the major downside of travelling. We approached it with humour. What else could we do. Our bags weighed 22.5 kilos each. So close. Carrying around the cabin bags was hard work until we discovered trolleys. Before then I felt like my head was being detached from my body. My daughter swapped with me so she could take my heavy back pack.

IMG_8178

We had some time after check in to grab a coffee. We went to one of the cafes which guaranteed city views and had a nice meal. Surprisingly good. I’m travelling with a vegan so finding food that we both can eat can be hard.

There was a view. That is Sydney city in the distance.

IMG_8176

 

I also potted what I think was an Air Fiji plane. I could be wrong.

IMG_8177

The first leg of the journey was just over eight hours where were landed in Singapore. We had to take our carry on bags off. Instead of being able to go for a walk and grab a coffee we where shepherded to the departure lounge to reboard. We didn’t even get a chance to pee. There were no toilets in the departure lounge. Do not fall for that again!

The next leg was over 12 hours to London. I had caught Ghost in the Shell on the first leg. That is going direct to the ‘must buy’ DVD list. Beans was laughing her head off and she got me to listen in on Snatched- Goldie Hawn- so I ended up watching that movie too. There was a laugh so hard I cried moment. As Paul Feig had something to do with it, I’m not surprised. Some very funny, inappropriateness there. Then Beans told me there was some very cool X files. I hadn’t seen the reboot so I saw about four episodes. One had a very cute story line about the monster who had been bitten by a human and so became human at the full moon. It guest starred Murray from Flight of the Conchords. Absolutely funny and well done. I also watched Boss Baby, very cute.

The food was pretty good on the plane but I took no pictures so maybe it didn’t happen.

When we were landing in London, the captain said ” I hope you enjoyed the trip from Singapore”. Beans and I looked at each other. Enjoyed should have been endured. You may wonder why us downunderarians come topside and stay so long. It’s because it’s a damned ordeal getting here. And we have to reverse our body clocks and do food gymnastics by eating when our body thinks we should be sleeping and then we pee all night because our bodies think we are awake. It settled down but even after a good night’s sleep my brain feels like scrambled eggs.

So we land in the UK and all is smooth. Really smooth. My five pound notes can’t be used because they have been replaced by fancy plastic ones. That was all right because my ten pound note worked just fine. We had a cuppa tea…we were really hanging out for one while we tried to figure out how to get to the airport hotel next to terminal five. The server at the tea place was able to tell me and we headed to the other end of the terminal. We  had booked a hotel because the connection to Helsinki was over 12 hours later and after more than twenty four hours travelling being horizontal is the most important thing in the world. We had a day use room at Sofitel. The beds were awesome and the shower was good too. Unfortunately the lights didn’t work in the bathroom. They were fixed temporarily but Beans ended up having a shower in the dark.

Then it was time to check out and struggle with the heavy carry on bags to the flight to Helsinki.We had time for some fun.

IMG_8183

Here my daughter used her powerful powers of persuasion and made me buy a trolley. It was a stroke of genius. I didn’t have to worry about getting an airport one. This little one could be used on the plane. My head didn’t have to get detached after all.

The flight to Helsinki was nice. The plane wasn’t too full. It was still light. It’s summer in the north of the northern hemisphere.  The sky was glorious. It reminded me of footage I’ve seen of the Grand Canyon, layers of orange and gold. I took a photo but it doesn’t quite capture it.

IMG_8184

 

Also we saw the coast of the England. Man the country looks flat from up in the sky. We arrived in Helsinki near 11.30 pm and staggered to the Airport Hilton. Thank goodness for the Hilton.

Read Full Post »

Last month I posted about my Indie Publishing experience from a beginner’s perspective. That post is here.

There I discussed coming close to earning $100 in that month from my Indie publishing efforts. I did notionally make $100.

Well this month I’m over that amount. Earnings figures are notional by the way, because the money comes in at a different time. For instance Kobo calls them estimated earnings.  So this month notional earnings are around $140 $150.

Mind you I had to work hard for those few dollars!

I also gave away heaps of books this month but more on that later.

Sales

I used Kobo promotions a lot this month and that where I had most of my sales. Kobo are really easy to deal with and they offer a wide range of promotions, about half have no upfront costs just percentage of takings. I wasn’t successful in getting all that I bid for but I did okay. It takes time and I think getting my name seen will mean eventually people will buy. It also helps to have a number of titles.

Next biggest sales were iBooks, surprisingly. It is not easy to promote on iBooks. There is no easy way for Indies to promote on iBooks. I hope one day they will adopt the Kobo model.  Then Amazon was the next chunk of sales. Nothing earth shattering but better than a big fat zero! You cannot bid for promos on Amazon. Amazon put together their Daily Deals by themselves.

Promotion

As mentioned above I have a promo tab on Kobo. I directly list with them to access this. I had two or three promos with different books through the month: paranormal romance and dark fantasy.

I tried for a Bookbub a couple of times through the month with different titles and met with rejection so I decided to do something with another provider. It can be dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, particularly when the basket holder is swatting your eggs away!

I used Freebooksy to get the word out that Argenterra was free on 28 July. I made it free earlier than that and it’s currently free. Interestingly, this means I won’t be able to tout for a Bookbub for this title for three months as Bookbub exclude books that have been discounted for three months. Freebooksy is not cheap. It was $100 US to list for a day. However, they are a great group to work with and they have been very considerate of my other efforts with Bargainbooksy.

I find it interesting that Amazon doesn’t let people promoted except by AMS ads which I don’t find effective at all because these email services are making heaps of money from marketing specials and freeboots to their subscribers.

Listing Argenterra for free is a loss leader tactic used by many vendors since forever. Technically I don’t like giving books away for nothing. I think it lowers the value of your work. On the other hand, giving away book one with the hope that:

  • the person downloading will read it (preferably sooner rather than later);
  • having read book one they will like it enough to buy book 2 and 3;
  • after reading books 2 and 3 will like my writing enough to try another series, and
  • after reading my work they become a fan of my writing and stick to me like spat gum to a shoe!

I don’t know if there are any figures out there, but from past experience and my own behaviour I know that free books downloaded may never get read, but as I said before I’m looking to find my audience so one must take a chance.

Before the Freebooksy promo I let people know it was free. Not in a big way. Patty Jansen put it on the Facebook page for Ebookaroo and I asked some people to include it in their newsletter. I don’t know if people did but about 60-70 copies had been downloaded before promo day. On promo day, I got about 1700 downloads on Amazon and about another 100 on iBooks. No figures from Kobo as their freeboot counter is out. But I had a tail, next day more books downloaded. This could have been due to late email opens and people clicking and finding the book still free, or because with the 1700 downloads I had reached #123 overall Amazon freeboots and #1 in three sub categories of Epic, Sword and Sorcery and Coming of Age. Then Patty Jansen included Argenterra in her regular newsletter and then more downloads happened. So far maybe an extra 300-400. I just had another look at the figures, maybe that’s closer to 500 downloads from a newsletter. That’s so fab. I’m so grateful for the little leg up.

I didn’t see a lot of buy through to the rest of the series. Maybe one or two. If only one percent of those 2400 people (maybe more) go on to buy the series that’s still 24 people who might go on to buy the series. The promo will pay for itself eventually. Also, people have my book so there is always a chance.

Newsletters and Instafreebie

Technically sending newsletters and listing books on Instafreebie are promotion too. Shatterwing was included in a group Instafreebie/Bookfunnel promotion and wow! It was the best yet. Probably 700 new subscribers who downloaded Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One over four days. I think the covers have something to do with that.

I think some of my sales come through my newsletter subscribers. Not heaps as yet, but I get a lot of people checking out the buy links on my website.

I also had a few deals going for newsletter subscribers. Not exclusive to them but being a subscriber allows them to find out about it.

Escape Publishing kindly discounted Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Spiritbound (Dani Kristoff) to 99 cents. The announcements for these were included in my newsletter and there were some sales. I don’t know how much because I can’t see because the books are controlled by the publisher. These books were included in Ebookaroo (Patty Jansen’s general newsletter) and there were some sales as a result. I was happy to give something to the newsletter subscribers and I don’t often get discounts from my traditional published books.

Also, to broaden things a bit and have something new to keep my subscribers interested, I published Beneath the Floating City, a sci fi, short fiction collection and put it on Instafreebie, mostly with a private link for my subscribers but it is also there for anyone to download. All bar one story has been previously published over the 17 years of my publishing life. I’m going to put together other collections. The next will be Compost Juice, magic realism and fantastical tales. I won’t do that until I get back from overseas. Maybe for Christmas. I also published this collection to all the eretailers.

Print versions

A major suck for my energy, time and dollars this month has been laying out books for print. Indesign gave me a kick up the butt and my photoshop skills are Neanderthal level, but I managed.

Shatterwing, Skywatcher, Deathwings, and Bloodstorm are out in print with the new covers. These are available on Amazon through Createspace and elsewhere as distributed by Ingrams. So yes, technically the library or your books store can order them in.

booksAlso, Oathbound and Ungiven Land join Argenterra, in print.

The Sorcerer’s Spell is in print too, but just through Createspace. It will appear in bookstores as well as Amazon over time, such as Book Depository. Opi Battles the Space Pirates was already in print, same deal through Createspace. You can buy a copy on Book Depository no problems.

This means that for the book launch at Conflux over the long weekend, 29 Sept to 1 October, I have books all to hand.

I have done all the things!

Phew!

Now to take off on Friday for nearly two months. Worldcon 75 and Helsinki here I come. I am the GUFF delegate, taking Australian fandom to Europe. See previous post for where I’ll be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

(Warning this is a long post)

In July, I had travelled to Wellington to attend POPCAANZ at Massey University. POPCAANZ stands for Popular Culture Association of Australian and New Zealand and it was their annual conference. POPCAANZ to me is like an SF con except it is academics giving papers on interesting topics, such as A Short Flight Safety Briefing: Mark Mullen, which talked about games, including when things go wrong with the production of them and the increasing tendency for big companies to use fans to test the games unpaid and then continually upgrade and rerelease them. Or Slashbaiting, an alternative to queerbaiting: Joseph Brennan. This talk featured quite a lot of commentary on the Merlin show, including compromising ‘manips’ of the bromance duo of Arthur and Merlin. Another one that would probably interest folks is The Queerness of Queen Cersie: Olivia Oliver-Hopkins, an excellent character analysis. Then there was a talk about slow films (who knew there was a genre of slow films), in particular this post-apocalyptic (German?) film Die Wand, Expanses of Time and Solitude behind Die Wand (The Wall) by Claire Henry, which I really must see. Apparently, it’s an excellent tale of a woman and her dog. I gave a paper related to my PhD study called Flirting with Feminism: Retro Mills and Boon and representations of feminism in text, and listened to an excellent talk by Jodi McAlister on historical Australian Gothic called Love and the Mother/Land: Romantic Love in Nineteenth- Century Australian Novels.

So I have established why I was there in Wellington at the appointed time. It was all so innocent and above board. Who knew what lay in store for me? I should have taken the hint the first afternoon when I went for a walk. I stayed in this lovely AirBnB, a little cottage in Newtown, which was meant to be in walking distance of Massey University, College of the Arts campus.

As I arrived around three in the afternoon, I had time to check out how far away it was. I plugged the ‘school of arts’ into my phone, I thought! And went out into the wilds of Wellington with threatening grey skies and a lovely rolling misty rain. I thought I’d be fine. I had a good coat on and who needs an umbrella? Right? Also, it was all new and interesting. Here is a photo of the sky as I headed out for my walk.

Wellington Sunday

But lo, I did get lost. I did walk almost to the waterfront, right past the Massey University School of Arts. I did walk past the War Memorial and everything. By the time I figured I could not find this elusive College of the Arts and turned back, the wind was up, the rain came down and I’d lost my university identification cards in the street. I only knew this because they’d been found and the person who found them located my author page on Facebook. Thank you Facebook. On my lonely, cold and wet walk back to my accommodation I met these lovely people and retrieved my lost cards.

Photo is a Wellington house with a big seagull on the chimney.

Seagull on chim

Piesign

A random NZ humour thing. Lamb pie. Baa…

lost on walk

I was pretty lost by this time. This is near the War Memorial in Wellington.

cool motto

I liked the message on this building from the Theosophical Society, Wellington.

Hanson street

A totally random Hanson Street, Wellington.

The wind, she blew, she blew right through me! The rain came down and came inside my coat, my tights, my boots, my hair. It came in everywhere. So in an act of utter desperation, I ducked into the supermarket and bought a Watties frozen roast chicken meal and staggered back to my accommodation where I did not move. I slowly thawed out in bed. Upon some quick research (looking at my map app) I realised I had keyed in the College of Performing Arts and that if I’d looked on Google Maps I would have found where the conference was being held. Now after a close acquaintance with the streets, I pretty much didn’t need a map to get there. I walked over 15,000 steps for absolutely nothing, except looking around a city like that is interesting. It just that it was winter and wet and I got the whole Wellington experience or so I thought.

View from Massey University. I think this is Mount Victoria where some scenes of The Lord of the Rings was filmed. I wanted to go up there but the weather was bad (this was after the fog burned off but I was still at the conference).

Mt victoria

Next morning, there was an earth tremor. A small quake. But still. It felt like the cat had jumped on my bed. But my cat wasn’t there. But I made it out the door into the safest building in Wellington. That that building tended to move of its own accord fed my constant expectation of a massive quake in which I would perish while in pursuit of academic mind fill.

While in Wellington, I also experienced fog. Yes, a lovely thick fog, but that’s okay because it did go away and it was a lovely day afterwards.

 

Photo of the fog and the Tower House.

towerhouse fog

However, on day two of the conference people started talking about a big storm coming. I wasn’t leaving that night because for some strange reason I had booked for three days instead of two. I found out that the conference had been three days but had been shortened to two. I was not crazy after all.

Luckily I noticed this issue and put out a call of Facebook to SF fans that I know to say: ‘Hey! I have a day free in Wellington. Anyone want to catch up for lunch or do something?’ And I had a wonderful response. I had already arranged to spend a night with the lovely Lynelle Howell on my way back through Wellington so I was able to say yes to a day with Ross Temple and lunch with Simon Litten, June Young and Rachel Astruc. But the weather had struck by then and it was not a nice day for being out and about. A terrific wind was coming off the waterfront. Thoughtful Ross had a plan B. He picked me up from my accommodation and took me into town to go to the Te Papa Museum. I saw a bloody great squid or was that an octopus? Then we walked up town to meet the others for lunch. We had the wind behind us so that helped.

Some photos from Te Papa. Some crazy arse fish. I have one of Ross but I believe I said I wouldn’t post it. Sorry!

werid fish

It has been a long time since I experienced a New Zealand café. Ross and I had been talking healthy food so I was a good girl and have a yummy vegetable soup, but I had big eyes for the coffee and cake. Simon did not get the healthy food memo and I was envious of his three courses! The conversation had some funny moments. “You’ve had a baby haven’t you Rachel since the last time I saw you.” “I’ve had three.” Time bloody flies doesn’t it? Admittedly, Rachel had had twins!

After lunch we walked against the wind back to the car and then headed to the Weta Cave. The wind was chopping up the sea as we took the scenic coastal route. I was flying out that evening so Ross was going to drop me off at the airport. I’d received a message that my flight was delayed so I was prepared to have a bit of a wait when I got there. Unbeknownst to me but beknownst to Lynelle, she was monitoring the weather, the planes and my progress through my status updates.

Weta Cave!!!! This is the Lord of the Rings worship haven for fans and also for normal people, provided they spend money but not on the things that fans want. I didn’t see any normal people there. Cough!

Photos from Weta Cave. Troll!

trolls

Theodin’s armour

Theodin armour

Sting

sting

Gollum

gollum

So there’s the shop to explore and tours to book. We managed to get on the Weta Cave tour where you can get a behind the scenes look at how things are done. There was a Thunderbirds tour but we didn’t get on that one. I worshipfully gazed upon the merchandise, lamenting the weight and price of some items. I bought for my darling Dweeb two LOTR t-shirts. One featuring Smaug and another a drawing of the Bag End. The Dweeb (my partner Matthew) says I have excellent taste in Dweebie tshirts so I had to hope that my tshirt choosing mojo was still functioning normally (apparently it was). I gazed longingly at the armour on display and Sting and models of Dwarves until it was time for the tour.

By the time the tour started the weather was crazy arse blowing a damn gale. Just stepping from the Weta Cave shop to the door where the tour started was an adventure. Cold wind-blown needles of icy rain that found their way into the previously protected warm spots under my coat. I’m from Canberra and Canberra does cold really well, but this was something else. It was a polar blast that turned my teeth into icicles and my knees into undead, fresh from the morgue fridge, lumps of reluctant bones. Argh!

The Weta tour was great. I was inspired. If you see me sculpting dragons in the near future it will be because of the Weta tour. I got to hold a prop gun that was damn heavy (from District 9) and saw lots of other bits and interesting pieces. What a cool place! I wish I as that creative.

After another dash into the Weta Cave shop, Ross took me to the airport. I thanked him for the great day and got out of the car. The wind was impressive. I had my doubts about getting a flight out, given it was already delayed. I was heading to Auckland to visit family and a friend. I updated them on my late arrival—expected to be around midnight. I hadn’t been in the airport long when Air New Zealand announced it had cancelled all regional flights. Big planes were still flying apparently. The South Island of New Zealand had essentially shut down. Planes weren’t getting in but some were still flying. Then I got a text from Jetstar telling me my flight was cancelled.

I did get a photo of Smaug at Wellington Airport. He didn’t look too pleased.

smaug

I didn’t know what to do at that stage. I updated my Facebook status and then got a message from Lynelle. She offered to come get me and put my up on the couch for the night. Fantastic Fan Girl, Lynelle was my super hero. She came to get me in that awful weather and took me to her place. The wind was really up by then and Lynelle said it was expected to get worse. I had rebooked a flight for the next day and had my fingers crossed. Meanwhile Ross had been monitoring the flights and texted saying it looked like my flight had been cancelled. He’d offered me his couch. But I’d already been rescued by Fantastic Fan Girl Lynelle.

Fantastic Fan Girl Lynelle was giving a presentation at a local SF group, Phoenix Science Fiction Society Inc., so she was glad to have me along. As I’d stuffed my face at the airport, there was no dinner required for me. Lynelle gave a talk about her FFANZ trip to the Australian natcon, Continuum, in Melbourne, and then there were Tim Tams and tea! The group of fans were welcoming. They did share their Tim Tams with me after after all! And hearing Lynelle talk about her trip was interesting. She really did get to a lot more panels than I did and had some interesting bar experiences.

Here is Lynette giving her talk. In none of my photos did she have her eyes open.

Lynelle

I was pretty chilled by the time we got back to Lynelle’s place and I didn’t take my coat or boots off. I just couldn’t. The house was being buffeted by wind and I was semi traumatised. I don’t think I’d been in a weather event before. Fantastic Fan Girl lit the fire and I was introduced to her super hero children, Dynamic Dylan and Smasher (Ash) and later to Jousting John, the superhero husband. They took my presence in their stride and I was adopted by the two house cats. I can’t remember their names so I’ll have to give them superhero ones. Slinky Sly and Blighty Bird Killer. I had the privilege of sleeping with Slinky Sly, who pretends to be shy but is actually a love slut!

I slept on the couch with the warm flicker of flame to comfort me while the wind rattled the windows and whooshed at the trees. It was weird sleeping to that sound. Fantastic Fan Girl provided toast and tea. And more tea, once she realised it was my life’s blood and couldn’t function without brown liquid to bathe my brains. Then after hanging about we tried the airport again. This time Lynelle was going to shop close by in case there were problems. On the way to the airport the sea was crashing over the railtracks that ran next to the road. The wind was really bearing down on everything. When I got out of the car my beanie blew off my head and I had to chase it down (unfortunately I lost that hat somehow later on) and when I went back to my bags I was fair blown back. I had serious doubts anything could take off in that. I nearly took off and I wasn’t even wearing a cape.

A photo photo of the weather on the drive to the airport day two. They had to stop the trains because of the waves.

to the airport

I walked into the terminal and I received a text saying my flight had been cancelled again. What? Like just now as I walked in? Talk about timing. I had a few ideas about how I was going to cope with that. On the night before I got an email saying Jetstar would cover the cost of my hotel and dinner. I got that after I’d been rescued so I thought maybe it was worth lining up and seeing what they could do this time. First I checked the information desk. Maybe I could drive up to Auckland? Surely the weather would settle by the time I got out of Wellington. The friendly help desk guy gave me directions to the car rental places. He said I’d have no trouble getting a car. He then added, I just wouldn’t be driving anywhere. When I said I was heading to Auckland, he said the roads were out, the storm was due in New Plymouth and I had buckley’s. I texted my mate Russell, Insane Map Boy, back in Canberra and asked his opinion. By the time his answer came back I’d already decided driving was not an option. Russell said bad weather and unknown roads would mostly likely end in an accident.

Then I joined by queue to the Jetstar service desk. The queue was long and full of people like me.

Photo of queue second day of flight cancellations.

queue

After two cancelled flights getting another flight out the next day was going to be difficult. In the queue I learned that because the flight was cancelled due to weather Jetstar would not put me up. People were hanging around because while they found a hotel they couldn’t check in until 2 pm and they weren’t going out in that weather for nothing. Meanwhile Fantastic fan, the mighty rescuer was sending messages and requesting updates. Ross also was sending messages and I asked to bunk on his couch that night. I have to share this fan girl around as I was already booked to hang with Fantastic Fan Girl on the return journey.

Fantastic Fan Girl rescued me once again and took on the super human task of organising everything from how to get me to Ross’s place to what we were going to have for dinner. And we got to hang out some more, with the fire…and on the net as you do. Meanwhile the storm is blowing still and in the news there were flying trampolines that had taken out power lines and damaged cars and the South Island was really getting a battering. Jousting John was heading near Ross’s for his sword practice so he undertook to deliver me, after we ate fish and chips. I can’t do fish so the place where Fantastic Fan Girl, in her flashy super cape, ordered also offered stuffed mushrooms and potato scallops ( they call them potato fritters—scandalous) and I was happy. Also yummy chips and no allergic reactions. Things were looking up.

Smasher was having a sleep over, so it was a good thing that Ross had come to the rescue. Not that there was a problem with that, Fantastic Fan Girl said. I’m trying to think up a super hero name for Ross…let me see…he’s dignified and gallant so I think the Elegant Crusader works for me (Lynelle suggests Normandale Knight for Ross). Ross will probably punch me on the nose! Anyway, Ross welcomed me to his place. Lynelle had warned him that I drink tea, lots of tea, and he brought out the big guns. Tea bags. Lots of tea bags. Meanwhile the wind was raging and the rain was raining. Ross’s power had been out earlier in the day but had come back on in time to warm the house. We talked family history (Ross has some amazing artefacts from his rellies) and science fiction shows and movies and books, as you do, until after midnight.

I slept well, even though the wind was still loud and the house rocked a bit. The next day Ross offered to take me out. I could check out the local mall etc. We looked out the window at the blustery weather and I said, “No thank you. I’m quite happy just here.” So I took out my laptop and worked on my proofing corrections and Ross tinkered on the internet. We chatted occasionally and I introduced him to the Katering Show and he introduced me to other You Tube goodness. After supplying me with yummy warm soup, we continued to relax until it was time to get the plane. I wasn’t able to get an early flight so I was on the 5.30 pm. However, that was delayed again, but as the weather had improved somewhat and planes were landing we were pretty confident that my third time would be lucky. If not, I had decided I had to give up on trying to get to Auckland because I’d have to come straight back again.

The Elegant Crusader dropped me to the airport and I had time to kill. Previously I had tried the pork ribs and they were might fine so I tried the Alabama Butter Milk Fried Chicken and well that wasn’t too exciting. I thought I should buy chocolate but when I looked around the kiosk had shut and a lot of the shops were shutting. I had heaps of time to kill and despaired. No retail therapy? I snuck downstairs and the kiosk was still open so I bought some Whittaker’s chocolate supplies and ate some! I did a fair bit of pacing around Wellington Airport. It’s actually quite small. I looked up and saw Eagles. Big Eagles from the Lord of the Rings’ movies with Gandalf on one. I took photos and geeked out, as you do, then gave up on pacing and went through to the boarding lounge.

Photos from Wellington Airport. Eagles and Gandalf. The weird thing was I only noticed them the third time I was at the airport.

eagles close up

 

gandalf

eaglesThe boarding time kept getting put back five minutes at a time. The plane we were flying out on had not arrived. Still I was hopeful that I’d get to Auckland that night. If I didn’t there wasn’t much point in going as I was due back on the Monday and it was now Friday. But we did fly out but really late. I got to my family’s place around midnight. But you know what? It was quiet. There was no wind. During the night I woke up and I’d been dreaming about the wind. I think I was a tad traumatised.

One sun filled day in Auckland. View from Browns Bay toward Rangitoto Island

sunny auckland

After some sun filled days (two actually) where I caught up with my family and my friend who split me evenly down the middle, I was flying back to Wellington to be collected once again by the amazing and wonderful, Fantastic Fan Girl! For this was the planned part of the trip and not the rescuing the Aussie Fan Girl Choose Your Adventure series moments. I’d been invited to an SF thing, Biblio, I think but by then I was tired and over being sociable, except with Fantastic Fan Girl, who understands that a fan girl just wants to play with her phone and stare into space some of the time. So I didn’t go to that. Instead we did the planned shopping for chocolate adventure. NZ has the best chocolate and so many flavours and there were orders Insane Map Boy and Kaaron Warren and my son Taamati, who would collect them for his birthday on his way back to Shanghai, via Canberra. Fantastic Fan Girl took me to ‘Pack n Save’ and introduced me to the wall—the giant wall of chocolate. I have little restraint and I amazed even myself. I had chocolate and chocolate and more chocolate. We even ate a block of the Jelly Tip Whitaker’s chocolate by the fire.

This is five kilos of chocolate.

chocolate

Fantastic Fan Girl had prepared homemade hamburgers for dinner and we watched an episode of Game of Thrones! As you do! With chocolate.

Also, Lynelle had amazing ducks on her glass.

Lynelles ducks

My fannish adventures were drawing to a close. The weather was back to normal. My flight home was going to plan. I have to thank my fannish super heroes for looking after me. I was looked after, cared for and never lonely. I contemplated the alternatives. Forced to book into hotels, hanging about until I can check in, then taking a taxi back to the airport and then being sent away to find another hotel and repeating this over. I did not have travel insurance. I don’t know why I didn’t.

This is a view of the top of the South Island as I was flying out. You an see there’d been snow.

snow mountains plane

A fan girl need superheroes. For me this was like a pre-GUFF (Get Up and Over Fan Fund-I’m the 2017 delegate) trip adventure that demonstrated the wonderful community of fandom. Fantastic Fan Girl has never been to my house. We’ve met in person twice before, once eight years ago at a NZ con, where we hung out. Ross put me up but he’s only ever met me a cons. And Simon and June and Rachel have only met me at cons and on social media. This was a wonderful display of super human kindness and it made me glad that I was a fan who went to Wellington and reached out to the SF community.

Pass the hobbit why don’t you?

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »