jennifer_brozek: (Default)

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

For immediate pictures, look at my twitter feed or the Husband’s twitter feed.

Travel: Iceland
After Worldcon, I had all of 36 hours to get ready for 2.5 weeks in Iceland, then Finland. I have to say to everyone going to Worldcon75 in Helsinki in 2017, if you can, get a layover in Iceland and experience its natural beauty. It will be worth it. It will also ease you into the time difference.

I went to Iceland for a wedding. It was a beautiful Norse wedding in a lava tube. Sheena and Todd looked wonderful and I enjoy participating. Though, I did fall in the mud. That led to the discovery of the Icelandic phrase, “Fall er fararheill,” which basically means “Falling at a journey's start brings luck for the journey.” Thus, I have ensured good karma for their wedding. So, that’s good.

Iceland. It’s a science nerd’s paradise. The geothermal power plant was so good. Science! Renewable resources! Waterfalls. So many waterfalls. So much hiking. My poor knees. Geysers! Regularly bursting geysers. Glaciers! OMG… we went inside the glacier and that was amazing. The northern lights! We finally saw them on our last night in Iceland. It was a pale green paint swipe across the sky. Icelandic horses! Todd calls them “shaggy little ponies,” but they are smaller horses that are wonderful to interact with. And the spa. My… it was so good on my aching body. We also enjoyed the heck out of a Saga museum and the comedic “Icelandic Sagas” show at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik.

Side note: Just about everywhere we went was ADA compliant. It was refreshing to see.

New foods eaten: puffin, wolf fish

Travel: Helsinki
After a week in Iceland, the Husband and I flew to Finland where I was one of the Guests of Honor for Tracon. The convention flew us out early and allowed us to sightsee all over Helsinki, to Tampere.

The food was to die for. We went to Juuri for a tasting menu where I tried all manner of interesting meat. We visited Fort Suomenlinna and ate at the brewery there. Also might fine cuisine. Saslik is another highly recommended restaurant in Helsinki. Russian themed and fab. We were in Helsinki for two days and were spoiled rotten while we were there. Next up was a road trip to Tampere and Tracon.

Note: While all the bathrooms are ADA compliant, there are a lot of old buildings with stairs only. Helsinki is a walking town. It is easier to walk 1-2 kilometers than to try to drive.

New foods eaten: duck liver, pheasant, reindeer, and bear.

Travel: Tracon
On the way down to Tampere, we stopped at some interesting sights—all of which I recommend if you are going to spend a couple of weeks around Finland when you come to Worldcon.

Hameen linna (Hame Castle) was a huge brick fortress with a museum inside. We got to see the Heavy Metal exhibit. It won’t be around at Worldcon but I’m sure something else fab will replace it. We also visited the Iittala Glass Factory. That was really cool to see. There were a good dozen glass blowers all working at one time. There was a chocolate store, in the same area, but I don’t remember its name. You can watch them make the chocolate. It’s good stuff.

In Tampere, I was put up in a huge dark tower of a hotel with a beautiful view of the city. Again, downtown Tampere is like Helsinki: easier to walk around than drive and filled with historical buildings that have lots of stairs. Tampere is the center of Finland’s feminist movement. There is a historic wool museum to that point. Surprisingly, there was also a Lenin museum that included Stalin’s death mask. The local amusement park has a planetarium, an aquarium, and a Space Needle-like tower.

As an aside: I had a strange auditory hallucination while in the planetarium. Rupert Grint (Ron of Harry Potter fame) narrated the planetarium show. 4 times in the show, I heard a woman’s soft voice whisper in my left ear: “Mother says it’s time to sleep.” “Dive down deep.” “Please.” and “Believe.” It was very odd and I can’t explain it, but you can be sure I’m going to use it in a story sometime in the future.

Just before the convention, I got to go to a “Viking’s dinner” at Harald with the convention chair, the communications person, and my handlers. This was quite the feast and I’ve tasted stuff I’ve never tasted before. Highly recommended.

Now, Tracon. This was a spectacular convention focused on gaming, LARPing, cosplay, and costumes. It was a treat for the eyes. My “editor-author relationship” panel was full, but my “How to make the ordinary terrifying” panel was standing room only. I think it was my biggest solo panel to date. Both went off without a problem. They gave me a wireless mic, so I was all over the room. I hope it recorded well.

Also, I got to experience the Maid Café, watch some of the costume contest, and was interviewed for the streaming event. I have no idea if any of it is available to watch. I’ll post links when I get them. There was also a Project Isthmus sponsored Ingress event, but I’ll write about that in another post. Suffice it to say that it was a success and has inspired the locals to start up their own First Saturday x-fac events.

If you ever get a chance to go to Tracon as a guest or attendee, do it. You won’t regret it. Tracon treated me like royalty and I had the best damned handlers a GoH could have. There was nothing they couldn’t get done for me.

New foods eaten: blood sausage, duck heart, horse, elk, and tar ice cream.

Eventually, pictures to everything will be uploaded to Facebook and I will link those in this blog.

Travel: Adventure
Now, there is no travel without some unexpected adventure. Both were the Husband’s fault this time. He did both just as we were leaving each country.

Iceland: We are about to leave Iceland for Finland. We are gathering up our things and the Husband can’t find his wallet. He’s looked everywhere. We begin to take apart out bags just in case. We empty and repack 3 of the 4 bags. The fourth wasn’t opened because it had not been opened at all. We are at our wits end. I’m sure the wallet was stolen.

We’re about to fly to another country and I am figuring out what we need to do to cancel credit cards and such. I point at his belt, left on the bed and ask him to put it away. He unzips one of the pockets of the suitcase we JUST emptied… and there is his wallet. I literally gasped.

We couldn’t stop laughing as relief filled us and the Husband got the adrenaline shakes.

Finland: We’ve left Finland. We’ve just arrived in Iceland at our hotel for the one night layover before we head home. We are both exhausted. I’m looking at my phone. Jeff is behind me. He mutters, “I can’t fucking believe I just did that.” He doesn’t curse usually. I immediately think he’s lost his wallet again, and ask, “What did you do?”

“I left both of our laptops at security in Helsinki…”

I freak the hell out. There is no other way to put it. I mean rocking back and forth, covering my face, saying, “No! No! No!” over and over. This knocks him out of his panic. (Marriage rule: only one of us is allowed to panic at a time.) He immediately starts calling Helsinki.

After I get myself under control, I think to contact my handlers. To this point, there is nothing Tiina and Meeri can’t do. If it can be done in Finland, they will get it done. Tiina gets in touch with Meeri. Meeri starts looking into things. Jeff discovered the Lost and Found is closed (3 hour difference), and files a report.

First thing in the morning, (while Tiina is having eye surgery…) Meeri is at the airport, identifying our laptops. Within an hour, she has them, and a FedEx confirmation number. We are all so relieved. You see, I have hours and hours of research for my forthcoming YA series on that laptop that isn’t on my desktop because I did it while at Worldcon. I also have the two page synopsis of the first book in the series and the one paragraph summary of the second book. I have so much of the world done… and none of it is in Dropbox because I figured I’d just upload it when I got home.

Thursday. That’s when they arrive. Tomorrow. And I will be so happy to have them back.

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(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Yesterday was Jeff’s one year of playing Ingress. Today is mine. It’s both a surprise and a long time coming. We joined Ingress after leaving a LARP that ran too late, became too toxic, and just wasn’t for us anymore. My friend, Heather, likened Ingress to us LARPing without all the drama. I agree. There’s drama, yes. But a lot less of it.

Over the last year of Ingressing, the Husband and I have met a lot of great new friends, visited all kinds of places we wouldn’t have without Ingress. Revisited old places with new eyes. Got us both out hiking. I mean, I willing went and got hiking shoes. That’s not something I ever thought possible. I’m not as in good shape as the Husband. So, he does other hikes solo or with a friend.

I’ve participated in a Mission Day—GenCon because BigMatty told me to, and a couple of anomalies—field team for Obsidian, recharge for Aegis Nova.



Yesterday, I did something I didn’t know I would ever do: I got my onyx illuminator, throwing a 4 layers of a 15 layer Pongolyn field for about 9.62 million mu. The husband also got 4 layers for the same amount. We also met up with the other field team and they helped me throw a YOLO (you only link once) to Hawaii for 4048km.

I’ve recruited a number of people to come play. Unfortunately, about half of them half of them have chosen the blue (wrong) side because the Resistance has better PR. :) The in-game storyline is interesting. The Resistance is currently run by an extremist who recently caused the death of a beloved scientist and is working for the N’Zeer (think tech-based inter-dimensional aliens). The Enlightened is currently run by an extremist working for a man who wants the death of ADA, the sentient AI who is aligned with the Resistance. The Enlightened work for the Shapers (think mind-based inter-dimensional aliens).  It’s kinda like Skynet versus Vorlons. The whole thing is actually very complex.

There are many in the Resistance who don’t like Jahan and want her gone. There are many in the Enlightened who don’t want the death of ADA. As stories go, neither side is perfect and that is what makes it work. No one really knows what’s going on (except the storytellers—sorta) and it’s in the gray areas that we all exist, figuring out the mysteries presented to us. I appreciate that.



It’s one of the reasons I started Project Isthmus on G+ with 5 other agents (BigMatty, Morgyan, derp, pORFECTION, labeljumper). And even that has grown beyond the in-character storyline I originally designed it to be. Now, there’s the in-game Isthmus storyline, a “world at large” storyline, and the cross-faction investigative community. We have the Project Isthmus Street Team hangout. I’ve written a Glyph Talk series and now run the Glyph Drill Down Roundtables. Working with agents from both sides to investigate the mysteries has been wonderful. We’re not as big or as extensive or as scholarly as Project Essex, but I think we do well enough. 

Over all, I’ve enjoyed my year of Ingressing. I’ve met so many new people, gone so many new places, and have a new set of eye to look at old places. Especially at conventions when I’m a dealer, a panelist, or a GoH. It’s been the perfect “couples” game for me and the Husband who like road trips and experiencing new sights, new adventures, and, of course, huge green triangles. [Note: If you would like to join Ingress, let me know. I'll send you an invite. That will give me more points towards my recruiter badge. And, of course, I encourage you to choose the Enlightened side.]



May the skies ever be in your color.

jennifer_brozek: (Default)

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

Along with me and my stuff being eligible for the Hugo Awards, I wanted to post some other recommendations. These are works that I have really enjoyed.

Novel
The Martian, Andy Weir
Symbiont, Mira Grant

Novella
"The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell" Mira Grant
“Yesterday’s Kin” Nancy Kress

Novelette
“Rappacini's Crow” Cat Rambo
“A Necessary Being” Octavia Butler
"The Ghosts of Bourbon Street" Seanan McGuire

Short Story
“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye”, Matthew Kressel
“The Lambs”, Seanan McGuire
“Goodnight Stars”, Annie Bellet

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short
“And the Apple of Discord" The Librarians
“Korra Alone” Legend of Korra

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Edge of Tomorrow
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar

Best Editor (Short Form)
Christie Yant
Dawn Vogel
Ellen Datlow
Jennifer Brozek
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Best Editor (Long Form)
Toni Weisskopf – BAEN
Jim Minz – BAEN
Sheila Gilbert – DAW

Best Related Work
Chicks Dig Gaming, Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith?, Lars Pearson, Mad Norwegian Press

Invisible, Jim Hines

Best Artist
Chris McGrath
Aly Fell

Campbell Award
Andy Weir
Django Wexler
Beth Cato

jennifer_brozek: (Default)

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

This convention roundup, I think I’m just going to talk about what I’m grateful for.

The Library – The Library is Origins’ growing author track. We speak. We teach. We have tables in the exhibition hall. It’s a great program that adds to Origins. Special thanks to Kelly Swails who did a ton of upfront work.

R.T. Kaelin – Ryan is a local author who is nothing but generous and kind. He allowed a number of us to send him boxes of books and delivered them to the hall. That way, we didn’t have to fight with bringing them or shipping them to the hotel. It was a boon for sure. He talks about the convention here.

Dylan Birtolo – My awesome table partner. He is all energy all the time. I call him “Boothcake” because he’s a charming bastard who brings people into the Library. I appreciated talking and hanging out with him. He talks about the convention here.

Editors – Conventions are business meeting for me. I got to meet up with a couple of editors and to talk about some potential awesomeness. It was a very good convention for business. It really was. I appreciate my editors. They make me look that much better. It’s always good to have a drink or meal with them face to face.

Return/repeat customers – There were a couple of people who came to the table to specifically say that they loved my book or story. I’m even grateful to the guy who interrupted my lunch because he wouldn’t buy the book without me there to sign in and made my husband go get me. It’s nice that someone has that kind of interest in my work.

Panel attendees – I am so pleased that so many panel attendees came to find me after the panels to tell me how much they enjoyed them and how much they learned. I’m especially thankful to the 15 year old girl who wrote me a letter during the panel inviting me to read the first chapter of her book online and to tell me that we all inspire her.

The Husband – Of course, I can’t forget the fact that my husband, Jeff, helped out at the table. I let him go play a lot. That’s why I wanted him to come to Origins. But it was nice to be with someone at the convention who got me and could take over when I needed 5 minutes to myself.

jennifer_brozek: (Default)

(Crossposted from Jennifer Brozek)

As we celebrate Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d talk about when I discovered the magic of reading. Not that reading could bring you stories but that reading could transform your world and take you into a new world so deeply that, for a short time, you don’t realize you’re not there.

The book series that gave me this epiphany was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. It is a retelling of the Arthurian tale—as told through the eyes and experiences of an eleven year old boy and his friends. His friends included a girl, Jane.

I was nine at the time, living in Belgium, no TV, no real friends. My home was a 300 year old mansion complete with bell tower and escape tunnel (that I wasn’t suppose to know about but I did), and a backyard as big as a football field with an eight foot stone wall. It was easy to get into the books. I was already out of my element and looking for an anchor.

The tale told by Susan Cooper opened my eyes to the magic of reading the day I sat down to read “Over Sea, Under Stone” one afternoon and I came up for air only when I was called to dinner. I was dazed, still in that other world. All through dinner, I was torn between wanting to get back to the book and wanting to tell everyone about it.

In the end, I finished my meal, did my chores as quickly as possible, and went back to my room and into that other world without sharing. I knew the rest of my family would never understand. Except, they did. My parents, especially my mom, were always reading. From that day on, going to the library to get a new book (or five) was my special treat. Ransacking my parents’ library was high on the list, too.

I reread The Dark is Rising series about once a year. They are old friends that bring me comfort and joy with every page turn. It was this discovery of magic that eventually made me into the author I am today.

September 2017

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