Gail Carriger's Blog

January 26, 2015

Funnily enough, Gentle Reader, the title of this blog was a place holder for over the weekend while I was fiddling with it until I decided I liked it and left it there.

Holding pattern right now while I wait for my M&M edits. I was going to get all started on Imprudence but then I found out that the M&Ms were incoming. I thought their would be no point in beginning Imprudence only to have to stop before I had really gotten started.

via vintage-vs-retro tumblr Dovima in travel, 1956

So I'm taking today and tomorrow to do a fat load of business back log and prep for when I start the Spring of Epic Travel of Epicness. What does this entail? Well, things like readying the newsletter for the end of the month (the prizes are good this time, my darlings, really good); transferring notes and quotes from my various readings; catching up on the social media; coaxing Author Central into some proximity of functionality; tinkering with the website; processing research data; and Dealing With My Phone.

My phone is a putz. No, dears, no, there really is no more genteel way of putting it.

Some people, when a piece of technology dies, they are calm. They think to themselves, "Ah well, this is what happens, things die, programs fail." Some people quietly go to their backups. They reboot with equanimity. Some people heave a heavy sigh an move on with their lives.

I am not one of those people.

When my phone dies it a is a personal affront. The phone HAS BETRAYED ME.

And that's all I'm going to say about that... cursed little traitorous evil no-better-than-an-ugly-paper-weight piece of doody. Grrrr.

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Published on January 26, 2015 09:34 • 61 views

January 23, 2015

Something a little different today, Gentle Reader. As many of you know I am a bit of a glutton, I love me my food. Hence the reason food always gets into my books. One of my favorite compliments is when someone tells me that reading my book made them hungry.

So I'm a Bay Area girl, born and raised (then escaped and returned multiple times). Here are my 9 favorite things to eat in this area, if you are ever in town.

Fish tacos from El Caballo Wraps, Alameda
Tea leaf salad, spicy okra and tofu, lamb kabat followed by coconut fritters from Burma Superstar, San Francisco
Roasted pork loin with fontana cheese sandwich with hot chai (no milk) followed by lemon curd potted cake from The Tea Room Cafe, Petaluma
Cod salad with fennel, romaine, and a lemon dressing followed by a flat white with pear polenta upside down cake from Little House, Alameda (sadly no longer on the menu)
Thom yum soup followed by dancing prawns and banana leaf wrapped salmon from Royal Thai, San Rafael
Pulled confit pork with orange, jalapeno, and avocado sandwich and a side salad followed by a latte from Cafe Q, Alameda
Fig champagne cocktail with the full cheese sampler followed by confit duck with new potatoes and arugula salad from Girl & Fig, Sonoma (they no longer do this version of the duck, sadly)
The Bento Box meal with salmon sushi dominating from Balboa Sushi, San Francisco
Fresh OJ with Eggs Alexandra and a massive cinnamon bun (to share) at Los Gatos Cafe, Los Gatos

To "cut the eggs," instead of to beat them. The motion of beating eggs does not cut them. "Braiding eggs," is still worse.
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

1811 Fun Euphemisms Around Food
Bow-wow mutton ~ Dog's flesh.
Devil's dung ~ Assafoetida.
Field lane duck ~ A baked sheep's head.
Hasty pudding ~ Oatmeal and milk boiled to a moderate thickness, and eaten with sugar and butter.
Rum ruff peck ~ Westphalia ham.
Salmon-gundy ~ Apples, onions, veal or chicken, and pickled herring, minced fine, and eaten with oil and vinegar.
Sandwich ~ Ham, died tongue, or some other salted meat, cut thin and put between two slices of bread and butter: said to be a favorite morsel with the Earl of Sandwich.
Sweetheart ~ A term applicable to either the masculine of feminine gender, signifying a girl's lover, or a man's mistress: derived from a sweet cake in the shape of a heart.
Yarmouth pye ~ A pye made of herrings highly spiced, which the city of Norwich is by charter bound to present annually to the king.
~ 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

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We advise our New-England friends to eschew, both in speaking and writing, all Yankee phrases that do not convey the exact meaning of the words. For instance, to "turn out the tea," instead of to "pour it out."
~ The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

When eating fish, first remove the bones carefully, and lay them on the edge of your plate. Then with your fork in your right hand, (the concave or hollow side held uppermost,) and a small piece of bread in your left, take up the flakes of fish.
Pouring butter-sauce over any thing is now ungenteel.
It is an insult to the company, and a disgrace to yourself, to dip into a dish any thing that has been even for a moment in your mouth. To take butter or salt with your own knife is an abomination. There is always a butter-knife and a salt-spoon. It is nearly as bad to take a lump of sugar with your fingers.
In fact, nothing should be sucked or gnawed in public; neither corn bitten off from the cob, nor melon nibbled from the rind.
Ladies no longer eat salt-fish at a public-table. The odour of it is now considered extremely ungenteel, and it is always very disagreeable to those who do not eat it.
Champagne is very insidious; and two glasses may throw her into this pitiable condition.
Having unfolded your napkin, secure it to your belt with a pin, to prevent its slipping down from your lap, and falling under the table.
~ Further etiquette advice around food from the The Ladies' Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie's Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864. I bet there are some things following that you didn't know about how to eat like a lady. I was certainly surprised!

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Published on January 23, 2015 11:16 • 121 views

January 21, 2015

The Nerdy Girlie posted some Geeky Confessions to her blog a while ago. I kind of love the idea. Girls in fandom can get a lot of flack for not being true fans of all things nerd, whatever that means. As a result of having to defend myself when I was a young cosplaying teen, I'm always a little scared to admit that I don't participate in certain areas of geekdom. But, it's time I owned the gaps in my geeky knowledge, because I'm still a proud geek, just not about all the things.  

1959 Blouses via vintage-vs-retro tumblr

Confession #1: I Don't Play Video Games
I had a brief affair with Super Mario way back in the day, I played Pong when it was on those cassettes, and I've been known to Bejewel a bit of an evening, but that's it. I loathe FPS, am totally uninterested in games with story arcs or quests (I'll just write my own, thank you very much), and couldn't care less about any sort of alternative life world building scenario (I like the one I'm currently living in reality well enough).

Confession #2: Nor Do I Play Table Top, RPG, Magic the G, or LARP
I understand it and I have hung out with gamers since I was a wee little baby-Gail. But I have never liked or been interested in any aspect of gaming. I like to be goddess of my universe and I don't like playing by anyone else's rules, not even those governing DM.  I'd rather be writing.

backstoryradio~ tumblr, Lantern slides showing movie theater etiquette and announcements, circa 1912.
via Library of Congress.

Confession #3: I Don't Enjoy Animated Movies
OK so there are a few exceptions, but most of the time I'm just not a big fan of the voice acting. I find it too extreme. Particularly if the movie is intended for children, I find the vocal cadences grating. Yes that includes Toy Story, and the Lego Movie, and Frozen, and... I know, the lips out in fandom are wobbling, "But but but Gail," you say, "Have you tried ..." It's not that I won't watch them, it's just that they never really make it into the favorites column. However, adult cartoon series (like Invader Zim or Bob's Burgers are a different thing entirely.)

Confession #4: I Don't Like Horror
I don't like the boo horror, or the gruesome horror, or the thriller horror, or the Jack Nicholson smiles-a-lot horror, or the shaky cam heavy breathing horror. I don't like being scared. I'll take a dark comedy with horrific leanings on occasion (like Black Sheep or Fido) but not the real thing.

Confession #5: I Was A Dancer Not A Theater Geek
I know. But I get horrible stage fright if I have to act. I've done it, and I've done it OK, but in the end I always freeze on stage and forget my lines. I never forget steps, dancing is a whole different thing for me. Give me music and I'm a happy girl, give me silence and I'm terrified. Unless, of course I'm lecturing about something upon which I am an expert. Then I'm fine. This is one of the reasons I prefer not to read from my books, I'm just not good at it. I'd rather just chatter about them.

backstoryradio ~ tumblr Lantern slides showing movie theater etiquette and announcements, circa 1912.
via Library of Congress.

Confession #6: I Don't Drink Soda
Not really a strictly geek thing, but it is pretty geeky. My gamer friends were always debating the relative merits of Pepsi versus Mountain Dew versus Popsididdly (or whatever). I don't like any of it. No, really. None of it. Particularly not cola flavoring, yech. I never have. I wasn't raised with pop and I don't really like how sweet it is. If I want something fizzy I'm pretty happy with plain old sparkling water and a bit of lemon.

Confession #7: I Don't Read Heinlein
I have tried a few times, but I simply dislike like his style of writing. I find his plots boring, I'm never even slightly interested in his characters, and I think his treatment of women is puerile at best. No I'm not going to try anymore of his stuff. I have neither the time nor inclination.

So have you lost all respect for me? Or do you sympathise and have confessions of your own?

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Published on January 21, 2015 10:54 • 213 views

January 19, 2015

Occasionally (despite my best efforts in the Monthly Chirrup and Latest News and Books Section of my website) I still get a calling card wanting to know:

Where are the final Parasol Protectorate Books in Italian and Spanish?
Here's the long winded answer...

First, what happens when you sell a book overseas for translation?
From my end? Not a great deal. I get the (very) occasional ping from my French and Polish translators and slightly more reoccurring emails from Japan (mostly concerning made up words or colloquial use). I have little to no contact with my foriegn editors (until the demand instant help with promotion). Most of the time I don't even know when or if a book has released in a foriegn territory until someone tweets me. When I say I get all the information about my career from Twitter, I'm not joking.

parispompous-tumblr Collection Haute Couture fall Winter Dior 1953

Legally? Here's the gist: The foriegn house has purchased the rights to translate and produce the book exclusively in their territory. They have paid me an advance (on return of royalties). They own that right for a specific length of time and conditional on continued production, depending on the contract. Now, as they then have to go to the expense of getting the book translated and put into production and distribution, you can imagine that they purchase this right long before the book actually appears in the bookstores of that country.

If you look at the Foreign Rights page for the Parasol Protectorate (right hand column) you can see where the series as sold and which books have been bought ahead of time. Same for the Finishing School and the Custard Protocol.

Here is what it looks like for Italy:
Italy ~ Baldina & Castoldi
Soulless ~ March 2011
Changeless ~ Out now
Blameless ~ unknown
Heartless ~ unknown
Timeless ~ unknown
This publisher appears to be in trouble, since they have the rights to all the books, it could be years before Blameless appears in Italian, if ever. Intervista a Gail Carriger autrice di Soulless.

The problem? They bought the rights to translate all of the Parasol Protectorate, so any declaration of bankruptcy or other issues means my contracts are involved in the litigation - because the money has been advanced and this means my books are now assets of the company. We cannot find a new publisher until the rights are available. Eventually, we might have to activate the reversion clause for non-production but that clause is often in terms of years so it could take a very long time for us to even be able to ask.

Here is what it looks like for Spain:
Spain ~ Versatil
Sin Alma ~ November 2010
Changeless ~ October 2011
Blameless ~ April 2012
This publisher appears to be in trouble but we are trying to sell the final two books for Spanish translation.

So look on the bright side, Spain, you could be Italy left with the cliff hanger at the end of Changeless.

This situation is slightly different as they bought and brought out all three of the books that we contracted with them. However, my editor is gone and the house looks shaky. They are unlikely to buy the final two books, even if they were able to put them into production.

So what if I have/get the rights for the final books back and could sell them into these territories all over again to a different publisher?
It is VERY unusual for a publisher to pick up any series in the middle. Especially one that has gone down with the ship, as it were. Or has underperformed to expectations.

But but but, when you own the rights again, couldn't you, Gail, get them translated and self publish them?
No. I can barely handle self publishing in my own language. I'd have to figure out how to promote, produce, and distribute into foriegn markets and I find the US/UK quite frustrating enough. I'd need to find and hire translators at a fair pay with no way to proof read the end quality of the product (since I don't read any foriegn languages). Then, lucky me: I'd get angry emails about formatting and translation errors in a whole new set of languages. (As opposed to just UK and USA.) Plus, what if someone decides to sue me in one of those countries? I'd need an IP lawyer, and the necessary cash flow to protect myself in a foriegn country.

Yes, I am bitterly sorry that my books have become those books (you know the unfinished series ones that I myself loathe) but I can't afford the time or money needed to become a foriegn publisher. Which is basically what publishing them on my own would require. I don't have my sell numbers for these territories (are you surprised, given the lack of communication?) but I never earned royalties in either Italy or Spain so I can't imagine the books sold well enough for me to justify the time.

Yes, I'm so sorry for Italy who never even got to Blameless, the book that epitomizes my love for that country. And I'm upset to say goodby to Spain and a darling editor I adored and my fellow authors who I actually got to meet. I live in California, Spanish is all around me. I have dear friends who will never get to finish my books because of this.

Also, these just happen to be two of my favorite countries to visit (and eat in) and now my work is unlikely to take me there.

I know, in the end, it all comes back to food with me. You're surprised?

In the words of Dimity, "I'm a terribly, terribly shallow person."

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Published on January 19, 2015 10:23 • 97 views

January 14, 2015

One of an Occasional Series of Intellectual Salons, wherein a scientist of note hijacks this blog for the purposes of in-Gail's-world discourse.

I received a very interesting calling card, Gentle Reader, from Dr. Kelly (she has a PhD, my readers are smart!). She graciously gave me permission to pose her question to you (slightly modified by me).

Dear Miss Carriger,

I am a new fan of your tales of Alexia Tarabotti and her feats of supernatural derring-do in Victorian London. I have read Soulless and Changeless so far, and I look forward to your further volumes.

Perhaps you speak to this question in a later story, but my professional interests urge me to make the inquiry directly to you:

Does Alexia dream?

As a scientific matter, the answer would seem to be no.  Primitive peoples from the dawn of history have explained dreaming as the night journeys of the soul, temporarily liberated during sleep from the shackles of the body.  (This idea was proposed by famed British anthropologist E.B. Tylor in the 1870?s, perhaps Alexia knew him?)  If Alexia has no soul, then she could not dream, and sleep for her would simply be a state of quiet physical inactivity.

I find that a dissatisfying conclusion.  The first piece of counter-evidence would be Alexia?s enthusiastic responsiveness to her husband?s amorous solicitations.  As Dr. Freud of Vienna would begin to theorize in the 1890?s, the energies of dreaming can be intimately intertwined with the energies of erotic arousal and desire.  I find it hard to imagine, as a purely professional matter of course, that a woman with so much libidinal vitality would never have dreams that express her instinctual familiarity with those deep yearnings and timeless pleasures.

A second piece of counter-evidence is Alexia?s admirable resourcefulness, which I believe should count as a species of creativity, indeed as one of the noblest forms of creativity.  She may not know how to wield a brush or pluck at a harp, but she knows how to navigate through the most trying circumstances with good grace and proper decorum.  That is an art form in itself, one at which Alexia is a grand master.  Numerous scientific studies have suggested connections between dreaming and creative thinking, so again I have to wonder if a person with such an abundance of this type of creativity would never experience dreams reflecting the nocturnal activation of the same cerebral mechanisms that underlie creativity in the waking state.

I could adduce further evidence, but then I would have to begin using footnotes, and that would become unwieldy.  Suffice it to say there are sound reasons to doubt?on purely theoretical grounds?the Tylorian hypothesis that a soulless person, a preternatural, is incapable of dreaming.

Please let me know if you possess any information that might help to cast the clear light of scientific understanding on this intriguing (to me, in any case) question.

Thank you for your consideration,

Dr. Kelly, Scientist in Good Standing

P.S. Scholarly experience has taught me that people who say they never dream often find themselves surprised when they awaken one morning and, lo and behold, a dream has rather rudely invited itself into their conscious minds and made irritatingly permanent residence there.  One never knows....

Dr. Kelly adds this website for your perusal.

So, my dear, Gentle Reader, I pose this same question to you. Do preternaturals dream? For that matter, do supernaturals? How much of dreaming is a matter for the soul? How much is sourced in the the creative part of human make up? 

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Published on January 14, 2015 11:19 • 145 views

January 12, 2015

They say the devil is in the details, but I say the steampunk is in the details. It's the little touches to any costume (or any cosplay for that matter) that strike a cord with others. I don't know about you, but I dress up so that I can meet and mingle with fellow enthusiasts. I want people to ask me why I have teaspoons attached to the neckline of my favorite corset. (My answer: Who doesn't want spoons on their boobs?)

The best steampunk outfits that I've seen employ tiny details and nifty tricks to bring out the personality of the wearer or the character they are portraying. Since I am an author who is awfully fond of tea, most of the details in my outfits hint at writing or the sacred beverage. However, I also nod in the direction of my books and my former profession. That's part of the fun or steampunk, hinting at persona with apparel.

Here are a few of my very favorite and most useful steampunk accessories...

1. Holster

My parasol holster is made from an old pair of cargo shorts. You can adapt the idea for any oddball accessory you may have from a Nerf modded steampunk gun to a wine bottle or a burrito (I support the idea of packing food at all times).

2. Goggles

Yes goggles and steampunk get a bad rap, but I still love them. I go so far as to mock the persuasiveness of this accessory in my books. (In my final Finishing School book the young ladies of quality wear floating goggles while cutting onions.) However, it doesn't stop me from being the proud owner of my very own pair. But here's the thing, they have that little twist that make them me-ish – they have tea trainers for lenses. So useful! They were made by BruteForce Studios, but it's pretty fun to make your own using found objects that have meaning to you.

3. Fan

Speaking of Brute Force Studios, I love their leather fan. Perhaps not the most practical accessory but one thing I have learned a conventions is, temperatures vary widely. If a girl can arrange her costume to be cool in some rooms and warm in others, it's never a bad thing. This a fan is always welcome. I love it so much I mailed it to my publisher in the hopes that it might be part of the cover of my latest book. And they used it! They added blades, because my character is a spy meets assassin and thus blades must be part of the equation. However, I'm glad mine is just leather, otherwise I'd never git it through TSA.

4. Pocket Belt

In the grand scheme of useful accessories, this is my most useful. You can buy some beautiful pocket belts around the interwebs, or you can make your own from an old pair of cargo pants (I know more cargo pants, but they really are very good starters for steampunking).

5. Bolt Snaps

Perhaps not so notable in and of themselves but the best solution I have found for clipping all my favorite accessories to my belt or corset are these bronze double ended bolt snaps. You can get these handy little guys in various sizes, styles, and finishes online, from a local hardware store, or from a marine supply shop. I happen to find this particular design the most useful.

6. Magnification Lens

I can't remember where I picked up this little field lens, but I think it's adorable. It's just a bit of a magnifier, and it telescopes closed. I have used it to take a closer look at items in a dealer's room, but it's mostly just for show. I really love it because it reminds my of my former life as an archaeologist.

7. Tiny Hat

Because I am so often flying to steampunk events having small hats is key. It is rather difficult to travel with overly large head embellishments in this day and age. Yes, I am aware this particular hat is quite ridiculous. But, hey, it can also be used as a duster! I made it using an old shoulder pad and a large feather cluster rescued from some ignominious thrift store fate. The shoulder pad technique is popular in the retro community and I simply repurposed it for steampunk. All your DIYs belong to us!

8. Watch

OK, I admit, I bought this necklace watch just because I thought it was so pretty. These days you can find tons of options in many online stores. I like the necklace option because I can wear it as such or hook it onto the belt and stick it in a pocket instead. I find that at events I always need to know what time it is, and this works a treat.

9. Utensils

Food, my one true passion. I admit to having a bit of an obsession with the lowly spoon. I'm particularly fond of the ones that look like perfect little round bowls stuck on the ends of sticks. I have no logical explanation for this. Anyway, for nearby conventions I have this utensil kit I strap to my belt acquired many years ago at a local Renaissance Faire. (What? You're surprise?) But for away conventions when the knife would prove a challenge to transport I just pack the little teaspoon on a chain and clip. At first it was just for fun, but you would not believe how useful I've found it. I'm contemplating just wearing a spoon on my person at all times. But a girl can get a reputation like that. Not sure what kind of a reputation, but still...

10. Pouch

When I'm not wearing a pocket belt, I need something to carry stuff in (phone, cards, money, tiny squids and other snacks, as you do). I picked up this fab little pouch from Oberon Design at a faire years ago. (What? OK, OK, I worked there.) I added a few steampunk embellishments and an extra D ring or two and with one of those bolt snaps I can clip it to most parts of me.

Wearing All the Things with the lovely John at a local Steampunk event.

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Published on January 12, 2015 13:05 • 200 views

January 9, 2015

So, Gentle Reader, I have this weird thing about denial. I was raised rather woo and to this day my family and friends still commit acts of food control in the form of fasting, or diets, or newly discovered allergies or whatever. I enjoy the challenge of limiting myself, simply to see how my body reacts and to see if I can (I guess it is a willpower thing). But I can't really stand the idea of doing it over the long run. So I decided in 2014 that I would challenge myself with one diet fad a month.

January: No sugar except when I exercise
How did I do? OK. I fell of the wagon due to the Crudrat teas but the weather cooperated so I mostly managed at least a bike ride on those days when I wanted to eat chocolate THAT BAD.
Result? Less tired, but also less happy. I do love sugar.

February: Vegetarian (some fish)
How did I do? I eat out a lot and I didn't want to make a fuss or cause a problem so I incorporated fish three times in order to not be difficult. Otherwise, I stuck pretty closely to a veg diet.
Result? I tried new things at old favorite restaurants that I normally wouldn't order. Energy suffered by me rewarding myself with sugar, and less protein meant I was hungrier more frequently (yes, I KNOW: eat nuts and beans and tofu and such but they processed through my tummy faster than meat, they just DO). Skin seemed to like it.
"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch."
~ James Beard
March: No Wheat
How did I do? In the world of tea parties, wheat is almost impossible to avoid. I had a few lapses when I traveled but otherwise fine.
Result? I ate a lot of Asian and Indian food and rice noodles, found a good gluten free bread that toasted well and was tasty, baked more than normal in order to have yummy things without wheat. Missed my pastries. No noticeable effect on skin or weight or energy or anything.

April: Break ~ Drink Water
How did I do? Everything had to be chased with a pint glass of water. Tea, meals, snacks. I already know that don't drink enough water so this was mostly to try to get myself into the habit.
Result? Skin looked great, energy level up, familiarity with bathrooms = ridiculous. I know I should drink more water, but having to pee all the time is really lifestyle altering.

“If we're not willing to settle for junk living,
we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food.”
~ Sally Edwards
May: No Added Sugar
How did I do? I could only have done this knowing there was an end point. I allowed myself fruit. It was hard to get through the day without rewards, I started using fruit (or worse) cheetos. I had one slip up with a cocktail at the very beginning, but otherwise I managed ok.
Result? Took amazing self control to resist rewards at the beginning but by the end of the month it wasn't bad. I did actually feel really good (placebo?), all my aches and pains were less, and my skin was better. I did notice how many times I would reach for a piece of candy each day and stopped myself from doing so, but I experienced no weight loss at all! Which was annoying given how self sacrificing and noble I felt. After I finished and began eating sugar again, everything tasted too sweet.

June: No Processed Foods (became... Salad Fest)
How did I do? By 'processed food' I really meant junk and snack food, things with long lists of ingredients and lots of chemicals and preservatives. This meant candy bars were out as well as my beloved cheetos. But I was less restrictive about, say, baking chocolate for birthday cake. And cheese. I tried to eat at restaurants where I felt the food was likely to be "cleaner" so no In'n'Out.
Result? This one was too hard, possibly because I wasn't clear with myself on the category. About a week in to the process I shifted it to: substitute a salad. Where I had to eat one salad instead of one meal each day. Much easier to do, but no noticeable changes.

Arugula, watermelon, & avocado salad with feta cheese & balsamic reduction

July: No Dairy
How did I do? I chose July because it's mid-summer and that's the time I eat cheese the least. (Plus the last thing I wanted was no dairy in England next month!) I do love cheese and yoghurt and I use whey protein powder in my smoothies. The biggest problem was the fact that without milk, tea first thing in the AM upset my tummy. I experimented with drinking water and eating first, but no. I ate nuts or avocado for protein and the occasional nibble of lunch meat or sausage.
Result? I also ended up giving up coffee, because I'm a latte drinker. Bit of a headache for a few days there. I gave ice tea a try with lemon. Yech. In the mornings I ended up with a chai with vanilla almond milk. Throughout the day I cycled through second dip chai bag with new Assam bag, and visa versa. That worked pretty well (and the cat stopped trying to drink my tea). I slipped up a few times because I didn't realize there was a milk product present and there was one incident with a chocolate cream pie. I am weak. No noticeable changes.

August: Break ~ Drink Water Again
How did I do? Three weeks in England meant I was traveling which made drinking the extra water tough. But I didn't want to restrict my diet while traveling in England ~ not with my family!
Result? Not a whole lot.

"He was a very valiant man who first adventured on eating oysters."
~ James I
September: Stretching
How did I do? I wanted to add at least 20 minutes of stretching and two longer sessions a month. Sadly it backfired on me. I pushed myself (my fault, stupid high pain tolerance) in yoga class and busted my knee ligaments.
Result? Spend most of the time on and off the couch icing my knees instead. Finally just took the last week of September entirely off from all physical activity except upper body weights, minor stretching, and walking. End result was nothing.

October: Blue Zone
How did I do? Constant moderate physical activity, leafy greens, and legumes take priority. The first week I started with walking every day. Second week I incorporated in the steppy steppy to my standing computer desk at home and tried to still find time for a walk or bike ride. I ate spinach, chard, kale or something similar every other day. The legumes were hardest. I wasn't sure how to add them in, but I did my best going for at least three times a week as a protein substitute - I allowed tofu as one of these options.
Result? Not great. I did try to eat more greens and I started the custom of aarugula with my eggs at weekend breakfast. Probably good for me.

"Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
~ Mark Twain
November: Steppy Steppy
How do I do? Introduced the steppy steppy into my life more, a kind of low impact primitive stair master. Mornings and some evenings when doing writing business (and not writing itself) was spent on the steppy while working.
Result? OK. I feel a little stronger. Didn't do it for 2 weeks while on tour. Have to be careful not to push it as I kinda forget I'm on it sometimes. (Which was part of the point.) However, I gained weight. Sigh. Probably stress eating.

December: Morning stretches
How did I do? Instituted a policy of stretching along side my tea in the morning. Rather than immediately hopping onto my phone. No pressure stretching just some yoga and some old dance stretches for ten breath holds for the first 20-30 minutes of being awake. In an effort to workout the kinks.
Result? Got sick and couldn't do it.

Thoughts on this? It was an interesting test of my self control but I think my energy in this matter is better spent on other things. I'm going to have a general policy on drinking more water, using the steppy steppy, stretching, and portion control in 2015. Not really a resolution more pursing healthy living.

Instead, 2015's theme is going to be about business...

I have no problem saying no to myself and my needs and wants (see the above denial), but I have a super hard time saying no to other people's requests. A huge part of my psyche is still the girl who grew up in fandom and every invitation to attend a convention is exciting and an honor. But there is only one of me to go around and I keep edging on burn out. In 2014 I did say no more than last year, but I also got more requests... so... I'm going to work even harder on this in 2015.

How to Make Your Willpower Stronger -- According to Science

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for January? .
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Published on January 09, 2015 09:44 • 241 views

January 7, 2015

The book read along for this month is Kat, Incorrigible, I had a Jane Austen action figure standing on my desk for inspiration. Right now, I have a glittering dragon figurine instead. And you might be surprised by just how much dark chocolate is involved in the writing process…

If you drive, what do you drive?
Alas, I don’t!

No deviating: vanilla or chocolate ice cream on a plain or a sugar cone? (Gail will use this to determine your level of sanity.)
Chocolate, of course, in a sugar cone!
Gail interjects: she is entirely and perfectly wonderfully sane.

What's most likely to make you laugh?
Episodes of the TV show Black Books.
Gail interjects: the first episode of Black Books may be the funniest thing ever put on the TV.  I actually lay on the couch laughing for about 20 minutes after it ended. The AB thought there was something seriously wrong with me.

Since writers inevitably end up in the bar, what's your poison?
White wine, prosecco, or Bailey’s. (Ah, chocolate!)

Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales, surrounded by castles, mountains, and coffee shops. Her first book, Kat, Incorrigible trilogy, she’s published a YA novella (Kat all grown-up and getting a romance of her own!), and her first adult historical fantasy novel is forthcoming from Pyr Books. You can also follow Stephanie on Twitter.

About your book!
What should readers eat while consuming your novel?
Dark chocolate. This can also be consumed in the form of rich, dark hot chocolate!

What form does evil take within its pages?
Murderous, aristocratic snobbery.

Which one of your characters would you most want to kiss and why?
Ooh, that’s actually kind of a spoiler. But I’ll say that it’s a man who seems very unlikely at the beginning of the novel but changes dramatically by the end of it!

What's your favorite period in history and does it influence your world building?
I looooove Regency England as a playground, as evidenced by Kat’s setting! And I based a lot of the details of Kat’s family on Jane Austen’s own family, because I am Austen-obsessed.

Which one of your characters would you most like to slap and why?
Lady Fotherington, no question.

Without spoilers, what's the funnest (or funniest) part of the book?
It definitely involves a highwayman!

If your story smelled of something, what would that be?
Raspberries and chocolate!

In Kat Stephenson’s Regency England, magic is the greatest scandal of all. But that won’t stop twelve-year-old Kat when she has highwaymen to battle, magical schemes to combat, and true loves to catch for both of her older sisters.

I hope we all enjoy this book, as Stephanie is clearly fabulous. If you'd like to join the book discussion on goodreads please feel free, or you my always leave comment here in the blog.

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for January? .
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Published on January 07, 2015 09:23 • 60 views

January 5, 2015

I am contemplating future side scribbles, my dear Gentle Reader, and I figure who better to ask then you? Of course, I am a willful creature and one of the reasons for me to do side projects is so I can write whatever I feel like for once. So I may ignore you entirely in this matter. However, I still really want to know which side characters would you like to see get their own story? You can pick as many as you like.

View Poll: #1994539

I'll leave the poll up for a month or so.

Also feel free to leave a comment bellow if I have left anyone out, or if you have more to say on the subject.

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for January? shorts
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Published on January 05, 2015 10:16 • 240 views

January 2, 2015

So, Gentle Reader, I have confirmed the details of my tour for Prudence, the first Custard Protocol book coming out this March. Here is where I will be and I really hope to see you there.

Prudence Launch Events

San Diego, CA Mar. 17, 7:30 ~ 9:00 PM Mysterious Galaxy (5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, 92111)
It is going to be a rough tour; 6 cities in 6 days. So I am afraid I won't have any time for anything else but the appearances. It's also bracketed between two other events, the Tuscon Festival of Books, and my trip to New Zealand for their National Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. Combine that with a deadline and I am really pushing it for the first half of the year. Wish me luck?

As a result I am going to try to take it easy for the second half of the year.

Beaverton, OR Mar. 18, 2015 7:00 ~ 9:00 PM Powell’s Books (3415 Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard, 97005)
Denver, CO Mar. 19, 2014 7:00 ~ 9:00 PM Tattered Cover (2526 East Colfax Avenue, 80206)
Dallas, TX Mar. 20 7:00 ~ 9:00 PM Barnes & Noble (Lincoln Park 7700 West Northwest Hwy. #300, Lincoln Park, 75225)
Houston, TX Mar. 21, 2015 4:30 ~ 6:00 PM Murder By The Book (2342 Bissonnet Street, 77005)
San Francisco, CA Mar. 22, 2015 3:00 ~ 5:00 PM Borderlands (866 Valencia Street, 94110)

Find out more about my 2015 events here, or by subscribing to the monthly Newsletter.

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for January? Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1914 Dress  1914-1918  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Octopus training at the Dickens Fair.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Librarian

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Writers and Money


Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last Releases November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order. Edits stage.

Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First Release date March 17, 2015 available for pre-order!

The Books! [image error] The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3 Waistcoats & Weaponry [image error] The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015) The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels Soulless Vol. 1, Soulless Vol. 2, Soulless Vol. 3 [image error] [image error] $0.99 short stories (ebook only) Marine Biology, My Sister's Song , & Fairy Debt ; The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn't, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar
Book News:

jeneelestrange tumblr I told you this was going to drive me to actually draw and upload things.
*draws pentagram on the floor* Finishing School Fandom, I summon thee! Arise!

Quote of the Day:
"The story of barbecue is the story of America:  Settlers arrive on great unspoiled continent, discover wondrous riches, set them on fire and eat them."
~ Vince Staten

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list. She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its Facebook Group.
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Published on January 02, 2015 09:36 • 273 views