Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year from down under!

Happy New Year everyone! Which I get to say a little early as we're currently in Sydney, visiting my husband's family and friends and having a blast.  I've been to Australia many times before (think this is my 7th trip), but I had never seen Sydney's NYE fireworks.  This year my husband and I splurged and got tickets to a dinner-and-fireworks event at one of the best viewing areas (Mrs. Macquarie's Point).  Totally worth the $$ - we didn't have to stake out a spot 24 hours early or wait in huge lines or anything, just show up and enjoy the incredible view.  My husband had always told me Sydney's fireworks extravaganza is one of the best in the world - far better than anything he's seen in the US - and wow, he was right.

Awesome fireworks! More were being shot off from a barge in the harbor out of view to the right - so we were surrounded by light and sound.
There are actually two displays - one at 9pm that's considered the "family fireworks" and is centered in Darling Harbour but still involves the barges in the harbour and the bridge:

Family fireworks at 9pm
After that is a "parade of lights" involving ships:

A sailing ship in the parade of lights passes under the Harbour Bridge

While everybody hangs out waiting for the big show at midnight:
Relaxing under the stars, waiting for the end of 2014
The big show is indeed big - feels like fireworks are going off from everywhere!  The effects on the bridge are the neatest part.  My particular favorite was this "golden waterfall" effect:

Though really, anything involving the bridge was cool

And the finale had so much going on my poor little camera was unable to capture it in any detail!

It was a most excellent way to end the year.  We've been having plenty of other fun in Australia, too - hiking in the Blue Mountains, climbing Mt. Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains, and enjoying Sydney's lovely beaches - but I'll leave those pics for some Thursday Adventure posts later on.  Besides, we're not done having fun yet.  Still have another week before we head back to Colorado (which I hear has been getting plenty of snow while we're away - I'm looking forward to some excellent skiing once we're back!).

Far as writing goes, I'm still inching onward toward finishing my revision of The Labyrinth of Flame in between various adventures.  Once back, I'll post the 3rd chapter online, and then it'll be kickstarter time in February! I'm so excited to get this book into your hands.  Here's to a 2015 filled with awesome reads and adventures for all!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Second chapter of The Labyrinth of Flame is up

Hope those of you in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving! Mine was not exactly relaxing, mostly thanks to an annoyingly persistent cold and a lot of solo parenting.  (I took my son to visit relatives in Huntsville, Alabama, while my husband enjoyed a week of blissful solitude, in reparation for the cons I attended the month prior.)  But my son had such a great time at places like the Space & Rocket center in Huntsville that I couldn't help but have fun despite exhaustion.  

Now life's about to get really hectic, as I'm staring down the barrel of some serious day job deadlines. But for those of you who read the first chapter of The Labyrinth of Flame last month, I didn't want to leave you hanging.  Here's Chapter 2 in its entirety!  (As opposed to just the first scene, which I read at World Fantasy.)

Third chapter will be posted in January, as I gear up for the kickstarter in February.  On a final note, though I didn't get much revising done while traveling this past week, I did seize the chance to read.  Here's a quickie run-down of the books I liked best, in case anyone's looking for recs:

To Ride Hell's Chasm (Janny Wurts) - a standalone fantasy from one of the genre's greats. Interesting characters, nail-biting action, and one hell of an epic wilderness trip.  

The Crow (Alison Croggon) - third of her Pellinor epic fantasy series, and my favorite so far. Love Croggon's introspective writing and flair for poetic description.

The Darwin Elevator (Jason Hough) - fast, fun, SF adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Australia. Looking forward to reading the next installment once my husband is done with it.

Zero Sum Game (S.L. Huang) - contemporary SF with a badass heroine whose superpowers are based on her talent for math, which is fun. But it's the odd relationship between the heroine and her sociopathic best friend that really piqued my interest; I have a theory, but I don't know if it's right.  Looking forward to finding out in the next installment.

Mare's War (Tanita S. Davis) - half-historical, half-contemporary YA (not SFF) about two girls taking a reluctant trip with their grandmother, who served in the African-American battalion of the Women's Army Corps during World War II.  I read this on a recommendation from author Kate Elliott and found the story moving and the historical parts fascinating.

M.L. Brennan's Tainted Blood - third in her Generation V urban fantasy series. Yes, they are vampire books, but it just goes to show that in the hands of a talented author, the trope is not yet played out.  I enjoyed this one just as thoroughly as I did the first two, thanks to the engaging characters.