I’m Going to Paris!

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This year is the first in about four when I’ve actually been able to take a holiday in my case split across two weeks and seeing me visit Bath (three days), London (four days) and Paris (four days). Holidays, in case you didn’t know, are definitely beneficial to my mental and physical health, so much so that I’m going to make them yearly things. Ellen is coming to England and was very keen to jump across the channel to see France. It’s certainly easy enough to do and I’ve spent the last two days booking everything (it’s what I do—and very well too).

After learning from London, we’ve booked a bus tour for two days which will allow us to visit the important tourist spots (Notre Dame, Sacre Cour, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre) and transport us around the city the scenic way, it even includes a cruise on the Seine! I found us a perfectly centred hotel near Opera (not far from the Louvre) and close to Little Tokyo (yay!!). I got myself some euros today and plug converters for my phone and laptop.

I am feeling, in all honesty, a tad smug right now. I might not like Paris (in the same way that I hate all big cities) but I am looking forward to the experience, to being able to spend a morning in the Louvre and doing research for my Alt.History 102 story. I like the Louvre, especially as I get in free (yay for disability privileges) and the great thing is I’m going with other people, adults who happen to be friends of mine. This means we’re going to enjoy wine and fine food, hilarity and while I might not be able to move for a few days after, I’m still going to enjoy myself.

So erm PARIS!

Alt.History 102 Unlocks and I’m In It!

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Sam just announced the line up for Alt.History 102, the second in his new series of anthologies focusing on, well, alternative histories and parallel universes. You can find out more information via the official Facebook group for the Future Chronicles. The first volume in the series is up for pre-order now and will be available and the cover should give you some idea of how awesome this new series is going to be!

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I’ve pitched a story idea to Sam which he’s accepted and I have two ideas I want to pursue over the summer based off this pitch. I love alternate histories because they allow me to indulge my inner historian and my pitch is about a specific period that I’ve not had a chance to cover since my degree years. This story is, however, not connected to my other universes, rather it’s a chance for me to go ‘what if’ about a major historical event and then throw in some interesting stuff for good measure. I’ll talk more when I can but for now this is going to be an awesome project and I’m honoured to be a part of this anthology!

Summer’s Coming

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I got Uni clipped a couple of weeks ago and I’m so glad. She gets so hot in summer anyway and the loss of her hair seems to take off a few years with them. I subscribe to the ‘hot weather, drench the dog’ method of keeping my canine cool. Several years has taught me that I can work Uni up to 25C, thirty if we’re in air-conditioned buildings with water to hand. This time of year has lead to me walking around with a 27oz can of iced water, a bandana and the ability to soak both pooch and bandana liberally as soon as it gets warm.

Happy Uni.

Of course I need to be in Norwich when it’s hot (Wednesday and Friday) but I can easily plan routes so that we’re in Starbucks or somewhere with a free water source like the Playhouse. The key point is keeping Uni hydrated, wearing my hat (because yay for sun sensitive medication on my count) and keeping both of us cool/migraine free. Even better I can dump a load of water over and it rolls right off her back but does drop her temperature (Uni vomits when she overheats). Typically said heatwave also means it’s mandatory check in time with my GDMI so I’m sure that day will be mega hot on principle.

It’s a week-long heatwave, we can survive this, right?

At least, at home, I have ice cream and cold water, a fan and open windows (my flat does summer brilliantly) but I also have places to be so it’s finding the balance between the two.

Until then, bandana mode!

The Z Chronicles: The Unboxening and Some Other Stuff

I don’t usually buy paperbacks unless they’re my books. I have a shelf, fast filling with my tomes (remember I have at least five books planned for this year alone). Getting books that I’ve had some part in creating … it’s incredibly cathartic. Seeing The Z Chronicles has reminded me in a few months we’ll have The Parting of the Waters, Beyond the Stars Beneath the Sea, A Star Filled Sea, One in Blue, The Other Green and hopefully A World of Strange New Things (though that may slip back to 2016).

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And these are just my projects; the ones I can talk about.

In other news I’ve started submitting The Changing of the Sun to competitons, both local and online. I’ve also started submitting shorter works to professional outlets and contemplating my Clarion UCSD/West 2015 applications. Doing Z has reminded me that I can, in fact, write fiction professionally so now is the time to start finding places to submit to. I desperately want to get more work in the Chronicles as well simply because the books are done so professionally and Sam is a dream come true to work with. However if I’m going to keep writing short fiction I have to start looking elsewhere, at where I like to read and begin submitting again.

Last time that was terrifying; this time I feel ready.

Soulless: The Reviews

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So today is launch day for The Z Chronicles and reviews have started rolling in. The launch party is in a couple of hours (I have to talk to some Scouts first) and I’m first up to host. The awesome point is that people have started talking about The Soulless: A History of Zombieism in Chiitai and Mihari Culture (aka, simply, Soulless)! Wanna see?

Lesley Smith’s “The Soulless” – Sandis is a medical student on an alien world in a universe where Earth has recently been brought into a galaxy spanning collective organization. Sandis asks her professor about the Earth legends about zombies and is led into doing some interesting historical research. What she finds is a comprehensive history spanning eons, where a powerful alien hive-mind controls zombie-like drones and uses them as pawns in the rise and fall of various empires. I thought this was an excellent, well-developed cultural exploration of two of the galaxies dominating cultures as they battle for supremacy over the course of their war-torn history. An engaging and intriguing exploration in the use of these zombies to perpetuate war through the ages makes for truly engrossing reading, filled with rich and enticing detail.

and:

Well it was interesting, liked it. It was sci-fi and mild horror mix for me. I liked 873e! Like the story, have to re-read sometimes as I jumbled up the names lol.

(Note from me: Awesome, you will be getting more of e.)

and:

More alien zombies, and again it’s a good story. The frame story of an alien student asking about the zombie myth is engaging.

Jurassic World

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First off I’ve not taken Uni to the movies in a while. My anxiety meant I’m not a great fan of auditoriums full of people as Uni tends to have trouble settling down which, in turn, flashes me back to the first half dozen times we went to the movies and I got screamed at for having a tart for a guide dog who is more interested in people than she is in being quiet at my feet.

Right, that done, let me take you back to 1993 when I was a wee lass. My father, who was a self-confessed Crichton geek before geekdom existed (apparently my dad met him during a residence at Addenbrookes where both the parental units worked), decided to see Jurassic Park. For some reason, probably because it was the one day in all of my life where he had dad duty, he decided to take me and my ten year old brother with him.

Yeah, smart move, Dad.

We went into Cambridge to the biggest cinema and I remember being enthralled and terrified. I think I might have stolen the book (I love it) and read it either before or just after (books were the Wikipedia of their day). It was an awesome movie and remains one of my favourites to this day. It’s also the only time my Dad ever took us to the movies.

Today, aged 34, I went to see Jurassic World. I know there were like two other sequels but this movie, oh for all it’s flaws, stupid science and high heel running, was the one the original deserved. There were all these delicious throw backs, from the musical score to the original park, even little things like Mr DNA and the acid-spitting dinosaur. I loved it.

I totally feel like a child again right now!

The Smallest Things

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I’ve been stupidly busy, spending much of my time in Norwich. After we got back from London I had a three day spoon crash where I, literally, couldn’t do anything because I ached so much. Ugh … the joys of whatever kind of CFS is wrong with me. I did too much, I suffered for it. Simple as but it has reminded me to focus on the little things.

  • Editing (my pass) on The Parting of the Waters is going okay. I’m trying to take it slow, trying to remind myself this is the last time I’ll get to make changes that I want/need to make.
  • I got to sit in a car, in the driver’s seat, yesterday. I’ve never done that before and it made me envious of all those people who can see, who can drive. It also made me more eager than ever for a driverless car. I know they’re coming and I need to be patient. Technically, if I wanted, I could get a car tomorrow but I don’t have anyone to drive it so I have to wait.
  • I’ve decided to go driving for the blind as a 35th birthday present for myself so if anyone wants to get me something: DRIVING A 4×4 FOR THE BLIND!
  • Today I went tandeming for the first time (a tandem, for those not in the know, is a bicycle built for two. Or in my case a tricycle). It’s one of those rare occasions when I’ve actually felt blind and fucking terrified. Also my pubic bone hurts and I got stuck twice, my left leg doesn’t move on command. Grrr. I enjoyed it but it’s definitely a thing I need to do on my anti-anxiety meds.
  • The weather was gorgeous though.
  • I finished The Martian yesterday. It was awesome! And the movie has been bumped forward to October so YAY!
  • Ben continues to make beautiful art for Parting:

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  • I’ve been going to Zumba 2-3 times a week and it’s really helping, I’ve lost close to a stone and am feeling better (in part because Shannon has been known to make me breakfast). I’ve been attempting to eat Real Food and while it’s still a work in progress, it’s a slow change.
  • I’ve started paying for counselling to try and come to terms with the stuff behind my PTSD. I’ve been reading psychology books and researching conditions that explain why I’m so messed up in my brain.
  • Oh, oh, oh: I have a book coming out next week: The Z Chronicles! Go and buy your copy here: http://smarturl.it/z-chronicles
  • It’s sunny outside! Also Summer!

The Martian

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I’m a little late to this party, having only now remembered the audiobook was sitting in my queue waiting to be listened too. This hasn’t been a great weekend for me (my depression is acting up and my Muse is being flaky) so I decided this would be an ideal time to start listening to The Martian.

First off, this book is amazing in audiobook. The formatting of it (via audio logs) is made for this and the narrator is really excellent, managing to really convey the sarcasm, geekness and pop culture references whilst also being really good at giving all the other characters in the more conventional parts of the book a voice.

Loving the science, loving the plot and really digging the whole ‘hard sci fi’ feel to the book.

Also really excited about the movie. The trailer just dropped and I’m actually really excited about seeing the movie (bonus points for Matt Damon). November 25 isn’t so far away and it’s going to be excellent on the big screen.

Favourite bit: “I’m just going to have to science the shit out of this.”

Gods I love profanity when used in a sarky and original manner.

The Z Chronicles: Coming 15th June 2015!

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The Z Chronicles, in which my story The Soulless: A History of Zombieism in Chiitai and Mihari Culture is featured, finally has a cover and a release date! You’ll be able to get your hands on it on 15th June by preordering here: http://smarturl.it/z-chronicles

Go forth and pre-order!

A Little Magic …

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So my friend Shannon and I went to London (more to come) and this morning we had to go via King’s Cross in order to get home (ditto). On a whim I suggested, having seen Felicia Day posting about Platform 9 and ¾ I suggested we take a peek.

There was a queue.

It turns out that A LOT of people go to King’s Cross in search of the Hogwarts Express. You can even buy tickets. Uni, Shannon and I stood in the queue and they gave us a choice of scarves from each of the houses. I picked Gryffindor (I’m more a Ravenclaw but needs must). Uni wanted to wear the scarf but due to the possibility of human wizards with allergies she was relegated to carrying my wand (which they sell in the little shop for £34!!!!)

We took pictures and then learned of the little shop. My friend’s kidlet is a massive HP fan so I picked him up a 9 and ¾ keyring and his sister a micro Hedwig plus two tickets as they will shortly be visiting the theme park in Surrey so I figured this would be a nice thing to give them on the morning they leave.

Look the ticket:

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The little shop was amazing. I picked up a Deathly Hallows’ keyring to put on my bag (my newest collecting idea as keyrings last a lot longer than the omamori I usually carry) and one for Platform 9 and ¾. The shop was awesome: selling photos professionally taken by witches with cameras and all manner of Harry Potter merchandise. I loved the T shirts and authentic wands but, oh boy, my credit card hated the place! How could I have wandered through King’s Cross for so many years without realising it was here???

New Ebook Alert: The Barn That Hanna Built Now Available!

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Last year I got to write for an anthology, the story was one of my favourites and I’ve finally gotten around to publishing it as a stand alone. In case you’ve forgotten, here are some of my favourite reviews of my little story The Barn That Hanna Built:

This comment from David Bruns’ review of Tales:

In The Barn That Hanna Built by Lesley Smith, we find hacker Hanna Strauss, forced out of the city to hide out among the Amish. In her city existence, Hanna was obsessed with coding the perfect country setting, but when she seeks refuge among the Amish, she finds she’s actually living inside that landscape. This story has a nice twist to it, and Smith has a visceral, detailed style that evokes vivid mental images in the reader.

Another review by Chris F also touches on the nicer parts of Hanna’s story:

Lesley Smith’s “The Barn That Hanna Built” – Hanna is a young adult orphaned as a child due to the war with Transport, living under the under the shadow of its surveillance in the city. Caught up in city life, she remains anonymous and unknown to others, which is perfect for her secret identity, which presents itself as a threat to Transport. When she’s forced into hiding, she puts her computer skills to good use, inadvertently playing an important but invisible role in the ongoing war. I was really struck how the author’s words painted a very lush & vivid description, evocatively bringing this world to life. Also, I was delighted with the outcome because you don’t realize how important this story is to the overall Pennsylvania mythos until you finish it – well done!

Go get it here for just $0.99!

New Ebook Alert: Her Soul, In Silver Out Now!

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I have a new book out today, it’s a short story called Her Soul, In Silver. It’s one of those short stories where I want to write more about the world, a fantasy land wrecked by a cataclysm which turned fertile land into snow-covered icebergs. It has selkie, mages, magic and true love.

Oh and it’s $0.99. So buy, read and review it now!