Back from America, and other stuff

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been that active, either here or on social media, etc. Well, that’s because for the past few weeks I’ve been paying a visit to good ol’ US of A. And you know what? I had a ripping good time.

Not all of it, though. We ran into at least a dozen complications with our booking before we even got to the mainland, this namely being the airline forgetting to put my dad’s last name on his ticket (how we even passed the gate in Sydney is an enigma that’s never gonna be solved), the travel agency assigning us to the wrong airline, an airline that we had to pay for both entertainment (a sorry selection at that) and meals. On a 22 hour flight.

Oh, and we couldn’t even sit together.

But we did manage to solve this all in the end, although the process was nothing but painful.

First stop was Hawaii before our connecting flight to Los Angeles, but I can’t say I remember too much of it since I was half-dead and completely jet-lagged. I just remember it being hot, sandy, and stormy. L.A. was a different matter entirely. We spent three days at Disneyland, California and Univerisal Studios park, and I can’t remember a time when I ever felt more like a kid. You’re never too old to go there, seriously.

You may, however, recognize these locals.

 

 

IMG_2431I’d have hoped you’ve seen Back to the Future, right? RIGHT?

IMG_2435 However, you’re less likely to have seen Gone Girl. This was where they filmed the kissing scene next to the sugar factory at the beginning. Yes, I was looking for the boxcutter.

Oh, and we went to this little place called the Hollywood walk of fame.

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And then was the drive to Vegas. Six hours through nothing but this.

IMG_2489It was a beautiful sight, though. You always hear about the Mojave desert, and you see the Mid-Western desert a lot in films. But to actually see the barren landscape for what it is…that’s a different story altogether.

And then, there was Vegas. Oh, Vegas….

IMG_2511I mean, seriously, who builds a metropolis of gambling, sex and booze in the middle of the desert? Americans, of course, and it was awesome. Not the gambling and sex, of course, but you can get some dirt-cheap beer in the States.

The thing about Vegas is that it’s wrapped in a time-warp. You can wonder the streets for hours and hours like we did, and suddenly realise it’s 1:30am. There’s no change in crowds, and (almost) everything’s open around the clock. I also couldn’t help thinking what would happen if there was some sort of apocalypse how lucky everyone in Vegas at the time would be. You’d likely be shielded from the worst of it and in one of the most lavish places on earth. But then they made a videogame out of that, so I won’t be copyrighting that concept!

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Oh, and I couldn’t not share this.

IMG_2540*Slow clap.* 10 points for creativity right there!

Sadly our trip there was pretty short and we drove back to LA in the early hours of the morning for our flight to New York City. We stayed in Brooklyn. Easily the highlight of the trip. It’s such a progressive place: it’s got such a *now now now* vibe to it that you can’t help but kept swept up in it. IMG_2575 IMG_2569

 

 

And then there’s Times Square.

 

 

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Seriously, there’s no place like it on earth. We only had a few days there, but it definitely wasn’t enough. A month would have only allowed us to scrape the surface. It’s a gold-mine of discoveries in that city and I’m roaring to go back.

I also had the opportunity to meet up with fellow author and editor Alex Shvartsman. A good many conversations over various things were had, and an extremely tasty pizza was consumed. I even reviewed his collection for Strange Horizons, which you can check out here.

I just wish I had more time in that place…IMG_2671

 

Oh, and look what I happened to pass by!

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Anyway, we were onto Boston to stay with my aunt and uncle. Now here’s where we ran into a roadbump: I got food-poisoning. Or something. I dunno what it was and at this point I’m afraid to ask. All I know is that our six hour drive from NYC to Boston consisted of me hugging my stomach and needing to stop every few minutes because I was on the verge of puking. Thankfully I didn’t and after what seemed like a drive through Satan’s personal traffic lane we arrived in Boston. It took me a good three days to recover. Three days of eating dry toast, drinking flat lemonade and sweating in bed. Amoung other things, but I’ll spare you the gory details.

Eventually I did recover, and we set out to explore Boston. It was definitely a much more relaxed pace than before – we weren’t rushing around desperate to see everything like before. And I have to say that Boston is a beautiful city. Very English. IMG_2690Oh yeah, did I mention Americans like guns? Like, like like?

No? Well, I am now. IMG_2732

I swear, there were more guns in that room than the entiriety of Australia. Rows and rows and rows of ’em. And yeah, I got to hold one. More than one. Many more than one. And that’s all I’m gonna say on the matter. But still, it’s strange to see these killing machines on the racks as if they were bread rolls!

A few more pictures o’ the landscape, including one that wouldn’t look out of place on another planet! Seriously, look at those veins in the rock!IMG_2743

We stopped at a little quaint village for coffee, and this was our view. You could do much worse.

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Aww, bless your heart, auntie. You’ll make anarchists out of us yet.

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Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and I’m back in Sydney, knee-deep in uni work and other stuff. It’s my last semester, which I have mixed feelings about. I can’t wait to get away from the study and work and turn to making a career out of writing and working in the publishing industry somewhere…but never getting up in the morning and going to your favourite class? No longer seeing your friends daily? No longer experiencing that university spirit? It’s a toughie.

 

Oh, and I do have news. Well, pretty big news in fact. We’ll call it That Thing that I Can’t Talk About™. Unfortunately I can’t talk about That Thing that I Can’t Talk About™ just yet, so it’ll have to be on hold. But it consists of several things, and those things are sales to major markets, including one I’ve been trying to break into for several years now.

But enough of my rambling. I’ll update you when I can.

And ’til next time, America! Keep being weird.

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Honourable Mention from Writers Of the Future contest!

So, I sent in this little science-fiction short story in somewhere. Where, may you ask? Only the biggest writing competition in the world. The same one that shot people like Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind) to fame. I knew I was up against heavy odds. So then, after a bit of correspondence, I got this in the mail….

 

CCF08072014_00000Yep. An Honourable Mention.

I already knew I’d gotten it and was going to get something similar in the mail, but it hasn’t really hit home for me just how awesome this is. Until now, of course. I’ll be framing it somewhere. It’s my first major award, and I hope that it won’t be the last.

A special thanks to Alan Baxter, Mark Lawrence and Robin Hobb for their support and encouragement, particularly to Alan and Megan (Robin’s real name) who I met at Supanova 2014 here in Sydney. They’re awesome people, and their encouragement and urging to never give up did a lot for me.

The story that won, A Dome of Chrome, is scheduled to release in Issue 23 of On The Premises Magazine on July 12.  I’ll be in Thailand at the time. Yep. That’s my way of celebrating. (not really, I’m going there to visit my friends, who will be forced to read this story and savour every morsel.)