This past weekend I was at the American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to go—I love libraries. I grew up in them, and I worked at one as an assistant for about 8 months, contemplated becoming a school librarian, and was essentially a corporate librarian for 3.5 years. The fact that it was over Pride weekend was extra awesome, as it meant I could also experience one of the biggest LGBTQIA celebrations ever right after the SCOTUS win for marriage equality (Jim Obergefell’s happy, tear-streaked face was my best memory. Such joy, gratitude, lingering grief, and pride).
My photo. Loads more photos of SF Pride on my Instagram.
A very welcome overarching trend that weekend was diversity. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks group was there in force, and I saw a great panel—probably one of the best I’ve ever seen—yesterday with Marie…
Last week, my family and I took a road trip down from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles. We haven’t done a road trip with just me, my mom, and my brother for a good ten years, and it was great. On the way down, we stopped at Marina State Beach (near Monterey).The next stop was at Pismo Beach, which was lovely, and we spent the night in Santa Barbara. The next day, we explored Santa Barbara, going to the marine center and the Presidio, before we battled traffic to Los Angeles.
In LA, we stayed with my Aunt Debby, Uncle Kurt, and my cousin Jake. My aunt has changed careers lately and become an interior designer, and you can see her work here. They have a beautiful home right by LAX, so at night I heard the planes flying overhead.
We had a busy time when we were down south. On the Friday, me, my mom, and my aunt had a girl’s morning and had manicures and pedicures. Then we all met up for sushi. After that, my brother had to play chauffeur and bring me to a meeting with one of my film agents, Jon Cassir. It was really surreal sitting in the lobby of Creative Artists Agency, realizing I was represented by the same company that reps so many film stars. It was one of those moments where at the low point at the start of 2014 where I thought my career was over and you told me in 1.5 years I’d be sitting there, I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a great meeting where I learned more about how film options and development works, as I wasn’t entirely sure before.
After that, my brother and I went down to Long Beach to meet my older half-sister Wendy, who lives in Anaheim. My dad had two kids as a teenager and two kids in his forties, so my older sister is 52. We had a nice meal at a diner then came back, getting lost about 50x in the process.
Saturday was devoted to book research. My option book for my Tor contract is set in LA, so it was incredibly useful to be able to crawl around downtown and see some buildings I’d googled while drafting the first half of the book. It was sad to see how certain parts of downtown, like the area around the Bradbury building, had once been so lovely but now looked a bit tired and run down, with most of the grand theatres shut or turned into random shops.
Saturday night was my aunt’s birthday, where I was able to see my cousin Dylan and his wife, Rixt, and their adorable daughter Ava for the first time since they moved away from Amsterdam in 2013. Rixt’s parents were also out, and last time I was in Amsterdam we went to their very adorable home outside the city.
Sunday, my childhood friend Natalie drove up from Orange County with her also adorable daughter, Isis. We wandered around Hollywood, which was a trip. So loud and crowded and so many different people smooshed together. People dressed up in costumes or street performers trying to make a buck. People hawking tours around the star’s homes. Religious people in conservative clothing trying to save all the sinners. Little kids amazed at the princesses. Gawping tourists, locals just trying to get from one side of Hollywood to the other.
Monday was Disneyland. We left the house early and was actually through parking and the lines and into the park by 9 am. We left the park at around half ten at night. We went on 18 rides, walked almost 11 miles, and got to have dinner at the Blue Bayou, aka the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Tuesday it was time to head back up north. We said farewell to our family and hit the road. I was feeling so drained from Disneyland (near the end of the night I’d half-lost my voice), so I slept in the car. We took a hike at Point Lobos and saw seals!
That night we spent in Carmel, which was very cute and quaint but would be crazy expensive to live there. We had some amazing Mediterranean food.
The last day of the road trip, we explored Carmel a little more, spent some time on the beach, and went to the nearby mission. By then, we were nearly home, and it felt good to be back and knowing Craig, my husband, would be flying out the next day.
Now I’m still hanging out with family a lot, but trying to get back into work, doing such joyous tasks as my UK and US taxes. I’ve finished a short story and will soon tackle my half-finished book, which should be easier now that I’ve visited the setting. It’s been nice to be back 🙂
Didn’t read as much as I’d like due to editing deadlines, but I still went through a couple.
1. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Niell. A dystopian future similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see why it’s gotten so much attention, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’d try another book of hers, though.
2. The Mirrored World – Debra Dean. Historical fiction set in Russia around Catherine the Great’s time. I enjoyed it but certain aspects felt glossed over.
3. The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes. Been meaning to read this for ages after really enjoying Broken Monsters. It was a creepy, enjoyable thriller starring a time travelling serial killer.
4. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. Re-read in anticipation of Fool’s Quest being out this summer. I want to read the sequel so badly it pains me.
5. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. A story of a woman sentenced to death for murder in Victorian Iceland. Well-researched and written, and unsurprisingly, a sad read.