Tagged 20 Minute Delay Podcast

ECCC ~ The Comicon to Beat

Posted by Gail Carriger


I have just returned from Emerald City Comicon (ECCC), Gentle Reader, and what a pleasant time was had by all. The only other comic con I have attended is San Diego (SDCC). While I enjoyed it very much, it was, frankly, overwhelming.

In which I meet DOOM


Emerald City Comicon Report

ECCC had everything I liked best about SDCC, but on a much more manageable scale. It has fewer actors and thus less star power (obv. no LA), but since that’s not really my fandom, I didn’t miss it. I have a Nor Cal lady’s suspicion of LA whenever it rears its beautiful plastic head. I liked that ECCC felt more down home and properly fannish. It really was all about the comics.

 Yes, I did try to dress on the first day to match the convention’s color theme.

Seattle seemed to handle the influx with aplomb. They even rolled out nice weather for us. The con-bar was good (if overwhelmed). I liked my hotel (there was a pool, a bathtub, and a decently priced veggie omelet on room service, all I really care about). I even managed to figure out the convention center lay out, after a few days. I never had to wait too long in any line (several of the bathrooms are gender neutral, which always helps with the line situation).

All in all, I highly recommend it and I intend to return again… if invited of course.

The Details of Gail in Seattle

I actually arrived a day early with the AB in tow, to spend time exploring the city. We started out by tracking down the Crumpet Shop for breakfast (on the recommendation of the awesome Piper J. Drake).

It’s a tiny place but well worth a visit. The crumpets were delicious and they offered butter and proper Marmite. Which, as this is basically my standard breakfast, made me endlessly happy.

The tea was excellent too. I had the loose leaf Assam (of course) a nice full leaf, rich aroma, malty and subtle. Highly recommended. Whole milk available to add, as it should be (but often isn’t).

We then visited the fish market. Where I admired this fine fellow:

We then trekked all over the city, visited Serious Pie (also thanks to Piper) and other yummy food spots. That evening was Drinklings (a private gathering for writer and other industry pros) and was, as always, a blast.

via @photosandbacon  Seattle, Washington, c.1891, Puget Sound, Aerial, “Bird’s Eye View”

Friday I had two panels, each followed by a signing. My first panel was standing room only, and I had thought it would be your standard world building 101, but the moderator kept us at a clip, my fellow panelists (Lisa MantchevDavid Levine) were witty and smart, and the audience questions were engaging. The second panel was the Orbit crew (Seanan McGuire, Sam Sykes, Brent Weeks). I’ve said it before: I feel like Orbit picks authors based on who is the biggest punk-arse at the bar. Sam started us off by stealing my hat and accusing Brent of something unmentionable and it went downhill from there. I had no less than three people come up after to say that they had never before laughed so hard at a panel. I call that a win.

After that, it was off to an evening of bar crawling and debauchery. As you do. Memorable moments include meeting a young man at the Boom party who has a new urban fantasy coming out based on bartenders fighting crime with cocktail magic (the mind, she boggles), several excellent cosplays, too many Moscow mules (I blame Myke Cole), and a great deal of gossip all of which is now quite fuzzy. That’s OK, I shall enjoy being shocked by it all over again at the next con.

The next day I had a signing at the Badali Jewelry booth. The ladies were most welcoming, the Bumbersnoot necklace was much admired, and I still had time to nip over and up to University Books to sign stock for them. So if you missed me, Seattle, you can get a signed book from them until they run out.

Then I walked the length of the city to Seattle Mystery Bookshop for my off site signing. (I found Gelatiamo on the way where they had Diplomatico, my favorite pastry, and Affogato, the only way to drink coffee). Everyone not a the con met me there, and a few hardy souls followed me over. I had a super fun Q&A with the die hard fans ~ I love you all so much!

 With a visiting Alexia and Sophronia!

I was gifted some wonderful loot including a hat, some buttons, a calligraphic letter, bookmarks, tea, octopus necklace set and so much more. Everyone is always so generous and crafty in Seattle.

The AB being exhausted from a long hike up a mountain, I crashed the Worldbuilders charity gaming event (well, OK, Pat said I could) and played games to raise money for Heifers International. It’s a fun idea, you pay to attend and then you can play your favorite board or card games with famous authors and comic book artists. There was also a silent action, a raffle, snacks, and a bar.

Peter Orullian (@PeterOrullian) took this photo as evidence. With @bobproeh

Yes I, even I, will play a game on occasion if is is antiquities based and for charity. I settled into 7 Wonders. And quite enjoyed myself.

With Peter Brett at the bar after.

All in all, a wonderful trip. I look forward to returning in the future.

As ever, you don’t have to take my word for it. Aloisius and I ~ The Adventures of Literary Miscreants reports on my bookstore visit, Gail Carriger, Steampunk Maven.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is To Play the Lady by Naomi Lane.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via books0977-tumblr
Mrs. Henry Standish née Hélène de Pérusse des Cars (28 March 1882).
Paul Nadar (1856-1939).
Charenton-le-Pont, Médiathèque de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine.jpg

Here shown posing with a book and umbrella [no, parasol says Gail], Helen Standish, a woman of the world known for her beauty, was a familiar figure in French and British society. She received in her Paris salon many renowned artists and inspired Marcel Proust.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Adorable blowfish hat featured in my signing line on Saturday

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Matrimonial Advertisements in the 19th Century

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The Ready to Write Bag

Book News:

Quote of the Day:

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

~ Oscar Wilde

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Gail Carriger’s Master List of Convention Packing & Attending Tips (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger


I have a number of posts on attending conventions, Gentle Reader. I thought I would pull them together for easy reference.

First, here’s a good article on choosing what events to attend.

And another On the Pros and Cons of Comic Cons

I average about 12 events a year divided between: comicons, small or large SF/F conventions, trade shows, book fairs, writing retreats, writers conferences, book tours, and their various international equivalents.

Gail’s Favorite 10 Convention Commandments

I believe that these apply across the board, regardless of convention size, and pretty much whenever traveling anywhere.

1. Thou shalt follow the 6, 2, 1 rule. At least six hours sleep, two full meals (one of them a big breakfast), and one bath.*
2. Thou shalt wear deodorant but not perfume.
3. Thou shalt tip thy maids.
4. Thou shalt wear layers.
5. Honor thy moderator.
6. Thou shalt carry badge, ID, business cards, phone, cash, name tent, mints, floss, tissues, pain killers & other meds, compact, snacks, and water upon thy person at all times.
7. Thou shalt not eat raw onions.
8. Thou shalt follow the protocols of cosplay. (No realistic weapons, no sticky substances AKA the PB & J rule, no view obstructing wings or hats, be aware of your costumed dimensions.)
9. Thou shalt not put a backpack on a large man. (Nothing worse than being a short female constantly whacked in the face by a backpack-wielding Sasquatch, particularly on planes.)
10. Thou shalt shalt not dress like a slob.

Details in this post: 13 Top Tips for the Travelling Writer

* In my case this is the 8, 3, 2 rule. I try to get at least 8 hours sleep, hence you see me heading to bed at midnight. I eat 3 full meals (you knew Alexia’s obsession with food came from me, right?). And I take a shower in the morning and a bath, or at least a soak for my poor feet, in the evening.

Ply me with a drink sometime and I will tell you about the Secret of the Baby Brick and how to get the right hotel…

Or you can listen to my podcast: 20 Minute Delay for all my travel hacks.

Meanwhile, let’s talk packing.

1882 Traveling Bag

How to Master Modular Packing

 In addition to pockets in various suitcases, I’m a believer in keeping everything as modular as possible. I’ve two sets of Travelon bags, clear with colored zipper tops, 7 different sizes. (Plastic baggies work well enough in a pinch.) I travel enough to find something more durable worth the $14.
Travelon Set of 7 Packing Envelopes, Assorted Sizes $14


I like to use the largest baggie for my itinerary, magazines, and lecture notes to review on the plane. I find it works better than a folder, nothing falls out. Also it accommodates both paper sizes for international trips. In a pinch it can be used to transport parts of manuscripts, during proofs, for example.

Author Convention Attending Kit

L-R, T-B = promo postcards, pens for signing all types of books, special cards to give away to kaffeeklatch, small notebook, name tents, newsletter sign up sheet, business cards, book covers (first in each series).

Food Kit

At conventions my schedule is often so busy I resort to eating snacks and leftovers out of my room fridge (if lucky enough to have one). My food kit includes extra mints, condiments, mini marmites (legitimately stolen when in the UK), G2 for dehydration headaches, vitamins & pills, and proper tea utensils. I’ve recently added a pocket knife to the mix, although only for checked luggage. Not pictured: protein bars (I’ve recently become enamored of Coconut Macadamia Bounce Energy Balls mostly because they are higher on the protein lower on the sugar and smaller than bars like Luna) or some other healthy snack (I make myself dried fruit-and-nut mixes). Also a Clear2Go water filtration bottle for plane travel and tea making once I land. Speaking of tea…

Tea Kit

There is the customary tea supply (14 bags, two for each day) plus about 5 raspberry leaf, creamer (I need to steal more) for emergency use only, and the water boil coil with European adapter.

Here is how I use it:


I have a hanging roll. I got it free with a magazine in England some 15 years ago and I will be CRUSHED when it finally dies since there doesn’t seem to be anything else like it out there. I’ve arranged it so there are no liquids, thus I never have to worry about TSA. So far, airport security has never asked me to unroll it.

I use a jewelry roll for my jewelry, no picture, it’s just a cheepie from Marshalls.


I have three kits: long haul, on-plane, and short haul.

  •  The black long haul stands up on its own, great for hotels, and gets wrapped in a plastic bag inside my checked luggage, so it doesn’t have to be clear.
  • The littlest one is for on-plane long flights when the long haul toiletry is checked. It is comprised mainly of solid state products and sample products in tiny packages so it gets through security without having to be removed. But it’s clear just in case. Eye drops and lip balm are a must. Also this kit should work for at least one overnight in case of getting stranded. (Always have at least a change of underthings with you at all times when traveling.)
  • The larger clear bag, for weekend short haul trips, does have to be taken out at security, so it’s packed in the outside pocket of my carry-on for ease of access.

Emergency Kit

Here’s a blog I did on Retro Rack featuring the contents of my fashion emergency kit.

Want a more detailed break down of the contents of these kits?  Find it in this older blog post.

{Gail’s monthly read along for February 2016 is Terrier: The Legend of Beka Cooper Book 1 by Tamora Pierce.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Journal des Dames Date-  Wednesday, September 1, 1847 Item ID-  v. 32, plate 59

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Watch This Octopus Attack on Snorkeler Kill with Cuteness

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Recipe: Artichoke Barigoule (1879)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
10 Women Who Changed Sci Fi

Book News:
Feral Wordmonger says of jumping into the middle (!) of the Finishing School series:

“I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how exactly I was able to move so smoothly into the dead center of a book series like that. And all I can reckon is that I was able to follow along because the narrative moved forward just as confidently as the heroine herself.”

Quote of the Day:

“They assault and batter nothing but pianos; they steal nothing but ideas; they murder nobody except Chopin and Beethoven.”

~ P. G. Wodehouse, The Man with Two Left Feet And Other Stories

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Gail’s 10 Travel Commandments & Staying Healthy on the Road (Important for Writers)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Although my travel season has ended, I realize that it is likely you, Gentle Reader, are getting ready to head off various places for the holidays. In consequence, I felt it might be time to fix and reboot this blog post. Also I was recently asked on Goodreads about how I stay healthy when traveling, so I thought I would add a bit on that at the end.

Gail’s 10 Travel Commandments

  1. Thou shalt not eat ice cream, fish, beans, or onion-based foods directly before a flight.
  2. Thou shalt wear socks, deodorant, and a wide warm scarf for air travel.
  3. Thou shalt not wear perfume, after-shave, or difficult shoes.
  4. It is better to buy a sandwich and not eat it than to go hungry.
  5. Thou shalt pack extra necessities and underthings in the carry on, in case of stranding.
  6. Remember the seat-back in front of you. (Make yourself a seat pocket kit to quickly stash after boarding: reading material, pen, phone, itinerary, passport/ID, chapstick, breath mints/gum, tea bags, tissues, ear buds.)
  7. Thou shalt not over indulge in sugar or alcohol, your immune system has enough to deal with.
  8. Thou shalt not eat sushi in a land-locked state.
  9. Thou shalt not dangle: fit it in your bag or wear it, never strap it on.
  10. No backpacks. Really, you, tall dude, no backpack – stop beaning me in the head.


teens traveler

Don Toth asked Gail Carriger on Goodreads:

How do you stay well and fit when on the road?

  • Gloves. I have perennially cold hands and a vintage look. Gloves go with both, but they also keep me from getting sick from constantly shaking hands.
  • On planes I work extra hard never to touch my face and I wash my hands regularly at airports. I also carry individually wrapped anti-bacterial Wet Ones, I find them more useful than hand sanitizer.
  • I drink alcohol only once or twice at a convention, and only if I know I can sleep in the next morning.
  • I try to always get 8 hours sleep.
  • I don’t eat fried food or sugar on the road, and I gravitate towards lean protein and leafy green vegetables if at all possible.
  • I have Yoga Paws and I try to stretch in my hotel room.
  • I take the stairs at conventions and in hotels if at all possible. Actually… I pretty much always take stairs.
  • I soak my feet in hot hot water and baking soda every night, no matter how drunk or how tired. The world is always worse if my feet hurt. (I ADORED these Fiji Pedicure sets, but they are spendy)
  • But… I still do get sick. It’s hard, particularly on a major book tour.

Fun Extras

Epoch Time: A Sense of Place
A Walk in London 1807

“In travelling it is as well to take with one one’s own tea. You will by this means ensure a better article in all probability, and one often gets accustomed to a special flavour, and prefers it to any other. With a home-comfort, or an etna, one can be perfectly independent, and provide tea for oneself at any hour of the day or night. A capital little arrangement is a perforated cup of bright metal, with a cover, which fits upon an ordinary teacup. The tea is placed in this receptacle, and the water poured upon it. A few minutes suffice for the drawing, and then the tea-maker, with the used leaves, is bodily lifted out, and a capital cup of tea remains.”
~ Hints to Lady Travellers: At Home and Abroad (Royal Geographic Society) by Lillias Campbell Davidson (1889) N

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

 Journal des Demoiselles Date-  Sunday, August 1, 1858 Item ID-  v. 39, plate 128

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

“The Dirigible” via OMG that Dress Tumblr

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Octopuses are “Scary Smart”

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
“In the mainstream press, romance novels are a joke. Despite raking in $1.08 billion in 2013, the industry is still derided as worthless. Maybe it’s because 84% of all romance readers are women, and romance writers are mostly women, as well.” ~ Jenny Trout

Book News:
SF Signal MIND MELD: The Books That Made Us Love Science Fiction and Fantasy

Quote of the Day:
“Don’t be an ass. I’m engaged to Miss Bassett.”
“Indeed, sir? I was not aware——”
“Nor was I. It came as a complete surprise.”
~ Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

Gifts for Frequent Travelers (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger


Some fun gift ideas for the frequent traveler in your life whether they be a touring author, like yours truly, a business woman, or beyond. As you all know I’m obsessed with packing and I travel all the time, these are a few of my favorite things, Gentle Reader.

Gifts for Frequent Flyers

Lewis N. Clark Travel Laundry Soap 10 pack ($7).

Woman With A Parasol – Retractable Badge Reel ($10).

Aluminum business card holder that looks like a tin suitcase ($10) comes in black and silver.

Runsible Spoon ($7) BPA-Free Tritan Spork with Full-Sized Spoon, Fork and Serrated Knife Edge. Multiple colors, passes TSA (or at least is has for me the last 20 times I traveled).

Clear2GO Water Bottle with Filter ($8) multiple colors.

2 straps pure silk black sleep mask, ($9) this is my favorite best-fitting soft sleep mask and I FAR prefer two smaller straps, I think it fits better.

Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Pen ($11).

My favorite silk sleep mask and the only one I can wear comfortably ($10) because it has multiple thin adjustable straps and is nicely wide but not too wide.

Travelon Set of 7 Packing Envelopes, Assorted Sizes ($15).

Macks Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs, 10 Count Pack of 6 ($20). These are by far the most comfortable earplugs I have ever found. This is a lot in bulk, but if you’re lucky you might find them at your local drugstore.

Gail’s monthly read along is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1806 via Ashmolean Museum @AshmoleanMuseum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Lord Maccon Character Cookie

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Early Trains Were Thought to Make Women’s Uteruses Fly Out

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
5 Best-Selling Female Writers You May Not Have Heard Of

Book News:
ayvalentine of Reads 4 Tweens says of Manners & Mutiny:

“There’s more on the line as the series draws to a close, and the prices paid are higher, so it’s a tad darker than the other books. It brings Sophronia’s school career to a logical if explosive close, and makes me hope for the further adventures of Sophronia and Soap. It also makes me want to reread The Parasol Protectorate series to see where exactly the Finishing School series fits in and where it overlaps!”

Quote of the Day:

“I suppose he used to tell himself that he could take them or leave them alone, and then found—too late—that he couldn’t.”
“It is often the way, sir.”

~ Right Ho, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

WorldCon Shenanigans

Posted by Gail Carriger


So, Gentle Reader, I have returned from WorldCon and it was exhausting and quite epic, in its way. I saw old companions, met new good people, and – I hope – converted some acquaintances into lasting friendships that I will pursue at future events.

WorldCon, for me, is a major water cooler event. As a full time author, I don’t have the opportunity to talk to my co-workers in the same way that most people do. I may be introverted, but that doesn’t mean I’m not social. And that doesn’t mean I don’t need to see other authors who are going through the same things I’m going through – emotionally, physically, and professionally.

Walking the dealers hall, more fashion on Retro Rack

I landed on Thursday after a painless flight. Spokane greeted me with smoke in the air and a red sun overhead.

The view from my hotel room, that’s smoke… not fog

I usually try for the closest hotel to a convention, to save my feet and allow me to dash back to my room as needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my hotel also had programming which meant the elevators were working overtime and unconscionably slow. Witness Gail climbing up to her 9th floor room several times each day via the fire stairs, and convincing herself she is doing it for her health.

Good thing, too, as I had too much of a truly wonderful meal at Wild Sage that first night. Laura Anne Gilman (@LAGilman) took this awesome photo of us.

Front left to right: @BarbFerrer, @LAGilman, Val, self, @howardtayler, @klingonguy

I liked the food there so much that I went back on Saturday night while everyone else swanked up at the Hugos. (Howard talks about the experience in much greater detail, if food is your thing.)

From Lawrence M. Schoen via FB with Barbara, Val, Self, Kameron, and Jason

Yes, Val and I sat in the same seats at the same table both nights. Why mess with a good thing?

Obligatory food porn picture: chocolate hazelnut torte with caramel sauce and spun sugar

After Thursday’s lovely dinner, I tottered over to the Drinks With Authors event. It was full of the usual suspects and I ran into pretty much everyone I hadn’t run into already. As you do. There was some lovely baked-apple cider and I don’t remember much more of that evening except at some point I chatted with Sanderson & Wells which lead to…

Friday morning, despite the fact that I wasn’t officially there yet, I got author-napped to be on the Writing Excuses panel.

The crowd at writing excuses

Writing Excuses is an excellent podcast if you wish to become a professional author. (If you want to delve a little deeper into established authorial secrets then Ditch Diggers is your cast de jour.) I talked about my vaunted Convention Kit and we all offered advice on what to bring along with you to a convention ~ whether attending as a fan or a pro.

My kit, for all those who wanted to see it close up

After Writing Excuses I poodled off for lunch with Ken Scholes, a bosom pal of mine since we both debuted back in 2009. We discovered a little natural food market with a salad bar that had a Green Goddess dressing that rocked my world. I press-ganged the BFF into having it as well (she was slaving away at a dealer’s table so I took it back to her.) I wandered the vendor hall a great deal at this convention, and rather enjoyed myself merely visiting with everyone.

Princess Mononoke cosplay sits alone under the smokey sky

Saturday was my one day of programming, but I managed to squeeze in a kaffeeklatsch and a signing. I do hope that everyone who wanted to see me managed to do so. There was a lot of me running up stairs and zooming through the Green Room because I had a wardrobe malfunction, a snack lunch, and caffeine issues that made an already busy day rather chaotic.

Extra Panel Notes for Humor in Teen and Middle Grade Fiction


Snacking TJs style

Saturday night, after another amazing meal at Wild Sage, it was back to the bar to watch the Hugos streaming. Or, more precisely, to drink champagne (why not?) and watch everyone else react to the Hugos, then ask “What Happened?” until they got annoyed enough to tell me, then look on Twitter to see who snarked what. Want to know what all the kerfuffle was about? Here’s an article.

I scored a date to the Losers Party (although it turns out, I likely could have got in anyway because I once lost the Campbell). So I was one of those to witness the first ever, and perhaps last ever, Alfie Awards.

 George above, and the losers below.

I’m not going to lie: it was rather moving, and then I moved myself about the dance floor in a loose imitation of dancing, chatted long into the night with friends and colleagues, and generally stayed up later and exercised more than I have in years. Sunday morning was not pretty, people. Not pretty at all.

Unfortunately, Sunday morning happened whether I liked it or not. It took me unconscionably long to pack, my brain just wasn’t there. I did one last pass around the dealers to say goodbye, plane got delayed, so I ended up chatting in the onsite lounge with pals and when we got kicked out we went for tea… as you do. Couldn’t ask for a better way to end the convention.

Shout out to Locus and Wordfire press, my homes away from home. When in the vendor hall, I lurked with them and they totally tolerated me.

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

The Bathing Hour by Joaquín Sorolla from @MuseoSorolla

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Fan belonging to Queen Victoria ca. 1850

A little how I imagined Sophronia’s fan.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
MPs and Queen Victoria’s Coronation

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Book News:

Percy&FootnoteFanart Fanart by Desiree Schwartz

Quote of the Day:

“I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

~ via Humans of New York

The Only 6 Pieces of Luggage a Frequent Flying Author Needs

Posted by Gail Carriger


This started as a tumblr post, Gentle Reader, and has now migrated to the main blog. I travel so very much these days that the pursuit of the perfect luggage is never ending. Here is where my collection currently stands:

1. Large: Izod hard sided expandable case
Got this puppy at Ross or TJ Maxx for $60. The hard sided case is great for hats and larger quantities of costuming. Sadly it got a massive crack in it on my New Zealand trip, so now I need to replace it.
Pros: weatherproof, protective, durable, rolls easily, light interior.
Cons: light exterior means already quite scuffed. No extension strip for attaching second rolly.


2. Medium: Eagle Creek (Switchback 26) convertible backpack (with zip-off mini backpack)
I have had this piece for almost 15 years. It works as a rolly or big backpack (although I’ve only used it as such a handful of times), and the front zips off to be a little backpack (which I’ve used a lot). I love it. I can travel somewhere with it stuffed full of gifts, check it, then zip off the front backpack, stuff it inside, and on a larger plane, carry it on to fly back. It is the ultimate versatile traveling machine. And if you only want one, pick this one. I used only it for a decade, before plane restrictions got complicated and needed to be hacked.
Pros: versatility & durability, trailing strap.
Cons: black interior (they seemed to have fixed this in the latest iteration), not great as an actual long term backpacking pack, not weatherproof, tippy.


3. Small: square-ish Lucas travel case with multiple pockets
This is my new replacement case for my baby* (see lamentation at the end of this post) and is the luggage I use on tour and in any other instances where I’m flying carry on only. I can live out of this case plus the tote for a week, quickly and on-the-go constantly. It passes through as a carry on on most domestic flights—necessary as I often do not have time when I land to wait to pick up a bag, not even gangplank valet.
Pros: basic carry on size, nice long, strong carry straps, full handle rather than the new single telescopic handle.
Cons: does not fit in all overheads or under seats, wheels stick out too much and 4 are not necessary for this size, plastic pockets inside rather than the superior stretchy mesh, no stacking sleeve (likely too big anyway), wide end handle (narrow end is better, it allows you to pull through the aisle). I’m looking to replace this one.

4. Very small Travelon underseat
I purchased this specifically for long haul international flights and longer writing retreats. In it I can stash all the things I would be devastated if I lost in my checked bag, but don’t necessarily need for the flight (like computer, note books, corsets, first day outfit, jewelry, etc….) and it still works to wheel a stacked tote as a I run to catch a connection. It’s good for those situations when I have to pack a tote heavy and really need something to rest it on at the airport. It’s also great as an event bag for actually walking around conventions, so that as I collect books and gifts, I don’t have to carry them over my shoulder.
Pros: cute, water resistant, many color options, very light.
Cons: perhaps a little too small, quilting style adds unnecessary bulk, no computer sleeve, straps are not long enough to hold jacket so I need to pack a large s-beaner to compensate.

5. Kate Spade long weekender tote with multiple pockets
What you can’t really tell from the picture is that this tote is almost as long as a duffel bag, but it still looks like a purse (perception is everything when boarding planes). It would certainly carry more than the above Travelon and possibly I could pack more than my Lucas rolly, but that would be a lot of weight on my shoulder. I got it so that I can do a steampunk event, and this bag is long enough to carry any or all of my corsets and parasols.
Pros: cute, very long, light interior with tons of pockets.
Cons: perhaps a little too light in color so hard to keep clean, perhaps a pinch too big, not padded at all, not weatherproof, likely won’t get as much use as my other bags but cost more because of designer tag.


6. Ultimate practical tote
I have the two different sizes and types of totes to compensate for any residual quantity of stuff that doesn’t fit into the bag I’ve chosen to bring, but this one is most commonly used. Believe it or not I was resistant to the style at first, but that mesh top and the way it sits and opens so easily is PERFECT for under the seat. I had to modify it, for it came with two pockets, one zipper and one Velcro. I slit the bottom of the Velcro one and superglued on some ribbon to stiffen it so it could become a handle sleeve for stacking on other luggage.
Pros: cute, padded, durable, weatherproof (sides, not top), mesh top and wide mouth is very convenient for flying.
Cons: needed modifications to work, no interior pockets, trim/straps not leather and beginning to fray, I’d rather a single strap over two smaller ones, a pinch too small—if it were 4 – 6 inches longer I wouldn’t have needed a second tote.

In general, this luggage hoard allows me the freedom to travel to any possible event. I’m not one of those who thinks you have to pay bank for luggage. You can usually find a good knock off or surplus at your local bargain bin. Unless you really do travel constantly and only want the one perfect piece, then you might have to really shell out.

Gail Recommends when Buying Luggage…

1. Ideally all bags should:
a. match but stand out from the crowd
b. be weatherproof
c. have light colored interiors
d. come with leather (or strong canvas with leather pad) detachable straps
c. have multiple interior pockets; particularly appealing is the stretchy mesh variety

2. All wheeled bags except for the largest one should only have two wheels. In the end, the latest craze for spinning bags is more annoying than useful. It tends to add lot of length and the constant spinniness can get quite annoying when at a standstill or on a ramp.

3. No handles that are from a single pole, in the new “T” style (because stacked bags spin off when running).

4. Ideally, the 4 smaller bags should all be very light weight, have a shoulder strap, have a sleeve for going over handles so they can be stacked, and be somewhat reinforced for carrying computer stuff.

As you can see, given my above collection, I haven’t managed to hit all 4 requirements. But this is an ongoing project, and after five years, I’m pretty happy with what I have amassed.

My favorite piece is dead and sadly no longer in production (it was a cheapie from Ross, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did).

I’ve never loved the color, and I’d rather it were a short end handle, rather than a wide end handle, but it worked so well as a rolly carry on, fit in almost every overhead, and could be squeezed under the seat in a pinch. I’ve never had it taken away at the gate, not even by Spirit. (I know, right?)

Must keep looking for the perfect carry on.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

La Belle Assemblee Date-  Thursday, June 1, 1837 Item ID-  v. 18, plate 87

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Cute via michaelmoonsbookshop tumblr

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
20 Things Every Traveling Gal Needs

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
 The Traveling Author ~ Packing Tips

Book News:

Sophronia cosplay in Rotorura, New Zealand

Quote of the Day:

What the world wants to know is… What is CornEvil?
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The Kiwi Files ~ Auckland and the End of the Road (Locus Award Nom)

Posted by Gail Carriger


The good news just keeps coming in, Gentle Reader.

I just found out Waistcoats & Weaponry is in the finals for a Locus award, alongside Paolo who’s a friend of mine (not to mention Joe, Ian, and Garth who I greatly admire).

What an unexpected pleasure!

And now on to your regularly scheduled blog post…

After an epic drive around the South Island, the AB and I headed to Auckland, where we spent four days exploring the city. I visited lots of thrift and consignment shops and rather fell in love with the modern meets artsy Auckland aesthetic. I didn’t buy anything though, because I hadn’t any luggage space. All my free space was filled with L&P and Tim Tams.

Auckland put on quite the show for us. It’s a lovely city and we spent most of our time there just wandering around.

We decided not to visit (yet another) vineyard and thus never got to any of the islands. Perhaps next time we are in town we will hop a ferry. Instead we gloried in the urban world, having just spent a great deal of time driving across vast tracts of rural land.

Look at me getting all artistic with the pictures.

“Getting urban” for Gail means eating all the things. And we did. There was a tasting menu at a Japanese restaurant (WHY IS THIS NOT A THING?), gourmet ice cream (overrated), a truly special farm to table experience at Ortolana involving lamb, and a disappointing and ultimately unsuccessful hunt for the perfect pavlova. (The Pavlova: The Story over on The Old Foodie.)

The Pavlova that wasn’t right.

In the interest of getting myself away from a food report, I should also say that I wasn’t a total slacker. The AB’s definition of “getting urban” means art shows and museums and the like. Also, we did stop by my Kiwi publishing house. They were utterly charming and stuffed us silly with New Zealand cheese and wine, of which they are justifiably proud. It made me think that my US editor, Devi, really ought to be made known to them: cheese and wine are two of her favorite things.

And that’s it for this long run of hijacking the blog for travel posts.

Or you think it is… wha ha ha! I have another trip right around the corner. I’ll have my programming stuff up the Wednesday before I leave for New Jersey and the Steampunk World’s Fair and then there will be a report on the event, and then we will return you to your regular Gail blogging warbles.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Parasols on display in the Auckland Museum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Auckland Gull

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Think Your City is Dirty? Try Living in 19th Century London.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

Pottle is my new favorite word.

Book News:

Frini Georgakopoulos via FB: Cosplaying Alexia

Quote of the Day:

Virgin Radio Lebanon  FB
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Gail Carriger’s Kiwi Files ~ Tea in Kaikora & Flat Whites in New Zealand

Posted by Gail Carriger


On one of our various stop-overs on our driving tour of the South Island, we made our way to Kaikoura. We had intended to swim with dolphins but weather did not permit. However we saw some truly adorable seal pups playing in a waterfall which made it well worth the trip. Perhaps almost as good as the seal pups was this tea experience I had soon after.

Throughout New Zealand, the AB and I were charmed by the beverages: coffee and tea alike.

A brief aside… You see the AB is a coffee drinker.

Now let us be clear here, coffee is as serious a business to the AB as tea is to me. There is a complex mixology procedure involving three different types of beans: a dark roast (for depth), an Italian (for flavor), and a peaberry (for earthy notes). Then there is a special burr grinder and a special Frisbee French press or whatnot. It takes forever and is very complicated. One of the reasons I opt for tea is that, even with a pot and loose leaf, it is the lazy woman’s beverage.

So the AB is a drip drinker by trade, with a splash of milk, but an espresso drinker by necessity. (For it is a truth universally acknowledged that a cafe with good espresso will ever be in want of good drip coffee… and visa-versa. And I always choose to build alliances with local cafes that have good espresso. So at home in cafes we will both drink espresso.)

Yes, me, I do drink coffee. Frankly, in the good old USofA espresso is safer than tea. Rarely is the tea at all good here. I’m just as snobby about espresso (having lived in Italy for two years way back at the dawn of time). I prefer lattes and the AB likes cappuccinos. Both of us are obnoxiously strict about our standards and opinions. I will throw away an entire latte if the bean is gritty, burnt, or too French, not to mention if the milk has been scalded! (Here’s the thing: if you must put sugar in your tea/coffee, you aren’t drinking the right tea/coffee. There should be a bean or a roast or a blend out there for which milk will add just enough sweetness to cut the bitter for anyone’s taste. I really believe this. Or you have a mad crazy sweet tooth. Or you’re from the South.)


Now where was I? Oh yes. So the Kiwis know their bean. They lean heavily towards the Italian (as one should!) and they do something with it called a flat white. Now, there is endless contention over the exact definition of a “flat white” but essentially it is a midway milk allotment between latte and cappuccino. Because the bean choice is so good, this means there is enough milk for me, but it’s also strong enough for the AB.

We drank a lot of flat whites.

However, because they have their roots in the UK and still feel them, the Kiwis ALSO offer up some truly serviceable Assam-heavy English Breakfast teas. At this cafe in Kaikoura, I actually encountered a full on tea menu! It was thrilling.

I didn’t even bother to dither. You know my feelings, Gentle Reader: give me that strong smooth Assam.

I’m pleased to say that despite the description, it wasn’t brisk. It was soft (sigh, why do people get that wrong?) but was malty, mellow, and delicious. And look at the beauty of the leaf?

I know you might not think that a thing of beauty, but trust me it’s stunning. STUNNING. Big as my thumb, some of those leaves. I was charmed. I waxed poetical. The AB was most embarrassed.

We were left with the feeling that we might have to move of New Zealand. So far it’s the only nation where tea and espresso are accorded equal respect in the eyes of the picky. Then again we would have to have a major discussion on the subject of condiments into which sugar is added in a most whole irresponsible manner. (There was excess sugar not only in the ketchup but in the Marmite.)

I believe the tea/coffee experience is helped along by the fact that the dairy is so amazing in New Zealand. It always helps if the milk is full fat and delicious. Mmmmm.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via centuriespast tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

To get Marmite without sugar you must go Mighty

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
A Bachelor’s Bill of Fare (1857)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
25 Ways To Be A Bad-Ass Maker Who Makes Bad-Ass Stuff

Book News:
The Novel Strumpet says of Prudence “This novel was chocked full of all the wit and Victorian decorum we have come to expect from a Carriger novel. And the wonderfully described fashion – particularly hats.” ( Includes a video review as well.)

Quote of the Day:
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”
~ Plato

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The Kiwi Files ~ Steampunk Cafe in Christchurch (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger


I’m delighted to announce that Waistcoats & Weaponry has won Steampunk Chronicle’s 2015 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Young Adult Steampunk Fiction! Thank you thank you!

And now for your regularly scheduled blog…

While in Christchurch, Gentle Reader, we stumbled upon a steampunk cafe. I had heard of its existence, but I didn’t know quite where to find it. But the AB and I spend quite some time walking around the downtown area and we stumbled upon it on one of our jaunts.

I was quite charmed by this young gentleman who chatted with us and showed us around the upper shop area.

One of the first things that caught my eye upon entering was this lamp meets dirigible. It might be fun to make some Chinese lanterns into balloons myself in that mystical land of future free time.

Found this little guy sitting atop a top hat.

And this was my favorite thing in the shop, a train meets drinks caddy. So fun!

During our rambles we also encountered a statue of Queen Victoria in one of the parks. I felt it very apt and tried to pay the proper homage.

I also fell in love with a pair of laser cut leather boots, but they were $600 and didn’t fit right, also the soles were really hard. These days I find myself (when hunting for more comfortable footwear) gravitating to men’s shoes. Not just because of the oxford style, but because they often have super comfortable squishy soles. Why don’t we women ever get those in walking boots? It’s not fair. And before you post a link to comfortable footwear I ALSO demand it be pretty, by my standards, thank you, and not look comfortable. And before you say, “Gail, just buy the men’s shoes,” I am sadly cursed with narrow, skinny feet (hence the lack of Fluvogs in my life).

And I don’t know how this post on Christchurch became one on shoes. But it’s me so I’m not surprised. The destruction wrought by the earthquakes was truly devastating, and although the spirit of the city is still there and they are fighting to come back, it did feel awfully sad.

{Gail’s monthly read along for May is The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

one fine day, Akihabara   via ninetail-fox tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

NZ is also the land of rainbows, so much changeable weather

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
The fine art of walking city streets in the 19th century (via Two Nerdy History)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
In Defense of Editing

Book News:
Jess of Shelf Quest says of Prudence:

“For those familiar with the preceding series, I have no doubt that this story will enthrall and excite. We see the return of many of our most beloved characters and the way some of them have grown (up) and changed is just really lovely.”

Quote of the Day:

“More people should do things on their own, most of humanity’s problems have been caused by people meeting and talking.”

~ Andy Zaltzman

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Gail Carriger’s Kiwi Files ~ Rotorua & A New Zealand SciFi Convention

Posted by Gail Carriger


My entire trip to New Zealand, Gentle Reader, was because of one man: Andrew. Andrew and I met at the WorldCon in Melbourne a few years ago. Apparently, he was talking to Pip and Tee and saw me in my checked outfit. He asked who I was and they told him, and then he asked to be introduced.

Andrew’s first Gail sighting, image courtesy of him.

Apparently during the course of that meeting, he conceived of the idea of having a steampunk themed convention in Rotorua (steam central) with me, Pip, and Tee. Three years later there I was, flying to New Zealand. Moral of this story? Style will get you anywhere.

Gail Author interview with Andrew photo by Martyn

I’ve been to New Zealand before and loved it. I had even been to Rotorua. But the AB never has traveled Down Under at all, and neither of us have ever visited the South Island. So the plan was to do the convention first, then fly to Christchurch, where we would pick up a camper van and drive around the South Island for a week and a half, then fly back to Auckland, meet my publishers and explore the city before heading home. Things pretty much went according to plan. Also, because of some tips from people at the con, we added the Steampunk HQ in Oamaru to our list, well worth a visit.

Rotorua is quite beautiful, if a little smelly, and the convention was an intimate gathering of super fans many of whom had traveled quite some distance to be there. In addition to the convention, there was also a steampunk gathering at a beautiful Victorian tea house.

Steampunk Rotorura by Martyn

For some reason, I was feeling the cider on this trip. I really liked a lot of the local ones I tried, they were sweet, but not too sweet. There were some new flavors of Crabbies to try too (which were quite sweet indeed, but I loved them anyway.)

More on food and drink to come. Pip pip!

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is The Eyre Affaire by Jasper Fforde}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

La Belle Assemblee Wednesday, August 1, 1838 Item ID-  v. 20, plate 22

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Fox Glacier and Lake

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
14 Insane Names Victorian Parents Actually Gave Their Kids

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Repetition, Redundancy, and Overused Punctuation—Oh My!

Book News:


German hard covers for the Parasol Protectorate Books.

Quote of the Day:
“Gamine.” That’s another one of Bea’s words. It means waiflike, only more so and in French. Which I reckon makes it double.
~ Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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Gail Carriger Returns from New Zealand

Posted by Gail Carriger


My dearest Gentle Reader, I am back from New Zealand and I have so much to share with you. I had a wonderful time and met many glorious people. I traveled to the North Island and then drove all over the South Island. I took pictures of steampunk and tea and parasols wherever I went. There were crazy new foods to discover as well as a bit of shopping and a great deal of reading.

Land of the long white cloud indeed!

I’m busy with acclimatization and reviewing all my photos and notes. I shall report in to you on my convention shenanigans in Rotorura with Pip and Tee and too much cider. I will tell you about a steampunk cafe and a statue of Queen Victoria in Christchurch and the Steampunk HQ in Oamaru. There may be something on seal pups in waterfalls, glacially carved topography, rainbows, and tea menus, not to mention parasols and pavlovas. I shall endeavor to relay much of it to you over the next few weeks, including some new book recommendations.

Store in Auckland that’s basically my motto in life.

The AB and myself did consider that we might have to move to NZ as, so far, it’s the only nation in which we traveled together where tea (Gail) and coffee (AB) are up to our respective standards. Also, major props for clearly considering breakfast the most worthwhile meal of the day. I could say much on the food but I simply did some Yelp reviews instead, this isn’t a food blog after all. All I shall say here is… yum.

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is The Eyre Affaire by Jasper Fforde}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Greymouth parasol spotted on side of building.

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Taken at the Art Museum in Auckland


Your Tisane of Smart . . .

In New Zealand British Marmite is Mighty (and New Zealand Marmite has sugar in it)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
The Word Detective ~ Runcible spoon

Book News:
Nalini Haynes of Dark Matter Zine says of Prudence: “Gail Carriger continues her steampunk comedic adventure series spiced with romance and she does it well. Imagine Jane Austen writing a 19th century romp for a 21st century audience, complete with vampires, werewolves, and sexytimes in the near future. Prudence is not to be missed.”

Quote of the Day:
“The matronly old houses seemed to wear the lush foliage of the street’s many oaks and maples like fir stoles.” (John Shirley, Wet Bones, 1993)
~ Ansible (In Typo Veritas)

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Off Again & Prudence Book Tour in Retrospect (Custard Protocol)

Posted by Gail Carriger


So my dear Gentle Reader, I have returned from my Prudence book launch tour! (And I am immediately heading off to New Zealand.)

Thank you all for coming out to see me on tour. I loved meeting you and I do apologize if my energy levels were low. I am also sorry I couldn’t go visit the tea shops and things you recommended in each city. The tour was 6 cities in 6 days, and it doesn’t allow me much residual play time. Also, because they want to fit all the stops in during the first week of sales, I hope that you can see why I didn’t have time to go everywhere or to fly very long distances.

An early pause for tea with friends in San Diego

I’m not complaining, because very few authors get the privilege of touring at all anymore, but I won’t pretend it was easy, either. I got about 5 hours of sleep each night and it was pretty much: wake early, fly, land, hotel, change, event, return to hotel, sleep (repeat x6) with eating squeezed in between. There were times I forgot to drink tea. ME!

Mysterious Galaxy Crowd

So many of you came out to see me that I am very honored. I had from 75-130 people at the various events which is really fantastic and I can’t tell you how grateful I am. People came in rain, awful traffic, on weeknights, with sleeping babies (who stayed sleeping, hooray for the soporific effect of my voice), in costume, with gifts… It really made me feel loved.

At Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego

There were familiar faces (with new acquisitions) and there were new faces who came attached to familiar handles from Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

There was the requisite amount of fantastically unnaturally colored hair and fabulous vintage dresses, not to mention steampunk attire.

Kathryn Dressler with Gail Carriger and Corrie Metz Moore via FB

I’ve posted a bunch of pictures to Flikr and there are tons popping up on Twitter and Facebook as well.

Finally meeting the infamous @RuffledParasols from Twitter

San Deigo (Mysterious Galaxy) and Portland (Powell’s) were, of course, familiar to me. It was a delight to see so many friends in the audience from previous visits. The questions at both venues came fast and furious and very smart.

Tattered Cover

I was a little nervous about my Denver event as I had never been to the Tattered Cover before. But despite gloomy weather and abysmal traffic the Mile High City was game. It turns out that I have also amassed a large number of author friends in the area, not to mention the fact that my agent is there, so it was also a opportunity to renew acquaintances. Good place to be an author… Denver.

with Lora Reiher via FB

I was also a bit scared about Dallas as, again, I have never done an author event there before. I was in town for FenCon as GOH several years ago, however, and the volunteers and organizers came out in force to support me. So sweet! I love you guys. And despite some technical difficulties, the house was packed and the B&N peeps seemed, if anything, a little startled by this. Heh heh.

The Dallas Crowd

I got there early and hammed it up a bit, which was rather fun. I also went and took a picture with my end cap since I was at a B&N and ridiculously proud of how well this dress matched the cover of Prudence. More on that over on Retro Rack.

Me and my end cap

Then I was on to Houston and familiar stomping grounds. As always, Murder by the Book welcomed me with open arms. I signed a lot of pre-orders for them: they are particularly good at that part of relating to their customers.

From John Alexander Husisian via FB

Finally a good picture of me at Murder. I’ve been there several times before and never seem to get a good photo. As you can see, my publisher, Orbit, sent out a fantastic selection of swag to give away. There were fans, bookmarks, posters, buttons, and more. A few places even had balloons (although I forgot to take a photo, curses). Orbit, incidentally, is entirely responsible for this tour. Thank you Orbit!

From Jessie Clapp via Twitter @Jessieclapp

I landed back in the Bay Area on Sunday morning and after a brutal drive battling an unexpected marathon, made it home in time to cuddle the squiggly (but excited) cat and the less squiggly (but still excited) AB, change, and hop back into the car for Borderlands.

This was a first for me: signing a bicep! THE AVATAR (@mmusclechan) on Twitter apparently listens to my audiobooks while she works out. Isn’t that cool?

Borderlands was actually a little tearful (good tears) as this was to have been their last event ever, but instead it was the dawn of a new era. I brought with me some exclusive ARCs from my collection to hand out to the Borderlands Sponsors that were in the audience. The place was packed with friends and family and cheerful banter. I do love my city and it was great to be home.

On that note, I’m leaving today for New Zealand. I do have a few blog posts have scheduled to drop while I’m away, we shall see how technical I can be. No problem with Twitter, FB, or Tumblr. There should be no interruption in your Gail service there. This main blog, however, is a little more complicated.

I will see a few of you down in New Zealand at Reconnaissance and then I will be (gasp) off grid for almost three weeks. I think I will survive, and I know you will, Gentle Reader.

Happy Spring!

{Gail’s monthly read along for April is The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via yarn-over tumblr

Crochet Parasol charts

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

My agent and my end cap.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Snow Removal From the Streets of New York 1888

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Writers ~ Take a Hike . . . If You Know What’s Good for You

Book News:
Champagne, Custard and Comedy: A Conversation with Gail Carriger on Relentless Reading (And Writing About It!)

Quote of the Day:
On cats:

“Signor stood up in Bea’s lap, stretched his portly self six ways, and hopped down to the floor with a bump that was the shame of supposedly graceful and elegant cats everywhere. He thudded over to Marshal Reeves and began investigating his boots and hat with a pink, twitching nose. I was left with the strange thought that everybody in that room just then was wearing a mask for the purpose of not upsetting one another.”

~ Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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