Category: Travel

Novel Goes to Spain

As I briefly mentioned before, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jonathan in Spain for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I’m still getting over the jet lag (ugh), but I’m so excited to share some of my bookish and not-so-bookish travel essentials.

First, let me say that Spain is amazing. I would endure any amount of jet lag to go back, even tomorrow. It was that great. We did a whirlwind trip with stops in Madrid, Seville, Málaga, Granada and Barcelona. Each city had its own merits, but I was captivated by Seville most of all, and the Gaudí sights in Barcelona.

 

Seville, Spain

 

Because this was my first European vacation (hopefully of many!), I did a lot of research about not only our travel destinations, but also on how to survive international flights. I’d love to share some of my travel learnings with you.

  • If you can afford it, spring for business class tickets. For someone like me who has trouble sleeping on planes, having a fully reclining seat made all of the difference in me not only getting sleep, but starting my vacation off on the right foot.
  • Even if business class isn’t in your budget, small things like a sleep mask, ear plugs and compression socks will make your life much easier. Also, even if you don’t like to wear pajamas or workout clothes in public like me, I highly recommend changing into something more comfortable on the plane before going to sleep.
  • Don’t skip your other nighttime rituals on an overnight flight. Taking the time to remove makeup, take out contacts and brush my teeth before settling down made me feel ready for sleep and also more refreshed upon waking.
  • Bring snacks. While airlines will provide snacks, they’re not always healthy or appetizing. Packing a few key snacks like trail mix, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars will keep you full and happy on a long flight, and they’re also great to have on hand between meals on the entire trip.
  • Charge your Kindle or bring a book. (You knew there had to be a bookish twist.) My international flights did not have wifi, so I made sure to download several books before leaving. Check with your local library to see if they have ebook lending. It’s been a huge bonus for me to be able to “check out” free Kindle books. I’m a big fan of paper books too, but as a quick reader, the number of paper books needed to sustain a ten day vacation would have taken up all of the space in my bag.
  • Find a travel guide you like, and bring it along. My phone didn’t have service in Spain, so we relied heavily on our travel guide and the included maps. I looked at a lot of different books before going to Spain, but the one I brought with me was from PBS legend Rick Steves. His books rank sights in order of priority, provide sample itineraries, and give practical advice about crowd-beating and cultural norms. While there were one or two misses (no one’s perfect), overall we found this book to be a lifesaver. When we go back to Europe, we’ll be bringing Rick with us again.
  • If you’re not a native speaker of the destination’s language, make an effort and look into language apps. We found everyone to be very gracious and helpful, especially when we made an effort to communicate in the native language. I also downloaded SpanishDict before our trip. Their in-app dictionary doesn’t require wifi, so it was great for looking up random words in the moment.
  • Just go with it! We were lucky to have minimal travel delays, but as with any vacation, there are always surprises or things that don’t exactly go your way, especially if there’s a language barrier. Having a positive attitude and not sweating the small stuff allowed us to make the most of this incredible vacation.

What are your international travel tips? I feel like we learned so much on this vacation, and I can’t wait to do it again!

 

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Novel Links

Novel Links are a little late this week due to some crazy life happenings, but we’re back on schedule and missing our world traveler husband/dog dad very much. Here you are:

 

Oh, if only I were in New York today for the Random House open house. Swoon.

 

Barnes & Noble’s book nerd problems are great. I was going to call out my favorites, but there are just too many.

 

As my friend Katie said, “Somebody give this girl a scholarship!”

 

I’m Dumbledore, and I’m totally good with that.

 

Let’s go to all of the coolest bookstores in the U.S.

 

Are you a fan of the shelfie?

 

On a final, more serious note, these familiar men are taking a stand against sexual assault. Bravo.

 

That’s all, friends. Also, we’re on official baby Reagan count down! Squeeee!

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Writer Gear

As one of those kids who got disproportionately excited about buying new school supplies, I’m always interested in new gear to help with my writing. Now really, you don’t need any of the gear, but it’s fun. And at least for me, I like to have quality tools so I can focus on the writing without needing to find another pen or having a notebook that keeps flipping closed.

Here are a few of my favorite writery things:

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1. Macbook Air – I know this is a rather expensive tool, but it’s worth way more than its weight in gold (Get it? Because it barely weighs anything… Never mind.). If you’re a Mac and a writer, I can’t recommend this computer enough. The battery lasts forever, meaning you spend less time being that annoying girl in the coffee shop who is awkwardly looking for a spare outlet. You can also get a really rad case that gives you some major bookish cred.

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2. Scrivener – I’ve posted about it before, and I won’t bore you again, but this software blows Microsoft Word out of the water.

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3. Moleskine Large Ruled Notebook – What’s good enough for Papa Hemingway is good enough for me. I go for the basic lined journal. It opens flat and stays that way. The paper is nice, it has a handy bookmark and elastic closure, and best of all, it doesn’t have an on/off switch, so you never have to put it away on an airplane. I keep mine with me at all times, just in case inspiration strikes.

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4. Fisher Bullet Space Pen – I know what you’re thinking. Is that really necessary? And maybe it’s not, but it certainly is cool. The nice thing about the bullet is that it’s compact, but when the cap is placed on the end, it becomes a standard pen length. The ink cartridge is sealed and pressurized, so it writes upside down or sideways, and it has an estimated shelf life of 100 years, so chances are you’ll never have to buy a pen again. Just don’t lose it.

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5.  Snap Backpack from Everlane – Now that I have all of this writer gear, I need a place to put it. I’m a big fan of Everlane. They make quality products at reasonable prices, and their Weekender is the perfect travel bag. I recently purchased the snap backpack in green, and I can’t wait to start carrying it around town instead of my college Jansport. It’s a little more mature, even if it is still a backpack. Hopefully people will stop confusing me for a student.

So there you have it. My writing necessities. What’s on your list?

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Novel Links

Similar to other link roundups around the web, I’ve decided to share novel links on Wednesday, be they novel-related or novel in general (see what I did there?). Without further ado, your novel links for the week:

 

An interesting discussion about books by female authors, recommended by female authors from Elle. More of this, pretty please.

 

I just finished reading Lexicon by Max Barry. It’s such a novel concept, but the ending, and some of the characters, fell a little flat for me.

 

I’m now reading a galley of Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Interested in adding up your Instagram follow list? Epic Reads compiled a list of 19 Young Adult Authors to Follow on Instagram.

 

In preparing for our trip to Spain (eeeee!) I’m watching these DVDs and laughing hysterically. Also, Claudia Bassols is divine.

 

Enjoy a bevy of wonderful tweets from the charming Anna Kendrick. I suspect she’s my long-lost best friend.

 

This video of Kristen Bell singing “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” is perfection.

 

My favorite cooking blog, The Kitchn, just started a series on The 9-Bottle Bar, and it is wonderful.

 

Enjoy!

Posted in Adult Beverages, Authors, Novel Links, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized, What I'm Reading | Leave a comment

Deep Breath

Sometimes I need little reminders like this to get myself through the day. This one is courtesy of my husband in the form of a coat check tag he received at a restaurant in Vladivostok, Russia last week. Word.

Coat Check

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On Resolutions and a New Year

I’m returning to the regularly scheduled programming after a short break that feels like an eternity. Anyone else?

In the time I was away, I did a lot of things, including getting married (and the stress leading up to that event, especially for an introvert who avoids the spotlight), traveling to Belize, continuing to travel as part of my newish job and celebrating the holidays with my family. Between wedding, work and family, I don’t want to count the number of trips I’ve made back and forth from Austin to Dallas. It would just make me sad. I got back a little over a week ago, and I’m going back next week. See? I can’t talk about it.

Moving on. In the midst of all the of crazy, I also started a new writing project. It’s still in the early stages, about 10,000 words right now, but I’m hoping to reach the 50,000 words by the end of the month. Cross your crossable extremities. I’m using Scrivener for this project, and loving it, but I can help but feel I’m barely skimming the surface on all of the features. I’ll have to work on that.

So it’s the start of a new year, and I’m juggling a lot of things, including being a new wife (what!?), being a homeowner, having a newish job in a very new industry and tackling a big writing projects. And it’s also the time for resolutions. Oh, why not? I clearly have loads of time. Here goes…

1. Finish my writing project.
2. Learn more about writing and publishing.
3. Record all of the books I read throughout the year.
4. Begin renovations on the condo.
5. Learn how to keep the condo clean.
6. Cook more often, and try new recipes.
7. Be open to new friendships.

There you have it. In making this public, I’m subjecting myself to judgement and ridicule. Be kind.

Posted in On Careers, On Writing, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summer Reading and a Visit to the Country

My job comes with many responsibilities, and I’m learning a lot as I take on this new role. Among other things, my job requires that I travel occasionally. While I wouldn’t want to make it a daily thing, traveling occasionally for work can be exciting, even if it’s only to small, remote locations. One sure way to get acquainted with coworkers is driving through the cornfields of Oklahoma in a base model rental car during a thunderstorm.

While preparing for the trip, I naturally packed reading materials. After a few bad experiences with my Kindle in airports, I always bring paper books in my luggage as well. This time I went for two of my favorites: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I never enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea, but Jake Barnes gets me every time. There’s something supremely romantic, yet utterly depressing about these sad, lost expatriates surviving Paris and Pamplona.

However, for this particular trip, I gravitated towards Bradbury, possibly because of his recent death, or possibly because this book takes me back to the hot Texas summers of my youth. If you’ve shied away from Bradbury because of the science fiction label, this book will make you reconsider. The way Bradbury describes the start of summer in the mythical Green Town, Ill., as told through the eyes of 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding, is magical. I can smell the freshly cut grass and taste the tartness of the dandelion wine.

I try to read this book every summer because it brings me back to simpler times before work and obligations got in the way of a joyous, carefree summer. As we drove through the sprawling Oklahoma countryside, I could almost remember.

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