Snoqualmie Falls

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What? Another blog post in less than a couple of weeks? Shocking, I know! Last Monday I dragged Rob to Snoqualmie Falls for the first time. Ever since I started re-watching Twin Peaks and saw the waterfalls in the credits, I’ve been wanting to go see it. It really is majestic. We went in July, one of our driest months, yet it was still gorgeous. Unfortunately the trail down to the bottom of the waterfalls is closed until Autumn, so we didn’t get to hike there. However, it does give us an excuse to go back.

Instead I dragged Rob hiking this one trail which is supposed to give a unique view of the falls and nearby Salish Lodge. It was a flat easy, 3.6 mile round trip trail, which alas, might have been impressive at one time, but the trees are now so tall it’s next to impossible to glimpse the waterfall from that location. Not a very good start to my Seattle hiking book recommendations, that’s for sure! It was still a nice day. We picked up a basket of cherries for a buck, and hung out by the Snoqualmie River. I’d definitely like to go back there and paddle the river on a nice, calm day. I can’t believe this is really the first time we’ve explored east of Bellevue. So much for being a travel writer!

Monday was the anniversary of us bringing Jory home twelve years ago. His birthday, so to speak. There was much remembering. We don’t have any pictures from the first day (a huge mistake on our part) but we did find his old paperwork from the Pikes Peak Humane Society. It’s still hard to believe that one dog could make such a huge impact on our lives. I had thought that losing Jory was surely the darkest timeline, but when I think of how close we came to not seeing him at the shelter, not having him in our lives would be the darkest timeline of all.

Not much new to report on the writing front. There are a few things in the works. Right now Rob is reviewing the novel for the first time. I’m a little nervous about him reading this particular story. I hope overall he likes it. I have some potentially cool news, but I can’t reveal it just yet. I can say that it is pretty exciting for me, especially being the scifi fan I am.

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Summer Adventures

Otter Seattle Aquarium
I’m behind on the blog again. Too busy enjoying the beautiful weather. Last week we had a mini heat wave, so Rob and I rushed off to Deception Pass and went camping. Luna came with us. This marks the first time we’ve ever been camping with just her, and she did pretty well I must say.

Deception Pass is stunning and I’ve really wanted to camp there for a while. I was tempted to go to the San Juan’s, but with the summer rush it might be a bit too busy right now. Whidbey is a lot more chill, and the campground is gorgeous. We were just a few minutes walk to the water, and we could hear the sound of the surf from our campsite. That is, when the damn Navy jets weren’t flying overhead in the middle of the night. Deception Pass is also close to NAS Whidbey, which I didn’t think would be too big a deal. Isn’t there a sequestration going on? But as it turns out, jets in a tent in the woods is awfully loud!

Last Friday was my birthday so we decided to head into downtown and visit the Seattle Aquarium. The last time we were there was just after their baby otter was born. This time around, they had a new seal enclosure. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too crazy about the enclosure. I preferred the old one. This one is covered in glass so you can’t actually get very good pictures. Oh well, I prefer watching seals in the wild anyway. Had hoped to see some at Deception Pass, but no luck. No whales either, although we did see some porpoise.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting with an agent so we decided to go to the new fantasy exhibit at the EMP Museum. I really liked that a lot. You can read my full review over at IGP, but suffice it to say it was a good time and certainly one of their better exhibits.

Work wise, my article for Celtic Life is finally out, although I’m not sure how easily available it is outside of Canada. I do know you can subscribe to their digital magazine. I’m still working through round two of edits on the novel. I think I’m getting tired though. I’m ready to hand it off to Rob to pick apart while I take a breather for a few days. I’m also back to editing The Long Night. Finally. While editing it, I realised how enjoyable it is. I really need to get that little story in print soon. Oh yes, and IGP will now be regularly interviewing geek creators for the Otherworlds newsletter. I’m very excited about this particular news. For a long time, I’ve wanted IGP to reflect geek culture in Seattle, and this is a step in the right direction.

Other than that, I’m just trying to stay motivated at my desk and in the Blue Box, but that weather is very distracting. Looking back on the past year, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. A year ago I had just found out that my landlady had basically been ripping us off, I wasn’t sure if we were ever going to get into this house and my dog had cancer. Now all of that is behind us. I’m in a house that is slowly becoming less a place to rest my head and more a home. We even got rid of the unsightly basketball hoop in our back yard! I’m focusing on my career. We’re making friends. There will always be a hole in my life made by a certain curly tailed dog, nothing will change that, but I’m grateful that for the most part, our lives have settled down. For now… Don’t want to jinx thing…

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Completion

TARDIS recording studio
Hello! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I have certainly been keeping busy. The first draft of my novel is complete, and I can finally announce the title: The Gatekeeper of the Elsewhere. I’m about halfway through the first round of edits, with many more to follow, but I’m excited about it. This is a different type of work for me. Very close and personal.

The title of today’s post also refers to my beautiful TARDIS finally being complete. There it is in the picture. I’m so proud of it. It is part TARDIS, part recording studio. We got the recording studio up and running very quickly. The TARDIS part took a little longer. We were on a budget which really got us thinking creatively. I love it. It just makes me smile. Plus, when I go to work on my recording, it’s in a TARDIS!You can read more about my adventures in TARDIS building over here.

Not that I’ve done much audiobook recording lately. Honestly, I was sick for a week, and then after that I really wanted to finish the TARDIS so that was my priority for a couple of weeks. Poor excuses, I know.

Speaking of recording, a videogame I played a small role in came out a couple of weeks ago. It’s called The Swapper, and it is getting some excellent reviews. It’s a puzzle game, but, apparently more on the lines of Portal than the typical puzzle games out there. I can’t say for sure, since I haven’t played it yet, although Rob has been playing it a little. Anyway, I’m so excited to have been a small part of it!

Not much else to talk about writing-wise. I still have to post my whale article from NW Travel. I should also have a new article coming out later this month, although I don’t want to say any more for fear of jinxing things.

Other than that, I’ve been enjoying the sunshine, which, as a matter-of-fact, is calling to me right this moment.

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Thar be Whales

Langley, Whidbey Island
The past couple of weeks have been busy for me. I’ve been working on that King Arthur article for most of that time. It’s finally finished, and I can’t wait for it to come out, but in the meantime the weather has taken a cooler turn.

Except for today. Today it’s sunny. That’s springtime in the Northwest, I guess. We did take a trip up to Whidbey Island a few weeks ago. That was a good time. We hoped to see some whales, and I honestly believe we might have seen some, but they were hiding out from us that day. We did get to drive around Langley and visit some of the beaches. Oh, and Penn Cove mussels at Prima Bistro which is becoming a bit of a habit for us. It’s a pricey French bistro, but they’ve got a great happy hour menu.

Going back to the subject of whales. My article for Northwest Travel on whale watching came out. Here’s a link to the partial article. I have a copy of the magazine, but I still need to scan the full article and put it up in the clips section. In the meantime, enjoy!

I was really excited to hear that the San Juan Islands Visitor Center liked what I wrote. I don’t often hear from the people that read my work so this was a nice bit of validation.

I’m still plugging away at the Mystery Project. I figure I only have two or three thousand more words to go. The Shatterer audiobook is on temporary hold while I figure out the recording situation. I just picked up some Roxul to make bass traps though which should mean I’m back to work on that very shortly.

That’s about it here. Now I have to make some bass traps. And lament that I’m not outdoors. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe Whidbey.

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The Warm Weather Beckons

SAMSUNG
The spring weather continues to call to me here at Casa di Arserio. It’s very distracting, especially when there are deadlines, like right now. This warm, dry weather won’t last, so all I want t do is spend every sunny, waking moment outdoors. As I type this, I’m sitting out back, looking at my blooming rhododendrons, clearly also delighted that the sun has returned to the PNW.

The trouble is where to go? Woods or water? Woods or water? That’s why I like Meadowdale Beach Park so much. It offers a little bit of both. We took Luna last week. It’s the first time she’s been. We couldn’t attempt the hike with Jory but Luna, though technically an 11 year old dog, doesn’t know it. I guess she liked it, though I think she’s figured out there’s a big temperature difference between Hawaii water and Washington water.

We’ve also spent plenty of time at the beach lately. We spotted a California Sea Lion the other day, with his head, tail and one flipper out of the water. Not sure what he was doing, just hanging out on the surface having a good ol’ time.

But alas, work is still keeping me busy. I am currently working on an article on Arthurian sites in Southern England for a client. All this King Arthur research makes me want to go back to Tintagel, or at the very least, break out Shadows Over Camelot again.

I got a new section of audio up for the Shatterer of Worlds audiobook. It’s coming along. There are still noises that I’m not happy about in the audio, but I have some ideas on how to make the next chapter sound better. Of course, with all this warm weather, I am going to have to figure out a plan to get some ventilation into the Big Blue Box.

I am also plugging away at my mystery project. It’s frustrating because all I want to do is sit down and finish it. I’m so close to the end I can taste it. At the same time, I hate going into editing mode. This story excites me so much. It’s like nothing I’ve ever written before, and I really want to share it with the world. But all in good time. I don’t want to share it until it is ready to be shared.

Well, that’s it from here. I guess I really ought to get back to work. Oh, to be out at the beach right now. Or camping! Told you the warm weather is calling to me…

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Lots of things to share

Wow, is it the middle of April already? When did that happen. The weather is teasing me with warm dry days, even though I know it won’t last. Still it’s nice to explore the neighbourhood on foot, in a light jacket instead of being bundled up, head down, racing from storefront to car.

Rob and I celebrated our 16 year anniversary a few days ago. Sixteen years of knowing each other. Yikes. That’s a long time. We’re still best friends, we still miss each other like crazy when he’s out of town. I like that. We’ve had our ups and downs. Losing Jory being a major one, but we deal with it together.

I’ve been quite the busy beaver these past few weeks. Most of it I can’t share with you just yet, not until it comes into fruition. But some of it I can. A few days ago I got to interview Bill Mumy for Inter-Galaxy Portal. He’s the star of Babylon 5 and Lost in Space. I was a huge Babylon 5 fan, so when my friend Ron told me he was doing the art for a comic book by Bill Mumy, well, you can imagine how excited I was about it. I’m loving getting these opportunities to do interviews. It’s funny, because the celebrity interviews are really cool and get me the most hits. But I also really like doing ones for people like Bill Clark, who created a steampunk card game, because I know that might actually be helping someone just like me.

Anyway, so that’s big news number one. Big news number two is that the prologue for Shatterer of Worlds the audiobook is finally out. It look longer than I wanted it to. I’ve got to stop being so picky. I’ve been doing voice over for a while, but audiobooks are hard work. So of course it’s the area of voice over I most want to work in. Call me a glutton for punishment! Anyway, the prologue is here. Chapter two should be online next Wednesday!

And that’s about all I can share with you. I have the mystery novel, but I’m still working on that. I have other things that may or may not be in the works, but I don’t want to jinx anything. Oh wait, there is one last thing I can show you guys! I have a new cover for The Huntsman’s Tale. I really like it. It’s not up yet, because I want to make a few tweaks to the text first but here it is, in all its glory.

The Huntsman's Tale by Shiromi Arserio

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Whidbey, Whales and Endings

grey whales
Today marks the four-month anniversary since we lost Jory. I am sad. Not so devastated as I was around Valentines Day, but miss him. He’s never far from my thoughts. With the story (novella? Novel?) I’m writing now, he’s on my mind quite a bit. It’s turned from a process I was doing for catharsis, which began when he was diagnosed over a year ago, and changed into something else. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to jinx the project, but I am quite proud of it. I imagine Jory would rather have liked laying up next to me in bed, listening to me read this story.

As I look out the window now, there are blue skies outside. We’re in that wonderful weird time when the temperatures are warmer and sunny, right before the late Spring/early Summer rainy period. I must say, I like it.

We had hoped to go to Whidbey Island last Monday because all we keep hearing is about all the grey whales around Whidbey. But since that particular day was mostly cloudy, we decided to stay on our side, and got lucky enough to spot several grey whales hanging about near Hat Island. There was even a bald eagle flying around. Not a bad show. Of course grey whales are a little harder to spot. They’re not nearly so playful as humpbacks or orca. But it’s nice to know they’re out there. It was a large part of the reason we moved up from Portland.

I’ve been a busy beaver these past few weeks. Today was my last post of Shatterer of Worlds. It’s hard to believe I’m done with it. What happens next is anyone’s guess. I had planned to do a sequel. Well, let’s face it, Shatterer is based on The Mahabharata and I’m barely a quarter of the way through retelling it. However, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I’ll give it a few weeks and re-read it. If I still like it, I’ll jump into editing and see about getting it published. If not. Well, it will depend on the readers if I finish it.

Of course my Shatterer obligations are by no means done. I still need to record the audiobook. I had recorded a few chapters a few weeks back. But since I added a gooseneck boom, I decided to do this properly and re-record what I have so that everything is uniform. Some people even stick a bit of wire at the end of the mic so they know how far from the mic they were in their last session. Hopefully I shall put the first post of the audiobook up next week assuming I’m not disturbed by lawnmowers, etc.

I’ve also been busy with Inter-Galaxy Portal. Earlier, I got to try out a new steampunk card game, called Sky Thieves, and I even interviewed the creator, Bill Clark. You can check out the interview over at IGP. I also did some more guest posting which I’ve wanted to do more of. I approached Nix, the editor over at Beyond Hollywood and did a review of one of my favourite movies growing up, The Labyrinth. I swear I loved that movie. I remember I had a plastic baby dolly. Not being particularly motherly, I would happily re-enact scenes, wishing my baby brother dolly away only so I could rescue him from Jareth. Yep, even as a child I was a total geek. The movie still continues to influence me today. I’m a big collector of Froud art, and even got to meet Brian, Wendy and Toby Froud at Powells in Portland. It’s one of those movies that is so very 80s and cheesy, and yet timeless. I hope you enjoy my review.

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ECCC 2013

meandxeno

It’s been a crazy few weeks here. I had thought to write an update earlier, but alas things got busy. I’m very close to wrapping up Shatterer of Worlds, which is weird. And I have also begun recording an audiobook version of Shatterer, which I plan to have up for free both at the Shatterer website and (hopefully) on podiobooks.

In fact, I’ve slowly been working more on the voice acting side. I recorded a scifi project that I’m pretty excited about, and have still been working on the “mystery project.” Sadly, it still isn’t finished. The interior is almost done, but the exterior, not so much.

Speaking of scifi, we just had Emerald City ComiCon. It was a good show, but packed. They sold out of most of their passes before the show even began. I think they said they had 64,000 people attend this year. Thankfully, we didn’t have too much trouble with lines, mostly because we decided to forgo the major panels. Which is fine by me. All I wanted to see was Jennifer Hale, the voice of Commander Shepard from Mass Effect.That was a great panel. Got to meet her and everything.

We had a friend up for the weekend, so we decided to nerd up. I think we spent one day going boardgame crazy first at Card Kingdom and then Otherworlds. On Monday we went to the EMP Museum to see their latest scifi displays. I’ve written articles on both the con and the EMP over at Inter-Galaxy Portal. In a nutshell, I enjoyed the EMP but thought the Art of Video Games exhibit was a bit of a let down.

While the sun was shining we also got out to Pike Place Market which is still high on my list of places to visit if you come to Seattle. There’s so much to see and do, and lots of interesting little stores hidden away. Oh yes, and it’s also home to Golden Age Collectibles, which is probably my favourite comic store outside of Forbidden Planet in London.

I’m still working on an untitled writing project. I don’t know how long it’s going to be, or really where the story will take me, but it’s an interesting adventure. I don’t know what other adventures I have planned. I know I need to go to London some time soon. Aside from that, who knows. I would like to see some more blue sky weather here so I could go watch for whales, which are apparently teaming around Whidbey Island, but the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. So maybe I ought to huddle next to my Grate Wall of Fire instead. It is the coolest device ever for those with an open fireplace. It’s a grate that allows you to stack logs vertically, creating a deliciously warm ember bed at the bottom, and a slow burning, self-feeding fire above. Between the grate and the fireback it raises the temperature of our den at least eight degrees.

Okay, enough weird and unnecessary plugs, I just wanted to share our latest way to keep warm while wintering in Seattle. Until next time…

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A Day Trip to Whidbey

Taken from Deception Pass Bridge

Taken from Deception Pass Bridge


Valentines Day was last week. For years, I’ve associated this holiday as the day when my best friend told me he loved me. Last year however, that changed. Instead, Valentines Day became the day when we discovered a tumour in my other best friend, Jory. It was the beginning of an almost year-long ordeal which ended in tears.

I had thought I was doing pretty well with Jory’s passing, but the run up to Valentines Day was tough. I kept thinking about him. I even found myself crying again. We knew we didn’t want to be at home for Valentines Day. There were still too many bad memories for us, too many reminders of the trauma we had so recently faced.

So we decided to take a ferry to Whidbey Island and spend the day there. It wasn’t the best weather day for a ferry to Whidbey, I admit, but we had a good time. Whidbey is a wonderful place if you want to feel like you’re far away from the city. We spent the day in the southern part of the island since Luna was at home in her crate. This allowed us to explore the towns of Langley and Freeland.

Langley is a cute little tourist town, Freeland is a little bigger, more for the locals, but still interesting. Both towns boast book stores and antique shops, cute little coffee shops and chocolatiers.

I picked up a ridiculously cheap 1921 copy of Cyrano de Bergerac at a thrift store, as well as a couple of more recent scifi novels at a local book store. Since we were in Langley we decided to visit Act II Books and Puppets which is a store that sells, you guessed it, books and puppets. They have a remarkable range of puppets at all sorts of prices. Given that I still haven’t fully unpacked the puppets I already own, I refrained from buying any new ones, but if you like puppets and are in the Puget Sound area, it’s worth a visit.

Sweet Mona’s was quite busy given the holiday, but we were able to still try some of their chocolatey delights (I had an amaretto truffle), including their drinking chocolate which is basically four ounces of rich, smooth chocolate- the perfect thing for a chilly Valentines Day afternoon.

We tried to look for whales since the whale watching companies I subscribe to on Facebook have reported gray whale activity near Whidbey, but alas, no luck. I didn’t get to see any seals either, but Rob, who’s better at spotting them than I am, saw a few on the ferry ride.

Finally, we had dinner at Prima Bistro, a French-Northwest fusion restaurant. What can I say, I had to have my Penn Cove mussels. These have been off the menu at a lot of places after a boat fire last year meant they had to suspend the harvest. I was glad to see them back on the menu. It was really a late lunch for us, so we took advantage of the happy hour deals. It’s a little pricey otherwise, but the happy hour deal made it worth it. Plus it has some nice views looking over the water.

Overall, it was a really nice day away from everything. Precisely the kind of distraction we needed after last year’s Valentines Day. Course eventually we had to catch our ferry back home. I’m kinda wishing we could go again this weekend, as Langley is having a murder mystery weekend. Being an actress and a writer, I lurrvvee murder mystery events. They do this every year and the entire town participates. It’s really cool, plus it’s a great way to pour more tourist dollars into the town. Sigh, maybe next year….

On other news, I’ve been keeping busy on a writing project that for right now I can’t say much about except that it’s for children and is a fantasy story.. Also working on another hush-shush project that scifi fans will appreciate, more to follow soon…

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The Gathering Isle

2013-01-25 13.08.33[0]

I won’t lie, 2012 was an unbelievably stressful year in the Arserio household. So when the idea of a vacation came up, we knew we wanted to go back to Hawaii. Sometimes, there’s nothing like going home again, and Oahu was home for a few years. It’s the perfect vacation. We didn’t need to run around seeing all the sites. Instead we could chill and do all the things we missed doing. And, for the most part, we got this vacation right. It wasn’t quite as chilled as I’d envisioned, but close enough.

We returned to Oahu since we’d spent the bulk of our years on Hawaii on the gathering isle, and frankly Maui is a little too expensive for those last minute vacations. We even stayed in the town we lived in, Kailua. Ah, what to say of Kailua. If you ever visit Oahu and don’t want to stay in Waikiki or all the way on the North Shore, Kailua is the perfect option. Dreamy beaches, stunning views, and easy access to town.

We stayed in Kailuana at a little B&B. The house was just a stone’s throw away from where the President spends his vacations (seriously, the owner rents out his house to the Navy Seals when the Obama’s are in town), but more importantly, it was just a stone’s throw away from where one of the heads of Pixar lives! It wasn’t a traditional B&B. No breakfast, but there’s a kitchenette and the hosts are very welcoming. We spent many an evening just hanging out with the owners, Doug and Bird, and their friends. The house sits on a canal that leads to the open water, and at night you can go down and see all the sea turtles sleeping in the canal. We counted 14, which is actually pretty low according to the owners. Still, we weren’t exactly complaining.

Our main hope was to do some whale watching from shore, and boy did we get lucky with that. On our first day, we visited a spot called Spitting Caves, and had two humpbacks pop up close to shore. We didn’t get to see them that close again, but we did get to see plenty of breaches and even watched a competition pod as they fought for the attention of female humpbacks. I miss whale watching. You can see whales from shore in Seattle, but it takes a bit more work.

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Being winter we had to chase the sunshine a little bit. It’s always a little rainier on the windward side of the island. So we took trips up the North Shore and spent a lot of time near Spitting Caves and Lanai Lookout, both of which are excellent for whale watching. We caught up with some old friends, which was nice. But what was really cool was realising the owner of Agnes, our favourite Portugese bake shop in Kailua, actually remembered us after four years away.

Mmm, thinking of Agnes just makes me hungry for malasadas. If you’re on Oahu, definitely try Agnes or Leonards for malasadas, which are basically Portugese doughnuts. We also hit Waiola shave ice for the yummiest, finest shave ice on the island. Seriously, if anyone tells you that you have to go up to the North Shore to get good shave ice, don’t believe them, Waiola in Honolulu is where it’s at.

We saw so much wildlife on this trip. Part of it is that we’re pretty lucky that way, part of it is we know to keep our eyes open. We saw whales, of course, monk seals which are very rare on Oahu, and of course the sea turtles. We also got to see some mongoose, but I never could get them to stay still long enough to get a picture. And we spotted a wild boar which was pretty cool since I’d never seen one before.

We didn’t want to do a whole lot of “activities” per se. We’ve done places like the Arizona Memorial and Sea Life Park many times, so why bother. We did take a kayak out to the “Mokes” which is one of the bird islands located just off Kailua beach. And we did a sub scooter ride which was a unique experience. You ride around on this little scooter thing about ten feet under the water, with your head in a helmet. The only way I can describe it is like being in a fishbowl with the fish on the outside. It was different, and definitely worth doing, but having snorkeled and scuba’d in Maui, I would still say that that is hands down the better experience.

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Speaking of Maui, we’re already plotting a trip there next winter. I love both islands. We lived on both islands. But for whale watching and swimming with turtles, it can only be Maui.

Not much to say in other news really. I had thought I might do some writing while on Oahu but I didn’t. What can I say, too busy taking sunrise strolls on the beach. I am excited to say that Shatterer book one is complete, and will be almost finished on the website in another couple of months. February I’m going to take a breather and work on something else, before working on getting Shatterer of Worlds published. Don’t know what I’ll be writing about except that it won’t be science fiction.

Thank goodness for vacations….

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