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Preview: Grace Bridges - Adventures of a Sci-Fi Author

Grace Bridges - Space Kiwi

Making the future

Updated: 2017-11-22T12:38:12.257-06:00


Walk 14 - Just the usual


Today I walked the big kauri loop again. It's fast become a favourite! I figure it takes about 45 minutes to get through the ancient forest and up to the head of the coastal track; then 45 more on the coastal track itself round to Manuka boatramp; then 45 more to come home along the road. When I got to the boatramp, the tide was so high that I badly wanted a swim, even though it was overcast. Well, in I went, clothes and all. Then walked home wet, which strangely enough did not cause any issues. This walk was only 7 km but I got up to 10 for the day wandering around Takapuna Beach in the early evening with Chieanne.

Walk 13 - The Whole Shebang


Today I started out towards the north and returned home from the south, taking in Glendhu, the entire coastal walk, and Kaipatiki Forest. It was a hot day, but I only had a half hour at the beginning and end to walk on sunny roads, and the rest was in the bush. 13 km. My best ever!
I also found a great map on a sign by Eskdale Road, that seems to have most of the tracks in the forest marked on it. For scale, this part of my walk took about two hours from end to end and was less than half my total distance.
Yesterday's walk was the big kauri loop once more, but with the extra block included, for a total of 8 km. I see there's a new insect-friendly garden at the northern end of the track - with swan plants and indeed some very tiny Monarch caterpillars.
On previous days, I made my minimum quota by smaller walks plus mucking around the garden and in one case by jogging on the spot during a Doctor Who marathon. It got me to 8 km without ever leaving the house!

Walk 10 & 11: Urban Life


Yesterday I got to 5 km just by dint of wandering a few big-box stores. There was no real need, and traffic was awful getting there, but at least I got to my minimum quota. Today I visited a friend who lives about 4 km away, and that was all road walking, so it wasn't as picturesque as my usual forests and shores. At least there were glimpses of the Waitakere Ranges and the vast valleys of suburbia. She was going out afterwards and dropped me a couple of blocks from home, so I just made it to 5 km again. We'll blame the silly season, eh? But I'm itching to do a longer one again. Perhaps tomorrow.

Walk 9 - Kauri again


After a day off, I decided to repeat my last walk since it is so new to me. The deep, dark forest is very different from a lot of the other places I walk - much taller trees, more native trees and less imported types. Love it. Went the slightly shorter route by omitting the Glendhu block, so only just busted 6 km, but will likely hit 7 before the day is out.

Walk 8 - Giant Kauri


There's a giant kauri in Glenfield! Not even 20 minutes' walk from my house, and I never knew it. Sure, I've seen bigger ones, but they all take many hours to drive to. As I entered this section of bush with the old kauri, it felt ancient... undisturbed. This biggest tree is said to be 800 years old, and there were many others around the 300 year mark. After I went through this gully, I met up with the northern coastal track and retraced my steps to the bottom of Manuka Rd. About 8 km.

Walk 7 - Bayview South


Down Witheford, almost met Kaipatiki Rd, then veered right along the coast and went all the way to Manuka before turning back. About 7 km. Ever so slightly stiff in the legs so that will be fine for today. I think the dustman was flirting with me; due to his stopping and starting, we passed each other several times near the bend in Manuka Rd, and each time he waved. Nice to see a friendly face.
It occurred to me that I need to be smarter if I want to get on top of the stuff I need to do. I've established that I can walk every day and blog about it a little, keep up with work, clean up after myself and keep the garden watered while also reading a little at night and getting enough sleep. These things keep me sane. The question is: can I also write every day, make art, engage in publishing and marketing, and complete the zillion one-off items on my list, all to my satisfaction? Well, I'll just have to add one thing at a time to the regular habits, I think. Might help, eh?

Walk 6 - Kaipatiki Forest


I needed to go to the mall and pick up milk, so I first headed for the forest some way beyond it. Alas, not a coastal walk, but rather 2.5 km on roadsides to get to the forest in the first place. But that's okay, because "the woods are lovely, deep and dark" (though not frosty :P ) and it's one of the few places IN the city to get AWAY from the city. Nothing but silence and birdsong and the wind in the treetops. I got all the way down to the waterfall, though I hadn't intended to, and had trouble finding some of the trails I used to take - overgrown, impassable. There's no map and the signage at intersections is patchy at best, but it was great to reacquaint myself with a place I once went regularly, when I lived across the road. Here's an older article I wrote about it, with more pictures. Except I didn't drive there this time. Total: 8.8 km, and it didn't feel like that much at all!


Walk 5 - Bayview North


Just to be clear, I did not start walking 5 days ago. I've been doing 5 km most days for almost 2 years, since I got my fitbit. This is simply a drive to extend my stamina to the point where I can walk 6+ hours without complaint. :)
Anyway, today I started out north, went through Glendhu and over the new bridge at the bottom, then round the coast to meet up with the track at the same point I started yesterday. Seems to me that I do better always coming UP Manuka, and since there are several ways to get to the bottom of it, that's going to be the plan while I hover around the 7-8 km per day mark. 7.75 today! And some great tui pics at the dog park, which was deserted.

Walk 4 - Bayview West


I walked down to the beach, but instead of just coming back like usual, I went on around the coastal track to the left. I love that place. It really embodies home for me - the bush on the one side, the estuary on the other, silent except for my footsteps and the volleys of birds. I even saw a hawk. Came up from the shore at the end of a steep cul-de-sac and gathered a handful of nasturtium seeds from the wilds there, as I'd like to get my front rockery looking a bit more colourful. Total: 7.2 km.

Walking day 3 - Takapuna Beach


Today was our last day with our flatmate V, who is heading home to France. So we went out for a fairly naughty brunch (pancakes! with mascarpone and strawberries!) at the beach cafe and then took a lovely stroll along the beach and back. It was overcast with a decent wind, but the water was warm. The Pohutukawa trees are all coming out in bloom, the pic below is of three of the SMALL ones. The beach isn't even 2 km long so I only just squeaked over 5 km for the day, once I did the usual steps just messing about at home. Will extend it a bit tomorrow.

Walking challenge day 2 - Long Bay


So this morning it was all rainy and murky but I went to the beach anyway, in a raincoat, and it wasn't icky at all. Not even cold, and the sun came out a bit later on. Anyway, I drove to the near end of Long Bay, walked the length of it and some way up into the hills beyond, then turned around when I'd done about 3 km. It was gorgeous. The bush and fields were moody, the sea grey to begin with, the horizon indistinct. But the water embraced my feet as always, the tui pairs were out in full force, and I even saw a baby pukeko, all black and fluffy. No pic of him, I was too slow. Lost the glass cover from my camera screen; the electronic screen beneath is, so far, much more susceptible to fingerprints. Ah well. The thing's nearly 7 years old, it's had a good innings, though I won't ditch it till it's done.
Today's total walk: 7km, and not feeling it a bit, yay!
Also, there's a pic of last night's lemon orange Baileys milkshake. The milkshake maker hadn't been used in years and produced some of that hot oily smell I associated with my grandmother's mixer. Why yes, I did reuse the cup. Which was had over a hot bath and a good book. Books and baths aren't something I generally combine, but this was one of the free ones rescued from the roadside last week.
(image) (image)
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December Walking Challenge, Day 1


Well, I've got to start somewhere. I told myself I couldn't start this until I didn't feel like dying on the uphill homeward stretch of Manuka Road, and being that I missed a few days this week for one reason and another, I didn't think it would be so soon. But I felt just fine yesterday, hill and all, no twangs from old injuries, no hard breathing. Haha.
But what am I even doing? It's just my own idea, that I want to be able to walk all the way to Devonport some day soon. It's about 20 minutes by car. And I'll slowly increase from my current 5km per day until I can manage 20. Here goes!

Realm Makers: the Aftermath


On Sunday morning, I rose with just enough time to consolidate my belongings and meet the last of the gang downstairs. I shared the back of Becky's van with Teddi on the way to the airport, where we left Teddi, Randy and Steve, and then it was just Becky and me.

Can I just say how wonderfully helpful Becky has been through this whole thing. She had a million things to be thinking about and yet she was always ready to help any of us out with whatever need that we had. In my case, I couldn't fly out till the next day, so she offered me Sunday with her family and a place to sleep. I view this as a huge privilege, and not one to be taken for granted in the aftermath of the biggest event of her year (and probably in most of ours, too!).

It was just really cool to hang out and be a little bit in on the backstage debrief. And thank you Becky and Scott and Riley for all the work you guys poured into this.

And now, where to from here? It's hard to communicate the energy of a conference like Realm Makers, because I don't think there's ever been anything like it in the history of the universe. There is nothing else like finding your tribe, the people who like the weird stuff, the people who understand and accept your fandom without prompting.

These people are my friends. And those who aren't yet, well, we're working on it, I think, and maybe we'll make that connection next year or online.

No conference is perfect. Maybe the little bugaboos get annoying, or the faculty isn't quite what you personally hoped for, but overall? Seriously, this one takes the prize.

There are so many little moments that made it what it was for me. Lots of squeeing over friends, of course. Emma winning the Hobbit backpack (and ensuing excitement). The impromptu photo session in the scary railway tunnel on the way back from the costume banquet. The "girl time" as we all dressed up before the party. The many discussions over meals or appointments. Describing something about writing and watching the other person's eyes light up. Being the Captain for a night or two. My excitement at sharing the kind of books I like the best, and that others actually get it!

I can't describe it all. It's beyond me. yourself a favour and be there next time, okay>

Realm Makers: The Saturday


A good night's sleep for once - wow. I promptly responded to the gaps in my schedule by tapping shoulders and telling people they should come and see me today. Most did, which was wonderful, getting to meet and talk with folks I'd only seen peripherally before now. Of course there isn't time to spend with everyone, but I was determined to do my best.

I did manage to catch a couple of lectures - I'm all mixed up as to which day they were on! There was Lisa's on steampunk, Travis's on combat, and Kat's on YA. All very good and so completely different, a good showcase of the enormous variety of people we had on hand.

Classes ended for the day and people milled around before going to dinner. It was early yet, so I elected to head back to the dorm and change into Janeway again - because honestly, where else can I wear it?

I returned to the refectory and ordered a sandwich from two Trekkies at the wrap bar, who knew all about it. Some folks from another conference also gave me a wave. I tell you, putting on the Captain's clothes really gave me a remarkable sense of authority which I kinda liked a lot!

Back in the auditorium for the booksigning. This was a very relaxed affair where we mostly just hung out and chatted and took yet more photos. Nobody wanted it to end, but eventually the venue wranglers had to throw us out.

We walked slowly over to the dorms. I spent a pleasant hour (?) chatting in Kat and Teddi's apartment with Lisa visiting as well. Didn't want to leave - very nearly cried - then went and joined the remnants in the lobby for more strange conversations. Needless to say, it was LATE when I got done.

Loads more pics at if you haven't seen them yet...

The Saga of the Shoes


When I left home I decided to bring my newer sandals. Big mistake. They gave me about three blisters just walking from the airport to the train station in San Francisco.

So the next day, Kathleen kindly took me by a shoe place and I grabbed some sandals that seemed to fit really well. Memory foam sole! Backless, so no chance of heel blisters!

I wore those for most of a week, all around campus at Realm Makers except for when I was being Captain Janeway and had to wear the boots. Turns out walking from the dorm to the conference centre and back in those boots - twice - gave me heel blisters.

So fine. I switched back to the Californian sandals. And they were fine until Tuesday, when I went for a long walk on the back roads of Winston Salem. Somehow after a week they decided to give me blisters: I think about five of them in different forward-facing places, though admittedly none on the heel.

That evening Zane kindly took me to a shoe place where I snagged what I thought would be good walking shoes. But when I walked around the block in them next day - no go. Heel blisters, though the toes were okay.

On Friday I paced around the house so much that I got in a fair bit of my mileage. Then with Ann's encouragement I took back the new blister-causing pair and swapped them for some sneakers just like the ones I have at home. Yeah. Hoping for much better luck from here on out, because how am I supposed to do my 10,000 steps if my feet hurt?

Blister count: Six on the left and three on the right, not counting one on each heel from the original sandals on day 1, which have subsided by now. Dear Asics, please be good to me now!

Realm Makers: The Friday


After a coffee-induced night of too little sleep for the third night out of four, I arose and met Kat and Teddi downstairs for the walk to breakfast. I'm sure we must have chatted, but the content slips my mind... It was just awesome to be in the presence of people like these.

It was time for the refectory to introduce itself to us. And what an offering. That may be the best conference food I've ever had. Enough said? I don't usually do breakfast but for this I made an exception.

Back over to our auditorium for the opening of the grand event. I was a little nervous as I needed to address the crowd right before Tosca's keynote, but it wasn't half so bad as all that. And then Tosca wowed us with a crowd-pleasing fandom-raving pep talk. Uh huh. We have the best stories.

After that, it was time to split off. I didn't hear many of the lectures at all, because I was out meeting with people for appointments - whether for book pitches, critiquing or mentoring, or just to talk about publishing in general. That's what I came to do, so I was delighted to spend time with so many attendees.

When the sessions ended in the late afternoon, it was time to head back to the dorm and suit up for the evening costume banquet. Yay! I love this picture so much I have to post it again.

And I'm happy to say, I did it the Janeway.

Realm Makers: The Thursday


Yesterday I filled you in on just what it looks like to spend 17 hours flying in from New Zealand for a weekend conference. Now it's time to dive into the main event!

Becky drove us through Philadelphia, a trip that seemed to take forever but was probably a lot closer to a half hour. Remember I'd only slept about 2 hours that night, if that. We arrived at the Villanova campus and found our way to all the places we needed to be.

I tried to doze on Becky's dorm apartment couch, but it was somehow too cold for that, and I gave up about the time she came to tell me we were going to lunch. I joined in over at the university cafeteria and greeted several of the Splicketeers and others who had already arrived - I was however still spaced out and probably not fit for human company.

Soon after that, we were back at the dorms and helping stuff the registration packs. As soon as the dorm rooms were opened I ducked away and slept almost-properly for almost a couple of hours. When I emerged again, the lobby was full of Our People and there followed a kaleidoscopic whirl of meet and greet, new friends and old, whether met or unmet previously.

At some point there was Faculty Pizza and yet more greetings. Honestly, the greetings just become the most important thing at this point. Hugs were the order of the day. Milling around catching sight of familiar faces, running over to grab people, and so on.

The Splickety pre-party kicked off in the next room at seven. The icebreaker games were a lot of fun, however I slipped out after that to continue conversations with new arrivals. I had been sipping an espresso shot, not particularly smart at that time of night, but at least I was mostly awake for the duration. However, I was also awake long after I needed to be. I guess that meant I didn't miss anything...

Realm Makers: the Odyssey


I am prepared to go to great lengths to get to Realm Makers. Here is the tale of such.

My journey started last Tuesday in New Zealand, where, after one more quick jaunt to the beach on a gorgeous winter day that made me sad to leave, I boarded the Boeing 777 at Auckland Airport after sundown.

Now, flying has become a necessary evil for me. I don't freak out about it like I used to, for which I am very grateful. It's not particularly fun to attempt sleep in a chair, but the meals are generally pretty good and mostly there are some good movies on. If nothing else, I can haul out my computer and work on a current project.

Eleven hours later, suppered, somewhat slept, and breakfasted, I arrived at San Francisco and inquired as to how to get to the Caltrain station in Millbrae. "Take the Bart train," everyone said, but I wanted to walk after being cramped up for so long. So I did, and it was pleasant there alongside the Bay.

I took the train to Mike and Kathleen's home and they gave me a warm welcome. There are times at home when I forget what it's like to have writer friends around the same table, and I guess that's why I travel so much. We are of the same kind.

That night I slept marvellously, and it's just as well, because that would be the last time for a while.

The next day after sleeping late, I took a walk, visited Mike and Kathleen's work, and shopped for sandals before heading to the airport for my next flight.

Sandals, you ask? This is about to become a recurring theme, believe me. At home while packing I had decided on a pair of walking sandals to bring. I chose the wrong ones, and from that first walk they began giving me blisters both underneath and at the back. So out we went and grabbed a new pair, backless and with memory foam soles. Gotta be better, right? Well, just keep reading.

So. Red-eye flight. Left San Jose at 11pm, got into Philadelphia at 9.30am after a transit in Atlanta. There was not much sleeping done. But the best thing of all, that made it all worthwhile? Becky, Ralene and Ivani were right there waiting for me when I walked out: Realm Makers had begun!

The non-recipe for soup


I've been cooking a lot of soup lately - it's getting on for winter, and it's a practical, warm meal that's also easy to freeze in portions for another time. I pondered the recipe, but there isn't really one to speak of.

Nevertheless, here is my attempt at instructions...

Melt some butter (or oil) in a very large pot. Brown up several chopped onions, a handful of chopped garlic, and a pound of beef mince or stir-fry (or any other meat really - or leave it out if you prefer).

When all that is cooked, you could put tomato sauce on it and serve over spaghetti if you like. But we're making soup here, so we'll add a kettleful of boiling water and a cup or so of barley (or lentils, etc.). Turn the heat down so that it is just bubbling gently.

While that boils, chop up your vegetables and add them in together with enough extra boiling water to cover them. I often use an orange one and a green one, such as carrot/silverbeet, or pumpkin/broccoli. Put in the harder one first as it takes longer to cook. No need to peel carrots or pumpkin as the skins do become very soft and edible when cooked. With broccoli, you can throw in the stalks and leaves and all, just take care to avoid the really woody bits that may be in the base of the main stem.

Oh, and the quantities don't matter. I just use whatever I have.

By the time you have your softer veg chopped and in the pot, the barley/lentils should be cooked through - test it out. Now you can turn the heat off and go do something else for a while.

When everything is soft and has cooled a bit from boiling, puree the lot. Salt your serving to taste, and add herbs if you like - oregano is very good with pumpkin.

I would have added a picture, but I ate it already! I'm sure you can picture it: smooth-ish, orange-greenish, thick and tasty... Might add a pic next time I have a bowl in front of me.

Realm Makers: A Publisher's Excitement


Realm Makers. Ahhh, what to say? Let's start with some highlights from last year. I could tell you how awesomely cool it is to be in a room with a hundred of my kinda geeks, and how phenomenally Becky organised everything.The awesomeness of the banquet and costumes.Getting a bunch of Splashdown Books and Avenir Eclectia authors together for the first time. [Mary Ruth should be in this pic too but she was very busy!]And of course, the pitch sessions. I don't have photos from those!For the coming event, I am excited about all of the above happening again. As a publisher, the pitch sessions are incredibly exciting! Some writers are about ready to publish when they come to me with a one-sheet, a synopsis and a sample chapter. Others just have the sample chapter, which is fine, because that is the single most important thing. Some people want to talk about their prospects of publishing with us. For other, newer writers, I love to take a little time and critique a page or two of their sample - so it's important to have it printed out, even if it's a first draft. We can also talk about your story idea and plot, or I can advise you on what's involved in indie publishing if you'd like to go that way. It's YOUR session, so ask me anything you want!If you're thinking of booking a session with me, PLEASE don't be nervous! I really don't bite and I'm not a big deal, honest. Also, if for some reason you forget to book a session, don't hesitate to nab me in the hallway or over a meal. It may be our only chance to connect and I don't want to miss out!Some of you may be wondering what the winners will get from my 5-page critiques offered as part of the TARDIS basket and runner-up prizes. I'll give your pages a thorough going-over to the same standard as I would for a book I publish. Depending on your writing experience, this will include different levels of comments and tweaks, from plot and style suggestions all the way to punctuation. It can be a short story or the beginning of a novel - whatever you like. And I can't wait to see them, just like I can't wait to see the samples at Realm Makers.So don't forget to enter below - and I look forward to seeing you there!a Rafflecopter giveaway[...]

A Tale of Two Airports


It seems some pilots got confused last week, and landed a gigantic cargo plane on a runway far too small for it. Still, they took off again without too much ado. The required runway length can vary with the freight load and amount of fuel in the tanks, so it wasn't that much of a big deal. Pretty funny though how they managed to get the two airports mixed up. More details at with tweets and pics as it happened.

Publisher’s Life 3: Your Website


If you’re serious about getting into business, you’ll need a professional static website to be your online business card. This should be a reader’s go-to source for information about your books and authors, and anything else you can think of that would interest your audience.

The front page is very, very important – especially in terms of what appears “above the fold”, or the first screen a viewer will see without scrolling down. This area is your first impression and should showcase what you are and what you do. In my case, it’s the business name at the top (as on all pages) followed by some fancy script programming to make my book covers float across the screen – which became necessary as soon as I had published several titles and they would no longer fit in a static arrangement. Below that I have one of our intro videos, a very brief description of us, and a link to more information about me as the boss. I feel that all these things together give a good impression of our overall angle when someone first arrives on our site.

There are many other pages too. One for each author, with a biography carefully honed by the team; one for each book; a Bookshop with links to buy our titles; a contact page, a submissions page, and pages for each of our genres, collections and projects. That may sound like a lot, but it all built up over time, project by project and author by author.

One page is probably enough to begin with, if you make sure it looks clean, professional and inviting.

Daily Doctor: 7 Reactions to the 50th Anniversary (SPOILERS)


Ahem. Don't go any further now if you haven't seen the big event yet. Go on, get away - trust me, you do NOT want to spoil it for yourself.










Okay? Okay.

Now that it's been a full day (at time of writing) since my first viewing of the special, it's time to lay down a few first thoughts. This will be pretty random; expect more coherent logic at a later date.

1 - The thing I most looked forward to was the return of the Tenth, and he did not disappoint. He says he's 904, which puts it a year or so after Voyage of the Damned - he's alone so it's after Donna, and likely right before The End of Time. Was anyone else sad that his hair was stubbornly plastered down on top?

2 - The Other Doctors. Billie Piper called it "a gift to the fans" and I think she nailed it. Of course I mean the thing with Gallifrey, not the mannequins in the final scene.

3 - Speaking of Billie - intriguing role. I did suspect she might not be exactly Rose. This was kinda fun but I would have liked her to show herself to Ten just once, to see his reaction.

4 - Speaking of Gallifrey - now THAT was an epic twist. Changing history without ruining the Doctor's own past since that time. The look on 11's face when the Curator puts it in his head is pure delight.

5 - Speaking of the Curator - Talk about cake for the fans! And the curious little things he said. Whatever could they mean?

6 - How the heck would a non-Whovian understand any of that? I'm curious if it's even possible - with all the hype, there are sure to have been some first-timers among the viewers.

7 - The 3D. It was pretty good actually. Enjoyed that. And the little 3D intro by 10 and 11. And that other little intro by Strax. Cinema-only intros, for you TV folks, but I'm sure they'll show up online somewhere.

More soon...

Reality TV with Writers??


Long there have been jokes about a reality show for writers, similar to the ones there are for singers. But now it's actually happening for the first time - and it's in Italy. Now I've seen everything.

Read the flabbergasting details at

If you're a writer, would you participate?

Photo Story: Old Piano


This piano stood in the entryway of the house I lived in in 2009. The flatmates were mostly pretty awesome and there was a cool view of the sea (distantly, but there). The children of the house were meant to be having lessons but I don’t think I ever heard them practising. I do recall a few hours spent at it myself attempting to play Star Trek music or electronica, neither of which worked very well, but that’s likely because while I know a bit of theory, I’m not a piano player at all.

I liked how the ivory was sometimes worn or lost, yet it did not affect the instrument’s sound at all. Outward appearances are so minor in the scheme of things, aren’t they?