366 days to go

So, after talking and planning and hoping for over a year, it is now booked. So, I guess that means we’re really going. Where?

Here:

qm2

Isn’t she beautiful? She is the Queen Mary 2 and on May 16th, 2014 she will be sailing from New York to Southampton with me on board. Better start planning what to wear.

I hate change: technology update

Follow up to my previous post:

Have bought a second hand Kindle keyboard from a twitter/ravelry contact. Works perfectly and I am very happy with this. Hope it lasts!

Have found what I thought did not exist: a netbook with better memory and more up to date OS than my constantly-crashing one. It’s very pretty, in peacock blue, has 4GB RAM and full Windows 7. It came from Amazon warehouse, meaning it has been returned/refurbished, though there is no sign of any damage or previous use. Also meaning, it was a bargainous price. It’s basically this but Windows 7 and just over half the price. I am extremely pleased with it and I plan to take very good care of it to make it last FOREVER.

I hate change: technology edition

Earlier this week, my Kindle died. The screen is broken and unreadable. I can’t live without my Kindle. I love it because it has all the books I am reading and want to read and don’t have room for on my shelves. And it lets me buy books in bed.

So, I started looking at options to replace the dead one. It’s a Kindle Keyboard that I’ve had for about 15 months after my previous one died at about 9 months and was replaced because it was within warranty. Kindles do not have a good reputation for longevity. On the other hand, when it’s working, it does exactly what I want it to do and I love it. The problem is that Amazon no longer sell the Kindle Keyboard. My options are: Kindle 6″ (no keyboard, much reduced storage, £69); Kindle Paperwhite (ditto, but with a different kind of screen which I’m not sure I like the look of, £109); Kindle Fire (not e-ink, a tablet rather than an e-reader, which is not what I want); get the screen replaced (£59); get a second hand Kindle Keyboard on ebay (about £40). I went for the latter and actually I’m going to buy a second hand one from a twitter/knitting friend. I hope it lasts for a while.

My netbook is also on the way out. It’s got a missing ‘o’ (I can type it, but there’s no key), and more importantly, limited memory, which is not really working any more. Firefox crashes regularly, it’s slow and unreliable. I’d hoped I might be able to add extra memory, but it’s not obvious how to do it (I have done this on other laptops but when I found the tutorial for how to do it on this one, it looked way scarier.) I might be able to pay someone to do that. I’ve looked around and yet again, what I want is basically discontinued. Manufacturers are not putting out new, up to date, netbooks. So my options are: a cheap netbook with the same spec as my current one for around £180; a tablet (DO NOT WANT, choose your own price); or an ultrabook (CAN’T AFFORD). The problem with the netbooks that are out there is that they are essentially 2-year-old models. They will have the same problems as my current netbook, i.e. lack of memory. I can’t see that it’s worth spending any money on one, unless I can find one with more memory, a more up to date operating system, and so on. Ultrabooks are lovely, I’m sure, but I don’t want to be spending £500 or more for something that isn’t my main computer. I use my netbook when I’m travelling and when I’m in bed/watching TV etc. I mostly use it for writing and internet. I would like to be able to watch TV without it crashing. I would like to be able to use some other software occasionally when I’m not at home with access to my main laptop. I don’t need it to be glossy or sleek; I do need it to be solid and sturdy. I don’t want a tablet. I need to be able to write. A lot.

So I don’t know what to do. I suppose I could consolidate my main laptop (which I basically use as a slightly more portable desktop) with my netbook and get something inbetween. With a big screen for a second monitor at my desk. I hate second monitors. I could get a tablet and a USB keyboard. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I could save up and get an ultrabook.

I just don’t understand why technology keeps getting less functional and more expensive. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?

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DABWAHA, links, and what I’m up to at the moment

I got the nomination for the reader pick in DABWAHA! I am ridiculously excited about this, so thank you very much if you nominated The Oil Tycoon and Her Sexy Sheikh. The bad news is that in round 1 I’m up against Sarah Morgan’s Once A Ferrara Wife which is an utterly brilliant book by one of the best category romance writers out there. I don’t expect to make it to round 2, but I’ll have fun trying. I’ll let you know when the voting starts.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=03311c5777&view=att&th=13d753a0cf8df2a8&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_hedbmlud0&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-xuvPOqN_c3sCbCvH_qJHo&sadet=1363567402282&sads=E9QwPJRyltewMOEZ4-aXPm3pwb0

 
A reader just alerted me to the fact that the links to all my Entangled books were broken. I did sort of know this, but I hadn’t quite got round to fixing them. Entangled started using a new distributor (Macmillan) last month, which has resulted in all the books being re-uploaded and having new links. I think I have fixed them all now, but if you find one that isn’t right, please let me know!

 

I am not going to be around much for the next six weeks or so (apart from the DABWAHA trash talking, obviously). My next book is due on May 5th, and I hope to submit my thesis before then, as well. The thesis is mostly written, apart from the conclusion, but it is about 25,000 words too long. I wonder if I can just put those words into my new book without my editor noticing? Maybe not…

In the meantime, here’s a ridiculously brief summary of what’s been on my kindle lately:

The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand: didn’t fall in love like I did with the Chocolate Thief, especially in the first half, but I forgave it everything for two chapters near the end that hit me right in the emotional solar plexus. Plus there is chocolate and patisserie. What’s not to love about that?

The Sheikh’s Disobedient Bride by Jane Porter: a very old-fashioned (though not actually old) sheikh romance, with kidnapping and forced marriage and a totally unreconstructed hero. I liked it a lot in some ways but it left me somewhat disturbed in others.

Clover, In the High Valley, Just Sixteen
by Susan Coolidge: all free for Kindle! I’d read Clover before but not the others. I did find In The High Valley something of a disappointment. There is an unlikeable character, but she is never fully developed and nuanced in the way that Coolidge can do. I did like the way Dorry proposes to a girl because she isn’t clever like his sisters, who he’s been overwhelmed by his whole life.

Cassandra by Chance
by Betty Neels: It’s Betty Neels, and a really good one.

The Autumn Bride
by Anne Gracie: I’d been looking forward to this a lot and was somewhat disappointed. This deserves a proper post to explain why.

Goddess of the Hunt
by Tessa Dare: I’m halfway through and need to finish writing this post so that I can go and finish it NOW.

Midweek indulgence

Last week I went down to London for two days of sheer luxurious indulgence. It was perfect.

First on our agenda was afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason. We popped in to Hatchards for a quick browse beforehand so that we could pretend to be proper Heyer heroines. Then we admired the tea and food on sale on the ground floor and I salivated at the chocolate and sweetmeats counters. Upstairs we were careful not to let our bags knock the wildly expensive crockery off the display tables in the kitchen/dining department. And then we took the lift to the fourth floor and the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

As we arrived, someone was playing on the grand piano. A member of staff took our coats and my overnight bag to the cloakroom and then we were shown to our table. They serve 82 varieties of tea at Fortnums and to help guests try some of the more unusual kinds, they offer a tea tasting. Four kinds of tea (rotated on a weekly basis) are brought to the table and a bowl of each is made for you to try. We tried two green teas, a Darjeeling, and (I think) an Assam. The green teas were spectacular and F. ordered both to have with our tea, while I went for my favourite Countess Grey and a glass of pink champagne. The tea menus have a set price and you can have as much food or tea as you like with them, which gave a wonderfully sumptuous feel to the event.

tea

I had the traditional afternoon tea: sandwiches, scones and cakes. Which in no way does justice to the food I ate which was heavenly and so beautifully presented. I had five kinds of sandwiches, presented with the fillings upright and colour co-ordinated from deep pink (salmon), pale pink (roast beef), pale yellow (egg), pale green (chicken and tarragon), deep green (cucumber). There were fruit and plain scones, served with lashings of clotted cream (we ordered extra and had far too much), and fresh lemon curd or jam. Individual cakes were chocolate and rose, lemon and praline, and vanilla and cherry. And there was a homemade jammy dodger. Plus there were large cakes you could have slices from but my appetite failed me at that point.

There are two other menus: a savoury afternoon tea which substitutes various canape-type things for the cakes, and a high tea which substitutes hot savoury dishes for the sandwiches. F. had two dishes from the high tea menu, scones and no cakes. She chose Welsh rarebit and a lobster truffle omelette. I didn’t try the Welsh rarebit though it looked delicious, but I did try the omelette which was one of the best things I have ever eaten ever. SO GOOD.

The staff were brilliant, constantly checking that we had enough of everything – more sandwiches, more scones, more cream, more cakes, more tea…. We did not eat again until the next day.

After tea we had thought it would be nice to go downstairs and buy some of the teas we had enjoyed drinking. F. bought me 150g of the Countess Grey. Then she asked for the green tea she had most enjoyed. Which turned out to be £500/kilo. Um, no. But it did make the afternoon tea seem even better value than before. It is not cheap, but I’d say it’s worth it.

Anyway, we then went to try on hats, smell perfumes and such like before changing into sparkly outfits in the loos for the next stage of our adventure.

To be continued…

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