Sunday, March 28, 2010

Famous Spots and Expectations

I've been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to travel here and there at different times in my life, even out of the country. (And if my dream comes true and I win the lotto someday, I have a ton more I will be going to visit!) The biggest thing that's whacked me over the head when I've gone to some of these places, more specifically the very famous ones, is how due to the media, there's a built in expectation of what the place will be like that doesn't often actually meet with reality.

It's possible this is just me, but I doubt it. As I will endeavor to explain. (I'm bringing all this up as it should be something that as authors or even tourists, we keep in mind when writing about or are thinking going to somewhere - so there's a reason for this madness.) :P

My first encounter with this phenomenon was the first time I went to Japan years and years ago.

Tokyo itself was what I expected. A big modern metropolis with tons or people, trains, posters, buildings. The big surprise there was the little bits of 'old' like small corner shrines, monks, and the like you'd see sprinkled here and there. But overall, I got as expected. Kyoto on the other hand...

From movies, TV specials, and the like, my mind's eye had a certain view of Kyoto. When Kyoto was in movies, etc they tended to only photograph and focus on the old part of the city, the small section kept as it had been back in the samurai era.

And when I first went there I was in literal shock to find the city to be a very modern affair! You actually had to work to find old architecture and the quaint little places I'd always seen before. The old quarter is very small and totally surrounded by the modern everything.

It wasn't to be the last time I went somewhere and was forced to realize things were far from what we're normally shown.

The same thing happened to me on my near miss visit to Las Vegas and the strip. (Convention was in a nearby town not in Las Vegas itself. Got to peek at it as we went around it and later drive through it when my flight was canceled. Leg problem and not able to afford $75 taxi bills kept me from the strip. So close and yet so far!)

Anyway, I digress. Las Vegas mostly looks just like any other city in the US (Except for some giant billboards!).

The strip itself is only a few blocks long and if you walk away from it, it's as if it never was!

The latest one I faced was New Orleans. The big whoop you always hear about is the French Quarter. But it too suffers from the same media blitz and fairy tale making, a lot of other famous places do as well. Yes, what they show you does exist, just not in the proportions they like to show. (It was amazing to see how much the city has recouped from Katrina though!)

So you can go from beautiful and picture perfect to fantasy shattering reality by just going down a different street.

I guess what my point is, don't just believe the media. As both a tourist and an author, make sure to dig a little deeper. Not only can it make your works more true to life (and won't get you laughed at by those who live there), but you might spare yourself a nasty, unexpected surprise. :P

Sunday, March 14, 2010

EPICon 2010

Last week was EPICon 2010 - a convention that's held in a different city each year by EPIC - the Electronically Published Internet Connection.

Unlike the rest of the conventions I attend, Epic's is strictly for e-book publishers and authors. No fans. (Well, writers are always fans too so I'm not exactly telling the truth, but you know what I mean.) :P So it can be a great venue for picking up new tips on marketing, making connections, networking, doing pitches, etc.

This year's convention was held in New Orleans!

Epicon 2010 New Orleans

I got to walk around the French Quarter for a couple of hours and we also had a boat ride set up through the convention aboard the converted Mississippi River Boat Natchez.

Epicon 2010 New Orleans

While you would think that only a few ours out in the outside world I would not be able to take a lot of pics, I'd have to point out you'd be dead wrong. I have shutter finger big time! If you're interested in taking a peek at the photos, you can see them here.

While a lot of the topics discussed were a lot of the same ones we've had before, many of the guests themselves were vibrant and new and gave us new insights, which was fab. Some personal favorites were: Deidre Knight, visiting as ebook author more than agency owner (she does some nice off the beaten path romances - I very much enjoyed the Butterfly Tattoo, which she won an EPIC E-book Award for that weekend! Congrats!); Deborah LeBlanc, paranormal author and Cajun to the core (she was a giant bundle of concentrated energy! Very inspiring! She will catch up to James Patterson yet!) and also heads up; Holly Jacobs, enthusiastic, fun and made the mistake of sitting near me for the banquet (we had a blast talking about Wii Fit agonies, heh heh), and several others.

Totally top on my list, however, was Forensic Anthropologist Maria Allaire. I'd been weeping to myself as I would not be in Dallas for a lecture on forensic anthropology as I would be out of town yet got one anyway! YES! *pumps fist* Dr Allaire belongs to the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing People, which supplies services for the state to try to identify the identities of remains for which the police are not able to get a name for through usual investigation. Her passion for her work shone through the entire double panel. I had my geek on so bad! We learned the most interesting stuff about maggots, their habits and life cycles. High speed velocity impacts vs blunt force trauma vs sharp trauma, differences between antemortem, perimortem, and postmortem and how they can tell that's what injuries are. She brought props, she brought slides, I was bouncing in my seat and writing like mad. SQUEEEEEE!!!!

Of course I got to see many old friends and made some new ones, which is always great! A lot of sickness was going around, which was somewhat of a bummer, but I mostly came out unscathed on that front. *knock on wood* Was totally jealous of some of the other peeps who got there a few days early and did tours like mad. Scums! Heh heh.

Hope next year is even better! (Yeah, no pressure, guys. Hee!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Read an E-book Week and Free E-books!


The time has come around once more for Read and E-book Week. E-book awareness has been rising in the last few years. And you all can cash in big time with some free books!

Don't know what an e-book is? Would like some info? has set up a page to discuss what they are, the numerous ways they can be read, free computer program readers, resources and more.

Zumaya Publications has also jumped into the act by offering several of their titles for FREE for the week! One of them is my first book In the Service of Samurai . So if you've not given in to temptation before to check it out, this might be the time!

Here are all the free books Zumaya has place for the week so far:

In the Service of Samurai by Gloria Oliver (YA Fantasy)

Synergy by M D Benoit (Science Fiction)

Kingdom of Dreams and Shadows by David Lynn Anderson (Fantasy)

Milky Way Marmalade by Michael DiCerto (Science Fiction Comedy ala Hitchhiker's)

The Dream Ender by Dorien Grey (Thriller)

So how about checking out what e-books are all about and getting some free reads too! Should be a blast!

Tell your friends!

Have a good one!

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic
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