marthawells: (Default)
We went to Galveston for a few days with a friend, and man, I really needed the break.

The dolphin one was a complete accident. I'm never quick enough to catch them; I got that one by just continually clicking the camera.

We also took a ghost/historical tour in one of the neighborhoods with Victorian houses. The scariest part was seeing the house Robert Durst committed a murder in, and hearing that he had been back once already that they knew of, and that he had been trying to buy another house across the street. It sure explained why the house between the two had so many security lights. It looked like it was planning to help planes land in a fog. Ghosts are fun, but the words "Robert Durst was here" will make you sprint for your car.
marthawells: (Default)
The last few days I took a short vacation to Galveston with my husband and friends. It's usually a really cheap trip for us, since it's only a few hours drive, we go in the off-season, we stay at an older condo building on the beach that rents out apartments for hotel rooms so you can share with several people and still be comfortable, etc. We had a good time, but there were some things that went wrong, mainly one friend had to cancel due to a death in the family, another had a bank transfer go wrong, then on the second to last day our car broke down and needed a new battery and a water pump. (The last went way better than it could have because the service department of the local Toyota dealership was extremely helpful and worked extra hard to get it fixed quickly so we didn't have to pay for an extra day or half-day at our hotel.) (It's a really good car, but it's nine years old and starting to feel its age.)

We did get to go swimming a few times, though the water was a little cool, and we did the harbor/dolphin boat tour and the dolphins started surfing in the wake of our boat.

Also, a huge storm came up on Monday afternoon. Half of it hit while we were in the rainforest exhibit pyramid at Moody Gardens. There are small openings at the top of the glass pyramid to let the rain in, so it actually rained while we were in the rainforest, so that was pretty cool. (It's a great exhibit anyway, designed so you start at the top and walk down through the canopy to the forest floor, and there are three different bat exhibits, one in a bat cave, and a giant leaf ant hive, and lots of other neat things.)

The rain backed off a bit and we went to go eat, but when we were sitting on an upper balcony at a place on the Sea Wall, another huge storm came up, so we moved inside. It cleared off very quickly, but we started to hear sirens on the way back, and when we got to our hotel, we started to see the beach emergency trucks driving up and down the beach, a rescue jet ski crossing back and forth in the waves, plus a search boat, and the coast guard helicopter flying low over the water. Yeah, not good signs. One of our friends had gone out for a walk on the beach when we got back, and she came in and said the emergency vehicles were all meeting up just down the beach from us at the end of the island where some fishing jetties are, and she had seen things like brand new unopened drink cans and pieces of a cooler washing ashore. We found out a small boat had wrecked and one person was unaccounted for. A little later they found him near the south jetty, not alive.

So it was kind of a stressful vacation, though it could have been a lot worse. (I got to see part of the moon eclipse because I was awake at 5:00 am stressing about the car!) Also very expensive, with the car problem, though that would have happened anyway at some point.
marthawells: (Default)
I just got back from a short trip to Galveston Island. It's only a three hour drive from here (depending on traffic) so it's a good place to go when you just desperately need to de-stress for a couple of days. The ocean was still a little too cold for swimming, at least for me, but we walked along the beach, had some drinks, and some really good food.

One thing we did was take an early tour of the Bishop's Palace, and instead of a guide just got to walk around it with an audio-tour phone. It was really neat, just being able to walk around it wherever you wanted. I noticed this time that though the interior ceilings, especially on the first floor, are probably twenty to twenty-five feet high, the rooms are around normal size, so it feels cozy. I guess if you have three foot thick stone walls, there really isn't a lot of space for huge ballrooms. The stone walls came in handy during the 1900 storm, where it got some broken windows and had water in the basement while other houses were being washed away and one of the four-story brick buildings in the Strand had its top floor implode. Thousands of people were killed in Galveston in the 1900 storm, and the Bishop's Palace saved a large number of people in the surrounding neighborhood. During hurricane Ike, it also had a few windows broken and water in the basement.



* There's giveaway drawing going on all this month for five copies of Emilie and the Hollow World at the YA Books Central Blog

* There's also a Giveaway at GoodReads for five copies of The Siren Depths.
marthawells: Atlantis in fog (Atlantis)
When we were in Galveston one year during October, we took a special tour of the Ashton Villa. After the 1900 hurricane (which killed probably around 8000 people) they raised the grade of the island and built the seawall. The story always was that the short wrought iron fence in front of the Ashton was actually eight feet tall, with most of it being buried when they raised the street level, and that there was a basement to the house that had been completely filled in. (This made sense at the time, because the Moody Mansion and the Bishop's Palace on that street both have large stone basement areas. The Bishop's Palace's basement (which is built like a bomb shelter) was restored after hurricane Ike, but the Moody Mansion's basement was damaged and still weeping water a year later.) No one was sure what was in the Ashton's basement, but everyone assumed it was a kitchen.

Most of the stories surrounding the Ashton Villa were about Miss Bettie, who lived there with her sisters and nieces and nephews, was very rich, and did whatever the hell she wanted. There's also a story that during the 1900 storm, she stood out on the balcony with a pole and a rope and tried to rescue people who were floating by in the storm surge. (I don't know if it's true, but there are a lot of stories about people being rescued this way. There's one about the convent near the house during the hurricane, where the nuns took the nun who was the best swimmer, tied a rope around her and when they saw a body in the water, threw her out toward it. She would swim to it, grab on, and they would pull her back in.)

Then hurricane Ike happened in 2008 and the Ashton Villa was flooded. While restoring the first floor, they found a rock tomb under the house. We saw the opening in the floor while we were there, but never did hear anything else about it. The historical society doesn't have much money after Ike and they don't do tours of the house anymore. But it sure did put a different light on why the family might have let them fill in the basement after 1900.

They told us some ghost stories about the Ashton, but I had never heard any stories about it before that Halloween, and the house never did feel spooky or haunted to me. It felt like an old, well-cared-for house, even with the dark gaping hole down to the basement tomb in the dining room. This was while being there in the dark, with only a few people, with the lights mostly turned off and a security system's motion detector that kept going off for no apparent reason.

But the tour guide we had that time had actually been in Galveston during Ike. He told us that right after it, after a day of trying to triage the damage on the historic houses, he found his apartment was full of mud, so he and another guide stayed the night in the Menard House, the oldest existing house on the island, which had come through the hurricane in good shape and really is supposed to be haunted. The guide said he laid there trying to sleep, watching the pendant lights sway to the left, pause, sway to the right, pause, then stop in the middle, then start again. He said that after a while he just didn't want to see what else was going to happen, and he was so exhausted, he told the house to please leave him alone and got up and took a valium.



Bounty Sinks Off NC Coast This is why they didn't try to move the Elissa out of Galveston before hurricane Ike. They're still dealing with the repercussions of it (the sails were rolled up and secured to the spars, but the wind still shredded them, and the hull was damaged and now has to be repaired) but it's still intact and nobody died.

Geek Tyrant: Creepy Halloween Photos from 100 Years Ago

Book rec:

Mirage by Jenn Reese. This is the sequel to her MG SF novel Above World.

On Kirkus: The Book Smugglers 10 Recommended Halloween Reads
marthawells: (Miko)
Quick Note:

My reprint of Wheel of the Infinite is now available in Kobo ebook. It should be DRM-free, and it's only $2.99.

The Element of Fire and City of Bones are going to be up there soon, once I can check to make sure the epub files are okay. My other books currently on Kobo here.

Trip report:

So Monday evening I drove to Conroe with a friend, spent the night, picked up another friend in Houston Tuesday morning, and then drove down to Galveston.

Despite all the rain we've been having lately, the weather was gorgeous. We got there about lunchtime, and went to The Spot, which is on the Seawall. It's a weird little bar/food place that's been there a long time and has expanded over the years, so you get there, park in the back, walk past the bar, walk between the other two bars, walk past the ice cream/cake counter, then finally find the food counter. We sat on an outdoor upper floor balcony with a great view of the beach.

Then we went to The Strand, which was the sort of main street, financial center of the town before the 1900 hurricane. Now a lot of the Victorian buildings have been restored and are all restaurants and shops. (And there's the Moody Building at the far end, which is in a gorgeous white Art Deco style, which is still an office building.) (On one of my earlier trips, I posted a picture of the hurricane Ike high water line, which would have been two feet over my head, even standing on the sidewalks which are two feet or so above street level.) We shopped a lot.

We also stopped at LaKings Confectionery, which is an old fashioned candy factory and soda fountain (and a new fashioned coffee bar) and I had a chocolate soda. I wish I had taken a picture, because it looked as good as it tasted. (When they put it on the counter, a small crowd gathered behind me wanting to know what it was.) Every place else I've ordered chocolate soda, it's been made wrong. (Places seem to put it on their menus but don't know how to make it. The most common way I've had it made wrong is that they mix the chocolate ice cream with the soda, which gives you a glass of mush. You're supposed to mix chocolate syrup with the soda, then float the scoops of either chocolate or vanilla ice cream on top. If a place doesn't ask you if you want chocolate or vanilla ice cream when you order a chocolate soda, it usually means they're about to make it wrong.) Anyway, they used a very dark chocolate, and it was incredible.

Then we went to our hotel, which was Gaido's Seaside Inn, which is cheap but nice. We walked across the street to the beach and went swimming, and the water was very warm. We usually go in the offseason in September, when it's still warm enough to go swimming, but not quite this warm.

Then we went to dinner at Rudi and Paco's next to the restored Victorian Opera House on Post Office Street, which is a couple of streets down from the Strand, and has more shopping, mostly art galleries. We were standing outside looking at the menu, and the owner, Paco, was out there and sort of shooed us in and seated us himself , which did cause waiters to materialize even faster than they normally would. It's a very small place but with a really pretty Art Deco style interior. Dinner was excellent.

The next day we went to breakfast at Miller's Grill, which is a small Victorian style house on the Sea Wall which serves incredible French toast. Then we checked out of the hotel and went to Moody Gardens, to the newly remodeled rain forest pyramid exhibit. (Here's some photos online of the outside)

Then we went to a new place I had heard about but never been before. It's towards the West end of the island, on one of the bays, and was called the Waterman. It's one of those places where you can drive up in your boat, tie off, and then go eat, so it's right on the water. The restaurant on the second floor only opened for dinner, but the bar on the first floor served lunch, so we sat there and looked at the water and had really good food. It was basically a room with a roof and two walls, and one whole side open to the bay.

Then we did a bit more shopping, then started for home, because we were dead tired. (We didn't get a lot of sleep due to an allergic reaction, a car alarm in the parking lot, and me not understanding how to make the air conditioner stay on until the middle of the night.) But it was a great trip.
marthawells: (Default)
I've been offline since late Monday afternoon, taking a mini-vacation in Galveston. We got back late last night. Here's some photos, and I'll do a bit of a trip report later.

I've taken a lot of pictures of the Victorian houses, the new beachhouses, etc, so this time I was trying to get different things. For previous pictures, check out the Galveston tag below.

This is the view from where we had lunch, at The Spot

more photos )
marthawells: (Default)
Got back from vacation yesterday. We had a great time, but now I need to finish up going over the copyedit/proof of The Serpent Sea. So here's some photos:

These are the views from where we were staying.

more photos from this year's trip )

My whole Galveston Gallery is there, if you want to see more pictures.
marthawells: (John Sheppard)
Got some stuff done this weekend. Re-watched some Doctor Who episodes to refresh my memory for an essay I'm writing, plus made a little advertising booklet for The Cloud Roads to hand out as a freebie at the conventions I'm going to. It's got the first chapter, plus the description, some blurbs, etc. The printing was expensive (would have been more expensive without the helpful Office Depot coupon) but I'm hoping it'll be a more effective promo item than just a bookmark or a card with the cover and book description on it.

Still working on the third Cloud Roads book, and I'm now back to the point where I like it again, and really hope the first two do well enough that the publisher will want to publish it, too.

Couple of articles:

From Bill Crider: After Ike, a deluge of reinvention
Hotel employees whose homes were uninhabitable were invited by owner George Mitchell to move into the Galvez, with meals and lodging free of charge. After all, the luxury hotel still had to prepare for weddings and cruise passengers later that fall, while an $11 million renovation geared for the centennial was already underway.

“We could have said, "We're gone," and started over somewhere else, but we stayed," said chef concierge Jackie Hasan, 60, whose apartment building was condemned because of Ike damage. "We are the stewards of the people who came before us, who went through that terrible 1900 storm but said, we're going to stay, rebuild, and withstand the forces of nature thrown at us."

Jackie Kessler: Making the Darkness Visible
Heads up, WSJ: Life isn’t always beautiful and joyous. That’s not the real world; it never was. We just know more today about the issues that have been around for a long time — and we’ve come to a point where we’re not afraid to talk about these issues.

Speaking of conventions, here's my schedule for the rest of the year:

June 24-26. I'll be Guest of Honor at ApolloCon 2011, in Houston, Texas.

August 17-21. Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, in Reno, Nevada.

August 26-28. ArmadilloCon 33, in Austin, Texas.

November 11-13. I'll have a table at the Austin ComicCon, in Austin, Texas.
marthawells: (Default)
This is one of those days where all I want to do is go to The Spot for lunch, have a fried oyster sandwich, and sit on the top deck that most people don't realize is up there and look at the ocean. But that's a four hour drive in traffic.

It would look like this:

And while we're fantasizing, I would live in this house:

And remember, if you are in Galveston this weekend, obey the sign:

Instead, I'm just going to keep writing this book. I'm taking my third trip via complete re-write through chapters nine and ten today.

Where would you guys like to be this weekend that you aren't?
marthawells: (Default)
Sorry I've been missing lately -- my fifteenth wedding anniversary was last week, we went on a quick trip to Galveston, and this week I've been kind of swamped with stuff that needs to be done immediately.

I'm going to be at World Fantasy this weekend, in Columbus, Ohio. If you're going to be there, come say hi!

My panel is:

Saturday Noon: Panel B16: Sword & Sorcery. Scott Andrews, Martha Wells, Howard Jones, Patricia Bray. Sword & Sorcery. Clearly this "literary fossil," as Alexei Panshin once called it, is not yet extinct. But has it evolved? A discussion of the continuing appeal and the nature of the form.

I'll also be at the mass autographing Friday night.

There was talk of a Black Gate Magazine Group Reading on Friday, but it's actually on Saturday:

2nd Floor, Madison room* (or immediately next door), Hyatt Regency Hotel
Saturday, 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

A number of Black Gate authors will be doing ten minute readings of their stories, including me, so come on by. It's not on the official schedule, so probably won't be listed on the program.


While we were in Galveston, we got a chance to do the Ashton Villa Haunted Tour, which is actually the Ashton Villa Post-Hurricane Ike Restoration Tour, with bonus ghost stories. The house, built in 1859, got three feet of water in it during hurricane Ike. (This sounds like a lot, but it got nine feet of water during the 1900 storm that killed between 6000 and 12,000 people. It flooded, but didn't wash away or implode and kill everybody inside, so go house.) The Ike flooding ruined the downstairs floor and damaged the entire collection of ground floor furniture. The furniture has been restored now and is stored upstairs in the bedrooms. (For a mansion, it's not actually that large a house, especially compared to the Moody Mansion or the Bishop's Palace, which is built like a combination castle/bomb shelter.) The floor is still being replaced and the walls are being worked on.

(One of the people on the tour with us wanted to argue about all their decisions, particularly why the older women who were working in the house during Ike didn't save the collection (chairs, tables, couches, the piano) by carrying all of it up the 30-40 foot grand staircase designed by the human mountain goats common in 1859. If I never hear the words "why didn't you just--" again, I will be a happy, happy woman.)

One of the cool things we heard was about the buried basement. After the 1900 storm, the seawall was built and the grade of the island was raised by several feet. A lot of people at the time had their houses jacked up to the new level, but the Ashton Villa didn't bother, and the family just had the basement filled in with dirt. (Which is why the house sits flat on the ground now, unlike the other mansions on Broadway. The short ornamental iron fence in front also extends several feet below the ground -- the only thing they moved up was the gate.) After Ike when they had the floor torn up, they started excavating the basement to find out what was down there.

They found a crypt under the basement.

They have no idea who, if anybody, is in it. But it certainly casts the family's decision to fill in the basement on top of it in a new light.
marthawells: (John Green Trees)
Yesterday was the two year anniversary of hurricane Ike.

Here's a link to's Big Picture One Year After (I've actually met the man in picture #11. He's the owner of Bistro LeCroy on the Strand in Galveston, and we've eaten lunch there several times. Which you should all do if you have a chance, because it is truly delicious and worth far more than the small amounts they charge for it.)


From [profile] jess_ka: Abra SW is posting a serialized steampunk novel, to get donations for her mother's cancer treatment: The Circus of Brass and Bone Five Things You Think Will Make You Happy (But Won't) It's all good advice, but the section about power strikes me as especially true.
The thing is, it's the desire itself that's poisonous...These are the people who are only nice guys because of fear of retribution if they do otherwise, so their main goal is to become strong enough that no retribution is possible...

So it's not just that power will destroy you. It's that the urge itself is bad news. That desire for power is a vicious, ravenous animal and feeding it only makes it strong enough to tear its way out of your belly and go on a bloody rampage.

I think there's a lot of bad online behavior that goes back to a desire for power, like trolls, online dogpiles, etc.
marthawells: (Default)
Below are some more photos from my Galveston trip. I'm really glad we went. Last year we spent all year waiting to take a hypothetical vacation which we never ended up taking because when we found out Troyce was going to be laid off, we couldn't afford it. This year we decided to take a short cheap vacation now, while we could.

Post-Ike, more of the stores and restaurants are back. Some of the chain outfits didn't return, but one of the store owners told us she thinks this is actually helping the local merchants. We went down to the beach house we stayed at right before Ike, and noticed the beautiful beach grass had grown back. It's all mixed in with wildflowers, and harbors a lot of insects, frogs, etc. Murdock's Pier, which has been on that spot for 100 years this year, has been completely rebuilt. (After Ike it was a pile of rubble and wood in the middle of Seawall Boulevard.) Gaidos Restaurant, which was originally built on Murdock's Pier, but is now on the Seawall a little further down from it, is 99 years old this year.

The historic Balinese Room, famed in song and story and the annals of law enforcement, favorite of the Rat Pack, raided multiple times by the Texas Rangers, is still dead. There are only a few pilings left and a marker to show where it was.

We also ate at Rudi and Paco for the first time. It's next to the Opera House, and has seafood and South American-style dishes in a lovely Art Deco dining room. It was good. Like, very good. Like, "sweet mystery of life, now I've found you" good.

more photos )
marthawells: (Default)
We went down to Galveston for a few days last week, and had a great time. (If you missed it, my post yesterday was about going to see Money, Marbles, and Chalk at the opera house.) We usually like to go swimming, but didn't this time because the water was still too cold, and the sea was very rough. (Right now the coastline is fine, but if Bastard Petroleum doesn't fix their fucking leak before too long, I don't know what will happen. I hope the Texas coast doesn't end up a dead wasteland like the coast from Alabama to Florida is going to.)

Our first morning there we walked out on the new paved top of one of the jetties. Troyce was standing out on the end, and I was about twenty feet back taking pictures. A wave broke over the end of the jetty and knocked him down. He was okay except for scraped knees, but that's when we decided swimming might not be such a great idea. There were also a lot of Portugese Man o' Wars washed up on the beach, so that was a little daunting.

some photos )

I'm still uploading pictures, so I'll post some more tomorrow.

Reminder about the books I have in various charity auctions: There's an autographed hardcover set of the Fall of Ile Rien trilogy in debsliverlovers. The bidding is currently at $75.00.

This a fandom auction to benefit Deb Mensinger and her wife, Laurie J. Marks. This auction is to raise money for the medical and incidental expenses related to Deb Mensinger's liver transplant. Deb and Laurie will have a number of expenses that are not covered by insurance, including the costs related to getting the potential live donor to Massachusetts for testing and, if all goes well, the surgery.

There are tons of fantastic items up for bid, including signed books, ARCs, original artwork prints by Terri Windling and Thomas Canty, fanfic, food, plants, knitting, boat tours, items from all different fandoms. They need to raise $10,000, and they're currently at $5000.


I also have autographed hardcover books up for auction in Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research

The Wizard Hunters
The Ships of Air
The Gate of Gods

These are going cheap right now! Two have bids of only $12.00. And even though the photos they have up are from the paperbacks, these are actually signed hardcovers.
marthawells: (Atlantis fog)
We went down to Galveston over the past couple of days, and had a great time.

One thing we did was see the premiere of Holland Taylor's one woman play "Money, Marbles, and Chalk," about the life of Ann Richards. It was excellent, and as an Ann Richards fan, it was fabulous. The title is an old blues expression, meaning "I'm all in, everything I've got."

The play talks about Richards' childhood, her parents, and the governorship. The best scenes were set in Richards' office, with the voices of her staff members playing themselves, while she wrestles with a death penalty case, rips the heads off various subordinates, harasses Bill Clinton on the phone, organizes a fishing trip with her four children, and plans to buy boots for the subordinates whose heads she's ripping off. It's funny and touching, and Holland Taylor made me cry a couple of times. You come out of it really wishing Richards had survived to kick even more ass.

She talks about going to the Lady Longhorns basketball games with Barbara Jordan, and how Jordan would pull her wheelchair up to the scoring table, and if things weren't going well she would pound on it and shout in the voice of God, "Can we not shoot any better than that?" (Somebody should do a one-woman show about Barbara Jordan and have it somewhere where I can go see it.)

The play was only at the Grand Opera House this weekend, but hopefully it'll be traveling all over. More people need to see this.

And this was our first time to go to the Opera House, which was built in 1894, and is gorgeous on the inside. The play didn't end until after 11:00, and by that point it was pouring down rain. Pouring. With flood warnings and everything. We ended up wading through foot-deep water to get to the car, but managed to get back without drowning or being swept off the Seawall or anything, so that turned out all right.
marthawells: (Atlantis Dark Sky)
I keep trying to remember to update over here too, but failing miserably. Most of my posts are still over on Live Journal, and I'm not sure that will change. All my icons and photos are over there.

Anyway, here's my hurricane Ike Anniversary post:

The Big Picture: One Year After Hurricane Ike. There are some really poignant before and after photos of Galveston here. From photo 2 on, click on the photo to get the alternate version.

One of the big differences that's hard to see in photos is the dead trees. Galveston used to have tree-lined streets, but the saltwater killed a huge number of them.

We were in Galveston on vacation when Ike was about to come in, and left at the first mandatory evacuation, so we were back home by the time it hit. Here's my before and after photo set.

And this one, showing the Ike waterline on the Strand:

Photo 10 on The Big Picture, where it says "Murdoch's Pier and restaurants amid the debris..." That debris was Murdoch's Pier. There was nothing left of it but the pilings, but it's being rebuilt. It was originally built in the late 1800s and rebuilt after the 1900 hurricane.

Dallas Morning News Before and After Pictures

The Short but Eventful Life of Ike from The Big Picture, September 2008.


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