Books for Breakfast

Ok, third attempt to write this entry – the last two times I got about one paragraph in, and then somehow managed to click the wrong thing and lose it again – I’m not normally that technologically incompetent, I think it was just tiredness (late night last night, and then up early this morning). But I’ve just had an hour’s snooze, and I feel a bit more awake now, so hopefully I won’t do anything dumb this time! Anyway…

Last Sunday of the month today, so I spent the morning at our Bookcrossing Breakfast meetup at Trattorie. We had a really good turnout: me, lytteltonwitch and her ex-husband, awhina and meerkitten, BizzieLizzie, her son, and her nephew, and rozyglow, who has been a member for a while but hasn’t made it to a meetup before. As well as the usual chat and swapping of books, we managed to decide on the final design for the convention logo, and talk to the manager of Trattorie about having our farewell convention breakfast there. He said he wasn’t planning on opening at all over Easter, but if we can guarantee 30 people coming, he’ll open for breakfast on the Monday – so, like everything to do with this convention, it’s all dependent on the number of registrations we get. Of course, we could find another cafe that’s going to be open anyway to have our breakfast at, but we were hoping to go to Trattorie because our OCZ bookshelf is there. I told him we’d talk to him again in a few weeks, so fingers crossed that we get loads of registrations in before then!

I picked up a few books (of course): One Hundred and One Ways by Mako Yoshikawa, and three books by Kathleen Rowntree: Between Friends, Brief Shining, and Outside, Looking In (I hadn’t actually intended to take all three of them – awhina had brought them to the meetup, and she and lytteltonwitch were talking about what good books they were for a nice light read, which sounded very appealing in my tired state, so I decided to take one home to try out. But when the meetup ended, the other two were still sitting on the table, so I thought I might as well take the lot – I’ll read one, and if it’s good, read the other two, and if not, take them back to another meetup sometime). I managed to get rid of more books than I brought home, at least – I passed on Walking Through Tigerland by Barry Oakley, Shadows from the Fire by Mary Ryan, When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, and The Biggest Modern Woman of the World by Susan Swan, and finally got round to dropping off Curious Questions by Max Cryer, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Barbie’s Star-swept Adventure by Suzanne Weyn, and The Mystery of the Green Ghost by Robert Arthur in the OCZ, which I’ve been meaning to do since Christmas.

I had a brilliant (I hope) idea the other day while I was looking through my embroidery bits and pieces. I came across some of the little kits they sometimes have on the front of cross-stitch magazines (usually for greetings cards). I’d made up a few of them, but had never actually found a use for them, so they were still in my “useful things” bag. One of the kits which I’d made up was a little notebook with a beaded cover. Looking at it, it occured to me that little notebooks are something very useful to all bookcrossers (handy for noting things like where you’ve released books, so that you can make proper release notes when you get back to a computer), and that notebooks might be a good thing to add to the convention goody bags. So I decided to have a look at notebooks the next time I was in town. Anyway, MrPloppy and I went up to Northlands yesterday, so I had a look in Whitcoulls. The nice decorated notebooks were all over $5, so too expensive to buy one for everyone, but then I noticed that one of the items in their “Back to School” sale was those little 3B1 notebooks we used to use at school for spelling lists and things. They’re pretty basic and ugly, but they were only 5c each! And so, a plan was born. I bought a pile of them (plus a few slightly more expensive ones in other sizes, just to provide some variety), some stickers, some holographic cover-seal, and a pack of coloured paper, and then went to the Warehouse and bought some cheap packs of sequins and beads from their craft department, and when I got home proceeded to start turning ugly plain notebooks into beautiful hand-decorated notebooks:

I had great fun coming up with different ideas for decorating them, and I’ve still got loads more ideas for the rest of the notebooks (in fact, that’s why I was up so late last night – I had an idea to cross-stitch some little pictures onto perforated paper to glue on the front of a notebook, and (as always) what I expected to take half an hour to sew actually took a couple of hours, and it was nearly midnight before I remembered I had to get up early in the morning!). You’ll also see in the above photo the beaded notebook that started the whole idea off, plus a couple of cover-kit cards that I’ve converted into notebooks by gluing little pads of paper inside.

I think they’ve all turned out really well so far – should make a nice wee memento for everyone of the convention, and best of all, even with all the decorative bits the total cost will work out to less than 50c per notebook!

Currently reading: White Rose by Amy Ephron and Between Friends by Kathleen Rowntree (depending on my mood)

Not fair!

It’s really not fair! At work today, while thinking of things other than work (as one does), I thought it would be a cool idea to take photos of all my current embroidery works-in-progress and post them on my diary, so I could check back in a year from now and see if I’d actually got any further on any of them. I got home and dug out as many of them as I could find (there’s one that mysteriously seems to have disappeared over the last year or so – I’m sure it will turn up somewhere, but it’s not in any of the places I would expect it to be.), laid them out and took photos of them, came to DD to start uploading the pictures so I could write my diary entry, and &%^$ Hamipiks is playing up and won’t let me upload anything!

Oh well, you’ll just have to use your imagination until Hamipiks starts co-operating again.

The first picture was going to be of the knight and lady that have appeared in the last couple of diary entries, and which I’m currently actively working on. The knight now has his helmet totally filled in, plus some of his body, and the lady’s outline is complete. The pillar on the left has been mostly filled in, and there’s now most of the outline of a matching pillar on the right.

Then was going to come a parade of the projects I’ve put aside for one reason or another. I definitely will finish them all, but they’re just waiting for the right moment of inspiration to strike me:

First, a woman in a garden. She’s almost complete, apart from her hair, part of the bodice of her dress, and a large chunk of the garden behind her. She’s a very impressive design – huge, with lots of metallic threads and beads. I gave up working on her because I was getting confused following the hundreds (well, it seems like it, anyway) of different shades of green and brown in the garden, each of which seemed to only be used for one or two stitches.

Next, an advent calendar, featuring Santa in his workshop. At the moment, Santa is headless (though part of his beard is there), and about a third of his workshop is missing, as is most of the calendar part (so far, it goes up to 5). After the picture itself is complete, there’s a whole load of little toys to embroider on plastic canvas, which I’ll cut out and attach loops to so they can be hung from the days of the calendar. This is the project I was working on before I started on the knight and lady. It’s a present for my nephews, so I’ll probably work on it pretty reliably once I’ve got them (the knight and lady, not my nephews!) out the way.

Then there’s four very cute Christmas ornaments embroidered on plastic canvas, featuring kittens doing Christmassy type things. There should be six of them, but for some reason I never got the last two done (there is a small brown and red blob on the remaining plastic canvas that’s the beginnings of number 5, but you wouldn’t recognise it as a kitten yet). I can’t remember why I stopped doing them – probably because plastic canvas can be a pain to sew on.

Last is the biggest (and most incomplete) project – a massive wall-hanging (it will end up about 1m long by 50cm wide, from memory), featuring the entire alphabet done in illuminated letters. The letters are gorgeous, based mostly on letters from The Book of Kells, and are in really bright and interesting colours. Well, they will be, anyway… so far, there’s an M, and half an L. And that’s it. I know why I put that one aside: one, the piece of fabric I’m sewing on is so big it’s a pain to keep the unwanted bits out of the way (especially with cats around, shedding their hair all over everything!), plus the designs are really intricate, featuring way too many fractional stitches (and I’m not normally one to complain about fractionals – in fact, I’ll often add a few in if I think they’ll improve the design – I’m doing that with the Santa). So I put it aside for a while in favour of something simpler, and haven’t bothered yet to pick it up again…

There should be another picture, but that’s the one I can’t find. It’s a dragon, not particularly big, but seriously impressive, with loads of sparkly blending filament and beads. From memory, it was almost finished, just the part of the border to do, plus maybe a bit of background. It was put aside because the blending filament, while fabulous looking, is incredibly annoying to use, so the dragon is yet another project that gets picked up and put down again in fits and starts. I wish I knew where it was…

And of course, then there’s all the projects I’ve got sitting waiting to be started. Some of them are very tempting, but I’ve promised myself I’ll finish the current ones before I start yet another new one. (Yes, I know the knight and lady is a new project, but I’ve got an excuse with that one, because it’s for a gift :-) )

You know, reading back through my excuses for not finishing these projects, it sounds like cross-stitching is just a series of annoyances! It’s not, really, I actually really enjoy doing it, but it’s just that the big projects which I favour can take months to complete (years, in some cases), so I tend to get bored with them, and put them aside while I do something else. But then I’ll get bored with the new project, and go back to one of the old ones again. And surprisingly enough, I *do* occasionally finish projects :-)

Well, let’s hope that Hamipiks gets fixed soon, so I can upload the photos and you can compare them with my inadequate descriptions…

(What? Another entry not mentioning Bookcrossing? I must be getting slack!)

Currently reading: When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

A cat, a witch, and a sewing bee

As promised, lytteltonwitch arrived this morning armed with an overlocker and a spare sewing machine (her other overlocker wasn’t working properly, but as it turned out, the extra sewing machine was of more use anyway, because mine continued to behave erratically, so I gave up using it). We sent MrPloppy up to the bakery to pick up some lunch, while we got down to the sewing.

(Warning: stop reading now if reading about sewing totally bores you)

Here’s the “before” picture:

45 rectangles of fabric and 90 handles I’d already made up (though about half hadn’t been ironed flat yet)… we never thought we’d be able to get all the bags actually made up in a day, but we aimed to at least make a start on it.

First step was to quickly iron the rest of the handles, while lytteltonwitch set up the sewing machines. Then she overlocked the short ends (which would end up at the top of the bags) of each fabric piece, and passed them to me to fold in half and sew straight seams up the sides. Then they went back to her to have the seams trimmed and overlocked, and I trimmed off all the hanging threads. That was the easy bit done. A break for lunch, and then the fiddly work started. Lytteltonwitch was on the iron this time, folding down the top hem of the bags and passing them to me to sew the hem down, inserting the ends of the handles under the hem as I went.

The “during” picture:

Lytteltonwitch on sewing duty

We now had something actually resembling a bag, except that the handles were pointing down instead of up. Another break (for cake!) and then I took a turn on the iron, while lytteltonwitch flipped each handle up and sewed it in place (with a sort of jagged figure 8 pattern of stitching to strengthen it – a very fiddly job with much stopping and starting – I think she got the short end of the stick with that division of labour!), after which I trimmed off any remaining loose threads, turned the bag right side out, and ironed it flat. Voila, a finished bag! In fact, 45 finished bags – we managed to get them all done by 5 pm!

The “after” picture, just to prove we got them finished:

We were very impressed with ourselves, for managing to get all the bags made so quickly! We’ve still got to add the logos, of course, but that should be a pretty quick job, which we’ll leave until we know exactly how many people are coming – the iron-on transfer paper is expensive, so no point wasting it unnecessarily. Having the bags done is great, though – it’s probably the biggest job we need to do for the convention, so it’s fantastic to have it out the way.

By the time we’d cleared up the mess it was tea time, so I invited lytteltonwitch to stay and eat with us, and went and got chinese takeaways (and of course released a book there). We were surprisingly tired by the day’s activities (who would think that just sitting at a sewing machine for a few hours would be that exhausting), so lytteltonwitch headed home not long after tea, taking with her Yule Be Mine, off on the first leg of its bookring.

I did manage to make a little more progress on my embroidery this morning, before lytteltonwitch arrived:

I’ve started filling in some of the geometric pattern, just to see what it looks like. (This photo is a bit closer to the actual colours, because I managed to take it without using the flash)

Currently reading: The Biggest Modern Woman of the World by Susan Swan

Sewing bags and knights

While sewing the handles for the goody bags the other day, I realised that sewing all 40-odd bags was going to take more cotton than the one roll I’d bought. So, as MrPloppy had to go into town yesterday anyway, I asked him to pop into Ballantynes’ craft department and pick me up some more. Forgetting that he isn’t that familiar with sewing and stuff, I didn’t bother to explain to him precisely what I wanted – I just said “can you buy me some cotton to match this material” and gave him a swatch of the unbleached calico we’re making the bags with. He came home with some cotton that matched the swatch perfectly… only problem was, it was embroidery cotton – not a lot of use in a sewing machine! Oh well, serves me right for not running my own errands – and he did try!

Anyway, I decided to keep the embroidery thread – it’ll come in handy one day, I’m sure – and used the excuse of having to get some sewing cotton to go into Hands (well, it’s closer than going all the way into town… and the fact that it’s a seriously wonderful craft shop with loads of exciting things I want to buy has nothing to do with it!). Of course, once I was there, I couldn’t just buy a couple of reels of cotton… I really was quite restrained, though – I didn’t buy the $50 kit for a cat cushion in the end (it was a struggle, though!), and only bought one tiny little $15 kit for a christmas tree ornament (yes, I know it’s January!), and some fabric and floss for the sampler I’m doing for MrPloppy’s brother’s wedding.

The sampler is going to be quite different than the usual style of wedding sampler (but then, so far all the wedding samplers I’ve done have been quite different: for Mum I did an assisi-style design of two intertwined doves against a background of leaves; for my brother I did a fairy-tale prince and princess; and for Dad I did illuminated letters of his and his wife’s initials). I went through my various cross-stitch books and magazines with MrPloppy, showing him all sorts of wedding samplers (and designs that I could conceivably convert into a wedding sampler) trying to find one that he thought his brother would like. As MrPloppy doesn’t like anything cutesy or flowery (and hence refused to give his brother a wedding present that was either), that limited our choices a lot, but eventually we found a blackwork design of a knight and his lady (I think taken from a brass plate on a tomb somewhere!). I’m going to adjust the decorative border a bit to make room to add their names and the date, and do it in dark brown on a cream background (rather than the traditional black on white of proper blackwork) to make it a bit softer and more antique looking.

When I got home from Hands, I really should have done useful things like try oiling the sewing machine (thanks for the tip, Kimi!), or even finish ironing the rest of the handles I trimmed and turned the other night, but the lure of a new embroidery project was too much, so I put a DVD in the player (The commentary on The Empire Strikes Back – I find commentaries ideal for listening to while I’m sewing, because I don’t have to actually look at the screen the whole time, so I won’t miss anything if I’ve got my head down counting stitches. Audiobooks are good, too.), and got to work on it.

I haven’t done blackwork before, so it was a bit odd at first, doing the backstitch outlines before the filling in bit (which is the opposite to cross-stitch, where you normally do the blocks of colour first, and then outline them in backstitch afterwards), but I got the hang of it in the end, and by the end of The Empire Strikes Back I’d got this far:

(The colour is a bit odd, because my flash washed it out, and I couldn’t get the colour balance right when I tried to fix it in an editing programme – you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it’s dark brown on pale cream)

By that time I was getting the hang of the new technique, so I carried on, and by the end of Return of the Jedi it was here:

I’ve decided I quite like blackwork – it starts looking like a picture a lot sooner than cross-stitch does! Of course, there’s a very long way to go yet – the full picture will be about 4 times the height it is now, and then there’s all the filling in of the outlines to do (with geometric patterns), but it’s still nice to see it taking shape so quickly. Hopefully I’ll actually manage to get it done in time for MrPloppy to take it over to the UK with him in May.

Hey, a whole diary entry with almost no mention of Bookcrossing! See, I do have some other interests in my life! (And just because this is a themed diary doesn’t mean I have to *always* stick to the theme…)

Currently reading: The Biggest Modern Woman of the World by Susan Swan

Busy as a sewing bee

That’s the trouble with being back at work, not as much time to do fun stuff like writing diary entries. However, I *am* getting quite a bit of reading done – no, not at work (though it’s tempting sometimes!), but in my lunch break (I find a nice quiet spot under a tree somewhere to eat my lunch and read a book – one of the nicest things about summer!) and while I’m waiting for the bus to and from work.

Phoned Mum on Sunday, and she’s agreed to make us some bookmarks for the convention goody-bags using her new rubber-stamping/card-making skills. I’ve given her free rein with the designs, so I can’t wait to see what she comes up with! I also suggested that she come over to Brisbane with me for the BC-AUS convention (assuming of course that Brisbane wins the vote, but they’re currently way ahead, so I think it’s a safe bet). She was totally surprised by the suggestion, but I think pretty keen on the idea. She’s not a Bookcrosser (yet!), so she might not want to come to all the convention events (though judging from Sydney (and our own plans for Christchurch), most of the events will be fun for non-Bookcrossers too), but I’m sure she’ll be able to entertain herself quite adequately at those times (hey, it’s Australia – there’s shopping!), and we’ll stay on for a few days after the actual convention to see the city properly (that’s one thing I learnt from Sydney – a Bookcrossing convention keeps you so busy you don’t have time for exploring!). I’m really looking forward to this trip already – I can’t wait for them to close the voting and officially announce a date for the convention so I can start looking at flights and hotels and stuff! I did have a minor panic that I wouldn’t be able to go at all, because everyone kept saying if the convention was in Brisbane it would be in July (to avoid the heat), and mid to late July is about the worst possible time for me to take time off work. But I asked Neesy, who is likely to be on the organising committee, and she said they were actually aiming for sometime in the Queensland school holidays, which are mid June – early July, which sounds much more doable – whew! I think lytteltonwitch is planning on going too, and she mentioned something about someone else being keen to go, so looks like we might have a large Kiwi contingent at BC-AUS this year.

Lytteltonwitch and I are having a sewing bee this weekend – she’s going to bring her overlockers over on Sunday, and we’ll get the goody bags made up. I cut out the material on Monday night, and managed to get the pieces for 45 bags out of the 15m I’d bought – probably way too many, but we can always put any spares aside for some future convention, or maybe sell them to people who couldn’t make it or something. I decided to make a start on the sewing last night – I thought if I had all the handles made up in advance, that would speed things up a lot on Sunday, because the handles will be the fiddliest part to do (because they need to be trimmed and turned after they’ve been sewn, whereas the bags themselves are just straight sewing, apart from overlocking the seams to tidy them up a bit). So I ironed and folded all 90 strips of calico (ending up with burnt fingertips after handling that much hot material!), and sewed down the lengths of them to make tubes… and discovered that my trusty old sewing machine (and when I say “old”, I mean it – it used to be Mum’s, and I think she got it for a wedding present, which makes it older than I am!) is seriously on its last legs – it coped ok for the first 40-odd bags, but then the tension started going weird – super-tight for a few stitches, then too loose for the next. I thought it might just be that the bobbin wasn’t wound evenly, but I checked and it was fine, and even when that bobbin eventually ran out, and I wound a new one (making sure it was perfect!), I still had the same problems. So I think it’s just getting too old and tired to handle such a big job anymore :-( (I’d love to use this as an excuse to buy a new sewing machine, but I can’t afford a decent one at the moment, and there’s not much point getting a cheap one that would fall apart in a few years anyway). Anyway, with much struggling, I managed to get all the handles sewn, but it’s just lucky that lytteltonwitch has two overlockers, because I don’t think my poor sewing machine will be up to the rest of the bag sewing on Sunday. So the job for the next couple of nights will be to get the handles trimmed and turned (and ironed flat again).

Currently reading: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Yule be bookringed

I’ve decided to turn Yule Be Mine into a bookring. I’ve put a notice on the Bookcrossing forums, and I’ll collect up the names of anyone who wants to read the book, arrange them in some sort of vaguely sensible mailing order, then pass the book to the first person on the list. Once they’ve read it, they’ll pass it on to the next person on the list (either hand it over in person, or post it), and so on, until it eventually comes back to me. Of course, non-Bookcrossers will at this stage point out that it’s not the most efficient way of getting to read a book, but who cares? It’s fun! (simple test of whether you’d make a good bookcrosser or not: can you understand why waiting 6 months or more to get a book that several other people have read before you (and then having to pay postage to send it on to someone else) is more fun than going out and buying your own copy?). Those of you who know the author might also be thinking “Hang on, but aren’t you losing her sales by doing this? If you give people her book for free, then they won’t have to buy it.” True, but how many of those people would even have heard of her book (or her) otherwise? Getting Yule Be Mine in a bookring might mean they won’t go out and buy their own copy (though they might if they really like it!), but they will have discovered a new author, and if they like her writing, they’ll then go and buy a copy of her next book, and recommend it to their friends… viral marketing, I think it’s called in the business world.

I got an email today telling me someone had made a journal entry on a book I’d released in Kingston in August, when we were on our way down to Stewart Island with Dad and his wife (they were most amused by the idea of bookcrossing, and were having fun helping me to find good places to leave books). It got caught in September in a cafe somewhere near Christchurch, by an American who then obviously took it home with them, because it’s now been caught again, in Connecticut! The new finder is going to release it in New York, so who knows where it will end up next…

Back to work on Monday :-( so of course the weather is finally starting to improve. I should have known summer wouldn’t start until my holidays were over. Oh well, at least the bad weather has meant I’ve had more time to spend sitting at the computer sending emails to prospective convention attendees (I sent 119 PMs yesterday to NZ bookcrossers, reminding them about the convention. I keep flipping between thinking that we’re sure to get a good turnout and panicking that we won’t get enough people to cover the costs (which is silly, because we’re working on a minimum of 20, and we’re almost there already – and there’s still two months to go!)) Someone please remind me next year never to volunteer to organise a convention ever again!

Currently reading: Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles

Easter here we come…

It’s been all go on the convention front for the last couple of days – at the meetup on Tuesday night, Cathietay and her husband daveytay volunteered to help out with the convention organising, and we sat down together with lytteltonwitch and worked out a few more details. We decided to go with one of the slightly more expensive bus companies, because if you have to spend several hours on a bus, comfort is a bit more important than saving a few dollars. We also decided to include a picnic lunch in the price we charge for the bus trip – partly because it will simplify things a lot if we arrange the picnic, rather than people having to organise their own food, but also because if we end up with less people than we need to cover the cost of the bus (about 25, I think), we can just do a cheaper food option, and conversely, if we get more people than that, we can go a bit more upmarket with the food (Cathietay summed it up as “we can do cheddar, or we can do brie”). We also decided to set prices now for the registration evening and the dinner, and work within those limits (we’re going for “cheap and cheerful” for both – the Sydney convention dinner was just pizzas in an old church hall, and was just as enjoyable as a fancy catered meal would have been). So, we ended up with a pretty firm programme, with several free events, and three paid events: the registration evening ($15, which includes a “goody bag”), the dinner ($25), and the bus trip ($35). For people who register early, we’re going to reduce the price by $5 on each of those (we’ve worked it out so that even if everyone registers early and gets the special price, we should still cover our costs, and any extra money we get from late registrations will go towards things like prizes). So, things are coming together nicely.

The meetup was a success, too – as well as Cathietay, daveytay, lytteltonwitch and I, there were a couple of newbies: pin-guino, who brought a friend along with her; and 107steps, who had caught a book a few days ago, and was very excited about the concept of Bookcrossing. Nice to see some new faces (not that there’s anything wrong with the old faces, of course!) – now let’s hope we didn’t scare them off, and they come back next month! The table was positively groaning with books – I passed on The Return of the Time Machine by Egon Friedell; Dreaming Down Under ed. by Jack Dann and Janeen Webb; Shadows by Shaun Hutson; An Unofficial Rose by Iris Murdoch; Finding Mr. Write by Beverley East; More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon;The Orchard Thieves by Elizabeth Jolley; and The Cartoon Connection by William Hewison, and picked up Carolan’s Concerto by Caiseal Mor, and When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. After the meetup, I released the rest of the books I’d brought along into the wild: Wild Animus by Rich Shapero; The Borrowers by Mary Norton; Shards of Alderaan by Kevin J. Anderson; The Adventurous Four by Enid Blyton; and A Horse of Her Own by Selma Hudnut. That reduced the to-be-released pile a bit!

I spent most of yesterday emailing people: sending registration forms out to people who’d already expressed interest in the convention, answering questions, asking questions of the bus company and restaurants… and I haven’t even started on the really big job, of PMing all the active NZ members reminding them that the convention is coming up and telling them how to get a registration form. That will take ages, because the way the PM system is set up, you can only PM one person at a time (which is great for stopping spam, but frustrating when you have a genuine reason to want to send multiple PMs!), but I’m getting pretty good at cutting and pasting messages…

Today’s contribution to the convention was a minor one – we had to go into town to pick up the new computer (which has finally been repaired, yayyy!!!!), and passed a cheap fabric shop on the way, so I bought 15m of calico. Over the next couple of months, I’ll convert that into about 40 book bags (which are really simple to make – there’s only about 5 seams to sew), which lytteltonwitch is going to print iron-on NZBC logos for – perfect goody bags for the convention! (We stole the idea from the Australians, of course, but good ideas are worth stealing!) And at about $1.50 a bag (including the logo), they’re almost as cheap as the boring plastic wallets you always get at conventions, and a lot more useful (especially to bookcrossers, who can never have too many bookbags!)

There was an exciting parcel in my letterbox this morning: a book I’d ordered from lulu.com. This book is particularly exciting, because it’s Yule Be Mine by Charlene Teglia, a friend from a forum I visit quite often – it’s a romance, so not at all my usual choice of reading material, but judging from her forum posts, she writes well and has a great sense of humour, so I’m expecting it to be a cut above the usual Mills & Boons-style writing of the genre. If it’s as good as I expect it to be, I’m going to send it around on a bookring – a lot of bookcrossers do like reading romances, so she might get a few fans out of it (who’ll hopefully then buy her next book!).

Currently reading: Walking Through Tigerland by Barry Oakley

Convention Planning

Lytteltonwitch came round on Sunday to pick up her jacket (which she’d left behind on Christmas Eve), and while chatting, we realised how much work there still is to do planning the convention, and how fast Easter is approaching. So we set ourselves some deadlines: we’re going to try and get everything costed out by the end of January, so that we can ask people to formally register and get some definite numbers (the only definites we know about so far are the Australian contingent, who have all booked their flights and motels already!). Lytteltonwitch is in charge of trying to find caterers for the dinner, and I’m taking charge of the day trip arrangements. I was starting to worry that a day trip would be too expensive, but I spent yesterday morning contacting bus companies, and I’ve got quotes ranging between $400 – $700 for the possible destinations we were thinking of (I won’t say here where we’re going, because we haven’t decided yet whether to keep it as a “mystery tour” or not, and I’d hate any of the convention attendees to stumble across my diary and have the surprise spoilt), so if we can get 20-30 people to sign up for the trip, we should be able to keep the cost around $20 per head (and maybe give a discount for family groups). I’m not sure what people will be prepared to pay, though – personally, I wouldn’t find $20 too much of a hardship, but for poor students like rarsberry who will be on a strict budget, it might be too much. If we took the $400 option, then we could make it a lot cheaper, but that company just use ordinary city buses for their charters, while the others use proper coaches, and I know from experience that travelling long distance on a city bus is very uncomfortable (especially for anyone who suffers from motion sickness!), so we might want to balance out cost against comfort. Anyway, we’ve got a meetup tonight, so I’ll take the quotes along and see what everyone thinks about the options.

I also spent some time yesterday PMing new members about the meetup, and had a few positive responses, so we might actually get a decent turnout tonight (which reminds me – I haven’t booked us a table yet! We’ve got so used to having a small turnout that we haven’t been bothering to book, but I’d better actually ring the restaurant and make sure they set up a big table for us this time)


Currently reading: The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun