Tuesday, November 22, 2011


You know those times when you get so SO FAR BEHIND on your blog and you think you'll never catch up but you know you have to catch up because it'd be weird to just pick up mid-stream and not include a complete synopsis of everything that happened while you weren't posting?

I'm kind of there right now.

Lemme e'splain.

No, no. There is too much.

Lemme sum up.

And since I can barely remember my own name right now, I'll sum up by going through the pictures I took with my phone during our book tour over the past month. Which should prove...interesting.

Ok. So. The morning we left I decided I needed a picture of my cats to keep me company. I made sure to catch them at their snuggliest, too...


...aaaand then I turned the flash off:

Much better.

Driving north was beautiful - lots of trees were still changing color:

The antenna on the dash was my mobile internet booster antenna. Surfing the 'net in the car? It's like living in the future! Although the more we drove, the less I wanted to be online. Instead we listened to audio books (reviews coming) and I worked on my Portal cross stitch patterns.

There was a time when I thought being on the road for a book tour was all glamorous and stuff. That idea was dispelled pretty quickly on our previous tours, but just to make sure it never sneaks back up on me I'll always have this reminder:

This is a swaddled up A/C unit in one of our hotels - I don't remember which. It made a loud clicking/thumping noise. All. Night. Long. Trying to muffle the sound with bedsheets seemed like a good idea at the time. (That time being around 3:30 AM.)

Speaking of hotel trouble, our very first hotel of the tour shared a wall with the kitchen, and at 4AM they started dumping buckets of silverware into the metal sinks. Since we were *just* going to bed at 4AM, this was Not Good. Our *second* hotel room that night (yep, we packed up & changed rooms) had an overpowering stench of mildew, but it was the last room left, so by morning we were both hacking up a lung and I was begging John to drive me home.

"It's a bad omen!" I yelled blearily into my pillow. "God doesn't want us out of Florida! If we turn back now we can be home by tonight!!"

Somehow we persevered, though, and things got much better after that. The shows actually rejuvenated me; meeting so many awesome people made all the hassle and sleep-deprivation worthwhile.

This is one of the cake toppers I tried to save, but his legs fell off. Then, a few seconds after I took this photo, his head fell off. Again. Followed by his torso. Finally I gave up and just left a grisly tableau for the maid to find.

More driving:

Mountains *and* snow? We are sooo not in Florida anymore...

I wasn't all that nervous for any of our shows, but seeing this outside the mall in Richmond made my palms a bit sweaty:

It's just so...official looking, you know?

(I'm not including any show photos here, btw, but if you're interested you can see them all on the Cake Wrecks Facebook page.)

More driving:

It looks like the world is on fire, but that's actually a sunset. Wild, right?

In Boston we saw our first snowfall, and it was SOOO COLD. And then we went farther north. Because we're crazy.

Speaking of crazy, Ottawa was crazy beautiful, and we instantly fell in love. All the buildings were dripping with ornate stonework and scrolled gateways and a clock tower straight out of Peter Pan:


We were staying in a hotel which I just kept calling "The Castle," because it looks like one - and everyone always knew exactly which one I meant:

(Picture found here - because I forgot to take one!)

Because neither of us had ever been to Canada, John arranged for us to have our one-and-only day off in Ottawa. Most of the day was spent working in the hotel room, unfortunately, but we did get out in the evening to walk around and gawk and eat:

Did I mention the eating? The eating of the beaver tails and the poutine?

MMMMMM yeah. That was the stuff.

We also had an Obama cookie:

So called because he apparently stopped in this bakery once. (The cookie itself is just a maple leaf shape.)

And then there was this situation:


No lie: we stocked up a huge take-out box of pastries - AFTER having our third poutine in three days - and THEN stopped to get two more beaver tails on the way back to the hotel.


[wistful sigh]

Moving on, I was thrilled that our schedule had us arriving in Toronto on Halloween night, because they were showing Ghostbusters in one of the theaters there. A really COOL theater:

Why yes, that IS a Klingon Bird of Prey & Starship Enterprise hanging from the lobby ceiling.

I took that photo while traveling down this escalator:

It makes me dizzy just looking at this thing. I had to hang on for dear life and look straight ahead to keep from over-balancing and pinwheeling my arms around like an old Goofy instructional video. ("Here the professional business-goer gracefully assumes the traveling position." "WWWAAA-HOO-OOOEEE!!)

Another thing Canada does better? McDonalds:

Seriously. This is a McDonalds, guys. It had TWO FIREPLACES. With armchairs. And everything was orange, which might have a teensy-tiny bit to do with why I loved it so much. Maybe.

Speaking of all that fast food:

Yeah. That happened.

(Hey, it's a warrior's drink, ok?)

In Chicago we had this sweet surprise:

It's Katie!! (With a bonus tuxedo-kid-photo-bomb!)

Both she and her mom Carrie were there, and introduced themselves after the show. For some reason I was ridiculously delighted to learn that Carrie is a fellow shortie, and we all shared lots of hugs and squeals and not nearly enough time together. I got to sign Katie's book of all your comments, which you can see has lots of page-holders where they've marked out their favorites. I think some of them will be included in the anti-bullying book Carrie is writing!

Again, I'm leaving out most of the actual show details, but I also have to mention this:

This card represents the first - and so far, the only - signing encounter I've had that made me cry. I think I might have embarrassed Laura - and I do hope she doesn't mind my sharing her note here.

I just don't deserve readers this awesome.

Ok, before I start bawling again...look! St. Louis!

Our hotel was right next to the famous arch, although I thought the view on the other side was even prettier:

When we weren't sitting in the car, we were sitting in restaurants. Where John would play with his new wedding ring:

(Yes, it's really rainbow colored, just like our other pair.)

He'd take the ring off and spin it on the table top, and then we'd both take pictures & video with our phones:

We looked like complete dorks, yelling, "Ooh, good one!" and "spin it this way so I can get a better shot!" We're, um, easily amused. Obviously.

Everyone keeps asking about the driving vs flying thing, but I have to say - even after 6,000 miles and over 150 hours in the car - I'll take it over flying any day. It's less stress, more control, PLUS when you're driving through Oklahoma and see something like this...

You can stop for an impromptu museum visit!

More pics of that coming soon, too.

Oh, and I should mention that John actually did all the driving; I was just the passenger. Which probably had something to do with why I liked it so much. ;)

For our final stop in Austin we went to the famous Toy Joy before even checking in to the hotel. It's a quirky local toy store packed with lots of vintage kitsch and just plain odd paraphernalia.

There I bought what might possibly be the most disturbing keychain of all time:

The belly pops out, too, in case you want to play catch with a floating embryo ball.

Like I said: disturbing.

In a kind of awesome way.

I bought it because it reminded me of this clear gelatin belly cake we use in our slideshow:

...but now it's just sitting here on my desk with the baby face all magnified from the liquid and it's just staring at me all 2001-like and frankly I'm started to get the willies. [shiver]

And now, my friends, you are all caught up. Mostly. Tonight John and I do our very last "Winter Underlined" show here in Orlando, and then it's back to "normal!" Since I've already started about half a dozen new projects in the past two days, you can bet I'll be posting more soon.

Thanks again for bearing with me!

Oh, and we found a nice big bundle of Epbot pin requests at the post office - too many for our poor little box to hold. The postal workers were pretty confused, too.

"So, are you Epbot, Cake Wrecks, Jen Yates, or 'Her Supreme Snarky Geekiness?'"

"All of the above, ma'am. All of the above."

Anyway, those should start going out this week, so if you sent an envelope in you can expect your pin soon. (Or don't expect it, and just be pleasantly surprised!)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Steam 11/13/11

Mo Rocca did a nice segment on the Steampunk World's Fair recently for CBS news. You can read the article here, or just watch this:

(Thanks to Jennifer F. for the link!)

I also highly recommend checking out Professor Elemental, the steampunk rapper Mo interviewed. I think his most popular song is Splendid, but since I couldn't find a video for it here's Cup of Brown Joy instead, which is equally hilarious:

This is why I love the Internet.

Meanwhile, the fabulous steampunk outfits keep showing up here on the CW tour:

This is Liam, my new favorite 13-year-old. He put together this outfit just for our show, made his goggles using our tutorial, and plans to make a raygun next. He was also extremely well-spoken, intelligent, polite, and ridiculously delighted to receive an Epbot pin. Mark my words: this gentleman is going places!

Oh, and remember my friend Christie - the one with the amazing Soulfire costume? Well, she made me the most amazing hand-painted ACEO before we left on the tour:

A steampunk seahorse! AAIEEEE!!!

Even better? I just *happened* to have this sweet frame waiting around for the right steampunk-ish art card:

A perfect fit!

The frame cost a whopping $7 at Big Lots, and has a cheesy flower painting in it right now. I'll replace it with Christie's seahorse, which is only sitting on top of the frame in the photo.

(ACEOs are miniature art cards that measure 2.5 X 3.5 inches, btw. They're a great way to break into collecting original art, because they're usually so affordable.)

If you like Christie's art style as much as I do, you might be interested to know that her ACEO prints are only $3, and her originals are $10, if you're fast enough to snap them up. She's just starting out, so take a look at her facebook page here or go see all her work on DeviantArt here.

And finally, a few steamy sparklies I've been drooling over here in the hotel room:

$52 from the always-amazing Bionic Unicorn

$37 from Bella Lili

(Hey, it doesn't need gears to be steampunk; Victorian sparklies work, too!)

Only three more shows to go, and then we're home again and I can start catching up on all the posting and crafts I've been planning. Thanks for your continued patience, everyone!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I'm Stiiiilll Heeeerrree

And now I have that song stuck in my head.

Ok, so, I've always hated it when bloggers update just to say they're sorry for not updating, but after a few prods on FB and via e-mail I've decided to do a quick check-in check list. Here we go:

1. Yes, John and I are still alive.

2. Astoundingly, we're also still healthy. Our ER-free streak is going strong! Woot!

3. I'm writing this in...uh.. [John, where are we?] ...Chicago. Tomorrow we do show 11 of 17, so we're technically on the home stretch. Fist bumps all 'round!

Vaguely Related Aside: We asked the publisher to book us in Hyatt Places whenever possible, because we like the layouts of the rooms & they're usually nice places to stay. (We've had 2 exceptions so far, which I would describe as "olfactory assaults," but only because that sounds nicer than "bogs of eternal stench drowned in Febreeze.")

We also like the continuity, because every Hyatt Place is pretty much exactly the same, right down to the decorative throw pillow on the couch. However, when you get out of bed, stagger to the car, drive eight hours, and then trudge through an identical hallway to take an identical elevator to get to yet another identical room, it can really start messing with your head. The only thing worse is when it's the same room in a mirror-image layout on the opposite side of the hall. (Btw, sudden-onset facial tics aren't permanent, are they?)

Where was I?

Oh, right. Chicago.

4. CW & Epbot fans are the coolest people on Earth.

5. But you already knew that.

6. Saying that you're addicted to Beaver Tails and Poutine while in the U.S. sounds really dirty.

7. So I highly recommend it.

8. I also highly recommend Beaver Tails and Poutine. (Thanks, Canada.)

9. I currently have no posts written for CW, which is why I haven't had time to write more here.

10. See how I slipped that excuse in after something funny? So you wouldn't even notice?

11. Brae in Canada brought us Kinder Eggs, a kind of candy that's banned in the U.S. because it's a chocolate egg with a little toy inside. Thereby convincing me that Canada gets ALL the nice things. (We ate ours on the way to the border, so no, we're not felons.)

12. I've had a few people come to the shows in steampunk costumes:


13. The ladies are SO crushing on John, and John is SO oblivious. It's adorable, but you can bet I'm not letting him out of my sight any time soon. (One woman's mother let slip something like, "She doesn't want cake, she wants JOHN!" while they were at the signing table, and then both the lady AND John blushed and stared at the floor and laughed awkwardly. Like I said: adorable.)

14. Oh! Oh! We saw Ghostbusters on the big screen in Toronto for Halloween night! And it was AWESOME.

Some of you might remember that I've had to avoid movie theaters for some time due to anxiety problems, but I was determined to risk it for my love of the 'busters. The last movie I saw in a theater was the re-release of Back to the Future last year, and I barely made it through even with meds that made me all dopey. This time, however, I made it med-free and with only minimal discomfort. That is HUGE for me, and I credit true love. And earplugs. But mostly true love.

15. Speaking of love, I miss my cat Lily. John's cat Tonks, not so much. [wicked grin]

Another Vaguely Related Aside: There was a friendly stray outside the restaurant in Ohio where we had dinner, so John and I stood for ten minutes in the freezing night air making fools of ourselves baby-talking to it. People walking by gave us really wide berths. Like it's weird for two grown adults to be all "who's a boopsy widdle wover?!" ing to a stray cat outside at night in front of a nice Italian restaurant. Sheesh.

16. I really should be writing a post for Cake Wrecks.

17. I've been brain-storming ideas for steampunk Christmas ornaments instead.

18. I miss my Dremel.

19. I collected a few more smashed pennies!

20. It's 11:30PM, and John just brought me donuts.

21. I can't type and eat donuts at the same times, so....

BYE! See some of you soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steam Kids

I'm meeting so many of you while out on the CW tour, and I've had several extreme geek-outs when I realize just who I'm talking to!

Case in point: last night in Philly I got to meet Ginny, who recently sent me an email about her kids. They wanted to be "steampunks" for Halloween this year after seeing all my Dragon*Con photos. So, Ginny put together these *amazing* costumes for her 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son:


What's more, Ginny used my DIY steampunk gauge tutorial for both of their costumes!

Seriously, how cool is this jetpack?!

And prepare to swoon over this dashing gentleman:

So. Cool. (His gauges are on his arm bracer.)

I got to meet both kids tonight as well, though sadly they didn't come in costume. Heh. Ginny tells me she cobbled together their costumes from things around the house, thrift-store finds, and a few ebay purchases. Talk about resourceful!

And speaking of Steam celebrities, in Richmond I got to meet the steampunk Mickey ears couple - and they wore their ears! And - AND! - THEY MADE ME MY OWN PAIR OF STEAMPUNK EARS!


The goggles are tinted green. Sorry for the less-than-ideal cellphone pic; I'm too impatient to wait for better light here in the hotel room.

The ears are translucent, so you can see the front medallion from the back, and each gear is hand-stitched on. Ah-mazing. (Thanks again, Christina & Christina's hubby!)

I am getting so spoiled, guys. For realz. 'Course, most of our other gifts have been scented hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes, but still. (I'm so not kidding. And it's hilarious.)

Along that vein, I'm happy to report that John and I have remained bug-free so far, and it honestly feels like every show is even better than the last. All of the store employees keep telling us what an amazing group of people our readers are, and we can only agree. It's like a giant family reunion, minus the grumpy in-laws: nothing but laughs and warm welcomes and comparing geeky t-shirts. If it weren't for the actual *travel* part, I'd want to do this all the time.

More updates to come!