Monday, June 20, 2011

Leanna's Top Ten NYC Tourism Tips

I was called upon by my lovely home-state friends, the Central Ohio Fiction Writers, to put on my tour-guide hat (I used to work as a NYC tour guide) and write up a list of tips for their newsletter as there shall be thousands descending upon New York City next week for the Romance Writers of America annual conference. I thought it might be a good idea if I were to post it here too.
So, dear visitors, here are a few thoughts from a now native New Yorker. Leanna's top ten affordable musts in NYC:
(In no particular order - note how very few of these adventures cost money)

1. Leanna votes Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center over Empire State Building. -- What's the most impressive building on the whole skyline? The Empire State Building. You can't SEE it if you are IN it. Besides there are a lot of unnecessary distractions with the Empire State ticket. Top of the Rock is simple and efficient, tickets are timed entry for crowd control, it's glass versus the steel cage of Empire, Top of the Rock is all around a better view and experience.

2. A trip to Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty. You don't have to go to Liberty Island to appreciate Lady Liberty on the waterfront, Battery Park is a lovely park with nice views, places to stroll and street vendors. If you're short on time, avoid the lines and just wave to Lady Liberty from shore.

3. Ethnic food. Whatever your pleasure, NYC has it, and then some. Don't get stuck eating at chains that you can find everywhere, whether its Little Italy or Little India, there's something unique for everyone. everywhere in the city. If you are stuck in the Times Square area; GET OUT OF TIMES SQUARE. For the Love of God don't eat at Olive Garden, you can do that anywhere! Just head 2 Avenues west, to 9th Avenue for myriad affordable and yummy cuisine!

4. Grand Central Station, 42nd and Lexington Avenue. Just go and take in the interior vista. The Information kiosk alone sports a priceless opal-faced clock. Just walk through, you won't regret it. It's one of the most grand and impressive buildings in the city. Enjoy the beautiful astrological ceiling and incredible arches. Wonderful restaurants there too.

5. Central Park - it's safe, it's beautiful, it's the most important and beloved asset to the city. It's 843 acres of pure man-made natural magic. There's tons of stuff to do inside. The Central Park zoo is adorable and fun, the Conservatory Gardens are gorgeous, be sure to stroll the Bethesda Terrace, perhaps rent a rowboat over the boat pond! You can eat at The Boathouse, it has two restaurants, a pricy nice side and a cheaper other side, perfect options for every mood and budget.

6. The TKTS booth. Want to see a Broadway show? The TKTS booth right in the heart of Times Square is the way to do it for the best seats if you've time to wait in line, BUT, also be sure to check in in person with the theatre box offices of shows you're interested in directly to see if they've rush ticket or ticket lottery options. Each theatre runs this a little differently. There are more ticket options directly through the theatre box offices, in person, than there are solely at TKTS.

7. Downtown stroll: A walk around City Hall Park. NYC's City Hall is a gorgeous building from the early 1800s, and City Hall park is a gas-lit charming space. Gorgeous architecture surrounds City Hall Park, see the unparallelled Woolworth Building (A Gothic styled skyscraper that was the tallest building in the world in 1913) and please visit St. Paul's Chapel, which was the makeshift HQ for rescue workers during 9/11, it has an amazing memorial there and as the chapel is one of the oldest buildings still standing in the city, it has amazing, spectacular history. George Washington prayed there after his inauguration in the city as our first president.

8. South Street Seaport. A fun area of history, museums, shops, cobblestone streets, restaurants with a lovely view of the East River. While you're in the area go up into the financial district just a little bit and try Stone Street for a little downtown glimpse of historic NYC (great bars and restaurants).

9. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. This iconic bridge, the most beautiful in all of New York, (and I think the world) will provide you a stunning, breathtaking view of the Manhattan Skyline as you interact with one of the world's great wonders of engineering, completed in 1883 this massive suspension bridge was the tallest man-made structure in the world when it was completed.

10. Saint Patrick's Cathedral and Saint John the Divine Cathedral. Whether you're in midtown (St. Patrick's) or up by Columbia University campus (St. John) you must at least visit one of these stone wonders of Gothic architecture, they are truly breathtaking buildings and also integral to the history of NYC.
I've been having a blast diving in to New York City's amazing history as I continue research for my new series of Gothic Victorian Paranormal tales, set in the city that never sleeps, in 1880 (didn't sleep much then either). DARKER STILL: a Novel of Magic Most Foul, releases 11/11 from Sourcebooks Fire. The characters spend a great deal of time within the first edition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - another place I highly recommend you visit. (It's suggested donation, so pay whatever suits you.)

In closing: New York City is the safest big city in the country. Be alert, but don't be scared. It's a city to be utterly treasured. See you in my adopted hometown I love so much!

(And see you on June 27th for a very special Lady Jane's Salon where I'll be reading from and signing Strangely Beautiful #3, THE PERILOUS PROPHECY OF GUARD AND GODDESS! Admission is $5 or one gently used romance novel, all proceeds to charity)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Steampunk World's Fair, BEA and Marcon

That's right... three major events in three different states in one week... Whew! EVENT #1 WITHIN THE WEEK... SPWF, New Jersey...
First off, Steampunk World's Fair, the biggest Steampunk convention on the East Coast! I knew from my attendence last year that I could expect incredible musical guests, literary guests, vendors, and that the fashion would not disappoint. (And that I'd get to hang out with a bunch of fabulous friends. Thanks Babs at Event-ography for the picture!) All held true again this year. I was thrilled to return to the Library of Lost Literature thanks to the delight that is Stephen Segal and Quirk Books, to read from Perilous Prophecy and offer up a teaser for Darker Still, a Novel of Magic Most Foul!

There was a big author signing- very exciting, please see KatieBabs' fab rundown of the event- and there was even a pro-labor flash mob!

Earlier this year, at the Steampunk Industrial Revolution, author Miriam Rocek and I were discussing the historical and present importance of key female labor union activists. From there was born a 'hey we should do a labor rally' idea and Miriam really ran with it, gathering a talented group of folks to not only rush through the con on Saturday with signs and flyers (Thank you Painless Parker) in a flash-mob, but then on Sunday to an assembled crowd, speakers discussed historical figures and precedents in the Union struggle born of the 19th century. As a member of all three performers' unions; Actors Equity, Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, I certainly feel passionate about the role of Unions past and present. I spoke on Clara Lemlich and the Uprising of the 20,000 to offer a bit of historical context to labor battles we still fight today. Monique Poirer and Pablo Miguel Alberto Vazquez spoke brilliantly on the fluidity of class in Steampunk as an opportunity for dialogue, the progressive side of Steampunk, Painless Parker led us in Solidarity Forever, Ay-leen the Peacemaker taught us about the sugar cane strikes and Eli August wrote a gorgeous song inspired by the Cripple Creek Miner's Strike. A look to the past, a mirror to the present, with anti-union bills either passed or pending in many states in the country today, a huge battle rages within our borders and between the classes. Steampunk isn't just about playing dress-up. Frankly, it shouldn't be. Not that I don't love the dressing up, oh, you know I do. But I want more than just pretty things at my events; I want intellectual discourse and for the world to be a better place than it was in the 19th century and than it is now. Our panel on Envisioning a Better Steam Society certainly addressed that desire and many hard-hitting issues on the grounds of gender, class and race. Led fluidly and always capably by the amazing Ay-Leen and Jaymee Goh of Silver Goggles, I've either attended or been a part of many of these panels and each time I learn more and more and come away with a greater appreciation of the complexity and diverse viewpoints of these core issues- ever deepening and always important.
One day to change out the regalia and don my business gear for three days with the Publishing Industry during BEA; Book Expo America. I held court at both the Sourcebooks and the Dorchester booth, as well as a stint at the Romance Writers of America booth, where my books went quickly into excited hands- I was certainly excited to sign them too! It was a thrilling few days, with lots of great meetings and a ton of very special encounters. The great thing about BEA is it encourages a ton of bloggers to come in for the event and I met SO MANY wonderful familiar faces in the blog-o-sphere that I'd yet to meet in person. My Twitter feed was very active with excitement and familiar bloggers got lots of hugs. :) I am PSYCHED to report that the 100 Advanced Reader Copies of Darker Still, a Novel of Magic Most Foul were in high demand and were gone in under 20 minutes during my signing. Thanks EVERYONE who contributed to the buzz- I feel very blessed to be at Sourcebooks with this series. I can't wait to share it with you in November. Thanks so much to the many bloggers who I can call friends who have helped get the word out and have shown keen and enthusiastic interest in this book! I've been really thrilled with the many "Waiting on Wednesday" memes that have featured Darker Still so far - thanks, blogger buddies, you make the sun rise in my sky! :)

And then it was off on a long drive with Stella Price and her awesome fiance, a delightful road-trip to MarCon in Columbus, OH. A hometown run is always nice, and it's far better with fun company. I was thrilled to meet the fun and engaging members of the Airship Archon, they were AWESOME co-panelists with me on topics like Victorian 101 and Steampunk/Neo-Victorianism - how it is and isn't like the 19th century, and I look forward to keeping in touch with them and with more of the Ohio Steampunk and Neo-Victorian community.
Oh, and by the way - I'm A Literary Guest of Honour for the Steampunk Empire Symposium in Cincinnati next year! Huzzah! Very, very excited and honoured. -- So, MarCon provided some time with family and friends from long ago, which was a very nice touch to my maddening week.
Truly, I'm exhausted- but in the good way. I'm out talking passionately about spooky paranormal topics, history and ideas, culture and society, topics big and small throughout geekdom and all with the honour of presenting my own professional work along the way- what could be better than that? Well... writing the next book. And that, I have to do. I'll have a few posts here and there, but it'll be a quiet summer here on the blog and on my various social medias as I attempt to turn in my next two books on time; the last Strangely Beautiful novel and the next in the Magic Most Foul series, and the deadlines close in. So much to do... so little time...
For Sony eReader customers! The Strangely Beautiful saga has been bundled in a special deal until June 6th only! Bundle includes books 1-3 in the Strangely Beautiful saga, as well as "A Christmas Carroll" novella (Strangely Beautiful 2.5)! Order Here...
All right - now, truly, off to work! Cheers and blessings!