Leeds Author Event 2016

Have you ever been told about a party in an off-hand way? Such as “hey this should be fun”. And you think that does sound like fun. And then you think – it’s too bad you can’t go. That’s the way I felt when I first heard about the Leeds’ Author Event. It sounded like it would be fun – so many authors all in one place and then a masquerade ball. All for a good benefit too. But, come on! I live in America and Leeds is across the pond. There’s no way I can go. So I wrote it off.

Then I heard a few more things and saw the list of authors. Some of whom I am friends with on Facebook. And again I thought – wow that would be fun for sure. But again – I live in America! There is no way I could actually go. Then one cold Saturday morning in January I got a little curious and started checking things out. An hour later I had a plan in place to get there. And then it wasn’t a question anymore about going to Leeds. It was now a fact.

I worked all day on Thursday March 3rd, jumped on a plane and the following morning touched down in Manchester – during a snow storm. About two hours later I arrived in Leeds and after checking in went to visit to the Royal Armory. Since I was leaving early on Sunday morning I decided to arrange for my taxi back to the airport.

My first realization that I was in for a special weekend was when I saw two young ladies approach me smiling. The dark haired girl said “are you David E. Gordon? The American author?” and smiling I nodded as a glimmer of recognition edged it’s way into my mind. Without warning the blonde girl jumped at me and wrapped me in a big hug and said “It’s me Georgiana!” Well – I don’t know a Georgiana, so I just smiled. Realization set in and I was hugging Francesca Marlow. Of course, it took about 20 minutes before I realized – with a little help – that the other woman was Victoria L. James.

We made our way into the hotel bar and met several more attendees – authors, bloggers, and writers. But, I nervously awaited the arrival of someone I thought I would never actually meet. Claire Allmendinger is my editor and without her I likely would not be a published author. I had an idea of when they were supposed to arrive so I headed out to the lobby on a whim. I looked through the crowd of people checking in and there she was – Claire. We hugged for a long moment – neither of us believing this would ever happen.

I spent the rest of the night meeting more authors and friends from Facebook like Lisa Fulham, Eleanor Lloyd-Jones, Cameron Lincoln, and so many more. We had a great time as we talked, laughed, drank, and even found a way to have dinner. Even if the first two places didn’t work out – at least I got to see Leeds from the ground up. Whether we drank the wine or splashed it on Lisa we still had a lot of fun and went to bed way too late.

Saturday was really cool for me as I had never been to an author signing. Especially one with about 30 or 40 authors. It was so cool to see the effort these people went to for the signing. With banners and swag all over it was hard to imagine all of their hard work. I have written two books of my own and taken part in two compilations. I carried both compilations with me so that I could get as many signatures as possible on my copies. I was also quite pleased to sign copies for my fellow authors who had their copies.

If the day was special, the evening was even more special with a masquerade ball to benefit the Mind charity. The hostesses Jo and Rachel from Hourglass Events did an amazing job with the event. The music was fun and it didn’t stop until very late in the night. It took awhile for me to get on the floor also, but once I saw “the worm” in person I just had to dance. There were give-aways, good food, and quite a few drinks consumed. When I finally went to bed that night I slept well and dreamt of what an amazing trip this had been.

There are a lot of lessons I could take away from this trip. About an author signing event, about how a well planned event is run, and about the hard work that an author always has to go through. The job doesn’t end when you type “the end” in fact some would say that is when the job actually starts.

But, what I will always take away from this trip is the adventure. The next time there is an opportunity to go somewhere or do something I haven’t done, my response won’t be “no I can’t”. Instead, I will start by saying I can – and then find out if I can’t. Too often in life we spend more time saying “I can’t” and not enough time saying “why not”. And if you have the passion to do something, to experience something then do it and experience it.IMG_3639

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Life keeps moving

I have been thinking lately about writing a blog post and the theme that keeps coming to mind is “life goes on”. Today on September 11th for a lot of people it didn’t. And I am also sure that for a lot of people that day it felt like life couldn’t go on. But it does. 

As I look out at the dark skies I am reflecting on my life and this idea that “life goes on”. It sure does. Some days it feels like time is flying by and before we know it anything week, month, and year have passed us by. I saw a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that said “you are never too old nor too young to start”. 

I consider myself a perfect example of that. A little more than ten years someone fabulous came into my life and taught about all of the fun things in life and traveling.  I never had the time or inclination to travel. Now we travel so much I do feel like a gypsy. It doesn’t matter where we go, but that we are going. And together we can have a good time. 

A few years ago I was bored and started to write. With some starts and stops I did something amazing a year ago and published my first novel. Then a few months ago I published my second. And I am now working on my third. And I enjoy telling the story of my characters. 

Life doesn’t always give us what we want. Sometimes it gives us what we need. There are hundreds of quotes or “words to live by”. I think the simplest thing is to remember that life will keep moving forward. We just have to be willing to enjoy the life we have. And to have the strength and courage to try something new. 

I think it’s better to say “I tried” than to say “I can’t”. Smile every morning because today is another day and there will be another reason to smile. Share that smile with a stranger. Say “good morning” or have a good day to someone. Two small words can make a difference in someone’s life that we will never imagine. 

But mostly – just have a great day. One day added on to the day before and added on to tomorrow can make for a great week. And now before you know it, it’s been a great month and a great year. 

This is me smiling and wishing you a “good day”!! 

   

Traveling to Scotland – Part II

The following day we drove from a small seaside town named Nairn – with a Gordon Street – to the Culloden Battlefield. For those of you that watch Outlander, it is a real place. And quite amazing to see in person. It is a wide open field full of marsh and bog lands. There are the markers everywhere for the various clans. And of course the large memorial for those that died that day. The sense of history throughout the country is just amazing, but this really hits it out of the park. Simple yet strong in it’s silence.

  
From Culloden we drove through the beautiful countryside to Loch Ness. My wife is a believer and I wanted to share in her excitement for it. It was breathtakingly beautiful all around and the history and scientific research was rather amazing. My wife even got a copy of one of the books signed by the author who just happened to be there. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to cruise the lake, which is huge to say the least. If I was a Loch Ness Monster I couldn’t think of a better place to live out my days.

From there we rode the train – we both agreed that was enough driving – to Stirling where we visited Castle Doune and castle Stirling. Again, for your Outlander fans Castle Doune is quite amazing to see first hand. It is not large by any stretch of the imagination. But, you can just feel the history and imagine how the clans and their people must have lived in the 1700’s and well before. It was a foggy morning so we were not able to visit the William Wallace memorial, but by the time we were ready to leave the city the fog had cleared so we could see it. Castle Stirling was another example of the history of this country and how the lairds didn’t rule, but took care of everyone like they were family.

Our last two days were spent in Edinburgh and it was an amazing way to end the trip. Seeing this large city, and yet still feeling like we were in a small town at times. The new pubs, and expensive shops surrounding the Castle on the Hill. Once again, we can see how the castle wasn’t just for a laird but it was a huge part of the city. We were lucky to be there for the daily 1pm cannon firing and even that gave us a sense of history. Not that the cobblestones, small stone buildings, or tiny little chapel didn’t lend to the history. It was amazing to walk through these buildings and see the city from the top of the hill.

  
I started off thinking this was going to be a nice vacation. A good time for us to get away for a few days and enjoys the time away from work. But, it turned out to be an incredibly special trip. For example, finding a small Writer’s Museum. The Balmoral was quite the hotel and the bar had over 400 varieties of scotch. Of which the barman helped you find one by learning what you normally drank.

  
Every one we encountered was not just nice, but very friendly and eager to help. I will always remember the rolling hills, the snow capped mountains, the history, the scotch, the sheep, and especially the people. We were constantly on the move and it was tiring, but it was a great trip. For anyone considering a trip to Scotland I would highly recommend it. Bring your walking shoes and your camera, because there is a lot to see and you will not want to miss a thing.

Traveling to Scotland – Part I

About a month ago my wife and I traveled to Scotland for about a week. I was looking forward to getting away and visiting a country I had never seen before. I had read a couple of travel books, a website or two, and looked through several travel websites. I sort of knew what to expect – a country with big cities as well as small cities. A country known for it’s Scotch, for it’s history, and for it’s Loch Ness Monster. A country known for it’s clans, for it’s kilts, for it’s sheep, and for it’s mountains, and stone formations. And as I learned for very good shortbread biscuits and a good rail system as well. One other thing I knew about Scotland – they drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car. Both opposite of the United States, where I have been driving for several decades.

We flew into Edinburgh and took a train to St. Andrews. The home of golf and this year the home to The Open Championship. The weather was typical for Scotland – which means it drizzled and rained. But, it didn’t matter – we were in Scotland on vacation. The Old Course Hotel was quite nice with a mix of new and old. We didn’t stay but after a short walk around town and the course, we had a nice relaxing tea looking out over the course. The train was delightful and rolling along through the countryside was a great way to travel and see the country. We rode along the coast and watched the small farms go past. The mountains, the hills, the green fields, and the sheep. All of which I was to learn where plentiful in Scotland. 

 We spent Friday night in Aberdeen near the airport so that in the morning it would be a quick walk to pick up our rental car. Yes, this was the start of a two day adventure behind the wheel of a car. The best way to describe driving in Scotland for me was – awkward. But, I got used to it and just had to keep telling myself – turn right, stay left. It was something we joked about doing, but I really enjoyed it. Mostly. And got used to it rather quickly. And even my wife – not a great passenger – said I did well. Saturday was to be “Gordon” day and it turned out to be so much more. And the weather turned out to be very un-Scottish – warm and sunny.

In the morning we went to visit the Gordon Highlander museum, as they are known for their military and strategic prowess. It was amazing to see the uniforms from Napoleon’s days and from all of the wars since. It was interesting to learn more about the history of the Clan. Everyone was so incredibly nice and helpful – especially Jeffrey Gordon (not my son). Words and sayings such as “When you burn our kilt you roast our pride. You can take away the tartan but you cannot quench the spirit of the Gordons.”

  

From there we drove to Glenfiddich (pronounced Glenfidick) Distillery which I really enjoyed. We did a two and half hour tour of the distillery and I was surprised to find that they still do a lot of things in the traditional ways. Something a lot of distilleries don’t do as much. One interesting note is that while it was formed by the Grant family, the Gordon’s married into the family and have been a large part of the success and growth of the distillery. It was a Gordon who started the “Single Malt” category of scotch. And it was a Gordon who took the scotch to the world. At the end of the tour we got to not just sample different barrels of 15 year old scotch, but got to blend our own.

A few notes about the distillery – they go through 400 tons of barley in a day. The land around the distillery was purchased specifically because of the fresh spring that ran through it. They use American oak – bourbon barrels and Spanish Sherry barrels.  Both of which give the scotch a very distinctive taste. And blending the different barrels makes for a very unique taste. I was also honored to share the tour with a descendent of the Grant family, and since the next day was my birthday he gave me his blended scotch.