How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse): Available for Purchase 2/13/2017!

I started writing my second novel, How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse), for National Novel Writing Month in November of 2013. Unfortunately, personal upheaval combined with a lot of work making major edits to my first book, The Way of Reckoning, kept me from finishing it in a timely manner.

That said, I’m excited to announce that the first draft of How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse) was completed last summer, it was beta’d last fall, and the final edits were completed just last month – which means that the ebook will be available for purchase starting Monday February 13th!

How to Start Living in the Zombie Apocalypse T.L. Walker

Many thanks to Tony of AZCS Technology/Dark Catt Studios for supplying the cover art, which I’m VERY excited about.

How to Start Living (in the Zombie Apocalypse) is the story of how a young woman faces the end of the world as we know it head on – and doesn’t exactly feel ‘fine’…

How would YOU survive the zombie apocalypse? It’s a question Charlie never thought to ask herself, but now that she’s been dropped into the middle of it she has to face her new reality. She isn’t sure if the answer is simply to kill or be killed, or if there’s some way around that…and she’s not even sure she wants to take the pacifist route, anyway.

Follow Charlie as she leaves a yoga retreat and is forced to begin a journey back to her childhood home; as she struggles to survive, only to discover that she’s never felt so alive before.

If you are interested in procuring a signed physical copy of the book, I will be offering them for sale at my booth at MegaCon Orlando May 25-28, 2017, or feel free to purchase one online and bring it to either of the following upcoming events:

  • ClexaCon – Las Vegas, NV – March 3-5, 2017 (please note that the best/easiest way to procure a signature from me at this convention will be to attend one of my panels)
  • Ice & Fire Con – Pembroke, VA – April 28-30, 2017

Please note that while the ebook will be available on February 13th, paperback copies will take a bit longer to finalize, but they will be available before March 1st…I’m just too excited to wait much longer to release this book; writing it has been such a labor of love and I can’t wait to share it!

 

Cover Artist Bio
Antonio Maldonado is a custodial hero by day and a snack lovin’ cartoonist at night. He shares his home/studio/dojo with Stella (9th level Puggle Warrioress) where they share snacks and… okay, they mostly just share snacks. However, drawing things that make people go “Oooh!” is in his blood. So keep your eyes peeled for more stuff over at thecucoking.deviantart.com and/or cucoking.wordpress.com

Every part of my body hurts.

It’s been a really, really long few weeks.

I’ve essentially packed up and thoroughly cleaned 1.5 living places and moved into another one. Exciting, but backbreaking.

On top of that, I really did start reading up on AND training for my AT hike later this year, first with a combo of walking 1 mile and running 2.5 at least 5 days a week, and more recently by walking 1 mile and running just over 3 (still at least 5 days a week). On top of that I’ve added 200 crunches and 50 pushups to my daily routine, and yes, my abs feel weird and my legs have already gone from hurting to actually feeling kind of okay. Previously I wasn’t running quite that much so the sudden jump in activity definitely took some getting used to 😉 Thankfully I should have my rowing machine set up soon, as well, and I can’t wait to start using it again – not having it around the past five months has definitely made me feel, well, kind of lazy.

Appalachian Trail guides

Now if only this whole moving thing could get wrapped up so that I can really focus on the important things… (I’d say I was kidding, but I’m kind of…not.)

In terms of money, I’m still trying to raise enough via my GoFundMe for the backpack and several other essentials that I need. The backpack alone is about $200, so hey, if you’re feeling generous, please consider donating – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every penny helps!

Thankfully, I found a couple things while moving – including a really awesome sleeping bag! – and received a couple of necessary items for Christmas (a great pair of socks and the trekking poles that I wanted), so between those, the donations I received (which allowed me to purchase my camp sandals and hiking boots), and my evolving training schedule, I’m making little bunny hops toward my goal.

Appalachian Trail sleeping bag

Appalachian Trail trekking poles socks

Appalachian Trail camp sandals hiking boots

People keep asking me if I’m sure about this, or still set on doing it – the answer is a resounding YES. Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared as hell, but I also know me, and once I announce that I’m doing something I pretty much never back out of that commitment. Does this always turn out well for me? Noooot necessarily. But this time I can’t imagine that I haven’t made the right choice, in deciding to take on this challenge 🙂

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

 

Dear 2016, Get the Fuck Out of My House

This year has generally sucked for not just me but pretty much almost everyone; of course, so many people have talked about that fact recently that I don’t see much need to say any more about it.

Instead, I’m going to close out this year with sharing a few fun end of the year things and then move on.

And for good measure, here are my top nine photos from Instagram…even though I didn’t even join until about halfway through this year 😉

Instagram #2016bestnine

These Weeks on The Geekiary: 4+ Months of Highlights

The Geekiary

I feel bad because I was really enjoying sharing my Geekiary articles, but the past five months have been VERY busy, so my somewhat regular posts have long been pushed to the wayside. In order to play a bit of catch up, here are just some of the more important Geekiary articles that I’ve written since July 31st (more important in my opinion, at least) 🙂

Because it’s been so long, this time around I’m going to go back in time starting from some updates I made today…

The Geekiary The Walking Dead Season 7December 17th, 2016
UPDATED: The Walking Dead Season 7 Masterpost
Check out my reviews and news of the current season of TWD!
UPDATED: Steven Universe Masterpost
I’ve written several SU news posts and episode reviews since I last shared my Geekiary articles 🙂

December 16th, 2016
Rogue One: Dark, Gritty, & Reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back
Let’s be honest: Star Wars hasn’t always done the best job of telling a story to which we know the ending (see the prequels). Yet in Rogue One they did just that, and while it didn’t give me quite the sense of amazement that I felt when I saw The Force Awakens, there is no denying that it is a success in nearly every respect.

The Geekiary Ashley Eckstein Ashley Taylor Her Universe Walt Disney WorldDecember 6th, 2016
Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor at Walt Disney World
When I found out that Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor were holding a signing at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World, I couldn’t wait to attend.

November 20th, 2016
Tara Lynne’s Geekiary Gift Guide 2016
I had so much fun putting together my 2015 Geekiary Gift Guide that I knew I had to reprise it this year. So for 2016 I aimed to do what I did in 2015 – include geeky items that not only speak to me, but are also suggested by both Geekiary writers and fans.

November 26th, 2016
Netflix Gilmore Girls Has its Moments, But Leaves a Lot To Be Desired
The Netflix Gilmore Girls revival is both not enough and too much, at least for this fan. Despite the fact that there was plenty that I didn’t love, I keep hoping to hear that we’ll get more than just those four episodes/six hours…although sadly it doesn’t seem like that will be the case. (At least not in any foreseeable future.)

The Geekiary Fantastic Beasts and Where to FInd ThemNovember 19th, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay is Where It’s At
I made it very clear that I felt there were a lot of issues with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I have to say that if you’re a big Harry Potter/Rowling fan, the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them SCREENPLAY clears a lot of things up.
Katheryn Winnick Wakes Up, Kicks Ass, Repeats on Vikings
The first half of Vikings season 4 ended on an odd note, with an episode that saw Rollo vanquish Ragnar and his fellow Vikings as they attempted to attack Paris again and then featured a time skip of several years. Season 4 returns on November 30th, and this past week Katheryn Winnick (Lagertha) was on hand to give some juicy details about what has happened and what’s to come.

November 17th, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: A Fun Frolic with Some of That Harry Potter Magic
The absolute first thing that I have to say about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that I wish I could write a spoiler-free review – one that people could read before seeing this movie – because I think that before you walk into a theater to watch it, you should ask yourself, “What am I expecting from Fantastic Beasts?”

The Geekiary Good Girls RevoltNovember 14th, 2016
Good Girls Revolt is Mad Men for Smart Women
If you want a history lesson combined with a scary reminder of how crappy things can still be for anyone who isn’t a straight white man, all wrapped up in the drug-, alcohol-, and sex-fueled setting of the late 1960s/early 1970s, then Good Girls Revolt is the show for you.

October 31st, 2016
MegaCon Tampa Bay: A Successful First Year
I’ve been to a lot of conventions, and I’ve hosted several first-year conventions. That said, MegaCon Tampa Bay was one of the best first year cons I’ve ever attended, which was honestly a pleasant surprise.

October 20th, 2016
First Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer Finally Released!
Here’s to all of my fellow Red Dead Redemption fans who have waited so long for the oft-rumored Red Dead Redemption 2…because not only do we have a vague release date (Fall 2017), we also have the very first Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer!

The Geekiary BoJack HorsemanOctober 16th, 2016
Bojack Horseman: A Difficult Yet Worthy Recommendation
Listen, the first half of the first season of BoJack Horseman is really, really hard to get through. And to be honest, there are parts of the third season that are difficult to watch as well. But as a whole, the payoff is worth it. Trust me on this.

October 11th, 2016
Gravity Falls: Season Two Makes It Worth a Watch
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t really sure about Gravity Falls after watching the first season, but now that I’ve binged both seasons, I’ve added it to my must-watch cartoons list along with Steven Universe, Polar Bear’s Cafe, Kuroko no Basuke, and more.

September 27th, 2016
The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is Perfect in its Imperfections
I was surprised when the CW renewed their entire lineup for this coming season, and one of the more shocking renewals was that of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a show whose first season had some of the lowest ratings on television.

…and last but not least, there were also quite a few updates to The Geekiary’s Dragon Con Masterpost in September!

Dragon Con 2016 Thor Cosplay

I know this was a lot to take in all at once, but I *will* try to do a better job of keeping up with my “These Weeks on The Geekiary” posts throughout the coming months…but you know, please keep your fingers crossed that I can actually do so 😉

I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell (and I want to get better)

Appalachian Trail GoFundMe ageeksaga

For many years I’ve dreamed of attempting a long backpacking trip, and as luck would have it, I have the chance to do a 20-ish-day hike of a section of the Appalachian trail starting May 1st, 2017. My minimum goal is 200 miles, although I hope to hit 275 miles (the Long Trail in New England being 273, I would love to hike at least as far as that trail is long, even though I will be doing most of my hike in Virginia).

To be honest, I’ve never considered a GoFundMe campaign for myself before, but as it turns out, if I want to take this next step in my life – to make this attempt to better myself both physically and mentally, to experience something amazing that will fuel my writing for some time to come – I need money to make it happen. Sadly, as an independently contracted writer and entrepreneuer, money is one thing I don’t have much of right now.

So I am asking for the absolute minimum amount of money I will need to purchase necessary gear to hike. I already started a wishlist on Amazon (which I am constantly editing) and sadly even in the timespan of a week many of the items I wanted have already been marked unavailable. So while I will be saving up my pennies for the next several months, I really do need to purchase the gear I need to train myself for a long-distance trip like this sooner rather than later…hence this campaign.

What can you expect if you donate to my campaign? Well, at the end of it I will be writing a Thank You entry on my blog and listing anyone who is okay with it by name/nickname. I will also be using my blog to review the items I purchase, detail my training for the hike, and then to write about it when I return. My hope is to even gather enough experience to write a book/ebook about my trip.

The thing is though, this isn’t just about realizing a dream. Not that long ago (within the past couple of years) I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have since done everything from self-medicating to taking up to four prescription medications at a time to therapy…and I continue to do a lot of the above. So while this trip will surely be an adventure, and while it will definitely give me a lot to write about (which is exciting)…I’m also undertaking it for my mental health. I want to “get clean”, so to speak – to spend 20-ish days with nothing more than the food and water that’s necessary to keep me going. And yes, that will be part of what I write about, as well.

I honestly can’t express how grateful I will be for every penny that is donated to this campaign, and I’m also more than willing to take suggestions on what I can do for those of you who donate. You want me to take a picture of something specifically for you? Sure! Prefer a postcard or mailed thank you card during/after my hike? I will do everything in my power to make it happen! Because to be honest…I likely won’t be able to make this hike at all without this campaign. That said, if you would prefer to donate something you know I can use directly, or outright purchase an item off my wishlist to send to me, I’m more than happy with that as well! Shoot me an email if you’d prefer either of those options 🙂

Thank you in advance and with all my love,
Tara

My Personal “Most Fun Cities” List

Recently timeout.com made a list of the most fun cities in the world. This list included 18 cities, and I’ll admit, I’ve only been to about a quarter of those places.

Still, I don’t really agree with some of their choices, and while I sadly have to limit my list to North America and Europe, I can’t pretend that I’ve yet been able to satisfy my dreams of visiting Great Britain, Norway and Sweden, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Morocco, Japan, Australia, and Thailand…at the VERY least. That said? I know I’ve been lucky to travel as much as I have. Privileged, even. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the chances I’ve had to explore this world and I hope that I’ll have more of them 🙂

But I still have my own opinions about the most fun cities out there, and I also don’t think 18 is a high enough number…even if I were to include every city in the Time Out article. Again, this is coming from someone who has been to many Caribbean islands, almost 3/4 of the states in the U.S., and a dozen European countries. I’m sure there are likely Asian, Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, African, and/or Australian locations that should be added…but I stand by my personal North American/European selections for now.

While I do believe that some of these cities are more fun than others, I couldn’t possibly put them in any order that I’d be 100% satisfied with, so instead I’m just going to list them alphabetically 🙂

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
My sister and I spent several days in Amsterdam in 2007. It was a long time ago, but on my first day there I knew that this was one of those cities I would be obsessed with returning to at some point in my life. We experienced art, we experienced history, we experienced food, and we experienced partying…partying in ways that can’t be described, ways that you can only experience in Amsterdam.

Most Fun Cities Amsterdam

Berlin, Germany
Berlin was one of those places that I considered a stop on the way to somewhere better, and to be honest, even after spending several days there I was ready to move on. (It didn’t help that a lot of our time was spent doing things like walking up and down the Berlin Wall, visiting a nearby concentration camp, and other such unhappy historical things.) Anyway, what’s important is that after I moved on, I couldn’t get Berlin out of my head. I still can’t. It is, like Amsterdam, one of those places I’m dying to visit again.

Most Fun Cities Berlin

Boston, Massachusetts, USA
I’m from New England, so I had to include a New England city, of course! While I’ve had amazing times in Providence, Rhode Island and in many little New England towns scattered throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine…Boston is always the place that stands out. The breweries, Boston Common, the Freedom Trail, Cambridge but also its *nightlife*, and of course Fenway (especially if you can see a Red Sox game). And honestly, combine the breweries and a Red Sox game and some of that nightlife and you can’t help but have a great time.

Most Fun Cities Boston

Budapest, Hungary
There’s a lot to love about Budapest. The crazy public transportation, the confusing money, the castle on its hilltop (and the cellar wine tastings that can be found up there), the thermal baths, the beauty combined with a lively vibe that you almost wouldn’t expect…add all of that together and I can’t imagine not having a good time in this gorgeous city.

Most Fun Cities Budapest

Charleston, South Carolina, USA
There’s literally nothing better than a random weekend in historic downtown Charleston. I’m not big on shopping, but doing it here is a total blast, mostly due to the open market – but there are also some great art galleries/stores spread throughout the historic district. There are carriage tours, walking tours, even tours by car that will tell you everything you want to and more about the city…and at the end of the day, there’s “The Original” Pub & Brewery Tours of Charleston, which offers the best historical pub tours and brewery bus tours in the city, as well as other events throughout the year. I’ve been on three of their tours and I can’t speak highly enough of them! (P.S. Charleston has great beer and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!)

Most Fun Cities Charleston

Chicago, Illinois, USA
After several trips to Chicago the best thing I can say is that I still don’t feel like I’ve experienced enough. The museums, the lakefront, and the Miracle Mile are all great; but that’s nothing compared to a Wrigleyville party, a pizza pot pie and some wine or beer paid for in cash at Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder, a night at Second City, or a baseball game. Chicago is easy to navigate and there is something for everyone and I know I’ll return again and again.

Most Fun Cities Chicago

Denver, Colorado, USA
Denver is another place that surprised me when it came to mind as I made this list. But then I realized that it’s close to a major airport, close to amazing skiing, and has its own fun draws as well. If you’re up for a toke, for instance, pot is legal…but the last time I was there the most fun thing was to map out a brewery tour that left from my hotel and circled back around to it. The best thing? This tour allowed me to walk no more than a half mile at a time (and even that longer distance only happened twice between stops), visit (in the end) half a dozen Denver breweries, and just generally lead me on a fun tour of the city. There is so much to do in and around Denver that I can’t imagine anyone not loving this place.

Most Fun Cities Denver

Dublin, Ireland
I’ll admit, I visited Dublin just once…and it was over 16 years ago. But the fact that it hasn’t faded from my memory even after all this time is what says a lot. I was awkward and shy in high school, and I’d only just started coming out of my shell when I ended up in a college that shoved me right back into that shell…only thankfully, around that time I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for spring break as part of a study program (including a scholarship that paid for most of the trip), and I fell in love with Dublin the moment I stepped off the bus from the airport. It was March, it was dreary, and it was beautiful. The Guinness brewery was a ton of fun, the Temple Bar area was great, and everywhere I went, people wanted to talk to me. I don’t mean for that to sound stuck up; I was used to being in the background, feeling awkward at the least and anxious at the worst. But suddenly, in Dublin, I felt *alive*. I felt like I was part of things. And that memory has never left me.

Most Fun Cities Dublin

Greenville, South Carolina & Asheville, North Carolina, USA
I think I would be remiss if I didn’t include Greenville, because despite growing up in Connecticut and living in Massachusetts, Virginia, and the Orlando area off and on, Greenville is the one place I always go back to. Sadly, while I can’t admit that it deserves an entry all its own, by combining it with Asheville (which also doesn’t deserve an entry all its own), everybody wins. Greenville has some great restaurants, bars, and breweries – and if you’re a Red Sox fan, seeing their farm team (The Greenville Drive) at Fluor Field is a must. Combine that with even more breweries in Asheville, the Biltmore House (which has a winery and a tour that includes samples), and the generally picturesque surroundings, and you can have an amazing long weekend and still not experience everything that this area has to offer.

Most Fun Citites Asheville

Most Fun Cities Greenville

Key West, Florida, USA
You know what the most surprising thing about Key West is? Technically, you’re *not* supposed to have open containers on the streets! But you know, just don’t be stupid and you won’t have to worry about that 😉 That said, there are tons of other awesome things to experience here…the Southernmost Point, the Hemingway House, Blue Heaven for brunch (great Bloody Marys!), Cuban Coffee Queen if you need a pick-me-up, Sloppy Joe’s or the Green Parrot for late-night bars, and Fort Jackson if you want a good beach. Most of the historic district is walkable, there’s plenty of other stuff to do, but let’s not lie – Key West is mostly about the party.

Most Fun Cities Key West

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Does. This. Even. Need. An. Explanation?
I could say gambling, clubs, great restaurants, no open container laws, champagne brunches, shows, and more, but…
The answer is no. You really only need pictures. (And I’m only going to include one picture each from my last three Vegas trips – just FYI, I’ve been twelve times!)

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

Most Fun Cities Las Vegas

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
I’ve been lucky to have not one but two amazing trips to NOLA. The first time was during Mardi Gras season – not over the holiday itself, but as it happened we were there when the Saints won their first ever (and so far only) Superbowl…and the second time was for Halloween, which was a complete blast, if not quite as epic as my trip there in February 2010. Regardless, there’s so much more than Bourbon Street (although that’s quite a party) and the French Quarter…there’s Frenchmen Street if you want some great music, the Garden District if you want to see gorgeous houses and other historic sites, Tipitina’s for even more great music…and one more quick French Quarter shout out, Napoleon’s for the food and the Pimm’s Cups. The people are friendly, there’s history and nightlife…what more could you want?

Most Fun Cities New Orleans

Orlando, Florida, USA
Walt Disney World. Universal Studios Orlando. Church Street. Lake Eola Park. Some of these things surely sound familiar to you while some of them may not, but all of them are amazing. Is Orlando historical? No. Is it beautiful? Not really. But if you want to have some fun, you can drink around the world in EPCOT at Disney, try brews in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal, hang out in the Church Street Station area, or even just take a walk around Lake Eola Park and check out some of the bars and restaurants in that vicinity. But hey, let’s not lie, you’re more likely to come here for the theme parks qwe454or a convention 😉

Most Fun Cities Orlando

Most Fun Cities Orlando

San Francisco, California, USA
I think the best part about San Fran is that you can visit all of the touristy places and also fit in a few less likely stops in just a few days…and in those few days, there are plenty of fun options that don’t involve the touristy stuff. But really, how can you convince yourself not to visit Haight-Ashbury? Or if you’re a geek, find George Lucas’s house with the faux robot out front? And don’t even get me started on hanging out in Alamo Square to get a picture of the Full House house in the background. If you’re a baseball fan and can afford the drinks, the Giants stadium is gorgeous (with a great view) and they keep the alcohol flowing. Then there’s the usual stuff like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. I honestly can’t even imagine visiting this city during Pride; it would probably be the most amazing experience of my life. Everything about San Fran is fun and welcoming and there always seems to be some sort of party going on.

Most Fun Cities San Francisco

Vienna, Austria
There’s these sausages you can buy. They hollow out a small loaf of French bread, pour some sort of life-changing mustard sauce in it, and then insert a cheese-infused sausage. And it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s the perfect late-night snack, or hey, you can have it for lunch (with a cold beer) in the middle of the day…all while exploring the gorgeous sites of Vienna. The Spanish Riding School, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the Schonnbrunn Palace, just to name a few. There’s also the infamous Vienna Schnapps Museum, and, if you’re looking for nightlife, the area they call “The Bermuda Triangle“. I sincerely believe that there’s something for everyone in Vienna, and when I explain it to people I call it “the other Paris” – where people are more friendly, accommodations are cheaper, and you can actually experience the local festivals without fighting to be there in every way possible.

Most Fun Cities Vienna

Maybe this is too little too late, and above all please excuse me for using so many pictures of myself. One never knows how one’s friends will take to being featured in a blog entry, after all 😉

I’d love to hear some input on the best Middle Eastern, African, Asian, and Australian cities, so please feel free to leave a comment. There are a lot of places on my “to visit” list, but it can’t hurt to make that list longer and hope for opportunities! For instance, I didn’t list any cities in Alaska or Hawaii, which are both must-sees in my opinion, but sadly don’t include a “most fun city” (at least in my opinion). Like I said, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

We All Get Sick Sometimes

I was really disappointed when I had to cancel my trip to the Miami Book Fair this past weekend…sadly, I’d been sick for nearly two weeks, a sinus infection turned bronchitis at the very least, possibly even walking pneumonia.

I really am far too human for my own good 😉

The sad thing is, my illness affected more than just the Miami Book Fair. While I’m still participating in NaNoWriMo, I don’t really expect to win – I was ahead at the beginning of the month, but the past week has seriously affected the amount of time I’ve had to write, so at this point it’s a very big “we’ll see” with the probable outcome being no, I won’t make it to 50,000 words.

Really though, I’m okay with that. I’m going to keep writing, but if I don’t make it this year, hey, it’s nothing that’s never happened before 😉 Considering I have a nearly-finished manuscript that I was working on before November hit – and another one that’s in the final stages of editing – I know I haven’t been slacking, and for me that’s the important thing.

I’ll be honest, a big part of why it took me so long to feel better is the fact that I would rest for a few days, and then “play hard”, as it were. I came back from MegaCon Tampa Bay, started feeling awful that Wednesday, and then that Sunday I spent the day at EPCOT with friends.

Last weekend was Pride, which I absolutely couldn’t miss considering it was originally scheduled for when I was in Vegas and was REscheduled for November 12th because of the hurricane.

A Geek Saga Orlando Pride Come Out With Pride Pride Orlando

A Geek Saga Orlando Pride Come Out With Pride Pride Orlando

And then I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet up with Sam, my best friend from high school, last week. I don’t even want to admit how long it had been since we had seen each other, but I had an amazing day hanging out with her, her husband, and their two beautiful children! I even got to say hi to her parents, which was awesome!

A Geek Saga High School Best Friend

The very next day, tickets went on sale for Beach City Con! I also had tickets to an early screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that night, so it was just “one of those days” all around…

A Geek Saga House Hufflepuff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

If I thought things would slow down after that, I was wrong. I’ve had a lot of writing to do, a lot of shows to catch up on, and I’m *still* not over this cough from whatever illness I contracted. On top of that, I’m *months* behind on my “This Week on The Geekiary” posts…so for now, hey, if you’re on Reddit, please subscribe to our sub! I share what I consider my best articles there, anyway.

At least I’m finally, let’s sat…95% better. Perhaps the amazing Beach City Con ticket sales have helped? Or the fact that we’ve had a successful Ice & Fire Con ticket push, too? Between that and my writing, it’s hard not to feel great right now…and as always, if you have questions about either of my conventions, I’m here to answer them!

A Wonderful Day of Food & Wine at EPCOT

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I am so lucky to have the friends that I do. Last weekend I got to visit EPCOT, which was cool in and of itself because it’s Food & Wine Festival time right now…but even more exciting was the fact that I got to see my friend Melissa run one of the official Food & Wine cooking demos!

We started the day at Disney Springs – it was only a brief stop, but I got to visit the Star Wars and Marvel stores. The former had so many awesome things for sale that I can’t wait to go back if I ever have money to spend (ha) – the latter seemed a bit thrown-together, but man, I do want that Avengers Dooney & Bourke purse that they had on display! (Oh, and this set of BB-8 Mickey Ears is an eventual necessity. Yes, the shirt and purse are already mine.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

From there we went to EPCOT, and wow was it crowded. I blame this on it being the second to last weekend of Food & Wine and the Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Thankfully we still got to ride the new Soarin’ (I didn’t even know it was changed to Soarin’ over the world – or if I did, I’d forgotten about it), *and* wander back and forth through the World Showcase, sampling food and drink. (A lot of drink.)

But of course the highlight of the day was seeing Melissa’s presentation! She made vegetarian ‘chicken’ pot pie with cheddar drop biscuits. Sadly they ran out of the pot pie portion of the meal before they got around to our table, but we did get a whole ton of biscuits and extra wine, both of which were delicious 😉

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Sorry not sorry for the picture dump – I’m just really proud of Melissa! She was on the College Program when I was a Restaurant Guest Service Manager for Sunset Ranch Market at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and she was one of the best CP students we had. She returned to school, got her degree, held leadership positions at restaurants outside of Disney and Orlando, and then returned to WDW and rocketed up to where she is now. She’s a hard worker who deserves everything that comes her way. (Oh, and her husband Adrian, who also worked for me at SRM, is pretty great, too!)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

Walt Disney World EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016

After the demonstration, we wandered a bit more, got more drinks, and even eventually went on Test Track. Food-wise, I tried the Greek cake (which was not as good as the fried goat cheese with honey and pistachios, sadly) as well as the Escargots Croissant (again not as good as the single-bite escargot pastries they used to have). Thankfully the pierogies from the Poland installment were still the same!

Oh, and I’d forgotten that they let you “build” your own car for Test Track now, and that you compete against the others in your group. Brian and I with our car “CHEVROLET MECHANICORE TANK OF DOOM” went up against Melissa and Adrian’s “Lisa Frank DOMINANT” and Andrew and Merrilynn’s “Clifford the Big Red Car”. Every single one of our vehicles looked ridiculous (though I think the others looked way crazier than MECHANICORE, but no matter how balanced they tried to make their cars, it turns out that power is what really wins in the end, and we dosed MECHANICORE with a lot of that. (Oh, how sadly appropriate that is right now…power is what really wins in the end. Ugh.)

Walt Disney World EPCOT Test Track

Anyway, I hadn’t been to Disney since this past January and it was a welcome Sunday getaway from the “real world”…that being a shitty Walking Dead episode and a shockingly horrid presidential election.

But hey, “Forward always. Always forward.” Until the next adventure, I remain, your pansexual SJW female entrepreneur buddy,

Tara Lynne

Not a Con 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Soon after the very first Ice & Fire Con in April 2013, a group of friends and I planned a trip back to the convention’s first location, Ravenwood Castle. It took place in October of that year – about halfway between Ice & Fire Con 2013 and 2014 – and even though the “attendees” (and now the location) have changed, Not a Con continues to be an annual tradition that I wouldn’t miss for the world.

(Although I guess technically it’s being replaced by Beach City Con next year, but I swear we’ll have a winter Not a Con to make up for that!)

We held three Not a Cons at Ravenwood; in 2013 we went with a pirate theme (for the most part, anyway); 2014 was A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones; 2015 was Harry Potter. While we didn’t go all-out with the theme this year like we did the first three times, that was mostly due to the fact that Not a Con 2016 took place in Las Vegas. Still, we threw a bit of Star Wars into the mix and therefore dubbed Not A Con 4.0 “Vegas Wars”.

Not a Con Vegas Wars

So what do you get when you mix four nights in Vegas, a Mirage hospitality suite, ten amazing people, and a whole lot of crap…s?

Well, one of the best Vegas trips I’ve ever had, that’s for sure.

While I used to visit Vegas more often, the past few years I’ve limited my visits and instead made sure that when I do go, I go all out. This time around, I hadn’t been out to this crazy city for almost two years (the last time being over New Year’s 2014-2015), and thanks to the fact that my friends were willing to go along with so many of my crazy schemes, we stayed in an amazing suite *that had a pool table*, I got to spend an evening riding around in a limo, we all took a day to laze and drink at a pool party, see the Chainsmokers perform, and then we wrapped up the trip by experiencing an absolutely perfect VIP table at HYDE Bellagio (with a view of the fountains and all).

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Oh, and yes, we played (or watched other members of our group play) a lot of craps.

So without further ado, I bring you the basics of this Vegas trip, because to tell any more would be to forsake that infamous rule, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…

NOT A CON 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE THEME
Star Wars…sort of

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE CAST
“Auntie Tara” a.k.a. the one who got stuck with a $14 charge when someone touched the mini bar in our suite
“Brian E” a.k.a. Chocolate King
“Katherine” a.k.a. The Newb
“RJ” a.k.a. The Responsible One
“Jasmine’s Brian” a.k.a. The Quiet One
“Jasmine Venusaur” a.k.a. The Slot Queen
“K2D2” a.k.a. The Napper
“Frank” a.k.a. Poop Trousers
“ASHURISAN” a.k.a. The Best Selling Author of “If I Did It”
“Ser Dunkin Keith” a.k.a. The White Castle Culprit
* With special guest appearances by: *
PHYLLIS JAGER
&
CHUCK MALCOLM

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE LOCATIONS
Basically everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip but mostly…
– The Linq
– Harrah’s
– Any “Shoot to Win” Craps Machine
– The Mirage (specifically suite A22)
– Sephora at The Shops at Caesar’s
– Mon Ami Gabi at The Paris
– That shady casino across from The Mirage
– The Las Vegas sign
– Fremont Street
– Some Brazilian Steakhouse
– A horrible California Pizza Kitchen
– Chuck Malcolm’s ledge at Hakkasan
– The Rockhouse at The Venetian…or the Palazzo…whatever, I can’t remember
– The Drunk Canadian Tour Guide’s Luxor Experience
– HYDE Bellagio
– Cravings Buffet at The Mirage

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE EVENTS
Drinking
Gambling
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
A couple decent meals
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Awful late-night snack decisions
The Bathtub Incident
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Oh and dancing, there was dancing too
(And a lot of walking. Like almost too much walking, even for me.)

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

All I have to say is that this was definitely one of my best Vegas trips ever – certainly in the top three – and that I can’t wait to plan another Vegas trip, OR another Not a Con…though next time I think we’ll continue our trend of visiting different places. Let’s just say that I’m still pushing for Not a Con 5.0 a.k.a. SKI KHAAAANNN 2.0 in Colorado in early 2018 😉

Find Me at MegaCon Tampa Bay This Weekend!

I was lucky enough to be a guest at MegaCon Orlando earlier this year, and I’m super excited to have the opportunity to attend MegaCon Tampa Bay this coming weekend as a guest, as well! I’m still tossing around cosplay ideas, but I’m pretty sure I’ve finalized my daytime schedule with Pearl from Steven Universe, Cersei Lannister in mourning from Game of Thrones, and Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. I may end up switching which days I wear what, but keep an eye out for me nonetheless!

Tara Lynne MegaCon Tampa Bay Cosplay

I’ll also be on a panel Saturday at 2 PM – “Cosplay for Beginners” in Room 18. But I have to be honest, I’m most excited about the official MegaCon afterparty on Saturday night. It’s being held at Orpheum in Tampa’s Ybor district, and yes, there will be a cosplay contest! Tickets are only $15 in advance so I highly suggest purchasing yours soon if you plan to attend. I know I’ll be there, along with some of the other cosplay guests…and who knows what celebrities might show up 😉

MegaCon Tampa Bay

(Of course, now I’m trying to decide what cosplay I want to wear for the afterparty…if I can dig up Playboy Bunny Effie Trinket, that’s a possibility…though I also have Katya from Archer laying around, or I can always go more comfy with Starbuck from BSG or Wendy from Gravity Falls…I’m not sure if I have too many options or not enough of them!)

Meanwhile, if you’re wandering the convention floor and want to stop by and say hello, you can find me at booth #535, which is on the aisle where the Community Zone abuts Artist Alley. I’ll be selling copies of my novel and promoting some of the conventions on my 2017 schedule – including Ice & Fire Con and Beach City Con, of course.

MegaCon Tampa Bay Tara Lynne

 

Are you attending MegaCon Tampa Bay? What about the afterparty? (Which is bound to be the best Halloween party in Tampa, let’s be honest.) If so, I hope to see you there!