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Hello! I’ve just returned from my fourth visit to the U.S. for a much needed holiday. I had a great time, despite the head cold that plagued my trip. In all, I was there for 2.5 weeks and managed to cram a lot in.

To kick off the trip I spent a couple of nights in Dallas, Texas. I’d always wanted to see the JFK Assassination stuff, so I thought this trip I’d finally tick that off my list. Dallas was hot! But that was a nice change from the wet winter I had been experiencing in Western Australia.

The first day in Dallas I was naturally jet-lagged as hell (I’d been awake for 30 hours! It was a long trip), so I did little that first afternoon – crashing in bed by 8pm. The next day however, I made up for it. I started the day with a morning tour of Dallas, taking in all the sites from downtown to the arts district and right out to Highland Park where all the millionaires live. Some of those houses! Then in the afternoon I did the JFK tour which finished with a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum – it was a very interesting afternoon. Then, that night I went to the top of the Reunion Tower to catch a view of Dallas by night. It was nice.

*Click the pictures below to see the full image.

Next up, I travelled to Chicago.

This was my first time to Chicago as well. My cousin and an ex-work colleague live there, so I had the chance to catch up with them separately, which was lovely. Aside from that that I caught the sights of downtown Chicago, Millennium Park, the views from the 360 Tower, walked the Magnificent Mile, did a Chicago Crime Tour, an Architecture boat tour, tasted some deep dish pizza, and spent hours walking around the Field Museum, checking out the dinosaurs, meteorites and the mummies! Despite being caught in a couple of downpours which left me saturated, I had a wonderful time.

Next I travelled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the WRITERS POLICE ACADEMY.

All up it was three days of seeing and experiencing things from the viewpoint of a law enforcement officer. I undertook sessions in blood spatter analysis (see pic), shoot/don’t shoot simulations, I fired a taser (see pic) and watched people being tasered (hint: they all cried out and said they never wanted to go through that again), I learned how to take down a suspect with a baton, listened to interesting sessions on the psychological lifecycle and career path of a police officer, what romance goes on behind the badge, mind-hunting serial killers, watched fire and dive rescue simulations, and much more.

The Guest of Honour at this year’s event was author Jeffery Deaver (Bone Collector, etc), who gave a great speech at the banquet on the life of a writer. The whole conference was an absolutely fascinating experience and I would love to attend again soon. I highly recommend it to writers, or anyone simply wanting to understand cops better.

The next stop on my whirlwind tour was San Francisco.

I spent a couple of nights visiting an old friend, who was once my flatmate/roommate when we were both living in London, England. This was my second visit to San Francisco, and I had a lovely time. My friend took me on a little tour of SF by night (see my pic of the Bay Bridge below), then the next day drove me out to the Napa Valley for a day of sunshine and wine! I’ve always wanted to visit the Napa Valley, so that was another item ticked off my To Do list. I also got to ride the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time, so that was cool too (pic below). Sadly, the visit was over too soon.

My last stop: San Jose, California, for WORLDCON – the 76th World Science Fiction Convention.

This was my third Worldcon and as usual I had a great time. Although I must admit between the hectic schedule in the lead up (and the head cold), my energy levels were suffering a little by the time Worldcon hit. Still, I manged to meet a lovely bunch of authors and industry experts and attended a bunch of interesting sessions from experts at SETI, WETA Workshop and many more.

I also appeared on two panels: (1) Successfully Negotiating Book Contracts with Cat Rambo (author and President of SFWA), Joshua Blimes (JABberwocky Literary Agency), Jessica Goloboy (Donald Maas Literary Agency), Pablo Defendini (Fireside Fiction) and Sally Wiener Grotta, and (2) Paths to Publishing with authors Linda Nagata, Wes Chu and S.L. Huang. Both panels went really well, the sessions were full and many people came up afterwards to chat, which was lovely.

I finished the con by attending the Hugo Award Ceremony, which is always great. It’s nice to see so much love in the room for science fiction in all its creative forms! Congrats to all the winners and nominees.

So, there you have it.

Between this trip and the back-to-back edits on the two books I have coming out soon, it’s been a very busy period!

Release Dates:

The Subjugate – 1st Nov (UK/AUS/NZ) and 6th Nov (US/Canada).

Aurora: Aurizun (Aurora #7) – 15th January (Globally)

Stay tuned for more exciting posts soon.

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Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda is an award-winning writer of both original and tie-in fiction. Her works include the near future crime thriller, THE SUBJUGATE, which is being developed for TV; Scribe Award winning procedural thriller, PANDEMIC: PATIENT ZERO; and Marvel X-Men novel, SOUND OF LIGHT, which has been embraced by Dazzler fans around the world.

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