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Off to Thailand!

Bon Voyage!

 

 

Welp. After almost eight months stateside, I’ve had all I can take. It’s time to hit the road, and now I’m off to Chiang Mai, Thailand for a few months of R&R (readin’ & ritin’?). People (you know who you are) have been grilling me about this choice, so let me go ahead and answer your burning questions.

1. Why Chiang Mai?

For the same reasons so many other freelance types head there. Creative energy + low cost of living. I’m super influenced by the vibes of the place I live, and I’m my best self when I’m somewhere with lots to do and see—even if I don’t do or see anything. Sometimes I go into full hermit mode, but I need to know that options are available just in case I start jonesing for hipster tea houses and/or hippy-dippy salads.

2. What are you going to do there?

Same old, same old. Writing and some research—I’ve been kicking around a novella set in Bangkok and being back in Thailand might give me the push I need to get it polished up. Chiang Mai also has a crazy lot of coffee shops, so I’ll spend most days parked at a table typing and sampling random cafe snacks.

3. Can’t you do that in America?

Yeah. But see #1.

4. When are you going to settle down?

Dunno. There are parts of living abroad that are a total drag (language barriers, layovers, third world toilets) but I’m at my most inspired when I’m in an environment that challenges me. As of now, as long as I can keep traveling, that’s what I plan to do.

5. What do you hope to accomplish there?

A whole lot of nose-to-the-grindstone page writing. Thailand allows one to outsource everything for super cheap. I’ll have an apartment with cleaning service, send my laundry out, and buy street food instead of cooking, all for less than what I’d pay for a car payment, insurance, and gas at home. Without the distractions, I plan to dig in to the plots that have been eluding me.

6. Are you crazy?

For sure, but in a good way.

On the Road (Again): Off to Hong Kong

On the Road with Lola

Okay kidd0s–I’m off to Hong Kong this weekend and looking forward to some exploring and hot-desking. This assumes that I can get everything packed up in Taiwan. I’m chugging along, but bouncing from country to country leaves plenty of loose ends to tie. Once I get my possessions onto the slow boat, I’ll be just about good to go.

As always, leaving is bittersweet. I’ll miss the friends and coworkers who’ve been my family in Asia, but who knows? Last time I left Taiwan, I had no intention of returning, so this time I’m not placing any bets. As they say, livin’ is easy in Taipei, and I can’t complain about my years in the home of pudding-flavor milk,  pineapple bread, and lovely, friendly people.

I’ll miss you, Taiwan!

Leaving Taiwan and a Writing Vacation

Taipei 101--Goodbye Taiwan! | www.loladodge.com

Bye bye, Taiwan!

I’m leaving Taiwan (again) and headed for another change of pace—this time, a tour of Asia and a personal writing retreat. As much as I enjoy technical writing (that’s not entirely sarcasm), my brain feels like a fried egg and I need time to relax and get some stories off my desk.

Despite my love of traveling, I’ve never been the go-go-go, check off the itinerary type of girl. That style feels too rushed, and in the hurry to snap the pictures and catch the next bus/ferry/taxi/tuk tuk, finding the time or motivation to write is almost impossible. I prefer to stay in a city for a few weeks, slowly exploring the neighborhoods and getting the local feel rather than the tourist experience, and spending long hours in cafes with my laptop.

Some people say that if you need to go somewhere to write, you’re making excuses. That can be true, but I find writing on location incredibly productive. Going away removes all the everyday distractions of life. For me, it eliminates all the other things I could be doing, and I’m crazy productive when I can zone out without worrying about appointments or meet-ups or even cleaning my apartment.

All next month I’ll be chilling at a coworking space in Bali, and I cannot wait to give some attention to my poor misfit projects. I’ve discovered that heading on vacation without an itinerary or pressure is the ultimate way to maximize my writing time—so bring on the rice paddies, curries, and monkeys, Bali. I’m ready for a jolt of megaproductivity.

Book Tour & Lola News

Blog tour with Lola Dodge and Book Nerd Tours Book tours and travel, oh my!

My book tour is go and there will be lots of reviews, interviews, and content coming your way. Plus, some Sephora, Zoya, and Amazon gifties for those of you who like such things : )

Stop by the Book Nerd Tours site for the schedule and links.

In other Lola news, I’m zipping off to Seoul for a long weekend. I’ll be spending this time pawing through Tonymoly stores, getting some culture, and then mostly hermiting away to write at cute cafes.

My travel priorities are different than the average bear’s, but I’m pretty excited about it, and I know exactly the story that needs some attention!

After my little Korea jaunt, my time in Taiwan is coming to a close, and Hong Kong, Bali, and Singapore are next on my travel agenda. My goal is always getting a mix of touristy fun and quiet writing time. This digital nomad thing is kind of a blast, eh?

More updates soon as I shuck the chains of my day job. I cannot wait to have TIME for writing and networking and doing all the fun book-ish things that have fallen by the wayside lately.

Piracy and Easy Alternatives

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I’m still getting my act together after the computer breakdown fiasco, and the need to purchase new software has got me thinking about illegal downloads and piracy.

As an expat, it would’ve been 1000% easier for me to get a bootleg copy of Word than it was to purchase it legally. I had to jump through hoops upon hoops to figure out how to get the U.S. English version, when I could’ve spent 20 minutes finding a download site. Or a CD. Last time I was in Cambodia, every market had a half dozen shops selling discs of every movie ever made for US$1. Full Photoshop suite? $3. My favorite was the Rosetta Stone disc–$2 for nine languages that would retail for multiple hundreds of dollars each. I could spend weeks vacationing in Southeast Asia for less than it would cost to buy those programs legally.

Why would anyone buy anything legally anymore?

Integrity is on the list, but honestly, it took me longer to to download and install Office than it did to find my apartment in Taipei (and to sign the lease). At what point does a company’s failure to provide a convenient service drive us to alternative channels?

As an author, I try to take the legal route, because I know my books are on the Web and being downloaded for free. An acquaintance told me it’s the same as a library or sharing paperbacks–you can lend books to your friends, so why not share the files? I answered that one with a look of searing disdain, but what I wanted to say was: Do you usually lend books to your 5 or 600 closest friends? One hundred sales, or even 50 would make a huge bump in my sales. Even 10 freebie downloads are 10 sales I didn’t make…and that adds up for any author who’s not J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Suzanne Collins.

Most books, songs, movies, and TV shows are readily available for paid or illegal download these days. When big businesses make it difficult for people to buy a product the right way, people go for the alternative.

But e-books are available everywhere, and difficultly purchasing isn’t usually involved in the equation. It’s just too easy, and too tempting, to download a PDF and save a few dollars.

I’m not naive, and I know my books and everyone else’s are going to keep getting posted to download forums. I get it. Maybe you can’t afford all the books or songs you’d otherwise be happy to pay for. If you can get that content for free in just a few clicks…even I’m tempted.

But, if you must download illegal books, please try to pay the authors back some other way. Leave them a nice review, send an e-mail if you enjoy the story, or tell a friend who’ll buy a copy. Sometimes spreading the word can be more valuable than a sale.