The Tardy Contest

Care to win one of two ARCs of The Body at the Tower? Read on!

Are you always running late? I try very hard to be punctual but occasionally, bad planning and fate get the better of me. I once missed a flight out of Paris because the journey to Charles de Gaulle took 3 hours, instead of the planned 1.5. (A lovely airline employee took pity on my idiocy and put me on the next flight.) Another time, I was 60 minutes late meeting friends in Victoria, BC because I missed my ferry (I didn’t have a cell phone then; amazingly, my friends waited around the cafe for a whole hour and we met up). And then I nearly missed the ferry back, because we were having dinner and talking too much to watch the clock. Yikes. Reading this over, I sound like a pretty feckless person. But I try, I really try.

So when I was researching The Body at the Tower, I felt a mingled sense of amusement and outrage when I read that the reconstruction of the Palace of Westminster (where the Houses of Commons and Lords sit, and the site of Big Ben) ran a full quarter-century late! That’s so late it’s almost fabulous. Almost.

And that’s the theme for my new contest. To enter to win one of two ARCs of The Body at the Tower (published August 10), just leave a comment answering this question:

What’s the most shamefully, ridiculously late you’ve ever been?

or, if you’re one of those sickening, effortlessly on-time people: What’s the silliest excuse anyone’s ever given for being late to meet you?


You may have extra entries for sharing via your blog, Twitter, or Facebook accounts (1 extra per network).

Contest closes June 30. June 15. Can’t wait to give these away!

One winner will be randomly drawn. The other ARC will go to the commenter whose reply makes me gasp aloud.

Good luck, everyone!

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36 Responses to “The Tardy Contest”

  1. Monica Kulling says:

    I’m reading your first one Ying and so immersed. Would love to dive into the second after finishing … .

    Beautiful writing, atmospheric and full of Victorian detail. Love the main character.


  2. Monica Kulling says:

    Re Tardy

    I’m one of those folks who endeavors to be on time. Oops wrong answer.


  3. Admin says:

    Thank you so much, Monica!

  4. Steph Burgis says:

    I have been humiliatingly late far too many times to count. The scariest one, though, was a close call that turned into a save – I was visiting America and was CERTAIN that my flight back to the UK left on January 3rd. It was only late on the evening of January 1st that it occurred to me to look at my ticket to check a different detail…and I realized that my flight left January *2nd*, the next morning!

    I still feel a little faint when I think of how close I came to missing that one by a whole 24 hours!

  5. Steph Burgis says:

    Ooh, and I forgot to say – I also RT’d on Twitter! :)

  6. Sonia Gensler says:

    I’m usually obsessed about being on time, but during my Museum Studies grad program (a few lifetimes ago) I was supposed to help a professor with a children’s program and only remembered it after the program had started. Needless to say, I arrived very late. The professor wasn’t angry, but she never asked me to help her again. :(

    I loved A SPY IN THE HOUSE!

    I’ve RTed on Twitter and will now do so on Facebook. Yay!

  7. Pre kids I was always on time, post kids, well that’s another story!

    My lamest excuse was “I was all ready to go, then J had an accident & needed a bath”. Kids come in handy when you need an excuse LOL

    Oh and I Rtd for ya too :) Looking forward to reading The Body at the Tower!


  8. Joanne Arcand says:

    My best friend through High School was Jeannie. She was (and still is) thoughtful, never forgot a birthday and, even though university life drew me away, invited me to her beautiful (and fun) wedding at the town hall in Mississauga and Playdium.
    I rsvp’d, bought a dress, and was all ready to go….one hour early to give me a chance to select the perfect card on the way. Imagine my surprise when I looked down at the invitation a little more closely and realized the wedding was held the previous Saturday!
    I, of course, had no excuse but my own idiocy. I called and apologized on her machine, but she didn’t return the call. It took her five years before she started replying to my emails again and it remains my biggest reason for being so anal about following a calendar posted in the kitchen.

  9. Mary says:

    I loved Spy in the House and can’t wait to read your next book! My best story about being late is actually about missing appointments because I forgot all about them! After I had my second baby, I had a difficult time adjusting to the demands on my time. One morning I just managed to get the baby fed, changed and bundled into the car to make it to my older child’s doctor’s appointment in the nick of time, only to discover the appointment was the day before. Short on sleep and totally stressed, I arrived back home where I threw my car keys on the counter and cried out to my husband. “That’s it! I quit. I’m not being a mother any more!” Luckily, when I calmed down, I took the job back.
    Posting this to my blog, too!

  10. Mary says:

    PS. I mean facebook. Posting to facebook, too.

  11. Penny Hull says:

    I am usually early, but one time (I claim it has just been once) I missed a doctors appt. as I had the wrong day and time written down…
    I have read the first book in this series and can not wiat to WIN on of these books. :)

  12. Penny Hull says:

    I will retweet this contest.

  13. Ari says:

    As a teenager, sometimes I get lucky and my mom reminds me that I’m going to be late to certain events. This particualr event happened to my whole family, but I was the one who actually told them we were late

    This year, my uncle invited us to his house for mother’s day where his mother (my grandmother) would be there along with my aunt. My father told him we would for sure be able to make it. No one is really sure how this happened, but the day before mtoher’s day, around dinnertime my uncle calls me wondering where we are. I was confused and told him I was home, my parents were out taking my sibs to their respective sprots practices. He then informed me that they mother’s day dinner was today (freaking out a bit becuase they had been waiting for about 2 hours!). I apologized and told him that my whole family thought the event was the next day and wer were so sorry but no one was home who could drive so we woudln’t be able to make it. I called my mom, told her, she didn’t believe me until she called my uncle. We eventaully made it about 4 hours late (we were supposed to bring desert and luckily we remembered that!). It was a great pre-mother’s day, my mom had to stress about making it on time to a dinner in her honor =/

    Some of these stories are truly gasp-worthy (especially the one about the wedding!) What a fun idea :)

  14. Jenny N says:

    This happened at my last job. I was scheduled for my employee review with my manager at 1:00 in the afternoon. So that day I went in at 1:00 and let the manager know I was there. He told me to go in the back room and wait a couple minutes and he would be back to get me. I ended up waiting in the break room for an hour. I went up front and asked others where the manager was and they told me he went on his lunch break. The excuse he gave me was that my review was scheduled at 2:00 not 1:00 even though it was posted on the bulletin board. The review only took a few minutes anyways and he could have went on his break afterwards.

    Also tweeted the contest:

  15. Lizzy says:

    Well, I think that my most embarrassing/shameful story I have actually happened this spring. I live in a rural state, so cell phone service is spotty once you get outside of the city (it’s more of a town than a city, to be honest). I was on my way to my grad school interview, and I had print out directions. Obviously, I didn’t realize how unhelpful those are. I left an hour early, just in case I got lost, and even that didn’t help. I missed the turn I had to take to get to the school, and drove straight to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I had no cell service. When I managed to find service, I stopped my car in the middle of the road (it was ok, the only vehicle I’d seen so far had been a tractor), and called to say I’d be at least an hour late.

    I stopped to get directions, and this was another mistake. The woman told me to go in the wrong direction. So I drove for another half hour, until I stopped at a bank and they printed me out new directions. I figured out that the first woman who gave me directions was located about 10 minutes away from the school, and had sent me an hour out of my way. Eventually, I made it to my interview (and got accepted, woohoo).

    So, long story short, I drove around for an extra 2.5 hours on earth day.

  16. Mimi says:

    I go red in the face every time I walk into a lecture hall of 200+ students staring at me and the professor stopping in mid sentence to watch me walk to my seat. What’s worse is not finding one and settling on the stairs with my laptop on my lap! Further embarassement ensues when the professor says ‘sitting on the stairs is a fire hazard’. What to do then but to stand at the back of the room balancing my laptop in one hand and typing with the other.

    I’m always usually particular with time but lining up for an Iced Cappuccino at Tim Hortons for 20 minutes is well worth the wait~

    I can’t wait to read The Body at the Tower the first one was wonderful!

  17. Tara says:

    I was two hours late for my very own wedding reception. The reason? My husband’s pant zipper broke. I’m dead serious. First of all, the people throwing the reception for us told us to show up an hour late so they could get everyone settled and get the party going and then my hubby and I were to make a grand entrance… Well planning to be “on time” for us, we were in the process of getting dressed when he broke his zipper. He refused to wear another pair of pants so my mother who was visiting at the time had to sew my husband’s pants. Thus, we showed up two hours late and everybody was already drunk and people left before we could even open the gifts they brought for us. It was quite awful and I blame the entire night’s disaster on my husband’s pants.

    My blog is listed above and I plan to post this link. Thanks.

  18. Tara says:

    I’m also on goodreads and librarything.. my blog is

    Book lovers are welcome. Authors also. :)

  19. Sanjana says:

    Okay, so the big thing with me is that when I’m late, I’m LATE as in so late that I may as well not go to the event, but when I’m on time, I’m there smack dab on schedule.
    Typically I’m on call with flights but the one time I went late, it was BAD. I was sitting in the coffee shop a few miles from the airport and I was hours from my flight to India and finally, after three hours of waiting and being flawlessly lazy, I checked my ticket and my watch and screamed out loud in the coffee shop. I was two. hours. late. (the time was ten thirty) and the Airport closes at Eleven. I got in my car and ran like crazy. Luckily, I made it to the airport on time to schedule another flight and then when I got home, I had to reload the enormous haul of luggage and I was sleeping on the couch at about one in the morning. My flight was scheduled at six am the next morning. When I showed up at eight am, with bags under my eyes and lugging more suitcases, they didn’t look too happy.

    Yup, that’s my unlucky story of downright horrible attendance.

    By the way, I absolutely LOVE your book.

  20. Spav says:

    The most late I’ve ever been was last year. I was supposed to go to a wedding and had to take a plane from Madrid to London. The plan was to go from my house to my father’s and then take a taxi to the airport. I was running a little late and I didn’t bother to look out the window, so when a finally hit the streets I realized that it had been snowing all night! (and that’s very rare here). It was so early that they didn’t put any salt in the streets, so you can imagine me, “running” through snow and ice, with my lugage in my hand, trying not to fall. I arrived almost 2 hours late! My dad was so mad, saying that we had already missed our flight, but lucky for us, it snowed so hard that they closed the airport. Every time i think about it, I wonder how it is I didn’t got myself killed that day in the “wild” streets of Madrid.


  21. Bluestocking says:

    I was ridiculously late to a friend’s wedding. In fact i missed the whole ceremony. It wasn’t my fault though. Mapquesting the directions took you to the wrong location. Unfortunately the directions enclosed in the invitation assumed you already knew your way to a certain point.

    The worst was that I was supposed to take pictures for my friend.

  22. Griffin says:

    My best tardy story happened back in college. A group of us were rebooting the debate society, and part of that involved us traveling to other schools to observe their tournaments. One of our first trips was to drive down to Yale to observe a Saturday debate. Subsequently, this ill-fated trip became the poster-story for what not to do on debate field trips.

    At the last minute, almost everyone cancelled, leaving only myself and one of the other co-presidents to go. We called our contact at the school and informed him that we’d be leaving our college (in Maine) after classes at around 4:00 and be arriving at around 8:00.

    We set off and almost immediately ditched our MapQuest directions as unintelligible, and then found our difficulties compounded by a snowstorm. When we finally pulled off the highway and into a fastfood restaurant, we were astonished to notice the “Rhode Island Employee of the Month” plaque on the wall (whoops, we were definitely not supposed to be in Rhode Island).

    We did finally make it through the snow and arrive at the school four hours behind schedule to find our only contact wasn’t answering the phone. We had no idea how to find the specific building, let alone our contact. We parked the car, started down the street and realized that everything looked the same. We decided that we might never find the car again once it was out of visual range.

    We got back into the car and drove down a section of highway where the only other vehicle around was a man with a huge rucksack riding a bicycle towards a section of city that had barely any street lights. Since we only had the club credit card on hand, we had to give him a package of goldfish in return for directions to a hotel. We drove to three separate hotels until we found one with a room to spare.

    The next day we drove back into the city and got lost again, and our contact still wasn’t answering the phone. We decided that the trip was doomed. We’d gone beyond late at that point, so we figured we’d throw in the towel. Of course, the adventure wasn’t over there. The next part of our journey involved accidently driving to Canada. All in all we spent almost two full days driving, never reached our destination and became a cautionary tale for others. Funnily enough neither of us was asked to navigate on any future trips….

  23. enyl says:

    I was two hours late for a funeral.

  24. BrittLit says:

    One time I was almost an hour late to work and I was the opening manager :( I had simply slept in and just didn’t get out of bed until they called me wondering where I was. (really this happened a couple of times *blushes*)
    Another time at my current job my car broke down on the highway and I was three hours late to work. I didn’t have a cell phone and when a passing car offered for me to use theirs, no one picked up where I worked. Although, when I arrived no one seemed to hardly notice I hadn’t been there. *shrugs*

  25. Christie says:

    Yes, I am always running late. I’d love to say it’s because I have three kids but honestly it was a problem even when it was just me.

    Worst lateness offense would have to be when I showed up 3 hours late to one of my daughter’s newborn checkups. She was jaundice so they wanted to see her every single day for the first month. She was also a baby that fussed (screeched) constantly, and never slept. I set the alarm for 6:30 so I could make it to the 7:30 appointment. We slept right through it. We finally woke up but nothing happens quickly with a newborn that won’t stop crying. After changing, feeding, and burping we made our way to the doctor. They were very understanding thank goodness.



    P.S My daughter is a jaundice free and very happy 5 year old now. No lasting damage from the late appointment or all the crying (hers or mine) 😉

  26. Miss Clark says:

    I was raised by an extremely punctual father so I am nearly always on time for everything. (Still, I can be very tardy in getting things done on time…)

    So, the worst excuse I have ever received for someone being late to meet me was that they were at a wedding reception and forgot that they were supposed to be picking us up to leave for a trip so we were left stranded in downtown Twin Cities for two hours. Which is actually a not totally dreadful excuse, though it feels pretty pathetic to have been totally forgotten:(

  27. Beverly says:

    Please enter me in the random drawing – I am not clever enough to make you gasp. (I do so hate words that end in asp – they just feel funny in my mouth!)

  28. Barbara Elness says:

    I was supposed to be at work at 5:00 am to complete a computer process so the warehouse crew could begin work at 6:30. I was awakened at 6:30 by my boss asking where I was – oops, set the alarm for PM instead of AM. Luckily, after talking to the help desk, it was decided I could do the process after they completed work at 12:30, so I didn’t have to rush to work. I sure felt terrible when I first woke up, thinking about how 25 people were sitting around waiting for me.
    It would be fantastic to win an ARC of The Body at the Tower.

  29. Misha says:

    Please enter me only if the contest is international.
    Once , when I just had 2 classes, I reached college so late that by the time i reached, both the classes were over!

  30. Sarah says:

    Sadly, I am one of those people that always happens to be late, even with the best intentions. I swear that I don’t *try* to drive into the worst traffic… it just happens!

    But on to one of my less proud moments… I used to run cross-country races in high school. Since we had boys and girls teams with both varsity and JV races, we would arrive at the meets early and stay there for hours while everyone ran their races. So, one day, I decided to run to the bathroom before my race. I had about 20 minutes to spare so I thought I would skip the lines at the Porto-Potties and head straight for the school’s building across the road and the extremely large parking lot.

    I tried the first set of doors, but they were locked. I found another set and let myself in. Of course, the women’s restroom was being cleaned, so I went around the corner to find another one, getting a little turned around. When I went to leave, I was a little lost and left out the wrong doors. By the time I had run around the building and the parking lot, I could see the other racers lined up across the road. I hurried, but I still missed the starting gun. I just kept running and barreled across the start line way behind the other girls.

    If this were a book or movie, I would talk about how I ran my heart out and still won the race. However, I didn’t, and my coach never let me live it down.

  31. I’m usually a prompt person, but I’m a late for this contest! Hopefully I can still be entered, but if not oh well.

    I was late for a job interview once and it had been raining so I showed up looking like a drowned rat..needless to say I did not get that job.

    I’m loving the Agency – Spy In The House by the way..just about half way through and I can’t wait to finish the rest!

  32. Oh! I hate it when I miss the ferry to Victoria, BC too! I go there about 4 times a year to visit the in-laws *shudder*, but once you miss the ferry it takes away like half the day!

  33. mahogany says:

    I was once three hours late to my own birthday party. I had decided to sleep in late and then got stuck in traffic. My friends and family were not happy.
    I am also 12 days late on this tardy contest.
    p.s. I loved A Spy in the House amd can’t wait to read A Body at the Tower.

  34. Ying says:

    So glad you enjoyed Spy! I’ll be running another giveaway in early August to celebrate the actual pub date (August 10), so maybe check back then? Set your calendar to 29 July. 😉

  35. Annie says:

    I haven’t really been late for anything, though two times I showed up at 8am at my school for Badminton, when it was cancelled! And I was the only one who showed up! Also, no one’s really given me a silly excuse for being late, but hey- at least I’m not late for this Tardy Contest! Closes June 15!

  36. Ying says:

    Hi Annie, thanks for stopping by! I’m afraid this contest closed on June 15, 2010 – so ironically, you ARE late for the Tardy Contest. 😉 But fear not – there will be more contests in the future.

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