And I'm Back

Three years ago I left this journal, thinking I no longer needed it. But lately I find myself wanting a way to be more expressive than Facebook or Twitter allow. So I'm coming back.

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I still love this journal, but it seems that more and more folks are wandering away for other platforms. So from now on, I'll occasionally post here, but the vast majority of blog writing is going to my own site - Feel free to drop by!

The Next Big Thing!

Last week Gail Z. Martin ( and L Jagi Lamplighter ( me on their blogs, as part of a chain of authors called THE NEXT BIG THING. Today it's my turn to reciprocate and to pass on the torch. I'm going to answer questions about my new project. Then I'm going to tag five wonderful authors who will tell you about their Next Big Thing.

What is the working title of your next book?
There Was A Crooked Man

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The original germ of the idea came from a character I was playing in a D&D game, but it grew into something concrete when I heard a fairly obscure country song called "A Different Kind of Knight". A verse in that song resonated with me, and vividly defined the character I was writing.

What genre does your book fall under?
It's a fantasy set in the Nebraska Territory during the Reconstruction years. It's not quite steampunk, but it's not quite weird western either. There's a gunslinger and magic and Native Americans and voodoo and elves and electricity...I suppose you could call it westernpunk.

If you found yourself in an elevator with a movie director you admire and had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?
"Please make my book into a movie?????" *laughs* Seriously, I'd probably start with the seven-second pitch - "Saddle up, because there's magic and lost love and more electricity than is good for anyone." If I caught his attention, I'd share a few more details, hoping to spark his interest. And then I'd probably mention that I make awesome cookies and if he decided to make a movie from my book, he'd earn himself a lifetime supply of homemade chocolate chips. You think that'd work?

Every writer dreams of their book being turned in a movie or a TV show like Game of Thrones. If this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?
The song I mentioned earlier was written and recorded by actor and singer Christian Kane, and honestly, I could see him playing the lead in "Crooked Man". He's got the right look and he's very talented.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Actually, it isn't finished yet.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of the book?
Sebastien De Vanagale spent fifteen years learning to wield the magical power he never asked to receive and searching for the daughter he lost, but now his past is catching up to him.

And here are the authors I'd like to introduce, and who you can follow when they answer the Next Big Thing questions...

Charlotte Babb, the author of Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name – although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter.

Tera Fulbright is a short story author whose works can be found in anthologies such as Spells & Swashbucklers and Rum & Runestones. She is currently working on her first novel.

Linda Escalera Price is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced across the country from LA to off-off-Broadway. She blogs with four other writers (fiction, short fiction, YA and screenwriting) at

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Yesterday was opening day of the Carolina Renaissance Faire. I had a wonderful time. But I feel like someone beat me all over with bamboo sticks.

I think I'll call this the Renaissance festival workout.
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Twelve Easy Ways You Can Drive A Librarian To Drink

1. When she asks if you want your checkout receipt, ask her a question that has nothing to do with your receipt.

2. After she answers the random question and asks you again if you'd like your receipt, look at her as if she's stupid and say, "Didn't I just say I did?"

3. Wait three weeks to come pick up your hold books, then pitch a fit because they've been sent back to the original library or moved on to the next person in line.

4. Tell the librarian you'd like to pay a fine, and when she asks for your library card, say, "Nobody ever told me I needed my library card to come here!"

5. Stomp out to your car to get your library card, then throw it at the librarian when you come back inside.

6. Ask the librarian to print you a list of all the books you checked out in the last year. Become indignant when she can't provide that information.

7. At five minutes to closing time, hand the librarian a list of short story titles with no authors' names, and insist that you need all of those for class the next day. Tell her it will be her fault if your teacher flunks you.

8. Use your paycheck as a bookmark, then leave it in the book when you return it. Call the library a few days later to ask where your check is. Be sure and forget the title and author of the book you were reading.

9. Ask to apply for a library card but bring no ID with you. Grouse that the library's policies are ridiculous.

10. Return a book dripping wet from being left outside in the rain. Refuse to pay for the damage, since "it's only a book."

11. When the librarian tells you you've got fines over the maximum amount and you must pay them before you can check out anything else, demand to know when the library started charging fines.

12. Insist that the librarian do whatever kooky thing you're demanding because your taxes pay her salary.
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Fifty Favorite Books

Joe Hill posted his favorite fifty books today, and others have been joining the fun. Fifty, though...that's an awful lot of books, don't you think? Or maybe not. Here are my fifty favorite novels, in no particular order of preference. I'm not going to add any sort of summary, so you'll just have to trust that each one is written with aplomb and beauty. *laughs* Feel free to share your own.

1. The Anubis Gates - Tim Powers
2. On Stranger Tides - Tim Powers
3. Last Call - Tim Powers
4. Expiration Date - Tim Powers (Don't worry, I do like other authors as well.)
5. The Dark Is Rising - Susan Cooper
6. The Grey King - Susan Cooper
7. The Initiate - Louise Cooper (no relation to Susan, I'm pretty sure.)
8. The Outcast - Louise Cooper
9. The Master - Louise Cooper
10. The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys - Mick Farren
11. The Touch - F Paul Wilson
12. The Tomb - F Paul Wilson
13. The Keep - F Paul Wilson
14. Nightworld - F Paul Wilson (I mean no disrespect, but I prefer the original version.)
15. A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters
16. Camber of Culdi - Katherine Kurtz
17. Saint Camber - Katherine Kurtz
18. Camber the Heretic - Katherine Kurtz
19. Nine Princes in Amber - Roger Zelazny (I named my son after my favorite prince.)
20. A Night in the Lonesome October - Roger Zelazny
21. Jack of Shadows - Roger Zelazny
22. Dune - Frank Herbert (I originally read this book in order to impress a boy in high school. Loved the book, forgot about the boy.)
23. King of the Wind - Marguerite Henry
24. Misty of Chincoteague - Marguerite Henry (I spent several years in childhood convinced my parents had named me after the pony. I was slightly disappointed to learn I was named for the song instead.)
25. The Gunslinger - Stephen King
26. Sweet Silver Blues - Glen Cook
27. Walker of Worlds - Tom DeHaven
28. Flight to the Lonesome Place - Alexander Key (the first writer to whom I wrote a fan letter, and he wrote back. I still have that old letter - meant the world to me.)
29. Soulsmith - Tom Deitz
30. Wordwright - Tom Deitz
31. Dreambuilder - Tom Deitz
32. Sandman Slim - Richard Kadrey
33. A Madness of Angels - Kate Griffin
34. The Devil You Know - Mike Carey
35. The Naming of the Beasts - Mike Carey
36. Snow Crash - Neil Stephenson
37. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
38. Harpy's Flight - Megan Lindholm
39. Mad Ship - Robin Hobb
40. Stormbringer - Michael Moorcock
41. Neuromancer - William Gibson
42. Idoru - William Gibson
43. Swords and Deviltry - Fritz Leiber
44. Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Edgar Allan Poe
45. Captain Blood - Rafael Sabatini
46. Missing Melinda - Jacqueline Jackson
47. Villains by Necessity - Eve Forward
48. Tea With the Black Dragon - R A MacAvoy
49. Thieves' World - Robert Asprin
50. Mad Kestrel - Misty Massey (hey, if I don't love my own book, who will?)
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Wow, this is a weird feeling. I just turned down a signing opportunity because I didn't like the physical setup. I was invited to participate in the Carolina Renaissance Faire's third annual Literary Weekend, but they were putting us outside the front gates, where people walk past but do not buy. So I declined.

My first step on the road to divahood. Where's my feather boa, damn it?
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So that was sudden...the Westin opened up reservations, so in a wild rush of peer pressure, I have a reservation for next year's DragonCon.

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    quixotic quixotic

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We're home again. DragonCon was lots of fun. I was able to serve on some panels, and I shared a reading with Faith Hunter. I made some great professional connections, visited with several good friends and even cosplayed a character for the first time (Eva from 'Hell On Wheels'). We had a couple of amazing meals at a lovely new restaurant called White Oak Kitchen, and last night we capped our weekend by dancing at the Mechanical Masquerade to the tunes of Meagan Jean and the KFB.

I haven't decided if I'm going back next year, though. The Marriott is instituting a new policy for next year's reservations. A one-night non-refundable deposit will be charged the day you make your reservation, and reservations cannot be transferred to another person. In other words, if you make a reservation and then discover in January that you can't go, you're out 200.00, and your cancelled room can't go to another congoer. It will be returned to the regular rack rate, which 399.00 a night. I understand that the hotel has to look out for itself, but this seems a little extreme to me.

So I'm not worrying about it today. I had a super weekend, and I'm utterly exhausted.
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When I was sixteen years old, my sister and I spent two weeks with my grandparents in Florida. One afternoon my grandpa dropped us off at a local park. He and Grandma were going grocery shopping, and would be back in two hours to pick us up. It was hot, but the park was shady, and I found a bench to sit on and read while my little sister played with the other kids. There were probably fifty other children running around, accompanied by moms, dads and sitters. I was happily reading when a man sat down next to me. He was in his thirties, and for some reason he started talking to me, as people do when you're reading and would prefer to be left alone. I was polite - raised that way, you know - but something about him was making my skin crawl, and I kept wishing he'd just go away. Finally he asked how old I was, and I told him. He leaned back, made an ummmm noise and said 'You sure aren't built like a sixteen year old.'

I'll admit it, I panicked. I was surrounded by strangers and I didn't know how to ask any of them for help. The guy hadn't actually done anything except talk, so I couldn't imagine anyone would have seen me as anything but an hysterical teenager. So I did the only thing I could think of - I slapped my book closed, collected my sister and started to walk back to my grandparents' house a mile away. It was a dumb move, because that man could so easily have followed me, but thank goodness, he didn't. 33 years later, whenever I think of that day, the fear returns, as strong as ever. If someone says I'm built, I feel nauseated. Men who resemble that guy engender an automatic flight response in me. He never laid a hand on me, but he managed to overpower me just the same.

I share this story because I can't stop thinking of all the women who've been having to suffer for the last few days. If all this talk about whether rape is legitimate or not is bothering me, I can't begin to imagine the hell being experienced by women who suffered far worse at the hands of some power-hungry asswipe. Men who truly have no dog in the fight are making distinctions on what is and isn't rape, and making up nonsense about how a woman's body functions without even a thought. Then when they're called on their lunacy, they backtrack and say they misspoke. The men who stand with them, even without making stupid statements, are just as bad.

You didn't misspeak, gentlemen. You said what you meant. I have not forgotten the fear that gripped me all those years ago - believe me when I tell you I will not forget your horrible words, either.
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