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Nerdfighter Acoustic Jam Session

It’s all Natalie Fedewa and Brilliance Audio’s fault for introducing me to John Green, Brotherhood 2.0, and the Nerdfighters…as well as Dan John Miller (who is reading the audio of John’s new book Paper Towns) and his current band, Blanche.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Dan and John’s appearance at the Spring Lake District Library in Michigan on Monday, where Dan treated all us Nerdfighters to an impromptu performance, thus Preventing World Suck for three more minutes.

And we didn’t forget to be awesome.

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Nerdfighters Acoustic Jam Session

It’s all Natalie Fedewa and Brilliance Audio’s fault for introducing me to John Green, Brotherhood 2.0, and the Nerdfighters…as well as Dan John Miller (who is reading the audio of John’s new book Paper Towns) and his current band, Blanche.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Dan and John’s appearance at the Spring Lake District Library in Michigan on Monday, where Dan treated all us Nerdfighters to an impromptu performance, thus Preventing World Suck for three more minutes.

And we didn’t forget to be awesome.

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Angry Mail

I traveled to five states in five days, and came home to this. I tried not to cry, but my overtired self failed miserably.

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Ms. Kontis –

I finally started to read Beauty & Dynamite from the beginning rather than skimming and reading an essay here and there. I’m a little over halfway through. I’m deeply concerned that there are not enough mentions of Hypericon. I have counted eleven (11) different pages where Hypericon (Herein referred to as The Con) was not mentioned. Eleven! Not a word in any of those 11 pages! Just stab me in the heart, why don’t you!

Let’s look at the section on Andre Norton. Here is a clear example of either an unpardonable oversight or malicions …. uh, malicious….well, something really bad. How difficult would have it been for you to include Valuable and Pertinent information such as ‘Sadly, Ms. Norton was never a guest at Hypericon. She would have really enjoyed it’?

There was also a reference to food on one of these pages where The Con was (we hope unintentionally) not mentioned. Here would have been an ideal opportunity to mention that The Con also had great food. Your DragonCon report also mentioned nothing of The Con, where the lines are shorter, registration is cheaper and the hotels are far less expensive.

This book is just one disappointment after another.

Let’s now look at the table of contents. There is nothing here to indicate which essays mention The Con. Readers would naturally assume that, since there is no such indication here, The Con would be mentioned in All Of Them. Will they find The Con mentioned on every page? No! In at least 11 instances so far, they will feel Despair and Shame at being Denied!!! Don’t you care about your readers? Don’t you care? Don’t you?

I hope that these heinous attacks by omission will be rectified in your Revised 2nd edition.

I’m sure you may wish to attempt to debate the need for these corrections. You may want to point out that there are many very popular books out there who make no mention of Hypericon at all. The Bible, for example. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that The Bible was written several months before The Con. If it hadn’t been, I’ll bet The Con would have been mentioned after every Verily and Begat and Lake of Fire reference you could find. So don’t go there.

I hope these issues can be rectified without getting lawyers involved. I hope this is the case since I don’t actually have a lawyer. I know one, but he isn’t very good so I’d rather not get him involved.

Angrily
F. Grimm
Co-Chairman – The Con

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Dance, and the World Dances With You

This made me smile this morning.

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Four Minutes in Heaven

Buy this book, or the author will HIT YOU WITH A SHOVEL.

Happy birthday, Jeff. 🙂

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Happily Ever Almost

In case you missed it, Apex Digest is now online, and ready to be consumed by the masses.

My latest essay, “Almost Back” is up now. Jay Lake, Brian Keene, and Global Thermonuclear War in possibly the most personal essay I’ve ever written. What more could you ask for?

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Jay Lake had colon cancer this summer. I followed his entries on Live Journal the whole time. Everybody’s got a digital camera now, hospitals have internet access, and the miracle of YouTube made it possible for Jay to keep in touch with everyone. He reminded us how much he loves us, and gently warned the world that he was Almost Back.

I make no bones about the fact that I’ve led a fairly charmed life. Every day is an adventure, every petty person a character, every unfortunate event a story waiting to be told. Jay’s predicament stirred my old memories to the surface, things I had tied to cement blocks and tossed off the bridge a few years ago when I had my own cancer scare. A similar week in the hospital and the relieving revelation of a harmless congenital birth defect later, I had a new lease on life and a long recovery ahead.

But it wasn’t the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

Breaking up with my fiancé last fall was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Read the rest of the essay here.

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Vampire Mermaid

The origin of “Blood and Water”
Art by Nicole Cardiff


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“You’re a writer? Okay, tell me a story.”

Yeah — my eyes just rolled too. I’ve gotten this my whole life. I’ve heard it from friends and teachers. I got it from relatives who expected me to entertain their bored children. I even got it once from a computer tech support guy when I was waiting for the server at my Waldenbooks to reboot.

What the heck? Come on. I’ve never said, “You’re an accountant? Okay, do my taxes” or “You’re a dancer? Go on, let’s see a jig.”

Eventually, I learned to keep some pat stories on hand, shoved in a special mental folder I saved for just those occasions. There’s a love story about my Thea Maritza who ran from the Turks as they ethnically cleansed Smyrna…or the one about how my grandfather turned pirate during the Nazi occupation of Greece. Quality stuff at the drop of a hat.

‘Cause it’s just not that easy for me.

I was born a genius and an actress. I grew up on stage. I’ve done my share of improv (and your share, and his share, and a bit of that lady’s over there). I was surrounded by seriously hyperintelligent geeks in all my classes and was expected to hold my own with a biting wit and a wealth of trivial knowledge. You want a perfect comeback, a great conversationalist, or a frustrating debate partner? I’m your girl.

But I just can’t tell stories at the drop of a hat. I can tell you about my sister’s latest catastrophe or the funny thing that happened to me on the way to work…but if it’s fiction you want I need something. I need a seed from which to grow the flax — otherwise it’s like trying to weave a tapestry out of dandelion fluff on a windy day.

It doesn’t have to be big, either. Heck, sometimes it only takes two words.

“Blood and Water” started from such a seed: I was in Charleston one Memorial Day weekend, staying at my friend Brandi’s house. I had brought in the little chunky notebook I keep in my car for when inspiration strikes and I don’t have a junkmail envelope or Starbucks receipt or roofing flyer handy.

Brandi was flipping through it when she suddenly got a strange look on her face.
What’s a ‘vampire mermaid’?” she asked.

I took the book from her curiously. Sure enough there they were, just two words, two random thoughts at two completely different times that I just happened to scribble on the same page in close proximity. But it was a good question. What was a vampire mermaid? How would that work?

This is where “what you know” comes in. As writers, once inspired, we proceed to ask ourselves this barrage of myriad questions. We then answer those questions based on what we know. If you happen to know a lot of trivial junk, you can come up with some pretty interesting scenarios.

My brain clicked into overdrive, following the logic. A mermaid lives in the ocean: check. Vampires need blood: check. Why would a mermaid need blood? What’s under the ocean that needs blood? I mentally went back to college, my short-lived days of being a marine chemist with dreams of open waters and deep-sea submersibles.

I had been obsessed with the hydrothermal vents, in the deepest ocean where the tectonic plates meet and form fissures. Nobody ever thought there would be anything living that far down…and oh, how wrong they were. In 1979 the infamous ALVIN scoped it out and discovered entire colonies of organisms living off the toxic chemicals spewing out from the vents. There were snails, shrimp, crabs, octopuses…even giant oysters and seven-foot-tall red-plumed white tube worms with complete vascular systems.

Oh, yes…these folks don’t need sunlight, but they do need blood.

Check.

With that problem solved, I went back to the mermaid part. Now, I’m not claiming to be the Fairy Tale Queen of the Universe, but I know my way around a bit of Grimm and Andersen (and Zipes and Bettelheim). When I was ten, my grandmother gifted me with a humongous volume of unexpurgated fairy tales — thank goodness my mother never got her hands on it. Sleeping Beauty’s name was “Briar Rose,” Rapunzel got knocked up, and Cinderella’s sisters cut off pieces of their feet to squeeze into that glass slipper. I read “The Little Match Girl” and “The Little Mermaid” and cried like my heart was breaking.

And then I’d read them again.

If the only version of “The Little Mermaid” you know is Disney, then you are seriously missing out. It’s a beautiful tale. But I’ll warn you right now: the sea witch cuts out the mermaid’s tongue. The prince marries the wrong woman. The mermaid eventually drowns herself in her desolation, becoming foam on the waves. And every girl remembers how excruciatingly painful the mermaid’s transformation, so darkly was it painted.

Pain, darkness, love story: check.

The rest of the questions were just details. How does a being who has lived beneath the waves her whole life describe a candle when she has never seen fire? What does splitting her tail feel like if she’s never been cut by a knife? What is walking to a woman who has never experience land? How would she be able to spot a predator? How would she learn all these things…quickly?

And — most importantly — who would rescue her from the middle of nowhere post-transformation?

Well, that part was easy. Write what I know.

Pirates: check.

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“Blood and Water” is now available in issue 9 of IGMS.

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Ridley Pearson, Party of Five

So…we’re talking at lunch, right? (Ridley Pearson = hugely SUPER nice guy, btw) We all really hit it off, and there was never a lull in the conversation. Ridley and I are talking when they bring my salad before the meal. (Okay, *I* am talking.) And because there is little room on this table, I take Killer View (his new hardcover) off the table so they can set my salad down. (I’m still talking. Because I can multitask, right?) This creates a dilemma because the book is now in my lap, and my napkin is under my silverware. So I (still talking) economically swap them out and attend to my salad.

 
When I finish whatever the heck I’m going on about, Ridley says, “Does anyone have a cameraphone?” Well, I’ve brought my camera of course so I whip it out, flattered that he might want pictures of all of us. “…because in my 25 (or however long) years of touring, I’ve never actually seen anyone use my book as a napkin. I need to put this on my blog.”
 
*sigh*
 
So yes. Ridley Pearson loves me, and I’m going to be in his blog. Not because I researched him on the internet all morning and learned about his adopted daughter and his trip to China, not because I am a stunningly beautiful Ingram buyer and stellar conversationalist, not because we are fellow NYT bestselling authors…but because I completely, unthinkingly, used his book as a napkin.
 
I am Bridget Jones incarnate. That’s all there is to it.

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Tea in Space: The Sugar Queen

This month’s “Tea in Space” podcast is now live at the Ingram Interact website. Join us for Black Cherry Berry Tea and Oatmeal & Cranberry Cookies. Have a listen, have a laugh, come out of the closet, and fall in love with Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen.

I just finished reading next month’s opus — Alex Robinson’s graphic novel Too Cool To Be Forgotten. Fitting that my 15-year high school reunion’s in a couple of weeks. Boy, is THAT going to be a fun discussion.

And we promise to figure out what the heck was wrong with the stupid microphone.
I swear, Janet & I just totally need to buy our own and take this show on the road.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

I stopped at the ATM on the way into work this morning to deposit some desperately-needed checks. Overwhelmed as I was by the world yesterday, I had passed out ridiculously early and gotten a decadent night’s sleep. (Not Woodthrush Woods decadent, but nice enough.) So when a tall woman entered through the glass door and said, “How are you this morning?” It occurred to me to answer properly.

I’ve been trying harder to be more selfish about some things and more selfless about others — this greeting is one of them. In Tennessee there’s sort of a protocol. This question, once posed, elicits one of two answers: “Fine” or “Fine, how ’bout yourself?” The first is selfish. The second is proper and respectful. I gave the second.

“You know, I was talking to the man at the gas station this morning…”

Oh right. That’s why I’m usually selfish in the morning. Because I’m a story magnet, and I usually can’t process this much information before 8:00 am. But since today already felt like a better day than yesterday, I indulged her while I licked my envelope and punched in my code.

“…and I asked him the same question. He said, ‘Every day I wake up in the morning and I say to myself, “I CHOOSE to have a good day this morning.” Because I have the power to make that choice.’ So, I believe I choose to have a good day today.”

“I like that,” I told her honestly. “I believe I choose to have a good day as well.” And suddenly, I did. The rest of the crazy world could go to hell and wait on me to catch up.

What kind of day do you choose to have today?

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