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Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome

So here’s how this all got started:

It was a few weeks before Christmas, and my very good friend Janet Lee, who is a local artist, was suddenly the hottest thing since sliced bread. The arthouse in East Nashville (Art & Invention) where she sells her ornaments, cards, and paintings, couldn’t keep her stuff on the shelves. In an effort to help Janet out (and to get some free art lessons out of the deal), I invited myself over to Janet’s house to participate in what we began calling "Ornament Gulag." I painted all the wood, cut all the scrapbook paper, decoupaged the paper on, and drilled the holes. She drew miniatures of whatever inspired her at the moment, and glued them to the prepped ornament. We made a ton. She sold them all.

While we painted and glued, we spoke about many things, including the launch of this new Twitter magazine Thaumatrope. I had sold a few stories already, and I was having far too much fun coming up with worlds and plotlines 140 characters long.

As payment for my services that evening (because she refused to let me go empty-handed), I requested she make me an ornament for my tree. (I have Janet Lee original ornaments going back about 5 or 6 years now.) She asked me what I’d like — last year gnomes were the hot ticket, and she used my garden gnome Seamus as a model. I didn’t hesitate.

"I’d like a Dr. Horrible Gnome," I said.

When I got back home, I immediately wrote a Thaumatrope tweet that started: "Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome: Day One" and submitted it.

The next day, I got an email from Nathan at Thaumatrope that said, "I’d like to talk to you about your Gnome story."

Really? Seriously…it’s not 140-characters. What’s to talk about? Your EMAIL was longer than that story. Not wanting to mince words, I replied in exactly the way you should not reply to a publisher. Two words only. "What’s up?"

Turns out, Nathan thought that Dr. Gnome had potential. He was about to launch a serial post-apocalyptic Twitter story (#FutureJer) and thought this would be a great follow-up. Make it a month long. You’re welcome to more than one tweet a day. It’s due before March. Send me a synopsis. Go.

My brain went back to what ad inspired the tweet to begin with: Janet’s art. When I read to her the synopsis the next day, she just about fell out of her chair laughing. When I sent it to Nathan, he approved it immediately…and suggested I blog about the whole adventure.

But Janet & I couldn’t leave it at that. Inspired in turn by hanging out with Steven Segal at Dragon*Con and hearing about Weird Tales and their 365 days of Blasphemous Horrors, we decided to make that our model. "Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome" (#DrGnome) will launch at Thaumatrope on March 1st (start following now, so you don’t miss anything!). Also on March first, Janet will begin posting–at least once a day–a one-of-a-kind ornament with an original drawing based on that day’s tweet.

The ornaments will be available for sale ($15-18) on her Etsy site. I’ll try to post them in a timely fashion on my blog as well, but the purchase is first-come, first-served.

I am SO EXCITED. I’ve turned in the full serial (it’s written on a EXCEL spreadsheet) and sent her the tweets so that she can get a head start. I can’t WAIT to see what she comes up with. It’s going to be a hell of a lot of fun. Heck, it already has been!

So, to sum up:
Follow "Diary of a Mad Scientist Garden Gnome" here (#DrGnome)
Purchase awesome, affordable, original artwork based on each day’s story here.

Ready…Set…GO!

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How To Play the Musical Saw

While in Chattanooga for Mary Robinette Kowal’s birthday bash, Ken Harrison (Mary’s esteemed father) played his saw for us. He also gave us a brief tutorial on how one plays the musical saw, and I caught it on camera.

The bonus bit at the end is for all my fellow Trekkies out there.

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A Girl Walks Into a Coffee Shop…

Last night, in my continuing efforts to NOT GO HOME so I can FINISH THIS NOVEL, I parked myself at a local Starbucks and rudely eavesdropped on the conversation of Nashville photographer Steve Harman. Student of life that all authors are, I was intrigued by his approach to photography, the questions he asked during the interview with his client, and his repeated emphasis on storytelling, with his subject as the main character.

After the client left, I owned up to my rudeness, introduced myself, and asked for his card. I’m going to be asked for a professional author photo one of these days…and I should probably come up with one that wasn’t taken at a convention. And, as always, everyone gets bonus karma points for supporting local artists.

In the meantime, click on over to Steve’s website and check out some great pics. (I only wish there were more.)

(P.S. — YES, MOM, I got almost 1200 words down. You’ll have Chapter 17 in your hot little hands soon enough. )

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You Don’t See This Every Day


"We forgot the Colombian coffee!"

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Beauty & Dynamite Available at Fictionwise

If you’re into that sort of thing, click here and check it out.



Meet Alethea Kontis, a self-proclaimed Genre Chick whose life is an adventure that tears through these pages like a hurricane. Carrot-a-day cancer cures and Murphy as a guardian angel (yes, that Murphy, the guy with all those irritating laws) are just a part of the daily routine for the Incredible Whirlwind of Beauty and Dynamite, the force of nature masquerading in human form. Through essays, poetry, and commentary from family, friends, and famous authors alike, a world of Blood Oaths and road trips, broken hearts and mended cars, comes alive with the strength of one woman’s conviction that the world is there to be befriended. You have now been introduced. Let your adventure begin.

Don’t forget, you can always get the pretty-picture-filled hard copy straight from the publisher. (He might even have some signed ones left, if you’re lucky!)

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Beauty & Dynamite Available on Fictionwise

If you’re into that sort of thing, click here and check it out.



Meet Alethea Kontis, a self-proclaimed Genre Chick whose life is an adventure that tears through these pages like a hurricane. Carrot-a-day cancer cures and Murphy as a guardian angel (yes, that Murphy, the guy with all those irritating laws) are just a part of the daily routine for the Incredible Whirlwind of Beauty and Dynamite, the force of nature masquerading in human form. Through essays, poetry, and commentary from family, friends, and famous authors alike, a world of Blood Oaths and road trips, broken hearts and mended cars, comes alive with the strength of one woman’s conviction that the world is there to be befriended. You have now been introduced. Let your adventure begin.

Don’t forget, you can always get the pretty-picture-filled hard copy straight from the publisher. (He might even have some signed ones left, if you’re lucky!)

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Hugo Reminder

I’ll be entering my nominations today or tomorrow. Have you submitted yours?

For your nominating convenience:

* Awards pimpage of my own work:
         Short Story: "Blood & Water" — read for free at IGMS until March 31st
         Related Work: Beauty & Dynamite, Apex Publications

* SF Awards Watch with their recommendation lists.

* Writertopia with the Campbell eligible list.

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Music for Your Morning

I fell in love with a song this morning. And then I fell in love with the video. (How could I not?!?)

Happy Monday, everybody. xox

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Damn the Dreamers

I started sketching in front of the TV yesterday. I finished the painting today. I call it "The Dream-Haired Woman." Thanks to my new friend J.T. Ellison and the half-hour drive home from Sherlock’s, there’s a whole story that goes along with that. I know exactly how I want to start my next piece.

HOWEVER — I received a call from my mother this morning, irate that I didn’t send her the chapter that I promised her on Thursday. I’m finishing that up right now. But I’m not allowed to paint for another week.

I love my mom. In four more chapters, so will my agent.
And so will you.


(Click picture for larger image)

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Saturday Afternoon at Sherlock’s

Because Ingram doesn’t allow us access to Facebook email anymore, I’d been remiss about returning a note from fabulous local thriller author J.T. Ellison. So when I found out she was part of the Mystery Writers Convention being held today at Sherlock’s Books I said to myself, "Self, get your butt out of this house and go be polite. Who knows? Best case: you make a new friend. Worst case: you can get some writing done in the coffee shop."

Happily, it turned out to be the best case.

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