Spoleto Events

Every year when I come down for Spoleto’s kickoff, I try and make it to at least one of the events that Soteria and Charles are ushering. In doing so I’ve seen some amazing things–from the Alvin Ailey dance troupe to some very interesting performance art about a rabbit. This year I have tickets to two events: Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, and the opera Philemon and Baucis, performed by the Colla Marionette Company.

As you can imagine, I’m ridiculously excited about both events. (And yes, the Drag Queen Ballet is supposed to be amusing.)

And there’s today, of course — the event I’m participating in — the Children’s Festival in Marion Square. It runs from 10-3 but I will be there starting at 11am. The weather has thunderstorms forecasted for today and it’s currently raining outside…but that’s Charleston. Judging by how this week has gone, it will be over in an hour and we’ll have a beautiful day ahead of us.

For those of you not at Spoleto, I feel very sad for you. But I hope you enjoy your weekend anyway!

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I’m working on novel revisions (on top of working at Dixie Dunbar Studio all this week), so please forgive sporadic blogging. I do have a lost of topics I want to cover…if I can manage to get to them before I pass out every night.

In the meantime, please check out The Audie Award Winners from last night’s ceremony.

I was there last year and had the time of my life. Champagne, great food, awesome people, amazing talent. I was very sorry I couldn’t make it this year. (I’m a judge for the awards.) Congrats to all the winners!

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They’re Watching Your Madness

On my road trip down to Charleston I saw it again — the sign that always catches my eye when driving the 495/Capital Beltway around DC — “Aggressive Driver Imaging in Use.”

What the heck does that mean, anyway? It brings to mind hidden nanocameras everywhere zooming in on your body language while some Tim Roth “Lie To Me”-type facial recognition program decides if you’re just too upset to drive.

I had Soteria write this down on a note at the shop so I would remember to look it up when I got here. So hat does the sign mean? The Washington Post’s Answer Man actually did a fairy decent article on the experiment. From what I gather, the cameras are mounted on police vehicles you might see on the side of the highway along these stretches.

What these cameras do, if you are caught being an “aggressive driver” (using these criteria), is take a picture of your license plate. The plate is run through a computer, and the registration holder is sent a letter explaining that the vehicle was being operated in an unsafe manner. You could be fined, and you could have points taken off on your license.

I get it. I think it’s a good idea. Some of these drivers being jerks are putting all of us at risk by trying to get home five minutes early.

However, I do have one beef with the criteria — passing a car on the right is used as one of the checkpoints for aggressive driving. Dude…have you been on a road trip in the last ten years? Drivers in America seem to pick a lane arbitrarily and stay there until the spirit moves them. Yes, if I’m behind some moron going 10-miles-under in the far left lane who won’t move over after being flashed, I’m going to pass him. I’m probably going to have a dirty look on my face. I may even be a little pissed off…perhaps just shy of aggressive. But the guy who needs to get the ticket is THE JERK WHO WON’T MOVE OVER. Dear Mr. Jerk: please do us all a favor and get back in the right lane.

But that’s another rant, for another time. In the meantime, drive safely and have a great summer.

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Only A Sister

If you have a sister (or similar close-in-age sibling with whom you spent your formative years in the trenches), you will recognize this scenario.



It is late Saturday night. ALETHEA has just arrived in Charleston after a not-so-grueling-but-still-eight-hour drive down the Eastern Seaboard. SOTERIA and CHARLES have offered her a seat and a drink. ALETHEA accepts both.

CHARLES: So what’s the plan for tomorrow?

ALETHEA: (still road-weary) Plans. Yes, plans are good.

SOTERIA: (sings) “Because planning ahead’s the one and only way.” (Looks at ALETHEA) I say that all the time. What the heck is that from?

ALETHEA: (without missing a beat) The Lolliwinks.

CHARLES: The What?

ALETHEA: Lolliwinks. (to SOTERIA) You remember, that LP we had. They were like a cross between Leprechauns and Smurfs. My favorite song was “When I Paint the World.” Or “Misty Morning.” (starts singing) “Misty morning, misty morning, we will sing the blues away…”

SOTERIA: Oh my god. You’re totally right. I can’t believe you remember that. How did the rest of the planning song go?

CHARLES: (who has been madly Googling) You can buy the Lolliwinks LP for a hundred bucks.

ALETHEA: Ooch. So much for obscure childhood memories. Too bad — I’d like to hear some of those songs again.

SOTERIA: “Planning ahead is…” Oh nuts, I can’t remember it. How does it go?

CHARLES, who has Mad Google Foo, starts playing “Planning Ahead.” He has found the entire album online at this website to download for free. SOTERIA and ALETHEA start dancing around and half-singing, filling in the blanks in their memories and renewing those neural pathways all cobwebby with decades-old dust.

CHARLES: I always wanted to live in a musical.

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Happy Almost-Spoleto!

It’s that time of year…time for Charleston’s annual Piccolo Spoleto Festival! It always starts on Memorial Day weekend — this year it runs from May 28th to June 13th.

The combination of historic Charleston’s old European charm and the world-class Spoleto Festival USA together produce a unique and impacting synergy for all who come to the city by the sea to experience this magnificent international multi arts festival. But what really adds the ingredient of magic to the mix is Piccolo Spoleto, which provides access to the festival for Every Person, especially children. Focusing primarily on artists of the Southeast region, Piccolo Spoleto is the perfect complement to the international scope of its parent festival and its 700 events in 17 days, transforms Charleston into an exhilarating celebration of performing, literary and visual arts. Piccolo Spoleto’s traditional program offerings include visual arts exhibits, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, poetry readings, children’s activities, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts, and film.

I will be making an appearance at the Charleston Public Library booth at the Children’s Festival in Marion Square this Saturday. Click here for more details. I will have AlphaOops and H: is for Halloween to read, and there will be fun activity handouts, as well as everything else fun for the kids to do at a festival!

I love being in Charleston for Spoleto. It’s like coming home…

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Triangle Wins

Last night we went to a very strange venue to see Charles’ friend Lizzie Wright play. It was a very intimate show, meaning that we all ended up with musical instruments. I totally snagged the Triangle. Cause everyone knows: Triangle Man always wins.

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Road Trip

Going down to Charleston today — gonna run Soteria’s shop for a while. If you need me, I’ll be at Dixie Dunbar’s Studio, 192 King Street.

And then…Hypericon!!

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

New reviews!

Title: Swords & Dark Magic: The New Swords & Sorcery
Editors: Lou Anders & Jonathan Strahan
EAN: 9780061723810

Ah, Summertime. The time for cookouts and beach balls and lemonade. For bibliophiles, it’s the time of mass-market paperbacks and anthologies. Why lug Umbert Eco into your hammock when you could have a relaxing love story, a swashbuckling swordfight, a puzzling mystery . . . or — let’s go crazy — all three? (Read more)

Title: The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker
Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
EAN: 9780843962970

As some of you might remember from an earlier review, I was a pretty huge fan of Leanna Renee Hieber’s debut Percy Parker novel. In her sophomore effort, The Darkly Luminous Tale of Percy Parker, similar fans will not be disappointed. Newcomers to the series will not be left in the dark (pun intended), and can look upon the first title as a prequel of sorts. While Darkly Luminous does start out with Percy having been recognized as the reincarnation of the goddess Persephone and taking her place as the seventh member of The Guard, we finally get to see The Guard in action for the first time — working together like a bunch of Victorian Ghostbusters… (Read more)

Title: Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight
Author: Cat Rambo
EAN: 9780979534959

The story of how this book has followed me on my travels for the past six months is almost as diverse and diverting as the collection itself. Lawrence at Paper Golem sent me a gorgeous ARC, which I promptly buried on my dining room table and discovered again while cleaning the house. When I ran away from home shortly after, it was one of three books (the others being a Greek cookbook and Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword) that came with me in my $70 suitcase to Wisconsin. It came with me on my several-week multiple-state road trip over the Christmas holidays, and it was in the first wave of carloads when I moved to DC a couple of months later. At this point, I can honestly say that Cat makes as lovely a copilot as she does a dinner companion. As a short story maven, of course, she blows both of those away… (Read more)

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Steampunk in Sepia

Last week was the first annual Steampunk World’s Fair, held in Piscataway, New Jersey. I so, so, so wish I could have gone. Luckily, my Best Beloved peeps Leanna Renee Hieber and Stephen Segal were there to represent. Leanna posted the link to a gorgeous convention album by photographer Tony Romeo called “Steampunk in Sepia.” Because, really, what else would Steampunk should be shot in?

Lovely Leanna. There is mischief in those eyes…

And since you asked: Why, yes, I do have a sepia steampunk portrait of my own — it was taken for the Clockwork Jungle issue of Shimmer. (Courtesy of Steven Gould)

Where’s your steampunk pic?

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10 Tips for Marketing Your Book Online

My dear friend, bestselling thriller author J.T. Ellison, recently posted “10 Tips for Marketing Your Book Online.” In a world where banks have started holding payroll checks because so many of them are bouncing, online marketing’s a particularly savvy tool that all writers should investigate.

Most importantly, J.T. includes the most important piece of advice that should be on every list: Don’t Be a Jerk. (She calls it “Be Polite.” She’s nicer than me. Sometimes.)

You might recognize J.T. from her weekly contributions to the blog…or from the books on your shelf…or from seeing us pal around Nashville…or at The Edge, where she and I both patronize the same hairdresser (because Angie ROCKS).

Know the other cool thing I stole from J.T.’s site? This button. Have you donated to Nashville Flood relief yet? You should. Even if it’s only ten bucks. Just because you don’t hear about it anymore doesn’t mean everything’s all new and shiny again. Trust me. It’s not.

(J.T. does live in Nashville — I was worried about her when the Internet of Middle Tennessee went down and she could only send desperate emails from her phone. She (and her home and her loved ones) thankfully survived intact.)

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