13 Little Blue Reasons

I finished Maureen Johnson’s The Last Little Blue Envelope this morning at the bookstore. The premise of the book is this: Virginia (the main character) spent all last summer hopping around Europe (starting in England), following the instructions in thirteen little blue envelopes her artistic Aunt Peg left her before she died of cancer. Only in Greece, before she had a chance to read letter number thirteen, her backpack was stolen. This story begins when she is contacted by Oliver, a boy in England who somehow found the letters and wants to get them back to her. Now, Ginny finally has the chance to read (and comply with) that last little blue envelope.

Ironically, the bookstore closed last night when I was on the last chapter. I thought to myself, “Oh, I have to open first thing in the morning. I won’t lug this book all the way home just for one chapter. I’ll just finish it in the morning when I have time.”

Which led to me being annoyed all night. I even had dreams about how the book might have almost ended. Coupled with a migraine and insomnia, this is not something I’d recommend to any of you in the future. But I will tell you–I now have an inking of how Virginia felt when she couldn’t get her hands on that little blue letter.

Overall, I found The Last Little Blue Envelope highly enjoyable. I’m not jumping up and down saying it was the best book I’ve ever read, but it was a lot of fun, and I’ll go see when they make it into a movie. (Isn’t that always the way these days?) While the writing for the most part was concise and moved the story along (a trait that many authors are forgetting–thank you, Maureen), there were a couple of lines that jumped out at me:

“Painting, writing. Both just stains on the page.”

“We have the mad one here. Strange things seem to find her. She’s like a party in your pocket.”

Books like this make me want to do a complete 180 and leave fairyland to write contemporary YA…but I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet. We’ll see. Right now, I’ll just be glad that I have John Green and Maureen Johnson to keep me occupied.

And, goodness, how reading this book made me miss England. Maureen is there right now (I stalk her on Twitter), and I am excessively jealous. Yes, I am very glad I didn’t marry that lying, cheating citizen of the United Kingdom I was engaged to that one time, but a part of me is still sad that I had to lose a country in the breakup. I miss my England, with its cream tea and its traffic circles that go clockwise. I still have friends there, and a promise of a football game and Guy Fawkes Day…and Dulles airport is RIGHT HERE and I’m so incredibly tempted sometimes to break my bank and hop over the pond just to wave and play hopscotch on the cobblestones and throw a penny in Trafalgar Square fountain and fly right back home again.

But, unlike that Virginia, I do not have thirteen blue excuses and a tidy little bank account. So for the meantime, I will stay here in this Virginia and enjoy the bookstore’s weighty population of British customers, and dream.

Assuming I can sleep tonight.

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They Won!!!

Janet & Jim just won the Eisner for Best Graphic Album (New). Squeeeeeeee!! Let the happy dancing commence.

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2011 Eisner Awards

The 2011 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards will be announced tonight. I have to work all day long, and I will be chomping at the bit and checking my phone every five minutes until I hear the results.

For those of you who don’t know why, here it is: “Topping the 2011 nominees with 5 nominations is Return of the Dapper Men, a fantasy hardcover by writer Jim McCann and artist Janet Lee, published by Archaia. It has nods for Best Publication for Teens, Best Graphic Album–New, Best Writer, Best Artist, and Best Publication Design.”

For once in my life, I am seriously bummed that I can’t be at SDCC this year. Not for the crowds or the swag or the “Oh my gosh, I met ___ in line for the bathroom!”, but because of this awards ceremony.

I was there with a cadre of Codexians when my dear Mary Robinette Kowal won the John W. Campbell Award, and I was similarly on my feet applauding and cheering when Eric James Stone walked up to receive his Nebula earlier this summer. Janet and Jim know that I will be there in spirit, with my glittery dress and tiara on, hands red from clapping and voice sore from yelling over and over.

It is FIVE AWARDS, after all.


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Redneck Ninjas

I’ve always been proud of my friends, long before we were US. I knew we were all destined for greatness, not just me, like the psychics had said. We were going to be doctors and lawyers and surgeons and politicians and artists, and we were going to rule the world. Our ovens just hadn’t preheated yet.

Drew Bates and I didn’t know each other very well back in middle school, but I think we went on a couple ALERT trips together, and we had a few really good friends in common. We talk a lot more now than we ever did. Thanks to Facebook, I discovered that we share the same birthday. (Something about us 1-11 babies…) I also discovered that in 2007, Drew was in a car wreck that left him a quadriplegic. Has that stopped him from making things happen? Of course not. Because we are amazing, and we always have been.

Earlier this year, Drew took advantage of the Kickstarter program to pitch his animated series REDNECK NINJAS to Hollywood. He ended up getting far more than the $8000 he’d planned for (Go, Drew!) and then used the money to work up the art and animation necessary. Here’s the pilot teaser for your watching enjoyment:

Kickstarter has this to say about Drew:

Drew Bates was a dreamer, always with his head in the clouds. His friends and family described him as…Unique. Then one day, he discovered he could make a really cool robot voice by speaking into his drinking cup. With sounds bellowing in his ears, he thought, “I want to do this everyday.” He watched countless science fiction movies, and cartoons, played video games, read Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and National Geographic, until he found a sci-fi book at a school book-fair about robots.

Drew bought that book, devouring its content. He took it to school, showing it to everyone that would look. Alas, since most 5th graders weren’t into it, he tried sharing it with his teachers; only his English teacher responded. “Do a book report about it,” she boringly replied. So he set out to writing his report, and when he got to the end, he realized that it wasn’t enough. After collecting his thoughts, he searched the house for supplies, and went to his father’s garage possessed, like a hell-bent mad-scientist in his laboratory. Using a cardboard box, a shoe-box, wood strips, coat-hanger wire, wooden dowels, wagon wheels, Plexiglas, nuts, bolts, nails, silver and red spray paint, even a light-switch, bulb and receptacle, he created a robot. Then using a tape-cassette recorder, he performed his book report using his robot voice, and ad-libbing “if you don’t give Drew an A, I, the robot, will destroy you.”

Drew founded UniquePublications LLC in 2006 to create spec animation concepts. Not your average concepts, but…Unique.

All I can add is that Drew is a fabulously talented and amazing person, and I am so glad that I’ve been able to get to know him better since we’ve graduated. I am incredibly proud of him and can’t support him enough.

To find out more about Drew and his projects, visit the UniquePublicationsLLC website. For updates on Redneck Ninjas specifically, check out the Kickstarter page. You can also friend Drew on Facebook (but be quick about it — he has more friends than *I* do).

To learn more about the Quad Fund (a not-for-profit fund to help those with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) or other disability) visit Drew’s information page here.

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Bubba’s Triple-B

If anyone needs a reason why I love Eddie, this is tops on the list.

(The promo is for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s YA books, if you’re not already familiar with them.)

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

New reviews are up at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show!

Title: Rejiggering the Thingamajig
Author: Eric James Stone
EAN: 0979534992

I absolutely loved reading this book. For me, Rejiggering the Thingamajig wasn’t just a collection of brilliant stories by an author so funny and clever it makes me angry sometimes, it was a trip down memory lane. I’ve been a fan of Eric James Stone’s since Day One, literally. As you’ll discover in his afterword to “Betrayer of Trees,” I sat across from Eric during Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp when he presented his first draft of this story . . . and okay, I did threaten to slap his characters. But what everyone likes to forget is that I began my critique with, “This was about magic and trees, so you had me at hello.” And then came the infamous “But . . .”

However, ladies and gentlemen, please let the record show that Eric James Stone had me at hello. (Read more…)


Title: The Kitchen Daughter
Author: Jael McHenry
EAN: 9781439191699

I found The Kitchen Daughter by chance, on a shelf in the bookstore. I was scanning the fiction section as opposed to the sci-fi & fantasy corner, since I was in the mood for something a little more mainstream, a little more . . . magical realism. I honestly had no idea what was out there, but this book, face out, caught my eye after only about thirty seconds of looking. I had just ordered a book for a man’s wife that morning called The Kitchen House, and the coincidence of the title made me pick this one up. When I read the inside dust jacket, I knew it was exactly the book for me.

The best way to describe Jael McHenry’s debut novel is that it’s a cross between Sarah Addison Allen’s subtle magic fiction and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time(Read more…)

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TODAY ONLY – 50% of DDS Jewelry

TODAY ONLY — which means click on this link now — Living Social is featuring Dixie Dunbar Studio as their Deal of the Day.

I still have yet to learn about how Living Social works, but I think if you get the deal, and then share the deal, and then three of your friends get the deal you’ve shared, you get it for free.

I’ll tell you right now, I’m not sharing the deal for my own personal profit (because my sister is the proprietor), BUT YOU SHOULD! Please do! Go forth and multiply!

Also, in the fine print, it *does* say “in store only”. But why on earth would you let that stop you? Pop on over to the website right now and treat yourself to some really nice & affordable earrings. You deserve them. And they make great gifts (which also justifies you buying a pair for yourself)!

Support the arts! Support independent shop owners! Support people who share my DNA!

(And, if you click on the link, you will also find out what really awesome film star will be sporting DDS jewelry to promote her new movie…)

I would say have a lovely Monday, but Mondays typically suck. Make your Monday suck less. Go get yourself something shiny, share a great deal, and make the world a better place. *hugs*

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You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Yes, Blood Oath is actually available.

The movie that I wrote about in Beauty and Dynamite has finally — after almost ten years — been released from Troma Films.

You can order it via Amazon (from which I get a very small kickback) if you click on the DVD cover here. I will also be working with the director and purchasing a bunch of them so that I can sell them at Dragon*Con (and possibly Capclave…and whatever other convention I can get roped into this year).

If you’re a fan of low budget independent slasher films, you’re going to love this. Lots of blood, nude girls, and even a quotable line or three.

We had so much fun making this movie. (Well, I did, anyway.) One of my favorite moments in Tennessee last month was when the Fairy Goddaughters dropped a photo album and it fell open to a spread of photos displaying a massively bloody Tina Krause.What a thing to find in the Princess’s collection, right? Heeheehee…

Needless to say, their expressions were priceless.

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Happy Dance of Dragons Day!

I have to go to work.

You kids be good now, and read lots.

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Over the River and Through the Woods

Soteria and I–though this weekend we were “Sami and Leelee” again–went to visit our French Grandmother in hospice yesterday. (Montpelier really *is* over the river and through the woods.) We played Rosemary Clooney songs, and danced, and smiled a lot, and yelled, “Nazi Oxygen Tanks!” at each other whenever we started to tear up.(We discussed the prevalence of reused swastika-bearing oxygen tanks while waiting for the nurses to get Memere ready.) I kept pinching myself and thinking, CUT IT OUT, CRYBABY, THIS IS PROBABLY THE LAST TIME YOU’RE GOING TO SEE YOUR GRANDMOTHER. SUCK IT UP. Didn’t work very well, though. I only managed to whisper “I love you” in her ear before losing it in the hallway on the way out.

Memere doesn’t really remember us anymore, or talk much, for that matter, but a few words that came through loud and clear were “Beautiful”, “Happiness”, and “Crazy.” I think that sums us up pretty well. And we get all that from her.

Afterwards, we drove out to DeRonde Road (which was named after my grandmother–Madeleine DeRonde). We parked beside her old house and then literally walked down Memory Lane (now called Barnes Road) to the Morse Farms Sugar Shack. Soteria and I and our friends Sarah and Stephanie all used to get kicked out of there for sampling a bit too much maple syrup…but I sampled it all again this time, because I didn’t think they would recognize me. (Though Soteria is fairly sure they have all our pictures still on the wall in the back room under a WARNING sign.) We bought maple creamies for the walk back, to sooth the soul. It’s so quiet and peaceful up there, and it smells like fresh-cut grass and Queen Anne’s Lace and milkweed and memories.

Oh man…freaking Nazi oxygen tanks…

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