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Missing Maggie Mae

On Saturday night, Dark-Hunter posse member Maggie Mae Short was watching fireworks. She posted about it on Facebook. Apparently, her town had a bunch left over from the 4th of July, so they were setting them off in honor of some local event. She looked out her window, was surprised by a professional light show in rainbow colors, and shared that magical moment with us.

This morning I woke to find friends posting that Maggie Mae was gone.

I hope to be able to say a little something about this before the Hour With Sherrilyn Kenyon at Dragon*Con next Friday, but we don’t always have that lovely block of time beforehand in which I can put on an impromptu Princess Alethea Preshow, so I wanted to make sure I said this here.

It is still strange to me when one of my friends passes away, but it is no longer strange for me to mourn someone I barely (or never) knew in person, but with whom I conversed online almost daily.

Being a writer is odd, in that you constantly wobble back and forth over the line from infamy to obscurity (until you’re someone like Sherri or J.K. Rowling). I decided back when my friend Andre Norton passed away that I would always strive to make as many friends as possible, even if that meant crying like my heart was broken every time one left. It was worth it. It’s always worth it. That was the origin of that thing I always say: Strangers are just best friends I haven’t met yet.

Nobody says that authors and fans can’t be friends. I’m a person. You’re a person. We met because we like the same things. Seriously–I still go to Sherrilyn Kenyon book signings because they are like three-hour cocktail parties during which I meet the most fun people. I keep in touch with those people. They make me laugh with the things they say, and they stop by to leave a hug when I’m feeling down. When I feel passionate about something, they’re part of the conversation. We hang out together at conventions. Sometimes we even play Words With Friends at 2am.

Some of the Dark-Hunter fans are closer to me than members of my own family. They cheer me on and inspire me from every corner of this globe. Some are new (Britany) and some are old (Lisa). Some I met simply because they recognized me and screamed “Oh my god, I love you!” in a crowded food court full of people (Sammi). Some I met because they simply showed up, with their red hair and lovely accents (Bernadette). Some I got to know because we just kept meeting at Dark-Hunter signings from the beginning of time (Marie, Kat, Dee, Afifa, Penny, Judy, Eddie…the list goes on). We make the effort to stay in touch.

Sometimes, that’s all friendship is.

I can’t tell you how many people in my life have said to me, “Remember me when you’re famous!” and then never spoken to me again. I do remember those people. I have nightmares about them. We were closer than sisters and we don’t talk anymore. I send emails and texts and get nothing in return. It’s incredibly sad. People will come into your life and leave it because they choose to. There’s nothing you can do about that.

But it makes us treasure the people who DO make the effort even more.

Maggie Mae was always part of my global conversation. She was pleasant and shiny (and a breath of fresh air when some people who post comments have no social skills). I am sad that she will never know what seeing her there all the time meant to me.

I know I’m not great about being on the internet. I try to comment when I can–it’s like the luck of the draw if something comes across my news feed in the ten minutes I sign online to see if there are any old-world synonyms for the word “gnome.” But I would like everyone who posts on my FB wall, and on my blog, and who messages me on Twitter to know that I see you there. I’m listening. I’m smiling, or laughing, or following a link you just sent me. I appreciate the hell out of you,  you mean the world to me, and–above all–I consider you a friend.

It really is just that easy.

I will miss you, Maggie Mae, and I will think of your smiling face the next time my night sky lights up with pretty colors. Thank you for being my friend. xox

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MakeItUpAsYouGoAlongCon

Over the past decade, I have been to many, many conventions, and I have discovered that none of them are like any of the others. Each one is a unique gem with different facets, and unique members of a staff that struggles for 72 hours straight to tame the unwieldy beast. I’ve been disappointed by smaller conventions and simply amazed by others, feeling when I’d left that I’d be leaving part of a new family behind.

Mysticon is one of the latter.

It started out a little shaky, driving in through the overbright rainbow mist (did Mysticon order that in especially?) coupled with the kind of winds that drop houses on people. Sherri’s plane was delayed and delayed and delayed, leaving me to wander the slowly waking con in my heavy coat and rolley red suitcase full of books. I spent a lot of time perched on the comfy sofas in front of the lobby fireplace, playing Words With Friends and waiting.

The time for my signing rolled around, which ended up being scheduled against Opening Ceremonies. No one bought a single thing. Only two people stopped by to talk: my friend Linda who lamented that she hadn’t brought her Dark-Hunter Companion, and Gray Rinehart.

Gray is another Codexian, and a friend with whom I never get to spend enough quality time. He rescued me from the lonely table and swept me off to feed me. Gray is one of those Knight in Shining Armor kind of people  I’m never sure how I live without.

“Sherri’s still not here,” I said, noce I’d had a few bited of dinner and achieved coherency. “I think I should take over her panels.”

“You have to take over her panels,” said Gray. “You’re the only one who can.”

I am not Sherrilyn Kenyon. I have never pretended to be Sherrilyn Kenyon. I’m just some second banana girl few people have ever heard of. And yet…when the time came to step up t the plate, I cast aside all that self-doubt and walked in those Author Goddess footsteps, come what may.

I’d be damned if I was going to let a passel of true blue Dark-Hunter fans sit sad and alone, staring at an empty table in the front of the room.

I walked through the door and saw them all there, and my heart broke a little. “Y’all are waiting on Sherri, right?” I said. “Well, let’s talk Dark-Hunters.” So we did. For an entire hour. And almost another entire hour after that.

I have to say, I have never laughed so hard on panels at a convention in my entire life. By the time Sherri actually did show up, there were so many inside jokes floating around, I’m not sure she ever caught up. (“Milady.”) But I milked every joke and made a complete fool of myself, and we all had an incredibly fantastic time.

Thank you to all my new Dark-Hunter friends, far and wide, who put up with me through all those panels and kept an open mind and played along with the joke. Thank you for bringing your children to my reading by the fireplace. Thank you for buying the books that I brought when the Great Goddess Carla found me a table at which to park my tucus. Thank you to Kalayna and Faith and Marcia and Andy and all my fellow panelists. Thank you to Tina and Carla and Mysticon overall. Thank you to Sherri and Kim for finally arriving and setting us all at ease. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone — except the jerkface who set off the fire alarm at 2am Sunday morning and made me walk up and down 5 flights of stairs a couple of times.

Thank you all, a million times, thank you. I’d be happy to come back next year. Mostly because I didn’t take enough pictures this time around. This was my very last convention without having a novel in print, and thanks to all of you, I will never forget it.

*

My name is not Sherrilyn Kenyon, and I approve this message.

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Pencil Me In?

Because I know some of you book your social calendars MONTHS in advance, here’s the heads up: I will be a guest (along with Sherrilyn Kenyon!) at Mysticon in Roanoke Feb 24-26th.

Holiday Inn – Tanglewood
4468 Starkey Road, SW
Roanoke, VA 24018
540-774-4400

You have been warned!

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