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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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The Grand Dame of Dragons

I want to read Dragonsong again, right now. Miss Anne was always in love with the Masterharper. So was I.

Anne McCaffrey taught me many things. She taught me to believe in dragons. She taught me that I should have lots of sex while I’m still young and beautiful. She–through Andre Norton–gave me a talisman that I treasure to this day (and now really wish wasn’t in a storage unit with my beloved crock pot and all my good suitcases).

I had a dream about her house in Ireland once, a great castle with huge golden gates that had a giant fancy P molded into them. I imagine she’s somewhere by that castle now, with the wind in her hair, feeding her dragons.

Love you, Miss Anne. Say hi to Miss Andre for me.

xox

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RIP Colin Harvey

I honestly don’t know what to say. No one from the Codex Writers has ever died before. I’ve been in shock since I woke up this morning and saw all the Tweets and thought groggily, “I know that name. He’s a movie star, isn’t he? Movie stars are named Colin.”

Our Colin was a star, all right. I hope he’s finally taking that trip to Mars he always dreamed about.

I just sifted through my inbox. We’d exchanged emails in December, chatting about the benefits of selling short stories to anthologies versus stand-alone magazines. We talked again in May when I asked him to participate in the Month of Writers interviews I set up, inspired by Codex. Here’s is his interview.

I never got to meet Colin in person, and now I never will. That is my loss.

He was too young for this–but my friends are too young to die at any age.

I don’t know what else to say. This is just weird. And horrible. I don’t even want to hit the “Publish” button, like somehow I can make it not true anymore.

My heart goes out to his family. My heart goes out to all of you who have Colin in your thoughts today.

Love you guys. xox

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Inconceivable

Some things in this life are just incredibly hard for even me to imagine. Leslie Banks not being in this world is one of them.

Yes, I knew she was sick. I knew it was bad. Even that was hard enough to get my head around. In the grand scheme of things, this morning’s news was to be expected and answered with a “Thank God she didn’t have to suffer” reaction. My grandmother has dementia. I have a very clear perspective on what that suffering is like and how much it costs — both emotionally and monetarily.

But if you ever met Leslie–even for just five minutes–and I hope you did–you know exactly what I’m talking about. She was the kind of person you remember for the rest of your life, and feel better for knowing. The thought of Leslie just brings sunny images to mind. She was so optimistic and upbeat and sweet as pie and genuine and tall. She was just so full of life that death is simply…inconceivable. It’s like waking up one morning and realizing the sun’s not there anymore. Inconceivable.

Sherrilyn Kenyon introduced us during a panel switch at Dragon*Con. I was a buyer for Tor then, and was very familiar with (and proud of) the rise of her Minion series. It was a brief encounter, in which Leslie and I immediately expressed our mutual love for one another, and we looked forward to seeing each other soon, later at Dragon*Con, or another convention. We exchanged a very few emails over the years–nothing too deep or soul-searching. And we never did get to meet in person again.

Like many of you, I will regret that I did not know Leslie better…but I honestly feel that my life is blessed having met her just that once. Like I was kissed by a fairy on a misty day and got to see a rainbow: it is an event that will never happen again, but one I will treasure forever.

If you would like to contribute to the fund set up for Leslie’s hospital bills and her daughter, please click here. Thank you.

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Famous Last Words

I passed The FairyGodBoyfriend in the bathroom yesterday. I was leaving and he was coming in to take a shower. I patted him on the bum and said, “God, I love your butt” before taking my leave.

I promptly started picking up the bedroom and collecting laundry, which is a good thing to do when Joe is not present. As I was reaching for a sock hidden under the bed, I stumbled over a pair of shoes and caught myself before taking a nosedive into the desk.

I sat on the bed for a second to contemplate my near brush with death, and then went back in the bathroom to tell FGB what had happened and ask him a very important question.

Me: So if I had just died right then, and my last words were “God, I love your butt,” would you tell people?

Joe: Hell yes I would! I’d write it on your tombstone. “She loved my butt.”

Surely you can see why I’m head over heels in love with this man. I giggled over the prospect of my interesting tombstone while I tossed the laundry in the washer. When I returned to the bedroom, FGB was poring solemnly over the computer screen. “The lead singer of Ceann died in a car wreck earlier this week.”

Needless to say, my morbid sense of humor politely took its leave.

If you’re not familiar with Ceann and you like 1.) Irish music, 2.) drinking songs, 3.) hilarious and clever lyrics — well then, look a few of the songs up on YouTube. I recommend “Pretty on the Inside,” “Pittsburgh Makes Me Drunk,” and “Blame the Viking” for starters.

Some of you might remember, “Blame the Viking” was sort of our theme song for Necon 2009, the fateful weekend I met Dickie and Joe and Mary and Jack. In the past couple of years, we’ve changed the song’s title to “Blame Ron Dickie,” and altered the lyrics to reflect our favorite beloved Canadian drunkard. Joe will turn up the radio so the Fairy GodDaughters and I can belt it out on long trips and giggle mercilessly.

It is always a blow when such a brilliant, creative mind and enthusiastic heart leaves this world. It will be a while before hearing their songs on the iPod shuffle doesn’t make me mourn the loss of future songs we will never hear.

Thank you, Patrick Halloran, for the fun you gave us and the memories we made. I raise my glass of orange juice and make a toast to you: may whatever ends up on my tombstone be as clever as one of your songs.

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