Sunday, September 30, 2012

GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Here we go, darlings:


So, going in order that means:

1. Kindle Fire = Leilani
2. Box o' Books from Pocket = Anne F.
3. Character naming = Lisa C.
4. Book of secrets + Villainess scents = Melanie F.
5. E-copies of THE MYSTERIOUS MADAM MORPHO to Psyche, Melanie, Denise, Tina, and Lexi.

Winners of 1, 2, 4, please email criminystain@gmail.com with your physical address. Lisa C., please email criminystain@gmail.com to let me know the name you'd like to give a character and if there's any significance to it, should it not be your name. Now, if anyone who won MADAM MORPHO had already purchased a copy, please email criminystain@gmail.com and let me know so that I can think of a suitable replacement. Or email me there so that I can send you your copy/code. I'm not sure how that works yet, but I'll figure it out!

Also, FYI, you can see the actual Rafflecoptery list on the original thread.

Thank y'all, so much, for your support! I'm overwhelmed by the response, and every time a book purchase email arrived, I grinned like a Cheshire cat. I hope you'll check out THE MYSTERIOUS MADAM MORPHO this Tuesday. 

$0.99 isn't much to pay for a brief, sexy trip to another world, right?

CONGRATULATIONS, Y'ALL!

*

Thursday, September 27, 2012

in which I obsess over The Walking Dead


So... I'm kind of obsessed with season 2 of The Walking Dead.

We're watching it for the first time on Blue-Ray, one episode a night. It's completely delicious. The writing and characterization on this show are spectacular, and it centers on the general area I live in, and I once met Norman Reedus in a hotel bar, so the whole things feels like home.

Well, home plus shambling zombies.

And that's why I dug out my compound bow. I'm determined to get it tuned up and get back into shooting arrows into things. Not zombies. Not even animals. Mainly targets and bales of hay. I haven't gone to an archery range in almost ten years, and it's been way too long. I love that freakin' thing. Just pulled back and felt that tension and thought, WHY DID I STOP DOING THIS?

The answer is obvious: I moved away from the fantastically cheap archery range.

But now my bow is sitting by my laptop, reminding me to quit dreaming and start doing.

After all, when the zombies come, I'll want to be useful.

I can't let this guy take down all the walkers, even if he's very threatening.


The Walking Dead: get busy watchin' or get busy dyin'.

Netflix it, at least. Yes? Yes.

Back to your regularly scheduled... stuff we do.

*

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

if I could travel back in time to give myself advice...

On October 5 & 6, I'll join a coterie of other writers at the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, GA. So they asked me this question:

If you could go back in time to the beginning of your writing career, what advice would you give yourself on writing?

Here's what I said.

Yes, it includes wild gesticulations, cupcake waving, and super-gummy smiles.

And if you're in the southeast and want to have a cubic butt-ton of writerly fun, please join us!

I am supremely excited, even if there are no cupcakes.

*

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I bought a voodoo lawn chicken!




Best $7.95 spent this week.

I put it over the mums on the front porch to discourage the teens who will inevitably *need* to steal it.

I love you, skelemingo.

*

Friday, September 21, 2012

moments of mercy

Have you ever had a moment of mercy?

For the record, it doesn't involve *playing* Mercy and crushing your opponent's fingers in a death grip, although that can be pretty fun.

To me, moments of mercy are those times that transcend the current situation to transport you to another state. Moments out of time. Moments of zen. Moments when no matter how bad or weird things are, the world seems to stop, sometimes just for a second, and you realize how very amazing consciousness can be.

It's not nearly as fancy as it sounds, though.

I had one today while curled up in bed with my family, watching the last episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender. My son in the crook of my left arm, my daughter in the crook of my right arm, my husband's freshly shorn head under my palm, and my new kitten all but strangling me. For just a moment, I stopped watching the show and thought, This is the most amazing thing ever, and This is the entire point of living, and I am perfectly happy right now. In that moment, nothing else mattered.

I had a moment of mercy the year after I was married. I couldn't find a job, I was far from family and friends in a new city where I felt constantly lost, and I had no earthly idea what to do with myself. I wanted to paint but couldn't find inspiration. I spent all day staring at the first sentence of The Book I Was Meant to Write, which never went beyond a single sucky paragraph. But I was staring out the window one day, deep in depression, having a crisis of self, when a cardinal landed on the branch outside and started to sing. He was just a few inches away, bright as flame and happy as anything, singing his heart out. And something twisted inside me like a key in a lock.

And then I picked up my brush and started painting.

That was all it took. That flash of happiness, of insight, of magic. Things got better after that. I did a series of paintings. I found a great job. But I never finished that book, and it intimidated me so much that I didn't try writing again for ten years... after another moment of mercy.

I believe it's moments like these, when everything perfectly aligns, that help put us on the right course and remind us of what's important. These are the moments that last in our minds and hearts-- not the car accident or the unpaid bill or the ugly conversation. Years later, it's the moments of mercy that show the points along our paths, the stars in our constellations. I can name so many over the years.

Once, I stood by a lake at night, surrounded by a hawk, a snake, and a deer, and I made a pact with myself, one that I haven't broken.

Once, I lay in the pitch-black dark, and I saw an idea that would become my first book.

Once, I threw myself into a patch of clover in a rainstorm and cried like my heart was breaking.

Once, I stood before a crowd of people and told them my deepest, darkest secret, and they cheered.

Once, I rode my horse through a forest on a Sunday morning and saw God in a sunbeam.

These are the moments when everything stops, when you can change the world.

I say grab the world, invite it to play Mercy, and don't stop squeezing until you've got it on its knees.

*


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two Things You Don't Want to Miss!

1. 

YOU COULD WIN A KINDLE FIRE! A BOX OF BOOKS! SIGNED SPECIAL THINGIES!

Click the picture of me looking kind of cray-cray to do that.


(Or, in case I've botched that, CLICK HERE.)



2. 

I HAVE A NOVELLA OUT IN 12 DAYS


An exciting, 34,000-word romp in Criminy's Clockwork Caravan!

Romance! Butterflies! A mysterious mechanist! A London scholar with a dark past! Blud creatures attacking! It's like WICKED AS THEY COME, but you don't have to get to page 186 before they do it!


IT'S ONLY 99 CENTS.

And if you don't have an e-reader, you can read it on your computer, laptop, phone, or tablet.

*

Now, back to my regular squealing about the new kitten.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cliffy Clifferton



I woke up thinking, "You know, I don't have enough sh*t to do."



My family clearly isn't ready for a dog. I only like small dogs. Krog only likes large dogs. No one likes medium dogs. And I just got to where I don't have to handle hot poo on a daily basis. 

But a kitten, on the other hand...


I mean, they're small, cute, and do their dukes in boxes.

What could go wrong?


He's a really good jumper. And he's got the snuggleattackz thing down, which saves me a lot of training effort.


On the other hand, we have gotten some accidental mouthfuls of butt when trying to snuzzle him for too long.

Naming him was a big deal.

Names on the table, as suggested by:

Me:
Norman (from ParaNorman)
Keith (from that dream about the cat named Keith)
Criminy (FOR REASONS)
Grim (full name: Grimlock, for my fav Transformer)

the biscuit:
Whiskers
Mr. Whiskers
Mr. Whiskybootlecutiepiekitten
Biscuit (because we drove past The Flying Biscuit)
Firehouse (because we drove past Firehouse Subs)

t.rex:
Kiki
Rex
Zeddy

We ended up calling him Cliff. Why?
1. Everybody likes the Transformer, Cliffjumper. And the cat can jump.
2. I love the idea of giving cats ridiculous people names.
3. Now I can call him Cliffy Clifferton, Esq.

*
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to be reminded of how annoying kittens are when they attack your feet while you're asleep.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Defiant Wedgies


THE DEFIANT WEDGIES. It may sound like a fantastic band name, but that's what I've decided to call these shoes that I painted.

See, I saw this pin on Pinterest and thought, OMG I HAVE TO DO THAT LIKE YESTERDAY ZOMG, because when I get excited, my self-image and grammar go totally out the window. My next step was to go to Ross Dress for Less and purchase a pair of Respect wedge shoes for $17. Then I went to Blick Art Studio and bought a paint pen. Then I waited a week, because for this sort of project, you have to be in a certain headspace. A zen place. Much like the murals I used to paint and extremely unlike the books I now write, you only get one chance to get it right, and mistakes must be cleverly incorporated into the design.

I started with the heels. Sugar skulls, of course.


 For inspiration, I had tabs open to Pinterest boards on henna, tattoos, and sugar skulls. Like the original pin, I did little dashes along the stitching. Having a frame can make it easier for the design to happen organically.



That's both heels on the finished shoes.

After the skulls, I followed my whims. First came a henna-style tiger, then a bludbunny. Then I used tattooed-sailor-style lettering to write a quote from one of my favorite songs, All I Ever Wanted by The Airborne Toxic Event.

LOVE IS DEFYING.


Next I skipped around to the other shoe, knowing I wanted to do another quote. But you can't fit much on a shoe, not with those big, fat letters. I settled on the word UNTRANSLATABLE, from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, which figures heavily into Wicked as She Wants, the second book in the Blud series and the victim currently on my copyediting table.


Oops. I ran out of room. That's why ABLE is on the other side of the shoe.

Once the letters were done, I moved to the toes. A key, because I'm into keys. And a lock... to go with the key.


After that, it was all filling in with things I like. A peacock feather. An anchor. Stars. Flowers. Wiggly plants and paisley and grass and a mermaid. And tons and tons of dots. With these sorts of designs, the filler doesn't have to be perfect, and it doesn't have to make sense. When you walk by, people aren't going to be noticing your errors or wigglyness. Just keep filling it in until the overall idea is about 50/50 white and black.


So go forth and paint some shoes! It only cost $20 and 2 hours.

As soon as the day is 100% guaranteed to be sunny, you can bet I'll be rockin' these puppies for some exciting adventures... behind the table of a cafe, writing.

What can I say? I live on the wild side.

*

Note: It might seem strange that I'm following up a post on my experience with suicide by showing you some shoes that I painted. But art is always part of my journey, in the dark parts and in the light parts. Plus, maybe you'll notice some of the recurring themes from both posts. Words. Love. The ocean. Birds flying free. They may look like a pair of silly shoes, but they represent certain parts of me that go a lot deeper than paint on faux leather.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Suicide Prevention Week - from someone who's happy to have failed



Many people will tell you that I'm not a very serious person.

I hit my deadlines, I produce a lot of work, and I'm very professional. But on the whole (heh heh-- on the hole!), I can be very childish and silly. As in, wears ridiculous hats and owns every season of Family Guy, Futurama, and Robot Chicken silly.

But I'm going to be very serious now, because suicide is a serious topic. And because I used to be very, very serious. And very, very depressed.

I had some troubled times as a teen, which I've alluded to in past blog posts. I won't get into specifics, but let's just say that beneath the artistic Valedictorian exterior, there was a lot of pain. I started reading books that focused on heartbreak and hopelessness-- like The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening. I watched The Piano. I spent a lot of time sitting in my car, alone, crying and listening to depressing music and writing poetry.

And then I went to France when I was seventeen, the summer before my Senior year. It was an exchange trip, and I was to stay a month with a family in Toulouse. They were wonderful, warm, giving people, and they treated me like their fourth daughter. I had this weird mixture of homesickness and longing and hope and  hopelessness that all came to a head during a trip to the beach. My French family was settled under an umbrella, each person happily doing their own thing, and I looked out at the ocean and realized that I was the only one who wasn't happy, who wasn't capable of happiness.

I couldn't take it anymore, whatever it was.

So I walked out into the ocean. And kept walking. Then started swimming. Then kept swimming.

At 34, it's hard for me to remember what that version of me was thinking, was feeling. I remember noting that this was what Edna Pontellier did in The Awakening, that it was a soft, sweet, poetic way to leave a world that brought me mostly misery and anxiety. I swam farther and farther from shore, and my smooth strokes turned to tired dog paddling. And then I just gave up and sank.

I remember how peaceful it was underwater for just a moment, dark and bubbly and calm. And then I couldn't hold my breath any longer, and without my mind's buy-in or my heart's agreement, my body began to fight back. The world went from poignant serenity to thrashing terror, waves pounding, salt burning my eyes and nose and throat and lungs.

In a heartbeat, the world twisted. I wanted to live, even if it hurt like hell.

I was so far from shore; even now, I can see it, how far and hazy it was. The people playing in the shallow water were mere smudges, and no one knew where I was. I was exhausted, half-filled with water, my limbs numb. But I kept churning, my nose barely out of the water, inch by inch, until I was at that point where the waves stop trying to punish you and start trying to call you home. They washed me back onshore when I had nothing left, and I sprawled on the sand sobbing, surrounded by vacationers who had no idea that I'd just undergone the first major turning point of my life.

I dragged myself to the family umbrella, where Maman asked me how I was.

"Magnifique," was all I could say.

I was magnificent.

I was alive.

And I started to notice things. Small things. The air on my drying skin. The sun on my dark hair. The vibrant shade of red in the umbrella. The scent of suntan lotion rising from everyone's skin. I realized I was starving, had never been so starving, and that whatever I ate next would be the most wonderful thing I'd ever eaten. One day, I would watch Fight Club and hear Tyler Durden talk about how tomorrow would be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel's life. And I would laugh, because I knew that feeling exactly.

That day, I asked the family to stop by a stationery store, and I bought a journal and a package of Sharpies. And I started a book called I LOVE in which I wrote I LOVE and described something small that made life worth living. I love the feel of grass under bare feet. I love the perfection of slipping under cool sheets. I love the taste of the fried haddock and rice I ate that night, sitting at a table on a boardwalk in Biarritz while the family asked me why I was so happy all of a sudden, almost like a different person.

I'd like to say that from that day on, everything was easy. But that was the summer before I was stalked and raped, my next major turning point as a person. But because I'd survived that day, I was able to survive being attacked. I knew I wanted to live and would do anything to stay alive. And I knew, after that, that things would get better, if I just kept living. So I started my second I LOVE journal, which is pictured up above.

My point is this: suicide is serious, and no matter how normal or successful or beautiful or smart or happy someone seems on the outside, that doesn't mean they haven't considered it. Or tried it.

I used to be ashamed. I used to try to forget that it happened, but I know now that it's part of what made me who I am. I'm an artist and a writer, and depression has always been a looming threat in my life, something that sneaks in no matter how well I guard myself. But I've never returned to that dark place, never considered wanting to end it all.

Whatever it is.

So maybe that's why I don't take anything seriously. I live in the moment, choosing to focus on the sweetness of the cupcake or the beauty of the music or the leaves crunching under my favorite boots. I don't look to the past and mull over what I might have had or what might have happened differently. I don't worry about the future. I just live, right now, in the best way that I can.

If you're depressed, if you're suicidal-- you're not alone. Please go here and find help. Tell someone. It doesn't have to be your mom or your dad or your significant other. It can be a volunteer on a phone hotline, or a stranger on tumblr. Find help, even if it's just to talk about it, to say it out loud and know that someone you've never met desperately wants you to live and thinks that you matter. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Asking for help, reaching out to another human being, is one of the bravest things on earth.

I once thought there was nothing worth living for, and I have never, never been so wrong.

You're not alone.

*

good news: CARNIEPUNK!

Here's the announcement from Publishers Marketplace yesterday: 

CARNIEPUNK, an anthology which combines the carnival setting and the world of urban fantasy, a place of deception, where monsters wait silently in the dark, featuring short stories by authors Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Seanan McGuire, Rob Thurman, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Gay, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Hillary Jacques, Jackie Kessler, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler and Jaye Wells, to Adam Wilson at Pocket, for publication in August 2013, by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media.

 * 

I'm so excited to be in my first anthology, especially one based on one of my favorite concepts. My story is THE THREE LIVES OF LYDIA, a Sangish take on Lydia the Tattooed Lady that follows a troubled girl from our world to Criminy's Clockwork Caravan. I'll put up links when it's on Amazon and Goodreads.

I can't wait to see the cover and read what the other authors have created!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Win a wicked KINDLE FIRE and other big prizes!



MONDO SUPER-HOT, EXTRA-WICKED GIVEAWAY!

We're coming up on the six month book-launch-aversary of my first book, WICKED AS THEY COME. To celebrate, I'm giving away:

* A brand new Kindle Fire ($159 value)

* A big box o' books from my publisher, Pocket

* A character in a future book or novella named after you (or a name of your choice)

* A signed copy of Wicked as They Come with a couple of secrets written inside and samples of all three Wicked as They Come perfume oils from Villainess Soaps

* 5 copies of my first Blud e-novella, THE MYSTERIOUS MADAM MORPHO

There are several ways to enter, each with a determined point value, which will be handled by Rafflecopter, since we all know math isn't my strong suit. Please be aware that since I'm trying to maximize book sales before the end of the month, for the purposes of this giveaway, only NEW book or e-book sales between today and 9/30/12 will count toward the hefty 25-point task. I really, truly appreciate everyone who's already bought it, so I would hope that those of you on fire to win the Kindle might consider buying a copy as a birthday, Halloween, unbirthday, or upcoming holiday gift for the Criminy-deficient person in your life. Or you could always sell your old copy at a used bookstore or Ebay. I won't tell.

ALSO! If you buy a NEW book? I'd be happy to send a signed and bludbunnied bookplate and/or bookmark to go with it. When you email your proof of purchase to criminystain@gmail.com, remember to include your name, mailing address, and if you'd rather have a bookplate or bookmark, and I'll get it right out to you with my thanks!

I've hopefully spelled out all the terms and conditions on Rafflecopter, including international entries. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, which I'll try to monitor. And let me say, one more time, that when you leave a rating and review as part of one of the tasks, please be honest. I don't read the negative reviews, but I believe people have a right to their opinions, and you do *not* have to be all gushy-sweet to win. Although I will hugattack you and love you forever, if that's how you really feel.

To everyone who enjoyed Wicked as They Come and/or reads this blog, THANK YOU. I can't tell you how honored I am that you keep coming back. I hope you win!


*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO WIN. TWEETING ONCE COULD GET YOU A KINDLE FIRE!*

MAY THE WICKEDLY KINDLED ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

proposed giveaway: WHATCHA WANT?

I'm getting ready to put together the BIGGEST GIVEAWAY EVAR.

So my question for you is this: what would you like to win?

* A Nook Color? A Kindle Fire?

* An ARC of WICKED AS SHE WANTS, whenever it drops? (I only received 5 last time, so it's a big deal.)

* A character named after you or the name of your choosing?

* A box o' books, whether chosen by me or by Pocket?

* The Wicked as They Come perfumes and soaps from Villainess?

* Another unique copy of Wicked as They Come filled with four-leaf clovers, mischievous bludbunnies, and secrets?

Something else?

Please tell me what sort of yummy prizes would convince you to buy a copy if you haven't already, buy another for a friend, or write a review on Amazon.

I'll be here, twirling my mustache and waiting to shower you with awesome.

*

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

at a crossroads

Why the lax bloggery?

I'm at a crossroads.

Work on Blud 3? Start something new? Edit something half-done? Go back to reading Chuck Wendig's BLACKBIRDS and try to learn something new about what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with all these messy-sloppy letters?

Honestly, y'all, I keep ending up on Twitter, desperately throwing myself into interesting conversations of 140 characters or less. Because it's easy. But that's not always the best way to choose one's route.

Here's what I can tell you, though.

On October 5 and 6, I'll be a guest at the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, GA. They have some big fishies, y'all, and I'm looking forward to rising above the messy surgery of my own demons and deadlines and talking about inspiration, excitement, craft, and possibilities. If you're a writer in the southeast, I hope you'll consider coming out to join the conversation.

Plus, who can miss Macon? I was there for the 8th grade Beta Club dance, and it was transformative.

If by transformative you mean that I stood awkwardly in a corner in a sailor dress with a bad haircut and wished desperately that someone would ask me to slow dance to Every Rose Has Its Thorn.

Ahem.

Let's all rise above. I'm choosing a direction-- right now.

No more Twitter. Time to edit!

And time to hide the pictures of me at 13.

*

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dragon*Con pic dump!

Dragon*Con pic dump ahoy!

Day 1 costume with my pal Becky. I was a steampunk Ravenclaw. And I got to have all sorts of fun with it...


Like having a wand battle with fellow panelist Narcissa Malfoy, aka author Leanna Renee Hieber.



Day 2 costume. NERFPUNK. Kinda. See the red, black, and silver drill?

Here's the rest of the Nerfpunk crew. Aren't they amazing? The idea is that instead of painting a Nerf gun to look steampunk, you make a steampunk costume to match your Nerf gun. I don't have the mad talent to do that, so I found a gun/drill that was red, silver, and black and matched it to pieces I already had. The real Nerfpunks were terribly kind to let me tag along anyway.


One of my fav costumes at the con. 
Dude as Snape as the boggart as Snape in Neville's Gran's vulture hat. Flawless.


Day 2 bustle. Built by my friend Stephanie, this is the ruffle bustle with the enclosed secret bag. 
I carried all my stuff on my butt!



Day 3 steampunk Little Red Riding Hood costume. Chilling with my pal Derek, who's in charge of the Horror and Dark Fantasy track. I had two panels with his people, and they were both AMAZING.


Finally got to meet Beth of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Love meeting people I have known/admired from afar for years and being all, OMG, YOU EXIST.


Met a real, live bludbunny!


Got to see Mandy from GeekMom!


Maybe you can't tell, but that's the cast of The Vampire Diaries behind me. 
I was within 10 feet of Ian Somerhalder!


My pal Lindze is a professional make-up artist and cosplayer. She's amazing!!


I covered the Vamplets for Cool Mom Picks a long time ago, so it was super sweet to come around a corner in the vendor room and meet their creators! Roari the baby yeti is my favorite.

*
So there you have it. Dragon*Con was so OMGSQUEEDYING awesome. 

I'll definitely be back next year!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Terrorize a Writer

Most writers are odd, and many of us seem to suffer from social anxiety issues of one type or another, especially as relates to our books and the process of writing.

Here's how to fill our lives with terror and discomfort.

1. If the room/restaurant is nearly empty, sit really close. It doesn't matter whether you stare at the writer or turn your back to her, it's going to be uncomfortable. Scoot your chair back even more, blocking her against the wall. For bonus points, wear offensively heavy perfume or eat something really, really stinky.

2. Walk up and attempt to half-heartedly make small talk. Saying things like, "...so?" or "Wow, what a day" works. It's not scary if you talk about something the writer finds interesting or start an actual discussion. Make it as awkward as possible and refuse to hold up your end of the talky-bit.

3. Even worse, walk up WHILE THE WRITER IS WRITING and attempt to make awkward conversation.

4. Try to stare over the writer's shoulder to see what's on the screen. For extra points, ask her what she's writing.

5. For a billion bonus points, stare, ask, and then tell her all about the book you're going to write some day and ask for "pointers" or her agent's name.

6. Every so slightly block her way. Whether it's with your body, your stroller, or a grocery cart, make sure that she has to squint really hard to see if she can squeeze by. She'll be transfixed by the space issue, trying to gauge how much she can bump you and still manage to run away without making eye contact.

7. When she's staring intently into space or scribbling madly on the back of the receipt with the light of inspiration in her eyes, ask her something inane that you should know for yourself, such as the time or weather. When she mutters or shakes her head or holds up a desperate finger, ask louder.

8. Walk up to tell the writer that you didn't like her book. Tell her what was wrong with the characters and plot. Tell her what you would have done better or make suggestions for the next book.

9. Walk up with your laptop and stare at the full plug-in like the feverishly typing writer is suddenly going to unplug and walk away. When she doesn't, hover over her and ask something extremely wishy-washy, like "Can we switch?" or "Are you using that?" instead of just saying something refreshing like, "I know it's really annoying, but can I plug in for a minute?" When the writer is too flummoxed/busy to do more than mutter "Fine," unplug her cord, leave it on the floor, plug in your Mac, and proceed to have a really loud phone conversation while you surf the web for new shoes. (YES, THIS IS ODDLY SPECIFIC FOR A REASON, WOMAN WHO DID THIS TO ME YESTERDAY.)

10. If the writer's book launched more than one week ago, ask when her next book is out and insinuate that she's not working very hard/writing fast enough. Say something like, "Wow, a year? It takes you that long to write a book?" or "Huh. I guess your publisher doesn't think you had the chops for a tight schedule." Then tell the writer how many words per minute you type and how big your IDEAS folder is.

11. Ask if you can borrow a pen. When she says she only has one, don't give it back.

12. Ask her if she has any books with her. When she presents one, ask if you can have it. Don't offer to pay for it or ask her how much. for bonus points, open it up, crack the spine, and hand it back, saying you'll get it at the library or borrow it for Kindle.

*

Did I miss any?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

lessons of the dragon

(That's me at the Vampire Diaries panel. Tiny Ian Somerhalder FTW!)

Things I Learned at my First Dragon*Con

1. No matter how big you think it is, it's so much bigger than that. Especially when you have 10 minutes to get from the Hyatt to the Westin for a panel while 500 zombies shamble down the street.

2. You never know who you're going to meet. My friend was trapped in an elevator with Sam from True Blood. I was on panels with Buffy's Amber Benson and one of my fav authors, Kate Cross. When the Writing Track offered to let me sit on the Heroines Among Us panel, I plunked myself right down by... Mercedes Lackey. Geeks are everywhere, and everyone I met was marvelous.

3. The kindness is almost overwhelming. From free Sun Chips and hummus from www.therandomact.org, to free protein bars, to marvelous volunteers, to friendly celebrities, to random strangers who smiled at my costume, my heart grew six sizes with geek love. When that many people are obsessed with that many fandoms, you can feel the joy in the air.

4. Always wear comfortable shoes. I rarely wear flats, but I vastly underestimated how much my very favorite boots would hurt after 12 hours on my feet. Next year, it's wedges all the way.

5. You will never see everything you want to see. Whether the panel of your dreams is already full-- like the Big Damn Heroes panel for Firefly-- or you can't be in two places at once, you're bound to have disappointments. I didn't see half the people I wanted to see. Sometimes, I barely had time to squee and hugattack someone before running off to my next panel. And I never even made it over to the Walk of Fame at the Hilton.

6. If you're on the fence about costuming, wear the damn costume. Dragon*Con is one of the few chances in your adult life to dress up in anything you want and not seem ridiculous. Trust me--whatever you are, there's going to be something weirder, more badly done, or more revealing. There were chicks wearing tutus and band-aids over their taitas. There were people in normal clothes wearing only a steampunk hat. There were people in full-on furry suits. Go crazy. You will be welcomed, and you'll probably make people smile.

7. Do the thing that scares you. You're in the elevator with a star? Say hello. The person next to you in line is wearing a shirt for your favorite show? Share the love. You want to take a picture of someone in a costume or just tell them they look great? DO IT. People are there because they want to be a part of it. You might make someone's day, or you might make a new friend. The only interactions I regret are the ones I didn't have.

8. Take cash into the vendor rooms. I gave myself $50 to spend, cash. Period. I bought two things I really wanted, and I'm really happy about it. (A bottle of Autumn Coolness perfume oil from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and a sugar skull belt purse, in case you're wondering. Plus a cup of Starbucks coffee = $50 exactly.)You can always take a card and look the vendor up online later, if you missed out.

9. Take more pictures than you think you should. One of my only regrets is that I didn't take more pictures. Since I was alone for two out of the three days, there was no one to take my picture, so I barely have any photos of myself or the amazing costumes that I saw.

10. Try to keep your hands free. I had so much more fun when I wasn't carrying anything. Belt bags, backpacks, deep pockets. Integrate carry space into your costume, if you must, or drop purchases off in your room.

11. Don't forget to eat. I did. After breakfast on Friday, I ate only a protein bar and half a stale pretzel. If I had had a drink, I would have passed out on the floor.

12. Make reservations this October to get a host hotel room for next year. We were originally at the W Midtown and magically snagged a room at the Hyatt two days before the con. BEST. MOVE. EVER. Being able to sneak up to your room to eat or switch shoes or do email is imperative. Having a home base made everything so much better.

13. Be prepared for wardrobe malfunctions. I had a little pouch with thread, needle, scissors, and safety pins ready. And I almost walked out of the bathroom with the classic saloon-girl-skirt-caught-in-the-fishnets gaff. When in doubt, ask someone if everything is in place before heading back out into the crowd.

14. If you plan to meet someone, set a time and place. I never saw the people with whom I agreed "I'll find you!" I did find the people who said "We'll be in this restaurant in the back right at 9pm." And decide ahead of time, as the phone signal was way spotty.

15. IF YOU'RE A GEEK WITHIN 4 HOURS OF ATLANTA, YOU NEED TO GO. I can't believe this was my first year. I had such an amazing time, and I'm having trouble re-acclimating to life without thousands of my geek brethren joyously squeeing around me. I'll definitely be back year.

And I'l be ready.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

day 3 of Dragon*Con was all SQUEEEE

1. So this happened.


The Venture Bros. is probably my all-time favorite cartoon, so you can't imagine how excited I am in this photo. I mean, look how gummy that smile is! I also attended their panel and was able to ask a question that has been bothering me for years.

I mean... DUDE. I AM THE BAT.

2. I had a phenomenal panel called Laughing in the Graveyard with the Horror and Dark Fantasy Track. Sitting at a table with Kevin Anderson, J.F. Lewis, Amber Benson, and Jeanne Stein, answering insightful questions by amazing moderator Carol Malcolm... well, we're all going to Hell, but we're laughing all the way there.

3. I saw the Vampire Diaries panel and was within 10 feet of Ian Somerhalder. Rules of Attraction is one of my favorite movies, and I very nearly raised my hand and asked him to recreate the Faith scene

Over the past three days, I have met so many wonderful people, seen so many fantastic friends, seen so many amazing costumes, and eaten so much amazing mall sushi. My first Dragon*Con was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I have never felt so at home in a crowd, never been filled with such childlike joy at seeing the things I love celebrated.

To everyone who bought a book or showed up at a panel or even just smiled at me, THANK YOU. You made the weekend magical.

I think I probably need to sleep now. <3 p="p">
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Saturday, September 1, 2012

I survived my first day of Dragon*Con!

And it rocked.


I had a wand battle with Narcissa Malfoy. Because when a steampunk Ravenclaw is on a panel with a well-known Slytherin, things are bound to go bad. That's author Leanna Renee Hieber, by the way. We had an amazing time on the Frightening Folklore panel of the Horror and Dark Fantasy Track.


I got to feed a baby yeti a bottle of my own blood.

Okay, fine. Someone else's blood. But I covered these adorable Vamplets for Cool Mom Picks last year. It was cool to see them in person and meet their creators!


I couldn't stop staring at the lightsaber display. We've got at least six different lightsabers in our house, but we just can't resist more, especially when they're this shiny.

I liked the magenta one.


That's the Marriott, right there. It's the hotel where the cosplayers hang out, and it also houses the vendors. Now, I don't usually do well with big crowds, but I have never felt more at home among people-- probably because they're all geeks. Everyone's smiling, complimenting costumes, and radiating excitement.


That's my steampunk Ravenclaw costume. Note the amazing Hermione-esque bag made by my super-talented friend Stephanie. The hat is a tiny witch hat from the fabric store with some doodads glued on, including a glittery crow with a cog eye. I ended up turning my Ravenclaw tie into a wand holster, which was pretty handy for my duel with Narcissa. And I made sure to bring fans this year, as things get pretty hot in Atlanta in August when you're wearing twenty layers.

Other highlights of the day include:

* Seeing a dude dressed as Snape dressed as Neville's gran as a boggart. Priceless.

* Meeting Beth and the gang from BPAL and smelling fantastic smellies.

* Seeing all my Alt History peeps in their steampunk finery.

* Seeing all my authorly peeps. There's just no feeling better than hearing your name hollered across a crowded room from a bar full of StormTroopers.

* Meeting so, so many wonderful people. Kady Cross, Lia Habel, Stella Price, Jana Oliver, D.B. Jackson, Faith Hunter, Lucienne Diver, Daniel Sprinkle, Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, PJ Schneider, AL Davroe, Nancy Knight, and many more.

* Seeing Dr. Krog in the hotel lobby wearing a Freddy Krueger hat and smiling at me.

Conclusions: Dragon*Con is about as much fun as a geek can have.

Oh, and I've been added to a panel on the Writing Track:
8:30-9:30pm - Heroines Among Us - Hyatt - Embassy C

If you're here, I hope to see you! EXCELSIOR!

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