The Worldcon That Was

This year’s Worldcon report might as well have been entitled “Never yell fire in a crowded theater.”  Well, almost. I need to break it down into subheads for you to understand.

1)    Never Yell…
…when you can whimper .

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my lower extremities recently. My doctor offered a diagnosis of osteoarthritis and sent me to physio. The therapist thought there was some soft-tissue problems as well as the potential arthritis. After four sessions, one in the pool that nearly destroyed me, I left the last session feeling quite pleased with myself. I didn’t feel like running a marathon, but at the very least I didn’t waddle like my hip joints were close to dislocated.

And then I got into the car Thursday morning, at an hour  at which I am not usually required to be compos mentis, let alone possessed of enough concentration and focus to drive a car over a mountain pass and for more than six hours.

The I-5 corridor was uneventful, but then we turned into the mountains and Stevens Pass was unusually murky. It might have been only mist and cloud, but I was primed for smoke. It didn’t smell like it, though, so I let it slide – and by the time we pulled into Leavenworth it was bright sunshine and clear skies anyway. We took a break, ate some nice German pastries, caffeinated, and hit the second half of the road. My body was starting to rebel. I had a knot at the back of my neck which felt hot – like something was literally on fire back there – and I could sense things that shouldn’t have been moving actually sliding over one another when I tried to shrug it into a more relaxed state. But it was the hips which were the real problem because I’d already been limping in Leavenworth and by the time we climbed out of the car in Spokane I was a full-on train wreck.

I managed the rest of Thursday with just a limp and a wince, dealing with all the responsibilities that had to be dealt with immediately – including my first panel. I ran into half a dozen people I knew – ranging from luminaries like Vonda McIntyre (the GoH) and Larry Niven to various friends I hadn’t seen in too long. I was also supposed to connect with a FB contact, Elizabeth Leggett, but missed her. By this stage I was hungry and footsore. There was supposed to be a party that night which I’d wanted to go to, but by the end of the day, I was moving vewwy vewwy carefully indeed. We wimped out completely and had room service for dinner.

On Friday I was hobbling along like someone had kneecapped me. Of course, my Friday programming involved items that were consistently alternating between the two furthest ends of the convention center. The air outside looked apocalyptic – the sun was just an orange blob in the fug that covered the sky – but see the next section, for all that.

This was my Friday:

10 AM :KaffeeKlatsch (one end of the Conference Centre): That went wonderfully well, with a mix of people I’ve known for years and new faces whom I only met for the first time on the day. I told some funny stories. They all had the grace to laugh. It was fun.
Back to the other end of the CC to deal with things.

12:30 PM: Back to the OTHER end of the CC for my pre-arranged `interview.

2 PM – Back to the OTHER end of the CC for my autographing slot. In something of a tradition, I shared a table with Stanley Schmidt on one side of me – I think if I ever do another Worldcon signing again I am going to insist that it be done this way, we appear to have become something of a Worldcon tradition this way, Mr Schmidt and myself. On the other side of me was a nattily attired L.E Modesitt, in one of his trademark brilliant waistcoats. I got to say hello briefly to Elizabeth Bear, at the next table, and completely failed to even find a moment to connect with Catherynne Valente, further down – because I had actual people who brought actual books to be actually signed and I didn’t just sit there staring into space.

4 PM: back to the OTHER end of the CC for the Writers Workshop, where I was one of the resident pros doing the critiques. Then it was BACK TO THE OTHER END OF THE CC to pick up the husband I had left waiting for me there and we barely managed to scrape by the rest of that evening. In fact, by the third trip across the CC I had actually left him sitting comfortably while I borrowed his cane to help me maneuver across the halls. I ran into any number of people who looked appropriately concerned to see me attached to one of those. By this stage I was in near agony and of course the one thing I had forgotten to pack was aspirin.  I could not get comfortable in bed and sleep was iffy.

Saturday dawned magnificently different, clear and sunny and we were off and running again:

11 AM: Interview and photo shoot, just off the Dealers Room area (again, the opposite end of the CC)

12-1 PM: Manning the SFWA table in the Dealers Room, and at the same time having an extra little hour of signing there. I actually did a brisk trade in my paperback copies of “Abducticon” while here. People picked the book up, begin reading the blurb on the back, started smiling, and then cackled when they hit “… and the coffee in the Green Room was DREADFUL.” Everyone who’s been to a con more than once recognizes this book and gets a look of warm affection when gazing upon it. Which is EXACTLY what I was aiming for. Very happy to see that it is hitting the right demographic.

The LuggageQuick visit to the Terry Pratchett exhibition (and a photograph with The Luggage!) and then it was on to
3:30 PM – My Reading.

People came, bless ‘em all, and I had a proper audience – which, given that this was a Worldcon and there were a dozen worthy alternatives of things to do and places to be, is always a win. More copies of “Abducticon” found homes at that reading and I am immensely pleased at the reception this book has been getting in con circles.

4 PM: interview with a grad student from the UK who asked me to be a part of her study on the role of things like fanfiction and derivative versions of people’s work and the pros’ reactions to this.

I was supposed to be attending the traditional Tea with the Duchess at 7 PM but somehow they couldn’t quite make the proper arrangements for the Tea and although the Duchess was present and accounted for it didn’t quite come together. So we went to the hotel restaurant to grab something to eat, and ended up being found, and then wrapped in a cocoon of loving care, by Gerald Nordley and his lady. They found me some aspirin, they delivered a loaner cane to get around for however long I needed it while still in Spokane, and they generally acted like a couple of guardian angels.

Sunday morning, I moderated a panel called “When we were young”, about books that had been formative influences on the panelists in our larval years. We had Steven Barnes, Scott Lynch, Marissa Meyer, Kevin J Anderson, and myself – and all I had to do, as moderator, was ride herd on a number of articulate, passionate, knowledgeable people who had ideas and opinions and who had the presence and the confidence and the vocabulary to present them. I had to call a halt long before we were really done – there hadn’t even been time for a proper question session from the audience.

And then it was homeward bound.

Of course, these were the bare bones of the con. No mention of meeting old friends, meeting new people, making wonderful serendipitous connections. All of that went on too. It was a WORLDCON and it was magic and the Sasquan people did a magnificent job of it. All kudos to them. But, er, wait a sec. Let’s backtrack just a little.

2)    …Fire…

I’d been following the news about the wildfires in Washington state. There seemed to be enough of them in between home and Spokane to be – well – a cause for travel concern. And then I extrapolated that and read a report about air quality in Spokane and the day before we left it was rated “unhealthy”, specifically singling out people older than 65 or those who had had a stroke, all of which describes my husband, and I was getting antsy. He said, we’re going, I don’t CARE. So we set off fully aware that there were flames out there, and that thousands of acres of forest and not a few homes had already been reduced to ashes and smoke.

Stevens Pass was murkier than we had ever seen it before – but then again we hadn’t driven it for some years, and we had to admit that we didn’t have a valid basis for direct comparison. But it was cool enough outside in the mountains for us to nod at each other and firmly agree that what was hiding the views from us was just mountain mist and high clouds. Yes. That was what it was.

On the road to Spokane, things thickened a little – but not remotely to the extent that I’d been reading on Facebook, about the sun rising as a tiny blood red orb in the smoky skies, making the whole place look extraterrestrial. There were pictures, yes. But it didn’t look so bad, when we approached the city. A bit muggy, yes, a bit brown, the air a tad too… uh… VISIBLE… for comfort… but not TOO bad.

And then, on Thursday night, it began to thicken.

On Friday morning, it was Apocalypse Now. Apparently there were signs on doors eventually dissuading people from venturing outside at all – but that was after I heard the story of an idiot who went jogging in that soup and ended up on a respirator. And you didn’t have to go outside – as the day wore on you started to smell smoke in the corridors. I could smell it in our room when we ended up there on Friday night. Smoke In SpokaneYou couldn’t see past the next couple of blocks out of our hotel room window, outside. There was no sky, no horizon, just this dirty-brown ashen and featureless pall that lay over everything. I had actually been contemplating the delight of a short stroll on the riverside path, just outside our hotel – but my troubles with my hip, and then Friday’s air quality, put paid to THAT.

Saturday was a bit better, blue skies and clear air, and the sun resembling its more usual self – but by Saturday night we were sliding again. When Sunday came, it was getting brownish out there again. I had my final panel, we collected our bits and bobs, and we drove out there. Out onto the highway.

Friends, it was spooky. You couldn’t see further than a few hundred feet to either side of the highway – further in, ghostly outlines of brooding poplars haunted the edges of vision, barely sketched in. Cars on the other side of the highway emerged out of a smoke bank, as though something was vomiting them out of that dragon’s mouth; cars in front of me vanished into that same bank a disconcertingly short way ahead. We stopped to get gas and I could smell the smoke in the thick air, I could taste ashes. TWO HUNDRED MILES WEST OF SPOKANE WE WERE STILL IN SMOKE. The West. Is. On Fire.

More than 500,000 acres (and untold human property and human lives – some literally) have been lost to this conflagration. That is almost too big to comprehend. And yet I viscerally know that it is true because of the air I saw swirling thick and brown through the city streets in Spokane, and blowing across Eastern Washington highways. It’s heartbreaking.

And yet…. This is Worldcon. We’re nothing if not a bunch of creators. I Tweeted at some point that the unofficial anthem of Sasquan was “Smoke gets in your eyes”. By Saturday lunchtime – completely independently of that tweet – someone else had already filked up an entire song about the circumstances surrounding us.

We will none of us forget this con. We were smoked like salmon. Some of us were lucky to get home in good time and in one piece and just the memory of the hint of what it must really be like closer to where real flames are rising. I’ve seen some pictures and it’s catastrophic, unbelievable, entire mountainsides scoured bare and black by the blaze. Oh God, my darling forests, my beloved cedars and maples, I am so sorry. For the whole towns evacuated in the inexorable advance of this conflagration, for people who gathered up kids and pets and a pathetic bundle of belongings and fled, I am so sorry. For the firefighters who are tirelessly trying to get this under control, you have my enduring respect and gratitude; to those who didn’t make it through… I don’t even have words.

The West is on fire. Don’t forget us.

But that wasn’t the only “scorched ground” that was being claimed in Spokane…

3)    …In A Crowded Theatre.

Lo these many years ago, I went and did one of those “sing your own Messsiah” things, where a group of volunteer singers, coached and directed by a professional, get together to sing the Messiah oratorio by Handel. We were doing tolerably well, dutifully following the music and the directions, until we got to the point where the Hallelujah Chorus was due to be sung. The director stopped for a moment, looked us with a small smirky smile, and said, “let’s face it, this is why you’re all here, isn’t it?”

In a situation that is almost but not completely unlike that incident, there were. the Hugo awards of 2015 at Sasquan. No, I dare say that it wasn’t why we were all there… but I would be prevaricating if I didn’t admit that we were all aware of the Hugos, and that a certain electric tingle in the air was building up as we rolled on towards Saturday night.
No, I am not going to go into great gory detail analyzing things here. It’s been done, by other people, elsewhere – you can start with io9, if you want to read more:

http://io9.com/this-is-what-the-2015-hugo-ballot-should-have-been-1725967147
http://io9.com/how-the-hugo-awards-saboteurs-actually-disproved-their-1715469165

And there are other articles. Easily found. I’ll settle for a couple of comments.

I didn’t go to the ceremony itself. We found out a little late that it was a ticketed event because the theatre had fewer seats than warm bodies in attendance on site. I guess they thought first come first served could lead to chaos, so they announced that tickets, although they were free, could be got by queuing some two hours ahead of the ceremony at just the hour that most people were sitting down to dinner, so there was a lot of gnashing of teeth over that. I had been vacillating about going anyway so this tipped the scales; I ended up following the live-tweet feed, and learned of what happened almost in real-time anyway. Which was good enough.

And what happened was simply this. The body of fandom reacted to an infection, and the immune system went into overdrive. For now, at least, the virus is out and the body’s state of health looks to be preserved – I might have wished for a different ceremony, a different set of circumstances, the possibility that some of those nominated got caught up in the whole controversy and lost out in what turned out to be a gigantic and self-destructive paroxysm of “It’s not FAAAAA I I I R!” from the kindergartners in the corner who couldn’t seem to grow up well enough to play with the adults in the room in an equitable manner.

The end result measured up reasonably well with what I hoped was going to happen, and what I expected was going to happen.

What I had hoped was that those TRULY deserving of the rocket would end up holding it… and that those NOT deserving, those who had tried to wrest the award by  bullying and bickering and whining and blackmail, would NOT. I looked at the vote counts, afterwards; it is clear that the “no-award” wins were a message from fandom. And the message was, “You Will Not Pass.”

The what-I-expected part was the social media sphere exploding with puppies and their supporters screaming “We lost, so we won!” in full throat, no matter how little actual sense that made in any form of their narrative. Let’s unpack this – they thought the wrong people and the wrong stories were taking over the Hugos so they packed the ballot with the “right” candidates. This means that they valued the award enough to want to win it  and they LOST. Dramatically. The goal posts then shifted to “Well, *we were on the ballot*, and the fact that you didn’t vote for us means that our point is proved and there is a clique that’s in charge of things and that wants to exclude us”.

Except that the “clique” turned out to be all of fandom, which turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote (the tally was a whopping 65% higher than any previous Hugo vote!)… and the only “clique” in the room turned out to be the puppies themselves. I am told that the losing puppy candidates immediately got up and demonstratively left the theatre – which is more juvenile behavior. They spat out the dummy and they took their toys and they stalked home, sulking. And then the social media exploded with the blame game of the “other” side and how they were all bad and evil and how they were all in cahoots against the pups and their supporters.

One of them turned to someone in an elevator, after the ceremony, and said spitefully, “well, you got what you wanted, didn’t you? You burned the awards to the ground rather than give them to someone you didn’t want to win them.”

To which MY response would be, dude, no, YOU got what you wanted. YOU burned the bridges here. It’s all on YOU. And no, you can’t claim that you “deliberately lost” to win, because you couldn’t know this was going to happen. But that’s the narrative now, changing to fit the circumstances. They’re still put upon, and repressed, and somehow being oppressed… by the future into which they refuse to step. Even as the past to which they cling so violently crumbles to dust in their hands.

When the history books get written… well, I dare say that those referred to as “social justice warriors” are going to come out if it all as better than “sad/rabid puppies”. Even the names are self-selecting. You can’t rail against “social justice” and then claim that you are being oppressed in the name of social injustice. That’s illogical, Mr Spock.

Fandom did what needed to be done. The only thing that could have been done. What happens going forward… well, it’s the future. We shall see when the smoke (this time almost literally…) clears. In the meantime, the looming Hugopocalypse has been turned aside, and 2016 is a new game. Forward. It’s the only way we can go.

Postscript: “Smoke gets in your Eyes”, redux

And so, then, it was over, and we climbed into the car for the journey home. It was, as I said, brown and mucky. The air had taste and texture when I stopped for gas on the outskirts of Spokane. And then we hit the highway, going west.

And it was smoke smoke smoke smoke smoke all the way to the mountains, and well into them. Two hundred long miles of brown air and alien landscapes shrouded in sepia. Saddening, and scary.LeavenworthWe stopped in Leavenworth for supper, ate quickly, and pushed on – but by this stage I was really ready to stop driving. That knot in the back of my neck was the size of a pineapple, and the pineapple felt like it was on a grill – my muscles were hot and knotted and achy. And then we hit the post- Leavenworth road, going into the pass, and it was all I could do not to stop and just sit there taking photographs.

The skies turned unlikely shades of apricot and cinnamon, with shadowy mountain crags silhouetted against them – and in the middle of it all that round red bloody sun hung like a curse. And would not go away. Every time I thought we had put paid to it we’d round a corner or take a turn and there it was again, hanging lower, redder, more baleful. And I was driving directly west. It was a game of chicken and there were moments on the road that I literally had red flecks dancing on my retinas from the direct malevolent crimson glare.

It wasn’t until we hit the I-5, and Everett, literally an hour from home, that the sun finally set on Sasquan – and skies painted themselves into one of the most spectacularly picturesque sunsets ever (and I couldn’t even watch because I was driving, and I was TIRED, and I knew I couldn’t really afford to let my attention lapse).

Towards the end I was looking at my GPS and muttering to myself, “Fifty minutes… I can do this.” “Forty five minutes, I can do this.” I turned into my driveway  riding on fumes, staggered into the house, petted the cats,fell into bed, and slept for ten hours.

And then, because now that it’s over I’m sorry that it is and I wish I was still back there, I sat down to write this. You do realize you just read close to 4,000 words about an event that lasted less than four days in real time? Sasquan, I miss you already.

May the smoke grow less. May fandom continue strong. And we shall all see each other again. Soon.

~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me
 
If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

Vale Sasquan

Another Worldcon is history – and a what a Worldcon it was.

Full report later but in a nutshell – drove seven hours to Spokane to be there and paid for it with pain and stiffness, but didn’t let that stop me meeting old and new friends, respected colleagues, and a few iconic genre giants, not to mention a ghost or two and their legacies. .

Larry Niven and Alma Alexander at Sasquan 2015Steve Barnes Sasquan 2015

Alma with Larry Niven ….and Steven Barnes

Then I drove another seven hours back, half of it through heavy smoke from all the brush and forest fires, and then slept for ten hours straight. I have typed this note with a great deal of impediment and difficulty because my cat is currently making ABSOLUTELY sure I do not go anywhere again. He is sitting in my lap, between me and the keyboard, draped across one of my arms.

There’s more to tell. Later. Until then – vale Sasquan, you were great. Thanks for everything.

~~~~~
Alma Alexander      My books      Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

Sasquan, here I come

Since the 73rd Worldcon is being held in Spokane in a couple of weeks, practically my back yard, I’ll be there — along with some guy you may possibly have heard of, George R.R. Martin? and a few thousand other people. It will be my fifth Worldcon.SasquanI’ll be on a couple of panels, give a reading, attend a Kaffee Klatche with fans, and do some book signings at an official session, or just stop me in the hall.

I’ll also be at attending a RadCon tradition being picked up by SpoCon – Tea with the Duchess. The Duchess, of course, would be me.

If you’re coming to Sasquan, be sure and look me up. It’s always lovely to meet new people, and to see old friends!

My final schedule for the con from the official bulletin:

PANEL
31 Flavors of Fantasy Devoured by Kids and Teens
Thursday 17:00 -17:45, 401C (CC)

Fantasy has become a catch all category for all of the subgenres featuring “fantastic” elements from action adventure to urban and epic fantasy, romantic fantasy, and more! How many sub genres are out there and what elements help to define them? Does the reader’s age affect the growth or definition of a subgenre? Join our panel of young adult and middle grade authors for a lively discussion that gives you a little taste of each sub-genre as they share some of their favorite works across the fantastic spectrum that help to define the various sub-genres.

~~~

Kaffee Klatche with Alma Alexander
Friday 10:00 – 10:45, 202A-KK2 (CC)

Join me and my fans for a small discussion. Coffee and snacks available for sale on the 2nd floor. Please come along and hear all about recent projects, and ones on the drawing board! I will ALSO have some special books on offer – a Kaffeeklattch special! Attendance is limited to nine, so come early. (Though I suspect we can squeeze in a few more if need be,)

~~~

Autographing
Friday 14:00 – 14:45, Exhibit Hall B – (CC)

I’ll be available to sign books, along with Katherine Addison, Marissa Meyer, L. E.Modesitt, Jr., Stanley Schmidt, and Catherynne Valente.

~~~

Reading
Saturday 15:30 – 16:00, Spokane Falls Suite A/B (Doubletree)

I’ll be reading from one of my most recent works – Abducticon, Wolf or Random of The Were Chronicles, or maybe even something from Midnight at Spanish Gardens. I may give you a choice of material…

~~~

Tea Party with the Duchess
Saturday 19:00 – 1945, Grand Ballroom: Salon IV (Doubletree)

SpoCon presents a RadCon tradition; join us for Tea with the Duchess! (The Duchess, yes, that would be me.) Chose a delicate tea cup to represent your unique personality. Every tea cup is different! Enjoy a variety of teas and delicate snacks. This is an experience to enjoy that memories are made on!

Alma Alexander (M)

~~~

PANEL
When We Were Young
Sunday 11:00 – 11:45, 300C (CC)

Panelists share their favorite books from when they were teens, tweens, and children. Find out what books inspired their imaginations, which ones hooked them on SF and fantasy, and which ones made them want to try their own hand at creating stories. Are these books still inspiring today’s young minds? Which of today’s books might be tomorrow’s great memories?

~~~

I hope to see a lot of you there.

Alma Alexander     My books     Email me
 
If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

 

I will walk with you…

When I was a little girl one in my family’s extensive collection of 45 rpm singles — remember those? turntables? vinyl? — was a record of Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite.

I’ve always loved that entire set of music – The Hall of the Mountain King, Anitra’s Dance, the Morning Mood air – but my particular favorite has always been Solveig’s Song. It touched some part of me that I could not, when that young, properly articulate, and did not even know why back then – understanding came well after I first heard the piece of music, and actually read the Ibsen play.

The epiphany explaining that bittersweet, noble, pure, high-minded *joy* of Grieg’s music came when I read the exchange between a remorseful, grieving, bereft Peer Gynt to Solveig, his lady, his love, and he cries out to her, in his anguish, “when have I ever been all I can be,  when have I ever been entitled to call myself honest, true, a *man*?”

She answers, “In my faith. In my hope. In my understanding.”

That piece of absolution rang for me like a bell.

What it means is simply this: it is human to blunder, it is human to make mistakes, it is human to be afraid. But if you are brave enough and honest enough to admit to these human flaws, then there is faith, and hope, and understanding.

In the aftermath of the Hugo drama unfolding this year, writer Vonda McIntyre just wrote a short note which put Solveig’s words into a certain context.

It may not be pure understanding – it is certainly not implied that there is, or will be, complete acceptance – but she is offering herself as a buffer between anyone who is afraid, and all the shadows which are starting  to look as though they might haunt the halls of this year’s Worldcon.

Here’s what Vonda McIntyre said:

“I will walk with you at Worldcon.

I’m not very fond of confrontation. I’m a courtesy 5’1? and my 67th birthday (how did that happen?!) is just after the convention and I’m walking with a hiking pole while recovering from a hiking fall, an injury that’s taking way longer to heal than when I was a pup.

On the other hand I’m a shodan in Aikido.

On the third hand, which I can have because I’m an SF writer, shodan — first degree black belt — is when you realize how much you still have to learn.

But I’m thinking that maybe it would make folks who feel threatened feel a little safer to have someone at their side, maybe even someone with a bunch o’ fancy ribbons fluttering from her name badge, even if that person is shorter, smaller, and older than they are, white-haired and not physically prepossessing. It’s another person’s presence.

It might cause some abuse not to happen.”
~~~
I am no less scared by some of those shadows than the next vulnerable con-goer – but if my presence will help someone else walk a little taller past a threatening shadow in some dark corner, I am stepping up with the same words.

I will walk with you at Worldcon.

~~~~~
VB RandomA Random treat

“Books are great, no question,” my favorite local bookstore, Village Books, says. “But books signed by the author? Now that’s some exceptional reading material right there.”

My Random, Book 1 of The Were Chronicles, is featured here. If you haven’t read it, hurry up. Book 2, Wolf, is coming out next month.

Order Random from Village Books HERE

Or go to MY BOOKS in the masthead menu above for more options, including the chance to pre-order Wolf.

~~~~~
Or don’t forget your library. And if they don’t have a copy of Random, ask why not?

The Best Books about Libraries and Librarians

At Off the Self, Caitlin Kleinschmidt  offers some intriguing books in time for National Library Week.

One you might not put in this category until you think about it…

Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger:

This untraditional love story is the tale of Henry DeTamble, a dashing adventuresome librarian who inadvertently travels through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course.

Their passionate affair tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.

 

 

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
25 Beverly Cleary Book Covers on her 99th Birthday

Beverly Cleary book covers are classics, Alison Nastasi writes at Flavorwire.

Often, there was nothing more exciting than getting a new Cleary book and seeing what kind of young adult dramas were playing out on the page, lovingly illustrated by artists like Louis Darling and Alan Tiegreen. The Newbery Medal-winning author celebrates her 99th birthday today. We’re honoring Cleary’s memorable characters — Ramona Quimby, Beezus, Ralph S. Mouse, and friends — with a look back at some of the best vintage book covers.
socksRead the whole story HERE

~~~~~
Writing a great female character

Justine Graykin blogged some sterling writing adice:

In a recent discussion, a fellow writer said, “This is how to create a good female character: Write a good character. Add female pronouns.”

Brilliant.
pronounsAnd I say, ‘Amen.’

Read the whole story HERE

~~~~~
THIS ‘n THAT

I can finally go into space.

The International Space Station Finally Gets an Espresso Machine, and It’s Called ‘ISSPresso’

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
QUOTE Words you speak~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.

15 Words

15 wordsLovereading.co.uk has created an infographic for language enthusiasts called “15 Words You Never Knew Came from Literature.”

Some of the books featured in this image include The Hobbit, Catch-22, and Gulliver’s Travels.

See the whole infographic HERE

~~~~~
11 Types of People You Meet In Book Clubs

Not every book club is perfect, Kate Erbland writes in Bustle, and most of them involve a strange coterie of very different personalities with very different tastes, all battling it out to have their literary opinions be heard. She tells us about the 11 types of people who will bring passion to your friendly local book club.

For example:
NononoThe Deep Dissenter
No matter how carefully everyone picks each month’s book selection or how smoothly the discussion is guided, the Deep Dissenter finds something to pick apart that no one else noticed. Perhaps the author of this month’s book has a “better” novel you should have chosen instead or there were simply too many pages in the latest selection, no matter what, she’ll find fault anywhere and everywhere.

Read the rest HERE

~~~~~
It’s going to be a busy year

I’m racing along so fast this year that my head is spinning madly. This is the state of play…

February:Dawn of MagicThe fourth and final Worldweavers book, “Dawn of Magic,” has been cleared for landing. Before you order a copy, you might want to do some catch-up by re-reading books 1 through 3. (all now available as paperbcks from Sky Warrior Books) – because this fourth one is the finale, and it looks back over its predecessors with affection…

I’ve always had a soft spot for this book and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I think it winds up the Worldweavers series beautifully. It’s nothing short of the story of how the soul of human magic was lost – was STOLEN – and there’s an expedition to take it back, leading straight to the heart of the Alphiri Crystal City where Thea has to face some of her greatest fears and make some tough choices, the Trickster finally finds his true role in the grand scheme of things, and Nikola Tesla rises to meet his destiny.

RandomThere is also a reading for “Random” at 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at Village Books here in Bellingham. If you are in the area, please come along,

I”ll be glad to see you there!
March:

AbducticonAbduction: my first SF humor.

More about this – oh, MUCH more! – closer to the release date – you’ll see it here first!

In addition to my new book, there is Rainforest Writers Retreat where I have two possible projects I am still dithering about which I want to work on.

Later in March, there will be a book event for “Random” in Seattle at University Book Store. Again, if you’re local and I missed inviting you, please forgive me, and please come!

April: I think I have time to take a breath, but it’s going to be busy because it’s going to be ramping up for the release …

May:

… of “Wolf”, the second of The Were Chronicles book. Exact release date not yet fixed.

June:

Going to Odyssey Writing Workshop as visiting speaker. The annual summer writing workshop is an in-person, six-week workshop held on the campus of St. Anselm College, Manchester, NH. Guest Lecturers for the 2014 Summer.

They did an interview with me, here:

Then I hope to go on a little mini book tour on the east coast. Watch this space.

July: My birthday. I’m taking a bit of time off.

August:

Worldcon, Spokane. Worldcons are always intense and fun. With several new books out… I am going to be BUSY at this one.

Not sure about September and October but there’s Orycon in November.

And then it’s Christmas again.

There goes the year.

I think I’d better stock up on caffeine.

~~~~~
FREE ebook

I will send a free ebook version of Random, Book 1 in my YA series The Were Chronicles, to the next 10 people who pledge to leave a review on Amazon.

To accept the offer, just send an email HERE with the subject line “Free Random Offer”
 Include:
(1) a valid email address to send the ebook to
(2) a single sentence in the body of the email acknowledging that a review will follow.

I hope you love the book, but reviews, of course, need only be honest.

Amazon finally has the print version back in stock.

~~~~~
Pop-Up Books, not just for children anymore

When paper engineers turn their talents to books, the end result is the wonderfully tactile experience of pop-ups, Off the Shelf tells us.

You may think of pop-ups as solely the realm of children, but the books on this list are equally entertaining for adults, too! Each page will pull you into the sophisticated, multi-sensory world of intricately crafted paper scenes from classic literature to abstract art, cultural icons to poetry, wondrous creatures to mind-bending alphabets, and even a book that teaches you how to do-it-yourself.

For example:

M.C.-Escher-Pop-Ups1M.C. Escher Pop-Ups
by Courtney Watson McCarthy

The mesmerizing work of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher has fascinated viewers for more than seventy years. His illustrations constantly play with our perceptions of reality by layering multiple conflicting perspectives. This book presents some of the artist’s most intriguing works in original three-dimensional pop-ups.

 

See more HERE

~~~~~
Open Letter to the Man offended by Locally Laid

(If these eggs were available to me here in Bellingham, I’d certainly buy them.)
Locally laidResponse

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Thank you for reaching out to let us know your opinion of the Locally Laid Egg Company…

Here’s why we named our company, Locally Laid. We are the first pasture-raised egg company in the Upper Midwest providing you with eggs which are laid locally….The average food product in this country travels some 1,500 -2,000 miles from farmer to processor to distributor to your plate. That’s a lot of diesel burned and C02 pumped in the air. Our cartons travel a fraction of those miles.

We’ve turned down lucrative contracts that would have taken our eggs out of the area because of our environmental stance. Plus, we plant a tree with every delivery we make to offset our minimal carbon footprint.

Read the whole letter HERE

~~~~~
THIS ‘n THAT

Google aims to be your universal translator. Its Translate app has the ability to instantly converse with someone speaking in a different language, and the capability to translate street signs into your native language.

That’s a godsend, because not everyone speaks Klingon, you know.

~~~
Oldest Facebook user celebrates 107th birthday — Edythe Kirchmaier, born on January 22, 1908, is the oldest registered user on the popular site.

~~~
Illinois Law Allows School Officials to Demand Students’ Passwords

Read more about the troubling law HERE

~~~~~
Quote of the Day
QUOTE Review~~~~~
Alma Alexander     My books     Email me

If you found this blog post interesting, amusing or helpful, then please use the icons below to share it with other writers, readers or the guy next to you on the subway.