Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Zombie playlist

Because I know you're all dying to know what an author listens to while she writes, right?

It used to be much harder. You had to find just the right album for a given book. I listened to SCHINDLER'S LIST during THE POLARIS PASSAGE. For SANCTUARY it was Josh Groban (shaddup). For NOCTURNAL URGES it was Evanescence. "Bring Me To Life" is, in my head, Samantha's song.

Now, with the marvelousness that is iTunes, I can compile my own playlists. They change over the course of the book, but while I'm writing the zombie novella with the working title THE COLD ONES, here's what I'm listening to:

1. Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (Allegro: First Movement)
2. Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater)
3. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen)
4. The Downeaster Alexa (Billy Joel)
5. Farewell to Nova Scotia (Three Pints Gone)
6. Red Right Hand (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
7. Hurt (Johnny Cash)
8. A Sailor's Prayer (Three Pints Gone)
9. The Town I Loved So Well (The Irish Tenors)
10. Fight the Good Fight (Triumph)
11. Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen)
12. Don't Fear the Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)
13. We Used to Be Friends (The Dandy Warhols)
14. The Final Trawl (Three Pints Gone)
15. Only Our Rivers Run Free (The Irish Tenors)
16. Soldier's Child (Three Pints Gone)
17. Old Man River (William Warfield)
18. People Are Strange (The Doors)

In other news, many thanks to the good gentleman at my local comic shop. I think I must be the only female customer with a pull list, or he has an exceptional memory. I only come by every month or two, and yet he recognizes me instantly and gets my pull list ready for me.

At any rate, it was a light month, and so I asked him, "If you had to recommend a zombie book..."

"The Walking Dead," he said instantly.

"Wow, that was fast," I replied.

He talked me into it. I picked up the first trade and read it over lunch. And at the end of the lunch I couldn't finish eating, I went back to the comic shop. He asked me if I'd forgotten something. No, I replied. Just needed to pick up volume 2. And if it holds my attention the way volume 1 did, I'll be adding it to my pull list. Excellent work, just the kind of zombie writing I like: zombies without gore, where the characters who survive are the interesting ones. Not scary-gross... scary oh-my-god-what-hell-life-shall-become.

So thanks, Comic Book Guy. You rock in all the good ways. And now I shall be giving you more money. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A(nother) Good Cause

I'm always asking you folks to ante up the case - to my Relay team, to the Cub Scouts and buy my books, please. But two co-workers are walking in a charity drive, and I am compelled to come to you again.

There's two things making this effort different:

a) It benefits the Violence Prevention Center, and

b) They've only raised $120 of a $500 goal. And some of that is from me.

Domestic violence isn't the sexiest of charity causes. It's not universal, like cancer. Its victims aren't usually wide-eyed children. There is no pretty poster to be made. But every woman who's ever had a black eye knows how vital services to prevent domestic violence are.

Consider donating a little cash. Even $5 is enough. Paypal to elizabethdonald@yahoo.com by Friday. And bless you for it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Muse on Zombies

ME: I imagine it's a bad sign when I'm less than 3,000 words into the story and already reimagining the beginning.
MUSE: Yup.
ME: I always want to think stories in linear time.
MUSE: Too bad that sucks.
ME: It really does.
MUSE: You know why, don't you?
ME: The first thing that's important isn't where the story begins. The story begins with the first thing that's different.
MUSE: You're not still listening to Orson Scott Brownshirt, are you?
ME: Just because he's a right-wing homophobic asshole doesn't mean he's not right about writing. I liked SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD.
MUSE: And was that linear?
ME: Oh, shut up.
MUSE: So where does the story begin?
ME: The scream. Jeff Pagliei's scream in the street.
MUSE: That kicks Sara right into soldier mode. We'll never see her out of soldier mode.
ISABEL: And they'll hate her. She's way too cold.
MUSE: She is not.
ME: She's not cold. She's efficient.
ISABEL: Nobody's gonna like her if we don't see her be human first.
MUSE: People appreciate a lead with strength. No weakling is going to survive a zombie invasion.
ME: Flashbacks.
MUSE: Christ, not again.
ME: We have to let people know where the zombies come from.
ISABEL: Point of fact? They're not really zombies.
ME: They're sort of zombies. I can play with the conventions.
ISABEL: But -
ME: Shush.
MUSE: Can we get back to how the beginning sucks?
ME: Two soldiers sharing a cup of coffee, and that conversation tells us where the zombies come from, and establishes the friendship...
MUSE: Huh? Sorry, I nodded off.
ISABEL: But... but..
MUSE: Shut up, Snow White.
ME: The scream in the street.
ISABEL: And how do we have them give a damn about Sara? Or Gary, or Paul, or Parish?
ME: Language, my goodness, Isabel.
ISABEL: Well, I just don't want to waste 20,000 words on people we don't care about.
MUSE: They'll care.
ME: When they see Parish gnawing on Jeff's arm. The universal taboo of cannibalism.
ISABEL: Not enough.
ME: Flashbacks.
MUSE: Mother-fuck.
ME: Get with the program, would you?
MUSE: This is a camel of a story, that's for sure.
ISABEL: Camel?
ME: A horse designed by committee.

Zombies R Us

That was actually a suggested title. My father is not always helpful when it comes to titles. He did come up with A MORE PERFECT UNION, but that book kinda tanked, so maybe I can blame him.

You ever hear a piece of music that just completely changes the picture in your head? I had pretty much figured out how I was going to write this zombie novella. I don't have enough time to write the whole thing, then research it and rewrite it from scratch, which is my usual procedure. So I'm doing something amazing: plotting and researching it BEFORE I write it.

This is why God laughs when we make plans.

I was just about ready, folks. Had it all, down to the willing victims (though I still need a few more soldiers). Then I attended a pirate festival this past weekend. I heard a terrific band called Three Pints Gone, and their performance of, "A Sailor's Prayer."

Suddenly the novella is going in a totally different direction. And I can't call it "The Monsters on Main Street" anymore.

So thanks to Three Pints Gone, for absolutely knocking me over (almost literally) with your performance. But a bit of a knacker to you as well, because now I have to start all over with the research and the plotting.

Zombies. They're the things that go CHOMP in the night.

Friday, September 22, 2006

In lieu of actual content...

Didn't I promise you actual entries? Okay, it was a busy week.

But before we get to actual content, it's time to save one of the good guys.

Apex Digest is a good mag. It hasn't been around long, but it's printed the likes of Ben Bova. Hell, it's got a sub from me, and I'd be beyond proud to appear. And, like all the good ones, it's in trouble.

http://saveapex.maryrobinettekowal.com/category/raffle/

I wish I'd had the chance to help Undanted Press's Whispers from the Shattered Forum before it vanished. And this is the coolest idea for saving a magazine I've ever seen. Here's some of the stuff being raffled off:

A signed print of Burning Names by Alex McVey (8.5 X 11 in. acid-free archival quality print)

Have a story edited by Beth Wodzinski of Shimmer Magazine

Have a story edited by Jason Sizemore

A signed first edition hardcover of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

A signed Midnight Syndicate t-shirt plus stickers

Copy-edited manuscript of Ben Bova’s novel, Titan

6 issue subscription to the signed limited Clarkesworld Magazine chapbooks

Philip K. Dick Award Winner M.M. Buckner - Signed Set of Hyperthought, Warsurf, and Neurolink

Kevin Anderson - Resurrection, Inc. - Signed limited Edition. (list price is $45.00), also a signed copy of Hopscotch

F. Paul Wilson - The Tery: Definitive Edition - rare advance proof (only 1 of 50) that comes with a signed book plate by Mr. Wilson

Jack Ketchum - Offspring - the sequel to Off Season - a rare Signed Publisher’s Copy. (list price is $45.00)

Geoffrey Girard - signed Tales of the Atlantic Pirates, signed Tales of the Jersey Devil

An autographed copy of AlphaOops by Alethea Kontis

A copy of Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Sherrilyn Kenyon has generously donated three copies of this, so we’ll be drawing three names from this hat.)

An autographed copy of A House Divided, signed by Deborah LeBlanc

Brian Keene - signed Terminal, The Conqueror Worms, The Rising and City of the Dead

You know you want it. Go buy some raffle tickets. Save Apex and win cool stuff.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sept. 11: Kings of a Shattered Mountain

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

There seem to be three schools of thought as to how to commemmorate the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11: a) swamp us with "I remember..." interviews for 24 hours; b) tell your story of Where You Were When It Happened; c) say nothing at all. A friend of mine posted that no one should say anything unless we have something new to say, and no one has anything new to say.

It was a crazy day for us in the news business, even as far removed from the crisis as St. Louis, and it wasn't until the special edition was on the street and things had calmed a little that we realized we were covering the biggest story we'd ever see.

Or so we devoutly hope.

Each year, I have tried to think of something to say on Sept. 11. Each year, I've considering writing about where I was, what I was doing. But how is my story any different? One of ten thousand reporters trying to make sense of it from nine states away. Each year, I try to think of something new, something to put it in perspective without propaganda, dogma or schmaltzy heartstrings.

But each time I try, I just remember that mid-afternoon moment when the special edition had moved out, and I realized what had happened. That night, I wrote a column for my now-defunct webzine, Scarlet Letters. And I've never been able to write about it since.

All the nonsense and the artificiality of a five-year anniversary aside, it is not a day that should ever go unmarked. It may be that we have nothing new to say. But to pretend it didn't happen... that allows us to repress it, to forget it, to blithely go about our business and leave the messy business of terrorism and the war to politicians and generals. It is that mindset that lets us ignore the fact that bin Laden is still at large.

It is history, and history should never go unmarked. I may not have anything new to say, but I will not let it pass unremembered.


SCARLET LETTERS: Kings of a Shattered Mountain

Sept. 11, 2001

I’ve often felt that only the deaths of thousands would jolt America out of its stupor.

I am heartsick to be right.

Actually, it’s not yet known if I’m right. Too many people are rushing to judgment in reaction to this morning’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with doubtless many other targets that failed. We’ve heard that it’s the culminating project of Osama bin Laden and his army of psychotics. We’ve heard it was the Palestinians, who at last report were celebrating in the West Bank.

Mostly, people are calling for us to turn whatever country did this into a sheet of glass.

Welcome to the Gaza Strip. Or Northern Ireland. Or any place you want to name that has been the target of constant terrorist attacks over the last fifty years. Note that we automatically assume whichever nation did this must be in a desert.

Oh, we’ve been so damn smug. We’re the only superpower left in the world. No one would dare mess with us because we’re king of the mountain.

What utter nonsense.

“Coddled No More” states a Washington Post column this morning. It perfectly sums up our attitude as we watched historic buildings crumble and the very symbols of our government go up in flames. When reports of a fire on the Washington Mall came out, I found myself thinking of the Smithsonian and the National Archives and weeping, thinking of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The White House, with its irreplacable history and artwork, evacuated like any ordinary federal building.

These things are more important than their walls and mortar. They are symbols of our country, of the truths we have held to be self-evident for hundreds of years. We have forgotten that once we were a hungry nation of upstarts, that we are not the masters of all we survey.

The Old World Order was simple. Everyone was either in the American camp or the Soviet camp. The U.S. and Soviet leaders growled at each other and rattled sabers, but no one made a move because - surprise! - such a move would inevitably kill everyone in the world. So you could make a lot of noise about how the other guy better toe the line, and you could pull out of treaties and conferences and thumb your nose at “little” countries.

No more.

The New World Order means there are no more superpowers. It’s not us vs. them anymore; it’s us and them and them and them and them and them, all living on this little ball of dirt together and we’re all stuck with each other. Playing bully-boy games doesn’t work when the other guy doesn’t play by the rules, and winning means something different to him than to you.

As much as I’d like to blame all of this on our president's brilliantly moronic foreign policy, I can’t. This has been coming for decades, and is too large a consequence to be laid on any one man’s shoulders. I thought he would stumble us into a war somehow, but it's too soon and too big - this has been planned for years, not months. The most I can hope is that he won't make it any worse.

It is often those outside our borders who have the better view of our own hubris. In Britain today, it is already tomorrow, and the London Independent included a brilliant column on this very issue by Mary Dejevsky, titled “All-American Nightmare.” She writes:

“Beyond the personal tragedies of the individuals and the families whose lives will be changed forever, the greatest and longest-lasting damage of all will be to the American psyche. America has always stood apart from other countries by its grand designs, its ingrained optimism and its sense of well-being. However beleaguered individuals, institutions and governments might be at any one time, America felt good about itself; that was the enduring quality of the nation.

“One response to this multiple act of destruction in the two centres of American power could be defiance and perhaps a feeling of national solidarity. But Americans, unlike Britons, are unused to comprehensive adversity. The spirit of the Blitz is not something Americans have experienced collectively, even in a previous generation. They are not used to collective insecurity, except personal insecurity on dangerous city streets. And as a people, they are not accustomed to having their authority - or their innate goodness or rightness - challenged.”

“Coddled No More” says that people are wandering around New York City today in a daze, some openly crying. Don’t worry, assured a visiting Israeli. Once the bombs start going off daily, it doesn’t upset you anymore.

We have all been given a cataclysmic push off our shattered mountain. We must seek out those who did this - and, for the record, my money’s on the Taliban - but our examinations must go beyond whodunit and a swift and terrible punishment. We must examine the entire worldview that states we are the sole owners of this little dustball, and realize it’s time to share with the other children and give them the respect they deserve.

Otherwise, they’ll push back.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sleepwalkers Chat!

We said we'd do this quarterly, so here we are! Tuesday is the second Sleepwalkers Chat, featuring 10 percent more snark!

WHO: Jeff Strand, Elizabeth Donald, Frank Fradella, Kit Tunstall and Jay Smith
WHAT: Sleepwalkers Chat!
WHEN: 8-10 p.m. EST Tuesday, Sept. 12
WHERE: Wilderness Chat Room (directions below)
WHY: To talk! Hear about the new books, the adventures on tour, that thing about Frank signing women's breasts at Dragoncon... Oops! Also some new stuff coming out. Oh, and maybe some PRIZES...

So drop by and join us! Or else!

WILDERNESS CHAT ROOM INSTRUCTIONS

a) Go to http://wilderness.homeip.net/wilderness/connect/bean/index.html.
b) Wait while it loads. This can take a minute. You may see a little coffee cup thinking.
c) If it asks you if you trust the applet, you say YES.
d) You'll see a little black screen. Click File and go down to Connect. 
e) It will ask you for a login name and password. You only have to do this step once. Don't worry, no one's logging so much as an IP address.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

DRAGONCON: Post-Con Depression

Happens every time. Conventions are like mountaintop experiences, trapped in a small space with people who share your interests and most of whom bathe. You can crack a joke that the convention center layout was obviously designed by Hal 2000, and you don't get a funny look that says, "What the hell are you talking about?" Hey, sometimes you even get a laugh. Because they've seen the same movies, read the same books, and they get it.

You can wax literary about Wonder Woman as the balancing archetype of truth between Superman's archetype of justice and Batman's archetype of vengeance. You can discuss the impact of feminism in latter-day science fiction television and warrior-woman imagery in fantasy art. You examine the impact of Victorian sexual repression on the popularity of Bram Stoker's vampiric vision and compare it to the evolution of the vampire in modern popular culture as related to the sexual revolution(s) in the latter half of the 20th century.

In short, you geek out. With 30,000 of your closest friends. And Dragoncon TV to boot.

But then comes the end of the con. The dealers offer their please-God-don't-make-me-cart-this-stuff-back-to-my-van sales. The panels are thinly attended as people race to pack up their stuff and get out of the hotel before someone calls security to evict them and their nine roommates. The bill arrives, and everyone is shocked to see that yes, they really do charge for wireless access, the wankers.

Post-con depression. It's time to leave Rivendell and return to the world of the mundanes. Time to go back home, to toss the black T-shirts in the washing machine and send the velvet cloak to the cleaners, because the smell of whatever they were serving in the Stargate party is really strong.

Time to go back to work, where you have to pretend the elven necklace is something you saw at Claire's instead of a handmade beauty designed by a goth girl with nine piercings in her face. And when you slip and crack a joke about going Full Metal Buffy on someone, they blink and say, "Huh?"

Worst of all, time to hug your friends goodbye, wave farewell as we all go home, and resolve to do this again next year - only better.

Post-con depression. For me, it's not so bad. Unlike 90 percent of con-goers, I'm coming home with more money than when I left. Okay, after I pay the hotel bill and outstanding promotional expenses and order books for the next con, it's not so much of a profit. But as of this morning, I sold every single book I brought with me to Atlanta, and who can complain about that?

As I write this, I am sitting in an airport restaurant. A man is playing the piano, a strange medley that jumps from familiar tune to familiar tune without the slightest pause, and it all sounds written that way. He has paused only once in the last twenty minutes, and I am the only one who clapped. When I'm done with my chicken sandwich, I will go over and put money in his jar. I can, because I did very well this year. And he is doing good work.

He's making it impossible to succumb to post-con depression. Hey, I could use some sleep. There is certainly plenty of laundry to do. But really, all I regret is that I won't see these people for another year. I miss them already. The mountaintop was great this year, folks.

Let's do it again, what do you say?. Next Labor Day, same place. Only better.

Monday, September 04, 2006

DRAGONCON: Selling Like Quark

Happy beyond words to report that as of Sunday night, I am down to one NOCTURNE and two SETTING SUNS.

This convention has succeeded beyond my imagining. My insane schedule has proven manageable with extensive amounts of caffeine. The panels have been well-stocked with intelligent, friendly audiences and terrific panelists. I don't think there really has been a true asshole encounter yet. The booth is doing well - New Babel is selling books like candy.

Today I took a little time to be a fangirl. Just an hour, okay? I shook Nicholas Brendon's hand, and he's just as yummy in person. No, seriously, I wanted to thank him for his work as the spokesman for the Stuttering Foundation, as the mother of a stutterer. If I'd had the time, I'd have told him that my little boy used to suffer from a terrible stutter, and he's an enormous BUFFY fan. I can point to Xander and say, "He used to stutter too," and my son feels better about himself, and knows the future can be bright. But I had only seconds, so I passed on the fangirliness.

Also spied on or chatted with George Romero, Dean Haglund, Richard Hatch, Lee Meriwether, Mickey Rooney, Anthony Daniels, Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk, Peter David, Cherie Priest, Michael Stackpole, and shared a panel with Keith DeCandido, who actually recognized me the next day, because he's classy that way. I have a horrible memory for faces AND names, so I regularly make an ass of myself at these things. Next year, I shall make my flunky write down the name of everyone I meet. I have somehow managed to miss Steven Savile, James Callis, Tony Todd and Denise Crosby. I saw George Takei for the fourth or fifth time, but still have never had a chance to tell him my stupid fangirl story. Saved for another time, folks. It's late.

And I just rode up the elevator with Chewbacca. No, not a tall fanboy in a Chewbacca costume. Peter Mayhew. It was an elevator, so I left the poor man alone. But someone of course asked him for a picture, and he politely declined in the best British fashion. Folks, when they're off-duty, leave the celebrities alone. (Peter Mayhew really is ungodly tall.)

Three books left to sell tomorrow. I have a panel in the morning and a signing in the afternoon, after which I make a mad dash to the airport and return to St. Louis, where it will be just as humid as it's been in Atlanta. Eventually I'll finish processing the whirlwind that Dragoncon has been, and a more substantive post may be on its way. Along with the annual rant on how the Hyatt was clearly designed by Hal 2000.

But while I'm thinking about it, a few thank-you's:

• To the directors of the writing, gothic and sci-fi literature tracks, who have managed such wonderful panels;
• To the whole Dragoncon staff, for steering the ship as best they can with 30,000 crazypeople;
• To the celebrities, for putting up with us fawning fanpeople;
• To every single person who bought my book(s) this weekend, unaware how much their dollars and their support mean;
• Particularly to the woman who bought four of my books at once;
• And to the woman standing in a non-line for my first signing, who picked up my book and was eagerly waiting for me to sign it;
• To Elonka Dunin, in advance;
• To Melodee, for making my day with her reaction to "Sisyphus"; and to Melodee, Vernard and Jeff for being fantastic hosts for the third year in a row;
• To the real Anne Freitas and Kelly Parker, for wearing their T-shirts that read, "Freitas and Parker: My Fandom Can SHOOT Your Fandom" throughout the convention, and for telling people about the Nocturnal Urges series when they ask what the hell their shirts mean;
• To Madeleine Oh and the ladies from Samhain Press, for making me crack up nineteen times;
• To the quite-respectable crowd at yesterday's reading, even though they made me read the teddy bear story again;
• To the New Babel Lackeys, for manning the booth so well, selling the books and cracking wise like all lackeys should;
• To the Dragoncon TV folk, for making us all laugh like crazed idiots all weekend;
• As always, to the Dragon Ladies, for being good roommates and good sports and wonderful flunkies;

And most especially to Frank Fradella. For publishing SETTING SUNS, for promoting the hell out of it all weekend, for letting me sell NOCTURNE at his booth just to make my life easier, for buying dinner tonight, and for being a hell of a guy.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

DRAGONCON: The Agony of De Feet

Today has been a zooming day thus far, and it's only half over. Spent much of the day in the dealer's room, hawking books like mad. We're selling quite well, from my point of view, at least. I'm down to only a handful of SETTING SUNS and have sold at least half the NOCTURNEs.

Only one fan showed up for my signing, but that's to be expected, I guess. I'm signing books all the time at the booth, so that's probably why. I met the marvelous Elonka Dunin, and we chatted about Wikipedia for quite some time. Also met up with the force of nature that is Sara Harvey and several old friends.

I also had my reading, and the crowd demanded that I read "Jesus Loves Me." Good lord, do you people love the evil teddy bear. I think I may need to design a T-shirt for the "Can't Sleep... Bear Will Eat Me" image Devin Harris created. Speaking of T-shirts, Anne Freitas and Kelly Parker wore their T-shirts together, and I got a great photo of them. The shirts read, "Freitas and Parker: My Fandom Can SHOOT Your Fandom." I love them. They look GREAT. I fall into little helpless giggles whenever I see them. The photo will be on the web site.

It has been gratifying to see such a positive reaction to my work, to see so many books walking away, to be well on my way to selling out on Saturday. There's still a day and a half to go, after all.

I called my son tonight. When my father handed the phone to him, I sang, "You are my sunshine... my only sunshine... you make me happy... when skies are gray..."

He replied, "Mom? You're freaking me out."

I still haven't stopped laughing.

Next: Drinks with the Cut-N-Curl Girls, followed by a panel on... um... something... and a late-night gathering of a social nature at Vernard and Melodee's pad. Dinner? Sleep? Um, is this Dragoncon or not?

DRAGONCON: Sex and Booze

Okay, not really sex.

Today was a very good day. I spent much of the day at the iHero booth hawking New Babel books, including my own. We moved several books, and I was quite pleased with the turnout considering the iHero booth is as far in the corner of the dealer's room as you can get and still be in the dealer's room and not the parking lot.

I finally met the dashing David Wallsh, and we attended the artists' reception together. There's a few really interesting pieces, and I already know the piece of art I'm going to buy if I make enough money at the booth.

I wore the Cleavage Dress to the sex panel - there's always a sex panel, and I'm always on it. The marvelous Fred Grimm was the moderator, and tossed a good bit of snark this way. He also stuck me with the Question: What's the difference between erotica and porn? I could repeat my answer, but the post-panel alcohol has muddled my brain. Suffice to say I have made an ass of myself only twice today - a good balance for con - and neither was at the sex panel. I also sold several books after the panel.

Then Frank and David both joined me at Vernard and Melodee's party, which was, as usual, a blast and a half. Vernard always mixes drinks according to the person's taste and personality, and he always gets it right. Frank bailed early, but David hung around for a while. Later I finally met Russ and bumped into about nine other people I haven't seen in a year. I tell you, there's nothing like Dragoncon for a few blasts of fun with friends.

Any pictures of me should be disregarded. I had a couple of drinks.

Also, there are pictures of Vernard and another man nibbling on Dana's neck. I had nothing to do with encouraging this. Okay, I had very little to do with it.

Nothing that glows was consumed, and it was good to spend an evening laughing with friends. There's worse ways to wind down the night.

Tomorrow: More bookselling. We shall sell more books, Master. Yes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

DRAGONCON: Swimming in the Hard Rock Cafe

11:32 p.m. EDT Thursday
Atlanta Hilton

This just in: Frank Fradella cannot be trusted near water.

After spending hours waiting for Anne and Dana to make it down from North Carolina, and for Frank to make it up from Florida, we finally met up at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was loud, and we're old. But a good time was had nonetheless.

I am never getting over the sight of an entire restaurant of conpeople and several waitpersons doing the YMCA dance as the Village People cavorted on TV screens. I think I laughed so hard I ruptured something. Particularly when we all pointed at Frank every time they sang, "Young man!"

This was after Frank had spilled a full glass of ice water in my lap.

This was before Frank spilled another full glass of water on Anne and himself.

The waitpeople started making cracks about our table. Each time they brought us more water, they placed it as far away from Frank as possible.

Dana suggested that perhaps our table was salvaged from the Titanic.

Conclusion: Frank Fradella plus water equals BRRR in uncomfortable places.

We have now safely navigated the travel, hotel and registration hoops and are ensconced in our Hilton room in the sky, drinking Captain Morgan's rum and Diet Coke, waiting for DragonCon TV to come the hell on already, and annoyed with the hotel for refusing us a rollaway bed. It's going to be, er, cozy in the room.

But as we toasted about an hour ago: Here's to DragonCon, here's to the Dragon Ladies, here's to good times and no drama. And my own private plea: Please-God let me move some books.

Onward...

DRAGONCON: Flying the Friendly Skies

11:11 a.m. CST Thursday
Airborne

Okay, smartasses. Whoever called my cell phone at the instant the plane was taking off? You're verrrry funny. If they take me away to Guantanamo for forgetting to turn off my cell phone, or my plane crashes because your signal mangled a thingamabob in the cockpit... well, you'll be very sorry. Meh.

In other news, INFERNII is now exactly 50,001 words. WOOOOOOOO!

----
In case anyone was wondering, Anne was the smartass.

DRAGONCON: Liftoff

9:36 a.m. CST
St. Louis Lambert Airport

I am disappointed. Not only did I not get strip-searched by the TSA, but the St. Louis airport does not have wireless, free or otherwise. Rats.

Muchas gracias to Chris, for generously getting up at the crack o' dawn to help me finangle my enormous luggage and less-enormous son. I am happy to report that a combination of judicious packing, logistics engineered by Chris, and a small shipping issue reduced Monstro's weight to 50.5 lbs. and they let me slide on the half pound. Which is good, because I try not to throw fits at airports for fear of Gitmo, but damn.

Of course, it means I'll be hauling 50 lbs. of Monstro, 22 lbs. of DanaBag and 25 lbs. messenger bag across Atlanta. Dragon Ladies: I will need a shower and possibly a shot of morphine when I arrive. Darn books.

After all my fretting and careful planning, I got through check-in and security molestation in about, oh, ten minutes. It took longer to take off my boots and barrette and put them back on than it did to get through the X-ray machine that is probably giving us all cancer.

Upside: The concourse has Cinnabon. There is no bad here. I still have an hour and twenty minutes to kill before I get on the plane. Hotlanta, here I come!

P.S. Tonight is the annual Dragon Ladies Drink-n-Bitch session. After which we will all post fake porn excerpts so everyone thinks we're participating in an all-girl orgy.