Scarlet Letters

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

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Too many Parkers

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
29,459 / 90,000
(32.7%)


I'm amazed I could get any words at all tonight, the weekend I've had. The Pirate Festival yesterday, church this morning and Six Flags this afternoon. My aches have aches, and the rum is gone. (Make your own jokes, I'm tired.)

But I picked up the new CD from Three Pints Gone, which seems to be a group that conspires to inspire me. Last year's sea chanties inspired the final sequence of THE COLD ONES, believe it or not, and this year's collection includes several songs that seem designed for YELLOW ROSES. Playing them helped me get through the first of the flashback sequences.

Not much to be changed here, just language and cleaning it up. I did note that I named Colin's adoptive parents Parker, which is a bad move since Det. Parker is such a major character in the NU series. So I switched it to Massey. I knew a Massey once.

Other research:

• Diptheria was quite common at the turn of the last century. In the 1700s it was rumored to have killed as many as 80 percent of the children in some small European towns, but it was still quite virulent until the vaccine in 1923. But there was still no treatment until sulfa drugs were widely available after World War I. In the time period of the YR flashbacks, it was still killing 15,000 people a year.

• The telephone was invented in the last decades of the 1800s, but would not have been widely available by 1910. Certainly a poor family like the Parkers - er, Masseys - would not have one, and perhaps would not have one for decades after. Mama Alice's line still bugs me - it would be expected that they wouldn't have a phone, right? But the reader is going to think of phones first, and the line sort of makes sense. I think that qualifies under the "insane nitpicks I will let my (eventual) editor decide for me." Otherwise, I will nitpick myself to death.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

64,000 miles to Rivendell

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
26,644 / 90,000
(29.6%)


In the end, I solved my JASPR problem by ignoring it. I fixed it up a bit, but nothing was making me like it. So I went on to the next scene. What do I tell aspiring writers all the time? If you get stuck, bust through it. If you can't bust through it, step around it and keep going.

If other JASPR scenes also suck, I may rethink their position in this book. But for now, we're on to the flashbacks. Get ready to cry.

Friday, September 28, 2007

13 Stories

One of the prizes I gave away last night needs some explanation.

There is a true Elizabeth Donald collectible, believe it or not. My first print publication was in a small Canadian horror magazine called 13 STORIES. It was adorably pocket-sized and had really good stuff. They bought my short story "Silent," and it appeared in 2003. I celebrated like mad - there was little to no money involved, but up until then I had only been published in small online magazines.

Unfortunately, that was the last issue for 13 STORIES. They went bust.

I still have a handful of my contributor's copies. And Mr. Drew Sanford won one in the contest. It's rather appropriate, since I named a major character in ABADDON after him.

If I ever make the big time, the final issue of 13 STORIES will be worth something, I expect. If not, well, it's cute.

The best part

It's odd how one gets reinvested.

I haven't written anything on YELLOW ROSES in at least a week. Of course, the whole "flying to Phoenix" thing didn't help, but the real reason was that I felt blocked. The JASPR scene was not to my liking. I still want JASPR in the story - I think it will help a lot with tone, pace flow and so on - but it wasn't funny. Or interesting. And I didn't know how to fix it. The scene needs to be there, it's important both for the storyline and for the pacing, but... meh.

It really kind of derailed me. And right after this is the flashback sequence that, to me, is the best part of the book. So I need to slam-dunk this scene.

The boy gets the benefit, I guess. I need several hours uninterrupted screen time. So unless he gets his little self in trouble today, he'll go to skate night and I'll hole up with the laptop at St. Louis Bread Company or Sacred Grounds. Maybe Sacred Grounds would be better. Nothing breaks up a block like a coffee shop with no internet and high atmosphere. There's a reason that place is in the thank-you notes for SETTING SUNS. John Scalzi tells us we're not fooling anyone when we take a laptop to a coffeeshop, but the writing I do there is ten times better than the writing I do at home. Maybe that says something about my home rather than the coffeeshop...

The 'reinvested' thing? Only one reader has so far emailed to say what she thinks of the new book, likely because it came out, um, YESTERDAY and most people don't read like mad demons and even if they do they've got families and lives and SMALLVILLE premieres and c'mon, Donald. Breathe. But it reminded me that the best part isn't the royalty check (though that's nice) and it isn't the fame and adoration of your screaming fans (insert laugh track). It's someone telling you, "Oh.... DAMN."

It's when they fell through the hole in the paper that you created. That's the good part. Otherwise, we're just talking to ourselves. And I want to do that again. And again. And again.

But first I gotta go to work.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

ABADDON is out!

I am happy to report my new horror-mystery novel, ABADDON, is now available for purchase on Cerridwen Press's web site.

http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419911224

ABADDON

Beneath the dark Memphis streets, something is stirring. Filled with ancient fury. Seeking revenge on the ones who live above. A revenge born in fire.

The fires are raging in Memphis and no one is safe. Ryan and Samantha must descend into darkness beyond their imagining to find answers to mysteries of the past as Detectives Freitas and Parker seek the truth about the present.

And the return of an old foe could make the future a dark place indeed…save for the flames of Abaddon.

Go forth and buy! And don't forget, if you don't like the ebook style, email me at elizabethdonald at yahoo dot com after you've bought the ebook. I can arrange for it to be printed at cost for $8 and shipped to you.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chat tomorrow!

In case you missed it, my vampire novel ABADDON comes out tomorrow from Cerridwen Press. FINALLY! My first horror novel to begin as an ebook, so I'll be interested to see how that goes. (Link will be added as soon as it's up.)

WHAT: Online chat party to celebrate the release of ABADDON
WHEN: 7-9 p.m. CST Thursday, Sept. 27
WHERE: The Wilderness Chat Room (directions below)
WHO: Everybody! Including me, probably with a rum and coke in hand.
WHY: Fun! Prizes! Free!

Wilderness Chat Room Directions:
a) Go to wilderness.homeip.net/wil...ndex.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.

We got goooood prizes this time, folks. Be there! And oh yeah, buy the book. :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Welcome to JASPR

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
24,835 / 90,000
(27.6%)



Finally got the first JASPR scene written. I don't like it. It's not funny. I mean, they bitch at each other, but I don't know if that qualifies as funny.

My ghosthunters are:

• Rivka Zoole, de factor leader. She's about Cat's age, with short-cropped black hair and a two-pack-a-day habit. She's tough, and used to being mocked because of her belief in ghosts. Her grandmother appeared in her dorm room three days after the funeral, and she's been fascinated by ghosts ever since.

• Shane Moore, a cop who works with JASPR in secret so it doesn't impact his career. He saw a ghost during a foot patrol, where he ended up chasing a man through the woods who had died in the road several minutes before.

• Sora Newton, a sensitive who has believed in her psychic ability all her life. I'm not sure if she really is psychic or is simply sensitive enough to people's emotions to feel a presence in the room. She doesn't talk much.

• Justin Armstrong believes in technology above all. EMP readings and temperature gauges. He's the guy with the infrared scanner and the notebook, seeking scientific proof of the afterlife.

• Nickolas St. John Phillippo, age twelve, goes by Nick. Fascinated by ghosts since the first ghost story he ever read, he's the quintessential geek, reading constantly of history and literature. The others look out for him like family.

So far they're just sketches. I hope they turn into something more.

Tonight's Research: Could not find my notebook of two months' ghost research. Grr! Fell back on GHOSTHUNTER'S HANDBOOK by Troy Taylor, for the recommended questions asked a potential ghost witness. They are remarkably like the questions a reporter would ask, except for "Have you ever used a Ouija board?"

Monday, September 17, 2007

Abaddon ahoy!

Beginning today, there will be a trivia contest running on my YahooGroup! Each day, I'll toss out a question and the first one to answer it wins a prize!

We'll do this each day until ABADDON is released on Sept. 27. It's coming out as an ebook from Cerridwen Press, and I know you'll ALL want to pick it up! Sure you will!

Join the Yahoogroup at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elizabethdonald/join, you know you wanna.

Confessional

It's no secret that my favorite author is Stephen King.

King was my entry drug, my segue from the world of Nancy Drew to grown-up novels. My mother deemed his books usually too adult for me, so I swiped them out of her bookshelf and left the dustjackets in their place so she wouldn't notice they were missing. I read everything he wrote, except the Dark Tower books because they were hard to understand.

As I grew older and began to appreciate the value of books as collectible items as well as purveyors of story, I began to collect first-edition hardbacks of King's work. I have never had the opportunity to meet the man and have him sign any of them, but I live in hope.

The problem is, I have a dreadful memory. Although I have read everything he has written outside the Dark Tower, many of those books were my mother's, not mine. I have often found myself in a used bookstore somewhere, staring at a hardback King and wondering, "Is this one I already have?"

I have an awful, terrible memory.

Once I tried to outsmart myself. I created a careful database of King's work, complete with each book I had, each book I still needed to get and the condition/value of each tome. (Anyone got a first-edition CARRIE? Didn't think so.)

The problem is, I never have my laptop on hand in a used bookstore, you know?

Recently, I attended a party at the home of a good friend. Aware of my predilection for King hardbacks, he offered me a first-edition hardback of SKELETON CREW, one of King's early short-story collections. He had no further use for it, he said. It was in good condition and I accepted eagerly. When I got home, I placed in the holding bookcase, the one most easily accessible in the main room of my apartment where new books live until I think to move them elsewhere.

This evening, I was looking for something to read. I looked at the holding bookcase and saw the hardback for SKELETON CREW.

On the shelf right behind it, I saw another hardback first-edition of SKELETON CREW.

Rats. I had it already.

I wandered into the bedroom, already mulling whether I should sell one of them on eBay - the one in poorer condition, of course - or put one in the Collection and save the other to actually read. This led my feeble mind to the subject of the Collection Bookcase, purchase pending, and I wondered if I had enough Kings by now to need a full bookcase.

(I should add that I was talking on the phone with someone while all this was going on. I multi-task.)

So I checked out the horror bookcase in the bedroom, where most of the Kings live.

There was another hardback copy of SKELETON CREW.

You're kidding, I told myself. I've bought this book twice and then accepted a free copy.

Then my eye drifted lower.

A paperback.

And another.

"I have five copies of SKELETON CREW," I said in amazement, as my gentleman friend laughed himself silly in my ear.

Five copies of the same book. That's how bad my memory is, ladies and gentlemen. I won't go into the two hardbacks of THE TOMMYKNOCKERS or INSOMNIA or the number of books for which I have both the original hardback and paperback editions - both collector's items, see?

It's not an addiction. I can stop any time I want to.

But five copies might be a little much. Even for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

JASPR rises...

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
22,214 / 90,000
(24.7%)


And falls flat.

Okay, not yet. But I got to the first new scene, where I introduce JASPR... and I got nothin'.

I guess I'm just not feeling the funny today. Not that JASPR is supposed to be all yucks, they're going to be serious about this deal, but... it's just not in me tonight. And as my dear friend Frank Fradella says, you can't MAKE yourself write. It's there or it's not, and tonight it's not.

Tomorrow is a no-writing day, thanks to an insanely early AND late day. We'll attack JASPR on Friday night's writeapalooza.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The happy parts

Cat knelt beside the gravestone, her gut still twisting, her heart pounding. She didn’t look over her shoulder, trying not to think who would be there. And when her mind turned from the cemetery’s darkness, she felt physically ill, as though Mark had punched her in the stomach instead of gazed on her with anger and hurt. She wanted to turn back time, make things right, fix whatever had gone wrong that began somewhere within herself. Something in her chest felt broken, and for the first time she could recall, the broken edges rubbed against each other, stabbing her from the inside out.

I'm writing the cheerful stuff!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
20,973 / 90,000
(23.3%)


Cat is quite possibly the most fucked-up heroine I've ever written. Have I said that before? Well, it bears repeating. I love Cat so much.

Tomorrow things get interesting. New scenes. New characters. Did I say tomorrow? I meant Tuesday. Alas, tomorrow is a night shift at the paper. Silly day job, making me work and stuff.

Today's research:

• Microfiche is a generic term for flat-panel negatives of images. Microfilm is the term for the reels of negatives often used in the bad old days to record newspapers for posterity. My editor who always referred to the microfilm reader as "microfiche" was on crack, and librarian extraordinaire Jerianne Thompson was right.

• The Ku Klux Klan has existed in several varieties throughout its disgusting life. At its height in the 1920s, it is estimated as much as 15 percent of America's eligible males were members. It was actually fading by the 1950s, but the civil rights movement gave it a little more "life." Surprisingly, there are twice as many KKK members estimated today as in 1970, but it is not considered a resurgence; mostly just idiots claiming to be a part of it to give themselves some kind of redneck bragging rights. It was not solely a southern phenomenon, but the bulk of its violence took place in the south, where the civil rights moment had its major battles.

Two Sales and a Chat

News is just bustin' out all over. Can you tell a new book's almost out?

• The "I Hate AirTran" Scratch-and-Dent Sale! Yes, thanks to the charmers at AirTran that managed to destroy my lovely leather duffel bag, the books inside it had some damages. Mostly crinkled covers or scuffing along the spine. My misfortune is your gain!

Starting today through ABADDON's release on Sept. 27, I'm offering damaged copies of SETTING SUNS for $10 and NOCTURNE for $12. Only while the damaged copies last! Once they're gone, it goes back up to the regular price, folks. Order by emailing me at elizabethdonald at yahoo dot com - the web site(s) are still selling undamaged copies at full price.

• The "Make Way For New Shirts" Sale! The CafePress shop will get a complete makeover soon, with a new look, new stuff, new designs and all-new merchandise.

So now's your last chance to get most of the products currently available on the site! Drop over and pick something out, because once it's gone, it's gone!

As always, the YOUR NECK OR MINE? T-shirts are available direct from www.elizabethdonald.com/shop for $10.

• Starting on Sept. 17, we will have a 10-day countdown to ABADDON! Each day there will be some little hint of what happens in the book, with a trivia question, sent out to the YahooGroup. The first person to answer the question is entered into a drawing for a free copy of the book!

What? You're not a member of the YahooGroup? Silly person. Join at groups.yahoo.com/group/elizabethdonald/join, and you won't miss a thing.

• The drawing will take place during the online release party, which will be.... *drum roll*...

WHEN: 7-9 p.m. CST Thursday, Sept. 27
WHERE: The Wilderness Chat Room *

Giveaways! Trivia contests! Random silliness! Author on Schlafly Pale Ale! C'mon, you know you wanna.

* Directions for the chat room can be found on the "News" page of my web site. They will also be posted on this list before the chat.

Thanks, as always, for your support. I really hope you like the new book. I sure had a good time writing it. Insert evil cackle here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

RV Roses

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
16,772 / 90,000
(18.6%)


I think I shall set a goal of a minimum of 1,000 words a day. At that rate, I'll be done in less than three months. She said laughing.

Today's research was the St. Louis RV Show. Cat Suarez lives in an RV full-time, and it's a major part of her character. But I'd never been in one. So the boy and I trucked out to the RV show and poked around inside RVs larger than my first apartment and RVs small enough that the eight-year-old and I could barely turn around in them. Took a mountain of pictures.

Most of my questions were answered. Yes, Cat could live quite comfortably full-time in an RV, using the life insurance money from her mother's death (don't know if that little detail will actually be in the book or in my head.) Yes, she can have a landline phone, if she's using an RV park that provides such services. That solves a major problem for me, not so much for the reader.* She can hitch her Jeep behind it easily, and pretty much everything she needs to do to keep it rolling she can do by herself. I got a sense of the inside layout, so the scenes with Mark and the ghost will be much easier to envision.

I don't think Cat would go for the $206,000 road palace, but I'll probably put her in the $117,000 one, just so I have enough space for the stuff I need to have happen in her roving home.

Got through the first ghost encounter, and it's nicely creepy. Didn't do much with Mark's apartment - I think I'll save that for a future scene. No haunting left unturned.


* Seriously, will any reader hear Cat's answering machine go off and say, "But you can't have an answering machine in an RV! That's not realistic! I want my money back!" Conversely, can I really have someone (likely Mark, King O' Exposition) ask, "So Cat, how can you have an answering machine in an RV?" "Glad you asked, Mark! It turns out my RV can have a landline if I'm staying at an RV park that offers such a service! Isn't technology grand?" Someone remind me why I thought being a writer was a good plan for a life.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back to Work

Yellow Roses:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15,505 / 90,000
(17.2%)


Not much progress, but between my aching head and my aching arm and my generally cranky disposition, it's not so bad. I think I need to step it up, though. I'm coming up on the first major change, and I expect that'll slow me down some.

No research today. But tomorrow is the St. Louis RV Show, and I intend to go nose around. I need to get a feel for an RV to really visualize Cat's dwelling place. She is without a doubt the most fucked-up person I've ever written who wasn't a practicing psychopath. I love her so.

Mark, however, is giving me fits. He's such a nice, sensitive guy. Bleech. I think he needs to develop some unattractive personality traits, because right now he's The Perfect Man, and that's just so boring. They're going to be rooting for him to get a bullet to the chest if I don't rough him up a little. Whaddya think, folks? Excessive nosiness? It is a common flaw in reporters. So I'm told.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ten Things I Learned At Dragoncon

Complete with a list of Thank-Yous for what might be the best Dragoncon ever, despite insane crowds. Onward!

Lesson One: Thou Shalt Not Overestimate Even the TSA's Ability To Fuck Up Your Plans. Because then you end up waiting endless hours in airports for your plane. I arrived two hours too early for my outgoing flight and a brilliant three and a half hours early for the return flight, expecting that I'd be caught in the Line From Hell returning from Labor Day travel. Instead, I find myself paying $7.95 to some network called Boing for the privilege of catching up on my email as I wait. What can I say? The Starbucks is closed for construction. Airports are fun, but they're not THAT fun. Let's not be neurotic.

Lesson Two: In Atlanta, the American Luggage Concourse Is Beneath Mordor. Don't believe the flight attendant when she says you just have to go to carousel two. She means the carousel two in the American baggage claim area, which is not with the rest of the baggage claim carousels in the center of the terminal, a short walk from the MARTA station that will take you to your convention. No, she means "You have to walk all the way across the airport, take the escalator down, turn right at the caged dragons and left at the sign that reads 'Abandon all hope ye who enter here.' Then you'll find the American baggage." Then, of course, you'll have to turn around and haul your heavy-ass baggage back up the escalator and across the entire airport to get to the MARTA train, wondering all the while if you really needed a different outfit for each evening or would people notice if you wore the same dress Friday and Sunday nights because this shit is HEAVY.

Lesson Three: Men in Kilts Really Don't Mind If You Reach Under Their Skirts. Um, kilts. At least at Dragoncon. Elsewhere it might be grounds for a sexual-abuse charge. At Dragoncon, it's part of "kilt inspection." No, I didn't. I'm not that brave. Some of those guys were also wearing swords.

Lesson Four: The Way to a Writer's Heart is Through Her Books. A gentleman I know bought three copies of NOCTURNE, one of SETTING SUNS and a T-shirt. I kissed him. Later, I mentioned it while wisecracking in a panel, because when I have no caffeine in my bloodstream I survive panels by smartass alone. The moderator turned to my fellow panelist, Lawrence Barker, and suggested he try that marketing technique. Without missing a beat, Mr. Barker replied, "I'll turn it around: buy my book OR I'll kiss you." Hee.

Lesson Five: The Water Pitcher Is Not As Secure As You Think It Is. I was seriously desperate for water during the panel on post-apocalyptic literature. Apparently I drank all the water. Because when I reached for the water pitcher to refill my cup for the fourth time, nothing came out. My fellow panelist was making a point, so I tilted it a little further. All the ice came out in a glump, spraying across the table. Fortunately people laughed, and I made an "uh, oops" face as I scooped up the ice. I'm fairly sure the moderator was laughing at me too. Who can blame her? :) And for a wonder, nobody bought my book afterward! I think I may have shorted out the microphone.

Lesson Six: When an Elevator Arrives, Grab It. None of this silly, "It's going down and I need to go up, so I'll wait." If you can get your ass on an elevator, get on. What goes down must go up. Con physics. Only rookies "wait for the next one." The caveat to this? If someone using a wheelchair or crutches is waiting, let them on first. Don't be a fucking asshole, people. It's shameful the confolk even HAVE to put out pictures reminding us.

Lesson Seven: Those Are The Breasts You're Looking For. It never ceases to amaze me the number of mundanes who laugh their asses off at cons, expecting a roomful of thirtysomething virgins in black t-shirts. Okay, there's some of those. You know who you are. But if you shower and walk out of the gaming room *ducks* you're gonna see breasts. Women in corsets. Women in spandex. Women in elaborate duct-tape contraptions. Women in, um, nothing much at all. Personally, I may not have the appreciation for the female form that some of my drooling male friends have, but mundanes? You got no idea what you're missing. P.S. There are also some truly hot men, and thank God for the 300 costumes. Not as in "three hundred costumes," but "costumes from the movie 300, which may not have been historically accurate but certainly had skimpy togas." God bless 'em.

Lesson Eight: You Can't Be Professional If You're Drooling On Someone's Shoes. It's hard to meet the eyes of, say, Jamie Bamber and not drool. So walk by on the Gawk of Fame and get your furtive looks. Yes, James Marsters really does look like that in real life. Do not tell that actor that you had an enormous crush on him when you were twelve. After all, that was twenty fuckin' years ago, and who's gonna feel older when you say it out loud, him or you? Get your autograph and move on. That goes for the greenroom, too. Thou shalt not drool.

Lesson Nine: Buy Books. An optimistic estimate would put maybe 10 percent of the Dragoncon crowd actually interested in buying a book at con. Of those, maybe only half will actually do so. This is why you have sixteen sword and corset vendors and three booksellers. And those booksellers are crying. Now, I know that nearly all the writing tracks - SF Lit, Writing, Readings, Goth, everything but Apocalypse - were way the hell over in the Hyatt and you have to travel over the river, through the woods, past the gargoyles and play Frogger on two streets to get from the Hyatt to the Hilton. Do it anyway. Sooner or later the booksellers will give up and take their books to cons where it won't cost them $450 for the privilege of selling to you, and you'll be stuck with whatever Amazon.com recommends instead of the fascinating, brilliant and imaginative stuff the small-press booksellers have for you this weekend. Support small press. Support good writing. Haul your cookies over there and vote with your dollars.

Lesson Ten: Friends Are Good. And this is why I need a thank-you portion.

Thank you to Vernard Martin and his crew, who brought the best room party at Dragoncon to our room. I don't think we've ever had a smoother party, with lots of folks enjoying each other's company and having a good time with nothing demolished and no drama and nobody having sex in the bathroom.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who bought books. Dragoncon may be work, but there's something even more satisfying than OMG money when I sell a book. Because they're gonna take it home and presumably read it, and I hope they enjoy it, and after all, that's why I do this. I wanted to go to Dragoncon for years, but I could only justify it when it was work. Fortunately, it's the most fun work I do all year.

Thank you to the track directors for Gothic Shadows and Apocalypse Rising, who scheduled me on some great panels. Thanks to my fellow panelists for terrific, intelligent discourse and the ability to disagree with grace. I've always said I'd rather do panels than anything else at con, because I figure if they're giving me a badge, I need to work. But more than that, it's the reason we come to con. Only here do we actually get to discuss these subjects with people who've read the same books and watched the same movies, and the people in the audience know at least as much as we do. (I've often wished I could take notes when someone is expounding on this fantastic book we ought to read, because there were at least three this year I would buy if I could frakking remember the titles.... anyone?) Extra thanks to moderator genius Fred Grimm, who keeps a good panel going and has been sweetly mocking me for several years now. That's why I named a character after him.

Giant thanks to the Dragoncon staff, who are already getting hit in the head with "suggestions" over the clusterfucks of this year. Yeah, being in the Hyatt at any point Friday or Saturday pretty much sucked, from what I hear, but others know more about that than I because I was happily partying in the Marriott most of the con. I highly recommend the Marriott over any other choice, folks. But the VIP greenroom was top-notch, and I saw the same hardworking volunteers there every time I fought the elevators to grab some grub. The mad-scientist theme for Sunday night was hilarious - braaaains! - and at one point I think I spent four hours gabbing with other guests. Also: free massage is a win, even though I never got around to partaking. Don't think for a moment your work is unappreciated, by us guests, at least. (My only suggestion? Move the book-oriented tracks like Sci-Fi Lit, Writing and Readings to whatever hotel hosts the dealer's room. Please?)

Super-deluxe thanks to my roommates, all seven of them. Thank Zod we were bumped up to a king suite! Best hotel room ever, and a complete lack of drama to boot. Even though half of them hadn't met each other before this weekend, everyone got along great, everyone had fun and somehow we all fell asleep at about the same time each night. Rock on. P.S. Extra credit to the roomies for not even blinking when we suggested a Saturday-night party. My appreciation has no bounds.

Enormous thanks to Selina Rosen and the Yard Dog Books crew. As those who follow my work know, I was orphaned this year, with none of my publishers attending and no authors' or publishers' row to hawk my stuff. Selina made space for both books at the Yard Dog booth even though it couldn't help them at all, and that let me send people who wanted to buy my stuff to them. Being available in the dealer's room is often the difference between profit and loss for Dragoncon, and I owe Selina big-time for that. The Yard Dog crew is good people, folks, and they deserve your business. http://www.yarddogpress.com

Finally, a special non-silly thank you to Dana Franks, my flunky for the last several years and hopefully years to come. Dana earns her nonexistent salary with hard work, getting flyers out everywhere, throwing chocolate at people, seeing that I get to where I need to be, finding good pens for signings, getting change for people paying with twenties, seeing that people get their receipts, hauling duffels full of heavy-ass books and T-shirts up and down the glacial elevators and escalators of three hotels, even sitting through the same damn reading she's heard at two other cons this year. Dana (and local flunky Katie) hold it all together, folks, and if I show up half-prepared for what I need to do, it's because of them. Brava.

Now to unpack, and commence laundry. Down from the mountaintop yet once more, and already looking forward to next year.