Scarlet Letters

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Little Monsters of Edwardsville

The tragedy of the night was certainly the St. Louis Cardinals' performance in Game Six. Congratulations to Boston; you played the better game and deserve the trophy. (We'll be back!)

But the horror was the wonderful tableau we built this year in our front yard. Skeleton rising out of his grave, ghosts and critters, Casper the Ghost floating beside the porch, Charlotte the Spider scuttling down the siding. We love Halloween, and if we were not limited by funds, our house would look like the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. Each year we add a little bit more to our display.

This year's Cuteness Award goes to the three-year-old Wolverine and two-year-old Spiderwoman who braved my miniature cemetery to gain candy. Wolverine told me in a gruff little voice, "I ain't afraid of no ghost," while glancing sidelong at Casper.

Extra credit goes to the toddler Simba who was sufficiently frightened of our skeleton that I had Ian deliver her candy to her at the sidewalk. Ian, by the way, elected to be Clark Kent again this year, complete with nerd glasses and the Superman T-shirt underneath his suit.

Wait! You might ask. Why were you handing out candy tonight? Isn't tomorrow Halloween?

Yes, I am aware of the calendar. But I live in Edwardsville, Illinois. We are a weird little town. For untold decades the Edwardsville Halloween Parade has taken place on Oct. 31, and last I heard more people attend the parade than actually live in the town. Over the years, the tradition has evolved (and been codified by city ordinance) to allow trick-or-treating on Oct. 30.

We moved here when Ian was 18 months old. He has only gone trick-or-treating on Oct. 30, beginning with the stroller-and-wagon rides on up to his current six feet tall. If he ever moves anywhere else, he will have to adjust his brain to taking his kids out on Halloween itself. I have often wondered if anyone has ever suggested moving the parade to Oct. 30 and letting trick-or-treat happen on the same night as the rest of the world. But I can't imagine the furor that would cause. Small towns, set in their ways, no matter how weird.

As always, Halloween is a delight to me and to Jimmy, but tinged with the annoyance that we never get to enjoy it together. Ironic that two people drawn together by their mutual love of things that go chomp in the night - to the extent of publishing multiple horror novels - never get to spend Halloween together. He has had some variation of a night shift every Halloween as long as we've been together, and this year is no exception. He got the graveyard and the fire pit set up, but had to go to work when it was still light out. As usual, I was alone in the front yard to greet our little monsters.

A debate got rolling on Facebook today about "trunk or treat," that new trend where you go around a parking lot and get candy from people's cars, or something. I voted with the "that's lame" crowd. Not just because it seems like an overprotective helicopter-parent thing - seriously, just walk with the kid and he'll be fine - but because it eliminates one of the joys of Halloween: camaraderie.

Maybe it's just that I live in frigging Mayberry, but Halloween is a neighborhood thing here. People sit in their driveways around firepits, share food and drink and greet each other. You see a neighborhood differently walking it when everyone is outside than you do driving home with the windows rolled up. It's not just about begging for candy from anonymous people behind closed doors; it's about enjoying each other's company, seeing people you don't always get to see in an ordinary time. I can't imagine that kind of connection taking place in a parking lot.

Tomorrow we will all go to the Halloween parade - and I do mean ALL - and I will experience my annual reminder of why I live here. Ian will walk with the high school orchestra, and I will cheer on the many groups and families running floats in the parade (119 this year!) and the sidewalks will be packed. It's our tradition.

And we will greet each other and see how our kids have grown and cheer at the homemade floats and catch the candy they throw (those councilmen have good arms) and remember that we are neighbors and even friends. Even when said neighbors are rooting for the Red Sox. You know who you are, Geoff Schmidt.

So a happy Halloween to all the little monsters of Edwardsville and their parents. And yes, even to Boston. I suppose.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fright Fest

We're trying to cram all our Halloween traditions into a couple of days, since the Furlough Tour ate so much of October. Yesterday morning it was our trip up to the farm for pumpkins and apple cider before work; today it was Fright Fest at Six Flags.

Fright Fest was the usual array of expensive silliness. We love Six Flags, though we haven't been able to use our membership as much as usual this year. We do not do the extra-cost haunted houses, because we pay enough for our membership as it is. But we loved the zombies, evil clowns and other walk-around critters, the decor and goofy scary fun.

Jimmy and his new best friend, Fluffy.

At least, Jimmy and I did. Ian clutched my hand awfully tight for a young man a foot taller than his mom, and refused to go through the Twisted Circus with us. Seems he still has a thing about clowns. So it was probably mean of me to offer to put my new painting in his room:

A good time was had by all, nevertheless. Though we had a harsh moment: when we foolishly sat down for one of the lame-ass entertainment shows, the cast of "Love at First Fright" broke out in a sanitized rendition of "Timewarp."

See, I am cursed with Rocky Horror Picture Show. The first time I saw it, I was dumped that night. The second time I saw it, I was dumped that night. I was dragged kicking and screaming to one scene of it the third time... with my ex-husband.

Once we heard the song begin, I protested to Jimmy, "We're doomed!" He declared that if we could survive his curse with Olive Garden, we could survive Six Flags' version of Rocky Horror. A friend tried to help: he sent us a magic link to dispel the curse. Never gonna give you up. Rickrolled!

There was only one cure. At the top of the Ferris Wheel, Jimmy re-proposed and I accepted. We'll call that a reboot to clear any possible Rocky Horror virus. Ian altered the tone somewhat by quacking at us throughout the moment.

Tomorrow night we'll watch Halloween, since we can't watch it together on the night itself due to Jimmy's night job. The yard is decorated:

Still missing the evil eyes in the mudroom windows; I know I packed them somewhere...
Ian carved this himself. The student has become the master.

Jimmy's skills are improving.
I love Halloween. Not just because of spooks and silliness and my fondness for things that go chomp in the night; it is a celebration of the macabre, facing the things that scare us - which also robs them of their power. It's simple fun, but it's also psychologically healthy.

Plus, candy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dreadmire benefits the real Gulf

So there was this little error at the printer's, and we ended up with a lot of large-print editions of the new book. Now, large print is very nice for folks with limited vision, but large print sales are pretty small, comparatively speaking. Shorthand: We've got a bunch of books on our hands.

After consulting with my publisher, we determined the best use of the books would be to try to benefit the Louisiana wetlands. After all, Dreadmire is a sword-and-sorcery novel, but its worldbuilding is based on the ecology of the bayous. I drew inspiration from an IMAX movie several years ago titled Hurricane on the Bayou, which I strongly recommend for the soundtrack, if nothing else. Hurricane on the Bayou explained the ecological value of wetlands, specifically how they act as a natural barrier for the inland areas from... wait for it... hurricanes. Katrina happened to hit while they were there, and you can guess the rest.

The imbalance of nature is a theme that runs throughout Dreadmire. It is the casual disregard for the life cycle present in nature that causes the horrors that overtake the swamp. When we selfishly take what we want without regard for the consequences, we upend the balance of nature, to end results that may not be easily predicted.

The Gulf Restoration Network strives to protect the Gulf of Mexico, working to protect endangered habitats and species and work with the fishing and tourism industry for safe, sane economic use of the Gulf. I chose GRN because of its strong reputation and a high rating on Charity Navigator as a reputable charity.

Starting today, sales of the large print edition will partly benefit the Gulf Restoration Network. This will apply only to sales through, since I have no control over the sales through other venues. The page on LitUnd has been modified to indicate this and give purchasers the option of buying the regular edition or the large print charity edition.

Of course, if you wish to support GRN, you can find out more about them here.

Thank you for your continued support of my work.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Little Bookstore(s) That Could

I attended a wonderful book signing tonight at Afterwords Books, the little shop a few blocks from my house. Afterwords hosted Wendy Welch, author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, and her husband, Jack Beck.

Welch has one of those stories that is so incredible you have to believe it. You could make a movie of it, and no one would believe it; too Capra-esque, they would say. Welch left a "high-octane" business career that was making her miserable so that she and her husband could move to a coal town in Big Stone Gap, Virginia ("It's not the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there," Jack says.) They started a used bookstore in a town of 5,000 people.

Wait a second. Yes, 5,000 people in coal country. The whole county has only 150,000 people. To put that in perspective for you, Madison and St. Clair County have a combined population of over 500,000. There's a lot more "country" than "people" around Big Stone Gap, which is hemmed in by mountains and about 45 minutes from the nearest interstate.

The high school graduation rate is 50 percent, Wendy says. The demographics say that any bookstore is dooooooooomed. "Those people don't read," was what they were told, she said.

Keep in mind that they did this while the economy was crashing, small businesses were DOA and the ebook boom was eating the book business alive. Wait, isn't that still going on?

Somehow they combined their natural humor, creative no-budget marketing and a lot of tenacity with a sense of community and service, which helped them build a business that is thriving where it really shouldn't. It's about community, but it's also about picking a goal and striving for it, even if it's crazy. If there's a theme, Wendy says, it's "do it anyway."

Several bookstore owners were there, along with authors and others connected to the book business. We had some interesting conversations about small business in small towns, the real impact of buying local, what truly killed Borders and imperils Barnes & Noble, and other issues of interest to those of us who love the written word and are lucky enough to make our living from it.

I recall a story from one of the booksellers about customers who try "let's make a deal," bargaining because they want a book they can get for 50 cents less on Amazon, and the bookseller trying to be nice. But the point they don't get is that even if you save 50 cents (or two dollars!) on Amazon, you're not really saving in the long run. Amazon is fine for certain things, and if you live in a corner of Nowhere, U.S.A. that has no bookstores, I can see how it would be good for you.

But that 50 cents is not keeping the lights on in your house, or putting food in your children's mouths. Instead, you can pay 50 cents more and buy from your local bookstore. And then the bulk of your money isn't feeding some faraway corporation, and it isn't fattening some developer's purse. It's going into her pocket to be spent in your own town. It's strengthening that local business that will remember your name, remember what you like, and treat you like a person when you walk in the door, and helping to rebuild a local economy that in turn will support you and your family.

Let me tell you about me and Julia Spencer-Fleming. Jimmy picked up her book for me by mistake, because I'd put a book with the same name on my Christmas list and he apparently couldn't tell the difference between Julia Spencer-Fleming and M.R. Sellars. But her books are crack on paper, so it was the happiest mishap of our year.

Each time I finish a Spencer-Fleming novel, I need the next one and now. I could go to Amazon and get it for $7.99. I can go to Books-a-Million and get it for $7.99. Or I can call up Afterwords and order it. She'll give me 10 percent off, so I get it for $7.19. I don't have to pay for shipping or handling. It won't take any longer than Amazon.

But it's not really about saving 80 cents. It's that my money goes to help support a local business, contributes to the economy of my hometown, and helps support a store that in turn carries my books and those of my fellow local authors, like Cole Gibsen and Suzanne Hartman and Jimmy Gillentine. (And the Welches; if you're interested, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap is available at Afterwords.)

I picked up The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, and it's waiting for me on the nightstand. Of course, there are three or four (hundred) books ahead of it, but I was sufficiently intrigued by Wendy's story to buy it. Not because I'm thinking of starting a bookstore - oh no, I'm not that crazy - but because their spirit of "do it anyway" impressed me.

See, that applies to all of us. We all have something we want to do, whether it's taking a painting class or running a marathon or learning an instrument or writing a novel or starting a business. Everyone has something they've always wanted to do, and we spend most of our lives listening to all the negative voices telling us it's impossible, unrealistic, too expensive or a stupid idea.

The difference between the people who make it and the people who fail is that the ones who make it did it anyway, according to Wendy Welch. The people who fail are the ones who sit around waiting for life to happen to them. They're waiting for the time to be right, for the economy to improve, for the money to roll in, for the city to help them, for lightning to strike. Nothing ever comes from waiting.

Do it anyway.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Home sweet home


I'm even unpacked, because if I don't unpack within an hour of arriving at home, I'll be living out of the suitcase for a week. That's just the way I roll.

Fortunately I did not have to return to Ye Olde Newspaper today, which gave me a chance to decompress, run some errands and return Falkor the Rental Luck Dragon. Being back behind the wheel of my old Toyota already makes me miss Falkor's high-tech bluetooth system.

Among other things: a pleasant lunch with Jimmy, who says he missed me; a trip to the Genius Bar to get my @#$! iPhone examined - ever since I upgraded to iOS 7 it has been buggy as hell; and wrapped the day with an interview on with Nikki Palomino. It was a nice chat, though the static made it hard for me to tell if I was talking over her. I devoutly hope not.

Nikki invited me to read from my work, which doesn't usually happen in interviews. I didn't have anything on my desk, but Jimmy scrambled to bring me a Setting Suns. Problem: "Sisyphus" is about 20-25 mins. reading, and I was pretty sure they didn't want to sit through all of that in a live radio interview. So I grabbed a copy of Dreadmire and picked a random scene. It was heavy on exposition, but had enough snark that I thought it would translate well verbally. If you were listening, let me know if that worked for you. If not, and you've read the book, what segment would you suggest?

I neglected wrap-up of the last day: a great signing in Memphis, followed by dinner with good friends of 20+ years, followed by the drive home and going kersplunk at 1 a.m. But there will be a post-mortem on the whole tour, including the top ten things I learned on the road and the tour by the numbers. Backers also should watch their email for more information about the reward packages, which is now my top priority alongside the 345 projects sitting there waiting for my return.

In the meantime, my cognitive function is still at "fire bad tree pretty," so I think Jimmy and I are going to curl up with some Berger cookies I brought from Baltimore and watch The Walking Dead. I hear it's back...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day Eight

I made it to Memphis.

It's 3:30 a.m. by my clock.

Six states today. I'm going to crash now. Sorry folks, but you get real blogging tomorrow. My hotel is kindly letting me stay until 2 p.m., so I can sleep the hell in and then get lunch before the signing.

If you live in the Memphis area, come to the last event of the Furlough Tour! 3 p.m. at the Booksellers at Laurelwood; look for me in the bistro. Yes, I'll be selling and signing, though I may not read if there are young ears present.

Missed Opportunity of the Day: I neglected to collect barbecue sauces in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama on today's deathmarch across the south.

Thanks: To Seth and Tip Kendall for introducing me to their little one, to Kelly Parker for helping feed my IKEA addiction, and to Marian Sanborn for the iced americano! I think I have a new favorite hyper-caffeination.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day Seven

It was bound to happen. After a week on the road, I finally hit a day where I took zero pictures. Not even a proof of life!

Today's lesson was that Google Maps is a lying liar who lies. Sure, it's only three hours from Baltimore to Charlottesville, Va., and only four hours from there to Charlotte, N.C. It all made sense on paper.

Today started at my sister's funky-cool house in York, Pa., where she was kind enough to host me for the evening. Melanie and I see each other so rarely now, and that's something we absolutely have to fix. The photo below is actually from last night's pub adventure, with her boyfriend Bryan. Because Melanie and I managed to see each other three times in one year and STILL didn't get a photo of us together. Oops.

See, Mel, I told you I'd post it eventually...
Bidding farewell to Melanie (again), I set out for Charlottesville. It was sorta kinda on my way to the signing in Charlotte, and the NBC affiliate there happens to employ one Lynne Vogt, who survived the wilds of Westfield Middle School with me lo these many years ago. Lynne is one of several childhood friends with whom I've reconnected thanks to the wonders of social media, but upon realizing that I would be in her area and that it has been omg24 years since we saw each other, a meetup was required.

Poor Lynne was still waiting when noon came and went, because Google Maps is a lying liar who lies. Not only was it much more than three hours from Baltimore, but it does not take into account that Washington D.C. creates its own clusterfuck of traffic to rival that of New Jersey.

By the time I finally made it to Charlottesville, we only had time to snag a quick snack and walkabout downtown for ten minutes. Charlottesville, by the way, is a beautiful funky old-fashioned town and I wished I had the time to stick around, go shopping and embarrass Lynne by telling her newsroom all about those unfortunate hairstyles we sported in 1987.

Back on the road, I flew through Virginia and North Carolina by defying the laws of the state and of physics. I'd warned my compatriot John Hartness that I might be late to our joint signing, which he was kind enough to set up at a bookstore in Charlotte. In the end I was only about ten minutes late, but John held down the fort for me, because he's an awesome guy.

The signing went all right. At least one person had driven an hour or more specifically to see me, which was humbling to say the least. I hope that I never become so jaded that I cease to be amazed by my readers' devotion. (Diagram that sentence! Shaddup, I'm so frigging tired you're lucky this thing is spelled correctly.)

John and I had a late dinner after the signing, talked shop and watched the game. Or more specifically, I watched the Cardinals trounce the hell out of the Dodgers and tried not to cheer because there were a lot of Dodgers fans around, and John watched football because he is not much for baseball.

Today's scenery was increasingly knockout-glorious, with the bonus of the Shenandoah Mountains in the distance. I was in far too much of a rush to stop and take pictures, but now I am regretting it. As I am regretting not taking pictures with Lynne, too.

I opted not to push on to Atlanta tonight, because four hours of sleep wasn't enough. Atlanta will be later tomorrow, and then a hellacious drive from Atlanta to Memphis because the final stop of the Furlough Tour will be 3 p.m. Sunday at the Booksellers of Laurelwood in Memphis, folks. Be there or be octagonal.

Missed Opportunity of the Day: Photos of the Shenandoah Mountains, and with my sister and Lynne!
Thanks: To Lynne, for making the time to see me and for the nummy dine-n-dash, to Melanie for hosting me, and to John Hartness for setting up the signing.

Note: I have been forgetting the Missed Opportunity and Thanks portions for the last couple of days. I will be adding them to the previous entries, so go back and see them in a bit.

Furlough Tour: Day Six

It's possible that there is a time vortex on the New Jersey turnpike.

Bidding New York farewell, I left the city this morning with a carefully planned route to avoid tolls and make it to lunch in Delaware. That plan did not account for an hour at 8 mph, as the New Jersey turnpike continues to redefine "clusterfuck" for me. And this is driving at non-peak times, folks.

Somehow the three-hour drive to Delaware ended up being more like four and a half hours. Then I met long-time reader Meri Weiss for lunch, cementing the awesomeness of a tour that lets me meet people who have supported my work for almost a decade now and cheered me on through the internet. Meri, by the way, is awesome.

Then back to the turnpike, dangit, and more tolls. We're up to $60.50 in tolls, folks, and that doesn't include the bridge over the Hudson (I think) which is experimenting with mail-in tolls. You drive through, it takes a picture of your license plate and mails you a bill. We'll see if it catches up to me and my little rental car, or if Hertz shreds the bill and gives New York transit the finger.

Two wrong turns, an attempt to avoid tolls by taking an alternate route and two toll plazas that brilliantly force twelve lanes to converge into four without lines or guides in any way, and I somehow reached Baltimore three hours later than planned. This was disappointing, to say the least, because I had hoped to have some time at my former school, Bryn Mawr.

For those of us joining the show already in progress: my first two years of high school were at the Bryn Mawr School for girls in Baltimore. Then we moved to Tennessee. Though I did not finish at Bryn Mawr, the school kindly considers me an alumna anyway. I had been in contact with the school regarding the Furlough Tour, and dropped by to donate a few books to the library. (Not the naughty books. This is a school. I stuck to the PG books.)

I have not been back in Baltimore for twenty years. I returned briefly to watch my classmates graduate from Bryn Mawr, but travel costs and time have greatly limited my ability to tour or vacation here.

It was a surreal and emotional experience. I've said before that Bryn Mawr helped make me the person I am today, and people look at me like I'm nuts, because it was only two years. But they were two incredibly important, formative years. I was a very shy, bookworm-y girl in Massachusetts, and being at Bryn Mawr helped me out of my shell. I formed friendships that have lasted to this day. And Bryn Mawr kicked my ass academically, forcing me to stop coasting on my writing and actually work for my grades. I have no doubt that I would not have succeeded in college if not for that experience.

When we moved, I was not happy, and I told my parents so. Both my sister and I had found happy niches in Baltimore. What if we had stayed? What if I had finished there, if we'd never gone to Tennessee? My life would have been very different, to be sure. It's almost certain I would not have gone to the University of Memphis or the University of Tennessee. I would not have met the people there who have become so important to me. I certainly wouldn't have met my first husband, had my son, or met Jimmy. So there's no way I'd say it was a bad thing. I love my family, friends and the life I've built.

Part of me does wonder what kind of career I would have had, if I'd finished in Baltimore. A Bryn Mawr diploma might have sent me to any college on scholarship. I would probably still have become a reporter, certainly a writer of some kind once I got theater out of my system (as much as one ever does). What newspaper or magazine would I work for? How would my writing have developed? It might have sent my career in a very different direction.

I drove past our old house, and the pharmacy where I had my first job. (They still have a soda fountain!) I had to get downtown fast for dinner, but what-might've-been stuck with me for a while. This tour is about my fiction writing, and if I have any regrets on that scale, it is the amount of time I wasted in my youth not working on my writing, dorking around with unpublishable crap when I could have been practicing the craft. I didn't strive for serious, publishable work until well after I had a full-time job and a family. Anyone who has tried to juggle a writing career with a day job and a family knows how hard that is. All those empty days in the dorm room, I could have been writing and reading. How much more would I have done?

Then I remember that my son thinks my sneezes are funny. Or so he told me when I called and then sneezed in his ear three times. I remember how much Jimmy misses me, and they are surviving on hot dogs all week so I'd better get back before they come down with scurvy. I love my job, and I love my family, and I wouldn't have either if I'd stayed in Baltimore and gotten my Ivy-League degree.

We arrived at the coffeehouse and found that it was closing early. So we moved a few doors up on Thames Street in Fells Point to an Irish pub, which happened to be across the street from the filming site of Homicide: Life on the Street, one of my favorite older cop shows.

The Precinct.
The evening went very well, with plenty of reminiscing about the ancient days and bemoaning the changes in the Inner Harbor. I'd like to thank the folks for generously buying books, too. It's funny that Baltimore is turning into one of my more profitable stops, given that we weren't able to get a real event set up.

I'm staying tonight with my sister in her funky older townhouse in York, Pa. Tomorrow morning it's off to Virginia, then Charlotte! John Hartness and I are signing at The Last Word in Charlotte, N.C. at 7 p.m. Be there!

Missed Opportunity of the Day: My lateness meant I couldn't buy a Bryn Mawr notebook, because the Mawrket was closed. I wonder if they would ship?
Thanks: To Sheri Brandenberg Cobb for finding me in Fells Point and for saving all the silly letters I wrote to her in high school.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day Five

New York City!

My wonderful hosts, Keith DeCandido and Wrenn Simms, were challenged to show me Manhattan in one day. All of Manhattan! Not only have I never seen New York City before and thus must do all the silly touristy things, but I have this story I plan to write that involves a great deal of New York detail. That's a bit difficult if you've never been.

First was the subway, where I discovered that a) they look just like St. Louis' Metrolink, and b) they put poetry on the Metro cards. (Also, unlike Metrolink, there ain't no way I'd know which train to take without locals for guides.)

We took the subway to the Empire State Building, which included a walk down Fifth Avenue. I saw the real Macy's, and I swear I wished we had an extra half day. I'd love to look around in the original Macy's!

Approaching "Empy" was a bit disconcerting: it's like scenes from a half-dozen movies kept playing over in my head and overlaying what I was seeing.

And this is what I saw...

Just like the movies!

This is the north view. You can see the wide expanse of Central Park to the upper left.

The funky art deco building to the left is the Chrysler Building.

Jimmy requested a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Alas, this was as close as I got.

This is the new World Trade Center. It's not done yet, but they're getting close. We did not have time to visit the memorial.

The original Macy's! This is where the Thanksgiving Day parade ends, which apparently is a giant cluster to attend, because they've never been.

My friend the pigeon enjoyed the view with me.
When we came down to earth, Keith and Wrenn treated me to lunch at a lovely tavern called The Ginger Man, which had a huge beer list and tasty food. We stopped at a cheesy tourist shop so I could pick up some burnt offerings for the family, and then hailed a cab for Central Park. Along the way I spied St. Patrick's Cathedral and the 57th Street shops like Dior, Prada and other places in which I can't afford to breathe.

Then Central Park! Speaking of seeing movies overlay in my head... here's a fountain in every other movie. In fact, as I am freaking writing this, my hosts are watching an episode of Person of Interest that features cops meeting at this very fountain!

I had many more amazing photos spoiled by the birds sitting on her head. I asked Keith if there was any noise that would make them go away for a moment so I could get a clear shot. "In New York? No."
Detail of the fountain base. There was a group of street dancers performing nearby, and someone was doing a fashion shoot with bridal gowns on the steps.

From Strawberry Fields, not far from where John Lennon lived and was murdered.

A pond in the park with a lovely view.

The Romeo and Juliet statue outside the theater where they perform Shakespeare in the Park.

Belevedere Castle, which is now a weather station. I could write a bunch of stories around this.

There were so many other places I wanted to go. Shopping. Museum of Natural History. Drive through Broadway and Times Square. Visit the Statue of Liberty. See the Brooklyn Bridge. Coney Island. The inside of the New York Public Library (I spied it around a corner from the taxi).

But we had to hustle back, via two subway trains and a bus, so we could get changed and rush over to Brooklyn for my signing. Along the way we snagged dinner: pastrami sandwiches from a Jewish New York deli. Om nom nom.

The signing went fine, if not spectacular. Many thanks to Singularity and Co. in Brooklyn for hosting me! We had a fine chat and some wine, and best of all: my friend Orenthal came! Orenthal Hawkins and I have known each other online since God was a little girl, and he came all the way from New Jersey to attend the signing.

I am so delighted to see this wonderful place, this city that captures so much of our imagination. I've been told I must come back when I can stay longer and they can show me more... and therefore so will they. I was stunned to find that Keith had not been to the Empire State Building since he was a child, and Wrenn had never been.

Then I realized it was like us in St. Louis and the Arch: we only see the wonders of our home towns if we are showing them to someone else. I've been wonderfully blessed on this trip to see beautiful and amazing places in this country, redefining the way I think about places I've only seen on maps. So if you take nothing else from my little adventure, rethink the place in which you live. If you were a tourist in your town, what would you want to see? Go find it, and see it with new eyes. There are wonderful things right there, and you never know what adventure you might find.

Because I did see the Brooklyn Bridge. Just for a moment, and in the dark. But it was just like I imagined it.

Missed Opportunity of the Day: Oh good lord, name it! The Statue of Liberty, shopping in Macy's, the Museum of Natural History, Times Square, the New York Public Library...
Thanks: to Keith and Wrenn, hosts extraordinaire who barreled me through a whirlwind tour of New York and then came to the signing.

Furlough Tour: Day Four

It's hard to remember that I woke up this morning in Pittsburgh.

Crashing hard last night, I woke up and didn't want to move. I'm not a morning person at best, and this constant motion is beginning to take its toll. Whoever called this a vacation didn't look at the itinerary. Note to self: Next time we do this, I'm in my hotel room by 10 p.m. each night.

I scrambled to Crazy Mocha in Squirrel Hill, which is a nifty ethnic neighborhood outside Pittsburgh. It was a pleasant enough event, sold a little and chatted some more. But then I was on the road again, because miles to go and all that.

First: Proof of life.

My pachyderm friend guards the toll plaza that leads to the Flight 93 Memorial off the Pennslyvania Turnpike. I briefly considered a side trip, but it's closed due to the government shutdown.

Along the way, I was treated to the beauty of rural Pennsylvania in the fall. Poor Jimmy was on the phone with me for a while, and must have gotten tired of hearing, "Wow," all the time. The pictures don't come close to doing it justice. A panoramic lens with some serious color might help. But in between the awesome weirdness of driving through mountain tunnels, I saw vistas of autumn color just starting to spread, like a giant quilt covering the mountains. I tried to capture them, but my skills just aren't up to it.

And onward to Harrisburg, home of reader-friends who have supported my work for nearly a decade now. It's funny, but when you know someone that long, share each other's triumphs and tribulations online, and finally meet them? It's like old times, but with someone you just "met." Such is the weirdness of modern life. We had a wonderful time, and my sister was able to join us - Melanie and I see each other so rarely that it is a fine treat for us to simply breathe the same air.

Unfortunately I couldn't stay: I still had three hours of driving to go. Make that four, because the New Jersey Turnpike has redefined my image of "clusterfuck." But I navigated it successfully and found the Bronx.

Time for a confession, folks: I've always been a little nervous about New York City. It's not that it's whoa-the-big-city or that I think there will be evil muggers out to get my money. I have the tollbooths for that purpose - $43 in tolls so far. Holy Kickstarter, Batman. My original budget was SO far off.

No, I think I'm intimidated by the mythology of the place. New York is in every movie, every book, every TV show. New York has the history and the flavor of America. It's too big to be real, its images too iconic (and its roads too confusing). As I approached Manhattan, I found myself scanning the cityscape and sort of recognizing it and being intimidated by it at the same time.

Yes, I'm 38 years old and never been to New York City before. Somehow in all the places we lived, this one experience eluded me. And that's part of why I wanted to come here: because I never have. And because I'm thinking about destroying it in a couple of years, and if I'm gonna write about a place, I'd like to see it.

So I'm signing off early tonight, folks. (If by "early" I mean 2 a.m.) My lovely hosts are taking me on a whirlwind tour of Manhattan, starting with the Empire State Building. We're going to see Central Park and ride a subway and all that New Yawk stuff. I'm charging the camera, so brace yourself for ridiculous numbers of photos and probably a proof-of-life to top them all.

And then we have to hustle out of there, because I have a signing at Singularity & Co. in Brooklyn at 7 p.m. and it seems Brooklyn is on the other side from the Bronx.

Tomorrow's a big day. I suppose sleep is in order. If I can make it here...

Note: We have an addition to the schedule! The dashing John Hartness and I will be signing together at The Last Word in Charlotte, N.C. 7-10 p.m. Friday evening. John has a new book out as well, so come see us!

Missed Opportunity of the Day: Due to the government shutdown, I could not stop at the Flight 93 Memorial. Time would have been short anyway, but I would have liked to have seen it. I also apparently passed very near the home of my dear friend Dr. Carrie Arnett, and missed seeing her.
Thanks: To my sister, who drove up from York to deliver a box of books that needed to catch up with me; and to the Smiths and Mary Spila for a lovely evening.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day Three

Now appearing in Midwestern Illinois: Corn. And lots of it.

Today began in South Bend, where I had a nice event last night. I made the executive decision to cancel Fort Wayne in favor of a photo shoot at the University of Notre Dame, which I knew mostly from its frequent mentions in The West Wing.

It took some convincing for them to let me on campus. I must smell Episcopalian.
It was an astounding and humbling experience, folks. Oh, I'd heard of the Basilica's beauty. But it's different to actually see it. I don't even know of the photos will do it justice - though that won't stop me from posting them. But when I walked in, Mass was going on, and I stopped dead in the doorway because the art and architecture literally took away my breath.

The altar, as viewed from behind the holy water basin. No, this is not during the service. I was raised better than that.
I waited through the Mass, respecting their restrictions and therefore did not receive Communion. (Just in case any of you were going to throw holy water on me.) Then I viewed the reliquary, the central altar, the artwork and frescoes, with my camera on its "discreet" setting which meant I couldn't play with the settings.

 You know what? I can't even tell you. I'll show you.

The central altar, from which Mass is performed. The small red boxes beneath presumably hold relics; not sure which.

The rear altar, with a statue of the Virgin Mary above it.
A close-up of the Mary statue behind the rear altar.
The ceiling above the rear altar, which I cannot seem to rotate in order for you to properly see it. I could not name all the saints pictured.
A close-up of the area beneath the altar. I could not find out which relics these were, but I intend to read more about it when I have time.

Coffeehouse stop in Columbus also netted me a new bookstore to carry my stuff on consignment! If you missed me in Columbus, you can find my stuff at the Book Loft in German Village, which has 32 rooms of books, people.

Now I'll head out for Pittsburgh, because that's tomorrow's signing. Noon at Crazymocha Squirrel Hill - be there! And dinner in Harrisburg, because the next day is NEW YORK!

Missed Opportunity of the Day: The grotto on the campus of the University of Notre Dame is supposed to be absolutely amazing. But I did not have time to find it.
Thanks: to the Book Loft!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day Two

There were far fewer tweets today, you might have noticed. That's because everything went by plan! Sorta....

I slept in, gloriously. I didn't realize how little sleep I'd gotten this week, and the best thing about a hotel room with two beds and just me is having all the pillows on my side. All the pillows! Oh, the sleep was wonderful.

Almost too wonderful, as I barely made the lunch event on time. SoHo Cafe in Carmel, Ind. is a really nifty place, with an art gallery and outside patio as well as the funky main coffeehouse. Unfortunately, I must not have gotten the word out enough, as drop-by's were light. Still, it was a very pleasant place, the staff was wonderful and the next time I'm in Indianapolis I would definitely return to SoHo.

I can't say as much for the highway system, as attempting to get on the highway was an ordeal of nearly forty minutes. The Apple Maps were no help, as they kept directing me to on-ramps that were blocked or no longer existed. I'm all for construction and development, but a SIGN or two instructing out-of-towners how to get on the blessed highway would be nice. This is the gentle, non-profane version of what I was ranting inside Falkor while poor Jimmy listened patiently.

(Before you yell: Falkor's neatest feature is a Bluetooth connection to my phone, which allows me to talk to Jimmy as though he were in the car, completely hands-free. So there.)

The highway from Indianapolis to South Bend is not fast, but it's beautiful. So many times I cursed my limited time, because the view was just lovely. I'm about two weeks too early for the real foliage; the leaves are just starting to turn. But the tree-lined highway gave way from time to time to farmhouse vistas, the classic American farm scene with amber waves of... corn... backed by glorious forests and blue skies. I wanted to take about sixteen photos. Darn time.

Due to the clusterfuck that was Indiana state highways, I couldn't make it to South Bend in time to have dinner, and went straight to the Chocolate Cafe... which is the neatest place ever. Think Willy Wonka's chocolate factory if it wasn't manned by creepy orange dwarves. There's a kids' playground with a candy theme; a giant candy shop like something out of an old movie, a wonderful cafe with tasty salads and sandwiches; a chocolatier counter to rival the one inside the Bellagio; and a nice coffehouse cafe. All in one. If you're ever in South Bend, Ind. you must check out the Chocolate Cafe.

Today's proof of life: Re-enacting King Kong! He's just a friend, Jimmy, I swear.

Moose and Author! With bonus toxic waste!

I had a nice setup there in a central location that let me set up the full rack (shaddup) and photo array. Finally, success! Several people stopped by, including the nice lady who is hosting me for this stop and some other folks who had encountered my work at Dragoncon and were thrilled that I was coming to South Bend, where they live. Apparently authors go to Chicago (two hours away) all the time, but not so much to South Bend.

Gratuitous book photo. With bonus Yorick.

I gave away some more Infinity copies, sold some books, sold some photos, had some nice conversations and generally a good time was had by all. I picked up some yummy chocolates, as well. Seriously, folks: check this place out. They were really nice to me, too.

Now I have a tough choice to make. Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a noon stop in Fort Wayne. But we haven't gotten a confirmation from the coffeehouse, and more importantly, I haven't heard from anyone that they're looking to see me in Fort Wayne. If I skip Fort Wayne, I can spare the time tomorrow to pop over to Notre Dame and get some photos. I've been told the basilica and gardens are stunning (and there's something called "Touchdown Jesus" that is supposedly required viewing).

At this point, I'm inclined to cancel Fort Wayne for the photo shoot. But if you were looking to see me in Fort Wayne, please tell me now. I am happy to stop anyway, meet with you and sign whatever you've got. I will make the time, I swear. But if nobody's there, I might as well get the photos.

Tomorrow is Columbus, tentatively set for Cup o' Joe. We haven't gotten their final confirmation, so if I can't get them on the phone tomorrow morning, it may be a StarbucksStop. That's me with my laptop and a sign next to me, a box of books on the floor. Come say hi! I will be there about 6 p.m., but I'll be honest, folks: I'm not going to be able to stay very long. My hotel is in Pittsburgh, so that's another three hours by car after Columbus. This touring stuff ain't for the weak. *gruff womanly sound*

Missed opportunity of the day: The covered bridges of western Indiana are apparently so gorgeous I'm kicking myself for sleeping in and not exploring them. Fortunately I'm still relatively close-ish to home, so it might be worth a weekend sometime to come out and photograph them. I love covered bridges, with or without ghosts.

Thanks: To Samantha Macumber, who convinced me to come to South Bend, helped me find the Chocolate Cafe and told everybody in town I was coming, then offered me her guest room for the night. Not only that, but while I'm typing this, she's cooking pancakes and bacon and pouring wild berry margaritas. That's a special level of awesome.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Furlough Tour: Day One

"Raindrops keep falling on my head..."

We make plans, and God kind of snickers at us. The Furlough Tour stumbled right out of the gate, as it was supposed to kick off with an all-day appearance at the Harvest Thyme Festival in Carlyle, Ill.

The skies had other plans, however. I spent two hours chatting in a tent with several other authors as a thunderstorm downpour drenched the festival, a plastic sheet tossed over my books to keep them safe. Finally the organizers threw in the towel, so to speak, and canceled the festival for severe weather. We packed up a full nine hours ahead of schedule without having had any visitors.

Technically that breaks my streak. In ten years as a published fiction author, I have never had an event at which I sold nothing. The closest I came was a Waldenbooks in some mall that apparently had told no one that it would have three or four authors signing that day. We sat for three hours and nobody bought anything. However, two people had called into the store that day and ordered my books from remote, requesting that their books be signed and shipped to them. So technically I sold something, but not to anyone physically present.

Today I sold nothing, so the streak is broken. I could argue the technicality that the festival was canceled, but really, we're just talking about my pride here. I am not foolish enough to think that I will make it all the way through this tour without having one or three Starbucks Stops where no one is there and/or I sell nothing. Frankly, I'd rather resign my winning streak under the deluge from heaven. So be it.

Do I need to tell you that as soon as the festival was canceled, the weather cleared up? You know that. God snickers. I really am quite disappointed to miss the festival, because it looked like it would have been a lot of fun. There were lots of activities set up, vendors and food folk galore, live music all day and a greased-pig-catching contest.

No, really. I saw the piggy. I was all ready to film this, folks. Tell me that wouldn't have been big on YouTube. I swear, I'll accept an invite to next year's festival just so I can film the greased-pig-catching contest.

I suddenly found myself with most of a day free and only an hour or so from home. Jimmy likewise reported that his D&D game had been canceled, and so he drove out to Carlyle to have lunch with me. My friend Mark Kaiser was on his way back from a Friday night gig in Effingham, so he joined us in time for dessert.

Note: The Wheelan BBQ in Carlyle is tasty. The sauce has just enough kick for a spice wuss like me, which means it's probably quite mild to normal humans. The brisket was amazingly tender and flavorful, while the side dishes were nondescript. The only downside was that it's all outdoor seating, so you're fighting the flies at a picnic table to eat. Judging by the crowd, however, the accommodations don't hurt their business.

Dessert was at Covered in Chocolate on Fairfax Street, which was quite a marvel. For one thing, it was even cheaper than Wheelan's. We got a giant freaking slice of cake, a huge cream horn, two sodas and a cup of coffee for seven bucks. And when I say "giant freaking slice of cake"...

It was a glorious fight, but Jimmy defeated the cake.
I am not capable of leaving on a business trip without forgetting something. In this case, it was my jacket. Jimmy helpfully brought it with him, so I would not freeze on the rest of my trip. For the record, I did not say, "Yay, D&D was canceled! Drive an hour each way to bring me the jacket I stupidly forgot, would you?" I said, "I'm sorry D&D was canceled. My thing was canceled too. Wanna have lunch?" And the jacket was a happy bonus. So there.

Boy, by the way, had an attack of Teenager and opted to stay home watching Netflix all day rather than join us for barbecue and oversized desserts. He's gonna regret that when he sees the picture of that cake. Which, by the way, was delicious. I strongly recommend Covered in Chocolate. In addition to normal-if-giant desserts, they had things like "chocolate-covered cookie dough" and "chocolate-covered cinnamon roll." Om nom nom.

We parted ways (again) and I set off for Indianapolis. I deliberately took the scenic route, in part because sitting alone in a hotel room is depressing, and in part because I love off-road American silliness, and in part because I need new photo fodder.

First victim: Carlyle Lake. I can't say much for the camping facilities; both the (closed) federal campgrounds and the primitive campsites at Eldon Hazlet State Park left a lot to be desired. The walk-in sites were next to a giant trench of stagnant water. Hello, skeeters. But the view made up for it.

I wished I could have hung around for sunset, because I bet that would be a wonderful sight. Carlyle is a lovely little town and a gorgeous lake, and it is definitely on our "weekend getaway" list.

I don't know what this crop is, but it made for gorgeous scenery.

See all that rain! The weather people did say rain all day... which should tell us to stop listening to weather people.

Mark Kaiser is an evil man and you can all blame him for telling me about the "Roadside America" app. It led me to the World's Largest Everything, folks. You can rest assured that through most of the tour I will not have nine hours to fritter away on silliness, so you will not have to suffer through eight more days of photos like these.

It's the fun-size Gateway Arch! Located in Vandalia, Ill. and visible from the highway.

This one's for Dad! The World's Largest Golf Tee, in Casey, Ill. Also home to the world's largest knitting needle, crochet hook and wind chimes. I didn't get to see those. As you can see, I was racing the sun.

Sometime around 7:30 p.m., Count Rugen sucked an hour of my life away. Either that, or Mulder's aliens abducted me, because my cell leaped ahead an hour and Falkor's internal clock remained the same. It's possible I simply traveled into another time zone, but isn't there something funny about Indiana and time zones? I can't remember. I suppose it would be helpful to find out before tomorrow's events.

I guess I didn't really need to be in this one. We'll call it proof of life.

To tell you the truth, folks, I'm a little nervous about being back in Indianapolis. The first time I was here was for a journalism conference in 2001. I came back with what I thought was an eye infection, and turned out to be a severe case of corneal degeneration. I had to go through extensive treatments at St. Louis University's Eye Institute and nearly lost my vision. As it was, I got to spend five days learning what it's like to be functionally blind, and it was truly a life-changing experience. (I was about to say "eye-opening experience," but there'll be enough time for puns later this week when I'm really tired.)

The next time I came to Indianapolis was also for a journalism conference, and before it was over I was lying in my hotel room with a fever of 104.5. Massive doses of aspirin knocked it down enough (barely) for me to drive home, where I spent days in bed recovering from what turned out to be swine flu or H1N1 or whatever the hell we're calling it. Hamthrax. It was the sickest I've ever been in my life, and I compounded it by stupidly taking leftover antibiotics in an effort to avoid doctor bills, which damn near killed me.

So... what am I going to bring out of Indianapolis this time? Well, at least I'm not here for a journalism conference....

Missed opportunity of the day: The CANDLES Holocaust Museum of Terre Haute, Ind. commemorates the horrific experiments done on twins in the Nazi concentration camps. Founded by a survivor who took the controversial step of publicly forgiving the Nazis for the horrors they inflicted on her and her family, the museum focuses on preserving first-hand accounts of the Holocaust and conducts a trip to Germany each year for a survivor to educate the travelers on her experiences. Not exactly a laff riot, but definitely something I would have chosen to visit if I had been in the area at the right time.

Thanks: to Jimmy, for driving two hours round-trip on few hours of sleep just to see me one more time and bring me my jacket.

Tomorrow: SoHo Cafe in Indianapolis at noon, followed by the Chocolate Cafe in South Bend, Ind. at 6:30 p.m.! Oof, more chocolate!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Flight Plan!

Please keep in mind, things will change. Some of them are still awaiting final approval, and in others we've given up and are scheduling a Starbucks Stop. That's where I settle into a table, stick the sign in front of me and you can come by and say hello if you like.

Others are "author dinners," which is fancy for "we all have a meal and you can pick up a book if you want." Email elizabethdonald at yahoo dot com if you're interested in one of those.

Watch Twitter and Facebook for changes - everything will be tagged #furloughtour. Spread the word if you know someone along the route... and come see me! That's the whole point of this thing!

• Harvest Thyme Festival, Carlyle City Park, Carlyle, Ill. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

• SoHo Cafe, 620 S. Range Line Road, Carmel, Ind. noon-1 p.m.
Chocolate Cafe, 122 S. Michigan, South Bend, Ind. 6:30-8 p.m.

• Fort Wayne, Ind. noon-1 p.m. Location TBA.
Columbus, Ohio 6-7:30 p.m. Location TBA

• Crazymocha Squirrel Hill, 2100 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. noon-1:30 p.m.
Author Dinner in Harrisburg, Pa. Email if interested!

Signing at Singularity & Co., 18 Bridge St. 1G, Brooklyn.

Visit to Bryn Mawr School, Baltimore
Author Dinner in Baltimore, Md. Email if interested!

• Passing through Charlottesville, Va. Email if you'd like to meet up!
7:30 p.m. Starbucks Stop, 8951-A South Tryon St., Charlotte, N.C.

Atlanta! Plans pending, watch for news.

Possible Starbucks Stop in Birmingham, plans pending.
3 p.m. signing at Booksellers at Laurelwood on Perkins Ext., Memphis, Tenn.

And then I go home.

P.S. Meet my Luck Dragon, Falkor. At least that's what I'm calling my temporary home for the next nine days. Many thanks to my dad, who was instrumental in snagging Falkor for this flight of insanity.

T-minus 12 hours!

No, that's not panic. I always chew my nails down to the elbow.

Actually, we're in decent shape here at Donald-Smith-Gillentine Inc., and it's entirely because of people who are not me. While I've been gnawing my nails and fretting and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, there have been a number of people manfully and womanfully putting forth enormous effort to help me pull off this tour.

Note to self: next tour, have a major New York publisher that will do all this for us. Or at least do it six months in advance. I really thought two weeks would be enough...

So, please give a standing ovation to Samantha Macumber, Marian Sanborn, Jay Smith, Keith DeCandido, Elizabeth Perry, Lynne Vogt, Parish Roberts and David Tyler. These folks are the ones on the ground who scouted out the territory and gave us locations to try, pulled in favors and spread the word with friends.

An extra hug and applause for Jimmy Gillentine, fiance extraordinaire. Jimmy has been running the show here at DSG Towers while I'm going crazy, and doing fun things like loading books in the trunk of the rental car and pressing chapbooks flat with a box of Stephen Zimmer books (hey, it works). But lives with me, he asked me to marry him, so he's by definition insane.

Mary has spent untold hours on the phone with bookstores, libraries, coffeehouses and other miscreants attempting to book our venues. Neither of us thought these places would be so resistant to foot traffic, or that it would be this difficult to set up the tour. And we didn't succeed everywhere, but it sure isn't for lack of trying. What success we did have is because of Mary. I am blessed to have two lovely assistants who make the calls and kick my butt when it needs kicking. Mary's new to the Evil Empire here, and what a baptism she got...

So, three cheers for all these folks, would you?

In a moment... the schedule!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Learning Curve

The biggest surprise in this tour remains how many people were willing to donate and really, really wanted me to come to their towns. It's been three weeks and I'm still in shock.

The second biggest surprise is how few bookstores and coffeehouses would allow me to set up on short notice.

At first I tried calling them myself. But they acted like I was spritzing them with perfume. Oh, I wasn't aiming for Barnes & Noble; it takes months to get on a bookstore's calendar and even longer to wind through the red tape of a chain bookstore. They make the V.A. look swift and efficient.

But small new/used stores and coffeehouses? All it takes is a couple of tables set aside in the corner, folks. Then I advertise your coffeehouse across the nation and (hopefully) bring in business for an hour or two.

I've never had this problem before. I began doing the coffeehouse thing a few years ago, since the formal book signing is so stiff and intimidating (and the aforementioned paperwork is a pain in the ass). I would call about a week or two before I was in a town, ask if it's okay, they'd say yes. Sometimes they'd put up my flyer, sometimes not. It's all good. People show up or they don't, and if they don't, all I lose is a couple of dollars on coffee. The coffeehouse loses nothing.

But time and again, they seemed hesitant at best or outright said no. And I certainly don't want to go where I'm not wanted. Do my books smell funny?

I called in one of my two lovely assistants and sicced her on some of them. Spud's having a little better luck. She's nicer than I am. Maybe it's because I'm totally unknown in these cities, but I'm really surprised at the resistance.

Learning curve: I should have set up the tour first and then done the Kickstarter. I didn't do that because I thought it was unfair to set up a signing and then cancel it if the Kickstarter failed. Oops.

At this point, I'm about to give up on advance notice. Look, I wanted to drive business to small, local coffehouses and bookstores. But Starbucks doesn't care about advance notice. If we don't have a firm yes from a business in a given town by tomorrow noon, I'm going to pick a Starbucks and declare that the meeting point for anyone who wants books. I'll be the one with the skull-decorated laptop and a box next to her.

For the record, the current version of the schedule is:

Carlyle, Ill. - Harvest Thyme Festival

Indianapolis, Ind.
South Bend, Ind.

Fort Wayne, Ind.
Columbus, Ohio

Pittsburgh, Pa.
Harrisburg, Pa.

New York City

York, Pa.
Baltimore, Md.

Charlottesville, Va.
Charlotte, N.C.

Atlanta, Ga.
Birmingham, Ala.

Memphis, Tenn.

I might also add that if you live along this route and I don't plan to stop in your town, drop me a line! I have absolutely no problem stopping at a given exit and meeting you. That's the whole point of this thing! :)

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Photography Non-Fire Sale!

While Archon itself was a great show for me, the art show was, alas, a bust. Possibly this was because I am inexperienced at this and neglected to bag my prints. They are now slightly warped.

This is nothing that would not be solved by putting them in an ordinary frame; the image isn't damaged in the slightest. But I would not feel right about selling them at full price.

So I'm offering them at half price to you folks! Only one of each, so when it's gone, I'll mark it sold. Add $2 for shipping. If interested, email me at

 Of course, all items can be found on the etsy shop! And next show, I will know to bag my prints, especially when it's 200-percent humidity. :)

Angel's Prayer: 8x10 matted 11x17  $15  $7.50

Silhouette Angel: 4x6 matted 5x7 - $6  $3

Lost Girls: 4x6 matted 5x7  $6  $3
Green Cathedral Angel: 4x6 matted 5x7  $6  $3     SOLD
Mourning Angel: 4x6 matted 5x7  $6  $3
Eternal Flight Detail: 4x6 matted 5x7  $6  $3
Cathedral Angel:  4x6 matted 5x7  $6  $3
Glass Angel: 8x10 matted 11x17  $15  $7.50
Warrior Angel:  8x10 matted 11x17  $15  $7.50
Eternal Flight:  8x10 matted 11x17  $15  $7.50
Angel of Death:  8x10 matted 11x17  $15  $7.50