Put a Ship on Your Kindle…

…for 1.99. Through sometime on Monday, when I get around to changing the price back.

Go to the home page and click on either Amazon or Smashwords. Yer choice.

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The heart of a cold woman

It’s evening, about 55 degrees. You see her approaching. Lovely:

You smile as she gets closer:

This is gonna be great…

Next morning, it’s 17 degrees. And your wallet is gone.

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Vender, Vende, Vendor


I went to Shatterdome in Herndon, VA this past weekend as a vender. Er, vendor. Whatever. Wasn’t really sure what a Shatterdome actually was, but, liked the word. Yes, yes, I saw Pacific Rim. Once. Cool movie, but I didn’t get all up in it so a lot of the references have sieved right through. This con looked like it was going to be Pacific Rim-heavy, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth the effort. But, what the hey, give it a shot.

Turns out this was the very first Shatterdome Con held in northern Virginia and, well, it showed. I popped in about 0900 on Saturday morning to set up my table and could not find the registration people. When I finally spotted Laurie (who, by the way, did a great job in a rather chaotic situation), she couldn’t find my Vender card, so I ended up getting an extra one from Steven,

another vender. Vendor. Whatever. They didn’t have a table for me, either, so they grabbed one out of the kitchen and put me in the hallway outside the Vende(o)r sully, right next to another author, S. Usher Evans,

a very cool person who wrote a book called Double Life, which is about Space Pirates. Who doesn’t love Space Pirates?

Well, I set up and sat down…and was told to move my stuff because I was blocking a fire exit. Fire Marshalls have no sense of humor. So, with cartoon curse words in a bubble over my head, I did so. This was my final iteration:

which was actually strategic because the hordes of Rimmers (awright, enough of that) on their way to the autograph tables farther down the hall would be dazzled by my beauteous banners and, in wonder and want, spin right around and purchase my wares. So,I sat, ready for said hordes. And…crickets.

Apparently, I was just one of a handful of people who knew Shatterdome was on. Not enough of them showed up to keep we (us) vendors solvent, and a few of we packed up and left within an hour or so. I stayed, because, man, the people who DID show up were just awesome. As were the costumes:

At one point, a parade of about 15 Fetts went by. Some posed:

What a great background. So, others stopped to use it:

The lovely Elsa. And she can sing, too.

Dick Tracy.

The Doctor and his phone booth.

In-transition Lizard.

The only person actually dressed as a Pacific Rim character.

This is Curt before:

This is Curt after:

A Mandalorian Warrior, which is what Boba Fett is, too. Must have missed that in the movies.

This guy was a character called Yang from a new web series called Rwby:

You’ve been warned.

Kaylee from Serenity:

I have no idea:

And lots and lots and LOTS of Star Wars people:

Why? Because the 501st Legion was there in force. Or Force.  I’d never heard of ‘em, but, man what a great bunch. They made the whole con, IMHO. Shoutout to them all.

Speaking of people who showed up:

Ward and Lottie, who were part of this Zombie Hunter group during Monster-Mania in Hunt Valley (scroll down):

This is Anna, who has outstanding literary taste:

She is evaluating both Ship and Partholon for inclusion in the DC CapitolCon. Did I mention she is brilliant, beautiful, and wonderful? No?

I had so much fun, I decided to come back on Sunday. I set up inside the vendo(e)r sully this time:

Not a lot of new people showed up. Eh, Sunday, wadja expect? Indiana Jones and Jane Austen stopped by:

but that was it. Bought some Xmas presents from the other venders, and went home.

And I’ll be back next year.

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Arrow…or Hood, whatever.

I was never a DC Comics fan. Superman: invulnerable, strongest being in the universe, so where’s the challenge? Batman: just shoot the guy, will ya, Joker? And what’s with all these Bizarro Worlds and Alternate Earths? Let’s not forget the relative idiocy of the populace: all Superman had to do was put on a pair of nerd glasses and everyone was baffled. And, gee, look at all that expensive, state-of-the-Batman-art cars and batcopters and batarangs. Wonder who could afford to build those? And that young ward of his…nah, couldn’t be Robin.

So I wasn’t expecting much when I started watching the Netflix series, Arrow. Granted, I didn’t know that much about Green Arrow.

 I’d seen the character around and he seemed like a badass, but I didn’t pay attention to him so no preconceptions (other than it was a DC character) when I started watching. And, well, I liked the show, primarily for one reason: Arrow killed bad guys. He downright killed ‘em, no second thoughts, and in such a medieval manner. My kind of guy.; the anti-Batman, if you will. And for those of you who are falling down in utter snitfits right now, please understand I subscribe to the Old West theory that there are some people who just need killin’: Ted Bundy, ISIS fighters, that ilk.

There were, of course, many things about Season 1 that irritated. The island back story just got downright weird. The earthquake machine to destroy a whole section of town because somebody lost somebody there: excessive overreaction much? And all the rich guys are in on it? C’mon. But, hey, DC, so I shook it off and pressed on.

Now, it is the second season and…now, it has become comic booky. DC-ooky. You know what I mean, characters who react to situations in a way that only a 12-year-old DC fan  would find plausible. F’rinstance, Laurel now hates the Hood because he didn’t do enough to save Tommy, but really she’s feeling guilty for her little fling with Oliver before she chose Tommy. Geez, talk about convoluted. And her father has been busted down to patrolman and isn’t allowed to do any detective work, even though he knows more about some serial killer than just about everyone else. Geez, talk about union rules. And, get this, Arrow has decided to become Batman, and not kill anybody anymore.

Geez, talk about your political correctness.

And the density of the DC populace continues. First of all, just about everybody within five feet of Oliver knows he’s the Arrow because he pretty much told everybody within five feet of him that he was the Hood…or Vigilante…or Arrow, whatever…and they weren’t exactly the kind of people to keep secrets. But Laurel and her father still don’t know, even though they talk straight at Arrow and hear his voice and choice of words and the way he walks and the way he talks and even gaze intently at his barely concealed face. Little black mascara around the eyes, doncha know. It’s like Clark Kent’s glasses, I guess.

And the island back story is getting even weirder.


Still, though, I’ll stay with it. Why?

Black Canary.

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The Adventures of Gracie the Wander Cat: Guest Blogger

Russell here:

It’s come to my attention that, once again, rather scurrilous things are being said about me in these pages, the latest concerning “three day binges” or some such rot. Now, admittedly, I sometimes wake up in strange places:

and, yes, it takes me a bit to get going:

Dude, do you know where I left my car?

But, a little breakfast (or lunch, depending on what time it is):

and a massage:

and I’m good as new:

So don’t listen to what Mr. Krauss says. He’s basing his opinion on short episodes, aberrations, really. Would you like your entire life characterized by an unfortunate evening or two? Of course not.

As for Gracie:

she needs to get off her high horse and acknowledge the patently obvious: I am her father.

Now, I don’t really remember her mother and the circumstances, but it’s quite clear Gracie is my daughter. I mean, can you tell which of us is which?

Of course you can’t, and I don’t need a paternity test to prove it. Gracie is my daughter, and she needs to take care of me as I’m getting older. You know, a place to crash when I need it:

A meal or two:

all without the attitude:

Got it?

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The Case of the Missing Author

Tj O’Connor and I had such a good time at Monster Mania last week (see below), that we decided to induce heart attacks and go do the Collingswood Book Festival in Collingswood, NJ, the next week. Since my brother (seen here with his lap dog, Cody):

lived just down the road a piece, I had a place to crash before and after. Perfect! So, Friday night, I wended my way across the Mad Max landscape of 95 North through Baltimore to do this thing. Tj and I would meet up the following Saturday morning, 11 Oct, in Collingswood.

All the time I’ve been in and out of NJ, I never visited Collingswood because they have passport control and like to keep the riffraff out. It is a lovely town, with a toney main street called Hadden Avenue running ‘cross it, where all of us book peoples were to assemble our tables and banners and offer our bookish wares to an ambulatory bookish public. That is, unless it rained; then we were to assemble inside the Collingswood High School.

Well, it rained. And it was anarchy.

All rules of civilization were jettisoned as hundreds of booksellers went Lord of the Flies and wrestled for table and parking space. Without too much bloodshed, I managed to snag a place inside the adjoining middle school gym:

next to a cartoonist:

which, given the Simpson-ish start to the day, seemed appropriate.

Some of the neighbors:

Just a few days ago, the guy with the great hair was Dormammu at the NYC ComicCon.

Speaking of great hair:

Music was provided by Leon Russell:

Cyd Webster:

was set up across from me selling her post-apocalyptic survival novel HB…’cause, you know, it wasn’t like I was selling a post-apocalyptic novel or something.

Indeed, it wasn’t like there was, oh, say, about 60-90 authors at 60-90 tables lined edge to edge in a cramped space, all trying to sell their books to the few customers who managed to wander in from the main building where all the big booksellers had set up shop. Disaster, right?


It was packed, lots of people coming in and out, and I worked the room for about eight straight hours, buttonholing anybody who even glanced in my direction, shoving my card in their pockets and making a general nuisance of myself. These ladies:

were speculating whether I was a lawyer, a teacher, or a preacher. Well, I teach the gospel of What’s Happening Now, and if you don’t like it, I’ll sue you.

Sell any books? Eh, a few, but, so what? I had a great time. In fact, I’m thinking of going next year…as long as it doesn’t rain.

Oh, Tj? Didn’t see him. Not once. He was somewhere over in the main building…or, at least, that’s what he said in his texts. I got lots of texts from him. Seemed to be running commentary on what was going on over there in a building I did not visit, so, you know, coulda said just about anything, right? Oh, sure, I saw his daughter; she brought me a couple of requested hot dogs because sitting behind a table talking about books all day is grueling work that leaves you famished (how I suffer for my art). But, no Tj. Not once. In fact, when it was over, I called him to see what he was doing and…uh…he’d already left the area.

Uh huh.

Not that I’m implying anything…nope, not me. But, ya know, I think someone ought to go see how Tj is doing. You know, actually SEE him. Alive. Not tied up in a car trunk and being forced to sign checks or something.

Someone should.

Posted in Travels, Uncategorized, Writing itself | Leave a comment

Monster Mania 2014

Had so much fun at last year’s Monster Mania that I wanted to go again, but not alone because, well, monsters. So, Tj O’Connor agreed to watch my back and the two of us hied to Hunt Valley, books and banners in hand, to ply our wares. Set up was Friday night:

That’s Jenna in the above picture. We love Jenna.

Here’s our setup:

Casual Friday look.

Real casual Friday look:

This guy kept order:

John Franklin, that Children of the Corn guy. Did you know he was Cousin Itt, too?

Cerina Vincent, the yellow Power Ranger, set up across from us:

I was very happy.

Victorian Deadpool, Assassin’s Creed Deadpool, Egocentric Deadpool, and Dapper Deadpool:


Incidentally, this is why we love Jenna:

No, I’m not drunk. Just happy. A drunk woman did collapse across me without spilling her beer, but that’s another story.

Pets were allowed:

That’s not camera-flash; those are her eyes. Like these:

Frederica Kruger:

Countess Zorro. Who, by the way, is also Frederica Kruger:

This little girl, all of five-years-old, walked up to our table and sang the Freddy Kruger jump rope song. Creeeeepy:

But, hey, check out her family.

The children of the corn. Hi Amy!:

Pet Sematary:

I have no idea:

On Saturday, I became a hit man:

Damn politicians:

The doctor will see you now:

The family that slays together…:

We still love Jenna:

Captain Mango is my hero:

A thousand years of good and evil. Hi, Donna!:

Child care was provided:

Bomb, Steampunk Joker, and the Penguin:

The Dead Dollies:

who had the room next to mine, which is why I bolted the door and threw garlic around.

A good time. Sold 20 books, gave away four, and met lots and lots of great people. On to Collingswood!

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Thomas Wolfe was right.

Every five years or so, I pick up Thomas Wolfe again…no, not that Tom Wolfe, the other Tom Wolfe, the one no one remembers or reads anymore. It takes that long between reads because, well, he’s not exactly easy going. “Turgid” would be a good one-word description (funny, same has been said about me); ‘sledgehammer stream-of-conscience craziness’ would be a little  more accurate, and I usually end up with a headache after about twenty pages of his. But there’s something about the guy, stalking along the streets of New York like a mad prophet with reams of mad writing falling off his desk while Max Perkins blinks and goes, “Somewhere in here is a novel.” Those were the best years of American literature, when the writing was more important than the sales. And the author.

But I guess my main draw towards Wolfe is his attempt to explain the southerner. Now, I am not a southerner. I lived in Oklahoma and Alabama and Texas and Florida at various times in my life, but also in New Jersey and New York and Illinois. I’m as much a northerner as southern: more accurately, a northeasterner, since I currently hover near the Mason-Dixon line. Wolfe was definitely a southerner, but one who yearned for the north, as per this passage from Of Time and the River:

It was his train and it had come to take him to that strange and secret heart of the great North that he had never known, but whose austere and lonely image, whose frozen heat and glacial fire, and dark stern beauty had blazed in his vision since he was a child. For he had dreamed and hungered for the proud unknown North with that wild ecstasy, that intolerable and wordless joy of longing and desire, which only a Southerner can feel. Page 23 of the Scribner’s 1935 edition, which I proudly own.

Now, I can safely say that I never “dreamed and hungered for the proud unknown North” while I was living in Alabama. Smack in the middle of my freshman year, though, I ended up there: in New Jersey, of all places. Imagine, a bell-bottom wearing, BCG’s-sporting nerd walking into that predominately black high school and saying, in my best LA (lower Alabama) drawl, “Hey, y’all!” No, I wasn’t murdered. In fact, I had a rather good time in high school, and still count those years as some of my best. But I was locked between two camps, without commitment to either.

And it shows. Sometimes, I get an urge to go back to Alabama, maybe see if my old house is available, buy it, live there. Then, I come to my senses. Later, thoughts spin towards New Jersey: maybe I should head back there, find old friends, start some crap back up. Then I REALLY come to my senses and stay here, in Virginia, which, more and more, is a hybrid of north and south.

See, you can’t go home again. Especially if you don’t know where home is.

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Feed me, and Beirut

Random videos:

Greetings from the cat   Gracie’s “feed me” performance every morning about 0500. Nice legs.

Beirut  Imagine listening to this all day, while you’re trying to write. Word is, we’re now getting a Dick’s Sporting Goods. So, whenever the urge for a camouflaged shirt strikes me, it’s just a stroll away.



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There is No Sanctuary


Yeah, there is. Libraries.

Went to mine a couple of weeks ago and picked up these:


Already finished In the Light of What We Know, and I’m in the middle of The Eye of the World. So far, eh. It’s so obviously Tolkien that I just want to go, “Been there, done that,”  and pitch it across the room, but, every few pages or so, an interesting situation shows up so I’m going to stay with it. The Stephen Hunter is a new Bob Lee Swagger  novel, and I loves me some Bob Lee, so it’s next. And I have to read at least one non-fiction per library visit, so who can resist something called The Bohemians? Besides, it’s Mark Twain.

God, do I love libraries.

I had a rather crappy childhood, and libraries became my hideout; specifically, the ones located on Ft. Rucker, Alabama (when I was 10-14 years old), and then the one in Pemberton, NJ (from 14 to 18). After that, wherever I could find one.

I got to the Ft. Rucker library about once every two weeks, during Mom’s biweekly commissary trip. She’d drop me off, because that was one less whining kid to deal with, and pick me up on the way back to our in-the-middle-of-nowhere house some 25-30 miles south of Enterprise, AL. Those were the days when I was reading 600-700 wpm, so I loaded up: Heinlein, Bradbury, Asimov, L’Engle, Moon, anywhere from 10-20 books at a shot. I’d blast through them, and get another 10-20 on the next trip. We also had a bookmobile show up once a month at Goodman Elementary School, and I cleaned them out, too.

My first honest-to-God job was at the Pemberton Library. I got paid $2.00 an hour to shelve books, clean up, and check out patrons (their library books, not the chicks, although I did that, too). Imagine, working in a place you love. I got into a lot of trouble because I’d be back in the stacks and spot something interesting and, two hours later, the boss finds me curled up in a corner reading. Ah, indolence.

Since then, the reading speed has dropped precipitously (might have something to do with a rather misspent adolescence), and the opportunities to read, also (Assassin’s Creed is killing me, pun intended). But, I still go and browse through the shelves. Despite Goodreads and Kindle Boards and all the other thousands of reading sites out there, the New Books section, just past the circulation desk, is where I find my next read.

And sanctuary.

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