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Dec. 31st, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

The stars of the year(s) past...

We landed a probe on a comet this year. Read that again. We landed. A probe. On. A COMET.

We can do such great stuff when we set our minds to it.

Little Philae landed with a thump, malfunctioned when it came to anchoring itself, bumped off into an incovenient shadow where its solar power cells drifted gasped for breath and then shut off, sent a bunch of data we could never have dreamed of getting our minds and hands on before it touched down, and then curled up and went to sleep

We celebrated. We were proud (and jsutly so) even with all the snafus that went on during the mission and finally scuttled it. We DID this thing. We were mighty.

Today comes a different headline - one about a much older craft, one we sent off to Mars a decade ago.

The little Rover named Opportunity is developing Alzheimer's.

There's this thing, about its sister Rover, Spirit, which remains indellibly inscribed in my memory:


I am thinking about these sendings of the human spirit today, at the tail end of the scienc-fictionish year of 2014. With next year, we're halfway through the second decade of the 21st century. This is kind of amazing.

And out there, on other planets, on cometary detritus out of the Oort cloud, little machines work and sleep, and sometimes send news of the stars back home to the Earth from which they came.

This is even more amazing.

It's a kind of melancholy note to end a year on. But - rest, Opportunity, you've done way more than was asked or expected of you. Rest, little Philae, who did an impossible thing, even if it wasn't perfect. Rest, and dream, if you have to. Others of your kind - I raise my eyes to the heavens and I pray and I hope this is so - will follow where you have led. In the meantime... looking back over the year that is ending and the fourteen years that have elapsed since the beginning of the new century... I just wanted to say, I am proud of you, and I remember you, and even when you go silent and lost out there in that bleak black vastness there are minds down here below who will remain proud of you, who will always remember you.

For those of us down here, the flesh-and-blood folk still on the original beloved mudball... happy new year, everyone. May it bring you everything you are hoping for.

Dec. 28th, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

*I am not a Muse.*


"And it’s a powerful thing, the learnt reflex to look at a woman and see someone who is by definition unaccomplished, a novice; someone’s disciple, companion, muse; someone with no power or expertise of her own."

The longer I move in the circles that I do, the more stories I hear whose kernel is the attitude encapsulated in that paragraph above. A man... is born knowing his craft, apparently. Even when he is bad, he is by definition somehow, better than any other poor fool who does not share that gender. It is just THAT easy to dismiss a woman at a gathering like this as a lackey, an assistant, a secretary, a junior editor who's been allowed out of the office/schoolroom as a treat for the child (as it were). That, or the "disciple... companion... muse" mentioned above. A man is born knowing his craft; a woman is incapable of ever transcending a certain level of foothills, as it were, because it is not for her alone to breathe the rare air of the high literary mountains unless she happens to be a disciple, a companion, a muse.

*I am not a Muse*.

Or, if I have inadvertently been one to anyone at all, it is not as an ethereal damsel floating in the first pink flush of the dawn light whispering wondrous words into someone else's ear, to be claimed by someone else's mind, and pen. If I am a Muse at all, it is my own Muse, listening to my own wondrous whispers at dawn. As much as some might seek to scoff at such claims, yes, I HAVE walked those mountains without either leaning on the arm of a man for support or floating before him as a wispy spirit guide into the dizzying heights above the eternal snows.

Why is the distillate of a man's mind automatically wisdom and truth and holy writ, and of a woman's nothing more than lullabies and sweet romance and laid-down fine needlework? Why can a woman's writing not be great and powerful and wise? WHy can it not be heard, and understood, and given its due? What is it that makes men walk into literary gatherings only to have their eyes slide over (the few) women in the group as though they were not there at all, as though they were there by accident, or (worse) by *permission*? What makes my mind inferior to that housed in a body which happens to have different plumbing than my own?

Time and time again women have taken the name of a man in order to stake a claim in the literary arena. Take the Bronte sisters (who ended up being the Brothers Bell). Take George Sand. Take James TIptree Jr. And it's a known thing (pace JRR Tolkien and GRR Martin) that all too frequently a woman author who wishes to hide her gender identity will take refuge behind the shield of the initials, just like JK Rowlings did.

It's insidious, a bitter little thread in the tapestry - it's known to happen, because it needs to happen, because so few of us who have to lay claim to a feminine gender finally have the stamina to stand our ground, to stay the course, to expect that at some point in our lives and our careers we might be seen as WRITERS - and by that I mean as writers of substance, and not just dismissed as those girls who just dabble in this writing lark, who write "silly penny-dreadful romances" or "children's books". Not LITERATURE. Not ever that. Our puny little fluffy brains cannot stretch to that. Literature is defined by men, apparently, and its first commandment is that its progenitors have to be men, too.

I believe I will speak for many of my (fairer) sex when I recoil from this patronizing head-patting, gather myself up to my full and not inconsiderable height, and declare... I AM NOT A MUSE - I am nobody's muse except perhaps my own. I am a writer. In my own right. I do not need to be a man's amanuensis or inspiration in order to have my own ideas and words heard. Never MIND the battle of the genders of the actual authors - I do not believe that my WORDS are tainted by my being female, or made worse by it. And neither are those of my sisters in the pen.

We are not here to guide you anywhere, gentlemen. Find your own way up the mountain. The only thing the "girls" ask of you is not to get in our way when we try to do the same, or, worse, attempt with all of your might to tell us that the mountains are just an illusion and we should lower our eyes and look back down to the ground, as we should, enver raising our gaze from the toes of our shoes. Don't tell me where I can't go. And if you can't get there by yourself, don't expect me to lead you there and then bow out as you plant your own flag on the summit and claim it for your own.

I am not a Muse. I am a WRITER. Get out of the way.

Dec. 23rd, 2014

leavenworth christmas icon

Tis the season, it would seem...


Seriously, this after a year of writing two novels (200,000 words there alone) plus all kinds of other stuff - and things ACCUMULATED. Folks, it's this simple - it's the first time I've actually seen the surface of my desk for... for ...for a long time... [gulp] (and i still have a small pile of to-deal-with stuff sitting off to the side. But enough for one day. Tmorrow. I'll have a clean(ish) office for Christmas, anyway.)

Dec. 17th, 2014


The City Where I Was Born...

that first video - more elegant, slower, with more time to look around - it shows, amongst other things, the door on the corner of Matica Srpska, the Archive of Serbia, which leads into their storefront there on the street - behind that, in teh building beyond, on many floors, along many corridors, is the gathered wealth of our language and literature, a treasure house that's been there for centuries - and the place where, in the company of my beloved grandfather, I began to fall in love with language. The video shows two church towers in loving lingering detail - the first one is the pretty colourful Catholic cathdedral which dominates the main city square, but the second, the more baroque one, belongs to the Orthodox cathedral of St George which is the place that GOd lives...

The second video, teh time-lapse one, is more manic (and the speed of life in that city is very much NOT that...) but it shows other iconic places. Dunavska Ulica (Dunavska Street) which is an old and beloved street leading from the orthodox cathedral to the park beyond where I used to stand holding onto the self-same fence around the central shown in the image there and watch the resident swans (I have a black-and-white picture of a chubby toddler that was me back then holding on to that fence which was then just chin-high and staring at the birds in the water beyond...); a glimpse of the old market to which I used to go so often with my grandmother; and, of course, the river, The River, my Danube which I love so much...

Eh. It's the end of another year. if this isn't the time for a bit of nostalgia, when is...

Nov. 23rd, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Spamology, November edition

1. "You are Dead". - well if this is true and you are still sending me the email that raises two possibilities. I am a ghost or I am a zombie. Although I have to admit that I have had my share of zombie-like days I don't think I have ever had a particularly strong yen for eating brain, nor has flesh been falling off me in that delectable and inimitable zombie manner (that I know of). And I am still physical enough to type this so not a ghost (maybe I am a poltergeist???) Either way, sending me this email - MULTPLE times, no less, how many times can a human being DIE, exactly? - serves zero purpose. Because I still cling to life, and the rumours of my death (to misquote with glee) have no doubt been greatly exaggerated. (By the way I have never opened one of these emails. So I have no idea what exactly they want with a dead person. Or what it is that is about to kill me. And it was entertaining the first time - I laughed, I really did. But being told that I am dead, over and over and over again, is beginning to lose its charm. So quit already. Do. Thanks.)

2) "You do not have to be afraid of loud noises". Oh. Okay. Thanks for letting me know. I'll take it under advisement.

3) a double whammy - "GENUINE letters from Santa!" and "Time is running out for your child" - seasonal nonsense, but several questions are going begging here. "Genuine" letters? Rewally? From the ACTUAL Santa? What do you know that I don't? And it's his busy season, you know. He really doesn't have the time to sit and handwrite letters to every kid out there who thinks they ought to getone. So let's ease up on the"genuine" shall we? I yanked on that beard. It comes off. it's cotton wool. Let's say no more about that. But that is followed by the rather more dire "time is running out" message. What happens after the sands run out? Does your kid start getting letters saying "you are dead", signed, Santa, merry christmas ho ho ho ho?

The endless fun in my spam folder. Really.

Brought to you as a Publice Service, so that you don't have to bother wading through the mess.

Signing off, until the next time.

Nov. 9th, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

"Last Plane to Heaven" - looking back on life and legacy

"Jay Lake was an acclaimed short story writer. In his all too brief career he published more than three hundred works of short fiction. In "Last Plane to Heaven" we have winnowed that down to thirty two of the best of them." ("Last Plane to Heaven", front matter)

I knew this collection was coming. I knew I was going to buy it. Jay Lake was my friend. This, I owed. To him; to my memory of him.

I did not know that one of the stories included in the collection, one of those "thirty two best" which was chosen for it, would be the story he gave me for the anthology I edited, 'River'. Its presence here was unanticipated. It was as though Jay himself grinned at me across the veil, a sort of ghostly high-five. I am delighted - but more than that, I am deeply honoured - that this is one of the stories picked for his farewell book.

Let me tell you, briefly, about 'River'. It was something that was dear to my heart, an idea that sprang from my own deep and almost mystical connection to 'my' river, the Danube, on whose shores I was born, I was young. When I got the green light for the anthology, I approached a handful of writers who were my friends - whose work I knew, and respected, and admired - and asked if they wanted to give me a story for this project, to tell me about rivers of their own. Several declined, because of whatever reasons loomed large in their lives right then. One or two accepted, after hesitation, after weighing their options, after weighing whether to allow the valuable power of their name and reputation to back a project by a novice anthology editor put out by a small press.

I asked Jay for a story just before a panel we were both on together at some con or other (they blur; I forget which). I remember him sitting there, in his bright hawaiian shirt, his feet in sandals and tie-dyed psychedelic socks, gazing at me with concentrated and courteous focused attention as I pitched my project. And when I asked for a story, all he said was,

"When do you want it?"

I kind of loved him for that. He TRUSTED me. The book that was born was the better, the stronger, for his story in it.

And I am utterly humbled by its inclusion in this, in his last collection. Not only did he trust me with his story, but by putting it in this book he has made my 'River' part of his own legacy. This means more than I could ever have thought it might.

"WORD: Word is the oldest angel of all. For you see, in the beginning Word made the world upon the waters when God spat Word from his mouth. Later, Word made flesh. Without their tongues, men would be no more tha animals. Without Word, men's tongues would be no more than meat. Word is the beacon of our minds and the light of our days, withered proxy for an absent God." (From "Angels iv: Novus Ordo Angelorum", "Last Plane to Heaven")

Jay Lake's stories - his words, his language, his ideas - are huge, great, astonishing, GIFTED things. One keeps on reading a sentence, or a paragraph, and then stopping, and going back to savor it once more, word by word. Jay Lake wrote fiction but he wove a lot of devastating honesty into it and - you know - you can tell. There is a weight of pure emotional truth to these stories that is almost physical; you feel it settle on your shoulders and ride along with you for a long time after you've put the book down, like Odin's ravens, whispering into your ear. There is a way he sees the world - the way he takes what might seem to be something ordinary and then twisting it into things rich and strange - you walk into ruined cities with him, and into shadows, and into the light. You walk with an angel named Word, and you believe that Jay Lake might have actually met him, and talked to him, and learned wisdom at his side.

And this... all this... before he gets to the end of the book. And the most devastating, pitiless, brutal truth of all.

Every story in this book has a short preamble from Jay. And before the final story, "The Cancer Catechism", there is this:

"This is the end. Really, there's not that much more to say. Never walk this road that I have walked if you can help it. If you must do so, take my hand. Maybe I can help you a few steps along the way." (From "The Cancer Catechism", "Last Plane To Heaven")

And then - the story -

"But where surgery dropped you swiftly into a hole which the took a month to climb out of, chemo lowers you slowly, inch by inch, week after week, into a hole which you may never climb out of. Starting with your dignity and ending with your sense of self, chemo takes everything away from you." (From "The Cancer Catechism", "Last Plane to Heaven")

THIS is the road on which he is offering to hold your hand. In your darkest hours. In the worst moments of your life... this writer, this angel called Word, who understands stories and who knows pain and loss from the inside, is there by your side. "The Cancer Catechism" is not an easy read, not even for the healthy and the able bodied, let alone those in the grip of the same thing that held Jay himself in its sharp claws. But it is true, in the same way that you know that the summer sky is blue or the winter wind is cold. This is a savage and fundamental building block of the universe. And for this alone - if he had done nothing else at all in his life - Jay Lake, and that unflinching hand he is offering you to hold, has claimed his seat in that Last Plane to Heaven.

In the Afterword, Jay writes:

"I love you all. It has been a real privilege to know you."

Backatcha, big guy. It's been a privilege, and an honour. Thank you for your words, for your courage, for choosing to be my friend.

I will miss you, and all the stories that will remain unwritten.

The back flap adds the coda: "Jay Lake died on June 1 2014, three months before the publicaton of this collection."

I like to think that somehow, somewhere, from a dimension he himself could never quite manage to believe in, that magnificent laughing spirit that was his can see this book - the last book - in the world that had so recently been his own. And can enjoy the fact that with a legacy like this he is never really going to be gone from that world. Those of us who knew him will think of him every time we see a loud Hawaiian shirt, will remember the easy way he could laugh, the profound way that he could care, the courageous way that he could fight. There are many out there who have never met him, and who will not know these things directly. But for all of us - even as we wave Jay goodbye as he boards that Last Train and is carried away from us - these words remain. And will endure.
Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Orycon Saturday Redux, and the Sunday that came after...

Well, then. Saturday proved to have an ending, after all - above and beyond where I left off on the previous entry.

I came down to try and connect with people, and ended up at a rowdy table where people variously came to eat something for supper, drink iced teas or coffee, or (if you were me) had another slice of the delicious raspberry and chocolate cake on offer. Plots were hatched and rehatched. Laughter was had. There. Are. Pictures. On Facebook.

Then I had a little bit of time in between this and the beginning of the Endeavour Award party up on the 14th floor. And while walking past this one table I was hailed by a gentleman who sat there folding an ASTONISHING origami dragon (complete with four tiny feet and spreading wings). He was kind enough to tell me he had enjoyed one of my panels. I conveyed my amazement at his dragon. He told me I could have it. That, and a tiny winged origami pegasus. And then another even tinier origami pegasus. And then an even more wondrous dragon made out of a square of gleaming red origami paper. And then a perfect origami X-wing.

My original few minutes of stopping by stretched to more than a hour as I made a couple of new friends. And then I wandered up eventually to the Endeavour party where I had a glass of genuine original mead and grabbed something a little more food-like to eat from the spread on the table (caprese salad, people? Classy!)

And then I steeled myself to go back down again, to the memorial for Jay Lake.

They invited those of us in the audience to share our memories of him. This was begun by his mother reading one of his stories - about him, Jay, meeting a strange little man clad in a purple satin suit, sitting next to him on a Portland bus a man to whom the only answer, no matter what the question, could only ever be 'yes'. Except that the question, when it came, was "Do you want to live forever?" and he had until the next stop to decide. And although the first answer was 'yes'... he hestitated... remembering the wife and the child who waited at home, and the piled bills waiting to be paid, and the sun going up and down on the passage of days. And the next stop came and went, and the man in the purple suit vanished softly and without a trace, and Jay - the narrator - "allowed the bus to take me back home to love."

That came with the weight of words from an angel.

I had bought a copy of Jay's last, posthumous, collection, "Last train to Heaven". I just now finished reading it. One of the stories in it is one he gave to me, for the River anthology, and this I hadn't expected, and it hit me harder than I had thought. And as for the rest of the stories in here - some of them I had read before, some I had not - I have more to say on this. Just not here. Not now. Not yet.

It was close to midnight that I crept back to my room. Packed up almost everything I could. Crawled into bed.

Not sure what dreams there came.

Sunday morning I came downstairs, my luggage in tow, checked out, and stopped for a double-shot latte to wake myself up before my panel. Just outside the restaurant my origami friend from the previous evening came sailing out of the restaurant where he and his group were having breakfast and since I was looking for a place to drink my coffee I accepted the invitation to join them.

Before THIS was over, I was the richer for an origami Imperial Star Destroyer, an origami TARDIS (who knows, it MIGHT be bigger on the inside....) and an origami Vorlon ship (which was literally INVENTED on the spot from an image gleaned from the Internet on the fly). Obviously Saturday night was mostly for critters. SUnday was for SERIOUS HARDWARE. The origami artist even showed me pictures of the origami Death Star that he had made (and said that took FIVE HOURS to get right). I remain astonished, and beyond impressed.

They followed me into my Sunday morning panel, which was quite a nice one and went rather well. And then I had a ride arranged to the station to catch a train back. Courtesy of Orycon. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

As of current writing, am on the train. The train is moving. That is all. If I don't turn up at home before midnight... pray for me.

Another con over. Another year slipping fast towards its end. Outside, it is already night. And soon it will be morning, and another day, and things and people are waiting for me at my destinaton. As Jay said in that story, I am waiting for the train to carry me back home through the dark, to carry me back home to love.

Nov. 8th, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Orycon Saturday

I had a panel - I was supposed to be MODERATING a panel - at 10 AM on a Saturday morning. I wouldn't have been surprised if the audience was sparse. But instead we had a good panel, and lively audience participation, on the subject of descriptions in writing (quote of the panel: "things sometimes transcent bad, purple prose can transform into ultra violet...") After that, I went to the Green Room to grab coffee and a bite to eat, and an hour later it was another panel, on the limitations of magic. Again, lots of audience participation, and I don't remember what it was that I said, precisely, but I brought the house (or at least the room) down with some offhand comment during the panel, which always makes me pleased. The idea of the panel was the concept of a "periodic table of magic"... I like that quite a lot. It had possibilities. It was a nice panel in a packed room, and it went very well. I went from that the autographing, where four of us sat forlornly behind a wall of signage pointing to OTHER interesting things going on around there but not us lot sitting there waiting to talk to people and sign stuff, and resigned to getting far less attention than a young and shapely and very half-naked woman who was having a body-painting job done on a platform nearby. Oh well. I left about 15 minutes from the end of the hour, aiming to get to my reading on time - and the reading was really well attended, as far as readings go. People listened with rapt attention as I read an excerpt from "Random" and then a sneak preview from "Wolf", the second book in the series, Coming Soon. One of the people at the reading said that "Random" sounded like a lovely book for his book group to tackle. All good. Handed out little sample excerpt brochures to people who went away happy. At least one person collared me in the corridor later to tell me that they'd just gone and bought a "Random" ebook, right there and then. Again, all good.

Grabbed something to eat, and then sat in the bar over a glass of cider with a friend, trying to connnect with another fried with whom I'd crossed paths with earlier, briefly, but of whom I had now completely lost track. Didn't find Friend #2, but had a nice get-together with Friend #1. Then decided to take a break, came up to my room to kick my shoes off and write an update, before I sally forth again shortly into the fray.

One more panel tomorrow morning and then I have to find my way to the station by 2 PM to catch a train back home. Hopefully this time they will have loaded a full complement of fuel...

Tired,now. But energised, as always with cons. These things can be amazing elixirs for the soul. I will permit myself another half hour or so of down time and then I'll dive back into the fracas and see what else I can find going on.

I will report back on trains tomorrow. And then I'll be home. And I have a to-do list as long as my arm for when I get there. And the end of the year is hurtling down upon me with unseemly speed.

More anon.

Nov. 7th, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Orycon time...

So, then. Let us start at the beginning.

I arrived at the station bright and early on Thursday morning, to take the train down to Portland - like I've done so many times before. The train, whose departure time changed often enough for me to have printed out at least two separate tickets that Amtrak sent out as the timetable was amended, was due to depart at 8:32 AM. This of course meant that I had to be at the station by 8 at the latest, which in turn meant that I had to leave FOR the station no later than 7:30, which in turn meant waking up at oh-dark-hundred (for me) in order to get ready - all of which was accomplished, and there I was, at the right time and the right place, waiting.

The barriers went down at the appointed time... but instead of my train one of those long endless freight trains lumbered past for what seemed like five solid minutes. And then it was through and gone and out came the announcement. Ladies and gentlemen, the Amtrak train you are all here for has been delayed out of Vancouver BC "because of wind and rain" and will be 20 minutes late.

It was closer to 9 AM that we finally got onto our train and it lumbered off southwards.

I asked the conductor what effect the late departure might have on the estimated arrival time in Portland. He said he thought they would just cut the time in Seattle layover down, and arrival in Portland would not be (greatly) affected. I figured maybe we might be half an hour late - but the Amtrak app I donwloaded on my tablet kept teling me that the estimated time of arrival in Portland was 3:15 - which was within the ballpark - right until the moment (after we had stopped for the fourth time, to let past a freight train or to allow a northbound passenger train with "A broken air hose" to limp past us in the direction from which we had just come) it read 3:34. And then 3:48. And then... gentle reader... we came to a halt just on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Bridge. And then just sat there. And sat there. And sat there. And nobody was really saying anything to us at all. And time... kept on passing.

We were literally fifteen minutes out of Portland. But we sat there. And sat there. And sat there. TWO HOURS AND THIRTY EIGHT MINUTES LATER another engine attached itself to our train (which had "broken down" as we were informed) and we were finally dragged into Portland station. Where we found out the real cause of the problem.

*The train. Had.Run.Out.Of.Gas.*

My immediate cynical response to that was, oh great, the Republicans take over the country and not even the trains can run properly the next day. SOmeone else, after I arrived at the con hotel and was plied with a glass of wine to restore my equanimity, suggested it was a good thing I hadn't decided to FLY down to Portland.

Oh, it's all very funny. In retrospect.

Turns out that someone else's truck broke down half an hour outside Portland, and Orycon's own truck broke down TWICE this weekend, so it seems that somebody somewhere had forgotten to offer the proper goat to some transportation god this year. But I fully intend to inquire if the train has its full complement of gas when it comes time for the return journey.

So, then, anyway. All that aside, I was at Orycon. Friends were everywhere. I was hailed across the hotel lobby twice by people who spied me on the other side of the hall. It is so ENERGISING, so good for one, to come to a con like this, a con where (like the proverbial bar called Cheers) everybody knows your name.

Friday morning, armed with a good solid double-shot latte, I sailed forth into con proper. This entailed, first of all, sitting in the Green Room catching up with everybody. And then, at 2PM it was time for my first panel, "Dark Fairy Tales".

I ambled across to the proper venue with another panelist, and we discovered several other people involved with the panel sitting on the floor outside the designated room, whose doors were closed, patiently waiting for our own appointed hour. But they didn't appear to have checked as to whether anything else was really going on inside that room at all - and when we finally did so a bunch of jaws dropped collectively when we discovered that the room in question contained three towering stacks of chairs. That was ALL. They hadn't been set oout in panel conformation, nor was there a panel table there, nothing of the sort. So we all just assumed that (this being a Dark Fairy Tales panel) the goblins had been there before us. Some of us set to getting the chairs into a useable conformation. Someone else was sent out in pursuit of hotel staff and a table. The table arrived; so did a snazzy elegant black tablecloth, and a gold table skirt. From a DIY panel this was turning into some style.

The panel began with audience of something like four people and quickly grew to at least a dozen or more - and then it started with an astonishing display of erudition as panelists quoted from memory long sections of various Shakespearean plays (what did it have to do with fairy tales, you might ask? why, probably not much. What of it...?) That panel being over, I had to run over to an etirely different wing of the hotel for my next panel, on dialogue. That went rather nicely (at least this room had the proper set up already in place - panel table, audience seating..) and then I had a bit of a break, and then the following panel, on the "Death of the standalone novel" (or lack thereof, as it were). Some interesting points were made here - but just before we began this nice young man came up to the front of the room and addressed me and said that I had "an enchanting way of expressing myself" on my panels (apparently he had attended another on which I had been, earlier that afternoon) and that it probably meant that I was "a great writer" - all I could do was grin in delight and say thank you very much. I always try to "give good panel". It is nice to know that it gets noticed, sometimes.

Had a nice dinner with a friend. Visited the dealer's room, bought Jay Lake's final story collection in memory of my lost friend, came meandering over again to the main lobby, got hailed once again by a bunch of people having drinks in the bar. So I joined them, had a nice chocolate Martini (you can blame the Gvernor's Club bar at the Wiscon hotel for introducing me to these and for providing the bar which all other chocmartinis had to meet in order to be considered good... this one came pretty close...) the conversation ranged from winter sports and attendant injuries to how to give a compliment to a lady without skeeving her out. A great con unwind evening. But in the end of it I found myself in the mood for solitary pursuits and not partying and so I retired to my room. (And wrote this report...)

It's now close to midnight, I'd better meander off to bed, I have a panel tomorrow morning which I am supposed to be moderating and I have to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for that. Saturday Orycon report will follow anon.

In the meantime, good night all - and it's off to sleep, perchance to dream.

Tomorrow is almost here.

Oct. 6th, 2014

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Wow, somebody stole September. But here's some neat stuff about NEW BOOKS!

Seriously. Hard to believe that an entire month has somehow vanished like a blown away leaf and I haven't posted ANYTHING here. In my defense I was hard at work finishing a novel...

Still, a couple of nice things to report - two early reviews of "Random", the first book in my new serise, have now landed. the first is here, at The Author Visits - which also has a bunch of other great stuff, such as an excerpt from Random as well as a sneak peek at the NEXT book - but "Random" is labelled a "must read" in this four-star review. Here's a quote to whet your appetite:

Random is also a story about roots, history and the philosophy, shedding light about the Were-kind, their existence and the hierarchy of a world that is perhaps more complex than that of the humans. The book examines the metaphysical nature of the Were-kind which in and of itself is unique and consuming.

Alma Alexander is a methodical story teller, peeling back the layers one by one, focusing on the big picture then slowly unveiling the details like a good mystery. Random is a complex emotional journey of a young girl looking to make sense of a sense-less event that impacts her life and that of her family’s.

The quality of the writing is stellar. Well composed and thoughtful, Alexander chooses to give Jazz a mature voice that I appreciated as an adult reader.

Go read the rest.

The second review surfaced this morning, at Angela's Library. And it's WONDERFUL (another 4-star one!) Look at this blurb-worthy snippet:

As you’ve probably figured out by now, Random isn’t just a story about shapeshifters, it’s a story about humanity. It’s about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race. This is an ambitious undertaking, but Alexander handles it with grace and skill.

(Oh, and tomorrow, on the Angela's Library site, she's going to post her interview with me - and it's a DOOZY. You should definitely go read this thing tomorrow. You can also register for a giveaway copy when you do!)

The Author Is Happy.

"Random" is due out end of the month. Currently still available for preorder here - so get the jump on it - or, alternatively, if you want to consider this as a Christmas present for a reader in your life, here's an option. I'm screening the replies to this post; if you are interested in a signed copy of "Random", leave me a comment with a contact email address and a mailing address to which you would want a book sent, toether with the name of the person to whom you might want to have the book personalised to. I will then obtain books from the source on your behalf, they will come here to me and I will sign them, and I'll put them back in an envelope and they'll be on their way to you. $22 would cover book and postage. We can discuss method of payment in email.

But this is a good book, apparently [big wacky grin]. People LIKE it. And I promise you this - #2 in the series is with the publisher as we speak, and I've just finished writing #3 - it just gets BETTER. I'm inordinately proud of this series. Some of the best work I've ever done.

Come help me celebrate!

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