ksmith: (coffee cup)
Everything has imported from LJ according to DW, so I am here now. I won't be crossposting over there, and am working up the nerve to delete what's left behind. Feels strange, because I was there for so long.

An unseasonably warm weekend--high 60s yesterday and 70s today. Grass is greening fast. I spread the corn gluten fertilizer/weed suppressant yesterday, and am hoping that I see some improvement in the creeping Charlie control in the backyard. It's going to take a few years to hit the 80% control level that organic stuff usually reaches, but this is Year 2 and so I am hoping.

First daffodils opened today. They'll pick up as the crocuses wind down. It's supposed to drop back to the 50s for a few days, but I don't really mind. As long as the trend is up.

Success!

Apr. 8th, 2017 09:14 am
ksmith: (coffee cup)
According to DW, it's all been ported over from LJ--posts, comments, the woiks.

Kinda nice to be back in this format again. Wondering if the demise of SFFNet was a trigger, though likely not to the same extent as the new LJ TOS?

We seem to need a place off the beaten--Twitter/FB/etc--path.
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Given how many folks are migrating over from LiveJournal, things may finally pick up in my little corner of DW.
ksmith: (Default)

I like having music play while I’m writing, but I usually stick with instrumental/ambient because I find the words too distracting. I like classical, particularly music of the Baroque. When it comes to ambient, Timothy Wenzel and Brian Eno are favorites. Takashi Suzuki. 2002.

But sometimes a song with lyrics triggers something with respect to the story I’m working on. A scene. A feeling that reinforces a story line. And every so often, a character. I don’t go looking for these songs–like wands and wizards, the songs find the characters, and not every character gets a song. In my Jani Kilian series, no particular song found Jani. Each of the men in her life, however, had one find them.

Lucien Pascal, my engineered sociopath-assassin–has had a lot of darkness in his life. Some of it, he brought down on himself. But too many things were done to him at too young an age, and he alludes to them during his rare moments of self-reflection. When I hear Depeche Mode’s “Walking in My Shoes,” I think of him:

Now I’m not looking for absolution
Forgiveness for the things I do
But before you come to any conclusions
Try walking in my shoes

John Shroud, Jani’s on-again off-again lover, sees himself as a benevolent force, a benefactor. His song is “Time of the Season” by The Zombies :

What’s your name? 
Who’s your daddy? 
 Is he rich like me?

Niall Pierce is Jani’s best friend. He’s come a long way since the criminal life of his youth, but there are times when his past and present collide. His song is “Stolen Car” by Beth Orton:

You were sitting
Your fingers like fuses
Your eyes were cinnamon

Unlike the Jani books, the supernatural thrillers I wrote under the name Alex Gordon had specific theme songs. I forget when, over the course of writing Gideon, I first heard Vashti Bunyan’s The Train Song, but I remember it was used in an NFL commercial, eerie images of athletes marching into a stadium. The song inspired thoughts of a more private search, a journey that would end in confrontation:

It’s so many miles and so long since I’ve met you
Don’t even know what I’ll find when I get to you
But suddenly now, I know where I belong
It’s many hundred miles but it won’t be long

I found “Shivers,” the instrumental that served as Jericho’s theme, in a more roundabout way. A favorite show is A Chef’s Life, about Chef Vivian Howard’s life in Eastern North Carolina. The incidental music caught my attention–I hunted online, and found it had been composed by the North Carolina band Shark Quest. So off I went to iTunes, where I found their albums, played various excerpts, and found “Shivers.” It has a country feel, with the bell-ringing guitar that I love. Outdoor music. Walking in the woods music.

 

I listened to both songs over and over as I wrote. According to iTunes, I’ve listened to The Train Song almost 300 times. I only listened to “Shivers” 55 times, but I didn’t find it until Jericho was well on its way.

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Decluttering–it’s all the rage, the subject of classes, TV shows, and bestselling books. I have lost track of the number of times I pledged to once and for all dispatch all the books I will never read, clothes I will never wear, old financial records I don’t need to save anymore. The odd piece of furniture, old tools, handbags and costume jewelry and general household detritus.

But, for all I wish I could regain control of my space, I always seem to fall short of the mark. Toward the end of last year, I had made some dents, cleaning out a couple of bookcases, organizing the armoire in my bedroom, and freeing up drawer space in the spare bedroom. In the process, I found things I had forgotten I had. For instance, the half-dozen pairs of sunglasses, including a very nice pair of Smiths that have to be at least 25 years old. I bought them because hey, we have the same name. Also, the frames are purple. I love purple.

I know that one rule of thumb for this process is that if you haven’t used or worn something in the previous year or two, you should get rid of it. I can’t always agree with that. Sometimes you do lose track of things that you really liked or that went out of style and then came back in, which is my way of saying that I will be keeping the sunglasses.

That said, the one thing that has always stopped these clean-out sessions in their tracks wasn’t that I didn’t want to get rid of things after all, but  that I didn’t know how best to get rid of them. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of a garage sale, and simply tossing the stuff in the trash is wasteful and in the case of some electronics and household chemicals, ill-advised if not illegal. So I talked to friends, then poked around online, and found that I have more options than I thought. Not all of them are free, but they’re out there.

The Give Back Box is a free service that allows you to use an old Amazon shipping box or other cardboard box to send clothing or household goods to Goodwill. The US Internal Revenue Service Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property, contain guidelines for defining charitable contributions and in general how to estimate value. Goodwill has also put together guidelines for calculating the worth of donated items. In addition, this Donation Calculator references valuations from several charities (the online spreadsheet showed up in Firefox, but not in Safari). Some Habitat for Humanity websites also have guidelines for estimating the value of donations of appliances, building materials, and tools.

For me, that means spreadsheets and photographs for tax purposes. Yea, spreadsheets.

When it comes to clothing, I always forget about resale/consignment shops, which are a good option for my old office clothes and dressy coats I haven’t worn in years.

Old VCR tapes are currently one of the banes of my existence. Some resale shops may take the old movies, but I doubt they would want the scores of History Channel WWII programs that my dad recorded. Companies like GreenDisk can recycle the tapes, along with electronics such as laptops etc, though the service is not free. Local municipal agencies–in my case, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, accept all sorts of household waste, including chemical and electronic. My local OfficeMax accepted an old printer of mine for recycling, and they also give credit for returned ink cartridges if you make in-store purchases. Check the website for details.

Lots of places accept donated books. My local library. Goodwill. A number of online charities.

So, with some work, I hope to  finally, FINALLY, get rid of the junk. I will try to recycle most of the things I no longer want, and minimize the garbage destined for the landfill.

How about you? I know there are any number of recycling and donation options I’ve missed, so if you have favorites, please do post them.

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Warning: nothing but flowers ahead.

I’ve never had much luck with indoor flowering plants. Green plants, no problem–philodendrons, palms, schefflera. Anything that wasn’t all green leaves, nope.

My luck may have changed this year. All three African violets are blooming, including the one that almost died in the spring due to, I think, overwatering.

 

 

 

The violet on the far right is the one that came back from the brink. The buds look light in color–I’m wondering if they’ll be pink or even white. I was sure it was a purple flowering plant, but maybe not.

The kalanchoe is going nuts as well, and while the prayer plant has slowed down, there still appears to be one tiny flower starting to bud.

  

The prayer plant flowers are adorable, like teeny tiny orchids. Here’s a photo from back in September:

All this color in the dead of winter is enlivening.

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Looks like it will be fun. Moderating twice, which is a newish experience for me, but good in that it makes me think of topics and questions in advance:

Kristine Smith

Reading: Amal El-Mohtar, Cherie Priest, Kristine Smith

Authors read from current or forthcoming works

Saturday

1:00 PM

Saugatuck

Amal El-Mohtar, Cherie Priest, Kristine Smith

Kristine Smith

Autograph Session (5 PM)

Come meet your favorite authors, artists and musicians and have them sign things! (Please limit your signing requests to 3 items per person.)

Saturday

5:00 PM

St. Clair

Sarah Bauer, Tobias Buckell, James S.A. Corey, J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker, Brandon Draga, Max Gladstone, Joe Hill, Jim C. Hines, Emmy Jackson, Elise Kova, Merrie Haskell, Mallory O’Meara, Andrea Phillips, Diana Rowland, John Scalzi, Kristine Smith, Ferrett Steinmetz, James L. Sutter, Vanessa Ricci-Thode, Mary G. Thompson, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Gregory Wilson

Kristine Smith

What’s Your Favorite Apocalypse?

A discussion on scientific advances that might tip the world towards an apocalypse.

Saturday

7:00 PM

Keewenaw

Kristine Smith (M), Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Julie Lesnik, Anthony W. Eichenlaub

Kristine Smith

Blurring the Lines

Genre is sometimes described as little more than arbitrary marketing categories, but readers and writers often define themselves by their preferred genre. What makes a genre distinct, and what happens when those distinctions are imported into another genre? Is it just a crossover, or an illustration that the distinctions are arbitrary?

Sunday

10:00 AM

Keweenaw

Brandon Black (M), Jackie Morgan, Cherie Priest, Jason Sanford, Kristine Smith Jason Sizemore

Kristine Smith

Rail Guns, Power Armor and Killer Robots

How close are we to the military technology heralded in SciFi books? Experts will talk about what is on the horizon.

Sunday

12:00 PM

Keweenaw

Kristine Smith (M), Karen Corbeil, Tobias Buckell, Kameron Hurley

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A few years ago, while I attended my first C2E2 comics convention, I made the mistake of wandering through the dealers’ room. I was able to withstand the temptations of the cool clothing, books, and collectibles. I avoided the posters, and the original artwork.

But then I passed a leatherworks booth, and stopped. So many lovely things. I wound up buying a rustic shoulder bag in a rich cognac shade. I also bought a notebook. Whip-stitched, ruddy brown, with an ornate hook-and-eye closure and paper that appeared handmade.

leather notebookrustic paper

I’ve never written in it. Every so often, I page through it, and ponder the possibility of using it. But I fear spoiling those roughened silk-like pages with scraps of dialogue that will likely never be used, or notes that will never be formed into a story. I would want anything I wrote in that notebook to stand the test of time. I would want it to mean something.

 

Moleskine* notebooks. I know folks who buy them by the pack and use them to the exclusion of all others. Some time ago I splurged on a three-pack, which rested unopened on a bookshelf until one day I finally tore off the cellophane. I use one of the notebooks as a mileage log, but the other two remain unused. Blank. Clean.

puppy notebook Cheap notebooks, on the other hand, get filled up pretty regularly. They’re the medium that holds so many messages, the story notes, lists, doodles. Maybe it’s because they’reinexpensive, so I don’t minactual writingd filling them with words that may never go anywhere else. Maybe it’s because the pages are often removable, so that at any given time, I can tear out all the used ones, and have a clean notebook again. Another fresh start.

 

 

Still, I like to think that someday, I will grab a pen and make that first mark in one of those special notebooks. They say that you can’t enjoy a new car until it sustains that first ding or scratch. Only then does it become something that you can sit in comfortably and drive. Maybe after I write that first line or sketch that first flower, they will become like any other notebook. A tool, nicer than some, but a tool just the same.

Do you own something that you love but have never used? If so, do you think you’ll always keep it pristine, or will you finally wear it, or use it, or make that first indelible mark?

*I confess that the name puts me off. In my mind, I delete the ‘e’, which leaves me with the odd notion that the covers are made from mole pelts.

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See a penny

I don’t believe that I am particularly superstitious. On a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being “not in the least” and 100 the score of your average major league baseball player on a hot streak of wins/at-bats, I doubt I crack the low end of the scale. I don’t think twice about walking under ladders. I love black cats—years ago, one crossed my path when I was on my way to take a linear algebra exam, which I aced. Friday the 13th is just another day.

Pick it up

I’ve broken mirrors, spilled salt, and opened umbrellas indoors, all without a second thought. But there’s one superstition that has settled in several years ago, unpacked its bags, and made itself at home. When I see a penny on the ground, I pick it up. Usually.

All daylong

My only condition is that the penny has to be face-up. At one time I heard or read that if it’s tail-side up, all the luck has run out. So if it’s heads, it’s mine. Tails, and I pass it by.

I don’t know why this became my quirk. Rational Me knows that it makes no sense, that the existence and orientation of a stray zinc coin washed with copper can have no influence on my life. I understand that existence is one uncertainty after another, and the need to quell the fear that this can inspire, to seek order in a disordered world, can lead me to find meaning in meaningless events.

You’ll have good luck

From this point on, maybe I’ll start doing what some variations of the story behind the superstition describe, and turn over the pennies that are tails-side up so that someone else to have the luck. I could also dig more deeply into the history of this and other superstitions and use the information in stories.

And I will probably continue to collect pennies I find in the street. As long as they’re face-up.

If you’re curious, here’s an article with short histories of common Western superstitions, and one with more information about the penny legend.

(This post also appeared over at the BookView Café blog)

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I’m a walker. At home, I take my dog, Gaby, for long morning jaunts through the neighborhoods or nearby state park. When I travel, I try to make time to wander. I take ghost tours, which are great ways to learn the history of an area as well as local legends and scandals. I window-shop. And sometimes, I stumble upon unexpected art.

A couple of years ago, during a visit to New York, I spotted these images. I’m pretty sure I was walking through the West Village when I came upon Liberty Lou Reed. Phone Guy turned up nearer the Meatpacking District; I also spotted his brother decorating a nearby sidewalk.

Liberty LouPhone Guy

This past May, I took a research trip to Park City, Utah. Originally a mining town, it’s known now as a ski resort and the site of the Sundance Film Festival. One evening, I signed up for a ghost tour, and in addition to locations of long ago murders and mayhem, our small group also visited a few alleyways to see graffiti left by Banksy, the UK artist. These works were set off with frames and protective shielding, but according to our guide, at least one piece was painted over by folks who didn’t want graffiti on their building no matter how famous the artist.

Banksy 1Banksy 2

I don’t expect to find unexpected art close to home, so during a recent walk along a park trail, I was surprised to find these images stuck to a sign. When I got home, I searched for Smallest_Giant online, and found several sites on which folks had posted drawings and photos of images, including the very same daydreaming fox and cat that I had spotted.

daydreaming foxcat

I thought it was neat that the same images that I saw had been viewed and photographed by others, and that there are places online where these bits of whimsy can be displayed.

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I’ve felt pulled in all directions these last few weeks. I start one thing, and three others clamor for attention. So the goals for next few weeks are to settle down, focus on writing, finish dealing with the leaves, add a few more batches of soup/stew/something to the deep freeze…

…and that’s too many things to plan. I know I should focus on work and let the chores fall where they may. It’s the never-ending battle between the immediate sense of accomplishment I feel when I do something around the house and the mix of emotions related to writing: accomplishment, but also aggravation, that feeling of wandering lost in the woods because one word after the other–what’s up with that?

Meatloaf is simpler.


My reissued light fantasy stories, Continuing Education and 8 rms., full bsmt., are now available at Amazon as well as BookView Café.


Upcoming contest! From 7-14 November, you can enter for a chance to win ebooks of GIDEON and over 30 other thrillers AND a Kindle Fire. I will post the link as soon as the contest goes live.


No hard freeze yet in far NE Illinois, which means I still have flowers. The mums have faded and the hibiscus are losing their leaves. But the begonias in the planter are still plugging along despite nights in the 40s and squirrels digging holes in the soft dirt.

Autumn Begonias

Autumn Begonias

It’s nice to see shots of pink and white and leafy greenery amid all the warm shades, the yellow, orange and brown. I’m going to miss them when they’re gone.


‘Tis the season, so pumpkin spice is everywhere. I’m not a fan of the flavor in coffee and tea, but I do like pumpkin pie. So when I found a recipe for baked oatmeal with pumpkin, I decided to give it a shot. I used regular milk instead of almond milk, whole wheat flour instead of white whole wheat, added extra spices, and used pecans instead of walnuts. Imagine not-too-sweet pumpkin pie. A good way to start a chilly day. Definitely a keeper.

 

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0020-continuingeducation-smallsmithkristine-8rms-cover

 

Two light, sweet fantasy short story reprints, “Continuing Education” and “8 rms full bsmt“, are now on sale. They will be sold exclusively at Book View Café through the month of October, and are available in both epub and mobi formats. After that, they’ll go wide wherever e-shorts are sold.

 

 

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October will be a busy month for contests and sales.

  • GIDEON is one of 25 ebooks you can enter to win at the Ultimate Horror Book and Prize Giveaway. Two lucky winners will get the ebooks, while one Grand Prize winner gets all the ebooks and a collection of classic horror novels along with matching Funko Pop figures. The contest runs through October 30th, with the winner to be chosen on Halloween.
  • CODE OF CONDUCT is one of more than 35 SF ebooks one lucky person can win, along with a Kindle Fire to read them on. Contest runs until 10/10. Enter here.
  • The first four Jani Kilian novels (CODE OF CONDUCT, RULES OF CONFLICT, LAW OF SURVIVAL, CONTACT IMMINENT) are being offered as a $9.99 bundle over at Book View Café. Sale end 10/11.
  • The ebook editions of GIDEON and JERICHO are on sale at all the usual outlets. GIDEON can be had for $3.99, JERICHO for $4.99. I don’t know how long the lower prices will be in effect, so grab them now.
  • And finally, on 10/4, a couple of my light, sweet fantasy short stories go on sale at Book View Café. They will be sold there exclusively through October, after which they’ll be available at Amazon and other outlets that sell short stories.

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At the state park, ’tis the season of yellow, mostly. Asters of various types. including a ton of goldenrod. I tried to identify some of the plants , but I tend to photograph the flowers and ignore the leaves and stems, and sometimes the leaves and stems are important.

A type of rosinweed, I think.

A type of rosinweed, I think.

Most of these plants are very tall–5-6 feet or more–and bursting with blooms. I know they’re shedding pollen like mad, but they’re still pretty.

I think this is camphorweed

I think this is camphorweed

 

These little guys were growing on the beach, in the shelter of some driftwood. Pretty sure they are rough blazing star, which should grow 2-3 feet high…unless they are struggling for purchase on a stretch of rocky sand.

rough blazing star, a type of liatris

rough blazing star, a type of liatris

a close-up of one of the rough blazing stars

a close-up of one of the rough blazing stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, more asters. Could be frost asters, which sounds lovely. Or fleabane, which, not so much. They’re growing amid a tangle of grapevines, of which we have a lot around here.

frost aster or fleabane

frost aster or fleabane

 

And that’s the wildflower report for the month. Here at the old homestead, the hardy hibiscus are blooming nicely, and still attracting bees and hummingbirds.

the hummingbirds' fave hibiscus

the hummingbirds’ fave hibiscus

The bees like this one

The bees like this one

this one's winding down

this one’s winding down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The begonias are giving it a last shot–whites have been blooming for most of the summer, but the magentas and pinks struggle in the planter, which is very well-shaded. So far, a few magentas have bloomed, and one or two pinks look like they still have some life left. Fingers crossed that they have a chance to bloom before the chill sets in.

begonias

begonias

The hydrangeas in the shady sideyard are still blooming. The Annabelle stays white, while the Limelight starts whitish, then changes to pale lime. IIRC, last year’s flowers faded to pale pink, so I still have some color to look forward to.

annabelle

annabelle

limelight

limelight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hardy mums that I planted last fall are starting to open. Two bright yellows and a brick red or burnt orange–I won’t know until buds open completely. In the past, I had stuck mums in the planter, then dug them up after the frost killed them. Last year, Julie Czerneda suggested I plant them before the frost, so I did. Three of five plants survived, and look about ready to explode with flowers.

"Get thee to a mummery!"

“Get thee to a mummery!”

And that’s it for flowers for now. I’m surprised that I still have so many plants still going strong. I’m glad–I’ll miss them come the chill.

 

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I received my final schedule for Midamericon II. No reading or kaffeeklatsch, but some cool-looking panels and a SFWA signing. 

Thursday Aug 18, 2016, 12:00PM
Extreme, but Workable Societies 1 hour | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2208
Steven H Silver | Chris Phillips (Flash Fiction Online) | Ms Kristine Smith | Mr. Jared Shurin | Nina Niskanen

2:00PM
Genre Shows You Should Be Watching But Probably Aren’t 1 hour | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2207 , Priscilla Olson | Max Gladstone | Ginjer Buchanan | Don Sakers | Ms Kristine Smith

Saturday Aug 20, 2016, 5:00PM
Science Fiction That Inspired Scientists 1 hour | 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2206
Ms Kristine Smith | Dr. Ronald Taylor | Dr Dominick D’Aunno | Dr Helen Pennington | Mel. White

Sunday Aug 21, 2016, 10:00AM
SFWA Autographing: Kristine Smith 50 minutes | 10:00 AM -10:50 AM, Kansas City Convention Center, SFWA Table

3:00PM
A.K.A Why a Pen Name? 1 hour | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 3501H
Toni L. P. Kelner | Ms Kristine Smith | Teddy Harvia

Also, BookView Café will have a Creators Table in the Dealers Room on Saturday. Stop by and pick up a ribbon for your badge (while supplies last) and learn about some great books (we will always have those).

Less than two weeks to go….

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I like basil. I don’t love it–I don’t find it as versatile as thyme or tarragon, frex. But I enjoy the scent of it on my hands, and it’s wonderful when tossed with olive oil and warm tortellini. I haven’t grown it these last few years, though, because the plants always seem to bolt on me. Lotsa flowers, which are edible if a little bitter. Fewer leaves.

When I was in Madison for Wiscon, I visited the Saturday morning Farmers Market with Jen Stevenson, and wound up buying a small flat of mixed basils, opal and a curly green variety I’d never seen before. At the time, I didn’t know why I was bothering even as I forked over the cash. I think part of me just likes growing things I can cook with. Anyway, two months on, the plants are going great guns, thick with fragrant leaves and not a flower to be seen:

Curly and opal basil

 

For whatever reason, I examined the plants again this morning. Picked a few browned leaves, then looked behind one of the big opals, and found this little guy:

 

Little Basil

 

The curly green plants are shorter than the opals, but this plant is definitely lagging behind. Little Basil. I turned the pot around to allow him to get more sun. I don’t think he can catch up to the other plants, but who knows?

Hello, my name is Kristine, and I feel sorry for plants.

(I also just went outside and rubbed my hands over the basil leaves and oh man do they smell good. A sharp cinnamon edge.)

As for the container Black Cherry, nothing is even close to edible. 9-10 bunches of greenies at various stages, and a number of flowers. I picked a ripe loner last week, and that’s going to have to do for a while. Could be well into August before anything is ready to eat.

Black Cherry greenies

 

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–until next year, maybe. I don’t have all my 2017 cons sorted out yet, and I do not want to travel as much next year as I did/will this year. But I had a good time and I love NYC, so I don’t know….

Last week at this time, I was home, unpacking and making a list of needed groceries. It felt good to be back in my space, with everything I needed to get through the day close at hand, but it was good to get away. I love staying at The Jane. It’s located on Jane Street–duh–in a residential area of the West Village. You leave the hotel and run into folks walking their dogs or pushing strollers. No Midtown-Times Square crowds and craziness. It’s a neighborhood:

IMG_0457West Village/Chelsea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants once you head out to Washington Street, 8th Avenue. And it is on 11th Avenue, which can get busy. But if you cross that, you’re in the Hudson River Greenway. Then there’s the river, and the view (this from one of the terraces at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is a few minutes’ walk away:

view of Hudson River & NJ from the Whitney

I like it.

 

 

 

 

I also like Gitane’s, the restaurant off the hotel lobby. Sazeracs are on the menu, and they have an alligator:

A really good sazeracGitane's alligator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did not manage to do all the things I wanted to do. Only managed two museums, the Whitney and the 1st floor of the Met–it was too hot and humid to wander, and I didn’t want to wear myself out before the convention. I never made it to the Campbell Apartments for a sazerac, but since I was able to get a good one at the Jane, I wasn’t too disappointed. I did snag a ticket for a fireworks river cruise on the 4th. I took too many videos, and some of the lighting isn’t the best. I also can’t upload any of them because there’s an 8MB limit for video files, so, imagine fireworks. Shopping was confined to a couple of quick runs through the Chelsea Market, and the Met gift shop. Oh, and the FBI gift shop, where I got the best t-shirt ever:

ZTF shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FBI workshop was great–very informative, with presentations about past cases and Q&A sessions. Thrillerfest was fun. I missed some of the events since I didn’t stay at the con hotel, but my panel went well–I wore my ZTF t-shirt:

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest

 

Heather Graham moderated. From right to left: Me, Kelley Armstrong, Christine Feehan, Mell Corcoran, and Alexandra Ivy. We talked about what scares us, what books or movies inspired us, and whether we had ever had any paranormal experiences. I pushed The Dark Descent, a collection of horror stories that imo every horror fan should have in their library. Also mentioned my love of Constantine the movie. Sorry, purists–I know how you feel, but I don’t have anything invested in the comic, so.

 

 

After my panel, which was on Friday morning, I attended panels, and signed some books. Met some great folks–shout outs to Mell Corcoran, Veronica Forand, and Kate Kessler! Made quick passes through parties.

In closing, the 81st Street/Museum of Natural History subway stop is the best:

81st St. subway squawki was herethe bats are big down here

 

 

 

 

Hummer

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Doldrums

Jun. 15th, 2016 04:49 pm
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Two and a half weeks until Thrillerfest, which means not really the doldrums. More like, I should be thinking about what to pack but I can’t face it yet. I have a lot to work to do between now and then, so instead I’m dicking around online in search of bars in NYC that make sazeracs. Taking recs for food trucks and restaurants.

I get a year older during the visit. Born on the 4th, me. Looking forward to an NYC fireworks display. Also, walking the High Line, the Hudson Riverwalk. Puttering. I love New York. I really do.

And then there’s the con itself. I have a cool panel on Friday morning at 1020am:

WEREWOLVES, VAMPIRES OR WITCHES? Thrillers On The Wild Side
Panel Master: Heather Graham
Kelley Armstrong
Mell Corcoran
Christine Feehan
Alex Gordon
Donna Grant
Alexandra Ivy

Then I get to go to panels, sign some books, talk to folks, fangirl, etc etc. Hoping for decent weather.

Reading–I am ashamed to admit that I don’t read as much as I used to. I mean, I read a lot online–news and political blogs. Science articles. But as for fiction…I must have well over 200 books in my electronic TBR stack (we won’t even talk about the jammed bookcases). I finished Robin McKinley’s SUNSHINE a few weeks ago, and loved it. Wanted to start something else, but I have research to do and that means nonfiction. That current book is THE EPIGENETICS REVOLUTION by Nessa Carey, and I should be way further along than I am.

I feel…guilty. Writers should read. It’s a major tool in the kit. It’s the primary way to learn what’s out there.

Also, it’s fun.

I have some beta-reads on tap, so I can rebuild the reading muscles that way. Then there are some golden oldies: MR James, Terry Pratchett, Preston & Child. Honestly, if someone stranded me on a desert island with my iPad and a solar charger, I’d be fine for at least a year. Two, possibly.

Oh well, back to something resembling work.

Mirrored from .

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Since it’s Shoot the Moon Sunday–new holiday I just made up–I will mention that GIDEON by Alex Gordon is eligible for consideration for the 2016 World Fantasy Award ballot.

This is the first time I have ever mentioned that a work of mine was eligible for consideration. It likely won’t be the last, either, so.

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May. 31st, 2016 08:38 pm
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Two trips in one week is a little much. Not that Park City wasn’t interesting, and Wiscon is always good.

But it will be good to stay put for a while.

Panels went well. Learned some things during Bowie’s Influence on SF, because that’s what happens when you stop following an artist for a stretch of time (I didn’t listen to much Bowie in the late 80s/90s). I also learned some stuff during the Writing Tools panel, which was moderated by K. Tempest Bradford. Smartpens with both audio and sensory (ability to ‘record’ handwriting strokes) capabilities–I knew vaguely that they existed, but didn’t realize how far the tech had come. That said, the love of fountain pens remains strong across age groups, and they’re not all expensive Mont Blancs and Watermans. Disposables are available. Antique stores are a good source. There is also a brand called Platinum Preppy which makes pens priced at $4-$5.

Tempest recorded the panel for a future podcast. I will link to it when it becomes available.

One of the best parts of Wiscon is Madison itself. The weather cooperated–there was a little rain, but not enough to impede restaurant crawls or interfere with the Farmers Market. I decided to brave container gardening this year, and bought a black cherry tomato plant and some mixed basils. Also bread, cheeses, spring spinach, and something called wasabi arugula which is DAMN. Bitey. Very bitey. Had some for dinner with goat cheese, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Good stuff.

A few photos. The view from my hotel room window:

Hotel room view

 

 

 

 

 

 

The double rainbow following a Sunday afternoon storm:

Double rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset over Lake Mendota:

Sunset over the lake

 

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