Another post about GEN CON? YES!

Sunday morning at 9 o’clock as the exhibitors file into the hall. Seven more hours of con.

Booth 1841 with Games Plus. Many-colored coat, bright yellow hair. Can’t miss me. Unless I’ve wandered off.

Yes, yes, I didn’t post last night. Too busy catching up with a dear, dear friend(HI GARY! I had so much fun.  Thank you for making time for me. It was fab to crowd-watch  & sight-see & catch up!) from back in the summer camp days when piling six people into a car and driving from “outside Morgantown,”  to head into Bloomington Indiana was our weekend entertainment. Oh, Waycross-Hickory Hill. Always in my heart, you shaped my life in wonderful ways.

ANYWAY. Con notes. Just a few, because I want to get onto the exhibit floor to wander while the crowds are absent.

  • Many thanks to all of you who have been sent by mutual friends to drop by and talk to me about books ‘n stuff. And many, MANY thanks to my supportive friends. I am beyond grateful and thrilled and humbled and all that. Glitter hearts and hugs to all of you.
  • Special shout-out to the wonderful Troy Maynard, the Very Vocal Viking, who braved peak Saturday crowds to say hello. (If you haven’t read his book, you should.  WONDERFUL stuff.)
  • People are stopping for stickers and then buying books just because they think the stories sound good. How cool is that? SUPER COOL.
  • Someone who bought Rough Passages on Friday dropped by to ask a fantastic, thoughtful plot&concept-related question no one else has ever asked me. Filed under “How To Make This Author GIDDY With Book Joy.” (Yes, I answered his question. We had a lovely short convo about it.)
  • I’m going to have a proper logo. Daniel Govar, who designed my Dawnrigger Logo & dawn dragon, has it. No idea what it looks like yet, he wanted to surprise me here. So…THAT’s exciting!
  • I had dinner last night with the Games Plus crew and it was delicious. Mount Yummy was demolished, drinks and food and stories shared. (key points: dry humor, phrasing, and a bit of gentle mockery.) Good times. I am privileged to be included.

That’s all. I have many photos, but my technology is not cooperating. Later. for now…


MOAR GEN CON: Friday edition

At Booth 1841 with Games Plus. All weekend. Just saying.

It’s 11 PM on Gen Con Friday. Today was equally epic to yesterday in similar ways. My feet hate me. I am dead-dog tired. The con is still going strong. I’ll post some pics at the bottom of the post. ALL the gaming goes on until 2AM. And gaming is welcomed in almost every imaginable spot in the convention center and most of the hotels. SO. COOL.

Today’s things of note:

  • The people in the booth next to Games Plus are demo’ing and selling a neat game called Era of the Ninja. I got to chatting, As One Does, and it turns out one of them works in a library in Ohio & likes SF & fantasy, go figure. We talked libraries, and books, and she now has a copy of Rough Passages to take back to her library. So maybe soon people in Ohio will be checking out my book.  That would be sweet!
  • I played hooky all morning with my Minneapolis friends & generation-next, tackling my third True Dungeon. Our party reigned victorious, although my elf wizard did not survive the final encounter. Next time, someone needs to be a cleric. When the druid is the only healer and everyone is being zapped & poisoned left & right…yeah.
  • But hey. I boosted the team’s initiative to beat the Big Bad to the first punch, AND I bumped up the ranger’s fighting ability before I expired. We rocked the teamwork part. ANYway. The event was fun and it was truly a joy to hang with  good friends I feel instantly comfortable around despite a gap of nearly 10 years…but that isn’t even the big news.
  • The BIG news is: a book sold while I wasn’t even at the booth. How ’bout THEM apples, eh, world?  Now if you’re wondering, “Is one whole book sale that exciting?” The answer is, “HELLS YEAH IT IS.” It can’t be a pity sale if I’m not even there, see? I did more sales today than I expected again, and am now sold out of the title I didn’t bring many of because I didn’t expect it would sell, based on past cons.
  • I continued to practice good people-engagement and passed out stickers & bookmarks and bitty-little biz cards all day. My smile muscles are so tired.
  • Note to self for the next generation of bling: get the website name onto the stickers somehow, and do author-branded bookmarks rather than book-focused ones. Maybe bookmarks to match the banner styling. Also 2 banners, with the full text.

I’m sure there’s more, but I’m wiped and want to wind down with a little more reading in Freelance Familiars before bed.  Here are the pics I promised.

Two whole days yet to go. I’m gonna be soooooo tired by the end of this. But so happy. That’s my prediction right there.


Gen Con things I want to remember #2: happy times at Booth 1841

1. Reunions and meet-ups are two of my favorite con activities. I got to do lots of both today! Color me with all the happy colors.

  • I got to meet someone I’d only known from online interaction, which is a thing I love doing and we had a fantastic chat. Then a wonderful friend from my Borders days (HI TOM!!!) dropped by and that was beyond fabulous too. To top off the fun cake,  a friend of another wonderful friend from Borders (Hi, Nicole!)  came by to deliver greetings and grab books.
  • Daniel Govar, the artist who’s done many fine character commissions for me, and who designed my incredible Dawnrigger logo, is here for his first Gen Con, so I visited the “Art Show” to say hello. I’m going to have a real colophon logo for my books soon. HAPPY SQUEE!
  • Turns out the fantastic professional editor I hired to do Sharp Edge of Yesterday who I’ve been conversing with by email is here at the con, so today I GOT TO MEET HIM IN PERSON. So cool. He’s as awesome in person as he has been by email, and I was able to have a simple conversation about process details that would have taken me hours to get composed properly into text form.
    And in that “this world is so small, wow” moments, I learned today that one of my friends from the game store (HI RETT) knows my editor (HI JOHN) from another professional venue.
  • I got to have a delicious dinner and long, enjoyable evening chatting with my Ghost Town writing parter (HI BILL) and with an author I met at WorldCon a couple of years back but hadn’t seen since (HI MISTY!)
  • Friday AM the re-connection with continue. I’m going True Dungeon adventuring with some of the gaming friends responsible for setting my feet on the path to writing my first novel. After that gaming fun, I’ll head over to the vendor floor for the day.

2. Connecting with people brand-new to me is another exciting part of con-going for me, and Gen Con has provided plenty of that too.

  • I admired someone’s phenomenal hat of pins and provided her with a sticker, and that led to a great convo about life, the universee, sexuality, contemporary fantasy. I got to recommend books by authors I know (HI HANS & LAUREN) and got some recommendations in return.
  • I got asked questions about writing process by another writer, and that conversation was a lot of fun, plus I got to share my love of Habitica as an emotional-load-lifter. Good times indeed.

3. My fancy new book display saw a lot of traffic today. A goodly number of bookmarks went into people’s bags, and I made some people happy with my freebie Unity stickers. I guess the message “Love is Positive” is one folks like to see.

  • Thanks to various visits full of kindness, my baseless fears of selling zero books all weekend have been washed away. Onward to the greater challenge of “Can I sell enough that I can empty one of my storage boxes?”
  • I forgot to take pictures with anyone. But I DID remember to get emails for sending ebook editions to go with the con sales, so…progress?

4. Other random things I want to remember thinking about.

  • There were some nice costumes, but not a lot, at least not on the exhibitor floor. I didn’t get any pics of those either. Maybe tomorrow.
  • And I was too busy soaking in all the changes and new things to post anything to social media. Maybe next time when I’m not SQUIRRELing at everything. Maybe.
  • This was a lot for one day & tomorrow might be even more action-packed.

Good times indeed.



I’ve been at Gen Con 2018 for a few hours now, so here is a list of random notes from the day.

  1. First things first: where I am. Booth 1841. with the fab crew from Games Plus.

    I have books for sale– and these will be the best prices all year, because I’M AT GEN CON AGAIN!  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. GenCon is one of very few cons where I can offer sale prices below what I charge online, as opposed to charging more because autographed copies and overhead and so on.

    If you have ever wanted to buy my paperbacks, this is the time to take advantage.

  2. I also have free stickers to give away. Who doesn’t love a free sticker? They’re book-related stickers, even. I wrote a whole short story about the meaning of these stickers. You can read that story if you sign up for new release emails. Otherwise they’re just cool stickers, and that’s okay too.
  3. My daffodil-yellow bleached hair quite possibly stands out more here than if it was its usual blue or purple. I’ve seen some amazing multicolored dye jobs and one beyond-brilliant fuschia. Blue for the next con, I think. And for the fall, we’ll see.
  4. Navigation WINS so far: I have located the quiet room for the con, tracked down a convenience store for the acquisition of backup milk & snax, and explored the hotel exit stairwells.
  5. This hotel has a stair FAIL: none of the exit stairs go to the public floors without sounding an alarm, very disappointing, as I would rather walk up & down than wait for an elevator. Ah, well, I shall persevere.
  6. Packing win: I remembered all my books & bling. FREE STICKERS TO ANYONE WHO VISITS!
  7. Packing fail: I left my floofy hat and sparkly earrings right where I’d put them so I wouldn’t forget them. Yes, laugh. Go ahead. I have now added those items to my last-check packing list, right along with WALLET and KEYS. (Yes, I have in the past forgotten both those things. Never at the same time, for what that’s worth.)
  8. Booth is all set up for the morning. Lots of games and miniatures and modules and all kinds of cool stuff. VERY EXCITING. Games Plus has built up a nice presence here over the years. I remember the days when three staff would try to fit in a single booth, and now we have  a three-table length one. With squishy anti-fatigue flooring, even.
  9. It’s been so long since I was last at Gen Con, I’d forgotten how sweltering hot and muggy the Exhibitor Hall would get during set-up. I went through nearly a gallon of water over the course of the afternoon, and I wasn’t even doing much of the lifting work.
  10. Why wasn’t I lifting much? I am under strict orders from Spouseman to be kind to my right elbow & wrist, which are currently misbehaving enough that I’m keeping compression sleeve on both.
  11.  I’m only writing this line because I had to go to 11. It’s one better than 10.

Okay, last couple of musings:

  • I will try to post pics to Instagram and/or Facebook over the course of the next few days, but I’m lousy at multi-tasking and usually forget something was picture worthy until the moment is over.
  • I’m not actually expecting to sell much. It would be hubris to think I would. I’m not listed in the program or in the Author Alley or involved in panels… but I can hope, right? I am hopeful. And they’re good books. So.
  • Maybe I’ll even get in some gaming!!!!

Onward to the fun.





Summer Reading & viewing, etc. Lots of etc.

First, a list of non-media activities.

  • I’m collecting subscribers for my new-release emails. (you can be one, click on the big “click here” button somewhere on this post) and I wrote a whole new story about Jack Coby as a teenager to lure people in.
  • All my books are moving into wide distribution off Amazon-exclusivity, and if your your library gets ebooks through Cloudlibrary or Overdrive, you can ask them to get my books for you that way now.
  • I’ll have a boxset edition of the Restoration ebooks soon. Just needs a cover image.
  • Sharp Edge of Yesterday: A Rough Passages Novel should be back from the editor any day now, and its cover is almost done too.
  • My new ghost mystery work-in-progress is over a third of the way finished.
  • Went on a cherry-picking day trip to Michigan & had a blast. 22 lbs of tart cherries, 5 lbs of sweet. and a major tendonitis flare-up afterwards.
  • I survived being a featured reader at Gumbo Fiction Salon and have the mermaid necklace to prove it.
  • The yard is in happy jungle mode, and the first veggies have been harvested.
  • The butterfly-garden summer volunteer gig is in full swing, and  I can’t believe it’s year 7…wow.
  • I’m spending much less time online and getting more things done in real life.

…things like watching TV & reading. Books first, then TV, then movies.

All the Confederation Universe books, Tanya Huff. I was writing about Jack Coby and got a free Confederation book from the Nebulas conference, and that was justification enough to re-read all of Ms. Huff’s Condeferation books. I adore her writing, and this universe feeds my love of Space Marines and fabulous space opera world-building.

If you want to see the result of my writing efforts, sign up for the new-release emails. It’s an exclusive subscriber story.

The Werewolf of Marines trilogy, Jonathan P. Brazee: Rollicking good men-at-war military paranormal popcorn reading.  I’ll reward myself with the Space Marines series …after I finish Ghost Tome

Neogenesis & select re-reads of other Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.
Because I finished TWO short stories and sent a book off to an editor, I rewarded myself by catching up on the  Liaden releases from the last little while. *HAPPY SIGH*

Instinct season 1: Basic buddy-cop drama, with the obligatory “not-a-cop sidekick” twist that allows for lots of rule-bending. BUT. The characters are complex, the plots are off-the-wall entertaining, and the acting is excellent. Bonus points for the character and his husband being portrayed as a couple with believable couples issues and dialogue.

Luke Cage Season 2: The plot took a turn to the grimdark side, which isn’t to my taste, but the situations supported that bleakness a LOT better than most lure-of-the-dark-side stories. And they didn’t trash the character’s development the way Certain Other Series did. (Looking at you, Jessica Jones, with your sexist WTFuckery) Hoping for some gritty, difficult redemption arcs next season.

Red Sparrow: IMHO this movie wanted to be Atomic Blonde crossed with Alias by way of La Femme Nikita. Spoiler alert: fail on all fronts. Some fine performances, but the slow pace, murky character motivations and reliance on absurd complications…big nope.

Wrinkle In Time: It could have been great. It was okay. I loved the lush visuals. I adored the Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsis & Mrs. Who. Great casting on the kids. Meg & Charles Wallace were very much how I pictured them in my head. Sadly, the directing just felt clunky and telegraphed, which did the dialogue no favors. I could also wish they’d stuck closer to the original plot–far too much screen time on fleshing out backstory that didn’t need fleshing &

Greatest Showman: Wellllllllll, I loved it, but hey, it’s Hugh Jackman singing and dancing, so cut me some slack. It’s a fantasy about a world that isn’t this one, about someone who isn’t the real P. T. Barnum–it’s about a charming and socially-conscious rebel, not a manipulative money-grubbing status-climber. Yeah. Singing. Dancing. Uplifting as fantasy.

Game Night: I can see why it was popular, but it was not my cup of whiskey. The plot is a mess of cliches and sends a slew of awful messages (not least of which is “lying to people and humiliating them is hilarious”)

I Kill Giants: It was…good, I guess? Gorgeous film, sweet and simple. I was not the target market. The general plot & likely resolution were obvs within 10 minutes.  The protagonist was about 5 years too old for the way she was handled by adults in the film. (Retreat into fantasy is natural for grieving kids. The protag is in her teens and no one even mentions

The Quiet Place: as long as the premise is accepted, it’s a decent post-apocalypse horror flick. (plot holes include farm fields somehow planted silently after civilization’s collapse  due to noise-targeting monster aliens and people who can’t manage non-baby sex iwhen obstetric care and/or A CRYING BABY will likely be fatal. Seriously? The sex menu is huge, people. Plenty of ways to have max fun without baby-making.)

Anyway. I can’t accept the premise because it’s so damned stupid. ANYTHING THAT HUNTS BY SOUND CAN BE BLINDED/CRIPPLED BY SOUND. The strategy isn’t complicated or secret. The organized military could’ve created safe zones inside noise-protected “blind spots” with layered perimeter defenses and created traps to eradicate the monsters the same way.

But then there wouldn’t be a movie about brave sacrifice blahblahblah….harumph.

Westworld Season 1: this series was disturbing for many reasons that I don’t think occurred to its writers. It’s brilliant in potential, and I will keep watching it because it’s kinda like watching a beautifully filmed car crash, but wow. It’s a pretentious mess of unexamined racism, misogyny & truly muddy pseudo-existentialist nonsense.  Conflict arises from some questionable philosophies, and the story spent a lot of time building to a “huge surprise reveal” that disappointed me in all possible ways.

The show is so, SO pretty, though.

Logan Lucky: total miss. Did not finish. (Do you know how boring+annoying something has to be for me to turn it off? I WATCHED ALL 4 SHARKNADO MOVIES ON PURPOSE.) I do not know how this got made. The script must have looked good to someone.

Victoria & Abdul: an unexpected delight based on a true story that turns out to be actually true or at least true-ish. Wow.

That’s a wrap. I’ll try not to keep updates closer together and shorter, but no promises.  I have Gen Con in two weeks (AAAAAHHHHHHHH KERMIT FLAILING AAAAAHHHHH) and a lot to do with edits and prep for Dragon Con after Gen COn, and writing and reading a bunch of books on my TBR list…and so on. Life is busy.

Until later!

Making things real

I added a fictional battalion to the United States Marine Corps when I built the world for Rough Passages.

Here’s the thing about military units: they have insignia. That reality gave me a great excuse to look at unit badges and design one for the valiant second-career rollover Marines in Mercury Battalion.

I also built a Table of Organization for the Battalion, named all the companies and planted them all over the United States in proximity to the bases that support them, but that’s trivia for another post.

Here’s my take on Mercury Battalion’s Unit Badge. I swear I posted about this before now, but all I could find was a Facebook post. And those don’t count. So, Here:

Mercury Battalion insignia 4 (1)

For those interested in details:

Mercury Battalion was formed out of the 4th Marine Division in 1944, a few months after the 4th Division was pulled into emergency service after First Night.

Initially tasked only with protection of the civilian population, the 4th Division’s mission objective quickly expanded to include drafting and training hazardous rollover civilians as Marines themselves–in part as as an alternative to mass permanent incarcerations, and in part because the adage “fight fire with fire” had literal and practical application.

Over time Mercury Battalion has become the default post-rollover duty assignment for citizens whose powers are too deadly, too destructive, or too sensitive to be handled by the Department of Public Safety.

And why bother with an origin story I don’t intend to expand? Because being me, I had to come know which Division’s colors and symbols would best suit my creation.

I’m picky that way. I used units in both the 4th and 5th division as my main inspirations. If anyone is wondering.

And now to bore everyone with pictures…

Have a few glimpses of my Adventure Thursday last week.  It’s an odd collection. Things I deem picture-worthy sometimes don’t make sense to others. There are captions.

Also I didn’t take any pics during dinner or Gumbo Fiction Salon because my hands were shaky & sweaty, plus I was mildly freaking out. Galway Arms has excellent food (I had a delightful cheese & chutney plate and also sampled a scrumptious smoked salmon appetizer) and the readings were phenomenal.

You’ll have to take my word for it.

Why I took Public Transit
A shot of traffic on I-90 from Jefferson Park Transit Center, where I transferred from Metra to CTA. Drive time was 1 hr 12 min in that jam all the way. My stress-free trip: 1:37 incl. a nice walk.
Lincoln Park sign
I arrived early enough to do plenty of exploring.A lovely walk at the end of the road.
Turtle, hiding.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is FREE on Thursdays to Illinois residents. This shy turtle lives at the indoor butterfly exhibit, in a water feature.
Atlas Moth
This Atlas moth is as big across as my two hands. He was snoozing right at ankle level.
Finch! I wish we could have birds in our butterfly exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden.
Moar Finch
Two more finches munching on millet seeds.
Note to self: go here someday soon. Say, this summer, when it’s warmer. 
Museum from the outside. Probably more scenic when there’s foliage.
City nature. “Urbs in Horto” indeed.


This tree is made of optimism. Pretty yellow flowers of hope. 

I hope you enjoyed this vicarious afternoon with me.