FandomFest: My People!

FandomFest pictures!

As promised, here are a few pics from the festivities. I had not one but two cosplayers who brought Saavin Roark (from Banshee) to life. It was a little bit surreal. Both Jessica and Abby were— well, they made me wonder. Was it just me, or was I a complete idiot when I was a teenager? These two young women were knowledgeable, dedicated, and far more professional than I could have been at that age. To sum up, it was amazing. 

Here’s Jessica on day one: 

She even made that cool Whisperskin armor. Amazing. Then, on day two, Abby took over:

I learned a great deal about cosplay. It’s fascinating, and the character of Saavin will continue to evolve as time goes on. Also, let’s face it: if I could wear Whisperskin dragon combat armor to a restaurant, I would. It’s just cool.

Without further ado, a few more cosplayers:


Armed. Deadly. Purple.

The creativity– not to mention sewing skills– is remarkable.

Dangerously close to being haute couture. 

There was a sort of unbridled joy at the whole thing. I like that. You could see it in the faces of the people milling around, having a blast. These sisters, Serena and Lydia, sum that up in the way that they wandered around making friends and causing general shenanigans.

Heeeyyyyyy! Ocarina!

There were also vampire teeth, contacts, and other body mods that gave certain cosplayers an otherworldy air:

Why no officer, I haven’t been drinking. Alcohol, that is.

All in all, it was a one-of-a-kind weekend. I’ll be going back. I met a ton of new readers, learned about new books/comics/films, and discovered the wonder of Cons as a sort of social construct.

Books news: Halfway Dead is now on audio! (Erin is so good. She makes me sound like a Sooper Genius). Get it here: Come for the waffles. Stay for the magic. Halfway Dead.


Penned Con: Post Mortem

St. Louis. The heart of America. My kind of people.

PennedCon was organized like an invasion, if that invasion featured lots of book swag and hilarity. In downtown St. Louis, there were lovely, iconic vistas.

The city was great, the hotel, nice and roomy. The event? Packed. We’re only missing a few things. That would be writers and readers. Fortunately, there were plenty of both. Several writers (who are new friends FOR LIFE) treated me to their real personalities. You know, the side of someone that allows them to cheerfully write a scene in which someone gets sort of, uh, murdered. And eaten. Or something. 
Case in point: M. Stratton. By all reports, a delightful mother of sixteen children in Central Arizona, she lives on a compound that was manufactured by the Anasazi people during their last big push to topple the Aztecs. I’m told her home was intended to be one of the first time shares, but the arrival of the Spaniards sort of killed that off. Here she is posing with me. Isn’t she nice?

But then the gloves came off. She unleashed her– well, all of her. As well as unleashing author Evelyne Stone, who has lovely bone structure and a penchant for murder. And funny faces. And other crimes. Under the phrasing, “Fork you!”, allow me to introduce the other side of these, ahh, fine women.

So, that’s sort of what we’re dealing with. And I found it wonderful.

Two authors who have been personally kind to me were there, and I’d like to thank them- Aleatha Rommig and Denise Grover Swank. They’ve both dispensed excellent advice to me over the past two years. So, thanks.

The fans were amazing. There’s something special about being among book people. They think like I do about just how much books mean to them. It’s a club born of a passion that is wholly internal, and it permeated the room during our signing. Here’s Kris Pittman, who worked hard to take care of the authors all weekend. She was one of many people (her partner in crime Mary Beth another ) who made the days fly by in a blur of books and fun. Take note of how slender I look in my tasteful aqua shirt. Don’t act like it doesn’t impress you that I can own that color.

I gave away some jewelry. A fan named Joy won. She was great. We took three pictures, two of which involved her having both eyes open. Due to current existing law, I won’t post the one that is less flattering, but here is a nice shot of her with her loot:

Feel the excitement. Indeed. 

Moving on.

I had the pleasure of meeting and defeating author T.K. Carter in single, unlimited combat. Our dispute arose over a minor fact about the Thirty Year War– I disagree with her assessment of the Holy Roman Empire– and the only logical thing to do was duke it out in the ballroom, chairs moved aside. There were no rules.

And no mercy.

Here we are during happier times:

Sadly, TK suffered a pulled muscle in her Froslingothpercus (It’s Latin, trust me) and will be unable to refute my claim of victory for some time. Godspeed, warrior. You acquitted yourself well, but my Five Finger Death Punch was simply too lethal.

So, I gained a ton of new friends, new readers, and had the best possible time I could while still wearing pants.
To my table partner MC Cerny: Thank you for tolerating me. That is all. Because classy.


More to come soon! Thanks, PennedCon. I’ll be back.



I Demand Steak: St. Louis, Here I Come!

Penned Con. This Weekend. St. Louis.

It’s so American it makes my heart sing. About one hundred writers will descend on the Gateway City to sign books, mingle with readers, and cause some mild shenanigans.

Here’s the link:Penned Con 2015

In addition to signing books, I have a short list of things to achieve while in town:

1) Eat steak.

2) Watch the Braves kick the tar out of the Cardinals (via my phone, of course).

3) Repeat step one.

4) Nap. After signing.

5) Take pictures with friends, share pictures on social media, and then remark on how round my head looks with a fresh haircut.

6) Cake.

I’ll be giving away some of the cool jewelry that Kelli Clark Brown made for my Halfway Dead series. 

That’s about it. If you’re from St. Louis, and you have something I shouldn’t miss– I’m all ears.


LibertyCon: Post Mortem

Take several hundred science fiction fans. Season with pancakes and booze. 

And wait.

LibertyCon superseded all of my expectations. I made several (doubtless) lifelong friends, met some incredibly talented people, and collected books and art that are now firmly established in my pantheon of Favorite Things. Unlike Oprah, my faves are affordable, nerdy, and probably will add something to my post-apocalyptic skill set.

Set in lovely Chattanooga, Tennessee, LibertyCon was held at the “Choo-Choo”. It’s a landmark hotel. You can tell because of the restroom:

That’s fancy.

So, had a few hours out in Author Alley. That was great. As it turns out, everyone there likes books the same way I do: like oxygen.

But this event was about artists and writers. Some specific wonders I discovered included:

A pirate death coin by Fritz Ling (Pirates? Doom? I accept)

And then my Magnum Opus Find: Martin Powell and his bride Leia Barrett Durham Powell. Lemme tell ya, Martin and I share a LOT in common. 

1) Dinosaurs
2) A passion for megafauna
3) The desire to own a Baluchitherium
4) Edgar Rice Burroughs
5) Other stuff

For your education, here is a Baluchitherium, not to be confused with a Titanothere or Indricothere, both of which we also appreciate:

Don’t act like you aren’t impressed. We also share a love of the same book from the 1930s.

His bride, Leia makes incredible stained glass art. She gave me a pteradactyl, and now she calls me Pterry.  The Pterrydactyl will now be my Official Vehicle Mascot henceforth.


This was another part of the scene. To a nerd, this looks a lot like heaven:

But the event was not without hidden stress. For example, one sadistic individual unleashed these terrifying dolls on the general populace. Not since The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has the world seen such crimes against nature:

Yeah, I’ve officially stopped breeding. And sleeping. And walking past places where there might be infants. Or dolls. Or anything wearing a onesie.

So that’s it for now. I’m still processing just how wonderful everyone was to a first time nobody from Someplace Else.

I’ve already made my reservation for next year. 

Seriously, with a chandelier like that in the bathroom, don’t tell me you wouldn’t as well.

The new series is out, by the way. 

Did you get yours?Waffles, Witches, and Wonder. Halfway Dead.

Until next time!



Old Books, Dinosaurs, and Being Terrible At Math

I didn’t bother to look it up. What qualifies as Antique?

I know I’m getting perilously close to being old because the books I read as a kid are now valuable. My school lunchbox is probably worth a hundred bucks, easily, and that’s assuming I don’t clean out the fossilized peanut butter residue. The difference between old books and antiques is that I read my books and enjoy them. I don’t gaze at them, dust them, or forget about them as a relic of a bygone era. And I may be strange for saying this, but old books just smell good.

My Bookshelf:
From the age of four, my bookshelf centered on the following topics:
1. Dinosaurs
2. Rockets
3. Volcanoes
4. Dragons
5. Monsters
6. Fossils
7. Any combination of the above, but in space.
I present exhibit one, a 1956 volume that is now so out of date is exists only as a relic. Sort of the way I will be someday, but with less complaining about the temperature of my soup. 

Let’s take a look inside this beauty.

Gorgeous. I love everything about this book. From the tales of hunting fossils in the Gobi Desert to Montana, it’s amazing.
I also learned that my love for reading had some serious effects on my life. Case in point: while other students were actually doing math, I was busy writing stories about aliens that came up from secret tunnels in the bottom of farm ponds which naturally connected to another dimension and oh by the way, they look a lot like snapping turtles. I present the following evidence from 1983, my Freshman year of high school:

Ouch. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a student who will go on to achieve great things in History.
I’ve been pawing through my old books; there are titles in my collection that I’d nearly forgotten, but when I pick them up the entire story floods back to me like a returning tide. I love my old books. They’re a record of what I was doing (or not doing–math) and not unlike an old group of friends who will wait for your forever. Books are loyal. Stories are permanent, as long as we remember them.

And Algebra is the devil.

Tennessee Valley Author Event: A Good Time Was Had By All

Seriously. What an event.

I was able to enjoy several hours with people who love books as much as I. There were a thousand fans crowded into the venue, and the authors didn’t fail to bring their very best. I made new friends:

This is Lorie. She hugged one of the male models (not me) and then smelled her shirt, declaring it to “smell like him“. It wasn’t as creepy as it reads. Honest. She was delightful.

Her friend Cindy was my first-ever assistant. She was amazing. Cindy made certain that my table was a well-run affair, leaving me to talk books, take a few pictures with fans, and pass out chocolate fortune cookies. People like Cindy– who have an innate love of books– are solid gold.

This is Cindy. She takes book events seriously enough that they merit a dress. She has a sunny disposition and she too enjoys nearly all kinds of baked goods. We became instant friends. To reiterate for those of you who have not met me: pie is our friend.

This was my author table, which, according to Cindy, “Looked way more organized than she expected, given that I’m a dude.” I appreciate that kind of compliment.

So there you have it. A rousing success. Some new friends. Lots of books, and I managed to write 2200 words while staying in Knoxville. Until next time, friends.

The Haircut of Shame:Tennessee Valley Author Event Version

I committed too soon.

To my haircut, that is. I received an excellent haircut two weeks ago– too early for the Tennessee Valley Author Event this weekend, but not quite late enough to merit a full re-do.

As a man who likes to keep his follicle business in order, I found myself waiting for a trim at a local chain. I’d waited my turn, about fifteen minutes (very reasonable), but decided that I would go rogue and let my hair run wild and free this weekend.
Unfortunately, my wishes were steamrolled by karma. The young woman who cheerfully called my name was professional, attractive, and enormously pregnant. Thus, were I to call off my incipient hair adjustment, I would be denying both her and the baby a small but appreciable amount of income.

She gave me an excellent trim, loved books, and was an all around delight. Let it be known that for me, shame is a powerful motivator, and can even overcome my natural rigidity regarding carefully scheduled Hair Events.