I’ll be in one of my favorite cities next week, Roanoke, Virginia. I’m speaking at the Roanoke Regional Writer’s Conference. It’s on the beautiful campus of Hollins University.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Virginia is incredible. It’s just so American, and Roanoke is a shining example of a great town. If you haven’t been– go. See the star. See the town. See the people. They’re Virginians, so they’re steeped in history with the friendliness of the South, and the sights of the North.
I can’t say enough good things about this event. It’s a wide spectrum of thinkers, writers, and writing styles wrapped up in an atmosphere of sharing– and there is an unmistakable joy for the written word. It’s my second year, and an absolute highlight for me.
In case you’re still not sold on Roanoke, let’s recap some things: The star!
Rivers, nature, and bridges that are statistically likely to terrify nearly one third of all humans!
And, of course– the city itself. Lovely.
So, to sum up: Books, fun, ham, Roanoke, coffee, friends, and nature. Can’t wait.
When my wife and I were dating, I made fried chicken. I made really good fried chicken, and my wife is somewhat of a connoisseur in that arena. She famously said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken and I don’t want to know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken.”
I could not agree more.
SO. I’m coming for you, Frankenmuth. I will have an empty belly, a stack of books, and an intense curiosity in sampling all of your wonderful fare.
I plan on writing in the car at the pickup line. I arrive about an hour early to get Optimum Line Placement, assuring that my son gets in and we take off with near military precision.
Side note: If you told me to invade a country and gave me whatever resources I’d need, I would select the teachers who supervise the pickup line. I could have my forces in Moscow by noon. They do not play around when it comes to getting the kids on their way.
Ok, so I’ll write a chapter today– around 1500 words. The fuel I’m choosing is white carrots, purchased from the Hendersonville Produce Stand. It’s the kind of place that has fruits and vegetables that look real, rather than the polished, waxy approximations of food in some stores. I like the irregularity– it’s the same in people, I think. It’s the cracks that make us good, to quote Dozer from the book Heartborn.
Why white carrots, Terry? Welllll, glad you asked. I really dig parsnips, and these are rather like them. Add a touch of butter, salt, pepper, thyme. Roast until tender. Add protein of your choice. Boom. Writing fuel, or fuel for whatever you’re doing.
In my case, it’s writing. I’ll report back on the efficiency of carrots as Fictional Fuel.
What a fantastic summer. It can be summed up as follows: Lots of book events. Many new friends. Pie. Coffee. Running. Repeat as necessary. As evidence, I offer the following:
Because glasses are serious business in Wisconsin.
This is The Katy. She runs a blog, writes, and smiles. It’s her thing.
Kristine is a writer who asked me to be on her book cover as a gambler named Dallas. I don’t have a beard, and could not grow one overnight. I was rather let down by my own limitations.
Also, if you blather on about pie enough, readers and friends bring you pie. I’m not sure my life can get any better.
Friends also tell you about barbecue so good you want to high-five the staff. (Bucky Bee’s, Cave City, KY!)
And, of course, cheese curds in Wisconsin. *highfive* It’s been a darn fine summer. Lots of new faces, old friends, and great books. Look for two new audiobooks this fall (Heartborn and Halfway Hunted), performed by the excellent Julia Whelan (Gone Girl) and Erin Spencer (The Black Key). I’m shocked at how good they are. Acting is hard. Doing so through a microphone is just magical.
I sent Halfway Bitten off to beta readers, then it’s off to my fine editor Jennifer Clark Sells. What’s next? Well, I’m going to read a little. I’m going to eat some pie. I’m going to drink some coffee, and finalize my author events for next year. And then *cracks knuckles*, I’m going to write. I have three novels planned for next year. They will be as follows: Book Five of The Fearless, in which a vicious killer from antiquity comes to Florida looking for his ancient weapon. One problem: the people who have it don’t want to give it back, unless it’s stuck in his belly. Book Two of Banshee, in which we learn that not all cults are good, and not all dragons are awake. . .yet. Book three is a passion project, in which the illustrious Delphine (I only kill for the kisses!) gets her own novel. She’s just too good to pass up, and this installment of her history will begin in 19th century Paris, when men and women shared secrets and beds– often with disastrous results. We’ll also have three more audiobooks for your listening pleasure! I’ll have cover art news in December, and a short story for the holidays about a dragon who wakes up to find that California is quite different from before his nap. Chat soon! Terry
Tuckerization: To base a character in your novel on a real person. Popularized by Wilson Tucker. Terry-orize: To base a character in my novel on a real person who deserves to be dealt with harshly. Options include, but are not limited to: Dismemberment. Consumption by animals (real or imaginary), crushing, falling, disease, parasitical infestation, forced wearing of skinny jeans, and ironic tattooing. Also, death. LOTS of death. I asked everyone on my mailing list if they would give me suggestions for Tuckerization (Terry-orize), and WOW. The outpouring of anger and seething grudges was a sight to behold. If you haven’t signed up for the list, here it is ( I don’t spam, so c’mon.) News. Freebies. Fun. Some of the grudges range from rather minor offenses (a neighbor who honks every morning when she leaves) to actual bad people (a guy who poisoned a cat). In all, I’ve gotten more than sixty (60!!!!) requests. So, I did the only logical thing and decided that instead of merely using one of these assholes in a scene, I’m going to use two. The first person (winner?) will be Terry-orized in a scene that I’ll post to this blog and my Facebook page. However, the second “winner” will be included in my next book, Halfway Bitten, and yes– I’ve already written the scene. There are certain people who just make my teeth vibrate, and the suggestion I got from one friend/reader was too good to pass up. Regarding her suggestion: It’s a type of person we’ve all met. They’re (unfortunately) more common than I’d like to admit, and they make me irrationally angry. So, while the chapter will remain a mystery until the new book is released, we will start by giving you the title of the chapter: “Chapter Twenty-Nine: You Picked the Wrong Diner, Lady” The other “winner” will be dealt with this week, and I’ll post their unfortunate demise here. We might even have sound effects and/or pictures; it depends on how angry I am when the scene is complete. So, to everyone who wants me to take it out on someone for them– Thanks! (And I hope I never get on your bad side) Cheers, Terry
UNICORN! That’s what my friend Staci said when I mentioned I walked into the grocery store and saw a young woman who looks exactly how I pictured Carlie McEwan (White Witch, Monster Fighter, and Maker of Waffles). “You found a unicorn,” Staci said. “I did?” I asked. “Yes. It’s a one-in-a-million thing. Get it?” Staci responded. “Oh, Ok,”I confirmed. There was an awkward pause in our chat. “Well, I better go do. . .something else. Don’t scare the girl. Make sure she knows you don’t have a creepy van or anything,” Staci admonished me. I found myself nodding at the laptop where our chat was scrolling. “Think I should have my wife ask her to be on the book cover?” I asked. It seemed plausible to me. “No. That might be even weirder.” Staci’s answer was quick and decisive. “Ok.” I agreed, but still thought that when shaved, I look relatively harmless. That about sums up the process. The results, though, are spectacular. Allow me to introduce Alexis, the model who is going to bring Carlie to life. She’s unique, owns Doc Martens, and has that uniquely beautiful quality that Carlie embodies. So, yeah. Unicorn. This is Alexis:
As you can see, she doesn’t look frightened at all, so I don’t know why Staci told me to “approach calmly, hand her my business card, and take two large steps back.” I think I should be offended, but I’m not, so everything is cool, and we have our Carlie, and take that Staci. But I’m not bitter. So join me in welcoming Alexis, because this Halfway series is just blooming. I love these characters. Until next time! Terry
When I was a kid, it was dogmatic that geekery was something to be punished rather than celebrated. Certain events began to shift that attitude, which had permeated schools across the United States until the late 1980s. Star Wars was one such liminal moment, so was the rebirth of Star Trek, and other superhero related films as well. Dungeons and Dragons, gaming, and the enthusiasm of table top gaming began to grow alongside the miraculous wave of computer and video gaming. Think about this: At one time, Pong was the domain of idle stoners and the curious.
That in itself was a radical shift from the iconic activity of most teens– pinball– and Atari was born as a social force that continues to impact how we look at media and entertainment today. I’m not treading new water when I say that games have become both mainstream and hugely profitable; the culture surrounding gaming has grown from a sliver to large chunks of various age groups. Games, geekery, and all things nerdy have jumped the banks of the cultural zeitgeist and gone from outliers to mainstream.
It would be impossible– and irresponsible— to mention gaming without the obvious connection between technology and the expansion of this market. Computers, connectivity, and the immediacy of modern social structures are rooted in a competition that can be shared by people of nearly all types. That’s no accident, and as someone who teaches history for a living, well worth my time to examine. Modernity creates a market that is unceasing in its demand for Bigger! Brighter! Faster! More!— in point of fact, we have trended more toward the world of Bladerunner than we care to admit, but this shift seems less like a tidal wave and more like a tide. It’s been steady, and it has no signs of withdrawing to the outer bay of history anytime soon.
Millions of people game online. They’re connected. They vault seamlessly across national lines and have created their own language, mannerisms, and networks. Superheroes continue to bloom in the theater, as do comic books– a genre pronounced dead thirty years ago– and all of the impedimenta needed to support this massive section of the modern culture. Geekery is no longer anything except a constant war between the consumers and those would control that which they are offered. Due to the endless inventiveness of youth/geek/nerds/rebels, in no way would I bet on corporatism and social pressures as bringing this rabid, varied fan base to heel. More on that later– In 48 hours, I’ll attend the largest Con(vention) I’ve ever been to. There will be multiple genres side by side, from horror, to science fiction, to anime, and fantasy. The simple fact that there is such crossover between these distinct styles tells me that geekery– once a source of ribald jokes– is now a force of such intensity that it transcends the bounds of definition. I’ll have my first truly surreal experience this weekend, too– two Cosplayers will be dressing as a character I created. Think about that for a moment. A guy who was a nerd thirty years ago is now writing things that people will use to enjoy themselves, a sort of artistic expression that once would have been derided as “nerd stuff”. It’s official. I have lived long enough to see the real “good old days”, and they are now. I’ll share pictures and such from Fandomfest this weekend, and until then, cheers! Terry
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. Cheers, Terry PennedCon
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. Cheers! Terry