Monday, July 31, 2006

A Fan Girl Confession

I'm usually pretty cool around the big name authors. I rub elbows with them on a regular basis and for the most part, they're just like the rest of us except their royalty checks have infinitely more zeroes. They're free with good advice and have lots of war stories. I view the majority of them with respect.

Then there are those rare few authors to which I fall into 'fan girl' status. The three are: Terry Pratchett, Ian Rankin and Kim Harrison. Authors come and go off this list, but these three have remained in place for a long time. I'm damned fussy about what I read as I have so little time to spend in that glorious pursuit. So when I pick up a book, it better rock. All three of these authors deliver the goods.

So it was with great joy I got to meet one of the trio at RWA this week -- Ms. Harrison. Her Rachel Morgan series manages to blend witches, vampires, werewolves, pixies and elves in a modern Cincinnati setting and hold my interest from page to page.

We met for a 'Decompression Coffee' (open to those attending the conference) and just b.s.'d for an hour. The group talked about everything, including how Kim creates her books (she's an detailed outline sort) and what's coming up in her next book (For a Few Demons More). It was a very pleasant hour.

Usually I'm fine around other authors, but I was just too much of a fan girl to relax. So instead I tried very hard not to blurt anything stupid. I think I did okay. At least no one tossed me over the railing to the floor below to shut me up (always a clue).

Kim's a classy lady and her "Guy-in-the-Leather-Jacket" is quite a cutie. All in all, it was a great hour and one of the highlights of the conference.

And now the fan girl moves on to World Con in L.A. where Mr. Pratchett is to be found. All I need to do is make a trip to Scotland and see Rankin and I'll have had the summer of a lifetime.

For those who want to sample Kim's works:

Fair warning -- they're highly addictive.

Trinoc*Con 2006

Just back from my ten day 'sojourn' to Raleigh and Atlanta. But before I jump into reporting the RWA Conference, let's do Trinoc*Con justice.

I like going to this con because it's like a family reunion, only better because family isn't involved. I shared table space in the dealer's room with the ever-sauve Tony Ruggerio, magical Laura J. Underwood and that amazing bard, Lee Martindale. As Lee would say, we play nice together. I spent some time b.s.'ing with J.R. Fisher (the fellow who is my Scotland Yard chief inspector in SOJOURN) and had the pleasure of sitting on some amazing panels. One, in particular, was very cool as we discussed (at the early hour of 10 a.m.) the cause and effect of time travel. If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be? What would be the consequences? Or would you care? Lots of deep conversation for such an early hour.

Alan Wold introduced me to the wonders of Laphroaig (singularly awesome single malt scotch) and dinner at the Bahama Breeze was really good. I'm still astounded we got a table within 5 minutes.

I was particularly pleased to see the fine folks at Edge Books at the convention. Zane & Jo live in Louisiana and last year was a outright b*tch in their neck of the woods. They're still dealing with the aftermath.

And one last note -- the hotel. It was a Hilton. The rooms were newly remodeled, the coffee was LaVazza (Italian and expensive) and the bed oh-so wonderful. Yeah, I admit it, I'm becoming a hotel snob. I stayed in a Microtel the night before and I like them, as well. Free Wi-Fi, free long distance, continental breakfast. But every now and then you like to live in luxury. Trinoc*Con's hotel was that and more.

Another year under my belt. It's always a pleasure. Looking forward to 2007.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A July Two-Fer

The brief respite off the road is about to end with a two-fer, two conventions in a row. The weekend of July 21-23 will find me in Raleigh, NC at Trinoc*Con (also a Deep South Con this year) followed by the Romance Writers of America annual convention (this year in Atlanta).

This will be my third year at Trinoc*Con and it's always a pleasure to return as a guest to the Raleigh-Durham area. This year won't be an exception. Lee Martindale, Laura Underwood and Tony Ruggerio will be there, so there will be fun to be had on all accounts. Also, I'll be catching up with J.R. Fisher, the fellow who so graciously donated $$ during the literacy fund auction last year to become a character in SOJOURN. And what a character he became. Chief Inspector J.R. Fisher took on a life of his own and is one of my favorite characters. He's in the second book, as well, carving a path through the plot. The real life J.R. Fisher is no less fun, I can tell you.

The Romance Writer's Convention is the opposite of a SF&F con. Think pantyhose, 'adult clothes' and formal gowns. It's the one time a year I brush off the really ritzy gowns (providing I can still get into them) and pack all the fancy jewelry. Since SOJOURN just came out this year, I'm doing more schmoozing than anything. If the fates are with me, the book will be up for a few awards next year, but this year I'm reconnecting with my writer buddies, listening to panels and having a good time.

Once I get home from Trinoc*Con I'll post a report as I have about a day downtime between before RWA conference starts. And I'll be sure to post a blog about the RWA Pre-Conference trip to the shooting range where I'll get the joy of trying out a number of firearms. I know, what we writers do for research....

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lady Liberty -- Religion Gone Awry

Of all the silly Constitutional amendment ideas floating around, perhaps we should have one that prevents desecration to The Statue of Liberty.

So what have folks been doing? Perhaps piddling on the base of the statue or dressing Lady Liberty in scandolous clothes? Worse. A church in Memphis, TN remade the statue in their own image. You can see the results at this link:

Yup, Lady Liberty is now holding a cross, the Ten Commandments and has the name Jehovah on her crown. For a moment I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was for real.

This is so wrong on so many levels. Lady Liberty represents all of us, not just those of one particular religious group. Replace the cross with the star and crescent and put a Koran in herleft hand. Now what you do think of it? I can predict the reaction -- there would be hell to pay.

The pastor who commissioned this work stated, "This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis." Jesus may indeed be lord of your heart and I respect that, but when you begin to assert he is my lord, you have gone across the line. Each of us makes this spiritual journey of our own volition. We all make the choices and accept the consequences. Some choose to follow Jesus' path, others follow in Muhammad or Buddha's footsteps. My religious forebears stood at the base of Sinai and received those stone tablets. I have no desire to see them exploited in such a way.

To alter a national symbol to raise your faith above all the others is unfathomable. And yet, here it is. So what do they have in mind for their next stunt?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

To me, the 4th of July is more than just cookouts, fireworks and sunburns. As is my habit, I spent a few moments pondering what led our Founding Fathers to take the risk of doing the 'hemp fandago' (as Terry Pratchett would put it) to secure our liberty. It was a bold and dangerous move, one that had every chance of failure. Yet, they took the rise. In their hearts, our forefathers (and mothers) knew that a democracy is only as vital as its citizens. I fear there aren't many of their kind in 2006.