Saturday, October 30, 2010

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, Columbus, day 4

I didn't finish my work last night until nearly five in the morning, but I was able to sleep late and so woke up feeling okay. Lunch was again at the North Market, where this time I tried a hot Italian sandwich that was, unfortunately, only so-so. No matter, though, because an orchid vanilla ice cream cookie from Jeni's fixed me right up.

After a pass through the art show and the dealer's room, it was time for my panel on Thorne Smith. The five of us on the panel and quite a few audience members conducted a reasonably lively discussion of this largely forgotten fantasist who was a bestselling writer in his day. If you don't know his work, I recommend starting with The Night Life of the Gods.

Baen Senior Editor and friend, Jim Minz, treated a dozen of us to a very nice Italian dinner at Rigsby's Kitchen and then to dessert at the shop right across the street. Yes, you guessed it: another Jeni's.

The bulk of the rest of the evening went to the Artist's Reception and a few parties, notably Tor's.

A pleasant enough day, all in all, but now one in which I must return to work.

Friday, October 29, 2010

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, Columbus, day 3

It's going on four in the morning Friday night, and I've been working for hours when I wish I was enjoying the con. I'd be down, except that I'm listening to Gaslight Anthem on my Etymotic in-ear headphones and the music and the sound are so good that I can't help but smile at the music.

Work dominated today, but I did manage to squeeze in quite a few fun things. I made passes through both the art show and the dealers' room, and I had a good time in each. Omar Rayyan, an artist whose work I love and who is just a great guy, is showing quite a few pieces here, and I spent some time studying them. His sense of childish whimsy and fantasy is unsurpassed and always leaves me happy. I already own several of his paintings and always wish I could afford more.

As I walked the dealers' room, several folks brought me stacks of books to sign, which is always gratifying.

Lunch today was at a small barbecue stand in the fine North Market, a building that houses many local food vendors and that is less than half a mile from the hotel. I once again tried a little Jeni's ice cream, this time splitting an ice cream cookie with friends. Wow, is their stuff great!

As it turns out, there's a White Castle only a mile away, and several friends had never eaten a true White Castle slider, so that was the late-night dinner pilgrimage. Their sliders aren't great, but they are addictive and well worth experiencing. Dessert at the other Jeni's was a natural follow-on.

Dinner was so late because from eight to eleven the con ran the traditional mass author signing in the Grand Ballroom. To my pleasant surprise, people wandered by to chat and to have me sign books for almost the entire time (nearly two hours) that I stayed there.

As I head back to work, enjoy the Gaslight Anthem's "I'da Called You Woody, Joe." I did.

The Wild Side

As some of you will remember, The Wild Side is an anthology of original urban fantasy stories with an erotic edge. I'm the editor, and I also have a story in the book. I've kept mum about it for quite some time, but now it's close enough to done that I can share with you a little bit about it.

First, here’s the Table of Contents:

* Introduction - Mark L. Van Name

* Songs Sung Red - Tanya Huff

* Careless of the Night - Gina Massel-Castater

* For a Good Time, Call - Toni L.P. Kelner

* Fine Print - Diana Rowland

* Unawares - Sarah A. Hoyt

* Of Sex and Zombies - Ticia Drake Isom

* Love Knot - Dana Cameron

* Beauty Is a Witch - John Lambshead

* The Long Dark Night of Diego Chan - Mark L. Van Name

* Born Under a Bad Sign - Caitlin Kittredge
For those who like their anthology trivia, I have some fun facts:
* Length: North of 90K words but south of 100K

* Old hand/newbie mix: 8 established writers, 2 first-timers

* Gender mix: 8 women, 2 men

* Country mix: 8 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 Canadian

* Topic range: all over the map, but most supernatural critters appear at least once

* Level of eroticism: nothing anywhere near porn, but definitely from mild to wild
All in all, it’s a volume I quite like and very much enjoyed reading. I think you'll have a good time with it as well.

The Wild Side is currently set to be an August, 2011 trade paperback, so put aside a few dollars in your August budget to cover it.

The cover art will be an original piece by Dan Dos Santos, one of the most acclaimed illustrators working in the urban fantasy area. For example, he won Chesley awards for both Best Paperback and Best Hardcover of 2009, and books with his covers have hit number one on The New York Times Best Seller list. When the art is done and I get to see it, I'll try to show it here.

If it isn't obvious, by the way, this is not a child-friendly book; it's definitely an adult volume. Sarah and Scott have already told me they don’t plan to read this one.

I hope, though, that all of you will!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, Columbus, day 2

I didn't get to see much of the con today, because work consumed most of my waking hours, but a few incidents from the day deserve note.

After registering for the con, I didn't have much time before a client call, so lunch was in a food court in the adjacent convention center. As frequent readers will know, I'm a big fan of the mighty tube steak, so I ordered one from one of the vendors there. Mistake. Big mistake. The dog started doing tricks in my stomach and didn't stop for the next half dozen hours.

A mid-afternoon visit to the original Jeni's Ice Creams location did help somewhat. I tried my first Jeni's ice cream sandwich--oatmeal cookies, which they baked, surrounding vanilla ice cream--and it was wonderful. I'm so very glad I don't live near one of these stores.

Dinner was a delightful meal at M, courtesy of Tor Publisher Tom Doherty. The food was very good, but the stories from Tom were better. He started in publishing in 1957, and his knowledge of the field and its history is both wide and deep. We all tried to persuade him to write a book about it, but I don't think we succeeded. I truly hope he does.

I talked with a few folks in the hotel bar after dinner, then spent many hours working.

Oh, yeah: I'm finally announcing the contents of the anthology I've been editing that will appear next August. See the next post for more on The Wild Side.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the road again: World Fantasy Con, Columbus, day 1

Other than an hour in the Cincinnati airport once many years ago, I've not spent any time in Ohio. This trip will begin to fill that gap in my travel resume.

We drove here, a long drive that with lunch and gas breaks took almost nine hours. For a bit under an hour we had to fight fog and rain, but the rest of the way the weather was lovely. So was the scenery. I'd also never previously been in West Virginia, but I've always heard it was beautiful. It truly is. The old, low mountains sported fall colors just a bit past their prime, as if they were college professors adorned in well-worn plaids. Rarely was the view less than lovely.

For lunch, on Jain's recommendation, we pulled over and ate in the food court at Tamarack. This odd structure houses many different types of craftspeople, a conference center, an art gallery, and, of course, the grill from which we ordered. The food was decent, better than I'd initially feared, and the break in the trip was great.

Even though I had cellular connections most of the way and so could keep up with work somewhat, I still hit the hotel desperately behind on work. The evening plan thus turned simple: work, get dinner, work many hours more.

For dinner, we headed half a mile north to a very pleasant little place, The Happy Greek. I have no idea how authentically Greek the food was, but it tasted good, the portions were bigger than we'd expected, and I left happy.

Of course, we were only a block and a half away from a Jeni's ice creams store that was still open, so we had to drop in there and try a little tasty creamy goodness--and good it was. I expect to visit that place another few times before I leave town.

The con starts tomorrow, and I hope to manage to do it and my job and my writing--always a recipe for long days!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My reading at The Regulator Bookshop

I've been going to The Regulator off and on--it's fairly far from my house--for over twenty years. It's one of those independent bookstores with a strong personality: liberal politics befitting its location near Duke, homey, a great variety of interesting books, and a sense that everyone there really cares about books. I had hoped to do a reading and signing there for my first novel, but the cover and publisher were enough to convince them not to give me a slot. For Children No More, though, they were willing to talk, and after meeting with Gina, they let me sign earlier tonight.

I'm the very least qualified person to assess how it went, but from my perspective it was at least okay. More than two dozen folks showed up, though I must admit that I knew the majority of them. I read a couple of chapters from CNM and two of the blog lessons, and then I answered questions. Many people bought books, and I signed a bunch of them.

Thanks to Gina, I have a few pictures from the reading. I hate posting pictures of myself, but folks complain when I don't, so here I am at the reading podium.

Now, check me out in artistic black and white, answering a question.

Do I look all writerly?

Unless something unusual happens, this will be my last solo signing for Children No More. I'll probably participate in the World Fantasy Con group autographing session on Friday, and then I won't be signing anywhere for many months. So, if you want me to sign something--a book I wrote, one I didn't, a particularly sensitive body part--just come on by the con.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Please to permit me a moment of fatherly pride

As I've said before, I am blessed to have two wonderful children. Last night, we headed to Duke to have dinner with Sarah and to see two of her poems hanging in a Duke student art show.

I was and am, as you might imagine, quite proud of her.

With her kind permission, I'm going to show you the two poems. If you click on each image, you should get one that's big enough to read.

The first clearly pulls from her experiences working with our Fourth of July firing team earlier this year.

The second...well, I'll let it speak for itself, as poetry does.

I'd say it if I'd never met her, so I don't mind saying it here: Damn, Sarah can write.

I did insist on the author posing with her work.

She is, as you can see, beautiful--and cracking up at my insistence on photographing both her poems and her.

I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.

If you're in the Triangle area and not busy Tuesday (10/26/10) night...

...please drop by The Regulator Bookshop at 7:00 p.m. and see me read and sign. Then, please buy some books. This is my first appearance there, and I'd like to make it a good one.

Thanks for the consideration.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

UFC 121: How we fared

Kyle took back the championship from me tonight as he won two of the three fights in which we disagreed. Overall, we didn't do anywhere near as well as we usually do, with Kyle barely above fifty percent and me just below it.

My review starts, as usual, with the undercard.

Jon Madsen vs. Gilbert Yvel

We both chose Madsen, and we were right to do so, as he emerged the victor. That said, we both expected him to win through a long, ugly grind, and instead he took down Yvel early, then beat on him until the referee stopped the fight and awarded Madsen the TKO.

Dong Yi Yang vs. Chris Camozzi

We didn't get to see this fight, but we were wrong to choose Yang, because Camozzi beat him by split decision. From what I read online, it shouldn't even have been that close, though I have no way to be sure. More and more, I'm coming to believe that picking an unbeaten fighter in his UFC debut is a very risky proposition.

Sam Stout vs. Paul Taylor

Stout won, as we both predicted, but it was another split decision. The descriptions I read make the fight sound good; I hope to get to see it one day.

At least we were back to positive: 2-1.

Mike Guymon vs. Daniel Roberts

So much for that. In a short but exciting fight, Roberts pulled a beautiful submission and proved that we were both wrong to pick Guymon. Roberts was very impressive--and we slid to even at 2-2 heading into the preliminary fights on Spike TV.

Patrick Cote vs. Tom Lawlor

Then the pain continued, as Lawlor completely dominated Cote for all three rounds. The Canadian simply had no answer for Lawlor's take-downs, so he spent most of the fight being manhandled by Lawlor. Lawlor didn't do much damage, but he clearly earned the unanimous decision and left us 2-3.

Ryan Jensen vs. Court McGee

We both expected McGee to win this one easily, and he most certainly did not do that. Instead, he and Jensen went back and forth for about two and a half rounds, and for a while I feared we would slide further behind. Fortunately, with about a minute and a half left in the fight, McGee slapped on a choke. We were back to an even 3-3 heading into the first fight of the main card.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Brendan Schaub

I finally broke ahead of Kyle as Schaub dominated Gonzaga in the young fighter's toughest bout yet. I expected Schaub to earn a KO, but instead he ground out a decision by striking Gonzaga over and over. Gonzaga looked confused for much of the fight and never did what his corner suggested, which was to try to take down Schaub.

I was at 4-3, and Kyle was at 3-4.

Matt Hamill vs. Tito Ortiz

Ah, so quickly do things change. I went back and forth on it, but I finally opted for Tito. Kyle chose Hamill. Kyle was right: Hamill won, as I said was possible and Kyle said was likely, in a slow, grinding, ugly decision.

This development left us both at 4-4.

Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago

We both expected Thiago to wear down and out-work Sanchez in route to a victory. Instead, the opposite occurred, and Sanchez dominated the last two rounds and earned a unanimous decision from the judges.

Being 4-5 this late in the card sucks.

Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields

Jake Shields won this fight, but he managed to look pretty bad doing it. Kampmann left him exhausted and never appeared in danger of losing to one of Shields' submission attempts. I don't know if the weight cut hurt Shields a great deal or if the competition in the UFC is just that much better than in Strikeforce, but he sure didn't look like the next great contender.

On the other hand, because we both chose him, we were tied at 5-5 going into the big fight.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez

Wow. Cain Velasquez convinced a lot of doubters, including me, by completely and totally dominating Brock Lesnar. He got up when Lesnar took him down. He took down Lesnar. He stayed calm and controlled at every moment, never moving hastily. Every punch seemed to hurt Lesnar, and he opened a huge gash in Lesnar's cheek. Before four minutes were gone from the fight, Lesnar was on his back, a bloody mess, with Velasquez beating on him. At 4:12, referee Herb Dean called the TKO for Velasquez.

I don't know who is going to beat that guy, but he sure looks set to rule the heavyweight roost for a while. I am dead impressed--and I end up going 5-6 and losing to Kyle's 6-5.

My normal fight-pick admonition has never been more clearly true: don't rely on us for betting advice!


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