Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, March 29, 2015

MidSouthCon 33 Roundup

MidSouthCon Images!

I didn't take as many pictures at MidSouthCon33 as I have at past cons. Being in costume myself meant I couldn't carry my camera around all the time -- but I still managed to snap off a few, and I'm posting them below. Thanks to everyone who stopped and posed!

The Darrell Award

My novel THE FIVE FACES was one of the finalists for the 2015 Darrell Award for Best Novel. Despite some serious competition, The Five Faces won, and the award is shown below.

If you attend MidSouthCon, you should also buy a ticket for the Darrell Awards ceremony and banquet. The food is excellent, and the company -- well, you might find yourself seated with a theoretical physicist on your right, and an award-winning artist on your left. 

Which is true of pretty much anywhere at the Con.

I'm thrilled to get another Darrell Award for a Markhat novel. Writing is a lonely business, and having a body readers say 'Hey, we like what you did there' makes it all worthwhile!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Live (more or less) From MidSouthCon 33!

MidSouthCon 33 is winding down as I type this. The dealer room is emptying, cart by weary cart. The art gallery, which was amazing, is also slowly dispersing.

Panels are still in progress. Con-goers are still in full costume.

The only remaining part of my own cosplay get-up is my top hat. It's a testament to the creativity of con folk that I can be dressed in street clothes and a top hat and no one bats an eye because the guy next to me is wearing a dragon head and sporting wings.

I was the Toastmaster for MidSouthCon 33, and I can honestly say I've never had a better time. Meeting everyone, especially the other Guests of Honor, was a blast. It's a three-day party, a 72 hour celebration of science fiction and fantasy, of books and art, of imagination and creativity.

In a few days, I'll post a longer, far more detailed accounts of my adventures as Toastmistress. I say Toastmistress because that's how I was billed on the Con tee shirt, which I found hilarious. As an author, I'm so accustomed to typos they don't bug me. It happens, and in this case it was a great place to make a joke. Which was, after all, my job this weekend.

I'm exhausted. My hair is tired. Hauling my steampunk ghostbuster backpack not only aggravated the sciatica in my right leg but left me with the same feelings in my left. But I haven't missed a Sunday blog in lo these many years and I'm not about to start now.

So, enjoy the pics below. More will be coming.

To the amazing volunteers and staff and security and Guests of Honor and everyone associated with MidSouthCon and the Darrell Awards jury and organizers, I extend to you my most heartfelt thanks!

Oh -- speaking of the Darrell Awards, my book The Five Faces won this years Darrell Award for Best Novel!

I'm am truly psyched about that. And glad people are still enjoying Markhat, because I have many more books to write in that world.

Look familiar? You probably know him as Julio from The Walking Dead, but this cat is an amazing dude who not only acts but writes and produces. He's also one of the most positive, generous, and all-around gracious dudes you could ever hope to meet. Was good hanging with you Santiago!

Amazing costumes abounded!

Another new friend, the amazing and incomparable magician Johnny Del La Rocko!

Her eyes actually look healthier than mine right now...

Okay, it's nearly time for the closing ceremonies. Time for me to dust off my top hat and take the stage one last time as Toastmistress.

It's been a blast!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pre-MidSouthCon Cosplay Pics!

MidSouthCon 33 is now less than a week away!

As this year's Toastmaster, I'm hoping to perform my duties in style. Specifically, a style right out of 1869.

The pic below is most but not all of my cosplay outfit. Missing is the gold monocle, the obligatory mechanical pocket watch with gold chain, and my steampunk ghostbuster's proton pack. But there's enough here to give you a good idea.

All the clothes were obtained from the Gentleman's Emporium. And I have to say, these are some awesome, well-made duds.

I'm wearing the Red River rust vest, a black puff tie, an Edwardian club shirt, and black Victorian trousers, complete with suspenders (braces). My hair, which is under the John Bull top hat, is slicked down with Brylcream. The shoes were stolen from the corpse of -- well, enough about that.

I can't say enough good things about the folks at the Emporium. They have an equally impressive line of period-authentic clothes for the ladies, too! Click here to browse the pics.

The ghostbuster's pack is done. Picks of it and the thrower are below. I'm really happy with it, and when everything is lit it's pretty darned nice.

Another view.

Markhat in the News

The Five Faces, the latest Markhat adventure, was reviewed a little while ago by Big Al's Books and Pals.

The reviewer gave the book five out of five stars. Now, The Five Faces has been nominated as a potential Reader's Choice Award selection!

What determines the winner of the Reader's Choice Award?

Not what, but who, and the who is you. 

Readers vote for nominees, and the book with the most votes wins. Can you tell where this is heading?

That's right! A plea and a link. Please vote, if you liked the book. I'd really appreciate it. So would Markhat and Darla. Who can resist Darla's big brown eyes?

Voting is quick and easy. All you have to do is click the link below. Go to the bottom of the page, find the contest box, sign in, and you're set. The Five Faces is in the Fantasy category. 


That's it for now. Next weekend expect live updates from MidSouthCon 33! If you're going to be there, look me up -- I won't be hard to spot. 

You can also check out my Con schedule my going to the Con website, selecting Programming, then Schedule, and then entering my name in the search box. I'm on several panels, so stop by!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lunch With The Authors

Lunch With the Authors

Just a heads-up, gang -- on April the 22nd, I'll be taking part of a 'Lunch with the Authors' event at the Collierville Morton Museum in Collierville, Tennessee.

I'll be one of the seven authors reading from our books and discussing the mysterious ways of the publishing industry. We'll also be signing books and taking questions, so if you're anywhere near Collierville on the 22nd and have some free time between noon and 3 PM, drop by the Museum!

I'm excited about this event. The other authors are an amazing bunch, and frankly I can't wait to ask them a few questions myself. There's Steve Bradshaw, author of the Bell trilogy, Lisa Turner, author of A Little Death in Dixie, and a host of other great writers. 

I'm still deciding what I'll be reading from. Probably one of the Markhat books. Any suggestions are welcome!

MisSouthCon Update

MidSouthCon 33 is just a couple of weeks away! I'm really looking forward to meeting some of my online friends in person for the first time. Heck, I may even shave, and put on shoes.

The Guests of Honor list this year is truly impressive, despite my presence within it. Here's a brief rundown of the guests:

Cory Doctorow, Author Guest of Honor.

You don't need me to tell you who Cory Doctorow is. All I have to do is glance at my bookshelf to see his titles leaping out. Little Brother, Rapture of the Nerds, Homeland -- just being in the same room with Mr. Doctorow will probably give me a +5 boost on my Avoiding Adverbs roll. He's that good. Better than that good.

Melissa Gay, Artist Guest of Honor

Wow. Here's a link to Melissa's webpage, at which you can view some of her amazing art. Click to see what I mean. Her line art is maybe my favorite -- especially this one, which reminds me of Markhat sneaking down a dark Rannite alley.

Melissa is so cool one of her works was even featured on io9 last week. If you don't visit io9 regularly, you should -- it's a wonderfully entertaining and informative mishmash of media, art, and science news! Melissa's piece is her version of Red Sonja, and Melissa rightly put some clothes on the woman, because CLOTHES, people. Melissa's Red Sonja art.

Ethan Van Sciver, Comics Artist

Ethan's comic art includes work on The Green Lantern, Batman, and Superman, which means he can basically recite those names, drop the mic, and strut offstage to massive applause. Batman. Need I say more? No, I do not! 

Dragon Dronet, Costuming/Media Guest of Honor

You guys know I like making SF/fantasy props. But Dragon Dronet not only makes wildly inventive props for TV and films, he's also a stuntman and an action choreographer. He's worked on Star Trek, Babylon 5, and a slew of other titles you'd recognize instantly. I can't wait to see what he thinks about my steampunk ghostbuster backpack!

Elizabeth Donald, Editor Guest of Honor

Elizabeth Donald is a rare bird. She's a fiction writer, newspaper columnist, and now an editor. That's a lot of hats for the same head! She's also a fellow Darrell Award winner, and I'm looking forward to pestering her with the endless stream of questions that occur whenever a writer manages simultaneously get an editor in a room and block the room's only exit. 

Ethan Siegel, Science Guest of Honor

Ethan Siegel's Spartan cosplay is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as his academic resume. Ethan has a PhD in theoretical astrophysics, writes a monthly column for NASA, and maintains one of the best science blogs out there. Check it out at Starts with a BANG!

Santiago Cirilo, Special Guest of Honor

Special Guest Santiago Cirilo's achievements run the gamut from 101st Airborne Infantry to Special Forces translator to maker of personal guitars for Kid Rock and Keith Urban. Another polymath, Santiago is a skeptic, a voracious reader, and a pursuer of knowledge.

Frank Tuttle, Toastmaster

Doubtlessly added to the list as the result of a clerical error. Frank Tuttle is widely known as 'that guy over there, no wait, not him, the other one.' Frank's writing has appeared in various magazines, usually before they vanished forever without comment. Critical acclaim for Frank's novels would come as a surprise to everyone, including Frank himself. But it must be noted that Frank has procured a sweet hat for the Con. 

Latest Pics of the Steampunk BackPack

Below are the latest shots. Yes, my workbench gets messy when I'm working on a piece. Oddly enough, it stays neat between projects, but this view is the result of hours of work. I could have moved the pack and thrower to the rug for the pic, but Petey was taking a nap and also I am lazy.

That's it for today! Be safe out there people.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rare As Mississippi Snow

Most of you are sick of snow.

So I apologize for posting snow pics. But you see, I live in Mississippi, where snow is a rare event. Snow, like funding for education or low body mass indexes, is a thing that usually happens far, far away from Mississippi.

But last week, it snowed here. We got 4 inches of the frozen white stuff. The town all but shut down for two whole days.

Here is how my wife felt about this rare Mississippi snow.

The author is shown below frolicking, as is the way of his people.

I like the pics above and below because they captured the color of the sky during the snow. Again, that's not something we often see here.

Chief subject-verb agreement dog Lou Ann enjoyed the snow as well, after she gave it a good barking.

Her enthusiasm for the cold white stuff quickly dimmed, though, as evidenced by the stink-eye directed toward Winter shown below:

The snow is gone now, leaving behind nothing but mud, sadly slumping snowmen, and a flurry of auto insurance claims.

MidSouthCon 33 Update

MidSouthCon 33 is fast approaching!

I'm nearly ready. I've done some additional work on my steampunk ghostbuster proton pack, and I've ordered the rest of my Victorian gentleman's ensemble from the Gentleman's Emporium.

Here are the latest proton pack pics. You'll notice a lot of detail work has been added -- mainly in the form of heavy-gauge copper wires and various fittings. I've also got a new light effect, which turned out to be hard to photograph.

See the glowing red copper conduit running from top to bottom? That's the new feature. I took clear plastic tubing and spray-painted it copper. Then I filled it with red EL wiring, and scored the paint on the outside. Under bright room lights, you can't tell it's been scored, since the tubing is clear and all you see is copper. But turn the lights down low and turn the EL wiring on, and the whole thing glows an eerie red. It looks good with the blue glow of the thrower and the round dingus at the bottom of the pack.

If anyone reading this plans on attending MidSouthCon 33, please come find me there! I'll be the guy in the John Bull top hat and the red vest wearing this thing on my back. Come get your picture taken and also help me up from the floor where I have collapsed from the weight of this rig.

Obligatory Book Plug

Now available for pre-order everywhere!

Should I post a brief excerpt?

Yeah, I should.


I woke early, not rested and aching.

I heard Buttercup’s tiny bare banshee feet scamper across my roof. She giggled, and then she was gone.

Darla slumbered at my side. Her hair, black and soft as crow feathers, hung across her face. I brushed it away from her eyes and laid a kiss on her cheek and then slipped out of bed. Cornbread, the shaggy mutt that shares our home, settled into the warm spot I just vacated and wagged his tail once in thanks before snoring off into doggy dreamland.

I dressed in the dark. I tiptoed across the red Balptist rug in the living room with my shoes in my hands, got the door open and shut and locked without making a sound. I know which of the porch floorboards creak, since I loosened the nails myself, so I stepped over them and made it all the way to our waist-high iron gate before pausing to put on my shoes.

I watched my bedroom window. No match flared, no candle came quickly to life. Cornbread obliged me by not barking or scratching at my door.

Buttercup slipped her cold banshee hand into mine. I’m so used to having her sneak up on me I no longer jerk or start.

“Good morning, sweetie,” I whispered. “You’re glowing. Let’s play the hiding game, right now.”

The golden radiance that flowed from her died. She giggled and raised a finger to her lips, as I did the same.

I glanced about at my neighbors’ windows. None were lit.

And even if they had seen, what would they say?

Buttercup tugged at me, pulling in the direction of Cambrit Street, whence lay my office and, I suspected, a plate of Mama Hog’s biscuits and sorghum molasses.

The sun was more than an hour from rising. Curfew was still in effect across Rannit, which meant anyone a peckish halfdead caught outside was fair game for breakfast, and I was standing in the street with both my shoes untied.

But I had a vampire revolver in my right pocket and a ten thousand year-old banshee holding my left hand and I’d walked with the slilth not so long ago.

Boot soles scraped cobbles. My hand found the butt of my revolver.

Buttercup giggled and pointed down the street before vanishing.

A man walked out of the night and into the dim, wobbling glow of a street-lamp.

I relaxed my grip on the revolver, but didn’t pull my hand away. I could tell at once my fellow Curfew-breaker was no halfdead. He shuffled, for one thing, walking slowly while dragging a noisy burden on a wheeled contrivance behind him.

Like any breed of the rich, halfdead seldom roam the streets dragging their own carts. Too, this man’s hat was a shapeless, baggy lump, not one of Breed Street’s crisp starched offerings.

The man saw me, halted, waved.

“Good morning to you, friend,” he said. He pitched his voice carefully, so that it just reached my ears, but wouldn’t carry much further. “Might I inquire as to whether you live hereabouts?”

I wasn’t sure he could see a head-shake, so I took a half dozen steps ahead and spoke.

“Nope,” I replied. “I’m just a man out for a stroll.”

He nodded, smiling. “Well, count your lucky stars, man out for a stroll. They call me Shango. Shango the storm-sniffer. I’ve walked all night, following a stink. And it leads right to yonder door.”

He pointed out the door. Naturally, he pointed out my door.

The spear-ends of shiny steel rods poked through the tarp on his cart, here and there. Some were worked into the shapes of angels. Some as devils. One worked in the shape of a half-moon turned in the dim lamp-light.

I sighed.

“I’m guessing you sell lightning rods,” I said. The Church tried and failed to outlaw lighting rods inside Rannit a few weeks ago, apparently on the basis that the long steel sticks committed the cardinal sin of actually preventing lightning strikes. “Thwarting the will of the Heavens,” cried the priests. “I’ll take two,” cried the homeowners. Now the streets were lousy with lightning rod salesmen.

He shot out of his slouch. “Indeed I do,” he said. “But not ordinary lightning rods. No, friend. I sell the kind of lightning rods even the rich cannot buy.”

“Good for you,” I said. I started walking, hoping he didn’t notice my damned traitor shoe-laces flopping at my heels. “Now if you don’t mind, I always take my breakfast with the Regent.”

He laughed, but he kept the sound low. “Won’t you at least have a look, Mr. Markhat? Won’t you at least have a look?”

I produced my pistol and let him see it.

“I didn’t tell you my name.”

“But I told you mine,” he said. If the thick black bulk of my vampire-built revolver gave him pause, his dirty face didn’t show it. “Shango. I smell storms. I can’t hold back the wind, friend, but I can damn sure turn the lightning.” He nodded back at his cart. “No man should lack protection from the fickle wrath of Heaven.”

“I’ve got all the protection I need.”

“No,” he said. His eyes, which I still hadn’t seen beneath the bill of his pork-pie hat, glittered just for an instant as the moon briefly peeked out from the clouds. “I tell you plain, Mr. Markhat, that you do not.”

“Get out of my way.”

“I’m not what’s in your way, friend,” he said. He stepped aside, sniffing at the air. “I’ll be working these parts for a while, I will. Ask for Shango, should you change your mind. Ask for Shango.”

I put my gun back in my jacket pocket.

About the time the squeak of his cart’s wheels bit into the silence, Buttercup took my hand again.

“Let’s go get some breakfast,” I said, and with Buttercup skipping beside me I walked all the way to Cambrit, without a lightning rod of any kind to guard me from the fickle wrath of Heaven.

...and that's all I'm posting! You can read the whole thing starting April 28. And just so you don't get busy and forget, you can take your click-happy little fingers here and reserve a copy, if you want.

Book Release!

A good friend of mine, Elyse Salpeter, released a new book!

Here's the link. These are great books, check them out!

Final Words

On a sad note indeed, we in the SF/F community lost a legend this week. You know who I mean.

Live long and prosper, my friends.