So it’s been an especially busy couple of weeks, and as usual I’m behind in blogging about it. Now I’m finally sitting down and trying to get things up to date.

Norwescon was possibly the most useful and fun con I’ve been to in years. This year I actually sat down with people, attended some practical panels and interacted on a more professional level. Mind you, unlike SOME of my friends, I did not return home with a big-name editor telling me to send my latest manuscript, but it was informative nonetheless. The two big influences at the con were steampunk and urban fantasy, with authors and celebs from both branches attending. I’d always been told that Jim Butcher was a charming gent, and of course he was, gamely attending panel after panel until he was probably as punchy as Rocky in the fifteenth round. Other notables included Kat Richardson and Lou Anders from Pyr books, who both convinced me to buy some new fiction. I just read Jasper Kent’s Twelve, a Napoleonic vampire novel from Pyr and enjoyed it greatly (review forthcoming) and I’ve obtained a copy of Richardson’s Greywalker novel Poltergeist. I also attended, at my best friend Dale’s invitation, a writer’s seminar with John Pitts and Ken Scholes, two hard-working pros, who provided some very useful and commonsense advice for selling and marketing. I ran into my old colleague Raven CS McCracken, game designer and all-purpose lunatic, and chatted with his editor about the ins and outs of marketing e-books. Raven’s participation in the fannish fetish fashion show is probably best left unmentioned, however.

A couple of solid bits of information came out of the con — first, urban fantasy is going to be around for a long time. Sales are strong, new writers are being added, and publishers are still looking for it. That’s encouraging, since I started writing what could now be called urban fantasy about 15 years ago, and I’d hate to finally finish a decent example of the genre only to have the bottom fall out. I also learned that it’s okay to look for publishers and agents at the same time — I kind of figured this was the case, but I wanted to be sure before I forged on.

I also partied a bit too hard, ate too many cookies and drank too much vodka. It took most of the subsequent week to recover fully. I feel fine now, but I don’t think I’ll be indulging quite so heavily again for a long time.

After the con and about a week of recuperation we attended a concert by South Africa’s Johnny Clegg, my favorite artist of all time, aka Le Zoulu Blanc, bringing his world-beat, Afro-celtic sound to Portland, along with a band of new and old members. For those not familiar with the man, drop everything, go to youtube, and enter “Johnny Clegg.” If you aren’t moved by what you hear, and at least one of the songs doesn’t make you want to get up and dance, turn in your membership card, cuz you ain’t got soul. Here’s a man who has endured arrest, persecution, the death of close friends, violence and tragedy and still carries on with a message of hope and brotherhood.

I finally got my tax refunds, and used them to pay for a hotel at Gencon, a new keyboard amp/monitor and finally pay off our new Roland/Juno keyboard for Rhia. My final indulgence was a Nook e-book reader, for a technology that I have wholeheartedly embraced (witness my plugs for my ebooks) and at the same time hold mixed feelings for. As I noted over on Facebook, a “real” book doesn’t run out of batteries, it doesn’t require an extended warranty, doesn’t need a proprietary USB cable that costs $15 to replace, doesn’t need a wireless connection, can’t be remotely analyzed or viewed by a corporation, can’t be removed from your library should legal problems arise, etc., etc. On the other hand, you can carry 500 books on your e-book reader. On the other other hand, when was the last time you needed to carry around 500 books? Still, there are distinct advantages to the e-book, and I’m mostly feeling grouchy about it since I left my charger cable at work and can’t get it back until Monday.

So I’m hoping to do a couple of things over the next week — I’m going to do a writeup on the Wulf novels I’ve e-pubbed, a preview of the next two Wulf stories, a short review of “Twelve” and my thoughts on the new “Game of Thrones” HBO series, since I had a role in working on the new roleplaying game version from Green Ronin. Hopefully I’ll fit that in around our band’s first recording session — I’ll also write that up and post the resulting MP3’s here for the general public’s consumption. Hang in there — there’s lots more to come.

And for the record, I’m on Netflix right now rewatching Cobra with Sly Stallone, one of the most abysmal and boring of the 1980s’ crop of what I like to call “Fascist Cop” movies. You know the type — tough and honest cop gets the baddies by bending the rules but is straitjacketed by his liberal superiors, permissive judges, bleeding heart lawyers, left-wing media types and their concern for annoying things like “rights” and “due process.” If only, these movies tell us, those damned limp-wristed pansy-ass civil liberties types would just let cops kill anyone they want to, why then crime would be eliminated overnight… Ah, the 80s… Sometimes I miss you and sometimes I don’t.


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