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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sarah Avery's LiveJournal:

    [ << Previous 20 ]
    Sunday, September 28th, 2014
    4:49 am
    Places To Go, People To See
    I’ll be on the program at Capclave, October 10-12. Capclave is my neighborhood convention now, full of familiar faces.

    I’m participating in the Broad Universe reading at the World Fantasy Convention, November 6-9. World Fantasy is the proverbial big leagues, a professional conference rather than a fan event, full of editors and agents whose names I read in Locus, people who have no reason ever to have heard of me. I am a little daunted. If I am very lucky, my Vortex of Schmooze powers will manifest for the occasion.

    I’ll be the main attraction at a virtual event on Bitten by Books, October 29th. The website folks, my publisher, and I are still working out the details. As soon as there’s more news, I’ll post it. What I do know is that there will be some sort of author chat, interview, and giveaway of books and/or Amazon gift cards. They’ve got a good-sized audience over there, and it’s one I haven’t connected with before. I’m looking forward to it.

    At the moment, it looks like I will not be at Philcon the weekend before Thanksgiving. I live far enough away now that I’d need a hotel room, and I haven’t heard back from the program folks. If the plan changes, I’ll announce it in all the announceable places.

    Meanwhile, here’s what the hardworking volunteers who run programming at Capclave have told me about my schedule for October 10-12:Inline image 1
    Read more...Collapse )
    Thursday, September 25th, 2014
    2:46 am
    Fingers Crossed (Again)
    Every unsold manuscript I’ve got that’s fit for print is out there in somebody’s slush pile right now. Every one — including, through lucky accident, the Big Book. Maybe that’ll be the same old story (We love your book, we dream about your characters at night, but market conditions…). Maybe something new will happen this time. I like imagining that the Grail story getting accepted twice in one month, as an acknowledged reprint for goodness sake, is a sign of things to come. Isn’t it pretty to think so?

    One of my best mentors said this was her secret to shrugging off the rejections: when a rejection comes in, turn the manuscript around within 24 hours and send it to the next market. If your entire inventory is in constant circulation, then no single rejection defines your chances at any given moment. That was my standard procedure before we moved, and now I’m settled into my workspace enough that it can be again.

    The problem with being a long-form writer is, you don’t rack up a lot of items in your inventory. The items may be large, but usually each manuscript can only be in one slush pile at a time. Right now, my total output in salable form is: The Pillar Story, The Battle at Sea Novella, The Street Brawl Story, The Faerie IRS Run Amok Story, “The War of the Wheat Berry Year” (a reprint, my first short story sale to Black Gate), “The Imlen Bastard” (which was forthcoming from Black Gate, but BG’s getting out of the original fiction business before this novella was to reach the front of the queue), and the Big Book. Seven chances for the next reply to be yes. And if the next reply is no, only six floating potentials to fortify me enough to send the rejected manuscript back out.

    Researching fiction markets endlessly, while submitting to none of them, is emotionally much safer than actually submitting stories. Sometimes it feels safer than writing, too. The beauty of researching fiction markets is, you can drag it out forever. By the time you’ve looked into everything on, it’s possible that some of the markets that were closed to submissions now have open reading periods, or that a new editor at this magazine or that press might have changed the submissions guidelines.

    I needed to drive a stake through the heart of that habit. Bang. There. Done.

    See, my younger kid starts preschool in just over a week, and that means two hours a day, four days a week, of fresh-brained morning time on task that I didn’t have before, to add to the hours I’ve been cobbling together late at night. Eight fresh, solitary hours a week is a novel a year, if the novel’s not too long. Or perhaps another trio of Rugosa Coven novellas. Or the Little Book, if I can give my evenings to research. Or revising the Big Book to a publisher’s specifications. I’m trying to maintain flexibility of plan. Right now, Sebastian’s at the front of the queue.

    Whatever I do, I will have the freedom to DO it.

    Clear the decks. Reread Rachel Aaron’s essay on process. Assemble the office supplies, and stock up on coffee pods. Here comes.
    Monday, September 22nd, 2014
    9:37 pm
    That's One Hardworking Little Story

    Fresh from its fundraising stint alongside stories by Jane Yolen and Michael Swanwick, the Grail story found a spot in Fantasy Scroll, a new online magazine. It’s scheduled to appear there in 2015, and I’ll be yawping cheerfully from the rooftops about that when it happens.  The modest proceeds will go the Free Spirit Alliance‘s college scholarship program. The Grail story came to me as a prayer and a gift, so any money it raises goes to charities, foundations, and so forth. As nutty old Ezra Pound put it, “The temple is holy because it is not for sale.” Most of what I write is to further writing as my livelihood, but this one story, well, it’s the temple.

    Sunday, September 14th, 2014
    5:25 am
    Grail Story To Share A Table Of Contents With Jane Yolen
    “Jane Yolen? Jane Yolen!” said Dan as we looked over the table of contents for the Interfictions fundraiser chapbook. “Okay, now I believe it’s really going to happen for you. If you’re in that list of names, you’re on the way to an actual career.”

    I was still spluttering with delight seeing Michael Swanwick down at the bottom of the list and hadn’t quite absorbed the fact of Jane Yolen. Really, every name in the TOC is a wonder, and I’m stunned to be in that company.

    So, the Grail story I wrote as an episodic prayer on my blog back in 2006 when my friend George was in his last days is going to reach a new audience, do a new job. I still plan to self-pub it in paper as a fundraising project for George’s scholarship fund, but that’s taking longer than expected. Meanwhile, it’s going to work with a lot of other people’s stories to help the Interstitial Arts Foundation publish its magazine Interfictions Online.

    Here’s the hitch: I only just found out they’d accepted my story, and the crowdfunding campaign is already closed. So unless you happened to donate already and selected the chapbook as your perk, it’s too late to get a copy. The acceptance email didn’t reach me. If there hadn’t been a major formatting issue they needed to ask me about, they might have gone on assuming I knew I was in, and I might have gone on assuming my story had been turned down. Hooray for formatting glitches!

    I do wish, though, that I had known in time for, say, my parents to get a copy of the e-chapbook. For that matter, I wish I’d known in time for me to help promote the foundation’s fundraiser. They overshot their goal as it was — yay! — but my various friends, relations, and stray readers might have helped them overshoot it by a little more. Ah, well. We take our good news where we can get it. And this is good news by any measure.
    Sunday, August 24th, 2014
    5:31 am
    The Plucky Maiden, The Mercurial Matriarch, And The Precious Ming Vase
    They’re trying so hard to do as much justice to their female characters as their male ones. It almost works. I want to give them medals for how hard they tried, and how close they came to getting it right. No, seriously, I do, in part because I wonder whether I’m as close to getting it right with male characters in my own work.

    David Walton’s Quintessence and M.C. Planck’s Sword of the Bright Lady are fun, fast-paced books that do some fresh things with some classic tropes of both fantasy and science fiction. Quintessence starts with a lovely what-if: How would the Age of Exploration have been different if the world had, in fact, been flat, and if all those places where the maps said “Here there be monsters” actually had monsters in them? There’s a lot of spectacle, and the bestiary is delightful. Sword of the Bright Lady follows the adventures of a mild-mannered mechanical engineer who’s abducted from our world by the war god of another, a god who needs modern help to save a nation of mostly innocent people in a world where feudalism has supernatural underpinnings.

    I liked both books, yet both had problems I could not ignore.

    Walton chose speedy pacing over deep characterization, so most of his characters are from central casting — all but a middle-aged mother, precisely the kind of character who would, a generation ago, have been either conveniently dead and off-stage or a target of ridicule. Instead, she turns out to be the surprising heart of the book. A divided heart, whose struggle drives the action even when she’s absent for chapters at a stretch. Because she has fewer precedents, she’s fresh. If only Walton’s plucky maiden character had been one tenth as vivid and individual as her mother! But we’ve seen plucky maidens before, and Walton’s in a hurry to show you pyrotechnics and sea serpents, so he cuts corners with the character he seems to have intended to be the main protagonist. You can find my full review here.

    Planck’s characterization is much more psychological and varied. His cast of thousands soon comes to feel like a neighborhood the reader lives in, and most of the secondary characters who inhabit it are drawn with clarity and sympathy that increases steadily as the protagonist gets to know them. The women of the alternate universe are all different from each other, with their own respective contributions and preoccupations and stories to tell. Alas, the one woman who drives the hero’s actions most — the wife he left behind in our world, whom he’ll do anything to see again — remains a nonentity. She never appears onstage, but for all the time Christopher spends thinking about her, it’s a problem that we never find out anything about her but the color of her hair. She is functionally indistinguishable from a precious Ming vase. What’s weird about this is that the precious Ming vase problem is common among books and films that don’t come close to Sword of the Bright Lady in quality. How did M.C. Planck, who manifestly knows how to write women well, get stuck in this Hollywood trope? I talk more about this book, and the precious Ming vase phenomenon, in my review here.

    Meanwhile, the books I can’t put down, the ones I won’t be reviewing because the series started too long ago and is already barreling along toward the ranks of the classics, are the first two volumes of Brandon Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archive. Like many fantasy readers, I was initially put off by the sheer bulk of the first volume, and if I’d known that Sanderson intends to make this a ten-volume series, I might never have picked it up. And that would have been my loss. Fortunately for me, the goodie bags at Balticon included free copies of The Way of Kings, and now Dan and I are both hooked. We keep ourselves up until all hours, racing each other through the second volume and gossiping about the characters. I like a book I can wallow in, one that gives the characters hundreds of pages in which to breathe. And though Sanderson shows us plenty of priceless, exotic artifacts, there’s not a precious Ming vase in sight.
    Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
    5:02 am
    A World Without Margot Adler
    There are still the books, of course. And among them THE book. For a few more days, we’ll hear her voice on NPR in her colleagues’ obituaries of her. Many of us will include her likeness on our ancestor altars this Samhain. If you were to count all the people who read and loved Drawing Down the Moon early in their lives as Pagans as descending from her lineage, the people in her downline would number tens of thousands, maybe a hundred thousand. If you counted that way, I’d be one of them.

    Nonetheless, our world is now a world without Margot Adler in it. I only really met her once, yet it’s hard to convey just how disorienting her absence is.I am so grateful to the universe that I got to meet her this past March. I suspected at the time that she’d had cancer — when a person whose signature look for decades has been long, straight, black hair suddenly has a funky, spiky, all-gray pixie cut, I suspect chemo, and she mentioned obliquely that she’d had a health struggle of some kind in the previous year. She was so vital, so funny and smart and real, I speculated that she was already out of danger. Hoped fervently, for reasons large and small. I had some crazy daydream about asking her to blurb my book, but that would have felt like asking the Buddhas of Bamiyan to endorse a breakfast cereal.

    Maybe this is what people feel who got to see the Buddhas of Bamiyan in the last year before they were demolished. Adler was beyond larger than life, into the realms of the monumental. And now she’s a memory.
    Thursday, July 24th, 2014
    8:18 pm
    The Sardinian Watermelon Salad Recipe Everybody Asked For At The Family Reunion
    You look at the list of ingredients and say, "Seriously? That can't possibly work." That was my reaction, too. The first time I tried making it, I was motivated mostly by incredulity, and it turned out to be extraordinary. It's also, as computer professionals would put it, fault tolerant. Vary the amounts, substitute ingredients, omit or set things aside for vegans or folks with nut allergies, and the recipe still holds up. In fact, I don't really keep close track of amounts or proportions anymore, and it turns out fine. The amounts I'm guesstimating below are for a side dish to feed four people.
    Read more...Collapse )
    Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
    2:42 pm
    A Delicious Series You May Have Missed
    I never hear anybody talk about Robert V.S. Redick’s The Chathrand Voyage series, which is weird, because it’s been reviewed enthusiastically pretty much everywhere. Now that the last volume is out, I have reviewed it enthusiastically, myself. Seriously, how can you not love a series whose seafaring human characters consult a scholarly but neurotic shipboard rat on questions of history? Okay, my mom, who is allergic to fantasy literature, might be able to refrain from loving the series, but even she would have to acknowldege that the rodent genius is a charming, tragic, hilarious character.

    For readers who only pick up the first book in a series after the series is safely finished, this is a glorious moment. Four volumes of wild story await you.
    Sunday, July 13th, 2014
    5:02 pm
    What Could Possibly Go Wrong At A Festival?

    Okay, festival-going folks, I need to collect potential incidents for the Sebastian novella. What are the weirdest, most high-stakes, most improbable, most hilarious and/or most dangerous things you’ve seen happen at a festival? What interesting disasters have you seen averted, or had a hand in averting? Please don’t use names or identifying details, because I don’t want to be party to accidentally upsetting, embarrassing, or libeling anyone. I just need some ingredients to zizz together in the Cuisinart of my fictioneering brain so I can make some story pesto. If in doubt, please respond privately.

    Thursday, July 10th, 2014
    3:25 pm
    Returning To The Project Dropped In Favor Of Child Number Two
    Yesterday I finished the novella I had abandoned when my first child was born. “Jodnei’s Revenge, Lizard Rock, Call It What You Will” is spun off from the Big Book, with battles at sea, mysterious blood magic, dynastic intrigue, clever captives, and an earnestly heroic hero who wishes he could force himself to be more devious.

    Today I printed out everything I had of the novella I was just starting when I went into labor with my second child. I brought the manuscript of that one in my hospital bag, too, but Conrad’s birth turned out to be uncommonly hazardous for both parties, and I don’t remember getting any work done while we recovered.

    In memory, the manuscript was a tiny scrap of a draft, maybe five pages of dialogue with a few bullet points about eventual direction. Instead, it turns out I had nearly four times that much material, with a fully sketched out plot structure. Hooray for the me of August 2010.

    Rugosa Book Two, here we come.

    Sebastian’s story has 4,000 words down, with a projected 20,000 words or so to go. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have this one finished before November, in time for Nanowrimo?
    Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
    3:45 pm
    Finished A Manuscript! (And A Long Time Coming)
    The day I went into labor with my older kid, I packed hard copy of my work in progress in my hospital bag. You’re thinking the cosmic joke on me is that I believed I would get any work done on it when I’d just delivered a newborn. But no, the cosmic joke is that I actually did work on than manuscript while I recovered from giving birth to Gareth, and it took me almost seven more years to get the damn thing finished.

    Well, finished it is. I’m giving my beloved critique group one last crack at it, and then it’s off for a big press’s open reading period for novellas. I didn’t set out to become a novella specialist, but it seems to be working out for me. So far, I’ve sold every novella I’ve ever submitted, usually to the first market I subbed them to. Now that I’ve said so out loud, have I jinxed myself?

    Anyhow, today I am a happy writing creature.
    Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
    11:07 pm
    Farewell, For Now, To Homeschooling
    Today I walked my six-year-old to summer school. He was excited to go. He likes his new teacher, though he dislikes having to listen to her -- in almost exactly the way he dislikes having to listen to me. Gareth is not big on having to do anything. For three hours of my morning, that got to be someone else's problem.

    I hired a sitter for my three-year-old and spent those hours writing. Like a person, with a self or something. As if I were actually a whole me even while my children were awake.

    No wonder most parents don't homeschool.

    Oh man, this past year was a rough one for kindergarten.Read more...Collapse )
    Monday, June 23rd, 2014
    5:30 am
    In Which I Get The Kind Of Review I Usually Give, And Give One That Shines
    I confess, I would be even happier if Martha Burns’s “Highly Recommended” verdict applied to the whole book, and not just the middle novella in Tales from Rugosa Coven. But hey, that one novella is still “worth the price of admission.” “Fun” and “insightful” sound pretty good. I’ll take it. Getting reviewed at Tangent Online is lovely. And if the praise comes with caveats, fair’s fair. I often write reviews like that of books I enjoy and admire on the whole but not in all their minute particulars.

    And maybe I should have sequenced the novellas differently. I considered putting them in the order in which I wrote them, so that readers could discover the characters in something like the way I did. Instead, I put them in chronological order for the events within the stories, with the result that the novella I wrote when I knew the least about the characters is the one that gets the last word.

    Burns proposes that I should have put the Ria story first, because its length allows the most relaxed, most accessible way of introducing the ensemble cast to the reader. I hadn’t considered that option. But I will say that several readers who found Jane an immensely sympathetic character when they read “Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply” alone – it was the first of these stories that I wrote — find her much less sympathetic when they read “Atlantis Cranks” right after “And Ria’s from Virgo.” It’ll be a question to return to if these novellas ever see another round of publication after the whole series is finished.

    On a cheerier note, I got to review a book I unabashedly loved over at Black Gate. Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade hit nearly all of my sweet spots. Of all the books written by people who aren’t James Enge over the past three years, this one is probably my favorite. De Castell’s novel is full of swashbuckling, and failed states fallen into warlordism, and warrior-magistrates who put me in mind of my father and his fellow officers of the JAG Corps. Okay, maybe you don’t light up when besieged heroes break into a debate about the rule of law or sing their constitution to its traditional melodies, but I do. And if you don’t, that’s okay, because the sword-fighting scenes rock, and the first-person-smartass narration is endlessly entertaining.
    Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
    12:38 am
    Home From This Year's Big Pagan Festival
    How many years did I dance the fire circle to pray to have children? This year, Gareth was old enough to dance the fire circle with me, and I couldn't stop grinning the whole time. It was raining -- still grinning. The fire circle had to be in its second-best location, on slanted ground, because two days of torrential downpours had washed out the path to the one on even, sandy footing. By the time we staggered back to our cabin, we were muddy to mid-shin and all my leg muscles burned from dancing around on that hill.

    Still grinning.Read more...Collapse )
    Friday, June 6th, 2014
    5:27 am
    Free In Its Entirety For The First Time: Ghost Tour Story
    Baen Books is republishing the issues of its delightful but now-closed magazine arm, Jim Baen’s Universe, and my story, “New Jersey’s Top Ghost Tours Reviewed and Rated,” is one of the sample chapters posted for free. You can find it here. As nice as it would have been if they’d dropped me an email to let me know, I don’t mind coming across it serendipitously right now. I’d been meaning to add some free reads to my website, but didn’t see having the time to fix that soon. So they’ve saved me some work, and made available something lively and polished that I’d kind of stopped thinking about.

    The ghost tour story was the cover piece for the Halloween 2009 issue. You can see the cover art here, and buy a copy of the whole issue if you’re so inclined. It’s weird, in a good way, to remember that I once appeared in a table of contents alongside Mike Resnick and Gregory Benford, but there you see it.

    Man, I had fun writing that story.

    When I’d just left academia to work on the (now trunked) Big Book, my first attempt to get my professional feet under me was the weekend version of Orson Scott Card’s writing boot camp. This was before he became almost as well known for saying problematic things about LGBT people as he is for writing fiction. I had read a lot of his short stories when I was in my teens, and revisited them before I went to his boot camp — they hold up impressively well. It was a mixed experience. On the one hand, Card’s classroom persona was deeply humane and generous. On the other hand, he had such a chip on his shoulder about academia that, when he made offhand comments intended to encourage the kinds of students he most often gets, he conveyed to me that my Ph.D. in English was a huge liability, and for a couple of years afterward I had the impression that I must never mention it among writing and publishing professionals in my chosen genre. Whatever. I got over it.

    Anyhow, Card gave some wonderful writing assignments, the centerpiece of which was to spend at least three hours wandering in the nearest town and come back with several story ideas. We were to talk to whatever locals would talk to us, look at everything we could look at without getting arrested, and produce more good starts to stories than we would probably use. I found a local bar, not yet open at one in the afternoon, whose waitress stood smoking on the front step. She let me in to look around when I told her what I was up to.

    “So, anything happen here that belongs in a work of fiction?”

    “Well, we have a ghost in the attic,” she said. “Ellie, from the Civil War. I’ve never seen her, but the ghost tour guy brings people around for her at Halloween.” There was a ghost tour flier taped to the bar’s window.

    I went back to my dorm room to figure out what would be the most outlandish thing that could possibly happen to a ghost tour operator. The answer turns out to be for the ghosts to unionize.

    I followed Card’s instructions for an outlining exercise, and for a writer who makes different use of outlines than I do, that might have made it easier to write the story. But I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, primarily, so it took me about two more years to finish it, coming back to it in fits and starts when I took breaks from the Big Book and its sequel, Big Book II. It was always a welcome, refreshing change of pace, moving from a sprawling multivolume family saga to a standalone piece I eventually brought in at about 9000 words.

    Every day I worked on the ghost tour story, I laughed. Not all my stuff is like that, but the Rugosa Coven stories are, so I let them cross-pollenate a little. As a result, Bob Baines and his family, from “Closing Arguments,” appear on stage, and Jane, the main character in “Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply,” has a cameo, too.

    My beloved critique group, The Writers of the Weird, workshopped the heck out of this story. In addition, Scott Hungerford and his brilliant but publicity-shy wife both gave me crucial feedback on the ending, through three or maybe more drafts until I got it right. (Scott’s short story in Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic is similarly haunted and hilarious, and you should all rush out and get a copy right now just to read him.)

    I sold “New Jersey’s Top Ghost Tours Reviewed and Rated” to the first place I submitted it to, and the editor, Eric Flint, ran it with no changes. He also wrote me a lovely check for eight cents a word, which bought all the materials to rebuild the big Craftsman style porch on my old house in New Jersey. Thank you, Eric Flint, without whom the eventual sale of that house would probably have been impossible. Oh, and I suddenly qualified for an associate membership in SFWA, which gave me a nice moment of vindication in the morass of self-doubt that is the writing life.

    Welcome back, little story. It’s sweet to see you again.
    Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
    3:35 am
    Goodreads Giveaway: 10 Copies of Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
    If you’d like a chance to win one of the free copies of the anthology I coedited with David Sklar, you can enter the drawing here.

    Here’s something weird: though each of my books has had a giveaway on Goodreads, I’ve never entered for anybody else’s giveaway. A couple of times when guest bloggers at Black Gate have offered a copy of a book, with comments on the post counting as entries, I’ve won books, but entirely by accident — I just had some comment I felt like adding to the conversation. It’s not that I avoid giveaways, just that it doesn’t occur to me to go looking for them.

    So, what do you guys think about book giveaways? I’m especially curious about how Goodreads users think about them.
    Monday, June 2nd, 2014
    6:05 am
    The Laundress Of Westeros Reviews Another Book
    All week, I wait for the new episode of A Game of Thrones, and celebrate it on Sunday by… folding laundry. The laundry is just so bleeping tedious, apparently I can’t force myself to do it unless somebody on my television is hacking with a sword at somebody else. May is gardening season with my mud-loving sons, so thank goodness for the commentary tracks on the Blu-Ray discs of Season One. There just aren’t enough new episodes to keep my family clothed. Were it not for bonus features, we’d all be naked as Daenerys Targaryen.

    If I could read and fold laundry simultaneously, I’d be in fine shape. Lately I’m poking at the pile of reviewers’ copies that writers pressed on me at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and so far the haul is good. It got me Kelly Ann Jacobson’s YA book, Dreamweaver Road, which I reviewed favorably here.
    Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
    4:13 am
    Got A Glowing Review -- Okay, Not Literally Glowing -- In Witches And Pagans Magazine
    Launching two books with two different publishers at the same weekend convention is strenuous — what a great problem to have! In case I topple over before I finish my big post about Balticon, I’m going to show you right now the enthusiastic review of Tales from Rugosa Coven in the new issue of Witches and Pagans. A print magazine that still gets onto newsstands these days has to have something special going for it, and Witches and Pagans is a case in point, so I’m especially pleased to see my book mentioned in their pages. Here’s what their book review by Natalie Zaman had to say:

    Set in my home state of New Jersey (specifically, the upper southern part, that “down the shore” area that spreads across Monmouth and Ocean counties), this novel follows the lives of six modern Pagans and their human otherkin — spouses, lovers, family and coworkers — as they deal with this life, the afterlife, and the facts of life — both mundane and magical. But this isn’t Jersey Shore meets Charmed — not by a long shot.

    Bob, Ria, Jane and company are smart, witty, thinking people who felt very real, right down to the “ritual-in-a-box-Rubbermaid-tub.” Each story features all of the coven members, but focuses on one, which means, hopefully, that Sophie, Amber and Sebastian will have their own adventures in a future volume. They’re an eclectic bunch, with believable lives. This is occult fiction that places Pagan people in the real world, and in the world of Rugosa Coven, being Pagan is normal. Sure there are other characters who raise eyebrows and make hasty exits, but there is an overall feeling of acceptance in this world that, fiction though it may be, is comforting. The realism of person and place made this an enjoyable read.

    In the Author’s Note, Avery says to read the tales in any order — and you can, but I liked the juxtaposition of each story against the next. The first, and my favorite of this collection, “Closing Arguments” focuse on Bob — Wiccan, lawyer, dad, husband (of an understanding Christian woman), and brother to the free-spirited Sophie. He’s in the process of balancing his life in the face of the death of his parents — who maintain their contact from beyond the grave via post-it notes. The plotting loosens up a bit and becomes more character-driven in the subsequent stories, “And Ria Is from Virgo” and “Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply” which focus on Ria (believer and doer of all) and Jane’s (the questioner) inner struggles. Amid the paranormal, esoteric and sometimes fantastical happenings, these characters face their inner demons: OCD, troubled relationships, and addiction. How they deal with these challenges and each other left me rooting for them and wanting more. Weird New Jersey, indeed.

    I’ve been admiring this magazine for years. If Witches and Pagans sounds like your kind of thing, you can find it in the newsstand section at some branches of Barnes & Noble, in many Pagan shops, and online.
    Sunday, May 25th, 2014
    3:04 am
    Book Launch Crawl

    Like a pub crawl, only with books. Now that the Fantastic Books launch for the anthology is at 9pm Sunday in Parlor 1079, I’ll be able to urge the folks at the Dark Quest Books launch, which starts in the Con Suite at 7pm, to follow me over. Everybody wins.

    Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
    4:46 am
    Balticon, Bilocation, And Book Review
    The revised-but-maybe-not-final draft of my Balticon schedule still has me double-booked, with the two book launches overlapping by an hour, and a panel I’ll have to bow out of if it stays in the same time slot. The rest of my schedule appears to be stable so far. When I hear back from the programming folk with something specific, I’ll post an update here. While we all wait, I’ll try to come up with a good punchline involving bilocation. Aside from pointing out that I’m not a likely candidate for Catholic sainthood, not much is coming to me yet about that particular miracle type.

    Meanwhile, The Series Series rolls on at Black Gate, with my review of S.J. Harper’s Cursed. On the upside, Harper’s doing some fairly cool things with some pretty obscure details of Greek mythology, and I did have fun Googling around to see how well the source material was used. On the downside, the book inhabits the paranormal romance subgenre as fully as the cover art might lead you to expect. That’s not a downside for all readers, but it was for me. Maybe it won’t be for you.
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