Sunday in Seattle (I wish…)

Hi, all–

I am a huge fan of Seattle. The Pacific Northwest is one of my fave regions in this country, and I love visiting. Seattle has a great literary and arts scene.

If you’re a writer-type of spec fic — which I am — Clarion West runs an awesome workshop. Here’s some skinny:

The mission of Clarion West is to provide a high quality educational opportunity for writers of speculative fiction at the start of their careers.

Speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and slipstream) gives voice to those who explore societal and technological change along with deeper considerations of underlying archetypes of human experience. Clarion West brings new writers to the field of speculative fiction by providing a venue for a transformative experience in the form of a lengthy and intensive workshop focusing on literary quality, diversity of viewpoints, range of material, and other essential qualities.
source: Clarion West website

Clarion West is also doing a free readings series over the summer.

And because I also write mysteries, you MUST NOT leave Seattle without visiting the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. If you go, ask for Fran. She’ll hook you up with great recommendations and stories as well as local Seattle tips for food and drink. Tell her Andi sent you.

And, if you have time, see if you can catch a reading by Gina Ranalli, a horror/bizarro writer who’s one of my faves in the genre. She’s a local up there, and does events on occasion. Tell her Andi recommended you check out her books.

Oh, and because I’m a freaking music fanatic, stop in at the Experience Music Project museum, which blends creative innovation, technology, and pop culture/music. Awesome.

And yeah, if you’ve never been to Seattle, swing by the Pike Place Market and take a ride up into the Space Needle. TAKE YOUR CAMERA. The views from the Needle are freaking unbelievable. I was at the Pike Place Market a few years back and my shoulder was bugging me from god-knows-what and ta-da the Market had an acupuncturist available and he fixed me right up. Maybe take one of these awesome tours — ghost or true crime (the Pacific Northwest has an…um…interesting true crime history).


Anyway, you can find or see just about anything at the Market. The last time I was there, fellow author Joan Opyr and I managed to end up in a crowd of people intensely interested and sort of tailing after a lesbian BDSM lite couple through the market, dressed in full S/M vinyl regalia (and both looked like freakin’ models), one in red, one in black. One had a studded collar around her neck, the other held the leash. Serious stiletto heel boots. Our conversation went like this:

ME: “Those are great outfits. Seriously.”
JOAN: “I like how they match.”
ME: “The heels on those boots could do some serious damage if she stepped on somebody’s foot. They’re probably also good for squishing bugs in corners.”
JOAN: “Takes real skill to walk in those things. Or wield them like weapons.”
ME: “Takes real skill to dress in that. I’d be better off painting myself red than trying to get in there.”
JOAN: “I’d paint myself black and then we could go out clubbing with them.”
ME: “Cool. But in this town, nobody would notice.”

I freaking LOVE Seattle.

All rightie, happy writing, happy reading, and happy traveling!

Thursday giggles and iconic pizza

Hi, kids! Sorry about that; been a bit under the weather. Caught this awesomely hilarious bit Jon Stewart did about the Donald taking Sarah Palin out for pizza in New York.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, New Yorkers are proprietary about their pizza. And well they should be. There’s a wonderful pizza heritage in New York, and I do think that there is, in fact, something about NYC water that makes the dough as good as it is. A native New Yorker told me that, too.

So it’s no wonder that a New Yorker will want to take you to a New York pizzeria to try the “real deal,” like Lombardi’s, America’s first one. Originally opened in 1897 as a grocery store, it became a pizza joint in 1905 when New York issued mercantile licenses. Though pizza didn’t become really popular in the U.S. until after WWII, Lombardi’s kept on selling until 1984, when it closed but reopened it 10 years later, and the traditions continued.

So here you go. Jon Stewart on New York pizza:

source: The Daily Show

Zombie Apocalypse lore

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite “lore” in the classic sense of the word, but it IS a quirky tale of “life” during the ZA, as captured in haiku by someone who is turning into a zombie and then becomes a zombie.

This clever documentation of the ZA is Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum, published in 2008 by How Books.


Zombie Apocalypse via haiku. Who knew how much fun this could be? For those who don’t know what a haiku is, it’s a form of poetry that is three lines, each line with a designated number of syllables. In this case, 5-7-5. That is, 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third.

So a lovely zombie haiku from the cover of this book is:

Biting into heads
is much harder than it looks.
the skull is feisty.

source: cover of Zombie Haiku

The premise of this collection is clever, as well. It starts with a few lines of description of a survivor of the ZA. He originally started the poetry journal as a way to “capture the beauty of the world” through haiku. But then along comes the ZA and he writes hastily: “To whoever might find this, my name is Chris Lynch, and I’m pretty sure I’m dying. In face, if you are reading this, then I’m probably already dead. Not that anyone will be around to read this…from what I’ve seen, I’d guess this is the end of everything.” So as you start reading the haikus he’s written, it starts out all happy happy joy joy and then you notice he’s documenting the ZA, though he’s not aware that this is the case. He haikus about something in the news that says people are acting weird, but he turns if off. Then,

As I start my car,
my neighbor just keeps staring
and doesn’t wave back.

(p. 7)

He doesn’t realize, even with all the car wrecks and traffic and “drunk guy stumbling into traffic” what’s up. He gets to work, nobody’s there and one of his coworkers is “eating spaghetti in her car without utensils” and she smashes her head through the glass and tries to grab him, with glass sticking out of her neck. Anyway, our hero ends up not so lucky, and in the hands of a zombie mob. You see his metamorphosis through his clever haikus:

My skin is drying,
my veins are much ore pronounced
and I’m turning gray.

(p. 30)

one thing on my mind,
only one thing on my mind.
I’m going to eat you.

(p. 32)

Somehow, this zombie haikus being a zombie, and the illustrations and “dirt” and “blood smears” on the pages only add to the macabre, dark, hilarious fun in this book. The author’s handwriting morphs, too, and you end up seeing the world through the eyes of a zombie, whose haikus are short and sharp, like the staccato bursts of gunfire and the single-minded focus of an eating machine, which is what zombies are.

A seriously fun, clever, and wonderfully twisted book. See the ZA through a zombie’s eyes!

Happy reading, happy surviving!

Vonnegut interviews people he never met

Okay, so I was totally just going to go on off to bed because the ol’ day job kicked my ass today, but I found this awesome bloglink from Brain Pickings and I just HAD to share.

Here’s Brain Picking’s link, BTW.

So I’ll pimp Brain Pickings while I’m at it–irreverent, esoteric, and just a lot of fun stuff over there, like this post: “Kurt Vonnegut’s Fictional Interviews with Luminaries.”

In 1997, iconic writer Kurt Vonnegut pitched an idea to New York public radio station WNYC: He would conduct fictional interview with dead cultural luminaries and ordinary people through controlled near-death experiences courtesy of real-life physician-assisted suicide proponent Dr. Jack Kevorkian, allowing the author to access heaven, converse with his subjects, and leave before it’s too late. The producers loved the idea and Vonnegut churned out a number of 90-second segments “interviewing” anyone from Jesus to Hitler to Isaac Asimov. The interviews — funny, poignant, illuminating, timeless, profoundly human — are collected in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, a fantastic anthology playing on the title of Vonnegut’s 1965 novel, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, some of the best cultural satire of the past century.

Brain Pickings gives you a link to “Letters of Note,” which tells you a bit more. Here. I’ll be totally pimping that site soon!

Anyway, enjoy!

My current whole NM series available as eBooks!


At last, at last! The second and third books in my New Mexico series are available as eBooks! That would be State of Denial and The Ties that Bind. You can get ’em currently at Rainbow eBooks, an awesome venue that carries lots of LGBT titles in digital format, and soon they’ll be available at Bella Books and as Kindle and Nook. I’ll keep you posted on that. Here on my site, just click on “Books” and the title you want and I have links there for all kinds of purchase options.

Or head on over to Rainbow direct from this page. Click here.


Happy reading, whatever your choices!

Zombie-licious tidbit: housing!

Hi, kids! Happy Saturday! So my ever-alert sibling sent me the most awesome link yesterday. It’s the zombie-proof house. OMG.

Here is the link, from All That Is Interesting. (shout-out to ATII!)

And here are a couple of photos, to give you a sense of it all:

When it’s locked down:


Not very appealing, is it? I mean, in terms of zombie-proof-ness, that’s pretty decent. But wouldn’t you love to have a fab living space, too? Well, ta-da!


There’s also a drawbridge between building one and building two (building two houses a swimming pool).

I did a little research, and thanks to ATII, the designers of this “safe house” (probably not intended, necessarily, to fend off zombies but rather warfare or some such) are the firm KWK Promes. This house is located outside Warsaw, Poland. Here’s another link that gives you a ton of info about the house, along with more photos, thumbnail photos, and the plans of the house.

Seriously awes-matic, friends. The house is like a plant. It opens up in the morning and closes up at dusk. CRAZY! I couldn’t find a price for this pup, but at 6100 square feet with all those amenities and fortifications? I’m sure we’re talking serious moolah.

The only drawback to a place like this in a zombie apocalypse is if you don’t have access to food/supply lines. Because sure, the zombies will be gathered outside your giant concrete wall, but who cares? You can pick ’em off at your leisure, I guess (there’s a disgusting, macabre image for you) while your kids are frolicking in the yard or the spouse is taking a few laps in the pool. But again, if you don’t have access to supply lines and no way to get to ’em, the house proves to be a prison as well as a castle.

However, I find myself strangely drawn to this thing. Seriously decorative protection.

There you go! Happy surviving and happy weekend!

Awesome blog alert

Hi, folks–

I like to let people know when 1) I find awesome blogs or 2) I’ve been reading awesome blogs and should share.

This blog/site is in the latter category.

I bring you…


This is 28-year-old awesome Seattle dude Matthew Inman’s fine, fabulous, and frizzacious (no, I don’t know what the hell that is, but it sounds good) musings, sharings, and downright hilarious takes on everything.

Here. Just a few to get you giggly and thinkie. This one is Matthew’s take on 10 commonly misspelled and misused words. Click this. NOW.

High-lair-ee-us take on what it’s like to own an Apple product. Click. Seriously. Just do it.

And important pet tips: How to pet a kitty. Freakin’ click, already! KITTIES!

I love The Oatmeal. I hope you do, too.

Peace out and happy reading, happy writing, happy blogging!

Super cool writing conference

Hey, kids–just some reminders and/or tips for those of you who write or just like to follow writing/writers and find out what the haps are on the various scenes.

Here’s one:

If you are so amazingly fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest, NorWestCon is happening this weekend. That’s the premier sci-fi and fantasy conference up there, and this year the guest of honor is Patricia McKillup, winner of the World Fantasy Award. Also on the docket? Jim Butcher (urban fantasy/paranormal) and Shannon Butcher, who writes romantic suspense and paranormal. Workshops, authors, cool stuff.

Stuff like the Fannish Fetish Fashion show! Costumes galore. How could you NOT want to see this?

Or how about the Paranormal Fair? OMG. The Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research team will be on hand. Plus, tarot, psychics, and shamanism researchers. Something for everyone.

Here’s yer program grid.

I would LOVE to catch this conference, but sadly, it’s out of the realm of possibility this year. Regardless, if you can go, give it a look!

Happy reading, happy writing, happy conferencing!

Mellow Music tip

Hi, folks! Yeah, Sunday I usually do a reading tip, but today I’m working on some editing projects and I like to have some music going for that. Because I’m on a nostalgia kick, I’m here to recommend Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Specifically, their debut album Rattlesnakes.

LC&C formed in 1982 in Glasgow. Between 1984 and 1989, they scored 4 top 20 albums and 5 top 40 singles in the UK. The band broke up in 1989 and Lloyd has been doing some solo stuff. In 2004, they re-formed briefly to do a mini-tour. I had the good fortune to catch LC&C live at a teeny-ass venue in Denver in the fall of 1985. GREAT show. What’s their music like? Think if Chris Isaak went into a pub in a small English village and hung out with John Mellencamp and they got the guitarist from early Wolfgang Press totally stoned and then had a jam session with the Dream Academy.

Rattlesnakes included the hits “Perfect Skin”, “Forest Fire”, and the title track. One of my all-time fave numbers by LC&C is “Forest Fire.” Here it is (not the video! Just listen and feel groovy!):


I love coffee

And writing can help you love it more and even sell it!

Hiya, readers. As some of you know, I’m a coffee nut. I like dark, rich, smoky brews, and when I was living in a tiny town on Colorado’s Western Slope, I found this organo-nature-woo woo food store that carried a variety of coffees from a variety of independent roasting companies. One of those was Raven’s Brew, based in Alaska (but now with a roasting base in Washington state).

Anyway, I discovered “Deadman’s Reach” blend, which is a seriously dark, roasty, smoky blend that Raven’s Brew created that gets the dead up and walking, friends. Look:

How can you NOT want to grind some of these beans right up and brew yourself a cup RIGHT NOW?

But the reason I bring all this up is not necessarily to get you to buy some of the fab coffee from Raven’s Brew (though please, do so if you are so inclined), but to direct your attention to a novelette — a murder mystery — written in honor of Deadman’s Reach coffee. Here’s the first little bit of it:

Chapter One
No More For Me, I’m Dead
“I never thought death would be like this,” Allen thought to himself as he swung his feet out of his body. “It’s like watching a cheap TV with bad reception, only I can still smell the coffee.”

The rain fell like dried beans on his tin roof as it had done in life, and the mold grew in roach-like splotches on the grout around his bathtub as it always had. He was lying on his back in the tub and the slick sliver of green hand soap was safely cupped in its scummy chrome holder. The ring of chalky grime on the porcelain surface was the same as it ever was.

“Man…,” he thought, “I’ve got to clean this place up.”

It was then he noticed that he was standing next to his body looking down at himself and there was blood tracked across the floor. “But first I’ve got to have a cup of that coffee. I’m sure it will make things look better.”

Clever, that novelette. A cool little marketing tool that ended up being kind of fun, kind of macabre, and it involved a yummy coffee. I’m always on the lookout for stuff like that. Fun, quirky, and that ends with the convergence of things I like. So thanks, Raven’s Brew! And yes, I did just order some Deadman’s Reach.

Happy reading, happy writing, happy coffee!