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).


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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!

Another Sunday Readin’ Tip

Hey, kids. I recently blogged over at my other haunt, Women and Words, about “gambling.” That is, taking a gamble on writing and reading genres you don’t normally write or read. To that end, today’s tip is about just that.

Now, I normally don’t read horror or the genre known as “Bizarro,” but I met an author who writes in those genres, so I decided to read some of her work. For those not in the know, Bizarro is a mixture of the absurd, outlandish, nutso, crazy, on the edge (and often over the edge) satire. Some of it can be foul, sexist, raunchy, ribald, and downright offensive to virtually all sensibilities. Think literary Dada. Not sure what Dada is? Here’s a great definition from the National Gallery of Art:

Dada blasted onto the scene in 1916 with ear-splitting enthusiasm: rowdy, brazen, irreverent, and assaulting. Its sounds were clamorous, its visions were shocking, and its language was explosive. Yet Dada was not aimless anarchy. Rather, the artists were responding to the violence and trauma of World War I—and to the shock of modernity more generally—by developing shock tactics of their own.

That’s kind of how you might think about Bizarro. You could read it as a response to this freaky, modernized, consumer-ridden culture in which we currently exist.

So the author in question whose stuff I decided to read is Gina Ranalli, and you can find her here, at her website, and on Facebook. So I’ll totally promote one of her books here, which is Suicide Girls in the Afterlife.

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Here’s the synopsis:

What if you killed yourself and discovered that the “Afterlife” might actually suck? Pogue Eldridge is a woman who does just that, and she starts to realize that this Afterlife stuff isn’t at all what she expected. First, she’s required to stay on a specific floor at the Sterling Hotel until renovations in Hell and Heaven are completed. That’s the rules. Second, she can’t go up to the nice floors where all the rich people are. More rules. And third, the food isn’t that great, and there’s nothing to do. Death imitating life? Pogue thinks so, and along with 15-year-old Katina, who died of a drug overdose (another form of suicide), they decide to go exploring, and bring along some of the others they’ve met. But because of the rules, they can only go down in the hotel elevator. And once they’re in Hell, they can’t leave unless “Lucy” decides they can. Join Pogue and her companions on a seriously twisted, often funny, and macabre trip through the Afterlife, where a Goth Lucifer suffers from depression, Jesus plays video games and smokes way too much pot, and Hell truly is a crappy place to be.

There you go. It’s available in paper and on Kindle, and if you’re looking to stretch your horizons a bit into a genre that often flips things completely around, Ranalli is a great place to start. She effectively combines horror with the hilariously bizarre, all with a sly little wink at the reader, and she makes you think about what it means to be human, and how completely freaky the world actually is. Thanks, G! 8) And if you’re interested in more of her stuff, she has an author page on Amazon and as I said before, you can find her on Facebook.

Happy reading!