Monday, November 21, 2011

I've Joined the Twitterverse

For some time, I’ve been under pressure to Tweet. It’s apparently not enough to Facebook, blog, webpage, and email.
I resisted. I’m a fantasy writer. 140 characters is too small a space to turn around in.
The Twitterati persisted. “It’s really quick and really fun and really viral,” they said.
Really? I thought. Let’s just see who’s on there.
When I looked into it several years ago, it seemed like Twitter Literary was mostly librarians, language arts teachers, agents, editors, and writers avoiding their deadlines. Not so many teenagers, save the odd book blogger. 
“My audience isn’t on Twitter,” I said smugly. And put it into the old, “one day you’ll have time for this” file. Which usually means, “I’ll adopt this just as everyone else is departing for the next techstination.”
Facebook was like that. By the time I was on Facebook, your grandmother was pestering you with friend requests.  
While I dawdled, the Twittervirus sent its tentacles into every corner of my life. The cool writers became @libbabray, @sarahdessen, @realjohngreen, @neilhimself--even @SalmanRushdie--while I languished in digital darkness. 
I’d sit on author panels while everyone else—including my fellow panelists—tweeted away. I’d say something—anything—and hear people in the audience tapping on tiny keyboards. And I wondered—are they tweeting what I just said, or are they just checking email? 
So I’m at the World Fantasy Con, where @neilhimself is the guest of honor, and I’m hanging with awesome writers like @hollyblack, @cindypon, @malindalo, @kehealey, and @gregvaneekhout, and the topic of Twitter comes up. And I’m all, “That’s it, I’m going to do it, I’m going to get on Twitter.”
“You already are,” @cindypon says.
“No, I’m not,” I say.
“You have 80 followers,” @cindypon says. “@cindachima, I’ve been tweeting you all during the con.”
“Have not.”
“Have. @hollyblack has, too.”
Huh, I think. Maybe at some point in the past, in a frenzy of social networking guilt, I signed up.
“Um. Have I ever Tweeted?” I ask humbly.
“No,” @cindypon said.
“Oh, no,” I say. “You must think I’m stuck-up. Or I have nothing to say!”
“We just figured you were squatting on the site to keep anyone else from taking it.”
“Right. That’s exactly what I was doing. But now I’m really going to Tweet. And follow some people. And maybe create some tiny urls.”
I try every email and password I’ve ever used, and I cannot get into the @cindachima account. I keep trying until they lock me out.
I send a trouble ticket to Twitter. No dice. Unless I have the email address or password, I cannot access the account.
For over a week, every time an old password surfaces in my mental files, I hurry back to Twitter and try to get in. No luck.
Well, I think. I can always set up the @realcindachima account. And then tweet to whoever stole my @cindachima account. I’ll just give them a good scolding in 140 characters or less.
Then my agent emails me. He’s in LA, visiting with our film agent.
 Oh, by the way, Vince saw that @cindachima was available on Twitter, and he snagged it for you a while ago. Do you want it?
So now I’m in. I’ve set up my profile, and I’m following a few people (always seems stalkerish, but I guess being followed is a good thing in Twitterworld. I’ve Tweeted, re-Tweeted, and created a tiny URL.
Hey! Where did everybody go?
I tweet @cindachima.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Now Autumn Burns

“Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt.”—William Allingham

“Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.”—Faith Baldwin

 “Why is it always fire?”—Han Alister, The Crimson Crown

On Sunday, it was blustery and warm, so we decided to take a hike, reasoning, as we do on every fine autumn day, that it might be the last of the season.
We drove up to North Chagrin Reservation, one of the Cleveland Metroparks, to join a walk along Beechnut Fox Trail with Mindy, a Metroparks naturalist.
Along the way, we saw wooly aphids clinging to a tree—bits of fluff that wriggle in an uncanny, rather creepy fashion.
Mindy pointed out “hickory drops,” parasitic wildflowers that grow on hickory roots. And we spotted a large, rather obscene burl on one tree.
After the organized walk, we decided to hike further on our own. Mindy suggested the Sylvan and Overlook Trails, which wind through A.B. Williams Woods, a first-growth forest named for the region’s first naturalist.
We scuffed through beech leaves, threading our way between towering red oaks, past the ruins of a nature center struck by lightning decades ago. We spotted a doe grazing along the trail. She didn’t seem particularly worried by our presence.

As dusk grayed the greens and browns of the autumn woods, the trail angled along a peninsula overlooking a deep ravine.
We looked down, and saw flames—like an angry, infected wound in the dark flesh of the woods.
We stared, open-mouthed for a long moment.  The flames swept outward in a large circle, driven by the fitful winds. It mostly grazed on the leaf litter on the forest floor, occasionally sending sparks into the treetops.
Possibilities stumbled through my mind. Was it some kind of bonfire, or circle of bonfires? Druids? Wizards? Underage drinkers?
I pulled out my cellphone and called the Nature Center.
“Hi. Um, we were just on the autumn hike. And now we’re on the Sylvan Trail and there’s a big fire.”
I explained it all to Tracy, the other naturalist, and she called Ranger Dispatch. We hiked back to the trailhead to meet the ranger. Meanwhile, Mindy hiked down to where we had spotted the fire.
All the way back along the trail, the ranger kept saying, “How much farther is it?” and “Do you think it’ll go out on its own?”
When he saw it, he said, “I’ll go call the fire department.”
My husband and I hung out with Mindy at the top of the ravine, waiting for reinforcements, feeling helpless since we had no water, no foam--nothing to put it out with. When the wind died, the flames would crouch low, dying in the sodden leaves at the bottom of the creekbed. When the wind picked up, the flames would roar up the ravine. It expanded significantly while we watched.
A panicked squirrel raced past me, and I kept thinking of the forest fire in Bambi.
Soon, we heard sirens all around us, and Mindy updated the firefighters via her cell phone. We saw emergency lights flashing on Chagrin River Road, across the ravine. But nobody could figure out how to bring any equipment close enough to work the fire.
And then, blessedly, the wind died. By now it was full dark.
Eventually, we saw flashlights, and heard the crackle of radios as fire fighters worked their way through the woods toward us. 
“Are you all right?” they called.
“We’re fine,” we said. “We’re glad you’re here.”
It didn’t take long for the Willoughby Eastlake firefighters to smother the flames on our side of the ravine. They were still working the fire along Chagrin River Road when we left. The firefighters loaned us a flashlight so we could find our way back to the trail.
The firefighters suspected arson. There had been several suspicious fires in the reservation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How We Celebrate Hallowe'en Around Here--The Pumpkin Roll

After I moved to this quirky town, the natives told me about certain seasonal rituals. The spring Bacchanalia is known as Blossom Time—a three-day party that happens every Memorial Day weekend.
That first Memorial Day, I found out that this town knows how to throw a party.
The fall ritual is known as The Pumpkin Roll, and it happens—well—it’s a secret.
“What do you mean, it’s a secret?” I asked, instantly intrigued.
“Well,” my informant said, “It’s unsanctioned.”
“Unsanctioned? Why? What is it? Who does it?” I persisted.
She leaned closer. “On a secret night around Hallowe’en time, the junior and senior classes at the high school bring hundreds of pumpkins to the top of Grove Hill, smash them on the roadway, and then slide down on the pumpkin guts.”
“They do not!” I said.
“They do.  It makes a huge mess.”
            “That’s awful,” I said, thinking, That’s awesome! “Um. Where do they get the pumpkins?”
“They steal them. They call it ‘pumpkining.’ Around here, you have to watch your pumpkins.” 
I needed the down-low, so I got online.
According to Wikipedia, the tradition began in 1909 as a “dump and run,” but has evolved into a more elaborate event, beginning with a party in a barn. In 2005, a record 22,000 pumpkins were smashed on the hill, which made me wonder who counted them. Police interference has had little effect over the years, though students caught stealing pumpkins are arrested. There’s considerable underage drinking, numerous injuries, but there have been only three deaths. 
It sounded like sort of a local “running of the bulls.” Planned by teenagers.

I am amazed, delighted, and appalled, all at once. How could such an event keep happening, at a time when helicopter parents drive their children to the bus stop?
Me, I was determined to be on scene for the roll.
As the trees turned to red and gold, I noticed that the local greenhouse offered “Pumpkin insurance.” If you bought a pumpkin from them, and it was stolen, they would replace it. Once.
At the annual October cleanup, the ladies on the Beautification Committee were already complaining about stolen pumpkins.
“They stole them right off my porch,” one woman said. “That’s twice now. I’m not buying more.”
“That’s terrible,” I said. “Um. When’s the pumpkin roll?”
They stared at me. “It’s a secret,” they said.
“How can I find out? I—ah—want to know when it’s safe to put my pumpkins out again.”
“Maybe you could ask somebody at the high school,” they say, edging away from me.
When I left for San Diego for the World Fantasy Convention, I warned my husband, “Keep an eye out for the pumpkin roll.”
“When is it?”
“It’s a secret.”
Naturally, the pumpkin roll happened while I was in San Diego. There was a photo in the local paper. Somebody tipped the media, obviously.

So I’m down at the salon and Hannah is cutting my hair and I mention the pumpkin roll.
“I was there!” she said. “It was awesome, because nobody got hurt this year. I always go and try and look out for the kids.”
“Have you…actually participated?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. “When I was in high school. I got pretty badly hurt.”
“I was walking back up the hill, and these guys were coming down and wiped me out and I hit my head on the pavement and they had to take me away in an ambulance,” Hannah said cheerfully.
“And this is…a fond memory for you?” I ask cautiously.
“Oh, yeah,” she said. “I was the only one sober. Doesn’t it just figure?”
It does.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Meet me at Buckeye Bookfair in Wooster, OH This Weekend!

Buckeye Bookfair
November 5, 2011, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Fisher auditorium
Wooster, OH

Hope you can come out for my last Gray Wolf Throne event before I buckle down and get me some writing done.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My father was a truck driver—he drove thousands of miles during his driving career—maybe millions.
He knew that the road can be a scary, unpredictable place—a mental and physical minefield. He developed strong opinions about road food. There were truck stops and cafes he frequented, because he knew the food was good and the coffee was hot and black and served up in bottomless cups. He drove and drank coffee and smoked unfiltered Chesterfields, in an ongoing duel between nicotine and caffeine.
Me, I don’t use nicotine—but I’m like my father in other ways. Caffeine is important to me—especially when I’m on the road, and time changes and exhaustion require a boost from my drug of choice. I’m not someone to swill down energy drinks or stimulant pills—I prefer my caffeine delivered in coffee, iced tea, or Coke Zero. Diet Pepsi in a pinch.
To be precise—I mean fresh, high quality coffee with real cream or milk (no sugar,) brewed (non instant) unsweetened iced tea, and Coke Zero in a bottle (no fountain drinks, please.) When I’m in a hotel, I like a little refrigerator to keep my Coke Zero in.And I'd love to pour it into a real glass.
Is that too much to ask? Apparently so. 
Well, in at least one hotel I stayed in, it seems you can special-order a glass. 
I hate those hotel mini-bars that are designed to keep you from putting any of your own stuff into them. In case you don’t get it, they usually carry strident warning signs—“Don’t even think of putting any of YOUR stuff in here. And if you touch any of OUR stuff, you WILL BE CHARGED.”

You know they know what you want—that’s why they have that sign. And typically all the food in the mini-bar is laden with sugar, salt, and fat, and the beverages are too expensive.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Some hotels have figured it out.

I love having a coffee maker in my room—it allows me to take a caffeine hit before I meet the public—which is good for both me and the public. But sometimes you’re better off doing without.
I don’t care for Styrofoam cups—I can’t help but imagine the foam dissolving into my coffee, creating a chemical cocktail. And I despise those little condiment packs with the powdered creamer. Read the ingredients sometime if you want to make your heart go pitter-pat. Stir that into your coffee and the grayish scum result is hardly appealing.

Many in-room coffee-makers brew a cup at a time while producing a mountain of packaging debris. 

Want to heat up your coffee? You have to make another cup. They know it’s annoying—that’s why they have the little sign.

Does that remind you at all of this?

There seems to be a decaffeination trend in the Denver and San Francisco airports. Last time I was there, all the coolers in the gift shops and newsstands contained bottled water and fruit juice. 

Maybe it’s part of some kind of health initiative, but I noticed that the Ghirardelli and ice cream and deep fried food vendors were all still there. 
Never mind that the fruit juice is full of sugar and calories that I don’t need. I had to walk from shop to shop to shop to finally locate pop in bottles.
As if life on the road isn’t hard enough!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sign Up Here for Email Updates About Me and My Books!

I often hear from readers who've missed some critical bit of news--for example, that I'm visiting their town. Or I've just signed a deal for two more Heir books. Or that there are actually FOUR books in the Seven Realms series instead of three. Or there's an opportunity to win free books or other swag.
And people ask me: Couldn't you email me when your next book comes out?

Well, I have trouble keeping track of family birthdays, so you know I'm unreliable when it comes to notifying thousands of people.
GoogleGroups to the rescue! If you'd like to receive occasional updates (I'm thinking 3 or 4 times a month) about author events, honors, new releases, movie rumors--whatever--you can sign up for my Google mailing list.
See the sign-up box on the upper right!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Interview and Fantasy Writing Workshop

Here I'm interviewed by Bill Kenower of Author Magazine at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA.

October 20, 2011 6-8 p.m.

There's still time to sign up for a free fantasy writing workshop at the Chagrin Falls Library.
More info is here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back Home Again--But More Events To Come in October!

Well, the official Gray Wolf Throne tour is history. The laundry is in the hamper, and the suitcase is back in the closet for now.
I had great intentions of blogging/posting every day, but some of that foundered on the rocks of reality. Many nights I returned to the hotel at 10 p.m., sat down at the computer, and immediately fell asleep in my chair.  
It was wonderful to see so many of my online friends in person. Thank you to everyone who turned out along the way—you rock!! You’ll find photos of many of the events on my website here  (scroll down to past events.) Thanks to the Webmaster for getting everything posted up so promptly!
I have some exciting events coming up in October—from local gigs in Ohio to appearances in Spartanburg, SC and the San Diego area. Hope to see you at one of these!
Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library
Magic on the Page: Writing Young Adult Fantasy
Tuesday, October 4, 2011, 7 p.m.
3512 Darrow Road Stow, OH 44224

OELMA Annual Conference
Ohio Educational Library Media Association

October 13-14, 2011
Columbus, OH Convention Center

Spartanburg Teen Reading Festival
Teencentric 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cuyahoga County Library Chagrin Falls Branch
Writing Workshop: Worldbuilding, Elements of Fantasy Writing
October 20, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
100 East Orange Street
Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022-2799
phone 440-247-3556

Books by the Banks Bookfest
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Duke Energy Convention Center

Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Oceanside, CA
Author Reading and Signing Event
With Cinda Williams Chima, Garth Nix, and Sean Williams

Wednesday, October 26, 2011, 6-8 p.m.
El Camino North Shopping Center
2615 Vista Way
Oceanside, CA 92054

Diversity in YA Signing Event
with Cindy Pon, Holly Black, Malinda Lo, Greg van Eekhout, Paolo Bacigalupi and Karen Healey
Thursday, October 27, 2011, 7 p.m.
The Poway Library
13137 Poway Rd.
Poway, CA 92064
Library website:
Diversity in YA Website

World Fantasy Convention
October 27-31, 2011
Town and Country Resort and Convention Center
500 Hotel Circle North
San Diego, CA 92108

Sunday, September 18, 2011


 WHEN: Monday, September 19, 6 p.m.
 WHERE:  471 E. Douglas Av., Wichita, KS
 CONTACT: (316) 682-1181 

I am on the ground in Wichita. I've already taken a walk along the river, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with book-lovers here.

The Revised Website: Take A Walk Around!

In collusion with the Webmaster, I’ve been making changes to my author website, based on reader feedback. I’ve added lots of new content, geared to the kinds of questions I usually get. Hopefully this will make it easier to find answers to questions, whether you are an interested reader, or you’re working on a book report or school project.
I hope you’ll like what you see. Let’s take a look!
Reminder: you may need to refresh your screen in order to see the changes.
·  Books pages: Now that I have two series going, I’ve organized content about them under two buttons: Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles. That should make it easier to find information about the series you’re currently reading. You’ll see information on the fourth book in the Seven Realms series, due to come out in fall, 2012! 
Anthologies/Nonfiction: I’ve added a page specific to Anthologies/Nonfiction to showcase my shorter work. And taken down the links to my nutrition articles. 
   Contact Page: reorganized with links to content that will help you find the information you’re looking for
FAQ: The FAQ pages has been reorganized and the questions grouped and linked so you can actually find the answer, if it’s there. 
   Signings and Appearances: Want to know where I’ll be? Questions about inviting me to your school or library? You’ll find all the information here. 
Help for Writers: Expanded, including a FAQ for Writers page. Many of the questions I get are about the writing process, publishing, etc. Hopefully this will be a resource for my present and future competitors. 
Teachers/Librarians/Students: I also get many questions related to book reports, school projects, academic competitions, and the like. I’ve posted a new section including FAQ for School Projects, discussion guides for the Heir Chronicles, and an extended bio for those for whom the brief bio just isn’t enough!
I hope you like the changes—as always, let me know

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's Seven Realms Week at Emily's Reading Room!

Emily is collaborating with the Provo City Library  to sponsor contests and events to celebrate my upcoming appearance at the library Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Download avatars and show your support for the warring factions in the Fells—the wizards, the clans, or the queen’s guard. 

They will be giving away TWO signed sets of the Seven Realms books.
Want details? Get them at Emily's Reading Room.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

After 9/11: First Night Akron 12/31/2001

The bubble machine on the stage spun out clouds of bubbles that descended gently on the crowd. And the bubbles were actually freezing in the breathless cold. They would break, and collapse, but spiral down, like deflated balloons of spun sugar, to be collected on the palm and shrivel and disappear at the touch of a warm breath. By now, the strollers were gone, but school-age children who were up too late were laughing and chasing after them, and twirling to make themselves dizzy, and feeling like they were getting away with something. We all, all were getting away with something on that night.
At New Year’s my Cleveland area family joined the First Night celebration in Akron, one of many held around the country. There was a question as to whether people would actually turn out to greet the new year, given the terrible events so fresh and present in our common mind. It was a time for people to hide in their houses, to stay close by the hearth and bar the door against the terror outside. Yet we went out among the hardy people who braved the cold darkness, and the late hour, and anthrax, and car bombs and the memory of September 11 to gather together to welcome in a new year.
There were venues all over downtown, with music, and dance, and drama, and storytelling, ice sculpture and juggling and magic. The four of us walked and rode busses, joined the crowds collecting on the corners and the bus stops. People were swathed in hoods and scarves and parkas and gloves, babies riding around in little bubbles, their strollers covered over with plastic to keep out the cold. Music and light spilled from doorways into the night. We saw a blues band, and an Irish folk band, and sandcastle builders, Fret Daddies with flying fingers and other builders of dreams.
Men walked around with crowns of balloons on their heads, and women with illuminated roses in their hands, and people of both sexes and all ages with necklaces and bracelets and wands of light, blowing horns and generally making noise.
Towards the end of the evening we arrived at E.J. Thomas Hall and climbed the long, winding staircases in time to hear the University of Akron steel drum band play Auld Lang Zyne, a world music commemoration of things passing away. And, finally, close to midnight, we walked down to Canal Park, where fireworks were to be launched. The time and the countdown were displayed one wall of the stadium. We looked up at the time and temperature sign on the Beacon Journal, and it was 12 degrees, and then 11, doing a frigid countdown of its own. Music blasted from the amplifiers, and I swayed to the music and sang old rock and roll songs and embarrassed my children, which is a parent’s privilege and only revenge.
There were politicians and speeches. Akron congratulated itself for buying fire trucks and ambulances for the New York City Fire Department. More money raised per capita than any other city, the speakers announced, and the crowd cheered.
It is easy to understand why the Druids built bonfires to their gods in the cold, dark midwinter, despairing that the sun has gone and will never come again. For I despair also, when the lighted space of days is measured in just a few hours, and the night is a long mystery. That is when the cold leaks into bones and souls and the demons crowd around, just outside the circle of firelight. The ground is brittle and breaking underfoot, frozen ash, and it is beyond imagination that life and hope could push through it once more. It is then that we need the Midwinter revels.
I am not a sucker for the forced and desperate merriment of New Year’s Eve, or forced and desperate patriotism, but I am easily seduced by magic, and it was a magical night.
And we counted down together, and the light show began, shimmering showers of silver and gold and red and green and blue, lop sided and symmetrical, whistling rockets and Roman candles, a meteor shower to end the year. We thrust our collective fists of light into the winter darkness. The light will come again. We are not afraid of the dark, we shouted. We are not afraid.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Meet Me at Elyria Public Library Saturday, September 10!

Tomorrow (Saturday) I'll be at the Elyria Public Library West River Branch for a presentation, book sale, and signing. Hope you can come out.

Elyria Public Library West River Branch
Magic on the Page: Writing Young Adult Fantasy
Saturday, September 10, 1 p.m.
1194 West River Rd.
North Elyria, Ohio 44035

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Out in the Blogosphere

@Your Library (the campaign for libraries) has posted my op-ed piece on the value of libraries here.

The awesome Cindy Pon has interviewed me over at The Enchanted Inkpot here

Today I’m also guest  posting over at GreenBeanTeenQueen on the topic of Magic. Here's a taste!
Magic 101
Magic is the element that distinguishes fantasy from other types of fiction. But what is magic? And how much of it do you need to call your work a fantasy? What are the keys to developing a coherent magical system of your own?

First and foremost, remember that there are more similarities than differences between fantasy fiction and other genres. Successful fantasy fiction has to nail the other elements common to fiction—character, setting, and plot. It doesn’t matter how spectacular your magical fireworks—they won’t save a lame story starring one-dimensional characters. Well-written fantasy should be accessible even to those who don’t generally seek it out.

Magic is a term used for the supernatural—events and beings outside of natural law as we understand it. As far as we know, people cannot turn invisible (though I understand they’re working on that.) As far as we know, people cannot fly without benefit of airplanes, helicopters, and the like. As far as we know, people cannot predict the future.

A well-conceived magical system will enhance your story and provide endless options for complicating your characters’ lives. A poorly-conceived system will give you fits through the entire story arc and cause readers to lose confidence. So it makes sense to take some time and do it right up front.

Questions to Consider in Magical Worldbuilding
Read the rest here

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dragon*Con 2011

Dragon*Con 2011 is over—but the memories will linger for a long, long time.
For the uninitiated, Dragon*Con is a kind of Mardis Gras for creatives, geeks, gamers, role players, artists, writers, musicians, costumers, bikers, and other misfits. Every Labor Day weekend, a counter-cultural tidal wave rolls over downtown Atlanta and it’s get on the bus or get out of the way.
This was the 25th Anniversary of Dragon*Con—but my first visit. Last Labor Day weekend, I was in the Atlanta area for the Decatur Bookfest, and I kept hearing rumors about what was going down in the city. I talked to a couple of writers who were doing both events. And I thought—hmm. Would I fit in there? Would Dragon*Con be a good gig for me?
And so I completed an extensive online form and qualified to be a guest of the con. I managed to get a room at the Sheraton—one of the headquarters hotels. I wanted to make the most of my visit, and so I volunteered for several fan tracks—the Writer’s Track, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Track, and the YA Lit track.
Be careful what you wish for. I ended up on 6 panels, with a reading and signing to boot. As my agent said, “Have fun working like a farm animal.”
My first glimpse of the Dragon hordes was outside the Sheraton hotel, where a line snaked miles down the street in the Atlanta heat—waiting for registration. There was a line like that at each and every headquarters hotel.
In the entrance of the hotel, I met Arkeda, a World of Warcraft character, who gave me a quest. When I fulfilled it, she gave me silver and a heartstone—to lead me back home. I palmed the heartstone, glad I had a talisman in case I lost my way. 

Most of the action took place in a trio of hotels connected by walkway umbilical cords—the Hyatt, the Marriott, and the Hilton. Hotel lobbies and common areas became stages on which costumed performers flaunted their brilliant plumage.
It’s all about context. There were so few “civilians” that before long those of us who were out of costume began to wish for the anonymity of headgear. As my son said, “For the first time in my life I felt like I wasn’t nerdy enough.”
I encountered a middle-aged couple in the corridor of the hotel. “Are you one of those ‘dragon people’?” they asked nervously.
“Yes, I am,” I said.
My son met me there, to help me schlep books around, and to be my guide to popular culture.
Here are a few photos from around the con.

And here are some of my panels.


 We went to the dealer’s room, where there were more than seven booths selling corsets! No wonder every other person had one on—even some of the men.

Ah, Dragon*Con—the place where highly diverse people can find their posses.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Seven Realms Book Trailer!

Right here, right now!! The awesome Seven Realms trailer featuring original music by James Rotondi. Hope you love it as much as I do! View it here

Are You an Ohio Teen? Vote for Your Favorite Book NOW at!

Five awesome books have been nominated for the Buckeye Book Award, including The Exiled Queen!!!
This award is unique, because the award winner is nominated and then chosen by teens themselves.  To vote, ask your language arts teacher or librarian how to vote in class or go to the Buckeye Teen Book Award Website from September 1 to November 10!

Vote For Your Favorite NOW at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Worldbuilding--It's More Than A Map

Today I'm guest blogging over at The Story Siren. on the topic of World Building.

The term “worldbuilding” is often associated with fantasy fiction, because fantasy writers have so many options when it comes to setting.

Yet all novelists engage in worldbuilding, even for stories set in the so-called “real world.” My Heir Chronicles contemporary fantasy series is set in Ohio. Yes, there’s less ‘splainin’ to do about a contemporary Midwestern world, but I can’t assume that all of my readers have been here. And even if they have, it’s detail and specificity that will bring them back.

Also accuracy. If you get something wrong in a real-world setting, you will receive emails. Any reader who spots an error will be thrown completely out of the story and spend the rest of the book looking for the next mistake. Whether you write contemporary real-world fiction or epic fantasy, the reader must have confidence that you know what you’re doing.

Although I’ve been to most of the settings used in The Heir Chronicles, I still spent time researching so I could get it right. In one of the scenes in The Warrior Heir, the warrior Jack Swift and his Aunt Linda take refuge in St. Margaret’s Church, a real church next to Westminster Abbey in London. I’ve been to St. Margaret’s, but I couldn’t remember whether or not there were pews in there. I spent considerable time on the church website and travel sites, trying to find an interior view of the church.

World-building goes beyond landscape to social and cultural elements. Seph McCauley, one of the characters in The Wizard Heir, is Catholic. I don’t happen to be Catholic, so I did some fact-checking with my Catholic friends.

By now, you’re saying to yourself, “Maybe I’ll write high fantasy set in a made-up world. I won’t have to do any research and I won’t get any emails.”

Sorry, but no. Epic fantasy writers have to work much harder to put the reader in a world they’ve never been to and entice them to stay. It’s even more challenging because, like as not, the writer has never been there, either. The old adage, “Write what you know,” doesn’t work here.

Or does it? How do you go about creating a world that the reader believes in? You mingle the familiar and the fantastic.

Now coast on over to The Story Siren to read the rest!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Interview on Around Noon WCPN Radio

I was invited to do an interview about The Gray Wolf Throne and other things on Around Noon, a local arts and culture program on WCPN radio.

 Here I am, ready for the broadcast!

And here I am with Dan Paoletta, the host of the show.

If you'd like to listen, you'll find the on-demand show here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Here's How to Find The Gray Wolf Throne on NOOK

The Gray Wolf Throne is available on Nook, but you won't find it easily on the B&N site, especially if you search under my name. The Nook version is not listed on the search page, as is the case with my other books. If you click on the GWT title, it will take you to the book page, and you'll see the Nook version there.

Or if you search the site with "The Gray Wolf Throne" you will go directly to the book page and see the Nook version here.

If you want to go directly to the Nook version, go here.

And I'm sorry for the trouble. I know what it's like to be book-hungry.