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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Conestoga or Butts: A Treasury of Photos, Part Two


It is done...click on the zombie bottle to see the exciting conclusion!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Conestoga or Bung: A Treasury of Photos, Part One

This one's going to be hard to sort out, it was a bit of a blur and I'm probably not alone in the feeling that I've been riffing for 4 straight days, each on less sleep than the last. I'll start at the beginning and we'll see how far we get today. Leftovers will be in my Wednesday League blog (I expect there'll be plenty).

Let's see...

In case you're not aware, I'm completely screwed in the travel planning department. It's not that I don't have the internet-fu, 'cuz I can put some shit together on the cheap, but my luck is a tad sketchy and this trip was no exception.


For starters, if midnight is the "Witching Hour," then 3 to 4 AM must be the time all the evil clowns rush out of their multicolored mini-coopers, butter up the Slip-N-Slides and ride 'em right into unsuspecting coulrophobe's rooms. That's right, my travel day started at 3:30 am. The alarm went off and my heart jumped out of my chest like Bozo had just cupped my genitals.

Lucky for me I'm a planner and have a wife that's willing to blow off sleep to drive me to the airport; I rolled out of bed and into my travel clothes. We were out the door in ten minutes. Whether our drive was a safe one, I'm not sure. It was too early to care, especially without the benefit of caffeine. What I can tell you, it's one of the few times Interstate 5 hasn't had a back-up somewhere on it.

So, I kissed Caroline Goodbye and off I went into the sterile cavern of Seatac airport. Standing in not one, not two, but three different ticketing lines. 4 hours sleep = moron, just so we're clear. I hit the bathroom before the plane boarded and was met by that bright white-tiled glare and silence. It was eerily quiet, if there is such a thing outside of horror movies. I'd put my phone in my carry-on and taken a seat (so to speak), when a gentleman shuffled in to...um relieve himself. That's when it started. The blaring techno theme from Halloween, my ringtone. That shit just echoed, getting louder and louder. I imagined the guy at the urinal looking over his shoulder, worried that some horror movie freak had snapped and was about to attack.

The flight to Denver was fine with the exception of finding that my baggage claim ticket showed that the airline responsible for getting my luggage to Tulsa was still noted as Frontier (they've canceled their route from Denver). So I ended up having to deal with the Frontier Customer Service Center, who were very nice and handled it. But I had to check in with United to change my boarding pass.

Not so nice.

Apparently, United had been very busy canceling flights and pissing people off by the time I arrived, including this one guy with a serious case of dragon breath, who couldn't help pretending he was the only one effected by the long line. I was so irritated with him, in fact. That when I was finally called to talk to an agent, I was sooo nice to her (in a really loud way), taking my time recounting the bag situation, chatting. He groaned and grumbled behind me. I talked to her about the weather and how she needed new flowers for her vase. He whispered some obscenities. I laughed...on the inside. Stinky fucker.

After that, it was time for a drink or "drank" whichever you prefer. I looked at my watch, 11:00 am. Close enough.

When I got to Tulsa, I stood at the carousel, happy to see that my hotel shuttle was sitting outside. The bags started coming and people pulled them from the beltway, one by one. The crowd thinned to two. An older gentleman and myself. That's when the belt stopped.

NO BAG.

NO PROMO.

NO CLOTHES.

NO DEODORANT.

As you can imagine, I was totally glad I spent all that time hunting down the Frontier counter in Denver and coordinating the baggage issue with Dragon Breath and the United agent. The baggage people swore it would be delivered to the hotel by morning, so I decided to let it go (that's not to say I didn't tell everyone they lost it), I just let the anger go. Kind of a big step for me, because really, I had just traveled halfway across the country on my own dime without any promo items to put in the FFF bags and not even a moist towelette to blot my sweaty gooch (100 degrees, Tulsa? Really?).

When I got to the hotel, all that stuff fell away. Why?

These two...


Jaye Wells, ladies and gentleman, with her trusty sidekick of three days, Leah Hodge. Holy crap, I'd chatted with Jaye a few times online, but after a half hour we were finishing each other's potty-mouthed sentences. Even weirder? Leah was doing it, too. You knew people were in for it when after only an hour and a half we'd already started talking about DP and trademarked a gang sign for Oklahoma's favorite marital rut sex act (see previous blog entry for a clue). Did I mention this post wasn't for kids? Oops.

After a few drinks and running into Dean Lorey, who so totally wanted to hang out with the cool kids (hunh Dean?), we met up with Michele Bardsley, Jaci Burton and Dakota (no last name required) for some TGIFriday's mojitos and fantastic conversation. On the drive either there or back, we spotted this bit of word magic...


Um...

We don't have those in Washington (I said this a lot about a number of things, but it was never more true than when describing a business with the word "Kum" in the title). Seriously. I can only imagine the add campaigns.

Back at the hotel and settled into our spot at the bar (where we were taken care of by the astoundingly peppy Bonnie), I can assure you Tiffany Trent DID NOT regale us with tales of naughty animal husbandry. That didn't happen. No cloacal kisses or squid sperm packets were mentioned. None of that, just ask Dean.

On my way up to the room, I checked the front desk and surprise of surprises my bag arrived from the airport. Maybe my travel karma was evening out.

Day two arrives...

And the hotel don't want to have any decent coffee, so we loaded up a couple of cars and headed to one of Tulsa's fine ass booksellers, the Barnes and Noble on 41st and Yale. Drank some coffee with the likes of Ms. Jeanne Stein, purveyor of all things Anna Strong, leafed through magazines, did a dramatic reading from some very naughty erotica involving green olives, signed some books (I only had one, though the manager insisted there was a big box full of 'em in the back) and then absorbed Jeanne's brilliance...


My first panel was at 2:00. So after a quick trip to Sonic, I settled in behind the panel table (have I mentioned I hate separations like tables? Can't stand 'em. Think they impair fluent conversations. What can you do?). The panel was called Urban Fantasy: It's Not Just for Chicks. Seriously? I thought it was referring to readers. When Mark Del Franco, who moderated, said that it was about male protagonists, I swear my gulp was audible.

Uhhhh...

Now, I know some people think that's a drag queen on my cover, but last time I checked, totally pre-op. But anyway. It turned out fine. There was a really big group for the first panel, and that was exciting. Melissa and Jeaniene were running around like producers. Good times.

After, I met up with this group of heathens...


We went to dinner with a big group to the Cheesecake Factory--apparently no one eats anything but gentrified chain food while at conventions--who am I to complain, as long as I get my pomegranate mojito, which was awesome! I was really happy to see dinner conversation getting a lot more "real" and totally got to know my peeps on a much deeper level. I did worry a bit that we came across like a clique, but seriously the filth level was up to Coochcon 9 and I'm not sure how many of the other authors would have been able to put up with it.

When we got back to the hotel, Kit Kittredge, American Girl rolled in from a horrific day of traveling (please disregard the Xanax daze)...


...with all kinds of injuries and tired as hell, but not so much that she couldn't attend the totally impromptu (even though we bought alcohol earlier in the day)...


Here are some scenes of the madness...


...


Then, travelers full to the brim with noxious blue liquid, we headed to the famed 4th floor for all the after hours haps. But there weren't any. Seriously. And we looked. Now, I'm not discounting the little fencon get-together, but clearly that was wrapping up when we knocked. The only action we saw came steppin' into the hallway clad in just a t-shirt and a nasty case of pillow-face. I said. Just a t-shirt. I've been told the tip of his wein was danglin' but I've blocked it from my mind. Doesn't stop me from making up fun little Okla slogans though, does it?

That's all for now. Saturday was a big day though, so expect tons more when I blog on Wednesday.

Cheers.

It's Kuming!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Conestoga Schedule and Stuff...


Tomorrow, I'm off to Tulsa Oklahoma, to either die in a twister or from the heat, I haven't decided. And all for the Conestoga 12 and Fangs, Fur and Fey Minicon. Here's my schedule, for those who'll be there and want to track me down.


Fri 02:00 PM - Executive Urban Fantasy: It's Not Just for Chicks
Sat 09:00 AM - Executive The Elusive Snark
Sat 11:00 AM - Signing
Sat 02:00 PM - Chairman Reading: Happy Hour/Road Trip of the Living Dead?
Sat 03:00 PM - Executive The Business of Being a Writer
Sun 10:00 AM - Executive Dark UF/Horror

Along with some speed dating, boozing it up and racing across the street for some Sonic!

Speaking of being there. Who's all going?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Since You've Been Gone...

Oh wait. It's me that's been gone. Silly.

Caroline has been chastising me for the past week to blog. It seems I've brought blog dishonor to my family. The conversation, though, is not nearly as formal and polite as would proceed a samurai's hari kari. More like: "It's been ten days, Mark. What are you doing with your time, beating off?"

Sigh...

So here it is. What I expect is what people read this blog for...

A BIG ASS PICTURE POST WITH A SIDE OF CRAZY!

Let's start at the beginning, for a change.

This past weekend was the Pacific Northwest Writer's Conference, which I didn't really attend so much as deprive its attendees at a shot at one of New York's fine ass editors. That's right folks, Heather O. was in town, tearin' it up.


Heather's one of those people that "just gets it". "It" is the knowledge that there's humor in everything and it should be commented on profusely. Fun involves being on the verge of a bladder malfunction, at all times. This weekend saw its fair share of near incontinence. That's like a 5 star time, people.

Thursday was low-key and cameraless so I'll skip that one (mostly bookstores and Nava-jo sammiches). But Friday. Friday was the booksigning, so Caroline and I drove up early for dinner with Heather at 13 Coins. If only 13 coins were all it cost. We could have had a better meal with a jar of Ragu and some roadkill. Never again.

Here I am outside the signing, basking in the glow of my pseudofame...


Actually, that's the last bit of the sun, burning my retinas off. The main hall of the conference turns into a Russian sweat-box in the early evening and they didn't even provide bunches of painful switches to flagellate ourselves. Thank you architects!

Quite a few less attendees this year and though I'd like to tell you that I sold out all 9 of my books, I can't. Only 4 people stopped to talk and buy, despite my gross approachableness. Ah well. It was just time killer until I could meet up with Caroline and Heather for erotic readings, mojitos and naughty cake (that was its actual name, I'm not even kidding). There were also hash browns of mucho goodness, tres Idahoan.

Saturday was the Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding Workshop and it was a workshop, I assure you. Team Seattle met up early to put the plan into action. Here's my recipe for the perfect conference workshop: 25% quick and informative lecture, 75 % fun small group activity. Needless to say, them shits was a hit! In my small group we came up with a rainforest fae world and even plotted out a horror-filled novel involving Eco-luxe resorts, scientists and creepy howler monkeys. Awesomeness. In fact, speaking of Team Seattle, here we are, now with 50% more crotch shot!


Oh my God. So after this little shindig, we opted to use our free dinner tickets and slid into the back of the awards dinner. I would have stayed for the whole thing, if it weren't for the main course. Heather hit the nail on the head, when the lids came off the plates, the whole room was flooded with the intense aroma of dirty aquariam. Nasty ass halibut. I never saw so many people snapping for wine in my life. Alcoholism serves at least one purpose, getting you through bad conference meals.

Too bad none of us are alcoholics (though we play them on the internets). I think it was Cherie who was first to start chanting Taco Bell. After the free wine we were outta there and chompin' on crunch wraps, like God intended.

Which brings us to the main event...

The Sunday to End All Sundays!

After the 13 Coins debacle, which, of course, I suggested. I was determined to provide the touristas with some awesome food choices. So out came the trusty internets for some serious foodie google. Best Breakfast in Seattle? Check! Awesome fishy? Check! Cupcakes you'd sock your mama for? Check-check!

Sure Caitlin grumbles when she's forced to haul her ass out of bed at 7:45 am. But that's the price you pay for an awesome Seattle tour. We snatched Heather out of the Hilton Lobby a little after 9 and off we motored to the Emerald City. First stop, the Hi-Spot cafe. Can I just say, the Bengal Benedict is made of deliciousness. Hollondaise sauce is far too pedestrian for the Hi-Spot, so after the eggs are done poaching, here comes the curry! Mmm. Heather's spicy corned beef hash was salacious and Caroline's "Wake up with Zorba" omelette had the yum factor of feta and tomatoes. Caitlin wasn't raving about hers, so you'll have to interrogate her separately. After we ordered, we noticed that the people next to us had ordered a big-ass cinnamon roll as an appetizer. Breakfast appetizer? I didn't know that was an option or we would have totally made that happen.

Stuffed and sated we embarked on a most auspicious tour of the Lakeview Cemetery. Monumentous, even. It seems July 20th is the anniversary of Bruce Lee's death and there was quite a ceremony going on, replete with incense, Mardi gras boobie beads, and tons of flowers. Here's Caroline looking for some bush action...


Can you say psst? Caitlin was forced to judge.


Prepare for the money shot...


I find that when touring around a friend, it's important to include drive-bys of all the places they won't be enjoying, like the ice cream cruise, the EMP, the Duck and the wonderful historical significance of Pioneer Square. We made sure to note how wonderful it would have been to go to the science fiction museum, which Caitlin pointed out was indeed an activity that one would be regretful if they hadn't seen it prior to their deathbed. Yep. We made sure to point it out.

Heather was appropriately regretful.

We just didn't have the time, had to see a man about a dragon...


...and some delicious pasture cake...


Graveyards and grocery stores, where else do you expect I'd take a visitor? Uwajima is a Seattle landmark a massive Asian grocer with a food court to die for. We came for bubble tea, but sadly that shop had closed, so we settle for Pocky sticks in several varieties. For those not in the know, Pocky are unsalted pretzel sticks dipped in deliciousness. Make it a habit and not the pasture cake. I'm in love with that product name almost as much as the tasty Calpiss beverage.

We met up with Richelle Mead in her neck of the woods, where the Fremontians like to sell bongs on the street and celebrate body odor. It was fantastic. Heather even found this lovely Carmen Miranda by way of Bulimia hat...


A fruit hat just won't fly here. Nope. Those are donuts, bon bons, cupcakes and ice cream cones. Hypnotic! I don't care who's singing wearing that, I'm listening and then vomiting.

We found Richelle lounging around Theo's chocolate, an artisanal chocolatier that puts together combinations that shouldn't work but do, much like an urban fantasy author might do. That's probably why I'm a slave to their coconut curry chocolate bar. It's insane. Delectable. Weird.

Fremont is a land of photo-ops (Lenin, massive rockets, statues of people waiting for busses dressed like transvestites), but nothing compares to the Troll...


See that in his left hand? Oh yeah. That's a real Volkswagen bug. We had to walk three blocks uphill to get to this treasure of tourism and you know what that means...time for some hooch, as captured here in this shot I lovingly call, In Lieu of Lunch...


We ended up at the Matador in Ballard, which has another Sunday market and shops like Bark where you can purchase dog tags that say things like "slut" and "chien lunatique." We couldn't find one representative of Smokey, though (and since, Cherie demands more "Cute dog pictures" here's one to remind you...


...that I might need a talent wrangler. But not more than Richelle needs sunglasses, wanna see bloodshot?


Seriously. Not an awesome shot, but damn, look at the blood!

Let's make it clear that no tour of Seattle is complete without the dinner then desert reversal, so after we'd finished off Archie McPhee's bin of bacon bandaids and bedpans, we headed off to Trophy. You may have seen these handfuls of cupcake heaven in Martha Stewart Living. These babies are next to Voodoo Donut when it comes to Satan's own confections. My favorite...


...mmm hummingbird. Spice cake laced with banana, pineapple and coconut topped in God's own fat, cream cheese frosting. I just gained weight typing that.

Then, it was off to our final locale, Flying Fish for the most delicious ass Poke you've ever eaten, and fish tacos, and seafood hotpots, and Thai crabcakes and hilarity. And that's about it. Tour complete.

Except for this (found while heading back to drop off the Mead)...

If you were ever confused as to the purpose of spring break, I think this bit of roadside art clears it up for you...


That's right. Poorly executed titty art. What'd you think it was about, dripping bloody fingertips? Right after this shot, the happy, as indicated by their skippin, lesbian couple (seen on the right) stopped and glowered, their frolicking ruined by misogyny, as it oft is.

So our tale comes to an end and I promise to be around more often. After all, Conestoga is this week and there's sure to be all sort of travesty lurking in Tulsa. I'll go warm up trigger finger.

Monday, July 07, 2008

You Got Your Hooker in My 4th of July! No You Got Your 4th of July in My Hooker!

So I'm exhausted. Not just physically tired from this morning's workout but brain-tired like I've taken a handful of Benadryl--only I haven't. I get this way after long weekends with too many obligations. And this one was packed.

On Thursday, which is the new Friday, I got an email from a friend reporting such. In a flash, my plans for a leisurely night of Last Comic Standing and a few chapters of reading gone. Our regular Friday fun was bumped up. I use the term "fun" loosely, as it's a bit of a rut. Dinner, some shopping, coffee at a bookstore. Seems boring, right? Luckily, the actions don't determine the entertainment, it's the people...and our friends are nuts.

We ended up at the fireworks stand and spent too much money on things that go boom. Question: since when are mortar fireworks "safe and sane". We intentionally avoided the reservation this year to model civic responsibility for the Goddaughters and yet, the Fire Department approved stands seem to be selling the exact same fireworks (for double the price). Do I smell kick-back?

Anyway. The 4th was a good time. I made German potato salad, which feeds an army and turned out really well. Brisket, Crab, Ribs, good stuff. Especially when the time came for the ritual new baby lemon taste!

Oh yes.

A couple we know recently adopted a baby and right around the 1-year mark--as is our tradition--new babies get their first taste of that sourest of citrus fruits. Oh the smoosh face! How we love it. We were not disappointed, that little face scrunched up like a cat's anus and then she went back for seconds.

Which totally reminded me of this major lapse in judgment...


Saturday, we returned to the scene of the crime, devouring leftovers like a cloud of locusts, completely sated until someone--I think it was Caroline--opened her demon mouth and suggested Dairy Queen. Seconded quickly, we were off to the most disturbing fast food bunghole on the planet. Let's talk briefly about location. South Tacoma Way has had its ups and downs. New projects roll in and force certain ladies-who-aren't-walking-for-their-health to change their route. Moving from in front of the Filipino grocers and taquerias to the aging strip of grease peddlers.

So we pull in, nearly clipping a particularly thin lady in skin tight jeans, stilettos and a weave that started about two inches above her forehead, a Klingon without the ridges. I know what you're thinking. Hey Mark, lay off, at least she had the common decency to wear the uniform.

I'll give you that. Because the next one was wearing a stained t-shirt that rode up the sides of her ample belly which was modestly covered by the cotton shorts she'd pulled up so far as to expose the sag in her granny panties. This is not a good look for lounging around the house, let alone attracting some quick work and a twenty dollar bill.

We would have been mortified, if it weren't for the fact that this Dairy Queen was being operated by gang members and more specifically the Bloods. You'll need to clear your heads of some stereotypes here, cuz this was a diverse bunch--Tacoma gangs are a proudly inclusionary bunch, color blind in their initiation decisions (call them avant garde, but a white kid can just as easily bust a cap, or at least we've found that to be true).

Not everyone in the joint seemed to notice, though the clues were everywhere. For me, the tattoos gave it away as did the preponderance of red clothing, red bandanas and an overtly hostile attitude toward the customers. I didn't need to see the butt of a gun poking from the Blizzard maker's sagging jeans to know we were in a bit of danger. Or at least in danger of going off our carefully planned diet. So we sat quietly and gorged. Any loud nose sure to be met with a barrage of bullets and the tinkling rain of shell casings. Who knew soft serve could be so hardcore?

Sunday was a bit more relaxed. Grocery shopping and zombie movies. Zombie Honeymoon was, of course, a hot mess, just real crap and I ended up shutting it off after the first hour. Sentient zombie or no and totally incongruent with the title, it was being played too seriously. I did finally watch Romero's Diary of the Dead and while it wasn't a complete pile of crap (see also, Land of the Dead) it didn't work for me. Except for the mute Amish guy. He was a surprise and probably should have been the main character.

So now I must recover. Just a little nap ought to do it...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Really Big (Like Way Big) ACCIDENTALLY DEAD Giveaway Contest!

Today, July 1, 2008 marks the release in the second installment of the Accidental series, ACCIDENTALLY DEAD, by the totally fabulous, utterly amazing, stupendously brilliant, always in her color wheel Dakota Cassidy (She made us say that--all of it. We fought back. Don't laugh. We did. It got ugly. She threatened us with heinous acts of yellow. She won.).

ACCIDENTALLY DEAD picks up with ├╝ber potty mouth Nina Blackman and her newly acquired vampire woes (not to mention his undead hawtness, Greg). Here is a link to Amazon (We are subtle, aren't we?)

In celebration of Nina's release, and because Dakota's such a bitch--er, so charming, we're having a scavenger hunt where you can win big! (Don't whine. Didn't we say killer prizes were involved?)

So here's what ya gotta do—Visit the blogs of Michele Bardsley, Mark Henry (that's me), and Toni McGee Causey (in that order, people) then hit Dakota's blog and get yer quiz on. That's it! All entrants who post correct answers in the comments section of Dakota's blog will be thrown into a random drawing. The prizes:

* Dakota's giving away a signed copy of THE ACCIDENTAL WEREWOLF, a $15 Amazon Gift Certificate, and an RT tote bag from RT 2008 filled with some goodies!

* Mark's upchucking an autographed copy of HAPPY HOUR OF THE DAMNED (and maybe another surprise or two … it's a purge, darling, you never know what'll show up).

* Toni's offering an autographed copy of BOBBIE FAYE'S VERY (very, very, very) BAD DAY and other Bobbie goodness. We promise she won't blow up another bridge (at least not near you).

* Michele's spewing (again … gah! Can she get control of that spittle issue already?) an autographed ARC of WAIT TILL YOUR VAMPIRE GETS HOME and some Broken Heart swag.

Those damned contest rules: Entries must be posted to Dakota's blog by midnight (CST) Wednesday July 2, 2008. All correct answers from participants will be placed in a random drawing. ONE winner will be announced on Dakota’s blog on July 3, 2008. The winner must contact Dakota to collect the prizes.

Go on with yer bad selves (and remember visit the blogs in the following order)…
Michele's Blog
Mark's Blog
Toni's Blog
Dakota's Blog

******************************

And now for the interview!

Me: Now, you know I've got a hard-on for bitchy protagonists, so I'm psyched about ACCIDENTALLY DEAD's Nina. Tell us about the decision to switch to a new protagonist rather than continue with Marty.

Dakota: I get bored--like really bored. I'm kidding. Well, not totally--Marty's story was ovah and she got her HEA. She said so, and I'm all about moving on. Nina, being the pushy broad she is decided it was time everyone hear her tale of whoa (and no, I didn't spell that wrong--I meant whoa. Like whoa, WTF?). I love a chick who has no sensor. I also love a chick who needs to be tamed. Nina applied for the job--she totally fit the job description--I hired her :)

Me: Here's a scenario. You think the camera crew following you 24 hours per day is due to your newfound celebrity author status, until you are lured to a shabby trailer home in the country--and I use the term "home" loosely. What's inside?

Dakota: A party for me hosted by, Michele Bardsley, Renee George, Jaynie, and Terri (some of my closest BFF's). It's their idea of a "cocktail party". You know, BBQ baked beans, roasted armadillo, and Cheese Whiz? OMG--wait till they read this--LOLLOL. I'm in deep shit :)

Me: People are going to want to get their copies of ACCIDENTALLY DEAD signed with some special personal note. What are you gonna jot in there to keep your fans happy? Something naughty, I hope.

Dakota: Nina says you're a perv--she's right, isn't she? I can promise you this--it won't be about unicorns and frickin' rainbows signed with hearts over the letter I :)

And now, lets ask La Nina some stuff...

Me: Dental hygiene is important to you. Any plans for a late night dental clinic, if you know what I mean?

Nina: Yer a freak, aren't you? A flippin' perv. I knew it. Late night this, you weirdo fucktard.

Me: Ouch. My mother told me that cursing was an indicator of a poor vocabulary. To which, I always respond: If that's true, then why do they always ask what's your favorite curse word on The Actor's Studio with James Lipton? She usually shakes her head. That said, what's your favorite dirty word?

Nina: Your new nickname--see above :)

Me: Meow. What's the one thing that sucks about being all vampy, kitten?

Nina: Stupid questions about it?

Woah, this kitten's got a whip.

***********************

That should be enough for you to get the right answers for the contest. Remember to head over to Toni and Michele's before you end up at Dakota's for the contest. Don't leave your responses here or they won't be counted. Seriously.

Now go!