Storygasm Results!

written by Nathaniel Lee

Here are the stories resulting from the Storygasm event in rough chronological order of prompts received. Feel free to take yours and post it elsewhere or link directly to this page. Thanks for contributing!

Prompt – “Lonely Cowbots” by Damon Shaw

Initially, CP0012 ignored it when CP0013 arrived with a Stetson perched on his heat sink. CP0012’s programming contained very few instructions about non-bovine topics. The following day, however, CP0013 began broadcasting sounds and disturbing the herd:

>20 N=100
>30 PRINT N-1
>40 IF N>0 GOTO 20”

CP0012 opened a communications channel. “Query: Justification for broadcast.”

“Answer: I’m a cowboy! Howdy-howdy-howdy!”

CP0012 filed a repair request and returned to watching cows. Insofar as CP0012 felt anything, he liked cows. Cows were predictable.

In the distance, CP0013 emitted the first sounds of a synthesized harmonica. CP0012 shut down his microphone.

Prompt – “Lost Hearts” by David Longhorn

She answered the door on the fourth ring.

“I want it back,” I said.

She shrugged one delicate shoulder and turned away, leaving the door ajar. I stepped inside. Racks of cages lined the hallway, full of hearts. They were limp, despondent things, gazing out at her with hopeless longing. Three more, a bit better groomed, lurked nervously on the couch. She shoved them aside and seated herself.

“I don’t have it,” she said, crossing her legs.


She shrugged again. “It got lost. You should take better care of your heart if you don’t want it getting lost.”

Prompt – “Buridan’s Ass” by Loren Eaton

The first thing I saw when I walked into the Philosophy department was Buridan’s naked ass.

“Buridan!” I shouted, covering my eyes. “What-? Are you†floating?”

Buridan rotated towards me, and I felt an odd pressure, as though I were suddenly under ten feet of water. Buridan drifted further away. “I have achieved enlightenment, of a sort,” he said. “Recall the donkey and the hay.”

“The free-will proof?”

“He was trapped between desirables. I, in contrast, loathe everything equally. Thus, I am suspended.”

“Department meeting starts in ten minutes.”

Buridan sighed. “Help me down. I need to find my pants.”

Prompt – “The Relativity of Relativity” by Matt Kempke

“Family Reunion!” the banner proclaimed. White puffs of hair and bristling mustaches bobbed around the pavilion.

“Have you met Cousin Bernie?” Meredith gushed, leading her charge over to the grill. “He’s discovered the reason hot dogs come in tens but buns only in eights.”

“Howdy!” Bernie waved his tongs.

“And here Uncle Cal. He’s discovered the relationship between sound and intelligence. How does it go, Cal? The quieter you are, the smarter you seem?”

Cal nodded solemnly.

“And me, well, this here is my final experiment. A=N^f~1.” Meredith smiled. “As the number of family members increases, personal aggravation approaches one.”

Prompt – “I’m Not Telling You Twice” by Jim Murdoch

“Matthew Roderick Johannson, get down here this instant!” Mom called from downstairs.

“Jeez, Mom. You don’t have to tell me twice.” Matt paused his game.

“I’m not telling you twice,” said Mom from the doorway.

“Oh,” said Matt. “Sorry, Mom1. I thought you were Mom3.” He squinted until the quantum phantasms merged back into a unified Mom, or at least a Mom-shaped cloud representing the current most likely Mom.

“Those games are terrible for your ability to focus. What if you’d slipped into the wrong stream completely?”

“Mom!” Matt rolled his eyes. “The chances of that are like mathematically zero.”

Prompt – “Walrus Planet” by Sam

They gathered in thousands on the vast ice floes. Along the edges, there was a constant transition as hungry individuals slipped into the chill waters while others hooked their tusks into the ice to heave their sated bulks out of the water and rest.

In the distance, off to the south, there were flashes of light, like a sporadic Aurora. Then, a rumble as of far-off thunder. Several whiskery heads lifted curiously, but when nothing further presented itself, they returned to the business of sleeping and digesting.

Another walrus slipped into the water. The southern sky slowly darkened to night.

Prompt – “Oh my god, this wasn’t a dream†it was all real.” by Joey Jordan

“I had such a bad dream,” said Remy. He leapt into the air and spun lazily in a circle, petting the barking dog-tree for comfort. “My house wasn’t endless, and I went outside to go to work, only I couldn’t fly. Then, in the car, the radio just played music and no one appeared or disappeared. I had to drive the whole time. I didn’t skip ahead at all.”

“Sounds unpleasant,” agreed the leprechaun.

“Then I went to get a haircut, and, Remy paused, his hand drifting to his neck. Cool air brushed the freshly shorn skin. “Oh my God,

Prompt – “What kinda person walks around in a yellow hooded cloak? It’s not like it would hide you from anyone.” by Joey Jordan, who apparently didn’t read the rules very closely

Chuck’s finger tightened on the trigger when he spotted the bright yellow figure. He pushed through the foliage.

“Hey,” he hissed. “What are you doing in a yellow cloak? Why are you wearing that?”

The man gave Chuck a quizzical glance. “Because it’s raining out,” he said, gesturing at the sweltering, sunlit treetops with his briefcase. Chuck saw wingtips poking out beneath the rain-slicker. “I’m not getting soaked waiting for the bus.”

Chuck looked for the rest of his squad. When he turned back, the small clearing was empty, save for a distant growling engine and the smell of diesel.

Prompt – “Bargain Messiah” by David Steffen

“There,” Jeezie said. “That’s the best I can do.” Sweat poured from his forehead and soaked his ragged beard as he handed over the cup.

Mary sipped and grimaced. “Cherry Kool-Aid,” she said. “Unsweetened.”

“Sugar is really hard,” said Jeezie, somewhat defensively.

“What about walking on water?”

“Sure!” Jeezie brightened. “I need a vat and a bunch of corn starch. I saw it on Mythbusters.”

Mary sighed. “Salvation?”

“Well†I do know how you can save money on car insurance.”

“Forget it,” said Mary. “Mom was right. Splurge on major purchases and only use the bargain bin for little stuff.”

Prompt – “Axe of Kindness” by Gary Cuba


“No ‘thank you’?” said Leon.

The barista glanced over Leon’s shoulder and paled. “T-t-thanks,” she stammered.

“You’re welcome.” Leon tucked a dollar in the tip jar. “See? Kindness pays.” He walked out with Throckdar in tow. Immediately, they spotted the traffic cop leaving a ticket on Leon’s car.

“Oh, really!” said Leon. “I’m only thirty seconds late.”

Throckdar hefted his axe significantly.

The cop swallowed. “I’ll just tear this up.”

Leon and Throckdar settled into the car, the suspension groaning. “So how’d you get stuck with this, anyway?” Leon asked.

Throckdar shrugged. “Community service. Goblin king had good lawyer.”

Prompt: “The last man on earth sits in his living room. SUDDENLY he
finds his mailbox full of bills” by Sebastian Kempke

Mortimer opened his mailbox. ÂBills, bills, ads, and bills. Automatically generated, computer-printed, sent in pre-paid envelopes through the mechanized mail system. ÂUntouched by human hands from the moment they were printed until the robotic delivery trucks shunted them into Mort’s mail slot. ÂHe handled them carefully, as though they might explode.

“Occupant, current resident…” Mortimer slit the envelopes open and read each word aloud. ÂNobody heard him, of course. ÂHe might be the only person left. ÂOther than the robots, of course.

“Here’s one with my name on it,” Mort told the cleaning bot. ÂIt whirred and trundled blithely on.

Nathaniel Lee is an amateur wordsmith with delusions of grandeur. He’s been writing stories since the second grade, but as yet has not found anyone willing to pay for them. ÂHe maintains a daily writing blog at, and several of those stories have winkled their way onto the Drabblecast (Episodes 154, 156, and 158). Nathan and his wife keep two cats, Ozymandius and Belshazzar, and they spend most of their free time staring into glowing screens of one sort or another. ÂNathan is also an avid board gamer and roleplayer who suffers from a chronic lack of willing participants.

Storygasm: A Deluge of Drabble

written by Nathaniel Lee


I am pleased to be featured here on Diabolical Plots, and equally pleased to offer a bit of entertainment for you nice people. Here’s how it works: you give me a prompt, and I’ll turn it into a drabble, a 100-word story for you. The best approach, speaking from personal experience, is to keep the prompt between two and five words long, and to avoid getting too specific. For example, something like “werewolf shampoo” can lead all sorts of directions and gives me something to work with. “A depressed angel commits suicide” nails it down a bit too much; it’s not a horrid prompt, but I don’t have a lot of room to embroider. “Dave the fat clown gets chased and eaten by an alligator” is no fun at all to write, because it’s already got everything in it. To participate, just post your prompt within the next 48 hours (ending 6am central on Wednesday). The resulting drabbles will be posted here on Diabolical Plots for your entertainment.

For a few examples of my drabbles, check out Mirrorshards, where I post a daily drabble. A couple examples: Bag Full of Name, and The Kraken Awakens.

I started Mirrorshards in November of 2008 as a writing exercise. There were several factors; a lack of energy to work on long-term projects, a desire for daily writing practice, and a niggling concern about my consistent failure to maintain any sort of personal journal or blog for any length of time. I remembered reading about a poet who wrote a limerick every day because the strict limits of the form gave him the literary equivalent of a quick morning exercise routine. I thought I’d try for a similar structure in prose. I did some quick research on short-shorts and nanofiction, and I eventually settled on 100 words as a nice round number that wasn’t too short and wasn’t too long. Since then, I have written over 54,000 words, one day and one story at a time. It’s far from the only writing I do, but it’s important to me to maintain that continuity. I pretty quickly migrated to Blogger, and a few months ago I registered a custom domain name. Everything at the site is under a Creative Commons license (Derivative works welcome for non-commercial purposes and with attribution.)

Nathaniel Lee is an amateur wordsmith with delusions of grandeur. He’s been writing stories since the second grade, but as yet has not found anyone willing to pay for them. ÂHe maintains a daily writing blog at, and several of those stories have winkled their way onto the Drabblecast (Episodes 154, 156, and 158). Nathan and his wife keep two cats, Ozymandius and Belshazzar, and they spend most of their free time staring into glowing screens of one sort or another. ÂNathan is also an avid board gamer and roleplayer who suffers from a chronic lack of willing participants.

How to Write a Rejection Slip

written by Christopher Miller

With publishing’s gatekeepers now comprising the bulk of short fictions’ readership, I think it reasonable to say that for every story read at least one rejection slip is also read. The rare instances in which writers’ stories are not rejected and to some degree published and possibly read by others are offset by writers’ publishing their rejection slips on public blogs and forums and disseminating them in emails. Similarly, publishers’ returning the same rejection slip to many writers is offset by writers submitting the same story to many publishers. So even ignoring that rejection slips, unlike the stories that inspired them, are almost always read in their entirety, taken to heart and remembered, it all more than cancels out. Ergo rejection slips are the most widely and attentively read short literary genre.

And while there’s a humongous amount of material available on how to write good short stories and also a lot of information on reading (i.e. coping with) rejection slips,which may be summarized as 1) consider that you might be a shitty writer who will improve, 2) consider that the rejecter is an imbecile and/or pandering to an imbecilic demographic, and 3) don’t include return postage on your SASE, or, in the case of email submissions, flag the “sent to” address as spam,nowhere (in my full minute of research) did I find anything on writing good rejection slips. So, as always and without further ado, here are my rules:

1. Never write “keep writing” in a rejection slip. This is particularly irksome as the slip’s closing sentiment and even more so when followed by an exclamation mark. Your reader is already disappointed and doesn’t need the implication that your passing on the piece might constitute a reason to stop writing. In other words, this generic and ingenuous “chin up” just makes readers want to punch you in the face. It is beyond your rejection slip’s scope to provide personal or career counseling.

2. Never critique work you are rejecting. It just makes you look stupid, even when you’re right, which usually you are not. It is beyond your rejection slip’s scope to teach creative writing.

3. Never say a piece is “not right” for you. This rule may be excepted if you actually really did like the submission but have had all your creative joie de vivre and artistic license crushed out of you by having to cater to the dreary formula upon which your publication is based and you can convey this in some credible way. Similarly, unless you can say who, do not point out that someone else might like it. The reader would not have sent you the piece if they didn’t like it. The same rules of concision that apply to all writing apply to rejection slips. Be specific. Avoid stating the obvious.

4. Never chirp how you “enjoyed the read.” You have just injured your reader. “I dozed off while reading your submission and chipped a tooth on my coffee mug” might be more uplifting.

5. Never metaphorically equate a piece’s acceptance with its finding “a home.” The story you are rejecting is not some derelict bumming spare change, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping on benches and grates. Particularly offensive and almost as bad as “Keep writing!” is “Good luck finding a home for it!” Really you should avoid bestowing any sort of hope, wish or prayer for success on your reader. What you need to keep in mind is that, no matter how you sugarcoat them, rejection slips hurt. And so, if only briefly, your reader is your enemy, and doesn’t want your gloating condescension.

6. Avoid saying you hope the author will submit more of their work in the future, even if you really do. This is a toughie, I know. But if you really like the piece that much, then ask if you can hold onto it in the hopes a slot opens up. Or send a follow-up invitation. Most times, if you solicit work from an author, he will comply. But consider that your reader is reading in a temporarily bummed out state. His best efforts have just been found wanting. Even ephemeral depression twists all emotions into negative forms. So, instead of interested, you just sound greedy. And instead of uplifted, your reader just feels used, like you’ve walked up to his promotional free-sample display in the supermarket where he works weekends on commission, and, after gobbling down all his carefully prepared little sausages, crackers, cheeses, dips or whatever, exclaimed how delicious they were, burped and asked when more will be available.

7. Conversely, do not be afraid to write things like, “We would appreciate if you didn’t submit any more of your work to us,” or “We only barely read the first paragraph,” or “We receive thousands of submissions each month and yours was second worst!” Honesty is always the best policy. Writers can smell bullshit like weed at a concert. A miss is as good as a mile.

Born in Switzerland, raised in Chicago, mostly Canadian now. ÂRestaurateur, software developer. Loves writing all genres,sci-fi to literary, horror to erotica. E.g.:ÂÂGanymede Dreams (a.k.a. Ganymede’s Song) ;ÂTake Our kids to Work DayA Hawk Circling the WindAdam and Eve Reading (almost) Quietly in the Bathroom

Stumptown Comics Fest 2010

Stumptown Comics Fest 2010

Each convention has it’s own personality, just like how every city has it’s own personality. Stumptown Comics Fest has one of the best personalities of all the conventions I have attended. It has a very do-it-yourself feel to the entire convention, with a strong feeling of optimism. Most of the artists and storytellers are self employed, or a part of a small artist collective. In fact, most of the tables are webcomics.

The indie attitude of the convention tends to attract many upcoming artists, and is an excellent place to find new things to read. It is also good for artists and writers as much of the focus of the convention is networking, and educating. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has a large table to help creative minds navigate the labyrinth of copyright and legal rules. Many panels are dedicated to helping them understand how to get their works published, or how to self-publish. The largest mainstream comic presence would be from Dark Horse and Oni Press; both of which love and encourage indie comics.

One of the things I like best about Stumptown Comics Fest is the art. At every convention there is plenty of loot to buy. But at Stumptown most of the loot is in the form of beautiful art. There are of course tons of comic books to be had, and in most cases they are being sold by the actual artists and writers who will gladly sign them for you.

Overall I would say that Stumptown has a much more personal feel to it than most other comic conventions. As a fan you get to actually meet the artists, and talk with them. I had the opportunity to talk to Kel McDonald about her plans for her stories ( Aaron Diaz told me about how he prefers to stand while he draws on his computer, much like how classical artists would with their paintings ( Jason Janicki and Leigh Kellogg let me in on bits of their plans for their new update schedule ( Dylan Meconis told us how much she likes the Heifer International and that her favorite picture is the llama wearing socks ( Angela Melick recounted the woes of apartment renovations ( These personal interactions are the ones that make a fan love the work even more, because then not only do they like the art and story, but they also like the creators.

Blue was born with a keyboard and an Atari 2600 joystick in his hands. He enjoys telling longwinded stories, art, video games, programming, and especially loves when they overlap. He is a geek-of-all-trades with a dabbling in everything geek related without any particular focus.
<photo source>

New Website Launch: Writrade Showcase!

Mark Turner is here today to tell everyone about the launch of the new website Writrade Showcase for readers, writers, and editors. Since Mark is the founder, I’ll let him tell you all about the website, why you should check it out, and details on the free stuff he’s giving away as part of the launch.

Writrade Showcase is a brand new idea in online promotions for writers.

Just launched this week, and offering a big swag of give-aways for the week-long launch, the Showcase takes a different approach to other promotion sites. ÂWe actually do our best to send people away!

Think of it as much as a directory to find the people, goods and services you seek, as it is a social and business network.

Where other networking sites try to keep their members and readers there, we get you to come back each day to check the site magazine for the latest news, announcements and advertising, then send you away to all the interesting places and people that you’re looking for.

Have you published the latest and greatest best-seller of a horror novel and need to tell the world about it? ÂBe sure to add the Showcase to your round of promotional sites. ÂSet up your free profile as a standing advertisement, and join the groups onsite that fit your book to make it easy for readers to find you instead of making them hunt through the membership list. ÂThen, start working the site magazine every day. ÂPost the schedules for your online blog tours, reviews and links to their sites, cover art and book trailer videos. ÂPost some excerpts from your book, give the readers a taser and get them slavering for the rest so they’ll follow your links to come buy.

If you have a magazine, do the same, post submission calls, release dates, new issues, and riddle your posts with links to make it easy for readers to leave us and come find you!

Are you a writer looking for markets for submissions? ÂFind the latest news from the publishers themselves on the magazine. ÂDo you want to post some samples of your work, some poetry, short stories, articles, or just your thoughts for the day? ÂThe Showcase magazine has a category for everyone, and you can post material to it as often as you wish. ÂJust so long as it’s at least vaguely writing-related.

Agents, editors, reviewers, novelists, journalists, shorts writers, promotions sites, publishers, writing sites, artists, graphic artists, poets; for anyone actually in the writing and publishing industry, or readers looking for news on their favourite authors and books, the news will be provided direct from the horse’s mouth, the people in the industry itself.

And what’s it cost, you ask? ÂThat’s the biggest ‘horror story’ of all. ÂNothing! (Gasp! Horror! Dismay!) ÂYep, I hear my competitors now, gnashing their teeth and wailing to the dark gods! ÂFree!


‘Coz I’m a great guy! Â(I’m shy, but let’s be honest here, heheh!) ÂNo, really. ÂAfter years of frustrated searches of the net hunting for information from this and that site, I often cried to the gods of frustration, ‘Why doesn’t someone put all this stuff together, in the one place?!’
Then, one day, I thought it was time someone did, so the Showcase was born.

Still only a baby yet, but from small beginnings can arise monsters that will take over the net, to become, in time, the first place each day you need to go for all your news and contacts in the writing and publishing trade. ÂWon’t it be heaven to be able to find whatever you need in one place? ÂAnd far from being ‘hell’ for my competitors, it’s actually a place they can use too, to make it simplicity itself for readers and writers and all others interested in any genre to come find them, and then leave to come to their sites!

A couple of new developments are in the offing. ÂThe Writrade News, a weekly online journal for a formal promotional and news publication, with special access to it available only for professional Showcase members. ÂAnd a possible new Showcase Community online Mall, with up to 200 stores, offering the chance to get into online marketing so cheaply and easily that you wont believe! Â $50 paid ONCE, to sign up, then nothing out of your pocket again, forever! ÂDetails on site.

All new members who join during our Launch Week, starting Mon, 18th and ending Sun, 24th at midnight, will automatically be in the draw for one the great prizes in the give-away basket. ÂYou can even earn extra entries, one for every day over Launch Week that you post an item on the magazine.

The prizes include no less than two free book trailer video packages, one from Dara England, the other from Apex Reviews. ÂThere are books from a number of great authors, including our own David Steffen from right here on Diabolical Plots, ‘Shadows of the Emerald City’, an anthology from Northern Frights in which his story, ‘The Utility of Love’ appears. ÂThere’s also ‘The Curse of Satan’s Collar’ by Dr John W. Miller, ‘Convict Grade’ by Azrael Paul Damien, a couple of great kids’ fantasy novels ‘The Book of Spells’ and ‘The Druiad’, by William E. Terry, ‘Radgepacket’, Tales from the Inner City and ‘More Burglar Dairies’ from Byker Books, and a the first of a terrific, old-fashioned Sword and Sorcery series by Glenn G. Thater. Â’The Gateway’, first in the ‘Harbinger of Doom’ series, is being made available to ALL members at the Showcase entirely for free by Glenn, as a free download, so you can read it right away. ÂNo waiting! ÂAnd finally, with the good stuff left till last (grin), a four issue subscription to Aurealis magazine, courtesy of yours truly. ÂAfter being an editorial staffer there for a while, mostly rejecting works from the slush pile, I finally get to make someone happy with some this prize of some great speculative fiction from Down Under.

So come on along to our launch week, join up and get your entry in the prize draw! ÂAnd at the same time help to support the greatest little promo site in the net, doing yourself a favour in the process by taking advantage of it for your own free promotions and news.

Let’s build it to a million members! ÂCome be one of the first! ÂThen you can say ‘I was there ages ago’ 🙂

Thanks to David, Anthony and the team here at DP! ÂYou guys have been a little guiding light in an otherwise slightly scary darkness throughout the process of getting the Showcase off the ground.

Mark Turner,

Mark Turner was raised in outback Australia. After a stint in the army and and some time working at a bush Base hospital, he returned to university to pursue his love of books. A viral illness cut short his aspirations and he didn’t finish the Lit’ Studies degree. Some years followed dealing with Murray Valley Encephalitis before he gradually got back into his writing. A job with Aurealis magazine followed, till he decided that it was time for his own publishing venture, and Writrade was born. The Showcase is the first of several sister sites; the Writrade News weekly journal and a speculative fiction zine, ‘Voluted Tales’ are soon to follow.

KillerCon Report by Lisa Morton

–Reprinted, with permission, from Lisa’s blog

The first KillerCon is now a fond memory…and perhaps a brief recovery period. But you know what I mean…

My KC Extravaganza started on Thursday – woohoo! Roadtrip in Palisano’s mini-van, accompanied by Mssrs. John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow (in addition to Driver Palisano and Skipp’s delightful housemate Janie). Skipp gave me my first look at his new anthology Zombies, and Cody salivated over the artwork my story (“Sparks Fly Upward”) received. For the next five hours, we cruised the desert as Skipp and Cody alternated deejaying – I’ve now gained a fondness for bands with names like Shpongle and Mr. Bungle.

We arrived in SinCity on Thursday evening, checked into our rooms (mine came equipped with a haunted shower curtain which insisted on trying to envelop my body no matter which way I turned in the odd, no-bathtub shower area). John P. and I hit the casino – and were completely flummoxed by the slot machines. What happened to, you put in a coin, pull a handle, and hope the little spinning reels will stop on bars? Oh no, now it’s all paper vouchers and an endless number of buttons to push before the thing even spins. We roared over our own incompetence as gamblers, and later on Skipp commented that he walked past us and noticed we were the only two people in the entire casino who actually seemed to be enjoying ourselves (I ended up fifty cents ahead from my gambling for the weekend – yeah, baby, I BEAT THE SYSTEM!!!).

Parties ensued. Hugs were exchanged. Alcohol was consumed. I still managed a decent bedtime.

Friday began the convention in earnest, and I was very glad I’d opted to merely observe rather than participate…although somehow my name was shouted out during two panels and two readings.

My first novella, The Lucid Dreaming, debuted at the con, and seemed to be very well received. Sales were brisk, and by Saturday I was getting lots of, “I read the first 40 pages last night and it’s gooooood”. Hal Bodner became my unofficial publicist, grabbing innocent passersby and forcing them to buy copies.


Late Friday saw the arrival of the last of the L.A. crew – the Calvillos, John Palisano’s wife Yasmine, and the west coast’s own Mike McCarty, who promptly confessed to us that he has a serious gambling addiction and plunked himself down at the Star Trek slot machine:


(BTW, I think Mr. McCarty was exaggerating the addiction thing. He had enough gas money left to get home, at least.)

Saturday saw more excellent panels and readings, and lunch with the utterly delightful Bob Fleck of Professional Media Services. We swiftly discovered we had far too much in common, and 90 minutes passed with lightning swiftness.

After lunch, I sat in on the Matt Schwartz Marketing Workshop, which was, without doubt, the single two most valuable writing hours I have ever spent. Really. No kidding. Matt was incredibly generous in sharing insider tips he uses to promote authors during his regular job in promotion and marketing at Random House. I have an amazing amount of work in front of me.

Saturday evening began with the mass signing, which I’d originally planned to simply attend for fun, but ended up deciding to sit down at after all, because so many people had things for me to sign. During the next two hours I signed copies of The Lucid Dreaming, Zombies, Mondo Zombie, Midnight Walk, and more things I’m not even remembering. Plus I got to sit with these guys:

(That’s Michael Louis Calvillo, John Palisano, and me)

BTW, for those of you who have never seen Mr. Calvillo read, you have no idea what you’re missing – one part mad scientist, one part caffeine junkie, and all talent. I also enjoyed readings by Gene O’Neill (well, okay – I pretty much enjoy anything involving Gene O’Neill), my doppelganger Lisa Mannetti, and John Palisano. Wish I could’ve heard even more signings.

(That’s Gene and Gord Rollo, who is signing my copy of his novel Crimson)

Saturday night I let Hal drag me into the Erotic Fiction Contest, which was far more entertaining than I’d expected. The judges were Sephera Giron, Wrath James White, Lori Perkins and L. A. Banks (and frankly, I can be happy with anything that involves Wrath visuals!). Bailey Hunter won with a torrid little tale of sex with Satan (is there any other kind?), but because she’d gone over she received a serious whipping, complete with remarkably loud and cringe-inducing smacks.

I managed to avoid the extracurricular outings to strip clubs (in fact, I didn’t leave the hotel once during the trip), but I got my share of David Lynchian weirdness in “Jack’s”, an Irish pub in the Palace Station that features cover bands in the evening. On our visit, watching the cover band was a large, beefy man in clown makeup and a wiry woman close to 60 who danced by herself on the tiny dance floor (when Yasmine asked the clown why he was there in makeup, he explained that he was “friends with the band”, then gave her a handful of candy). We were also encouraged to engage in food fights in the hotel’s buffet by a stone-faced waiter named Tony who brought as an endless profusion of bizarro foods (we left Tony a very fat tip indeed).

Sunday started with me receiving several lovely business propositions (including one that I initiated and that started with, “Sure, we’re open – have you published before?” At this point my name badge is spotted, and a gasp is followed by, “Oh my God, I am so sorry – yes, we’d LOVE to have something from you!”). As usual for me at these gatherings, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that my name actually does have some weight in the horror community.

We’d planned to skedaddle by noon on Sunday, but the hours dragged on as Skipp and Cody were suddenly revealed to be next year’s Guests of Honor, resulting in many photos snapped and handshakes exchanged. We didn’t leave until 3 p.m., but the return trip proved to be just as entertaining as the arrival had. Skipp even makes refueling stops fun, as you can see here, where he’s performing an impromptu dance:


We hit L.A. about 8 p.m. By 9 p.m. I was reeling from a sinus headache (which I’d somehow avoided in Vegas, despite the ever-present clouds of tobacco smoke everywhere). I guess I really am allergic to my hometown.

The weekend wasn’t just enlightening, rejuvenating and fabulous – it was also potentially a serious life-changer for me. News will follow when contracts have been signed.

Superhuge thanks to Wrath and Monica O’Rourke (who I cannot believe I met for the first time this weekend!) for chairing this killer shindig. Shout-outs to all the new and old friends, including those previously mentioned as well as Paul Gifford, Bill Gagliani, Dave Benton (I still can’t believe anyone in Vegas was shocked by his piercing!), Barbara Vey from PW, Amy Grech, Gabrielle Faust, Heather Graham, Roy and Liz from Bad Moon, Allen K., Jeannie and Mark Worthen, Rain Graves, Gardner Goldsmith, Brian Hatcher, William Ollie, and others I apologize for not mentioning. Heck, even Brian Keene was nice to me (I’m being silly here – Keene’s a generally sweet guy). What a terrific group.

Dragon*Con report by Lou Anders

<This report is reprinted from Lou’s blog>

This past Labor Day weekend was my very first time attending Dragon*Con as a publishing professional, and really my first “real” time at all. I say first “real” time because I went three years ago for a single day to see Jetse de Vries, who was there at the time with Interzone. I spent most of it with him at his table, watching the crowd pass him by for the guy next to him installing vampire teeth (at $60 a pair, using the same dental instrument and, seemingly, not bothering to clean it between applications). I left with the (mistaken) impression that it was a weird goth con with nothing to offer the book trade. I came back when Mike Resnick and others kept telling me that I had it wrong, and what’s more, the percentage of people there aware of and interested in books was growing every year, both in the demographics of the attendees and among the organizers.

So I was there with a specific agenda, which was to see if it was a place that Pyr books needs to be in future.

So in that light: Forget the 30,000-40,000 plus attendees or whatever the head count ends up being. I was personally most impressed by the number of publishing professionals there. Authors like Kevin J Anderson, Michael Stackpole, Gene Wolfe, Walter Jon Williams, Eric Flint, John Ringo, Alan Dean Foster, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Mike Resnick, Aleathea Kontis, Todd McCaffrey, Scott Sigler, Josepha Sherman, James Maxey, Catherine Asaro, Gail Z Martin, SM Stirling. And many more I didn’t run into, such as Peter S Beagle, JF Lewis, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher Golden, Diana Gabaldon, Charlaine Harris, Cherie Priest, Susan Sizemore, CL Wilson, Janny Wurts, Timothy Zahn, and Lois McMaster Bujold. (I’m leaving people out too, but the sheer number of famous/award-winning/best-selling authors in this list makes it comparable to a major literary con already.)

Then there was the art show – in a HUGE and very HIGH CEILING-ED space, and featuring artists like Bob Eggleton, Don Maitz, Rick Sternbach, and William Stout.

And then the publishers that were there – Editors like Ginger Buchanan (Ace/Roc), Pablo Defendini (, Stacy Hague Hill (Tor), Paul Stevens (Tor), Jennifer Heddle (Pocket), Toni Weisskopf (Baen), Steven H Segal (Weird Tales), Jason M Watlz (Rogue Blades), and of course Yours Truly representing Pyr books.

As to how all these publishing folk were being received, I myself spoke on three panels and did one live podcast (thanks, Mur!). The smallest panel had over 60 people in the audience, the largest around 120, and the podcast was standing room only with about 60 people. What’s more, they weren’t the same people all weekend. And lots of people came up to me and shook my hand and told me how they really appreciated what I said on my panels.

Personal highlights were hanging out with Mike & Carol Resnick, Jennifer Heddle, Mur Lafferty, Madelynn Martiniere, Pablo Defendini, Stacy Hague-Hill, James Maxey, Jason M Waltz, Rich Sternbach. Was great to meet Scott Sigler and the folks from steampunk costumers Brute Force Studios. Really loved the Baen books party Friday night (and Toni Weisskopf is rapidly becoming one of my favorite people.) Also loved meeting the folks from the Inner Worlds book discussion group too.

My assessment: This feels very much like the place to be, and if it isn’t yet, it’s going to be soon. Probably very similar in vibe to the San Diego Comic Con when it was smaller, before Hollywood became the driving engine. The other thing I noticed at Dragon*Con verses Comic Con is that, though it has that crucial young demographic, there seems more interaction between the age groups. You saw children, teens, 20/30 somethings, parents with small children, and old folks, all hanging out together, rather than all there and then peeling off to hang separately. I liked that a lot. For the writer looking to do business as well as meet with fans, it’s probably not there yet in the former category, but will be as more publishing professionals choose to attend in future. And in terms of the attitude of the con to publishing, both the organizers and the audience certainly communicated that they were interested in books in general and Yours Truly in specific. I felt appreciated, welcome, and productive. I felt something slightly different when the near-naked, 300 pound guy with a mohawk and fangs grabbed my ass on the elevator.

But hey, it was Dragon*Con, after all! At least some of my first impressions weren’t mistaken.

LouAndersA 2009/2008/2007 Hugo Award nominee, 2008 Philip K. Dick Award nominee, 2008/2006 Chesley Award winner/nominee, and 2006 World Fantasy Award nominee, Lou Anders is the editorial director of Prometheus Books’ science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr, as well as the anthologies Fast Forward 2 (Pyr, October 2008), Sideways in Crime (Solaris, June 2008), Fast Forward 1(Pyr, February 2007), FutureShocks (Roc, January 2006), Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film (MonkeyBrain, December 2004), Live Without a Net (Roc, 2003), and Outside the Box (Wildside Press, 2001). In 2000, he served as the Executive Editor of, and before that he worked as the Los Angeles Liaison for Titan Publishing Group. He is the author of The Making of Star Trek: First Contact (Titan Books, 1996), and has published over 500 articles in such magazines as The Believer, Publishers Weekly, Dreamwatch, DeathRay, free inquiry, Star Trek Monthly, Star Wars Monthly, Babylon 5 Magazine, Sci Fi Universe, Doctor Who Magazine, and Manga Max. His articles and stories have been translated into Danish, Greek, German, Italian & French.

SpoCon Report by Ann Wilkes

This con report was originally published on Ann Wilkes’ blog

Spocon Con report

Spocon Day one, Friday, July 31

I arrived at the con early enough to hit the dealers’ room before opening ceremonies. I ran into Maggie Bonham (M H Bonham) before opening ceremonies and invited her to read with me at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading in the morning. All the local Broads had other plans or were getting ready for WorldCon.

Last year, opening ceremonies was very entertaining, with Timothy Zahn and filking by Char MacKay. Of course, the bat flying around the auditorium was a nice touch, although no one could take credit for that but the bat.

This year was … different. I should probably stop right there before I slam the poor con com. But now you’re curious, aren’t you? Well, when Dennis Gagaoin said that we were about to reap the benefits of the con com’s months of fighting, that was clearly not a good sign. I’m not sure if the program they had originally planned fell through because someone bailed or they never truly spent time organizing the opening ceremonies. What followed was a lot of people standing up and pinch-hitting. It would have been better to just have one person apologize for the lack of any formal opening ceremonies and say, we have a great weekend planned for you filled with this, this and this. Now go have fun. But no one asked me. Luckily, I live two states away so I can’t be tempted to sort them out.

Having taken two planes to get there, and having to read at 9AM, I begged off of further con fun for the evening.

Day two, Saturday, August 1

Only one person showed up at the 9AM reading, so the readers outnumbered the listeners. I read from a story that is set in Chelan, WA and begins with a tragedy that really happened there in the 40s. Our audience of one cried. Maggie read from her new novel, Lachlei. We traded books, so I get to read the rest. 🙂

I stayed with my writing buddy, Sue Bolich, who lives near Spokane. (Way better than the dorm experience of last year , don’t get me started.) I had met Andrea Howe of Blue Falcon Editing last year. It wasn’t long before the four of us were the four musketeers for the remainder of the weekend, beginning with a panel Saturday morning. When we weren’t paneling, we were eating, talking and laughing our heads off.

My schedule of panels, as I said before, was a perfect fit for me. And my co-panelists were all marvelous, informative, polite and entertaining. My-Twit-Book, Sci-Fi and You Are you kidding me? What do I spend more time doing than writing? The artist guest of honor, John Picacio was on the panel and brought some pointed Twitter questions. I wasn’t much help with those since I’m still ignoring the (bird) call to tweet. We did have a lively discussion about posting or tweeting etiquette and how to silence people who fill up our walls or phones with a constant barrage. I met John in the green room (which moved not just once, as it did last year, but twice!). He was asking about the table tents and if his was there. I didn’t recognize him and said, “It would help if you told me your name.” He’s apparently forgiven me.

My next panel was in the same room ten minutes later. Another subject near and dear to my heart (and my writing): grammar. Andrea sat next to me on this one and after she made a Princess Bride and Firefly reference in asides to me, I knew: friends for life. Maggie, Sue and I had made lunch plans already. I invited Andrea and our little band of geeky, literary lasses was born.

I shared a signing with Patty Briggs. Her line was none-stop, a dozen people deep for the whole hour. I didn’t get a chance to speak with her, but she has obviously made an impression on a good number of people. I hope I can get to know her at a future con. I signed one copy of Awesome Lavratt.

Day 3, Sunday, 8/2

Sunday was yet another 9AM appearance. Good thing there was no drinking , or at least none that we bothered to find. The panel was on Worldbuilding. What could I possibly say sitting next to L E Modesitt, SpoCon’s writer guest of honor? Sue, Maggie and I still managed to look half-way intelligent. I picked up a couple of good book recommendations along the way: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, both by Jared Diamond, and A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat.

Three of the four musketeers (minus Andrea) had a nice conversation with Lee (Modesitt) in the hall after the panel. Very personable guy. And he redefines dapper. Mark Ferrari asked him how many vests he owns. His reply was something over 80! I had interesting chats with Mark in the (first) green room about publishing and writing. And I lugged Mark’s hefty tome, The Book of Joby, up to Washington just to get his autograph.

Mark and I were on a panel last year in which we created a story for the audience on the spot. What fun! He read Awesome Lavratt during the con and praised my sense of humor during the panel , bless him! We’ve been pen pals ever since. He was the artist guest of honor at SpoCon last year.

Something new this year was a charity thing where people bought little matchboxes with slips of paper in them for a buck. The slips of paper had a name of a guest or pro and a greeting. They had to find the person and offer the greeting. Then they got a donated item from that person’s goody bag. It was a nice idea, but will need some fine tuning for next year. I especially enjoyed signing one of my books (out of the goody bag) for an eleven-year-old girl.

My con report is rather limited. I didn’t attend the masquerade, I don’t game and I had to catch the flight back before the closing ceremonies. Still worse, thanks to the TSA (They searched my husband’s luggage and it poofed.), I had no camera for the trip. I should have picked up a disposable. Anyway, I took one picture with my phone and had a passerby take another. They looked great when I peered at them at the time. Apparently, not so much…

L to R: Sue, Maggie, Andrea

Ann in HatSmallerAnn Wilkes’ stories have appeared in magazines and print anthologies. Awesome Lavratt (2009, Unlimited Publishing) is a tongue-in-cheek space opera with mind control, passion and adventure. If her alien worlds don’t hook you, her sense of humor will. Visit, for a full bio, her blog and links to online stories.