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Aegon Is Coming...

 ... tomorrow morning.

 We're putting up a sample from THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE on my website, to join the samples from the next Wild Cards book (LOWBALL) and of course from WINDS OF WINTER (Mercy).  It's a short excerpt from the section of Aegon's Conquest, complete with some kickass art.

And by the way, those of you who read only this Live Journal  -- and there are a lot of you -- should check out my actual website some time.  There's loads of interesting material there, from news stories to biography and bibliography and sections on my toy knights.

Anyway, do hope you all enjoy the Aegon piece.  It will be up on the morrow.

Wednesday Already

This morning I had one of those strikingly awful dreams, in the few minutes between first waking and actually getting up: I was watching/experiencing a film, maybe made in the 1970s, that chronicled a witch-trial from Germany in the 1500s; a total frame-up from the get-go, in which two people were essentially being accused of witchcraft for conducting a sexual affair outside of marriage. There'd been the usual roundelay of humiliation and torture, and now I was making a long, uninterrupted tracking circuit around a huge hall where the protagonists were being burned alive together, each in one bowl of what appeared to be a huge pair of scales that rocked back and forth like a teeter-totter up above.

Under my feet the floor of the hall was ridged and odd-feeling, and when I looked down I saw that that was because other witches had been entombed with their rotting, half-mummified faces sticking up through the surface of the floor, while elsewhere it was dotted with ear-shaped hole that gave me to understand there were dungeons beneath where other accused people listened, waiting to die as well. At a certain point the film started running backwards--our protagonists' skin blushed back from black to pink, their wounds healed, they put their clothes back on, they climbed out of the scales and ran outside, where they were promptly re-arrested and I realized the whole thing was going to happen all over again.

Yeah, anyhow. A penetrating sense of dread and sorrow, haunting in the extreme. So I made myself wake up again, with a wrench, and went about my day.

Last night, for example, I discovered that "Drawn Up From Deep Places" is back on the market again, since its original venue has gone out of business; scoped out another since, so I'm going to spend some time de-pornifying it a bit, and send it off there. (Don't worry, I'll preserve the original "cut" for later.) I also need to push myself through the piece for Aghast Magazine, currently called "Cuckoo," which I hope the editors will like. It's an odd little piece--more a monologue than anything else, and consolidates a few of the less charitable ideas I've had lately about how some people react to the difficulties of being the parent of a "special needs" child. I don't want it to be too "bok-bok," though, so I have to be careful. Better to push through and fix it later, though, as ever.

And the vertigo is still there, though a little better, at least. I'm hoping to work out tonight. Maybe not to do yoga, because sometimes that makes it worse--the lying flat part.

I'll leave you with a link I discovered this morning: the amazing story of Geeshie and Elvie, two formative blueswomen whose music has sparked obsession in hundreds of collectors, but whose lives outside of a brief creative intersection remained a mystery until, with painstaking care, a series of fragments and interviews were compiled to solve--possibly--at least some of the questions their songs raise. I really like the interactive aspect of this article, which allows you to listen to the sections of music it quotes, and definitely think these ladies deserve a book, a movie...whatever. To be heard and not known is a very weird sort of immortality indeed. Check it out, here (

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Deadfast by Mark McCann

This is a book I've been meaning to read for a very long time. I saw the first few chapters back in 2010. Mark introduced himself at the Requiems for the Departed launch and asked if he could send some of his writing my way. He seemed like a decent bloke and I had a beer buzz on, so I said, "Go for it, mate," or something similar. I read the first chapters in early draft form, offered some advice and left him to it. In the intervening years, Mark McCann has become a force to be reckoned with. He's now best known as the Bad Man, founder of the geek-tastic mega-site Bad Haven, but is also moonlighting as a Norn Iron horror hack, following in the big footsteps that Wayne Simmons has laid out over the last few years. You'll learn more about the Bad Man if and when he agrees to do a Q&A. In the meantime, this post is meant to be about his first novel.

Deadfast appeals most directly to the part of me that penned Fireproof. But I think McCann pushed the premise further than I managed. Read that as, if you liked Fireproof, you'll love Deadfast. It's a supernatural-crime fiction combo set in Belfast as narrated by an 'odd job' man with a penchant for vampire slaying by the name of Terry Fennell. If Joss Whedon were to set a Buffy spin-off in the wee big city of Belfast, he'd be hard-pressed to top Deadfast. In Terry Fennell, McCann invokes the spirit of Dashiell Hammett's Spade, possesses Bateman's Dan Starkey and sets him loose on the undead underbelly of Ulster.

Upon mentioning the Bateman, I feel it necessary to point something out. My keen investigative eye spotted that Deadfast's cover unabashedly imitates those of the latest Bateman books, but that seems fair enough. I don't know for sure, but if McCann isn't a Bateman fan, I'll be very surprised, so I'm counting the similarity as an homage to one of his influences. Of course, the Bateman-esque, smart-alecy black humour that permeates the novel could simply be McCann's default setting.

For the more nitpicky among you (and I lump myself into that category), you should know that this is a self-published title and McCann hasn't quite smoothed out all the rough edges of his writing style, but what I read was a huge improvement on my first introduction to his work. He's working hard at his craft and will only get better. And let me be clear, bar some minor typos and a bunch of missing commas, Deadfast is pretty close to professional level. Close enough for me to recommend it, whatever that may be worth to you.

If you're looking for Northern Irish crime fiction with a supernatural flavour, look no further than Deadfast. And if you like it, guess what... a sequel's already available! Looks like it features The Saint more heavily. I could write another paragraph about why that's exciting, but you could figure it out yourself by reading either novel, I'm sure. Also, as you can plainly see on McCann's Amazon page, a shorter work is available that looks like it spends more time with Mister Malawkus, Fennell's raucous tomcat pal. I'm more of a dog person myself, but I'm likely to give this one a go in the near future anyway.
So the cover of SHATTERING THE LEY (coming July 1st) has now hit the online bookstores, which is good, since I think the cover rocks and will help people to notice the book AND also help get them to preorder their copies. (Seriously, preorders really help the author, so if you know your going to get the book regardless, please preorder.) Here's the Barnes & Noble link and here's the link to And just in case you missed it earlier, here's the actual cover:


We have a new, improved, and full of surprises SHIMMER!  Go look!  Free subscriptions are being offered!


Ghosts of the Places We Live Update #10

I am very nearly done with the 1979 section of the novel and in fact I am working on the final first draft scene of that section. I am having some trouble finishing it up, mostly because my brain doesn't want to write the ending I need to write. Part of me wants to treat this as the end of the piece, but in reality it is the part where the situation falls apart and sets up the finale in the 1999 section.

Working. Writing. Moving Forward.

1. Wrote about 3000 words this week.
2. Made some serious outline notes for the 1929 section.
3. Studied more Oney history.
Ghosts Of the Places We Live

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John Hodgman Returns...

 ... later that same night.

As previously announced here (see below), John will be coming to the Jean Cocteau to perform  his stand-up show I STOLE YOUR DAD, "presenting new observations on subjects including how to dress like a young and relevant person, fax machines and other obsolete technology, marihuana and Downton Abbey, the state songs of Tennessee, the film criticism of Ayn Rand, and how to spend your time when the world did not end like you were certain it would on December 21st of last year."

John H preferred photo

John's appearance is scheduled for 7:00 pm on Monday, June 2... but though the show is still six weeks away, we've had such a demand for tickets that we're almost sold out.  The Cocteau, please recall, has only 125 seats.  As of this morning, we had sold 108 tickets.  We expect the last few to be gone by week's end.

So it thrills me to announce that John Hodgman has agreed to do a second show for all his fans in Santa Fe.  The second show will also be on Monday, June 2, but starting at 9:00 pm.  Tickets to the late show will be available from the Cocteau website   starting today.  You can also call the theatre at 505-466-5528 or drop by the box office in person.

If you want to snag one of those last dozen or so tickets to the 7:00pm show, I'd advise you to act ASAP.  Meanwhile, for the night owls and those shut out of the early show, we now have the 9:00pm performance.  Admission is $20, with discounts for students and seniors.

John Hodgman is an author and performer best known as the “Resident Expert” on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his COMPLETE WORLD KNOWLEDGE trilogy, and for his podcast and New York Times Magazine column, Judge John Hodgman.

See you at the show.

Some stuff

What's up with Oliver? He's sitting up. See?


And doing other developmental stuff; checking with his mother when a stranger appears, picking things up with his thumb and forefinger, lots of babbling, and all the like. Hair hasn't fallen out, eyes (gray) haven't changed color yet, so many old wives seem to be spreading information of dubious quality.

Speaking of information of dubious quality that is not at all financial advice in any way, I've been noticing a lot of my writer contacts online sweating taxes. Most of them are Turbotaxheads, and they mostly seem to wait for everything—1099s, etc. to come in before starting their taxes. What I've been doing is setting stuff up in February and when anything new comes in, I turn on Turbotax and just enter it. Then on days when nothing comes in and I have a bit of time, I'll add up one pile of receipts (e.g., plane tickets, book purchases) in an evening and input that. When I don't receive 1099s, I know how much to input thanks to normal record-keeping. It just seems much less stressful to do taxes in bits and pieces. Anyway, I finished my taxes in late February.

Speaking of, I got a surprise royalty check yesterday, from an essay I wrote on the first Anita Blake book for the essay anthology Ardeur. I've participated in something like fourteen of those pop culture anthologies, and this is only the second to earn out. (The other was the one on House, which sold to a foreign territory to earn out.) And it was a decent little check too—enough for a dinner for two at a place with metal forks (but still paper napkins), I mean. Little surprise checks are always the best. They say, "Hey, remember that thing you did once? Remember that person you were? This is a message from that distant past: go buy some socks."