Ah, well, what's new pussycat?
[Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Or visit the weblog at: Speaking of the Mad...
v Okay, fine. I broke down and made a weblog for the Thin Man. It's over here (maybe, if I got everything to work right).
v The webpage for Calamity's Child is up! Pop over and have a peak at the next book by the Thin Man. The book, published by Double Edged Publishing and serialized over at Ray Gun Revival is set to be released at ConClave in October, 2008. Then its over to Squirreled Away Books in Armada, Michigan on October 8th for a dual signing with author and editor par excellance Willaim Jones. And did I mention, there will be contests. Yes, the ultra-cheap and grumpy Thin Man is actually going to give away a few copies of the book along with other promotional goodies. I'll not part with the details yet but I can give a clue to the first contest: the soundtrack to the book. So put you thinking caps on and order the book today.
v Two months and two conventions down and the Thin Man is home. Mostly, he's been sleeping but even when he's awake, it's pretty clear why we keep the schedule limited. Two events back-to-back is too many, especially when they do not go smoothly. I cornered him about Omegacon first and received a heavy sigh and shake of the head.
"Cat," he said, leaning back in his chair, "How do you say bad things about good people? Omegacon was work, hard work, but that's not the fault of the fans or the convention workers. The good people of Alabama deserve a top-notch writing convention. They have a real love of the genres and are wonderfully hospitable. And, it was a first time convention. Listen, logistics eats your lunch. We all know it--been there, done that, got the scars to prove it. So the organizers started out with a lot of benefit of the doubt--or they would have if certain people involved with promoting the convention hadn't bragged in advance about how they were all convention veterans and there would be no problems. I mean, honestly, if you're going to put as the signature line in your emails that "No, I'm not a god but after this, you'll think so," then you have a responsibility to point out that said "god" I'll think you are is Yog-Sothoth, the blind, mewling, idiot god of chaos that sits gibbering at the heart of the universe." He stopped then to share some horror stories with me of such things as the convention forgetting Guests of Honor at the airport, not having hotel rooms for them, the total lack of not just a green room but even pitchers of water (and in one case, chairs) for the panelists. There's no real point in going into all the specifics. "The problems of the convention can really be summed up into one issue," he concluded at last. "A lack of leadership. Nothing will ever be perfect. When things fall apart, leaders fix things. What you cannot fix, you ameliorate. What you can't ameliorate, you mitigate. And what you cannot mitigate, you communicate. It's really that simple--put your head down and move. At Omegacon, when the going became difficult, the leadership hid. And since, when I was asked for feedback, I was subjected to the rolling of eyes and dismissal as a prima donna, I doubt there will be a notable learning curve in the future. That makes me mad; because the people deserve better and because all the volunteers who ran the convention, who picked up and led when the leaders fled, took the brunt of the dissatisfaction. There wouldn't have been a convention if it hadn't been for the ops folks and they took the hit." I asked if there were any good parts. "Oh my yes, lots. The ops volunteers for one. I met Ben Bova, Alan Dean Foster, and David Drake. Even better, I was privileged to speak with all manner of wonderful writers, almost too numerous to mention (though most work for Pyr or Baen). Perhaps my favorite discovery of the weekend was being able to spend a bit of time with Ann Aguirre--gracious cat, I'd rearrange my schedule just to do another even with her and Julie. The people of Alabama were even more gracious than I remembered and the bed-and-breakfast Cottage Cove was a small glimpse of fairyland itself. I definitely want to keep a southern convention on the schedule. I love the people." I asked if he would consider returning to Omegacon, assuming it was held again. "A year is a long time and a lot can change. Let me simply say that I'd be very happy to hear from Armadillocon or Mid-South."
After all this, I was a bit nervous about asking how Penguicon went but he waved away my concerns. "Penguicon was Penguicon. I've gone there since the second one and I'll miss it next year. Their are so many familiar faces, it's like visiting family. Tammy Pierce and Vernor Vinge were genteel and kind and I was thrilled to learn Mrs. Pierce is as passionate about literacy as I am. Bonus this year--Mad Mike brought his kids, Tammy brought Tim, and Sarah (Monette) introduced me to her husband. I like meeting families. We've buried so many writers over the last few years, it does my heart good to see another generation coming up. I got a copy of William (Jones) new book and was not disappointed--excellent Lovecraftian horror. The workshop seemed to go well. There's a lot I could gush about but I'm still tired. My biggest complaint is that the entire literary track and its presenters were treated like second-class citizens in the midst of a tech convention. But really, it was a good convention. Just hard for me to give the fans the attention and energy they deserve; I pushed to hard doing two cons back-to-back and I'm sorry if I didn't give anyone as much attention as they deserved."
He paused, then continued in a speculative tone. "There was one panel on literacy that confused me. I didn't pick up on it until it was too late to do much about it but the tone in the room seemed openly hostile. I couldn't figure out why until it dawned on me that, I don't think it was hostility as much as defensiveness. There was a huge amount of tension and pain in the audience of that panel and I'd like to know why. I suspect that understanding that defensiveness and pain would go a long way toward understanding many of the problems we've had teaching literacy. It's worth further thought." And with that, he stood and went back to bed.
When he gets back up, it's back to work on Calamity's Child and beyond that, looking forward to ConClave in October. I suppose I should set up a page of its own for the new book before he notices I've been goofing off.
v As much as I hate to be bothered with it, it looks like it's time to update things again. Let's see: yes, the Thin Man is still going to Omegacon and yes, he's still going to Penguicon (and hopefully he'll be able to pop into the local libraries and schools around Birmingham AL and Troy MI while he's out that way.) There's another short story you can go read for free over in the first issue of MindFlights (Pastels) and another one due out soon in Haruah (that one will be a print magazine but here's their website in case they do archive it online: Haruah. He also wrote the introduction for R. L. Copple's Infinite Realities.
Most importantly, the Thin Man has been working on the upcoming serialized novel Calamity's Child. It will be serialized in Ray Gun Revival monthly starting in March, 2008 before finally being released in book form. Definitely go read it, and if you like it (what's not to like?), log onto their forums and tell them so. If enough people want more, they'll run the book in bigger chunks to give you more faster. (Plus, it never hurts to tell a publisher that you actually enjoy and want to read more of the Thin Man's work so that they'll buy and pay more. Work with me people, I need cat food. I'm too old to mouse for a living anymore.)
That should be about it. Chuin Sartre's Wall and Bitter Ashes are still unfinished and the short stories come when the short stories come. Now where's my sunbeam; it's naptime.
v Well, it's been a couple of months since the Thin Man landed and stopped spinning. Let me quickly answer some frequently asked questions. If you rode the bus out of Fort Lenardwood MO and received a book and/or business card from M. Keaton: yes, that's our M. Keaton. If you got a signed copy of S&K in a box of books shipped to your APO/FPO: yes, he signed and sent a copy with every box that went out, specially dedicated to the soldier who put in the request for books on behalf of his or her unit. And, yes, if you are active duty and deployed, the bloody fool will try to answer every email, letter, or card and, if you want it, he will indeed sign and ship you your own copy of S&K as cost permits. And, yes, I probably misspelled Lenardwood. Be that as it may, here is the important news:
Thanks to the loyalty and support of all the fine people involved, we are humbled to report that a total of 1,664 books and 519 magazines were sent to thirty separate destinations throughout the theatre of the war from this location alone.
And we know of at least two other people who were also sending out boxes, though I think the bulk of them came through here to get dropped on the poor, unappreciated cat who is not so young anymore. In addition, we will continue to ship out boxes as we can (just at a much reduced pace, which is good since at some point the Thin Man needs to stop writing customs forms and finish his book that's due...well, basically now. He's a little behind).
Thank you all!
v Here's a bit of a quiz. If you take a doddering old man, put him on a bus, spin him in circles for a week, send him to a convention, make him load a truck, put him back on the bus again, make him unload a truck, then work a Ren. Faire, what do you end up with? I can tell you this by way of answer: it's not pretty to look at and it doesn't give very clear event reports for me to update the website with either. But I have managed to patch together a bit of the tapestry that was the Thin Man's October.
As far as I can translate from the mumbling, ConClave went well. It was not as personally enjoyable as it and other conventions have been in the past because the Thin Man's health was already waning and, as we already know, he doesn't sleep or eat very regularly when on tour. Nevertheless it was a fine experience and, most importantly, the book drive went very well. He's still working on the logistics of things like shipping and so doesn't have final numbers yet but he estimates that over six hundred pounds of books were donated. Since he was the one who just carried them off the truck, he may be estimating high but, from my own beady eyes I saw that there were enough books to fill more than two pallets.
There were grave concerns going into the NWA Ren. Faire so soon off the road. The Thin Man's voice was strained and he had a vicious cough settling into his chest but with his trademark mixture of stubborn and stupid, he appears to have pulled it off. At least, everyone seemed happy and there's been no hate mail here at the mountain. To quote our wandering bard, "We put on a good show. Bad business at times, but a very good show." Rumor says that there may even be pictures of the "Tea with the Queen" and if I play cards right, I may be able to get copies and post them. (Assuming I can figure out how to post images in html again. I swear this intermessthingee is hard to run—we need a fanboy to do it.)
So there you are—fragmented information from a fragmented man. Now we lock him in a cave for the next two months to finish "Calamity's Child" by January and only let him out to mail Mbags full of books to the troops. Once again we have a travel update that boils down to the statement: nobody died.
v Some quick updates. The Thin Man is indeed going to Omegacon in March. The podcast of his radio interview with Ray Gun Radio is now available from their site. And, by far the most important, a "Speaker for the Mad" section has been added to the "Introductory Essays" page, including the discourse "On Autism and Society."
v This is an important announcement. Yes, the Thin Man is going to be in Michigan for ConClave again this year but that's small potatoes compared to the charity event occurring at the convention that we are honored and humbled to lend our name and support to. So important, in fact, that we're going to repeat the entire press release right here:
Conclave New/Used Book Drive
A New and Used Book Collection Drive benefiting U.S. Military servicemen overseas will take place at Conclave
Conclave will be collecting new and used FICTION PAPERBACKS AND HARDCOVER BOOKS to be shipped to select destinations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Navy ships in the Gulf and hospitals treating recovering wounded. It is hoped that the donated materials can provide needed entertainment and comfort for those servicemen who are keeping the peace or on the mend from action in the Middle East.
Organizers of the Book Drive at Conclave are now readying logistical support for this consignment of books, which can be donated through Oct 13 2007 at the convention, and will be collected by dedicated volunteers helping to run Conclave. Special prizes will be raffled off to individuals who bring donations, whether they are from their personal collections or books purchased onsite at Conclave’s Book Merchandise area.
There are a small number of guidelines to follow for book donations:
Details covering these guidelines and links to a journal of this Book Drive’s progress will be available at Conclave’s website http://www.conclavesf.org
The Dorsai Irregulars
Sanctuary Press Author Collective
-and more are on the way.
Public relations contact and volunteer info:
v I've had a bit of trouble getting a coherent convention report from the Thin Man after he got back from Penguicon last week. He just keeps wandering about singing, "the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round..." Putting him on Greyhound™ may have been a bit much for our favorite agoraphobic but, when cornered, he can fight and hiss with the best of them so I expect him to come around. While he was away, Issue 22 of Abyss&Apex went to press and now I can point you over that way to read even more of the Thin Man's ramblings while we wait for him to say something that makes sense. The convention seems to have gone well and he sold out of books. As always, thank you to all the wonderful people who coddle him and keep him fueled and safe when we have to send him out. It is definitely appreciated. What? He just wandered by to impart the following words of wisdom, as near as I can translate them from his secret pidigin language of southern english, gaelic, and mumble: "I ain't tellin' the leaf story again. I'm not a childrens' author. There's girl cooties all over my genre. If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna get a sammich and take a nap." There you have it, if it makes any sense.
v Gracious, it's been a long time since we updated this circus, mostly because it has been a circus around here and partially because a certain cat lacks a certain skill in the arcanum known as 'ftp'. Today the Thin Man is sulking so it's time to play a bit of feline catch-up. (He got hate mail again. You'd think for a man who prides himself in his mercenary ruthlessness, he'd be a little less vulnerable to that kind of thing—especially when it comes from people who misspell curse words and forget to use punctuation and capitalization. The dark secret is, we cats think that deep down, he's a big softie.)
Well, let's start with some technical issues. It seems that, depending on the various inter-whingee viewing systems, sometimes the links to the documents on the site don't work. I have found the problem; the slashes are backwards and some browsers turn them into "%2f". I have no idea how to fix it. Until I do, I fear you'll have to replace the "%2f" or whatever with slashes on your own. Sorry about that.
The Thin Man did indeed go to ConClave and he did come back grumpy (because he is what he is, after all) and there were no injuries from the reading of "Troll Snot". He had a good time in spite of the convention. That is to say, there were some scheduling and logistical problems (which are disproportionately bad things on our dear clinically agoraphobic boss) but the people involved in the convention took such good care of him that the good outweighed the bad. That's not easy to do with him so they must be really special people.
An evil thing occurred shortly thereafter. While he was still weary and dazed from travel, the great and might Editor and good lady wife, volunteered him to work at the first local Renaissance Festival at the nearby university—with children again no less. Somehow, it all worked. He was told to come back anytime he wanted, then asked to be permanent staff, and last I heard was being herded onto the Festival's Board of Directors (they promised he could communicate by email from home instead of come to meetings—he still won't go out of the house that much).
In October, he hit print again in Ray Gun Revival with a sci-fi piece called Subject Real. It's on-line in their archives if you wanted to pop over and have a look (issue #8; let me see if I can stick a link in here: Link Thing Yes, well, maybe that worked. Rumor has it that he'll pop up in another pro rag in mid-2007 but I'm not allowed to see more until "the check clears" as the boss so cynically puts it.
The novel S&K has gone into it's sixth year in print which I think is good news even if Himself insists it's "old news, cat. What have you done for me lately, that's the market. I want a new spine.".
Well, if we can convince him that the world isn't out to get him and that he will not have to deal with hateful people harassing him at panels (a hard sell right at the moment but he might come around) and get him to return to Penguicon again, there should been a new work on the sales table. Not a book, exactly, at least, not a full size one, but I've seen the galleys and it's something between wonderful and hilarious. We shall see, we shall see. (Did I mention he's in a bad mood now? Have I mentioned that he takes it out on poor lovable cuddly chubby me? Would it kill you people to send nice fan mail?)
Anyhow, that's the news such as it is. I'll try to add the latest "Puck and the Professor" tale to the fiction page now but I'm not making any guarantees.
v Ohhh, we sent him out again. At least this time gas is cheaper so maybe he won't come back as grumpy (fat chance of that). The Thin Man will be at ConClave in Romulus, Michigan October 6th through the 8th. He's scheduled full and he talks loud so you shouldn't have trouble finding him if you're looking. This time he has to do "Troll Snot" to short people (maybe we'll get casualties) and once again reappears to terrorize the Writer's Workshop.
v Jim Baen died today. Ain’t much to say.
v The Thin Man didn’t make it to ConFusion in January (truck problems) but he did go to Penguicon 4.0 where he did a few panels (including the already near-legendary “Tea Parties in Science Fiction”), read the “Troll Snot” story to a crowded green room, and taught in their Writer’s Workshop (which he insists is a solid case of the pot calling the kettle black). After over a week on the road, this is what I hear storming through the door in the middle of the night.
“We’re a nation of whining children, I tells ya. I drive over two thousand miles, but am I complaining about gas prices? NO! Because I understand a free market. And because I’m an adult. Here, cat, follow this math: two thousand miles at twenty miles to the gallon is what? A hundred gallons of gas. Oh no, the oil companies are making a profit of eight blasted cents per gallon—not that it’s really profit, but never mind. So, the whole trip costs me eight bucks more, and for that eight bucks I get gas everywhere I need it. I don’t call that gouging, I call it a right fair deal. Especially since them government thieves are taking way more than eight pennies off me in tax. So what’s all the news, all the time, the whole trip? Oh no, how will mommy government save us from this horrible burden? I swear, cat, no good comes of dealing with human beings.”
I should hasten to point out that, in point of fact, the Good Lady Wife and Boss did all the driving; but he’s road dizzy, completely exhausted, and totally manic, so I just let him go on and look up adoringly—which, of course, is my job.
“Wonderful convention, as always. Great people, even for humans. Go update the website and thank them all. No wait, don’t list them individually because you’ll forget someone. Wonderful folk, just wonderful. Good to see everyone again, never enough time for the good things in life. Plenty of time for idiots to cut us off on the road and plenty of orange barrels to mess up traffic but never enough time for what’s important. Nobody died, so we’ll call it a success. (Destroy us all! Destroy us all!) Oh, it’s good to be home. I’m going to sleep for a few days and then be sick for a couple after that. If anyone comes up the hill, just shoot ‘em and tell ‘em I died.”
At this point, he threw himself at a chair, missed, and just sat on the floor with a glazed expression. I wasn’t worried about his instructions to shoot at people because he knows as well as I do that cats can’t aim worth a plug nickel. About the time I figure he’s either passed out or lapsed into catatonia, the Thin Man starts jabbing a finger in my general direction and giving orders.
“Folks might want the book, although I’ve no idea why. Put the contact info up near the top of the page. Tell ‘em to send fan mail and boost my ego while they’re at it; that oughta scare ‘em off. And put in a plug for Freon and Mrs. Attwell. People ought take a look at their stuff; indies need more support. Have anybody who still wants to read over the first five chapters of CSW send me a note too, in case I forget. Good convention…but I’m still not coming down off the mountain more than once or twice a year. Too many humans--way too many humans.”
And with that, he trailed off and fell asleep in a kind of lumpy triangle until the Good Lady Wife and Boss got him to bed. (By the way, CSW is his internal short-hand for Chuin Sartre’s Wall, the sci-fi novel he’s working on, or should be after he returns to the living.) Mail to the Thin Man (as well as book orders—yea, that’s likely) can be sent to email@example.com and we’ll get it to him some time while he’s not flailing around on a rant. Most likely, I’ve just received the sum total of the convention report from Penguicon this year.
v So, we are officially in situ as they say. As of December 17, 2005 A.D., much chaos shall ensue and the moving process begins. We'll still get messages, process orders, and the like but the response time may be a bit slower. Truthfully, the only thing that is known for certain at this junction, is that nothing is known for certain. There should be no noticeable change but, well you never know. Be patient and have faith. And barring horrible snowstorms or great illness, we'll send the Thin Man back to ConFusion (where he will read the draft manuscript of "Purple Wings and Troll Snot") and then up again for Penguicon.
v And now, a word from our sponsor:
"November is National Adoption Month and the Missus came to me and asked if, pretty please, I could make the cat put a link or two on the site. Fact is, I want more than that. I don't ask for much, but this is important. Take a minute and think about your family; not just your parents or children or siblings, but about your family. Family. The people who are the protectors of your heart and the reminders of who you are. It's not about blood; it's about commitment. Think about them. Take as long as you need and I pray that you need a lot of time because you have a lot of them. I shall not ask you to think about life without them; you know what adoption and fostercare mean. But do think about what life without any concept of family would have been like. It's not as simple as no parents; it's about not having even the concept. No pattern to live your life from. No idea how to have a family of your own. No context. Not even a flawed, screwed up dysfunctional mess to use as a yardstick to measure by and try to avoid. Nothing. Yes, I know it sounds dramatic and emotional but I'm not making a charity pitch; I want you to make an effort to understand the stark reality that is.
"Now think about it through the eyes and the understanding of a child, most likely a child on psychotropic medicine (most in the system are). And if you have a sibling, will they split you up? And, if you find a home, if you get sick or cause trouble will they send you back? If they have children of their own, will they still want you? If you get too old, will you ever get out? If you outgrow the system, will you figure out a way to live without family or will you end up homeless on the street? If and if and if on into sleepless nights; a permanent existence of if. Nothing solid, no bottom, ever. For a moment, see it.
"I hope that you can't; that the concept is so foreign that you just flat cannot wrap your mind around it. I can't. I'm not a terribly empathetic person. But what fraction of it I can glimpse scares the daylights out of me. And I know for a fact that some of you, some of my very treasured and dedicated readers can, because you lived it. You people blow me away. The things you have overcome and the things you have built and done with your lives leave me amazed at your strength. The same goes for the people who do adopt or foster successfully, the people who somehow transcend the mob of humanity and decide that the soul is more important than the sperm, that family is a bond of spirit rather than mere blood—the people who take on parenting as a full contact, lifetime commitment and make it happen because it needs to happen.
"Sappy? Maybe. Cruel? I damn well hope so. I'm not going to say give money or donate your time or any of that clichéd pap. No, I'm greedy. What I want is for you to follow the links and look at the faces. Go and look at the faces of the waiting children. I'll wait.
"Now go say thank you. You know to whom and you know why. Make a call, write a note, say a prayer, wherever, whoever, however. As for the faces, do what you need to do."
v Okay, I don't think the Thin Man is going to get around to last years convention report before this years convention. He's like that. On the other hand, he and the Boss actually had company over. Sure, we had to drug him up some before they arrived but it went well. There were other people in the house and he wasn't miserable (might even have enjoyed it). Who were these wonderful people (and they were wonderful and quite generous with table scraps for a poor miserable starving beggar)? I'm not sure they would be flattered by public association with the likes of us but I can say, they were people that, if you knew them, you would be jealous of their time here and, if you didn't know them, you would wish that you did.
v Yes, yes, we know that there is still no real Penguicon report up (and it really was a good convention) but things around here are running at a breakneck pace as we prepare for the move. And no, we still don’t know to where yet. The millwheels have begun to grind towards ambitious things and we’re not yet allowed to let the, erm, ‘cat out of the bag.’ However, it is with great delight that we announce two matters that may bring increased joy to your lives. First off, the new Mewses list should be activated any day now so if you wanted to be part of the insanity and don’t get a welcome message, shoot us an email. (We always forget and leave someone off.) Even better, (drumroll….)
The Discourses with Puck are going up onto the website! For those who haven’t read any of these rambles, you’re in for a treat. It took some convincing to get the Thin Man to let us put them up “for free” but they’re worth the fight. The work that started it all “Lord of the Puddle” is on the site now and the next discourses will come up as they get formatted. Seriously, if you haven’t read one, it’s worth the time. Let us know if you enjoy the first one so that we have more leverage to get the Thin Man to pry his fingers loose from the others.
v Ha! We sent the Thin Man back to school. Okay, technically we sent him to talk to a classroom of bairns. For a man who “officially” hates children, he seemed fairly happy about it.
“Hello to Ms. Wemyss’ second grade class, one of the best audiences I have ever had. Thank you so much for your kind indulgence and for listening patiently to my disconcerted ramblings. (Yes, I know, too many big words. I’ll wait a bit while you look them up in the dictionary.) It was a true pleasure to come and visit. I know that some of you wanted to stay in touch, have me look over some stories, and generally help you on the long road toward writing. Well don’t be shy about it, go ahead and zip me a note, I’d be flattered to help. I hope you all have a good summer break and thank your teacher for having me in. (And don’t end a sentence in a preposition or start one with a conjunction.) Thanks again and good fortune in your studies.” [MK, May 16, 2005]
v Big letters now: New website with short and easy to remember address. ArchangelPress.net!
v This old site is shutting down soon and we’re already up and running at the new site. You can even yell straight at the Thin Man. He’s got his own e-mail box (though I doubt if he’ll read it). You can order books directly, signed, from the same address: Mkeaton@Archangelpress.net
v The Thin Man is going to Penguicon 3.0! They have him booked for almost wall-to-wall panel work all weekend so things look good. That’s right: he went last year and they want him back, louder and longer. April 22-24 in Novi, Michigan, come watch the trainwreck and check out the convention’s website for the rest of their guests and programs (http://penguicon.org/).
v [MK, April 13, 2005]:
“Damn sad day in a long string of damn sad days. I lost my Uncle. Actually, I know exactly where he is but he’s lost to me. No more stories told, no more questions answered, no more advice and comfort. Mourning is a selfish act of the living, perhaps the only selfish act without shame. My Uncle, he was a helluva man—helped build the Alaskan pipeline, fought in Korea, adopted and raised two children (lived long enough to bury one—a tragedy no father should ever have to endure). We grew up sharing property, living within hollering distance, close family. Most painful part is, he wasn’t just my Uncle. He was my Dad’s brother. Either you understand that or you don’t but trust me, it means something. In transience, meaning but right now I’m just damn tired of digging graves. Never expected the News to become a rolling obituary. Welcome to life, it’s a full contact sport. My sympathies, as well, to those who sorrow at Pope John Paul II’s passing.”
v [MK, March 02, 2005]:
“The last week in February, the world was irrevocably diminished. It is a wound that will not heal, a pain that will not pass, but we the living go on. It was his desire to pass quietly without fuss or memoriam but words are all I have for a man who deserved much more. Lee Kirkpatrick was a great man. He was a quiet man in this day and age of flash and hype when too easily the quiet are passed over unrecognized. A gentle man and devoted father, he possessed a greater depth of compassion in his smallest finger than I have in my entire body. He was always a stalwart fount of support for all of us around him and believed in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. He fought through horrid weather to bring his family to my first book signing just to support me. That’s the kind of man he was, thinking of his friends and family first and himself a distant second. There is more I could say, more I probably should say, but it will always be too much and not enough. Without him in the world, I am forever lessened. He was my friend. That was more than enough.”
v February 24, 2005:
Let us pause in life's
There's a pale drooping maiden
- Stephen C. Foster, 1854
v ConFusion was a wonderful experience hosted by wonderful people. The Thin Man’s report, in a nutshell, was this: “For three days, I had a place in the world. Instead of being the crazy hermit living at the edge of town, I was a man in proper context. Then I had to come home and pay the gas bill.” With this, he then went to bed and slept for a few days straight. For the record, the two panels he was scheduled for swelled to six (since as we all know, the man just cannot stay still and has an opinion on everything). I should press him for a more detailed report but other events have intervened and now is just not the time. There were more great people involved than there is room to record but I have a list of a few I’m ordered to link to and recommend. Emma Bull and Will Shetterly were every bit the amazing people you would expect them to be and the Thin Man pestered Will mercilessly most of the weekend. Steven Brust (rhymes with Boost) was his usual charismatic self. The Fabulous Lorraine and Emma sing with the voices of angels and their albums are a “must buy” for everyone with a love of music. Stephanie Bedwell-Grime deserves special mention as a gracious person, skilled writer, and patient companion through many panels and a long, lonely book signing. Anne Harris, Rebecca Meluch, and Jacqueline Carey all were outstanding people with which to share panels (especially the Villian’s discussion). Right now, nothing is set in stone but the Thin Man is looking forward to Penquicon 3.0 the last full weekend in April.
v January 21-23, 2005 at the Troy Marriott Hotel in Troy Michigan, we’re risking the Thin Man appearing in public again. He’ll be a panelist at the Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention ConFusion (http://www.stilyagi.org/cons/2005/index.php). Jump over and check out their site to see all the exciting details and Guests of Honor for the convention. Right now, he’s scheduled for two panels Saturday morning and will not have a table in the dealer’s area but things can change. Knowing the Thin Man, he’ll end up on or at a lot more panels and he’ll find somewhere to sign his book. If you’re in the Detroit area, come down and see if we can avoid disaster again as the infamous hermit leaves his cave. (And look forward to Penquicon 3.0 in April.)
v Personal News: It’s been a hard winter on top of a hard year here at AAP central. For those who have wondered where everyone has been, let it suffice to say: it has been a year of sickness coupled with disappointment. Speakers and Kings did not win the Mythopoeic and We Shall All Go Down Together did not win the Hemingway. Both of these are disappointments because the works were solid contenders and there was a real belief that at least one of them would win. Pneumonia and bronchitis are competing with the flu for a body count around here and it makes it hard to get anything done. The good news is: (1) the Thin Man completed the manuscript for Red Scythian (historical adventure—if you want to be one of the Mewses for it, shoot us an e-mail) and (2) we found an incredible illustrator for the children’s book and she has done some amazing work.
v [MK. June 9, 2004]:
“On a sweltering summer day in 1985, I stood in the Capitol Rotunda. A coffin lay in state in the austere silence. It was a very empty place—one viewer, one honor guard, one wreath—and the emptiness was filled with ghosts. The eulogy had been given; the mourners—family, friends, and fellow service men—were gone. The body remained, patient in the lonely stillness of the chamber.
In that long, silent vigil, after the formalities, I was the second to come to pay personal respects. One other man had come before me, unhearalded and genuinely grieved. He had a meeting in California at a time that other men would call ‘first thing in the morning’ and would be gone for several days. So, he had come, in the painful, early hours when night fought to become morning, to honor a soldier he had never met. It is in moments such as these that the measure of a man is truly taken.
He came, not because he had to or for any personal gain. He came because it was right. Because he was the fallen soldier’s commander. Because, no matter how high he rose in the eyes of men, President Ronald Regan believed himself to be a servant, not a master; a trustee of a grand legacy.
Today, it is the President himself who lies in the Rotunda, surrounded with the love and gratitude that he himself gave to every fallen, forgotten soldier; to every American citizen; to every sovergien Divinely crafted human being. He was a distant friend, a personal hero, and, in the best possible sense of the phrase, a good and faithful servant. He was my Alexander.
Good night, my King. Rest in peace.”
v AAPress has put out a call for young illustrators in the Michigan area. If you know a youngster who might be interested, have them speak to the Art Director of their local school or have them e-mail us directly.
v Penquicon 2.0: Yes! We finally drove the Thin Man out of hiding and back to a convention. He did not want to go and he did not go gracefully but he did go and now he is glad he did. (As if we would give him bad advice.) His thoughts? Read them here first:
“There is a myth that when you dream of falling, if you land, you will die. Those of us raised on comic books and pulp adventure know better. We land in a three-point stance, arm out for balance, the fingers of our free hand spread wide, ready to leap to the attack. The pavement cracks beneath our feet and ripples outward from our impact. And we dream in the daytime.
After a few years of health-imposed withdrawal, it was nice to walk among my own again. They aren’t always pretty, but nine of ten, their heart is large and their spirit, great. Without realizing it, I missed them.
Yes, I went to Penguicon and I enjoyed it. That’s my wife’s fault. She made all the arrangements and all the preparations. She designed my backdrop, packed the boxes, and kicked me in the butt until I got in the car. All of this in spite of my open opposition to the idea and a black, vile torrent and pessimism. I’m a stubborn man too. For the first day and a half of the convention she had to endure my sullenness before I finally decided that sunlight and the dreaded OUT was not going to kill me. But I married for stubborn and mean, and my beloved Cheryl delivered. She refused to give in and I had a good time in spite of myself. (She even “monkeyed” my booth and tended to my capricious whims despite the fact she’d have rather been home). I am a petty little man; I was wrong, she was right, and I appreciate it (even though I will still drag my feet and whine like a spoiled child next time she wants me to go OUT again).
I did get to meet Neil Gaiman (although it was definitely a busy kind of ‘ships in the night’ passage) and he’s the gentle, appreciative, humble man you would assume him to be. (I hope he finds time to read S&K and enjoys it; but right now, he is one busy git.)
I spent the overwhelming majority of my time chained behind my table, signing, selling, and talking—mostly talking.
I had the incredible good fortune to be assigned a table alongside Jane Irwin and Paul Sizer. For those who don’t know, they are both graphic artists. Jane does Vogelein: Clockwork Faerie and Paul does Little White Mouse. (Hey, dumb cat, put links to their websites here so people can go buy their stuff!)
When the Con started, I was not a happy camper. I didn’t want to be out (hermit by nature, after all) and I had a splitting headache. Not an oh, my head hurts ache but an if someone lost their ax, it’s planted in my skull kind of ache. A handful of aspirin reduced that down to an ice pick through the back of my right eye, but I was not exactly a fount of positive energy.
Jane Irwin was. She swept in like an hurricane and filled up her space and mine with an electric enthusiasm that was more contagious than SARS and much healthier. Combine savvy professionalism with the energy of a wee bairn and you have some idea of the experience which is Jane. I think her personal mantra is “See Jane Run” and my favorite line of the weekend was, “Of course I’m going somewhere. The question is, do I have somewhere to go?”
I could say a lot more nice things about Jane but I’d rather use the space to talk about her work. It’s very good and you know that I don’t say things like that lightly. V:CF is in black and white. It is painted in black and white! Artistically, visually, it is a masterwork, and that’s not even taking into account the story itself which is so sweet that it makes my throat tighten, but so real that I don’t get a sugar rush. Thematically, she’s solidly in Neil’s sandbox and running parallel to my own I, Oberon project. Jane is telling faerie tales literally and metaphorically and she does the fey no injustice. I can also vouch for the fact that she puts reams of research into her work and it shows. How impressed was I? I went to my rep at B&N and told them to put it on the shelf.
I can’t talk so much about Paul’s work because I was so fascinated by Paul Sizer the man that I forgot to take the time to really look at his stuff. While Jane was off running from panel to panel, Paul was gracious enough to talk with me about life. This was a terribly flattering thing for me because Paul is the kind of man that I would be proud to have as a friend.
I make fast judgments about people and I’m rarely wrong. It’s not that I’m any stellar judge of character, but rather that as part of my job as an author, I’ve devoted years to studying human beings and reading the signals they give me. I watched how gracious and patient Paul was talking with fans and parents. I watched the way he interacted with the Con staff. I watched him interact with Jane and my wife (who prefers that I do not mention her name on the website). Most of all, I watched his face light up with joy and passion as he talked about his work with children and as we discussed education. If you ever have the chance to talk with Paul, don’t fall into the trap of just discussing comics and art—talk to the man about life. Don’t waste the opportunity to speak with a member of a dying breed in this day and age—a noble man. Although it may embarrass him for me to say it, Paul cares so much for the people around him, friend or stranger, that it doesn’t even occur to him to be selfish. Should you buy his work? Absolutely. It’s solid and enjoyable. More importantly, if you can afford it, you should never turn down an opportunity to support a man dedicated to giving so much of himself to his community.
Tell your local bookstore that you want to see Jane’s Vogelien and Paul’s LWM on their shelves and instruct your local library that they absolutely must have the two of them come in and give a presentation for the children. There will be no regrets on either front.
So, how was the convention? I have no clue. My readers were wonderfully supportive and, as always, their devotion and praise humbles me. It saddens me that I can’t be among them more often. Jane and Paul (now officially one entity, congratulations to both) were magnificent. Neil was gracious (and a bit daft from exhaustion by the end). The staff were excellent and well beyond average in attitude. Most importantly, everyone I came in contact with was gentle and kind (geeks have big hearts). The experience was good enough that I am seriously considering ConClave in the fall. From a man who pretty much hates all of humanity, I guess that’s praise enough.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to practice my whistle.
v M. Keaton is now listed on SciFan.com. This is a pretty handy site for fans of Science Fiction literature.
v Never Forget. National Military Appreciation Month: May 2005
v As always, we can be reached at Archangel Press, Remote Office.