alanajoli: (mini me short hair)
Happy International Women's Day!


Back in 2006, Lindsay Archer and I sat (and sang, and entertained passers by) together at GenCon, selling copies of Into the Reach and other Chronicles of Ramlar RPG books. Now, with the final book of the Redemption Trilogy on the horizon, we've almost come to the end of the journey that started there.

To celebrate International Women's Day, DriveThruRPG is featuring games and novels by female game designers, writers, and artists. There's a lot of great stuff there, including quite a lot of Firefly RPG content from Margaret Weis Productions. Into the Reach and Departure, by virtue of being written by me and illustrated by Lindsay, are also included in the feature. I think this is a fantastic way to point out just how many women are creating works in the role playing game industry (thanks in part to leaders like Margaret Weis, who have been there since nigh on the beginning). It's nice to be a part of this community!
alanajoli: (mini me short hair)

There it is, folks! Lindsay Archer finished the cover art, and I could not be happier with her work. If you're interested in getting prints of her other projects, I noticed she has a number of things on sale at her store right now -- it's worth browsing through just to see her other projects!

And with that, I just have some random thoughts from an extra-tired weekend.
  • My characters really need to stay out of other people's worlds while I'm dreaming. First Lydia and Kennerly were on a train facing off with a changeling magician (reminiscent of Xen'drik) and the next night, Taru and Nara were in the middle of bad things happening in Skittersill, a bad neighborhood from Max Gladstone's Two Serpents Rise. They're really not equipped to handle such things...

  • As I was losing coherent thought, I wondered what it might be like if, in times of tiredness nearing dreamstate, you also lost your coherent physical structure. Would some people wander about with fuzzy edges all the time? Would the best rested among us have sharply defined exteriors?

  • Playing the voices of Elsa and Anna from Disney Frozen at the request of Bug has led me to wonder about the history and future of Arandell. According to my improvisational dialog, Anna's idea of national defense is to have Elsa craft an army of snow monsters, while Elsa prefers creating situations in which friction is reduced (as if gliding over ice), and conflict can be avoided. I also wonder what kind of adventure Rapunzel and Eugene had during the summer freeze that got them stuck with the rest of the courtiers attending the coronation. I suspect it was one of their first official state visits (what with neither of them having any sort of international relations training prior to marriage), and that they probably got up to some trouble preventing the Duke of Weaselton from getting away with something dire while Elsa and Anna were otherwise occupied...

I got to write about Frozen over at Questia, and I've been having fun with webcomic and game reviews at Black Gate Magazine. Otherwise, back to revisions for me!
alanajoli: (mini me)
I (and the art-reward backers) have gotten two images of Lindsay Archer's progress on the novel cover, and I'm getting very excited about where she's headed. It's going to be a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy!

But speaking of the trilogy, I now have in hand the re-edits from Shawn Merwin for book 1. Within the next month, I will be able to take those edits and turn the newly revised manuscript into an e-book. I told Shawn that the red showing on the first two pages was a little intimidating, but he promised me it cleans up after that.

In the meantime, I've been keeping busy on the autobio project, writing obituaries, and working on my next Choice of Games project, a Western with a little bit of mystery to it. The autobios this batch are tremendously exciting. I've gotten to work with Jim Hines on an original essay that had the same balance of laugh-out-loud and heart-wrenching I've come to expect from his novels. Joseph Bruchac did a fantastic update about his years in Africa, Pat Cummings provided amazing graphics from her illustration process for her update, and Eloise Greenfield wrote about, among other things in her update, filming her "Grandma Rap." I always enjoy working on the autobio project, but this batch has been especially fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final results once they hit the online databases.


Between review books, I'm also reading the finalists for the Mythopoeic Society's Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. I've really enjoyed being on the jury for both the children's and adult lists over the past few years, and there are a bunch of really good ones up this year.

Reading anything good lately?
alanajoli: (mini me)
Great news for art lovers! Lindsay Archer has agreed to let people in on the early stages of the art process, so we've created a $35 reward that includes all the $25 rewards, plus digital updates as Lindsay works on the cover. Our new stretch goal also involves art: If we hit $4300, Lindsay will do a signed and numbered limited series of prints of the cover art -- we'll start with 12 available as a $75 reward (which will also include everything from the $35 reward), and if demand is high (and we continue to raise funds), we'll make more available.

If you're not familiar with Lindsay's work beyond what I've already posted here (you've seen a lot of her work over the past few posts), she has an amazing gallery at her home page that is well worth browsing. I am delighted to have served as one of Lindsay's models as well!

I'd love to see us add more art rewards, and if we can keep raising enough funds, that will become an option -- but most of those rewards won't be available until we go over the initial budget. So if you'd like to see more of Lindsay's work show up in this Kickstarter, spread the word!
alanajoli: (Default)
Well, looks like there went my resolution to blog more often! I just wanted to drop in tonight to talk about the interview I just recorded with Brian LeTendre from Secret Identity Podcast (who is also the writer for the fantastic webcomic, Mo Stache) about Into the Reach. The idea was to do sort of a director's cut on the novel and we actually chatted about the book for a whole hour. Brian had just reread the book, and to my chagrin, he remembered far more about what happens than I do! I've not reread it since 2006, the year it was published, so it was incredibly fun to get back into that story and think about those characters, who were, effectively, good friends of mine for a couple of years. During the interview two sort of unexpected things happened. One, I read some sections of the e-book while talking to Brian, just as a refresher, and thought, "Hey, this was actually pretty good!" It's always both a surprise and a pleasure when I can look back at earlier work and be pleased with how it came out. The second was that feeling of reuniting with old friends, which I really hadn't expected. I realized, I miss these guys. It'll be very nice to get my head back into the world when we eventually start in on the editorial process again for Regaining Home.

In the meantime, I'm tickled that a few more copies have sold on DriveThru since I last checked. They're not going like hotcakes, but copies are selling -- which means that somewhere out there, folks are meeting the characters for the first time. They've got lives out there beyond me, and that is also exciting.

I've been thinking about my writing process lately, and I have some overdue blog entries I meant to write earlier -- but in the meantime, you should go look at Lindsay Archer's Steampunked Mythbusters, because they'll totally make you smile.
alanajoli: (lol deadlines)
I don't know how I do this. When I start out with a new calendar, it's blank and clean and pretty! (My 2009 calendar is a lovely print calendar by Lindsay Archer (the 2010 version is available here if you're interested.) And yet, somehow, those dates get filled with black ink to mark my day job hours, blue for appointments, purple for classes, and green for social engagements. (I switch colors on pretty much everything except the red deadlines and the black day job hours -- I'm not as organized as I'd like to think.)

Usually, I'm a few steps ahead on the autobio project -- though, granted, the first half of the year deadline is always much easier than the one late in the year (because I get the contract for both in the late summer/early fall, which means the first deadline is a crunch and the second deadline is languid and serene). This time around, I had to hand off more than usual to fellow copyeditor and Substrater Michelle while I organized the administrative details. (It's a good thing she's a copyeditor I really enjoy working with! I love working on the essays myself, so it's hard to hand over the work to someone else. It has to be someone I trust -- and Michelle certainly fits that bill.) I've got a great batch of writers this time around, and I'm very much excited to see them all in print.

But in the meantime, there's a 4e adventure that needs to be finished over the weekend, not to mention the rest of my first chapter installment in my joint Baeg Tobar project with [ profile] lyster. (Have I mentioned Blood and Tumult by name yet? No? It's in progress! I'm 1500 words in on my first segment -- unfortunately not the full 3000 that would let me pass it back to Max. *sigh*) I have School Library Journal reviews that need to be written, not to mention the overdue reviews for Flames and the overdue article edit for Journey to the Sea. (Alas, the free work always ends up falling behind those paid assignments.)

I was raised to keep myself busy as a kid, and I think I've taken that lesson to heart. My mother was the kind of teacher who always had several projects going outside of the classroom -- the biggest one was building a life-sized rainforest in an empty mall store. So I'm sure I get some of this impulse to take on so many projects from her.

One of these days, though, I think I'd like a vacation. It's a good thing I've forbidden myself from taking any work that's due in March! (I'll be busy with another little thing around then, but she's sure to be a handful.)


Sep. 4th, 2008 09:54 pm
alanajoli: (sisters-sun)
This is about the time of year when it occurs to me that I actually need to start marking time in 2009. In part, this is because our library has Sunday hours for the school year, so we volunteer to work shifts on Sundays, usually one a month or so, right around now. To do this well, it requires actually having some idea about how the next year is going to work--or at least making sure you mark down in advance what dates it is you've volunteered for.

When I was at MythCon, I just barely missed being able to purchase a Ted Nasmith calendar for 2009. (Nasmith is known for his Tolkien art, which is, in my opinion, fantastic.) They'd sold out on the first day, which is no real surprise, and it is not yet available in stores. Strike out on that one. Yesterday, however, I discovered that Lindsay Archer (whom I've raved about numerous times) has a calendar available at her DeviantArt site. Eureka! Now I can actually plan ahead for those deadlines I hope to have in 2009.

For those of you with writing deadlines: how do you keep track of them? I started with a planner and ended up finding that a wall calendar, where I can see a month at a shot, ended up working better for me. Any ingenious organizational strategies out there I haven't contemplated?

Souls in Silicon, by Jeff Duntemann
"Head above Water," and adventure for LFR, Cormyr (by portion)

alanajoli: (Default)
I went to my very first Gilbert and Sullivan performance tonight. I'd sung parts of The Pirates of Penzance before. Heck, I've been to Penzance, England. But I'd never seen the show. The awesome Junius (who may or may not have an lj identity--I haven't internet-stalked him *g*) invited us to go, and so we went. The orchestra was awesome, the performers were quite excellent, and I learned something I'd long suspected. Gilbert and Sullivan are right up my alley as far as humor goes. The whole show is very, very silly--and that's what's excellent about it.

Now, I really want start singing again. I don't think that I really should ever have sung Mabel (I trained as a soprano in college, despite being rather more an alto naturally speaking, though my range was good enough to sing Handel arias and such). My voice remembers quite a bit more of the "O Wandering One" than I would have suspected, though, and it felt good to sing just a little bit when we got home. One of these days, I'll have to get myself back into good training. I fear that my instrumental training may be too far gone at this point to recover, but the singing, I should be able to get back.

(We discussed at one point this evening how stereotypes are associated with different instruments to those who have been instrumentalists, and I always wonder what people suspect I've played. Most people probably wouldn't peg me, I suspect--but I'd be entirely amused if they knew right off!)

On a completely different note, I just discovered that Lindsay Archer has a whole bunch of LJ icons available on her website, so you'll be seeing several new pieces of art by Lindsay in this blog. (I've also added a number of icons from Cowboys and Aliens and Steampunk Musha recently just to spice things up a bit.)
alanajoli: (Default)
Lessons about the Bridgeport/Port Jefferson Ferry:

1) The departure time listed is actually the time when the ferry departs. This means you have to get there early.
2) You do not have to back your car onto or off of the ferry, which was a great relief to me, having had to do that once in Greece.
3) There seems to be no discernible advantage to buying tickets in advance, but that could be just the day I was traveling, so no guarantees there.
4) Just because the ride is smooth one way does not mean that the boat will not rock on the way back.
5) Looking at the horizon is a good way to deal with a rocking boat. Coke is better.
6) If traveling from Connecticut to Long Island via ferry, go early and come back late. Otherwise you spend your whole day at the ferry ports, on the ferry, or trying to get back to the ferry on time.
7) Conveniently, if you don't schedule yourself well enough to catch your preferred ferry, there is a Barnes and Noble within fifteen minutes (where I stopped first when I realized I was cutting it way too close to catch the early ferry I'd intended).

Lessons about scheduling dinner with people who are coming in from out of town:

1) Work out the geography in advance, so as to maximize the amount of time spent with friends and minimizing the amount of time traveled.
2) Tell others what time you need to leave, and they will actually help you watch the clock. (Thanks Trenton!)
3) Order an appetizer in place of a meal and carry cash. (This worked excellently well, since I usually don't carry cash, but had thought of it in advance--although people were kind enough to offer to cover me, I succeeded at independence!)
4) When hanging out with folks from Margaret Weis Productions, feel free to talk about anything over dinner (including bizarre delicacies from other parts of the world that might normally spoil dinner), because everyone enjoys the conversation. The "create your own porn star name" game also goes over well.

In short, aside from spending quite a long part of my day chasing ferries and not getting to hang out nearly long enough with the folks from MWP, I had a fabulous time having dinner with them last night. Jamie Chambers (editor extraordinaire) took photos, so I'll hopefully be able to put those up in the near future. It was also great to see Lindsay Archer and her husband Trenton, who I've only ever had the chance to hang out with once before in person, but who are the type of people who, every time I hang out with them, I wish I could hang out with them more. :)
alanajoli: (Default)
Even though I've been busy, the reading doesn't stop. Along with what I've read and reviewed for [ profile] flamesrising, I've picked up a number of od books lately, and tonight finally got around to watching Waitress with Kerri Russell and Nathan Fillion. It may not appeal to everyone, but it's funny and dramatic and accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. I really enjoyed it, and have even more respect now for Andy Griffith than I had previously. (Really, I think he must be a pretty cool man. And even if he's not, I'm going to think that about him.)

As far as books go, I recommend picking up Alcatraz and the Evil Librarians, not because there's actually a conspiracy mind you (not that the librarians with MLAs at my library have informed me of, anyway, though now I'm a little more suspicious of that degree program than I was before). It's just a really fun book, and I think Brandon Sanderson ([ profile] mistborn) found a great voice for telling the story. Or Alcatraz found a really good agent for dictation in Sanderson. Whichever.

I also recommend picking up Skullduggery Pleasant, which is a fabulous book about alternate societies of wizards and magical creatures told in a very Irish voice, and features absolutely quotable banter. It's really, really entertaining, a little bit scary, and a whole lot of adventure. Oh, and the title character is a talking skeleton. To quote the cover, "And he's the good guy." Definitely excellent stuff.

I'm also back reading Eberron novels (most recently Rise of the Seventh Moon) and am continuously surprised and pleased at the depth of the themes the novels cover. They're not just sword-and-sorcery novels, they're novels with deep moral quandaries, questions of faith, and ethical dilemmas. I don't know if the line was planned that way or if they just had several authors all interested in those themes, but I love how often the deep topics crop up.

On my book stand currently are: Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress by Shelly Mazzanoble, whose articles for Dragon have been excellent; In the Serpent's Coils, which I should have read when it first came out and am just now getting the chance; Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi; Art and Experience in Classical Greece, which may or may not be useful for the upcoming Greece and Turkey trip; and also for the trip, Do Kamo, Saving the Appearances by Barfield, and a children's book of Greek gods that I used to read when I was little. I'll soon be adding the newest Percy Jackson book to that stack as well.

As a quick note, I will be attending I-Con in New York as a patron, in order to see the folks from Margaret Weis Productions (including Lindsay Archer!) while they're in town. If you are also going and have recommendations about things to do/see at the convention, please do send them my way. :)
alanajoli: (scc-writers-strike)
My feet are kicking and I'm trying to get my head back above water. I just turned in an assignment, so I thought I'd surface for a moment and check in.

  • Update on the Writers Strike? What Writers Strike? Strike is ovah, baby. The vote on the contract happens on the 25th.

  • Reeses is trying to kill me. As some of you may have noticed, I've got quite the thing for chocolate and peanut butter. So what does Reeses do? They take those yummy chocolate bunnies that people put in Easter baskets--the ones that are usually hollow--and they fill them with peanut butter! The temptation is too great. I am going to suffer a painful, agonizing death due to overdose of peanut butter and chocolate.

  • The wonderful Jamie Chambers has my script for the Serenity RPG adventure that I wrote, and the remarkable Lindsay Archer will be doing illustrations for the Serenity Adventures book in which my adventure will appear. Whether or not we shall be reunited on the page has yet to be seen...

  • And did I mention the oversized Reeses Eggs? Doomed I tell you!

  • I'm sending out C. S. Lewis devotionals to friends over Lent, which has been a great way to reengage in theological conversation via e-mail. If anyone knows of a Tolkien devotional book (I suspect one doesn't exist, but you never know), I'd love to have another Inklings kind of Lent next year.

  • In ice cream news: Save the honey bees or your favorite flavors could be forfeit! Possibly even peanut butter and chocolate! (Are you getting the theme here? 'Cause I might stop now.)

  • I'm putting the guest essays on hold until I can reliably update. I'm having trouble keeping the *comic* reliably updated (Jeremy is being good about nagging me when I'm behind, thankfully), and I get paid for that. I expect blogging to resume its regular schedule after DDXP, where I will be next week, at ur con, checkin' out ur 4e. Yup, that's me.

And now, after hours of writing essays about Brad Paisley, Ben Bernanke, and the Spice Girls, as well as obituary for Jerry Falwell, I am so getting off the computer.

P.S. "Water of Life" did not get accepted into the Fantasist Enterprises anthology, though I did get a very nice letter inviting me to their critique forums. I'm thinking about heading over. Any of the rest of you doing the same?
alanajoli: (Default)
I just found out that Lindsay Archer, who did all of the art for Into the Reach and Departure (as well as my lovely icon), has been featured at Margaret Weis Productions. Hurrah! You can see a lot of Lindsay's work over at

In other news, non-scripted TV got rated very highly last week, and the article I read seemed to say that was a bad thing for the Writer's Strike. Thing is... since all of the scripted shows were reruns (except Desperate Housewives, which was number five in the most watched category), is it any surprise that the new reality shows that were just premiering got high ratings?

alanajoli: (Default)
Earlier today I commented on [ profile] sartorias's recent post about keeping old books. I'm not particularly sentimental about my books (though the ones that are signed--whether by my children's librarian growing up from books I won during summer reading or by the authors--are certainly special). When a book gets old, I replace it. Nearly five years of working at bookstores trained me to think that old books, beat-up shouldn't be read. (In some cases, this is for their own protection; we recently replaced an old copy of Edith Hamilton's Mythology that was falling apart at the spine. It's still on the shelf, but we have a shiny new copy to refer to without having to worry about losing pages.)

On the other hand, I love physical books. I love how they look on the shelf. I loved seeing my first novel in print, feeling its weight, having a friend heft it and then ask if there were pictures. (Thanks to the lovely and talented Lindsay Archer, I could say yes. He didn't believe me, and I had to flip through to show him the insets.) And, as Giles once said on Buffy, books smell. I recently got a new dictionary because it was required for a copyediting assignment I'm working on. Possibly the most fun I've had in this assignment is opening up the dictionary and flipping through the pages, having that new-book-smell of paper and book glue waft up as I found the answers to my questions (and got distracted by words like "emissary," which I didn't realize could mean not only messenger, but secret agent).

I love content posted online, but find that I read comics better online than prose. I've only ever made it through one e-book without printing it. (This was a novel by the aforementioned [ profile] sartorias, who didn't say it was a novel when she posted it on Pixel-stained Technopeasant Wretch Day, so I was fooled into thinking it was a short story. By the time I realized, it was too late, and I'd been utterly sucked in. Given how much I enjoyed it, I'm not complaining.) At this point, however, I think I read maybe fifteen web comics, most of them cohorts on DrunkDuck whose authors or artists have found us over at Cowboys and Aliens. As much as I enjoy the serial nature of the stories... it'd be nice to sit down with them away from the screen. Which I suppose explains Rich Burlew's success with Order of the Stick in print: geeks like me like how books smell.
alanajoli: (Default)
To those of you who visited the White Silver booth at GenCon 2006, you may remember an exhuberant salesman who pitched our work, brought people over to talk to Lindsay and me, and an all around great guy who supported the White Silver team. This man was Richard Wilhite, and I was very much looking forward to seeing him again in 2007. He was a vibrant person who filled the booth with energy, and was very much someone I would have liked to know better, and to consider a friend.

The convention circuit for 2007 will be missing Richard's energy. He passed away on March 18th for a seizure, a surprise to his family and friends. Many of them are keeping his MySpace page open as a way to honor his memory--a way to keep him alive and part of the circle. I realized today that MySpace only lets friends post comments, and I don't know if anyone is still managing the account to approve me. So I thought I would post here and say much of what everyone else is saying:

Even though I only knew you a short time, Richard, you will be missed!
alanajoli: (Default)
The rush of the holidays is finally over, and though things are not quite back to normal (I am still in dire need of a two week vacation), I'm getting back on track on several of the writing assignments that got shoved off to the side while shopping for presents, parties, gatherings with family, and company came to the fore. I had a lovely visit with my friend Fallon just after New Year's, completely unscheduled, and she gave me a copy of the Ramayana that she'd purchased during her semester in India. It's certainly the classiest book I received this year (India obviously takes book publishing seriously, as a book may cost a full week's wages for some people in the rural areas, from what Fallon was telling me), and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Other notable books that came to me during the holidays:
Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson [ profile] mistborn
Fruits Basket 15 (because manga is one of my weaknesses)
Sorcerers and Secretaries by Amy Kim Ganter

I also have a shared Barnes and Noble gift card left to spend (which was, for a household that usually gets and gives a lot of books, more common this year than actual print), so I'll add to the list then.

What I'm looking forward to receiving is my promo copies of Departure, which should be coming any day now. In fact, if you're interested in ordering Departure from the publisher, it's possible you could get a copy before my promo copies arrive! It was listed as available starting January 2nd, only in paperback. The hardcovers haven't been printed yet.

Departure features another great cover by Lindsay Archer, but no interiors for this print run. It's a much longer book, which was part of the reason for this decision, as was Lindsay's schedule, which had several conflicts, and my publisher decided he'd rather not get a second artist to do interior. (I'm glad that's what he decided--it wouldn't be the same without Lindsay's work!) There is some talk of releasing a "special edition" with interior prints some time in the future, but whether or not that will happen, who knows?

In the mean time, start keeping an eye out (and asking local booksellers) for both Into the Reach and Departure, which should have much wider availability starting this month. Rumor has it that Barnes and Noble has already ordered 750 copies of Into the Reach, which they will make available to their customers mid-month.


The other big news from this end of the world is that I got my first fan letter. So, Matt, if you're out there reading this--thanks! You'll be hearing from me via a return letter in the near future. :)
alanajoli: (Default)
Well, the White Silver Web site is not entirely back up from the hacker attack, but they've added a bunch of new content to the part of the site that is functional again. One of these is stats for all of the Into the Reach characters. I wrote them, so I fully authorize them as the official stats, and the profiles give hints to some of the events to come in Departure. They're also accompanied by new art by Lindsay Archer, and that alone makes them worth checking out. So go ahead. Click the link...
alanajoli: (Default)
While no actual reviews have hit the internet, my name crops up a good bit more often than it used to in a google search. (This must be consternating to the project manager of "OWL," which seems to be an education association, who shares my name.)

I'm mentioned here on Flames Rising. I'm also on Lindsay Archer's blog on Deviant Art.

As a note, I will be unable to attend Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend. It was an exciting proposition, but perhaps too last minute to plan well. As it is, my writing schedule could use that weekend to catch up, so, while I will miss dancing with Ms. Archer to sell books, perhaps it is just as well.

If you are going to be at Dragon*Con, do stop by and tell Lindsay hello! She'll still be on hand to sign copies of Into the Reach, as well as a number of fabulous prints that she'll have on sale. You should also pick up a copy of Trevis Powell's new novel, No Hero, which promises to be the first of a new trilogy set in Ramlar. Trevis will be back and forth between the White Silver booth and Larry Elmore's booth, so you should be able to track him down for signed copies, as well.
alanajoli: (Default)
Ah ha! Live journal is more clever than I realized, and it seems to be enabling me to post pictures from GenCon in a public forum. (I suspected they would have to be uploaded online somewhere else, first. I am relieved, as that was a quest I wasn't looking forward to.) I do recall having discovered this once before, but I'm just as happy to have discovered it again.

pictures! )

Should you happen to find other GenCon pictures featuring the White Silver crew on the Web, please let me know! (The publisher, of course, has some up at the White Silver Publishing Web site as well.)

Currently Reading: In the Claws of the Tiger by James Wyatt. I'm looking forward to writing a bit more about the theosophical leanings when I've finished the book! (I did sneak in a quick romance novel last night: Perils of the Heart by Jennifer Ashley. She writes very fun pirate romances.)
alanajoli: (Default)
Sorry for the delay in getting all of this posted. I've been struggling against the flu, which I believe I caught somewhere among all the hand shaking. This is comforting, as it means that some of the illness that I thought I was giving myself for being nervous was actually a physical ailment. I'm going to take comfort in that!

Full GenCon Report )
alanajoli: (Default)
This is the first chance I've had where I actually had time to sit down and write about what's been going on with GenCon. What makes this unfortunate is that it means I'll abridge and inevitably miss some really cool stuff that happened, but this is the way of things. Since I was only semi-coherent on Wednesday anyway, there are probably things I'd miss regardless.

Wednesday: Left at 3:45 a.m. for the airport. Slept a little on the plane to Detroit, but couldn't sleep from Detroit to Indianapolis. I planned out my Eberron: Xen'drik Expeditions character, instead (which I still haven't had a chance to play).

The convention registration opened at 5 p.m., so most of the early day was spent by exhibitors putting together their booths. The folks from White Silver picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at the hotel (where I couldn't check in yet), and then took me over to the convention center. Nominally, I was to help set up the booth, but as the guys from White Silver told me, they're from the South, which means I wasn't allowed to lift very much. (Someone is always offering to take heavy things from me, which shames my internal bookseller, but makes my arms quite happy.) I unraveled some wires that had tangled up in transit, which was quite productive, then let them handle most of the rest while I went to training for True Dungeon.

If you've never been through the True Dungeon before, it is a must see event. As it runs over $20 for an 1 1/2 event, it's a little outside the price range of some gamers. This didn't stop the event from filling up entirely in the first two hours that the event tickets went on sale at the convention. I imagine that traversing the dungeon (which is similar to a haunted house, except with puzzles, riddles, and mock combat) is well worth the price. The other great way to experience True Dungeon is as a volunteer, and they need plenty of them to keep the place running. I picked up my make up and wig and chatted with folks to find out how it worked (and got a new copy of my script, which I'd left somewhere in Connecticut), then headed back down to the exhibit hall.

Because of the loading and unloading through the docks outside the hall, the convention staff said the air wouldn't be turned on until Thursday morning, making it quite a warm place to set up. Despite the heat, banners rose into the air on fork lifts, buildings were built (the Wizards of the Coast booth has an entire small library with furniture to create a cozy environment for author signings), and books made their way onto display. I wandered over to the Kenzer and Company booth and helped them with the set-up, doing my best to use my Barnes and Noble bookseller training to create an attractive display. (Pyramid displays really *do* look better than other arrangements!)

By the time I returned to the White Silver booth, huge banners were rising from the booth, displaying prominently the cover image from Into the Reach and the cover image for the Chronicles of Ramlar Core Rulebook. There wasn't a whole lot for me to help with other than shifting boxes and starting to arrange displays, which didn't entirely work as it's hard to maneuver around a booth with seven people trying to help. Mostly, I stood with editor Tony Lee and we pretended to supervise.

I headed back up for the rest of my True Dungeon training and realized I hadn't had nearly enough to eat, so I headed down to the Champions Bar at the Mariott (where the True Dungeon was being held) and ran into Jolly Blackburn, creator and writer for Knights of the Dinner Table. We chatted while I waited for my food, then I headed back up to True Dungeon to watch the walk through for the VIP attendees, in order to get an idea of how the show worked.

Sadly, this was not to be, as my body decided to shut down around 7 p.m. I said farewell to the True Dungeon staff, headed over to the convention center to tell the White Silver folks I was headed home (and said a very sleepy hello to Lindsay Archer, the artist who did the cover and interiors for Into the Reach. Then I headed back to the hotel, where I slept for about an hour at a shot; tired as I was, I had a severe case of nerves. I don't know if it's easier to just know your book's release date and mark it silently or if it's easier to be right there in the thick of the action and knowing exactly how well your book is selling in those first few days. I imagine the first might be just as nerve wracking as the second, and the second is pretty darn nerve wracking!

More when I have another chance to write. I'm back over to the convention center to start another day of carnival barking and book selling.


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Alana Joli Abbott

March 2019

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