PHX CC 14: A Recap

Oh, my darling Interwebz... My brain is still mush and my body continues to protest all that I did to it and with it during the course of Phoenix Comic Con. But I have to tell you all about this amazing event before it all disappears in a puff of neural fog. Let's do this!


photo by Django Wexler

Thursday started off with a line from hell for guests to get their badges. One person reported 2 hours! And that's a guest, not an attendee. Whilst in line I met Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Colleen Lindsay and Anne Sowards.

During lunch, I had an awkward encounter with the creator of one of my all-time favorite pieces of comic literature. EVAR. You see, Kiara needed to run to the bathroom, so I took her. While I'm waiting in the hall for her, I saw my friend Zen. She was working with a guest, so I just put my head on her shoulder rather than interrupt her.

"I'll deal with you later," she said sternly. Then her eyes just kinda lit up with realization. "Wait! You're a guest, you can help this man."

I looked to see she was helping an older man with a growing bald spot and a distinct lack of amusement on his face. I stretched out my hand, "Hi, I'm Jamie."

"Chris," he said, shaking my hand.

Gears started to click. Was that... was this Chris Claremont? Creator of the Dark Phoenix Saga?!?! I asked how I could help and sent him on his way. Then quickly Googled him... Yup. Chris Claremont. Just shook his hand in the hotel lobby. FUCK YES!

And as if that wasn't cool enough, I ran into Jim Butcher while helping Olivia check into the hotel. Said hi, and wished him a good Con.

photo by Priscilla Spencer

Finally met Mike R. Underwood and Lee Harris (of Angry Robot Books), too. Long time coming on that one.

That night I met a slew of other people and joined the Taco Council for dinner at local eatery The Taco Guild. (Holy fuck, it was amazeballs.) Had a great time at dinner with Beth Cato, Leanna Renee Heiber, Rachel Thompson, Olivia Kelly, Wes Chu, Lela Gwenn, Django Wexler, Myke Cole, Priscilla Spencer, Kevin Hearne, Sam Sykes, Delilah S. Dawson, Chuck, Stephen...and I'm really sorry if I'm forgetting people. It's a bit of a blur because I had an AMAZING tequila at the Taco Guild.

Hung out for a bit Thursday night after dinner, but went home with the family, gearing up for a busy Friday.

I did the shilling stuff at my table for a while Friday. Now, directly in front of me was John Barrowman's booth, so I got to stare at him all day. But then he left to do other things, and my life got a little depressing and lonely-making. So I went to see Jim Butcher, Wes Chu, Seanan McGuire, Gini Koch and John Scalzi give a panel on writing comedy. It was fabulous and as funny as you would expect with those names on board. This also achieved several victory conditions of my Con as I got to see Seanan, Jim and John on ONE PANEL! SCORE!

Then I went to watch Kevin Hearne and the rest of the Taco Council hold court for a fun panel that turned into the Council of Nicea for the Holy Taco Church. After that, it was go time for me and the panel of Debut Authors. Really well run by our moderator, Ivy. And a spectacular turnout. The room was mostly full of writers at various points of their careers, and they asked amazing questions of the panel. Myself, Austin Aslan, Amy K. Nichols, Beth Cato and Shonna Slayton were blessed with a fabulous hour of sharing our stories and meeting could-be fans. (If you were there, say hi!)

Friday night I went on a nice date with my husband, then returned to the hotel bar to hang out with some of the other authors. Patrick Rothfuss even put in an appearance and recounted the "Parp!" story from Hyperbole and a Half. This was also my first real chance to hang out with GOVNEH! I was ecstatic to be in her awesome presence, and uber grateful that she shared her room with my husband and I.

Saturday:  More booth time. I also managed to get Chris Claremont to sign my copy of the Dark Phoenix Saga, and James O'Barr to sign my copy of The Crow. Both of them were exceedingly gracious men and I am pleased to say I met them. While at my booth Saturday, I had the pleasure of talking to so many fans of Wild Card and also those who were at the Debut Author panel. Also, Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer himself!) passed my table looking a little lost, so I said hi. He came over and we chatted for a few minutes, even taking a card for Wild Card to take home to his wife. (Mrs. Bad Astronomer, I hope you read and enjoy it.)

Saturday also saw me get into a bit of a thing with John Scalzi. To preface, you have to understand that this happened at the Author Batsu game where Mr. Scalzi was under some duress. You see, Sam Sykes had levied a challenge to his panel: Don't laugh. The audience could laugh but Chuck Wendig, John Scalzi, Aprilynne Pike, Patrick Rothfuss, Myke Cole, Delilah S. Dawson and Leanna Renee Heiber were prohibited from laughing. If one of them let loose with the slightest of chuckles, they were obliged to take a shot of salsa. Hot. Habanero Salsa.

Well, Mr. Scalzi laughed a lot. He was already having some issues. Well, Leanna's face broke its stone composure, but she didn't laugh. Scalzi took issue and asked Sam, "Why does she get special treatment?"

Sam: Do you have something to say about sexism, Mr. Scalzi? John just wrinkled his face at this. He may have commented but the audience was rather loud. Delilah said, "That's just what a man would say." Then the audience got quiet. I shouted, "Not all men!"

...and Scalzi laughed, thus earning yet another spoonful of salsa.

"Who was that?!" he asked. I waved. "I don't like you." I cheekily blew a kiss and the panel continued.

I hung out more with Beth Cato, Rachel and Govneh after that. We all went to the Drinks With Authors event. This was... odd. It was fun, don't get me wrong. But I question the sanity of anyone who puts 200 people in a room with individuals known for their introversion. At least there was booze. Said hi to Jim Butcher again. Talked with Django Wexler. Met up with some of the people who had been at the Debut Panel. My brother-in-law won 3 of Chuck's books in the raffle. And I had one of the best Long-Island-Iced Teas I've ever had. While there, Scalzi walked by me and said, "YOU! I am still pissed at you!"

I giggled.

But it was a sweaty, crowded mess and I couldn't keep up the happy, so we hoofed it to they Hyatt to meet up with our real-life friends for some gaming. I faded quickly after that and shambled to the Sheraton for sleeps. On our way out of the Hyatt, Scalzi saw me and again expressed his dislike for me. I apologized again and we proceeded to hug it out.

I am now planning on showing him my feelings by sending him a membership to a Salsa of the Month Club.


Chuck and "Booth Bane". Photo courtesy of Govneh.

Similar to Saturday in most respects. A lot of action at my table. Didn't hit any panels. Husband got Jim Butcher to sign our copy of Storm Front to me. :) Husband also took notes at the Writing Rogues panel. (My husband is amazing and I might not have made it through this con without him.) Talked with Storm (of Paul and Storm). Shared a moment with Mark Sheppard as he walked by my booth. Govneh hung out as my "Booth Bane" for a bit.

Sunday is always a weird day because you're exhausted, you're having fun, but you know it's almost over. Last day of camp feeling. You'll be glad to get home, but sorry to leave the awesomeness that is hanging out and geeking.

me and chuck

Hugs were given. Pictures were taken. Bags were packed and it was time to call it done for another year.

All told, the rumor mill says that Phoenix Comic Con saw upwards of 75,000 attendees. I feel like I talked to each of them. My voice is shredded. My body is weary. (Not helped by the fact that I had gluten and dairy while at the convention. Out of necessity. As Rachel Thompson said, "you wouldn't like me when I'm hangry.")

There were very few down moments of the Con. One of them was the fact that the Con got my name wrong on my banner. They, for some reason, used my married name. I took it upon myself and a pair of sharpies to fix it thusly:

booth sign

I kinda got snubbed by someone I was looking forward to meeting. All because of the form my books take. *shrugs* Whatever, right? You can't please everyone.

The only other thing that sucked... the guy I shared a booth with wasn't at his table for more than five minutes the whole Con. People kept coming up to me and treating me like his receptionist. Seriously. One guy got mad at me for not having the dude's number. I didn't know this author, I just got assigned a table with him.

But if those 3 things are the only things I have to complain about, it was a successful Phoenix Comic Con. And I'm already looking forward to next year.

So yeah. Start planning now. I expect to see you there.

Billy Joel Didn't, But I *Totally* Started The Fire

  So, if you follow my blog or social media, you'll know 2 things:

1) The past few weeks have been psychotically stressful for this Pajamazon. 2) I love fire.

Between this, that and the other, I really needed to blow off some steam. Everyone has their own way to let loose. For some it's scrapbooking, rock climbing or yoga. Sane things. Relatively safe things. Me? I put fire in my face (or expel flames from it). This time, though, I upped the ante a little and did so on live television while a former star of Little House on the Prairie looked on. All before breakfast. *flexes*

Madame C -- Crystal Cruz, my Dragon Trainer.

One of my fire teachers was advertising her Dragon Training class on a local morning news show and asked if anyone would be interested in helping her demonstrate the skills being taught. I said sure, got a ride lined up and boom: in like Flynn. Not only did I get to play with fire, I got to engage in one of my other favorite passtimes... It's a little game I like to call, "Scaring the Straights". You know those normal people? I like to freak them out when I get a chance. It's been one of my favorite games since at least junior high when I embraced my weirdness. The tv personalities (I don't know that I can call them "news anchors" with a straight face) gawked at me and my fire partner while Madame C explained what we were doing and participated in the interview. I was focused on my work, but I loved hearing "Oh, my god! What is she doing?!" almost as much as I loved the "woosh!" sound of breathing fireballs.

Something hilarious that happened because of this... Saturday night I got home to find a message on Facebook from a woman I went to college with. We weren't close friends or anything, but we were in marching band together for a few years. Anyway, apparently she lives in the Phoenix metro area now as well because she saw the tv spot!

 "I thought that was you," her message said. "That looked so crazy. That's how I knew it had to be you!"

*blink* Did I really have that much of a reputation in college for doing weird shit? Because I didn't do weird shit then other than say things to freak out the uber straight-laced girls in my classes. Anyway, I got a great laugh out of that one. That's quote of the day, right there.

Yup. That's me. Eating fire.

Saturday night I went to the Dragon Training class and learned more tricks. Favorite new trick involves transferring the flame from one torch to another...while the lit one is in my mouth. I wish I had video of me doing it because it looked beautiful from my point of view. Got more practice with eating. Improved at vapor tricks and "dragon spit" (not the same as breathing). Breathed some more. (Funny, for someone who said a few years ago "I will never breathe fire", I certainly have taken to it.) Once again, it was thrilling for me to get to play. It was doubly fun to watch friends discover fire art and develop their talents.

It's interesting to me. There are a lot of things you can do with fire. Hula hoop, poi spinning, staff spinning, diablo, breathing, eating, palm flames, sword dancing, candling (a vapor trick with the mouth), fleshing (doing fuel/flame transfers on flesh)...lots of room to play in fire arts. I love watching people find niches. I enjoy seeing how one person can love this trick, but hate another.

For example:  I've tried fans, but it's just not my thing. Likewise with palm flames. I have friends who perform those, but I lack the belly dancing skill and sinuous grace to make palm flames interesting. I have a friend who lights a scimitar on fire and puts it on her head. I have some friends who spin staves. Again, I've tried these things but for one reason or other, it's just not mine. Me? I love my poi spinning. It's rhythm and motion and I excel at it. And I dig on torch work. I like some fleshing tricks for flare and I love candling. For some reason, I really like the tricks that involve me lighting my tongue on fire. But I can't hold a torch in my teeth. The heat is too intense and though I've tried it a few times, it's just not something in my bag of tricks. My friend Michelle, though, *loves* this trick and performs it well.

Michelle. That's TWO torches in her teeth. She's a badass.

I loved looking at the pictures and video of Saturday's escapades because there was something I saw about myself that pleased me. I was so peaceful and comfortable playing with the fire. I look so calm, and--oddly enough--I am. Don't get me wrong, I'm scared of doing some of these tricks. There is some pain involved (but no more than drinking a cup of too hot chai, or touching a car that has been sitting out in Arizona summer), and the danger factor is high. I could seriously injure myself, and every time I'm about to do a trick I think about that.

There is an odd sort of focus, though, that comes over me. A tunnel vision of sorts. My hearing is keen. Listening for a safety to tell me if something is wrong, listening for movement of others. And, admittedly, taking in the gasps or "Holy shit!" from the people watching. Kinesthetic awareness goes up so that I can know my surroundings--who is around me? where are they standing? where are trees? are there divots on the ground?--and my vision narrows to the immediate task in front of me. How long has the torch been burning? Where is the wind coming from? Breath control. How much fuel do I take into my mouth? Don't swallow. Lips pursed--wait, how do I do this again? Oh yeah. Hold the fuel away. Bring up the torch. Blow. Open your eyes and watch the fireball filling your vision.

breathing fire dragon

It all happens in a second, blink and you'll miss it. And while all of these things are going on in my mind, I'm at peace. There is a strange relaxation that comes with heightened focus. Perhaps that's the essence of meditation?

Anyway. This is how I recharge and let off stress. It's something that I love to do and while I don't feel the need to get back into full on performing again, I'm happy to have the time in my friend's backyard with a can of fuel and a few torches.

And now it's back to the real world with me where I have to think about cars and numbers and medical stuff all the shit that stressed me out in the first place.

DON'T FORGET: Tomorrow I'll be over at Bitten By Books for an all day Q&A. We'll be talking about WILD CARD, Vegas, Satyrs...whatever you want to chat about. And I'll be giving away an Amazon gift card and some more poker chips! RSVP NOW for an additional 25 chances at the swag.

At Last

anigif_enhanced-buzz-5001-1383314716-12TODAY IS THE DAY!!! WILD CARD is unleashed upon the world, and already Amazon numbers are shooting upward. I have no idea what all that chicanery means, but I'm told it's awesome. (Much like the book itself.)  As part of the celebration, I am over at Literal Hotties talking about Marius. AND If you click here you'll find all of the pertinent links of where you can buy your own copy of WILD CARD. As if that's not enough you can enter to win a $25 Think Geek gift card AND 3 custom made poker chips as featured in the book. Dude, it's madness around here. I've only been awake like 2 hours and already I'm overwhelmed by the caliber of awesomeness being shown this day. Seriously, it's a flood of love out there and I can't help but be knocked over by it. That being said, I can't possibly retweet or respond to everything. Please know that I've seen your posts, kind words and tweets and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Don't worry, though. My cat is making sure I know my place in the world. Little dork jerkface escaped into the neighbor's yard (again), so I was out there padding around their house in a bathrobe like a very lazy skulking idiot. Damn cat.

I'm just coming off of a terrific weekend. My dad and stepmom are visiting from Indiana. Now, my parents divorced when I was 8 or 9. And I've been living in Arizona (1800 miles away from my dad) since 2004. I cannot begin to tell you how much it meant to me to be able to sit at a table yesterday with my mother and father (and husband and daughter as well as others) to celebrate this very special milestone. Seriously, that's worth more than Amazon rankings. Sharing this delicious moment with both of them--together--was priceless. Also, my daughter told me how cool I am today and immediately told everyone at school about the book. *beams*

Holy crap, you guys, I've got a published book in the world. *screams* This is something I've wanted since I was a kid. I have a picture (it's really blurry, or else I'd show you) of me at the age of 3--THREE!!--with a typewriter on my lap. My grandmother (who isn't here, dammit) used to record me telling stories. It's just... dude. Today is here. "Someday" is now. And it feels fantastic. Overwhelming. Mindnumbingly awesome.

And it was a shitton of work to get here. And it was a group effort. WE did it. I cannot possibly begin to express my gratitude right now. To all of you. The words "thank you" fall short.

We did it, guys. WILD CARD is finally here.

colbert high five

Your Face!

954744_452891454801650_803979572_n So, sometimes my friends and I will start talking and that conversation turns into a competition. Sometimes the results are glorious. BEHOLD!

REM: I love your face.

Me: Your face is like cascading liquid awesome.

REM: Your face is like Tom Hiddleston with a Popsicle on a hot day.

Me: Your face is like john barrowman and puppies.

REM: Your face is like the good feeling that comes from delicious crispy bacon.

Me: Your face is red velvet cake with david tennant in leather pants.

REM: Your face is absinthe done the correct way, with a sprinkle of glitter.

Me: Your face is a dub step margarita.

REM: Your face is the late afternoon sun, observed from the safety of the shade with mimosa in hand.

Me: Your face is a sonnet being read by benedict cumberbatch while the first snow falls outside.

REM: Your face is Anton Yelchin, saving the day at the best possible moment with his Russian pimp shoes and red shirt.

Me: Your face is Loki's hair gently stroking baby sea turtles in the moonlight.

REM: Your face is the gentle fluttering of millions of tumblr fangirls' hearts when a new thing involving loki or supernatural comes out.

Me: Your face is the whisper of a hummingbird hopped up on 3 shots of espresso and a geek beer.

REM: Your face is a #BurritoWatch2013 update from Wil Wheaton.

Me: Your face is like a tree climbed by john barrowman


Me: I win!

REM: Climbed me like a TREE. To be fair that was soooort of cheating. #Iaintevenmad


Yeah... we're odd, but we're fun.

PHX CC '13 - Stalk Me!

910x485xfullevent_val.jpg.pagespeed.ic.VUbhWwboJoI'm so fucking excited for Phoenix Comic Con. I didn't think I was going to be able to go. Then 2 weeks ago, I got word that my husband and I have the ability to ROCK IT! So, while I won't be at Phoenix Comic Con in a professional capacity (this year), I will totally be all over the place. If you're going to be at the Con, come find me, say hi and have some fun. Here's a rundown of where I'm going to be. NOTE: I WILL NOT BE PARTICIPATING IN ANY OF THE PANELS AS A PANELIST/PROFESSIONAL. I will only be at the Con as a fan due to the fact that I didn't think I'd get to go, so I didn't pursue the Author track. (Yes, I'm kicking myself for that. Hard.)


6:00pm - Books & Authors Kickoff


12:00pm - Cherie Priest Spotlight 3:00pm - Author Chair Dancing 6:00pm - friend's bachelorette party 9:00pm - You will either find me watching my friends perform at the Talk Nerdy To Me Burlesque Show OR the Captain's Cantina: Zocalo at Babylon 5 event. Considering the bachelorette and money is on the burlesque show.

It should be noted that during the day on Friday I will also be taking my daughter to some youth panels. We have yet to plot out an exact schedule for her. It should also be noted that her teacher is awesome. K told her teacher that Comic Con was this week and her teacher flat out told her, "You don't have to come to school if you're doing that." Seriously! So she'll be enjoying a day with the folks, cosplaying and getting her little geek on as well.


10:30am - Panel - "I've Sold My First Novel. Now What?" 12:00pm - Panel - "Magic Methods" 1:30pm - Panel - "Different Approaches to Non-Traditional Fantasy" 5:00pm - Panel - THE BABYLON 5 REUNION *happy dance* 9:00pm - "It's a Trap!" Trivia Game -- Tentative. I may have other engagements depending on what some of my friends are doing that night.


10:30am - John Barrowman 12:00pm - Panel - "Keeping Urban Fantasy Alive" 1:30pm - Wheaton and Scalzi, Together Again

I don't intend to be doing any of the autograph or photo op lines, so any time that I'm on-site and not in one of the above events I will either be found in the gaming area or in the exhibitor's hall checking out costumes and saying hi to friends. If you want to meet up and say hey, chill or catch a panel, SAY HI. Easiest way? Email me!

So yeah. I'll be busy and spending lots of time in the car to and from the Con, but I'm so damn happy to be going.

Peace out, guys. I've got stuff to plan and prep.