2019 in review (IV): Publications

This year has been quite active in terms of publications. As December comes to a close, I thought I'd wrap up my round-up with a summary of what came out in 2019.

Flight or Fright continues to be my biggest project to date. This year saw the release of the anthology in trade paperback in English from both Scribner and Hodder & Stoughton in the UK. We are currently up to fourteen translated editions under contract: Germany (Heyne), France (Livre de Poche), Brazil (Editora Schwarcz), Poland (Proszynski), Japan (Take Shobo), Korea (Sam and Parkers), Hungary (Europa), Russia (AST), Bulgaria (Pleyada), Italy (Mondadori Libri S.p.A.--Sperling & Kupfer), Spain (Penguin Random House Spain), Greece (Klidarithmos), China (Shanghai 99), Ukraine (Family Leisure Club). Some of them have appeared already; the others are in progress.

Check out my page for the anthology to see covers and the latest additions to the "Inflight Entertainment" section, showcasing all the cool photos people have sent me showing them reading the anthology on airplanes or at

For short fiction (besides "Zombies on a Plane," which is in Flight or Fright), I had the following stories come out in 2019:


I already have five new stories cued up for publication in 2020, too.

For essays, I have the following:


I published two reviews in Dead Reckonings this year:

  • That Is Not How the Story Goes (Theodora Goss, Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems) - Issue 25
  • “When Blue Meets Yellow in the West”: Stranger Things 3 (with Hank Wagner) - Issue 26

and five reviews at Cemetery Dance online:


in addition to four comprehensive updates at News from the Dead Zone.

I also posted fourteen book reviews at my book blog, Onyx Reviews.

I was a guest of honor at Northern Fancon in British Columbia, attended Necon and KillerCon, as well as my very first Bouchercon. Not sure where I'll be showing up next year other than Necon.

A number of things are in the works for 2020, including my collaboration with Brian Keene, Dissonant Harmonies, and more, I'm sure!

Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve, and all the best for the Roaring 20s to come!



2019 in review (III): Books

I read--or listened to--just over fifty books this year. You can see the full list here. A few were audiobooks that I listened to in the car. Several were books I read to my wife in the evening, part of our regular routine. A few were for research for a project that never came to fruition, some were for essays I had to write, and a couple were for research for a novel I'm currently writing.

I also got to read Gwendy's Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar a couple of times, and I did some research for him while he was working on this follow-up to Gwendy's Button Box.

I reviewed fourteen books this year at Onyx Reviews:



I also reviewed The Institute by Stephen King at News from the Dead Zone.

Other works I enjoyed but haven't yet had a chance to review include Full Throttle by Joe Hill and three forthcoming books: Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough, All Adults Here by Emma Straub, and The Chill by Scott Carson. The latter is one you'll be hearing a lot more about, I think. It's the first supernatural novel by Michael Koryta (writing under a pen name) in a good many years, and it's a real winner!

2019 in review (II): Movies

I know a lot of people are doing "best of the decade" lists, but I can barely manage "best of the year," so that's what you're gonna get!


I saw something on the order of 80 movies so far this year, with more to come no doubt over the next couple of weeks. Some were in theaters, some OnDemand or streaming and a few were on those tiny little screens on the back of airplane seats. In the latter category, my favorite was Bad Night at the El Royale, which was very entertaining on a flight from Japan to the US.


In the Stephen King Universe, there were three notable cinematic releases in 2019. First, there was Pet Sematary, which I was genuinely looking forward to after I read about the plot change they were making, but which ultimately disappointed me. Then there was It: Chapter Two, which wrapped up the lengthy and impressive adaptation of one of King's longest and most popular novels. I liked it a lot. And, finally, there was Doctor Sleep, which failed at the box office, but to my mind was one of the best films inspired by a King novel in quite a while. I reviewed all three of these for News from the Dead Zone--that's where the links above will take you. There was another movie release this year, In the Tall Grass on Netflix, but I haven't managed to see that one yet.


To my way of thinking, a movie makes my favorite list based on how much I wanted to tell other people about it after I saw it. In no particular order, the movies that did this for me from 2019 were: Us, Rocketman, The Highwaymen, Yesterday, Downton Abbey, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Out and Dolemite Is My Name.


I saw and enjoyed a few Marvel films this year, including Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. They feel like their in a category by themselves. I finally finished The Irishman after two sittings nearly two weeks apart, and then watched the companion piece on Netflix that had Pacino, De Niro, Pesci and Scorcese discussing the project. I liked the film well enough, but won't rave about it. It was also good to go back to Deadwood this year, and El Camino, while not absolutely necessary, was a nice throwback to the Breaking Bad years.


In the oddball category, I got a big kick out of Velvet Buzzsaw, although it wasn't to everyone's taste. Bird Box was entertaining.


We watched a number of music documentaries this year, not all of them new: Echo in the Canyon, The Quiet (St)One, Rolling Thunder Revue, Now More Than Ever, Can't Stand Losing You. Haven't seen the David Crosby movie yet, but it's on my radar. Also in the documentary category, we enjoyed Knock Down the House and Cold Case Hammarskjöld.

2019 in review (I): TV

I don’t do Top X lists. As I’ve said before and elsewhere, my mind simply doesn’t function that way. I might be able to present a list of 10 unordered items, but that’s the best I could manage.

When it comes to TV/Streaming, this year, though, I’d be hard pressed to narrow my list of “favorites” down to a simple 10. So I’m just going to mention shows this year that I really enjoyed. There were a lot of them!

In the King universe, there was Season 3 of Mr. Mercedes, which adapted Finders Keepers. A strong season with a terrific cast, enhanced by Bruce Dern and Kate Mulgrew in particular. I’ve been hearing great things about Season 2 of Castle Rock, but I haven’t had the time to see it yet. Maybe before the end of the year. I have seen the first several episodes of HBO’s adaptation of The Outsider, and they’ve done a bang-up job of it. I’ll have a full preview of the series closer to air date, but it is really well done.

There were solid seasons from a number of reliable ongoing series. Luther, True Detective, Game of Thrones (yeah, I know–not everyone loved how it ended, but it was exciting getting there), Bosch, Stranger Things, Orange Is the New Black, Goliath (wasn’t Season 3 a trip?), The Crown. It was also the final run for The Santa Clarita Diet, which got canceled after a big plot event that I wasn’t that fond of, although the season was pretty hilarious.

I added two new series to the rotation this year. First, Stumptown on ABC, starring Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother as a newly minted PI who suffers PTSD, has a brother with Down Syndrome, and a long history of poor life choices. She’s not alone in the latter–all of the characters make bad choices from time to time, making the show gritty and credible. I like it a lot.

The other new series is Morning Show on Apple TV+, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reece Witherspoon and Steve Carell. Who knew there was that much going on behind the scenes of a network morning talk/news show? The characters are fascinating, and the season is firmly rooted in the #MeToo era. It’ll be interesting to see how they wrap it up.

For limited series, we loved Good Omens and Chernobyl. I thought The Spy was very well done, too. We also enjoyed the miniseries adaptation of Catch-22.

For quirky shows, there’s Ricky Gervais’ touching After Life and the second season of Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, which we enjoy for its insight into aspects of Japanese culture you don’t often see. Another in the strange category: The End of the F***ing World. I’m not quite sure what the attraction is, but I find I can’t look away from it!

On the scarier side of things, I loved the French series Marianne on Netflix. It’s about a writer who has been channeling a witch throughout her career, and now that she’s gone back to her hometown, things really take off in many bad ways. It’s one of the most tense and scary series I’ve seen in recent years, and it’s very well done. Black Summer is a quick watch, a low-budget but effective take on the zombie concept. The Terror: Infamy was a slow-burn, but we were fascinated by the Japanese mythology this season.

Not quite as scary, but equally well done, is the Christina Applegate series Dead to Me. Bad and twisted people doing bad and twisted things, often to hilarious effect. Russian Doll was terrific, with its twisty, turny storyline and a stellar performance by Natasha Lyonne, who also co-created the series. Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts, on Amazon, is another example of how you can do drama in 30-minute installments. I liked the first season of The Kominsky Method, but haven’t gotten around to the new season yet.

On the crime side of things, I was blown away by the German series Babylon Berlin, which has 16 episodes in two “seasons,” but it’s really all one story. It’s set in pre-WWII Germany and–save for a couple of dubious plot choices–tells an amazing story of decadence and corruption in a troubled nation. Season 3 can’t get here fast enough. The Germans also won me over with The Dark, which just finished shooting its third and final season. You need a score card to watch this one, and even then it’s really confusing, but it’s worth the effort.

The second season of Mindhunter was really good. I was intrigued by the Criminal series on Netflix, which consists of four sets of three episodes, each one set in a different country and language. They’re all set in the interrogation room and observation room, they all use the same set (with different decorations, including changes to the food in the vending machines). Season 2 of Tin Star went into Banshee territory. Unbelievable was an interesting look into what happens when someone decides to change their story after reporting a crime.

For science fiction and fantasy, there were strong seasons from Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville. We also liked Another Life, and stumbled upon The Society by accident and enjoyed that ride, too.

Two dozen

It's been a while since I've added a new entry to this site. Busy times. Let me catch up on the major events.


First, there was a signing at Murder by the Book for the anthology The Eyes of Texas, edited by Michael Bracken. It contains my story "The Patience of Kane." Several contributors were able to make it to Houston for the event. We had Texas BBQ beforehand and were bemused to see a car pull up with a skeleton in the passenger seat. (Picture 1 in the slide show). At first we speculated that it was someone's ruse to be able to use the HOV lane. Michael Bracken won the moment by cracking about coming to the BBQ joint for the "ribs."


Then I went to my first Bouchercon, which was in Dallas. The hotel was just a conspiracy theory away from Dealey Plaza, often described at the convention as the most famous crime scene in America. Bouchercon is huge, something on the order of 1500 attendees. It's a nice combination of professional writers and avid readers/fans. With up to 10 tracks running simultaneously, it was impossible to take in everything on offer, but I gave it my best shot.


The first evening, I attended a literacy campaign fundraiser where David Morrell interviewed James Patterson (Picture 2). One of the great things about the convention was that I got to meet in real life so many people who I've only communicated with by email or social media before. I won't start naming names, because I'm sure to forget many. However, one unexpected gang of people who tracked me down were former denizens of the USENET newsgroup rec.arts.mystery -- the early internet's precursor to Reddit. The funny thing about this was that someone in New Zealand was texting me on Facebook to help me find this group of people who I used to communicate with 25-30 years ago. That was pretty cool.


I was sitting in the lobby one morning, perusing my program, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be going next, when a woman of a certain age noticed the Mulholland Books satchel I was carrying. She asked me if Mulholland had a table or a stand somewhere. I explained that I'd gotten it at an event the previous evening. Then she introduced herself to me as Rex Stout's daughter! (Picture 3) I have to say that was one of the highlights of Bouchercon for me. I started reading the Nero Wolfe novels in the 1970s, and I've been through them all more than once. I had the chance to express to her my fondness for those books, and she seemed to appreciate the sentiment. She added that, in addition to being a terrific writer, he was also a wonderful father. I also went to the Wolfe Pack session, populated by a group of people who are even more avid Nero Wolfe fans than I. That was fun, too.


I also got the chance to tell Lawrence Block how much I had enjoyed everything he'd written (Picture 4). He's an interesting guy. On his panel he looked like he might have been in a bad mood, but then he'd lean forward to the microphone and say something astute, witty and delightful all at once.


I was also on a panel in which we discussed writing short stories, which was a lot of fun and well received.


Then, yesterday was our 24th wedding anniversary. We had a nice breakfast in a place we'd never been to before, then went on a long bike ride into parts of our community we'd never visited and, finally, had a marvelous seafood dinner at a restaurant that was on the lakefront, also new to us. (Pictures 5 & 6). The ambiance was terrific, a singer/pianist provided a soundtrack, the sun went down over the lake while we ate, and I couldn't ask for better company!

That Essay Has No Title

I've been a fan of Elton John and his music since the mid-70s. I've seen him in concert numerous times (the first and most memorable was at Wembley Stadium in June 1984) and his music has been the soundtrack to much of my life. So, when my buddy Stephen Spignesi asked if I would be interested in contributing an essay to his book Elton John: Fifty Years On The Complete Guide to the Musical Genius of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, I said yes without hesitation.


The book, co-written with Michael Lewis, is now out and is available anywhere books and eBooks are sold, including at Amazon. My entry is called "This Essay Has No Title (Just Words and a Soundtrack)" after the similarly titled song on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.


On Monday, October 21 at 6:30pm, I will join editor Michael Bracken and fellow contributors Chuck Brownman, James A. Hearn, Scott Montgomery, Graham Powell, William Dylan Powell, and Mark Troy at Murder by the Book in Houston to sign and discuss the collection The Eyes of Texas: Private Eyes from the Panhandle to the Piney Woods. My PI story is called "The Patience of Kane."


Last time, I wrote about my "accidental novel," and I have made a lot of headway on the book since then. After gutting it to remove numerous chapters from ancillary characters' points of view and salvaging the important material in them by representing them from the points of view of one of the three surviving POV characters, I rebuilt the book a chapter at a time and completely rewrote the final third. I now have a 70,000 word second draft that I will revise over the next couple of weeks before testing it out on a couple of beta readers and my agent. I've been having a lot of fun with this book. One thing I discovered, though, upon rewriting is how much has changed in Galveston since 2006-7, when I wrote the first draft. How many businesses are no longer there, thanks to a couple of hurricanes, for example.


We watched a few interesting movies last weekend before having a turkey dinner to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. First, we watched El Camino, the new Breaking Bad film. It moves Jesse Pinkman's story further down the road, but it doesn't reveal anything new about him. A number of flashback scenes allow other familiar (some deceased) characters to have a second bow. A couple of scenes go on a little too long. On the whole, it's an interesting film, but I'm not sure it was a necessary film.


Then we watched the 2019 Shaft movie on a lark, expecting a popcorn movie and getting just that. It's a throwback with serious dollops of misogyny and homophobia blended into its kick-ass action scenes. Fun, but if you scrutinize it too closely you realize just how ill conceived it was.


Finally, we stumbled upon a documentary called Cold Case Hammarskjöld, in which a couple of Swedes try to get to the bottom of the mysterious death of the United Nations Secretary General in 1961. His plane went down in the Congo and there have long been rumors he may have been assassinated. This daring duo spent years following leads, interviewing people, visiting the various scenes, getting mired in (possibly) conspiracy theories involving a secret mercenary organization in South Africa that may have been funded by MI6 or the CIA to destabilize African nations. It is presented in part by having the director/writer narrate the script to two different stenographers (even he admits he's not sure why he did that). It all seems very amateur-hour/seat of the pants until at the very end they stumble upon two vast troves of information--one a person and the other a set of old records--that essentially break the story wide open. It's a quirky film that requires some patience (it feels very long), but fascinating.

The Accidental Novel

We made it through Tropical Storm Imelda unscathed, although the same cannot be said for many in the vicinity. We received somewhere between five and seven inches of rain, most of it on Friday, which isn’t all that unusual for us, but some communities less than an hour away received over 42″ of rain in a couple of days.

The Canadian in me remembers that an inch of rain corresponds to roughly a foot of snow. Imagine 42 feet of snow coming down in two days! 42″ of snow would be bad enough. There was some street flooding in our community, but I didn’t hear of any permanent damage nearby. Places in Houston and to our east and northeast saw damage at least as extensive as we had after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. There’s still high water in some places nearly a week later. Two of the most destructive storms that have happened since I moved here 30 years ago haven’t been hurricanes–they were slow-moving tropical systems that popped up just offshore and brought a ton of rain with them.

We saw the Downton Abbey movie on Sunday afternoon. We were going to go on Saturday but the only seats available on that day (the theaters near us all have reserved seating) were in the front rows and we had no desire to stare up Carson’s nostrils for two hours. If you liked the TV series, you’ll like this film. Everyone’s back, and there is mild drama and humor without much risk involved to anyone. I enjoyed the downstairs drama more than the goings on upstairs, but it was all good fun.

I seem to have tricked myself into writing a novel. Well, rewriting, in a sense. I was contacted recently to see if I had a novel excerpt for a collection, and my interlocutor suggested a book I wrote many years ago. I hadn’t given that manuscript much thought, and I was frankly surprised to be reminded that I had showed it to him!

So, I went back to it, peeling out a group of chapters to give him for this project. However, as I went along I realized I quite liked what I was reading. So I looked up the notes my agent had provided on it, and discovered that he liked a lot of it, too. Not all, however, which is probably why my work on it ground to a halt. We were involved with other projects by then and I guess I decided to let it lie fallow instead of digging in and doing the work needed to whip it into shape.

Well, I’m doing it now. It’s a complicated job because I am removing chapters written from the viewpoints of all but two characters. That means that all of the important information in those other chapters has to be conveyed by different means. I also plan to completely redo the last quarter of the book, as the original version was a little too Scooby-Doo for my liking.

Still, I’ve been trying to get to work on a novel for most of 2019 and it looks like by the end of the year–perhaps even by the end of November–I’ll have something that my agent and I can work on again. Fingers crossed.

Honours

Yes, I spelled it the Canadian way. I do that sometimes.

Honours come in all sizes, big and small. It is an honour to be nominated for an award, or to get honourable mention. It's also an honour to appear on Ellen Datlow's recommended reading list, which she publishes in association with her annual Best Horror of the Year anthologies. I've had the honour of having stories mentioned on a number of occasions. This year, she included "Aeliana" from Shining in the Dark in her comprehensive recommendation list.

This weekend I put the finishing touches on a 7000-word essay that will be published as a magazine cover story sometime this fall. I can't say where yet. I'll read it over one. more. time. and probably make a bunch more changes to it when doing so, but it's essentially finished, a week or more ahead of deadline.

This week, I'll be celebrating my 30th anniversary with my day job. It's hard to imagine that I've spent over half my life working for the same company, although it's had a couple of name changes during that time. My father had over 45 years at his job, so I still have a way to go to catch up to that family record.

Usually it's careless workers who cause problems with electricity or water mains on a Friday afternoon near our office, but last week it was just nature. A 30" water pipe twelve feet below the surface of the boulevard by our building broke open of its own volition, eroding the ground under the road surface. The entire road, which is a major entrance/exit corridor for the community, was closed in both directions over the weekend. One direction was reopened after they confirmed that the road could still hold traffic, but the other direction is going to require a lot of work to get it back into service.

We watched a few movies on Amazon Prime this weekend. First, we saw Late Night, written by and starring Mindy Kaling, and featuring Emma Thompson, Amy Ryan, Hugh Dancy and John Lithgow, with some celeb talk show host cameos. Thompson has been the host of a late night talk show for nearly 30 years and her ratings have been on a steady slide for the past decade. Kaling's Molly ends up being the first female in the writer's room at a time when Thompson is on the verge of being replaced. It has a lot to say about representation. Pretty good.

Then we watched the Australian drama Ladies in Black about several women who work in a posh Sydney department store in 1959. The main character is a teenager on the verge of finishing high school who works at the store during the Christmas rush. It took me a while to realize that the actress who plays her coworker Fay was Rachel Taylor, who plays Trish Walker on Jessica Jones, and Julia Ormond is unrecognizable as the "continental" Magda. It's a thoroughly charming film. Feel good all the way through.

Last night we saw The Hiding Place starring Kim Hunter (in her final role) and Timothy Bottoms. It's based on a stage play and it feels like one, too. Hunter plays a mother who is (probably) exhibiting signs of dementia and Bottoms is her son. There have been other family members, but they're gone and the story gets to the bottom of what really happened to one of them. Hunter (who played Zira in the Planet of the Apes films) is divine, but I had a hard time with the staginess of the direction. They did break free from the single-room setting on occasion, but they never found a way to break free from writing that works better in a play than a film.

Jolly good Fellowes

Yesterday was interesting. I was interviewed by Anthony Brenzican a couple of weeks ago for an article he was writing about King for the New York Times. He used to write for Entertainment Weekly and is now working for Vanity Fair, but he had a few months between those gigs this summer where he freelanced, and this was one of his assignments. The article appeared in the New York Times yesterday, and I got mentioned and quoted a couple of times, as did Rich Chizmar, which was cool.


My review of The Institute also went live yesterday morning. Then, last night I drove into Houston for a press screening of It Chapter Two. It was a the same multiplex as where I saw Chapter One a couple of years ago. The original screening then was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey, and the rescheduled event was an odd late-morning thing with only a handful of reviewers in attendance.


Last night's screening was in an IMAX theater, and the majority of the attendees were people who got there via Radio Now 92.1, which I confess I've never heard of before. So the theater was packed, which was nice. A row of seats in a prime location was reserved for press, which was also nice! There was a trivia contest at the beginning, and they gave out movie posters after the event. My review will be up at News from the Dead Zone tomorrow morning, but suffice to say I really enjoyed it, and I didn't mind its 2hrs 48 min runtime in the least. In fact, I may go see it again this weekend when I can watch it without being in reviewer mode.




Over the holiday weekend, we watched a number of series and movies in between listening to music, reading and enjoying home-cooked meals. We started with an Amazon Prime series called Doctor Thorne, written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey). It is based on a novel by Anthony Trollope, about whom we knew little, but we enjoyed the four-part 18th century melodrama, starring Tom Holland, enough to look for more. 


I found The Barchester Chronicles on YouTube, all 7 parts. It's based on the first two of Trollope's novels in that series, and stars Donald Pleasance in a rather sedate role as a minister who is also the warden of a care home for a dozen elderly men. He gets blindsided by a group of reformers (including his potential future son-in-law) who attack him as part of a barrage against the Church of England. Two episodes are based on The Warden and the other five are based on book two, Barchester Towers, about a new Bishop coming to town, along with his sniveling aide, played by Alan Rickman. The Bishop is played by Clive Swift, familiar to us primarily as Hyacinth Bucket's beleaguered husband from Keeping Up Appearances.


Going back to the Julian Fellowes thread, we watched Gosford Park and then another film he wrote called The Chaperone, starring Elizabeth McGovern, a woman of a certain age who accompanies a 16-year-old dance student to New York for several weeks. While she's there, she tries to track down her birth mother. This is in the 1920s--she was a product of the Orphan Train Movement that saw her adopted by a family in Kansas.


We also started on another series called The Aristocrats. Lo and behold, who should show up playing the family patriarch but...Julian Fellowes. And the King of England? Clive Swift!

I'll be the judge of that

One of the (many) great things about KillerCon in Round Rock, TX (near Austin) is that I can drive to it in under three hours. Traveling long distances isn't nearly as much fun as it used to be...and was it ever? We didn't have to worry about delayed flights, missed connections, lost luggage or any of the other myriad potential problems associated with flying to a conference.

My wife has family in Round Rock, so she came with me to KillerCon. When I was off attending readings, panels and other Con events, she visited. So that was nice--we had breakfasts together each morning, then went our separate ways for the rest of the day.

I only decided to attend a week ago, just as I did in 2018, so I wasn't on any of the scheduled programming events. That doesn't mean I didn't get to participate, though! While I had entertained thoughts of participating in the short fiction contest (judges supply five words and contestants have 20 minutes to write a 200-word short story using them all), my role changed when I was asked to be a judge. About a dozen people wrote some very good stories using our five words, then read them to the audience.

My judging duties were expanded when Brian Keene suggested that John Urbancik and I join three others to judge the gross-out contest, figuring, I guess, that there would be some entertainment value in having two of the unlikeliest people judging some of the grossest stories you've ever heard. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I don't think I could ever write something as gross as what we heard, but they are entertaining even as you groan and moan.

I brought books to sell and sign at the mass autograph session and unloaded most of what I brought, to my surprise. Having one of those Square attachments for my iPhone so I could take credit cards helped a lot.

People attending from out of town were taken aback by the heat. It was as high as 102° during the daytime, with "feels like" temps near 110°, which is hot even by Houston standards. Even so, every now and then I felt the need to escape the air conditioning and bask in the warmth, like a lizard on a rock.

There were other things going on in the convention center. On Friday, there was a very misleading sign advertising McAllister's Deli on the second floor, which had a few of us venturing upstairs to discover...no deli--the company was having a corporate meeting. And here we thought our food options had expanded! We didn't have a mariachi band traipsing through this year, though, like we did in 2018. Also no memorial service attendees, who last year had to walk past the five-foot black cardboard coffin that contained donuts.

KillerCon is small and intimate. There's never more than one thing going on at a time. Panels alternate with readings. The biggest drag about the con this year was that the hotel bar was closed the entire weekend. Apparently they didn't have a bartender, which was poor planning on their part. With a hotel full of writers, they could have earned megabucks from the bar proceeds. It also meant that there wasn't a centralized place to go to hang out with people between program events. Hopefully they'll have that rectified by next year.

Hearty thanks to Wrath James White and his team of volunteers for putting together such an awesome con deep in the heat heart of Texas.

After I got home, I finished watching the final season of Orange is the New Black (they stuck the landing, although I was hoping for a different outcome with Zelda), and signed ⅔ of the limitation pages for LetterPress Publications' edition of Revival. The box weighs in excess of 60 lbs, and there are nominally 1500 regular pages plus 52 lettered pages. Of course there are extras for damage and spoilage, so I signed at least 1000 pages yesterday and probably another 250 this morning. I timed myself for three minutes, during which I signed 38 times, so my optimal rate is about 13 pages per minute. I hope to be done this evening so I can ship the box to the next (and final) contributor in the morning.