See Ya At Mars Con!

Hola! This weekend I’m at Mars Con in beautiful Williamburg, VA.  I’m so excited by this year’s theme. Are you going? We should meet up for talk/food/drink or go to a panel together. (Find me on fb and friend me to make that work.)

Otherwise, come see the fascinating panels I’ll be on. Please come up and say ‘hi’ at the end of the panel.  I’ve got swag for you! “Kettle’s Magic Balm”.  🙂










One Wild Crazy Pod Cast

Hey all two people that read my blog.  I hug you.  This week, I offer up to you a wild and wooly pod cast interview Kodiak Julian did with me at Wis Con last spring. (I know, I know, enough about Wis Con already.) We’re talking about the possibility that Sam Harris, the famous philosopher-Buddhist, might be trying to kill me. We also discuss alien encounters, my experiment in mooching off strangers on a train for two days, and a most unusual dinner party.  But wait–there’s more! I perseverate on tickling rats & the amazing concept of “Rat Park”.

Here it is –

So enjoy it already. Feel free to smear it around the internet a little.


It’s Hard to Convey The Rapture That is Wis Con

Wis Con was pretty glorious this year.  I mean, I had a severe head cold and bronchitis, while back at home my beloved was suffering through a kidney stone–which cranked my guilt factor tremendously high–but I went anyway and had an incredible and amazing time.

Head cold 0 — WisCon 3. I love these guys. Elijah and J Dubb.

The panels were full of chewy speculative fiction goodness. The rainbow of genders inspires me. There’s so much to love: I see people at Wis Con that I adore.  We hug whenever we meet.   The work that panelists do in envisioning what a POC positive, disability-inclusive society could look like makes me verklempt. People are friendly, and yet very cool–a challenging mix, in my experience.

I really like Madison as well–esp. vegan-friendly places like Monty’s Diner.

Vegan chocolate-peanut butter-banana shake! Just sayin’.

And there were moments that I thought were really funny.

FIRST GLORIOUS MOMENT AT WIS-CON: This year I was in a reading called EVEN LONELIER MONSTERS.  Karen Joy Fowler came.  But I didn’t know that.  And I’m glad I didn’t know until after the reading, cause my involuntary reaction was like: 

RISK TAKING AT WIS-CON: I was on a panel at Wis Con about sex in fairytales.  I happened to have two princess crowns on me (a friend was going to throw them out) when I decided to see if the panelists for the fairy-tale panel would want to wear them at the panel.

But would they? This is Wis-Con–You could get punched in the nose offering someone a princess crown.

So we all met, and I said, “Um, I happen to have….these…crowns…if you–” They totally snatched them up. Gimme those crowns. Like that.  And they looked FABULOUS in them of course.

Ariela Housman & Emily Cataneo rocking the princess crowns at our “Wait This is about Sex?” panel at Wis Con.


Friday night, the night before our fairy tale panel, Nisi Shawl had a party where people could make decorative crowns for their head. So I made myself one and wore it the next morning at our panel. The panel was at 8:30 am on Saturday morning (I know) and by 10:00pm on Saturday night I was talking this guy at a party who had been to the panel that morning. He’s going on and on about how interesting and great it was, (!) but then started telling me all the questions I asked and topics blow-by-blow.  I finally had to say, You know I moderated that panel, right? Turns out he hadn’t recognized me — without the crown.

Not man-spaining.  Just a totally iconic look.  #hippyearthgoddess ; >


The Concourse Hotel is great–love the lobby, love the con rooms and my hotel room.  One of the hotel maids named Anne and I had a deep discussion on the first day about tipping and after that I exchanged fun little notes with the maid Pam who cleaned my room every day. I think she must have known I had a bad cold from all the sudafed packets lying about and the tissues in the waste basket.  She left me two extra boxes of tissues. (!)

Meanwhile, at the end of Wis-Con there’s a Sunday night dessert awards ceremony.  As usual the Honorary Guests  give speeches while we all eat fancy desserts.  (I cried through a few speeches last year.) But the line for the dessert ceremony is looooong.  So while my Wis-Con besties and I were hanging out in a clutch I asked this guy in line behind me if he could take a picture of us all with my phone. He wasn’t enthusiastic to say the least, but on the other hand he didn’t say no.  He quickly took two pictures of us all together and handed me back my phone.  Which was great. Except…

Something’s missing from this group shot of us all…hmmmm.

I asked if he could take the picture again. He frowned like he didn’t get why. I explained I wanted to be in the picture. With my friends. Sorry if I hadn’t made that part clear before. My fault. It’s not like he rolled his eyes at me–but yeah, he was totally rolling his eyes.  Anyway, he was very kind and took another picture.  ; >

Please Sir, may I be in the picture? Jenni Moody, Jeremy Sim, Alisa Alering, Kodiak Julian, and me.

And, that about wraps it up.  I came away inspired by people on the panels, got to deepen some friendships, and maybe for the first time ever in my life went to four parties in a row–a miracle in itself–and actually enjoyed each and every one of them.

On the way home, I had an airport layover in Atlanta.  I was walking by a cafe stand and this woman who worked there said, “You don’t look too good, hon. Come here.” I told her I had a cold and this beautiful woman just gave me a giant disposable cup full of herbal tea–for free.  She said it was called ‘medicine ball’ and all the employees came to her for it when they were sick and had to work. I have no idea what was in it, but I would just like to thank you, dear airport lady, because that tea made me sweat a little just like you said it would, and made me feel SO much better on the flight home.  I feel very touched by these people in the service industry who take care of us all when we travel. Very grateful, too.  I tip like mad everywhere I go, because I know how poorly they’re paid for backbreaking work, and I know how much your feet ache after standing for hours and hours.

About an hour after I was back at home and on my couch the medicine ball wore off and I was sick as a dog for the next few days. I’m still thinking I shouldn’t have gone with my sweetie in such pain — but, seriously, because it was Wis Con, it was worth it.


Howdy West Virginia Book Festival!

Did you find this site by looking at one of these cards?


If you did, thank you so much for stopping by.  There’s a subscribe button down on your left, so you can subscribe to my newsletter.  (If you’re on a phone, you’ll want to press the cog wheel/star thingy to see the list of old blog posts, etc. Just scroll all the way down to the bottom.)

When you subscribe, you’ll get a password to unlock my short story, “WONDER WOMAN WALKS INTO A BAR”.  And that’s not all—-

—Not all you say? Stop the madness!

Once a month I’m giving away something to a random subscriber of KETTLE’S WEIRD NEWS.  Could be a new speculative fiction book, could be an old s/f classic, or a cool t-shirt, or some yummy food treat.  Given how wee tiny my new subscription list is, let’s just say your odds of being that random subscriber are pretty high if you sign up now.

Meanwhile, I wish I could be there at the festival because you all get to see Neil Gaiman in the flesh don’t you? Sigh, sigh, sigh.neil-gaiman

Finally I’m sending out big hearty thank you to Sue London, because she was the one who offered to hand out these cards at the festival at her booth.  You rock, Sue!

Wis Con — My people!

I just registered for Wis Con — a feminist science fiction and fantasy conference in, you guessed it, Wisconsin.  Woot!

When they described this conference as one for people interested in speculative fiction that has a strong interest in feminism, race, class, and gender I about swooned.

That’s me! That’s me!

I cannot wait.  It’s May 22nd — and my hope is to come back with a cool reading list and a fistful of new social media friends.  I am stoked!


The Graveyard Queen: Amanda Stevens & Considerations of ‘Darkness’

Dear Reader:

(I mean that literally.  Wordpress stats tell me I have one reader: you.  My singular one.)

If you happen to like your paranormal mysteries in a super romance-y form, you might want to check out this writer that I’ve just read about.  Her name is Amanda Stevens, and she is writing The Graveyard Queen Series.

I think her latest book is called The Restorer.

Here’s a blurb.  Now brace yourself, it’s quite long:

Never acknowledge the dead

Never stray far from hallowed ground

Never associate with those who are haunted

Never, ever tempt fate.

My father’s rules.  I’ve never broken them…until now.

My name is Amelia Gray.  I’m a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts.  In order to protect myself from the parasitic nature of the dead, I’ve always held fast to the rules passed down from my father.  But now a haunted police detective has entered my world and everything is changing, including the rules that have always kept me safe.

It started with the discovery of a young woman’s brutalized body in an old Charleston graveyard I’ve been hired to restore.  The clues to the killer–and to his other victims–like in the headstone symbolism that only I can interpret.  Devlin needs my help, but his ghosts shadow his every move, feeding off his warmth, sustaining their presence with his energy.  To warn him would be to invite them into my life.  I’ve vowed to keep my distance, but the pull of his magnetism grows ever stronger even as the symbols lead me closer to the killer and to the gossamer veil that separates this world from the next.

Okay — that’s all I know.  Haven’t read the book, you’ll just have to check it out yourself and let me know what you think.  I do, however, quite admire the angel on the cover.  She reminds me of an evocative gravestone at Hollywood Cemetery, which is a famous old place here in Richmond.


I admit I was instantly drawn to this author because she’s a self-proclaimed taphophile.  I didn’t even know what that was, but I quite liked the sound of it.

Turns out a taphophile, or if you prefer, someone afflicted with taphophilia, is drawn to morbid curiosities, all things funeral and associated with death.


Speaking of using words with great precision:

Let’s agree to bring back the word macabre into common parlance, shall we?  First of all, it’s a very exact word, less jokey than ghoulish, and more precise than perverse.

Second of all, everyone describes books, plots, villains, and post-apocalyptic situations as dark these days.  Why–why–why? I’m not thinking this blog post will change the world or anything, but I’d just like to put it out there:

Doesn’t describing a plot, etc. in a way that connotes a negative edge or problematic depth as ‘dark‘ seem well, a little racist? I don’t put this out there lightly.  Living in the South–and the heart of the old confederacy at that, I kind of wince every time I see the word used that way.  What are people thinking? I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Meanwhile, I have a few other issues with using the word the word dark to describe stuff.

1) it’s vague.

2) dark stuff is not negative to me, it’s mostly awesome.  Sleep, for instance–one of my favorite all time occupations–is often done in the dark.  Sex–another of my altogether favorite occupations– frequently occurs in light challenged contexts.  Right there, you’ve got two worthy reasons to embrace total darkness.

Meanwhile, dark chocolate is sublime, and I am quite fond of the color black–both in terms of clothing choices and in terms of skin.  I embrace dark wooden floors, teak stained antique furniture…I mean, the list goes on and on.  It’s sunny here in the South.  I burn easily.  All hail darkness.

To me dark is cozy.  To me darkness is divine.

I suggest we go back to the good old days and use the word macabre when flinging down our adjectival descriptors.  When you say it (mah-cawb) —-it just bursts forth from your mouth like flying crows.

Does language get any better than that?