Lonely Monsters: 4 Reasons to Go to WisCon

Bitch Planet--read it? Me neither, but I'm gonna.

Bitch Planet–Have you read it? Me neither, but I’m gonna.

I went to WisCon last weekend ages ago and it was awesome!  The 40th feminist s/f conference in–you guessed it–Madison, Wisconsin, is chock full of amazing panels, really interesting writers, and lots o’ cool hair.

What is WisCon you ask? This woman tells it so much better than me. In fact, it takes her four blog posts to tell it all in glorious detail.  Start here and work your way backwards.

That said, I have six reasons why I’m glad I went this year:

#1. I Love the CLEVER READING TITLES people use.  My favorite this year:


“Technically,” — oh, the tile sends me!

2.  I got to read with some some truly talented writers.  Our reading was called “LONELY MONSTERS”  Love the title–didn’t come up with it myself.  I was over the moon to be invited–a few of the writers I met and tumbled into adoring last year, while some I met and bonded with this year.  They were so inspiring!

Lonely Monsters? Well, more like *lovely* monsters.

Lonely Monsters? Well, more like *lovely* monsters.

Our  stories were about zombie boyfriends, an apartment that grew hair, a pregnant doppelganger on a greyhound bus–just to name a few.

Our adorable poster:13325529_849652998473050_3441533762667043638_n


I go to WisCon not because it’s cheap, but because of the buzz.  So many book, TV show, and comics were getting attention at WisCon that I’d never heard of, but that sounded so interesting. I came back  with a vast long reading list that I shall now dive into and greedily chew upon until next spring. puP6Mc

The most surprising place to pick up great recs was THE TIPTREE PRIZE panel.  This is where Tiptree judges talk with each other for an hour and a half about what stories almost won the prize.  The panel really should have been called: Amazing Sh** We Can’t Forget.

While the judges for this prize loved the novella they picked this year (“The New Mother” By Eugene Fischer) and loved Eugene too–who sat there during the panel beaming with joy–there were several books, comics, and TV shows that gripped them by the scruff of the neck and wouldn’t let go.  They talked up these works and I definitely gleaned some excellent finds from that panel. Take a look:



3.  I LEARNED SH**: The joy and pain of WisCon is that many incredible panels are all at the same time. On top of that, really cool people you just met tempt you to sit and chat with them while panels are going on.  Choices, choices, choices.  I went to a panel on Sex Robots & Zombies that set me on fire.  (I’ve had a sex-robot-zombie story idea for forever.)

I went to an interesting panel on Genre Blending (something I lurv to do).  THE BIG TAKE AWAY: Do not start off your story/novel/whatever with the more conventional genre–unless you want to piss your readers off big time.

A really clear but bad example of this would be:

Write a horror story that has a romance development, not a romance that takes a surprise horror story plot twist half way.  

See what I mean? One style of genre-blending works, while the other is a bit daffy.

4. I DANCED ABOUT WITH ORGASMIC JOY: Well, almost.  Although there is a major dance party called FLOOP at WisCon, I did not attend it, because I am one of those half-introverted people who can talk for hours until I suddenly turn off like a light bulb.  Then I must retreat and hide.

Although I did not Floop with the majority of Con folk, I did flutter about feeling drugged with a spirit of joyful rapture in the midst of all these progressive, feminist spirits.  My people! If you like intellectual, thoughtful, arty types–many with absolutely incredible hair–you’ll love WisCon.13256238_849653045139712_7046932603597916010_n

I semi-wept my way through the big awards & dessert event Sunday night, I was just so moved by it all. JenniNMe

5. MADISON IS COOL: I was staying with Megan Milks and each morning I would run down near the lake.  I saw a river otter splashing in the lake one night at twilight. I mean, come on–that’s pretty cool, right? Meanwhile, here’s a young woman with mermaid hair at Monty’s, a local diner (so vegan friendly it hurts), where I relished some rhubarb pie.

I mean, isn't this a story? Someone walks into a diner and there's a girl with mermaid hair.

Someone should write a story about the diner where the girl with mermaid hair hangs out.

6. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE! All that for a $50.00 registration fee including free food in the Con Room and a Dessert Awards Ceremony (yes, with lots of vegan desserts.)  I feel like I am failing to intelligently convey the awesomeness that is WisCon.  This is because I wrote a lot today and wrote well, and that has the effect of leaving me feeling like someone sucked my brain out of my nose with a straw by this time of night.  But if you go back and read that blog post I linked to above, you’ll find a much more articulate and thorough reflection of what I experienced.

That said, I think I just need to blog more…Will do a better job at posting weekly from now on. Look for me on Wednesday.  My writing goal for the week is to finish up a title story from my collection The Hag Expert.  The ending of this story has plagued me, and I’m a-l-m-o-s-t there.

See you next week.


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!

Wicked Lovely Things Going on at Wis Con

Oh Crow--We're going to Wis Con!

Who wouldn’t want a pet crow? The perfect fairy tale companion.

Hello kittens! I’m going to be at Wis Con this week.  Talking about fairy tales, Disney, and re-telling fairy tales in alternative universes.  (Think MALEFICENT, ENCHANTED, and fan fiction of all stripes.) What do you think of Maleficent? Do you enjoy a great alternative version of some favorite fairy tale? Where do you go to read the best of the best fan fic?

We’ll be exploring these questions and more at the panel on Sunday morning, but I’d love to hear comments from you down below.

The BIG news for the conference I’m uploading three of my completely twisted fairy-tales onto Wattpad. I’ll also release them for free on Amazon on June 10th.  (Waiting for a fab cover, hence the delay.)

What fairy tale mayhem am I putting out into the world? Well, there’s a point in the movie LABYRINTH where the Goblin King, (aka David Bowie) sez “Come be my Goblin Queen,” or something like that to our young heroine. In the movie she says no–what if she said yes?

Thinking about that scenario made me write THE GOBLIN QUEEN — my own little macabre tale of a Poor Young Thing who goes to the Goblin’s Castle and finds herself sucked into a tragic fate.

I have a story with a happy ending (rolling my eyes) to contrast with all the twisted perversity above. GOBLIN CHILD is about a lady in waiting who has a goblin child…and then another.  Can her good parenting skills help her progeny become less…goblin-y?

Finally, I also have a whack re-telling of a famous Russian folk tale.  THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN FEET is about a latch key kid in suburban 1970’s America who one day realizes that the angry witch raising her is actually Baba Yaga.

Oh you’re not going to the conference? Well, not to fret, you can read the first story THE HOUSE WITH CHICKEN FEET on Wattpad right HERE.



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!


Screaming Females & Cool Richmond Authentica

This is the band Screaming Females.

They are cool.

Here is their cool-i-o demon T-shirt.

This shirt is going in my novel.  Sorry, that’s all there is to it, Screaming Females.

I love bands.  I love music.

How can you infuse a novel with this? Not sure.  Not sure that even if you can, I could.  But I’m not worrying about that.  Right now, I’m confident that people wear clothes in novels, and you mention the clothes sometimes, and even if I can’t do anything else, my heroine is wearing the demon –

So there.

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?