Sunday, August 26, 2007

Meeting Dr. Molly Barrow

Yesterday, I got to meet Dr. Molly Barrow, PhD at a book signing she did at Borders in Ft. Myers. She is a psychologist who wrote a book on relationships called Matchlines. Unlike sites such as E-Harmony or, Dr. Molly’s site and her book focus on mending, healing, and improving relationships that we already have—especially those relationships with our “someone special.”

Dr. Molly is a friend of mine, and we are published by the same publisher (ArcheBooks). We chatted about websites and blogs, and she gave me some incredible tips and ideas for future business ventures that I have in mind.

Check out Dr. Molly’s website at

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(Me & Dr. Molly. Not the most flattering pic of me--especially with the bug eyes, but that's what happens when you're up day and night working on a sequel.)

Author M. B. Weston To Attend and Exhibit at Dragon*Con in Atlanta


(August 10, 2007 - Naples, FL) Naples-based author M. B.Weston will be attending and exhibiting at Dragon*Con, America's largest, multi-media, popular arts convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film. More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the event held over the Labor Day weekend, August 31-September 3, 2007, in Atlanta.

Dragon*Con was launched in 1987 as an outgrowth/evolvement of a local Science Fiction and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players (DAGR), founded by Ed Kramer. The name "Dragon" for both the club and the convention was derived from Ed's Dragon Computer (a European version of Radio Shack's venerable Color Computer), which hosted a local Bulletin Board System ("The Dragon") that initially served as a central hub for both organizations. For more details, go online to

M. B. Weston will have a table displaying her current book, A Prophecy Forgotten, in the Exhibit Hall. Attendees will browse amongst the latest new products and releases from a wide variety of gaming, comic and book publishing companies. “This is an exciting time for me to meet with fans who have read my book, as well as talk to people who might not have heard about me yet!” says Weston.

A Prophecy Forgotten is the first in the Elysian Chronicles trilogy. It’s a Tolkein-meets-Clancy fantasy novel about guardian angel warfare and treason that embodies the themes of faith, hope and living according to your purpose through the fantasy fiction story of Davian, a battle-hardened major in the special operations division of the cherubian military. While Davian is on assignment deep in enemy territory, he is called and sent to Earth to guard seven-year-old Tommy – a boy who has been prophesied to save Earth. Tommy is just trying to survive the second grade, persecution from bullies and the strain of his parent’s divorce. He has no idea he could be the chosen one, or of the spiritual forces at work surrounding him.

Her next book, Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles, will be available in December 2007. A Prophecy Forgotten (ISBN-10: I-59507-I69-5; ISBN-13: 978-159507-169-9) is available now.

Weston is also available for book signings or speaking engagements. M. B. Weston can be reached at 239-821-3769, by email at, or online by visiting

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Author M.B.Weston Co-Hosting “Open Mic Night”--September 4th at Barnes & Noble


On Tuesday, September 4th from 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM Naples-based author M. B. Weston will share “Open Mic Night” hosting duties with Get Real’s actress Jillian Windham. This FREE event happens at Barnes & Nobles in the Waterside Shops located at 5377 Tamiami Trail North in Naples.

“Open Mic Night” is an opportunity for the public to come out and share their talents whether it be reading poetry or playing music. Here in Naples, “Open Mic Night” has evolved into a venue for those in middle and high school to showcase their bands’ talent. Each act gets 5-10 minutes on stage (depending on the amount of acts) to perform and get more comfortable in front of a crowd while building their following. In between scheduled performances, Weston and Windham will keep the evening going through a variety of different acts.

M. B. Weston recently released her first book entitled A Prophecy Forgotten, published in April 2007 through ArcheBooks Publishing. A Prophecy Forgotten is the first in the Elysian Chronicles trilogy. Weston is not only an award-winning writer, but also a talented and motivating speaker. She has been scheduled as a guest speaker at many schools and events throughout Florida.

Weston’s next book, Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles, will be available in December 2007. A Prophecy Forgotten (ISBN-10: I-59507-I69-5; ISBN-13: 978-159507-169-9) is available now. Weston is also available for book signings or speaking engagements. M. B. Weston can be reached at 239-821-3769, by email at, or online by visiting

For more information on participating in Open Mic Night contact Barnes & Nobles at (239) 598-5200.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Waxing Philosophical Part 2: On Being Part of a Story

Read Part I First…

If you ever hold a conversation with me—especially if it’s about writing, you’ll probably hear me say, “It’s all about the story.” I’ve always been the one to find an old arrow head and wonder about its story, or to find a shell on the beach and wonder how it got there. For me, the story is everything. Even with artwork, I’ve found that the more successful artists have a story behind each scene they create. It’s not just a picture of a dress; the picture of the dress tells a story—if you catch my meaning. Why else are people fascinated by the Mona Lisa? The woman has a story to tell, and all of us want to figure it out. Actually, that’s one of the reasons I think that movies with a lot of CG components sometimes lose their luster (excuse the cliché). All too often, the CG characters lack soul—they lack a story.

I also have a suspicion that each of us wants to be part of a story. When we read books, we put ourselves into the story—we become the characters. (I know that I used to imagine myself as one of the Fellowship of the Ring because I wanted so much to be a part of it. And come on, how many of you really wish you could go to Hogwarts and already know exactly what house the Sorting Hat would put you in?) We attach ourselves to actors and actresses, sports heroes and teams (go Yankees, by the way), movies, video games, and politicians because we want to be part of something great—something more exciting than what we think we’ve got on our own. We want to be part of a great story. I think sometimes, we look at our real lives, and we don’t want to be part of them at all. We feel as though they are a waste. After all, who wants to forecast land sales or clean toilets (Can you guess some of my former jobs?) when we could be fighting evil wizards, destroying powerful pieces of jewelry in lava streams, or fighting mornachts?

But what if…?

What if there really is a story being told beyond that of our own lives? What if there is a power struggle between good and evil? And what if the fate of the world lies in the balance? What if you could be a part of it? Would you jump at the chance to make a difference? Would you fight for good, even if it required some sacrifice?

Design implies a designer. And if that designer has a story, do you want to be part of it?

Waxing Philosophical Part 1: Symmetrical Rock Stacking

A few weeks ago, I was in North Carolina with my mom and dad, taking a break from the road. We went on a couple of hikes through the Blue Ridge Mountains—one of my favorite places to hike. (I especially like hiking to waterfalls. I don’t know… I’m not one for “scenic” hikes. If I’m gonna bust my butt hiking up some hill, I want a cool destination. It’s about getting to the destination, not the journey—and yes, that should tell you a whole bunch about my personality right there.) Anyhow, on one hike (to the waterfall above, by the way), the trail happened to wind next to this river. I looked at the river and gasped. “Look at that,” I said, and I pointed to the river bed where we saw almost fifty towers of river rocks that had been stacked vertically. I’ve included a picture because I took a whole bunch (and because I don’t want to waste 1000 words describing it).

Immediately, my twisted little mind remembered The Blair Witch Project. Then I quoted Dan Ackroyd on Ghost Busters when he said, “Look, symmetrical book stacking…” I especially remembered Bill Murray’s sarcastic comment, “Yes, no human being would ever stack books like this.”

That, of course, is the point. When I saw the symmetrically stacked rocks, did I think: Wow, look how amazing the river is! It stacked the rocks just like this using perfect timing and currents? Heck no! I immediately assumed a human being stacked the rocks. My mom confirmed my suspicions when she said, “Yeah, Dad and I saw someone doing it last week.”

Design implies a designer. When we walk along the beach and see Brad Loves Angelina written in the sand, we don’t think, Look at what the waves did, or, Look at what a bunch of seagull feet created. When we see a cake sitting on the counter, we immediately assumed someone baked it. Symmetrically stacked rocks imply a stacker. Words written in the sand imply a writer. A baked cake implies a baker. Design implies a designer.

So why is it that when we look at the intricate designs of our own bodies, we think that nature did it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

I'm featured on Another Blog!

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know that my author friend, Sandy Lender, author of Choices Meant for Gods, is featuring the first chapter of A Prophecy Forgotten: Book I of the Elysian Chronicles on one of her blogs: She's also got my bio posted, so check it out!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Out of the Shadows: Installment 5 of the Prologue & First Chapter

For those of you new to my blog, I've been adding pieces of the first chapter of Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles. Cleck out the link if you want to read the beginning of the Prologue. Also, if you want to receive notification of Out of the Shadows' release, sign up here.

Chapter One
Davian raced through the Palace of Ezzer’s quartz gates and into the palace courtyard. Down the main path he flew until he reached the fifty-foot, quartz Statue of Ezzer. Davian knelt and crossed his fist over his chest in salute. He kissed his hand and touched the base of the statue. “I wish you were the one we were electing,” he whispered. He glanced at the inscription on the statue’s base. In times of darkness, let faith be your guide. Let your hope never fail. Immediately, Davian’s worry increased. The statue’s inscription matched Cassadern’s message, and the last time Cassadern told him not to give up hope, the Third Battle began. Davian stood up and flew through the palace’s crystal doors and down its ornately-carved quartz halls. He passed through the sapphire encrusted Command Chamber doors, barely noticing the two guards who saluted him.

Davian paused a moment as he stared at the hall. Two rows of quartz pillars supported the vaulted ceiling and led from the doors, past the quartz statues of Elysia’s ancient rulers, and all the way to the empty crystal throne that sat upon the a dais. It won’t be empty for long, Davian thought. He turned to the immense forty-person conference table in the center of the room where High Seraph Salla and the other seraphs perched. Children, thought Davian. After Eric and his conspirators had assassinated most of Elysia’s high ranking officers, Salla promoted the remaining lieutenants and captains to positions far beyond their experience. Most of the seraphs sitting around the table had taken orders from majors only three months ago, and they held onto Salla’s words the way boys hold onto candy.

Davian landed in front of Salla and knelt.

Salla frowned. “You’re late. I expected my senior arch-seraph to set a better example.”

“Something came up, sir. I need to talk to you alone as soon as possible.”

Salla lifted an eyebrow. “If you wanted to talk to me, you should have come to the policy meeting on time—not continued research on a project you know I’m going to order you to stop tomorrow.” He turned to the rest of the seraphs at the table, who stared at Davian with disdain. “That concludes this meeting,” Salla said. He hopped off his perch, turned away from Davian, and headed for the door. The rest of the seraphs exited as well.

Davian looked around the room for something he could punch instead of Salla, but he dared not touch anything in what he still considered the hallowed hall of Ezzer. He flew after Salla. “Sir, I really need to talk with you.”

“I’m a busy cherubian, Davian. I only ask that you respect my time, which you can’t even seem to do.”

Don’t give me that, thought Davian. You’ll be spending most of your time frolicking about in the Treetop two hours from now. Davian flew in front of Salla. “I was late, sir, because I just discovered a possible threat on your life. Now, I could have arrived at your meeting on time and allowed you to be assassinated, or I could have traced the threat to make sure it was valid. Which would you prefer me do next time?”

“I’d prefer you’d adjust your tone and show me proper respect.”

Any other seraph would have cowered and immediately apologized. Davian crossed his arms. “Fine. When you have time to realize that you don’t want to die tonight, find me.”

Davian turned to fly out of the Command Chamber, but Salla blocked his path. “You have five minutes.”

“Thank you. Remember how you and I originally assumed that Eric led the Third Battle Conspiracy? Well, sir, we were wrong. Eric was a blind—the face of the leader, but not the leader.” Davian reached in his pocket and pulled out a charred note Harley had given him. He passed Salla the note, which said:

Eric, proceed with your plan to keep Davian on Earth—but do not harm Gabriella more than necessary. Either recruit her, or make it look like an accident. I want Davian out of our wings, not on rampage. And be patient. You will have the pleasure of killing him once everything settles down. Give the senator my command crystal and tell him to take those who have joined us out the northern canaf before the sun sets on Friday. Once you finish with Gabriella, return and await my orders. The letter had no signature.

The Elysian Chronicle: August 2007

Inside Heaven’s Realm
It’s no secret that mornachts have infiltrated Elysia’s southern front. It’s also no secret the infiltrators have keen eyesight—even at night—and that the danger of getting shot out of the skies poses a real threat for all cherubians fighting in the south. Something about this scenario should cause suspicion for all Elysian Chronicles readers—as it does for Davian and many RSOs. Cherubians can fly high in the skies—higher than the range of their own arrows. One must wonder, therefore, how the mornachts are able to shoot them down. Do they have better arrows? Better bows? And is it really the mornachts who have discovered this new technology, or is something else going on? It’s a question that probably enters Davian’s mind even as he concentrates on unearthing the perpetrators behind the Third Battle Conspiracy, and it leave readers with something to think about as they await Out of the Shadows, the newest installment of The Elysian Chronicles.

What do you think? Leave a comment if you suspect somthing fishy....

Breaking News
Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles is now in the hand of advance readers!
I’ve finished the second draft of OOTS and it’s now in the hands of my advance readers. It’s due to my publisher by the end of the month. If you want to receive a postcard, notifying you as soon as it’s released, go to my website at and fill out the form!

M. B. Weston a Guest at Dragon*Con!
I'll be speaking on a few panels at Dragon*Con, a sci-fi/fantasy/gaming convention in Atlanta over Labor Day Weekend. Are any of you planning on going to Dragon*Con? Leave a comment, and come find me at the ArcheBooks booth and say hi!

A Prophecy Forgotten T-Shirts Now for Sale!
Check them out in the new Elysian Chronicles Merchandise section or click on the below link!

View Excerpts from the First Chapter of OOTS
I’m offering a preview of the first chapter of Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles. Visit: or the Out of the Shadows section of the website. I’ll be updating it every month, so keep checking!

Stay Tuned For:
· A little surprise or two in the OOTS section.
· Updated book signings & speaking events. Keep checking to see if I’ll be in your area!
· Book Club information
Author Events
Book Signings:
· August 4th: BabelCon, Baton Rouge, LA.
· August 11th: Borders, Gulf Coast Town Center, Ft. Myers. 1:00 to 3:00.
· August 18th: Borders, GCTC, Ft. Myers. 1:00 to 3:00.
· August 25th: Borders, GCTC, Ft. Myers. 1:00 to 3:00.
· August 28th: Longshore Lake Book Club 7:00

Young Writers of Naples
Join me and other high school students at Barnes & Noble from 10:00-12:00 on the 3rd Saturday of each month.

Summer Writing Program at Borders:
I’ll be teaching writing workshops for at Borders at Gulf Coast Town Center in Ft. Myers the last three Saturdays in August from 3:00 to 5:00 on Plot & Structure, Character Development, and Show Don’t Tell.

Open Mike Night @ Barnes & Noble
Come join me at Open Mike Night at Barnes & Noble Naples on the 1st Tuesday night of each month! Bring your writing, your singing voice, or your instrument (or any combination of the 3), and let’s have some fun!

Sign up for the Elysian Chronicle

M. B. Weston's E-newsletter

Make sure to sign up for M. B. Weston's e-newsletter and receive the latest information about the Elysian Chronicles at:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Symptoms of Fried Brain

I’m beginning to experience symptoms of classic Fried Brain. Fried Brain is a medical term for the condition brought on by many factors, including: stress, fear, time crunches, lack of sleep, and book deadlines. Symptoms of Fried Brain include, but are not limited to:

  1. Overindulgence in coffee and/or espresso
  2. Insomnia (see above)
  3. Sensory organ shutdown (i.e. not noticing anything going on around you)
  4. Moments of senility and/or forgetfulness
  5. Exhaustion
  6. Fogginess when thinking

If you have or experience any of these symptoms, you may be experiencing Fried Brain. The only known cures are: 1) give up on whatever dream you’re trying to accomplish, 2) indulge in more of symptom one, and 3) meet your deadline.

I began to realize I was showing the classic signs of Fried Brain when I walked into the bank today. First, some history. For the past month while I’ve been on the road, I’ve had to drag my computer and huge purse everywhere. Each time I’d get out of my car, I’d be dragging everything in to either a book signing or a coffee shop where I would write/answer e-mail/etc. All the time, every day. So today, I get out of the car and go into the bank. As I’m standing in line, the assistant manager comes up to me and gives me a weird look. “Looks like you’ve got a lot of stuff,” he said. I closed my eyes in embarrassment and said, “I’ve got a backpack on, don’t I?” He nodded. And there I was, standing in the middle of the bank with my huge, heavy back pack on and my purse that is the size of a mammoth’s ear.

Fried Brain.

So I immediately drove to PJ’s and indulged in symptom one.

Anyone else out there have Fried Brain, or know what to do about it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BabelCon Installment 6: My Tour of the USS Alabama

Greg and I stopped by the USS Alabama—a World War II Battleship in Mobile, AL—as we drove back to Naples after BabelCon. We got to tour the ship itself and an old submarine. Here are a few things that I’ve decided.

First, I don’t like being inside a submarine. If you ever meet someone in the Navy who has to work on a submarine, shake his or her hand and thank them doubly for their service to our country. Subs are tiny. Way too tiny. I can’t imagine being stuck on that thing for weeks at a time. And it’s not like you can go outside for some fresh air if you get stir crazy, or if you just want to get away from someone annoying.

Second, all the stairs on both the ship and the sub were steep. Ick! I had to take a few deep breaths each time I went down.

Third, the battleship was huge! And it had everything—even a soda fountain. They had their own doctor and dentist, a barber, laundry. The guns on the battleship shot sixteen inch diameter bullets, and they could shoot them for over twenty miles. And the weird thing was that they could do everything—navigation, shooting, everything—without computers!

Fourth, it was stinking hot below deck and inside. I guess they didn’t air condition the ships, and I thought a lot about how this ship must have done in the pacific when we fought Japan. I guess it’s so easy to forget how much our military service men and women have sacrificed for this country. They had to endure non-air-conditioned situations often.

Fifth, the teamwork involved between all divisions of the armed forces was amazing. It takes 140 men to fire the big guns. (You’ll see the big guns in my pictures to follow.) Then, it takes a whole bunch of battleships to guard an aircraft carrier—or it used to. I’m told that air craft carriers now have their own defense systems. Everyone has to work together in order to get just one air craft carrier pilot into the air. That, and my husband kept explaining to me how the battleships were used in Normandy—how they shot the beaches before our boys arrived to give them a fighting chance. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force working together. Wow!

Many of you might be wondering why I decided to spend three hours in the hot sun checking out a battleship. Well, you’ll just have to wait until Book III of The Elysian Chronicles.

Photos From the USS Alabama

The USS Alabama

You're not going to believe this, but this is the deck of the ship, and not all of it!

I'm sitting on one of the ship's "little guns."

These are the big guns--16" calliber! (See the above picture of the bullet.) Greg is the little guy in the black shirt and shorts that you can barely see. He's there for scale.

My husband, Greg, standing next to a bullet for the ship's "big guns." This is why you don't want to go challenging a battleship.

This is me standing next to the USS Alabama's propeller.

This gives a whole new meaning to "Weigh Anchor!"

I couldn't resist! I'm Queen of the World!

With the proper leverage, I might be able to get out of here. Where are the sword toting blacksmith and the crazy pirate when you need them?

I liked this shot, and it took a while for me to frame. The gun on the ground is what military folk refer to as "anti-aircraft."

This is a Marine amphibious...thing. Not exactly something you want to see coming up the beach!

Here, Greg is standing next to a Russian tank that was sold to the Iraqis and left abandoned in Kuwait during the first Gulf War.

You can see the WWII submarine we toured in the background behind all the cars.

I think this is the missle room inside the sub. A maniquin is "checking out" the missles. I had to stop taking pictures because the submarine was so small that I just wanted to look at everything and get out.

A swiftboat--John Kerry's political demise.

Below, you can see some artwork on the planes (and one yellow cart-thing). I took these pictures to give me an illustration of the military sense of humor. Sometimes, these little things can help my writing more than the research.

In Memory of Phil Rizzuto

This is a sad day for the Bronx Bombers. Phil Rizzuto, aka Scooter to the Yankee faithful, passed away. For those of you who aren't familiar with baseball, Phil Rizzuto was part of the dynasty that was the New York Yankees back in the 50's when they won almost every World Series imaginable. A lovable teammate (and the target of many team pranks), Phil went on to become a Yankees broadcaster and was known for his classic line, "Holy Cow!"

For me, Phil Rizzuto was an inspiration to me because of his tenacity. He tried out for the--oh dear. Without looking it up, I believe it was the Brooklyn Dodgers, but it could have been the New York Giants. Anyhow, Casey Stengel told him he would never become a major league baseball player. Funny, Phil Rizzuto was still the Yankee short stop when Stengel became their skipper. Before my publisher bought A Prophecy Forgotten, I used to display a little slip of paper on my desk that said something like this:

Some idiot traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
Some idiot told Phil Rizzuto he couldn't play short.
Some idiot ignored Brad Pitt's audition.
Some idiot rejected Harry Potter.
Life is full of idiots. KEEP WRITING!

Every time I felt like giving up, I'd take a look at that slip of paper for encouragement. So thank you, Scooter, for your example of not giving up even when you're rejected.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Out of the Shadows is Now in the Hands of My Advance Readers


Well, not really. But I did just the the almost second draft of Out of the Shadows: Book II of the Elysian Chronicles into the hands of my advance readers. It's got a few holes, but it's basically complete. Yeah! Now onto finishing the third draft before August 31, 2007.

Is Anyone Out There a Paratrooper?

I'm working on the climax of Out of the Shadows, and I was wondering if anyone out there has any parachuting experience. Mainly, I need to know this: If I fall out of a plane at 3,000 feet, how many seconds do I have to make myself right with God? What about 4,000? 2,000?

(I need it for an angel dogfighting scene--thank you to Airman John Deering for the idea.)

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

BabelCon Installment 5: Catwoman and Stunt Woman

I really enjoyed meeting Lee Meriwether and her daughter, Leslie Aletter. Lee has had a remarkable career. She has played Catwoman on Batman, as well as Losira on the original Star Trek. She was even Miss America in 1955—and rumored to be engaged to one of my Yankee idols, Joe DiMaggio. Yes, that puts her in Marylyn Monroe territory! I enjoyed watching Lee relate to all of the fans. She never expressed annoyance or exhaustion. She always smiled, and she made sure to include me, even though I was the least famous at the Con. She’s still got the Miss America poise. I watched her and took mental notes, hoping that I could give fans the same respect and kindness that she did. One thing that I noticed right off when I first met Lee wasn’t necessarily her beauty (She’s still got it!), or her marvelous bone structure, but her eyes. They were kind and confident. (I’m an eye person. Those of you who have read A Prophecy Forgotten have probably figured that out.) Lee and I did an exchange. I got an autographed picture of her as Catwoman, and she got an autographed book from me.

Lee’s daughter, Leslie Aletter, was also in attendance. She sat next to me. She’s a Hollywood stuntwoman. She was Sigourney Weaver’s stunt double in Galaxy Quest and in Alien: Resurrection. Amazing woman, and incredibly fit. My first thought when I met her was, “Wow! I need to get in shape!” She is toned and very attractive. We began talking about the weight of Hollywood actresses, and it’s actually becoming a problem for stunt doubles. Think about it. A stunt double needs to be fit and with incredible muscular power, i.e. heavier than a waif. So here is the question. How does a stunt double lose enough weight to pass for the anorexic actress from far away without fainting on set because of lack of food?

What is interesting is that Ms. Aletter was not in “weight loss” mode when I met her. She weighed more than the waifs, and she looked INCREDIBLE! Anyway, I was very impressed by her because she does things I just don’t think I could do. For instance, she was the one holding the flame thrower in Alien: Resurrection, and she had to have a fuel line put through her costume to do the part. I’ve got pyro-phobia—there’s no way I’d do that! And she’s hung from flying helicopters, etc. Yikes! Those of you who heard me speak in Ft. Walton Beach know all about my heights issues. This woman was kind and impressive—just like her mother.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

BabelCon Installment 4: Role Playing Clubs

Or, Why I Would Never be a Novelist if They Existed in My Area

I discovered something new this weekend—role playing clubs. At least, that’s what I call them. BabelCon had a group called NERO (New England Roleplaying Organization— featured.

One of the leaders of the NERO club came into the dealer room when he was hot from sword fighting demonstrations outside, and we talked about roleplaying games. (He was dressed similar to Elrond. His wife made the costume, and I must say that I was impressed.) Basically, if you join the group, you get to create your own character and dress like the character when the group gets together. They have a plot master (I think that’s why they are called.) who is the only one who knows what is going on. The rest of the members all are like real characters in a story—they have no idea about the challenges that might be thrown their way. For instance, you might have to open a chest, but if you don’t have the key to the chest or a lock picker, you might be out of luck, and the plot master isn’t going to help. (My husband said he would break the chest, and I think that is allowed.) The twist on the whole thing is that they often have to fight each other, and the plot masters don’t know who is going to win. I love it. It reminds me of writing.

What makes the roleplaying club so intriguing? A number of things. First, the plot masters can carry on secrets about stuff for years—just like a novelist. (A bunch of you probably think that I just chose the color sky-blue for the gnomes who were begin taken to the Dungeon of Enbed in A Prophecy Forgotten. You don’t know that the color is important, as well as the color burgundy that Gimp wears. It is important, ha ha!) Second, it’s a lot like the reality TV programs that we see, except no cameras, and you don’t have to look like a toothpick to play. Anyone can join, and it’s a really great release! Third, it’s a great way to bond with likeminded friends. I noticed at BabelCon that most people were with a group--very few loners. Fouth, Dude! You get to hit people with foam covered PVC pipes and learn how to use swords. That's AWESOME! I'm so there already.

Anyway, I’ve decided that if one of these groups existed in my area, I probably would ever get any work done. It sounds kind of fun!

This is Karl showing a two boys the fine art of not getting hit buy a sword. (They actually use foam covered PVC pipe for safety reasons.) Bear in mind that it is probably over 95 degrees outside.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

BabelCon Installment 3: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Darth?

Or, Why I'm Still Afraid of Storm Troopers

One of the ladies who worked the paleontology exhibit on the other side of me at BabelCon said, “You know you’re in a weird spot when you get to the point where you say to yourself, ‘Oh, there goes another Klingon,’ like it is normal.” That’s what BabelCon was like—tons of people dressed up in costumes. I enjoyed it immensely—especially because I like to look at costumes. However, I found out a very funny thing about myself.

Attending BabelCon were Darth Vader, complete with breathing mechanism, a storm trooper, a tye fighter (Star Wars fans, correct my spelling, please!), a guard from detention block AA23 (I think. Or he was one of the guys who rode the 4-legged robot things on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back)—who later turned into Anakin when his uniform got too hot, and a guard from the moon of Endor.

As the storm trooper passed me, I pulled him aside and asked him if the outfit came complete with air conditioning. I was joking. Imagine my surprise when he said that it had two fans inside. As I talked with the storm trooper, I began to notice something. My heart rate picked up. Whoa! That was weird. Then Darth Vader followed, and the heart rate picked up even more. Then I noticed that every time I passed these guys in the halls, I felt all the symptoms of fear, and I just wanted to get through the hallway quickly. Why, I asked myself, did my brain press the panic button the moment I saw these guys?

I think I know. Star Wars came out in 1977—I think. (I’ve got to be careful, because I know a whole bunch of fans are probably reading this.) That means, I was only 1 when it came out. I was basically raised on Star Wars—my dad was a huge fan. I’ve watched Episodes 4-6 so much that I practically have them memorized. I was watching these movies at the tender age of 6, 7—8 is when Return of the Jedi came out—9, 10. I was so young when Empire Strikes Back came out that all I remember is watching Vader kill yet another one of his captains. (The scene where the poor guy falls to the floor and Vader says, “Apology accepted, Captain Nida.” Or whatever his name was. I was practically deaf when I was young, so I’ve found that a bunch of names that I learned to say at a young age were wrong.) Imagine how that scene must have affected me as a little girl. Anyway, I think the instincts bread into me from watching Star Wars as a child just kind of came out. Part of my brain knew it was just Star Wars fans in costume, but the other part of me accessed the younger memories and kept saying, “Evil, evil, evil!”
Stay tuned for BabelCon Installments 4, 5 & 6!

Tags: Star Wars, storm trooper, Return of the Jedi, Empire Strikes Back, BabelCon

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

BabelCon Installment 2: Klingons And Brilliant Star Trek Writers

A group of guys dressed up as Klingons had rooms right across from me at the hotel. They are members of a group called KAG, which stands for Klingon Assault Group ( Greg and I first saw them on Friday night as we were returning to our hotel room. There they were—five Klingons—marching almost in formation. It turns out that they were going to the airport to welcome Robert O’Reilly, who played Chancellor Gowron on Star Trek, at the airport. I’m told that Mr. O’Reilly had never had a welcome so special, and I’m sure he was grateful for their support.

(Here are two of the group, ready to listen to a speech. The one in the foreground is their commander.)

(Here, the commander is having a conversation with Robert O'Reilly (Chancellor Gowron). It's really hard to see the intricacies of his costume from here. He used real leather, and it looked AWESOME!)

On Saturday, as I was selling books in the dealer room, one of the Klingons stood next to me and said he had a sciatic nerve problem. I let him have my chair every now and then when he needed a rest, and we ended up having a lovely conversation about education (he’s a high school history teacher by day), the Civil War, and—of course—the Klingon culture.

(This is me and Klingon Kevin.)

After talking with a few people about Star Trek, I have come to the conclusion that the writers were/are absolutely brilliant. It’s one of those things where I covet their ability to write. Many people might wonder why Star Trek was such a powerful series/movie/s that fans today take the time to buy or make their own costumes and have their own conventions, and I think I know why. Writers, including me, this is the part where you might want to take notes.

First, the writers of Star Trek made the cultures of their various alien lifeforms intricate and real. (Tolkien did this in Lord of the Rings, and George Lucas did this in Star Wars.) The The writers developed their culture so much that they made Klingons seem real. (They even gave Klingons a language and a form or writing that you can find with Google.) Basically, any Klingon fan can take what they now about Klingons(based solely on what they have seen in the series) and create their own weapons, etc.—and they would probably be right on. Now that’s good writing on the part of the Star Trek writers.

Second, the writers of Star Trek patterned their cultures after actually human experience and history. Klingons were actually based on the Russians (according to Klingon Kevin), which is why they became allies with the humans in Star Trek: Next Generation. Because the writers patterned the Klingons after a culture familiar to us, Klingon behavior often makes our human brains go, “Hey, that’s like this-and-such-example that happened during this-and-such era.” It makes their culture easier to believe. The Klingon culture is also one of honor. Well, I can think of many cultures that are similar, and that makes the Klingon cultures seem more real. Patterning created cultures after real ones helps give familiarity to science fiction and fantasy, and that familiarity is helpful for readers. It's something they can grasp onto when they are reading about so many new technologies or fantasy concepts.

Third, the Star Trek writers adopted the Kligong language and colloquialisms to match their culture. The standard Klingon greeting is Kaplah (sp?), which the uneducated fan might think means “hello.” Imagine my amazement when Robert O’Reilly said “Kaplah” to me (Oh my gosh, Chancellor Gowron Kaplah-ed me!), and then told me that it meant "success." I looked at him and said, “You know that tells me so much about the Klingon culture right there.”


You can tell what drives the Klingons. Hawaiians say “Welcome.” Americans say “Hi.” Israelis say "Shalom" (peace). Klingons wish each other “Success.” I’m telling you, the writers of star trek were BRILLIANT! I need to make sure to apply this concept to my gnome and dragon cultures, which I will be introducing in Out of the Shadows.

P.S. Regarding the spelling of Kaplah--I went to several Klingon Language sites and tried to find out how to spell it, but I couldn't seem to find anything. If any of you out there know how to spell it, please leave me a comment!

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BabelCon Pics

Here are some pics of me at BabelCon. I'll have more to follow as I blog about it throughout the week.

Here I am, trying to sell my wares. The wire book holder was provided.

Me again. The book next to me was written by Randy Richards. It's called Dreadmire, and it's a D&D gaming book. I don't know much about D&D, but I know you can find out more about Dreadmire and Randy at Also, be sure to thank Randy if you see him. He's one of the people who put this whole thing together.

This shot wasn't suppsed to happen. I was holding the book, explaining the plot to a potential customer. Then I saw Randy holding a camera, and I immediately posed.

This was one of the scientists at BabelCon. They don't read much fiction.

On Home Run 756

Or the Top Ten Reasons I love Baseball

Well, it’s over. Barry Bonds just hit home run 756, passing Hank Aaron as the leader on the all time home run list. Everyone has his or her own opinion on Bonds—especially regarding steroids, tax evasion, general niceness, etc. I have my own opinions, and I’m not too fond of cheating. I agree, however, that America is founded on the concept of innocent until proven guilty, so I shall not make any harsh judgments at this time.

Instead, I shall talk about my favorite sport: baseball. Baseball is what I consider a classy sport, and therefore, I’m happy that Bonds beat Aaron’s record at home in San Francisco. Anywhere else, he might have been booed. The classiness of the sport, however, was preserved as Bonds hit his 756th home run at home, and therefore in front of cheering fans. The only non-classy thing about tonight was the absence of Beelzebub—I mean Bud Selig. But then again, Selig never did have class.

In honor of Baseball, I shall present to you, my top ten reasons as to why I love it.
10. Baseball is the only game where you can walk in a run and not have it count as an official at bat.
9. 6-4-3 double plays make me tingle.
8. Suicide squeezes don’t hurt anyone.
7. The best players offensively fail 60-70% of the time. This helps my self-esteem.
6. Vin Skully and Yogi Berra—the best baseball commentators of all time.
5. Pinstripes would just look stupid on football and hockey players.
4. Jackie Robinson paved the way for civil rights in America.
3. Cool nicknames for ball park locals, including: Short Porch, Peske Pole, Bleacher Bums, Ivy, & Green Monster.
2. Cool nicknames for ball players, including: Rocket, Big Unit, Charlie Hustle, Yankee Clipper, Iron Horse, Big Papi, Christian Gentleman, and Big Hurt.
1. Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

BabelCon Installment 1: Top Ten Things I Learned At BabelCon

I just got back from BabelCon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I spent most of my time in the dealer room, hocking my book. I had a really great time—especially when I gave a talk on “Making Make-Believe Believable.” It was the first time that I’ve asked an audience how many of them have seen Star Wars and Galaxy Quest—and all of them raised their hands. These are my people! (I’m a closet Star Wars junkie. I don’t read the books, but if it’s about the original three star wars, I can tell you a lot.) A few things stood out in my memory, and I figured I share them with you over the next few weeks. (They would be too much for one blog entry, and I have to spend most of my time on Out of the Shadows, which is due at the end of the month. For now, here are my top ten things that I learned at BabelCon.

10. Kaplah (sp?) is Klingon for “success”—not “hi.” (Robert O’Reilly, i.e. Chancellor Gowron from Star Trek, told me.) (I’ll have a future blog on my new Klingon friends later.) By the way, if any of you who know the Klingon language are reading this, please let me know if I spelled Kaplah right. I have this horrid feeling that I butchered it.
9. Lee Meriwether (Cat Woman & 1955 Miss America) is amazingly gracious and kind—not to mention stunningly gorgeous. (Look at me go on the adverbs! I should mark up the whole sentence with red ink.)
8. Stunt women are sexier than actresses because they look healthy instead of like starved Ethiopians. (Of course, the stunt woman (Leslie Aletter) was Lee Meriwether’s daughter, so she has really good genes.
7. Chain Mail (which is actually called just “mail”—oh dear—was actually stronger than many scientists originally assumed, and it could repel most arrows. (A sword specialist guy told me about it, and he let me hold a few of his swords. That was cool. They weren’t as heavy as I thought they would be.)
6. Real leather looks better on a costume than vinyl.
5. Do not visit the USS Alabama during August. If you must (because it’s on the way home from BabelCon), use sunscreen and bring a lot of water. (A blog about the USS Alabama will follow later.)
4. No one ever dresses up like Yoda or R2D2 at these things.
3. Doing sword fight demonstrations outside in Baton Rouge in a full, Elrond-style costume can make you really hot. (Or so I’ve been told by my new friends in NERO.)
2. Storm trooper costumes actually have fans inside of them to keep the wearers from keeling over in the Louisiana heat.
1. I’m still afraid of Darth Vader and Storm Troopers—even though I know they’re just regular people in costume. (More to come on this, too.)

I’ll be writing more about BabelCon as the weeks go by. Right now, I must work on Out of the Shadows.

(This picture above was taken by my new friends, David and his son Jonathan. I'm holding Marvin from The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Please visit David's website at (You'll see a whole bunch of pictures of Marvin with the other guests as well.))

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