March 21, 2011

James Barnes with Loconeal Publishing setting up our table

Whew! Spent a long three days at Millennicon in Cincinnati. It was a great show: sold some books, made some new friends–lots of fun.

I met the incredible Stephen Zimmer, author and filmmaker, and plan to hit a few shows with him this summer. There was also the amazing duo of T.R. Chowdhury and T.M. Crim of The Shadow Over Shandahar series (who are joining me in the Loconeal fold–Welcome guys!) Can’t wait to hit the circuit!

Of all the wacky events I attend, the craft shows and bake shows, yard sales and pretty much any place I can set up a table, conventions are by far the hardest to attract buyers. People there are often on a mission for a certain kind of book, either by genre or author, and aren’t really interested in looking for anything else. Also, there’s lots of competition from other authors who are sharing space with you on the floor. Still, perseverance will win out in the end and if you’re tough and do plenty of smiling, you’ll come home with fewer books than you brought with you.

Note the monitor. It's displaying Carol's remote desktop with the illustration she's painting

At this convention we had Wi-Fi access and were able to get Carol Phillips, the Queen of the LoE Universe, to do several live paints. I dragged her out of her warm bed on the west coast to work on an illustration and she didn’t disappoint. We beamed her in via web conference and away she went, pulling and dragging, picking up color and causing an attendee at the Con to lose his heart (“She’s a Goddess,” he said).

That she is.

"Lt. Kilos and the Cat God Pub," by Carol Phillips

She started off with a flat sketch of Lt Kilos and Tweeter standing in front of the mysterious Cat God Pub in Blanchefort Village. Then, live before our unworthy eyes, the painting took shape, first the background and then the foreground. Due to a scheduling snafu on my part, Carol couldn’t quite finish the pic, but she’s getting close.

She knocked in the cobbles and added texture to the village in the background, rolled in some fog and added the “Octagon” to Elyria (the moon). She really wanted to have it finished before the Con ended, but that’s how life goes. People had various questions for her–mostly regarding layers, as Carol has over a hundred created for this painting and only very few of them are labelled. Next time, we’ll have to mic her up so she can talk as well as paint.

Next–I’m going to Piqua.

Bowl Naked


"The Cat God Pub" by Carol Phillips

I’ll be attending Millennicon in Cincinnati this weekend, March 18, 19 and 20 with Loconeal Publishing, signing books and promoting the release of Book III, The Dead Held Hands.

One of the things we’ll be doing is a Live Paint. Artist Carol Phillips will be working on this unfinished pic of Lt. Kilos standing in front of the elusive Cat God Pub, via Wi-Fi and a 17 inch monitor. She’ll even take questions via text while she’s working. It should be lots of fun.

Come and see us at Millennicon.

Cincinnati, Ohio

You know you want to …


The Gray Note

February 12, 2011

Perhaps you’ll understand what I’m about to share with you, and perhaps you won’t.

I often seek something I call The Gray Note. What is it?? It’s a sound that, when you hear, it takes you away, time forgotten, and your mind begins working at an incredible pace and in a rare harmony. My mentor at Ohio State told me about the existence of the Gray Note–that it was something he experienced once years before and had sought it out ever since. You never simply hear the Gray Note, it pulls you inside, like the embrace of an ancestor, and once you’re there conception is unbound and you’ve access to places in your own imagination never visited before–places you didn’t know existed. It’s like unlocking a hidden floor in a department store, full of treasures, where the public normally isn’t permitted to see.

Roebling Bridge (Cincinnati, Ohio)

I encountered it once on the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio about ten years ago. The bridge doesn’t have a paved roadway, instead it’s simply a segmented metal grate with large square holes through which you can see the rushing waters of the Ohio River far below. Cars rolling across this grated surface make the most incredible sound, full and mournful. On rainy days, when the air is thick, the sound sometimes changes a bit in timbre and becomes the Gray Note. I was walking across the bridge one rainy day and fell into it, standing there, mouth open, captivated, listening for hours, not wanting to come out of it. It was like an LSD trip, only without the drug, just a perfect communion of your mind and your senses. Eventually, the clouds parted and the sound changed, and I was dumped back to Earth, lamenting the perfection I’d experienced and then lost.

I often returned to the Roebling to try and recapture The Gray Note, but it never was the same, and I’ve looked for it ever since, always elusive and just beyond my reach. I’ve hunted it, like King Arthur’s Questing Beast.

Today, I found the Gray Note again, in an unexpected place.

My wife wanted to stop at Target and get a few things. I really didn’t want to go, but she insisted. We went inside and she grabbed a cart and started shopping. We made our way to the vast frozen food section, all the cases full of whirring fans, that droning staccato sound they made.


That sound…

As we moved down the aisle, there it was, in just the right spot, I re-discovered the Gray Note, rich and proud, full of life and creation.

As before, I fell in. Vast new worlds opened up, I created entire novels, beginnings and endings. Whole lives danced in front of me. I could have died there …

And then my wife shook me and it was gone. She said I was standing there in a stupor, like I was catatonic.

And there I was, back on Earth.

“Did you hear it?” I asked her.

“Hear what? I just hear noise.”

And my hunt continues …

Bowl Naked