Contests galore (and even more)!

October will be a busy month for contests and sales.

  • GIDEON is one of 25 ebooks you can enter to win at the Ultimate Horror Book and Prize Giveaway. Two lucky winners will get the ebooks, while one Grand Prize winner gets all the ebooks and a collection of classic horror novels along with matching Funko Pop figures. The contest runs through October 30th, with the winner to be chosen on Halloween.
  • CODE OF CONDUCT is one of more than 35 SF ebooks one lucky person can win, along with a Kindle Fire to read them on. Contest runs until 10/10. Enter here.
  • The first four Jani Kilian novels (CODE OF CONDUCT, RULES OF CONFLICT, LAW OF SURVIVAL, CONTACT IMMINENT) are being offered as a $9.99 bundle over at Book View Café. Sale end 10/11.
  • The ebook editions of GIDEON and JERICHO are on sale at all the usual outlets. GIDEON can be had for $3.99, JERICHO for $4.99. I don’t know how long the lower prices will be in effect, so grab them now.
  • And finally, on 10/4, a couple of my light, sweet fantasy short stories go on sale at Book View Café. They will be sold there exclusively through October, after which they’ll be available at Amazon and other outlets that sell short stories.

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Flowers, wild and tame

At the state park, ’tis the season of yellow, mostly. Asters of various types. including a ton of goldenrod. I tried to identify some of the plants , but I tend to photograph the flowers and ignore the leaves and stems, and sometimes the leaves and stems are important.

A type of rosinweed, I think.

A type of rosinweed, I think.

Most of these plants are very tall–5-6 feet or more–and bursting with blooms. I know they’re shedding pollen like mad, but they’re still pretty.

I think this is camphorweed

I think this is camphorweed


These little guys were growing on the beach, in the shelter of some driftwood. Pretty sure they are rough blazing star, which should grow 2-3 feet high…unless they are struggling for purchase on a stretch of rocky sand.

rough blazing star, a type of liatris

rough blazing star, a type of liatris

a close-up of one of the rough blazing stars

a close-up of one of the rough blazing stars








Finally, more asters. Could be frost asters, which sounds lovely. Or fleabane, which, not so much. They’re growing amid a tangle of grapevines, of which we have a lot around here.

frost aster or fleabane

frost aster or fleabane


And that’s the wildflower report for the month. Here at the old homestead, the hardy hibiscus are blooming nicely, and still attracting bees and hummingbirds.

the hummingbirds" fave hibiscus

the hummingbirds’ fave hibiscus

The bees like this one

The bees like this one

this one"s winding down

this one’s winding down














The begonias are giving it a last shot–whites have been blooming for most of the summer, but the magentas and pinks struggle in the planter, which is very well-shaded. So far, a few magentas have bloomed, and one or two pinks look like they still have some life left. Fingers crossed that they have a chance to bloom before the chill sets in.



The hydrangeas in the shady sideyard are still blooming. The Annabelle stays white, while the Limelight starts whitish, then changes to pale lime. IIRC, last year’s flowers faded to pale pink, so I still have some color to look forward to.












The hardy mums that I planted last fall are starting to open. Two bright yellows and a brick red or burnt orange–I won’t know until buds open completely. In the past, I had stuck mums in the planter, then dug them up after the frost killed them. Last year, Julie Czerneda suggested I plant them before the frost, so I did. Three of five plants survived, and look about ready to explode with flowers.

"Get thee to a mummery!"

“Get thee to a mummery!”

And that’s it for flowers for now. I’m surprised that I still have so many plants still going strong. I’m glad–I’ll miss them come the chill.


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Worldcon schedule

I received my final schedule for Midamericon II. No reading or kaffeeklatsch, but some cool-looking panels and a SFWA signing. 

Thursday Aug 18, 2016, 12:00PM
Extreme, but Workable Societies 1 hour | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2208
Steven H Silver | Chris Phillips (Flash Fiction Online) | Ms Kristine Smith | Mr. Jared Shurin | Nina Niskanen

Genre Shows You Should Be Watching But Probably Aren’t 1 hour | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2207 , Priscilla Olson | Max Gladstone | Ginjer Buchanan | Don Sakers | Ms Kristine Smith

Saturday Aug 20, 2016, 5:00PM
Science Fiction That Inspired Scientists 1 hour | 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2206
Ms Kristine Smith | Dr. Ronald Taylor | Dr Dominick D’Aunno | Dr Helen Pennington | Mel. White

Sunday Aug 21, 2016, 10:00AM
SFWA Autographing: Kristine Smith 50 minutes | 10:00 AM -10:50 AM, Kansas City Convention Center, SFWA Table

A.K.A Why a Pen Name? 1 hour | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 3501H
Toni L. P. Kelner | Ms Kristine Smith | Teddy Harvia

Also, BookView Café will have a Creators Table in the Dealers Room on Saturday. Stop by and pick up a ribbon for your badge (while supplies last) and learn about some great books (we will always have those).

Less than two weeks to go….

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The Littlest Basil

I like basil. I don’t love it–I don’t find it as versatile as thyme or tarragon, frex. But I enjoy the scent of it on my hands, and it’s wonderful when tossed with olive oil and warm tortellini. I haven’t grown it these last few years, though, because the plants always seem to bolt on me. Lotsa flowers, which are edible if a little bitter. Fewer leaves.

When I was in Madison for Wiscon, I visited the Saturday morning Farmers Market with Jen Stevenson, and wound up buying a small flat of mixed basils, opal and a curly green variety I’d never seen before. At the time, I didn’t know why I was bothering even as I forked over the cash. I think part of me just likes growing things I can cook with. Anyway, two months on, the plants are going great guns, thick with fragrant leaves and not a flower to be seen:

Curly and opal basil


For whatever reason, I examined the plants again this morning. Picked a few browned leaves, then looked behind one of the big opals, and found this little guy:


Little Basil


The curly green plants are shorter than the opals, but this plant is definitely lagging behind. Little Basil. I turned the pot around to allow him to get more sun. I don’t think he can catch up to the other plants, but who knows?

Hello, my name is Kristine, and I feel sorry for plants.

(I also just went outside and rubbed my hands over the basil leaves and oh man do they smell good. A sharp cinnamon edge.)

As for the container Black Cherry, nothing is even close to edible. 9-10 bunches of greenies at various stages, and a number of flowers. I picked a ripe loner last week, and that’s going to have to do for a while. Could be well into August before anything is ready to eat.

Black Cherry greenies


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So long, Thrillerfest–

–until next year, maybe. I don’t have all my 2017 cons sorted out yet, and I do not want to travel as much next year as I did/will this year. But I had a good time and I love NYC, so I don’t know….

Last week at this time, I was home, unpacking and making a list of needed groceries. It felt good to be back in my space, with everything I needed to get through the day close at hand, but it was good to get away. I love staying at The Jane. It’s located on Jane Street–duh–in a residential area of the West Village. You leave the hotel and run into folks walking their dogs or pushing strollers. No Midtown-Times Square crowds and craziness. It’s a neighborhood:

IMG_0457West Village/Chelsea








Plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants once you head out to Washington Street, 8th Avenue. And it is on 11th Avenue, which can get busy. But if you cross that, you’re in the Hudson River Greenway. Then there’s the river, and the view (this from one of the terraces at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is a few minutes’ walk away:

view of Hudson River & NJ from the Whitney

I like it.





I also like Gitane’s, the restaurant off the hotel lobby. Sazeracs are on the menu, and they have an alligator:

A really good sazeracGitane"s alligator








I did not manage to do all the things I wanted to do. Only managed two museums, the Whitney and the 1st floor of the Met–it was too hot and humid to wander, and I didn’t want to wear myself out before the convention. I never made it to the Campbell Apartments for a sazerac, but since I was able to get a good one at the Jane, I wasn’t too disappointed. I did snag a ticket for a fireworks river cruise on the 4th. I took too many videos, and some of the lighting isn’t the best. I also can’t upload any of them because there’s an 8MB limit for video files, so, imagine fireworks. Shopping was confined to a couple of quick runs through the Chelsea Market, and the Met gift shop. Oh, and the FBI gift shop, where I got the best t-shirt ever:

ZTF shirt








The FBI workshop was great–very informative, with presentations about past cases and Q&A sessions. Thrillerfest was fun. I missed some of the events since I didn’t stay at the con hotel, but my panel went well–I wore my ZTF t-shirt:

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest


Heather Graham moderated. From right to left: Me, Kelley Armstrong, Christine Feehan, Mell Corcoran, and Alexandra Ivy. We talked about what scares us, what books or movies inspired us, and whether we had ever had any paranormal experiences. I pushed The Dark Descent, a collection of horror stories that imo every horror fan should have in their library. Also mentioned my love of Constantine the movie. Sorry, purists–I know how you feel, but I don’t have anything invested in the comic, so.



After my panel, which was on Friday morning, I attended panels, and signed some books. Met some great folks–shout outs to Mell Corcoran, Veronica Forand, and Kate Kessler! Made quick passes through parties.

In closing, the 81st Street/Museum of Natural History subway stop is the best:

81st St. subway squawki was herethe bats are big down here






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Two and a half weeks until Thrillerfest, which means not really the doldrums. More like, I should be thinking about what to pack but I can’t face it yet. I have a lot to work to do between now and then, so instead I’m dicking around online in search of bars in NYC that make sazeracs. Taking recs for food trucks and restaurants.

I get a year older during the visit. Born on the 4th, me. Looking forward to an NYC fireworks display. Also, walking the High Line, the Hudson Riverwalk. Puttering. I love New York. I really do.

And then there’s the con itself. I have a cool panel on Friday morning at 1020am:

Panel Master: Heather Graham
Kelley Armstrong
Mell Corcoran
Christine Feehan
Alex Gordon
Donna Grant
Alexandra Ivy

Then I get to go to panels, sign some books, talk to folks, fangirl, etc etc. Hoping for decent weather.

Reading–I am ashamed to admit that I don’t read as much as I used to. I mean, I read a lot online–news and political blogs. Science articles. But as for fiction…I must have well over 200 books in my electronic TBR stack (we won’t even talk about the jammed bookcases). I finished Robin McKinley’s SUNSHINE a few weeks ago, and loved it. Wanted to start something else, but I have research to do and that means nonfiction. That current book is THE EPIGENETICS REVOLUTION by Nessa Carey, and I should be way further along than I am.

I feel…guilty. Writers should read. It’s a major tool in the kit. It’s the primary way to learn what’s out there.

Also, it’s fun.

I have some beta-reads on tap, so I can rebuild the reading muscles that way. Then there are some golden oldies: MR James, Terry Pratchett, Preston & Child. Honestly, if someone stranded me on a desert island with my iPad and a solar charger, I’d be fine for at least a year. Two, possibly.

Oh well, back to something resembling work.

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Award-eligible works

Since it’s Shoot the Moon Sunday–new holiday I just made up–I will mention that GIDEON by Alex Gordon is eligible for consideration for the 2016 World Fantasy Award ballot.

This is the first time I have ever mentioned that a work of mine was eligible for consideration. It likely won’t be the last, either, so.

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Two trips in one week is a little much. Not that Park City wasn’t interesting, and Wiscon is always good.

But it will be good to stay put for a while.

Panels went well. Learned some things during Bowie’s Influence on SF, because that’s what happens when you stop following an artist for a stretch of time (I didn’t listen to much Bowie in the late 80s/90s). I also learned some stuff during the Writing Tools panel, which was moderated by K. Tempest Bradford. Smartpens with both audio and sensory (ability to ‘record’ handwriting strokes) capabilities–I knew vaguely that they existed, but didn’t realize how far the tech had come. That said, the love of fountain pens remains strong across age groups, and they’re not all expensive Mont Blancs and Watermans. Disposables are available. Antique stores are a good source. There is also a brand called Platinum Preppy which makes pens priced at $4-$5.

Tempest recorded the panel for a future podcast. I will link to it when it becomes available.

One of the best parts of Wiscon is Madison itself. The weather cooperated–there was a little rain, but not enough to impede restaurant crawls or interfere with the Farmers Market. I decided to brave container gardening this year, and bought a black cherry tomato plant and some mixed basils. Also bread, cheeses, spring spinach, and something called wasabi arugula which is DAMN. Bitey. Very bitey. Had some for dinner with goat cheese, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Good stuff.

A few photos. The view from my hotel room window:

Hotel room view







The double rainbow following a Sunday afternoon storm:

Double rainbow







Sunset over Lake Mendota:

Sunset over the lake


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My Wiscon schedule

Convention website here.

Genre Blending (scheduled) participant Fri, 9:00–10:15 pm University B
Moderator: Rebecca Holden. Email fellow participants Rebecca Holden, Alex Jennings, Justine Larbalestier, Loren Rhoads, Kristine Smith, Brooke Wonders 

Whether it’s a steampunk fairytale or an end of the world love story between science and magic or a Hong Kong-style revenge space opera, stories are spilling over the edges of genre. When is it done well? What is left to explore?
David Bowie’s Influence On Science Fiction (scheduled) participant Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm University C
Moderator: Gwynne Garfinkle. Email fellow participants Gwynne Garfinkle, Kristine Smith, Scott Westerfeld 

In her obituary on for trailblazing musician David Bowie, Charlie Jane Anders writes that Bowie “had an incalculable impact on pop culture throughout his shape-shifting career. But perhaps more than any other musician, he also had a tremendous impact on science fiction. He changed the way we thought about the alien, the uncanny, and the familiar.” This panel will explore the way Bowie’s music, films, and shifting persona shaped and inspired speculative writing and pop culture.
Analog and Digital Writing Tools (scheduled) participant Sun, 8:30–9:45 am Conference 1
Moderator: K. Tempest Bradford. Email fellow participants K. Tempest Bradford, Dylan Moonfire, Kristine Smith 

Writers, bring your favorite writing tools—laptop, tablet, quill, or steam-fueled ideatron—and share the pros and cons of your favored method of writing with others! We’ll talk software, hardware, analogware, old-fashioned methods as well as new. If you’re willing to share your beloved your writing gear, others may be eager to give them a try.
The SignOut (scheduled) participant Mon, 11:30 am–12:45 pm Capitol/Wisconsin
Come and sign your works, come and get things signed, come and hang out and wind down before you leave.

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