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Mark Teppo

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Checking In, Catching Up [21 Sep 2010|11:01am]
I never get any less busy, and posting is always the first thing that gets left behind, so let's pretend this is a catch-up post.

Two weekends ago, I was at sword camp, and it was good. Well, more than good; it was great. The same gang that does the bi-annual WMAW conference put together a special event on the off-year to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Fiore dei Liberi's Il Fior di Battaglia. Typically, the WMAW (Western Martial Arts Workshop) covers everything that can be remotely considered to be a "western" martial art; this one was all about one Italian master. Delightful.

Last weekend, I managed to get to one day of the Esoteric Book Conference. Long enough to hear a couple of the presentations (which were fantastic) and to do some serious damage to my pocket book.

Yesterday, the interview I did for Tor.com about The Mongoliad went live. Also, I found out that both Lightbreaker and Heartland are now available on the Kindle (those links will take you to their respective pages at Amazon.com. Huzzah! Go little books, go!

Today, I am hip deep in a backlog of video content as I try to put together some semblance of clips for all the choreography work we've done over the last eight months.
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The Foolscap Reading Series recap [01 Jul 2010|03:04pm]
Sunday was the first of the Foolscap Summer Reading Series, wherein I rambled on for nearly three hours to a room of attentive and interactive listeners. It was more of a rolling discussion than a Watch The Monkey Dance! sort of show, but scarlettina was kind enough to tweet the proceedings and make it seem like all the bon mots were coming from me. For the sake of posterity, here's the highlights of the afternoon (in a somewhat edited version from the flatstuff twitter stream).


* I start off by reading the two pieces I wrote for Omnivoracious, the Amazon blog, related to the Codex of Souls series. [NOTE: those would be "On the Nature of Magick" and "On The Existence of Monsters]

* Mark Teppo is fascinating: In twenty minutes, he's invoked Alistair Crowley, Jesus, and Descartes.

* Teppo says: "We just wanna get naked with things that we shouldn't."

* Teppo says: As I wrote Lightbreaker, I repeated the words, "Men and mantras, shotguns and sigils."

* On writing fantasy & making stuff up: Teppo says he actually did more research for his fantasy book than he did for his science fiction story.

* Teppo says: The trouble with doing research is the more you get into it the more interesting things you find.

* Teppo says: There are elements of abstract esoteric thought that, when applied to scientific thought, start adding sense to the universe.

* Teppo says: Faith is reliance on the external to deliver to you. Crowley says there is no faith, only will. Faith is reactive; will is active.

* This is more than a reading; it's practically a class on esoteric thought. Fascinating stuff!

* First scene of Lightbreaker, what was the inspiration? Teppo says: "It was . . . kinda cool." First scene was the only thing saved from first draft. [NOTE: Alas, Twitter doesn't really afford the means to capture the three minute off-the-cuff grad school style breakdown I did of the first scene and why it was the way it was; but at the same time, I can admit that I made it all up on the spot. Also, I should note that the VERY first scene--with the deer--isn't actually in the first draft. The early version references the deer, but it starts as he boards the ferry; I hadn't remembered this until I was reading it aloud yesterday.]

* Beautiful image in the first scene of Lightbreaker: a deer glowing with human soul energy in the dark of night. Magic afoot!

* Book is set in the Seattle; Teppo invokes the mystery of the woods, the mundane experience of a ferry ride with an acute perception.

* Teppo says: "What's the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance? Paranormal romance has happy endings; urban fantasy really doesn't." [NOTE: I'm not the first to say this.]

* Teppo recommends Mark Henry's series about Amanda Feral, a zombie, in the hip, happening capital of the undead, Seattle.

* Q: What makes a story horror? A: An awareness of dread. [NOTE: The longer version of is a rambling discussion about the difference between Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Thing Are and what we thought the Welsh translation's title was: In The Land Of Wild Things. (Don't ask; that's an even longer digression.) The point is that the Welsh title is a fantasy title, in the sense that it is the story of a magical land over there; Sendak's original is a horror story, because you don't know where the Wild Things are, and they're probably right here.]

* And then, we launch into discussion of The Mongoliad. I do a demo. We talk about how it is going to drop on all the major mobile platforms. [NOTE: I explicitly point out that it will also be available via the web, but as that's not nearly as exciting as the mobile devices, it's not been a major talking point in the press releases so far.]

* I detour into a discussion of the evolution of publishing, complete w/drawing of the internet as a cloud--not to scale. Somewhere in there I posit that, in five years, the mass market paperback is going to be an e-book.

* Teppo defines the distribution mechanism for The Mongoliad. PULP. Personal Ubiquitous Literature Platform.

* Q: What is The Mongoliad about? A: In 1241 the Mongols raided Europe; in 1242, they went back. The story tells the secret history of why.

* The Mongoliad will be told as a weekly serial online by a group of authors including Teppo, Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland, and others. Contributors to Mongoliad may be musicians, artists--there are more ways to tell a story than only writing.


* Q: If I invest in a Mongoliad subscription I want to know it has a beginning middle & end. Will it? A: Yes. We want that. But. . . it will have seasons, like a TV show, and shorelines will intertwine.

* Discussion about piracy, and Subutai's solution: build a interactive, entertaining site with low overhead to join, and people will do what is easier. Piracy may increase readership; it definitely improves sales. The trick is to make it effortless to participate honestly.



The How Book Publishing Works diagram. Notice the Internet cloud down there in the lower left, along with the top three distractions that plague a writer ("snacks," "cat vacuuming," and "WoW"). Later, I redraft it for the Internet Age and how it is relevant to the Mongoliad model.



The map of Europe. On the far right (you can see the edge of it) is another cloud that is the Mongol horde, not the Internet. Though, at first glance, you could mistake one for the other.

Finally, there were some questions about the status of The Codex Of Souls, and I re-iterated that I had scoped ten books, Night Shade had bought (and published) two, and things were in wait and see mode. They're still in wait and see mode, but I can tell you that the wait and see hold-up is on MY END now. Night Shade has re-expressed their interest in more books, and I'm looking at my schedule and giving it some honest thought.
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Upcoming Reading / Discussion [11 Jun 2010|10:14am]
The gang at Foolscap have tapped me to start off their summer reading series. Saturday, June 26th from 2:00pm - 5:00pm at the Shoreline Library.

Three hours, gang. I'll read something from the CODEX books (as that's ostensibly why we're there), talk about some of the world-building (read geek out about the occult), and I'm sure someone will start a conversation about The Mongoliad, which I'll indulge as best I can.

As it's taking place at a library, there won't be books for sale, but I'm happy to sign anything you bring.

On the Foolscap Convention page, there's a discussion topic if you want to preload any topic you'd like me to discuss. Otherwise, hopefully I'll see some of you there.
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Subutai in SF [08 Jun 2010|09:41am]
There's a regular geek-up in San Francisco called Dorkbot, and a couple of the SF-based Subutai officers will be at this week's meeting on Wednesday (Facebook event listing). They'll demo The Mongoliad and engage in a little Q & A. For those of you not in SF, we've put up a YouTube video of Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear doing the talking head routine about the historical backdrop against which The Mongoliad plays out.

Historical Scope video

For those of you who've gone to the Mongoliad website, I'm sure you've noticed the header of "Foreworld." In the YouTube video, Neal--briefly--hints at why such a header exists.
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The First Day [07 Jun 2010|04:43pm]
Today was my first day of being a full-time writer, and frankly, it was rather mundane. Started clearing my desk and making it a useful workspace. At which point, I realized that all the books on the south side of the room were books I didn't need that close at hand, and all the books on the north side and west side were the active projects, and so a massive re-organization began. Right now, it's chaos in here, and I have orange sticky notes on the shelves noting where certain categories are going be filed.

Did the dishes, watched the maintenance guys from Sears come by and service all of our appliances, caught a few episodes of The Venture Bros, and listened to some music. And a podcast (Thelema Now! with William Kiesel, talking about esoteric books, Ouroboros Press, and the Esoteric Book Conference).

Speaking of music, today's playlist was J. G. Thirlwell's incidental music for the Venture Bros, Delerium's Syrophenikan, Caul's Kairos, and Gitane Demone's Lullabies for a Troubled World. One of the nice things about working here is that the mood isn't always Thrash and Noise (aka The White Noise That Drowns Out The Ambient Noise Of The Train).

Caul's Kairos is a really nice surprise. In the past, Caul has been very ambient--very, very ambient--and this record introduces rhythms and beats. Almost downtempo in their slinkiness. The Caul website has an imbedded player where you can hear the whole record.
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New Projects [20 May 2010|04:59pm]
I gave notice at my day job today. Fourteen years I've been there. Wrapping it up in the next two weeks to go be a writer full-time. I know. All of a sudden, isn't it? Well, it's been a long process of working in the wee hours of the day and night, but I've finally reached a point where I can't do everything all the time. I have reached the point of needing to simply.

Less tech work. More writing.

That seems pretty simple.

Of course, it get complicated when Neal Stephenson twitters today that "Our first demo of the new novel I am writing with Greg Bear, Nicole Galland, Mark Teppo, and others" will be happening next week in San Francisco (handy link to announcement).

This is the Sekrit Project. Called The Mongoliad, it's well, go look. I probably won't be here for a bit when you get back. Things to do and all.
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Interview at Fantasy Magazine [05 Mar 2010|01:16pm]
This rush of content just makes it LOOK like I'm taking over the world.

Fantasy Magazine: Mark Teppo, of Men and Magick

"I’ve attempted to map most of the 'spells' [in LIGHTBREAKER], if you will, to existing practices, but as the foundation of the system is the rigorous belief that Will powers intent and expression, the resulting system becomes fairly organic. It is fantastic, let’s be honest about that, and I don’t necessarily believe that these sorts of abilities and actions are possible, but the underlying philosophy is one that I can get behind. I’ve been referencing this book as 'occult,' and the connotations of that word lend credence to the fantastic elements within the story, but more properly–from a standpoint of the things the writer wants his audience to mull over after all the sound and fury has passed–this is a 'gnostic' novel. And so, yes, it’s all about faith and knowledge, isn’t it?"

Next week, I'll vanish again.
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Guest Posts and Heartland Review [04 Mar 2010|02:15pm]
Two posts at Amazon's Omnivoracious, offering some background on the CODEX books.

On the Nature of Magick

"Like I said, the definition is a bit slippery, and it might be a bit much to attribute to the writing of a pulpy occult noir book the grandiose intent of creating magick, but that's part of what inspired the Codex of Souls. Not so much making magick, but rediscovering the possibility of it. Instead of holding such strangeness at arm's length and pretending that we're an entirely rational species, I wanted to embrace our esoteric history."

On the Nature of Monsters

"The little mantra I hummed to myself while I was writing was: 'Men and Mantras/Shotguns and Sigils.' I was going to write an urban fantasy book without vampires, lycanthropes, zombies, angels, or demons."

Also, Mad Hatter's review of HEARTLAND.

"The Codex of Souls is without a doubt one of the most original Urban Fantasy series going right now. It has stepped away from the pack and embraced a different type of magic and a very different sensibility worth checking out."
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Lightbreaker makes 2009 Reading List, and Weirdest Book Question [04 Feb 2010|11:11am]
Mad Hatter Review asks a dozen writers about the weirdest book they've ever read. I was one of the twelve, and you can find that list here.

LIGHTBREAKER makes Locus Magazine's 2009 Recommended Reading list. Under the First Novel category, where I share the joy with fellow Night Shade author Paolo Bacigalupi (whose The Windup Girl is garnering more than a little praise; go, Paolo!).
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A Return to Blogging [02 Feb 2010|10:24am]


DARKLINE.COM is live. Somewhat. I'm still tweaking the design here and there (a 1px issue on Firefox on the PC is bugging me), and the link list is somewhat sparse, but overall, I'm done fiddling and we might as well get started.

I've blogged off and on over the years, first on my own site and then as part of the transmit section at OPi8.com (and even now as part of the Farrago's F. M. I. team). But I got busy, and this was one of the things which fell by the wayside. I decided it was time to get back on the horse, and I've finally found a identity (a sense of purpose, if you will) that suits a domain I've had for a long time.

Which is to say, if you want to find me, I'll be over there.
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HEARTLAND is out. [19 Jan 2010|10:18am]


The brick and mortar stores will be putting HEARTLAND, my second book, on the shelves as soon as they get it, which should be this week or next. Amazon is shipping already, and I hear a few folks have received copies. (The guy sitting across from me on the train this morning is reading a copy, but then he came to the house and prostrated himself on the lawn for a few hours until I gave him a copy.) So it looks like the second book is on its way. Huzzah!

Over at John Scalzi's Whatever, I'm doing the The Big Idea today, which is a brief outline of the central conceit behind the book series. Drop by and join the conversation.

The soundtrack for HEARTLAND has been posted at the Codex of Souls website.

There will be a release party on February 5th at D & W Wine Cellars, if you're local. The wine selection will be from the Markham Vineyard (I know; bonus that they're actually good wines). I'll probably do a reading, and then there will be suitable revelry. If that's the wrong end of the Puget Sound for you, I'll be at the Lake Forest Park location of Third Place Books on March 16th @7pm to do a reading as well.

And that's the HEARTLAND news. Oh, yes, there's this little tidbit. If you are the type who doesn't read the excerpt in the back of books, you might want to go back and look at the one in LIGHTBREAKER. The opening in HEARTLAND picks up a day after this conversation between Markham and the Hierarch. I know we call it an excerpt, but really, it's a bridge.

The next two are called ANGEL TONGUE and KARMA KISS. They'll be out later. :)
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Diet Soap Podcast is out [29 Oct 2009|05:53am]
We've all survived our dance with the Piglicker Flue over here. This was not the year to partake of the Kiss a Pig For Charity booth at the Country Fair, just sayin'. All we have to show for it is stronger immune systems, one rather mundane (in the end) visit to the ER, and lots of conversations where we sound like old Soviet women who have worked for decades in the industrial factories. Such lovely party gifts. Thanks, swine flu; don't bother stopping by next year.

I'm packing lunches and a suitcase this morning, so all I've got is a picture and a podcast.

Mark Henry lists Lightbreaker in his weekly 'Shopping List for People Who Don't Suck', where it is #3 or #4 (depending on how you read his list). He also mentions that it is now in 'wide release,' which is code for saying that you can (finally) get it at Barnes & Noble. If our local stores are an indicator, they've brought in more than a handful for the shelves, so if you haven't picked up a copy of the book yet (or need a second one to giveaway, 'sallI'msayin'), show B & N a little love for playing catch-up.

Also, Doug Lain over at Diet Soap has posted their latest podcast, which includes a conversation with me on Lightbreaker and other occult topics (link). Go and listen to me mispronounce Aleister Crowley's name and try to dodge the tough religious questions. I do these sorts of gaffs to appear as a dilettante, mind you. It worked for Lamont Cranston and Bruce Wayne; and remember, if you claim to a Rosicrucian, you probably aren't. It's the ones who appear like idiots that you have to watch out for.

For those who are going to WFC, I'll see you in the bar in a few hours.
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World Fantasy Convention Schedule [26 Oct 2009|10:53am]
Breaking radio silence to update everyone on my World Fantasy Schedule this coming weekend. In case someone has trouble finding me.

FRI 8:30 PM >> Regency Ballroom >> Group Autographing
I'll probably drop by here for an hour or so. Until I need a drink more than I need to watch people read my name and get that funny look of "who is he?"

FRI LATER >> Night Shade Party
No idea where. No idea when it starts. No idea how long it runs. All I know is that I'll be having a couple of these:



There's other homebrew as well for the non-IPA fans in the room. For the record, I had nothing to do with this. I believe the beer is all courtesy of Bizarro Central.

SAT 4:00 PM >> Crystal Room >> The End of the World
I'm on a panel with Lisa Mannetti, Loren Rhoads, John Shirley, and F. Paul Wilson where we'll be talking about Horror--both upper and lower case--as it applies to the end of the world (or not, as the case may be).

MON 6:30 PM >> BORDERLAND BOOKS (in SF) >> Group Signing
Monday, I'll be up in SF, taking part of the Borderland Books event, along with Paolo Bacigalupi, Ellen Datlow, Nina Kriki Hoffman, Cecelia Holland, Mary Robinette Kowal, Laird Barron, Marie Brennan, Lynn Ceasar, Nancy Etchemendy, Cody Goodfellow, Elaine Isaak, Nick Mamatas, Diana Paxson, Tony Richards, Michael Shea, John Skipp, and others. Bunch of authors, packed in a room, armed with pens.
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And Now For Something Completely Different [09 Sep 2009|07:12am]
Dinner at Alinea tonight. And then four days of hanging out with my sword brothers. It's sort of like ninja camp, but with, you know, better dining.
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Interviews, Reviews, and the Long Glide (planning thereof) [03 Sep 2009|01:24pm]
Firstly, Michael at the Mad Hatter's Bookshelf has posted the interview he did with me about Lightbreaker and other sundry things (including a reveal about my secret food loathings and the two-line pitch of the new book project). He was quick on the asking of questions and so has ended up with some squeaky little tidbits that look a lot like . . . exclusives. So, click on over and give it a read. Show him that you care.

Secondly, Tim Pratt was kind enough to come out of a reviewing nap and do up a few hundred words about Lightbreaker for this month's Locus, the industry's trade magazine. For which I am very grateful and very pleased. Typically, their reviews are print-only (my first!) and so I'll have to excerpt it here for you.
"Though the piling-up of occult details does make this world's magical system seem intricate and believable, Markham's ruminations and visions can go on too long, and aren't nearly as much fun as the various set pieces involving electrified iron maidens, booksellers transformed into Milton-quoting oracles, brutal magical duels, shambling soulless zombie hordes, and scene of truly impressive magical devastation. Still, Teppo's preoccupation with profound questions of human purpose and potential make this deeper and more thought-provoking than your average urban fantasy."

Thank you, sir. I do hear you on the obsessive detailing of occult marginalia. It may be a fatal character flaw on my part. We'll see.

And, speaking of that character flaw, I've been thinking more about the phrase I mention in the Mad Hatter interview: the "occulture critic" (I got it from Erik Davis, who is a righteous believer in the truly fantastic). Twitter seems as good a place as any to try out some new things, so I'm going to try to be more active on the #amtarot and #pmtarot hash tags. Twice a day, thetarotlady draws a card. Those of us following offer interpretations. So, if you're curious, tag the tags and watch the fun.
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Reading, Review, and Rest [25 Aug 2009|08:28am]
A reminder that I'm reading at Third Place Books (the Lake Forest Park store) tomorrow evening at 7pm for those in the Seattle area.

The Mad Hatter's Bookshelf reviews Lightbreaker, and gives me 8 out of 10 hats. He's also asked for an interview and I send back the questions yesterday so that should be posted in a week or so.

And, finally, I also sent back the CEM of Heartland last night. So, baring any final discussion of edits, book 2 is done. Amazon thinks it is back-ordered already, but, really, publication date is Feb 2010.

Now, I rest. For a day or so, and then it's on to the next project.
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Reading Reminder [17 Aug 2009|02:01pm]
Just an early reminder that I'll be reading next week at Third Place Books (the Lake Forest Park store) next Wednesday at 7.00pm. Depending on whether or not they put me out in front of all the random kids wandering around, I may even read something from the sekrit projekt, in addition to the normal Monkey Juggling Starfish routine.

Third Place Books
17171 Bothell Way NE
Lake Forest Park, WA 98155
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Mamet and Disney [12 Aug 2009|01:50pm]
Variety reports that David Mamet is to write and direct a new film version of The Diary of Anne Frank. For Disney, no less. The article says: "Mamet brings his own original take on the material that could re-frame the story as a young girl’s rite of passage."

I mean this with no disrespect to Mamet, whose work I really admire for its, well, density and brutality of language, but I have to wonder who is in for more of a surprise: Disney, for thinking that Mamet is going to "re-frame the story as a young girl’s rite of passage" in a way that will not emotionally scar your typical Disney audience; or the audience, for thinking this'll be a happy Disneyified version of Anne's life.

Mamet's last film, Redbelt, is a subtle piece of work that gels more and more the longer it sits in your brain. Not a happy ending, necessarily, but one that resonates quite solidly. Very much a writer's movie.

Payday [11 Aug 2009|06:15pm]
The Check That Is In The Mail? I got it today. Along with a note from my agent that says (and I'm going to quote him because it speaks very highly of Scribe's perseverance): "One of the original state goals of Scribe when we first started out was: find that one guy who wrote that cool ass book and get it published. That 'one guy' was of course you, and the 'cool ass book' was Souls of the Living."

For those who haven't heard the story, Kris first read Souls when it came across his desk during his intern days at [redacted so not to embarrass a certain New York publishing house that missed their chance early on]. He pushed for it then, and wasn't able to convince his people to move on the book. He went off and started Scribe, TRACKED me down (and this was several years later when I had gone off to do other things, figuring the book would never sell), and let me do a complete from-scratch rewrite of the book (that he thought was sellable AS IT WAS).

The book is now published, and you all know it as Lightbreaker. The first outline of the book was written around the end of March, 1995. The first draft was written in a 60 day binge shortly thereafter. Fourteen years later, it is on the shelves.

It is there because Kristopher O'Higgins never gave up. Thank you, sir.
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Updates All Around [10 Aug 2009|11:10am]
I have been remiss in updating so I'll chunk out a bullet list and we'll move on from there.

(*) Lightbreaker is in stores (mostly; B & N appears to have gotten caught short, but they're hanging their heads and waiting for their orders to disperse to the stores). Heartland is moving through the editorial process and is on track for Feb 2010 release. Huzzah!

(*) Reviews of Lightbreaker are starting to trickle in. I'm updating the all you need to know page at the CODEX site with the good ones. The Publisher's Weekly review, which uses the phrases "pretentious passages of overblown monologue" and "beats metaphors into the ground" to otherwise distract from things like "dramatic premise" and "strong characters," is, well, a review from Publisher's Weekly. They don't hotlink to individual reviews, so you'll have scroll down the page to find out how these words are all strung together.

Monsters of Filmland, on the other hand, say: "Lightbreaker is the best book about magic that I have read since Peter Straub’s Shadowland. This book is simply amazing." I'll take that one, thank you very much.

(*) Book 3 is called ANGEL TONGUE (as you may have noticed from the inside page of Lightbreaker. It brings Markham back to the States after his trip to Paris and deals with floating heads, Enochian transmission stations, crop circles, and apocalyptic faith healers. It'll also introduce a couple of re-occuring characters as we get this series more underway. (And, yes, I know the title to Book 4, but I'm keeping it quiet for a while yet.)

(*) Upcoming Appearances. For those in the Pacific Northwest area, there are two appearances scheduled for the next months. I'll, of course, brow beat everyone about them as they get closer, but for those who wish to mark their calendars now: August 26th, 7.00pm @ Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park; and September 18th, 6.00pm @ Barnes & Noble in Tukwila.

(*) Also, the Esoteric Book Conference, Sept 19 & 20. My wallet is crying already. I'll be geeking out heavily.

(*) Oh, and my pal, John Klima, won a Hugo last night for Best Fanzine. Well, technically Electric Velocipede won, but as the magazine has been the result of his blood, sweat, and angst for the last eight years, I think he can call it "his." Hey, John, I guess you can update the header bar of your EV Blog now. That's "Hugo Award winning and World Fantasy Award nominated."
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