Monday, May 31, 2010

The Phoenix Recap

Wow! What a great trip Out West. While it was the Phoenix Comicon that had me in Arizona, the fact that it was my anniversary with my beloved, we made it a trip to see something we'd always wanted to see; the Grand Canyon. Not kidding about the "Grand" part...

Those of you who read my series know that "Phoenix" is a meaningful word to me. And so was the city. Though it should be noted that should the disturbingly inhuman proposed immigration laws with misleading benign numbers (yes, that would be SB 1070) go into effect, that will decide whether I feel comfortable returning to the state.
But the Phoenix Comicon, however, was a fantabulous place where I made new friends, talked on some great panels, sold a lot of books, met some famous people, and of course... donned the regalia. (Yes, Marcos did too. )
I also discovered that out west, not only can I wear Victoriana, but my shadow becomes a bear. (See photo and shadow).

My author spotlight went very well, considering that I was up against Wil Weaton's Awesome Hour and next door to the Zombie Brain Eating contest. I held my own. But only thanks to my clothing, to this fabulous little white hat, and to Yoda and The Force.

I adored geeking out and going all fangirl on the Doctor Who panel, and meeting these fabulous folks... I mean, seriously, how great is a Dalek and a Tardis dress? So full of WIN.
I loved meeting the lovely, talented, fun and wise (and fellow Tennant lover) NYT bestseller Aprilynne Pike author of the fabulous WINGS series, authors Kris Neri, the incredible blow-my-mind talented James Owen (OMG Imaginarium Geographica, OMG).

And then there was... THE John Scalzi. Yes, the one and only. You can see what Sam has to say about him too... Speaking of THE Scalzi and his bacon scarf that someone at the con knitted for him, (THAT is commitment, folks)... What on earth is THIS, you might ask? Good question. Well, its Wil Wheaton, Scalzi as an Orc and the Unipegkit... I dunno, there's a contest for charity involved. Explained here.

And... What can I say? I like a man in black.

Another fave moment? When Rianna from Imagifreakination at the table across from my signing table walks over and gives me this picture she made of me. HOW AWESOME IS THIS?! Now everyone go and get stuff from her. She's amazing. Seriously. Go now.

And BECAUSE we have established that my sweetheart is a great sport and that I dress him up as Alexi, and BECAUSE the Ghostbuster car was here... THIS HAPPENED:
The only thing missing is CGI blue phoenix fire. I'll work on that.

*string quartet begins a very famous theme song* "There is something odd in the old East End... Who shall you call upon? The Guard!"
Thanks to Linda who was the reason I came, to Lee for so kindly scheduling me, to Mysterious Galaxy for selling my books and thank you everyone at Phoenix Comicon who made it an amazing week. And thank you, Grand Canyon, for being Grand.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Leanna's Phoenix ComicCon Schedule

Hey friends!

I'm about ready to begin my adventures at Phoenix Comicon!
Attendees: Be sure to come to my Author Spotlight where there will be chance to win free books courtesy of Dorchester Publishing!

Here's my schedule:

Friday 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM 153

Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Mashups, and more! A look at the hottest subgenres in fantastic fiction and how they are different from classic science fiction and fantasy. What's worth reading and why have they gotten so popular?

Friday 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM 152

Spotlight on Leanna Renee Hieber: Join writer Leanna Renee Hieber for a talk on her Strangely Beautiful saga including her new book The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker. The actress and award winning author will read brief scenes from her books and participate in a Q and A. (Plus book giveaway!)

Saturday 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM 152

Writing for the Young Adult Market: What makes a story Young Adult? Our panelists discuss writing for the young adult market, how they got started, and their work in that field.

Saturday 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM 152

Beyond The Vampire and Werewolf: Tired of nothing but vampires or werewolves in your fantasy fiction? Our panelists discuss how they make use of other supernatural beings and mythological creatures in their work.

Saturday 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM 151

Doctor Who & Torchwood: We've got a new Doctor, the return of Torchwood in the works (including a possible FOX series) and Who knows what else. Our panelists discuss the current state of the Whoniverse and speculate on what's to come.

Sunday 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM 152

Sci-Fi Social Media: Is your favorite author a Facebook friend? We look at how Sci-Fi notables are using social media tools - Twitter, podcasting, blogging, Facebook, Myspace, etc. - to build fan connections and communities around themselves and their works. "

Sunday 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM 155

You've sold your first novel, now what?

Be sure to check out the convention online and follow them on Twitter!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Midwinter Fantasy

September 28th, 2010

"A Christmas Carroll" : (Strangely Beautiful #2.5)
Headmistress Rebecca Thompson and Vicar Michael Carroll share in a ghostly, most Dickensian experience, one to warm the coldest of hearts in the darkest night of the year. Join the Headmistress, Vicar Carroll, Professor and Mrs. Rychman, the whole cast and crew of The Guard, plus a few familiar ghostly agents of divine intervention in, "A Christmas Carroll" featured in Dorchester's A Midwinter Fantasy anthology. I'm so excited. Isn't the cover beautiful?

Darkly Luminous love across the interwebs!
* Lovely words from bestselling author Alethea Kontis, reviewing for Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show !
* Thanks to The Book Faery who has awarded both The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker AND The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker the Faerie of Honor! I am thrilled to be a reigning Fey champion here, what an honour indeed!
* And WOW what an in-depth, fabulous review of Darkly Luminous from Christine at PopSyndicate!
As soon as A Midwinter Fantasy goes on pre-order I'm running a contest for a Doubleday hardcover edition of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, so stay tuned!
Light the Darkness!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Steampunk World's Fair

There was no single 'best moment' of the Steampunk World's Fair, where I was in attendance as a Guest Author, but rather a host of fabulous moments woven together that made one blast of a whole. (Now to be clear to the purists in the house, my books are not technically Steampunk as I employ no gadgetry but paranormal fantasy. But since I'm in the Gaslight Gothic / Victorian camp and rather taken with the year 1888, I'm kindly adopted in.) But what is Leanna's favourite part of all Fairs and Cons? Dressing up, of course!

My dear friend and fellow author Mary Rogers and I set off on the wilds of NJ Transit for Piscataway. You know its time to get the party started when about half an hour after we sat down in the cafe to await our room, steampunk Bobofet arrives. Mary took over the Pendragon suite by looking fabulous in an aviator jacket - none of us were letting her walk away without the entire outfit.

Huge thanks to the inimitable Stephen Segal who contacted me to be a part of the Library of Lost Literature sponsored by Quirk Books and Weird Tales, and held, beautifully enough, in a little library. I read from The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, second in the Strangely Beautiful series, prime-time on Friday night, attended by a most fabulously dressed contigency. (Thank you to my dear Lady Cordelia for this photo!) Stephen brought in amazing talent and Mary and I had the pleasure of attending many readings, throughout the weekend, all of which fascinated me. And after Ben Winters' read, I truly cannot wait for Android Karenina. Clever, fun and intriguing. Digression: Stephen also impressively guessed my favourite Doctor Who episode. (I am a legacy fan, the Baker years as shown on PBS were formative, thus Doctor Who counts as my longest running obsession.) But then again... I'm never as mysterious as I'd like to think I am. Is it obvious my favourite Doctor Who epsiode would be the one with vampires where Romana gets mesmerized, kidnapped, bitten by a bat while laid on a bier dressed in a long white Gothic-novel-esque robe as food for the big bad vampire? Okay, so maybe that's obvious. Still, I was very impressed that without missing a beat Stephen declared "State of Decay!" (File that one away for Obscure Leanna Trivia). And I went Squee. Come see me as Romana along with Stephen in mid-regeneration, The Princess Alethea as a yet-unnamed-companion-of-her-choice, and even The Master himself at DragonCon this year. I just found a little straw hat today at Target. So Romana's schoolgirl costume with the red tie it is. End of Digression: Back to the fair.

There was a Queen of Steam drag show, and there was what was purported to be and what I believe started out as a Penny-Dreadful poker game to raise money for the out-flooded Outlanders but devolved into eating raw potatoes and other such amusements. I somehow returned home with a potato amidst my belongings.

There was even homemade absinthe in a transformed hotel suite (Oh-mi-goodness amazing) prepared by the fabulous Von Hedwigs of The Steampunk Family, who are without a doubt the most consummate and charming hosts ever in the history of host-dom. See here the Von Hedwigs and the stunning acoutrements of their lovingly crafted absinthe.

Emilie P. Bush kindly asked me to be on a panel dealing with women and women's roles in our respective work. Her Chenda and the Airship Brofman is a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award! Huzzah!

And one of my favourite aspects of the Fair? The panels on multiculturalism and "Beyond Victoriana" run by bloggers Ay-Leen of Beyond Victoriana and Jha of Silver Goggles. These panels, while only allowed time to scratch the surface of issues one really needs a lifetime degree of digesting, were laid out with beautiful ground-work, simple rules of respect and profound intellectual fodder. It made me so very excited to be a part of the "Retro-Futurist" community - a word I've taken from the wonderful TempleCon I attended earlier this year, a community that not only values cosplay and fantastic invention, but in making the world a place where everyone has a voice and can be valued, provided there is respect, sharing and understanding. If historical fiction, fabulous costuming, art, culture and the past and present crossroads of the world interests you, be sure to follow Beyond Victoriana and Silver Goggles. Amazing resources, fabulous women, who, like Steampunk, are happening now. The weekend afforded me the opportunity to show my enthusiasm for clothing, issues, literature, irrepressible ideas, new and diverse voices, the aesthetic of Steampunk and the chance to reaffirm why I write historical novels with my own paranormal twist; my Gaslight Gothic Fantasies. I was reminded by those I met this weekend that these are my people. People who are not afraid to wear fabulous hats and reinvent the world.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To Salem, With Love

So this weekend saw my sweetheart and me attending the Danvers Literary Festival in Danvers, MA at the gorgeous Peabody Institute Library as a Fantasy panelist along with these two lovely and talented ladies, Margaret Ronald (below) and N.K. Jemisin (above me). What a great panel and what a great day of talent! Thanks to Michelle (who fate directed me towards because of her blog, Tempting Persephone) for setting up such a lovely day at this lovely venue! With a hot-off-the-press book in my hand, I was there talking about The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker and fielding questions about the Strangely Beautiful series, (see me looking like I'm talking about something super important?) on craft, process, world-building and, of course, chatting a bit about the possibility of the Strangely Beautiful musical and what will happen next. The crowd was, as I hoped, fiercely intelligent but warmly friendly, our moderator was fabulous and it was such a delight.


I couldn’t be so close to Salem and not visit Salem. Truly, it would be criminal. Welcome to Salem, MA, land of the Puritans. Where this cheery guy here, Roger Conant, The First Settler of Salem in 1626 said: "Nope, I'm not going any further, screw you. Y'all can go elsewhere, I'm staying put." And Salem was born. Okay. Here's what he actually said (quoth the fancy plaque): “I was a means through grace assisting me to stop the flight of those few that then were here with me and that by my utter denial to go away with them who would have gone either for England or mostly for Virginia.” Them's plaque-makin' words right there, I tell ya. The sculpture makes him seem far more dynamic than his quotes.

So after the Literary events my beloved and I were dropped at the gorgeous Hawthorne Hotel - named for that beloved Salem son and famous author who I'll speak more of later, and set off exploring. To be very clear, I’m not interested in the sensationalism or the marketing of/obsession with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, or identifying Salem only with that unfortunate few months in our nation's history, despite the fact that everywhere you look in Salem they've had to embrace it, from witches on broomstick icons on hair salons, police cars, schools, to even a bronze Bewitched statue. What I am interested in is not a false and material iconography of witches but I'm interested in the history itself. Because those trials had nothing to do with witchcraft and everything about politics, land, money, gender, power and the exercising of it. And, of course, what I am interested in is the ghosts. What’s as important to me as the knowledge of the history of a place is the energy I feel in it walking the land, streets and the buildings and meeting the people. After admiring our lodging for a bit, we of course, booked a Ghost Tour.

We looked for a ghost tour that focused on the historical aspects, not the hype. I believe in ghosts. I don’t need to be convinced, spooked, titillated or given a big production. What I appreciated about our awesome guide Tahra is how knowledgeable she was while knowing how to engage her audience and to make a tour fun as well as informative, without over-blowing the stories. A good ghost story needs no embellishment, its just a tale well told. The picture here is of the admittedly, totally creepy former Salem jail. (Now, of course, this is being turned into Condos. Have fun with those ghosts of the executed, folks!) If you go to Salem, find Tahra, she was great. Visit Salem Historical Tours. As a former tour guide myself, I’m telling you, take her tour. (And then, of course, tip her, she earns it and tour guides work hard). And let me tell you, Salem has some good ghost stories. So good I even have one of my own to tell. Seriously. Yes, for real. But more of that in a minute. Let me tell you about our lovely, sunny-if-not-quite-cold Sunday about Salem.

A primary mission in Salem was to pay homage to a wonderful writer, a pioneer of the Gothic novel and an influence of mine: Nathaniel Hawthorne. I was particularly charmed by our ghost tour guide Tahra showing us the “Grimshawe House” beside the town cemetery where he took down names for characters and where he began courting his future wife who lived in that house that would be immortalized, Sophia. (Seriously, how much do I love the graveyard courtship?) I visited the home where Hawthorne was born, learned about the room where he did much of his early writing, a place he called “the castle dismal” on Herbert Street, saw and explored the House of the Seven Gables (a side of which is pictured here) which he immortalized in his novel of that name, and generally soaked up as much as I could, gaining a new appreciation of a man I’d admired since high school when I read (and loved) The Scarlet Letter.

I did want to visit the Salem Witch Memorial that commemorates that time of horror and hysteria, politics, fabrications, human rights violations and all manner of wrongs against the innocent. Each name of the hanged victims (with the exception of Giles Corey who was pressed to his death beneath stones) are marked chronologically from Bridget Bishop in June of 1692 into September of that year, each victim marked on a separate bench. I was touched that on Mother's Day, many of the memorials had these little flowers bestowed upon them. The memorial is a sobering sight. The stone plaza is next to that town cemetery where Hawthorne courted Sophia and brainstormed ideas for his novels, and where I too took down some amazing, historic names for possible use in my fiction. I am nothing if not influenced by the actions of my predecessors. *s*

All right. So I suppose I owe you, dear reader, my ghost story. Now again, to be clear, I’m not interested in sensationalizing, especially since I write ghost stories and incorporate very famous ones into my Strangely Beautiful series - I take them seriously, but don't go overboard about them. I love hearing and telling ghost stories, I don’t necessarily need to see the ghosts to enjoy their tales and know they're out there somewhere. I’ve seen enough inexplicable things to be a believer, and so frankly I don’t find myself looking for paranormal experiences because I think that can be courting trouble if you encounter the wrong type of energy. I am of the opinion that if I’m meant to encounter something, I’m meant to. Looking too hard for things will only create falsehoods, tricks of the eye and wishful thinking. However Scandalous Women expert, award-winning blogger, author and dear friend Elizabeth K. Mahon did warn me the beautiful Hawthorne Hotel, built in 1925, was haunted, and my response, of course, was: “Cool!”

The haunting: 3am. Awoken in silence, groggy. Why I woke, I don’t know save that perhaps a shift in energy did so. I’ve always been a very light sleeper. The light within the room was pale and hazy from exterior street-lamps. I began to hear a noise. Faint, tinkling, a sparkling sound even. No footsteps, just the soft jingling, and it seemed to be in the hall. Like keys, I remember thinking. But there aren’t keys used for the rooms in the Hotel - there would have been when it was opened in the early 20th century - but now there are cards for the doors. And there was no room adjacent to us, should someone be jingling their keys, next door to us was the stairwell. As I was hearing this noise becoming more clear, there came a close and present scratch very near to me, a soft but distinct scrape directly above me, as if on the headboard, and the jingling stopped. I admit at that at that moment adrenaline kicked in, and my blood ran cold due to the proximity. Generally when I have seen or heard things, I’d prefer them to be a bit further away from me, to put a bit of distance between. These subtle goings on did not wake my beloved, and neither did I once silence again descended. I lay and contemplated it a bit, and wondered if I’d tell anyone. Then I thought; are you crazy, you write ghost stories, of course you should tell it!

As my darling Mulder would say, The Truth is Out There. And perhaps it might come and say hello. Perhaps some housekeeper or butler in the 1920s or 30s that likes to make his/her 3am rounds, passing through the doors those phantom keys seek to open. I totally recommend the Hawthorne, by the way, affordable and the staff were charming, the facilities lovely and its very conveniently located in the heart of Salem. The ghost (at least this friendly one, do be careful what you wish for as you cannot count on ghosts to all be benign) was just an extra perk.

T’was a lovely journey. Now on to the next: Next weekend? The Steampunk World’s Fair! If you’re in New Jersey, come visit my author Salon on Friday evening!

Don't forget to buy your copy of The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker and enter my contest! The more Shakespeare references you list, the more entries you get!

Happy Haunting!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Darkly Luminous Release and Book Tour!

If I were to list the entirety of everything that's happened in the past two weeks, I'd stare at the list, all my adrenaline would wear off and I'd collapse. But no rest for the wicked. Whee! I've Michael and Rebecca's edits to do, a musical to storyboard and Strangely Beautiful #3 to write! *sips strong tea* *rallies* *dances*

But before I disappear into deadline - I must discuss all the amazing things, people, costumes and events that happened in my busy time away back in the motherland of Ohio. I always love talking to schools, and doing so for my various alma maters in addition to local Lebanon school was a particuar highlight. I just love telling whoever will listen that if you want to write, keep writing. I met so many talented young people, everywhere I went, I was filled with joy and hope for all the awesome books and poems and work that they will produce in years to come.

Speaking of particular highlights, let's talk about my fave fan (and fellow writer) Hanna and her shirts: She made a "Team Alexi" shirt - shown here- that said on the back "Real Men See Ghosts." How much do I love this girl right here? So much.) Unfortunately I wasn't sure which camera to look into at this moment, sorry Hanna. Oh and I totally stole this from her fabulous blog.

As Hanna was every indication, the Darkly Luminous RELEASE DAY signing at my hometown B&N was amazing. Thanks to all my friends, family, close friends, brand-new friends, to friends I haven't seen since high-school, all who showed up at the West Chester Barnes & Noble and gave me so much time, love and support. What a blessing!
Then it was on to the RT Booklovers Convention in Columbus!

Panels, events, dances, booksignings... And plenty of chances for me to do my favourite thing... Dress up. This year I was on a paranormal panel talking about writing creatures and worlds other than Vamps and Weres (nothing against them, but gotta give the ghosts some love too), another about Fantasy, Romance and blending the genres. And yes, I did get to squee about the musical option rights and the possibility of Strangely Beautiful the musical, so that was pretty awesome. My fellow authors were very excited for me and that was a real blessing. I'm thrilled that the news has generated a lot of buzz and excitement in the community.

Another highlight: our fight scene workshop where I got to show a little of my sword-fighting skills from my years working as fight captain in shows and training with the SAFD. This was super-fun and was a much-talked about panel. (Thanks Barb Riley for this photo!)

Here's me and fellow Dorchester buddy Marie-Claude Borque at the Vampire Ball. It's become a tradition to get a great Marie-Claude RT photo - I love her Steampunkerie here and can't wait for her Ancient Whispers to come out! There was the gigantic book signing, where I sold out of all my books! (Good thing Mom and Dad had put a case of Darkly Luminous in the car!)

After the signing I shifted identities. I dashed off to transform my self to become... none other than my personal idol, Jane Austen. New York Times Bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries wrote the most adorable script for us to perform about what poor Jane might think about all these... adaptations of her novel. The skit went over dreamily, it was an absolute blast, and reminded me that I still love a good excuse to be an actress. :) My appearance as Jane then transitioned into Sabrina's Regency bingo showcasing Sabrina's new Hellions series, and Jane got to be a part of the fun. Also, Sabrina was so generous about allowing me to come out as my author self too, talk a moment about my books, and even give some away as prizes. I really admire Sabrina, she's a huge talent, so this was a real honour for me to be a part of her event and to feel that my performance, as well as my author-self, were so warmly welcomed. (Thanks Jill Fazio for this great photo!) Drink it in, kids, its the only time you're going to see me in sea foam green, that's for sure. :)

And to top it all off, Lady Jane's Salon went on the road! Delilah Marvelle, Linnea Sinclair and Sabrina Jeffries herself (I told you she's generous) donated their time and energies to what has been our popular NYC literary salon - in an on tour showcase! We heard from their books, the authors were kind enough to donate books and swag, we drank champagne to toast our genre and we raised $160 for PurrBabies no-kill feline rescue in Columbus! Thanks, generous RT attendees and to RT magazine for setting us up so beautifully! What a great note to end a great conference.

Then... Right back to Lady Jane's Salon back in NYC that very Monday - for The DARKLY LUMINOUS release party! I was very proud of my outfit - alas, the pictures on my camera didn't come out. (Thankfully author Kwana Minatee-Jackson had this I could plunder, I hope to find more). I was also very proud of reading with Christina Britton Conroy and Jeri Smith-Ready. (Jeri and I won Prism Awards the same year, and I'm a huge fan of her so this was a real treat and I'm in love with her new YA novel Shade). I read one of my favourite scenes from Darkly Luminous and our specialty cocktail was a pomegranate martini we called a Persephone. :) They were delicious, and now I am bound to the underworld.

Taking over the interwebz...

Check out my interview for the International Thriller Writers!

Darkly Luminous raves!

The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker is a Night Owl Romance Top Pick!

Strictly Reviews

The Book Girl

Babbling About Books and More

Janicu's Book Blog

Strangely Beautiful 5/5 love! - The Book Girl

Strangely Beautiful the musical:
- Smart Bitches Trashy Books gave a shout-out to the musical option rights! - Thanks Sarah!
- So did Dread Central! - Thanks Horror fans!

- Read the fabulous press release Dorchester sent out about the option sale...

Backstory: Want to know why Persephone's maiden name is Parker?

Find out the true story...

Light the Darkness!