Hey, everyone. I’m…

Hey, everyone. I'm sorry I didn't write yesterday (I got back from World Fantasy Sunday night), but I was just wiped, and spent most of the day recovering.

Lessee, where did we leave off? At our last meeting, our heroine was about to brave the wilds of sunny Monterey, to participate in a fantasy convention. (sound effect: da dum!) She met up with two hardy compatriots (Zed, introduced previously, and Mike v. W. (innocent bystander, or sinister man-about-town? you decide!)) and drove down the coast on the ever-popular Route 1. A few hours of sunlight on ocean waves, intense conversation about books they liked and disliked, craggy cliffs, and sleepiness combined to quite daze our heroine. However, she did manage to finish a children's book in the process, Lloyd Alexander's _The Jedera Adventure_ (and she *wished* that there'd been some indication on the books what order they were meant to be read in).

When the trio finally staggered into Monterey (after missing the exit and fumbling around a bit), the air was far chillier than expected (south, yes? You'd think it would be warmer than Oakland. But coastal! Didn't pack appropriately! Cold all weekend!), but they bravely parked the car, registered at the hotel and con, and ventured forth for dinner. Epsilon, a Greek restaurant on the 400 block of Tyler, is most highly recommended. Delicious, and reasonably priced for very good food.

Then a stroll back to the hotel, a bit of puttering around (the cruel security guard, his face harsh-visaged, barred them from the art show until morning!) and attendance at a Celtic/Tolkien music concert by _Avalon Rising_ wound up the day. A little lounging at the Doubletree bar (lounging at bars appears to be an integral part of con behavior, if you're a writer. obscure mating ritual? surreptitious information exchange? no one knows...) and then our heroine stumbled back to her room and collapsed in a stupor until morning.

Okay, if I do any more of that, I'll start *talking* like a melodrama. Enough. The rest of the con was pretty interesting (especially getting to talk to such favorite writers as Pat Murphy, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Sean Stewart and, briefly, Patricia McKillip. Did I forget anyone, Jed?), but really exhausting. The usual panels during the day and parties in the evening, but somehow far more exhausting than I usually find a con.

I think it must have been because this was such a writerly con -- everyone I met seemed to be either a publisher, editor or writer (if not all three), and so I think I felt that I was *on*, performing in a sense, the whole time. Trying to be my brightest, smartest, wittiest and most interesting self, if that makes sense. Exhausting. Jed came up Friday afternoon, and it was such a relief. We spent hours just hiding and talking to each other (no strangers!), and that definitely helped.

I talked up Clean Sheets a lot, my panel went well, my friends mobbed my reading (huzzah for friends!), someone bought one of my books, and I got some cool Christmas presents (and some stuff for myself, though I was *very* restrained about buying books). All in all, a success, and worth the price of admission.

Sunday, Jed and I went to the Monterey Aquarium before heading home. This, I swear, deserves an entry to itself, but I'm going to smoosh it in here because otherwise I might forget to describe it at all. This place is quite simply the best aquarium I've ever been to -- quite possibly one of the best museums I've been to. Intelligently laid out, pleasant to walk through, well-lighted to best showcase the little critters (and big ones) -- just terrific design all around.

And the contents! I could rave for hours about the sea otters (adorable, if obnoxious), the jellyfish (stunningly beautiful. Just incredible), the bat rays (Jed's favorite...you get to touch them because their stingers have been removed, soft and wet and silky), the giant sea turtle, the sunfish (one of the largest, most grotesque and compelling fish I've ever seen), the room of sardines swimming in a ring of light around the ceiling, the giant octopus (my personal, frightening, favorite) and much, much more. If you can possibly go, go. It's about 2.5 hours south of San Francisco -- well worth a day trip.

Not much else to report -- got some free books at the con, including the new Robin McKinley, _Rose Daughter_, another retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story (she did _Beauty_ twenty years ago, which I believe the Disney version was based off of -- they're very similar). I really liked this version, and I recommend it highly. Classic fairy tale, intricately woven. Also finished off another Lloyd Alexander, _The Illyrian Adventure_ (children's books are fast reads! :-). Have I talked to you about this series? They consist of:

  • The Illyrian Adventure
  • The El Dorado Adventure
  • The Jedera Adventure
  • The Philadelphia Adventure
  • The Drackenburg Adventure
I think in that order, but I'm not sure, 'cause I haven't read the last two. Some of you may know Lloyd Alexander from his Chronicles of Prydain, a wonderful series of high fantasy featuring Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper and the beautiful and clever Princess Eilonwy (along with Gurgi, the wizard Dalben, the retired soldier, Coll, and Gwydion, Prince of Don, to name a few).

This series is quite different, featuring Vesper Holly, a young Philadelphian of the late 1900s, orphaned at sixteen but left quite wealthy, who is bright, plucky, and virtuous. This female Indiana Jones travels with her uncle Brinnie (who narrates the stories in an inimitably Philadelphian manner, and with great regularity is quite dismayed by Vesper) on all sorts of adventures. Great reads, and a wonderful role model for young girls. Recommended! Hunt them out in your local used book stores.

Okay, that's it for now. Off to start dealing with Clean Sheets for the week! The new art got up (a bit late) -- check it out if you haven't already. And by tomorrow, there should be a new story, poem, how-to article, book review, and perhaps even an editorial. Have a good week, munchkins!

3:35 - Gosh, y'all are getting a lot from me today. Guess I missed you...

Well, I'm putting up this week's Clean Sheets. I'd like to ask y'all a favor -- I'm trying a new javascript trick. If you could stop by the site, using frames, and click on 'articles' in the left navbar and see if you get the new howto column, I'd appreciate it. Just let me know if it doesn't work. It works on my machine, but I want to be sure it works across platforms.

It's oddly sad taking pieces down. I just took down Heather's how-to column, and it felt weird, even though it'll be moving to archive as soon as I get that set up. Strange, huh? That one was I think the most popular piece last issue -- it got the most comments to me, anyway.

We've got two volunteers for the bookstore, Shmuel and Bob, and I suspect I'll be asking for a few more in the future. But for right now, this is great! We're really getting going on this! It amazes me sometimes, how well it has come together. I'll have to remember that tonight, when something is refusing to format and I'm tearing out my hair...(luckily I have a lot of it).

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