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We’re heading out on the road again: this time to RavenCon in Richmond, VA, which will be held at the Holiday Inn Koger Center, Friday, April 5 through Sunday, April 7. We just adore Raven for its wonderful mix of bookish, filk, and media programming and guests, and we’re really looking forward to seeing our old friends and meeting new ones. This year there will be several of us participating in programming: Barbara Friend Ish, Jonah Knight, and Leona Wisoker. And we’re bringing a terrific party for Leona’s fourth installment in her Children of the Desert series, Fires of the Desertfeaturing not only Leona, her beautiful new book, and dinner, but Jonah’s new Children of the Desert song. We’ll be selling Fires of the Desert and all our books from our table in the Dealers Room–and Fires of the Desert will be available for purchase at the launch as well.

Elsewhere around the con, we’ll be sitting on plenty of panels, doing concerts (well, Jonah will), and holding the fantastic meaty conversations for which RavenCon is rightly famous. You can catch us at these program events:

Leona:

Friday 3 PM–Writing Fight Scenes
Friday 10 PM–Fighting Writer’s Block
Saturday 9 AM–What’s New from Perseid Publishing
Saturday 6 PM–Launch Party for Fires of the Desert
Saturday 9 PM–Reading
Sunday 10 AM–Writing Up Close and Personal
Sunday 1 PM–Signing

Jonah:

Friday 7 PM–Performance at Opening Ceremonies
Saturday 12 PM–Concert
Saturday 2 PM–Signing
Saturday 3 PM–History of Podcasting
Saturday 6 PM–Launch Party for Fires of the Desert (Jonah will perform his new Children of the Desert song)
Saturday 8 PM–Geek Music
Sunday 10 AM–Cross-Media Collaboration
Sunday 1 PM–Concert

Barbara:

Friday 4 PM–Another Galactic Empire
Saturday 1 PM–Potions, Poisons and Plots: Inventive ways to kill a character 
Saturday 4 PM–Social Media for the Introvert
Saturday 6 PM–Launch Party for Fires of the Desert
Sunday 10 AM–Cross-Media Collaboration
Sunday 11 AM–Naming Names, Titling Titles

Come out and see us this weekend. You’ll be glad you did.

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Here’s an event you won’t want to miss: the official launch party for Book 4 of Leona Wisoker‘s acclaimed Children of the Desert series, Fires of the Desert. We’ll be celebrating Leona’s fourth book-day at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia, at 6 PM on Saturday, April 6. The party will take place in the con suite, and will include Leona and her fabulous new book, dinner, and other entertainments. Did we mention dinner?

Fires front cover RGB

Says Leona,

It’s in the con suite+it’s at 6 pm on a Saturday night=DINNER is MANDATORY. There will be veggie trays, homemade flatbread, cheeses, a shredded spicy beef dish in a crockpot, coffee, tea, pickled things, and cake. And other things. Depending on how crazy I get over the next week of con prep.

In addition, there will be an additional Moment of Awesome: our own Jonah Knight will be playing his new Children of the Desert song at the launch. This song is a HUGE SECRET. No one but Jonah has heard it. Nobody who’s currently breathing, anyway. This will be your chance.

You can keep up with late-breaking developments by joining the event on Facebook. And naturally we’ll be selling the book at our table in the Dealers Room all weekend, and copies will be available at the launch as well.

Can’t make it that night? Con-phobic? There will be a secondary event the following weekend. Details here.

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When I read Secrets of the Sands, the first book in Leona Wisoker’s Children of the Desert series, I had what seems to be the same reaction that everyone else did: I thought it was fantastic. At a number of conventions I would pitch the book to potential readers, occasionally in front of Leona. It almost became a game. I would praise her book and watch her blush. Good times.

In a matter of days at Ravencon, Fires of the Desert, the fourth book in the series, will be released. To help celebrate, I have written a song inspired by the books that I will be performing at the book launch party.

I have written a handful of songs based on other people’s books and webcomics. When I begin the creation of a derivative work, there are a few different ways to approach it. If the story is compact and full of closely knit plot points, I tend to write a plot heavy song. A song regaling the action, often speaking in first person as one of the main characters. If the book emphasizes mood, setting, or internal monologue, a story song is usually not very effective. Broad strokes to capture tone and imagery are usually the way to go.

After reading all four of Leona’s books (yes, I got advance copies!) I found myself facing an interesting challenge. These books have a large cast of vivid characters traveling over a sprawling world speaking in multiple dialects attempting to achieve multiple objectives. How do I approach condensing four thick fantasy novels into the three verses of a single 3-4 minute song?

The answer to How came by changing the question to Who. Who is the audience for this song? Once the song is recorded and added into my live set list, folks that hear it will likely need an introduction to the world, the tone, and the characters, requiring a sort of blending of my usual approaches. As the performer of the song Children of the Desert, I am more of a bard than in previous songs. Let me tell you a story and take you away. I think this is the way the characters in the story would encounter a song and the sort of song that it would be.

So far, I’ve kept the song a secret.  But that secret ends at Ravencon. Hope to see you there.

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And now for something completely different: Faerie Escape Atlanta. This is the most unique of the cons we haunt, and it’s right here in Atlanta. Not your ordinary con, Faerie Escape runs intimate and deep-thinking program that focuses on real dialogue between the attending pros and the people sitting on the other side of the table. Most of the time there is one discussion panel, one workshop-type session, and one game going on; but if you have an interest in things Fae, that’s by no means a slim program. This year’s edition is scheduled for this weekend, and we have some truly fun stuff planned. Here’s where you can find us:

Friday 7-10 PM: Gathering of the Summer Court

A meet-and-greet, with performances, stories, and a movie offering by Atlanta-can-claim-her-now writer/director Lisa Stock. It’s open to the public. Last time this was one of the highlights of the weekend. Several of us will be there.

Saturday 12-1:30 PM: Faerie Writing Workshop

Join author and editor Barbara Friend Ish in writing a Faerie-inspired short story. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll discuss Faerie character types and story elements and then develop our own Fae-inspired short stories. Workshop participants are invited to read from their stories at the Mercury Retrograde Salon Saturday evening, and finished stories will be included in the 2012 Faerie Escape Chapbook.

Saturday 5-7:30 PM: Mercury Retrograde Salon

Join Mercury Retrograde Press editors, staff, and friends for merriment and mythic munchies. The evening’s entertainments will include readings from the participants at the Faerie Writing Workshop, recitations from Strunk & White’s Elements of Style by Mercury Retrograde editor Anna Branscome, and a performance of the Big Books Rap* by A Dark Fable.

Barbara Friend Ish will also be there. So, I am certain, will a number of other familiar faces, lured by the promise of a couple of once-in-a-lifetime performances and some Sunshadow Ale.

The Faerie Escape Program intriguingly lists the Salon as being held in the Mercury Retrograde Suite, which is not on the convention map. I note that the map does include references to Narnia, however. Typical Faeries. If I had to guess, and of course I do, I would put my money on this event taking place in the “Zinfandel Room”. Stop by our table in the Marketplace, aka the Dealers Room, for better intelligence on this.

Sunday 12-1:30 PM: Children’s Literature Workshop

Hosted by Zachary Steele. Literary magic for the younger set.

Sunday 1:30-3 PM: The Future of Faerie Fiction

With Barbara Friend Ish and Anna Branscome. We’ve seen an explosion in literature about faeries and fairy tales, and there is no sign of it stopping. What are the next big things in writing about fairy tales, the fae and all their myriad offspring?

*

These are just the places we’ve promised to be. Anna has her eye on a mask-making workshop; there are some conversation sessions I’d like to attend. But you know how it is when you step into Faerie territory; time and place are unpredictable. There’s no telling when or where we’ll end up.

One thing’s certain, however: Rachael Murasaki Ish will be present in the Marketplace all weekend (except during the Salon on Saturday), bringing books and other delights to lovers of literature. Stop by and say hello.

*

* You know, the immortal verse by friend of the house Jim C. Hines, which appears on the back of our Big Books T.

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One of the best things about summer: 4-day cons. PlayOnCon takes place this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, and we’ll be there all four days. Zachary Steele and Barbara Friend Ish will be participating in panels and other fun. We’ll have a table in the Dealers Room–where you can check out, among other things, Zach’s forthcoming Flutter, the hilarious sequel to his Anointed, and pre-order your copy. (And don’t miss the Fairy Catmother t-shirts, on loan from friend of the house Diana Bastine.) And we’ll be hosting the very first public playtest of the Tarot-based card game Cliche Studios is developing for Barbara’s next novel, War-Lord of the Gods.

This is going to be an action-packed weekend! For this year, Faerie Escape: Atlanta has teamed up with PlayOnCon, so in addition to the usual fun at PlayOn there will also be programming for lovers of Faerie. We’ll be participating in some of it, including a workshop on bringing fresh air and fresh ideas to stories inspired by Faerie (6 pm Friday). We’ll also be hosting a program of faerie storytelling, including readings from Zach and Barbara, some of which will be sneak peeks at forthcoming works, as well as a reading from Ed Morris’s There Was a Crooked Man (performed by Sales Diva Rachael, since Ed can’t be with us this weekend).

PlayOn is also hosting a number of open-to-the-public meetups at the convention hotel, which we’ve already talked about here. Barbara will be hosting the writers’ meetup, and Zach plans to be present too; we’ll probably kick things off there with a couple readings there, too. Unless everybody just gets right into the spirit of the meeting without prompting; then we’ll just hang out.

Anybody who follows the play-by-play around here knows how excited we’ve been getting about gaming recently; we’ll be hosting a workshop on using game development to enrich the story world, Saturday at noon with James & Ant from Cliche Studio. This will be a very hands-on workshop, so if you’ve ever wanted to get advice from a live game developer, this is a good chance to do that.

There will be a lot more fun there this weekend, and of course we’ll be in the thick of it, including much more writing, publishing, and gaming programming. Hope to see you there!

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More great words about Leona Wisoker’s new novel:

“Having risen to the position of desert lord, the noblewoman Alyea of Peysimun must learn to wield her power wisely in a world where humans must contend with the enigmatic ha’reye, a people more ancient than humanity. Alyea entrusts her political education to Deiq of Stass, who struggles to conceal his half-ha’reye blood even as he navigates the intrigues of the human world. Meanwhile, forces are at work to throw a peaceful world into chaos. Wisoker (Secrets of the Sands) captures the feel of a desert culture as well as the convoluted politics of human and not-so-human societies. VERDICT: Compelling characters and a colorful setting make this a satisfactory multivolume fantasy.”

The book will be available March 29, but you can pre-order it now. We’ll be holding launch events in Williamsburg, VA on April 2 and at RavenCon on April 9. Come out and party with us, and see what the fuss is about.

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New Englanders, here’s a chance to see the cover illustration created by artist Aaron Miller for Leona Wisoker‘s Guardians of the Desert–in person. Aaron will be exhibiting this work at a group exhibit of sci-fi and fantasy art at Spirit Gallery in New London, CT. Aaron says,

Spirit Gallery Tattoo’s gallery is presenting “Drawn Today”  – a collection of sci-fi and fantasy themed artwork by artists of the Drawn Today illustration blog. The show will open on Saturday, March 5 with an artists’ reception held that evening from 6-8 p.m.

And there’s a podcast about the event on the Drawn Today podcast.

Visit Aaron’s blog for details on the event.

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