Spoiler alert: he does not stop drinking.
I rediscovered this little story while cleaning up my writing folders on my hard drive. I wrote it probably about five years ago in response to a forum challenge to write a love story in under 1,000 words. I like it more than I remembered. Enjoy!
A Conventional Love Story
I knew nothing about her; not her name, not where she was from, or if she was seeing anyone. All I knew was that the woman of my dreams was dressed as Hogwarts, and she was getting away.
It was love at first sight when I spotted her on stage between a Dark Phoenix and an Optimus Prime. Hers was certainly not the sexiest costume in the lineup. That title belonged to a scantily clad interpretation of a Ghostbuster. Nor was hers the largest, that went to a team of five people dressed as the Catbus from My Neighbor Totoro. Nevertheless, from the moment she stepped onto the stage to the moment she finished her allotted strut, the Quidditch pitch bobbing alluringly on her left hip, I could not take my eyes off of her.
Despite getting a standing ovation from the crowd, to which she gave an awkward curtsy, she did not place in the top five. While I thought the judges were crazy to exclude her, I was happy to see it. The sooner she was out of the contest, the sooner I could meet her. As the contestants were eliminated one by one, they filed off the stage and into the audience. The more impressive the costume, the more people swarmed to have their pictures taken with it. I dodged and weaved my way from the back of the room to the area next to the stage.
It took some time; the costume contest is one of the most popular events and the room was packed. Fortunately, I knew that with her bulky costume she could not move any faster than I could. I forced my way through a crowd of people I thought were waiting to be photographed with her, only to find a breakdancing Ewok in the middle. Irritating little showboaters!
“Where did Hogwarts go?” I shouted over the din.
“I think she was going for the Joss Whedon panel,” a partially transformed Bruce Banner replied.
He shrugged. I hurried as quickly as I could out the door. Back out in the hall, I asked everyone I saw if they knew the room number for the Whedon panel, finally getting it from a guy handing out promotional wrestling magnets. It took another fifteen minutes to make it through the throng of conventioneers to the proper room. Just my luck, the door was closed.
“Sorry, it’s full,” the con staffer said, sounding harassed as twenty other people were hovering by the door.
“I don’t want to get in, I just want to know if you saw a girl dressed as a castle go inside.” The staffer looked at me like I was a loon, and turned to rebuff the next person trying to get by him.
“Damnit!” I sighed.
“I know,” groaned a girl in a Captain Hammer tee. “I got in line two hours ahead of time, and I still didn’t get in,” she griped.
Two hours? That meant my would-be paramour hadn’t gotten in either!
“Did you see a girl in a Hogwarts costume?” I asked the disgruntled Whedonite.
“Is that what she was supposed to be? I thought she was Castle Greyskull.”
“Which way did she go?”
“Out to the floor.”
I took off sprinting, or as close to it as I could get when every square foot of space was taken up with people swinging swag-bags. I found myself back on the main floor, a football field-sized labyrinth full of vendors selling all the sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/gaming paraphernalia you could imagine.
Frantically, I took the route that was flowing the smoothest at the moment, praying she’d done the same. Finally, I spotted her headpiece through the sea of bodies between us. I could clearly see the unmistakable silhouette of the astronomy tower, perched on her head, complete with an action figure of Professor Dumbledore dangling from it.
“Hey!” I screamed at the top of my lungs, desperate to be heard over the cacophony.
“Hey! You with the turrets!”
For a moment she paused. I saw the action figure swing around, as her head turned. I leapt forward, my heart beating in my chest, only to barrel straight into a vampire covered in body glitter.
“No,” I moaned, as my unfortunate collision partner tried to help me off the floor. It was too late, by the time I regained my feet, there was no sign of her. I trudged to where I had last spotted her. All I found was a crumpled piece of cellophane, that had been a part of the Black Lake. I folded it neatly into a square and put it in my wallet.
I searched the con for the next two days. I never saw her again. But I’m not giving up. I will be back next year, and I’ll be damned if I won’t be the most accurate Platform Nine and three-quarters you have ever seen.
And here is a selfie I took with the Hogwarts miniature at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but I’m standing on an elevated ramp and the miniature is enormous, the room it’s kept in is about the size of a basketball court. I’ll admit, I may not have fallen in love when I saw it, but I definitely got chills.
I’ve made no secret that I’m a Neil Gaiman fan. I wrote once wrote a story about his toaster for heaven’s sake. So yeah, I’m excited about the American Gods show. I recently reread the novel and I’m curious about how they’re going to adapt certain parts to the screen. I have a lot of faith in Showrunner Bryan Fuller who has been responsible for some of my favorite, if mostly short-lived shows, such as Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and Hanibal.
I found myself wondering if I could predict what the reactions to the show would be before it had actually aired.
Anticipated Fan Reactions to the American Gods Pilot
Bryan Fuller Fans: It is a perfect curio of masterly crafted artistry. Please share my petition to save it from cancellation and add Lee Pace to the cast for season two.
Most Neil Gaiman Fans: That was great. I can’t wait for the next episode.
Some Neil Gaiman Fans: It wasn’t exactly as I pictured it and I wish is was more like the book, but I can think of it as an alternate universe. Of course, I’ll keep watching because Mr. Nancy—oh my God!
Loudest Neil Gaiman Fans: COMPLETE CRAP! EVERYTHING IS WRONG! BURN STARZ TO THE GROUND!
Anti-Neil Gaiman Fans: It sucked but that was to be expected, he’s a hack. The book was totally derivative of—far superior books by Terry Pratchett/Lev Grossman/Mike Vasich/Tad Williams/Diana Wynne Jones—his own ideas from Sandman—this one short story I wrote in high school.
Game of Thrones Fans: This would never have been made without GOT paving the way. How many more days to July 16th?
Doctor Who Fans: Crossover??????
Outlander Fans: Needs more kilts
Deadwood Fans: Needs more cocksucker.
Average person flipping through channels: Masters of Sex has gotten weird.
I’ve been all of these people at some point, depending on the project.
You can now read my story Wandering Eye on the Lorelei Signal.
“The Lorelei Signal is a web-based magazine dedicated to featuring
3 dimensional/complex female characters in Fantasy stories.”
I am very proud to have one of my stories published there. There is also a lovely piece of original artwork to go with it. That is a first for me.
Also if you are so inclined there is a donation button at the bottom of the page. Any donations go to cover the operating cost of the magazine, and any money raised beyond that cost is paid out to the authors and artists.
This October I attended the Viable Paradise workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. It was incredible. I learned so much and bonded with my class of fellow authors. I feel like I could write thousands of words and not really capture the feel of it. So instead I’ll post some photos.
First is the class photo with the instructors. I love everyone in this picture. Except for Jamie. (He knows what he did.)
Kind of cool fun fact, 19 of the 24 students this year were women. I am so proud to have been a part of this class. Pay attention to these names, you will be seeing them in magazines and bookstore shelves not too long from now.
In other news: Martha’s Vineyard is gorgeous. I did a terrible job capturing it. As shown here.
My classmates Fred G. Yost and Karen Osborne did a much better job.
See? So pretty! Also shockingly like Stars Hollow.
And here are a couple of mementos I came away with.
That would be a pile of feedback for my submission novella.
Not shown: a newly written story, an idea for another, a mug, a tee shirt, and a green rubber snake.
So to wrap up I would 100% recommend Viable Paradise to all aspiring spec-fic writers.
And here is a video taken last month of me reading the beginning of my novella at Word Brew 2016 (while wearing my VP shirt).
I was going through my notes archive and found this weird little thing I wrote a few years ago. Enjoy!
How to Cook and Eat the Avengers
So you’re thinking of invading Earth. I’m sure you’ve already got a detailed plan for how to defeat The Avengers, but have you thought of what to do with them next? With the proper preparation, each Avenger will yield a unique and memorable meal.
Place live Avenger in a large stock pot of tepid water. Slowly increase temperature until struggling ceases. Do not be disturbed if you hear a noise akin to screaming, it’s merely his soul escaping his body and does not last long. If you are squeamish, get him intoxicated prior to cooking, he’s less likely to notice. Once fully cooked, break through exoskeleton and enjoy.
Season liberally with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Wrap in pastry dough and deep fry until golden brown. Serve immediately or freeze to eat later.
Eat raw. This Avenger has a natural kick.
If obtained when fully ripe (dark green) this Avenger will serve a large gathering. Roast on a spit for at least eight hours and carve. Meat will be tender and juicy. Do not cook if meat is pink, servings will be small and bitter.
Generally bland. Smoke or marinate to infuse with flavor. Best on sandwiches.
Only for the daring of palate. Flavor is strong and like many Scandinavian cuisines, the aftertaste can be unpleasant. Pair with pungent cheese and amber ale.