Boskone a Blast

February 23, 2011

I had a terrific time at Boskone this past weekend, though it was so busy I don’t think I’m completely recovered yet. I had a full schedule!

I started the weekend early, meeting buddies Charlaine Harris and Dana Cameron for lunch on Friday. Much gossip and hilarity ensued, and I’m not saying any more than that. Then I met with Ginjer Buchanan, my editor at both Ace and Berkley Prime Crime, and it was time to plot book plans. I’m not saying any more about that either, at least not yet.

By then the con had officially begun so we all got our registration packets and schedules and went to the Galleria, which is the heart of Boskone.  That’s where I ran into some friends old and new, and just schmoozed. (Including with Jan and Byron, and Paula, and Kate. And Kate, thanks again for the Tilda-esque presents.)

Next I met with Charlaine and Ginjer again for a dinner to celebrate our success with anthologies and to plot our new projects. I’ve already broken that story, that we’re all set for two more anthologies.

Friday night, Boskone had arranged a Fangtasia interactive show, which Charlaine participated in. Some very convincing portrayals of Sookie and other characters from Charlaine’s books, and they served punch that was suspiciously thick and red. I think what tickled me most was realizing that the evil bartender in black was also the friendly instructor from Guard Up!, a fencing school where my daughters have taken classes and where we had Valerie’s last birthday party. It was a different look for him.

After that, I couldn’t resist a brief look at the amazing art show. The artist Guest of Honor was Gregory Manchess, and his work is just amazing. First off, he does pirates, which is a particular weakness of mine. Second, he was exhibiting an astounding version of Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and a flying monkey that I adore. It’s on the cover of the book Spectrum 17, and I really really hope he gets prints made of it.

Another artist did these wonderful whimsical pictures of classic Halloween toys, and though I wrote down the name of the artist, I can’t find the slip of paper. (Never fear–I will track him down before Halloween.) And the third was a woman named Donna Lee Young who did these graphic-heaving paintings of happy skeletons and that flowed onto the edges of the  canvas. I know, I’m describing them badly, but they were awesome. And don’t think those were the only wonderful artists showing their work, either.

Saturday was filled with panels–three of ’em!–and lunch with Dana and our pal Beth Krueger and a kaffeeklatsch. Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to drink coffee for the kaffeeklatsch. Instead Charlaine and I visited with a double-table-ful of really nice people.

That night was one of the conventions highlights. Joshua Bilmes, president of the JABberwocky Literary Agency, was celebrating his twenty-fifth year anniversary as an agent. And since he first entered into the world of SF fandom at Boskone, what better place to celebrate? So he took a crew of us to Morton’s Steakhouse to party. The group included Joshua, Ginjer and her husband and fellow editor John Douglas, Charlaine, Peter Brett, Myke Cole, Joshua’s sister Aura (I probably spelled that wrong), a young writer named K.J. from Somerville whose last name I’ve forgotten, and myself. (I may have forgotten someone, and if so, I do apologize.) It was just lovely, and Joshua should be rightfully proud of all the books he’s helped bring to the shelves.

Charlaine and I zipped back to Boskone to attend the awards ceremony, and I was quite touched when I got a shout-out and a round of applause for my efforts in bringing Charlaine to Boskone. Here’s my confession: All I did was send Charlaine one e-mail. That’s it. But they can’t take the shout-out back now!

I should have gone to bed after that, but I’m really glad I didn’t. One of the niftiest things of the weekend happened while I was hanging around the hotel bar. Myke Cole had joined a crew that I think included my husband Steve, Ginjer, and me. At dinner earlier, it had come out that Myke, Peter, and I were old Dungeons & Dragons players, and I bragged about having published limericks in The Dragon, which was the d&d magazine. This came up again, and I quoted one of my creations. Then Mike quoted a different limerick from The Dragon, one that he remembered from what must be thirty years ago, and it was one of mine! Seriously! I was so tickled! When I told him that, he said, “You’re my hero!” Yeah, he serves three tours overseas and still serves in the Coast Guard, and I’m a hero. I don’t think so. But it was still a nifty moment, establishing my geek cred. (Myke later quizzed Maggie and Valerie to make sure the geek force is strong in them, and then approved Steve’s and my parenting technique.)

The next morning came far too early, but I had to be up to see Charlaine off after her last panel, and to get to my reading. I read an excerpt from my zombie mystery story from the upcoming Home Improvement: Undead Edition to a small but choice audience. Then I finally got a chance to see the rest of the Art Show and the Huckster’s Room before settling down for a book signing. I was surprised when so many people brought me copies of my mysteries to sign. Boskone is an SF con, after all. This did not, however, stop me from signing.

After that, I was ready to go home and collapse, but we ended up staying two more hours because Valerie was in the midst of a tournament of the game Munchkin, which went on forever. On the good side, she won, and also on the good side, it meant we were still there when one last really nifty thing happened. Joshua had wanted one last bit of celebration for his agent-ish anniversary, and also to give a thank-you to Boskone. So he’d bought two enormous cakes for the con suite, and handed out pieces. Yum! Here’s the proud agent and one of the cakes.

So there, at incredible length, is my Boskone report. And I know darned well I’ve left out people and events I should have mentioned–it was an incredibly fun and full weekend.


Big News!

February 21, 2011

After meeting with my illustrious co-editor Charlaine Harris and our ace Ace editor Ginjer Buchanan at Boskone this weekend, I can officially announce that Charlaine and I have made a deal for two more urban fantasy anthologies.

The first will have a school theme, and is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2012, with the second still undecided. (But don’t think you have to wait that long for another short story fix. Home Improvement: Undead Edition will be out in August 2011.)

As you can imagine, there is much joy in Massachusetts! Cavorting, gamboling, cheering, doing the dance of joy–I’m doing it all. We have so much fun putting these books together–people send us such amazing stories, and of course, I have the best editing partner in the world.


Boskone Bound

February 16, 2011

Though I usually haunt mystery conventions, I also enjoy science fiction conventions, and as a plus, my daughters are far more interested in SF cons. I don’t know if it’s the art show or the dealers’ room that gets them, but either way, SF cons are definitely family outings. This weekend the Kelners will be attending Boskone here in Boston, which is one of the longer-run SF cons–this is Number 48! As a special treat, the Special Guest this year is the ebullient Charlaine Harris!

Since the urban fantasy anthologies I co-edit with Charlaine are in the Boskone ballpark and since SF fans are often mystery fans, too, I’m going to be appearing on several panels and program items. I’ll be kaffeeklatsch-ing with Charlaine and on two panels with the entertainly erudite Dana Cameron. Plus I’ll be visiting with my editor and lots of other really fun people.

Here’s my full schedule:

Saturday, 1 PM
Monsters in the City: Exploring Urban Fantasy
Moderator: Alexander Jablokov
Dana Cameron, Suzy McKee Charnas, Toni L.P. Kelner, Margaret Ronald

Saturday, 2 PM
My Favorite Mysteries: What kind of crossover qualities make so many SF/F/H fans like a good mystery story?
Moderator: Paul Tremblay
Dana Cameron, John Douglas, Toni L.P. Kelner, Resa Nelson, Darrell Schweitzer

Saturday, 3 PM
The Divide Between Mysteries and Fantasy-Horror
Moderator: Toni L.P Kelner
Ellen Asher, Christopher Golden, Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay

Saturday, 5 PM
Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner

Sunday, 11 AM

Sunday, 2 PM

Looking forward to seeing folks there, but I have to admit, I’m almost sorry Chris Golden will be there. As fast as he writes, he could have written another book with the time he’ll be spending at Boskone.


February 16, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with reviews. Which is to say that I love positive ones, and hate negative ones. That is, of course, when the books being reviewed are mine. It’s not an objective or adult attitude, but it is what it is. I have similar reactions to reviews of friends’ work–I don’t pretend to be objective about those, either.

So in that spirit, here are links to some of the positive reviews that have been posted for Blast from the Past. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I’m not linking to the negative ones–you can google the title with my name and get those. (Be sure to add Kelner as a search delimiter because there was a movie called Blast from the Past and of course, it’s not an unusual expression, so without the Kelner, you’ll get insane numbers of hits.)

Thanks to the reviewers who liked the book well enough to post positive reviews. As for the folks who didn’t like it, I appreciate your giving it a try and I’m sorry it wasn’t to your taste. But I’m still not linking to your review.

Easter Egg Hunting

February 2, 2011

Yesterday was the official release date of Blast from the Past, the third of my “Where are they now?” series, which is always a happy event.

Normally I make a point of visiting a bookstore on Release Day to see the new arrival on the shelves, much as you’d go to the maternity ward and peek through the window at a newborn baby, but the weekly snowstorm up here in Massachusetts meant I couldn’t make it this time.

Here’s a shot out my back door, which shows why I decided to wait until later in the week. Or possibly next month.

That is a full-sized swing set, by the way, just to give you a sense of scale. So on the whole, I think it’s better to stay home for the day. And while I’m here, I thought I’d take y’all on an Easter egg hunt.

No, not a real one, because (1) it’s the wrong time of year and (2) the eggs would sink into the snow and not be found until July, given the way the weather has been. The kind of Easter egg I’m talking about are the private jokes hidden in my books and stories.

I confess that I have a weakness for inserting Easter eggs. In “An Unmentionable Crime,” which was set in a lingerie store, all the characters are named for people known for their connection to underwear: a man named Fredericks as in Fredericks of Hollywood, a woman named Vicki as in Victoria’s Secret, and so on. In both “Marley’s Ghost” and Mad as the Dickens, it’s Dickens character names, and in “Lying-in-the-Road Death,” characters are named for types of whiskey. (I was surprised by how many kinds of whiskey there are!)

I put in these private jokes because (1) they make me giggle and (2) I think they’re fun for readers who notice them. But I allow myself to do this if, and only if, it doesn’t distract or detract from the story.

Normally I don’t even tell anybody about them, but since I’m snowbound anyway, here are some of the Easter eggs in Blast from the Past. (And don’t worry–there will be no spoilers.)

  • The action star Tilda interviews at the beginning of the book is John Laryea, who is named for three of the leads in The Bugaloos. (You don’t remember the show that describes as “a rock-n-roll band with bug wings who live in a magical forest.”?)  I.Q and Courage were played by men named John–John McIndoe and John Philpott–and Harmony was played by Wayne Laryea.

  • The fictional Laryea got his start in a kids’ TV show called The Blastoffs, in which was about a pair of  brothers named Sid and Marty Blastoff. Sid and Marty Krofft are best known as the producers of a number of  kiddie shows, including H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost, and The Bugaloos. (And a tip o’ the hat to Bill Crider, who recognized that pair of names and mentioned them in his review of Blast from the Past.)
  • One thing I do in the Tilda books is to put epigraphs in front of every chapter, pulling snippets from books, web sites, and all kinds of sources. The thing is, not all of those sources actually exist. In Blast from the Past, I quotefrom Teenage Mutant Ninja Artists: The Best of Indie Comics by Jerry Frazee and  Saturday Morning Spree by Charles M. Luce. Neither book is real. The guys are real, more or less, and I drew on their expertise in comic books in researching the book. So I stuck them in as a real cheap thank-you present. By the way, in addition to being good friends of mine, both Jerry and Charles (who goes by Mike) are extremely talented artists and I’ve got plenty of work by both of them hung in my house. Just check out those links for a sample.
  • One of the producers of Pharos, the movie John Laryea is filming, is Joni Langevoort. The character is fictional, but there really is a Joni Langevoort, who I met via the convention Malice Domestic. Malice has a charity auction each year, and twice Joni has paid for the right of naming a character in one of my books. The first time, in Curse of the Kissing Cousins, I named a gospel singer after her daughter Katie. This time was Joni’s turn. (By the way, Joni’s name is misspelled in the acknowledgements for Blast from the Past, which was my mistake, but her name is correct in the text.)

That’s just a sample of what I hid in the book–I spent most of a year writing it, so there was plenty of time to sneak stuff in. I could tell you more, but I think it quit snowing and sleeting. Maybe I’ll make it to a bookstore to see the new book after all!