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News Roundup

OK, folks, there’s a whole new batch of awesome stuff for you to take a look at. And some really depressing stuff, so let’s get that out of the way first.

January 2016 has undeniably started out on a less than happy note. In the last three weeks, we’ve lost Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Rene Angelil, Dan Haggerty, Dale Griffin, David Heartwell, and Glenn Frey. If you don’t know one or more of those names, don’t look them up–you’ll just get your heart broken at the wonderfulness you’ve missed. Many of the deaths were to cancer.  Too many. Far too goddamn many. And I’m personally expecting to lose two or three more people I love to cancer before the end of the year. So this is a shit start to the year, no question about that. Not to mention ELECTION YEAR and TRUMP and POISONED WATER SUPPLY and POLICE CORRUPTION and ohmygodddddddddd it goes ON and ON. Horrific.

HOWEVER.

Tempting through it is, I ain’t hiding under the bed with a bottle of Xanax. Not gonna happen. Instead, I’m going to look at all the amazing stuff that’s ALSO been happening. And I’m going to shout at you about how amazing YOU are, just because you aren’t hiding under the bed yourself. And if you are, I’m going to say you’re STILL amazing, and I’m going to do my best to coax you out so you can see all this other excellently happy news.

Here goes. Take a look at this:

Musician Jonah Knight is branching out into fiction! His short story, The Giant Killer, is coming out in Gaslight And Grimm: Steampunk Fairy Tales through eSpec Books.  They ran a wonderfully successful Kickstarter–take a look here for all the details–and are currently chasing down the last of the stretch goals. Since Danielle Ackley-McPhail is involved in this project, I can tell you that A) it’s a solidly reliable investment and B) it’s going to be high quality. Oh, and C) the backer rewards seriously rock. Free digital downloads of this that and the other from a spectacular array of names including Gail Z. Martin, Kelly A. Harmon, Jody Lynn Nye, Jean Marie Ward, and Danny Birt. Take a look at the Kickstarter and toss five bucks in if you can, boost the signal as loud as possible.

Speaking of music and Jonah Knight, last weekend was MarsCon of Williamsburg, VA. Why is that connected? Well, there were several concerts featuring a wide array of voices, including Jonah. And Danny Birt. And Mikey Mason. And S.J. Tucker. And The Blibbering Humdingers, and Griff’s Room Band, and White Plectrum, and… well. You had to have been there to appreciate the epic scope of the lineup this year. BUT WAIT. Thanks to staff photographer Earl Harris, there is VIDEO of many of the concerts. He’s sorting through the footage now, and I should be able to post clips by Monday next. Keep an eye on the MarsCon Facebook page in the meanwhile; other folks are posting their own videos, if you’re not willing to wait. (Earl’s vids are good, though. He had a feed into the sound board, for one thing, which makes the sound on his videos nice and clear.)

Two musicians who weren’t at MarsCon but who deserve a note here:

Devo Spice, nerdcore rap comedian extraordinaire (no, seriously, check out his awards and achievements, I’m not just being nice here), has a few new projects for you to sit up and take note of. For one thing, he’s creating a video game called Sneaky Monster, which looks like it’s going to be a LOT of fun and has a great origin story. For another, he has an absolutely hysterical new video out, Dinky McDiddlyboots, that you HAVE TO WATCH. He took a moment of teasing by fellow musician Shoebox of Worm Quartet, and turned it around into a great earworm of a song.

A new, Virginia-local discovery for me: Shelly Thiss, blues singer extraordinaire. I know, you haven’t heard of her, it’s okay. She doesn’t self-promote the way Devo does. (She really ought to!) I heard her sing at the Williamsburg Winter Blues Jazz Fest recently, and she completely astounded me with the power, strength, depth, and passion of her singing. Move over, Adele, Shelly just passed you like you was standin’ still. Shelly sings with the Mike Lucci Band, and if you visit their web site you can listen to clips of Shelly singing–and check out the songs she WROTE, too! Talented, talented lady. I’m very glad I met her.

Another great discovery for me at the Winter Festival was the beer. There were many, many craft beers on display. Some were okay, some were terrible–seriously, folks, a beer is a beer. Quit adding so many damn fancy things to it. Lemongrass? Pineapple? ROSEMARY? *shudder* yick. Fortunately, I found one that I absolutely loved: Lickinghole Creek’s Chocolate Heir Apparent Russian Imperial Stout. I went out looking and found it at my local wine & beer shop, which made me very happy indeed. I will add a caveat–according to the beer-ista (what else should I call someone smart about beer who works at a wine & beer specialty shop? I like beer-ista, myself), the blend served at the Festival was extra chocolatey, more so than what’s in the official bottle. I haven’t opened it yet–it’s a big bottle, I need to have someone to share it with!–but I’m looking forward to seeing the difference.

In fiction news, I suggest checking out the following titles forthwith:

A Small Price To Pay, Leona R Wisoker — How far will you go for freedom? A short origin story about one of the plot points in the next Children of the Desert book. Also, a look at just how freaking brutal Lord Evkit can be. Currently available through pre-order–only $0.99, truly a small price! Available through Smashwords, and a fair chunk of it is up for sample reading. Also be sure to read Fallen City, a longer treatment of a different backstory point in the series, this one involving the cryptic Deiq of Stass.

Mussorgsky Riddle, by Darin Kennedy — What, you’re sick of hearing me talk about this title? THEN GO FREAKING READ IT ALREADY so I can shut up about how marvelous it is. The sequel is currently in editorial, and I’ll tell you AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN that it’s even better than the first one.

Vendetta, by Gail Z Martin — I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s the next book in the Deadly Curiosities series, and I’m *ahem* dying for the chance (meaning: time) to read it. I love the DC series SO much. I think it’s hands-down the best stuff Gail’s ever written.

So if you’re snowed in along the East Coast, download one of those books.

And speaking of snow, it’s piling up here in Williamsburg, so I’m going to sit and admire it for a while. This is my absolutely favorite time of the year! Here’s wishing you a safe and happy snowpocalypse 2016! 😀