WA State Toy & Geek Fest

WA State Toy & Geek Festival

This weekend (June 30-July 1) I’ll be at the Washington State Toy & Geek Fest in Puyallup, WA at the State Fair Grounds with Books & Chains! We’ll have guest author Jennifer Brozek with us, along with new chainmaille and books, so come stop by and say hello! We’ll be at Booth E-15!

WA State Toy & Geek Festival

Hilton Honors Horror

The first weekend of June, I had the displeasure of staying at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Spokane, WA. I was vending at the Lilac City Comicon at the Spokane Convention Center and chose to stay at the convention hotel–a mistake I won’t make again.

Back in 2017, our first LCCC, we stayed at the same Doubletree Hotel (also as a Hilton Honors member). Our first night there, we chose to eat at the Spencer’s restaurant inside the hotel. When you’ve spent several hours unloading two cars worth of gear and setting up your booth (this after a 5+ hour drive), you need a good meal.

The restaurant was completely unprepared for a convention and was very understaffed. In fact, we were seated for twenty minutes before a drink order was even taken, and the place was only half-way full. All in all, it took almost two hours for us to get our food, eat, and pay, and not because we were hanging out and chit-chatting. Even worse, they have an incredibly dated and sexist phrase painted over the bar mantle that states: “For a good dinner and a gentle wife you can afford to wait.”sexist quote

A gentle wife? Really? What is this, 1950? I realize this is an old Danish proverb, but it’s not really appropriate in this day and age. Besides, gentle is boring.

After our stay in 2017, when the Doubletree Hotel asked for feedback on our stay, we expressed our concerns regarding our experience at the hotel restaurant–both the service and the quote. The hotel manager called me and listened to my concerns, a fact that I greatly appreciated. He even went so far as to offer us a free night on our next stay, something we chose to take advantage of in 2018.

Fast forward to Lilac City Comicon 2018. I called the hotel directly a few days before the convention to confirm our reservation and our free night. The hotel decided the easiest way for them to handle it was to give us two separate reservations: one for two nights that we would pay for and one for the comped night. I was worried that this might cause problems, but they assured me it wouldn’t. I specifically asked if we’d have to re-check in, re-activate cards, etc. and was told that everything would be fine.

Because of the long drive and setup of the booth (all normal), we didn’t check in until almost 7 PM. We dropped off our stuff in our room and then went to Spencer’s for dinner. (By the way, the sexist message remains.We had a good dinner. Service was abysmally slow still, but not like the year before. Too bad the restaurant finds it necessary to perpetuate gender stereotypes and antiquated ideals.

Prior to arrival, I’d done the Hilton Honors digital check-in, which allows you to pick your room. I chose a particular room for ADA reasons, but did not receive the room I picked. I decided not to press it because I thought it wasn’t worth the trouble (at the time), though I came to later regret that decision.

Around 10:30 PM, after we’d already hauled/unpacked 9 bags in the room, we discovered that there was no cold water in our hotel room. We discovered this when Elise turned on the cold water to wash her hands and was burned by scalding hot water.Burned handsThese are her hands three days later. You can still see the burns. Burned hands

The reason her hands didn’t suffer worse damage is because I had cold packs in the room that she used to ice the burns. Despite running the water continually, it remained hot. No cold water. We called down to the front desk, who agreed to send maintenance up. About twenty minutes later, a maintenance man showed up. (This is nearing 11 PM by this point.) He flushed the toilet, which flushed the water line and then allowed cold water to flow…temporarily. After turning off the water faucet and turning it back on, it returned to no cold water. He stated that the city lines sometimes force hot water through the cold lines and that we just need to “flush the toilet when [you] want cold water.”

He literally expected us to flush the toilet every time we washed our hands, our teeth, or us, because yes, even the shower was affected. Honestly, I’d be surprised if the toilet wasn’t warm or hot water. He claimed it was a problem with the city, implying it was hotel-wide. If the entire hotel had no working cold water, there would have been a riot. If the entire city of Spokane were having water issues forcing everyone to flush their toilets, there would have been chaos in the streets. The apathy of both maintenance and the hotel sent me to Twitter and corporate. Elise’s hands were burned, and there was no care from anyone about it.

doubletree hotel tweetCorporate spoke to the manager and said someone would be in touch.

doubletree hotel tweetDespite these assurances, no one reached out to us. Not a single person. 

No one called us or met with us to ensure Elise’s burns weren’t serious enough to need medical attention. No one checked to ensure she was healing and recovering.

We spent Saturday and Sunday in a flurry of activity at the convention, punctuated by dinners NOT at Spencer’s and sleep. A half-hour before the convention ending, Elise returned to our hotel room to get our dollies for easier pack-up and load-out, only to find that despite all assurances, the hotel had turned off our room keys. With load-out imminent, there was no time to wait in line at the front desk to figure out what had happened.

What this meant is that we didn’t have what we needed to pack up our booth and load our vehicle. Using only what was available at the convention center meant it took twice as long with twice as much work, which means that for someone like me (disabled due to auto-immune disorders) and someone like Elise (with a bad knee), Sunday evening was more painful than it should have been. I called them from the convention center. only to have the woman at the front desk tell me in a snarky tone that we “could’ve had it reactivated.” Again the blame was placed on us, rather than acknowledging their mess up.

When we finally got back to the hotel, the front desk clerk (different person) informed me that they’d messed up the reservation and that yes, they’d deactivated the card in error. It was situated rather quickly, but it shouldn’t have happened to begin with.

After several days of not the best sleep (the mattresses were horrible), having to flush a toilet in order to take a shower or wash hands/teeth, setting up/tearing down a booth, and not having access to our dollies, we were both sore Sunday night and looking for a good night’s sleep before driving home Monday morning. Sore bodies meant that we both found the non-ADA tub to be high-sided and very slippery, which made me regret not fighting for the ADA room I’d requested.

We went to sleep with every intention of sleeping in, only to find that at 7:58 AM, someone was knocking repeatedly on our door. When we answered, it was housekeeping. Elise asked the woman if she realized what time it was, and the woman said she didn’t. Then she stated, “Well, you should have put the placard on the door,” referring to the “Do Not Disturb” placard.

There are several problems with this:

  1. It’s 7:58 AM. That might apply if it was later.
  2. Checkout time is at 11 AM. Why in the world would housekeeping want to clean our room BEFORE checkout? That would result in either a) them having to clean it a second time after we leave, since it’s likely we’ll use things between the two times or b) them giving someone a dirty room.
  3. Again, we have a hotel employee pushing blame on us for the hotel’s mistake.

It’s the second one that really bothers me because it implies they were going to give the next person staying in our room a dirty, used room.


By this point, we were already awake so we decided to go ahead and get the fuck out of dodge. There was no point in staying in a place where we were clearly unwelcome.

While we have every intention of vending at Lilac City Comicon again, we will never stay at that hotel again. While it may cost us more money to stay in the Grand Hotel across the street at a non-convention rate, at least their hotel is clean and the employees actually listen to concerns.

By the way, it’s now nine days since we checked out and still, no one has touched base with us about our stay.

I would avoid this hotel like a bad burn.

Lilac City Comicon Wrap-Up!

This is your Lilac City Comicon Wrap-Up!

This past weekend was the Lilac City Comicon in Spokane, WA, where we (Books & Chains) vended. Prior to the long drive from Seattle to Spokane, I had to pack up my vending crates and my suitcase, both of which are tasks that cue the cats off that I’m leaving town.

Riley protested harder than usual. He curled up on my suitcase and refused to move. When I touched him, he snarled lightly at me, then dug his claws in. I decided to leave him there for a few hours and pack the suitcase last. (Reminder that you can click on photos to see them larger.)RileyA few hours later, Riley was still curled up, asleep on my suitcase. I managed to get him to move, though he curled up on my hip and wouldn’t leave.Riley Early Friday morning, I head over to Elise’s house, where we packed up all our gear into my Honda Fit. The Fit is Go! We crammed so much into this car.Packed upAnother view.Packed upFive hours or so later, we arrived in Spokane, WA. We unloaded all our gear and spent about two hours setting up. Here’s our booth (and me with Book II).BoothWe checked into our hotel and got a room on the 12th floor with a lovely view of the river. View from the roomAnother shot.view from the roomWe went down to the hotel restaurant for dinner and had a load of veggies, among other things.Friday dinnerSaturday morning dawned very early as the dealer’s room opened up to VIP attendees at 9:30 AM. I decided to take a moment before we opened to take some close-up pictures of our wares. necklacesPretty necklaces.CandlesAnd character/setting themed candles.EarringsHero earrings.BooksWe opened the booth and immediately made some sales! Woohoo!

We ran into some really awesome cosplays, including this steampunk gentleman. He made all the parts of his costume, including the fabulous gun, which was lighter than I thought it would be.
Steampunk cosplayThis gentleman was a steampunk Captain America.
Steampunk Captain AmericaElise and I also met another chainmailler. When I saw this piece at his booth, I had to snag it since it seemed so Amaskan. 😉 Sorry that the photo is a bit blurry.
PrettyHere’s a selfie from Saturday. I am not quite awake yet.Early Saturday morningAttendance was down from last year, but we had a decent day on Saturday. We even ran into Shad of Penguinate.com, who we met last year. (He read and reviewed Amaskan’s Blood previously and was looking forward to Book II.) We also ran into Lori Collins, an artist who we met last year at Foolscap.

Elise bought a Toothless onesie, which she tried out in the freezing cold hotel room.

Toothless Elise

Here’s a few shots from our room during the proper daylight. The river was REALLY high and even had some rapids going.View from the roomYet another view.view from the roomSaturday night, I used the hotel’s internet connection to play some Stardew Valley with my husband. Then I went to sleep, and we started all over again on Sunday.view from the roomYummy food from Perkin’s down the street from the convention center. <3LCCC2018 dinnerA selfie from early Sunday morning. This is one exhausted Raven. I was tired enough that I opened a bottle of Coke too fast and sprayed most of its contents all over me right before opening. Fun times.Sunday tired I didn’t take as many photos of cosplays as I usually do because we were quite busy all weekend. But here are a few:

AisleThis cosplayer made their entire outfit. The armor and shield are foam and very well put together.Cosplay armor

Star Wars was a huge presence at this con, especially in the cosplays. These two were really awesome. Sorry for the low quality cell pic.

Star WarsThis cat man was at the last LCCC. He’s always a huge hit. Elise got a pic with him, which I’ll have to get from her, but I managed to snag his one when on the way to the restroom, complete with TARDIS hoodie in the background. 😉

We stayed Sunday night in the hotel (post-pack up) so that we wouldn’t be driving home into the early AM, and thus, I played some more Stardew Valley with the husband. Then Elise and I watched some Netflix until we were too tired.

We attempted to sleep in on Monday morning but housekeeping thought 7:58 AM was a good time to knock on the door and attempt to clean the room…even though we were checking out that morning. :/ Here’s a shot from Cle Elum, WA on the drive back.
Cle ElumThe winds were crazy in Washington on Monday and as such, my Honda Fit was whipped around like a toy duck in the ocean. It was crazy. I ended up driving much slower than usual and got home around 5 PM. It didn’t help that we hit rush hour traffic.  Once home, the cats were overjoyed at my return, including Malley here.

LCCC 2018!

Lilac City Comicon 2018 is this weekend!

I’ll be there in Spokane, WA at Books & Chains‘ booth! We’re BOOTH 503 near the Star Wars booth in the rear left corner of the dealer’s hall. (Click map to see it larger)LCCC MapI’ll have several new things with me!Raven and Book 2
Amaskan's War ARC
Okay, before you get too excited–these are ADVANCED READER COPIES. Book II’s release date is currently AUGUST 1, 2018 (though pre-orders will be SOON). But you can come get a sneak peak at Lilac City and pick up some freebie swag to remind yourself to pre-order it!

I’ll also have these new candles from both the Boahim Trilogy and the novella Class-M Exile!Character CandlesSo come hang out in Spokane this weekend at Lilac City Comicon and stop by our booth! I know Elise has some awesome goodies as well.

GDPR Compliance

You’ve probably heard a lot about this or have at least been receiving tons of emails from everyone about it. Since we are now required to give you a much longer and precise explanation of what we do and don’t do with your data to comply with GDPR.

In order to comply, I’ve updated my PRIVACY POLICY, where I’ve outlined what data is collected from you, how it is used and NOT used, and so on. All mailing lists have been updated as well to ensure double-opt-in is being used.

Thank you!

Slow with the Updates

Greetings and salutations!

I realize I’ve been a bit slow with the updates here lately. Rest assured that’s because I’m at the tail end of edits/revisions on Amaskan’s War, and I don’t want to be distracted by anything else. I do have a few EVENTS coming up, so be sure to check out the EVENT CALENDAR. I’ve got a ton to tell you once I’m on the other side and these edits are with the editor!

In the meantime, here’s a picture of Riley, who is always reminding me that it is pet-me-o’clock!

RileyHope your spring is full of flowers. See you soon!

Norwescon 41 Wrap-Up

This is your Norwescon 41 Wrap-Up!

I can’t believe it’s already time for Norwescon! Or at least, I couldn’t believe that last week when I was scrambling to get ready for it. For the first time in 5 years, I wasn’t a panelist or vending. For once, I was attending as an attendee, a fact that my husband very much appreciated as it meant that we got to actually see each other for longer than 30 minutes at a time.

This was also the first time we were leaving the kitties with a cat sitter since DiNozzo’s epilepsy diagnosis, which made me a nervous momma. (Our house/cat sitter was amazing though, so I didn’t stress for long!) Besides getting everything ready for the house/cat sitter, not to mention packing for our hotel stay, it was also time for a color change.

This little guy came to visit me while I was getting pretty colors put in my hair.Visitor

Picture of the new colors, which I’ve had before but not for a while.New hair colorsThursday morning dawned way too early, but I was happy to be heading to Norwescon!
New HairDiNozzo was ready for breakfast before we were apparently.Cat for dinnerOnce we arrived at the Doubletree Hilton and checked in, we found our balcony had a nice view of the airport. Hotel Room ViewOnce the clouds cleared a bit, it was a pretty day for Day 1 of Norwescon. This is the view from the glass elevator heading up to Maxi’s to play Magic the Gathering.View from roomThis is my husband, Erik, trying to figure out his next move.Playing magicThis is me, wishing I had more creatures for all my mana. Playing Magic the GatheringAfter a little Magic, we went through the Dealer’s Room to see what was what. I stopped at Matt Dinniman‘s booth because I have wanted to buy some of his art for a while. (I went back later and bought two prints–one with a corgi riding a velociraptor, and one with Abraham Lincoln riding a T-Rex.) I could buy so many of these!Art by Matt Dinniman

We also stopped by Jennifer Brozek’s booth to say hello, as well as Elizabeth Guizzetti’s table. Then we swung by a few other booths run by friends and check out what else was in the room.

Next, we went to a panel on 3D printing and cosplay, which was really awesome. They had some great examples of things you could do with a 3D printer, including this crown for a Queen of Hearts cosplay.3d printingSorry for the low quality photos, but Ronnie took them and Instagram squished them some more. We went to the Betsy Tinney concert Thursday night, followed by Shubzilla‘s concert. While I enjoyed Betsy’s show, it just made me really want to see Zoe Keating in concert again. Shubzilla was amazing as always. <3
Thursday night concert
Shubzilla concertTired me got up early on Saturday and got into my steampunk outfit. SelfieI didn’t get a photo, but Erik and I met with friends Elise, Jennifer Brozek, Kat Richardson, and PJ Manney. One of the best parts of conventions is seeing folks you don’t normally see–folks from out of town particularly. selfieAfter breakfast, we played more Magic and then participated in a draft. Yes, we played a lot of Magic. A bit later, we finally made it down to the photo area to take a few photos. Below is a great pic of my husband and me.Erik and RavenBelow is a picture of Elise (the chainmaille side of Books & Chains) and me!SteampunkFriday night, we participated in the Drink & Draft, which is a Magic the Gathering draft where most of the players are drinking and eventually drunk. I think I was the only sober one playing. It was a lot of fun, though by 1 AM, I was pretty tired. The early AM was catching up with me! Saturday morning, we slept in a bit and then I hopped into my Kaylee cosplay. Originally, we had a group of us cosplaying Kaylee, Jayne, Captain Mal, Zoe, and Wash from Firefly, but Zoe and Wash fell through.

selfies with ErikCaptain Mal needed some cosplay help.cosplay repairWhen I couldn’t quite get it, Janka stepped in to help as well!Cosplay RepairKaylee, Jayne, and Mal…finding themselves in an Alliance Bar on Unification Day. Well, we found ourselves in the hotel bar/restaurant, where we had drinks with Darryl Gregory, Jack Skellingstead, Nancy Kress, Dwayne from UW Bookstore, Elizabeth Bourne, Amy Sundberg, and briefly, Todd Lockwood.Firefly crew bar hopAfter getting “kicked” out of the bar and being rescued by our ship (I kid, I kid. Everyone left to go to the Clarion West party), we found this Dalek named Clara. 😉Firefly crewWe’re “too damn pretty.”Firefly cosplayOne last shot from the photo screen. Alas, you can’t see the bear patch on my outfit. Firefly crewLater that evening (post-party), Mal and Jayne ended up back in our room where we suddenly had a very shiny Jayne.Shiny JayneAfter Jayne and Mal left, Erik and I went back up to Maxi’s for the Cards Against Humanity Tournament, where we got these shiny ribbons for being horrible people. I almost made it to the second round, but Erik did! He almost made it to the third round. I guess we aren’t horrible enough.I am a horrible personAfter another late night of gaming, we got up on Sunday, the last day of the con, and had a nice leisurely breakfast.Sunday BreakfastWe made another pass through the Dealer’s Room, where we picked up a new dice bag for me as well as some more dice for Erik from WholeHearted Geek. These were custom painted in rainbow and are gorgeous. (I’ll have to post a photo later.) I also snagged a Wonder Woman trash can for my car from SewCherie. It’s pretty cool. While in the room, we ran into Ronnie of Sci-Fi Monkeys again. He snagged a selfie with a very tired me, which my husband photobombed.Ronnie, Raven, & photobombing husbandAfter the shopping, we swung by the art room to snag Elise’s purchases, then we went back up to Maxi’s for the gaming drawing. We did not win the awesome dice tower they had a drawing for, but it was fun to participate. Thus, the sun set on another Norwescon!Sunset on another NorwesconOnce we got home, we found the kitties curled up on the bed. They gave us a look that very much said, “What? You were gone?” It wasn’t until a few hours later that they seemed to realize that we were really home. They zipped all over the house, then played with us a bit before curling up to sleep.Happy CatHappy Kitties!

Happy Cats!I lost track of how many people I got to chat with at Norwescon–which is what happens at a large convention of science fiction & fantasy fans. I greatly enjoyed it and spending yesterday (Monday) chillin’ at home.

Until next time!

Review from Chanticleer

Amaskan's BloodA quite lengthy review of Amaskan’s Blood was posted recently from Chanticleer, who gives it 5 stars. Some snippets from the review:

“Just when you think you know where the novel is headed, the author will surprise you, frighten you, charm you, and, ultimately, move you profoundly.”

“…very precise and inviting prose…enormous talent for elaborate plot twists imbued with emotional drama.”

“As accomplished as the situations and settings are, the real feat of this novel is the depth of characterization.”

“…if you’re longing for the next season of Game of Thrones to begin, this is the novel to read while you’re waiting.”

You can read the full review HERE.



Emerald City Comicon Wrap-Up

It’s time for your Emerald City Comicon Wrap-Up!

For the first time in years, I was not a panelist at Emerald City Comicon–this time by choice as I wanted to cut back on my convention schedule after last year’s event calendar. In fact, I wasn’t even going to fight the crowds and attend ECCC until they announced David Tennant as a guest.

David Tennant was my first Doctor and is my favorite Doctor, not to mention how much I enjoyed him in Broadchurch, the DuckTales reboot, Jessica Jones, and Harry Potter. Considering my love of his acting, I was bound for ECCC! Then they announced that Billie Piper would be there as well, and I was absolutely sold! I didn’t go the full weekend as I had other plans, but what I did attend was quite enjoyable.

One of the panels I really enjoyed was The Darker Side of Fantasy, which covered grimdark, dark fantasy, and everything in between. The panelists were Ed McDonaldR.A. SalvatoreTodd LockwoodCherie PriestDelilah DawsonJosh Malerman, and Jesse Bullington. The picture below isn’t the best picture–I was further back–but there they all are!
Dark Fantasy Panel

I greatly enjoyed listening to them discuss the light hidden within most dark fantasy and the purpose of writing about such topics. After this panel, I ran into my friend Olivia, who was cosplaying Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth.

Jareth Finds a TARDIS

I also went to a panel on storytelling with Patrick Rothfuss, Molly Lewis, Anne Wheaton, and Jonathan Coulton, which was phenomenal. I really enjoying listening to them talk about the ways they write when they don’t want to write, or the ways that they are creative at the most mundane and boring times. That’s something I can completely identify with!Storytelling Panel Storytelling Panel

The highlight of my weekend was getting a photo with David Tennant and Billie Piper with my friend Elise. Afterwards, I got David to autograph it while we chatted a bit about DuckTales. The original series was something I watched religiously as a child. My husband and I will often sing the theme song in the car because why not? To see it rebooted and David voicing Scrooge McDuck is pretty amazing.


Me with David Tennant and others

I tend to do my roam of Artist Alley, the Writers’ Block, and the Dealer’s Room in the AM because it’s less crowded and the cosplayers are a bit fresher in their costumes because they haven’t been sweating in them all day. Here are a few pics of some cosplay that I found awesome.

I saw these kids cosplaying from the movie IT several times before managing a picture. The one playing IT is creepy. He managed that stare very, very well.

IT cosplay

This Weeping Angel (Doctor Who) was too awesome not to get a photo.Weeping Angel Cosplay

This group of cosplayers from The Walking Dead had folks snapping pictures of them every time I saw them!

Walking Dead cosplay

This chimera (Nina Tucker) from Fullmetal Alchemist was so good! There were two cosplayers with them dressed up as alchemists, but I didn’t get a shot of them. Just seeing this cosplay made me tear up though. I remember that episode very well. 🙁 Chimera

This cosplay was genius! Definitely one of the funniest Star Wars cosplays I’ve seen.Porg for sale

This Totoro was one of my favorite cosplays of the convention. <3Totoro cosplayThanos, carrying the head of Tony Stark (Ironman)Thanos cosplayThis Captain America variation as Captain Canada made me laugh way too much.Captain Canada These two from Lord of the Rings were amazing. Their cosplay had such amazing detail to it!Lord of the Rings Cosplay

This photo was taken by someone unknown–possibly Jesikah’s son–but my friend Jesikah had her photo taken with someone cosplaying the older Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He pulls off Luke so well that I had to share this photo on my page. Amazing photo, Jesikah!Jesikah and LukeMy friend, Olivia, who cosplayed Jareth earlier up, also cosplayed Jayne from Firefly on Saturday. She borrowed my cosplay prop gun Vera and sidearm, pictured below. (I don’t know who took this photo. Olivia shared it, and I’m sharing it here.)
Firefly cosplay

Here’s a selfie from Olivia with a closer look at Vera. I love 1.0 Vera. I worked hard on her, but I’m excited to 3D print the parts to create 2.0. 😀Firefly Jayne cosplay

Overall, I had a good convention, though ECCC is getting huge. 5th largest convention in the country. I’m guessing behind San Diego Comicon, NY Comicon, and PAX (probably West and East coast). There were times that I needed a break of fresh air to escape the mass of bodies literally everywhere.

Did you attend ECCC? If so, I hope it was also an excellent weekend! See you next time!



WorldCon 76I’ll be in San Jose, California in August for WorldCon 76 with Books & Chains!

No idea if I’ll be a panelist yet, but for the moment, I’ll be in the dealer’s room / artist alley area and if all goes well, I’ll have copies of Amaskan’s War with me!

It’s time to do a little dance!

See you in space, cowboy! Or at least in San Jose!

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