Look at all the joy that just arrived!

I entered a giveaway over at Triscelle Publishing and won a full set of the Morrigan’s Brood books by Christopher and Heather Poinsett Dunbar! Nothing like a slew of books on the doorstep to make my day.

Isn’t their design wonderful? Isn’t their cover art gorgeous? I’ve got good reading for months, now.

I came, I saw, I Con-quered.

Been waiting to make that pun all week!

This year’s AggieCon was pretty fabulous. I sold books, sold pointed sticks, and met some really awesome people. I also met up with old friends from the College Station area, some of whom I only ever see at AggieCon anymore, and so any chance to goof off with them is a treasure.

It was a whirlwind weekend of books and conversation. No panels – pretty much from the get-go, I was too pooped to do much but sit behind my table and smile creepily at passers-by, occasionally shouting nonsense at the authors across the aisle. (I have some vague recollection of promises of a marshmallow war for next year. I get the impression the organizers wouldn’t much appreciate that, but I suppose if we were to eat all the marshmallows before they find out… )

The really bizarre thing is that I only got two photos this year. Fortunately, they were both really fantastic.

I was harassed by a pair of Deadpools. (I won the first round, but they won the second.)

And then some Winchesters dropped by. (I think they found my merchandise amateurish, at best.)

The best part, though, was making new connections. There are some really snazzy people who frequent AggieCon, and they all deserve a look.

The List of People You Should Check Out:

Noree Cosper

Author of The Van Helsing Organization series, first book A Prescription for Delirium.

N. Sullivan

Author of the sci-fi-noir Watchmaker Series, first book Nickel City.

Triscelle Publishing

Heather and Chris Dunbar, authors of the Morrigan’s Brood dark fantasy series, first book Morrigan’s Brood.

Jeff Cranor

Co-writer of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, which I have only just started listening to. (My geek cred took a blow, this weekend.)

J. Grant & Mel Hynes

Cat comics and gun comics. Need I say more?

The “Literature” status of children’s literature.

MR Graham:

Again, I’ve had the opportunity to write an article for Reading in the Borderlands – this time addressing the quality and prestige of children’s literature.

Originally posted on Reading in the Borderlands:

This semester, students in READ 6310 Children’s and Adolescent Literature were asked to contribute a post to this blog.

by M.R. Graham

books-69469_640The “Literature” status of children’s literature has long been not merely the subject of debate, but often a point of feud. Many in the industry and surrounding the industry – book critics, authors, agents, and English professors across the country – seem to see children’s literature as something less: less complex, less beautiful, less intelligent. Less important. The argument seems to be that children’s literature must be inferior in some way because adults read it easily, as though quality were to be gauged not by depth or humanity, but by ability to confound. Others argue that children’s literature is “watered down” in its portrayal of the human experience, often glossing over the darker moments of death and loss – not merely an inaccurate criticism, but an unfair one…

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Parallels – a Lenten poem and reflection

Of what use are symbols?
Dumb objects, bereft of life -
of what use an image,
dead-eyed and heartless?
Of what use the cross, a statue, an icon?

You shall worship no graven image.

Of what use a portrait,
a loved one captured in time?
A moment, a memory,
photographic sentiment.
Somewhere beyond the gloss, humanity abides.

I am occasionally challenged by people who like to equate images with idols, and this is the summary of my response. Idolatry in the historical sense is the worship of an object, often a statue. It involves the complex belief that anything bearing the image of a particular deity has the power to become a part of the deity, or that it becomes a vessel for the deity. Thus, in praying to the object, the worshiper is heard by the god. The Catholic use of imagery and iconography does not fit that pattern. It is closer to the keeping of personal photographs, using visual signs to remind ourselves of a separate existence. No one looks at a family portrait and believes that their loved ones are there enclosed in glass, looking out at them, but it may inspire a moment of love for those people, wherever elsewhere they happen to be.

Preparing for AggieCon.

You would think I’d have learned something from doing this last year, but I’m still in a bit of a tizzy. I shouldn’t be; at least I know where the bathroom is this year, know some of the other authors, and have finally figured out that books don’t really stand up on their own very well. I’ve done some other small events since then, which has given me some much-needed practice in actually talking to real human beings about my books. I’ve heard it’s easier to sell something if you can tell people what it is you want them to buy.

You would also think that, not having been waitlisted this year and thus having a lot more advance warning that I’d be doing this thing, I would have been readier sooner. But then, procrastination has always been a symptom of freaking out for me, even when it’s something I’m also looking forward to.

I want it to be here already!

As a reminder, AggieCon is April 4-6 at the Hilton Hotel & Convention Center in College Station, Texas. Pre-registration is only open until the 15th, but at-the-door day badges are only $20. If you happen to be in driving distance, you should come visit me.

Anyway, I have one more book to sell than I did last year, which pleases me. My special autographing pen is inked up and ready to go. And if you’re too far away for a weekend trip to College Station to be feasible, never forget that signed copies are available directly from me via my Shop page. (Plug plug.)

Ashes – a Lenten poem

In mourning, in grieving,
we wear ashes on our brows -
for what in our lives is worthy?
for what in our lives is just?

We march forward without moving
and strive without doing
and search without seeing.

All is vanity.

Blinded by false wisdom, we grope
with hands bound by the ghost of mammon.

The Lord only knows how we may escape.
Spiritus, move me.
Impetus, work in me.
Sapientia, be my sight.

Of trees – a poem

Deep ghost-groves of freckled aspen
burn white beneath the winter sun,
whisper hoary adulation,
canticles for the Holy One.
And in the trees, the spirits dance
betwixt the motes of starry snow
illuminated by the lance
of lightning flash and candle glow.
All lights within this place combine,
reflect in splendour, white on white,
and mingle in a trance sublime
that breathes in peace through winter night.

The lofty heads of stately pine
rear up and brush the lowered sky
as if they could, by straightened spine,
so please the God who built them high.
Their incense needles, fragrant, fall
in silence to the chapel floor
and still above, they shade the hall
where ghosts who come by night adore.
Black on black, and brown by green,
create a hush bereft of light
where one may linger safe, unseen,
and sleep in peace through winter night.

Winter Park, Colorado 2011