March 8th, 2013


Reminder: The Traveling Circus and Snake-Handling Show is TOMORROW!

Guys guys guys! The Traveling Circus and Snake-Handling* Show is tomorrow! For the eighth time, my band of merry wanderers will descend upon San Francisco, bringing music, chaos, and the excitement of a book release party with us! This time, we're actually not going to be at my beloved Borderlands Books, although they will be selling books at the event: thanks to an opening in the Variety Preview Room Theatre, we're going to be trashing someone else's house for a change! The party begins this coming Saturday at 6:00 PM, at...

The Variety Preview Room Theatre
Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor (use the entrance next to Citibank on Market St.)
582 Market Street @ 2nd and Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94104


Delicious cupcakes! Free popcorn, for that circus feeling! A cash bar, including a signature cocktail designed just for us, The Snakehandler! Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff rocking the house, now with special bonus Paul Kwinn and imported bonus Vixy! And this time, I'm not the only author who's going to be taking her turn in the ring. That's right: I have AWESOME BONUS GUESTS. Sarah Kuhn, awesome author of the geek rom-com One Con Glory, will be joining the fray, as will Amber Benson, whose latest Calliope Reaper-Jones adventure, The Golden Age of Death, dropped just two weeks ago.

Three authors. A lot of music. Plenty of sugar. Accessible booze. NOW HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY?

I thought so.

Seating at the Preview Room is limited, so please show up early. We are a kid-friendly circus, although there will probably be swearing (I'm planning to show up, I swear a lot). The doors will open at 6:00 PM to allow for getting drinks and books, meeting people, and generally relaxing into the night; the Circus takes the stage at 7:00 PM. Here is the full schedule for the evening (subject to change):

6:00 PM: Welcome to our party! The doors will open for milling, schmoozing, hitting the bar, and finding seats. AND CUPCAKES!
7:00 PM: Would you like some music?
7:30 PM: Perhaps you would like to win things.
7:40 PM: Now there will be a reading! WHO WILL IT BE? NO ONE KNOWS! (Amber, Sarah, or Seanan.)
8:00 PM: More music?
8:30 PM: More prizes?
8:40 PM: Another mystery reading!
9:00 PM: Last music of the night.
9:30 PM: Q&A and book discussion.
9:50 PM: Thanks and final raffle before we move to the lobby for signing.

One note from the management:

"Don’t Drive—Seriously. Parking sucks in this area. Take BART or MUNI downtown, as we are directly adjacent to the Montgomery Street BART/MUNI station! Street parking ($3.50 per hour/coins or meter card, no charge cards) is metered 7 days a week til 6PM. If you have to drive, we suggest parking at the Folsom St. Garage at 3rd & Folsom (cheapest), across from Moscone Center."

See you Saturday!

(*No snakes will be present at the event, which is a shame, because I like snakes. I will content myself with humans. FOR NOW.)

Velveteen vs. The Aftermath.

So it's done: the story is told, and we've all had time to sit back and digest it. There was a lot of evolution, growth, and change between "Velveteen vs. The Isley Crawfish Festival" and "Velveteen vs. The Epilogue," and I like to think that was a good thing.

The character of Velveteen has been with me for a long time; there are sketches of her dating back to high school, which puts her in about the same era of inception as Toby Daye. That may explain some of their similarities: the parental issues, the trust issues, the perpetual poverty and fear of going hungry. These are all things that I was struggling with during high school, and for several years after. While I don't base my characters off of myself intentionally, there's an aspect of "write what you know" that is simply unavoidable. She didn't have a civilian name for years, but when the time came to start writing her story down, I named her Velma, after a friend of mine who needed a pick-me-up. And thus was Velma Martinez properly born.

The first "Velveteen vs." story had a weird genesis. See, I was getting ready to go to Worldcon in Melbourne, Australia, and I realized that going to Australia is expensive. Like, it costs a lot. So I started doing things to save money. I cut back on caffeine and new book purchases, and I began selling blog sponsorships. I did the math on how many dollars I would need to save every day, and said "pay me this much money and that day is yours." And people did!

My very first sponsorship was for an anonymous group called The Crawfish Minions. Wanting to start the sponsorships off with a bang, I decided I'd write them a little story about crawfish. Velveteen seemed like the perfect character to fight river-dwelling crustaceans, and somehow my "little story" grew into the first Velveteen adventure. This is also the reason for the early installment weirdness in that one: I hadn't paused to think things through just yet. The shape of the world was there, but there's more snark in the narration (the characters would always remain snarky, I wrote them), and Velveteen monologues at the Claw for no apparent reason (something which she thankfully never did again). Still, people liked it a lot, and it was fun, and things progressed from there. As they always do. To quote Amy: "Where'd those 10,000 words come from? Did you trip?"

I did at least sit down to figure out a bit more of the shape of the setting before the second story. I knew who Sparkle Bright and Action Dude were, their relationships to Velveteen, and what had really caused their falling-out before I wrote "vs. The Coffee Freaks," although it wasn't until "vs. The Flashback Sequence" that I realized just how deeply Sparkle Bright had been, and still was, in love with Velveteen. You can see the signs if you go back to Yelena's early appearances; she's very clearly dealing with a crush, and very clearly has no idea how to handle it. Whereas poor Aaron was just clueless from day one.

A lot of the secondary characters were unplanned, including several who became incredibly important. Jackie Frost and the Princess were intended as one-offs, showing that Velveteen had friends outside of The Super Patriots, but once I'd allowed them into the story, they refused to leave. The Princess was always transgender; it's part of her origin story. I honestly wasn't sure I'd be able to reveal that on screen until the scene with Jolly Roger's ship, which gave me an opportunity to force everyone into stating their birth names. Tag was introduced because otherwise Velveteen's inevitable reunion with Action Dude would be too easy. Um. Sorry, Action Dude. Didn't mean to break your happy ending.

Maybe the most important of the accidental characters was Victory Anna. I knew that Polychrome needed to have a girlfriend, and I knew that I wanted her to be a gadgeteer, because we didn't have one in the main cast. I wanted to show that power set, even if it was only for one story. So I introduced a time-traveling steampunk gadget-girl, and just sort of ran with it. Because Yelena is described as looking a lot like my friend Torrey, I described Victoria as looking a lot like Vixy. Yes. I just built in the opportunities for cosplay.

Victory Anna was supposed to be a one-off. She absolutely wasn't supposed to become the first character other than Velveteen to have a story focusing on just her (and remains one of only two who have been given their own narrative: the other was Jackie Frost). And she definitely wasn't supposed to turn into a member of the "core team."


On the whole, this series of stories evolved into something larger, more complex, and more honest than I could ever have intended. It's about figuring out who you are and being willing to fight for it, because nothing comes free; it's about forgiving people who hurt you, and sometimes even letting them back into your life; it's about love. Because love is good, and we need more of it.

It took me a long time to tell Velveteen's story.

I think it was worth the wait.