Jeanne Cavelos, a World Fantasy Award winning editor and writer, runs the Odyssey writing workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire. Odyssey is a six week intensive workshop with a 50% publishing rate for its graduates.

While I was unemployed in 2005, I briefly entertained notions of attending Odyssey; if I had still been jobless in June of the following year, and if I had been able to (somehow) get the money together for the tuition, I would have applied for the 2006 workshop. As it was, I landed a job with IBM, and my small flame of hope for attending the workshop flickered out. (Alas, paying the mortgage and eating is a higher priority than attending a writing workshop. Even this one.)

Jeanne, however, has done a brilliant thing; she is releasing podcasts of past lectures by visiting Odyssey instructors. The first three podcasts are lectures by Charles L. Grant, whom we lost last year (R.I.P., Charlie), Jeff VanderMeer, and Gardner Dozois. Future podcasts may include lectures by Steve and Melanie Tem and Bruce Holland Rogers, as well.

I’m psyched. I can’t wait to listen to these podcasts, especially since my chances of attending Odyssey are slim right now. Because of what Jeanne is doing, people who are unable to attend now have a chance to experience a small slice of the Odyssey experience and gain valuable information from successful instructors in the process.

Thanks, Jeanne!

Captain America is dead! Long live Captain America!

Even if you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that Captain America was assassinated this week. I haven’t collected comics since the mid 80s, but I have always had a soft spot for Captain America. My favorite Marvel comics heroes were always the ones who had some limitations, and had to rely on their ingenuity: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Captain America were at the top of my list.

Of course, when I read the news, I had to stop by my neighborhood comic book shop, Free Time Comics. Of course, all issues of Volume 5, Issue #25 of Captain America were sold out, and had been since early in the day. The proprietor told me he started receiving calls from Cap fans before the store opened, and that he learned about the story from CNN. In other words, Marvel Comics blindsided the comics retailers.

It’s one thing to create buzz for your product, like DC Comics did with the death of Superman in 1993. And, from all accounts, the story is well written and drawn, so it’s probably worth the press and will give a good boost to comic collecting. However, leaving the retailers completely out of the loop was not the right thing to do, in my opinion. Sure, for those of us interested in reading the story, rather than collecting the near mint first edition, Marvel will probably release a second printing or alternate cover issue, and the stores will benefit from that. But they missed out on the initial rush of sales, and if there’s one thing that local comic book stores need, it’s sales. The proprietor at Free Time Comics indicated that he could have sold about ten times as many issues as he had on hand if Marvel had been willing to work with the retailers, like DC did during the Death of Superman issue.

What do you guys think?

Class Writing Prompt: Biter Bitten (100 words, no repeats)


Look at him, stalking his tail, blur of black fur and flashing fangs, spinning ’round in senseless spiral. Nip o’ the tip, head snaps around, looking for attackers, seeing only a familiar, dark, shiny coat. No matter. Back to hunting, closing on wild, waving, wagging appendages. Lunge, bite, yelp! Alas, unwieldy prey escapes again.

You’d think he’d learn that he’s biting himself, but not so. He just keeps chasing, nipping, barking, endlessly.

Meanwhile, I take long pulls from Marlboros, then exhale, watching smoke fill space between us. Lighting one butt with another, I’m crafting my own vicious draconic circle.

Honorable Mention

Last year, while surfing Craigslist for writing opportunities, I saw an entry for a haiku contest. The idea was to write and submit “Hipster Haiku,” which would then be compiled into a book. Eventually, I did get a note back that my haiku was not chosen, but that I was a “runner-up.” That’s about what I figured would happen, and I chalked it up to a poetry.com-style scam. At least I got a few new haiku out of it, right?

My judgment may have been a little rash, though. Prompted by another writer friend, Chuck Anderson, I performed a Google vanity search. Most of the entries on the first pages actually did have something to do with me, with the exception of the private investigator in Broomfield, Colorado (ironic; that’s just down the road) and the persistent prison inmate in Minnesota who is seeking pen pals.

What caught my eye, though, was an entry a couple of pages in about haiku. That took me to this page, which lists 200 Honorable Mentions for the Hipster Haiku contest in alphabetical order. Sure enough, my name was 84th on the list, and I am evidently the only Colorado Honorable Mention. That’s more than I thought I would get for that contest.

Anyway, the fact that my poems weren’t chosen frees them up for publication on my website, so I’ll post them here before adding them to the poetry¬†category. Enjoy. Quality feedback is welcome.

Tall, fit, curls, soul patch, Vespa
You … me … my scooter

5’6″, blonde, blue
Seeking … anyone

Razr phone, iPod,
MySpace, Converse tennis shoes.
Why’s she still lonely?

Lunar Eclipse

Tomorrow evening, a total lunar eclipse will occur. Unfortunately for those of us in the Rocky Mountains and further west, it will be nearly over when the moon rises at 5:53 PM, and the umbra will have receded from the disk by 6:12 PM. People east of the Mississippi will be luckier; they will get to see more of the eclipse.

That’s too bad for us. The last time we saw a total lunar eclipse was October 27, 2004. My girlfriend (now wife) and I took the kids out east of the main city lights to a prairie dog preserve and watched the moon turn a deep red, as in this composite picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. That night is a wonderful memory, and a keystone of our relationship.

The ancients were right; magic is enhanced by a reddened moon.