Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Adventures with Neil

I am very psyched to share about my trip this last weekend to Atlanta to see Neil Gaiman on his last U.S. book signing tour. This was my second time being in the physical presence of my favorite author. The first was in 2011 at World Fantasy Con in San Diego, which you can read about here.

The adventure started out by picking up my friends Ann Marie and her boyfriend Lee and driving five hours from Florida to ATL. We got to the site of the event, a small women's college, about three hours before Neil was scheduled to talk and went to grab something to eat. When we got back like thirty minutes later, there were hundreds of people in line ahead of us. We had to wait in the blazing sun for over an hour to pick up our tickets, but it was a very pretty and magical looking ticket indeed:

After that, we had to get in the longest line I've ever seen, which spanned like half the campus, to wait to get into the building. This is the line when we got to the back (though it's missing about thirty people on the left side), and what you can see below is only about a fifth of the whole thing. Can you see how far it stretches into the distance???
We finally got in and sat in the balcony at the back of a large auditorium. Neil spoke at about 7:30 and as usual was smart and charming and super cool. He read from Ocean at the End of the Lane and then had a brief Q&A, though he refused to answer more than three Dr. Who questions. My favorite answer? When asked how he approached a writing project, he said, "I just sidle up next to it and say Hullo."
This is the gorgeous building we were in:
After Neil spoke the serious waiting began. We had about six hundred people ahead of us to get our books signed. Finally, after midnight and eight hours of waiting total (eight!), we got our books signed. And it was totally worth it. Neil was so friendly and made a point to talk to everyone even though he'd been signing for hours. He said he liked my shirt, which just about made me giggle like a school girl, and I asked him about something he'd said he was working on when I saw him in 2011, and then we were through and it was over, and I didn't regret one bit of the waiting.
Here is a pic of me and Neil, with most of my makeup melted off from waiting in the Georgia heat and a beam of light cutting across my head:
Silly as it sounds, I feel changed every time I see Neil. It solidifies my aspirations as a writer, and helps me dream of the future. I want to be the cool author with an eight hour line. I want to travel the world and make good art and inspire others. I want to free the imagination of countless readers and change how they see the world every time they pick up one of my books.
So, yeah. It was a pretty rad weekend :)
**Update** LOL, I just read my old WFC 2011 post where I talk about waiting ONE WHOLE HOUR to get Neil to sign my book. Oh, perspective...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Very Sad Goodbye

My dear pony Mocha died last night. I think it was peaceful. He was very old and had been lethargic and just not himself the last few days, so I had suspected he was going soon and was able to say my goodbyes. When I went out this morning to feed the horses he was just lying in the pasture.

I remember when I first got him almost five years ago how he was such a rascal and would never let me catch him in the pasture. We worked together and soon he got over that silly habit. We had been told that he was very skittish and abused by someone in the past, and so it was hard to win his trust.

I remember how he would always chase my huge warmblood away from his food, though he was less than half his size, if I didn't seperate them during feeding time. He was so bossy to the other horses, but so dear and sweet to his people.

I remember when I made him wear a Santa hat and pose for Christmas pictures a few years ago, and how when I was squatting on the ground trying to get a good angle since he was so small that he kept coming up and snuffling my face with his soft muzzle. He was the cutest Christmas pony ever.

I remember last November when he an abcess in his eyeball of all places, and I had to give him five different medications ten times a day, all through the middle of the night even though I had to get up at 6:30 for work. That went on for two weeks, and then the medications were weaned off slowly, but all in all it was six weeks of intensive care putting medicine in his eye. I didn't even have to put a halter or leadrope on him. He just stood there and let me mess with his eyeball. Even though we were close before that, I think that experience made us truly trust each other.

He was part of my inspiration for Everdream, my last novel about living carousel ponies. The specific character he inspired was Onyx, a grumpy, bossy jet black pony that is part of the dream caravan. When this gets published, he will be on the dedication page.

This morning after I found him I noticed that a single magnolia bud was on the tree, and just a few minutes ago when I went to pick flowers for his grave, I saw that it had fully bloomed, just in the last couple hours. White and perfect just for him. I placed it in his grave along with some blue hydrangeas.

I will miss you, old friend. May your spirit be boundless and joyful wherever you travel.