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ConText 2009 part 1

There were too many of us to go up in one car, so we had ourselves a convoy. Well, we had two vehicles.

We made stops at two independent discount bookstores on the way because…you know…none of us has enough books.

At the hotel, the Designated Payer whipped out her plastic and asked what the charge was. Was told. Prepared to log the expense. Was told, “Oh, plus taxes and mumblety-mumblety.” Said, “…Okay, so what’s the CHARGE?” Was told. Prepared to log expenses. Was told, “And I’ll have to add $25 a night for extraneous charges.” “Like what?” “Like phone calls and room service and things.” Finally got a firm amount–“Is that your final answer?” and we had a ROOM.

Five people. One bed. Oh, the sofa in the chocolate chip room opened into a bed. I call it a chocolate chip room because it was a semi-suite. ONE bedroom containing ONE bed and a lounge area containing a couch and a chair. The bathroom, however, was big enough to declare independence.

But this is all by the way.

Went to registration and got registration packets. All was well, except that one member’s last name was spelled incorrectly in one place–her name badge. She corrected. We are nothing if not adept at edits. And–oh, yes–another member acquired an additional name. Member Marian Allen’s husband will be interested to learn that she is now to be known as Rinaldo. Or, as she was called with increasing panache over the weekend, RrrrrrrinAHHHLdo!

The Huckster’s Room (also known as the Dealer’s Room–the place people sell things) was lovely: wall-to-wall books, hand-made clothing and jewelry, board games, dice with a wide variety of colors and sides–(games, for the playing of). The ConText staff had a table at which they sold the books of anyone who didn’t claim a table in time. They asked for a paltry 10% commission, which would go to support the 2010 con. Good deal.

We checked out the Hospitality Suite, apparently among the first to do so. There were snacks and, because we were perishing for some, the Con Staff in charge of the Hospitality Room made coffee. Other attendees drifted in on the scent, and soon we were spread out in the room, making new friends–fellow fans, fellow writers, agents, publishers of small presses, nice people all around.

We returned to the room to eat. Hotel food is usually expensive and we didn’t want to leave the convention to forage, so we brought our own. Boy, did we bring our own! Bean dip salad, smoked spiced ham, foccaccia, French bread, three kinds of pickles, pimiento cheese, Benedictine spread (which spreads much better with a knife than it does with the edge of a paper bag, which we had to use in the car on the way up, the flatware being in the other vehicle), hummus, garlic butter…. Nom nom nom.

At 9:30, we took party supplies up to Sara Larson’s chocolate chip–I mean, semi-suite–for the event we were co-hosting with Apex Publishing and the Indiana Horror Writers. Good music, good conversation, a packed house, scheduled to go from 10pm to 2am, but at 12:30 comes a knock upon the door.

It was Security, in the form of an unsmiling man of considerable heft and totally no hair. Now, I’m a Yul Brenner fan from way back. I have no problem with bald. But, if your head comes to an actual, I-kid-you-not point, maybe bald is not the best way to go. I don’t mean to be snarky, but I take my oath, you could put this man in a Howitzer and he would totally hit the target. You could use him as a bunker buster. So he refuses to enter the room when invited, but wants the official occupant to step outside. She does. His idea of a first warning is not, “Turn down the music and speak quietly.” His idea of a first warning is, “Clear the room, or I’ll clear it.” Because it was a room filled with intelligent people who were there to enjoy conversation and company, the room was cleared and cleaned within fifteen minutes, no argument and no backtalk.

Back in the room, we filled in the SIW members who had left the party early. Uncertain whether to dub the Security guy Paul Blart, Mall Cop or Barney Bullethead, we settled on Barney Blart. Got ready to turn in and discovered that all the drawers and cabinets were empty. There were sheets for the fold-out couch, but no blankets. One member went to the desk to ask for more and was told there were no more. “WHAT! WHAT?” Holding up fingers, she did the math: “Five people, two beds, ONE BLANKET?” She came back to the room and said, “They’re going to send us a bunch of extra sheets, instead. Guess who’s bringing them.” Barney Blart.

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We Raid The Library

On May 30, we commandeered a table or two at the library. Under the stairs, in time-honored Harry Potter fashion, but we dispensed with the cupboard.

lib 5-30-09 light

Present when the picture was taken: (standing) Ardis Moonlight, T. Lee Harris, Jeannine Baumgartle, Joanna Foreman, Bonnie Abraham.

(seated) Ginny Fleming, Marian Allen, Joy Brown Kirchgessner.

We had our GHOSTS: ON THE SQUARE… AND ELSEWHERE…. and our new book, MOST WANTED.


Excerpts from all our books in print are available at the Southern Indiana Writers web site. All except THERE’S SOMETHING UNDER THE BED-TIME STORIES–we sold out of that one at the Howard Steamboat Museum Chautauqua and need to do a reprint.

Had a fairly steady stream of browsers and we always enjoy that. We like it when people feel free to come and look and talk without feeling pressured to buy. Not that we’re opposed to sales, but we like it that people feel welcome at our table.

Frank Bill dropped by for a visit. Frank is a writer of gritty noir fiction–or, as he chillingly assures us, SEMI-fiction.

We talked to Ms. Snyder, who does Corydon’s Unsavory Past, and she thought, for some odd reason, we would fit right in with that presentation. We also talked to the folks at Magdalena’s about an eat-and-meet event there. We’re planning on hitting Context science fiction convention again this year, and hoping to go to Publishers Row Lit Festival in Chicago next year. “‘Roun’ ‘roun’ get around, we get around” is going to be our theme song, I do believe!



Chautauqua is not a Vegetable

The Southern Indiana Writers Group had a table at the Howard Steamboat Museum’s annual Victorian Chautauqua last weekend. We sold bunches of books, not even counting a member who had a separate table to sell her own books. Yay, all of us! The Chautauqua had a few lectures, but mostly entertainment. They had games and activities for kids and a steam calliope which played between lectures and live music.


The live music ranged from acoustic guitar to big band, and this inexplicable Hawaiian-shirted barbershop group.


Joy, T Lee, Dale the Roadie and Marian came to set up at too-early a.m. on Saturday. T and Joy brought tables, all brought chairs, T brought ground tarp, rugs and canopy, T and Marian brought food. Joanna had organized everything beautifully, so set-up was a breeze, once the tent was up.


Not Us

Not Us

It rained off and on during the first part of Saturday, but it didn’t seem to discourage the crowds. It cleared up by the afternoon and both days were cool and beautiful. We met a Goth girl named Elizabeth, who was

Not Us

Not Us

tickled to hear that Marian’s Yahoo nick is MomGoth and who said we could show her picture. Also met a most beautiful pug dog named Darla Rose, whose mommy said we could put her picture on our blog.

Ginny and Joanna, Dirk and Samantha and Dave all came for shifts, but T was there all of both days. She is a trooper! Others would have been there all of both days, too, but prior engagements and sick family members interfered. Slackers! Where are your priorities??!!

Also Not Us

Also Not Us

Ginny found that one of the costumed folks cruising the site is a distant cousin, which was cool. The man’s real name is Jamie Eiler. Who he was dressed up to represent, this writer does not know.

We walked around, meeting people and buying things from other merchants. We had so much fun talking with the people who stopped by our booth, we would have considered the weekend a success if we hadn’t sold anything. The sales just made it all so much better.

The books that attracted the most attention were the ghost/horror books. GHOSTS: ON THE SQUARE… AND ELSEWHERE…., GHOST WRITERS and THERE’S SOMETHING UNDER THE BED-TIME STORIES sold the most. NOVEL INGREDIENTS, stories about food with a recipe accompanying every story, and DRAGON: OUR TALES, stories about dragons–real or imaginary–did next best. Joanna Foreman’s GHOSTS OF I-65 also sold well. For excerpts of stories from most recent SIW anthologies including our latest, MOST WANTED, click here.

We even had time to do some work. Joanna brought a chapter of her WIP, and we read and critiqued it there in the booth. We meet every week, but we still spent most of the whole weekend together, working and sharing. This isn’t how artistic temperaments are supposed to go, is it?

We plan to return to the chautauqua next year. Meanwhile, come see us at the Harrison County Library on May 30, 2009 from 1-4.



Woman Meets Cow. Fact Meets Fiction

Okay, so Ardis and I went to Dawn Creations in Lanesville, on St. John’s Church Road, just behind Zabel’s Hardware. At Dawn Creations, we had home-made soup, sub sandwiches and home-made lemon cake (all GOOD). The coffee was outstanding.

Anyway, we were leaving and started talking to the owner/baker, Dawn Clifton, and she turns out to be The Lady With The Cow In Her Kitchen! A couple of years ago, I wrote a story called “Home on the Range” for the Southern Indiana Writers Group’s anthology, IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING, based (very loosely) on a newspaper article about a cow that invaded a woman’s baking kitchen. This area being the way it is, I knew it was only a matter of time before I met her, and yesterday was the day.

She was very good-natured about it, and blessed us with a blow-by-blow personal account of what happened. SHE ought to be a writer–the way she told the story, which must have been harrowing at the time, had us holding our sides, laughing. She’s also a good cook and a lovely person.

Here she is, standing next to Dale the Whale–er, I mean me.


Today, I’m going back by the restaurant to take her a copy of the book with the cow story in it. To read the article in The Corydon Democrat about What Really Happened, click here.

To read an excerpt of the story, click here.



Keep It Clean

Okay, we got a hit on this blog from somebody doing a search for “sex on leather couch”. That is SO not what we’re about! Do you know know that your search terms show up on our Dashboard for all of us to see and mock?

Just because one of our titles is UNBRIDLED LUST…. All the stories are no hotter than PG, most are more like G. You could read them to your maiden aunt and not raise a blush on her withered cheek. I believe that it’s one of the titles currently only available at booksignings.

Fortunately, we’re doing two booksignings the first part of this year:

April 25 at 4 pm at Destinations Booksellers

May 30 from 1-4 pm at Harrison County Library

We’ll also have our GHOSTS ON THE SQUARE anthology and this year’s anthology, MOST WANTED.

Hope to see you, but just forget about the couch thing, ‘k?



Santa Comes to SIW

We met last night for our annual Christmas party. Despite the absence of some treasured members, the rest of us carried on courageously. Everybody brought something to eat and a present that cost no more than $5. It’s amazing what you can find for under $5 or stuck in a closet or something.



We ate and talked and ate and talked and ate and talked. Then this loudmouth said, “It’s after eight. If we’re going to do the presents, we’d better get to it.” Joy tore some paper into strips and numbered them and put them into a container and we passed them around. Then we ate and talked some more. So this loudmouth says, real loud, “Who has number one?” Carl said, “I do.” After a pause of about three beats, this loudmouth says, “Pick a present!” So Carl gets up and starts hefting them to test their weight, shaking them, sniffing them…. So this loudmouth says, “TONIGHT, Carl.” After that, it went pretty quickly. Presents greeted with delight included: a dry-erase magnetic board for noting story ideas, a favorite book passed along to a new reader, and a “lump of coal” (chocolate) in an elegant glass candy dish.

A phone call came from one of our absent ones, so we got to say hi, anyway.

A fine time was had by all. We’re looking forward to the new year, with new projects and plans.

Happy Holidays, from St. Nicholas’ day through Epiphany and so on. Or, as Buzz Lightyear would say, “To Epiphany… and beyond!

–The Loudmouth

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Signings On Black Friday and Beyond

Black Friday, November 28, 9:00 AM


The book signing at Magdalena’s Coffee Cafe on the Square in Corydon would have begun in timely fashion if the books had been there. But these books have minds of their own, you know, being as the featured publication was Ghosts On the Square…and Elsewhere. Our latest, and highly successful, collection of ghost stories was published in October 2008 featuring tales of hauntings, not only along Corydon’s square, but other unlikely places in Harrison County, Indiana. We had featured it in the October Ghost Walk in Corydon written about previously in this blog. Anyway, the books arrived simultaneously along with two authors and a display table, ten minutes late, so we got set up pronto.


Magdalena’s was kind enough to offer the writers free coffee and tea, just for being who we are: The Southern Indiana Writers. Five of us showed up, the others went shopping or had family in town since it was the day after Thanksgiving, after all.

Several customers came in that morning, many of them looked over our wares and a few made a purchase or two. We had a fun time, like we always do, and some of us learned some new tricks. Joanna Foreman, for instance, had never played Scrabble. (Why would a writer even publicly admit such a thing?) On top of that, she proclaimed she wasn’t good with words. And she calls herself a writer! She plopped herself on a beautiful leather couch in front of the fireplace and played the game with her granddaughter. I’ll give you one guess who won. The 11-year old!pinkie-kicks-back

Another interesting twist that morning: a man who calls himself Butchie was seated in the front window, playing guitar, adding to the genuine cozy atmosphere of the coffee shop. Butchie, with his permission, appears in Marian Allen’s “A Love Song for Pythias”.

After the signing, a few of us shopped in the unique boutiques in downtown Corydon. A couple of days after that, Marian Allen visited the Visitor’s Information Center, where they were thrilled to see her with the books. Seems that many people have stopped by in recent days asking where they could acquire a copy. So it appears that Ghosts on the Square…and Elsewhere will be available there for purchase for quite some time to come.


Saturday, December 13, 1-4

Three of us made it to the signing at the Harrison County Public Library. Everybody else was busy, ill, without transport, and various combinations of the above. We had a good day, nevertheless.  Sold some books and met a local author of gritty noir stories set in this area. I have blurred his features in order to protect him. Of course, it isn’t much protection, since I’m going to give him a shout-out: his name is FRANK BILL! If you like your fiction visceral, you’ll love his stuff. Even if you don’t like your fiction visceral, he’s so good you’ll want to read his prose anyway.


As Joanna said, our GHOSTS book is available at the Corydon Visitor’s Center, and (along with many of our other anthologies) also online from electronic booksellers and by order through independent booksellers, and through our publisher/printer, Lulu.