The Amazing Lily Library

I mentioned my visit to the Lilly Library in conjunction with the From Gillette to Brett Sherlock Holmes conference, and how amazing it was. Today I’ll tell you exactly why it was amazing.

First, a bit on the Lilly Library itself. Lilly Pharmaceuticals is of course a household name (you’ve heard of Prozac, right? Or Cialis?), and the Lillys have traditionally been generous. Josiah K. Lilly was a collector of stamps, coins, rare books, and more. In the late 1950s he donated more than 20,000 books and 17,000 manuscripts to the university, which became the foundation for what is now a major rare book and manuscript library.

Inverted Jenny

Inverted Jenny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I took notes because my brain couldn’t retain all the fascinating facts being explained. J.K. Lilly’s stamp collection was so large and so significant, at 77,000 pieces, that since its breaking up and sale, there’s not a major collection in the world which does not contain Lilly stamps. To give you an idea of the caliber of the collection… You’ve probably heard of the Inverted Jenny, the 1918 stamp on which the plane was printed upside down? Only 100 of these erroneous stamps were recovered and they are among the most prized. Mr. Lilly had a corner block of four. Continue reading

Story Ideas from Life

ghostly hands translucent over keyboardSo, where do story ideas come from? For many writers, it’s stuff like this.

I live in the middle of acreage, surrounded by fields. No one could possibly reach our wi-fi, but it’s encrypted anyway. A thunderstorm darkened the sky and knocked out the power, so in the dim light I turned on my phone’s mobile hotspot to quickly save the blog post I was working on.

Alone in my house, thunder rolling, I glanced down at the phone screen and saw, “Two connected users.”

SPOILER: I’m okay, and there was no internet ghost or wi-fi burglar in my house. It turned out the tablet I’d used for notes at the weekend’s conference was still powered on and open to wi-fi. But it’s a good start for a story, you think?

Sherlock Holmes: Books, Basil, Benedict

Arthur Conan Doyle Español: Arthur Conan Doyle...

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This weekend I attended a nerdy conference. (What? I like nerdy conferences. I like nerdy stuff. I even like documentaries — the old informative kind, not the useless new History Channel kind.) This was a Sherlock Holmes conference, From Gillette to Brett: Basil, Benedict, and Beyond, focusing specifically on film, television, and radio adaptations of the Holmes canon.

But it wasn’t all just sitting around and listening to lectures, though of course we had those.
Continue reading

Ask the Author and S’Mores

The water was a lot of dead algae and also a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

The water was a lot of dead algae and also (not pictured) a thick pancake batter-like sludgy foam. Yech.

So, I missed the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference last weekend, and I feel pretty bad about that. I’ve been to the Colorado Gold only once, last year, but I really enjoyed the people I met there and the conference sessions themselves.

We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

Dead fish everywhere. We should maybe rethink some of our environmental stewardship choices.

But I did get to spend a weekend at another (non-writing) event with friends, being eaten by mosquitos beside the highly questionable waters of Maumee Bay and Lake Erie, so that was some consolation. The tap water was officially safe again, but the lake water, not so much. I’ll let you know if the pollution-affected mutant mosquito bites turn out to have imbued me with superpowers. We can always hope. Continue reading

The TASTE of Montgomery County, a tasty fundraiser

Every year the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum hosts this fundraiser designed especially for people who like to eat. Like me. This was only my second year to attend, but wow, I wished I’d brought a couple of extra stomachs.

The TASTE features a lineup of nearly 20 local restaurants and caterers bringing their A-game to the study grounds. For very reasonable prices, you can buy little (and not so little) samples of fabulous foods. And by “reasonable,” I mean nothing costs more than $4, lots of items are $1, and many of those big-ticket items could be meals in themselves, if you didn’t need to save room to sample everything else. Continue reading

The Fairy Midwife – a FAE interview

FaeTo celebrate the recent release of Fae, an anthology of fairy tales like you haven’t seen them, some of the anthology authors are taking turns interviewing one another. Today I have the pleasuring of sharing a virtual chat with Shannon Phillips, author of “The Fairy Midwife.” Continue reading

A FAE Fried Pork Tenderloin

the sign of the Steer-In restaurant, featuring a horned steer in a convertible

The Steer-In, east Indianapolis

So I didn’t get to have any special-occasion mead or chocolate or anything for the release of Fae two days ago, so when I was invited to lunch yesterday I wanted it to be slightly celebratory. My friend Emi hadn’t had a traditional Hoosier fried pork tenderloin sandwich as mentioned in the story, and Mark and Alena were willing, so we all headed to the Steer-In.

I’d been to the Steer-In only once, but it is of a type quite common in Indiana, and it’s a local classic. It’s often voted to the top of pork tenderloin lists, so it seemed a good choice. And for those who haven’t been to a traditional Indiana drive-in (many of which no longer serve to the car, or never did, but are still known as drive-ins), here’s a typical specimen. Continue reading

a review: Blade of the Samurai

Cover of Blade of the Samurai, by Susan Spann, a Shinobi MysteryLast night I dreamt of Faery. Thanks to everyone who came to the virtual release party and/or acquired Fae!

In other news, I had the woot-factor of winning a copy of Blade of the Samurai by Susan Spann (released July 15, 2014), and I award it 4.5 stars!

One thing Susan Spann does well — and I can’t believe how fashionably correct this is going to sound, but it’s true — is to write marginalized characters who act powerfully. In Claws of the Cat it was a woman taking a man’s role in society; in Blade of the Samurai it’s a boy on the cusp of genpuku (ceremonial coming of age). Neither is an adult male in this hierarchal patriarchy, yet both are active and interesting characters. I’m taking notes. Continue reading