Tag Archives: Arcanum Faire

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Joust

This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.

I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell  my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town.  2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.

I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.

That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.

Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me.  Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.

At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)

Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.

The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.

There were no food trucks.

I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.

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Storming the ConFusion

I have been home sick today. I hope this will not prevent me from attending ConFusion this weekend, as I could not attend for the same reason last year. I am doing better, and expect to do better this Friday . If you happen to be in the Detroit neighborhood this weekend, you can catch me at one of these multiples panels.

Friday 6 pm.

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance have a lot in common: mythical creatures in modern settings, noir and crime fiction aesthetics, and, often, romantic plotlines. What distinguishes the two genres, and where to they overlap? How do they use their common elements to create different goals?

Jennifer Blackstream (M), Andrew M. ‘Fish’ Popowich, Josef Matulich, Michael Cieslak, Delilah Dawson

Saturday 11 am.

Applying the Social Model of Disability to Genre Worldbuilding

The social model of disability holds that whatever someone’s physical traits, what renders a person disabled are physical and social structures not built to accommodate them. In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen’s six fingers don’t impede his swordsmanship–the fact that swords aren’t built for his hand does. In the real world, what limits a wheelchair driver’s freedom isn’t their wheelchair, but spaces that aren’t built for wheelchair access. We’ll discuss how to incorporate the social model of disability into fantasy and science fiction world-building to build fictional worlds where people with wide ranges of physical traits and abilities have agency and self-determination, and talk about our favorite fictional worlds that are doing this right.

Josef Matulich (M), Jordan Kurella, Sandee Rodriguez, Petra Kuppers

Saturday 12 pm.

How To Storm A Castle: Pre-Industrial Defenses Around The World

How, precisely, do you storm a castle? Join our panel to discuss pre-industrial building defenses, their strengths and vulnerabilities, and how to get past them if you need to defeat the evil prince within.

Chris Bell (M), Josef Matulich, Scott H. Andrews, Ada Palmer

Saturday 3 pm. 

Autograph Session (I will have all my Arcanum Faire books with me)

Ada Palmer, Angus Watson, Anthony W. Eichenlaub, Cat Rambo, Diana Rowland, Dyrk Ashton, Jason Sanford, Joe R. Lansdale, Josef Matulich, Keith Hughes, Lucy A. Snyder, Mackenzie Flohr, Mark Oshiro, Michael R. Underwood, Mur Lafferty, Stacey Filak, Tracy Townsend

Saturday 4 pm. 

Reading (I will give the audience their choice of two WIPs: Killer GMO Squirrels, or Chinese Air Pirates.

Tracy Townsend, Josef Matulich, Mackenzie Flohr

Sunday 2 pm.

Expanding The Definition of Witchcraft

Witchcraft in fiction often taps into real world tragedies, myths and folklore, spiritual practices, sexuality and gender treatment through the lens of Western occultism. Witchcraft, however, is more than riding brooms or dancing naked. Panelists will explore the definition of witch and then provide examples of witches through underrepresented lenses.

Monica Valentinelli (M), Josef Matulich, Paul Kemner, A. Carina Spears

I hope to see you all there!

 

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Thanksgiving in Arcanum

Gratitude is not a strictly Christian virtue, and even the vegan Wiccans of Arcanum like to gather their loved ones for a Thanksgiving feast. This is an excerpt from my second novel “Power Tools in the Sacred Grove” that shows Brenwyn’s Thanksgiving while Marc recuperates after being trounced by a invisible tentacle demon.

MARC LOOKED ON WITH ADMIRATION as Brenwyn laid out the complete Thanksgiving dinner across the range and counters. It totaled a dozen courses and appetizers in glittering cut glass serving dishes. He couldn’t remember all of the proposed items, but he recognized the vegetable trays, cream of pumpkin soup and vegan stuffing made with oyster mushrooms. Brenwyn even made a few vegan Mexican dishes he never heard of before, including something made of peppers and prickly pears.

It wasn’t just her prodigious cooking achievements he admired. For the last week and a half, Brenwyn had been wearing incredibly modest clothing: high neck sweaters, loose pants, and flannel PJs at night. Tonight, she was wearing a more characteristic bohemian skirt along with a tight bodice and a low-cut top worthy of a serving wench. The sight was definitely something to make him feel thankful.

Michael and Eleazar upheld their end of Thanksgiving tradition by sitting in the living room and playing cards. Brenwyn didn’t seem to mind. She did a final mop-up around the sink and looked up at Marc.

“Tell me again that you are not horribly disappointed with a vegetarian Thanksgiving?”

She had promised him red meat, but he hadn’t delivered on his end of the bargain. He still walked with a cane, if only for the moments that his strength suddenly gave out.

“As long as it’s home-cooking,” he reassured her, “I’m thrilled.”

Eleazar called out from the living room:

“And some hapless bird is alive because of your humane actions.”

“The corporate farms set their kill quotas on projected demand.” Michael carefully studied his cards, not looking up as he popped Eleazar’s balloon. “No matter what, that turkey’s going to die.”

“At least we will not have their bad karma to bear,” Brenwyn said with a smile and a nod. She carried the first of the serving trays over to the dining room table.

“A little bad karma is good for you,” Eleazar said. “Nothing like a hint of damnation to add spice to life.”

“Then your love life must be like Szechuan cooking.” Michael looked at Eleazar with an expression that was either disgust or exasperation. “If you were shot by an angry husband today, would you go to Heaven? Or would your soul just take the express elevator to Hell?”

“Don’t talk to me about damned for your love life,” Eleazar countered. “According to the Old Testament, decent people should be throwing rocks at you.”

Brenwyn returned to the kitchen for a second trip. She raised her eyebrows in amusement as she passed Marc. He merely shook his head, having heard this argument a dozen times before.

“Good thing for me there are no decent people here,” Michael said.

“Michael,” Marc growled in a low warning tone.

Michael looked first at Marc, then at Brenwyn, and he cringed.

“At the card table,” Michael said. “Sorry, Brenwyn.”

“No need for apologies, Michael.” Brenwyn was being especially gracious today.

“Could you cut out the Judeo-Christian dogma?” Marc asked with a shudder. “Makes my skin crawl.”

“Fear not, milord,” Eleazar declaimed. “Brenwyn’s karma will run over our dogma. It was a just a stray dogma anyway.”

Brenwyn shook her head as she ferried more plates to the dining room.

“Perhaps you could finish your game and wash up?” she said. “I shall be setting out the main course shortly.”

“Excellent!” Michael said. “Oh, I almost forgot.” Michael picked up a card and laid down his hand. “Gin! I’m going to the bathroom, now.”

Michael stood and turned to leave.

“You’ve done me in again, you varlet!” Eleazar slapped down his cards in frustration. “What do I owe you now?”

“A week’s laundry,” Michael said as he turned the corner into the hall. “No reds with lights this time.”

“I told you that was an accident,” Eleazar called after him. “Besides, you look good in pink, milord.”

Brenwyn came over to Marc and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Thank you.”

“What for?” Marc didn’t think he’d done anything worthy of her gratitude, though he would take it.

“Protecting my sensibilities. Defending my honor,” she said. “It is very sweet.”

“Chivalry is not dead—it just feels that way.” Standing for several minutes, even with his cane, had his legs and back complaining. “You’re sure I can’t help with anything?”

“You can go sit down and wait for dinner.”

“I feel so useless.” Though it sounded like a great idea to his legs, he couldn’t just surrender.

“You are not useless,” she said, stroking his cheek. “You are decorative.”

“I love you too, but—”

Brenwyn cut him off short: “But your self-worth and male ego are dependent on what you can do, not who you are. Forget about it, beloved.”

“I can’t just forget.”

“Then suppress and sublimate,” she said, “as you do with your other manly impulses.”

“I’ll try.”

“Good,” she said as she scooped up the vegan antipasto platter. “Now, sit down before I take away your cane.”

#

Brenwyn glided in with the last two trays of vegetables and set them in front of Eleazar. As she returned to the kitchen, he squeezed a black olive from the tray onto his pinkie. He waved that at Michael like a finger puppet and then sucked it off his finger with a pop. Michael looked to the heavens for guidance.

With the two ‘children’ seated to his left, it felt like a real family to Marc, with all its bad and good. Brenwyn had gone all out, decorating the table and the dining room with wheat, corn, pomegranates, and apples. Stars and Brigid’s crosses made of the wheat straw took the place of the construction paper turkeys he grew up with.

“Prepare yourselves for the guest of honor,” Brenwyn called from the kitchen.

She returned with the vegan turkey breast on a garnished tray. Six drumsticks, also synthetic, stuck out of the turkey-like object. Brenwyn set the tray down to polite applause and seated herself at Marc’s right.

“Wow, six legs,” Michael said. “You don’t get that with a farm-raised turkey.”

“Maybe a Chernobyl chicken,” Eleazar quipped.

Brenwyn pointed to the large fork and carving knife set beside Marc’s place at the table.

“Would you care to do the honors?” she asked.

“Certainly.” Marc stood to perform his Thanksgiving duties. “Dark tofu or light?”

The others started passing around serving platters and filling their plates as Marc carved.

“I hope you all like this,” Brenwyn said. “It is my own concoction. The commercial turkey replacements all taste too—artificial.”

“I’m sure it will all be most appetizing,” said Eleazar. “Pass the simulated gravy, please.”

Michael looked awkwardly around the table.

“Excuse me,” he said. “This may sound really uncool, but isn’t somebody going to say grace?”

Eleazar looked as uncomfortable as Marc felt. Brenwyn smiled, looking just the slightest bit amused.

“I don’t think I’m—” Marc started to say.

“Well, I’m not either,” Eleazar blurted.

“Well, it just seems wrong not to give thanks,” Michael said. “At least, for this terrific meal. And I’m agnostic.”

“Thank you,” Brenwyn said with a nod. “I could say a few words. If you could endure a Wiccan blessing over a vegan turkey?”

“Sounds just about right to me,” Marc said.

“Let me think for a moment.” Brenwyn put a finger to her lips in silent thought. “How about this?

We thank you Goddess for your world’s gifts:

the beasts, the plants, the sea.

For all dear friends and all we are

and the strength to be what we must be.’”

“You made that up just now?” Michael was openly impressed.

“Not my best work,” she said with a self-effacing shrug. “But poetry and casting spells, they are the same thing: stringing together words to get the desired effect.”

“Cooking. Poetry,” Michael said. “I never realized you had so many hidden talents.”

Marc started carving the main course rather than attend to another man’s unbridled founts of love for Brenwyn.

“You’d better keep an eye on her, milord,” Eleazar said with a wink and a verbal nudge, “or I might try to steal her away from you.”

Marc’s hand tightened unconsciously on the knife handle. He slipped the blade under a slice of faux turkey and flipped the tofu and sprout amalgam across the table to land on Eleazar’s plate.

“Here, eat up,” Marc grumbled, “so you can compliment her cooking, too.”

Marc lofted another slice farther down the table to land on Michael’s plate. Brenwyn held up her plate to discourage any more aerobatics. Marc placed the six drumsticks on a platter and offered it to her. Brenwyn nodded her approval.

“You’ve got to try the cranberries,” Eleazar said through half a mouth full. “They’re most delectable, milord.”

Eleazar quickly brought a hand up to catch the food falling from his mouth.

“No more sincere compliment than that, I guess,” Marc said.

“Is everything all right, Marc?” Michael asked after a long sideways glance at Marc. “You seem tense.”

“No,” Marc grunted. “No, I’m fine.”

“You were about to splinter that knife handle,” Eleazar pointed out. “That’s either tension, milord, or lockjaw’s setting in.”

“It’s just the holidays,” Marc replied. “Don’t worry about me.”

Brenwyn looked knowingly at Marc.

“Marc comes from a family,” Brenwyn explained, “whose every gathering starts with petty bickering and escalates to a drunken row over the pumpkin pie.”

“We must be related. I have the same family.” Michael visibly twitched, probably thinking about his own last family Thanksgiving dinner.

“Mine, too.” Eleazar seemed paler, too.

“I am surprised that you are not with your family today, Eleazar,” Brenwyn said.

“I didn’t know you could be surprised,” Eleazar said.

“Disappointed, then,” Brenwyn said. “Do you not think that Alice misses you?”

“Not in the least,” Eleazar replied. “As long as a significant portion of my paycheck appears in her accounts, she is satisfied.”

“You see,” Michael said with undisguised glee, “he gets to pay alimony without the messy paperwork of a divorce.”

“You could be free to find happiness with someone else,” Brenwyn told Eleazar. “Are you frightened by that?”

“I’m afraid of Alice,” Eleazar said. “She’s this unpleasant to me now; imagine what a divorce could be like.”

Marc could tell that all three men played out that scenario in their heads. A dreadful silence fell over the room.

“Well, don’t let your food get cold,” Brenwyn said to break the silence. “As my grandmother would say: ‘Eat, you look skinny!’”

The three men laid into the feast without another word.

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Don’t Buy My Book, Vote For My Cover…

AllAuthor regularly has Cover of the Month competitions, and my latest book is in September’s. This is not really a reflection on me, but on the great artist Philip R. Rogers and my publisher Eric Beebe of Post Mortem Press. Vote for them and vote repeatedly. You don’t have to be registered with AllAuthor to vote in the initials. Do it for the power tools, and for the anvils.

RFEWtitle

https://allauthor.com/cover-of-the-month/2359/

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Bexley Local Author Festival

Just a reminder: I will be at the Bexley Local Author Festival this afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm today. I will only have my “Camp Arcanum” books with me as Gramercy Books is handling all sales and more than one book for each of the authors would be more complex than necessary for such a short event. However, for those of you that have already ready the first book of my Arcanum Faire trilogy, there is good news. Gramercy books is right across the street from the library and they are in possession of “Power Tools in the Sacred Grove”, and “The Ren Faire at the End of the World”. You can whisk across the street, acquire the not-quite-sacred texts, and be back in the auditorium for me to personalize them for you.

As always, you can still get any of my books online, or from the back of the car if you catch me in the right parking lot. Hope to see you all there!

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Once More into the Breech

Next weekend, I will have the great honor of Attending the Bexley Local Author Fest with 59 other talented local authors. We will be signing & schmoozing at the Bexley Public Library, 2411 E Main St, Columbus, OH 43209 between 2 & 4pm Sunday August 26th. I will have all my Arcanum Faire books and fresh pens.

Saturday, September 8, 10 am to 3 pm, I will be in the Author Alley adjacent to Keystone Books & Gifts, 138 W. Main St., Circleville, Ohio 43113. I’ll be the mustachioed man with a hat under the Kermit green tent.

To top off the late fall festivities, I will be at Imaginarium in Louisville KY on the weekend of October 5-7. Further details will be posted on their website. The link is below:

https://www.entertheimaginarium.com/

#BexLocalAuthorFest

https://www.facebook.com/events/166823380611555/

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Sex, Magick & … WTF CBS?

Good thing I started doubling up on my antidepressants this week.

I was on Twitter, as I am often wont to do when there are more productive things to do in the morning, when I came across an advert for the latest project appearing on CBS All Access. It was “Strange Angel”, the partially true story of the founder of JPL and follower of Aleister Crowley (just as Jeremiah Stone is in Arcanum Faire). Okay, sounds frothy and fun and things will most likely blow up good in the end.

But the tag line they used in the trailer…

“Sex, Magick, and Rocket Science”?

For my dozens of fans out there, this is a recognizable phrase. I have been describing the Arcanum Faire books as “A comedy of Sex, Magick, and Power Tools” for five years, now. And it’s not like it is only written on the underside of a rock in a sugar beet field in Elk Grove CA. You can find it here:

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/122949

and here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25217904-power-tools-in-the-sacred-grove

and even here:

It’s quite possible that the bright young person responsible, because they’re all bright and young in Hollywood PR, came across my tagline and said “Hey, what a great idea! I’m sure that Matlick guy will be flattered if we copy it!” Consider the ten-thousand variations of “Where’s the Beef?”

Well, I’m irritated, but realistic about it. You can’t really copyright a tagline, though with some effort and cash you can trademark it. And even if there was legal recourse, CBS has enough lawyers to beat a Mastadon to death with teaspoons. There’s not much I can do but fill the cybersphere with my own hashtags to slipstream the wake of this well-funded vessel. So here we go:

#SexMagick&PowerTools

#ArcanumFaire

Care to join me?

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What Kirkus says about my book:

I got Kirkus to take a look at the final volume of my Arcanum Faire trilogy, The Ren Faire at the End of the World. I am proud to say they liked it. I think you’ll like it, too.

 

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this final installment of a comical trilogy, a contractor faces zombies and other obstacles while trying to build a Renaissance faire.

Marc Sindri is constructing a permanent Renaissance faire in Arcanum, Ohio. Marc may be a skilled contractor, but his current assignment is anything but easy. To say that the work site has been awash with witchcraft, sex, and conflicting personalities would be an understatement. Book 3 begins in February, and with the planned opening of the faire in May, time is rapidly working against Marc. His first hurdle comes in the form of an angry phone call from one Jeremiah Stone II, who wants to know who stole his son’s body from the family mausoleum. Marc was certainly no friend of the caller’s son (also named Jeremiah), but he has nothing to do with the missing corpse. Marc soon finds himself fighting a reanimated version of the deceased in order to save his beautiful girlfriend, the witch Brenwyn. But this battle is merely the beginning of Marc’s struggles against the undead, as the area around the faire is infested with zombie rabbits and other unsettling creatures. Then there is the foreboding moment when, during a ritual between Marc and Brenwyn, it is predicted that the faire’s opening will be disastrous. Marc and his cohorts see themselves through their trials with abundant sexual innuendoes (one woman smiles at the idea of being “well-drilled”) and occasional wordplay (a character named Eleazer remarks: “I do not have a jealous bone in my body, milady, not even a bit of envious cartilage”). The result is a story that is more zany than clever, albeit with enough action to keep the wackiness from becoming dull. Whether it is naked witches performing a ritual or humans slashing at zombie animals, something is always happening. Readers may question certain details in Matulich’s (Power Tools in the Sacred Grove, 2015, etc.) novel, such as how Eleazer, who is supposedly successful at seducing women and uses terms like “milady” constantly, can talk to anyone without getting a good thrashing. But whether or not the faire comes together as a great success or failure, there is excitement in finding out how all the dust (and blood and amulets) will settle.

While unapologetically over-the-top, this supernatural tale maintains a fervent, magical pace.

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A bouncy little minute…

I don’t think book trailers are absolutely necessary for a book’s success, but it is one tool in the kit. They aren’t worth the fees some production houses are asking, though. This afternoon, I created a video on my PC. Here it is. Try not to panic.

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The Time of Sex, Magick, and Power Tools is Ending

My third book in the Arcanum Faire trilogy, The Ren Faire at the End of the World, is now live as an ebook on Amazon. Other venues to activate shortly. You can see at the link below.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077MG44CZ

It is a little sad to leave the town of Arcanum, OH and its whacko inhabitants after over a decade. but there are new adventures to chronicle. I am nearly done with my tale of the Squirrel Apocalypse. After that, I attack my non-eurocentric steampunk series.

For those of you who are Netgalley accredited reviewers, the second book of Arcanum Faire, Power Tools in the Sacred Grove, is available for request/download. With luck I will be able to upload RFEW to be available December 1.

https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/125017

 

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