Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Sexiest Men?

While falling asleep last night, I got to thinking about a conversation I had with a friend.  She couldn’t really name any celebrity men she found attractive.  I kept coming up with names of guys I like, but she’d just shake her head.  We finally came up with one actor, but only in a specific role.

Last night, I got to thinking about mine, and I narrowed it down to four.  The Top Four, the only celebrity guys who always make me swoon no matter what role they’re in.  I always thought Ryan Gosling was at the top…turns out when I really think about it, he’s not.  Same with Jason Statham, David Tennant, and Alan Rickman – they are very near the top, but not quite at the top.

I even tried to come up with another guy, just so I could have a nice sensible five, but I couldn’t do it.   So who are these swoon-worthy men of mine?  In no particular order, they are:

Jason Isaacs.


Robert Brown

Mark Sheppard.

Neil Gaiman.

And once I had my short list, I got to wondering what is it, specifically, about these men that appeal to me so much.   It’s not their personal life or private personality, because I know absolutely nothing about Isaacs or Sheppard.  I don’t want to know, really.  Most of the time, celebrities disappoint me with their personal lives, so I make a point of not knowing anything.  I really don’t care who they vote for, or who they’re dating/married to, or what their favorite colors are.  When they aren’t on the screen, at a convention or other public event, or in some other way working, their lives are their business.   Not mine.

The exceptions are, of course, the celebrities who chose to open up sections of their personal lives and share with their fans.  Gaiman and Brown do this, and as a result, I know a very disproportionate amount about those two.  I know Gaiman raises bees and has two very handsome white German Shepherds.  I know who he’s married to, and I’ve grown to understand some of the reasons why they love each other.  I know Brown is very soft-hearted toward animals, and enraged and saddened by people who chose to be cruel.  I know he puts his family first, and I understand just enough of his childhood to know why that’s so very important to him.  So there are a few cases where I end up learning about a celebrity’s personal and inner life and find them admirable.  But that is definitely the exception, not the rule.  So that can’t be why they are on this list.

I’d say it’s their looks, except that in the case of Mark Sheppard, he’s not physically my ‘type’.  (A bit too short, a bit too bearded, a bit non-lanky.)  And there are *plenty* of men who absolutely fit my physical ideal who don’t even make the top 100.  So, after considerable thought, I’ve decided it comes down to a perfect mingling of two things: a certain twinkle in the eye, and that voice.

Yes.  The way to my heart is definitely through my ears.  And that’s why I included video clips…go listen….

So what about you?  Which celebrity men are you most attracted to, and why?

Best Books of 2010

I read.  I read fast, and I read a lot, and I read many varied things.   This year I read 135 books, so from among those, here’s my list of the very best.  (You’re welcome to  check out my full reading list on goodreads.com, right here.)

So, in no particular order:

1) Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King.  Great collection of short stories and novellas.  What Stephen does well is make you care, then rip your heart out.  Bah humbug on anyone who says he’s a “genre writer”.  He’s a master, pure and simple.

2) Anasi Boys, by Neil Gaiman.  I’ve held out on reading this one for a long, long time, because I couldn’t bring myself to squander the ‘first read’ of this book.  I knew it would be brilliant, because Neil always is, and I knew it would break my heart a little to never again be able to read it for the first time.

3) I Am Not a Serial Killer, by John Cleaver.  I have waited for this book my entire life.  Seriously…this is the book I always wished someone would write.  The only thing that kept it from being 100% perfect was the author’s decision to take the second half in a supernatural direction.  We don’t really need imaginary monsters when we’ve got real ones.  But.  Still so wonderful.

4) The Way of Boys, by Anthony Rao.  Non-fiction.  Everyone who has a boy, knows a boy, or has ever seen a boy needs to read this.

5) Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok.  Loved this, gave it to my mother to read, and she loved it too.  You don’t know how amazing that is, but it basically proves that there is no one on this planet who would not love this book.

6) The Temeraire Series, by Naomi Novak.  Okay, I’m cheating a little here, but I’m not listing an individual book.  But this is brilliantly done fantasy, and I couldn’t single out a single title when they all deserve mention.  If you love dragons, you’ll love this series.  If you hate dragons, or are so sick of seeing them in fantasy books you want to breathe fire, you’ll love this series.  If you love fantasy, it’s a given you’ll love this, but you don’t have to love fantasy, because it’s basically not even fantasy at all, but historial fiction.  Whoever you are, and whatever you like, give the first book a try.  I can nearly guarantee within the first few chapters you’ll be hooked.  Thank you, Sara, for giving me the push to read this!

7) World War Z, by Max Brooks.  Remember what I just said above about liking/hating dragons in fiction?  Replace ‘dragons’ with ‘zombies’ and you’ll have the description for why you’ll love World War Z.

8 ) The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan.  Our food production has gone to hell in a handbasket, and unless something is done very very soon to change things, we’re all going to be in deep, deep trouble.

9) Wild Stories, by Colin Thompson.  Children’s stories about the wild and domestic life that lives in one house and backyard.  It brought me to tears many times, and completely charmed me at the same time.  It should be a classic.

10) The Passage, by Justin Cronin.  Intense and well-written.

11) Dragon Keeper/Dragon Haven, by Robin Hobb.  Robin Hobb is one of the top five current fantasy writers.  This is an awesome two-book series, bringing us all back to the “Rain Wild” world we’ve loved since her first series. She does some of the best world-building ever.

12) Ottoman Women Myth & Reality, by Asli Sancar.  Truly interesting non-fiction book that blew my old perceptions of what life was like to be a woman (or a slave) under the Ottoman Empire to smithereens.

13) The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson.  Neil Gaiman and Brandon Sanderson are hands-down the two best writers of fantasy alive today.

And there you have it, my most unforgettable reads of 2010!

Book Snobbery

Someone I know asked how I liked this YA book she knew I’d been reading.  When I shrugged and said that the plot had sounded really good, but the book hadn’t lived up to my hopes for it, she said:  “I bet you wish someone would re-write it for adults.”

At the time I let it go, but the more I think about it, the more this sort of “adult book snobbery” is starting to offend me.  I see examples of it all the time, people who come into the library and ask for a specific book, but when I lead them to the Young Adult section, say “Oh, I didn’t know it was a kid’s book” and leave without it, automatically assuming (like the woman in the first example) that books written with children in mind are somehow below par.   And sometimes they are, of course; there are sub-standard books written for children every day and an unfortunate number of them are published.  But there are also plenty of sub-standard books written for adults. A good, well-written story cannot be predicted by which side of the library it’s shelved on.

Thankfully, but gradually, this perception is beginning to change.  Look at the success of Harry Potter; whole families (including grandparents) all reading and loving the same series of books.  Lest the adults who shy away from “children’s fiction” be embarrassed to be caught reading them, the publishers even came out with an “adult version” of Harry Potter – the same book, only with a less childish cover!  And now there’s the success of The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman.  When he turned the manuscript in to his publishers, they didn’t know what to do with it; was it for children?  For adults?  Which side of the Great Divide was it to shelved on?  Finally, they came out with multiple versions of the exact same book, ones to be shelved with the adult books, and ones to be shelved with the children’s fiction.

One of my favorite quotes by C.S. Lewis states: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest,” and this is absolutely true.  No, I don’t wish that YA book I didn’t enjoy was ‘re-written for adults’.  I wish it had been written well, period.

“You have to write the book that wants to be written.  And if the book will be too difficult for grownups, then you write it for children.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

“Writing for children is bloody difficult; books for children are as complex as their adult counterparts, and they should therefore be accorded the same respect.”

– Mark Haddon

“You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults.  Only better.”

– Maxim Gorky

“There are good books which are only for adults, because their comprehension presupposes adult experiences, but there are no good books which are only for children.”

– W. H. Auden

Neil Gaiman


Short answer?


Long answer?

Yes, please. (With lots of semi-coherent mumbling, blushing, and some embarrassing swooning.)

Gaiman stamps/mini stories

Copied from Neil Gaiman’s blog, because this is insanely cool if you like stamps, mythology, or Gaiman:

I mentioned here before that Dave McKean painted some Royal Mail stamps based around the myths of the British Isles. They look like this:


(The last one, of a Mab-like fairy, was originally going to be a banshee, but then someone realised that the first time someone got a letter telling them bad news, in an envelope with a banshee stamp on it, it would be seen as a Stamp of Ill-Omen.)

The Royal Mail asked me to do something to go along with them, and seeing that I get very requests from Royal organizations, I agreed: my job was to write VERY short stories, one for each stamp, for the presentation pack. And my self-assigned job while I did it was to try and make the stories, the images and the stamps peculiarly British — why a fire-breathing Dragon rather than a good English Wyrm? And how do I get British with Unicorns?

The Royal Mail have just put the stamps (and the presentation pack, and the First Day Covers) on sale for pre-orders. Wherever you are in the world, you can order it from them directly: Lots of lovely Dave McKean art, some of it much bigger than stamp size.

This is the link to the presentation pack.

This is the link to the whole Mythical Creatures area of the website.

And on Twitter I learned that the Royal Mail solution, if anyone asks, is to enter US phone # as follows: 01 0 617 1234567. (I assume that the 01 would be whatever your local country code would be if you are not in the US.)

The Tweet of Disappearing Authors

I was doing my daily check of author Neil Gaiman’s blog (for those of you who don’t know, he’s funny, witty, very down-to-earth, and his blog is frequently charming in a number of different ways), and discovered he’d answered an interesting letter from a fan.

The fan wanted to know if Neil thought that author George RR Martin was breaking faith with his fans by not publishing (as of yet) the next book in Martin’s epic series.  The fan wanted to know whether – in this age of Twitter, blogs, and Facebook – George RR Martin has a responsibility to keep his fans informed on his writing progress.

Neil’s answer (short version):  George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.


Which made me laugh, because while I too am awaiting the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m also a writer.  And I understand how these things go, how you can’t always put a noose around your muse’s neck and drag her to your laptop.  And I can only imagine how annoying all those rabid fan emails must be, baying for the blood of your next-born novel.

But still.  If an author has made the effort to reach out to his fans via a blog or tweets, and if he knows he’s waaaay past his publishing deadline, wouldn’t it be at least common courtesy to let the fans know what’s happening?  I haven’t been following George RR Martin’s blog all that much, so I really don’t know what he’s done to notify the fans, but I’m thinking of another author here: Scott Lynch (whose book I am honestly more excited about than Martin’s).  Scott built up a relationship with his fans, answered letters, replied to comments on his livejournal, and then missed two book deadlines and…dropped off the face of the earth.  Completely gone.  As in nothing left to Google.

I really, really, don’t think I’m asking him to be my bitch because I’d like to know whether he’s still alive.  If he’s got personal stuff going on, fine.  He doesn’t have to go into detail – or any sort of detail at all.  But a brief note saying he’s alive would be nice.  Which, yes, he finally did – two years after his infamous hungover livejournal post (which led to all sorts of speculation that he had dropped of alcohol poisoning, that he had fallen to WarCrack, and all sorts of even more outlandish fates).

So please, to you authors out there with personal traumas, stubborn muses, or general visibility issues….just a little tweet next time before you disappear?

Total Girly Post.

I don’t use colorful eye shadow, but I’ve always admired it.



I found this website that sells these totally bright, totally cool colors, and I got to thinking: This is surely the makeup that faeries and elves wear. And that made me realize I need some, to wear with my next faerie costume. So now the only decision is which colors to get! Luckily, I have almost a year to think about it….

And next we have Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs.

I’ve heard amazing things about their perfumed oils for years, but I’ve just now placed my first order for a sample pack of six “Imp’s Ears”. They have literally hundreds of different scents to choose between, and they all sound so intriguing. They even have perfumes based on Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, and yes….Neil Gaiman. (How many writers have perfumes made for the different characters in their books?) I resisted all of the Gaiman scents, though, largely because you can’t get those in samples.

Listen to a few of these descriptions:

The Sodom of the New World! — touted as the richest and wickedest city in all creation! Port Royal was the center of 17th century Caribbean commerce, a notorious safe harbor for pirates, and the site of our third flagship store, which was, sadly, destroyed in the earthquake of 1692. Spiced rum and ship’s wood mixed with the body-warmed trace of a prostitute’s perfume and a hint of salty sea air on the dry-down.


A decadent, deep perfume, lusty and luxuriant. The scent evokes images of velvet-lined Old West cathouses, tightly laced corsets, rustling petticoats and coquettish snarls of pleasure. Bawdy plum with amaretto, burgundy wine and black currant.


A brace of loaded pistols
He carried night and day;
He never robbed a poor man
Upon the king’s highway;
But what he’d taken from the rich,
Like Turpin and Black Bess,
He always did divide it
With the widow in distress.

Stand and deliver! Vetiver with gardenia, blood red rose, night-blooming jasmine, a dash of cinnamon and a faint hint of leather.

I’m honestly not sure whether these are perfumes, or adventures! Some of them are historical re-creations; they have a perfume that might have been what Catherine De Medici wore. And they have several Steampunk perfumes. It took me ages to winnow my choices down to six but here they are:

1) Hollywood Babylon

2) London

3) Blood Kiss

4) Highwayman (I couldn’t resist the description of the leather…)

5) Harlot

6) Bordello

Yes. Bordello was one of the chosen. I’m not a huge fan of pretty florals, I like my scents earthy and musky, full of spice and amber. If that means they have to be called names like “Harlot” and “Bordello”…. 😆

The Thump on my Front Porch

So right after I pressed the ‘publish’ button for that last entry, there was a lovely thump on my front porch.  I love such sounds, because it means the UPS guy is leaving me presents!  I opened the front door, and there’s a rather long, extremely thin package made out of a cardboard box that was collapsed, then re-taped back together in a custom-made shape.  It has my name on it.  Yay, me!

But I have no idea what it could be.  This is probably a sign that I do way too much online shopping.

Whoever wrapped it did an exceedingly painstaking job with the tape.  While I’m nearly slicing my hand open trying to get inside (it’s difficult to even figure out how the box opens, given the way it’s been re-made), I’m trying to remember what I recently ordered off ebay.  I can’t think of anything recent.  I can’t think of anything I’m expecting, from anyone, that could be this size and shape.  I’m very, very puzzled, but it’s feeling a bit like Christmas!

I succeed in getting one end open, and I pry it apart enough to look down inside.  I see something that looks like a book.  Which book could it possibly be?  The book refuses to slid out, and I have to cut more tape.  Finally it drops into my hand, and it’s….my signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust! I do a little jumping up and down dance, then take a peek inside the title page.  It’s signed in green ink, a name that looks something  like “Nei Gul”.  I guess this must have been one of those days when he signed something like a thousand copies and his hand was about to fall off!  Still, the book is awesome, it’s the illustrated edition, full of full color art – the two page spread showing the faerie market is gorgeously detailed.


I have a literary crush on Neil Gaiman.  Besides the fact that his novels for both children and adults are exceptional, he’s such a nice guy.  He’s not too busy or big for his fans, and it shows on his blog.  One of these days I’m going to try his Thanksgiving cranberry jelly.