A (Belated) Clive Barker Halloween Special

This Halloween, I found myself face to face with Clive Barker. One would think I would’ve blogged about it sooner.

The encounter involved a fetish club, a costume contest, and a broken branch antler.

I heard through reliable sources (a mess of flyers littering my Facebook feed) that Clive Barker was hosting a Halloween ball at Miss Kitty’s in Los Angeles, and that he would be judging a costume contest that night.

For once, I hadn’t procrastinated on my costume and actually took some pride in it, so I jumped at the opportunity and purchased a ticket to the event.

This is how events (and I) unravel…

Barker is nowhere to be seen when I arrive, but that isn’t a surprise. With celebrity hosted events said celebrity usually makes a brief “onstage” appearance. So Miss Kitty, an intimidating and queenly type, makes the rounds and personally handpicks contest participants. When she chooses me, I try to act all “whatevs” about it, but my giddy excitement is pretty obvious. She has all of the participants line up in the hall to wait and I’m scratching and slapping people with my branch antlers as they pass. I worry not that I’ll find a dislodged eyeball on one of my branches, but that someone will break the headpiece as they’re impaled by it.

Miss Kitty finally introduces Barker and, in a flash, I see someone all in white ushered onstage. This is when I get really nervous. I was a theater nerd in high school–it’s not like I’ve never stood on a stage in front of people, but being in a judged setting is a different matter, especially when the judge is a writer you respect and are inspired by (a heart defibrillator and years of intensive therapy would’ve been necessary had it been a contest on my writing as judged by the author in front of a large crowd).

Shortly after his entrance, I hear the announcer call the “Winter Witch” and I’m pulled up the stairs. As my foot hits the stage, the curtain latches onto my antlers and time stops. Something crunches and cracks on my head. I can almost hear the creak and whine of a redwood capsizing as my right antler begins to collapse. The base tears off the headpiece but I grab at the antler before it falls off completely and hold it in place as I head onto the stage. Disaster and recovery occur in the span of about three seconds.

Everyone’s clapping and shouting. I’m still in too much of a panic to even see Barker sitting on the throne downstage. All I can think about is how stupid I must look gripping the antler as I walk. A pageant smile emerges from I don’t know where and sets itself on my face as I march down the runway.

As I’m coming back around, resisting the desire to dash madly down the stairs leading off the stage, I’m directed to stand before Barker so he can get a good look at the costume. I walk up to him smiling like a clown, sweating like a pig, and curtsy. Of all things. I don’t know why, it just seems like the thing to do.

Then he nods and says, “That’s a really great costume.”

I WIN!!!!


…Actually, I lost to a Silent Hill nurse who did that creepy stilted walk. Ah well. I made it into the final round and Clive Barker complimented my costume. I consider that a win. (But don’t count on ever seeing me on ANTM.)

The Diagon Alley Next Door

Guess what I learned today guys?

This afternoon, I found out that I live only five minutes away from Diagon Alley. That’s right, I’ve just returned from a tete-a-tete about a broken wand with Ollivander, chugged a few Butterbeers and purchased my very own Marauder’s Map.

…Okay, that last part isn’t true. And maybe I’m gilding the lily a little with the rest. But I did decide to check out Whimsic Alley, a rather large store in Los Angeles designed to look just like Diagon Alley. Once you step in, it really is as if you’ve been transported into the world of Harry Potter.

Walking down the alley, you pass these little nooks. Each nook is a shop–like Ollivander’s and Honeydukes.

They had a bookstore with every kind of book you can find on Harry Potter. They even sold copies of The Casual Vacancy. I was tempted, but I already have quite the reading backlog.

I found Platform 9 3/4. I waited and waited, but the train never arrived.

I can’t believe it took me this long to check the place out. It really is a five-minute drive from my house.

Whimsic Alley holds an annual Yule Ball and a variety of special events. I’ll be returning for their Wizard Crafts Faire, November 10-11. Some lucky muggle child was having a birthday party in the private room. I think I know what I’m doing for my 31st.

Changing It Up

Maybe it’s because this blog celebrated its one-year anniversary a couple weeks ago. Maybe it’s because I also celebrated my 30th birthday a couple weeks ago.

Maybe I’m like a balding man in a neon, new Miata–a little bored, feeling that itch to move on to something newer and more exciting.

But instead of picking up that hot new number and abandoning my bonny old lass, I’m bringing something new to this blog.

I don’t believe in spending precious time on something for which I’ve lost my passion. Thankfully, I’m not entirely bored with blogging, but I do want to keep myself and, in effect, my readers entertained. I want to experiment a little. All the usual stuff will still be here–I’m just adding on.

It’s in the works and coming soon!

In other news, I had a great 30th. Aging isn’t so bad when you get to grow old with the best kind of people. My weekend was full of art, food, libations (sounds classier than booze, doesn’t it?). I got to see a concert in a CEMETERY!

As you can tell by the facial expression, my boyfriend the metalhead was not exactly excited about seeing Sigur Rós–not even at Hollywood Forever.

So much has happened since I first started this blog. Originally, it was supposed to be a platform for developing a career in copywriting. I’d almost convinced myself that working toward becoming a fiction writer was reaching for the moon. Thank goodness (and inspiring friends) I changed my mind!

Speaking of which, I’ve been toying with the idea of changing my domain name since the S.Z.Wordsmith name was created with a copywriting profession in mind…but I think that will have to wait for another time.

Thanks to all of you for reading, subscribing, and chatting with me here this past year. You keep me floating above the disappointments and hiccups that are part of the process of becoming. And I don’t feel like such a loon for some of the things I think and do as an aspiring writer thanks to you guys. I love being part of this community and reading about what everyone else is going through. That’s why I stick around.

Next week, my 30 years of insanity celebration will end with a 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise, so you won’t be hearing from me. But I’ll return with my little announcement and maybe a couple of photos from the trip (probably blurry, incomprehensible ones). So adios until then!

Published Flash Fic, A Graphic Novel & WONDERCON


My flash fiction story, “Toad Skin and Yellow Eyes,” was published by Spinetingler Magazine today! Read it here.

Graphic Novel

So that new project I mentioned earlier? I’m sure you’ve guessed its identity by the header. I’m collaborating on a graphic novel with artist Robert Burrows! Rob’s previous work includes art for the graphic novel Something Animal, which I encourage you to check out.

He already started painting up a page from my script and I got a peek. I’m pretty sure I gasped. It surpassed expectations.

Rob will be posting works-in-progress on his blog and I’ll cross-post them here as well. The graphic novel isn’t going to be done in a minute, of course–he’s working on other projects in addition to mine.

All the same, it’s incredibly satisfying to have multiple writing projects in the works. I used to think novel writing was the be all end all, but opening myself up to different platforms has accelerated my growth in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I mean, writing a graphic novel script was such an enlightening process…but I’ll reserve that topic for a post all its own.


Speaking of graphic novels, I attended Wondercon last weekend. Wondercon is a massive comic and pop culture convention in Anaheim. I decided to check it out and support my friends Rob and Meaghan O’Keefe. Rob was peddling Something Animal, and Meaghan, owner of OpenWound FX, was promoting the upcoming graphic novel, Identity Thief, which she illustrated. She was also selling her gartered legs prosthetics. I helped her promote the gartered legs by wearing them around the event on Sunday. Once I get my little hands on an event photo that does her prosthetics justice, I’ll post it, but you can see them in the link. Here’s a pic of Meg applying the gartered legs at Wondercon:

I’m just so happy to have my legs gashed open.

After all that talk about my terrible convo skills, I was approached for an interview at the event. In my desire to get the interview over with, I’m pretty sure I ended up sounding like a Univision news anchor, shooting words out of my mouth at 500 mph. Another thing I’ll post for your amusement once it’s unearthed.

The event was jam-packed with interesting panels, but I split my time between the Con and my best friend Alyssa’s birthday, so I didn’t attend any. My Alien franchise obsessed boyfriend did make it into the Prometheus panel, much to his delight. I’d hoped to see the cast of Fringe and my girl-crush, Emma Stone, but I wasn’t too bummed since I got to see the Cirque du Soleil show Ovo with my BFF.

I’m still recovering from last weekend, but I intend to get back to my novel manuscript edits with a vengeance this weekend.

Wondercon Pics!

The boyfriend, perusing metal posters.