Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog: The Golden Age Of Death (That Chris Golden Made Me Do!)

My friend Chris Golden tagged me in this "Next Big Thing" chain letter that you are about to read. It appears, upon first encounter, to just be a fun little Q&A for authors to spread the word about their latest and upcoming projects...but what no one realizes is that "The Next Big Thing" is actually a parasite living off the energy of writers, asking only that they give a little blood and then forward it on so it may infect writers and readers everywhere.

I am a host now. I am infected. I am about to infect YOU!



Where did the idea come from for the book?

After I finished my Death's Daughter trilogy, I was tasked with writing two additional books in my series. Needless to say, after writing three books, I had to find new ways of entertaining myself. To do this, I made the fourth book, How To Be Death, a locked room mystery a la Agatha Christie. and for the fifth and final book, The Golden Age Of Death, I flipped the books on their head, writing in a mix of third person and first person perspective. It was a bit crazy, at first, but I think it turned out rather well. Now you get to play around in the heads of the secondary characters that you've gotten to know and love in the other four books. Yippee!!

What genre does your book fall under?

I write in the Urban Fantasy genre - although, I think these books are a bit more fantasy than the traditional Urban Fantasy books most people are used to. I like to say: if you took Neil Gaiman and 'The Devil Wears Prada' and mushed them together, well, you'd get my stuff.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie

I am a new fan of Sara Paxton. She is amazing in a little indie called "The Innkeepers" and if she ever played Calliope, I would be ecstatic. My friend Ashley Artus - though much taller than my fawn - was the inspiration for Jarvis, so maybe we can entice him to come play with us if we ever make a live action version of the books.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Death is run like a corporation and our hero, Calliope Reaper-Jones, well, her dad is the President and CEO - when he gets kidnapped she has to come and run the company in stead, or her family will lose their immortality.

That's the jumping off point for the series and The Golden Age of Death, the fifth and final book, is the conclusion of Calliope's story.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My agent,Howard Morhaim, is the man responsible for unleashing my insanity upon the world. Poor man, having to deal with me! But he's a mensch.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took me six months then I went back in and made a bunch of changes on the second draft...turning it a bit past my deadline.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Anton Strout and I both write 'fantasy' heavy Urban Fantasy. Especially in his new book "Alchemystic", the first book in his new Spellmason Chronicles series...it has a plucky heroine who makes very human decisions about her life and situation.  Very much like Calliope.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write a female protagonist who wasn't perfect, who made mistakes and learned from them, who grew through the course of the series. That was pretty much the inspiration for writing the books.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

It's funny. And silly. And...I don't know. It's so weird to have to pimp yourself out, ya know? I guess the thing to pique your interest for the book is that it takes place mostly in Hell. Which is always fun for the whole family.  I don't know. Argh.


That concludes the infecting part of this whole endeavor. Now I'm gonna give a shout out to the other authors who Chris tagged to blog today:

S.G. Browne got stuck sitting next to me at one of his first signings...and he didn't get scared! Well, at least not after the first 30 minutes. He wrote a lovely, lovely book called Breathers that I highly recommend. Right now he has I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus…a book that's the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list! You can check him out on his site right here: http://sgbrowne.com/

Cherie Priest wrote the awesome book Boneshaker that I love. Being from Alabama, I can say that she’s a maestro at capturing the heady, spooky atmosphere of the Southern Gothic supernatural tale. Her latest book The Inexplicables is out right now and would also make an awesome holiday gift (wink, wink). http://www.cheriepriest.com/

Caitlin Kittredge is the gal responsible for the Iron Codex YA series, which is just awesome blossom - and makes a great stocking stuffer! I had to steal this bit from Chris's bio because it's just adorable: "She once told me that she’s not ready for the zombie apocalypse, but she is prepared for the kitten apocalypse." Hehehe, I love it! You can check her out here: http://www.caitlinkittredge.com/


And now for the lovely and kind souls who have agreed to carry on the infection on my behalf.  Please go check out their blogs/tumblrs next Tuesday:

Bradley P. Beaulieu is a mensch! And now the whole world knows it. He is the author of the epic fantasy series The Lays of Anuskaya (the third book, The Straits of Galahesh, is out in April) and the co-host of the popular Speculate podcast. He just funded the first level of his kickstarter campaign for the book collection Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten & Other Stories in less than a day and five hours. Did I say he was a mensch? You can check out his kickstarter here: kickbrad & his blog.
Even though Carolyn Cohagan and I share the same editor at Simon & Schuster, we actually met, funnily enough, through our mutual friend, Drea Clark.  Carolyn is the author of the Middle Grade book The Lost Children – which I adore - and its follow-up Ida and The Unfinished City. Right now she is working on a top secret project, but I've been lucky enough to get a sneak peek at it and it's amazing.  So keep your eye on Miz Cohagan and her blog for more news!

My friend, Sina Grace, is one of the most talented artists I know - he's so talented that I snapped him up to do the illustrations for my Middle Grade book Among The Ghosts. Right now he has a new graphic novel out called Not My Bag that he both wrote and illustrated. I think it's the bees knees - by far one of my fav graphic novels ever! Pick up Not My Bag and follow Sina's work right here on his tumblr.

What to say about Sarah Kuhn? She is an accomplished journalist and novelist whose latest novella One Con Glory is so good that it made me laugh out loud like twenty times. It's so good, in fact, that Hollywood has come calling - and Sarah has written the script! Right now she is hard at work on her next book which will be her first foray into Urban Fantasy. You can check her out here on her book page and on her tumblr!

Kate Noble writes really smart Regency Romance novels, including If I Fall and Follow My Lead.  And when I say smart, what I mean is: She creates some of the pluckiest, wittiest, and intelligent heroines in the romance genre, period. Kate also has the best hair of anyone I know – I am deeply envious of it - and you can get a glimpse of it right here in her author picture on her blog.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Standing in the middle of the Chelsea Market. I am listening to Liesa Abrams over the crowd of people pushing us to move forward. They are annoyed with us for taking up valuable walking space. We’re meeting Liesa’s husband, James, so the three of us can have dinner while I’m in town and it feels nice to have family in New York, even if they’re my family through love, not blood. But we can’t find James, so we’ve stopped to text him, and this has somehow devolved into talking.

Liesa pulls a paperback from her bag, an Advanced Reader Copy of Mindi Scott’s new book, Live Through This. Her eyes shine as she starts to tell me about it. I’ve met Mindi before. I sat with her and her husband at James and Liesa’s wedding reception. They were really sweet and I enjoyed talking and eating gluten free batmobile wedding cake with them.

Liesa’s telling me how proud she is of the book, of Mindi for writing it because it was inspired by personal events in Mindi’s life. Liesa really wants people to read it and she’s asking me to help spread the word. I take the book just as James finds us in the crowd. As we head to dinner, it goes in my bag and is forgotten until later that night when I get back to my friend’s place in Brooklyn, where I’m staying for the next few weeks. I read the book in one sitting. And then I sob uncontrollably for an hour. Captain, my friend’s beautiful one-eyed cat, curls up in bed beside me and let’s me hold him until I stop.

I’ve asked my very smart and savvy writer friend, Sarah Kuhn, (check out her awesome stuff here) to guest blog with me today. I gave her my copy of Live Through This. I thought two voices would be better than one:

Amber: Coley Sterling is a typical type A high school overachiever. She has friends, a boy who adores her, a family that loves her…and a secret that’s ripping her apart from the inside out. The reader isn’t immediately privy to Coley’s secret. Like pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope, the clues fall together slowly until the whole picture is finally revealed. And it’s a devastating one.  Mindi Scott has a real talent for getting inside her protagonist’s head. She sketches out Coley’s story in grand swathes, and then paints in all the little details, so that you feel as though you are enmeshed in Coley’s brain: thinking her thoughts, feeling her confusion, anger, and, in the end, pain. I just don’t think it’s possible to read this book and not identify with Coley in some way. Abuse comes in all different sizes and shapes––and I know I‘ve felt alone, ashamed, scared.

Sarah: I think specificity always leads to authenticity in a story––and that's why I think we feel like we're so with Coley throughout the whole book, even when we don't know everything about her life. The details you're referring to, the ones Mindi paints in so carefully, are all so specific––I'm thinking of things like the compliment game Coley plays with her crush-morphing-to-boyfriend Reece, wherein they quote various over-the-top song lyrics to each other. Stuff like that makes every single relationship in the book feel very real. And it keeps the subject matter––the revelations behind Coley's heartbreaking secret––from feeling Afterschool Special-y or like we're being beat over the head with a Story About Important Issues.  I crave that kind of honesty/specificity mix in all stories and because of that, I'm about to be that super-annoying person who yells at everyone she knows to read this book IMMEDIATELY.

Amber: I think you and both are gonna be that super-annoying person because I really believe this book is important. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 1 in 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape…and the effects of sexual abuse are life long. The message I took away from Live Through This was that, yes, awful things might happen in our lives, but you can get through them, you can survive and overcome.

Sarah: Well, I'm used to being annoying, so that works out nicely. I agree that it's an important book (and I think part of its importance lies in the way that it doesn't insist on proclaiming itself An Important Book, if that makes sense) and I also think the survival/overcoming part is portrayed extremely realistically. Those moments aren't depicted as if there is triumphant, swelling music in the background––again, it's just honest. I also thought the way Coley's other relationships were portrayed were very relatable––the friend she's had a falling out with, the boyfriend who's not quite her boyfriend yet. There was some very true-to-life teenagerdom in those connections, and that really gives the sense that you're seeing a full portrait of someone's life––good parts and bad.

Amber: So I think we're in agreement.  Do yourself a favor.  Go out and buy Live Through This.  Read it and share it with the people you love. Especially anyone who is going through, or has gone through a trauma in their life.  I am linking to Mindi's Livejournal post about why she wrote the book here.  Her own personal journey, the one she outlines in that Livejournal post, is a testament to why you should read this book.

Sarah: Yes, please buy this. As Amber will attest, I am a very picky person who doesn't like very many things...but I loved this.

For more info on anti-sexual violence check out RAINN.

And you can get LIVE THROUGH THIS on Amazon or order it through your local bookseller.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Unrequited Life

There is a strangely human aversion to change.  Maybe it trickles down through the rest of the Animal Kingdom, too, but I can't imagine a fox getting drunk over losing a job.  I don't know many foxes, so maybe I'm misinformed.  I'm misinformed about a lot of things these days.

I am not a huge fan of change.  Little changes I can handle - like trying my baked mac and cheese with Gruyere instead of Cheddar* - but the big things are a struggle.  These thoughts always lead me down the path to extinction, not mine - yet -  but the extinction of just one species of animal or just one species of plant.  It's a small blip in the grand scheme of things, losing one species, but I just feel so sad about it.  I contributed, probably.  It's a little my fault.  But then my mind starts to wander...and I realize when this one species goes away, another rises up to take its place.  Not immediately, but over time.  There is always something coming up after us.

I think about what we are doing to ourselves and our planet and I know what the endgame is: one day we will be that species, the one that goes extinct and something else comes along to take our place.

We get all up in arms about it - and maybe this will help us change our future, I hope so - but I don't see a lot of forward motion.  I think humans are essentially good, but we are also selfish - I know this from personal experience: I am selfish - and that is a not so great combination.  Couple those two things together then add in thoughtlessness/obliviousness and the world as we know it is most likely doomed.

This isn't a call to arms: to reduce, recycle, reuse, buy green and local, eat less meat (though all these things you should do).  This is a meditation on getting to the bottom of things, to why change affects us so greatly.

Because once I see the grand future down to the very end of its thread and look at it honestly,  I can accept human extinction, animal and plant extinction, the shifting of tectonic plates, the coming of a new ice age or a hot, barren inhospitable to life landscape.  I don't love this acceptance, but it is what it is.  At least I'm not as sad or scared about it.

Of course, once we get to the personal, these above thoughts don't 100% apply.  Why can I get used to human beings ceasing to exist as a species, but I don't like to move?

The unrequited life.

Not unrequited love, that's a whole other blog post at a later date.

The unrequited life.  The life that would exist if you didn't change. That's what trips us up.  I've been holding on to all my unrequited lives for so long now they have taken over my life.  I am an unrequited life hoarder.  I don't want to let them go...even though holding them is stupid and unproductive and maybe even detrimental.

Why do I, do we, do this?  Why can't we get over the jobs we lost or didn't get, the places we've moved from or were kicked out of, the lovers we've banished or been banished from?  Why are we so obsessed with the unrequited lives we didn't lead, to the point where the lives we ARE leading suffer?  The present consumed by the past.

Living this way only makes us unhappy, right?  An unrequited life is a still born life with no future.  So why do we coddle them, like parasitic twins taking all the nourishment, keeping them alive for nothing?

Any thoughts folks? 

*I always get a maudlin after a hard drinking night - two vodka sodas is a hard drinking night for me - but I did have a slamming mac and cheese :)


Monday, September 10, 2012


Joe and I are going to share a SKYPE lunch!  We will then share some of the experience with you.  Aren't you lucky duckies!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scatological Amber and her GNADS

I have always had issues with shaving my legs.

1. I hate doing it. I have scars from accidental cuttings. It's time consuming and my sensitive skin gets all bumpy.

When I was a teenager (12/13-ish) I BEGGED for an Epilady. I saw the commercials, it looked easy and great and kept the leg hair away for weeks. I bought the As Seen On Television hype, fell for it hook, line and sinker. So, for Christmakuh that year guess what I got?

No, not an amazing Ginsu Knife set - an Epilady!

Guess how many times I used it?


Half a leg. It hurt so bad I cried and couldn't get through the first leg.

Epilady sat on the shelf in its nice fabric carry bag and cardboard box collecting dust. I don't know what eventually happened to it or the long handled 'shoulder massager' that sat next to it in the top of the closet, but I have fond and not so fond memories of them both.

Next up was NADS - another As Seen On Television product (you'd think I would learn) - and it fared about as well as the Epilady. And by that, I mean I got about halfway through a leg and had to stop. Mostly cause I couldn't get the fabric strips to stick right to the NAD glop on my leg - but when I did manage to rip leg hair out, it hurt like a mother ******. I thought because it was an Australian product it would work better than the Epilady (that was scatological* thinking), but it was another epic leg hair removal failure.

PS: From now on in my mind I am spelling NADS 'GNADS' in honor of The Monster Squad.

I have done the obligatory bikini waxes, and they work, but hurt like a sonofabitch, so I have decided not to put my legs through that particular Hell.

Which leads me, finally, to my latest endeavor:

Nair (What's with the leg hair removal community's predilection for creating products starting with N?)

I am a recent convert to depilatory cream. It works and it doesn't hurt...but I think it has burned off a couple of moles on my thigh. They were there pre-Nair and now they are MIA.

I have put away my razor - for now - and we can only hope to see what the future will bring.

The End
Just The Beginning

(take a bow)

*Look up the word: scatological. Hehehe.

Monday, August 6, 2012

ADDENDUM - History

I read and write. I write and read. They go hand in hand for me. I tell stories. I make them up in my head. If you cross my path, I'll probably make up a story about you. That's how it works in my brain.

Right now I am standing on a Brooklyn street corner(ish) and the man in the plaid shirt is:

A member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He only joined because his older brother did. He hates spaghetti with a passion because it reminds him of the worms his brother forcefed him when he was four.

And so it goes...I do this for everyone.

That's writing and it is just a part of me. Has been since I could form a conscious thought.

I've written crappy poetry. Crappy short stories. Crappy plays. Crappy screenplays.

I've written some stuff I am proud of. But it's a small percentage.

Am I a good writer? Shit, I don't know. Read the Mavis Gallant journal excerpts in The New Yorker (with what looks like a Doctor Obama on the cover) and you will have an insight into how I think about writing.

I don't write because I'm trying to get somewhere (lies!) but because I have to write. (Both are true.)

Acting is parallel to and completely separate from my writing. One informs the other, but they are wholly separate endeavors.

If I didn't act, I would still write.

If I didn't write, I would still act.

I don't know where my ideas come from.

I like the idea of picking them like rotting fruit from the branches of the collective unconscious.

I also like the idea that I have a muse (somewhere) who feeds me all the good stuff. (Lots of food analogies, I must be hungry.)

I sit down. I open my computer. I put my headphones in my ears. I turn on music. I put my fingers on MacBook keyboard. (Outrageous product placement in hopes of free stuff! Apple, I'm talking to you.)

I try and write 1500 words a day (that's Monday thru Friday for me) and that's it. Thats me. Amber. Writer. Numbnut extraordinaire.

(take a bow)
(get off the street corner)
(@darkoverorg hope this clears things up and makes us even Steven on the cheating)

Because You Asked

(This post came directly out of a comment from Twitter user @darkoverorg*)

Advice first.  History later.

You wanna write?  Then write.  Seems basic, right?  But it's not.  I meet so many people who 'talk' about writing, but don't actually sit down and put pen to paper, ink to quill, fingers to typewriter keys, brain to computer.

My friend and fellow writer and 'maker of things', Doug Petrie, once said something to me that really stuck.  He was talking about filmmaking, but to me, it applies to any creative endeavor.

Now I'm paraphrasing here, but the thrust of what he said is this:

When you make a film you become someone who made something and cease to be someone who 'talks' about making something.
It's a clearly defined line. 

Even if what you make is crap, it doesn't matter. YOU MADE IT!!  That's the beginning of your career as a maker of things: writer, filmmaker, artist, crafter, actor, singer, dancer, mime, musician...all of these start with the urge to make something and then continue with the 'action' of indulging that urge.

You wanna write, go write.

So you're writing - first step accomplished - how do you get it out to the world, so you can be praised and ridiculed (usually at the same time) by the mass of men?

It's easy and not easy.

Easy first.


1. Fan Fiction

Fifty Shades of Grey, people!!  I've said it before and I'll say it again (with back-up now that the FSG books are major league famous): Write what you love, put it on the internet and share it with all the other people who love what you love.  'Nuf said.

2. Blog

Write a blog.  Write about your life.  Include fiction/non-fiction pieces you are working on. (I've done it on this blog.)  See: John Scalzi & Pamela Ribon - they give good blog and are shining examples of what I'm taking about

3. Publish Yourself, Yourself

People do it every day and some of them make a hell of a lot more money on their books than I do.

Now the Hard Stuff:


1. Get An Agent

Go online, get agency info and send a whole hell of a lot of query letters out into the universe.  Make your query letter interesting.  Someone might actually bite - and if they do then it's worth all the effort.  The agent is your entree into the publishing world.  Without them, it is very hard to get stuff read by editors.

2. Writer's Conferences

Go to them.  Go to the ones where they have editors and agents you can pitch to.  It's a shot in the dark - but like querying for agents, if someone bites then it's worth the money and effort.

This ends the ADVICE portion of our blog post.

Now on to the HISTORY portion of our blog.

How did I get published...?  It's a cheating story.  I took the twenty plus years of struggle and rejection I've endured as an actor and credited it toward the publishing world. 

And I had a leg up because of a little show called BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

So I don't recommend attempting my journey.  It's a way longer way than you want to traverse in order to get your writing out there.  See the ADVICE section and use that bit as your guide, or, as I like to say:



(take a bow)


*Just FYI. 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Teach, Apparently.

The lovey folks at Dragon*Con have inveigled me to teach an acting workshop in Atlanta this year.  I have never been to Dragon*Con before so this should be very, very interesting.  I think this will be my chance to really get to know Slave Leia this year. 

Below is all the info on the workshop.  You will be stuck with me for like 8 hours each day and for that I apologize!

DragonCon Acting Workshops 2012

     DragonCon is pleased to offer a unique acting workshop over a two day period by acclaimed actress, director, and author Amber Benson.  If you are interested in a career in acting either on the stage or screen or just want to polish up your professional skills, here is your chance to gain insights, learn skills, and gain insights from the successful. talented, and knowledgeable Amber Benson.
Amber Benson is a writer, director and actor.  She currently writes the CALLIOPE REAPER-JONES paranormal romance series for Ace/Roc and her middle grade book, AMONG THE GHOSTS, came out in paperback this past fall from Simon and Schuster.  As a director, she co-directed the Slamdance feature, DRONES - which was picked up for distribution by Phase Four Films - and directed (and co-wrote) the BBC animated series, THE GHOSTS OF ALBION.  Her acting work includes the Steven Soderbergh film, KING OF THE HILL, and the indie feature, RACE YOU TO THE BOTTOM, for which she won the Best Actress Award at Outfest.  She spent three years as Tara Maclay on the television series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.

Two Day Workshop with Amber will include:

Dragon*Con is pleased to offer a two-day Actor’s Workshop with actress and director Amber Benson.  A veteran actress with over twenty years of experience, Amber most notably played the character Tara Maclay for three seasons on the hit show Buffy The Vampire Slayer.  As a director, her films have played at various film festivals (including the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City) and her latest film Drones is available on Netflix streaming and on Showtime.
This two-day workshop will include:

We will talk about the business aspects of becoming an actor.  This will include ‘Getting an Agent’, ‘The Audition Process’ and ‘New Media: Using YouTube and The Internet To Create Your Own Celebrity’.

Good Improv skills are imperative for any would-be actor. Learn to listen to and interact with your fellow performers by playing Improv Games that bolster your confidence in your own instincts and help you to relax and enjoy the process of being creative.

Learn to create a back-story for your character.  This also includes developing accents, physical characteristics, etc. that can give you a real insight into your character’s internal motivations.

Breaking into pairs, you will work on two character scenes that will then be performed in front of your fellow workshop participants.  Each participant will also receive a copy of an ‘audition scene’ or ‘sides’ that we will work on together during the course of the workshop.  On Sunday afternoon, each participant will have a ‘mock audition’ that will be recorded on video and then watched and critiqued. (After the workshop has concluded, participants will get a copy of their audition tape via email.)
And a chance to get personal advice and ask your questions.

The Workshop

The workshop will take place on Thursday, August 30, and Friday, August 31, 2012 from 9AM to Noon and then from 1PM to 5PM.  The cost for attending the workshop is $250 per student.  This is a separate fee from Dragon*Con Membership (also required) and will cover the cost of the class.  Space is limited to twenty participants.  No videos of the workshop will be permitted.  Space is limited for each workshop.  First come, first served.  Dragoncon will keep a list of those who have applied for admittance once it is filled in case any later choose to drop out.  Accepted attendees are asked to please notify Dragoncon if you find you will unable to attend.
If you have further questions, please contact David A. Cherry at dcherry88@tx.rr.com. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

My San Diego Comic-Con Schedule & It's A Doozy!

My head is spinning as I write this.  I think I need to clone myself.


Once More, with Comics: How the Whedon Universes Continue in Comic Book Form 
w/Amber Benson, Scott Allie, Mariah Huehner, Clare Kramer, Tom Lenk, Katrina Hill, Jennifer K. Stuller and Traci Cohen (Room 26AB)

The LxL Meet Up
I'm gonna hang with all the awesome Geek Girls of Comic-Con!
(The Hyatt)


A Super Secret Screening Of My New Film, Dust Up! 
I'll probably get in trouble for posting about it, but it's the Super Secret ticket to get on Friday! (If you follow @Dustupfilm and tweet them the phrase "I am Ward Robert's Bitch", they might be giving away a couple of tickets - but you didn't hear that from me!)

Space Command: Bold Reaches Into The Adventures Of Space*
Space Command is a series of new and original feature films by STAR TREK writer Marc Zicree, GALACTICA FX whiz Doug Drexler, director Neil Johnson and other Sci-Fi luminaries. (Room 5AB)

*I am going to try and make it to the Space Command Panel, but I'm double booked and there's an 85% chance I'm going to miss it.  Just wanted to be honest.  I will try to swing by, but it'll be a great panel with or without me!


Screening of: Laura Keller, NB  (as part of the Comic-Con International Film Festival)
"With global population at an extreme high, federal fertility lotteries now determine who can and can't reproduce. When one woman learns that she will be permanently sterilized, her faith in the system is shaken" Presenting filmmakers: Mo Perkins (writer/director), Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Martin Starr (Party Down), and Eli Akira Kauffman (producer).
(All films and programs are in Marriott Hall 2, at the Marriott Marquis & Marina, next to the Hall A side of the Convention Center)

And stay for the next film, Advantageous, starring the uber-awesome, James Urbaniak!


21st Century Dead (SIGNING ONLY)
w/Amber Benson, Thomas E. Sniegoski, S. G. Browne, Daniel H. Wilson, John Skipp, Cody Goodfellow (Room AA9)


Foes Beyond Fur and Fangs
Vampires have staked their claim on readers, and werewolves have certainly taken a bite out of pop fiction. But these paranormal creatures aren't the only ones that run havoc in the pages of science fiction and fantasy novels. Authors discuss the villains and vixens-from witches to zombies and beyond-in their action-packed adventures.
w/(moderator: Kim Alexander) Amber Benson, Rachel Caine, Tom Sniegoski, Kiersten White, Gail Carriger, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and Maggie Stiefvater (Room 5AB)

There will be a SIGNING AFTERWARD!

The day of the week titles above remind me the ones in The Shining.  Cue freaky music.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Finally Know What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

This is a question that has eluded me for a long time now - thirty-five years to be exact.  Recently, I've been telling people  I want to be a 'Maker Of Things'.  That this phrase is what I want on my tombstone:

Amber Benson
Maker Of Things

But that's not exactly true.  I do want to make things, but I want to make specific things.  I want to make the things I want to make, that interest me and that I want to see - and fuck you, if you don't like it.

I'm tired of worrying what you think.  As painful and frightening as it is for me to write this...well, it's true.

I don't want you to like me anymore.  I don't care whether what I say offends you or not.  I'm just gonna be myself and if you don't like it, I don't care.

I don't care. I don't care. I don't care.

And if you like it.

I don't care. I don't care. I don't care.

Wow, that feels pretty goddamned good.

Watched that amazing Woody Allen documentary - watched both parts - and I realized that's what I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be making stuff because I have to, because it's what I'm meant to do, because it stops me from thinking about dying.  Because the busier I am, the less I think about dying.  One movie a year to keep death at bay.  Amazing!

I watch that Louie CK show and that's what I want to be when I grow up.  I want to be bluntly honest and real and embarrassing and embarrassed.  I want to say things you don't like, that are true (at least to me) and that make me laugh.

I want to say screw you to anyone who says I'm not funny.  Because you know what.  I'm funny.  And if you don't get it then it's not meant for you.

I'm dark and mean on the inside.  I'm sweet and nice on the inside.  I'm a bloody rainbow swirl.  All of it and its opposite.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Poem For Travis Herrick

Hi, Travis!  I promised you a poem for winning my CHICKEN 77/Serpent's Storm Review Challenge.  I apologize for it taking so long, but here it is!  I hope you like it.  I used bits and pieces of the answers you sent me.  Hope you can pick them out!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

First Challenge Winner!

Well, I waited as long as I could for Serpent's Storm to get 77 reviews...sadly this was not to be...so there will be no singing.  BUT I have crowned a winner for the First Challenge - the best use of the word CHICKEN in a Serpent's Storm review.

Drum roll, please.

And the winner is: TRAVIS HERRICK

For his lovely rendition of that old classic: THE CHICKEN AND THE RACCOON

But don't take it from me.  Here is Travis, in his own words:

"I read this book over the last several days and I have to say, it really reminds me of the old folk tale of the Chicken and the Raccoon.
Once, a long time ago, in the American Heartlands, there lived a Chicken and Raccoon, and they were the best of friends.  The Chicken was very industrious, and worked very hard each and every day.  The raccoon did the minimal amount of work he needed to get by, and spent his days listening to hipster music and lounging around wearing sunglasses.
But even thought there were very different, the Chicken and Raccoon were close friends, and they shared the love of books.
One Day, the Chicken came up to his good friend Raccoon.  “Raccoon, I have been feeling down.  I feel that I’ve spent all my time at the office without doing any of the important things in life.  Part of me wants to be like you, because you’re always so happy and seem like deep down, you’re satisfied with life.  But all you do is slack off and listen to annoying music and wear sunglasses all day.”
Raccoon took off his headphones and thought for a long time.  He looked at Chicken and said “Well, you work hard.  You’d hate my life; what you have to realize is that all you have to do is be yourself to be happy.  You don’t need to change yourself to be satisfied.”
Well the years passed, and Chicken never became more satisfied with his life, whereas Raccoon always was.  Raccoon was unable to help his friend, because he didn’t realize what the problem was.  Of course, as readers of The Serpent’s Storm will surely know by this point, Raccoon had read it while Chicken didn’t.  The Chicken was never able to appreciate the snarkiness of Amber Benson’s writing, the cleverness of her world, her engaging characters.  Chicken will never know the plight of Callie and how she grows as a person to be less insecure and more willing to take over her responsibilities.  He will never know the turmoil of Callie not knowing who to trust, or the catharsis of her victory.  And without knowing about The Serpent’s Storm, how could he possibly have experienced the beauty and wonder the world has to offer?  Sadly, Raccoon had assumed that he had read this book, as who wouldn’t, so he said nothing, and Chicken went his whole life never knowing.
The moral of the fable, as always, is to not be like Chicken.  Buy Amber Benson’s book."

Travis will not be picking a song for me to sing.  Instead, I will be writing a personal poem for Travis and then putting it up on my youtube page.

Congrats, Travis!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I am doing a Livestream Chat on the Ace/Roc Facebook page with the lovely Anton Strout.  Your final challenge - should you choose to accept it - is to attend the chat and make a comment/ask a question.  The comment must include these words: "Anton Strout is a God Among Men".  The most creative use of this phrase will get a SURPRISE at the end of the chat!

Here is the link to the chat: AMBER BENSON CHAT

The chat starts FRIDAY, MARCH 2nd at 3pm EST - until then you will be forced to watch repeats of Tim and Kathy Keller talking about Marriage.

REPEAT!!!  I will not be on the Ace/Roc Facebook page UNTIL this Friday, March 2nd at 3pm EST!

Come say hi, shout out Anton and I promise you will have a good time!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


So...first of all...Due to popular demand (and for the slower readers out there) I have decided to extend the FIRST CHALLENGE until March 1st...let me reiterate...in order to qualify for a chance at the SKYPE LUNCH with me, you must post a review of my book Serpent's Storm on one of the qualifying sites ( AMAZON US  AMAZON CA AMAZON UK AMAZON DE BARNES AND NOBLE or ITUNES ) and you must use the word 'chicken' somewhere in the review!


You must answer these three questions by March 21st, 2012:

1.) What is the name of Mademoiselle Consuela's Warbot?

2.) In what type of building is Mademoiselle Consuela a prisoner?

3.) Whose naked "male member" makes an appearance at the end of the story?

To find the answers you need to read: Mademoiselle Consuela and Her Army of One - a new short story from  IDW & me for their Zombies Vs. Robots Anthology on Amazon kindle! And the beauty of the whole thing is that it's just 99 cents!  It's available tomorrow - but you can pre-order today!


You must send the answers to these three questions to: bensonentertainment@hotmail.com 

Only emailed entries will be counted, so don't leave your answers in the comments section!  I will delete them and they will be disqualified!!

In order to qualify for the SKYPE LUNCH with yours truly you have to complete CHALLENGES #1 and #2!



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day - Shoot An Arrow In My Butt

There is something about this Valentine's holiday that seems false, something that seems tailor made for Hallmark and the flower growers of America and Hershey's.

Corporations - I am not just a consumer. I am a human being. Just because a candy heart says BE MINE doesn't mean I belong to anyone, but myself. And I think that's enough. I think it's alright to not need someone in your life to give you cards and flowers and candy.

I think a smile from a toothless homeless man sitting in front of the grocery store should be enough. Because outside of everything and everyone else...I am okay by myself. We should all be okay by ourselves. We are wonderful and we should love ourselves, as individuals, accordingly.

Happy Valentine's Day to me and to you. You and I are worth a smile and the knowledge that we are loved.

That's enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Watch me cut up & read my new book, HOW TO BE DEATH!

Watch me Cut Up & Read the first chapter of my new book HOW TO BE DEATH - also a Sir Richard Bitely sighting!


Here is the completed list of places I will be signing HOW TO BE DEATH - it has all the right addresses and times and if you come, I promise to show you a real good time ;)

Tuesday, February 28th 2012
Redondo Beach Store
2810 Artesia Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Friday, March 2nd 2012
Grand Central Station
459 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Saturday, March 3rd 2012
2342 Bissonett Street
Houston, TX 77005

Saturday, March 10th 2012
San Diego Store
7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
Ste 302
San Diego, CA 92111

March 24th, 2012
w/Chelsea Quinn Yarbro 
3512 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


February is always the shortest month––even when it's a Leap Year like 2012.

But not this year.  This year I promise to pack so much interesting, weird stuff into February that it will seem like the LONGEST month on the calendar!

I am putting together THREE CHALLENGES––one of them begins today––and at the end of the whole thing (you must complete ALL THREE) some lucky person is going to win something really unique and bizarre:


Now, I know that sounds kinda ho-hum, but believe me, it will be anything but.

Firstly, I will provide you with the lunch.  I will give you a bunch of options (I know there are Vegans, Veggies, Gluten Frees, Atkins, Low Carbs, Fruitarians, Pescetarians, Hardcore Carnivores) that you can choose from and that choice will be delivered to your door.

Secondly, I will eat something disgusting, something worthy of Andrew Zimmern - and there will be Chocolate Covered Ants for dessert!

Thirdly, we will toast to your CHALLENGE prowess and your health and to the health of all the people who tried and failed to win this special lunch.

Fourthly, we will video the Chocolate Covered Ant eating (you may choose not to be on camera for this) and post it to youtube so that everyone can make fun of me.

Not so ho hum now, is it?  Oh, you naysayers, be quiet!  (I'll deal with you later)


So let me lay out the design of the first Challenge and tell you what the MAGIC NUMBER and the MAGIC WORD is!



I am looking for at least 77 reviews of Serpent's Storm by 2/17/12 - each review must contain the word CHICKEN in it––now don't be cross, you guys gave me the MAGIC NUMBER and the MAGIC WORD––and it must contain a way to contact you: either your twitter ID, your email, your blog site or your FACEBOOK name.

If I get 77 reviews (distributed among the qualifying sites I will list below) then I will choose the review I think most creatively uses the MAGIC WORD (chicken) and that first challenge winner gets to pick (between two choices) the YOUTUBE video song I will embarrassingly sing for the world.

The two choices are: Wind Beneath My WingsI Love You Period

How does that sound?

Remember, this is only the FIRST CHALLENGE.  And you have to complete it if you want to be in the running to win the SKYPE DISGUSTING LUNCH!!

I will announce the SECOND CHALLENGE on 2/16/12 - be ready!

BELOW ARE THE QUALIFYING SITES & the review must be made between today and 2/17/11*: 







*if you already reviewed the book on any of these sites prior to 1/31 then email Benson Entertainment (bensonentertainment@hotmail.com) with the subject line "CHICKEN 77" - include proof of your review (a cut and past copy will suffice) and a paragraph explaining why you love, hate or feel mediocre toward CHICKEN & I will add you to the contest!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Netflix recommended this documentary to me.  The algorithms tonight couldn't have been more prescient.

The idea that art is art, outside of self and taste and worth.  That is the question I am grappling with tonight.  Intellectually, I believe that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of something I've created.  In practice, of course, that's not a truth.  I am just as human as anyone else, stymied by negativity.

Then I watch this goddamned documentary 'Scott Walker: 30 Century Man' and am confronted with a man who seems to walk the walk and not just talk the talk (like me).  To just create, to just wholly and utterly give birth to what is inside of you, and not disown it or vilify it or praise it, but let it go, unjudged.  To be pleased with the process, alone, and unfettered by what anyone thinks...this is the ultimate goal.

Like in Buddhism there is the notion of transcending self.

In art it is the notion of transcending judgement...your own or anyone else's.

Now go create and damn the consequences!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


I was introduced to something last night that, at first, I thought was a joke.  I was having dinner with my friends Colleen, Anton, and Maureen, and over the largest bowl of guacamole I'd ever encountered in all my thirty-five years, I was introduced to the romance sub-genre 'The Bonnet Ripper'.

This only came about because I was regaling them with the details of my bizarre train trip across America and how I had seen a number of Mennonite women on the train reading what looked like romance novels.

That's when someone, I forget who, chimed in: Bonnet Rippers!

It looks as if the 'Bodice Ripper' has been co-opted by the religious set.   I thought TWILIGHT was the penultimate of all the no kissing, no sex until marriage literature, but apparently I was wrong.  It seems that the Amish and Mennonite Bonnet Rippers have all the angst and overheated emotion of the Harlequin universe, but without any of the sex.  Totally trumping Twilight - cause they made with the disastrous sexy sex, ya know. 

I, for one, am very curious to read one of these books because there is only so much 'throbbing member' action a person can take before they start to feel kind of pervy.  I know this for fact because when I was thirteen years old I read one hundred Harlequin Romance books in two very short weeks.

This was the summer my family moved from Orlando, FL to Los Angeles, CA.  It took my sister, mother and me two weeks to do it.  (We took our time, stopping at all the roadside attractions like we were - unintentionally - retracing Lolita and Humbert Humbert's path across America.)  Along the way, we made a pit stop in Huntsville, AL to see my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

That's when I discovered my Aunt Carolyn belonged to the Harlequin Romance Book of The Month Club.   Always a voracious reader (of anything I could get my hands on) and my Aunt Carolyn knew this, giving me a black garbage bag full of Harlequin romances to read along the trip.  There had to have been over a hundred of those suckers straining to get out of their plastic bag prison and I obliged them all by reading every one of'em.

As we drove across the country, I would read two or three of the books in a sitting, depositing them in the drawers of the motels we stayed in at night - kinda like soft core pornographic Gideon Bibles.  It was a strange time in my life...REM's Out Of Time playing through the headphones of the boom box I'd brought with me, the words 'throbbing manhood' swimming on the pages of the books in front of me. 

A very odd time, indeed.

I don't know how all of this really ties into Bonnet Ripping, I guess it does somehow because it definitely got the synapses in my brain all fired up.

Heck, the next time you see me I may be wearing a bonnet.  I hear those Amish men are pretty amazing at 'driving the buggy'. 

Wink, wink.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Triangle Tara Thanks You: Addendum

Triangle Tara wanted to take a moment to send a special thanks to Theresa Grammer who has built the beautiful fundraiser site for her every year and personally puts in a lot of time and effort to help Tara spread the word!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


You guys are amazing!  You helped Triangle Tara raise $1000 for the Los Angeles Food Bank - plus that's not even counting the donations some of you made to the food bank in order to be registered for the Doll and Surprise Gift drawing!*

Triangle Tara and I send you big love and hugs for making this happen.  You rawk!

  • Los Angeles Regional Foodbank Customer Receipt/Purchase Confirmation‏

To Amber Benson
Thank you for your order!
Order Information
Merchant:Los Angeles Regional Foodbank
Description:Donation to LAFoodBank.org
Invoice Number:67602

Billing Information
Amber Benson
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Shipping Information

Total: US $1000.00


 *PS: The Surprise Gift was the actual Justin Bieber T-Shirt (signed) I wore and took about a million pictures in for that Scavenger Hunt Misha Collins put on!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Solitary vs Interconnected

Wow, that last post really seemed to have touched a nerve - my own included. 

Why are relationships so hard to make work?  Just look at the comments section in that last post and you will see why.  So many varied reasons, so many individual stories of heartache and triumph...it blew my mind.

Of course, how can that question not touch a raw nerve?  Relationships are what define us. Without the input of other people we have very little framework outside of ourselves to figure out who we are.  For example, I spend a lot of time creating things, but without other people to read and see what I make, the effort of creating falls a little flat. 

Yes, even if I lived in a vacuum, I would still be moved to write and make stuff, but the thrill of having someone else experience my creation is like nothing else out there...okay, it's probably on par with falling in love, but that happens so, so, so infrequently (like once every trillion years) that I gotta rely on creating stuff to get my jollies off.

But whether it's being creative or falling in love, the common denominator is 'being experienced'.  When someone experiences us through our work or through falling in love with us, it's like we become immortal for that moment.  We don't just exist in our own heads, we exist in the minds of the people we have touched. 

It's like being on your computer vs. being on your computer that's connected to the Internet.

I like the idea of being connected, of knowing that as I write this, there will be people out there who will read my words and be affected by them.   Negatively or positively, I can't control...just that the act of 'being experienced' is enough.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why Are Relationships So Hard?

Why are relationships so hard? You like someone, they like you...so why doesn't it work. The whole thing should be easy - what with biological imperatives and the like - but instead this is one of the most complicated and prescient questions out there. It crosses gender, social, economic, religious lines and is applicable to pretty much everyone on the planet. Sure there are still arranged marriages and other situations where people are forced to be together, where they have no say in whether they work as a couple or not, but those examples are getting to be few and far between as the Western notion of picking your own partner becomes standard practice all over the world.

If I had an answer for this question - even a semi-plausible one that sounded kinda good - I would share it with you. But I am as in the dark about this as everyone else.

What do you think? It's not an essay question. No one is being graded. I'm just curious.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Expectations

I have romanticized this journey.

Nothing can survive the wrath of great expectations. I think it was the sitting up sleeping that finally broke me. I can handle babies and their poo, a lack of functioning electrical outlets so I can't work on my computer, even paying 2.50 for a tiny pack o'peanuts.

But the sit up sleeping...now that was a killer. That and the stinky feet, farting and snoring that goes along with sleeping in a train car with about eighty or so other people.

I am not a super whiny person, but when I don't get enough sleep and going to the bathroom is a quasi-spectator sport, well, I'm not at my best.

I'm now on the second leg of my journey and there's another whole twenty hours to go. One more night of sit up sleep.

I romanticized this trip - I thought it would be chill and fun. That it was not. It felt like work.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On The Train

There is a little girl in the seat behind me, singing. The songs are all nonsense with a few cannibalized bits of real song repurposed into her own. She has a high, clear little kid voice as she stands at the window looking out at the New Mexican landscape.

There's snow on the ground, something I haven't seen in a long time. It coats the desert floor, the scrub brown and dead underneath its wintery coat.

A guy keeps coming over and telling me that 'he's been noticing me'. It's a train. Not too many places you can disappear to. I just smile and nod, slide my headphones on. He seems harmless, but there's something about traveling alone, the vulnerability I guess, that makes me regard him nervously.

I am on the train with a group of Mennonites. You would think that they would be the ones with Bibles out, but it's really the older Hispanic women and the young charismatic Christian women littered throughout the train that are on Bible watch. The Mennonites are too busy playing with their kids and reading fiction to commune with God.

Writing this, I wonder if my expectations about the Mennonites are solely informed by my lack of any kind of interaction with them. They seem very nice and very self-contained and really only can be marked out as 'religious' because of their dress.

I think there's just something inherently fascinating to me about devout people (of all religions - I am not singling out the nice Mennonites with any of the below). Their adherence to another way of life, another way of interacting and dressing, it's impressive - especially to someone like me who lives a very ambivalent and rootless (as far as religion) life.

I admire their determination. When that determination is applied in a positive way, a lot of good is done - but the reverse is also true. So much suffering has been meted out in the name of God.

Poor God, always the scapegoat. Even on a train, barreling through New Mexico.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year's To Me

I am not making any New Year's resolutions this year. 

Why, you ask me - why am I not participating in the New Year's spirit like everyone else?  Because I know that I'm incapable of holding to any resolutions I might make. 

I could resolve to blog everyday...but I know I'll fail to do it one day and that'll blow the whole thing.

I could resolve not to bite my nails...but I know that the first time I'm really stressed out or upset my nails will be back in mouth, drenched in Amber slobber.

I could resolve not to eat gluten (my mom is gluten intolerant)...but invariably I will break down at dinner somewhere and end up stuffing a roll in my mouth.

I appreciate the concept of making resolutions, of wanting to break bad habits and start good ones, but I am also realistic about who I am and what I'm capable of.  I don't want to rain on anyone else's parade.  If you're a good resolution keeper then by all means do it...but I'm just tired of feeling guilty about the things I can't control.

So I eat my fingers, so I don't exercise as much as I should or eat as well as I ought to...that doesn't mean I should kick the crap outta myself.  We are just as much our failures and flaws as we are our successes...and, frankly, I don't think there's anything wrong with celebrating our mess-ups a little bit.

This year I am not resolving to do anything.  Instead I am going to celebrate my failures and screw ups.  I'm gonna try and learn from them, appreciate them for what they are and study them so I can have a little better insight into myself.

On that note:

Here's to the six Rum and Pineapple drinks I had last night.

Here's to the two hours of hardcore vomiting I did last night.

Here's to the insight I had into myself because of the drinking and vomiting.

And, finally...

Here's to what I learned from the whole lovely experience: Don't f*cking drink so much, idiot.