Swag, you may know, has a current meaning of “stuff you get just for showing up”. Conventions or promotional events will usually give registrants “swag bags”. At fancy events, this might be a designer bag filled with electronics and jewelry, which, of course, are always reported to the IRS as income. *cough* not *cough*

At the kind of events I attend, a swag bag is usually made of thin plastic, suitable to do later duty as a trash bag for my car, with a convention program in it and maybe a city guide of whatever town is holding the convention.

In these cases, it’s up to me to collect my own swag, in a sort of combination Trick-or-Treat and scavenger hunt.

Authors often bring swag, but I didn’t score any this year. Some years, I manage a free book or two, but this year, not. Got some candy, but I eated it. Most of what I got was informational.

From Oh So Fine, Inc.

Oh, and I bought something, too! Yes! Actual money left my wallet of its own accord! Oh So Fine, Inc. had its usual tremendous collection of gorgeous jewelry, and they caught me again, with this double phoenix straight from SAGE. How could I resist? I couldn’t, that’s how.

(By the way, the fuzzy blankets used as the backgrounds for these pictures are on the couch because You Know Who lounges on them and sheds her psychotic gray hairs all over. NO, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT MYSELF–SHUT UP!

ANYWAY, here’s what I came back with, other than my way cool convention badge and cardboard name tent, both with my name spelled correctly:

A nifty two-sided business card from Steven Saus with his information on one side and his publishing house, Alliteration Ink, on the other. He got it from America’s Printer, which he recommends highly.

A bookmark from Mary Turzillo printed with one of her poems from her dark poetry collection, Lovers & Killers. The bottom has a blank space labeled Time: and Place: so she can fill in different information for different events, making the bookmarks very flexible.

A promotional postcard for an anthology called Cucurbital 2, “seven authors — three prompts — one anthology”, with a picture of a turtle carved from a watermelon on one side and the prompt words turtle, watermelon, and sex worker on the other.

An Official Visitors Map of Columbus to add to my collection of city maps, in case I ever set a story in Columbus, Ohio.

A promotional postcard advertising A Dic-tio-na-ry of Made-Up Languages: From Adunaic to Elvish, Zaum to Klingon — The Anwa (Real) Origins of Invented Lexicons by the brilliant Stephen D. Rogers.

A paper with a recipe for isolating DNA. We used wheat germ, and it worked! I tried it yesterday with our grandson — no, no, I mean our grandson and I tried it together — but I didn’t have any wheat germ, and barley didn’t work for us. So I’m going to buy some wheat germ and we’ll try it again.

And, finally, a nifty sign that says “I write fiction. What’s your superpower?

Nifty swag, eh? Aarrr, sez I!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Next time you’re out and about, pick up some free papers or samples at random. When you get home, look through them and see what use they can be in your writing.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Swag

  1. Jane

    October 4, 2012 at 11:17am

    Hail, O Queen of Swag!

    Thanks for the links. I’m looking hard at the Made-up Lingo book. Yowzer!

    BTW: I just learned that the alien language in Fifth Element was crafted by the director, and Mila Jovovich spent 4 months learning to become fluent in it…AND she and the director -Luc Besson- could carry on conversations in it! THAT is cool.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      October 4, 2012 at 2:38pm

      That is VERY cool! Reminds me of Mark Wingus of the Louisville Youth Orchestra. Did you know him? Did you know his private sign language? I did some work in high school developing a written form of it. Yeah, I know: If I’d devoted that time to studying….

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      • Jane

        October 5, 2012 at 10:01am

        Hi. That name IS familiar. Did he ever attend any of your slumber parties??

        I didn’t need to be baffled by a private sign language. Linda Carol and Delores used Amaslan on occasion. I learned much later that Linda had learned it to translate for some kid in one of her classes. The things you don’t know about people huh?

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          October 5, 2012 at 12:08pm

          He may have. He developed it so he and his friends could communicate privately in orchestra rehearsals, since so many orchestra members used Amaslan.

          Linda has always had a deep vein of awesomeness, as befits a Peyton. 🙂

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