A Brief Encounter with Harlan Ellison

Archon is one of my favorite science fiction conventions. This year, they brought one of my long-time favorite authors as special guest: Harlan Ellison.

Harlan Ellison at Archon.

Harlan Ellison at Archon.

I discovered Ellison’s short stories in the late 1970s, when I was in high school. My first real-life encounter with the author was when the university booked him as a speaker. I convinced my mother to take me to see him. I was probably 15 at the time, and my little sister was probably 10. Mom drove us there: 45 minutes in a sleet storm. We sat in the front row, me clutching a first edition of his collection, Strange Wine. When Ellison approached the lectern, clad in brown corduroy and clutching a pipe, he announced that due to there being minors in the audience (glaring at me and my little sister there on the front row) that he would be delivering a PG-version of his planned talk that evening.

My second real-life encounter with the author was at the NASFIC in Atlanta in the late 1990s. It was the hottest day in July; his reading was in a small meeting room with glass windows on two sides and an air conditioning system that couldn’t compensate for that plus the body heat generated by 150 people packed into a room built for 50. We sat wherever we could squeeze our elbows in, including on the floor behind and around him. The signing line went on for nearly ever, but I got to chat with him briefly when my turn came. I told him the story about that evening at the university.

Archon 39, held Oct. 2-4, 2015, was my third encounter with Harlan Ellison. I came unprepared, with no books to be signed. (I know they’re in the living room bookcase… somewhere.) I planned to buy a new one at the con. I also arrived too late to his panel to find a seat, so I sat on the floor near the front of the room. The panel topic was The Future of Science Fiction. His co-panelists were Esther Friesner, Rich Horton, Van Allen Plexico, and Mark W. Tiedemann. Ellison may look frail, but his mind and his tongue are still very sharp. Afterward, the signing line went on for nearly ever, but as my friends and I neared the table, I learned he had sold out of the new collection I wanted. I dashed into the dealer’s room to buy the copy I saw there earlier that morning. Successful in my quest, I dashed back to the signing line. When it was my turn, we chatted briefly about the book and whether I had been in the signing line the day before. I told him I have been a fan since the ‘70s, but I did not tell him the story about that evening at the university.

Harlan Ellison signing at Archon.

Harlan Ellison signing at Archon.

I saw Harlan Ellison again on Sunday morning as he and his entourage prepared to leave the hotel. I saluted him as they wheeled him to his car. He saluted back.

Belated Thanks for a Great Archon!

I had a wonderful time at Archon weekend before last (Oct. 2-4,2015). Archon is one of my favorite science fiction conventions.

From my perspective as a panelist and participating artist, everything ran smoothly. I need to send a big shout out to the concom, especially the programming team, the art show team, and the volunteers: Awesome job, ya’ll!

Thank you shout-outs also to Alan D and his awesome first aid skills  (No worries. It’s just a bruise!); the Dread Pirate Meghan, The Fourth Doctor, and Skerri Sherri for graciously agreeing to stand still while we sketched them; Clare Ashgrove and David Pedersen for being awesome panel moderators, and Yard Dog Press authors and fans for putting on another gut-bustingly funny road show readings with interpretive dance.

All in all, it was another successful convention. I’m already looking forward to next year!

My Archon Schedule

Art for Archon 2016

Art for Archon 2016

The fine folks at Archon 39 have posted the programming schedule for this weekend and it looks like it’s going to be a great weekend! You’ll find my art in the show and me in person on the following panels:


7:30 PM — Art Reception, Great Rivers Ballroom B

9 PM — Yard Dog Press Presents Readings and Interpretive Dance, Marquette B


1 PM — Draw with the Pros, Marquette B

5 PM — The Ad-Lib Game (M), Marquette B

7 PM — The First Editor: Yourself, Marquette B


10 AM — My Favorite Art Medium (M), Mississippian

Noon — Marketing for the Self-Published Author, Mississippian

Don’t forget to stop by the art show and ogle the art (and buy some, perhaps?). Also, stop by the Yard Dog Press booth in the Dealers Room and buy books. Lots and lots of fun-to-read books. See you there!

My ConQuesT Schedule

Here’s my schedule for ConQuesT, which will be held Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-25, 2014) at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.

Friday May 23

4 pm The Business of Art
There is more than one way to make a living pursuing a career of art. This panel will explore ways to use social media, conventions, festivals, and networks to sell your artwork. We will also discuss the pitfalls of beginning artists. [They call us “starving artists” for a reason…]

Saturday May 24

10 am British SF Television
Why are their programs so good? From Doctor Who to Red Dwarf to Primeval, SF programs on British TV have been good.  Why is that? [Seriously? Primeval? That is soooo several seasons ago. Let’s talk about Orphan Black!]

1 pm Story In A Bag (M)
Everyone in the room will write a story in a hour! Pull a slip of paper out of each bag (plot elements, settings, characters, first lines, objects) that MUST all be used in the story. You will have one hour to compose and edit your story. Stories will be posted (anonymously) in the Con Suite and members of the convention will vote on which ones they like most, with winners announced at closing ceremonies! There’s also special bags with story elements for our Young Fan division.  So, amateur or pro, young or not so young, come on up and write something! [We’re only doing one session this year instead of two. ]

3 pm Why Sci-Fi and Fantasy Art?
Panelists will discuss why they are attracted to fantasy and science fiction art and the philosophy behind their art.  How this type of art is viewed by the art world in general and ways to present sci-fi and fantasy art beyond fandom and why this might or might not be important.

4 pm Books, Books Everywhere
For those fans who are having trouble finding their bed, fridge, pet, etc. because they are running out of space to store their books, this panel explores how others have solved the dilemma of storage and organization of large book collections. [Solved? Who are they kidding. There’s never enough room for books! Or art supplies!]

Sunday May 25

10 am How Many Doctors?
“The Day of the Doctor” raised an interesting question: With the addition of John Hurt’s War Doctor, does the number of Doctors change? Does the Doctor get any more regenerations?” [I suspect this will be hotly debated.]

SoonerCon 22 was Awesome!

SoonerCon 22 (2013)

Laura J. Underwood and Selina Rosen

Another SoonerCon is over and done, and a fabulous time was had. Of all the conventions I attend each year, SoonerCon is my favorite. Big thanks and a shout-out to Leonard Bishop, Matthew Alfred, Aislinn Burrows, Jerry Wall, Kimber Chessmore, and the entire concom team for all their hard work.

Thanks and hugs go out to them as well for making me and the rest of the Yard Dog Press pack of feral chihuahuas feel welcome and appreciated. There were more than 20 of us Yard Dog authors and artists on site, and you couldn’t throw a rock (not that you would, of course) without hitting a member of our pack wearing a yellow fedora, bandanna, or button. (Branding works, ya’ll.)

SoonerCon 22 (2013)

Sherri Dean

SoonerCon’s biggest change — their move to the Reed Conference Center and Sheraton Hotel in Midwest City, OK — was all for the good. The facilities were clean, comfortable, and functional.

There was no traditional consuite this year, but food was available in the conference center at a reasonable price in the 10 Forward Lounge, there was a cash bar at the evening events, and they even arranged for two local food truck vendors to set up shop right outside the conference center door on Saturday evening. The egg roll man rocked, and his cherry pie dessert egg roll was very yummy.

(FYI: Do not inhale while attempting to eat something covered in powdered sugar. Don’t ask me how I know. )

The dealer’s room was so packed with a variety of goodies that traffic flow was a little congested, but that’s not entirely a bad thing — all the more pretties and baubles to select from. The Yard Dog Press table was front and center, and I’m told we had one of our best sales weekends ever. (Another big thank you to everyone who bought our books!)

SoonerCon 22 (2013)

Lynn at the Yard Dog Press table, displaying Selina Rosen’s new book.

The art show was again the smoothly run event I’ve come to expect, and they made great use of the space and lighting to show off our work. I had to dash off to my first panel before I could complete the traditional artist check-in, but I was confident that I could leave my paperwork with them to finish the job and it would all be fine. And it was.

I sold a couple of my new pieces to my biggest fan in Oklahoma, who gave me some neat ideas to ponder for new work. (Thanks, Telia!)

SoonerCon 22 (2013)

Good morning, SoonerCon! Some people are entirely too perky for that time of con.

The programming was plentiful and broad, and the quality was consistent with that of previous years. Topics covered art, comics, music, cosplay and costuming, media, and more, ranging from a discussion of cryptozoology to e-publishing to propaganda to cyberpunk to superheroes.

There were also plenty of non-panel events — films, fan gatherings, gaming, masquerade, music, and an art show reception. Even the hallways were packed with people, including the maker’s alley (artists, authors, and others) on the first floor, and the fan group tables on the second floor.

SoonerCon 22 (2013)

Bland Lemon Denton and The Honey Badger

Finally, I really enjoyed the music stylings of Bland Lemon Denton and the Honey Badger of Awesome on Friday night. I wish I could have made time to see David Lee Anderson and the Starcruisers, but there was so much going on that night, including the Art Show reception.

Bottomline, SoonerCon was great! I’m looking forward to attending SoonerCon again next year. Mark your calendars for June 27-29, 2014: Same bat time, same bat channel.