My ConQuesT 47 Schedule

Conquestlogo_47Another ConQuesT weekend has arrived. I have art in the art show, and here’s my programming schedule:

Story in a Bag SAT 10 AM & Story in a Bag SAT 12 PM

Women of Star Trek SAT 3 PM
From Lieutenant Uhura to Captain Janeway women have been an important part of the Star Trek franchise. This panel will discuss the role of women in the Star Trek franchise and how it has evolved and changed over the years.

Play it Again, Sam: Rewatching, Rereading, and Replaying the Greats SAT 5 PM
Some stories are like a drive-through dinner: cheap, easy, and ultimately disposable. But more often than not, our all-time favorites reward – or even require – revisiting multiple times in order to get the most out of them. What is it about a great story that urges us to keep returning to it – and what’s the secret to crafting a story that your audience will keep coming back to?

Writer with a Day Job (M) SUN 11 AM
How to balance your “real” job and your dream job. Is everything possible, or does something have to give?

I’ve also been managing the ConQuesT website and social media, as well as managing the Story In A Bag and Writer’s Critique events. It has been a busy couple of months preparing for this three-day event. See you there?

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!

Time Flies….

May, June, and July were very very busy months for me. I attended four science fiction conventions (Spectrum, ConQuest, SoonerCon, and Contemplation) and an academic conference on the literature of science fiction (The Campbell Conference). I participated in two art shows (ConQuesT, SoonerCon). I took a road trip to Arkansas to celebrate with the good folks of Yard Dog Press. We celebrated two national holidays with friends, saw a couple of musicals at Starlight, and saw a movie or two or three. My husband had surgery, I was a bit under the weather for a bit myself, and we had house guests. The renovation team finally finished our kitchen and got the heck of our house, and we’re STILL unpacking boxes of kitchen stuff and purging 15 years of acquired clutter. I cleaned my office, rotated my seasonal wardrobe, built a website (ConQuesTkc.org), and then built it again with new, improved graphics and such. Yep. I’ve been a tad busy.

 

My SoonerCon Schedule

Here’s my schedule for SoonerCon, June 27-28 in Oklahoma City:

Friday, June 27

3 pm —Tut, Tut Mummy!
Why this strange fascination with the dried-up husks of dead people? You don’t see movie franchises about Mayans or the Inuit. Why have other myth systems been left behind in the (mummy) dust?

5 pm — A Game of Thrones: A Fan’s Addiction (moderator)
Is the series a dark fantasy or rather, a soap opera with swords and incest? Which character do you hate the most? Who should die next (because probably, they will). Panelists discuss everything Game of Thrones from the books to the television series. *Spoilers may be unavoidable

8 pm — Art Reception

Saturday, June 28

11 am — Dragons: Myths Across the Miles
There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons; the European dragon and the East Asian dragon. How did the legend of the dragon make its way across the continents in the ages of minimal communication and cross-continental travel? What cultural truths can be explained by the similarity of the various dragon myths and forms?

3 pm — Dr. Who: The Anti-Antihero
The Doctor is the best person, er, Timelord ever. Sure, he makes some mistakes but things seem to work out as they were meant to in the end. Is the Doctor’s ultra-goodness his best appeal? What gives him such cross-generational staying power?

4 pm — Yard Dog Press Roadshow

Sunday, June 29

10 am — Koffee Klatch
Meet guests of the convention and enjoy coffee and casual conversation.

12 pm — The Inspired Artist
Artists discuss their real-world inspirations used to create works of SF/F art.

3 pm — Why So Grimm? (moderator)
A gruesome look at the original Grimm’s fairy tales. The dark ’n’ gritty older versions of the folktales that Disney sanitized. Were kids really lulled to sleep hearing about how Cinderella’s stepsisters hacked off their toes to fit the Prince’s slipper?

My New Business Cards

Last week, I decided it was long past time to get professionally printed business cards. You know what they say: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. I’ve printed my own cards for years, but I’ve never been happy with the quality of inkjet on perforated Avery 10-per-sheet card blanks.

Instead of a traditional size business card, I ordered Moo mini-cards. They’re about half the size of a standard business card — about the size of a stick of gum — with a full-color image on one side and my contact info on the other. I chose four related images to use on the full color side. On the other, I’ve included my name, my tag line (Author, Artist, TV Addict, Geek Princess, Cat Servant… not necessarily in that order), my email address, and my web address (AllisonStein.com).

I received my order on Saturday, and they are dangerously adorable! After years of printing my own cards, I’m excited to have something that looks this nice.

I’ll package one with each piece of art I display at ConQuesT, SoonerCon, and Archon this year. I’ll also keep some handy to use when networking at other events, like Spectrum Fantastic Art Live this coming weekend, and the Campbell Conference in June.

My Moo Cards

My 2014 Convention Schedule

Con season is fast approaching. Here’s my convention schedule:

  • Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, Kansas City MO, May 9-11, 2014 (just visiting and soaking up as much inspiration as possible)
  • ConQuesT, Kansas City MO, May 23-25, 2014 (attending, art show, programming)
  • The Campbell Conference, University of Kansas, Lawrence KS, June 13-15, 2014 (just visiting)
  • SoonerCon, Oklahoma City OK, June 27-29, 2014 (attending, art show, programming)
  • Contemplation, Columbia MO, July 11-13, 2014 (tentative, just visiting to support my BFF and Evil Twin — ConBarbie herself — Sherri Dean! She’s the Fan Guest of Honor.)
  • Archon, Collinsville IL, Oct 3-5, 2014 (attending, art show, programming)

Now, off I go to make art!

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.

My SoonerCon Schedule

I’m looking forward to attending SoonerCon this weekend in Oklahoma City. I will have art in the art show, including several new small multimedia pieces. Yard Dog Press authors and artists will be there in abundance! Look for the bright yellow fedoras, and ask us for Coupons of Great Value to receive discounts on our books at the Yard Dog Press table in the Dealers Room.

One thing I truly love about SoonerCon is the programming. The fine folks in charge have put together a thought-provoking selection of panels and assigned me to several intriguing topics:

  • FRI 4PM-B – Metropolis, A Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451: The Foundations of Cyberpunk. Angela Lowry-M, Cyn Burton, Allison Stein, Tim Frayser
  • FRI 5PM-F – Out of Darkness: The Iterations and Resilience of Gene Roddenberry ‘s Star Trek. Larry Nemecek, Zo Leavy-M, Neal Hallford, Allison Stein, Evan Wardwell
  • SAT 2PM-A – OBEY: Everyday Propaganda. Marci Bull, Allison Stein-M, Caroline Spector, Mark Finn
  • SAT 3PM-Theater – YARD DOG ROADSHOW
  • SAT 4PM-E – But Is It Art? Felix Matos, Cyn Burton, Alain Viesca, Dell Harris, Scott Zrubek, Allison Stein-M.
  • SUN 11AM-E – Digital Art as the New Norm. Alain Viesca, Larry Latham-M, Angela Lowry, Scott Zrubek, Allison Stein, Dell Harris

While I could talk all day about cyberpunk, Star Trek, and art, I’m especially looking forward to moderating the session on propaganda, which is especially relevant today when everyone has an agenda, a message to sway you, and the means to distribute it worldwide with a click of a button. The power of propaganda to influence thought and behavior fascinates me, and its ubiquitous use in modern society chills me to the bone.

If you’ve ever copied a status update as your own that challenges someone to “copy this status update” or “share this photo” if you believe in [the cause of the week], you’ve been both a victim of propaganda and a purveyor thereof.

Every message you encounter — from your info-tainment provider of choice, the memes and pages you “Like” on Facebook, and the article and video links you choose to follow and share — uses propaganda techniques to attract your attention, build your trust, separate you from your money, influence your thoughts, and direct the choices you make.

Fox News is notorious for using proven propaganda techniques such as fear, prejudice, flag-waving, half-truths, loaded language, distraction, repetition, and others. Even our local Kansas City news channels use these propaganda techniques to build viewership: one uses fear (of crime, of bad weather, of being ripped-off); another uses authority (claiming to be the metro’s news leader and have the most accurate weather forecast). And on Facebook, there’s the previously mentioned challenges to “copy this status update” or “share this photo” if you believe in [the cause of the week].

That’s why critical thinking skills are more important than ever. If you can’t recognize when propaganda is being used to influence you, you won’t recognize that you’re being manipulated. Don’t be sheep. Consider the source of the message, and learn recognize the propaganda techniques the source is using to mold your thoughts and motivate your actions.

Want to learn more about propaganda? Start here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda_techniques