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 (, 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?

There’s Art at a Science Fiction Convention?

Science fiction convention art shows can be a little confusing if you’ve never experienced one. It’s not an art fair, where artists set up a booth for the weekend. It’s not a gallery, where art is hung on big white walls with little title cards. It’s more like a cross between a silent auction and a pop-up store in the mall during the holidays.

I’ve participated in the ConQuesT art show annually for the past 14 years. I’ve even been co-director of the show a couple of times. Here’s how it works:

The art show staff and volunteers set up wire grid to use as display walls in a hotel ballroom on Thursday night, then hang art that was mailed in by non-attending artists. Attending artists hang their own art when they arrive on Thursday night or Friday morning.

Steampunk Dragon

Steampunk Dragon

We use S-hooks and plastic hang tabs (or binder clips!) to hang the art on the display grids. 3-D art is displayed on tables. Each piece has a bid sheet with the artist’s name, the title, the media used, its designation as an original or numbered print, both a minimum bid and a direct sale price, and a place to write a bid. Artists pay for their display space, and the art show takes a commission on art sold.

There is usually an area designated as the “print shop”, where you can buy whatever fixed-price limited edition prints the artists have placed there.

Professor Skeptical

Professor Skeptical

The art show opens midday on Friday to registered attendees of the convention and to random members of the public who stumble onto it while in the hotel. Silent bids are accepted until late Saturday afternoon, and the most popular pieces (based on number of bids) go to voice auction on Saturday night. If you place a minimum bid on a piece and you’re the only bidder, you pay for it on Sunday morning and take it home. If you love the piece so much you don’t want to risk losing it to another bidder, you pay the direct sale price right then and there and you take it home.

On Sunday, after all the sold art has been picked up and paid for, the artists pack up their unsold pieces and verify with the art show director which ones have sold. Artists receive a check by mail a few weeks later. When it’s done, the staff and volunteers disassemble the display grids and return them to storage until next year.

Miss Mary's Hat

Miss Mary’s Hat

ConQuesT was good to me this year. My favorite skeptical bunny, a steampunk dragon I had shown for several years, and several of my small mixed media pieces found new homes. I also received a special gift: A hat that belonged to Miss Mary, one of my biggest fans, who passed away a few months ago. Miss Mary was a sweetheart in every sense of the word, and she is dearly missed.

Next up is SoonerCon in Oklahoma City at the end of June.

Art Demo at ConQuesT

Art Demo at ConQuesT

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.]

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 (

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!