Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: June 2018 Page 1 of 2

Kansas City represents, at SoonerCon 27!

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest 

I hope you can endure one more post about SoonerCon 27, held June 22-24, 2018 in Midwest City, OK. This one’s about Kansas City artists at SoonerCon 27.

At left is my SoonerCon 27 Art Show display; at right is my friend Rachael Mayo, another Kansas City-based artist who specializes in dragons. One of hers, titled Shadowgorge 4, very deservedly won a Peer Choice Nucleon Award in the Professional Artist category. She came in second to John Picacio, which is not doing badly at all.

Rachael and I weren’t the only Kansas City artists in the SoonerCon Art Show, however. Fellow Kansas Citian Allison Stein filled several panels with her small, one-of-a kind mixed-media artworks featuring quirky animals with attitude.

Also present but not exhibiting work in the Art Show were Kansas City author/artists Sherri Dean and James Hollaman.

IMAGES: Both photos in this post were taken by me (Jan S. Gephardt); in the case of Rachael’s photo, with her permission and cooperation (I asked her to smile. This is what she gave me. Twice. “That is my happy face,” she said). If you wish to reblog or re-post these images, please attribute both me and Rachael, and include a link back to this post, if possible. Many thanks!

Over and con too soon!

I’m freshly back from SoonerCon 27, and what an excellent convention it was! They had some great guests, excellent programming and fun special events. One blog post (or even several) couldn’t do justice to it, but here’s a small taste of what I enjoyed most.

SoonerCon 27’s lineup of featured guests included: L-R: Lloyd Lee BarnettGlenn GarlandJerry BennettCarrie VaughnJohn PicacioStan LoveLarry Nemecek, and Selina RosenHere they are at Opening Ceremonies on Friday, June 22, 2018.

One last time at the Reed Center in Midwest City

As ever, the people-watching at SoonerCon 27 was delightful, whether one was on the upper-level concourse, at the Artists Alley on the lower level, or in the Dealers Room.

Some of the many talented people who showed up in costumes at SoonerCon 27.
Some of the action in the Artists Alley at SoonerCon 27.
One corner of the Dealers Room–pardon, the Exhibitors Hall–at SoonerCon 27.

This was SoonerCon’s final year at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City, OK. Next year they’ll shift to the first weekend in June (oh, goody! Back-to-back with ConQuesT!) and relocate to the Embassy Suites and Convention Center in Norman, OK.

The Art Show and “World Peace Through Chocolate” Artists Reception

I hope they can give the SoonerCon Art Show, capably run this year by Marcia Bull and her excellent crew, more room at the Embassy Suites, because we were really crammed in there pretty good, despite having both Reed Center Ballrooms A and B.

The “World Peace Through Chocolate” Artists Reception was pretty crowded inside the Art Show itself, but maybe they’ll have more room next year. Photo taken with permission of the Art Show Staff.
The artwork of John Picacio, the Artist Guest of Honor, was the first thing you saw when you stepped inside the SoonerCon 27 Art Show. During the reception, a whole lot of people stepped inside! Photo taken with permission from the Art Show Staff and John Picacio.

The Friday night “World Peace Through Chocolate”Artists Reception spilled out of the Art Show into the ConSuite area, dubbed “Ten Forward.” The chocolate very quickly disappeared, of course. But we all stayed peaceful.

Panels and Readings 

There were way too many interesting panels and readings to see everything I wanted to! I had a reading and five panels (to my delight, I got to moderate ALL of them! Yes!), and yes, I enjoy staying busy at an sf con, so that was just fine by me. I don’t have pictures of my own events, but here are glimpses of some others I did have a chance to attend and enjoy.

I didn’t have as many chances to listen to author readings as I like, but I did enjoy the trio of Urban Fantasy readings on Saturday morning by (L-R) Trakena PrevostSeth Skorkowskyand Rosemary Clement-Moore.
It would’ve been lovely if the “Black Panther and Intersectionality” panel had been scheduled for two hours and the biggest ballroom–but we had a fascinating discussion, and the room was packed. Panelists, L-R: Kimber ChessmoreTrakena PrevostShai FenwickVickey Malone KennedyJeff ProvineTyrell Gephardt, and Dan Erickson.
The “Because, Aliens!” panel discussion ranged far and wide, from the gradual thinning of hominid species in prehistory, through cryptozoology, genitalia, and would you believe . . . Torah? Panelists, L-R: Tim FrayserTyrell GephardtGloria OliverSelina RosenLinda L. Donahue, and Mark Alfred.
Scheduling the “Do Cons Still Matter?” panel at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday of the convention probably skewed the bias of the audience and participants just a tad, but it was fun to get perspectives from individuals of several different generations, who participate in several different subgenres of fandom. Fielding questions from an engaged audience were (L-R) panelists James MurrayTim FrayserSummer Rain Cosplay, and Caleb Haldane.

Like all good things, eventually the weekend had to end. The magic, along with the costumes and propsgame paraphernaliaart show, and panel discussions, went back into their boxes till next time.

Lowering the “boo” during tear-down and pack-up after the con. This skeleton had spent the weekend suspended over an Artists Alley display, beneath a simulated Pit of Sarlacc. How often do you get to see that?

I thoroughly enjoyed SoonerCon 27. Kudos to Con Chair Aislinn Burrows, the SoonerCon Committee, and the Future Society of Central Oklahoma! You put on a GREAT convention. I’m already looking forward to SoonerCon 28!

IMAGES: All photos were taken by me (Jan S. Gephardt), with appropriate permissions. If you wish to re-post any of them, please do so with an attribution to me as the photographer, and a link back to the post, if possible. Many thanks, and I hope you enjoyed them!

Handmade is special

The Artdog Quote of the Week

I’ve spent a lot of time this month talking about ways to support authors, especially Indie authors, whose work we admire and enjoy.

But as a paper sculptor and a lifelong small-creative-businessperson (in between my teaching gigs, which in their own way were also an artisanal endeavor), I’d like to use June’s final Quote of the Week to remind my readers of all the small creative businesses in the world whose artists and artisans craft unique, beautiful, soul-satisfying handmade things.

Handmade means each is unique, with its own small variations, even if it’s part of an edition.

Handmade means the artist or artisan devoted individual time, attention, and craftsmanship to create it.

Handmade is the heart of small, creative businesses.

Support handmade.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Amanda Williams (on Pinterest) and Menucha/Moms and Crafters, for this image.

Surprise Encounter

The Artdog Image of Interest

Surprise Encounter (2015-2018), a one-of-a-kind original mixed media paper sculpture by Jan S. Gephardt.

This is my newest fantasy paper sculpture, titled Surprise Encounter (2015-2018). I’ll be showing it in public for the first time at the SoonerCon 27 Art Show, June 22-24, 2018.

It features two of my favorite fantasy creatures, dragons. As in all of the Gemflower Series, they are tiny dragons, but still quite fierce! Their iridescent wings and bodies consist of several layers, including touches of interference metallic acrylic paint on the scales and feathers of the uppermost layer. The flower, based on a Gerbera daisy, has four layers of petals. The image area of the sculpture is approximately 8 X 9 X 0.375 inches.

IMAGE: I took this photo of my original paper sculpture, Surprise Encounter. Feel free to re-post this image, as long as you include the information that it’s artwork by Jan S. Gephardt, and link back to this page. Note: I apologize that the photo has a shadow of me in it! I had to work on a very tight time frame this week getting ready for the convention, and–well, this photo is better than nothing, I hope! I’m working on developing a better system.

Soon at SoonerCon!

I’m on the road again this week.

This time I’ll travel with my fantasy paper sculpture artwork (including a new piece! Stay tuned for this week’s Image of Interest!), an excerpt to read, from my soon-to-be published sf novel What’s Bred in the Boneand a whole sheaf of program notes to SoonerCon 27 (I’m moderating five panels this weekend).

I hope to see you there!

SoonerCon 27 is this year’s edition of what has become one of my favorite science fiction conventions in recent years. Held at the Reed Center in Midwest City, OK (near Oklahoma City), features a nice location, normally a great crowd of science fiction and fantasy fans, and a strong lineup of professional guests.

My Programming Schedule:


5:00 p.m. – Steampunk & Alternate History: a Primer – Jan moderates; fellow panelists: Julie Barrett, David CarricoK.W. Jeter, and Bradley H. Sinor.

8:00-10:00 p.m. – Art Show Reception.


10:00 a.m. – “SF Sampler” Readings by Walt BoyesJan S. GephardtA. Lee Martinez, and Adrian Simmons.

12:00 noon – Finding Light in Tales of Darkness – Jan moderates; fellow panelists: Cary OsborneTed PennellaAdrian SimmonsSue Sinor, and Seth Skorkowsky.

3:00 p.m. – Murders, Mysteries & Mayhem – Jan moderates; fellow panelists: David CarricoRachel CaineLee KilloughSeth Skorkowskyand Craig Wolf.

5:00 p.m. – From Science Fiction to Science Reality – Jan moderates; fellow panelists: Astronaut Stan LoveLou AntonelliClifford “Kip” McMurrayRichard Morgan, and Adrian Simmons.

6:00 p.m. – Art Auction.


11:00 a.m. – You’ll only Last a Week: A World Without Water – Jan moderates; fellow panelists: Adrian SimmonsDeborah ChesterPaula Helm MurrayRook RileyThe Dream.

A photo from the doorway into last year’s SoonerCon Art Show.

Don’t miss the SoonerCon 27 Art Show!

I’ll have a brand-new paper sculpture on display at this year’s SoonerCon Art Show. It debuts in the art show on Friday 22nd. It also will go live as my Image of Interest on Friday.

Please watch for it–and come to the show, if you’re at SoonerCon!

IMAGES: Many thanks to SoonerCon 27’s website for the opening header. I took the photo from outside the Art Show last year at SoonerCon 26. Feel free to re-post it, but please include an attribution and a link back to this post. Thanks!

Don’t drive them to take up scorpion-petting

The Artdog Quote of the Week

IMAGE: Many thanks to Debbie Ridpath Ohi and Liana Brooks, for this reminder of the importance of book reviews. Thank your favorite author in a way that counts!

Help an author

The Artdog Image of Interest

In keeping with this month’s “Write reviews, already!” theme (emphasizing the importance of book reviews for author ratings), I thought this was an appropriate image to share.

IMAGE: The origin of today’s Image of Interest, “Help an Author–Leave a Review,” is complicated. I have unfortunately lost the history of the search that originally put the file in my folder, although I have a feeling it came through Pinterest. According to Tineye Reverse Image Search this image originated in February of 2010 on the “permanently under construction” Conferences page of the Theoretical Chemistry Group of the Bergische Universität Wuppertal in Wuppertal, Germany. The image has “crawled” at least 20 times since. Maybe 21, counting this post?

Found on Twitter

Jennifer Foehner Wells

Back in ancient days before the Tweeter-in-Chief became a thing and I became more focused on boosting my productivity, I could beguile hours at a time on Facebook and Twitter. I made some great discoveries during that time period, including the marvelous Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@inkyelbows), who writes and illustrates children’s fiction, creates delightful cartoons about the writing life, and turns doodles, found objects and table detritus into fanciful visions.

Patrick Weekes

I also discovered sf authors for older-than-children, especially Jennifer Foehner Wells, who’s become one of my all-time favorites (and a great inspiration), right up there with Lois McMaster Bujold and Louise Penny, as well as another Indie, Zen Di Pietrowhose space opera series I’m not done reading yet (reviews to come at a future date).

During the same period, I discovered Patrick Weekes, a fantasy author whose unique takes on magic systems and morality within what looks like high fantasy world kept me reading and chuckling (He also happens to be the lead writer for the Dragon Age game).

Since my theme this month is catching up on my reviews, I thought I’d dedicate this post to reviewing books by two of my “Twitter finds,” Wells and Weekes.

I’ve already reviewed two of Wells’ booksFluency and Remanence. I figure it’s now time for a couple more, along with Weekes’ Rogues of the Republic TrilogyYou know if they’re featured on my blog, I think they’re worth reading. Now let me tell you why.

The Confluence Series continues

Darcy Eberhardt’s story ended up being rebranded as Book Three of the Confluence Series (with two different Galen Dara covers), but whichever title you read it under, it’s quite a ride.
JaneAlanBrai, and the rest of the Speroancora crew are back for another adventure in Valence (with a Stephan Martiniere cover)–in which Zara, an interesting new voice, also chimes in for Book Four.

Turning the tables on The Most Dangerous Game

Inheritance (published earlier as The Druid Gene)

By Jennifer Foehner Wells

Here’s a new twist on the “abducted by aliens” idea, from an author whose entire “Confluence Series” deserves attention. Darcy Eberhardt is a second-year medical student who steals a break from studying for a test, to take an overnight camping trip with her boyfriend Adam. He’s determined to take her to a special place he’s found, so she can relax and rest.

It’s pretty special, all right. Unwittingly, Adam has led her to a place where a secret hidden for millennia in her genetic makeup can suddenly activate—and land them both squarely in the bulls-eye of an interstellar target.

Can Darcy learn to control and use her ancient gift—as well as all of her other aptitudes and capabilities—to forge new bonds with undreamed-of allies, and rescue both herself and Adam from the trap they’ve fallen into? Join her for a crash course in the myriad lifeforms of the “Confluence” universe (including a reunion for some Wells readers with Hain, protagonist of her novelette The Grove), as Darcy struggles to confront the most dangerous lifeform in her new, expanded world, and pass the hardest test of all.

A note on the covers: both The Druid Gene and Inheritance have covers by Galen Dara, whose distinctive style adorns much of Wells’ website, too.
A riveting space opera series, and a worthy new addition to the cast
The “Confluence” series continues to provide fascinating non-Terran worlds and cultures, and plenty of excitement, danger and suspense to keep me turning the pages. This book brings together our old friends, Jane Holloway, Alan Bergen, Ei’Brai the kuboderan, and the rest of the Speroancora crew, as well as their accumulating list of friends from an accumulating list of worlds.
Some of these friends realign themselves into new configurations in this episode. We also get relatively brief glimpses of Darcy and Hain, but even more striking is a parallel plotline that introduces a strong new character, Zara, along with some other very cool new characters and a whole lot of new complications.
All the while, our assorted friends do their part to support each others’ quests and keep the Swarm away from Earth. Relationships continue to evolve in realistic ways. Wells has written a worthy next chapter in this riveting space opera series, and has brought in a great new plotline. This is science fiction the way it OUGHT to be written! I already can’t wait for the next book.
A note on the cover: As with Fluency and RemanenceStephan Martiniere created the cover art for Valence. Wells has credited his covers as a factor in her early success. It’s a case in point for Indies: people DO often judge books by their covers. Invest wisely in a cover from a real professional!

The Rogues of the Republic Trilogy

Cover design and illustrations by Lili IbrahimDeron Bennett and Jason Blackburn do a remarkable job of keeping the look of Patrick Weekes‘ Rogues of the Republic series visually consistent (extremely important) despite the changing artistic hands for each book.
Will skill, grit and a large bag of magical tricks be enough?
Getting imprisoned for life on the impossible-to-escape crystals of the lapiscaela was not necessarily part of the plan.
But Loch, along with her band of rascals, rogues and magical miscreants are adaptable. Misdirection and sleight-of-hand might be pickpockets’ tools, but they know how to employ those techniques and a whole lot more to further their ends—which actually are more worthy than they’d ever want to admit. Now, if only the implacable Justicar Pyvic wasn’t so dedicated to tracking them down!
Soon it becomes clear that escaping from the lapiscaela was the easy part of their quest to regain a treasured artifact stolen from Loch’s family. Before it’s over she and her diverse companions (who include a shapeshifting unicorn, a talking magical warhammer, a disgraced mage, and a handful of others) will take on thugs, bullies, and power-mongering politicians, take a zombie for a stroll, and fight the Hunter Mirrkir, who is not mortal. But that’s just the warm-up.
Patrick Weekes brings to life a memorable cast of characters in a vivid fantasy world that is diverse, perverse, and consistently unlike others you may previously have explored.
May the best cheater win . . . 
How can a book of naughty elf-poetry keep the Republic and the Empire out of a war?
Former Scout, rogue, and daughter of an all-but-extinct noble house in her homeland, Loch doesn’t mind indulging in a little thievery, if that’s what it takes, and she has an intrepid band of friends and fellow miscreants to help her. This crew of sorcerers, sleight-of-hand artists, safecrackers, acrobats and others, as well as possibly the outcome of a high-stakes card game, may be all that stands between peace and mutually-assured destruction.
But there’s a lot of interference to run, between the golems, daemons, elves, dwarves, mercenaries . . . And did I mention the dragon?
A more unlikely lot of heroes you’d be hard-pressed to find, and they line up some unlikely allies, too—some of whom prove more trustworthy than others. Patrick Weekes once again brings all the seemingly-chaotic parts together for a fast-paced, adventure in which the dangers are high, but the cost of losing is even higher.
Beset on all sides in the hardest test yet

The Paladin Caper

Targeted where it hurts the most: their families!
The Ancients want to rise again, but they’ve been stymied by Loch and her band of “unusual suspects” twice, now. This time they’ll stop at nothing, and they have a head start. They’ve already infiltrated the highest ranks of the Republic. Their tentacles reach everywhere, and Loch’s group has no lack of mortal enemies with grudges too.
Not to mention enthralled elves and dwarves, golems galore, and a temple full of reanimated-but-dead priests among the obstacles. With the team scattered and hard-pressed, and the Glimmering Folk on the march, Loch would die to stop the Ancients.
Or has she, already?

IMAGES: Many thanks to Joe’s Geek Fest, for the head shot of Jennifer Foehner Wells (be sure to read Joe’s review while you’re at it!), and to Goodreads, for Patrick Weekes‘ head shot. Thanks are due to Amazon for ALL of the covers: The Druid GeneInheritanceValence, The Palace Job, The Prophecy Con, and The Paladin Caper. 

Have you thanked an author today?

The Artdog Quote of the Week

While preparing last Wednesday’s post, I found several images and quotes on this subject. It seemed as if my Quotes of the Week were finding themselves for me. I figure if I post them now, before my own book is out, I can promote a message that’s dear to my heart at a time when it’s not too embarrassingly self-serving.

The truth of the matter is, it’s really hard for any author–traditionally published or Indie–to help more people find his/her book, especially when s/he’s just starting out. Traditional publishers set an author loose upon the world with a stamp of approval–somebody already thought this was good. But a new author is allotted no advertising budget by his/her publisher, and no promotional help. So once the book is produced, they’re in the same boat as the Indie (just making lots less on each sale).

No matter how it’s published, readers need to know about new books they might like. And authors’ careers and future as producers of more excellent books absolutely live or die by how many people find, enjoy, and share the information about their book.

One excellent way to get out the word about a good new book is through reviews that readers write and post: on Amazon, definitely. But also on Goodreads, on other review sites, on social media, on one’s own blog–anywhere possible.

Reviews don’t have to be long, either. Most people won’t read past 50-100 words, so stop there, especially if you’re crunched for time. A review short enough to tweet is a hundred times better than no review at all, “because I don’t have time.”

IMAGE: Many thanks to Monica Hart on Pinterest, for this image!


The Artdog Image(s) of Interest 

Isaac Asimov does not need my reviews, as so many contemporary authors do. But after having recently completed the classic “Robot” Trilogy, these three reviews were a pleasure to write. If you haven’t yet taken this walk back into an earlier view of the future, you really might want to give them a try. They’re classics for a reason. Dated? Sure. But even so, there’s a lot to enjoy.

The Caves of Steel

The opening novel of this major science fiction trilogy from the 1950s is a classic, odd-couple, “buddy cop” pairing. Elijah Baley is an Earth-born detective who profoundly distrusts the high-and-mighty Spacers, who think they’re better than those who stayed on Earth–and that goes double for the Spacers’ robots, who threaten to do away with ordinary people’s jobs and livelihoods. So of course when a prominent Spacer is killed while on Earth, and Baley is assigned to investigate, who should they name as his partner but a robot? And not just any robot. R. Daneel Olivaw is made in the likeness of the murdered Spacer, right down to the smallest hair. Cultures clash, misunderstandings ensue–but there’s a mystery to solve. This book opens a world of wonders (some of them highly improbable, given today’s understandings) and strong prejudices. A major theme is pushing one’s boundaries to open up new tolerance to “the other.” It’s a theme we could profitably revisit today.

The Naked Sun

I think this is my favorite of Asimov’s three classic “Robot” novels. It’s a well-made mystery, and once again involves a cast of interesting characters in a very unusual culture. Elijah Baley is promoted and sent (against his will) away from Earth as a special favor to the powerful Aurorans. His mission: unravel a seemingly-insoluble murder on another planet, Solaria, for which the only suspect is a beautiful young woman named Gladia Delmarre–who swears she didn’t do it. Baley is teamed up once again with the inimitable R. Daneel Olivaw. Together–and occasionally at odds with each other–they unravel the mystery in a way that only someone willing to “think outside the box” could do. Meanwhile, Baley continues to expand his horizons and push himself to new lengths against conditioning he’s accepted all his life . Some of the extremely dated assumptions underlying the entire world made the whole work even more interesting to me.

The Robots of Dawn

By the time this third installment was written, some of the tech was already looking and feeling a little obsolete–but Asimov is regarded as a master for good reason. This book brings Earth Detective Elijah Baley, his sometimes-partner R. Daneel Olivaw, and the Solarian, Gladia Delmarre, back together again, in new circumstances on the primary Spacer planet of Aurora. But Gladia’s in trouble again, and Baley still has un-dealt-with feelings for her from their earlier encounter. This book explores them and brings the trilogy to a resolution, while allowing Baley, once again, to use his powers of deduction in a way only a man NOT of Auroran culture could. Another fascinating take on culture clashes and assumptions made—even while it remains blind to some of the assumptions of the time period in which it was written.

IMAGES: I took photos of the covers of books in my possession, to make the composite as consistent as possible. The cover art for The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are both by Stephen Youll. Cover design for The Robots of Dawn is by Kiyoshi Kanai.

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