Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: authors at sf conventions

Information card for Jan's reading

My first original video

What more auspicious day to post my first original video on my own YouTube channel, than on Star Wars Day

What’s my first original video about?

It’s a reading, of the kind I love to do–and attend–at science fiction conventions (Ah! Remember back when it was safe to hold science fiction conventions in person?). The video is about 27 minutes long. It features me, reading Chapter One of The Other Side of Fear.

Alongside a picture of the cover, this information card says, "Jan S. Gephardt reads Chapter 1, 'Planet-Bound,' from her novella 'The Other Side of Fear.' Story  © 2020 by Jan S. Gephardt. Cover artwork  © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk. Published by Weird Sisters Publishing LLC."
Here’s the information that accompanies my video reading.

I owe Virtual DemiCon, and the amazing Joe Struss, a lot of thanks. They premiered this video during their event

They also got me off my butt! I’ve known I probably should do a video reading for a long time, but it’s hard to get off “square one.” Especially when it’s your first foray into a new medium. They provided the needed motivation. Thanks very much! You guys are awesome.

While Virtual DemiCon is still available, please do yourself a favor! Check in, then take in as many of the events as still remain online!

This T-shirt design from Virtual DemiCon has a black background and neon-colored words that read, "Welcome to a world without heroes . . .", "CONTAMINATED," "Legions of DemiCon," and  "HA HA" to suggest an evil laugh.
Thank you to DemiCon for this image.

What makes Star Wars Day appropriate?

The original Star Wars movie made a huge impression on me when it came out in theaters in 1977. I may have lived in Kansas City for more than 40 years, but I didn’t move here till my marriage in 1978. So I managed to miss MidAmeriCon I in 1976, where there was a big display and all the stars came to talk about this movie they were making.

In 1977 I lived and taught in tiny Lockwood, MO. I’d watched and enjoyed Star Trek reruns on TV by then. My soon-to-be husband had turned me on to Frank Herbert’s Dune, and the librarians at the Ash Grove Library had by then gotten me intrigued in science fiction stories from Poul Anderson and Isaac Asimov.
But I had never seen anything like like that movie before

I paid the at-the-time-exorbitant price of $3.00 for a ticket multiple times to see it over and over again (No VHS, no Betamaxnot on my horizon till years later! No Blockbuster Video, and certainly no NetflixHulu, or Disney Plus, back in those ancient days!).

I didn’t go back again and again for the plot. I didn’t go to critique the space physics. No, I went to bask in the spectacle (Artist. Visual creature. I drank it in.)

And not long after that, I started writing my first science fiction novel. I still have the typescript somewhere–typed on a manual Underwood in the evenings, after I finished my lesson plans for the day. It’s horrifying dreck, but it’s the first novel-length fiction I ever actually finished.

A gray 1952 Underwood "Rhythm Touch" manual typewriter like the one I used. Many thanks to Machines of Loving Grace for this photo.
A 1952 Underwood “Rhythm Touch,” like the one I used. Many thanks to Machines of Loving Grace for this photo.

Does that make me a “Warrior,” not a “Trekkie”?

Well, no. As time went on, I came to enjoy lots of different science fiction stories, shows, and films. I love Star Trek, too. And–sorry, diehard “Warriors”–a lot of the Star Wars movies make little to no “real-world” sense (don’t get me started on things I find cringeworthy). 

But the visuals, the droids, other-world creatures, the exotic vistas, the sheer spectacle of the Star Wars moviesthose, I still enjoy. They attracted me in formative ways, during my early days of writing sf. And they bring a nostalgic smile to my lips to this day (well, some of them. Give me Darth Vader in a TIE fighter, but leave Jar-Jar in the closet where he belongs).

So my first original video–my own “mini movie”–that opens a glimpse of my science fictional world, is an appropriate thing to release on Star Wars Day. It’s not too long on spectacle. But I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless.

Here's the villainous Darth Vader in his iconic TIE fighter, hot on Luke Skywalker's tail.
Give me that quintessential villain Darth Vader in his TIE fighter! Many thanks ImgFlip.

IMAGE CREDITS

My video may be found on my YouTube channel.  I created the information card with the Cover for The Other Side of Fear,  plus copyright information, etc. Many thanks to Virtual DemiCon for the “CONTAMINATED” design, to Wikipedia, for the original 1977 Star Wars movie poster image, and to Machines of Loving Grace for the photo of the 1952 Underwood “Rhythm Touch” manual typewriter.  Many thanks also to ImgFlip, for the photo of Darth Vader in his TIE fighter.

One among the panels and readings at SpikeCon, this is a photo of the "Write what you don't know" panel.

Panels and readings at SpikeCon

Panels and readings are among my favorite things to do at science fiction conventions

This is a screen capture of the opening images from the SpikeCon website's homepage. It includes the list of four different conventions that came together in Layton Utah July 4-7, 2019, and shows photos 15 headliner guests, including authors, artists, editors, fans, and others. Many of them did both panels and readings.

Yes, I know this makes me “sercon” (oldstyle fan-speak for “too serious to be any fun”). But I’ve decided I’m just gonna have to “own it.” Diss me if you must, but I like going to panels and readings where I can get new ideas and listen to interesting stories more than I like going to parties where I can’t hear what anyone is saying and most of the people are drunk.

This is the "Editing vs. Beta Reading" panel at SpikeCon. Yes, there is a massive difference, and it was well explored by the panelists. They are, L-R: Multimedia author Dan Wells, Headliner Editor Susan Chang, freelance editor Melissa Meibos, author C.H. Hung, and author/freelance editor Joe Monson.
This is the “Editing vs. Beta Reading” panel at SpikeCon. Yes, there is a massive difference, and it was well explored by the panelists. They are, L-R: Multimedia author Dan WellsHeadliner Editor Susan Changfreelance editor Melissa Meibosauthor C.H. Hung, and author/freelance editor Joe Monson.

I’m happy to report that there were some excellent panels and readings at SpikeCon this year. As I sometimes do, I discovered that I kept bumping into some of the same interesting people over and over at this convention. Of course, that’s partially because many of us have similar interests, and partially because, although some 1,100 memberships were sold to SpikeCon, for a variety of reasons only about 850 people showed up.

The "Privilege and Passing in Genre Fiction" panel at SpikeCon provided a lively and informative discussion of the ways in which characters in our genres reflect (or sometimes misrepresent) issues faced by many people in real life. The knowledgeable and wise panelists are, L-R: Inez Aguilar R., Aften Brook Szymanski, Jayrod P. Garrett, C.H. Hung, and B. Daniel Blatt.
The “Privilege and Passing in Genre Fiction” panel at SpikeCon provided a lively and informative discussion of the ways in which characters in our genres reflect (or sometimes misrepresent) issues faced by many people in real life. The knowledgeable and wise panelists are, L-R: Inez Aguilar R.Aften Brook SzymanskiJayrod P. Garrett, C.H. Hung, and B. Daniel Blatt.

This explains why several of the people in some these pictures are the same people as the ones in other pictures! In fact, the identical same group was scheduled together for two different panels I attended. Lucky for their growing group of devoted followers, they had a range of different things to say each time.

Here's the "Write What You Don't Know" panel at SpikeCon, and no, your eyes do not deceive you. This is the exact same group of panelists from the picture above. Some of them traded seats just to mess with us. But they were every bit as wise and interesting when they talked about doing your research and seeking new understandings as they were on the previous panel. For the record, they are, L-R: Aften Brook Szymanski, C.H. Hung, Jayrod P. Garrett, Inez Aguilar R., and B. Daniel Blatt.
Here’s the “Write What You Don’t Know” panel at SpikeCon, and no, your eyes do not deceive you. This is the exact same group of panelists from the picture above. Some of them traded seats just to mess with us. But they were every bit as wise and interesting when they talked about doing your research and seeking new understandings as they were on the previous panel. For the record, they are, L-R: Aften Brook SzymanskiC.H. HungJayrod P. GarrettInez Aguilar R., and B. Daniel Blatt. 
This was possibly the most valuable panel I attended at SpikeCon."After the Action" discussed the trauma writers inflict on their characters in terms of realism in fiction and the effects of trauma on real people. The discussion also quickly ranged into the effect of our fiction on real people--our readers, who may themselves be trauma survivors or have loved ones or associates who are. The uniquely qualified panelists are: L-R: Amy White, an author, librarian, and puppeteer with a trauma survivor in her family; Retired Marine Col. Jonathan P. Brazee, prolific author of military sf; psychologists and social workers Cerin Takeuchi and Anna Marasco; and author and sworn law enforcement officer Griffin Barber.
This was possibly the most valuable panel I attended at SpikeCon.”After the Action” discussed the trauma writers inflict on their characters in terms of realism in fiction and the effects of trauma on real people. The discussion also quickly ranged into the effect of our fiction on real people–our readers, who may themselves be trauma survivors or have loved ones or associates who are. The uniquely qualified panelists are: L-R: Amy White, an author, librarian, and puppeteer with a trauma survivor in her family; Retired Marine Col. Jonathan P. Brazee, prolific author of military sf; psychologists and social workers Cerin Takeuchi and Anna Marasco; and author and sworn law enforcement officer Griffin Barber.

I was on several panels, myself, but you’ll notice they aren’t featured here. I don’t have pictures of panels I was on, or of my reading at SpikeCon (though it was gratifyingly well-attended! Thank you!!).

I may not have a picture from my own reading at SpikeCon, but I did get photos of the authors who read before and after me. Mike Substelny, L, read his as-yet-unpublished but wildly funny and satisfying time travel story, "Plan Madison."
At R, Erika Kuta Marler read a story from an anthology in the Eden's Outcast universe.
may not have a picture from my own reading at SpikeCon, but I did get photos of the authors who read before and after me. Mike Substelny, L, read his as-yet-unpublished but wildly funny and satisfying time travel story, “Plan Madison.”
At R, Erika Kuta Marler read a story from an anthology in the Eden’s Outcast universe.

This is largely because it’s hard to photograph oneself in such situationsTyrell Gephardt, my son and regular convention partner who usually photographs my events when possible, was almost invariably scheduled on his own panels at the same times. 

But trust me. They were brilliant. And there’s always a chance the topics of some of those panels and readings will turn up someday as the subjects of blog posts in the future.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to SpikeCon’s homepage for the graphic gestalt of when, where, and who were headliner guests. All other photos in this post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, with the permission of their subjects. If you wish to re-post or use them, please include an attribution to me as the photographer, and if possible include a link back to this page. Thanks!

A cartoon-style rendering by Matt Frank of a person in fantasy armor, or possibly an anime-style mecha is part of the SoonerCon 28 header image used to promote the June 2019 science fiction convention.

Other readings at SoonerCon 28

Authors, Reading–Part Three

In the last two weeks I’ve published photos and information about readings I attended at SoonerCon 28.

Part One profiled science fiction, alternate history, and fantasy readings.

Part Two spotlighted two fantasy and two alternate history writers.

Today’s authors include one each who write fantasy, science fiction, and middle-grade whimsical “creepy stories.” Since each brought a physical copy of their book and was kind enough to hold it up for me, I did composites of each person.

In this composite photo, at right, fantasy author and Fantasy Writers Asylum imprint editor Julia S. Mandala shows the cover of her epic fantasy Blood Songs. At left, she reads an excerpt from it. Author Laura J. Underwood sits in the background and listens.
Fantasy author and Fantasy Writers Asylum imprint editor Julia S. Mandala shows the cover of her epic fantasy Blood Songs at right. At left, she reads an excerpt from it. Author Laura J. Underwood listens in the background.
In this two-part photo composite, at left author Lou Antonelli reads an excerpt from his novel "Another Girl, Another Planet," while David Carrico listens in the background. At right, Lou holds up his book to show the cover.
At left science fiction author Lou Antonelli reads an excerpt from his novel Another Girl, Another Planet, while David Carrico listens in the background. At right, Lou holds up his book to show the cover.
In this composite photo Middle-grade "creepy stories" writer Kim Ventrella shows off her latest book, "Bone Hollow." At left she reads an excerpt. At right she holds up the cover to the camera.
Middle-grade “creepy stories” writer Kim Ventrella shows off her latest book, Bone Hollow. At left she reads an excerpt from the beginning. At right she shows us the cover. Her earlier middle-grades book, Skeleton Tree, dealt with similar themes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part “book tour” of Soonercon 28, via photos of some of the authors who did readings there.

Going to readings is a great way to learn about interesting new books you may never have heard of. It’s also a fantastic way to meet authors and interact with them in a small-group setting.

Next time you go to a science fiction convention, I strongly recommend that you try going to some of the readings!

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to SoonerCon 28, and artist Matt Frank, for the header image. All other photos were taken by me at SoonerCon 28, June 7-9, 2019, with the express permission of the persons being photographed.If you wish to reblog or use them, please include an attribution to Jan S. Gephardt as the photographer, and if possible provide a link back to this post. Thank you!

A cartoon-style rendering by Matt Frank of a person in fantasy armor, or possibly an anime-style mecha is part of the SoonerCon 28 header image used to promote the June 2019 science fiction convention.

More readings at SoonerCon 28

Authors, Reading–Part Two

Last week I posted about several authors whose readings I attended and enjoyed at SoonerCon 28. But wait! There are more!

I hope you enjoy this series of posts. Wherever I could, I’ve linked the authors’ names to their websites and/or books, so you can learn more about any who interest you.

Catherine Cooke-Montrose reads an excerpt from a fantasy work in progress, on an iPad at SoonerCon 28.
Catherine Cooke-Montrose reads from a fantasy work-in-progress, inspired by the Byzantine era. She’s recently been republishing her Mask of the Wizard Trilogy (formerly published by Tor Books) on Amazon under the author name Catherine Cooke.
Adam J. Whitlatch reads an excerpt from his novel "War of the Worlds: Goliath," at SoonerCon 28.
Here is Adam J. Whitlatch, reading from his book War of the Worlds: Goliath,
Jeff Provine holds up a smartphone to show an illustration from the selection he was reading. It was a post on his "This Day in Alternate History" blog.
Blogger Jeff Provine read from This Day in Alternate History, a fascinating concept for a blog, in my opinion.
Laura J. Underwood reads part of her story, "The Demon of Mallow" at SoonerCon 28.
Laura J. Underwood read from her 2011 story The Demon of Mallow, set in the same mythical land as her 2013 book, The Lunari Mask.

I have one more “Authors, Reading” collection to share next week. I hope you’re enjoying this series.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to SoonerCon 28, and artist Matt Frank, for the header image. All other photos were taken by me at SoonerCon 28, June 7-9, 2019, with the express permission of the persons being photographed.If you wish to reblog or use them, please include an attribution to Jan S. Gephardt as the photographer, and if possible provide a link back to this post. Thank you!

Some characters and character-creators of Capricon 39

When you talk about science fiction and fantasy, you’re going to meet a lot of memorable characters.

And that’s just the people who write it.

Beguiling as the fictional characters might be, they have to be dreamed up and written about, by someone. And a science fiction convention such as Capricon 39 is a great place to meet writers.

Meeting a writer is sometimes as startling as meeting your first radio personality, but the wit, the knowledge, the humor and the perceptiveness you enjoy in their fiction didn’t come by accident from that person. Most of the writers I know are interesting in their own right.

And some of them are a particular pleasure to be on panels with or to listen to on panels you’re not on. In this post I’d like to feature three writers who made this year’s Capricon a particular treat for me. I’ve included links and some of their covers to give you an idea of what they write. Perhaps you’ll find something that’s right up your alley.

Megan Mackie

Megan Mackie

Megan was on a couple of panels with me, “Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism,” and “Things Authors Always get Wrong!

She brought perceptive comments from personal experience with a troll to the “Book Reviews” panel, and discussed unrealistic descriptions of women, their behavior, and their bodies, to the “Authors Get Wrong” panel.

I found her to be well-informed and well-spoken, altogether a positive addition to our panel discussions.

And no wonder. Her website reveals she’s a podcaster (The Princess Peach Conspiracy) as well as the author of a growing series of urban fantasy books.

Set in a magical alternate Chicago (Megan just happens to live in the Chicago of our space-time continuum), her “Lucky Devil Series” seems to be off to a strong start.

Finder of the Lucky Devil is the first in Megan Mackie’s “Lucky Devil” series, followed by The Saint of Liars.

Chris Gerrib

Chris Gerrib

Chris was on the “Space Opera” Themed Reading panel with me, as well as the “Things Authors Always Get Wrong!” panel with Megan and me. He is the author of the “Pirates of Mars” Trilogy.

He, too, hails from Chicago, and his cover story is that he’s an IT director at a Chicago-area bank, with only a small, manageable Mars obsession.

He read selections from the first book in his “Pirates of Mars” seriesThe Mars Runfor the “Space Opera” Themed Readings.

In the “Things Authors Always Get Wrong!” panel, he discussed the ways that authors who don’t do their homework can be tripped up by actual facts that readers may know in the realms of the way military organizations work, logistics, and economics

Chris Gerrib’s “Pirates of Mars Trilogy” is available in print or e-book format from Amazon.
The Thursday panel, “Publishing and Marketing for Indie Authors,” featuring (L-R) Lance ErlickJim PlaxcoBeverly BamburyBlake Hausladen, and Jonathan P. Brazee.

Jonathan P. Brazee

Jonathan P. Brazee

I first met Jonathan Brazee at Northamericon ’17 in Puerto Rico, and we’ve been bumping into each other periodically ever since. I have enjoyed his comments on many different panels. 

At Capricon 39, I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion “Publishing and Marketing for Indie Authors.

He is the highly prolific author of “more than 75 titles,” including 44 novels. But don’t let that high output fool you about the quality of his work. 

In 2017 he was a Nebula Finalist for Weaponized Math.” In 2018 he was a Nebula Finalist for Fire Antand a finalist for the Dragon Award for Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel for Integration

He also is an active member of SFWA, the esteemed  Science Fiction Writers of America organization.

Jonathan Brazee’s nominated works from 2017 and 2018, L-R: for the NebulaWeaponized Math (2017) and Fire Ant (2018); for the Dragon Award for Military Science Fiction or Fantasy NovelIntegration (2018).


IMAGES: Many thanks to Capricon 39 for the convention’s header, which I cropped for size. I am grateful to Megan Mackie’s website for her author photo and her two book covers.  Many thanks to Chris Gerrib’s Amazon Author Page for his author photo, and to the individual Amazon pages for The Mars RunPirates of Marsand The Night Watchfor their book covers. Many thanks to Jonathan Brazee’s Amazon Author Page for his author photo, and to his Amazon listings for Weaponized MathFire Antand Integrationfor the cover images.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén