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Header images for the three Weird Blog articles described in this post show book covers for nonfiction books "Sedition Hunters" by Ryan J. Reilly, "Burnout," by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, and "Why Does my Cat Do that?" by Catherine Davidson; a design by Erin Phillips that says, “Feed an author. Leave a Review. It takes five minutes and helps more than you can imagine. (from) Erin Phillips.me.”; and a montage of four covers representing books by two authors: By Jodi Burnett, "Extraction" and "Corruption." By Travis Baldree, "Legends & Lattes" and "Bookshops & Bonedust."

Recent Posts on The Weird Blog

The realities of SEO searchability have forced a change in how I’ve handled recent posts on The Weird Blog and here on Artdog Adventures. Unfortunately, Artdog got the shorter, messier end of that stick.

This blog, however, has been my “home blog” for a long time. I want to keep it current for the moments when my opinion pieces are a bit too “political” for my partner! 😊 And I’d like to keep you better in the loop, if you’re a loyal subscriber. To that end, I thought you might like some glimpses of recent posts on The Weird Blog that I am no longer able to share in full here.

This square image has a black background. The words are at the center, surrounded by a design of stars and dots. The words say, “Feed an author. Leave a Review. It takes five minutes and helps more than you can imagine. (from) Erin Phillips.me.”
Courtesy of Erin Phillips via Rebecca’s Write Inspirations (see Credits below).

Recent Book Reviews

I figured out what my New Year’s Resolution needed to be when I looked back over my recent book reviews from 2023. I only wrote eleven! Book reviews are essential for authors, so I decided that I must do better than that, if I’m going to ask my own readers to write reviews for me. Since I am reading many things every day, whether it’s fiction or fact, I have no excuse. Here’s how I formed my resolution to write more reviews.

This square image shows the covers of the three books featured in the blog post “Three Nonfiction Book Reviews,” by Jan S. Gephardt, published on “The Weird Blog,” 1/17/2024. The covers, L-R are those of: Ryan J. Reilly’s book “Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System,” “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA, and Catherine Davidson’s book “Why does my CAT do that? Answers to 50 Questions Cat Lovers Ask,” on a background that is a blend of the covers’ colors. Montage design by Jan S. Gephardt.
See Credits Below.

Three Nonfiction Book Reviews

In my first January post, I talked about book reviews that I have (and more importantly have not) written in 2023. At the end of that post I made writing more book reviews a New Year’s resolution. This post is my first installment toward making good on that resolution. In it I share three nonfiction book reviews, written either in 2023 or – a true start on my resolution – in 2024.

The covers of the four books reviewed in the blog post overlap each other slightly in a grouping around the central area of this square montage. The books represented are upper and lower left, “Extraction” and “Corruption,” both by Jodi Burnett. At upper and lower right are “Legends & Lattes” and “Bookshops & Bonedust,” by Travis Baldree.
Cover images courtesy of Amazon. (See Credits below).

A Post Full of Page-Turners

Rounding out my list of recent posts on The Weird Blog, how about a post full of page-turners? Book reviews have been the theme of the month. But fiction is my particular wheelhouse, and it’s the core business of Weird Sisters Publishing. So how about some fiction reviews? But not just any fiction. As promised above, it’s a post full of page-turners.

Header images for the three Weird Blog articles described in this post show book covers for nonfiction books "Sedition Hunters" by Ryan J. Reilly, "Burnout," by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, and "Why Does my Cat Do that?" by Catherine Davidson; a design by Erin Phillips that says, “Feed an author. Leave a Review. It takes five minutes and helps more than you can imagine. (from) Erin Phillips.me.”; and a montage of four covers representing books by two authors: By Jodi Burnett, "Extraction" and "Corruption." By Travis Baldree, "Legends & Lattes" and "Bookshops & Bonedust."
See Credits Below.

A Month of Book Reviews – Next up, Artists!

There were three recent posts on The Weird Blog for January, because there were three Wednesdays. I’ll post more book reviews and also share the links to them here in future months. In February I plan move on to a different theme, one that might be closer to the “home turf” of Artdog Adventures: profiles of fantasy and science fiction artists whose work I admired at science fiction conventions during 2023.

About the Author

I, Jan S. Gephardt, have been writing this blog since 2009. Since I don’t want to let it die of neglect, I still plan to come around as often as I can to post new things and keep readers up-to-date with recent posts we’ve run on The Weird Blog. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best I can do right now.

I’m also a novelist, as well as being a paper sculptor. I’m currently in final edits on Bone of Contention,the third novel in my XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. The series centers on a pack of uplifted police dogs who live, and solve crimes, on a space station in a star system far, far away. It is scheduled for publication September 24, 2024.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Designer Erin Phillips and Rebecca’s Write Inspirations for the “Feed an Author” quote. Thanks to Amazon for the book covers used in second image, Sedition Hunters, Burnout, and Why Does My Cat Do That? And ongoing thanks to Amazon once again, for consistently high-quality cover image files! Here are direct URLs to the sources for Extraction, Corruption, Legends & Lattes, and Bookshops & Bonedust.

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity

Kwanzaa begins with Unity. Is there any value that should resonate more with all of us? Today is the first day of Kwanzaa, a seven-day celebration of African American strengths and values. I’m not Black, so I can’t presume to speak for Black people (other than as an ally against racism).

But no American of any ethnic background can afford to spurn the idea that unity is a paramount value, and sadly lacking in the USA right now. In this historical moment, all of us could afford to learn a few things from our Black neighbors and friends.

I don’t believe I did justice to the first day of Kwanzaa, back in 2017 when I wrote my first post about it. I squeezed it in between two other “holiday thoughts,” about the day after Christmas and Boxing Day. Both have their place, but Kwanzaa deserves to stand alone.

This square image is dominated by a red rectangle showing a black, green, yellow, and red design flanked by the words, “The seven principles: Umoja: Unity. To maintain unity in Family, community, nation, and culture.”
Image by, and courtesy of, Jeffrey St. Clair. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins with Unity and so Should We

If you think about it, unity is what brought us together as a nation in the first place: unity against outside tyranny. We were perpetuating our own egregious tyranny over the enslaved Africans whose labor our white ancestors stole to build a lot of the young country. But at the same time the founders (apparently unironically) set forth principles of equity and justice.

The very foundations of this country were uniquely well-adapted to building a multicultural nationality. Emphasizing freedom, equality, and justice for everyone under the law was radical stuff in the 18th Century.

And it’s still radical stuff today. We set ourselves up “from the get-go” for a lot of trying and falling short. We are a multicultural republic, stitched together both by force and by choice. And we are perpetually certain to come up against opposing views competing for space and dominance.

The background of this square image is a charcoal drawing of four hands and forearms in a roughly square alignment, where each hand grasps the wrist of the person to their right. Superimposed over the drawing, it says, “’Unity is Strength, Division is Weakness.’ – Swahili Proverb.”
Courtesy of United We Stand on Facebook. See Credits below.

But Beginning is Not Enough

If you look at the whole principle as outlined in Jeffrey St. Clair’s design, the idea is “to maintain unity in family, community, nation and culture.” That’s no small feat. And it’s definitely not something we can do alone. That takes commitment. It takes grit, it takes communication, and it takes a lot of hard work by a lot of dedicated, like-minded people.

Kwanza begins with Unity, but it continues with six other principles that ground and support and make unity happen. This holiday celebrates strong Black people living in a vibrant culture – but no single segment of our multicultural republic can flourish without a broader unity.

Here in the USA we’ve managed to let ourselves be drawn into warring camps, to the extent that we’re in serious danger of losing it all. Can the “democratic experiment” we started almost 250 years ago survive? Not without Umoja. And not without Black people, White people, Native people, immigrants from all different communities and everybody else in this country joining together in our own self-defense.

This is a dark red square image with a length of woven Kente cloth across the bottom. At the top it says “@SanCophaLeague,” Then “Black Unity is key. ‘Get organized and you will compel the world to respect you.’ -Marcus Garvey.” In the lower left, just above the cloth band, it says, “Facebook.com/SanCophaLeague.”
Courtesy of SanCophaLeague. See Credits below.

Kwanzaa Begins With Unity, but the Series Continues

I have spent a lot of time this week going back though my old series of Kwanzaa articles and updating them for today’s standards. 2017 was 6 years ago, which is an eon or so on the Internet. Now they’re ready for mobile devices, and I’ve tried to optimize them other ways, as well as expand them into fuller explorations of the topic. Along the way, I’ve also worked to improve the illustrations in both quality and relevance.

So please take a look at the rest of the series in their new format! Take them in order, or skip around if one or another takes your fancy: See Self-Determination on Day Two, followed by Working Together and Investing Wisely. From there, explore Empowerment through Purpose, and Creative Healing. Appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day Kwanzaa Ends with Faith to Take that Step . . . whatever you determine those steps should be in the coming year.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Jeffrey St. Clair, via LinkedIn’s Slide Share for today’s Umoja: Unity design. I really loved the “Unity is Strength” quote-image from United We Stand on Facebook, and I also loved how the quote coordinated with my topic today. It was a little harder to track down the SanCophaLeague’s exact image, which I first found on Pinterest. I figure it’s got to come from them since their name is all over it, but even Tineye Reverse Image Search didn’t turn it up. In any case, Thank you!

Covers for Jan's three "Cops in Space" books, "The Other Side of Fear," "What's Bred in the Bone," and "A Bone to PIck."

What should police do?

By Jan S. Gephardt

We rarely think to ask a fundamental question: what should police do? What part should they play in a multicultural, representational democracy? The ubiquity of police forces around the world argues that many societies believe police do have a role in civilized life. But what – exactly – should it be?

As a novelist whose primary characters are science fictional detectives, I am in an unusual position, both to ask and to answer this question. But I believe it’s also a question everyone should ask. Especially every citizen in a representational, multicultural democracy.

Why should we ask? Isn’t the answer to that question obvious? Well, no. We’ve all grown up “pre-loaded” with conscious and unconscious attitudes and understandings of what police officers and police forces do, and why they exist. But clearly, those seldom-examined attitudes and understandings aren’t leading to very good outcomes. Not in much of the world. And certainly not here in the United States.

"Understand, our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They've got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law." - Barack Obama.
Many thanks to BrainyQuote.

Asking as a Novelist

One of the best things science fiction does is hold up a mirror to society. If you think about it, all fiction does that in a certain way, because all fiction is a reflection of our experiences of life. I’ve written elsewhere about the role of the novelist in society. And yes, a fundamental aspect of our work is purely to produce entertainment.

But it’s not the only aspect. I would (and frequently do) argue that it may not even be the most important aspect, particularly in the realm of science fiction. That’s because science fiction is all about thought experiments.

When we start asking “what if?” a whole multiverse of possibilities opens up. What if a recent scientific discovery led to a new technological breakthrough? How would that change the world we live in? What if our society continues on its current course in this aspect, what might the future look like? How would our world change? How would we react?

So, as a novelist who writes about police in a future society, I must ask “What Should Police Do?”

"My role as a novelist is to explore ideas and imagination, and hopefully that will inspire people from my world to continue dreaming and to believe in dreams." - Alexis Wright.
Thanks again, BrainyQuote!

Asking as a Citizen

But I’m also a citizen: of the world, and also specifically of my country and community. I’m a taxpayer, a voter, a member of “the public.” I can be sliced and diced out and defined demographically, culturally, and any other way you choose. Mother. Wife. Daughter. Woman. Educated. Teacher (retired). Middle class. United Methodist. White. Senior citizen. Democrat. Science fiction fangirl. Creative person. Animal lover. Multiculturalist. I am all of those things and more.

And as that complex, multi-aspect creature, I bring all of my experiences, understandings, and biases into my role as a responsible adult in contemporary society. For me, that involves an active interest in news and politics. I have formed some rather strong opinions over the course of my life. Each day I refine them or adjust them or reinforce them as I receive and process information.

I see it as my right – indeed, my responsibility – as a citizen to ask if my government and community leaders are representing me and governing in a way I think is appropriate. Are they respecting and honoring values I share? If they’re not, then I have a right to question them, and to seek better representation. As do we all.

This means, as a citizen in contemporary society, I must ask “What Should Police Do?”

"Each day, millions of police officers do the selfless work of putting their lives on the line to protect civilians, frequently responding to or preventing crises completely with no recognition." - Letitia James
You’re now 3-0, BrainyQuote!

What Do We Ask Police To Do?

We currently ask police to fill a wide range of roles. “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country,” Dallas Police Chief David Brown said in a 2016 interview by the Washington Post. “We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it. … Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops. … That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

I tend to agree with Chief Brown. As a teacher, I learned all too much about the many things our communities want to dump in the laps of their public servants. Usually while also underpaying them, restricting their operating budgets, and asking them to do work they never trained or signed up for. I get it, and I agree.

But what problems are the police meant to solve? Unlike some observers on the leftward end of the spectrum, I do believe there is a role for police in society. Unlike some observers on the rightward end of the spectrum, I don’t believe we will ever be well served by our current system. Certainly not when it’s focused on criminalizing poverty and mental illness. Not when it majors on crackdowns on minority populations and small offenders. And certainly not when it perpetuates the school-to-prison pipeline.

This graph charts United States crime clearance rates in 2020, the most recent year for which the statistics are available. “Murder and nonnegligent homicide:54.4%. Aggravated assault: 46.6%. Violent crime: 41.7%. Rape: 30.6%. Robbery: 28.8%. Arson: 21.5%. Larceny-theft: 15.1%. Property crime: 14.6%. Burglary: 14.%. Motor vehicle theft: 12.3%”
Graphic ©2023 by Statistia.

What Problems WERE Police Meant to Solve?

If you were to ask the average “person on the street” this question, they’d probably say “Solve crimes,” or maybe “keep public order,” or perhaps “enforce the law.” Fair enough. So, how well are they doing?

Let’s take that first one, “solve crimes.” A look at the crime clearance rates (percentages of crimes that are cleared in a given year) is downright discouraging. “Clearance rate,” by the way, does not mean the full Law & Order-style litany of captured, charged, tried, and convicted. No, “clearance” means at least one person has been arrested and charged, or it means the probable perpetrator(s) are identified, but outside circumstances make arresting and charging them impossible. For two examples, circumstances could include that they died. Or maybe they’re in another country from which we can’t extradite them. Stuff does happen sometimes.

Clearance rates vary by the type of crime. But according to Statistia.com the only type that gets solved more than half the time in the USA is “murder and non-negligent homicide.” The clearance rate for that is 54.4%.

Flunking Crime-Solving

Think about it. That’s only a bit better than a 50-50 chance that any given murder will be solved. If I were grading a test and my student made a 54.4% on it, their grade would be an F (On a normal grading scale, 0-60% = an F). And that’s the best they do! You want them to solve your burglary? Sorry to tell you, but you have only a 14% chance that the perpetrator will be caught and charged with the crime. Someone stole your truck? Oh, dear. You only have a 12.3% chance they’ll ever arrest the thief.

So, basically, police in the United States flunk at crime-solving. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons, and many of them are tied up in the other answers to the question “What should police do?”

"When you have police officers who abuse citizens, you erode public confidence in law enforcement. That makes the job of good police officers unsafe." - Mary Frances Berry
Thanks yet again, BrainyQuote!

What Should Police Do to “Serve and Protect”?

What does “keep public order,” “enforce the law,” or “protect people” look like, when it’s happening? Does “keeping public order” mean bulldozing camps of unhoused persons? Or imposing a curfew on a small population’s free movement during a specific part of the day or in a specific place? Does it mean beating or injuring protesters? The words “keeping public order” have been used to justify all of those actions.

On the other hand, it also could mean directing traffic away from an accident. Maybe it means repelling a violent insurrection from the Capitol. And it could mean shielding a person who has not been convicted of any crime from a lynch mob that wants to kill them. It’s an umbrella phrase, broad and nonspecific enough to be both used and abused.

Standards Without Clarification

And in the end, it’s not a very helpful standard without further clarification. The seemingly obvious “protect people” brings the same host of issues when we try to apply it to specific cases. Which people are the police to protect? From whom or what? In a racist, sexist society (don’t kid yourself: that’s this one), how many ways could that go wrong?

“Enforce the law” is only deceptively “more specific.” Does that mean “enforce all the laws, all the time?” By that standard, most of us should be, or should have been, arrested at many points in our lives.

People are fallible. There are times when we’re sick and can’t cut the noxious weeds in our front yard. Or we’re forgetful and only notice later that our driver’s license has expired. Perhaps we’re tired or in a hurry, so we jaywalked when we saw an opening, instead of walking down to the corner and waiting for the lights to change. Minor traffic violations, legally carrying a gun, or simply walking down the street have resulted in citizens being killed by police in the name of “enforcing the law.”

"Accountability for police officers should be an expectation, not an aberration." - Alex Padilla
You rock, BrainyQuote!

Okay, so: What SHOULD Police Do?

As we’ve seen, that’s a really problematic question! But, both as a citizen and as a novelist, I want to find better answers to it. I cannot endorse a blanket approach such as “abolish the police.” I’m not a fan of “defund,” either. Neither of those represent where I think this conversation should go.

On the other hand, a thoroughgoing interrogation of that “what should police do?” question isn’t going to deal kindly with old-school “cop culture.” Not with many contemporary police training techniques and approaches, either. Nor even with a fair number of contemporary laws and standards.

Yes, dear reader, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m cueing up a series of blog posts on this topic. I’m not sure how long it’ll be. Considering our upcoming publication schedule, it most definitely won’t be every single post for the next umpty-dozen times without a break!

But over the next few months, I propose to take up one aspect of “what should police do?” at a time. I’ll examine how it’s currently being handled in the USA, survey the critiques, and then explain “how we handle it on Rana Station” and why I think that might work better. I hope you’ll find the series interesting.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to BrainyQuote (what would I have done without you for this post?) and Statistia.

The Weird Sisters Publishing LLC logo shows a black-outline cartoon of two sisters with their arms linked. One holds an e-reader, the other a hardbound book.

Forward momentum on publishing efforts

It’s kinda like being pregnant. Except it takes longer

No matter how much people tell you your life will change after the baby is born, you can never really “get it,” until after you’ve become a parent. 

There’s this divide between “before baby” and “after baby” that can never be crossed in reverse. On the far side of that Rubicon is Terra Incognita (with or without dragons) that you’ll never understand till you get there.

If my publishing efforts turn out as well as my kids did, I’m good. However, right at this moment the “contractions” have set in, but the results haven’t finished coming into the world, yet

This image shows the Jody A. Lee cover for Jan S. Gephardt's science fiction novel, "What's Bred in the Bone." It depicts a scene in which the protagonist, XK9 Rex, follows a scent trail to a dangerous underworld neighborhood called the "Five-Ten," accompanied by his new colleague, Lead Special Agent Shiva Shimon of the Station Bureau of Investigation.
Cover art © 2019 by Jody A. Lee

The manuscript for What’s Bred in the Bone is finished and edited and mostly formatted in Vellum.

The gorgeous cover by Jody A. Lee is finished.

The ISBNs are acquired. I’ve mostly nailed down the barcode resource, I think. I’m prepared to register my copyright.

I keep struggling to get my emailing list up and running, but if you’ve tried to sign up for it you know I’m not there yet. Soon! I promise!

And also, because my life isn’t busy enough, my sister Gigi Sherrell Norwood and I have pooled our resources to create Weird Sisters Publishing LLC. We plan to publish my books, her books, re-publish her late husband Warren C. Norwood’s books, and possibly publish work by others, too (but not yet).

Bold white letters spell Weird Sisters Publishing LLC next to the company's logo, a black outline of two cartoon sisters, one holding an e-reader, the other a paper book. The background is taken from part of the cover art by Jody A. Lee for Jan S. Gephardt's novel What's Bred in the Bone.

The Weird Sisters Facebook Page went live Wednesday. The website’s coming. It all needs to be done at once, preferably yesterday. But at least we’re on our way.

IMAGES: The cover art for What’s Bred in the Bone is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee, and is used here with permission. The design work for both the cover and the Weird Sisters Publishing banner are by Jan S. Gephardt.

Becoming Weird Sisters Publishing

Gigi Sherrell Norwood

Regular readers of this blog (if you are one, THANK YOU!!) may recall that I’ve published at least one guest-post by my sister, Gigi Sherrell Norwood (Orchestra Dreams). 

What you may not know is that she is herself a talented writer, and she’s also the widow of science fiction writer Warren C. Norwood.

Yes, we’re kind of a cottage industry all in the family (and that’s not even counting the emerging editorial expertise of my son and frequent sf convention companion Tyrell Gephardt). 

It was perhaps inevitable that we’d do the writing/publishing equivalent of saying, “Hey! Let’s put on a show!” (note: Gigi has a BFA in theatre).

The result is Weird Sisters Publishing LLC, a small press publishing enterprise registered (as of February) and operating out of Kansas. As you might guess from our name, Gigi’s studies included an emphasis in Shakespeare. And, we must face it, we’ve never exactly been conventional. 

“Weird Sisters” just kind of fit.

We’re starting our enterprise with my debut novel, What’s Bred in the Bone, to be released in May, as well as an urban fantasy novella by Gigi, titled Deep Ellum Pawnlater in the summer. 

We hope to follow that soon with more of my XK9 novels, and six of the novels in Warren’s catalogue, the rights to which have reverted to his estate (AKA Gigi). We plan new covers, and a full range of formats. 

Gigi also is in possession of two unpublished novels by Warren, and we are in pursuit of other titles whose ownership is less clear.

Gigi has several other novels in her backlist, not written in collaboration with Warren (she collaborated on some of the Time Police series with him, as did Mel Odom). 

We’re not currently seeking submissions for Weird Sisters Publishing, but that might change in the future. We plan to focus on character-driven science fiction, urban fantasy, and related works.

IMAGES: Gigi provided the photo of herself. It is used with her permission. Cover art for What’s Bred in the Bone is ©2019 by Jody A. Lee, and is used with her permission.

Universal human rights

The Artdog Quote of the Week

Yesterday was Human Rights Day, when this post was originally supposed to go live (many apologies!). But human rights are important every day. My theme for the December Quotes is homelessness. I think this excerpt from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rightsratified 70 years ago in 1948, is fittingly consistent with that theme.

IMAGE: I created today’s image. The background photo is one I took last September in Dallas, TX; the words, as credited, are from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1). Please feel free to use the quote image if you wish, but kindly include an attribution to me (Jan S. Gephardt) as the creator and a link back to this post. Thanks!

Aiming for Archon 42

Ty and I are about to go on the road again. This time we’re headed across Missouri to our final sf convention of 2018, Archon 42 in Collinsville, IL. After this the holidays start, and so does the “iffy” weather.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been to Archon. For many years there were scheduling conflicts, but those problems are behind us now. I’m looking forward to heading back.

I’ll be busy, that’s for sure. I’m on four panels (moderating three), plus I have a reading, and that’s not counting the artwork I’ll have on display. Here’s my schedule:

Friday October 12

4:00-5:00 p.m. (Gateway-Cahokian) – Paying your Bills with Exposure 

Everyone knows you can’t pay for groceries or gas with exposure – but why do so many people think it’s acceptable to ask artists to work for free?  What’s the best way to respond to such requests?

7:30-approx. 9:30 p.m. (Art Show) – Art Reception

I have a full panel of paper sculpture to display.

The display has changed a little since Westercon 71/MALCon 6 in July, but most of the work shown here will be on display at Archon 42.

Saturday October 13

1:00-2:00 p.m. (Gateway-Cahokian) – Crayola is Fine, Right?: Art on a Budget

How can you create your art without breaking the bank?  What’s okay to skimp on? What’s worth paying more?

3:00-4:00 p.m. (Gateway-Cahokian) – Sharpen Your Skills: Basic Drawing

Designed for new artists looking to improve their drawing skills. Pick up my annotated list of resources, or email me for a copy!

Sunday October 14

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (Gateway-Illini A) – What is Your Preferred Type of Con?

Cons come in all types and sizes: huge & media-driven? Small and intimate? Focused on one subject or many?

12:00-1:00 p.m. (Gateway-Illini A) – Author Reading with Meg ElisonJan Gephardt, and Lettie Prell.

Enjoy a sampler of short readings by three contemporary sf writers. I bet you can guess what book I’m reading from!

Here’s my postcard for Archon 42, promoting the reading on Sunday and urging people to.sign up for my newsletter, for updates on the publication schedule.

IMAGES: Many thanks to the Collinsville, IL Chamber of Commerce, for the “white” Archon 42 logo. The other two images are by me, and may be used for reblogging or reposting, as long as you include an attribution for the work and a link back to this post. Thanks!

Re-Re-Revised

Jan S. Gephardt at the keyboard. Photo by Colette Waters.

Did you ever have one of those projects you thought was just about done . . . except you needed to adjust this one thing.

And then that one thing led logically to another. And after that you discovered an excellent new technique and it would apply to this current project, so now if you just revamp these bits . . . .

Eventually it HAS to end. In this case I’m talking about the novel I am THIS CLOSE to having completely ready to start productionON or before September 3, 2018, it shall be done (or else).

For reals. mean it. Friends who know me will point, laugh, and say, “Got THAT right!” when I tell you I am not a fast writer. For all my ongoing efforts to be a well-organized, methodical “plotter,” the “pantser” in my soul frequently takes me walkabout, as a way to open up whole new projects through the “discovery method.”

Here’s the color comp for the cover of What’s Bred in the Bone, created by one of my favorite artists, Jody A. Lee, based on a scene from the book.

may not live long enough to finish all of the projects I already have in my files (partially developed through said “discovery method” and mostly set in the same fictional universe), but by God I’ll have fun writing them. I also hope people will have fun reading them–which necessitates finishing them, and publishing them.

That’s my current task: sternly striving not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and working on finishing a final, publishable version of What’s Bred in the Bone.

The world I currently inhabit for as many of my waking hours as possible these days is the one I’ve been writing about (and in which I’m making the aforementioned revisions).

Set in an indeterminate future era which I call the Twenty-Fourth-and-a-Half Century, most of the action takes place on Torus Two of Rana Habitat Space Station, through the eyes of an XK9: an enormous, genetically-engineered, cybernetically-enhanced police dog named Rex, as well as his mate Shady and his human partner Charlie.

Readings from What’s Bred in the Bone that I’ve done at science fiction conventions, such as DemiCon 29 and SoonerCon 27, have been met with enthusiasm, which is encouraging. Most of my beta-readers have been enthusiastic, too. If you’ll be at Worldcon 76, I have a 30-minute reading scheduled there on Monday, Aug. 20, 11:00 a.m. in Room 211A. I hope to see you there!

IMAGES: Many thanks to the talented Colette Waters for the enhanced reality represented by her photo of me, and to the amazing Jody A. Lee, for the color comp of the cover-art-that-will-be for What’s Bred in the Bone.

An award-winning experiment finds a home

The Artdog Image of Interest

One of the nicest things that happened for me while I was at Westercon/MALCon in Denver earlier this month was receiving a blue ribbon in the 3D category at the Art Show. I feel very honored, because there was a lot of wonderful 3D artwork in this show.

The honored piece was a special, one-of-a-kind Artist’s Proof (abbreviated AP) of the Common Cliff Dragon–Male collection of multiple originals. I called it the “spiny ridge” AP because in a fit of madness I experimented with cutting out each individual scale on the ridge along the dragon’s back, then sculpting them to stand up slightly.

I took the second photo in December 2016 before I matted the piece. I have to admit it looked pretty cool, but it was a delicate operation, it took a long time, and when I’d finished I swore I’d never do that again. Granted, one should “never say ‘never,'” but now I’m officially on record that it was a one-of-a-kind experiment.

A one-of-a-kind experiment that was awarded this wonderful honor, and one which also has now been “rehomed” with a new owner. The owner got some prize-winning new art, but I was the one who got to keep the ribbon!

IMAGES: Both photographs were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. If you wish to re-post or reblog either of them you may, as long as you include an attribution to me and a link back to this post. Thank you!

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:

Friday:

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.

Saturday: 

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.

Sunday:

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!

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