Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: science fiction conventions

The cover of the Advance Reader Copy edition of “A Bone to Pick,” by Jan S. Gephardt, shown as an ebook.

Making ARCs

By Jan S. Gephardt

I’ve been making ARCs recently.

What does that mean? It means I’ve been assembling an assortment of documents into an early version of my latest book, to create Advance Reader Copies. It’s not exactly parallel to a dress rehearsal for a stage play, but for me it’s a necessary step in the publicity rollout for my science fiction mystery novel A Bone to Pick.

I’ve been blogging a lot in this space recently, about A Bone to Pick. Those posts are another part of the rollout. As basically an Indie writer, I’m trying to build a small press publishing company, Weird Sisters Publishing, with my sister, G. S. Norwood. I may not have to face the kind of “gatekeepers” a writer encounters in traditional publishing. But plenty of other challenges attend every attempt to promote and sell each book we “weird sisters” produce and release.

G. and I decided to share part of our approach to those challenges in this blog post. We know some of our blog subscribers will be more interested in this than others. Perhaps you found G.’s post from last week more interesting. But maybe you’ll enjoy seeing me pull back the curtain on part of our process, and the role that making ARCs plays in it.

The cover of “A Bone to Pick,” by Jan S. Gephardt, as an ebook.
The release date for A Bone to Pick is September 15, 2021. (Cover art ©2020 by Jody A. Lee; 3D effect by Book Brush).

The Struggle to find Our Kind of Readers

In an earlier post I explored some of the difficulties an Indie or small press faces, when trying to get the attention of reading public. The first thing we had to understand is that “the reading public” isn’t actually our target. A small subgroup of the global population who reads books—that select group of readers who are interested in the specific kinds of stories we write—is the population we need to find.

It’s a search that never ends. This blog is part of how we search. My website and that of Weird Sisters Publishing are other essentials. Reviews, social media interactions, and targeted advertising provide other ways for us to reach out. Check us out: I have an Author Page on Facebook, and so do G and Weird Sisters. I also have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.

I traveled to science fiction conventions for publicity as well as pleasure, until COVID put a temporary halt to that. Last fall I started building a mailing list for followers of my XK9 stories. They receive a monthly newsletter full of insider glimpses, extras, and exclusive freebies.

Join the Pack newsletter offer with FREE copy of “The Other Side of Fear” novella.
The offer still stands: Get The Other Side of Fear FREE when you sign up for my Newsletter! (all artwork ©2020 by Lucy A. Synk).

The Rollout

Those are all ongoing efforts. The rollout is different. It’s a focused push to let as many of “my kind of readers” as possible know about my new book. That includes advertising. It also includes the series of blog posts we’ve been running. Newsletter updates and excerpts. Changes to our websites.

And, importantly, it includes making ARCs. Because it has taken me so darn long to write the book, and because I’ve been planning a return to science fiction conventions that starts at FenCon, I cut my rollout shorter than would have been ideal, and set my release date for September 15, 2021.

The Kindle version of A Bone to Pick is available for presale now, in both the United States and the United Kingdom. I’ve offered a discounted price for the presale: $2.99 in the U.S. (after release it’ll go up to $4.99), and £2.12 in the UK (post-release, that’ll go up to £3.84).

I wanted, if possible, to have printed copies of the new book available at FenCon, which is scheduled for September 17-19. My proofreader is still carefully combing through the manuscript for errors. But the shortened time frame means I should have been making ARCs weeks ago, not now.

Jan at her autograph table at Capricon 40.
I go to science fiction conventions such as Capricon (where this was taken) and FenCon as part of my ongoing outreach. (Photo ©2020 by Tyrell E. Gephardt).

Making ARCs

So, okay. How hard can that be? What goes into making ARCs? Well, a finished-for-real manuscript, for one! That was the hardest and longest part.

I also have created a Directory of names, places, and acronyms in the book. That was a reader request. I’ve also included one for the first book, in current versions of What’s Bred in the Bone. Both are large, sweeping space opera mysteries, full of exo-terrestrial and multicultural names, police-style acronyms, and a rather large cast of characters. The readers were right!

Thank goodness, I’ve had the cover already created for a while now. But I needed to differentiate it from post-release “official” copies of the book, so I created an identifying element to the cover design. Yes, I could simply have overprinted “ADVANCE READERS COPY” on the cover, but I think this looks better.

What else goes into an ARC? Well, there’s all the “book stuff” you need for the real thing. A title page, with our Weird Sisters Publishing logo and URL. The page with copyright notices. Vellum, the publishing program I use, automatically creates a Table of Contents, but I needed to compose the Dedication’s wording. I added my bio for the About the Author page (with a photo), and there was other material needed for the end of the book. Did you know I also specifically designed the “Wolf Tracks” ornamental break we use in all of the XK9 books? That needed to go in there, too.

Design elements, author photo and a directory all went into the ARC compilation.
Here are some of the elements that went into making ARCs for A Bone to Pick. (Credits below).

Why do I need ARCs?

Advance Reader Copies go out ahead of the release date to my all-important Street Team—and the sooner, the better! Street Team members are people who have signed up to not only be on my mailing list and get my newsletter. They also receive free Advance Reader Copies before release date. In return, they write honest reviews of the book, and post them to Amazon on Release Day. ARCs should go out to current Street Team members today!

If you are interested in being on my Street Team, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll receive more information in the follow-up emails. It’s not too late to get an A Bone to Pick ARC of your own!

Other ARCs go to reviewers, bloggers on review sites, and other authors willing to consider giving me a cover quote. I’m in the process of contacting them now. ARCs are just a part of what goes into the “entrepreneurial” side of being an independent writer. But for me, making ARCs is the step that makes it “real.”

Yes, the book is finished at last! It says what I want, and the Brain Trust has reassured me it’s ready. And yes, others will read it soon! For me, that’s at least as big a thrill as writing THE END.

The cover of the Advance Reader Copy edition of “A Bone to Pick,” by Jan S. Gephardt, shown as an ebook.
Making ARCs is an important part of the rollout process before the release of A Bone to Pick. (Cover art ©2020 by Jody A. Lee; 3D effect by Book Brush).

IMAGE CREDITS

The cover painting for A Bone to Pick is ©2020 by Jody A. Lee. The artwork on my Newsletter offer, including the cover of The Other Side of Fear, is ©2020 by Lucy A. Synk. The photo of me at Capricon 40 with all the S.W.A.G. on my autograph table is ©2020 by Tyrell E. Gephardt. In the montage of “ARC ingredients,” the photo of me is ©2017 by Colette Waters Photography. The Weird Sisters Logo and the “Wolf Tracks” ornamental break were designed by me, and are ©2019 by Weird Sisters Publishing LLC. The photo of the Directory’s first page is a screen capture of the preview in Vellum. The 3-D effects on both the regular edition and ARC images are by Book Brush. If you wish to reblog or repost any of these images, please do so with an attribution and a link back to this post. Thank you!

Jonathan Brazee with books.

Authors everywhere

 There seemed to be authors everywhere at Capricon 40. I’ve already introduced several of them in the “Capricon Project” posts “Detectives in the Wild” and “Indie Author Speed-Dating.” But there were yet more!

the Capricon 40 header
(image courtesy of Capricon 40 website)

Personal experiences

These Capricon Project posts focus only on authors I met and interacted with personally at the con. My apologies to all the other authors who were there. If I didn’t encounter you in a meaningful way at the con, I didn’t include you.

I did also video-record a series of short interviews with Indie authors with tables in the Capricon 40 Dealers’ Room. I’m still working on those. I need to learn how to use Premiere Pro to edit them. I hope to produce them for posting during the spring months.

Yes, there were authors everywhere at Capricon 40. Let me mention a few more here.

Jonathan P. Brazee

Jonathan P. Brazee at the Indie Author Speed-Dating event at Capricon 40 (Photo by Jan S. Gephardt)
Jonathan P. Brazee at the Indie Author Speed-Dating event at Capricon 40 (Photo by Jan S. Gephardt)

I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with Jonathan Brazee since we met in Puerto Rico in 2017. He is a prolific, successful Nebula Award-nominated, Dragon Award-winning author who mostly writes military science fiction. I included a short profile of him in one of my post-Capricon articles last year, but he’s expanded several of his series since then.

He wrote his 2020 novel Gemini Twins in honor of his own twin daughters. Other recently-completed series include Ghost Marines and The Navy of Humankind-Wasp Squadron.

Books by Jonathan P. Brazee from right to left: the Navy of Humankind-Wasp Squadron series, Gemini Twins, and the Ghost Marines series. (Book cover images courtesy of Amazon).
Books by Jonathan P. Brazee from right to left: the Navy of Humankind-Wasp Squadron series, Gemini Twins, and the Ghost Marines series. (Book cover images courtesy of Amazon).

Dorothy Winsor

I shared a reading time-slot with Dorothy Winsor at Capricon 40. She read a wonderful short story. I believe she said it’s unpublished to date, but it deserves to be seen and read! She writes mostly middle-grade and Young Adult fantasy. 

The book she promoted most at Capricon was The Wind Reader. It’s a story about a young boy who tells fortunes on the street to earn a living. Then he tells a fortune for prince that later actually comes true(!) Next he’s compelled to come to the castle to be the royal fortune teller–a role for which he’s not prepared.

At right is Dorothy Winsor, just before her reading at Capricon 40. At left, her current novel, The Wind Reader. (photo by Jan S. Gephardt. Book covers are courtesy of Amazon).
At right is Dorothy Winsor, just before her reading at Capricon 40. At left, her current novel, The Wind Reader(photo by Jan S. Gephardt. Book covers are courtesy of Amazon).

Lance Erlick

I stayed for the readings that followed mine and Dorothy’s. This gave me the opportunity to hear an excerpt from Lance Erlick’s book RebornIt’s the first of his Android Chronicles books. Interesting and well written, it probably ought to come with trigger warnings

Erlick’s android protagonist “Synthia Cross is a state-of-the-art masterwork of synthetic human design—and a fantasy come true for her creator.” She shows enough alarming signs of emergent behavior, however, that her creator wipes her memory each day to keep her in control. He has his nefarious reasons, but she’s already learning how to leave herself clues so she can reconstruct her past–and reveal her creator’s true intentions.

Lance Erlick listens to Kristine Smith’s reading at Capricon 40, before it’s his turn. At right are three books of the Android Chronicles. (photo by Jan S. Gephardt. Book covers are courtesy of Amazon).

Kristine Smith

Kristine shared the reading time-slot with Lance. A winner of the John W. Campbell Award, she’s been writing the Jani Kilian Chronicles for several years. Its multiple volumes tell the story of a struggle for understanding and peace between humans and an exo-terrestraial species called the idomeni.

The title character is a former captain with powerful enemies and a body that’s been expensively repaired after traumatic injuries that allowed her death to be faked. Kilian subsequently forms a friendship with the idomeni ambassador. Smith’s reading selection this time was an excerpt from the most recent Jani Kilian book. She also writes the Lauren Reardon series, under the name of Alex Gordon.

Kristine Smith reads from part of the Jani Kilian series at Capricon 40. (photo by Jan S. Gephardt. Book covers courtesy of Amazon).
Kristine Smith reads from part of the Jani Kilian series at Capricon 40. (photo by Jan S. Gephardt. Book covers courtesy of Amazon).

Donna J. W. Munro

I shared an autographing table with Donna J. W. Munro, who primarily writes dark fantasy horror, YA fiction, and science fiction. She is a prolific writer of short fiction, including two stories, “Death’s Day Off,” and “My Forever Love,” in the anthology Beautiful Lies, Painful Truths, Vol. II

According to her blog, the first of a series about zombies, called the Poppet Series (“about tamed zombies and the girl who wants to save them”), will be available in May 2020.

Donna J. W. Munro and one of the anthologies in which her short fiction is published. (photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt; book cover image courtesy of Amazon.)
Donna J. W. Munro and one of the anthologies in which her short fiction is published. (photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt; book cover image courtesy of Amazon.)

W. A. Thomasson

W. A. (Bill) Thomasson (photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt)
W. A. (Bill) Thomasson
(photo: Tyrell E. Gephardt)

Like Jonathan Brazee, I met Bill Thomasson in Puerto Rico in 2017, and we’ve bumped into each other at conventions ever since. Bill has been working on a sword and sorcery novel for some time. He’d hoped that The Whip of Abadur would be available in time for Capricon 40, but it’s still in production (indeed, there’s no cover yet!). 

He describes the story this way: “In an ancient Fertile Land that is not quite the one we know, the cat burglar Teema is hired to retrieve a demon-god’s stolen symbol of power and return it to its proper temple. But she quickly learns that meddling in the affairs of gods and demons is more dangerous than she had thought.”

As you can see, Capricon 40 featured authors everywhere! I hope you’ve enjoyed one more small tour through some of the exotic and interesting worlds they’ve created, in this final episode of the Capricon Project.

IMAGE CREDITS:

The photos of Jonathan Brazee, Dorothy Winsor, Lance Erlick, and Kristine Smith all were taken at Capricon 40 by Jan S. Gephardt with the subjects’ knowledge and consent. If you wish to re-use or reblog any of these photos, please credit Jan as the photographer and if possible include a link back to this post. 

The photos of Donna J. W. Munro and W. A. (Bill) Thomasson were taken by Tyrell E. Gephardt, also at Capricon 40, and also with the subjects’ knowledge and consent. Please observe the same courtesy of including an attribution and link back, if you use these photos.

The Capricon 40 header is courtesy of Capricon 40’s website. All of the book cover images are courtesy of Amazon (see captions for individual links).

This is the header for Capricon 40. Its bright, tropical colors and lettering reflect this year's theme "The Tropics of Capricon."

Looking forward to Capricon 40

My “sf convention year” kicks off in February. I’m looking forward to Capricon 40 on Valentine’s weekend, Feb. 13-16, 2020, in Wheeling, IL. And I’m already preparing for panel discussions and the Art Show.

My first Capricon was Cap 30, when my friend Lucy A. Synk was their Artist Guest of Honor. She invited me to attend as her guest. I had a lot of fun, but wasn’t able to go back for several years after that.

Blogging a panel

This image bears the words "Blogging a Panel - Writing about Forensics," superimposed over a montage of four images: ballistics-matching photos, forensic examiners in a lab, a cop interviewing a witness on the street, and a fingerprint being scanned.
Montage by Jan S. Gephardtto represent her Blogging a Panel post from the Capricon 37 she wasn’t able to attend.

I tried to go back in 2017, but a combination of countervailing events forced me to cancel so late in the process that I’d already been scheduled for panels. Unfortunately, one panel for which I’d been scheduled, Writing about Forensics, only had two panelists. The other, Jen Haegeralso had to cancel late in the process, so Writing about Forensics suddenly also got scrubbed.

Jen and I had been communicating online, and we decided that even if we couldn’t goto Capricon and present the panel in person, we still could present the panel virtually. This led to Blogging a Panel on this blog (I think it was paralleled on Jen’s blog and also that of Capricon’s parent group, Phandemonium).

Since then, I haven’t had to resort to such drastic measures

This blog has followed my adventures at Capricon 38 and my Artworktravel follies, and reflections upon Capricon 39.

Looking forward to Capricon 40

This is the header for Capricon 40. Its bright, tropical colors and lettering reflect this year's theme "The Tropics of Capricon."
Image courtesy of Capricon

I plan to have my artwork in the Art Show, and of course I’ll be on panels. I even have my schedule already! So I’m really looking forward to Capricon 40.

They called the one set for Thursday at 5:00 p.m.Detectives in the Wild (I moderate). We’ll talk about detectives in science fiction (as opposed to urban fantasy, where they more often turn up).

May 24, 2019. Books, badge ribbons and bookmarks at the
Mad Authors' Salon co-hosted by Jan S. Gephardt, Lynette M. Burrows, and Dora Furlong, at ConQuesT 50 in Kansas City, MO.
Photo by Ty Gephardt, taken May 24, 2019. Books, badge ribbons and bookmarks at the
Mad Authors’ Salon co-hosted by Jan S. Gephardt, Lynette M. Burrows, and Dora Furlong, at ConQuesT 50 in Kansas City, MO.

On Friday my panels are Pronouns and SF/F at 2:30 p.m., and Weird Hobbies for Immortals at 4 p.m. (I moderate that one, too). I’m in the Indie Author Speed-Dating event on Friday at 5:30 p.m. It should be interesting. I’ll bring badge ribbons and bookmarks to hand out!

Saturday starts early (for me). I’m scheduled to autograph at 10 a.m. I’ll read from What’s Bred in the Bone at 1 p.m., sharing the time slot with Dorothy Winsor. That evening at 7 p.m. I’ll facilitate the Creating a Tropical World workshop.

Finally, on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. I’ll join the conversation on Religion and Ethics in an Age of Artificial Intelligence. That also ought to be an interesting discussion. I promise I’ll come with coffee in hand, so I’m coherent.

Beyond programming items

Of course I’ll also bring paperback copies from Weird Sisters Publishing. Certainly I’ll have copies of What’s Bred in the BoneIf all goes well, I’ll also have paperback copies of my sister’s Deep Ellum Pawn novelette (as I write this, it’s still only available via Kindle)! 

With all of this, I hope that you, like me, will be looking forward to Capricon 40–either at the convention in Wheeling, or perhaps here in follow-up blog posts.

This photo shows Jan S. Gephardt's Art Show display at Archon in Collinsville, IL as it looked October 6, 2019.
Photo by Jan S. Gephardt. This is my Art Show display at Archon in Collinsville, IL as it looked October 6, 2019.

Please note: My next XK9 story, a prequel novella titled The Other Side of Fear, will be available in March 2020. The second novel in the XK9 “Bones” TrilogyA Bone to Pickis set for release this fall.

IMAGE CREDITS: 

Jan S. Gephardt made the “Blogging a Panel” header with images courtesy of Reference,  Belleville News-Democrat National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Criminal Justice Degreelink

The half-header for Capricon 40 is courtesy of the Capricon Website

The photo of my book display at the May 24, 2019 “Mad Authors’ Salon” at ConQuesT 50 is by Ty Gephardt, and used with his permission. 

I took the photo of my art display at Archon, October 6, 2019 myself. you may re-post or re-blog any of them with correct attribution to the creators and a link back to this post.

Archon 43 had a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville?

It’s early October, so it’s time for Archon! Will I see you in Collinsville?

This year’s convention is the 43rd iteration of “The Midwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Event.” After a hiatus of more than a decade, Ty and I returned for last year’s Archon, and quickly decided we wanted to come back.

Will I see you in Collinsville? Archon 43 has a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville? There’ll be a lot to see and do there. What will you miss, if you can’t come?

Artwork

As you know if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, I always want to be in the Art Show of any convention I attend. This one’s no exception! I’ll bring my own paper sculpture, including a newly piece that I’ve been working on–for real!–since 2012 (My Beloved is downstairs matting it, as I write this post).

The Silver Lady Appears. Jan S. Gephardt worked on this paper sculpture off and on from 2012 through 2019. It will be on display for the first time at Archon. Will you be in Collinsville to see it?
The Silver Lady Appears, 2012-2019, by Jan S. Gephardt

This season from ConQuesT on, I’ve been acting as an agent for Lucy A. Synk’s artwork, too. She has been developing an interesting series of “Dirty Pour Planets,” which actually include moons, stars, nebulae, and other astronomical objects, as well as imagined planets. She explains her technique briefly on her “Planet Series” webpage

This painting of an imagined planet and moon by Lucy A. Synk is called "Boreas and Khione," in reference to a Greek myth.
Boreas and Khione, 2019, by Lucy A. Synk

But you really should enjoy these originals in person, for the full effect. With all the iridescent paints, mica chips, and other cool elements in her bag of tricks, no photograph or image scan really does them justice. So, will I see you in Collinsville?

My Reading

I love readings at conventions. I love listening to them from other authors, and I love doing them myself, reading from my own work. It’s an author’s way of giving out free samples (and who doesn’t like free samples?). 

Jan S. Gephardt will read from her novel "What's Bred in the Bone" at Archon. Will she see you in Collinsville?
My reading at Archon 43 is scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m., in the Gateway Center Cahokian Room (“The Authorquarium”).

It’s also a great way to learn about new books and authors. A significant portion of my towering “TBR Pile” (to-be-read) may be laid at the doorstep of going to readings at cons

I’ll be part of a three-author panel that also includes Howard Andrew Jones and Marella Sands. We’ll each present a reading at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening (Oct. 5, 2019) in the Gateway Center’s Cahokian Room (aka “The Authorquarium”). 

I’ll probably read from What’s Bred in the Bone, unless enough of the audience is interested in hearing an excerpt from A Bone to Pickthe second novel in the “Bones” Trilogy (due to be released in 2020). Will I see you in Collinsville?

Panels

I’m scheduled on six panels, other than my reading (I’m pleased! I get to moderate about half of them!). Here’s my schedule:

Friday

4:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – The Viability of Being an Artist Can art be a viable career in today’s world?

5:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Salon 4 – “Why do Stories of Children Captivate us? It, Harry Potter, Stranger Things, etc. Stories about children grab our attention. Is it good writing or nostalgia?

At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our "Art on a Budget" panel. She'll be on a panel with me in 2019, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our “Art on a Budget” panel.

Saturday

Noon – Gateway Center Salon 1 – “Will the Robots Rebel?” It’s a popular plot device, but what’s the likelihood of this actually happening? 

1:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Bright Colors I have bright colors and I’m not afraid to use them! (artist panel)

5:00 p.m. – Double Tree St. Clair A and B – “LGBTQ+ Representation in Fandom The representation is getting better, but what can happen to make it amazing and standardized across the board? (I’ll have to sprint across the “causeway” to the Gateway Center after the end of this panel to get to my reading at 6:00 in the Gateway Center).

8:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Creating Covers Book covers are the first thing to pique the reader’s interest! Learn how to create dynamic book covers to complement great stories!

Will I see you in Collinsville? It ought to be an excellent weekend at Archon 43.

At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed "Alternate Paths to Publishing." There will be interesting panels at the 2019 event, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed “Alternate Paths to Publishing.”

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to the Archon website (artwork by Mitchell D. Bentley of Atomic Fly Studios) for the “Archon 43” banner. The cover artwork for my novel What’s Bred in the Bone is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee.

The photo of my art show panel from the FenCon XVI Art Show, and the photo of my new work The Silver Lady Appears, are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. The photo of the painting Boreas and Khione is by Lucy A. Synk, as is the artwork itself. Used here with permission from the artist.

The two “reading” photos that flank my book cover in the “readings” montage are by (L) Judith Bemis (taken at NorthAmericon ’17) and (R) Dolly M. Dgrafe (taken at FenCon XVI). The two photos from Archon 42 are by Jan S. Gephardt, and originally were published in the “Glimpses of Archon 42” post on this blog.

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!

Fencon Ho!

Headed for Texas

Ty and I are on the road once more.This time we’re set for the Westin DFW Airport Hotel in Irving, TX, and FenCon XV. It’s a new convention for us, but we hope to make new friends and meet up with some familiar faces. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there! Please note: events on the schedule have been updated since this post was originally published. Please check the online FenCon schedule to make sure you have the most current version!

My Schedule 

Click the links for more details about these panels!

Friday September 21

4:00-5:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Women Heroes in a Male-Dominated World

5:00-6:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – The Sexes . . . . in Space!

6:30-7:00 p.m. (Pecan Room) – Reading (see below!)

Saturday September 22

12:00-1:00 p.m. (Irving Lecture Hall) – We Can Make Them Faster Stronger … and Better!

1:00-2:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Yesterday’s Tomorrow

My Reading

As I did at Worldcon, I’ve created a postcard about my reading at FenCon. I’ll read an excerpt (or two?) from my soon-to-be published novel, What’s Bred in the Bone. 

I don’t yet have finished cover art from Jody A. Lee, but she sent me a color comp that gives a pretty good idea how the finished project will look. It illustrates a scene from around the middle of the novel, when Rex and LSA Shiva Shimon, an agent from the Station Bureau of Investigation, venture into the infamous underworld neighborhood known as the Five-Ten.

What’s Bred in the Bone is the first novel of an in-the-works trilogy about XK9 Officer Rex Dieter-Nell, his partner Detective Charlie Morgan, his mate XK9 Officer Shady Jacob-Belle, and their Packmates and friends on Rana Habitat Space Station. Look for it this winter. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates and exclusive extras!


My Artwork in the FenConXV Art Show! 

I laid all my artwork out on a measured-off box on my living room floor–and I think I can squeeze it all in! I’m taking an example of every current piece of paper sculpture in my collection to the FenCon Art Show. Don’t miss:

The Art Show Reception at 8:00 p.m. Friday at the Gallery

The Art and Charity Auction at 6:00 Saturday in the Irving Lecture Hall

Note: you can still buy art on Sunday morning.

This was my display panel at Westercon 71/MALCon 6. Most of these designs will be available at the FenCon Art Show.

IMAGES: Many thanks to FenCon XV for their website header/logo! The color comp for my soon-to-be cover is by Jody A. Lee, and is used by agreement. I took the photo of my own Westercon 71/MALCon 6 display. You may reblog or re-post it with my blessings, as long as you include an attribution and an link back to this post. Thanks!

My DemiCon 29 Experience

I had a good time at DemiCon 29 this year. It’s an intimate convention, about 500 or so attendees, and as with all science fiction convention experiences, each person’s reaction may differ. The things I look for in an sf con tend to be networking opportunities, a good Art Show, and interesting panels (to be on, and to attend).

The Iowa Writers’ Panel featured readings by (L-R) Rachel AukesLettie PrellAdam Whitlatch, and Shannon Ryan.

Networking

Since it was a smaller convention, there weren’t as many attending writers and artists as one tends to see at larger cons. This can be both good and bad. It’s a chance to get to know a few of one’s fellow “pros” better because of frequent interaction–but you make a limited number of contacts. Since I get along well with most people, I generally find at least a few people with whom to have a good conversation.

Smaller conventions also are great if you like more interaction with fans. The panel discussions tend to be more interactive, which offers an opportunity for delving deeper into ideas and information a given audience wants to explore. You never know who you may meet, or what areas of unexplored expertise or new ideas they may have.

Christine Mitzuk, the Artist Guest of Honor at DemiCon 29, gave a painting demonstration, and talked about her career.

Art Show

Smaller conventions often have smaller art shows, but DemiCon had a pretty good representation of “the usual mail-in suspects,” including Sarah ClemensTheresa Mather, and David Lee Pancake, as well as attending artists. Smaller conventions are places where local artists and talented beginners can gain a better showcase. The Artist Guest of Honor was Christine Mitzuk. I enjoyed interacting with her at programming events, and having a chance to see her beautiful work.

Sunday’s Creative Process panel at DemiCon 29 featured (L-R) Christina HenryAuthor Guest of HonorJan S. GephardtChristine MitzukArtist Guest of Honor; cartoonist and writer Daniel Mohr; and writer/historian Rob Howell. (Photo by Tyrell Gephardt)

Panels 

I would have liked a somewhat wider range of panels, but as I gathered (after the fact), to get a panel scheduled, one of the would-be panelists had to suggest it beforehand. If I’d figured that out sooner, I’d have suggested several more ideas, myself! I’m used to a different system–but never mind. I enjoyed the panels in which I did participate.

I especially enjoyed the readings, though I unfortunately had to miss the readings by Lettie Prell. I did get a chance to hear Adam WhitlatchRachel Aukes, and Shannon Ryan. I also had a chance to do a reading–but unfortunately, they scheduled mine opposite the Masquerade (DemiCon is WAY into costumes and cosplay). I had a small but enthusiastic audience of one (and he wasn’t even related to me! My son Ty was scheduled for something else opposite my reading).

One highlight was the chance to work on several panels with Rob Howell. I’d met him earlier, and I’ve been on panels with him before. He brings a sense of humor and a rich depth of knowledge to every discussion.

The Trans-Iowa Canal Company takes a curtain call at the end of their humorous DemiCon 29 Opening Ceremonies performance.

Other highlights 

DemiCon offered a range of other activities besides panels, readings, and the art show. As noted above, there was a Masquerade, there were room parties every night, and Opening Ceremonies, as usual offered a new performance by the Trans-Iowa Canal Company, or TICC, a group of comedic actors who present skits with an sf or fantasy bent.

Assorted visions from DemiCon 29: (L-R) Susan Leabhart, Fan Guest of Honor, with friend; the laser-light show at the Karaoke party Friday night; Something you just don’t see every day, a giant pink inflatable flamingo in the hotel lobby.

IMAGES: All photos except the one with Jan in it (which is by Tyrell Gephardt) are by Jan S. Gephardt, taken with permission where applicable. If you wish to re-post them, please don’t alter them, but do please give an attribution, and embed a link back to this post. Thanks!

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