Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: urban fantasy

Covers for G. S. Norwood's novellas, "Deep Ellum Pawn" and "Deep Ellum Blues."

The Deep Ellum Stories Continue: An excerpt

By G. S. Norwood, abetted by Jan S. Gephardt

00-HEADER-TWO-DEEP-ELLUM-COVERS

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Deep Ellum Blues’ publication, and some of our readers want to know. Will the Deep Ellum stories continue?

To that, we’re happy to answer an emphatic yes. Ms. Eddy’s adventures aren’t nearly over yet. But when’s the next story coming? Well, that’s a little harder to say. Death in Deep Ellum, the working title for the third story, is a murder mystery. It’s required some theological thinking and some careful interweaving of the plot elements, while G. also works on several other exciting fiction projects.

Oh, yes, and her job. Concerts are starting up again, and the grant proposals never did let up. So G.’s a busy lady in her day job, too.

The Deep Ellum Stories Continue

But yes. Rest assured. The Deep Ellum stories continue! To prove it, this post includes a first look at Death in Deep Ellum’s opening. But before that, a quick look at how we got here.

In the first story, Deep Ellum Pawn, we met Ms. Eddy Weekes, proprietor of Deep Ellum Pawn. Her shop is always there when you need it, and she rocks the most epic storage room and garden-with-water feature that you may ever have encountered.

“The Golden Fiddle is back. The Hell Hounds are Ms. Eddy’s problem now.”
The e-edition of Deep Ellum Pawn in a visualization from Book Brush. Cover artwork © 2019 by Chaz Kemp.

Deep Ellum Pawn Description

The Golden Fiddle is back. Can Ms. Eddy break its curse this time?

What’s a pawnshop owner to do? The cursed Golden Fiddle keeps coming back to Deep Ellum Pawn, the shop where Ms. Eddy Weekes stands guard over the historic Dallas, Texas, neighborhood of Deep Ellum. Each time the fiddle shows up, it leaves a swath of broken dreams and shattered lives, with a pack of fearsome Hell Hounds hot on its trail.

Music, magic, and legends intertwine in Deep Ellum, and things long buried have a way of coming back ‘round again. Only Ms. Eddy can end the fiddle’s curse, but first she must learn its secrets.

Will she have the tools she needs to fend off the Hell Hounds and get to the heart of the Golden Fiddle, before an ancient evil brings the darkness back to Deep Ellum forever?

The Deep Ellum Stories Continue with Deep Ellum Blues

We published Deep Ellum Pawn in November 2019, preceded by three successive blog posts with excerpts and a release-day announcement. People enjoyed it, so G. got to work on a second. You might also enjoy another post with some of the story’s background, and another one on the making of the cover.

We rolled out Deep Ellum Blues not quite a year later, again with a series of blog posts. They included an excerpt, an interview of G. by internationally-bestselling mystery novelist Deborah Crombie, and a look at the making of the cover. We also posted a Setlist with YouTube videos of Mudcat’s songs (scroll down), and a release notice. And we followed its release with a post by G. about the famous song Deep Ellum Blues.

“Mudcat Randall is flirting with disaster. Can Ms. Eddy break through, or will an old and tragic story make Deep Ellum sing a new kind of blues?”
The e-edition of Deep Ellum Blues in a visualization from Book Brush. Cover artwork © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

Deep Ellum Blues Description

Free will is a rule she doesn’t break.

As the genius loci of Deep Ellum, Ms. Eddy Weekes is a hands-off goddess who won’t micro-manage human affairs. She’d rather sit on the sidelines and enjoy the show. Her motto? “People have the right to make their own hideous, life-altering mistakes.”

But there’s something different about the young blues musician Mudcat Randall.

Maybe if her old friend Waylon hadn’t called him to her attention, she’d have let things be. Maybe if she hadn’t glimpsed something special in his music . . . But Mudcat is flirting with disaster. Eddy’s old adversary wants him to sign a tempting management contract, and there are deadly strings attached.

When a third force enters the fray, everything Mudcat has ever prayed for is suddenly on the line, and Eddy knows the game is rigged against him. Can Eddy break through to the headstrong musician? Or will an old and tragic story make Deep Ellum sing a new kind of blues?

Coming Next: Death in Deep Ellum

We promised you an excerpt. Here’s a glimpse of the current draft’s opening.

Chapter One: Prayer of the Dying

There is no prayer like the prayer of the dying.

As the genius loci of Deep Ellum, the historically Black, funky, happenin’ heart of Dallas, Texas, I hear those prayers, whether the people praying live here or just come to hang out for a while. Think of me as the neighborhood’s resident goddess. You can call me Ms. Eddy Weekes.

I heard Perkins’ prayer just after dark on a scorching summer evening. Perkins was an alcoholic, and a member in good standing of the homeless population that still drifts through Deep Ellum despite all the developers’ efforts to gentrify. I’d kept my eye on him for the past couple of years, but I hadn’t anticipated any sudden downturn in his condition.

Ms. Eddy, a detail from Chaz Kemp’s Deep Ellum Pawn cover.
Ms. Eddy, ©2019 by Chaz Kemp.

When he called, I was with him in an instant. I found him curled on his side by a back-alley dumpster off Elm Street. He’d been shot three times in the gut, and blood was everywhere.

“I’m here, Perkins. I heard you. I can fix this,” I said. The day’s heat radiated up from the crumbling asphalt as I dropped to the ground, but Perkins’ skin was already going cold, his dark skin going gray.

He rolled onto his back, his head on my knees, and I put my arms around his shoulders, trying with all my will to knit his shattered intestines back together.

“It’s my time, Miz Eddy. Don’t worry ‘bout me. It’s my time.”

His voice was a thin thread, only sustained by the force of my will. He had called out to me in need. I had to know what he wanted me to do.

“What happened?”

“I’ze jus’ here, and he come up out of nowhere. Shot me. Didn’t say a thing. Then he’s gone.” Perkins bucked a little against my legs, racked by a cough, a shiver, or some spasm of pain.

“What can I do, Perkins? How can I help?”

“I don. Wanna go. To the bad place. I bin. A drunk. But I ain’t. Bin bad.” His breath was coming in short gasps now.

“You won’t go to the bad place,” I promised. I could see his soul starting to spin out and away from his body, so I reeled it in, holding it close. “What else?”

Perkins made a supreme effort. He used his very last breath to ask one more thing of me.

“Get that son of a bitch.”

He sagged in my arms as I drew together the last tattered fragments of his soul, winding it into a tight ball. Holding it in my heart, as well as my hands, I said aloud, “Nathan Allen Perkins, I see you. I see you in your entirety. I see your heart. I see your mind. I see your soul. You are worthy. You will be missed. You will be remembered. You are safe in my hands, and free to move forward without fear.”

Then I tucked his soul into a pocket of time and space not even my old foe, Nick, could hack into. I sent the little pocket to the store room of my pawn shop, where Perkins’ soul could rest until I delivered it on up to the next level.

That done, I paused a moment to absorb the loss of a man I had liked. I’d given Perkins sandwiches from the shop down the street. He’d kept an eye out for Morsel, my wandering cat. We had shared gossip, and the news of the neighborhood. Perkins’ belief in me had fed my being just as surely as my sandwiches had fed his. I am far too old to trade in human relationships but, as far as it was possible, Perkins had been my friend. I would miss him.

So I took the moment to mourn. Something vital was now gone from Deep Ellum, and I felt the loss.

A detail from one of Chaz Kemp’s working drawings of Ms. Eddy.
Ms. Eddy, ©2020 by Chaz Kemp.

Then I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and called 9-1-1.

It would only take the cops a few minutes to get here.

In those few minutes, I took a look around the alley. I wasn’t interested in the three brass shell casings I spotted at the corner where Crowdus Street intersected with the alley that ran behind a rag-tag assortment of take-out restaurants. I didn’t much care about the view from the youth hostel that loomed above me, or the rusty, reeking dumpster that must have all but hidden Perkins unless someone was looking for him. I saw the bottle he’d been nursing, smelled the rotgut that had spilled from it.

And, faintly, under the garbage, the booze and the blood, I smelled something else entirely. As I rose from the pavement to stand guard over my friend’s body, I caught just the barest trace of brimstone. Somehow, in some way I could not yet see, Nick had had a hand in this.

I would help the police, if I could, to find the man who pulled the trigger, but Perkins had asked me for more than mere human justice. He’d asked me to “get that son of a bitch.” That meant I was going to have to track down the Devil himself.

The Deep Ellum Stories Continue

We hope you’re looking forward to Death in Deep Ellum as much as we are. And we’ll keep you posted on progress!

IMAGE CREDITS:

The covers for Deep Ellum Pawn and Deep Ellum Blues are ©2019 and 2020, respectively, by Chaz Kemp. The character developments for Ms. Eddy are also ©2019 and 2020, respectively, by Chaz Kemp. Many thanks!

A montage image: scrawny young Gift at the shelter, compared to comfortable adult Gift in G’s lap today.

The Universe Gives me a Cat

Deepest thanks to G. S. Norwood and The Weird Blog for allowing me to simul-blog “The Universe Gives Me a Cat.” I promise I’ll be back soon with my own material. – Jan

By G. S. Norwood

Sometimes the Universe gives me a cat.

I write urban fantasy, so I’m fairly open to the idea of magical energies at play in our mundane world. Still, I had no intention of adopting a cat in October of 2019. When my oldest cat, Scrap, died that July, I was comfortable with the idea of being reduced to a two-cat household. “If the Universe gives me a cat, I’ll have another cat. But I’m not going to go out looking,” I told myself. It became my mantra.

G’s black cat Scrap sits on a windowsill in a 2007 photo. Next to it is Chaz Kemp’s artwork of the cat Tidbit, from “Deep Ellum Pawn.”
My senior cat Scrap, who died in July 2019, provided the inspiration for Ms. Eddy’s cat Tidbit, created for Deep Ellum Pawn. Photo of Scrap from G. S. Norwood’s private collection. Illustration of Tidbit © 2019 by Chaz Kemp.

And then, one Saturday toward the end of October, I went out for a routine errand run. I needed dog food, and furnace filters, and I wanted to make a fuel stop before my car hit empty. I’d meant to leave around ten but, somehow, I didn’t get out of the house before 1 pm.

My ‘little voice’ speaks

As I headed north to get gas, I heard a little voice in the back of my head. All the women in my family hear this voice when we need to pay special attention to something.

Go to the shelter, it said.

The animal shelter is located just one exit short of my gas station, but I didn’t want to adopt another animal.

“That’s silly,” I told myself. But I kept getting the strong message: “Go to the shelter. Go now.”

So I went. I’d been there lots of times over the years through my volunteer work with a dog rescue group. I’ve resisted lots of cute kittens. I wasn’t worried.

A montage image of G’s four Border Collie dogs.
I acquired the members of “The Texas Pack” during my work with dog rescue groups. Photos from G. S. Norwood’s private collection.

The shelter opens at noon on Saturday, and it was busy when I got there. On the weekend before Halloween, they were having a Harry Potter-themed adoption event, with all adult animals available for a fee of $9.75. I cruised along, letting the more eager adopters get a better look, scanning the cute tabbies, but not really interested in any of them.

The Kitten in the Back

Then I spotted a tiny calico, with her back to everybody. In that same instant a little girl—about three—body-slammed into the glass window yelling, “Kitty!” Her parents had brought her there to adopt her very first pet. She was so excited she was literally bouncing off the walls.

My immediate, gut reaction to this adorable child’s interest in the calico was, “Get the hell away from my cat, you little twerp!”

I realized I needed to examine that reaction. Then, as the little girl’s parents peeled her off the glass and redirected her attention to the dogs, I asked the shelter worker if I could see the cat. She showed me into a private room and went to get the calico.

As soon as she returned, she started apologizing. “This kitty is kind of slow to warm up,” she warned me. “She has a little cold from when she got her spay surgery. She has a back toe that must have gotten caught in a trap or something. It’s kind of mangled . . .”

The Universe Gives Me a Cat

I said it was fine. The shelter worker put the calico on my lap.

I looked down at a pitiful bundle of orange and black fur, and met the flat, assessing gaze of a determined soul. Understanding that this whole experience had a psychic aura, I opened myself to the kitten, so she could see what I was made of. I tried to project love and comfort.

A montage image: scrawny young Gift at the shelter, compared to comfortable adult Gift in G’s lap today.
In just one year, the scrawny, snotty-nosed little calico I found in the shelter underwent a remarkable transformation. But she still likes to cuddle. Photos from G. S. Norwood’s private collection.

We held our gaze for at least five seconds. Then it was as if she decided yes, okay, I would do. She turned around, tucked herself into the crook of my elbow, and began to knead and purr.

“Is she . . . making biscuits?” the shelter volunteer asked, clearly astonished.

“Yes. And purring. You said she was slow to warm up?”

“She’s totally snubbed two different adopters already today.”

As if to make her intentions perfectly clear, the calico climbed up my arm and scrubbed her jaw against mine, scent-marking me as hers.

I’ve been Adopted

“Well, they do say that cats choose their owners,” I told the shelter worker, “She can be an early birthday present for me.”

When I said “present,” the name Gift chimed in my heart, the way names do when you know they’re right. We all know that if you name an animal, it’s yours.

“So, you’re going to take her?”

“I have to, don’t I? It looks like I’ve been adopted.”

G. with her new kitten in October 2019.
A shelter staffer took this photo of G. and Gift, to commemorate the adoption. Photo by Marcy Weiske Jordan, from G. S. Norwood’s private collection.

After that it was just filling out paperwork. Although she was tiny, Gift was old enough to have been spayed, so she qualified as an adult. She cost $9.75 to adopt. I actually had the cash, although I rarely carry cash. All the stars aligned so I could walk out of the shelter I hadn’t intended to visit with a cat I’d had no intention of adopting when I left the house. Because, clearly, the Universe wanted to give me a cat.

IMAGE CREDITS

Most of the photos in this post come from G. S. Norwood’s private collection. Illustration of Tidbit is © 2019 by Chaz Kemp. Photo of G. with Gift at the shelter taken by Marcy Weiske Jordan. Photo montages created by Jan S. Gephardt.

Collaborative vision: Creating a cover for Deep Ellum Blues

Creating the cover for Deep Ellum Blues called for collaborative vision. G.S. Norwood’s latest novelette is set for release on Amazon September 30, 2020.

To visually represent it, we needed a cover with something old, something new, and something recognizably magical. In pursuit of that, G., cover artist Chaz Kemp, and I blended ideas from three different creative viewpoints.

The cover for “Deep Ellum Blues” depicts a pivotal moment in the story, featuring Miz Eddy, Nick, and between them Mudcat, who is playing his guitar. The novelette by G. S. Norwood should be available from Weird Sisters Publishing on Amazon, starting September 30, 2020.
From Weird Sisters Publishing LLC: Cover art for Deep Ellum Blues © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

The cover of a book has to do a lot of things all at once, and it has to do them at a very small size. Amazon sure isn’t making its thumbnails any bigger than it has to, as you may have noticed. I’ve written other “how we made this cover” posts for Deep Ellum Pawn and The Other Side of Fear.

The cover must catch a prospective reader’s eye. Telegraph the genre. Offer a glimpse of a hint of the story that makes our ideal reader curious, and ideally it makes them want to click to find out more. And when it’s part of a series, it also has share identifying characteristics that make it look like it belongs in that series.

I’ll take these out of order, but here’s how we tried to satisfy each one.

A glimpse of a hint of the story

Stories are why we read fiction. If the cover offers an effective tease about the story within, most readers will want to know more. The difficulty lies in the tease. A cover that gives the whole story away is no fun. A cover that’s merely puzzling can be a turn-off. So we have to strike a balance.

At Weird Sisters, we respect artists’ vision. Rather than hand an artist a short description of what we think should be on the cover, we prefer that the artist read the story first (we’re even willing to pay extra for the time this takes). Artists, especially those who’ve designed covers in the past, often come up with great, graphically striking ideas that we haven’t even thought of.

Even if the first idea doesn’t quite nail it—and they almost never do—it offers a place to start. It’s all part of developing a collaborative vision.

For this project, we worked again with the talented Colorado artist Chaz Kemp. He created the cover for the first story, Deep Ellum Pawn. He already knows and has developed a portrayal for Miz Eddy, the main character. And we greatly value his willingness to work with our ideas as well as his own.

Chaz’s first idea had a white background, and portrayed the character Mudcat with his guitar, while an ethereal-looking Miz Eddy looked on.
Artwork © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

Chaz’s first suggestion focused on a pivotal moment in the story. I wasn’t sure it quite expressed what we wanted it to, and G. worried that it gave away too much (should I have included a spoiler alert?). But we both agreed he’d hit on an excellent moment to dramatize.

Portraying Miz Eddy and the others

Chaz already had developed a strong character image for Miz Eddy Weekes on the first cover. She’s a strong, no-nonsense character with a blend of ethnic roots. Her strength came through clearly on the first cover, but in the scene we wanted to target she’d be facing an adversary, the recurring character we met in Deep Ellum Pawn as Nick.

The portrayal of Miz Eddy went through eight different changes before we settled on a version we liked. Sometimes a collaborative vision takes a while. Here’s a lineup of all eight.
Artwork © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

We went through a sequence of ideas to develop a body position and facial expression that we all agreed worked best for the scene.

We followed similar procedures with the other characters. Nick and Mudcat have specific traits that a good character portrayal can communicate. In Mudcat’s case, he also had to have one special, very specific guitar, which is clearly identified in the story.

A passionate music lover wrote this story, and it shows. People of any musical understanding can enjoy it, but it’s got a lot of cool “inside stuff” for other music lovers. Especially those who love the Blues. With good reference material from G., Chaz gave us the exact-right guitar. For those who know the Sons of Hermann Hall in Deep Ellum, TX, and its history, the background offers yet more authenticity.

Eye-catching, genre-specific, and series-consistent

For the first releases of the Deep Ellum novelettes, we’re publishing in Kindle Unlimited. They’re short enough to belong in Kindle’s “90-minute Science Fiction and Fantasy” category, but a paperback turned out to be impractical for something as small as a novelette (when the fourth one’s done, we’ll publish an omnibus edition to multiple platforms, as both ebook and paperback).

But that means the cover has to be eye-catching, even in a postage-stamp size. And it needs to be understandable, even in black and white—since some ebook readers don’t do color. We started out early, testing for “readability” in black and white. The way to achieve that is by using contrast.

Artwork © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

Our primary source of contrast is also an element that conveys “magic.” So is the difference in scale between Miz Eddy, Nick, and Mudcat. This story is technically urban fantasy or occult fantasy by category. We needed to make the magic an easy-to-see element.

Finally, to make it clear this is part of a series, Chaz used the same type font, angle, and positions for the title and the author’s name on both covers. We also used the same kind of frame element around the edges.

From Weird Sisters Publishing LLC, cover art for Deep Ellum Pawn © 2019 by Chaz Kemp. Cover art for Deep Ellum Blues © 2020 by Chaz Kemp.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this description of how G., Chaz, and I developed our collaborative vision for the cover of Deep Ellum Blues. I’ve written other “how we made this cover” posts for Deep Ellum Pawn and The Other Side of Fear, if you’d also like to see them.

IMAGE CREDITS

All of the artwork in this post is by Chaz Kemp. The cover and working images for Deep Ellum Blues are all ©2020 by Chaz Kemp. The cover of Deep Ellum Pawn is ©2019 by Chaz Kemp. All rights reserved, but it’s fair use if these images are used as commentary, and this post, Chaz Kemp, and Weird Sisters Publishing are identified and credited. Don’t forget to add hyperlinks to the sources included.

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.

Over and con too soon!

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

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

One last time at the Reed Center in Midwest City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panels and Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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