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The Veggie Project on the ISS

Growing Rana Station’s agriculture

the cover of "What's Bred in the Bone."
What’s Bred in the Bone
Cover art © 2019 by Jody A. Lee

Rana Station‘s agriculture is a big part of my vision for the primary backdrop of my characters’ lives. If you’ve read my first novel, What’s Bred in the Bone, you’ve possibly gotten an inkling that very little arable soil inside the tori of my characters’ habitat space station home lies fallow. Even small spaces are nearly all devoted to growing food.

I’ve blogged in the past about how humans will feed themselves and provide enough protein to live permanently in space. I’ve long been an interested follower of efforts to grow food crops on the International Space Station,as well as intensive gardening efforts here on earth.

Gardening sisters

Last week, my sister G. S. Norwood wrote on The Weird Blog about the joy, beauty, and health benefits of her gardening projects. Having grown up under the same influences, I’ve long been a gardener, too.

But while G. specializes in flowers, I’ve always been more of a fruits and veggies woman, myself. Having grown up in the ’60s and ’70s, I was always half-convinced I’d better hone my skills at organic gardening, in case I survived the coming nuclear armageddon, and needed to feed myself and others afterwards (unlike a prepper, I figured learning how to can the food I grow would feed me longer than squirreling away canned foods like Spam and beans).

Jan, in her garden in 1974, with her new bike and her sister's Irish setter.
I’d worked most of the summer of 1974 to buy that bicycle. I posed for it (with G.’s dog Finnian) in my garden. (photo probably taken by G. or our mother, to send to my then-boyfriend, now-husband, who was working in Colorado).

Eventually, worries about nuclear Armageddon receded as a real possibility in my maturing brain. But I still followed organic gardening methods. They appealed to my evolving environmentally-friendly consciousness.

More recently, in a concession to knee injuries, I’ve taken up container gardening. This has led to some interesting experiences–and inspired more ideas to use for Rana Station’s agriculture.

Lettuce and marigolds grow in Jan's cedar planter-box in 2019.
New in 2019: I added a cedar planter to my patio container garden, seen here dominated by lettuce and marigolds. (photo by Jan S. Gephardt)

My thought-experiment world

These influences all combined in my world-building efforts on Rana Station. Years of watching how our world and its societies work, years of teaching, and years of gardening have given me some strong opinions. How better (or more sfnal!) to explore their possibilities and shortfalls than to test them out in a “thought-experiment” world?

In my concept, Rana Station’s agriculture is not only necessary for their own consumption. It’s also a key export that is vital to their economy. A problem every space-based habitat faces is how to feed its inhabitants. The more I looked at the possibilities, the clearer it became to me that the early NASA developers were not gardeners or farmers.

"Torus agriculture," as envisioned by NASA engineers in the 1970s.
A year or so after my garden photo with Finnian and the bike, this was NASA’s idea of farming on a space colony. Note the stark division between agricultural and residential areas. (detail of uncredited NASA photo found on Socks Studio.)

What if a gardener from farm country did take a whack at figuring out how to feed the 8.4 million humans and 2.4 million ozzirikkians I wanted on Rana? What would such an effort take?

Thinking outside of strict divisions

First, I eliminated the to-me-strange division between “agricultural” and “residential” areas that seemed endemic in many of the space colony concepts (Designed by men who never got food anywhere but a grocery store?). 

Intensive plantings make the most of a small space, including a "salad wall" vertical garden.
“Salad wall” and raised bed give good examples of food grown intensively in a small amount of space. (Photo courtesy of QuickCrop).

Why not grow “veggie walls” in commercial buildings? Why not cultivate vine crops that hang from baskets or planter boxes on the residence towers’ balconies?

Then I conceived my living area not as a broad, relatively flat plain, but more like the agricultural terraces of YemenAsia, and the Incas. I envisioned a convex/concave profile of the Ranan hillsides would maximize arable surface area

Rice terraces create flat areas in hilly places, for rice paddies.
Rice terraces of Longsheng (Longji) in China (Photo by Anna Frodesiak – Own work, Public Domain)

This also creates an endless, undulating river valley that accommodates natural patterns of water flow. Yes, they still have to dredge parts of it occasionally. But they’ll have prepared for it.

Rana Station’s agriculture and its economy

In my universe, Rana Stationers have made a name for themselves as an interstellar farmers market of the first order. Not being required to haul their fresh produce up from a planetary gravity wellthey have a pricing and freshness advantage to offer the interstellar transports that stop over at the station to restock between transits through the local jump point.

Root crops, leaf crops, and squash at a farmer's market.
Fresh produce from the Fresh and Local Farmers Market, near Arizona State University (photo courtesy of Facebook/Fresh and Local at ASU, via Phoenix New Times)

I think it’s likely space environments will be dominated by utilitarian freeze-dried, frozen, and reconstituted foods in the form of microgravity-friendly ration bars, packets, or bulbs. In light of that, what sybaritic joy might fresh produce offerI can imagine captains who plot their course through the Chayko System’s jump point specifically to access the fruits of Rana Station’s agriculture.

ISS Space food, on a tray.
Taken in the Food Tasting lab in building 17: Bags of International Space Station food and utensils on tray, 2003. (Photo courtesy of NASA, via Wikimedia Commons).

Visions to come

I’m currently working with illustrators, and also on my own artwork, to come up with better ways to envision the station. I plan to share those efforts in future blog posts, and once I get my newsletter off the ground, they’ll also show up there on occasion. I hope you’ll join my explorations.

IMAGE CREDITS

What’s Bred in the Bone cover art © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. The 1974 photo of me was probably taken by G. or our mother, to show off the bike to my then-boyfriend, now-husband. I took the photo of my most recent container-gardening addition. 

Many thanks to Socks Studio for the uncredited NASA photo of agriculture on a space colony. I appreciate QuickCrop, for the intensive planting photo, and Anna Frodesiak – Own work, Public Domain for the rice terraces photo. Thank you, to the Phoenix New Times for the farmers market photo, and to NASA and Wikimedia Commons for the ISS food photo. The featured image shows NASA’s Veggie Project on the ISS. I appreciate you all!

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.

Report from the Swamp Thing

Some reports come from me as the Author Ascendant; this is a report from the Swamp Thing.

On normal weeks, I like to write a thoughtful post about something that’s caught my attention or is part of a series, on Wednesdays. I think of it as my “main” post of the week. 

This has not been a normal week

This photo shows a beautiful sunny day in the swamp forest surrounding Colakreek in Suriname, as well as three people swimming in the dark waters of the creek.
The “The almost black water of Colakreek in Suriname is popular for recreational swimming,” according to the photographer, a person using the name Forrestjunky. Of course it is.

Becoming a Swamp Thing

The past two days have felt like wading through a metaphorical swamp. In the fullness of time, this’ll be “old hat.” I keep clinging to that thought. But anyone who’s gone through the process of bringing a book into published form knows how much fun the “maiden voyage” is (not).

It seems like I’ve been dragging my dinghy full of dreams through muddy waters and masses of mangroves. As if I’ve waded through waist-deep bayous of online forms that ask arcane questions, the like of which I’ve never had to answer before. 

This is a photo taken during the annual Riverland Dinghy Derby in Australia. It shows a man in a helmet leaning over the front end of a red dinghy, as it cuts through green water in the middle of a swampy grassland. What we can't tell is that the boat is traveling at speeds up to 50 mph, and that guy is effing crazy to stick his head out like this, holding down the front of his boat.
This guy is not dragging his dinghy–he’s holding down the front end. We Americans have no corner on the “wild and crazy” market. This is a photo from an Australian event, the Riverland Dinghy Derby, during which two-man crews race through a swamp at speeds up to 50 mph. My efforts this week never reached a parallel velocity.

I’ve striven to raise coherent, properly-formatted graphics up out of the muck of previous musings and hastily-jotted notes. I’ve fended off biting swarms of glitches, frozen forms, and rebooted programs. And I’ve beaten back time-sucking leeches of error messages that come with opaque reasons that offer little insight about how to address the flagged problem.

This photo shows a line of mangroves, which look like brown mats of roots rising out of fairly calm brown water, with vibrant green, spearhead-shaped leaves opened upward to catch the sunlight.
Real mangroves are incredibly valuable plants, bridging land and sea, and doing way more than their share to sequester carbon, stabilize the land, and provide natural breakwaters from storm surges. These grow “on the banks of Vellikeel river in Kannur District of Kerala, India,” according to photographer Lamiot.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Swamps and wetlands are really valuable, essential ecosystems. Far from being “wastelands,” they are among the most vitally important natural places to preserve. But your average human is generally at a disadvantage in that terrain. 

Evolving to Thrive in the Self-Publishing Swamp

We bipedal land-mammals would navigate them better if we really were Swamp Things. It is my aspiration to someday be a publishing-website “Swamp Thing,” who floats past the flotsam and parses the particulars with ease. But in this report from the Swamp Thing, I’m still wearing my swim fins.

This is a screen capture of the front, spine, and back covers for my paperback book, as formatted into their IngramSpark template.
Here’s a screen-capture of the project that ate most of my day. Finally uploaded, but still under review. The cover artwork is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. The rest of the design and art direction is all my fault.

All joking and metaphor aside, however, I’ve finally made it to the point where I’m hovering on the brink of offering What’s Bred in the Bone for pre-sale and Advance Reader Copies. Stand by. There will be another report from the Swamp Thing soon! (Even if I’m still just starting to grow my gills).

IMAGES

Many, many thanks to Forrestjunky and Wikimedia, for the right to use (and in my case crop) the photo  of Colakreek in Suriname. I also appreciate New 99.1 Country from Ft. Collins, CO, for the photo and story about the Riverlands Dinghy Derby–oh, what a “hold my beer and watch this,” moment that race must be. And finally, I deeply appreciate photographer Lamiotand Wikipedia, for the permission to share a photo of some of the Kannur District’s mangroves. As noted in the caption, The cover artwork is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. The rest of the design and art direction is all my fault.

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.

Trees on buildings: a growing trend

The Artdog Image of Interest

A major theme in environmentally sustainable architecture is the incorporation of plants into design. This requires some unusual logistics, but confers such research-established advantages as mitigating urban heat islands, carbon sequestration, and psychological benefits for people using the buildings.

In the small but burgeoning sub-genre of speculative fiction called Solarpunk, incorporation of plants into urban life and buildings (along with rivers and streams, solar and other sorts of sustainable power, and sustainably-sourced materials) is also a prominent element.

My own forthcoming novel, What’s Bred in the Bone (to be released May 22, 2019) probably doesn’t count as Solarpunk per se, because it’s not set in our Solar system. But its setting, a habitat space station designed to be self-sustaining, and powered by light from the local system’s day-star, is almost a character in its own right. I’ve drawn heavily on recent developments in architecture, intensive gardening, and related areas.

VIDEO: Many thanks to The B1M on YouTube for this excellent video survey of tree- and plant-enhanced architecture. My subscribers may notice I posted this a day earlier than normal for an Image of Interest; I have a special series running next week for Library Week that starts on Sunday, so I rearranged the posting dates just a bit. (Oh, and . . . sorry for the pun in the post’s title. I couldn’t resist.)

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.

Glimpses of Archon 42

Halloween? No, just an active costuming contingent!

I enjoyed my return to Archon, a St. Louis-area convention I’d often attended when it was scheduled in the summer (I know: back in ancient days!). In more recent decades, this convention has become a major event for restaurants and hotels near the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL. The one I’m writing about here was held October 12-14, 2018.

I enjoyed the costumes–but what I managed to catch in photos are a far cry from their full extent. For a better glimpse of what tends to wander the halls of Archon, there’s a great photo lineup from #41, by Thomas Crone in St. Louis Magazine onlineand the Masquerade has a Facebook page you also may enjoy. Here’s another rather comprehensive look at the convention you also may enjoy.

One thing about Archon at the Gateway Center: you walk a lot. Even the main convention hotel, the Doubletree, isn’t attached to the Gateway Centerso you’re walking wherever you stay (we stayed at the just-as-nearby Fairfield Inn, which was sung and well-kept). The other thing about the Doubletree is that it books up each year in a flash. It wasn’t the best of weather for trekking though the landscape, this year. I was glad I’d brought my trench coat.

Of course, I always want to display my artwork at conventions I attend. Here’s my Archon 42 Art Show display.

I also love to be on, and also attend, panels. I have photos from several enjoyable ones, below. This year, I also have put a particular emphasis on my readings, as a way to both learn what other authors are writing, and to give people an advance glimpse of my to-be-released-this-winter science fiction novel What’s Bred in the Bone.

The programming staff mostly put me on Art Track panels, rather than the writing ones I’ve become used to lately, so I had a chance to do things such as dust off my art teacher skills for Basic Drawing and geek out with Rachael Mayo about art supplies, quality, and when/how you can afford to go with a cheaper option.

Rachael Mayo (seated at left) brought samples of different kinds of both paper and colored pencils (some cheap, some top-grade professional, some in between), for the audience to test at the end of the Saturday panel titled Crayola is Fine, Right?: Art on a Budget.”
One of the first programming items I attended on Friday of the convention was one of their three-person Author Readings, this one featuring, L-R: Donna J.W. MunroMarella Sands, and Christine Nobbe, who read a science fiction story she often shares with her gifted classes.
The “Diversity in Speculative Fiction” panel on Friday night of the con explored long-overdue changes developing as sf becomes more inclusive. L-R Participants: Jennifer Stolzer, Kathleen KayembeCamille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer, who moderated.
The Sunday afternoon “Alternate Paths to Publishing” panel had such an engaged audience that we overshot our scheduled stop-time, and missed Closing Ceremonies. L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”) moderated; Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer added a variety of thoughts and reflections on their experiences.

Archon 43 will be held in Collinsville again next year, Oct. 4-6, 2019. But don’t expect to book a room in the Doubletree. It’s already full up.

IMAGES: All of the photos in this post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, at Archon 42, between October 12-14, 2018. You may freely re-post or reblog them, but in all fairness please include an attribution to me, and a link back to this post. The cover art for What’s Bred in the Bone is a color comp by Jody A. Lee; she promises the finished art is coming soon.

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!

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!

Crossing the finish line

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve been away from this blog for much longer than I wanted to be.

I have prided myself on keeping up with my writing and art, as well as blogging here three (occasionally two) times a week, no matter what else life threw my way. I’ve managed it pretty consistently for a while. But I guess you know what they say about pride.

I hate missing deadlines. But ever since the week after Worldcon I’ve had to let some deadlines go, to meet another. I had a challenging editorial deadline for the please-God-final draft of my novel What’s Bred in the Bone, this past week.

I did it. The manuscript is turned in. Done. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s still not perfect, but I’ve had some indications from sources who seem reliable, that it’s pretty darn good. You’ll get a chance to judge for yourself later this year, if all goes well. Keep following this blog, and sign up for my newsletter for updates!

But Napoleon Hill was definitely onto something with the opening quote up there. Until there’s a deadline, you can go on, and on, and on, and . . . just keep dreaming. It can turn into a trap that means you’re never quite be ready to call a project done.

There’s a saying commonly attributed to Voltaire, that “perfect (more accurate to say “the best”) is the enemy of good.” He was quoting an Italian proverb, but this essential wisdom that you can strive for perfection till the end of time, and never get anything actually accomplished has been a truism in many ages and cultures.

For me, the most helpful variation is the one illustrated here: Perfect is the enemy of DONE. I needed to get on with finishing my book. I’ve got others to write! My new editor and a challenging deadline were just the tonic I needed to get this one DONE.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Brainy Quote for the Napoleon Hill quote-with-image. I haven’t been able to go further back than Pinterest for the “enemy of the done” image!

 

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