Making Your Own Magic

This past summer, I listened to the audiobook version of Felicia Day’s memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost). Listened, rather than read, because I saw her in person on a panel at Denver ComicCon and thought she was a delightful and engaging speaker.

Almost anyone who considers themselves a geek is familiar with Felicia Day. Along with recurring roles on Supernatural and Eureka, and co-starring in Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and being a consummate gamer, she created and starred in that seminal Internet video series, the Guild. In her memoir, she tells the story of how she pulled together this show using spit and chicken wire, inspiration and perspiration, and a whole lot of caffeine. Her budget was whatever she could beg, borrow or steal. In other words, she made her own magic and the result was a phenomenon.

Felicia Day’s memoir spoke to me. It said you can make your own magic happen, too. Coincidentally (or was it?), while I was listening, I received a conditional resubmit letter from a publisher. It basically stated that they were interested in my novel, Fake, but wanted me to submit a rewrite with some substantial edits, including changing the point of view. This isn’t the first time this has happened. A few years ago, I submitted another book to a publisher and got a similar request. I did the rewrite and didn’t much like the results. It altered the story and characters too much. I resubmitted and was rejected. All that work for nothing. Or was it?

During that time, I was living in Colorado, and after receiving the rejection I had a bit of a meltdown and went to stay with a friend in San Francisco. While there, I wandered the streets and came up with the idea for Fake and the world of the Crossroads.

The offer from this latest publisher brought me to my own crossroads. Do I take that chance again? Do I send the manuscript to another publisher? Or, like Felicia Day, do I make my own magic?

I chose magic. I put myself on the path, and steep learning curve, of indie publishing, which I’ll blog about in future posts. I’ve submitted Fake to Amazon’s KDP program. It’s now available for pre-order and will launch on November 1, 2016.

Hitting the button that submitted my final draft was the hardest part. I wondered why and then realized it was the final step in saying farewell to my dream of being traditionally published. Making your own magic means discovering and owning your own power. Wish me well on this journey. May you discover and make your own magic and dreams come true.

Big Wow! Comic Fest 2015

Stepping out of the TARDIS and into adventure with Four and Six.

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At Big Wow Comic Fest with Four and Ten.

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This is the last year for San Jose’s Big Wow! Comic Fest. Next year, it becomes Silicon Valley Comic Con. Exciting news! I’ll definitely be there.

Convention Etiquette

I spent a fabulous weekend at Denver Comic and arrived home Sunday night a weary-to-the-bone but happy fan girl.

This was the convention’s second year and it seemed twice as large with twice as many in attendance. Initially, I was a little disappointed because I really enjoyed last year’s small, homey con. However, bigger did mean better, with great guests like George Takei, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day and The Shat. The dealers’ room/artist alley space was huge and took hours to get through. There were some great panels on geek culture. I especially enjoyed the one on geek girls, which included a lively discussion on whether or not the label is still relevant.

I also enjoyed seeing lots of children. This was a kid friendly event and whole families turned out, some dressed in costume. One of my favorites was dad dressed as the fourth Doctor, mom dressed as his Time Lord companion, Romana, and their daughter costumed as a Dalek. Adorable!

Unfortunately, bigger also meant lengthy line for just about everything, particularly registration, where the lines were hours long.  Inside the convention center, lines to see the guests of honor and even some of the panels wound around the hallways. The dealers’ room/artist alley aisles were usually packed with people.

It was a saving grace that most people were polite. Since this is convention season, I thought this would be a good opportunity to go over a few basics of con etiquette.

Do Not Cut in Line
Yes, the line is very long and you really want to get in, and you really shouldn’t have to wait for two-three hours. Suck it up. It’s first come, first served, and the people at the front of the line probably arrived at 5 a.m. and deserve their spot. Holding a place in line for up to five people is acceptable. More than that should go to the back of the line.

Ask Permission Before Taking a Photo
It may be assumed that all cosplayers are exhibitionists who want their pictures taken at any time. False! For example, if cosplayers are sitting down at a table and eating lunch, they don’t want to be bothered by every fool with a camera. Those who want their pictures taken usually make themselves available in some way. Catch them when they’re strolling around the concourse, not otherwise engaged, and always ask permission. This gives the cosplayer(s) time to stop and pose, and give you an awesome shot.

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

I asked the zombie’s permission before entering his cage. He rewarded me by trying to eat my brains!

If you like a popular fandom, such as “Game of Thrones” and “Doctor Who,” chances are there will be a group photo shoot. In this case, you don’t need to ask permission, but you should wait until the cosplayers are posed before you start photographing.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, you should ALWAYS ask a parent’s permission before photographing a young child. The one exception is a group photo shoot, when permission is implied.

Save a Reasonable Number of Seats
It is reasonable to save up to two seats on either side of you. Trying to save a whole row makes you a jackass and no one will respect that.

Respect the Artists and Dealers
You might not like all the art you see on Artist Alley. Keep those remarks to yourself until you are out of earshot of the artist. You might think a dealer booth is overpriced. Fair enough, but don’t haggle unless the vendor seems open to it. For example, you show an interest in a $20 item and the dealer offers to give you two for $30. Don’t place your stuff on their merchandise. Anything that damages their merchandise is their monetary loss and they are at the con to make money.

Last but Not Least: Hygiene!
You are going to be at close quarters with lots of people. It is a much more pleasant experience if everyone in the room bathed or showered and brushed their teeth that morning. Deodorant is a must, but lay off on the heavy scented colognes and perfumes.

In the end, at cons as well as regular life, it is always best to follow Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick.

Convention Season

Convention season is upon us and I hope all my fellow geeks out there have at least one fun con in which to romp. I am geeking out in a major way, spending two consecutive weekends at three conventions.

Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I headed to San Jose for the joint conventions, Fanime and Clockwork Alchemy. I have to shout this out to San Francisco Bay Area folks who aren’t in the know. For a $50 preregistration fee, you can spend four days at two conventions. It’s an incredible value and tons of fun.

Fanime is all things anime and manga, as well as a bit of Asian cinema thrown in. The attendees love to cosplay, i.e., dress in the costumes of their favorite characters. It’s like a four-day costume party that goes all day and all night. Just so you know, this is a very young crowd and the majority tends to be in their teen and twenties.

There’s a lot going on: video rooms, panel discussions, live bands, karaoke, swap meets and a 24-hour game room. There is a large dealers’ room where you can buy all kinds of anime-related paraphernalia. This year, the Artists’ Alley was enormous. This is where you can buy creative pieces by talented fan artists.

In the dealers' room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable?

In the dealers’ room with a Cthulhu plushie. Who knew an elder god could be so huggable? (Photo credit: Teacher Jennifer)

Clockwork Alchemy is all things steampunk. If you love Tesla and Jules Verne, this is where you want to be. The crowd is more mixed, with younger and middle-aged folks mingling equally. If you like the technical and/or historical side of the genre, there were plenty of informative panels as well as an art gallery and hands-on exhibit. There was an authors’ salon where writers could attend panels hosted by published genre authors. The convention also included a dealers’ room, a martial arts studio, dance lessons and three nights of live performances.

Steampunk fans love to cosplay, too. I got into the spirit and put on some steamy duds. Huge dioramas were placed around the con for posing purposes.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me.

Oh the humanity! I watch in thrilled horror as zeppelins battle above me. Photo credit: hostess with the mostest Susan.

This coming weekend, I will be attending Denver’s Comic Con. Can’t wait for that, though I’m glad I have a few days to rest up before I get my con on again.

Does this all look and sound like a lot of fun? Well, it is! And you can do it, too. Check out this website, Upcoming Cons, for current information on upcoming conventions.

Gender and Genre

Free Today on Amazon

While browsing the Science Fiction category in Kindle books I noticed two free-for-now novels by science fiction and fantasy writer, Andre Norton. For those who aren’t familiar with this author, here’s the Wikipedia blurb on Amazon:

Andre Alice Norton, née Alice Mary Norton (February 17, 1912 – March 17, 2005) was an American science fiction and fantasy author (with some works of historical fiction and contemporary fiction) under the noms de plume Andre Norton, Andrew North and Allen Weston. Norton published her first novel in 1934, and was the first woman to receive the Gandalf Grand Master Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1977, and won the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) association in 1983.

That’s right, Andre Norton was a woman. Back in the day, she and other female science fiction writers, such as James Tiptree, Jr., used male or gender neutral pseudonyms in order to be published in the genre.

This got me thinking about my previous post, The Big Bang Theory of Comic Books. A lot has been written about women and geekdom, and all things being equal. Or not. Recently, the Fake Geek Girl meme exploded all over the Internet, due in no small part to the article, Booth Babes Need Not Apply.

The tired, sad trope is this: attractive woman + sexy cosplay costume = fake geek.

There’s been plenty (plenty) of follow-up and debate, even making it to the Forbes website, with two converse articles written by a man (‘Fake Geek Girls’: How Geek Gatekeeping Is Bad For Business) and a woman (Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away.)

Which brings us back to Andre Norton. Not a fake geek girl at all, yet she had to hide her gender to be taken seriously. Back in the day, right? Yet, what about J.K. Rowling who also hid her gender behind a pseudonym in order to be published?

What is it about gender and genre? And while it’s easy to point an accusing finger at sexism in science fiction, how many male romance writers do you know of? They most certainly do exist and, according to this Publisher’s Weekly article, also tend to use pseudonyms.

My answer to all this is to try not to allow stereotypes to color my judgment. People should be able to cosplay a character they enjoy/admire without the fear of being grilled over every tiny detail of that character’s existence and being called fake. When it comes to literature, what really matters is content: well-written, good stories, such as those authored by Ms. Andre Norton.

Time Traders  Time Traders by Andre Norton
Intelligence agents have uncovered something which seems beyond belief, but the evidence is incontrovertible: the USA’s greatest adversary on the world stage is sending its agents back through time! And someone or something unknown to our history is presenting them with technologies—and weapons—far beyond our most advanced science. We have only one option: create time-transfer technology ourselves, find the opposition’s ancient source . . . and take it down. When small-time criminal Ross Murdock and Apache rancher Travis Fox stumble separately onto America’s secret time travel project, Operation Retrograde, they are faced with a challenge greater than either could have imagined possible. Their mere presence means that they know too much to go free. But Murdock and Fox have a thirst for adventure, and Operation Retrograde offers that in spades.

Star Soldiers  Star Soldiers by Andre Norton
Only as interstellar mercenaries can humans go to the stars; the aliens who already dominate the galaxy allow no other recourse. But when Swordsman Third Class Kana Karr and his comrades-in-arms are betrayed and abandoned on a hostile world by their alien masters, the warriors from Earth begin a desperate but glorious march across a planet whose every sword is against them. Their actions may doom humanity’s future . . . or lead the way to an empire of their own! Four thousand years later, galactic civilization is collapsing, and the underfunded crew of an exploration starship is forced to set down on an uncharted planet: a mysterious, abandoned world that is achingly beautiful-and hauntingly familiar. Ranger Sergeant Kartr, telepath and stellar Patrolman, searches with his crewmates for the source of a beacon which may mean escape for them all. What he finds is far stranger: the first clue to what may become the greatest revelation in galactic history!

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Doctor Who Cookbook

Free Today on Amazon

I was hoping this would come up free again and it has! Today’s awesome freebie is a Doctor Who-themed cookbook. I found the link on the awesome site, Dining Downloads, so mega thanks to them.

If you love the Doctor, grab this now. Last time it was free, I wrote a post, clicked on the link in preview, and it was full price again. Yep, the freebies can go that fast, so don’t wait!

Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook  Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland
Hello, sweetie. Your taste buds are about to take a wibbly wobbly, timey wimey adventure through the 2005 Doctor Who reboot. Megafan and food writer Chris-Rachael Oseland spent a year rewatching all of series one through six and experimenting in her kitchen to bring you a fresh recipe for every single episode. This book is a treat for any Whovian who wants to offer more than a plate of fish fingers and a bowl of custard at your next viewing party. Want to host an elegant dinner party to show off your new Tardis corset? Start the evening with a Two Streams Garden Cocktail followed by Baked Hath, Marble Cucumber Circuits with Vesuvian Fire Dipping Sauce, Professor Yana’s Gluten Neutrino Map Binder, Slitheen Eggs, and some of Kazran’s Night Sky Fog Cups for dessert.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

This freebie is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be free when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

The Big Bang Theory of Comic Books

Free Comic Books!

I am a big “Big Bang Theory” fan. I love the characters and how the show sometimes gets geek culture right. However, BBT can also get geek culture wrong. Case in point, last night’s episode, “The Bakersfield Expedition.”

What it got right: the men heading for Bakersfield Comic-Con, all too eager to cosplay their “Star Trek: The Next Generation” characters.

What it got wrong: the women staying behind to puzzle over why the men read comic books.

Back in the day, I was an avid comic book collector. While I particularly liked the X-Men universe, I also enjoyed the more subversive stuff, like “Watchmen” and “Love and Rockets.” On Friday nights, my friends and I, all women, would go to the local comic book store, pick up our weekly supply of titles, then go grab a pizza and head home to make an evening of it. Good times.

The stereotype didn’t hold then and it doesn’t hold now. Women of all ages read, write and draw comics, manga, graphic novels, whatever you want to call them.

Whatever your gender, whether you love comics or are interested in becoming acquainted  with them again, you can find an abundance of free resources online. I’m focusing on what’s available in the Kindle Store and iTunes. Note, many of these books can only be viewed on a computer or a tablet, but not on a conventional eReader like the Kindle Touch.

Both the Kindle Store and iTunes have a nice selection free comics and graphic novels. Some are complete books while others are previews, meaning only a portion of the story is available. For example, Vertigo’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is available as a preview. I have both the print and digital copies and think it’s really nicely done. The Amazon version has low ratings because, for some reason, some people thought they should be getting the actual full, written novel. For free. Even though the blurb clearly states this is a graphic novel preview. Don’t be that person.

Getting to the freebies on iTunes can be a little tricky. On your computer, go to iTunes. Go to the store. Go to the search box in the upper right corner and type in “free comics.” This should take you to a screen with different options. The top option should be “books.” Click “See All.” These comics can be downloaded to a computer or to an iPad through the iBooks app.

You can find the Amazon freebies through the Kindle Best Sellers in Comics & Graphic Novels. These can be downloaded to a computer or a tablet with the Kindle app.

I’ve listed a few of the free titles available from the Kindle store. As always, I cannot guarantee these are forever free, so grab them now. Then join me, Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard, and hopefully, Penny, Amy and Bernadette as we enjoy the wonderful world of graphic novels.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Special Edition Preview  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Special Edition Preview
Get an advance look at the Vertigo graphic novel adaptation of the international best-selling thriller, scheduled to hit shelves November 2012, and featuring the work of acclaimed author Denise Mina! Delve into the dark mystery of the Vanger family, as disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to uncover the truth behind a teenage girl’s disappearance over forty years ago.

Spy6teen #1  Spy6teen #1
The debut issue from Sandbox Comics, Spy6teen– which originally appeared on Zuda, bursts into an on-going series! CallyCalhoon wants to be a model student, but that’s not easy when herafter school job is with a secret government unit called THE QUAD! Hi-Spy espionage before the first bell rings!

Gen #1  Gen #1
Four previously unpublished stories straight from the Tokyo underground.

John Woo's Seven Brothers - Free Preview  John Woo’s Seven Brothers – Free Preview
A free first issue preview of the comic book series created by acclaimed filmmaker John Woo, (Mission Impossible 2; Face-Off; Red Cliff) and written by acclaimed comic book writer Garth Ennis (Punisher, The Boys, Preacher) with striking artwork from Jeevan J. Kang (Nowhere Man, Ramayan 3392AD, H20).

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Books that I have previously listed will occasionally come up free again. I add those to my current posts for people who didn’t see them the first time.