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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Westercon Memories

I attended my first Westercon in the early 70s. I flew for the first time, from Boston to Santa Barbara, California along with a group of friends who were all scifi fans. The con was held at a college dormitory very near the coast. For another first, I got to see and wade in the Pacific Ocean.

I distinctly remember the great food. The college cafeteria was fantastic. I had the best coffee there that I've ever had in my life. There was also a good restaurant that was the scene of my fondest memory.

I was eating roast chicken for dinner and had removed the crispy skin to eat last since it's my favorite part. The famous writer Isaac Asimov came by and snatched the chicken skin from my plate. He downed it, smacked his lips, and said, "That's my favorite part!"

With a sorrowful sniff, I replied, "Mine too!"

Now lest you think that Isaac was being totally rude to a complete stranger, let me explain; he and I were both members of NESFA ( the New England Science Fiction Association. ) Thus we were acquainted, and he had attended several meetings which were held in my apartment. Isaac was a complicated and unique individual as well as a world-famous author.

There were many other memorable moments at that Westercon. For the first and only time, I was brave enough to wear a costume to a scifi convention, even though I didn't compete in the contest. Nowadays, it's called cosplay.

I also remember briefly meeting Ray Bradbury in an elevator--another extremely famous scifi author! He was dressed in an immaculate white suit he referred to as his "Ice Cream Suit!" That was also the con where I met such Star Trek notables as David Gerrold, Greg Jein, and Bjo Trimble.

One evening as fans were gathered outdoors to talk and relax, a bagpiper in full Scottish regalia serenaded us. It was both moving and memorable.

The Society for Creative Anachronism ( SCA ) set up tents behind the dorm and held a Medieval tournament complete with swordplay. I later became a member of the SCA.

Another top memory was a panel chaired by the above mentioned Bjo Trimble, a famous Star Trek fan. During the panel, she asked all the females who had joined fandom because of ST to stand up. My friends and I, along with many others, stood up to applause. Until that point, fandom had been largely male-dominated since its inception.

That Westercon was an unforgettable experience and had a great deal of influence on my life. I was hooked on fandom and attended as many cons on both coasts as I could. If you've never attended a scifi convention or comic con, give one a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed, and you'll make some wonderful memories.

Keep reading and keep on writing,

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Batman Versus Pussy Willow

     While I was attending the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston--more years ago than I care to remember!--my Theatre Arts class was required to produce a skit and record it on audio tape. As the writer in my group, naturally I was assigned the task of writing the skit. Following my own nerdy tastes, I decided to spoof Adam West's extremely popular Batman TV show.

The professor, Mr. Floyd Covert, was skeptical; he told me such a thing couldn't be done: "You can't spoof a spoof!" But I was determined to give it a try.

Producing that skit was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my college career. Several of my classmates got to play the parts of Batman, Robin, Alfred, etc. Strangely enough, Mr. Covert agreed to play the part of Commissioner Gordon. I was stuck playing Bruce Wayne's ditsy Aunt Harriet--a minor part, thank goodness, as I was extremely shy.

Another female classmate got to play the enviable role of the evil villainess Pussy Willow ( a character I invented. ) She had the most evil cackle imaginable; it was right up there with the late June Foray's!

To this day I remember some of my lines: "Flapped? Flounder? In Gotham Lake? Really, Bruce!"

We all had a great time and a load of laughs rehearsing and recording our opus.  It amounted to maybe twenty minutes of air time, but when we played the final tape for our professor and classmates, they found it hilarious. We actually were funny!

As a result, our entire crew earned As! Mr. Covert even asked me to autograph his copy of our script and apologized for thinking I couldn't pull off a spoof of a spoof.

In the end, I have to thank the late Adam West, Burt Ward, and the entire cast and crew of TV's Batman. They gave me great material to work with. So R.I.P., Batman--and thanks again for the A in Theatre Arts.

Keep reading and keep writing, folks,


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Granite State Comic Con 2017

Every once in a while we decide to try doing something new and different. Sometimes we're happy with the results and sometimes not. We recently attended our first Granite State Comicon as vendors, and, boy, are we glad we did!

I'm the author of several scifi/space-adventure books, so I sell and sign my books, while my hubby is an avid collector of comics, DVDs, scifi toys, and other collectibles. This comic con turned out to be one of the best events we've ever attended. It was fun and exciting, as well as being financially successful.

The beautiful venue was the Radisson Hotel and Expo Center in downtown Manchester, NH--a great place to hold a con. Fans came in droves, many in costume. The con staff was friendly and helpful, especially the volunteers ( who were designated "Red Shirts!" ) Not a dud in the bunch!

Besides selling our stuff, we enjoyed meeting and chatting with other fans and taking pictures of some of the most outstanding costumes. Notable among them were an incredible Beauty and the Beast, an in-character Harley Quinn ( who was a hoot! ), a giant robot, and a very realistic Storm Trooper.

One cosplay group even enacted King Arthur's "gallop" from Monty Python's Holy Grail. They were hilarious! This con was very kid-friendly; many little ones came in costume, and several activities were geared especially for kids. We were really glad to see generations of new fans coming up.

All in all, we had a wonderful time; this was one of the best-attended and best-run events we've gone to in quite some time. We can't thank the con committee and staff for doing such a great job. And we can't wait for Granite State Comicon 2018, Sept. 14 & 15!

Keep writing and keep reading,


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Don't Judge A Book By Its Genre

I just can't help shuddering whenever someone tells me, "I don't read science fiction!" I'm sorely tempted to respond, "So what type of science fiction have you tried?"

I realize that all brands of SF are not everyone's cup of tea. I've read widely and have my own likes and dislikes; however, I have come to know that all novels in the genre are not alike. ( I'm not talking here about other media, such as TV, movies, comic books, etc. ) You can't judge all SF novels by the one or two you may've already read.

For instance, if you're a fan of fantasy, you might enjoy reading Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books. When I read the first book, Dragonflight, I assumed it was fantasy--after all, dragons! McCaffrey later confirmed that the series was SF as her people originally came from another world where there were no dragons.

A lot of SF is "hard" science fiction; in other words, it's based on hardware and scientific principles and theories, real or imagined. In that category are many books by Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven's Ringworld, and Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity.

To tell you the truth, I prefer what's known as "soft" SF: novels which concentrate more on character development and relationships rather than hardware. I'm particularly fond of Zenna Henderson's People books, which are about a race of human-like characters who come to Earth as survivors of a world that's been destroyed. These books are emotional, spiritual, and often heart-wrenching. I love them!

"Space opera" is another related genre, among others. Unlike SF, it tends to be action-oriented with little to no character development. (Think shoot-'em-up in space! ) My novel Galaxy Rand is unabashed space opera.

The brand of science fiction that I usually write ( such as my Tartarus Trilogy ) definitely falls into the category of soft SF, although I try hard to keep my tech and space-facts as accurate as possible. If you've read any of it, you know I concentrate on the plot, as well as on character development and emotions. I do toss in some action/adventure, a bit of romance ( not X-rated! ), an epic love story, mystery, and political intrigue.

So if you are one of those who has always thought science fiction isn't for you, you might think again. I'm sure there are books out there you'd not only enjoy, but come to love. Take my advice: don't judge a book solely by its genre. Read widely and don't be a book-snob!

Whatever you do, keep reading and keep on writing,

Monday, June 26, 2017

Some Tips for Indie Authors

As an independent author, I'm well aware of how difficult it is to sell and promote your books. Here are a few of the ideas I've come across or utilized during the past six plus years:

1.   Get some business cards; make sure they look attractive and professional. Offer one to everyone you meet.

2.   Visit libraries and book stores; tuck one of your business cards into books with genres similar to yours. ( ie: Romance, Sci-fi, etc. )

3.   Donate copies of your books to local libraries, and volunteer to speak about your book and your writing.

4.   Keep an eye out for author events such as book signings, panels, speaking engagements, etc. and sign up.

5.   Donate books to charity events such as raffles and auctions.

6.    Attend events related to your genre, including conventions, conferences, writing groups, comic cons, etc. Be prepared to do readings, be on panels, or to speak about your books.

7.   Investigate the possibility of speaking at book clubs, local colleges and schools.

8.   Post flyers about any events that you are going to attend or hold. Post online as well.

9.   When someone asks you what you do, be prepared to give a concise explanation of your work. Hint: Do not be long-winded--that's the kiss of death!

10.  Trade books with other authors, preferably of similar genres, with the promise to review each others work. Caution: many people will renege on their promise!

11.  Do not be tempted to buy reviews! Readers can spot a phony miles away. It makes you look bad!

Of course, not all of your efforts will succeed, but these tips are well worth a try. See what works for you. Keep trying; keep thinking; most of all, keep writing!


Friday, January 27, 2017

A Never-Ending Story?

For fifty years now, I've lived with the main characters of my Tartarus Trilogy. Over that time I've come to know them pretty well, perhaps better than I know some of my own family members! And I must admit that I've grown very attached to Rona Scott, Malkis of Tartarus, Richard Hughes, and Kalom of Eris.

My first published book, Judgment on Tartarus, was a scifi adventure about a young woman who always dreamed of a career in space. The story grew out of my love for science fiction and space exploration. ( I always hoped we'd have a base on Mars by now--or at least on Luna! ) My interest in Greek myths definitely influenced the story, and it was also my way of protesting bigotry against "others": anyone who is different in appearance, culture, beliefs, etc.

As the young woman who is the main protagonist in Book One became drawn into galactic events beyond her control, my characters refused to allow the story to end there. The novel was intended to be a stand-alone tale, but a sequel, True Son of Tartarus, was born. Before Book Two was ever published, I realized that my characters had even more of a tale to tell, and thus Ransom of Tartarus came to be.

After a long, frustrating road, the entire trilogy was published, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I pursued another novel entirely. Then one of my readers planted a seed in my imagination. She wondered how my characters first met, what was their backstory. So I was soon off and writing a prequel to the Trilogy: Malkis of Tartarus. Now as that novel ( which will be my first YA ) nears completion, I shudder to recall a woman once asking me at one of my signings: "Is this one of those never-ending sagas?"

Well, I certainly hope not! But who knows what lies in wait.

Thanks for reading, and keep on writing!