Emerald City Comicon Wrap-Up

It’s time for your Emerald City Comicon Wrap-Up!

For the first time in years, I was not a panelist at Emerald City Comicon–this time by choice as I wanted to cut back on my convention schedule after last year’s event calendar. In fact, I wasn’t even going to fight the crowds and attend ECCC until they announced David Tennant as a guest.

David Tennant was my first Doctor and is my favorite Doctor, not to mention how much I enjoyed him in Broadchurch, the DuckTales reboot, Jessica Jones, and Harry Potter. Considering my love of his acting, I was bound for ECCC! Then they announced that Billie Piper would be there as well, and I was absolutely sold! I didn’t go the full weekend as I had other plans, but what I did attend was quite enjoyable.

One of the panels I really enjoyed was The Darker Side of Fantasy, which covered grimdark, dark fantasy, and everything in between. The panelists were Ed McDonaldR.A. SalvatoreTodd LockwoodCherie PriestDelilah DawsonJosh Malerman, and Jesse Bullington. The picture below isn’t the best picture–I was further back–but there they all are!
Dark Fantasy Panel

I greatly enjoyed listening to them discuss the light hidden within most dark fantasy and the purpose of writing about such topics. After this panel, I ran into my friend Olivia, who was cosplaying Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth.

Jareth Finds a TARDIS

I also went to a panel on storytelling with Patrick Rothfuss, Molly Lewis, Anne Wheaton, and Jonathan Coulton, which was phenomenal. I really enjoying listening to them talk about the ways they write when they don’t want to write, or the ways that they are creative at the most mundane and boring times. That’s something I can completely identify with!Storytelling Panel Storytelling Panel

The highlight of my weekend was getting a photo with David Tennant and Billie Piper with my friend Elise. Afterwards, I got David to autograph it while we chatted a bit about DuckTales. The original series was something I watched religiously as a child. My husband and I will often sing the theme song in the car because why not? To see it rebooted and David voicing Scrooge McDuck is pretty amazing.

 

Me with David Tennant and others

I tend to do my roam of Artist Alley, the Writers’ Block, and the Dealer’s Room in the AM because it’s less crowded and the cosplayers are a bit fresher in their costumes because they haven’t been sweating in them all day. Here are a few pics of some cosplay that I found awesome.

I saw these kids cosplaying from the movie IT several times before managing a picture. The one playing IT is creepy. He managed that stare very, very well.

IT cosplay

This Weeping Angel (Doctor Who) was too awesome not to get a photo.Weeping Angel Cosplay

This group of cosplayers from The Walking Dead had folks snapping pictures of them every time I saw them!

Walking Dead cosplay

This chimera (Nina Tucker) from Fullmetal Alchemist was so good! There were two cosplayers with them dressed up as alchemists, but I didn’t get a shot of them. Just seeing this cosplay made me tear up though. I remember that episode very well. 🙁 Chimera

This cosplay was genius! Definitely one of the funniest Star Wars cosplays I’ve seen.Porg for sale

This Totoro was one of my favorite cosplays of the convention. <3Totoro cosplayThanos, carrying the head of Tony Stark (Ironman)Thanos cosplayThis Captain America variation as Captain Canada made me laugh way too much.Captain Canada These two from Lord of the Rings were amazing. Their cosplay had such amazing detail to it!Lord of the Rings Cosplay

This photo was taken by someone unknown–possibly Jesikah’s son–but my friend Jesikah had her photo taken with someone cosplaying the older Luke Skywalker from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He pulls off Luke so well that I had to share this photo on my page. Amazing photo, Jesikah!Jesikah and LukeMy friend, Olivia, who cosplayed Jareth earlier up, also cosplayed Jayne from Firefly on Saturday. She borrowed my cosplay prop gun Vera and sidearm, pictured below. (I don’t know who took this photo. Olivia shared it, and I’m sharing it here.)
Firefly cosplay

Here’s a selfie from Olivia with a closer look at Vera. I love 1.0 Vera. I worked hard on her, but I’m excited to 3D print the parts to create 2.0. 😀Firefly Jayne cosplay

Overall, I had a good convention, though ECCC is getting huge. 5th largest convention in the country. I’m guessing behind San Diego Comicon, NY Comicon, and PAX (probably West and East coast). There were times that I needed a break of fresh air to escape the mass of bodies literally everywhere.

Did you attend ECCC? If so, I hope it was also an excellent weekend! See you next time!

WorldCon!

IT’S OFFICIAL!

WorldCon 76I’ll be in San Jose, California in August for WorldCon 76 with Books & Chains!

No idea if I’ll be a panelist yet, but for the moment, I’ll be in the dealer’s room / artist alley area and if all goes well, I’ll have copies of Amaskan’s War with me!

It’s time to do a little dance!

See you in space, cowboy! Or at least in San Jose!

Adventures in 3D Printing

I like to mention as often as possible that my husband wins.

At what?

All the things.

MP Mini DeltaNo, really. For our anniversary, he got me a 3D printer. This one to be exact. It’s an MP Mini Delta, which is a great intro-line model printer that still prints with decent quality and size for its price.

I’ve been wanting a 3D printer for ages, mostly so that I could print all sorts of awesome things for our tabletop games, but more recently so that I could print things related to my books. I mean, how cool would it be to have a 3D model of Eerl or Adelei?

I could have my own action figure of my characters! O_O

There is a bit of a learning curve with this new hobby, but luckily I’m married to someone who knows a thing or two about the topic and is willing to help me learn. There’s also a flood of Maker groups, sites, etc. to help as we go through the process.

Since we were snowed/iced into our house part of last week (though it melted by Saturday afternoon), we decided to use the time printing a bunch of test prints, as seen below. (You can click the images to see them larger.) Our printer will print things a bit larger than a tall coffee mug, but we wanted to stick with smaller objects to test things out since the smaller objects print faster. These images are also of the objects unsanded and unpainted. That’s something I plan to do this coming weekend. 😉

This is Neko, who is a finger puppet because we printed him hollow. He’s about 3″ tall.Neko

This is Neko next to a small TARDIS from Doctor Who.

TARDIS and Neko

Next we decided to try out a proper miniature. The goblin lacks a little in detail as our printer isn’t made for that level of small detail, but he didn’t come out half bad!

Here he is next to the other objects for comparison.group of printed objects

These are really adorable Dalek-Buddhas. Dalek Buddha

This is a barrel and two wagon wheels–objects that will be props for our Pathfinder campaign at some point.

Here’s a nice group shot of some objects.

Dalek Buddhas take the TARDIS

One of the things we’re also going to do is to set up a web cam so that you can watch the 3D printing as it happens (if that’s something that interests you). There’s something mesmerizing about the process! And on that note, back to writing…and maybe some 3D printing!

What should I print next? Let me know over on Facebook or Twitter!

“You’re All Dead”

“You’re all dead.”

In my twelve years of teaching, I was in more lockdown drills than fire drills and more lockdowns than school fires, yet nothing prepares you for the sight of a man with a gun walking into your classroom and uttering those words. Your heart tries to run while your brain falters in panic mode. 

This was “only a drill,” but I didn’t know that.

See, our school was participating in a new kind of “active shooter lockdown drill,” where our school resource officer, a police man carrying actual weapons, would be the “active shooter.” He would see how many rooms he could gain entry to and “kill” before the school gained awareness and called for a lockdown. Since my classroom was next to the school’s back entrance and he had the keys, he started with me. 

Computer classroomMy classroom. My 6th grade students who saw a man in black assault gear carrying an assault rifle and pointing it at them. They didn’t know if it was fake. (To this day, I don’t know if it was real or not. No one ever told me.) All they saw was a man walk in, point a weapon, and tell them they were all dead. With all of the gun violence in our country, I understand a school’s desire to practice lockdown procedure. After all, I’ve been in non-drill lockdowns often enough to see the value of practice with children. But what happened that day was terrifying and traumatizing. 

There was no warning to me that this was a drill. Only the fact that he left without shooting us clued me into that fact.

After calling the front office to report it, my classroom didn’t follow lockdown procedure. We couldn’t. I had 28 kids—eleven-year-olds, mind you—who were crying. Kids who didn’t understand what was happening and truly thought they were going to die. One child wet himself.  There was no way they would hide now. They wanted their parents. They wanted to go home. They wanted someone to hug them and tell them they weren’t going to die.

Again, this was only a drill.

computer labWhen you’re a teacher, you’re prepared to put your body on the line for your students. They don’t give us body armor or combat pay, despite the number of teachers who have died protecting their students from a shower of bullets. They don’t give us guns either, not that it would have helped. Our police officer was inside my room with his weapon already drawn before I had done more than blink. 

There was no time to draw a nonexistent weapon. No time to dive out of the way or even in front of my students to protect them. No time to be a hero, trained or not. As is the case with most school shootings, he had a plan, a weapon, and the upper-hand. I grew up with guns, but even if I had had one on me, there was no time. 

To make matters worse, my sixth graders already had a healthy distrust of police officers. Being mostly Hispanic, ICE raids were the norm for families in Texas. Their teachers tried to teach them that their school resource officer was a man who could be trusted, but when he walked into my classroom and told them that they were dead, they believed him. 

I waited for the outrage from parents. How dare he scare children in that manner! Life was frightening enough with school shootings being the norm without a drill of this manner, but the emails and phone calls never came. Whether it was from their distrust of the police or from the knowledge that this was the new normal, I’ll never know. 

When my lunch break arrived, I spent it in tears. This was the new normal. 

Whereas I had taken shelter under my desk as a child to hide from the bombs we thought Russia would drop on us, my students practiced hiding from an increasing likelihood that they might be shot by their fellow students. My students practiced how to die. 

This wasn’t a singular incident either. My first year teaching I found myself in an actual lockdown without knowing it. The school used code words to announce it, only no one had told the new teachers or the substitute teachers what those words meant, so when the lockdown was called, I kept teaching, oblivious to the real danger we were in. 

my classroomAn armed criminal was on the run from the police and had cut through the field near our school. When my 7th graders heard a ruckus outside, I stuck my head out of my classroom window to see what was going on. A man was running towards us, police in pursuit, and for a moment, I froze. Could he climb up to the window? Was locking the window enough to keep him out? Why weren’t we in lockdown? Oh, wait. Was that what the cryptic message had been about?

A million questions in the blink of an eye before I flew into action. Windows closed and locked. Blinds down. Door closed and locked. Students silenced and hidden from view. Panic as we waited, all eyes on the windows. 

In his rush to escape the police, had he seen my head poking out? Would he try to get into the building? Would we become a hostage situation, the breaking news of the day? Would my students become another statistic in a war they didn’t understand?

The man veered away from the school and was captured, but it didn’t keep the terror from our faculty and students. It lived inside of us as school resumed normal schedule and as students texted parents to let them know they were alive and okay. 

My last year of teaching, it was reported that a student brought a weapon to school. When the announcement came for us to go into lockdown, my 8th graders and I flew into action like rescue responders after a tornado. We knew what to do and how to lay silently out of sight, we knew what objects in my classroom could be used as weapons if an intruder made it inside, and we knew how to cry. 

“Is it a drill?” one of them whispered, and when I shook my head, they huddled together, holding one another. Some prayed. Some silently pleaded with me to do something, anything. Some texted on their phones when they thought I wasn’t looking—messages to parents out of fear and worry. 

When it’s not a drill, the questions are fast and furious. What will I do if someone breaks down the door? What can I do if shots are fired? Should I text my husband in case I die today? If I have to die, how can I keep my students safe? How do I put on a brave face in the meantime and help my students remain calm in a situation where calm is the furthest thing from my mind?

It was a false alarm—what was thought to be a knife, ended up being a comb—but it didn’t stop those fifteen minutes from feeling like hours. It didn’t stop us from being terrorized in one of the places we should be safest. When I got home later that evening, my mother told me she was glad I was retiring from teaching.

“You could have died today,” she said.

What I didn’t say in response was that I could have died every day. Every lockdown was a reminder of our mortality, especially in a society that places gun rights before the lives of others. Every day that our country’s priorities are skewed is another day that a teacher, a student, or a coach could die. 

There is no drill that prepares you for this reality. 

There is no weapon that can protect you from the knowledge that your country values its guns more than its children.  

And with another school shooting, there is nothing I can do to get those three words out of my head. 

“You’re all dead.”

Ursula

It was 1989, and I was twelve.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula at a bookstore Q&A, New Mexico, 2004.

I can still smell the dust that coated that corner of the classroom–the corner that served as the reading nook, a corner few (other than me) ventured into voluntarily. Yet that corner was a home to me as we read A Bridge to Terabithia and other books my 6th grade year. It was also the year I picked up A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin by complete accident and fell madly and deeply in love with this fantasy world, and then so many others as I discovered the world of fantasy. It was the first (though not the last!) book that kept me up late into the early morning reading. That series enraptured me in the way that it did so many children, but it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered Ursula the Feminist, Ursula the Poet, and Ursula the Teacher.

She gave back to the writing community until the very end, teaching at numerous writing workshops and conventions, and gave countless advice to those starting out on the career of writing fiction.

She understood what it was to, not just be a writer but a reader as well. She understood the way a creation has more than one creator and how our words impact more than just those directly around us.

As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence, of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book of course participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.”

She was a master of words and a wanderer through genres as she crafted work after work and spoke to the younger writers aspiring to be her. John Scalzi said it best in his tribute to her in the Los Angeles Times:

The speaking of her name and of her words goes on, and will go on, today and tomorrow and for a very long time now. As it should. She was the mother of so many of us, and you should take time to mourn your mother.”

I attended the SFWA reading last night to hear several friends read and while a room full of writers mourned the loss of such a giant in the genre, I was reminded of the caring nature and warmth of my SFF family. It’s this warmth that lights even the darkest of days. It’s how we persevere when the world around us eats itself.

There are many authors who have had a hand in the creation of me as an early author, but Ursula Le Guin’s hand was a guiding force throughout my career thus far, and I’m sure she will be for many years to come.

She will greatly be missed.

Long ago when I was Ursula
writing, but not “the writer,”
and not very plural yet,
and worked with the owls not the sparrows,
being young, scribbling at midnight:

I came to a place
I couldn’t see well in the darkness,
where the road turned
and divided, it seemed like,
going different ways,
I was lost.

I didn’t know which way.
It looked like one roadsign said To Town
and the other didn’t say anything.

So I took the way that didn’t say.
I followed
myself.
“I don’t care,” I said,
terrified.
“I don’t care if nobody ever reads it!
I’m going this way.”

And I found myself
in the dark forest, in silence.

You maybe have to find yourself,
yourselves,
in the dark forest.
Anyhow, I did then. And still now,
always. At the bad time.

When you find the hidden catch
in the secret drawer
behind the false panel
inside the concealed compartment
in the desk in the attic
of the house in the dark forest,
and press the spring firmly,
a door flies open to reveal
a bundle of old letters,
and in one of them
is a map
of the forest
that you drew yourself
before you ever went there.

The Writer At Her Work:
I see her walking
on a path through a pathless forest,
or a maze, a labyrinth.
As she walks she spins,
and the fine thread falls behind her
following her way,
telling
where she is going,
where she has gone.
Teling the story.
The line, the thread of voice,
the sentences saying the way.

The Writer On Her Work:
I see her, too, I see her
lying on it.
Lying, in the morning early,
rather uncomfortable.
Trying to convince herself
that it’s a bed of roses,
a bed of laurels,
or an innerspring mattress,
or anyhow a futon.
But she keeps twitching.

There’s a *lump*, she says.
There’s something
Like a *rock*—like a *lentil*—
I can’t sleep.

There’s something
the size of a split pea
that I haven’t written.
that I haven’t written right.
I can’t sleep.

She gets up
and writes it.
Her work
is never done.

—Ursula K. Le Guin, from “The Writer on, and at, Her Work”

Anglicon Wrap-Up

This is your Anglicon Wrap-Up!

Anglicon is one of my favorite conventions, and not just because it’s everything Doctor Who and British media. It’s a convention full of great people who really love their fandom. It’s also a convention that I greatly enjoy being a panelist on and running the QI game show.

Friday dawned with an eerie fog that later cleared enough for my husband to take this awesome shot of Mt. Rainier (aka The Mountain™) from his office window. (P.S. You can click the images to see them larger.)

Pretty FridayWhen we arrived at the Doubletree Hotel, a wonderful sight greeted the three of us–the TARDIS and a fully decorated Christmas tree. I felt like I was walking through a Doctor Who Christmas special. Christmas TARDISBelow is our booth, with Jennifer Brozek and I behind it. (Elise is taking the photo.) Yes, those are TARDIS lights across the front of it. Oddly enough, this layout worked very well for us.boothBoth Jennifer and I were selling mystery boxes, though mine were very geeky and included Whovian items. 😉 mystery box

This gentleman created Fe-9, instead of K-9! It was adorable!
Fe-nineA closer look at Fe-9!Fe-nineAn Ood stopped by our booth, and we had to get a photo!Ood

This Ood was wandering around later with another Ood. Caught a quick, albeit blurry shot on the way to a panel.Oods

We sold a LOT of books and chainmaille jewelry on Friday–a lot more than we expected for a partial day.

On Saturday, Dalek Clara came by our booth as well, complete with her reindeer ears. Dalek

Dalek Dale, with handler Shaylee, also came by!DalekThe War Doctor also came to visit, and Elise and I had to pose with him for a photo. War DoctorRonnie, from Sci-Fi Monkeys, stopped by wearing an adorable shirt that has a Totoro ChewbaccaRaven and RonnieBarbara, the Ribbon Queen riding a Weeping Angel, also stopped by. If you ever want to know the what’s what about ribbons at cons, ask her.Weeping Angel

The gentleman who came last year with K-9 also attended this year’s Anglicon. I love his K-9.K-9Ronnie posted on Facebook that Books & Chains were a few of his favorite things.AwwThe corgi from the Dirk Gently TV show was one of the guests at Anglicon, and at one point Saturday, he went for a walk through the dealer’s room. Below, he’s saying hi to the PBS station’s booth. CorgiThen he got really excited and ran over to us.CorgiThere was also a cosplaying kitty who dressed up as The Doctor quite a few times.Cat CosplayThis picture below is technically from Sunday, but it’s the cosplaying kitty posing with her owner and Elise.Cat CosplayShe even has a special button.Cat hairSanta also stopped by. We told him he should go pose for pictures at the TARDIS, and he did!

Santa

The majority of folks were hard-core holiday shopping, which was great for the dealer’s room. My first two days of panels went really well.

On Sunday, Barbara and her husband, Jim, were dubbed the official King and Queen of Ribbons. O_O So many ribbons.

Ribbon MastersOld school Doctor Who villains.cosplay This guy was actually a double for David Tennant!David and EliseElise also went and posed for a photo with the corgis. Elise CorgiAnd we had to get a photo of Elise with the TARDIS, especially with her shirt.EliseAfter a long Sunday of panels (I was hardly in the dealer’s room!), it was time to pack up and head out. The dealer’s room looks so empty after folks leave…The EndOverall, we did better at Anglicon than we did at Rose City Comicon, which is saying something! And despite a few bumps, it is still my favorite convention. <3 Between all the panels I was moderating and the dealer’s room, I didn’t get out to see the two Doctors or any of the guests myself, but I know from all the photos elsewhere that attendees really enjoyed the convention. If you haven’t been to Anglicon, you should check it out in 2018!


Anglicon photos taken by Elise Kreinbring, Raven Oak, or Jennifer Brozek. Photo of Mt. Rainier taken by Erik Carson.

Geek the Halls

I’ll be at Geek the Halls this weekend with Books & Chains, BOOTH 14! Come finish your holiday shopping with geeky chainmaille jewelry and autographed books!

Geek the Halls

DETAILS–

WHO: Lots of geeky artisans and crafters, including Books & Chains at BOOTH 14. Confirmed list HERE.

WHEN: Saturday & Sunday, December 16-17, 2017 from 10 AM – 5 PM both days.

WHERE: DoubleTree Hotel Portland  Exhibit Hall 1000 NE Multnomah St, Portland, Oregon 97232

 

 

Anglicon Schedule!

Below is my Anglicon Schedule for Anglicon 2017, December 8-10th! (You can get more details on this Doctor Who and British Media convention at http://www.anglicon.com)

Anglicon 2017

I’ll also be vending there in the dealer’s room with Books & Chains so come say hello!

FRIDAY

2-3 PM—–Black Mirror: Too Much or Just Enough? in Cascade 2

SATURDAY

2-3 PM—–David Tennant: Serious, Creepy, & Everything In-Between in Cascade 9

SUNDAY

10-11 AM—–13: Should the Doctor Be a Woman? in Cascade 2

12-1 PM—–Graduation Day for the Women in Doctor Who in Cascade 2

1-2 PM—–QI: Quite Interesting (Game Show) in Cascade 2

3-4 PM—–How Do You Solve a Problem Like Clara? in Cascade 2

 

Autographed Copies?

While you’re holiday shopping, if you find yourself needing and/or wanting autographed copies of any of my books, there are two bookstores in the Seattle area that have them and both of them SHIP!

UW BookstoreUW Bookstore Mill Creek*
Mill Creek Town Center – 15311 Main Street – Mill Creek, WA 98012
(425) 385-3530

http://www.ubookstore.com/mill-creek

 

Ada's Technical BooksAda’s Technical Books & Cafe
425 15th Avenue East – Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 322-1058

http://www.seattletechnicalbooks.com/

* UW Bookstore just got a new system and I’m showing up as out of stock. Please call them. They are not out of stock!

You can also purchase autographed & personalized copies via Books & Chains!

Reading/Signing on Saturday!

This Saturday (11/25/17)–Small Business Saturday–I’ll be at UW Bookstore in Mill Creek, WA for an author reading/signing event from 1 PM – 5 PM with Jennifer BrozekJesikah Sundin, and Robert Slater.

More details can be found HERE and HERE.

Young Adult SFF Event

Hope to see you there! We’ll have prizes!

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