GeekGirlCon Wrap-Up!

This past weekend was GeekGirlCon, one of my favorite conventions in the area. Besides supporting diversity and equality, it’s a great convention with attendees from all walks of life–all ages, all genders, all ethnicities, all sexualities.

I began this year’s con with a serious ankle sprain, so my left foot was in a huge boot. It’s never fun trying to set up a booth, hobble around to your panels, and tear down with an injury. I’m incredibly lucky to have two amazing friends to have a booth with. <3

boothHere’s some closer shots of our awesome booth. boothI’m loving seeing my art at the booth.

BoothThis cosplayer of Princess Mononoke was amazing.MononokeMy first panel was on writing strong female characters, which was well attended. We discussed the problems with using language like “strong” and “female,” which can be subjective.

I was supposed to be in the mentoring program and chat with folks interesting in entering STEM industries, but it conflicted with my panel schedule. It was a lot of fun last year, so I’m hoping I get to participate in 2019.

This Ash from Evil Dead was awesome. He even had Bruce’s voice down.

AshThis woman was cosplaying Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. <3Cosplay Ruth Bader GinsburgHere’s a shot of our booth from behind the table. B&C boothThere were so many Star Wars‘ droids at the convention, including this one that stopped by our booth.This cosplayer from Adventure Time  forgot her guitar but loved chatting about chainmaille.Adventure TimeOn Saturday, I cosplayed as Totoro from the Miyazaki film Totoro. There were so many other folks cosplaying his films, including another Mononoke from Princess Mononoke and Kiki, from Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Kiki and MononokeMy second panel  was on Stranger Things and the lessons we can learn from its young characters. For a panel that late in the evening, it went fairly well.  Sunday was an early morning (though let’s be honest–so was Saturday).

There were also plenty of Disney cosplayers at the convention, including these fairy godmothers.GodmothersOf course, there’s also a Zoidberg. Always a Zoidberg.ZoidbergSunday was so busy a day that I didn’t get a lot of pictures of all the cosplay. There was plenty of it to see too. Before I knew it, it was time to pack up. I grabbed this shot on the way home. I love the way the Washington State Convention Center is lit up at night.
leaving

My foot’s hurting quite a bit post-convention, but it’s slowly improving. Hopefully next year I won’t be injured!

Now it’s time to finish some editing and write Amaskan’s Honor. No more conventions until next spring!

Steamposium 2018!

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Steamposium has been cancelled. 🙁

Therefore my art piece will not be in the art show. But you can still come see it and purchase it or prints at GeekGirlCon this weekend!


For those of you heading to Steamposium 2018 this weekend in Seattle, I won’t be there (I’ll be at GeekGirlCon a few miles away)

However, one of my art pieces entitled “To Make a Dragon” will be in Steamposium’s Art Show! Go check it out and if you’re so inclined, you can buy it. 🙂 This piece is inspired by a short story I wrote that will be out in an upcoming short story collection (more on that later).

To Make a Dragon

GeekGirlCon!

This weekend is GeekGirlCon in Seattle!

I’ve got two panels, and I’m vending at Booth 703 with Books & Chains!

SATURDAY SCHEDULE (10/27):

10 AM – 2:30 PM — Booth 703 w/ Books & Chains

2:30-3:30 PM — FROM BUFFY TO OKOYE: How to Write a Heroine with a Heart Who Stands on Her Own Two Feet, Room Shuri. Panelists: Patricia Eddy, Jennifer Brozek, Raven Oak, G. G. Silverman, Jen McDonnell, & Camela Thompson.

3:30 – 6 PM — Booth 703 w/ Books & Chains

7-8 PM — STRANGER THINGS: FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES, Room Shuri. Panelists: Raven Oak, Jesikah Sundin, H. M. Jones, Mary Adner, & Jennifer Brozek.

SUNDAY SCHEDULE (10/28):

10 AM – 5 PM — Booth 703 w/ Books & Chains

Books & Chains will have a ton of geeky, handmade chainmaille jewelry (some of which is inspired by my books and some of it inspired by various fandoms–Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel comics, etc.). We’ll also have books by myself and guest author Jennifer Brozek. In addition to all that, we’ll have our book/character themed candles and brand new, we’ll have art prints of my art (which is also inspired by my stories)!

To Make a Dragon

So come swing by Booth 703 and check out what we have!

GeekGirlCon Map

The Beginning of the End?

It looks like GeekGirlCon will be my last event this year after an announcement this morning cancelling Anglicon 2018. I don’t know if this is the beginning of the end for the con, but the announcement gave me a serious case of the blues as Anglicon was the first convention I served as a panelist and vendor post-getting published. A year later, it was the first convention where Elise and I worked together as Books & Chains.

I came to Doctor Who late in life but once I was hooked, I was hooked. I mean, I cosplay the TARDIS all the freaking time. I accepted my Ozma Fantasy Award as a TARDIS. Some of my favorite quotes are from the show.

From Season 2, episode 2:

You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!

From Season 3, episode 6:

Some people live more in 20 years than others do in 80. It’s not the time that matters, it’s the person.

From Season 6, the Christmas Special:

In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.

From Season 1, episode 13, which seems rather fitting these days:

You don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand! You say no! You have the guts to do what’s right, even when everyone else just runs away.

And my absolute favorite, from Season 5, episode 13:

We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?

Doctor Who is a show that brings together people of all ages and all walks of life, of all cultures and diversities. It’s rich storytelling and universal themes and humor at its best, so it makes sense that a convention dedicated to a show like this would be as diverse and universal.

My first year at Anglicon, I was a panelist on  7 panels, including the ever-popular QI game show, and I vended in the dealer’s room with author and friend Janine Southard. The next year, I was on more panels, ran QI with a Dalek contestant, and vended again (this time with Elise). I’ve talked up the convention to so many people, helped hand out flyers for it at multiple conventions, pitched dozens and dozens of panels, and otherwise put a lot of time into helping it be successful. Obviously not as much time as the con-com (convention committee), but it’s not a small amount either.

Last year, there were some bumps.

The Kickstarter wasn’t clear, and some people felt they didn’t get all the rewards they were promised. There were budget concerns and stress related to selling enough tickets to pay the bills (which is a concern for most non-profit, volunteer-based conventions). But for me, the hardest parts came from two incidents that hinted at bigger issues.

In the Dealer’s Hall, a vendor spent the weekend yelling abusively at his dogs before kicking one. The incident was witnessed by many vendors and attendees in the room, and it was reported by several people, including me. The vendor was warned but allowed to continue business. Animal abuse is not something I’m okay with–ever.

But the hardest incident came with programming. I had pitched a panel on the new Doctor being a woman and called it Graduation Day, referring to the idea that women were graduating from being companions to the Doctor to being the actual Doctor. I saw this as a positive. Someone else pitched a similar idea, but the title and description read as a negative, as something unnecessary. Programming accepted both panels and decided to make me the moderator of BOTH. I love a good debate, so the idea of moderating the other panel didn’t bother me. Unfortunately, my co-panelists (two of which were con-com or involved in the convention) made me sit in the corner of the room, almost behind the projector screen, rather than allowing me a seat at the panelist table. They also ignored everything I tried to say by talking over me (loudly), made oral sex jokes in a room with children, and decided to spend a good chunk of time discussing fan films rather than the actual topic. It’s never a good sign when one minute into the panel, one of your co-panelists says, “Do we really need to debate this? No! Let’s talk about something else, like this fan film…”

Attendees came to hear the topic, not watch an off-topic fan film. I tried to steer the conversation back to the one at hand, but two men intimidated me. They talked over me and made it clear, I had no place on their panel.

I’m not someone who is easily walked over at all–it’s one of the reasons I have a good reputation as a moderator–but the men were so abrasive and rude that my anxiety triggered. I don’t do well with shouting, which they had to do to talk over me. The idea of being delegated to the corner and not being allowed to be part of the discussion was horrific and beyond rude. Without getting into more details, it was the kind of harassment that speaks to the inequality in our country. I reported it in detail to the programming person, who reported it to con-com, where it disappeared in silence. No apologies. No comment. Nothing.

Imagine if the incident had been something worse…like sexual assault. Would it be just as easily dismissed because it involved two members of the convention committee? I’m not sure of the answer to that question, which makes me sad.

I debated over whether or not to talk about this publicly, but with the cancellation of Anglicon, I feel it necessary. A lot of drama has popped up with the cancellation, including the fact that the hotel wasn’t notified before the public. The DoubleTree Hotel found out that the con wasn’t happening when people began calling to cancel their hotel reservations. That’s unprofessional on a lot of levels. I’m worried that it, plus my experiences last year, are indicative of bigger issues behind-the-scenes. I’m worried that perhaps this cancellation is because of more than just numbers.

You know I love Anglicon if I was still planning on attending after last year’s issues. I had hopes that Anglicon would fix its mistakes and return to being the convention I’d grown to love. But this cancellation makes me wonder if it’s too late. Most cancellation fees from a convention’s contract are high. Those alone could bankrupt a convention, let alone one already having financial difficulties. (I don’t know many conventions that have annual Kickstarters in order to function.) 

Having a major guest cancel is tough. You’ll lose attendees with the cancellation, and if you don’t have many memberships to begin with… but this is the sort of decision that kills a convention. Many conventions would scramble to find a new guest rather than cancel. I don’t know if any effort was made to do so, but several folks who were involved with Anglicon at varying points saw its failure coming.

Anglicon died once before, yet it regenerated and returned. Can it do so again?

I hope so. And when it does, I hope better people are involved in its regeneration.

Puyallup Festival of Books!

Puyallup Festival of BooksIf you’re in the area this weekend, the Puyallup Public Library is having their 5th Annual Festival of Books, which includes the Local Author Festival on Saturday, October 6th from 1-4 PM.

I’ll be there at a table with my newest releases and will be giving a brief talk at 2:20 PM in the library.

You can find out all the details here: http://www.puyalluplibrary.org/1395/Puyallup-Festival-of-Books

Come out, check out some new authors and books, shop the Farmer’s Market, and have an enjoyable Saturday!

Book Release Party Wrap-Up

This is your Book Release Party Wrap-Up!

On a weekend with Renton City Comicon and countless other events, it was awesome to see so many turn out for the double release party last weekend. I started my Saturday with a splitting migraine that carried over from the day before. Despite my aching head, the show must go on and we set off for the geekiest coffee house in Seattle shortly before go time.

To kick things off, we colored pages from my new coloring book, which made for a nice, relaxing start to the event. I read a mostly spoiler free set from both Amaskan’s Blood and Amaskan’s War, I answered quite a number of questions and signed books before we returned to coloring.

Raven readingPicture from Olivia Ahl of me reading.Coloring contestPictures by attendees of the coloring fun!Coloring pagesSo many tables of coloring!Coloring pagesSome chose markers. Some used coloring pencils. Some crayons.coloring contestSome of the finished products! (Pictures by attendees)
Coloring contest

 Reader Ramona won a prize for her coloring sheet (which you can win too!) which she tweeted about(Photo credit: Ramona)

PrizesMy good friend and fellow author Jesikah Sundin attended. We had to take a picture together in front of Serenity. (Photo credit: Miles Sundin)

Raven and JesikahAnother good friend and fellow author, Jennifer Brozek (and her husband), helped me with setup and selling of books, which is MUCH appreciated! Despite my migraine, we didn’t leave until after 10 PM. On the way out of the door, I had to take a photo of the poster hanging up next to my captain. 😉Event PosterOverall, it was an awesome event. Great thanks to everyone who attended!

Release Party Reminder!

Release Party Reminder!

If you’re local to the Seattle area, come join me at the double book release party  THIS WEEKEND for Amaskan’s War and From the Worlds of Raven Oak Coloring Book!

Book Release Party DetailsI truly hope you’ll be able to join me as we color pages, I read a few bits, and we have some of the geekiest and best coffee/food in Seattle.

WHEN: Saturday, September 15 @ 7:30 PM

WHERE: Wayward Coffee House ** 6417 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle

Link to Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/224936458218268/

SFWA!

When I was very young, I fell into fantastical worlds the way a young girl yearns for a pony (which I also loved!). I devoured films like Legend, Willow, Red Sonja, and Labyrinth. It wasn’t until I was twelve that I discovered the classics of science fiction & fantasy books, such as those by Ursula K. Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Ray Bradbury, and Isaac Asimov.

Imagine a twelve year old me stumbling upon some of these greats online before the Internet was properly the Internet. As our limited hours allowed, I’d log into GEnie, a BBS that had a board for SFWA members and SF/F readers to connect. Talking with authors and other readers painted a very vivid picture in mind of what I thought the life of an author was like.

I’ve been published since 2015, but some days, I still don’t feel like an author. I’m not hugely famous (most authors aren’t), I only have a handful of books out (if I don’t count anthologies), and my royalty checks/payments definitely place me in the earlier part of my career than the latter. Most days, I’m fine with this–writing is a marathon, and every day I’m closer to achieving my goals and dreams–but some days it’s difficult to remember why I write.

Today is NOT a difficult day!

When I was twelve and writing my first full-length novel, I had two goals (besides get published):
1) Have my cover art painted by Michael Whelan
2) Sell enough stories to gain membership into SFWA, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

Sadly, Michael Whelan retired, so goal #1 is quite unlikely–though we’re Facebook friends so never say never. But today, I received my official welcome email congratulating me on my acceptance into SFWA!

Yep, that was me earlier today. I spent a good few hours randomly bursting into tears. This is one of those huge, bucket list items for most SF/F authors. Achievement unlocked!

This also opens so many doors for me–ones I know I haven’t even thought about or realized yet–so I’m looking forward to the rest of 2018 and the rest of my writing future!

Ursula Memorial

For Worldcon 76: San Jose 2018, I was asked to write a short essay in memory of Ursula K. Le Guin. My brief essay, along with that of Kate Maruyama, Ellen Datlow, Lisa Morton (HWA President), Brandon Sanderson, Patton Oswalt, Jo Walton, and George R. R. Martin, was published in “Ursula K. Le Guin: A Brief Tribute.”

I didn’t even realize this until after WorldCon! Since you can’t read it unless you grabbed one of the larger books handed out at WorldCon, I’ll post a picture of my contribution for you here.

Ursula K. Le Guin: A Brief Tribute

WorldCon Wrap-Up!

Greetings & Salutations! This is your WorldCon Wrap-Up!

Worldcon 2018 LogoFor those who don’t know, Worldcon is one of the largest and oldest science fiction conventions in the world (hence being called Worldcon). In fact, this year was the 76th Worldcon!

The last Worldcon I attended was in 2015, in Spokane, WA. (I was going to originally attend the Worldcon in San Antonio, TX, but we moved to Washington state and I missed it.) Worldcon isn’t always in the United States, so when it is, much less on the same coast as me, I tend to go!

Books & Chains was vending this Worldcon so rather than go as an attendee, I was there 100% for business. This meant that Elise and I were going to take the two-day drive down to San Jose, California, vend for the five days of Worldcon, and then make the two-day drive back home. 

Two days seemed simple until the West Coast decided to burn into a fiery wasteland. (The picture above is from the Carr fire outside of Redding, CA as we traveled past it. At one point, we drove past charred remains of homes and cars.)

On the roadThis is me, bright and early on Tuesday morning at the beginning of our journey. I look so much more awake than I did by the end of this.

Packed CarYou can see in the photo above just how packed my Honda Fit is at the start of the two-day drive. That’s Elise on the left.

Even as we drove towards Portland, OR, the wildfire smoke was already obscuring the sun.
Smokey air
When we reached Portland, we took a brief stop to say hello to Elise’s sister, Sue, and have a break in the A/C. We discovered part-way down that my A/C had died. It was 95 outside and way too hot for a drive with no A/C, let me tell you.FamThe closer we got to Medford, OR, the smokier it became.Team SmokeyMedford, OR was our stopping point for Day 1 of the trip. We had a very late dinner at the Common Block Brewing Company, which has one of the best vegetarian burgers I’ve ever had. (See the Herbivore on the menu below!)DinnerAfter dinner, we checked into our hotel, which had a very nice lobby. The rooms weren’t anything to write home about, but they were decent enough for a night. MedfordMedford was smokier than Redding, if you can believe it. Because of this, I wore my mask any time I was going outside as my lungs were not happy about the smoke.
Mask neededAfter crossing the border (and being stopped to ensure we weren’t bringing any produce or plants into the state), we drove up and down mountains in California. We stopped at a brief rest stop (pictures below) where you can see that the smoke cleared up a bit. Welcome to California

Another shot from the rest stop.rest stop

Closer to San Jose, California began to resemble Texas–flat and boring. I figure I can call it that since I was born in California and lived a long stretch in Texas. 😉
Wide Open SpacesWe arrived in San Jose in the late evening after a nearly 9 hour drive. Once our stuff was in the convention center, we checked into the Hyatt across the street, had a quick dinner, and went to sleep. Morning would come soon enough…as it did. I am not quite awake yet in this picture.

Raven Oak

Thursday morning we set out for the con to set up our booth. The dealer’s hall would open to the convention at noon, so we had about three hours to set up. We got some new display stands, which you can see in the pictures below.

Booth

In the picture below, you can see Elise’s NASA chainmaille piece. The silver scales were leftover from those created to protect the NASA Insight Rover’s seismograph, which launched for Mars this past May. This special piece of history sold rather quickly! You can also see my new titles on the table.
BoothHere’s a full picture of our booth. Rather than the normal 10×10 space, we had one 8′ table, so we had to sort of cram everything in where we could.Our boothBelow is a picture of me on Thursday. I got this hat to block the bright convention center lights. They tend to give me a migraine.Witchy hatOn one side of our booth we had author and game maker P.A. Wikoff, and on the other, good friend and writer, Jennifer Brozek. A couple of booths down were Hyfriends Patrick Swenson with Fairwood Press and Tod McCoy with Hydra House. In other words, we were on a good row among friends!

The highlight of Thursday was when astronaut Kjell Lindgren (pictured below) stopped by our booth. He was admiring the NASA necklace, which we told him about, and we had a lengthy chat about the space program and International Space Station. I thanked him for being an astronaut because they are one of the reasons we science fiction authors write. We’re often writing about what they’re doing.

Kjell thanked me and said he was an astronaut because of science fiction authors like me. He read lots of sci-fi books as a kid, which made him dream of going into space.
Kjell
Kjell thanked me and said he was an astronaut because of science fiction authors like me. He read lots of sci-fi books as a kid, which made him dream of going into space. He signed the back of one of my coloring book pages, the one featuring Bay-zar from my sci-fi novella Class-M Exile.AutographDuring the five-day convention, we saw a lot of cosplay, or “costuming” as some of the older generations call it. This Krampus below had eerie bells and was staying on the same floor as friends of mine. When he walked to the elevator, everyone could hear it.  KrampusWhile this woman’s outfit was gorgeous, she refused to wear her Worldcon badge. Not cool. I know no one wants to mar their outfit, but for security reasons, especially with protests planned outside, wear the damn badge.Evil ladyHere’s another shot of Elise and I at the booth!At the boothThis guy was REALLY tall. tall manI love the shades. Totally makes the outfit.
OgreMy friend and gaming crew member Kelli stopped by, along with Tammy, who’s pictured below.  (Thanks Tammy for the awesome selfie!)Tammy & RavenThis woman’s fae outfit was gorgeous. This photo doesn’t do it justice.FaeI love plague doctors. Must be my love of Bioshock coming through.Plague DoctorI love the detail on this guy’s leather work.CreatureThe details on her outfit were amazing.Under the SeaHis sword was huge–easily as tall as he is–and yes, it glows.ArmorOn Friday, I wore my exploding TARDIS outfit. In this photo, I’m way too tired. This is my “prop-my-eyelids-up-with-toothpicks” look.FridayThe detail work on this cosplay is unreal.cosplayWe loved this woman’s superhero outfit. Even more, we loved that she included her service dog!
Super HeroesSunday evening was the Hugo Awards–basically SF/F’s Oscar Awards. Rather than go into the ceremony itself this time, we set out for Callahan’s Bar to see the live stream of the Hugo Awards. HugosThese shots are of our table before the awards. (The shot above was taken by my friends Tammy who is pictured in the shot below.)  We had several other friends join us at different points of the ceremony. My skirt had a galaxy pattern that twinkled like the stars. Callihans

Early in, I took a panoramic shot as the bar was filling up. (Click it to view it full size.)

Hugo Awards After a mild delay, the Hugo Awards began.

Hugo Awards

That’s George R. R. Martin announcing one of the awards. George R R MartinThis is Rebecca Roanhorse, who is both a woman of color and of the Native Peoples. She won two awards that night!Hugos

I loved seeing women dominate the Hugo Awards! Way too often, women are told they can’t write science fiction. In fact, I encountered such an attitude earlier on Sunday by way of an editor (more on that at a future date). Nora Jemisin (N.K. Jemisin) had an amazing acceptance speech for her award–the best of the night.

It was odd having a Worldcon go from Thursday-Monday rather than its usual Wednesday-Sunday and as such, Monday was rather quiet. Very few attendees and fewer sales. Since Monday was quiet, things got a little goofy in section G.

More horns

Elise got unicorn horns for us both. Yep. Unicorn horns. (Photo by Jennifer Brozek)

And then there were ears.

Funny blue earsWe tried to get Jennifer Brozek (who had a booth next to us) to wear a horn, but she wouldn’t. So we got her ears instead.

More ears

One trip to the restroom had me passing by a booth with a hat too awesome and too me to go home without it…

Wonder Woman

I also picked up some Tribbles from David Gerrold,.  who was on the row behind us. I’ll have to add pictures of them later. What’s funny is that they shake/vibrate and make Tribble noises.  My cats dislike them and attack them if they vibrate!

For all that Monday was slow, it went fast. Soon we were packing up to go home.

Packing up

Below is our entire booth, all packed up and ready to go!

LeavingAfter getting everything on the palette, it was time to pull the car around into the loading dock. One last day in the California sun! Yes, those are dinosaurs on my shirt.MondayWe left Tuesday morning and for whatever reason, my GPS routed us through San Fransisco. I love the architecture in that city!San FransiscoI got to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time in my life!Golden GateThese pictures are as we approach the bridge.Golden Gate BridgeAfter we left San Fransisco, we crossed a lot of water that reminded me of the Everglades in Florida.LakeAbout the time we stopped for lunch, we took some photos of palm trees. I don’t miss the heat of Florida or California, but I do miss the palm trees.palm trees It was a nice and breezy 63 degrees out when we stopped for lunch.LunchAs we were driving back towards Seattle, our friends and family were keeping us updated on the horrific smoke in the area. Below is a great example of how bad the smoke was from all the wildfires.

Seattle Smoke

(I have no idea who took this photo. It was going around Facebook.)

When we stopped again in Medford, OR, we returned to the Common Block Brewing Company for dinner. Elise had their fish & chips.Fish n ChipsWhen we woke up on Wednesday morning, the red sun cast red squares on our hotel room wall.Red SunIt was time to wear the mask again. 🙁SmokeIt was a long drive home, but once there, my kitties were so happy to see me. DiNozzo sat on the table in front of me and refused to leave my side.DiNozzoIt’s good to be home.



Unless noted, all photos taken by Raven Oak and/or Elise Kreinbring. Copyright 2018.

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