My Con-Volution Schedule!

cropped-2016ConvoAgeOfMonsters_withDates-100pxI’m so happy to be retruning to Con-Volution: Age of Monsters! I have so many friends at Con-Volution that I’ve come to think of it as a family reunion.

Con-Volution is happening at the Hyatt Regency SFO from Sept 30 – Oct 2. Here’s my schedule:

It’s Shirley Been 100 Years

Friday 17:00 – 18:30, Boardroom V (Hyatt Regency SFO)

In December of this year, Shirley Jackson turns 100. Best known for her story “The Lottery” (1948), Jackson has been read by teenagers across the world. But her novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle endure almost as strongly. What is Jackson’s legacy to modern horror? What women are carrying her torch in today’s horror market?

Carrie Sessarego, Lillian Csernica (M)

Our Favorite Fangs- Vampires and Werewolves

Friday 21:00 – 22:30, SandPebble D (Hyatt Regency SFO)

A look at our favorite toothy monsters in fiction and media.

Shael Hawman, Fred Wiehe, Horror Author (M), Carrie Sessarego, Zoë Moss, Lex Rudd

Making Monsters: For the Love of Frankenstein

Saturday 8PM – 9:30PM, Sandpebble C

Discussing Mary Shelley, and why her monster continues to have such a strong place in genre stories through the ages

Hello from Convolution and HRM Steampunk

photoPart of me has this dream of just bouncing from convention to convention forever and part of me, having done two conventions in two weekends, is so, so happy to be home.  Basically, I had a fantastic time at Convolution and at the High Rollers and Mavericks Steampunk Symposium.  And now I’m tired.  And I’m ready to go to Convolution 2015, but I have to wait until 2015!

Convolution was so delightful.  Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you.  I experienced two glitches – one, I was mysteriously locked out of a room (this was rapidly resolved) and two, I was booked to be in two panels at one time (even in a building full of mad scientists and time travelers, I could not resolve this).  Considering the size of the event, and the fact that it went on for four days, I thought that was impressive.

I was a Featured Guest of Honor, which means I hung out with the Guests of Honor, which means I met Marie Brennan and almost choked to death when I realized who she was and now Marie and I are TOTALLY BFF’S!  If you aren’t familiar with the Lady Trent series, you should be.  It’s delightful.  Above all, I got to hang out with the people I met last year at Convolution plus new friends (me and Tanya Huff and Taunya Gren compared how many pets we had while I fangirled internally).  I was also on a panel with Gail Carriger and now my life is complete.

An evil corporation of evil got me to try on an outfit.  It cost $450.  I did not buy it.  I want it.  Sadness reigns o’er my heart.  If you want to feel my pain, check these guys out – you can get lovely things from them for much less than $450.  Firebird Fae Couture makes blouses, skirts, and other fabric confections and Blue Moon Designs makes belts and bustles THAT LIGHT UP.  I was dying, you guys.  DYING.

Here’s the thing – I did not take a single picture.  Sorry, guys.  Not even one.  I was on panels almost the whole time and I forgot to take pics.  Did I get a pic of the thing where you could shoot Darth Vader with a nerd gun for charity?  Or the ball pit of hilarity? Or the dead astronaut?  No, I did not.  You must  picture these things in your mind.

Then I came home and…went to HRM Steampunk Symposium in Old Sac.  This was a less well-coordinated event.  Not much programming, although what there was, was great.  It was hard to find things.  It was hard to get panels set up.

BUT – it was a weekend of steampunk in Old Sacramento, and, once again, everyone I met was delightful.  Here’s an example – I was wearing a nautilus pen from Steamy Tech and when they realized that part of it was broken, they repaired it for me, for free, on the spot.  Steamy Tech was donating a portion of their profits to this gofundmeproject:  Helping Robert.  Robert is a Gulf War veteran with health problems related to his service.  Please take a look.

I’ve very much enjoyed getting involved with the Sacramento Steampunk Society and I hung out at their booth and took some pics:



Waiting for a train at the Old Sacramento station.




These travelers say they want to go to Disneyland. To see the Steampunk art exhibit on Main Street, I presume.



The dragon only bites a little.


Two sophisticated travelers and one beat-up diver waiting for a train at the Old Sacramento Waiting Room

Clockwork parrot! It talked, it moved, it said “pretty bird”, it stole my heart.

OK, I have to go take a nap!  And then get ready for the next round of convention fun!  Can’t Wait for the summer round:  RT Booklovers, Baycon, and, hopefully, San Diego Comic-Con.  Whee!

I’m a Featured Guest At Convolution 2014!

photoLast year I attended Convolution, a science fiction and fantasy convention in California.  This year I’m so excited to be back, as a featured guest!  I hope some of you can attend!  This is going to be a fun convention – in my experience, it’s packed with things to do but it’s also friendly and low-key.  There are workshops, panels, a masquerade, gorgeous crafts in the dealer’s room, and if last year is any indication, a lot of parties.

Here’s the when and Where for Convolution 2014:

Sept 26 – Sept 28, 2014

Hyatt Regency, SFO

Burlingame, CA

And, here’s my schedule!

Friday, Sept 26th:

1PM:  Opening Ceremonies

2-4PM:  We Love Wonder Woman!

This panel will talk about Wonder Woman’s enduring appeal as a feminist icon.  I’m looking forward to sharing the best Wonder Woman line of all time, “Great Girdle of Aphrodite, am I tired of being tied up!”

4-6PM:  Questions and Answers and Things that Go Bump in the Night

This panel is all question and answer – but the questions go into a hat and whoever draws the question must answer it.  Should be hilarious.

6PM – 8PM:  Meet The Guests

This is an informal gathering.  Please come and say hi!

8PM-10PM:  Delphic Oracle

I am not even going to attempt to describe this except that it involves comedic improv and I strongly suspect that it may also involve alcohol.  I certainly hope so.

Saturday, Sept 27th:

10AM – 12PM:  Inventors. Travellers, Scientists, Spies:  Real-Life Steampunk Women

The image of the Victorian Woman is that of prudish, housebound women, but many Victorian women lived lives of great intellect and adventure.  I’ll be talking about some of the women who out-steampunked steampunk – women like Ada Lovelace, mathematician and inventor, Gertrude Bell, explorer, and Lani Rakshmi Bai, leader and warrior.

12PM – 2PM:  Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

A meet-up for fans of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  Sarah Wendell, creator of the website, has hinted to me that I might be provided with swag.  Let’s talk romance and our favorite books!

2PM – 4PM:  Dragon, Wizards, and Vampires:  Their Origin and Development

I’m so excited about this panel because Gail Carriger is on it.  I plan to spend the panel staring at her in awe.  Or would that be creepy?

4P – 6PM:  Excuse Me, Princess!  The Greatest Love Stories of Sci Fi

 Sunday, Sept 28th:

10AM – 12PM:  Geek Parents Raising Geeklets

My daughter has been invited to participate on this panel with me.  I tremble to think of how she might answer the question, “What does your mom do to embarrass you?”  The mind boggles.

You can register at  Can’t wait!



Self-Promotion: Notes from Convolution 2013

photoIf one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your ideas and products out into the world, then you might find my notes from the self-promotion panel at Convolution to be helpful.  Here’s my notes!

Self Promotion for Everyone: Ric Bretschiener, Surya O’Shea, Chad Peterman, moderated by M. Todd Gallowglass

One of the panels I attended at Convolution was “Self Promotion”.  The panelists were Ric Bretchneider (a software designer), Surya O’Shea (a visual artist), and Chad Peterman (radio production assistant).  The panel was moderated by the author M. Todd Gallowglass (author).  So – lot’s of perspectives, and lots of points!  My notes seem to fall into two categories:  stuff on social media, and stuff on the importance of generosity.  Here’s some highlights:

Social Media

A lot of the conversation involved how to use social media effectively.  All the speakers emphasized the need to be honest, and be yourself.  They also pointed out that “there is no privacy on the Internet”.  Many harrowing tales were told about people who either intentionally or accidentally vented their ire at someone online and lost credibility and customers because of it.

So how can you be yourself if you shouldn’t be negative when you’re upset?  First of all, the panelists weren’t saying that you should never be negative.  Rather, they were saying that you should be judicious.  Don’t be a whiner, and don’t vent about someone without thinking it through.  That’s different from calling attention to a problem that you truly think should be public – and anything you say online can become public.   When it comes to venting irritation, M. Todd Gallowglass pointed to Wil Wheaton’s technique.  Whenever Wil Wheaton is annoyed or upset, he posts something about unicorns and rainbows.  His followers know that’s code for him having a sucky time, but it’s not specific.

M. Todd Gallowglass also said that it’s important to use Twitter and Facebook to tell your story and to invite dialogue.  “Be a person, not a linkbot”.  He also reminded the audience that “The ‘share’  button (not ‘like’, but ‘share’) is the most important button in social media.

On Being Generous

Much was said about being generous – with advice (when you are asked for it), with resources, and with pointing people elsewhere if they need something from you and you know that someone else can do a better job of filling that need.  M. Todd Gallowglass talked about science fiction and fantasy as being a very open, supportive community, and pointed out that not every genre of writing is typified y this kind of openness.  He encouraged writers to help each other, because “People who see everyone else as competition don’t grow”.

M. Todd Gallowglass also talked about the Law of reciprocity.  This law states that people respond to kind or positive actions with kindness and positivity.  Not everyone is like that – M. Todd Gallowglass pointed out that some people will take advantage of the Law.  But, he said, “in general, if you do cool things for people, you get a reputation of doing cool things for people – which makes you cool.”

Convolution: One Last Memory

photoI love these photos so much that I wanted to write a whole separate feature about them.  My family and I were standing in line waiting to get some books autograph by Wendy and Brian Froud.  The line was very long, because everyone loves the Froud family.  and it was moving very slowly, because apparently the Froud family loves everyone.  When you got to the front of the line, they didn’t just sign you book – they hugged you, and let you take a few photos, and chatted for a few minutes.  Because they are wonderful.

So anyway, we were getting a little restless and dare I say a tad cranky when I noticed that the woman behind me had a great hand tattoo.  then I realized that it was actually a drawing – and she was doing this drawing at that very moment, with a regular ballpoint pen.


When we oohed and awed she looked at my daughter and said, “Want me to do one for you?”  So that’s what we did while we waited for our turn in the line – we watched this woman do gorgeous art on my daughter’s hand with a ballpoint pen.  I don’t know why I’m so enchanted by the fact that this all took place with an ordinary pen but the combination of an everyday object, an intricate and fascinating final outcome, and a great moment of kindness just charmed the socks off me.



You might notice the earrings the woman is wearing – she makes them herself and sells them on etsy.  Her name is Laura Franklin, and you can find her jewelry at


Thank you, Laura, for a lovely memory!  BTW, the earrings are made from beetles wings, and she promises me that they are naturally shed and that the beetles aren’t killed for their wings.  So you can enjoy your jewelry guilt free!

More thoughts and photos from Convolution 2013

photoI’m still glowing from the lovely weekend I spent at Convolution.  I hugged the Froud family!  I was on two panels with Wendy Pini!  I discussed female narrators with Richard Kadrey!  I sang terrible, terrible karaoke!  I danced with my husband!  I had a good time, is what I’m saying.

When I go to these events I’m so moved by how friendly and welcoming everyone is.  There are always a few people who make it a point to reach out to me, introduce me to others, help me network, and just make me feel generally comfortable – a hard thing to do since mingling at a party is not one of my life skills.  Left to my own devices, I could easily make it through a whole weekend without ever managing to talk to anyone – but my peeps do not allow that to happen.  People I had never met before introduced me to others, encouraged me when I was nervous about moderating panels for the first time, and swore that they totally did not even notice that one time that I knocked over a glass of water and then sat in it.  Thank you all!

This was the very first time I attended a convention as a guest.  It was such an honor.  To be in the company of such creative people, and to be sitting at the table at those panels – it made me woozy.  And when I say “creative people”, I don’t just mean the guests of honor, who are some of my creative heroes (Wendy and Richard Pini, of Elfquest fame, Brian and Wendy Froud, Richard Kadrey).  I also mean my fellow convention-goers.  Every single person I talked to made something.  some of us blog, some build things, some game, some make music, some design and make costumes – there was every kind of artist.  Whether or not we were “professional” was entirely beside the point.  The point was that we were all profoundly passionate.

Here’s some pics from Convolution.  One thing is clear – if I’m going to keep this up, I absolutely must learn some photography skills.  There’s nothing high quality about these images.  But I do hope they will give you a sense of some of the lovely cosplay I saw!

Captain Hook

Captain Hook

I left Captain Hook chatting with my mom, who sews, and when I caught up to them again my mom said, “Oh honey, she’s been giving me lots of ideas”.  Now I am both excited and afraid.


The Belle of the Ball!  Oh, c’mon – you know someone had to say it.


The second generation!  Toby Froud’s baby, his wife, Sarah, and an elf.  If we count Wendy and Brian Froud as Generation One, this is actually Generation Two and Three.


I don;t know how many outfits this woman has, but I’ve seen her at two cons now, and she had a different costume on every time I saw her, and they were all stunning.


This guy guarded the Klingon Party.  The second floor was the party room and EVERYONE wanted to go to the Klingon Party.  “COME IN!”  He growled.  “IT’S VERY UNSAFE HERE!”


This couple sang, “I’ll Never Tell”, from the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, at Karaoke night.  It was adorable.  And don’t they look awesome?


Another stunning couple.


I love this woman’s attitude!

The Geek Girl In Love Cape.  Not recommend for use in flight or in combat.

Last but not least, me, proudly sporting the famous Geek Girl in Love cape.  For decorative purposes only.  Not recommended for use in combat.  Do not wear near open flame or jet engines.

Things I heard at Convolution

photoI got back from Convolution last night and I’m still excited from the event.  This was a wonderful creative, low-key convention.  I made a lot of new friends – special thanks to Convolution VP Erik Bigglestone, from Games of Berkeley, who saw me failing to mingle at a party (I mingle by standing awkwardly in a corner – it’s my way).  Erik personally introduced me to people I was much to shy to approach.  And although I’m singling out Erik, that general attitude – warm, friendly, hey everyone let’s have fun – pervaded the event.  In the words of M. Todd Gallowglass, toastmaster:  “There are no snobs here”.

This is Convolution’s second year and although they are still having some growing pains (registration was not pretty, and the Hyatt has very limited and ridiculously expensive food options even by fancy hotel standards) in general it was smoothly run.  It was large enough (about 900 estimated attendees) to feel exciting and busy, and small enough to feel intimate and friendly.  There were hands on workshops and panels, and parties, parties, parties.  And of course, there was the Goblin Ball, featuring live performances and a DJ and me jumping around like a very, very happy idiot with bad feet.

I’ll be writing more about this event next week, plus posting pictures ASAP, but here’s a few of the funniest things I heard:

Staff:  “Candy eyeball?”

Me:  “No thanks, I had candy for breakfast”.

Wendy Froud:  “Jim Henson called me and asked if I wanted to work for him, and I said, “Yes!’  I mean, I was gonna be a waitress.”

A very blurry picture of Wendy Froud and fan.

A very blurry picture of Wendy Froud and fan.

Cosplayer to a friend:  “Check out my tail!”

Friend:  “You don’t have a tail!”

Cosplayer:  “No, I mean, my coat tail!”

(I just find it hilarious that in this context not only might someone ask another person to check out their tail, but it can mean at least 3 things with equal likelihood).

Remember Baby Toby from Labyrinth?  That’s Brian and Wendy Froud’s son, who’s name is really Toby.  Here’s a Toby story from Wendy Froud:  “I don’t know if Toby ever used his Labyrinth celebrity to get girls, but I do know that he gave out autographs to his classmates in kindergarten.  Also Jennifer Connolly (and her mom) babysat him – it was her first babysitting job, and the first time we left him with a sitter.”

Toby, as a baby in Labyrinth.  Wendy assures us he was perfectly safe and in no danger of falling, or of being eaten by goblins.

Toby, as a baby in Labyrinth. Wendy assures us he was perfectly safe and in no danger of falling, or of being eaten by goblins.

More pics later, but here’s one of The Babe With the Power, Toby, all grown up, with his baby.  DUDE.  TOO MUCH CUTE.

Toby, grown up, and his insanely cute kid!

Toby, grown up, and his insanely cute kid!