sf conventions

The last weekend of July will find me once again at one of my favorite conventions, Confluence, with some of my favorite folks–the members of Parsec, the Pittsburgh-area Science Fiction club. I’ve just gotten my preliminary schedule, I’m looking forward to more information on what some of these panels are:

1:00pm in Oak
Keeping Within the Constraints
[Panelists: Cat Faber (F), Seanan McGuire, James Daniel Ross, Elektra Hammond]

10:00pm in Oak
Sex Panel: Erotic Readings and Naughty Jokes
[Panelists: KT Pinto, Elektra Hammond, Kevin M Hayes]
I’ll be reading something written by Bernie Mojzes, probably caterpillar erotica, from an Alice in Wonderland-themed collection. Thank you Bernie!!

noon in Oak
Thank Heaven for Little Subs
[Panelists: Danielle Ackely-McPhail, Larry Ivkovich, Elektra Hammond, Jeff Young]

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As I work on trying to get a few of my deadline projects taken finised up before this weekend’s cat show (including the homework for Thursday night’s class!), but I wanted to get my schedule for Mysticon posted for those of you planning ahead for the end of the month.

This will be my first Mysticon, and I’m really looking forward to it. Mysticon will be 24 – 26 February in Roanoke, Virginia. When I’m not on a panel (or attending one), I’ll be manning the fan table for Darkovercon. Come by and say “hi.”

Without further ado, my schedule is:

10pm Boardroom 1
Tales from the Darkside (of Fandom) Fan or Fanatic
It’s a theme that never gets old. What horror stories about conventions, clubs, costumes, dueling egos, and practical jokes gone wrong do you have to tell?

9am Boardroom 1
Web Design–Just the Nuts and Bolts
Are you interested in creating your very own website? Whether it’s for a business, a convention, or your rants and raves at society, join me as I explain the basics to get one started.
I’m going to be dragging out my ancient CS creds (yes, I have a CS degree–Ivy League even) and dusting off my teaching skills for this one. A simple overview, and lots of pointers on wher to get more do-it-yourself info. Hopefully someone will be an early riser Saturday morning and join me . . .

4pm Boardroom 1
What’s with the goggles?
With the continuing popularity of all things steampunk, it’s not uncommon to see it done well, but is also done very badly. Panelists will look at steampunk from its cultural and historic roots, as well as examine costumes from classic steampunk character archetypes.

1pm Dogwood 2
Come to our Convention
Come hear about other great conventions in the Mid Altantic area.
I will be expounding upon the virtues of Darkovercon 35, happening Thanksgiving weekend in Timonium, Maryland and this year featuring GOH Nalo Hopkinson.

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I’m heading down to Chattacon this weekend, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Last night, the programming schedule turned up in my email, and I’m very pleased to announced that they’ve put me on some panels! Without further ado:

8:00pm Gallery A&B
Meet the Pro’s Reception
Wherein I will be hanging around mostly playing fangirl to the major guests of the convention . . . .

2:00pm Gallery B
Stories: The Long and Short of It
[panelists: Lee, Miller, Van Name, Hammond]
Note: This panel is opposite the Baen Traveling Slide Show, and everyone on it (other than me!) is a Baen author. Odd scheduling]

5:00pm Gallery B
The Virgin Chronicles–Newbie Writers
[panelists: Hammond, Conley]

I will also be at the FOL (Friends of Liad) breakfast if there is one.

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A Song of Ice and Fire Panel at Philcon

Jennie Ivins of Fantasy Faction posted a write-up of her experience at this year’s Philcon, and sent along this picture from the Saturday night panel on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. From left to right, Andrew C. Murphy, Myke Cole, David Axler and me.

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. . . and it’s going to be a busy one. Hip deep here in prep for Thanksgiving with the family, pick-up of the houseguest, and packing for Darkovercon.

If you’ll be in Timonium, here is where you can find me:

3pm Main Programming
The Price of Magic
[Panelists: J-F Bibeau, Katherine Kurtz, Diana Paxson, Tamora Pierce, Delia Sherman, Elektra Hammond (mod)]
You can’t get something out of nothing. What kind of price does magic demand, and why, in your universe?

5pm Steampunk Programming
Decorate or Make Your Own Hat or Fascinator
workshop – [steampunk staff]
Bring a hat or buy a fascinator “blank” and decorate it with the help of our steampunk experts.

Noon Alternate Programming
Independent Publishers
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Mike McPhail & Katie Hartlove]
In the past, if you wanted your book to be published you had a small number of big name publishers to choose from. With today’s technology, the publishing field is exploding. Learn about the independent publishers.

2pm Main Programming
SF seems to have two poles
[Panelists: Margaret Carter, Elektra Hammond, Debra Killeen, Tim Liebe, Don Sakers, Melissa Scott, Carl Cipra (mod)]
SF seems to have two poles: Frankenstein and Pygmalion, and the field shambles from one to the other over time. Where are we now?

4pm Alternate Programming
The many faces of art
[Panelists: Tristan Alexander, Shoshana Epsilon, Hannah Shapero, Elektra Hammond (mod)]
What is art & what makes a medium art versus a craft. Painting a picture with oil is considered art, while painting with thread (embroidery) is considered a craft. How does modern technology impact this?

5pm Steampunk Programming
Steampunk Literature
[Panelists: Mark P. Donnelly, Steve Southard, Kevin M. Houghton, Elektra Hammond (mod)]
A discussion of steampunk literature, past and current.

11am Alternate Programming
Promoting 101
[Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Elektra Hammond, Kelly Harmon]
Workshop/panel discussion. Learn about when and how to promote for little to no expense. Covers creative marketing, reviews, press releases, author interviews, and more.

Noon Main Programming
Lord Byron said . . .
[Panelists: C. S. Friedman, Esther Friesner, Elektra Hammond, Scott MacMillan, Vonnie Winslow-Crist, Leona Wisoker, Carl Cipra (mod)]
Lord Byron said “life is a tragedy to the person who feels and a comedy to the person who thinks.” But you have to do both—think and feel. Which is more important, and why?


I will also be at the Steampunk Promenade Saturday evening (Pirate!), the Clam Chowder Concert/Fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Saturday Night, and Igor’s wealth-redistribution session following the Hallelujah chorus even later Saturday night. And I’ll be hanging around the Dark Quest Books table in the Huckster’s Room.

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Philcon rocked.

I got in Friday a little after things got started (Mike had to work and I waited for him so we could travel in one car instead of two), and the weekend was filled was fun, friends, and surprises. Friday included the PSFS (Philadelphia Science Fiction Society) meeting, attending a panel on the 75-year history of Philcon, including reminiscences of the early days by Robert A. Madle, an attendee of the very first Philcon. I rounded out the evening by attending the concert given by the featured filk guest, S.J. [Sooj] Tucker. To my very great surprise, Sooj was accompanied by Betsy Tinney on cello, a fellow maine coon breeder I’ve known forever.

After the concert (and a quick hello to Betsy), we headed off to Chez McPhail, where we were able to spend our weekend in comfortable accommodations (including yummy dinners).

Saturday I wasn’t committed to any panels until 3pm, so in and around my commitments I attended panels on Space Art (an intriguing look into the process of very different artistic minds), Costume Philosophy 101 (why create a particular costume?), the infamous Pirate Ninja, Alien, Big Damn Space Hero discussion? battle?, Psychic Detectives to Paranormal Investigators, and Cory Doctorow’s GOH Speech. I spent some time in the Huckster’s Room, and committed Mike and I to working in the Green Room for the Masquerade at Chicon 7 in September.

I moderated a lively panel on Costume Embellishment (I dragged out a few bits of show & tell, but mostly tried to just moderate–the last con where I did costuming panels I was the only one without show & tell, this time I was the only one who brought some . . . ). Later, at 7pm, was the Song of Ice and Fire panel–one of the highlights of the convention. We had a full room of fans, and a fun hour discussing George R.R. Martin’s wonderful epic. Afterwards, I headed downstairs with Mike to watch the masquerade and the halftime show (Sooj & Betsy joined by Heather Dale & Ben Deschamps) before calling it a night.

Sunday was super busy–panels at 10am, noon and 2pm. The first panel was on what makes a story Steampunk. Panelists included G.D. Falksen, Gil Cnaan, Jonah Knight, Richard Stout and me. Noon was a Steampunk costuming panel, after which I went to Jonah Knight’s 1pm Supernatural Steampunk concert. At 2pm, I moderated a Found Materials Costuming panel, then took a final turn through the Huckster’s Room.

Sometime during the weekend Mike and I managed to buy a small mountain of books, and I picked up a gorgeous skull-and-crossbones cameo (that glows in the dark!) from Robert Quill. Not to mention drooling over a bunch of great stuff–I want a Bat’leth for Christmas!

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For those who will be in Cherry Hill, New Jersey at Philcon this coming weekend (18-20 November 2011), here is where to find me at the con. Otherwise, I’ll probably be hanging around the Dark Quest table in the Huckster’s Room:

3:00pm in Plaza V (five)
Costume & Garment Embellishment–When do you Stop?
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (mod), Lisa Ashton, Kat Grossberg, Kris Twesme, Patricia Wake, Nikki Cohen]

Our panel discusses the “fun” part of building your costume—embellishment—sometimes sparkly and glitzy, or not always. Everyone thinks this part is easy, but it is not always evident how to do it well. What is appropriate, how much, horizontal, vertical,
or diagonal or curved? Monochrome or contrast? Shiny or not, what if
you can’t find the right color? All these questions will be addressed.

7:00pm in Crystal Ballroom Three
George R.R. Martin’s “The Song of Ice and Fire”
[Panelists: David M. Axler (mod), Myke Cole, Andrew C. Murphy, Shira Lipkin, Elektra Hammond]

This series, now up to five books, has also spawned a hit HBO series. What is so special about Martin’s work? Is it the “new Dune”?

10:00am in Plaza IV (four)
Steam: Ironing Out The Details
[Panelists: Richard Stout (mod), Gil Cnaan, Elektra Hammond, Jonah
Knight, G.D. Falksen]

What exactly makes a story “Steampunk”? Is it just a matter of slapping a few weird-science inventions on a Victorian setting, or is there more to it?

12 noon in Plaza II (two)
Starting in Steampunk: What are the Costume Basics?
[Panelists: Thomas Willeford (mod), Elektra Hammond, Gil Cnaan, Matt Black]

Steampunk has experienced overwhelming popularity in the recent past. How can you develop a steampunk costume or persona that is believable? What are the basic pieces for men or women? How about
accessories, shoes, hats, weapons, survival gear . . . ?

2:00pm in Plaza V (five)
Using Found Materials: Thrift Stores, Yard Sales & Grandma’s Attic
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (mod), Thomas Willeford, Kris Twesme,
Stephanie Burke, Mike McPhail, Richard Stout]

Most of us don’t have unlimited funds to spend on building costumes.
The fun is trying to make serendipitous finds fit the need. Making over a thrift store dress, spraying an old crocheted sweater silver
as “mail”, perhaps finding a vintage hat in the attic—how do these spark your imagination?

I hope I see you’all there!

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The short form: Best. Con. Ever.

The long form:
I sold books, thanks in part to the great team at Fortress Publishing Inc., who did me a favor by putting my books out for sale on their table. Thanks Brian, Chris and Christine!

I was on panels, which enabled me to meet and interact with some great people. I moderated* the Steampunk Panel, which was a rocking good time. I finally got to meet Kevin Geiselman (Geis) in person, and shared time with Al Katerinsky and Michelle [Sagara] West. I don’t think anyone can spend too much time with Michelle–she is one of the nicest and most interesting people I’ve ever met.
I did a small press panel with Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano of Fortress Publishing, Inc., and Eric Beebe of Post Mortem Press–we had a great time sharing the state of the world of small press.
I also participated in a Web Publishing & Web Comics panel, also with Michelle and with Richard Errington and Paul Anderson. That was a really fast-paced fun panel, even if we went off topic a time or two or three . . . .
I even did two readings, one from my story in In An Iron Cage, and a late Saturday night erotica reading with K T Pinto (aided by a bottle of Glendronach). I read a selection from Beyond the Vision of Dreams, a weresnake fantasy sent to me by my friend Stella Price, written with her sister Audra.

I squeezed in a shift at the Parsec table, which mostly consisted of chatting with the people who stopped by. I went to several panels, all enjoyable, and live-tweeted several of them (including the social networking panel). I spent a few dollars in the Huckster’s Room, and chatted with a number of the dealers. I roomed with Chris Cowan from Undiscovered Treasures, and finally had time to catch up with her. Best. Roommate. Ever.

I met a bunch of people, including the folks in charge of programming, Karen Yun-Lutz & Kevin Hayes, and several folks from the Seton Hall MFA program. I only wish I could have spent more time with all of them!

If you haven’t been to Confluence, put it on your calendar for next year. It’s always a terrific con. I’m already making plans for next year!

Oh, and I got a convention t-shirt that had my name on the back as one of the guests–how cool is that?

*I gained the courage to moderate from talking to one of the best panel moderators around, Carl Cipra. I asked him how to be a good moderator, listened, and tried to apply what I learned.

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Confluence is just around the corner, 22 – 24 July 2011 in Pittsburgh. Confluence is near and dear to my heart–it’s the convention put on by Parsec, the Pittsburgh area Science Fiction Club.

Mike and I joined Parsec in September 2004, when we attended a pre-Worldcon BBQ hosted by Wen Spencer. Wen is a former-Pittsburghian–we met the members of the club there and had a great time. We’ve been members ever since.

We/I have attended several Confluences since then (we missed a couple that conflicted with cat show commitments). But this is the first Confluence I’m attending as a panelist/guest.

Without further ado, here is my weekend schedule for Confluence:


Saturday, 23 July 2011
2pm Sizzlin’ Steampunk – Cogs, Clicks and venting vapors
Elektra Hammond (m), Alan Katerinsky, Michelle Sagara, Kevin Geiselman

8pm Small Press Publishing – A New Respectability
Eric Beebe (m), Elektra Hammond, Chris Pisano, Brian Koscienski

10pm Erotic Readings/discussion
KT Pinto, Elektra Hammond

Sunday, 24 July 2011
12pm Reading
Elektra Hammond


I’m really looking forward to these panels–I love steampunk in any format, and I’d love to hear what everyone has to say on the panel. It will be my first try at moderating, so we’ll see whether the lesson I took at the feet of the master works out. I’m also looking forward to talking about small press with the fun guys from Fortress Press, and looking forward to meeting lots of new friends.

The reading on Sunday will be from my story in the just published In an Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk, Saturday’s late night reading will be a selection concerning very, very naughty weresnakes, courtesy of my friend Stella Price.

See you there!

ETA: I have been in contact with Geis, and he will be at the Steampunk panel. W00t!

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Despite the fact that In An Iron Cage: The Magic of Steampunk is delayed until sometime later in June, I got a call a few days before the June 4th Dorian’s Parlor that we were still on. Although we couldn’t “launch” the book, Dark Quest was going to hand out promotional materials, take preorders and do some giveaways to help build up buzz for the books.

Mike and I had been meaning to get to Dorian’s (a salon-style steampunk event) for some time, but things kept getting in the way. This time we finally made it! It was great meeting people and handing out postcards for the book. It was a bit loud, but a ton of fun. We’ll be back at Dorian’s in September, launching the book for real, with readings and books for sale. Should be a ton of fun!

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