Wild Wild March

March has been a wild, but generally good month. Part of what made it wild were some events on the day job front at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Back in February, the 4-meter telescope’s enclosure suffered damage as a result of cold weather. Over the years, water had worked its way into the building’s exoskeleton. During one particularly cold night, the water froze and caused a fifteen-meter long crack to appear in one of the structural support beams. The building was evacuated until the problem could be evaluated. Engineers were called in, the problem was investigated, and repairs are now underway. The 4-meter has been back in operation for about three weeks. That said, the problem did cause some fairly major shuffling of my schedule.

In spite of the shuffling, I was still able to attend…

Wild Wild West Con

Wild Wild West Con was held during the first weekend of March at Old Tucson Studios and the Hotel Tucson in Arizona. On Friday of the convention, I was scheduled for a Q&A session and autographing. I met some nice people during that session and did an impromptu reading. Later in the day, I was scheduled to give a presentation on Victorian-era astronomy. Unfortunately, the multimedia projector died sometime earlier in the day and I fear the audience wasn’t able to see my photos as well as they could have, since the only thing I had to display them on was my laptop. Still, it seemed the presentation was well received in spite of the problems. I’ve decided the time has come to invest in my own multimedia projector for just such emergencies!

On Saturday afternoon, all of the author guests read at the Baroness’ Tea Party at the Grand Palace Saloon. The event was very well attended and I had an opportunity to read alongside such talented authors as Cherie Priest, O.M. Grey, Nick Valentino, Elizabeth Darvill, and Gayle Martin.

When not out at events, many of the authors hung out at the Hotel del Toro. It was one of the buildings at Old Tucson and was set aside as a vendor area for the authors. Sharing the space with us were some of the folks behind the forthcoming web series Mantecoza. Click here to see the trailer for the series.

Here’s a photo of the authors along with the Baroness who hosted the tea party:

Gayle Martin, David Lee Summers, Nick Valentino, Elizabeth Darvill, Cherie M. Priest, O.M. Grey and the Baroness in front of the Hotel del Toro

On Saturday night, we were treated to a concert by Veronique Chevalier, Unextraordinary Gentlemen, and Abney Park. I’ve been a fan of Unextraordinary Gentlemen and Abney Park for a little over a year now and delighted to hear both bands together in person.

Sunday was a fairly quiet day as the convention wound down. I took some time to explore the main vendor’s area and take in some of the fine shows that Old Tucson Studios put on. One of the treasures I found at the vendor area was a brass telescope like those they used on ships — and have mentioned in stories like “The Pirates of Baja” in the current issue of Science Fiction Trails Magazine.

All in all, I had a great time at the convention. It was delightful getting to meet my fellow Steampunk authors who were in attendance. I look forward to reading the new books I picked up there and hope to see all of them at another convention down the road. One of the things that really made Wild Wild West Con shine was the venue. Unlike so many conventions tucked away in a hotel somewhere, this one was held at the movie studio where many great Western films were shot. It was wonderful to see all the Steampunk costumes among those familiar buildings. I want to thank Ryan McMann and Robert Levin, the president and vice-president of the convention, for inviting me and putting on a fine event. Even with some first-year glitches, it was a well run show and I hope to be back next year.

Almost immediately after the convention, I had to return to work at Kitt Peak. Sadly, on the way home from my shift at the observatory, I hit a “road gator” — the tread shed by a semi-truck. It tore a hole in my radiator and it looks like I suffered some engine damage. I’m still waiting to see whether the insurance will pay for everything or if I’ll be looking for a new car.

Despite the car troubles, I wind up this turbulent March with some good news…

Owl Dance Under Contract

It’s now official, my story collection Owl Dance is under contract with Flying Pen Press in Denver. It is tentatively scheduled for release this October. Of course, I’ll continue to provide updates as the book approaches release. In the meantime, I’ll be working with the editor to polish it to a shine.

Now, some astute readers of this journal will notice that I just referred to Owl Dance as a story collection, but in other entries, I’ve referred to it as a novel. Well, what is it? In fact, it’s a series of fifteen tightly interweaved short stories that tell a complete story. One could say it’s a little like a TV-season with a story arc, like Brisco County Jr., Babylon 5 or recent seasons of Doctor Who. Whether you call it a novel or a collection really is a matter of marketing and making sure the book matches reader expectations.

Either way, I hope you enjoy Owl Dance when it comes out!

Finally, taking a look ahead…

Blog Tour 2011

I’ve been interviewed for a few blogs. I don’t have all the dates when interviews will be posted, but I can tell you two of them. Susan Whitfield interviews me on her blog on Thursday, April 7. Look for that interview at susanwhitfield.blogspot.com. Elaine P. Cantrell interviews me on her blog on Tuesday, April 19. You can find her blog at elainepcantrell.blogspot.com.

Heidi Ruby Miller has also interviewed me, but I don’t have a date yet for that blog post. Watch for it in my Twitter updates over on the right.

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