TusCon 43

This coming weekend, I’ll be at TusCon, an annual science fiction convention held in Tucson, Arizona from November 11-13 at the Radison Hotel at the Tucson Airport. The writer guest of honor is George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire, which HBO has adapted in to A Game of Thrones. The artist guest of honor is Peri Charlifu, an award winning artist from Colorado with over 30 years experience in the field. The event is already SOLD OUT and I am told there will be no tickets at the door.

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My schedule at TusCon is as follows:

Friday, November 11

  • 6:00pm – 7:00pm. New hotel, same ol TusCon. Panel Room 1 (Valencia). In this panel, we discuss what’s new and what’s the same at TusCon. We even have a recycled Guest of Honor, although chances are only the panelists know that. On the panel with me: Curt Stubbs, Wendy Trakes, Scott Glener, Earl W. Parrish
  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm. Meet the Guests. Ballroom (Seville). Come rub elbows with the convention guests, enjoy the cash bar, be regaled by Toast Master Ed Bryant.
  • 10:00pm – 11:00pm. Discovering New Worlds. Panel Room 2 (Palo Verde). The Kepler Space Telescope along with many ground based surveys have literally found thousands of planets around other stars. What kinds of worlds are we finding and how do we find them?
  • Midnight – 1:00am. The Astronomer’s Crypt. Panel Room 1 (Valencia). I read from my latest horror novel inspired by my work at Kitt Peak National Observatory. In the novel, astronomers, ghosts, drug cartels and monsters from the beginning of time collide at an observatory on a dark and stormy night.

Saturday, November 12

  • 10:00am – 11:00am. Is serialization making writers forget how to write a good, solid, stand alone story? Panel Room 1 (Valencia). Now that everything successful must get a sequel how much time should be devoted to planting the seeds for the series? How much does that impede telling a satisfying single story? On the panel with me are Janie Franz, Jeffe Kennedy, and Van Aaron Hughes.
  • 11:00am – Noon. Autograph Session. Autographs (Upper Terrace). I’ll be autographing my wares alongside such notable folks as Dr. David Williams, Geoff Notkin, and Thomas Watson.
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm. The physics of sci-fi space battles. Panel Room 1 (Valencia). Most of sci-fi is filled with space battles between giant carriers, or fighters buzzing every which way, firing lasers and missiles at each other. In reality, space battles will be determined almost completely by orbital dynamics. There is little room for surprise attacks, little opportunity to change trajectory once they’ve begun, and their outcomes are probably easy to forecast well in advance. This will change how war is waged in space, and even hard science fiction authors often fail to address these changes. It might be fun to watch a few classic battles, readdress them with physics, figure out the differences, and see what probably should have been different. On the panel with me are Gautham Narayan and David A. Williams.
  • 9:00pm – 10:00pm. Pitch Perfect – You can get published now! Ballroom (Seville). Bob Nelson of Brick Cave Media, Janie Franz of Museit Up Media, and I will take one-minute pitches for projects we’re editing. In my case, I have a spot reserved in the anthology Kepler’s Cowboys. Can you earn one of the last spots in the book. Come along and give it a try, but be sure you read the guidelines first!

Sunday, November 13

  • Noon – 1:00pm. Is conflict overrated? In the age of the antihero, maybe we just need more stories about nice people doing nice things. Ballroom (Seville). Remember when protagonists were… well… protagonists? Why have we left those days behind? On the panel with me are Jill Knowles, Thomas Watson, Earl W. Parrish, and Van Aaron Hughes.

In addition to all these great panels, Hadrosaur Productions will be in the dealer’s room. What’s more, book dealer Marty Massoglia and I will both be celebrating milestone birthdays over the weekend. There will be a celebration at some point. If you’re at TusCon, track us down for details! Hope you have your tickets and we’ll see you there!

A Steampunk Trifecta

This week brings three news items which I hope will be of interest to steampunk fans or those just curious what this steampunk thing is all about!

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First off, I’m delighted to announce that the anthology Gaslight and Grimm is now available for preorder at Amazon. If you order, it will be delivered to your Kindle or shipped to you on May 29 and here’s what you can look forward to:

Once Upon a Time, ageless tales were told from one generation to the next, filled with both wonders and warnings. Tales of handsome princes and wicked queens, of good-hearted folk and evil stepmothers. Tales of danger and caution and magic … classics that still echo in our hearts and memories even to this day, told from old, cherished books or from memory at Grandma’s knee.

Oh yes, tales have been told … but never quite like these. Journey with us through the pages of Gaslight and Grimm to discover timeless truths through lenses polished in the age of steam.

With tales by James Chambers, Christine Norris, Bernie Mojzes, Danny Birt, Jean Marie Ward, Jeff Young, Gail Z. and Larry N. Martin, Elaine Corvidae, Kelly A. Harmon, Jonah Knight, Diana Bastine, and Jody Lynn Nye.

My story in the collection is called “The Steampowered Dragon” and is inspired by a little-known tale from the Grimm library called “The Dragon and his Grandmother.” In my version, three reluctant soldiers in India are given everything they ever wanted by a magical, steampowered dragon. Can they solve the dragon’s riddles and keep their freedom? Pre-order the anthology and find out!

Also, stay tuned because the book will be launching at Balticon 50 in Baltimore, Maryland this Memorial Day Weekend. I’m planning to be on hand along with many of the other contributors. I’ll announce the plans here soon.

Now, I realize pre-ordering things can be a little less than satisfying, though, to tell the truth I do kind of like the anticipation. Be that as it may, the second part of my steampunk trifecta involves instant gratification and its free! I recently read part of my novel Owl Dance for the Creative Play and Podcast Network. Click on the podcast link to listen to my reading or you can download it for offline listening.

For some reason, I gave Professor Maravilla something of a British accent when I read him, even though he’s supposed to be from Mexico. Afterwards, though, I realized that although we know he’s Latino and he lived and taught in Mexico, we really don’t know many details beyond that. Perhaps his British accent is a clue to some other aspect of his character. I’ll have to give more thought to what my subconscious was telling me.

Finally, for my third bit of steampunk news, one week from today on Saturday, April 23 will be the Steampunk Occupation of Bookmans, which will be held at the Bookmans on Speedway in Tucson, Arizona from 10am until 5pm. You can expect the usual shenanigans from the Tucson Steampunk Society—costuming, tea-dueling, exhibits, crafting. and various vendors—as well movies, literature, and a steampunk swap-meet. Spacial guests include Gentleman Robot and Madame Askew. If you’re in Tucson, I hope to see you there!

2016 Tucson Festival of Books

This weekend, I’m at Wild Wild West Con, which is a steampunk convention being held at Old Tucson Studios just outside of Tucson, Arizona. If you’re in the area I hope you’ll drop by. The link above will take you to the convention’s home page where you can get more information. I hope to post some photos in the next couple of weeks.

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Next weekend, I’ll be back in Tucson for the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona. Clicking the name or the logo to the left will take you to the festival’s home page for more information. I see lots of great authors scheduled including Greg Bear, Jeffery J. Mariotte, Marsheila Rockwell, Beth Cato, Diana Gabaldon, Jonathan Maberry, and many more. I’m scheduled for the following event:

Scientists Writing Science Fiction:
Two real life scientists discuss writing science fiction.

Location: Integrated Learning Center Room 151
Time: Sun, Mar 13, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Signing area: Sales & Signing Area – Integrated Learning Center (following presentation)
I’ll be on this panel with Chris Impey.

I will also be signing books at the Massoglia Books Booth during the weekend. Be sure to stop by the book and check for times. They’re booth number 446 and in addition to my books, they have an outstanding selection of used and collectible books. I can easily spend hours just browsing their selection.

Hope to see you there!

Wild Wild West Con 5

Next weekend, I’m honored to be a guest at Wild Wild West Con 5 held at Old Tucson Studios just outside Tucson, Arizona from March 4-6, 2016. Click on the link above for more details. This year’s theme is Journey Around the World. Among the honored guests are Steam Powered Giraffe, Thomas Willeford, Unwoman, Kato, Aiden Sinclair and many more. Below is my schedule for the event.

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Friday, March 4

  • 2pm – Wagon Stage – History Meets Fiction. Join me for a special multi-cultural steampunk reading. I’ll present accounts of New Mexico witches and Japanese spirits, then share sections from my novels these stories inspired.

Saturday, March 5

  • 2pm – Arizona Theater – The Wild West: Real and Mythical. A look at the real West vs the West that Hollywood has given us with an emphasis on Native American, Latin American, and Asian cultural contributions and influences. Joining me on the panel will be David Grasse, Julia Arriola, and Mark Cantwell.
  • 5pm – Sheriff’s Office – Astronomy Around the World. People all around the world have looked up at the stars. I’ll you to such places as Ecuador, Korea, and the Middle East to see how astronomy changed the world and perhaps provide some inspiration for new types of steampunk stories and gadgets

Sunday, March 6

  • 11am – Courtroom Central – Multicultural Steampunk Literature. The ever delightful Madame Askew and I will lead a discussion of steampunk books set in other cultures. Who does their homework and presents the most interesting insights into parts of the world that aren’t just Victorian England or the Wild West?

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When I’m not on panels, you’ll be able to find me over at the Stage 2 Vendor Area at one of the artist tables. This event is particularly special because it also is my debut signing for The Brazen Shark. If you already have a copy, be sure to bring it by for me to sign it. If you don’t have a copy yet, never fear, I’ll have plenty of copies available for sale.

Happy New Year 2016!

A new year has just started and I hope yours is off to a terrific start! As it turns out, I rang in the new year by myself in my dorm room at Kitt Peak National Observatory. My shift started the night of the first and I wanted to get up the mountain before Tucson traffic got too crazy. What’s more, the thermostats in our rooms are set to go into a power saving mode after 12 hours, so my room was only 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I wanted it a little warmer than that when it came time to sleep!

Despite the new year’s humble start, I did have some fun during the day of New Year’s Eve with my family. We spent the day in Tucson and visited the Yume Japanese Gardens. One of the things I like about the gardens is that they have a traditional Japanese house. Here, my daughter and I sit on the floor by the table.

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In my novel The Brazen Shark which is scheduled for release on February 1, 2016, I imagine nineteenth century Japanese airships and the cabins look very much like what you see here. So, in essence, this visit to the Japanese Gardens allowed me a chance to get a taste of what life might be like aboard one of the airships.

Another exciting book coming out this year is the anthology Gaslight and Grimm: Steampunk Faerie Tales edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Diana Bastine. It will be published by eSpec Books. They will be starting a Kickstarter campaign on January 5. If you click on the link, you will be taken to the preview page where you can ask to be notified when the Kickstarter goes live. The anthology includes steampunk retellings of “The Three Little Pigs” by Christine Norris, “The Nightingale” by Jean Marie Ward, and “The Goose Girl” by Bernie Mojzes. If stretch goals are met, we’ll also see stories by Gail Z. Martin and Jody Lyn Nye!

My story in the anthology is based on a little-known Grimm Fairy Tale called “The Dragon and His Grandmother.” The title is sometimes translated as “The Devil and His Grandmother.” I translated the story from German for Tales of the Talisman back in 2003. In this new version, I’ve sprinkled in a dash of Kipling and moved the action to India, mechanized the dragon, and gave my wayward soldiers an interesting lesson to learn. Among the Kickstarter rewards are signed copies of my steampunk novels and an opportunity to appear as a character in “The Steampowered Dragon and His Grandmother.” Be sure to visit the link to find out about the other cool rewards and be notified the minute the campaign goes live!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2016!

Working on the Holidays

There has been a lot of backlash lately against retailers being open on Thanksgiving in the United States, and I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Scrooge-like corporate executives who fear making a little less profit because they’ve given their employees some time with family. However, even if every retailer remained closed on Thanksgiving, there are a lot of people who would have to work, and I’m truly grateful for them. Some of those folks are pretty obvious, such as the doctors and nurses who work in the Emergency Room, fire crews, and utility workers. Will you be watching one of the big Thanksgiving ball games or perhaps the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Marathon? If so, be grateful for the people running the television stations and keeping the Internet up and running. Speaking of those games, there are the people who keep the stadiums clean, run the concessions, and sell tickets.

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As it turns out, Kitt Peak National Observatory does not close down for Thanksgiving either. The universe doesn’t take the day off, and neither do the astronomers who study it. This year, I lucked out and my schedule gave me the entire Thanksgiving weekend off work, which is a nice change of pace. I’ve had plenty of years where I’ve had to work all of the weekend or part of it. The photo above is from Thanksgiving 2013, when my daughter kept me company in the WIYN 3.5-meter telescope’s control room. The observer, Dr. Louise Edwards, was working remotely from Yale University taking spectra using the computer. Dr. Edwards communicated with us using Skype and it actually provided a neat opportunity for my daughter to interact with a woman who not only works in the sciences, but was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.

This brings me to one last group—those who work on the holidays simply because they enjoy it. I may have the weekend off from the observatory, but I’m in the home stretch of working through edits on The Astronomer’s Crypt and I have an exciting story idea that brings members of the Clockwork Legion and the Scarlet Order together that’s clamoring for me to write. Yeah, I’ll be making some quality time to hang out with family and friends, but you can bet that I’ll also spend some time working on these projects because, darn it, they’re fun. In fact, not getting a chance to work on these projects would almost feel like a punishment.

Another thing I enjoy is getting out to meet all of you. Because of that, I plan to be in Tucson on Saturday, November 28 at Bookmans on Speedway Boulevard from noon until 2pm for Tucson Writes. November is Shop Local-Give Local Month and Bookmans is celebrating by bringing in a number of local authors to sell and autograph their books. This is a great way to do some shopping for the holidays and get to know many local authors. I’ll have copies of all my novels there. If you’re in Tucson next weekend, I hope I’ll see you there!

TusCon 42

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This weekend, I’m in Denver, Colorado at MileHiCon. Next weekend, I’ll be in Tucson, Arizona at TusCon 42. The convention will be held at the Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites Conference Suite Resort from October 30th through November 1. Spanning Halloween weekend, there’s sure to be lots of fun cosplay and treats. The author guest of honor will be Seanan McGuire and the artist guest of honor will be Bridget E. Wilde. Special guests include Geoff Notkin and Autumn Ivy. Ed Bryant returns as Toastmaster. My schedule is as follows:

Friday, October 30

  • 5-6pm – Is it wrong to be nostalgic about retro? – St. Augustine. Everything old is new again, but is that idea old enough to be new again? On the panel with me will be Paul E. Clinco, Eric Hanson, and Gloria McMillan.
  • 7-8pm – Meet the Guests – Copper Ballroom. Cash bar, bellydancing, buffet food, and stories from toastmaster Ed Bryant, plus a chance to meet the cool people who participate in TusCon.

Saturday, October 31

  • 4-5pm – Mass Autographing – Copper Ballroom. Come get your wares autographed by all the cool TusCon authors.
  • 5-6pm – How to stretch the reader’s mind without breaking the suspension of disbelief – St. Augustine. Where is the line between being crazy and unbelievable? Just how much strange stuff can you throw at your audience before they check out? Is there real stuff that’s so far out you can’t actually put it in a story? On the panel with me are Jill Knowles, Rick Cook, J.L. Doty, and T.M. Williams.
  • 7:30pm-11pm – Marty and Dave’s Birthday/Halloween Party – TBA. Marty Massoglia and David Lee Summers celebrate their respective birthdays a couple of weeks early at their annual room party. Stop by for snacks and good conversation. If I haven’t announced it here, look for Marty or me at the convention and we’ll be able to tell you what room we’ll be in!

Sunday, November 1

  • 10-11am – What happened to our 21st Century? – Copper Ballroom. We were going to have flying cars, and rocket planes, and colonies and all this cool stuff. Unless you were into cyberpunk in which case we were going to have mass homelessness, rebreather and computers in our eye. So why are we living like none of the above? On the panel with me are Earl Billick, Codi Dolenac, and Eric Flint.
  • 1-2pm – Fen as Family – St. Augustine. How do chronically anti-social loners gain geek friends that stay with them for life, or is that just a myth? Do we really pull together in times of trouble? Has this dynamic changed since we took over pop culture and are no longer the insular group we used to be? On the panel with me are Gloria McMillan, Wolf Forrest, Bruce Wiley, and Liz Danforth.

Discovering Steampunk Books

There are lots of tools that make publishing easy, which is great in many ways, but it can make discovering new books a real challenge. Online bookstores such as Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords have a lot of books available, but what do you do if you want to browse a shelf of books and discover something new? Fortunately, there are some kind folks who make the time to curate collections of books for you to browse on the web.

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One such collection is the Empire Booksellers Page which features books by members of The Steampunk Empire. You’ll find short story collections, graphic novels, novellas and series by independent and small press authors you might have missed in other venues. I’m honored to say the Empire Booksellers features the Clockwork Legion series.

You don’t have to be a member of The Steampunk Empire to browse the Empire Booksellers, but you’d be missing out. I have found The Steampunk Empire to be a great site to share photos from steampunk events, talk to people about steampunk books, music, writing, and events. I hope you’ll drop by and look me up while you’re there. My page is at: http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/profile/DavidLeeSummers

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While I’m mentioning steampunk books, the Tucson Steampunk Society Book Club is reading Lightning Wolves this month. They are meeting at Antigone Books at 411 N. 4th Avenue in Tucson at 3:30 pm tomorrow (Sunday, May 12). I will be there to discuss the book with the club members and perhaps prevent a few non-spoilery previews from The Brazen Shark. If you like steampunk books and live in Tucson, please drop by! I’m sure the club would love to have new members. They always have a great selection of steampunk books to read and discuss. I just wish my crazy schedule would allow me to drop in more often!

Wild Wild West Con 4

The Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention 4 will be held in Tucson, Arizona from March 6-8, 2015 at Old Tucson Studios. In 2014, it received the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award for Best Steampunk Convention in the Southwest. I’m honored to be one of the featured guests alongside such people as Abney Park, Steam Powered Giraffe, Drake and McTrowell, Brian Kesinger, Thomas Willeford, Eric Burton, and David Grasse. Visit www.wildwestcon.com for more information.

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I’ll be giving several panels and workshops over the weekend. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, March 6

  • 1:00 HIGH CHAPARRAL: Victorians and the Paranormal – Ghosts, séances, vampires, you name it, the Victorians probably believed in it. An exploration of Victorian encounters with the dead.
  • 5:00 COURTROOM CENTER: Building a Steampunk Telescope – I show you how to build a telescope that’s not only fashionable, but functional and easy to use. I present tips on where to buy optics and detailed construction information.

Saturday, March 7

  • 12:00 CHAPEL: Steampunk Flash Fiction – Compose an entire story of 200 words or less? Surely it can’t be done! I presents a make and take workshop where you compose a very short steampunk tale.
  • 3:00 COURTHOUSE: Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. The authors of Drake & McTrowell will lead two guest authors (of which I will be one) and the audience in a madcap improvisational writing game show reminiscent of their signature “Hot Potato” team writing style.
  • 5:00 HIGH CHAPARRAL: Writing Steampunk – Steampunk writers gather to discuss the research that goes into their writing, what makes Steampunk special to them, and how they get their work published. With me on the panel are David Grasse and Stephen Chapman.

When I’m not giving a presentation, you can find me in the Vendor Barn sharing a table with Dr. Sparky McTrowell and Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake. I’ll have all of my steampunk books, plus an assortment of other fun reading materials. Be sure to stop by and say “hi!”

TusCon 41 Schedule

TusCon41 TusCon is Tucson, Arizona’s annual science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention. Normally it’s held about mid-November, but this year it’s coming up early, on Halloween weekend. Once again, I’m honored to be invited as one of the guest authors. The Author Guest of Honor is Janni Lee Simner and the Artist Guest of Honor is Sarah Clemmons. You can find all the details at tusconscificon.com. Here’s a look at my schedule:

Friday, October 31

  • 7pm – Ballroom – Mingle with the Guests. This is your chance to learn who’s who at TusCon and chat informally before festivities begin.
  • 9pm – Panel Room 1 – Is It Still TusCon If It’s On Halloween. Normally TusCon happens around my birthday. This year it’s two weeks early. This definitely feels strange to me. Discussing the situation with me are Scott Glener, Bruce Wiley, Carol DePriest, and Curt “Fergie” Booth.

Saturday, November 1

  • 3pm – Panel Room 1 – Has the future become “unknowable”? Was it ever knowable in the first place? I’ll discuss how science and science fiction have changed with Anna Paradox, Cynthia Ward, and Jim Doty.
  • 6pm – Ballroom – Mass Autograph Session Get your wares autographed by any and all of TusCon’s guest authors and artists. If it has mass, I’ll sign it!

Sunday, November 2

  • 11am – Panel Room 1 – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. On this panel, we’ll be discussing the struggles of making a living in this crazy business of science fiction and fantasy writing and storytelling. On the panel with me are Eric Schumacher, Janni Lee Simner, Liz Danforth, and John Vornholt.
  • 1pm – Ballroom – Monsters vs. Megalomaniacs. We’re here to help you figure out how to tell the difference between these two groups. On the panel with me are T.L. Smith, and Paul E. Clinco.

Of course, if you don’t catch up to me in one of these great panels, be sure to stop by the dealer’s room and find the Hadrosaur Productions table where you’ll find many wonderful books, magazines, and anthologies, several of which contain stories and poems by people at TusCon. I look forward to seeing you there!