March Madness

No, this isn’t a post about basketball. It’s more a look back at the first two weeks of the month, which have felt more than a little crazy and hectic. I spent the first weekend of the month at Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios, which was, as always, a great experience. Panels went well and we sold a lot of books. I then went home for a day, unpacked from the convention, and repacked for the Tucson Festival of Books and a shift at Kitt Peak. I spent the next three days at Kitt Peak, then went down to the Tucson Festival of Books where I had more awesome panels, albeit fewer book sales, returned to Kitt Peak for a night and a half of work, then finally returned home.

Since returning home, I’ve been proofreading some projects that I’ll talk about in more detail in the coming weeks, restocking books for El Paso Comic Con, and doing a little work around the house. One nice thing about how my schedule has worked out this month is that I’m off work for the week of my daughter’s spring break. So, we’ll be taking a short trip to spend a little time together, see some sights, and visit friends around New Mexico.

Juggling all these events, projects, and even my two careers in the last two weeks has certainly brought to mind the aphorism “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” I don’t know how lamb-like the end of the month will be, but I hope it’ll be a little quieter than the beginning. Of course, all these projects also make me feel “mad as a March hare” at times.

In keeping with the season, I watched Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon this week. In the movie, Toshiro Mifune turns in a delightfully manic performance which reminded me more than a little of his work in Seven Samurai. It was also a delight to see Takashi Shimura, who would also go on to play in both Seven Samurai and Godzilla. My reason for watching the film is that my friend Eric Schumacher was recently in a film called Tombstone Rashomon which tells the story of the gunfight of O.K. Corral from the eyes of several witnesses, much like the original Rashomon. Eric played Doc Holliday. A picture of him in the role on my wall has been serving as an inspiration for the Doc Holliday scenes in my forthcoming novel Owl Riders.

Although Owl Riders isn’t yet available, the second edition of my novel The Solar Sea is set to release on the first day of spring, March 21. You can get a sneak peak and preorder the ebook today at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BHFS2WV/

Wild Wild West Con 2018

It’s time once again for Wild Wild West Con, which has grown into one of the largest, regular steampunk conventions in the United States. I will be there giving presentations, running a workshop, and on panels. I will be vending in the Stage 2 Dealer’s Area with the ever fabulous Chief Inspector Erasmus Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell.

This year’s Saturday night concert features DEVM and Abney Park. There will be tea dueling, make and take workshops, fun activities for kids, plus all the regular attractions of Old Tucson Studios. Old Tucson is the place where many famous western films were made including Rio Bravo, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and Tombstone. It’s fabulous to see these famous western sets occupied by people in steampunk attire. It always gives me another year of steampunk inspiration.

I will be at Wild Wild West Con all three days. My schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 2

    2pm – Steampunk Authors – Panel Tent. The authors of Wild Wild West Con will gather to discuss their experiences, the state of the genre, and how you can succeed as a Steampunk author. Diesel Jester and I will be there for sure. We’ll see who else we can round up to share the stage with us!

Saturday, March 3

    11am – Robots are from Mars. Dinosaurs are from Venus – Courtroom Center. This presentation is a look at the astronomy of the Victorian era, what people thought life on alien planets was like, and how it influenced the science fiction of the day, and perhaps introduce you to some authors you’ve never heard of before!

    2pm – Meet and Greet – Aristocrat Lounge. Diesel Jester and I are scheduled for an author meet and greet, open to those folks who purchased Aristocrat tickets to the convention. It’s a great chance to sit down, have a cool drink, and ask us questions. Who knows? Maybe you can persuade us to read something to you!

Sunday, March 4

    12pm – Dinosaurs and Robots in Verse – Chapel. I will be leading a poetry workshop. I have a few exercises and fun prompts that will let you create your own poems about steampunk robots, dinosaurs and more. Also, I will note that poems created at these workshops have gone on to achieve publication.

Also at the convention this year will be Hadrosaur Productions author David B. Riley who will be presenting several panels. His book Legends of the Dragon Cowboys will be available at our table.

Wild Wild West Con is being held in Tucson at Old Tucson Studios during the day and at the Doubletree Hotel, Tucson Airport this Friday through Sunday, March 2-4, 2018. For more information about the convention, visit http://wildwestcon.com

The Wild West I Wished For

Today, I’m excited to be at the Tucson Festival of Books at the University of Arizona campus in Tucson. It’s a free event, so if you’re in the area, I hope you’ll drop by. I’m participating in two panels this weekend and will be available after both to sign books.

Last weekend, I was at Wild Wild West Con, at Old Tucson Studios where many classic westerns were filmed. When I grew up, my parents were big fans of westerns. My mom, in particular, was always delighted to find a good “shoot-em-up” on television during a Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, I wasn’t much of a fan of westerns, at least not at first. It wasn’t until I discovered TV series like The Wild Wild West and Kung Fu that westerns began to click for me. As a kid, I loved science fiction and the former mixed tropes I found familiar into the western backdrop, which helped me take notice. The latter took the clash of cultures that often happened in the west seriously and I could see similarities between that world and the multicultural world of Southern California I lived in at the time.

A lot of these elements come to life at Wild Wild West Con. The event started for me on Thursday night at opening ceremonies, where I got to catch up with some old friends from other steampunk conventions. The next morning, I drove out to Old Tucson Studios to unload books. This year, the authors were housed in the building where they filmed the exteriors for the show High Chaparral. Here you see my Smart Car parked out front!

One of the things I love about steampunk conventions is getting to see the wonderful things people have built for costume or display. This year, outside of High Chaparral, was a display of steampunk vehicles. I thought this one could almost be a reinterpretation of Larissa Crimson’s invention from Lightning Wolves, or an evolved version of the vehicle.

The person who built this amazing vehicle is David Lee, principal artist of Hatton Cross Steampunk. He’s also the man behind the mask of Steampunk Darth Vader in the short films Trial of the Mask and Mask of Vengeance. Perhaps it’s not surprising that every now and then people confuse the two of us in correspondence. So it was a pleasure to finally meet David Lee and I was delighted to find him a pleasant person, as many people in the steampunk community prove to be.

In addition to meeting Steampunk Darth Vader, I also had the opportunity to meet Sam Jones, who played Flash Gordon in the campy 1980 movie. I also enjoyed meeting the creators of the comic book Proteus about steampunk fish people who live in the sunken Atlantis. The creators are all cosplayers and came dressed as their characters.

One of the things I’ve always appreciated about steampunk is how it sometimes imagines a more civilized version of Victorian and Wild West times. One of the ways that manifests is through the sport of tea dueling. In a tea duel, participants dunk a cookie in a cup of hot tea for a set amount of time. The last one to eat the cookie without it falling apart and soiling their clothes is the winner. At many steampunk events the masters of ceremonies are Madame Askew and the Grand Arbiter. Here we see them with my daughter who is a tea dueling contestant. Not only was my daughter a contestant, she proved to be Wild Wild West Con’s tea dueling champion!

One of my goals as a writer is to inspire the imagination of people who play in steampunk worlds. What’s more, going to steampunk events helps to inspire my creativity. Wild Wild West Con came at the perfect time as I’m moving into the middle portion of my new novel Owl Riders. For me, that’s right about the point I need a little boost to keep the energy flowing. Right after Wild Wild West Con, I learned that my first steampunk novel was released as an audio book, narrated by Edward Mittelstedt. The book is available for download at Audible.com. If you’re a fan of audio books, I do hope you’ll join me for a journey into the wild west I wished for.

Wild Wild West Con 6

Next weekend, I’ll be a participating author at Wild Wild West Con in Tucson Arizona! The event is being held from March 3-5 at Old Tucson Studios. Among this year’s guests are Thomas Willeford from the TV show Steampunk’d and Sam Jones from the movie Flash Gordon. There will be workshops, panel discussions, and evening concerts. The bands performing include The Cog is Dead, Frenchy and the Punk, and Celtica – Pipes Rock. For more information about the event be sure to visit the convention’s web page at: http://wildwestcon.com

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This year’s theme is “Cthulhu for President.” My schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, March 3

  • Noon-1pm – Aristocrat Lounge – Reading. I will be in the Aristocrat Lounge to entertain people with a steampunk story inspired by the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • 2pm-3pm – Arizona Theater – Invaders from the Depths of Space. Percival Lowell’s observations of canals on Mars led to stories of invasion from space and ultimately helped to lay the foundation for the Cthulhu Mythos. A look at the science that gave rise to a literary movement.
  • 4pm-5pm – Courtroom Center – Steampunk Authors. The authors attending Wild Wild West Con talk about their process creating the steampunk stories you love.

Saturday, March 4

  • 11am-Noon – Chapel – Steampunk and the Cthulhu Mythos. Writers discuss the Cthulhu Mythos, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and how they can be brought together with the steampunk aesthetic to create new tales of terror.
  • 1pm-2pm – Aristocrat Lounge – Reading. A special event for those who purchased Aristocrat tickets, Diesel Jester and I will read from our works. This reading is flagged for adults only.

Sunday, March 5

  • Noon-1pm – Sheriff’s Office – The Weird Wild West. Weird Westerns are stories that imagine strange happenings in the Wild West. Authors discuss how they are they similar and different from steampunk stories. Can they be one and the same?

If you’re in Southern Arizona next weekend, I hope to see you at Wild Wild West Con. When I’m not on panels, you can find me at High Chaparral where I’ll be selling my books.

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.

Science, Magic, and Music in the Old West

Earlier this month, I was honored to be one of the author guests at the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention held at Old Tucson Studios. Many classic western films were shot at Old Tucson, so it’s a great place to immerse oneself in the whole steampunk experience. The weather was beautiful for the event and, for the most part, my panels and events were standing room only.

Wild Wild West Con 3

On Friday of the convention, I spoke about how Mars became a place in people’s imaginations during the Victorian age. Of course, there is a strong wild west side to this story. Percival Lowell looked for clear, high dry skies to observe Mars and he established an observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. He then went on to document the planet’s non-existent canals. Nicola Tesla came out west to Colorado to establish a laboratory and thought he detected radio signals from the red planet. All of it helped people see Mars as a place, even if those scientists didn’t interpret their observations correctly.

Martian Presentation

Friday night, I attended a wonderful show featuring the bellydance performance troupe Osiris, the magician Dyno Staats, and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. The bellydancers captivated my daughter and Dyno’s magic was fun. Although Dyno and I know each other, his assistant hadn’t met me and I was pulled up for one of the tricks, which was a delight. Several of the Nathaniel Johnstone Band’s songs were inspired by folktales and mythology, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Nathaniel Johnstone Band

On Saturday, I participated in two different writer’s panels. The first was Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing, in which two writers and two audience members created stories on the fly from prompts provided by writers Erasmus Drake and Sparky McTrowell. Later that day, I was on a writing panel with Dashing David Grasse, and Muffy Morrigan. While all of this was going on, my daughter in a fit of mad genius constructed her very own automaton.

Verity and Friend

On Sunday, I wrapped things up with Dyno Staats on the Victorian Magic and Science panel, where we discussed how science and magic influenced and changed each other through the nineteenth century. We’ve given this presentation at a few different conventions now and I always learn new things.

David and Dyno

In addition to the panels I participated in, there were plenty of other events. David Grasse taught participants how to play faro. There was lots of tea dueling. There were many workshops where people made items to take with them. There were lots of vendors selling everything from steampunk crafts, to clothes, to books. All in all, there was a little something for everyone who either was already a fan of steampunk or was looking to learn more about it.

Revolution of Air and Rust

As it turns out, I sold out of the first edition of my novel Owl Dance at Wild Wild West Con, but the new edition is on its way. I’ll be sure to post details when I have them. In the meantime, be sure to check out my steampunk novella Revolution of Air and Rust in which Pancho Villa falls into a parallel universe while fighting against forces from the United States and finds a new weapon. The novella is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wild Wild West Con 3

Only one week to go before Wild Wild West Con 3, which is held at Old Tucson Studios, outside of Tucson, Arizona. This is a great steampunk convention held at the location where many classic films and TV series were filmed, including the two Wild Wild West TV movies from the 1970s.

David and Myranda

This year, Wild Wild West Con features concerts by Steam Powered Giraffe, The Nathaniel Johnstone Band, The Cog is Dead, and Professor Elemental. Dyno Staats will be performing his magic and there will be lots of panels and workshops. You can get all the info at: wwwc3c.oom

My schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 7

    1pm at the Sheriff’s Office – Mars: A Land Across the Aether – A look at Victorian astronomers Percival Lowell and Nathaniel Green who did important work understanding Mars in the nineteenth century. Percival Lowell was the son of rich industrialists who owned an observatory in Arizona. In addition to being an astronomer, Nathaniel Green was a landscape painter and Queen Victoria’s tutor. Who had the most accurate vision of Mars?

Saturday, March 8

    2pm at the Courtroom – Sparky and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. Two teams will engage in a madcap writing event taking turns “writing” a story. It will be both instructional and fun, and has an emphasis on audience participation. Inspector Erasmus L. Drake and Dr. Sparky L. McTrowell have asked me to join them for this thrilling writing challenge. You should join us as well. It will be fun, or as Dyno Staats says, “Something could go horribly wrong!”

    4pm at High Chaparral – Steampunk Authors – Steampunk and history writers Muffy Morrigan, David Grasse, and David Lee Summers gather to discuss the challenges of researching, writing, and creating. What works. What doesn’t work. Are there new challenges to getting your work published? How do you keep your steampunk writing fresh and topical? How do you find the topic for your next book?

Sunday, March 9

    2pm at High Chaparral – Steampunk Magic and Science – Magician Dyno Staats and Astronomer David Lee Summers look at the worlds of Victorian era magic and science and explore the ways they advanced together.

When I’m not at these awesome events, you’ll find me over at the Stage-II Vendor Area where I’ll have an assortment of my Steampunk and Wild West books available. Come by say “Howdy!”

Wild Wild West Con and Tucson Festival of Books

I spent the weekend of March 9 and 10 at two wonderful events in Tucson, Arizona. The first was Wild Wild West Con, a steampunk convention held at Old Tucson Studios. The other was the Tucson Festival of Books held at the University of Arizona.

My weekend really got started on Friday, March 8, as I drove down to Tucson from work at Kitt Peak National Observatory. A storm was blowing over Southern Arizona and I left just as snow was starting to fall at higher elevation. I dropped by Old Tucson and picked up some postcards from my friend Katherine Morse, one of the authors of The Adventures of Drake and McTrowell, to distribute at the Tucson Festival of Books. (Go visit their website for exciting steampunk adventures!)

The morning of Saturday, March 9 started early. Marina Martindale and I shared a booth at the Tucson Festival of Books and my wife and kids were along to help. We set up the booth, then my daughter Myranda and I drove over to Wild Wild West Con. We spent some time looking through the array of dealers and got our photo taken with Archimedes the Owl by Greg Ewald.

David and Myranda

We then moved into a busy afternoon of panels and workshops. I sat on a steampunk authors panel with the other two writer guests, Thomas Willeford and Muffy Morrigan. We talked about steampunk fiction and nonfiction. Steampunk is such a great area for people who like to make things that “how-to” books are very big in the genre. Of course, steampunk fiction is also growing as people push the boundaries of the genre. For example, do you include magic in your steampunk world, or is it purely based on known science and technology. We agreed that whatever course you steer, you should make sure you know the rules of your world and abide by them!

Writer's Panel

After the panel, I was interviewed by Arizona Public Media. We spoke mostly about how my background with early twentieth century astronomical instrumentation has contributed to my love of Steampunk.

Myranda and I then grabbed a quick lunch and I went over to the Sheriff’s Office to present a Steampunk Poetry Workshop. I have been finding that these Steampunk Poetry Workshops have been well attended. I suspect some of that comes from the fact that music is such an important part of the Steampunk subculture and, of course, poetry is really the basis of song and music. People who attended the workshop left with poems or poems in progress and some thoughts about new things they could do with their writing.

My final presentation of the day was Astronomy in the Victorian Age. I’ve given this presentation before, but this time I was in a place where I had no multimedia, so I had to do everything with demonstrations and hard copy pictures. One thing that was nice was that I found a demonstration that allows one to see how absorption spectra work using diffraction grating glasses and Christmas lights. Again, I had a good, engaged crowd who brought lots of good questions.

The night finished up with a concert by Professor Elemental, Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park. Wow! Talk about a dream team of the Steampunk music scene. They were all wonderful and I returned to my friend’s house that night absolutely exhausted.

TFB Booth

I spent the next day at the Tucson Festival of Books. As I mentioned above, Marina Martindale and I both decided to share a booth to show off our books. We spent the day visiting with people who came by. I was able to make the rounds and see several friends at other booths. Notably, I had a very nice visit with Scott Glener and Sue Thing at the TusCon Booth where we made plans for a very special workshop at the upcoming science fiction convention. I was also pleased to see writer friends such as Marsheila Rockwell, Gini Koch, Jeff Mariotte, Frankie Robertson and Roxy Rogers.

Fortunately, the rain never got very bad and Sunday was actually rather pleasant. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and I was pleased that I could take part in two such wonderful events!

Big Weekend in Tucson!

Gary with Wings

Two wonderful events are coming to Tucson, Arizona on the weekend of March 8, 9 and 10. The first is Wild Wild West Con, which will be held at Old Tucson Studios on all three days. The other is the Tucson Festival of Books which will be held at the University of Arizona on March 9 and 10. I’m fortunate enough to be able to attend both events. If you’ll be in the area, I hope you’ll join me. Learn more about the events, venues, and people mentioned by clicking the links throughout the post.

Tucson Festival of Books

My company, Hadrosaur Productions, will be sharing booth 106 with Marina Martindale’s Good Oak Press. We’ll be under the banner “Martindale and Summers.” We’ll have our complete line of books available along with my novels that have been published by other houses. My wife, Kumie Wise, will be manning the area with Marina on Saturday, March 9. I will be at the booth all day on Sunday, March 10. We’d love to see you whichever day you arrive!

Wild Wild West Con

Wild Wild West Con is a Steampunk convention held at Old Tucson Studios, just outside Tucson, Arizona. It features make-and-take workshops, panel discussions, and concerts by such luminaries as Steam Powered Giraffe and Abney Park. I will be there all day on Saturday, March 9. Here’s my tentative schedule of panels and presentations:

  • Steampunk Authors with Thomas Willeford, Muffy Morrigan in the Chapel at Noon.
  • Steampunk Poetry – Make and Take Your Own Poem in the Sheriff’s Office at 2:00pm
  • Astronomy in the Victorian Age in the Sheriff’s Office at 4:00pm.

I was also a participant at the very first Wild Wild West Con in 2011 and it was a blast. If you’re in Tucson next weekend, I hope you get a chance to sample one or preferably both of these wonderful events!