Myths & Legends Con 2016 – Panel Schedule

MALCon 2016 is just around the corner — like, four days away! Here is my official MALCon panel schedule for those who are interested. It’s going to be a busy con! The convention will be taking place at the Ramada in Northglenn, CO, just off 120th and I-25, from August 12 through August 14. The items in parentheses are the room names where the panels will be convening.

Friday, August 12, 2016
7:00 PM: Critique Groups: Care and Feeding Without Getting Your Hand Bitten (Lawrence, KS)
Christopher Katava, J.A. Campbell, Stace Johnson
Many (most?) established authors will recommend “the right” critique group for aspiring writers. What are some of the things to look for and pitfalls to avoid? Be wary and be wise by knowing how to get yourself into the right company.

9:00 PM: Polyamory and Non-monogamy in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Serenity)
Emily Godhand, Nancy Kay Clark, Stace Johnson, Tanya Hixson
Panelists will review SFF genre fiction throughout the decades with non-monogamous and polyamorous themes and how they have influenced current lifestyle trends.

10:00 PM: Verse in the ‘Verse: Poetry and the Firefly Universe (Nevernever)
Stace Johnson
Readings of fan poetry, impromptu Firefly poetry, and any poetry based on Firefly topics. Bring your material to share or provide prompts to the panelists.

—- —- —-

Saturday, August 13, 2016
9:00 AM: Science Fiction or Science Fact (Serenity)
Brian Ziman, Stace Johnson, Veronica Calisto
How to make Sci-Fi more believable. The Plausibility of Sci-Fi concepts found in places like Firefly, Doctor Who and others.

11:00 AM: Commission Work: Designing Others’ Visions (Lawrence, KS)
Kathryn Renta, Sarin Tatroe, Stace Johnson, Tawny Fritz
Why is it so hard to design for someone else’s vision? Why have some of us given up on commission work all together?

12:00 PM: Writing in the 21st Century: What can we do now that we couldn’t do before? (The Shire)
Aaron Michael Ritchey, Stace Johnson, Tonya L. De Marco
Are there topics, characters, or situations that we can write about now that were taboo or forbidden in the past?

3:00 PM: Heroes and Monsters: What Separates the Two? (The Shire)
Paul Lell, Stace Johnson, Tonya L. De Marco
In modern and ancient times, there are figures who straddle the lines, being both monstrous and heroic. What separates the two; is monstrousness something characters are born to or do they have a choice; and are heroes those who are born to it or do they transcend their own monstrousness to become great.

6:00 PM: Story in an Hour (Serenity)
Carolyn Kay, Lou J Berger, Stace Johnson
Panelists and the audience will collaborate in a one-hour fun adventure, outlining a new story together.

10:00 PM: Incorporating Familiar Yet Larger than Life Characters into Fictional Worlds (Helms Deep)
Stace Johnson, Tonya L. De Marco
Writing fictional worlds means creating characters and situations to keep the reader engaged, but where is the balance? How to incorporate larger-than-life characters that are relatable yet interesting.

—- —- —-

Sunday, August 14, 2016
9:00 AM: Learn to Love Your Writing (Serenity)
Christopher Katava, Kevin Frost, LJ Hachmeister, Mike Cervantes, Stace Johnson
Everyone is their own worst critic. Stop worrying and love your writing: a motivational panel. How to stop hesitating because you feel you work isn’t “good enough” and put words on the paper.

12:00 PM: Marketing for Writers (Serenity)
Aaron Michael Ritchey, Kimberly Kennedy, Stace Johnson
Don’t publishers handle all that marketing mumbo jumbo? In this booming era of indie authors, hybrids, and small presses, what does it take to get your name out there? How does a writer market him or herself?

 

Share this post:

A Thing of Shining Beauty

I watched the International Space Station fly over again tonight.  As I scanned the western sky, she leaped out from behind Venus and arched over my house, a thing of shining beauty slipping between clouds, stars, and silhouettes of trees.  She passed from the muted blue of dusk through the gradient into night, and I smiled.  In her wake, I felt hope. I felt peace and inspiration, and the wonder that Ray Bradbury had awakened in me when I was a child.

Nature’s beauty is always there, but sometimes it takes a pinpoint of light to make me look.

Share this post:

Perseids

We went out to watch the Perseids last night, an activity I’ve long done with my kids.  Last night was the first time my wife joined us, though.  We leaned back and watched the sky, holding each other, overwhelmed.

There’s something about being out under the summer sky, with a breeze blowing and earthgrazers leaving streaks between the stars, that draws people together.  Maybe it’s the feeling of comfort we get from connecting with another against the vastness of the universe.  Maybe it calls up ancestral memories of pristine skies, kicking in primal instincts.

Whatever it is, it’s downright erotic.

Share this post:

Lunar Eclipse

Tomorrow evening, a total lunar eclipse will occur. Unfortunately for those of us in the Rocky Mountains and further west, it will be nearly over when the moon rises at 5:53 PM, and the umbra will have receded from the disk by 6:12 PM. People east of the Mississippi will be luckier; they will get to see more of the eclipse.

That’s too bad for us. The last time we saw a total lunar eclipse was October 27, 2004. My girlfriend (now wife) and I took the kids out east of the main city lights to a prairie dog preserve and watched the moon turn a deep red, as in this composite picture from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. That night is a wonderful memory, and a keystone of our relationship.

The ancients were right; magic is enhanced by a reddened moon.

Share this post:

21 Years Ago Today

It was a cold Tuesday morning at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. I had attended an early morning honors class synthesizing history, economics and science, and was heading back across campus to hang out in the music lounge between classes. Elsewhere in the world, Space Shuttle Challenger had embarked on STS-51-L, notable because civilian teacher Christa McAuliffe was on board. Chicago was still celebrating Da Bears‘ Superbowl XX win the preceding Sunday.

As I walked by the campus library, I noticed that the flag was at half mast. Odd, I thought. Something big must have happened. At that time, I was also part of the news staff at the campus radio station, KDUR, so I changed direction and headed for the practicum studio.

When I walked into the studio, the Teletype machine (those machines that make the clunking sounds behind the music at the beginning of news shows) was ringing almost non stop and continuously spitting out lines of text in all capitals. In the days of the Teletype, five bells indicated either a bulletin or an urgent follow-up to a prior bulletin, and were very rare. Even more rare was a ten bell flash; these were reserved for cataclysmic events, such as the assassination of President Kennedy. I learned later that the Teletype at the radio station had received one ten-bell flash, and all the subsequent updates were five-bell follow-ups. I entered in the midst of the follow-ups.

Only one person was manning the station at the time, and he was frantic. I asked what was going on, and he said, “The space shuttle blew up.” I started grabbing slips of the Teletype paper and organizing them by time stamp so I could see the sequence of events and hand the most significant ones to the deejay.

After things calmed down a bit, I started thinking about what angle I would take on my news story about the disaster. The basic facts had already been covered repeatedly by all the news outlets, and I wanted to do something different with my story. Having been a fan of the space program for most of my life, I thought back to prior space disasters, and wondered if there were any similarities to the Challenger disaster.

I found no significant similarities in the causes of prior disasters, namely Apollo 1 and Apollo 13, but I did find that the Apollo 1 disaster took place on almost the same day as the Challenger disaster. Apollo 1 burned on the launch pad during a January 27, 1967 test, nineteen years (almost to the day) prior.

Little did I know at the time that the space program would be derailed for nearly three years after the Challenger disaster. I fully expected that they would be back in full swing within a few months, as NASA had been after Apollo 1. In the three years following Apollo 1, NASA launched numerous missions, culminating in the ultimate goal of landing on the moon in July of 1969. After Challenger, shuttles would be grounded until the launch of Discovery on September 29, 1988 and mission STS-26. (After Challenger, NASA returned to the original Space Transportation System numbering scheme that they had used until the 1983 Columbia STS-9 launch.)

All of the astronauts on STS-51-L knew the risks inherent in space flight, including Christa McAuliffe, and they chose to fly anyway. I think that was noble, and I choose to remember them as heroes and explorers who died in the course of expanding human knowledge.

Share this post: