Dec 6

There Comes A Day...

...when a decision you know is inevitable must be made. When going one way is impossible, and going the other breaks your heart. For me, that day came this week.

If you know me or have been reading here for any time at all, you know how much I love the convention known as Dragon Con. Except for two years when WorldCon, where I had to be while on the SFWA Board of Directors, fell on the same weekend, Dragon Con has been, professionally and personally, the highlight of every convention year since 2008.

But it goes beyond that. Dragon Con has been a family reunion and gathering of the clan. It’s been spending time in the company of people who had my back, made me laugh, facilitated experiences that I would never have dreamed I’d be part of, and been there with what I needed when I needed it to do what I do. Friends who fit the definition of “family of the heart”.

The decision I’d been putting off couldn’t be put off any longer. The upper body strength that, as a wheelchair-using paraplegic, I’ve been relying on has been degrading over the year or so. Strength and stamina have likewise decreased. Solo travel and the physical stresses of a weeklong, 80,000-attendee convention spread out over multiple hotels and venues has become more than my body can handle.

I’m still able to work smaller, shorter conventions, and will be doing so. But not Dragon Con. That day has passed.

For all the wonderful memories, to my DC family, friends, and fans - thank you for everything. It was one hell of a good ride.

Nov 27

And That’s A Wrap!

The final convention on my 2019 schedule is now a happy memory, in what was a very special travel year for me. It began in February with the 10th Anniversary AnachroCon, on the theme of “Time Travelers’ Ball” and in the company of many of my Atlanta con family. The first convention of the year is always a joy, and one that encourages me to pack a bit of costuming even better.

In May, I guested at the final gathering of Wholanta!, a convention that’s been near and dear to my heart since Atlanta fandom seduced me into the world of Doctor Who in 2007. Many happy memories of that convention over the years, and I’m going to miss it.

Also in May, it was out to Los Angeles for the Nebula Awards Weekend, where my volunteer work for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was recognized with the 2019 Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award. To say this means the world to me is putting it mildly. I managed *not* to cry, but it was a very near thing.

The week around Labor Day Weekend saw me, once again, at Dragon Con, where I did two sold-out sessions of the “Killer Openings” workshop, a mentoring session, and a full schedule of excellent panels. I’ve loved this convention every year I’ve attended, and this year was no exception.

In October, I guested at the inaugural year of MultiVerseCon. Fun panels, good people, and great conversations in between my various scheduled events. This convention is off to a good start, and I look forward to returning. Plus the added fun of getting to introduce The Mighty Himself and the aforementioned Atlanta con family to each other.

And, finally, headed to Lombard, IL to serve as ToastMistress for WindyCon in Lombard, IL. And what a splendid time was had. These folks know how to throw a convention and spoil their GoHs, and every minute was a delight. Many thanks to Kerry Kuhn, Con Chairman, and a crack cadre of volunteers for all their many kindnesses to me and The Mighty Himself. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. November in the Chicago area is not for wimps, but I learned the joys of lap robes and multiple layers.

The traveling boots are drying by the fire, the suitcases have been put away for a few months, and I’m charging headfirst into the holidays with a very satisfied smile. It was a glorious year.

Nov 9

One More For The Road

The curtain is about to come down on my 2019 convention season, but not before one last, very special engagement. I’ll be serving as ToastMistress for WindyCon 2019, Nov 15 - 17 at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, IL in the Chicago area. To say I am both honored and excited is putting it mildly.

Consider the most excellent company I’ll be in, including:

Author GoH: Elizabeth Moon Artist GoH: Mitchell Bentley Science GoH: Geoffrey Landis Musical GoHs: The Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly Kitt Fan GoH: Chris M. Barkley Special Guest: Eric Flint

And there’s what I’ll be getting into, according to the schedule:

On Friday at 7:00pm, Opening Ceremonies, wherein we get this party started.

On Saturday, I’ll be signing and visiting with folks from 11:00am to noon. Then I have about an hour to get into my fencing gear and warmed up for Fencing GoHs at 1:00pm with Geoffrey Landis, Mary A. Turzillo, and Elizabeth Moon. Yes, there will be pointy steel put to use in a variety of styles. Then at 6:00pm, in an hour called What Makes a Good Space Opera, I’ll have the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Moon.

My Sunday begins with a reading from 10:00am - 11:00am and concludes with Closing Ceremonies at 2:00pm.

I can’t think of a more perfect way to finish off the year’s schedule.

Oct 7

Gearing Up For MultiverseCon

With very few exceptions, I enjoy working first-time conventions. Certainly, I’ve seen my share of disasters, but I’ve also seen the first year turn into the second and on to a long tradition. And it’s a lot of fun to be part of that. Which is why I’m looking forward to MultiverseCon’s inaugural weekend. So far, the folks behind this one seem to be doing things right.

My schedule certainly looks like a lot of fun. Here’s what I’ll be up to:

Friday October 18

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm: Opening Ceremonies. Meet the ConComm! Meet the Guests of Honor! Hear about some of the fun in store for us! And we’re OFF!

2:30 pm to 3:30 pm: So You Want to Write. A good panel for new and aspiring writers to learn more about being a writer from veteran writers. Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Lee Martindale (M), Rena Mason, Seanan McGuire, Jarvis Sheffield

Saturday, October 19

11:30 am to 12:30 pm: Reading: Darin Kennedy and Lee Martindale. I’m leaning toward reading “Combat Shopping”, but that could change.

2:30 pm to 3:30 pm: Place As Character. The write-up: “Urban fantasy often delights its audience by setting stories in places they know like New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York. How important is Place to the authors of Urban Fantasy and how important is it that those places be from the real world or is approximation enough? Panelists: Stuart Jaffe, Kyoko M (M), Lee Martindale, L.L. McKinney

5:30 pm to 6:30 pm: Accessibility in Futuristic Societies. The write-up: “Accessibility is not just about bigger bathrooms or assistive devices. Creating welcoming environments for people with differing abilities and challenges is vital to a well-functioning society. From dampening loud noises for people with autism or PTSD, to strengthening floors for people wearing exoskeletons, panelists will discuss ways future societies can apply advancements to ensure everyone has what they need to thrive. Panelists: Meg Elison, Tiara Janté, Lee Martindale (M), Josh Roseman, Alex White

Sunday, October 20

10:00 am to 11:00 am: Beyond The Sword. The write-up: “The sword has a central place in fantasy. Panelists will discuss the swords they love and the swords they hate and what weapons from other cultures might fill the place the sword currently holds in fantasy. Panelists: Paige L. Christie, Milton Davis (M), Lee Martindale, Balogun Ojetade

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm: The Outsiders. The write-up: “Inclusion has become a large and important area of focus in fantasy. How do you write characters from outside your own experience? How do you avoid the pitfalls of stale, stereotypical characterizations that depend on old tropes that have become unviable in storytelling and bring something fresh and new to the genre? The panel will discuss writing characters from outside your culture, gender, and orientation. Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Kyoko M, Lee Martindale (M), Errick Nunnally

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm: Closing Ceremonies.

Aug 27

Workshop News

Preregistration for my "Writing Killer Openings" workshops at Dragon Con 2019 has closed, and the news is making me smile. Thursday afternoon's session is completely SOLD OUT!

There are, as of this posting, 10 slots open for the Friday morning session that will be available for sale at the door. If last year's response is any indication, these won't last long.

A grand way to start my Dragon Con.

Aug 21

And Another Thing.....

My final schedule for DragonCon arrived and included an addition to my schedule. And it’s a goodie!

Sunday, Sept 1: Dealin' with the Devil. Getting published really doesn’t involve Faustian bargains. Editors and agents discuss what they look for from new writers. Panelists: Lucienne Diver, Anne Sowards, Steve Saffel, Claire M. Eddy, Jonathan Maberry, Chris A Jackson, Lee Martindale(M)

What a grand way to finish out my DragonCon 2019!

Aug 6

Hearing The Rustle of Dragon Wings

It’s that time of year again. Lists are being made. The BattleChariot is getting a good checking out. Electronics are being paired with their chargers are being tested. I’m banking a little extra sleep against upcoming nights of not nearly enough. And my tentative programming schedule has arrived. DragonCon is less than a month away!

Here’s what currently on my schedule:

Thursday, Aug 29

1:00pm - 3:30pm: Writing Killer Openings Workshop. No better way to kick off my DragonCon than by warping young writer minds and, hopefully, improving slush piles near and far. Live exercises, on-the-spot critiques by yours truly, and fun will be had by all. At last report, there were still spots available. Check it out at https://www.dragoncon.org/things-to-do/programming/workshops/#killer

The evening will be spent with friends from the Costuming Track.

Friday, Aug 30

10:00am - 12:30pm: Writing Killer Openings Workshop. No, you’re not seeing double. Last year, there were so many on the waiting list that, this year, it was decided to add a second session. Same as above, including there being spots still available and where to check it out.

2:30pm - 3:30pm: Why We Read. So many reasons, so little time to talk about why we pick up a book.

Saturday, Aug 31

1:00pm - 2:00pm: Edit, Edit, Edit--& Edit Some More. The “heavy lifting” begins after you type The End on the first draft. Seasoned pros talk about their approach to the revision process. Panelists: R.R. Virdi, Lee Martindale (M), Trisha J. Wooldridge, Patricia Briggs, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Clay and Susan Griffith

5:30pm - 6:30pm: Writing for Today's Savvy Audiences. How do you catch the attention of today’s more sophisticated readers and keep them coming back for more? Panelists: Jonathan Maberry, Cinda Williams Chima, John G. Hartness, Lee Martindale

7:00pm - 8:00pm: Reading. They’re turning me loose for an hour with an audience and my stories. Which story I’ll read hasn’t been decided yet.

Sunday, Sept 1

11:30am - 12:30pm: Who Needs Research? One writer’s casual toss-off of a minor detail can be the reason a reader stops reading if it’s wrong. There’s isn’t a genre out there where it doesn’t happen. We’ll discuss how to research and when to stop and start writing. Panelists: Lee Martindale, D.J. Butler, Marc Alan Edelheit, Declan Finn, John L. Flynn (M), K.N. Lee (M)

1:00pm - 2:00pm: 15-Minute Mentor Session: A chance for budding authors to talk one-on-one with a successful industry professional about business, promotion, the writing process, & career advice. Sign up in the Writer's Track. (Embassy C-D)

4:00pm - 5:00pm: Author Signing: Come by and say hello!

As I said above, this is going to be fun. And having all of Monday free (so far!) may give me a chance to catch a panel or two or catch up with friends. I definitely want to catch one of Tom Smith’s concerts some time during the weekend. And who knows what other mischief I might get into. It’s DragonCon, after all!

Jun 25

A Gentle Reminder

Are you a writer? Are you going to DragonCon? Would you like to sharpen your skills in grabbing the reader’s attention right off the bat? Thanks to the success of last year’s sold-out-and-then-some “Writing Killer Openings” workshop, I’ll be teaching two sessions during DragonCon 2019. We’ll use live exercises and individual critiques to help students get out of the slush pile and into shopping carts.

Students signing up can chose either the Thursday, Aug. 29th session at 1:00pm or the Friday, Aug. 30th session at 10:00am. There’s a hard limit of 20 students per session. If last year’s response is any indication, advanced registration is highly recommended.

For further information, see http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=Acting_Workshop

Jun 22

How The Hell Did THIS Happen?

I wasn’t supposed to live this long, according to five doctors (the first when I was 8 years old) and one unidentified staff member in the office of a sixth who predicted I’d “be dead in five years” if I didn’t do what they told me to do and take whatever prescription drugs they wanted me to take. I’ve managed to outlive all five doctors, and that unidentified staff member in the office of the sixth isn’t looking too good.

This weekend I'm turning 70, and I'm still here.

Jun 13

Look What Followed Me Home!

This thing of beauty is the Kevin J. O’Donnell Service to SFWA Award, given by the President and Board of Directors of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Award in recognition of exemplary service by a member to the organization and fellow members. I was very proud to be honored as its recipient at the 2019 Nebula Conference in Los Angeles.

Service to SFWA Award.jpg

I was firmly convinced that I blithered during my acceptance remarks, but you can judge for yourself. The presentation begins at around the 30:42 mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIVD3nNF8d0

Jun 11

Going Out In Style

I knew, going in, that the last Wholanta was going to be emotional. It has been one of the highlights of my convention year for over a decade. I’ve collected a bushel of one-of-a-kind memories over the years that will always make me smile. Selfish as it may be, I simply did not want it to end.

But if it had to, Wholanta’s final bow was a good one. Excellent programming across multiple tracks, delightful conversations all over the place (including many with Jon Davey, the actor beneath a bunch of my favorite Doctor Who monsters and aliens), and a happy mix of old friends and new. In short, everything that’s made it a grand gathering year after year.

Intellectually, I know that conrunners get tired and need a break. I know that it’s entirely possible that, as they’ve said, Wholanta is ending “for now” and could rise again in a few years. I hope so. Because, if a mad individual steps out of a blue police box and beckons me to come aboard, I’ll say yes. In a heartbeat.

Apr 24

One More Time

I’m prepping and packing for Wholanta and, throughout the process, a song has been running through my head. It’s from the musical Serafina!, although I first encountered it in a 1989 movie called Sing. In both shows, the song serves the plotline of diaspora, celebrating what has been before moving on to what might be.

The folks behind Wholanta have announced that this convention’s fourteenth year will be its last “for a while”. What that means, we don’t know. What we do know if that this one is shaping up to go out in grand style. And I have a tasty programming schedule as Exhibit A.

Friday, May 3

6:00pm - Opening Ceremonies - Wherein we get this party started!

7:00pm - “Why We Read.” Why do we, as fans, read? Panelists: Lee Martindale, Sue Phillips, Dawn Benton

8:00pm - Author Readings. Kathleen Sullivan/Lee Martindale. According to the schedule, I’ve got the second half of the hour.

10:00pm - “Kill Her! Kill Her A Lot!: The Legacy of Buffy”. The write-up: “The show that wrote the book for the teenage-angst-interrupted-by-monsters genre was riding high twenty years ago.” Join our panel of Buffy fans & experts as we walk the dark alleys of Sunnydale. Panelists: Lee Martindale, Ken Spivey, Georges Jeanty, Aaron Dunne.

What? You didn’t know I was a Buffy fan?

Saturday, May 4

noon - “Starting To Write”. The write-up: “You want to write a book. How do you get started and how do you continue? What might you need to know?” Panelists: Lee Martindale, Debbie Vigue, Robin Burks.

2:00pm - “Goodbye, Doctor: Companion Farewells” - Over the years, companion departures have been almost as traumatic as Doctor regenerations. I suspect we all have our favorites. Panelists: Lee Martindale, Courtland Lewis, Kelly Yates.

7:00pm - “Hard SF or Soft?” - The write-up: “What is Hard SF? What qualifies as soft sf? How do we tell the difference?” Panelists: Lee Martindale, Sue Phillips

10:00pm - “FanFiction As A Writing Exercise” - The write-up: “Over the years a number of very good pro writers have written fanfic. We discuss how this may help or hinder their craft.” Panelists: Lee Martindale, Sue Phillips

Sunday, May 5

1:00pm - “Why We Write” - The write-up: “Why do we write? What drives us to create with words?” Panelists: Lee Martindale, Robin Burks

3:00pm - “Literary Track Closing Ceremonies” - The write-up: “We say goodbye to the Lit Track for the last time.”

5:00pm - “Closing Ceremonies” - One More Time.

Note to self: pack a box of tissues.

Mar 24

The Return of "Killer Openings"

Last year, I had the pleasure of teaching a sold-out-and-then-some workshop at DragonCon called “Writing Killer Openings”. Students focused on writing opening lines and paragraphs that grab reader attention right out of the gate through the use of live exercises and individual critiques. It was, apparently, quite successful and definitely a lot of fun.

I’m pleased to report that I’ll be doing it again, times two, at DragonCon 2019. Students signing up can chose either the Thursday, Aug. 29th session at 1:00pm or the Friday, Aug. 30th session at 10:00am. There’s a limit of 20 students per session.

For further information, see http://www.dragoncon.org/?q=Acting_Workshop

Feb 22

AnachroCon Rocked It

One of the marks of a good convention is how much of the return flight I sleep through. In the case of my recent return from AnachroCon, I nodded off as we were pushing back from the gate and returned to consciousness about a half-an-hour before we started our descent into DFW. AnachroCon was a *very* good convention.

With it being the con’s 10th Anniversary and with the theme of “Time-Travelers’ Ball”, the field was wide open for a full range of solid costuming that is an AnachroCon trademark. The many fine programming tracks, killer vendor room, special events, and concerts made excellent use of the convention space in their first year at the Hilton Atlanta Airport.

My programming schedule was concentrated on the Writer Track and except for being scheduled opposite Opening Ceremonies and the Costume Contest, could not have been better. Good topics, good discussions, and the fun of working with writers I’d not had a chance to work with before. Built into it was plenty of time to visit with friends, chat with fans and fellow writers, and spend time at my vendor table.

Many thanks to the concomm and volunteers for their many kindnesses and for doing what they do so very well.

As for the case of con crud that announced its feverish and congested presence three days after getting home, I earned it.

Feb 9

And Away We Go!

The traveling boots have been dug out of the closet, suitcases are being filled, and an eye is being kept on 10-day weather forecasts in two cities. And, because I haven’t done this in a few months, I’m double-checking packing lists. Experience has taught me that if I’m going to forget to pack something vital, it will be on the first convention trip of the year.

First up in 2019 is AnachroCon, Feb. 15 - 18 in Atlanta. This year’s theme is “Time Travelers’ Ball” and, based on my schedule so far, it’s going to be grand fun.

Friday, Feb 15:

6:00pm: Writing Kick-Butt Female Characters: What it takes to write effective female characters. Panelists: Mandy and G.D., Stephanie Osborn, Taylor Hoch, Lee Martindale (M).

Saturday, Feb 16:

2:00pm: Researching Effectively. Tips for doing effective research and getting the facts right. Panelists: Stephanie Osborn, Kyle Hannah (M), Lee Martindale, Cecilia Dominic.

5:00pm: Time Travel Stories and Why We Love Them. What is it about time travel stories that catch our imaginations and make them so popular. Panelists: Stephanie Osborn, Lee Martindale (M), Dan Hollifield, Cecilia Dominic.

6:00pm Writing Effective Villains. Without villains, heroes have nothing to do! Panelists: Mandy and G.D., Taylor Hoch (M), Kate Shaw, Kyle Hannah, Lee Martindale.

Sunday, Feb. 17:

1:00pm: Fish Out of Water Tropes. Tropes are tropes for a reason. What makes them work and why do we love this one. Panelists: Mandy Burkhead (M), G.D Burkhead, Stephanie Osborn, Kyle Hannah, Kate Shaw, Lee Martindale.

2:00pm: The Business of Writing. Stuff writers need to know, even if they think they don't. Panelists: Lee Martindale (M), Stephanie Osborn, Kyle Hannah, Dana Fraedrich, Cecilia Dominic.

3:00pm: Closing Ceremonies.

And that’s just the Literature Track! Panels, including those on other tracks, could be added any time between now and the end of the convention. I’ll also have table space in the AnachroMall Vendor Room where I’ll be selling books, signing autographs, chatting with folks, and trying to resist the temptations available from all the Purveyors of Fine Temptations therein.

As I said, grand fun anticipated. Especially if I manage *not* to forget to pack something vital.

Jan 13

It's A Good Week When....

...one is told she's been approved as a Guest for Dragon Con 2019.

Unladylike noises of joy and anticipation may have scared the cat and been heard in a multi-block radius.

Jan 3

Free Shipping Continues At HarpHaven Merchanter

Until further notice, the Free Shipping Special is being carried over into the New Year at HarpHaven Merchanter. Whether you buy one book or the entire catalog, we'll pick up the cost of shipping.

Use the handy link at the top right of the screen or see us at www.harphaven.net/dir/

She's Rested! She's Ready! Bring It On, 2019!

There’s nothing quite like a quiet and enjoyable Christmas and New Year’s Eve for hitting the ground rolling on New Year’s Day. My husband and I celebrated both holidays at home, just the two of us, enjoying wonderful meals of his crafting and recharging the batteries.

Which was good, because I spent my New Year’s Day as I traditionally do, in a marathon session of closing out the books on the year just passed, setting up the files for the one just arrived, and doing some of the prep work for things like 1099s, incoming tax filing, and the paying of royalties. Despite taking breaks to watch the Rose Parade and the Doctor Who New Year’s Episode, I managed to finish and fall into bed around 3:00am with a few brain cells still firing.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions – haven’t in decades – but I do make plans. Most of the ducks are lined up for AnachroCon 2019: Time Traveler’s Ball in February, and are beginning to assemble for Wholanta! in May. I’ve very excited about serving as ToastMistress for WindyCon 46: Space Opera in November. Other conventions will be added as things firm up.

2019 is also a milestone year on the home front. My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th Anniversary and I’ll turn 70. (Not sure how we’ll celebrate either, but we’ll think of something.)

As with any New Year, 2019 holds both promise and concern. I expect to remain active on the political and human rights activism fronts, writing and editing fiction, and teaching the occasional workshop. I may even make a dent in my to-be-read stack.

So Happy New Year, everyone. Let’s make it a good year!

Nov 22

Thanksgiving 2018

For the first years we were married, Himself and I spent Thanksgiving Weekend attending the local Mensa Gathering. Fitting, since that’s where we initially crossed paths. (Although we didn’t “officially” meet until several months later, but that’s another story for another time.) For the several years after that, we hosted dinner for friends who couldn’t get home or, for whatever reason, would be spending the day involuntarily alone. Then came several years I guested at local SF conventions held on Thanksgiving weekend.

Ten years or so ago, we started getting up in the wee small hours of Thanksgiving Day, driving down to the Hill Country, spending Thanksgiving Day in the country with a good friend, her family, and the friends she invited in for the festivities, and capped with a lovely night-time drive home. By far, my favorite way to spend Thanksgiving and the closest thing to “going home for the holidays” I ever had.

Sadly, last year and this one, logistical challenges on my end have made the trip a no-go. There’s a turkey breast happily being brined in the fridge, bread and cornbread getting just a little bit drier in anticipation of onions, celery, sage and broth turning them into dressing, a pumpkin pie about to go into the oven, and other traditional sides lining up for preparation. Himself’s culinary wizardry for the win!

However you’re spending the holiday, have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 17

Shop Small, Support BIG

November 24th is Small Business Saturday, and it seems a good excuse to remind you that small publishers, self-publishing authors, artists and artisans are all small businesses. When you shop with us, you’re not only finding unique gifts for the folks on your holiday list, you’re supporting the makers, the writers, and the crafters who bring you what no one else can.

To celebrate the year-end festivities, HarpHaven Merchanter is again offering Free Shipping on all orders. Use the handy link at the top right of the screen or see us at www.harphaven.net/dir/

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