Friday: Steampunk World: AnomalyCon!

It’s Friday, and upcoming events are on my mind! Mostly because today is the first day of AnomalyCon 2013: All Things ‘Punk!

For the tiny handful who read this blog but don’t know, I am the CEO of Victorian Productions, the company who runs AnomalyCon. We also have done an amazing pulp fiction podcast, called Radio STEAM. It’s out of production at this time, but there are four full seasons of hilarity for downloading.

I’m excited about the convention this year. We have a variety of business/art/writing workshop oriented panels that we haven’t been able to provide before, and over 9 full tracks of programming. We are expecting a great number of people, and we have more special guests than ever before. Badges are only $35 at the door for the entire weekend. The convention is at the DoubleTree DTC at Orchard and I25.

Jon Magnificent will be performing–and he is. He will also be running our tea dueling event. The Lego Contest is on again, and a Murder Mystery is afoot! Our program is a full 20 pages–bigger than ever before! We have junior mad scientist programming this year, as well–don’t miss out.

Also, I’ve been published in an anthology–Penny Dread Tales Volume III–that will be hitting the shelves at AnomalyCon this year!

Someone asked me recently what my goal for the convention is–what we want out of. Well, besides a convention that we would want to attend.

I want a convention that gathers together brilliant and successful minds, to teach writers how to improve their writing and market themselves. I want artists to be able to come together and learn how to make a life for themselves, to escape the “starving artist” moniker. I want makers and recyclists and creators to come together and make green sexy again. And through it all, I want to see the thread of acceptance, style, and equality that pervades the idea of Steampunk.

And so, AnomalyCon was born.

I hope you all can join me this weekend! We have amazing things in store!

Wednesday: Adventure! Hawaii

It’s been a little while since we got back from our trip to Hawaii, but I wanted to share a few gems with you all (now that Jamie knows, since she went with me).

First of all, Oahu (especially Waikiki and basically all of Honolulu) really caters to a Japanese tourist populace. This is awesome on multiple levels, because you can get food and products there that you can’t get anywhere else except Japan. Unfortunately, it’s still US territory, so certain export/import rules apply. But the food–especially the curry, the sushi, and the udon–is amazing.

We stayed in a little place called Manoa Valley Inn, a charming Edwardian mansion converted to a bed and breakfast. This place was beautiful. They’ve redone the pool area to look like a private lagoon, and the food every morning is to die for. Since it is an old mansion, I recommend against staying here if you are super sensitive to noise. A few of the rooms can’t close the windows all the way, and the house creaks occasionally in the wind. However, if you are open to adventure (and a homecooked combination between Japanese and native food, with bacon), then this is absolutely the place to go. The family is half Japanese, half Irish, and all charming.

When we were in Hawaii we climbed the Stairway to Heaven…alas, we didn’t get to see the sunrise at the top because of the clouds that day. It was one of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done, almost as hard as Fuji, but more condensed. On the plus side, snorkeling took the edge off.

Apparently going to Hawaii in winter means no swimming on the North Shore, but fewer tourists as well. Whale watching is a big must see–we even saw spouts from the shoreline!

We didn’t take Aubri with us because I wanted a romantic getaway, but unfortunately we spent the whole time thinking she would love the water. Next time we hit the beach, you’ll all get amazing pictures.

Some highlights:

Hanauma Bay: Fish so big Jamie could see them! Go early.
Bubbies Ice Cream: Wow. Homemade mochi ice cream in a huge variety of flavors. Sakura, Green Tea, Salted Caramel were our favorites.
Stairway to Heaven: Really. Totally worth it for the accomplishment.
Ala Moana Center: A mall with an amazing food court
There was a little privately owned pineapple shop in Waikiki that is apparently one of the only private owned pineapple growers in Hawaii…most are owned by Dole. They grow organic and sell organic chocolate-dipped pineapple. YUM. Seriously.
The Swapmeet: It might kill your feet, but you can get a lot of the cheesy souvenirs from elsewhere at either Walmart or the Swapmeet for much less…they all come from the same place, so if you are looking for real handmade souvenirs, go to the North Shore.
There was a place called SushiSan with Kaiten sushi–conveyor belt sushi–that was pretty tasty for what it is, and super cheap ($1 a plate, which is better usually than 100y a plate). The only warning I have is to make sure you keep an eye on the guy at the front door, he’s bad at keeping names in order.
Valley of the Temples, just beautiful.

Our adventure was amazing, but it made us miss Japan again…time to plan another trip!


Monday: Heroes

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to meet one of my heroes at a convention. Her name is Claudia Christian, but when I set out on the journey to meet her, I knew her primarily as Commander Susan Ivanova.

I was excited by the prospect of meeting her last year, but she wasn’t able to make it to Colorado. So this year, when I made it to her autograph table, I’m afraid I didn’t really live up to my own bravery and tell her who she has been in my life. Jamie teases me about being “star struck,” but Jamie also sneaked back over to Claudia to tell her that she is my hero.

What I wanted to tell Ms. Christian is that her portrayal as a strong woman who could handle her own in a fight was just the beginning of a beautiful series of role models for me. But you never really forget one of your first loves. While characters like Tasha Yar made me believe that women had a role in a man’s world, Ivanova took that world to a whole new level. She was kind, firm, strong, intelligent, accomplished, and beautiful. For me, Babylon 5 was about her overcoming of obstacles. And that had a magical effect on my outlook on life.

When I met her and acquired her book, Babylon Confidential, I began to realize that it wasn’t just Ivanova that I loved for the sake of her character. It was Claudia. In a lot of ways, Ivanova is a reflection of Claudia, her inner strength and determination. While I can’t say that Claudia and I have shared any of the same adversaries, or faced any of the same hardships, Ivanova and I have. We’ve both suffered through creepy exes trying to ruin our jobs,¬†misogynistic coworkers or bosses behaving as though women don’t belong in a science-related role, losing loved ones, being estranged in some way, and feeling the need to blow up invading evil aliens.

OK, for me, the last one is really an author thing.

If you  glean one piece of wisdom, I hope it is this: Have heroes. Encourage your children to have heroes. Encourage them to have the sort of heroes that are real, but also the sort that are scripted. The nice thing about fiction is that it will probably turn out OK in the end. And in this world, we all need a hero who will always make things work out.