Tag Archives: DragonCon

The Con Blog, 2016

Last week, I was at DragonCon in my best dresses and new hat.

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Yes, everything I own is basically black lace.

 

Today, I’m at home in Slytherin lounge pants.

Con season is always weird because it’s either a year away or it’s tomorrow and the in-between does not exist. This marks my sixth (seventh?) DragonCon, and to be frank, I wasn’t looking forward to it. The past two years left me a bit cold in terms of programing and direction. Year one I chalked up to new management; everyone has a poor year on occasion. Last year, though, I was equally bored. I’m sure it didn’t help that I had to commute all weekend.

When I looked at the panel listing this year, I felt much the same ennui. The saving grace this year (as any year) is getting to see my friends, and as I mentioned in my last post, I finally met Kira Butler. We’ve known each other for a few years, and when she told me she was coming down for DragonCon, I freaked right out. Guys, this gal is awesome.

What I love best is when I meet people face to face and that insta-friend thing happens, that whole, “We’ve known each other forever and this is great and man, you smell really nice” deal. And she did. Kira smelled super nice. I wish we’d gotten to hang out more, but we did go out for dinner and I hope she comes back next year and the Gathering of Strange Women continues annually.

And then two astonishing things happened:

One- I was on my first ever DragonCon panel. In front of a packed room. I wish I’d thought to take a photo because it was standing room only. Since my dear friend Leanna was going to be late, I asked if I could step in, and was approved. I’ve paneled before at AnachroCon, but doing so at DragonCon has been one of my goals forever. Check.

Two- In the same conversation in which I asked to sit on the panel, I was asked if I’d want to be Kathryn’s second for the Lit track at AnachroCon. So now you’re reading the blog of the second for AnachroCon’s Lit track. I have no idea what I’ll be doing or how to do it, but I’ll figure it out. I’m excited.

I spent a lot of my “down” time at the Westin Bar (as the writers do), and I got some work done on my current book, as well as a couple of sketches of my own characters, and one of Leanna’s. Listening to her righteous anger at Penny Dreadful was certainly a highlight of my weekend, as was getting to spend time with her in general. I admire her greatly.

On the last night of Con, I was gifted this magical* clear bouncy ball. I was assured it would show me my dreams without the trouble of my having to solve a labyrinth, though The Goblin King was not included in the package.

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*might not contain real magic. Your mileage may vary.

I laughed and denied the bouncy ball before ultimately taking it, and now it’s sort of …earned it’s own magic. It’s funny how things unintentionally take on meaning. Now the bouncy ball lives on my desk.

In a final burst of grace from the universe, on my way to the train Monday afternoon, a tourist pointed me out to his wife and child as I stepped onto the escalator, saying, “Look, there’s a vampire.”

I had one of those moments of “Where?” before realizing he meant me. I’ve arrived. I am legit.

DragonCon is now a week past somehow and I’m tired; the usual con-exhaustion plus day job and men working on the house exhaustion. And edging in just below the wire is the first thread of depression. It’s not the missing my friends, or the con, it’s being worn down. It happens every year like clockwork. I’m attempting to stay busy: I have a book I’m loving, artwork to finish, blogs to post, podcast episodes to write (maybe), but I know it’s there. Lurking.

I want to be nicer to myself than I was last year. I want to make sure I’m taking care, doing only what needs to be done, and not taking on projects I don’t have to. I’m watching Stranger Things on Netflix because I’m way late to the party and it’s a fantastic show. I have high hopes for next DragonCon, and for AnachroCon next February.

I’m making plans.

I’m hanging on to that magical, star-filled bouncy ball.

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Gettin’ Crafty: Bioshock Splicer Mask

2014-05-19 17.18.34What you’ll need:

  • thick cardstock
  • a plastic or paper Halloween mask
  • white, gold, red, blue, brown and black acrylic paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Air dry modeling clay
  • a hot glue gun
  • an elastic
  • Optional: Gold poster-paint pen

I made this mask over three days. The longest part by far was the sculpt, which took me four hours.

I started making my Splicer mask based on a YouTube tutorial I’d found. While it’s a good tutorial, I found myself wanting more images to go along with the steps.

2014-05-15 10.39.36You’re going to take your mask and cut the lower portion of the face off, right up to the lip, as well as removing the nose and making the eyes wider. Draw out the ears and cut them out of that stiff cardstock. You want to make sure they’re sturdy. I made one ear out of regular paper and used it as a template for the cardstock.

2014-05-15 10.55.29The forehead of my mask was too square, so I added a piece of that same cardstock and rounded it out. I also added two pieces to either side to curve around my cheeks. I hot glued the ears to the forehead band.

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Cover the mask with the air dry clay. This part was the most challenging for me Ideally, you want the cheap Crayola brand because it’s much lighter. I’m not certain if it’s because I had a plastic mask (vs paper), but the clay would not adhere to the surface. I had to make a slip-solution of water and clay and paint that on first, this way the clay had something to stick to.

2014-05-15 11.16.43Then you sculpt until you die. Build up the clay to create those rounded out bunny cheeks, the nose, and the eyebrows. It’s a bit of trial and error, but eventually it’ll look something like this:

2014-05-15 14.29.14The nose and the top portion of the mask were the most difficult for me. Damn bunny noses. Hannibal not included.

Once the clay dries for 24 hours, apply a coat of Mod Podge. This will seal the clay. Once the Mod Podge dries, break out the white acrylic paint.

2014-05-16 22.33.00After that, it’s all about the gold detailing. The tutorial I linked above crafted the designs out of foam, spray painted and hot glued them in place. I realized I had a gold paint pen and free-handed. If you weren’t already looking a video game screenshots, now would be the time to check them out.

I started with the ears and worked my way down. Once again, the bunny nose was the most difficult part to get right.

After your mask is golden and gorgeous, it’s time for BLOOD.

Now, remember, when it comes to blood, less is more. You don’t want to drench your hard work in gore. You might think it looks brutal, but it actually more like a hot mess.

I mixed red, brown and a drop of blue and black to get a deep red-brown. Blood isn’t always bright red, and when it dries, it dries brown. It’s more trial and error, but when you get a color you’re happy with, splatter away!

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The last step is fixing your elastic in place, or whatever you’re going to use to keep the mask on your face. Once again, your trusty hot glue is your best ally.

Over all, I’d say the level of difficulty ranges from Medium to Hard. It’s certainly not as easy as I was lead to believe, but that might also be using a plastic mask instead of paper/using a different air dry clay, or a dozen other user-error issues.

Photo on 5-20-14 at 6.42 PM #2

I find the mask as bit too flat on my nose, so I’m going to try to move the elastic and see if that changes the way it sits on my face. I may be making another mask in the near future using the lighter Crayola clay now that I’ve gotten one under my belt.

The costume and base makeup will be the easier parts of the Spider Splicer costume. I also added gold outlining and some blood to the back of the ears. Let’s be honest, if you’re slaughtering a bunch of people for their Adam, your gonna get pretty messy.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

Now I’m going to figure out how to make a metal arm. I’m pretty sure forming a spiritual connection with Bucky was not the intended purpose of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Hello Listeners, and Welcome to the Con Blog

*queue piano riff*

I am partially recovered from DragonCon 2013, and I wish I could say it’d been a more exciting Con. I’m not sure if most of the staff’s energy went to dealing with certain unpleasantries involving a certain former CEO and that’s why the con suffered, but I sadly wasn’t thrilled with most of the programming this year.

There was nothing I was dying to see. Ok, Brian Brushwood’s magic show, but that was about it. I didn’t attend a lot of panels, but I did get in my usual seeing of friends I only see at DragonCon, going to a couple of readings, a surprisingly interesting panel on Puppetry and Evil, and of course prancing around in this year’s costume selection.

DragonCon may have also been slightly overshadowed by my forgetting some crucial costume pieces and one of the pieces I’d commissioned not arriving for the weekend. Miffed doesn’t really cover my upset.

Thursday:
Check in.

I give my name, the name my room is under, and take my key and my suitcase up the to my room. Now, the key read 966. I’d gotten a text earlier saying the room was 819. It’s possible they could have been wrong. I didn’t think anything of it. My roommates were down at Turner Field for the DragonCon Night Parade and costume show-off whatever. So I unlock the room door. It’s dark beyond. Great. I’ll get some quiet time before a weekend of being extremely social.

I’m not sure who was more surprised, me, or the pounchy old man reclining in his bathrobe when I opened the door. I muttered my apologized and ran back to the elevator.

When asked who’d helped me, I said it was the gentleman in the bloody scrubs.

I finally found MY room, free of old men in bathrobes and filled with Ginger Ale and fruit snacks. I set out my Alice costume, call my mom, relax. Roommates return. Lady Loki was a hit.

Friday:American McGee’s Alice.

I am destined to battle the Red Queen. The outcome is uncertain.

I am destined to battle the Red Queen. The outcome is uncertain.

Julie and I went to see George Takei. Funny guy. I enjoyed his panel, even though I’ve never seen Star Trek. What?

I hit up Delilah S. Dawson’s first panel on Pulp Fiction and got to see the beautiful ARC of her upcoming YA, Servants of the Storm. I popped into Writing for Anthologies, thought the attitude of the panelists was poor and instead went to my friend Kathryn’s reading. I was rewarded with chocolate covered pomegranates, poetry, tales of mermaids, and a sneak peek at a super secret project.

I met up with secret sister Cat and her husband Michael for the Ray Bradbury panel, which made me want to cry and watch The Halloween Tree and eat all the candy corn.

After dinner at Moe’s (which I still don’t 100% understand how to order from, but at least they have tofu), we hit up the Ghost in the Robot concert. You may recognize the lead singer as a certain former Buffyverse vampire.

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I spent Friday night 20 feet from James Marsters. What did you do?

His band SLAYED (pun absolutely intended.) I really enjoyed his show. Total win.

Saturday:

Goblin Queen.

Glowering is apparently what I am best at.

Glowering is apparently what I am best at.

I was covered in so much spray glitter, it was sick. Also, that stuff is toxic. It’s terrible. I throw on all my regalia and head to the British Horror panel, Cat’s very first ever official panel.

There's Cat!

There’s Cat!

Turns out it was about British horror FILMS and NOT books, but Cat played it off well. I knew none of the answers to the questions and therefore provided silent moral support. I ditched the cape and headdress shortly after. It was just too hot.

I don’t really recall what I did after that. I headed to Leanna’s panel on Magic, Occult, and Fantasy in Alternate History. It was an interesting panel until the Angry White Man started on about insider secrets being spilled to Hollywood and put into films. I think he was a conspiracy theorist. The woman next to me and I were cracking up. I think her name was Teresa. She was cool. The panel handled it all very well. He came back with secondary comments on the psychological damage of studying things.

I’m not saying researching dark things should be taken lightly, but this guy was pretty extreme.

I got to say hello to Leanna afterward and chat for a bit. The AWM was behind me. I hope she survived.

I met back up with Cat and Michael for dinner and headed off for Brian Brushwood’s Bizarre Magic show. I’m a HUGE fan of his YouTube program Scam School (and several of his tricks feature in my books), and I was thrilled to get the chance to see him.

The room hit capacity 10 people ahead of me.

Luckily, though, they opened the doors to the room and we were given the chance to watch from the hall. It was a great show. I throughly enjoyed Mr. Happy Pants and I hope Brian does break into the world of children’s magic shows.

Sunday:

Cecilia.

Cecilia, the genderbent voice of Night Vale Community Radio

Cecilia, the genderbent voice of Night Vale Community Radio.

I WAS BLONDE.

And I didn’t hate it. Cat drew some kickass tattoos on my arms and I paraded around in the most comfortable costume of the weekend. I hadn’t left the hotel before someone shouted, “CECIL!” and snapped my photo.

I headed to Leanna’s reading, where she read (and acted) her short, “Charged,” from Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells. Moseley is now one of my favorite characters. I love him almost as much as I love Nathaniel Veil.

After her reading, several of us grabbed some lunch. It was nice to spend some down time in a group. I met A. L. Davroe, who’s pretty awesome, and got trapped in the skybridge with her. I missed Susan Dennard’s reading, so I met her at her signing. She’s also pretty awesome. I forgot my book, which I’d intended to have her sign.

I wandered around Comic Alley and pined over Brian Kesinger’s Labyrinth prints. I went back to the room and cooled off. There was a Welcome to Night Vale meetup at 7, so I popped in for that.

The Dog Park will not harm you.

The Dog Park will not harm you.

Just saying: Tea-infused marshmallows. Whoever made those: Girl, you rock.

Cat, Michael and I then headed to the Mechanical Masquerade, which BY FAR the best part of the whole weekend. Doctor Q is a killer DJ and the bands he’d lined up were amazing. The whole ball had a real 1920’s swing/jazz theme going on and it. was. perfect. I wore my Goblin Queen ballgown in all its mercurial glory. I even danced with boys. Be proud, internet. I danced with boys.

We even did the Time Warp. Duh, it was a steampunk ball. Of COURSE there would be time travel. I danced until 1 in the morning and headed back to collapse. That was probably the best shower of my life (and I’m still washing glitter out of my hair, by the way.)

Delilah and I forgot to shave before the Masquerade.

Delilah and I forgot to shave before the Masquerade.

Monday:

Monday. I packed my suitcase, turned in my room key, and headed to a panel on Puppetry and Evil, which was actually really interesting. I met Crystal (Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands) and told her how much I enjoyed her music at the Masquerade. She’s super sweet, and I took home both of her CDs. “Toy Hammer” is by far my favorite song.

I met with Cat and Michael again and hit up the Dealer’s Hall, which was a freaking maze and basically impossible to navigate. I bought a print from Echo, Cat got gummy Iron Man earrings, and I fell in love with a print by Stephanie Law. I could not get the print as she was not at her table at the time. Someone handed us a giant Cthulhu plushie and told us we had to hug it. Cat squealed, “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” She did not die. The Dread Lord accepted his squishes and let us go.

Then it was homeward.

My lack of Con Hangover clearly indicates that the con itself was the best con, but I did have a great time with my friends and my new friends. Now it’s all post-con laundry, sleep recovery, and getting back to working.

I’ve got a short story coming out next week, another coming out in October, as well as Crossroads Writer’s Conference to prepare for. Until next year, DragonCon.

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Dead on Your Feet

Tomorrow begins the DragonCon adventure.

My costumes are finished. My Nutella is purchased. I have yet to pack, as usual.

I’ve worked eight days in a row. I am exhausted. Prepare for videos from the con.

I also entered my second round of Pitch Madness. I revamped my hook/pitch line, wrote a shiny new intro and now I’m waiting to see if I’ve survived the slush pile or not. Contests are odd. They make me excited and terrified. And the waiting. I hate the waiting.

One of my coworkers at The Day Job asked me how to publish a book. I grinned like a shark.

First, you write a draft. Second, you finish the draft. Congratulations. Have a slice of cake. You wrote a book and that’s a major accomplishment.

Then you revise. You find beta readers or CPs and they read your book and give you advice. Take or it leave it. Not all advice is good advice. Always save multiple copies of your book. You never know when you’ll need to resurrect something.

Repeat.

Then you make a list of agents who might be interested in your book. You write a query letter, which is like pulling out all your teeth with toothpicks. Then you write a synopsis. Or three. That’s like pop riveting your eyes shut.

Maybe you get an agent. You WILL get rejections.

And more revisions.

Did I mention revisions?

By that point, his eyes had gotten huge and I think I saw the gears in his head lock. You know you’re a writer when you know all of this… and still want it.

The last two days have had me locked on Writer Headspace with ZERO time to write. I’ve opened the last two mornings and I’m basically dead. I’m going to get one good night of sleep in my own bed, shower, and preparing for four days of extreme extraversion.

From which I will hide for three days in my room post-con.

In other news, I’m gearing up for Dark Carnival, which you can find out about here: DARK CARNIVAL

My darling, decrepit illusionist is dying to meet you all. He’s a real SLICE.

Until then, darlings.

xx

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The Ladies of Hoopskirts: DragonCon 2012

Another year, another highly successful con!

This year we stayed at the Westin instead of the Hilton.
Pros:
Exercise bonus: .3 miles UPHILL
Easy access to view the parade
Complimentary Starbucks Coffee and Tazo Tea
MASSIVE television for DCTV

Cons:
Oddly shaped room (the Westin IS circular, so all the rooms were vaguely pie-shaped)
Tiny bathroom (pro: shaving mirror. Made the making-up processes easier)
Impossible to leave during the parade

Other than that, it was Con as usual. My AMG Alice’s was a success on Friday. At one point, Julie and I found a hallway that, the farther you entered, the closer the ceiling got. So naturally, we took Shrinking Room/Growing Alice photos.

No cake required.

I felt rather menacing roaming Atlanta with my pepper grinder and 4-inch Demonia boots.

I was also very tall. Alice, our roommate, was also dressing as AMG Alice for Con, and brought with her the most adorable hobbyhorse I’ve ever seen. His name is Snickerdoodle, and he will fuck you up. I want one.

Saturday I met with my darling friends Cat, Michael, Jenn and Karen (and Lauren, who photobombed us), for lunch. I should have known Saturday would be amazing after I fought my way from the Westin to the Hyatt, only to find Cat had texted me to say she was… in the Westin. I made it back, we ate lunch, and who should I run into but the Goblin King himself? He and Sarah are really cool people. We high-fived.

I walked around dressed as a street magician/Widgetesque from The Night Circus and attended several panels on busking and writing. Not together.

Sunday. Sunday was the day I dreaded and was most excited for. Sunday was the Masquerade and I was going to be on stage. I rewore the Black Patchwork Suit because I was in terror of anyone (especially me) messing up that gorgeous white beast. Jareth, Sarah and Amanda (their friend) were in my den. We all collapsed on the floor and promptly formed the Hoop Skirt Club (with the exception of Jareth, as he was not, in fact, wearing a skirt of any kind). Julie joined us. We lamented the necessity of our undergarments. Sarah was smart enough to wear cargo shorts.

Jareth and Sarah stole the show. I was proud and very glad I’d met them.

I did not win anything. I did not expect to. I DID almost get crushed by a dalek. Only at Dragon*Con. In my horror, I nearly missed my entrance, forgot my routine and promptly dropped my juggling ball (unlike Jareth, I brough my Sil-X. I live in terror of dropping my acrylic). I recovered, danced a bit, and trotted offstage. Later, I could not stand to watch my own recap, though everyone said I looked and did great.

Though I may have had a stage mishap, I’m pretty sure I SLEW the gauntlet. The gauntlet is the after-contest photography portion of the event where those willing line up with cameras and take photos. We rotate in sets of 3 on stage so everyone gets a good shot. The other two girls posed; I contact juggled. At one point someone said, “Oh, now she’s just showing off.” I felt successful.

And so the Con ended. There’s a lot of little in-between stories, cute puppeteers, Doctors attempting to sonic screwdriver the “happy red matter ball,” flirting with boys, meeting two Tiny Lil’ Miss Grand Supremes, breaking it DOWN to the Cruxshadows (while wearing the White Dress), and stellar makeup skills. I learned the importance of not being afraid of publishing houses/agents, what I’ll need to do before I can let the novel-thing venture out into the world, and I’ve reaffirmed that my life is basically awesome.

I think there may be some other super important life moment, but I’m so tired and have yet to recover from the Con.

I have to work AND prepare for a belly dance show.

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