LTUE conference

This Valentine’s weekend, instead of spending quality time with my ever lovin’, I get to spend it with a horde of fellow speculative fiction writers at the annual Life, the Universe, the Universe, and Everything Conference. I’ll miss my hubby dearly, and this is the best gift he could have given me, to allow me to go. It’s even double sweet, knowing that I’ve had the kids off track from school for the past three weeks and really needed to get away for awhile.

This year, however, marks a change. This year, I’m here with the awesome people at Xchyler Publishing and their booth and I get to promote their books, including the new anthology I’m in.

At previous conferences I’ve either gone it alone (which is not particularly fun) or with a friend or two, (which is way better). This conference tops them all because I’m surrounded by people I like to be with, and even better, have earned their approval. I’ve even found the inside edge to getting on the “expert” panels for future years.

That said, after the first day I’m exhausted and need a break, so this post will be short!

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To see more pictures you can check out Instagram using the hashtag #xchylerpublishing

2014 in review

There’s nothing quite like a ready made post that’s already customized and ready to go. A big thanks to the WordPress helper monkeys for compiling my 2014 year in review.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Aftermath

It seems that every Christmas season is spent with weeks and weeks of anticipation working toward the big day and then only 24 hours in which to revel in it. Ours was no different.  The morning started early, our youngest (and least likely to stay in his room) woke up minutes before seven and despite the stern talk we had the night before about waiting until at least 7:30, Christmas started in earnest promptly at 7am.

After all thoroughly celebrated, the presents opened, the stockings ransacked, the chocolate nibbled, and forty-seven squabbles broken up; we were glad to call it a night.

Perhaps one of my favorite days of the year is the day after Christmas.  Good feelings are still lingering around, there are lots of goodies to snack on, and the kids are happy to play with their new toys, at least for a while. Yes, there is usually a mess or two to clean up, paper shreds and tinsel and bows hiding under the couch, and a stack of dishes in the sink. I don’t mind.

I have my own new toys to play with.

Here’s to hoping you and your’s have an equally pleasant day after Christmas.Day-After-Christmas

‘Tis the Season to Shamelessly Promote Yourself!

Here’s a very Merry Christmas to all my dear readers, if it weren’t for you I would probably be doing something far less interesting, like folding socks, or hunting down mystery spots in my carpet. Finding interesting things to post here has been a challenge and I hope that I’ve delivered things that you have found intriguing.

Cool Reindeer is all about shameless self promotion

Cool Reindeer is all about shameless self promotion

I would love to make this blog as terrific as possible, and love even more to pay it forward. In the spirit of giving and sharing, I’m looking for fantasy concept artists, cosplayers, and other awesome people to feature in future posts in the coming year.  If you are interested, send me a line here in the comments, include any links to existing material online, and if I feel that you are a good fit, I’ll be in touch with you!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, Bring it on.

Now that we have thankfulled and gratefulled everything to it’s fullest, it’s time to bring on all the Christmas cheer.  Today we are setting up the tree and making gingerbread houses with the munchkins (and I’ve already been chewed out for being an OCD fun killing ogre…) Here’s to Christmas!

Gingerbread houses

The before picture, after pictures to follow

Hubby gets eaten by tree!

Work it good lookin’

 

Bring it on.

Speculative Fiction with Shia Labeouf

It’s no surprise that I love YouTube and pop culture.  So, when I found this awesome little piece – just in time for Halloween I might add – I knew I had to share it.

Speculative fiction is when a story has one or more elements that aren’t considered part of the real world including magic, fantasy creatures, and unreal settings.  It includes such genres as horror, fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, and yes, even vampire romances.

Since Shia isn’t an actual cannibal, as far as we know, this lovely piece of internet is a solid horror story instead of a factual recounting. It is also the most bizarre thing I’ve seen all year, and that’s saying something.

What is Cosplay?

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Brilliant cosplay of Princess Mononoke based on the Miyasaki film of the same name.

photo credit: Anna Fischer via photopin cc

Cosplay, or costume play, has been around for ages.  As long as there have been iconic characters who inspire, there have been people who want to dress up like them. As children we used to dress up and pretend to be princesses, cowboys, and fairies to name a few. Every year for Halloween we celebrate our alter egos and indulge in a bit of self indulgent dress up. It’s fun, harmless, and a chance to pretend we are someone or something different than our ordinary selves.

Cosplay gives players both old and young a chance to enter this alternate persona and escape the pressures of the real world for a while.  I imagine it is not unlike the escapism of reading a really good book that pulls the reader into the pages and doesn’t let them go until it’s over, or that awesome movie that is so appealing in its story and artistic imagery that you can’t help but sit riveted to the chair.

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Xena, the warrior princess, with one of her macho friends.

photo credit: fabiogis50 via photopin cc

The holy grail for cosplayers is Comic Con.  Not only are cosplayers allowed they are encouraged to come in their most elaborate costumes for a chance at prizes and photo ops.  When Comic Con comes to town it is not uncommon to see the casts from popular sci fi and manga riding public transit and wandering around downtown.

These costumes can be as simple as one or two items worn casually over normal dress or as complicated as full body suits of hand crafted armor.  Those devoted to their cosplay spend hundreds of hours creating costuming and props. Some will spend a small fortune in creating the perfect look.  It is a passion.  If you have a friend who is into cosplay expect to see lots of pictures and hear some pretty cool stories.

I love the idea of cosplay. Having the chance to be part of a different world and spend time with fascinating people is very appealing. That’s the reason I write fantasy, it gives me the chance to be a part of a different world and meet fascinating people, both real and imagined.

Cirque du Soleil – “O”

o02There is something other worldly about the performances of Cirque du Soleil.  It is as if you’ve stepped into another world where the performers aren’t quite human.  They contort and fly and float through the air and make it seem as easy as breathing.  It is no different with Cirque’s “O”. From the minute the curtains open there are performers entrancing and enticing the audience to step away from reality for a time. cirque-o-flying-bargeFor me, I crave a story; something to tie together all the elements into a cohesive whole. All of the Cirque performances have traces of story woven throughout. A touch here of a love story, a trace there of an adventure.  The thing that sets Cirque apart is that the pieces do not need to join. All the different sights and sounds contribute to a dreamlike experience that leaves the watcher open to interpret what he sees however he chooses.  Cirque du Soleil - O - Eugen07_Veronique_VialBetween the performance of the artists, stunning set pieces, costuming, and of course the signature white face makeup; there is plenty to see and to think about, especially for this writer.  The Cirque du Soleil world is one of fantasy come to life.