Next week I’ll be at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Washington, D.C. I’m looking forward to attending some great panels (like “The Animal That Therefore I Am: “I”-ing and Eyeing the Animal), going to great readings, reconnecting with writing friends, and discovering great journals at the Book Fair.
If you’re at AWP this year, please stop by the cream city review table! We’re booth#769. I’m currently one of the Fiction Editors, and I’d love to meet fiction writers in person. I’ll be at the table on Friday, 4:00 – 6:00, and Saturday, 12:00 – 2:00. If you’re interested in submitting to ccr and want to ask some questions about what we’re looking for, I’d be happy to chat!
cream city review is also taking part in an off-site reading on Thursday evening. Here are the details:
The Magnificent Seven: A reading hosted by Pleiades, AGNI, American Literary Review, Boulevard, cream city review, Gulf Coast Journal, and PoemoftheWeek.org.
Thursday, February 9th, 8:00PM – 10:00PM
Bayou: 2519 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20037
I’ll be live-tweeting from the conference, so follow me @moodyjenni to see photos and updates, and check here later in February for an AWP wrap up!
The first Rocket City NerdCon starts tonight! Here’s an updated listing of my panel schedule:
Friday, 5:00PM – Readings by the North Alabama Science Fiction Writers and Cake Appreciation Society
Local writers belonging to NASFWCAS read their science fiction and fantasy short stories.
Friday, 7:30PM – Residential Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshops
What’s it like to attend a writing workshop that lasts six weeks? Or two? Clarion West Graduate Jenni Moody will give a presentation on the benefits of residential writing workshops and will share stories about her time at one of the most prestigious genre workshops in the world.
Saturday, 2:30PM – How to Write, Fix, and Sell Your SF and Fantasy Story
Panel discussion by writers from the North Alabama Science Fiction Writers and Cake Appreciation Society, which is a local critique group for science fiction and fantasy writers. We’ll talk about the writing process, how to benefit from feedback from other writers and describe resources to help you publish your work.
Looking forward to a great weekend of geeking out in my hometown! See you there!
I’m excited to announce that I will be presenting a panel at the first Rocket City NerdCon. I’ll share photographs and stories from my experiences at Clarion West and Kij Johnson’s Beginning Novel Workshop at the University of Kansas. I’ll discuss the benefits of residential writing workshops and compare them with the experience of getting an MFA.
Everyone who attends will get a resource sheet, some writing goodies, and I will do a giveaway for several awesome prizes! I’d love to see you there!
Here’s the panel description:
When: Friday, October 24th, 7:30PM
Title: Residential Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshops
Description: What is it like to attend a writing workshop that lasts six weeks? Or even two? Clarion West graduate Jenni Moody will give a presentation on the benefits of residential writing workshops and will share stories about her time at one of the most prestigious genre workshops in the world.
Age group: Family
When I found out that Sylvester McCoy would be in town for our local Dr. Who convention, I knew I wanted to try to dress up as Ace, his companion.
Ace is a kick ass partner for the doctor. She’s a chemistry whiz, and uses her abilities to make an explosive she calls Nitrus 9. She’s brilliant, a punk, enthusiastic, and friendly to everyone she runs into on her time journeys.
I knew if I wanted to make an Ace outfit, the most important element would be her jacket. Collecting (or sometimes handmaking) all of the patches and buttons from Ace’s jacket can be a lengthy task. I knew I wouldn’t have my jacket screen-accurate in time for the convention, but I decided to go ahead and try my best.
I found some nice red felt and a white fabric in the remnant bin at the local craft supply store, and I picked up one square of yellow felt from the craft section.
I had printed out a collegiate style “A” to use as a stencil, but when I held it up to my jacket it was much too small. So I just free-handed the “A” and the accompanying “ce” – sketching the letters out on paper, then cutting the paper, then using that as a stencil on the felt, and finally cutting out the felt letters.
If you are making an Ace jacket and your time is short, I’d suggest doing the back of the jacket first. I waited until midnight the night before the con because I was nervous about making the back of the jacket look as good as possible. But sometimes you just have to go for it, and in the end (around 2:00AM), I was really pleased with the way it turned out.
The front and arms of the jacket were a bit harder to recreate accurately. Luckily, several of the patches that Ace uses are from NASA, and living fifteen minutes from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center came in very handy. I was able to get two of the main patches on the front of the jacket, so that I felt as if I were at least on the right path to having a true Ace jacket someday.
But there were still many empty spots on the jacket I would not be able to fill with the correct buttons or patches.
So I made a decision that took away a ton of stress and let me have some fun with the outfit. I pulled out my tin of buttons I have collected over the years, and I chose a few to go on the jacket. If Ace were making this jacket today, what kind of things would she put on her jacket now? I have a button from a punk band I saw in college, the creative commons logo, and at the con I added a button with the 7th Doctor. It isn’t screen-accurate, but I feel like it is still true to the character of Ace.
One of the obstacles I ran into was the weather. Our convention was held in June. In Alabama. So there was no way I would be able to actually wear the jacket during the convention.
Here’s where having a backpack comes in very handy. Backpacks are excellent to have at conventions in general, and if you can work them into your cosplay, then you’ve fed two birds with one scone.
Ace uses a backpack to carry all of her Nitrus 9 and to store her baseball bat when she isn’t using it to bash in Daleks.
|My recreation of Ace’s t-shirt|
|Me waging a battle with Dalek Braun|
This was my first time cosplaying at a convention, and I had a blast. Dressing up as one of your favorite characters is such a great way to meet new people. Even if you’re shy, go ahead and try it sometime at one of your local conventions. I bet you’ll start thinking about your next cosplay as soon as that convention is done.
|This trio wandered the halls together all weekend.
|Sylvester McCoy and Andrew Cartmel|
|Sylvester McCoy and I – photobombed by the 9th Doctor|
|Bookmarks by Sweet Geek|
|Art by Carly Strickand|
On Saturday, Bryan of Geek Notions and I traveled to Birmingham for the Alabama Phoenix Festival. This was an excellent con – just big enough to have a great variety of panels, guests, and vendors, but not so huge that it was overwhelming. Everyone I interacted with was laid back and enthusiastic about geeking out. I would love to attend this convention again next year, and maybe have an author table or cosplay. I think I’m going to add leveling up at cons to my writing goals for 2014.
My awesome con-partner, Bryan, has also written a con round up. You can check it out here.
This was the first panel I attended, and was my favorite of the entire con. The panelists were smart and funny and honest, and the audience asked great questions.
One of my favorite takeaways from this panel was a new way of looking at low ratings on Amazon. One panelist pointed out that having a variety of ratings shows that real people are reading your work, in addition to friends and family you may have asked to review your book. Another panelist pointed out that sometimes low ratings sell books – what one person may hate may be exactly what another person is looking for (i.e., sex scenes!).
It is always good to go to these panels, even if you are a seasoned writer who has heard most of the tips before. In my experience there is always one piece of advice that is new, and just being around other writers always fills up my energy reserves for my own writing.
But another good reason to go to these panels is to pick out which authors’ books you might be interested in. There were a ton of Indie authors at Alabama Phoenix Festival. I wanted to support one of those writers by buying his or her book, but I only had one day at the con (and just a small amount of time between panels) so attending a writing panel was a great way to help me figure out which writer’s work I might enjoy.
A.G. Porter spoke about the process of choosing a cover artist for her books and gave excellent information during the panel. When I found her table in the exhibitor’s room later in the day she had one of the best author tables I’ve ever seen. Professional and friendly, she’s the kind of author I hope to be one day when I begin publishing novels. I bought the first two books in her series and look forward to reading them.
|My book bounty for the weekend|
The Full Scale Millenium Falcon Project
The next panel was with the creators of the cockpit and console for the full scale Millenium Falcon project. This is a labor of love project, with people volunteering their time and money to make a screen accurate replica.
The panel was fun, with lots of questions from the audience and a bit of Star Wars trivia thrown in (where did Boba Fett first appear?). After the panel they encouraged everyone to check out the cockpit down in the exhibition hall.
It was pretty awesome.
|The seriously cool cockpit and console|
|Curious Twi’lek and Bryan in Han’s seat|
|Find the Greeble! Where’s the battery pack?|
|Adam Savage signed the console!|
Star Wars: The Coming Darkness
Film Screening, Q&A Afterwards with Director Josh Mason and Cast
This was my first time attending a fan film screening at a convention. Like the Millenium Falcon, the funding and manpower for this project all came from volunteers.
My biggest fear about watching a fan film was that it would be long and meandering, with pithy dialogue and a much too serious plot. But Mason’s film was fun, with a tight, action-oriented plot and only as much dialogue as was needed to move the movie forward.
There were some issues with the speakers, so the sound was a little too loud on the background noise and too soft on the dialogue at times. And as someone who grew up in Alabama it is hard to divorce myself from southern trees appearing on a distant planet. But those were minor issues, and all-around this was a great first fan film experience.
It was a welcome break in the middle of the day, where I could sit in a dark, mostly quiet room and eat a sandwich and not feel like I had to interact with anyone for a bit. I could recharge my introvert batteries so that I could interact more in the second half of the day. I think I will to try to work in a fan film on my schedule for future cons.
|Director Josh Mason and Screenwriter Michael LoBianco
answer questions after the screening
Mass Hysteria: Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Panel
Alabama Ghostbusters joined comics artist Dan Schoening to discuss his art and general Ghostbusters awesomeness during this podcast/ panel for Mass Hysteria. They gave away two signed comic book collections during the panel, one to a young girl and the other to a man in a Ghostbusters jumpsuit. I’m going to start reading the Ghostbusters comics, and I need to play the video game as well.
The Golden Age of Science Fiction
At every con, there’s one panel that doesn’t quite come together. Panelists drop out at the last minute, it’s at the time of day in the con where everyone is tired, or the vibe is just a bit off for no explainable reason. I think one problem with this panel was its broad focus. It would have worked better to have one person giving a presentation on their writing in the style of Golden Age SF, or with a larger, more diverse panel. Instead of defining what is and isn’t considered Golden Age, it would have been nice to dive into Golden Age with a panelist as a guide and romp around there for a while.
One of my favorite parts of any convention is finding new geek artists. I could spend a whole day just walking around the exhibition hall chatting with authors and artists and debating on whether to buy cool action figures. There were so many amazing artists at Phoenix Festival, so I didn’t have time to see them all, but here are a few of my favorites.
Carly designed the badge art for the convention, and had a table of children’s books for sale in the exhibition hall.
But what drew me to her table were these:
Bryan was one of the kindest people we met at the con. And everyone at the con was extremely nice, so that’s saying something. He had lovely drawings of the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz as babies, from the perspective of Wicked. There was also a non-flying monkey wearing an equality sweatshirt, and then there was this:
|Wave Walker by Bryan Crowson|
Dear Reader, do I need to describe how hard I fangirled? This is my biggest regret of the convention – not buying a print of Wave Walker. Luckily, Bryan has an online store and you can contact him via email to order prints or request commissions. Check out his Facebook page for an awesome engagement commission of a couple running away from Godzilla. And if you see him at a convention, stop by his table to hear the stories behind his art. He’s a wonderful guy.
Rick Johnson/ Phat Daddy Studios
Rick was full of love and energy when we stopped by his table. He does amazing comic book art, and what pulled us in was the sweetest Daryl sketch you’re ever likely to see, alongside a kickass Rick and Michonne.
|Art by Rick Johnson|
Check out Rick’s Facebook page for more amazing art, including a pretty sweet Drogo from Game of Thrones.
Geek It Forward
There’s always a sense of sadness at the end of a con. You have to go back to the real world where you (perhaps) cannot wear your Batman t-shirt to work and no one gets your references.
So it was awesome to stop by the Geek Gathering table and hang out for a bit. We bought t-shirts and got free admission tickets to the convention in September. A portion of the proceeds go to Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Ultimate win!