Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scary Books! For Halloween!

I enjoy a good scare. Theres something primal about the sensation that deepens--and connects--the human experience (and I've already talked about why I think horror as a genre has value). So if a book, movie, or any other medium can give me the wiggins or scare me so bad that my body threatens to leak one fluid or another, I'm totes on board.

Normally I take the month of October to read something that genuinely scares me, but given the tiny life I'm responsible for these days I didn't even think about it until today. So, instead, and in that same spirit, I'll tell you about some of my all-time favorite scary stories, in no particular order.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Vampires? Check. Blood and gore? Check. Thinly veiled exploration/critique of Victorian sexuality? Double check. Stoker didn't invent the vampire by any means, but he injected them into pop culture, and for that I can never thank him enough. Dracula is a great and genuinely scary read.

Carrie by Stephen King

King's first novel, and one that has endured the test of time. I know I gush a lot about Stephen King, so I won't do that here, other than to say that Carrie is awesome. It's a short read, perfect for a weekend (and, incidentally, the second novel told in epistolary form on my list after Dracula). Oh, and if your kids are bullying others at school, drop Carrie on their lap. It just might change their tune. (Or just have a serious talk about how bullying is terrible, but that's a whole other thing.)

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has written some phenomenal stuff, but my list needed something a bit more light-hearted and The Graveyard Book seemed a perfect fit. (Although for a light-hearted entry, this one still made me feel ALL the feels.) Plus its a retelling of The Jungle Book in a graveyard, so that's pretty cool.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Stoker may have stoked (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) the vampire genre, but Lindqvist helped...lind..qvist...okay that bit won't work (NOTHING, I DID NOTHING THERE), let me start over. In the midst of Twilight-fever, Let the Right One In was both a harkening back to the terrifying nature of vampires and a fascinating twist on the genre. And, while this is a horror list so at least some scary content should be expected, some really messed up stuff happens in this book, so it comes with an extra warning. And it's really really good.

Inferno (Part I of La divina commedia) by Dante Alighieri
Yearning for some classic horror? Look no further than Inferno--definitely not talking about the Dan Brown book, by the way. I'm talking about the epic poem with demons and devils (and if you thought the movie Se7en owned the punishment-fits-the-crime trope, you've got another thing coming) that has influenced how we view hell for the last 700 years. 'Nuff said, right? (Note: I recommend the Mandelbaum translation I've linked above if you're looking for an entertaining read that still maintains the spirit of Dante's brilliant poetic structure.)

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

I read this one just last Halloween, and I can say hands down it's the most terrifying book I've ever read. Like, genuinely messed-with-my-head-and-gave-me-nightmares scary. I'll include a passage from the introduction at the bottom of this post just for good measure*, but trust me. If you really want your skin to crawl and to look-over-your-shoulder-terrified-of-what-you-might-see as you read, check out House of Leaves. Extra content warning for this one, too, by the way.

The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

I've said all I have to say about The Reapers are the Angels in a blog post from last year. It's a zombie novel, it's beautiful, and it's one of my all-time favorite books.

Check out any of these books this (or any subsequent) Halloween--you won't be disappointed. I love scary movies as much as the next guy, but there's something about reading a scary story that gets under my skin in ways the film medium can't do. I highly recommend it. Happy reading!

Oh, and for good measure, some honorable mentions:

Looking for more of a classic approach? Try the works of Edgar Allen Poe or H.P. Lovecraft.

Looking for a more modern take on zombies? Try Feed by Mira Grant.

More ghosts and demons? Try The Keeper by Sarah Langan.

Want to experience a YA horror/thriller novel? Residue by Steve Diamond.

Horror in comic/graphic novel form? Try From Hell by Alan Moore or The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman (which is actually quite different story-wise from the television series, and equally well-written).

*From House of Leaves xxii-xxiii:
This much I'm certain of: it doesn't happen immediately. You'll finish and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You'll be sick of feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won't matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you'll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a glimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how. You'll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place.
Old shelters--television, magazines, movies--won't protect you anymore. You might try scribbling in a journal, on a napkin, maybe even in the margins of this book. That's when you'll discover you no longer trust the very walls you always took for granted. Even the hallways you've walked a hundred times will feel longer, much longer, and the shadows, any shadow at all, will suddenly seem deeper, much, much, deeper.
You might try then, as I did, to find a sky so full of stars it will blind you again. Only no sky can blind you now. Even with all that iridescent magic up there, your eye will no longer linger on the light, it will no longer trace constellations. You'll care only about the darkness and you'll watch it for hours, for days, maybe even for years, trying in vain to believe you're some kind of indispensable, universe-appointed sentinel, as if just by looking you could actually keep it all at bay. It will get so bad you'll be afraid to look away, you'll be afraid to sleep.
Then no matter where you are, in a crowded restaurant or on some desolate street or even in the comforts of your own home, you'll watch yourself dismantle every assurance you ever lived by. You'll stand aside as a great complexity intrudes, tearing apart, piece by piece, all of your carefully conceived denials, whether deliberate or unconscious. and then for better or worse you'll turn, unable to resist, though try to resist you still will, fighting with everything you've got not to face the thing you most dread, what is now, what will be, what has always come before, the creature you truly are, the creature we all are, buried in the nameless black of a name.
And then the nightmares will begin. that on a dark night around Halloween and try not totally having a freak-out.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SLC Comic Con 2015 Schedule!

Hey alls! Long time no blog.

In short: my wife gave birth to a baby girl and I've been busy fathering. But more on that later, because tomorrow Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 begins! And I'm on paneling! Here's my schedule!
Logo courtesy of Comic Con website.

Thursday 24 Sept 4:00-4:50 PM (Room 151G): Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Icon and Heroine for the Ages
How. Cool. Is. This?!?!?!?! Me, on a BtVS panel! It's a good thing I did all that blogging earlier this year about it (and I guess that means I should probably finish the last BtVS blog post or two I've been meaning to write...). Anyway. Here's Comic Con's blurb for the panel:
There are a lot of fun, interesting discussions that can be had about Buffy. A conversation about Buffy herself and her impact as an icon is arguably more important than all of those discussions combined: Buffy means a lot of things to a lot of people. In this panel, her iconic status will be explored.
Friday 25 Sept 1:00-1:50 PM (Room 150G): I Ship It: Fandom's Favorite Couples
Man, someone must really think I have Things To Say about couples and relationships (considering I was on a "Romance" panel at CONduit and now this...). But I'm totally cool with it. Because you know what? I think I do have things to say. And I'm excited to say them. Here's how Comic Con describes the panel:
Troi and Riker, Harry and Ginny, Mal and Inara, Dean and Castiel...wait, what? Come for a discussion of what makes our favorite couples tick, why fans love to ship their own non-canon couples, and learn how to give some of those traits to the lovers in your own stories.

Saturday 26 Sept 2:00-2:50 PM (Room 151G): Welcome to Mystic Falls: Vampire Diaries and The Originals
I mentioned a few years ago some feelings I had about TVD--what I liked, and namely, what I thought they could do better. But the truth is, I've consistently watched the show for, what is it, six seasons now? There's a lot to like about TVD, and I'm excited to share my thoughts about it.
For fans of The Vampire Diaries, this panel will explore the characters we love (and love to hate), the plot lines that had us hooked, and the pitfalls the show has had to overcome. Come spend some time in Mystic Falls with us.

So there you have it! I'm very much looking forward to the Con, and to each of the panels I'm on. If you find yourself at Salt Lake Comic Con this year, drop by one of my panels, or just say hi! I'd love to chat!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Adventures in Alaska

So the other week Rachel and I went up to Alaska to raft the Gulkana river. It was a blast. I floated that river three or four times as a boy scout, and it was fun to go back with Rachel and the rest of my family.

My parents can count on one hand the times it's gotten above 80 degrees in AK since they moved up there almost twenty years ago, and--lucky us--it was in the mid-eighties the whole week we were on this rafting trip. We seriously couldn't have asked for better weather, and the river was perfect temperature for cooling off with a quick dip.

Anyway, check out the photos!

Meet 0.5 of the 2.5 places to eat in Glennallen (population: 493 persons): this Thai food truck.

Mmmmm. Thai food is delicious. You can tell by the way my eyes are closed in food-induced bliss.

The river was totes gorge.

I told stories in a writerly fashion around camp while wearing this very fine hat. Actually I didn't, but this photo makes it look like I did. That hat is very fine, though.

Our campsites along the river were F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

The Very Fine Hat makes another appearance, this time enhancing my rowing skills. You can see my brothers agree.

The Very Fine Hat strikes again, this time with an accomplice: the Very Fancy Hat.

Ah, life on the river. Also, the Very Fine Hat enjoys photobombing.

Me taking a break from rowing--not oaring, as I was wont to call it for some reason--probably because, by removing the Very Fine Hat (as seen in the lower left corner), I lost my rowing power.

The Very Fancy Hat on a solo op. Also, my wife and brother.

The "other raft." Quotation marks intended. Also pictured: Very Dandy Hat, Very Posh Hat, Very Snazzy Hat, and The-Hat-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named. 

My sister taking a turn at oaring. ROWING. I mean rowing. Also, notice the lethargic state of my brothers (slumped on the bow and stern of the raft, respectively)--that's due to their lack of Hats. obviously.

We camped along the river. Twice. (Which further proves that my wife is a total boss, considering she's preggo and all.) Also, if you look closely, you can just barely see the shadow of The-Hat-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named... #ominous

The whole fam. Eight, +1 on the way. (This is at Portage Glacier, days after the river trip. We did not raft through iceberg-infested waters.) Notice the stark lack of Hats--their souls were not meant to be bound up in these coils of mortality. But they will always return to us, in an hour of need. Because they are the Hats we deserve, not the ones we need right now.

'Twas a great trip.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wait, it's almost July?

And suddenly a month has passed. Yikes.

I've been busy. First of all, what should, *hopefully* be the final-ish revision of Duskfall (you can tell how confident I am about them already, can't you?) has taken more time and effort than I'd hoped. Ain't that always the way. I'm happy to be wrapping them up, though.

I've also joined a writing group, so that has been cool. I'm sure I'll talk more about that later, but I'm very happy about it so far.

Oh, and I went to Alaska. Had an adventure or two. Because, you know, that's where I'm from and such.

Between those things, which are for the most part very awesome, and some decidedly not-awesome other things like Hugo award controversies and the recent murders in Charleston, I've been avoiding saying much on the internet of late. But I think I've collected myself a bit and I'm ready to jump back into blogger-ness, which means continuing my How I Got Published and #FIF Series (Serieses? Serieses'ses''''? Stupid english...), checking in more with general updates on my writing (including writing group stuff) and life in general (including Alaska stuff), and maybe even sharing some thoughts I have about recent events. So, that's that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Exploration (or: How I Got Published, Part 10)

If you’re writing in the science fiction/fantasy genre, then conferences, conventions, and symposiums (hereafter referred to simply as “cons,” because I don’t want to write all that out) are a must.* I’ve been going for about eight years, and I love it. At first, they were my way of exploring the genre—expanding what I knew, and how I wrote. While they still serve that function, they also help me in other ways, now , namely networking, getting my name out there, and meeting new people.

Basically, cons are important. Let me get right down to it and tell you why you should be attending them:
  • To meet people! Other authors, agents, editors, reviewers, and—most importantly—fans (current or potential). Much of this counts as networking, which I’ll talk more about next week, but a great deal of it is just making friends (which is really what good networking comes down to anyway, I think). I’ve met many people at cons, a fair number of whom have become good friends. These people might be able to help my writing career someday, and they might not, but the truth is that’s not what’s important. (Contrary to what I though when I first attended cons—I thought I should only find and associate with people who could further my career, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wasted a lot of time at cons, psyched myself out of meeting a lot of cool people, and I generated more than a few awkward moments because of this mentality.) So go forth and meet folks—turns out they’re actually pretty cool.
  • To learn things! Most cons offer a plethora of panels and presentations on just about anything you can imagine, from the craft of writing to Battlestar Galactica to how to find/speak to agents and editors (and how not to, incidentally, which might be even more important) and more.
  • To see how professionals act at cons! If you’re an aspiring author, you’re also an aspiring participant on panels, readings, and signings. Get used to that, it’s an important part of the business—and a fun part, too! By watching professionals speak on panels, read their work, and interact with fans (and with other pros, for that matter), you can get an idea of how to act now. Ain’t nothing wrong with acting like a professional now, by the way—it’ll just make you more prepared for things down the road when you get invited to participate in cons.**
  • To get out of your own head! Writing is a solitary thing, and I actually think that’s a big reason why many of us choose to pursue it. But no one is an island, and just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean that I can survive on my own—I can’t. I need people, I need interaction, and at cons I can interact with my people. It’s a good thing.

If you’re an aspiring writer, you probably already know how important they are. So let’s get practical. Here are some tips on how to attend cons:
  • Be nice—to everyone. Whether you’re interacting with a pro (another author, an agent, an editor, etc.), a fan, or someone in between, kindness is the best strategy. If we can find a way to do this simply because it’s something we want to do, that’s ideal. But, if you need real motivation, just consider the fact that literally anyone you meet at cons could one day be a pro, and could one day have a say in your career. If you were kind to them when they were a wide-eyed fan, they’ll remember it. If you weren’t, well, they’ll remember that too, if you get my meaning.
  • Go with someone, or in a group, if possible. I didn’t do this, and I regret it. I wish I’d had the gumption to be a bit more outgoing at those early conventions, to ask folks I knew and friends I had if they’d be willing to share the cost of a hotel room or go talk to agents together or something. I didn’t, and I think things might’ve been a bit easier—or at least a bit more fun—if I had. If you don’t have friends that go to cons (I didn’t really, at least not at first), don’t panic. As I’ve said before, you can make friends there. Be nice, reach out to others. It’s scary, but it’s rewarding.
  • Soak up the panels and presentations. There’s a lot of information to be had, and I still try to absorb as much of it as I can. However, don’t focus too much on the panels. I did that in the beginning because I felt awkward walking alone outside of them. Panels were safe to me, so I filled my schedule from dawn to dusk. I learned a lot, but I think my time would’ve been better spent—and happier—if I’d focused more on connecting with other people.
  • Along those lines, TALK TO PEOPLE. Whether it’s in hallways between panels, in the dealer’s room, and especially at the bar in the evenings. If a group invites you out to a meal with them, go ahead and skip that “Networking” panel (or whatever) that you were going to attend and go to lunch with them! Doing is better than thinking about doing 100% of the time. (That said, don’t invite yourself to go along with a group to lunch—if you get an invite, be gracious and happy about it. If you don’t, no worries—you will.)
  • Be as professional as possible. You don’t have to a suit or anything, or even business casual for that matter—I usually wear Buffy t-shirts and a jacket of some kind (because they usually keep temps low at these cons)—but you should look nice. (Of course, that might have different connotations depending on your personal style, and that’s okay—cons are a wonderful place to be exactly who you are. Although I will say, if you’re trying to network, it might be a good idea to hold off on the cosplay, as fun as that can be.) Shower daily and wear deodorant (you don’t think I’d have to say this, but trust me, I do). Brush your teeth. Carry mints around. First impressions are a big deal; be conscious of yours.
  • Take advantage of free/cheap opportunities. There are a lot of them at cons, mostly in the forms of kaffeeklatsches, workshops, pitch sessions, and of course panels. Free things are the best—if you can get into a conversation with an author and ten other people (a kaffeeklatsch), go for it! But you find an opportunity to have your work critiqued by a couple pros and it costs twenty bucks or so, I suggest you take it. I did that a few years ago, and it was more than worth it—one of the pros who critiqued my work even gave me a shout out (sort of) in one of the panels she was on! It was awesome, and a great opportunity to meet other writers.***
  • Don’t be a pitching robot. It isn’t cool to go around to everyone you meet and immediately pitch your book or whatever. Chill out! Almost everyone will eventually ask why you’re there, anyway. Let it come up naturally. (There is some exception to this when talking to agents and editors—there isn’t always time to get to know someone—but that’s a subject for another post.)
  • After you’ve attended a few cons, think about attending one or two outside your genre. I’ve attended AWP and the Symposium on Books for Young Readers. While neither experience was particularly my cup of tea, it was helpful to see how things worked outside of my own genre.
  • Have fun! That’s what cons are for—they’re for people who love all things SF/F to come together, talk about what they love, and get to know one another. Soak it up, enjoy it, and be a part of the experience.

More and more, I’m learning to let go and really focus on that last thing, and it’s been fantastic. Cons are, by nature, inclusive. I've attended a fair number of them by now, and I intend to explore a whole lot more. Come be a part of it!

* I kind of think they’re important in pretty much any genre, too—but, of course, being a fantasy writer, I’ll talk about what I know :-).

** A caveat, here: not all professionals are worth emulating. Most of them certainly are, but some aren’t. Please be aware of who is treating others with kindness and courtesy—not only respecting people’s time and space, but their ideas and opinions as well—and who isn’t. Try to be like the former group of people.

*** Another caveat: don’t get ripped off. Like I said, if this kind of thing costs you twenty bucks or so, go for it! You might as well try it, and if it’s a good experience, wonderful, if not, you at least know it isn’t worth it. But if things start getting pricey, don’t feel bad about not jumping at those opportunities. They aren’t necessary, trust me.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

THE BABADOOK and Why Horror is Important

I watched The Babadook recently, and it was wonderful. (And it’s on Netflix, so you should totes go check it out, post haste!) It also got me thinking about some things. [Be ye warned: SPOILERS FOLLOW.]

Fear: The Great Leveler

First: The Babadook is the best kind of Horror. It’s psychological, not slasher or gorified trash. I’m not a fan of the pornographic style of Horror that uses images for the explicit purpose of eliciting a physical reaction from me.* Rather, the Horror that makes me think, that tells a good story—that’s what I’m in to.

The Babadook is psychological. It’s terrifying. But it also tells a great story with good characters, and I think it’s more about grief than anything else; the main character, a young mother named Amelia, lost her husband seven years ago, but she tells herself and others that she has moved on—in the repeated, scripted way that only people who have obviously not moved on can.

What a horrifying thing to lose a spouse. What a terrible, haunting monster that kind of grief must be. But here’s a truth: that stuff happens. It happens to a lot of people. It might happen to me; it might happen to you. That’s life, and as unfathomably wonderful as life can be, it is nevertheless fraught with horror.

Hence my appreciation of the genre. Certain types of Horror can be cathartic. They help us deal with emotions and trauma we’ve experienced, or might experience down the road. Our own personal horrors are ineffable**—we are all uniquely broken, and suffer unique trauma. No matter how many words we put on a page, no matter how much we talk about what has happened (if we indeed find the courage required to do such a thing), no one can truly understand exactly what we have experienced. And that’s why Horror, as a genre, is important. It gives us a shared experience; it helps us feel less alone.

Unity Through Metaphor

Horror, and storytelling in general, accomplish this chiefly through metaphor. But don’t take my word for it; read it from someone smarter than me:

Metaphors…allow us to communicate about events, fears, and emotions that may not yet be understood fully by members of a society. Thus, metaphor serves as a way to discuss topics for which we do not yet have a language, or for which our vocabulary cannot reach in a one-dimensional way….metaphor creates layered dimensions of understanding by which the speaker and the listener can better communicate and through which a level of emotional or philosophical understanding can be reached that would not be possible with a straight description of the situation or feeling.

…metaphor has the ability to say the unsayable, thus haunting us with the idea that the metaphor and the reality may not really be that far apart. (“High School Is Hell: Metaphor Made Literal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer” by Tracy Little)

Metaphor provides a vehicle through which ineffability can be (somewhat) bridled.  As I’ve mentioned, metaphor is one of the main reasons I loved the BtVS TV series so much. Seeing the myriad metaphors on Buffy helped me to understand—and, in some cases, confront—struggles of my own.

Horror—good Horror—uses metaphor to allow us as readers/watchers/consumers to participate in this catharsis of shared experience. Fear is the great Leveler, and metaphor its scythe…and that’s actually kind of a great thing. Let me explain.

Grief and The Babadook

I loved The Babadook for many reasons—it terrifies on the visual, visceral, and psychological levels, it works as a story, it presents solid characters—but most of all because it’s one of the best examples of horror as catharsis that I’ve seen in quite some time. Mr. Babadook—the monster in the film—is a metaphor for the main character’s grief. That’s really all Mr. Babadook is, when you boil him down to his most concentrated state. If you don’t believe me, check out these lines from the children’s book that herald the monster’s arrival in the film (this is not the complete poem, just selections that were most applicable):

If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look,
You can’t get rid of the Babadook.

We can’t get rid of grief; we see reminders of it everywhere. It stays with us, at least on some level, forever.

…you’ll know that he’s around
You’ll see him if you look…

Grief, unprocessed, follows us around. We may not even notice it unless we really choose to see.

See him in your room at night,
And you won’t sleep a wink.

We may be able to white-knuckle our way through the day, but when we’re alone, at night, we can no longer deny it. Grief keeps us up, wondering, questioning, fearing.

I’ll wager with you, I’ll make you a bet.
The more you deny, the stronger I’ll get.
You start to CHANGE when I get in,
The Babadook growing, right under your skin.

Unchecked, unmonitored, un-dealt-with, grief changes us—and not for the better.

(That’s just analyzing a few lines of the poem, by the way; the way Mr. Babadook assaults Amelia and her son, even the way he’s presented on a visual level, scream grief. Re-watch the film and you’ll see what I mean.)

Amelia, terrified both by what Mr. Babadook is doing to her and what he signifies, denies his existence. But, just as the poem promises, the more she denies, the stronger the Babadook becomes, until he finally takes over Amelia completely and she becomes the monster. Only the love of her son, his willingness to protect her, and her ultimate acceptance of her husband’s death save her.

That in and of itself would make a phenomenal film, but The Babadook’s ending truly brought it home for me. Amelia and her son do not kill the Babadook; they do not even succeed in banishing it. The ending reveals that the Babadook still lives in their basement. In a curious final sequence, Amelia and her son gather worms from their garden, and Amelia descends alone into the basement to feed them to the Babadook. (When her son asks if he will ever get to see it, Amelia responds: “One day. When you’re bigger.”) The monster, obviously unsettled, towers menacingly over Amelia in the basement. But Amelia actually comforts the thing, using soft, soothing sounds, until the Babadook takes the worms and retreats to a dark basement corner. Amelia then returns to the light of day outside, and her son.

“How was it?” he asks.

“It was quiet today,” Amelia says, with a soft, peaceful smile.

And there it is. Amelia has not only confronted her grief, but she is learning to deal with it—to live with it—on a daily basis. And she is happier for it.

Do you see what I mean when I say horror is important?

I believe that each and every one of us will experience hopelessness, despair, and genuine terror in our lives, if we haven’t already. Disaster, abuse, heartbreak, horror, addiction, death. We are all broken. But no matter how deep our damage, the best thing it can do for us is help us see how unendingly beautiful life can be.

And, at least in my opinion, horror can help that along.***

* This seems as good a time as any to say that I certainly don’t enjoy, let alone appreciate, all forms and sub-genres of Horror. Some sub-genres offer little to no value, and others can be actively harmful. The Horror to which I’m referring in this essay has a purpose, has meaning, and while it explores dark places, it only makes the light that much more beautiful.

** “Ineffable” is one of my favorite words. It means, basically, that something is beyond description, too great or extreme to be harnessed by language.

*** Quoth Stephen King: "Here is the final truth of horror movies: They do not love death, as some have suggested; they love life. They do not celebrate deformity but by dwelling on deformity, they sing of health and energy. By showing us th emissaries of the damned, they help us to rediscover the smaller (but never petty) joys of our own lives. ... Omega, the horror film sings in those children's voices. Here is the end. Yet the ultimate subtext that underlies all good horror films is, But not yet. Not this time. Because in the final sense, the horror movie is the celebration of those who feel they can examine death because it does not yet live in their own hearts." (Danse Macabre)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Updated CONduit Schedule

Hey everyone! Conduit XXV starts tomorrow and I'm totes going to be there! I posted my schedule a couple days ago, but it looks like it's been updated. So, without further ado, here's what I'll be doing over the next three days...

Fri 22 May 2:00 PM (Snow): Shot Through the Heart: Writing Romance
Yeah. I'm on a romance panel. If there was ever a thing more lulzy, I haven't heard about it. But it is what it is, and I'm going to crush it ya'll! Here's Conduit's blurb for the panel:

A good romance makes our spirits soar and our hearts sing. A bad romance on the other hand... eh.…Creating a good love story is an art form. Join us and learn how to create a couple, how to make the audience love them, how to make them right for each other, how to make us believe they would fall in love, and how to make us desperately want them to fall in love.

Sat 23 May 11:00 AM (Snow): The Heroine's Journey
I'm particularly excited about this one--it's a panel I proposed, based largely on what I've been studying about the Hero's Journey and the Virgin's Promise recently. While Campbell's monomyth (another name for the Hero's Journey) has certainly revolutionized how we view and analyze story, it's been good for me to broaden that view a bit and include more perspectives in that analysis. This panel (I think, I don't know who's moderating it so you never know) will address whether the Hero's Journey is outdated or not, what value we can find in tweaking it (if any), and what alternatives exist. Conduit's blurb:

Campbell’s Monomyth has proved a very effective way of viewing and analyzing story. But does it lack a more feminine approach? Are there alternatives to the Hero’s Journey that provide a more holistic view, or is THJ all-inclusive as-is?

Sat 23 May 3:00 PM (Arches): Magnificent Bastards, Glorious Scoundrels, and Resplendent Rascals: A superb case of villainy!
This is also a new one to which I was added only recently--but I'm pumped. Villains make the world go 'round. Here's what Conduit says about it:

What makes a great villain? What are those qualities that makes the best villains? Is it better to have a sympathetic villain, or do people prefer the irredeemable monster? How do you make a character people love to hate? 

Sat 23 May 4:00 PM (Arches): The Lovecraft Panel
As far as I know this will be a pretty typical Lovecraftian panel, talking about elder gods, Cthulhu, and Necronomicons galore! I've been a Lovecraft fan for a number of years, now, so I'm excited to chat about his work. Conduit's blurb:

Every convention needs a good panel exploring the world of H.P. Lovecraft, our gang of Cthulhu chasers leads the way.

Sun 24 May 1:00 PM (Arches): A Touch of the Macabre
I'm not entirely sure what this panel will be about, but I think it has something to do with horror, dark fantasy, and the line between the two (if one exists at all). This will be a fun one, I think, as my stuff is usually in the dark fantasy realm, but I've also dabbled in horror. And, based on a few things I've seen and studied lately, I'm more invested in good horror than ever before. I'm excited to share some of the insights I've had. Conduit's blurb:

What makes a horror story? Where does the line from “Just a Fantasy” become “A Nightmare.” Neil Gaiman and others regularly straddle this line, how do they do it, and why do we like it?

So that's my schedj. If you're in the area, you should check out Conduit! And if you're already going, you should check out one of my panels! And, as always, look for me throughout the con! Introduce yourself, we can be pals, etc. :-D