BayCon 2016

Last weekend I spent with my friends and chosen family at BayCon.  It felt like both returning home and a new convention.

The prior BayCon’s I had attended were at the Hyatt at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The construction of Levi Stadium caused that hotel to no longer be an option, so the con moved back to the San Mateo Marriott Hotel.  This was my first year what is lovingly nicknamed the M. C. Escher hotel, due to the fact that there is a second floor for the convention rooms, and a second floor for the hotel rooms, neither of which are accessible by the same set of elevators.  Once I had that figured out, navigating the rest of the con was smooth sailing.

This convention I was asked to be there as a costumer.  Friday, I had a great time swapping stories with Jean Batt and Denise Tanaka in Costuming With Nontraditional Materials.  I can neither confirm nor deny that a knit tribble may have been flung into the audience.  Then I was off to Cosplay Is Not Consent with Anastasia Hunter and Jean Batt to speak about the best ways to interact with people wearing costumes. Then I scampered off to String Theory where instead of ribbons, I gave out a pattern for a Crochet Badge Necklace I developed. I spoke about my costumes and other nerdy things I have made, or as much as I could since I was then losing my voice. Not surprising since I did three panels back-to-back-to-back.  I’ve learned my lesson to never do that again.

Courtesy of Denise Tanaka

Saturday I did not have any panels I was on.  I did go to the Klingon 101, How Can Science Fiction And Fantasy Blend Well, and Costume In Fiction.  Then I scooted upstairs to prepare for the Variety Show.  Cruella De Vil was a hit, but I could not compete with the power of the Dark Side of the Cute.  Top costuming award went to Denise Tanaka and Eudora dressed as General Leia Organa and Kylo Ren.

Cruella De Vil Back
Courtesy of Denise Tanaka

Sunday was another panel-less day.  I sat in on Fantasy Tropes, Beyond Olympus and Asgard, A Chat With Lawrence Schoen, A Chat With David Gerrold, spent too much money at the Charity Auction supporting SETI, and laughed hysterically at the Let’s Pretend We’re Famous panel.  I did a circuit of the party floor and discovered the free books at the Zine Room.  They jumped into my arms!  I swear!

Monday things wound down.  At Is Serial Fiction Right For You, I lost a D-20 roll off to Steve Mix.  I tried not to fangirl too hard at A Chat With The Library Bards, who remembered me as Maleficent from the prior Con-volution. My final panel of the con was one I was on with  Chris O’Halloran and John O’Halloran, Are Cons Good For Your Health.  I made it through Closing Ceremonies, but was too wiped out to attend Hiss And Purr.

This doesn’t include all the meals shared, getting hugs as I passed old friends on the way to panels, and making new friends. All in all, it was an enjoyable weekend.

BayCon 2016 Panic Rituals

I’m a week out from BayCon and going through my last minute panic rituals.  It involves a lot of comments along the lines of  “Oh thank God!  It fits!” as I work on the last minute details of my costume.  I’m also making so many lists of things I need to get done before I go.  This post is one of the items on the list.

Yes, I’m panicked enough to add items to my list just so I can have that tiny surge of satisfaction at checking it off.  Like the feeling I get when I check off the item about reminding you I’ll be presenting at the following panels —

Costuming With Nontraditional Materials And Skills
Friday 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM, Connect 6
Can’t sew? Don’t limit your cosplay to fabric based items.

Cosplay Is Not Consent
Friday 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM, Synergy 5
That cosplayer is a person with feelings and boundaries. Our panelists discuss photography and etiquette for working with cosplayers.

String Theory
Friday 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM, Synergy 2
No, not that one. Come learn about geeky crafting with yarn- what patterns for fandom are out there and where to find them.

Variety Show 
Saturday 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Convene
The BayCon Variety show returns for its 3 rd year! Join our toastmasters The Library Bards on Saturday night. This year will put the V in variety, with a short play, juggling, singing, dancing, storytelling, and even a special burlesque treat (PG-13). And of course, our talented costumers showing off their latest creations… And the return of the Mixy Awards!

Are Cons Good For Your Health?
Monday 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM, Convene
Con crud and con fatigue from improper self-care are real issues. Are there also positive health benefits to being surrounded by your tribe when your health is poor?

Otherwise I’ll be out and about. Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Coming Up For Air

The last few weeks have been rough for me, as you can see from how often I’ve been posting.

It started just after FogCon.  I got hit hard by a cold, despite making sure I slept and stayed hydrated during the con. It knocked me out for about a week.  It was all I could do to get to my day job, and by the end of the week, I wasn’t feeling human yet.  I skipped going to Silicon Valley ComicCon.

The unfortunate truth in my home is when I get sick, my mother gets sick shortly after.  A week into my cold, she started showing the same symptoms. She was struck harder and is just now recovering.  Needless to say, this has put a huge crimp in my writing goals for that month.  I kept chugging along, so I do have some progress to report, even if it’s not as much as I want.

I’m in the process of querying Chaos Wolf and submitting several short stories. I have to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Still, it’s hard not to get discouraged as the rejections come in. So I’m following some advice a friend gave me.  When one rejection comes in, I send another query or submission out.

The other thing eating up my time is my costume building for this year’s conventions.  I need to have the bulk of the knitting done before May 27th and I’m not sure I will have it done.  I’ve got contingency plans in place, but I really want this finished so I can show it off.  So all I can really do is when my fingers aren’t at the keyboard, they are holding my knitting needles.

But Mom is finally recovering from the cold, I’ve got another round of queries and submissions ready to send, and the costume is growing inch by inch.  I’ll achieve my goals eventually, even if it wasn’t quite how I planned.

Worldcon 73 Write Up

Little Bit at Badger Run
Little Bit at Badger Run

I went to my first Worldcon this year, and it will not be my last.

Because my friend Jennifer Carson has access to a vacation rental in Klamath Falls, I decided I would make this a two week vacation.  This involves, I kid you not, about six months of prep work making sure that Mom would have access to what she needed and be cared for while I was gone.

I took off on Sunday, August 16th. I stopped to pick up Denise Tanaka and then we were off on our grand adventure. Want to know how bad the drought in California is?  Drive up Interstate 5 to the Oregon border.  I lost track of the number of dry creek beds we passed.  We gaped at how little snow was on Mount Shasta. In Klamath Falls, Oregon, we met up with Jennifer Carson.  While at Klamath Falls, we visited Badger Run Wildlife Rehab.  Our stops on the 18th included the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon before stopping for the night in Richland, Oregon to visit my friend Tabitha.

Richland, Oregon. They sky above is hazy from smoke
View from our balcony in Richland, Oregon. The sky is hazy from smoke.  No filter was used.

When we arrived at Spokane, or Smokeane as we renamed it, on August 19th, I went through a whirlwind of check-ins, hotel, badge, and Masquerade. I met up with Elanor Hughes, who flew in the day before.  And that was when I started to split into two personalities – writer me and costumer me.

Over the course of the con, writer me had dinner with friends from the Bay Area that I only seem to see at cons and people who I seem only to see at cons like Arley Sorg, Setsu Uzume, and Effie Seiberg.  After attending a reading by ElizaBeth Gillian.  Writer me also attended a Writing Excuses podcast recording, met with Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace of Ditch Diggers and Alasdair Stuart of Escape Artists Inc.  Writer me pitched Chaos Wolf to an agent, which was a learning experience. (More on that in a future post.).  Writer me hung out with the Leasspell WordWright Guild.  Writer me went to panels, took notes, watched the Hugo Awards live in Guinan’s Place, and wrote my first draft of a dragon and princess story when I was in the hotel room.

Costumer me had to be at my practice time on Friday to walk the stage and go over my presentation.  Costumer me had a blast at one of the smoothest run Masquerades I have had the pleasure of attending, and one of the best stocked green rooms.  Costumer me rocked my Knit Klingon Warrior outfit on stage, cheered the other awesome costumers there, and won both the Best Use Of A Sweater Pattern Award and the International Costuming Guild ’s Rising Star (Master Class) Award.

We drove straight back to Klamath Falls on Monday the 24th.  Our only real stop was at The Blacksmith in Bend for dinner.  I was a good girl and drove past an alpaca ranch advertising fleece and yarn without twitching under the theory that there were two yarn stores in Klamath Falls.

Further research the next day revealed that the two stores were out of business.  I found some at the local Goodwill, so the trip wasn’t completely yarnless. I spent a day being lazy and then drove back on Thursday the 27th.

Something has been on my mind since I left the con. Both writer me and costumer me had fun.  But there was frustration when I wanted to attend a writing panel and was unable to due to Masquerade responsibilities.  I’ve talked to a few people about wearing hallway costumes when at a convention as a writer and gotten mixed responses.  Hall costuming is part of how I ended up in Masquerades, and to be honest, it is what I am more well known for.  I’m not sure I want to give up hall costuming yet.  I wouldn’t pitch to an agent or meet with an editor in the corset I bought at the con, but I definitely missed walking around in one.  I haven’t figured out how to integrate the two mes into one persona.  It may be something I have to evaluate on a con-by-con basis.

Breaking Blog Silence

I’ve been running around like crazy getting ready for WorldCon.  I’m at the point of preparations where I question why I do this when it takes so much work to get ready for a vacation.

On the plus side, I do have the latest draft of Chaos Wolf finished and out to my beta readers. Unless I hear something completely unexpected, the next draft will be a polish draft.  After that, I begin the submission process.

That’s after WorldCon and most likely after Con-Volution.  My focus on the moment is the WorldCon Masquerade.  This will be the first time I have participated in a masquerade of this level.  If you want to see me in all my Knit Klingon glory, come to the Masquerade on Friday the 21st.  The doors to the INB Performing Arts Center open at 7:00 PM.  The show starts at 8:00 PM

I am not on the schedule, but I will be at the Masquerade Show and Tell on Saturday at 1:00 PM.  Stop by and get a close look at the wonderful costumes that will be on display and listen to us answer questions about them.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Blog Vacation For The Month Of August

Gone To The ConIn mid August, I will be driving to Spokane to attend Worldcon. In addition to attending panels and hanging out with awesome people, I will be participating in the Masquerade.  I’ve got a lot I need to get done before I go — make sure the Klingon costume is properly packed, prep music and documents needed, finish off the latest draft of Chaos Wolf on the off chance that someone would like to see it, and get the odd dozen or so things done at home so Mom can survive without me for the two weeks I will be gone.  Then when I get home I dive back into my day job and caretaking role as I recover from the con and get ready for Con-Volution.

That’s a lot for me to accomplish, and something’s got to give. Right now it appears to be my health. (As I type this, I am recovering from a summer cold and a case of conjunctivitis in my left and my right eye.)  So I’m putting the blog on hiatus through the beginning of September.

I will post my appearance schedule at the con when I have the firm times.  I’m not on any panels officially, but I am planning to participate in a post-Masquerade Show-and-Tell panel. I may post pictures or other news from time to time, but I don’t expect to resume my normal schedule until September 7th.  See you all then.

The Clicking Sounds You Hear…

… are from knitting needles and not a keyboard.

Yesterday, I finished a set of gloves for my BayCon Variety Show costume.  This leaves me with the following list of things to do –

  • assemble the headpiece
  • assemble the staff
  • finish modifying the dress
  • make a cloak
  • make a redacted
  • find a makeup tutorial
  • edit and burn the music

That’s a lot to get done in a short amount of time, and it’s only the things I’m remembering off the top of my head at the moment.

Needless to say, my writing time has taken a hit.  I’ve put actual writing to one side, but I have been scribbling down ideas.  I also have come up with a possible solution to a problem scene.  I’ve written down the notes on how to fix it, but I haven’t written it yet.  I’m thinking June now will be when I can get back to the rewrites.

For the moment, it’s time for me to pick up my needles and get back to work.

Knitting And A Time Crunch

If you’ve read my bio or seen me at cons, you know that I cosplay.   I’ve become known locally for my costumes created using knitted or crocheted pieces. This year will be no exception, since I have been asked to speak again at BayCon.

I’m behind where I want to be in the fabrication phase, partially because it took me a bit longer to figure out a technical problem, a charity scarf that I needed to get finished, and three fuzzy distractions.  The scarf is complete, the technical problem resolved, and the distractions are being taught not to play with my ball of yarn.  (If you believe the last one, I would like to introduce you to my friend George C. Parker.)

Saturday, after finishing the I reviewed what needs to be done for the costume.  Then I consulted my calendar and did some math.  Six weeks until BayCon.  No, that can’t be right.

It’s right.  I need to get to work on the costume.  I have a lot to get done in a short time.  I can complete it in time for the Variety Show if I buckle down and get to work.

This calls for a reshuffling of my schedule. Unless I get bit by a story bug that won’t let go, I’m going to be spending more of my time in April knitting and less writing.  I might even post the occasional picture here too.  Look for this year’s costume’s reveal June first.

A Long Time Ago In A Yarn Store Far, Far Away…

Giza Secura Baycon 2014 Photo By Chris Castro

My Jedi  Knight Giza Secura was a character I came up with shortly after finishing Kn’tt’r of House Cr’chet.  I had wanted to make a knit lightsaber for a while and the Twilek hat was the perfect touch to make my Jedi unusual.  I designed a robe, an tabard/obi, a belt, and modified a slipper pattern to make boots.  The costume came out almost exactly as I envisioned it.  And while it didn’t win at the BayCon 2014 Variety Show, it was a hit.

My panels were a success.  People asked intelligent questions, and I hope I gave intelligent answers.   I have already been asked to come back present at the 2015 convention.






This week’s Puff update –
Weekly Apiary Puffs Completed: 2
Total Apiary Puffs Completed: 67
Total Leftover Skeins Busted: 15

Equally Skilled With A Bat’leth And Knitting Needles

Taken by Elanor Finster at BayCon 2012

Costumes are spawned by small ideas, not huge ones.  My award winning Klingon K’ntt’r of House Cr’chet costume is a fine example of that.

As I was leaving the BayCon 2012 Masquerade, I got stopped by a few people.  They were aware that this was my first masquerade, and encouraged me to keep on making costumes.  One person asked me if I had an idea for next year.

I had been so focused on doing the Wonder Woman costume that the thought about doing another one.  No sooner that he had stopped speaking than two words popped in my head – knit bat’leth.  Of course if I make a bat’leth, I need a Klingon costume

That lead me on an adventure of buying all the gray yarn I could lay hands on.  And watching all the episodes I could find featuring Lursa and B’etor.  And much tedious knitting.

I purchased a wooden form of a bat’leth to cover with freeform crochet.  The uniform top is based on a tank top combined with a shrug and custom shoulder guards.  The headpiece is based on a hat I saw and thought “Klingon head ridges.”  It was over six months of knitting and fretting that I would get it right.

I got it right.  This costume won Best Workmanship at BayCon 31 and Best In Master Class at Westercon 66.

For more photos, please look at my Flickr photo album or the photos taken by Jade Falcon during Westercon 67 at Geek Girl Crafts.

In the Bay Area May 23rd through the 26th?  Want to hear about me talk about knitting?  Want to see my latest costume in person?  I will be at BayCon 2014 giving panels on the inspirations and ideas that lead to my Best Workmanship and Best in Show costumes as well as participating in the Variety Show

This week’s Puff update –
Weekly Apiary Puffs Completed: 2
Total Apiary Puffs Completed: 65
Total Leftover Skeins Busted: 15

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