Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Broad Universe Anticipation

I've run Rapid Fire Readings, I've worked book tables, I've been on panels - but at no other convention have I had the pleasure and responsibility to be this deeply involved with Broad Universe promotion.

And, in case you're new to the blog:

Broad Universe ( is an international organization dedicated to promoting women in science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genre work.

(I stole most of that elevator speech from Phoebe Wray, Prez of the Motherboard, to give credit where credit's due.)

If it wasn't for all the help and support of BU, I would not likely have as many fiction publications and experience as I do now. We have a great Yahoo! Groups list where we do a lot of networking and cheering each other on. We bring each others books to conventions. We organize Rapid Fire Readings (where we squeeze as many women readers into whatever panel slot an convention gives us) at as many conventions as we can. We have several newsletters and online lists of member publications. And, we continue to grow with new programs - such as the Mary Shelley Birthday Party this year put on by Broads in the New England Area.

Onto Worldcon:

In addition to the Party! which I already posted about, Broad Universe hosted an information table where members could put out promotional items about their publications. We also had our freshly printed New Release book, highlighting members' pubs for 2009, information on the organization, and advertising for our Rapid Fire Reading and Party. There were stickers, bookmarks, free CDs, palm flyers and more - and I don't think I ever found the info table unattended - so someone was always there to talk to interested con attendees.

Our Rapid Fire Reading showcased 12 members (was 15, but the time & room change lost 3). Despite the room & time change, we ended up with a good-sized audience - and we had a lot of fun as we usually do. The selections included all science-fiction, fantasy, horror, flash, poetry, and even some filk! I read a little from "Party Crashers," and then shared my poem "Love Song for an Immortal."

Another early hour of 9AM didn't detract much from the "Broad Universe Presents…" panel, either. We still had a good crowd and some excellent discussion about women's presence in genre fiction - and how to help women gain more of a stronghold when things are still unfairly favoring male writers. We shared statistics, anecdotes, and positive plans - many of the conversations following us out into the hall, into other panels, and even to our party!

There are a lot of reasons women need the support of organizations like Broad Universe. For example, here is a page of stats from our site. Phoebe shared even more up-to-date statistics at our panel. Other points that were brought up is that only about a third of the submissions going out are of women, yet there are so many women who want to write and are writing - but aren't submitting. Events like Broad Universe Mailing Parties remind women to submit their work - so they CAN be published.

Check out the Broad Universe webpage, our newsletter - and most of all, our members' publications. Look for us at more conventions - especially in 2010 where I'm already scheduling Rapid Fire Readings. It will be our 10th Anniversary - so we're in celebratory mode for how far we've come, even as we continue to reach for the stars - where we ought to be.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Another major moment of awesomeness at Worldcon Anticipation was the BLUMBUFS (By Light Unseen Media, Broad Universe, Fae Sithein) party.

This was the BIGGEST FRACKING PARTY I have ever been a part of throwing… and it was WHOA! For those who are new to throwing convention parties, or thinking about them… below is our story of total success.

Inanna, Christy, & I had thrown a bunch of ideas and planning sessions together months before the actual convention. After the death in Christy's family, it was just Inanna and I doing the planning and managing. At the convention, we had the help of Phoebe Wray, Kathryn Sullivan, and our newly well-met roommate & Broad, Ana Cristina Rodrigues. Everyone helped set-up, and Kathy kindly took the special designation of Door Dragon, handing out 465 stickers before she had to leave at about 1AM (& the party went well past 2AM). (THANK YOU ALL!!)

In pre-setting up & organizing, convention volunteers and the ConSuite went beyond the call of duty to advise and help us out. Thanks Cindy & David & Joel especially!! Even before the convention, Anne Methe was exceptionally patient in answering all our questions and giving us party advice. Major kudos to the volunteers and staff!

Inanna was in charge of the decorations and music. Her flyers got a lot of attention - her acronym of all the co-hosts peaked a lot of curiosity and was remembered by people throughout the convention whenever I referred to it. And the music and gorgeous decorations really drew people in. Did any of us think to take pictures????? Maybe next time… But, she suspended streamers in our party colors of silver, blue, black & white, with a bunch of balloons from the cathedral ceiling - something a lot of people complimented on. Lots of people also came in to hear the mix she made of music from SF/F movies and culture.

I was in charge of food & booze-a-mahol… something I'm rather comfortable with. It took two shopping trips - one with stuff we could carry over the 10 or so blocks from the IGA to the hotel, and one in the ConSuite van for the stuff that was NOT so easy to carry (bottles of juice, ice, and massive food platters).

We moved into the 2-story Maisonette Suite, and I transformed the upstairs bathroom into a kitchenette with the help if ice and the kettle Inanna brought for me. The tub served as one cooler/refrigerator and the super-Coleman-cooler made fridge #2. Extra cookie sheets created top-levels so cold could sink onto the food trays to preserve them longer… and through the Coleman cooler to harden Jello shots. (For those of you interested in how one might make Jello shots at a convention without an actual fridge, sign up for the Novel Friends Newsletter, where I will reveal this along with my bad-ass jello shot recipes! (trish (at) anovelfriend (dot) com) )

I also set up the bar to block off the back hall so we roommates would feel comfortable with the crowd separated from our luggage, laptops, and other stuff. J It also facilitated smooth movement through the downstairs and upstairs nicely, letting people mill easily.

In addition to my 2 kinds of Jello shots, I mixed a batch of Black Death Punch - a recipe I created just for the convention based on the alcohol we could obtain easily. I will keep the recipe secret here. Come to a future party I help throw to find out more… Mwahahaha! I had some rum, vodka, and amaretto leftover, so I also mixed some soda drinks for as long as I could.

As self-appointed Bar Broad, I had the mixed blessing of being able to chat a little with almost everyone (and we estimate over 500 guests!) - but only a little. There were a few friends & acquaintances I'd made at previous cons or this con, as well as other friends from my old job, and just plain Interesting People who I didn't have the chance to talk to at length. I am very sorry about that… and I hope we can find each other at future conventions! I was also rather happy with my bartending & barplanning in general. My supplies lasted through the entire party with no leftovers and no turning anyone down - except for those with more specific drink requests than I had - root beer, virgin fruit juice, brand name sodas, and beer. However, I knew these were available at other parties, so I didn't feel too bad. J

Despite being wonderful fun, the party did its job promoting all three co-hosts. Inanna sold out of her books, most of the Broad Universe information was taken and I had many great conversations with those I look forward to seeing on our boards, and I got to get a lot of people interested in Fae Sithein! (Note: see if Christy wants to post our joint blog on the center part of

Look for us at future conventions… I'll try and keep my website and blog updated with upcoming events.

Just in case you want to party. ;)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What's all this about Neil Gaiman?

Okay… I know many who read my blog are already SF/F/H readers/geeks/fans/etc… so Gaiman's awesomeness may be self-evident.

But not to everyone.

In short: Neil Gaiman is a highly intelligent and gifted writer who has done amazing work crossing the boundaries of genre, media, and literary in ways that may require non-Euclidian geometry. Most agree he's also an attractive person - appearance-wise as well as personality-wise. (But not more than my existing Husband of Awesome, sorry, Mr. Gaiman.) He treats colleagues and fans with respect and shares his world liberally through social media… which also creates an illusion of familiarity. (We know what he feeds his dog, for example, and that his youngest daughter loves the Jonas Brothers, and that he's madly in love with girlfriend Amanda Palmer.) You can find out more on his website: or his Twitter feed: @neilhimself

All that aside… This is why _I_ am a fan.

I returned to school after leaving a rather unfulfilling job of 3 years in the financial industry. I never finished grad school, however… and compared to my excellence in undergrad (Commonwealth Scholar of not one but TWO majors and a minor in Spanish - all in 4 years), my grad school work was lacking, painful… and made me for the first time in my life HATE writing.

It was depressing.

There was one highlight, though: Gothic Lit. It wasn't the only course I earned an A in, but it was the hardest course I earned an A in (one of only 2 As, I may add…)

Crux: One assignment required analysis of something modern that was clearly influenced by original Gothic literature.

I announced this to the H-of-A, who promptly dropped on my desk the first four graphic novels of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

I know I'm not the only one who can say they were changed forever by this series… I don't know if people were changed quite the same.

In essence, I found my "mojo." I gave a fabulous analytical presentation of Preludes & Nocturnes, and then turned around and did my final project on purposeful ambiguity in A Game of You, Seasons of Mist, and Ann Radcliffe's The Italian.

Honestly, it was the only paper I was truly happy writing for this whole time; it returned my confidence. All my other assignments, and especially my thesis, were bringing me to tears. I got lost in the world of Sandman for a few years, taking its lead and making some major life changes. People started paying me to write, so I put my efforts there and never finished my thesis. I don't regret it.

Fast forward through reading anything else by Gaiman I could get my hands on… and onto Worldcon Anticipation's Call for Papers that appeared in my inbox.

I already knew Gaiman was one of the Guests of Honor, and I absolutely wanted to see him. I'd worked my way onto other convention participant lists by now… but this was the World Science Fiction Convention! Could I get in here? I knew my paper was good from college - but that wasn't saying much since general academic writing now terrified me; I was convinced I couldn't do it well. Determined to defy my evil inner-critic, I tweaked my idea about ambiguity and narrowed the topic to A Game of You, based on excellent feedback from my education colleagues.

The paper was accepted. I was going to be participating in SOMETHING for the World Science Fiction Convention! I was stunned.

Fast Forward to months of stressful writing and revising… feel free to peruse back-blogs if you want to hear pieces of it. ;) I put an awful lot of work into that paper to get it perfect - after all, I "wasn't good" at academic writing. I even asked DC Comics' permission to use art from A Game of You and had a minor squee when given permission. (OMG - a letter from DC Comics in my mailbox!) My ever-patient and supportive friends put up with sending me feedback - up to and through the convention. My roommates listened to me practice presenting.

I ran into Gaiman in the Green Room the first day of the convention. We chatted a moment and I asked if he would be coming to the Academic presentation about him. He checked his schedule and his handler reminded him he had Hugo rehearsal at that time… He kindly said that if he got out early, he might stop in, but also explained that prior academic papers he'd attended had left people anxious - and him stuck in a position of wanting to address when someone missed a point or something. We parted, as I had hands full of lunch-to-go and a friend of his was awaiting him at one of the tables.

It was an entirely professional-feeling encounter with a hero - pretty durned cool!

And when I got back to the room to hear my room-mate had caught him after his first panel and received a hug, I was unprofessionally jealous.

The rest of the convention had me scheduled against just about any chance I might have of running into him again. I traveled the entire convention carrying A Game of You in hopes of a chance encounter when I did not see him in a rush or engaged.

Sunday came. My schedule was pretty cemented and there WAS NO chance for me to catch Gaiman again at any panel, signing, or even if I beat the 1-in-a-few-hundred chance of getting into his Kaffeeklasch. My presentation was that day, the big party was that night, I just finished a 9AM panel after over a week of nights consisting of only 3-4 hours of sleep, and I was dragging my feet back to the hotel knowing I still had to pack and move and unpack…. I was a royal mess of anxiety mixed with a little despair.

I saw him about midway between the convention center and the hotel. He was walking at a leisurely pace.

Face & courage painted on (not unlike Barbie from A Game of You) as is my usual convention adornment, I asked him if he had a moment… he said he did and wasn't in a rush. I pulled out A Game of You and explained I was presenting an academic paper on it that very afternoon and asked him to sign it for me. He asked me about the paper, and I shared my thesis and a point or two, and he said it was interesting and asked if I'd seen some of the art changes in Absolute Sandman (the point I brought up was how the art creates ambiguity in places by contradicting narrative). I had not… he explained some of it while signing. (Wicked cool… must obtain copies when I have $ again… (self note, not said aloud).) He then wished me luck on the paper presentation. Feeling very shy, I asked for a hug and he gave me one. I thanked him and floated back to the hotel.

I didn't think to ask for a picture; I didn't want to be overbearing. Here's two I took with the not-so-fabulous throwaway camera… one is of the signing (and actually, Ana took it for me), and the other is at his fandom panel where he was requested to veer from his normal all-black attire and wear a Hawaiian shirt. Very cute!

His wish of Good Luck was fulfilled… the paper presentation - and the rest of the convention - rose beyond my highest expectations.

Gaiman wrote a blog entry on meeting one's heroes (which, for the life of me, I can't find the link on either his blog or mine - & I know I referenced it before): The general problem of turning fellow human beings into heroes; most are regular people, and those heroes he met became friends. While I'd love to share beer or tea with Gaiman and talk shop (on all writing including journalism, poetry, fiction & comic books); discuss mythology, fairy tales, and fandom; share sadness over deceased fathers (his died almost exactly 6 months after mine)… and I'd imagined - or dreamed - such… it would not be. Not with 3,000 others clamoring for just a moment, just a signature or just….

After all, so many of us feel like friends thanks to the magic of social media.

So, he stays (just?) a hero - but one who lives up to his reputation of being very sweet, very intelligent. And also very good at giving hugs and helping manifest dreams.

Thanks, Neil - er - Mr. Gaiman!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pieces of Worldcon Anticipation

I had no time to blog during Worldcon with organizing and paneling, but I will make up for it now! Rather than having one long BLAG, I'll break it into bitesize pieces over the next few days.

In a nutshell:


In bullets:

- Broad Universe Info Table was well covered & introduced many people to our fabulous organization promoting women in science-fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.

- Broad Universe RFR had the time & room changed, but we still had great readers and quite a few attendees.

- Pulled off moderating 90 minutes about zombies after husband-of-awesome's crash course and a few movies.

- Had a lot of fun w/ Heather Urbanski moderating "Let the Guy Scream" panel about women portrayed in SF,F & H media.

- Met Neil Gaiman in person with 2 conversations, a signature on A Game of You, and a hug - yes, he lives up to his very sweet reputation. (see pic 1 below)

- Presented academic paper on A Game of You with success!

- Moderated and sat in on and enjoyed 2 other fabulous academic tracks: one on Canadian Spec Fic, and the other on Elisabeth Vonarburg, the other Guest of Honor.

- Took part in a wonderful writing workshop organized by the fabulous Oz Drummond

- Hung out and wrote Sci-Fikus with this brilliant 11-year-old in the Children's Track.

- Was on the "Broad Universe Presents" panel and spoke well and with coherence despite the 9:AM slot.

- Ran a great Spiritualism, Tarot & Writing Workshop discussion at the slightly less ungodly hour of 10AM on Monday.

- Helped organize and run a KICK-ASS party on Sunday night - slinging drinks as the Bar Broad for BLUMBUFS (By Light Unseen Media, Broad Universe, Fae Sithein). (Bar Broad Trish is pic 2 below)

Some setbacks:

- Left the digital camera at home; husband convinced me to buy a disposable camera. I actually did take pictures, so worth it - even though they weren't that great quality.

- Also left at home the flash drive that had MY ENTIRE ACADEMIC PAPER AND PRESENTATION… husband-of-awesome to the rescue again with some free online way to transfer files.

- Most of the panel planners must have thought I was a morning person… so I averaged maybe 3-4 hours of sleep each night. Except for Sunday, the party, where I had 2 hours.

- Complete lack of ANY Internet service in the Party Suite… required some arguing with the Delta to knock off charges.

But all worked out and did not detract from the overall Awesomeness. I'll go more into detail on some of these later and actually have posts in the next few days - what a concept! Now… to write them all. ...

1. 2.

Monday, August 3, 2009

This is what my desk-area looks like right now - to give you an idea of my "superior" organization skills:

Yes, that first picture includes my dinner salad, which I've been eating at between work for the night. Behind it is a water bottle, not a wine bottle (though I may break out the latter later if I am still feeling like crap & now that I'm off the tutoring clock. ;) ). The red folder is for Lovelane - the special needs riding program that I need to write the MA Horse article about. Hiding in picture three, behind the dagger, is my voice recorder which holds the interviews. uhuh. The books in picture two are my references for the academic paper, which I keep out even though I already studiously have copied any quotes/references onto a Word document. You never know...

I'm getting ready for Worldcon. I'm also finishing up with a new trainee. And I need to get a draft of a MA Horse article out before I leave for Worldcon.

Getting ready for Worldcon entails:

Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading Flyer
Gaiman, Sandman, A Game of You, Subverting Conventions paper revision cont'd

Presentation slide show for said paper (I didn't send a letter and get permission from DC Comics for nothin'!)

Begging Dear Husband to print more stuff at work tomorrow

Saving everything I need on my flash drive (i.e. back up of paper and stuff)

Ensure packing includes all the kitcheny equipment for the party at Worldcon. :)

Anyway... wish me luck!
*Addendum - freaking blogger automatically pastes all the pix at the top... how do you fix this???? Stupid blog programs!!! Why do I have to give up all the LJ formatting convenience for programs that more people can access/leave comments on? Srsly...
Back to work...

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