After Westercon 67 I Get to do July

Westercon 67 was a blast. I'm not very good at writing up convention reports, but I can easily take the time to publicly thank Dave Doering for chairing such a wonderful convention, Kate Hatcher for snatching a programming victory from the jaws of defeat, and Mark Osier for filking the excuses right out of our podcasting team. And I'm pretty sure I speak for all of us at Writing Excuses when I thank our special guests, each of whom brought something fresh, wonderful, and unique to the podcast. They included:

  • Brad Voytek
  • Charlie Harmon
  • Christopher Garcia
  • Cory Doctorow
  • David Farland
  • Dierdre Saoirse Moen
  • J.R. Johansson
  • Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury
  • M. Todd Gallowglass
  • Mette Ivie Harrison
  • Patty Garcia
  • Paul Stevens
  • Peter Orullian
  • Peter S. Beagle
  • (I think that's all of them...)

I'm personally grateful for my fellow panelists: Aneeka, Kevin, Karen, Brook, Zoe, Jess, Sandra, and Keliana. Their perspectives and expertise were what brought the awesome to the panels I participated in. I ended up with something like 12 hours of assorted programming, and with the help of these folks, numerous convention volunteers, and enthusiastic fans I enjoyed every moment.

I also want to thank Brandon, Dan, and Mary, and of course Isaac Stewart, Peter Ahlstrom, and Kara Stewart for making Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology such a wonderful, beautiful book. Oh, and thank you also for not fighting me for that copy I grabbed, which is, as witnessed by Kara and others, the very first one to be removed from the crates. Yes, I licked it, but had you ganged up on me I doubt I could have hung on to it.

And just like that I'm done with conventions for five weeks. During that time I need to make a big stack of comics, write a couple of short stories, and get a leg up on the 2015 Schlock Mercenary calendar. I'll see a few movies, write some reviews for you, catch up on my sleep, and maybe, just maybe I'll get my diet back under control.

The next event on my schedule is GenCon Indy. Perhaps I'll see you there, but until then I'm mostly going to be hiding in this office of mine making all of the things.

Westercon 67/FantasyCon 2014 Schedule

I'm at Westercon 67 and FantasyCon 2014 this weekend in Salt Lake City. Looking for me? Here's where and when you'll be guaranteed to find me:



  • 1:00pm - Salon D & E: Writing Excuses, recording live! Our guests include Cory DoctorowDeirdre Saoirse Moen, and perhaps even the inimitable Christopher J. Garcia. This will be a two-hour session, but each episode lasts for 20 minutes. Come and go! Just be sure to travel between episodes, rather than while the mics are live.
  • 3:00pm - Salon F & G: Signing and Sketching at my table for an hour or so. Redux!
  • 5:30pm - Salon B & C: Spark in the Blood -- Insights From a Creative Family, with Sandra Tayler and Keliana Tayler. (Spoiler alert: blood is not where the spark is.) 



  • 1:00pm - Salon B & C: Guest of Honor Spotlight on Howard Tayler, alternatively known as the "look at me!" panel. I'll talk for a bit, but I'll leave plenty of room for you to ask me whatever you want to. 
  • 2:00pm - Salon F & G: Signing and Sketching at my table for an hour or so. Last chance!

Writing Excuses, Westercon, and Shadows Beneath

This coming weekend, July 3rd through the 6th, I'll be at Westercon 67 alongside Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Dan Wells. We're all Guests of Honor at the event, and we'll be launching the first ever Writing Excuses anthology, SHADOWS BENEATH.

Writing Excuses is the podcast I've been co-hosting with this team (and lots of special guests) since February of 2008. SHADOWS BENEATH contains stories that we brainstormed during episodes of the podcast, as well as episode transcripts for the upcoming episodes in which we critique the stories. Better still (assuming you're into the whole writing process thing), every copy also includes author commentaries and a draft version for each story, so that you can peer behind the curtain a bit and see how we do the things we do.

If you buy the hardback, you get the ebook for no additional charge.

Westercon 67 is in downtown Salt Lake City, and besides the Writing Excuses crew, Cory Doctorow, William Stout, Christopher Garcia, and Bradley Voytek are all Guests of Honor. Westercon is running concurrently with FantasyCon, which is literally right across the street, and if you buy a badge for one, you can get into the other. It's like two conventions in. In fact, it's EXACTLY like that. 

Thursday at 1pm we'll be having the SHADOWS BENEATH launch event, and at 2pm we'll begin recording episodes in front of a live audience. We'll do at least one Q&A episode, and our audience will be providing the questions. 

Transformers: Age of Extinction

I just spent an hour with my daughter discussing why we didn't really like Transformers: Age of Extinction, but I'll spare you the full deconstruction. Short version: This one fails to clear the Threshold of Disappointment because by the 100-minute mark I was ready to go home, and Optimus Prime was not yet riding a Dinobot. Nor would he be for another twenty minutes. That is a pretty classic definition of "disappointment," even though I enjoyed large swaths of the film.

The film had too many antagonists, too many protagonists, and it gave me action movie fatigue even though I specifically went to the movie in order to see giant robots fight. 

Sadly, I think the film suffers from the strings attached to its Chinese sponsorships. I do not know what those strings were, but I felt like I could see them being pulled. I loved the setting, and Bingbing Li, who played opposite Stanley Tucci, did an outstanding job. Unfortunately, in order to get this stuff into the film, they had to make the film bigger. It feels like two movies, and since it weighs in at 165 minutes, it's just three minutes shy of being twice as long as 1986's The Transformers: The Movie. 

We might have been better served by two movies. We would definitely have been better served by a single movie that dropped one of the antagonists, tightened itself around two principal locations, and then tightened its themes around a single message. Tucci, Wahlberg, Li, and Kelsey Grammar could have pulled that off, no problem. They just needed somebody to script the right movie.

I was ready to go home when Transformers: Age of Extinction still had a full hour on the reel, and that's never a good sign. That said, I did have fun. So: if you're immune to action movie fatigue, if you love watching metal things go crunch, and if you don't mind a 165-minute run-time, I say go for it. 

A Change in Process

In my last post here I mentioned that I'm doing my penciling and inking in the home office these days, instead of taking all the scripts to Dragon's Keep and drawing there. 

Well, this change in my office has changed my process a bit. Several times in the past week I've begun penciling only to decide that the script was broken in some way. In the old arrangement I'd have to drive home to re-print the script, and since that's just a silly waste of gas, I'd often set the script aside and put pencils down on the next one, delaying the work on the broken strip for a day or so. Sometimes, though, I'd just figure out how to make the existing script work, because sometimes I just wanted the work to get DONE. 

It's a small compromise, and as I look at what I've been turning out lately, it's a compromise that I think I made a LOT. These days I'm not bothering to figure out how to make the existing script work, nor am I delaying anything. I'm fixing it. My computer and my printer are right next to my drawing table now. Being able to slide across to the workstation and lay out a new set of panels and words is pretty handy, and I think it's going to make Schlock Mercenary a bit better going forward. 

Or maybe I'm the only one who will notice.

There's a drawback, though. The computer with all its myriad distractions is just 24 inches from my drawing elbow. Case in point: I wrote this blog post instead of starting the inking process...  

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