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:

THURSDAY

FRIDAY

  • 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.) 

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

  • 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...  

News from the New Trench

First, Happy Father's Day!

And now, news:

Things are kind of weird today here at Chez Tayler. Sandra and the kids are at a family reunion, but because of convention travel, flu, and "these comics don't draw themselves" I'm here at home taking care of three houseplants, the dishwasher, and the cat. 

For two weeks. Yeah, schedules. Weird!

Things are also kind of weird lately, not just today. For the last eight years I've done almost all of my penciling and inking at Dragon's Keep in Provo. This year, however, my eyesight has degraded just enough that I needed to completely rebuild my workstation, and that decision coincided with a remodel at DK. For the first time in forever I asked myself whether this problem wouldn't be easier to solve in my home office, and lo, it was. 

So, yeah, I'm home alone, doing all my work from home, and I don't have very many reasons to leave the house. As an introvert who has spent decades honing a few precious extrovert skills, this seems decadent and dangerous. Those hard-won skills are at risk. I may lose the ability to speak altogether. This is a sort of paradise, where the only sounds are the ones I control, except for the ones coming from the cat, and she likes to be outside half the time.

My usual foraging ground is devoid of half-finished plates of food left behind by my children, so I've been subsisting on things I cooked for myself rather than half-servings of whatever they were eating. Or rather, I would be subsisting on things I cooked for myself if my backyard neighbors hadn't been following my Twitter feed. They arrived with saag paneer at the ready, saving me from what would probably have been the last of the frozen pizzas.

I have about two weeks before Westercon. In that space of time I need to make about five weeks of comics.

I hope I don't forget to feed the cat.

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