Visit me at CapriCon

What’s a Capricon? It is a phenomenal long-running science fiction & fantasy fan convention that’s been in Chicagoland since 1981. This year’s theme is Expanding Universes, and it’s happening soon at the Westin Chicago North Shore hotel in snowy Wheeling Illinois.

February 15-18, to be precise. That’s next week! Here’s the official website: About Capricon

I’ll be there. It’s my first convention for 2018, and the second one ever where I’ll be on PANELS!  You should be very proud of me for using only one exclamation point. I am tremendously over-excited about this. You’ll find my panel schedule below.

There’s no autographing session because when I’m not at a panel or reading, I’ll be hanging out in the vendor room at the Games Plus table, same as Windycon. What can I say? Retail is my comfort zone.

Anyway. If you have print copies of my books already and want autographs, I’ll be at the booth on and off all weekend.  And if you don’t have my books yet, I will have plenty of copies there so you can BUY books and THEN get autographs.

I’m on some great panels with amazing people like Eric Flint & Jonathan Brazee and SO MANY MORE cool folk. This will be a good time. If you’re local to Chicagoland and have some free time and spare ducats, you really should come by.

  • Friday 10:00 AM Are Corporate Villains Overdone? (Birch B)
    • Every story needs a villain. And certainly corporate bad actors are not unknown. But it seems like almost every other near/medium-future SF story has a corporation and corporate head as the villain. Is this becoming a cliche? Is it a sign the writer is too lazy to think of alternatives? Why do corporate villains work or not work and what are the alternatives?
  • Friday 1:00 PM Rapid Reading #2 (Willow)
    • 6 authors. 5-7 minute readings.  Come discover someone new! (like ME!) 
  • Friday 4:00 PM Indie Publishing (Birch A) 
    • You’ve finally written your first novel. Now what? An overview to self-publishing options.
  • Saturday 10:00 AM Why We Roleplay (Birch B)
    • Role-playing aficionados talk about why they do what they do, and why you might want to try it too.
  • Saturday 7:00 PM Behind the Scenes (Willow)
    • Recently, an article discussed women who were likely present in Viking settlements. Few stories account for children, background characters, etc., except to provide them as fodder to be killed. How do you tell the stories of the invisible majority, as not everyone can be the ruling elite?
  • Sunday 1:30 PM Expanding Universe of Fandom (Botanic Garden Ballrm B)
    • Dragon*Con pulls in more than 80,000 people every year. New media cons are springing up (and falling down) all over the place. Fandom is expanding – what does it mean?

My DragonCon Friday

Yay for excellent artists being at Dragoncon!  Today’s big news: Dawnrigger Publishing will have a real logo soon, courtesy of the amazing Daniel Govar, and I’ll also be getting another artist’s take on Jack Coby of Mercury Battalion. (Adam Love. Also incredible talent.) Check back for progress updates. Meanwhile I set this post’s feature image to show off my new little purse with a phoenix loto!

Yes, today I took myself to Vendorland in the America’s Mart Building where I spent all my money. It only took a few hours. Before then, the day  was taken up with final touches on the Armory, my first shift watching over the exhibit & a lovely lunch with friends. After emptying my wallet, i crammed in a couple of panels.

Let’s Make A Hero program: Comfort Love, Adam Love (he’s drawing Jackass for me 🙂 ) and Bryan Glass. (Mouseguard) We started with definition of what makes a hero. Villains drive the plot, heroes drives the story. Heroes get the personal, emotional arc. Heart. Note: not all protagonists are heroes. Hero traits:

  • Relatability–why Sherlock has Watson. Spiderman is the most relatable guy ever. His life things are familiar & resonant.
  • Window to the fictional world— the reader rides along with the hero. various tropes: the outsider who knows nothing, the insider who know everything like Sherlock…can even be a little of both, depending on development. Harry Potter the outside Insider. Ripley the inside Outsider in Aliens.
  • Changes through plot: if there’s no growth, there’s no story-story. Daenarys, Prince Zuko in Avatar. Growth is relatable.
  • Challenged by plot: the more tests, the more growth (see above) tests must be tailored to hero’s strengths n weakness — mini bosses on the way to the big bossfight. Tailored — look at businessman Lex Luthor who can so easily foil omnipotent Superman by simply not breaking the law.

And then by crowd-sourcing, we created a hero’s story by combining all kinds of ideas. 

  • Setting: 80’s San Fran (there’s going to be coke) horror genre, female (why so many female horror protags? Audiences more sympathetic to women breaking down in fear than men)
  • Traits: stocky, stubborn, mathy, mom-purse wearing japanese-american vocation: programmer
  • Refine horror genre to type: revenge tragedy in a Axis-dominated alternate history

Discussion ensued, creating further refinements and brainstorming. Very fun, hard to annotate. 80’s hacker culture, Reagan as the face of the resistance to the oppressor culture, probability that the character would be married with children given Japanese patriarchal culture, political depths if the revenge against her evolves from her parent being one of the conquering generals and enemies are reaching for him through her… The picture Adam Love drew during the discussion was awesome. Takeaway: brainstorming is fun, and creative people are the BEST.

Military SF Tech: I attended mostly to see if there would be fun kvetching about how badly technology is handled in pop media SF, and the panel did not disappoint. Force Awakens received a legit/entertaining roast. However, the main focus on where tech may be going in the near future and what the authors felt would be big new things in specifically military tech . Robotics, automation, power defense systems. Non-lethal weapons. I won’t go into the super details. Big takeaway: tech is complicated, and people are too, and there will be conflicts and changes.

Writing tip for introducing tech into story: work its relevance into a cliffhanger action moment so reader has to absorb new info to get to the action resolution.

Today’s Pics: the cosplay backdrop, the line outside the vendor building (two floors, plus pop media/comics artists, arcade games etc) taken from a walkway bridge, views of the finished blade and firearms rooms.


And that’s the dispatch from Friday. If you’re enjoying these or hate them, remember I enjoy hear about it. I am a glutton for feedback. 

Oh, hey, by the way: I write books. I invite you to check them out.  See details below. 


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4 stories for less than $4
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Free review copies available: contact dawnrigger at gmail dot com