Photos from ConDor XXVI

Michelle Lowe on the right and her and her beautiful assistant on left

Marie Andreas on right and her beautiful assistant on left

Demi Hungerford on right and her beautiful assistant on the left. Are you starting to see a pattern here? I got to start writing down the names.

Cake, Horns, and the Deer-in-the-headlights-look. People having fun.

Gaslight Expo San Diego pictures from the panels and talks

Here is some pictures from the talks;

Victorian Space Suit 8

Victorian Space Suit 7

Victorian Space Suit 6

Victorian Space Suit side piece 5

Victorian Space Suit 3

Victorian Space Suit 2

Victorian Space Suit 1

Vernor Vinge

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 3

Fiji Mermaid picture 3

Gaslight Mermaid Fiji Mermaid 5

Fiji Mermaid picture 5

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 4

Fiji Mermaid picture 4 replica

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid 2

Fiji Mermaid picture 2

Gaslight Expo Fiji Mermaid Taylor

Fiji Mermaid picture 1 speaker Taylor

Chart reading log book

Gaslight Expo Chart reading Gordon Permann


Gaslight Expo Chart Reading 1


Gaslight Expo Opneing Ceremonies 10-5 2 Panel Opening Ceremonies 10-5 1

ConDor convention and the Play in Sandbox panel

“Play in Sandbox” is a Fan Fic (Fan Fiction) term that means writing in someone else’s story world (their World is your Sand Box). Fan Fic is writing about or in stuff you don’t have a license for (characters, settings, background, story ideas).

A librarian on the panel got into Fan Fiction because the children using her library were into it.

Pro Fan Fic, (making money off other people stories?)

Kindle has a list of stuff that can be licensed. It’s a small list. If you buy a license is it Fan Fic, there are commercial authors writing in other peoples worlds (the 1632 series or in story worlds where the founding author has passed away and the current author is allowed to write in that story world).

It’s Cosplay if it’s not for pay.

AO3 is a site where you can download Fan Fic. Carries better written Fan Fic.

Mary Sue. The term came up again along with her left cousins Gary Stu and Marty Stu. You can have other characters in Fan Fiction without it being a Mary Sue.

The panel recommended taking a look at the story “How to Wreck a Mary Sue Character”.

Write on, draw on.  Professor Hyram Voltage.


ConDor convention and the Arduino and the Computer Security panel

If you have been reading this blog long you know I don’t like software or programers. I do use the stuff so I went to the panel on using the Audrino computer.

It’s a cute little computer but quite powerful.

I won’t bore you with the details but I fascinated my lab partner my typing in the code from the booklet and having the complier screw up. I copied it right out of the book.

The panel on computer security was one of the best of the convention.

One of the panelist relates an old science fiction story where a man comes to an abandoned town. The town is very nice and run by a computer. The man goes into a house and it’s nice. The house cook the man a meal but the man wants to go outside. The computer says OK but after I worked so hard to make the meal. The man runs away from the passive aggressive computer that has driven everyone else out of the town.

Panelist stated that countries around the world will not use U.S. security programs if they think there are back doors in the programs, even if it’s a government required back door.

He feels that the only way to go is an open security organization with no secret black box. Other countries could go with that and they would know that everyone would be trying to crack or break into the security program.

Someone mentioned watching the program ‘The Good Wife’ for a more realistic computer security view.

The Internet of Things (IOT) means a hacker can do suicide bombers without the risk of blowing himself up.

Panelist recommended Last Pass or One Pass as password programs.

Life Hacker was mentioned as a good VPN (virtual private network) provider. Many people in the room raised their hands when asked if they use a VPN.


Write on, draw on. Professor Hyram Voltage

ConDor convention and the Hero: The Good, the Bad, the Anti panel

Here are some notes on the panel.

The guest of honor sat on the panel.

A bit of self promotion, the book The Desert and the Blade sounds like fun.

A line from the movie Mammoth, ‘Heroes are not made they are cornered’.

On being a hero. If a anti hero is forced to be a hero every day he will become a hero.

One panel member related a time he told a fire fighter he was a middle school teacher. The fire fighter told him he couldn’t do it. He would rather run into a burning building.

Comment from the panel, Anti heroes are fake bullies.

S. M. Stirling comment, classic heroes are harder to write. Anti heroes have lots of faults, (equals lots of things to write about). Anti heroes have become popular because they are easier to write.

Comment form the panel, in fan fiction the mother side of the author comes out, meaning they want to write characters that they can fix.

Comment form the panel, in Fifty Shades of Gray she is only with him because he’s rich. What he lived in a trailer, it would have been a CSI episode.

If you got to have a stainless hero then give him a flawed friend.

Comment form the panel, it’s much more fun to write the bad guy.


Write on, draw on.   Professor Hyram Voltage



ConDor convention and the Making Magic Believable panel.

Another hour, another panel. The panel was split on the Twilight books and movies. Some liked the books some liked the movies, and some didn’t any of them. I’ll let you guess who writes vampire books.

One panel member talked about how his wife was reading a book to their child. It was about a snowman that came to life. The snowman plays with the child, plays games and runs around. When the snowman flies the wife couldn’t handle it. There is a line and if your story crosses the line then the story is no longer believable. If the reader falls out of the story you the author have lost. That line is different for every reader.

One panelist brought up the term Mary Sue. The panel defined it as when the author inserts themselves into the story (usually as the hero) with lots of power and no explanation of where the power came from. You run into this in fan fiction a lot.

Another panelist mentioned a person with multi-personality disorder that when one personality took over the person’s eye color changed.

They also talked about Magic Denial. Common in urban supernatural stories.

They did not talk to much about having rules for a magic system such as the Randall Garrett’s books. In them a magician could do some things but there was a cost and a process.

Also they did not talk about having a ridiculous magic system or a magic system where there were rules but the rules are never given away such as the Terry Pratchett books. Mr. Pratchett’s books are funny and that makes up for a lot.


The workshop on telescope making.

it’s been years since I’ve made a telescope. Things have changed. The parts are cheap and available on ebay. I think the instructor made it look and sound too easy. Still for much less than I paid for a lens alone you can make a usable telescope. It did throw people that most telescope users see the havens upside down.

Personal story. My friend built a 6 inch mirror type telescope (a Newtonian). This was long before Dobsonians style telescopes were invented. When he finished the telescope we set it up in his drive way to adjust it. For a quick test I told him to sight on the brightest star he could find and adjust things till he got a pin point of light. He had measured things carefully and built the telescope and its base well so it should have been close and need little adjustment. After trying for a while he gave up saying that the star would not come to a point. I tried for 20 minutes then I noticed that there was a gap in the image of the star. A little bit of adjusting and I had an image, it was Saturn and I had spotted the gap between the rings and the planet.

I have had plenty of fun with a three inch telescope and binoculars so don’t thumb your nose at a small scope.


Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage.

ConDor convention and the Visual Story Telling Panel

At the ConDor convention I also attended the Sex and Sex panel and the Visual Story Telling Panel

The Sex and Sex panel was kind of Meh. Did have a couple of take aways. It’s the character that determines if it’s exploitive. Does it exploit the character or is the story true to the character.

One panel member pointed out that the Lara Croft character in the original Tomb Raider video game had her bust accidentally set to 50% bigger than it should have been. The designers decided to keep it. They sold a lot of games.

Female panel members think Darth Vader is sexy. He doesn’t take bull from anybody, he flies his own ship, and the voice.

Me, I think sex sells books, just look at the book cover of most romance novels. There been a couple of science fiction novels with Venus on the half shell on the cover to.


Panel on Visual Story Telling.

One panel member pointed out that IDW was good to work with. They are not so good on the front end but very good on the back end.

Tip from another panel member. If you are considering a Kickstarter campaign first come up with a list of people who will likely donate and send them a campaign preview. Then ask them to donate in the first few days of the campaign. If you get some funds in the first few days you are more likely to have a successful campaign.

Don’t do war in OZ , Evil scarecrow, or bring back the evil witch. Go with something original.

One panel member recommended reading Blueberry, a French comic about an American.

Another recommendation is read Squirrel Girl.

The librarian member of the panel said that just because a memoir is fill of lies that is not a reason to pull it from a library.


Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage.

ConDor convention and the e-publishing panel

Attended the ConDor science fiction convention in San Diego on the weekend of March 13 through 15, 2015. I was looking for answers to getting a book published and whether I should publish it traditionally or self publish or even ebook publish. Ended up with more questions than answers.

One panel I attended was on publishing and here are some quick notes from the panel.

One panel member had taken two stock photographs and spliced them together for his cover art. He showed how it was legible in the thumbnail view while a commercially made cover was not easily readable in the thumbnail view. Commercial graphic artist don’t always get it when it come to cover visibility at a distance or when it’s a thumbnail. He also showed that the title and author’s name have to be in contrasting colors and big letters to show up in the cover thumbnail. Covers sell and the first glance a reader might get is your cover as a thumbnail at the bottom of someone else’s Amazon page.

Converting your word document to epub format is a lot of work. One tip was don’t write using tabs. Tabs will cause epub conversion programs to blow up or do strange things when they hit a tab in your file. Use search and replace to get rib of tabs. Before starting out to write your story in Microsoft Word set the preferences to indent after carriage return. Now after years of typing I have to train my hands not to hit the tab key after a carriage return. That’s years of habit to un-train.

Use hard page breaks between chapters not a bunch of carriage returns.

Word software puts hidden  bookmarks (almost randomly) in the document as you type. You got to clean them out. Turn on reveal bookmarks and look for bookmarks with funny character in them and delete.

You got to hyperlink your table of contents to the text in your story. It’s not that hard to do.

Another recommendation is use New Times Roman font. There plenty of people out there that will not do this and you will make your story look bad if you don’t. Try Garamond font if you just got to use something other than Times New Roman.

Your going to need blurbs for your book. At least two blurbs, one short and one long. The long blurb can be the short blurb with words add to the end of it.

You got to market your book so think about how people will find your book. Some people use blind browsing and they stumble upon you book. That’s where a good eye catching cover comes in. Other people use keywords. Make sure you have the book or story genre in the keywords and blurb. It’s OK to put the titles of your other books in the keywords.

Then there is SEO = Search Engine Optimization. They didn’t go to much into that. It’s a rapidly changing area that people are always trying to game. Don’t game your reader or they may never buy another one of your books.

Metadata should be your name, the book’s title, blurbs, and tags.

Over and over it was stressed that you got to write a good story/book. Then you got to write a lot of them. Writing a series is good, if they liked the first one they will want more. Get on Facebook and twitter and all the other social media things. (I keep hearing this but there is not enough hours in the day to that and get the writing on the book done. A lot of people say this but I can’t do it.) Then keep your social media up to date.

The key point is that word of mouth is what sells your book. Give the social media visitors something to come for not just come-ons to buy your book. In the past authors have said that pictures of their cats (dogs don’t work as well) do draw visitors.

One author showed that regular publishing (in paper) got him three to four dollars per book while epublishing got him two to two dollars and fifty cents per book and he didn’t have to warehouse a bunch of books. He still has a few paper books printed up to show people, just not thousands.

Smashwords seems to be the winner. The other epub site is harder to use.

Tips from a panelist;

1. Your first goal is to build a fan base and get your name known

2. Don’t price a short story at $9.95.

3. Make the first book free.

4. Indies have to complete on price and quality. Remember quality cost you, the author, time and money (for example; editors, beta readers and rewrites). If anyone knows of a good editor that’s not too expensive let me know. I’ll also do beta reading for you if you will beta read my stuff.

5. The sweet spot for ebook price is $2.99 to $3.99.


Getting a book through Smashwords and on to the WEB can be fast once it is submitted. Smashwords has to vet the book but they turn them around.

If you got graphics in your book get a pro to help publish it.


Write on, draw on. Professor Voltage

Non-Human senses, a panel from Conjecture Con 2014, notes on

A few quick note on the panel. Panelist; William Stoddard, Vernor Vinge, Jean Graham, James Hay

William Stoddard mentioned a book called Animal Eyes, and yes it’s about animal eyes and vision. Some scrimp can see colors humans can’t.

Comment, it’s not x-ray vision if superman can see through a wall and see the color of the object on the other side of the wall.

Vernor Vinge called his story about a shape shifting demon hard fantasy. He attempted to keep the biology as real as he could. Used the term “explicit biology of fantasy”.

James Hay pointed out that animals devote a large part of their brain to the dominate sense. (Can smell well but can’t see worth a darn.)

James mentioned that when staking an animal if animal looks at you freeze. Many animals are sensitive to motion. He failed stalking class twice.

Vernor had a friend that put an Infer Red sensing camera on his glasses and changed the output of the camera to audio and piped the audio into his ear. He could tell if the lawn needed watering even if it looked very green to everyone else. Can Google Glass do that, if it could you could sell it to gardeners all over the world.

William Stoddard said the book on animal eyes reported that birds are now following roads. It’s lazy and messing up the scientist that study migration.

Jean has seven cats. Great for writing about senses. (she must have tons of followers on Youtube and draw lots of people to her Facebook page with all the cat pictures and stories. Which would help sell a lot of books).

They got to talking about races or creatures that had dominate senses other than sight. You would end up with saying in the creatures language like “I know it like the smell of my rear end.”

Write on, Draw on. Professor Voltage.

San Diego Comic Fest not to be confused with Comic Con

Last weekend (Oct 17, 18, & 19 2014) I attended the San Diego Comic Fest at the Town and Country hotel on hotel circle. It was a great convention.

Under I was wrong. When I got the preliminary schedule I researched the different presentations on the web (who are they talking about, should I know this guy). I was disappointed that there were not many presentations on making comics. I was wrong. There were plenty of presentations by writers and artist on making comics. This year there were also several presentations on Kickstarter and doing Kickstarter campaigns. The Kickstarter talks drew good crowds.

There were unscheduled talks including one that went till after 10:00 PM Saturday.

I heard other attendees say that the presentations were good this year so it’s not just me that thinks it was a good con. I go to find out how to make better comics and it is always a relief to find others are having the same problems I am having. Now if I could find someone that would warn me of the problems before hand.

There were many presentations on other subjects but hey I’m focused.

Besides where else can you go and have Spiderman as your IT guy, complete with Google Glass. Your costume rocks AV tech.

You could get a ride in a Ghost Buster’s car.

Artist alley was packed. A friendly busy bunch. There were the occasional shouts of where is my brush pen and buy my book.

Plenty of Steampunk costumes.

Lots of music, with live band.

I had family commitments and had to skip Sunday but if Sunday was anything like Friday and Saturday it was a great conference.