Just got back from the weekend Gaslight Gathering convention. A nice little convention in San Diego, CA. The drive form Fiasco Manor was not bad this year. No, major stoppage at San Clemente, and the air current were very favorable, I had a tail wind the whole way there.

The gathering was in the Handlery hotel on hotel circle north. Parking for check-in is always a hassle at the hotel. They can only handle four cars checking in at one time and there is no place for anyone else checking-in to park.

The attendance was good. The crowd was very friendly. At the last gathering I was desperate to find out how authors could find Beta Readers. This year I wasn’t in such a panic, but I’m an author and an endless fount of questions.

The vendor area was smaller this year. If you are going to sell clothes bring larger sizes. I’ve got to lose weight.

I did buy several books. As an author I value those who hustle in getting out there and selling their books. Buying their book also gives me an excuse to badger the author with questions. This is quality, one-on-one, face time with someone who is dealing with the same problems I’m dealing with.

I was admiring the large lens of a professional photographer that was at the gathering. Jake Klein and I got to talking about the lens. It’s only f 2.8 but it is a lot of glass and heavy if you have to hold it for a time. He just sent his daughter off to college and she told him to go live life. So, he has sold most of what he had and bought a mobile home. With it he is starting a tour of the country. He’s a friend of Doc Phineas and when the Doc heard he was hitting the road and would be heading for San Diego he suggested, as Doc would, that he stop by the gathering.

Jake said he would post pictures of the gathering, much better than I could take, at www.photogtravels.com. You can also follow him via his web site as he photographs his way across the country.

One of his suggestions was to get a Canon 430 EX flash (refurbished)(I use canon cameras, so the flash works with my cameras). It’s small but throws out a good amount of light. He also had some suggestions for closing down the aperture of the lens (called stopping down) to take better flash photos.

It may not have been about writing but it was good information.

Picked up a couple of books from chief inspector Erasmus Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell. Of course I extracted my pound of information from them. These authors are good. I was impressed with the plots they generated. Even when I do it myself, it’s hard to figure out where someone get such a good ideas. I’ve had an audio show broadcaster asking me for short audio, like old time radio broadcasts, scripts and this may help me generate some. I find writing short pieces hard. I use to write short stories for magazines (I got a lot of rejection slips for my efforts). Now I find it hard to write short works.

I have a soft spot for brass. I picked up a small cast metal octopus from the vendors Rae Wolf Designs. I took it over to Shannon at Gears & Roebuck where she painted it to look like brass. One of these days I will get the foundry set up so I could cast my own designs, but that would take away from my writing. I did get a lot of information from Gear & Roebuck about how to color plastic to get it to look like metal. Metal is good, metal is durable, I would build with metal if I had a choice, but metal is heavy, very heavy and very expensive.

They had a presentation with a hand puppet. A fun little show. Got some information on puppets and a couple of pointers on the attitude of characters. You need goons in your writing, not cardboard characters (even if they are part cardboard).

I had a good conversation with Roller Derby enthusiast and Steampunk writer Aidan Caisse. He’s turning out books and I bought one. We talked about roller derby and writing. Got some good information from him. He was working on a tablet during the quiet periods and by stealing minutes here and there he managed to turn out a chapter for his next book.

The ice cream social was good. I like ice cream so there is not much not to like. I got to telling old sea stories to a very young kid. The kid was into computers and Tesla coils. This kid could go places.

The talk on casting objects was way more popular than the presenter thought it would be. He ran out of corn starch that he uses for a hardening agent for the molds he demonstrated how to make. They had to bring in several more tables for all the attendees. The smell of vinegar was strong while everyone was making their mold. A few coin cells and some plastic that melts in hot water (Instamold) and you could be turning out glowing objects by the dozens. When I got back home I found that the Instamold, he was making the finial item out of, is sold as a material to make molds. Great Steampunk idea to use something for the opposite of what it was made for. The presenter used RTV that you can buy from the hardware store, (it has to be 100% silicone RTV), to make the mold and the Instamold to make the object. His secret sauce was to add corn starch to the RTV to get it to harden in a reasonable time. The RTV needs water to make it harden and the RTV forms a skin that stops water from getting to the bottom and center of a blob of RTV. The corn starch has water inside it, so it hardens the RTV all the way through quickly.

I will have more in the next blog.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage