Click image for full view.

Click image for full view.

Mother Chaoscolored pencil • personal work • PRINT AVAILABLE HERE

The Greater Demon Fairig as she is depicted in her capacity as the creator-god, Mother Chaos, who brought the wild energy of the void into the world and triggered the first explosion of proto-life. Although she is nominally considered a benevolent deity, Fairig’s maternal instincts are somewhat inscrutable; she brings destruction more often than creation, preferring merely to provide the basic materials and let others deal with fashioning them into order. Though often given a womanly likeness by human artists, Fairig’s true form—as is the case with her true name—remain a mystery. She is also known to appear as a three-eyed, blue lioness, with a yellow mane and wings made of rips in the fabric of reality.

A personal piece I’ve been plodding away at since May. Fairig is an old character of mine who appears a little different each time I draw her. For this piece I was inspired by both religious iconography and trading card illustrations: it represents Fairig as a god-figure, bringing about (if not directly overseeing) the creation of the world. There is a barren planet beneath her, and a newly-formed moon low in the sky. Behind her is a starscape based on this picture of the horse head nebula. It wasn’t until after I colored it in that I realized it matched her own colors, causing her to blend into the background a little bit. Upon reflection I decided this was exactly what I wanted, since Fairig is not just her physical manifestation, but all the forces and raw materials of chaos—here amply represented by a cluster of young stars in a giant cloud of gas. For this reason I’ve drawn her mane and tail blending into the nebula, connecting the two. It suggests that Fairig’s true form is something closer to that of a nebula: so huge and powerful as to be viewable only at a great distance, the fantastic animal in the foreground merely a physical approximation; an avatar of her personality.

The fact that this avatar is a lion-taur with four arms (two of which are wings) and seven eyes (one in the palm of each hand) and scythe-like horns tells you really all that need be known about said personality.

Fairig has yet to appear in any of my published stories, but her son, Tobius, is the eponymous hero of two comic books.

Media: Colored pencils with white ink on 12”x9” illustration paper. Prints here!

"Mother Chaos" detail. Click for full view.

“Mother Chaos” detail. Click for full view.

Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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These are (rather bad) progress pictures of the frontispiece illustration for “Subject 0-D,” the second half of the two-parter Professor Odd season 1 finale, “The Monster’s Daughter.” Below, you can see the cleaned-up pencils with early shading, the rendered image, and lastly the finished piece alongside the print-out guide I used as a reference for the lettering (I had scanned in the sketch and placed the text in photoshop, before printing it out again).

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Graphite pencils on smooth 12″x9″ Bristol Board. This illustration (along with the matching frontispiece for part one (“The Detective”) will appear in the Professor Odd #6 issue coming next year, but the story will be debuting in the Perihelion 2015 issue of Apsis Fiction, coming December 2nd.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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One of the questions I get asked most frequently (and sometimes rather impertinently) when people learn of my profession is something along the lines of “how on earth do you make a living at that?”

They don’t always phrase it exactly this way, but this is essentially what they are asking. How do you earn a living writing stories and drawing pictures? Which is actually a little rude, I think. I don’t ask the barista at my favorite coffee shop how much she’s paid per hour, nor do I ask my dentist what his annual income is. Of course, the difference is these are both professions where people have some sort of pre-existing framework for how the people involved earn money: by wages, tips, service fees, etc. Most of the time they are curious about the how of my income, rather than the actual amount of it.

It’s still annoying. Not only because my profession, despite being incredibly rewarding and important, does not pay very well at all, but because there are so much more interesting things to talk to an artist about.

When I was at World Fantasy this year I heard a lot of talk about how people are going about keeping body and soul together in this brave new era of electronic media and crumbling traditional edifices. It is important and relevant that we think about these things, since its difficult to create and publish material when you don’t have enough to eat or a house to live in, but it is also important to remember that life is a transient state, and ultimately the measure of our existence will be taken in the quality of the art we leave behind. In other words, our work, divorced from its capacity as a means to earn money, is worth looking at for its own merits.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking and interesting conversation I had about my writing that weekend took place, not at the hotel or in a conference room, but around the dinner table of my “conservadox” Jewish great-aunt and great-uncle, who invited my Wonderful Mother and I for Sabbath dinner on Friday.

My great-uncle was extremely interested in the kinds of stories I was telling. He’d listened to my “How Riding Got Her Red Hood” short story, and wanted to know if I thought I could use my stories to promote tolerance in the world.

“Intolerance,” he told me, as only an octogenarian Jew can, “is a grave danger to our world. And what you are doing, here, with your work, you have a talent, a power, that not everyone has. And what I hope you keep in mind, moving forward, is how you are using that power.”

Not a single breath was wasted on worrying about how I was going to earn a living while exercising this power. That I would write books, and that these books would find an audience, and be read, was a given, as far as my great-uncle was concerned. He wasn’t interested in the capitalist side of the writing business—only in the creative aspect of it. It was a most enjoyable dinner.

When Ursula K. Le Guin gave her acceptance speech for her National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters she took a more direct approach, but I think she and my great-uncle would get along fabulously. They are both much more concerned with the transcendent quality of modern literature than they are with the money-making aspect of it, which is a refreshing change from the constant barrage of “but how many books have you sold?” sort of questions I usually hear. It is especially encouraging seeing such opinions coming from someone like Le Guin, whom I have admired for years.

While one must admit that a writer needs a certain amount of business acumen simply to navigate the rapids of the publishing river, those skills must ultimately come secondary to our true goal: to produce art that changes the world—for the better. Whether it is by creating tragedies or drama, comedies, comics, fantasy epics or science fiction romances, if you are—to adapt Le Guin’s words—an artist of the imagination; a realist of the larger reality, your ultimate calling should not be the accumulation of wealth or fame, but the creation of transcendent work that will remain, echoing down the ages, long after our flesh and blood and bones have turned to dust, after our homes have been eaten by the jungle (urban or woodland), after the currency we were paid in has lost all meaning, perhaps after even our planet is abandoned.

The best authors, the ones I look up to—Connie Willis, Le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones—have not and do not seem to restrict their writing to what they or their publishers deem profitable. I once heard Willis say, “I just write the books I want to read.” This has certainly been the foundation of every story I have ever written, long before I ever heard Willis speak, and it continues to be the deciding factor in what I choose to write.

In recent years, however, I have augmented this maxim: I will not write what I think will be popular now. I will write what I hope will be enjoyed now. And in ten years. Twenty. Fifty. A hundred. If financial success should come to me in my own lifetime, hurrah! If I am favored with popularity and critical acclaim, fantastic! I shall use it like a trampoline to propel to even greater heights the stories I would be telling anyway.

Because I have been thinking, very hard and for many years, about the power I hold as a teller of stories. And though my ultimate goal—to use those powers for good—is relatively simple, its implementation is complex and variable, and looks to keep me well employed (if not necessarily well paid) for a lifetime that, I hope, should last as long as that of my great-uncle, or Ursula K Le Guin.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Note: I wrote this report on my journey home from World Fantasy 2014, but I’m posting it from the comfort of my room, with a hot cup of tea in one hand, and the knowledge that I don’t have to fly anywhere until well into next year.

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I am writing this in Reagan Airport, waiting for a plane to take me home from World Fantasy 2014. I grabbed some interesting-looking candy from the Hospitality Suite that I thought would be the hard, sugary kind one sucked on, but it turns out they are really fantastic chocolates. One has mocha and coffee bits, and the a Kahlúa-caramel center. I am eating them while drinking tea in a miraculously-free charging booth at Gate 16.

Which has more or less been the theme of this convention for me. Which is to say: it was very, very good.

In no particular order:

The location (The Hyatt Regency Crystal City) turned out to be much better than I expected. Next door to Reagan airport, it also had good access to streets filled with restaurants and the Mt Vernon pedestrian trail, which the Wonderful Mother and I made good use of in our morning runs. Except for Friday, when we took the Metro to the National Mall and ran around in it, but that’s another story.

Of the nearby eateries, my favorites were undoubtedly Enjera Ethiopian Restaurant and Bistro 7107—the latter being my first taste of Filipino (Philippine) cuisine, and I’m afraid they set the bar very, very high. Both are on S 23rd St between Eads and Fern and if you are ever in Crystal City I highly recommend them.

All this was a complete and delightful surprise, as I had feared that the Hyatt would be in the typical Freeway Wasteland that often surrounds airports. (There were a lot of big roads, to be fair, but it was more of a jungle than a desert.)

The hotel itself was lovely: spacious and airy with comfortable rooms and an extremely helpful concierge. Though one of the charms of World Fantasy is that it moves around, I find myself wishing that I could be coming back to this location next year.

This World Fantasy is my fourth, but it was a first in many regards. This was the first time I actually sat in the Mass Autographing session on Friday night, since this was also the first year in which I had actual books which I could actually sign. I had them (or rather, other people had them) because this was the first year some very kind sponsors donated several boxes full of Professor Odd singles to the World Fantasy book bag. The result was that this was the first year I had people running up to me all weekend, in varying levels of excitement, clutching various assortments of Professor Odd. We had donated several hundred of them, but as this included five different issues, there was something of a collection game going on, made more interesting because there were more 1s than 2s than 3s than 4s, and only twenty-five copies of 5. Happily, several people managed to collect the whole set, and I was able to give each one an extra prize on top of it. Mostly, I was just happy people seemed to like them so much.

An Aside: one of the highlights of the con was Brenda Cooper running up to me at the banquet to get her copies signed. I had only known Brenda as the author lucky enough to have John Picacio put a fantastic picture on the cover of her book, The Creative Fire. Which I had nearly bought before purely on account of that, but stopped myself since I really didn’t know anything about her writing or her style. After attending her reading on Friday afternoon, however, I decided I wanted to read more of her work, and the next day spent a good half hour in the Dealer’s Hall asking around for Creative Fire. I finally found a copy, and promptly got Brenda (who was fortuitously wandering into the Hall just as I was leaving with my prize) to sign the title page. Then I ran off and got John to sign the cover. I haven’t gotten past the first page (purely because of time restraints!) but I think Ruby and I are going to be great friends, and I’m looking forward to reading it very much.

My double-signed copy of Creative Fire is only my second-most treasured prize of this convention, however. That distinction must go to the first (US) edition of The Lives of Christopher Chant, signed by the late, great, Diana Wynne Jones herself.

I try to acquire a Jones hardback at each genre con I attend—since, though my Jones collection is more or less complete, many of them are paperbacks—but have usually failed on account of nobody ever having any. Of the handful of dealers I asked this year, one did not have any, several did, but had not brought any to sell at the con, and one had two.

No, actually they only had one (the other had sold at their last con).

The one they had was a signed, first edition hardback of The Lives of Christopher Chant. It was carefully wrapped in a plastic envelope, and for its price I could have filled another World Fantasy book bag.

I went away biting my nails.

I told myself the signature really didn’t matter. I already had Diana Wynne Jones’s autograph. Three times over, in fact, on the three letters she’d written me over the course of the 00’s. What I wanted was a nice, hardback edition that I didn’t yet have (which Christopher Chant was)—but preferably not for a triple-digit price.

The signature really didn’t matter.

It didn’t.

I told all this to my Wonderful Mother, who listened patiently, then walked me back into the Dealer’s Hall and bought the book for me.

Later, when I was packing up my book haul, I took Chant out of its envelope to for a group photo. In the process of doing so I flipped it open, in the way one does with newly acquired books, and happened across the title page.

And would you believe, despite the stickers I had just peeled off the jacket protector proclaiming that it was so, I had forgotten it was an autographed copy? Perhaps the signature really hadn’t been important—until I actually saw it.

You hear about people’s distinctive handwriting in stories all the time. But never before had I been struck by just how much of a person is left behind in their writing.

Diana Wynne Jones passed away in the spring of 2011. The only connection we have to her now is things she left behind. But for me, who never got to meet her in person, the only connection I ever had with her was through her writing—both her books and her handwritten letters—so seeing a piece of that writing that I had never seen before was like seeing a loved one come back from the dead; this person who I thought I would never see again was suddenly there before me, whole and alive and full of energy, in a squiggly line of blue ballpoint.

At which time I’m afraid I melted down into tears and had to spent the next ten minutes sobbing uncontrollably. I’m crying now, writing this. I’m on a plane to Chicago (yes, we’ve moved along since I began this account) and I’m not even ashamed. If I learned anything from Diana Wynne Jones it’s that it doesn’t do to keep your emotions bottled up inside.

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This weekend was also my first time moderating a panel. It happened by accident, really: I pointed out to Colleen Cahill that I might be a good person to have on the Animals in Fantasy discussion, and after having been placed on that panel I was then asked to moderate it. I said I would, if no one else wanted the job. Turned out no one did.

I have been on panels before, and I have also run panels insomuch as they were solo shows, but never before did I have the job of actually moderating conversation between a bunch of other people whom I barely knew. So I did what I always do when faced with a new discipline: I copied people who were extremely good at it (like Peter Sagal); I did the things I’d seen other people do which I liked (like communicate with the panelists beforehand, made sure the panel started and finished on time, and repeated questions from the audience into the microphone); and I tried not to do what I’d seen other people do which annoyed me (like obviously have no idea who their panelists were and talk more than the rest put together). And while it was certainly a learning experience (for example, I learned that repeating an audience member’s question is really hard), judging by the overwhelmingly positive feedback I got from the audience and my panelists over the remainder of the con, I think I did okay. I’d like to give thanks once again to Dorothy Hearst, Judi Fleming, Jeff VanderMeer and Garth Nix for being lovely and interesting and agreeable, and on the whole making my job pretty darn easy. It was a fantastic experience, and while I do like to run my mouth, it was a fun challenge to play the roll of moderator. And of course I’d like to thank the audience, who seemed (it can be hard to tell from behind the podium) engaged and polite and generally to be having a good time.

For those of you who missed the panel, I can recommend you go read Ursula K LeGuin’s essay, “Cheek by Jowl: Animals in Children’s Literature, which pretty much covers everything we did, but with better punctuation.

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Animals in Fantasy panel, l-r: the author, Dorothy Hearst, Judi Fleming, Jeff VanderMeer, Garth Nix. Photo by Monica Herald.

Aside: Some observances from my experience which may be of use to future panelists/moderators: It is incredibly helpful to talk to your fellow panelists beforehand. Even if it’s just an email correspondence, you want to get a feeling for what the other people are interested in, where their strengths are, who needs encouragement and who might need a little reining. If you can, make face-to-face contact before the panel. Ideally get everyone together in the same room and discuss how the show will be run, what topics are important to people, and what topics should be avoided. At the very least, if you see them beforehand, go up and introduce yourself—which I actually got to do with all four of my panelists, though I didn’t see Jeff until our paths converged en route to the location of the panel. Dorothy and I managed to get a meal together on Thursday night, which was nice since we’d never met before, and though I didn’t get a chance to visit with Garth or Judi beforehand, I had met Garth at previous cons, and Judi and I bonded over the course of the panel as fellow horse-people. We are also both artists (though of very different mediums) and so our paths kept crossing in that regard. In addition to her writing, Judi also makes wonderful decorated gourd art—from fanciful animals to elegant vases and ornaments—and is altogether a delightful character.

In many ways, however, this con was a little like revisiting old favorites. I got to see John Picacio, who is a bit like my artistic fairy godfather, as well as Lee Moyer (who improves any weekend), and my friend from Toronto, Angela Keeley (ditto). John’s assistant, Tara, was also there, and it was good to see her again. I don’t understand people who do not appreciate assistants. They work just as hard as their employers (in some areas, even more so) and are the people you actually want to talk to if you want anything from said employers. This was how Tara and I met, and now we’re friends as well.

Lee has an assistant too. Her name is Venetia Charles and, along with myself and Angela, we formed the unofficial Mohawk Ladies group. People were forever coming up to me and Angela, or me and Venetia, or (I assume) Venetia and Angela, and saying “Did you know there’s another woman with that haircut around here?”

My favorite, however, was when Ginjer Buchanan came at me and said, “You didn’t tell me you were in the art show!”

Which was confusing, since I had told her exactly that the night before at the ice cream social (where we had met).

No,” she said, when I expressed this confusion. “I mean you,” she jabbed a finger at my chest, “are in the art show! There’s a picture of you by Ruth Sanderson!”

By which I realized she meant the “Stealing Time” scratchboard piece featuring yet another young woman with shaved sides and a long mane of hair.

I had to explain to Ginjer that that was not, in fact, me, and that there also were two other women running around with similar haircuts.

It was decided, eventually, that we needed to get a group picture of the three of us, with the picture. Which we finally managed to do at the Art Show Reception on Saturday night, with Ruth herself present to witness it. It was exactly as ridiculous and amazing and hilarious as you can imagine.

I still do not know who the model was for the picture, but I hope this story gets back to her eventually.

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l-r: the author, Angela and Venetia, who’s lovely hair got eaten by the shadows. Lee got better pics, but I don’t have them at the moment.

The Art Show this year was run by Michael and Elizabeth Zipster, and it was a powerhouse of a show. Big names like Sanderson, GoH Les Edwards, Greg Manchess, Charles Vess, Picacio, Michael Whalen; World Fantasy Award nominees Galen Dara and Kathleen Jennings, but also with relative unknowns such as Sharon Sasaki and Matthew Mrowka. Really, just go through the list of exhibiting artists and prepare to be blown away. It was both daunting and gratifying to be counted among them. But while the overall level of quality was uniformly high, the styles represented ranged from epic fantasy and science fiction, to dark, macabre horror, to whimsical and colorful, bright, shiny, understated, and fine mixes of any combination.

I know this, because I had to go through the entire show, panel by panel, piece by piece, while I filled out my ballot for the Virgil Finlay Centenary Award. This award, which was essentially a Best in Show with a thousand dollar cash prize attached, could only be voted on by attending artists, which was both a blessing and a curse. Too often I think art—particularly visual art—is judged by non-combatants, as it were, and I thought it was a handsome acknowledgement of the different perspectives of fellow artists that the vote was put exclusively to them. The winner turned out to be Greg Manchess, quite justifiably, for “Above the Timberline.” I only caught a part of his acceptance speech, in which he was understandably taken aback, and said something along the lines of “I don’t understand how I could have won, when there were so many other amazing works to vote for!”

Which I can sympathize with. In my voting I had eight pieces which I all liked equally, and picking three from them, and then picking the order of those three, was a long and agonizing process.

Later, on Sunday, I was talking to one of the World Fantasy nominees who wondered aloud what the judges were thinking when they picked the winners. I sympathized, and offered that, for what it was worth, I knew for a fact that the thoughts of one of the judges for the Virgil Centenary were: “What the actual *@^&! This is so *@^&ing hard I *@^&ing hate having to choose—what the %3!!!!”

Having had my fill of judged competition over ten years ago, when I swore off horse shows, you must forgive me if my feelings toward these sorts of awards are a little mixed. On the one hand, I think they are a lovely gesture showing appreciation for the contributions artists (both visual and literary) make to our culture. The cash prizes doesn’t hurt, either. However, I feel they sometimes bring a flavor of competition to a field whose strength lies in the fact that it is not a competition.

Which I firmly believe art is not. Artists may be pitted against each other for awards, writers might compete to see who can write the most words in a day, or for a spot in an anthology, but ultimately, as Molly Crabapple once said with far more eloquence than I am doing now (currently at Gate B9 in Chicago O’Hare): we artists are all we have, and we are the only ones who can save each other.

I would add that we are not participants in a competition or a sport: we are fellow warriors in a battle that is nebulous and vague, fought in shadows against invisible enemies such as depression, discouragement, bigotry, and our own inner demons. We need all the help we can get.

When I say artists here I mean, of course, everyone who creates art. And when I say art I mean art as Scott McCloud defines it: anything that is not one of the three essentials to our species: getting food, reproducing, or running away from danger. Which is a long way of saying I mean illustrators and writers. I’m making this distinction because a lot of people hear “artist” and think “painter” or something similar. But I don’t see the visual medium as being much different from the literary one. Perhaps because I learned to write and draw simultaneously, to me the two art forms are intimately connected; a symbiotic relationship between two animals, which are themselves different beasts than that wonderful melding of the two: comics. For me, much as science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird fiction—and what-have-you—stand under the same umbrella—so too does writing, drawing, painting, illustrating, and cartooning, and doing both—or all—comes naturally to me.

So I find it extremely interesting when I sit in on panels like “Artists who Take Up the Pen” and hear luminaries such as Ruth Sanderson and Charles Vess talk about how hard it is to be an artist/writer (or, it is implied, a writer/artist).

I know what they’re talking about, though. It is always difficult, when you have developed a highly advanced skill set in one area (as they have), to move to a different area in which you do not have such power.

It’s horrible. It’s worse than when you’re a kid and everything is difficult. Because you know how good you are at this one thing, and you know how far you have to go on this new thing. I think this towering precipice between mediums is what stops a lot of writers becoming illustrators, and vice versa.

Then there is the business element, which ruins so many things. From what I heard on that panel (and later from GoH Les Edwards at his kaffeeklatch), it seems traditional publishers are very stiff when it comes to making way for things they do not already have avenues for—and writer/illustrator creators are one of those things. The lingering stigma attached to comics doesn’t help.

So yes, there are definitely hardships when it comes to being artistically ambidextrous. But the advantages are staggering. If you can write and draw it more than doubles your creative capacity. A story can be words, or it can be illustrated—exactly as you want it—or it can be a comic, or it can be a painting! I liken it to those actors who were termed the Triple Threat: they could act, sing, and dance. Of course, that’s not such an advantage now as it was in the days of Kelly and Astaire, and perhaps that is the problem with the industry at this moment: it simply doesn’t know what to do with Double Threat creators. But I’d like to point out, just as the movie industry has moved away from musicals, our publishing industry might one day get to a point where having both these skills is an unmitigated advantage.

One can hope, and as a Double Threat myself, I certainly do. In the mean time, I can take advantage of the fact that I never have to worry about finding an artist to do covers for my books—or stories for me to illustrate.

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Getting back to the theme of old friends: I found a lot of familiar faces from my last World Fantasy (two years ago, in Toronto). Or rather, they found me. Apparently the impromptu badges I made people on Wednesday night in Toronto left an impression, which is both touching and flattering.

One face, however, didn’t need help. I was overjoyed to see Adria Laycraft, the co-editor of the Urban Greenman anthology, and it was only made more fun by the strong contingent of Greenman alumni present in Arlington. A few of us managed to meet for breakfast, and more showed up at Adria’s reading later that day.

Speaking of reunions, it was also good to see two of my Cut by a Girl friends: Nancy Greene and Keyan Bowes. Cut by a Girl is a little-known work, though I think more people will be interested since I had to retell the sword story that spawned the whole thing, and the topic kept cropping up. I fancy it has become the World Fantasy equivalent of the Noodle Incident, but unlike that mystery, you can find out what happened by simply reading the anthology.

All this, and I have not even scraped the surface of the many wonderful conversations and happy accidental meetings that made up the weekend. So many names, and I can barely remember half of them. Nina Niskanen and her fine Finnish friends. Patrick, the marine who shared a pizza with me. Greg, and his book about a hollow earth filled with imprisoned gods. Mari Ness, who has opened my eyes to what the world looks like when you have to roll everywhere (and kindly shared her dessert with me). Ellen Vartenhoff, the Marvel comics survivor. And so many more who’s names I cannot recall at the moment. It was lovely meeting all of you (and I really mean that: I don’t think I met a single creep at this entire convention). I want to thank Stuart David Schiff and his lovely wife Susan (and their son whose name I sadly did not get) for being kind and insightful luncheon companions at Sunday’s Award’s Banquet. Maybe you won’t believe me when I tell you that the editor of Whispers was entertained that day by an aspiring author telling him and his wife all about the process of making kefir, but that’s what happened. In return I got the hear the World Fantasy Awards presentation as annotated by Stuart David Schiff, and what was said then shall go unrecorded here, except to say that it made the whole process that much more entertaining.

I also want to shout out to all the wonderful readers who came and got me to sign their books: C.J. and both Seths, Kat, Cat, Amy, Apurva, and Alec, who was the first one to find me at the con (before Opening Ceremonies, no less) with his copy of Professor Odd #1, and was the last person to ask for an autograph, at the tail end of Monday’s breakfast, with Professor Odd #5. Because of the relative scarcity of 4 and 5, not everyone managed to complete their set, and I know for certain that only five people have complete signed sets. But anyone who’d like to complete their set can do so by going to the Professor Odd page at Heliopause Productions, selecting their chosen issues, and ordering them from their retailer of choice. Getting them signed might be a bit more difficult, but I’m working on a solution to that as well. Watch this space and my twitter (@GrimbyTweets) for an announcement regarding that.

A few people also asked how many Odds there were total, to which the answer is technically six, though the latest episode won’t appear until the Perihelion edition of Apsis Ficiton comes out this December, and it won’t be available as a single until January or February. Beyond that, however, I have twenty-four episodes planned, and am currently in the process of writing the twelfth one.

I want to thank the hotel’s staff, who were excellent; especially Woody at the concierge who pointed me in the direction of Bistro 7107 and told me to order the adobo (pro tip: go to Bistro 7107 and get the adobo). Also Sally and Larry, booksellers who gave me insight to what the business looks like from behind the dealer’s table, and who set me up with my copy of Creative Fire. Thanks to everyone who brought prints and cards and originals—you help make my dream a reality! I must mention John Picacio once again in order to thank him for being unfailingly kind, helpful, inspiring and generally awesome, as well as Charles Vess, who was generous enough to put a dragon in my Drakendillion.

Aside: I brought the doorstopper of a book to his table on Friday night, told him that his artbook/doorstopper had been a fixture on our coffee table for a month when it was meant to be changed out after one week, explained what the red and gold monstrosity in front of him was and that I would like him to sign the guest page, and had gotten as far as “…and one day I would be honored if you would put a dragon in it—not now, of course, I know you’re very busy—” when he snorted, grabbed the book, opened it to the first blank page, and started to draw.

Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I bummed a piece of scrap paper off the person in line behind me, and drew him a small, cramped thank-you card. It seemed the least I could do.

Finally, I’d like to thank Mary Robinette Kowal and Guy Gavriel Kay for hosting the Scotch tasting on Wednesday night. It was informative and tasty and introduced me to what will likely be a new favorite (Highland Park). It might seem strange to mention it here at the end, but it ties in to Sunday night, when I attempted to make a bottom-of-the-barrel blended whiskey edible by cutting it with water, coffee, and cream. Which turned it into something that was rubbish for whiskey, but rather good coffee. In future, however, I think I will stick to my Ls (Laphraoig and Lagavulin) if I’m going to be drinking alcohol. But it wasn’t a bad way to end what was an exceptionally good convention.

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Looking to the future: I got asked a number of times about Saratoga next year, and it pains me to say it is highly unlikely that I will be going. I will, however, be in Spokane for WorldCon 2015, and I am adding Wiscon and DragonCon to the list of Cons I Really Must Go To Yes I Know It Makes My Year Really Crowded But They Look So FUN.

In the more immediate future: I swerve back into the Furry Fandom in January for Further Confusion in San Jose, where I will have art in the show and feet firmly planted in Tachyon’s paws, and after that it is the Long Push for AnthroCon in July. For more information about my 2015 convention appearances, check my About page, which should hopefully be updated soon.

I am on the plane to San Francisco now, and we have a few hours yet before we land, so I think I will end this now, and see if I can’t pick of the threads of the twelfth Professor Odd novella. Now I know people are really liking the series, I have more motivation than ever to write it.

~G

Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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I am typing this from the comfort of my hotel room in Arlington, VA, where the current World Fantasy Convention is being held. It’s been a long day of travel, sight-seeing, book-bag stuffing, good food and good scotch, but I thought I’d post here and let you guys know what’s up!

So tomorrow (Thursday) I am hanging pieces in the Art Show and then bumbling around the con. I have nine pieces in the show this year, including Riding and the Wolf and the Professor Odd covers for “The Elder Machine” and “Dragons of Geda.” Needless to say, I’ll be at the ice cream social after opening ceremonies.

Friday is a mostly free day for me, save in the evening when I’ll be at the Mass Autograph session. If you got a copy of Professor Odd in your bookbag, please bring it by and I’ll be happy to sign it for you. I’ll also have very limited numbers of Apsis Fiction: Perihelion 2015 proofs available for sale/barter/trade.

Saturday I am moderating the “Animals in Fantasy” panel first thing in the morning (10), along with Judi Fleming, Dorothy Hearst, Garth Nix and Jeff VanderMeer. Should be an interesting hour! After that I have the day free to my own devices, but I will be present for the Artist’s reception that evening, beginning around 9 outside the Art Show.

Sunday is wide open—I will be at the banquet, but other than that do not have much planned.

Anyway, if you’re at WFC, do come and say hi if you see me! I may doodle on your badge and/or give you an origami flower!

And now, to sweet, sweet sleep. See you in the morning.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Inspired by Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read tradition, I am pleased to present this special dramatic reading of my short story, “How Riding God Her Red Hood.” Consider it my All Hallow’s Read gift to you!

Having trouble with the video? Try playing it directly from You Tube.

“How Riding Got Her Red Hood” appears in Apsis Fiction 2.1: Aphelion 2014. Progress pics of the cover can be found on my Tumblr, and you can purchase prints of it over here. The original will be for sale at World Fantasy 2014.

Kind thanks to my brother, Evan, for his help in editing the video.

Happy Halloween!

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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RotationOneCoverAbove is the cover for the first collection of Driving Arcana stories, fittingly titled Rotation One. It is available as an eBook from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Kobo, and you can also get the paperback edition via Amazon or order it through your local bookstore. The relevant links can be found over at Heliopause.

About the Story

If you follow my twitter, you’ve probably heard me mention the name Driving Arcana in relation to my word count tweets. I’ve been writing a lot of it lately, and Rotation One is only the first three of nine stories which make up Wheel 1 (Arcana is the name of a truck, so the volumes are called Wheels, and a small collection is a RotationI had considered calling the individual stories Spokes but thought better of it). There will be five Wheels all told, each consisting of nine novella-length stories. So it’s early days yet as far as this series is concerned.

Yes, what about the series, then? Well, Driving Arcana was born out of my frustration with a certain television show that, while it had many good qualities, utterly failed in the representation of women, people of color, skeptical thinking, women, realistic U.S. landscapes, women, and…

You get the idea.

Also drawing inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (in the road trip sense, not the dude-gets-eaten-by-a-vagina sense) (sorry was that a spoiler? sorry, sorry), originally I had imagined Driving Arcana to be another serial webcomic, like I had already done with Angeldevil and Year of the God-Fox. What the latter of the two taught me, however, was that if I wanted to actually make a story as epic and far-reaching as Driving Arcana into a reality, it would have to be through pure letters.

So it was, in the fall of 2012, that I began writing the first episode (I think of the stories as being like hour-long TV episodes) as a distraction from my other two major series (Professor Odd and Bouragner Felpz). I had intended them to be short, fun things that wouldn’t require a lot of energy or research.

Ha ha ha.

Driving Arcana shares some similarities with Professor Odd in the style and construction of the episodes in that there is a small main cast who travel around and have adventures, with a different set of guest stars in each story. There is more of an over-arching tale to Driving Arcana, however, though it is revealed slowly, and I have so far refrained from writing “cliff-hanger episodes.”

Another feature of Driving Arcana are the songs. At the end of each story there is an original poem, a bit like an end-credits song, that is evocative of the preceding story. The trick to know is that they are not really poems: they are songs and they can be sung to the tunes of real songs that I listened to while brainstorming the series.

I had constructed for myself a lengthy playlist of songs which I felt were in the spirit of Driving Arcana. This list was originally a mix of Eurythmics and Lady GaGa, but has since been fine-tuned as I figured out more and more about the story, and it now contains songs from everyone from Jefferson Airplane to David Bowie to Katy Perry.

It must be said I picked these songs for their feel, not their lyrics, and I was a little dismayed to find that, when examined, the existing lyrics did not match the world I had created at all. Besides, since I didn’t wish to get sued six ways from Sunday, I couldn’t actually include them in the books. So I wrote my own songs, though I carefully made them scan to real tunes. I also made up fake bands and artists, who are referred to in the stories themselves, to help flesh out the world. Two of these later made in-person appearances, and have become characters in their own right.

Driving Arcana can best be described as dark, contemporary fantasy, with a light dusting of horror. There is some blood and gore and themes such as racism, sexism are tackled head-on rather than danced around, but I have endeavored to keep the language PG-13. I’d like these books to be easily accessible to older kids and teenagers as well as adults because they address issues (like racism, sexism and homophobia and transphobia and a whole lot of other bad stuff) that are usually relegated to adult-targeted books, because these issues are relevant and worth thinking about no matter what your age.

About the Characters

The main cast of Driving Arcana consists of three women, a truck and a motorcycle. The women are (in no particular order; they are all equally important) Jill Hamilton, Clara Nordstern and Selene Shields. The truck is a bright red 2010 Heavy Duty 3500 Ram Laramie—which for those of you who don’t know trucks, is this hulk of a vehicle—named Arcana. He (yes, he) was based on a real truck belonging to a friend of mine. I wanted a truck that was really huge. A beast. And one that had an animal emblem (the Ram part of him becomes very important). Having become intimately acquainted with my friend’s truck, I knew a Ram 3500 “duallie” was exactly the vehicle I wanted for Jill and co., even if it wasn’t the most practical car for a road trip across the continental United States (which is what happens in the series). And the motorcycle is a heavily modified prototype Yamaha VMAX named Unicorn. Unicorn gets her name from the spike of anodized aluminum welded to her headlamp, and is Clara’s preferred mode of transportation. I chose the Yamaha VMAX because I wanted something as big and powerful as a Harley, but not a Harley, and not something as famous as the Hyabusa or Ninja. The VMAX also nicely straddles the line between cruiser and racer, which again is not the ideal thing to ride across the country on, but it fits Clara’s character.

Clara is really Claymore Nordstern. She is the youngest of the three, well over six feet tall, wears all black biking leathers (even in Death Valley), is bald, pale-skinned and blue-eyed, and fights monsters using her namesake sword. She’s taciturn by nature, socially awkward, and there is a lot about her past we don’t know at the beginning—the long, slow reveal of her character is a major part of the main arch of Driving Arcana.

Selene Shields is named after a moon goddess and the first U.S. woman to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing. I imagined her to be a friendly and talkative counterpoint to the Giant Mountain of Ice that was Clara, but the more I wrote, the more I realized Selene plays a lot close to her chest, in her own way. It is through Selene, who is both black and gay, that a lot of the major social issues are explored. She being a triple threat of marginalized people was partly accidental, but once I realized it, it informed a lot about her character and how she reacts to the things the group encounters. Selene is neither exceptionally strong, big, or fast, but she’s an expert shot and an excellent tactician. Her favorite weapon is a vintage 1963 Winchester Model 12 trench gun (an homage to the Winchester brothers from Supernatural), named Elvis.

Finally, there is Jill Hamilton, whose full name of Gillian Sarah Hamilton is an amalgam tribute to three legendary genre actresses: Gillian Anderson (of the X-Files), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator 1 and 2). If any of them could be said to be the “main” character, it would probably be Jill, but only because she serves as the audience’s entry point to the story. Jill, unlike Clara and Selene, is not a fighter, but a scientist, and it is through her that the repeating theme of science vs. magic is explored. One of the big motivations for me to write Driving Arcana (aside from frustration) was that I wanted to see what would happen if a proper, skeptical, rational atheist encountered a unicorn. The result spawned a series that I don’t see myself finishing for several years.

Jill is also unique in that her physical appearance remains largely up to the reader. There are a few features (the presence of hair, glasses, and her being the smallest) that are mentioned, but for the most part I wanted the reader to be able to put whatever face or color on her that they wanted. I also wrote her this way so that, in the unlikely event of Driving Arcana being adapted into a live-action production, the role of Jill could be cast without any regards as to the prospective actress’s race.

More to explore…

The world of Driving Arcana, though it is ostensibly not that different from our own, has already caused me to doodle a lot of sketches and concepts, most of which I haven’t shared. In the coming days, however, in honor of the release of Rotation One, I’ll be doing a series of Driving Arcana “bonus feature” post over on my tumblr in which I’ll share some of these drawings, and also the songs for Rotation One and my notes on writing them. You can find them under the “driving arcana bonus” tag.

In addition to the three stories found in Rotation One, the fourth, “Sex, Blood and Rock ‘n’ Roll” can be found in the latest Apsis Fiction, while the fifth will appear in the upcoming Perihelion issue.

As of this writing all the stories for Wheel 1 are completed—in the form of first drafts or better—and will appear first in future Apsis Fiction issues.

Links to available titles and a nifty episode guide can all be found on the Driving Arcana page over at Heliopause Productions.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Yes, that is a Tiki Dalek. Photo by my Awesome Aunt.

Yes, that is a Tiki Dalek. Photo by my Awesome Aunt.

So LonCon3 was pretty awesome. I haven’t had a chance to write about it yet since I had to rush off to another con, but I’ll try to dredge up some memories now.

The venue (the ExCel center in the Docklands of London) might well have been called Spaceball One for how long it took to walk from one end to the other. I got to do this several times, since my hotel was on the opposite end from the one which hosted the events of LonCon3.

The programming, through intimidating in size, seemed to be of pretty good quality. Even the less glamorous panels (such as the FanFiction 101 panel which had been scheduled against George RR Martin and Connie Willis) were reasonably well-attended and had interesting panelists and competent moderators. The fan village was great, and the exhibit hall was fascinating. I particularly liked the Tiki Dalek and the Diana Wynne Jones bench.

The author resting on the Diana Wynne Jones bench. Photo by the WM.

The author resting on the Diana Wynne Jones bench. Photo by my Wonderful Mother.

I’d like to give props to the Art Show directors, Colin Harris and Serena Culfeather, who did so much to promote the show and its artists, and who, along with Sara Felix, put together a lovely Artist Showcase book. I gave one of my complimentary copies to my Wonderful Mother, while I took the other around getting as many of the attending artists to sign it as I could. This led to me getting acquainted with Anne Sudworth, SoMK, and (surprisingly) GoH Chris Foss himself.

I also got a chance to visit with John Picacio and his lovely assistant Tara. John and I originally met at WFC 2009, when the art show directors, in their infinite wisdom, chose to put our panels side-by-side. An intimidating prospect for any artist, but 2009 was my first time in an art show—ever. John was exceptionally kind, however, and has become a major influence and inspiration on and for my own work. I have written effusively about him before, and can only reiterate my recommendation that everyone go look at his site and subscribe to the Lone-Boy mailing list.

At the Loteria demo on Sunday morning: this kid won one of the awesome prizes—a pack of six "grande" Loteria cards!

At the Loteria demo on Sunday morning: this kid won one of the awesome prizes—a pack of six “grande” Loteria cards!

I had a really great time participating in the Diversity in Comics panel—so great, in fact, that I fear I talked a little too much. But I got to catch up with some of the attendees afterwards and we had fun conversations. I want to thank my fellow panelists, Jenni Hill, Dev Agarwal, Michael R Underwood and Kurt Erichsen—I wish I’d had more time to chat with all of you. Also thanks to our brave moderator, Megan Waples.

Tachyon LOVES getting his picture taken.

Tachyon LOVES getting his picture taken.

In a strange mix of genres and personas, on Saturday I also took part in a Meet the Furries panel, where I demonstrated fursuiting and later took Tachyon out around the fan village. A harrowing experience, since practically nobody at LonCon3 had any idea how to treat a fursuiter, but the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. It was wonderful playing with the ambient kids and posing with the model TARDISes they had set up. Big thanks to my Wonderful Mother and Awesome Aunt and to Mikepaws, for saving me from the more aggressive kids. Also thanks to the staffer who gave Tachyon a Hall Cosplay Award—we will cherish it always.

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That’s it. That’s World Con.

The highlight of the weekend was, however, the Diana Wynne Jones fan meet and greet that I hosted (with the help of WM and AA) on Sunday evening. When I realized that LonCon3 was taking place over what would have been her 80th birthday, I wrote to the organizers asking if they had any DWJ programming on the books. They had not. This was in early June. I volunteered as tribute to host such a programme, and was given the Fan Activity Tent for an hour and a half on Sunday evening as a result.

One of the prizes for the book giveaway, with bonus sketch by yours truly.

One of the prizes for the book giveaway, with bonus sketch by yours truly.

For me, the event itself was a bit of a blur: between greeting people, running the book giveaway, and drawing last-minute sketches to put in said books, I had little time for any actual visiting. However, from what people told me during and after, everyone had a great time. I must thank the WM and the Laura Cecil literary agency for sponsoring the books, and my AA for organizing the refreshments. Also thanks to Gili Bar-Hilel who helped promote the event and being awesome in general. And to Meredith MacArdle, whose contribution to the DWJ fandom is incalculable. Thanks to Shana for the brilliant Archer’s Goon-inspired ribbons, and thanks of course to everyone who came—even if we only exchanged a few words, I think of you all as my friends and comrades-in-fandom. It is my hope that we “Wynners” can continue holding such meets, if only because it’s fun to talk to other fans, but also as a way to remember DWJ and all she did for the genre. Now that she’s gone, I feel it is really up to us to make sure her work stays in print and keeps being introduced to new generations.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to email me—just put “DWJ meet” somewhere in the subject and I’ll be sure to see it. I hope to write up a more detailed report, including more photos, in the near future.

In the mean time, here’s the group photo with the bench (and a computer showing the google.co.uk doodle for August 16th) from Saturday. Thank you all!

Sadly I can't name everyone here. We're all DWJ fans—that's pretty much all you need to know.

Sadly I can’t name everyone here. We’re all DWJ fans—that’s pretty much all you need to know. Even the dragon (especially the dragon).

In closing, here are some things I learned from LonCon3:

  1. People are generally delighted to sign things for you, be they authors or artists.
  2. SoMK is awesome. (John Picacio is also awesome, but I knew that already.)
  3. PAs are interesting people. Befriend them.
  4. Always be polite to staff. Always.
  5. Never underestimate the unbridled joy of a child confronted with what appears to be a stuffed animal come to life.

More stories from LonCon3 will no doubt trickle out of my brain as events settle, but for now I think this is enough to be going on. I have other stories to write, not to mention a report from the con that came right on the heels of LonCon3: Eurofurence in Berlin, Germany.

~G

Obligatory Iron Throne pic. No Targaryens here: Dafydd is the real power.

Obligatory Iron Throne pic. No Targaryens here: Dafydd is the real power.

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This weekend I’ll be attending LonCon3 (World Con) in London, England. My first World Con, I am very excited to be on a few of the programme items, namely:

  • The Good, the Bad and the Missing (Friday, noon – 1:30): A discussion of diversity in comics with Megan Waples, Jenni Hill, Michael R Underwood, Kurt Erichsen, Dev Agarwal, and me.
  • Artist in Residence (Friday, 1:30 – 3:00): I’ll be outside the art show drawing, and will be happy to do custom sketches for a small fee.
  • Meet the Artists (Saturday, noon – 1:30): I’ll be at the art show hanging around my panel. If you’d like to meet/chat about art, this is a great time to come find me!
  • Furry Fandom: Not what you think (Saturday, 6:00 – 7:00): Introduction to the furry fandom. I will be doing a fursuit demonstration with Tachyon.
  • Diana Wynne Jones Fan Meet and Greet (Sunday, 6:00 – 8:00): Meet and greet for fans of Diana Wynne Jones. There will be casual readings, a Witchie Dance circle, book giveaway, and cake… if I can wrangle it. More details on that later, or follow my twitter‘s #LonConDWJfans tag.
  • As an addendum to the DWJ panel, Gili Bar-Hillel suggested we (DWJ fans) might want to have a group photo taken with her bench (in the Exhibit Hall). This is tentatively scheduled for Saturday at 5. I’ll be tweeting out about it more as we make more solid plans, so again, follow my twitter (it is all pretty pictures of Scotland, presently, but my access to internet is sporadic so hopefully I won’t bore you too much).

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Feel free to share this banner around if you’d like to promote the event, and if you do Facebook, Gili has been kind enough to create and event page for it!

I also intend to be present for the Gala Art Show Opening on Thursday Night, the Chesley Awards Ceremony/Reception, and of course the Hugos themselves. And of course you can find me bumbling around the con in general Thursday – Sunday (Monday I might not be around so much).

Very much looking forward to seeing you there!

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So many things to talk about! I wanted to do a special post dedicated to Alector Fencer‘s crowd-funded graphic novel project, but would you know the thing passed its goal in two days? It’s still open, however, if you want to take advantage of some of the awesome rewards she’s got going! To give you some idea of why you should help, she has kindly given me permission to share some of her art here.

Myre-the Great Black Dragon

Simply breathtaking. I could go on at length about how much I love this piece in particular, but all her work is really gorgeous. So do go check that out!

In news pertaining more toward me…

For the past week I’ve been blogging over on tumblr about my time at AnthroCon during the first week of July. So many incredible things happened I could not fit them all into one post, so I divided my trip into smaller parts and posted my thoughts on them there under the tag AC2014. Also, my general overview can be found here.

And now?

Now I am packing for yet another trip. This one will take me all the way across the Atlantic: first to Scotland (Edinburgh and the Trossachs National Park), and then to London for LonCon3, where I’ll be exhibiting my art and participating in the programmeTachyon will also be making a special appearance on Saturday evening to benefit the Furry Fandom panel. Most exciting of all, I’m hosting a Diana Wynne Jones fan meet and greet on Sunday evening! There will be a book giveaway, casual readings, and possibly cake—though that’s still up in the air due to restrictions from the venue. I’ll post more details as the date approaches.

After that, I move on to Berlin for Eurofurence, in my capacity as Elrond Drakendíl, before returning at the end of the month.

After that I have a few weeks of rest, where hopefully I’ll have a chance to share some new art with you, and then I must begin preparations for my last con of 2014: World Fantasy in Arlington Virginia.

In the mean time you can expect updates from my travels on the road on Tumblr and Twitter. I’ll also have a few new titles coming from Heliopause, including the newest issue of Apsis Fiction, which is now available in paperback and eBook! You can find direct links to where to buy either on its dedicated page on Heliopause!

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Have a great summer, everyone!
~G

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