Actually, it wasn't my appearance at Bent-con that delayed the blog. I had planned on talking about the momentous things that had happened the week prior. But then, I discovered that I needed to send a story out by Sunday night. I still had a panel to do at Bent-con, and I had to input the corrections my proofreaders sent. Beyond that, I had to figure out how to use the five or six hundred words left of the ten thousand to create a deeper intimacy for my characters that felt realistic and not rushed. [See my blog from last week about how I look at word counts]. It didn't help that I was starting off wiped out from an exhilarating afternoon hob nobbing with some amazing talent. (more on that later). By the time I finished tinkering with it, my brain was fried. I was in the 'fire bad..tree pretty...' state [that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer speak for I was one brain weary chick]. Under normal circumstances, I would have put the blog up on Monday, but I had other creative obligations. There is a Sybpress title we're trying to get out as soon as we can. And I have about six weeks of work on my new gig as a Manga editor. I had to split my time between the two. I also had a half parody/half promo cooking video to put out for my yaoi page. You can check it out HERE. It's part of covering all possible social networks to promote the new title. And I'm learning how to shoot and edit video content on my own. That's aimed at assisting me in many of my filmmaking projects, not the least of which is the cancer documentary. It was a unusually busy week. I'm getting an early run at this one by starting on Friday.
The Week That Was 11/27 – 12/3
I get reflective at this time of year as a matter of course. As one gets more mature – aged if you will – this time of year comes with more and more baggage both good and bad. Since the whole rare cancer thing happening, the holidays have had quite a spin to them. I'm not maudlin or anything like that. I look back at the last year now in terms of what have I done with the time given to me. Last year, I was looking back at the time since December 2009 and how far I had come from the initial diagnosis. From that holiday through to December 2010, I had had two lengthy hospital stays, two dangerous surgical procedures [for those who haven't seen this, CBS did a story on my cancer surgery that is notable in that the subject had my cancer and it was a positive story. Click on the LINK to find out why it is called Shake and bake and MOAS – Mother Of All surgeries] followed by ten rounds of chemo. Wow, I'd almost forgotten what fun that was. Last year my efforts had been focused almost solely on getting well. I think I did pretty well with that without being a cranky patient toward the medical team or driving the hubs completely crazy (or crazier than he already is). This year began with another hospital stay caused by a high and persistent fever. However, the year on the whole was far better than 2010. [Note – this is not the official year end introspection. A whole lot of that is coming in a few weeks. By then I'll know if I have reached an important milestone].
I was cancer free throughout 2011 and able to finally start looking at my creative career. Though I have the usual frustrations with things not moving quickly enough or sometimes, not at all, I have been really happy with what has transpired during 2011. Something we had tried to do almost 15 years ago has morphed into a source of incredible contacts. Projects that we'd shelved as untenable have roared to life. I don't have to do very much aside from find the occasional odd file (some of them were very odd files). That is very exciting, but it is also something that is going on in the background for me. The big deals for me creatively were to have stories accepted in two different anthologies and to be hired as an editor for Digital Manga. I've always been very proud of my work as an independent publisher, but I had no idea until the past few weeks of the following I have and how well thought of that work is elsewhere. My gentle readers sure are a quiet bunch. Pipe up now and then, will ya! My work during this time off during what I call a medial and writing sabbatical has not been a waste. Nor was all that time reading comics and manga and watching anime. That feels really good. I'm now juggling my editing for Sybpress with the Manga editing and my own writing, but I'm really jazzed about it.
Beware Rob Petrie
Craig took me for my latest blood scans. Though we've talked by phone often – Craig is still looking for a nemesis – I haven't seen him in quite some time. It was interesting as always. He serenaded the courtyard with The Pina Colada Song for a few verses before I could get out the door and drag him to the car. Life is fairly normal for Craig. The squirrel is still spying on him, and his father's dog, Hamish, is trying to steal his girlfriend. Ray Liotta has been scarce, but Craig has had a few encounters with Dick Van Dyke recently. Apparently, they have had many encounters before over the years, especially while Craig worked in an independent bookstore in Malibu. Van Dyke is universally known as being a very nice man, and Craig does not dispute. It's that the very tall, gangly man has the ability to appear beside you seemingly from nowhere. Craig doesn't like to be startled – even from the very happy and friendly. This seems to be happening a lot lately. It's making him real nervous like as he runs through his errands. I still plan on visiting him at the library there. Maybe he'll turn up next to me! At any rate, the trip was without incident. I had brought along cookies to keep Craig occupied in the parking lot. I couldn't risk him getting too bored and doing things like rummaging through patrol cars that tend to park in that lot.
Fan Girl Freak Out
Bent-con, like Yaoicon, was an event I really wanted to attend last year but could not because of chemotherapy. I've been posting my nerdier blogs on Doorq.com for a few years, and the founder of that site, Jody Wheeler, has been a buddy online all that time. There is something very exciting about young conventions [this was Bent-con's second year]. Connections with fans and with dealers and even with guest speakers can happen when the attendance is smaller than the huge conventions where there are throngs of people all divided up into their own cliques of interest. There were a couple of thousand people spread over the convention area at the Westin Bonaventure, the iconic Downtown LA hotel. In that regard, I was not disappointed. I talked to many of the dealers and signed up for a few mailing lists and one fan club. I discovered during one of the smallest panels I've ever spoken on that I have fans that still await my fanfiction and met another fan that was so thrilled to meet me that I was humbled beyond words – a rare feat for this big mouth.
|Just a little Fan Girly!|
But it was the lengthy encounters with three of the guest for which I will be grateful that Bent-con invited me to be a panel moderator. Everyone who reads my blogs knows how much I adore Jane Espenson's work. She blazed a trail on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that dragged me from being only mildly interested in the series to a rabid fan. And I'm still not sure how she did it, but she brought a new depth, sexiness and humor to Battlestar Galactica without taking away from the hard space opera edge. I loved her blogs on the trails and the foods she encountered while writing a TV series. And I now follow her witty observations on Twitter. I've also benefited from her Twitter writing sprints where she encourages followers to take some time and work creatively for 30 minutes to an hour.
|Brady(left) and Cheeks (right)|
Jane was there to talk about the incredibly funny and touching web series, Husbands. It's premise is that on the day after gay marriage becomes legal in the US, a famous actor (Cheeks) and a Major League Baseball player (Brady) wake up from a drunken celebration to find themselves married. Unwilling to undermine the cause by divorcing, they decide to stick it out for the cause and each other. Comedy and drama ensue. It is amazing how much complexity is packed into those brief episodes. It has one of the best lines about the nature of marriage I have ever heard. It was fascinating for an independent filmmaker who has worn many hats (most often that of a plumber on set) to hear about such similar struggles to mine in producing Husbands. Somehow, I thought that if you've had studio resources for the day job, they would be available for a producer when they did something independent. I'm a silly billy. I could certainly relate to the fatigue I saw in some of the behind the scenes photos. It all looked very familiar. As expected, Jane was a fascinating speaker. It was a thrill to have that kind of insight into the nuts and bolts of the business from her. And luckily, none of what went on in her personal panel or the Husbands panel would be repeated territory in my panel. Please, click on the Husbands LINK and watch the episodes. They are brilliant!
The second of the three people I really wanted to meet that day was Cheeks. He is not just a character. He's also a person who acts, writes and sings. I discovered his youtube videos via a tweet from Jane. They were about his life, the news and pop culture. I saw the first one when I was between major surgeries and had a zipper of staples up my abdomen. It hurt to laugh, but laugh I did until endorphins kicked in my brain. It was an uplifting experience that I repeated every time he posted. Those videos have been pulled in favor of Husbands. I hope he puts some of them up again for all to enjoy. He was an important part of my recovery from the first surgery and I was pleased to tell him that – and give him cookies.
The third person I wanted very much to meet was Wendy Pini. She was already a legend in fandom for Elfquest which she created with her husband, Richard. I had long admired their work. But it was for her Wendy Pini's Masque of the Red Death that I wanted very much to speak with her. Masque had everything that pushes my buttons – beautiful but flawed and potentially tragic male characters who are drawn toward each other and inevitably bound. Death threatens their love and their lives at almost every turn of the page. I love writing about those kinds of characters. I will digress here – because it's my blog – to expound just a bit. In A Soldier's Choice and A Soldier's Fate there are only two options for Rik and Vincent – love or death as they literally cannot live without each other. But it's Ensnared that shares a worship of hedonism with Masque. The relationship between Darius and Andreas threatens to upend the social order and endangers them both. [experts for all titles mentioned can be found on the left under Hot Links]. There is tragedy in Ensnared, and I punish Andreas for his beauty and his flaws, but I could not dare what Wendy dared in Masque. And there in lies her brilliance to me.
I am not a fan of tragedy. I know it is said that to read tragedy is cathartic and therapeutic for the reader or the viewer. This gal is not one of those people. I found Wendy's artwork compelling, so I thought I could skim Masque and enjoy that without getting involved too deeply. That was impossible after the first pages. I was hooked. Despite knowing where the Poe story led and where this was clearly leading early on, I was so enthralled by Anton and Steffan that I had to take that ride to the end. I wanted to tell Wendy that she was brilliant in how she wrote Masque, but it came out as a highly exasperated question about the proposed libretto for Broadway based on the webcomic. Thankfully, my reaction was the very one she had hope to evoke in her readers. Masque is just the kind of well written, accessible story that could introduce yaoi themed content to a wider audience. I'm hoping there is a way to make that happen. That intimate panel was a wonderful opportunity to connect with another talented writer I admired.
Sunday's panel on Women Make Queer Genre was a lot like a literary salon of old. The panel included Jane, Wendy and Shelly Doty, the writer/filmmaker/musician behind the intriguing Strange Frame, sci-fi, Lesbian anime. The discussion covered why each panelists was drawn to Queer genre, the reaction of long time fans both gay and straight to their works and where they saw Queer Genre developing in the future. The panel managed to be both highly fannish and scholarly. I could see a paper being written about it. It was an amazing experience enjoyed by the audience and panelists alike. A big shout out to Mars Homeworld. You are welcome in any panel I moderate!
I am certain that Bent-con will become a large convention someday. It absolutely deserves to be. I hope to continue to be a part of it as it grows. But the fangirl in me will always cherish the unique opportunity I enjoyed while the convention was young.