The West Coast Science Fantasy Conference aka Westercon is a regional science fiction and fantasy convention geared toward fans, musicians, writers, and filmmakers of the genre. It is typically a four-day event that is traditionally held during the Independence Day holiday weekend. The location rotates to a new city each year, chosen somewhere in the United States west of the 104th meridian line. The guests of honor are chosen from professionals who live in the Westercon region.
This year, Westercon was held in San Diego, CA at the Town and Country Resort in conjunction with two local conventions, Conjecture (a science fiction and fantasy literary convention) and ConChord (a filk singers convention). It is a lovely hotel filled with bright blue swimming pools, blooming roses, and garden settings.
This was my first time at a regional literary convention. The size and scope of it was bigger than I had expected. I was registered as a panelist for the first time and I participated in two events. The first event was a lecture on Author Platform, based on the methods that I use to promote No Wasted Ink. My lecture was well attended and I found the give and take of questions during the lecture to be interesting. I hope that my information was of help to my fellow authors.
My second event was a panel that I created to feature the local authors of Broad Universe, a writing guild where I am a member. Broad Universe is an international non-profit writer’s guild that promotes women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other speculative genres. It began as a panel discussion at WisCon back in 2000 and has grown into a large volunteer-run group that attends various conventions and conferences to promote the member’s books. One of the more popular activities of the group are known as “rapid fire readings” which feature group readings by the authors in convention panels or as a salon reading in the evening. Broad Universe also offers access to Net Gallery, occasionally have tables where member’s can sell their books at science fiction conventions and is a great place for authors to network via their email list, Facebook group or Twitter.
Our panel was given a great time in the convention on Friday afternoon. Our Broad Universe readers were Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp, Elizabeth Watasin, and Shauna Roberts. I was surprised by the turnout of listeners, many were women that sat and knitted as they listened to our stories. Having my own handmade jewelry in the art show at Westercon, I was gratified to see the support from fellow artisans. There were also a scattering of men and women who were typical convention attendees that came out of curiosity to experience new authors.
After our hour-long panel, we proceeded downstairs to the dealer room where a pair of tables were set up for authors to autograph their books. It was not set up for our group alone, but all the authors had a place on the schedule, including the big name authors that attended the convention. All of us sold and autographs books that afternoon.
Authors Top Photo: Jude-Marie Green, Barbara Clark, Wendy Van Camp
Authors Bottom Photo: Elizabeth Watasin, Shauna Roberts
For the writers and fans of science fiction, literary conventions are a great place to learn more about the genre, meet famous authors in person, network with your fellow fans, authors, filmmakers, or to explore your wild side by costuming.
I’ve known author Wendy Rathbone for many years. We are both artisans at several events on the California fair circuit. Wendy has had over 500 poems and 40 stories published in magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the science fiction novel Pale Zenith. Her other novels span the genres from science fiction to vampire to romance or short story and poetry collections. I am pleased to be able to introduce you to this prolific and interesting author here on No Wasted Ink.
Hi, I’m Wendy Rathbone. I love to write poetry, stories, and novels. I have a degree in writing from UCSD but really cut my writing teeth on millions of words of fanfic. I have always been a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I am inspired by autumn, starships, and desolate spaces.
When and why did you begin writing?
At age 12 I started writing poetry and little stories. I loved how it made me feel to paint images and thoughts with words.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was first published in school magazines and one city-wide magazine for students. That felt good. I also won 1st place in a city-wide essay contest with a long poem in 7th grade. The prize even came with money. It was then I decided I was a writer. It is my natural way of expressing myself.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
My most current science fiction book is “Letters to an Android.” It is about a young man, Cobalt, who is a created human and indentured for life, unable to travel the stars as he dreams. He meets a young man, Liyan, headed off to work on far-traveling star*liners. The two strike up a friendship and the star-traveler promises to write the land-locked “android” of his adventures. The book takes the reader on a travelogue of various planets as well as diving into the minds of the two men as both deal with the hardships of their lives. The story is told both through narrative and letters.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was greatly inspired by the two characters who suddenly popped into my brain one day with complete back stories. I also took inspiration from looking at pages and pages of alien landscape art on GoogleImages.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Over the years, I’ve developed my poetic mind so much that I would call my writing poetic. Maybe even florid. Texture, scent, and color all command the thoughts of my characters.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
When I decided to write a series of letters from the point of view of these two characters, the title just appeared. Not all my titles are that easy to come up with.
Is there a message in this novel that you want readers to grasp?
Freedom should not be taken for granted. And real love is unconditional and transformative.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Every character in this book is completely fictional. A lot of the characters I write are aspects of myself or people I create to entertain myself. I learn about them as they learn about themselves. Even though Cobalt and Liyan came into my mind with back stories, I still had to explore that. I rarely know in advance what my characters are going to discover and do until they do it. They talk to me as I write. It’s amazing.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Alice Hoffman. Anne Rice. Stephen King. Anais Nin. Greer Gilman. Poppy Z. Brite. Just to name a few. They inspire me because all of them have listened to their own hearts and written what they love despite some of the themes being dark in nature, forbidden, violent and erotic. They are fearless and they make me brave in my own writing.
If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?
Anne Rice. I have not read every book of hers, but the ones I love make me feel anything is possible. I love that she writes in a fever. That is how I write, in the zone of heat and inspiration, completely outline-free. It sounds scary and is at first, but after awhile it’s like breathing. I also consider the author Della Van Hise a mentor. She’s my significant other. She has inspired me more with her writing and her philosophy than any other human on Earth.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
Della Van Hise and I design all our covers and we have learned so much by doing this. We buy licensed images on Shutterstock.com. I found the image of the man in the glass dome on that site and realized it was just right for this book about an indentured being.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never forget the five senses when writing. Do not allow a critical voice to put you down or tell you that you aren’t good enough or the story sucks. Just keep practicing, keep writing the next sentence. That’s the key. Just write one more sentence. If you tell yourself that every day, you will never be blocked. Never look back. Don’t rewrite old stuff. Don’t hang on the past. Keep moving forward. The book you are currently writing should always be your favorite, the one you are loving the best and giving your best. And always do your best. Never set out to write a “bad first draft.” That will definitely hold you back.
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
Thank you to all readers for taking the time to read any book anywhere. All readers of my work are gifts to me. I have no other expectations from them.
Yucca Valley, CA
Letters to an Android
Publisher: Eye Scry Publications
Book Name: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
First Published: 1990
Author Robert Jordan (born James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) was born in the late 1940s in Charleston, South Carolina. As a child, he was fond of reading, especially the books of Mark Twain and Jules Verne. As an adult, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam as a gunner with the US Army.
Returning to the states in the early 1970s, Jordan went back to school at the Military College of South Carolina. He studied the sciences and following the gaining of his degree started work as a nuclear engineer for the Navy.
Writing had always been his passion and in the late 1970s, he began to write novels of various genres, under different pen names. Robert Jordan was his final pen name in which his fantasy books were gathered. His most famous fantasy series is The Wheel of Time which has sold 44 million copies globally and was the basis for a role-playing game, soundtrack album, and a computer game. The ideas and title of the series were inspired by Hindu Mythology.
Jordan had many other concepts waiting to be written in the fantasy genre, he was waiting to start them once he finished The Wheel of Time. However, fate was not kind to him. In March of 2006, he announced publicly that he had cardiac amyloids, a rare blood disease. He was given four years to live. He underwent chemotherapy and took part in a study for a new drug that might have helped him. It was all to no avail. Jordan passed away in September of 2007 with his Wheel of Time series unfinished.
After his death, his wife selected Brandon Sanderson, an up and coming epic fantasy author, to complete the Wheel of Time series based on the notes that her husband had left behind. Robert Jordan had written the epilogue and a few chapters, but little more of the final book. Sanderson took up the challenge but found that the story was so complex that he needed three rather long books to finish the Wheel of Time properly.
“As the Wheel of Time turns, places wear many names. Men wear many names, many faces. Different faces, but always the same man. Yet no one knows the Great Pattern the Wheel weaves, or even the Pattern of an Age. We can only watch, and study, and hope.”
― Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World
The Eye of the World is the first book of a long fantasy epic series that features a cast of main characters instead of a single hero. It has a huge cast of characters and the story unfolds, chapter by chapter, via the viewpoint of a different rotating protagonist. It is a complex tale with many twists and turns.
The story begins in a land known as the Two Rivers which has been all but cut off from the rest of the world for at least a thousand years. It is a rural place of small villages and isolated farms. During the spring festival, young Rand al’Thor notices a stranger watching him. A man whose cloak doesn’t move in the wind. He tells his father about the stranger, but he is gone when his father looks.
They arrive in the village of Emond’s Field for the festival and Rand hooks up with his two friends. Perrin, the apprentice to the village blacksmith and Mat, a comedic prankster. They both mention that they have seen this same stranger watching them. In the village, there are visitors come for the festival. Aes Sedai Moiraine and her warder protector Lan. Moiraine gives each of the three boys a coin; she calls it a token for future work she may ask of them.
Rand and his father return home, but are attacked by creatures known as “Trollocs”. Rand’s father is wounded during the attack. In his delirium, he tells his son that he is adopted, a foundling he picked up on a mountaintop during the Aiel War. Rand takes his injured father back to the village in the hope that the Aes Sedai can use her magic to heal his father. She does heal his father, but she tells Rand, Mat, and Perrin that the Trollocs are after them personally. The strange man who watches them is a “Myrddraal”, a creature of darkness, and the three must leave the village for their own safety and that of their people. The three decide to leave with Moiraine and her Warder. At the last minute, Rand’s girlfriend Egwene joins them. She desires to become an Aes Sedai herself and this is a good excuses to leave Edmond’s Field. A wandering minstrel named Thom also comes along.
The party flees Emond’s Field and travel toward the town of Baerlon. There they meet a young woman named Min who claims that she can see auras around Rand and his friends. While there, their village wisdom Nynaeve find them and says that she wishes to bring the boys home for their own good. This causes her to be at odds with the Aes Sedai who is having enough trouble protecting the boys from Trolloc attacks on the road.
In Baerlon, the boys begin to have dreams where a man clad in black names himself Ba’alzamon and tells them that they will serve him and the Dark One. Moiraine wishes to bring the boys to the city of Aes Sedai, known as Tar Valon, where they can be better protected. She uses her channeling magic, called The One Power, to scare off whitecloak soldiers in Baerlon who wish to harm the boys. While their inn is set on fire, the party escapes.
Away from Baerlon, the group is forced to seek refuge from the Trollocs in an abandoned city called Shadar Logoth. Even the Trollocs fear to enter the city. In the city, the boys go exploring and meet a man called Mordeth who casts no shadow. Mat steals a dagger from him. The boys manage to get away from the man, but this episode worries the Aes Sedai and her Warder enough that they decide to split the party up.
Perrin and Egwene cross the river and try to make their way to Tar Valon on their own. On the way they encounter a man who can talk to wolves. He claims that Perrin has this ability too. As they continue to travel, Perrin and Egwene come to a “stedding”, which is the home of “Ogiers”, giant sized people who live incredibly long lives. Their home has magical protection from Trollocs, however Perrin and Egwene discover that Whitecloaks have also come. The Whitecloaks take a disliking to Perrin due to his association with wolves, which they regard as evil.
Nynaeve, Lan and Moiraine depart Shadar Logoth together. Moiraine senses that Nynaeve also has the one power and can channel it, but she is untrained. Without the schooling of the Aes Sedai of Tar Valon, she may die. Nynaeve resists the idea, but in the end she accepts that she will need to become an Aes Sedai and agrees to go to Tar Valon with Moiraine. Nynaeve casts her eye on the intrepid Lan and the two begin to fall for each other, which causes complications for Moiraine who is bonded to the man via the one power. Via the coin Moiraine had given Perrin in Emond’s Field, the Aes Sedai is able to track him and Egwene. The trio arrives to save the pair in the nick of time from the Whitecloaks.
Mat, Thom and Rand leave Shadar Logoth in a boat and eventually arrive in the city of Caemlyn. Mat becomes increasing paranoid on the journey. Unknown to the boys, he is being magically poisoned by the dagger he stole from Mordeth in Shadar Logoth. In the city, Rand meets a young Ogier named Loial, who at first mistakes him for an Aiel and tells Rand that he must be a “ta’veren”, a man who fate wraps itself around. Rand is eventually taken to see Queen Morgase where a seer has a foretelling that Rand is at the center of all the destruction that is to come to Caemlyn. While it is commented that Rand looks like an Aielman, his accent is that of the Two Rivers. The Queen decides that Rand may go free since she is familiar with the people of the Two Rivers.
Moiraine and her party arrive in Caemlyn and connect with Rand and Mat. Moiraine uses the one power to heal Mat of the poison from the dagger. The group learns that the Dark One plans to use an object known as The Eye of the World in a place called the Blight. Loial the Ogier knows how to use a magical passage called “the ways” and takes the group to the Blight via this method. There Rand must confront Ba’alzamon, using the budding power within him, to claim the objects that are contained in the Eye of the World.
I was first introduced to The Wheel of Time saga by gaming friends that were hooked on the roleplaying game based on the novels. In order to play the game, it was necessary to read the books. It did not take me long in The Eye of the World to become completely hooked on this series and soon would go on to read the rest of the novels.
I had an opportunity to hear Robert Jordan read from his final work-in-progress novel, the one that would eventually turn into three volumes written by Brandon Sanderson, at the San Diego Comic Con a few months before his death. The room was packed with hundreds of breathless people, waiting to hear Jordan read from his much anticipated book. He was seated and did not wish to move about much due to his illness, but his voice was strong and clear. The words captivated the audience.
When he died with the final book unfinished, I was one of those heart-broken fans that wondered if I would ever hear the end of the tale by one of my favorite authors. When his wife commissioned Brandon Sanderson to finish the series, I was uncertain if this young author had the chops to write The Wheel of Time. I checked out one of his first novels, Elantris, and saw the quality of his work. I had nothing to worry about. Sanderson has gone on to become one of the top writers in the epic fantasy genre today.
The Wheel of Time Saga
The Eye of the World (1990)
The Great Hunt (1990)
The Dragon Reborn (1991)
The Shadow Rising (1992)
The Fires of Heaven (1993)
Lord of Chaos (1994) Locus Award nominee, 1995.
A Crown of Swords (1996)
The Path of Daggers (1998)
Winter’s Heart (2000)
Crossroads of Twilight (2003)
Knife of Dreams (2005) Final novel completed by Robert Jordan.
The Gathering Storm (2009) Completed by Brandon Sanderson.
Towers of Midnight (2010) Completed by Brandon Sanderson.
A Memory of Light (2013) Completed by Brandon Sanderson, epilogue by Robert Jordan.