I just attended LosCon in Los Angeles, where I was a vendor in the dealers’ room, selling mostly my novels and dice towers. Even amoung the fandom community, there are many who have never attended a con. So, let me introduce you to them!

Science-fiction and fantasy conventions are not just gatherings; they are celebrations of passion, creativity, and community. If you’ve never attended one but are curious, this guide just might open a door to a world of imagination and camaraderie.

What Are Fandom Conventions?


Fandom conventions, often referred to as “cons,” are events where fans of various genres, including comics, science fiction, fantasy, and more, come together. They originated from the science fiction conventions of the 1930s and have evolved into diverse, inclusive celebrations of all forms of media and culture, venues where art, culture, and fan enthusiasm intersect.

How Do They Work?


Conventions typically span several days and feature a plethora of activities. Attendees, often called “con-goers,” can participate in panels, meet celebrities, join workshops, play a variety of table top games, cosplay, and much more. These events are held in large venues like convention centers and hotels, accommodating from a few hundred people to many thousands. Each convention has its unique flavor, reflecting the themes and communities it represents.

Who Attends These Conventions?


Fandom conventions attract a wide array of people. From hardcore fans who’ve followed a franchise for decades to curious newcomers, the diversity is staggering. All are united by a shared love for specific genres or series. These events also attract creators, artists, and industry professionals, making them a melting pot of ideas and inspiration.

Can You Attend Without Cosplay?


Absolutely! While cosplay – dressing up as a character – is a popular aspect of conventions, it’s not a requirement. Many attendees enjoy conventions in casual attire. Cosplay is about expression and fun, not obligation. It’s a way to pay homage to beloved characters, but enjoying the event in your style is equally celebrated.

Panels and Workshops


Panels are discussions or presentations on various topics related to fandoms. They range from celebrity Q&As to fan-led discussions about specific aspects of a genre. Workshops offer hands-on experiences in areas like costume making, writing, or art creation. These sessions provide an opportunity for personal growth and learning, as well as a chance to engage with experts and fellow fans.

Autograph Sessions and Photo Ops


Celebrity guests often offer autograph sessions and photo opportunities. It’s a chance to meet your heroes, albeit briefly, and take home a personalized souvenir. These interactions provide a rare opportunity to connect with the actors, writers, and creators who bring your favorite stories to life.

For example, this year I was on the “Welcome to the Weird West” panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and about an hour later, several of us who were on the panel did an authgraphing session, where attendees bought our books, chatted with us, and got our signatures.

Exhibitor Halls and Artist Alleys

Exhibitor halls, also known as the “dealers’ room,” are commercial areas where vendors sell merchandise. Artist alleys feature works from independent artists and creators, offering unique, often handcrafted items. These sections are exciting for collectors and enthusiasts, offering everything from rare collectibles to original artworks.

Gaming and Interactive Zones


Many conventions have areas dedicated to gaming, from video games to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. These zones offer a chance to play, watch, or even participate in tournaments. They are a hub for gamers to share strategies, experiences, and engage in friendly competition.

Cosplay and Costume Contests


Cosplay is a cornerstone of these conventions. Costume contests showcase the incredible talent and creativity of attendees, with categories ranging from beginners to masters. These events are not only about showcasing costumes but also about celebrating the effort and passion that goes into bringing characters to life.

Special Screenings and Premieres


Conventions often host special screenings of films, TV episodes, or fan-made projects. Occasionally, you might witness a premiere or a sneak peek of upcoming releases. These screenings are special treats, offering fans a communal experience of enjoying anticipated content together. Some fans will have an event called “trailer park,” where they show trailers for upcoming movies and shows, and often give out swag, including tee shirts.

Making the Most of Your Convention Experience


  • Plan Ahead: Check the schedule and plan your days to make the most of the events.
  • Stay Comfortable: Wear comfortable shoes and stay hydrated.
  • Budget Wisely: It’s easy to overspend on merchandise and autographs.
  • Be Respectful: Remember, everyone is there to enjoy their passion. Respectful interactions make the experience better for everyone. One of the things many people enjoy about conventions is that it’s a place where they can be themselves.
  • Explore: Don’t be afraid to try new panels or meet new people. Embrace the unexpected and allow yourself to discover new interests and friendships.


Fandom conventions are more than just events; they are vibrant, welcoming communities where people celebrate their passions and forge new friendships. Whether you’re a seasoned con-goer or a first-timer, each convention is an adventure waiting to be explored. They are a testament to the power of stories and characters in bringing people together, creating unforgettable experiences.

“We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” ~ Jerry Garcia



As a science fiction author focused on weird westerns, for me, it’s essential to research the past. My fictional playground, which I call the Creedverse, is the setting for my series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed. It’s an alternate timeline where, in the early 1870s, the discovery of how to access the luminiferous ether led to incredible new technologies.

So, why is it so important to research the past for an alternate timeline? Let’s explore.

The Foundation of Authenticity When Writing Historical Science Fiction

Historical science fiction is a blend of factual history and imaginative speculation. The challenge lies in weaving these elements seamlessly, and for that, research is indispensable. It provides the scaffolding on which we can drape our imaginative worlds. For example, in the Creedverse, I delve into the 1870s setting of Santa Cruz and San Francisco, a period rich in history and culture. Getting the details right about the architecture, language, and societal norms of the time adds authenticity to the narrative, touches that make the fantastical elements–like resurrected zombies and steam-powered inventions–more believable and grounded. The historical underpinning imbues the fictional world with a sense a tangible sense of place and time that lets readers fully engage with the story.

Balancing Fact and Fiction


The key to writing historical science fiction well is finding the right balance between historical accuracy and creative freedom. Research helps in understanding the era: the technology, the politics, the people’s way of life, and cultural attitudes. From there, it’s a dance between what was and what could have been. In creating the Creedverse, I respected historical timelines but introduced technology, like lightbulbs, flashlights, and refrigerators, earlier than they appeared in our world. Plus, there are quite advanced robots with a western aesthetic. This interplay creates a familiar yet intriguingly different world for my readers. The act of balancing historical facts with creative elements allows for a narrative both grounded in reality and elevated by imagination.

Avoiding Anachronisms


Anachronisms can jolt a reader out of the story. Meticulous research helps avoid such pitfalls. When I write about the streets of 1870s San Francisco, I need to ensure that everything from the street names to the sorts of businesses reflects that era. For instance, a simple reference to a modern-day object or a phrase that wasn’t in use at the time can disrupt the narrative’s integrity. Research guards against these errors, ensuring that the world I build is internally consistent, even when it’s speculative. By painstakingly checking each historical detail, I can create a world that resonates with verisimilitude, keeping the reader fully immersed in the era and story I am crafting.

That said, yes, my books have a few small anachronisms, though they’re things that modern readers wouldn’t have realized didn’t exist yet. These mistakes, I chock up to the Creedverse being an alternate timeline where some surprising things appeared earlier.

Cultural Sensitivity and Representation


In historical sf, we’re often dealing with times that had different social norms and attitudes. Research becomes crucial in portraying these aspects with sensitivity and accuracy. It’s fine for characters to have attitudes reflecting the times, but the author needs to have more sensitivity. This is especially important when writing about real historical figures or events. In the Creedverse, for instance, while I reimagine many aspects of the Old West, I strive to represent the era’s social dynamics, including gender roles and cultural diversity, in a manner that is respectful and informed. The protagonist of the first series, James “Bodacious” Creed, has quite progressive attitudes. Understanding the historical context of various social issues allows for a more nuanced and respectful portrayal of different cultures and communities, enriching the narrative with diverse perspectives and experiences.

Inspiration and Innovation


Research isn’t just about getting facts straight; it’s also a gold mine of inspiration. While exploring the history of the Wild West, and especially San Francisco during the time, I’ve stumbled upon fascinating tidbits that have sparked entire plotlines in the Creedverse. Because of my research, historical figures appear in the books, and much more. The ‘what if’ questions that arise from actual historical events or technologies lead to the most exciting aspects of sf storytelling. Delving into historical texts and records can unveil hidden stories and forgotten inventions, which become the seeds for plot ideas, characters, and tense conflicts. These discoveries not only fuel the imagination but also lend a sense of wonder and possibility to the narrative, bridging the gap between past and future.

For aspiring writers of historical sf and fantasy, I cannot stress enough the importance of research. It’s what makes your world believable and your story interesting. The process is time consuming, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. As you peel back the layers of history, you’ll find a wealth of material to inspire and substantiate your creative vision. Remember, while we, as sf authors, have the liberty to bend history, our stories gain depth and resonance from the threads of truth that run through them. So, embark on this journey with diligence and enthusiasm, and you will find that your historical sf narratives will not only engage but also enlighten your readers.

“You should write not what you know, but what you can find out about.” ~ Robert J. Sawyer



This week, I feel compelled to share insights into the process behind my latest project, Anna, Daughter of Creed. As many of you know, writing a novel is a journey full of unexpected twists, and this one has been no exception.

The Unique Challenges with “Anna, Daughter of Creed”


About a year ago, while Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate was in its pre-sales phase, I embarked on this new adventure. Having finished the first Bodacious Creed trilogy, it was time to start the first spin-off series, The Anna Lynn Chronicles.

Every novel I write requires something different. It reminds me of a quote I once heard, though its origin eludes me: “If you’ve written one novel, you know how to write that novel.” Each book is a unique challenge, presenting a fresh learning curve that requires adaptability and persistence. And Anna, Daughter of Creed has demanded its share of both.


First and Second Attempts


Initially, I dove into the Creedverse, the world of my novels, once more, crafting an outline and beginning the draft. At around 25,000 words, I hit a realization. What I had written wasn’t the story I wanted to tell, but it was a necessary step to understand the true heart of my novel. It became a foundation to build upon.

On my second attempt, the draft grew to about 66,000 words. Concurrently, I was expanding the Creedverse series bible, adding around 300,000 words of characters, locations, and other rich details. This extensive world-building not only enriched the current project but will also enhance future novels in the series. That’s about 391,000 words in the Creedverse alone and doesn’t count all the writing I do for my day job, or in my journal. Yes, I write a lot.

A Moment of Clarity Leads to A Powerful Start


Just last week, a clarity moment struck. The new novel draft felt cluttered, overambitious in its scope. It was time to streamline the narrative, focus on the core story. After extensive brainstorming and reorganizing plot points using my favorite beat sheet method, I’ve now crafted an outline that feels just right. It’s focused yet rich with character development, action, social commentary, and the twists you’ve come to expect from the Creedverse, and it weaves in several important subplots, too.

On To The New Draft


I’m eager to embark on writing this new draft, more streamlined and focused than before. While it’s true that the previous drafts accounted for a whopping 91,000 words, and the series bible saw a massive expansion, it’s all part of the creative process. Every word written, every character fleshed out, contributes to the depth and richness of my fictional universe.

Final Thoughts


Transparency with you, my readers, is vital. I want you to know that your anticipation and support fuel my commitment to this story. Once this next draft reaches its completion, I plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign to cover editing and other publishing necessities. If you’re curious about the kind of rewards and perks this might include, take a look at the campaign we had for Bodacious Creed and the San Francisco Syndicate.

Regarding “Anna, Daughter of Creed”: Set in the 1870s, this steampunk western follows Anna Lynn Boyd, daughter of James “Bodacious” Creed. A former prostitute turned madam and brilliant inventor, Anna’s journey is a testament to resilience and ingenuity. She faces societal challenges and corporate intrigue, striving to uplift the lives of women in Santa Cruz. Her story is one of empowerment, set against the backdrop of a world grappling with rapid changes and the challenges that come with them.

I’m thrilled about this novel’s potential and the fresh perspectives it brings to the Creedverse. Your continued support and enthusiasm mean the world to me. Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you for joining me on this incredible journey!

Until next time, keep the gears turning and the pages flying!

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham


Indie Author Day at Anaheim Central Library


Today, I had the honor of participating in Indie Author Day hosted by Central Library in Anaheim. This event combined educational panels, networking, and the joy of connecting with readers and fellow authors.

Starting the Day


The event kicked off for me and my son at 9:30 when I brought the books in my trilogy, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, to the contracted bookseller, Mystery Ink. They played an integral role in connecting authors with readers. It’s always a pleasure to see a new reader walk away with one of my books, and signing a copy for an enthusiastic gentleman half-way through the event was a highlight for me.

My Panel


At noon I was on a panel, “Crafted Words: Mastering the Writer’s Toolbox,” where we shared an insightful discussion on various tools available to writers. From mental fortitude to the latest software, we covered a gamut that I believe the audience found valuable. Max Evans’s use of “flow state” as a measure of a successful writing day was particularly thought-provoking, suggesting that the qualitative experience of writing can be just as important as quantitative goals.


Book Signing Time


Next came my book signing time, which stretched from 1:330 to 3:00. I signed just one book, Bodacious Creed: a Steampunk Zombie Western, but that’s seemed about average for the day. I had a nice conversation with fellow authors Barbara Pronin and Wendy Van Camp, the latter of whom orchestrated the entire event with a finesse reminiscent of a seasoned con organizer. I extend my deepest gratitude to Wendy for inviting me to participate in such a well-executed day.



I spent the final hour visiting the vendor tables upstairs and networking, exchanging business cards and bookmarks, and buying a couple of books. For emerging authors looking to build their networks, my advice is to be proactive yet personal; collect contacts at the event, and more importantly, engage with them afterward through thoughtful follow-ups.

In terms of my personal writing journey, I’m eager to share that I gained a lead on a native French-speaking editor for translating my series, The Adventures of Bodacious Creed, into French. With my academic background in language studies, this is an exciting step toward making my work accessible to a wider audience.

I also added two notable books works to my collection: Golden Boxty in the Frypan by Pat Spencer and Short Barrel Fiction by Bill Wilbur. Both works struck a chord with me, resonating with my interests in historical narratives and the Western genre, respectively.

Final Thoughts


Today was all about celebrating independent and small-press books and meeting new contacts, possibly new friends. Events like these are crucial for the indie writing community to thrive and evolve.

I am already looking forward to the next one.

“Creativity is a combination of discipline and childlike spirit.” ~ Robert Greene