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Posts tagged “conventions


I’m departing this afternoon for Detroit, Michigan to participate in the ConFusion science fiction convention! I’m moderating the “Blurring the Lines” panel on genre Sunday at 10 and then giving a reading at 11.

Hope to see you there!


A new voice in the field of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy fiction, New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His most recent story, “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” was published in Dark Oak Press’ Capes and Clockwork II, edited by Alan Lewis. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon lives with his guardian and protector, Battle-cat Princess Kaleidoscope, in his home town of New Orleans, Louisiana. Find out more about Brandon’s work at
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.

CONtraflow Panels

I will be attending the CONtraflow convention this weekend, Friday, September 30th, through Sunday, October 2nd at the Airport Hilton.

My panels:

Getting Started As an Editor. Learn how to get into the profession of bringing out the best in writers’ work.
Ben Bova, Toni Weisskopf, Brandon Black (moderator)
Friday, 7pm, Panel Room 4

The Five Colors of Mana as a Philosophical System. A look at the five colors of mana in the game Magic: The Gathering as a philosophical system replacing the D&D alignment system as a means of describing a character’s personality, ideology and goals.
Brandon Black
Saturday, 11am, Panel Room 3

Making the Move from Fan Fiction to Original Fiction. Panelists discuss how to go from cover artist to writing stories based on your own ideas.
Brandon Black, Jim Gavin, Chris Hayes
Saturday, 7pm, Panel Room 1

Cultural Appropriation or Building Diversity: An Exploration Of Issues Involving Real World Cultures In Fantasy and Science Fiction. Panelists take an extended look at the challenges of promoting diversity. (80 Minutes)
Kirsten Corby, Chris Hayes, Louise Herring-Jones, Kimberly Richardson, Eris Walsh, Vas
Littlecrow Wotjanowicz, Brandon Black (moderator)
Sunday, 11am, Event One

So You’ve Written A Novel, Now What? The panelists discuss how to find to prepare your manuscript for submission, whether an agent is right for you, and how to find the right publisher.
Trisha Baker, John Hartness, Toni Weisskopf, Brandon Black (moderator)
Sunday, 3pm, Panel Room 1

Steampunk panels:

How Can Steampunk Grow As A Genre? The term “steampunk” first appeared in the late 1980’s, although of course the precursors of the sub-genre go back much further. With the steam explosion in the 21st Century, the panelists discuss where it can from here.
J L Mulvihill, Stephanie Osborn, Kimberly Richardson
Friday, 7pm, Panel Room 2

I, Steampunk. An introduction on the wide and wacky world of Steampunk involving the literary,
cinematic and cultural sources of the movement. In addition the crew of the Adventurers League of G.E.A.R.S. Will attempt to dispel many long standing rumors and myths about steampunk and the culture that surrounds it.
League of GEARS
Friday 4pm, Panel Room 4

Quack Medicine. A discussion of the continuing profession of quackery and pseudo-science in the medical field, from its early routes with snake oil salesmen to more modern issues.
League of GEARS
Saturday, 9pm, Panel Room 1

Steampunk Props and Costumes. Members of the Adventurers League of G.E.A.R.S. will regal you with tales of daring do deep within thrift shops, trash bins and strange basement shops as they inform you just how reasonably you can assemble your first Steampunk costume. Topics will include upcycling, custom fabrication and thrift store treasure mining, even if you’re not a Steampunk some of the techniques and concepts discussed here are useful to the generalized costuming trade.
League of GEARS
Saturday, 11am, Panel Room 4

Victorian Dance Class. If you’ve ever wondered what the appropriate dances would be for a Steampunk Cotillion, concert or tea dance, your curiosity will be satisfied here.
Rebecca Smith
Saturday, 8pm, Panel Room 2

* * *
New Orleans-based fantasy and science fiction author Brandon Black is the editor of the By Gaslight steampunk anthology series. He has a Bachelor’s in Military and Political Journalism and a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. His short fiction has appeared in Dark Oak Press’ Dreams of Steam III and Seventh Star Press’ A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court. Brandon has just published a short anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fiction short stories entitled Mechanical Tales and is working on completing his first novel. His most recent story “The Night Mississippi Declared War on the Moon,” has been published in Capes and Clockwork 2.
All text copyright Brandon Black 2016.

Jambalaya Writers’ Conference 2015 After-Action Report

Under the command of Commodore Lydia Lourbacos, our squadron assembled in the early post-dawn hours Saturday at a local staging area (the tarmac outside Wal-Mart) before jumping for Houma space.

Our squadron consisted of two vessels, one helmed by the Commodore herself and the other under the command of Captain Dennis Melancon. Navcomps functioned perfectly and we egressed hyperspace in the correct coordinates allowing us to dock our vessels shortly before the first speakers took the stage. Commodore Lourbacos, noting one sign-up sheet for time slots to meet with an agent or editor was not full, brought it to our attention. I signed up eagerly for such a slot although I had not prepared a pitch.

The presentations were informative and entertaining and the speakers friendly and eager to provide answers to attendee’s questions.

Lunch was provided by the Conference. Plates were filled by the Conference and handed out. I anticipated a buffet style allowing us to choose what foods we wished and in what proportion but the manner chosen by the Conference was exceedingly efficient. There were too few chairs, which seemed a bit of an oversight, but nearby benches took up most of the slack. I actually enjoyed my salad which I take as a sign of my steadily increasing age as previously I denounced the substance as “that’s not food, that’s what food eats.”

I spent an hour formulating my pitch for my novel in my head. A local woman (in rather fetching Goth attire, I might add) came over to the bench where I was sitting so she could smoke (there was one of those cigarette disposal posts next to the bench). She smoked clove cigars of all things, perhaps in keeping with her Gothic nature. We chatted amicably and having made her aware of the New Orleans By Gaslight anthology, she said she’d buy a copy when she got home. She asked me who my pitch session was with and when I said I didn’t know, warned me that one of the people who was taking sessions only represented non-fiction. Already nervous, I spent the next hour honing my pitch for my non-fiction project in case I drew the non-fiction person.

I went upstairs to await my pitch, emptying my bladder beforehand. My stomach churned nervously. An older gentleman left the pitch room and called out my name telling me the room was mine.

I went inside ready to give my two pitches. The nice lady therein asked me what I was looking for and I said, I was looking for an agent. She apologized and explained that the Conference had put her in an awkward position. She wasn’t an agent nor an editor at a publishing company. She was an editor who helps people improve their work so they can self-publish it. She gave me some basic tips on how to get an agent — stuff I already knew, honestly, and apologized again, giving me her business card as I mentioned I did do some self-published work. I gave her my business card and departed.

I attended two other presentations which, like the previous ones, were informative and entertaining. The most useful presentation was on how to produce book proposals for agents and editors and the speaker provided handouts. She did make the classic mistake of handing them out before her talk. People tend not to listen to you but to instead read the handout when you do that.

After the presentations, there was a social. I thought we were about to leave and after looking in on the social, proceeded downstairs somehow missing my fellows who went upstairs to the social.

As I sat outside, the sky exploded.

The skies had been grey all day but no rain had fallen. Out of nowhere, there was a sudden boom and a torrential downpour I lack the words to describe but shall nonetheless, out of pride as a writer, attempt: It was as though a hurricane’s rains were poured out onto the city of Houma in one great instant, without any wind whatsoever, an epic drowning of the land from an ocean above the firmament clearly and easily justifying the local government’s flash flood warnings.

I can’t swim, by the way.

Calling upstairs to find out if we were leaving, Lydia told me they were in the social and that an editor was talking to people about their book projects. She asked me if I wanted to speak with him. I was confused but my commlink’s poor quality and the booming noise of the ongoing downpour made me close the channel to attempt direct communication.

Making my way to the social, Lydia pointed to the editor. He was only speaking with one person. I asked who he was and why I should wish to speak with him and was told he was one of the few editors at a publishing house who still accepted books ‘over the transom.’ And so I went over to make my pitch. I went over and waited while he spoke to another attendee. The gentleman who gave the screenwriting presentation came over and asked me if I had written a screenplay, which I had. We chatted about my question about whether or not it was advantageous to attempt to get a local film company to make your script or to wait and push for an LA firm to look at the project. He said any company making your script into an actual film is worthwhile and advantageous to your career as a screenwriter.

I spoke with the editor in question afterward, and gave him a copy of New Orleans By Gaslight to keep and my business card. He gave me his business card and asked me to send him some of my work. I thanked him and departed.

I then asked Lydia if she would be my agent, which she laughed about but technically did not decline.

On the way out, Lydia drew my attention to Deborah, who was attending the conference and asked if she was returning to the writing circle. Having just recently experienced the effectiveness of the capable and highly organized Commodore’s advice, I wasted no time in making my way over to Deborah and asking if she planned to return to the writers’ circle. She confessed that she had meant to attend previous sessions but had had to deal with the illness and passing away of a beloved feline companion. I gave my condolences and Deborah thanked me for them and said she would do her best to make the next meeting.

Our squadron then made a short hyperspatial fold to a nearby waystation called “Cajun Critters” for resupply and R&R. I, being allergic to seafood, was made nervous by the numerous model sea creatures adorning the outside of the station but found a two-patty burger and potato salad on the menu and felt I would be safe with that. I was. In fact, my two-patty burger was so huge, I wound up eating it with fork and knife as an open-faced sandwich, one patty on one bun and one patty on the other. It was delicious and filling. The potato salad was tasty if a little too smooth. I prefer my potato salad a bit more chunky. I didn’t have room for dessert. I do recommend the restaurant though. Our server was young and inexperienced but we muddled through and had a good time.

We then egressed Houma space for the stars of home.

The Commodore, with Xavier as navigator, dropped me back off at my residence and I repeated Captain Melanon’s jape thanking the Commodore for “twisting everyone’s arm” to get us to the Conference. The Commodore purchased from me the other sample copy of the New Orleans By Gaslight anthology I’d brought with me to the Conference, potentially bringing my sales for the day to two when I hadn’t planned any.

It had been a very full and entertaining day and I’d come back with several business cards and notes from speakers as well as a invitation from a Penguin editor to send him my work so the two hours of agonizing over pitches I didn’t get to give wasn’t too bad. I recommend the Conference to the reader without reservation and hope we can organize such an event here in New Orleans in the future.

Cdr. Brandon Black, signing off

* * *

Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Saturday at 1 pm CST on WGSO 990 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.

A Convention in the Dreamtime

Dreamcon 2015 Report

So — I’m dreaming. And in this dream, I’m at a science fiction convention.

And it’s not just any science fiction convention, it’s a science fiction convention in the Dreamtime. It’s like a Worldcon but none of the usual limits of time and space apply. It’s a Dreamcon and all the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers and editors throughout time are there, dead and alive. So there’s Isaac Asimov and Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback and Mary Shelley and Kurt Vonnegut and Ellen Datlow and Arthur C. Clarke and Lee Martindale and Darko Suvin and Larry Niven and Jeff Vandermeer and Frederick Pohl and H. G. Wells and John M. Ford and Robert E. Howard and Samuel Delany and all the rest are there. And there are even gods in attendance. Hypnos and Hades are at this con. Apollo’s in the back trying to make time with both Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler at the same time. Well, He’s trying anyway. Even Harlan Ellison is there — but he only thinks he’s a god. *rim shot* Yep, Harlan Ellison. And me. Me.

I’m the noob, of course. And I’ve been totally gushing over Jack Vance but he’s taken it in good stride. I’m hardly the first guy who showed up at Dreamcon and went all fanboy over his favourite author, you know? Neil Gaiman’s still in the back chatting with Shakespeare after all.

So I get back from a couple of panels and everyone’s sitting in a circle. I see the god Ptah and Ptah lifts a goblet made of stars in my direction. I, wide-eyed, nod respectfully. Seated next to Ptah is Harlan Ellison who calls out to Shakespeare and Gaiman to come join the group or get a room.

Hey, we were all thinking it.

I find an open seat between Hypnos (who, the night before, DJ’ed the most amazing trance techno rave I’ve ever seen) and Frederik Pohl and sit down. Everyone starts taking turns swapping jokes. And they start off with, “stop me if you’ve heard this joke.”

And these jokes — these jokes are amazing, like beyond hilarious, mostly because a lot of these guys are writers, great writers, mind you, and dead, so they’ve had a long time to work on their material. So someone, I can’t remember who, starts telling this joke.

There’s this high school in the South and it’s terribly old-fashioned and the only activities the girls are allowed are cheerleading and home ec basically. So after years and years and years, they finally elect a girl President of the Student Council and she’s going to give the Homecoming speech and it’s half time at the big game and the new student council president comes down from the bleachers and she sets one foot, I mean, one single solitary foot onto the football field and dies instantly. And then, the night after her funeral, she rises from the dead in the cemetery and says…

And that’s when I woke up.

All I can assume is that Hypnos stopped whoever was telling that joke because he’d already heard it.

And now, I’ll never hear the end of that joke. Well, maybe next year.

* * *

Fantasy, science fiction and steampunk author Brandon Black is the editor of New Orleans By Gaslight, a first of its kind anthology of steampunk and gaslamp fantasy poetry and fiction set in Victorian-era New Orleans. Brandon is also the web content manager for the Week in Geek, New Orleans’ favourite fantasy and science fiction themed radio talk show, every Saturday at 1 pm CST on WGSO 990 AM. Click here to check out Brandon’s ever-expanding list of published works.