When Your Fandom Heroes Become Heroes for Real…

StarTrekoldpixMost of you following this blog know that I was at Galacticon 3 and ComicPalooza last weekend. I had a great time, though I would argue that one of the difficulties with attending such a large combined convention is that you have to pick and choose what events/panels/presentations you will attend. There were over 20 K attendees when all was said and done. The Convention Center was enormous–a regular rabbit warren of rooms and lecture halls. The venue also held an upscale lawyer’s graduation in the middle of all the sci-fi chaos (I wonder if any heads will roll over *that* bit of planning) and at times, it looked like a cartoonish clash of families at a wedding with the lawyer types in their $2 K outfits looking down their noses at the sci-fi fans and *their* $2 K outfits! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some of the lawyers crowd had really wanted to be at the sci-fi convention–we looked like we were having more fun!

I wish I had worried less about my joint presentations (they went well, mostly due to Anna Butler’s superb organizational skills!) and had taken the time to sit in on some of the panels. I wish I’d taken charge of my time better–that I had not run hither and hon but had said, “I want to be here and do this” and just did it. I wish I’d brought a better camera, and had packed the video camera anyway. I wish I’d spent less money on food (though it was hard, darn it, everything was so bloody expensive in Houston!) and more on autographs, photo ops, or merchandise. I had my reasons. I was trying to be good, trying to stay within the budget. I have quarterly taxes due this month. I have a filling that’s suspiciously painful. The laptop is locking up more and giving me the Blue Screen of Death and I don’t know how many more times the Lt. Colonel John Sheppard School of Computer repair will work (i.e. turn it off and back on again). I told myself I didn’t need to stand in line and be one of many telling an actor or actress how much I appreciated their work. How the character they represented gave me the strength or courage to be a better person.

I wish I’d followed my inner rebel and had, at the very least, determined to sit in on the panel given by Sir Patrick Stewart instead of following the schedule I’d been given. Because sometimes when you stray from the path laid out for you–that’s when amazing things happen.

I found out later exactly what I’d missed.

I’m a Star Trek fan from waaaaay back. I’ve watched it as long as I can remember watching television. Through the endless re-runs of The Original Series, Next Gen, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise (until Paramount pulled it and tried to run with it on their own channel, which I didn’t get). I saw all the movies, and I love the re-imaged Star Trek movies with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto and the rest of the new cast. I thought the decision to go with an alternative reality a *brilliant* move on the franchise’s part, allowing for new stories with the characters we knew and loved. I can compartmentalize when I want to, so I can sort of block out the fact that the re-imaged series has effectively negated everything from The Original Series on. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not just an alternate reality, it’s an alternate universe too. 😀

My love of sci-fi isn’t limited to Star Trek by any means. Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis all top the list of shows I can watch over and over again. In part because of the unapologetic strong role models for women. In part because there was a sense of ‘team’ among these shows, and it made you as the viewer strive to be good enough (at whatever you did) to be considered part of that team.

I get that the actor is not the character. I can separate the two in my mind, which is helpful when you love a character and the actor may or may not be someone of similar character strength. That is why it’s called acting after all. But even though I can maintain that distance, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when a celebrity whose work I admire turns out to be admirable in other respects as well. It somehow validates your love of that character just a little.

This past week, I’ve seen a photo in which John Barrowman, on meeting a young blind girl, took her hands and placed them on his face, guiding her to his hair, his eyes, his lips, his cheekbones so that she could ‘see’ him. The picture is blurry but you can see the genuine patience and understanding on his face–this is something that he wanted to do. And though I frequently joke about how everyone loves John Barrowman and wants to kiss him, well, after this, I think it might be true.

photo by jareed flickr commons

photo by jareed flickr commons

I also read a wonderful quote from George Clooney this past week. Many actors have come out in support of equal rights, most memorably for me: Chris Evans, Daniel Ratcliffe, and Anne Hathaway. I liked what George Clooney had to say on the matter: “At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”

But the showstopper for me is the Q&A that I missed, the one with Sir Patrick Stewart. Today, the internet is abuzz with what happened there. I’m going to give you the links from both sides of the story–from viewers and the person who asked the question as well. They can tell the story much better than I can because they were there and I was not.

A member of the audience asked Sir Patrick Stewart what was the achievement he was the most proud of outside his acting career. He answered by saying it was his efforts to call attention to domestic violence against women. What happens next–well, you’ll have to watch and read it to get the full effect.

Sir Patrick Stewart at a soccer game--public domain

Sir Patrick Stewart at a soccer game–public domain

First the video in which Sir Patrick answers the question, stating it is in men’s hands to stop violence against women. His powerful, thoughtful, insightful words are ones everyone should hear. I defy you to watch it without tearing up. Can I say that the fact that the woman in the audience was wearing a Next Gen uniform makes me recognize a kindred spirit? Someone who uses the worlds she reads about and watches on television and in the movies to make her life better. Stronger. Healthier. A Trill at that. If you know anything about Star Trek, you’ll recognize that co-joined species as one that experiences many lives in a symbiotic state with its host–and how symbolic that is, whether the questioner realizes it or not.

Next, we have the woman who asked the question and her response to that emotional moment (taken from from her Tumblr account). I’m so glad there was someone taking pictures as well as videoing this experience. It’s a powerful one that needs to be shared. I’m so glad that Lemon Sweetie had the nerve to stand up and ask her question, and to get the answer and connection she needed and deserved. And the standing ovations!

So I think it would be an understatement to say that I regret not sitting in on that Q&A panel. The take-home lesson from that is this: sometimes you need to trust your instincts. Sometimes you need to say, “what the hell, it’s a once-in-a lifetime experience”. Because finding out a fandom hero is a real-life hero? Priceless.

TRRSizzlingSummerReadsBoxAdAs an FYI, the Summer Sizzling Reads starts today and lasts the entire month of June! Be sure to register at The Romance Reader to be entered to win tons of prizes all month long! My Q&A will be up June 3–if you don’t know the answer, come check out the website–I’ll post it here. Answering the question on TRR site will enter you to win a copy of The Boys of Summer!

 

 

 

The Boys of Summer gets cover art, a new release, and more!

Okay, I know you’ve probably heard me shouting about this already, but I can’t help it. Freelance artist Reese Dante has designed the perfect cover for my soon-to-be-released novel, The Boys of Summer. And I just had to share it here!

The Boys of Summer400x600

Isn’t it simply stunning? I can’t tell you how important it was to me to get this cover just right–and it was like Reese Dante read my mind!

This novel is a bit of a departure from my usual style: it’s a contemporary story that has a significant portion that takes place during WW2’s The Battle of Britain. For a little over 4 months in the summer and fall of 1940, the young men of the UK took to the air to defend their home from invasion. It was a brutal time. France had fallen to the Nazi forces and the Luftwaffe had been building airplanes and training pilots in large numbers in order to defeat Britain from the air. What stopped the German Invasion machine from taking Britain was a matter or grit, determination, and a group of badly outnumbered young pilots.

I have to confess, when I began writing this story, the WW2 sequence was a mere indulgence on my part, a simple fantasy that I wished to explore. However, when I began researching the Battle of Britain, the more I learned, the more appalled I was at my lack of knowledge about this time in our history. I read textbooks, I watched films and documentaries, I researched some more. It was very important to me to get the details just right–and I spent over a month in research before I ever put words to paper. Much of it never ended up in the story–except as scaffolding on which to build. I learned too, that not only were these boys barely out of the schoolyard, but also that homosexuality was a criminal offense at the time, a factor which came to play in the choices my heroes made then–and later today.  I can’t wait to share this story with you. The cover is perfect.

The Boys of Summer should be released (hopefully) sometime in April, certainly no later than May 1. *fingerscrossed*

In the meantime, I want to let everyone know my friend Anna Butler has a new release out of her own: Flashwired.

Flashwired

One day, someday soon, Jeeze Madrid was going to wake up and realize just what he’d been passing up; he’d see what Cal Paxton was offering him so faithfully—”Faithfully, Jeeze! Even you can’t deny that!”—and grab it. And they’d finally have what Cal wanted.


Cal Paxton and Jeeze Madrid are the top scouting team on the Pathfinder-class starship, the Carson, on the very outer edge of Earth’s expansion across the galaxy. A Pathfinder’s job is to evaluate planets for colonization. Cal’s and Jeeze’s job is to find the planets for the Carson’s scientists to analyze.

Cal and Jeeze are wingmen, best friends… and lovers. Cal wants more than a casual relationship but Jeeze, recently divorced, is wary of commitment. When Jeeze is shot down over a planet inhabited by a race Earth has never before encountered, what will Cal find when the Carson can finally mount a rescue mission? Will he ever succeed in persuading Jeeze to take up that offer of hand and heart?

I have to tell you, if you’ve never read any of Anna’s work, you are in for the ride of your life. Her writing grabs you from the get-go–her characters are three-dimensional and so real that they practically step out of the page in front of you. I can’t promise that all of her stories end happily ever after, but I can promise that you’ll *love* them!

Flashwired now at Smashwords and on Amazon.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I’m sitting on some announcements that are forthcoming about Galacticon and the writing workshop/ fanfic panel discussion that Anna and I will be co-hosting. (In, OMG, 46 days!!) Did  I mention that Galacticon will be held at the same venue as its sister convention ComicPalooza? That there will be actors from Star Trek as well as Battlestar Galactica at both conventions? Including Sir Patrick Stewart and Edward James Olmos? And that’s not even the special announcements to come! So this really is a case of “Stay Tuned for Further Developments” because they will be forthcoming, I promise!