Didn’t see as many costumes as usual this year, but Comic-Con was still a lot of fun.
It was definitely the “Year of the Woman” as panel after panel celebrated women’s accomplishments and featured female artists, writers, filmmakers, producers, and executives.
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor Mark Zicree shared an episode of his epic show Space Command. It was great to see, especially having read about it in his Now Write! article.
Harlan Ellison left the earthly plane on June 28, 2018. He was a beyond-prolific writer and legend and probably one of the most notorious contributors to the Now Write! series. When I consulted film industry friends on approaching Mr. Ellison about contributing to Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, the response was invariably, “Don’t bother.”
Harlan’s philosophy: “We’re all stupider than we should be.”
Harlan had a reputation for being, er, um, ah, difficult. He once sent a dead gopher to a publisher (an incident he recounted with glee during my visit.) He’s also known in the entertainment industry for being lawsuit-happy, most famously settling out of court with James Cameron over Cameron’s admitted use of one of Harlan’s Outer Limits episodes for TERMINATOR.
Despite the warnings, I was undaunted in my quest to include him in the book.
Still, I was a little surprised when he graciously agreed to allow a reprint of an
article he wrote in the seventies, with the new addition of a writing exercise that would make it fit for our Now Write! format (“First, There Was The Title” in the “Theme and Meaning” chapter.) I honored his specifications – including the registered trademark symbol after his name – and we never had a problem.
After the book came out we had a phone conversation in which he gave me a lot of good advice as an editor. He then invited me to his home for a face-to-face visit – an offer I couldn’t refuse.
THE LOST AZTEC TEMPLE OF MARS
“Harlan’s home, high in the hills above Sherman Oaks, is a work of art and a wonder to behold. My meager talent at tippy-tapping out words falls far short of coming to grasp with the idea of the concept of describing Harlan’s home. Even Ray Bradbury would pause and frown in thought. This is Ellison Wonderland, and evidently, it has undergone a re-christening, as Harlan’s address as listed in _Contemporary Authors_ Vol. 46, New Revised Edition, 1995, reads The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars, CA.”
(Quoted from his website – where you can find a lot more Harlan FAQs.)
MY VISIT WITH HARLAN
He had suffered a recent stroke, and I found Harlan physically weak, but mentally quite strong. He wasn’t able to give me a tour but still allowed me to roam his domain, which really is a work of crazy art: the décor and mind-boggling collections of books, art and kitsch, custom ladders, odd-shaped rooms, secret entrances and Aztec exterior made this a fitting home for a one-of-a-kind eccentric genius like Harlan.
These pictures can’t possibly do it justice, but may serve to give you some idea:
Harlan can quote from his thousands of stories and books, as well as rattle off how many of each glass, knife, comic book or action figure he’s collected. Despite his recent stroke, the man’s mind remains sharper than a steel trap, which he claims is both a blessing and a curse. I believe him.
During several hours of candid conversation we hit it off better than I expected, including an in-depth discussion of philosophy and relationships.
I learned he had a close friendship with Robin Williams, who he said was too gentle and kind to ever be at ease in the cutthroat entertainment industry.
He spoke glowingly of Roger Dean, designer and artist best known for fantasy posters and album covers for conceptual rock bands, and who shared a common experience of suing James Cameron – in Dean’s case it was for his paintings being the inspiration for much of the look and feel of AVATAR. (Enjoy Dean’s desktop downloads.)
Harlan also introduced me to Pen World Magazine, which we both sort of drooled over before his lunch arrived. I had been invited to stay but didn’t want to wear out my welcome.
Harlan is a true character, a bit of a curmudgeon, definitely not the type to suffer fools. I’m grateful he didn’t deem me as such – it was a surprising and memorable visit indeed!
Friday, Feb 23, 3:15pm Great Beginnings Openings – Your First Line, First Page, First Three Pages
You hear from editors and agents that if the first paragraph of your story isn’t strong enough, they won’t read the first page, let alone the first fifty. Separate fact from fiction and remain true to your story. Writing a first line that will grab an editor and immediately announce your authority as an author. A unique opportunity for you to learn how real pros consider the merits of the material and the intent of the author, then offer improvements covering everything from glaring grammar errors to story-structure flaws to the overall storytelling and more. Bring 5 copies of your first 3 pages. Selected pages will be read aloud, so the audience can follow along and learn how the panel reviews and may suggest improving the samples. Sara Anne Fox (Moderator), Mike Robinson, Whitney Davis, Deanna Brady, Laurie Lamson (Panelists.)
Friday, Feb 23, 5:45pm Writing Secrets from Masters of the Speculative Genres
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror provides rare access to writing secrets from masters of the speculative genres. Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson will lead a creative writing workshop using an exercise from the “Ideas and Inspiration” chapter from one of the most celebrated contributors.
Education and Inspiration for Writers of Speculative Fiction
Next weekend (Jan. 27-29) is the 2017 Genre-LA™ Creative Writers Conference in Culver City, California, (location details) where more than 30 published masters of the genre, literary agents, editors, publishers, best-selling authors, industry experts, Hollywood veterans, educators, and publishing professionals will share their experiences and secrets to help take your writing to the next level and guide your career on the path to success. Save up to $100 on a Single Registration:http://www.wcwriters.com/club.
Now Write! Panel: Special Techniques of Expert Speculative Fiction Writers and Filmmakers
Get inspired and learn how to take your writing to the next level with this Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror panel, Friday, Jan 27, 5:45-6:45 immediately followed by networking cocktail party at the Conference. Have fun taking your imagination where it needs to go to write effectively in these mind-bending genres.
Filmmaker/educator/former studio exec and two-time Now Write! contributor Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein will discuss intriguing ways to give sentience to ordinary objects.
Acclaimed writer/producer/director Pen Densham (Outer Limits, Twilight Zone TV Show revivals) will talk about his unique approach to creative mashups “Writing Into the Spiritual Unknown.” (Check out Pen’s FREE Creative Person’s Success Manual and his awesome screenwriting book Riding the Alligator.)
Special guest Pamela Jaye Smith, award-winning producer/ director/author and mythology expert. She will discuss how to use myth, magic and metaphysics in your stories. Let her be your guide into the geography and psychology of these other realities and learn ways to use them to give your stories internal integrity and unique power.
Contributors to Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horrorwill discuss craft in a way that goes beyond the usual writers’ panel. Our panelists will speak candidly about their own writing and share their favorite tools. Be inspired by Kim Dower’s encouragement to capture material from you dreams, learn Michelle Newman’s secrets on how to effectively ground fantasy in reality and have fun with Derek Taylor Kent’s approach to character development. We will do one of our guests’ exercises during the event, so bring a notebook, pens will be provided. Moderated by Now Write! editor, Laurie Lamson.
(“Steal From Your Dreams With a Twist of Fevered Writing” in Ideas and Inspiration chapter.)
Kim Dower is a poet with three collections: Air Kissing on Mars (2010), Slice of Moon (2014) and Last Train to the Missing Planetcame out earlier this year (all published by Red Hen Press.) Her poems have appeared in journals including Ploughshares, Eclipse, Rattle, and Barrow Street. She has taught creative writing at Emerson College and teaches Come Dressed as Your Favorite Poem, at Antioch University Los Angeles.
(“FUNdamentals of Writing” in Memorable Heroes, Villains and Monsters chapter.)
Derek Taylor Kent is an author, screenwriter, performer and director based in Los Angeles. His award-winning book series Scary School (written under pen-name Derek the Ghost) has become one of the most popular new series for middle-readers ages 7 to 12. His bi-lingual picture book El Perro Con Sombrero came out August 18, 2015 through Holt/Macmillan and was a #1 best-selling new release. His first novel for an adult audience, Kubrick’s Game, is set for release September 26, 2016 through Evolved Publishing.
Other books include the award-winning educational picture book Simon and the Solar System and the magical adventure Rudy and the Beast, both available now. Derek also specializes in writing narrative scripts for Virtual Reality content.
(“Make It Real” in Scene Construction and Style chapter.)
Michelle Newman is completing her first historical fantasy novel, “Mistaken Knights,” while trying to save the world one kilowatt hour at a time: She moonlights for a company that creates green energy solutions for small and medium-sized businesses.
2:00 – Doors open to the public – Register & Network with other writers 2:30 – Announcements 3:00 – Now Write! Panel 4:15 – Q&A 4:45 – Meet the Speaker(s)
5:30 – Library must close
6:00 – Guest of Honor Dinner – Members-only by RSVP.
Palms-Rancho Park Library Ray Bradbury Room 2920 Overland Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90064