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!
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.
The Chinese edition of Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror has a yellow cover. The bird perhaps refers to Edgar Allan Poe’s crow-? While the Korean cover art remind me of Polish versions of American movie posters. Pretty cool, huh?
Now Write! has the pleasure to be involved with the Greater Los Angeles Writers’ Society (GLAWS) conferences. Now Write! hosted lively panels with contributors from several of the Now Write! books at the last 3 conferences. These are friendly, affordable writers’ conferences with a lot to offer writers at various levels from beginning to professional.
The upcoming conference June 26-28, 2015 is the biggest of the year and takes place at L.A. Valley College.
Participation by Now Write! contributors and editor:
Friday, June 26, 2015
2:00pm: Now Write! Screenwriting contributor Marilyn Atlas will be on a panel: “How To Pitch a Literary Agent or Publisher.”
5:45pm: Now Write! editor Laurie Lamsonwill moderate a panel: “Techniques for Editing Your Own Work and When to Hire a Pro.”
5:45pm:Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror contributor Steven Barnes offers a class: “The Professional Writer’s Tool Kit” (Laurie wishes she could be in both places at once!)
Sunday, June 28, 2015
1:45pm Laurie and 2-time contributor Brad Schreiber will present a creative writing workshop featuring Brad’s exercise in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror: “Metamorphosis.” Laurie will also share her top 10 favorite exercises selected from all of the books in the Now Write! series.
1:45pm Steven Barnes participates in a panel: “After the TV Pilot – What it Takes to Write a Successful Series”.