Friday, December 28, 2007

I Hope Everyone Had a Great Christmas!

It's hard to believe it has come and gone already. I am one of the few people here at work in the week between Christmas and New Year's. There are tumbleweeds blowing about in the aisles. I don't mind so much, as it is nice and quiet so I can get some coding done for my deadline that is only a couple of weeks away.

I cannot report any progress on anything story or costume-related. However, once the holidaze are over, I hope to get my act together and back to work on them. I haven't even had time/energy to cross-stitch, which is really sad. This weekend will be spent shaping up the homestead for our New Year's Eve party, then hopefully after that I can focus on my Titan-ic stuff. I'm looking forward to the party: friends, food, movies on the telly (maybe The Transformers movie that I got for Christmas from the mister), watch the ball drop, kiss the mister at midnight, wave bye-bye to friends and collapse into a long winter's nap. Maybe not the most glamorous party around -- I have sparkling grape juice instead of champagne as I cannot drink -- but it's enough for me.

Please have a safe and happy rest of the year. May 2008 be an even better year for all of us!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Shhhhhhh.... It's Stalk Like A Ninja Day

*sneak* *sneak* *sneak*

In case you haven't heard of it, here's the Wiki on "Stalk Like a Ninja Day". It's kind of the counterpoint to "Talk Like a Pirate Day", which happens in September. I love these extra holidays. Just another way to let the people I work with know that I'm totally insane.

So, get out your throwing stars, play a round of "Ninja Burger", and have a great day.

*sneak* *sneak* *sneak*

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Congratulations to B &M Amusement...

... on the occasion of their 8th anniversary. B&M is my local comic shop. Buddy, Mary, and Tyler always make shopping there fun! If you are ever in Chattanoog in need of a comic shop, give them a try, out on Highway 58. Or you can visit them on the web at this link: B & M . They make Wednesdays fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

I normally wear a costume to work on this day, but I just wasn't feeling well when I left this morning. I just didn't have the energy to get into the full regalia today. So I grabbed a pair of bunny ears before I went out the door and just wore them with my regular work clothes.

It's amazing how much attention one gets when one is wearing bunny ears, even on a day when people dress up. The ears made a lot of people smile, and that is a good thing. A lot of people cracked up because all they could see of me were my ears bobbing around over the cubicle walls all day (I'm too short for them to see the rest of me).

I made gingerbread for the first time last night. It was pretty good, but it was a lot of effort for what I got out of it. Way too many steps to prep the ingredients before they even went into the batter. I used my Pampered Chef TM mini-loaf pan to make four loaves. The recipe claims that this does not freeze well. I'm not sure why; maybe it's the chunks of pears that this particular recipe uses in the batter. I may reserve a little dab and freeze it anyway just to see. If it doesn't, I'll need to find a better, freeze-able recipe. The mister and I just can't eat sweets that fast, and it's better to freeze something like that so I can eat it in small portions later. (The zucchini bread I made this summer froze VERY well. I thawed out the last loaf this past weekend, it was just as moist then as it was the day I made it. Maybe I should just stick with that and banana bread.)

I found a great, versatile recipe for a roll-up this week. Basically, you use refrigerated pizza dough (found with the whomp biscuits near the milk), sliced deli ham, and mozzarella cheese. Remove the dough from the can and roll into a rectangle. Sprinkle whatever seasonings you like on it, to within a half inch of the edges. ( I used Italian seasoning, although I will probably vary it as I go.) Then spread thin slices of deli ham ( or turkey or pepperoni or whatever) over the dough, again to within a half inch of the edges. Then sprinkle with shredded cheese. The recipe calls for mozzarella, but you could use any other cheese you like. I want to try it with goat cheese! Then roll it up and pinch the edges shut. Put it on a baking sheet, seam side down, and bake according to the directions on the pizza dough container. Keep an eye on it, because it will burn quickly! Remove from the oven, let it cool for a moment, and slice it up. It will look like little swirls of crust, meat, and cheese. You can eat it like that, or you can make a dip out of salad dressing or spaghetti sauce or whatever takes your fancy. This is good for a snack, a quick dinner, or even lunch. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Oooh, making myself hungry now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Comfort Food

I've had a rough week so far. I came home today feeling like a freight train had gone through my head. So I made some Appalachian comfort food: a pone of corn bread. Now, if you've never had Southern corn bread, let me describe it for you: it is savory, not sweet like the usual restaurant corn muffins (which I refer to fondly as "Johnny cake"). It's a white corn meal instead of yellow. Lots of butter... if you have a nice cold glass of milk to dip it in, that's even better. Some folks like buttermilk with it, but I prefer sweet milk (translation: regular, non-butter, milk) with mine. I hope to dive into it as soon as the mister gets home from karate.

A few words of advice for first-time Southern-style corn bread bakers:

- Pay attention to the meal that you are buying. I learned the hard way, that there is corn meal (much like you would buy flour) and then there is corn meal mix (kinda like Bisquick, except with corn meal). The mix already has the correct proporations of baking soda, salt, etc., to make it rise. Plain corn meal does not. My favorite mix is Three Rivers. I think it's only a regional brand, though, because in my short stint in Boston a decade ago, I couldnt find anything but Martha White. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a area where Three Rivers is available, I highly recommend it. Most of the measuring work is already done for you, and it is a high quality blend.

- Watch what kind of cooking oil you use in the batter. I advise using a mild-flavored oil, such as canola. I used olive oil once, and I hated it. Now, I am a big fan of olive oil over all, but it just overpowers the corn-breadiness of the batter.

- Be sure to grease the pan well (with butter!) to allow the bread to release when it is done.

- It'll keep on the counter for a couple of days if you put it in a sealed plastic baggie. You can reheat it by wrapping it in a paper towel and nuking it for 10 - 20 seconds, but it is also great cold. It is good for lunch the next day.

- Cast iron skillets are wonderful for cooking it in. They can go in the oven safely and are usually well-seasoned enough to release the bread well. The various pans you can buy to make corn sticks or corn "fish" or corn "cactuses" are fun too.

- Fried corn bread is a delicacy. This is basically pancakes, except you use cornbread batter instead of pancake batter. I don't change the recipe at all from baked corn bread. My daddy loves to make this, line his plate with the cakes, and pour white beans (cooked slowly all day in a crock pot with a ham hock) over them and crumble some more cakes on top... a feast fit for a king!

I haven't been able to work on my costume at all this week. I've had very little time to play at all. Hopefully things will lighten up soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Costume Updates

Well, I gave up on the homemade pattern for the gloves and bought a Kwik-Sew pattern. Silly me finally figured out that it doesn't matter if my pinky doesn't fit in a standard glove well... the McKone Raven gloves HAVE NO PINKIES. Why did I forget that?!? Anyhoo, I have a pattern now. Later this week I'm going to try to cut them out of the bolt of spandex lurking in the corner of my study. I'm losing weight slowly, so I'm not ready to cut out the dress part of the Raven outfit just yet. I want it to still fit me when I get to next Labor Day! However, the gloves should not change all that much. I can do them and the cloak (whose size shouldn't change at all), then the boots.

Ah, the boots! With my husband's clever tips, I think I have found a solution to the sole problem for my thigh boots. I have a pair of flat sandals that have served me well for several seasons. The tops are about to fall apart, but the soles are in great condition. I think I will recycle those for my boots. Spandex "hose" + Dr. Scholl's liner + some kind of heel cup + Glue! + soles may give me what I need. They are the right size, and it will be easier to remove the tops from these than from full shoes. He told me that I should take pictures of the process. If it turns out well, I might make an Instructable for it. We'll see how it goes.

I made the basic shirt for the Gar Logan bear last night. I found an old shirt of mine that I didn't wear any more and used it. It wasn't suitable for donation to Goodwill, but it would do nicely for this project. I love to recycle old clothes! I basted it and had him try it on last night, and he was quite happy with it. Later on, I will machine-sew it and add the purple collar, sleeves, and side-and-back panels. I have a piece of purple material from a Fat Quarter that will do nicely. If it turns out well, I'll post the picture of the finished product here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

You Might Be An Obsessed Gar Logan Fan if...

...if the Fluff-n-Stuff (local version of build-a-bear) has a sale on GREEN BEARS this month. It looks like the one you drew a year ago, so you feel compelled to buy it.

...if you can put a wishing star in it, and you put in a purple one (which will make sense to my fellow members of RBSU)

...and if you don't buy an outfit for it because you intend to go home and sew up a McKone purple and white shirt for him...

GUILTY!!!!! I just need the material for the shirt...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Crafty web site

I found a cool crafty web site last night. I am getting more interested in multiple kinds of crafts -- especially needlework -- and this looks like a great place to get information and post pictures of your own projects:


It is a forum that has many, many members and has lots of great craft ideas.

I no longer have a reason to be bored. At all.

As Archimedes once said, "Give me a bottle of Mod Podge, and I will decoupage the world." Or something like that.

I have started work on the pattern for the McKone Raven opera gloves. I have never made gloves before, so this will be a challenge. I am going to mock up a pair from my scrap fabric pile, but I STILL need to keep in mind that my final version will be stretchy and should be cut somewhat smaller than the mockup. If all else fails, I can get a store-bought pattern to make them with, but I prefer to make them myself. I have incredibly small wrist bones that are very hard to fit into standard sizes. Also, my little finger is a little on the crooked side (on both hands)... gloves that fit the other four fingers tend to NOT fit my pinky!

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jane Sagan Makeup

We had a wondeful weekend. We went to go visit my folks, since it was my niece's birthday. What a great time! My family is a lot of fun to hang out with. We took the land yacht out for the first time in a while and stayed in my brother's driveway.

While we were there, my wonderful sister-in-law helped me work out some of the green body makeup that I may use for my planned Jane Sagan costume. She does a clown ministry with her church, so she has a collection of various types of clown/theatrical makeup. We played with some Snazzeroo and some grease paint before we found a combination that seemed to work. She even jogged my memory as to the makeup that friends at Dragon*Con told me about. It was on the tip of my tongue for weeks... I kept thinking "Krylon". But then I would think, "No, KT, that's not right, that's SPRAY PAINT." (Then I would hear Jeff Foxworthy in my head, saying "Just say it with Krylon!" GAH!) But she told me the correct term: Kryolan. (Once I saw it written down, I could remember it. I can't remember a word very well if I don't know how to spell it.) It's amazing how just a few letters make such a big difference! Unless, of course, I want permanent body makeup. But that's a horse of a different color. Anyway, I was going crazy trying to remember that one brand name, and now I have it.

I liked the Snazzeroo. It isn't very expensive, and it felt light on my skin. I am concerned that it may run if I get too hot and sweaty (which is a hazard at Dragon*Con). We tried using a paintbrush and a sponge for applying it, and the sponge worked much better. I'd like to try some Kryolan at some point, too, but I think I am happy with the preliminary stage of my research so far.

Now for the preliminary stage for my eyes. The soldiers in "Old Man's War" have cats-eyes, which means... theatrical contacts! I have never worn these before, so I am doing my research. One piece of advice I have found that I will pass along... do not order theatrical contacts from anyone who does not require a prescription from a doctor. Even if you don't need them for vision correction, you still need contacts that fit your eyes properly. Ones that don't fit properly may damage your eyes. I have enough trouble with mine that I don't need more! I may check with my optometrist to see if he sells any specialty lenses. Some do, I have found. And he already has my measurements. I will need "powered" lenses... otherwise I'll have to navigate the con by sonar!

I am still going through various designs for the costume, with help from my older brother, who has also read OMW. He has a lot of great suggestions that will help in this design.

Monday, September 24, 2007

...and there was great rejoicing...

It just got announced at work... I've been promoted from Programmer/Analyst III to Systems Analyst! I've been working toward this for a while, so I'm glad it has arrived.

Sorry about the weird colors on the blog. I've been playing with the template lately. I'm making adjustments as I have time, such as playing with the colors. Hopefully it will look better soon.

Also, my weight is finally going back down. I am back below 150 for the first time in over six months! I'm looking to get back down to about 130, which is the high end of 'normal' for my age and height. I've lost about 7 pounds since Dragon*Con. I hope to get to my goal before next D*C. I've lost 50 pounds in 6 months before, so I think I can do this.
Why is it so easy to gain and so hard to lose when it comes to weight?

This will change the size on my costumes a little, so I'm going to wait a bit before I do anything that's closely tailored.

Here is my basic design for the patch for the Jane Sagan costume:

CDF Patch Rough Design

I went with the Phoenix-and-Torch motif, as explained in the artist's comments in the link above.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Greetings on Talk Like a Pirate Day

Arrrrrh, me matey, it be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Talk Like a Pirate Day Official Website

(*sings "It's a Pirate's Life for Me"*)

So, grab yer cutlasses and yer parrots and let's set sail!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Getting Back Into the Groove

Oi! I've been back from the Con for two weeks now. I'm still trying to get used to NOT seeing Klingons and Stormtroopers around every corner. It is amazing how quickly I get used to the Con atmosphere and how long it takes me to "decompress" back into the "Real World" TM.

I am already planning my costumes for next year:

1 - Raven. I already have the OYL costume done. Now I want to be brave and try the McKone style Raven (cloak, dress, thigh boots). I have the spandex. I have some patterns that I can adapt to create the other parts. Now I just need to get started!

2- Jane Sagan from Old Man's War. This one is going to be a challenge, since I cannot find any illustrations of this character. I love Mr. Scalzi's work, however his penchant for leaving things undescribed makes it difficult to cosplay his characters. In re-reading the series, I've come up with the following description for the CU CDF dress uniforms: blue.

All righty, then. I do have something to start with. I have designed a military patch for a uniform, and it will match a blue one pretty well. Since the planet Phoenix is pretty prominent in that 'verse, and since torches have long been a symbol on military uniforms, I decided to go with a phoenix-and-torch motif, with the body of the phoenix behind the torch in such a way that the head of the phoenix becomes the "flame" for the torch. I have it sketched out on graph paper now. I may scan it in later and post it here to see if folks like it.

I just need to come up with a plausible design for the actual uniform. Something military and dressy, but not too flashy, since she is Special Forces... and they don't like to advertise themselves. Oh, and green skin and cat's eyes. This will be my first foray into theatrical makeup! (*rubs hands together*) This oughta be interesting.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dragon*Con pictures

Dragon*Con was even bigger and better this year. We stayed at a hotel this time, but we did not stay at one of the convention hotels. Instead, we got one just a couple of blocks away. It was close enough to walk to (even in Atlanta) but far enough away that it was quiet. Well, for a city hotel room, at least. I'm a country girl. I'm used to hearing cicadas and frogs at night instead of car horns.

Anyhoo, we did get to go some of the later events for the first time this year. We attended the masquerade, which was hosted by some of the build team from Mythbusters. Such a hoot, and the costumes were great. We also attended the midnight Cruxshadows concert. They kicked off their last world tour at DC 06 and ended it with DC 07. Great to see. However, even with a late afternoon nap, and despite the entire wonderfulness of Cruxshadow's music, Li'l KT still turned into a pumpkin at 1 AM and fell asleep for a few minutes, just a few rows back from the mosh pit. Now, where is that ability when I have insomnia??????

We met some wonderful people all over the con, usually while we were queueing up for something. We also ran into some old friends. Remember the Beast Boy I ran into last year? We managed to find each other again, in the middle of a convention of nearly 50,000 people! I also got to meet his lovely fiancee and have a nice chat with them. The gentleman who was Nightwing was there as well. I was very happy to see that they remembered me, too. It was great. Mr. BB also dressed up as Jericho later on, but unfortunately I wasn't able to find him then, so I didn't get a picture! (Dag-nabbit! ) He's so good with his costumes that I wanted his opinion on my Speedy outfit, but unfortunately I had to get out of it before he could see it. Spandex, KT, Atlanta, and August just don't mix very well, and I had to change before I collapsed of heat exhaustion. NOTE TO SELF: Choose less modest costumes next time. Speedy was great in January (Chattanooga's January, not Canada's, mind you), but NOT Labor Day weekend! Granted, it was cooler than it had been, but I was also in a crowded space with a lot of 98.6 degree heaters. I sweated through the suede on my boots, it was so hot. The adhesive on my funkyfoam arrow crest gave up the ghost. At one point, I lost it in the dealer's room and had to backtrack to find it (after about 10,000 people had trampled it).

But it was great to see them all again. We'll see if we can find them again next year!


There are panels and concerts and events galore (not to mention shopping!) at Dragon*Con, but for me the very best part is to just find a perch in the Hyatt lobby and watch the costumes go by. Some are so professional that they look like they just stepped off a sound stage. Others are obviously home jobs (like mine) but still look great. Some are very obvious references to movies or books or video games (or even cross-genre items, like the Elvis Stormtrooper). Others just leave me scratching my head, wondering what they were thinking. But even then, it's good to see them having fun with what they have done. The mister managed to take pictures of just about everything, especially in the parade. I've managed to cull out the ones I really like. I might add more later as time permits.

Beast Boy, Part Deux:

Titans Together!

The same fellow also does some great Flash villains. Last year, he did the Trickster. This year, The Top:

My one and only picture of Speedy from this year... It's Speedy doing her Cousin Itt imitation. (I had no idea the mister was taking my picture then! But at least I finally got the gaiters done for the legs!)
Believe me, it takes some guts to walk through the streets of downtown Atlanta dressed like an Oscar Meyer WeinerWagon. I only got whistled at twice this time. It must be the bow. (For a better picture, please see the January 2007 archives.)

Princess Fiona, from Shrek

For you G.I. Joe fans (Yo Joe!)

"You just can't appreciate Elvis's music until you've heard it in the original Klingon" OR "He Thinks He's Elvis!"

Mario! Luigi!

The Diplomatic Contingent for the Predators:

The Batman from the 60's show. This guy looked great.

Someone actually came as the little guy from the Six Flags commercials.

For "FireFly" fans... someone decided to dress up as the ship itself...

The lovely Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura in the classic "Star Trek"

Biker Klingons!

The Green Lantern Corps was well-represented.

Another GL with Red Arrow

And it's just not a Con without The Princess Bride

More pictures can be found on my Shutterfly site at: KT's Shutterfly Site

Click on the link above, then click on the "View Pictures" button to view a slideshow of the pictures that the mister took. I will add more pictures as time allows.

Back from Dragon*Con!

Pictures and update coming soon!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dragon*Con is Coming!

Hello all,

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Work has kept me pretty busy lately. Hopefully I'll be able to get all of my "extracurricular" activities caught up over the next couple of days. And later this week... Dragon*Con! I've been waiting for this all year.

My costumes this year include the Raven OYL outfit that I wore last year and the Speedy that I wore to this year's Chattacon. I have made a couple of tweaks to each costume to improve the problems that each had. I fixed Raven's belt -- using FunkyFoam jewels instead of the felt ones that just fell off last year. The wonders of FunkyFoam never cease! I also made the gaiters for the boots for the Speedy outfit and fixed (hopefully) the problems with the quiver that made it fall apart (literally) as I walked in the door at ChattaCon.

So I have costumes for Saturday and Sunday. However, I didn't have anything for Friday! I wanted one comfortable day, but I also wanted something that would fit in with the con. So I whipped up a t-shirt design:

This is a tip of the hat to all of those athletic "Property Of" t-shirts out there. I remember that in one of my "Twilight Child" stories, Raven was wearing a "Property of Titans' Tower" sweatshirt that Bart made her wear. I thought it would be a scream to have one my own.

This task took several steps:

1. I created the lettering in WordArt.

2. I moved the lettering over to Paint, where I added the "T" symbol.

3. I exported it to PrintMaster. From here, I can tweak it and print it in mirror mode onto iron-on transfer paper.

I am laundering the new shirt now. Once it is dry, I can iron on the design. Then I'll be ready for Friday!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

"The Sagan Diaries"

Hello out there--

I just found a very interesting tidbit that I'd like to share. If any of you have read John Scalzi's "Old Man's War" series, you might be interested in this. There is a novella that takes place between "Ghost Brigades" and "The Last Colony" called "The Sagan Diaries". I think this had a limited print run, and I have been unable to find it in hard copy. However, Mr. Scalzi was kind enough to put together an audio version of this story. The links to the chapters are on his "Whatever" blog:

The Sagan Diaries

He did have a comment on there that he wanted a lot of people to listen to these, so I'm posting a link here.

If you haven't read "Old Man's War" yet, get your bad little self down to the bookstore and get a copy. It's a great science-fiction story about future colonization and the military that defends it: an army of retired people. It's very entertaining. It's a serious story with a lot of humor laced into it. I highly recommend it.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"He Thinks He's Elvis" Commissioned Art

The response to my latest story, "He Thinks He's Elvis", has been overwhelmingly positive. Thanks to everyone who has read the story and let me know how they felt about it.

I commissioned an illustration for this story my friend sweet-nymph on deviantArt, and it is complete and ready to share with the world. I think she did a wonderful job! Please take a look:

I think she brought Matt to life!

You can see more of her art at Sweet Nymph's deviantArt site . I'm very happy with the way it turned out and am thinking about commissioning more from her in the future.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Matt Logan Story Posted

Hello all,

I'm sorry I haven't checked in for a while. Work has kept me pretty busy. But the Matt Logan story has been posted!

He Thinks He's Elvis -

I hope you enjoy the story. I had a lot of fun writing it, but I must say that humor is even harder to write than action. And action is tough!

I am still working on "Dawn Child". Hopefully I will finish it before my niece is a great-grandmother.

Hearing rumors about a possible new Titans book. Right now, they are simply rumors, but oh! do I so hope that they are correct. I am excited about Mr. McKeever's upcoming Titans run, but I am going to sorely miss the "old school" Titans something fierce if we don't get another series. Cyborg desperately needs some panel time, as well as his amigos Raven and Gar.

I might get to go to the Heroes convention in Charlotte next month. Is anyone else in the Titans Fanficdom going to be there?

The weather is getting nice here. I've been able to work from home for a few days over the past couple of weeks, and it's been to nice to have lunch on the porch and have my cat snoring next to me as I work. I'll try again this week. I actually get MORE work done at home, since it's quiet. And I don't have to fool with that awful commute.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Various Items

Hello all,

Sorry. I just realized that it has been over a month since I have checked in here. GAH! So much to talk about: Matt Logan story, Teen Titans #45, DC's WWIII...

I will try to check in later today and get caught up.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rough Cut for Matt Logan story complete

Whew! I can't believe it. I have completed the rough cut of the long-promised Raven meets Matt Logan story. It is now in beta. I am hoping to have it posted by the end of March! It only took, what, a year? I'm excited to finally make some progress in my writing. Once that is done, I'm going to try to finish "Dawn Child". I'll keep everyone updated as things progress.

Teen Titans Writer Change
I am greeting this change with mixed emotions. I am sad, because Geoff is leaving the title. He's the one who started the BB/Rae relationship in the comics. Unfortunately, after all of the build-up, we never really got to see it unfold as a true relationship. I am also sad to lose Tony Daniel as the artist, who has really come into his own with the characters on the team.

At the same time, I was kind of excited. Geoff is spread rather thin over multiple books, and I don't think he had the time to give the Titans the kind of attention he would like to. I was looking forward to Mr. Beechen's take on some of my favorite characters. However, it looks like those characters are going to get moved off of the Titans, which makes me very sad indeed. Where will Raven and Cyborg go, if they are the ones to leave? Will Beast Boy have a chance of appearing somewhere in the DC universe soon (with or without the Doom Patrol)? I would hate to see these wonderfully crafted characters go off into limbo. I am hoping that we'll hear word of spinoff Titans title that will give them (and hopefully Beast Boy) a home. I haven't heard anything yet, so I'm not sure it will happen. It's just my hope. Only time will tell.

I'm willing to give the new writer a chance, to see what kinds of stories he has to tell and what new characters he might give us. Raven was new to me once, too. But if she's not around, I'll miss her. Having a mini is great, but it only lasts for a few months. I'd like to know she's going to have a permanent home.

What I'm Reading Now

I had the great fortune to meet Kevin J. Anderson at Chattacon this year. He is a prolific author of science fiction novels. If you've read any of the Dune prequels (which he co-authored with Brian Herbert) or some of the many Star Wars tie-in novels, you have probably read his work. He gave me an autographed copy of the first novel in his series Saga of the Seven Suns, Hidden Empire. I've been reading it as I've had time ever since the end of January. It's an epic of gargantuan porportions, with a large cast of characters. You get to make a lot of friends in this book. There's a lot of starships and politickin'.

Humans have spread out over space for the past two hundred years. A group that left the planet in 'generation ships' to see new worlds wandered the cosmos. A subset of them became 'space gypsies', known as the Roamers. They developed a culture and family structure all their own. Among many hidden businesses that they have, they mine gas giants for the raw materials to create stardrive fuel. They have a near-monopoly on the mining. (Political caveat number one -- one group has a monopoly on a basic item that everyone needs!)

Another group landed on the planet Theroc, where they found the worldforest. The worldforest is a group of sentient trees that have a constant telepathic link with every other worldtree in a kind of 'hive mind'. The humans learned that some of them could maintain telepathic links with the trees and that they could communicate with other humans on other worlds if they are trained to use the trees. They just take a potted tree with them! These special humans are known as 'green priests'. They are literally green-skinned, and their ordination is nicknamed 'taking the green'. The worldforest embues them with a special symbiant lifeform that turns their skin green and gives them some photosynthetic abilities. (Note to Titans fans, of course I start picturing Gar Logan when I think of these guys.) Once again, we have a monopoly: Therons are the only ones that have access to the tel-link and the worldforest. They are the sole source of the instantaneous communication needed by everyone else.

Then we have the rest of the humans, in the Hanseatic League! They need the resources provided by the other independently governed groups. There are always power plays between these groups, and that makes for an interesting read.

Aside from the humans, we have one alien race, the Ildirans. They found many of the generation ships as they wandered across space and gave them a helping hand. They gave us their stardrive capability so we could move around the galaxy at a more reasonable pace. The Ildirans have great technology, but they are slow to change. Humans quickly made improvements to their technology. The two races have an uneasy friendship between them, and the aliens' outside influence is just another part of the political mosaic of the book.

A human experiment on a gas giant planet has awakened a long-slumbering threat to all of the players in this game. Who will unite and who will divide to face this dire (and possibly empire-ending) menace?

If you're looking for some good science fiction and some good character studies, I highly recommend this book. I am about 3/4s of the way through it. Once I'm done, I do intend to go on to the next book in the series.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

ChattaCon 2007

ChattaCon 2007 was this weekend. The husband and I had a blast. We made some new friends and ran into some old friends that we hadn't seen in years.

The guests of honor were Robert J. Sawyer, author of Mindscan, and Kevin J. Anderson, co-author of the Dune prequels and author of the Saga of the Seven Suns series. I sat in on several of their panels, and they were a lot of fun to talk to. They were both kind enough to autograph some books for me. Mr. Anderson gave me a copy of the first story in the Saga series, and I am looking forward to reading it.

We completed the Speedy costume just in time to wear on Saturday. I got a lot of compliments on it, and several people took my picture as well. The costume itself wore quite well. The quiver, however, needs to go back to the drawing board for some re-engineering. It fell apart as soon as I walked in the door and soon found itself going back to the car. I'll have to figure that one out before the next Con! I was very proud that I had a blue "phantom zone" arrow in there as well.

Here are some snapshots of the completed costume:

I do realize that I'm not wearing the yellow gaiters/shinguards that Speedy normally wears. I ran out of time to make them. However, I do think that the boots still look pretty cool. Lots of people asked me where I was able to find red suede boots. They are hard to find! I got these at Nordstrom's in Atlanta.

The arrow crest on the uniform is made of FunkyFoam that comes pre-coated with adhesive. It had amazing staying power; it didn't move all day. When I came home, I was able to remove it without damaging the spandex. Wonderful! This allows me to re-use the unitard for other superhero costumes later.

A side shot with the bow. I wasn't sure if the bow would jive with the 'projectile weapons policy' of the con, so it didn't go in with me. I haven't shot in a while, so I'm not even sure I'm holding the bow correctly.

The costume itself is very comfortable. I wish Speedy had a belt, as it would have helped the overall look of the costume for this poor short-waisted lady. But I think it turned out well. I will definitely wear this one to DragonCon, even if I don't get the quiver figured out. I should have gaiters by then.

The next con for me will be the local FantaSciCon in March. Its theme is post-apocalyptic films (like "Mad Max"). I have no idea what I'm going to wear to this one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


My husband just created a blog to journal about his adventures with LEGOs. I bought the Mindstorm LEGO kit for him for Christmas, and he is having a blast playing with it. Basically, it is a set of robotic LEGOs. You can build small robots with them that contain a logic module that allows you to control them. If you like LEGO's, you might want to check it out. He also has links to other great LEGO sites:


I'll also put him in my list of links to the right.