So, day 3 begins! The con is going swimmingly: there are lots of people, everyone seems happy, the organizers feel it's going well, and I sold all my number ones! Even on Easter Sunday, people are still showing up!
Yesterday evening after panels were done, I chilled at the bar, worked on SPECTRAL IRON, struck up a conversation with a writer who saw me writing and had a lot of questions about getting back into the game. (Talk about doing the right thing putting you into the right places!), and still had time to catch the end of the Lee Presson and the Nails concert!
All in all Clockwork Alchemy appears to be a success. Here's hoping we do it again!
P.S. Almost forgot: at 2pm I will be on the panel for "Getting Past Chapter One" to help writers overcome their creative barriers!
SO! I survived the first day of Clockwork Alchemy, and only had to make one trek back to the house from the hotel to pick up something I forgot (something important - my frigging costume, not pictured because I wasn't wearing it). But the convention was great, and we had great talks on Worldbuilding with Madeline Holly-Rosing and Villains and Heroes with Sumiko Saulson and more, and the Author's Alley was delightful.
Most people seemed to think there were more people this year than last, possibly because (a) the hotel is cheaper and easier to stay in and (b) we continue our long slow slide back out of the pandemic. Certainly there were a good number of people at the morning panel, and even more for the afternoon panel.
And the hotel restaurant wasn't bad either! I got to spend some time with some friends in the evening nibbling away at some noshies before driving down to get my costume and some extra books. Oh, that's right - books ...I sold some! But don't worry, I have plenty more ...
Tomorrow I'll be at the following panels:
Science of Airships Saturday 11am – Synergy 5(2nd floor) Anthony Francis Steampunk is more than brown, boots, and buttons: our adventurers must travel the world in style! Learn about the science behind the leviathans of the skies. From how they stay up to how they crash down, explore how the physics of flight gives distinctive shapes to airships past, present and future!
Author Signings: Anthony Francis Saturday 4pm – Convene Lobby(2nd floor) Get your books signed by Anthony Francis.
Secret Hideout or Secret Lair? It’s All What You Do With It. Saturday 5pm – Synergy 5(2nd floor) Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney Sometimes it’s not obvious who is the hero and who is the villain. We have the traditional heroes, anti-heroes, villains we love to root for, and villains we love to hate. Then there are the redeemed villains and fallen heroes! It’s a slippery slope and a lot of fun to play with as an author and a reader.
Hope to see you all there!
Pictured: Various panels and events from Clockwork Alchemy
Hey folks, the Clockwork Alchemy steampunk convention is back, and in a new location, the San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport! I’ll have an author table there with all my Jeremiah Willstone books - the CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE and the Thinking Ink Press anthologies TWELVE HOURS LATER, THIRTY DAYS LATER and SOME TIME LATER, and much more, including the Dakota Frost urban fantasy series and my science fiction writing!
I will be at two author signings and four - count them, FOUR panels, including World Building, Who’s the Villain, Science of Airships, Secret Hideout or Secret Lair, and Getting Past Page One - hey, wait a minute, that is five, I counted them, FIVE panels! I may need a nap after all that. But not before I’ve signed a book or given a talk for you!
Time and Location:
Clockwork Alchemy 2023 Friday April 7 - Sunday April 9 San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport 1770 South Amphlett Blvd San Mateo, California 94402
And here's where you can find me:
World Building Friday 1pm - Synergy 5 (2nd floor) Anthony Francis, Madeleine Holly-Rosing Come and find out what's necessary to create a living, breathing world for your characters, whether you're writing a book or running an RPG.
From the Darkly Ironic to the Moody Byronic: Who’s the Villain Here? Friday 4pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Sumiko Saulson, Anthony Francis From the ghosts haunting Ebenezer Scrooge to Dr. Frankenstein’s childlike creature, Victorian horror embraced a new class of complicated, morally ambivalent heroes and villains such as Prince Prospero, Carmilla, and Dorian Gray. If Mr. Hyde is a part of Dr. Jekyll, who is really the villain here?
Science of Airships Saturday 11am - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Anthony Francis Steampunk is more than brown, boots, and buttons: our adventurers must travel the world in style! Learn about the science behind the leviathans of the skies. From how they stay up to how they crash down, explore how the physics of flight gives distinctive shapes to airships past, present and future!
Author Signings: Anthony Francis Saturday 4pm - Convene Lobby(2nd floor) Get your books signed by Anthony Francis.
Secret Hideout or Secret Lair? It's All What You Do With It. Saturday 5pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney Sometimes it's not obvious who is the hero and who is the villain. We have the traditional heroes, anti-heroes, villains we love to root for, and villains we love to hate. Then there are the redeemed villains and fallen heroes! It’s a slippery slope and a lot of fun to play with as an author and a reader.
Getting Past Chapter One Sunday 2pm - Synergy 5(2nd floor) Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Michael Tierney Why being perfect keeps you away from finishing your book.
Author Signings Sunday 3pm - Convene Lobby(2nd floor) Shelley Adina, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, David L. Drake, Katherine L. Morse, Michael Tierney, Belinda Sikes, Dover Whitecliff, Stephanie Clemens, Anthony Francis, Thena MacArthur, Sumiko Saulson Last call! Get your books signed by any of our authors at Clockwork Alchemy 2023.
Well, it's that time of year again ... 65,000 of my closest friends have gotten together in five hotels and two convention halls in Atlanta to celebrate all things science fiction!
My schedule is below. I worked right up to the start of the con, so am just now posting this two days later, but for the benefit of the time travelers in my audience, I'll include the first two panels:
8:30pm - Start Now, Research! - Hyatt Embassy EF How much research is enough? How much is too much? When do you stop doing research and start writing?
7:00pm - The People Who Live in Your Book - Hyatt Embassy EF Characters rise off the page and become people--if they're well-crafted. Discover ways to make this happen in your fiction.
10:00pm - Stories Needed: Get Yourself Invited into an Anthology - Hyatt Embassy EF There's an anthology being published that might just work for a story you have in mind. Or, when you hear about an anthology and KNOW you have a story for it, what do you do? Get some professional help from our pros.
10:00am - Writing About Star Trek - Hilton Galleria 2-3 There are thousands of worlds within Star Trek, and thousands of topics to talk about. Where do we start? Join a panel of published writers to discuss what's worth discussing in Trek books, articles and more
1:00pm - Where Do You Get Your Ideas? - Hyatt Embassy EF This is a question that every writer gets asked by everyone they know. What is the answer to that question?
2:30pm - Predicting the Future - Hyatt Embassy EF Where in the world is fiction headed? Do the old tropes still work? What's fresh and new for the future?
At each panel, I'll be giving away signed copies of the writing inspiration book Your Writing Matters by my friend Keiko O'Leary. This is the latest release from Thinking Ink Press, and we're very proud of it! No matter where you are on your writing journey, I think this book can probably help you, so come on by!
Well, we're back at a con at last! And as usual, I'm posting my schedule at the last minute. At least I got the chance to see some people I haven't seen in person for two full years!
And here is my schedule:
Title: Star Trek Essays Description: There are thousands of worlds within Star Trek, & thousands of topics to talk about. Where do we start? Join a panel of published writers & producers to discuss what's worth discussing in Trek essays, articles, & videos. Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Galleria 2-3 - Hilton (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists: Kyle Mackenzie Sullivan, R Alan Siler, Anthony Francis)
------------------- Title: Teaching Robots to Learn Description: When you tell a machine to learn, all bets are off on what it will learn to do. In this panel, we'll discuss techniques used today to teach robots to recognize objects, to grasp them, to navigate autonomously around people, & even to imagine the future. Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Atlanta - Sheraton (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis)
------------------- Title: To Series or to Stand-Alone? Description: Fantasy readers fall in love with the characters & worlds we build. How do you sustain the interest in a series--or would this idea work better as a stand-alone? Time: Sat 10:00 am Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis, Moderator: Nancy Knight, A. J. Hartley, J. Gregory Keyes, Seressia Glass, Dakota Krout)
------------------- Title: Author Signings: Time: Sun 01:00 pm Location: International Hall South 1-3 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists: Clay Gilbert, Patricia L. Briggs, Anthony Francis) ------------------- Title: Dead at the Keyboard Description: Panelists discuss strategies to combat writers' block, stress, fatigue, boredom, insecurity, & deadline anxiety. Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists:Moderator: Nancy Knight, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Anthony Francis, Peter David, Trisha J. Wooldridge)
------------------- Title: My Favorite Author, Book, Series, Character... Description: Authors discuss their favorites among their own works & offer insights into their favorites in other authors' writing. Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour) (Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis, Moderator: Bill Fawcett, Trisha J. Wooldridge, James R. Tuck)
Hope to see you there!
P.S. I have been drawing more or less every day, but I have also been moving, so you get a drawing another time.
We're the first panel, at 10am Saturday, and our panelists include:
Laurel Anne Hill [Moderator]
Laurel Anne Hill—author and former underground storage tank operator—grew up in San Francisco, with more dreams of adventure than good sense or money. Her close brushes with death, love of family, respect for honor and belief in a higher power continue to influence her writing and her life. She has authored two award-winning novels: The Engine Woman’s Light (Sand Hill Review Press), a gripping spirits-meet-steampunk, coming-of-age heroic journey, and Heroes Arise. Laurel’s published short stories and nonfiction pieces total over forty. She has served as a program participant at many science fiction/fantasy conventions, including the World Science Fiction Con and World Fantasy Con. She’s the Literary Stage Manager for the annual San Mateo County Fair, a speaker, writing contest judge, and editor. And she’s even engineered a steam locomotive. For more about her, go to http://www.laurelannehill.com.
Madeleine Holly-Rosing is the writer/creator of the award-winning Boston Metaphysical Society graphic novel series. Previously self-published, it is now published by Source Point Press. The series also includes the award winning prequel novel, A Storm of Secrets, and an anthology. After running eight successful crowdfunding campaigns, she published the book, Kickstarter for the Independent Creator. Other comic anthology projects include: The Scout (The 4th Monkey), The Sanctuary (The Edgar Allan Poe Chronicles), The Marriage Counselor (Cthulhu is Hard to Spell), The Glob (Night Wolf), The Infinity Tree (Menagerie: Declassified), and the upcoming, The Birth (Stan Yak Vampire Anthology).
Michael Tierney writes steampunk-laced alternative historical fiction stories from his Victorian home in Silicon Valley. After writing technical and scientific publications for many years, he turned his sights to more imaginative genres. Trained as a chemist, he brings an appreciation of both science and history to his stories. His latest novel is Mr. Darwin’s Dragon. Visit his blog at www.airshipflamel.com.
By day, Anthony Francis teaches robots to learn; by night he writes science fiction and draws comic books. Anthony’s best known for his Skindancer urban fantasy series of novels including the Epic eBook Award winner Frost Moon and its sequels Blood Rock and Liquid Fire, all following the misadventures of magical tattoo artist Dakota Frost trying to raise her weretiger daughter Cinnamon in Atlanta.
Anthony also writes the Jeremiah Willstone steampunk series, following a young female soldier in a world where women’s liberation happened a century early – and so, with twice as many brains working on hard problems, the Victorians invented rayguns and time travel. In addition to her debut novel Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine, Jeremiah appears in a dozen other stories, including “Steampunk Fairy Chick” in the UnCONventional anthology.
Anthony is co-editor of the anthology Doorways to Extra Time and a co-founder of Thinking Ink Press, publisher of the steampunk anthologies Twelve Hours Later, Thirty Days Later, and Some Time Later. He’s the artist of the webcomic fanu fiku and he’s co-author of the 24 Hour Comic Day Survival Guide. He’s participated in National Novel Writing Month and its related challenges over 20 times, recently cracking one million words written in Nano.
Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats, but his heart will always belong in Atlanta. To learn more about Dakota Frost, visit facebook.com/dakotafrost or dakotafrost.com; to learn more about Jeremiah Willstone, visit facebook.com/jeremiahwillstone; to learn more about Anthony and his appearances, visit his blog dresan.com.
I know it might be hard to believe, but I am not dead, despite 2020's best efforts! In fact, I am going to be at Virtual Dragon Con, participating in the Virtual Mentoring sessions!
2020 Dragon Con Writer's Track Virtual Mentoring Guests
We have 30 established authors and other publishing pros who've generously donated their time and expertise to host 15-minute, one-on-one mentoring sessions with aspiring authors. If you're signing up for an acquiring editor or publisher, you are welcome to pitch your completed book!
If you are meeting with an established author, the door is pretty wide open. You can ask about craft. If you're struggling with something specific, you can ask them about it. We have a number of indie authors, so if you're interested in self-publishing, you can pick their brains. Think about what you want to get out of this dedicated one-on-one session and choose your mentor accordingly.
So, who am I in all of this, if you're just encountering this link and haven't read my books or this blog?
Anthony Francis - Thinking Ink Press & Author
Session schedule: Friday - 4:30, 4:50, 5:10, 5:30
Secret origin: By day, Anthony Francis teaches robots to learn; by night, he writes the Dakota Frost urban fantasy series (FROST MOON, BLOOD ROCK and LIQUID FIRE) and the steampunk Jeremiah Willstone series (THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE). He's also an editor, and co-founded Thinking Ink Press.
Genres & expertise: I'm a science fiction, urban fantasy and steampunk author with experience in space travel, general physics, artificial intelligence, robotics, cognitive science, fictional magic and myth, and real and fictional military systems.
Acquisition wishlist: we're looking for fresh voices in science fiction accessible to new audiences. We've recently published YA military science fiction and humorous cyberpunk novels featuring LGBTQIA characters, and have also published a series of steampunk anthologies.
If you're interested in talking with me about writing science fiction, urban fantasy, or steampunk, or would like to talk about a new book proposal of interest to Thinking Ink Press, the signup sheet for sessions is here: https://form.jotform.com/202435857025050.
This is the first time we've done this virtually, but I've participated before in the live events (on the mentee end, rather than mentor :-D) and found it very valuable. So come on board, ask your questions, and help us make Virtual Dragon Con a success!
Virtual Dragon Con is already running - and I've been on two recorded panels already for the Writer's Track, though I don't know when they'll air yet, just figuring that out myself - but please go check it out and help the world have fun in the face of the zombie apocalypse!
So my author reading IS on tomorrow, though you can't search for it by name (my name appears in the panel description, but not in the panelists), it does show up on the list at 11:30 tomorrow (um, today, Saturday):
Reading Session: Anthony Francis Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Marietta - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis)
I'll be reading from a mixture of my fiction and nonfiction, urban fantasy and steampunk, published works and unpublished works, and maybe even a preview of the Jeremiah Willstone radio drama!
Or, since this got finalized on the schedule at the last minute, I might just be reading a book by myself in a quiet room. Either way, so full of win! :-D
P.S. It appears my author signing is still on the schedule, so I will also be appearing at 2:30 on Sunday:
Title: Author Signings
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: International Hall South 4-5 - Marriott (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis)
Woohoo, I made it! After what seems like a year and a day of foo, I am finally back at Dragon Con! I had a wonderful dinner with writer friends, wandered the show floor seeing all the great costumes on the moral equivalent of Preview Night, and had a nice cocktail in the hotel bar, where I apparently sold two Muggles on Doctor Who! (We also talked about the Three Stooges, Wayne's World, and bingewatching Agents of SHIELD).
My reading session this year is in theory Saturday at 11:30 in Marietta [Hyatt] though it for some reason hasn't shown up on the schedule (and they have an author signing listed for Sunday instead). Investigating. In the meantime, my schedule this year is moderate:
Social Media as an Effective Tool for Authors
Social Media is an author's best friend/worst enemy. This panel discusses how to maximize the benefits without the side effects.
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists:Moderator: Bill Fawcett, Anthony Francis, Tyra A Burton, Anya Martin, Trisha J. Wooldridge, James Nettles)
When Life Intrudes
Writers often seem impervious to their surroundings. But occasionally life throws us a problem we have to face head on. How do we manage career & crisis at the same time?
Time: Fri 10:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Holly Sullivan McClure, Katherine Kurtz, Nancy Knight, Anthony Francis)
Reading Session: Anthony Francis Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: Marietta - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Anthony Francis)Fightin' 'n' Writin'
How to write realistic fight scenes--whether utilizing guns, edged weapons, martial arts...or something not yet invented.
Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Embassy CD - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: John D. Ringo, Clay and Susan Griffith, Anthony Francis, Alison Sky Richards, R M Meluch)
Stitch & Witch
We are getting crafty for a bit. Feel free to bring projects to share or work on! While we explore the role that art, crafts, & hobbies play for characters & worlds.
Time: Sun 11:30 am Location: Embassy EF - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: Jody Lynn Nye, Anthony Francis)
Transformations: Shapeshifter Magic
Urban Fantasy features many types of shapeshifters. Our panel of authors will discuss the type of magic used by their characters & where their inspiration regarding it is rooted.
Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: Chastain 1-2 - Westin (Length: 1 Hour)
(Tentative Panelists: D.R. Perry, Tina Glasneck, Jennifer St. Giles, Aaron Crash, Anthony Francis)
"Robots in Montreal," eh? Sounds like the title of a Steven Moffat Doctor Who episode. But it's really ICRA 2019 - the IEEE Conference on Robotics and Automation, and, yes, there are quite a few robots!
My team presented our work on evolutionary learning of rewards for deep reinforcement learning, AutoRL, on Monday. In an hour or so, I'll be giving a keynote on "Systematizing Robot Navigation with AutoRL":
Keynote: Dr. Anthony Francis Systematizing Robot Navigation with AutoRL: Evolving Better Policies with Better Evaluation
Abstract: Rigorous scientific evaluation of robot control methods helps the field progress towards better solutions, but deploying methods on robots requires its own kind of rigor. A systematic approach to deployment can do more than just make robots safer, more reliable, and more debuggable; with appropriate machine learning support, it can also improve robot control algorithms themselves. In this talk, we describe our evolutionary reward learning framework AutoRL and our evaluation framework for navigation tasks, and show how improving evaluation of navigation systems can measurably improve the performance of both our evolutionary learner and the navigation policies that it produces. We hope that this starts a conversation about how robotic deployment and scientific advancement can become better mutually reinforcing partners.
Bio: Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. is a Senior Software Engineer at Google Brain Robotics specializing in reinforcement learning for robot navigation. Previously, he worked on emotional long-term memory for robot pets at Georgia Tech's PEPE robot pet project, on models of human memory for information retrieval at Enkia Corporation, and on large-scale metadata search and 3D object visualization at Google. He earned his B.S. (1991), M.S. (1996) and Ph.D. (2000) in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, along with a Certificate in Cognitive Science (1999). He and his colleagues won the ICRA 2018 Best Paper Award for Service Robotics for their paper "PRM-RL: Long-range Robotic Navigation Tasks by Combining Reinforcement Learning and Sampling-based Planning". He's the author of over a dozen peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on over a half-dozen patents. He's published over a dozen short stories and four novels, including the EPIC eBook Award-winning Frost Moon; his popular writing on robotics includes articles in the books Star Trek Psychology and Westworld Psychology. as well as a Google AI blog article titled Maybe your computer just needs a hug. He lives in San Jose with his wife and cats, but his heart will always belong in Atlanta. You can find out more about his writing at his website.