My Inner Geek

Where I’m Going, Where I’ve Been

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(I should totally apologize to Joyce Carol Oates for that title.)

Hey! It’s been a crazy couple of months, which has made for a lonely little blog. But it’s been the good kind of crazy. The kind of crazy that comes with pictures to share.

Westercon

July started with a bang (ha) with a trip to San Diego for Westercon! While I’ve been to more than a couple comic conventions, I’d never been to a science fiction convention, so I didn’t really know what to expect. All I can say is, wow! What a cool experience! While most of the comic conventions I’ve been to focus on the latest pop culture experiences, Westercon was a convention about ideas. The panel topics varied from climate change to colonies on Mars. It was brainy and scientific and I absolutely loved it. One of the highlights was being on panels with William F. Nolan and Larry Niven. (!!!)  I also made some new author friends: Lisanne Norman, Fred Wiehe, Thomas Voorhies, and Jason V. Brock. Such a cool convention. If you get a chance to go next year (in Portland), definitely check it out.

Here are a couple of pics:

San Diego Comic-Con

Two days after Westercon ended, I turned around and headed back to San Diego for SDCC 2015.

Ahhh, SDCC. This year was magical to say the least. Not only were my books on display at the Random House booth:

But over the course of the con, I met Peter Capaldi, Guillermo del Toro, Tom Hiddleston, Greg Grunberg, and Curtis Armstrong. I also went to a bunch of NerdHQ panels, asked Zachary Levi to smolder, attended both Nerdist podcasts, played both Battlefront and Project Morpheus, and walked my feet off. It was amazing. Here are some pics:

Teen Lit Fest

The weekend after SDCC, I participated in Teen Lit Fest at the Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, AZ. I was just one of a dozen or so authors appearing at the event. I not only got to see a few of my friends in the AZ author community there (Tom Leveen, Bill Konigsberg, Amy Dominy, Brian Augustyn, Sara Francis-Fujimura, Mark Rude), I also made friends with new authors and chatted with a bunch of teen readers. It was a really fun event, one I hope to be invited back to in the future. Here are a couple of photos:

Payson Book Festival

And this last weekend, I traveled to northern Arizona to participate in the first ever Payson Book Festival! I shared a table with my friend and fellow author, Patricia Grady Cox, and we had a great time spending the day together up in the cool Payson pines. Here’s a pic of us at work:

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The Schrödinger Sessions: Science for Science Fiction Authors

This weekend I’ll be attending the Schrödinger Sessions at the Joint Quantum Institute a the University of Maryland. Holy guacamole, I’m getting a crash course in quantum mechanics! If I’m not too busy entangling my brain with quarks, I’m going to post some blog updates. We’ll see. If not, a full recap and pics when I get back.

WHILE YOU WERE GONE Book Launch!

To cap it all off, next Tuesday (August 4), my second novel, While You Were Gone, hits shelves! I’ll be having a couple of events in August to celebrate the launch. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for being on this journey with me!

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How Schrödinger’s Cat Renewed My Fascination With Science

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Nobel-prize winning quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger was born on August 12, 1887, which means he would have been 126 years old yesterday. The Interwebs celebrated by honoring his famous thought experiment, Schrödinger’s Cat.

Google got in on the fun, creating a Google doodle:

Photo courtesy Slate.com and Google.com  http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/08/12/schr_dinger_s_cat_google_doodle_what_is_the_story_behind_the_famous_feline.html
Photo courtesy Slate.com http://slate.me/13SQ8v9

And Twitter feeds filled up with cat-related tweets.

Schrödinger’s Cat has long been a fascination of mine. One of my favorite t-shirts says, “Schrödinger’s cat is dead” on the front, and “Schrödinger’s cat is not dead” on the back. When I wear it, a lot of people don’t get it, which means despite the Google doodle and Twitter mentions, there are people out there who don’t know what The Cat is all about. Well, I’m here to help out.

Readers, I give you Schrödinger’s Cat, presented by minutephysics:

I don’t remember now when I first learned about Schrödinger’s Cat, but when I did, it pretty much blew my mind. So it’s no surprise, really, that it plays a fun and significant role in my forthcoming novel, Now That You’re Here. But it would have been a surprise had you known me during my high school years.

While I never showed promise in math (probably due more to my deciding I wasn’t good at it than my actual potential), in eighth grade one of my favorite subjects was science. In 8th grade science class, we dissected frogs, studied how smoking affected the lungs and learned how hot dogs are made. (I never ate another hot dog again). My teacher was a way cool hippie lady who was excited about science and made learning fun.

Then I went to high school and everything changed. My science teachers were…well, mostly I think they were tired. And who can blame them, really. My husband taught high school for three years. In the evenings he would arrive home after a full day of teaching, loosen his tie and collapse on the floor. I’d nudge him sometime before the late shows came on and tell him to go to bed. He said teaching high school was like tap dancing all day long. So, on one level I can forgive my tired high school science teachers. But on another level, when I look back at those years, I’m really, really disappointed.

Somewhere between my freshman and senior years, I totally forgot that science is fun.

I read this NPR article yesterday: Why Aren’t More Girls Attracted to Physics, and it resonated with me. I don’t think they even taught physics (as a standalone subject at least) at my high school. I don’t recall there being any female science teachers. And, as I said, the teachers I did have didn’t inspire me to explore the subject beyond what was required for exams.

If I’d known then what (little) I do now about physics, I definitely would have been interested. If someone then had made a fun lesson out of Schrödinger’s Cat, I would have been hooked.

Sometimes I wonder where that could have taken me.

But, it’s never too late to start learning, right? I did learn about Schrödinger’s thought experiment, and that cat let my geeky side out of the bag (sorry, that was bad).  I’m making up for that earlier lack of interest in science. Now I love reading about string theory and the LHC, learning about sonarluminescence and contemplating parallel universes. I certainly don’t understand everything I read about quantum physics (ha, even the thought of that makes me laugh), but I love exploring the ideas presented  and  wondering about the possibilities.  I love that beside the novels on my bookshelf, there are books like these:

And perhaps most of all, I love that somehow along the way, I became a science fiction author.

So, happy birthday, Dr. Schrödinger. My hat is off to you, sir. Thank you for sharing your Cat with the world.

San Diego Comic-Com, Sunday

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Blissfully exhausted, Trish and I traipsed into Sunday, the final day of San Diego Comic-Con 2013.

We had chosen not to camp out in the Hall H line to see the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary panel. We’d heard there had been people lined up since early Saturday afternoon. Ugh! Had we decided line up, we wouldn’t have been able to attend the Nerdist Podcast with Matt Smith the night before. So we felt okay with our choice.

Still, there was a Doctor Who autograph lottery Sunday morning and we thought, Why not try? So we lined up at 6am for our shot. Made some friends with others in line and then when the time came, tried for a signing ticket.

The autograph lottery lines are a special kind of torture. Lining up for hours and then climbing numerous sets of stairs for a chance to stand in a smaller line where you get to reach into a bag in hopes of getting a ticket with a stamp on the back. It really is a gamble. Our first time through, we didn’t win. Our second time through, they were out of tickets. Sigh. Ah well. At least now we knew what the lottery was like. The experience made us all the more happier we’d been able to go the to Nerdist Poscast the night before. (Thanks, Star Dot Geek, for the ticket!)

We briefly considered bribing people for their bathroom passes in Hall H so we could slip into the Doctor Who panel, but instead we were distracted by John Barrowman. Had to stop for a hello and a photo. We also stopped by the Random House aisle, where I met some of the marketing team who will be working on the marketing plan for my books. SO exciting! They mentioned maybe me doing ARC signings at next year’s con. Here’s hoping!

Next we went upstairs and enjoyed the X-Men comics panel (one of the panelists was Paul Cornell!!) and Ben 10 panel, before scoring perfect seats for the Spotlight on Neil Gaiman panel.

I feel quite spoiled, getting to see Neil Gaiman twice in less than a month. And this time it was hosted by Jonathan Ross!

The panel was brilliant. Very relaxed and fun. Neil and Jonathan talked about everything from Neil’s hair to movie plans that Neil isn’t allowed to say anything about. One of the best panels we saw during the entire con.

After, we rushed over to the Sails Pavilion in hopes of catching the tail ends of a couple of author autograph sessions. SM Wheeler signed the ARC of Sea Change I’d won during the Tor panel at Phoenix Comicon. Very cool. And then we ran over to Patrick Rothfuss’ table.

They’d capped the line and wouldn’t let me in. I was sad. Very sad. I watched him signing books, and thought very sad thoughts. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Trish convinced the young guy guarding the line to let me in! Yay, Trish!! Thank you!!

I had a really wonderful chat with Patrick. He is a very kind and generous soul. I am so grateful for the chance to connect with him. Really meaningful moment. Thank you, Patrick.

We left the Sails Pavilion in a total Con fog, our geeky hearts full of joy. It had started raining, but that didn’t dampen our spirits at all. We boarded the trolley for Old Town and took a final pic of the Convention Center in all its glory.

We decided to have one last adventure to cap off the weekend, and did a ghost walk of Old Town San Diego. What a blast! We got to see the sights at night and learn the history of our hotel and surrounding area.

The morning after our first real night at the Cosmopolitan (Friday night), Trish and I had commented how noisy the night had been, how we’d heard footsteps outside our door. We didn’t think anything of it, though, until our ghost tour guide asked us if we’d heard them. We said yes and that we’d assumed it was our neighbors (though we always got home very late, around 2am) and the hotel was quiet. The guide said next time we heard the footsteps to look outside our door, there’d be no one there. Eeeeek.

Monday morning, we enjoyed scones on our porch outside our room, got in a taxi for the airport and said goodbye to another amazing adventurous weekend.

Thank you, San Diego Comic-Con for an incredible time. We’ll see you again next year!

San Diego Comic-Con, Saturday

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The last two days of Comic-Con were a blur, and now suddenly it’s Wednesday and I think maybe I slipped through a wormhole somewhere and have somehow woken up home again and maybe it was all a dream?

Like Friday, we had no specific plans for Saturday. We headed into the masses to see what the day would bring, and just like our previous days, we were pleasantly surprised. We mostly wandered the exhibit hall and saw the sights. Until I saw someone on Twitter was selling their tickets to the Nerdist Podcast that evening, at cost. We connected with the seller and got the tickets. What?!

Somehow, once again we were able to go to an event we hadn’t been able to get tickets to. So amazing how things kept working out!

We had a lovely Saturday wandering about, unexpectedly running into people and making new friends.

And then that night, we went to the Nerdist podcast and got to see Matt Smith — The Doctor — in person. Our seas were great: fifth row, center. The show started and then Matt loped out into stage (he’s like a big puppy) and soon I was overwhelmed with how bumbling-wonderful he is in real life. What a cool guy! And I know people gripe about his short hair, but I think he looks great. The only drawback to the whole evening was Matt Mira drank too much and interrupted a lot of Matt’s answers. *sigh* Ah well. I suppose they were just as excited as we were to see The Doctor.

I did a quick search but don’t see the podcast online yet. I’m sure it will be there soon. Then you, too, can hear how fun and adorable Matt Smith is.

Here are some photos from Saturday.

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San Diego Comic-Con, Friday

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San Diego Comic-con, day two, was just as epic as day one!

Trish and I didn’t have any concrete plans for Friday. And yet, everything had a way of turning out awesome.

We’re on the trolley now, headed into day three. So here’s a super quick recap and some pics.

We took on the exhibit hall first. Hit the BBCAmerica table. Hit the book aisles and got some freebies from Penguin. Met Holly Black and Scott Westerfield. Saw David Bradley and Mark Gatiss (again!). Went to the Marie Lu (Legend, Prodigy) panel. More exhibit hall. Ate some good food and drank coffee. Went to the late-night screening of The World’s End.

We saw The World’s End!!

I can’t believe we got in. We went down to the theater in hopes of catching a glimpse of the cast as they went inside. Instead we caught the whole film, with a welcome from Edgar Wright, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg! Also said hello to Bill Paxton. Crazy.

The movie is so fun! But also had poignant moments, one in particular that took my breath away. Such good writing!! They asked us not to give away spoilers, so *zips lips*. See it, though, when it opens August 23. It’s a blast.

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