So maybe you heard, I went to San Diego Comic Con. It was awesome.

The exhibition floor statues! The cosplay! The enthusiasm for everything I love!

But before I went, I was nervous. Really nervous. I was sure this event was going to maul me like a stampede of buffalos.

After all, this is an event known for mayhem, overwhelm and round-the-clock excitement. And I'm ... an extreme introvert.

Plus, I love a lot of geeky things, but am I geeky enough? In the week before the event, I developed an irrational fear of being pulled aside and quizzed by the geek police.

But it was great. I hope to go again sometime. And I learned a lot about how to get the most from the event. Thought I'd share a few tips:

  1. Forget Hall H

    In my opinion, don't throw your dedcation behind hitting Hall H your first time at Comic Con. Not only is that your entire day, it's also your day before. I definitely want to hit Hall H sometime, but first I wanted to get the lay of the land, and be free to chase something on a whim. Besides, I didn't bring my camping gear. (Yes that's right. Hall H requires camping.)

    Think of it this way: The major highlights of Hall H end up online. But that niche comics creator you worship? Her panel probably won't be.

  2. Walk the Gaslamp District

    Plan on some time to just people watch along this main strip directly across from the Conference Center. It's crowded and crazy, but it's amazing! Just like Times Square, but without the creepy off-brand Elmos.

  3. Go with what you love

    For all my fear of not having enough geek cred, several of my most exciting sessions had a ton of open seating. Talking about my heroes got blank stares from some of the other fans I talked to. You know what you love, so go with it. Forget FOMO--it doesn't matter if everyone else is in line for something "big" in the other wing.

  4. Bring snacks

    The food at Comic Con was fine, but at an event like this, every day is a big day. You'll save yourself a lot of money, time and likely some stomach cramps if you bring some of your own (healthier) munchies. I ate a huge breakfast at my hotel, grabbed lunch at Comic Con, snacked all day, and then caught a late dinner out in the city each night.

  5. Venture out

    Speaking of dinner in the city, I strongly recommend planning a little extra time to explore the area. San Diego's a cool city! The hubs and I were hoping to see La Jolla, but weren't able to find the time.

  6. Hit a party

    Typically, I opt out of evening activities at events like this as a critical survival measure. But the parties at Comic Con are designed to blow minds, and they truly deliver. I some some absolutely epic pictures from SyFy's incredible bash at the Children's Museum, and the Rave of Thrones sounded amazing too. I managed to weasle my way into a WETA indstury party. My head almost exploded, being so close to the business.

  7. Rest

    Sleep and downtime matter, especially for you introverts out there. When there is always something that sounds killer going on, at some point, you just have to listen to your body and say enough. Know when you're better off crashing, so you can enjoy the next day of events as much as the day before.

Have you been to San Diego Comic Con? Share your own tips in the comments!

 

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Comic-Con is here! Comic-Con is here! It's like Christmas, but the religion is your favorite fandom. And it's heeeeeeere.

I write this from the airport as I wait to be transported to San Diego, and not going to lie, I'm not sure if I'm more excited or intimidated. I've tried to get into San Diego Comic-Con for years, and now that I'm finally on my way, I hardly know what to do with myself.

Except cosplay. Obviously, when one Comic-Cons, one cosplays. (See a teaser of what I'm cosplaying as here.)

Beyond that, it's about all I can do to read up every newbie and 2017 guide, and hope that this event does not plow right over me and flatten me into the cement.

If you want to follow along from home (or are similarly cramming in preparation, like I am), here are the best resources I've found so far:

San Diego Comic Con: Your Complete Guide, Rolling Stone

A great look at the top anticipated highlights, broken down my franchise.

These Panels Will Bring Fans to Their Feet at SDCC 2017, Forbes

This article breaks down the major events by category, rather than company. Quite helpful. (And yes, Hall H is a category.)

Comic-Con 2017: You Don't Need a Badge for These 12 Fun Events, San Diego Tribune

If you want to hang out but couldn't snag a pass, this is the list for you.

Your Complete Guide to Comic-Con 2017, SDCC Blog

The official event's guide, with more links than you will ever be able to read.

Comic-Con 2017: 10 Things to Watch, San Diego Tribune

The hottest film and TV teasers at the show. Tough choices were made, but someone had to do it.

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Next week, I hop on a plane to the other coast and hit up San Diego Comic Con. For the first time ever. Hello, yes, long time fan, first time attendee.

I’ve heard the tales of those who have traversed to this grand event before me. I’ve done the roundups and tracked the round-the-clock coverage of the madhouse of sneak peeks and teaser promos and best panel moments. Even from afar, this event is overwhelming.

So please, give me your geek wisdom:

  • How does one get the most from SDCC?
  • How does one take care of oneself and avoid burnout?
  • What do you wish you’d known before going to your first SDCC?
  • And I’d especially love any tips you’ve got on attending as a Creative Professional—how do I get the most from it?

Share your wisdom! Enter below in the comments.

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Wonder Woman releases today!

As the raving reviews start pouring in, a wave of supplementary reading has released across the web too

To celebrate, I’ve rounded up some of my favorites.

Enjoy! And be sure to go see Wonder Woman this weekend!

Everything You Need to Know About Wonder Woman Before Seeing the Film

75 Years of World-Saving: Everything You Need to Know About Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman's Unwinnable War

With Wonder Woman, DC Comics Finally Gets It Right

Wonder Woman Saves the Day, Crushes Stereotypes

Reading Pathways to Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Saves the Day, Crushes Stereotypes

Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot and Chris Pine Role Reversal

Remember That Time When Wonder Woman Was A U.N. Ambassador?

Before Gal and After Lynda: All the Stars Who've Played Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman Day on Saturday Means Big Deals and Freebies!

Share your own favorite Wonder Woman article in the comments 🙂

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I always enjoy a peek into another author or reader’s list, and I was recently chatting up some comics recommendations on Twitter, so it felt like a nice time to draw out this conversation more and share my comic books pull list.

Personally, I love stories that go big, with a bent toward the strange and absurd. It’s just what comics to do best, in my opinion.

I am also a big believer that comics are for everyone—it’s not just capes and mutants! No matter what you enjoy, there is a comic for you--beyond superheroes, there is also a lot of action, thriller, romance, and even literary graphic work out there.

I’ve never gotten into the biggest superheroes in comics (though I’m a sucker for them on screen). This is in large part because the universes of these stories, particularly DC and Marvel heroes, tend to be so massive I, a) don’t know where to start, and, b) am not sure I want to get sucked in to that level. So I’ll pick up the major cape graphic novels, but otherwise, I stick to the fringes a bit more.

Here are my current favorites.

Saga, Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

A classic Romeo and Juliet story, taken into an alternate universe space opera, where the lovers get married, start a family, and must learn to survive on the run while being pursued by agents on both sides of an ongoing war.

Every single character is given depth and shades of gray, with an eye toward heavier topics like the cost of war.

Also, the MOST amazing alien illustrations. THE MOST.

The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn

The comic book is just different enough from the TV show to keep you on your toes, but similar enough that if you love one, you’ll love the other.

Sometimes horrifying and other times cheesy in a “What About Beaver” sort of way, this comic explores the brightest and darkest corners of human nature.

Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue Deconnick and Valentine De Landro

First of all, I want to BE Kelly Sue Deconnick. Seriously. Look her up. But girl-crush aside, Bitch Planet is a revolution.

In this world, noncompliant women are shipped off to a prison planet where they are safely confined and can’t disrupt a heavily patriarchal society. Speaking your mind and breaking out from the norm condemned as acts of rebellion. And if you pick it up by single issues, each one comes with a feminist essay in the back.

This comic has meant so much to fans that the NC (noncompliant) mark has become a popular tattoo, and it’s definitely on my own list for future inking.

Paper Girls, by Brian K. Vaughan (again), Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson

Set in the 1980s and following the adventures of four pre-teen girls who are breaking the glass ceiling as the first female newspaper deliverers, a simple world is quickly twisted around in an absurd and delightful time-travel adventure. Get ready to be confused. You know, in a good way.

Beyond this, the coloring and illustration of this story is just too cool. Check out these covers. Also, more cool monsters.

Concluding note: Just now realizing how Image Comics-heavy my reading is. Promise, no one paid me to write this.

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One of the big questions I wrestle with as I continue to write the Chronicles of the Third Realm Wars series is, where the hell are the gods?

Much like in our real world, Terath's gods can often seem distant and even apathetic in the face of great danger, horrors and tragedy. Do they just not care? Are they even paying attention?

These questions are woven throughout the books because they are constantly within me.

Maybe this is why, as I suddenly realized a few weeks ago, so many of the books I love also put questions about the gods and their engagement with our world front and center.

Over at Book Riot, I've compiled a list of them. If you love American Gods and its strange tale of a deity-level power shift, you'll get as much theological wrangling from these tales as I have.

Read the article here.

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Another BookRiot post up from yours truly.

This time, I'm talking about how I came to stop caring about reading the book before watching a screen adaptation of a story (sacrilege, I know!).

Here's a clip for you:

The more creative writing I do, and the more time I spend with other writers and creatives, the less high-minded I am about art and creativity in general.

I am less worried about holding onto that one new magical idea (they tend to come back to me, and I already have more than I can deal with); I am less concerned about making sure the words at the end of a chapter are utterly perfect (I’ll fix it in rewrites); and yeah, I’m a lot less precious about where and how I consume stories from the rest of the world.

Read the full article here.

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Rainy spring days don't have to be a drag. Curl up in your favorite chair, brew up some coffee, and voila, perfect reading day.

Over at Book Riot, I've created a collection of amazing science-fiction themed mugs for you.

Check it out!

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Our new President has continually behaved like a bully, and said horribly ignorant, sexist, racist things. As others follow his lead, our world is becoming increasingly hateful and scary.

It is time like this that I cling to my books and my writing the tightest—not just as comfort, but as a weapon.

In my latest Book Riot post, I list five graphic novels that would broaden Trump's understanding and empathy on key issues he struggles with. Check it out!

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[SPOILERS AHEAD. SHAMELESS, FULL-BODIED SPOILERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.]

You've probably heard by now, the movie Passengers held onto a secret in its promo trailers. And viewers are not responding well to it.

And this push back is for a good reason, as this plot secret makes one of the characters--Aurora, played by Jennifer Lawrence--follow a plot arc that seems designed for the convenience of the other character--Jim, played by Chris Pratt.

From a writing standpoint, this is just bad storytelling. Every character should have full agency. No character is a prop. Nothing should ever happen just because that’s how the writer wants the story to end.

But from a societal standpoint, there is an even more serious issue at hand. The issue of female characters being present for the convenience of the male characters. This is a widespread problem that fuels a mentality that women are present for the convenience of men in real life.

Ugh. It's just gross.

The truly grating part of this is that I am able to think of two very easy ways to solve this problem for the film.

I think this is worth talking about, because exploring how we create stories can help us create better stories. And science fiction and fantasy—movies in general—are in need of better stories these days.

So let’s talk solutions. And be warned--I’m not holding back at all here. If you have not seen the movie yet, severe spoilers ahead.

A Big Fat Spoiler

Before we dive into solutions, let's all start on what the big problem is.

So here is the secret in Passengers: Only one of them, Jim, wakes up by accident, as implied in the trailers. Aurora wakes up because Jim gets so desperate and lonely by himself after a year that he falls in love with her in her hibernation tube, digitally stalks her via the ship's digital records of its passengers, and then becomes so obsessed and so lonely that he finally decides to wake her up.

The loneliness in itself is understandable, in that it is so deeply human in its desperation.

The kicker is, of course, that in waking Aurora up, he dooms her to the same fate as himself--living out the rest of their life alone, with no one else, on the ship, never to see the planet they set out to reach, or reach any of the other plans they set out for themselves.

When Aurora finally finds out (due to a misunderstanding between Jim and an android ... just go with it), she is rightfully furious.

So what's the trouble? The plot bends so that she becomes okay with what has happened, and the conclusion of the film is that they have had this incredible private world all to themselves on the ship, and lived this epic love story, all by themselves.

I don't know a single love story that starts with one partner stealing the other's future. You?

Okay. So let's talk ways this plot could have been fixed.

Solution 1: Let Jim Die

There is a point in Passengers when Jim must go outside the ship and manually hold a guard door open while Aurora releases severe heat and flames into the atmosphere. You know, to keep the ship from exploding.

And for a moment, we think he really died. Because severe heat is not a thing humans do well. When he miraculously survives, this is the great turning point moment when Aurora forgives him for waking her up from hibernation and stealing her future from her.

He should have died. Scientifically, and also for the story’s best plot.

Prior to this moment, Aurora had been rightfully furious with Jim for waking her up from her hibernation, which robbed her of the life she had planned for herself.

But as Jim prepares for his heroic space walk, Aurora suddenly flips, realizing what it would mean to be left alone on this ship without him—total isolation for the rest of her life. The movie uses this moment to bring Aurora around to forgive Jim, putting her briefly in his shoes before he woke her up.

I really wish they had put her all the way in his shoes. Just kill Jim. Leave Aurora alone on the ship, angry and self-righteous, and see how long she makes it before she starts eyeing another hibernating passenger.

This is a darker ending, sure. But it says an awful lot about human nature, our need to connect, and how far we’ll go for our own survival.

Also, it’s just so Twilight Zone-y I can hardly handle it.

Solution 2: Gender Swap

Another way Passengers could have dodged the issue (at least the gender issue) is to simply switch the two characters’ genders.

First off, I’d love to see a mechanically adept, lower class woman save the ship, while a male, upper class writer does whatever she instructs him to as an assistant.

Given the gender politics in play, this turning of the tables does a number of good things for the plot all at once. It challenges gender stereotypes, empowers a female character, and turns the tables by making a male character victim of a female gaze.

Or hell, just switch one of their genders. Nothing wrong with that. Two female characters on screen in a movie with almost no other characters? Heck yes. Hollywood sorely needs to expand its definition of a romantic couple to include LGBT. Even a two-male cast would have been refreshing.

The one thing this solution does not do, is resolve the plotting issue of one character’s arc bending to serve the other’s. So this would be a less perfect solution than the first, but if you want to insist on a happy ending, it is still a hugely better way to tell the story.

Storytellers, Stop Taking the Easy Way

The solutions to these problems are often not so hard to come by. It just takes a bit of thinking.

And ya know, this thinking is really important. Movie creators need to be doing it. Authors need to be doing it. All creatives.

And all consumers of that art.

I can’t condemn Passengers the way some have. I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed the movie. I love the concept of being abandoned in space, and I love what Passengers did with it. I love that they are in an enclosed world that is supposed to offer technological solutions for essentially everything, and yet these solutions just keep failing them over and over. I even love the two characters (in part because I am a total sucker for both Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt).

But bending characters to serve a plot is like, I don't know, buying a pair of shoes, and then constructing your entire wardrobe around that pair of shoes. It’s just upside down. Create full, living characters. Then, listen to them. Let them tell you where the plot needs to go ... don't prescribe an ending and then force the pieces into the place!

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