Appearances

I’m findable at online readings, conventions, and open mics and available for more at the drop of a … microphone. Scroll down a bit if you’re hunting for this month’s open mics!

Most of this content will soon move to the blog as discussion of the whole topic of showing up for things! I’ve done a lot of appearances in 2022, but too busy to document outside the newsletter, so join the newsletter, already. This page is ‘under construction’ and will soon re-emerge in a more compact, accessible format, now that I have too many ‘hey look!’ moments to document here.

This weekend, I’m fully booked on the virtual side of Octocon, the Irish national SFF convention. I’ve attended for the past three years, and it’s gotten to be when I pop into a zoom room, I actually recognize half the people there. More on this coming soon!

In December 2021, I was extremely active behind the scenes at DisConIII, the World Science Fiction Convention, as a virtual volunteer. I hosted two kaffeeklatsches (which meant I got to hang out with C.L. Polk and Mary Soon Lee), zoom-managed a publishing workshop by Paper Angel Press’s managing editor, and managed three livestream panels on science-oriented topics plus one on story structures, and hosted both a reading session with two Japanese science-fiction authors (Yashima Yugen and Iori Kunsano) and a livestream on the Seiun Awards (the Japanese Nebulas) featuring authors, editors, and critics from the Japanese SFF community. These events were recorded in order for members to view them later, using their convention access, so there was an extra layer of responsibiity for us volunteers, to make sure panels went properly! Oh, the good old days, when your mistakes would be forgotten after the last panel of the convention!

My most recent live appearance was at the Strong Women/Strange Worlds Holiday Extravaganza on December 12th, which included a slew of activities in the week leading up to it. We had fun with readings, improv sessions, and a wacky version of the Dating Game. Videos should be up in a little bit, and I’ll add a link for that, then.

On Black Friday 2021, I joined Fairy Princess Lolly for her special holiday event, with a reading from “Parrish Blue.” My reading starts at about 53:45, but why not enjoy all the stories?

Octocon has posted videos of most of their panels on Twitch and will transition them to YouTube later. Check it out: we all had a grand time, and so can you! Be inspired by the optimism and forward thinking, as well as the good humor of the participants. Thank you, Octocon, for letting me play!

Isekai: Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Go Home Anymore?

On the anime track at Octocon 2021

Anime fan? Laugh at my errors as I learn about isekai from a streamer/producer who’s simultaneously running the show, a horrible goose (and isekai grandmaster), a Russian expert in crossworld escapes, plus an SFF author planning a new life as a villainess.

Featuring: Sakura Perez, Faranae, Ann Gry, and S.L. Dove Cooper

Global Optimistic Futures

On the science & technology track at Octocon

With all that’s happened, can you imagine a hopeful future? Take the leap with these forward-thinking authors, activists, and futurists. We’ve got a human rights activist, an international publisher and anthologist, the author of “A Short Hopeful Guide to Climate Change,” and an author with steampunk/solarpunk credits to brighten your perspectives.
Featuring: Oisín McGann, Janet O’Sullivan, Francesco Verso, and Fabio Fernandes

Orbital Tidy Towns Committee

On the comedy (?) track at Octocon

Well, I’m well-satisfied with this month’s committee meeting, though my former friend Sharon, that scheming, interfering, gossipy so-and-so, has some exciting news coming to her on a thrilling new job involving sharks in spacesuits. Take that, all you fictional bothersome former friends! Lookin’ forward to all the great improvements to our orbital community.
Completely outclassed by: James Brophy, MaryBrigid Turner, James Shields, Russell A. Smith, Dav Waldron, and Declan Meenagh

A Solar Panel: Building a Hopeful Future

Back on the science track at Octocon

We started out talking about powersats, but went far beyond that, looking into the complexities of our energy supply future across the world. What a fantastic group: a moderator who should have been a panelist, a researcher in systems science, a electricity grid modeller (like me!), an educator and writer with the power to reach the next generation, and this overeducated energy engineer.

Featuring: Máire Brophy, Oisín McGann, Noelle Jenda, Harun Šiljak

Below the open mic connection here, you’ll find video links (where available) and chat about my most recent appearances.

Welcome to Open Mic Night!

Open mic events are a great way to meet new authors, try out your own material, or just hang out with other people who love stories and poetry. You can take advantage of on-line and hybrid events and wander far without ever leaving the comforts of home. I host an open mic event once a month for the California Writers Club-SF Peninsula Branch and I’m also the “techie” for the twice-monthly open mics hosted by CWC South Bay Writers. Join us!

South Bay Writers

First Friday: 7:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Everyone gets 10 minutes to read an excerpt, a short story, a few poems, an essay, or memoir. It’s also OK to read a piece by a favorite author.

Please keep content “G-rated” – children are welcome to attend and participate at this open mic.

South Bay Writers

Third Friday: 7:30 PM (Pacific Time)

Everyone gets 10 minutes to read whatever they like. At this event, you may choose more adult content that may not be suitable for children. (Parents may attend with children with the understanding that some readings may contain profanity, sexual situations, violence, and other R-rated material.)

CWC-SF Peninsula

Fourth Tuesday: 7:00 PM (Pacific Time)

Depending on how many are attending, you may choose to read 5-8 minutes of your material. Works in progress or published works are welcome, in any genre or style. Keep in mind the audience may be mixed; read the room and be prepared to flex your selections if children are present.


In August, I was part of a wonderful reading program hosted by Strong Women, Strange Worlds, featuring science fiction, fantasy, and horror from women and non-binary authors. They meet twice a month, the show’s online, and there are opportunities to chat with the authors and enter giveaways! The programs will eventually be on YouTube, but for now, you click the image below to find the schedule and register for the next gathering.

Engage with these wonderful storytellers on Twitter: @_TerriBruce, @janecesther, @MGarnet_Author, @BespokeChaos, @AlmaAlexander, @teffeau. (Also, please follow me, too, @CometaryTales). You’ll find Kathryn Sullivan on the FB. And Anne Nydam? If you click the image, you will also be on her webpage!

A Zoom image array: heading of Strong Women, Strange Worlds in blues and purples, and nine women/nonbinary authors in their zoom boxes below.

This past summer, I took part in a special event celebrating the California Writers Club-SF Peninsula Branch and their partnership with the San Mateo County Fair. The club hosts a literary competition every year (except, alas, 2020), under the auspices of the California State Fair system. Anyone can participate, judging is blind, and excerpts of winning entries are displayed at the Fair. As part of the celebration, the club hosted an online reading from event participants. I read from my short story, “Coke Machine.” (Secret news: the story will be appearing from an unnamed publisher in early 2022!) You don’t need a time machine to enjoy the poetry, memoir, and storytelling of that afternoon–it’s available for all, online. If you want to jump right to the sci-fi, leap to the one-hour mark, to catch Doug Baird’s UFO story, right before my spaceship-engineer-in-deep-trouble story.


Another fun read was chatting with the inimitable Fairy Princess Lolly, the public face of Fae Productions, which in normal times produces fantastic in-person festival events. During Covid times, FPL expanded her online presence, including adding an Author Reads program. It was super-fun! I read from my published book and from the one I’m querying— Lidian’s Promise—and we talked and talked about writing ideas, characters, all the good stuff. Plus, we had TWO giveaways!

Remember to like and subscribe!

YouTube video from FaeProductions: Author Reads with Vanessa MacLaren-Wray

A screenshot showing a sand-dune scene with a blue sky, mostly hidden by the planned program of a BayCon mini-con, with Vanessa MacLaren-Wray and G. David Nordley at 12:45 pm, with Carrie Sessarego and Lilian Csernica presenting Romands in the time of COVID, Wanta Kurtcuand Bradford Lyau on A global approach to genre literature, Steve Libbey and Derek McCaw on Movie industry and streaming, Galen Dara, Cody Parcell, and Keliana on Cover art, Cory Doctorow and Howard Davidson on How do we survive social engineering, and M. Todd Gallowglas on In defense of Brevity in genre fiction.

I’m a regular participant at BayCon, our San Francisco Bay Area science fiction/fantasy convention. Usually, I get to take part in the science-y panels, because … I know stuff, I guess.

The BayCon crew launched a series of mini-cons to make up for having to cancel the convention last year and this year. The most-recent one had a technical track, so I had the opportunity to take part in a panel that I’d proposed for BayCon 2020! G. David Nordley and I discussed Who Is Going to Own Space?

With so many countries and private entities jumping into space activities, the topic has returned as to who has rights in space, what the constraints are, and where we may be falling behind in forming (and enforcing) international agreements. My launching point was how Elon Musk’s project to put up thousands satellites essentially gives him ownership of those orbits. We’re at 1:45 in the recording of the event. It’s a Zoom recording, so you need the passcode: v&L@oar7 and then the link.