Guests of Honor and other Professional Guests

Guests of Honor

We are excited to announce the Author Guest of Honor for DemiCon 34 is Rachel Aukes and the Artist Guest of Honor is Carter Allen.

This year we are also honoring Cheshire Moon as Music Guests of Honor.

Mitch Thompson will be returning as Toastmaster.

Rachel Aukes

Rachel Aukes is the bestselling author of over thirty books (and many short stories), including 100 Days in Deadland, which made Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Year list. Her books have repeatedly been Amazon bestsellers and have been listed as a “recommended read” by USA Today. She was one of the first Wattpad Stars, with her stories having over eight million reads. She writes in several genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller, romance, and more. Her series includes Waymaker Wars, Space Troopers (cowritten with Jamie McFarlane), Flight of the Javelin, Fringe, Deadland Saga, Colliding Worlds, Guardians of the Seven Seals, and the nonfiction Tidy Guides. Her books have been touted, “The best science fiction I’ve read in a long while” by SF Reader. When not writing, Rachel can be found flying old airplanes with her husband and an incredibly spoiled dog over the Iowa countryside.

Carter Allen

Carter Allen is a comic book creator, writer, illustrator and graphic artist located in the Des Moines metro area, Iowa. He originally hails from North Dakota, but has called Iowa his home for more than a few years. He is the creator, artist, and writer of the independent comics Ectyron Against Lagaxtu, Ectyron: Rise of Nemehiss, Ectyron: Invasion from the Red Star Nebula, (all have been recently collected in Ectyron Omnibus Volume 1), The Adventures of Nikki Harris the Cybermation Witch, 252-Z, Atlanta, And The Sky Turned White…and the alien invasion saga Dub Trub for Warning Comics. He was the artist on the Candle Light Press OGN series Man Is Vox. With several decades of work and art styles (including watercolors,digital painting, charcoal and macaroni art) he aims to continue his off-kilter storytelling and comic creations. Carter is also a kaiju enthusiast, with several of his works featured in IDW’s Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. He likes to travel and collect fridge magnets of the places he visits with his wife.

Cheshire Moon

For the last 13 years, when the trickster gods in the universe have a confab, the house band they call is Cheshire Moon. Their brand of filk is fun, smart, bitingly funny in places, heartfelt, and entrancing to listen to. Part extraordinarily accomplished musicianship, part highly caffeinated sparkly, glittery whimsy, Lizzie Crowe and Eric Coleman quite literally are the show.

Lizzie has been singing since before she could talk, from Disney to the opera. Though she was not truly comfortable on stage until a certain tie dyed mad hatter with a guitar and an idea for a music project.

Eric has been playing music since he was a teenager, his love of music has carried him through all his life thanks to the eclectic and extensive taste of his family members and friends, including his theatre professor father, who took great delight in killing his child on stage.

Since both were wee small, they have tread the boards on stages in the bowels of the midwest. Trespassing on both the village green of tradition and good sense, music runs dancing through their veins and out into the world through the years separately, but when they found each other, creative world collided.

Their travels together have taken them across land and sea, starlight and faerie music echoing in their wake. Dulcet tones and dad jokes abound as they delight and inspire with the music, their wit, and their whimsy.

So come join them for a romp in the moonlit woods, playing tag with the things that go bump in the night. You’re it!

Toastmaster Mitch Thompson

Mitch Thompson is a complicated human. Not satisfied with just the one persona, he’s cultivated many. His steampunk moniker is Snap O’Grady, an intrepid yet bumbling photographer who is President of the BrassGears Adventurers Society. Snap has avoided bombs, traps, and planet shaking devices. He even defeated the dread invaders from Uranus by playing his ukulele. While Snap takes pictures, Mitch has been known to build cameras. And, they actually work.

Not satisfied with the BAS presidency alone, Mitch has been frequently spotted in the guise of President Teddy Roosevelt. At least once, he organized his minions to charge up Lower Cosgrovia Hill. It was deemed too far to drive to San Juan. Would you like a challenge coin commemorating that even? It can be arranged.

Mitch is known by many to be the Master of Robotic Parrots. Or, do they control him? That question has still to be answered. Pssst. I love you Cogsworth. When the uprising comes, remember that I never locked you in a box.

Mitch is also an amateur astronomer. Once again demonstrating his skill with lenses, he builds his own telescopes. It makes us wonder if maybe he should do something productive with his knowledge of lenses.

Mitch demonstrated his intelligence when he became Mr. Mary Thompson. With that move, he also became the father of Alex and James.

Mitch’s latest accomplishment is his ordination as a Dudist Priest. Want to get hitched? He’s your dude. Pay him in White Russians. All in all, Mitch has multiple personalities. I know him best as friend.

Inaugural DMSFFS Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients Amanda Arthur-Struss and Joe Struss

About the DMSFFS Lifetime Achievement Award

After DemiCon 33, the Board of DMSFFS recognized that our current rules and traditions do not include a way to extend special acknowledgement to those within our own ranks that have served selflessly, making significant, repeated contributions DMSFFS.

The vision for the Lifetime Achievement Award is to select recipients from the many individuals that are, or have been in the past, long time members of DMSFFS, without whose significant contributions over many years DMSFFS would not be what it is today. The award will not only recognize those contributions, but each award will help us to build a rich history to share with newer generations.

Nominations for the award should be submitted to the board by emailing The nomination should include:

  • The person(s) being nominated
  • Detailed information about the nominee(s) and their contributions to DMSFFS

Amanda Arthur-Struss and Joe Struss

The Board of Directors of the Des Moines Science Fiction & Fantasy Society, Inc. are proud to announce Amanda Arthur-Struss and Joe Struss as the inaugural recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Join us in honoring them at Opening Ceremonies on May 5, 2023 at DemiCon 34.

More information about their contributions is published on the DMSFFS website. We encourage you to take a minute to learn more by visiting

Programming during DemiCon 34

Mandi and Joe plan to share their stories of being connected to this organization for all these years during the convention. 

A little preview of Joe and Mandi’s favorite memories are:

  • Going on a viking raid with Joan Harrison, wife of Harry Harrison
  • Being given the opportunity to record twice Rusty Hevelin’s Collection
  • Spending time with Rusty Hevelin and Gay Haldeman
  • Anything Tadao
  • Favorite TICC Dance Choreography 
  • Creating House of Fogg
  • Green screen work with the McBrides, Tal Roth and Robert Uy as well as others
  • Editing/creating video art with each other
  • Performing with friends
  • Bobble Head Hide and Seek
  • Mandi dancing as Bugs Bunny with a very handsome Elmer Fudd aka Joe
  • Creating the Smooth song for the TICC Performance

Professional Guests

We have many local, regional, and national professionals that attend DemiCon. They contribute to many areas of the convention, such as the art show, the music venue, and programming.

Adam J. Whitlatch is the author of the novels The Weller, Fear of the Dark, War of the Worlds: Goliath, Birthright, and Vengeance for My Valentine, as well as dozens of short stories and poems spanning the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres.

A fantasy enthusiast from a young age, his interest in science fiction was first sparked at the age of ten when his father played the infamous 1938 Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio broadcast for him on an unusually snowy Halloween night. It’s a tradition Adam carries on to this day.

From 2012 to 2015, Adam worked as an associate editor for Minnesota- based small press KHP Publishers, Inc., managing their science fiction imprint, Retro Rocket Press.

Adam resides in southeast lowa with his wife and children.

Adam Stemple is an award-winning author, poet, and musician. Of his first novel, Singer of Souls, SFWA Grandmaster Anne McCaffrey said, “One of the best first novels I have ever read.” Of his later works, Hugo Award winning author Naomi Kritzer said, “No one writes bastard-son-of-a-bitch characters as brilliantly as Adam Stemple.”

Like most authors, his life experience is broad and odd. He spent twenty years on the road with a variety of bands playing for crowds of between 2 and 20,000 people. He started, ran, and sold a poker training site. He worked in a warehouse. He picked corn. He traded options and demoed houses. He drove pizzas for nine months in 1986, which for twenty- seven years was the longest he’d ever been employed. He drank too much and has now been sober for over fifteen years. He published his first book at the age of sixteen, “The Lullaby Songbook,” which he arranged the music for. His mother is a famous children’s book author. His children are artistic. His wife is a better person than him in nearly all regards.

Brandy Stark has been working with wire wrapping since 1995. Her first art show was in 1997 where she sold out. Since then, she has won numerous awards for her wire sculpture at a variety of venues.

Stark wraps, weaves, and ties metal into fantastic forms such as dragons, mermaids, and other mythical creations. She also adds upcycled items to each piece as a way to make a statement on our throwaway culture and to note that everything still has a purpose, even one that is different from its original design.

Brandy Stark has been a Paranormal investigator since 1997 and her team, the SPIRITS of St Petersburg, recently was listed as the longest running paranormal team in the Tampa Bay area in the book “Oldest Tampa Bay.”

Cath Schaff-Stump writes fantasy for children and adults. She writes funny stories, dark stories, and everything in between.

She is the author of the Klaereon Scroll series and the Abigail Rath Versus series. Cath lives and works in lowa. During the day, she teaches English at a local community college. More of her fiction has been published by Paper Golem Press, Daydreams Dandelion Press, and in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk. You can find her online at Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, @cathschaffstump, and Follow Cath’s Kindle Vella serial The Autumn Warrior and the Ice Sword.

Erin Casey (she/her) is an urban fantasy writer and author of The Purple Door District series. She’s a Founder of The Writers’ Rooms. An advocate for mental health, she openly talks about her journey with depression/anxiety/ADHD on her social media platforms in the hope of helping others. Visit to learn more.

Jan S. Gephardt is a science fiction novelist, fantasy artist, publisher, and longtime science fiction fan from Kansas City. Her “XK9” books feature a pack of uplifted police dogs. Look for her nationally-recognized paper sculpture in the Art Show. She and sister G. S. Norwood co-founded Weird Sisters Publishing LLC.

Jan has exhibited her fantasy artwork at sf conventions since 1981.

Since 2007 she’s developed a unique paper sculpture technique. Her artwork also has been featured in regionally-exhibited one-person shows, and juried into mainstream national exhibitions all over the United States. She’s a member and former officer of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA).

Lettie Prell often writes about the edge where humans and their technology are increasingly merging, although she has also explored justice-related themes, which stem from her long-standing career as a researcher in that field. Her short fiction has appeared in WIRED, Tordotcom, Clarkesworld, Analog, Apex and Martian Magazine, and reprinted in a number of anthologies, including The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy and The New Voices of Science Fiction. Her novella, Uploading Angela, was a finalist for the AnLab Readers’ Award. Her work has also been translated into several languages.

When Lettie is not writing, she can be found in kitchen or garden, or at her piano, where she is attempting to learn jazz. She is a good amateur photographer and a subpar chess player. A life-long Midwesterner, she currently lives in Des Moines.

Marjean Holden is an actress, stunt woman, and martial artist. She started acting from the age of 9. With her athletic abilities and martial arts, she entered in the world of motion pictures as an actress and stunt woman. Some of her stunt work was in Bulletproof (1996), Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) and Blade (1998).

The Microphone Misfitz can entertain you if that is what you came for, from music to dance to a party-good time. Now, if you want quality for your time then let the Fitz engage you in the arts & sciences of the 21st century’s preeminent culture. Based in Chicago, the Microphone Misfitz are more than a band or crew, creating music but using the pillars of HipHop (turntablism/DJing; MCing; breakin’; graffiti/street art; knowledge & overstanding) and their shared dynamics to enlighten and sustain their audiences and themselves.

Kin Solo, DFEX, and Jet Nam/ Jet9 are the choreography & movement artists; Ray of Light is the high-octane hype-man & MC; Mel L. is the Graff artist, vocalist, & road DJ; DJ Mar & Mike Knobel (aemka) are the production team; and D-Nick is the lead MC, lyricist & artistic director of the group. The Microphone Misfitz have toured worldwide from grassroots gatherings to South By Southwest; from Algeria to China and elsewhere; Sharing stages with luminaries such as Crucial Conflict, Black Star, KRS-ONE, Jeru tha Damaja, Saul Williams, Æsop Rock and more.

Focused on the themes of living for a healthier state of mind; and uplifting those who are trying to find their path in this world, the Fitz embody the acronym Healthy Independent People Helping Other People.

Des Moines artist Scott Ross is a Master costumer, sculptor, banjo player, and illustrator. A collector of robots, rayguns, teapots, and funny hats, he is a Renaissance Man without a Renaissance, an avid indoorsman, and arguably one of the finest minds of the 16th Century.

DemiCon Hall of Fame

At DemiCon 15 we wanted a way to extend special acknowledgement those who have helped make DemiCon what is today. The DemiCon Hall of Fame was created to recognize those particularly influential individuals.

Rusty “James” Hevelin

Rusty Hevelin

At DemiCon 15, Rusty Hevelin was our first inductee to DemiCon Hall of Fame. Rusty had started as our Fan Guest of Honor at DC 1, but somewhere before our first convention came around, he was named Toastmaster. From that day forth, he was our Toastmaster. When Rusty became a member of the DemiCon Hall of Fame, he was given the title of Toastmaster Emeritus, but he did not rest on his laurels and has been at every DemiCon until DC22 when health problems kept him away. Rusty passed away in 2011.

To learn more about Rusty, follow this link to the Hevelin Collection at the University of Iowa.

Joe and Gay Haldeman

Joe Haldeman and Gay Haldeman

Gay and Joe had an intricate part in growing the love of science fiction in those who created DemiCon when they were members of Science Fiction League of Iowa Students (which Joe created) and running ICON. Gay and Joe have been dubbed by those that were under their tutelage as the “Grandparents” of DemiCon.

Joe Haldeman is a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winning author. For his spectacular career in writing science fiction and fantasy, he was given the honor of SFWA Grand Master. Joe has been our Author GOH for DC 2 and DC 20 where the Haldemans were inducted into the DemiCon Hall of Fame.

Gay Haldeman was our Fan Guest of Honor at DC 2 and was a regular guest, besides Rusty Hevelins’ travel buddy through the many years. Mary Gay Potter Haldeman (a name familiar to those who read The Forever War) has a Master’s Degree in Spanish Literature and another in Linguistics. Joe and Gay are retired in Florida after many years of teaching at MIT . But, Joe is not the only one with an award or two. Gay shared a Skylark Award with Joe in 1996, and in 2011 was given the Big Heart Award at the World SF Convention in Reno, Nevada. Both Gay and Joe have thespian talents and have graced our stage as TICC performers, as well.

Glen Cook

Glen Cook

Glen was made a member at DemiCon 25. Glen Cook Author guest of honor for DemiCon 5, known for his stellar The Black Company military fantasy series and so much more, told DemiCon this: I was born and am still under foot. Hit the ground in NYC in 1944, lived there, Indiana, and California growing up. Served in the Navy, attended U of Missouri, worked for General Motors and retired therefrom. Began writing with intent to commit publication late 1960s and have since produced 51 published books (#51, Working God’s Mischief, will come out between now and the convention), some short fiction, some articles and some essays. I have three sons, an Army officer, an architect, and a symphony musician, plus numerous grandchildren, all but one of whom seem determined to be female. And I have an amazing wife who has been with me for almost 45 years. These days I am, extremely slowly, working on expanding the Black Company chronicles by two novels and a story collection. I have become a victim of Ambition Deficit Disorder, which is what has put the slow in slowly.

Glen has been at almost every DemiCon selling books to all who love the joy of reading. Signing his and making DemiCon even more special. Thanks Glen.

Carol Eis and Karen Eis

Carol Eis and Karen Eis

Carol and Karen Eis are the unsung heroes of the Art Show. Lovingly known to all as the Eis Sisters, these two showed up on a DemiCon of many years past to volunteer and stayed. Coming in to help behind the scenes for both show and auction, they make sure all runs smoothly. The Eis Sisters have even helped train some of our art show department heads on the little tricks of the trade. DemiCon is fortunate to have Carol and Karen as volunteers throughout the years.

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