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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WorldCon in Reno - Day 3

The late night and the blackout curtains in the hotel room did their work. I didn't wake up until almost 9:30 - and I had an event at 10! The hike through the sprawling hotel and the half mile of skywalk into the convention center seemed extra long. Made it in time and mostly put together.

My first event was the the BroadUniverse Rapidfire Reading. We had about twelve readers and a gracious hostess in Anne Wilkes. Each of us read for 4 minutes. As on Wednesday at the library I chose a bit of Song of the Beast to read - in honor of its re-release coming up in October. The first page of Song is one of my favorite of my openings. Ahh...poor Aidan.

I love BU RFRs - you get to hear bits of all sorts of speculative fiction, as you are introduced to published and unpublished women writers. Fantasy writer Elaine Isaak, as I've seen before, topped the day with an hilarious short piece exactly designed for four minutes. Don't miss Elaine at an RFR - and don't volunteer to be one of her heroes.

Fortunately, I had half an hour before my long reading to get a drink and catch my breath. There are lots of things in the writing life I don't do at all or don't do well - blog tours, tweeting, cold calling, keeping up with giveaways and such. But I adore reading aloud. I don't so much "act out" the story as shift my voice slightly between speakers. But I know all the emotion and subtle meanings that are lurking in my characters and I think I do a pretty good job bringing all that to the fore when I read.

Unless one is the guest of honor, con readings are most usually given a strict 30 minute time slot. Thus it is extremely rude for a reader to linger past time. I always sweat this, as I try to cram a sizable piece into my reading! And this was to be my inaugural reading from The Daemon Prism. So it was truly distressing when the reader who had the slot before mine lapsed 10 minutes into my slot. Even after I stepped into the back of the room, she continued, even at one time holding her pages in front of her face. I discovered later that she was the widow of one of my favorite writers, but she should ask for more time if she needs it. Some of the first things you learn as a neo-pro is to time your readings, respect other professionals, and respect the attendees, both those attending your session and others. OK, enough of my rant...

I did have a good-sized and appreciative audience - thank you all for that! (I'll be doing this same Daemon Prism reading at MileHiCon, World Fantasy, and Tuscon.) Used most of the following hour visiting with people I hadn't seen in a couple of years! Found out my friend and reader Corky had sold his first story to Fantasy Magazine - that is FINE!

There is nothing so good for one's humility than sharing an autographing with Robin Hobb, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Patty Briggs. I really, really appreciated my steady trickle of readers! I had been looking forward to a chance to meet Robin/Megan and talk with her a bit, but it was not to be. She was still signing when I hurried off to meet my good friend Diana Pharaoh Francis, paranormal romance writer turned Tor fantasy author Susan Krinard, and my agent Lucienne Diver for a drink and a discussion of the new world of e-publishing. Many literary agents are looking for ways to support their clients in the e-publishing as well as the print publishing sphere. It's always important to research agents carefully - and now that this new wrinkle is popping up, it's even more important. I feel very fortunate to have Lucienne as my agent.

After dinner, we sat over at the other con hotel shooting the breeze and watching the people wandering in and out of the masquerade. A short bus ride back and it was time to crash.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

WorldCon in Reno - Day 2

Thursday was my busiest day at the con - non-stop from 9am to 2am. I was scheduled for two panels, a kaffeeklatsch, my publisher's presentation, plus I wanted to attend two of my friends' debut readings, their book launch party, and a couple more parties where I might run into people I knew.

Well I ran into people I knew all day, as it happened. Writer friends, readers, convention acquaintances from Montana, Seattle, and other WorldCons. That's the part I love about conventions, running into all these people, when I used to know no one. Then I can introduce them to each other. Still a lot of folks I don't know. In the cafe at breakfast time were George RR Martin, Joe Haldeman, and Robert Silverberg. Well, I've been introduced, but...

The panels were interesting...
The first one was on how to make it as a full time writer. Interesting perspectives from a delightful Bud Sparhawk, Dean Wesley Smith, Christina York, and Tom Negrino, who writes mostly non-fiction. We concluded that there was a great deal of difference between those who have to support a family as a full time writer and those, like me, who graduate to being a full time writer after a decently paying day job. Also talked about how many writers find it either more stimulating or less stressful to intentionally pursue their day jobs, even when they could probably make it on writing alone. Full time writing is not always the glamor job aspiring writers imagine. But we all agreed writing was the best job in the world.

After a fine hour kaffeeklatsching with five questioning readers, I moderated a panel on creating non-human characters. We had a big audience, and it became clear that this was a huge topic, when one considered everything from enhanced humans (Kathleen Anne Goonan) to lizard or cyber intelligences (Robert Sawyer) to fantastic creatures (Martha Wells and me). Another panelist, Amy Thomson, stirred things up a bit speculating on why it is so hard to get stories with entirely non-human characters published. And we talked about the problems of getting readers to identify and sympathize with characters so entirely alien.

My friends Courtney Schafer and Brad Beaulieu did beautifully on their first WorldCon readings. Both have debut novels just out from Nightshade Books. Saw far too many books I want to read at the Ace/Roc "What's coming up?" presentation. Party-hopped with my agent, Lucienne Diver, best-bud/fine author Diana Pharaoh Francis, and friend Kendra from MisCon who was soaking in her first WorldCon. Mostly very hot and noisy, so after an hour or two, Di, Kendra, and I grabbed Sue Bolich and retreated to a quiet, smoke-free lounge area and talked and people-watched until about 1:30am. Now THAT is the best of convention life!
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

WorldCon in Reno - Day 1

Mostly travel today. A smooth trip - nice to travel west and get an extra hour. Got into the Atlantis "Casino Resort Hotel" about 2. Walked in the door and struck by the smoke. I am just not used to smoky venues anymore. As in all these places, the main floor is a smoky labyrinth of neon-lit money sinks. This is one vice that just does not tempt me, thank goodness. Really, I just don't get it. Dropped my stuff in the room and found my way over to teh convention center.

This venue is HUGE. Besides two of these casino hotels (we don't fill both of them up) the convention center is the size of an airport. It is "across the street" which means a 10-15 minute trek through casino, skywalk, and vasty hallways the length of runways. Got credentials and schedule and decided to explore a little. Immediately ran into two friends - TI Morganfield and Barb-Galler-Smith - which was nice considering the number of friends who canceled on me - you know who you are Brenda and Justin. Found program ops in case of any snags and the Green Room - a nice place for program participants to meet each other and get a snack or cuppa during the day. Hiked back to the hotel and got ready for my first event, which was...

...a reading at the public library across the street. Not too hot ffor the walk - yea! Heard Sharon Lee and Steve Miller reading, which was fun, and was gratified that everyone didn't leave. Several new people came in even though it was 5pm. I read from Song of the Beast in honor of its re-release coming in October.

Caught good friend and fine writer Sue Bolich before she caught the shuttle back to the other hotel and we had a great con dinner - just the two of us talking writing for three hours. How nice is that! At 9 we made our way upstairs to the party floor. I generally avoid the "sweaty cheese" events as they are always crowded and hot, but this was the "bid party" for the 2015 WorldCon for the city of Spokane. Just like the Democratic National Convention, the Olympics, and other large moveable gatherings, prospective WorldCon host cities must raise money, promote their venues, and get a vote from the relevant people (in this case the members of the convention) to get the bid. This has to happen several years out as it takes reams of planning and multitudinous volunteers to put on one of these. As it happens the party hostess for Spokane's bid was Patty Briggs - the NYT bestseller, fabulous writer, and altogether delightful person and I wanted to make sure to see her.

Yes, the room was hot and crowded, but it was fun to catch up with Patty and some MisCon friends. The SpoCon people and MisCon people are sort of joined at the hip (though Justin and Bob, my MisCon hosts weren't there, darn it). Stopped by the San Antonio in 2013 bid party on my way out. They had so much good-smelling food, it made me wish I hadn't eaten dinner. Much more than sweaty cheese and baby carrots. But I settled for a root beer (yeah, not even the hard stuff) and a nice conversation with one of the first people I ever met at a WorldCon - Deidre Saoirse Moen. (Another fine writer.) WorldCons really are like family reunions.

But by this time I was fried and tomorrow (actually today) I have to moderate two panels, so I hauled back to the room and spent a little thinking time before cashing in my chips for the night. More tomorrow...today...
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