Category: conventions

What I will be doing at Balticon

I will be at Balticon on Friday and Saturday. I’m not on programming, but I’m there mostly to hang out with my science fiction peeps.  I’ve read through their pocket program and selected some panels that I thought might be interesting to attend. Keep in mind that I might change my mind, especially if engrossed in conversation with someone, but here is how things are looking as of now:


  • 4pm: How to write a winning query letter
  • 7pm: Agents demystified
  • 8pm: Opening ceremonies


  • 10:30am: Michael J. Sullivan reading
  • 11am: Vincent Di Fate presentation
  • 1pm: Whose is it, anyway?
  • 2pm: Living in the Golden Age
  • 3pm: Name-droppers
  • 4pm: The rise of geek music
  • 5pm: On the shoulders of giants
  • 7pm: Great forgotten science fiction authors
  • 9pm: Concert: John Anealio

I’ll be arriving mid-afternoon on Friday. If you are looking for me, I’ll be keeping my eye on twitter, so just message me: @jamietr.

Nebula Weekend 2011, Day 3

Well, the Nebula Weekend is over for me now, but I still had a blast at the various events this morning.

I arrived at the hotel at about 9:30 and ran into Allen Steele and (the Nebula Award-winning) Eric James Stone and chatted with them for a little while. Then I grabbed a quick breakfast before heading down to the Jefferson room to see the panel on the Old and the New. I got a front-row-center seat for this one. The panelists consisted of Jack McDevitt, who moderated, Joe Haldeman, N. K. Jemisin, Christopher Kastensmidt, and Michael J. Sullivan.


It was a really interesting discussion of the old ways and news way of the business from both a writer’s perspective and a reader’s perspective and Jack did a great job of moderating. After the panel was over I chatted for a little while with Gay Haldeman and then headed off for lunch with Michael Sullivan, his wife Robin, and Andrew Fox.

I returned to the hotel to say goodbye to a few people and spend a little while chatting with Bill Lawhorn in the lobby. We talked cons, including Balticon and Capclave. I’ll be up at Balticon for a few days next weekend, so the good feelings will continue.

Nebula Weekend, Day 2, Part 2: The Awards

By now, the whole world knows who won the Nebula Awards. But just in case you’ve been under a rock somewhere, the winners were:

  • Short story: “Ponies” by Kij Johnson and “How Interesting, A Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison (TIE)
  • Novelette: “That Leviathan Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone
  • Novella: “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky
  • Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
  • Bradbury Award went to Inception
  • Andre Norton Award went to I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
  • Service to SFWA Award went to John E. Johnston, III
  • Solstice Awards went to Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree, Jr. and Michael Whelan

Our table had an award winner. Michael Whelan and his wife sat with us and that was a little bit overwhelming. Kelly and Michael’s wife hit it off and talked about pregnancy and babies and kids the whole time. But I can remember spending my hard earned coin in college on The Art of Michael Whelan and it was disconcerting to think that now I was sitting a table having dinner with him. Also at our table was Mike Zipser and his wife, the latter being the one who put the whole banquet together. Ellen Asher was also at our table.

When we got to the hotel the cocktail hour had just started. We saw Steven Silver in his tuxedo, and I proceeded to introduce Kelly to various people. I introduced her first to Scott Edelman because I’m not sure Scott really believed she existed. Gordon van Gelder was with Scott when so both Kelly and I got to meet him as well. We saw Alethea Kontis, and Mary Robinette Kowal. I introduced her to Allen Steele and while we were chatting Geoffrey Landis joined us. I knew who he was but he didn’t know me. It was great to meet him and the four of us stood around talking until they opened the doors for dinner.

It was a surreal experience, truly, and I wasn’t even up for an award. I can only imagine what it was like for the nominees and winners. After we were seated (a great table, close to the action with a good view) Connie Willis and her husband came up to say hello. I spent several hours in the Capclave bar talking with Connie’s husband and it was nice of them to come by and say hello. I introduced them to Kelly and wished Connie good luck. (Clearly, she didn’t need it.) Just seeing all the people at the surrounding tables: Joe and Gay Haldeman, Jack McDevitt, Stan Schmidt, Gardner Dozois, so many luminaries, it was hard to believe that I was actually there, despite the fact that I was actually there.

Michael Swanwick did a great job as toastmaster. The speeches by the various honorees and winners were all great. And two of the pieces for which I voted, including Connie’s book, won Nebulas. I think Kelly thought it was “interesting”, but for me it was spectacular.

And it’s not quite over, either. I’ll be back tomorrow morning to attend the last of the programming and say goodbye to people. Fortunately, I’ll have Balticon to attend next weekend to help keep the motivational juices flowing.

Nebula Weekend 2011, Day 2, Part 1

Today started earlier than yesterday. I had the crazy notion to attend the 10am SFWA Business Meeting, simply because I’d never attended one before and I wanted to see what they are like. I’m glad I did. In addition to getting to hear all kinds of promising updates about the organization, I got to meet John Scalzi in person finally. John is recently a New York Times bestseller, and when I introduced myself to him, he said, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen your blog.” Well, that was pretty cool! I sat just in front of Joe and Gay Haldeman and chatted briefly with both of them.

After the SFWA meeting (for which there was some yummy food), I stuck around for the Reading Aloud 101 presentation by the talented writer, puppeteer, voice actor, and vice president of SFWA, Mary Robinette Kowal. This was a terrific presentation. I learned a lot, took a lot of notes, and the little “activities” she had us do were excellent illustrations of how you can change your voice. There was a lot of good information in this presentation and if you ever have the opportunity to attend one of Mary’s presentations on this subject, I highly recommend it.

I grabbed a quick lunch afterward and then headed to the workshop I’d signed up for, Improving Your Website. Others attending were folks like my friend, best-selling e-book author, and fellow Arlington Writer’s Group member, Michael J. Sullivan. Also, Lawrence Watt-Evans, John Kessel and Michael Whelan. It was scheduled for 3 hours, but to be honest, it wasn’t what I expected. I’d gotten the impression from the survey we had to fill out that they’d been looking at our sites and telling us how we could improve. But all of the advice they offered was stuff that I’ve already done. I ended up sneaking out early, right around 3pm. I decided to head back home and get some rest before the big reception, dinner, and award banquet this evening.

We have a babysitter and Kelly will be joining me for the dinner and award ceremony, so it’s also a kind of date-night. We should be back at the hotel around 6:30 or so, all dressed up and looking our best. I’m very excited about this evening. I’ll try to take lots of pictures and report later tonight on what went on. By then, of course, you’ll already know who the winners are.

More later. (ETA: And here’s more!)

Nebula Weekend 2011, Day 1, Part 2

I had so much fun at the first day of the Nebula Weekend. Let’s see, where did I leave off yesterday…?

Around 3pm I went to one of the hotel bars where people were hanging out. A short time later, I saw Stan Schmidt, editor of Analog walking by and he eventually joined me. We drank beer and talked science fiction. I told him how excited I was to see my story appear in Analog and he told me he’d heard good things about it. He then proceded to ask if I was sending him something soon. So I summoned enough nerve to do what my friend Michael Burstein suggested, which was to pitch an idea to Stan. I won’t tell you the idea, but I will tell you that Stan liked it, said it was good, and agreed that it sounded like a series of stories, not just one. He urged me to write it and send it to him right away. “You have some time,” he joked, “because I won’t be back in the office until Tuesday.” That was all I needed to hear. I am once again jazzed about writing and am going to do my best to make this a fantastic story.

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Nebula Weekend 2011, Day 1, Part 1

I left the house at 10am and made my long trek to the Nebula Weekend hotel. Okay, it wasn’t such a long trek. I drove to my office in Pentagon City and caught the Metro the rest of the way. Made it to the hotel just before 11am. Right away, I saw Steven Silver at the registration desk. I checked in, got my badge and my bag of goodies. And what a bag it is! Filled with books and magazines. And heavy, too. I found out at which table Kelly and I will be sitting tomorrow night. (And I did not check in for Kelly because I didn’t want to lug around two large bags of books.)

I was a little worried that I might not see anyone else that I knew or recognize (or had the guts to approach), but no sooner had I scoped out the lobby than did I see Eric James Stone and his recursive t-shirt. For my non-SF friends, Eric is a Hugo and Nebula nominated science fiction writer, an assistant editor of InterGalactic Medicine Show (where my first published story appeared), and helps to run the Codex Writer’s Group of which I am a member. We chatted for quite a while, and then I saw Allen Steele wander by and we pulled him into our little conversation. Shortly after that we ran into Alethea Kontis and Mary Rodgers, more fellow Codexians to say nothing of fine writers. And then we ran into Lawrence Schoen.

Rather than go to the hotel restaurant for lunch, I headed up to the con suite and had a sandwich there, and chatted with several people before heading back down to the hotel lobby.

I ended up checking my backpack and goodie bag with the bell captain because it was too much to lug around. I retrieved the former so that I could charge up my phone and do some writing while waiting for the next big event. Yes, writing. Between a conversation I had with Juliette Wade this morning, and being here among all of these fantastic writers, I am getting re-energized and am closer to really start writing again in earnest.

Later on this afternoon there’s the mass book signing, and some other fun events. Plus, its just fun getting to hand out with this cream of the crop here. I am so lucky!

And since I’ve been sitting here, I’ve seen folks like Gardner Dozois, John Kessel and Micahel Swanwick walk by. Whoa!

Continue onto Day 1, Part 2.

What I’ll be doing at the Nebula Weekend

Today is the first full day of the Nebula Weekend. For my non-science fiction friends, the Nebula Awards are science fiction & fantasy’s equivalent of the Academy Awards. They are the awards that are voted on by your peers, the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. This was the first year that I was a full active member and could vote for the works and so I’m particularly excited about attending.

The award weekend is being held in Washington, D. C. this year and as I live in Falls Church, VA, it’s just a short metro ride to all of the festivities. I’ve been watching on Twitter and Facebook as a ton of people arrive in town and I’m getting anxious to head downtown to see them. There are lots of tours of various DC attractions happening this weekend, but I won’t be doing those since I live here and have done them all a million and a half times. It is kind of strange to remember that most people attending don’t live here and many of them may never have been to Washington, D. C. before.

I am most looking forward just to getting to hang out with other writers, some of whom I have admired for a very long time. In addition, there will be many people in town who I know from online groups like the Codex Writers Group, but whom I have never met in person. It will be fun to get to meet them in the flesh.

Here’s some other things I’ll be doing at the Nebula Weekend:

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Some upcoming appearances

I can’t seem to find a good “Events” plug-in (at least one that I like) for WordPress, so in the meantime, here are some upcoming appearances I’ll be making over the next several months.

Nebula Award Weekend (May 19-22)

Even if I didn’t live just outside of D.C. I would go anyway. I’ve never been to a Nebula weekend and I’ve wanted to go. Good chance to meet a lot people I’ve never met before, to say nothing of those people who I have met but rarely get to see. Don’t know what I’ll be doing there yet (if anything) but I’ll be there everyday and I will be there for the banquet dinner (along with a 6-month pregnant Kelly).

Balticon (May 27-29)

I’m not on programming but I’ll be there, hanging out, sitting in on various discussions and chatting with folks. I’ll probably be there Friday and Saturday but not on Sunday.

Readercon 22 (July 14-17)

This is the first convention at which I am officially on programming. I don’t know my schedule yet but I’ve proposed at least one discussion panel to the programming committee that I hope gets selected. I’ll be there for the entire event as this is my favorite of all the conventions I’ve been to. When I have more details about my programming, I’ll post it.

I was hoping to get to World Con this year, but it takes place right around the Sibling-To-Be-Named-Later is due and that makes it a less than optimal time. And since I doubt they’d change the convention dates to suit my schedule, I’ll probably miss it this year, but I plan on attending the next WorldCon in Chicago.

Anyone else attending any of these three conventions?

Tenetative convention schedule for 2011

As I mentioned in my previous post, here is my tentative convention schedule for 2011. Obviously this can change, but this is where I am planning on being:

I still have yet to attend either a WorldCon or a World Fantasy Convention but the timing for each of these doesn’t work for me this year. I do plan on being at Chicon in 2012. I am also going to try to make it to the SFWA Author & Editors reception again in 2011, if I can manage it.

Capclave 2010

I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday at Capclave, the local science fiction convention put on by the Washington Science Fiction Association.  I like Capclave because it centers around short fiction, which is what I write, and avoids media-related science fiction and fantasy.  I had a lot of fun at Capclave.  What follows is my summary of the convention.

Most of Friday night was for networking and catching up with people I know.  I saw Larry Hodges there, and also met James Maxey for the first time.  The three of us spent some time talking shop before heading off to Larry’s reading.  He read 3 pieces of flash fiction, after which the three of us retired to the bar for the rest of the evening.

On Saturday, I started off my day at the convention by attending 4 straight panels.  The first of these was “The Mule, Muad’dib, and Men Who Stare at Goats”.  The panel was described as imaging whether or not there could be superhumans.  I went into thinking there would be discussion of those “superhumans” mentioned in the title, but as it turned out, this was mostly a nonsense panel with the participants discussing things like ESP, telekensis, and other pseudoscience as if it actually existed. There were even claims of scientific evidence for such phenomenon and I was rather disappointed that seemingly intelligent people would discuss these topics with the level of irrationality at which it was conducted.  There was one panelist, however, Sam Scheiner, who was the voice of reason on the panel, correcting panelist about what the job of science was in the first place, and correcting the audience when one of our member was confused about how evolution worked.

The next panel, on ePublishing, was far more interesting and far more relevant to both writer and fan alike.  The panel was made of participants, each of whom had experience in ePublishing in different ways.  There was good discussion of many of the aspects of ePublishing, but one area that was missing was that of the aesthetics of eBooks.  Since this is something I have complained about before, I brought it up in the discussion.  Neil Clarke responded to this, seemed to understand the problem well and was sympathetic.

Next was Connie Willis, the guest of honor, who was supposed to read from her lastest novel All Clear.  However, when she got started, she said that she wouldn’t read from the novel since it was finally available and she didn’t want to spoil it (or Blackout) for those who haven’t read it yet.  Instead, she gave a delightful talk on the things that she found in her research that she could not put into the novel.  It was the first time I’d ever seen Connie Willis talk and she is a delightful and even more, a funny speaker.  She told many stories of the Brits from the Blitz.  She also talked about the novel she is writing next, a romantic comedy about alien abduction and Las Vegas, centering around Roswell.

Finally, there was a panel on World Building; Planning and Execution.  It was an interesting panel that never really got into the “planning and execution” phase and ended up being focused on other aspects of world-building in various types of genre fiction.

After a break (where I worked feverishly on the outline for my novel) I attended the interview with Connie Willis and she was utterly charming in that interview.

When it was over, I headed to the hotel lounge to get some food.  As it turned out, Connie Willis entered the lounge shortly after and sat down with several people at the next table.  Her husband, Courtney, who I’d met briefly in the bar earlier ended up sitting with me and over the course of the next 2 hours, we had a delightful conversation.

My final event of the convention was the book-signing.  Since I own both Blackout and All Clear on the Kindle, there was no way that I could get those books signed by Connie Willis.  So I brought my Easton Press edition of Doomsday Book put out by the Masterpieces of Science Fiction collection and that is the book that Connie signed for me.

The convention was a lot of fun for me, and I was thrilled to get to meet Connie Willis in person.  The next event I’ll be attending is the SFWA annual reception in New York City on November 22.

Readercon 21: Friday

Today was the first full day of Readercon, and I did my best to get in a full day.  One of the things they are doing this year is a series of Theodore Sturgeon readings.  The first one today was at 11 am and Sturgeon’s story “It’s Nothing Really” was read by Scott Edelman.  I got to meet Sturgeon’s daughter, Noel Sturgeon, who was delightful and Scott did a great reading of a story that I’d never read before.  Here is Scott reading from the story:

Scott Edelman reads Sturgeon's "It's Nothing Really"

The first panel I attended was on the “Scientific Mystery” at noon.  Panelists included Allen Steele,Jack McDevitt, Don D’Ammassa, and David Swanger and they talked about the challenges (and examples) of stories that are scientific mysteries. Good discussion.

The Scientific Mystery panel

At 1pm (in the same room) I attended a panel on “Order–and Chapters–of Magnitude”.  Included on the panel was Robert Killheffer, David Swanger, Ellen Asher, Paul Di Filippo, and Charles Stross.  Just before the panel started, Paul graciously signed my premier copy of Science Fiction Age in which his great alternate history, “Anne” appears.  This panel talked about fiction in which large magnitudes of time (sometimes trillions of year) pass and how a human perspective can be brought to such stories. Lots of stories were mentioned but I was surprised no one brought up Asimov’s “The Last Question” until David Swanger finally did just before the end of the panel.

Orders--and chapters--of magnitude panel

From 2-3 pm I had a break before heading into the 3 pm panel on “Influence as Contagion” with Allen Steele, Howard Waldrip, Jack M. Haringa, James Morrow, Resa Nelson, and Mary Robinette Kowal.  This was a particularly fascinating discussion on how writers are influence by other writers, movies, whatever.

Influence as Contagion panel

When the panel wrapped up, I jumped at a change to have Resa Nelson sign my premier issues of Science Fiction Age.  Her story, “The Dragonslayer’s Sword” appeared in that issue and while I am not usually a big fan of fantasy, I really liked that story.

Next was perhaps the highlight of my day.  I headed to the hotel bar with Allen Steele and we sat there for an hour talking shop. Allen is an absolutely terrific guy who gave me excellent practical advice on writing and the field.  He was also encouraging, telling me that I was going about things the right way.  It was just the kind of encouragement a novice writer like myself needs from time-to-time and Allen was very gracious for spending time with me.

I spent some time wandering about the huckster room, browsing longingly at books.  Mary Robinette Kowal was signing books and I asked her to sign my copy of DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS in which my story, “Hindsight, In Neon” appears and her story, “Scenting the Dark” appears.  I thought it would be cool to have a copy of the book signed by all of the other authors.  After that, I realized it was well after 6 pm.  I had signed up for a Kaffeeklatsch with Jack McDevitt and figured I should grab some food before that.

I went to the hotel bar/restaurant and while sitting there, ran into K. A. Laity.  I’d never met her before but she is a writer, panelist at Readercon, and also a friend and colleague of my good friend Ryane.  It was Ryane who told me to look out for her. She sat down with me and we chatted briefly while I rushed through my dinner.  I had to run pretty quickly but it was very nice to get to meet here.

The Kaffeeklatsch with Jack McDevitt was a lot of fun.  For those who don’t know what these are, about 6 or 7 people sign up in advance to sit around with a favorite author and shoot the shit.  Jack and I first met at RavenCon and we had chatted earlier in the day in the huckster room.  But now was a chance to sit with him and talk about his books, his writing, the education system (he used to be a teacher) and it was a lot of fun.

The last panel I attended was one entitled, “Why aren’t I repeating myself, again?” with Patrick O’Leary, Scott Edelman, Jennifer Pelland, David Anthony Durham, Michael Swanwick, and Paul Park.  Swanwick amused the audience during the introductions by saying who he was and then saying, “And I guess since Gene Wolfe isnt’ here, I guess that makes me the best writer at Readercon.”  The panel focused on writers who’s styles vary from one project to the next and the challenges that imposes on them.  When the panel wrapped up, I asked Jennifer Pelland to sign my copy of DESCENDED FROM DARKNESS.

Why aren't I repeating myself, again panel

The evening concluded with the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Barry Malzberg presented the award in an amusing speech.  The recipient of the award this year was Mark Clifton, who collaborated on the first Hugo-winning novel, They’d Rather Be Right.

At this point, I was absolutely exhausted and didn’t stick around for the party that followed.  But I had an absolutely wonderful time on the first full day of Readercon and am looking forward to another fun-filled day today.

Readercon 21: Thursday

I arrived at the Readercon hotel in Burlington, MA around 3 pm, after flying into Boston from Baltimore.  Hertz gave me a Chrystler Sebring convertible but–of course–it was too hot to take the top down.

The first person I ran into at the hotel was Mary Robinette Kowal, the new Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).  Mary was previously the Secretary of SFWA and I had worked with her online in my capacity as a volunteer for the organization, but I’d never met her in person.  That situation has now been remedied.

Next, I ran into Barry N. Malzberg.  Now for those who don’t know, Barry is my absolute favorite living writer.  His writing is to science fiction what Shakespeare was to the dramatic form.  I got to meet Barry for the first time at Readercon 19 and have kept in touch with him since then.  He goes for occasional walks around the hotel grounds to stretch his legs and was on his way to do just that when I ran into him.  So off we went together, talking about the history of the science fiction genre, about writing, and as usual, I was in awe and just trying to soak it all up.  Barry offered some excellent advice, and I was so captivated by what he had to say that I didn’t even notice it was well into the 90s out.

I ran into Mike Allen at the hotel desk, whose face I recognized in my capacity at the maintainer of the “Featured Author” section of the SFWA website.  And I saw Scott Edelman in the lobby as well.

Thursday evening at Readercon is open to the public.  There are only a couple of panels and I attended a fascinating one entitled “I Know These People Personally”.  The panel included John Langan, John Kessel, Kit Reed, Barry Malzberg.  Elizabeth Hand moderated.  The discussion centered around the morals of writing characters based on actual people, famous or otherwise.  Just before the panel Scott introduced me to Paul Di Filippo, who’d I’d met two years ago, and who I referred to as the “crazy envelope guy.”  (He also had a memorable story in the premier issue of Science Fiction Age, “Anne”.)

"I Know These People Personally" panel at Readercon 21. From left to right: John Langan, John Kessel, Elizabeth Hand, Kit Reed, Barry N. Malzberg

In between these happenings, I managed to grab some dinner and hit the gym.  I turned in early in anticipation of the very full day that I have today (Friday).