Tag: capclave

Capclave 2019, Day 1

Yesterday, I attended the first day of Capclave, the Washington, D.C. area local science fiction convention. This has been my local convention ever since I started to sell stories. I haven’t been writing much the last few years and so I haven’t been attending conventions, but I decided to attend this convention for two reasons: First, Robert J. Sawyer and Martha Wells are the guests of honor, and second, I’ve started to write again, and it would be great to catch up with old friends.

Rob Sawyer was the GoH at the first science fiction convention I ever attended, RavenCon in 2007. I had just sold my first story, and Rob was incredibly nice to me. I think the last time I saw him was at the Chicago Worldcon, and it was great to get to see him again yesterday.

Chatting with Bill Lawhorn, one of the Capclave con-runners, we tried to figure out when I first attended Capclave. I thought it was in 2010, the year that Connie Willis was guest of honor. Bill read through the list of earlier Capclave’s and I was fairly certain I hadn’t attended those.

I was wrong.

Searching the blog this morning, I found that I attended Capclave 2007 when Jeffrey Ford and Ellen Datlow were guests of honor. I was not a panelist then–indeed, the first time I was ever on a panel was at Readercon in 2008, I think. But I sat in awe on many of the panels as people whose names I’d been seeing on books and in the magazines talked.

At that 2007 Capclave I attended a workshop led by Edmund Schubert, Jagi Lamplighter, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Allen Wold. In the years since, I’ve sold more stories to Ed Schubert than any other editor; I attended the Lauchpad Astronomy workshop for writers in Laramie, Wyoming with Jeri Smith-Ready (her husband, Christian Ready helped run it), and yesterday, I moderated a panel that included Allen Wold among the panelist.

I had a late lunch with my pal, Bud Sparhawk, who has to be one of the most prolific “retired” people I know. It had been a few years since I’d seen Bud and it was great to catch up with him.

I had my first panel at 8 pm, “Before the Beginning,” a panel on what happens before a writer starts to write a story. It turned out I was moderating this panel, which included Sunny Moraine, Ian Randal Strock, Ted Weber, and Allen Wold. It was a light audience of maybe a dozen people, but I think we had a pretty good discussion. It was the first panel I’ve moderated in several years and I was a little nervous about it, so I made sure to prepare ahead of time. For those curious, here are my notes (the stuff handwritten, are things I scribbled down during the panel):

I’ve got two panels lined up today, neither of which I have to moderate, fortunately. Looking forward to another fun day.

My Capclave Schedule, 2019 Edition

It has been a few years since I’ve attended science fiction conventions, mainly because I haven’t been writing much. But, I will be at my local convention, Capclave, this coming weekend, October 18-20, in Rockville, Maryland.

Robert J. Sawyer and Martha Wells are guests of honor at this convention. I am looking forward to being there. Here is my preliminary panel schedule for the weekend:


  • 8 pm: Before the Beginning (w/Sunny Moraine, Ian Randal Strock, Ted Weber, and Allen L. Wold. When developing a story, what comes first, the setting, plot, characters, or something else? Is it writer or story dependent? How does this choice affect the story? What planning does the author do and how does this change while writing the story? I am moderating this panel.


  • 2 pm: Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make (w/Larry Hodges, Dina Leacock, Ian Randal Strock (M), Sherri Cook Woosley). What was the biggest mistake you made as a new writer? Do you still make that mistake? What incorrect assumptions do new writers make? What advice would you give new writers about managing their career?
  • 4 pm: Writing Under Duress (w/Kelly E Dwyer, LH Moore, Lawrence M. Schoen). Tips, cheats, and strategies to keep writing even after life punches you in the throat. General self-care for writers.


  • 10 am: Plotters and Pantsers: A Debate (w/Day Al-Mohamen (M), Beth Brenner, Michelle D. Sonnier, Sherri Cook Woosley). The audience will vote at the start and end. The two sides will go back and forth defending their style. The winner is the side that changes the most votes.

5 Things that Make Capclave an Outstanding Science Fiction Convention

The second day1 of Capclave was nearly as fun as the first2. I was a bit more tired on Sunday than I was on Saturday, and not long before my last two panels of the day, I had a energy crash. I made it through and the panels were fun, but boy, was I wiped out! I think that is a sign of a good convention: one that you engage with so much that you leave everything on the field and come away utterly exhausted and in need of sleep. I got sleep last night–more than 8 hours worth, which is a rare thing for me. But I also thought about why Capclave is so much fun year after year and I came up with 5 things that I think makes it a fun, successful convention, at least from my view point.

1. It is (usually) a small, intimate convention

This year, of course, was an exception. I think there were in excess of 800 people attending Capclave this year, almost double what they normally have. And yet, there was still an intimate feel to the convention for the most part. It was not hard to find the people that I wanted to see and talk to. It was not difficult to find the places where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there. Rarely were there lines for anything, the big exception being the autograph lines for George R. R. Martin. But those lines would have been long at any convention, and I think the organizers at Capclave found a way of managing the line the made it efficient for George, as well as the people waiting to get books signed.

I managed to get some business done at the convention, in addition to participating on panels and doing other things, and I find that it is always easier to do this at Capclave than it is at other conventions, simply because of the more intimate feel.

2. It has excellent programming

Capclave always has great programming and this year was no exception. Read through the list of panels to get a flavor for the wide variety of subjects that were covered. Capclave is a literary convention, like Readercon, although I’d say that Capclave is far more relaxed than Readercon. (At least, I feel less pressure on panels at Capclave than I do when I’ve been on panels at Readercon.) The subjects of the panels are accessible and interesting. When I was a newer writer, I thought Capclaves panels and workshops for new writers were extraordinarily helpful. Now that I’ve been publishing stories and articles for a while, I like being on the panels that can help new writers.

The panels I was on yesterday are a good example of the range of things covered in Capclave. I started on a panel on science in science fiction. Later, I was on a panel on “Low Tech Writers” with Howard Waldrop and Michael Swanwick. My last panel of the day was on including stuff from your life in the stories you write. All of the panels were well-attended (the science panel was the best-attended of all my panels, I think, with something like 80 people in the audience–probably because George was speaking right after us).

There were a lot of panels I would have loved to attend, were it not for the fact that I was on a panel at the same time. Kate Baker was on a couple of panels on voice-acting and podcasting. Scott Edleman and others did a panel on name-dropping that looked like a lot of fun. There were panels on specific writers (I moderated a panel on Clifford D. Simak, for instance), panels on alternate histories, panels on military science fiction. There were also writing workshop, and readings going on all day long.

3. It has great Guests of Honor

I mean, come on, George R. R. Martin! But go back and look at past years. John Scalzi, Carrie Vaughn, and Connie Willis, to name a few recent guests. And next year, Capclave will have Paulo Bacigalupi and Holly Black.

Read more

  1. You can read about my first day here.
  2. I say “nearly” only because it takes a lot to top the Howard/George/Garnder show from last night.

The SF Signal Podcast, My Daily Science Fiction Story and My Capclave Reading

Just a couple of items for bleary-eyed folks on Monday morning (a holiday in this part of town, although not for me).

  • I am on the current episode (#156) of the SF Signal Podcast. Along with Derek Johnson, Stina Leicht, Jaym Gates, Justin Landon and Patrick Hester, we discuss whether or not optimistic science fiction stories are gone forever. It was a fun discussion, and you are interested in what we had to say, you should go listen in.
  • My story, “Lost and Found” will be emailed to subscribers of Daily Science Fiction on Wednesday, October 10. If you want to get to read this story a week before it is available on the website, head over to Daily Science Fiction and subscribe to the email. You get one story every weekday of the year, and it’s free!
  • For folks attending Capclave this coming weekend, I will be doing my first-ever reading. I’m trying to decide what to read, but it would be nice to, you know, have an audience to read to. My reading is scheduled for 12:30pm on Saturday, October 13. Once I know where it will be I’ll let you know. Stop by if you can make it.

That’s all, folks.

Year in review – 2011: Conventioneering

One of my goals in 2011 was to “attend at least one [science fiction] convention as a participant.”

I started attending science fiction conventions in 2007 after the sale of my first story to Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show. The first convention I attended was RavenCon in April 2007 and it set the bar rather high. I got to meet the editor of IGSM, Edmund Schubert, as well as meet and have dinner with Robert J. Sawyer.

Since then, I’ve attended close to a dozen conventions, all of them on the east coast or mid-Atlantic somewhere. But until 2011, I’d never attended as a participant. I am pleased to say that changed this year. I attended 2 conventions as a participant in 2011. The first was Readercon in July. It was there that I sat on my first two panels, on as a panelist, the other as the moderator (and the person who selected the topic for that matter). It was a lot of fun, but I have to admit I think I make a better panelist than moderator. Maybe I just need more practice at the latter.

Then, in October, I was a participant at Capclave, and I was on 2 more panels, again, one as a participant and one as a moderator.

Read more

My “awesome*” weekend at Capclave 2011

I spent most of Saturday and Sunday attending Capclave 2011 at its new hotel up in Gaithersberg, Maryland. Saturday was an experiment for us. Kelly was spending the day at a bachelorette party, going from one winery to the next and I would be at the convention. We had a babysitter staying with the Little Man and the Little Miss from 10am until I got home at 6pm. The experiment was a success. The kids were fine. And the babysitter worked out very well.


On Saturday, I arrived at Capclave around 9:30am. As soon as I walked into the hotel lobby I ran into Edmund Schubert, editor of Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and the man who bought my first story. We caught up quickly and then wandered over to the con-ops room to get our badges and other goodies. My schedule for the day was pretty wide open. My first panel wasn’t until 3pm. Once I’d collected my badge, I wandered over to the area where the Kaffeeklatches were being held. I’d signed up for the KK with Edmund and Alethea Kontis. Present at the table was Kat Otis, who I’d first met in the green room at the Nebula Weekend back in May; Larry Hodges; and one woman whose name I cannot recall, but who had some fascinating stories to tell about her teachers. (The discussion at the table was wide and varied, which was a good thing.)

After that I went wandering briefly through the huckster room (I guess they actually call them dealer rooms now) to see if I could find any pre-1950 Astoundings that I didn’t already have. Alas, there were none to be had. I wandered back into the lobby where I saw Scott Edelman and I chatted with Scott for a while.

Read more

My Capclave schedule

I will be at Capclave, October 14-16 up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I’ll be at the convention most of Saturday and Sunday and I will be on the following panels:

  • Saturday, 3pm: Will books survive–and in what form?
  • Sunday, 10am: Short fiction: why bother? (As moderator)

Otherwise, I’ll be hanging out at the convention, sitting in on panels and trying to catch up with friends.

Anyone else attending this year? I hope to see you there.

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.