Tag: conventions

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.

RavenCon 2009

Kelly and I were up early on Saturday morning and hit the road before 8 am for our drive down to Richmond for RavenCon 2009.  We arrived at the hotel, checked in, had some breakfast, registered, and then got started.  This was Kelly’s first science fiction convention (or as she lovingly referred to it, "nerd convention") and so I spent some time explaining how it worked and showing her around the dealer room and the con suite.  I think she found it interesting and parts of it she definitely enjoyed.  I think there were other parts she found amusing.  For me, I had a great time and found several of the sessions extremely valuable.

We headed to the dealer’s room where Edmund Schubert and Misty Masssey were signing books.  I brought with me a copy of Edmund’s first novel, Dreaming Creek which he kindly signed for me.  We stood around chatting for a while, and Ed introduced me to both Misty and Hildy Silverman, who I met very briefly at Readercon last year.    showed up while we were chatting and it was nice to see him again too.  I introduced them all to Kelly.

Shortly thereafter, I attended a session on "How to get your start in short stories".  On the panel were the two Bud’s:  Bud Sparhawk and Bud Webster.  Also Davey Beuchamp, Lyn Gardner, and Jim Reichart.  Hildy Silverman moderated.  It was a good discussion and what I most got out of this session was reassurance that I was doing things the right way, and generally following Heinlein’s rules for writing.

After that Kelly and I attended a session on Blogging for Writers which we both enjoyed and which I in particular found very useful.  (See the previous post).

At 2 pm, Kelly decided to go make use of the indoor pool, and I attended the Guest of Honor interview.  GOH this year was Jack McDevitt, whose Priscilla Hutchins books I love, and whose Cauldron was my favorite book of 2008.  At first, it didn’t seem like the interview was going to be particularly good because the interviewer seemed to be doing all of the talking, but that ended pretty quickly andJack talked, told wonderful, funny stories, and also talked about his writing process, what kind of stories he likes to write, and his process for doing so.  When all was said and done, it turned out to be a great interview.  I introduced myself to him at the end, and told him how much I enjoyed his books, and also passed on a "hello" from a mutual friend.  He signed books afterward and I got a couple of books signed.  He was very, very kind, and I really enjoyed his interview.

Late in the afternoon, I went to  ‘s book signing, and brought a copy of his first novel for him to sign.  We chatted for a while and I asked him a few questions, one of which I have always wondered about:  who comes up with the maps in fantasy novels?  (Turns out David comes up with him maps, but I can’t even imagine the vision that takes.  I was very impressed by it all.)

Kelly and I braved the 97 degree heat to walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  We had a nice dinner and once back at the hotel, it was my plan to mingle for a while, attend another session or two, and then we would meet up for the comedy and costume contest later in the evening.

Back in the dealer’s room (where earlier, Kelly picked up a copy of a book on gnomes), I ran into Larry Hodges, and we chatted for a while.  I first met Larry at RavenCon in 2007 and for a while thereafter, we were in the same writer’s group.  Eventually, I ended up at the bar and while sitting on the couch, catching up on some blogs, I suddenly found myself the target of a hastily formed paper-napkin missile, and looked up just in time to bat it away.  The missile "launched" was none other than Edmund, who was sitting at a bar table with Hildy Silverman.  We chatted for a while, mostly about our kids (and my forthcoming baby).

Edmund and I then headed to the 7 pm science session on "the next 5 years".  I found this to be a very interesting panel.  It was standing room only and both Edmund and I were standing for it.  At some point during the panel, I turned to Ed to make a comment and he was gone, and I found myself talking to a stranger.

At 8 pm, Kelly was in line for the comedy show, which was essentially a retelling of all 7 Harry Potter books in 45 minutes, acted out on stage before it.  We had seats close to the front and that was a good thing since the room was packed.  It was a very funny show.  During the intermission was the costume contest (the winners of which were announced at the end of the second part of the show).  I had planned to go to an 11 pm session but by this time, I was exhausted and we headed up for bed.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, I attended a dual reading.  David B. Coe read the first chapter of his latest novel, The Horseman’s Gambit.  Afterward, Hildy Silverman read a new "urban vampire" story she’d written, one which turned out to be very funny.  And then it was over and time to head home.  It was a lot of fun and I was glad I got to go this year.

Readercon, Part 2

Saturday was my second and final day at Readercon, and it was just as good as the first day. I attended several session today, including a fascinating one on rewrites and revisions. The panel included (among others) Michael Swanwick and James Patrick Kelly. I attended a couple of readings as well. The first reading was by James Morrow, who read from his upcoming novella, Fumbling Toward Hiroshima. The second was a reading that included half a dozen or more authors from

  ‘s new anthology, The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Among these were two readers I really wanted to hear, Elizabeth Bear (a.k.a.

  ) and Barry N. Malzberg.

And speaking of Barry Malzberg, I got to spend some more time with him late this morning. He was heading out for another walk (he is, as he describes himself, a compulsive walker) and he invited me along with him. Once again, it was terrific. Later in the day,

was kind enough to take this photo of me and Barry just outside the huckster room. Scott also got this photo of me with

and Michael Marano.

I went through the huckster room several times today but managed to refrain from buying anything. With the house nearly all packed up, it seemed cruel to buy books which I would immediately have to pack away.

Around 4 PM, I headed for the airport. I thought I might be able to get an earlier flight, but I got there just in time to miss the earlier flight to D.C. So I went to a pub, had a plate of cheese fries and a couple of beers, and read for a few hours while I awaited my flight. The flight itself was uneventful and I was back at Dulles on time. Kelly was waiting for me in the baggage claim area and we were at my house by 10 PM, just as planned. Dad was there and we hung out with him for a while before heading off to bed.

Readercon was terrific, the best convention I’ve been to so far, and one that I will continue to attend in the coming years. Meeting a personal hero, a favorite writer is, as MasterCard says, priceless, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have met Barry and for the kindness he showed me throughout the convention. I look forward to seeing him there again next year. Once again, I have to thank


, and

for making me feel at home at a convention where everyone there seemed more knowledgeable about science fiction than me, where they all seemed to have gained the trick of throwing major league fastballs, and the ability to hit major league curve balls. These are the people, all of them, who make science fiction what it is today and I felt very lucky to get the chance to hang out from them and (hopefully) learn from them.

Readercon 2008, Part 1

I was up at around 5:30 AM in order to catch a flight to Boston for Readercon. For all of my non-sf friends, Readercon is a s.f. convention not quite like any other. As the name alludes to, it is almost exclusively about written science fiction. It is also attended by the Best of the Best in the business. And one of my favorite writers of all time, Barry N. Malzberg, regularly attends the convention. With all of this as preface, I headed up to Boston. My flight was on time and I picked up my rental car from Hertz, making it to the hotel in Burlington just in time to make the 11 AM session I’d hoped to attend.

When I arrived at the hotel, I heard my name being called out by mabfan and gnomi, and it was good to see both of them. They are a reassuring presence at these conferences since they are familiar, friendly, encouraging faces.

The first session I went to was on science fiction as a mirror of reality, and among the people on the panel were Robert J. Sawyer and mabfan.

<shameless plug>Michael has a collection of short stories coming later this year called I Remember the Future: The Award-Nominated Stories of Michael A. Burstein. I have read almost all of the stories in the collection and they are all fantastic. Don’t read science fiction? These stories provide an excellent introduction to what science fiction is all about. Start with his story, “Sanctuary”, which by itself is worth the price of admission.</shameless plug>

I attended a session, “Transcending your influences” that was interesting. James Morrow was on the panel and I loved his Godhead Trilogy.

Wandering around, I ran into scottedelman who was so kind to me throughout the day, and very encouraging, too.

There were other session. I listed to Rob Sawyer read from his forthcoming novel, Wake. I sat with scottedelman for the “If All Men Are Tolerant, How Would You Shock Your Sister?” session. But most definitely the highlight of my day was meeting Barry N. Malzberg.

To people outside science fiction, I can’t really explain what Barry writes. His most famous novels are those like Herovit’s World and Beyond Apollo. He has a dark, depressing outlook, that is laden with humor. When I first read Herovit’s World I was blown away. No other book has ever had quite the same effect on me as that book. I first became acquainted with Barry’s work sometime in 1993 when Scott Edelman, then editor of SCIENCE FICTION AGE published a story of his called “The Passage of the Light”. At the time, I was preparing my senior paper for my minor in journalism. The paper was on science fiction and, although I doubt he remembers this, I wrote to Scott asking for more information, in particular about this guy Barry Malzberg. Scott recommended some books. I went to school at the University of California, Riverside, which hosts a famous collection of science fiction and I immediately made use of that collection to get to know Barry Malzberg. He is a writer’s writer. He chose to write science fiction but he could write anything better than 99.99% of the writers out there. He has the imagery of Ray Bradbury with the wit of Woody Allen. To try and describe his writing simply doesn’t do him justice. You just have to go out and read it.

This man, this Writer, was gracious enough to spend some time with me today. Sometime around 2:30 PM (the same time as mabfan‘s reading) Barry told me to meet him and the two of us went for a walk. We walked all around the hotel parking lots, for nearly half and hour, talking, just the two of us. Words cannot express the awe I have of Barry, and that he was willing to spend some time with me was, to me, the highlight of the conference. He asked what I did, where I went to school. And I asked him about his writing, his books. I made sure to tell him what an influence his books had on me. He asked about my writing and I told him of my progress so far. And he reassured me and told me that I was doing things that right way, that I had the fundamentals down. He told me about the first s.f. convention he ever attended, back in 1967 and how in awe he was of the writers that surrounded him. It was wonderful.

And then he signed 3 books that I brought with me, with personal inscriptions on all of them.

While I still have another whole day to spend at the conference tomorrow, I’m not sure there is anything that can top what I experienced today.

Of the 5 conventions I have now attended, Readercon is the most–how do I put it–imposing. Everyone is friendly, everyone is willing to talk to you, sign autographs, you name it. But these are the Best of the Best. Readercon is the Big League of science fiction conventions. The writers here not only know how to do it, they know how to do it really, really well. So to some extent, I felt way out of my league. But I also once again felt the urge to press forward, to keep at it, and that maybe, just maybe, if the stars align just so, and luck it on my side, I can be as good as they are.

My tentative Readercon schedule

I head up to Boston for Readercon early Friday morning. Alas, I am only able to stay through early Saturday evening. Given my short stay, here is my tentative schedule of events that I am hoping to attend while there.


11:00: Science Fiction as a Mirror for Reality
13:00: -Esque No More: Transcending Your Influences
14:30: Michael A. Burstein reads a selection from his story “Empty Spaces”
15:00: The Critical Review: Griffin, Gorgon, or Sphinx
16:00: Robert J. Sawyer reads from his upcoming novel Wake
17:00: A Tale of Two Disciplines
18:00: If All Men Were Tolerant, How Would You Shock Your Sister?
19:00: Waking Up Sober Next to a Story Idea
22:00: The 2008 Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award Ceremony
22:30: Meet the Pro(s) Party


12:00: Genius is 90% Higher Standards: The “Unnecessary Rewrite”
13:00: Kaffeeflatches: Scott Edelman, Matthew Kressel
14:00: The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction group reading
15:00: You Say “Plagiarism”, I Say “The Ecstasy of Influence” OR
15:00: Kaffeeklatsches: David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer, Robert J. Sawyer
14:00: James Patrick Kelly interviewed

I may try and squeeze in other things if I can, but I have to head for the airport no later than 5:30 PM on Saturday, which is unfortunate. Still I am very much looking forward to this convention and especially, meeting Barry Malzberg there.

Move, wedding and Readercon updates

More progress on move and wedding stuff yesterday:

Moving progress

  • We went over to the new place last night and paid the pet deposit and pro-rated rent for July. We also requested to get the keys a day early so we get them on Friday, July 25, which means we can get an earlier start on Saturday. Also gave them the proof of insurance and account numbers for various utilities that they needed.
  • Confirmed the cable setup for Monday, July 28.
  • Setup automated rent payments so that we don’t have to think about this–very convenient.

Wedding progress

  • I think I mentioned that Kelly took care of the flowers over the weekend.
  • I called the place where we are having our rehearsal dinner and booked a reservation for 7 PM on Friday, October 10. I have to fax them a contract and will do that over the next couple of days.


  • I opted to rent a car in Boston because the cost the rental and the cost of a taxi t the hotel were more or less a wash, and the rental car gives me more flexibility.
  • I still haven’t picked out all of my sessions, but I plan on doing that this evening. I have to cram in as much as I can in the two days that I will be there.

Readercon 2008!

Finally, finally, I am going to make it to Readercon. I’ve been wanted to go to this convention for a few years now, in large part because one of my favorite all-time authors–Barry Malzberg–usually attends. As it turns out, Dad is going to be in town July 17 – 23, but I checked with him yesterday and he was fine with me leaving him on his own for 2 days. My plan is to fly up to Boston early Friday morning, July 18, spend all of Friday and most of Saturday at the conference and then fly back home Saturday evening.

I just purchased my registration for the conference, so it’s really happening.

I’m looking forward to it. It will give me another chance to hang out with mabfan, an all-around cool guy, and gnomi. Also, looking over the list of guests, it looks like scottedelman will be there, too, and it will be nice to see him again (after meeting him in person for the first time at Capclave). In fact, lots of writers and editors I really admire will be there: James Morrow, whose Godhead series, absolutely loved, will be there. In fact, you could almost recreate the table of contents of one of Scott’s SCIENCE FICTION AGE issues with the list of names attending this convention.

I really can’t wait.

UPDATE: I’ve also reserved my hotel room at the conference hotel.

FURTHER UPDATE: And my plane tickets.

Sick day

I got back home from Boston about 10 PM last night with a few new books and no voice. I’m still sick today and my voice has withered away. I stayed home from work and hopefully that means I’ll be okay for work tomorrow.

I haven’t had a chance to post more about Boskone yet, but I promise to back-post about Saturday and Sunday in detail. In the meantime, you can get an interesting perspective on Boskone from strausmouse.

Boskone 45, Day 3 (Sunday)

I was up at 8:30 AM, headed down to the hotel lobby to do a little bit of writing (promised mabfan that I’d do this) and eat breakfast. Eric came down a little later, ate and then hit the road for home. My first session wasn’t until 11 AM, so I spent some time wandering about the convention, and in particular, in the huckster room looking through books and magazines. Eventually, I picked up 3 things: (1) a copy of the July 1995 issue of ANALOG containing mabfan‘s first published story; (2) The John W. Campbell Letters, Volume 1, and (3) Charles Stross’ book, Iron Sunrise.

At 11 AM, I attended one of the most fascinating panels of the conference, “Will 2008 Be the Year When eBooks Make It?”. The panel was made up of Darlene Marshall, Ellen Asher, Don D’Ammassa, and Charles Stross. I have been torn on the eBooks issue and I spoke up in this discussion. There are pros and cons to eBooks, I said, but the one con that no one has mentioned is that you can’t take an eBook to get signed by your favorite author at a convention like Boskone. Since many publisher and authors are giving away free copies of their books, under creative commons copyright, I asked if publishers would considering giving away an eBook copy with the purchase of a physical book. Charles Stross answered that this is the very thing some publishers are considering, which I think is a great idea.

At 1 PM, I attended “Don’t Stand So Close to Me: Problems with Writing Near-Future SF”, which was another fascinating panel with Alexander Jablokov, James Patrick Kelly, and Charles Stross.

That was my last panel. Around 2 PM, I found mabfan, gnomi and others in the Con Suite and we sat around a small table and gabbed for the next 90 minutes. Michael graciously signed the July 1995 issue of ANALOG I presented to him. I ducked out for a few minutes to get Charles Stross to sign Iron Sunrise. Cecilia Tan came by the table showing off the copy of Bombers 2008 Broadside: An Annual Guide to New York Yankees Baseball and when she heard I was a Yankee fan, she gave me a copy! Oh, and mabfan, fiendish devil that he is, finally got me an introduction with David Hartwell.

At about 3:30 PM, I said goodbye to everyone and left the conference after having a wonderful time. It really was a great science fiction convention.

I caught a taxi to Logan. I couldn’t get an earlier flight so I was stuck on the 7 PM flight to Dulles, but I got through checkin and security pretty quickly and spent a few hours in the Red Carpet Club before hopping on the plane. I was back at Dulles just before 9 PM and back home just after 10 PM. By the time I got home, my voice was going, having held out most of the weekend through cold, coughing, and sneezing. Kelly was home and it was very good to see her. However, not wanting to get her sick, I spent the night in the guest room while she slept in my room.

Boskone 45, Day 2 (Saturday)

I started my day at Boskone with a panel called “SF and Fantasy as Modern Myth”. The panel included Judith Berman, Debra Doyle, Greer Gilamn, and Sonya Taaffe. This panel was way far over my head. When discussions of science fiction feature words like “archetype”, they become too erudite even for me. So while I did my best to pay close attention to what was being say, I cannot summarize what this panel was all about. These folks have bigger brains than I.

Day 2 at Boskone

Boskone, day 1

Almost midnight and I’m back from my first day (well, evening really) as Boskone. It’s been a lot of fun. I attended two panels. The first was “Selling What You Write” and it was interesting, but I realized that it was probably not something that I needed to attend, having made one sale already. This was basic stuff, but it was still fun to listen to the questions that people asked. The second panel was called “Tracking History” and was centered on a discussion by authors of long series of books on how they keep the internal histories straight. David Weber was the big star on the panel and it was also an interesting discussion.

Later, I had a beer and then wandered over to the Con Suite. Now, I didn’t know what a Con Suite was, but it looked like a VIP suite. (Turns out it’s not.) However, I saw mabfan there (along with gnomi and so I went over to say hello. One thing led to another and we ended up talking for a couple of hours. Michael was great. He introduced me to a lot of people, telling them I was a new writing and where my story had been published. So, for example, he introduced me to Allen M. Steele, who talked about his first experience winning a Hugo Award, and who proceeded to give me advice on my acceptance speech, should the day ever come when I win one. I got to tell Allen how he once lost me a story sale.

Short version: Sheila Williams at ASIMOV’S really liked my story, “Wake Me When We Get There”, however, there was one fatal flaw to the story, which she pointed out, Allen Steele had handled much better in a similar story that he did.

He introduced me to Daniel Kimmel, a film critic in the Boston area, and the three of us stood around talking for quite a while. Daniel and Michael are very funny together.

He introduced me to author Sarah Beth Durst, who has been nominated for the Norton Award this year, and who stood around with us chatting for a while, too.

And he also introduced me to writer Bruce Coville who is the special guest at Boskone this year, and who stopped by to chat with us for a while as well. Michael and Bruce are also very funny together.

Naturally, I was overwhelmed by all of this. It’s such a cool feeling to talk face-to-face with these writers. I mean, I was chatting about Hugo Award speeches with Allen Steele, the guy who wrote “Hunting Wabbit”, which amused me so much when it appeared in SCIENCE FICTION AGE. There are nearly two full days left to the conference and now, I can’t wait for more! Thanks again, mabfan!