Tag: readercon

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.

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Ten things I learned at Readercon 22


While out walking yesterday, Barry Malzberg asked me, “So what did you learn this year?” Well, I couldn’t really answer him at the time, but having given it some thought, here are ten things I learned from Readercon 22:

  1. Being a panelist can be fun. This was my first time, but I really enjoyed being on the “We All Produce/We All Consume” panel with Gemma Files, K. A. Laity, Robert Killheffer, and Paul Di Filippo.
  2. Being a moderator can be stressful. It was also my first time moderating a panel. I muddled through the “Capturing the Hidden History of SF” panel, thanks to the help of my fellow panelists, but at this point, I think I prefer just being a panelist.
  3. Choose a good example of a panelist and try to learn from them. I found Paul Di Filippo to be an excellent panelist. He is intelligent, funny, well-prepared, engaging, always has something significant to say, and seems so natural at it. He is my model for a good panelist.
  4. The Scott Meredith Literary Agency Plot Skeleton. Barry Malzberg recited this plot skeleton from memory on the panel about the agency and it was remarkable, both hearing him recite it, and in what the skeleton embodies. If you don’t know what this is, or didn’t get a chance to see it, check out Scott Edelman’s video of the panel.
  5. The importance of appointing a literary executor. There were some horror stories on the panel discussing “Preserving Literary Legacies.” Many of these horror stories could have been avoided if a good literary executor had been appointed for the estate.
  6. I am sorely under-read. I like to think I am well-read within the science fiction genre, but I come to Readercon and find that nearly everyone is far more well-read than I am. I don’t know how they manage to keep up.
  7. My critical ability leaves something to be desired. The panel on Delany’s The Jewel-Hinged Jaw, which I have never read (see #6) was a revelation to me. I am reading the book now. I only hope that I am not too late.
  8. There is more to the hidden history of science fiction than I imagined. And there is probably a good deal of it that I probably don’t want to know about.
  9. There are still lots of people who care passionately about science fiction. And fortunately, many of them come to Readercon.
  10. Seeing friends is the best part. The panels are great–better than most conventions. Kirk Poland is hysterical. Meet the Pro(s)e is a blast. But getting to hand out with people who have become friends, well, for me, that’s the best part of Readercon.

I got back into the house at around 10pm last night. I put the Little Man to bed. He was out cold, and after 4 days of being away, I wanted to play with him, but I let him sleep. It was a good thing, too. I’d barely made it into bed when I suddenly limped bonelessly and was dead.

Previous Readercon 22 posts:

Readercon 22, Day 4 (Sunday): Saying goodbye (plus Neil Gaiman!)

Sunday seems to be mostly about saying goodbye to all of the wonderful people I was priveledged to hang out with. It’s kind of a sad day at a convention, watching everyone check out of the hotel and not quite knowing if you’ll have to wait a full year before you see them again. For some, yes. For others, hopefully not.

I was up before 8am once again and headed down to the restaurant. While sitting there waiting for my food to be delivered, I ran into Mary Rodgers, another writer and Codex member and we ended up having a very nice breakfast together, chatting about writing habits and other things that you can really only discuss with another writer in the context of a writer’s convention.

From that breakfast I dashed off to meet Barry Malzberg and company for the morning walk around the parking lot. This time Scott Edelman and Paul Di Filippo didn’t make it, but instead Liz Hand went with us. We did the usual three or four loops around the parking lot, listening to Barry expound his wisdom, and listening to Liz ask him interesting questions. It was, as always, absolutely delightful.

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Readercon 22, Day 3 (Saturday)

I was up before 8am and had a quick breakfast before dashing over to the lobby to get a little online tasks taken care of. While so doing, I awaited the arrival of Barry and Joyce Malzberg, along with Paul Di Filippo and Deborah Newton, and also Scott Edelman. We all trudged out to the parking lot to accompany Barry on his morning walk. I can begin to describe who wonderful and accepting all these folks are and if you know then, you already know that, but I felt like one of the gang, walking around that parking lot and it was an utter delight.

But there were also some panels to attend, although not as many as Friday, at least for me. I had intended to start the day with a reading by Paul Levinson, but for some reason, I had the time in my head as 10:30 when in fact he read at 10am, while I was out wandering the parking lot with Barry, Scott, Paul and the others, so I missed that. I did, however, managed to catch up with Paul and finally got to meet him in person. What a great guy!

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Readercon, Day 2, Part 2 (Friday)

I had planned to take a short break at 2pm but I ran into Barry Malzberg who was about to go on one of his walks around the parking lot and so I went with him. It is always great to chat with Barry when there are no crowds around. Even though I’ve taken these walks with him on several occasions now, I still find myself halfway around the parking lot thinking: Man, oh, man, I am walking and chatting with Barry Malzberg! It’s no secret that Barry is my favorite living writer and I think back to those days when I first discovered his book–when I first read that absolutely brilliant Beyond Apollo–and I don’t think in my wildest dreams I ever imagined becoming friends with him and walking around a convention parking lot.

We got back from the walk just in time for me to make it to John Joseph Adams‘ reading. He read a couple of stories from the upcoming September issue of Lightspeed Magazine. I enjoy going to readings like these. I am not particularly font of audiobooks, but readings are a different matter. I like listening to the reader, watching the audience smile, smirk, laugh as the story is told. The combination of reading and being there to see the audience react to the stories is a kind of immediate reaction that I think all writers wish they could get from their stories, and which, of course, we rarely do. John did a nice job reading the two pieces, both of which were the high quality fiction you’d expect from Lightspeed.

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Readercon Day 2, Part 1 (Friday)

I usually don’t sleep well in hotels, but I slept pretty good last night. In part it was probably do to the fact that I was up so late to begin with. I allowed myself to sleep in until just before 8am, usuaully late for me. Then I got up, showered, and had a quick breakfast at the hotel restaurant before heading up to the lobby.

Registration opened at 10am. I got in the growing line five minutes before and when I arrived at the front, they didn’t have my name on file.

“Are you a pro?” I was asked.

“Uh, yes.”

“Try over at the pro registration,” I was told.

Well, no one told me there was a separate registration for pros. Indeed when I got in that (much shorter) line, I recognized many faces. They had my badge and materials and I was on my way quickly thereafter.


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Readercon 22, Day 1 (Thursday)

As anyone who attends science fiction conventions knows: conventions typically begin the moment you walk into the hotel lobby. A big part of a convention is meeting up with friends and colleagues, catching up, chatting, networking, making new acquaintances. And that was certainly true yesterday. But a convetion like Readercon “officially” begins with the first round of panel discussions.

Readercon’s Thursday evening programming is free and open to the public, which is nice because people who might not otherwise attend can come in and see what it is like. And Readercon is not like most science fiction conventions. You won’t find people in constumes here: there is no costume party. You won’t find rooms reserved for all-night gaming. This isn’t a gaming convention. Readercon focuses on written science fiction–that is, the literature of the genre. It’s one of the reasons why it is my favorite convention.

There was a special significance to the first panel I attended at Readercon last night, “We All Produce/We All Consume.” It was my first time ever as a panelist. Kelly and I had been playing phone tag, and she left me a message not long before the panel was to begin. I stepped outside to call her back and told her why I missed her call:

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Another writing career milestone: I’m in the Readercon program

I know it is a small thing, but as a participant and panelist at Readercon this year, it means that I am listed in the program. Small though it is, I am terribly excited about that. Here I am in the participant index:


And here is my bio in listing of participants:


I know it’s silly for me to be excited about something like this, but I can’t help it. This is just so cool!

Getting to Readercon

During the writers hangout last night, Mary Robinette Kowal announced to the lot of us that her flight to Readercon today had been canceled and that she’d been booked on another flight. She doesn’t have the best of luck when it come to travel. I, on the other hand, have had unusually good luck with my travel and I went to bed last night anticipating smooth sailing up to Boston.

I was wakened at 4am to that all-too-familiar email chime. (I was using my iPad as an alarm clock) and discovered that by noon flight to Boston had already been canceled. Eight hours before the flight. Because of an equipment problem. I skimmed through the rest of my email and found that I had been automatically rebooked on at 3pm flight. Not ideal, but it would still get me to the hotel in time to eat something before my first panel at 8pm. I went back to sleep.

Kelly and the Little Man are in Florida, so I was home alone and for the first time in a very long time, I was able to sleep in. Normally we are up before 7am regardless of the day of the week. I slept in until 9:30. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, showered, and headed downstairs, it was 10am and I found an email from United saying that my 3pm flight was now delayed until 4pm because of late arriving equipment. Well, a 4pm departure would mean a 5:30 arrival in Boston, smack in the midst of rush hour. I might barely make it to the hotel in time for my panel.

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Delayed a couple of hours on my way to Readercon

I woke up at 4am and discovered that my flight to Readercon had been canceled and I had been automatically rebooked on the next flight out of Dulles. I was originally supposed to depart at 12:30 and now my flight is scheduled to leave 2-1/2 hours later at 3pm. That gets me into Boston at 4:30, just in time for rush hour traffic I imagine. If all goes smoothly, I hope to be at the hotel between 5:30 and 6pm. That’s not too bad, it will allow me to check in, and grab something to eat before my first panel at 8pm.

“First panel” has a double-meaning in this case. Not only is it my the first panel I’ll attend at Readercon 22 (my third Readercon overall), it is the first panel EVER on which I am a participant. I’m excited about that.

And while I am disappointed that I’m not going to get up the convention hotel as early as I’d planned, I’m trying to take it in stride. I plan on leaving for Dulles around noon, heading into the Red Carpet Club once I’m through security, having a beer (in honor of #marygoround–one drink each time Mary Robinette Kowal is delayed) and getting some more writing done.

ETA: I’ve been rebooked on a 1:30 US Airways flight out of Reagan. So I” only an hour behind schedule.

Preparing for Readercon

I leave for Readercon the day after tomorrow and I feel like I have a lot to do between now and then. The biggest challenge, however, is finishing the first draft of this novelette that I’ve been working on. I promised myself I’d have the draft done before I got on the plane. I did pretty good last week getting through about 4,300 words late last week. But Sunday was spent on the most recent Vacation in the Golden Age post, and yesterday, my writing time was consumed by the need to console the Little Man as a whopper of a thunderstorm passed through just as he was going to bed.

So, I plan on doing a lot of fiction-writing between now and 10am on Thursday. And I am still hopeful that I will have a completed draft done by the time I get on the plane. Of course, that will be just a first draft. The draft will go through my critique group, and at least one other early reader, and then I’ll get started on the second draft, which is always my favorite part of story-writing. I’ll save why for another post.

I will be blogging at Readercon, of course, though likely only once each day. I have pretty full days. I remember last time I was worn out by 9pm, but that won’t due this time. My first panel is Thursday evening at 8pm, and my second is Friday night at 9pm–and that’s the one I’m running. When I’m not on panels, I’m attending them, or chatting with friends, or checking out stuffin the dealer room, or networking.

Incidentally, I’m only taking the iPad and the keyboard with me. No laptop.

But back to preparations. In addition to the writing, I have some reading to do, both for writing group critiques and my usual Golden Age reading. And tomorrow evening I’ll be participating in the SF Signal Podcast, the topic of which is a good one, and timely at that.

I’m curious: is anyone else who reads this blog that will be there for some or all of the convention? It would be great to see you if you’re there.

My Readercon panels

I got my schedule of Readercon panels the other day. Since the schedule is still tentative, I’ll hold off posting the schedule until it is finalized. But I will tell you that I will be appearing in two panels:

  • We All Produce, We All Consume.¬†Paul Di Filippo, Gemma Files, Robert Killheffer, K.A. Laity (leader), Jamie Todd Rubin. In a 2008 blog post, Leah Bobet connected the dots of increasing media interactivity and increasing independent authorship. Both trends have only escalated in the years since. When every blogger is an author, every commenter is a reviewer, and every work is assumed to be the start of a conversation, how does that change the experience and culture of reading? Was it ever possible to be a passive reader, or are we simply bringing our marginalia and book-flinging out into the light?
  • Capturing the Hidden History of Science Fiction. Eileen Gunn, David G. Hartwell, Fred Lerner, Barry N. Malzberg, Jamie Todd Rubin (leader), Darrell Schweitzer. Science fiction has a rich history. Some of this history has been explored in books like Alva Rogers’¬†Requiem for Astounding. Some of it has been uncovered in recent biographies like Mark Rich’s C.M.¬†Kornbluth and William Pattern’s¬†Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century. And of course, many of the dialogues by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg that appear in the¬†SFWA Bulletin contribute to this history. This hidden history teaches us a lot about our genre. What is the best approach to getting those who were there to tell their stories? Who are the right people to talk to? What does such a history contribute to the field? And how much is best left hidden?

I am moderating the second panel on hidden history. It was a subject that I proposed, in a large part based on my experience with my Vacation in the Golden Age. I’m very excited about that panel, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better group of panelists. I really lucked out on this one.

This will be my third time at Readercon. It will be (I think) the 11th science fiction convention I’ve attended. But it is the first time I’ve ever been a participant and panelist. I’m a little nervous about that. Mostly, thought, I’m just thrilled by the fact that I get to be on a panel with one of my favorite writers ever, Barry Malzberg. How cool is that?

For those interested, the full program description is available. Once the schedule has been finalized, I’ll post the times for these panels. If you’re going to be at Readercon, I look forward to seeing you there in about two and a half weeks!