My schedule for Capclave 2014

October 1, 2014

It’s almost Capclave time! Jim and I really enjoy attending this Washington DC-area con, and since we’ve missed the last two, we’re especially looking forward to this one. It’s taking place on the weekend of October 9-11 at the Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg; the guests of honor are Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black and Genevieve Valentine.

I’ve got a really nice schedule of panels and a reading on Friday evening. If you’re going to be attending, or even just in the area, be sure to come by and say hello!

Here’s my schedule:


6 pm – Frederick
Reading (Not quite sure what I’m going to read yet — any suggestions?)


2 pm – Bethesda
Smart Women Foolish Television
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff, Sherin Nicole (M), Janine Spendlove, Genevieve Valentine, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde
We all have those shows we watch and love and maybe love to pick on because they are our guilty pleasures. We revel in their cliches and inconsistent writing and leaps of logic. Or in their bizarre yet internally consistent alternate realities (even if they’re supposed to be based in the real world). Ahistorical historical shows and why we love their anachronisms.

6 pm – Bethesda
The Suck Fairy and Feet of Clay
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff (M), Natalie Luhrs, James Maxey, Sunny Moraine
What do you do when you reread your beloved childhood classics and find they have been visited by the suck fairy and are now sexist, racist, etc? What do you do when you find out that that author that got you through junior high turns out to have giant size 30 clod-hopping feet of clay or was actually kind of evil? How do we deal with problematic works and authors?


11 am – Frederick
Writing on the Job
Panelists: Carolyn Ives Gilman, Barbara Krasnoff, Sarah Pinsker, Genevieve Valentine
Is it better for a writer to have a non-writing job to save his/her writing energies for fiction or to use writing skills to make a nonfiction living on the idea that any writing improves fiction writing? And when should you quit your day job? Hear writers discuss the relationship between their day job and their writing

Okay, 2014, no more — we’ve lost enough good people

September 27, 2014

The year 2014 has been, so far, a real bastard. There have been too many people lost to death, most too early — some so far before their time that it makes me ashamed.

There was my cousin Jennifer Greene, a wonderful singer and the mother of a vibrant little boy named Ari, who found out she had cancer before her baby was even weaned.

There was the incandescent Margot Adler, one of the most talented and generous spirits it has ever been my privilege to know. With Margot, I’m still in a vague sort of denial and sometimes find myself thinking, “We should call Margot and ask if she wants to meet and see that weird new movie” a second or two before I remember we can’t. (And I still miss her husband John Gliedman, who died several years ago, a friend and colleague of mine.)

And there have been the writers whom I didn’t know well, or didn’t know personally, but whom I admired for what they wrote and who they were — authors such as Lucius Shepard, Jay Lake and now Eugie Foster, who died this morning at the age of 42.

There is nothing that can be said. Losses like these are both sad and incredibly infuriating. All I can do is extend my sympathies to their friends and families, and try to live a life worthy of their memories.

Words into pictures: Illustrations for my stories

September 4, 2014

I recently announced the publication of two stories: “The Waterbug” in Triptych Tales and “Under the Bay Court Tree” in Space and Time. However, while I named the editors and the other writers who appear in those venues, I completely forgot to mention that both stories are illustrated!

Both are black-and-white drawings. “The Waterbug” is illustrated by Wendy Quirt, who does a lovely job in laying out the feel of the story in simple terms (pictured here). “Under the Bay Court Tree” is very ably illustrated by Alfred Klosterman, who also obviously “got” the theme of the story.

Thanks to both — I think it’s really fun to see my words turned into drawings!

Illustration by Wendy Quirt for "The Waterbug"

Illustration by Wendy Quirt for “The Waterbug”

One weekend, two stories!

September 1, 2014

It’s a Barbara double-header! I’m thrilled to announce that I have two stories that have just been published over the Labor Day weekend: One online and one in print.

The first, a short story called “The Waterbug,” has just gone live on a new (and very professionally produced) site called Triptych Tales, produced by Melanie Fogel and Kevin Quirt. Each month they published three stories “that take place in our world, our world with a twist, or our world as it could be in the very near future.”

This month, I share the TripTych stage with Liz Kershaw and David Steffan, whose stories I look forward to reading (probably tonight). It’s all online and free, so drop by.

My other story, “Under the Bay Court Tree,” has just been published in the Summer 2014 issue of Space and Time, under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Hildy Silverman (along with Fiction Editor Gerard Houarner, Poetry Editor Linda Addison, Art Editor Diane Weinstein and Editor Emeritus Gordon Linzner).

Other writers in the issue include Mercurio D. Rivera & E. C. Myers, Charles E. Gannon, Derek Muk, David Hollingworth and J. A. Bradley. It looks like a great issue; I’m really pleased to be part of it.

Both stories take place here and now; “The Waterbug” is reality with a quirk, while “Under the Bay Court Tree” is more straightforwardly fantastical. Either way, I hope you enjoy them.

Sale! “The Waterbug” to Triptych Tales

August 21, 2014

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sold my story “The Waterbug” to a new and very interesting online magazine called Triptych Tales. The site publishes genre/non-genre tales that, according to its description by publishers Melanie Fogel and Kevin Quirt, “take place in our world, our world with a twist, or our world as it could be in the very near future.”

I’ll let y’all know when it’s up and available to read.

A story of two discounts

August 6, 2014

The last time I paid children’s rates for anything was when I was 16, and spending a tedious, uncomfortable hot summer afternoon at my grandmother’s while my parents took my younger brother to the doctor.

My grandmother lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, not too far from Erasmus High School; she had moved there after my grandfather died some years earlier. There was nothing on television (and anyway, her apartment wasn’t air conditioned, so it was very uncomfortable), I knew nobody in the neighborhood, and I was bored in the restless way that teenagers can be.

I wandered the main shopping street, which was practically deserted — perhaps everyone was away at the beach, or perhaps it was a holiday of some sort, I don’t remember. Just remember the discomfort, the boredom, and finally the conviction that the only thing to do was find an air-conditioned movie theater and camp out there for a couple of hours.

I found it, and it was playing the latest horror film, Williard. I had no objection to seeing that — was sort of curious, actually — but I had exactly $1 in my pocket, enough for a half-price ticket, but not enough for an adult ticket.

So I went up to the box office, pushed my dollar bill through to the lady on the other side of the window and said, “One child’s ticket, please.”

She glared sternly at me from her throne in the booth. “How old are you?” she asked suspiciously.

I dropped my eyes and looked abashed.  “I’m almost 12,”  I muttered.  The woman stared at me for another moment and then gave me the ticket.

I really enjoyed that movie.

So on Monday, Jim and I decided we really needed a break and went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. It was a hot, damp evening and the last few weeks had been really difficult.

We drove over to the Sheepshead Bay Cinema, parked, had some rather good fried fish in the small fish restaurant across the way from the theatre, and then walked in. There was only one other couple on line — Mondays seem to be really slow — and when we asked for the tickets (Imax, 3-D, and yes, air-conditioning), the kid on the other side of the plexiglass window stared at us and asked,  “Senior discount?”

We shook our heads, but then Jim asked,  “How old do you have to be for senior discount?”

“Sixty, ” the kid said.

We looked at each other. “Yes,” Jim said.  “Senior discount.”

I really enjoyed that movie.

Readercon 25 report: Wish I were still there

July 16, 2014

Back from Readercon, both physically and emotionally. It went extremely well this year — for myself and, from what I can tell from the few blogs/tweets I’ve seen, for others as well. I said hello to some old friends, made a few new ones, and had a generally good time.

This is a brief rundown of my activities there; sorry if I don’t go into the details, but I’ve got a full schedule catching up after my days off. And apologies to all those whom I didn’t mention and should have!

I was part of several excellent (if I do say so myself) panels: Being an Editor Who Writes (where it was generally concluded that being both can actually be a good thing), Dealing with Discouragement (or how not to scream “This is it! I give up!” every time you get a rejection, something I still have to occasionally remember) and Educated Guesses: Tech Pros Writing SF, in which I was absolutely bowled over by the tech knowledge of the other participants in the panel — as a tech journalist who majored in English Lit & Creative Writing, I felt distinctly outclassed!

My workshop in How to Write for a Living When You Can’t Live Off Your Fiction went very well. I find it is always different, depending both on the other panelists (in this case, Leah Bobet, Adam Lipkin, and last-minute addition Sally Weiner Grotta were all incredibly helpful) and the folks who attend (who were likewise, contributing good info and asking great questions). The time went quickly, and several attendees said (and I agree with them) that having a full track at Readercon on practical issues like freelancing and contracts and agents and the like (such as the panel on Copyright Law and Your Writing, which I meant to attend but unfortunately missed) are an excellent idea.

I took part in two readings: One with my writers group Tabula Rasa (and got to hear wonderful stories from Sabrina Vourvoulias and Justin Key, two very talented writers), and one on Sunday morning, where I read a somewhat truncated version of my yet-unsold story “Sabbath Wine.” Thanks to all those who attended, despite the early hour (I know how hard it is to attend anything before 11 am on a Sunday morning at Readercon!).

I didn’t attend anywhere near the number of panels and readings I had planned (it’s hard to do that, what with stopping and talking to folks in the hallways and taking a half hour here and there to sit outside and check out one of the books I bought). I started the con, though, with a great one on Thursday evening: East, West and Everything Between: A Roundtable on Latin@ Speculative Fiction, which was really interesting and enlightening as well, especially (for me) the discussion of the issues of language; it gave me a few things to think hard about. (Here’s Scott Edelman’s YouTube video.)

When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.

When The Other Is You, a fascinating discussion at Readercon featuring Chesya Burke, Samuel Delany, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Peter Dube, Mikki Kendall, and Vandana Singh.

I also attended readings by the always-wonderful Elizabeth Hand and the equally fine Sabrina Vourvoulias and Danielle Friedman (and A.C. Wise, who shared Danielle’s time). However, I missed the James Morrow reading — dammit! — and several others whom I had wanted to catch. I also caught the panels on The Science of Space Colony Living and Speculative Fiction and World War I, both of which I enjoyed greatly; and the panel on When the Other Is You, which I’ve seen described in several other blogs; my congratulations to the panelists for a fascinating and lively discussion. (Scott YouTubed this one as well.}

The highlight, though, was wandering accidentally into a conference room on Friday night where there was a circle of singers harmonizing on sea chanteys and British & Appalachian folk songs — it was just wonderful to hear, and the kind of just-by-chance event that I really treasure. Singers included (and I’ve snagged some of these names from Carlos Hernandez’s Facebook entry on it) Ellen Kushner, Liz Duffy Adams, Caitlyn Paxson, Amal El-Mohtar, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Patty Templeton. Thank you all.

Other things? On the plus side, I enjoyed wandering from party to party on Saturday night in the function rooms (and apologize to all those on the sixth floors whose parties I never actually got to). The bookstore is always wonderful; I never spend as much time as I’d like in there.

On the negative side, I wish the hotel had seen fit in its redesign to allow for more just-sitting-around space in the lobby, and more sound-deadening material in its bar — it got pretty loud in there and hard to hold a conversation, and that was before the DJ showed up. I also spoke to a lot of folks who had to twist themselves in a variety of knots to try to get to the hotel in the most budget-friendly way possible, and who as a result spent several hours on busses to Boston and then from Boston to the hotel.

On the whole, though, congratulations to everyone who had a part in creating Readercon 25.


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