Coming up: Lunacon

Lunacon is a science fiction convention that has been around for a very long time — according to its website, the first one was in 1957 and had 65 attendees. It’s happening again next weekend (April 7-9) with a nice bunch of NY-area writers and fans (including me).

It’s in Tarrytown, NY — a day trip from NYC –so if you want to (and can), drop by the Westchester Marriott and say hi. Here are the panels where you can find me:

Friday

The Politics of Villains and Monsters
Grand Ballroom G
7:30 PM
The villains of speculative fiction (and fiction in general) often reflect the politics of their own times. What are examples of this in the past and how do writers go about avoiding this now? Who are “today’s” villains showing up in SF now and from the past?

Saturday

Writers Groups
101 Hudson
12:00 PM
Why join a Writers Group? What types of Writers Groups exist? How are they organized? What groups are in the tri-state area? Audience questions welcome.

Reading: The Ladder-Back Chair
Dutchess Reading
2:00 PM
I thought I’d read the story that’s appearing in the current issue of Mythic Delirium.

My Character Is Not Me
Hudson
4:00 PM
How do you write a character who is completely different from you? Different cultures, different perspectives, different life experiences… And how do you make that character who is so unlike you someone your readers can accept?

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Upcoming conventions

Although I don’t attend a lot of conventions, I actually have two coming up within the next couple of months.

First up is next weekend: I’ll be doing a reading and appearing in a panel on women in SF at Heliosphere con on Saturday, March 11th in Tarrytown, NY. Heliosphere is a brand new con that will be taking place over the entire weekend; unfortunately, I’ll only be able to be there on Saturday, but if you’ve got the time, you should definitely check it out.

And then, on April 7-8, I’ll be attending Lunacon 2017, also in Tarrytown (that must be a really hoppin’ community!). Lunacon has been around for a very long time, and Jim & I used to go every year. We’ve neglected it in recent years, but we will be attending it this year at its new digs — only Friday and Saturday, since it is unfortunately scheduled a bit close to Passover. But if you want to come by and spot me wandering in the halls, stop and say hi!

Oh, and a final thank you to Bill Shunn for inviting me to read yesterday (Saturday, March 4th) at the monthly Line Break reading series, which takes place at Q.E.D. in Queens. It was a huge amount of fun.

Thanks for a nice weekend at Capclave

Capclave dodoJust a brief note to thank all the folks at Capclave who made the weekend so nice.

There are way too many to mention here. I would definitely start with our good friends Ben Zuhl, Lowry Taylor and their son Will, who always act as very gracious hosts when we come to the D.C. area.

Tom Doyle, who not only did yeoman service on the Linguistics in SF panel (along with C.S. MacCath and Lawrence Schoen, while I played moderator), but also gave a wonderfully dramatic reading from his upcoming novel and sat in on my own reading. (And who, along with a gentleman whose name I did not note down, was gracious enough to listen attentively while ignoring the workmen setting up tables at the back of the room.)

The other folks on my panels, such as Lawrence, Brian Lewis and Sarah Pinsker, who kept the panel Your Day Job As Your Muse going, despite the fact that it took place in the first timeslot of the con, before most people had gotten there. (And an extra thanks to Sarah, whose reading of her lovely short story I attended). The wonderfully informative panel on Crowdfunding and Alternative Funding for Writers, which I also moderated and which featured Bill Campbell, Neil Clarke and Alex Shvartsman. (And an extra thanks to Alex for the breakfast ticket!)

And finally, all the people, too numerous to mention, who chatted, listened, spoke on panels, or who just hung out and made it a really nice weekend (including, of course, the organizers). My apologies to all those whose names I haven’t mentioned. Hope to see you again soon.

Starting to look forward to Capclave: Here’s my list of panels.

Capclave dodoCapclave, the convention held each year by the Washington Science Fiction Association, is coming up. Jim and I like to attend because it’s a really nice East Coast literary con and because we have friend who both attend and live near there. Capclave starts Friday, October 9th and runs through Sunday, Oct. 11th at the Hilton Washington DC in Gaithersburg, MD.

If you’re going to be around the area and plan to come, here are the panels/readings I’m currently scheduled for (I’m told this is a beta schedule, so things may change). Drop by and say hello!

Friday 4:00 pm:
Your Day Job As Your Muse
Salon A
Panelists:Barbara Krasnoff, Sarah Pinsker, Lawrence M. Schoen
SF writers who work for NASA have it easy. What about the rest of us? How does your day job influence what you write when you are off the clock? Do you base characters on coworkers? Turn daydreams of being the corporate hero into your creative works?

Friday 5:00 pm:
Crowdfunding & Alternative Funding for Writers
Bethesda
Panelists:Bill Campbell, Neil Clarke, Barbara Krasnoff, Alex Shvartsman
Traditionally, publishers gave authors an advance on royalties in exchange for the completed manuscript. Today, some writers are receiving alternate revenue streams including crowdfunding of anthologies and novels in advance by the public, serialization in which the author releases a chapter (or story) as long as readers continue to fund it, and electronic self-publishing. What methods have you used and what works? What new methods do you see in the future? How will this change the creation of books?

Friday 7:30 pm:
Reading
Frederick

Saturday 4:00 pm:
Linguistics In SF
Bethesda
Panelists:Tom Doyle, Barbara Krasnoff, C.S. MacCath, Lawrence M. Schoen
What are some of the creative ways writers use language and linguistics in their fictions? How can language be used as a weapon or to unite different peoples? How can writers portray linguistic differences in a way that is not condescending?

What — and who — are genre conventions for?

Just got back from Capclave, a somewhat modest but very active science fiction/fantasy convention in the Washington DC area. Looking at it as sort of a microcosm of fan-run conventions (I’m not going to count events such as ComicCon, which are run by commercial entities — those are larger and different, and somebody else can write about those), I started to wonder: What is more important to the attendees? The panels? The parties? Or just the ability to hang out and socialize with new and old friends, and with writers whom you’ve always wanted to meet?

In my case, it’s a combination of all three. I love being on panels, and exchanging views with the smart, talented people I meet on them (and yes, people on those three Capclave panels I sat on, I mean you). I also love sitting in the audience, relaxing and listening and making notes. And I like just hanging out in the bar or the lobby and chatting with folks I only see once or twice a year (and whom I otherwise might not have the chutzpah to approach because I’ve been reading their stuff for gawd knows how long).

Other people I’ve talked to come just for the parties, or just for the panels, or just for the book signings, or just for the evening events. In fact, I’ve read the blogs of people who went to the same convention I went to — say, Readercon — and have come away with the impression that we attended two completely different conventions.

Which, I’m beginning to think, is the hallmark of a good genre con — a place where a variety of people get together, find each other, enjoy themselves the way they like to, and then leave feeling they’ve accomplished something — either by learning something new, or meeting somebody new, or hanging out with friends, or a combination of all three. (Of course, some business is sometimes done as well…)

A con can’t necessarily be all things to all people, but it can be different things to different people. And that’s a good thing.

Why six people make a successful reading

I had a reading at Capclave yesterday at the dinnertime hour of 6 pm. About 6 people showed up – and I consider it a success. Why?

Because those six came. They could have hung out with friends in the hallway or checked out a panel or gone out to dinner.

Because nobody walked out. They all stayed and listened.

Because at least one of the six complimented me on the story afterwards.

Because at least one of the six tweeted about the story afterwards.

For somebody from out of town (Capclave is a Washington DC con) , who sells perhaps two to four stories a year, I consider that a successful reading.

My schedule for Capclave 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:

Friday

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

Saturday

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?

Sunday

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