sartorias: (handwritten books)
. . . is over, and of course, like last time, I'm already trying to figure out how to make it next year. (So far it seems to take four years to save up enough to make the trip, so I can dream at least)

As people peeled off in various directions I was trying to find words to fit to the images and rapid complexity of emotions and insights that makes up a weekend like this.

I began to get a way in when, late last night, I stood outside the con suite as someone I don't know, and doesn't know me, calmly threaded through the knots of chatting people, carrying a box of stuff off somewhere. I thought about how many people I don't know willingly put in hours I cannot count to put together this weekend for a lot of people, including ones like me they don't know. And at one point, when I told someone in a conversation about all the yummy local food choices that I was disappointed that there were no ice cream stores when I'd been looking forward to Minneapolis ice cream for weeks, [livejournal.com profile] mrissa used her magic to rustle up an expedition to an ice cream place at the end of the day. And it was as heavenly as I'd expected--both my hot fudge sundae and the company. The key here is good will.

There is a sense of good will strengthening the keelson of this con, which--given its one track--is a conversation that has become noticeably more inclusive each time I've come. A lot of young readers and writers brought energy and interesting points of view. Newly published writers, unpublished writers, self-published writers, and readers, were all panelists, with lots of audience interaction.

The conversation sometimes doubled back to touch on earlier discussions, something that I get an especial delight in.

My favorite panel was the one on the Tropes of Emotion, which touched on cultural expressions of emotion, brain chemistry, how emotion is depicted in genre, how it's done well and badly, how character develops through emotion, how there are different expectations depending on genre . . .how to make emotions complex, and how to give them the zing of verisimilitude even if everything around is fantastical.

"Truth, Lies, and Meta" was another interesting panel that went into how narration can lie, how and when the fourth wall is broken, and a little on what makes us believe in a world or character. I hope that this will lead to a further panel on narrative voice, and point of view.

Interactive Fiction (gaming) runs parallel to reading and writing, with interesting observations from people who do both. "Empire and Corporation" had interesting people on it, though it kept sliding over the surface of the subjects, never quite diving in. I think because the subjects were too broad; I would have loved to see some discussion of the tensions between the human craving for hierarchy, whatever we call it, and the desire to test that hierarchy.

Implied Ideology and Narrative Convention was another that could have used an entire day to get down below the surface, Large-Scale Structures and Series Planning, Disability in Spec Fic, Writing to Strength and Weakness, all brought out some interesting ideas, flickering by fast.

But that's the nature of having only an hour and a lot of people with ideas. What all these caused were spinoff conversations that one could hold for quite a while, and those were immensely satisfying. It was also interesting to find out where others wished there had been more discussion, and where these intersected with mine--and went in different directions altogether. Doors I hadn't even perceived as doors, opening to tempting paths.

I got a chance to catch up on news with folks I know, but some I wasn't able to catch because time ran out; I met a number of new folks, and of course got a list as long as my forearm of books to check out.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Heh. Couldn't resist that subject header.

I'm here at Fourth Street Fantasy Faire, a one-track convention that is really a long conversation about reading and writing, with lots of spin offs. Terrific start.

But also, it's my turn at the BVC blog, where I talk about the beau ideal and I hope you will, too.

Cons

Jul. 6th, 2015 10:09 am
sartorias: (desk)
Due to an unexpected reprieve I got to attend Westercon, rooming with Kit Kerr, which was great fun. Much writing talk ensued.

The weather was mercifully clement, and the con a great deal of fun. All four of the panels I had proposed were accepted for the program, and three of them went like gangbusters. The fourth, which they didn't put me on for some reason, was apparently a bust--they apparently got sidetracked into wittering about definitions, and then restated the obvious. (I had meant to sit in the audience, but it turned out my daughter wanted to meet up for a meal, so I did that instead.)

Panels that I attended as audience were equally fun. I didn't take notes as my hands were giving me some trouble, and of course a lot of the ideas are vanishing before images, but one thing I retained: in the Tolkien/Jackson panel, someone suggested that if you've never been able to read the Silmarillion all the way through (that would be me), go to the audio book instead. All those names get pronounced for you, and mellifluously.

So I mean to look into that.

In other con news, especially for Oz fans, in three weeks Winkie Con will be held at the same hotel. Last year's con was terrific, and this year's sounds like it's going to be great as well. Unfortunately I can't attend as it will be the same weekend as Mythcon, on Arthuriana, with Jo Walton as GOH. Whose book The Philosopher Kings just came out. I thought it was superlative, though I strongly suggest readers begin with The Just City.

ConDFW

Feb. 16th, 2015 06:45 am
sartorias: (desk)
I'm currently sitting in a very fine hotel in mid-Dallas, waiting impatiently for the sun to come up in case I might get to see some rain.

My train has been delayed (bad weather up in Illinois?) so I have a couple extra hours to kill. Will use that for some reading and maybe writing, but first a con report.

I've sat here for some time contemplating this. I know that superlatives make a boring report, so let me say at the outset that I had a terrific time. The Texas fannish community really knows how to put on a con, and how to treat people well.

Next year's guests will be John Scalzi and Seanan Macguire; when their names were announced, the audience of course fizzed with excitement. Whereas Rachel and I were kind of default guests--their invited guests had not been able to come, so we were invited fairly late in the game. I've been a default GOH twice before, once here some years ago, and once for a Mythcon, when they had not one but a couple of GOHs have to back out for various reasons. At these pretty much no one had read anything of mine, and were pretty indifferent to my presence. So I regarded myself as a regular con goer, except that my way was paid. (And at Mythcon gave a talk.)

So my baseline has been a friendly indifference with a side order of "Who are you again?" This weekend I was surprised and delighted to discover some people who had read and liked my books. It was interesting to me how different people responded strongly to specific things but not others: one woman likes Exordium most of all, and hastily added that she liked the Inda books, too. Someone else made it kind of clear that she did not care at all for Exo, or the adult fantasy, but wanted more of the stuff for little kids. Another person liked the Dobrenica series, but seemed to be indifferent to other world stories.There were several who thought I'd only written Crown Duel had brought tattered, much-read copies to sign.

Interactions with fellow writers are always interesting, and I bought a bunch of books by people I either hadn't heard of before or who I hadn't tried.

I think the best part of the con for me was talking to writers at various levels along the path, and sharing experience. This was not about my stories, but about discoveries, sometimes self-discoveries, as a writer, and how to self-edit, how to handle critique, pitfalls of self-publishing (and here Rachel had excellent advice--she's a far savvier marketer than I am and has been doing really well with her Werewolf Marines; of course it helps that she's a really good writer).

This is where all the stupid mistakes I've made can be shared so that others won't make them, and all that I have painfully and slowly learned as a visual writer (and am still learning) can be articulated to speed someone along the path. Win/win feels good. There's a two page workshop that I do that is always a hit; it was here, too. I run it as a medium, not an authority--everyone participates but with their eyes shut except for the author of the piece (no names given) which gives them a chance to separate self from text while seeing others respond to text.

Anyway, it was a wonderful weekend, and so back to work!

Stuff

Sep. 2nd, 2014 07:36 pm
sartorias: (Fan)
[livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and I are going to be GOHs at ConDFW Feb. 13-15, 2015.

On my way to yoga, while waiting for the light to change, I shot the following pic of some bright flowers in the island dividing the street. I have no idea what they are (names of stuff seldom stick in my head) but they sure are bright!

Bright plants
sartorias: (Fan)
Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija and I drove down to San Diego to meet our agent at a lunch thrown by The Gotham Group. It was held in a restaurant two blocks from Comicon.

It took a little over an hour to drive down, and two hours to park. The only reason we did eventually park was because my daughter's roommate, who works at one of the hotels, came down to drive us into the employee lot of the hotel he works at, to take his space until he showed up for work.

The hotel is right there, so we walked from it to the restaurant, some of our walk carrying us past the Comicon site. Thousands of people, thousands all moving along and having a good time. The people-watching opportunities outside of what I am sure is a stunning con full of great stuff was in itself a whole lot of fun. There were some great costumes, and some not-so-great but still full of the old-days verve (like a guy dressed as some sort of warrior with a gigantic futuristic gun rather obviously made of toilet paper roles, duct tape, spray paint, and plastic bits). A gorgeous woman in black with black wings feathered in what looked to me like raptor patterns.

Young families with their babies in costumes--at one point a man walked by one of these family groups whose laughing, chubby round infant was dressed as Batman, and he said, "That's the happiest baby-Bat I've ever seen."

Another thing often not heard, "Pardon my dinosaur leg," as disassembled bits of a gigantic tyrannosaurus rex were toted by.

An astounding number of hawkers, including some earnest young fundamentalist Christian youths urging people thru megaphones to choose between God and Satan. They didn't threaten or harass anyone, and no one bothered them--paradigms brushing past one another, not colliding, as alas is happening so grievously in other parts of the world.

I would have tried to get pix but the crowds were so intense there was no getting back far enough to snap a shot, and it was also pretty hot.

I don't see anyone arguing anymore, but Comicon serves as a fine reminder that SF and F are alive and well in all media.

ConDor

Mar. 22nd, 2014 07:31 am
sartorias: (Fan)
At ConDor.

Yesterday I was on three panels, two concerning romance, and all of the panelists were women. (Five on each, with some repeats.) There is something especially exhilarating being on panels with smart, well-read women. In each case, the hour sped by, and the talk went on to the last second.

I couldn't help but be sorry that some guys didn't volunteer for at least the second romance one, which was about sustaining relationships in books/series. Romance in the 21st century seems still to be relegated to the female, which is so odd when you consider that the great romances of the eighteenth century (and most of them came out right at mid-century) were all written by men. 1749 was a remarkable year for influential novels, all written by men, and all about gender dynamics, let us say. Clarissa is not a "romance" in the sense that we now understand the word.

The one panel not specifically about romance was on Victoriana and steampunk, and a ton of fun.

In the department of Petty Monkey Being Petty: for days I promised myself room service for breakfast. I would not look at the cost compared to walking somewhere and being thrifty. A meal that I did not have to cook or clean up after, while I luxuriated here, ahhhh! After which I shall sink into a bathtub, a real bathtub! But I forgot my perfume. A bath isn't a true bath without that one drop.

I have only two panels today, but a bunch of people I hope to catch up with. Looking forward to the day.
sartorias: (Fan)
Over here, Gillian Polack is celebrating the Australian Women's History month. When she mentioned wanting to look at fandom, in particular women in fandom, and the influence they had . . . well, I typed up some old memories, which got me going on a side topic. So I sent her the first part of the riff, and the rest will be done next month.

And then there is the last of my three quick looks at rereading the first three O'Brian books, here. On looking for the author in the book.

Yesterday I drove down for the day to ConDor in San Diego. Had a terrific time--very lively panels, on Quest as a trope in fantasy, the pluses and minuses of YA protagonists, and on the popularity of the Victorian era in genre--why. Two of them I moderated as a last-minute thing, one I sat in the audience. Met some young writers--that was a lot of fun. Ended up buying copies of all their books.

Mythcon

Aug. 8th, 2012 08:39 am
sartorias: (mythopoeic triskelion)
The Mythies in Berkeley are mostly long-experienced fans who've been involved with numerous cons (Lisa Deutsch Harrigan has served for decades as treasurer for the Society, Mythcons, and other cons, an overlooked but crucially necessary job), and so they can be counted upon to offer a great weekend. As they did.

The weather cooperated--cloudy and cool the first day, positively misty the second. Long sleeves in August! What a delight! One of the outstanding aspects was the music: the first night the troupe Broceliande played. They did a mix of medieval, Mediterranean, and Tolkien-related material on a variety of instruments.

The second night we had taiko drummers! I've wanted to see taiko drumming in person for a long time, but hadn't yet. Not only did we get to hear them (and feel them--I sat up close so I could feel the resonance through bone and muscle) but at the end they permitted anyone who wished to learn a song come up and play. I volunteered. Though I messed up (taiko drum songs lead with the right, which is utterly unnatural for so severe a leftie as me) and part of the play was to toss the sticks in the air to catch the other end, which sounds simple, but in fact caused my arthritic joints to tweak unmercifully, but I didn't care because the overall experience was fun.

There was more music, and theater (I got to participate in the readers' theater production of one of Lord Dunsany's plays, and I got a part in the Not Ready for Mythcon players, who do unrehearsed spoofs each year, held together by narration that is always written during the course of the con), excellent panels, and papers.

I didn't actually get to any papers--I'd circled a bunch, but got involved in conversations, and on the last day, when something was due in New York that day, the last chunk of it landed in my email box that morning, so I had to spend the morning holed up in the room working. But I heard snips of conversation about the papers. One of the nice things about Mythcons held at universities is the dining hall experience, just about guaranteeing good conversation at meals.

My main panel was with Lisa Goldstein, Malinda Lo, Susan Palwick, and Lex Fajardo, who is doing the Kid Beowulf comics. We talked about the use of myth and fairy tales, and eastern and western (and other) myths, in fiction.

The guests of honor were great choices this year. First to speak was Father Murphy, who talked, with illos, on the stave churches of northern Europe. Go ahead and look at the amazing illos, though the wikipedia link doesn't seem to show some of the remarkable churches with the huge dragon heads at roof points. He spoke about the Christianization of the north through the melding of myths--fascinating.

Malindo Lo spoke on the process by which she became a writer, also with a charming set of illos. One of the many interesting things she mentioned was her grandmother, Ruth Earnshaw, who had gone from America to China, where she met and married a Chinese man--and then Mao closed off China for a number, of years, as we know. Ruth Earnshaw Lo wrote about her experiences in In the Eye of the Typhoon: An American Woman in China during the Cultural Revolution. Malinda also talked about her books, concluding with some hints about her next, Adaptation.

And so to home, which was actually pleasant. The way to deal with the long boring stretch of highway five is to have a companion or two to talk to, or to sit in quiet reverie with, as the spirit moves. I was lucky enough to have that, and so the trip was easy and not the least toilsome, as driving it alone can be.

Next year's Mythcon will be held in Michigan.

Mythcon

Aug. 8th, 2012 08:39 am
sartorias: (mythopoeic triskelion)
The Mythies in Berkeley are mostly long-experienced fans who've been involved with numerous cons (Lisa Deutsch Harrigan has served for decades as treasurer for the Society, Mythcons, and other cons, an overlooked but crucially necessary job), and so they can be counted upon to offer a great weekend. As they did.

The weather cooperated--cloudy and cool the first day, positively misty the second. Long sleeves in August! What a delight! One of the outstanding aspects was the music: the first night the troupe Broceliande played. They did a mix of medieval, Mediterranean, and Tolkien-related material on a variety of instruments.

The second night we had taiko drummers! I've wanted to see taiko drumming in person for a long time, but hadn't yet. Not only did we get to hear them (and feel them--I sat up close so I could feel the resonance through bone and muscle) but at the end they permitted anyone who wished to learn a song come up and play. I volunteered. Though I messed up (taiko drum songs lead with the right, which is utterly unnatural for so severe a leftie as me) and part of the play was to toss the sticks in the air to catch the other end, which sounds simple, but in fact caused my arthritic joints to tweak unmercifully, but I didn't care because the overall experience was fun.

There was more music, and theater (I got to participate in the readers' theater production of one of Lord Dunsany's plays, and I got a part in the Not Ready for Mythcon players, who do unrehearsed spoofs each year, held together by narration that is always written during the course of the con), excellent panels, and papers.

I didn't actually get to any papers--I'd circled a bunch, but got involved in conversations, and on the last day, when something was due in New York that day, the last chunk of it landed in my email box that morning, so I had to spend the morning holed up in the room working. But I heard snips of conversation about the papers. One of the nice things about Mythcons held at universities is the dining hall experience, just about guaranteeing good conversation at meals.

My main panel was with Lisa Goldstein, Malinda Lo, Susan Palwick, and Lex Fajardo, who is doing the Kid Beowulf comics. We talked about the use of myth and fairy tales, and eastern and western (and other) myths, in fiction.

The guests of honor were great choices this year. First to speak was Father Murphy, who talked, with illos, on the stave churches of northern Europe. Go ahead and look at the amazing illos, though the wikipedia link doesn't seem to show some of the remarkable churches with the huge dragon heads at roof points. He spoke about the Christianization of the north through the melding of myths--fascinating.

Malindo Lo spoke on the process by which she became a writer, also with a charming set of illos. One of the many interesting things she mentioned was her grandmother, Ruth Earnshaw, who had gone from America to China, where she met and married a Chinese man--and then Mao closed off China for a number, of years, as we know. Ruth Earnshaw Lo wrote about her experiences in In the Eye of the Typhoon: An American Woman in China during the Cultural Revolution. Malinda also talked about her books, concluding with some hints about her next, Adaptation.

And so to home, which was actually pleasant. The way to deal with the long boring stretch of highway five is to have a companion or two to talk to, or to sit in quiet reverie with, as the spirit moves. I was lucky enough to have that, and so the trip was easy and not the least toilsome, as driving it alone can be.

Next year's Mythcon will be held in Michigan.
sartorias: (Default)
Fourth Street Fantasy Faire is coming up in another month. I went last year and had such a wonderful time I am still processing some of the conversations I had.

I meant to return, but the usual unexpected outgoes of cash were not matched by incoming, so I have my sights set on next year. But meantime, if you are able to travel, or if you live in the Mpls Wisconsin area, I can't recommend this con enough.
sartorias: (Default)
Fourth Street Fantasy Faire is coming up in another month. I went last year and had such a wonderful time I am still processing some of the conversations I had.

I meant to return, but the usual unexpected outgoes of cash were not matched by incoming, so I have my sights set on next year. But meantime, if you are able to travel, or if you live in the Mpls Wisconsin area, I can't recommend this con enough.
sartorias: (Default)
Books that might have been.

Anyone thinking of going to Sirens now is the time to suggest programming you'd love to give, take part in, or see!

The spring and summer con season is definitely fired up. There is still plenty of time to join Mythcon if you love talking books and fantasy for a weekend. With music and art and all kinds of creative stuff happening as well. There's even a discussion group for it over at Goodreads.
sartorias: (Default)
Books that might have been.

Anyone thinking of going to Sirens now is the time to suggest programming you'd love to give, take part in, or see!

The spring and summer con season is definitely fired up. There is still plenty of time to join Mythcon if you love talking books and fantasy for a weekend. With music and art and all kinds of creative stuff happening as well. There's even a discussion group for it over at Goodreads.
sartorias: (Default)
Worldcon is coming up, and a lot of new writers, or writers who've been around a while and who've found times bumpy due to the economy, are going to be anxious about using this opportunity because received wisdom says that cons are for:

making deals

meeting editors and agents

and most of all

selling your work.


Steve Miller passed along this link that may be of help.

Scalzi's thing about behavior on panels is spot on--I don't know of any fan who has been impressed by the Tower of Books in front of the writer on a panel, or the writer who doesn't discuss so much as wait for their chance to grab the mic and say "In MY books . . ." and speechify for as long as they can get away with.

The short version can probably be summed up as: nobody likes a hard sell, whether it's cars, or insurance, or books.
sartorias: (Default)
Worldcon is coming up, and a lot of new writers, or writers who've been around a while and who've found times bumpy due to the economy, are going to be anxious about using this opportunity because received wisdom says that cons are for:

making deals

meeting editors and agents

and most of all

selling your work.


Steve Miller passed along this link that may be of help.

Scalzi's thing about behavior on panels is spot on--I don't know of any fan who has been impressed by the Tower of Books in front of the writer on a panel, or the writer who doesn't discuss so much as wait for their chance to grab the mic and say "In MY books . . ." and speechify for as long as they can get away with.

The short version can probably be summed up as: nobody likes a hard sell, whether it's cars, or insurance, or books.
sartorias: (Default)
Michelle Sagara sounds off about panelist behaviors--read all the way down. That last one especially made me wonder if these points go for bloggers, too?
sartorias: (Default)
Michelle Sagara sounds off about panelist behaviors--read all the way down. That last one especially made me wonder if these points go for bloggers, too?

Musing

Jul. 9th, 2011 12:03 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Up in the rewoods for a surprise road trip for a family member. Just got back from a hike in clear, cool air, smelling of redwoods and cedar and pine, not of dust.

Checked out the readercon panel descriptions and outside of employing the phrase "touching the puppets," which seems uselessly inexact (and faintly salacious), they look awesome. I am hoping for many con reports next week--and I wonder if maybe there might be some interest in [livejournal.com profile] bittercon for those of us At Home.

Question: why, when there is an entire house full of lovely cat places, does this lovely but enormous black cat insist that the only place to sit is on the small bit of my gut between the laptop and me?

Musing

Jul. 9th, 2011 12:03 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Up in the rewoods for a surprise road trip for a family member. Just got back from a hike in clear, cool air, smelling of redwoods and cedar and pine, not of dust.

Checked out the readercon panel descriptions and outside of employing the phrase "touching the puppets," which seems uselessly inexact (and faintly salacious), they look awesome. I am hoping for many con reports next week--and I wonder if maybe there might be some interest in [livejournal.com profile] bittercon for those of us At Home.

Question: why, when there is an entire house full of lovely cat places, does this lovely but enormous black cat insist that the only place to sit is on the small bit of my gut between the laptop and me?

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