sartorias: (desk)
So I'm here, waiting for friends to come back from seeing a play in order to pick me up. I'm early, and we all expected me to be late. Like my arrival at Chicago--I had a perfect afternoon planned with interesting people, but the train in was so late due to an engine blow up at Grand Junction and an engine shuffle in Denver that I got hustled off one train, through one door and out another to get on the next train.

But such hassles are small, and maybe I can see them on the flip side of my trip.

Sirens was excellent, as always. Here's the sort of sunset I saw each morning from the window:

sunrise

The first day, I walked into the hotel lobby, and there was a conversation about books!

talking books

A day or so later, same lobby, writers writing:

writers writing

Much conversation about books, writing, the business (and down) side of publishing, indie publishing, process narration and modes of introducing data (I've been figuring some stuff out about that lately) and my sessions went well, especially the one on fan language, I think, where I made up some skit ideas for people to try. It's the sort of thing that can bomb horribly, or go okay, and the energy seemed to be okay.

Good thing, all this young talent. Weird thing, I was one of the oldest there, if not the oldest. So freaking weird, because unless I accidentally look in the mirror (and I try not to), I do NOT feet old inside. But people sure see me as old, because I get Old People Looks.

Some cool costumes from the Insurgents' Ball:

Two brown coat sisters from Firefly:

Firefly brown coats

And a pirate:

pirate

I enjoyed all three guest of honor talks. Not surprising, as I really like the work of Kate Elliott and Rae Carson, but the speech that I found most fascinating was Yoon Ha Lee's. He is totally the opposite type of writer from me--he is audial, poetic, but not visual. I couldn't write a poem I would show anyone, I'm intensely visual, and I don't hear the sound of the text, except as read in voices, either the writer's or some actor. Mostly text (especially my own) functions as hypertext, evoking image, so the struggle is to see the actual words I wrote and make them better.

Moon's approach is so diametrically different from mine that I kept shooting sparks of ideas from his words, even though I have no experience in gaming. (He used gaming as a talk platform and related it to writing.)

Last day, a writing friend kindly and generously spent down time with me, drove me to the beautiful Denver train station, and most generous of all, brought me a dog because I was in serious dog withdrawal. This dog, like mine, is a rescue from a miserable situation.

Gambit and his human:

Gambit

Gambit was very excited by the appearance of prairie dogs. They pop up from their tunnels and make these cricket noises, their tails jerking on each chirp. I wonder if those holes all over connect in an underground city. One let me approach s-l-o-w-l-y to surprisingly close:

praairiedog

Then zip! Down the hole he went!

And so, east . . . and tomorrow I hope to finish in Vermont, leaf peeping, and talking books and writing.
sartorias: (desk)
I'm at Sirens, having had an excellent time. This con is 99% women, with a friendly, inclusive atmosphere and everywhere you go, talk about books. And writing. As happens when I get into this kind of atmosphere, several insights, and veering between a sharp sense of my own inadequacies and the euphoria of shared delight in reading.

Today's BVC blog post is about forbidden books.
sartorias: (desk)
Fair Winds and Homeward Sail is a very short novel that I wrote for fun. It takes Soppy Croft from Jane Austen's Persuasion and gives her a back story, and also addresses one of my misgivings about the book. (The other one, a major logic flaw, I feel Austen would have fixed if she hadn't died before she could polish this one.) Kindle

I did several Austen things for practice and for relaxation (like, stroke recovery) and those will be bundled up next week.

I also finally was able to get a print edition of |A Stranger to Command in trade, for those half-a-dozen faithful people who kept asking. It turned out really pretty, too.

I arrived in Denver five hours ago, so will begin with a sizable sleep deficit, but I am here! And there was cool weather, and clouds! Commencing soon much writing talk. Train journey enjoyable as always. People met and talked to equally enjoyable, including a group of people who travel around to go on roller coasters.

Potpourri

Apr. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Just did a podcast, a first for me. If I don't sound like too much of a gasbag and a whacktoon, will post link when it goes live.

Sirens is putting out the call for programming. This excellent, excellent con that focuses on women in fantasy draws its programming from its members. If you've ever wanted to organize a panel, present a roundtable discussion, give a demo for any kind of a skill, present a paper--this con will help you make it happen.

Almost done with my bunkerhunker . . . been taking time out for some watching to rest my hands, as well as reading. Will report on reading later, but watching, old movies mainly. I already talked about "It" with Clara Bow. Another interesting one was James Cagney and a young Joan Blondell in FOOTLIGHT PARADE, which is set when talking pictures were still so new that the silent features felt obliged to present "Prologues" (mainly scantily clad dancing girls, with a smattering of Vaudeville). As a piece of Americana during the Depression, it's fascinating.

Again, a film that was fascinating mostly for its setting and also for its gender play was Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan in I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE. At the end of WW II, many studios had discovered their assets frozen, so they packed up and went overseas to shoot films and use up those funds. As a result, we see war torn Europe as a backdrop, in this film of 1948.

It's set in Germany, Heidelberg to be specific, and when you consider that massive cleanup had been taking place for three years, yet how startling the ruins still are, it gives scope to how terrible it was. The story itself has to do with occupational forces, a light-hearted look at the difficulties of a romance between two officers of different nationalities and the red tape involved. So some interesting stuff about gender, and the German is also interesting. I think they used locals--there's a bit where regional differences in German gets some funny byplay--but it was fun and historically interesting.

Potpourri

Apr. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Just did a podcast, a first for me. If I don't sound like too much of a gasbag and a whacktoon, will post link when it goes live.

Sirens is putting out the call for programming. This excellent, excellent con that focuses on women in fantasy draws its programming from its members. If you've ever wanted to organize a panel, present a roundtable discussion, give a demo for any kind of a skill, present a paper--this con will help you make it happen.

Almost done with my bunkerhunker . . . been taking time out for some watching to rest my hands, as well as reading. Will report on reading later, but watching, old movies mainly. I already talked about "It" with Clara Bow. Another interesting one was James Cagney and a young Joan Blondell in FOOTLIGHT PARADE, which is set when talking pictures were still so new that the silent features felt obliged to present "Prologues" (mainly scantily clad dancing girls, with a smattering of Vaudeville). As a piece of Americana during the Depression, it's fascinating.

Again, a film that was fascinating mostly for its setting and also for its gender play was Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan in I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE. At the end of WW II, many studios had discovered their assets frozen, so they packed up and went overseas to shoot films and use up those funds. As a result, we see war torn Europe as a backdrop, in this film of 1948.

It's set in Germany, Heidelberg to be specific, and when you consider that massive cleanup had been taking place for three years, yet how startling the ruins still are, it gives scope to how terrible it was. The story itself has to do with occupational forces, a light-hearted look at the difficulties of a romance between two officers of different nationalities and the red tape involved. So some interesting stuff about gender, and the German is also interesting. I think they used locals--there's a bit where regional differences in German gets some funny byplay--but it was fun and historically interesting.
sartorias: (sirens)
Nalo Hopkinson is going to be third GOH at Sirens--details here.

And this is up in Oregon, much more accessible than Vail, Co.

Sirens is a con that focuses specifically on women in fantasy, and programming encourages attendees to submit panel topics, demonstrations, round table suggestions, papers, any kind of thing you can dream up. It's a fantastic weekend.
sartorias: (sirens)
Nalo Hopkinson is going to be third GOH at Sirens--details here.

And this is up in Oregon, much more accessible than Vail, Co.

Sirens is a con that focuses specifically on women in fantasy, and programming encourages attendees to submit panel topics, demonstrations, round table suggestions, papers, any kind of thing you can dream up. It's a fantastic weekend.

Sirens 2012

Nov. 1st, 2011 07:06 am
sartorias: (sirens)
This wonderful con, focusing on women in fantasy, is moving its venue to the jaw-droppingly beautiful country along the Columbia River next year, here, October 11-14. Previously it was set in Vail, Colorado, a beautiful site, but very hard to get to, and some had problems with being 9,000 feet above sea level. No such problem at the Columbia River location, which apparently is much easier to get to.

Sirens' website here. Next year's theme is "tales retold." Potential presenters are encouraged to focus on existing stories that have been imagined and re-imagined in the fantasy genre. Of course, as always, other presentations related to women as readers and creators of fantasy fiction and art, workshops for readers and writers, academic analyses, roundtable discussions, and fantasy-related afternoon classes are welcome.

Sirens is unusual in that attendees are actively encouraged to be involved in programming--to propose round table discussions, panels, presentations of all kinds. It lends itself to deep discussions on reading, writing, art, the world, with a female point of view.

Sirens 2012

Nov. 1st, 2011 07:06 am
sartorias: (sirens)
This wonderful con, focusing on women in fantasy, is moving its venue to the jaw-droppingly beautiful country along the Columbia River next year, here, October 11-14. Previously it was set in Vail, Colorado, a beautiful site, but very hard to get to, and some had problems with being 9,000 feet above sea level. No such problem at the Columbia River location, which apparently is much easier to get to.

Sirens' website here. Next year's theme is "tales retold." Potential presenters are encouraged to focus on existing stories that have been imagined and re-imagined in the fantasy genre. Of course, as always, other presentations related to women as readers and creators of fantasy fiction and art, workshops for readers and writers, academic analyses, roundtable discussions, and fantasy-related afternoon classes are welcome.

Sirens is unusual in that attendees are actively encouraged to be involved in programming--to propose round table discussions, panels, presentations of all kinds. It lends itself to deep discussions on reading, writing, art, the world, with a female point of view.
sartorias: (Default)
The call for programming, and promise of a scholarship for programmers for Sirens 2011 makes me think about the whole programming thing. Well, 'think' is probably too strong a word for two hours of sleep.

Anyway.I really enjoy convention programming. My guess is, most people who have gone to cons for a long time like to get their fingers into the pie and toss in their own ingredients. It's both fun and interesting putting together panels and watching the discussion spark. Roundtables, too.

One doesn't always get to participate. Most cons, the program is put together by the con committee, and you find out what is on it when you arrive as an attendee. Sirens differs in that the con committee does organize panels and roundtables, but they leave space for attendees to submit papers, roundtables, presentations, panels, or any other kind of event they'd like to share.

I don't get to a lot of cons, but of those I do attend, my favorite programming tends to be offered by the Berkeley Mythies, of which [livejournal.com profile] calimac is a part, and by the group of people around James Hay in San Diego. His group is doing World Fantasy Convention this year, which is very exciting . . . though WFC is touted as the "pro" con, it's had some of the most uninteresting programming I've ever experienced: one year it was nothing but "Best of" lists (without ever defining what they meant by 'best', and often with the same panelists, who unsurprisingly repeated their favorite names at each iteration), or else horror topics, which might be brilliant but I don't have any interest in horror.

Readercon offers some interesting topics, but they seem to limit the panels to the same names. Debbie Notkin's Sercon 1986 was faboo, but I think that was a one-shot--at least, if they did any more, I didn't get to them.

Some say about WFC, But I don't attend WFC for the programming, I go to connect with other pros and editors. And it's true, WFC at its best is a kind of floating party, with spinoffs in various directions--often behind closed doors.

Anyway, I was thinking of the things that make a good panel. Questions that define the topic, offer contrasts, draw out discussion. Sometimes that's difficult if you get a panelist who tends to deliver proclamations from the mount. Or who hijacks a general discussion by the deadly prepositional phrase, "In my story/novel/work . . ." though I hasten to say that some writers carry that off brilliantly, and of course, if the writer is the GOH, presumably people are there to hear that very thing. But too often, the work in question hasn't been sold, so there's no chance to actually discuss a thing no one has read. And what about the times when you have read it, but disagree with the author's fond recognition of their own genius?

Then there's the entirely human tendency to get wildly sidetracked. A good moderator is as important as a good panel topic. A few times, when [livejournal.com profile] bittercon discussions have sprung off panel topics, someone comes in later and says, "Wow, this is way more interesting than the actual panel, which I attended, and all they did was ramble." That calls for preparation and a fund of knowledge about the topic and the ability to impart it coherently, so I guess the third thing, besides good topic and good moderator is picking interesting panelists.
sartorias: (Default)
The call for programming, and promise of a scholarship for programmers for Sirens 2011 makes me think about the whole programming thing. Well, 'think' is probably too strong a word for two hours of sleep.

Anyway.I really enjoy convention programming. My guess is, most people who have gone to cons for a long time like to get their fingers into the pie and toss in their own ingredients. It's both fun and interesting putting together panels and watching the discussion spark. Roundtables, too.

One doesn't always get to participate. Most cons, the program is put together by the con committee, and you find out what is on it when you arrive as an attendee. Sirens differs in that the con committee does organize panels and roundtables, but they leave space for attendees to submit papers, roundtables, presentations, panels, or any other kind of event they'd like to share.

I don't get to a lot of cons, but of those I do attend, my favorite programming tends to be offered by the Berkeley Mythies, of which [livejournal.com profile] calimac is a part, and by the group of people around James Hay in San Diego. His group is doing World Fantasy Convention this year, which is very exciting . . . though WFC is touted as the "pro" con, it's had some of the most uninteresting programming I've ever experienced: one year it was nothing but "Best of" lists (without ever defining what they meant by 'best', and often with the same panelists, who unsurprisingly repeated their favorite names at each iteration), or else horror topics, which might be brilliant but I don't have any interest in horror.

Readercon offers some interesting topics, but they seem to limit the panels to the same names. Debbie Notkin's Sercon 1986 was faboo, but I think that was a one-shot--at least, if they did any more, I didn't get to them.

Some say about WFC, But I don't attend WFC for the programming, I go to connect with other pros and editors. And it's true, WFC at its best is a kind of floating party, with spinoffs in various directions--often behind closed doors.

Anyway, I was thinking of the things that make a good panel. Questions that define the topic, offer contrasts, draw out discussion. Sometimes that's difficult if you get a panelist who tends to deliver proclamations from the mount. Or who hijacks a general discussion by the deadly prepositional phrase, "In my story/novel/work . . ." though I hasten to say that some writers carry that off brilliantly, and of course, if the writer is the GOH, presumably people are there to hear that very thing. But too often, the work in question hasn't been sold, so there's no chance to actually discuss a thing no one has read. And what about the times when you have read it, but disagree with the author's fond recognition of their own genius?

Then there's the entirely human tendency to get wildly sidetracked. A good moderator is as important as a good panel topic. A few times, when [livejournal.com profile] bittercon discussions have sprung off panel topics, someone comes in later and says, "Wow, this is way more interesting than the actual panel, which I attended, and all they did was ramble." That calls for preparation and a fund of knowledge about the topic and the ability to impart it coherently, so I guess the third thing, besides good topic and good moderator is picking interesting panelists.
sartorias: (sirens)
News for SIRENS, October 2011 in beautiful Vail, Colorado.
sartorias: (sirens)
News for SIRENS, October 2011 in beautiful Vail, Colorado.

Sirens!

Jan. 13th, 2011 11:08 am
sartorias: (sirens)
Sirens is firing up to get ready for another excellent gathering at beautiful Vail in October.

Women in fantasy--writing reading--hanging out--talking in a relaxed atmosphere full of smart people--that's what makes it worth the two thousand mile round trip to attend.

Sirens!

Jan. 13th, 2011 11:08 am
sartorias: (sirens)
Sirens is firing up to get ready for another excellent gathering at beautiful Vail in October.

Women in fantasy--writing reading--hanging out--talking in a relaxed atmosphere full of smart people--that's what makes it worth the two thousand mile round trip to attend.

Felicity

Oct. 13th, 2010 06:57 am
sartorias: (Default)
See [livejournal.com profile] coraa's post here and here for our trip so far (in other entries she's got excellent panel and roundtable notes); now we are at Writers' Horse Camp for several more days. Already Rachel and I have gotten two goals met, and I got another met. Cora's written most of a short story. Every time we come to Camp we get tons done, while having fun with the horses--we'll be having a session in about two hours, and tomorrow is the major lesson day. We can wander outside and look at the horses and pet muzzles any time we feel like it. Writers' Camp has become a must for us all.

I don't have a detailed account of Sirens; being me, I managed to leave my notes at the hotel, somehow, though two of us did sweeps after we'd hauled our stuff out. Others are doing a better job than I would; my problem with anything like this is that as soon as I hear an interesting idea, my brain will shut out the following discussion while it ruminates. I use ruminate in the sense of ruminant, that slow chewing.

These cons all develop their own personality, sometimes quickly. Sirens has done that quickly, I think partly because of the unusual setting (a resort, high in the Rockies) and partly because Amy Tenbrink and Hallie Tibbetts, the main organizers, have brought considerable organizational skills to their very specific dream. They wanted a conference that looked at the women's side of literature, specifically fantasy, and in an atmosphere that I define as safe space.

Not all conferences need to be safe space--there is no "should" here--but it happens to be the kind that I like best. At Sirens, when people talked about the books that influenced them most, or got them reading fantasy, you could hear someone mention Dragonlance, or David Eddings, and there was no vestige of a snicker of superiority, no looks exchanged telegraphing Bad taste alert!. No Twilight wars! Readers either love them or leave them, no jousting. Just as there is no green room, so that guests of honor and attendees are mixing all through the day and evening, going off to the comfortable tete-a-tetes established along the con lobby area, or else going off into the beautiful scenery. No A list, no tiers of insiderness that is pretty much inevitable in most human congress, and sometimes built right into an event as a preferred thing.

At the ball, you could dress up any way you loved best, and just dance. Nobody has to wait for a partner.

My writing workshop I believe went exceedingly well. I've gotten that particular workshop idea honed so that the chances are pretty high that writers will go away with a minimum of sting, but a maximum of useful feedback.

The altitude is physically taxing; last night was my first good sleep in six days, and my lips are still chapped in spite of liberal applications of gunk--but the cost is worth the days of talk about the things that excite my mind the most. I didn't do the funky chicken dance at the ball this year, sparing the eyes of fellow attendees, but I did get to do what I love best, brainstorming with another writer. Nothing I said is likely to stick, but that doesn't matter. The fun is in throwing ideas out, and having someone else respond in the same way-and listening to their process. This is the kind of thing I have learned to decently smother at home, as it's sadly boring to non-writers, at least the ones I know. I'm a hapless housekeeper and a loving mom, a sort of clumsy well-meaning member of family and society who has learned over the decades to keep her weird side to a socially tolerated minimum, so chances to unbutton among others also unbuttoned is felicity and bliss.

Felicity

Oct. 13th, 2010 06:57 am
sartorias: (Default)
See [livejournal.com profile] coraa's post here and here for our trip so far (in other entries she's got excellent panel and roundtable notes); now we are at Writers' Horse Camp for several more days. Already Rachel and I have gotten two goals met, and I got another met. Cora's written most of a short story. Every time we come to Camp we get tons done, while having fun with the horses--we'll be having a session in about two hours, and tomorrow is the major lesson day. We can wander outside and look at the horses and pet muzzles any time we feel like it. Writers' Camp has become a must for us all.

I don't have a detailed account of Sirens; being me, I managed to leave my notes at the hotel, somehow, though two of us did sweeps after we'd hauled our stuff out. Others are doing a better job than I would; my problem with anything like this is that as soon as I hear an interesting idea, my brain will shut out the following discussion while it ruminates. I use ruminate in the sense of ruminant, that slow chewing.

These cons all develop their own personality, sometimes quickly. Sirens has done that quickly, I think partly because of the unusual setting (a resort, high in the Rockies) and partly because Amy Tenbrink and Hallie Tibbetts, the main organizers, have brought considerable organizational skills to their very specific dream. They wanted a conference that looked at the women's side of literature, specifically fantasy, and in an atmosphere that I define as safe space.

Not all conferences need to be safe space--there is no "should" here--but it happens to be the kind that I like best. At Sirens, when people talked about the books that influenced them most, or got them reading fantasy, you could hear someone mention Dragonlance, or David Eddings, and there was no vestige of a snicker of superiority, no looks exchanged telegraphing Bad taste alert!. No Twilight wars! Readers either love them or leave them, no jousting. Just as there is no green room, so that guests of honor and attendees are mixing all through the day and evening, going off to the comfortable tete-a-tetes established along the con lobby area, or else going off into the beautiful scenery. No A list, no tiers of insiderness that is pretty much inevitable in most human congress, and sometimes built right into an event as a preferred thing.

At the ball, you could dress up any way you loved best, and just dance. Nobody has to wait for a partner.

My writing workshop I believe went exceedingly well. I've gotten that particular workshop idea honed so that the chances are pretty high that writers will go away with a minimum of sting, but a maximum of useful feedback.

The altitude is physically taxing; last night was my first good sleep in six days, and my lips are still chapped in spite of liberal applications of gunk--but the cost is worth the days of talk about the things that excite my mind the most. I didn't do the funky chicken dance at the ball this year, sparing the eyes of fellow attendees, but I did get to do what I love best, brainstorming with another writer. Nothing I said is likely to stick, but that doesn't matter. The fun is in throwing ideas out, and having someone else respond in the same way-and listening to their process. This is the kind of thing I have learned to decently smother at home, as it's sadly boring to non-writers, at least the ones I know. I'm a hapless housekeeper and a loving mom, a sort of clumsy well-meaning member of family and society who has learned over the decades to keep her weird side to a socially tolerated minimum, so chances to unbutton among others also unbuttoned is felicity and bliss.
sartorias: (Default)
Has been fantastic. Talking about books for a solid weekend (with discursions into fandom,history, publishing, and so forth) is always going to be a winner for me.



Here is a not very good cell snap of Marie Brennan at her launch party last night, for A Star Shall Fall. After that it was to the Sirens ball, at which there were many fairy wings, gorgeous costumes, and much dancing with abandon. I did some dancing, but stupidly wore three layers, so I got overheated fast, and ended up talking story stuff with Ellen Kushner. Win!

Downside, about two and a half hours of sleep, so my brain is just sodden, and we hit the road after breakfast. Upside? We're going to caravan to Arazona with Janni Lee Simner and Larry Hammer, and tomorrow . . . writers horse camp!
sartorias: (Default)
Has been fantastic. Talking about books for a solid weekend (with discursions into fandom,history, publishing, and so forth) is always going to be a winner for me.



Here is a not very good cell snap of Marie Brennan at her launch party last night, for A Star Shall Fall. After that it was to the Sirens ball, at which there were many fairy wings, gorgeous costumes, and much dancing with abandon. I did some dancing, but stupidly wore three layers, so I got overheated fast, and ended up talking story stuff with Ellen Kushner. Win!

Downside, about two and a half hours of sleep, so my brain is just sodden, and we hit the road after breakfast. Upside? We're going to caravan to Arazona with Janni Lee Simner and Larry Hammer, and tomorrow . . . writers horse camp!

Bliss

Oct. 7th, 2010 03:03 pm
sartorias: (Default)
Sirens has yet to begin--which it will later, over dessert and Holly Black speaking to us. So today, after tea and chat, I sat here finishing Tam Lin, and daydreaming about what Thomas and Janet (just finishing her PhD) would do seven years later to Medeous, with this as my backdrop:



This after a three day drive full of glorious scenery and book and writing talk with my two travel companions. Oh yes. My roommate here is [livejournal.com profile] rhinemouse, whose faerie story came out most appropriately today in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I had thought I'd had a surfeit of faerie, but no, this story blasted that thought out the window.

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