Brief post- I’m home

We are home from a lovely and yet tiring vacation in England and Ireland. We had an absolutely amazing time, worldcon was a lot of fun, and we’re (mostly) all home safe.

There are a lot of things I want to blog about, but they’re all very different. It’s been an avalanche of awesome stuff and shit all at the same time. I could write a very long blog post about it, but that would be over 10k words, likely, and the many different things would likely lose people. So I’m going to sum up and blog later about more details. In short, here are the many different things that I will be blogging about soon, in no particular order:

  • During the trip I found out two (unassociated) friends are dead or in the process of dying.
  • I had good meetings at LonCon3. Met amazing fans, and many people I’d only known online. Spent quality time with several authors I admire. Reconnected with old friends.
  • I’m thrilled about the Hugo/Campbell Awards Winners.
  • Hubby had to turn around the day after we got home and take an emergency trip.
  • School starts tomorrow; no time for jetlag, Dr. Jones.
  • I broke my magic spreadsheet streak at 621 days.

So, yeah, lot of different moods there for one blog post. Things are very stressful right now. Hug your loved ones. I’ll be updating and stuff this week.

ISBW LonCon Meetup?

Some people had asked about a LonCon meetup, and I figured I’d pick a time and date. Let’s say 11am, Friday morning. We can meet in the main convention center, I can make a note here or on Twitter of the exact place once I get a sense of the space. If you’re interested in meeting up, leave a comment, that will help me plan!

(Comments are moderated but I will see them all)

TIME CHANGE- I have a meeting at 11 so I am changing the time to 10am, Friday. Hope this works for people. Will post location when I know the spot better. 

My LonCon Schedule

(You may note the regretable absence of a live reading- I had one, but it was scheduled for Monday, and we’re leaving on Monday, so I had to turn that one down and it was too late to get a new slot. Sad face.)

THURSDAY
Literary Beer
15:00 – 16:00, The Bar (ExCeL)

[Comments- My first literary beer! I'm so excited!]

FRIDAY
Autographing 3 – Mur Lafferty
16:30 – 18:00, Autographing Space (ExCeL)

Escape Pod podcast recording
19:00 – 20:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)
Mur Lafferty (M), Alasdair Stuart (M)

[Comments- They wanted a live Escape Pod, so Al Stuart is going to perform the intro and outtro, and I'll be narrating a story.]

SATURDAY
Setting Up Your Comic Book Press: New and Old Models Examined
15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 13 (ExCeL)

A discussion on how setting up a comic book press, or web comic, has never been easier – except for all drawbacks. An examination of the various ways to fund, create, and distribute comics books in the 21st century: including Patreon, Kickstarter, ComiXology, web comics, and good old-fashioned print comics.

Kaja Foglio (M), Mur Lafferty, CE Murphy, Debbie Lynn Smith, Ian Sharman

So You Want To Be a Podcaster
16:30 – 18:00, Capital Suite 8+11 (ExCeL)

Everything you need to know about podcasting in one panel! What sort of microphone do you need? Which editing software is best? How should you plan and structure your show? How do you develop an audience? What are the differences between reading and podcasting fiction and non-fiction? Come, listen, learn — and then create.

Alasdair Stuart (M), Gabrielle de Cuir, Mur Lafferty, Emma Newman, Miquel Codony Bodas

[Comments- Now I have "Do You Want to Build A Snowman" going through my head.]

SUNDAY
Making Old Tropes New: Vampires
11:00 – 12:00, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

The vampire has been defined and redefined a thousand times over the centuries. Today’s vampires range from the sexy and sparkling to the dessicated and gothic. Does the evolution of the vampire speak to its enduring attraction? Why is it a continually recycled myth? How have you used the vampire in a new and interesting way, and why did you make that choice?

Alys Sterling (M), Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Mur Lafferty, Marianna Leikomaa, Kim Newman

So grim. Much serious. Wow.
15:00 – 16:30, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Science fiction and fantasy have a long history of both comic writing and essentially light-hearted adventures. However, more and more it seems authors want to take themselves seriously, focusing more on the darker elements of story telling. Is genre too po-faced outside the work of certain specifically ‘comedy’ writers? Why do so many writers steer clear of trying to be funny?

Ellen Klages (M), Tanya Huff, Mur Lafferty, Darren Nash, Connie Willis, Simon R Green

[Comments- Dear 30-year-old Mur: whatever it is, don't worry. You'll be on a humor panel with Connie Willis someday. O_O]

Weathering the bizarre post-RT shitstorm

At 6:15 yesterday morning, I boarded an airport shuttle with my friend Ursula. I was tired. Worn out from the RT Booklover’s Convention and lots of walking in NOLA. I was surprised and pleased to see my local friend Nan on the shuttle. As I sat down, she said, “How was your RT?”

I said, “It was Ursula.”

Now, see, I had the following thought in my tired head, I should introduce Nan to Ursula. I’m not sure if they know each other. That’s polite. It’s good to be polite pre-dawn, otherwise we become barbarians. Wait. Nan asked me a question. I should answer that first. I’ll say, “It was fine, thanks. By the way, do you know Ursula?” But the brain got short-circuited and I mixed my messages because I was thinking one thing while trying to address something else. So I said, “It was Ursula.”

Common, forgivable mistake, right?

There’s a shitstorm going on now in the wake of the Romantic Times Booklover’s Convention.* As an attendee and as someone who was at the Giant Book Fair on Saturday, I’m very confused about this storm.

Facts:

  1. The Book Fair had two rooms. One for authors published by publishing houses and one for indie (self-pub) authors. The indie author room was called “The Indie Author Room.” I think our room was called the “Published Author” room, or something more descriptive and less offensive. Ursula even mentioned how diplomatic it was.**
  2. The books were sold with two different business plans. Publishers give bookstores a returns program, so if they don’t sell books, they can return them. Indie authors can’t offer the same perk. So RT purchased their pub house books from distributors and told indie authors they could sell on consignment. I wasn’t in the indie author room, so I don’t know too many details about this, but it’s broken down here in this post by Courney Milan.
  3. The fact no one is talking about- RT gave away several identifying badge ribbons. I received one that said “Published Author.” Another one I saw several people wearing was “Aspiring Author.” People weren’t forced to wear these. Aspiring wasn’t a derogatory term. Aspiring also didn’t mean indie.

My theory: A harried volunteer – RT is a HUGE convention, and the volunteers often seemed frustrated or confused – saw someone’s “Aspiring Author” ribbon, got that phrase stuck in their head, and instead of directing someone to the “indie author room” instead said, “aspiring author” room.

This is just a theory. But I was there, and I never once heard about this “aspiring author” room although the indie room was mentioned many times over the loudspeaker. Still, word has gotten out, and the rumor mill is going strong (fueled in part by Hugh Howey) about how horrible RT is for treating indie self-pub authors as “aspiring.” Civil rights terms are coming up in boggling misappropriation, even.

SHOULD the pub authors and the indie authors have been placed together? Probably. We certainly weren’t separated based on popularity or books sold; I would bet cash money that a lot of the indie authors sold more books than I did. They had their fans, their books were in demand.

COULD the authors have been placed together? Frankly, with the very confusing setup and the nightmare lines that were already there, I think mixing the two groups would have made everything so much worse.

So the real question here is, was there a way to keep both authors in the same room? Honestly, no, our room was full to “Oh god I hope there isn’t a fire” with 200 authors and more fans. Could the group have been separated by A-L authors in one room and M-Z in the other? That might make sense. But there’s still the problem of the consignment vs bookstore-provided books. The “let the cashier figure it out” isn’t an option, trust me when I say these lines were hellishly long. It took hours for some people to get through.

(Course I did wonder why they just didn’t have it like an SF convention with one big dealer room open the whole con instead of four intense hours, where the author drops by the booth when she can, but that’s another story.)

There is something to talk about here, but focusing on a slip of one volunteer’s tongue and stirring a shitstorm of WE ARE NOT RESPECTED11!!11!!!! is not the way to do it. I’m not saying this is a tone argument, I’m saying this is misinformation that is getting a hell of a lot more attention than the truth is. It’s heavily distracting from the real issue of “is there a way to mix the two groups in an efficient way that’s good to the authors AND the poor fans already so patient to wait in hell-lines?”

*Tiny, shameful aside – is anyone else glad it’s not SFF that’s the genre-of-shitstorm-focus this week?

**Ursula and I are both hybrid publishers.

 

Update on recording

I recorded a show this week, and discovered the audio file got corrupted. i have to record again, which is sad-making. I’ll try to get it done this weekend and struggle back into a regular schedule.

This week I went to Busch Gardens with the kiddo, where we discovered that people do not want to go to an amusement park when there is the threat of rain, even if it’s lovely and mild, but if it’s 40 degrees and sunny, they will go in droves. We preferred the sort of rainy day. That is, until it started raining really hard.

We stayed at a nice hotel in Colonial Williamsburg, but that part of the state is strange, with few restaurants that aren’t attached to the historical area (and therefore packed.) The hotel restaurant was in a separate building (not a big deal unless it’s raining like crazy and 40 degrees.) and didn’t do room service.

The amusement park was fun, but the unexpected fun we had was at Colonial Williamsburg where we heard about this spy game they had for kids. Codes and cyphers and secret meetings with actors in town! We got all the information and went on our merry way. The letter you get starts with how revolution is starting, only Williamsburg is full of British sympathizers and they need to find people who are loyal the the rebels’ cause.

We got a blue bandana to wear, which would let the other couriers and people know who we were. Excited to play, we started out. Then we realized that Williamsburg was packed, completely packed with people playing this game. How were we going to have a secret meeting with the courier when hundreds of people around us were waiting for the same thing?

When the kiddo spotted a dog with the blue bandana on, that was it. We knew we were done. So, dejected, we wandered Williamsburg and tried to decide what to do. That’s when I came up with the idea that the town was fine, I couldn’t find any British sympathizers at all. The rebellion was downright healthy here. It seems what was needed was British double agents. So we walked around secretly collecting information for the British in order to report back about these Colonials who were getting uppity. It was amusing to us at least.

At night I tried to do work, but then I discovered my audio was corrupted. So, no editing for me. :( But I’ll get some work done this weekend, and will have all sorts of awesome stuff for you next week!

Latest News, events, travel, cons, etc

Sorry for the radio silence last week, folks. Got hit with some mild depression and did a lot of offline stuff. I’m back, and working, and recording, and writing. But some news in brief:

  • As of noon EST, the Storium Kickstarter is at nearly $22,000! That means it could possibly reach its goal of $25k in one day. And then we have 29 more days to work on stretch goals, and I know they’re pretty damn awesome.
  • I was surprised and thrilled to be written up in the Durham Bulls blog, Hit Bull Win Blog, as a Superfan. Last year I was playing around with the idea of Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire attending a Durham Bulls game as if it were a jousting tourney. I called it #sansaball and had fun doing it. The Bulls, a geeky organization, noticed, and wrote about me yesterday.
  • Next Thursday April 17 – I will be at the Barnes and Noble at Brier Creek, Raleigh, for a book event. If you missed the Flyleaf event, I’d love it if you could come by the B&N!
  • April 23 – I will be appear at the East Coast Gaming Conference (ECGC) on a panel about writing compelling characters. It’s a 3:15 panel, so if you’re in town for the event, check it out.
  • Future events: May 13-18- I will be at the RT Booklover’s Convention in New Orleans. It’s my first romance convention, I’m really excited to check it out.
  • June 27-29 – ConTemporal, Raleigh. Not sure I will be on programming or not, but I’ll definitely attend. The child must cosplay, afterall.
  • August 14-18 – LonCon in London. Can’t WAIT for this. Haven’t been to London since 2001.
  • November 6-9 – World Fantasy Con in Washington DC.

I really wanted to hit NASFIC, but the timing just doesn’t work out for me with teaching this summer. It’s cutting it awfully close.

Anyway, that’s the news from me. Hope to see you at an event or three this year!

Back to writing and recording and stuff.

Boskone and professionalism

Yesterday afternoon I got home from Boskone. Had a stressful travel day, landed, and ran off to see Book of Mormon in Durham. It was awesome; I’ve been waiting nearly two years to see this show and it delivered.

Boskone was definitely worth the trip, despite the blizzard and the shortened con because I had to run home for the show. I got some good time with other authors, some editors, Stonecoast friends and mentors, and met some new fans. Panels were great, but one moment stood out: I had a “funny pose” panel (a-la Jim C. Hines) – which was amazingly fun – at 7pm on Saturday. At 730, Boskone held a big book launch party, and Orbit (my publisher) kindly sent in a box of Ghost Train to New Orleans. I was delighted and promised I’d get to the party right after the posing panel to push the books and sign them if people wanted me to. When I got there at 8pm they told me the very good and very bad news that my book had been one of the fastest moving titles (YAY) and thus they were all gone so there was nothing for me to sign, no fans to meet (BOO). Some people did find me later and have me sign their copy. (YAY)

But one thing came out of the con that has me thinking: I want to talk professionalism: When we talk about being a pro, it often means doing work even when we don’t want to, and being polite to others in your field so you’re not mocked as being a sexist asshat, but another aspect of being a pro hit me this weekend: no matter what level in your career that you are in, you go to cons to connect with people. Readers, writers, editors, agents, fans, dealers, what have you. Even if you’re a veteran there just to see old friends, the mere act of being in public reminds readers who you are, the panels increase your visibility, the signings and readings reconnect you with the fans and tell them I’m still writing.

But for the non veterans, for the new writers, or baby published writers like me, it can be hard. When I’ve talked about this in the past, I’ve always talked about approaching writers/editors/agents as getting over a shyness problem. But yesterday I realized it goes deeper than that. It’s our JOB to do this. Networking is part of the job, just like putting your butt in the chair is. And if you can’t do that part of your job, you might suffer.

Charlaine Harris was at the con. During a panel, my friend Kristabelle asked Harris a craft question and Harris jumped on it, delighted to talk about writing. Apparently not a lot of people ask her craft questions. “Well heck, maybe she’d like to be on ISBW,” I thought, and immediately got scared. Ask Charlaine Harris? That’s terrifying. She’s famous and important. I have little to no connection with her, I didn’t know anyone who could introduce us. I would have to essentially cold call (cold approach?) her in the middle of the con for an interview. Saturday night, I saw her having a drink with her agent at the bar, and thought, “when I finish this glass of wine I’ll be relaxed enough to ask her. And they might be done by then so I won’t have that “I’m interrupting” problem.” I forgot I was drinking on an empty stomach, and by the time the wine was gone, I was not in a professional space to approach an author I’ve never spoken to, and the next time I looked, she was gone anyway.

I could easily blame a number of things- the wine hit too hard, I should have eaten dinner, I didn’t want to interrupt her chat with her agent, blah blah. But the truth was, I was too scared to do my fucking job. And that can’t continue.

It’s not about being brave, it’s about doing the job. And I think (hope) if I approach networking and interviewing and the like with the mindset of “time make the donuts” then I might do this a little better.

(I’m sorry I didn’t score a Charlaine Harris interview for you.)

(15 days till Ghost Train to New Orleans!)

Ronin Scientist’s Advent Calendar Day 20-22

So we are now without our computer that does that magic video thing. Scientist is on the run, and all we got is an iphone and a web browser. And it didn’t work! So the video is lost for the season. BUT we got pictures for Day 21. Only those failed too. it’s a Christmas curse. I think we need the Ronin to come home.

But our housesitter is in place and we’re in Buffalo NYC, and the Ronin Scientist is discovering something scary upon arrival. The ornaments on the tree are gone!

Despite our technical difficulties, we did manage to do a live hangout today with Grant and many other advent calendar openers, and that video DID get saved. Mainly because we weren’t involved. Check it out below!

Tomorrow we use Vine.

So, Worldcon. That was cool. A bit.

I got back from WorldCon last night and spent today processing and napping.

In case you hadn’t heard, I won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 2012. I mean, HOLY CRAPBASKETS. I’m still stunned. As Pat Cadigan keeps saying about her Hugo, “I keep waiting to wake up.”

lake_campbell

Jay Lake, me, and Jay’s daughter – Photo © 2013 James J. Seals, all rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.

The very cool thing you’re not seeing here is we were in front of a wall of photographers, and Jay’s daughter was directing the whole thing. “OK, let’s focus left…” (wait for photos) “Now center…” (wait for photos) “Now right.” She was IN CONTROL. It was awesome. She is such an amazing young woman and Jay should be very proud.

But I’ll get to more Hugo/Campbell details in a moment.

I stopped doing con writeups years ago, as I would always worry I would forget something. I’m going to give some highlights, but if I forget someone, I’m truly sorry.

On Wednesday, I drank with Chuck Wendig because drinking in the afternoon is either sad or awesome, depending on where, why, and with whom you do it. And I figured a hotel, being at a con, and CHUCK was good enough. Later that night we got Adam Christopher and his oh so cool wife Sandra and my friends John Cmar and Laura Burns and treked down the very warm street to a pub where we ate under the scary severed head of a buffalo and I drank a tasty Hemingway cocktail.

Thursday the con started in full force, and I got to be part of Just A Minute, an English game show that Paul Cornell brings to cons. You must talk for a minute on a topic, without repetition, hesitation, or deviation. If someone catches you in this, they can challenge. It gets silly and cutthroat at times. I was in the competition with Connie Willis, Emma Newman, and Gary K. Wolfe. It was amazingly stressful and fun, and it was awesome to sit beside my idol, Connie.

I had a great autographing – there was a line of like four people at one point! That’s great for me! – and before that got to have lunch with my mentor and friend, Jim Kelly. Later that night, I was in the weird position of all of my friends were scattered, and I was wondering what to do with myself, and SFWA President Steven Gould and his wife, writer Laura Mixon, my old Viable Paradise instructors, invited me to dinner. It was great to catch up with them. I fear I didn’t call Steve “El Presidente” enough, though.

Jim got in that night. Yay husband!

Saturday night my editor, Devi, took me and Jim out to dinner, and then we hit the Drinks with Authors party late. It turned out that we missed a lot of the party, but the plus side was that the overcrowded bar group had thinned and we had a nice time. I discovered that ALL of the Campbell nominees were there, and we quickly gathered and bonded. Stina Leicht and I already knew each other from last year’s Campbell nomination, and Chuck and I knew each other from before, but I hadn’t met Max Gladstone and his awesome wife Steph yet. So we bonded and formed Team Tiara.

The other nominees are awesome people. The next day, Max, Steph, and I went shopping for tiaras to form Team Tiara for real, and we found some nice ones at the mall. We brought them to the Campbell panel, which included Ben Bova, the creator of the Campbell Award. Ben wore his tiara with good humor. (We got him an understated one, you can barely see it in the weird lighting below.)

Team Tiara! Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, me, Chuck Wendig, and Ben Bova - Photo by Karen Bovenmeyer

Team Tiara! Max Gladstone, Stina Leicht, me, Chuck Wendig, and Ben Bova – Photo by Karen Bovenmeyer

It’s hard to compare the two years of Campbell nominations without making one sound better than the other, but the experience was better this time around. And I know that is stupid-tasting, because duh, I won, but it goes beyond that. Last year, Karen Lord didn’t make the con, E. Lily Yu (the much-deserving winner) arrived late to the convention, and I never actually met Brad Torgersen. (NOTE- I am NOT putting any of them down for this, I’m just saying this was how circumstances worked out.) This left Stina and me, and we bonded, but it felt more like a friendship (this is NOT bad, obviously, but I’m speaking of bonding as a group of new writers who have the crazy honor of being told they have amazing potential). This year, we missed Zen Cho, but everyone else were there, and we all got along great. We hung out at the before party, all sat together during the ceremonies, and exchanged much hugs after. These are amazing writers, each one, and I know Max will be on the ballot again next year.

The downsides of the con were the kaffeklatch and my reading. The kaffeklatch had only four people (one of them a friend, John Shade, a writer at Stonecoast) and was somewhat awkward. I’ve had better kaffeklatches as an unpublished writer. Weird. Then my reading, which was a clusterfuck of non-euclidian design. I thought I knew where room was, and I was wrong. No one could give me satisfactory directions, and it turned out the signing rooms were in a separate building that had about 80% of the outside doors locked. (I of course didn’t try the 20% that were open) The fans were very, very kind that they only got 15 minutes of reading, and haphazard and stressed reading at that. Mortified.

So, the Hugo awards! I was terrified I wouldn’t have enough time, as the Campbell panel was at 5 and the reception started at 6. I ran back to the room, got showered and started getting my girl on. I managed not to mess up my hair, and the only makeup problem was learning that liquid eyeliner is proof that Satan exists and he hates women. Once I got it out of my eye and threw the rest of the shit away, things were smooth sailing.

When I won, I was stunned and shaking (video, about 5 min in), and I can’t decide if being caught in a bear hug by Chris Garcia helped or hurt my composure. :D (I’m kidding, Chris hugs are one of the best things about WorldCon.) When I got on stage, a beaming Lake child (Jay calls her The Child) held the tiara, put it on my head, and hugged me and told me it looked wonderful. I had never met her before but she was so welcoming and she looked so thrilled to give it to me I nearly teared up right there. During my speech, I managed to a) remind people that we were all winners simply by the fact that through our nominations, we’re all entered into SF history, and nothing ever changes that, b) swear on stage, by quoting Grand Master Connie Willis’s advice not to say “OH SHIT” when you lose, and c) remember to thank my family, mentors, the fans, and my listeners. Sadly, I forgot to thank my editors, namely Jeff VanderMeer, who gave me my first pro sale, and Devi Pillai, my editor at Orbit, who was texting me furiously after the ceremonies to come to the bar and get my champagne.

I meant what I said, that Zen, Stina, Max, and Chuck will be forces to watch in the next several decades. I can’t wait to see what else TEAM TIARA comes up with.

I was quite happy with the Hugo awards, including the podcast Writing Excuses for Best Related Work, never-won-a-Hugo-in-decades-of-writing Pat Cadigan for novella, and John Scalzi’s Redshirts for novel. I was super super proud of my friends Patrick Hester (ISBW producer, winning with the staff of SF Signal for fanzine) and Kate Baker (Clarkesworld podcaster, winning semi-pro zine) winning Hugos. I was so happy to see John Scalzi win for Redshirts, for two reasons: 1) the book moved me in many ways- it was a funny romp for the first part, and then the three codas moved me and made me think a lot. and 2) Funny books winning the Hugo is a Good Sign (TM) for my career. The full list of winners is here.

The awards were covered by the New York Times, shockingly enough, and they mentioned me. Whoa.

At the photos after, John Scalzi whacked me in the face with his Hugo, but it was an accident and didn’t leave a mark. Got a good story, anyway. Those things are heavy.

Devi bought a lot more champagne for me than was needed, I think they were on their third bottle when I finally got to the bar. I didn’t drink that much (I know, SHOCKING) but I think i was on an adrenaline high most of the night.

The night was magical, and so so wonderful. Orbit bought a ton of champagne. I hung out with my Stonecoast friends. I was congratulated by the likes of Gail Carriger, Carrie Vaughn, Harry Turtledove, John Scalzi, and Patrick Neilsen Hayden (among many others.) And my sweetie was by my side the whole time, taking pics, giving hugs, and just in general being the best husband in the world.

Since then I’ve gotten tweets, FB messages, and emails that have made me cry with the sentiments involved. This is an overwhelming and amazing time. Paolo Bacigalupi told me that I have to take a few days to enjoy this before delving back into the pits if self loathing. I will do my best.

More pictures!