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.

 

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.

Events! Come visit! Make me not-lonely!

Not unlike Phil the groundhog, I am coming out of my hole in February and am ready to see people. Only I’m not looking for my shadow.

What the hell did that mean anyway? If it’s a sunny day, there are six more weeks of winter? And how can we tell what the groundhog sees, anyway? Is it like an elephant where it will be all startled if it sees it?

Anyway! Events!

  • This Saturday (Feb 8), I will have a Meet the Author event at the southeast branch of the Durham County Library.
  • Feb 14-16 – Next weekend I will attend Boskone and have a very full schedule on Friday and Saturday. I’m on the kid’s programming, and the readings, and the adult programming. So come see me at a panel, or I will likely be at whatever con bar is available during the evenings. I will also have giveaways and stuff. Find me!
  • March 4 - Ghost Train to New Orleans comes out! Preorder! Ask for it at your local book stores! Download the ebook! Listen to the audiobook! So many options!
  • March 6 - I will have a launch event at the utterly awesome indie bookstore Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.
  • Future events- May has me attending RT in New Orleans, July has me teaching at Shared Worlds (Register now!), and in August I’m heading to London for WorldCon.

Tomorrow: The Return of ISBW!


Ghost Train to New Orleans – Out March 4

WorldCon Schedule

It’s one of my favorite times of the year again: WorldCon time! I’m heading out to San Antonio next Wednesday and am leaving on Monday. I’m posting my schedule below. It’s pretty light this year,  but if you don’t catch me on a panel, be assured you can likely find me at the bar most nights. I may also set up an ISBW meetup – also, Magic Spreadsheet creator Tony Pisculli will be there, so anyone who wants to meet the mind behind the spreadsheet, he’ll be around!

I have no kaffeklatch, so if you’re interested in an ISBW meetup, let me know.

  • Just A Minute: Thursday 21:00-22:00
    Paul Cornell (M); Mur Lafferty; Emma Newman; Connie Willis and Gary K. Wolfe
    Paul Cornell brings his live game show back to WorldCon!
  • Autographing: Laura Frankos, James Patrick Kelly, Mur Lafferty, Michael Damian Thomsa: Friday 14:00 – 15:00
  • Reading: Mur Lafferty: Sunday 15:30 – 16:00
  • Click to embiggen

    Click to embiggen

    Drinks with Authors: Saturday 19:00-Late
    Not an official WorldCon event, but a party at a nearby bar with a LOT of authors. I have a dinner planned, so I won’t be there when it starts, but we’ll be dropping by after dinner once everyone is properly liquored up.
  • 40 Years of Campbell Awards: Sunday 17:00 – 18:00
    The Campbell Awards celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. Stina Leicht (M) , Ben Bova , Mur Lafferty , Chuck Wendig , Max Gladstone
  • Hugo Awards Ceremony: Sunday 20:00
    Aside from being nominated for the Campbell (yay!) I’m also liveblogging the awards at CoverItLive! More information about that when I have it.

Your Role at WorldCon – Bigger Than You Think

tl;dr: Know what you’re paying for when it comes to your WorldCon membership. Scroll to the bullet points. Read the links at the bottom.


WorldCon is two and a half weeks away. I love this con as it contains some of the best networking opportunities I’ve ever experienced, the panels are great, it’s usually smaller and less crazy than other cons (*cough*Dragon*cough*), has the Hugo Award (and Campbell Award, Not A Hugo (TM)) ceremony, and since it moves around yearly, it lets me experience new cities in the world as long as I have the fundage. (more on the “world” thing in a bit.)

WorldCon is expensive. Currently, an attending membership is $240, but it’s cheaper if you buy early. Most cons I attend will comp someone’s badge if they’re going to be on panels, but WorldCon only comps its Guests of Honor. We all pay to go to WorldCon. But many of us do not know what that money gets us. For example, I attended the business meeting for the first time last year – only because friends encouraged me to come help get a YA Hugo on the ballot. After we failed, I talked to other con attendees about my disappointment, and nearly every person – all members of the WSFS – showed confusion about this mysterious meeting that they knew nothing about. A meeting that they had every right to be part of.

Who can blame them? If we hear “business meeting” we’re thinking it involves the Important People Involved With The Con Business. Like the volunteers and the con chair and the treasurer. Not us attendees who are desperately trying to kill a hangover so we can look good for the Hugo Awards, or trying to get up the nerve to meet Elizabeth Bear.

When I found out others were as blind as I had been to all of the benefits of WorldCon membership, I figured I’d write something about it. So, here are convenient bullet points:

What You Can Expect From The WorldCon Membership

  1. You are an official member of the World Science Fiction Society. Cool, huh?
  2. You get to vote for the Hugos. (And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is Not A Hugo). For this year, Hugo voting is already over, but it bears mentioning.
  3. You have the right to vote for a future WorldCon location. London is set for 2014, but 2015 bidders are Orlando, Spokane, and Helsinki. Voting costs extra ($40), BUT the money is considered an automatic Supporting membership to that convention, no matter where it is. For example, if you vote for Helsinki, but Orlando gets it, then you have already put $40 toward your Orlando 2015 Attending Membership, or you’ve outright purchased your Supporting Membership. So consider a site bid your down payment for the 2015 WorldCon.
    ** This year is the first time I’ve gotten involved with site selection; I voted for Helsinki because every time WorldCon leaves North America, we yank it back for a few years. That seems unfair, because it is called WorldCon, right? In order, we’ve had Yokohama, Denver, Montreal, Melbourne, Reno, Chicago, San Antonio, London. Aside from being too North America-friendly, this also has a wider effect in that when North America votes on The Important Current SFF (The Hugos), it continues the the USA/Western focus of the genre, which is limiting in the short run and damaging in the long run. If it’s far away and you can’t afford to attend? Sad, but you can still have a Supporting Membership. (Supporting and Attending Membership distinctions and benefits here.)
  4. You can attend and vote in the WorldCon business meeting. This is the biggie. They talk about very important things involving the WorldCon in the future, Hugo categories, site selection, and more. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s called a business meeting for a reason, and if you thought a business meeting with a bunch of SF geeks would be more interesting than your standard business meeting, you’d be wrong. But hell, I’m willing to grow up for a few hours during the WorldCon, because this stuff is important, and my vote matters. On the agenda (so far) this year, we have motions to both add a new Hugo category and kill a few existing categories. There’s also a “don’t let poor people vote” motion up, but I am not sure they’re calling it that. I tend to believe that most people in my generation are eager to see the existing establishment embrace the new storytelling pioneers, and they’re not going to unless we push them. Attend the meeting. Push.
    ** I vetted this post to a friend who asked me to underline two things: that the meetings are indeed incredibly dull, and they are INCREDIBLY important. Read Seanan McGuire’s post about it. Careers can be made or broken with decisions made to create or destroy a Hugo category, and as Cheryl Morgan said, the “No Cheap Votes” motion will keep fans with lower incomes – including many fans who come from poorer countries – from having a say.
    *** I want to quote Scalzi regarding the killing of the fan Hugos here:

    For those asking “yes, but what can I do?” Well, if you’re attending LoneStarCon 3 this year, go to the WSFS Business Meeting (you can!) and vote it down (you can do that, too!). The dates and times of the business meeting will be available in the program when you get there. I believe the first is on Friday at 10am, but these things are fungible, so double check when you arrive. I am not personally arriving until late Friday, so if anyone who is going to that meeting wants to use this piece to bolster their argument if necessary, go right ahead. I also understand at the Friday meeting it can be punted out of further discussion, which would be nice.

    (And yes, I understand that from a certain point of view I’m just trying to use the Internet to logroll you all into voting the way I want. I am the worst person ever.)

    **** And quoting Seanan McGuire:

    Please, if you are attending this year’s Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas, join me and others at the WSFS Business Meeting to help us vote these measures down. The first will be Friday morning at 10am.

    We have the power to keep this from happening. It’s not the power of Grayskull, but I still think it’s pretty damn neat.

    Let’s keep these awards for everybody.

  5. Your involvement with next year’s WorldCon. Possibly the most clever thing in the WSFS membership is the benefit to keep you interested in WorldCon, even if you can’t make it next time. If you have a Supporting or Attending membership in last year’s, this year’s, or next year’s WorldCon, you can nominate for the current Hugo and Campbell Awards. (Example, people who nominated for this year’s Hugos included Supporters/Attendees of ChiCon ’12, LoneStarCon ’13, and LonCon ’14.) So even if you’re not going to London next year, you can still have your opinion on the ballot if you Support/Attend LoneStarCon. And as I said, voting on the site selection automatically gives you a Supporting Membership, no matter where it ends up.

Cons are fun. You can drink with and meet famous authors and editors, and play dress-up and see the SFF Oscars. But a WorldCon membership allows you, whether writer, fan, editor, volunteer, agent, or con planner, to help shape the current and future landscape of WorldCon and the Hugo awards, and, in a ripple effect, SFF as a whole.

Heavy stuff. Hope to see you in San Antonio! And I REALLY hope to see you at the business meeting. We’ll sit together. Put stuff on Twitter. Let’s make our voices heard.

Resources:

The latest: Shindig, interviews, Balticon, and personal news.

First, the exciting:

Tonight there’s a live video chat with me at Shindig! You can drop in any time (it starts at 6:30 Eastern) but they would appreciate an RSVP. I’m very excited about this event!

Come to my shindig!

Come to my shindig! (Pretty dress not guaranteed)

Balticon is this weekend! I’m hitting the train tomorrow morning, arrive in Baltimore late afternoon, and will be shouting obscenities at Scott Sigler by 9pm. Watch me.

Also at Balticon: LIVE ISBW with a NINJA BOOK LAUNCH will happen at noon on Saturday. Be there. There will be giveaways. Also Myke Cole.

FABULISTS AT BALTICON- tell me you’re coming, I’ll do a thing. Possibly involving donuts.

So I’ve got a book coming out next week. Yeah. A little tense about it. Preorder (Amz) (BN) (Indie) (Waterstones) if you’re interested. Or listen to the podcast if you’re not sure yet. You can also preorder via Audible.

Eep. Ack. No panic. Truly.

Interviews!

And now the bad:

I’ve been absent from blogging and podcasting this week thus far because my husband was in an accident this past Sunday (his bike vs. a car.) He’s got many of the minor injuries one would expect (bruising, road rash), plus a broken collarbone. So my priorities have drastically shifted in the past four days to make sure he’s seen doctors and gotten meds and is comfortable, and, outrageously, the kid still gets to school on time and in clean clothes and with lunch and stuff.

But after coming out of all of that we looked at the situation and thought, well shit, it could have been so much worse. So we’re just glad he’s OK, and the break isn’t a bad one.

That said, he and Princess Scientist were planning on coming to Balticon, but he needs to stay home and rest. Sad face.