Friday, February 22, 2008

Boskone 45 Review

Reminder: The winter contest ends in one week. Get your social network going to increase your chances.

At Boskone this year, fewer panels jumped out at me as 'must see'. This had less to do with the quality of the panels than my growing familiarity of who various authors are and with the topics being discussed. Here are notes on the more interesting panels I attended.

Regional SF, Fantasy, and Horror
- F. Brett Cox, Daniel P. Dern, Glenn Grant, Elise Matthesen, Faye Ringel

Examples of regionalism in history were cited, for example H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum. For contemporary history, several 'movements' were cited: a growing corps of Canadian writers, a group emerging from Minneapolis in the 1980's.

Overall, it was agreed that there wasn't much regional flavor currently, besides regional phrases and spellings. Nothing to point to and say "Ah, that shows the UK style, or that's the difference between American and Canadian fiction, eh?"

And then began jokes about Canadians.

Hidden Biases in SF
- Tobias Buckell, Gregory Feeley, Gregory Frost, Daniel Kimmel, Pamela Sargent

Discussion focused more on historical biases. There was agreement that things are better, more could be done. Overall, I had higher hopes for the panel to get into contemporary issues more than they did. Below are some interesting points, not quite quotes, and apologies if I got anything wrong.

Sargent on writing from something other than your own perspective: Absorb enough about the culture to write honestly about it.

Buckell on exploring different cultures in SF: One resource is the Carl Brandon Society, which has on its blog some recommended reading. He also stressed that reading SF should be fun. If any particular author doesn't float your boat, there are many others out there.

He also mentioned the two anthologies edited by Nalo Hopkinson, Whispers From the Cotton Tree Root in which all the authors are of Caribbean descent, and Mojo: Conjure Stories which has Caribbean themes by authors of all different flavors.

Drug Discovery: Where Will the Medicines of the Twenty-Teens Come From?
- Matthew Jarpe

Jarpe is an expert, working in the field here in Massachusetts. He gave a very interesting presentation that cleared up misconceptions I had about the drug industry. For example, the average time to market for a new drug is 7 - 15 years at a cost of $800 million.

He also mentioned this website:
Caution: website could trigger a long period of time wasting research.

Do Sweat the Small Stuff: Writing Short Fiction
- James Patrick Kelly, Kelly Link, Jennifer Pelland

Many anecdotes about process and individual stories. What works for one story may not work for another (e.g. workshopping/critiques). Common theme of "smashing ideas together and letting the sparks fly".

And JPK gave away cool swag.

Making Language Fit the Culture
- James Cambias, Elaine Isaak, Fred Lerner, Lawrence M. Schoen, Sonya Taaffe

Much of the academic discussion went right over my head. The kind of stuff that makes me wonder how I even know how to use the english language. I did emerge from that room with the longest list of suggested reading.

Jack Vance - The Languages of Pao
Carl Sagan - Contact
Ursula K. Le Guin - Earthsea Trilogy
Ruth Nesvolt - Looking Through Lace
Mary Doria Russell - The Sparrow
John Myers Myers - Silverlock
Burgess - A Mouthful of Air

The YA Novel
- Bruce Coville, Sarah Beth Durst, Stephen C. Fisher, Tamora Pierce, Jane Yolen

Listing this one as it was the most entertaining of the weekend, although mostly due to the antics of Coville and Pierce. The other panelists looked like they might separate the two and send them to opposite corners.

How Not to Get Published
- Ginjer Buchanan, Daniel P. Dern, Paul Melko, Eleanor Wood

How not to get published? Three words: People are stupid.
[Edit: The wording here was bugging me all day. That's what I get for blogging on only one cup of coffee.

To clarify, the panel covered not-smart actions: sending a memoir to an editor that only handles SF; pitching an agent at inappropriate times or places; sending queries that make the recipients consider restraining orders.]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Novel Story

Back from Boskone. A different experience from last year, but still enjoyable. More notes later. I must fulfill an obligation first.

Background: Nathan had a contest on his novel blog. Having won, I could choose a book from his shelf. I asked for a David Weber novel since he was the guest of honor at Boskone this year and I hadn't read any Weber. Nathan sent me On Basilisk Station, the first of the "Honor Harrington" series.

Nathan also requested some con photos. Here is the adventure of the book.

It arrived at the hotel, full of excitement. It was going to meet the man, it's creator!

As the sun set gently in the west past the skyscrapers of Boston, the book whispered to itself: "Soon. Soon."

The following morning, it happened! The man himself took hold of the book firmly, peeled back its cover. He revealing the untouched title page, and inked his signature quickly. He then pushed the book aside, moving on to a steady stream of other books.

The book was proud, but confused. It wasn't unique, it knew. Wasn't even a hardcover, but still, so quick. The man's touch never lingered. The book decided to celebrate anyway, diving into the hotel room's "Honor Bar".

As you can imagine, the book went a little overboard. And as happens with overindulgence, there are consequences.

The book went to bed, a cold cloth at it's head, abashed. Perhaps it wasn't special to the man, just another paperback copy, but his signature would always be special to it.

Thanks again for the book, Nathan!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Boskone 45 Pre-Flight

It would be nice if the Boskone website posted the program more than 6 5 days before the event. It would also be nice if the participants names were linked to their websites and blogs.

You know, on the off chance anyone going to the convention might be interested in reading a bit about the people they are paying to listen to, talk with, and be around? Crazy talk, I guess.

So, for my benefit, and anyone else interested, the program participants of Boskone 45 are linked below. Apologies to anyone I couldn't identify via Google.

Judith Berman
Beth Bernobich
Patricia Bray
Tobias Buckell
Michael A. Burstein
S.C. Butler
James Cambias
Jeffrey A. Carver
Bruce Coville
F. Brett Cox
Don D'Ammassa
Daniel P. Dern
Bob Devney
Vince Docherty
John R. Douglas
Debra Doyle
Jennifer Dunne
Sarah Beth Durst
Tom Easton
John Farrell
Gregory Feeley
Stephen C. Fisher
Michael F. Flynn
Esther Friesner
Gregory Frost
Craig Shaw Gardner
Greer Gilman
Laura Anne Gilman
Gavin Grant
David G. Grubbs
Jeff Hecht
Walter H. Hunt
Aron K. Insinga
Elaine Isaak
Alexander Jablokov
Matthew Jarpe
MaryAnn Johanson
Robert I. Katz
James Patrick Kelly
Joseph Kesselman
Daniel Kimmel
Rosemary Kirstein
Robert Kuhn
John Langan
Sharon Lee
Fred Lerner
Shariann Lewitt
Timothy Liebe
Kelly Link
James D. Macdonald
Darlene Marshall
Susan Martin
Elise Matthesen
Gary D. McGath
Paul Melko
Steve Miller
Mark Millman
Mark L. Olson
Priscilla Olson
Joshua Palmatier
Paul Park
Jennifer Pelland
Tamora Pierce
Steven Popkes
Faye Ringel
Pamela Sargent
Lawrence M. Schoen
Karl Schroeder
Joe Siclari
Wen Spencer
Allen M. Steele
Edie Stern
Charles Stross
Michael Swanwick
Sonya Taaffe
Cecila Tan
Amy Thomson
Paul G. Tremblay
Howard Waldrop
Lawrence Watt-Evans
David Weber
Peter Weston
Christopher Weuve
Trish Wilson
Jane Yolen
George Zebrowski

Eleanor Wood

Ellen Asher (SFBC ret.)
Ginjer Buchanan (ACE)
John R. Douglas (E-Reads)
David G. Hartwell (TOR)
Patrick Nielsen Hayden (TOR)
Teresa Nielsen Hayden (TOR)
Kathryn Kramer
Ernest Lilley (SFRevu)
Beth Meacham (TOR)
Farah Mendlesohn
Rome Quezada (SFBC)

Bob Eggleton
Dean Morrissey
Omar Rayyan

Gary Ehrlich
Merav Hoffman
Jordin T. Kare
Mary Kay Kare
Ellen Kranzer
Seanan McGuire
Benjamin Newman
Roberta Rogow
Bob Rosenfeld
Edward L. Stauff
Mary Ellen Wessels
Batya Wittenberg

Guy Consolmagno
Chad Orzel
Eric M. Van

Friday, February 08, 2008

Quittin' Time

Before I get into that subject line ...


No, not mine. This one is courtesy of Edward Willett, SF writer, Non-F writer, and prodigious blogger. He's giving away copies of his new book, Marseguro, the first two chapters of which are on his website. Sign up by making a comment with your e-mail address on his blog post, or just send him a message.

And if you haven't entered my contest, what are you waiting for?

Now then, about quitting. Last December I covered the four jobs I had, two of which paid actual money. Life was getting out of balance, Koyaanisqatsi*. Something had to give. So, last month I gave notice to the night job.

I know. You're not supposed to give up paying work in order to write more, especially if writing isn't paying much, or anything. I'm fortunate the financial risk wasn't great. I wasn't supporting the household by stocking shelves. The job was disruptive and the rationale in leaving it was to better focus on writing.

I had this big post in mind about what I was willing or not willing to sacrifice in order to write. Blah, blah, blah. If you're reading this, and a writer, you've heard all that before. You know the point. This gig takes time. We need to make choices in order to make progress.

Enough said.

*The film by that name is wonderful, and ironically very peaceful. I have fallen asleep watching it at least a half-dozen times.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

And Now A Word From ...

I try to stay on writerly topics here, but was struck this morning by the video below, via Daily Kos.

This guy is so going to be President of the United States.

Friday, February 01, 2008

January Wrap Up

Lightning round list of stuff accomplished last month.

~ Submitted a story to On The Premises.

~ Signed up with the Online Writing Workshop to participate in the crit contest sponsored by Joshua Palmatier. Thank you, Steve, for posting the link to the latter.

Sporty Spec has been reviewed at The Fix. Very happy, not only for myself, but all the other authors in the book that I've met.

Managed to level up in my writer role-playing game (stats in the sidebar).

January Goals
~ Did manage to register for three cons. The doing was not as difficult as the deciding and the committing.

~ Finished writing a book, Garbageland

Yes, the last one deserves a stand back, nod with silly self-satisfied grin kind of moment.

. . .

. . .

. . .

Okay, moment is over.

February Goals
~ Complete second draft of the book.
~ Have fun at Boskone.