Aug 19 2016

At WorldCon!


… With no opportunity to post (I’m writing this on my iPhone, while waiting for my autograph session to start).  I’ll fill you in later– but note my Twitter feed, over there in the next column on this page. There’s a chance I might tweet now and then, and you can see it here without even having a Twitter account, if you like

Having a great time!  More later.

Aug 11 2016

Thanks to all for the Happy Birthdays!


Still in Chicago, where I’ll be until just before the con, staying at a dubious Airbnb place with a crowd of people, but mostly hanging with Ada Palmer (of Too Like the Lightning fame), and Jo Walton (of fame fame), and various others who are equally excellent (but who might not want me to plaster their names all over the Internet, so I am being discreet).

Yep, I’m older.  But still here, so: WINNER!

No actual time to post much, but here are some quick pix:


Heron hunting in the Beaver Marsh at Cuyahoga National Park.



View of Lake Michigan.

Soon: brunch, and the Field Museum.


Aug 10 2016

Chicago, I am there. Plus: let’s update that program schedule.


Just so’s you know.  Visiting friends and new acquaintances, taking in the scene and the culture, for a week before Worldcon.

My updated Worldcon program:

Living with Cancer

Wednesday 14:00 – 15:00, 2206 (Kansas City Convention Center)

$£%* Cancer. Our panel talks about the experience of cancer, how it affected their writing and lives, and how we can support the fan community.

Janet Freeman-Daily, Rosemary Kirstein, Ms Pat Cadigan (M), Priscilla Olson

(For those of you just joining us, I’m doing fine now; the cancer exeperience took place a couple of years ago, and I am cancer-free!)

Writing Major Minor Characters

Wednesday 16:00 – 17:00, 2210 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Do you ever read a book and come across a character that is so wonderful you want to know everything about them, yet you know you never will because they aren’t the main character? Such characters add immeasurably to our reading experience and yet they are very hard to write. This session discusses how to do just that.

Michelle (Sagara) West (M), Julia Mandala, Connie Willis, Rosemary Kirstein

(I’ve been told that I’m good at this.)


Reading: Rosemary Kirstein

Thursday 13:00 – 13:30, 2203 (Readings) (Kansas City Convention Center)

Rosemary Kirstein

Autographing: Rosemary Kirstein, Larry Niven, Robert Silverberg, Jeff Sturgeon, Connie Willis

Friday 15:00 – 16:00, Autographing Space (Kansas City Convention Center)

Rosemary Kirstein, Larry Niven, Mr Robert Silverberg, Jeff Sturgeon, Connie Willis

(I expect this to be an exercise in humility.  I shall observe the long lines for the other authors, and acknowledge their superiority.  It will be good for me.  Plus: ebooks, hard to autograph. )

Transcending the Genre

Sunday 13:00 – 14:00, 2209 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Critics still use the term “transcending the genre,” but what does that really mean? Do we want to completely transcend genre, or are we experiencing snobbish reactions rooted in fannish history? When Zadie Smith talks about reading Octavia Butler, or Marlon James says his next novel will be “an African Game of Thrones”? do we really want all the genre walls to disappear? 

Dr. Tom Easton, Rich Horton, Jennie Goloboy (M), Rosemary Kirstein, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

(Teresa is part of the crowd I’m hanging with this week… She’s so damn smart!)


More later


Jul 30 2016

I keep doing this!


I keep waiting until the end of my day to write a blog post…

La-di-da, I say to myself, about time to go home, oh, I think I’ll just knock off a quick blog post...

Hours later:

Well, hours later it’s hours later.

Because there I am, tweaking the pics, checking on the links I’m using, looking up cool things, researching that last snappy bit of wisdom, to make sure I don’t make a total idiot of myself as I impart it. (You cannot make a paper airplane hover between two fans.  Can Not.)

Let’s see if I can do this in under an hour, shall we?

General news: I got my preliminary schedule for the panels at MidAmeriCon, this year’s Worldcon:

Writing Major Minor Characters

Do you ever read a book and come across a character that is so wonderful you want to know everything about them, yet you know you never will because they aren’t the main character? Such characters add immeasurably to our reading experience and yet they are very hard to write. This session discusses how to do just that.

Time – Wednesday 16.00


Hard Fantasy – Does it Exist?

“I’m going to write about what Tove Jansson called “the lonely and the rum,” the unschoolable and ungroupable, those strange and shaggy literary creatures that have no ilk or kin and that mathematically can be contained in no set smaller than the set of all sets contained in no other sets’.  (Micheal Swanwick).  Does Hard Fantasy have a place in fantasy literature, and how should we approach it?

Friday, 19.00. 2206


“Transcending” the Genre

Critics still use the term “transcending the genre,” but what does that really mean? And what does that mean for fandom – have we gone mainstream? Or are we experiencing snobbish reactions rooted in fannish history? What happens to the discourse when Zadie Smith talks about reading Octavia Butler, or Marlon James says his next novel will be “an African Game of Thrones”? At the end of the day, do we really want all the genre walls to disappear? Do we want to completely transcend genre?

Time – Sunday 13.00

Of the above, I think I’ll have the most to say about the Major Minor characters.  It’s something I love doing.

In addition to those, I’ll also be on an panel about living with cancer (if you’re just joining us, I spent 2014 and most of 2015 being treated for breast cancer, with great success).   I don’t know yet what time that will take place.

I think I also requested a Kaffeeklatsch, but I can’t recall if I requested a reading!  Ack!  It would be good to know, as I have to decide what to read!

Although Worldcon itself is over two weeks away, I’ll be traveling or otherwise occupied for much of the run-up to it, so I’m already having little stress-fits about the prep.  Well.  All will work out, in the end, I’m sure.

Last weekend I spent some time visiting pal and fellow Genrette Laurie J. Marks and her wife Deb Mensinger, in their vintage bungalow, which they are in the process of lovingly restoring to its early-20th-century glory.  Deb knows what she’s about, being a professionally trained preservation carpenter.

Ravens figure largely in Laurie's Elemental Logic series.

Ravens figure largely in Laurie’s Elemental Logic series.

Laurie also knows what she’s about, as couple of hours of conversation about our respective current projects resulted in me helping her solve one of her plot problems, and her helping to solve the basic major problem I was wrestling with in Book 5 –  so that now I am currently mostly wrapped up in solidifying that central fix, and setting the book onto the path of righteousness, AMEN.    After which will merely remain the writing of it.   Which sounds like the hard part, but trust me, it’s not.

Other news:

Hey, look, Ada Palmer was interviewed by Scientific Amercian about her novel, Too Like the Lightning.  Holy smokes.

Meanwhile, I’m in the middle of reading Jo Walton’s, Necessity, which takes some unexpected and rather fun turns.   But I do occasionally want to kick certain gods in their butts.  Not namin’ any names, here.


Oh, look, I found some orange roses.

Oh, look, I found some orange roses.

See that guitar?  Been practicing.


Jul 18 2016

Winding down, gearing up.


Well, Readercon is over, and my annual hang-out-with-pals-after-Readercon is also over…

Cool things from Readercon:

A reading by Ellen Kushner, from the next season of the serialized multi-author novel, Tremontaine.

Here’s a nifty trailer for the series:

The reading was followed by Ellen’s  Kaffeeklatsch — which included as a treat, a guest appearence by Ada Palmer, singing her famous (in fandom) song, “Somebody Will,” which always makes me cry.

But in a good way.  (Here’s a link to a duet version of the song, with Ada singing with Lauren Schiller.)

Also, I attended a reading by Delia Sherman, from her upcoming YA novel, The Evil Wizard Smallbone.  I’ve heard bits of the book before, and it’s always a delight.  Delia has such a graceful hand with tales of magic.

Comes out in September, but you could pre-order it now. Yes, you could.

Also: a reading by Jo Walton, from her work in progress, Poor Relations, which I enjoyed immensely.  By laughing a lot.  It was that kind of book, and she read it with vim!   (You can’t buy it yet — but the final volume of her Thessaly series, Necessity, is just out this week. )

And finally, a reading by one of Readercon’s guests of honor, Catherynne Valente,  whose writing you know I love.  I can’t recall the title — it was a work in progress, I think —  but it was dark and rich and grim and lovely.  (There’s an excerpt from it in the Readercon program, which I have at home where I am not, and not in my office, where I am.)

Hm.  I seem only to have attended readings by women this time!  Not by intention: Daryl Gregory was listed on the original program, but left off of the updated one.  Apparently he could not attend after all.  Alas.  I do love hearing him read.

The panels…


I didn’t go to many, but it seemed to me that each one I attended (and the one I was on),  rather quickly turned away from books, and toward TV shows and movies as examples of whatever subject was on hand for discussion.

And I found this disappointing.  The thing about Readercon, the blessed thing about it, is that it has traditionally been focused on books.  There’s no film track, no gaming, the dealer’s room sells nothing but books.  In theory it’s supposed to stand in opposition other conventions, which more and more deal with movies, TV, gaming, and the fandom that surrounds them.  Not that those aren’t wonderful things, and sources of real art — But Readercon has always been the exception to  the trend.   That was its charm, and its attraction.

But this time, not so much.  I don’t know what to make of that.

As well as official convention events, there was plenty of meeting and re-meeting of friends, always a glad thing.  (I’d detail more but… this is running rather long, and getting late.  Perhaps I’ll expand on events in a later post?)

And after Readercon, as is traditional, I spent a few days with fellow authors Ann Tonsor Zeddies (aka Toni Anzetti, but not any more), and Geary Gravel.   A splendid time was had by all, including much deep talk far into the night on the front porch, one reading of a work in progress, the inevitable champagne, many delicious meals, and walks around interesting places.

A denizen of the forest.

A denizen of the forest.


The Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, MA.

The Bridge of Flowers, in Shelburne Falls, MA.




So.  All that is over, I’m back home and unpacked, and my laundry is done, and I’m tucked into my office.

Next on the agenda: Ack! Worldcon in August.  Preceded by a week in Chicago… Yikes, only two and a half weeks before all that.

Better get back to wrestling with the Muse.  Who is a slippery gal, but I do believe I have a weight advantage, there.



Jul 3 2016

Readercon looms.


Still hunkered down, either working, or working at working, or working the peripheral tasks.   I need to get as much done as I can before various upcoming events take me away from my office and into the actual world of people who I did not invent.

Some of them are quite nice, of course, and I’m looking forward to seeing them!  But time seems to tick away far too quickly lately.  July and August are already chewed-into.

First up is Readercon, running from July 7 – 10.   I have exactly one panel:

Friday July 08

1:00 PM    5    Why Women Become Protagonists . Gwenda Bond, LJ Cohen, Rosemary Kirstein, Hillary Monahan, Navah Wolfe. In a 2015 essay about portrayals of female protagonists in crime fiction, Sara Paretsky writes, “Detectives like V.I. came to life in a time of bravado, when my peers and I… wrote out of a kind of cockiness: we’re doing a job because we want it, we like the work, no one can stop us. Today, the female hero often has been brutally assaulted… or suffered some other form of serious trauma. It’s as if the only acceptable reason for a woman to embrace the investigative life is to recover from damage, or get revenge for it—not because she takes pleasure in the work, and comes to it as a free spirit.” Let’s explore the reasons that female protagonists decide to protag, and discuss the many ways to motivate them other than assault and trauma.

I’m not sorry to have only one panel this time out, and I don’t mind the time slot — but it might be unfortunate for anyone who works a day-job, and would only be able to make it to Readercon  from Friday after work until Sunday.  I suspect I’ll also have a Kaffeeklatsch, but the schedule for that has not yet been settled.  If the klatsch is not on the weekend, I’ll make sure to set aside some time to be at some locale, available to meet anyone who cares to show up!  I’ll post the time for that, when I know it, here, on Facebook, and on Twitter (where I am @rkirstein).

This entirely in addition to persons to whom I’ve already promised hang-out time — you know who you are.

After Readercon I generally hang out with pals Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel for a few days.   So, that’s about a full week of July in use for non-writing.

And then: August!   I’ve got three whole weeks of commitments!  Including WorldCon.  You can see why I’m trying to get as much done now as possible.

Of course, I am much encouraged by the most recent meeting of the Fabulous Genrettes, which could not have gone better, in my opinion.   It’s nice when you think you’ve done something especially well, and other people agree!  The encouraging feedback was great — but so was the constructive feedback.   A fine time was had by all.

In other news:

The roof of my office is a pretty good place from which to watch fireworks.   Not as good as actually being under them, but the high ones did manage to clear the trees that stood between me and them.

Not the best shot, but hey! iPhone, and at night.

I do love fireworks.   Always have.




Jun 25 2016



Still here, but:

Busy!  Too busy to post at the moment…

So, in lieu of me saying something amusing or insightful or brilliant or entirely delusional, here’s something cool to look at:

You’ll want to go fullscreen.

BigFly is a French production company that uses drones to capture amazing images.   Here’s their website.

(Thanks to BoingBoing for pointing me there.)

Right.  Back to the task at hand…


Jun 17 2016



I managed to get out to the woods today…


The mountain laurels are in bloom.

In choosing which path to take when I came to a crossing, I just headed for the mountain laurels.


At first I just saw a few bushes here and there…

I heard a woodpecker, too; possibly the same Pileated Woodpecker that I spotted here last week.

The further I went, the more I saw.

The further I went, the more I saw.

Also spotted this:

In grade school, we were taught to call these indian pipes.

In grade school, we were taught to call these indian pipes.

This plant has no clorophyl.

I also saw this fallen tree:

I have no explanation for this.

I have no explanation for this.

It’s a fallen tree.  With a hole in it.  Why, I don’t know.  The hole is about eight inches by four, and goes straight through the tree.

It was a good walk of about an hour.  Followed by another walk later, from my office to the post office, because hey!  I work in a town, and the post office is walking distance.  About twenty minutes to and another twenty back.  Can’t say I didn’t get my exercise!  I’m well over 10,ooo steps, many of them directly uphill!

I also sent out the final Con or Bust paperbacks to the winning bidders.  Both in Texas, by coincidence.  Took care of a bunch of business -type chores, and cleared the decks for hitting the keyboard hard tomorrow and Saturday.

Sunday, it’s the Genrettes meeting, and I’m all a-twitter about what they’re going to say about that chunk of my prose that they’ve been reading…


Jun 9 2016

You know how they say that computers are going to replace us all?


Well, the script for this short science fiction film was written by a neural network.

(You should go full-screen.)

I don’t know about you, but I it looks like my job is safe….

(Brought to my attention by the io9 website.)

Jun 3 2016

Random updates not all about me


I had a few delays this week due to general life-type chores.  I’ve missed my walks in the woods for several days (which I have discovered makes me sorta cranky).   But I’m back in the saddle, and typing away… and the weekend is nearly upon us.

Current fleurs on desk

Current fleurs on desk

I had the fun of sending out a serious chunk of prose to the Fabulous Genrettes, my writer’s group, for analysis and dissection at our next meeting.  Naturally, I just want them to tell me how brilliant I am!  But, being a pro, I’m willing to be told that I’m only mostly brilliant, and that the prose (ahem) desperately needs some loving care, attention, and bringing-to-heel (AKA rewrites).

Other than that there is, at the moment, little to report on the writing front — largely because I don’t generally blog about the content of what I’m working on, and I don’t post  word counts (as explained in this ancient entry from before I had an office and while I still had a day job).  But I am at it, and looking forward to the weekend, which is prime writing time for me, when I have the entire building to myself.

I’m still currently reading Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, but I always do have trouble reading fiction when I’m also writing fiction, so I have paused for the moment.  Ada’s book both deserves and requires attention; I don’t want to read it sloppily, and I realized that I was doing so — so I stopped.  I’ll get back to it in a bit, when I’m at a good pause-for-a-breather point in my own work.

I’ve also picked up Neil Gaiman’s The View from the Cheap Seats,  which, being non-fiction, doesn’t hijack my fiction-processing faculties.  It includes the text to the famous “Make Good Art” speech, always an inspiration to me.

Meanwhile, Google alerted me that E.C.Ambrose mentioned the Steerswoman series in a blog post on maps… and that reminded me of Ambrose’s own books, and the fact that that her blog is great resource for people interested in the writing process.   There’s all sorts of excellent advice on many subjects relating to writing, like: The uses of location, of detail, suspense, and more.  She knows whereof she speaks and expresses it well.  And she’s taught at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.  All good reasons to check out both her blog and her books.

Lastly: Do not forget about the Con or Bust fundraising auction!    Bidding closes on Sunday at 4PM Eastern time, and there are lots of SF/F- related books objects and memorabilia available, and jewelry and handicrafts. Like a steampunk guitar pick-guard!  Seriously, where else are you going to find one of those?

Photo May 24, 6 40 21 AM