Jul 18 2013

Go to my sister’s blog instead today.


I’m back from Readercon and the usual post-con gathering — but I’m wiped out from the heat-wave and driving hours and hours with no A/C in the car.  Yikes.

I’m so tired I can barely think.  Plus: now I have to clean up the shambles I left the house in when I rushed out the door on Friday.

I am too brain-dead to post an actual post….

So, you should check out my sister Sabine’s brand new blog:  Interstates and Interwebs!  This isn’t her first blog, but this one is focused on  following her on her amazing adventures as she drives completely across the country and back, while doing odd jobs she picks up on various apps  and websites.

She left last Thursday.   She’s already in South Dakota.  The B&B has dogs.

Bye.  Must go buy food now.


Jul 7 2013

Readercon. Plus: many odd things


Yes! I will be at Readercon!

However: due to reading my writer-related email quickly and surreptitiously at the DayJob, I okayed the following schedule:

Thursday July 11
8:00 PM F The Bit I Remember. Ellen Brody, Lev Grossman, Rosemary Kirstein, Yoon Ha Lee, Sonya Taaffe (leader), Howard Waldrop. What do we remember from books read long ago, and why? What makes these glowing moments stick in our heads? And conversely, what falls away only to startle us when we return to the narrative years later?
9:00 PM NH Reading: Rosemary Kirstein.  Rosemary Kirstein reads a work to be determined.

Friday, July 12
10:30 PM Meet the Pros Party

 Sunday July 14
12:00 PM   E Autographs. Mike Allen, Rosemary Kirstein.

Yep, that’s it.

Plus: I thought I’d said I wouldn’t be there until Friday night… but that might have been an error on my part.  However, when they sent the preliminary schedule for me to approve, I ought to have caught the date, and asked for a change!   I do believe that I somehow (in a rush, probably) saw that F next to the time, and thought, “Friday! Yeah, I’ll be there.  Let’s give a big OKAY for that.”  But, alas, it was the room number.

So: I will be driving to the convention on Thursday night for the two events, then driving back so I can get to the DayJob on Friday morning, then going back to the con for the full weekend.

Upside: I’ll have plenty of opportunity to watch panels instead of being on them.

What am I reading at my reading?  At this point, I still don’t know.    I’ve read all the non-spoilery bits from the next two books (in progress simultaneously, dammit).   I can read something from them that I’ve already read, since the people in the audience might not be the same ones who heard a particular bit;  or I can read from published work, where the attraction is not that you’d hear new stuff, but that you’d hear me reading it; or, I can read from some non-steerswoman work-in-progress  — which I will probably be very unlikely to do, as I’m on the fence exposing it to public scrutiny at this stage…

I will probably decide at the VERY LAST MINUTE.

Also:  I seem to have no kaffeeklatsch this year!   If anyone is interested  I’ll put together an informal get-together, which will resemble a kaffeeklatch, taking place somewhere like the lobby, or the poolside, or one of the outside sit-around places, if it’s not too hot.  Let me know if I should do this…

In other news:  They fired my boss at the DayJob.   Suddenly.  My co-worker and I  were unexpectedly and suspiciously taken out to lunch by the production assistants, who were all perky cheery and innocent.  But it was all a ploy to get us out of the office while our boss had his office cleared out, and was told, politely I hope, to hit the road.   His duties are now divided among three people, and, as they say, it’s all of a ’tis-was now.

On the upside:  I still have Mondays off!   So, my cunning plans can proceed.
More to tell, about stuff in general — but I have to STOP BLOGGING SO I CAN GO AND WRITE NOW.

The  condos next door seem crowded, and not up to code, but at least the neighbors are entertaining.

The condos next door seem crowded, and not up to code, but at least the neighbors are entertaining.

Jul 9 2012

It’s Readercon all over again


Yep, Readercon is one of my favorite conventions, and this year I’m at it again. Stand by for my jam-packed convention schedule.

Ready? Here it is:

Friday July 13
8:00 PM CL Kaffeeklatsch. Rosemary Kirstein, Joan Slonczewski.


Sunday July 15

11:00 AM F Performing Books to Ourselves. Ellen Brody, Andy Duncan, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Kushner (leader). In a 2011 blog post, Daniel Abraham wrote, “Reading a book is a performance by an artist (the writer) for an audience (the reader).” But readers also perform works to themselves, imagining characters and settings and events, and perform works to others when reading aloud. In those cases, is the writer taking more of a directorial role, or is there a more complex synergy afoot, especially when we get into audiobooks, fiction podcasts, and other carefully produced performances? How does awareness of these layers of performance shape the ways that writers write and readers read?

12:00 PM E Autographs. Rosemary Kirstein, Ellen Klages.



That’s it.


No, no I do not complain!  Because, you know what?   Every year, at every convention I attend, I’m so wound up about what I’m going to say in the panels I participate in that I rarely have time and mental space to enjoy watching other people’s panels.    This time, I’ll be more free to absorb and enjoy.

Seriously, I could use some inspiration right about now, and conventions are one of the best ways to get some.


So, here’s the list of events I plan to attend:



Right after my kaffeklatsch,  at 9:00 John Crowley is reading.   Is he reading for a half-hour, or an hour?   Because at 9:30, Walter Hunt is reading.    I’d like to hear them both.    But if Crowley’s reading for an hour, he’ll probably win.

At 10:30, there’s the Meet the Schmoes Pros (e) party.   I’ll both be attending and gawking at my favorite writers.   And collecting quotes.   For those of you who don’t know: Most of the authors will have a sheet full of peel-off labels containing a single line from one of their works.   Collect ’em all!  Mix and match!   One of the best things about this (for the shy) is having an excuse to interact with a writer you might admire but who, after all, is really a total stranger.    Works pretty well.



10:00 AM      Book Learning. Gregory Feeley, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Katherine MacLean, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Ann Tonsor Zeddies. In an article for The Guardian in 2008, James Wood wrote that “novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or ‘deep’ enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level.” Not mentioned is the question of what readers bring to this educational experience. Some readers see plenty of character depth in the works of Asimov, Card, Herbert, or Heinlein, but others disagree; are the readers who find those characters too cardboard actually stubbornly refusing to be taught how to like them? When and why do readers choose books that require education in character appreciation, and when we encounter them by accident, what makes us decide to stick with them?

Ah, theoretical stuff — always a good way to rewire my brain.  Plus:  Ann Zeddies, a pal and always a treat on a panel.

11:00 AM      Samuel R. Delany’s Golden Jubilee. Matthew Cheney, Ron Drummond (leader), L. Timmel Duchamp, Elizabeth Hand, Donald G. Keller, Jo Walton. 2012 can be seen as a milestone year in the career of Samuel R. Delany: his 70th birthday; the 50th anniversary of his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor; the 35th anniversary of his classic critical work, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw; the 24th anniversary of being GOH at Readercon 2. Few writers have contributed so much over so long to all aspects of our field—science fiction, fantasy, critical theory, comics, autobiography, editing, teaching, even a documentary film. And he’s still going, with a new novel out this year! This panel will celebrate Delany’s past, present, and future contributions to the field.

I was once introduced to Delaney.   The next time he saw me, he remembered my name.   I can’t think of one other giant of the field of which that’s true.  The man puts my brain in knots.  That’s a good thing.  Ooh, and bonus Jo Walton, whom I love.


Lunch:  I’m hiding out with friends for lunch.   Don’t look for me — I won’t be found!


 3:00 PM  The Rhysling Award Poetry Slan, The Rhyslings are the annual awards of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and Readercon is proud to be their ongoing annual host. (A poetry “slan” — to be confused with “slam” — is a poetry reading by sf folks. If you don’t get the in-joke, ask an sf fan above a certain age)

I was never particularly interested in SF Poetry; then one year I happened to radomly wander into this event at Readercon.   Now I try to never miss it.  Every time, there’s been something that moved me so deeply I had to leave the room to compose myself.

6:00 PM   Writing Motivation Toolbox. Luc Reid. Leveraging recent psychological and neurological research, Luc Reid offers a brief tour of human motivation mechanisms as well as specific ways to get past writer’s block, inspire enthusiasm, sharpen focus, and get words onto the page. Many of the ideas from this talk about writing can be carried over to other areas of life, such as health, business, organization, and relationships.

Okay, naturally I’m interested.   Could be schlock, could be crap, could be pop-psy garbage, or might actually be useful.   We’ll see.


7:00 PM    Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza. Matthew Kressel, Veronica Schanoes, Brian Francis Slattery (leader), Jeff VanderMeer, Jo Walton. ONCE AGAIN AND FOR THE SECOND TIME, Eric Rosenfield and Brian Francis Slattery of the Wold Newton Reading Extravaganza Series will orchestrate yet another INCREDIBLY FANCY SONIC ART EXPERIMENT consisting of ESTEEMED LITERARY PERSONAGES reading TEXTUAL OBJECTS in short bursts, one after another accompanied by LIVE, IMPROVISED MUSIC provided by a FULL BAND, with the intent of creating a kind of unbroken MOSAIC of what Readercon FEELS LIKE. Come witness our spectacular SUCCESS and/or FAILURE

I have no idea what this is.    I guess I’ll find out.

8:00 PM   The 26th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. Mike Allen, Rose Fox, Craig Shaw Gardner (leader), Yves Meynard, Eric M. Van (moderator).

I’ve seen a LOT of these, so I probably won’t stay for the whole thing.   I’ll wander in and out, and visit with pals and readers in between.



 10:00 AM     The Seven Deadly Myths of Creativity. Andy Duncan, Joe Haldeman, Steve Kelner (leader), Toni L.P. Kelner, Matthew Kressel, Jennifer Pelland, Luc Reid. What is creativity, really? How does it work? Many people think of it as somehow magical, but in fact there has been considerable neuropsychological research devoted to the process of creativity, and current evidence makes it clear that it is inherent in the human brain: everyone is creative; the question is how to harness it. There are many myths about creativity that not only are unhelpful but have actively blocked or inhibited writers. Fortunately, many of these myths are entirely explicable and avoidable. Stephen Kelner, a research psychologist who is also a professional writer, will give an overview of the myths and the realities, and discussion will further explore individual participants’ questions or challenges.

I might drop by for some of this if I’m not too wound up about my own panel at 11.


And for the afternoon, after my autographing, I’ll just generally hang around and schmooze and socialize, and generally try to delay the inevitable return home, with the DayJob waiting to pounce on me Monday morning.

So… thinking of coming?

Here’s the full schedule, so you can decide better!










Jul 23 2011

Plus: masks


I’ve successfully accomplished Readercon, or at least my part of it. The panel discussion on the phenomenon of the book size inflation was seriously excellent, with me,the lovely and talented Walter H. Hunt; the always-edifying Tom Easton; the multiply-skilled teacher/writer/reviewer Leigh Grossman; and the ever-remarkable and estimable Howard Waldrop.

Upshot? It’s caused by:

a) the fact that overworked editors rarely have the time to do much real editing these days, and do not always encourage authors to choose the one right word when a paragraph or two will accomplish the same thing
b) the phenomenon of the author who is so successful that whatever they write will sell, so why edit it at all?
c) changes in technology that make it easier and cheaper to print big fat books, so there’s little pressure not to do so
e) other changes in technology that make it easier for the author to get the words on the page quickly and painlessly (I’m talking word processors, here), so there’s more impulse to just keep on writing
f) still other changes in technology (talking E-books here), that make it just as easy to lug around a 1,000 page tome as it is to carry around a magazine,

And my personal favorite:

g) the desire or the reader to immerse in the imagined world, and stay there as long as possible, and return in subsequent volumes as often as possible, because it’s fun there and we like it.

All of these things operating simultaneously, see.

Other highlights:

My signing, where actual persons actually asked for my autograph, with entertaining conversation during the slow times with Alex Jablokov and the perennial Walter H Hunt, who were sharing the autograph table with me.

My Kaffeeklatsch, where two small klatsches were merged into one reasonable sized one, and I ended up sharing space, fans, and quips with some guy named — what was it again? Oh, yeah, Walter Hunt

After Readercon, it was off to my usual post-con gathering with Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Geary Gravel, where we discuss and examine art, life, humanity, technology, science, truth, beauty, fate, love, longing, literature, dogs, two-sided sticky tape, champagne, local restaurants, and the heat death of the universe. Plus: arts and crafts

Usually, we do collages. Like this one:

From last time

From last time

This time Ann had the brilliant idea of doing masks instead! After much struggling with the materials (we now know how to do it so it’ll be better next time) we came up with these:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Here they are closer, but not as clear as I hoped they’d come out. The titles (in hovertext) are my own, and if Ann & Geary disagree, they are free to correct me. If They Dare!


the jewel-eyed moth finds light


aztec queen

These are Geary’s:

in demonstration of the quantum nature of consciousness


some guys just have great hair

And my two:

the abyss looks back but does not speak


birds of the world

It was fun. Messy, but fun — I mean: Messy PLUS fun.

Many thanks to Geary (and Berry) for hosting the event.

Jul 14 2011



No time, ZERO! Working overtime at the DayJob so as to pre-catch up for being away all next week. Strained my back a bit, as sometimes happens when I forget to take breaks, so I now move more slowly exactly when I need to be moving faster.

Trying to prepare for a trip that includes: attending a convention where I must dress not like a slob, and be able to speak intelligently on a writerly subject; hanging out with writer pals, where I can wear any ol’ thing, but must read stuff out loud, provide beverages, and prepare to do arts & crafts; and day-hiking in the White Mountains, where I must somehow also appear with at least 3 cakes in hand.

I am NOT baking those cakes. I will buy pre-baked.

I managed to squeeze in some good writing time on Monday, plus the gym — then it was bye-bye to all that, and hello prep-chaos.

Although, on Monday I did drive all the way to the Funky Monkey and only remembered when I got there that it’s closed on Mondays. Had to do Panera’s instead.

Where I wanted to be vs. where I was

Where I wanted to be vs. where I was

Time’s up! Hit the ground running!

Jul 9 2011

My Readercon Schedule


Going to Readercon next weekend!

Readercon is really my favorite convention. It’s not overwhelmingly huge, it’s focused on literature instead of TV/Movies, and it’s near enough that I don’t have to shell out $$$! for plane fare.

And of course, there’s the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Science Fiction and Fantasy Prose Competition extravaganza, which is always a hoot.

I’ve just learned that the Thursday evening events are free and open to the public! So if you want a free taste (said the pusher), come on by.

Thursday’s program is short, with only two hours of programming. However, get this, there are 7 panels to choose from in that time, and 7 different author readings

That’s a lot.

Alas, I am:

a) not coming until Friday
b) annoyed to discover that 4 events that I really, really want to see all take place simultaneously at 8PM on Thursday.

Even if I were to drive up after the Dayjob on Thursday, I’d be able to see only ONE of those presentations, as I am — so far, at least — only one person. And then have to drive back home so’s I can get up for the DayJob on Friday. This frustrates me no end.

Plus: I’ll miss all the programming on Friday until 7ish. But after that, I’m golden.

Here’s the program grid, showing when everything is.

And here are panel descriptions, since you can’t always tell what a panel’s about from the title.

I have exactly one panel myself:

Saturday July 16
10:00 AM F Book Inflation. Tom Easton, Leigh Grossman (leader), Walter H. Hunt, Rosemary Kirstein, Howard Waldrop. For decades, SF novels had an average length of about 200 pages, and to write an SF novel of 450 pages was exceptional and A Statement. Now, 450 pages seems average. What are the forces that caused this change? Why, in an era when attention spans are supposedly shorter than ever, are big books the norm? What are the effects of longer books (and longer sequences of books) on our experience as readers? Have writers lost the art of economy? Is there more immersive pleasure in long books than short?

I also have an autograph session:

Sunday July 17
11:00 AM E Autographs. Walter H. Hunt, Alexander Jablokov, Rosemary Kirstein.

And there’s a Kaffeeklatsch (this is where you and other fans sign up to just hang out with a writer, drinking coffee, eating cookies — I’ll bring some!– and discussing whatever happens to come up):

2:00 PM Vin. Kaffeeklatsch. Scott Edelman, Walter H. Hunt, Rosemary Kirstein, Joan Slonczewski.

That’s a pretty light schedule for me — but it gives me a chance to see other presentations. I always find the Readercon panels enlightening and inspiring. I feel invigorated, ready to take on the world!

And frankly, I could really use some inspiration. Overtime at the DayJob’s been kinda heavy lately…

Oct 27 2010

Catherynne M. Valente and Amal El-Mohtar reading “Damascus Divides the Lovers by Zero”


No, don’t just jump ahead and click on the video! Read this first:

As I mentioned in the comments the other day, the first time I’d encountered Catherynne M. Valente’s work was at a poetry reading at Readercon, 2009.

I try to catch at least part of the poetry “slan” (as Readercon calls it) every time I go to Readercon. I always hear something I enjoy. But this time I was totally blown away, and brought to tears, by “Damascus Divides the Lovers by Zero.”

Later, in the dealer’s room, I bought a copy of the 2008 Rhysling Anthology 2009 Rhysling Anthology, which had the poem in it, hoping I could get the poem autographed…

Later still, I discovered myself seated right beside Valente at our joint autographing session!

I did get her autograph, but El-Mohtar, alas, had left the convention. But I also bought from Valente a copy of Palimpsest.

Then other day, while looking up the exact spelling of Amal El-Mohtar’s name on the internet, I came across a YouTube video of that very reading.

I watched it, but I noticed something: the video failed to recapture my experience.

I fear that the problem is that the person who made the recording had not as good a seat as I had, and the words are not always clearly audible. It makes a difference.

Solution: Keep the text beside you as you watch the video!

So, I found the text online here: Lone Star Stories: Damascus Divides the Lovers by Zero by Amal El-Mohtar and Catherynne M. Valente. I suggest that you open in it a separate window, make that window half your screen, and put the video on the other half; then you can watch and read along… (Alternatively, print out the text.)

Last point: as I recall from the introduction they gave the reading, Valente and El-Mohtar had each independently written poems about Damascus (by intent or accident, I can’t recall which), and when they compared them, found that they paralleled each other, and fit together beautifully; and so they wove them into one poem for two voices.


Okay… now run the video.

The poem:

Lone Star Stories: Damascus Divides the Lovers by Zero by Amal El-Mohtar and Catherynne M. Valente.

Jun 5 2010

Why I’m not going to Readercon this year… (Reason One)


So, I thought to myself, “You know what would be neat? If I had a bunch of time off before Readercon, so that I could think about the panels and not be all rushed and frantic when I got to the convention.” So I requested the Paid Days Off from my boss and Human Resources, and there you go: a whole week off before Readercon.

And then I thought, “You know what else would be neat? If I had a couple of days off after Readercon, so I could just hang out with my pals, and talk shop, and life, and science fiction and stuff.” And I got those days off from work, too.

Then the pals in question decided not to come to Readercon…

And I thought, “Well, that’s okay, because what I could do with those days after Readercon, is maybe try to get some actual writing in…”

And that’s when the ton of bricks hit me.

If I skip Readercon entirely I will have (counting weekends) eleven contiguous days in which I can just immerse myself in actual WRITING. I can clear the decks entirely, and not have to worry about DayJob issues, and keep whatever hours I choose, and not have to try to write in 1-hour blocks, which never works well for me, and …

Well, there you are.

So I sent Readercon my regrets, and now I’m just counting the days to when I can FORGET ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE!

I YOU were planning on attending Readercon, and looking forward to seeing me there, I apologize. And remember: Readercon is one of the best of the smaller conventions, and time spent there is time well spent.

There is a very slim chance that (if things are going really, really, well with my writing), I might pop by for a day, as a paying attendee, not as a program participant. But only a chance. (Seriously, these panels sound so cool that I wish I didn’t have to miss them.)

So, that’s my plan.

Also on computer

Oh — Why the “reason one” in the title, above?

Because there might be a second reason… ask me again on Friday.