Jul 30 2013

Peripheral writing biz tasks. Plus: collage book-boxes


I’ve been wrapped up in tons of writerly tasks that, while not actually generating prose, support and enable the future generation of prose.  Ate up my entire weekend plus day off. But necessary.

About which, more Real Soon Now.  But I finally found a few moments in which to blog!

People have asked for more on the collaged book-boxes Ann and Geary and I made at this year’s post-Readercon gathering. Alas: nearly all the photos came out horribly blurry! I think I was wearing my wrong glasses at the time.

(Annoyingly, I now have three sets: 225’s that I use to read print, 150’s that I use to read computer screens, and a graduated focus pair that are mostly plano with a 225 reading area — which I hate, because the area is about the size of one word on a printed page, requiring me to read by moving my head as if I were watching a ping-pong match.)

I’ve pulled out the least blurry of the photos.   (Hey, Ann & Geary: if you want, take some new pictures of your own books, and email them — I’ll replace these with your better ones.)

We each made two book-boxes this time: one large and one small.

This was mine:

Cover of my big book

cover of my big book


The Spine...

The Spine


The back...

The back.




And the smaller book:

The cover...

The cover




Inside cover.

inside cover




Back cover

Back cover




Front of the big book





inside cover

inside cover



Here’s his second:







inside cover

inside cover



And Ann’s:

Cover of Ann's big book

Cover of Ann’s big book.


and the back

and the back.




Her smaller book:






inside cover

inside cover



And finally: The cake (courtesy of Geary), and party favors (from me).



(PS: Always read the hovertext. )

Jul 22 2013

Readercon. As promised.


Hot.  Hot hot hot.   Northeast was miserable all week and all weekend!

Readercon was lovely, however, despite — or possibly because of — having to drive there and back on Thursday for my two events, and drive back for the weekend after work on Friday.

Someone suggested to me that Thursday at Readercon is attended by only the most dedicated and devoted of fans.   Possibly that’s true, given that most people would have to take actual time off work to be there by Thursday.     A purer, more distilled Readercon, perhaps?   Actually, Readercon is really already distilled, focusing as it does on actual readable works and eschewing other media.  La creme de la creme de la creme, perhaps?

Well, I certainly had a grand time.

The panel “The Bit I Remember” came off well, I thought, with Howard Waldrop, Sonya Taaffe, Yoon Ha Lee, Ellen Brody and I contributing reminiscences of tales and parts of tales that stuck with us long after the stories in question were read; and discussions of why, and how.

I had my sad tale of Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars, the book that got me hooked on science fiction.   Loved it, as a kid — later discovered that its message was exactly the opposite of what I thought it was.  Alas.

But then I also got to share my experience with John Wyndham’s Rebirth (The Chrysalids, in Britain) — where every time I read it I found more and more to love:  Starting with “Ooh, telepathic kids, neat!” at around age 12; through “Wow, nuclear apocalypse that’s so deep– !”  at about 14; through “The evils of forced conformity — true, so true!” at about 16; through “Religion as a tool of suppression –  amen to that!” at about 19; to, sometime after I had become a published author in my own right, “Holy Moses — look at the prose, look at how the thread of the tale is spun out, look at what’s said and what’s not said, look at how he makes the reader discover the tale …this guy really knows how to write!

And an interesting moment came when Yoon Ha Lee brought up reading Poul Andersons’ Brain Wave at age twelve — which I read at pretty much the same age, give or take.

She hated it!  I loved it!

Things that made it unreadable to her just washed over me with no effect. At one point, I was mentioning how my identification as a reader was more with the male characters, and the lesser role of the females didn’t outrage me at that age — and she gave me a puzzled side-glance that I could not help but read as a polite version of: What, are you crazy?

It wasn’t until later, when Waldrop mentioned the old witticism that the “Golden Age of Science Fiction” is 12, that I realized something:

Yoon Ha Lee read Brain Wave at age twelve.  I read it at age twelve.

Yoon Ha Lee’s age twelve was in 1993.   My age twelve was in 1965.

And that was the difference.

In 1965 there were almost zero female protagonists to be found in science fiction.  Of course I was identifying with the males.  Of course it was their story that was the story.  I was too young to know it was possible for things to be different.

All the things I liked about Brain Wave still exist, of course.   But Yoon is certainly right that women were given rather short shrift; and their experience of the events of the book are based on that time’s expectations of women’s roles — which would absolutely be objectionable in 1993!

By the way, the book was written in 1953.   In retrospect, I’m amazed that women were present at all!

(For the record, there were two major female characters.  One was a secretary, the other a housewife.  When planet Earth moved out of the dampening field that had been suppressing electromagnetic processes, which life on Earth had evolved to compensate for, and the result was much more efficient brain function, allowing for greater possible operational intelligence — the secretary could handle it and the housewife, tragically, could not.)

Alas, I realized the huge gap between my twelve and Yoon’s much too late to add it to the discussion onstage.   The conversation had moved on.

One of the more interesting panels I’ve participated in.   You know, you can’t always tell by the printed description in the program schedule.

And my reading was one of the best-attended I’ve ever had.   There must have been about a dozen people there — I was quite surprised.

I hadn’t decided beforehand what I would be reading, choosing to leave the choice to the last minute (hoping, frankly, for some inspiration).   When I arrived I explained that much of my new stuff was in flux; and of the parts that were readable, I had already read all I could without going into spoilers, at previous readings.   So I would be reading from something already published….

And then, hooray!  Inspiration did strike me!

In the form of: me addressing the audience, and asking “Is there anything you would like to hear me read?”

A hand shot straight up, immediately, no hesitation. I called on the woman.  She said (or words to the same effect): “The part where Rowan and Bel are at the campfire, and their discussing the giant throwing the jewels, and drawing diagrams on the ground.”

Perfect!  Moody, scientific!  A neat encapsulation of the tone and sense of the whole series, in one scene!  And the scene that immediately follows that is a great action sequence.

And that’s what I read.  I think it went well.   I certainly had fun.

Immediately after the reading, some people came up for autographs, including the hand-raiser, who said: “Thank you for the teapot!”

Yes, it was Mary Alexandra Agner, winner of the latest Teapot contest — and a writer herself, of stories, articles and poetry.   I was so glad to meet her.   (And you should explore her website.)

Hm.  I see I’ve spent rather a long time on this post already… I’ll have to make the rest brief:

Readercon was much smaller this year than previously, I believe — which is not a bad thing, as long as they were able to break even on their costs.

My actual autographing was at the end of the convention, and I think only one person asked that something be signed.

The “Constellations of Genres” panel was, alas, a snore.

John Crowley’s presentation on “Teaching Utopia” was fascinating.

The backlist/ebook panel (including Betsy Mitchell, who did such a brilliant job editing The Lost Steersman back when she was with Del Rey Books) was very interesting…

And the Crowdfunding panel was excellent, with lots of examples, suggestions, warnings, encouragement, etc.

After the convention, as is now usual, I spent some quality time with Ann Tonsor Zeddies and Geary Gravel.  And there are pictures of our crafts project, but alas, I have to stop writing this now.   So I’ll write about that later this week.

But here’s a teaser:

One of two that Geary made...

One of two that Geary made…

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.