Feb 17 2017

Skipping Boskone


Yep, I’m skipping Boskone this weekend, reasons being twofold:

  1. I am scrimping and saving and economizing like mad,  hoping to get to the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki in August.  This is a pricey endeavor.   Planefare, hotels, food, weeks away from home in foreign countries.  My current plan is: Yes! I will go!  To accomplish this, other things have to fall by the wayside.
  2. I am in a broody, antisocial mood, brought on by story woes. I am still struggling to sort this book out into decent order.  Willing to see small groups of people, yes; grumbly-grumble, lemme-alone-dammit at very large groups of people.

But just because I’m not there, no reason you shouldn’t go!  Boskone is a blast. Here’s their website.  And here’s the list of program events.  (If you click on the list-view selection, you can see who’s on which panels and events.)  People you might like who are attending:  Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, Brian Sanderson, Ken McLeod, A.C. Ambrose, Bruce Coville, Craig Shaw Gardner, Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden, Walter Jon Williams, Jane Yolen, and plenty more.

Seriously, you should go.  You don’t get out enough.

Despite missing Boskone, I will still be attending Readercon, July13-16.  I’ve been going to Readercon for ages, and I’ve been invited back this year.  (There was a snafu one year; I’ll be sure to follow up and make certain they’re keeping me on the list.)

In other random news: My car is having its clutch replaced.  Not cheap; but my mechanic is convinced that this will give the old crate five more years of life.  Amortized across five years, and eliminating the need for a new car, this works out pretty well.

We are painting various odd corners of the condo.  Furniture gets moved, a thing gets painted, furniture gets moved back.  It’s a process.

I have decided to learn as many songs about stories as I can.  Not songs that are stories; songs that refer to the existence of stories, or mention story-telling, inside the song.  I already have Patty Larkin’s “The Book I’m Not Reading” under my belt.  I have recently added Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer’s “The Mountain” (which begins: “I was born in a fork-tongued story”).   Now working on Deb Talan’s “Tell Your Story Walking,” which is much trickier than it sounds.

I am open to suggestions…

Feb 21 2015

Boskone in the blizzard


For the last few years, Boskone has been held at the BostonWestin Harborside –  a seriously upscale hotel.  Why this is the case, I do not know… you’d think that a less-expensive location would attract more attendees.   It’s a bit of a squeeze to be able to afford the weekend.

But I have to say that this year I actually appreciated the amenities.   Having returned to the day-job, being a bit more tired from that, and uncertain about my energy level after all the treatments of various kinds — it was nice to just pay the money and take it easy.

25 year old Macallan.   The best scotch I've ever had in my life...

25 year old Macallan. The best scotch I’ve ever had in my life…


Park in the expensive hotel garage, dine at the restaurants.   Relax in the hotel lounge/bar/atrium, with the indoors birches, and gaze out the three-storey-tall wall of glass at the MAJOR BLIZZARD outside.  Pretty nice.

In between the sessions of snowplowing.

In between the sessions of snowplowing.

I was on only two panels, which was about all I could reasonably handle this time around, I think.

One was on cross-influences between music and science fiction/fantasy, which evolved into mainly a discussion about how filk music has expanded from from jokey parodies and developed into simply music with sf/f themes.    Much was said by persons far more erudite than myself, and I feel I learned a lot.

The second was on world-building: how we do it, and how we communicate it.   This was a lot of fun.  My co-panelists were Myke Cole, Peadar O Guilin, Lauren Roy, and E. C. Ambrose (aka Elaine Isaak), who also served as moderator.

I have to say that Elaine is a brilliant moderator — as well as having a lot to say as a participant.   She kept things moving, brought up great topics, and did it all with grace and aplomb.

I believe that what made it so interesting was first, the range of viewpoints represented; and second, our willingness to step up and disagree with each other (in a civilized way).  Myke set the tone on this, by announcing  up front that he was by nature a very vehement person, and warned us that he’d state his opinions in a strong manner, but that it didn’t mean that he didn’t respect our opinions — it’s just the way he was.  I now feel that every panel should begin with a similar announcement by someone, because we were off and running.  I believe no one held back.  This made for a lively exchange, and a good overview of all the different ways to make your world-building work.

What are those ways?

Well, there’s the minimalist approach (Myke’s choice), where you create just enough world to have the illusion of there being more world behind it — like the plywood cut-outs of houses used in old movie sets.   The reader creates the sense of the world by the clues and cues given by the author.
Then there’s the wide, deep, detailed world, of which the reader only sees the bit pertaining to the story at hand (As J.R.R. Tolkein did).

And there are all sorts of ranges in between the extremes.

And there’s my approach, which is a sort of feedback loop, where you might create some aspect of a world in order to justify a particular dramatic point, which  aspect then generates other details about the world (or necessitates actual research!), which then in turn inspire further dramatic points — and  repeat until the world or society reaches the required level of depth and breadth.

As for how your world is communicated: Elaine had a lovely demonstration (which she uses when teaching writing), where she has people take out a penny, and look at the penny, and see just how much the simple existence of this tiny object communicates about the society that uses it.    There are obvious things it tells us, such as that metal is used by this culture — but did you ever notice that there are two languages on a penny?  And that there are examples of clothing, and architecture?   And she said more — I won’t tell it all.   But that was such a smart thing to say, and such a smart thing to make us notice.

And lots more was said — about research, and inspiration (Peadar spoke of looking for the extremes; I spoke of flipping expectations).    It was all fun and interesting.   I’d do that again, with the same line-up, in a heartbeat.

Non-paneling, just hanging around…

Jo Walton introduced me to Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller of the a capella group Sassafrass, and we were treated to a couple of stunning tunes from the Norse Myth song cycle/play that Ada wrote.   Even with just the two singers, the songs were amazing, and moving.

At one point I actually borrowed a guitar and sang and played Buddy Mondlock’s “The Kid”, which I thought I could handle… but my voice is still shredded, and my breath control non-existent, and my fingers wouldn’t do all the fiddly bits of the arrangement I use, so I had to simplify on the fly… but it felt good.  Time to put in some practice and get my serious chops back.

Here’s Buddy himself doing the song:

You know,  I seem to be the only person who does the third verse these days (“I’m the kid who fell asleep at the movies…”).   Possibly because it’s rather a long song when it’s included… But it was on the lyric sheet included with the cassette (!) when I bought it ages ago, and I do love that verse.

Also, I had an autograph session!


The crowds at my autograph session

The crowds at my autograph session

Oh, and I did a reading.

About which, more later.




Feb 1 2015



This year Boskone is February 13-15, and I’ll be there.

For those of you who don’t know, Boskone is the longest-running Science Fiction convention. I try to do it every year (but was not able last year, it being in the midst of my heaviest sessions of chemo).

But here’s a thing I just noticed: On Friday from 2PM to 6PM, all the events are FREE to the public. So, if you’ve never been to a science fiction convention,  and want a free taste, here’s your chance. Head over to the program schedule and take a look: there are some really interesting items taking place in the “free” period.  The convention takes place in Boston, at the Westin Waterfront .

As for my schedule, it’s this:

Reading: Rosemary Kirstein
Saturday 10:30 – 10:55, Independence (Westin)

Mining Fiction and Music for Creative Inspiration
Saturday 14:00 – 14:50, Marina 4 (Westin)

While fiction inspires music, music also inspires fiction. How do these two forms of expression interact? Panelists discuss examples of music or fiction that were inspired by the other genre. Who are the great literary musicians? Discussion may also include some live demonstrations as examples.  Panelists: F. Brett Cox (Moderator), Maya Bohnhoff , Rosemary Kirstein , Beth Runnerwolf, Mary Ellen Wessels

Writers on Writing: Worldbuilding from the Ground Up
Sunday 12:00 – 12:50, Harbor III (Westin)

Some spectacular stories take place in worlds very different from our own: from life on (or in) a gas giant to a civilization that lives on a world-tree as big as the Himalayas. But there are perils associated with venturing far beyond human experience. An inconsistent or poorly described worldscape can furnish a confusing story, or challenge a reader’s ability to suspend disbelief. Hear from writers who have created fully realized worlds that their readers can almost see, touch, and smell.  Panelists: E. C. Ambrose (Moderator), Myke Cole, Peadar Ó Guilín, Lauren Roy, Rosemary Kirstein

Autographing: Steven Brust, Rosemary Kirstein, Darrell Schweitzer, Jill Shultz
Sunday 14:00 – 14:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)
This is only the second convention I’ve done since going through my various treatments and surgery.   I made it to Readercon last year, but I was pushing it, a bit.   I had only one panel, and that was about all I could handle, really; and I don’t feel I was at my best.

I’m still not quite at my best… I don’t feel as sharp as I’d like, nor as mentally nimble (very useful during panel discussions, where one sometimes has to be certain to get heard).   Still, I must come out of hiding at some point!

And yes, I am doing a reading.  I have no idea what I’ll read, yet.  But something will be read.  By me.

I note that I seem to have no Kaffeklatsch, and I wonder if I forgot to ask for one?  Too late now.

Of particular interest:  Jo Walton is conducting an interview with Guest of Honor Steven Brust.  Both Jo Walton and Steve Brust have readings, as do Jane Yolen, James Patrick Kelly, and Charles Stross (whose reading takes place during the “free” part of the convention).   Also,  some of the panels sound fascinating — they always do, and I can never manage to get to as many as I’d like.   I hope to catch some poetry and music, too.  (Alas, I won’t be performing, myself — I’m not fit for that, yet.  Chemo and peripheral neuropathy  have conspired to make it hard for me to play guitar for very long, meaning that not only can I not play for long, I’m also seriously out of practice.  And my singing voice is sort of… shredded.  And my breath control is non-existent! As a performer, I’m a mess.  But!  Next year!  I’ll get it all back!)

Well.  Must get back to work now (my work, not the day job), which at the moment consists of prepping for my panels and figuring out what of this  great mess of a book can possibly be extracted to read in public in a coherent fashion — and if possible can it be something that I have not read in public before?

Plus: getting ready for the next great snowstorm, which apparently should hit, oh, any minute now.



Dec 21 2011

Boskone wants to know!


Whilst hunkering down and enduring the crunch at the DayJob, and preparing for Xmas and New Year, the fun thing on my horizon is Boskone, NESFA’s regional science fiction convention, taking place in Boston, February 17-19.

Boskone is one of the conventions I try not to miss. It’s a favorite — but you know, by now I’ve been to an awful lot of them across the years…

So, when I was signing up and they asked me what I wanted to talk about, what sorts of panels I wanted to participate in, and what great ideas I had for new panels or discussion groups, I sort of went, “Um, um… well, you know, same old…”

Then I thought: wouldn’t it be great if I knew what panels my readers wanted to see me on, and what subjects they would like to hear me talk about?

Then I remembered: Oh, right. I could ask them.

So, what do you think? If you’re going to Boskone, or are willing for the moment to imagine that you will be going, what panels, discussions, or brainstorming sessions would YOU attend if you know that Rosemary Kirstein would be there?

If you’ve never been to a convention, take a look at last year’s Boskone schedule for inspiration. (And you can see what panels I was on last year — I’d be happy to repeat; they were interesting and fun.)

(Oh, how 21st cen, to be crowd-sourcing my con panel ideas…)

In other news: Hooray! First trailer for The Hobbit!

This makes me happy. I’m tired, I’ve been working the DayJob too hard too long, and I’m so happy to see Middle Earth.

Feb 12 2011

Boskone, and why I’m not doing a reading.


It’s Boskone time again!

In case you don’t know, Boskone is one of my favorite conventions, and I’ll be attending again this year.

It takes place in Boston, at the Westin Hotel, February 18-20th. See their web page for more info.

Here’s my schedule of panels and events:

Friday 6pm Big Canvas, Little Strokes: Creating an Epic Fantasy Series
Peter V. Brett
David Anthony Durham (Moderator)
Elaine Isaak
Rosemary Kirstein
Jo Walton
Building a world in fractal detail, animating a vast cast of
characters, finding and holding an audience: let’s talk about the
challenges of writing in a format with perhaps the broadest scope in
the business.

Saturday 2PM — Kaffeklatch. (This is where you just get to hang out with me, while drinking coffee and tea, and eating the treats I’ll probably buy at the Tiptree Bake sale.

Sunday 10am Music for Writers and Readers
Alan F. Beck
Rosemary Kirstein
Resa Nelson
Faye Ringel (M)
What music do you listen to when in a creative mood? Writers will
bring examples to soothe the audience’s savage breasts. The audience
may respond with their own favorite tunes to read great SF/F/H by.

Sunday 2PM Autographing. I’ll sign your books, memorabilia, etc. I draw the line at body parts, however. I might have a handful of books you can buy and then have me autograph, but I do encourage you to buy from the bookdealers in the Dealer’s Room if you can. We have to support them!

Now, as to why I’m not doing a reading.

As you may have noticed, it’s taking a while to complete the next volume of the Steerswoman Series.

I’ve read a lot of sections from that work-in-progress across the years. And as of now, I’ve read far too much of it. It’s no longer possible to read more of what I have without a) MAJOR plot spoilers, and/or b) reading something far to raw and recent, or c) reading something that will just be WRONG and need editing out later.

The other thing I’m writing is my Seekrit Project. Which, of course cannot be read from. As it is Seekrit. Until it’s done.

Thus, nothing to read, unless I read from old already-published works. Which, I just don’t care to.

Anyway, the Kaffeklatsch is instead of the reading. So, come and BE with me! We can talk. I’m nice, really. Many people have told me so.

Other writers I like who will be there: Jo Walton, David Anthony Durham, Jane Yolen, Michael Swanwick, Walter Hunt, and oh, plenty more. Plus: artists! Scientists! Filkers!

Do come.

Jan 31 2010

Boskone, yes!


Yep, I’ll be going to Boskone.   It’s one of the two east coast conventions that I rarely miss (the other being Readercon).

Here’s my schedule:

Saturday3pm        The Heroine’s Journey
Lois McMaster Bujold
Greer Gilman
Rosemary Kirstein        (M)
Margaret Ronald
Jo Walton
Is it different from that of the hero? If so, in what ways?

Yes,  I’m the moderator of that one — always an adventure.

Saturday5pm        Autographing

Sunday  12noon     When The Magic Goes Away
David Anthony Durham
Rosemary Kirstein
Tom Shippey        (M)
Jo Walton
Jane Yolen
There is magic and mystery and great beauty. And then the Old Magic
slips away from the forests, the gates to Faerie close, and the last
ships sail to the west. There is a bittersweet memory, perhaps, of
what it was to be more than merely mortal. Explore this theme, and
why it is so potent.

Sunday  1pm        Long Series: What Gives Them Staying Powers?
Jeffrey A. Carver
John R. Douglas        (M)
Alexander Jablokov
Rosemary Kirstein
Alastair Reynolds

Is it just the comfort of returning to a familiar place….or something more? Expound.

I’m  pleased that I’m sharing the panels with this particular collection of writers.   It should be really interesting.

Downside: I won’t be staying at the actual hotel this time, but commuting from the hither side of yon.   So I won’t have my guitar.   Or a place to take a nap, should the pressure of fame overcome me.

(edit: the convention is in Boston, February 12, 13 & 14.)

Hey, come to Boskone!   Here’s the info.