I am not, by nature a schmoozer. In fact, I'm the Anti-Schmoozer. "I Am A Rock" is my theme song. My natural habitat? The shadows and fringes where I'm not noticed and can observe and listen. Or somewhere where everyone else isn't. By myself. Surrounded by chickens.
So how cool is it to say that my Denver Worldcon experience was one meeting after another with some professional information thrown in for good measure? And that so many, many writers were gracious about agreeing to participate in a critiquing session for the creative writing track in Montreal?
scottedelman has my photo on his Sunday blog entry, taken by tcastleb with Scott's camera. That would be this photo:
I'll be one of Scott's moo cards!
I didn't take my camera, so all photos in this post are copyright as marked and courtesy of as marked. Scott's full flickr stream of Denvention photos is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8293436@N04/sets/72157606585314145/
Commentary on Denvention is going to be looooong, so I'll put a cut here:
We arrived on Wednesday, my roommates and I, tcastleb who is also nica_berry and maralton. My sister and I have a tradition of attending Worldcons together. She does the media track and we don't see each other most of the con. This con she decided to get in line for the kaffeeklatsches and signed up for Lois McMaster Bujold and Elizabeth Moon, both of whom did not disappoint her, but were excellent hosts and storytellers. It seems it was a good idea to have the lists come out early in the morning instead of allowing signup one hour before the time. She managed to get over there two days in a row at 7:30am for signup at 9:00 am, with time and spaces to spare. Several other people had the same idea.
At the last minute I brought my yarn along and tcastleb picked yarn colors and decided how wide she wanted her scarf...which only meant ripping out 20 rows and starting over. I still need one more color for her as she doesn't like reds at all and rejected a strong blue-purple as well. If I were as efficient as Scott, I would be preparing my blog post on my blackberry thingie during the panels instead of knitting. That's how he manages to post so quickly. Traci (Nica Berry) is a great roommate and Scott took our photo together on Sunday.
photo copyright Scott Edelman
Wednesday night was my first officially scheduled event, a dinner with Adrienne Foster, Geri Balter and Rich Chwedyk to discuss the mechanics of organizing a critiquing workshop at a Worldcon. They are all very experienced and provided me with handouts and lots of anecdotes that are sekrit, sorry. I couldn't even take my roommates along. I'd had little sleep the night before, so I didn't go to any con activities. We did embarrass the daylights out of Rich when we insisted on window-shopping Victoria's Secret on the way back to the hotels. That was fun, watching him carefully stand about 20 feet AWAY from the display window.
Thursday morning I immediately ran into Scott Edelman, Jim Kelly, John Kessel and Connie Willis outside the convention center and we all chatted away before the first panel. John is sporting new shades that make him look like a very large praying mantis, which was cool. He also has a new book of stories out, The Baum Plan for Financial Independence, available from Small Beer Press (http://www.lcrw.net/kessel/). Great download of one of the stories read by his long-time friend, Greg Frost, is there.
photo copyright Scott Edelman
Connie was immediately surrounded by her Taos Toolboxxers...Dorothy dawtheminstrel, Bonnie mindseas, Traci tcastleb (and ME!) as we had all run into each other right then and there, while the con was still full of promise. One of those warm fuzzies, you know? A gaggle of folks you know and all chatting away, like I was with Jim. Jim has been busy recording 52 of his stories for audible.com, sold in 4 installments. I own the first two and highly recommend them. It's very cool to have JPK accompany me on long drives.
photo copyright Scott Edelman
Thursday afternoon, after Traci's first panel (I don't do panels) which was hijacked by the moderator himself when folks REALLY wanted to hear Traci talk about writing ebooks, Traci and I packed our laptops and hopped the free shuttle to Tattered Covers, the local independent bookstore. We shared a sandwich and worked. I was able to write an entire section on intercompany transfers of land (wow!) but Traci didn't get a whole lot done on the new Greek cicada story. Get to work on that. Who knew you get 35% royalties on ebooks? Pays for cons, it does.
Long post, eh?
Thursday night, Traci and I had dinner with Farah fjm to talk Montreal business along with such delightful companions as Amelia Beamer, Gary Wolfe, Karen Burnham and her husband Curtis. Just about everyone knows Amelia, she's the one with a camera glued to her person, but she and I go way back to her days as an intern for Clarion at MSU when I used to sponsor a scholarship. Karen writes reviews at SF Signal, very good ones I might add. Gary writes them for Locus, but you knew that. And Curtis has an amazing job for Boeing in Houston involved with building the Space Station.
Thursday night was my first trip (official) to the SFWA suite to drum up more writers for the Montreal workshop and, well, just because I can. Very cool was to immediately see my buddy Rich Chwedyk holding court in a Frank Zappa t-shirt (http://www.sfwa.org/members/chwedyk/).
photo copyright Scott Edelman
Rich writes these incredible stories about sentient toy dinosaurs. He won a well-deserved Nebula for "Bronte's Egg." The stories were all published in F&SF and are still available in Fictionwise. Why incredible? I finally understood when I heard him read from the latest one at Readercon. There are ten or more voices in each story and the final result is something of a cacophony that must be carefully knit together. Rich uses incredible skill to interweave the voices so they overrun each other without the reader losing the overall thread of the plot. Takes a poet to do that.
In the SFWA suite, I ran into Edward Muller (http://www.edwardmuller.com/) who had critiqued the "Wendy" story at LAConIV. After exchanging a few questions, he remembered my story. Yes, it's memorable, if only because it's WEIRD. But this exchange demonstrated yet another reason to hold writing workshops at Worldcon. Participants make connections with pros. Edward threatened to post on his web page how many days since I've sent a story out if I don't start sending them out. I also ran into Walter Jon Williams (and Kathy) who was supposed to do lunch on Sat, but couldn't, as he would be pitching his new book. Go Walter! Traci and I were thrilled to run into Kim Zimring (http://kimzimring.com/) who had been our other roommate at Taos Toolbox. Gardner was kind enough to chat a few minutes, doesn't remember me of course, but that was in 1996. But he DID remember Kim and had given her an Honorable Mention in this year's Best Of. Go Kim! The evening was capped by chatting with klingonguy and the Vivacious Val.
Moral of this is to go to the SFWA suite on non-party nights for lots of action.
Friday promised to be another busy day on very little sleep. I got up early and went down to the lobby for free wifi and chat with the Dude back home. I ran into Dorothy and Bonnie. Friday I attended a panel on publishing in the magazines, specifically Analog and Asimov's. Scott was also on the panel, but I have to admit my focus was on Sheila and Stan. (Yes, I went up and thanked Stan for buying my story which will be out in 3 weeks.) Based on how advertisers estimate readership, Re\Creation will be read by a potential of 100k readers which boggles my little brain. A story in Asimov's is read by a potential 80k readers (or more). By comparison, most anthologies have print runs of 3k-5k copies, with the notable exception of Gardner's Best Of and a couple of others. And SF and fantasy books certainly don't run to 80k-100k readers, unless they're a best seller. I'm just a newbie writer with my first pro story and look at that potential exposure.
Let's not go writing off the print magazines just yet, shall we?
For some writers, novels are the way to go, I don't dispute that. We should all write what we write best and in the way that suits. For me, I like writing shorts. I get to practice my storytelling skills and do some preliminary work in new worlds. I also have a novel in progress, but I don't feel I have the "chops" to pull it off just yet. Not the way I want.
Friday was the first time I really got to the Dealer's Room, where I renewed my Locus subscription, much to Amelia's delight. I also spent time chatting with Mike Shepherd Moscoe, who critiqued "Re\Creation" at LAConIV. (See what I mean about these connections?) Mike writes military space opera with a female protagonist and the Dude is a devoted fan, as is one of my tax clients, of the "Kris Longknife" series. So I got the low-down on the next couple of books. Next couple. Go Mike! Mike said the books are doing well and I'm happy for him.
Friday afternoon was "bag the con" time. The incredible Val and I went to a bowling alley two blocks away to drink and bowl very badly. I also drink badly, but that's beside the point. We had a great time, though Val is still complaining of aches and she won 2 out of 3 games with outrageously low scores and LOTS of gutter balls. A few strikes and spares as well. I also intended to get a massage, Val tried to schedule it for me, but they had no openings. I am so glad I met Val. Lawrence is one very lucky dude.
It was Masquerade night, but I ended up NOT going. (Shocker) Instead, it was a late dinner with Taos Toolboxxers: WJW, Traci, Bonnie, Dorothy, Kim, Geoffrey araken and my sister Mary who told stories about me that are simply Not True. We were met by the most amazing downpour and ducked into a t-shirt store for 10 minutes. Walter was late, so that was fine. I was sorry to miss Masquerade, but the company more than made up for it. A Friday night trip to the SFWA suite was more of a public event and we were late making the rounds. Most notably, I pushed my way into conversation with Carrie Vaughn and told her how much of a fan the Dude is, how Larry Smith had pushed her book towards me and suggested it. And discovered that there are more "Kitty" books forthcoming. And I also spoke with casacorona about our mutual friend and got the low-down on what's been goin' on. Thank you Beth, from the heart.
By Saturday I was operating on several nights of very little sleep. We had arranged an early dinner with my sister, Traci, Val and Lawrence Schoen klingonguy. Lawrence is responsible for Mary coming to Worldcons. She went to his klingon workshop back at the Worldcon in Boston and realized how much fun a worldcon can be. Lawrence is also the author of many stories of the Amazing Conroy and the Buffalitos and was nominated for a Campbell last year. And he's a small press publisher. A man of many talents. We ate at a great little Russian place. I talked to a carriage horse on our way back and was amazed at the vibes coming off him, at how he connected with me, waves of horsiness. I credit my ability to connect with horses to my time with the wonderful Lipizzans at Dancing Horse Farm and with dancinghorse. Don't ask how I do it. I don't know. I don't think I do anything except open my mind. The horse does the rest, but it's almost palpable.
Saturday lunch was another Taos Toolbox event with Connie, Courtney, Geoffrey, Dorothy, Bonnie, Traci, Kim, my sister and myself. We went to a crepe place. And no, I don't remember what I did Sat morning. I'm not sure I remember what I did Sat afternoon. Oh, now I do. I took a nap.
Mary, Connie, me, Bonnie, Dorothy and Kim. I don't know where we lost Geoff, but I caught up with him later on Sat night.
photo copyright Traci Castleberry
Traci and I hit the dealer's room again, where I bought a copy of Walter's (syndicated as wjwblogspot or the original blog at http://walterjonwilliams.blogspot.com/) "Implied Spaces" to locate my name on page 150 of the hardback edition where I am a "willowy" man and a minor villain. Whoo-hoo! (I think I was driving WJW crazy with waffling about going to TT at that time and this is my punishment.) I met Ross, a VP at Nightshade Books. He gave me a guided tour of their current inventory and I picked up 3 additional writers for the Dude, which was about all my luggage could manage, including mevennen's series. I renewed my membership with Broad Universe and bought something for E, who demands tribute from Those Who Travel.
Among the various photos on display of writers (and I'm not properly crediting this one) is an ancient one of frostokovich. Traci took a shot of it for me. Frost says it's from around 1981. This is what he gets for never going to worldcons, though he says he sat for a new photo in Glasgow.
I was able to start and finish Lord Tophet on this trip. Most excellent to read the end of the story and hey, I'm acknowledged by name! For my "blade-edged criticism" no less. But don't take my word for whether the books are a "must read." Try calico_reaction who reviews both books here:http://calico-reaction.livejournal.com/tag/gregory+frost. And if you google Shadowbridge, Tophet, Gregory Frost, you'll find there are folks out there with good things to say about the writing, the world, the books. Me? I'd like to see some shared-world action with Shadowbridge. Greg has a synopsis for one more, unrelated, book, but no others. This is a world that cries out for stories to be told. Lots and lots.
Saturday night I made the rounds, though I didn't attend the Hugos. Traci had a panel at 10pm and I went for moral support, though the room was packed. Who knew "writing erotica" would be such a popular topic? Good panel. Lively debate from panelists and audience. Lots of fun to ask how they do their research, for example. Spent time with Geoffrey after, Traci wandered off with some Hugo-goers to the Hyatt bar. ellen_datlow was looking stunning, showing us all what New Yorkers wear on a night out. Us country-folks don't even own something formal anymore. The rain was kind to all of the formally dressed and held off.
Sunday morning was an excellent brunch at the Marriott with Geoff and Traci where we gossiped plenty and caught up on things that have happened since OzCon. At 10am, I went to a panel on women in the military and in military sf with Mike Shepherd Moscoe and Tanya Huff, among others. Excellent debate from panel and audience. Much too small a room. I would say we need more panels like this one in Montreal.
Leaving that panel, we went to the Dealer Room one last time for a t-shirt for the Dude that says "Cat Herder" because he is one and he does. Leaving there is when I ran into Scott for a final photo op. Moving by quickly was another Taos Toolboxxer, catrambo who wasn't at the con long enough to connect for either the dinner or the lunch. One big hug is all we could manage, but we had talked at Readercon.
After that, I went to Farah's brunch for Montreal where I met several other track heads and schmoozed a bit more about the workshop with editors, etc. Montreal, Montreal, Montreal. Anticipation is going to be a really great worldcon! Be there!
My final, crowning, moment came after we packed and took our bags downstairs for late checkout. (The Hyatt Regency was a nice hotel and I felt well-rested and cared-for, even without my massage.) There in the bar, was gregvaneekhout, the one person I hadn't "seen" though I feel I know him from all the shots of coffee, snacks and writing.
The flights home were mostly delayed. Mary spent the night in JFK. I got home at 1am. A final hug from a chance encounter with Rich Chwedyk just as my boarding was called, a final hug from Traci.
My Worldcon cup ran over.