31 July 2011

"I am dressed as the woman of the opposite sex"

The line's from the BritCom 'Allo 'Allo, which was on my mind.  Anyway... wow, I'm way, way behind on these.  Well, two weeks, actually, since ReaderCon.  I'm skipping ahead to Saturday for now.  I'll come back to Friday night after a few posts.

My first panel that day was "Daughters of the Female Man" with Elizabeth Hand, Chris Moriarty, Barbara Krasnoff, Gwendolyn Clare, and Matt Cheney.

I'd gotten there 15 minutes late because I was in line getting Claude to autograph some books for me.  Again, them's the breaks of the arrangement of con panels.

Here's what I took away (directly or indirectly)...
  • Sorry, but I couldn't help but pat myself on the back when shout-outs were given to Maureen McHugh and L. Timmel Duchamp, and folks in the audience were going, "Who?" and making the panelists repeat the names.
  • Discussed was, to my delight, another instance--a real live instance that didn't take place back in the "Golden Age of Science Fiction"--where a speculative fiction writer was ahead of the curve.
  • A whole host of books I need to check out, which I tried to note for myself rather than, as one audience member sort of suggested, relying on the panelists to spoon-feed me an annotated bibliography.

And these are my notes...

24 July 2011

Feeling Very Fuzzy

I really wished the panels "Surrealism and Strong Emotion" (with Caitlyn Kiernan, Michael Cisko, Peter DubĂ©, and John Lawson) and "Feeling Very Post-Slipstream" (Leah Bobet, Paul DiFilippo, Elizabeth Hand, Chris Brown, and F. Brett Cox) weren't held as late in the day as they were on Friday.  Hey, them's the breaks of a con, I know.

"Surrealism and Strong Emotion"
"Feeling Very Post-Slipstream"
I did make it to both panels and as you can see, I have the pictures to prove it.  But they were just a little too heady for me.  I'm not even going to post my notes--they're too few and make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Plus, I was still a little nervous as the time approached for the Broken Slate release/Crossed Genres reading party.

Hey, I don't suppose anyone can point me to any write-ups?  I know about one for "Slipstream."  Anyone do one for "Surrealism?"

Foreign Deviltry

I'll just come out and say it: I come from a people who know a li'l sumpin' sumpin' about the Colonial Encounter, so yeah, I wanted to see this.  Not exactly sure what I expected, but what I didn't want (and what I didn't get, thankfully) from the panel "Complicating Colonial Encounters" with JoSelle Vanderhooft, Vandana Singh, Robert Redick, Craig Gidney, and Anil Menon was a simple list of writers and books and how they just failed, or a discourse on how Avatar sucked.  I can get those on any random sampling of blog posts in a given day.

I was a bit late getting there and I left during the Q&A 'cos I was feeling a bit punchy and hungry by that point. Still, I managed to take away some cool stuff...
  • There's a school of thought that says that science-fiction essentially came from the colonial encounter.  Think Kipling, Wells, etc.  I can see it when I think of Tarzan.
  • There were definite historical instances where, at least initially, the relationship between colonizer and the colonized was somewhat of a flirtatious love affair where both saw parts of the other that were exotic and something to be explored.  And even colonizers "going native."
  • That there is more to the issue than just the obvious power differential.  The question was asked (by Redick, according to my notes), how can we complicate our understanding of the colonial encounter?

Speaking of notes...

23 July 2011

Know Your Limit

I knew before I got to Readercon that I was going to attend "Writing Within Constraints" with Scott Edelman, Elaine Isaak, Michael Aondo-verr Kombol, David Malki !, John Langan, and Madeleine Robins. 

I was anxious to go since Malki ! was moderating the panel.  He's one of the editors of the Machine of Death anthology, which had a very narrow theme.  Having submitted a few stories to other, similarly tightly-themed anthologies, I wanted to see if the panel could provide any insights as to how I'd succeeded and failed.

A few ways I'd never looked at this issue before the panel...
  • The many ways we writers sometimes impose constraints on ourselves.  Sometimes, by avoiding the subconscious places we just won't go.
  • Sometimes, repulsion to an idea can be a constraint.  Edelman gave an example off the top of his head based on his years working in comics in the '70s: Metamorpho vs. Daredevil
  • Another thought from Edelman: Instead of writing "in the tradition of Frank Herbert," try writing "in the tradition of you."
  • It's best to keep in mind that writing for an editor is not the same as writing for the reader.
  • I need to stop taking cool-sounding panel notes unless I can remember the f'ing context.
Speaking of panel notes...

"Sooner or later, it comes down to you and the paper."

So, here's how I'm going to do this: write about a panel I went to, with brief impressions and takeaways.

My first Friday ReaderCon panel was "What Writing Workshops Do and Don't Offer" with Geoff Ryman, Barry Longyear, Kenneth Schneyer, Eileen Gunn, Leah Bobet, and Michael J. DeLuca (who I seem to have cut out of the picture--sorry).

The panel compared and contrasted different Milford-style workshops (Clarion, Odyssey, et al.), talked about some alternatives (Online Writing Workshop), and discussed which sorts of folks probably would or would not benefit from the Milford model.

What I learned that day (directly or indirectly):
  • I probably really do need a regular Milford-model ass-whipping for my writing to improve.
  • A better sense of some things I'd already kinda/sorta knew, namely the take-home benefits of a critique that go beyond "how to fix this story."
  • My main take-away was a quote from Mr. Longyear (who confessed that although he's taught at workshops which use the Milford model, the model itself probably wouldn't have worked for him starting out) said, "Sooner or later, it comes down to you and the paper."  Amen.
For the interested, here are my panel notes. 

21 July 2011

"He held the Beast of the Apocalypse by its tail, the stupid kid!"

Okay, here is, my first in a line of ReaderCon blog snippets.  I figure rather than long posts about how I spent entire days, I'd do it panel by panel. 

First panel of my ReaderCon: Mike Allen's "Speculative Poetry Workshop."  My memory could be faulty, but it seemed a bit smaller than it did last year, which was a good thing.  Allen was pleased at the small size of the audience and pretty much got right to an exercise, after having us all introduce ourselves.  Also unlike last year, I was actually pleased with the piece I wrote for the exercise enough to read it aloud.  And while it sits with the rest of my Vogon poetry for right now, it may not stay there forever.

I also got to name check my favorite speculative poet (who likely doesn't consider himself to be one), former Poet Laureate Charles Simic.  You don't agree?  Check out the piece from which the title of this post is taken.

Next time: my first full panel and maybe my panel notes, too!  Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you? :)

20 July 2011

ReaderCon Shout-Outs

We played the pier on Venice beach
The crowd called out for more
Zappa and the Mothers next
We finished with a roar
Jimi was so kind to us
Had us on the tour
We got some education
Like we never got before

Chicago, "Scrapbook"
I promised myself I wasn't going to put off blogging about ReaderCon for weeks like I did last year.  So, like Chicago did in this song, I'm gonna start with some shout-outs!

12 July 2011

ReaderCon or Bust!

After tomorrow, I will be in-between jobs.  And during that in-between time, I'll be at one of my favorite places on earth, ReaderCon!  I'll be at the July 15th release party for the novel Broken Slate by Kelly Jennings, which is brought to you by the fine folks at Crossed Genres.

The party will also feature readings by folks who've published stories in Crossed Genres, such as Camille Alexa, Barbara Krasnoff and, yes, yours truly

The price of admission is a tweet, blog post, or Facebook update about Broken Slate.  I'm five chapters in, myself, and I'm finding myself slowly riveted by the main character and his world.  So, if you're there, click the link for details and come say hi.

03 July 2011


Today, Chapter XXXVIII of my life began.

After having survived past the midpoint of a year that's really been more bad than good so far, I got to spend some time with some good friends, and had a chance to take a good look at some stuff on the horizon that makes me smile...