ReaderCON Semi-streming, sorta Blog:
DAY THREE WRAP-UP -After the Kaffeeklatsches, Leah and I decided to have a bit of lunch and decompress. It’s been a long, wonderful three days. We met up with Glenn Skinner, Jennifer Gracen and Anne-Mhairi Simpson at the pub to say our good-byes. Snapped a few last shots with Yves Meynard and Peter Dubé, then took Leah and Anne-Mhairi to Logan airport. It feels a bit like the last day of a vacation– good to be home, but missing friends and the camaraderie that is ReaderCON. But as I put away books I’ve bought and the notes/program for this year, I can’t help but let slip a small smile. ReaderCON 23 is less than a year away…
1:30 PM 17July11 -Leah and I just finished our Kaffeeklatsches with James Morrow and Scott Edelman. Meeting with Jim is becoming a very pleasant ReaderCON tradition. The addition of Scott Edelman made this years little ‘coffee discussion’ highly enjoyable. A chat about Darwin and the Galapagos Islands (Which Edelman had visited), the ‘Social Darwinism’ and a quick peek of upcoming works from both authors. Jim’s wife Kathy was on hand as well and it’s always a treat to see them.
12:06 PM 17July11 -The 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards were handed out on this last day. Shirley Jackson was of course the author of such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, The Lottery. The awards are given every year for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. The Winners for 2010 are:
SHORT STORY – The Things by Peter Watts
SINGLE AUTHOR COLLECTION – Occultation by Laird Barron
ANTHOLOGY – Stories: All-New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
NOVELLA – Mysterium Tremendum by Laird Barron
NOVELETTE – The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman
NOVEL – Mr. Shivers by Robert Jackson
DON’T look at me. That’s Neil over my left shoulder!
10:50 AM 17July11 -Meet up with fellow #Pubwrite friends in the lobby. Steve Umstead gifts both Leah and I with signed copies of Gabriel’s Redemption–something I’ve been meaning to add to the queue for a while– a very special present indeed. While chatting before the next panel, I notice a crowd growing off to my right. I see a slender man, dressed in black, wearing the smile of the newly wed in the center of the expanding throng. Neil Gaiman and his entourage had arrived.
10:41 AM 17July11 -The Young Adult (YA) panel– Do I Want to Grow Up? addressed the genre, it’s development, and changes in scope for various tropes post WW I. And interesting debate on the differences between YA for Boys, vs. YA for girls, and how society imposes their gender-specific ideals on young protagonists of either sex.
9:45 AM 17July11 -Arrived back at the Burlington after a long day two. Leah and I immediately grab coffee from the lobby Starbucks and head into Salon F for our first panel.
6:27 AM 17July11 -Up, coffee on and getting ready for Day Three…
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DAY TWO WRAP-UP – A twelve hour day behind us, Leah and I headed back to “Stately Lampropoulos Manor” and crashed around midnight. One of the best days ever for a ReaderCON…I haven’t learned so much and laughed so hard in a single day like this for a long time. The last day of the convention approaches…
11:39 PM 16July11 – Been looking forward to the last event of Saturday evening since last year’s CON. The 25th Annual Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. I’m still hoarse from laughing so hard at this one. In a nutshell, five panelists participate with a ‘Rocky Horror-esque’ audience response. A bad (REALLY REALLY bad –“Sank bonelessly and was dead” bad) piece of prose is read to a certain stopping point. Then each panelist reads a continuation of the snippet, but only one of the snippets is the ‘real’ one. Craig Shaw Gardner and Eric M. Van have been running this competition for twenty five years. They were joined on the panel by Mary Robinette Kowel, Mike Allen and last year’s winner, Yves Meynard. From Pirate tanker-truck drivers to Himalayan Sea Salt and “hands the size of a nubile woman,” the passages were funny in the extreme. I mentioned that there was audience participation, I’d also like to mention that the audience wins points, just like the panelists do–and for the first time in 25 years, the audience WON. Remember that for next year as you drink your Solé (so-LAY)–but be careful. If you taste Himalayan Salt for more than four hours, seek medical attention.
7:30 PM 16July11 – Spent time in the dealer’s room and had dinner and drinks with a few of the #PUBWRITE alumni all in preparation for the evenings premiere event.
4:34 PM 16July11 – Adding two panels here at one time as they flow very nicely into one another. The 2 PM session, Location as Character discussed the techniques and reasons behind using a fictional locale to paint a broader picture of worlds created by various authors (Innsmouth from Lovecraftian lore and Elizabeth Hand’s Kamensic were just two examples). The 3PM Panel, Cities, Real and Imaginary expanded on this idea and discussed the detail required and urban development of ‘real’ cities used to create fictional tales.
2:10 PM 16July11 –Urban (Fantasy) Renewal was a discussion of the genre from Charles Williams (a contemporary of Tolkien’s) through to the more more modern interpretations by the likes of Hamilton and Butcher. This was a panel I used more to confirm that my book series, The Arcana Chronicles, and more importantly book one due out this October (The Prodigal’s Foole) fit into this category. Although, as the panel admitted, the definition of ‘Urban Fantasy’ is still fluid, I think I’m on the right track.
1:02 PM 16July11 -Geoff Ryman, one of the living guests of honor for this year’s ReaderCON, is one of the funniest presenters I’ve seen at the convention to date. His session, Mark Twain “Interviewed” had me in fits of laughter. In full costume(s), Mr. Ryman performed as various characters from Twain’s more speculative works. Each character (from Satan in The Devil’s Racetrack to a knight from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Adam from The Diaries of Adam and Eve) gave us insight into Twain’s persona.
12:04 PM 16July11 – Holy crap….this last session was an hour long information sharing and future speculation on Book Design Typography in the Digital Era. I’m still processing this one as it could have a huge impact on future publications. I brief history of the development of the codex we know as a ‘book’ from different cultures given by Ken Liu, a discussion of desktop publishing’s early beginnings, and some future musings by all on how eBooks will look (and sound) in the very near future. Loads of notes on this one, but the GOOD news is that Diane Nelson, my publisher, is on the right track. This session deserves it’s own blog post somewhere down the road, so look for that in the future.
10:58 AM 16July11 – This years posthumous guest author is (was?) Mark Twain. The first session, The (Speculative) Fiction of Mark Twain was a discussion of some of the late authors more fantastical stories such as A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Time Travel), The Devil’s Racetrack (Horror) and a few mythical stories such as The Mysterious Stranger and Letters from Earth. And argument was made that, if Mark Twain had finished/published more of these works, he, and not H.G. Wells might have been considered the father of Science Fiction. An interesting notion I’ll shelve for further exploration on my own.
9:52 AM 16July11 -Leah and I arrive back at the Burlington, grab some more coffee and head to our 10 AM Panel. One thing I left out from Friday’s session as that I’d run into a couple of authors I’d known from last year, and it’s always nice to be remembered by folks who deal with thousands of fans every year. Yves Meynard, Peter Dubé, Scott Edelman and of course James Morrow were all as charming and warm as I’d remembered.
8:09 AM 16July11 (Start of Day Two)- Been up since 4:30 typing up notes, managing an annoying cat with my partner and general ‘puttering.’ Leah and I will be off to the Burlington Marriott in about an hour.
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DAY ONE WRAP-UP – Leah and I went back to the house in time for a nice late dinner with my partner at Sophia’s Grotto in downtown Roslindale. Exhausted, everyone was asleep by 10 PM. A long day for Day Two ahead…we are anticipating staying at the conference for 12+ hours. Ran into Yves Maynard and James Morrow along with the very funny Peter Dubé. It’s nice to see famous genre writers who remembered me from last year. On to Day TWO!!
7:45 PM 15July11 -Spent two hours in the best panel of my ReaderCON experience to date. A full audience participation session called Vocal Performance for Writers ran us through vocal and breathing warm-up exercises, voice characterization techniques, public reading ‘dos and don’ts,’ podcasting, radio broadcasting and more than I can type here. A discussion of audiobooks for writers and how to work through and record…fantastic, but exhausting!
3:45 PM 15July11 -Had drinks with a few of the tweeps Leah and I have met and been friends with for the last few months. Steve Umstead (@steveumstead), Al Boudreau (@threecifer) with his lovely partner, Glenn Skinner (@keyaquests), Karen DeLabar (@karendelabar), Karen Smith (@kvictoriasmith) and of course Leah Petersen (@leahpetersen). Great time and great to meet everyone. Steve and Karen D were freakin’ hysterical and Al was as charming as I’d come to expect.
2:11 PM 15July11 -A very interesting panel called Complicating Colonial Encounters included discussions of Tarzan and Robinson Crusoe era writings and their take on colonialism. H.G. Wells warning on the subject via War of the Worlds was discussed. Both Singh and Menon of Indian heritage discussed the influence of the 200 year English colonization of India, the impact not only on both cultures, but personal family stories.
1:04 PM 15July11 –Retelling Russian Folk Tales–thought this might end up a bomb as only two of the scheduled panelists were on hand. But after a brief intro and a few reviews of Russian folklore, Ms. Surette engaged the audience, and a roundtable discussion of the meaning and evolution of Russian storytelling began. Style, tone and over all political influences (Czarist Russian stories, verses Soviet era and the more modern (current) take on storytelling). What could have been a disastrous panel turned into an exciting audience participation session.
11:45 AM 15July11 -First panel wasn’t what I was expecting. Titled The Illustrated Novel, I was hoping to hear a discussion on the pros and cons of adding illustrations to books (a la the chapter drawings done by Mary GrandPre for J. K. Rowling’s Potter series). The panel was interesting enough…discussions of various artists and even a brief discussion of the ‘Graphic Novel’s’ rise to importance in the 1980’s. Nipped out a little early and grabbed a bit of lunch.
10:00 AM 15July11 -Check in and registration complete, Leah and I are getting the lay of the land. Checking out the various panel venues and poked our heads into the book dealer room (won’t be open until 3 PM). Was told by one of the dealers “Come back at three. It’ll look the same, just with more books.” Ah. Writer-snark. I must be at ReaderCON. 🙂 Also put out the Pfoxmoor postcards and business card for Diane Nelson on the ‘freebie’ table. Will check back day two to see what’s been taken!
5:45 AM 15July11 -Up early this morning, coffee in hand and a bit of writing before we head out to ReaderCON. I’ll be keeping a bit of a log for each day of the conference so check back often throughout the weekend!
Picked up one of my favorite authors and dear friend Leah Petersen at Logan Airport yesterday. It was wasn’t until I was half way to the airport that it actually hit me– I was having someone I’d only “known” online for a year or so staying at my house…what would happen if we hated each other in real life?
Fortunately, it turned out we got on as well…better even…than we did online.
My partner Tina, Leah and I chatted, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company (along with a few beers) last evening. It was a great night.
As I type this, Tina’s getting ready for work, Leah’s sleeping and I’m writing and pulling together the marketing materials I’m bringing with us to ReaderCON.
Meeting more folks today that I’ve only met online. If it goes as well as last night, this should be a fantastic conference.
I might even attend a few panels!