Archive for the 'SF/F' Category

Oct 08 2013

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At Capclave This Weekend

I’m at Capclave, my local D.C.-area F/SF con (where reading is not extinct!), this weekend.

I’m on four panels, all dealing with online magazines or podcasting or secondary-world fantasy:

  • Friday 7:00 pm: New Media, New Markets, New Business Models (a review of notable genre ezines, their forms and business models)
  • Saturday 2:00 pm: World’s Shortest Epics (epic fantasy in short fiction; what makes it work and who’s doing it)
  • Saturday 3:00 pm: Hearing Voices? (a survey of podcasts)
  • Saturday 5:00 pm: The Evolution of Fantasy (modern fantasy trends and tastes)

I also have a reading Friday at 8:00 pm, where I may read something forthcoming in BCS or some of my own fiction. Drop by and find out!

Other than that, I’ll be wandering the halls with plenty of BCS flyers and anthology-cover postcards, in the bar, or trawling the party floor.  Feel free to say hello!

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Aug 27 2013

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At WorldCon This Weekend

This weekend I’ll be at WorldCon this weekend, in San Antonio, Texas. (Right near The Alamo, apparently.)

I’m not on any panels, although I highly recommend the State of Sword & Sorcery: New Trends one Friday at 4PM. It features BCS authors and novelists Saladin Ahmed and Chris Willrich and Pyr Books editor/BCS fan Lou Anders. That sounds like an awesome topic, a lot like the S&S panel I moderated at World Fantasy 2010, and I’m bummed that I won’t be at the con yet by then.

But I will be out and about Saturday and Sunday. Saturday night, I’m planning to hit this bar-hosted author event that will include BCS authors Cat Rambo, Brad Beaulieu, Ann Leckie, and Saladin Ahmed.

Sunday night I’ll be at the Hugo Awards banquet, where BCS has the honor of being a nominee for Best Semiprozine. (The ceremony apparently will be streamed live at www.ustream.tv/hugo-awards. In case you want to see me in a suit and tie.)

I will have a stack of BCS flyers and some brand new postcards of the forthcoming Best of BCS Year Four anthology. If you see me wandering the cavernous convention center or the party floor of the hotel late in the small hours, feel free to say hello!

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Aug 16 2013

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“Excision” at Podcastle!

My story “Excision,” from Ann VanderMeer’s first issue of Weird Tales, is now out as an audio podcast from the good folks at Podcastle. Read by well-known podcaster Jen Rhodes. Thank you!

Their content rating for it says “Rated R: Contains Surgery”. How can a story with that label fail to entertain!

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May 23 2013

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Balticon, Ho!

I will be at Balticon, the annual Baltimore F/SF con, this Sunday for the day, including on several panels about editing and podcasting:

From Slush to Sale (Sun, 1:00 PM)

This panel will be a reprise of the ‘From Slush to Sale’ roundtable that I was on in February hosted by the Baltimore SF Society. Other editors on this panel include Hildy Silverman, editor of Space & Time, who has bought several of my stories.

We’ll be discussing various aspects of the submission, acceptance, and editing process, including the ever-popular ‘what do editors want’ and its converse, ‘what do editors see all to often’. :)

Jake Bible We Hardly Knew Ye: The Current State of Podcast Fiction (Sun, 2:00 PM)

This panel features a number of prominent podcasters, such as Mur Lafferty. I will be representing the trends in ‘hybrid’ online magazines–those, like BCS, that publish short fiction in text / ebooks and in audio podcasts.

Editors’ Q&A Session (Sun, 4:00 PM)

This panel includes several editors of theme anthologies and will answer audience questions about submissions, acceptances, and the publishing process, for anthologies and magazines. I’m moderating, and I’ve got a stack of my own questions to ask, including some that I bet you’ve never heard before. :)

I will also have the requisite stack of shiny BCS flyers and postcards. If you see me in the halls, feel free to say hello!

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Oct 11 2012

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Help with “Missy” Response?

Filed under cons,hm,SF/F,writing

In the post-ReaderCon sexual harassment revelations and groundswell, something that incensed me equally didn’t get much discussion. With autumn con season upon us, it’s on my mind again, and I welcome input.

Genevieve Valentine’s account of her harassment at ReaderCon also included mention that she, while on a panel, was referred to by a fellow panelist as “missy.” I find such belittlement, of anyone for any reason, colossally offensive.

Having at the time just moderated a ReaderCon panel myself, I immediately wondered, what’s the best response to something like that, when it’s happening?

I’ve thought about it, but I’m not the most socially adroit, so I would appreciate hearing others’ thoughts.

I think the response would be different depending on what role I was in: audience, fellow panelist, or panel moderator. Here are the responses I came up with. All comments welcome.

As an audience member: when the panel opens for questions, ask the disparaging panelist a two-part question. ‘Did you actually call that other panelist _____, and if so, why in the world would you disrespect a fellow panelist like that?’

As a fellow panelist: when the disparaging panelist finished, or maybe even interrupting them, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? If so, then I’m not interested in a single other thing you’ve got to say.’ And leave the panelist table and walk out of the room.

As the moderator: when the disparaging panelist finished, ‘Did you actually call this other panelist _____? We don’t belittle people like that, at least on any panel I’m moderating. If you do it again, you can answer to the con-com.’

(My vindictive side would like to include in that last one ‘or I will call security and have you removed’ or the Conan-esque ‘or you and I can step outside and discuss it.’ But those don’t seem wise. :) )

Any thoughts? I do think it’s something that deserves pointing out in the moment. But if the disparager chose to get belligerent, things might get tense.

I hope to never need this. But if I ever see this sort of thing happen, I would like to have an idea of what might be a good thing to do.

Thanks very much for any comments.

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Oct 09 2012

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At Capclave This Weekend

Capclave

Capclave

I will be at Capclave, my local DC-area SF/F con, this weekend, where reading, unlike the beanie-capped fellow at right, is not extinct!  With a stack of shiny new BCS flyers and anthology postcards.

I’m on several panels and will have a reading. Here’s my schedule:

Friday 6:00 pm: Reading
I will be reading from “The Sadly Only Mildly Dramatic Tale of Sijo Uthewn,” my Clark Ashton Smith pastiche that was recently accepted by Space and Time magazine.

Friday 7:00 pm: Small Press an Ebook Perspective
Small press editors discuss ebooks. How are ebooks affecting the small press industry? How do you compete with the big boys?  (This one includes editor Neil Clarke.)

Saturday 11:00 am: Rejection
Thank you for submitting your story, unfortunately… Nobody sells everything. How do authors cope with rejection? What do editors do to help?  (This one includes editor Sean Wallace.)

Sunday 2:00 pm: Online publishing, from blogs to e-magazines
What are the advantages and disadvantages of publishing online? Who are some of the best online publishers and what do they do? What can be learned from some pioneers? And how can new would-be publishers get started? (This one includes both Neil and Sean!)

Feel free to drop by these if you’d like to hear my insight on any of the above. Also drop by my reading if you like Clark Ashton Smith and/or dry wit.

And if you see me after panels or in the halls or the bar, feel free to say hello.

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Aug 07 2012

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Imagine That

Filed under hm,SF/F,writing

As anyone in publishing or writing knows, the most popular pastime of authors and publishers lately is pontificating on the current upheaval in the publishing industry.

Not so much on what is happening now, for example the rise of ebooks and major authors self-e-publishing, but what they are certain is going to happen next, and what they think–or know–that you should do about it. “Trad-pub” is dead, agents are evil and unnecessary, self-publishing is crap, editors are right, readers are right, etc, etc. Not observations; declarations.

Finally a synthesis of observation and acknowledgment, along with some well-warranted grumbling at those strident declarations, from author, editor, and publisher Jeff Vander Meer. I have great respect for the Vander Meers–Ann bought my first genre sale, for WT, and she and Jeff were very cool to me at Capclave a few years ago and very complimentary of BCS.

And this post of Jeff’s really nails it. It’s great to hear an established figure calling out many of the “bullshit solutions” that people are lately spewing, and the fact that promulgating them on young writers is a disservice to the field. Admitting that he has no great answers (neither do I). And calling for more imagination in approaching this new landscape.Bravo.

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Jul 30 2012

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Gutless

Filed under cons,hm,SF/F,writing

By now, most ReaderCon fans and attendees have heard about the sexual harassment that occurred this year.

ReaderCon’s stated policy on harassment is zero-tolerance: violators are banned for life. As one of the more progressive-seeming cons in the field, I was pleased to learn of this and delighted that the perpetrator of this egregious behavior (multiple incidents) would never again be present to so reprehensibly ruin ReaderCon for anyone.

On Friday, the ReaderCon Board of Directors banned this violator not for life but for two years. As justification, they cited his remorse and that the policy felt too severe for cases without intent.

What a gutless move.

If you have a policy, you need to follow it. If you don’t, you are signalling loud and clear that people in the future cannot expect you to keep your word on anything. You are rendering your entire rulebook, all your policies, meaningless.

If you no longer believe that your policy is right, that’s fine, but that’s a separate issue. Reform the policy later, to cover future cases. But for existing cases, you must follow it.

I know this because I’ve been in a similar situation.  In a freshman Chem course I taught, my penalty for cheating was an F for the whole semester. Somebody cheated. And I didn’t have the guts to stick to my policy either. I wished in hindsight I’d made the penalty for first offenders an F on that assignment, then an F for the semester only for a second offense. Just as ReaderCon seems to wish they hadn’t made their policy zero-tolerance either.

I was saved from the temptation to make the same mistake ReaderCon has made because the student, before I could meet with them, cheated a second time. That made my stated penalty fit my new opinion of what offense deserved it. I handed it down with no qualms. And the next semester, I changed my policy.

ReaderCon should have stuck to their policy and banned this perpetrator for life, then started changing what they don’t like about the policy. They could allow banned-for-life people to apply for reinstatement after a certain number of years, and at that time consider any remorse. Ironically, such changes would have accomplished the same ends as their gutless current solution did, but without obliterating all trust in the con.

Let alone that this type of behavior seems to happen often in the con circuit; is reprehensible and even criminal; that remorse or intent have no place in any case involving multiple incidents; and that it’s profoundly sad that some peoples’ behavior makes a progressive con and indeed a progressive field need to have such policies at all.

I can only hope the groundswell of discussion will help the ReaderCon board realize they’ve made a huge mistake.

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Jul 10 2012

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At ReaderCon This Weekend

Filed under BCS,cons,hm,SF/F,writing

I will be at ReaderCon, in north Boston, again this year, for discussion and fellowship and beer.

Saturday at 11 AM, I’m moderating the panel Genre Magazines in the 21st Century. It includes a bunch of longtime editors, like Neil Clarke, Shawna McCarthy, and Gordon Van Gelder, a group which nicely spans both older paper magazines and newer online ones. “What goes into keeping genre magazines fresh and afloat in current times?” the program book muses, also mentioning “success and cautionary stories.” I’ll have some good discussion questions laid in.

I will be at the Group Reading for the Odyssey Writing Workshop Grads, Saturday at 2 PM. I don’t know if I’ll be reading yet, but I’ll bring along a Homeless Moon chapbook just in case….

And Sunday at 11 AM, I have a solo Reading, where I will read a story from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Audience’s choice! Including older stories, current ones, and even forthcoming ones from Issue #100 or our Fourth Anniversary Double-Issue this Oct.; stories from the new Ceaseless Steam theme anthology and even from the not-yet-announced Best of BCS Year Three.

I’ll have flyers featuring the new Issue #100 artwork by Raphael Lacoste and postcards for Best of BCS Year Two and Ceaseless Steam.  Feel free to drop by the Sat. panel, the Sun. reading, or to stop me in the halls (or in the bar!  :-) ).

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Jul 04 2012

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Milling the Ford: Don’t Expect the Wrong Things from Critiquing

Filed under hm,SF/F,writing

I’ve seen recent online discussion of writers and workshoppers slagging the Milford method.  (That’s the formal name for classic critiquing method, used by most all F/SF writing workshops including Odyssey and both Clarions, where you go around in a circle and everyone gives the author their comments on a submission).

These writers blame it for, among other things,  sending young writers into a spiral of unending revisions on the same story and leaving them tied in knots of self-doubt about their own ability.

Those fates are possible consequences of critiquing. I’ve written probably a thousand critiques and had hundreds done on my own work.  I’ve seen those outcomes and at times resembled some of them myself.

But the Millford method is not the cause.

The cause is writers expecting things from critiquing that it’s not going to deliver without work.

Critiquing is only as good as the critique group’s insight, but not just their insight on writing in general or the specific type of writing in that submission.  Also their insight on you the author–what kind of writer you are, what your goal for that submission is. If they don’t know as much about your writing and its goal as they know about characters and their goals, they won’t be able to give comments that fit not just your vision for the story but also your aim for it.

The benefits of critiquing also depend on you the author’s ability to extract the wheat from the chaff. You have to decide which comments fit your vision for the story and which don’t. Writers who end up tied in knots from getting critiques clearly haven’t figured out how to do this. It’s difficult; even maddening. But that’s not the fault of the method.

And critiquing is never going to add a spark of brilliance or magic or “quan” to a story that doesn’t already have it. The onus for instilling spark rests squarely with the author. Maybe it happens on first draft, or maybe inspiration strikes after critiques or even during. But if the story ends up merely average or competent and without any spark, there’s only one place the blame lies.

To be fair, these subtleties require critiquers who are experienced, familiar, and mature, far moreso than the beginners at most workshops. In fact, a reason why most workshop critiquers are not this good may be that critiquers who are this good have no need to go to a workshop.

Rejecting the Milford method seems to feel liberating for some young writers, but to me it looks like an escape hatch. Spend time cultivating some familiar and mature critiquers, and tackle its difficult decisions, before you give up on it.

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