Gen Con, August 7, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Business of Writing-Agents, Query Letters and Pitches

This is some of the nuts and bolts kind of stuff which I think Gen Con does best–here on the subject of pitching agents and editors, with Don Bingle, John Helfers and Brad Beaulieu. Interesting information, even if John was so horrifically exhausted at this point in the convention I wasn’t sure he was going to make it through the panel…

Gen Con, August 6, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Worldbuilding-Geography

Another good panel at Gen Con, this one about geography in worldbuilding, with Paul Genesse, Ramsey Lundock, and Sabrina Klein. Particularly interesting here are Ramsey’s (who lives in Japan) comments on how Japan’s geography influences its culture, especially in light of the recent tsunami.

Gen Con, August 6, 2011–Writers’ Symposium–Make It Steamy-A Look At The Steampunk Genre

One of my favorite panels at Gen Con 2011, this one about the steampunk genre, with fellow “experts” Anton Strout, Paul Genesse, Lawrence Connolly, and Maurice Broaddus. This panel was a lot of fun, and I did what I could not to deserve the quotation marks around the steampunk “expert” part.

Readercon, July 16, 2011–Podcasts, Professions and Shameless Promotion–Combining Different Worlds

This was my second event at Readercon for this year, a solo talk on combining various aspects of one’s professional and personal background to further one’s career in writing. I wasn’t certain how this was going to go over–Readercon tends not to be big on practical aspects of the writing business to begin with, and I was moved shortly before the convention to Saturday at 9 p.m., up against a reading, a panel, and the massive draw of the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition–but I ended up with very solid turnout and had a great time. A lot of the participants, all of whom were (of course!) great, told me they had enjoyed the talk more than anything else at Readercon in part because there is so little attention to the writing life as such, so I hope the powers that be will consider doing more of this sort of thing in the future.

Readercon, July 16, 2011–Science Fiction for Today’s Undergraduates

My first of two appearances at Readercon this year, this panel dealt with teaching science fiction to the typical college student–how has it changed, how has it stayed the same, and how has our teaching impacted our writing and vice versa? There were some interesting insights that came out of the discussion here, partly because of the panelists’ varied teaching environments (from large state school to large private university to small liberal arts college to community college, from rural to suburban to urban areas) and specific backgrounds and partly because of the different approaches each of us took in our own courses. Besides me, the panel also included Joan Slonczewski (with whom I was also on an “academic” panel at Readercon last year, in the same room…seems to be a popular spot for these sorts of topics!), Michael Cisco and Leigh Grossman (who teaches at UCONN, my old stomping grounds).

Reading at Tuesday Funk–June 21, 2011

This is a reading I did (from my second novel Icarus) with my Wellspring 2011 compatriots as part of a special edition Tuesday Funk, a reading series coordinated by Bill Shunn (also from Wellspring) and Sara Ross which has been running at the Hopleaf Bar in Chicago for a number of years.  I loved getting the chance to be a part of an all speculative fiction crew–and the large, enthusiastic turnout didn’t hurt either.

Ad Astra, April 10, 2011–What Makes a Hero?

Throw a bunch of speculative fiction authors and editors on a panel and ask them to define a hero and you’re likely to get a lot of different answers. Add Ed Greenwood into the mix and you’re almost guaranteed to have something different! But with a few vocal exceptions, on this panel we actually had a lot of similar thoughts about the construction, development and appeal of the hero, and the result was an interesting journey through heroism in the world of speculative fiction. I served on my final panel for Ad Astra 2011 with David Clink, Gabrielle Harbowy, Tamora Pierce and, of course, the irrepressible Mr. Greenwood. (Sorry about the audio in this one–there was a lot of ambient noise outside and inside the room which wasn’t easy to filter out in post production.)

Ad Astra, April 10, 2011–Why Professionalism Matters

I think the panel title says it all, and it’s something which isn’t said enough. Matt Moore, Scott Edelman, Adrienne Kress, Mandy Slater, the inimitable Howard Tayler and I worked through various definitions and concepts of professionalism in the speculative fiction industry, trading war stories about those who exhibited (and didn’t) said quality. It was a fun panel, and we lived up to the title by not straying too far away from the topic at hand!

Ad Astra, April 9, 2011–Exposition

Okay, this might not sound like the most fascinating topic, but if you think about how much attention writers and readers pay to things like backstory, character description and worldbuilding, you’ll realize the relevance of what we talked about on this panel. Matthew Johnson, Claude Lalumiere, Marc Mackay, Sandra Kasturi and I wrestled for nearly an hour with what works (and doesn’t) in presenting exposition in written work, and I think the result was an interesting and sometimes amusing panel.