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September 05, 2004

Catching Up

Catching Up

It has been a busy last two days. I will attempt to summarize.


I don't know why I pretend that I will make any panels/events at a Con if they occur before 11 AM. Or even at 11 AM. Though my husband and I valiantly tried to make an 11 AM panel, it was just not to be. I did, however, manage to make the next panel I had scheduled at noon: The Future of Short Fiction (and Magazines). This is basically an annual panel. Every year people are convinced that the short fiction market is dying. However, to listen to this panel, that is a myth. It was reassuring to me for two reasons: I prefer reading short fiction and I prefer writing short fiction.

There was some discussion of the value of internet publishing. I think it was unfortunate that the panelists began that discussion by making generalizations. It is clear to me that they were mostly talking about the equivalent of vanity press: Anyone can throw up a webpage and "publish" their own work. Most of the time, it is crap. However, the generalizations covered any internet publishing, at first, meaning e-zines like Strange Horizons and Sci Fiction were included. The panelists later clarified that such markets were indeed great places for authors to submit their work and other smaller e-zines were also good training grounds. However, the very valid point that none of the e-zines are self-supporting. All in all, it was a standard panel of this title.

I had a little downtime before sitting in ConSuite for the next two hours. Which was when I finally managed to get my last post up, due to technical problems earlier in the morning. The Wi-Fi access is very good at this Con, however there are very few computers or laptop ports provided by the Con for direct, physical connections. There was a decent amount of grumbling about this set-up, though you can never please everyone. As the years pass, I'm sure different WorldCons will have different technological achievements. Note for next year's participants: Remember to bring adapters for your power chargers as there are different power outlets than in America.

KaffeKlatches: These are neat little events. Basically, a personality in the field agrees to spend 1 hour with eight interested fans over coffee and munchies provided by ConSuite. There are also Literary Beers, which are the same thing only the group meets over beer/cider instead of coffee/tea.

I signed up for Michelle Sagara West and Ellen Datlow.

Michelle was a lot of fun, as were the other participants. She was cool with the fact that I (and at least one other person) were there because we read her LiveJournal, but had never read any of her fiction. In her LJ, she discusses the various traditions and explanations and myths about book publishing. She has been a book store employee, a book store owner, an orderer, an author, and back to being a part-time books store employee while writing. So she knows many of the small ways an author can help their book take off and what authors can expect once they sell their first novel. The KaffeKlatch discussed a little of that, a little about her fiction [no spoilers, thankfully] and a little about books to come out. I enjoyed it because Michelle was just such a sweet person. See earlier entry about how people are nice here.

Ellen Datlow's KaffeKlatch was fun and informative for different reasons. Ellen is an editor, so has a different view on things than any author can have. Some people asked questions about how to sell to her and others asked how to become an editor in the field. She was very blunt and honest, which I appreciated. For any writers out there: SciFiction is very much look for SF. Ellen said she always receives too much fantasy and never enough SF, preferably hard though "rubber" is okay. And remember, SciFiction is the highest paying market in the field.

After the KaffeKlatches I attended the Wheatland Press Party, which was fun. I am friends with one of the editors of Polyphony, Jay Lake, who also has several collections out from Wheatland. The party was fun because I got to meet a lot of other neat authors, see Deborah Layne in passing, and cheer for my roommate Diana and her first SF publication in Polyphony 4. She even got asked to autograph her story. How cool is that?

After the party was a lovely dinner where I met more wonderful people (are you seeing a theme here yet?). My husband and I attended the Swing Dancing event for a short time, but they had just opened and the band wasn't set up yet so no one was there. We hung out at Frank Wu's party for a while, which was much fun. Frank is a sweet and wonderful guy who knows a lot of neat people. I went from there to the mystical SFWA suite to meet up with fellow blogger Michael Burstein.

Background: On his first blog I commented how much I enjoyed his Hugo nominated story, "Paying it Forward". He came over to my first entry and suggested meeting up. We exchanged a few e-mails and Voodoo Messages and finally cell phone calls before we established a meeting place and time. Michael and his wife Nomi were kind enough to stand near the door to the SFWA suite, as it is barred by a magical list of SFWA members and their guests. I'm sure I rubbed shoulders with many of the authors I admired that night, though it was too crowded to turn around and check every bump.

Michael and Nomi are good people. We chatted up at SFWA until the crowd was too much, then went down to ConSuite to wait for some of their friends, then I called my husband and we retreated to the privacy of their room. Basically, I got to spend 3 hours talking with a really neat couple about many things. And did I mention one of them was a Hugo nominee? And had wanted to meet me? Little ol' me? *squee*

Of course, I found out he wanted to meet me because I had said I liked his story. And that he was all *squee* about that. Which is one of the coolest things about Michael. He may be a well respected, multiple Hugo nominated author, but he's also still a fan of the genre and is surprised when people tell him how much they liked his work. It was refreshing and reassuring. I hope that when I'm a published and Hugo nominated author, I have the easygoing nature that Michael does.

Eventually we had to leave and I made my way back to Frank's party. I ran into a gentleman that I'd been introduced to via Nomi and he and I checked out the Evil Villain's party. It was a lot of fun to just help each other remember various villains. At some point, other member of the Technical crew came by and tried to hit me up for volunteering. Since I have no technical experience I turned him down. However, my husband had done lights for Rocky for a while so I went and asked him if he wanted to help out. Those two got to talking and my original partner in crime remembered that he still needed someone to help out with the greeting of the various guests at the Hugo Pre party. He asked if I wanted to help out. For some insane reason (probably ethanol induced) I played it like I didn't want to help out. So he fed me peeled grapes. What is a girl to do?

So it was that I was slated to greet the luminaries of the speculative fiction world preceding one of the largest award ceremonies in the field. I just hoped my dress was good enough.

Posted by Dawn Burnell at 03:19 PM in 4-Friday | Permalink


Dawn, what lovely things you said about us! Especially the part about my easygoing nature. It was an absolute delight to meet a fan as enthusiastic as you as well, and I'll probably be saying this over and over.

And your dress for the Hugo Awards was just fine.

Posted by: Michael A. Burstein | September 6, 2004 05:35 PM

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