Nov. 16th, 2010 12:16 pm
eimarra: (Default)
As [ profile] temporus pointed out to me, Philcon is this coming weekend. I'd really love to go (this year, I'd actually recognize more than one face!), but right now that depends on 2 things:
  • Catching up on NaNoWriMo (currently 7k+ behind), and
  • Getting over this cold that has me hacking all the time. I do not want to be the person spreading con crud.
If you don't see me there, at least one of these conditions has not been met.

on cons

Nov. 23rd, 2009 09:15 am
eimarra: (Default)
I was supposed to go to Philcon this past weekend. I'd been looking forward to it for months. I really got a lot out of it last year (when I meant to go for just Saturday and enjoyed it so much I went back on Sunday).

From my wording, you can probably guess that I didn't go.

It's been one of those months -- one kid illness after another, and even when CG's healthy, she's not sleeping well, which means I'm not sleeping well. Lots of stress, not a lot of rest, and way too much to do. I thought maybe Philcon would be a break for me, but when it came down to it, it felt like just one more thing to squeeze into a busy life.

Instead, I stayed home and had a relaxing family weekend, enjoyed the unseasonable weather, had some very good days on the writing front, and caught up on sleep. I feel much refreshed this morning, although I do have a tinge of regret at what I missed.

That makes two cons -- Boskone and Philcon -- that I intended to go to this year and didn't make it. *sigh*

The nice thing about cons is that they are recurrent phenomena. I've already registered for Boskone in February. I'll probably register for Philcon early as well. Actually, I'm looking at a bigger con for next year, too -- World Fantasy. Columbus is pretty close to here, after all, and I did enjoy World Fantasy when I went in 2005 (Madison).

There is a bit of time conflict involved for World Fantasy -- it takes place over Halloween weekend, and CG will just be of an age where she's anticipating it. That will be exciting. Thus, I'm thinking of a compromise. Trick-or-treating is always Friday night here, so I can skip the first two days of the con, fly out early Saturday, and just have the weekend there. (Then come back ready to start NaNo bright and early Monday, right?)

2009 -- no Boskone, no Philcon. 2010 -- hoping to do better.
eimarra: (Default)
Had a good time at the con Saturday. Traffic on I-76 was bad, as usual, so it took longer to get there than Google Maps predicted. Right after I registered, [ profile] temporus saw the baby and thought it might be me. So we wound up chatting until noon, when we went to the galactic empires talk. Read more... )
eimarra: (Default)
Just mailed off registrations for both Philcon (next month) and Boskone (next February)! Even put them on the family calendar.

Of course, I'll have to be ahead on my NaNo count before Philcon rolls around, but I think I can manage that.
eimarra: (Default)
Just the highlights. :-D I am, after all, more than a week late getting this up.


Religion in Fantasy, Otis, Lobby Level
Judith Berman (M), Debra Doyle, Walter H. Hunt, Jane Yolen

One of the biggest complaints aired in this panel was the superficial treatment of religion--the churches don't have Ladies' Altars Guilds, there's no budget, and so forth. Loved Debra Doyle's description of bad fantasy as having "evil-priest-in-red-robes" syndrome.

Judith Berman had a good point about discussing personal morality, not just salvation.


Hal Clement Science Speaker Talk: The New Horizons Mission to Pluto, Otis, Lobby Level
Richard Binzel

New Horizons Website

Great talk about how knowledge about Pluto has advanced over the years, about how objectives were set for the mission, about orbital resonance.


Fantasy, Folklore, and Myth, Stone, Lobby Level
Elizabeth Bear (M), Tobias Buckell, Esther Friesner, Greer Gilman, Gary A. Lippincott, Josepha Sherman

Great write up done here by [ profile] adelynne.


Is the British Revolution Over? Hancock, Lobby Level
Kathryn Cramer, Vince Docherty (M), Patrick Nielsen Hayden

[ profile] pnh started off by saying that the differences between British and American literary culture are oversold--it's just books. He also pointed out that everyone has influences from all over.

From the 1940s to the 1960s, there is no question that there was a difference because the world experiences of Britain and America were very different.

British book publishing is more academically oriented--not only do you have to be a university graduate to be employed, but it depends on where you graduated from.

Kathryn Cramer noted that big forces like war deform genres more than little forces.

Also some discussion of the breakdown of division of markets, moving toward more centralization in New York, which is amusing since almost everyone's owned by a German conglomerate.


12:00 Noon
How to Make This Made-up Stuff Believable: The Plausible vs. the Possible
Lou Anders (M), Alexander Jablokov, Karl Schroeder, Wen Spencer

Started off with three-word summaries of the authors' work: talking military dolphins, air balloon pirates, Pittsburgh with elves.

Jablokov said he relies on verisimilitude: he used Russian military behavior in his novels, based on what he knew and people he knew. He tried to show how practices would change but not too much.

Plausibility needs to be behavioral and cultural. For example, why do swords make sense when the culture has guns? Jablokov also mentioned the need to explain motivation and pointed out that real people have daily goals.

Lou Anders said that believability is more important than accuracy.

Wen Spencer said genius is in the rewrite: put in what's cool and nifty, and then go back and make it logical.

Karl Schroeder said local consistency trumps global consistency. It's more important that the story you're writing right now works than that it fits in the larger story.


Building Character
Judith Berman, Debra Doyle, Walter H. Hunt, Paul G. Tremblay (M)

Debra Doyle said you can build plots; you have to hang out with characters to get to know them.

Judith Berman said that although she's occasionally written straight idea stories, the most successful tend to be a character in a situation.

Paul Tremblay said that where stories fail is when the characters don't react to the setting or the problem.

Walter H. Hunt said characterization by quirk fails. Also, "If all your POV characters sound the same and you're not writing a series, you need to take a step back."


The Genre Slide: The Mechanics of Horror with Cross-genre Fiction, Commonwealth A, Concourse.
Craig Shaw Gardner, David G. Hartwell (M), John Langan, Paul G. Tremblay

David Hartwell discussed a difference between category and genre, and said that labels are useful mostly as knowledge of what you can transgress.

Craig Shaw Gardner mentioned that in cross-genre, the audience tends to be where two different audiences overlap, not everyone in both audiences.

John Langan said "Excellence is the cross-genre thing we're all supposed to be striving for." To which Hartwell replied that true excellence is rare. He also said that if quality goes down just a little bit, half or fewer of books will sell and the market will crash.


The Literary Tradition: How SF Fits (and Doesn't Fit) with American and European Literature
Lou Anders, F. Brett Cox (M), David G. Hartwell, Michael Swanwick

David Hartwell started with a history lesson on how things got defined out of literature. No one can read everything and be an expert starting in the 19th century. Also, no major American writer of the 19th century *didn't* write an SF story.

Michael Stanwick said, "All I want is to create something really, really cool. Genre boundaries don't matter. I just want to write as well as possible."


Literary Beer, Elizabeth Bear


From Urban Fantasy to the New Weird: Trends in Fantasy over the Last 20 Years
Mark Del Franco, Laura Anne Gilman (M), Christopher Stasheff, Michael Kabongo

Some good discussion on how world-building is different in urban fantasy. Christopher Stasheff described it as "building underneath the real world." Michael Kabongo said that it's mostly about character building and showing what's different and why. Laura Anne Gilman said she does "world unbuilding"--removing things so there's mystery. She said just because people live in the modern world, they bring a lot more of the detail to the books than for a quest fantasy, say.

Christopher Stasheff commented that the story has to be drawn out of the city that you're using.

Mark Del Franco said that plots and themes are different than they were twenty years ago.

Laura Anne Gilman described three important questions: what am I getting into? how can I get out of it? how can I make money from it?


Best New Writers: Recent Campbell Award Winners Talk
Elizabeth Bear (M), John Scalzi, Wen Spencer

Discussion of a resurgence in military SF, which [ profile] matociquala described as becoming less jingoistic. More cost of war stories are being written.

Scalzi discussed what's going with short stories and novels in terms of TV and movies. Movies are more mainstream, least-common-denominator. TV shows are where people do things that are adventurous now. Large market SF publishers are more like major movie studios.

With blogs and people being more open about having written fanfic, more emergent writers will come to the table with already established fandoms.


Science, Faith, and Society
Ctein, Janice Gelb (M), Paul Levinson, James D. MacDonald

What makes the genre susceptible to religion as an underpinning? Science and religion both try to explain man's place in the world.

Some discussion about relative rates of participation in organized religion in major English-speaking countries (very uncommon historically in Australia, for example).

Ctein commented that in the 50s and 60s, polite manners dictated that you didn't ask people what religion they were or how they voted. That's clearly changed in both.

Janice Gelb said that your beliefs might inform your works, but not everyone will get it.

An audience member commented that port cities tend to have more of a blend of religions, and the more inland you get, the purer the religion tends to be.


12:00 Noon
Applied SF: Consequences of the Video Cellphone
Walter H. Hunt, Alexander Jablokov, Shariann Lewitt (M), Steven Popkes

Jablokov commented that fiction is about creating constraints for your characters while reality is about removing constraints from life.

Walter Hunt said that technology introduces plot complications, such as intercepting messages along the way without anyone knowing it happened.

Good deal of discussion on signal/noise--so much material easily accessible, but sorting through it is the issue, whether it's listening to cell phone conversations or finding something interesting on YouTube.

Jablokov mentioned there's a constant flow between what's public and what's private. He also said there are different levels of what people accept as real. You believe what you're told, often. Shariann Lewitt said that hasn't changed, and Steven Popkes said that what has changed is the phase delay--how long it takes for the information to spread.


Literary Beer, Tobias Buckell, John Scalzi

eimarra: (Default)
Good one for me to type up just now as I'm afraid I'm going to go overboard doing research that I really don't need to do right now.

Thursday, 9 p.m. Panelists included Elizabeth Bear (who admitted to being a former SCA herald), Patricia Bray, Kristine Smith (moderator), Sarah Monette, and Charles Coleman Finlay. Again, doing my best to paraphrase and indicate who actually said what.

on the basics of world-building:

Elizabeth Bear: Understand an existing society and make it work in a fantastical setting.

Patricia Bray: The iceberg theory--there's a lot of research that never appears in the book. "I want lizard-infested slums."

Elizabeth Bear: When you read intensively, the same things come up again and again, and those are the things to avoid. When I was researching Elizabethan period, the color "Dead Spaniard" came up in every book. I'm not using that.

Sarah Monette: Tolkien had this idea that heroes don't sweat in their clothes. But who does the laundry? What is the economy actually based on? i look at these more Marxist questions.

Charles Coleman Finlay: Can't have bathrooms without bathroom humor. I have a history background, and borrow some things directly, others indirectly.

Kristine Smith: Did you have a specific period in mind, specific technology? Or did you start with fantasy and pull out ideas from different periods?

Elizabeth Bear: Bunch of books sprawled over 400 years--picked periods by events or specific people. [She made a reference to Val Kilmer in Ghost in the Darkness, but I didn't write down precisely what she said.] I don't have as directed a process as Kris. I'm more like, "Oooh, shiny!"

Patricia Bray: I had some basic ideas and narrowed them down because I needed a certain speed and capacity for the ships -- technological issues.

Elizabeth Bear: Recycling research is very important.

Sarah Monette: I used my training as a literary scholar in Renaissance book's city--a mixture of Renaissance London and Dickensian London on the American continent. (Like Bear, if it's shiny, I want it.) My fourth book is in Darwinian London--how does a magical world get to Victorian era? I'm a magpie; I mix and match.

Charles Coleman Finlay: I like scope for my imagination--anything shiny, I'm interested in. All fiction is autobiography. Resonates with us. I grew up on a rural farm in Ohio, and I'm fascinated by differences in technology and how two societies interact, what happens to them. Not just finding one culture and borrowing, but seeing when cultures interact, what changes.

Kristine Smith: If mixing, how do you define mores? How do you decide on social systems and classes? Are they an amalgam, or do you create new ones?

Elizabeth Bear: Cold logic.

Sarah Monette: Depends on what feels right.

Patricia Bray: It helps to know people. How did history and society evolve to get to this point? It's important not to have monolithic societies.

Elizabeth Bear: Medieval or Renaissance people do not think and act like us. If you're going to write it, you have to be aware of the cultural differences. People change; cultures change. What we take as givens now wasn't given 20 years ago or 400 years ago.

Charles Coleman Finlay: People don't do things, cultures don't do things. Characters act. Being conflicted is as important for villains and minor characters as for main characters. They're not automatons, not programmed by their culture.

Kristine Smith: How do you know when enough research is enough?

Elizabeth Bear: Research is ongoing. As I'm doing research, I create a calendar and write down everything that's important to the plot, then I start filling in my own events and figure out how they fit together. You can rely on other people to do research for you, but you have to read extensively. After a while, you get a gestalt picture.

Patricia Bray: There's a point where you're comfortable with how much research you've done. If you've only read one book, that's not enough. You have to find the comfort level for what you do.

Sarah Monette: The important thing is you don't stop thinking.

Charles Coleman Finlay: History is really messy, full of contradictions and anomalies. Historians simplify, organize too much to create a coherent picture. There's value when you can look at primary sources for anomalous deails because those are the things too cool not to use.

audience question: How do you decide how much research to put in? Does SF vs. fantasy matter?

Kristine Smith: I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer. I buck it up when I'm boring myself and avoid "As you know, Bob."

Elizabeth Bear: Anytime you find yourself skimming your own writing, you've put too much in.

Sarah Monette: Filter your research through your characters. Only put in the things they would notice.

Charles Coleman Finlay: Follow the characters' personalities.

Patricia Bray: When I did research on lighthouses, I put in two details that those who really know about them would recognize as authentic and others wouldn't even notice were even there. You seed clues. If readers know you got a couple little details right, they'll trust you on the other things.

Elizabeth Bear: It gives the author confidence. Details are far better than generalities.

Your core audience is going to be the people who are geeks on the subject. You don't want to alienate them.

Sarah Monette: Take things you think are really cool and do things with them that never happened.

Charles Coleman Finlay: Create an intensive experience that emphasizes the cool, not a thin veneer.

Sarah Monette: You have to respect your sources.

question on cultural appropriation

Kristine Smith: You either appropriate them or you're a bigot because you only write about white cultures.

Sarah Monette: You take something because it's interesting. Write what you're passionate about.

audience question: How do you tell which telling detail to use?

Elizabeth Bear: The best one.

Charles Coleman Finlay: The one the character would notice, the one that sets up something later in the book, or just the coolest.

"You know 'em when you see 'em." [Sorry, not sure who said it.]

examples of cool details:

In France, there was a biology craze. The rich traveled with corpses in their carriages so they could dissect wherever they were.

When yellow fever struck Philadelphia, it was thought cigars kept the fumes of the sickness away, so there would be five- and six-year-olds on the street smoking cigars.

Raleigh had pearls on his jacket sewn on loosely so they would fall off if someone brushed against him.

They may seem like useless trivia, but work best if they get the reader to see, to say, "I understand now." The details tell you something about the characters.
eimarra: (Default)
Thursday, 7 p.m. Panelists were Holly Black, Joe Haldeman, Naomi Kritzer (moderator), L.E. Modesitt Jr., and Sarah Zettel. Again, not generally direct quotes, but rather paraphrases of what each one said.

Naomi Kritzer: How do you know if you're improving? Are there useful measurements of quality?

Sarah Zettel: You stop having to pay attention to some things.

Joe Haldeman: Need to develop an input filter so don't listen to people saying you should be writing the same thing you did X years ago.

Sarah Zettel: Authors are like parrots--they're highly intelligent, have short attention spans, and will take things apart when your back is turned.

Naomi Kritzer: What about external feedback? Is it useful?

L.E. Modesitt: It can be. I'm not using as many sound effects now, or writing as much about food. You also learn how to and when to trust your subconscious.

Holly Black: A hand-picked group of readers helps--someone you can believe, someone you trust to tell you it sucks or is good.

Joe Haldeman: I don't ask my wife for criticism, but I do ask her for input. When I stop, I'll ask her, but what I write is mine. Nine times out of ten, I end up telling her why her idea won't work. The only input I care about is from the editor. "If you're a serious writer, you write for yourself."

L.E. Modesitt: No one sees what I've written before Dave Hartwell (my editor), except for parts with music, which my wife looks at. Editors are great at seeing symptoms but not so good at cause. If they say there's a problem, there is, but it may not be what the editor thinks it is.

Sarah Zettel: Have to find what works for you as an author. I've been part of a writer's group since 1994.

L.E. Modesitt: Thing to remember about critics as that their criticism reflects more of them than of you.

Joe Haldeman: For a beginning writer, any criticism leads to the feeling "Oh my god, I'm a failure!" After a couple of years, criticism tends to lead to feeling "What an asshole!"

Naomi Kritzer: I find crit group feedback to be terribly helpful, but I can't stand feedback after something's in print.

(At this point, some discussion of solitary writers versus those who prefer crit groups and whether this is a generational difference. Older writers--at least from this given sample--are more likely to be solitary.)

Naomi Kritzer: I used to have a writers' book addiction. I was looking for the magic key, and found many books that say there is one true way.

Holly Black: Writers' porn.

Joe Haldeman: Some writers can't read their own work; some do it compulsively.

Holly Black: I'm afraid to read my own work; don't want to see what it is.

Naomi Kritzer: By the end, everything sucks.

Sarah Zettel: I have to get it away because I can't deal with it anymore.

Joe Haldeman: Sooner or later, you have to set it free.

Naomi Kritzer: Is there an area where you're stretching yourself now?

L.E. Modesitt: I ask what I can do that's different, that I haven't done before, that isn't familiar to me or the readers.

Joe Haldeman: You don't want to take the path of least resistance and satirize yourself.

L.E. Modesitt: It's a problem if you get to be known for something with only some idea (love story, man learns something, James Bond/mindless adventure). You have to be careful and work harder each time to do it differently.

Sarah Zettel: I'm researching new areas, new ways, working on areas I know next to nothing about.

audience question: Do you have any problem keeping your characters fresh?

Joe Haldeman: Characters generate the story. I don't use plot or theme. I use the same templates occasionally because my characters are somewhat autobiographical, as with most writers.

L.E. Modesitt: They always have a certain amount of determination, intelligence, persistence--what do you do beyond the basics?

Sarah Zettel: Characters need to be true to the environment they're set in. They'll be changed to be true te tho character, universe, story--they have to be different.

Joe Haldeman: A character doesn't have to be a hero, positive, to come out ahead. The character just has to be interesting enough to make the reader keep turning the pages until they get to the end--and then you've won.

Holly Black: The more comfortable we are with things as authors, the more we want to play with them, poke them, prod them. Sometimes, you may do something that's not in line with your readers.

Sarah Zettel: First you learn shading, lighting, brushstrokes on canvas--sublimated, now free to work with the subtler aspects. Sheer experience is one way to get better.

I never know what's coming next. Ideas are garnered from everywhere. When it comes, the idea will tell me how it needs to be written, and sometimes I don't feel up to it.

Joe Haldeman: Fitzgerald and Hemingway decided to become serious writers and went bankrupt.

L.E. Modesitt: I started out as a poet, then moved to SF for 20 years. So, yes, you can change.

question: Have you ever broken rules and decided "oh, it's there for a reason"?

L.E. Modesitt: The Spellsong series. It sold really well in romance, but in romance novel, you don't have an unhappy break.

Joe Haldeman: Every genre has a set of reading protocols that tell readers what to expect. The market is a reflection of what the readers have been trained to expect.

question: Is there more cross-genre stuff out there, more mainstream that would have previously been speculative? Is it easier to find now?

L.E. Modesitt: I never worried about it. The criteria I operate with are Is it good? Does it sell?

question: Can you speculate on writers whose work gets better as they go on as opposed to those who become self-parody?

Joe Haldeman: Don't say anything bad about other authors in public; my motives might be in question. Chip Delaney is smart, and you have to be smart to read him, so his audience has narrowed over time.

Sarah Zettel: It's critical to maintain a degree of uncertainty about yourself and your work. When you're certain, you stop being able to take criticism, make relationships in the outside world.

Robert Heinlein's early stuff is brilliant, full of questions and variety. Then he got sure of himself and his stories rationed down in quality.

Holly Black: It's important to remember the joy of being a reader.

Joe Haldeman: Robert Heinlein's quality went down when he became a best seller; you can defend anything when you're making money.

If critics consistintly see something wrong with your work, that's what's right with it because that's where you depart from their expectations. (Gertrude Stein, as quoted by Hemingway, as quoted by Haldeman.)

question: What would you do if you won the lottery?

Joe Haldeman: Isolate myself on a desert island for as long as I could and write.

Sarah Zettel: Hire a good nanny (and maybe a bodyguard) and travel with child, nanny, etc.

L.E. Modesitt: Bank the money and keep doing what I'm doing.

Holly Black: Retreat to a place in Greece with a friend for a month to write a novel.
eimarra: (Default)
Thursday, 5 p.m. Panelists were David Hartwell (moderator; editor at Tor), Stephen Jones (from England), James Minz (Del Rey), and Barbara Roden (Ashtree Press, from Canada) These are notes, not necessarily direct quotes, though I do attribute them to individual speakers.

There is more separation between fantasy and horror in the US. In the UK, publishing is publishing. (I didn't note who made this pithy comment.)

Stephen Jones: A few years ago, horror was coming out of a black hole, small presses were coming to the UK, but that all went away. It's reduced to 3 or 4 companies, owned by the Germans and the French. Now all are competing for the same market, and it's harder for mid-list authors to get published. Fewer editors specialize in the area.

There are no publicity budgets. No time, energy, or money to specialize. They concentrate on books that will make a profit for the company.

Barbara Roden: I can't really talk about fantasy. I'll focus on supernatural, primarily short stories. Short stories don't get recognition. A small press can publish books of short stories. For horror, the pendulum goes back and forth.

The Canadian market is based on what happens in England or the US. You can't get momentum with Canadian authors unless they can be a big seller in the US or UK as well. Small presses can be a stepping stone to larger things for authors. Everyone's looking for The Next Big Thing, and you won't get the push unless they think that's you. There are only one or two at the top of the heap, and everyone else is scrambling.

Stephen Jones: Everything for Canada also holds true for Australia. [me: I'll post notes for the panel on Australian fantasy later this week, so that will have more details, I think.]

James Minz: Australians have problems getting distribution.

David Hartwell: No mainstream publisher in Canada has ever been interested in developing genre; Australia had Harper.

Barbara Roden: Hutchison did a series a few years back, but it lost what it had.

David Hartwell: Canada has no law as the US does about monopolies. The second-largest Canadian bookstore chain bought out the largest, then went bankrupt, which collapsed distributors and half the publishers in Canada. Recovery has been coming in bits and pieces.

Stephen Jones: WH Smith set themselves up as main chain and distributor in England. They insisted on books being marketed as they chose, with covers of their design. They started to lose money. Everything they told everyone was wrong. They became too powerful and destroyed the industry.

James Minz: Symptom of the times, of society as a whole--fractionation of the market. You see it with cable and satellite TV. There are hundreds of choices but few main markets, and even they are getting divided. Everyone is fighting for smaller pieces of the pie, which is why small presses can do well.

David Hartwell: There's a difference between getting known and getting paid.

James Minz: It's easier to start big because it's hard to fight mid-list history as an author. There's no industrial memory, no institutional history.

Barbara Roden: Ramsey Campbell's discussion board. What makes "dark horror"? Not doing anyone a favor by subdividing what's already a small genre.

Stephen Jones: It started with trying to use "dark fantasy" to market horror.

James Minz: Publishers do make marketing decisions, but they also need a product to sell.

Stephen Jones and David Hartwell both agreed that it's got to be product.

David Hartwell: Historically, publishing and books do well versus other entertainment in economic down times. Probably heading for good times for the industry.

James Minz: But it costs more to ship books than CDs or DVDs.

David Hartwell: There are 10 major and 3 minor publishers of genre in the US--still a large segment; haven't had the kind of collapse that happened in the UK, France, and a lot of the west in the 80s and 90s. Trade publishing was preserved. A lot was sold to German conglomerates, which is good for Germany because in tough times they can take money from the US and UK to Germany.

Superficial--lot of money to buy books from big name authors. It's set up to use money rather than expertise to succeed. Multinationals don't do fiction; they prefer fact, nonfiction. Trying to make nonfiction sell bigger, with some success. They don't care if I know the field, only if I've used their money to buy another best seller. Twice, I was told they don't care if my division is making money because they aren't interested in publishing that kind of material, and I was fired. Now I'm at Tor, and I plan to stay.

If we cultivate talent, we might get the next best seller. Not really trying to make money from a book if not giving big advances.

Stephen Jones: This is one market that still exists and is rather healthy. Selling American publishers world rights. Very difficult to make a living by being a writer. Advances are often $500-$1,000. [me: Compare this with Tobias Buckell's survey, previously linked from this blog.] Short stories are even harder. People can't afford to do it. Make less money now than did ten years ago, and it's difficult without a second job.

The same is true with a small press. The money you'll get for something that will sell 500 copies if you're lucky will only keep you going a couple of weeks. But you get stuck in the cycle."

Barbara Roden: "You're a small press writer, and that's all you'll ever be." It's the minor leagues in baseball. Can't make it sell, even if it's good.

Stephen Jones: That's one good thing about year's best anthologies; they pull work out to a larger audience. And, once a writer becomes big, they can go back to small press to do projects that they want to.

David Hartwell: There's a 150 year horror short fiction tradition. Not true for fantasy, which was more or less invented in 70s by Del Rey, who were trying to reproduce the effect of Tolkien's trilogy. People who read fantasy novels much less frequently read short fiction.

James Minz: There are two rough paradigms. There's the pet project, something different, that can get the industry excited. Then there's the big book like other previous best sellers.

Barbara Roden: Look back to pulp magazines, how many markets were available for writers to hone their craft, get their name out there and known. There's nowhere for writers to get their name out there and known now.

Stephen Jones: There aren't that many fantasy magazines--Realms of Fantasy, and Fantasy & Science Fiction, which has a bit of everything.

James Minz: Horror is at its best short, science fiction is also very good, but fantasy isn't necessarily at its best.

audience question: Market bubbles: why do they continue? Do any companies make enough money to go through crash afterward?

To keep the competition from getting a crushing share of the market. Everyone tears off a piece to keep someone else from making tons of money off it. Just meet expectations for this fall, make the bottom line look good NOW, even if it means putting out money to ride a trend, even if you know it's going to burst because you need the support of the people paying the salaries.

audience question: Given the general older age of readers, is anything being done to pull younger readers to the field?

Harry Potter phenomenon. YA books in fantasy and horror are easy to sell.

Halo books (SF) are doing well.

Make more money, sell more copies. But no evidence of cross-over to nonseries books.

Barbara Roden: Even if it's a fraction crossing over--1 in 100 or 1 in 1,000--it's better than 0.

audience question: Are genres mixing and merging? (SF/F/H)

There's so much out there, people can discriminate, and the buy just what they want.

About cross-genre stuff: Have to know what section of the bookstore to shelve books, or they won't get picked up by a publisher.
eimarra: (Default)
This is a link. I didn't take any pictures. Well, until the con was over and I took pictures of the environs because of the shiny new idea in my head.

For those who are insatiably curious, this page includes me. Second to last picture, I'm the one in the background with the white shirt with gold trim, gray pants -- not the woman in the black dress. I can also pick out my back in the first picture, but that's more because I know where we were sitting -- or getting ready to sit, anyway.
eimarra: (Default)
The second panel I attended, 3 p.m. on Thursday, was Medicine for Writers, with panelists Lisa Freitag (a pediatrician and program organizer for the con) and Angela Lathrop (a veterinarian). Their other title for the panel was "Maim 'em Right."

Lisa's pet peeve -- a movie, rather than a book -- was in LOTR. What really was wrong with Aragorn? Was it supposed to be a head injury? Makeup was all wrong, and he should've been experiencing symptoms for hours or days afterward unless he was mystically healed by Arwen -- in which case, why wasn't it instantaneous?

Angela's pet peeve involves anatomy and nomenclature. It's the carotid artery, not vein, and lots of other things would get in the way and get hurt too if you were cutting it.

There was some discussion of "flesh wound" being an undefined term.

Fighting with a dislocated shoulder: you can't. It's stuck, and the muscles won't be at the right angles to move.

Concussion: few seconds to a few minutes unconscious, some retrograde amnesia, nausea, headaches. (More discussion about Aragorn.)

They mentioned the existence of a Coma Scale, from 1 to 10. Angela commented it wasn't precisely the same because you can't ask animals questions like what the date is or who's president.

A question was asked about long-term memory loss and what triggers its return. "Weird stuff happens." No good answers. Joke about "trans-cranial magnetic waves"

How far can you fall and survive? Being feline helps. It depends on what you fall on, how you fall, whether there's something to absorb the shock, how limp you are, what the ratio of muscle to body size is . . . landing on the head is bad, though. They suggest trying for no more than 1-2 stories, though some kids have survived 3-4 story falls.

Recommendation for D. P. Lyle's Web site, where he answers questions on medicine/forensics (

Infection from a sword wound? Bacteria from the skin get pushed into the wound. Anything that pierces the gut allows the bacteria that are there to ooze out. How long to incubate? A couple hours for flesh-eating bacteria to several days. A person can pine away for a long time. Peeve of Lisa: sepsis. Sepsis is extreme condition that needs to be treated with long courses of antibiotics; don't have someone find the right herb in the wilderness, chew it once, and get immediately better.

Angela commented that chocolate really isn't as bad for dogs as they say -- more like having 5 cups of coffee. Arrhythmia, if bad enough, could kill. Can use this for not killing off an animal when would expect to. (Shucks! There goes my plan to get rid of werewolves by serving them mole!)

What about tetanus on swords? Tetanus has to come from somewhere. It's carried by spores, but they're not omnipresent. (Lisa comments that the best way to poison a sword is to poop on it -- and it has to be a deep wound, anaerobic.)

The Red Book, published by the CDC, describes illnesses, including incubation times. (Available on-line at

Healing time for extensive second or third degree burns, if clothes on fire? First degree burns have red skin, no blisters, pain gone in a couple days. Second degree burns blister, peel off over a week, granulate from the edges, can take a couple weeks to heal -- need to keep covered to prevent infection and moisturized so the tissue doesn't dry out. Third degree burns ooze. If the skin is pink under the blister, it will grow back. If gray, need skin grafts. Watch for skin contractures -- need to keep pressure around joints to make sure skin grows right and joint can be moved later.

Catnip is effective on tigers. (They didn't say this, but from my grad school days, I know that catnip activates cat-specific serotonin receptors. Not all cats have tho same subtype of receptor, which is why not all cats are affected.)

Can treat wild animals at larger wet facilities. Angela told of a time they treated a mountain lion. They kept it in a horse stall that didn't go all the way to the ceiling. They realized the problem before it climbed up to get the horse put in the stall next door. They won't treat primates because they carry too many diseases humans are susceptible to, and they bite.

Adrenaline rush? Don't expect it to last too long, maybe a fraction of a minute. Lisa said she doesn't think there are any documented cases of mothers pulling cars off their children, etc. Can ignore injuries for a long time, though, unless bleeding too much.

"There is probably a reasonably medically accurate way to make what you want to happen, happen." (incapacitate, suffer, recover, etc.) Write it first, then get depth and detail by finding people it's happened to.
eimarra: (Default)
The first panel of the con, at 2 p.m. on Thursday, was on Gender-Bending Fantasy. Panel members were Ellen Klages, Terry A. Garey, Jeanne Gomoll, and Jill Roberts. Justine Larbalestier had stayed in New York because Scott Westerfield was down with the flu.

At first, this panel was supposed to be to discuss the Tiptree Award, but the people proposing it were told that special interest groups couldn't have panels. So they renamed it to "gender-bending fantasy" and discussed the Tiptree anyway. The Tiptree Award is given to fiction that gives insight into what it means to be male, to be female, to cross over those lines -- without focusing on those issues. It is, to quote, for "science fiction or fantasy that explores or expands our understanding of gender roles."

"If we haven't pissed someone off, we're not doing our job." (Speaking of selection of the winner or winners.) They want controversy, and what is gender-bending changes with time.

All discussions of the judges are being archived for future scholars, but are not currently available. The time frame given was 50 years after death of the last juror.

This past year, there were two winners, Johanna Sinisalo for Not Before Sundown, a love story involving a troll, and Joe Haldeman for Camouflage, a story about shape-changing aliens on earth.

Ellen commented that people don't want to use the label "feminism" because that's over, we won -- which is pretty much what people's attitudes were about racism before Hurricane Katrina. (Side note: I don't describe myself as a feminist because most of the women I've met who do tend to be femi-Nazis, as i saw it described on another blog.)

A goal for this award is to make people uncomfortable in the right way. A lot of Tiptree winners are from small presses; big publishers tend to be scared of controversy. The closer you are to pushing the edge, the harder it is to get published. And if you are published, it will either disappear without a trace or be critically acclaimed.

Tiptree-winning fiction makes you squirm; it will never be mainstream.

Someone from the audience asked about supernatural/mystical androgyny, as in Hong Kong action flicks or Bridget Lynn. An editor (Jill Roberts?) said that if someone was writing that, she'd love to see it.

The panel said that everyone should report any fiction they think should be considered for the award. (Web site is Fiction is not considered separately by length -- short stories or novels are considered equally.
eimarra: (Default)
Hey, I'm back. I'll be posting notes I took at the various panels starting later today. If anyone who participated in a panel requests, I will take their comments down, but I hope my notes will be helpful and enrich the community.

Oh, so for the record -- my name's not Anna. It's Erin. When I first started LJ, I had just read some posts by an author who had serious issues with stalkers and was concerned about her family's safety. As I have the most adorable child in the world, that struck a nerve with me, and I wanted to remain somewhat anonymous. As for why Anna Bennett Strong -- well, I was working on a mainstream novel (which is on the back burner now, as I had real trouble with getting it to work as either urban fantasy or magical realism, but with ghosts being a main part of it, and it not being horror, I knew I had to go some such route. So I'm working on other things while I let that brew in the back of my mind.), and that seemed like a good pseudonym for mainstream.

As for current projects, I have a number of short stories in various stages, from idea to edit. The novel I was going to do for NaNoWriMo (a thriller) wasn't compelling me. So, following the "Ooh, shiny!" pattern, I'm beginning work on a comic fantasy -- based on what the Madison Concourse might look like as drawn by Phil Foglio, if magic creatures inhabited it.

Posts to come later today.


Oct. 28th, 2005 04:59 pm
eimarra: (Default)
Names mentioned here are just the ones that caught my eye; I have no desire or intent to malign those not mentioned. I'll try to go back through and link to LJs for those that I know of. I'm open to input on conflicts, things I might consider instead, or things that may not be as good as I think. This is the list of things I intend to, or would like to, attend at WFC.

Scheduling for World Fantasy

I arrive in Wisconsin on Wednesday; that's my day with my brother and his family. WFC fun begins Thursday.

2-3 "Gender-Bending Fantasy" panel

3-4 "Medicine for Writers" panel

4-5 "The State of Fantasy & Horror" panel (This is a maybe for me.)

(break for dinner)

7-8 "Working on Your Craft: Writing as an Evolving Process (1)" panel
(the name that caught me, quite aside from the description of the panel, is L.E. Modesitt, Jr.)

8-9 "The Bathroom: Necessities of World-Building" panel
(Elizabeth Bear [[personal profile] matociquala], Patricia Bray [[personal profile] pbray], Charles Coleman Finlay [[profile] ccfinlay]. . . )

10-11 "The Kitchen: Food in Fantasy" panel
(panel includes Esther Friesner, Ellen Kushner, others)


10-11 a.m. "The Bedroom, or What's This Sex Scene Doing in My Fantasy?" panel
(with Teresa Nielsen Hayden and others)

11-noon "Good vs. Evil: Philosophy in Fantasy" panel

noon-1 p.m. "Images of Women in Fantasy Literature" panel

"The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror" panel
"Fantastic Houses" panel

2:30-4 "Adapting the Brothers Grimm & Other Fairy Tales" panel
(with David Drake, Jane Yolen, and Terri Windling! and others)

(I'm also tempted by the "Beyond Folk Music" panel at the same time.)

"Really Good Really Bad Guys" panel
(Stephen R. Donaldson, Joe Haldeman, J. Ardian Lee, John M. Ford, and Gene Wolfe)
"Fantasy in Unexpected Places" panel
(including Kelly Link and Jeff VanderMeer)
5-5:30 reading by Esther Friesner

(break for dinner)

8-10:30 autograph reception

10-11 a.m. "Working on Your Craft: Writing as an Evolving Process (2)" panel
(panel includes Ellen Kushner, Patricia McKillip, Gene Wolfe, a couple others)
(which is opposite a reading by Jane Yolen :( )

noon-1 p.m. "Mining Other Cultures" panel

1-2:30 Talking with Terri Windling (interviewed by Charles de Lint)

"The Reader: Foundation of Fantasy" panel
readings by John M. Ford and Kelly Link

8-9 "A Maze Demands a Minotaur" panel
(Patricia Bray, David D. Levine)

9-11 Small Press Roundtable
9-10 "Other Forms of Storytelling" panel
(games, etc. -- panel includes Matt Forbeck and Michael A. Stackpole, both of whom I met at Origins a couple years back, though they won't remember me, I'm sure.)
10-11 "The Thing in the Basement" panel (just what I need before heading off to sleep!) (panel includes Laura Anne Gilman)


10-11 a.m. "The Romance of Ruins" panel
(Esther Friesner is on the panel.)
readings by Patricia McKillip and Elizabeth Bear

11-noon "Wee Folk, Good Folk" panel
(panel includes Susanna Clarke and Terri Windling, among others)

1-4 World Fantasy Awards Banquet (paid for this when I registered)

4-5 The Judges' Panel

September 2017

3 4 5 6789
101112 13 14 1516
171819 20 21 2223


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 11:28 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios