lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Today was the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I was a guest critiquer, which meant that I got about 10 pages of a manuscript to read and review ahead of time and 10 minute slots in which to give the good news/bad news to the submitters.  It was a very... intensive process, even though I only had three.  (Four writers had submitted, but one decided not to show/couldn't make it for whatever reason.)  All of my critiquees left with a smile.

Long ago--actually it was my first Loft class, one I took, no less, that's how long ago--I learned something important about critique.  No matter how far along you are in your career, it's more... palatable to hear about the things you did right, that excited or thrilled the reader FIRST. After you get a little praise, then it's a lot easier to open your ears and really listen to what didn't work, where you need improvement, the GLARING HORRIFIC PLOT HOLES, etc.  So all the people who got critiques from me heard how much I liked the sassy heroine's witty repartee or the depth of their world building, etc., before I doled out the bad news.  One person was so happy with my critique that her mom sought me out afterwards to give me a giant bear hug.


I found out later that wasn't really the typical tone.  I poked my head into a workshop called "First Pages," where the first pages of anonymous contributors (presumably at the conference?) were read aloud and given an on-the-fly, off-the-cuff critique by a panel of about seven agents/editors (who also had a paper copy in front of them). My friends.... it was brutal. I don't think I would've submitted the first page of my published novels to this group! It was like "American Idol" only more vicious!  To be fair, I think it was all accurate and excellent advice.  I don't think people were being mean for sport or gratuitously.  But, it definitely was hard core.  No one was pulling punches.  

Writing is a tough business, no doubt. If you can't handle blunt, albeit constructive criticism then, yeah, maybe this business isn't for you.  BUT... I tend to try to be more sensitive.  I believe in honest critique, but I have made my writers' group stick with the strengths first model because I really believe it works to... well, not soften the blow, but to be more receptive to it.  The point of critique is to really listen and try to honestly consider what's not working in your piece, right? 

But, some people like the other method. For them, it feels more 'honest' if you go for the jugular right out of the gate (just to mix my metaphors.) In fact, at lunch, when I was talking to the other agents and editors who were doing critiques and hearing pitches, they were saying that a lot of people were saying to them, "No, I want you to hurt me."  

Indeed, one of the critiquees that I was the most kind to told me that she had come prepared to listen hard and take copious notes. She'd steeled herself for the "this is going to take a lot of work" speech.  I was like, "Nah, girl, you're good. Send it out." (Hence the hug.)

The conference was in the Riverfront hotel in downtown Saint Paul which was a nice venue. There was a nice lounge area in the middle of everything for hanging out and recharging phones.  It was much smaller than I expected. I think because of the number of writers I know, I assumed it would be packed. But, I think it was fairly expensive. I only saw one local author I knew (probably most people were out at one of the three big protests today--there was a rally in support of Planned Parenthood, a #BlackLivesMatters march, and Caravan of Love - marching in support of immigrants and refugees.) I told all my critiquees that, if they lived near here, they should really be attending local science fiction conventions. I also plugged the heck out of WisCON's writers' workshop too.  Hopefully, we will see a few fresh faces at various cons.

A good day.

The other funny thing about the workshop was the fact that in pretty much all of their correspondence to presenters they mentioned "there is no coffee available on site!" I took this dire warning very seriously and stopped at Claddaugh's Wee Shop on the way in. Undercaffinated critiquing seemed like a really, really bad idea.

Oh, yes! The other nice thing that happened is that I reconnected with a former student of mine who has gone on to co-found a publishing company called  Wise Ink.  We made a date to get together for coffee. So, that's cool.

lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Again, I'm a bit behind, but I thought I should say a few words about the Nebula Conference that I went to last weekend.

I've never gone to a Nebula Award weekend before, but this year my friend Naomi Krizter's short story "Cat Pictures, Please" was nominated. (You can listen to the audio here: So I went with the sole purpose of being Naomi's wingman, because these things are always better when you have someone to share them with, win or lose.

Naomi didn't win--which was a disappointment for her, I'm sure. On the other hand, there's a new tradition at the Nebulas that legitimately takes the sting out of losing. For the past few years Henry Lien has organized the "alternate universe acceptance speeches." The idea being that the people who didn't win get to still get applause and read their speeches. Maybe it sounds corny, but it wasn't... not a all. In fact, I'm not sure there was a dry eye in the house when Kelly Robson got up and talked about her first moment of stumbling across science fiction in Asimov's magazine and... experiencing 'intellectual curiosity' for the first time in her life. Then Charles E. Gannon just about killed me when he talked about how the cliche about it being an honor to be nominated should really be thought of like this: when you go to a museum you don't go into a room labeled "Renaissance" and see only one picture.  You see a gallery.  And, they all represent the best of their time, no single picture does that in isolation.

And then I cried some more because it's all true, and it makes me remember what is awesome about SF/F fandom and prodom.

The rest of the conference was a bit of a blur.  I got to see "Zootopia" with my friend Kyell Gold, which was awesome. I might have cried through some of that, too.  But, mostly what stood out to me about the Nebula Conference in comparison to other cons was that people knew who I was.  I never really had imposter syndrome because everyone seemed genuinely aware of my work. That happens a lot less at "regular" cons.  Thing is, I think writers are more aware that careers have fits and starts and fallow periods and very few people there think that writing is magical and without bumps and scraps.  What was amazing about that was how welcoming it felt.  It made me want to always go to the Nebula Weekend...

And maybe I will.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 So... my big plan to talk up MarsCON?  


Seriously, how can any of us wonder why it's so difficult to get women and PoC and NEW BLOOD to come to conventions, when an emcee decides that not only is the costuming contest all about him, but also is an opportunity to drag out all the sexist, sexualizing "jokes" that stopped being funny in 1983. 

lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
This weekend was MarsCON.  

As I mentioned earlier this week, I was a bit of a last minute addition to programming this year.  MarsCON kind of snuck up on me, and despite getting all the appropriate emails, I almost didn't make it this year.  

Generally, I had a good time.  It was noticeable this year, however, that I was the only woman on a couple of panels (which, given my last minute volunteering makes this phenomenon, perhaps, more notable. Because had I NOT signed up late, there would have been NONE.)  

The first one was the Marvel Cinematic Universe panel.  I thought we had a great discussion, and it was a fun panel, in general.  But it's sort of fascinating that my final panel was "The Rise of the Female Superhero," which had a very decent crowd for late Sunday, and the audience was was JAM PACKED with extremely knowledgeable, funny, well-read (younger) female comic book fans... and yet somehow MarsCON couldn't find more than one woman to fill a seat on the MCU panel? Given what I see on Tumblr and fan fic sites, women seem to make up a fairly large percent of MCU fandom.

The other one I really noticed the gender disparity was the Cyberpunk panel. Again, I have nothing but nice things to say about my fellow panelists.  I really enjoyed our discussion.  To be fairl, cyberpunk has always had a problem when it comes to women... which is to say, Pat Cadigan is _not_ the only female cyberpunk author to have ever lived, but many people seem to have no idea that plenty of women not only have written cyberpunk, but also really enjoy it.

I would like to think that mine was an isolated experience, but I heard from another female panelist that she ended up being the only woman on at least one of her panels, as well.

This is not a prelude to bashing MarsCON or its organizers in any way, shape, or form. I've been very proud and honored to have been one of their guests of honor, not once, but twice.  I love the organizers and the programming is often quite spectacular.  However, this is still a problem... and I feel like it's a problem that could get worse over time.  Given the recent kerfuffle at CONquest with Mark Oshiro, I feel like one of the big issues at stake here is how do we cultivate "new talent" and guarantee the survival of con culture.

One way is getting new and different faces on panels.  We need more women, more PoC, more queer and non-binary folks, and more diversity of all stripes. 

Of course, that's easy to _say_. This is why I don't feel like the blame can fall on programming. I'm absolutely sure that programming does the very best it can with what it gets.  The problem, of course, is actually getting people to not only volunteer panel ideas, but also then follow-up and volunteer to actually be on the panels themselves.  

This is an open process, but I don't now if people know how it works.  Thing is, one of the reasons I nearly missed this year is that it's easy to miss deadlines for proposing panel ideas, and the deadline for volunteering for programming.  You kind of have to follow a particular con fairly closely to know when to put in ideas, etc.

I wish that I had taken down some of the names of the interesting people in the audience of my "The Rise of the Female Superhero" and, like, actively recruited them to be on paneling next year. The thing about MarsCON panelists is that they're all volunteers (this is actually true at most cons). There is, as far as I know, no other requirement. You don't HAVE to be a pro writer or a pro anything, you just have to be willing to sit in front of other people and talk about the stuff you love.  The thing that's nice about MarsCON is that it's not going to be a room of two thousand. The audience is usually moderately sized (sometimes even 'intimate,' as in only a few other folks). So, you don't have to even be HUGELY extroverted, just... enough.

But, probably, if a random person volunteered for programming they might get a bit of the "and... you are?" blowback--like what I got from WorldCON, which is legit to some extent because panelists are, in essence, the entertainment during the daytime hours, at any rate, and there should be some kind of vetting of expertise, etc. To counteract that, I would, in point of fact, be very happy to vouch for anyone reading this who wants to be on paneling at MarsCON in the future.  You don't even have to be female, a PoC, or queer...  so long as you're new, I'd be happy to help you figure out how to be on paneling. 

Maybe I just need to get out there and talk up MarsCON more, you know?  There are a lot of cons in the Twin Cities, so it may just be that people are choosing to go a different con. Given its musical bent, I suspect MarsCON will always survive, but, I'm not a big music fan, so I'd like the programming to continue to be vibrant, exciting, and relevant as well. 

Perhaps this is a problem specific to MarsCON, since CONvergence certainly seems to have less trouble drawing in talent. On the other hand, I was also once the only woman on the Marvel Movie panel at CONvergence, too.  So some of the problems are there, too, despite the size difference.   

So... um, please come to MarsCON next year?  Pretty please???
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
First, a book review. I posted my review of Jennifer Marie Brissett's Elysium, or the World After up onBitter Empire. This is a book that 100% fits Tempest's Challenge, by the way, because Brissett is a woman, and, according to the bio in the back, identifies as a British-Jamacian American.

Here it is, Tuesday morning, and I'm mostly recovered from the one, 12-hour day I spent at Anime Detour. The thing that should be known about Detour is that the median age is 14. That means I'm approximately three times older than the average con goer, and SIGNIFICANTLY older than many, many others. This con is also very, very well attended, so much so that getting from point A to point B often involves a myriad of "excuse me!"s and "summimassen!"s as costume bits get jostled against you and there is a general press of bodies akin to walking against the flow on the streets of New York City during rush hour.

I am an extrovert, but I am not a fan of jostling.

Also, this year I wasn't in costume. We really only have the one. Mason says, we're like those three old women in the myths who share the eye. It's not even mine, I've been borrowing it from a fellow Bleach fan, Anna Waltz, for about three or four years now. (Luckily, she's pleased to see it so often used and is happy to continue to extend the loan.) Mason decided to go as pre-evil, pre-"hair lock" Aizen, so the only thing I needed to add to the costume was a captain's coat (a haori). So my friend Naomi and I did a little thrift shop hunting and found a silky bathrobe that only took a bit of removing of bits in order to passably pass as such. I painted on the appropriate number in Japanese (5) and Mason was good to go.

Mason as Aizen:

Aizen as Aizen:

Not a bad likeness, neh?

The five on the back, which you can't see here, pretty much cinches it for most Bleach fans. But, the nice thing is that Mason already has the hair and the glasses, as a kind of gimme, so he was very easily recognizable. In fact, in the first few minutes at con, Mason got the reaction I was expecting. I was taking his picture with an Ichigo (there is always more than one) and a stranger came up (like they do at cons) and exclaims, "Oh, I get it! It's all been part of Aizen's plan since he was, what, ten?" I corrected, "Eleven, but basically yes." Aizen, since most of you probably don't know, is that villain who is always saying, "Ah, so you see, every moment of your life up to this point has been planned by me!"

So, that was kind of the highlight for Mason's cosplay, I think.

We went with Mason's friend Molly who went as Kyubey from Madoka Magica. I saw a number of other Kyubey's but Molly was the only one who had the actual magical girl contract and soul gems for people to have. Most of the people Molly asked knew enough about the anime NOT TO SIGN THE CONTRACT. But she found a few to play along and those that did were really, really charmed by the soul gems she handed out (which I think were Lego gems or possibly beads).

Molly as Kyubey:

Kyubey as Kyubey:

Since I wasn't in costume and was mostly playing "mom," I ended up going to more paneling than I normally would at Detour. I went to two panels which were different versions of "What You Should Be Watching." The first one was run by a guy I instantly mentally labeled as "Anime Hipster" because, while these two things should be mutually exclusive, this was a guy who experienced anime the way hipsters experience everything: ironically. So, you know, his recommendations were all super-obscure and kind of arty in a way that didn't appeal to me because I am a rube who does not appreciate the finer things in life and how awesome irony is when its very IRONIC. For the most part I watched his recommendations with a lot of head shaking.

However, I did write down a live-action show called Aoi Honoo/Blue Blaze which is about a manga artist student in the 1980s.

The other panel like this I attended I actually ended up writing down a couple of recommendations. This person still had things on her list that I wasn't fond of, but Mason noticed right away that one of my favorite anime of this last year, "Barakamon," was on her list.

Of hers, the one I thought I'd be most likely to watch is called Hamatora. Mason pretty much loved all of her recs, but I only wrote down this one and one other, Akatsuki no Yona/Yona of the Dawn.

Though I think Mason and I have agreed to try Hamatora first, just because the action in the clip she showed us looked super cool.

Otherwise, as mom, I spent a lot of time hanging out at the manga library station because that was our designated "meet up" spot, and that way the kids could come and go from there as they pleased. I brought along GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith, which I'd been reading, and mostly just sat on a bean bag chair on the floor and alternated between people watching and reading. Even so, the press of people really wore me out.

A good time was had however.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Since I have a lot to report about the con, I thought I should start with a quick plug for my new gig. I'm going to be doing a weekly book review for Bitter Empire. The introduction to the concept is up now: My Year of Speculative Fiction: An Introduction.

Check it out!

This does not mean, gentle readers, that I won't still be posting my thoughts about the books I'm reading over here. You're just going to get the un-edited, first impression, messy thinky-thoughts.

So, first drafts, really. :-)

Okay, so the con. Saturday, frankly, was a bit of a blur. It started early, because I had to get up and get home in order to take Mason to his swimming class. Then I picked up Mason's GF at her house and we all went to the con. If you saw my schedule, I was booked pretty solid. So, the idea was that with Rosemary there, Mason could enjoy wandering around the dealers' room, gaming, or panels with a friend. It worked out perfectly. She and he hung out together until 6 PM.

Mason stayed with me for the rest of the evening. It was meant to be a treat to get to stay overnight, but my schedule didn't quite allow for us to enjoy room service or any of the other fun bits of staying at a hotel (like cable!) But, that was okay.

Probably the only panel that day that was a true flop was the Wyrdsmiths: 20 Years. They'd scheduled us opposite the masquerade, so we had two audience members and one of those was Will Alexander who is a colleague and dear friend. So I ended up fetching Mason from the hotel room and we took Eleanor home.

Of the other panels, I don't remember much--not because I didn't enjoy them, but because they were LEGION. I will say, though, that probably the interview that Naomi ran with me when FAR BETTER than it had any right to. I'm not normally so Minnesotan that I'm uncomfortable talking about myself, BUT it's certainly easier when I have more confidence about my career, you know? I mean, I could point to the book that Rachel and I have out, but I hate disappointing anyone who might ask, "So when I can I see another science fiction novel, etc." However, the reaction I got when I suggested that I'm finally getting serious about writing some short novellas in the Garnet Lacey universe for Amazon self-publishing was... deeply gratifying (and humbling), let's just say.

Sunday was another sort of blur, because we had to get Mason home early. Parking at the hotel was AWFUL so I wanted to get him there and get back again before the spots were all taken. Turns out, I needn't to have rushed too much because I had another audience no-show for the "Otaku Dilemma" panel, but that was okay, because Adam Stemple and his daughter hung out with me and, if you don't know Adam from... well, Adam, you really should consider going to this year's Minicon just to see what a fantastically fun, bombastic personality he has (Adam is the musical guest of honor).

Then at the very, very end of the con I had an amazing conversation with Christopher Jones. You may recall that Christopher is the friend of mine who is an artist who has worked for both DC and Marvel. I visited his studio a couple of years ago after we had a fantastic panel at the CONvergence. Anyway, he asked me what happened: why I hadn't done anything with the comic book scripts he'd given me as models. And I was like, "Huh? I wrote a script! I gave it to another artist friend because I figured you were way too busy!" And, he gave me the stink eye and basically told me that he thought I'd just gone cold on him, as he'd been planning to help me (in whatever way he could) break in into comic book writing.

I was... yeah, totally blown away.



So... one of the many tasks I've given myself over the next week or so is to see what other scripts I can come up with.


So... yeah, most of the con was a blur. Because the last ten minutes were AMAZING. And you know, nothing may come of it, but it really, really moves me that someone is willing to help me... and has confidence in my ability to do something like this, that I normally would feel was so far out of my league as to be unattainable.

Con Report

Mar. 7th, 2015 09:19 am
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
My first panel was by far the best of the bunch yesterday. That one was, "Why Has No One Heard of Me, Dammit!?" and it was a good group--Michael Mirriam, Naomi Kritzer, Rachel Gold, and myself. (I provided links, in case YOU haven't heard of them.) Interestingly, we're all doing *something* right because just putting my fellow panelists names into Google, they all popped up right away. The joke answer we came up with, I wrote down, which is "complain and cats." The idea being that we're attractive when we're passionate and cats are always popular on the internet.

Other than that I mostly tried to argue against the sort of typical marketing advice, which is to "decide your brand and promote the [bleep] out of it." My feeling is that readers are smarter than marketers, and can see through the writer desperately writing about some subject and trying to slide in a non-advertising advertisement of their book and then the potential readers are very, very TURNED OFF. I mean, all we have those people on our feed, don't we? The ones always harping 'on message' or showing pictures of their book or slipping it into casual conversation in a way too obvious way? That's an instant turn off to me, anyway. Desperation is so not sexy.

But, it's the only thing people know to do.

So, we decided cats. Cats were a good option. The internet needs more cats

My other panel was my reading and I super-duper HATE doing readings (see above and why I am not more famous). I'd been hoping no one would show, but a bunch of people did.I am very self-conscious of my dyslexia when I read and I hate that no matter how much I practice, words ALWAYS trip me up. Plus, there are always words I use in my head that I never pronounce out loud and I always f*ck up words I know people know I'm mispronouncing. But, because I was reading from the book Rachel and I wrote, I had her come up and help me. We did some tag team scene reading, which was fun.

The last panel was the least structured. It was my FanFic 101 panel and... well, it was late at night, after parties had started, and we had one panelist whom I adored, but who was so fannish as to need a translator. We could have gone down the squee rabbit hole, but I resisted that in a foolish attempt to actually provide some "101" information, but... yeah, I probably should have let go and let goddess. :-)


Today's schedule is:

Marvel Phase 2, on to Phase 3
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 12:00 pm
Catch up on all of Marvel films from phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and X-man Days of Future Past. Marvel One-Shots: Agent Carter, All Hail the King, on TV with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter. (There will be spoilers for all listed above.) The end of phase 2 with Avengers: Age of Ultron and the start of phase 3: Ant-Man, Captain America 3, Doctor Strange, and the rest of phase 3.

With: Lyda Morehouse, Tony Artym, mod.; Aaron Grono, Bill Rod, Ruth Tjornhom

The Rise of Women Superheroes
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 01:00 pm
Let’s talk about some awesome female superheroes who have become breakout sensations in recent years! Why do we love them so much, and how can we get more?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Christopher Jones, mod.; Cynthia Booth, Catherine Lundoff, Chandra Reyer

What is Anime?
IV Hawk’s Ridge (Anime/YA) — Saturday 02:00 pm
What really is Anime? What’s the real difference between Anime and cartoons, and why do we classify them like that? Hear all the facts and argue it out yourself!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Bailey Humphries-Graff, Hojo Moriarty

Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 04:00 pm
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Mass Autographing
Room 419 (Krushenko’s) — Saturday 05:00 pm
The Author Guest of Honor and other interested authors sign their work.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Sammi Kat, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan, et al.

The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 08:00 pm
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers’ group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason

Hero Support: Sidekicks and Minions
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars) — Saturday 09:00 pm
How does your hero go about getting a really good sidekick or a really good minion? Who are some of your favorites in literature and other kinds of storytelling? Who is the hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Rick Gellman, mod.; P M F Johnson, Ozgur K. Sahin, Tyler Tork


Today, too, I will have Mason with me at the con, and we've invited along his friend Rosemary. That's going to make this morning's logistics interesting. But, we've made it to swimming and then it's just a matter of picking her up (reassuring her mundane parents that everything will BE OKAY), and then getting to the con. The kids are all old enough that they'll have their cell phones and free range. MarsCON is big enough, but not CONvergence out-of-control huge, so I'm very confident they'll have things to do and yet be very safe. If not, Mason has me (and, possibly more importantly, Anton) on speed-dial, so he'll be fine.

Should be a full, fun day. I'm looking forward to letting Mason really have his first true con experience. Though it would be nicer if Shawn felt well enough to hang out at the hotel with us. Because Mason and I are going to overnight and live the hotel highlife. There are very few perks to being a science fiction writer, but the occasional free hotel room is one of them that I think my whole family should get to enjoy. :-)

It's been a fun con so far. Fingers crossed!
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Seriously, these CONvergence people are good. I really rather adore waking up to have my schedule magically in my in-box. Here's today's:

Plaza 2
Anime Series: Year in Review
A yearly showcase of the past year's best anime series, presented by a group of anime fans who've watched and enjoyed them. Those looking to enter the anime fandom as well as those who've been otaku for years are welcome to attend. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Jessi Silver, Boris Smelov, Jo Thrace, Heather Deakman

Atrium 2
SF Writing Groups: The 2014 Scene
This annual (since 1986) get together of the Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers' Alliance helps science fiction/fantasy writing groups link with writers who are looking for a critique group. Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (mod), Lyda Morehouse, Tyler Tork

Atrium 6
Loki Can Rule Me Any Day
Loki is very popular, even though he wasn't the main character (or even necessarily a "good guy"). An exploration of side characters who have become fan favorites. Wolverine, Agent Coulson, Jayne, Connie Mk II - What makes us like them so much? Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Kamuran Paradis, Damarra Atkins, Todd Murray, Anne Lyle

Plaza 2
Which Supers Should Hook Up?
If Thor and Storm got together, they would have cute little thunderbabies. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Kenneth Konkol, Lathan Murrell, Samma Johnson (mod), Christopher Jones

So, a busy day, but all starting afternoon, which will be a nice thing.

Yesterday, I brought Mason along. He last minute decided to cosplay kid-Luffy, from One Piece. We spent much of the morning in search of the Straw Hat crew. Instead, we found a lot of really great cross/cosplay Marvel characters:

These ladies were really good (also traveling with a Thor and Tony Stark, though I only saw them later at the Marvel panel.) I was particularly enamored of Nicole Fury, as she had the perfect Wolverine claw mark scars visible under her eyepatch.

Lady Deadpool! Every con needs a Deadpool, why not a Lady Deadpool?

Fourth of July is Steve Rogers's birthday, so I wished this Stephanie Rogers a happy one and complimented her amazing 1940s style hair. (She defied my picture skills, though. Blurry here a little, but much worse when I tried to get her to pose with the two Peggys that were also at the Marvel panel.)

Another Cap (though, tbf, she might have been dressing as one of the traveling dance troupe.) Probably my favorite thing about a lot of the Captain American cosplayers is that they can embrace the 1940s aesthetic and be beautifully buxom and curvy.

There might have been a secret organization that was placing people in key positions at con, but I won't say who they were (*whispers*Hail, Hydra!*whispers*)

And, Old School Gambit, who isn't cross playing*, but come on! Look at this! It's perfect:

*today, according to [ profile] naomikritzer this guy often cross plays "Slave Girl Leia." Rumor has it he's coming as "Slave Boy Leo" today, so I'll be sure to try to catch a shot of him, if I can, because that sounds phenomenal.

Mason and I spent much of con wandering around looking at all the cool costumers and wandering around the dealer's room. He bought a new Munchkin pack (zombies this time) and I found a cell phone charm of Renji/Hihio Zabimaru chibi, and I can never, ever resist chibi Zabimaru. Sadly, my cell phone does not have the technology to accommodate a charm. Seriously. It's not a smart phone, so I have no case to which I can hook such things. But, it was cheap and will fit my keyring just the same.

The Marvel Roundup panel was phenomenal. I had great fellow panelists and despite my voice, I managed to squee and maybe even make a few points of interest here and there. With any luck, you'll be able to judge for yourself. One of the panelists, Shaun Duke, is (among other things) a podcaster and he recorded us for his Hugo Award-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. If our panel gets posted there, I'll send along a direct link. It was probably the most high energy panel I've had so far, so I would think it would make a fantastic podcast.

Then there was more wandering, and Mason finally caught up with some of his crew:

Here's Mason with Zoro (green-hair) and Nami (orange-hair):

And in a time paradox, an older Luffy!

My final panel was "Cyberpunk 101," which went fairly well. Admittedly, my energy was starting to flag. Probably the most interesting part of the panel for me was the fact that one of my fellow panelists was a light side hacker. He was an honest-to-goodness Mouse, a phone freak from the 1980s. (And yes, he let us touch his hem.) I could have listened to his stories for the full hour.

Instead, we talked about a lot of different aspects of cyberpunk and, once again, the audience had some really amazing, mind-blowing questions and thoughts about the future of cyberpunk. Because the question kept coming up, "If we're living in a world already predicted, where we're saturated with technology, how do you write beyond that point? Or, maybe more importantly, is it necessary to?"

And I don't know. People often ask me if I'll ever return to the AngeLINK universe and I'm hesitant. I love the characters, but the world is getting harder and harder to reach back for because it's become a kind of AU where Facebook and Tumblr and Google glasses never happened.

The point was also made that one of the things cyberpunk spoke to was the fears of the day, "What if we become so dependent on our technology that we're no longer human?" That's not really the thing we worry about these days. We worry about the environment. We *do* still worry about corporations taking over, but a lot of what we feared has already come to pass. I mean, corporations as people? Pretty sure that was warned about in any number of early cyberpunk novels.

Also, as our resident hacker pointed out, it's actually a bit harder to by-pass The Man. Technology has outpaced some simple phone hacks. It's harder to break-in and it's much, MUCH harder to escape without leaving a trace.

Our fiction has also become a lot darker. No one believes any more that taking out one corporation/Power That Be will solve all the problems... without causing others. The revolution is murky and complicated and deeply underfunded...

It was a good panel, but in comparison to the squee fest of the Marvel Roundup it felt far lower key. But maybe that was because it was "meatier."


Jul. 4th, 2014 08:41 am
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I don't have a smart phone, so I can't live tweet everything as it goes down at CONvergence, but I thought I would post today's schedule:


12:30pm – 1:30pm
Atrium 6
Marvel Film Roundup
Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have been out, and Agents of SHIELD, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Defenders, and Ant Man are on the horizon. How do they all compare? What do you want to see next? Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Allyson Cygan, Shaun Duke, John Seavey,

5:00pm – 6:00pm
Atrium 7
Cyberpunk 101
Discuss the cyberpunk genre in books, film, and games; from Neuromancer and Snow Crash to Deus Ex and The Matrix. Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Lyda Morehouse, Spencer Kennedy, Christoforo Pasquarette

If you were to use the nice app that shows you my schedule, however, you'd see me signed-up (?) or otherwise listed on "Ask a Librarian" and "10 Must-See Anime Movies." I'm not officially listed in the program as on those, however, so I'm not sure why they're showing up in my schedule. After last night I'm just has happy not to be on a panel with anime experts, but I'm kind of bummed not to be on the librarian panel. I'm NOT a librarian, but I work at a library and I thought it would be nice to let some interested parties know that you don't have to have a library degree to work with books.

So, about yesterday, let's see... parking was its usual nightmare. I did manage to get a spot in the old Sofiteil lot (it's now a Radisson, maybe?) At any rate, I booked it from there to my first panel about young adult novels and the dystopia genre. I tried to get a moderator rustled up from the people who were there, and I would have taken point myself, but for my voice. But, ultimately, the last person to walk in was the one we "volunteered." She did a fine job, though there was at least one panelist who maybe got three words in. If I'd learned the blue-haired young panelist's name earlier (Kethry), I would have jumped in (like I do) not just for myself, but to ask her opinion as well. Probably my favorite moment of that panel, however, was when a woman in the audience posed a fascinating sort of question comment about how it seems that a lot of the "revolutions" that happen in many of the current dystopia novels actually seem subversively conservative or reactionary. I had one of those "mind = blown" moments, but without my voice I couldn't catch hold of that thread and really explore it. Ultimately, I think the panel was good, but it was one of those that could have been better.

I ended up not going to the panel "Female Superhero Films: Why Can't We Have One?" because I wasn't listed in the actual program. I have plenty of panels otherwise, so it seemed wisest to stay off it. I mean, as you see above, I have a bunch other panels that seemed to have mysteriously attached themselves to my schedule. I'm going to treat that as some kind of glitch, especially since none of these "extra" panels are printed on the back of my badge, which comes directly from the programming/green room.

So, since I had no panel to scurry off to after the YA one, I hung out with my friend [ profile] seanmmurphy. We connected up with [ profile] matociquala and Sigrid Ellis at the bar. Once we were there we ran into [ profile] haddayr and Adam Stemple (with his kids in tow)... so that was sort of a classic con moment. I bonded with Sigrid because she'd just had throat surgery, so neither one of us could talk much. Later in the hall I ran into [ profile] naomikritzer and [ profile] jiawen.

My final panel was "Into to Anime" but everyone there at the panel already knew a lot about anime. As I later told [ profile] jiawen, it wasn't so much as an introduction as a 'hook-up.' But, I think there are only three anime panels in the whole con, so all the fans are going to all of them.

Anyway, today I'm going with Mason, who is dressed as kid Luffy. He looks adorable. I'm going to take a picture to post tomorrow. Okay, I have to run get dressed.
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Last night was CONvergence's 'opening night.' Traditionally, there's a Guests of Honor/Former Guests of Honor mixer held on Wednesday night to kick everything off. Eleanor Arnason (GoH 2001) and I (GoH 2012) went together.

I managed to loose my voice yesterday afternoon, so I squeaked a lot, and pretty much everyone who heard me gave me advice about how to conserve it/help it. (All of which I intend to take.)

The party itself was surprisingly fun.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised, the CONvergence people are always awesome and know how to throw a good party. It's more that as a visiting artist/writing professional in a room of one's colleagues, sometimes the atmosphere can be kind of... well, daunting. You look around the room and you think, "Wow, all these writers/artists/media stars..." and your next thought is often, "What am I doing here? Compared to them, I'm nobody."

Like actors, writers are often seen as 'only as good as their current project' (at least among ourselves.) This, I've found is far less true out in the Real World. If you've written and published once, for most people, you're always a professional writer. The latter makes far more sense than the former. A book, once published, is always there for people to see. Regardless, a fellow author is likely to ask, "What are you working on now?" And, when the answer is, "Oh, um... nothing official," it can make for a very awkward night.

For whatever reason, last night, I didn't feel any of that. I saw a room full of people, many of them friends I hadn't seen in a while, and then I found the corner of anime fans and we squeed about the fact that the newest season of Free! started.

Seemed like an auspicious start. Fingers crossed that the rest of the con goes as well.

If you're attending con this year, here's a lovely pointer to my CONvergence schedule:

You can also get from there to the main programming schedule. CONvergence is amazing because they also have this whole 'app' thing figured out. You can download any number of amazing things to keep track of your con and follow along with live tweets and everything. (Didn't I say? These CONvergence people are GOOD!)

As you can see if you go to my schedule, I'm going to be hopping this con. Today, I have THREE Panels:

5:00 - 6:00 PM, Edina
The huge new thing - and they're all becoming movies now! Discuss the Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, Legend, Mazerunner, and more. Panelists: Lyda Morehouse, Hilary Moon Murphy, Kethry Burke-Scovill, Christine Norris, Pete Hautman

7:00 - 8:00 PM, Edina
Where are the Black Widow / Wonder Woman / etc. movies? Panelists: Shawn van Briesen, Joan Sullivan, Kelly Pesola, Jonathan Palmer*

(*I'm listed on my own schedule as being on this, but I'm not in the program. I'll show up and hope they're feeling generous and let me on. Perhaps I can wow them by the fact I've read the new Black Widow title.)

8:30 - 9:30 PM, Plaza 2
Intrigued by anime, but don't know where to start? This is the panel for you. Come learn the lingo, the classics for a strong anime foundation, and how to avoid accidentally showing your children hentai. Panelists: Jessi Silver, Lyda Morehouse, Heather Deakman, Damarra Atkins

I suspect I'm on the last panel intentionally as a newbie. Since I'm not sure I've watched all the anime classics. My introduction to anime was pure accident (Starblazers was on my TV at 6 am when I was 12 or so--I didn't even know it was, as we called it then, "Japanimation" until someone typed on a screen and the characters weren't familiar to me) and I've been feeling my way through the genre, ever since... but I supposed that's a good counterpoint to the methodical, careful researcher.
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Just a head's up, I agreed to participate (as Tate) in the Writing Process Blog Tour next week. So, if you're interested in what I'm currently up to and how I do things, you can check that out. I'll be sure to link the post when it goes live, here. If you want to see what a previous one was like, here's the guy who tagged me, Conrad Zero:

Otherwise, my weekend was made crazier by having forgotten that this weekend was Anime Detour. I mostly attended Saturday, though I did drop by for a little bit on Sunday morning. Mostly, I wandered the halls admiring costumes and buying too much stuff in the dealer's room. I have a few more photos I can share.

Here's Mason in the DeathNote/Clue x-over tee-shirt I bought him. Being the true and awesome nerd I raised him to be, Mason said, "Well, it really should say 'Mr. Boddy' instead of Colonel Mustard," but, we both agreed that it's still funny.

I only took one picture of a cosplayer on Sunday, but I just HAD to get this guy because he's Sigfried from Soul Calibur, and my nephew Jonathan and I wasted HOURS of our lives playing that years and years ago (and now there's an iPad version of it, so Mason and I have played it too.)

Otherwise, my con highlights were hanging out with one of the con's guests of honor, Christopher Jones at diner on Saturday night. We had a great time talking, but we were hampered from our usual mutual Marvel squee by the fact that I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN CAPTAIN AMERICA YET. (Though plans are in the works. I may be hitting a matinee on Tuesday with my usual Marvel crowd.)

Still, that was fun. A lot of the con, for me, was opportunities missed. Because I was Moon-Mooning, I missed out on a big-screen showing of "BLEACH THE MOVIE: Hellverse." I also didn't realize that one of the GoH's was a Dai Satō, a guy who worked on Samurai Champloo, and who, in point of fact, was a major contributor to some of my all-time favorite episodes. I never even heard him speak. The only thing I can say is that I breathed the same air as he did.

*head desk*

But, the other big thing we did this weekend, was get Mason to his UMTYMP test on Saturday. Mason was very nervous (for good reason--800 people apply, only 50 get in.) He decided he would feel best if he wore one of my ties and a white button down shirt. He looked super-sharp. And, he did his best. The testers are warned that they will encounter questions they'll have to guess at, and he said he'd had to guess a fair amount. But, I'm really proud of him for trying. I'll keep my fingers crossed until the letter arrives in May to let us know if he's been accepted. If we don't get in this year, he can try again next year (and up to seventh grade, I believe. So he has two more shots.)

Today I spent the day working on my next installment for Precinct 13's sequel, despite the depressing statistic (which I should never have checked!!) that half as many people read the second installment as did the first... so, my take away? I started out strong and then sucked it up. *sigh* Story of my life. Ironically, I posted the last of my Harry Potter/Bleach x-over this weekend and got more people to read that in a day than read the second installment of the sequel so far, since last week....


This is why people get discouraged with original fiction.

Anyway, it's a good discipline to have to write a 2,000+ word installment every week, though. That's much more progress than I was making before, which was zero. So good may yet come out of this experiment.
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My Sunday was good, though I got really exhausted by the end of it.  Only later did I realize that my problem was that I was over-caffeinated and under-fed.  I’d been trying to go on the cheap, as one does on the last day of the con, and, every time I went to get food, I’d managed to arrive at the con suite only in time to find the one lone carrot and the last scrapings of dip.

So, I was kind of… zombie-like when I finally got home at 5:00 pm.  It was only after dinner perked me up that I realized, “Oh, d’uh.  Food.  That would have helped.”

A rookie mistake from a long-time con goer like me—for shame!

I had two panels on Sunday, “Timing and Pacing” (which could have been boring, but was actually, thanks to the amazing chemistry between the panelists, my best panel all con), and “Dull, Realistic Characters” (which, unfortunately, lived up to its name.)

The concept behind “Dull, Realistic Characters” could have been an interesting one.  The idea proposed boiled down to: in reality, in a crisis, the best people to have on your team are the cool-headed, pragmatic ones.  How do you write someone like that in a way that they don’t come off as dull and uninteresting?

You write them well, is the answer, of course.

I’d wanted to be on the panel to argue the premise.  That those characters are dull.  Or that you can’t show reality in a riveting way, ala, say, a movie like “Apollo 13,” which while it may have had some inaccuracies, basically portrayed real people in a real crisis acting calmly—and yet was an utterly heart-pounding and mesmerizing film.

We ended up instead, rather boringly, meandering around the subject.

Which is a shame, because there’s something kind of intriguing about this that we never got to—like, why is it that some people can write about what they had for breakfast and you think, “Wow, what a fascinating insight into their lives!” and other people do the same thing, only in a different way, somehow, and you think, “OH FOR GOD SAKE GET OFF MY FEED, YOU DULLARD!” and start hunting around for the “hide” button.

Because it’s true.  I was once in a writers’ group with Terry Garey who wrote this whole scene about canning tomatoes.  It should have been dull, dull, DULL, but it wasn’t.  It was amazing.  I don’t know if it was because I learned some esoteric bit of canning lore from it, or if there was a pivotal character moment that was subtly woven into the narrative, or if was just a kind of ‘cult of personality’ that can happen when someone just has a really good writing voice.

On the other side, I’ve read fight scenes where people are spewing buckets of blood and I think… f*ck, when is this OVER? Because it was just THAT dull.

To me, that’s a more interesting question.  How does that work?  What are the mechanics of voice?  Does adding arcane knowledge (expertise about a certain subject) make dull stuff interesting, too?  What are the other ways you can make narrative sparkle?

That could have been a panel worth being on.  Alas, that was not the panel I was on.

Ah well. Speaking of questions unanswered, sometimes panelists click and sometimes they don’t.  This was one of those where I felt like any energy I injected into the conversation got sucked into the great void.  It happens sometimes.  It happens sometimes with really fascinating panelists.

But otherwise, I had a great time catching up with [ profile] jiawen, [ profile] haddayr, and [ profile] naomikritzer.

Oh, the only other thing I wanted to note… when Mason and I came into MarsCON on Saturday, I looked around the little lounge area by the door for one of our tribe (which is to say the nerdest looking person) to ask for directions to registration.  I go up this older gentleman in a top hat and I say, “Excuse me, but do you know where registration is?”  Some other guy behind us answers me, and off we go.  It was only later, when I was leaving the dealers room and I heard someone yell out, “Last call for autographs from Dr. Demento,” and I turned, curious to see what Dr. Demento looked like, did I realize… yep, I’d asked Dr. Demento for directions to registration.

You gotta love cons.

Oh, and here's a picture goinked from Baron Dave Romm's Facebook page  (photo credit to him!) of me on the "Getting into the Mind of a Fanatic" panel on Saturday:

Could be subtitled: "Author at Work."  (I look very engaged, don't I?)  My folks know... I get kind of a buzz from "smart talk" which is why I enjoy cons and panels so much.

Oh, the only other fun take away from MarsCON was a line from one of the Guest of Honor this year, Esther Friesner, on a panel about fostering imagination, in which she said, "I have a special relationship with 'What If?'" which struck me as both insightful and kind of funny--because, of course, my mind started writing the slash with "What If?"

Because I'm a dork.

Oh, and speaking of that, I spread word of the cult of "Moon-Moon" all weekend, as well as tried to convince everyone I met that they really needed to watch "Free!" aka the gay swimming anime.

Oops, one last thing!  My fellow Wyrdsmith, Adam Stemple, is interviewed on our blog today.  Go check it out!
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Saturday morning Mason has swimming lessons, so, rather than negotiate the back and forth, he came with me to MarsCON.  I stopped by registration for my badge and bought Mason a day pass.

This was Mason's first ever con.  I thought for sure he'd hook up with his friend Molly and that'd be the last I'd see of him, but he ended up sitting in the back of the panel room, which was Kruschenko's, so there were comfy chairs in a kind of antechamber.  So Mason didn't even have to listen to us drone on about "Getting into the Mind of a Fanatic."  Actually, the panel was pretty good, though there were a lot of panelists and we veered into the NAZI analogy, despite [ profile] naomikritzer's valiant attempts to keep everyone on track.

The rest of the con was me showing Mason what a con is like.  Mason, being Mason, adored the demonstrations.  We watched a Korean sword martial art and we learned the difference between a Korean sword and a Japanese katana.  But, Mason and I were pretty excited to talk to the Sa Ba Nim of that dojon because, apparently, you get to learn sword at any belt.  We tried to win a sword, but, alas, we didn't get the prize.  I did, however, get to cut paper with a bokken.  That rocked.

Mason and I tried to go into the game room, but the rules of said game room kind of baffle me.  Like, it's not clear how one starts a game.  I presume that one can just sit at a table and open a game and people will join you, but every time we went in there were no open tables.  It was also unclear how one jumps in to a pre-running game, or even if one can.

So, we took some jelly beans and left.

Mason really loved the prop room, and if the picture ever makes its way through the aether fem my ridiculously un-smart phone I'll be posting a shot I took of Mason standing next to a very, very realistic looking Dalek.  Mason also really loved all of Umbridge's proclamations/rules from Harry Potter... and all of the Harry Potter props, actually.

Then when we came out of there the SCA people were doing a demo of their battles and Mason tried to watch that, but the SCA people were very... postalizing and kept wanting to TELL us things about their organization, armor, etc.  Mason just wanted to see the bashing of heads.

After that we just kind of killed time waiting for the Anime room party to start.  When it did, they'd started watching Wolf Children, which I adored.  Mason and I sat on the floor and ate girl scout cookies and commented along with everyone else.  This might be the moment that Mason realized that the world is filled with nerdy otaku JUST LIKE HIMSELF, because he was beaming through the film, his ears all perked up, like he finally felt, as the heroine of Wolf Children says, "like he found his pack."

Oh, and my furry friends?  YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS.  It will make you cry.  It made Mason and I cry, but damn it, I think it would be even more powerful for anyone in the furry fandom.  The basic message is not only 'you need to accept who you are," but also, "let your children be what they are."  And, bam! Right in the FEELS, if you know what I mean.

Also, I have to confess that they had an Anime quiz and Mason and I got THE ONE BLEACH QUESTION...


Mason says he knew the answer but didn't want to speak up.  Meanwhile, I wrote down the year that the Bleach Anime came out wrong.  I remembered it had a "4" in it, but didn't realize it was 2004 (I might have put down 1994).


I may have to leave the fandom in shame....

So, today I'm off to go back to the con by myself.  I think I'm going to miss having Mason there.  He's a good companion for these things.  He and I have already agreed that he'll come along for at least one day for the rest of these.... and I couldn't be more proud.  Leap, my little wolf child!  Leap!
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It's after twelve (noon) and I'm home from CONvergence. I had my Sandman panel this morning. It went better than expected--MUCH better. In fact, I would say it was pretty darned good. I'm not sure there's a whole lot left to be said about Sandman, but we talked about graphic media in general, too. Though I wasn't entirely firing on all cylinders, I am 100% more interesting at 9:30 in the morning than I am at 9:30 at night.

As I was leaving I ran into my publisher/editor at Dybukk Press, Tim Lieder, who was signing with Dana Baird and Michael Mirriam, so I stayed a while and tried to entice people over to the table to buy books from them.

Of course, I brought my camera today, but most people were out of costume as the majority of people were checking-out and heading home. So, I didn't even take a single picture. I also entirely skipped the dealer's room this year, partly because last year it was sooooo crowded, but also because I was operating on a budget of $0 and there's always a lot of temptation in the dealer's room.

I would say it was a good con. It's impossible to top last year, but being a GoH is a once in a lifetime experience, so it's really not fair to compare.

I will say that listening in on the villain panel yesterday made me think I might like to revisit (and finish!) my superhero novel/novella. Villains are fun, is all I'm saying, and Dr. Doom gets no respect.

Today is another stupid-hot day. I probably should have contrived to spend the rest of the day inside the air-conditioned hotel, but we've compromised by setting the sprinkler up in the back yard and running through it a few times. Mason is still back there with some friends and our supply of water guns. So good times are being had. I'm tired, but much, MUCH happier than yesterday.
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It's after midnight again, and I'm home from CONvergence. I attended the guerrilla slash panel, which was severely hampered by the fact that they did, in point of fact, have to occupy a space by force. They moved the crowd they'd gathered in the North Tower's atrium into a space that used to be a coffee shop, but was just a big empty room. There were no chairs, tables, microphones or any of that, so the acoustics were horrible. I did manage to learn about some 'meta' trends that are happening in various fandoms. I hadn't heard of alpha/beta/omega, for instance. The other interesting thing that was brought up was that apparently there's been a lot of marriage fics across fandoms, and it was speculated that it had a lot to do with the rising of marriage equality.

I actually left the panel before it was finished, however, because midnight slash panels always seem to devolve into semi-drunken babbling squee that I have no hope of following because people are shouting out shows I don't watch and Anime I've never heard of and crying about OTPs I don't know.

But, today was a weird day for me in general. I woke up in a crabby-ass mood and it never entirely improved. I spent most of the day at home, in fact, away from the convention, trying--unsuccessfully--to write. But, eventually, I decided I wanted to go back if for no other reason than I might as well be grumpy surrounded by fabulous cosplay. And, CONvergence always has amazing cosplay, particularly on Saturday, since it's the night of the masquerade. It think the most astounding (and not necessarily in a GOOD way) costume I saw was the guy who was crawling around convention dressed as the Human Centipede (if you don't know it, DON'T GOOGLE IT. There are things that can not be unseen!)

I heard rumors of Renji cosplayers, but only saw the one Urahara.

I went to listen to the one-on-one with Charlie Jane Anders, who I first met at a WisCON years ago. She's delightful and entertaining as fuck, and the interview was being done by [ profile] haddayr so the whole thing could have been a comedy routine (with heart and soul.) I initially followed Haddayr and Charlie to the "Space Lounge" but they hadn't opened yet, and I still wasn't in the right mood for crowds so I left them to do the party circuit without me. Instead, [ profile] naomikritzer and I hung out and compared con notes.

I suspect I could call the day a win, but I'm not sure, given my in ability to shake the grumps.

Tomorrow, I have my final panel of the con, "Neil Gaiman's Sandman," which I'm not entirely looking forward to. I loved the comic books (which I read as comic books, rather than as collected graphic novels for the most part), but I'm not a squeeing Gaiman fangrrl. I suspect the other panelists will be. If I were more organized, I'd be tempted to bring along my signed copy -- signed for Shawn, actually -- of the Arabian Nights Sandman stand alone issue and tell the story of how Shawn, who was working at The Book House in Dinkytown at the time sold Neil the full several volume set of Arabian Nights and had it shipped to his-then home in London. But, that's really the whole story, so perhaps not. More likely, I'll tell about how Gaiman's Morningstar inspired my own.
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I had one panel today, at 8:30 at night, which may not seem like a "late night panel" to you folks, but 8:30 PM skirts the edges of my bedtime. I'm an unrepentant lark, my friends. I'm often in bed by 8:00 pm. Thus, perhaps, needless to say, this was not my best panel of the con so far. It was called, "They Came from Fandom..." and it was ostensibly about how some of us professional writers started out as fans (or, as in my case, re-embraced fandom AFTER going pro.)

What it sort of became was Fandom 101, aka "Back in the late Jurassic, before the Internet, when the word 'fandom' meant community, not genre...."

That was a fine topic, but I didn't feel I had a lot to contribute to the discussion. In all honesty, even if we had stayed on topic, I'm not sure what I would have had to say about the subject. I mean, in some ways, it seems like it ought to be a gimme, as in: if you don't love SF, what the f*ck makes you think you can write it? What is strange to me is that, apparently, there are SF/F writers out there who are somehow NOT fans.

I guess the thing is that "fan" is described differently these days. But, back in the late Jurassic, it kind of just meant you read the stuff and liked it. I didn't really become active in the con scene until I was starting to pursue a career as a writer, so in some ways I didn't come from the kind of FANDOM that some of the panelist were talking about. I did write fanfic, but, back in the late Jurassic, there wasn't an internet for me to post it to, so all my Anne McCaffery and Katherine Kurtz fanfic stayed in the notebooks they were handwritten into. I also really remember being counseled not to act too fannish on panels (specifically, I got the whole "dress for the job you want" lecture, with the implication that if you showed up to con cosplaying, you weren't serious about being a writer.)

I tried to talk about this a little on the panel, because even though the Minneapolis/St. Paul fan community is very accepting of fannish pros, I'm not sure it's honest to say that you get taken as seriously sitting on a panel at Anime Detour in your shinigami costume as you do dressed in corporate drag. In fact, I felt a wave of 'and you are...?' from my fellow panelist when I came and sat down next to him at Detour, because I was full-on cosplaying. Despite 15 books in print, the book (panelist) really is still judged by the cover (costume).

Which was why, for the most part, Detour was a much more freeing, fun experience for me. I'm not in costume at all this weekend, nor will I be. Because at this con, I'm a pro, not a fan.

This was also one of those panels that suffered from CONvergence's policy of not always naming a moderator. We ended up letting the person who volunteered for the job have it, and so far, in my experience, that's often the LAST PERSON WHO SHOULD HAVE THE JOB. The volunteer moderator did a pretty good job of asking questions, but she was willing to let the topic meander and I was just not up to the task of herding cats (which I might have been if I had something to say, but I really didn't feel like I did.)

So, it was kind of meh.

At one point, one of the panelists brought up the idea of the permeability of the membrane... as in, how easy is it to pass between pro and fan? I thought this was an interesting concept, but we never really explored it.

I'm bummed because it was another all-star cast. I almost always love being on panels with Emma Bull. Catherine Lundoff is a bright, interesting woman who is always a pleasure to talk to. Patrick Neilson Hayden is, of course, a giant in the field, being, as he is, a senior editor at Tor Books, but also a long time fan. Joan Marie Verba likewise is often a great panelist, but for whatever reason, none of us entirely clicked.

For myself, I blame the hour. If the panel had happened when I arrived at the con at 1:00 pm, it would have been smashing, because I would have been at my peak.

Probably the best panel was the accidental Marvel Movie panel that happened when I had dinner with [ profile] naomikritzer, Will Alexander, and [ profile] seanmmurphy, which wasn't a panel at all, but a bunch of us getting wound up and fannish about all the latest films and comparing them to the comic book canon.

I attended a lot of panels, but I probably should have gone to Theatre Nippon. I'm probably not going to catch any anime movies this con because I'm planning to skip tomorrow. I'll try to do a write up of the panels I attended because I did actually take a few notes on thoughts I had, but it's like 1:30 in the morning and my brain has stopped "braining" as the kids might say....
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Wow, that registration line, huh?

Holy cow!

I was one of the lucky ones, as a panel participant and a former GoH, I got to stand in the "expedited" line. This meant I only waited a half hour to get badged. I last heard that the going rate for regular con attendees (of which, btw, this year hit 7,000) was FOUR HOURS. I saw volunteers running up and down along the lines making sure people had cool water and snacks if they needed one, because while I was waiting someone fainted... at least I presume so from the term "medical emergency."

I'm not sure why the wait was so long. The badges weren't pre-printed which may have been part of it. I think, perhaps, too, that the number of people who turned up on the 4th of July was unexpected. It's possible that the concom didn't quite anticipate the logistics of lots and lots of people with the day off work (and likely to want to register today rather than tomorrow, when they very likely have to go back to work...) I'm not sure CONvergence has actually ever started on the 4th before.

I should say that I think the volunteers and staff were working overtime to make things right. It's just that everyone showed up kind of at once, which is unusual. Mostly people trickle in over the day. But, I came right about when the con started and there were already lines.

But, the nice thing about standing in line for a while is that you see a lot of people passing by. I got a chance to hang out with [ profile] jiawen and catch up a little with her. I chatted with Aaron Vander Giessen I also got to see Sigid Ellis for a few moments. Had enough time to start a feud with Birdchick Sharon Stiteler, and get to my first panel... which I had honestly not been looking forward to. I'd been making faces in the hallway about the dumbness of the title: "Books I Hate That Everyone Else Loves." I was expecting my contribution to go like this: "Lord of the Rings. Never finished it. Thought it was dull, dull, dull" cue: angry fan mob, the end.

But I'd forgotten how wonderful my fellow panelists were. Will Alexander is always a treat as is David Schwartz. So, we managed to make the panel fun (and I hope) interesting. Probably the best moment was when one of the panelists (whom I shall not name to protect his or her livelihood) mentioned that he or she disliked AMERICAN GODS. After I high-fived them, I noticed a DEADLY silence in the audience. You dare! The sacred Neil Gaiman may not be dissed! (Never mind that earlier someone in the audience admitted to hating on LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by Ursula LeGuin.) I really actually thought that the audience might turn on us at that point. We had to quick make a joke and get back to books by other people that had failed us.

We never managed to actually discuss, more than in passing, what makes a book get on this list. I think Will Alexander brought up the idea that often books that are "hated" were once loved, but they turned some unforgivable corner. The author made us feel manipulated (as in ENDER'S GAME) or otherwise betrayed the contract with the reader (Sheri S. Tepper's FAMILY TREE). We also talked a lot about books we loved when we were twelve that horrified us when we returned to them as experienced, better informed readers (Anne McCaffery's DRAGONRIDER OF PERN) or books that turned us off with repulsive, unredeemed characters (Stephen R. Donaldson's LORD FOUL'S BANE.) I also confessed to bouncing off the first Harry Potter book because it had read too much like wish fulfillment to me. That lead to books that everyone loved (ie were bestsellers) that we found sort of mundanely or even poorly written, (cue the usual suspects, ala Stephen King).

I'm not sure the discussion was deep, but it was interesting. People bounce off books for lots of reasons. We even briefly discussed the fact that some books don't work for us the first time, but we find we can read when we're in the "right mood" for them.

Also... in breaking news, a surprising amount of classics don't work for SF/F people. (I actually long knew this. I got an English major, after all, and we read no SF/F, despite the fact we could have read Frankenstein or anything by HG Wells.)

I then followed Dave and Will to the programming participant's gathering in the bar, but I had to bail early tonight because last year we missed fireworks because I was a GoH and didn't quite get the message from my family that THIS WAS IMPORTANT, and thus, partied, while my son sobbed, which made me a VERY BAD PARENT. Thus, this year, I promised a dozen times that I would NOT miss this. In fact, we're going to head out super-early to get a good seat. So I'll be leaving in about a half hour.

Anyway, I'm hopeful that the con will be a good one this year. It's shaping up well so far.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I'd planned to post the last couple photos from Detour tomorrow, but I think I'll put them up today with the thought that tomorrow, I will attempt to deconstruct my con experience. Probably the funniest thing that happened today was when I was blearily standing in line for coffee in full Renji/shinigami regalia, I got a: "Finally, a Renji cosplayer!" and a high-five.

Here's me an a Ichigo (in bankai, obviously):
last of con 005

last of con 006

A very perfect little Toshiro (with a grumpy expression even, whom I ran after yelling, "Taicho! Taicho!")"
last of con 001

I also had a person stop and ask for a picture of ME, which FLOORED me. I think the lesson here is, the costume makes the man (not the tattoos.) My only other final thought is that I think I may start recommending to my fellow fic writers that they consider cosplaying in their universe at least one time. I learned a lot about walking in tabi and sandals as well as the excitement that is stairs and hakama (and mine were fake!) and ZOMG WTF escelators and hakama....

Interestingly, as I was telling [ profile] empty_mirrors on email, I'd seen a guy at the Obon festival who was demonstrating an Aikido sword form who did this THING with his hakama, where he'd take a fist full of the material near his thigh and jerk it aside before going into seiza or shifting into stance, and I thought, that's odd. Is that part of the form? Now I think it must be. I found I natrually did a very similar thing when faced with shifting in hakama. This gave me a wierd sort of insight into daily life/walking around. Also, wearing my hair up with the headband/bandana, which is very much a Renji THING was interesting, physically, too. When I was feeling kind of wiped (not hungover because I very, very rarely drink at cons), it felt really comforting. Like a brain hug. I wonder if that (and concealing the balding/tattoos) is another reason why the character might consider wearing it, you know?

Interesting stuff all around. Will talk about panels and people interactions tomorrow.

Now... a nap.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
My very last panel at MarsCON was "Good Blog, Bad Blog," which I signed up to be a part because I really, really wanted to be on a panel with [ profile] haddayr and [ profile] naomikritzer, but also because I feel sometimes like I FAIL Blogging 101.

And, yeah, that was pretty much confirmed.

I do all the things wrong. I'm boring, self-indulgent, and write when I don't really have anything to say. I don't link to anything interesting. I talk about the cute things my cat does and the goofy stuff my kid says. I don't drive people to my products with my witty repartie (though at least I don't talk ONLY about my books, which is apparently even a bigger sin than being boring--probably because it's boring AND narcassitic.)

So you can stop reading at any point now. I'm okay with that.

Thing is, I decided some time ago that when I TRY to do all that stuff you're supposed to do, blogging becomes this huge chore (and we did make that point too, so I *am* doing a few things right in my own weird way.) This is actually why I stopped posting as much on my Tate Hallaway blog and at Wyrdsmiths. I started feeling like I had to be clever there in a way that I don't feel like I have to here--because everyone has supposedly fled this platform years ago and I feel much more like I'm in a safe space among friends who already know how boring I am. I actually told my publicist at Penguin that guest blogs are really hard for me for this reason and that, if possible, I'd rather participate only in interviews. (Hmmmm, maybe that's why Penguin dumped me.) But, I really do SUCK when I try/feel compelled to write the pithy non-promotional, promotional blog. The funny/ironic part of all this is that IN-PERSON, I have no problem walking that line. "Just be yourself!" my PR person will bubble, perhaps not realizing that when I'm not at a con I REALLY AM THIS BORNG. As an extrovert, I can do all this stuff face-to-face, but trying to distill my dorky charm into a post...? Nope, can't do it.

And now I'll be thinking about all this every time I sit down to write a blog!!

But, the rest of the con was pretty good. I will admit I also started off on the wrong foot on my very first panel because it was called "Gender Limitations in SF/F" and I read the panel description and my knee-jerk reaction was, "WTF? Why are we still talking about this??" And THEN when I got there I realized that the only man on the panel was the MODERATOR. And I thought, "WTF? Why are we still dealing with THIS?" and the first thing out of my mouth during the introductions was a far too snarky, "Well, I think that whatever the rest of us think, we should simply defer to the male moderator," which I think MIGHT HAVE BEEN JUST A TINSY-WEENSY BIT AWKWARD.

It certainly wasn't the most constructive way to start off.

However, to the moderator's credit and the rest of the panelists, they managed to pull the panel out of the nosedive I sent it spiralling into and, ultimately, I think, we had a good discussion. But, yeah, I was an ass. I think, later, when I saw the moderator dude at the "Women in Comicbook Fandom" panel, he was really scared and nervous to see me there. That panel, however, was dominated by the wonderful Christopher Jones and I who mostly did what we did on the Avenger's Panel at CONvergence last year, which was to scream excitedly to one another about our Marvel fannishness. We talked more about DC Comics at this panel, though, and I had to be quiet because I really haven't read a DC title since junior high school (1979.) And DC has done a lot of damage to its female fanbase. So I shut up and listened, which is often a good thing for me to practice doing on a panel.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't draw out Rebecca Marjesdatter a bit more on the Comic's panel, though because she, I think, represents where female fandom is going to stream into Marvel. She admitted in her intro that she's NEW to comics and that she came in via the Avenger's movie, partly to understand some of the referrences in Avengers fic. I noted that I've acted as a gateway to some friends who see all of comicbook canon and wonder where the hell to start if they want to get any sense of the rich history of what led up to the Marvel movies.

But maybe there wasn't much more to say to that, though I thought it was a fascinating entryway into comicbooks that no one really talks about, but which really makes sense for female readership...

I got a chance, though to hang out with Christoper Jones afterwards, which was awesome, because he's kind of a rockstar to me. He actually draws for both DC and Marvel and that was MY DREAM when I was ten years old. I ended up in a very similar place, but comicbooks were by FAR my first love in terms of what I wanted to be when I grew up (though I never told people that as an answer to that question because I never thought it was possilbe.) So I spent some time quietly squeeing at him about how awesome I imagine his life to be.

One of the other things I did at MarsCON was buy a tanuki:

Bryan Thoa Worra took this picture of me because I came out of the dealer's room super excited to have found a tanuki figurine while also being loudly and suitably HORRIFIED that Tanuki is missing his magical testicles. They are supposed to be super large, so much so that Tanuki is able to fly on them and beat people up with them. These have VERY OBVIOUSLY been cut off! Oh noz! He's been grounded!

I also spent a lot of time explaining to people that the reason I wanted a tanuki had a little less to with his drunken trickster god status as to his connection to my fan obsession, being one fourth of the composition of a nue. I also explained that he is not a racoon, but a dog--the only dog native to Japan. But mostly I made a nuisance of myself shouting about swollen magical balls.

I also spent money at the dealer's room on earrings for Shawn. As I also explained to anyone who would listen, I met my partner playing D&D, so when I found earrings made from 20-sided dice I HAD to have them. I also bought her a pair of Cthulu earrings, just because everyone should have a pair of Cthulu earrings.

There were other awesome panels, but they're quickly fading from memory, alas.

So, yeah, how was your con/weekend?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
This last weekend was Gaylaxicon, which I was quite honored to be one of the GoHs of this year.  When I arrived and checked-in/registered, I thought that the con was likely off to a VERY BAD START when I discovered that there were NO condoms (or lube!) in the swag bag.  I spent the next several hours complaining about this, btw.  Loudly.  Luckily, most people ignored me.  Because, really, it turns out (as I actually knew from last time Gaylaxicon was in town) this was not THAT KIND of con.  Gaylaxicon is all about content... or at least mostly... granted I probably said "penis" more at this con than I do at most, but when I did, believe you me, it was in the pursuit of higher knowledge/intellectualism.

There was a lot about the con I enjoyed tremendously. I got to be a squeeing fan grrl all over J. Michael Tatum, who is not only the voice actor who portrays Sebastian in the Anime "Black Butler" (among other roles--you may also know him from "Ouran Host Club",) but also ridiculously cute and funny all on his own and, it turned out, on the one panel I was on with him, he's REALLY SMART AND THOUGHTFUL, too.  I know, right?  How unfair!   That's really all I remember of Friday night, ie embarrassing myself by babbling, "ohmygodohmygodohmygod, you're so coooooooooooooooool" to a complete stranger, and also saying something about as articulate in my Guest of Honor welcoming speech.  I should also say that I had a previous interaction with Gary Russell on the Thursday night GoH dinner, in which I became convinced that he was constantly sneering at me (though particularly when I talked about Marvel Comics).  Turns out, he was only British.

Saturday I had a really phenomenal panel about women writing M/M slash, which was something I came to the con wanting to talk about.  I'm not sure we concluded anything about why queer women like to write boy on boy porn, but we did figure out that it's more complicated than you'd initally think.  I also encouraged everyone to attend the midnight slash panel, and lured them all there by a promise that one of the other GoHs, Kyell Gold, would be reading his Wiley E. Coyote/Road Runner.  I think I did a bunch of other awesome things and talked to a lot of other amazing people, but really that midnight reading will be forever seared into my head as probably one of the most awkward-embarrassing-fantastic nights of my life. 

The midnight slash reading was really well attended.  Which meant that getting started reading porn was REALLY DIFFICULT for me.  I have been known, in fact, in the past, to employ a stunt reader.  This time, since Kyell was telling me to be brave, I finally (probably after a half hour of dithering embarrassment) did.  It worked out really well as what I read was kind of sweet/sexy foreplay ("Other Duties as Assigned") , his was a fairly explicit pay off, and then my second piece was kind of funny/sexy afterglow ("Too Many Captains Spoil the Plan").  So, hopefully the audience felt they got a full experience.  I suspect folks must have because we were only scheduled to go for an hour, but we didn't leave the room until 2:00 am.  It was incredible.  Kyell's husband recorded his portion of the slash reading and if/when they post it anywhere, I will post a link here, too.  Apparently, my facial expressions during some of it were kind of precious.  (I was very nervous/excited and TOTALLY INVESTED in the story.) 

Sunday was my busiest day and also kind of a blur, but I remember some more panels and more hanging out with all sorts of wonderful people.

Oh, and for the record, after this con, if anyone disses a furry in front of me, they're in for an earful.  As my friend [ profile] naomikritzer said to me, "F*ck the Geek Heirarchy," the furries I met this weekend were AWESOME.  Also, they wear tails sometimes.  GET OVER IT.  In fact, I have agreed to attempt some Komamura slash for the folks at the slash reading who liked my Bleach fic.  (Bleach has a furry character, a captain who is a wolf/fox demon.)

Then suddenly it was all over and I was back home and being asked to cook dinner and do the dishes.

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