lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 I'm staying home from con this morning because I'm wiped out. Two nights in a row, I stayed out way past my bedtime. And, I mean: until 2 AM.

On Friday night, I showed up at con (which was at Crowne Plaza near the airport) around 10 pm (for those of you who know me, this is already past my bedtime, but I had napped earlier in the evening because we were all tired from having gone to the KAYSC parent orientation/dinner, which I'll write about in a moment.)  I brought my laptop because [personal profile] jiawen and her friend BC wanted to join a Star Trek: Discovery RPG game that John T. was running at the con.  Initially, I thought I'd mostly sit out the game and only act as technical services. But, of course that's no fun. 

I had an amazing time. John ran a good campaign--very doable in a short period and the pre-made characters all had really well-developed backstories that were easy to find a theme/personality to play.  Our players were all into it, too. I probably could have played all night.

In fact, it made me miss role-playing. I told Shawn that I'd really like to get a local group together again.

Saturday morning, I brought [personal profile] jiawen  back for a panel she wanted to see on game design, which was possibly the only dud of the con. To the presenter's credit, it is VERY HARD to hold forth on a panel when you're the only panelist.  Without a moderator to guide the conversation, it can be easy to ramble.  I know, because I feared this for my Queer Eye for the Yaoi Guy panel and it was only mitigated by the fact that I talked Don K in to staying at the panel table and acting as an impromptu moderator.  So, I mean, possibly the panel just needed more panelists.  Rachel and I hung out (she was Google hangout-ing in from Taiwan) chatting before and after, which was lovely.  She had maybe wanted to see another panel, but I begged off because I really felt like I needed a nap before coming back for the 5:30 pm panel I needed to moderate and, of course, the dreaded slash "midnight" reading at 10 pm.

The yaoi panel went... okay.  People always tell me that I make a good panelist and normally I agree with them because who doesn't want to believe they did well? But, I really felt scattered and all over the place, despite having actually organized my thoughts in a blog on Mangakast. So, if you're curious about the topic, you can feel free to read my far more cogent thoughts there.

One person in the audience gave me a mission. I'm going to see if I can find any yaoi with actual "coming out" stories as part of any plot/romance.

Then, I hung around the con chatting with John T. and I ended up following him to his panel about sex in RPG gaming and even though there was only one other person there (Rae) we had a really interesting discussion about all sorts of interpersonal issues in RPG table top gaming. I invited Rae to dinner with John and I and we were joined by Jason S. and Joe A. and, then later, by Kate J. 

Thank all the gods for Kate because she made the slash reading into a HUGE success.

As many of you know, I have a lot of trouble reading the sexy bits OUT LOUD. I have, in the past, employed audience participation and, like in this case, a stunt reader who takes over for me when things get rough. I would love to do this again at the next Gaylaxicon or ConFABulous, but NOT ALONE. I'm pretty sure the audience is getting super tired of *my* porn.

But, then I ended up chatting with Kate until 2 AM again.  Not that I think I made much sense after 1 AM, but Kate is such an interesting person that I could probably have talked to her all night, too.

Now I am brain dead.

The KAYSC dinner was great, though entirely less informative than I'd hoped. Shawn and I had hoped to get a behind the scenes tour of the Science Museum out of it, but the dinner was actually at a community center.  But, the food was good, catered by Boca Chica. The presentation as good, though slightly less informative than we wanted. Our take away was that, in a lot of ways, the actual projects that the kids do are kind of actually secondary to the learning to do them.  Which is fine? I mean, seriously? Getting paid for what amounts to research training?  Yeah, that's possibly the best job, ever.  

It's been an amazing weekend. 

Now I go sleep.

lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
 Well, CONvergence has been over for almost a week now and I never managed to write-up my con report.  All I can say to that, is that this week STARTED with me showing up to my library gig at New Brighton at quarter to five on Monday only to hear them announce that the library would be closing in fifteen minutes.... 

Luckily, it wasn't that I had completely missed my shift, BUT that I'd showed up a day early.


I had somehow mentally shifted my entire week in my head, because then I also had a panic about a talk I'd agreed to give at the University of Minnesota, which I suddenly worried conflicted (it didn't. That was last night, Wednesday.)  The only good thing that came out of that is that one of my colleagues at work might have me come to her library science class at St. Kate's and have me talk about manga/anime for libraries, which would be neat.

Last night, I was a guest at "From Rocket Ships to Gender Politics." There were only about 11 students, so that was a pretty perfect size, and they had all just finished reading Neal Stephenson's SNOW CRASH, which was a nice segue into my version of cyberpunk. I only feel a little badly because I am a very bombastic personality (Scorpio with a Leo Rising, heavy on the Leo Rising!) and I pretty much dominated the classroom discussion for 2 and a half hours. I gave away various copies of books that I had lying around, which was great.  I'm almost nearly entirely out of RESURRECTION CODE hardcopies.

But, that was a good time. I had initially expected to only have to carry 45 minutes or so of the class, but we were having too much fun and I ended up staying longer and longer.  :-)  In fact, I ended up staying all the way through and even listened to the class discussion of SNOW CRASH, which was interesting, since I haven't tried to re-read that book since it came out.

Okay, so, backtracking to CONvergence....

My CONvergence was fairly good.  It ended on a down note for me, but that was kind of me just feeling like a fraud/loser who hasn't published anything since 2013 (which is accurate, but mostly I don't feel the loser/fraud part so keenly.) I think having two panels in a row about literary awards is what caused that, alas.  

One of the first things that happened when I got to con on Thursday was that I ran into my old editor (now writing colleague) Laura Anne Gilman.  Laura Anne and I ended up hanging out together, getting coffee, and generally having a great time chatting about state parks and road trips and things like that.  I mean, I never know how she feels about me, but, this many years later, I have nothing but fond memories.  I ended up following her to her panel on "How to Say 'No' to Your Editor." I probably embarrassed her by publicly commenting that I thought that her editorial letter, while LONG, actually made my novel better.  Which is all true, and it's not like sucking up to her NOW would help my career any.

From there I had a panel, which I moderated, on DEATH NOTE a manga which has spawned a zillion adaptations, including an American remake for Netflix.  I thought that panel went very well. I think it helps that I reread the entire manga a few days earlier, so all the character interactions were fresh in my mind.

I did a lot of bumming around at con this year because I was semi-chaperoning three teenagers: Mason, his girlfriend, and their mutual guy friend.  So, I took them all out to dinner and whatnot and ended up watching part of the "Infinity War" panel with them. But, while waiting for my teens to get their acts together, I ran into [personal profile] opalsong and talked fandoms and the various things she's been podcasting.  I made Thursday an early night, though. I think we were all home by 8pm-9pm. 

Friday I had a 9:30 am panel. I saw Eleanor having breakfast in the hotel restaurant and so I crashed her table for a few minutes (and an extra cup of coffee) before my panel. Anne Lyle was there so we ended up talking about the World Cup and some of the other differences between American and U.K. life.

My panel, another one that I moderated, seemed to also go pretty well. This one was about Timothy Dalton as Bond and I think we ended up with a fairly lively discussion, despite the early hour.

At some point later, I ended up at "Judging a Book By its Cover."  CONvergence always has this track of panels that are really more like entertainment, Villification Tennis, Power-point Karaoke, the Poetry Slam, etc.  This one is one that Mason and I have seen before and it is almost always quite hilarious, even if the 'panelists' flail, because the covers they find for it are always worth the price of admission.  But, the performers were all amazing, so it was very entertaining.

I spent a LONG time sitting on the floor near the costuming atrium near the pool/cabana area chatting with Ty Blauersouth about... kind of everything, which was lovely.  

Then, I was one of the judges for the Poetry Slam, which went very well. It was enough fun that I think I'm going to try to catch it next year, even if I'm not a participant.

The final panel of Friday for me was another one I moderated which was the Chuck Tingle fan panel. I'm not sure how well that one went, but the audience seemed to enjoy it as one of them gave me a "good job" ribbon afterwards (which is only ironic since I really felt like I'd flailed around a lot.)  But, I mean, the subject matter alone is fairly entertaining, so there is that.

Saturday was my off day, but I did get to have lunch with [personal profile] naomikritzer and Ms. Shannon Paul, which prompted me to hit the comedy show to watch Ms. Shannon perform, which was, by far, the highlight of my day.

I ended up skipping con entirely on Sunday because I was WORN OUT.

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I had hoped to write all of these up shortly after they happened, but, as you see, I am composing everything post-final curtain, as it were. I did take notes, however, so hopefully I can recapture the gist of everything.

DAY TWO (Saturday):

I woke up to snow and ice. Being a morning person, I didn't bother to set an alarm because I knew that even though I'd stayed up late, there was no danger of oversleeping my 10 am kaffeeklatsch. Indeed, I was up by 7 am. I got partially dressed (in that I put on regular clothes, not CON clothes) and slipped my way across the parking lot of the hotel to the little strip mall directly across the street. There was a Caribou there as well as a Bruegger's bagels. I got my large mocha and had an egg bagel sandwich. The back of my badge said that my kaffeeklatsch would be held at "bar," but MiniCON has a "con bar" and the hotel also usually has a bar, so I wasn't entirely sure where things would be held. I figured that if we ended up at the hotel restaurant, it was still okay for me to have eaten something, because then I could talk and entertain people while THEY ate.

Turns out it was held at the "con bar," anyway. The con bar is basically just a party room, so labeled. My liaison, Tayna (who was amazing all weekend), made sure there was actual coffee from the con suite in the con bar for us early risers.

I don't ever think of 10 am as early, but I understand that it can be for many people, especially at a convention. So, I didn't expect a lot of people to turn up. I think my sign-up sheet only had a couple of people on it officially. But... the room filled up.

I was worried pre-con about the dreaded question "what are you writing now?" I flubbed it on Thursday night at the meet-and-greet. Someone, maybe even Rachel Swirsky, asked me that... and (despite coaching from [personal profile] naomikritzer ) I choked and blurted out, "NOTHING." Then I fumble/flailed for a while mumbling the things I usually do about having been emotionally thrown off the horse by being dropped by Penguin, etc., etc., until I trailed off awkwardly and killed conversation for at least three whole seconds.

That flub reminded me to be READY at the kaffeeklatsch. In fact, one of the first questions was, "What are you working on now?" Naomi came up with an absolutely brilliant response, which was to turn the burden of that question back around. I said, "Honestly, not much since Penguin dropped me, so I'm looking for ideas. You guys are presumably fans of my work--or at least science fiction--what would YOU like to see me write!"

Tyler Tork suggested that I write the lesbian candy shop cozies that he made up for his mock-up web design page. I think my favorite title of his was ASSAULTED CARAMEL. Tayna suggested an alternate Renaissance Festival fic (since we met, MANY YEARS AGO, through Fest.) When Tyler was talking about his lesbian mysteries, I was reminded of another friends' suggestion which was a tabletop RPG gamer/gaming mystery, the first of which would be TWENTY-SIDED DIE (and someone else, maybe Robyn, added another called, CRITICAL MISS.)

I also discovered, much to my surprise, that a number of people in the room were anxiously awaiting the ending of UNJUST CAUSE a Wattpad experiment that I petered out on a few years back (mostly because I honestly thought no one was reading it.) They made me write in my notebook: "Finish UNJUST CAUSE or fans will kill you."

So, apparently, I need to work on that...if I want to live!

To say that was a success is almost an understatement, because, hat could have been awkward (and legitimately triggering, in terms of my depression issue around writing,) felt invigorating and up-lifting. THANK YOU, NAOMI, FOR YOUR BRILLIANT COACHING!!!

Then, I had some free time until my Guest of Honor Interview (with puppet!) at 1:00 pm. Did I have lunch? I must of had lunch. Did I end up eating with people I know or did I just have Tayna grab me a sandwich from the green room?? (To be fair, Tayna had made me a roast beef sandwich the first night, Friday, that was amazing. It had just the right amount of horseradish sauce on it.) I did have a number of meals with Rachel and her husband Mike. I have a number of recommendations from them, including a web comic that I've started and am really enjoying called "Superbutch," about a lesbian superhero from the 1940s.

I know, I know... you don't care what I had for lunch. You just want to know: HOW DID IT GO WITH THE PUPPET????

Minicon 53 panel with Naomi Kritzer, Lyda Morehouse and Tate Hallaway puppet

The picture is a little dark, but you can see that I'm clearly enjoying myself. I don't remember if I posted a close-up of the muppet/puppet earlier, but here it is:

tate muppet

This puppet was custom built by local puppeteer Gordon Smude and performed by Laura Krentz.

How did it work? Well, I'm not entirely convinced it did, though I learned some lessons from the Opening Ceremonies. At Opening Ceremonies, it was tempting to try to interact with the puppet as though Laura could speak for her... but she really can't since *I'm* also Tate. So, at the interview I mostly (once I got the hang of it) tried to indicate when I was speaking as Lyda and when I was speaking as Tate. I have no idea if this was successful, especially since the temptation to say, "Right, Tate?" was always there.

The questions themselves were good and I made the Stemple/Yolens have to raise their "I'm uncomfortable" hands when I started talking about sex scenes, which was pretty hilarious. It was cool/weird to look out into the audience and see Jane Yolen with her hand up... until I recognized that Adam and David and Betsy were doing the same thing in the back row and I realized, "Oh, right, Adam has told me about this. I need to stop saying 'throbbing member" now. I have made everyone--except Adam's daughter--deeply uncomfortable in the Stemple/Yolen clan.)

So, I mean... it was fun? I also ended up tearing up a little bit over a question you wouldn't think would cause such a reaction. It was, "What was the best fan mail you've ever gotten?" I thought about it and the answer was all the trans folks who wrote to me back in the early days who were so moved to see Ariel there, as a representative of God, being trans. And I got all choked up thinking about how important representation really is.

The next panel was "Combining the Mystery/Detective Genre with Science Fiction," which was much lower energy, so it felt less good. Also, as these sorts of panels sometimes do, it ended up being a list of recommended titles. Some that I wrote down were: Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher, The Man in the Tree by Sage Walker, The Ark by Patrick S Tomlinson, and Dr. Stone, a manga, by Boichi (which someone that wasn't ME recommended.)

Then, it was Rachel and I together for "We Suck - Winning Through Losing," which was fun, because: Rachel. The two of us, I noticed, are positive-outlook sorts, so there weren't quite so many war stories about publishing (which I have a fair amount of!!) as advice to keep going after set-backs. The thing I remember the most from that panel was the question from the audience about risk-taking. I'm not sure what entirely was intended, but Rachel and I had a lovely discussion about how, yeah, it's always better to take a chance and fail than to reach for the lowest, safest hanging fruit--in terms of where you submit, in terms of how much of your soul you put into writing, and in terms of being willing to be scared that things aren't perfect but believing in your work anyway. I remember mentioning that I always think about how the Dark Side gets its energy from hate and fear and jealousy, and that's supposed to be a bad thing, but fear is the feeling you have when you're taking risks and if you never feel it, you're probably not growing as a writer.

The last panel of Sunday was "The Meaning of Captain America," which also went really well. Sometimes, on Marvel panels, there's a divide among the panelists between MCU/comic book. I was quite happy that all of the panelist were both, they'd seen all the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and were all comic book readers, as well. Plus, Jei and I talked a lot about how fandom (particularly on Tumblr) sees Captain America, so it was high energy and well-rounded, IMHO.

I hung around in that room because my friend Tom ran up to his room to get me the Comixology version of Mark Gerunwauld's Captain America --or maybe it was someone else's take on Cap's pre-super solider life in the late-1930s... oh, yeah, actually the Grunwauld thing is a separate recommendation because, this was actually in She-Hulk because Jen Walters is taking on a case for Steve Rogers, in which he's been accused of murder. (She-Hulk Volume 3 -8, "The Good Old Days" [Part 1])

Plus, Rachel, Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, and Ruth Berman were all on a panel about golems that I was interested in. Besides, I had plans to go out to sushi with Rachel afterwards, so I thought I might as well listen in. The panel was pretty good, though at 9 pm, it was kind of dense subject matter for my exhausted brain. I did manage to interrupt everything at one point because I thought Adam had offered a question to the audience (OOPS!)

Then, as promised, a bunch of us went out to sushi at Raku, including Rachel and Mike. I was out until they started closing down the sushi bar at midnight. We had a lovely time eating sushi and chatting--mostly about politics, mostly, I think, because politics wasn't exactly verboten at con, but going into detail sort of was... at least by silent agreement. I don't think anyone would have STOPPED either of us GoHs if we wanted to go on a rant about this or that political thing, but I assumed nothing. I know at least one of my fellow panelists on the mystery panel was, at least before the election, a Trump supporter.

I actually drove home after that because Sunday was Shawn's birthday and I really wanted to wake up with her, so we could have some time together to open presents and have cake. The morning was somewhat interrupted by the fact that Mason forgot his sweater at his friend Andrew's house, and we could have left it until after Spring Break, but it was the ONE sweat shirt that Shawn had sewed iPad sized pockets into for the big trip to New York he left for today.

DAY THREE (Sunday)

I managed, despite the detour to Andrew's house in Phalen, to not only make it to my 10 am panel, but to also be caffeinated. Nina's was open! So, we hit there on our way to Andrew's (I made my family come along so that we could all chat.) So, after a quick change in my hotel room into con clothes (I traditionally wear a button-up shirt and vest), I was on my way.

"This Will End Well," was my chance to rant about the ending of Bleach. The moderator let me start, and I knew I could derail everything if I got too specific (even though we warned that since we were talking endings, the whole thing was a spoiler). So, while I mentioned events, I framed them in terms of 'why this sort of ending sucks for me, personally.' Which nicely let the panelists discuss 'ship endings' and 'plot-hole endings' and any number of related themes. It was a high-energy panel.

Then, I tried to go out to dim sum with a group of people, including my friend Anna. The dim sum place we tried to go to was JAM PACKED and I ended up having to bail because I had a panel at 1 pm. I waited with them from about 11:15 am until almost 12:30 pm. Almost an hour. I've VERY SAD that I had to bail, because I've actually NEVER had dim sum, and having stuck my nose in the front door, the place smelled AMAZING.

I ended up at the con hotel's Easter brunch, which was decent enough.

Anyway, the panel "Angels in Literature" was pretty good. It was my second panel with Steven Brust who has been somewhat of a rival of mine (he has no idea) since some time in the 1990s. Thing was, Brust was part of a writers' group in the Twin Cities that was very much the 'it' kids and I desperately wanted to surpass them. Like, in some kind of shounen anime... Because of this funky history (which is 100% IN MY OWN HEAD) I always worry about how panels are going to go with Steven Brust. And there have been some local kerfuffles that also made me a little leery...

He was delightful. I even came out of that panel with a story idea. We were talking about the circles of heaven and hell and someone, I think the moderator, Rick, started joking about how the lowest level of Hell had to be much better than the lowest level of Heaven, because, what, is that like "Heaven's Trailer Park" and that was such a delightful image in my head, I really wanted to write something about that. I mean, I have NOTHING else to stick on that yet, but what a great image!

The last panel of the con was a bit... dodgy. I was the only woman on it, and it was about Bladerunner and its sequel. The moderator was one of those guys who doesn't moderate so much as hogs the mike, and both he and Eric Heideman were super-fans in a way that I wasn't. There was also a couple of incidents at the start of the panel that put me off a bit. Sooooooo.... yeah, it was chilly when I tried to bring up some of the more un-feminist/borderline misogynistic parts of the sequel.  

You can pretty much tell everything from this picture:

me, literally rolling my eyes, while Eric, beside me, looks grim

Description: (right) me, literally rolling my eyes, while Eric (left) sits beside me looking decidedly GRIM.

So, yeah.....

After closing ceremonies, I dashed home to be with my wife and son.  I was home sometime around 5:30 pm. I had put some corned beef in the crock pot, since all the restaurants were closed. Shawn has decided since she spent most of her birthday packing Mason for his New York trip today, freaking out about all that, AND having to share the spotlight with BOTH April Fools (as always), me swanning off to Minicon, AND also Easter, that she wants a do-over birthday on April 15.

Seems fair to me.

lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
 I'm cuddled up in a queen-size bed in a swank hotel room right now, nibbling on complimentary mixed nuts and trail mix.  I feel kind of like a rock star.

Let me tell you, my friends: Minicon knows how to treat their GoHs.

An old colleague of mine, Laramie came up to me after opening ceremonies and asked, "Did you ever imagine, all those years ago in Wyrdsmiths, that you'd end up here?" I think I said, "Being a guest of honor at Minicon has been on my bucket list since forever, yeah." Because it has.  Minicon use to be 'con,' back in the day. It was the biggest and best show in town for SF/F writers, long before the fan war in 1998 that broke it (or, some might say "began the intentional scaling back of attendees.")* I'm not trying to bring up old wounds. I only mention it because when that dream went onto the bucket list, Minicon was a very different con. I met my future agent at the Minicon hotel restaurant back when I'd hoped he be my editor... I cut my teeth on paneling at Minicon, and, really, it was the con where I learned about capital-F Fandom and sat at the feet of giants.

Minicon was critical to my science fiction writing career.

So, hopefully, I'm giving back a little of what they've given me not only this weekend, but also over the decades.

My first panel today was "Is This the Cyberpunk Future We @ere Promised?" which was actually a really interesting discussion. My old friend Greg Johnson moderated it, and he did an amazing job. We touched on everything from how people treat sex robots to current concerns about Russian hacking and Facebook, to amusing conversations I've had with my Alexa (a.k.a. the Amazon Echo.) We also, of course, talked about the cyberpunk genre and whether or not it died when William Gibson announced its death, or if it's still continuing.  

Opening Ceremonies was up next and included the first appearance of the puppet that will be playing Tate Hallaway in the interview tomorrow.

a muppet of Tate Hallaway

There was a very silly bit of theater of Tate and I having arguments with ourselves (which was all me... very surreal.) At any rate, much fun was had. Afterwards, I did feel a little badly that I didn't get a chance to tell Minicon how honored I was to be a guest there. Ah well. Hopefully, my entertainment factor made up for that.

The final panel of the evening was "I am Not Chuck Tingle" wherein the panelist discussed the phenomenon that is Chuck Tingle.It was a very silly, off-the-wall discussion, which culminated with Stephen Brust suggesting that, while one of us might be the real Chuck Tingle, all of us have a tiny piece of Chuck Tingle somewhere inside us." To which most of the panelists instantly added, "In the butt."  It was fun and funny, and I was glad to have shared a panel with Rachel Swirsky, because, as I have been saying non-stop, she is awesome and you should buy all her things.

Tomorrow is my busiest day, so I should probably go to sleep soon.

Goodnight! I will report more tomorrow evening!


*It's interesting to try to find something written about this event which I remember quite vividly being a 'fan war' between the 'literary' element and the 'media' fans.  The only official place that sort of touches on this bit of fanfare that I found with my feeble googling skills is on CONvergence's archive page, which makes sense, since both MarsCON and CONvergence spawned out of that war.

lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
I had a fair number of panels this weekend, many of which went very well, but a lot of my con was plagued by me NOT KNOWING WHEN THE LIVING HELL TO SHOW UP.

For instance, Friday--for some reason I got it into my head that my first panel ("Roundtable Discussion: What are You Reading?") was at 7 pm. I got dressed and headed out around 6:30 pm. I got there with 5 minutes to spare and started freaking out because I could not find a space anywhere in the hotel parking lot. I happened to see my fellow panelist, Bryan Thao Worra, walking up the sidewalk and so I shouted to him and asked him about overflow parking. I might even have said something like, "Well, I'll see you fifteen minutes. If not, you'll know I'm still hunting up parking!" I'm surprised he didn't look at me and say, "What are you talking about?"

Because our panel didn't start until 9 pm.

Bryan said that he'd heard that it was okay to park in the lot for the Wildlife Refuge Center, so I did, despite actual posted signs that said, "NO HILTON PARKING." I decided to risk it (spoiler: I was fine) and I dashed in, figuring I'd quick stop and register, because if I was late my fellow panelist at least knew I'd be on my way shortly. I'm glad I did, because in my manilla program participant packet was my schedule. WHICH CLEARLY SAID THAT MY FIRST PANEL WAS AT 9 PM.

Suddenly, I had almost two hours to kill.

MarsCON, I have decided, is a weird con. Don't get me wrong, I like it. I go every year. I kind of consider it the opener for the con season. But, given the situation with the parking lot, you'd figure I'd have no problem finding someone with which to pass the two hours hanging out. Nope. I don't know if it's the way the hotel is laid out, or the fact that I don't do much with the extremely popular musical track, or that the party floor is nine stories removed from the paneling area, or everyone else is invited to secret parties to which I did not get the memo/invite, or what, but I would NOT have guessed that this con apparently attracted between 900-1,000 people. I would have thought it was half that. The halls seemed empty.

This is also not necessarily a down side. I mean, it's nice to have a con that is not as overwhelmingly crowed as say, CONvergence. BUT, one thing that I told Minicon when preparing for my Guest of Honor gig there this year (in a matter of weeks!!), it's actually almost better to overbook me as a panelist than to leave me with huge swaths of time with nothing to do. As an extrovert, I really do feed off the high energy of a con. If I'm sitting and staring at the wall wishing I had a book, I crash. It's a lot harder for me to ramp back up to my "performance level."

So, I can't say that, by the time I actually sat down next to Bryan in the "Eagle's Nest" conference room, I was super peppy.

I did, at least, think ahead and prepared a list of stuff I'd been reading over the past few years. Bryan recommended a number of poetry books--like, full length books. Later, when i saw Bryan again, I thought to ask him a question that I should have at our panel, which is, is there a proper way to read a book of poetry? Are you supposed to just start on page one and power through? I've never done that with the few books of poetry that I own (granted at least half of them are Shel Silverstein). Mostly, I randomly pick poems and read them. There are Marge Piercy poetry volumes I own where I'm sure there are still dozens and dozens of poems unread, because I just never hit that page when I was leafing through. Bryan confirmed that that's totally how it's done, so I guess I haven't been missing some key to appreciating poetry all these years.

Because I'm a weird combination of extrovert and morning lark (opposite of you night owls), I went home directly after my panel.... oh, right, there was another reason I did that, too. I texted home at one point to let people know I'd arrived too early and wouldn't be coming home until after 10 pm, and I got a text reply informing me that our problem kitty, Inky, had peed all over the basement floor. Everyone was apparently very upset about this because Mason didn't see the mess until he plopped our brand-new beanbag chair right into the center of it. There was worry that it was completely ruined FOREVER. Problem kitty is also usually my responsibility, so everyone was mad at me for not being around to do the clean-up on aisle 5. (Before you assume the worst from my family, my responsibilities include one that I fail all the time. I'm supposed to pill our cat, because he has fewer accidents when he's consistently on his Prozac. My family rightly surmised that if he was peeing inappropriately, it was because I had forgotten to pill him. When he pees inappropriately when I'm the one who forgot to make sure he got his daily pill, it stands to reason I should be the one to deal with the fall out, as it were.) So, I rushed home to change kitty litter and to wrestle a pill into Inky.

In the back and forth with the kitty trauma, I ran out of minutes on my phone and so I also had to problem solve THAT on the fly at the hotel (it involved finding the business center and logging into TracFone)... it was, shall we say, an inauspicious beginning to my con. My only consolation (?) was that Bryan had had to deal with a puking puppy all day, too. (I don't know that that actually made me feel BETTER, per se, but at least my misery had company, as it were.)

So, that was Friday.

Saturday... let's see, I started my day off with probably the highest energy panel of the con for me, "Marvel Cinematic Universe." We talked a lot about "Black Panther," of course. We had two PoCs on the panel--Rob Callahan and a young woman named Kianna--so we were at least spared the awkward that is a bunch of white fans yammering on. Kianna had an interesting take on Killmonger (whom, it seems, is often misread by white people) and Rob talked a lot about the Indigenous response to the movie. That was probably the best panel of the con, for me.

Oh, but I forgot that my Saturday morning actually started way before that panel, when I was at home frantically making a powerpoint presentation because I realized when I got my schedule the night before, I was still the ONLY person on the "Manhwa/Manhua Explosion," and I thought, that as hard as it was going for me to fill an hour all by myself, I thought it would be even worse if I couldn't show visual representations of what I was talking about. I want everyone reading this to know one thing. I HAVE LEGITIMATELY NEVER MADE A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION BEFORE IN MY LIFE. Yet, the program is simple enough that I managed to cobble together ten or so slides before I left for the con.

I did, however, spend some of the downtime between the MCU panel (at 11 pm) and my solo presentation (3 pm) making more slides and genuinely TRYING to prepare... Even though I had no idea whether or not the room would actually have AV equipment that I could use. (Spoiler: it did. MIRACULOUSLY.)

So, I can't say that the "Manhwa/Manhua" panel was an unmitigated disaster, because I did attempt to mitigate it, but... I mean, there's a reason I prefer panel discussions. When there's at least one other person there, you have a CHANCE at a dialogue. I did tell my audience that I was not an expert, and that I had, in fact, proposed the panel because I wanted someone ELSE to tell me more about it....the other thing I warned them is that I could only talk about what *I* was reading and, frankly, what I read is SMUT. (Did I mention they put this in the "teen" track!?) But, the audience was sympathetic and somehow we limped through it.

My last panel was at 7pm and it was called "Writing Humorous Science Fiction and Fantasy." I... might not have been in the best head space for that particular panel. For one, I had had to kill a lot of downtime. Much of which was taken up by the other problem with the MarsCON hotel, which is they are in a virtual food desert. The Mall of America is within spitting range, but to go there, one has to be willing to leave their parking spot (or, I suppose, have enough time to hop the light rail.) There is a hotel restaurant, but the restaurant seems to always been chronically understaffed (I swear the SAME surly waiter who served everyone last year, served us again this year.) The hotel also has a kind of convenience store, but it's stocked with the sort of convenience store food that we have in this part of the country.... sandwiches wrapped in plastic that are fresh, but which have clearly sat around long enough for the various condiments to have made the white bread soggy and gross, you know? The con suite serves food, but it can not feed a multitude before having only pumpernickel as a bread option in the PBJ room.

I'd had lunch with Naomi, her family, Rob Callahan and his friend Jei. We braved the restaurant and heard a lot of cool stories about Jay's students (they teach at a Native charter school). I'd kind of blown my con budget on that --not that I really had one, but the food at that restaurant is not varied enough--or cheap enough--to warrant a lot of return visits, so I ended up eating a couple of hotdogs in the con suite. I will say? That hungry, those hot dogs tasted AMAZING.

Anyway, I found myself feeling a little... professional jealousy towards MaryJanice Davidson, who was on the humor panel with me. MaryJanice Davidson was someone who was hot when I first started publishing paranormal romances as Tate, and sitting on that panel with her gave me a stab of the classic green-eyes "why is SHE still publishing, when I'm not." That kind of threw off my game. Luckily, the panel was totally ruled by Ivery Kirk (Melissa Buren) who co-wrote a book with possibly the single greatest title for an erotica ever: TIMEBANGERS:One Does Not Simply Walk Into Tudor.

I ran into a friend, Jason, after the panel and I told him that what was especially weird about my reaction to MaryJanice Davidson was that it caused me to attempt to talk seriously about the topic of humor in SF/F.  Jason looked aghast and was like, "What? You?  I would have wondered where my Lyda was and demanded a refund!"  And, yeah, see, this is my con persona... and, of course, the one of the dangers of running into someone you long considered a rival (I was told I couldn't use DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS for a book title of mine, because MaryJanice Davidson was putting out a book that same year with the same title.) I think I was thrown too because sometimes you set up in your mind this kind of rivalry and the other person LITERALLY has no idea who you are. (Davidson totally give me a blank look when i said i wrote paranormal romance as Tate Hallaway).  

Anyway, so that one was kind of a bust, despite how cute and hilarious Kirk/Buren was.

Today was another WAIT, WHEN AM I SUPPOSED TO BE THERE days. Shawn told me that my first panel was at 1 pm today, and, since she'd been right about the 9 pm one on Friday, I believed her.  So, I'm sitting in my chair, cat on my lap, thinking about having a nice, relaxing morning when I decide to look at my printed schedule. Oh no! According to my sheet, I'm actually supposed to have an 11 am panel. I quick throw things together and rush out the door.  I get there, miraculously find parking in the lot, jump onto an opening elevator and arrive at Krushenko's at 11 am SHARP. Only, Eric tells me that the schedule has been changed. My 11 am panel was moved to... 2pm. 

Now, I could have stayed, but I'd already run out once to get Starbuck's so I thought, no, I'm going to go home, go grocery shopping, have a decent lunch and come back for my 1 pm panel.  That actually worked out really nicely. By chance, I even arrived at my house in time to introduce myself and Shawn to neighbors who are moving in across the street from us. I had a nice sandwich at home and headed back. Two panels in a row, in the same room, on similar topics.  The first was "Androids, AI, and Gender Theory" and the second was "Artificial People in Science Fiction."  My favorite fellow panelist (besides Naomi, of course,) was Justin Grays, who was on both.  Post panel, I instantly cyberstalked him and became FB friends, etc., like you do in this, the era of social media.

So, that was my con in a nutshell.  I think the only awfulness of the con was the audience member in the Gender Theory panel who wanted to insist on an old-fashioned and outdated (and now considered offensive) term for intersex people.  But, the panel dealt with the person quite gently, IMHO, but there are always some people who take the changing terminology as some kind of personal affront, it seems.  I mean, "Oops, my mistake, [use correct term offered]" is the easiest response. It's also okay to say, "I didn't know it had changed," once, but then go away and Google, for crying out loud. The panel is there to educate to some degree, but the topic was not changing terminology, so... time was wasted on that.

There were a few other awkward moments in the two Sunday panels, but, I think, for the most part, people were unintentionally awkward, instead of malicious... which I guess makes it a little better? I hope so, anyway. (For broad context, let's just say things get weird when white people try to explain away reasons for slavery.... even in the out of historical context and about why we might have clones.)

I dashed home after that, too, because WEATHER is supposed to be on its way.  In fact, Saint Paul schools just closed in anticipation of another afternoon storm tomorrow. (I imagine the superintendent does not want to deal with another situation like last time.) I think it's the right call, but if it ends up raining all day tomorrow and not snowing, people will no doubt say he was too hasty. Honestly, the poor guy can't win. I think it was smart to err on the side of caution this time, however.

Right, that's me to bed.  Hope you guys all had a good weekend.
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
It's Sunday evening, and I am at home... all con'd out. I will do my best to recount Saturday and today, but my frazzled brain is not responsible for gaps in the narrative. (Also, there may be more typos than usual. My apologies in advance.)

Saturday started with a panel I was a little worried about because there was only one other person on it. Luckily, that one other person was Lois McMaster Bujold:

lois mcmaster bujold and lyda morehouse

Our panel was "Of a Certain Age" talking about stories that feature older protagonists.  

I'm happy to say that this picture (by Mary Loving) is as it should be. Lois is talking and I am listening. The room was packed, despite it being 11 am, so my assumption was that most people were likely there to hear Lois, a Guest of Honor this year. I had prepared what I called a "binder of women" (old joke from, ironically, a brighter time) which was actually prepared by [personal profile] catherineldf and you can find the first part of it here.  With Catherine's hardwork as our guide, we had a pretty good panel.  

Saturday was my day of loose ends. I did a lot of wandering around and catching up with people. I had one thing I *had* to do besides my later 8:30 pm panel and that was to stop by the Just Enough Trope Podcast table. They asked me if I'd be willing to be part of their show. Since Naomi had only gotten a couple of hours of sleep, I actually brought her with me so that she could skip her later time slot and catch a decent afternoon nap.  I am SUCH a good friend (plus I figured they'd more likely use the segment if Naomi was in it.  Who's a Slytherin? You're the Slytherin!)  I had tentatively scheduled 1 o'clock but they were busy and while I waited for them to be free and for Naomi to join me, I watched a Marvel cosplay meet-up.  I really wish I'd remembered to bring my camera, because there was some seriously good costuming, including a guy who had 3-D printed his Dr. Doom armor.  Such a Doom thing to do!--well, if you added magic as well as technology. My other favorite person was a perfect Domino, who kept not ever getting a call-out because so many fans are focused on the MCU and not the comic books. But, they eventually called for a photo shoot of "mutants" and she was able to go.

If you've never experienced one of these group shots, they're really fascinating.  They're often in the program, but can also be semi-spontaneous (like  flashmob, at least in terms of getting the word out via twitter) where everyone who is cosplaying from a certain fandom shows up in one location. A loud-voiced person will voluntarily jump up on a chair and start shouting out organizational commands. It always starts with EVERYONE and then breaks-out.  "All the Spider-Men...", etc.

Thor was late this year, possibly because the God of Thunder does not the Twitter, but he came with this adorable Hulk-child.  Watching the little Hulk play with what was obviously daddy's cape, made me ridiculously charmed and weirdly broody for all the Thor kid-fic.  

The one other thing that was a "do not miss" was Seanan McGuire's signing. I got the book signed and it will be ready to ship off to my friend in Oregon tomorrow morning.  So, yay!

I did a lot of wandering around which, for me, was not necessarily a good thing. I'm the kind of extrovert that feeds on interaction and being at loose ends makes me vulnerable to being overwhelmed by the crowd and the noise and the busy-ness.  I probably should have gone home for a couple of hours, but there never seemed to be quite the right time and so I decided to take my laptop over to the Caribou for a little downtime. I ran into Dana Baird and her husband Eric in the most amazing steampunk Lady Groot and Rocket Raccoon. I didn't realize the amaze of her costume at first because I just saw this intensely ornate Victorian dress (and she was out of the stilts and not wearing the mask.)

Here's what the full thing looks like:

Lady Groot and Lord Rocket, Steampunk

Photo credit: Emily Dyess.  

Here's another with just them:

Lady Groot and Lord Rocket, steam punk

photo credit: Audrey Casteline

Hanging out with Dana is always a ton of fun and I can not get over that she made that whole costume herself (including Eric's Rocket, though he made the steampunk gun.)  The sheer amount of talent (let's be real: FABRIC ART)  on display is staggering, and that's just Dana. The costumes are always mind-blowing.

And humorous:

t-rex can't hug. Their arms are too short

Photo credit Michael J. Egglehorn

I ended up having dinner with Eric and Dana at Subway and they stopped by their car so Dana could put on the stilts (an amazing process to watch!!) and then I headed over to my last panel of the day, "Local Urban Fantasy."  

I was not in the best headspace for this panel. Plus, I never know if, with a title like that, people want a laundry list of what's out there or an exploration about why people write it/tips for writing it, etc.  I tried to provide a balance, but I'm not sure how successful that was.  I think if I had been in a better place it would have been find, but I left feeling like the panel was all over the place...  A little defeated by that, I headed home.  

Today I had only one panel, "Ms. Marvel Fan Panel," and I it was probably one of the best ones in terms of my abilities to moderate... and, hardly anyone saw my crowning achievement because: 9:30 am.  The room wasn't EMPTY, but I bet there were less than a dozen brave souls.  I stayed around afterward because I wanted to catch up with Naomi after her "From Fan Writer to Pro Writer" panel.  I actually ended up watching that and then Naomi and I went out to lunch to catch up.  We'd mostly missed each other this con--which is hardly surprising given her extra load as one of the GoHs.

After that, I headed home, promptly crashed for a 45 minute nap. I woke up, had a home-cooked meal, and then started to feel mostly human again.

Which is good, because tomorrow at 9 am I teach "More than the Zombie Apocalypse" to TWENTY TEENAGERS.  Normally, I cap my Loft classes at 15, but I agreed to add 5 more because THERE IS A WAITING LIST. I'm feeling a little pressure, if you can't tell. But, I looked over my syllabus and I should have plenty of time tomorrow to think about ways around the fact that the class is WAY TOO BIG to successfully do peer critique. Unless I super-limit the size of the sample?  Hmmm, now I'm thinking we could do "first pages." That might be fun, actually.  We can be sure to talk about hooks tomorrow and I'll have them bring in a first page.  OoooOooo, that might work!

If you can't tell, I'm naturally a very organic teacher. So a lot of how tomorrow goes will depend on whether or not I can get some response from my teens. (You're shaking your head, but I LIKE teenagers. Plus, these ones have all volunteered to be here.)

That's me. You?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I'm at the Caribou/Einstein's Bagel across from the con hotel; Mason is at home, still asleep. My extroverted introvert announced last night that he has had a tremendous time, but he is officially DONE with people. I understand completely.  I may be an extroverted extrovert, but that doesn't mean that a five day con doesn't wear on me.  

Yesterday was an especially busy day.  I had only two panels, but they were spread out over a whole day.  My first one was at 2 pm and my final one started at 8:30 pm. Plus, I wanted to be sure to catch Lois McMaster Bujold's signing because I had a faraway friend who wanted an autograph, and that was at 12:30 pm. Naomi had invited me to meet her and a friend at Caribou at 11 am, too, and while the kids and I managed to get to con by 11... we did not find parking until almost ten minutes later and I showed up at the Caribou around 11:30.  I sent the kids off to DQ for lunch and ran off hoping  hadn't blown my chance to hang out.  

Luckily, I didn't miss Naomi.  Even luckier, Tyler Tork, his wife (whose name currently escapes me), and Bryan Thao Worra were there.  I have always liked Bryan, ever since some Minicon somewhere lost to the annals of time where he was the only person at a Krueshenko's party who could tell me what had happened to Captain America after Cap had been shot (I'd been catching up with Marvel comics at this point and I was a little desperate for news.)  Plus, I've been following his travels via Facebook and, in the way of social media when it works as it should, that has bred a certain sense of connection and familiarity in my heart (even if Bryan doesn't necessarily feel the same way, you know?)  

So we had a lovely chat about all sorts of things because everyone there was super-interesting. I could have had my own little con right there, all day, but Naomi being GoH and Bryan, being Bryan (and a former guest of honor, like myself,) had places to go.  I wandered over to the signing, disappointed that there were no books by Lois to be had in the dealer's room. For whatever reason, there is only one bookseller in the dealer's room, and they're a publisher, so they are only selling their own authors... which I don't think includes any of the GoHs?  I might be wrong about that. However, the con has dealt with this by having a certain number of author books for sale at the merchandise window, which normally mostly sells con tee-shirts. I was able to pick up something for my friend there and get it signed.  

I wandered around for a while and, by chance, ran into the entire Slash panel (my 8:30 pm panel) in the cosplay poolside atrium. We were chatting and squeeing about Yuri on Ice and other current fandoms that are seeing a lot of slash action and we ended up talking a bit about Free! and I awkwardly recommended my Bleach/Free! x-over TO THE WOMAN WHO PODFICC'D IT (Opalsong) who, even more AWKWARDLY, I HAD ALREADY MET,  in person, a couple of years ago.  

At that point, I decided I may have "won" CONvergence for being the most braindead person, ever. 

My first panel was "Take a Pew, Pew, Pew" about religion in science fiction, which I think went well, though... in the way of CONvergence panels, it wasn't necessarily very in-depth.  The cool part of that panel was that we had a woman on it who is a Church of England vicar. She has written an FAQ about what vicars do, to which I teased, "since most Americans only know about vicars from the BBC" and then my friend/fellow panelist Bill cut in to add, "And yet somehow she left out all the bits where she solves crimes once a week!"  But, so you see, that was the tone. It was funny and clever, but not terribly deep.  I still had fun and learned some, so that was worth it.  

I had wanted to hit Naomi's reading after that, but the kids were hungry so we went over to Friday's.  By the time we got back, I was able to see "Refugee Life Hacks" which was amazing and Saymoukda Vongsay is  my new girl-crush. She is brilliant and funny and bad ass, and I am now a devoted fangirl. I may actually have to attend poetry readings and theatre in my future just to catch more of her work.

The kids and I met up to watch "Judging a Book by its Cover" which is one of those annual "comedy/improv" panels that CONvergence does.  The idea is that a team of panelists is shown a real-life book without its cover and they have to not only guess the title, but make up the story of the plot, as though they're experts on the book.  It's one of those that's intentionally over the top. Even if you've read the actual book, you're supposed to come up with all the silly.  It was very silly.  I enjoyed it a lot.  Plus, I found out that the vicar's husband is none-other-than Paul Cornell, who came over to introduce himself and tell me he enjoyed the panel, etc.  That was kind of cool, because Paul has long been one of the "cool kids" of CONvergence.

My slash panel went much as it always does. As I was telling a friend, the point of it is to be a sort of "a state of the union" of slash--and overview of what's new and what's trending, and while I participate in the slash fandom regularly, I'm not an expert on All of The Things.  So I had a great time because I love everyone on the panel, but I'm not a MAJOR contributor to the discussion.  I talked enough not to feel excluded, but I'm pretty sure Bess and Jo could run that panel on their own. If you're curious what we recommended this year, Jo helpfully put together a great list:

Okay, I have to run off and collect my badge from the car, because of course I left it on the seat... and then I'm off to my 11 am panel today "Women of a Certain Age" with Lois McMaster Bujold.

lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
We won't be heading out to CONvergence until about 11 am today.

Nothing much, in terms of programming, happens until 12:30pm today, anyway, but I think Mason and his friends want to make a full day of it. I was able to pick up my badge and his last night after the secret pro/con com volunteers GoH meet-and-greet, but we'll have to stand around to pick up the other two's and at least Ms. R---- will have have "the Talk" about weapons, I think. Mason might only need to have his "bone saw" peace bonded, and I don't know exactly what weaponry Mr. D---- is carrying, but planning on some standing around in lines is probably wise.

I will get a better picture (we took this late last night with the iPad because Mason wanted to show off his progress to his friends), but, yes, Mason's cosplay finally came all together and thanks to Shawn's sewing skills it looks really tremendous.  This picture does not do it justice, but it's what I have at the moment. (I will get better ones today).  What you can not quite see is that Shawn was able to quick tailor the lab coat so that it has tails and make it into a fair approximation of single-breasted. He's got a tiny little blood-stained dove on his shoulder.

Mason as Medic from TF2

So Mason is set and looks really GOOD this year.  Everyone will easily recognize who he is (so long as they know TF2, of course.)

I did my first skim through the program booklet last night after I brought it home. Besides panels, I have a number of things I need to remember to do this year, so I took some notes on the pocket program booklet in the hopes that I will ACTUALLY remember to do them.

Today, the only thing on the agenda is getting all my young charges their badges, etc., and my 3:30 panel on artificial intelligences (which, knowing that Naomi is on it, I feel confident that it will be thoughtful and intelligent, even if a lot of *my* panel prep involved Wikipedia and Google.)

Mason has a number of to-do things checked off, including a LAN of Overwatch (one of the multi-player games he loves.) So I have no idea how late I'm going to end up staying at con tonight or how things are going to work with getting the various younguns back to their respective homes. Today, I am thinking of as "getting oriented and figuring out logistics" day, because the current plan is that the Terrific Trio want to attend tomorrow (Fri.) together, as well. Thing is, I can absolutely play con chaperone all night, if the kids want, and so long as their parental units are down with them being out late. CONvergence comes but once a year.

I need to tell one story about last night's meet-and-greet. It's going to sound a bit like bragging, but [personal profile] offcntr  will appreciate it.  

In fact, Frank is in town.  Yesterday, the four of us (Frank, his wife Denise, Mason, and I) went out to lunch at Zen Box, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in town. (I should note, I would not necessarily have suggested it, had I known Frank was going to generously offer to pick up the tab.  It's on the pricey side, being in downtown and all.)  At any rate, we had a lovely time catching up and, as a long time SF/F fan, Frank lamented the fact that CONvergece doesn't offer day passes, because he totally would have gone because, OMG, OMG, Seanan McGuire is one of the guest of honor!! (A paraphrase, but the squee was evident.) I offered to get a book signed, because, while there are not a huge number of perks associated with being a pro writer, getting to hang out with other cool writers is DEFINITELY one of them.

So, there I am at the secret pro/con com volunteer meet-and-greet chatting with folks I know there, and all of a sudden I get the proverbial tug on my sleeve from someone who introduces themselves as Seanan McGuire's guest liaison. They say, "Seanan McGuire would really like to meet you, may I introduce you?"  And, I have to admit to being taken aback because, WHAT, WHO, ME? And also, HOW CHARMINGLY FORMAL! So, of course, I jump up and say, yes, and introductions happen and Seanan says, "I just wanted you to know I'm a big fan of your work." And, I said, "Really??!!" because who knew, and also, wow!  But I had to laugh a little and tell her, "How funny, because I am literally tasked this weekend with fangirl-ing you by proxy for my friend Frank."

We then spent the next half hour or so talking about cool bugs, frogs, endangered newts, and her Maine Coons.

A great start to con, if you ask me.
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
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
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.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
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.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
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.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
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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