Boskone 2016!

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Interrupting The Ponce Chronicles for a moment…

The weekend is almost upon us, and that means this year’s Boskone, Boston’s highly popular annual science fiction convention, held at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel. I’ll be there Friday and Saturday. Here’s my schedule:

Dated Science Fiction
Friday 16:00 – 16:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

When the future described in an older SF story contradicts our already-lived experience, sometimes it doesn’t matter. Scientific “predictions” didn’t turn out as imagined. So what? The story still holds up, as in classics like The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine. But other tales much lauded in their time have since lost their luster. Wherein lies the difference? Does the science in science fiction truly matter over time as long as the story is well-told?

Fred Lerner (M), Ellen Asher, Jeffrey A. Carver, Tony Lewis, David Gerrold

Autographing
Saturday 14:00 (2 p.m.) Dealers Room
Seven Easy Steps to Taking Over the Universe
Saturday 15:00 – 15:50, Harbor III (Westin)

The universe would be perfect, if only you were in charge. Today’s the day to stop dreaming and start doing! What are the “must dos” and the “no-nos” that every evil emperor must keep in mind when conquering? Should you be the face of the takeover, or is it better to have a sidekick to throw into the spotlight? How do you handle pesky rebels? And is a catchy dictator name an essential accessory for success?

Leigh Perry (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Esther Friesner, Frank Wu, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Writing: Generating Suspense and Fear with Odyssey Writing Workshop Faculty
Saturday 16:00 – 16:50, Burroughs (Westin)

The Director and guest lecturers of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, held each summer in New Hampshire, discuss the most effective techniques for keeping readers on the edge of their seats and awake long into the night.

Jeanne Cavelos (M), Jeffrey A. Carver, Alexander Jablokov, Allen M. Steele

Worldcon, Spokane, and Wildfire Smoke

We’re enjoying the start of Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention (aka worldcon) in lovely Spokane, Washington. The Spokane (rhymes with can) Convention Center is located right next to the aptly named Spokane River, with a beautiful riverside park. We’ve already seen a number of friends, and I listened to a great talk by a Vatican astronomer on astronomical models that were almost right, but not quite—usually because the astronomers of the time didn’t make the leap from the data they had to imagining the right questions to ask.

The air, however, is a bit thick here. Washington state and neighboring Canada have a lot of wildfires going, and it makes for uncomfortable breathing at times—and eerily red sunsets. My phone camera failed to catch the effect, so I don’t have a good picture. But here’s a map of the fires currently going, and you can see that the U.S. Northwest and Canada are getting the brunt of it. But the smoke is actually carrying all the way across the U.S. on the jetstream.

http://www.smokeybear.com/wildfire-map.asp

On our drive from Seattle to Spokane, we stopped off to see the Grand Coulee Dam, and I talked to a U.S. Forest Service guy who had also stopped to see the dam. He was on his way to a fire. I asked what his role was. He said he manages a group of helicopters that takes firefighters in to rappel down close to fires in hopes of cutting them off before they can spread. Gottta hand it to those guys!

Meanwhile, if you’re attending the con, I hope you’ll stop by one of my events and say hello. Today (Thursday) I’m on a panel about Book View Cafe, an author collaborative. Saturday I’m autographing, and also participating on a panel on Space Opera.

Odyssey Story Slam in New Hampshire!

Are you planning to be in the vicinity of Amherst, New Hampshire on Sunday, November 2? Good! Because there’s going to be a fun event at the LaBelle Winery, which is a Bonfire Story Slam! A group of twenty SF/F writers, including moi, will be reading short-short stories (or, in the case of a few of us, excerpts) around a bonfire. What better setting for stories than a winery?*

This is not only a great event, but also a fund-raiser in support of the terrific Odyssey Writing Workshop, which I have visited on several occasions as a guest lecturer. Come enjoy some stories and s’more stories!

*My best book signing ever was at my favorite local wine store, during a wine tasting.

Back from London, But a Bit Under the Weather

We returned from England a couple of days ago, after going to Loncon 3 at the Excel Center and then spending another five days seeing London, Greenwich, and Nottingham (where lives an old friend of Allysen’s). It was quite an adventure, starting with staying on a sailboat (more on that in another post), and ending with a very nice train ride into Robin Hood country, where we ate at what is reportedly the oldest pub in England. The worldcon was a bit of a wash for me in professional terms, but Allysen and Julia had a fantastic time and I did enjoy myself despite a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that I’ll also save for another post.

Overall, it was a memorable trip, with one major downside. I picked up a nagging cough at the con, and by the time I got home I was pretty nonfunctional with a great, hacking cough and pneumonia. A bit of a setback there. Also, it was kind of a lousy way to celebrate my 65th birthday, which was the 25th. On the other hand, the wonder of still-functional antibiotics was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I’m doing much better now, though I’m still a little sub-par in terms of mental focus and concentration. Not up to writing much yet, but I’m turning into a mean movie-watcher.

There may be a lesson in there, though I can’t be certain. Prior to the trip, I had a bunch of really nasty poison ivy (or something) rashes, which were taking forever to clear up. The dermatologist put me on a short dose of prednisone, which did a remarkable job of clearing up the rashes. But it also may have suppressed my immune system just enough to lay me open to the pneumonia. My take-away from this is, try to avoid travel while taking prednisone.

Also, when in London, have the fish and chips!

London parks are beautiful.

 Did you know they have 500 miles of canals in London?
I didn’t, either.

 The Tower of London, complete with lions. 

Upcoming Appearances!

I haven’t posted about this in a while. I’ll be showing my face in public in two very different events in the next couple of weeks.

This coming weekend, August 7-10, I’ll be conducting several workshop sessions in science fiction writing at the Cape Cod Writers Conference, in Hyannis, MA. It’s not too late to sign up! (At least, I don’t think so.) This one is for the general public, and last I heard, there was still room in my workshop, which is just part of a much larger conference. So if you’re in the area, and you’re interested, check into it right away!

After that, I’ll be in London for Loncon, the annual World Science Fiction Convention! This will be the first worldcon I’ve attended in a number of years, and I’m looking forward to it. Cool fact: My wife Allysen went through Air BnB and got us a place to stay on a boat on the Thames! How can you beat that? I was late in registering, and apparently too late in asking to be put on the program—because they didn’t schedule me for anything, not even an autograph session. Ah well, that may make it a more relaxing trip, after all. 

If you’re at Loncon, keep an eye out and say hello if you see me!

EDIT: I’m signing at 3 pm Friday. Please stop by!

Champlain College: A Fine Place for a Young Writers Workshop

Last week I wrote about the time I’d just spent at Bread Loaf working with high-school aged writers. Well, now I’m just back from a similarly awesome event, the Champlain College Young Writers Conference, in beautiful Burlington, Vermont, overlooking Lake Champlain. This was my first time there, so I had to discover how things worked as I went. While extremely busy, it was a little more laid-back than Bread Loaf. (Sometimes that meant easygoing and sometimes it meant confusing.) I saw a bunch of familiar faces from Bread Loaf, both faculty and students, and that gave me a feeling of comfort. There were also quite a few of us newcomers among faculty, including Craig Shaw Gardner, who rode up with me from Boston. As far as I could tell, everyone had a great time.

For me, there are three great things that come out of this kind of event: First, the chance to work with incredible kids, whose talents and ambitions both inspire and challenge me. (If any of you guys are reading this, thanks! And that includes the terrific college students who helped us as mentors.) Besides their writing, some of them gave “Moth talks” on real events from their own lives, which were funny, touching, alarming. Their final group presentations were priceless.

Second is the opportunity to mix with writers from all sorts of fields—poetry, mainstream fiction, playwriting, nonfiction—whom I would probably never otherwise meet. They feel like valued new friends, even if I only see them once every year or three.

The third thing is a little less obvious, and that’s the chance to learn more about teaching. Most of these guys not only write, but teach for their day jobs. They have quivers full of skills that enable them to keep a classroom full of kids interested and engaged. I try to soak up as much as I can, while I can. For example, Linda Urban at Bread Loaf gave me a great group exercise for learning to write dialogue. (I didn’t have time to try it on this round, but next time!) At Champlain, I sat in on a craft session on writing from different points of view. I was in awe of Sarah Braunstein’s command of the group, and the way she got them to experiment with different viewpoints. I’m keeping notes for next year!

I also discovered that Phil Baruth is a hell of a pool player, as well as a Vermont state senator. But that was after hours, when I learned that excellent craft beer on draft is a staple in downtown Burlington, and when I for the first time tasted gravy fries. And tasted. And tasted again, just to be sure!

P.S. Many thanks to Lesley Wright and Jim Ellefson for inviting me!

Off to Arisia

I’m heading off shortly to Boston’s Westin Hotel on the waterfront to spend some time at Arisia, currently New England’s largest regional SF/F convention. I’ll be on a bunch of panels related to writing and ebook publishing. Tonight at 10, the subject is “Self-editing your SF/F Novel” —self-editing being the first step in rewriting a manuscript, to be combined (preferably) with critique from trusted readers, followed by more revision as needed. I happen to have a self-edit checklist just for the purpose! (If you don’t catch the panel, you can always read my checklist at writesf.com—click the link for Rewriting.)

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about “Punching Up the Action,” “Self-publishing” (particularly, from my point of view, as it relates to self-publishing one’s backlist), and “Plot and Structure.” If you’re in the area, come on down!

I’m also eagerly looking forward to seeing the art show. The artist Guest of Honor is Roger Dean, creator of all those wonderful Yes album covers (which were in fact one inspiration for my novel Panglor)!

On the Web Radio!

That’s where you’ll find me, this Thursday evening August 2, from 9:20 to 10:00 Eastern time! The show is called The Author’s Corner, with host Elaine Raco Chase, at www.trianglevarietyradio.com. It’s a call-in show, and I’ll be talking about my writing and books, and pretty much whatever she asks me. So if you’d like to chat with actual spoken words—almost as if we were talking in person—check it out! Go to www.trianglevarietyradio.com, then click on blog talk radio (a silver bar, halfway down the page). You’ll find a phone number for calling in. Listen to the whole show, from 8 to 1030 p.m., Eastern time! (Forget the boring Olympics—they’ll be on your DVR.)

If you must watch adorable and athletic divers and gymnasts instead of listening to our scintillating conversation, podcasts will be available after the show. (But really, you aren’t going to watch the Olympics Sunday night instead of the Mars landing, are you? I didn’t think so. This is similar.)

Edit: You can listen to the interview as a podcast, by clicking this link:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2012/08/03/authors-corner-review-with-host-elaine-raco-chase

Several other authors precede me in the interview. My own section starts at around 78:30.