I went to Worldcon 76 and didn’t get a tee shirt

Actually, I got TWO. Purchased the official tee (below) and won a very cool Escape Pod shirt during their live podcast.

 

Why did I buy a shirt? It was something of a reward for standing in line for > 90 minutes on Thursday afternoon to get my badge. Ugh. I attended San Jose Comic Con in the same location a few months before, and those lines were never bad. (There’s something to be said for mailing tickets to early registrants.)

So, having arrived a bit later than expected, and spending far too much time getting my hotel/badge, I had to update my plans.

THURSDAY (Updated)

2 – 4 PM – Panels on fighting and historical fencing (for novel research)  Standing in lines

4 – 6 PM – Volunteer duty at the SFWA Suite at the Fairmont. Set up all the beer and soft drinks. Emptied out the ice machines on the 6th and 5th floors!

For dinner, I met up with fellow Viable Paradise alum, Katrina Archer, and some of her friends, but our intended destination, Mezcal, was hosting a company event so they couldn’t accommodate 7 people. (I learned that 6 is a magic number for restaurants. Anything more than that requires a serious sacrifice and early reservations.) We ended up at Élyse, a French/Vietnamese place. Great food and excellent service.

FRIDAY

8 am – SFWA business meeting. The convention center didn’t open its doors at 8, so we had to wait until someone came down and unlocked an entrance for us. Fortunately, everyone else was delayed and there was still breakfast.

A chunk of the meeting addressed the whiney puppy protest (and counter-protest) scheduled for Saturday. There were contingencies and Secret Plans in place, and best we simply ignored the instigator should we encounter him. (As it turns out, the guy did try to crash the event, and was turned away most soundly.)

10 am – Main exhibit area – One of my favorite publishers, NESFA, had a table running. Some years ago at ConJose, I purchased a copy of Norstrilia from them. Now I scanned the complete hardcover collection of Roger Zelazny short fiction and dreamed of my next bonus check.

I also had the pleasure of helping my friend Rosemary Claire Smith, writer of dinosaur stories, get ready for her professional portrait by the talented Richard Man. (He did my picture at the Nebulas a few years back.)

Rosemary and I were Team Red this year:

11 am – Book contract panel. SRO for this one. Some nice reminders about sample contracts and keeping your eyes on the reversion of rights clauses.

2 PM – SFWA Suite – Met up with my mentor for the day, Julia Rios, the amazing editor (Uncanny Magazine/Fireside Fiction/Strange Horizons). Julia and I had crossed paths at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, and she was familiar with my Fireside Fiction flash story, “We Who Stay Behind.”

Julia and I had a great talk about my current WIP, general life challenges, and my writing process. She raised some very interesting questions about my choice of setting for my proposed novel, and helped me get things in perspective. (Sunday night, she would win a Hugo for her editorial work. So I guess can say I knew her before she was famous.)

6 PM – pre-birthday dinner. Two of my compatriots from Paradise Lost – Beth Morris Tanner and Rosemary – plus their friend David D. Levine (author of Arabella of Mars) joined me for dinner at a Greek place, Nemea. We actually started with 7 people, but that broke the reservation system, so three folks went off on their own.

Decent food but the band was too loud.

Later that night, fellow Bay Area writer and baker extraordinaire, Effie Seiberg, stopped by hotel room for a nightcap. She and her partner (Jason) brought me Game of Thrones’ swag from the George R.R. Martin interview up in Redwood City as an early birthday gift.

Incidentally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my best friend Dan Malcor sent me Spider Robinson books before Worldcon, so he gets First Birthday Gift award.

SATURDAY

10 am – Escape Pod – Live! What a great panel. I had the chance to meet and listen to the editors and voice talent for Escape Pod, Pseudo Pod, and Drabblecast as they celebrated their Hugo nomination with a live reading plus CAKE by Effie. Birthday cake before noon – rice crispy treats, pretzels, chocolate!

 

My favorite Escape Pod host, Alasdair Stuart

2 PM – In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison. Another SRO event, in a larger space. They could have filled the main ball room, I suspect. I arrived 20 minutes early and managed to get a seat. Even GRRM had to sit against the back row.

The panelists included Robert Silverberg, David Gerrold, two other writers I didn’t know, a photographer, and Nat Segaloff, who last year published the authorized biography of Harlan.

The whole hour was funny and profane, somber and sweet. My own small experience with Harlan was donating to one of his large lawsuits against an early ISP who didn’t act against people pirating and posting his work. Harlan won that lawsuit, and paid back most of the money to his supporters. “Good faith money,” I think he said. It was paying it forward, in my mind, and for years I kept his postcards on my bulletin board next to my word processor.

After that emotional time, I wandered down to the Dealer Room and saw that Kelly Robson was signing. Unfortunately, Borderland Books had run out of her novel, so I asked her to sign a book plate for my birthday. She told me she had one copy left and it needed a good home:

Also had a surprise birthday  granola “cake” from Waypoint Kangaroo author, Curtis Chen.

4:30 PM – The Fated Sky launch party  Nope. By the time I got through the Dealer Room, I needed a quick rest (standing a lot) before walking over to dinner.

6:00 PM – Birthday dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. The best and worst part of my weekend. Despite our reservations, the restaurant failed to anticipate the crush, and we languished for more than an hour before getting even the generic salads. Our host, a family member of a local writer, picked up our bar tab (huzzah!), but mediocre pasta wasn’t worth it.

What saved the night was the conversation. I was surrounded by smart, funny people: entertainment accountants, attorneys, artists, and plenty o’ writers. One of them is the foremost expert on the Klingon language. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me when the waiters ignored us, and I taught them the Swedish version.

Late night: crammed into the SFWA suite at the Fairmont, where I met a writer and her spouse who had just moved back from Spain, and connected with the legendary writer and editor Eileen Gunn. When we were introduced, I told Eileen that we had met earlier in San Antonio at a writing workshop. She thought for a moment, and said, “I don’t remember the story exactly, but I remember that it was very good.”

I could live on that compliment for a month.

The evening ended with a surprise birthday beer from Athens, Georgia, hand-delivered by Sandy Parsons, whom I met last year in Helsinki:

SUNDAY

10 am – Viable Paradise alumni brunch. A goodly horde of us descended on a hipster eatery, Social Policy. I had already eaten at the hotel, so I settled for some homemade bread, butter, and green tea. Oh, and a little bit of this draught, courtesy of a Finnish writer:

Noon – 5 PM

TBD, but probably SFWA suite, writing, and souvenir shopping.

I didn’t make it to any more panels, but picked up a signed book from David Gerrold, some themed soaps for Lilly-Karin, and a few cool Japanese glasses for Elizabeth.

Hugo Awards

Since Monday was a working day (and my daughter started back at school), I decided to skip the Sunday night festivities. Congrats to all the nominees and winners! It was a truly excellent slate this year.

Afterward

I know I’m forgetting some events, and certainly some people. Cons do that to your brain, especially when you’re trying to have a birthday in the middle of one.

Author/Editor bingo (alpha order)

  • Andy Duncan
  • Curtis Chen
  • David Gerrold
  • Eileen Gunn
  • George R R Martin
  • Greg Bear
  • Greg Benford
  • Joe and Gay Haldeman
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Kelly Robson
  • Larry Niven
  • Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Navah Wolfe
  • Neil Clarke
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Rachel Swirsky
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Spencer German Ellsworth
  • Spider Robinson
  • Teresa Nielsen Hayden

And my fellow less-famous writers (for now):

  • Benjamin Phillip
  • Effie Seiberg
  • Rosemary Claire Smith
  • Beth Morris Tanner
  • The Lauras
  • Karen Birkedahl Rylander
  • SB Divya
  • Katrina Archer
  • Danielle Burkhart
  • Setsu
  • Chris Cornell
  • and many others

Special shout outs to the SFWA gang: Cat Rambo, Terra LeMay, Kate Baker, Kellan Szpara, and Lawrence Schoen!

Finally

Arrived home to find another much-appreciated birthday gift of Swedish matches from my thoughtful cousin, Anna-Karin:

and a very purring Decaf:

Okay, that’s enough for now.

Worldcon 76 schedule

Due to recent stressful events in Mundane Reality, I’m keeping my Worldcon schedule pretty loose. I’m not appearing on any panels, but here’s where you can generally find me.

THURSDAY

I’ll be arriving midday, and then dropping off stuff at my local base (Hyatt).

2 – 4 PM – Panels on fighting and historical fencing (for novel research)

4 – 6 PM – Volunteer duty at the SFWA Suite at the Fairmont. If you’re not attending the opening ceremonies, drop by!

Thursday night is OPEN for dinner, drinks, bar con. Ping me on Twitter, FB, or email.

FRIDAY

8 am – SFWA business meeting

10 am – Main exhibit area

11 am – Book contract panel

2 PM – SFWA Suite (event)

4 PM – Skulking about the autographing area

6 PM – pre-birthday dinner. Join me!

SATURDAY

10 am – Escape Pod – Live

2 PM – In Memoriam: Harlan Ellison

4:30 PM – The Fated Sky launch party

6:00 PM – Birthday dinner and general writerly stuff

SUNDAY

10 am – Viable Paradise alumni brunch

Noon – 5 PM

TBD, but probably SFWA suite, writing, and souvenir shopping.

 

 

Birthday month Cover Reveal

This month features two important events: Worldcon in San Jose and the publication of Strange Economics, an anthology that explores the economic underpinnings of common SF and F tropes. Deal with the devil? Taxes in Fairyland? Got you covered. The book’s at the printer, so I hope to have an ordering link VERY SOON.

(Oh, it’s also my birthday month. If you’d like to get me a present, buy this puppy! I’ll send along a bookplate, or sign it in person if I see you at Worldcon.)

My once and future fan

(Warning: longish)

I recently received some copies of Metaphorosis magazine’s annual anthology (which features one of my trunk stories). As usual, I’ll put one copy on the brag shelf and mail another to my old partner-in-crime, John, a retired professor of American History.

We met in grad school. We worked in the same campus office, both of us sweating through our classes and research, trying to make it to the finish line before our tuition credits evaporated. Our boss, the University Librarian, was a former Ambassador to England, former history professor, and all-around blowhard.

Hard work but good times. John introduced me to photography, beat poetry, and decaf espresso. I shared my love of science fiction and British humor.

After graduation, John took a job at a low-budget publishing house, and I joined him for a bit. When the parent company was bought by another, bigger publisher, we all got fired and sought our fortunes elsewhere. John went on to teach in Bakersfield and I disappeared into IT.

A few years later, John re-married, and invited me to photograph the ceremony (a task he performed at my own wedding). Years passed, and we fell out of touch, even with that new-fangled interweb.

When I began selling my stories on a more regular basis, I tried to reconnect with John. But he stopped responding to his old university email account. I mailed the occasional letter or story to his house, but heard nothing for years.

Finally, John’s wife Lori sent me an email. She told me that my old friend—a great bear of a man, a keen researcher, a talented writer, and generous soul—was now living in a full-time care facility due to the effects of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. He could no longer read or write without great difficulty.

Now, John is not an old man; he’s perhaps 15 years my senior. I can only imagine how hard it must be for him.

His short-term memory is pretty bad, but he can cast back 30 years without straining himself. And that’s about the time we were working side by side.

So when Lori gets one of my packages, she brings it to John and reads it to him. He closes his eyes and hears that brash young man in the words, and smiles, and talks about how much he appreciates my work.

We all need such fans.

The miracle of life

(Note: I’ve been buried lately under new Day Job responsibilities and some life coaching. More on that in another post.)

Tribe,

I’m going to borrow a situation from my best friend, and talk a moment about life. Specifically, the miracle of life.

My best friend is an IT guy for a Big Insurance Company, and part of his job is monitoring servers. He noticed that a server managed in Omaha had dropped off the network, so he discretely emailed the sysadmin there to deal with the problem.

Well. Turns out the Omaha sysadmin had died the day before. My friend then saw that his daily calendar from The Onion had this story:

“WASHINGTON—Saying that despite the possibility you may have briefly been able to distract yourself from the incontrovertible fact by browsing the internet, hanging out with friends, reading, working out, or via some other diversion, sources confirmed Friday that you are still going to die one day and there is nothing you can do to prevent it.”

That reminded me of a line from the stage version of Peter Brooks’ The Mahabharata, where a character is asked about the miracle of life. He replies, “Each day death beats at our door yet we live as if we were immortal.”

So, yeah, you can get caught up political tomfoolery, financial scandals, trash pandas climbing office buildings, or servers going offline. But death is beating at our door.

Maybe we should take note of that and act accordingly.

March Madness ends

Sportsball fans like stats, so here are mine for the month:

  • Publications – 3 (a new record)
    • “The Astrologer of the Fifth Floor”
    • “The Long View”
    • “Just Another Night on Telegraph”
  • Publications in premier issues – 3* (again, a record)
    • Abandoned Places – the first imprint of Shohola Press (“Astrologer”)
    • Reading 5×5 – first fundraising anthology from Metaphorosis Publishing (“The Long View”)
    • Factor Four Magazine – Issue 1 (“Just Another Night”)
  • Number of stories out for submission – 1 (lowest number in 10 years)
  • Number of stories in progress – 3
  • Number of stories in the trunk – 2
  • Number of stories that have at least some notes but aren’t really in progress – 8

Thanks to all of my tribe who helped me achieve these milestones. You folks are the best.

Coming up next month: Futurescapes in Utah and the Leprechaun Mafia!

*”The Long View” also appeared in an expanded “Writing” edition of Reading 5X5, published simultaneously.

March Madness continues

It’s been a busy month here on the island: new kittens, two anthology publications, and now, one of my favorite stories sold to a new anthology.

“Supply and Demand Among the Sidhe” is going to be in Strange Economics. This is my first sale to a Kickstarter-backed project, so I can tick that box on the Writer Bingo card™.

By the way, the Reading 5×5 fundraiser comes in two flavors: Readers and Writers. The Writers’ version has extra stories and exercises. Just so you know.

 

 

Throwback Thursday

This week I received my pre-release copy of Abandoned Places, an impressive new anthology that features Ray Bradbury, Edgar Allen Poe, and a lot of younger, more active writers like myself. (You’ll find my story, “The Astrologer of the Fifth Floor,” on page 101.)

A day later, I opened the mail to discover a copy of Town & Country Creative Breads,  the first book I edited for a client. I’d picked up the job through a referral from my doctor. He had another patient who was putting together a book of family recipes and health information and needed an editor. I was working part-time as an English teacher, so of course I took the gig. The writer, Ferne Chapman, was a lovely older woman from North Dakota, and we had a pretty good time on the project.

That was back in 1992. I moved from Seattle to the Bay Area a few years later and forgot about the book. Probably have lost my copy during the subsequent moves.

Last weekend, I was updating my author page on Amazon and did a search on my birth name, Karl Schlosser. Town & Country Creative Breads popped up on a used bookstore page, so I ordered it. Happy to say it’s now on my publication shelf with the new kid.

 

It was bound to happen

I have an Amazon author page. Check it out:  www.amazon.com/author/karldandenell

The Reading 5 X 5 anthology is available today! I contributed a story seed for the Hard SF section, plus some original fiction, “The Long View.”

Finally, I’ll be reading next Monday, March 12, 2018 at 6 PM at Book Passage in San Francisco, along with my editor, Chris Cornell. Come and hear the madness of Abandoned Places!

Fuzzy gets his day (AKA The Thursday Story)

This week my story, “On the Snark Watch,” appeared in Perihelion SF. I’m thrilled that it’s found a home.

Without breaking certain oaths, I can say that I wrote this story on a short deadline, and I had to follow a writing prompt (Military SF on a space base) and include a toy. That toy was a pen. Its name is “Fuzzy.”

Now, I’d a read a bit of Military SF, but I’d never attempted to write anything like that. Too bad. Here was my chance.

The actual writing process took about 12 hours, and included a panicked late-night visit to my writing instructor (who was himself a vet) to ask, “What do you call that place on the ship where you keep the munitions?” He also suggested I add a lot more cursing (which, sadly, I toned  down for various editors).

In the end, I drew upon conversations with friends and family who’d done their time in uniform, stirred in a bit of handwavium, and added a hint of Bug Eyed Monsters.

Enjoy.