Friday, August 28, 2009

SF Friday linkage

I've been doing way more reading than writing lately (except at the day job). I'm hoping to finish a rewrite this weekend on one story and work on another short I started a month ago. Tomorrow morning I'm going to a presentation on giving presentations with digital projectors. A friend of mine is giving it and maybe he can tell me what to do when the venue's outlet is wonky and your laptop battery is dying in the middle of your presentation.

Today, was a very sad day for me. My dear friend and number one fan passed away on Monday. The funeral was today. She was such a loving woman that knew how to speak her mind. I'm going to really miss her. She was almost 92 and was leading the conga line at her great-granddaughter's wedding not too long ago.

In SF news:

Pantechnicon has had to fold. They were attacked by a virus and the site could not be restored. (I erroneously had Abandoned Towers listed here but that one is alive and well - my bad.) I'd like to play the grief AND sinus headache card on this one. Horrible blunder. That's how rumors start!

I don't know that it will take its place, but I do like balance... I got an email from the editor of a new PDF H/F/SF magazine. It's called Strange, Weird and Wonderful.

Big kudos to Ellen Asher and Jane Yolen on their World Fantasy lifetime achievement awards.

Here's a youtube video mashup you might enjoy on SyFy Wire: Watch the History of SF Visual Effects in 5 Minutes.

Apparently (How do these things happen?), I'm on the publicity committee for WorldCon 2011 in Reno, aka RENOvation. I'll be helping to spread the word and manning tables and parties at local cons.

Here's one last reminder about the Tachyon party in SF this weekend:
Come celebrate!!
-- Tachyon Publications --
A San Francisco-based independent press
publishing quality
science fiction & fantasy
"Saving the good book at a time!"
Sponsor of SF in SF
Sunday, August 30th
2 PM - 6 PM
Borderlands Books
866 Valencia Street (at 20th St.)
San Francisco, CA 94110
Featuring the Emperor Norton awards, a star-studded tribute to the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction's 60th Anniversary (with a special giveaway gift for the first 50 guests!), food and drink, and lots of very special guests,
like authors Peter S. Beagle & Richard A. Lupoff!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Story sale, and SF and FB fun

I just heard from Every Day Fiction that they want "Grey Drive." I don't have a publication date yet, but you can bet I'll blab it around as soon as I hear. It's a SF flash piece that explores the next thing in media storage. Shout out if you know the answer. ;)

I posed a question on my Facebook wall about profile page vs. fan page. I received some great feedback. I'm not really keen on the idea of getting a fan page. But, on the other hand, my personal friends may thank me. I got the FB account because of my writing. Most of my wall posts have to do with writing. But I'm not going to turn away friends and family. I just don't like the one-way nature of the fan page.

Then imagine my surprise when my google alert for Ann Wilkes this evening takes me to an Ann Wilkes fan page, with my information, that I didn't create. Am I losing it or did FB create it when I created the July event that it lists?

Why do I have an Ann Wilkes google alert? Well, sometimes that's how I find reviews of Awesome Lavratt and other press. And once I even caught a pirate: One of my stories appeared on an ezine without my knowledge or permission. For writers, it's a must. It's not vain, it's sane. >groan<

I finished The Unincorporated Man. My first impression? Deliciously disturbing. My interview with the Kollin brothers and the review over at Mostly Fiction will be available in September.

Meantime, Dani (Kollin) sent me this link to a comic strip about it at Unshelved.

Now I'm reading Japanese SF (in English): The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa.

For any SF fans so inclined, Atomic Tarantula has some interesting T's that only other SF fans will "get". And they're having a two-for sale.

Tachyon is having an anniversary party at Borderlands Books in San Francisco this Sunday, August 30, 2-6 PM.

Tachyon Publications' 14th Anniversary Party!!
Please join us for the annual Tachyon Publications Anniversary Party!
The Emperor Norton awards, a special Tachyon giveaway, food, refreshments, and lots of special guests!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Finally Friday, but good things comin'

Finally Friday. It's been a crazy week and I took the whole week off from writing (aside from the day job as a trade journal staff writer). The weekend will be devoted to a rewrite of a flash piece requested by an ezine and finishing another SF story I've been working on. In between I'll be dealing with online forms, Quicken and other assorted tasks I'll have to do on the Mac in the hot office upstairs unless I can figure out how to get my Apple Airport working again after replacing the modem.

Saw Ingrid Michaelson perform at Latitude last Friday. What a talent! And excellent stage presence! She's really funny. And she plays the ukulele. Is that great or what?

So, have I had my head in the sand? Did everybody know about this but me? Well, maybe left coast folks are just now finding it? I found it on LinkedIn. Oh, I suppose you want to know what "it" is. Isn't it annoying how I do that? I like suspense. There's a SF TV talk show that airs in DC but is available online. It's called Fast Forward: Comtemporary Science Fiction.

I have some more great interviews coming up. I just added Jasper Fforde to the line up. :) And Michael Hanlon, science editor for the Daily Mail and author of Eternity: Our Next Billion Years.

And I have some ladies coming up: Juliette Wade, Jennifer Brozek and Cat Rambo.

Because I "see" my novels...because I vomit dialog...because I dream like I'm in a movie...because I've been meaning to write some screenplays...I'm soooo considering going to the Northern California Screenwriter's Expo and Pitchfest. I have a time share next door to the venue in Napa. Very, very tempting. See my smiling profile face to the right? That was on vacation there. See how happy I'd be? I just found out about it this week, from a social networking site, I think. Like I keep saying - social networking pays off.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flash Fiction contest winning entry - Absorbed by Nicole Krueger

Congratulations once again to Nicole for winning my Attack of the REAL blob flash fiction contest. Here's her winning story.

by Nicole Krueger

Tina squats on an overturned bucket, head between her legs, trying to breathe without vomiting. The bobbing of the charter fishing boat makes her stomach heave, but she’s determined to hold on to her breakfast. Damned if she’s going to be Absorbed with the reek of puke still in her mouth.

At the front of the boat, a man in brown druidic robes intones to the dozen or so people around him: “…the One, the Collective. Once we are integrated into the Akashic stream, once we return to the primordial mud from whence we crawled, we shall know and see all that is, has been and ever will be…”

Tina—no, not Tina, she reminds herself; here, she is Sage Willowdusk, a name she chose carefully but cannot seem to apply to herself internally, feeling absurdly self-conscious whenever she uses it out loud—Sage tries to listen to his words, his words of significance, the last words she will ever hear, but the buzzing in her ears and the motor of the charter boat make his voice sound like a radio broadcast on a fuzzy AM station. This is her chance to prepare herself, to bring her energy into harmony, and all she can manage is to not stain her Jack Purcells.

The robed speaker, Panther Blackthorn, raises his arms and bows his head, leading the passengers in meditation. He’s a short, square man, with tightly trimmed brown hair, quarter-size spectacles, and a beard that tangles down to his chest. Sage met him at a drumming circle back when she was still Tina, back when she would bite down on her pillow every night with wet tears on her face, back when she was searching for something to make the evenings shorter and less devastating. He was kind and looked into her eyes as though he saw a specialness in her, and when the circle ended he wordlessly handed her a business card. It took an entire week to muster the courage to call.

Discovering these people… it had been her something.

Then a dark, globby mass was spotted in the Arctic, its miles and miles of hairy goo mystifying the scientists who rushed out with their test kits. Panther had been the only one to recognize it for what it was. He knew right away, just like he always knew things, like he knew Sage was having doubts that night he'd taken her aside after group and spoken to her gently about her tendency to give up.

One by one the passengers emerge from their trance and begin milling about, their eyes silently connecting and sliding away. From this point on, they will approach their destiny without speaking; Panther calls speech a trapping of the physical world that obscures more than it expresses. A freckled girl with curly red hair and unshaven legs lays a hand on Sage's shoulder, her eyes radiating love and excitement. Willowmoon has always been particularly nice to her, and Sage thinks if only they'd had more time, they might have developed a real friendship. She's tried to express this once, but Willow merely gave her a painfully earnest look.

"Ohhh, but once we're Absorbed, we'll be one with each other, and everyone else. It'll be better than friendship."

Sage nodded then.

"Oh yes. Of course. So much better."

Now she musters a weak smile for the woman she would have liked to share a movie and a bottle of wine with. She stands, and her legs quail, but she remains on her feet and even manages a few steps. The people around her, people with whom she's spent countless evenings, seem like strangers in this Alaskan dusk. A woman with long blond braids clasps white-knuckled hands over her abdomen, her face blank. A skinny man, with a beaked nose and shiny pink skin, wears a faint smile. A black-haired girl with a lip ring and a furrowed brow stares at her boots, refusing to meet anyone's eye. They are alone, all of them, wandering the deck like ghosts, as if they have already checked out.

The fishing boat chugs to a stop and its motor cuts out, leaving behind the silence of lapping water. Sage lines up with the others to stare over the side. And there it is, just below the surface: a giant clot that roils and oozes with the waves, stretching out as far as she can see.

The sight makes her shiver, makes the back of her neck crawl.

It's the energy of it, the life force. We are in a place of power.

It is time. They strip out of their clothes, not bothering to fold anything. Each member has a bucket, overturned near the edge of the boat. They mount these now, Panther in the center, and clasp hands. Sage barely has time to think, This is happening, to draw one last breath, and they're going over, they're falling, they're plunging into the frigid water, right into the center of that black mass.

Then everything is churning, and she tries not to struggle, but she can sense them now, their panic and terror. She thrashes uncontrollably. Her head breaks the surface, and she feels the ooze surrounding her, pressing against her skin. The sacred primordial mud gropes at her with the insistence of a seventeen-year-old boy.

When the thing begins digesting her legs, she can no longer hold it in. Tina spews up her breakfast into the icy Arctic. And after the sea regains its calm, the waves settling back into their placid rhythm, it continues to float there, undisturbed, while the sunset paints the water red.

Nicole Krueger is a book publicist, freelance writer and former newspaper reporter. She writes fiction, poetry and a book blog in her spare time. Her compulsion to write is constantly at war with her desire to bury her nose in a book.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Attack of the REAL blob flash fiction contest winner

Wow! This was hard. Good thing I don't do this for a living. I so enjoyed all the wonderful stories people sent in. And my apologies for being a day late with the announcement.

We need a drum roll here...

Oh, first a refresher for those who don't know what the heck I'm talking about. On July 17th I ran a little flash (under 1K words) fiction contest in answer to the news item in the Anchorage Daily News concerning an actual blob off the shore of Alaska. Scientists have since discovered it's algae after all, but we had fun speculating - spec-fic style.

The news story had the following information on the blob:

1) It's not an oil slick
2) It's organic
3) It's gunky
3) It has hair-like strands
4) It's 12-15 miles long
5) No one has ever seen anything like it

The decision was tough. But, as in The Highlander, there can be only one...

Congratulations to Nicole Krueger for her story, "Absorbed."

The story will appear right here on Tuesday and she'll be receiving a signed copy of Awesome Lavratt by yours truly. Great job, Nicole! Excellent character development in so short a piece.

Because this was such a tough call, I want to name two honorable mentions:
Emily Bush for "Excuse Me, Waiter, There's a Space Elevator in my Primordial Soup" and Bob Myers for his untitled entry.

You can still read Bob's if you're a member of the Science Fiction Readers, Writers, and Collectors group on LinkedIn. He posted it there. I do also appreciate the sense of humor in these two stories that came close to taking the prize. Join the LI group and read Bob's. I'm sure Emilie's will still find a home somewhere where you can read it, too.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interview with SF author and futurist, David Brin

Meet David Brin, a science fiction author and so much more. He's a scientist, inventor, speaker, futurist, cast member and technical consultant. He speaks not just about his books and science fiction, but about science, our future, technology, transparency, security and politics. He's also been and continues to be a cast member, writer and participant in science shows on TV and radio. You simply must check out his long list of creds on his website and browse his blog, Contrary Brin. Oh, and he's one of my all-time favorite authors. I was just asked for a list of several books for a 16 year-old to read as an introduction to the genre and his books made the list twice: Practice Effect and the Uplift War series.

AW: I know you're a scientist and inventor. Does the day job ever feed your muse?

DB: What day job? Everything I do is a hobby. Some of them happen to pay, but I look at everything as participation in a renaissance. All of it feeds everything else.

AW: The Uplift series was a sf masterpiece in my opinion. Do you have any more multi-volume novels on the horizon?

DB: Oh, if only I had the self-copying device portrayed in Kiln People! I have dozens of story lines - some of them in cool series -- but I'll only live to write a few of them. Alas.

AW: Do you have any plans to write more in the world of Stratos?

DB: Glory Season is a perfect example. I have a whole universe about the slower-than-light "peripatetic" emissaries, visiting farflung members of the Human Phylum... plus more on Stratos.

AW: Did your interest in privacy issues begin in your fiction or did your existing views find a freer voice there? (I add the word freer here because you also broadcast your views outside of fiction in your blog and in speaking engagements.)

DB: I am concerned about one thing, above all, understanding how and why humanity escaped (at last) from its old, vicious cycle of feudalism and began a tremendous enlightenment. One that included vital things like science, democracy, human rights and science fiction. I've come to see that openness -- including openness to free-flowing criticism -- has been the key. Secrecy is the thing that makes every evil far worse. And it is especially pernicious when practiced by the mighty.

But the real irony is inside the sci fi community. The trend toward feudal-romantic fantasy may seem harmless. But dreaming wistfully about kings and lords and secretive, domineering wizards is simply betrayal. Pure and simple. Those bastards were the enemy for 6,000 years. Some kings and wizards were less bad than others. But they were all "dark lords." We are the heirs of the greatest heroes who ever lived. Pericles, Franklin, Faraday, Lincoln, Einstein. Any one of whom was worth every elf and dragon and fairy ever imagined.

AW: What's your favorite sf novel?

DB: Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner, was simply creepy how far ahead it looked and how accurate its vision was. Lord of Light, by Zelazny, was a breakthrough in multicultural SF that was also gorgeous and exciting and all about rebellion! LeGuin's Lathe of Heaven was darn near perfect. Vinge's Rainbow's End is a gem of recent "singularity fiction."

AW: What was your funniest experience at a convention or other speaking engagement?

DB: Walking on stage as the musician David Crosby was walking off, and simultaneously saying, "hey, I'm one of your biggest fans!"

AW: What was it like writing a Foundation book?

DB: Like breathing. It flowed easier than any other novel I ever wrote. Because openings are hard for me while endings are easy... I always get them right. Foundation's Triumph was all about ending -- tying together all the loose ends -- a tremendously detailed and crafted universe that already existed. I could see where it all led -- where Isaac's vision had to lead. And I simply put it down.

AW: What sparked your interest in graphic novels? Did your kids have anything to do with it?

DB: Sure, a bit. But mostly, I like experimentation. Creating the script and art guide for The Life Eaters was very much like writing and directing a movie, especially with the incredible artist Scott Hampton executing the vision. It was runner-up for the big graphic novel prize in France, where they adore the genre and think it to be High Art. Alas, DC Comics printed maybe twelve copies in the States.

AW: What are you working on now?

DB: I'm hard at work on a sprawling near future novel called "Existence." About all the hundred ways the world might end... unless we skirt the right path.

My latest book, Through Stranger Eyes is a collection of of my liveliest essays and book reviews, Including some provocative essays about Star Wars, Tolkien and Trek! See also my recent novella - "Shoresteading" - set in a near future of rising seas and tensions, offers a glimpse into my next novel. This fast paced tale of mystery and alien artifacts is posted online for free on Jim Baen's Universe Magazine.

Also on Universe is my new serial-comedy "The Ancient Ones." SF comedy is hard! But I think folks will get some har hars.

Oh, and Recorded Books Inc has just released yet another audio reading of one of my books -- this time Brightness Reef -- read by the great George Wilson.

AW: Can we find you on TV now?

DB: I was a cast member on the History Channel show "The ArchiTechs" as well as History's most popular show ever: "Life After People." I'm now appearing frequently on the science shows "The Universe" and "Alien Worlds."

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Writing, Science and Science Fiction

Here's my literary news:

My story, "Your Smiling Face" has been reprinted over at Rose City Sisters. It was fun to rework it for that market. I had to have a Pasadena tie-in and three links.

My review of The Book from the Sky by Robert Kelly is up at Mostly Fiction.

I received another rejection today. I'm thinking that this piece is destined for the anthology I'm meant to write a story for before the first of September. I just have to tweak it a little for it to fit the parameters.

And for SF fans:

Here's some food for thought from a Future Brink. Solar storm activity in 2012 is expected to be major. Hmmmm...isn't that the end of the Mayan calendar? Speaking of which, I got another book in the mail: In the Courts of the Sun by Brian D'Amato. The author is an expert in all things Mayan. This is a speculative fiction novel, the first in a trilogy.

I found a new SF site with resources, convention lists, author lists, forums etc. It's very comprehensive, and built around award winning authors. Rob Sawyer shared the link to Worlds Without End on Facebook. Please do check it out.

And new from Ridley Scott...a prequel Alien movie. SciFiDimensions has the story.

Stay tuned for an interview with David Brin on Friday. The winner of the Attack of the Blob Flash Fiction Contest will be announced on Saturday, August 15, with the winning story appearing the following Tuesday, August 18.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

A chat with Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson has authored over one hundred novels, almost half of those appearing on national and international best seller lists. He has co-authored 10 books in the Dune series and is currently on tour with his latest, The Winds of Dune with Brian Herbert, which hit the bookstores this week.

AW: Tell me about collaborating. Can you describe your process with Brian Herbert on the Dune series?

KJA: Brian and I have written over 2 million words together; we’re good friends and we love brainstorming. When we’re starting work on a new novel -- The Winds of Dune, for example -- we’ll meet together and spend a few days talking out the plot arcs, the scenes, the characters, the overall novel. We expand it into a chapter-by-chapter outline, then divide up the chapters, assigning them based on our strengths. We each write half of the book, then swap chapters and edit each others’ work; the file goes back and forth until we have polished the whole thing maybe ten times. That’s how the prose seems seamless, because we’ve both worked and reworked each chapter.

AW: When did you first know you were going to make it as an author?

KJA: Even when I started to submit stories to magazines, I was convinced I was going to get published, which is why I was so persistent in sending manuscript after manuscript. However, an author, even a very successful author, can never rest easy. Publishers fold, readers move on to other interests. I’ve published a hundred books, 48 of which have been national or international bestsellers, I’ve won a bunch of awards, but I don’t rest on my laurels. I always try to challenge myself with a novel that fascinates me, and one that will fascinate the readers.

AW: How many more Dune books can readers expect?

KJA: Frank Herbert mapped out about 25,000 years of human history, so there’s plenty of room to tell more stories. We currently have two additional Dune books under contract, The Throne of Dune(2011) and Leto of Dune (2013), but after those books are finished we’re considering going back to the post-Butlerian Jihad time period to talk about the formation of the Great Schools (the Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Mentats, the Swordmasters).

AW: Has the shake-up in the publishing industry affected you? How?

KJA: Promotion and travel budgets have been drastically cut; one of my book tours was scrapped when the publisher cancelled all author tours, some of the publicity has been cut back, my editors don’t travel as much to conventions, so I can’t see them as often as I usually do. Several of my friends in the industry are now gone. The economic downturn has hit publishing hard.

AW: What was the most challenging piece of fiction you ever wrote? Why?

KJA: I spent three years researching and writing a very detailed and complicated historical fantasy, Captain Nemo, the life story of Jules Verne’s greatest character and his fictional friendship with Verne. I had to read stacks of Verne’s work, many historical references, study a great deal of geography and exploration journals. It also turned out to be one of my favorites among all my novels, so I think it was worth the extra effort.

AW: What has been your most memorable convention experience?

KJA: I just completed a stint as a special guest with Brian Herbert at the San Diego Comic-Con, which was a hurricane with fans -- 130,000 attendees, huge crowds at our panels, long lines at our autographings. And just the week before I was at OSFest, a very small convention in Omaha, where some of the con staff brewed a special batch of India Pale Ale for me, which they named after the Seven Suns series. From gigantic cons to small cons, they’re all special.

AW: Have you considered writing in another genre or medium?

KJA: Well, I’ve written novels, short stories, comics and graphic novels, and rock music, so I’ve covered a good portion of the available media (though I’d like to do a movie or TV script). In genres, I’ve done SF, F, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, even historical. I don’t really think in terms of genre, but of a story that captures my attention.

AW: Who encouraged you most when you started writing for publication?

KJA: I had some teachers in high school who were very supportive, and then college friends who were all aspiring writers and we formed a very active support group and workshop. After that, I maintained a circle of friends who offered advice and resources.

AW: Do you have any advice for new writers?

KJA: Be persistent and never stop learning how to improve your craft. Think of having a career as an author along the same lines as being a professional athlete. You don’t just break in after one or two tryouts; you have to work out daily and keep yourself at the top of your form.

AW: What are you working on now?

KJA: I am doing my final edit on the second “Terra Incognita” novel, The Map of All Things, and Brian Herbert and I have completed our first draft on our original SF trilogy, Hellhole. That, and getting ready for more than a month of book-signing appearances for The Winds of Dune.

Visit Kevin at

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spocon Con report

Spocon Day one, Friday, July 31

I arrived at the con early enough to hit the dealers' room before opening ceremonies. I ran into Maggie Bonham (M H Bonham) before opening ceremonies and invited her to read with me at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading in the morning. All the local Broads had other plans or were getting ready for WorldCon.

Last year, opening ceremonies was very entertaining, with Timothy Zahn and filking by Char MacKay. Of course, the bat flying around the auditorium was a nice touch, although no one could take credit for that but the bat.

This year was ... different. I should probably stop right there before I slam the poor con com. But now you're curious, aren't you? Well, when Dennis Gagaoin said that we were about to reap the benefits of the con com's months of fighting, that was clearly not a good sign. I'm not sure if the program they had originally planned fell through because someone bailed or they never truly spent time organizing the opening ceremonies. What followed was a lot of people standing up and pinch-hitting. It would have been better to just have one person apologize for the lack of any formal opening ceremonies and say, we have a great weekend planned for you filled with this, this and this. Now go have fun. But no one asked me. Luckily, I live two states away so I can't be tempted to sort them out.

Having taken two planes to get there, and having to read at 9AM, I begged off of further con fun for the evening.

Day two, Saturday, August 1

Only one person showed up at the 9AM reading, so the readers outnumbered the listeners. I read from a story that is set in Chelan, WA and begins with a tragedy that really happened there in the 40s. Our audience of one cried. Maggie read from her new novel, Lachlei. We traded books, so I get to read the rest. :)

I stayed with my writing buddy, Sue Bolich, who lives near Spokane. (Way better than the dorm experience of last year – don't get me started.) I had met Andrea Howe of Blue Falcon Editing last year. It wasn't long before the four of us were the four musketeers for the remainder of the weekend, beginning with a panel Saturday morning. When we weren't paneling, we were eating, talking and laughing our heads off.

My schedule of panels, as I said before, was a perfect fit for me. And my co-panelists were all marvelous, informative, polite and entertaining. My-Twit-Book, Sci-Fi and You Are you kidding me? What do I spend more time doing than writing? The artist guest of honor, John Picacio was on the panel and brought some pointed Twitter questions. I wasn't much help with those since I'm still ignoring the (bird) call to tweet. We did have a lively discussion about posting or tweeting etiquette and how to silence people who fill up our walls or phones with a constant barrage. I met John in the green room (which moved not just once, as it did last year, but twice!). He was asking about the table tents and if his was there. I didn't recognize him and said, "It would help if you told me your name." He's apparently forgiven me.

My next panel was in the same room ten minutes later. Another subject near and dear to my heart (and my writing): grammar. Andrea sat next to me on this one and after she made a Princess Bride and Firefly reference in asides to me, I knew: friends for life. Maggie, Sue and I had made lunch plans already. I invited Andrea and our little band of geeky, literary lasses was born.

I shared a signing with Patty Briggs. Her line was none-stop, a dozen people deep for the whole hour. I didn't get a chance to speak with her, but she has obviously made an impression on a good number of people. I hope I can get to know her at a future con. I signed one copy of Awesome Lavratt.

Day 3, Sunday, 8/2

Sunday was yet another 9AM appearance. Good thing there was no drinking – or at least none that we bothered to find. The panel was on Worldbuilding. What could I possibly say sitting next to L E Modesitt, SpoCon's writer guest of honor? Sue, Maggie and I still managed to look half-way intelligent. I picked up a couple of good book recommendations along the way: Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, both by Jared Diamond, and A History of Food by Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat.

Three of the four musketeers (minus Andrea) had a nice conversation with Lee (Modesitt) in the hall after the panel. Very personable guy. And he redefines dapper. Mark Ferrari asked him how many vests he owns. His reply was something over 80! I had interesting chats with Mark in the (first) green room about publishing and writing. And I lugged Mark's hefty tome, The Book of Joby, up to Washington just to get his autograph.

Mark and I were on a panel last year in which we created a story for the audience on the spot. What fun! He read Awesome Lavratt during the con and praised my sense of humor during the panel – bless him! We've been pen pals ever since. He was the artist guest of honor at SpoCon last year.

Something new this year was a charity thing where people bought little matchboxes with slips of paper in them for a buck. The slips of paper had a name of a guest or pro and a greeting. They had to find the person and offer the greeting. Then they got a donated item from that person's goody bag. It was a nice idea, but will need some fine tuning for next year. I especially enjoyed signing one of my books (out of the goody bag) for an eleven-year-old girl.

My con report is rather limited. I didn't attend the masquerade, I don't game and I had to catch the flight back before the closing ceremonies. Still worse, thanks to the TSA (They searched my husband's luggage and it poofed.), I had no camera for the trip. I should have picked up a disposable. Anyway, I took one picture with my phone and had a passerby take another. They looked great when I peered at them at the time. Apparently, not so much...

L to R: Sue, Maggie, Andrea

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