readercon

Post-Con Pile of Thoughts: Readercon 2013 edition

I’m home and somewhat rested, so in between all the things that must get done today (and this week), I’ve got to start my Readercon posts. I wasn’t so good about them last year as I was the year before, and this time the plan is to look–in depth–at what this convention was for me. First up, some notes:

  • The logistics were not good. Travel meant driving to Boston Thursday, and home Sunday, and of the three people in the car I am the only driver, so it was me behind the wheel for 7 or 8 hours each way. Add to that never getting enough sleep at conventions, starting the trip tired since my son was sick all week, and other annoyances, meant it was a unpleasant experience getting to the con and a miserable one getting home. Changes for next year include potentially: staying until Monday so that Sunday can be relaxing, visiting with friends, and getting enough sleep; taking the train (which means driving an hour to the station, and getting from the Boston station to the hotel) or flying (never a non-stop because our airport is small, and still commuting from airport to hotel), or… I’ve got time to weigh the options.
  • The hotel had problems. No bar, no lobby. They lost my books for a day even though I had delivery confirmation and asked the desk staff in person four times. This was after I’d called ahead to confirm they could handle deliveries to guests, had a box of my new collection shipped to the hotel, and paying for faster, Thursday, shipping. The staff finally only found them after I planted myself in the registration area and waited for 45 minutes–while the person sent to look went, came back empty-handed, saw me, sighed, went off again, and then found the box. I called down Sunday for a luggage cart, to be told there was a wait and I should be downstairs 30 minutes later–only to then be told there was no list, no plan, and people should just hang out til one comes by. The sandwich cart they provided a few times a day sold out quickly and they left again instead of getting more food; the promised “pub food menu” didn’t include the chicken strips/chicken wings/other bar staples we usually ordered; internet you paid for in your room didn’t work in the meeting rooms (where panels were held–technically the 3rd floor, and the room internet worked on the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th floors). Oh, and the smaller of the two Sunday brunch buffet options was still $25 a person.
  • I saw nearly everyone I meant to see, and a hundred other people besides. Since most of that was, “Oh, hey, you’re Carrie Cuinn, I wanted to meet you!” as I was walking to one panel or another, I missed most of the panels I wanted to attend. But the conversations were often important, the people were almost entirely friendly, and I got a lot more work done than I was expecting.
  • SFWA was on a lot of people’s minds. I had five different women recognize my name from the online forum and make a point to tell me how much they appreciated my posts there. They all said they felt uncomfortable posting themselves. They worried they’d be shouted down, dismissed, insulted–and they were glad I was saying the things they’d have said themselves. I was floored, and grateful. I didn’t set out to be anyone’s hero, I just wanted to make the Bulletin a more professional publication, and ended up saying the things I thought were obvious, logical, and true, during the discussion of that and other topics.
  • Many, many, other SFWA members and officers took the time to say hello, too, reminding me that the organization is generally a welcoming place, with a smaller percentage of grumpy iconoclasts and a much larger percentage of forward-thinking, open-minded, community-oriented writers and editors. Between hanging out all weekend with my friends Eugene Myers (now our East Coast rep), Fran Wilde, and Wes Chu, an hour-long conversation with Treasurer Bud Sparhawk at the official party Friday night, catching Ken Liu and Mike Allen between panels Saturday and Sunday, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Neil Clarke, and Kate Baker (who had a TARDIS skirt!) at a party Saturday night, and meeting up with Gordon van Gelder, Scott Edelman, Michael Burstein, and Athena Andreadis on Sunday–as well as others who stopped for brief greetings as we passed in the hall… I felt I got time with a good spectrum of the members. It’s nice to be able to point to an event like Readercon as proof that our members are a spectrum–there is no one type of member, or SFWA style of writing, just a bunch of professional writers who all think SF/F is a genre worth promoting.
  • A quick dash into the dealer’s room turned into an hour of chatting with Ian Rogers and Gemma Files, a reminder that I need to read more of their work. I bought Ian’s SuperNOIRtural, and he bought my collection.
  • I took part in Saturday night’s Speculative Fiction Poetry Reading. It was my first time reading poetry aloud, and the piece (a pantoum about a robot, an interstellar treasure hunter, and who we choose to be with at the end) was well-received. Since I only finished it a few minutes before the reading, I’m revising it today. I like it better already, and by request will be sending it to Mythic Delirium. (more…)

The Vague Shape of My Week

Monday:

Dagan Books work, editing a client’s novel, writing on “Editors of Gor”* and another story for submitting to a market. More wrangling with Amazon to get the right version of my print books.**

Blog post scheduled for this afternoon, quick reviews of the last few months of Nature‘s Futures section (flash science fiction).

Tuesday:

Dagan Books work, submitting a short to a market. The introduction to Bibliotheca Fantastica (written by Don Pizarro) will be posted to the Dagan website.

Wednesday:

Bibliotheca Fantastica goes live in the evening, and will be available for sale on the Dagan website.

Plus I have: job interview, editing a client’s novel, writing on “Editors of Gor”, cooking and final packing for Readercon. 

Thursday-Sunday:

Readercon. (YAY!) SF Signal review of my collection goes up Friday. I’m not 100% sure if I’m going to tweet/post from Readercon.

What can you do this week?

  • Buy a copy of my collection, Women and Other Constructs, from me, or Amazon (print or Kindle).
  • Add WaOC to your Goodreads shelf.
  • Contact me for a review copy or interview request.
  • Hire me as an editor or book packager (click here to talk to me about your project, or here to read my editing resume).
  • Pick up your copy of Bibliotheca Fantastica when it’s available. You can also follow the editors, Claude and Don, on Twitter.
  • See me at Readercon! Let me know here or in the usual places if you’re going to be there.

I’m going to be off the Internet for big chunks of time, because ALL THE THINGS have to get done; the above blog posts (including this one) are set to auto-post, so my “being online” at that time isn’t necessarily true.

* You do know that “Editors of Gor” is a parody, similar in style to “Houseplants of Gor”? It’s meant to be funny, and poke at the editor/slush reader relationship, and maybe make fun of writers. Just a little. I said that several times, on FB and Twitter and here too, but saw at least one person who actually thought my readers wanted me to write a misogynistic, D/s, Gorean kind of tale. (Don’t be silly.) In case reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit–and hey, we all have different skills–I hope this clears that up for you.

** Updated: they fixed it. I’ll have copies of my collection at Readercon.

Read these things, the Nemo storm edition.

If you’re stuck inside with not much to do, take a look at the stories, essays, and interviews that have interested me this week:

Shimmer interviews my friend A.C. Wise, whose story “Tasting of the Sea” appears in issue #16.

Rose Lemberg collected speculative fiction poetry recommendations from various editors – read the list here.

Geoff Ryman’s famously sad novel, Was, is now available as an ebook from Weightless Books (their page has excerpts from the book).

Avi Steinberg talks writing and the Gilbert v Roth argument:

That’s the kind of a person it takes to be a writer: someone who’s zealous and ready to argue, someone who has Philip Roth tell him, “It’s torture, don’t do it,” and replies, “You had me at ‘torture.’ ” You don’t enter into it because it’s a great lifestyle decision—it isn’t—you do it because, for whatever reason, you believe in it, and you believe in it because, for whatever reason, you need to believe in it.

Discover News says readers grasp digital media (aka ebooks) just as well as print.

Eddie Huang (author, chef, and tv personality) talks to NPR about Asian-American food, family, and masculinity. (podcast/interview)

NY Review of Books talks about Wes Anderson as a writer.

Stupefying Stories put together a free ebook of shorts by authors eligible for this year’s Campbell Award.

Wonderful Chet Baker documentary “Let’s Get Lost” now on YouTube.

My latest appearance on the SF Signal podcast is now up: “2013 SF/F/H Conventions We’re Anticipating“. I mainly talk about how great Readercon is.

Oh, and I shared the introduction from FISH over at Dagan Books.

Writer Wednesday: Fran Wilde

Photo courtesy of A. E. Bogdan

Fran Wilde is a writer and technology consultant hard at work on her third novel. You can read her short stories online at Nature Magazine and Daily Science Fiction She can tie various sailing knots, set gemstones and program digital minions. She blogs at franwilde.wordpress.com.

1. You have two novels completed and two more in progress. Tell us about them.

Moonmaker is adult science fiction. It’s my first novel, and I’ve recently received some fantastic feedback on it. The story is pretty ambitious, given that I’d never written a novel before. I am lucky to have people who believe in it, since the process of finishing a novel and getting it out there is so complex. Moonmaker combines game building and programming with a bunch of things I didn’t know much about until I dove into the research. A friend was kind enough to loan me an astrophysicist at one point (he’s awesome), so I had some great insights when it came to moons and orbits. I did a very light query on the book last fall, but have decided to take it back into editing. A few spin-off short stories are in process too.

The second novel, Bone Arrow, is my baby right now. It’s young adult fantasy, with a lot of low-tech engineering. I was a house writer for university engineering programs for a long time, and my first job was proofreading engineering articles. The tech behind bridges and towers and a few other things got stuck in my head, I guess. But that’s just setting, and offstage background. The characters in Bone Arrow — they ran away with the book. I had all these plans for what was supposed to happen, and… yeah. They had other plans. I loved watching the story unfurl. I love hearing reactions from people who have read it.

One thing I should say is that my friends from Viable Paradise who have urged me on while writing this book, and who are a really incredibly generous source of support, even while deep in their own work, have been there from the start on this. I’m very grateful for them. In addition, I took Bone Arrow with me to Taos Toolbox last summer. After an all-night plot-breaking session with my roommate and several amazing upcoming writers and friends, I’d grown a whole new grasp on how to plot story. Bone Arrow and the stories that come after are much stronger for these experiences.

The third novel is set in the same world as Bone Arrow, and the fourth is a distant-future offshoot of Moonmaker.

2. What short fiction publication are you most proud of, and why?

All of them, for different reasons. If you press me, I’d say, so far, the 2012 Nature story, “Without.” It’s short, but there’s a lot in it. I’m proud of it mostly because the story wasn’t working, even after a critique. Then I quit taking one character’s side over the other and let both characters have completely valid points, as they saw it. Then it worked. That was an important lesson.

3. You’ve interviewed an impressive collection of genre authors for your “Cooking the Books” project. Where did you get the idea to talk about writing by talking about food?

I’m having a ridiculously fun time with Cooking the Books. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement along the way, especially from author A.C. Wise and all the writers who have agreed to be interviewed so far.

Back in a previous life, I interviewed a lot of people for work. I missed doing it. When I started the column, it felt a bit more risky: this time I was interviewing people not for a client, or a journal, but because I really cared about the answers, for me. It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

The whole thing started at Viable Paradise. Steven Gould (who not only has a new book out, Impulse, but is running for SFWA president – go check him out!) and I were talking about a recipe I had in the back pages of a foreign service cookbook. The recipe was for “Elephant Stew.” (the book also had “Stuffed Camel” and something for cobra.). The first direction is “Cut elephant into bite-sized pieces.” Steven Gould said “That sounds like a recipe for a novel.” I asked him if he’d say that in print, and we were off to the races. Shortly after, Elizabeth Bear and Gregory Frost agreed to interviews – and then people began suggesting others who might like to participate as well. I had a lot of fun interviewing more of the Viable Paradise faculty last fall: author James D. Macdonald, Macallister Stone (of Absolute Write), Bart, and author Steven Brust. The December interview with Aliette de Bodard was just amazing, and the upcoming interviews — well, they’re going to be awesome.

I’d love to have a dinner party with the recipes. Except for the marmot. And Joe Haldeman’s foxhole pizza. Also, we’d need more beverage recipes to pull off a good party. I’m also dreaming up ways to do a Cooking the Books game show at a convention.

4. Which fictional recipe would you most like to try?

Oh gosh. All of them? I love new tastes. I might skip the alien food from Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.

I’m a little limited by food allergies in real life, so that’s probably why I like fictional food so much.

The best source for someone who makes fictional recipes come to life is Chelsea over at Food Thru the Pages and the folks at Fictional Food. Not only are the recipes fantastic, the photography is gorgeous.

5. You attended Viable Paradise in 2011. Now that you’ve had a year to process that experience, what stands out in your memory as the best moment of the workshop? (more…)

Site Stats, 2012

By far the most popular post I wrote in 2012 was Fuck You, Weird Tales, followed by Readercon 2012 – the sexual harrasment edition, proving once again that you people like it when I get wordy with righteous indignation. (Good, because it’s bound to happen again.)

I had slightly more than 15,600 views at the site this year, averaging about 45 a day. That’s up from 9000 views in 2011. (WP is only recently measuring visitors vs views, but current data suggests about 3/4 of my views are unique visitors.)

Most of my readers are from the United States (about 2/3), followed mainly by Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and the Philippines, followed by less than 100 views each from dozens of other countries. I’m pleased to see that I have occasional readers in places like Fiji, Iraq, Nepal, Iceland, Vietnam, Ireland, Israel, and Japan.

Top referrers to my site (after a collection of search engines) are Twitter and Facebook, followed by SF Signal and Functional Nerds, as well as several fellow writers (NK Jemisin, Ken Liu, Matt Bennardo, Jim C. Hines, Matthew Cheney, and Don Pizarro). Which shows that being involved in social networking, writing guest posts, and promoting other writers pays off.

Speaking of search engines, the top search terms that drove people to the site were:

Search Views
carrie cuinn 138
“claude lalumiere” 68
writing about me 30
kanbanpad review 24
history of book cover design 23
what makes a thriller 23
kanbanpad 20
author blurb 19
readercon 2012 19
cuinn 17
book spine poetry 15
dmz graphic novel 13
decolonialism 11
ken liu writer 10

which suggests I should spend a little more time talking about book cover design and typography, and update my post about Kanbanpad.

Overall these stats tell me that the more I post, the more readers I have (which may translate to more readers of my fiction/essays, and more sales of my work). It also tells me most of the people who come to my website are actually looking for me, which is always nice to know. In the coming year I plan to keep up with the book reviews, post more original fiction, keep promoting writers I admire, and continue to talk about the process of writing/publishing/book creation. Don’t worry, though, there’ll be snark and some sarcasm and the occasional rant, too.

After all, I know what you really come here for.