So You Want to Write an Author Blurb? Readercon Edition, With Advice from Ken Liu and Don Pizarro

We all know the first step toward getting yourself invited to talk on a panel at a convention like Readercon is to have a really outstanding author blurb. The kind of run-on sentence (or three) that not only conveys your vast experience in talking out loud but that also implies your great range of knowledge*.

Picture it, if you will.

Actually, I did take a picture. Don (left) and Ken (right) in the Marriott bar, July 16, 2011

One hot afternoon in Boston I found myself sitting across a table from Ken Liu and Don Pizarro, brilliant authors and Men of Experience. We were sitting in the hotel bar, like you do at a convention, talking about how awesome I am. Well, how awesome I’m not. See, I’d jokingly mentioned something to my day job boss about my positive attitude and wide set of skills, and while he didn’t seem to be sure if I was kidding or not, I felt a bit embarrassed. I mean, who goes around telling people they’re awesome unless it’s a joke?

But no, these men assured me, I was on the right track. Once they got done laughing hysterically at my faux pas, I was informed that this was the beginning of an author blurb that was sure to get me noticed. Ken had been on a panel earlier in the day, and both Don and I aspire to be on panels in the future (Don also aspires to be famous enough to say terrible things when he’s really old and get away with it, so I think I’m going to need to stick around and write his apologetic morning-after press releases for him). Don stopped giggling long enough to pay attention at what was about to be a very serious conversation.

“You have to start with that,” Ken advised me. “Carrie Cuinn, author, editor, publisher. Then, ‘I’m awesome’.” He made air quotes with his fingers as he said that part. “Or maybe put, ‘I’m awesome’ first.”

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Readercon, The Loot Edition

While I let the rest of the weekend tumble around in my head until a reasonable con recap post can be put into words, I’ll start you off with the small pile of wonderful things I brought home with me:

  • John Kessel’s THE BAUM PLAN FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AND OTHER STORIES – I first read this collection last year, checked out from my local library, and adored it. I was pleased to find a reasonably priced SIGNED paperback in the dealer’s room; was more than pleased to meet the man himself at the Pros(e) party too.
  • RIGOR AMORTIS – You might remember that I have a story in this little anthology of zombie erotica. I’d forgotten my copy but got one from the thoughtful Kay Holt, who’s also in the book. This meant I got to have her, Lucia Starkey and Don Pizarro sign it for me.
  • Postcards and flyers for various cons I want to attend and books I want to buy.
  • THE HOMELESS MOON 4 – A free zine being passed out at the con
  • OBJECTS OF WORSHIP – Claude LaLumière’s great collection, which I’ve already read and reviewed. I got this copy for a friend who (at the last minute) couldn’t make the con, and he was gracious enough to inscribe it for her.
  • Elizabeth Hand’s ILLYRIA – I am not too familiar with her work, but it’s been recommended to me, and I was at a few panels she was on, so I wanted a place to start. I found this lovely little hardcover in the dealer’s room.
  • Harold Waldrop’s novella collection OTHER WORLDS, BETTER LIVES – I saw him read two stories of his on Saturday night, and got to have a great conversation with his publisher about this book and the state of Waldrop’s sales in general. Bonus: this book is SIGNED too.
  • Claude’s DOOR TO LOST PAGES – I’d bought the epub, read it (review to go up soon) and wanted the paperback. He signed this one too, and it’s all mine!
  • Crossed Genre’s Issue 19: Gadgets and Artifacts – Bought because Don Pizarro’s got a story in this issue that I love, and that I got to hear him read aloud during the CG reading on Friday night. This brings up an interesting point about writers you get close enough to that you’ve mutually become part of each other’s lives: what happens is, we become slackers. I bought it with the intention of getting Don to sign it, and since we spent the whole weekend together, I didn’t think this would be a problem. I knew where to find him. Presenting him with it, and a pen, he opened it to his story, poised the pen over the page and  … stopped. “I need to think of the right thing to say,” he said, and handed it back. Yes, I understand, the pressure of not wanting to sign something dumb to people you’ll see over and over again. But … did I ever get it signed? No, no I did not. My advice here kids is: smile, be patient, but don’t let them leave til it’s signed.
  • Readercon 22 program booklet – lots of cool info I didn’t have time to read at the actual con (given out free with my badge).
  • Dec 2002 Locus – there was a stack of free, older, issues of this magazine and I grabbed the China Mièville issue. I love his writing and even though it’s an older interview, I’m sure there are things to be learned.
So much to read. And I have to tell you about the panels I went to, the people I hung out with (which, in my opinion, made the con as amazing as it was), the readings, the food, the … Readercon-ness of it all. Soon, I promise.

Readercon: And so it begins …

I am at Readercon, having arrived yesterday, in a blur of driving and more driving and being stuck in traffic and short on sleep and I ended up passing out at 9 pm. This morning I’ve had a lovely breakfast and am now sitting in the first panel of the day. There will be con recaps throughout the weekend, as often as I feel like paying the exorbitant fee for daily Internet usage, but for now – I am having such a lovely time.

And the con is just getting started.