Worldcon Panel: Beyond the First Two Pages

Caveat: I didn’t arrive until about half an hour in, but I picked up from there.

With Patrick Rothfuss, Darlene Marshall, John Berlyne, Nick Mamatas, and Carol Berg

One of the authors suggests we avoid POV shifts (head hopping)
Agent John Berlyne suggests avoiding constraining yourself by conventions if you have good reasons to do something.

Some discussion about revealing information. Don’t. Build tension. Don’t sap it.

Some people do short fiction better than novels and vice versa.

All choices should be in service to the story.
1. What is the point of the story?
2. Who cares?

Continue reading “Worldcon Panel: Beyond the First Two Pages”

Weekend on Tap and the Alex Theater

And what’s happening this weekend?

Saturday: A wedding and a boat load of rough drafts for the ‘dents.

Sunday: Visiting the MiL and our comics guy. and a boat load of other rough drafts for the ‘dents.

And…that means I’d best be Abigail Rathing right now.

Just thought I’d bop in to share the cool links I found to the Alex Theater and the Alex Film Society that are important to new chapter seven. Go, Glendale!

Some day I should actually visit Glendale, since Abby lives there. Until then, vicarious Internet exploration it is!

I hope you all have great weekends.

TT Profile #3: Rebecca Stevenson

Rebecca Stevenson, still catching up on her sleep from Taos, settled down to answer a few questions for us. Rebecca is fluent in many genres and uses a lot of them at once, which this reader likes!

Tamago: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Rebecca: Like a lot of people, I started writing very young, but I think I would pinpoint 2008 as the year of decision. That’s when I decided to stop messing around and take the endeavor seriously, started trying to learn more about the craft, find beta readers, and set concrete goals.

Tamago: What are you working on right now?

Rebecca: I am writing the first draft of an urban fantasy novel set in Boston, which includes a lot of Arthurian mythos and Lord Byron. I’m also doing final revisions on a kitchen-sink science fantasy — AI ships, magic, nanotechnology, and shapeshifters saving the universe!

Tamago: Which writers are your influences?

Rebecca: Early on, my outlook was heavily influenced by Barbara Hambly and Tanya Huff. Later on, Guy Gavriel Kay and Walter Jon Williams are two of the big ones.

Tamago: I know you write both fantasy and science fiction. How important do you consider the concept of genre in speculative fiction?

Rebecca: I come to this question as a technical writer — it’s important to understand the audience, to understand their expectations. Genre helps set the guidelines for both writers and readers, and provides a context in which they have a conversation.

Naturally, one doesn’t have to live by those guidelines, but it gives you a sense of where you need to signpost for the audience that you *are* diverging. With my science fantasy, I tried hard to get a number of cross-genre elements onto the first page, so that readers wouldn’t think they were getting one flavor only to trip over elements from a different genre later.

Tamago: You are a very busy person, with a full time job and 3 kids. How do you find time to keep writing in your every day life?

Rebecca: I set small goals and try to keep to a routine. I’ve recently adopted a 500 new words/day primary goal and created a spreadsheet that tracks my projects. That’s far from ambitious, but almost always something I can manage to do. Being able to make measurable progress every day is a huge boost. Tracking *everything* I write is also helpful; the numbers tell me if I’m spending more time than I want to on side projects. I am very distractable. 🙂

Tamago: At Taos, you seemed to blossom. What did you learn at Taos that you think will make you a better writer?

Rebecca: It was the first time I’ve really been able to hang out with other writers for an extended period. Just being surrounded by people with the same enthusiasms was a huge lift. I feel like I came out of it with a better technical understanding of the writing process, a greater degree of trust in myself, and some wonderful friends. I’m looking forward to hearing about everyone’s future successes.

Tamago: What advice would you give an author about to enter a workshop?

Rebecca: Pack light. Be open to the unexpected. Bring a camera. You can catch up sleep when you get home.

Tamago: Where do you hope to be in 10 years as a writer?

Rebecca: I hope that by that time I’ll have something published, and that I’ll continue to grow. No matter what, I’ll still be writing–the part of my brain that comes up with stories never turns off, so I might as well write them down.

Tamago: What is your dream project?

Rebecca: That’s difficult to answer, since whatever book I’m working on at the moment tends to be the one that I most want to write. I do have an idea for a project that would absolutely require me to spend a lot of time in the south of France to do research, so probably that one!

Tamago: Where can people find your work?

Rebecca: My hard drive. I have some fan-fiction on Archive of Our Own, but no published work. Yet.

Living with Osteoarthritis: Exercise

My osteoarthritis does not stem from underusing my joints. It is the result of an athletic injury. Once I too was a hardcore runner. And then my weird knees rubbed against each other, and I have some floaters in my knee. Bone spurs, cartilage, things like that. I also injured my ankle in high school by jumping off a log and landing on my ankle, not my foot. That was exactly as painful as it sounds.

I have been really been missing exercise. Tonight I get to EASE back in. Guess what turns out to be the best exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee? Walking. But only half as much to begin with.

What else is recommended? Tonight I get to practice sitting down and standing up, and I get to stretch and tense a wide variety of muscles in my legs. There’s also a fair number of leg lifts.

For the ankle, apparently the best thing I can do to strengthen is to stand on one foot. I’m also supposed to do some flexing exercises.

From here on out, it’s going to be exercising, keeping at it. If it hurts, I may have to take a little time off, but overall, it’s important to keep moving.

I just won’t be running any marathons. Otherwise, I should be able to have all my range of motion return, and I have to keep at it.

If you need any links to ankle or knee therapy, let me know. I got ’em.

Little Betas (Not the Fish)

This week, I am being sucked into the black hole that is my job. Lots of late night meetings, essays due, and the beginning of teacher evaluation season. This means little writing this week. And I’m hot to do some, so that’s frustrating.

I will be off training teachers today. While that’s happening, I’ll be thinking about how I’m not getting orientation around.

But next week? Next week I get some of the time I’m giving to the college this week back. And I will type and type and type.


The burning, soap operatic question–Will Abigail Rath be ready for my self-imposed deadline? Yes, it will. Just like Miranda Suri’s Absent project, October will be International Rewrite Abigail Rath month. I am about halfway through the 3rd draft. It looks doable. Then, the book goes out to betas in November.

I need betas, by the way. I already have some nice enthusiastic adult readers, but I would like to find a couple more kids than the one I have. So if you have a daughter or son who would like to test drive a middle grade novel about vampires and monster hunters, please let me know. I’d take anyone between the ages of 10-13.

All right. Gotta go help our Ryan set up the workshop, and act like a coordinator. See you on the other side of that.

Why the Kaffeeklatsch?

While I was at Worldcon, I attended three kaffeeklatsches. There were also beer gatherings available.

For those of you who don’t know, or who go to cons that don’t have these, kaffeeklatsches are small gatherings, just the pro and 20 fans. The quality of the kaffeeklatsch is more intimate, the questions are more direct, and the stories are also less general.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Lee Harris from Angry Robot, Eddie Schneider from JABberwocky, and John Scalzi from…um…John Scalzi.

Each klatsch had its own idiom.

Lee Harris spent a lot of time talking about the history of Angry Robot, their new imprint Strange Chemistry, the open call for books that they do, and their genre combining ways. I enjoyed Harris’s sense of humor and learned a lot more about an up and coming publisher.

Eddie Schneider talked a lot about what agents do, what kind of thing his agency looks for, how agents work, and what agents want from authors. Also, there was some insightful conversation on why he became an agent and some conversations about specific book deals he’d done.

John Scalzi was his usually entertaining self. He shared information on his upcoming projects, recent discussions in fandom about creepers and harassment, his role as SFWA president, and The Old Man’s War movie.

Even if it’s illusory, the ‘klatsch makes me feel I’ve spent a little more time getting to know someone better, and I certainly get to participate in a different kind of discussion.


Three more Worldcon posts to go!

The Ursula Vernon Story

So. You know, you go to a science fiction gathering, and there will be big names there. My roommate Michele had one major geek out moment with George R. R. Martin. She kept ramping up to get a picture and walking away without saying anything. At the third try, she finally asked. And my friend Lisa discovered we were standing behind folk singer Janis Ian on the way into the Hugos, and her fan chatter activated.

Even I can geek out, from time to time.

Continue reading “The Ursula Vernon Story”

Eating in Chicago

Although this might be a more appropriate post before Worldcon last.

I thought that I would mention some of the more fun food outings that I had in Chicago, so if you find yourself downtown, looking for some food, well, you can check these places out.

Pat Scaramuzza and Beth, his SO, and Beth’s family took me and my roommate Michele to Billy Goat’s Tavern, immortalized by Saturday Night Live in their cheeseburger skits in the 70s. It was a real hole in the wall, with cheeseburgers on homemade buns, chips and soft drinks. Also, atmosphere so thick you had to cut it with a machete. For a place with character and atmosphere, not to mention economical food, it was a good trip.

And remember, if a stray billy goat wanders into your bar, the obvious thing to do is open a burger joint.


Next up, a trip with many great writers (hello Lawrence and Fran and Oz!) to La Tavernita, which bills itself as a sexy, spirited, modern restaurant. Lots of unusual tapas and many great drinks, and you feel you are nibbling your way to oblivion in a tiny bites kind of way. Easily the tastiest restaurant I got to all weekend. It is a bit atmospheric as well. Hearing cannot always be your main priority at La Tavernita.


Finally, a Chicago staple for pizza, Giordano’s. Michele and I went for the deep dish lunch special. We were not disappointed, and it did seem appropriate to have at least some Chicago style pizza in Chicago.


The con was wonderful, which meant I found myself more often eating next to the hotel or in the hotel. I will say that the Indian restaurant near the hotel, Khyber Pass, was pretty bad, and I can’t recommend it to anyone. When we ate there, the buffet was poorly stocked, overpriced, and spoiled. Bleah.

DaddyO’s, the hotel’s Irish pub was adequate, but nothing special. Similarly, Houlihan’s was fine, although the reputation was a bit overrated.

But The Bistro at 151 gave me a couple of notable meals. Their portabello mushroom sandwich was faboo, and if you get stuck in the area, this is probably where you should eat. I thought that the green omelette I had while breakfasting with Jeannette and her husband was pretty all right.

There are, of course, a great many wonderful restaurants in Chicago. I regret that I was much too busy to get away from the hotel to try them, but them’s the breaks at a good convention.

Next Chicago post…I promise the Ursula Vernon story.


Living with Osteoarthritis: Food

I thought it might be useful for me to share the life changes that I’m making as I learn to live with my osteoarthritis, as some of you out there might find these changes to be useful information. I’ll freely admit that a lot of what I’ve learned over the last few days is daunting, and I will have to make some Lifestyle Changes (TM) that are probably going to require time and effort from me. Woo.

So, food is going to be my most important focus. Why? Because I am 70 pounds overweight, and every single thing I read about osteoarthritis, particularly that of the knees, tells you that you must get weight off. After the pain of this last week, I am totally there.

The trick is how to get the weight off. I haven’t had too much success in recent years with that, so I thought that maybe doing some research into what was good and bad for arthritis sufferers might be in order.

Let’s start with the no’s.

Continue reading “Living with Osteoarthritis: Food”

Worldcon Panel: How I Got My Agent

with Joshua Bilmes, J. Kathleen Cheney, Courtney Schafer, and Bryce Moore.

There were a wide variety of ways these people gained their agent. Joshua Bilmes is an agent, and he reps Bryce Moore.

Bryce began in a writing group with Brandon Sanderson, one of Joshua’s clients. He spent years sending books to Joshua while he also subbed other agents. An editor ultimately offered him a deal, and Joshua took him on.

Courtney went the route of sending a query, partial, and then full to Becca Stump, who reps her. After some revising, there was an offer of representation.

Jeannette (J. Kathleen Cheney) signed up for a pitch with her dream agent at a convention.

One of the things all the panelists agreed upon is that doing any research into the world of agents is a plus. Many people just send work out into the universe.

Make sure you have a finished book. A finished fiction book. That is your best work. And then you can think about submitting.

Continue reading “Worldcon Panel: How I Got My Agent”