So last week I attended (as a ghost) my first Worldcon since 2011, when I had the honor of MCing the Hugo Awards with Jay in Reno. LIfe events, PTSD and the fallout of not being able to write (and thus bring in revenue) have largely kept me home from most cons. That’s not too bad, actually, given that it led ultimately to a shift in my business model. But we’ll talk about that in another post. This post is about dipping my toes back into the flow that is Worldcon.
I roadtripped out to Spokane with Audible keeping me company for the drive. I split my time between WRITING GREAT FICTION: STORYTELLING TIPS AND TECHNIQUES by Professor James Hynes and THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho. The first is a solid series of writing lectures and the second is a book I’ve had recommended to me again and again and finally got around to. I do not subscribe to the Woo Woo elements of the so-called Laws of Attraction. But I do believe that when we are focused on whatever purpose we’ve chosen for ourselves in the world and intentional and aware as we go about our lives, building friendships and alliances with others who are like-minded, things tend to come together. So Coelho’s allegory was a powerful reminder to me that for the last 23 years or so, I’ve been adventuring in pursuit of my personal legend. It was a time when I needed that reminder and there’s nothing like a journey to nail things down internally.
It was a journey filled with touchstones from the past. I spent a night with my boyhood pal, Robert (AKA Renard), had breakfast with the daughter of army friends in Ephrata, stayed with my step-sister who I’d not seen in eight years and then, at the con, there was all the catching up from the days I’ve been sitting out the bigger gatherings of my tribe. And perhaps the high point: I got an hour or so to catch up with the man my former step-son grew into. He was a newly minted teenager the last time I saw him.
There were other highlights as well…
- Busking the park with Emily Pitts. She was a month old when I met her Dad and the rest of her family. She’s grown into a strong, talented, intelligent young woman and we had a great time taking turns belting out songs in Riverside Park.
- Chimichangas and margaritas with Chaz Brenchley. Need I say more? Brilliant, lovely man. We had a great first sit down together and I hope the first of many more.
- Dinner with Beth Meacham and Greg and Astrid Bear. Always a highlight to get time with my Tor editor and my conversation with her helped me clinch my work plan for the next year once I finish HYMN (sometime between Halloween and Orycon.) And Greg and Astrid are wonderful people to dine with.
- A brief sit-down with Manny Frishberg, another friend that goes way back — we met at the same writing crit group where I met John Pitts eighteen years ago this Fall. Manny and I have been talking for over a year about joining forces on my PTSD book and it looks like he and Dr. Lipov and I will be moving forward with the project starting in January.
- Another brief sit-down with Jeff Sturgeon and Peter Wacks. I will be part of Jeff Sturgeon’s Last Cities of the Earth project with Wordfire Press, which you will all learn more about shortly. It also may mean a quick trip to NYC for some research.
- Met Kevin J. Anderson’s crew at the Wordfire Press table and schemed Rose City Comic Con, which I will be attending in September.
- The briefest, scantest moment of time with Aliette du Bodard who is still on board with my Someday Secret Project I hope to move forward on next year.
- Finally met and sat down with Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir of Skyboat Media. This was especially amazing because between the two of them, they voice Petronus, Brother Charles, Jin Li Tam and Winters in the audio version of my series. So after being read to by them during my Great Psalms of Isaak Listen-Through, it was a delight to sit down and chat with them face to face. And more businessy goodness could come of that, as well (he said with fingers crossed.)
- Finally met Rich Horton, whose kind words about some of my stories in the early years were All Manner of Motivating External Validation.
- Got a ton of good catch-up time with my dear friend, Gail Carriger. We met when we were both getting ready to have novels born into the world and became fast friends. So any time I get with her is a gift…and usually pays dividends in business savvy and writing encouragement because she is a remarkable writer and business woman in addition to being just an all around good human.
- Spent three hours (a record for me) at the Fairwood Launch Party where I hunkered down in a room and just let people find me. We sold a lot of copies of BLUE YONDERS, GRATEFUL PIES AND OTHER FANCIFUL FEASTS. And this was especially meaningful to me because it marked fifteen years since my first publication — also by Patrick Swenson in his Talebones Magazine. I love that my LIterary Dad just released my THIRD short story collection into the world all these years later. And it’s a beautiful book thanks to his editorial eye and his brother, Paul’s, amazing cover (yet again — Paul has graced all three with his fine work.)
- Made a whole pack of new friends, had brief catch-ups with old friends, and made some good business connections while being funny on shuttles.
I think my only low points were taking a fall in the parking garage and scraping up my knees…and managing, YET AGAIN, to not meet David Gerrold in real life. Ah well. I will continue that quest!
I’m surely leaving people out but all of you were amazing and lovely. I slipped out early Saturday so I missed the Hugos but I was delighted that Jay won the special committee award. And I won’t say I was delighted, but I appreciated and respected fandom’s response to the rather silly Puppy War that’s raged across the field these last several months even while feeling bad for those who were caught in the crossfire. Good people who stayed on the ballot, good people who stepped down from the nomination, good people who never got on the ballot because of the shenanigans — I have empathy for them. And I have compassion for those who feel displaced and fearful by the power shift that’s ongoing in our culture and our move away from the (Actually Not So) Good Old Days (Unless You Were White, Straight and Born Male with God On Your Side). I’ve stayed largely quiet about this — and most of the conflicts that pop up in the field — but it doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. Someone who eventually leaves the Right Side in favor of the Left probably has lots of opinions on the subject. My prevailing opinion: Get back to work and go write amazing stories that fill us with a sense of wonder. So that’s my goal. Ex Preacher Attempts to Practice What He Preaches…News at Eleven.
My next cons will be Rose City Comic Con with Wordfire Press in September and Orycon in November. I have MisCon on my radar for May. Beyond that, I’m not planning to attend any cons that are not covering my expenses at some level unless they are at the worldcon/WFC level. I’m putting my focus, instead, on going out and teaching one day workshops in targeted cities where I can conduct other business, catch up with friends and colleagues and do some pay-it-forward in the classrooms.
Okay, that’s all the news that’s fit to print.
Trailer Boy out.