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BayCon - San Francisco Bay Area science fiction & fantasy convention

I have two panels at BayCon this year, which will be held from May 27-30 at the San Mateo Marriott San Francisco Airport (this is a change of hotel from the previous years).

BayCon Guests of Honor

Writer Guest of Honor: David Gerrold

Artist Guest of Honor: Chris Butler, F.R.A.S

Fan Guest of Honor: Anastasia Hunter

Toastmasters: Library Bards

BayCon Charity

BayCon’s charity this year is SETI Institute.

My BayCon Schedule

I’m on two panels, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The good, The Bad, And The WTF of Cover Art
Saturday, May 28 2:30 pm, Connect 1
Forget judging the book by its cover, sometimes you can’t even identify it. Our panelists discuss highs and lows and just plain weird in the world of cover art.

WordPress
Sunday, May 29 11:30 am, Connect 1
Methods for making the most creative and effective use of WordPress.

Programming Schedule

The full programming schedule is available here.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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AnthoCover3_400

Up and Coming, the 2016 anthology of science fiction and fantasy writers eligible for this year’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, is now available. This award is the only award given at the Hugo Award ceremonies that is voted on by the Hugo Award voters but is not itself a Hugo Award.

Up and Coming contains 1.1 million words of fiction from newly published science fiction qand fantasy authors, and will be available until March 31, 2016.

How to Nominate for the Campbell Award

In order to be a nominator for the Campbell Award, you had to be a member of one of the following by January 31 of this year:

The nomination link is here, and nominations close March 31, 2016.

Complete List of Authors in the Anthology

  • Charlotte Ashley
  • John Ayliff
  • Lucas Bale
  • Nicolette Barischoff
  • Sofie Bird
  • Derrick Boden
  • Stefan Bolz
  • David Bruns
  • Martin Cahill
  • Aaron Canton
  • D.K. Cassidy
  • Zach Chapman
  • Curtis C. Chen
  • ZZ Claybourne
  • Liz Colter
  • Nik Constantine
  • Daniel J. Davis
  • S.B. Divya
  • Margaret Dunlap
  • S.K. Dunstall
  • Jonathan Edelstein
  • Harlow C. Fallon
  • Rafaela F. Ferraz
  • Sam Fleming
  • Annalee Flower Horne
  • Ron S. Friedman
  • David Jón Fuller
  • Sarah Gailey
  • Patricia Gilliam
  • Jaymee Goh
  • Elad Haber
  • Auston Habershaw
  • Philip Brian Hall
  • John Gregory Hancock
  • Nin Harris
  • C.A. Hawksmoor
  • Sean Patrick Hazlett
  • Holly Heisey
  • Michael Patrick Hicks
  • SL Huang
  • Kurt Hunt
  • L.S. Johnson
  • Cameron Johnston
  • Rachel K. Jones
  • Jason Kimble
  • Paul B. Kohler
  • Jeanne Kramer-Smyth
  • Jamie Gilman Kress
  • Jason LaPier
  • Fonda Lee
  • S Lynn
  • Jack Hollis Marr
  • Arkady Martine
  • Kim May
  • Alison McBain
  • Rati Mehrotra
  • Lia Swope Mitchell
  • Allison Mulder
  • Ian Muneshwar
  • Brian Niemeier
  • Wendy Nikel
  • George Nikolopoulos
  • Megan E. O’Keeve
  • Malka Older
  • Emma Osborne
  • Chris Ovenden
  • Steve Pantazis
  • Carrie Patel
  • Sunil Patel
  • Laura Pearlman
  • Samuel Peralta
  • Andrea Phillips
  • Mark Robert Philps
  • Monica Enderle Pierce
  • Ivan Popov
  • Bill Powell
  • Stephen S. Power
  • Rhiannon Rasmussen
  • Chris Reher
  • Ethan Reid
  • Kelly Robson
  • Andy rogers
  • Lauren M. Roy
  • Steve Ruskin
  • KB Rylander
  • Hope Erica Schultz
  • Effie Seiberg
  • Tahmeed Shafiq
  • Iona Sharma
  • Anthea Sharp
  • Elsa Sjunneson-Henry
  • Daniel Arthur Smith
  • Lesley Smith
  • William Squirrell
  • Dan Stout
  • Naru Dames Sundar
  • Will Swardstrom
  • Jeremy Szal
  • Lauren C. Teffeau
  • Natalia Theodoridou
  • Joseph Tomaras
  • Vincent Trigili
  • P.K. Tyler
  • Tamara Vardomskaya
  • Leo Vladimirsky
  • Nancy SM Waldman
  • Thomas M. Waldroon
  • Jo Lindsay Walton
  • Kim Wells
  • Alison Wilgus
  • Nicolas Wilson
  • Alyssa Wong
  • Eleanor R. Wood
  • Frank Wu
  • Jeff Xilon
  • JY Yang
  • Isabel Yap
  • Jo Zebedee
  • Jon F. Zeigler
  • Anna Zumbro

…which is a lot of people, but there are actually more eligible authors than that. Check out this page on Writertopia for who’s eligible this year. This year’s Campbell eligibles are those who had a first professional sale published in 2014 or 2015.

Note, however, that final eligibility is determined by the Hugo Award administrator. Of note, I think Andy Weir (not in the anthology, but mentioned on the Writertopia page) could be ruled ineligible; while The Martian was initially released as a self-published title in 2011, it wasn’t really a professional sale until 2014 when it was re-published by Crown Books. However, the audio book version was published in 2013, and that may be a sticking point. Or not.

I Wasn’t a Member, But One of My Favorites Made the Ballot, Now What?

You can become a member of MidAmeriCon II. Voting will begin in early May. I don’t know when exactly voting will close, but typically it’s some time in July.

The Hugo ceremony will take place at the convention, Wed to Sun, August 17-21, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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BayCon—san francisco bay area science fiction & fantasy convention

I may make it to BayCon tomorrow, but I might not, so I thought I’d go over some of the panels I was on while everything was still fresh.

Friday’s Panels

Writing Handicapped Characters

There was a lot of great discussion about various handicaps though, with the panelists in question, we had more discussion of physical handicaps than mental issues.

From the audience, Sunil Patel mentioned several interesting anthologies. He also said that Kaleidoscope, a diverse anthology, was one of his favorites from last year. (I have a copy, I haven’t read it yet.)

A book I mentioned was Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down, a romance novel featuring two handicapped characters: one for the year, one for good.

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.

Also, he’s taken.

What worked for me about this book is that Corey deals with her situation: it’s her new normal, and the book does not “cure” her. When things are difficult for her, she figures it out.

Invertebrates are Cool

We had some great panelists for this, including someone who had a background in parasitology and another with a background in marine biology. We tended toward discussing cephalopods because, let’s face it, they’re cool.

Cliff Winnig managed to make me completely lose it in a fit of laughter twice, which was awesome fun. He’s earned his title of “Invetebrate punster.”

I’d meant to bring my copy of Cephalopod Behavior, but forgot to. Probably just as well because it appears to be out of print and now selling for insane amounts of money, and I would miss it if it were to disappear like an octopus.

Saturday’s Panels

Book Covers that Sell Books

If I hadn’t just wiped my iPad, I’d have had a before and after of a cover I redid with me. Here’s the after cover. It uses a free photo, and a couple of other layers. Because this was a print book, I also did a back cover using another free photo.

The panel focused on books that would be print books, but many book covers these days are for things that will never be in printed form, e.g., short stories. For these, you really do need to both communicate genre and not lose your shirt $-wise in the process, and there’s simply no way you can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a cover for that kind of work.

For A Sword Called Rhonda, I went the same route panelist AE Marling mentioned and found an artist on DeviantArt. A render will almost always sell less well than a high-quality illustration or a photograph, but it’s still an option—and, in most genres, it’ll typically still sell better than something with no person on the cover. I also thought this particular rendering fit the image I had of the character almost perfectly. The artist wanted to do the typography too, which—you get the deal you can, right? So the type is one weight lighter than I’d have used/preferred, but it works fine in a thumbnail.

For The Duchess’s Dress, I knew this would never be a huge seller, so I cobbled together a cover from bits I had and spent $0 on the cover. As Joel Friedlander said, “The elements are right, but they add up to a very weak ebook cover.” Which is fair. The formal symmetry takes away from the energy it might have had. On the other hand, it’s sold some copies (and I’ve made a profit), so that’s a win. It does more or less what it needs to do.

So here are some resources mentioned:

  1. AE Marling and I both referred to Deviant Art, which is a great place to find someone to do cover art for you (or adapt an existing work into a cover). I will say that one of the key problems in finding suitable art: most art isn’t structured well for a cover. It needs to have more headroom so the title can go above, or, alternatively, a less complex middle. You can also put the title at the bottom, but that’s often less effective. Regardless, a piece that’s designed to stand alone is often not going to be suitable for having a big blob o’ text over it.
  2. I referred to Deposit Photos, my preferred stock photo vendor. When I say “photo,” though, they don’t just sell photos. There are also some superb illustrations and renderings. (The problem is finding them.) If you are going to do a lot of covers, then having a plan is a great idea, and sometimes you can find discount plans available.

  3. Tony Todaro talked about using 99 Designs for book covers, and I talked a bit about the other side of the coin: designing covers for 99 Designs clients. More about that in this contest where I was a runner up. For 99 Designs, see also this post and comments and this post, especially the comments.

  4. Lousy Book Covers. Much as I like this site and its hate for bad book covers, I don’t think it’s actually particularly useful for someone who wants to make something better than what they have. With just a little bit more knowledge and/or care, many bad covers could be made to actually work. I’ve been meaning to get a more constructive site started, but the last few weeks have been horrible.

And here are some not mentioned:

  1. A lot of the lower-to-middle-end cover designers have pre-made covers. If that fits your taste/budget/design sense, then by all means consider them. Here are two: Patty Jensen, who does a lot of renderings; and Adrijus G., who specializes in action and adventure.
  2. Joel Friedlander has a monthly contest for people to submit their indie designed covers. Here’s last month’s. (I love the use of Borges Lettering’s Desire on Damon Za’s cover for Genevieve McKay’s The Opposite of Living).) Highly recommend reading this post series for a master class in book cover design. Even if you’re not a designer, it’ll help you commission better work. It’s also a great way to find indie cover designers.

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters

This panel went really well, and I’m glad that Kate Secor had some details that I hadn’t researched. Also thanks to James Stanley Daugherty for moderating and Amy Sterling Casil for her contributions.

My general feelings:

  1. Excluding the arguments about politics, there are other underlying points: certain houses are nominated—and not just for Hugo awards—more frequently, and certain popular authors are never nominated. I’ve looked at what I have been reading and realized that, over the last few years, I’ve been reading fewer books from Daw, Del Rey, and Baen. My personal commitment going forward is to read at least one first author per quarter from each major SF house, and two other books per quarter (all of the above from the current year’s catalog).
    Not everything popular is good enough, so I don’t think that it’s ever going to be the case that the most popular writers get nominated with any consistency. You’re far more likely to see a breakout book on the ballot.
  2. The more that is done at this year’s meeting to “fix” things, it will become an outrage escalator, and I believe that would be counterproductive long term. While I think the 4 of 6 proposal (and a couple of others) have merit, what I’d actually like to see is more people nominating. Specifically, more people who realize you can’t read the entire field, so nominate what you have read and what you think is worthy.

Nothing that “fixes” nominations will change the fact that there are far fewer nominators than members, and far fewer nominators than voters.

Categorizing Your Books: YA versus NA

First: I want to fangirl about being on a panel with Amber Benson. She’s marvelous.

NA, or New Adult, is a relatively recent category focusing on stories about people in the 18-25 age group. It is my catnip.

In addition to the target age group, I think one of the things New Adult appeals to are those people whose lives have had upheavals and suddenly they can start over. I was 37 and had been married five months when I found myself suddenly widowed. Over the next couple of years, I found that I didn’t relate to people who were my own age group. At that point, I could have gone anywhere, done anything, and had few constraints upon my life.

I found that who I most related to in that time were people who were 19 or 20, because I was having problems typical of that age group even though I wasn’t that age.

Probably because of that, I’ve never stopped bonding with fiction about the college era in people’s lives, when people leave the nest, go off and make some big mistakes (or fail to make big mistakes and regret not trying).

One book I mentioned is one of my favorites so far this year, Sarina Bowen’s The Shameless Hour. Somewhat spoilery discussion follows: Bella’s had a very hookup oriented shameless sex life, but she stays too long at a frat party and gets rufied. Thankfully, she doesn’t get raped, but the humiliation stunt and the infamy that follows really haunts her. This is a kind of book that really is NA and can’t be YA.

That said, I’m not convinced NA is as useful a marketing category in science fiction and fantasy as it is in other genres. I also made the point that a lot of NA heroes (and occasionally heroines) have far more real kinds of jobs than many other segments of the romance genre, though I will admit that a lot more of them are artistic or sporty.

Themed Reading: Erotic SF/F/H

Initially, I was signed up to be on the Death panel at the same time. Just three days before the panel, I realized that had changed, and I needed to scramble and figure out what to read. One scene from a book I’m writing (New Adult SF) I wasn’t yet happy with (and a lot of my sex scenes aren’t in speculative fiction genres). I haven’t been writing on this book over the last few weeks because it has been dark and I have been trying to keep it from going darker.

The other was a short humor draft with a bad pun ending, and that’s what I wound up reading. (Always read your first drafts in public, especially erotica. It’s humbling.)

It turns out that I went last, and after a really dark fantasy piece, so the comic relief was well-timed.

Afterward

I haven’t talked about why I was dragging myself around on Saturday, but I wound up having some acid reflux late Friday night, and given GERD being related to of my mom’s cascade failure, that led to some understandable nightmares last night.

I got about two hours of sleep all told.

So, I was really dragging and was trying to make a call between taking a nap before the 8:30 A Shot Rang Out and going home.

When I found out that no one had been collecting the silly lines we’re supposed to end our turns with, Rick and I both realized that neither of us had the spoons to take care of that ourselves. (I could possibly have done the panel if I could get three solid hours of sleep, but not if I had to get less.) So I went home and immediately went to bed at 5:30 in the afternoon. My last thought was, “I should email Berry,” aka the other panelist, but I didn’t even manage to reach for my iPad before I fell asleep. I was just that tired.

Anyhow, I’m sorry I missed what’s almost always my favorite event at BayCon, and doubly sorry I had to miss the 12:30 am “Eye of Argon” reading that’s such a tradition. In fact, I didn’t wake up until well after that reading started.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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BayCon—san francisco bay area science fiction & fantasy convention

BayCon’s coming up this weekend, Friday through Sunday in Santa Clara, California. This year’s theme is Women of Wonder…and the people who love and appreciate them.

Normally BayCon is four days; this year it’s three due to a hotel snafu. The con starts earlier on Friday (10 am) than usual and runs late on Sunday, with the final formal event being Seanan McGuire’s concert at 8:15 pm.

BayCon Guests of Honor

Seanan McGuire, writer guest of honor

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, artist guest of honor

Amber Benson, toastmaster

Caradwen “Sabre” Braskat-Arellanes, fan guest of honor

The Winner Twins, young adult special guests

My Friday Panels

Handicapped Characters (Alameda at 1:30 PM)

There’s a lot more ‘there’ there than the wheelchair! How do you do it right? How do you find out what life is like for someone with a particular problem? How do you handle the messy bits otherwise known as reality without turning the reader off? How do you show what other kinds of courage might be needed by a handicapped hero or heroine?

Invertebrates are Cool on Friday at 4:30 PM in Ballroom A

Jellyfishes. Octopuses. Cephalopods. Invertebrates can be unexpectedly beautiful, surprisingly smart, or just weirdly intriguing. Find out why these panelists think that they are just plain cool.

I may also put in a good word for nudibranchs.

My Saturday Panels

Book Covers That Sell Books (Bayshore at 10:00 AM)

When you’re browsing at a bookstore, why do you pick up a particular book? When you’re on Amazon, do some suggested books seem to jump out at you more than others? The saying goes “you can’t judge a book by its cover,” but when it comes to impulse buying, that’s exactly what people do. With self-publishing becoming more common, writers need to know more about an area they previously left in the publisher’s hands. How does one make a cover that will stand out when it’s shelved alongside other books? How can one tell if a thumbnail version of the cover will look good on Amazon? Do shoppers judge the quality of the book by the quality of its cover design? The panelists discuss the design elements of a good book cover, and where to go to for help in designing one that will sell.

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters (Camino Real at 11:30 AM)

This year’s Hugo nominations certainly have fandom talking. Is this just another periodic “all fandom is plunged into war” outbreak, or are there serious systemic issues to address?

Categorizing Your Books: YA versus NA on Saturday at 1:00 PM in Alameda

The Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association defines a young adult (YA) as someone between the ages of 12 and 18. Authors and readers of YA novels traditionally defined the genre as literature written for ages ranging from 16 up to 25, while Teen Fiction is for the ages of 10 to 15. In 2009, a new category entered the mix: New Adult (or “NA”) for literature with protagonists with ages ranging from 18 to 25. Is NA here to stay? If it is, where does that leave YA and Teen Fiction?

I’m a huge fan of the New Adult genre, though it does have some pitfalls.

Themed Reading: Erotic SF/F/H on Saturday at 4:00 PM in Alameda

Hear authors read from stories that blend erotica with speculative fiction. For ages 18 and above only, please.

What it says on the tin.

A Shot Rang Out on Saturday at 8:30 PM in Alameda

…and bounced down the hallway, through the door, and out of the world. Come see hilarious, impromptu storytelling. Back as always by popular demand.

If the masquerade/variety show starts on time, then this is likely to start after the variety show ends.

(Note: I was originally also on one Sunday panel, but, given recent events, said I wanted to be taken off as I wasn’t feeling it.)

Hope to see you there.

If you’re going, what are you looking forward to? Full schedule can be found here.

My Next Convention

After BayCon, the next convention Rick and I will be attending is Westercon 68 in San Diego, California, July 2-5. I’ll be volunteering as site selection administrator for the 2017 Westercon.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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The Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards voting packet is now available.

You’ll need your registration number and Hugo PIN in order to download the packet.

Haven’t yet registered? Here’s the registration page.

What’s in the Hugo Awards Voter’s Packet

The next two paragraphs are from the press release:

This free download is supplied by the creators and publishers of works that are nominated for the awards. It is free to all current Supporting, Attending and Young Adult members of Sasquan, and those who become members before 31 July 2015. Its purpose is to allow those who are voting on the Hugo Awards to be able to make an informed choice among the nominated works.

All of the short fiction and graphic novels are included in their entirety (((assuming Zombie Nation comes through!))). The packet contains the full text of three of the novels: The Dark between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, amd The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Skin Game by Jim Butcher and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie are represented by extensive excerpts. One of the five finalists in the Related Work category is represented by an excerpt: Letters from Gardner, by Lou Antonelli. There is some material in each of the other categories except the Dramatic Presentations, but not everyone wanted us to include their work in this packet.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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RT Booklovers Convention header graphic

This was supposed to be my first year attending the RT Booklovers convention. I booked my membership and hotel early, Rick decided to come, and we booked our flights.

Naturally with my mother in the ICU, that has to come first. Rick volunteered to stay behind, but I know that I’d be constantly fretting if I’d missed a message, if I were needed for something. Plus, my mom would rather I stay, and that’s important.

Of course, I’m sad to miss RT Booklovers.

I’ve read a few of the winning or nominated books, but there are oh so many I haven’t read, too.

RT Booklovers Convention: Crowdsourcing the Fun

If you’re going to RT Booklovers, I’d love to hear about or see:

  1. A fun moment you had at the convention.
  2. A new book you’re excited about (in any romance/romantic elements genre).
  3. Fun times you had meeting an author.
  4. Or, if you’re an author, your best fan story from the convention.
  5. Selfies!
  6. Convention reports and links to same.
  7. Which of the award winners was your personal favorite? Were any of the acceptance speeches particularly funny or good?

You don’t have to know me—if you go, I’d love to hear something fun. It’s also totally okay to share this post with others.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Getting Past the Attack Narrative

When does something become an “attack” online?

Serious question.

Let’s say that two people, Jane and Cait, are both authors.

Jane says something that involves Cait, only she uses a word incorrectly. Cait responds that, hey, that word used that way and applied to me in that context is offensive. And Cait’s right.

Why is Cait then accused of “attacking” Jane?

After all, these are words, the tools of both of their craft. Is not their increased understanding of them in both of their interests?

Wouldn’t one typically expect Jane to apologize for using a word incorrectly and hurting Cait’s feelings by doing so?

A More Complex Example

Let’s take a more complex variant of the above.

Sarah hears Jane say something that involves Cait, using a word incorrectly. Sarah understands it to mean the common meaning of the word. She writes about it, but doesn’t name Jane.

Ken reads Sarah’s comment, then says something about it where Cait hears. Cait responds that, hey, that word used that way and applied to me in that context is offensive. And Cait’s right.

Then Sarah says I wrote that, and the person who said it is Jane. While Sarah misunderstood part of what happened, what she did not misunderstand was the word.

And there’s a huge pile-on, in the middle of which Jane reveals that she hadn’t used the word the way Sarah, Cait, and Ken understood it to be used (i.e., the way it is commonly used), and that Jane was using the word in a non-standard way.

  • Ken apologizes.
  • Cait apologizes.
  • Sarah apologizes.
  • While Jane accepts all of their apologies, she does not herself apologize.

Yet, were it not for what Jane said, and others’ over-reading of the intended meaning because of Jane’s misuse of the word, none of this would have happened.

Substitute names as appropriate, and you have the skeletal structure of what happened 1-2 days ago.

Abusing the Word “Attack”

When you use the word “attack,” you absolve yourself and the people you see as your allies of apologizing or behaving well.

I’m considering removing anyone who uses the word in a non-physical sense from all my social media. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, too, and I know it’s a hard habit to break.

Instead, try to consider what actually happened in that moment without characterizing it, either to yourself or to others, as an attack.

Criticizing Content Is Not Criticizing the Speaker

Often I see “attack” used for criticizing the content of what someone said as opposed to criticizing the person.

I totally get how it can be hard to separate the two, especially when it happens to you. Been there, made that mistake. However, it’s one I’d expect writers to be, on average, less likely to make given the prevalence of Clarion-style critiquing.

Us vs. Them

I incorporate by reference this brilliant post from Jim C. Hines.

If I have information that will clarify a situation, regardless of whether or not I like the person it helps and also regardless of what it will cost me in so-called friends, I will bring it up. Principles before personalities. (Am I perfect at this? No, of course not. I also don’t seek things out, so I can and do miss such opportunities.)

Also, if I’m in contact with you, there is something I admire about you. I’ve been friendly with very contradictory sets of people, and I’m able to accept that everyone’s a mix of good and bad—and hold that complexity in my head.

If you’re one of my contacts, I don’t expect you to like everyone else. I don’t expect you to understand what I see in other people.

Connotation of Unprovoked

“Attack” used this way also carries the connotation of “unprovoked.”

If, instead, we look at the events above as a misunderstanding and clarification, rather than an “attack,” we can learn from it.

You know, build a community rather than destroy it.

Just a thought.

The Header Image Background

The header image background is a photo I took of the battering surface of an M60 Patton tank. It seemed an appropriate choice.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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an apology

tl;dr: A comment I made 2-1/2 weeks ago got tweeted, escalated, and lots of feelings were hurt. As two people have made statements about my motiviations, this post is about context from my perspective as well as apologies for my part.

Backstory, Before Eastercon 2015

  1. If you’d asked me who Kari Sperring was, I’d have said a British fantasy writer. I believe we’ve commented in the same posts at times on LiveJournal. We’d never met face-to-face that I can recall.
  2. I’d never personally spoken with (or tweeted with or emailed, etc.) Benjanun Sriduangkaew. It’s possible that we’ve engaged in the same LiveJournal comment threads over the years, but I don’t specifically recall any.
  3. I was unaware that Ms. Sperring and Ms. Sriduangkaew had any history, partly because I’ve mostly been off LiveJournal since before the period when that happened.

Eastercon, Saturday, April 4, 2015

After the Hugo Awards nominations were announced (Eastercon was one of the announcing conventions), I got a lift back to my hotel, then wrote The Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide. By the time I woke up on the 5th, it had received about two thousand hits.

Eastercon, Sunday, April 5, 2015

I heard on Twitter that there was going to be a panel on the Sad Puppies and they were assembling people for that panel, so I asked in program ops if I could be on the panel.

For context: I first worked convention programming for ConJosé, the 2002 Worldcon, where I was staff for the late Kathryn Daugherty. I was her programming 2nd for the following year’s BayCon, then went on to be the programming head for BayCon for two years. Since then, I’ve worked as programming staff (of various kinds) at the local, regional (Westercon), and Worldcon level, most recently as co-head of programming for last year’s Westercon in Salt Lake City.

I say this so that you will know that I very much know what it’s like to be a) the person who makes the decisions about panels, and b) the person who has to deliver news to people, and c) the minion who is neither the bearer or decider of news.

I was fine with any answer as to whether or not I could be on the panel. I did not try to push my way onto the panel, nor is it sour grapes, and I am not sore about not getting onto the panel. I have no sense of entitlement about these things. I thought I had interesting things to say, but, hey, I also have a blog.

When I arrived in program ops Sunday afternoon, I was asked if I wanted to wait or come back. What you may not know if you’re new here: I’m mobility impaired (I need two knee replacements and have severe arthritis of the lower spine), and suffer from both debilitating fibromyalgia and myofascial pain. My pain is worst when I’ve either a) slept poorly, or b) am jetlagged—and I’d taken a ten-hour flight to get to the con. I was in miserable shape, so I decided to stay because walking anywhere would hurt. I worked for a while in the room, talked a bit with someone about the Ellora’s Cave situation (and found a new Loose Id author to read), and then Rick and Mike Willmoth showed up and we went to dinner. I was told by program ops staff to check back before the panel.

Which I did. As the panel time approached, I had actually left program ops, then I was asked to return to be told that no, the panel was going to focus on how the current Hugo situation affected the British professional scene. I thanked the programming person. Paraphrase of what I said: “Panels have a point of view, and it’s clear the one you’ve chosen isn’t one I’d be a fit for, and I’m fine with that.” He double-checked with me and I assured him that I was.

But it’s worth noting that I didn’t have any answer until about exactly when the panel was starting.

Then I went to the panel, which had already started, and Rick gave up his seat for me and stood with the SRO part of the crowd.

I did not livetweet during the panel (which I had the night before; the Hugo Award nominees were announced in the same room) because I was running low on power on all my devices.

The Fanfic Moment

And now we get to the moment that went viral.

Specifically, what went viral yesterday was reaction to this comment I made on April 13th:

Where things begin to bug me is the amount of toxicity currently being directed at Bee, such as the awkwardly uncomfortable part of the Sad Puppies panel at Eastercon, where it was suggested that someone write Vox Day/Requires Hate slash.

Here is the only account I have found tweeted during the panel:

You’ll note they are very different, and one of the reasons I delayed writing this post until this morning after things blew up late last night was that Rick had already gone to sleep and I wanted to ask his memory of what was said before writing this post. Not because I disbelieve Ms. Sperring’s account (which I’ll get to in a minute), but because I know for a fact that what I mean to say and what I actually say aren’t always the same thing. Plus, my own memory is not infallible.

The two phrases that specifically stuck with me are: “Vox Day Requires Hate slash” and “Give it to me, Voxy!” [edited to add note: the latter phrase is not in the same context, see James Worrad’s comment below] and the subject matter was Vox Day being a fan of Requires Hate. I somehow missed that this was an already written fic. Ms. Sperring says the content was entirely non-sexual, and I have no reason to disbelieve her, but she did use the word “slash” and that does imply relationship and/or sexual content in fic (my interpretation at the time was that it was at least suggestive, if not actually sexual). I’m a fanfic writer, though, and I am used to more concise terms.

I can understand why Ms. Sriduankaew, who is a lesbian, would see sexualized fiction of her and Vox Day to be rape fic, and I have to admit that I hadn’t really thought that far ahead in part because I didn’t think the “slash” in question existed yet.

To be clear, I never assumed that Ms. Sperring was/would be the writer of said fic. I’m thankful that Ms. Sperring, Ms. Sriduankaew, and I agree that rape fic isn’t something we’d write, and something we agree is appalling.

Things Escalated Yesterday

The short version:

  1. Shaun Duke, who has already apologized for his part in this, escalated my comment, where Ms. Sriduankaew saw it. At that point, Ms. Sriduankaew had no idea either a) where the comment originated (me), or b) who the speaker I referred to was.
  2. I didn’t actually know for certain it was Ms. Sperring who made the comment until yesterday when I was contacted by the Dysprosium chair (!) about the backstory behind my comment. I said to Rick, “I don’t actually know that it was Kari Sperring who made the comment.”
    Rick replied, “I do.”
    It was only then that I knew.
  3. It turns out Shaun contacted the Dysprosium chair, suggested that she contact me, referred her to my comment, but did not specify what action he thought should be taken.
  4. I also did not specify what action I thought should be taken, nor was I asked. I think the incident was, to be as charitable as possible, a tacky off-topic blip in what was a discussion about a hot topic.
  5. By the time I looked at Twitter after responding to the chair’s inquiry, I’d realized the issue had already spilled over there. This is the tweet where I reply to Ms. Sriduangkaew’s inquiry.

It doesn’t fit popular theories about Ms. Sriduangkaew abusing others, I know, but the actual fact is that neither I nor she knew until yesterday. Neither I nor Ms. Sriduangkaew started this escalation; Shaun did. Otherwise, it’d have been an obscure footnote on a post.

It would be nice to be extended the same courtesy about my motivations.

My Apology to Kari Sperring

  1. I apologize for unintentionally misrepresenting that this was a yet-to-be-written fic.
  2. I apologize for failing to consider that “slash” did not mean the same thing to Ms. Sperring as it did to both myself and Benjanun Sriduangkaew (fka Requires Hate).
  3. I apologize for not reaching out to find out what Ms. Sperring meant before I commented.

My Apology to Benjanun Sriduankaew

This was a comment I made on my blog, and you should not have heard it from someone else first.

See Also

This post on Asymptotic Binary, as it covers the timeline differently.

Edited to add: I used Ms. Sperring and asymbina’s post pointed out something I had not known (having missed the panelist introductions): she’s Dr. Sperring. I mean no disrespect by referring to her as Ms. Sperring. My usage comes from my father, a Ph.D. in Particle Physics from Cal Tech, who took his usage from Richard Feynman after teaching Feynman’s course on Physics to freshmen when my dad was a graduate student. Mr. Feynman did not like people using Dr. as a title.

I Get Mail

letter-from-lizw

Liz, you are an astonishingly loyal friend, and that can be a very good trait to have. I’m sad that you think so little of me that you sent this without asking me what happened, especially given your email to me on March 5th containing this line:

letter-from-lizw-2

In fact, I actually didn’t expect any notice of any kind when I wrote the pieces on Marion Zimmer Bradley last year. I rather expected to be ousted from quite a few circles, frankly.

First, I forgive your outburst, and I’m sorry for my part of what clearly led to your stress.

You know what, though? I helped Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, stop being afraid of her own shadow after being molested by her mother. I gave her a place to have a voice, to speak publicly for the first time, for both her and I to help people speak out on an important topic—and that is worth more than a trophy any time.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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The Hugo Awards

Summary of what’s in this post: the final Hugo Awards nomination changes, a discussion of a great post about the Hugo Awards from Baen author Eric Flint, and a constructive suggestion to those who, like the puppy sympathists, feel their own favorite works are being left out of the big table. And, at the end, I have a suggestion.

Final Hugo Awards Nomination Changes

I’ve updated the Puppy-Free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide to reflect the changes in the Hugo Awards nominations after two nominations were declared ineligible and after two nominees withdrew their works. The tl;dr version: Puppy-free works have been added in Best Novel (The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu) and Best Novelette (“The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt). Congratulations to all the new nominees, and condoliolations (congratulations on having been nominated, condolences for the situation leading to no longer being on the ballot) to those who withdrew or were declared ineligible.

I’m especially jazzed about having two works originally published in other languages on the ballot, as literature in translation is so frequently overlooked.

As noted in the File 770 piece, Hugo Award administrator John Lorentz has locked the ballot, and no further changes will be made. (There were also a couple of technical corrections on the final announcement.)

Eric Flint’s Piece

Eric Flint has his own “I can tell this was written by a novelist” piece on his blog.

I’ve been doing my best to stay away from the current ruckus over the Hugo Awards, but it’s now spread widely enough that it’s spilled onto my Facebook page, and it’s bound to splatter on me elsewhere as well. It’s also been brought to my attention that Breitbart’s very well-trafficked web site—never famous for the accuracy of its so-called “reporting”—has me listed as one of the supposedly downtrodden conservative and/or libertarian authors oppressed by the SF establishment. Given my lifelong advocacy of socialism—and I was no armchair Marxist either, but committed twenty-five years of my life to being an activist in the industrial trade unions—I find that quite amusing.

Flint discusses at length the paucity of awards for Murray Leinster and Andre Norton in particular, then lists several other writers’ nomination and win counts.

What has become equally obvious, to anyone willing to look at the situation objectively, is that a third of a century later the situation has become transformed. Today, there are is only one author left who can regularly maintain the bridge between popular appeal and critical acclaim. That author is Neil Gaiman. And there are no more than a handful of others who can manage it on occasion. Perhaps the most prominent in that small group are Lois McMaster Bujold, Ursula LeGuin and George R.R. Martin.

Once you get beyond that very small number of authors, the field diverges rapidly. That handful aside, there is no longer any great overlap between those fantasy and science fiction authors whom the mass audience considers the field’s most important writers—judging by sales, at any rate—and those who are acclaimed by the small groups of people who hand out awards.

Exactly so, though I’d argue that LeGuin is perhaps less famous with mainstream, but more famous in literary circles. When I was an undergrad, I was told I couldn’t write science fiction or fantasy and work with writing faculty unless I wanted “to write like Ursula LeGuin.” I declined (because I want to write like myself, not LeGuin) and worked with a science faculty member who was an sf/f reader. (The program, then a part of Vermont College, required a faculty sponsor for the semester, but none of the writing faculty were willing to sponsor anyone writing any form of popular fiction.)

Anyone who writes genre fiction and wanted to seriously pursue a writing degree has, no doubt, run into some form of the above at some point.

Any author—or publisher, or editor—who gets widely associated with a political viewpoint that generates a lot of passion will inevitably suffer a loss of attractiveness when it comes to getting nominated for awards—or just reader reviews. Somebody is bound to get angry at you and denigrate your work, and often enough urge others to do the same.

Does it happen to people who are strongly associated with the right? Yes, it does. But it also happens to people who are strongly associated in the public mind with the left. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is read through Amazon reader reviews of my work and see how many “reviews” are obviously triggered off by someone’s outrage/indignation/umbrage at what they perceive as my political viewpoint and have little if anything to do with the book which is theoretically being “reviewed.”

Nor does it matter very much whether the assessment people have is accurate or not. To give an example which is germane to this issue, there is a wide perception among many people in fandom—the average reader-on-the-street could care less—that Baen Books is a slavering rightwing publisher. And never mind the inconvenient fact that the author who has had more books published through Baen Books than any other over the past twenty years is…

(roll of drums)

Me.

Who is today and has been throughout his adult life an avowed socialist (as well as an atheist), and hasn’t changed his basic opinions one whit.

I’m also unhappy with the reduction of Baen to only publishing right-wing (and various other tropes) authors because I’m also a Baen author. I’m not as universally liberal as you might think, and I’ve in fact been a libertarian (both big-L and not) in the past. My religious affiliation could be best described as “Agnostic Pagan,” specifically Druidism.

Yes, it’s true that Larry Correia and John Ringo are pretty far to the right on the political spectrum and they don’t get nominated for major awards despite being very popular.

You know what else is true?

I’m very popular and further to the left on the political spectrum than they are to the right—and I never get nominated either. Mercedes Lackey isn’t as far left as I am, but she’s pretty damn far to the left and even more popular than I am—or Larry Correia, or John Ringo—and she doesn’t get nominated either.

The popular fantasy author Steven Brust, like me, is what most people call a “Trotskyist.” In a career that has now lasted thirty years, he’s picked up one Nebula nomination. On the other hand, China Miéville—another so-called Trotskyist—has gotten around a dozen nominations and won both a Hugo and a World Fantasy Award.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Mike Resnick has gotten more Hugo nominations than just about any author in the history of science fiction—he’s won five times, too—and he’s a Republican. A sometimes loud and vociferous Republican, as I can attest because he’s a friend of mine and we’ve been known to argue about politics. Loudly and vociferously.

The fact is, there is no correlation I can see between an author’s political views and the frequency (or complete lack thereof) with which he or she gets nominated for SF literary awards. The claim of the Sad Puppies faction that so-called “social justice warriors” are systematically discriminating against them is specious. It can only be advanced by cherry-picking examples and studiously ignoring all the ones that contradict the thesis, of which there are a multitude.

Exactly so. Resnick was also an editor of mine. I’ve had some great conversations with him over the years.

I believe there are three major factors involved that account for the ever-widening gap between the judgment of the mass audience and that of the (comparatively tiny) inner circles of SFdom who hand out awards. Of the three, two of them are objective in nature, which is what makes the problem so intractable. And all three of them tend to constantly reinforce each other.

The first objective factor is about as simple as gets. The field is simply too damn BIG, nowadays. For all the constant whining you hear from lots of authors about how tough things are today for working writers—which is true enough, in and of itself—the fact is that the situation is a lot better than it used to be. Half a century ago, I doubt if there were more than a dozen F&SF writers able to make a full-time living at it, and most of them were not making a very good living. Today, with a North American population no more than twice the size it was then, I figure there are somewhere around a hundred F&SF authors able to work at it full time, and at least a third of them are earning more than the median annual income. Even in per capita terms, that’s a big improvement.

Back in the old days, many of the most popular authors had a number of pseudonyms. Mike Resnick has a Rolodex full of pseudonyms. Not a joke or exaggeration. So in the old days, there was a different kind of problem: you’d like six authors, but they’d all be the same person.

The second objective problem is that due to massive changes in the market for F&SF—changes so massive that they amount to a complete transformation of the field over the past several decades—the structure of the major awards no longer bears any relationship to the real world in which professional authors live and work. That’s especially true for those authors who are able to work on a full-time basis and who depend on their writing income for a living. Award-voters and reviewers and critics can afford to blithely ignore the realities of the market, but they can’t.

Both the Hugo and the Nebula give out four literary awards. (I’m not including here the more recent dramatic awards, just the purely literary categories.) Those awards are given for best short story, best novelette, best novella, and best novel. In other words, three out of four awards—75% of the total—are given for short fiction.

Forty or fifty years ago, that made perfect sense. It was an accurate reflection of the reality of the field for working authors. F&SF in those days was primarily a short form genre, whether you measured that in terms of income generated or number of readers.

But that is no longer true. Today, F&SF is overwhelmingly a novel market. Short fiction doesn’t generate more than 1% or 2% of all income for writers. And even measured in terms of readership, short fiction doesn’t account for more than 5% of the market.

Don’t believe me? Then consider this: I have published at least half a dozen novels each of which has sold more copies than the combined circulation of all science fiction and fantasy magazines in the United States—and I am by no means the most popular author in our field.

Romantic Times gives out an absolutely dizzying number of awards each year. Here are this year’s winners. Note that quite a few of those are publisher specific. Romance is an even more overwhelmingly novel-oriented market than science fiction or fantasy are.

To give you an idea of how large that field is, I read 150 romance books last year, mostly ones published last year. I’ve only read one of the books on the list. I’ve read twelve of the authors, though most of those have been published in sf/f.

Also, I disagree with the point he then follows up with about the novel length for the Hugo being wrong. Up until 2010, I’d have agreed with him. However, with the rise of digital first publishing, many more short novels are being written than used to be. It hasn’t picked up as much in science fiction and fantasy as it has in romance—in part because it began earlier in romance with a greater number of digital-first publishers and the popularity of “category length” (read: shorter) books—but I believe that is just a matter of time.

While there are romance series, most of them are a completely different style than is popular in sf/f: the protagonists of book 1 become side characters in book 2, and vice-versa.

Is there any solution to the problem?

Well, freeping the Hugos doesn’t fix the problem, it just vastly increases the number of people who are unhappy.

In addition to being an author, I also do a lot of editing of old science fiction stories. I’ve produced by now something like three dozen anthologies of stories written mostly in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. And I can state flatly that the average level of fiction written in our field today is far higher than it was half a century ago. As fond as I am of the fiction I grew up on, the simple fact is that most of those authors couldn’t get published today.

It’s not just a matter of prose, either. Just about everything in those days was crude, compared to the situation today.

The science in “science fiction” was often abysmal, especially the biology. Edgar Rice Burroughs was by no means the only author who told stories in which humans mate with aliens and produce offspring. Thereby demonstrating a grasp of biology stuck somewhere in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries.

The settings were typically crude, too, compared to the settings of most stories today. So were the plots. There were exceptions, to be sure—and, not surprisingly, those tended to be the most popular authors.

My point is simply that there is no rational basis for thinking that the literary sophistication of the mass audience for F&SF today is any worse than it was some decades ago, and plenty of reason to think that it’s actually superior.

I agree.

Why the Quality Shift

The quality shift was a concerted effort on behalf of people like Robin Scott Wilson, who created the Clarion Writers’ Workshop in the 1960s to help improve the quality of writing in the field. These days, there are quite a few similar workshops open by audition:

  1. Clarion in San Diego (6 weeks)
  2. Clarion West in Seattle (6 weeks)
  3. Odyssey in New Hampshire (6 weeks)
  4. Viable Paradise in Martha’s Vineyard (1 week)
  5. Milford in Wales

There are, finally, also programs in writing popular fiction, including MFA degrees from both Seton Hill and the University of Southern Maine.

Knight also founded SFWA, and part of the intention of the Nebula Awards was to focus on works on literary quality (as distinct from popularity). Yet, over time, the Nebula Award and Hugo Awards nomination lists seem to be (this is a perception that I have not analyzed, to be clear) closer rather than farther apart.

Over time, Clarion has produced (let’s say 15 people average per year x 40+ years) over 600 graduates, and many of those vote or nominate. Or hold (or have held) editorial positions at some point. When you add in the members of the other groups, too, this represents a significant influence on science fiction and fantasy books and short stories.

Yet, as a counter-example, a couple of years before I attended Clarion, Gordon van Gelder was the editor-in-residence. He handed the class his slush pile, and said, “which one of these would I buy?”

The class read the stories and argued with each other and had it narrowed down to a list of five candidates. Gordon said, basically, that it was none of them. He pointed to a story by a far more famous writer and said (paraphrase), “I’d buy this one, so I could put his name in big letters on the cover and sell the magazine.”

The sword definitely cuts more than one way. As Gardner Dozois put it, people become publishable before they start selling.

A Modest Proposal

Here’s my proposal: someone (not me) should start a workshop designed for people who want to write the popular end of science fiction and fantasy, and possibly aimed at people who wish to write sf/f books (the existing workshops are mostly about short-story writing). Yes, I know that Viable Paradise is about that, but the field is certainly big enough for two such workshops.

Not only that, it could be one that valued humor more than Clarion et al tend to. (You know what’s harder than writing humorous work? Critiquing it. Harder yet is understanding how to use the critiques.)

Make it six weeks long, have authors bring complete novel drafts, and workshop the whole draft in six chunks.

Don’t make it depend on ideology, make it depend on wanting to write stronger works of popular fiction.

This would be a great place to form relationships with other, similar writers, to build interrelationships within the field (as happens with Clarion et al), and doesn’t have the problematic relationship with the Church of Scientology that Writers of the Future does.

You’re only 47 years behind.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Nepalese Sadhu man • Requires Hate, Hugo Awards, and Laura J. Mixon's nomination for Best Fan Writer

Nepalese Sādhu man in Kathmandu. Photo by dibrova

Note: the front half of this post was originally going to be separate from my post about the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award. Rick pointed out that the light opening could be seen as minimizing the subject, which was not my intent.

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Being an Ass on the Internet? (Or: Why I’m voting No Award first on the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer this year.)

Asking for a friend.

(That was a joke.)

Well, it both is and it isn’t, because I’ll bet those people who’ve known me for five-ten-twenty-more years remembered something of their own to wince about.

One of the Problems of the Internet

One of the special problems of the internet is that everything that’s a still-valid web page appears to be happening now. Save for obviously “ZOMG, how 90s” pages that call attention by their dated look and sixteen web-safe colors, things feel like they’re happening now, even when they’re not.

Sure, there are contextual clues in many pages—dates, technology choices, etc.

I’m not sure that changes the emotional weight of something feeling fresh and new, though.

Not long after I wrote my Laura J. Mixon piece on Requires Hate, I had a little nagging in my ear:

When did this happen?

Followed by questions like: am I punching down by signal boosting? Why didn’t I see what writers of color were saying about it before jumping on it?

By the time I returned to the land of real internet (instead of catching slight breezes of it in St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the initial furor had died down. I did read another piece (now gone) that made me think.

I didn’t do anything until February 8, when I added the update to the end. Almost a month later, I wrote this post. and got into several conversations about it, and updated that post accordingly.

Then the Hugo Award Nominees Were Announced

…after George R. R. Martin signal boosted that Laura J. Mixon should get the fan writer nomination, she does. Further, she’s the only fan writer standing after you take away the puppy slates’ nominees.

By the time the nominations were announced, I pretty much knew how I felt, though I didn’t really have a sense of how the actual nominations would unfold.

My Own Organizing Principles

These are some of my organizing principles, and it’s impossible to really discuss how I feel about Mixon’s post without them.

  1. I value people trying to live less hateful lives.
  2. I believe that people change for their own reasons, on their own time schedules. Which may be never.
  3. Not everyone will change for the better, and your definition (or mine) of “better” may be wrong.
  4. It’s not necessary (or even desirable) to forgive everyone who’s harmed you. It’s one’s own judgment whether that should happen.
  5. I believe shunning is evil, where shunning is defined as person A trying to encourage person B not to communicate with person C else sanctions will occur. I belonged to a cult that did shunning (Scientology) and I’m over it. Hence, I still have friends who dislike each other. Vehemently.

I’m not asking that my guiding principles be yours, but: I really believe in redemption and/or self-improvement.

I read this long piece from Abigail Nussbaum and I’m concurring—in the legal sense, meaning: I agree with her decision to rank Laura J. Mixon below No Award—but I disagree with Nussbaum’s reasons.

First, there is no question in my mind that Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s behavior years ago was reprehensible. She agrees.

Second, there’s an obvious conflict of interest here: I was also eligible for best fan writer. One of the things I had to decide was whether or not I was going to nominate Mixon. In the end, I did not. So, regardless of how the nominations wound up, I’d made that choice before the nominee outcome was known.

Voting No Award for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer

My reasons, let me how you them.

  1. The events Mixon’s post mentions were, essentially, 3-10 years ago. Had they been contemporary, I’d have felt they were more relevant.
  2. Mixon’s post happened after Sriduangkaew started to get recognition and after Mamatas outed her.
  3. I disagree with Nussbaum that the topic isn’t sufficiently fannish.
  4. I agree that I think fan writer should be about a body of work and not a single post (says the person who got a quarter million hits for the best-known of my own posts last year). For a single post, Best Related Work is more relevant (as Kameron Hurley won for her “We Have Always Fought” piece).

Much of this information was available for years and only came to be posted because it affected a new writer’s career.

You know, the writing career that Sriduangkaew was now focusing on instead of harassing people.

Statute of Limitations

Most of us are never going to live the lives of a Sādhu, and I’m sure even they have moments they’re less than proud of. It’s entirely possible that some people become Sādhu because they’d done things far worse than you or I have.

The Internet allows us to hold onto hate longer and spread it farther, and that’s not always a good thing.

I don’t have an answer for what the statute of limitations should be for being an ass on the Internet. I’ll just say that the base federal (US) sentencing guidelines for involuntary manslaughter are 10-16 months.

For killing someone. (Not intentionally, obviously.)

Maybe we ought to think about this three-to-ten year thing.

No, this Does Not Mean

…that people who were harmed by Requires Hate / Winterfox should “get over it.” You have a right to feel however you feel.

I just question lowering the boom so long after the situation had changed so significantly.

Some may question: well, if that’s too late, what about Marion Zimmer Bradley?

I’ve heard no evidence that, at any point in her life, MZB felt any remorse about the part she took in raping children and allowing children to be raped (by her husband). Her only care was separating from him to reduce her financial liability. Also, half of that story (her as perp) had never been told until I broke it last year. Plus she’s dead, so it won’t affect her career, though it’s probably affected her heir and co-authors.

Nussbaum Nails How I Feel

In a later comment, Abigail Nussbaum added this, and it reflects my feelings:

My problem is with what the zeal of that exposure reveals about our community, and with the message that I think is sent by rewarding it. You and I obviously disagree about what that message is, and you may be right, but let me be clear again that we do not disagree about the harm that Sriduangkaew has caused.

Got Comments?

Respectful comments welcome. Legal threats, well, I’m in California and we have amazingly powerful anti-SLAPP laws here. (I mention this because of this comment on Abigail Nussbaum’s piece.)

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Sad Puppies

Sad Puppy • Photo by Amber West

This is a multi-purpose post about the Sad Puppies (et al) Hugo Nominations and award slates, covering the following topics:

  1. Schools of thought on voting No Award.
  2. Responding to the belief that there already had been slates in the past from “the SJWs” and explaining what’s likely a good chunk of the difference in nomination practices: the pro con vs. the fan con divide.
  3. Another less-obvious divide: Writers of the Future.
  4. Mike Scott’s proposal and Bruce Schneier’s Guest Post on Making Light.
  5. My favorite part of the Eastercon sad puppies panel.
  6. A few more links.

Schools of Thought on Voting “No Award”

Before we get into the subject, I’d like to highlight this piece by Kevin Standlee about the meaning and nuances of No Award and ranking items beneath No Award.

First, there are two major schools of thought about voting No Award for the pup-dominated categories (meaning: all but Best Fan Artist and Best Graphic Story). There are also a couple of variances, which I’ll also mention.

  1. Vote No Award below all non-puppies nominees (with or without ranking below No Award). This is pretty much what it says on the tin.
  2. Vote No Award in all categories dominated by puppies nominees under the theory that the remaining nominees don’t have fair competition. I see some merit in this.
  3. Consider ASIM in Best Semiprozine despite being on a slate. I can’t say it better than Simon Petrie says in this piece:

    So ASIM is on the Hugo ballot. We at the magazine have known about this for about ten days’ time, and have long since sent through the acceptance. But because none of us are exactly active in US fandom, we only became aware of the Sad Puppies connection very late in the piece — in fact, a scant three days before the nominations were made public, and well after all the dust had settled on the nomination process itself. ASIM was never informed about our inclusion on the Sad Puppies 3 slate — if we had been, I very strongly suspect our response would have been a resounding ‘Hell, No’ — and there was no time, nor any point, in looking to remove ourselves once we did get there.

    My own take on this is that a Sad Puppies vote for ASIM is a ‘pity-sex’ vote.

    See also this blog post by Sue Bursztynski. As a disclaimer: I have friends who are working, or who have worked, for the mag. Also, I’ve known people published there, of course. I’ve nominated it myself a time or two, just not this year.

  4. Kari Sperring tweeted: The #SadPuppies didn’t notify my liberal feminist editor Sheila Gilbert before publishing yr slate. She doesn’t endorse them. #HugoAwards

An editor being put on a slate is in an interesting ethical quandary: Hugo-winning books make more money, and an editor’s job is, in part, to make money for their house. That said, I’m not sure that Hugo-winning editors have the same revenue-enhancing capability, and I’d rather see Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s view take hold. Sorry Sheila, maybe another year.

Puppies and Allegations of Slates of Years Past

One of the things that some of the puppies believe is that the only possible explanation for the existing Hugo nominations and results is that there have been secret slates all along.

First, I’ve never heard of any larger-scale slates. I know there was a rules change to make nomination memberships close earlier than the nomination window did. That was a reaction to one specific abuse for one author (if I recall correctly, and I may not be).

Kevin Standlee, a former Hugo administrator, is a far more authoritative voice than my own:

Despite claims, I do not believe that there was ever a deliberate conspiracy to fill all the slots in every category with a dedicated “slate” of works. There clearly have been campaigns to get individual works on the ballot, some of them going beyond the technically legal.

The various other groups that compile lists of “things we like that we think you should consider on your Hugo ballot,” never go out of their way to make the number of items precisely equal to the number of spaces on the final ballot. A dedicated campaign by a noisy minority that insists that they are the Real True Fans Who are A Majority of Everyone is what is ticking people off.

He follows with a clarification:

I should have said that I do not think that before this year there was ever a deliberate conspiracy to fill all the slots in every category.

As a writer, I’ve had people solicit me for Nebula consideration by offering to send their work. That’s essentially ended with the new SFWA forums, thank goodness (because that’s how eligible works tend to be distributed).

So Where Do I Think These Voting Patterns Come From?

I think the voting patterns come from several places, but one of the largest is he cultural divide between pro-run cons and fan-run cons.

The Hugo Awards are voted upon by members of the current Worldcon, which moves about in location from year to year. Historically, there’s been a relatively stable number of voters. That number increased dramatically once online nominating and voting became available.

Fan-run cons have people working in various positions. I’ve worked in programming in some capacity at several Worldcons, several Westercons, and the regional convention, BayCon. I’ve gotten to meet a whole bunch of cool authors (and artists and all kinds of other cool people, including a few actors).

Then you’ve got the significantly larger pro-run cons. I don’t even want to know how many people ComicCon (either San Diego or Salt Lake) is pulling in these days.

You just have a far more likely chance to make an actual connection at a fan-run con, and many of the writers who’ve been nominated have shown up at the various fan-run cons. (I include World Fantasy in this genre, because while it’s a pro-level con, it still runs on fan volunteers.)

To finish this long wind-up: because fans who vote on the Hugos very often have real face-to-face connections with the people they vote for, and not for the people who eschew Worldcon in favor of Dragon Con (which is frequently on the same weekend ever since D*C moved onto Worldcon’s traditional weekend).

The Writers of the Future Issue

(Note: I wrote this section on too little sleep. I’ve edited it to make it clearer. I hope.)

It’s only in the last couple of weeks—thanks to the release of HBO’s Going Clear—that a lot of Americans came to somewhere around 1% of the awareness I had about Scientology’s evil in 1995.

Then I see quotations like this one from Jason Sanford and I want to punch holes in my desk with a fork:

This is similar to how most people in our genre support the Writers of the Future contests and programs even though they were founded by L. Ron Hubbard and receive funding from Scientology-related ventures.

Back in 1995, I was being stalked at the time for speaking out on alt.religion.scientology, along with quite a few of my friends. We had a reunion earlier this year, and Scientology goons tried to crash it. Twenty. Years. Later.

If you think the Sad/Rabid Puppies are bad (or even if you don’t), consider the Scientologists:

  1. A cult that coerces senior female members to have abortions so that they can continue working horrific hours. Listen to a few people tell their tales in the Human Trafficking Press Conference.
  2. A cult that prohibits most of its senior staff from driving, because that also prevents them from leaving. When one member escaped via car, they ran him off the road. (Read chapter 1 of Marc Headley’s book Blown for Good. A lot of the book is thick Scientologese, but the first chapter’s gripping. And documented with police reports.)
  3. The leader, David Miscavige, determines who stays married and who does not, often splitting up couples out of capriciousness. Including Tom Cruise and his three wives.
  4. Said cult has over a billion dollars in the bank.

…then consider that they suborned some of the Sad/Rabid puppies…for money. And some of you reading this, too.

Here are a few Sad Puppies associated with Writers of the Future:

  1. Brad Torgersen
  2. Kevin J. Anderson
  3. Marko Kloos
  4. Kary English

Annie Bellet was not a winner, but still promotes her progress in the WotF contest on every page of her site. Megan Grey does this just on her about page.

(The above is not an exhaustive list, just the names I know.)

Writers of the Future Is a Long Con

The purpose of Writers of the Future is for L. Ron Hubbard to get a name recognition lift when you later become famous. The entire point is to legitimize, newly, a man who threw children into chain lockers on ships.

But, you say, it has nothing to do with Scientology. The contest is run separately.

That’s what they’d like you to believe. Many people hear that, see the possibility of winning $5,000, and it shuts down their critical faculties. As Scientology intends.

Scientology, more than any other corporation I know of, is a bunch of shells with complicated interactions that were intended to be obfuscatory, but this one’s easy: the contest, part of Galaxy Press, a trade name of Author Services, which is part of the Church of Spiritual Technology. L. Ron Hubbard’s literary estate, aka the home of Scientology.

But, but, you say.

Well, I ask you: where are those books printed? Who makes them? Did you ever ask?

They’re printed by Bridge Publications, which is also owned by Scientology. This takes us to the tale of Daniel Montalvo. Here’s his lawsuit after he escaped at the age of 19 after working as a minor for Bridge Publications.

  • Working on equipment that federal and state law prohibits minors from working on.
  • Without required safety and protective gear.
  • And lost part of a finger doing so.

One of Scientology’s lawyers, Kendrick Moxon, had a daughter, Stacy, who worked at the Int base and was electrocuted due to lack of safety precautions. She worked at Gold. You may have seen Gold staff as camera and lighting (and other tech) crew for the Writers of the Future events.

I can’t begin to tell you how low the regard for human life is in Scientology. There is a lot of solidarity between Mormons and Scientologists as fellow members of new religions, but that’s a complete illusion.

For those of you who happen to be Christian and feel strongly about it, here’s an excerpt from the Assists tape Dennis Erlich posted a transcript of in 1994, part of the “past lives” doctrine of Scientology that’s part of the Xenu level:

The medical doctor is not really represented in R6. It is only the surgeon. The surgeon is shown cutting bodies to pieces. That’s the right thing to do. Actually he shreds a body down to just raw meat down to a skeleton and the skeleton is in agony and then it too is chopped up. Anyway, every man is then shown to have been crucified, so don’t think that it’s an accident that this crucifixion .. they found out that this applied. Somebody, somewhere on this planet, back about six hundred BC, found some piece of R6. And I don t know how they found it either by watching mad men or something but since that time they have used it and it became what is known as Christianity.

Translation: per Scientology doctrine, Christianity is a mass hallucination on Earth because of evil surgeons around about the time of Xenu.

That is what Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future are about. Getting people to pay money for Xenu and beyond. It has nothing to do with the quality of your stories or your art. It’s about adding to the long con.

They can buy respect off your future platform, then, tada! they offer to help increase your platform. Let’s arrange a book signing. Can you make it to this convention?

It’s not for you. It’s for Scientology.

Ooops I Just Won. Now What Do I Do?

Suppose you’ve won, and have just gulped, and are going to the upcoming event. I suggest you ask the following questions of any Galaxy Press staff you happen to see:

  1. Are you married? Got pictures of your husband/wife? Can I see? (Then bring out yours.)
  2. How many children do you have? Any pictures?
  3. When did you last see your children? What are they doing now?
  4. How about the rest of your family?

The main points: a) do they exist? b) when did you last see them? Pay attention to the nuances of their reactions.

The results will floor you. Guaranteed.

Mike Scott’s Proposal and Bruce Schneier’s Guest Post

I was going to comment more deeply on Mike Scott’s proposal, but I really think the commentary on voting system changes should instead be taking place on Making Light, specifically in comments on this guest post by Bruce Schneier.

Great Idea from the Sad Puppies Panel at Eastercon

I liked the poison pill nature of this, it make my inner evil genius chortle with glee.

The woman in the back of the room suggested that supporting membership $ be used to purchase memberships for the disenfranchised: fans of color, poor fans, handicapped fans, etc.

Department of Link Juice

Kevin Standlee has the “No Award” neepery guide. He also has a general Hugo awards tag that covers a lot of the quirks of Hugo voting. Kevin is one of the most thoughtful and fair people I know. Out of the comments:

Voting something below no award doesn’t decide who wins; it decides what loses last. This is similar to what I’ve often said about Instant Runoff Voting (the technical name for our voting system): It doesn’t choose the most-favored candidate; it chooses the least-disliked one.

Also, if you are new to the business meeting and proposal drafting process, Kevin has been consistently helpful about resources for that. If you want to have a shot at having your proposal heard (rather than shot down immediately by the people in the room), listening to Kevin is always a good strategy.

Bookworm Blues has a thoughtful post.

Elizabeth Bear also has a thoughtful post. She says, “This is not the first time All Fandom Has Been Plunged Into War. It will not be the last.” (The first time was the Breendoggle, which I posted about extensively last year.)

Jason Sanford has a good post with some thoughtful comments.

Cora Buhlert has a big roundup post.

Saving the most epic for last, George R. R. Martin once again proves that he’s a novelist with his three posts on the topic: one, two, and three. His three posts involve a lot of Hugo history from a pro (and neo-pro) point of view, including losing the first Campbell award (to Jerry Pournelle) and co-inventing the Hugo Loser’s party with Gardner Dozois.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Hugo Awards: Puppyflation

(click to enlarge)

I thought I’d show, in chart form, what the year-over-year changes are in Hugo Awards nominations, substantially due to the sad puppies (and rabid puppies) voting.

This year, there were almost exactly 10% more Hugo nominations than last year. Last year, there was also a (substantially less successful) sad puppies slate.

The area charts are 2015, and the lines correspond to the Hugo Awards nominations in the same categories for 2014.

Sources: 2014 statistics and 2015 statistics.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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The Hugo Awards

Update: Includes changes announced after initial nominations were announced. The only puppy-free slate changes are in the Best Novel and Best Novelette category. Ineligibility changes at File 770. Withdrawal changes at File 770.

Update 2: I’ve added those who withdrew after the final ballot into their respective categories below (because some people will be ranking choices after No Award and may wish to take these names into account). Also, for reference, here is the full ballot.

Follow, or don’t, your choice. If you are voting the strict ix-nay uppy-pay slate, here’s the options in each category:

Best Novel

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
(in whichever order, followed by No Award)

Best Novella

No Award

Best Novelette

The Day The World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014)
No Award

Best Short Story

No Award

Best Related Work

No Award

Best Graphic Story

Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
(in whichever order, followed by No Award)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)
Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)
(all other nominees were part of the Sad/Rabid Puppies slate. Suggest following the above two, either order, with No Award)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Doctor Who: “Listen”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon (BBC Television)
Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”, written by Graham Manson, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions, Space/BBC America)
(all other nominees were part of the Sad/Rabid Puppies slate. Suggest following the above two, either order, with No Award)

Best Editor, Short Form

No Award
Withdrew: Edmund R. Schubert

Best Editor, Long Form

No Award

Best Professional Artist

Julie Dillon
(followed by No Award)

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison, editor-in-chief
(followed by No Award)

Best Fanzine

Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J.Montgomery
(followed by No Award)
Withdrew: Black Gate, edited by John O’Neill

Best Fancast

Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newman and Peter Newman
(followed by No Award)

Best Fan Writer

Laura J. MixonExcept Mixon also campaigned for a Hugo Award with emotional blackmail language, which IMHO makes her no better than the Puppies.
(followed by No Award)

Best Fan Artist

This is the only puppy-free category (as it wasn’t on their slate)! Congrats to the nominees!
Ninni Aalto
Brad W. Foster
Elizabeth Leggett
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo)

Wesley Chu
(followed by No Award)

You’re free to comment, but if you’re going to send hate comments, I’m just going to block you from commenting ever.

Note: After posting this, Rick told me later about this File 770 post, which analyzes the issue differently and compares the Sad/Rabid Puppies slates.

Related

Sir Pterry declined his nomination in 2005. Many of the comments are interesting too, including the one that J. K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett trailed just behind John Scalzi and Charles Stross in 2008.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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memoriam-bph
Eric P. Scott was a bay area fan and open source enthusiast who died recently, apparently related to his ongoing heart problems.

One of the peculiarities of Eric P. Scott is the frequency that we’d wind up on the same plane with him. It didn’t matter if we were heading to Calgary or Seattle or some other random convention—he’d wind up on the same flight.

True, we usually fly out of SFO, as did he. True, we often fly United, as did he. He became a United million miler when it was far easier to do, then health problems (more the financial complications of same) limited his ability to travel. Still, there were usually enough flights that we could easily have picked different ones from each other. We just didn’t happen to.

He’d sometimes show up at our house on a Cabal night, talking about Linux with whomever else happened to show up.

We’d see him at random Linux and open source events, too.

For me, he was always a mixed bag: some days, I’d have incredibly long, cool conversations with him, and other days he would be so frustrating I wanted to scream. Even though those days happened, I always looked forward to seeing him.

It’s very weird thinking I’ll never get that privilege again.

See also: File 770 and Chaz Boston Baden. His own LJ is here.

Graphics Credits

I’d been meaning to design a banner graphic for memorials. I’d recently gotten a bunch of layer styles, and used the Frozen style from here. I altered the outer glow to be a little darker and half as thick. Somehow, using a text style associated with an sf/f film seems fitting for eps.

Font is Desire from Borges Lettering, corners from Make Media, and the glitter layer on the corners is also from Make Media.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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This isn’t about a convention, but I’m using a convention change as a launching point.

BayCon is going to be a three-day convention this next year rather than the four-day convention it has been in prior years. I heard about this through random pissing and moaning through facebook.

By “pissing and moaning,” I mean people who say things like it’s not what it used to be, yada yada yada.

Well, I’d hope not!

Anyhow, here’s my take when I hear that kind of thing:

  1. You can only do X similar things Y times before the magic smoke stops working for you. How similar X events have to be to each other and how large a number Y needs to be are individual.
  2. At that point, the right thing to do is something that isn’t quite so similar to X, whatever that happens to be for you.

  3. There are always problems with {conventions, vacations, cruises, rocket launches, square dances, rodeos, church socials, bowling leagues}. The problems only start glaring when you’re at point #1.

I honestly had a blast at BayCon this year. Sure, some things I’d enjoyed in the past didn’t happen this year, but other new things did.

So, if you’re not having fun because something doesn’t seem fresh and new, go find something fresh and new to do. Maybe you can go back to X at some point. Maybe not. Maybe you need something similar to X, but not too similar.

There are a million billion things to do.

The world is a big place. Enjoy it.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Taylor and Axl on the silks

Taylor and Axl on the silks


I’ve posted about this on Twitter, but I only amended my Romanticon post to include word of the quarantine.

However, given the fundraiser I just discovered, I’m copying the amendment into this post so it gets more attention and adding the fundraising link below.

Frankly, no one who goes to to any convention should have to fear coming down with something as horrific as ebola.

First: Quarantine, the Origins Of

Quarantine comes from the Italian word quarantq, meaning 40: the number of days you had to wait before your ship could enter Venice. It was used to prevent spread of the plague. It didn’t work so well back then, mostly because disease transmission was so poorly understood, so that’s why all the gondolas in Venice are painted black.

Jaid’s Message and Axl’s Message

Jaid Black posted a notice about potential exposure to ebola. Dallas nurse Amber Vinson, who now is confirmed to have ebola, was in Akron during the same time period that Romanticon was held.

According to news reports, the infected woman, a healthcare worker who treated “Patient Zero,” was in Akron visiting family. She did not show signs of infection until already in Akron. The CDC has confirmed that she was definitely symptomatic while traveling from Cleveland to Dallas on October 13 so if you know anyone else on that flight please have them contact the CDC IMMEDIATELY.

Romanticon attendees (other than those on flight 1143) have nothing to worry about… according to the CDC. As they haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information, and we have no idea where in Akron this woman was, I am asking EC employees and Romanticon attendees in general, to self-monitor their health for the next 3 weeks. A list of symptoms can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/symptoms/

Further, two of the Cavemen, Axl and Taylor (who are also both EC authors), were on the same flight as Vinson. After consulting with the CDC, they are both in self-imposed quarantine for 21 days.

Here’s Axl’s story.

Axl and Taylor appear briefly on this GMA segment speaking about their self-quarantine.

My hope is that everyone will be fine, but I’m sure thoughts and prayers are welcome. Axl gives his contact information in his facebook post if you wish to reach out to him.

Facebook links: Axl Goode and Taylor Cole takeitoff

The GoFundMe

Can be found here.

What we do know:

  1. They were apparently sitting very close to nurse Vinson on the same flight. (See Daily Mail link below for pics.)
  2. They feel it is in the safety of all concerned if they are conservative and self-quarantine. I applaud this, but it’s not cheap. (As to whether or not I’d contribute, the question is rhetorical, sadly.)
  3. Unlike some of us, they don’t have the sort of job where they can work from home.

I think the Daily Mail really has the winning caption here: Ebola Strippers. That’s not a disease vector I’d ever want to have happen.

If you’re inclined to either contribute or spread the word, please do so.

I know there are reasons to not support GoFundMe because of their policies; I’m sure if you contact Axl there are other means to help if that’s an issue for you.

My Own Experience With Quarantining

When I was at Apple, I came down with shingles. One of my colleagues was pregnant, and as shingles/varicella is of particular risk to the unborn, I was asked to work from home until it cleared up.

Now, shingles is not particularly contagious. Truly. When kids have chicken pox, it’s the way kids interact with the world more than the contagiousness that’s the problem.

But I respected that, and worked from home for about a week. This meant I had to miss the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference that year. Again, it was best for all concerned that I did so.

However, I had a job where I could work at home. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Special Comment Policy for This Post

I’d rather not debate the merits of the fundraiser in the comments. Respectful questions are fine.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin

Photo by Sergey Zolkin


I’m extremely honored to be a guest on Writing Excuses this week, talking about the author-convention relationship from the convention programming head point of view.

So here are a few tips, in no particular order, to make it easier for programming staff:

  1. Have a website. Better: have a website with your own domain name.
  2. When contacting programming staff for a convention, don’t assume they know who you are. These are volunteer positions. I’ve been the third head of programming for a given year, as an example.
  3. What makes you interesting may be a combination of what your writing skills are plus all the other skills you have. Even though I’ve volunteered for science fiction and fantasy conventions, I’ve put together panels on things like antique motorbikes. Don’t assume you’re not interesting, and don’t limit your usefulness by saying you’re interested in speaking only about writing.
  4. Don’t claim that you can speak on any writing topic. That’s a warning sign. No one can.
  5. Don’t ask to speak on panels with the Guests of Honor unless you know them personally. This is a warning sign that you’re being a social climber.
  6. Do offer to speak at the times when a lot of people don’t want to be scheduled: early morning, especially after a heavy party night. Late at night. Opposite the masquerade. The more open you are to times when it’s hard to find people, the more likely you are to be invited.
  7. Even if you usually speak at a local convention, don’t be insulted if you’re not asked one year. It can’t be the same convention every single year.
  8. Remember: the purpose of speaking at a convention is to entertain the audience at the convention. Side effects like making yourself known and selling more books are not the primary purpose.

Audiobook of the Week

The SaintI got to pick the audio book of the week, which is Tiffany Reisz’s The Saint. Visit http://AudiblePodcast.com/excuse for a free trial membership.

Before she became Manhattan’s most famous dominatrix, Nora Sutherlin was merely a girl called Eleanor…

Rebellious, green-eyed Eleanor never met a rule she didn’t want to break. She’s sick of her mother’s zealotry and the confines of Catholic school, and declares she’ll never go to church again. But her first glimpse of beautiful, magnetic Father Marcus Stearns—Søren to her and only her—and his lust-worthy Italian motorcycle is an epiphany. Eleanor is consumed—yet even she knows that being in love with a priest can’t be right.

But when one desperate mistake nearly costs Eleanor everything, it is Søren who steps in to save her. When she vows to repay him with complete obedience, a whole world opens before her as he reveals to her his deepest secrets that will change everything.

Danger can be managed—pain, welcomed. Everything is about to begin.

My Comments About the Book

This is the fifth of Tiffany Reisz’s books about Nora Sutherlin, but the first in the prequel series. As such, it’s not intended to stand alone as the first book. If you haven’t read the first series, you may wish to start with The Siren.

Also, as you may gather from the description, this series of books gets all sorts of adult content warnings. Tiffany’s also got an interesting HuffPo piece, What’s a Writer Gotta Do To Get Banned Around Here?

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Ellora's Cave Party Bus. Photo by Cait Miller.

Ellora’s Cave Party Bus. Photo by Cait Miller.

Single-publisher conventions are fairly rare, but not unheard of. Ellora’s cave has had one, EC Romanticon, for several years. How many? According to this 2011 scrape of the ecromanticon.com site by archive.org, the 2011 convention was the third annual convention, so 2009 would have been the first. (The earlier conventions may not have been on a separate domain; the scrape I linked to is the first scrape by archive.org.)

What is Romanticon, you ask?

Well, I have a 2013 promo video for you. Ready?

So, there you go. The video very much focuses on the Ellora’s Cavemen, and a bit on the convention goers, but not at all on Ellora’s Cave writers.

Let’s Talk a Bit About Convention Funding

I’ve got a lot of experience with fan-run science fiction and fantasy conventions, mostly with conventions significantly larger than Romanticon.

Romanticon runs a single track of programming. I’ve seen small conventions run this way, but I’ve also seen large ones (World Domination Summit is single track and around 3,000 people). It’s my understanding that Romanticon brings in around 400 300 (source: Glamour) people. Their venue’s grand ballroom seats a maximum of 500 people in banquet layout.

Registration ran $325; authors got a $25 discount. For sf/f con fans, that seems impossibly high (as most sf/f conventions are < $100), but it’s less than RT ($489)…on several levels. It’s more $ than most other romance conventions that aren’t writer-focused, though. (Writer-focused conventions will typically fly in agents and editors, and that adds up.)

Friday and Saturday night there are dinners, so that’s a good chunk of the registration cost.

For sf/f cons, the only people typically paid in any way are the guests of honor, where memberships are typically comped and hotel rooms are covered. Memberships for speakers may or may not be covered, or if covered they may be at a discount rate. For most GoHs, there aren’t any honoraria payments.

Functionally, the Cavemen are the guests of honor. One of the weekend events is picking the Alpha Caveman for the year, so Cavemen have a slot where they feature what they’re known for.

The Events

Let’s look at the events list:

Events for Non-Writer Attendees

  • Bad Girls of Romance Karaoke Party
  • Line Dancing with Taylor
  • TwerkShop (Cleveland Exotic Dance)
  • Fantasy Cavemen Cover Shoot (pose with a caveman as though you were on a cover) Note: this event’s open to the public
  • Jaided Ladies Erotica Lounge (author readings, 2 sessions)
  • Women’s Path to Pleasure
  • Bling Your Badge
  • Genius Geeks versus Bad Boys
  • Screaming Orgasm—More Than Just a Drink
  • Hoedown/Throwdown Party
  • Kickin’ It with Caveman Kimo
  • Lap Dance Lessons
  • Dirty Quotes by the Dirty Dozen
  • Beyond Vampires & Werewolves: Madlibs
  • Beefcake Bonanza
  • Golden Ankh Awards Party
  • Bookfair and SEXpo Note: this event’s open to the public
  • Pizza, Pajama & Bingo Party

Events for Writers (other than the panelists)

  • Pow Wow with Patty—which was scheduled for Thursday afternoon (!).
  • #1k1hr Writing Sprint (2 sessions)
  • Jaided Ladies Erotica Lounge (author readings, 2 sessions)
  • Publisher’s Parlor (2 sessions)
  • Writer Organization and Optimization
  • Sexy Writing 101
  • Dirty Quotes by the Dirty Dozen
  • How to Use Scrivener
  • Writing Situations
  • How to Research Erotic Romance, with or without the Flogging
  • Golden Ankh Awards Party
  • Bookfair and SEXpo (if published with EC)
  • Not on the events list: Pitch sessions

As someone who’s scheduled speakers for numerous conventions: I note that Laurann Dohner is an attending author, but she is on exactly zero of the other events. A few years ago, Laurann signed a 75-book deal with EC, and she’s apparently EC’s best-selling author.

All I’ve got to say is: there’s a story there. I don’t know what it is. Last year, she was on a presentation:

Love to Love You, Baby: Sexy Songs and Steamy Scenes (Samantha Kane, Mari Freeman, Kristin Daniels, Mari Carr, Cait Miller, Laurann Dohner, JK Coi, Jayne Rylon, Desiree Holt): Which songs inspire all those super steamy love scenes in your favorite books? Time to find out. Match the song to the author, then match the scene to the book, and walk away with a prize! And maybe a new appreciation for heavy bass, driving drumbeats and sensual horn sections. 😉

(Added note: the reason is explained in comments, and don’t I feel like a heel for lampshading it. I wish you the best, Laurann.)

How Many Authors Came?

Year # Authors Coming
2011 (not listed)
2012 (not listed, but I’ve been told it was 88)
2013 84 (list)
2014 37 (Aug 11 archive)
2014 38 (live site, not archive)

So, it doesn’t appear that Ellora’s Cave’s claim in its lawsuit that authors were scared off by Dear Author’s post is defensible. Instead of numbers going down between August 11 and the convention in October, the number of authors actually increased. The August 11 capture a week before the announcement of changes at Ellora’s Cave, so any changes in author loyalty would have been after then.

If anyone has names or numbers of authors for 2011 or 2012, I’d love a comment or email. Thank you!

About that Pow-Wow with Patty

I got nothing.

This Post Is Useless Without Pics

Well. Since you asked….

Linedancing. Looks like a snooze-fest numbers-wise. Feel sad for the Caveman on duty.

Romanticon Line Dancing. Photo by Cait Miller.

Romanticon Line Dancing. Photo by Cait Miller.

Cait Miller tweeted a pic with lots of Cavemen:

Romanticon Cavemen. Photo by Cait Miller.

Romanticon Cavemen. Photo by Cait Miller.

Anna Alexander tweeted a pic of the banquet table prior to the Hoedown/Throwdown. Here’s a color corrected version:

color-corrected-banquet

Kathy Kulig tweets a nice pic of herself with Caveman DeAngelo (the reigning Alpha Caveman):

Kathy and Caveman DeAngelo

The Lap Dance class was more popular, as Kathy Kulig tweets. No laps were present, apparently.

Romanticon Lap Dance Class

Kathy also tweets a pic of formal (Saturday) night. Guess dress code is different for the men.

BzswPyiCIAAwM4U

Anna points out that yes, the dress code is really different….

BztISNaIcAA_5fr

Better pic from Jocelyn Dex:

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Awards were given out:

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Three ladies managed to get stuck in an elevator with Caveman Sinjyn:

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A short written review by Diana Hunter.

Saved the best for last: Caveman Cisco instagrammed a photo from a photo shoot he did while in Akron:

Caveman Cisco. Photo by Eric Battershell.

Caveman Cisco. Photo by Eric Battershell.

So…About Next Year

I’ll just leave this tweet right here.

Then I’m going to invoke Courtney Milan’s piece, “Why is Tina Engler economically irrational? #notchilled” and talk about the convention thing for a minute.

There’s an old economics saying: a business’s primary economizing problem is money; a person’s primary economizing problem is time. (You may argue with me on the second one, but this is the opinion of people with money, so there’s that.)

Both money (given Amazon downturn in sales and recent staff layoffs mentioned in their August letter) and time (smaller staff, thus less time to give) are in shorter supply at Ellora’s Cave of late by their own reports.

First, if there are multi-year agreements to run the convention, it may cost more to cancel them than to hold them. This is something that needs to be closely looked at to see if it’s viable. One thing’s for sure, though: canceling earlier rather than later is typically less expensive. That offers the hotel more time to sell the space, and that’s often something that reduces cancelation costs.

Second, there are book sales, and outside of larger conventions like RT, it’s the single largest gathering of EC authors. Also, there’s a high author-to-member ratio.

Third, it’s a really different kind of convention, and there’s no close substitute for it. That’s not a reason to keep running it despite everything, but it can be a make-or-break factor if all else is neutral.

Yet, it’s hard to tell. If Romanticon actually turns a profit, even a slight one, for Ellora’s Cave, it may still be worth running the convention despite the time suck. There’s no cut-and-dried answer, though, and it’s not something an outsider can readily determine.

Post-Convention Update

Jaid Black posted a notice about potential exposure to ebola. Dallas nurse Amber Vinson, who now is confirmed to have ebola, was in Akron during the same time period that Romanticon was held.

According to news reports, the infected woman, a healthcare worker who treated “Patient Zero,” was in Akron visiting family. She did not show signs of infection until already in Akron. The CDC has confirmed that she was definitely symptomatic while traveling from Cleveland to Dallas on October 13 so if you know anyone else on that flight please have them contact the CDC IMMEDIATELY.

Romanticon attendees (other than those on flight 1143) have nothing to worry about… according to the CDC. As they haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information, and we have no idea where in Akron this woman was, I am asking EC employees and Romanticon attendees in general, to self-monitor their health for the next 3 weeks. A list of symptoms can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/symptoms/

Further, two of the Cavemen, Axl and Taylor (who are also both EC authors), were on the same flight as Vinson. After consulting with the CDC, they are both in self-imposed quarantine for 21 days.

Here’s Axl’s story.

Axl and Taylor appear briefly on this GMA segment speaking about their self-quarantine.

My hope is that everyone will be fine, but I’m sure thoughts and prayers are welcome. Axl gives his contact information in his facebook post if you wish to reach out to him.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

I was talking with Crystal Huff about getting to Helsinki, and I volunteered to put together a list of how to get to Finland for the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid.

After I sat down and got started, I thought it would be interesting to put the list together in a non-US-centric way, so I started on the Wikipedia List of Countries by Population. And, as I scrolled down the list, I realized that, without specifically planning going to Finland, I already knew most of the answers about how to get there from wherever.

I scrolled to the bottom of the list, and laughed.

242. Pitcairn

As it happens, I’ve been there, so I’ve studied up on how to get there. Pitcairn, which consists of four islands—only one of which is inhabited—is one of the remotest and most difficult places to get to on the planet. It’s the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific.

So here’s my draft of that answer. Note: it’s this difficult to get from Pitcairn to anywhere, which is one reason that residents often spend several months away at a time.

Pitcairn: If you’re one of the few dozen people from Pitcairn, it will take you longer to get to Helsinki than for the average person, but you already know that. You know all about the cruise ship schedule, and you’re no doubt hoping that something comes later than the Costa Luminosa so you’ll be able to stay on Pitcairn past February 23rd, way too early to leave for Worldcon. Eventually, the Claymore II supply ship schedule for 2017 will be posted, and you’ll probably sail for Mangareva around June. From there, you’ll fly Air Tahiti (not to be confused with Air Tahiti Nui) to Papeete. From there, you’ve got one of three possible routes: Air France/Finnair via Los Angeles and Paris (17,615 km), LAN/KLM via Easter Island, Santiago Chile, and Amsterdam (21,521 km), or Air New Zealand via some route like Auckland, Tokyo, Helsinki on Air New Zealand and Finnair, which is shorter (20750 km) than the same route through Hong Kong (21070 km). So, sure, you’d have to leave in June and you might be able to make the September supply ship back, but think of the interesting places you could stop over along the way.

A Funny Aside

When I was entering the UK, the immigration officer looked at my passport. As often happens, initially a bored immigration agent is looking for a place to stamp, then they become interested in the unusual places I have in my passport.

“Where’s Pitcairn?” he asked.

I boggled. After all, it is a British Overseas Territory, but I was actually having to resist answering, “the ass end of nowhere.” I stumbled over the explanation, then Rick piped up to explain.

“Where the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty‘ happened” is generally the simplest explanation, though not quite correct as that’s where the mutineers wound up, not where the mutiny occurred.

You can get to Helsinki even from Pitcairn. It’ll just take a while.

Pitcairn Island

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

I wrote this some time ago; it’s been a draft sitting on my computer for quite a while. It’s as true now as it was then, though.

Looking at prospective panelists, I’m surprised at how many published writers trying to promote themselves do not or cannot:

  1. Have their own domain name,
  2. Have an excerpt up on their site,
  3. Write a paragraph introducing themselves,
  4. Understand what a paragraph is,
  5. Bother to mention a URL where their book is,
  6. (for the non-indies) Mention who their publisher is.

And yet want to be on a panel about building a brand or give a solo presentation about same.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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