Friday, October 31, 2008

WFC 2008: Day Two -- It's Elementary

I sit here, laxing out until the autograph session later tonight. It was definitely a busy afternoon.

Panel: Tom Doherty Interview (Tom Doherty, David Hartwell)

The founder of Tor talked about his early experiences in the publishing business ... right up to about the founding of the company, in fact, with a brief touch upon some upcoming Tor works that he thought were exciting. The man is hilarious, truly, and what a convoluted road! He also cited a major problem with the current book business in that we used to have hundreds of small wholesale distributors with drivers who knew the area and had some idea of the demographic. Now with everything being nationalized, it's impossible to know what to sell to where. It's a problem being worked on, but not fixed yet.

Panel: Side-Kicks Who Try To Steal The Show (Dave Duncan, J.R. Campbell, Charles Prepolec, Barbara Roden (moderator))

Oh, there were some grins and giggles here - but also some genuinely interesting observations about the sidekick as the reader stand-in, protagonist mirror, unruly takeovers ...

Panel: Is Fantasy An Inherently Violent Genre? (David Morrell, Stephen R. Donaldson (no show), David Drake, Scott Lynch (moderator, no show))

Difficult to say how this panel would have gone if it had been more than half populated. A lot of talk about real world violence instead, specifically as relates to Vietman. I did take away a few valuable points, but felt kind of uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Panel: Medieval Mysteries (Barbara Hambly, Patricia McKillip, Irene Radford, David Keck (moderator))

A really interesting panel, despite the fact that I'm not sure there was enough communication between the program directors and the authors to know why they were on it. (I put that on the program folks, not the authors, but I'm sure they were juggling a ton.) Covered a variety of topics, some related, some a little tangential.

I must read some of David Keck's stuff. The man is hilarious. I was also interested enough in what Barbara Hambly had to say that I am willing to give her works another try. (The last book I read - ironically, picked up at a prior World Fantasy Convention - did not leave me with a favorable impression.)

That completes the panel part of today. I went out after to find takeout food, walked down the wrong way, ended up in the Calgary Tower which was NOT a shopping mall (... well!) and finally backtracked to a Quiznos. Sort of luckily, another conference member happened in and we walked back to the hotel together, 'cause it was starting to get ... weird ... on the streets of Calgary. Did not know Quiznos had flatbread pizzas! Sort of disappointing, though.

Also got my hands on pineapple juice. Well, apple-pineapple juice, anyhow.

WFC 2008: Day Two -- Good Morning Sunshine

So although I stole the shampoo and soap from the last hotel, I do not care for this one's white ginger kick.

Anyyyyhow ...

Rise and shine! Day two is afoot and the panels are heating up.

Panel: Real Life Villains (David Morrell, Anita Siraki, Mark Van Name, Janine Young (moderator))

This was a really interesting, thoughtful discussion about constructing realistic villains and how to take inspiration from real life. I've always subscribed to the school that (with the exception of the utterly crazy) villains think they are doing the right thing - they've just dehumanized their opponents to the point that their actions are "excusable." It was definitely supported here.

Panel: Adding Mystery To Your Fiction (Sean Williams (no show), Laurel Anne Hill, Jana Oliver, Daryl Gregory (moderator))

I got some good recommendations out of this and actually purchased one of Oliver's books later. Some interesting points: to some extent, all fantasies are mysteries, where the mystery (for the reader) is, "How does the world work? A lot of good tips for masking clues and bringing out red herrings that believe me, I will keep in mind. The irony is I'm not planning to write my mystery yet ...

Though I was sitting feeling all stupidly smug as they were talking about how hard it is to write fantasy-mystery short stories. I've written five, sold three, two of which are in print (one being reprinted in the Best Of anthology I mentioned) and one of which will come out any day now, and am working on one more.

Dealer's Room: Made an idiot of myself with Oliver. Same with Patrick Swenson, trying to explain that I'd loved the issue I read of Talebones. Kinda glad I didn't introduce myself.

I am not sure I am capable of conference networking. Had a second of wondering if I'm ever going to make it if I can't approach people socially. And that sucks, because I know I have the talent. (Maybe not the discipline to beat the talent into the right form yet - I've acknowledged my editing has flaws and am working on them hard.)

Still not sure how to find or get my hands on the Abyss and Apex anthology. Know where I can find the editor tomorrow, though ...

WFC 2008: Day One -- The Main Event

I won't try and reproduce all my notes here, but here are some thoughts about my first day of the convention itself:

Panel: Are Appendices Needed? (Tad Williams, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Julianne Lee, Susan Forest, Barb Galler-Smith (moderator)

In which we find out that if you need the appendix to follow the book, there's something wrong with it, and that Williams and Modesitt ought to be on the road as a comedy team.

In which I also consider that I need to make a map for Journal of the Dead as I'm editing, and hope like heck I don't have to change it because then I potentially have to re-date 40+ entries. In which I also consider that I really need to look up how long (and exactly when) the annual flooding of the Nile was as that's what I based my society on.

Awesome point made - boundaries are usually at natural barriers. If they're arbitrary lines, then those are the work of surveyors and not terribly plausible in a lot of fantasy.

Panel: Where Have All The Magical Creatures Gone? (Patricia McKillip, Dennis L. McKiernan, Robert Vardeman (moderator))

In which we find out ... primarily a long list of books to check out. But I think McKillip is a sweet lady.

Dinner break! In which I find out the smoothie place closes before I get off for said. And that I have a light in my closet.

Also have tremendous trouble working thermostat until I realize that the arcane numbers I am staring at are temperature ranges. Oh right. In Celsius.

Panel: Argh! My Alien is an Elf! (Robert J. Sawyer, Joe Haldeman, Stephen Stirling, Walter Jon Williams (moderator))

In which we find out that there really is an awful lot of this going on. (George R.R. Martin, of all people, apparently has a scientific vampire novel.) Cross-genre pollination - fantasy and horror tropes in scifi - that is.

These people were hysterical. I haven't laughed this much in ages. There were wild topic diversions (a long dialogue about whether to use pop references in SF, for instance), but it was all in good fun. Another long list of books. Two quotes of note, not precisely recorded but close enough:

"The creature in Alien is basically Cthulhu in a spacesuit." --Joe Haldeman
"We don't have holy missions, we just have fun!" -- Stephen Stirling

Panel: Small Press Roundtable (Jeremy Lassen, Jacob Weisman, Brian Hades, Victoria Blake, Patrick Swenson (moderator))

In which we find out that Lindsey despairs of getting anywhere because of the emphasis on networking. Also that Zelazny had a previously unpublished mystery novel coming out in January. Must check this out!

Did not know Swenson (who did not actually moderate - I think Hades did) had a press as well as a magazine. Groovy.

I have produced much doodling and almost as much coughing. I will now contrive to see if I can get snacks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

WFC 2008: Day One -- Preparations

It's like the world decided, "Okay, after yesterday, let's be nice to Lindsey."

I woke up at 8am, but quasi-passed back out until 9, giving me about ten and a half hours of sleep. Most of it pretty decent - I never sleep THAT well in hotel rooms, but I only remember waking up a couple of times. I checked out, hit the streets, and trundled my way down to the Hyatt, where I stowed my luggage and went to register and pick up my book packet.

Twelve beautiful books (one of which I exchanged because I'm not into horror), including a couple of anthologies ...

... a hardbound copy of Mother of Lies. AUUUUUGH!

I am going to take it to Duncan (no relation) to be signed on Friday eve, which is the autograph reception.

I tried to find Buzzard's Cowboy Grill (hey, that's the local specialty) to eat, but misinterpreted the clerk's direction and went the wrong way. I found a little cafe with good food (though I couldn't finish it - my stomach's just not wanting to eat) ... and a shopping mall.

Sadly, though they had a music store, they did not have Shoot From The Hip. What they did have was a little bakery. Am making plans for breakfast. This center is close enough for easy eating. If it doesn't get dark early, I think I'm set for the week.

Got back, found out that, since the hotel is fully booked, they were offering parlor rooms with a roll-in bed at a reduced rate WITH internet included.

Me: ... is there a question?

It is a gorgeous conference-style room with a living area, a one-wall full window, a kitchen with fridge / freezer, and a bathroom the size of some rooms I have stayed in. With ... a phone in it. What? Who makes phonecalls from their bathroom?

The coughing is now accompanied by sniffling. I'm hoping this is due to a change in allergy zones - my medication is frequently ineffective the first 3-4 days I'm in a new region. If not, I know what I'll be drinking ...

... pineapple juice!

Seriously, it has all the vitamins of orange juice, but doesn't mess up your vocal chords. Learned this on a reading website.

My shoes are falling apart.

First session in under an hour!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taking Flight

Today started at 4am. The following is not for those who have a low tolerance for kvetchery. ;-)

My flight to Calgary (through Northwest) for the World Fantasy Convention was supposed to leave Dayton at 7am, connect (with a long layover) in Minneapolis, and then get me into the city at around 1pm local time. Perfect, says I: plenty of time to sleep it off.

Even the best plans do not survive encounters with the airline industry.

Plane boarded on time, everything normal ... but then we sat. Captain announced that they had called maintenance to check something with the navigation computer. Took them forever to arrive. Then they ... turned out the lights briefly. Finally, they deplaned everyone, stating that they needed to fully shut down the plane and restart it.

(So I'm thinking: planes = computers?)

They offered to reschedule people who had close connections. I had a three hr layover, but I was concerned about the international part of it, so I got in line to at least ask my questions. Good thing - when I was three people from the front, they announced it had been outright canceled.

So I'm not leaving until 10:10. (I coulda slept in!) I'm going ... through O'Hare, via United. Aaaaack. The first connection to Calgary is overbooked, so instead of roughly the same layover, it is about four and a half hours.

Note also that I've had a nasty cough since Monday. I am ninety percent sure it is allergies because it has not evolved, but I can just see people looking at me thinking, "Plague carrier!"

So finally boarding the plane to O'Hare, there's a slight delay. (... oh what are the odds it happens twice? I'm thinking.) The captain explains that the plane is something like a teeter-totter and they need to balance out the weight in the back.

The usages for your planes are limited only by your imagination.

Note that by this time I've already read a hundred pages of Monstrous Regiment and none of the planes has taken off yet. I have been awake six hours.

Hurrah! Finally take off. Arrive in O'Hare ... early. Discover my departure gate is directly next to my arrival gate. (That it later moved sadly lessens the irony.) The less said about trying to eat at Johnny Rockets there, the better.

Had some random conversations with people, including a woman who had just come from Calgary and told me it was balmy. Oops, says I with the heavy winter wardrobe.

Sidebar: Sprite Zero on first plane, milkshake and pink lemonade in O'Hare, ginger ale on second plane, pom-e-berry smoothie in Calgary ... I am a drinking fiend.

Upside: I was in an exit seat on the first flight and economy plus on the second, so did have a little more room.

Flight is almost forty-five minutes late departing. I have now passed the twelve hour mark. The guy next to me is a little too big for the seat. (I am ashamed to say that I was maybe a little too obvious trying to squeeze into the corner.) Meant to sleep on this flight, but there were a pair of babies on board.

Now, I do not have mixed feelings about crying children on planes insofar as I hate them. What I have yet to decide is whether the restaurant rule should apply - if they can't behave, don't make the other fifty people around you miserable by eating there (or taking the plane). But taking a plane isn't always a luxury, so maybe that's not fair. I blame my crabbiness.

Silver lining: by the time I reached Calgary, it was sunset. Some really ethereal views - mist pouring down the mountains struck with sunset, and then bleeding down into a landscape that looked as if it had been airbrushed in pastels.

Turbulent descent. The route to customs apparently circles four times around the exterior of the airport and is designed to make dirty foreigners work for their vacation. By now I am so tired that I can barely talk. Customs agent does a double-take when I say I am a professional harp player. I am vaguely gleeful.

Arrival - hurrah! I wait on pins and needles to see if my luggage somehow made it off the Northwest flight. There it is, neat as a pin. I do a little dance. No, seriously. I did.

I get to the shuttle service and find out I can't get a return ticket (oh well) and that I have yet another 45 mins before I can board said shuttle. I flop around the terminal.

... bizarreness highlight of the trip, a very old Irish traveller noticed I was sitting in my uncomfortable-looking cross-kneed position and stopped to ask me how I did it.

At this point, I forget I stuck my shuttle ticket in the pocket and flip out, run to the lady to explain ... and then find it again. Boy, am I glad I am not going to see these people again.

Shuttle-ride was interminable. I swear the guy drove around the same blocks sixty times, stopping every two feet for lights. Finally tumbled into my hotel, eighteen hours portal to portal, 4:30am (EST) to 8:30pm (MST).

... okay. Sleep now.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


CD collection #3, involving songs with a fantasy element, whether it be in mood, word choice or the events of the song. There are some ballads I chose not to use because they were just too darned long, and they're also not very good car-listening - but honestly, I was leaning less towards the literal and more towards an impression. And, also, songs where it's not meant to be taken literally, but oh, it's amusing if you do ...

1. Do You Believe In Magic? (The Lovin' Spoonful)
2. The Power (Amy Grant)
3. Marrakesh Night Market (Loreena McKennit)
4. The Simple Joys of Maidenhood (Camelot soundtrack)
5. Anywhere Is (Enya)
6. Maybe an Angel (Heather Nova)
7. I Love You (Amy Grant)
8. The Old Ways (Loreena McKennit)
9. Pot of Gold (Dian Diaz)
10. Eve (Chantal Kreviazuk)
11. Tir Na Nog (Laura Powers)
12. It's Raining Men (Geri Halliwell)
13. King Kong (Kirsty MacColl)
14. Song of the Swan Maiden (Golden Bough)
15. Us Amazonians (Kirsty MacColl)
16. Fallen Angel (Debbie Gibson)
17. Halloween (Kirsty MacColl) --- yes, yes, Lindsey, we get it, you have a lot MacColl songs
18. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Sarah Brightman)
19. So Magical (Martina McBride)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Augh! Auuuugh!

... I'm doing a reading. At the World Fantasy Convention.

Five minutes during a Rapidfire with the ladies of Broad Universe. Of course, I chose the story that's being released at the event and also happens to be a fantasy mystery ...

... I just found out for sure today, which means I am running madly looking up reading tips and planning to rehearse.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Went through most of the first CD on the to-and-fro to harp gathering on Saturday. Augh, what a day. CD mix #2 in my car, based on emotions and feelings - "mere" love not enough for inclusion, of course.

1. What Is This Feeling? ("Wicked" soundtrack - Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth)
2. Are You Happy Now? (Michelle Branch)
3. I'm Not In The Mood (To Say No) (Shania Twain)
4. With One Look ("Sunset Boulevard" - Mary Carewe)
5. Heaven's What I Feel (Gloria Estefan)
6. Sorry For Love (Celine Dion)
7. All I Care About ("Chicago" soundtrack - Richard Gere)
8. Evacuee (Enya)
9. Just Ain't Feeling It (Dian Diaz)
10. You're So Vain (Carly Simon)
11. Treachery (Kirsty MacColl)
12. Shattered (Linda Ronstadt)
13. Mysterious Days (Sarah Brightman)
14. Peaceful (Helen Reddy)
15. Happy (Kirsty MacColl)
16. Wintery Feeling (Anne Murray)
17. I See Hope (Midge Ure)
18. Faith (Celine Dion)
19. I Don't Feel So Well (Vienna Teng)
20. Emotion (Helen Reddy)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reading List

I've put together the following "reading list" in preparation for my novel project. I'm beginning to think that maybe I should write the other one instead whilst I'm doing science fiction preparation ... but I'm not really in a rush. Anyhow:

Aliens and Alien Societies by Stanley Schmidt
The Cartoon Guide to Genetics by Larry Gonick and Mark Wheelis
The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Gonick and Huffman
(these two are science-for-dumbies books on a couple of topics that I might need to have a better grasp on. Depending on how much I get from this, it's likely I'll look for more.)
45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
Borderlands of Science by Charles Sheffield (on order)
Genderspeak: Men, Women and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Hadin Elgin
Possibly "How To Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" by Orson Scott Card. I've read this book before, but a refresher wouldn't hurt.

So midway between research, looking for further inspiration, and sounding out where I have weak spots.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Any Part of Your ...

I've been scarce because I've been taking an online writing workshop which is more or less swallowing all my free time. It's a one week course that started Monday, and it is definitely getting me in the mood for the WFC! But I'm going to have a fair bit of mundane work to get done next week so I can prepare to leave ... *pant*

I also am cycling my car CDs again. First CD is "Any Part of Your ..." which refers to a specific line in one of the songs ("If I Can't Dance"). It ends that specific phrase: "If I can't dance, then I don't want any part of your revolution ..." So these are all songs about rebellion and kicking up one's heels and such.

You might notice some new names on here: I finally went through some of my unlistened CDs and cherry-picked.

1. If I Can't Dance (Sophie Ellis-Bextor)
2. I Am Woman (Helen Reddy)
3. Free World (Kirsty MacColl)
4. Refuse To Dance (Celine Dion)
5. Waiting For The Healing (Amy Grant)
6. Dangerous Game (Gloria Estefan)
7. Something To Believe In (Sarah Brightman)
8. Us Amazonians (Kirsty MacColl)
9. Free (Faith Hill)
10. Seal Our Fate (Gloria Estefan)
11. Runaway (Anna Sahlene)
12. Whatever You Want (Vienna Teng)
13. Libre (Paulina Rubio)
14. This Time (Celine Dion)
15. Fight (Amy Grant)
16. White Flag (Dido)
17. Troublemaker (Anna Sahlene)
18. Defying Gravity ("Wicked" soundtrack - Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth)
19. Children of the Revolution (Kirsty MacColl)

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I finally did decide my project - the last one, with the possibility that, after a few months, I might go back and start the first one. I know, wild, but I've always done better with multiple things on my plate. It allows me to shift gears and incubate on the project I'm not doing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The ... Seven

Depending on how charitible towards myself I'm feeling, that ... might be Significant, might be Startling, but also could be Silly or, more drastically, Stupid.

Regardless, that Seven refers to my current crop of ideas for my next novel project. Because I'm taking an online writers' workshop next week (this is NOT the WFC; a whole different deal), I'd ideally like to have one chosen by that time so I can use the worldbuilding exercises to specifically work on said novel. (... does that make any sense at all?) Right now, I'm just letting the choices percolate on my brain.

Anyhow, here for amusement are rough summaries, with a few scattered thoughts as to pros, cons and other. I am actually leaning (though not strongly leaning) towards one in particular.

Throw an ice-queen song-sorceress and a dissolute prince-heir together into a faux marriage that to everyone else has to look perfectly genuine, add an unfriendly kingdom, its sundry spies and one honest general, and stir in a vicious sect of mage-assassins … oh, and a song-mage named Staven who seems to continually get tasked with the impossible job of keeping the quarreling couple down to earth. Give them a few nasty secrets to spice up the pot and – stir.
Thoughts: This is a rewrite of serial stories I did about a decade ago. I’d say I got between half and two thirds through the overarching plot in my serial, so I have a pretty solid idea of what the plot does. It will require a lot of reading and thought to decide what elements to keep, what to revise, and what to completely toss.

A prominent mage dies under mysterious circumstances after petitioning for the rights of familiars, and her own familiar takes on the case with the mage's former apprentice at her side. Unfortunately, the suspect list is long and tangled, and the authorities are in no mood either to see the answer found, or to cooperate with a lesser being.
Thoughts: I’ve attempted a few fantasy mysteries; this would be my first attempt at novel length.

A world where the progression of seasons determines politics, individual alignment – everything. Absentminded mage-scholar Evairyn Malkor and hard-bitten archer Keldrys Whitehand are thrown together when a king demands that the two infiltrate the Sunburst Empire (summer) to retrieve the emperor’s secret weapon. Unfortunately, the mysterious Raven Queen also has her interests in this weapon – which will turn out to be, not an item, but Evairyn’s daughter, who she believed had been stillborn.
Thoughts: I have to admit, this is sort of stock fantasy, and I just got done writing a novel where the character’s interaction with her child was a driving force. But on the other hand, I really know Evvie, and it would be fun to work with her. Also, it’s a really neat, overarching world concept.

A story of a shapeshifter who is trying to find a new home for her people – they sleep dormant in a necklace she wears around her neck. She and a poet travel through Ovid’s Metamorphoses, narrowly avoiding zealots who believe her an abomination and scientists who want to put her in a zoo. Lots of mini-romantic subplots, though at the end we find out that the best of the menfolk were the same one, pursuing her as a shapeshifter himself. Hit upon the most interesting transformations (to me); do the others in passing.
Thoughts: I adore Greek mythology. It is one of my unholy obsessions. This would take a lot of research and some thoughtful outlining to pull off.

It used to be a common occurrence that criminals would steal corpses and hold them for ransom. A cross between Egyptian and Grecian world and mythos, where losing the coin under the tongue before the underworld journey dooms one to the far side of the river Styx. The (late) heroine tries to find a way to escape, aided by others who have been trapped in this limbo but only need a motivating leader to try again. Meanwhile, her corpse is abducted by three graverobbers, and upset little sister Meritaen commits suicide and takes the perilous journey to the underworld to plead her case … while her former SO, a secretary of some kind who was later engaged to marry a high-ranking noble, put his position in jeopardy trying to rescue her corpse.
Thought: I have to admit, a story focused on manuevering around the afterlife – it appeals.

A young woman is left the old, enchanted family house and a mountain of debts. Desperate for money, she must accept rent from her uncles, four cantankerous old sorcerers. Enter: one angry apprentice jipped by the men, a sultry and seductive sorceress, the MC’s literary agent, and a town full of cheerfully superstitious folk who feed the fairies with regularity. MC writes greeting cards and romance novels, but accidentally finds herself contracted for a fanasy novel when she shows up late to a pitch and tries to explain what her uncles have just put her through.Thoughts: This one really needs a plot, but I’m going for “comedy of errors” here.
Title: An Inundation of Uncles

Anaea Carlisle has lived her entire life on an isolated space station. She has been told it is a refuge from civilization in ruins, destroyed when the Derithe attacked humanity with a disease known as Y-Poisoning. Because it affects only males, the station’s entire population is female. On salvage, a young man is rescued who seems to know things that contradict what Anaea has always been told. Fascinated, she follows his story and flees the station to find that some alternatives are worse than the secret kept. Humanity has fractured into two civilizations, one where survivors of Y-Poisoning – only the most testosterone-ridden men – took over; another where men too marginal to be affected have been shoved aside into a political female world.
Thoughts: This is actually an extrapolation of a short story I wrote. I was told multiple times when I had it critiqued and by at least two editors when I submitted that it would make an excellent premise for a novel. If I did this, the 6,700 word short story would probably be lengthened and expanded into the first 20,000 words or so of the novel. After that I have NO idea what happens.

Maybe ...

Maybe it's just the day. Maybe it's my mood - I've been fighting malaise the past few days again.

But it's kind of sad that I've reached the place where finishing a novel draft is, "Okay, right, whatever."

Ironically, looking ahead to my next plans does perk me up a bit ... but come on. I should be celebrating.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Boot Camp!

My third boot camp - working through Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood - was just completed. Probable next step is to choose one of the exercises to expand into a story, but I am so bursting with things I want to do and experiment with and ... I haven't had this much juice in a while.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

In Need of Storage

This "inspired by true events" (sorta) story has gone to press with Tales of the Talisman:

One of my "other jobs" is I do evaluations of phone calls made to storage facilities. After having done a few too many of these, this story came to me.

Okay, so what if you had to store something REALLY unusual ...