hrj: (doll)

The schedule is out for Chessiecon in Timmonium MD (Thanksgiving weekend) and I have some great program items to participate in!

In addition to my reading, which will double as a release party for Mother of Souls, I'll be on a couple of panel discussions about topic near and dear to Alpennia. Combining Hard Science and Fantasy (or: High-Tech Magic) looks at how authors set up the underlying rules for fantastic or magical worlds. Silent Symphonies: Incorporating Music into Literature will discuss the challenge of describing music through text, when that music is a vital part of the story. (I can't wait for people to see how well I managed to describe magical operas in Mother of Souls.) It's Awesome, Well-Written, and Groundbreaking...But Do You Like It? This is a question that's been nibbling at me for the last several years: what do you do when all your friends describe a book as mind-blowingly fabulous and you think it's...merely very good? And I'll finish up on Sunday with Stupendous Bollocks, a game-show type format where we panelists get scored on how interesting our discussions about a topic are--whether they're true or not. If you think my research and documentation is fascinating, you should see what I can do when I don't let veracity stand in the way!

hrj: (doll)
Since I currently have to manually duplicate my blog content here on LJ, I'm going to save a bit of sanity and just post pointers to my alpennia.com blog.

Tuesday's Teaser for Mother of Souls

Wednesday's A Little Princess re-read discussion
hrj: (doll)
The final schedule for MidAmericon II, this year's Worldcon, is up and I've added my singing signing and kaffeeklatsch events to my posted schedule. Barring a delivery disaster, I'll have Alpennia badge ribbons to hand out, so make sure to find me and ask for one!

See typo correction. Given my history, a "singing" event might be misleading!
hrj: (doll)

My primary blog has moved, but feel free to comment in either place.


It's that time of the summer when I suddenly realize it's time to book my flight to Kansas City for this year's Worldcon (World Science Fiction Convention). If you followed along with all my convention blogging last year, you may remember that Worldcon was the event that left me thinking, "This. This is what a successful convention experience can be. Remember this if you're ever feeling down or left out or marginalized in the SFF community." To be sure, every Worldcon is different: a different location, a different organizing committee, a different slice of the SFF community. But it helps to go in with the confidence that I pretty much know how this thing works and that it will work for me.


In addition to the programming, I'm planning to have some fun Alpennia swag to hand out. (Memo to self: in addition to booking flight, work on Alpennia swag!) And--following an approach that worked well last year--I'm making a list of "friends I haven't met in person yet" to contact about penciling in social plans.


Check out my panel schedule here. And if you're going to be there too, please let me know so we can make sure to bump into each other.

hrj: (doll)
Skipped a workout Monday morning because I wanted to get packed up and checked out before panels started. Went to a panel on "Bay Area's Separated Fandoms - Why?" which ended up being more of a "what" than a "why". We got something of a survey of the history of Bay Area fandom, and then a discussion of what the current significant thematic conventions are, and how various interests have moved and shifted. There was an acknowledgment that Bay Con, as an old-style "gen con" has tended to lose various segments of fandom to more focused events (especially ones also scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend!), in some cases leaving awkward gaps in the con experience, but in other cases simply acknowledging that those interests had been something of a separate con-within-a-con to begin with.

Next up, I was a panelist for a costuming discussion "make it accurate or make it pretty?" I thought it was a lively and nuanced discussion of how to balance the various possible costuming goals, with an understanding of venue, purpose, one's own role in the costumed function (e.g., staff vs. guest). Jean Martin was a fabulous moderator and my fellow panelists were all thoughtful, eloquent, and well-prepared.

Following that, I attended a panel on disability representation in genre that [livejournal.com profile] katerit was on (though I was planning to go anyway). Very good discussion, despite being set up as something of a standard "Disability 101" topic. (And despite the occasional obliviously derailing efforts of an audience member who was nursing some grudge from the '70s about feminism and kept trying to find some equivalence between disability marginalization and misandry...it was a bit hard to tell, given the level of incoherence. The panelists kept trying to politely re-direct. At one point I bluntly told him his question was way outside the scope of the panel.)

Finished up by having a leisurely lunch with [livejournal.com profile] katerit and a friend from File 770. It was a good thing we had lots to chat about, because the coffee shop staff were scaled way back and in the end I had to go hunting for someone to get us our check. And then it was back home to check on the riotous growth of the tomatoes and cucumbers (Yay! Cucumber!), to check out the two book deliveries that had arrived while I was gone, and to actually manage to unpack fully and put the suitcase away (something I hadn't managed after the Kalamazoo trip).

It was a good con for book promotion: the bookseller in the dealers' room who carried the Alpennia books sold out of what he'd brought, and all sorts of people came up to me randomly to tell me how much they'd loved them. (Including some totally unscripted and unpaid shills in panel audiences who saved me from having to promote my own work. It's so much easier to focus on promoting the books by other people that I love when I can relax about my own books.)

The next convention this year will be Worldcon, and I need to get working on the swag I plan to bring for it. I have some ideas I think people will enjoy.
hrj: (doll)
Started the day off with a workout again. The elliptical in the hotel gym is just different enough in action from my usual machine that my calf muscles are sore! Obviously I need to change up my routine more often.

I was audience for a panel on "Truth in History" which discussed the importance of basing fiction on the multiplicity of historic truths (and not just oversimplified "official history" written by winners and conquerors)--not simply for ethical reasons, but because it makes for more varied and more interesting fiction. Also noted was the tendency of readers to learn their history from fictionalized versions, perhaps even more than from history texts. So the choices we make in writing versions of history can shape public understanding of that history, for good or ill.

I was a panelist for "Does that come in vanilla?" for which the panel description was: There is an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a stereotype worth debunking? Having dispensed with the simplistic question in the title, we had a spirited discussion of why people's images of marginalized sexualities tend to get bundled with specific communities, behaviors, or tastes, and how (or whether) outsiders' understandings can be broadened. But we also discussed bundled assumptions about sexuality within marginalized communities, and the purposes that these assumptions serve, but within the community and in negotiating the external image of the community. (If I recall correctly, I started my introduction by apologizing for all the academese I was going to use reflexively.)

I had a lovely spot of late lunch with [livejournal.com profile] ritaxis getting beta-reader feedback from her, to supplement the written notes I'll be getting. Later had off-site dinner at a small, crowded but fabulous Thai place with Karen, Chaz, Brad Lyau, and Kitt Kerr.

After getting back to the hotel, I poked my head into the concert of a Snow White musical but I'm afraid I found it didn't catch my interest, so I fulfilled the pledge I'd made to myself to actually use the hotel pool and jacuzzi. It was hard to find congenial socializing after that -- a handful of room parties, but nothing really conducive to in-depth conversation. I hung out with lurkertype (from File770) the San Jose worldcon bid party for a while, then we swung by the My Little Pony party, who were said to have amusing thematic mixed drinks (which alas were WAY TOO SWEET). And so to bed, as Pepys would say.
hrj: (doll)
There's still something about the physical layout of the hotel that is just throwing me off balance. And whether it really is drifting cigarette smoke in the lobby and cafe areas or simply the ordinary dry hotel air, my lungs and sinuses have been vaguely unhappy all day. This contributed to just throwing in the towel after dinner and retreating to my room.

But I had a lovely long chat with Setzu over morning coffee. And the panels were enjoyable. I was audience for a "favorite villains" panel which included some interesting ways of looking at different flavors of "bad guy" and how they contribute to the story. After lunch I was on a panel on how to dress your characters (we turned it into a combination of issues with clothing authenticity in historic settings, and the narrative functions of clothing, as well as descriptive pitfalls). It suffered a bit from disorganization and lack of direction by the moderator, but I think the audience (who participated quite a bit) had a good time. Then I was on a rather small panel (with similarly small audience) on "genre ghettos". We talked a lot about niche marketing, how to find audiences for books that fall between cracks and how those audiences can help spread the word. Plus the ways in which reader and bookseller preconceptions about genre can hamper getting books in the hands of their intended audience.

After that I was feeling a bit peckish and after trying unsuccessfully to linger in places where I might pick up dinner partners (see previous comments about unsatisfactory layout & traffic issues), I settled for a lonely burger and then called it a day.
hrj: (doll)
I have decided that this weekend will also serve as being a relaxing holiday as well as a convention. My programming is nicely spread out across all four days, and none of it particularly early in the morning.

The one minor annoyance about the hotel layout for my intended plans is that there's really no good "casual hanging out space". The bar is a small space off the coffee shop with high-perch chairs. There's an open seating area with tables out in front of the coffee shop that is sometimes used for table service spill-over but other times is available for casual sitting, but it's very much tables-and-chairs, not lounge space. There's a cozy little lounge area with a fireplace on the other side of the lobby, but it's included in the space being used for registration and so isn't available for general use. The middle of the lobby has a central fixture with upholstered benches on four sides, which I suppose could serve the purpose, but it's right in the middle of the coming-and-going for hotel check-in. And there's also a minor annoyance in that all these lobby-adjacent spaces (the cafe spill-over, the lobby benches, etc.) seem to me to be getting a lot of air-drift from the smoking areas outside the front of the building. The hotel itself is smoke-free, but the designated smoking areas are in locations that seem to cause bleed-over into all the natural hanging out spaces. (I may be noticing it more than usual because my lungs are still recovering from the bug I brought back from Chicago.)

But enough about annoyances. My first panel, "Connections from the past and how we deal with them" was sparsely attended, partly from being the first time-slot of the event, partly because there were evidently some snafus at con reg that were backing people up. We started with just us four panelists talking to each other and ended with three audience members (one, a husband of a panelist). But we explored the stated topic and had a good time.

After that I explored the dealers room and art show and spend a fair amount of time wandering around figuring out where things were. But eventually what I wanted was to sit in some comfortable public space where I could watch people go by and spot people I wanted to talk to or meet. And I simply couldn't find any space that worked for it. In late afternoon, right after I'd tweeted something to that effect, I bumped into Kitt Kerr and Theresa Edgerton and joined them for another wander through the dealers room. And then they were similarly looking for a place to sit and chat so we found something reasonable in the corridor leading to the cafe, where there were comfy chairs but it wasn't quite so much in the smoke-drift patterns. Being in a traffic flow area did what it was supposed to, and we picked up Deborah J. Ross and Juliette Wade, and a passing visit from Setzu Uzume (one of the Tweeps I'd made a note to make sure to meet up with), and that led into having dinner with Deborah and Juliette+family, who are people I'd never really gotten to know previously so I felt quite socially successful.

The "meet the guests" social was quite low-key with a chairs-around-tables set-up and I first spent a bit of time standing looking around for some group I felt comfortable connecting with. Eventually I gave up and used my fall-back technique of picking a table at random and saying, "Hi, I don't know any of you, can I join you?" and since I ended up being the only person with a "guest" ribbon at that table, I also felt virtuous about fulfilling the "mixer" function.

A little later I as accosted by someone I know through File770 but who uses a different name face-to-face and so had to make the connection for me. She dragged me off to the San Jose worldcon bid party (for which I'm already a pre-supporter) to chat which rounded out the evening.

Too often when I have a leisurely schedule on weekends, it means I have trouble sleeping, but so far I seem to be getting plenty. My body doesn't quite understand the whole bit about not getting up on a work-day schedule, but I lazed a bit then went down to the hotel gym for some elliptical time. I swear that I will also take advantage of the pool and jacuzzi at some point. I brought a suit and dammit I'm going to use it.
hrj: (Alpennia w text)
I'll be enjoying hanging out with friends and fellow writers at BayCon this weekend. It's at a new venue this year (the San Mateo Marriott) and I'll be trying to add a bit of relaxing down-time by checking in Thursday after work. If you're going to be there, by all means find me to say "Hi!" and if you're there Thursday evening as well, by all means ping me for a meet-up. But even moreso, if you think I might have entertaining things to say on any of the following topics, check out the panels listed below.

I don't typically volunteer for costume-related panels because my costuming activities tend to be in other venues, but there was an interesting one on dealing with clothing in world-building, and another that was on a topic I've enjoyed discussing before (in SCA contexts) that revolves around compromise trade-offs depending on what your costuming goals are.

The panel on "marketing ghettos" is certainly likely to be lively, given how much work I do to climb over the walls of the various marketing categories I fall into. And I've ventured a little out of my comfort zone to plunge into the debate over why/whether non-normative sexualities have a knee-jerk association with "kink" (however one interprets that) in SFF contexts. (Hint: I can see both sides of the thesis and will cheerfully talk about both, although one can probably guess which side I fall on personally.)

And if you spot me sitting alone in the lobby of the coffee shop with my laptop, don't hesitate to introduce yourself! If I didn't want to talk to people, I'd be hiding in my room.

Friday

Connections From The Past and How We Deal With Them
Friday 13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 5

Hey, that creepy ex-boyfriend just found me on facebook. Wow! That beloved, long lost buddy is at an SCA event. Oh... you're THAT Sally! The good, the bad and the chew-your-own-leg off aspects of people from your past and how they shape your present. Is it good or bad that Facebook puts us back in contact with people we'd never have seen again?

Panelists: Colin Fisk (M), ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Ja Shia

Saturday

Costume in Fiction - Creating the total package
Saturday 14:30 - 16:00, Synergy 5

Your hero from another world isn't going to be wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt (most likely), nor will your altermate history ... come discuss the bare bones of costuming challenges as they are found by writers.

Panelists: ElizaBeth Gilligan (M), Heather Rose Jones, Denise Tanaka, Debbie Bretschneider

Marketing Ghettos
Saturday 16:00 - 17:30, Collaborate 2

Just what is the difference between Dark Fantasy and Horror Thriller? Modern Fantasy vs. Alternate History?

Panelists: Jay Hartlove (M), Heather Rose Jones, Kyle Aisteach

Sunday

Does That Come In Vanilla?
Sunday 13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 4

18 AND OVER ONLY, PLEASE!

There's an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a sterotype worth debunking?

Panelists: Lance Moore Mr. (M), Heather Rose Jones, Tory Parker, Jean Batt

Monday

Historical Costuming- Make it Perfect or Make it Pretty
Monday 11:30 - 13:00, Convene

Historical costuming frequently runs into a choice between modern aesthetics and precise historical accuracy. Panelists will cover a variety of views on finding the balance.

Panelists: Jean Martin (M), Ms Sandra Durbin, Stacy Ferguson, Heather Rose Jones, Jim Partridge, Fr John Blaker
hrj: (Alpennia w text)
It's always interesting to see what, among the convention programming, looks like a good enough fit that I should put in a request to participate. (Also a gamble to see whether programming decides I'd be among the best fit to put on what I select!)

I discovered last year that, although I can list "work in the biotech industry" among my potentially relevant skills, I don't actually enjoy ending up on science panels that much. And conversely, although I've done a lot of research and experimentation with historic costume, I don't really do convention-style costuming, so I generally don't pick those panels. But somehow two of the costume-related panels at BayCon looked like I might have something to say, and programming agreed.

I've also quickly gotten tired of "Women in X" and "Queer 101" panels, though I'll take them if there isn't a better fit for my writing interests. But once again, there were some non-generic panels in that area that I was placed on.

So, with that introduction, here is my programming schedule for BayCon 2016, Memorial Day weekend in San Jose. Make sure to say "hi" if you're there (or better yet, drop me a comment and let's arrange to intersect--which is much better for calming my anxiety about wandering around on the fringes with no one to talk to).

Friday

Connections From The Past and How We Deal With Them
13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 5 (San Mateo Marriott)

Hey, that creepy ex-boyfriend just found me on facebook. Wow! That beloved, long lost buddy is at an SCA event. Oh... you're THAT Sally! The good, the bad and the chew-your-own-leg off aspects of people from your past and how they shape your present. Is it good or bad that Facebook puts us back in contact with people we'd never have seen again?

Panel: Colin Fisk, ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Irene Radford

[I imagine this will be one of those "amusing anecdotes" panels. I can definitely think of a few!]

Saturday

Costume in Fiction - Creating the total package
14:30 - 16:00, Connect 1 (San Mateo Marriott)

Panel: ElizaBeth Gilligan, Heather Rose Jones, Denise Tanaka, Debbie Bretschneider

[No description given, but the panel title is pretty self-evident.]

​Marketing Ghettos
16:00 - 17:30, Collaborate 2 (San Mateo Marriott)

Just what is the difference between Dark Fantasy and Horror Thriller? Modern Fantasy vs. Alternate History?

Panel: Jay Hartlove (M), Heather Rose Jones, Kyle Aisteach, Irene Radford

[I imagine that, in addition to talking about how sub-genres get defined, we'll talk about the problems of being shoehorned or pigeonholed into them. Just ask me about the difficulties of everyone assuming I write romance, just because I"m published by a LesFic publisher!]

Sunday

Does That Come In Vanilla?
13:00 - 14:30, Synergy 4 (San Mateo Marriott)

There's an inherent assumption that polyamory or homosexuality come paired with kink. Why is that and is it a sterotype worth debunking?

Panel: Lance Moore Mr. (M), Heather Rose Jones, Tory Parker

[I kind of hope we pick up a couple more panelists because this is the sort of topic that would benefit from a diversity of experience. As soon as I get contact information for my co-panelists, I think we need to talk about which experiences we bring to the topic so we can see about recruiting. It's probably no secret that I'm on the "Please debunk this!" side of the debate.]

Monday

Historical Costuming- Make it Perfect or Make it Pretty
11:30 - 13:00, Convene (San Mateo Marriott)

Historical costuming frequently runs into a choice between modern aesthetics and precise historical accuracy. Panelists will cover a variety of views on finding the balance.

Panel: Jean Martin (M), Ms Sandra Durbin, Stacy Ferguson, Heather Rose Jones, Jim Partridge, Fr John Blaker

[This is definitely a topic that speaks to my own costuming background--in fact, one I've done programming on before, though in an SCA context. I expect both a lively discussion and a lot of agreement.]
hrj: (doll)
Thursday I was still laboring under the Sinuses of Doom from whatever virus thingie I had at the beginning of the week, but fortunately by Friday morning my symptoms were reduced to a chafed spot under my nose.

Thursday I also managed to do something I've managed to just barely avoid several times in the past: I left work still wearing my computer glasses, with the bifocals still in the glasses case on my desk. (As opposed to the laptop/home-computer glasses, which have a slightly closer focal length than the work computer glasses, which were in the glasses case in my backpack.)

To some extent, my ability to not notice I'm still wearing the computer glasses speaks to my relative safety using them for driving. (Heck, I might even be able to pass a driving vision test using them, although reading unfamiliar street signs would be a problem.) But I dislike discovering I've been that inattentive. Also: I prefer to wear the bifocals at cons, since it makes it easier to recognize people at more than 8 feet away.

Since I'd volunteered to help with con suite set-up Friday morning, I figured I'd splurge on a room for Thursday evening as well (so I wouldn't have to juggle luggage while waiting for check-in time). So I got a chance to do some hanging with Karen & Chaz in the bar, as well as the opportunity to offer a night's hospitality to someone who had con errands Thursday evening but was trying to avoid picking up an extra night's cost.

My grand plan to be useful and on-the-spot as a local volunteer was stymied somewhat by delays in supply arrivals and trying to second-guess where to position myself to notice when said supplies arrived, but I was able to make myself at least a little useful, and I put in a three hour hostess shift on Saturday morning, as well as pitching a little on Sunday tear-down. So I fulfilled my goal of being an actual useful convention volunteer this year.

One thing I love about Fogcon is that the small size means I don't feel like I have to run myself ragged to get the full experience. I enjoyed several panels--interesting discussions on artificial intelligence, "perfect" languages, and other things. I wasn't on programming myself, this year, other than doing a group reading with [livejournal.com profile] klwilliams and the delightful S.B. Divya whom I bumped into Friday morning so I could get to know her before the session. Also got to spend some quality time with [livejournal.com profile] ritaxis and a friend of hers who had come all the way from the east coast, with whom I got to do some intense academic-takes-on-fannish-topics geeking over dinner Saturday.

I decided to be daring for my reading and do only work in progress, so I picked an excerpt from (the more revised parts of) Mother of Souls, and then read a fragment of a brand new in-progress attack short story, that has only recently informed me that it's titled "Expiration Date". (Concept: the muses are over-worked and have farmed out inspiration duties to other beings, specifically including a harpy.)

And, yeah, other fun things. But I'm kind of brain dead now. I did manage to get about 6 chapters of Mother of Souls edited during the convention, and now I should get back to entering the edits in the computer.

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