Posts Tagged ‘boskone’

Boskone 52 Incoming

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Conventions

It’s that time of year for my winter con, Boskone!

Even though they picked the worst weekend ever to host it on, my wife is awesome enough to be cool with me going to play Saturday and Sunday. Seriously, my wife rocks.

Mine is Red, but you get the .... drift.

Mine is Red, but you get the …. drift.

Of course, there’s an epic ton of snow in the forecast for this weekend. I think three years in a row with a right proper blizzard makes it a tradition. Snow doesn’t bother me. That amazes people constantly, even native New Englanders who not only have winter, they have the same winters that I do. A foot of snow? Whatev. Me + Subaru > Nature. Really, the only downside is that I was thinking about taking the train to Boston this year. Boston is a horrendously miserable place to take a car and the T actually runs a train down into Rhode Island that stops four blocks from my house. But anyone who’s seen news from around here and all the snow knows the MBTA is a big mess right now that can’t seem to get out of its own way. So driving it is. I’ve never really lived in a place with functional public transportation anyways so am not comfortable relying on others for my travel plans anyways.

Boskone, and Readercon in the summer, recharge my creative batteries. I think my wife gets that better than I do, what with her being ok that we go to dinner later tonight instead of tomorrow. Writing, and more so writing successfully, is not an easy thing. If what we did was easy, everyone would. Or at least there wouldn’t be so much free self pubbed garbage cluttering up the ebook world.

So I’m marching off to Boskone tomorrow, commuting up each day and spending most of my money on overpriced hotel parking. Since this is my fourth year, and many of the same faces go to Readercon, half the crowd will do the Polite Head Nod of Recognition. I’ll see and chat with people I’ve seen and chatted with before. Maybe I’ll pretend I’m an extrovert and chat with more people. I’ll take notes for my writing. Ideas and inspiration and maybe I’ll remember to blog about all the cool topics that come up, unlike Readercon where I still haven’t blogged half the topics yet. Maybe this year the Dealer’s Room will have Max Gladstone or Mur Lafferty in stock and I can get more signed books. I’ll get Myke Cole to sign a whole stack of books because for some reason it’s become tradition for me to buy his book for Fred. I’m going to find ML Brennan because Rhode Island really should be run by vampires. I’ll discover new authors and maybe their books will actually be in stock for me to buy.

I am going to read a story for the Flash Fiction Slam and damnit, it’s the best little piece of micro fiction I’ve written. Related, this year I’m not bringing a cyberpunk story to lay out in front of judges who invented the genre.

When I get home on Sunday, I’m going to be riding a wave of momentum. It usually lasts a month. I recently twigged on how to fix the plot of the godpunk novel that I’ve been fighting with since I realized it was broken a couple months ago. I’m going to take that momentum and the third reboot of that novel is going to be the charm.

I’m going to get to the other side of the fence to go play with the cool kids.


Remember that really cool thing I did last year at Boskone?

Yes, all of it was cool but I’m talking about the Flash Fiction Slam. Well I’m gonna do it again.


Sunday, 9:30 AM

Marina 4

Flash Fiction Slam

Join Boskone’s second Flash Fiction Slam. Be one of eleven (11) writers to compete for the title of The Flash, reading your own original fiction — which must tell a complete tale within a 3-minute period. Our expert panel of judges will score your work, and you automatically lose 10 percent for going over your 3-minute time. You may only read your own work. The reader with the top score wins! Sign up before the con for one of eight (8) reading slots on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing Or sign up onsite at Program Ops in the Galleria for one of three (3) at-con openings. A waiting list will also be available.

Carrie Cuinn (M), James Patrick Kelly, Kenneth Schneyer, Fran Wilde, F. Brett Cox

I got a good draft in hand to read at the slam. It’s a bit too long right now at 710 words. Last’s year’s story nailed the three minute time limit perfectly at 560 so I’m going to need to trim it down. Short fiction, especially flash, is tough for me. You get very conscious of each word used.

I’m excited for this. The story is really weird and all sorts of cool. I plan on improving from last year and I think this story can do it.

In the meanwhile, if you want to read last year’s story, it’s right over here.

51logoIt’s February so that means it’s Boskone time! This is my third time around at this con and the second year in a row that this con commuter got to drive through a blizzard. It’s a good thing I have the blood of the frigid northlands in me and winter doesn’t bother me.

I rolled in for two days of the con and hit up eight panels plus the Guest of Honor interview and the flash fiction slam. Wow, I didn’t realize I was that busy. No wonder I didn’t have time to eat lunch. The panels were split evenly between shop talk and fan stuff. There was talk of positive work habits at Finish It: Completing Your Work. I got that 500 words/day seems to be more of a magic number for pros and pros with day jobs than the mythical 1666 2/3 words/day from NaNoWriMo. That’s always a positive to hear what with having the day job and family. Food in Fiction was another fun shop talk panel. Elizabeth Bear, who is always a delight to hear talk on panels, pointed out how food is very underutilized in world building. World building is pretty damn important to any flavor of our genre so it was rather productive shop talk.

Pixels to Print: The Challenges of Running a Magazine was a behind the scenes with the head people from Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Galaxy’s Edge. I seriously wish my writer / newspaper editor friend had been in on that. I tend to only dabble in short stories, but I love learning about the behind the scenes stuff that goes into the products we all read. The last shop talk panel I hit up was Writers on Writing: Sex vs Romance. It bordered on genre talk at times because the relationship expectations for different parts of our genre can be wildly different. I have to admit, I lost track of a little bit of this panel because it keyed into something that was missing in my novel-in-progress and I outlined a new opening chapter on the spot. So super huge thanks on that even if I did miss a bit of what was said.

I drifted into Ezines, Fanzines and Blogs on Sunday. That frustrated me a bit. Waxing nostalgic about “the good ol’ days” has its place but it shouldn’t be paired with “new things are horrible and different and just go too fast.” I was seriously glad that Mallory O’Meara was there to be “yeah, no.” She runs a New England wide thing called Arkham Horror Book Club and was all “Yeah we do digital and still do all those things you think are missing from today’s fandom.” High five for all that.

Genre discussions always make me happy. I find that stuff fascinating, going back to the same kind of discussions in film school. Urban Fantasy in Transision tracked how the subgenre is evolving. I completely agree that it has come a long way from the “Buffy lookalike kills [insert monster] with [insert magic/weapon].” This is a good thing because I think UF has some of the most progressive storytelling around now and when it first came about, it was very needle-in-a-haystack to find the good ones. Future Fantasy and the Teen Protagonist spent a lot of time defining terms. That sounds boring written out but it really wasn’t. It keyed in with some of the YA trends. Apparently to kids these days (I think it makes me old because I just said “kids these days”) consider ‘sci-fi’ a dirty word. Future fantasy is becoming a term for “sci fi with wonder.” It’s a term I like that fits and I really wish I had written down which panelist said it. Wicked Good Villains went into how storytelling is evolving past black and white good versus bad. The best baddies are the ones you can understand, think Magneto, and the best protags are the ones who are a bit messed up. I’ve actually been thinking about a whole post on that for a while and took some notes to use accordingly.

The Guest of Honor interview was a lot of fun. Seanan McGuire is just as fun of a storyteller in person. Elizabeth Bear was doing the interview which really consisted more of “Hey, deadly viruses!” or “Tarantulas!” and then stories just happened. I also hadn’t realize that the massive pile of publications she’s written has all been since 2009. Damn, I knew she had a busy schedule but now that’s gone from damn to holy crap! I am seriously amazed by that time management fu. It’s also nice to hear someone say her name aloud because I wasn’t ever sure I was saying it right in my head. Having a last name no one ever pronounces correctly, but really should unless they’re from Canada, makes pronunciation something I worry about getting right.

I rolled in for the Kaffeeklatch with Myke Cole. He continues to be engaging and helpful and an all around cool person.

Reading at Boskone 51.

Reading at Boskone 51.

Oh hey, you didn’t think I’d forget to tell you how the reading went did you? It went well. I kept the nerves down and busted out my radio DJ voice. One thing that I knew but didn’t really click before the reading was that I brought a cyberpunk story to lay in front of people who helped invent cyberpunk. The inventors of the genre. Let that sink in for a moment. And then think if that was a really good idea. Whatever. I brought it, I laid it down and it was good. I didn’t win but the people who did dropped some excellent stories. The competition was very close. One of the judges said he thought there was a moment that seemed a bit dated, like a 70s or 80s kind of SF. That may have been the kicker, but you know what, I can live with that . That’s a personal preference. Everyone has them, doesn’t mean the story is bad. I had a couple people come up to me afterwards and also on ye olde Twitter tell me they liked my story. That’s a fantastic thing to happen after reading in public for the first time. An extra high five for Brenda Noiseux, a twitter pal I got to meet for real and was at the reading. She snapped that pic of me.

Last and certainly not least, my favorite part of going to these cons, finding cool new authors. Both of these authors this year sold me on their work during the Urban Fantasy in Transition panel. Like I said above, UF has some of the most interesting storytelling going on now. I will definitely be picking up the books of Mur Lafferty and Max Gladstone. Lafferty’s book, The Shambling Guide to New York City, I knew of but talking about where the character arc was heading for book two and being an all around well spoken and interesting individual really sold me. Gladstone is also well spoken and interesting, (there’s a theme, being cool helps sell) but I hadn’t heard of his books at all. Three Parts Dead is urban fantasy written from a fantasy world evolving up to the industrial age rather than most UF which is a real world base and magic added in. Necro lawyers. That’s bad ass. The only downside was that I was hording my cash money in case I got snowed in Saturday night and the books were all sold out from the huckster’s room when I went to get them on Sunday. Oh well. I’ll just get them on the next big order.

Quotable quotes, (sometimes with context):

  • “Just slide your Ender’s Game across the table and nod.” –Anna Davis, author of The Gifted, in the Future Fantasy panel
  • “We’re in a golden age of flawed heroes and sympathetic villains.” -Myke Cole on Wicked Good Villains
  • “It was my midlife crisis. Instead of buying a red convertible, I set up a company to see how fast I could lose my money.” -Shahid Mahmud (Galaxy’s Edge) on getting into publishing
  • “My comments aren’t as valuable as the quick turnaround.” -Niel Clarke, founder of Clarkesworld, on using form letters
  • “Everything is a draft until you die.” –Fran Wilde on Finish It: Completing Your Work
  • “Sci-fi is sort of a dirty word.” -Stacey Friedberg, Asst Editor at Dow on the Future Fantasy panel on marketing to a younger audience.

So Boskone 51 did everything I needed it to. I got fodder for the work in progress. I got fodder for the blog. I met and talked to some cool people. (Look mom! Introverts being social!) I had a lot of fun.

Counting down the days til my next con. Readercon in five months.

I am fortunate enough that that couple of SF’s bigger cons are within commuting distance from Rhode Island. Coming up next month is the 51st installment of Boskone. This is going to be my third time rolling in to that con. I’m excited for this one. Seanan McGuire is the Guest of Honor. There are a lot of names I’m happy to see again and new names for me to discover.

And it’s going to be my first time on the con programming.

Ayup. I’m part of the shindig. Check this out from this year’s schedule.

Flash Fiction Slam, Sun 09:30 – Sun 10:50, Burroughs

Join Boskone’s first Flash Fiction Slam. Eleven (11) writers compete for the title of The Flash, reading their own original fiction — which must tell a complete tale within a 3-minute period. Our expert panel of judges will score your work on a scale of 1 to 10, and you automatically lose 1 point for going over your 3-minute time. You may only read your own work. The reader with the top score wins! Sign up before the con for one of eight (8) advance reading slots on a first-come, first-served basis by e-mailing Or sign up onsite at Program Ops in the Galleria for one of three (3) at-con openings. A waiting list will also be available.

  • Paul Di Filippo
  • Nancy Holder
  • James Patrick Kelly
  • Erin Underwood (M)
  • Walter Jon Williams

So I’m not really in the guidebook or anything, but I am going to be a part of this. I saw it announced on twitter two weeks ago. Remember the line from Ghostbusters, “If someone asks if you’re a god, you say yes.” I signed up before I could talk myself out of it. Then I timed myself reading one of my stories and realized three minutes is a hell of a lot shorter than you think it is. So I wrote a fresh story. I’m still tweaking it, but damn, I’m happy with it. Doubly so because keeping things short isn’t usually my strong suit. It was definately a challenge to keep someone so concise.

I am confident in my story. I might not win. I can’t control how well the other people in the contest write. I can control the quality of what I’m going to present.

And it’s a damn good story I’m proud to read to these people.

Boskone 50

Posted: February 17, 2013 in Conventions
Tags: , ,

And the blog has come full circle. This site was all of what, two weeks old, when I went to my first Boskone and right up until the last day of the year, it was the most trafficked thing here. This time around, for Boskone 50, I made the commute for two days instead of one. The downside is that I had to drive to Boston twice, and that isn’t fun.

But this isn’t a 2k word tirade about how much Boston is lame (18 and 1). This is a pile of words about how Boskone is awesome.

I went to seven different panels and a kaffeeklatch, which last year took me half a day to figure out what the hell it was. I was at The Year in Short Fiction, Military Motifs in SF, Death Becomes Her (or Him), Safety and Security Now and in the Future, Writing Advise: The Next Level, Worlds You Won’t Forget, NonEnglish Fiction and Translation, and Exit Stage Left. Whew. That was a long list. But I was able to do a lot in two days.

The Year in Short Fiction was a lot of fodder for my own reading. I’ve talked here before about how I want to read more short fiction, but it is very needle-in-a-haystack-y for me. I get most of my novel recommendations from other authors now so this served a similar purpose for short fiction. The people on the panel are all involved in editing so there’s a lot of fodder for my reading enjoyment.

Military Motifs in SF and the Safety and Security panels were very similar in that they both ended up on the topic of authenticity. This is where I got a lot of useful ideas for my own writing. Myke Cole and James McDonald were on both and Jerry Pournelle is the kind of old guy that every young guy should strive to be. They’re all great speakers and could talk about paint drying and make it interesting. They talked about the mindset that goes with the field. When they talked about it out loud, it sounded like a no brainer, but it’s the kind of no brainer that is easily missed anyways. It’s almost too obvious until you slow down and look at it. It’s got me thinking a lot about the level of professionalism by the crew on the ship in the novel I’m writing. It’s not something I even touch upon since two of the three protags aren’t involved with the daily operation of the ship. But I’m thinking it’s something I need to add in, even if just in little bits. Show the commitment of the revolutionaries.

And I’m off on a tangent. But they got me thinking a lot, which is the great part the cons.

Back on topic though. The Death Becomes Her panel explored Death as a character. There was a lot of philosophy in this one. Michael Swanwick actually shared a near death experience with the panel which is a pretty intense way to start out. The personification of the intangible forces is something I always find ripe for fiction, godpunk or otherwise. F Brett Cox was there again on that one. The panel stayed in the neighborhood of personifications to help people cope.

The Writing Advise panel didn’t quite hit on the stuff I was looking for but it was still a good panel. Elizabeth Bear is a very quotable personality. I was also incredibly amused at the end during questions when one older woman asked her what process she uses to put together her novels. Bear went on to explain that each one she does is different and the method she uses for writing are subservient to the story she’s telling. The woman asking the question seemed to insist otherwise. I think Bear answered three times before people started shuffling in and out for the change of panels and the woman couldn’t ask again. I chuckle, but I also imagine it was frustrating so golf clap for dealing with the repetitive newbie question. Bear also dropped a Futurama reference. Made me happy.

Worlds You Won’t Forget was another one full of reading fodder. I happen to think world building is awesome and when the land or city becomes a character in itself, it’s one of the most enjoyable things out there for me. I love the books when I can tell there are details in the author’s head that I’m not actually reading about. Bear was a font of great quotes on this one again, but it was really interesting that Melinda Snodgrass said how hard she finds worldbuilding. It was totally unexpected from one of the architects of Wild Cards.

I went in to Non English Translations looking for some reading fodder. I have been looking for new stuff to read all the time and the new point of view is always something I want to check out. The guys on the panel were specialists in East Asian stuff because those are the languages they know. Apparently there’s some Chinese space opera coming out soon which is something I want to look forward to. It’ll be good to get beyond just Battle Royale and the Nightwatch series. I think those are my only non English novels and I’d like to check out more but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much of a two-way traffic in translations.

Exit Stage Left was all about character death. That’s another one that came down to serve the need of the story. That kind of came down to plotting vs pantsing. Something as big as character death really needs to be prepared for rather than thrown down out of hand. There needs to be significance to it otherwise the reader starts to dismiss the story.

Whew. Rambled a lot about the panels. One of the big things I made it a point of doing, was going to the kaffeeklatch. Last year I kicked myself for not talking shop with people in person. It’s a lot different than floating around the internet. So this year I was all like Bam! Gonna do it. So I went to Myke Cole’s. He’s a nice guy who’s super approachable and we had talked earlier in the con. (More on that when it shows up on his blog) It was eight people hanging out and shooting the shit. Damn that’s the kind of stuff I wish I could do everyday. It’s that exact kind of being around writing which makes me more productive and better at my own.

Another of my favorite parts of these cons, is finding authors who sell me as a person and make me want to go read their books. Last year it was Cole, Peter V Brett and Ben Tate/Joshua Palmatier. This year, it’s Elizabeth Bear, David Anthony Durham and Theodora Goss. I saw them all a couple times and they had very thoughtful, intelligent things to say involving the topic and their work. I’m game. Downside, the dealer room didn’t carry any of their stuff. There were some tables of uses books which is all well and good for people who don’t have access to The Book Barn, but you’d think the book sellers would stock up on the people who are going to be at the con. I picked up one of Bear’s books but so many others that I’d be interested in buying weren’t there. Yeah internet and all. But I want to buy stuff at the con from the people I see. I got a signed Wild Cards book, one of Bear’s and an unrelated cyberpunk book that invoked the Rule of Books. I was looking for Goss, Durham, Cox, Jennifer Pelland (who was at the con but I missed this year) and nothing. From a purely business standpoint, you’d think they’d want to have the products that correspond with the participants.

I’ve been typing a lot of thoughts and it’s time to wrap it up. I leave you with some of the choice quotes. Mostly proper quotes, not just amusingly out of context one-liners like last year’s quotes.

  • “Being dead was not a barrier to participation.” -Walter Hunt on killing off characters
  • “We come to stories because we want drama. We have tedium in our day to day lives.” -Myke Cole
  • “Turns out, living forever kind of sucks.” -Theodora Goss
  • “There’s no twelve year old that doesn’t want to be a dragon.” -Elizabeth Bear
  • “I don’t think we get the props for what we do. [World building] is a daunting task.” -Melinda Snodgrass