Monday, July 15, 2013

Readercon 2013: A Round-up

A lovely and unexpected acknowledgement

I've been to Readercon for several years now, but this year was the first time I've been on the program. It was an outstanding weekend and I am extremely grateful to the programming committee for giving me this opportunity. Over the course of the con, I participated in 3 panels, a reading, and a signing, including one where I was moderator.

I've done tons of public speaking before; in my capacity as a physical therapist, I've spoken in front of national conferences with an auditorium full of medical people without blinking an eye. While I have also done some other cons as well as bookstore readings and open mic nights, this felt different. I definitely had the pre-con jitters Friday morning as I got ready to drive to Burlington.

Predictably, my first panel was the one I needed to moderate. Nothing like diving into the deep end of the pool, right?

The Chair Became the Suit: Expressions of Disability in Speculative Fiction. Gwendolyn Clare, Lisa Janice (LJ) Cohen (leader), Shira Lipkin. Disabled characters have gradually become more common in SF/F, including entities as different as Batgirl/Oracle, Nahadoth, Toothless, and Hodor. In genres that offer the possibility of writing out or eliding disability using technology or magic, what do we see when authors choose to feature it prominently instead? How do authors and characters handle questions of access—to physical spaces, to assistive devices, to therapeutic treatment, or to participation in the community?
Suggested by Sarah Pinsker.

My panelists, Gwendolyn Clare and Shira Lipkin couldn't have been more gracious and helpful. We pulled in Sarah Pinsker and our unofficial/stealth third panelist because she had suggested the panel and had helped us brainstorm for it.  The conversation was wide ranging and thoughtful, as were the audience questions. It's an important subject and one I'm thrilled got presented at Readercon. We could have talked for at least another hour and I hope this is something we can revisit in future years.

A little later Friday, I reprised the eBook formatting panel I had done for Boskone and had a ton of folks come find me afterwards to thank me for demystifying the process.

On Saturday, I gave a 30 minute reading of about 2 chapters from DERELICT, my SF novel currently on submission. Apparently, I did not stumble or mumble excessively. :)

On the advice of my writing mentor and friend, Jeff Carver, I put out a bowl of dark chocolate as 'con-bait' for my signing Sunday morning. At 9 am. I was certain I would sit stiffly for a very lonely hour. Fortunately, I was paired with the interesting Ben Loory (we did a book trade and I'm looking forward to reading his short story collection, "Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day") and (huzzah!) folks did wander over for interesting chats and to buy my YA Fantasy title. :) I blame the chocolate.

I participated in one final panel on Sunday--writing for the YA and MG audience.

Writing for Younger Readers. Lisa Janice (LJ) Cohen, Jordan Hamessley, Alaya Dawn Johnson, E.C. Myers (leader), Phoebe North, Shveta Thakrar. How do middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) authors and editors write for children and teen readers? How do they make science fiction more accessible for kids, build complex fantasy worlds, and 
develop authentic characters with diverse backgrounds? This panel is ideal for anyone writing MG or YA or interested in finding books with plots as rich and complex as any novel targeted to adult readers.

Eugene Myers did a fabulous job of moderating, posing interesting questions to us and keeping the conversation flowing. It was an odd moment, as I looked at my fellow panelists, when I realized I was old enough to be any of their mothers! It gave me an interesting perspective on how YA/MG has changed in a generation.

So that's the 'official' Readercon stuff. The unofficial part of the con was in connecting with old friends and new, and in the book launch of an anthology of short stories, written by graduates of the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing workshop. 

One of the most proud moments of this past year was when I handed each of the contributors, my co-editor, and our writing mentors, Jeff Carver and Craig Shaw Gardner, their copies. Seeing the excitement and pride in their eyes made the last weeks of insanity completely worth it.

Thank you to Prime Books and Paula Guran and Sean Wallace for agreeing to place Pen-Ultimate on their table in the dealer's room and then to donate the full purchase price to the cause. (All proceeds are being donated to the SFWA Medical Emergency Fund)

And that bring me to the screen shot at the top of this page. The talented and gracious Chuck Wendig wrote a blog post about the anthology that he tweeted about. That tweet was then re-tweeted by THE Margaret Atwood. :swoon:  I found this out Friday--just before my first panel.

If you want to see the famous cover she admired, or want to have 11 great stories to read while supporting a great cause, purchase links and info are here.

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