Sunday, April 20, 2008

Eeriecon -- Day 2

The day began with breakfast with Canadians: James Allen Gardner, Caro Soles, Robert Gissing. We discussed, among other things, the fate of eastern Canada and upper New York State if global warming models go as expected. We will be among the "winners," as it were -- a longer growing season, enough rain, and the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Which the western states and provinces are already eyeing greedily. I wrote about this in my novel NOTHING HUMAN, and so was very interested in the Canadian viewpoint on the topic.

Then came six hours of programming -- six hours! I was hoarse after:

** a panel on killing off your characters -- why? when? The conclusion -- in so much as we had one -- was that it's more acceptable to readers to kill off characters than to kill off dogs and cats. I can vouch for this, since my July novel from Tachyon, DOGS, ran into some publisher rejections because "the content would be too offensive to dog lovers."

** a panel on constructing aliens. Joe Haldeman offered that it's very difficult, perhaps impossible, to horrify any more with your aliens: "MEN IN BLACK ruined that." Carl Frederick said that in order to discover what vowels his undersea aliens would favor, he tried sticking his head into a basin of water and talking there.

** a two-hour writing workshop led by me and Jim Gardner. I talked about story construction; Jim talked about point of view and voice; we then took questions. This went well, although the Q&A part, like every other writing Q&A, ended up less about craft than about finding an agent.

** a reading. I read "Art of War," from THE NEW SPACE OPERA. By now my voice was raspy. Listeners were tolerant.

** a popular Eeriecon panel, What Line's Mine? This involves twelve writers seated at the front of the room. A con committee member, having done assiduous research, reads a line from someone's work, out of context and usually fairly bizarre (i.e., "Bring on the squirrels!") All panelists then hold up a sheet of paper with the name of the writer that they think wrote the line. Points are tallied. You lose twenty points for misidentifying a line you yourself wrote, although Joe Haldeman, Rob Sawyer, and I were all guilty of this. Edo van Belkom, as always, lost. Carolyn Clink, as always, won. Lines involving bicycles were always Joe's. I still don't think I wrote the line attributed to me.

After all this, dinner at the Red Coach Inn was welcome. Joe and Gay, Rob and Carolyn, Carl Frederick, Caro Soles, Jim Gardner, David De Graff, and I had a leisurely and fun meal. Astronomy and telescopes were discussed. Toasts were made. Wine was drunk. Since it was nearly 80 degrees, the walk back to the hotel past Niagara Falls was lovely.

Parties followed, at which I put in a token appearance, but it was a long day and I am not much of a late-night person. Also, there was drumming. Much very loud drumming. Perhaps it was welcoming the long-delayed spring.


Carmen Webster Buxton said...

Nancy-- It sounds like a great con! I loved the idea of talking with your head under water to find out what vowels to use. Talk about dedication to research!

Why don't con organizers pay more attention to authors' schedules and put the readings up front and the panels after? Authors who don't have a lot of panels could do the late readings.

BfloPolska said...

On behalf of the Buffalo and Niagara Falls fans and writers who came to learn from your expertise in the Writers' Workshop, I regret and apologize that it had to be disturbed (as I understand) by a team of Dorsai.

The young man who exposed more than writing tips to a female in attendance is now blacklisted, and I look forward to a full course of learning with you next year. Great job at What's My Line too, by the way!

Nancy Kress said...

You know, I didn't even realize that sexual problem had occurred while I was teaching? Was my back turned, writing on the flip chart? Or else I'm just oblivious.

Joe Iriarte said...

When/If I ever meet you, I promise not to ask how to get an agent! ;)

(I may be thinking it, but I won't ask out loud . . . ) ;)