Posts Tagged Capclave

Two Nights of Pratchett

Going to audience question events for the same author on consecutive days can have its minefields.  There are going to be questions that come up both times because fans want to know the same things.  I’m sure Terry Pratchett has canned responses for whether he’s going to work with Gaiman again (probably not, but if they did a sequel it would be called “Jesus Christ!”) whether there will be another Aching book (probably not, and it wouldn’t be YA since she’s an adult now) or what his favorite character from Discworld is (Death, just like everyone else).

But thanks to the one question that got asked at Capclave, and the fact that the answer left no time for other questions, the two talks were pointedly different.  All because someone stepped forward and asked “would you mind talking about the documentary?”

I’ve not seen “the documentary,” which was filmed for the BBC and never aired in the United States.  It’s called “Choosing to Die,” and follows Sir Terry as he interviews and takes part in the last few days of two mens’ lives who have chosen to die on their own terms rather than living with debilitating illnesses.  The two DC stops were the last of the American leg of the Snuff promotion tour, he left from Capclave straight to the airport, and were apparently the first in which he was asked about the documentary.  He and his assistant (who has perhaps the best job in the world, if a damnedably difficult one) shared their stories about getting to know Peter Smedley, a man both clearly were quite taken by as they explored his life, his decision, and his death.

The documentary sounds brilliant for nearly every reason that will keep me from watching it.  It’s not through any disagreement with the subject matter, but simply my dislike of contemplating the subject.  Either looking at death in general, or being taken on a tour of death by an author who I admire so greatly but I know is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s.  A man who was only stamping books instead of signing them as his health just didn’t allow him to sit and scrawl his name in hundreds of books in a dozen cities.  Because I know an unspoken, or perhaps spoken, theme of the documentary is Sir Terry deciding whether this will be the choice he makes, and when he will need to make it.  Contemplating the mortality of one’s heroes is tough.

It was spectacular to hear him talk about the documentary, make no mistake.  He made the audience laugh even when describing the last few minutes of a man who quickly became his friend during the filming.  If you’re a braver person than I, it sounds like a fascinating watch, if you can track it down in the United States.  I know it’s available through some channels, but have not looked for it.  I know that makes me weak in a way.  So be it.

I hate focusing on the maudlin part of Sir Terry’s two talks.  I saw him for a total of about 150 minutes over two days, and the documentary discussion was only about fifteen of those minutes.  Still, it stuck with me the most.  The rest was the Sir Terry Pratchett I expected to see, but had never had the chance to see before.  He and his assistant spoke of visiting Hobbittown (apparently you get a tour beyond that of most tourists when you’re an internationally famous fantasy writer), getting American book distributors to take Discworld seriously, and the few minutes they spent Occupying Wall Street the night before coming to DC.  With the exception of being treated to the same excerpt from Snuff each day (no complaints, it’s a fantastic section, what?) the talks couldn’t have been more different.  Perhaps each was better suited for the other venue, but the wonder of audience questions is that, while they can produce some cliched questions, they can also produce ones that catch both the speaker and audience off guard with spellbinding results.

I’ll be talking more about Capclave this week, especially as Jen Brinn, con networking ninja that she is, has secured several promises of guest inspiration for this weekend’s Flashathon.  I’ll be updating that page tonight and this week will push to get everything ready for the weekend.

Update: Capclave panelist Scott Edelman has put video of the full Pratchett talk from Capclave on Youtube.  It’s worth watching.

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This Weekend in DC

Great weekend for genre writers and fans in and around the DC area.

Tonight, Sir Terry Pratchett is going to do a talk at the National Press Club to promote his new book Snuff.  I’ve previously attended one author event at the Press Club when Neil Gaiman game through town promoting the anniversary edition of American Gods.  They put on a good event, especially in how they handle questions, which are solicited from the audience and screened before being handed to the author.  Sadly, there will not be a signing, but rather a “stamping,” as Sir Terry is no longer capable of sitting and signing hundreds of books at one go.  Makes me glad I got to see him at the National Book Festival a few years ago to get our copy of Good Omens signed.  Tickets are still available through the Press Club website.

This weekend is also Capclave!  For anyone who writes or reads genre fiction in the DC area, this is a can’t miss event.  There isn’t a cosplay element, instead it’s just a fantastically focused convention that has a very heavy focus on the craft.  I’m constantly impressed by how well run Capclave is.  I’ve been to Big Three conventions that weren’t nearly as well organized as the typical Capclave.  Registration is now limited to on-site.  $60 for the weekend, or if you want to do an à la carte day they break down to $20, $35, and $10 for tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday.

The biggest bit of excitement about Capclave this year was very quietly announced via an update to their online schedule.  What was previously being called a “surprise guest” panel tomorrow at 1pm has now been renamed “Talk With Terry” as Sir Terry will apparently be stopping by for a few hours.  I’ve been joking with friends for weeks that he might stop by the convention since he was in town anyway, but at no point did I expect him to do so.  Having tickets for tonight’s event at the Press Club it now means I get chances to see Sir Terry on consecutive days, which really has me geeking out.

So track me down at either.  I’ll be the guy who is shockingly shy considering his rampant online logorrhea.

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State of the Writer: October 2011

Another month.  September absolutely sped by.  Here in the DC area it was a hell of a month with earthquakes and flooding, and on a personal end included getting a new sewer line finally installed at the Casa Del Thurston.

What it didn’t include much of was writing, unfortunately.  I’ve been working on a steampunk short story located on Venus that has a lot of promise, but needs better direction than it currently has.  In the end it’s one story that could be told in two different directions, which is interesting considering my upcoming project for October.

After the blog post I made a few days ago about my conjoined novel, I’ve been thinking more and more about the status of Capsule.  The final conclusion is that it is, and always has been, two novels.  The final straw was reading Kraken by China Mieville.  It’s a story that goes in a lot of different directions, but at its heart it remains a heist story.  Capsule?  It’s gone in not only different directions, but has transitioned from being one type of plot line (murder conspiracy) to another (cult kidnapping) with only the most tenuous of ties between the two.  It’s had this problem as long as I’ve been writing it.  On one hand, I wish I could have seen this sooner, on the other I’m glad I was able to see it at all.

So this month, the process of division starts.  I’ll track it in the blog, as I suspect it’ll make for an interesting case study.  Scrivener for Windows is going to be my tool of choice, identifying which pieces go in novel A (still called Capsule) and which go into novel B (working title: Post Apocalypse).  Really, the entirety of the process will be broken into three parts:

  1. Identifying the pieces that go in each novel.
  2. Identifying what needs to fill in the missing pieces from each half.
  3. Outlining.
  4. Writing.

In an ideal world I’d have one outlined enough to be a Nanowrimo project, but I highly doubt that’ll happen.

Two other big October features:

Capclave!  As I’ve attended other writers conventions, the local one here in DC still strikes me as my favorite and the best I’ve attended.  If you’re a genre fiction writer in the DC area and you haven’t been to Capclave…why the hell not?

Flashathon!  There are still some details to leak in the coming three weeks, and then the event itself three weeks from today.  October 22nd.  I’m hoping to get a nice turnout for the event here on the blog.  I’m hoping even more for some fantastic mental exercise and inspiration.

State of the Writer’s Blog

Blog viewership continues to grow, for which I am eternally grateful.  In the ongoing quest to reach eyeballs in all 50 states, I entered September needing six more states.  During the month, this blog got its first views from Montana, South Dakota, and Louisiana.  That leaves only North Dakota, Arkansas, and Delaware to go.  I’m not sure what the next goal is going to be after finally collecting all fifty, but I’ll figure that out when I get there.

State of the Writer’s Beer

No news.  Haven’t done any brewing or much drinking this month.  Means that bottles we have are that much better aged.  Been meaning to crack another bottle of Lazarus.

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The year that wasn’t, the year that will be

Over on Unleaded, I took a look ahead at 2011 today.  So here I’m going to take a look back on 2010.

I had two main goals this past year.  I wanted to get Capsule finished by Balticon, and I wanted to start the search for literary representation.  Unfortunately as many who know me are aware, this ended up being the year that I battled a few months of health issues in the form of a rather drawn out case of GERD.  It created a lot of insomnia, which left me tired, and which in the end left me not writing.  By the time I started feeling better my momentum on Capsule was dead in the water, and I’m still trying to get it back now, almost exactly a year after the condition started.

So yeah.  Cry cry cry woe is me.  I recognize that I failed to meet a lot of my 2010 goals, and I can blame that on anything I want and look back in despair, or I can look ahead to 2011 and what I hope to accomplish.  For this purpose, I have outlined a set of four goals that I hope aren’t too lofty, but are still enough of a stretch that I have to work at achieving them.

1)  Finish the first draft of Capsule.  I could give myself any number of deadlines for this.  Balticon, Capclave, Ravencon, but really I’ll be happy if by this time next year I’ve started the editing process.  I don’t want to rush it, but I don’t want the momentum to carry me into the doldrums any further than it already has.

2)  Have at least three short stories out for consideration at all times.  I currently have four that I really consider submission ready: Sleep, Rustler, Div 0, and Queen of Belmeth.  With the Queen getting passed over for the Commonplace Book of Lovecraft, that mean I currently have just two stories out.  This goal includes having more stories that I feel could be submitted as well as keeping a constant eye on target markets for those stories.  I can’t sell any story that I don’t actively try to sell, and I need to be a hell of a lot better about that than I currently am.

3)  Find at least six anthologies that I would have to write a story for scratch for, and do so.  I’m going to count Primogeniture as the first of those six, because it’s my goal, damn it, and I can do what I want with it.  There are several that have already come and gone that I meant to work up stories for.  Historical Lovecraft’s deadline is just 5 days away, too soon for me to finish anything at this point, and that upsets me.  Plus this will help my goal #2.

4)  Start my Fortnight Caps project.  This will be a every-other-week posting of a flash piece, either one that I’ve already written or one that I’m freshly inspired to write, here on the blog.  It’s an effort to increase eyeballs and maybe, just maybe, my profile as a writer.  Even if just a tiny bit.

An ancillary goal that needs to be included with both #2 and #3 is to better track where my short stories are and have been.  I realized the other day I couldn’t remember the name of the audio anthology I’d sent Sleep off to, for example.  That’s something I really should be able to look up.  Also, I’m going to stop using my Hotmail to send submissions and switch over to my email addresses.

So best of luck to everyone with the new year, with your writing if you choose to write, or any other venture you choose to undertake.

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Classic Time Travel Paradox

While at Capclave I sat in on a presentation about time travel in which I learned about a paradox of time travel that I never thought of before.  It came back to mind when I saw this video linked on Gizmodo:

The important part is right around the 3:20 mark in the video, but while they talk about the understandably disturbing element of having a white time traveler help invent one of the most important influences African-American culture had on American pop culture in the 1950s they overlook the slightly more disturbing paradox that the whole thing creates.  It goes like this.

Marty McFly lives in the 1980s.  He grew up watching performances of Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry and learns not only the song but the entire dance routine.  Then, through a series of movie contrivances, he finds himself back in the 1950s and playing guitar with a jam band at a school dance.  Wanting to play something hip, he plays Johnny B. Goode.  Halfway through the song we get the classic “Chuck!  It’s your cousin Marvin!  Marvin Berry…” phone call, creating the implication that Chuck Berry learns the song Johnny B. Goode from listening to Marty McFly sing it at this sock hop.  He records the song, it becomes a hit, and Marty McFly grows up hearing it and learns the song, starting the cycle all over again.

Except, and here’s the problem: who wrote the song?  Marty learns it from Chuck Berry.  Chuck Berry learns it from Marty.  Somewhere in there the song wrote itself and insisted itself upon the world through this loop.

See?  The 1950s were right.  Rock and roll music is of the devil!

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Capclave Prep

Doing the final preps for Capclave 2010, and I’m excited about going.  As seen in my Week of Action post (and editing that almost made me forget to post this) I’m hoping to go there with the first three chapters of Capsule cleaned up a little.  Do I expect someone to ask for them?  No.  Do I want to be ready in the off chance someone does?  Hell yeah.  Now, I did have an initial plan to have the first three chapters available on a thumb drive “what, you’d like to read them, well I just happen to have them here…”  However (1) that struck me as a little smarmy, (2) it struck me that no one was going to say “I’ll read your first three chapters but only if you can give me them RIGHT NOW!” and (3) I’d kinda like to do one more quick editing pass if someone does ask for them.

What I will be traveling with are cards I’ve printed up with a small ad for Rust, including a pointer over to Smashwords and a short-term coupon.  That’s part of what’s great about Smashwords, it’s nice to be able to offer an exclusive Capclave price.  Cause people like things when they’re cheaper.  Suggestion: Avery #8869.  They’re “print to the edge” cards, with “clean edges”.  What that means is each card is set off from every other card, so you can make your graphic a little large than the card to make sure it fills as thoroughly as possible.  And the clean edges really do pop out as advertised and don’t look like they got torn out of a perforated sheet.  Add in a color printer and I think they really look sharp.

I’m happy with the cards, and I’m looking forward to going.

This post cross-posted with Unleaded – Fuel for Writers


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Week of Action

Here was the preliminary schedule for my week of action.  I’ll keep this up to date through the week as I do things:

  • √ Friday: Edit and submit Queen of Belmeth
  • √ Saturday: Identify market and submit Sleep
  • √ Sunday: Identify market and submit Div!0 or The Rustler
  • √ Monday: Edit Capsule, chapter 1
  • √ Tuesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 2
  • √ Wednesday: Edit Capsule, chapter 3

Things got to a slow start, as editing Belmeth took more time than I anticipated.  I did the editing Friday night, but as it was getting late, decided I wanted to give the story one last read-over while well rested.  I did one last pass this morning, and sent it off to the contest at around 12:30.  I’m still planning on getting Sleep sent out this evening to catch up to my schedule, probably to Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.  It’ll be easier to send out because I’m just going to give it a quick read-over rather than a full edit.

Updates as I have them.

Update: Saturday 9pm.  Sleep submitted to ASIM.

Update: Sunday 5pm.  The Rustler submitted to Hyrda Publications for the Steam Works anthology.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter One of Capsule.  Can’t promise that I don’t want to do another before an editor saw it.  No longer plan to have a copy of the first three chapters on a thumb drive to hand to someone.  That was a somewhat silly idea anyway, no one would be willing to read it but unwilling to wait until the end of the weekend.

Update: Completed an editing pass on Chapter Two.  Even if I’m not entirely thrilled with the results quite yet, it is getting me back into the story.  Yay!

Update: Today’s editing felt the best.  I don’t know if it’s because the original was in better shape or if I’ve just been getting more into an editing groove.  I heard once the idea of writing that you take something through to the end and then start over the first quarter because by the end you’ll have finally found your voice.  Anyway, week of action: epic win.

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