After missing last year’s Go Play Northwest due to a case of getting married, the wife and I returned to Go and Play this year.
Over Easter weekend the SeaTac Doubletree enjoyed the presence of the 35th annual Norwescon, the largest science fiction and fantasy convention in the area. Due to a number of factors, I was only able to attend one day. Due to continued recovery from my ACUS con crud, I almost didn’t brave the drive down south and the need to be social for several hours. But I made the trek anyway and was glad that I had. I got to see some friends I don’t often see, plus sit in on some excellent panels. So here are some highlights.
Once again the wife and I travelled out to beautiful and scenic Livonia, Michigan, for the 23rd annual AmberCon. For those not familiar, this is a small four-day convention dedicated primarily to playing Amber Diceless and (mostly) similar games. No dealer room, no panels. Just four days of roleplaying in scheduled slots of games. It’s held at Embassy Suites Livonia. There have been other Ambercons spawned over the years, and I am most fond of AmberCon Northwest, but this is the convention originally started by Amber Diceless creator Erick Wujcik.
This year I went to my first Potlatch, which is a very small SF convention that has moved up and down the Pacific coastline for twenty-one years. I gather it has some degree of unofficial connection to Clarion West, but I have no evidence of this beyond proceeds from the auction going to support a Clarion West attendee. I’d heard about this for a while and, as I’ve gotten to know more local writers, have considered attending. So I finally broke down and went this year. It was February 24-26 at the Best Western Executive Inn, which is right next to the Seattle Center. Lacking a coffee shop, it earned my disdain. But it was near some neat little restaurants in that fringe area north of downtown and east of Belltown, including the Five Point Cafe.
At one point before the con, they emailed people to see who wanted to be on panels. As part of my half-assed attempts to build my marketing “platform,” I tossed my hat in the ring. I made the note that I was a novice writer, but would like to help out. So this recap will do just a broad overview of the convention and then cover the panels I sat on.
This weekend represented the first convention I attended in which I got to appear as a panelist. RustyCon is one of the smaller conventions in the Seattle area that caters to the general fan community. The impression I got is that they consider themselves a bit more of a family friendly convention compared to Norwescon. According to their site they have membership of about 500-600. It didn’t seem that crowded to me, but then there were parts of the convention we just never went to.
For those of you who I’ve only recently met, let me first explain a little about AmberCon Northwest. ACNW is a yearly game convention based mostly around Erick Wujcik’s Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. Which in turn is based on Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series. Over the years, the strict adherence to only playing Amber Diceless has slackened. There continue to be Amber games, but there are also lots of other off beat games that now get run there. There are several of these cons each year. I’ve only been to two of them, and this is my favorite of them.
The convention is run at the McMenamin’s Edgefield, a beautiful resort just east of Portland, OR. Not only does the Edgefield have an on-site brewery, distillery and winery, but it also has a spa and salt-water soaking pool. The convention has no dealer room and almost never has panels. Instead from Thursday through Sunday the weekend is all about gaming.
The community of 120 some odd people is very open and welcoming. New people often speak of how friendly and helpful people are, and many of the people I’ve gotten to know over the last twelve years feel like family.
I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into when I signed up a year ago for World Fantasy Convention. I had friends that were going to be there, Neil Gaiman was a guest of honor, so that was all a big selling point. My confidence slackened a bit when my wife told me she didn’t think she could manage the vacation time. But I had the ticket so I figured, “Why not?” Besides, with only 500 people attending, I might actually get to meet Neil Gaiman. I’ll be honest: I didn’t really meet Neil Gaiman, unless you count running into him and getting him to sign a copy of Stardust for my wife. But really what I got out of the convention was much cooler than meeting Neil Gaiman. SRSLY.
I’ve been really busy working on the novel(la) I’m writing for Timid Pirate, so I haven’t been blogging much. I have many blog posts in my head, just no time to work on them. No contract will likely be signed till I have the full first draft done, but I sent what I have to my wife so she can make suggestions before I send it off to my beta readers. With NaNoWriMo coming up, I’ll be taking a break to work on something else for a month.
Today I’m catching a plan to San Diego for World Fantasy Con, with guest of honor Neil Gaiman. I didn’t make it onto any panels, but looking at the list of authors that did I’m not insulted. There’s a metric butt ton of awesome writers there. It’s so outside of my league it’s ridiculous. But I did manage to squeeze my way in as an author for tonights informal meet-and-greet at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. I’m only a lot intimidated by the notion of being on the same docket of authors as Mary Robinette Kowal, Emma Bull, David Brin and Will Shetterly. I have this small secret fear that they’ll realize I don’t belong.
I’m delighted to see that they listed one of the anthologies I’m in on their site, though. Specifically Crossed Genres Year One. I’ll be stoked if they actually have it on sale at the store. I’ll be even more stoked if they have the Timid Pirate anthologies I’m in.
Speaking of Timid Pirate, Cobalt City Dark Carnival is out soon-ish. I channel my inner angry panda for my story, “Snowflake’s Chance in Hell.” Not sure what the exact release date is, but I know it is pretty damn soon.
Arcane Magazine, which purchased my short story “Kiss of Death,” has changed format to being a yearly anthology. Their Web site now points to Cold Fusion Media. I recall hearing that the anthology would come out January-ish, so hopefully that’s when my story will be there since my new contract gives them a year to publish the story before rights revert to me. Getting information about this has been tough.
My friend and fellow writer, John Worsley, asked me to recap what Nancy Kress taught in her workshop. So this is the very summarized view, recreated from my notes. Since I’m not the best note-taker, this whole post will be kind of rough. I’m trying to recreate the main talking points without me filling in gaps with false details that I’ve confabulated. There were also handouts, which we referred to throughout the course of the talk.
I don’t remember exactly when each page was covered, or what order they were presented in. (I’m mainly vague about #2 and #3 in terms if which came first.) I’ll try to mention them when I think they make the most sense. Part of the delay in this post was that I was waiting for PNWA to post the handouts to their site. I can guarantee the links work now. But I can’t guarantee they’ll be there forever.
For those who would like more information from the source, Nancy Kress has three books on writing that have been published:
- Elements of Fiction Writing – Beginnings, Middles & Ends
- Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints (Write Great Fiction)
- Dynamic Characters
Ms. Kress, I’d like to apologize now for any butchering or incorrect statements I make regarding what I learned.