July 15th, 2009


Readercon Redux

Reposted from sovay , a member of the Readercon ConCom:

Let us all agree that "This is your father's Readercon" is a really bad slogan. It has a deskful of negative associations and nothing to do with the current plan for Readercon 21, which is a temporary simplification of the program to something whose creation and coordination will not cause nervous breakdowns among members of the committee. Note that I do not mean simplified intellectually. The only issue is the density of program items. The dealer's room will contain its usual stacks of books. The traditional events—Meet the Pros(e), the presentation of the Rhysling, Shirley Jackson, and Cordwainer Smith Awards, and the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition—will all take place. And please, if there aren't parties all over the place in 2010, something has gone terribly wrong with the whole de-stressing idea. Further information will be forthcoming as soon as I have it, i.e., after the committee has a chance to check its e-mail, breathe for the first time since mid-April, and perhaps water some of its plants or pets. For now, please repost and link as you see fit. And if you have any concerns about Readercon, ask.

Don't Panic.

I shall be waiting and staying tuned to all channels, with-holding judgment until it's clear what is actually going on, since that flyer, the source of all the trouble, seems to have been a rogue agent not approved by the Com.

I'm sorry to have caused a lot of trouble via posting--but very glad that this is now a topic of conversation and Readercon knows how upsetting that flyer was. I will never be sorry for speaking up on an issue that is important to me. The fact is, I asked some of my questions to the programming chair personally, and his answers (apparently inaccurate ones) along with the now infamous flyer were all the information that was available. That is a huge communication problem and I'm thrilled and relieved to hear that all may not be as reported. Again, I await further missives. I trust sovay  implicitly.

I also seriously under-estimated the interest in a party with con elements (I never meant to imply I wanted to start a con up here--ye gods, I don't have the time or the money! The model was more FarthingParty than Fourth Street.) The fact is, this is a small and popular island with only about 20 hotel rooms whose reservations have to be made early. There is no way this place could support the 100+ people who said they wanted to come, and those people certainly could not fit in my house or any of the pubs and restaurants here. I was hoping for, like, 25 or 30 people to bring potluck and their conversation hats, not 100+ to expect a formal con, to be fed, all of that. I can't afford it, for one. I cannot and do not want to create a going convention. I do not want to compete with Readercon. Geez. I want to be part of Readercon--just not the one advertised in that flyer. This is Cat's lesson not to post when exhausted and sick.

Sometimes I forget that this is not 2003 and I have more than 30 readers. I am lame, in that respect. But I maintain that doing one's own thing when an institution appears to be going in an uncomfortable direction was a logical and good thing to do. Looks like that uncomfortable direction might not be the case. Hope they still want me back, if it's not. 

However, I hope that some of the issues in yagathai's post will get more conversation through this flare-up, because they are deathly important ones to me--this is a big part of my world, and I don't want it to wither.


A Lesson Learned At Readercon

I learned something important at Readercon. The learning of it sucked, of course, but I'm glad I know it so viscerally now.

It feels awful when an author declines to sign a book.

Just vile. You feel like you've bothered them and they'll clearly hate you forever now, and on top of that, you brought a book you loved across state lines, not just to have someone scribble on it, but to make a connection with the person who wrote it, someone who reached down to your heart and touched you. And now that connection is "Please?" "No."

Oh, god, it sucks. I almost cried, actually. And no, I'm not going to tell you who it was. But I stood there in the dealer's room, feeling like crap, feeling literally stung, fighting tears, because I was scheduled non stop and couldn't get to the official signing for this author, or reading, or anything, because I was scheduled opposite it all. And because the author's books meant so much to me, and I was sure I'd never, ever get to mend the mistake of asking for a signature. I'm not an autograph hound. I only get books signed if they're by a friend or desperately important to me. And it's the connection I want, not the signature.

I don't blame the author at all. They had every right to say no and I wish I could have gone to the official signing. The lesson was about choices I will make in the future. Everyone else has the right to make their own choices on these scores.

Up in my hotel room afterward, I made emilytheslayer  witness my solemn vow:

No matter how tired or grumpy I am, I will never deny someone a signed book, no matter when they ask me.

I will never show them how tired and grumpy I am.

I will never forget that I wanted this, I worked so hard for it, and it's not a burden to have people track me down in the hall. It's an honor.

I will remember how bad it felt to have someone snap at me and say no, how ashamed and sorry I felt, and I will try my hardest never to make anyone else feel that way. I will remember that they want a connection with me, because they loved my book, and try to give it to them. I will try to always be accessible in all the ways that mean something (while keeping myself safe and sane.)

I will try as hard as I can to treat fans as I want to be treated as a fan.

Now, of course, that doesn't mean I'm perfect and that doesn't mean everybody is my best friend the first time we meet. It doesn't mean I'm super awesome at remembering everyone I've ever met. (Speaking of, will the Michael from Napierville who came to my kaffeeklastch please stand up? I want to email you!)

But I will try. And I will never say no when someone comes up to me with a hopeful look on their face and a book clutched in their hands.

  • Current Mood
    exhausted exhausted
Green Wind

Two Things

1. Because I have never gotten the hang of tags (OH NOZ AM OLD) or been able to remember to use them more than like twice, ever, I have opened this journal up to public tagging. (Also because LJ has no usable search function. I hear kylecassidy 's on that.) Tag away!

2. I am running a writer's workshop at Worldcon this year! You can thank papersky  and elisem  for making it possible for me to attend my first Worldcon despite my straightened financial circumstances--I'd never have been able to do it without their help. Thank you, guys!

Go here to find out more about the workshop and how to apply. Several folks on this here LJ can tell you what it's like to be in a workshop with me--if you guys leave comments about the experience I'll edit the post to contain them.

modern lit

each thing i show you is a piece of my death

So there's this anthology, Clockwork Phoenix 2. Edited by the awesome time_shark . Published by norilana . I'm in it--a story called The Secret History of Mirrors. It's about Snow White, lesbian archivists, submarines, secret societies, interstellar travel, the siege of Edessa, and mercury poisoning. The title came from a conversation with sovay  at my first convention four years ago and is only now, finally, a story.

But I don't want to talk about my story.

I want to talk about Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer's story, each thing i show you is a piece of my death.

Holy fucking shit, you guys. This is one of the hands-down best short stories I've read in ages. And how fabulous is that title?

It's experimental in structure, chilling in subject matter, genuinely frightening. It's about a sort of viral film that invades other movies, very much set in the here and now of Angelina Jolie and the Toronto Film Festival. It rules with a celluloid fist. (Now I'm a little biased, being a movie freak currently working on, among other things, a novel about old movies, but that's neither here nor there.)

I can't remember the last time a short story got me so excited. It makes me want to start a new Best-Of anthology just to put this story in there, that's how good it is, how scary, how tantalizing and awful and awesome. It's like a scene out of House of Leaves mixed with gossip magazines and The Ring.

You should order this anthology and forget about my story. Read this one.


More Readercon

Readercon speaks:

There has been a lot of confusion about Readercon's plans for next year, caused in part by a flier that we distributed on Sunday and in part by conflicting statements made in public and in private by people involved with the con and by various attendees. We apologize for putting out unclear, incomplete information, and would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Attendees, professional guests, and book dealers can expect a Readercon next year every bit as exciting as our previous twenty. Readercon 21 will be held July 8 – 11, 2010 in Burlington, Massachusetts at the Boston Marriott Burlington.

Readercon 21 will have at least one guest of honor, two tracks of panels, readings, discussions, kaffeeklatches, the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, the Rhysling Award Poetry Slan, the Shirley Jackson Award, Meet the Pro(se), and as always the Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition.

Our committee is finishing up the business of this year's convention as well as working on Readercon 21. Full details will be available soon.

Diane Martin & David Shaw
Con & Program Chairs for Readercon 21

It seems like a lot of changes have been made to the original plan, though I'm a little confused at the tone here, which makes it sound a bit like the flyer materialized out of an alternate dimension and the plan was always to have multiple tracks and a living guest of honor, despite the flyer saying the exact opposite. I would point out that the information put out by "various attendees" was not wild daydreaming but repeating verbatim what was said by the programming chair and printed on the flyer.

But I'm at least glad that it might not be our father's Readercon after all. I am very interested in seeing what it will be.

So...will you be going?