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Posts Tagged ‘Readercon’

Where To Find Me in January & Feburary

Final drafting and revisions of The Nine‘s as-yet-untitled sequel has commanded the lion’s share of my writing energy for the last month, meaning things have been quiet here on the blog. They haven’t been quiet, though, in the arranging travel and appearances department.

Last year I had the great pleasure of traveling to the Nebulas with my husband, reading with my fellow Broad Universe gals and paneling extensively at Readercon, giving an author talk at the Fountaindale Public Library, paneling and reading at WindyCon, doing my first book launch and reading at Anderson’s Bookshop, and supporting my favorite friendly local game store and comic shop, Villains & Heroes Academy, through a Small Business Saturday book sale. It was, in short, a busy year. Toss in a blog tour and a couple of podcast interviews and 2017 was something between exhilarating and exhausting. (And that’s before we even think about politics.)

I’m kicking off 2018 with my first visits to ConFusion in Detroit and CapriCon in Wheeling, Illinois, quickly followed by a huge Johnson County Public Library event on writing and world-building for genre readers. You can learn the details of my schedule by checking my events page. Keep an eye out there for updates in the coming weeks as I finalize my late spring and summer travel plans.


When Books Are Your People: A Belated Readercon 28 Reflection

At the end of June, a little before the official okay was given to release Readercon programming schedules, I jumped the gun and posted the reading and panels I’d be part of this year. To my relief, didn’t have to issue a correct as my schedule stayed put. But I have better reasons than disliking updating posts to be happy about that.

I’m happy about my Readercon schedule because giving a public reading from my debut novel, The Nine, speaking about problematic characters, about characters with disabilities, and about “soul” in stories reinforced so much of what makes me love writing, reading, and talking about both.

In the “The Souls of Stories” panel proposed by Rose Fox and moderated by Cecilia Tan, I found myself in the awkward position of pushing back against an idea Rose had proposed in their description of the panel: “What does it mean to relate to a story the way one relates to people? How does this intersect with the stereotype of the introverted reader who chooses stories over human interaction?”

My answer to this provocative question was, “We can relate to books much the same way we relate to people because reading a book IS a human interaction. A human wrote the damn book!” That got a laugh from the audience — and not, I’m relieved to report, an unkind one — but it also set the tenor of my weekend.

There I was in a hotel outside Boston, its halls literally overrun with authors and editors and readers and critics and bibliophiles of every shape and size, assured in the knowledge that what had brought us together was a fundamental love of books.

Daily conversation lends itself to slightly hyperbolic statements like “I love coffee,” or “I love sunny days.” But however bowled over we might be by clement weather or our morning’s first cuppa, we don’t mean “love” in the same way we do when we say “I love you,” or even when we say we love something much less intimate about someone — “I love your hair,” for instance. There is no real recipient of those earlier statements. Coffee doesn’t care. The sun will shine, or not, without any particular pride-in-performance.

Books are different, though. When we say we love a book, of even just part of a book (its characters, premise, prose, and so on), we speak something that’s not just a compliment to the creator. If that’s all it was, it wouldn’t be much different from loving someone’s hairdo. Instead, we’re realizing the creator’s effort to reach us, and feeling it succeed. The text is the hand that stretches back through time and space, through culture and bias and hope and despair, and tries to give us something. An open door. A moment of solace. A problem to chew on. An image that will haunt us. A promise that, really, things can turn out all right, in the end.

Books may be the most human of all interactions, because they embrace our species’ unique capacity to escape time-binding, to record both the real and the unreal, and to deploy them in perpetual records, offering new (un)realities to others. If you’re the sort of person who would click the link to this blog, I know I’m already preaching to the proverbial choir. But that’s also the point. You go to something called “Readercon” not so it can change your mind about books, but so it can double down on everything that brought you there, absorbing you into the discourse of the written word (and into the Saturday night Miscellany, too).

Of course books are human interaction. Books are our avatars, little pieces of our humanity we package for the delight and edification of others. Sharing those avatars, processing them together, enlarges the semi-private space of the written word.

That’s why giving my first public reading to a room eager to hear more was so important.

That’s why telling Samuel R. Delany that I couldn’t teach my speculative fiction studies class without his scholarship is important.

That’s why putting an ARC in a reader’s hands and then having them return later asking for an autograph is important.

That’s why shaking hands with authors I’ve taught in classes, and authors I love too much to teach, is important.

That’s why meeting critique partners from half a continent away and finding every possible way to tell them how wonderful they are is important.

I was honored, elated, and ultimately exhausted by my time at Readercon. It was a weekend about sharing pieces of soul. In that same panel on the Souls of Stories, Lorrie Kim explained the “soul” of the Harry Potter series is oxytocin, the hormone that most strongly influences social bonding. Maybe the best stories are all oxytocin for the brain,  triggering a bonding between reader and text.And really, that’s all I ever hoped to do, as an author. I hope that (to borrow Erik Amundsen’s term) I’ve “ensoulled” The Nine in such a way that it is the right kind of friend to the right person at the right time.

For now, I need to get back to the draft of its sequel. That new, still-growing soul is calling me, too, and its characters are in serious need of dopamine, if I don’t misjudge the peril I’ve left them in.

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Where to Find Me at Readercon 28!

I’ve been looking forward to Readercon for months, especially (though not only!) because my application to be on programming was accepted. Getting the program ratings packet to help drill down into where I could best be scheduled only amplified my anticipation. One hundred thirteen pages of sessions, panels, readings, and get-togethers later, I found I had requested to take part in seventeen different sessions. Take that kind of overexcited squee and multiply it by the dozens of other people ranking their programming desires and I can hardly imagine how the scheduling team tackled making anything coherent.

Fortunately for me and everyone else planning to spend July 13-16 in Quincy, Massachusetts, they did, and it’s brilliant.

If you’ll be at Readercon, or just considering stopping by (remember that Thursday the 13th is open to the public, free of charge, and I’m on the bill that night!), here’s where you can find me on panels and programming. Come say hello!


  • 8 PM Thursday, July 13: Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading – Come hear me read from The Nine and meet two other authors, Randee Dawn Kestenbaum and Susan Matthews, at this group reading sponsored by Broad Universe, an international organization supporting women writing sf/f/h.


  • 11 AM Friday, July 14: Writing Characters With Flawed Beliefs – I’m honored to be the panel leader for this discussion of how to manage writing characters whose beliefs, because of historical context or other factors, are problematic or even repulsive to modern readers. Is there a way to write a hero whose beliefs are likely to offend readers, and still have them be a hero? How will our own beliefs as writers stand the test of time in generations to come?


  • 2 PM Friday, July 14: Writing Disability in the Future – I’m very excited to take part in this panel where I’ll be discussing accurate, thoughtful portrayal of disability in sff, particularly when technology and magic make “cure solutions” so tempting. There’s much to be said about how we examine our assumptions about “ability” as both writers and readers, and how those assumptions are acted out or dismantled in the text. This is an important subject for me because of the people in my family and working life with disabilities and my ongoing experiences with them. I hope to do it justice.


  • 4 PM Friday, July 14: The Souls of Stories – I deserve no credit for this panel idea, but it’s one that could have been lifted from my thinking about my job as a teacher. To quote the panel description, “What does it mean to relate to a story the way one relates to people? How does this intersect with the stereotype of the introverted reader who chooses stories over human interaction? What are the advantages and limitations of this way of looking at the reading experience?” My whole function as a teacher is helping students connect to the soul of a story, giving them the language they need to speak about how they relate to it, and how it relates to them. If stories have souls – an essence that’s meant to grab on to readers in a very particular way – what responsibility do we have as authors to take care of our readers’ souls, in return?