See you in San Jose — Worldcon!

Here’s where to find me at Con Jose Aug. 16-20. Bay Area peeps: this means you!

Ordinary People

16 Aug 2018, Thursday 16:00 – 17:00, 210F (San Jose Convention Center)

Sometimes, main characters in a story are ordinary people – not everyone is extraordinary. Can such a focus make a story more powerful? What makes them appealing? How does such a story differ from a story of heroes and villains?

Panel discussion with Cecilia Tan (M), Nick Mamatas, Christine Taylor-Butler, Rosemary Claire Smith, Sheila Finch

Signing

18 Aug 2018, Saturday 15:30 – 16:00 SFWA Table (San Jose Convention Center)

Stop by and I’ll sign promo materials for T-Rex Time Machine (my interactive fiction game) or any magazines or anthologies you brought with my stories and/or articles.

Clarion 50th Reunion Party

18 Aug 2018, Saturday 20:00 – 23:00

Many, many Clarion classes come together to celebrate fifty years of the boot-camp for writers that launched so many careers. Mine included!

EAT YOUR WORLD (Read Your Food)

19 Aug 2018, Sunday 16:00-17:00 location TBA

Dive into Worldbuilding is throwing a party. Juliette Wade and others will bring foods inspired by fiction. Author attendees will be invited to read food-related snippets from their work.

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PAY THE WRITER

Like me, many science fiction writers and readers are getting word today about the passing of Harlan Ellison. Some who knew him will sit down to summon words to commemorate his brilliance as a writer and an anthologist coupled with his larger-than-life personality. I want to take a minute to pay tribute to his eloquent advocacy on behalf of writers everywhere. I can think of no better way to do so than to repeat the three words he put forward: Pay. The. Writer.

In this age of digital piracy, to say nothing of good old-fashioned scams at every turn, Harlan Ellison articulated as well as anyone that the money should flow to the writer, not away. If any of my readers are new to the business of writing (and yes, always treat it as a business as much as a creative endeavor), you would do well to keep this principle in mind when someone tries to talk you into giving them your property (which is exactly what your written words are) for free. They may say something to the effect of, “It’ll be good exposure.” One response is, “People die from exposure.” Here’s how Harlan Ellison put it.

REMEMBERING GARDNER

Over the weekend, the science fiction and fantasy community lost Gardner Dozois, writer and editor extraordinaire. I’ve known Gardner for decades and wanted to share with you a single instance illustrating how remarkable he was.

Gardner did a stint as the editor-in-residence for the Clarion Writers Workshop the year I attended. Over the four-day period he not only lectured and extended his own unique brand of friendship to every one of us. It was apparent that he wanted us to become the best writers we could be. To that end, he read all the stories we submitted when applying to Clarion plus every single story every one of us had written in the four weeks we’d been there. This had to total around 80-100 stories and he read them during those four days! Then he held one-on-one conferences with each of us in which he critiqued our stories, gave suggestions for what needed work, how to tackle problematic aspects of those stories, and even told us which ones were not worth any more work. His help was above and beyond what any of us had expected, all the more so when I stop and think back on what he could and did accomplish in a mere four days.

When Gardner took his leave of us, my head was spinning! And yet, what he did not do was tell any of us that he wanted to buy our stories for Asimov’s Science Fiction. While disappointing, it wasn’t surprising that none of us had written an Asimov’s-worthy story—yet. Naturally, Gardner could see more clearly than we could that writing is a long game. He did buy from some of us later and/or gave us an honorable mention in one of his year’s best anthologies.

I came away from Clarion vowing to sell Gardner a story. Alas that never happened. But here’s what did occur: Gardner’s advice helped me sell some of my Clarion stories once they had been rewritten from start to finish. A couple of those eventually went on to find homes in Asimov’s sister magazine, Analog. So in closing, I want to thank Gardner for helping to make me the Analog writer I became.

Where to Catch Me at Balticon

Memorial Day Weekend, come hear me read from one of my dinosaur stories and talk about time travel, shopping at Target in Middle Earth, critiquing, writing methods, predatory business practices, anthropomorphism, and who knows what else! Here is my schedule for Balticon:

Friday, May 25

6pm  Anthropomorphism in SFF

Panel Discussion:  Tom Doyle (moderator), Joy Ward, Walt Boyes, Rosemary Claire Smith, Michelle Sonnier

Learn how to tell stories from an animal’s unique perspective without resorting to writing humans in fursuits.

 

Saturday, May 26

11am  Stopping the Clocks: Time Travel in Writing

Panel Discussion: Andy Love (moderator), Brian Groover, Jack Clemons, Rosemary Claire Smith, Ian Randal Strock

In 1888, H.G. Wells wrote his first time travel story, “The Chronic Argonauts.” 130 years later, the concept is as popular as ever , with people still trying new takes on it. Why is time travel so perennial a theme? What are some of the different rules we’ve seen, and how do they make for good storytelling?

1pm You Can’t Shop at Target in Middle Earth

Panel Discussion: Walt Boyes (moderator), Melissa Scott, Denise Clemons, Ada Palmer, Rosemary Claire Smith

In your original fantasy setting, everything the characters own has to come from somewhere. Let’s talk about how to build a believable material culture for your world.

2pm Recognizing Predatory Business Practices

Panel Discussion: D.H. Aire (moderator), James R. Stratton, Neil Clarke, Rosemary Claire Smith, Lawrence Watt-Evans

How to look for signs that you might not be dealing with a legitimate company – including common tactics such as pay-to-play, signing over derivative works, and others.

 

Sunday, May 27

12pm Readings: Sarah Avery, Rosemary Claire Smith, Carl Paolino

Reading

Authors Sarah Avery, Rosemary Claire Smith, and Carl Paolino read from their work.

5pm  How to Incorporate Critique

Panel Discussion:  Joshua Bilmes (moderator), Day Al-Mohamed, John Appel, Leah Cypess, Rosemary Claire Smith

What do you do when you have two readers giving you different or even contradictory feedback? How much are you willing to let the feedback change your work?

Monday, May 28

10am  Outlining vs. Pantsing

Panel Discussion: Paul E. Cooley, Devin Jackson Randall, Rosemary Claire Smith, Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Some storytellers require a detailed outline to start fleshing out their story, but others prefer to write by the seat of the pants. What are some techniques to help you get better at one when you prefer the other? Authors and gamemasters welcome!

Hope to see lots of you there!

I’ll be at Nebulas Weekend in Pittsburgh

The Nebula Awards

I’ll be part of a panel discussion of what science fiction can learn from archaeology this Saturday at 4 p.m. Also on Sunday from 1-3, I’ll be signing autographs along with a great many other writers. Check out all the events here.

Unreliable Narrators Interview!

Cath, Chris, George & Chia (a/k/a the Unreliable Narrators) interviewed me about T-Rex Time Machine for their podcast! It was great fun talking to these talented writers about dinosaurs, creating an interactive fiction adventure, and much else. Have a listen.

While you’re at it, have a look at my game. It’s your chance to take your best friend back millions of years to see living dinosaurs.

 

Time Machine for Sale!

Starting TODAY, you can buy my dinosaur role playing game. It’s 170,000 words of Cretaceous adventure. You’re invited to switch on the flux navigator and take my time machine for a spin. Oh, and watch out for those triceratops horns! You do want to get home in one piece, don’t you? It’s perfect for anyone who loves interactive fiction and/or dinosaurs. Check out T-Rex Time Machine from Choice of Games.

POP QUIZ

What stands almost as tall as a giraffe, has hollow bones as thin as a playing card, and a 33-foot wing span?

No, it isn’t some imaginary creature, but rather an extinct pterosaur that lived during the Cretaceous. I feature its relatives in T-Rex Time Machine, my interactive fiction RPG. Soon, you’ll soon get to spend time with this fabulous critter plus a slew of dinosaurs, courtesy of me, Choice of Games, and the raging power of your imagination. In the meantime, you could read some of my other dinosaur stories or check out some other remarkable games from Choice of Games. To say that I am excited about unleashing it upon the world is a vast understatement.

One neat thing about the games produced by Choice of Games is that you can play them again and again by selecting different attributes for your character, even different names and genders.

COVER REVEAL: T-REX TIME MACHINE

Look! Look what a terrific cover for my interactive fiction RPG to be released soon. I don’t think the talented folks at Choice of Games could have gotten me a better cover for my game! I do hope you’ll all take my time machine out for a spin when it’s gassed up and ready to go. Oh, and when you get to the Cretaceous, keep your eyes out for that T rex.

Beta Testing My Dinosaur Game

T-Rex Time Machine went into beta test this morning. That’s the name of my interactive fiction game in which you will soon get to spend time with the dinosaurs, courtesy of me, Choice of Games, and the raging power of your imagination. The current plan is for the game to be available this upcoming holiday season. In the meantime, you could read some of my other dinosaur stories or check out some other remarkable games from Choice of Games. To say that I am excited about unleashing it upon the world is a vast understatement.

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