We are in the thick of the part of the year known as "convention season." This is a mixed blessing for my reading list. Reading books is panel prep! It counts as working! On the other hand, I try to keep distractions out of my reading list and so there are all kinds of wonderfully tempting books that I'm postponing reading for the next couple of months.
This summer, I'm on panels at 4th Street Fantasy Convention (next week!) and CONvergence. I'm also teaching a couple of one-day classes at The Loft Literary Center, but they aren't the kind that require reading whole novels.
Stealth Characterization via Setting (https://www.loft.org/shop/product_detail/2/classes/998/stealth_characterization_via_setting/) explores creating characters indirectly, through how you construct and describe their surroundings.
Writer ... With Kids: Finding Time to Create (https://www.loft.org/shop/product_detail/4/adult_class/1015/writerwith_kids_finding_time_to_create/) is a class for creative people with too little time.
Interested? Go register!
For 4th Street, I'm reading urban fantasy. I've started with a re-read of War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. It's been a few years since I last read it, but I know I'll enjoy it.
My 4th Street panel is the very first panel of the convention: Even in Byerly’s, You’re Not Out of the Woods.
Thirty years ago, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks gave us a vision of Minneapolis in which the magic was, much like Minneapolis’ own, hung on a balance between the pastoral influence of parks and wilderness and the urban jungle of clubs, skyscrapers, restaurants, and cavernous grocery stores. How has this intersection of asphalt and isolation influenced the genre moving forward? What unique elements of the numinous can we find where green spaces touch city shadows? Fantasy fixed itself up a nice place in the city a few generations ago — is it still a comfortable tenant? What does pastoral even mean to those who’ve never known magic outside the shadow of a smokestack?
Panelists: Holly Black, Pamela Dean, Casey Blair, Dana Baird, and me.
I'm on three panels at CONvergence. Two of the panels are discussing writing techniques, but I'm going to need to brush up a bit for the third one, which is about the surveillance state in reality and fiction.
Thursday, Jul 6, 8:30 PM
Soul of Wit
Description: Short story and flash fiction authors discuss their writing techniques and provide tips on how to make the most of a limited word count. Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Aimee Kuzenski, Ben San Del, Elizabeth Bear (mod), Roy C. Booth
Friday, Jul 7, 5:00 PM
What to Do When They're Watching You
Science fiction writers have long been concerned about a surveillance state, but recent technologies have made this fear more and more realistic. What technologies are watching us and what does science fiction tell us to do about it? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Dave Walbridge, Craig A. Finseth, Jamie Riedesel, Eric Zawadzki (mod)
Friday, Jul 7, 7:00 PM
Pixar's Story Writing Rules
Pixar has published 22 rules to aid in writing stories. Which ones work? Do any NOT work? Panelists: Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Melissa Olson (mod), John Heimbuch, Dave Walbridge, Tex Thompson
Do you have any recommendations for good SF about living in a surveillance state? Let me know! The setting can be near-future or far-future. I am especially interested in stories that came out within the last few years.
Do any of the panel topics raise questions in your mind? What are they? I want to be as prepared as I can be for what the audience might want to know.
Finally, if you know anyone who might be interested in the productivity or advanced characterization classes, please point them that way!