Where am I heading this time? I’m going to Salt Lake City to record some more episodes of Writing Excuses with Brandon, Dan, and Howard. I know this has been a subject of some curiosity to a few of you, so for a brief moment, I’m going to take you behind the curtain.
I live in Portland, OR and the rest of the team lives in the SLC region of Utah. We can’t get together every week and we interrupt each other too much to do without physical cues. This means that I fly in for marathon recording sessions. Last time we recorded sixteen episodes in two days. We recorded more at WorldCon and add guests any time we can get more than two of us at a con. Shocking, I know, that we don’t record them weekly.
Finding time when we can all get together is difficult. I mean, you’ve seen my travel schedule and that’s just one person. Have you seen how often Brandon travels? Or Dan? Or Howard — when he can find his pants, that is.
The point being that I’m about to dive into another marathon session of recording.
Do I come home then? No, I do not. I go to New York and then I come home.
And I’m off! Again! I’m in San Diego for World Fantasy, where I hope I will see some of you. My travel down was reasonable smooth, aside from a bizarre period of sitting on the tarmac because the North runway was closed. I don’t know why.
Here’s my schedule!
Friday 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM Town and Country/San Diego: Autograph Session
This is a WFC tradition for all authors, artists, and editors attending the convention. Everyone is invited to participate in this very informal event. Tent cards will be available outside the room. Get your card, find a seat, and make yourself comfortable. Refreshments and a no-host bar will be provided in the foyer.
Saturday 8pm Pacific 1: Out of the Broom Closet: Integrating Magicians and Fantastic Creatures into Society.
Most stories have vampires, werewolves, witches and other supernatural entities hiding within the greater society. But more and more look at them as just another facet of modern society. How does that change them as characters? How does it change human society? What does it add to the plot, in addition to the obvious possible social commentary?
S. G. Browne, Mette Harrison (M), Leanna Renee Hieber, Mary Robinette Kowal, Rebecca Rowe
I just got back from the Surrey International Writers Conference, about which I cannot say enough good things. I highly, highly recommend this conference if you are a writer. I’m planning on going back next year, schedule permitting, whether or not I’m a presenter. It left me energized and charged to write. That’s a beautiful thing.
Aside from a slight delay at the border crossing as one passenger was detained, the bus trip from Surrey was uneventful. We got into Seattle about half an hour late due to that, but I still had plenty of time to go to Zeitgeist Coffee and meet up with Andrew and Scott James.
Allow me to pause here and put in a plug for Zeitgeist. They noticed me tweeting to invite folks to meet me there and tweeted a welcome back. I mentioned to someone else that I really like their lavender shortbread — lovely! — and when I arrived, the barrista recognized me and gave me a piece of lavender shortbread. If I hadn’t already liked the coffeeshop, that would have cemented it. Plus, they make a darn fine cup of coffee. Thanks, guys!
The train ride from Seattle was smooth and almost all things delightful. The infant in my car was mostly delightful and I went to the dining car when the child became less than delightful. You can’t do that on an airplane.
I’ve finished a short story, had breakfast, strolled, and am enjoying a beautiful view out my window. I love the train SO much. Of course, in Seattle, I’ll have to switch to a bus for the last part of the trip, but it’s a fairly comfy bus.
Rob and I had to go out of town this weekend and I was struck by how many of the places we visited had a touring memory attached to them. I played in elementary schools all over the place and we were very much in my old stomping grounds this weekend.
At one point, we needed to get diesel for the car and Rob said that he thought he’d wait until we exited for our next turn. I thought that there weren’t any options at that exit — and I was right. It was weird.
If you were in elementary school in Washington or Oregon in 1995-97 or in Idaho in 1993-1995 or 1998, then I almost certainly performed for you. It is a little awkward how many adults I run across that have memories of seeing me perform or rather of seeing the shows that I performed.
I’m back from Seattle, where I had a lovely time visiting with writerly type folks. I took the train back. It was half an hour late pulling into Seattle, but made up time so we were only about fifteen minutes late arriving in Portland.
Now… let me explain why I take the train instead of driving to Seattle, or indeed, anywhere that I can take the train.
It’s a beautiful ride. This is true almost anywhere trains run. They tend to go through countryside that you can’t see from any other angle without hiking.
I am not driving, which means I can write. Finished a chapter on the way up. Halfway through one on the way down.
Better use of resources. It is way more efficient to use mass transit than to travel solo.
Really interesting conversations. And today’s is a case in point. The gentleman that was sitting next to me was on his way to Portland for a friend’s birthday. We talked about my WIP, history, Jack Johnson, travel, AND he mentioned his daughter’s website.
Which turns out to be really, really cool. Those of you in Seattle, who aren’t already reading buschick.com allow me to encourage you to. I’ve just spent the past half hour trawling through it and reading about her car-free lifestyle. During the course of which I found this very cool video on an open-source “transit appliance” that the City of Portland uses.
I came up on the train today to be a Mystery Muse at Clarion West. I didn’t want to mention that I was headed toward Seattle just in case the students — who should be writing — noticed that I was coming and guessed.
Nisi Shawl and I chatted with them for a little over an hour about some aspects of the business side of writing. Things like how to get on panels, how to start and end conversations, headshots, bios, and freebies. Charles Stross, who was their sixth instructor, joined us at the end with some additional excellent advice.
Some of these, I’ll expand and get written up into Debut Author Lessons. Meanwhile, may I just say to the 2011 Clarion Class that it was a pleasure meeting you. Congratulations on surviving!
I had a productive day in D.C. yesterday working on next year’s 47th Annual Nebula Awards with Peggy Rae Sapienza. The Awards weekend should be a good deal of fun.
I’m staying at their home, which is lovely, and it makes me oddly homesick. I grew up in North Carolina in a neighborhood of the same age as this one. While the house has a very different floor plan, the views out the window are strikingly similar. I also hadn’t realized how much I missed the sounds. Cicadas and whip-poor-wills and the wind in the trees. There are cardinals here, which we don’t have on the west coast.
Today I’m heading up to the Boston area for Readercon. In theory.
My flight has already been cancelled and my new flight is delayed by two hours. I’ve gone from an 8:30am departure to a 1:15pm departure.
That’s right! You get to play another game of #marygoround. This time I’m travelling to three cities before returning to Portland, so there should be plenty of opportunities to play.
For those of you who haven’t played #marygoround before… Some of the folks who read my blog and twitter feed noticed that I had some interesting travel karma. Things went wrong often enough that they suggested a drinking game.
The basic rules
When I successfully complete a leg of travel, you get to take a drink.
When something goes wrong, I get to take a drink.
The theory is that having you all root for success makes it more likely that I will arrive someplace. While if things are going wrong, I’m likely to need some liquid reinforcement.
No, really. Rob’s family lives in one of the towns that Garrison Keilor based Lake Woebegon on. So, I’m sure you are wondering how this installment of #marygoround went.
Our flight out of Portland was mostly on time and made up the loss on the way to Denver.
The REALLY AWESOME thing though was that the Hudson’s Books in Denver’s A Concourse had the hardback of Shades of Milk and Honey on the shelf. I signed it for them and remarked that the trade paperback was out now. Brittany, who was very nice, said, “I know. It was back-ordered and I couldn’t get it. Everyone wants it so I decided to carry the hardback until the paperbacks came in.” She might have just been saying that to make the visiting author happy and it worked.
We went on to the gate and… The flight out of Denver was delayed by forty-five minutes. With me? That’s not too bad.
But in Minneapolis, Rob’s bag arrived and mine didn’t. You know, the luggage that has everything I need for the wedding we are attending and the signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Sunday. I remarked to Mrs. Kowal that I felt like I was living in a sitcom.
Happily, they just called and have found the bag. They are going to drive it out to St. Cloud, which is only 20 minutes away, and we’ll pick it up in the morning.
It’s good to see Rob’s family. Tomorrow I’ll be helping with the hors d’oeurves. After I get my cloths. I like this shirt, but not enough to want to spend tomorrow in it.
Technically, Friday was the first day of the con but since I got here on Thursday it feels like Day 2 for me.
We started with the opening ceremonies which were short and simple. The various GoH’s introduced themselves and said, “hello” to the audience. Martin Young, the Toastmaster, gave me the straight line of asking if things ever went wrong in puppetry, so I told the Sleeping Beauty story.
Sandra Tayler is in town and rooming with me. She is a delight to hang out with. By the way, I highly recommend having someone like Sandra with you when you GoH to act as a safety net.
From the Opening Ceremonies it was off to Getting Published Today with Dani Kollin, Eytan Kollin, and Susan Krinard. Oddly we were all Tor authors whose surnames began with the letter K. It was a fun conversation although at one point I remarked that we were a self-heckling panel. The key takeaway I think from that is that if you want to get published you have to have a good manuscript and do your research.
Between panels Sandra and I hung out in the bar area with John Picacio, Chris Garcia, Jeremy Llassen, and a roving cast of others. Funny conversations including a whole host of innocent sentences parents should not say about their children without risking jail time if they are heard out of context.
In the evening we went to the Meet the Guests reception which was good clean fun. I need to give a shout out to Tobi Schneider, guest liaison, who is doing a fantastic job of making us all feel welcome.
After the reception, I indulged in my guilty pleasure and went to the Regency Ball. I brought an extra dress and managed to talk Sandra into going. Man, some of those dances are really fast. At one point, I lost a shoe. I felt very much like Cinderella.
Here’s where you can find me today (Saturday)
11:30 AM to 1:00 PM in room: San Tomas Growing Artisticially Through Crisis
1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in room: Bayshore East and West Puppetry Workshop (Note: I will have the pencil-necked little weasel, and John Scalzi’s Papa Fuzzy puppet with me)
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in room: Winchester $5, a Dead Fish, and a Time Machine
5:30 to 7:00 PM in room: Central Autographing
By the way, if I’m not in a panel, the bar is a good bet on where to find me.
I’m at BayCon and I have to say they are treating me very nicely. Fresh fruit in my room. Dark chocolate. Mmm… Yesterday was lowkey. Tobi Schneider met me at the train station and took me around to get me oriented. I saw John Picacio, Artist GoH last night and we caught up.
I also met Bobbie DuFault, the Fan GoH. She’s from Seattle so we were both wondering about the bright light in the sky. Thank heavens today is overcast. That other thing was just unnatural.
Today I’ll be at:
2:00 PM to 2:30 PM in room: Winchester Opening Ceremonies
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in room: Lawrence Getting Published Today
8:00 PM to 9:00 PM in room: Grand Ballroom E & F Meet-the-Guests Reception
I’m also planning to head to the Regency dance after the Meet-the-Guests reception, although that might involve going back to my room to change. Meanwhile, my plan is to hang in the bar area and chat with anyone who wanders by.
I’m hopping on a train to Santa Clara TODAY for BayCon, where I’m one of their Guests of Honor. I’m looking forward to seeing the always fantastic art Goh John Picacio and to meeting Fan GoH Bobbie DuFault and Toastmaster Martin Young.
I’ve got my schedule below, but wanted to point out a couple of things.
At the puppetry workshop, I’ll have the Pencil-necked Little Weasel AND Papa Fuzzy.
For my reading, I’ll read some published work PLUS an excerpt from my WIP novel AND a tiny little puppet show.
There are two Regency dances on the schedule. I’m hoping to attend both.
After a very productive and immersive weekend, I’m heading back to Portland today. John Scalzi is also flying into Portland within half an hour of me. Given our combined travel karmas, I fully expect the airport, and potentially, all of Portland to implode under the combined weight of Things That Go Wrong when we travel.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]