Posts Tagged ‘WisCon’

Wiscon Day T-minus One.

While, normally I do try to avoid discussing my undergarments, I thought, given yesterday’s adventures, that you’d like to know that I did go shopping and am equipped for getting through the weekend. Although still finding the experience creepy, the story of it amuses me. You know what I mean about the difference between the two?

Besides getting to see boatloads of friends, I also specifically got to hang out with Genevieve Valentine, who helped me get the underpinnings of my Regency dress situated correctly. With all the layers, I’d been having some trouble having too much bulk at the shoulders. The secret, it turned out, was to wear the chemise and bodiced petticoat slightly off-the shoulder. Problem = solved.

However, I also realize that I will absolutely have to have a dresser to help with tying of bows and the like. All I have to say is that in Regency trysts there was no such thing as “putting the clothes back on quickly to avoid discovery.”

Oh, and I did decide that I’ll wear the Regency dress at the Tea/Dessert Salon on Sunday.

I also got to hang out with my friend Rob Kimbro, who I worked with on Tempest back at McCarter Theater. He’s awesome and just happened to be in town at the same time. We caught up on the past and talked about the Secret Project we are working on.

My Wiscon 2010 schedule

I’m flying out on a redeye tonight to Wiscon which looks like it will have a fun blend of people present.  Hope to see you there.


10:00 – 11:15AM

Moderator: Jennifer D. B. Lackey. Carol F. Emshwiller, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kelly McCullough

Established authors are invited to read from their earliest works. It’s inspirational to discover that no one is very good when they’re 14. Come and laugh, and join in the discussion of growth and craft.


Readings from Chicks Dig Time Lords
10:00 – 11:15AM

K. Tempest Bradford, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kathryn Sullivan, Lynne M. Thomas

A reading from the anthology Chicks Dig Time Lords, which explores women’s reactions to the British TV series Doctor Who.

Is Science Fiction Keeping Up with Science?
4:00 – 5:15PM
Conference 4

Moderator: Liz L. Gorinsky, Eleanor A. Arnason, Joyce Frohn, Mary Robinette Kowal

Are we as Science Fiction writers keeping up with science or are we only following older models of science fiction? Can we have space travel without instant FTL?


The SignOut
11:30AM – 12:45PM

Come and sign your works, come and get things signed, come and hang out and wind down before you leave. I’m just there because it’s a good chance to catch everyone in one room.

John Joseph Adams, Alma Alexander, Eleanor A. Arnason, F. J. Bergmann, Kat Beyer, Terry Bisson, Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas, Richard Chwedyk, Rick Dakan, Alan John DeNiro, Lori Devoti, Moondancer Drake, Timmi Duchamp, Carol F. Emshwiller, James Frenkel, Greer Gilman, Hiromi Goto, Anna Black, Eileen Gunn, Andrea D. Hairston, Karen Elizabeth Healey, N. K. Jemisin, Ellen Klages, Mary Robinette Kowal, Claire Light, Kimberley Long-Ewing, Kelly McCullough, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Sarah Monette, Nancy Jane Moore, Pat Murphy, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah B. Prineas, Madeleine Robins, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Patrick James Rothfuss, Catherine M. Schaff-Stump, Fred Schepartz, David J. Schwartz, Nisi Shawl, Jennifer K. Stevenson, Caroline Stevermer, Cecilia Tan, Lynne M. Thomas, JoSelle Vanderhooft

Buying a cable as a miniature example of life outside Wiscon

Having clerks in electronic stores treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about is particularly annoying after Wiscon. There are times when it’s amusing to go into a hardware store in a dress and ask for a replacement blade for my bandsaw while the clerk’s head spins with reevaluation.  Today, I just needed a cord and was in a hurry.

I went in and the clerk asked me if I was looking for something in particular.

“Yes, thanks. I need a usb to mini-usb retractable cord. One of the little travel jobbies.”

He looked at me with a perfectly neutral expression, but said, “What are you using it for?”

Now, let’s be clear. That’s a good question when someone comes in and doesn’t know what they want.  It’s also one I get from clerks who think I’ve asked for the wrong thing.  I sighed and said, “It’s to connect my phone to my computer. I had one, it got a short. I need a new one.”

He now looked openly skeptical.  “What kind of phone? Let me see it.”

“It’s a G1.” I refrained from rolling my eyes, because, you know, maybe he was covering for not knowing what a mini-usb plug looked like. By this point we’ve stopped in front of a display of cords so I pulled the phone out and flashed the port at him.

He fingered a retractable cord that was regular USB.  “We don’t have that.”

Fortunately, right next to that is exactly what I wanted, so I picked one up.  “Here. This is it.”

“No, ma’am. That’s the wrong size.”

I looked at the package again, just in case, and showed him the words “USB to mini-USB,”  which is what I’d asked for.

He looked at it and then back at the wrong one.  “Oh.  I thought you wanted something else. This is the wrong size.”

Now see.  I’m glad I didn’t hand him his head for assuming that a woman wouldn’t know what she’s asking.  Clearly the problem was just that his primary qualification is that he’s not a zombie.

Wiscon Day 2

Yesterday I woke spontaneously at 9:00 a.m., which I did not approve of. I’d had so little sleep the night before, that it just seemed unfair and yet I was wide, wide awake. So fine. I got up, took a shower and eventually wandered out to the farmer’s market with my roomie Heather Lindsley. We acquired breakfast and discussed the relative merits of a theater career track versus a literary one as well as wondering why everyone in Madison ambles instead of actually walking.

The rest of the day seemed to consist of meeting very cool people for food or drinks, interspersed with a nap. I didn’t manage to make it to any panels at all which is a shame because Wiscon has really good ones. I’m going to try to remedy that today. Speaking of which, I should head out and hit the con.

At Wiscon, Day 1

  • 01:06 You know… just once, I would like to go to a con without pulling an all-nighter at the theater. See you at Wiscon tomorrow? #
  • 04:31 I’m waiting for the bus to the airport. Have I been to bed? Does a 20 minute nap count? #
  • 04:38 Today’s shopping list consists of ginger ale, laser and napkins. #
  • 06:02 Curses. My flight rescheduling means that I’ll arrive at Wiscon after the writer’s workshop session I’m supposed to be leading. #
  • 06:54 On the plane and ready to fall asleep. #
  • 14:39 Have arrived at my hotel for Wiscon. Very tempted by the nice soft bed but I’m going to head over to registration. #
  • 18:03 Sitting around with Klages, Levine, Monette and Thomas. Wiscon is already fun. #
  • 22:37 Just a gentle reminder: Robinette is my middle name, not my maiden name, not my surname. That’s Kowal. #

Sans, twitter. The con is great fun and I’m happy to see people. I’m also so tired I could weep, yet somehow I managed to moderate a 10:30 pm panel without any major mind melts. Thank heavens for the theater instinct which kicks adrenalin in to focus the mind just long enough to get through the “show.” 

And I’m even more thankful that I had very smart panelists in Carrie L. Ferguson, M. J. Hardman and Deepa D. so I didn’t have to do more than ask the occasional question. What was the panel?

Many of us can point to something which we read that changed our lives. Some of us view writing fiction as a political act. This panel will explore the relationship of SF/F to society and culture. Can SF/F change the world in a practical and political way? Is there any occasion when writers of SF/F can justifiably claim it is only entertainment and has no responsibility for commenting on popular culture.

Oh, I also managed to catch up with Erin Cashier, who was in the writing workshop I didn’t get to this morning, and go over her story with her. A hearty thank you to K. Tempest Bradford who stepped in to cover the workshop for me.

The trip home from WisCon

My flight was further delayed, but that was just fine. I sat down and this charming gentleman settled into the seat next to mine. I noticed that his reading material was Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light, from Small Beer Press. Naturally, this merited comment, as it made it almost certain that he was also coming from WisCon.

Indeed. My seatmate was Ron Serdiuk from Pulp Fiction Press out of Australia. We knew so many people in common that it was almost comic that we hadn’t met before. The flight seemed almost too short, so we shared a cab into the city.

I must say, I was not expecting the flight home to be one of the highlights of the trip, but it was.

The next highlight happened at home. My beloved husband had picked up season three of Battlestar Galactica. And Chinese food. Mmm…

Wiscon mini-report

I’ve added WisCon to my must-do conventions. You can tell that I liked it because I came to bed too late to write a post every single night I was here. The panels were, on the whole, good. There were times when I wanted them to dig a little deeper, but the subject matter was interesting and not topics that one normally sees at cons.

A gift from the department of travel karma

So a funny thing happened on my way to Wiscon. I mentioned that my flight was oversold and I volunteered to go on a later flight, right? The airline gave me a food voucher so I wandered over to the nearest kiosk. As I was standing in line, a woman said, “Mary Robinette Kowal!”

I turned, in some surprise. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place her so I cleverly said, “Um… yes!”

“I’m [editor]. I just had lunch with your agent.”

My jaw dropped. She’d spotted my name on my luggage tag as we were standing in line. And this, my friends, is a good reason to have a distinctive name.

We realize that we’d actually met at World Fantasy last year and ridden back on the same train. This time we did not have the same destination, so running into her was totally random. She was on her way with her boyfriend to spend the weekend with his family. And then she said, “Your manuscript is one of the ones in my bag. It’s sort of Jane Austeny, isn’t it?”

“Jane Austen with magic!” I said.

“What could go wrong with that combination?”

“Well, lots of things go wrong. Chaos ensues. And then matrimony.”

She laughed.

So the lessons learned today are:

  1. Volunteer to be bumped
  2. Distinctive name is good.
  3. Have the elevator pitch ready.

I mean, now I’ve got a free round-trip ticket from the airline and had the bonus of making a connection with an editor right before she reads my manuscript. I think that’s worth the price of being late to WisCon.

Oversold flight

Or perhaps I will arrive in Madison later. The flight was oversold and they were offering a free round-trip ticket to volunteers so, I’m going to hang out in the airport and catch the 11:00 flight. Not sure when I get into Madison, but my first panel at WisCon isn’t until tomorrow and I’m sure I’ll be there long before that. ((Knock on wood))

This should be some good writing time.

At LaGuardia on my way to WisCon

Not that I have anything terribly exciting to report. I just wanted you to know where I am. I’m supposed to arrive in Madison at 9:08.

MRK’s Wiscon Schedule

I’ll be going to my first WisCon and am extremely excited by the programming they offer. Here are just the panels that I’ll be on.

Title: Beyond Illustration: The Process of Creating ‘Vision’
Saturday, 9:00-10:15 P.M.

Much of SF/F art is illustrative, growing directly out of the writer’s vision. But some artists are doing exactly what writers do–using a myth or folkloric theme or story as a starting point and interpreting it in a new and personal way, developing a story with a vision of their own. These image/object driven visions are sometimes then the inspiration for a writer’s new story. How is the process of creating a vision the same in writing and art? How is it different? How do they cross-pollinate?

M: Mary Robinette Kowal, Deb Taber, Connie Toebe, Catherine Crowe

Title: What If You Don’t Want to Have Children? Redux

Saturday, 10:30-11:45 P.M.

Modern birth control and feminism have made the option of not having children much more socially acceptable, yet women (and sometimes men) are often made to feel that by making this choice they are abandoning an essential part of the human experience. Given the increasing numbers of people who are choosing to be child-free, what will society look like in another 20 years? 50? 100? There are currently some countries that pay generous benefits to parents, especially in countries with decreasing populations. How will this continue? How will the population reduction affect workplace policies? How will the results of choosing to be child-free actually benefit parents (increased tax incentives, workplace benefits, etc.)? Last year, this panel focused on the personal, emotional, and medical struggles faced by those of us who have chosen to be childfree. It was a relief to see that there were others like ourselves, going through the very same struggles. This year, let’s take a deep
per look and examine how societal structures, workplace policies, and government taxes and subsidies discourage or encourage our decision.

M: Carrie Ferguson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Gerri Balter, Maddie Greene, Isabel Schechter

Title: The Future Of The Book

Sunday, 1:00-2:15 P.M.
Senate B

With Amazon’s Kindle being the latest entry in the ongoing attempts to scale the Everest of e-book technology, it’s time to look at the technology of the book, and where we think it might be going in the next 10-20 years. Topics might include what’s wrong with the current set of e-books, what people would need to move to an e-book solution, and new technologies/approaches in the paper-book world, such as the increased use of POD books.

M: Mary Robinette Kowal, Steven Schwartz, Jeannie Bergmann, Cabell Gathman

Title: How To Be A Good Ally — And A Bad One

Monday, 10:00-11:15 A.M.

As privileged allies in tee struggles against various oppressions such as racism and sexism, sometimes we make mistakes, and some of our strategies are more successful than others. And some of us are frightened by the idea of tackling the learning curve and making fools of ourselves along the way. Others of us aren’t even sure where to begin. This panel will discuss starting points, common pitfalls, embarrassing stories of mistakes made and overcome, and how to do it right.

M: Lori Selke, Debbie Notkin, Mary Robinette Kowal

Safely in Avon, MN

We arrived in Avon at around 8:00 local time. Rob’s brother, Kevin and his wife Shawna greeted us. We have been plied with wine and Shawna’s delicious cooking. I took a shower and feel much more human.

The cats are ensconced in our room. They seem have settled into the routine nicely. Maggie tends to stay in the “upstairs apartment” which is the open carrier on top. Marlowe alternates between the downstairs and “the cave,” which is the area under our seats. I moved a bunch of stuff to the rear of the truck, since we weren’t using any of it, so that he had more room to hang out. He still gets freaked out by being outside during the day, but last night was hankering to go out. We had them both tied to our luggage inside the tent until we got settled.

Today, I even got them both to play a little bit with string. I don’t know what they make of the whole trip, but they are being remarkably adaptable.

We’ll see how well they let us sleep tonight. I am dragging and looking forward to a day of being stationary. We’ll stay here in Avon until Monday, when it is off to Wisconsin.