WorldCon Recap, Part 2–A Family Reunion & Coming Of Age

In yesterday’s recap, part 1, I talked about the things I did during WorldCon. Today’s post may interest no one but myself, yet since I found WorldCon to be profoundly moving on several levels as an experience, I still want to talk about that aspect as well. In many ways, for me, ChiCon 7 fell somewhere between a coming of age and a family reunion. It was a business trip, too, yes, but felt instead more like a gathering of family and old friends, reunited to celebrate their commonalities and enjoy their common passions, and, in my view, that’s exactly what a good con should be.

Part of this was the result of having peers who are up and coming alongside me or just a step ahead nominated for Hugos. It’s hard to measure who’s at what level, I suppose, and these are people with whom I have struck up close friendships. But watching guys like John DeNardo and Brad R. Torgersen and Patrick Hester be nominated for awards was personally moving. Regardless of that fact that one won and two lost, it was like an endorsement that our generation is welcome to the party, and I shared a sense of pride with them and achievement in that, though I had little to with Brad and Patrick’s work (I do regularly contribute to SFSignal).

Another part was having writers whose names I recognized but whom I’d never interacted with telling me they recognized my name and knew of my chat, etc. It was affirming to know that I’m more established than I realized and the respect given made me feel like I’d transitioned to one of the gang rather than a fandboy/wannabe/outside looking over the windowsill. Oh sure, standing next to Robert J. Sawyer and Robert Silverberg and such was a bit fanboy-inducing and probably always will be. Both have suggested I call them by their first names now and my internal voice keeps saying: “I don’t know if I can.” But they were both incredibly friendly and kind and it’s an honor to count them peers and friends.

It was also really exciting to be treated as an equal on panels with the likes of Charles Stross, Jay Lake, and Nancy Kress. For newcomers Lissa Price and myself, it could have been intimidating to share a panel with them, but I was assigned to moderate and all three treated me as if I were an equal. Nancy and Jay even went out of their way to compliment my efforts, which was quite kind. Full disclosure, Jay and I had lunch before the panel and have struck up a friendship over several years despite this being our first face-to-face encounter. And I have bought a story tentatively from Nancy for an anthology. But the next panel with Kay Kenyon and Carol Berg went much the same. And it was a feeling extended throughout encounters with numerous luminaries in the field.

There’s a voice inside most authors, I think, that constantly suggest we’re not good enough, not worthy. That calling ourselves an author alongside those greats we admire is far too presumptuous, perhaps, or that we have to earn our way a bit more first. For me, while I consider humility both healthy, advisable and a sign of maturity, it still is nice to feel accepted as a peer by such people. And it’s an honor I hope to live up to so they never come to regret it, if that makes any sense. It felt like I came of age from fan/wannabe to full on member of the club, as a result, and that was emotionally rewarding after some very hard months and years on a personal and professional level.

I was also honored and quite pleased when artist and ASFA president Mitchell Bentley won one of eight Judge’s Choice Awards at the World Con Art Show from judges including Irene Gallo for his cover of “Rivalry On A Sky Course,” my Davi Rhii prequel story. I commissioned it on a very thin budget and gave him a percentage of books sold in  exchange. He’d done beautiful covers for the books, and I wanted to maintain the look of the series. Plus, I enjoy collaborating with Mitch a lot. I am so pleased for him at the recognition for his fine work and, on top of that, for the fact that the Judges recognized its quality and the Con Chair bought the piece, rewarding him in yet another way. Congrats to Mitch! And gratitude!

Were there disappointments at WorldCon? Being ignored by a couple of people I once called friends for some unknown offense was a bit offputting, yes. So was missing connections with some people I really wanted to meet and never seem to encounter at Cons. The Hugo after parties shutting out of friends from the celebration annoyed me. And there were some lines and priceyness issues from time to time. I also wish my book sales had been a bit better. Three books out of 60 was a smaller ratio than I would have liked.

But those complaints are overshadowed by the magic I experienced with all the wonderful people I met. Truly it was like Schmidt Family Reunions we hold every three years that I’ve attended in that past. Meeting online friends like Jamie Todd Rubin, Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge, Madison Woods, Tim Ward, Brad Torgersen, Annie Bellett, Jay Lake, Cat Rambo, Barb Galler-Smith, Matt Forbeck and more for the first time and reuniting with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while like Saladin Ahmed, Mike Resnick, John O’Neill, Chris Kastenschmidt, and more. Add to that meeting so many past #sffwrtcht guests, including luminaries like Silverberg and Sawyer, and it was a really good experience for networking and family building. Howard Andrew Jones and I commiserated tonight on FB about how much we’d bonded with people online, making face-to-face encounters rather natural and not awkward. It’s amazing what social media has created for networking and relationship building.

And then I arrived home riding the waves of these emotions and highs and found these waiting for me:

Yeah, I know, “you got mail”– big deal, right? BUT the Locus contains a mention and my name’s on the cover of Talisman. Because Locus mentions my new book, The Returning, and my 3rd short story ever, written in 2009-10 then revised and sold in 2011, finally made it to print in Tales Of The Talisman, becoming my first print magazine appearance as a fiction author. It also is my first illustrated short story, not counting the cover for “Rivalry On A Sky Course’s” ebook, of course. “LaMigra’s” alien monster comes to life. Based on my time in El Paso, it’s the story of a culture clash that happens when two Mexican illegals get taken by aliens they mistake for Border Patrol.  As each side reacts differently than expected, it’s a fun examination of setting and culture on the border. But I’m biased as the writer, of course.

It’s a good feeling to achieve yet two more successes on the heels of a great Con. How was your World Con?


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers, both forthcoming. Beyond The Sun and Spec Sports anthologies are also in the works. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

 

 

 

 

ChiCon 7 Recap, Part 1–What Happened During The Con

It’s hard to wrap my mind around all that happened for the past four days in Chicago. For me, this turned out to be the best Con experience ever on all levels. I’m so happy I decided to go in spite of my financial struggles and very grateful to the support and encouragement shown me from so many corners.

The highlight of any Con is usually relationship and networking but I think it was doubly true of Chicon 7 because I had the chance to meet so many people I’ve gotten to know strictly online the past few years, all for the first time. Jamie Todd Rubin, Jean Johnson, Jason Sizemore, Maurice Broaddus, Janet Harriett, Jay Lake, Brad Beaulieu, Cat Rambo, Madison Woods, Stina Leicht, David Boop, James Enge, Howard Andrew Jones, Chuck Gannon, Brad Torgersen, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Myke Cole, John Helfers, Lissa Price, Nancy Kress, Tim Akers, Adam Christopher, Charles Stross, Jason Waltz, Courtney Schafer, Barb Galler-Smith, Cat Valente, Nancy Fulda, Randy Henderson, Michael Flynn, Nnedi Okorafor, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, John Picacio, Annie Bellet, Alastair Mayer, Matt Forbeck, Tim Ward, Brad Wheeler and Jack McDevitt were all new face to face encounters. (I likely forgot some too). Plus I renewed and built acquaintance with many I’d met before. With some I talked business, with others just chit chat on all kinds of topics. With some, I panelled. With others, I moderated. With others, I drank and ate. And with almost all, I laughed.

My first ever WorldCon panel was a reading that took place 90 minutes after I arrived on severely delayed Amtrak train and after a scary taxi ride which involved sidewalk and wrong way driving and which the driver explained with the comment “I am new.” The reading, however, went very well. I had listened to Nancy Fulda and another reading prior to that. And I read two passages I have read before. Authors and editors made up the audience and complimented my reading for days after, which made me feel good. I really don’t like readings and they make me nervous. It was good to know that I might actually be better than some at it.

Volunteering at the SFWA table brought new encounters with David Brin, who impressed me with his kind consideration, Edward Lerner, Alan Dean Foster and many others. The SFWA Suite with its relaxed atmosphere and free provisions was a godsend and privilege. The Green Room and Con Suite also came in very handy in this regard. 15 meals over 5 days, I paid for 7 and four of those were during train trips. Pretty amazing blessing. My roommates, Don Mead and David Steffen, also turned out to be easy to get along with and fun. Don and I had met before but David was new. They took me to the Codex breakfast Saturday which was a nice opportunity as well, since I have been interested in Codex for a while.  My signing Friday with Nnedi, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Mike Flynn, Seanan McGuire and others was quiet but did sell three books and an ebook and have one person who already owned the book come to get it signed. Book Universe sold at least one more copy and Larry Smith also had copies which I got Jean Johnson, Mike Resnick and Patrick Hester to sign.

Friday lunch was with Maurice Broaddus, then later I did the signing and attended Saladin Ahmed’s packed reading before Friday night dinner with the Black Gate folks, including editor John O’Neill, Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge, and also Rich Horton and Jason Waltz of Rogue Blades. Great people, great conversation, and a lot of fun. Then had Bar Con time with Cat Rambo, Brenda Cooper, Tom King, Matt Forbeck, John Helfers, Madison Woods and several others and also attended the Night Shade Party and met some former and future sffwrtcht guests, caught up with Jeremy Lassen, etc.

Saturday was lunch with Jay Lake, a friend I’d never met face to face, then my first group panel ever for WorldCon–Moral Ambiguity in Science Fiction–was also my first time moderating at WorldCon and was a fabulous experience. With names like Nancy Kress, Charles Stross and Jay Lake on the panel, I was prepared to just keep to myself and ask questions but all deferred to me to lead them and our interactions were a lot of fun. The standing-room-only audience seemed to enjoy it and we got many compliments after. Recorded it for a possible future podcast. Then I went to moderate Vivid Character Building which had Kay Kenyon, Carol Berg, Teresa Frohock, and Randy Henderson and I waxing about how we create characters. Fun but challenging to cover in such a format with broad strokes. Also recorded.

That pretty much wore me out for Saturday so I went back for a brief nap then hung in the bar with Jamie Todd Rubin, Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jay Werkheiser, Lisa Montoya, Patrick Swenson, Tod McCoy, Jennifer Brozek and some others, a great time. Somehow in the midst of it my Space Sports anthology idea became more than just an idea and I now have a fourth antho in the works. Then on to Pink and Blue Party to celebrate and the TOR party as well. Sunday, my free day, I slept in then hung with Jean Johnson and her mum, Madison Woods, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, Robert Silverberg, David Kyle, David Boop, Brenda Cooper, Nancy Kress, Cat Rambo, Patrick Swenson, Jennifer Brozek, Glen Cook and others. I also attended the only panel I got to in which I didn’t participate and which was a GOH panel and wound up hanging out after with Mike Resnick who had failed to recognize me like so many others due to my mustache despite speaking with me several times, one of which I’d given him gifts. It was a funny moment of recognition and we had some good laughs after. He introduced me to Jack McDevitt at long last and a few others as we walked the dealer’s room together and chatted.

Sunday night was the Hugos and it was an emotional night despite my seat in the back row boonies and a packed crowd. Having peers who are friends and coming up alongside nominated and win was touching and exciting. It added to the feeling I got from other encounters there that I had come of age and graduated from fan/wannabe into a pro member of the group. When writers whose names you know also know your name, even those you have not spoken with, its humbling and encouraging. All the more so when you become friends. Was happy with several friends’ wins including Ursula Vernon, John DeNardo, Ken Liu, Jim Hines, Charlie Jane Anders, and Cat Valente, amongst others. It was a typical award ceremony but fun to be in the room for the first time.

The after parties were a disappointment. They made it private for a while first and had rude security and for those of us with travel and early panels, it became a bust. I did finally run into a few winners and congratulate them, including E. Lily Yu, Betsy Wollheim, Liza Trombi and the Locus gals, John DeNardo and JP Frantz. Then hung with DeNardo, his wife, daughter and Patrick Hester for a bit after before bed.

Monday’s early Faith In SFF panel, which, ironically, I proposed, turned out a disappointment. Someone else moderated despite knowing I’d proposed the panel and allowed it to turn negative in ways that I don’t think were helpful. It also became more of a survey than fruitful discussion in many ways. Michael Flynn was a surprise addition and I felt he contributed some of the most helpful comments if there were any. Altogether, if I had it to do over, I would not have proposed doing that panel with others and just led it on my own with a few invited participants or at least would have skipped out on this version. Oh well. Between Sunday night’s party fiasco and that panel then low book sales and a rush to leave, Monday was mostly a bust but did get to sit down and chat a while with Jack McDevitt, who’s fantastic.

Also, Mitch Bentley’s cover from my Davi Rhii prequel ebook Rivalry On A Sky Course won Judge’s Choice Award in the ChiCon 7 Art Show so that was pretty thrilling for all involved.

That’s pretty much what went on from my perspective. Another post will go up tomorrow on some thoughts and feelings about the World Con experience.  You can find that post now here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2012/09/06/worldcon-recap-part-2-a-family-reunion-coming-of-age/


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012.  His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers, both forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

 

World Con Schedule – ChiCon 7

Well, my first WorldCon is looking good. I’d hoped to make Reno last year but then life fell apart and I had to sell my memberships to Patrick Hester and Jeremy Tolbert. I’m glad they could use them,  but this year, I’m going, and here’s my agenda. The boxed items are ones I will be a panelist for. The rest, events I am planning to attend, for those wanting to find me. I look forward to it very much. It’s an honor be included in Programming.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

3:00 -6:00 p.m. Arrival/Checkin

Thu Aug 30 7:00:pm Thu Aug 30 7:30:pm Reading: Bryan Thomas Schmidt reading from The Worker Prince and The Returning
Dusable
Bryan Thomas Schmidt

8-10:30 p.m. First Night at Adler Planetarium

 

Friday, August 31st, 2012

9-10:00 a.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe will be carrying my books throughout the Con & I’ll be at the SFWA table 10-12)

12:30 p.m. Howard Andrew Jones Reading (Dusable)

1 p.m. Lunch with Maurice Broaddus

2:00ish-3:00 p.m. Autograph Sessions (Crystal B/Autograph Table) featuring Mike Resnick, Brad Torgersen, Catherine Asaro, Connie Willis, David Brin, Eric Flint, Gardner Dozois, Harry Turtledove, Jack McDevitt, James Patrick Kelly, Kay Kenyon, Kij Johnson, Laura Resnick, Nancy Kress, Nick DiChario, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Silverberg, Sheila Williams, Steven H. Silver (I’ll be bringing books for several of these people to sign)

Fri Aug 31 3:00:pm Fri Aug 31 4:30:pm Autograph Session 5
Autograph Tables
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Geoff Ryman Hugh Howey Jacqueline Carey Jacqueline Lichtenberg Mike Flynn Nnedi Okorafor Seanan McGuire Vylar Kaftan

4:30-6:00 PM – I may attend Mike Resnick’s Interview. I’d like to but it depends how tired I am from everything else and if I need to just sit at the bar. I will be doing one or the other here and stop by Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) to sign if needed

5:30 p.m. – Saladin Ahmed Reading (Dusable)

6:00 p.m. – Dinner with Howard Andrew Jones and James Enge

7:00 p.m.-ish -NightShade Night Bazaar Party

9:00-10:30 p.m. – Guest of Honor speech: Mike Resnick (Columbus KL)

 

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

9 a.m. – SFWA Business Meeting/light breakfast (Comiskey)

10-11:00 a.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) or hanging to  network

11-1:00 p.m. Lunch With Jay Lake (i.e. Hanging Out)

Sat Sep 1 1:30:pm Sat Sep 1 3:00:pm Moral Ambiguity in SF (I am Moderator)
Buckingham Is there still room for moral structure in SF societies and worldbuilding? How does moral ambiguity represent or fail to capture the real world? What are its pitfalls
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Charles Stross Jay Lake Lissa Price Nancy Kress
Sat Sep 1 3:00:pm Sat Sep 1 4:30:pm Vivid Character Building (I am Moderator)
Columbus CD How do you create vivid characters who pop off the page? How do you avoid archetypes/stereotypes and predictability? Join a panel of writers discussing their techniques and tricks and ask questions of your own.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Carol Berg Kay Kenyon Randy Henderson Teresa Frohock

4:30-6:00 p.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe)

7-? p.m. Bar Con/Parties/Dinner

8 p.m. Cat Rambo/Stina Leicht Party

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Free Day

I will hang out in public areas a lot, may go to a panel but mostly just network

7:00 p.m. Find seat at Hugos

8:00 p.m. Hugo Awards Ceremony

After Parties

 

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Mon Sep 3 9:00:am Mon Sep 3 10:30:am Faith in Science Fiction & Fantasy
Field Faith can take many forms besides organized worship of a Higher Being, and yet, not a single Earth culture known to us exists absent a faith system in some form. What is the importance of faith in motivating human beings and in creating realistic worlds? What are the things people put their faith in? Magic? Science? Laws? Government? Wealth? Fame? Not a debate of the validity of ideas but a discussion of their value and use as motivators for all of us.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt Dennis Y. Ginoza Isabel Schechter Randy Smith

10:30-12:00 p.m. Dealer’s Room (Book Universe) and hanging out

12-1:00 p.m. Pack/Checkout

1:30 p.m. to Amtrak for home (3:00 train)


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011  Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. A freelance editor, he’s edited novels and nonfiction and also hosts Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter under the hashtag #sffwrtcht. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.