This is the panel I moderated on Friday of Comic Con 50 in San Diego with authors discussing how they write and envision the future in their works.
Panelists: Gini Koch – National bestselling Author, Alien series Timothy Zahn – Number 1 New York Times bestselling Author, Star Wars Thrawn, Quadrail series, Cobra series Steven L. Sears – Screenwriter/Author, Xena, The A-Team, Riptide Jonathan Maberry – New York Times bestselling Author, Joe Ledger series, Rot and Ruin series, VWars Javier Grillo-Marxuach – Screenwriter/Author/Comic Writer, Middleman, Lost,Blood & Treasure Seanan McGuire-New York Times bestselling author/Comic Writer, Newsflesh, October Daye, Spidergirl, The X-Men
It’s a big week for me. Amidst making final choices of stories for my first Kickstarter Anthology: Beyond The Sun, and awaiting my first book contract from a major, I am launching, with Every Day Publishing, a Kickstarter for Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. This anthology, headlined by Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Seanan McGuire, Allen Steele, Robin Wayne Bailey, Sarah A. Hoyt and Brenda Cooper, features contemporary space opera with a classic feel. 13 reprints, 10 new stories, great artwork from Paul Pedersen, an Artists Of The Future Winner, this will also be my first hardback release when it’s published in November–launched at OryCon–provided we fund.
As you can see from the artwork, and the very cool video, this story is about the dreams we all have of rayguns, heroes and heroines, space ships and more. And these stories will take you into that warm, fuzzy dreamscape again and again. All of the stories are fun and provide a nice variety. And I haven’t even seen what our awesome headliners have come up with yet. But with three Star Trek writers, a Star Wars writer, award winners, and fans of space opera, I sure can’t wait to read it. You can sponsor us and preorder everything from signed copies, ebooks, hardbacks, and tradepaperbacks, to t-shirts and a trip to OryCon for the launch. So be sure and check out the Kickstarter! Thanks for helping make dreams possible. All writers will be paid pro-rates. And I receive pro compensation as editor of my third anthology project, one of three for 2013.
Meanwhile check out the Kickstarter and the awesome video here, and thanks for your support!
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the editor of Blue Shift Magazine and 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 Exoduswill appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Land Of Legends from Delabarre Publishing. 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 Beyond The Sun for Fairwood Press (July 2013), headlined by Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress, and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age for Every Day Publishing (November 2013). He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
I know, I’ve made two Recap posts already on ChiCon, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few special moments I’ll always remember from the experience. Both touching and humorous, they combined to enrich the experience and the memories I carry forward from it. I think you’ll see why. I present them chronologically.
1) Surviving A New Cabbie’s First Fare. Somehow, upon arriving 90 minutes late on Amtrak, 90 minutes before my reading I might add, I wound up in the taxi of a man whose driving was an adventure. Not only did make some odd lane changes but then entered the Hyatt the wrong way and had to turn around, driving across the sidewalk and scattering the bellboys in the process. “It’s my first time,” he said, “I’m new.” I didn’t argue, just handed him the money and hurried to escape the cab.
2) Black Gate Crew Attends My First World Con Reading. I am not a big fan of doing readings. It’s just something I’ve always felt nervous and awkward about. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending how you look at it) my crowds have always been small. But this time not only did my crowd size increase but it was packed with fellow writers, many of whom were Black Gate staff. Seeing fellow successful authors like Howard Andrew Jones, James Enge and Chris Kastensmidt and a successful editor like John O’Neill not only make time to attend but express encouragement at my performance really started the Con on a great note and leant the feeling that I was on the right track as a writer. I’m grateful,
3) Recognized By Robert J. Sawyer at Thursday Dinner. My first dinner, my first night at the Con, and I run into Robert J. Sawyer at the restaurant. He recognizes me, double checks my name badge to be sure, and then introduces me to his wife and companions, inviting me to stop by the bar later and chat more. I had never met Rob and only interviewed him via Twitter, but we have interacted on Facebook a bit. Still, it was a good feeling to be recognized by someone of that caliber and it was an event that repeated itself throughout the Con as several others recognized me as well and said “I know your name, sure” as they shook my hand. For a small fish, it was a big splash.
4) David Brin Thanking SFWA Volunteers. On Friday morning, I spent two hours with SFWA Secretary Ann Leckie and Edge Editor Victoria Strauss volunteering at the SFWA table. While several people dropped by, David Brin made a point to shake our hands and kindly thank us for volunteering. It was a classy move and greatly appreciated since I have always found Brin’s snarky outspoken comments on Facebook a bit offputting and since he is “David Brin” (intimidating in itself). That graciousness won me over. What a class act.
5) Meeting and Being Teased by Robert Silverberg.In many ways, Silverberg is my Tolkien. I’ve told him so. He insists that I call him ‘Bob,” to which I replied: “I don’t know if I can.” But our first face-to-face was at his signing after I’d waited around 40 minutes in line. My quota of 3 books were the original Majipoor trilogy, and a couple were used hardbacks I’d tracked down, since I prefer getting hardbacks signed for longevity. Glancing inside one, Silverberg notes the ‘Property Of Margene’ stamp. “So, what happened to Margene? And how did you get her book?” he teases. I fumbled a bit then said I’d bought it at a library sale. He smiles, shooting me a cockeyed look. “Please give Margene my best if she survived the exchange.” I couldn’t help but laugh, he smiled, we chatted a bit more, and I left hoping he really was just teasing. I swear, I don’t know Margene.
6) A fan arrives at my signing with my book. Okay, yes, my books have been out a while. But this is really the first time someone already had one when they came to a signing to get it signed. Before they’ve bought them from me, then had me sign. So it was memorable and special to know my babies are making their way out in the world and that booksellers are being supported in the process. I only wound up signing 5 books that day, while watching Seanan McGuire’s never-ending line next to me and George R.R. Martin’s before her, but it was a nice feeling to be known before hand.
7) Moderating My First World Con Panel Ever. Not only was it my first World Con panel, but the room was packed t0 standing room only, with people waiting outside wanting to get in. On top of that, my fellow panelists included Nancy Kress, Jay Lake and Charles Stross. The lofty topic: Moral Ambiguity In Science Fiction. Having Nancy Kress, whose writing books have taught me so much, look at me for permission to talk almost made me laugh with embarrassment. Of course, that was just her showing respect to the moderator and it wound up being a delightful panel and one I’ve heard good things about from many since. In fact, we recorded it for an upcoming podcast, so you’ll get the chance to hear it soon enough.
8 ) Mitch Bentley’s Art Show Award. Despite my friend and frequent cover artist Mitch Bentley being the first to greet me upon my arrival at the hotel, I didn’t make it to the art show until Sunday, my first free day of the Con. Imagine my delight when I found Mitch’s booth and discovered a cover I had commissioned for my ebook release of the Davi Rhii prequel story “Rivalry On A Sky Course” had won him a Judge’s Choice Award. Mitch’s art has always moved me. I knew I wanted him to do my book cover from the minute I first saw it at ConQuest 41 in Kansas City, May 2010. Since then we’ve collaborated on two novels and this ebook with more in the works. More over, the covers are inspired by the stories and scenes within them, so I am thrilled to see Mitch recognized for his work, especially stuff my own work inspired.
9) Resnick’s Recognition. I had seen Resnick in passing several times and even-handed him some Brazilian coffee grounds I’d brought for him, but apparently he was so exhausted he didn’t recognize me (many had this issue due to my new Sellect ‘stache I learned) until I handed him a signed copy of the novel he blurbed. Then he did an “of course, I hadn’t realized that was you” thing and we spent a delightful 45 minutes hanging out. Resnick has been a good friend and mentor to me and I had not expected to get much time with him at a Con where he was GOH, let alone “alone” time, so it was a delight. But the priceless look on his face when my identity connected was a highlight for sure.
10) Listening In As Silverberg and Dave Kyle Reminisce. Spotting Silverberg in the Dealer’s Room Sunday, I brought over a few more books I had not gotten him to sign and overheard a comparing notes of two long time SFF community members discussing Cons, books, life, genre and much more. It was the kind of moment that one loves being a fly on the wall. Then Silverberg saw the Ace Double I was carrying and commented: “Look Dave, this book is almost as old as you are.” Kyle quipped: “It’s in far better condition.” We all laughed and then Silverberg signed it. Their discussion though could have been a panel in and of itself.
11) An Accidental Anthology Pitch. One friend I managed to run into a lot was Jamie Todd Rubin, who gathered a bunch of us Sunday afternoon in the bar to hang out. Patrick Swenson was there, along with Kay Kenyon, Louise Marley, Jennifer Brozek, Jay Werkheiser, and later Tod McCoy. It was a fun group and we found all kinds of stuff to talk about. But somewhere along the way we happened to discuss sports, and I–off the cuff–mentioned I hoped to do a Space Sports themed anthology one day. Next thing I knew I had three very excited writers pitching their stories. Two of them would be reprints. And they were talking it up. I hadn’t intended to make it a project immediately, as I already have three in the development hopper, but Champions: Spec Sports is now in the works and I found myself gathering ideas and writers the rest of the evening. A memorable way to start an anthology project for sure.
12) Watching Friends Accept Hugos. John DeNardo won for SFSignal to which I contribute, and Kij Johnson and Ursula Vernon won for Novella and Graphic Novel. Cat Valente and Seanan McGuire were amongst Podcast winners for SF Squeecast. Of the five, I know John the best but it was still a delight to see people I have chatted with multiple times and respect get such recognition. The fact that I helped contribute with my votes was a bonus.
As I stated in my Recaps, it felt a lot like I’d come of age and transitioned from fan/wannabe on the sidelines to full fledged community member and that an encouraging feeling only aided by moments like these ten. If you went to World Con, what were your most memorable moments? I’d love to hear about them.
For what it’s worth…
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.
Well, it’s Monday and I’m supposed to post, right?I know. It’s my usual day. Some of you come here looking for an interesting post to start your week, so here I am. I’ve been lying on bed post whirlwind Con Launch trip, trying to motivate myself to write and feeling overwhelmed. But I’ll do my best.
The Con itself brought many opportunities.
It began when I registered and dropped books with Larry Smith and Sally Kobee, the friendly dealers who graciously agreed to carry my books despite my ignorance of proper percentages and pretty much everything else. They had a huge table and I was honored to have them allow me any space. Thank goodness I finally had a few sales to give them something for their kindness! (Yes the photo is badly out of focus but stupid me forgot to take another in my rushing insanity of talking with readers so it’s the best I have. Apologies.) Sally and Larry frequent 36 cons a year and I remembered them from World Fantasy 2010 in Columbus.
1) My first panel as an Author. That was titled “The Death Of The American Author” and was supposed to cover the changing face of publishing, which we did. But we couldn’t decide if the title really was relevant to our beliefs about where publishing is going. My fellow panelists were new writer Gary W. Olson, whose debut novel is coming in December from Damnation, the same people who publish Realms Of Fantasy in its latest incarnation; Jim C. Hines, DAW author of seven fantasy novels about goblins, princesses and more; and L. Warren Douglas, author of 8 novels in the 90s and 2000s from Del Rey and other sources. To add to the pressure, Hines decided my first panel was the perfect spot to make me moderator. I, not wanting to fail to prove my mettle, took his challenge and rose to the occasion fairly successfully from what I could tell (and was later told). I don’t know that we solved any problems but the discussions was interesting.
After that, Hines, Olsen and I stayed put for the panel “Self Promotion and Marketing” with Hines moderating. This was an interesting discussion on self-promotion through social media, blogging, and other means as well as networking strategies and why it’s important at all to do it, but also to be true to yourself and your comfort zone. After all, bad publicity can be harmful and counter its opposite so working outside your comfort zone is not something to undertake without care.
Next, my first exposure to filk came with Seanan McGuire’s concert. The filk band Wild Mercy backed her. And unfortunately, late due to the panel, I then saw only about 20 minutes before my publisher texted to say he’d arrived with a shipment of my book, which I had not seen an actual final copy of yet. So naturally (and understandably to Seanan who later forgave me instantly upon hearing the reason), I rushed out the door to get my hands on those!
It was fun to meet Tim Ambrose, who’d accepted and suggested I make a series of my “North Star” space opera stories at Digital Dragon Magazine and
Next, on the free table, I discovered some real finds in great condition and snatched those up. These included Asimov and Leiber mint condition paperbacks from 1957 and A March 1967 and June 1968 issues of Analog featuring stories from the likes of Ben Bova, Harry Harrison and Poul Anderson and edited by John W. Campbell. Yes, that’s right, I said FREE!
Saturday began with “Keeping In Character,” a panel on techniques for characterization where Seanan nominated me to moderate, and so I again did. This panel had Emmy Jackson, a new fantasy novelist, Christian Klaver, and J. Warren Douglas on it in addition to Guest of Honor Seanan McGuire and myself, and devolved quickly with Mr. Douglas’ poorly chosen examples of points he tried to make which made the GOH wish to strangle him along with many attendees. To make matters worse, he proceeded then to continue trying to explain himself because “if we’d just understand him all would be fine.” Moderating such a situation is challenging to say the least but it did make for the most talked about panel at the Con, which I moderated, so I get that feather in my cap, I suppose.
Next, I had lunch with my publisher, Tim Ambrose and we discussed sequels, future projects, contracts and the con at a local middle eastern restaurant where our waitress vocalized her disappointment at my choice of Fish N Chip rather than middle eastern cuisine which 1) was what I was in the mood for and 2) would have meant choosing something I was unsure about and chancing dissatisfaction when Tim was paying and I was in dire need of my first meal of the day. So no thanks.
After that, I hung out in the dealer room a bit before joining Jim Hines, Emmy Jackson and Joe Ponepinto for a panel on “Writing Groups” wherein we gave insider tips on how to find a group, when you need a group, how groups operate, problems with groups, etc. Attending were such fun people as Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell from Elder Signs Press and Con security friend Laura (she and her husband Bill were a lot of laughs, especially the time I tested Bill’s security training by pick pocketing him).
Then it was rush back to my room and prepare time as I had a reading. I read through the passage again twice, ate a quick bite, and rushed back to the Con to await my most feared moment which then proceeded to go very well and wound up with everyone present except my unsupportive publisher (wink wink) buying a copy. I mean, gees, Tim, support your writers already… This led to my first autograph request, as opposed to earlier when I’d run through the Dealer Room signing every book in sight with the author’s name as a “courtesy” to future buyers. Despite Dealer’s complaints, I really do think those autographs were later a hit.
After that I hung out until Saladin (sal-uh-deen) Ahmed did a great reading from Chapter 3 of his forthcoming “Throne Of The Crescent Moon,” which he’d also read from at World Fantasy. And then hung with Saladin, Jim Hines, Christian Klaver, Tim Ambrose, and Seanan by the bar for a while. Here’s a picture of us pretending we actually like each other at Jim’s suggestion.
On Sunday, I pretty much hung out in the dealer room, after a nice breakfast with Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell, and spending time with Serena, my Brazilian website programmer, who came by just to see me and make sure I got to the airport. I think the city decided they’d had enough of my antics and wanted to be sure I left. Not sure. I do know that as soon as I got through security, they called my row and I had to bored so I was left little time for further mischief locally. And that was Conclave and the book launch of THE WORKER PRINCE, my novel debut.