Balticon 2007

I attended my first ever Balticon science fiction convention today. It was the last day of the convention and I got to the hotel just before the convention opened, having driven straight there from Dulles airport (my flight from Las Vegas got in at about 7:30 AM). It was a lot of fun but I was exhausted and not my usual effervescent self. Here is what I attended:

Reading by William Shunn
I finally got to meet shunn in person, after having first read a story by him in January 1994 when I was a senior in college at UCR. I walked into the reading room and he was sitting at the head table, working on some last minute edits to one of the stories that he was going to read. He kindly signed my January 1994 issue of SCIENCE FICTION AGE, which contains his story, “Two Paths in the Forest Toulemonde”.

He then set out to read two stories, both of which had never before appeared anywhere. I think it is so cool when authors do this. It’s like getting a “beta” copy of the story and you kind of feel like you are inside some exclusive club. The first story, called “Timesink” was actually a moving story and one which with I can greatly sympathize, since I am planned on getting rid of my TV’s a little later this spring. The story will be appearing in a future issue of :ELECTRIC VELOCIPEDE:.

The second story was a hilarious story called something like “Care and Feeding of your Piano”. It was written as a uniquely self-updated set of instructions, and anyone who has ever been frustrated by complicated sets of instructions will love it. It was really rather ingenious.

Tony Ruggiero’s Quick-Write

The premise here is that the group is split into three teams, two comprised of the panel and one from the audience. I volunteered for the audience team. Each team decides what order they will write in. Then the first writers are sent to the table. A “person” is then given and the first part of the story has to make use of that person. The “person” we were given was “a convention fairy” and each of the writers had 2 minutes to write the first part of a story making use of a convention fairy somewhere in the plot. Then the second writers get up. They have 30 seconds to read what the first writer wrote, and are then given a place. The place they were given was a baseball game where the home team was losing. They then had 2 minutes to write their section of the story. The idea was to mix in as many “points” from the first part into the second, and thus make the story make sense. Finally, it was my turn. I was the group of third and final writers. When I got up there, we were given a “thing”; specifically, the fairy had to have a hangover. We then got 2 minutes and I wrote feverishly, trying to tie all of the various plot threads together. In the end, I guess we did an okay job because our team tied with Edmund Schubert‘s team for first place.

We did one more round, and again, I was in the last writing group. The second round is more complicated because not only do you need to refer to the new “points” you are given, but you still want to refer back to the points from the previous round. The second time around, the first writer got “the ghost of the most beautiful stripper ever”; the second writer then had to add in something about “the Vatican”, and finally, the third writer (me!) had to tie in an incense-allergy. It was a lot of fun, and the stories that came out were hilarious. But man, was I nervous! I’ve never had to sit up in front of a group of people and just write!

Come Ask the Author About Writing

I attended this session with Larry Hodges, from my writing group, and went mainly because Edmund Schubert was on the panel. It was as interesting to hear the questions that the audience asked as it was to hear the answers that the writers gave. It was another fun panel and one in which I managed to learn a thing or two.

10 Best Things To Do When Writing A Short Story

This was my last session of the day and the only one that was somewhat hard to follow. The speaker was the former editor of Weird Tales and he was rather disjointed. Couple that with the fact that by this time, I was so tired, I was beginning to hallucinate and you can imagine that I really didn’t get a whole lot out of it. What I do recall was that there was more of a focus on what you shouldn’t do when writing a short story than what you should do. And there was a rather lengthy discussion on why self-publishing was So Bad!

While I was at the convention, I purchased by first ever convention t-shirt.

Afterward, Larry and I went over to the Outback to meet Alana, also from our reading group, for dinner. Turns out the Outback didn’t open until 4 PM, so we headed over to California Pizza Kitchen and had dinner there. It was the first time I’d met Alana in person and in a way, it was kind of like a mini-group meeting, with about half of the group there. Our next real meeting, one I will be attending, and one at which a story of mine will be critiqued, is on June 10.

I drove home exhausted and in a blur and it is only through luck that I didn’t run my car off the road. But I did make it home safely and tumbled right into bed.