Category Archives: conventions

Capclave 2019, Day 1

Yesterday, I attended the first day of Capclave, the Washington, D.C. area local science fiction convention. This has been my local convention ever since I started to sell stories. I haven’t been writing much the last few years and so I haven’t been attending conventions, but I decided to attend this convention for two reasons: First, Robert J. Sawyer and Martha Wells are the guests of honor, and second, I’ve started to write again, and it would be great to catch up with old friends.

Rob Sawyer was the GoH at the first science fiction convention I ever attended, RavenCon in 2007. I had just sold my first story, and Rob was incredibly nice to me. I think the last time I saw him was at the Chicago Worldcon, and it was great to get to see him again yesterday.

Chatting with Bill Lawhorn, one of the Capclave con-runners, we tried to figure out when I first attended Capclave. I thought it was in 2010, the year that Connie Willis was guest of honor. Bill read through the list of earlier Capclave’s and I was fairly certain I hadn’t attended those.

I was wrong.

Searching the blog this morning, I found that I attended Capclave 2007 when Jeffrey Ford and Ellen Datlow were guests of honor. I was not a panelist then–indeed, the first time I was ever on a panel was at Readercon in 2008, I think. But I sat in awe on many of the panels as people whose names I’d been seeing on books and in the magazines talked.

At that 2007 Capclave I attended a workshop led by Edmund Schubert, Jagi Lamplighter, Jeri Smith-Ready, and Allen Wold. In the years since, I’ve sold more stories to Ed Schubert than any other editor; I attended the Lauchpad Astronomy workshop for writers in Laramie, Wyoming with Jeri Smith-Ready (her husband, Christian Ready helped run it), and yesterday, I moderated a panel that included Allen Wold among the panelist.

I had a late lunch with my pal, Bud Sparhawk, who has to be one of the most prolific “retired” people I know. It had been a few years since I’d seen Bud and it was great to catch up with him.

I had my first panel at 8 pm, “Before the Beginning,” a panel on what happens before a writer starts to write a story. It turned out I was moderating this panel, which included Sunny Moraine, Ian Randal Strock, Ted Weber, and Allen Wold. It was a light audience of maybe a dozen people, but I think we had a pretty good discussion. It was the first panel I’ve moderated in several years and I was a little nervous about it, so I made sure to prepare ahead of time. For those curious, here are my notes (the stuff handwritten, are things I scribbled down during the panel):

I’ve got two panels lined up today, neither of which I have to moderate, fortunately. Looking forward to another fun day.

My Capclave Schedule, 2019 Edition

It has been a few years since I’ve attended science fiction conventions, mainly because I haven’t been writing much. But, I will be at my local convention, Capclave, this coming weekend, October 18-20, in Rockville, Maryland.

Robert J. Sawyer and Martha Wells are guests of honor at this convention. I am looking forward to being there. Here is my preliminary panel schedule for the weekend:

Friday

  • 8 pm: Before the Beginning (w/Sunny Moraine, Ian Randal Strock, Ted Weber, and Allen L. Wold. When developing a story, what comes first, the setting, plot, characters, or something else? Is it writer or story dependent? How does this choice affect the story? What planning does the author do and how does this change while writing the story? I am moderating this panel.

Saturday

  • 2 pm: Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make (w/Larry Hodges, Dina Leacock, Ian Randal Strock (M), Sherri Cook Woosley). What was the biggest mistake you made as a new writer? Do you still make that mistake? What incorrect assumptions do new writers make? What advice would you give new writers about managing their career?
  • 4 pm: Writing Under Duress (w/Kelly E Dwyer, LH Moore, Lawrence M. Schoen). Tips, cheats, and strategies to keep writing even after life punches you in the throat. General self-care for writers.

Sunday

  • 10 am: Plotters and Pantsers: A Debate (w/Day Al-Mohamen (M), Beth Brenner, Michelle D. Sonnier, Sherri Cook Woosley). The audience will vote at the start and end. The two sides will go back and forth defending their style. The winner is the side that changes the most votes.

No Capclave for Me This Year

I always look forward to this weekend in October because it means that Capclave is here. Capclave is my local science fiction convention, and it is the convention that I’ve been to most often since I started going to conventions back in 2007. I have only missed Capclave a few times. Unfortunately, this year is one of those times. We are having a big family reunion up in New York, and so I won’t make it to Capclave. On the other hand, I will see my brother, sister-in-law, and their 5 kids some of whom I have never met before. It has been an unlikely 5 years since I last saw my brother, so I am looking forward to seeing him at the reunion.

If you are local to the metro Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia area (or surrounding regions), and are interested in attending a good convention, centered around written science fiction and fantasy, you should check out Capclave. It is a lot of fun, and populated by lots and lots of good people. I’m sorry to miss it this year.

DC17: Washington D.C.’s Bid for the World Science Fiction Convention

I live in the metro Washington, D.C. area, and I would love to see the World Science Fiction Convention come to our area in 2017. DC17 has a bid for the convention, and the August 10 deadline to receive mail-in votes is fast approaching.

Personally, I can think of 3 reasons why I’d like to see the World Science Fiction convention come to D.C. in 2017, and I’ll list them in order of increasing importance to me.

1. It’s local! It would be great to have a Worldcon in my home town. While I love traveling to other cities for Worldcon (San Antonio was blast, and I’m really looking forward to Kansas City next year), I’d be lying if I said it would be nice to attend a Worldcon at home. Of course, this is a great benefit for locals, but it still means that everyone else coming to the convention has to travel.

2. It’s Washington, D.C. But you get to travel to Washington, D.C. I’ve lived in the area for over a decade, and I still think its history is well worth visiting. Playing in the Senate softball league on the National Mall, I would occasionally look up to see the Washington Monument, or the Capital Building in the background and think: I’m playing ball in a place where Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt once walked. We’ve got the Air & Space Museum, the Library of Congress. We’ve also got the Washington Nationals. And in the surrounding area, you can find Mount Vernon to the south, and Gettysburg to the north.

3. It’s being run by the folks who run Capclave. The most important reason I want to see the World Science Fiction convention here in the Washington, D.C. area is because it is being run by many of the same folks who run Capclave, my regional science fiction convention. I have been going to Capclave ever since I began selling stories. It’s become my favorite science fiction convention, and I look forward to it each October. I’ve written about my time at Capclave at lot: here, herehere, and here, to list a few time. A big reason I enjoy is because of the hard work of the people who put it together. They get great guests, great panelists, they draw crowds of diverse, engaged, interesting, and fun people, and we spend 3 days talking about science fiction, what it means to us, and how it impacts us.

If you are so inclined, grab a ballot for site selection and cast your vote by mail before the August 10 deadline.

I’ll be at RavenCon April 24-26

As I am about to head off on the road for the better part of the week, I think now is a good time to remind folks that I will be attending RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia next weekend, April 24-26.

At present, this is the only science fiction convention I’ll be attending in 2015.

My friend Allen Steele will be there, as will Jack McDevitt. RavenCon is the first convention I ever attended after selling my first story back in 2007 so it holds a special place in my heart.

On Sunday, April 26, Bud Sparhawk and I will be giving a talk on “Plotters vs. Pantsers,” Bud being the “plotter” and yours truly being the “pantser.” We’ve done a version of this with respect to online writing tools at Capclave, but this talk is focused on the two methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages. It should be a fun talk if you can make it.

I’ll be arriving in Richmond around lunchtime on Friday, and staying through the convention, so if you think you’ll be there, and you see, say hello.

 

Science Fiction Conventions in 2015

I am planning a relatively quiet year where science fiction conventions are concerned. Originally, I was really looking forward to going to the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, and the Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago, and the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs. But the travel gene has withered in me somewhat this year. I also have a goal this year to finish the second draft of my novel, and that means my focus needs to be more on writing than conventions. So right now, I don’t plan on attending any of the conventions I just listed.

But I won’t be absent from conventions entirely. I plan on attending two local convention this year.

  • RavenCon. I will be at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia in April. My friend, Allen Steele, is the guest of honor at RavenCon. Jack McDevitt will also be there, and I am looking forward to seeing both of them. As it is only a 2 hour drive from my house, it doesn’t involve a lot of travel or time away from the family.
  • Capclave. I have attended Capclave more times than any other convention, and it makes sense since it is my local convention. Right now, I plan to be there, at least for one day.

That will likely be my science fiction convention schedule for the year. It keeps me close to home and family, but it allows me to focus on getting my novel draft finished up. Of course, I’ll miss hanging out with friends at Worldcon, and some of the larger conventions. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.

An Open Letter to My 20-Year-Old Self Regarding the 2014 World Fantasy Convention

Dear Jamie,

Well, this is a little awkward, but I can assure you that is just as awkward for me as it is for you. Us. You We know what we mean. I spent the past weekend attending the 40th annual World Fantasy Convention, which took place in Arlington, Virginia, practically down the street from where I work. Laws of causality prevent me from going into too much detail about the event, but there are a few things worth noting, and I wanted to make sure you knew about them.

First, the event was a lot of fun. I know it might seem odd to you, to hear that in 22 years, you’ll be attending the World Fantasy Convention, what with your great desire to write science fiction, but there is a good reason for attending. Many of your friends are attending, too.

I can’t go into a lot of detail, and so name-dropping is, for the most part out of the question. In some instances, you wouldn’t recognize the names yet. In others, well, the surprise will be more pleasant without the spoilers. But there are a few names I wanted to mention, which I think, given your age and yearning to become a writer, I thought you would find them motivating.

You probably remember recently reading Jumper by Steven Gould. Well, I got to spend some time this weekend hanging out with Steve,  and chatting with him, and telling him how much I remember enjoying that novel.

You may have noticed a slick new science fiction magazine on the newsstands, called Science Fiction Age. One of the best magazines ever produced. Keep your eye on it. The editor is Scott Edelman, and he’s a regular at the conventions that I attend. I sat with Scott at the award banquet dinner on Sunday. It’s always a joy talking with Scott about the history of the genre, or exotic food.

I had dinner with the editor of Analog one evening. It’s not the first meal we’ve had together, and it’s always fun hanging out with him, and chatting about writing, magazines, and other stuff. I had breakfast with the editor of the first magazine to which I ever sold a story. I won’t say which magazine that is. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I think saying that “I sold a story” is enough.

I spent a lot of time in the bar with people, talking shop, which is a big part of the World Fantasy Convention. A lot of business happens in the bar. I had dinner one evening with friends I made at the Launchpad Astronomy Workshop a few summers back. And I can’t even begin to count how many people I had drinks with while at the convention.

On Sunday morning, I gave reading. That’s right, I read stories in front of an audience. It was a small audience, only 6 people, but having even one person willing to listen to your stories is humbling. I read two very short stories, neither of which I have sold. When I finished my reading, one of the audience members–a science fiction magazine editor–rushed up to the podium and grabbed the manuscript of the second story. I found out this morning that he is buying the story. That’s a first for me: submitting a story via a reading.

The World Fantasy Convention served as an excellent reminder of one of the things I love about the science fiction/fantasy genre: the people. As you well know, I wanted to be a writer because I like to write, and to tell stories. It’s nice to be recognized for those stories. But the real reward are the friendships I’ve made since starting out.

So for the sake of those future friendships: keep writing.

Sincerely,

Jamie Todd Rubin
Falls Church, Virginia, 2014

 

My Schedule for the World Fantasy Convention

I will be attending my first World Fantasy Convention, beginning later this week. It takes place, conveniently enough for me, in Crystal City, and I can walk to the hotel from my office, so I don’t have to travel for a change.

The convention begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday.

I will be there every day, however, on Thursday and Friday, I won’t be arriving until after work, sometime in the early evening, probably around 5 or 5:30 pm. I will be at the convention all day on Saturday and Sunday, and will be attending the banquet as well.

The good folks running programming for WFC have given me a reading slot on Sunday, November 9 at 10am in the Arlington room. I haven’t yet decided what I will read, but given that it is the World Fantasy Convention, I’m leaning toward a traditional fantasy short story that I wrote a while back, but have not yet sold. The story is too long to read in the 30 minute slot, but I’ll read a few scenes so that folks can get the flavor of it.

If you are going to be at World Fantasy, let me know, and if you see me, be sure to stop me and say hello.

My Reading at Capclave in October

It’s almost October, and in addition to the baseball post-season, it means that Capclave is just around the corner. Capclave is my local science fiction convention, and the convention I attended most frequently since 2007. I usually have a heavy schedule of programming at Capclave, but this year they’ve given me a break. I have one panel and one reading.

The panel is a shorter, updated version of what Bud Sparhawk and I presented last year on Online Writing Tools. We are tentatively scheduled to present at 4 pm on Saturday, October 11.

They also gave me a reading this year. This will be my third public reading ever, and I plan to read something brand spanking new. For those who have been following along for a while, you know that I finished up the first draft of a new baseball alternate history novella, called “Strays” a month or so ago. The first part of that novella is now in second draft form and good enough for a reading, so I will be reading the first part of that novella during my slotted time, which is tentatively set for 6 pm on Saturday, October 11.

If you’ve never been to Capclave before, it is a great convention to attend. It’s focus is primarily on written science fiction, and short fiction at that. This years guests of honor include Paolo Bacigalupi, Holly Black, and Genevieve Valentine.

Hope to see you there!

Yesterday’s Inaugural LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con

As the fates would have it, my flight yesterday arrived at Los Angeles International Airport around the same time that my friend, and fellow science fiction writer, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, was arriving for his flight to London for the World Science Fiction Convention. I’m not going to make it out to London for Worldcon this year, alas, but there is an unspoken rule in the science fiction world that if two writers find themselves together in the same airport at the same time, a mini-con must be arranged at once. And so, one was thus arranged.

We met up in the Bradley Terminal and proceeded downstairs for food. Alvaro and I then proceeded to talk shop for the next 90 minutes, and it was a blast. Of course, no mini-con would be complete without memorabilia, so I pulled out my copy of the November 1942 issue of Astounding1, which I carry around with me for just such emergencies2, and Alvaro and I posed for a Golden Age selfie.

LA MiniCon
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Swart Fowler

Despite what you may have heard, Alvaro and I did not plan to dress similarly for our mini-con. That part, at least, was a coincidence.

We made a sacred pledge that should any disaster befall Alvaro, I will inherit his copy of Asimov’s Annotated Paradise Lost, the only Asimov annotation that I don’t own. Should any disaster befall me, Alvar will inherit my signed paperback of The Caves of Steel. Should anything untoward happen to either of us, immediately look with suspicion upon the other. After all, we are writers, and science fiction fans moreover, and books, especially rare book, are the currency in which we deal.

When it was over, I grabbed a cab for my hotel, and Alvaro and his crew boarded their flight to London. I’d say that the inaugural LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con was a complete success. We are already trying to figure out in which city the 2nd annual LAX Bradley Terminal Mini-Con will take place.

  1. Which Alvaro can attest, really is signed by A.E. van Vogt and Jack Williamson.
  2. The way one might carry around a towel for similar emergencies.

RavenCon 2014

I spent Saturday at RavenCon in Richmond, Virginia. I was not on programming, nor had I planned to go, but the timing worked out well, and RavenCon has a special place in my heart because back in 2007, it was the first science fiction convention I ever attended–and I had an amazing time there.

So I hit the road at 7 am on Saturday and arrived at the hotel in Richmond at 9 am. Almost as soon as I arrived, I ran into Jeff Patterson, of SF Signal Podcast and The (Four) Hoarsemen podcast. Not long after that, Edmund Schubert, editor of InterGalactic Medicine Show, joined us. We chatted for a while and then headed over to see Edmund on a panel about quitting (or not quitting) your day job. The panel also included Jim Stratton, Tim Burke, and Joelle Presby.

After that panel, I chatted with folks some more, talking with Edmund and Jeff, as well as Lawrence Schoen, and Gray Rinehart. Edmund, Gray and I then hiked across various parking lots and sidewalks to find our way to a Texas Roadhouse restaurant for lunch. This was the kind of lunch I used to imagine when I was just starting out, a bunch of writers talking shop, and it was a lot of fun.

After lunch, I wandered around the con area. I stopped by the DC17 table, which is raising support to hold the  World Science Fiction convention in 2017 in Washington, D.C. Bill Lawhorn was at the table and we got to chat for a while. (And yes, I did support the bid and got a very cool looking t-shirt.) RavenCon guest of honor Elizabeth Bear stopped by the table while we were talking so I had a chance to say hello to her as well. I wandered through the huckster room, and after that, headed out to the car to grab my laptop.

I returned, sat at the lobby bar and did some writing. Then there was more conversation with Jeff and Edmund, and I attended one more panel, the Small Press Panel. This one was interesting and lively and had some good questions from the audience as well.

I had planned to stay until 7 pm, but by 6, I was ready to head home. I said my goodbyes, got into the car and drove north. I made it back home at 8 pm, just before some strong storms hit. I was beat, but it was a fun day.

I’ll Be at RavenCon for One Day – Saturday, April 26

I hadn’t planned to attend any science fiction conventions until later this fall, but I’ve decided to head down to RavenCon in Richmond, VA, for one day, Saturday, April 26. RavenCon was the first science fiction convention I ever attended, and it made an amazing impression on me in a very short time.

If you’ll be at RavenCon on Saturday and want to catch up or say hello, let me know, or just ping me on Twitter sometime that day.

(Later in the fall, I’ll be at Capclave and World Fantasy.)