February Update: LTUE 2013

Life just keeps getting busier. January was a bang-up month for me, with two short fiction sales and several writing checks coming over the transom. As always — when the money spigot turns itself on — I am reminded of the fact that a good many academic creative writers insist (sometimes hotly) that there is no money to be made in fiction. You’re lucky if you get a spot in a journal or chapbook that pays contributors copies. Boy, am I glad I listened to my mentors, all full-time professionals! They insisted that if I worked hard and could learn as I went, some day I’d be making cash. Good cash. I am pleased to report that my mentors have been right. Never let anyone tell you there is no money in this biz.

So, in addition to my novella “The Chaplain’s Assistant” appearing in a future issue of Analog magazine, I can now report that my story “The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiea” is going to be appearing in an anthology titled BEYOND THE SUN, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt. My novelette “The Flamingo Girl” will also be published in the forthcoming electronic magazine GALAXY’S EDGE, from Arc Manor; edited by my friend and mentor Mike Resnick.

And if you’re local to the Mountain West you seriously need to consider coming out for Life, The Universe, and Everything, the premiere annual symposium dedicated to artists and writers working professionally (or seeking to work professionally) in the speculative and fantastic arts. I’m a Special Guest this year, along with friends Eric James Stone, James A. Owen, David Farland (Wolverton), L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Tracy Hickman, and Larry Correia.

The LTUE web site can be found at www.ltue.net.

My schedule is below (subject to change, which I will reflect here.)

Thursday, February 14
What Do You Write? @ 12:00 PM
How to Research Genre; and Sub-Genre.
Panelists: Dan Willis, Brad R. Torgersen, Eric Swedin, Scott R. Parkin (M), Dave Wolverton, Megan Whalen Turner.
Adapting Classic Stories to Modern Settings @ 2:00 PM
Panelists: Andrea Pearson, Brad R. Torgersen, Michelle Witte, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Mette Ivie Harrison.
Space Eldritch @ 6:00 PM
Contributing artists and writers discuss the anthology.
Panelists: David West, Michael R. Collings, Carter Reid, Howard Tayler (M), Brad R. Torgersen, David Butler, Robert J Defendi, Jr., Nathan Shumate.

Friday, February 15
Writers of the Future @ 3:00 PM
Contest Coordinating Judge David Farland (Wolverton) discusses this premier entry point into the world of science fiction and fantasy publication. Panel also includes notable recent winners.
Panelists: David Farland (Wolverton) (M), Eric James Stone, Robert J. Defendi, Brad R. Torgersen, Kathleen Dalton Woodbury.

Saturday, February 16
What You Need to Know to Write Science Fiction or Fantasy @ 10:00 AM
Panelists: Scott R. Parkin, Brad R. Torgersen, Eric James Stone, Deren Hansen, Jaleta Clegg (M), Dave Wolverton.

So if you’re going to be at LTUE and you know me from the intarwebz, don’t be shy about coming up and introducing yourself. I am always grateful to meet people face-to-face whom I have only known previously via social media.

The Utah professional writer/artist community is arguably one of the most robust in the country. You owe it to yourself to come to LTUE and rub elbows with bestsellers and up-and-comers alike. It’s just $25 for three days of jam-packed panels where you can get invaluable insight, ideas, information, and (perhaps most importantly) inspiration.

I went to my first LTUE in February of 2009, after many years of futility and no professional fiction sales. I won Writers of the Future in November 2009, and have been cranking along nicely ever since.



CONduit weekend, Nebulas, interviews, etc.

This weekend is the 22nd annual CONduit general science fiction and fantasy convention in Salt Lake City. CONduit will be conducted at the Salt Lake City Radisson hotel (downtown) and generally hosts a variety of fannish and skiffist activities for all comers, all ages. Currently I am scheduled for four panels:

– Writing Point of View (Friday, 1 PM)
– Short Fiction – A Doorway to Professional Publishing (Friday, 8 PM)
– Playing in Someone else’s Sandbox (Saturday, 3 PM)
– Getting Your Stuff Published (Sunday, 10 AM)

I will probably be handing out some copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future vol. 28 at the Friday 8 PM panel — an enticement for the dedicated (or the desperate!) to attend. Supplies limited. I will probably make it a first-in-seat, first-serve kind of thing. My apologies for not having an unlimited number of copies. These are a box of books left over from the Superstars Writing Seminar in Vegas this past April, so I think I have about 10 to 12 books to pass out. Again, first-in-seat, first-served.

In other news, my fellow Analog author Jamie Todd Rubin did a very fun interview with me over at the SF Signal web site. I’ve gotten requests for a number of interviews since making the Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell award ballots, and Jamie’s was an extensive — and enjoyable — exercise for me. I don’t often get to think about why things have been happening for me the way they’ve been happening, until someone asks the right questions. So thanks, Jamie.

Fellow Writers of the Future alumnus and author of the well-known Goblin series Jim Hines also did an interview with me, as part of his Campbell Nominees string of interviews with all of us who are on the Campbell award ballot for 2012. Like with Jamie’s interview, I sometimes don’t really think about certain aspects of my career progress until someone asks the right question. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate the signal boost, and I know the other Campbell nominees do too.

Rounding things out, my friend and Writers of the Future alumnus and Analog author Patty Jansen posted an interview with me just today. In it I discuss military science fiction and how my being in the military has changed the way I approach military-themed stories. I also do a bit of plugging for favorite authors and/or series of military science fiction. Hat tip: STEN series, by Pulitzer nominees Allan Cole & Chris Bunch.

Speaking of signal boost, I want to thank everyone who supported me, either verbally, or with a ballot, during the 2012 Nebula awards season. It was a huge amount of fun being on the ballot — for the category of Best Novelette — with so many other terrific and talented and hard-working writers. Congratulations to Geoff Ryman, who finally took home the prize — he’d been nominated four times previously, so big win for him! And congratulations again to Rachel Swirsky, Ferrett Steinmetz, Charlie Jane Anders, Katherine Sparrow, and Jake Kerr — my comrades in my category. The Nebula is a peer award — only members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America can vote on it — so it’s a wonderful thing to be recognized, either as a nominee or a winner. Did any of us mind losing? I don’t think so. As competitions go, it’s a gentlemanly competition. Or at least that was my experience. I suspect most of us — especially the fairly new people — were just flabbergasted to even be shortlisted. Ferrett did a great follow-up article about how he felt as a nominee and an attendee at the Nebula weekend. Check it out.

I’m still in the running for the Campbell and the Hugo, though. For you who may be attending Chicon 7 in Chicago later this year, or who have supporting memberships, the voter packets for the Hugo and the Campbell are now live and can be downloaded as part of your membership. Do take a look — if you haven’t read any of us who are on those ballots, now is your chance. Gratis!

I have other good news — which I can’t reveal here — but which I might talk a bit about with friends over the weekend. I ought to be able to reveal publicly within the next two or three weeks. Not hugely earth-shattering, but worthy of a nerdgasm on my part. Like I said on facebook, this kind of fringe benefit is something I can’t imagine having while writing in any other genre. Which is one of the many reasons why I *LOVE* being a science fiction and fantasy writer. It’s a hell of a fun genre!

Hugo, Campbell, and Nebula Awards Reminder

My chariot for the season is, of course, “Ray of Light,” the novelette which first appeared in the December 2011 issue of Analog as the cover story — see above. It’s already landed on the Nebula award final ballot, and stands a good chance of going the distance to the Hugo award final ballot too.

How do you vote for the Hugo?

Also, and perhaps more importantly, how do you vote for the Campbell award — given to this year’s most promising, new science fiction writer?


If… you are an attending or supporting member of Chicon 7 (the 2012 World Science Fiction Convention); or
If… you were an attending or supporting member of Renovation (the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention)
If… you are an attending or supporting member of LoneStarCon 3 (the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention)

…you can *NOMINATE* works and/or authors in all categories! The window for nomination closes at the end of this week, so if you meet or match the criteria above, please stop over at the Chicon 7 web site and cast your nomination vote.

On that note, I should mention that I had other works in print in 2011. “The Chaplain’s Assistant” was in the September 2011 issue of Analog magazine, and is eligible for the Hugo in the short story category. As is, “The Bullfrog Radio Astronomy Project,” which came out in the October 2011 issue of Analog. There is also my short story, “Exiles of Eden,” which appeared in Issue 22 of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Many thanks to anyone and/or everyone who gives any of these stories his or her nod of approval. I’m still trying to figure out how to attend Chicon 7 — financially — but it’s been my experience that things have a way of arranging themselves. Since my friend, mentor, and collaborator Mike Resnick is going to be the Guest of Honor at Chicon, I think I’d better jolly well find a way to go! Even if it means sewing myself up in someone else’s oversized baggage; just an oxygen bottle and some heavy sedatives. (grin)

I am on four panels for LTUE 2012

It’s that time of the year again. Time for the annual Life, The Universe, & Everything, conference — Utah’s premiere writer and artist-dedicated symposium for writers and artists working in the fields of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have a ton of friends who will be appearing on panels, and I’ll be on a few panels myself. Cost is minimal, considering the “bang for the buck” and I encourage everyone and anyone who can make it, to do so. That is, if you yourself are a spec-fic or fantastic artist and/or writer. At any level, or of any ambition.

SPECIAL ALERT: The symposium is being held at Utah Valley University this year, not Brigham Young University. Please check the LTUE.ORG web site for specifics about parking, registration, etc. I’ve never been to UVU so it’ll be new for me. I am curious to see how this venue performs, as opposed to BYU?

My panels? Out of the three day event, here are my scheduled items:

Thursday, Feb. 9 @ 8 PM: Writers of the Future
There is no better avenue for breaking into professional science fiction or fantasy writing or art than the L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest. I’m giving an hour-long presentation on the Contest — what it’s about, how you enter, how you win, what can happen after you win, et cetera — and I encourage any and all aspiring writers and/or artists interested in a professional career to attend. Would you like the chance to win thousands of dollars and publication in a prestigious yearly anthology? Yes, of course you would! Be there.

Friday, Feb. 10 @ 9 AM: Military on Military SF
Why, oh why, cruel fate, did you give me a 9 AM panel after giving me an 8 PM panel the prior evening? (hah!) So fitting, considering that this is a military panel with military people talking about military stuff for writers of spec fic and fantasy who want to do military themes. This panel almost always draws good crowds, and we never, ever have enough time to answer all of the questions. You don’t have to have been a veteran or a prior service member to “get it right” with your military SF, but it sure helps to do your research and talk to people who have been there.

Saturday, Feb. 11 @ 1 PM: What I Wish I Had Done, if I Could Do it All Over Again
I love this panel. This is the second or third time I’ve done this panel, at either LTUE or CONduit. Come listen to us tell you how we screwed up! Or, more probably, things we simply wished we’d done differently when we were getting started. In many ways, the best learning I’ve ever gotten in my (young) career, has come from listening to the war stories of the older veterans like Mike Resnick. If you’re wanting to be serious about your work, and avoid pitfalls, or maybe get motivated, this is a good panel for you.

Saturday, Feb. 12 @ 3 PM: Space Travel Without Warp Drive
I’m moderating this one, and it’s a bit unusual for me in that I don’t necessarily have the science chops to speak from laboratory experience. Still, I am a “hard” science fiction writer and I know a thing or two about slower-than-light space travel. In fact, some of my most favorite books and stories have been set in slower-than-light universes. Hyperdrive and Warp Drive make the galaxy immediately accessible, for movies and television. But in written form, it’s often the limits on what we can do that prove to be the most interesting, and provoke the most creative solutions.

So, there we are. I know I will be seeing many, many friends and acquaintances — some of whom I have not seen since this same time last year. Hoping to have a good time, but these things tend to be exhausting too. Especially since I have to turn back around and do Army duty on Sunday and Monday. If you spot me on a panel or run into me at some point, be sure to say hello. I only know some of you from Facebook or other social media. It’s nice to put faces with names, and vice versa.

Whirlkon Report Wrap-up

My roommate at WorldCon, Larry Correia, posted a fine wrap-up on his blog yesterday, which I am linking to here. I don’t have much to add because I was traveling all day Sunday — which was essentially a non-con day for me — and Saturday… I let myself sleep in on Saturday. As in, waaaaaay in. Like, noon. Having stayed up too late the previous three nights, and also having established that Saturday would be the night to get out to parties, I didn’t want to be wasted right when the action was happening.

And, also, Reno was my first bona fide vacation in several years. I don’t know how other Reserve and Guard troops do it, but most of my “vacation” time away from the civvy job is spent doing Army training of one sort or another. In fact, I can only recall one year in the last nine when I have had a ‘normal’ year: one weekend a month, plus two weeks. It’s almost always more. As in, waaaaay more. This year alone I spent over a month doing my ‘two weeks’ at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Last year? 9 weeks at Ft. Jackson followed by at least four other trips throughout the summer, each lasting from 3 to 5 days, and usually on top of weekend stuff. The year before that? More of the same. So when I find myself able to sleep in like I slept in on Saturday, with no civvy or Army job duties breathing down my neck, by golly, I take the sleep!

Thus I was well-rested and fully awake to watch all my friends lose. Larry Correia and Dan Wells both lost the Campbell, Howard Tayler and Brandon Sanderson both lost the Hugo, Eric James Stone lost the Hugo, etc. I’d hoped that with a higher-than-normal percentage of Utahns attending the con, that maybe we’d have a little leverage. Nope. And the beehive state got skunked as a result. Will Schlock Mercenary have a fighting chance next year, since Girl Genius has been removed from contention at its creator’s request? I certainly hope so! As for everyone else who lost, I am sure they’ll be back. You don’t concentrate that much talent and creative ability in those few hands without it continually manifesting in one form or another. Meanwhile, I am sure Larry, Brandon, and Dan put together make more money each year on their books than any dozen Hugo winners put together. Like Jerry Pournelle once quipped, bestsellers will carry you through hard times far better than trophies.

Little did I know until after the Hugos were over that Very Good Things were afoot for me. I can’t be public about what those Very Good Things are, but they wound up making the entire con worth it for me. As both a vacation, and a business opportunity. It’s up to me to make the most of windows and doors that have been opened on my behalf. Though I can say with confidence that none of those windows or doors would have been opened if I hadn’t already written and published some good stories first. Big-time thanks to my friends Larry Correia and Eric James Stone, and especially to my editor at Analog, Stan Schmidt. Who also did not win a hugo, even though he’s arguably been the most-deserving short form editor of the last dozen years. Maybe we can get Stan his Hugo in Chicago? I’ll certainly be voting for him!

Needless to say, Larry and I both got to bed very, very late (or was it very early?) and then wound up crawling from the blankets at 8:30 AM to go have breakfast with Dan Wells and the crew headed back to Utah in Dan’s van. Larry dropped me at the airport, and I took the long way home, with a connecting flight through Phoenix. Which was fine. I caught up on sleep, and had a wonderful warm giddy feeling running through me, in anticipation of what was possibly to come in the next 12 to 24 months, assuming I bust my butt, do the work right, and turn in some excellent manuscripts.

Next year is Chicon 7, which I am 98.7% likely to attend. Both because of the potential for my name to be on the Campbell short list, and because Mike Resnick is the Guest-Of-Honor. You don’t say thanks to your Writer Dad by being a no-show at his GOH WorldCon in his own back yard — Mike lives in Cincinnati. So, barring a disaster, I will be on-deck for next year’s WorldCon. I deliberately played spectator this time, because I was new to the experience. Next year? I’ll be more actively structuring my time, to include putting my name in for panels and other events. After my cover story comes out this December, with the beautiful Bob Eggleton painting that was displayed in Reno, I think any lingering questions about my street cred can be laid to rest.

Big-time thanks (again) to my many friends who were there to make merry with me. Most of whom I’ve named in the previous Whirlkon Reports.

Lucky 13

I still need to do a wrap-up on WorldCon. Suffice to say it went far, far, far better than I could have planned, for professional reasons I can’t be explicit about at this moment. Hopefully, in the fullness of time…. (grin)

But I can talk about the Campbell Award, which is given out each year at WorldCon — alongside the venerable Hugo award — for the best ‘new’ professional writer in the skiffy business. My roommate Larry Correia was up for it, as was our mutual friend Dan Wells. Looking at the numbers it seems Dan and Larry did in fact split the vote, as many of us who were rooting them had feared.

The surprise (for me) was that I’d even placed in the initial nomination ranking. 13 people voted to say that they thought I was the best new professional writer in fantasy and science fiction in 2010. That’s quite remarkable, given the fact I had only two professional publication credits for last year, and was absolutely unknown outside of my small circle of friends. Thank you, my Lucky 13, for casting in my favor. I hugely appreciate it. And though I didn’t make the final ballot, I’m encouraged that people want to see me stick around. Muchas gracias!

ETA: according to the rules, I am still eligible for 2011, as a 2nd-year pro. It will be interesting to see if I’ve got any more traction as a sophomore?

Rolling Whirlkon Report – Reno, NV – 20 AUG 2011

20 AUG 2011 – RENO, NV – 0230 HRS
The last 48 hours have been a big, fat blur. I’d wanted to do more updates more often, but the wireless at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center was so thoroughly crushed by the mass of people, I couldn’t get on. Plus, by the time I’ve gotten to my room each night, I’m so tired it’s almost not worth it to sit down and type anything up. But, since Day 3 is in the can, and there’s more to go tomorrow, I wanted to catch my breath and at least do an update.

Thursday…. was a true whirlwind evening. I went with Larry Correia and a bunch of other people to get dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant down the street from the convention center. I had a nice, inexpensive burger — flame-broiled, just what I was craving after a day with so little protein. Then we went back to the convention, where we attended some of the “room parties” that were going on at the Atlantis hotel.

Now, room parties are rightfully ballyhooed as the highlight of any science fiction convention. They’re where you can meet the editors and the authors, swirling through a sea of fans, all without the scheduling constraints of the panel-laden day routine — and there is a mountain of food available. Thursday specifically I bounced around from the TOR Books suite (huge publisher) the Nightshade books suite (smaller publisher) and the SFWA suite — open to all members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (me) and SFWA’s member guests. Both TOR and Nightshade were packed to the gills, and I was only able to see and greet people I already knew, either from in-person (Utah people, and a few others) or from on-line, such as Codex.

I did meet Lou Anders, who is my collaborator and teacher Mike Resnick’s editor at Pyr books. Pyr is a smaller book publisher, but they’re growing, and they have the best covers and cover artists in the business! No joke. If you’ve not yet checked out Pyr before, you owe it to yourself to go and see those trade paperbacks for their covers alone. Just look at these stunning covers for one of Mike Resnick’s and one of Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s books:

Gorgeous stuff. And those aren’t even the best examples!

I’d interacted with Lou a little bit on-line, so I specifically went out of my way to find him, insert myself at an opportune moment to shake hands, mention Mike as the ‘connection,’ then play fan-boy by raving about Lou’s cover art — which is always superb. Speaking as someone getting a Bob Eggleton cover for an Analog story, it’s such an astounding thrill to get amazing artwork for one of your books or stories. Truly.

Sometime after talking to Lou I was set upon by a small pack of young writers from Utah who claimed to be following my blog — aigh, someone reads this thing?? — and who said they’d seen me at Life, The Universe, & Everything, in Provo earlier in the year.

I was rather embarrassed, frankly, because I am terrible with names and did not immediately recognize anyone — Charlie Holmberg and Co., I am sorry, you must forgive me, this is a terrible shortcoming on my part, which my wife is too well familiar with. It’s a lazy thing and I do need to find some tricks to work around it, especially now that I will be meeting more and more younger writers eager to jump into the mix. I owe you all that much.

Anyway, when the pandemonium of the TOR suite got to be too much — it was gross, so many bodies, so little ventilation — I took them up to the SFWA suite. The crowd was more manageable up there, and there were more and better places to sit and have a real conversation. I encouraged Charlie and Co. to do Writers of the Future (of course) and explained a bit more in-depth how I felt Writers of the Future, and some of the judges for Writers of the future, had proven invaluable in my young career as a science fiction writer. I really can’t say enough good about the Contest, or the people who participate in it as judges and mentors for the new crop(s) coming up.

It goes without saying that throughout the day I mingled with, sat and listened to panels with, had meals with, or otherwise chattered with many, many friends from prior conventions, including Analog author Alastair Mayer, Daily Science Fiction author Annie Bellet, writer and wife of Schlock Mercenary creator Howard Tayler, the lovely Sandra Tayler, and fantasy author Paul Genesse and his lovely wife Tammy.

Perhaps in another year or two, when I am making a little more money and my daughter is a bit older, we can all come to these things. Tammy and Paul and Sandra, Annie and Olivia totally say hello! Totally!

Friday…. The morning “Walk with the Stars!” went well. I was finally able to meet my roommate Larry’s editor at Baen Books, editor and owner Toni Weisskopf. She’s a relentless enthusiast about military personnel — small wonder, given Baen’s huge number of military readers, as well as authors — so myself and Ethan Skarstedt (Army National Guard, and collaborator with Brandon Sanderson) were able to talk a little bit about the highs (and lows) of our different experiences. Toni generously offered to send some Baen books to our units, which I will be doing (definitely!) because I’ve had to help two platoons get ramped up to go out the door this summer, and I’d love to send those troops some reading material while they’re over in the sand box.

Needless to say, Toni was every bit the down-to-earth Peach I’d heard she is, and it was nice to finally make her acquaintance.

She and award-winner Nancy Kress were on a panel together discussing Hard Science Fiction, about which they had some pretty different opinions. I enjoyed that one enormously, because I’m an Analog author and that’s a big part of what we do in that magazine: write fiction that adheres as closely as possible to known science, with a tweak or two just to look at a thing from a different perspective, or to propose (or solve) a special problem.

I also enjoyed the SIGMA panel with Larry Niven, David Brin, bestseller John Hemry (Jack Campbell) and Analog author Chuck Gannon. Brin was positively evangelizing about technology, and how best to save civilization — SIGMA being a group that “think tanks” solutions to current national and world issues, but from the science fiction writer perspective. I can see why Brin gets speaking appearances. He knows how to excite a crowd, hold a crowd, and talk people around to his point of view.

During the second hour I stood up and asked them all what they thought a new Analog author could do to try and get more teens and tweens reading science-based fiction (as opposed to fantasy, which currently dominates) and David Brin shoutted, “What is your name??” I said my name, and David said to the (very large) crowd, “In a few years this man will bury us, he is the future of science fiction!!” He was messing with me of course — but in a very nice way — and proceeded to spend quite a bit of time answering my question, because he seemed to feel was an important one. Because all of the older writers worry that the kids don’t read sci-fi anymore. The crowd for this panel was very into it too, so the two hours went by quickly.

I hope to meet David at one of the parties before I leave, so I can shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoyed that panel. It was a good one.

Analog/Asimov’s room party was rather crushing: lots and lots and lots of people packed into a too-small space. I was set upon for the second night in a row by aspiring writers, so I sat down and gave them the same spiel I gave the first group the night before: Writers of the Future is the way to go, great money, you get noticed, you’re only competing with peers, not old pros, and I told them the story about how my non-winner story got me in with Stan Schmidt at Analog, et cetera.

The SFWA suite — which Analog and Asimov’s take over one night per WorldCon — was littered with copies of the magazines, with the Analog copies specifically being September 2011 which has my biolog and my second sale to Stan in it, so it felt very much like “my” party in that sense. It was rather neat meeting people like award-winner Connie Willis and being able to lean over to the bar, pluck a copy of the magazine, and flip right to my biolog. “Look, Nancy, this is me!” Too much fun.

I signed a few copies for some aspiring writers — all Utah people — and spent the night mingling and mixing with all the Analog and Asimov’s writers I’d only ever known on-line, or by reputation. Jerry Oltion officially pinned myself, Alastair Mayer, and Juliette Wade into the Analog MAFIA, which used to stand for Men Appearing Frequently In Analog, but we need to figure out a new acronym because we’ve got women in the magazine too. I have the pin on as I write this — I’m in the ‘family’ at last!

I also got to talk to Stan Schmidt for a minute about the cover art that Bob Eggleton has on display at the art show. I of course gushed and gushed and gushed (again) that it’s a gorgeous painting, it’s a thrill and an honor to have the cover and an Egglton piece, etc. Stan was smiling ear to ear and declared, “This is why I love bringing on new writers!” So I think we were both mutually enthused, though perhaps for different reasons. Either way, I feel like I owe Stan big time for making my first WorldCon an extra-special WorldCon. Much, much fun.

I wanted to stay around SFWA suite to the wee hours, but the suite was abominably crowded, stiflingly warm, and I was getting too tired to keep up with the mad noise.

Oh, it should be noted that the halls were decorated with rubenesque women overflowing their PVC corsets, brocaid corsets, spandex corsets, and so forth. Tons of ample cleavage on display. It was kind of hard to keep my eyes to myself. Just had to say it, OK? I honestly did my best. But wow. This convention definitely lives up to WorldCon’s general reputation as the place where people come to let it all hang out. Mike Resnick says it was far, far more bawdy in the old days. Nothing over-the-line like that here in Reno, but it was definitely “naughty dress up costume night” for a lot of the fans, who loved to parade through the crowds.

I haven’t looked at the schedule for tomorrow. I am too tired.

Otherwise, shitty casino food tastes like shitty casino food. Dinner last night at the Claim Jumper was far, far better. But at least the company was good.

Oh, and because they had 900 copies of my Analog laying around in the SFWA suite, I filched a few. Stan, I hope you don’t mind.


Rolling Whirlkon Report – 17 AUG 2011

17 AUG 2011 – RENO, NV – 1500 HRS
I’d been trying to decide what to call this series of posts, and toyed with a few cute options, before settling on Rolling Whirlkon Report. Since this is my first time at the World Science Fiction Convention, I’m trying to keep my eyes and ears open and absorb as much of it as I can. It is the granddaddy of science fiction conventions, after all. WorldCon! Fabled! Storied! According to Larry Niven, nothing else like it on Earth!

For me, the convention actually got started on the plane itself, as I walked on to see Bud Sparhawk seated near the front of the cabin. I’d met Bud previously, having been introduced to him at the Nebula awards in Washington D.C. Bud had the window seat, and John G. Hemry (“Jack Campbell”) had the aisle seat, so I asked Bud if a young Analog author could join them in the middle — thus it was 85 minutes of 3 Analog authors (two veterans and one new guy) jabbering happily about writing, Analog, the field as a whole, Analog, anecdotes about this, that, and the other, and… Analog.

Not a bad way to start the ‘whirlkon’ if I do say so myself. Big thanks to both Bud and John for making me feel welcome and at home, before we’d even gotten on the ground.

I caught a taxi at the curb, and am now at the Courtyard Marriott, getting my bearings and trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to make it over to the convention and back each day. For some reason I thought I’d be closer? I am hoping that my roommate — and New York Times bestselling author — Larry Correia, has a plan. If not… well, a rental might be in order. Cheaper than paying a taxi twice per day.

I’m out to eat, and check the con schedule. It’s 73 frickin’ pages. Not exactly the manageable plate of activities I can find at my home-base conventions, like CONduit. Looks both exciting and overwhelming.

17 AUG 2011 – RENO, NV – 2330 HRS
Had a busy afternoon and evening. The Marriott is 1.5 miles from the convention center, so I got a total of 3 miles walking in today. Not bad. Saw several professional friends, such as my buddy (and Nebula award winner) Eric James Stone, Annie Bellet from Oregon, as well as Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Saw some other judges from Writers of the Future, including Greg Benford and Tim Powers. Spoke to them all, chit-chatted where I was able.

Then was set upon by two aspiring writers from the January Superstars Writing Seminar: Stone Sanchez and Colton Goodrich. (Don’t be surprised if you see these two showing up on the winners list at Writers of the Future before too long.) I took them up to the Science Fiction Writers of America suite and introduced them to Bud Sparhawk. The suite was fairly empty — dinner time — so we went back to the lobby.

Where I was reminded why I don’t like the insides of casinos. Too much noise, too many flashing lights and hooting bells, and too much smoke stench.

Stone, Colton and myself also stopped by and said hello to award-winning artist Bob Eggleton and his lovely wife Marianne Plumridge. They are very good people, and he is displaying my painting he did for the December Analog cover. GORGEOUS! I spoutted off for several minutes, at least. Bob’s got it displayed with a big note for all to read saying, “Brad Torgersen’s story “Ray of Light” is awesome and I loved doing this painting for this awesome new Analog writer.”

Some times, I can’t believe how amazing this writing thing has gotten in the last two years. Truly amazing.

In addition to being Baen Books’ latest smash-hit bestselling lead author, Larry Correia’s a real peach of a dude too. He’s decided he doesn’t want to walk so far in the heat every day — it is August in Nevada! — so he got a rental, and four of us from the Marriott are chipping in for the cost so we have a taxi to and from the convention every day. Otherwise, the hotel is VERY nice and I am pleased about the free wireless. So I should have no trouble keeping this report updated.

Well, it’s an early start tomorrow, and a fulllllllll schedule. To bed with me.

ZZZ zzzz ZZZZ zzzz…..

Eric James Stone wins the Nebula!

What a weekend in D.C! Already regarded as probably Utah’s best writer of short science fiction and fantasy, my roommate Eric James Stone took home the Nebula award for Best Novelette of 2010, for his story, “The Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made,” which originally appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Big-time kudos to EJS! Earlier that day, Eric sat next to me at the Dell Magazines breakfast when I officially got my AnLab award, also for Best Novelette of 2010. I rubbed my AnLab on Eric’s shoulder, for good luck later in the evening. I guess it paid off? The Utah boys brought home the bacon!

I had a great deal of fun watching the astonishment on Eric’s face when his name was read off the winning card during the awards banquet — he’d hoped, but clearly not expected, the award. I’d known that for months. But I’d also thought to myself, “You know what, Eric works hard and is a great writer, and it’s a great story, so why not??” Apparently I was not alone in this thinking. Eric looked ecstatically sharp while accepting the trophy and delivering his speech, then proceeded to float around the hotel for the rest of the night on a fluffy little cloud of distilled awesome — and deservedly so.

Me? I got to meet the marvelous Stan Schmidt, my editor at Analog, as well as Sheila Williams, his counterpart at Asimov’s. Both of them were peachy sweet, and it was a gas getting to finally meet the faces behind the names. Stan was every bit the gentleman I’d expected. I had a good time talking to him at length about not just stories and submissions, but life and the universe in general. Stan was witty, full of smiles, and an enthusiastic and gracious host. It’s an honor to be in his magazine.

I also met Analog author Dave Bartell, who introduced me to Bug Sparhawk — whom I’d first known from a story he did many years ago, in Warren Lapine’s Absolute Magnitude — as well as, Rick Lovett, and Mark Niemann-Ross. Award-winning artist Bob Eggleton was there too, along with his better half. Bob surprised and delighted me with a black and white prelimary look at the cover painting he’s doing for my Analog story, “Ray of Light.” It knocked my socks off, and I can’t wait to see my story and Bob’s excellent cover art together in the same issue.

Later on, when the awards hub-bub was dying down, I met Fantasy and Science Fiction editor Gordon Van Gelder, courtesy of the delightful Joshua Bilmes — who is the founder of the renowned JABberwocky literary agency. Stan had introduced me to Joshua shortly after Eric got his Nebula. Joshua seemed to consider the AnLab an impressive accomplishment — I would eventually learn that Joshua has been an Analog reader for many, many years — so it was an unexpected pleasure having Joshua chat me up, then introduce me to Gordon, Liz Gorinsky from TOR books, among others. Talk about meeting people in the biz! It was a banner weekend in that regard.

LTUE reminder, this coming weekend!

Brigham Young University’s Life, The Universe & Everything symposium is happening this coming weekend. Below is an adjusted schedule of panels on which I’ll be appearing. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. will unfortunately not be attending due to a health crisis in his immediate family — hopefully everything turns out well for Lee, who is an excellent panelist with decades of writing and publishing experience. He will be missed.

But as you can see, even for the four panels I am doing, we’ve got tons of experience — some of it bestselling. If you’ve never attended before, and are in the area this weekend, please drop in! Fans welcome, artists welcome, writers welcome! Students — of any description, from any school — get in free. Otherwise, price for the weekend is a modest $25.

More details can be obtained at the official web site: www.LTUE.org

– Slush Piles and what not to do when submitting your writing.
(Ami Chopine, Lisa Mangum, Brad R. Torgersen, James Dashner)

– Characters’ morals/theology vs. authors’ morals/theology.
(Aleta Clegg, Tracy Hickman, Brad R. Torgersen, James Dashner)

– What I wish I had done, if I could do it all over again – A Guide to New Writers.
(Lisa Mangum, Brad R. Torgersen, Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury, Dave Wolverton)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – 12:00 PM (noon)
– Military on Military SF.
(Frank Hennis, Steve Harmon, Roger White, Brad R. Torgersen)

I’ll also be selling and signing copies of Writers of The Future vol. 26 for anyone who is interested in grabbing a copy. The signing is in room 1188 at 3 PM on Saturday, though if you can catch me any time during the three days and let me know you want a copy, I am sure I’ll be able to get it to you. I got a box of fresh books in from Galaxy Press this week — sold out at the Superstars Writing Seminar — so get them while the getting is good.

See you there!