Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oscar Wilde Steampunk Challenge

Last night -- after I had confessed that it had taken me something like four years to realize that the Borg character from ST:Voyager was supposed to be uber-sexy -- I was challenged by and  to write an Oscar Wilde Steampunk story.  There's monetary incentives and fuzzy dice involved.

Anyway, I had started a story on the train to OryCon that was supposed to be Steampunk, and so I've accepted...

Which leads me to to muse on, what makes a story a story that queers a genre?  Shanna's take (from what I can gather after one guest post) is that steampunk is inherently sexy.  But I'm not sure that just swapping out Eve for Steve in a Victorian Era story with Airships counts as queering steampunk.

And then there's the question of how historical to be.  This is the era of Oscar Wilde, Bram Stroker and Gilbert & Sullivan.  Having recently finished Dracula, I can tell you that Women's Equality had not quite made it into the Victorian sensibility (at least as it appeared on the written page).  And society's reaction to Wilde as an aesthetic defined what it meant to be a Manly Man in the late 1800's and early 1900.

And does having a gay male character as the protagonist of a story even make it queer any more?  I mean, sure, in the late 1990's... but that was fifteen years ago.

I'm still thinking about this, but I have a feeling that no matter what, there's going to be an airship called The Peacock.   

Monday, November 14, 2011

OryCon 2011 Redux


Taking the train is fun, especially if you travel with another writer. But expect that the train will be a little late.

2:00PM-3:00PM -- Hawthorne Political Systems in SF

Political Scientist and Anthropologists and Cultural Historians throw your stories across the room when you over-simplify The Evil Overlord's Government for the same reasons that Physicists do when you Do the Kessle Run in 2.5 Parsecs.

3:00PM-4:00PM -- Story Outline in an Hour

Give the character something they love, threaten it, and then imagine worse things. Mileua, Idea, Character, Event will filter how you show the story.

4:00PM-5:00PM -- Gender and Writing

Write complex characters. As a writer and as a reader, you have basic assumptions about men and women. You can use your writing to explore gender (and the other) but make sure to write a good story (that challenges peoples' assumptions) without being preachy.

5:00PM-6:00PM -- Designing believable archaeology and anthropology

Do your research. When doing your research on another culture's religion, make a note of if the material is written by a believer or a non-believer.

6:00PM-7:00PM -- FOOD!

7:00PM-7:30PM -- Endeavour Awards


9:00 AM - Wordos Breakfast

More Food.

10:00AM-11:00AM -- Spicing up Your Hero

Heros are people who pick up the mess that other people would rather not so that nobody actually steps into the mess. Heros are not always Knights of Light, so much as they are folks working against the Dark; anti-evil doesn't always equal good. Your hero doesn't have to be the point of view character. Give your hero weaknesses; give your hero a dirty secret. Be aware of the biases that filter a hero's perceptions (we all have them). Be aware of how being a hero will affect how they interact with culture (i.e. Awful Good).

11:00AM-12:00PM -- Using Social Media to get Published

Social media is like a Con on the internet that never shuts down. Decide how much you want to share with people and then use that to make a connection with your readers. Don't bitch about people. Make sure that you use cross-posting so you so you limit the time you spend on social media.

12:00PM-1:00PM -- My Villain is Too Mwa Ha Ha. Help!

The villain is always the hero in his or her own mind. Make sure that the reader can see the motivation behind the villain's action so the villain's actions don't appear to be violent or evil just for violence's or evil's sake.

Oh, also: Dracula is Evil because he is a perversion of the Christian rite of Communion and a being operating outside of the circle of God's grace.

1:00PM-2:00PM -- Alien Etiquette

An alien culture can be broken down into Morals (what's right and wrong), Manners (how an individual acts and reacts in situation), Money (how they trade), Monogamy (is it a good idea or not), and The Marx Brothers (what is funny).

Make the alien POV an emotional reaction to something.

2:00PM-3:00PM -- Hawthorne But I thought it was perfect!

Play nice. Being part of a critique group is to practice critiquing manuscripts (easy) so that you can see how to critique your own (harder). A good critique group will have procedural rules to protect people emotionally; the foremost being, critique the text, not the person.

3:00PM-4:00PM -- Writers of the Future

Writers of the Future is a great beginner's market from which to launch your career. It's the most money you'll be paid for a story for quite a while. Regularly submitting to Writers of the Future is a good way to start good writing habits. It's cool, it's validating, it's network building. And... remember, have a What Next Goal ready for after you win.

4:00PM-5:00PM -- The Physics of Magic

Figure out how magic is used in your world, is it via words, or objects, or ritual or Divine Intervention, or...?

A good magic system will have limits -- the cost of using magic is prohibitive, magic spells are too specific to be of general use, and magic should be bound by a set of consistent (possibly logical) rules. If magic is unlimited, the story turns into wish fulfillment.

The use and limitations of magic should aid the story's flow.

Editors want New And Different Magic Systems, but not too new and different.


12:00PM-1:00PM -- The Unique Challenges of Urban Fantasy

Urban Fantasy, which has some cross-over with paranormal romance, can trace its roots to detective and noir genres. It's an exploration of being outside and The Other. When writing Urban Fantasy, its helpful to think of the magic (and the magical culture) in the story as being a part of the story's main culture (which makes it alternate history), a sub-culture within the main culture, or an unknown element hidden from the main culture.

1:00PM-2:00PM -- Podcasting Primer

Decide how often you want to podcast (daily, weekly, monthly...) Decide if you want to podcast for fun (friends and family) or to build a fanbase (readings of your work) or as a soapbox/forum or ... a mix of all of these.

How often you podcast will affect your choice of podcast host - if your podcast becomes very popular, you may run into streaming issues (and be charged accordingly).

Skype is very difficult to get good sound quality from. Record in a closet or under covers to help dampen sound. Use a windsock or make one to cut down on pops in speech. You'll need to do post-recording production clean-up of hisses and pops if you want a good product.

Podcasting can eat up your life (just like other social media).

Post OryCon

When -- ahem -- new writers wish to push their mystical autobiographical science-fiction mystery thriller manuscript upon you hoping that you can back-door it to a Famous Editor (or wave a magical writing pen over the manuscript and turn it into solid writing gold) a good answer is, "Well, my editing rates are..."

Insert post-signing -- ahem -- discussion about the virtues of Scrivener here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

OryCon 33 Schedule

Here's an incomplete OryCon Schedule.  Of course, it appears that several of the panels I'd like to attend happen at the same time (mostly on Saturday).  And I need to figure out when I'm going to eat.  An additional complication is that I won't be staying at the OryCon hotel, but at another venue several blocks away....


Arrival at PDX train station: 11:35 AM  -- insert possibly late train and figuring how to take the Green MAX to The Portland Doubletree here (...find stop 7763 and take it to stop 8343, Lloyd Center/NE 11th stop).

  • Alaska Pros At Cons Jess Hartley, Cat Rambo, Dave Howell
  • Hawthorne Twisted history Paul Guinan, Mary Robinette Kowal, EE Knight, Irene Radford

  • Hawthorne Political Systems in SF Rory Miller, Elton Elliott, Jim Fiscus, Andrew Nisbet, Mike Shepherd Moscoe
  • Idaho Drowning in slush Grá Linnaea, Leslie What, Lizzy Shannon, Wendy Wagner

  • Hamilton Workshop: Story Outline in an hour David D. Levine, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Mult/Holl Cover Art in the Age of E-books EE Knight, Jim Pavelec, Carolyn Nicita

  • Broadway Running conventions Rick Lindsley, Suzanne Tompkins, [unlisted]
  • Hawthorne Theme Grá Linnaea, Karen Azinger, Bill Johnson, Richard A. Lovett
  • Lincoln Gender and Writing Cat Rambo, J. A. Pitts, Rhiannon Held

  • Idaho The fine art of description David W. Goldman, Bill Johnson, Devon Monk, Alma Alexander, Victoria Blake
  • Madison Protagonists vs. Antagonists Mark J. Ferrari, Adrian Phoenix, Sheila Finch, Louise Marley
  • Ross/Morr Designing believable archaeology and anthropology Rhiannon Held, Rhiannon Louve, Pat MacEwen, [unlisted]

  • Idaho Organizing a Successful Critique Group Bruce Taylor, Sonia Orin Lyris, Garth Upshaw, Ray Vukcevich

  • Mult/Holl Endeavour Awards Jim Fiscus, Sara A. Mueller, Devon Monk, Sheila Simonson

  • Ross/Morr NASA Fashion Show


9:00 AM - Wordos Breakfast


  • Hamilton Spicing up Your Hero Rory Miller, Dianna Rodgers, Chris Lester, Karen Azinger, Kami Miller
  • Hawthorne Steampunk: Victorian marvels of science fantastic Irene Radford, Janet Borkowski, Laurel Anne Hill, Guy Letourneau, Mary Lou Sullivan
  • Jefferson/Adams Playing God: Apocalyptic storytelling EE Knight, Victoria Blake, Daniel H. Wilson
  • Lincoln How to Find an Agent Jess Hartley, Camille Alexa
  • Roosevelt So you want to be a writer? Devon Monk, Ken Scholes, Jim Kling, Louise Marley
  • Ross/Morr Research for alternate history: Mining real history for good fiction. Alma Alexander, Steven Barnes, Jim Fiscus, Nisi Shawl, Bob Brown


  • Alaska Using Social Media to get Published Mary Rosenblum/Mary Freeman, M.K. Hobson, Chris Lester, Cat Rambo
  • Broadway Funny Horror Fiction Scott Allie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Victoria Blake


  • Hamilton My villain is too mwa ha ha. Help! Jess Hartley, Kami Miller, Chris Lester, Sara A. Mueller, Adrian Phoenix
  • Idaho Science Fiction as a Tool for Social Change Rhiannon Louve, Brenda Cooper, Grá Linnaea, Edward Morris, G. David Nordley
  • Madison The structure of writing S. A. Bolich, Devon Monk, Jason V Brock, Richard A. Lovett, Victoria Blake


  • Broadway Alien Etiquette Mary Robinette Kowal, David W. Goldman, Judith R. Conly, Ann Wilkes, Louise Owen
  • Idaho Writing Formidable Women Steve Perry, Scott Allie, M.K. Hobson, Adrian Phoenix, Karen Azinger, Victoria Blake
  • Mult/Holl EE Knight - Reimagining Vampires and Dragons EE Knight


  • Hawthorne But I thought it was perfect! Mary Rosenblum/Mary Freeman, Grá Linnaea, Bill Johnson, Joan Gaustad, Richard A. Lovett
  • Mult/Holl Intro to Steampunk Lorien Stormfeather, Diana Vick, Janet Borkowski, Mary Lou Sullivan


  • Roosevelt Writers of the Future Ken Scholes, Aimee C. Amodio, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Grá Linnaea


  • Lincoln The physics of magic Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Devon Monk, Karen Azinger, Scott Allie, Howard Davidson



  • Hawthorne Spaceships, Colonists, and Castaways David D. Levine, Camille Alexa, G. David Nordley, Krista Wohlfeil
  • Idaho The unique challenges of urban fantasy Devon Monk, J. A. Pitts, Adrian Phoenix, Mary Robinette Kowal, Rhiannon Held
  • Jefferson/Adams Creatures of Magic Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Judith R. Conly, Vonda N. McIntyre, EE Knight

  • Roosevelt Podcasting Primer M.K. Hobson, Laurel Anne Hill

.... Departure will be tricky.  I've got a train ticket for the 6 PM train, but domestic bliss would be better served if I changed it to a 3 PM train... so on one hand, there are a few last panels that I could squeeze in, but on the other hand I may be too fried by Sunday afternoon to take any of it in.   Oh well.