Friday, February 25, 2011

BOSKONE 48 or "How I Spent My Winter Vacation"

I arrived in Boston a couple days before the convention to spend time with my son, who's in grad school in Cambridge.  We had a lovely visit, even though my credit cards were smokin' and begging for mercy by the time I kissed him goodbye and headed to the Westin Waterfront.  I didn't have any program items Friday afternoon so it was an opportunity for me to see some old friends, many of whom were working the convention, and get unpacked and ready for the festivities.

The weather in Boston through Friday had been more than tolerable--highs in the 60s, and lots of slush and melting ice.  That all changed Friday night.  We were walking back from supper and about four blocks from the hotel a storm hit us sideways.  It was a combination of winds clocked at over 40 mph, driving sleet and hail.  One of our party had her glasses knocked off and blown away, another was a petite woman nearly blown off her feet!  We eventually made it safely back, and I got toweled off and dried out.

The main Friday night event was the con suite transformed into Fangtasia, the bar made famous in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood books and HBO series.  Charlaine was a special guest of honor at Boskone this year and this was a meet and greet event for her and her fans.  It was followed by the traditional Art Show reception with glorious snacks and pastries.  I made a relatively early evening of it, having learned to pace myself at cons once I reached a (ahem) certain age.

On Saturday I had the opportunity to interview Charlaine during the "Southern Vampire Mystery Woman" program.  She was quite forthcoming with tidbits and stories about growing up in the Deep South, her varied series of mysteries and fantasy, how her own life enters into her writing and her plans for the future.  A delightful interviewee and I enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday afternoon was my reading.  I picked a passage from (Working Title) The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby.  I've never read from a work where I'm only about 25K words into writing it, so it was a challenge but also an opportunity.  Reading aloud gives me new perspective on my characters and how I'm developing them.

The rest of the day was spent attending some selected panels, cruising the Dealers' Room, chatting with friends and relaxing.  We had another dinner excursion Saturday night and this time the weather was cold, but clear.  I was glad I'd picked up a new winter coat while out shopping with my son earlier in the week.  You just don't get the same selection or end of season sales in Florida.

Saturday night was time for bid parties from Texas and other future Worldcon contenders, as well as some time with friends having their own get-togethers.  As usual I had the opportunity to sample some fine single malts and I will write up notes on them later.

Sunday was a full day of programming for me.  My first panel was "The Spirit of the Place", which I moderated.  The other panelists were Charlaine Harris, Alexander Jablokov and Margaret Ronald.  Margaret sets her books in the Boston area and the Red Sox play a part.  Alexander also sets his stories in New England and Charlaine and I talked about how the South influences our writing.  We had some good audience questions as well and I believe the panel was a success.

My next program item was "Cads, Bounders, Seducers and Other Ladykillers" with Joshua B. Palmatier, Beth Bernobich, and Katherine Crighton.   I didn't realize Katherine wrote the well-received debut novel Salt and Silver under a pen-name, There are some characters in science fiction and fantasy who fit the panel descriptions, and Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond of Crawford also came up in the mix as well as some Georgette Heyer and Loretta Chase heroes that I mentioned.

Finally, I had "SF & HF: Why Science Fiction and Historical Fiction Are the Same (Nearly) with Debra Doyle, Michael F. Flynn, Jo Walton, and Walter H. Hunt.  Having that many strong personalities on the same panel can be tricky, but I think we managed it well without coming to blows or ignoring each other's POV.  And that mix of writers can make for the most successful program items.

As always, kudos to the Boskone programming staff for putting together another lively and thought-provoking series of discussions.  I'm looking forward to next year's Boskone, and I hope to see some of the fans and pros at Worldcon in Reno this year as well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

     “I’ve never been a husband, Mandy. Sharing someone’s life in this manner is all new for me.”
     “You already know the most important things about being a husband, Morgan. You are protective of me, you provide for my welfare, and you love me. Judith told me of an old proverb: ‘Love is good. Love and noodles is better.’ And that is what there is to being husband and wife.”

---Captain Sinister's Lady

Happy 35th Anniversary to my dear husband, who still provides me with love and noodles.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pompom paused at the sight of a blue-tailed skink sunning itself on a rock, his entire body stiffening. The two humans watched the dog, who was totally focused on the lizard.
“If he was only a little larger, Pompom could hunt for us, Dr. Murray.”
Alexander started to say something snide about the animal, then stopped himself.
“Would he bring us a deer, do you think?”

 Castaway Dreams  c. 2011 (WIP)

The bichon in my WIP (work in progress) may not have been able to bring down a deer, but I once had a hound who could.  I was pleased this morning to read the news about Westminster Dog Show and see that the Redbone Coonhound is now recognized in  the competition.  When I was growing up we lived for a time outside Naples, Florida near to the sawgrass and hunting country.  One morning we awoke to find a dog on our doorstep, hungry, footsore, gun-shy and pregnant.   We couldn't find an owner, and the dog adopted us.  She was a huge Redbone hound and she was a delightful companion with a deep chest and a baying voice that you could feel in your bones when she'd give it full throat.

My current hound is a more economy-sized dachshund.  I like the portability of the smaller breed, but she has the same attitude as the big dogs.  In her heart she's a Redbone, and if she ever see any teeny-tiny deer in the neighborhood she'll show us what she can do.  For now, she's content to hunt moles and mice, and does excellent work keeping the rodent population under control.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"If you give me your heart, I can give you mine, and I will be as true to you as the needle to the pole, darlin'."--Smuggler's Bride

Today is Valentine's Day.  It's a day to celebrate love and healthy relationships.  Be sure to hug your sweetie, and if you don't currently have a human sweetie, maybe you can do something special like donate or help out at your local pet shelter.  Love comes in all forms, and nothing says "I love you!" quite like wet doggy kisses or a cat purring in your lap.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

My Boskone 48 Schedule, Part Deux:
Here's the updated schedule with program item descriptions and moderators:

Saturday 12noon Southern Vampire Mystery Woman -- The Charlaine Harris Interview
Charlaine Harris
Darlene Marshall

She's the prize-winning, internationally best-selling author of almost thirty mystery novels. What's she doing at a science fiction convention? We suspect it starts with the day Charlaine Harris asked herself, "What kind of person would date a vampire?" and kept thinking until she had created Sookie Stackhouse. But we've got
plenty of other questions about the resulting Southern Vampire Mystery series (running on TV as the acclaimed /True Blood/ HBO series) -- as well as about her Harper Connelly "grave reader"
books, her 20-plus-years-in-the-making overnight success, and how she manages to write like the hilariously dark daughter of Anne Rice and Connie Willis.

Saturday 3:30pm Reading: Darlene Marshall (0.5 hrs)
Darlene Marshall

Sunday 10am The Spirit of the Place
Laird Barron
Charlaine Harris
Alexander Jablokov
Darlene Marshall (M)
Margaret Ronald
When scenery is so much a part of the fabric of the story that it almost becomes a character. Stories set in localized areas. What does it add to have such intimate settings?

Sunday 12noon Cads, Bounders, Seducers, and Other Ladykillers
Beth Bernobich (M)
Katherine Crighton
Darlene Marshall
Joshua B. Palmatier
 Good guys are boring! (But is there any other kind in SF? Richard Seaton would wipe out a solar system rather than deliberately hurt a lady's heart.) Cads start out looking like Mr. Right, but end up
doing you wrong. From Dominic Flandry to Jason Stackhouse or Ivan Vorpatril, these rakes are often written to charm the reader as well as the heroine. Are they just a holdover from cheap pulp fiction? Could they exist in any future society with gender equality? If they're still fun to read about, why?

Sunday 1pm SF & HF -- Why Science Fiction and Historical Fiction Are the Same (Nearly)
Debra Doyle
Michael F. Flynn
Walter H. Hunt
Darlene Marshall
Jo Walton (M)
As next year's Boskone GoH, John Scalzi has stated the proposition, "It's just a question of whether you're reimagining the past or extrapolating the future." Let's identify some examples of both
genres that illuminate the point. Do they use the same speculative fiction writing muscles? Which form takes more research? How many SF fans also dig HF? Why?

As always, it sounds like a lively and interesting program whether you're on the program or in the audience. I look forward to seeing many of you there!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Over the weekend I learned what my heroine's dark secret is.  Now that I know it (and it's not what the hero or I expected!) I'm back at work.  I must say, this new information has made writing today much more fun.  I wish she'd revealed this information to me sooner.

And if this all sounds a little like you should be calling the boys in white coats to take me away, don't worry.  It's a writer thing.  I see fake people, and they talk to me.  Sometimes it takes a while before they really open up.  But I'll have my revenge before I'm done, and then she'll learn what happens to characters who withhold information from me! Bwahahahahaha!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Boskone 48 Preliminary Schedule

Saturday12noon     Southern Vampire Mystery Woman -- The Charlaine
 Harris Interview
         Charlaine Harris    
         Darlene Marshall    

  Sunday  10am       The Spirit of the Place
         Laird Barron    
         Charlaine Harris    
         Alexander Jablokov    
         Darlene Marshall    
         Margaret Ronald    
     Consider when scenery is so much a part of the fabric of the story
     that it almost becomes a character.  Discuss stories set in
     localized areas, where the character of the area plays a role. What
     does it add to have such intimate settings?  Examples?

  Sunday  12noon     Cads, Bounders, Seducers, and Other Ladykillers
         Beth Bernobich    
         Katherine Crighton    
         Darlene Marshall    
         Joshua B. Palmatier    
         Jane Yolen    

  Sunday  1pm        SF & HF -- Why Science Fiction and Historical
 Fiction Are the Same
         Debra Doyle    
         Michael F. Flynn    
         Esther Friesner    
         Walter H. Hunt    
         Darlene Marshall    
         Jo Walton    

Memberships and hotel rooms for  Boskone are still available.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dear Blizzard Sufferers,

I'm sitting on my back porch finishing my mint tea, watching a sulfur butterfly hover over the impatiens.  The diva dachshund is stalking a lizard on the patio.  It's 77F and sunny.  I thought you'd want to know.

Much love,