Tag Archives: Martin Koszta Affair

ConFluence AAR

Greetings all

This weekend I left Pennsic and went about 45 minutes south to ConFluence. It was a very busy weekend for me.

It started with panel about genre blending. Obviously, this provided me an opportunity to talk about the fun of adding mystery to swords and sorcery, as I do in the Edward series.

Following that was a reading. Again, I did the portion from I Am a Wondrous Thing. It went well, better than the last time I did it. I know I got some sales from it.

Friday evening was generally laid back. Much of my time was spent in the TV Gods: Summer Programming release party chatting with Lee Hillman, an editor of the TV Gods series and a friend of mine. It was a very enjoyable time, especially since they got a pack of various IPAs to share.

Saturday morning started with my signing session at 10am. At that hour, I didn’t expect much, but this was the most successful signing session I’ve ever had.

After that, I had a bit of a break until my next session. I spend much of that time trying to write. Not my best writing session, mostly because my mind kept wandering, but it wasn’t completely unproductive.

Starting at 2pm, I had three sessions in four hours. The first was perhaps the most intimidating for me, a discussion of exoplanets and how we can use them in our fiction. It was intimidating because everyone else on the panel were astrophysicists or geologists, except for the guy who was both a scientist and an artist. Then there’s me. Still, I held my own, because to a certain extent, the philosophy of things is always relevant, and I am a philosopher.

One fascinating thing came out of the discussion that I must mention. I do not generally like elves and dwarves and such in my worlds. For someone who writes fantasy, I don’t like magic to be, well, magical. I want everything grounded in a scientific basis. This, by the way, is why I was chosen for the panel in the first place.

However, one person at the end, and I’m sorry I didn’t get her name, pointed out that throughout the panel we’d been focused on the macro side of things, not the micro end. As often happens for me, the right thing said at the right time helps my mind make a jump and I finally have a justification for elves.

What if elves are the result of a micro-organism that causes a mutation? That makes sense to me, and maybe I’ll add them to Shijuren after all. I’ve already got some plans from interesting mutations that already exist in the human genome, but it’s nice to have more options.

I moderated my next panel. This one discussed writing in someone else’s sandbox. Since I’d like to turn Shijuren into a sandbox, I wanted very much to participate in this so I was happy to moderate the panel. I think the most important thing we decided was that all participants need to respect the sandbox and its contributors. People who just jump in without that interest and respect show up all too obviously.

At 5pm I participated in a whimsical panel where we created Vogon poetry. This year’s theme was the limerick, so we created a number of those. Yes, we had one that started, “There once was a Vogon from Nantucket.”

The one limerick I can remember off the top of my head went:

There was a Vogon named orange
Who gurgled one morning in purple
He heard a mime rail
About the slime trail
Amidst callipygian silver

I will say, it didn’t make my intestine want to strangle me, so I think we’ll need to do better.

Saturday evening I watched Consortium of Genius’s show. They were a lot of fun and surprisingly metal. Most bands at SF/F cons are acoustic in nature, but these guys played their music loud and hard. I had a blast, though I think some of the other people were a bit bemused. I especially enjoyed Think Tank and Middle-earth Needs Me.

I had met the lead singer and the bassist earlier in the day because we are all Rush fans. In the category of small worlds, I found out they are friends with Beth Waggoner Patterson, who I’ve met at other cons who is also a Rush fan. Had I not known ahead of time that the bassist was a Rush fan, I would have guessed after hearing his complex bass lines. Good stuff.

Sunday morning involved two sessions. The first at 10am discussed the Ten-Volume Trilogy. We all shared our own experiences with our worlds taking a life of their own. Yeah, that means lot of stuff to come in Shijuren.

The last thing I did at the con was a Kaffeeklatsch where I discussed the Martin Koszta Affair again and how I can use it to inspire fiction. I was shocked to have so many attendees, actually, as the way they set these up they were designed to be intimate discussions involving less than ten people. I believe I got a full dozen, who seemed to really enjoy what I did. I’ll keep doing this panel as long as people keep enjoying it.

After that I got back on the road to return to Pennsic as quickly as I could. I enjoyed ConFluence quite a bit, but I was ready to get back to the Middle Ages.

ConQuest AAR

This past weekend was ConQuest 48 here in Kansas City. I had originally intended to attend with the plan of getting a dealer’s booth, but decided against it when I had the opportunity to be on 7 panels.

Two of the panels were a little whimsical. One was about beer. Not necessarily beer in science fiction and fantasy, just the kinds of beer we like. It was well-attended, which was nice from my perspective as the moderator. I went around the room and let everyone talk about their preferences, because otherwise it would have been a short, boring, rambling panel. By going around the room, we all participated and riffed off of each other.

The second whimsical one was bars in science fiction and fantasy, which didn’t go as well. I moderated this one as well, and I couldn’t really think of many good questions to move things along. Fortunately, the panelists, Selina Rosen and Tom Trumpinski, didn’t need much prompting.

I moderated another panel, this one on writing strong characters. This panel had four panelists, and ranged far afield. I didn’t do a good job here, because I think we could have focused on some specifics but instead talked more theory and philosophy. Obviously, those are important, but I don’t know that what we discussed was overly helpful to anyone there. The panelists did a good job and were always contributing, but I never emphasized a focus, and in retrospect, I think we could have given more had I done so.

I was a panelist on three panels. My favorite was Selina and I talking about writing combat scenes. One specific I need to print out and put in my office is: “Remember what your character is actually fighting.” Just because a particular opponent is facing them doesn’t mean that’s the character’s real battle. Luke isn’t fighting Vader, really. He’s fighting the Dark Side. This actually came from a discussion ahead of time in a conversation about both strong characters and combat scenes. It’ll help me going forward, I think.

I was also on a panel about using sources from across the world, not just the Arthurian / Celtic / Norse / Greek myths that form the basis of much fantasy. There are already a bunch of hints of that in Shijuren, and more to come. I include Russian, Balkan, and Middle Eastern myths already, along with a touch of Sub-Saharan African and Mongolian. There’ll be more coming from Amaranth, too, which will be heavily influenced by the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Vita from Indian traditions. There’s good stories in a lot of traditions, and I’m happy to use them.

My other panel was my using history in SF/F by going through the Martin Koszta Affair. I’m going to continue doing this, as the people there seem to be really interested in how I look through things. My big problem is that I get so excited I go too fast. I need to pace a little better. I had about 5 minutes of flex that I should have used simply by going slower.

Finally, I had a reading on Sunday. Not surprisingly, there weren’t many people there. The other reader, Jeri Frontera, had a great idea to Facebook Live her reading. I’m going to do some research to see if I can’t start doing that. I definitely need more media on my website.

Overall, a good weekend of schmoozing and meeting people, which is what a con is supposed to be.