Wild Cards Panel

Quick note that I’ll be on a Wild Cards panel for ReConvene’s virtual convention on August 15th. My panel will be at 4 p.m. EDT, with the fabulous Peadar Ó Guilín, Max Gladstone, David Anthony Durham, and Melinda M. Snodgrass. They are all brilliant, and this is going to be an awesome panel. 

“Give us your kings, queens, jacks, and jokers, too! The ever-expanding Wild Cards world is seeing its 27th book published by the visionary editorial team of George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. With the creative power of new stories, new characters, and new authors, it’s safe to say that Wild Cards will continue to thrive. Come meet the people who make the series tick in this special town hall discussion on the state of the Wild Cards nation.”

reCONvene 2020

Saturday, August 15, 2020 11:00 am – 5:00 pm (Eastern Time) Your one-day virtual convention for science fiction & fantasy fans! When you can’t come to fandom, fandom comes to you. Let’s reCONvene online in 2020! reCONvene is an online convention, organized for science fiction and fantasy fans by fans.

Give Us Your Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Jokers

Quick note that I’ll be on a Wild Cards panel for ReConvene’s virtual convention on August 15th. My panel will be at 4 p.m. EDT, with the fabulous Peadar Ó Guilín, Max Gladstone, David Anthony Durham, and Melinda M. Snodgrass. They are all brilliant, and this is going to be an awesome panel. 🙂

“Give us your kings, queens, jacks, and jokers, too! The ever-expanding Wild Cards world is seeing its 27th book published by the visionary editorial team of George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. With the creative power of new stories, new characters, and new authors, it’s safe to say that Wild Cards will continue to thrive. Come meet the people who make the series tick in this special town hall discussion on the state of the Wild Cards nation.”


I Could Use Some Help

Folks, I could use help.

I’m getting ready to do some serious work with the SLF in the coming weeks — we’re going to need some new volunteer grants administrators, but I also want to really focus on building out the Portolan Project creative writing & lit. teaching resources, which has a new urgency now that so many teachers will be working remote this fall. If we can create some solid modules, it will be a huge help to teachers and independent learners, I think.

If you’re interested in working on either of those projects, please let me know, especially if you have professional teaching, library, or writing experience. We’ll likely do a few Zoom meetings, and will primarily be collaborating on Slack (free to install and easy to learn how to use). This is a volunteer gig at the moment, though eventually, I’d like to build out the SLF to be paying honoraria at least to all staff. It should be a good credit for an academic C.V., though.

We have a monthly general meeting this coming Sunday, 2 – 3:30 CST, if you’re free to attend. Not required, but would likely be helpful if you’re planning to join us. I’m not sure what the overall time needs of this project would be, but probably 5-10 hours / week this summer, notably less in the fall.

An Interview with Scott Woods

*“But it’s really hard to learn and grow because the opportunities as a Black artist here are not significant. Part of that is there were never many Black venues. And largely white venues only booked certain types of things. You can be Black and play rock and still not get the rock club guild. And then you can’t go to the Black club if you don’t play the right music. Now it doesn’t matter because all the clubs are gone. You know? Or they all are jukeboxes. Getting to play live here is not what it used to be. Campus used to have venues all up and down the street, bars where you could play live. You could do a whole week of shows on campus, do it again and do it again. And all of those places are gone. And so Columbus just developed its culture, you know, the artistic culture out of itself. And it’s only largely interested in it now because it needs to sell.”*

Watch or [read the SLF’s interview](http://speculativeliterature.org/…/Scott_Woods_Transcript_C…) with Scott Woods, who has been working in Columbus, Ohio, for 20 plus years, developing its arts scene and culture.

On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch…

At our site (with transcript): http://speculativeliterature.org/portolan-proj…/scott-woods/

World Fantasy Going Virtual

Quick note for SF/F writers. World Fantasy just e-mailed to announce that they’re cancelling and going virtual. I’m saddened that I won’t be going to Salt Lake City this fall, but I do think this was the wise decision (and taken out of their hands by the hotel cancelling.)

Having just attended the Nebulas this weekend virtually, and found it immensely useful and much more social than I’d expected, I’m delighted to note that this is happening, and that the registration cost of $125 for the virtual WFC is a very good investment for those serious about their writing career.

Usually attending WFC is much more expensive, esp. when you factor in travel costs. I’m registering now, and recommend it unto you. October 29 – November 1.

ALSO, they will surely need a lot of volunteers to pull this off well, so if you have time to volunteer, do consider it. It’s a great way to get involved and get to know people.

Attending a Nebula Panel

Attending a virtual Nebula panel with Whitney Strix BeltránRyan Schapals, etc. on narrative game design, and once again, talking with them makes me want to do more work in that arena. I am such a distracted ADD magpie! Ooh, pretty shiny! (Maybe I should go back to the idea of pitching a project to Choice of Games? Hmm….)

That said, it continues to be pretty awesome that I can attend this panel (occasionally chatting in the text box with other attendees, or posting questions for the panelists, which makes it different from just watching a recorded panel) — while also straightening up my kitchen, which is sort of a disaster at the moment. 

Fascinating to think about how conventions are going to evolve going forward. Among other things, I’d love to see someone try a weekend-long round-the-clock convention, where we, say, start on Friday morning, and then hand off responsibility every 3 hours to a time zone further along.

So start at 9 a.m. in the Eastern time zone, for example, and then 3 hours later, hand off con management (moderation, tech support, etc.) to people in California, and keep rotating westward, following the setting sun.

There’d be some gaps for oceans, so you might not be able to stick strictly to every three hours, which is fine, but it’d be fun to ‘hand off’ to Saudi Arabia (I was in a room party yesterday evening that was being hosted by the bid party for the Saudi Arabian WorldCon, and it was 3:30 a.m. for them when I was attending) at a reasonable hour for them, etc.

As we think about international cooperation and welcoming everyone into the speculative fiction experience, I’m super-interested in seeing what a real NonStopCon ™ might look like.

(I didn’t really trademark the name NonStopCon. But it’s pretty good, huh? Someone should do that and give me credit for the idea… I tried to talk Steven H Silver into it yesterday in a room party, and he said, a little frazzledly, to let him get through the Nebulas first. Fair enough. )

Something Satisfying

There’s something really satisfying about sewing Dr. Who toile masks (TARDIS and Dalek) while attending virtually the SFWA business meeting, listening to SFWA President Mary Robinette Kowal and worthy others talk about SFWA activities in general and the Nebula conference in particular (last weekend in May).

I’m honestly really excited about the way SFWA and other orgs have pivoted to presenting virtual conferences — without the costs of airfare and hotel, without the need to find childcare to attend, etc., this will make conventions accessible to a much broader range of attendees than previously.

I hope that having built these new structures (and forced to practice with them for a year or so), we’ll be able to continue with them in the post-Covid era as well, so that even when we’re meeting in person again (which I do love, and wouldn’t want to give up entirely), we can offer a robust virtual convention alongside the in-person (or perhaps in alternating years?). I’m very interested in seeing how this evolves.

Conference registration for this one is $150, which is on the pricier side, I know, but funds raised will help with SFWA’s COVID-19 relief fund. Beginning in April, the board will be offering grants of up to $1,000 for SFWA members financially affected by COVID-19.

The Nebula conference includes three days of online panels with real-time interaction, an annual subscription to archived content, and a one-year subscription to the Bulletin. I’m really looking forward to it — SF/F writers, hope to see many of you there!

Register here: https://nebulas.sfwa.org/nebula-conference/

The Portolan Project Moving Forward

I’ve written to a possible donor about funding for the SLF that might allow me to put off doing a Portolan Project Kickstarter for a few months, which would be great; I could just focus on producing good work, rather than taking out time to raise money — it’d also mean that we would have a more complete project to show as part of the Kickstarter, so people really understood what we were asking them to fund.

I’ve also written to one of the writers we interviewed, to start the process of creating materials to supplement the teaching videos.

What I’m hoping to do is attach little assignments to each teaching video. I can write them, but if the writer wanted to contribute something, we’d love to have it from them. So

for example, to accompany the interview we did with George R.R. Martin, I’d love to present:


George R.R. Martin on writing epic fantasy: [15-20 minute audio embedded on the page]

George recommends: [3-5 texts that are relevant]

George suggests you try this: [writing prompt(s)]


I’m trying to balance this in various ways. For one, the page itself, I’d like to be welcoming and non-intimidating. This isn’t where we’re going to get three pages of Delany essay — not for the first round assignments, anyway. 

That works on the teaching side too — if I keep what I ask of the writer very simple and brief, then hopefully it doesn’t feel so onerous that they would need to be paid to do it.

There’s a tricky line here, because on the one hand, I think teachers should be paid for their labor, obviously. I don’t want to undercut the work that teachers put in creating serious lesson plans and designing courses.

But on the other hand, if I have to spend a lot of time fundraising to pay for instructional labor, this project will honestly not be in my capacity, or the SLF’s capacity this year. (I am trying to be much more careful about capacity these days, so I don’t overcommit and run myself into the ground.)

So I’m going for a sort of middle ground, where I ask the writers if they’d like to contribute something small and relatively easy, it’s entirely up to them, I fill in where they’re not interested, and that will hopefully let us get up at least a dozen videos and instruction pages by the end of the summer. (My actual stretch goal is 3 dozen finished by the end of the summer, to set up for a fall Kickstarter — we’ll see.)

And then if all that goes well, then I can build in fundraising that will let us actually pay at least a small honorarium for that work of creating instructional materials going forward. This is the proof-of-concept phase.  I’d like to pay people for the interview itself as well — it takes time from them, and that time should be compensated if possible.

We’ll see how it goes, and if people actually find this useful!

(Am I completely off-base, thinking the world could really use better free instruction on how to write fiction and create interesting stories? I guess we’ll find out…)

Photo of George form our interview in Dublin — I wish I’d been set up to do video as well as audio. Oh well. I’ll make him talk to me again sometime. 

Waking Up Full of Don’t Wanna

Sometimes you just wake up full of don’t wanna, and I’m thankful that this morning, I don’t haveta. I have a university Zoom town hall at 10:30, talking about the fall semester (sigh). But until then, I’ve put on comfy pj’s, gotten myself coffee and meds and two seeni sambol buns, and returned to bed to sink back into Cadwell Turnbull’s _The Lesson_, which is entirely gripping.

Turnbull does a terrific job of balancing the brutal aspects of his quiet alien invasion story with beautiful language, rich characterization, thoughtful implications around gender (very reminiscent of Octavia Butler in that regard), and even humor.

So great to have something great to read. I’m going to have to see if I can squeeze this novel into my American writers of color in SF/F class. If anyone is teaching an African American SF/F class, this would be great in conversation with Nisi Shawl’s _Everfair_, Samuel Delany’s _Tales of Neveryon_, and Butler, of course.

It’s giving me little sparks of ideas for my own SF too…

(Side note: I think we may have settled on a name for Benjamin’s and my new podcast: “Mohanraj & Rosenbaum Are Humans.” I really like it. 🙂 Darius, I want to interview Turnbull for it or for the SLF or both, perhaps in conversation with Yudhanjaya Wijeratne. Make a note, please.)