WORLDCON 76!

WorldCon76 was in San Jose, California this year. So of course I went!

I had a fantastic time. It was everything I hoped it would be. I caught up with old friends and made some new friends. I attended entertaining and insightful panels. I listened to enjoyable readings, and learned a little something from each one. I went to parties, I was social, and I danced the night away at the Eighties Dance Party. Codex Breakfast, VP Brunch, local dinners – all were just great. It all topped off with attending the Hugos on Sunday night.

What were my favorite moments?
– The Eighties Dance Party, O-MI-GAWD. Three AWESOME hours of dancing to a great mix of 80s hits, both famous and more obscure. The next morning my feet and knees hurt, and I was certainly tired. But it was totally worth it. FER SURE. TO-TALLY!
– The Eurovision Science Fiction Panel. Five devoted Eurovision fans gushing about how much they love it and why, how wonderful it is and why, and showing plenty of videos. I’d been intrigued by Eurovision before, but now I’m hooked and can’t wait for next year’s shows.
– The Non-Toxic Masculinity Panel. Four people at various places on the gender and sexuality spectrum talking about toxic and non-toxic masculinity, with examples from media and thoughts on how they perceive it. I try to be a non-toxic male, so this was interesting and useful for me.
– The Afrofuturism: It’s Not New panel. It became the Steven Barnes Inspirational Speech panel at times but he is certainly persuasive and insightful and inspirational so I really enjoyed it and took a lot away from the panel.
– The Hugos. Seeing stories I enjoyed being celebrated, hearing award-winning authors talk about their community and their path to these moments. Funny and emotional and triumphant, all at the same time.
– Just hanging out with con/writing/scifi friends: Curtis and Deanne, Cylia and her son Damon, Heather and Rabbit, Julia, Stephanie, Katrina, Christopher, Daryl and making new friends from VP and Codex and SFWA lounge.

The whole experience really gave me a charge of energy around scifi and writing. It will certainly serve as fuel for me to get back on the track of writing my stories, challenging myself to do my best, then sending them out into the world to find their home(s). And reading. And watching shows. And talking about them. And getting a little bit of that WorldCon energy into my life, every single day.

Yay Worldcon!

yeff

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Summer is here!

First days of summer and it’s going to be 95 F Thursday, 104-105 F Friday and Saturday. That’s 35 C and 40 C.

And I’m going to be doing junk hauling from the yard to the curb Friday, and attending an outside reunion of an old work group at a winery. Gonna be sweating.

Summer is here!

Scene from OUTLANDER writers’ room

We’ve been watching OUTLANDER. The most recent episode we watched (Season 2, Episode 8, “The Fox’s Lair”) sparked thoughts of what conversations must be like in teh writers’ room. Perhaps like this?

OUTLANDER Writers’ Room, S2E08

Newbie: So, in the may-be 30 minutes time it takes Ian to swim to the nearby small island and retrieve the treasure, a previously unseen boat comes over the horizon, sails to that specific small island, and a small dinghy is rowed from the boat to the island. Just as Ian comes down the hill with the treasure.

Showrunner: Yup, you got it.

Newbie: That’s a little … outlandish.

Showrunner: Have you seen the name of the show?

(And how was he planning on swimming back with that heavy box of treasure, anyway?)

Let’s blog again!

Well, the last blog post was five months ago. I have decided will get back to blogging, as part of being better about writing and being more creative in general.

At some point later, I’ll post a life and writing update, but for now I’m just looking for a post most days. Nothing epic, just fun or thoughts in a form longer than a Twitter post.

Off we go!

– yeff

2017

Haven’t posted in a while. Let’s get the year kicked off with a summary of 2017.

What a mess. A regressive, venal, bullying, self-obsessed, lying, pandering, pathetic excuse for a person inagurated as President. A regressive, Machiavellian, libertarian/evangelical/corporate wing of the Republican party holding power in Congress. These two combined to create an endless parade of awfulness coming from the government, one that sparked daily explosions of outrage among everyone who didn’t hold to their view of the world (myself included). The only reason they didn’t do even worse things was they fought with themselves too much over how awful to be.

All this brought forth the nasty underbelly of America – racism, misogyny, gay-hating, xenophobic – that had always existed but that I had hoped was finally sunsetting after what had seemed like some truly progressive years under the first black American President and some big gains for people who have been historically oppressed.

How naive of me. I forgot that the hard-right wing of the Republican party had been tapping the nasty underbelly for 20-40 years as a source of political power, ramped it up President Obama, and finally there was enough resentment and anger, focused towards an abstract “them” by these Republicans, that it led to electing a truly terrible troll as president.

With that came the empowerment of asshole-ness that has happened in the last year which is just terrible, and frightening, and depressing. The parade of “bad acts” just continued and continued and continued. After a while it became so overwhelming and overpowering and I think a lot of people (myself included) had no idea what to do about it except for to continue trying to focus the outrage somewhere, anywhere.

That was a lot of focus in 2017, for a lot of people, was trying to understand how to exist in this new world, how to continue to be productive and forward-looking and even just positive. I think in the end the outrage started to be focused on certain things, especially exposing men who used their power to sexually harass and abuse women especially young women. I expect more exposing of “powerful men behaving badly” to happen in the future. Hopefully we can also put energy into working on protecting and building basic rights, try to handle major economic issues, and getting people out to vote so that we can flip the power structure that is currently in place.

I walk around with a backpack full of privilege all day. I’m white, male, 50, hetero, cis-gender. We make good money, we are probably in the upper middle class, and we have a comfortable life. All this stuff that the regressives put into place is likely going to affect my life very little.

But I’m a liberal, a progressive, an intellectual, and a nice guy. The President and most of the Republican administration doesn’t appear to have any of these characteristics, and in fact appears to actively be anti all these characteristics. I have friends and family and colleagues who are in the social and/or economic groups being targeted by the actions of the regressives. I need to make sure to give support in whatever way support needed, and to speak out whenever it can help.

So. How was 2017 for me, beyond this looming monster dark cloud? (“Other that that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”)

Work was good. I worked on a couple smaller projects that went really well and were finished on time and to high quality. The big Gemini project proceeds apace, and I’m continually making contributions there. My simulation work has gone really well. I think it’s the space where I’m distinguishing myself and contributing and providing leadership not only to Schilling but to TechnipFMC. That will be especially true as the Gemini Simulator project moves throughout the year.

Fitness improved. I started out with sicknesses that lasted into March, but after that was able to start doing cross-fit workouts at the gym and getting into what I felt was better shape. I even played a little aussie rules (tag) during the summer. I can’t seem to lose the 10 pounds I’d really like to lose to get my weight under 200. But that issue is just an eating issue. I need to cut down my eating, especially my eating of tasty treats, and the weight loss will happen.

Writing was okay. I actually only produced one completely new story during the year, “Scales and Fire”. I did do revisions on other short-short stories to make them flash-length so I could send them out. I made sure to keep all stories in submission somewhere, getting up to 11 stories out at once and over 50 submissions for the year. There were some “good nos” with personal notes. At the very end of the year, I got an acceptance from Factor Four for “A Mind of its Own” which was really really nice. No contract yet, so it’s not “official”, but hopefully this pans out (it is a new magazine). Also,”Void and the Voice” is in a final “pool” of consideration at a magazine I really like (name withheld), which was a total surprise to me. Boy if that happened it would be amazing.

Writing-related travel I went to FOGCon and to OryCon and both were really great. First time at FOGCon, which is probably the most “woke” convention I’ve ever been to. I met some cool people with whom I’ve stayed in touch, and had a little time with my old VP buddies Julia and Heather at a one-day writing retreat before the convention which was really nice. OryCon was of course a nice time, people and panels and hanging out. Definitely my “home” con.

Personal travel the big trip was the tour to Cuba, which was pretty amazing. It was my first time to a “third-world” country and my first time to a Spanish-speaking country. Turns out my Spanish is a little better than I thought it was and I was able to get around and make myself understood (somewhat) when we were on our own. We were also with the tour people a large portion of the time, and they were fun. We had a great time, and learned a lot, and I would definitely go back.

Personal-wise the big focus is of of course the relationship. Things are improving, slowly, and don’t seem as dark as they did a year ago. The future is wide open, it’s just a matter of us putting in the effort to create it.

So that’s 2017. Despite the dark cloud that hangs over so much of the USA and even the world, there were some bright spots that hopefully bode well for a better 2018

— yeff

FOGCon

Went to FOGCon over the weekend and it was fantastic!

It’s a small con – maybe 200-300 people at most. So there were only 2 or 3 tracks of programming going at once but even then the sessions were wonderful and insightful. Probably my favorite session was “The Gaze”, about different kinds of gazes and how we view the world around us through the lenses of who we are. This of course involves many different kinds of privilege operating in those lenses. I consider myself a semi-enlightened hetero male, but there were things here that really opened my eyes and from which I learned.

But really every panel I attended was interesting:

“Writing Between Genres”, which started as a discussion of what’s happening in current fiction, both speculative and mainstream, and moved into novelty in fiction and how self-publishing enables more stories and what “genre-crossing” can bring to an author and a work.

“In Between the Pixie and Crone” talking about how middle-aged women are often invisible in science fiction and fantasy literature (but interestingly not as much in mystery, romance, or literary mainstream). There were examples of work with middle-aged female protagonists, discussion about what these characters can bring to a story, and many funny personal anecdotes about the panel’s experiences (the phrase “personal microclimates” is a great one).

“Medieval POC” about how medieval times, which we usually think of as “dark ages” and are usually envisioned as extremely all-white were actually much more varied between cultures and more multi-cultural than one would think. The MedievalPOC tumblr was a fantastic site mentioned during the talk.

“Outlining”. I’m a short story person so I don’t do too much with outlines beyond my “road trip” model of writing a story. But there were some great techniques discussed by the panel that would be very useful for helping strengthen short stories and novellas, and “retro-outlining” (doing an outline for an existing work) sounds like a great tool for studying story structure and confirming the form of one’s own stories.

I met many new fun and wonderful people throughout the con, at the noodle house dinner Friday night, at the Unaward Banquet Saturday lunch, at the Codex dinner Saturday night, just hanging out in the hallways, and in the bar. I had a total blast singing at the Karaoke session, staying to the very end. My writing workshop session went rather well (I brought the “Full Moon” story) and I got some good insight into the story that I think will help me crack it open and strengthen it.

Overall, a really marvelous con. Literary, writer-ly, social, insightful, very “woke” (as the kids say), and just overall great. I’ll definitely be back for FOGCon 2018!

Writing Status – Jan/Feb 2017

January and February were mixed months for writing.

January started strong, with Paragraph a Day happening for the first three weeks. I made a lot of progress on the Rumplestiltskin story. Well, a lot of words – we’ll see what kind of progress it ends up being. The weekend of Jan 21-22 was a weekend of running math contest (ES, MS, and HS) and by the time I was done with those I was pretty wiped out so the next few days felt like recovery. Then I got sick (perhaps explaining why I was so wiped out after running the contests).

But January was a good month with 18 writing sessions and about 6700 words output. 3 story submissions. 6 story responses, all “no”, 1 story pulled because market dead.

February, not so good. Started out sick. Stayed sick for two weeks.Finally recovered from being sick in enough time to have a birthday party and then run a weekend of math contests (MathCounts Regional, and with ES and HS in El Dorado Hills). And then it was the end of the month.

So February was rough: 3 writing sessions, a little work on “All That Was Left Behind”. 2 story submissions. 1 story response of “no”, 1 story pulled because market closed.

March looks to be better, especially with FOGCon on the second weekend. I plan to get back on the paragraph a day practice and make progress on stories.