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This post is going to be a bit of a whine. We’ve been dealing with a lot of health issues this year and it seems that things get better and then they get not so very much better — meaning things slide downhill. I was just congratulating myself that I’d made it through Capclave okay with only a minor headache and a few muscle spasms. Then, I felt up for World Fantasy Convention (WFC) in Columbus, Ohio. Had a great time at both conventions.

Got a lot of exercise as well as fresh air walking about within a 1/2 to a mile of the hotel while in Columbus. However, had a couple of severe muscle spasm and a low grade migraine the last two day which got worse on the drive home to Maryland. The day before we left to come home, our cat sitter texted that the cat, Dorian, had a few accidents but was still greeting her when she came to the house and didn’t seem lethargic.

Just after Christmas last year, Dorian had a severe downturn in his health but recovered and is known in the vet’s office as the miracle cat because they didn’t think he’d make it at all. He’s got a heart problem and only 1 half of a functioning kidney and is 14 years old going on 15 (so in cat years that mid-70s). We got home to number of accidents (from both ends – use your imagination) throughout the house. We called the vet and took him right in. He was dehydrated and with really high levels in his blood work that indicate his kidney may be shutting down. They did some rehydration and gave him anti-nausea meds along with some other medications. We took him home and had to bring him in again today. He was there all day for treatment. His tests came back today much better in some way and yet still worrisome. He’ll go in again tomorrow and then we may, depending on his test results, have to start making some very hard decisions about his quality of life. He’s more active and moving about but seems not himself. I’m cautiously optimistic but still worried.

Afterall, what can you be but cautiously optimistic when the cat sits and stares at the bubbling water bowl for extended period so time. Maybe it is cat meditation. Currently, he’s crawled under the lowest level of the cat tree and is not sleeping but probably contemplating the universe and his place in it.

Meanwhile, the magazines ( and went up as planned on November 1st. However, I still have some things to do — essential the reviews I was doing still need to be finished and added to the contents as well as writing the overview editorial for each magazine. Hoping that a good nights sleep will finally vanish the migraine — it is really hard to think clearly when someone invisible is using your head for an anvil.

If the headache finally eases off with a good nights sleep, I can finish up tomorrow while Dorian, the cat, is again at the vets. But, with so much stress my allergies and asthma have kicked in. This puts a bit of perspective on the migraines — though on the whole, lots of pain vs difficulty breathing seem to be in a tie.

Life goes on so far.

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Terry Pratchett talked at Capclave today at noon to 1PM. He was a surprise guest. We have an audio file up on the Capclave website:


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I wish we could have slept in today. Yesterday was really busy though, looking at what I wrote, it doesn’t really appear to be that much. Didn’t matter. I was tired when I got up. First order of business was to talk to programming about getting off one of the panels that I was on today. I’d been placed on an audience participation type panel that was game based — think What’s My Line or Pick the Real Definition of the Word type thing but different. It just was not my cup of tea and staying on the item would be a disservice to the panelists and the audience. Tracked down the right person and got replaced and gave a great sigh of relief.

Next we helped set up the Capclave table and spent some time talking to people about Capclave, WSFA Press, and our upcoming guests of honor — Catherynne M. Valente and Carrie Vaughn. Check out the website and consider coming to Capclave this October — it’s bound to be a lot of fun.

1:00 PM – Belmont – Favorite Shared Worlds. Panelists: Gayle Surrette (M), C. J. Henderson, Michael Hanson, Richard Groller, Neil Levin, Charles Gannon.
Description: Fans, Authors and Editors talk about their favorite shared worlds, old and new. And maybe even toss around ideas form some new shared worlds!

Unfortunately, this panel had a problem — the panelists and moderator showed up but we had no audience. Paolo Bacigalupi was scheduled to do a reading in Belmont at 1:00. Programming moved his reading to Chesapeake — unknown to us they also placed a very large sign outside the door that said that his reading was moved. This was a good idea and they’d told us to announce before our panel started that his reading had been moved. The sign outside the door however didn’t mention that another panel had been moved to replace the reading — our panel.

So, while we waited for an audience to show up, the panelists discussed shared worlds including the newly revived Heroes in Hell, Wild Cards, and Shad’aa. We swapped information and ideas on the topic while waiting. After about 20 minutes we said our goodbyes and went on with our day.

Having some time before my next panel at 4:00 PM, I met up with Hyperion and we checked out the Art Show which had some nice pieces way-way out of our range and some interesting new pieces we hadn’t see before. After that we took a turn in the dealer’s room checking out the offering there. Some beautiful items on sale. We each got a pocket watch with steampunk-ish finishes. We then checked out all the booksellers. You’d think with all the books we have that we wouldn’t need to buy any more for quite a while. After all, each of our To-Be_Read piles are really multiple stacks not to mention the eBooks on our eReaders. Nevertheless, we found several we’re considering for later in the convention.

4:00 PM – Salon C – How Plausible is Today’s Hard SF?
Panelists: Michael Swanwick, Douglas Fratz, Gayle Surrette, Brett Talbot, David Bartell.
Description: Past science fiction stories were either fantastic or built on known science. Now theoretical physics and accelerating developments in biology have led to more fantastic leaps of speculation in what used to be hard science fiction. Is the science in today’s SF at all plausible or is today’s SF drifting towards fantasy?

The conversation went very well between the panelists. There was discussion of physics, biology, classic writers and new, and how writers handle the science of their books. Interestingly, it was brought up the the more expert a writer is in a field the less likely they are to enjoy books with their field depicted in a book or to write about it themselves. There was also talk of how there are just some givens — you need to travel between solar systems so you have FTL and move on with no detail as to how it works other than to keep the time of travel consistent with distances. Many other areas were covered but now I can’t remember who said what or what was covered. Hannu Rajaniemi’s Quantum Thief was highly recommended as were other writers.

We then helped at the Capclave table until it was packed up for the night. We then attended a short WSFA Press meeting and went out with friends for dinner. Coming back to the hotel, we stopped in a couple of parties and called it a night.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a 9:00 AM panel — after which I hope to get to see some other panels. One can always hope.

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I really don’t know what’s got into me lately. It seems like I’m just dragging through the days in a fog. I’m sleeping a lot but never feel rested. I’d have thought by this time now that my Capclave was over, I’d begin feeling rested and revving up on all the things I had to put on hold for the past couple of months. Guess it will take a bit longer.

Meanwhile, I spent nearly a week entering all the books that came in between two days before Capclave and when we got back from World Fantasy in Columbus, Ohio. We had a great time at WFC. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite conventions along with Readercon, Balticon, and our local convention, Capclave. I also enjoy Worldcon but haven’t been able to go recently since they’ve been out of the country (USA) this past year. Other conventions, as much as I’ve enjoyed them, are just a bit difficult to get to because of the economy and my husband’s lack of vacation/sick time (he’s a contractor and gets set back to 0 when the contract changes companies — sigh).

I’ve been trying to catch up on some knitting. During the foggy brain days of gearing up for Capclave, I stuck to my plain vanilla sock knitting and got 1 and 1/2 socks done. Less brain fog and I’d have expected to finish 3 pair in that time. I’ve finally got the first sock of the first package for the sock club I joined at the beginning of the year. It’s been sitting on the tray near my chair since then because — well, I sort of think I want to make the other pattern instead. I feel really bad about that because I ended up unraveling this sock at least 4-5 times trying to get myself to not over-think the pattern or go off without reading the pattern. I guess I picked this one because it seemed more challenging and it was. But, now that I look at the finished one — it’s not really the type of sock I’d wear and the other pattern is. So, as soon as I get my courage up, it’s the frog pond for this sock and starting the other pattern. I’ll take a photo before I pull it apart and try to post that soon (check back).

Meanwhile, just watched the second season of Fringe. There’s a lot to be said for watching an entire season over a week. The long term story arcs really jump out at you when doing that. I’ll post a review to SFRevu soon and let you know where to find it when I get it up. I’d like to hear what you thought of it also. Feel free to post comments.

Time to take a break and go read for a while. Have a good evening.

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The Capclave Mascot -- A dodo for reading is not extinctAs those of you who read this blog regularly know, I’m the chairperson of Capclave 2010. Capclave is the Washington Science Fiction Association’s annual convention, held this year in Rockville, Maryland. Our guests of honor this year are Connie Willis, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer. There will also be many other guests — writers, editors, publishers, and of course fans of speculative fiction in all its various designations.

One of the things that we’re very proud of this year is the number and quality of the workshops we’ll be offering to participants. If you are registered to attend Capclave, there is no extra charge for being in a workshop, but space is limited and some have requirements (homework that’s due at the time of the workshop or before you arrive in the case of the VanderMeer workshop).

If you are already a member of Capclave and wish to sign up for one or more of these workshops, send email to workshops at capclave dot org (you know how to parse that email address I’m sure). If you haven’t signed up for the convention yet, check out the website and sign up then send your email asking listing the workshop you wish to be in.

Here’s the full list of workshops:

Workshops at Capclave:
Capclave 2010 is pleased to once again host a number of interesting workshops. Space is still available. If you are interested, send an e-mail to our workshop coordinator.

Online Content Workshop
Putting your comics, music, video, and fiction online is easy. Making it pay is harder, but it can be done. Join webcomic creator and comedy musician Rob Balder as he talks about making a living with the free content model. Get practical advice (feel free to bring a laptop/tablet and samples of your stuff) and work out a specific strategy for growing and monetizing an audience around your work. Two hour workshop.

Plotting Workshop
What makes a story a story? How do you construct a viable plot from a bare (naked) idea? We’ll start at the beginning, and by the end, you should have everything you need to know to plot your story. Allen Wold will lead this 2 hour session.

Reviewer’s workshop
A good reviewer does more then read free books and say “I like that”. Peter Heck, a regular reviewer for Asimov’s Science Fiction will demonstrate the hallmarks of a good review and how to create one. Bring a at least 10 copies of a review you’ve written and are proud of.

Wordsmith’s Workshop
Danny Birt will guide you through looking at writing from the perspective of the single word, and then work up from there, making sure that every word counts. This 1.5 hour workshop is good for beginners to professionals and is limited to 16 participants.

Writer’s Workshop
Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. Session will be for 2 hours on Sat. and for those interested, a 1 hour follow-up on Sunday. Number of Participants is limited to 12.

Writer’s Workshop
Jeff and Ann VanderMeer will critique short stories of 12 participants. Each participant must write and submit a story of no more than 7500 words at least 2 months before Capclave (by August 22nd) to the workshop email address (workshops at capclave dot org). The story will be shared with the VanderMeers and the other participants. This will be a 2 hour workshop.

Hope your as excited about these opportunities to learn as we are to be able to offer them to our convention attendees.

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Photo of the WSFA Small Press AwardThe Washington Science Fiction Association is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2010 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction (published in 2009)

    “each thing i show you is a piece of my death” by Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer, published in Clockwork Phoenix 2, edited by Mike Allen, Norilana Books (July 2009).

    “Images of Anna” by Nancy Kress, published in Fantasy Magazine, edited by Cat Rambo (September 2009).

    “James and the Dark Grimoire” by Kevin Lauderdale, published in Cthulhu Unbound, edited by Thomas Brannan and John Sunseri, Permuted Press, (March 2009).

    “Race to the Moon” by Kyell Gold, published in New Fables, Summer 2009,  edited by Tim Susman, Sofawolf Press  (July 2009).

    “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast” by Eugie Foster, published in Interzone (January 2009) / Apex Magazine (August  2009), edited by Andy Cox (Interzone) / Catherynne M. Valente (Apex).

    “Siren Beat” by Tansy Rayner Roberts, published in Twelfth Planet, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (October 2009).

    “The Pirate Captain’s Daughter” by Yoon Ha Lee, published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #27, 10/08/2009, edited Scott H. Andrews.

    “The Very Difficult Diwali of Sub-Inspector Gurushankar Rajaram” by Jeff Soesbe, published in DayBreak Magazine, edited by Jetse de Vries (October 2009).

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2009). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association ( and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave (, held this year on October 22-24th in Rockville, Maryland.

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Today started early with setting up the Capclave table at about 9:30 am.  We were a bit late getting there at 9.45 a.m.  Once set up it was greeting people as the walked bay, explaining about our convention (Capclave), who the guest of honor were (Connie Willis, Ann VanderMeer, and Jeff VanderMeer) and what type of programming we will have. Of course we stressed our writers’ workshops, review workshop, and the WSFA Small Press Award Ceremony.

Hyperion used our Dodo puppet to good effect. He quipped with passers-by and kept up patter with those who talked to the Dodo. If this keeps up, he may even learn to do the dodo voice without moving his lips.

1:00 p.m. Ice Age. Panelists: Anthony Stevens (moderator), James Prego, Paul Melko, Peter Prellwitz, Gayle Surrette, and Paolo Bacigalupi.
Description: How would we handle it if the predictions of extreme cold conditions in our world, recently made by some scientists, were to come true? Would our technology be able to protect us from extreme cold? How would our bodies adjust? What would we eat? Would fat people have an advantage?
The panel and the audience had a bit of fun with this one. The concept was that something catastrophic happened and we found ourselves in a full-blown ice age within 10 years with the ice down to about the 45th parallel worldwide. How would we cope?
Since I was on the panel it’s a bit hard to be objective in reporting but basically we covered the issues of migration, political instability, social upheaval, transportation problems, food and food delivery/growing/availability, sanitation, energy, and die off of species, climate changes, ocean salinity, and so on. The premise allowed the panel to dismiss the chance of long range planning of solutions — but that didn’t stop us from a minor discussion of whether having time to plan would actually mean that we did plan.

Then it was back to the table and schilling for Capclave. Sitting at the Capclave table means that I’m missing chances to go to some great panels and science talks. Balticon, for me, is great for great for science programming and being able to listen to scientists from local centers talk about their areas of specialty. Q&A’s allow for clarifying the what ifs or to clarify concepts as they may apply to writing projects or ones own research.

I did take time today to walk through the art show. There were some outstanding pieces with prices way out of my range but at least by being in the art show, I got to view some really nice work from some very good artists.

Some of the art was humorous. Alan Beck does a series of masterpieces of art re-imagines with mice as the models. These are amazing reproductions of this iconic works and always make me smile.

Another artist had a piece called “Vincent’s Surprise” which from a short distance appeared to be Van Gogh’s Starry Night but if you stepped closer you’d see in the sky’s swirls alien attack vessels. (Unfortunately, I mislaid my note on whose work this was — if you know or are the artist let me know.)

The artist guest of honor is Howard Tayler of the online Space Opera, Schlock Mercenary. There were several panels of his art work. There was also a table in artist alley selling his books. Check out the link to his web comic if you’re not already familiar with it — you may find this comic just what you need for comic relief.

We also wandered through the Dealer’s Room. This area is where you can check for the latest books in the genre from independent booksellers or from the publishers. There are also clothing, games, and period specific sellers. I couldn’t resist purchasing a mechanical wind-up pocket watch from a dealer specializing in Steampunk accessories. While I admired the goggles, gas masks, top hats, and other items — I managed to step away.

The major problem with the dealer’s room is that there are always many difficult to find items available and one needs to prioritize what to purchase and hope that what you pass on this time isn’t sold out by the time you find the same dealer at another venue. Many of the items you find here are just not readily available especially if the specialty dealer doesn’t have a web presence.

9 p.m. Book Pushers. What’s mine should be yours. Party sponsored by: Laura Anne Gilman, Jeri Smith-Ready, Bejamin Tate, David J. Williams. These authors books were available for sale at the party and the authors were signing the purchased copies. There was checking of ids (if you wanted liquor) and soft drinks for those not of age. There was also an abundance of chocolate and interesting and varied conversations.

We had a great time and stayed later than we’d expected to. We took the Dodo and managed to get a number of people to have their photo taken with our Capclave Dodo. (They’ll be up in an online gallery soon — really, real soon now…). The authors, editors, agents, and fans were very gracious to hold a Dodo and pose for photos — some even had real fun with staging their photos.

Finished out the day at the Capclave table followed by a meal that was wonderful since breakfast had been a long, long time ago — or it seemed that way.

Tomorrow is another full day of Balticon goodness and Capclave table sitting with short interruptions to be on two panels.


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Managed to get the car packed and on the road at a decent time.  Then drove back to pick up the box we forgot.  Had to stop at the post office and then Kinkos to get copies made of the Capclave Registration Flyer.  Finally, made it to the metro to pick up a friend also going to Balticon.

Everything went fine once we got here.  Found the Capclave table and set up.  We actually managed to get one person to sign up for the Capclave.  Sold one of the books left from last year’s convention, and pre-sold a book we’re publishing this year.  Yeah.  Talked to quite a few people and had some really nice conversations about books.

4:00 p.m. Getting Published 1010: (R to L) Joshua Bilmes, Ally E. Peltier, Gayle Surrette (me as moderator),  and Jonathan Maberry.

I think the panel went okay.  I asked some question of the panel to get things going to cover some of the topics that I thought people who were aspiring writers would want to know.  Then opened it to questions early and we got some interesting questions.  The panelists were very good at fielding on such topics as whether you can send a manuscript to an agent and a publisher at the same time (yes), whether you need to do short stories before you do a novel (no), the importance of having a presence on the web (mixed), and the importance of understanding the need to not only know how to tell a good story but the importance of language, grammar, spelling, and following the submission guidelines, as well as treating your writing as a business (all extremely important).

After the panel, I returned to the Capclave table and later we went out to dinner with friends.

8:00 p.m. Opening Ceremony. This went very quickly.  The Guests of Honor were introduced (Writer Guest of Honor: Tanya Huff, Artist Guest of Honor: Howard Tayler, Science Guest of Honor: Dr. Thomas Holtz Jr., Fan  Ghost of Honor: Hal Haag.  Then the 2009 Compton Crook Award Winner: Paul Melko announced the 2010 Compton Crook Award Winner — Paolo Bacigalupi for his novel Windup Girl.

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the book and it’s on my to be read pile. Windup Girl is also a nominee for the Hugo Award this year.

9:00 p.m. Hot fusion (Inertial Electrostatic); Tom Ligon. He did a presentation and showed us the model that he’d brought. The talk was very interesting and informative and it seems that this model’s a move in the right direction. He’ll have the talk on his website soon ( along with several links to more information and scientific papers on this and related subjects.

We then stopped in on a party and had some interesting conversations. Now it’s very late and we have an early day tomorrow.

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