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No Power, No Win

Power at Clarkesworld HQ is still out. Last night, the cold drove us to make a hasty retreat to my parent’s house, which only regained power yesterday. The slushpile is backing up and I apologize for the delays, but they are inevitable at this point. Some of you might wait a whole week. 🙂

After several months of health-related distractions, it was a real pleasure to spend the weekend in Toronto while attending the World Fantasy Convention. I have to give a big thanks to Lisa for letting me go and to Kate Baker for driving us (Genevieve Valentine and I) up there. It wouldn’t have been possible any other way. The drive up and back was much longer than I ever like to be in a car, but time just flew. It’s rare for me to be anywhere with people that share common interests and musical tastes, so it worked out wonderfully. Along the way, we saw a tornado made of birds and Niagra Falls (Canadian side).

The Con itself was also great. My panel on ebooks was on Friday, so I was able to enjoy a mostly obligation free weekend the rest of the time. Sean offered some space for the Clarkesworld chapbooks on his table in the Dealer’s room, so I hung out there a lot and spoke with a lot of people. Among the Clarkesworld authors I ran into there were E. Lily Yu, Suzanne Church, Mari Ness, Cat Rambo, Holly Phillips, Lavie Tidhar, Tony Pi, Brenda Cooper, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, and (of course) Genevieve Valentine. The chapbooks attracted some nice attention and sold well. If I could have fit more in my bag, those probably would have sold too. Several people asked me about print subscriptions, but the cost of mailing creates some pricing concerns. One of the things we may do is offer a subscription plan that bundles issues together in quarterly bundles. I’ll start making copies and bundles available for sale on the website once we get power back at the house.

As you know, Kate, Cheryl, Sean and I were up for a World Fantasy Award this past weekend. We were hoping that the third time would be the charm, but it wasn’t to be. We lost to Tartarus Press (who claimed their third win). I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed, even though I never expected to win. (Heck, I never expect to be nominated. This is still a very surreal experience for me.) Thanks to the judges and voters for thinking us worthy of being nominated!

The darker side of World Fantasy 2009

I knew this post by Vylar Kaftan was coming, so I didn’t mention these unpleasant (putting it mildly) events in my previous post about World Fantasy Con. I was with Vylar as these events unfolded and what she presents is a very accurate representation of how things unfolded. She puts it in far better words than I ever could.

World Fantasy Convention 2009 – A Quick Summary

World Fantasy Con in two words:  ENERGIZING and EXHAUSTING

THURSDAY: The LAST DRINK BIRD HEAD party was Thursday night.  Kudos to everyone involved in running the party. It was a blast. The evening started slow, but it built up quickly and turned into a lot of fun. I sold a bunch of copies of LDBH at a table there and later helped Jeff and Ann VanderMeer (the book’s editors) hand out the first ever Last Drink Bird Head Awards. (Jeff details here.) I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Jeff and Ann had selected me for the Last Drink Bird Head Special Achievement Award, which will now be named after me. (Don’t we have a Clarke Award already?) Anyhow, I was pretty incoherent when the time came to accept. I was caught off-guard and was running on a total of 7 hours sleep in the previous 66 hours. I have no idea what I said, but I do recall several moments of being unable to say anything.
FRIDAY: Spent a lot of time hanging out in the Dealer’s Room trying to figure out why the Prime Books table was so well-hidden in the room configuration. Sean was kind enough to offer me some space to sell some of the Wyrm books, including Last Drink Bird Head. Over the course of the weekend, many LDBH contributors stopped by there to sign copies. I shipped a few boxes home, so once those arrive, I can start sending out the preorders. The evening was capped by dinner with Sean and my new distributor (details forthcoming) and a bunch of parties.

SATURDAY: A highlight of this day was going to Kij Johnson’s reading of "Spar" from last month’s issue of Clarkesworld. All I can say is WOW. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of speaking to her for a few minutes. By the way, the signed sheets that she read from are now safely tucked into a special section of my collection.

The attending Clarkesworld fiction staff (Nayad, Sean, Sean, and friends/family) got together for dinner that night. The restaurant nickeled-and-dimed for everything you’d expect to be included in a meal at a Chinese restaurant, but the company was excellent and I remember laughing a lot. Sleep deprivation removes most of the details, but I think I remember something about Muppet Baby Zombies and other invented slush horrors. Later, more parties, more new friends, and lots of talking.

SUNDAY: The big day. The World Fantasy Awards. We were up for the Special Award: Non-Professional and Catherynne M. Valente’s Clarkesworld story, “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antartica” was in the running for best short story. Neither of us won, but I can’t complain about who either of us lost to. At some level, I suspected we’d lose to Michael Walsh. Book publishers have won the lion’s share of the awards in the category over the last ten years and Mike was overdue for some recognition. During the judge’s panel afterward, they indicated that our category had been one of the easy ones to decide, being settled after their first round of email. They also said that they had thought “outside the box” in making their selections, specifically mentioning The Mythopoeic Society and Elise Matthesen (an artist who inspired writers through jewelry-making) . Since only three of the five nominees are picked by the judges, I’m going to assume that Electric Velocipede and Clarkesworld were voted in. In which case, THANK YOU! to all the voters.  I’ve asked and no, they don’t release the details of the voting that selects those two nominees. It’s a shame, because I’d really like to know how things shook out in the various categories. I should have asked why.

Anyhow, congratulations to the winners! In the end, it was nice to see so many friends and Clarkesworld contributors among the winners. I think the one I was happiest about was PAPER CITIES (edited by Ekaterina Sedia) winning for Best Anthology. (In the after panel, the judges indicated that picking the winner in this category was easy.) If you haven’t read this one… go buy it now.

I opted to take a red-eye home Sunday night, so my time after the awards was limited to packing boxes and some quick good-byes. Soon, the super shuttle came to take me to San Francisco airport (cheaper to fly from and had direct flights to Newark) and off I went. I arrived home early Monday morning was tackled by my boys shortly after I came through the door. It’s good to be home.

World Fantasy Convention

I just finished making my travel plans for the 2009 World Fantasy Convention in San Jose, CA. The trip is a bit more expensive than I had hoped, so I’m hoping to find a roommate to split hotel costs. I have a room at the Fairmont from Thursday through Sunday. If you (or someone you know) are interested, send me an email at books(at)
Problem solved.

ARGH! World Fantasy Convention

The draft programming schedule for World Fantasy Con is up and I’ve been selected to moderate the Online Fantasy Zine panel. I think it’s very cool to have been invited. I would have loved to have done this, but unfortunately I’m not going to be able to attend WFC this year. It looks like I’ll have to find a Bittercon replacement panel.

World Fantasy Convention is over and I’m still tired

I’m back from the World Fantasy Convention and even after a solid night’s sleep, I’m still exhausted. I could sum up the experience with “WOW!”, but that’s not very informative.

After an uneventful 3 hour drive, I dropped my stuff at the hotel and walked over to the convention center where I picked up my badge, box of cookies, bottle of water, and bag of free books. Fully weighed down, I headed off to the dealer’s room. My mission: find Realms. A short run of 100 copies was rushed to be ready for the con and I found them at the Prime/Juno table. Playing the proud father of this book, I dragged a copy with me everywhere for the first few days. Copies sold well and people were looking for it, so I’m pleased.  A few hundred Clarkesworld Magazine postcards were picked up off the table as well.

Several of the Clarkesworld Magazine contributors were in attendance: Sarah Monette, Catherynne M. Valente, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Sharon Mock, Carrie Laben, Paul Tremblay, Jetse De Vries, Cat Rambo, Ekaterina Sedia and Ken Scholes. (in publication order) It was wonderful to put faces to the names of all these fine writers. I had anyone who was part of Realms sign my copy. I have a goal of someday having this copy signed by everyone involved, so I had Nick, Sean, and Mary Robinette Kowal sign as well.  I think Sharon Mock has the honor of being the first to sign. Quite the pleasure to meet her and her husband. Wish we could have talked more, but the last time I saw her, she had lost her voice.  (Hope you’re doing better!)

On Thursday I had dinner at Wheatfields with Stephen Segal, Sean Wallace, K. Tempest Bradford and some friends of hers who’s names are lost in the weekend blur.  There was an interesting conversation on graphic novels for younger children.  It seems that it’s hard to get lists of good graphic novels for children in K-5. (I’ve already spoken with my school’s librarian.) There was also talk of Choose Your Own Adventures and who knows what dark places that will lead.

Thursday night wrapped up at the Zombies Need Brains party that several friends (including Joshua Palmatier, Patricia Bray, Jenifer Dunn, and Sam Butler) hosted. A fun time was had by all and it was a great way to end the first day of the con.  Afterwards, I wandered back to my hotel, unpacked, and went to sleep around 4am.  This would set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

Friday morning arrived quickly.  More blurring, because I can’t remember what day of the week I spoke to people anymore. I do remember talking to a lot of dealers about Wyrm and Clarkesworld’s inventory, but there were also a surprisingly number short conversations on all sorts of topics.  At one point, I remember realizing that I was among people of similar interests, something that rarely happens in my daily life. Apparently, I’m much less of an introvert in this crowd.

The signing reception was simply incredible.  Take a very large room, fill it with tables, and give every author a spot.  I heard one person describe it as signature trick-or-treating. Lines, when there were any, were short, everyone very friendly, and I had two heavy bags of books, many of which were from my personal collection. I had George R. R. Martin sign a copy of RRetrospective I found while clearing out stock and Gene Wolfe inscribed a copy of Soldier of Sidon (which later that weekend won the WFA for Best Novel).  I ran into Terry McGarry, someone I know from my long-ago convention days, and caught up on what she’s been up to. Also present were Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont, two gentlemen who figured strongly in the sales numbers at Clarkesworld Books.  Aside from having them inscribe some books for me, I spent a good chunk of time talking to them about their books, the store, publishing, book covers, and things in general.  Would have been nice to have been able to catch up with them again later, but this con was pure crazy. If anything, I’m more convinced than ever that it would be fun to have the chance to work with either one of them.

I’m proud to say that I managed to avoid being a complete idiot when I finally met Tim Powers.  I managed to avoid buying some expensive books in the dealer’s room (oh my god, were there some incredible books there) by having some books from my collection signed by Tim. Definitely a highlight of my time at the con.  Those books are now safely tucked back into my collection.

Of the three parties Friday night, I only managed to get to one: Ekaterina Sedia’s Secret History of Moscow and Paper Cities party. A great time was had by all. After that, I collapsed into bed back at my hotel. 

Saturday was the busiest day of the convention. I did more time helping out at the Prime/Juno table, talked to other booksellers, who apparently didn’t have a very good con in terms of sales.  Maybe not having a table was a blessing in disguise.  Publishers in the dealer’s room seemed to do much better.  The art show next door was incredible.  Best I’ve ever seen and it was great to talk to so many of the artists who’s work I’ve long admired.

The big party Saturday night was Tor’s, but it was a madhouse. Packed, hot, and loud. All the measure’s of a successful party, but instead I spent most of the time at the Weird Tales party which was also well-attended but not overpowering.  Great food, a trained attack poster, and pictures… my god, the pictures they took.  It will be unavoidable. 

I left the party (but returned later) to go to the Small Press panel. There were a good number of small press folks in attendance in addition to those on the panel (Ron Drummond from Inacubla (sp?), John O’Neill from Black Gate, Jeremy Lassen from Night Shade, Mary Robinette Kowel from Shimmer, Jetse de Vries from Interzone, George Scithers from many things over the years). Healthy discussion with some friendly disagreements well handled by Jetse, who moderated. Overall a good discussion. Someone does need to tell George about the current state of the limited edition books though. As far as he was concerned “that ship has sailed.” Special props go to Mary for holding up a copy of Realms when the discussion of covers and looking professional came up.

Some of the panel conversation carried over into the bar with Sean and Jetse, but then it turned to writing as Sean left and Jay Lake stopped in. Also spoke for a little while with Mary and two people from Solaris (sorry, I’m terrible with names) and later Mary and I found a table in a less noisy location to talk about the Memorare cover design. We were trying to come up some of those awful sayings that you’d find on 1950’s movie posters when Lon Prater walked by and was dragged into the discussion. I’m pretty sure he came up with the winning phrase for the back cover. When you see this fine work of design, you’ll better understand what we were talking about. 

Crash, boom, another 4-5 hours of sleep despite the one hour bonus from daylight savings time.

I was sad to see Sunday come. Time to tie up the loose ends, pack things, up and head out. The good part of this was I was seriously missing Lisa and the boys. When the awards banquet started, everything in the con pretty much ground to a halt. The dealer’s room even started packing up early, so I helped get Prime boxed up while I waited. Bruce Coville had the table next to them, so I took the opportunity to talk to him about his books and audiobook business. I’ve never read Bruce’s work, so I had him recommend a book for my seven-year-old and then he inscribed it to him. My younger son will listen to an audiobook since he can’t read well enough yet. I have a feeling they are going to like his stuff. It seems to be right up their alley. Aidan didn’t know who Bruce was, but was thrilled later that evening when I gave him the inscribed book.

As we carried stuff out to leave, Sean and I ran into Ken Scholes again. He’s a very nice guy and deserving of all the good fortune that has come his way in the last few weeks. I was thrilled to hear some of the things Tor will be doing to promote his work. All three of us have been actively watching blogs to see if anyone says anything about his story in this month’s Clarkesworld Magazine. It’s one of those stories that will likely bother a few people and as a result, it’s had trouble finding a home despite being appreciated. I’m quite pleased that we were able to bring it to print.

Farewells to friends soon followed and off  I went.  By 8:30 I was home and being tackled by the boys. It was an exhausting and enjoyable trip, but it was good to be home.

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