Monday, November 2, 2009

first notes from WFC

World Fantasy Convention, that is.

Flight down
better than I expected/feared. Sent aside at Seattle--apparently I have been flagged, but the Customs person this time may have sorted it out (we'll see what happens the next time I cross). She did say it was the most confusing case she'd seen and she had to go back twice to talk to a supervisor. Obviously I don't know what the Port Angeles Customs had put on my file, but at one point she asked me if I'd ever been a customs broker (?!?), because there was apparently some note to that effect. And here I thought the problem at Port Angeles was that Mark didn't have a customs broker (it was said--not to me--that he should have one, as if a small business like his could even afford it).
So still a bit of trepidation whether this will happen every time, leaving my fate up to whether the Customs person is in a good mood or not, and what will happen the next time I travel with Mark.
The security theatre side of things was fairly well managed and relatively painless--everyone going to the States gets patted down and has their baggage gone over with a sniffy-wand, but I don't have any twitches about people seeing my rolled-up socks or sanipads, fortunately, or ticklishness about being patted down, and the staff were pleasant and efficient about it.

At the Light Rail stop in San Jose, found myself part of a cluster all going to WFC, including the (co?) chair of the 2011 con. Geekdar? Fandar? Anyway, we all recognised each other by type pretty quickly, and combined knowledge to identify the correct stop for the Fairmont (the directions having said 'stops in front of the Fairmont' without naming the stop) and to find the actual building and entrance.
The first entrance we came to didn't open to the Great Unkeycarded. What a lot of walking there is when you have Architecture and Vistas.

Today I mostly went to readings, because there isn't much programming and because I was feeling that I didn't know who anyone was, and wanted to associate works with names. Last year I missed most of the readings, though I did make it to Patricia McKillip's, where she read from what she apologetically called a first draft (dear lord, if all our first drafts were like that, books would reach print a damn sight faster).
Also, I've been wondering how a writer chooses a reading--I'll have to ask about that, when there aren't other hands waving (which mostly there weren't).
Blake Charlton read a scene from his YA fantasy where Nicodemus bargains with a gargoyle and loses control of the situation. I missed the opening, so I'm not sure how much explanation he gave, but the setting was pretty well laid in and I had no trouble following. I'm a sucker (as you can guess) for library settings, and gargoyles who reshelve books is a pretty cool concept. So his reading gave a good taste of the world and character, and left off with clear indications of immediate trouble.
Janni Lee Simner read the prologue and first chapter of Thief Eyes, another YA fantasy where a modern teen discovers that her mother's disappearance may be linked to an Icelandic legend. I missed part of the prologue, but the story caught me with the modern segment, the grieving resentful girl badgering her evasive father for answers.
Two readings from a recent co-authored fantasy novel, and I would have ducked out before the second one if I'd realised it was the same book. EFP and evidently given a pass on wordcount to judge from the flabby writing, with all the 'then's and 'too's and 'suddenly's left in, overexplaining, and the same information provided again and again. Also hitting way too many of my twitches, like bad people having bad teeth, inconsistent naming (a character named Baldric, ffs) an apparently medieval world with 18th c. architecture. About the time someone quaffed a tankard of (telegraphed as drugged) wine to the dregs, I had to ditch.
Later, Frederic Durbin read several excerpts focussing on what I would have guessed to be a secondary character, one of what seemed like winged house-elves, hitting various points of the story from a side-view. His enjoyment of the character and of sharing her thoughts with the audience was rather sweet.
Ken Scholes rolled up with a fair-sized entourage, read a fable (it had talking animals and a moral, therefore was a fable) about chimps on the moon, and took a lot of questions. I wonder if there's a fame tipping-point where you have to choose a short reading to allow time for questions? Several questions were about how he managed writing with babies, but I was most interested by what he said about moving to novels from short stories--his discovery that his short stories had novels hiding inside them.


Terri-Lynne said...

I've been reading McKillip's "In the Forest of Serre" and I keep thinking about you. I could be reading something of yours! The feel is very similar, though not the same.

Terri-Lynne said...

Oh, and Lucy was supposed to give you a hug for me! (Though she said she's not a hugger so maybe she just gave you my regards.) =D

Dorothy said...

Holy cow, customs sounds like a pain. So sorry.

Re the readings, I'm afraid I was most interested in your comments about the weak and apparently published book. First, I ran and quickly checked to see if I'd killed enough then's in my own book. "Then," I spent some time being annoyed that bad books are published.

batgirl said...

I'm flattered--McKillip is one of my style-heroines, and I had the gall to cite her in some of my query letters ('would appeal to readers of Patricia McKillip').
Lucy wrenched her shoulder, poor kid, so she didn't do much hugging at all, but I send you a virtual hug in return!

batgirl said...

The nameless book is published by Baen. Here's a quote:
"The feasting folk were all busy wassailing with this pleasant liquor..."
Here's another:
"Dear Hammermistress, I humbly crave your pardon for my youth, and I beg your royal majesty to be assured that I am your utterly complaisant servant in the weighty matters of age and facial adornment. However the remedies are not mine to sue for, but stand rather in nature's unbidden gift. All I may do is hope that the years as they unfold may efface the deficiencies of my youth and thus ingratiate me with your august majesty."
But obviously there are readers who eat this up, and who are more comfortable with cliche than with originality.