SFContario has been and gone so here’s the wrap up.
The glorious queen of all, she who is my sun and moon, the beloved monarch of my heart, she who must be obeyed,
my wife Joy, and I managed to get to the Ramada Plaza Hotel for about 1:30 pm. The Hotel staff were uniformly polite and professional. The hotel itself was showing its age in places. This was in both good and bad ways. Some of the decor in the common areas was incredible
The room was pleasant enough with a separate sitting and bed.
I unpacked then went for a swim, as much as the paddling pool permitted, it’s an OK pool for socializing then BOOK MAN registered for the con set up The Book Table in the dealer’s room.
The con organisers had grouped the authors together creating a little authors row. From left to right this consisted of Erik Buchanan, author of Small Magics and Cold Magics. Karen Dales Author of The Chosen Chronicles Stephen B. Pearl author of Tinker’s Plague, Slaves of Love and The Hollow Curse, who is this guy anyway anybody know? And Ira Nayman proprietor of the Alternative Reality News Service.
And so Book Man and Book Girl, Joy if you haven’t clued in, began the long hours of giving minor variations on my spiel and of course sharing Halloween candy with anyone who would eat it, so Joy and I wouldn’t have to.
This lead to my first panel
Friday November 19, 2010 7:00pm Gardenview room
How to write a synopsis. A synopsis is an important part of the submission package you will use to sell your novel. But what is a synopsis and how is it developed and polished? Is there an ideal length? How much detail should it include? Panellists discuss common problems and errors. (Erik Buchanan, Michael Martineck(M), Stephen B Pearl, Karl Schroeder)
This went very well with the general consensus being the synopses are hard but necessary. A few suggestions were.
1Take a sentence from each chapter as a key and use these to build the flow.
2 There is a big difference between a synopses to sell a finished book and a synopses to sell a book on speck.
3 If you have trouble, work out the key link words you’d use for the book on Amazon and the like as your stat point.
4 Avoid “Ly” words. (Adjectives and adverbs) especially suddenly, very and finally.
5 In writing, in general, look for and avoid superfluous characters. If you can combine two or more minor characters in to one do it.
6 If you are selling on speck don’t feel overly bound by the synopsis.
7 For blurbs look to the film industry for good examples.
8 As always, write to the publishers stated preferences.
9 Don’t get cute. This is a professional document so be professional.
10 Synopses don’t have to be boring.
11 If you are stuck just write the thing then edit. Write a synopses and don’t worry about the length then write a synopses of your synopsis then repeat until you have the length and quality you need.
12 Find your main theme and stick with that.
13 Don’t go into why your characters do things, it is enough to say they do them.
Does anybody want to question why I think aspiring writers should go to cons? It was a really good panel.
Friday November 19, 2010 9:30PM Stephen B. Pearl Reading
I was sharing space and time with Karen. Sadly we were opposite an awards ceremony and a publisher’s party. I had one person stay for my reading. He’d already read Tinker’s Plague, he apparently loved the book but forgot the first chapter made him squirm.
Then to the con suite where Book Man and Book Girl scarfed some Swedish meat balls and veggies. A general note regarding the Con suite. “Holly good chow, Book Man!”
Then to Saturday and as Book Girl managed the Book Table.
Saturday November 20, 2010 10:00 AM Courtyard room
Is Extinction Really Forever? Given that an extinct form of mouse has been cloned back into existence and dinosaur bone cells have been found in fossils, what are the ethical applications and limits of cloning technology? (Mark Offer, Stephen B. Pearl, Jane Carol Petrovich, Amanda Stock(M), Peter Watts)
This was a excellent discussion. At times a little over the head of this popular science fan and self avowed generalist, but really good. I’ve actually moderated my opinion somewhat in light of the information shared. Of course my co-panellists could have staffed a small university’s biology department. There was some debate about the viability of bringing extinct species back even if we (humanity) caused the extinction because of the lack of companion organisms such as the normal flora in the digestive tract. I still think that we need to grow up as a species and start taking responsibility for the damage we cause. I did get to quote Stan Lea in a science panel which was really cool. “With great power comes great responsibility”.
Then back to the Book Table, Book Man. Hung with the other authors talked to some nice folk. Joy checked out the art room. Then came.
Saturday November 20, 2010 3:00 PM Ballroom A
Biotech: Friend or Foe? This science holds out the possibility of supplying fuel while removing carbon from industrial emissions, regenerating cartilage restoring mobility to millions, curing human illness, generating plagues that are racially specific, destroying our food supply by killing off bees, converting farm land to deserts. A look at this double-edged sword and where it might take us, good and bad. (Eric Choi(M), Mark Offer, Stephen B Pearl, Alison Sinclair, Peter Watts)
Starters the consensus of us all was that you might as well say lug wrench, friend or foe, but in thinking of a title for the panel I took some artistic licence. For both the science panels I was really impressed by the turn out. Biotech seems to be on peoples minds. We reviewed and discussed many techs. I don’t think we came to any real conclusions beyond that we generally agreed that, thus far, we’ve treated the agricultural Biotech like a child who found his father’s gun. It did get people talking and a lot of folk in the audience were shocked by what’s being worked on. There was a consensus that Biotech is nothing new. From the first time somebody bred a domesticated animal we’ve practiced Biotech, it’s just the capacities of the tech have exploded in recent years. Rejection free, plentiful, transplant organs are on the horizon as well as modified crops that could destroy entire echo systems. Apparently orbital satellites can spot crops with a particular gene encoded into them. This whole field is wild.
Saturday November 20, 2010 4:00 PM Essex Hallway Autographs signed by Stephen B. Pearl, also signing at the table were Violette Malan and Douglas Smith.
This was a little slow but I did sign one autograph. Very nice guy who’s in the Canadian armed forces. Violette had the middle seat and we had a good chat. She is a very charming, well spoken woman. I will describe her as regal and mean it in only the best of ways. Unfortunately the table layout made it difficult for me to speak with Douglas, who in all our somewhat limited exchanges has seemed a great gentleman. Thus far I haven’t met an author I didn’t like. Now watch me find an arch nemeses at the next con I go to and we spend the next twenty years hating each other.
To the Book Table Book Man until the exhibitor’s room closed at 6:00 oh no 7:00, no it was 6:00 after all. As a whole the con was run really well, but there were some scheduling glitches like different times being listed for things in different locations. These things happen. If a minor hiccup like this is all I can find to complain about then you know they did a good job.
To the Book Cave um… Room to scarf down some food then the Masquerade where I once more performed, A Public Service Announcement, soon to be on a U tube screen near you.
Joy and I then hit the con suite, chatting fun and then on to the numerology panel. Unfortunately the person running this panel, famed numerologist Debra Yeung, was also running the charity auction, in which a copy of the great literary masterpiece Tinker’s Plague was sold. The auction was in support of the Regent Park Focus Youth Media Arts Centre and CUFF. The auction ran late and Debra was basically a no show for the panel. Fortunately, yours truly happens to have dabbled in Numerology, though I much prefer the Tarot or Norse Runes. It’s a matter of personal taste and inclination no reflection on the systems.
Thus the extremely near sighted led the blind and I did a short presentation encompassing pretty much everything I know of the art. Then I filled the time playing with Norse Runes. The audience seemed to have fun and Debra was pleased that someone was able to pinch hit. It’s something I learned a long time ago. If you are going to teach someone to count to ten, you only need to be able to count to twelve.
A quick stop by the Filking room and a drop in on a room party followed by a sleepless night. A bug grabbed me that weekend, but hay, why dwell?
Sunday November 21, 2010 10:00 AM Courtyard room
Why in the name of the Gods do they have panels at 10:00 am on a con Sunday? This sentiment was voiced by the entire panel who looked a little like an add for death, and not the good walking kind, when we arrived to discuss.
What do you mean my stake won’t work? Drive a stake into the vampire's heart and it is dead right? In traditional vampire lore that stake better be made of Oak, Ash of Thorn wood or you just made the vampire mad! How incorporating facts from actual mythology can add conflict and challenge to paranormal fiction. (Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Karen Dales(M), Douglas Smith, Stephen B Pearl)
This went well though I found an interesting dichotomy. The others seemed to think that since Vampires and the like are legendary they were completely open to redefining. I feel that the language becomes meaningless if words don’t retain meaning. Thus Vampires are destroyed by the sun and drink blood to survive ect. If a thing doesn’t adhere to these standards then it is not a vampire and should be thrown out of the country club. Also, as a student of the paranormal who has studied it since I was fifteen I find the loose reinterpretation of the terms a little untoward. It’s not anything to induce hostility over, it’s just different opinions about the usage. That said, we all agreed that the original myths could be a rich source of inspiration and give valuable insights into the characters.
Oh yes, another thing we all agree on is that like them or hate them there has been enough bashing of the Twilight books and movies.
After this it was back to the Book Table where Book Man slipped into an exhausted funk between pitches.
Over all, I must sing the praises of everyone involved in this con. It was great, enjoyable and despite my iffy health, I had a good time. I look forward to attending SFContario again next year.