A great con, RavenCon. Worth the trip to Richmond, VA and then some. Props to organizers Michael Pederson, Tony Ruggiero, and Tee Morris; the con's attendance increased by 50% over last year's event and I'm sure it's largely due to their top-notch work.
I also had the great fortune to have brunch Saturday morning with author GOH, Rob Sawyer. We talked about everything from IGMS, to his tenure as president of the SFWA, to the line of SF books he edits for a mid-sized Canadian publisher. It was a real treat to have him to myself for that long and I learned quite a lot. Later that evening I also got see first-hand the seriousness and professionalism with which he aproaches being GOH of at a con. When a larger group of us (including Rob) were making dinner plans, he insisted we eat in the hotel's restaraunt because he wanted to stay where the con was. Why? He wanted to be available for the people who attended. It's impossible not to respect that kind of dedication.
Rob's new novel, Rollback, was recently released and the first few chapters are available on his website (http://www.sfwriter.com/). Don't read the excerpt unless you're prepared to plunk down $25 for the hardback, because once you start reading, you'll have to own it.
Speaking of books, I also got a chance to see an Advance Review Copy of James Maxey's forthcoming novel, Bitterwood. Based on what I saw in the ARC and learned while talking to him, I'm really looking forward to its release in July of this year from Solaris Books. James' story "To Know All Things That Are In The Earth" appeared in issue three of IGMS and I think he's an incredibly talented writer.
Dennis Danvers was at RavenCon, too, and I got to hang out with him quite a bit. I met Dennis at CapClave last year and really enjoyed getting to know him better. At one point during the con we must have spent over half an hour discussing authors such as John Steinbeck and Milan Kundera. Not exactly standard fare at an SF con, but I enjoyed it immensely. One of the next novels I'll be reading is Dennis's The Watch, which he was kind enough to give me an autographed copy of.
And coming down from the DC area to RavenCon (for his first con ever) was Jamie Rubin. Jamie's story, "When I Kissed The Learned Astronomer", will appear in a future issue of IGMS. Though "Learned Astronomer" is Jamie's first published story, having met him myself I can say with confidence that it won't be his last; he's a sharp guy with a quick mind and a genuine love for the art of telling stories.
Speaking of telling stories, I could tell a bunch of stories about another author, David B. Coe (call him 'Dave' and he will punch your lights out). The only problem is that any "David stories" I could tell would also incriminate myself and we can't have that (can we?). Suffice to say that I don't recall ever having met another writer with whom I had so much in common or hit it off with so quickly. We had even more fun than we had alcohol, and the quantity of alcohol we consumed is another thing I'm not going to go into detail about. (I hear David had written a book or three, too...)(Actually between The LonTobyn Chronicle and Winds of the Forelands, I think he's up to nine of them (see: http://www.sff.net/people/davidbcoe/.))
I had a lot of fun working on a wokshop with with Allen Wold, Peter Prellwitz, and Mike Allen. Allen Wold has been running this particular workshop at SF cons for nearly twenty years now, where he give folks the basics of what makes an effective short story opening and then requires participants to write one - in ten minutes. It's actually very effective for getting the writing juices flowing and participants always comes up with something pretty good. I really believe that pressure is good for the creative process (up to a point). Once the story openings have been written, everyone takes turns reading theirs aloud and then the panelists give a brief critique. It's a real pleasure being able to help these (mostly) fledgling writers get pointed in the right direction.
I was also on a great panel with Kelly Lockhart, Stuart Jaffe and Tee Morris. The topic was the dangers of technology and it turned into one of those panels where two of us took one side and two took the other and we just went at it. But we went at it with a great blend of fervor and respect, which always makes for a fun, entertaining panel - both for the audience and the panelists. It was my last panel of the con and a great way to end things.
Next con: Balticon (May 25th - 28th).