Wednesday, May 30, 2007

BaltiCon Report

BaltiCon is a four day convention, of which there are precious few that run quite so long. And now I remember why: four days is a lot of convention. I enjoyed myself, spent time with a lot of good folks, snuck out to a nearby theater and saw the third installment of Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" (a monumental waste of time and money; it made me wish I were watching "Waterworld"), attended some parties and book launches, but good God, I was burned out by time all was said and done. That's why I'm writing this entry today instead of yesterday. Yesterday I got my bike out and pedaled 26+ miles and wallowed in the solitude. I needed time to decompress.

I think my best panel was Friday night's "How To Hook an Editor," co-starring Diane Weinstein, former art director and assistant editor at Weird Tales, and Joshua Bilmes, literary agent and founder of Jabberwocky literary agency. The panel morhped from "How To Hook an Editor" to "The Cold Hard Truths About the Publishing Industry" and not a punch was pulled. I think the audience appreciated that. Afterward Joshua and I went out to dinner and talked everything from publishing industry stuff to baseball (did you know he's a Toronto Blue Jays fan?). It was a very enjoyable evening.

Saturday morning I didn't have anything scheduled so I visited family in the area, then attended some panels (apparently not very memorable ones because I can't recall what they were), then had dinner with author Jana Oliver (whose novel Sojourn was one of this year's nominees for the Compton Crook Award) and a friend of Jana's, author Jean Marie Ward. Jana is someone I'm crossing paths with a lot lately and I always enjoy whatever time I can spend with her.

Sunday was probably my most enjoyable day at the con, despite the fact that the con organizers double-booked me and I ended up missing a panel I was really looking forward to ("Sky Finances," a panel about the future of commercial ventures in space). In fairness the organizers did give me the option of choosing which one I wanted to sit in on, but given that there were six people scheduled for "Sky Finances" and only three scheduled for "WebSite Workshop for SF Professionals," I told the organziers I would go where ever they needed me and their choice was pretty obvious.

And that reminds me what I did on Saturday and why I blocked it out: I was on a panel called "Managing Your Freelance Career" - a panel that had seven participants show up, including one charming man who told us that since the panel had been his idea he went and insisted the organizers include him in the panel even though they had not originally scheduled him to be on it. The next time I get to a room with more than five program participants I will forever more politely bow out. Seven people - no matter how quaified they all may be - is too many for any single panel.

Back to Sunday, despite the double-booking it was still my favorite day, largely because of time I got to spend with friends from an on-line writer's group called Codex. I'm not an active member there, though I have been in the group since 2004. It's full of a lot of talented, up-and-coming writers and I always enjoy time I can spend with any of them. Six of us went to lunch together on Sunday - Ruth Nestvold (who has collaborated with Jay Lake on a number of stories, as well as writing tons of her own), Elaine Isaak, who had several fantasy novels out through Eos Books, Andrew Cudgel and Scott Roberts, both published in the 2005 edition of Writers of The Future, (Scott was also published in the first issue of InterGalactic Medicine Show (back in the good old days when it was edited by Uncle Orson)), and Lawrence Schoen, also widely published in the short story world and now a publisher himself, being the brains, financial brawn, and co-editor behind a short story collection called Prime Codex. Prime Codex is an assemblage of stories written by members of Codex, stories that were orignally published in magazines like Asimovs and IGMS to name a few. It's a good read if I do say so myself, and I'm not even in the book :-( Lawrence had a book launch party Sunday afternoon. I was a little late because I donated blood at the drive set up my members of the local Robert Heinlein Society, but the launch somehow managed to proceed fine until I got there ;-)

Monday I did a couple more panels, but as soon as the last one was over (and I did a quick interview with a podcaster who worked with the organizers of last month's RavenCon), I was in my car and firing up a book-on-tape to entertain me during my six hour drive. I was ready to go home. As I said before, it was a long con.

And I've got another one next weekend... *sigh*

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BaltiCon 2007

I'll be leaving first thing Friday morning for BaltiCon. Looking forward to the con, if not the drive. Cons are always lots of fun. The seven-plus hour drive up? Not so much. I've got a bunch of books on tape to keep me company though, which should be good. In a previous life I had a job that periodically required lots of driving, so I listened to loads of books on tape.

My schedule of panels is a bit light, but that just leaves more time for socializing and the dealer's room right? I've got:

How To Hook an Editor - Friday 7 pm (Belmont Room)

Managing a Freelance Career - Saturday 4 pm (Salon E)

Sky Finances - Sunday 5 pm (Derby Room) (This one is about the future of the space program, including possible commercial ventures. Looking forward to this one...)

Tony Ruggiero's Quick Write - Monday 11 am (Garden Room)

Come Ask The Author About Writing - Monday 1 pm (Chase Room)

That's about all for now. I'll give you a detailed report when I get home.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Read and Riding

Reading and riding. I tried to think of something "math-y" I've done lately so I could be clever and call this entry "Reading, Riding, and 'Rithmetic" but no such luck. In a nutshell, reading and riding make up the bulk of what I've been doing lately. The reading part is of story submissions for IGMS. As I mentined last week, now that we finally (fingers crossed) have the last of the scheduling issues resolved, I'm reading like mad to get caught up on the last of the stories I've been holding. I've got about 50 or so left and should have this done in the next ten days to two weeks. So if you've been holding your breath for several years waiting on a reply, know that the end is near.

The other thing I've been doing a lot more of lately is cycling. In preparation for my planned 300+ mile bike tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway next month (from roughly Bedford VA to Asheville NC), I've been increasing the distance and duration of my bike rides. Usually I ride 11 - 13 miles each time out, 3 or 4 days a week. By cycling standards that's a pretty light workout. Two weeks ago I upped it to between 15 and 20 miles each trip and have been riding 4 or 5 days a week; and yesterday I did a total of about 35 miles (24 on the morning ride and then a quick 11 in the afternoon). Considering that the shortest leg of my Parkway ride is set for 45 miles (and some are considerably longer), I've go a ways to go before I'll feel like I'm ready. Still, it's progress, eh? The legs are kind of achy today, but that's all right: Sunday is a day of rest.

In other news, I got a cryptic e-mail from the publisher of NCCNM on Friday saying that future issues of NCCNM have been cancelled, but that she wanted me to call her so we could talk about something else she has in mind. She didn't say what, only that she had 'something' else. This was a surprise considering that we just met a few weeks ago to discuss the Fall and Winter issues. She even talked during that meeting about the possibility of taking the magazine from regional publication to national in 2008. I'm curious to find out what she has in mind, but I got her e-mail too late on Friday to call her, so it will have to wait until Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hatrack Forums Restored

Minor item, but it looks as if all the Hatrack-related forums are up and running again. If anyone has any problems with them, feel free to let us know.

Friday, May 11, 2007

IGMS Announcement

I’ve got an official announcement, then a few follow-up details:

“Beginning with Issue 5, InterGalactic Medicine Show will be published on a quarterly basis with a new issue coming every three months. There will be a new Ender’s world story as part of each issue, but that story won’t necessarily be released in conjunction with the issue. For example, OSC’s story “Gold Bug” which was slated to go in Issue 4 was co-opted by Marvel Comics to become a bonus story in their Wyrms graphic novel. Therefore, OSC now has to write a new story for Issue 4. “Gold Bug” will eventually be one of the IGMS stories.

However, please rest assured that your payment for Issue 4 does include an Ender’s world story, and it will be added to that issue as soon as it is written.

Additionally, in order to keep our commitment to quarterly issues, when the time comes to post each new issue, if the Ender story is not ready, we’ll go online without it and add it as soon as it’s available.”

Ultimately what this amounts to is two main things: 1) The obvious: The magazine will be released quarterly, whether Scott’s story is ready or not. I believe that in the long run this is what’s in the best interests of the magazine.

2) The less obvious: This will simplify the lives of the writers submitting to IGMS.

Here’s why. Though I’m current on reading 95% of the submissions, there are still a handful of folks who have been waiting a looong time for a reply. However, if you have not heard from me and your story was submitted more than 100 days ago, take heart: all that means is that I like your story and have been waiting to sort some of these publishing/scheduling matters out.

The reason for the delay is precisely because we were having trouble publishing issues on a regular basis. Previously Scott didn’t want to go forward with a new issue until his Ender story was published in the most recent issue. His first priority has to be the novels, screenplays, and other projects that produce income. IGMS pays professional rates to both the artists and authors whose works appear in each issue, as well as paying the regular columnists whose work appears for free. And right now most of that money is coming out of Scott’s pocket, so his paying work has to come first. Unfortunately that results in him not having time to write the Ender stories as punctually as he’d prefer. It’s quite the Catch-22 (at least as far as IGMS is concerned).

Getting back to my original point, I have been hesitant to buy too many stories because if I bought a year’s worth of stories based on a quarterly publishing schedule, but we continued publishing two issues a year instead of four (which has been the case thus far) – well…, I think the problem is obvious. Authors could be waiting as long as two to three years to see their stories published, and I didn’t want to do that to anyone. So I made, for better or worse, a conscious choice to sit on a few things for six months (until this issue was resolved), rather than risk making some folks wait several years.

Now the matter is resolved though. Our target date for publication of issue 5 is mid-June, a new issue will be published every three months after that, and I now know exactly how many stories I need and can proceed accordingly.

Please feel free to join me as I breathe a deep sigh of relief…

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Million Writers Award (x 4)

Each and every year StorySouth ( lists, by way of its Million Writers Award, what it considers the best short stories published on-line that year. I'm tickled to announce that InterGalactic Medicine Show had four stories honored thus for 2006. :

"In the Eyes of the Empress's Cat" by Brad Beaulieu from issue 2, and

"Dream Engine" by Tim Pratt,

"Small Magics" by Alethea Kontis, and

"The Box of Beautiful Things" by Brian Dolton from issue 3.

IGMS tied for the third most stories on the list (with Strange Horizons, Baen's Universe, and a few others). Congratulations to the authors of these fine stories, whose work is notable indeed.

To see the full list visit StorySouth at:

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Hatrack Forums

What's going on with the recent inaccessibility of the Hatrack Website, and especially the forums? I've been asked that a bunch lately and finally have an answer. The short version is that someone, somehow, got into the Hatrack system and was using it to send copious amounts of spam, so the ISP that handles Hatrack's account shut them down.

OSC's web guru has been working seven days a week trying to remedy the situation and many of the key pages have been restored, but the forums (for technical reasons beyond my ken) remain problematic and it is possible that they may have to be rebuilt from scratch. Pray that that's not the case because if it comes to that then all of the old posts will be lost. I'll gladly continue to provide updates as I get new information myself, but at the moment that's what I can tell you.