From My Side of the Page

I think my reading went well…

Tori and Dominique at our Afternoon Tea

As I mentioned in last week’s Wandering, I decided to debut my new “Artemis Awakening” series  at this year’s Bubonicon.  That’s the new series I just sold to Tor Books.  I was reading from the first book, Huntress.

Well, I printed out the first three chapters and took them with me.  Since I had been working on getting enough of the second Stephanie Harrington manuscript done so that I could print Jim something to start reading for me on Monday, I didn’t have time to do a practice reading.

So there I am, sitting on some weird bit of hotel furnishing at the front of the room, checking out the lighting.  Yep.  No way I can do this without my magnifiers…  Oh, well.

One thing I don’t like about doing a reading this way is that the various focal lengths mean I can’t look up at the audience as easily.  Still, people chuckled in the right places, which was a relief.  And several people snagged me over the course of the weekend and told me they had enjoyed the reading, so I think the story went over well…

Funny thing is, the person doing the reading is actually the last person to know.  I once talked to David Case, a professional reader for audio books.  He told me that often he had no idea what it was he was reading.  His focus was on reading slightly ahead, making sure he got the accents and pacing right.  I find I have much the same problem. Worse is that, with my vision at a stage when it’s shifting rapidly, if I look away – say to check the time – I can find myself reading from two lines at the same time…

I’m always horribly embarrassed, but the audience was pretty patient.

So you’ll need to ask the people who were there what they thought of the story.  I do want to thank the large number of people who came.  The turnout was really quite flattering, especially since registration had been open a bare two hours.  Moreover,  I was reading right when the Art Show opened, opposite both another reading and another panel.  So, thanks for making the effort.  I did notice.

Bubonicon this year was at a new, larger hotel.  This created a distinct disconnect for those people like me who have been going to the convention since it was so small that it only had two tracks of programming (they’re up to five).  The tracks were basically a room with panel discussions and a room for readings.  I rather liked when the convention was that small.  For one thing, you could talk to just about anyone you met and be certain that you’d been at the same events.  That just doesn’t happen now.

Still, Bubonicon remains solid gold as a convention where a lot of people attend programming.  I’ve talked to friends “back East” who joke that it’s a successful panel if the audience outnumbers the panelists.  That’s never a problem at Bubonicon.  This year I was only on two panels, but both of them were in the same huge room and both of them were filled front to back.  True, I was on the panels with some heavy hitters (Brandon Sanderson and Carrie Vaughn for both) but my solo talk on writing series endings drew somewhere between eighty and ninety people – and that’s a rough and possibly conservative estimate.

In fact, the con chairs commented that Bubonicon was one of the rare conventions where the Opening Ceremonies are standing room only.

One of the events Jim and I went to as audience members was the Artist Guest of Honor’s presentation.  This year we were blessed with a versatile, talented,  and very funny Artist GOH in Ursula Vernon.  I love artist presentations because these are creative people who tell their stories in a different way.  Those of you who know Ursula Vernon’s work (and I’m sure many of you do, as she’s up for a Hugo this year) know she is also a writer.  Those communications skills meant that she was able to talk about her process in a manner that non-artists could follow easily – without, I think, dumbing it down for those who are fellow practitioners.

Jim and I got a bonus from attending.  After the Mass Signing  – (thanks to all of you who dropped by, especially to those of you who were excited to see Changer and Changer’s Daughter available again) – we went out to grab a quick dinner before going to the costume contest.  We saw Ursula walking with her partner, Kevin, ahead of us on the sidewalk.  I’d wanted to thank Ursula for agreeing to pour at the Afternoon Tea and to tell her how much I liked her presentation, so I called out.  The four of us ended up going searching for the elusive Pei Wei restaurant and, failing to find it (we stopped two blocks short), we ended up at a Japanese steakhouse.

Turns out that not only did we share a fondness for SF/F, we were all gamers, so it wasn’t hard to find things to talk about.  In fact, we ended up missing the costume contest…

Yeah…  It was a good convention.   Maybe next week I’ll talk about the return of Bill Scott…  But that would lead me into one of those crazy discussions about writing and characterization, so I’ll save it.  Let me know if you’re interested!  And if you have any thoughts about this year’s Bubonicon, I hope you’ll post them in the comments.  Like I said, the convention has gotten so big, I feel as if I’m missing most of it!

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15 Responses to “From My Side of the Page”

  1. paulgenesse Says:

    Hi Jane,

    I know exactly what you mean about the readings. Sometimes I wonder how it came across to the audience, especially when I read “serious” passages from stories or books. The “humorous” passages are easy to gauge, as people are laughing or reacting in some way.

    The first time I read from something is always scary for me, so I think I know exactly how you feel.

    That’s great that you had a good convention. I’m on my way to World Con tomorrow.

    Congrats again on the new series!

    Paul Genesse

  2. Ursula Vernon Says:

    Hee! Thank you–learning to talk coherently about a mostly non-verbal process like painting definitely required a few years worth of practice before I was able to say anything but “You know! It’s like–like–YOU KNOW!” (wild hand gestures)

  3. heteromeles Says:

    Sounds like a great time, and I’m glad the reading went well. I hope the rooms were warmer in this new hotel.

  4. Sally Says:

    I print my readings out in 14pt. in the most easily readable font I can find. It helps. Making sure you get back to the right spot when you look away is still a problem, though…

  5. CBI Says:

    Since it was requested, some comments on Bubonicon.

    1. One of the things I enjoy is chatting with other attendees. When I saw Dominique’s and Tori’s picture, I was reminded of that fact, since I had nice — albeit too short — chats with each of them.

    2. I used to avoid the author “readings.” That was because I hadn’t thought things through and was acting in ignorance. (In other words, I was stupid.) Now I try to go to several.

    3. First off, almost all the authors reading are interesting in themselves. But second, and moreso, it is an opportunity to *learn* about some of what their writing style is like. That works both ways. Dr. Lindskold’s reading, as others have noted, was quite good, and I will definitely purchase the book when it comes out. On the other hand, another author I listened to at Bubonicon enabled me to not read his books in the the future: although personally a nice enough person, I disliked his style enough that I’d probably only read it if required in a class.

    4. I also got to wondering if those authors with a more “classical” English literature degree — especially those who’ve been professors — had a definite /je ne sais quois/ edge in their writing. Jane mentioned C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, both of whom fit that description. Not always, and not ubiquitously, but often enough to be noticable.

    5. I wonder: what are the ethics and protocol when an author is reading a draft, and one notices a prickling inconsistency or physics problem? That occurred this weekend, and I elected to keep silent (for the rest of the reading was great), but I don’t know if I actually ended up cheating the author or politely avoiding an insult of the author.

    6. In chatting with other attendees, I noticed that many from out of state were very, very commending of Bubonicon. (I myself will state that the Bubonicon organizers do a bang-up job.) A couple of times, peope from a state that will remain nameless, north of ours, stated that they had stopped going to their local, big-city, convention with its national reputation, and instead came only to Bubonicon. I was very surprised to hear that, since the only SF conventions I’ve ever attended have been Bubonicon, so that forms the baseline of my impression. So, when Jane calls Bubonicon “solid gold”, she isn’t blowing smoke. She is just being honest.

    7. If Jane was embarrassed during her reading, she covered it up very well. She was herself, and that was most appropriate.

    8. The panel discussions. I enjoy these very much, for they *challenge* me to think. The ones I attended this year were overall well conducted and interesting. (Some of you may know that I came to be a reader of Jane’s works *not* because of the recommendations of others, but because I was so dang impressed with how well she served as moderator of a discussion panel at a Bubonicon long ago.) Seriously, this is the first year in which I can readily proclaim that every panel moderator did an adequately good job, and most were excellent. It was especially enheartening to see how one moderator (remaining nameless) had improved over the past few years.

    9. Again, a highlight of Bubonicon was the Authors’ Tea. Dr. Lindskold is always surprised at how well it is received, but I’m not. A kudos to Patti Nagle for her organization, and to Jane, Jim, Chris, and Joan for their foundational work to make it happen.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Great comments…

      Actually, I mention C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien often because they are authors I can be sure most of my audience is familiar with. An example that means nothing or forces research is rather useless.

      I think your query about “how to tell an author” is so interesting I’m going to save it for next week.

      Short answer: off-stage and politely!

  6. Ann M Nalley Says:

    It sounds like a marvelous but exhausting convention! I’m looking forward to reading the new series when it becomes available! Thanks for sharing your experience for those of us who can’t join you!

  7. Rowan Says:

    We had wondered where you were during the costume competition! Sounds like you had a fun distraction. Ms. Vernon was fantastic, so well worth talking to.

    Your reading was great. I am so excited for this book, you have no idea.

    I liked the convention, though I think that the awkwardness of the new venue and having been away for two years made it not my absolute best ever. I think next year, when I may be a little more prepared and all, will be better!

    • janelindskold Says:

      So glad you’re excited about _Huntress_. I am, too.

      Remember, Bubonicon wants feedback from all types of participants. They honestly care a lot about making it the best type of convention possible.

  8. Paul Says:

    The first WorldCon I attended was probably smaller than Bubonicon, but you got to interact with many attendees and authors. When I attended my only other, it had grown so large that there was no time or space to interact with anybody. Smaller was better. On author corrections, I’m reminded of the late Ray Bradbury recalling a 10-year-old boy asking if he remembered, on page 92 of “The Martian Chronicles,” about having the moons rise in the east. “I said ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘No.'”

  9. Tori Says:

    I thought your discussion on ‘endings’ was fascinating, and I’m sure it helped and inspired many of the budding novelists who attended. Very excited to read _Huntress_ when it is released.

    T’was lovely meeting Ursula and Kevin! I hope they decide to come visit again. Bubonicon retains a friendly atmosphere that makes it easy to talk to the guests. I had a great time chatting with the usual suspects too. 🙂

  10. Hilary Says:

    Sorry this is late, but:

    I’ve decided this last Bubonicon was one of the best I’ve attended. I liked that there was more room, because last year was so packed everywhere. I only regret I didn’t have enough time to talk to everyone at length because it seemed like I was always having only ten minute conversations with everyone I saw. Also, I forgot my huge stack of books to be signed and never got to meet Brandon Sanderson. But hopefully he’ll come back another time…

    You already know I liked your reading.

    And the Tea was great, as usual. 😀

    • Hilary Says:

      (Oh, and as an addendum, I had no idea Ursula Vernon was the author/artist behind Digger and the Little Creature Stories. Now I really hope she comes back because I didn’t get to talk to her really either! (And no wonder her art looked familiar…))

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