A Great Time at BALTICON 50

BALTICON50_banner_1The major science fiction and fantasy convention in Baltimore turned fifty this year, and the organizers went all out. With George R. R. Martin as the Guest of Honor, and some seventeen previous GoH being there as well, this was a star-studded event.

I’m told attendance more than doubled the usual number, and from the way folks crowded the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, I can believe it.

Nobody would describe this convention as a well-oiled machine that ran like clockwork. Still, what impressed me was the good attitude of the attendees. Most people accepted the chaos as a given; they went with the flow.

I shared a book-signing table with author Paul Cooley, an engaging and entertaining guy. One fan, a pregnant woman, asked him to sign a book she intended to give to “Jude.” When Paul asked who Jude was, she patted her bulge. He told me it was the first time he’d signed a book for someone who hadn’t been born yet.

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Kelly A. Harmon

I managed to grab a pic of fellow author Kelly A. Harmon during the Broad Universe rapid-fire reading session. She captivated the room while reading from her latest novel, A Blue Collar Proposition, third in her Charm City Darkness series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At a later reading session, I had the pleasure to join authors Ming Diaz (left), Michelle Sonnier (second from right), and Goldeen Ogawa (far right). Ming is a natural storyteller, with a melodious voice that mesmerizes. Both Michelle and Goldeen read from unpublished manuscripts of theirs—sections from novels in progress. (I’m not brave enough to do that.) I read from “After the Martians.”

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Ming Diaz, me, Michelle Sonnier, and Goldeen Ogawa
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Goldeen Ogawa’s sketch inspired by “After the Martians”

Goldeen Ogawa served as our moderator and kept things lively and fun. She’s a graphic designer as well as a writer, and creates her own book covers. While Ming, Michelle, and I were reading our selections, Goldeen drew little sketches based on what she saw in her artist’s mind while we spoke. The sketch she drew for me is a great rendering of a Martian tripod fighting machine battling in a desolate landscape. Thanks, Goldeen!

After every convention, I come away charged up and full of story ideas. I get a vivid reminder of the devotion of science fiction and fantasy fans, their hunger for good stories, and their willingness to learn about undiscovered authors. BALTICON 50 will be long remembered by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

BALTICON 50 – My Schedule

I’ll be at BALTICON this weekend and hope to see you there. Here is my schedule:

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Saturday May 28     1:30 PM         Autograph Session

I’ll be available to sign books, along with Paul Cooley and David Lee Summers

Location: Renaissance – PDR Table 1

 

Sunday May 29       7:00 PM         Reading

I’ll be reading from one of my stories, along with Ming Diaz, Goldeen Ogawa, and Michelle Sonnier

Location: Renaissance – St. George

 

Perhaps you’ve read one or more of my stories, or maybe just read my blog posts. You’ve got an intense (and understandable) curiosity about me, and are eager to meet me. Here’s your chance. Go to BALTICON this weekend.

Oh, I understand there will be other writers there as well. Folks like George R.R. Martin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Michael F. Flynn, Harry Turtledove, Larry Niven, Connie Willis, and Joe Haldeman.  You may have heard of them, too.

More importantly, you’ll be able to chat, and shake hands, with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

After the Martians – the Cast of Characters

Today I’ll introduce you to the four major characters in my new book, “After the Martians.” The alternate World War I of my story has brought them together in and near the Black Forest of Western Germany in 1917, some 16 years after the Martians’ failed attempt to conquer the Earth.

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In order of their introduction in the story, let’s meet them.

  • Private Johnny Branch is seventeen, an American from Wyoming. The hero of my story, he’s enthusiastic about getting to fight in the war, and thrilled to be driving a Martian fighting machine, a tripod. He grew up listening to, and reading about, the Martian War. Like boys across the nation, he built rudimentary models of the fighting machines and waged little battles with toy tin soldiers, pretending to be Teddy Roosevelt in the Battle for Washington, D.C.
  • Second Lieutenant Henry Wagner is about twenty-three, and commands the fighting machine driven by Johnny. Their machine is part of Crazyhorse Troop, Tiger Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. He’s from Norristown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. He’s been in the war since the beginning and is now seasoned by battle, and quite skeptical about the war. He looks forward to the end of the war, when people can develop peaceful uses for Martian technology.
  • Frank Robertson is a photographer for “The American Magazine,” initially assigned to send back pictures to give the public a sense of the life of a doughboy. As the war has gone on and casualties have mounted, his editor tells him to snap some shots of American heroism and gallantry in battle, to keep up the patriotic spirit. However, it’s hard to get close to the action in a modern war, with Martian heat rays and poisonous black smoke.
  • Hilde Gottschall is an old German woman living in a wooden cabin on Feldberg Mountain. She lost her husband in the Martian War and her son in the Great War. After the death of her daughter-in-law, she lives alone with her infant grandson, Andreas Gottschall, whom she calls her Schätzchen (darling). She is cynical and angry about all wars.

In addition, there are a couple of minor characters with bit parts, but those four are the major ones. Each of the latter three influence Johnny in various ways as he matures toward full adulthood.

On a separate note, I’m hoping to speak on a panel or two at BALTICONBALTICON50_banner_1, the science fiction convention in Baltimore, next weekend. At a minimum, I’ll be signing my books on Saturday from 1:30 to 2:30, and I’ll be reading from one of my books on Sunday from 7:00 pm to 7:50.

I’ll post my complete schedule when it’s approved. If you’ll be in the area, you can meet, in person—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Pictures from BALTICON

During my book launch at BALTICON, friend and writer Kelly Harmon took some pictures of Steven R. Southard, my alter ego.

SteveReadingSteve2At the book launch of “Ripper’s Ring,” I described the story, passed around my 3D-printed version of the Ring of Gyges, and read an excerpt from the story.

It was the first time I had conducted a book launch at a con, and I learned some things about how to do it better next time.

My thanks to Kelly Harmon for taking the pictures. It’s much appreciated by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

What a Great Time at BALTICON!

Although I’ve attended the major science fiction and fantasy convention in Baltimore for many years, this year marked the first time I spoke as a participant. It’s been a wonderful experience!

b49_banner_1First, I spoke on a panel called “Being Out in Fandom.” It was about the issues faced by the LGBTQ community as fans at cons. My thanks to fellow panelists Stephanie “Flashcat” Burke and Hugh J. O’Donnell, and to moderator Jennifer R. Povey for helping me through that unfamiliar territory. I think I learned more than the audience!

I felt more conversant about being on the panel called “Engineers Can’t Write—Some Known Counter-Examples.” I had suggested that idea to the BALTICON staff, after all! I greatly enjoyed the experience with the other panelists Karen Burnham, Gary Ehrlich, and Walt Boyes. Jack Clemmons did a superb job as the moderator.

The next panel was part of the weekend-long tribute to the late C.J Henderson, who was the con’s Ghost of Honor. It was titled “Do You Want Pulp With That?” and we talked about what pulp fiction is, and Henderson’s forays into that realm. It was the first panel I’d ever moderated. I’m grateful to panelists John L. French, Michael Black, and Michael Underwood for keeping things interesting and informative for the audience (and for me).

On Sunday morning, I was honored to be in a reading session with Melissa Scott and Ada Palmer. (Despite the ‘ladies first’ adage, I should have gone first. I see that now.) After they read wonderful excerpts from upcoming works, I read a passage from “A Clouded Affair” in the anthology Avast, Ye Airships!

That afternoon, I sat at an autograph table with Jack McDevitt. Yes, the Jack McDevitt, winner of the Nebula Award, and recent winner of the Heinlein Award. He was wonderful to talk to, and a few of the fans who’d lined up for his autograph spent some time at my end of the table.

We had a packed session for a panel I moderated called “Bars, Inns, and Taverns: Fiction and Reality.” Panelists Katie Bryski, Ada Palmer, John Skylar, and Nathan Lowell kept it fun and instructive. BALTICON’s Guest of Honor, Jo Walton (Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell Award winner!), also attended and shared her knowledge of the history of English pubs.

Among those who attended the launching of my story “Ripper’s Ring” were friends Kelly A. Harmon and Trisha Wooldridge. I thank them both.

Late Sunday night, I moderated a panel called “Knowing That I Know That You Know: Xanatos Gambits and Chessmasters.” The only panelist was Grig Larson, who was both funny and knowledgeable about this rather arcane topic.

On Monday I moderated the “Long YA, Short YA” panel discussing the explosion in long novels for young adults. Panelist Michael Underwood and Compton Crook Award Winner Alexandra Duncan kept the audience engaged.

Lastly, I moderated one more panel on “Tropes in Young Adult SF/F.” The lone panelist, Alexandra Duncan, was marvelous in this one too. I’m learning how to be a panel moderator, and it’s nice when a skilled and expert panelist makes up for any shortcomings in the moderator, (like when he runs out of questions).

All in all, a spectacular weekend! My sincere thanks go to the BALTICON programming coordinators for giving me a chance. I’m grateful, as well, to all the more experienced authors I met who told me, and showed by example, how to have a successful convention.

This BALTICON will linger long and fondly in the memory of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Join Me at BALTICON this Weekend

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All right, Poseidon’s Scribe fans, here’s an opportunity for you. I’ll be speaking, and generally causing trouble, at BALTICON this weekend. BALTICON is the major science fiction and fantasy convention near Baltimore, Maryland.

Here’s my schedule (subject to change):

Date Time Topic
Friday 10:00 PM Being Out in Fandom
Saturday 10:00 AM Engineers Can’t Write? Some Known Counter-Examples
Saturday 1:00 PM Do You Want Pulp with That?
Sunday 11:00 AM Readings
Sunday 4:00 PM Autograph session
Sunday 8:00 PM Bars, Inns, and Taverns: Fiction and Reality
Sunday 9:15 PM Book Launch: Ripper’s Ring
Sunday 10:00 PM Knowing That I Know That You Know: Xanatos Gambits and Chessmasters
Monday 12:00 PM Long YA, Short YA
Monday 1:00 PM Tropes In Young Adult SF/F

For some of the panels I’m the moderator and for others a panelist. After years of sitting in the audience at these events, now I’ll be one of the authors doing the yakking. A new experience for me.

Stop by, say hi, and listen to the wit and wisdom of—

Poseidon’s Scribe