Monday, May 25th, 2009

Balticon – Day 4 – This is the End…

I really enjoyed myself, met a lot of great people, but (oh, boy!) am I tired.

Many attendees have already made their way back home, and attendance is light on this, the final, day.

I attended Networking 101 in the morning (fabulous!), and spent the afternoon in a four-hour seminar called How to Teach Science Fiction and Fantasy. Catherine Asaro presented an excellent session on including hard science in stories if you’re not a scientist (a common complaint of young students.)

I’m not a teacher, by training or trade, but I found the seminar useful on so many levels…

Tomorrow: a trip to BWI to send-off my friend…and then back to the mundane grind.

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Balticon – Day 3 – Need I say More?

Roxanne Bland and Her Really Cool Dragon Head

Author Roxanne Bland carries the dragon head mask she won at the Reading is Fundamental auction.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Balticon Day 2 – Another Late Night

Today I moderated a panel on Pitching One-Liners to Sell Your Novel with several really good authors and publishers:

Jonathon Mayberry
David J. Williams
Nancy O. Green
Neal Levin (Small Press Publisher)

The panel drew a fairly large audience, many of whom appeared to be seeking representation. The panel was easy to moderate with such good members and thoughtful questions.

It epitomized what I love about intimate cons like Balticon: the speakers provided excellent information during the panel and then offered to provide additional info via email for anyone who was interested.

(And Jonathon came up with a really good pitch for a book I’d love to read: “Curious George Meets Hannibal Lecter”)

I was also on the What is Social Media? panel. The other panelists were clearly friends and had worked or hung out together a lot: always an awkward situation for the odd-man-out. My experience stemmed more from my day job than from a fiction perspective, but I think overall it was well received. Many thanks to the moderator, Tee Morris, for keeping me involved in the discussion. (Tee is the author of Podcasting for Dummies and other technical and fictional things…)

Finally, I and several members of Broad Universe, read from our writing. The room was small, but packed. Readers included Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Trish Wooldridge, Gail Z. Martin, and Jean Marie Ward, who, like me, read from a dragon tale.

Later in the evening I got to attend a panel on Start Up Rituals for Writers. I thought it would be a lot of fun to discuss the various quirks of famous writers, but the panel quickly devolved into a talk about ‘what to do for writers block.’ There was also a lot of discussion about finding inspiration in a hotel bar.

The best part of the panel was meeting Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano who produce the “Trail of Indiscretion” Magazine and run Fortress Publishing, Inc. Brian’s title is “CEO, CFO, President, Editor-in-Chief, Writer, Megalomaniacal Genius.” Chris’s title is COO, CCO, Vice-President, Writer, Spiritual Philanthropist.” (This means he gives hugs.) So…judging from their titles, you can guess that these guys were a lot of FUN. They really livened up the panel. (Chris and Brian will write you a haiku for a nickle if you buy a copy of one of their books,” but I handed Brian a quarter and bribed him to write me one based on “Curious George Meets Hannibal Lecter.” Here it is:

Haiku Written on a Business Card

(I did buy the latest copy of “Trail of Indiscretion”…great short stories and some awesome comics. It’s well worth $5.)

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Balticon… A Lot of Fun (So far)

I had no panels or readings today, but found myself busy enough that I fell into bed exhausted by the end of the day.

I picked up my fellow-writer-friend Trish Wooldridge at the (Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) at 8:30 a.m. (!) and we scooted down to the Inner Harbor for coffee and Italian almond cookies at Vaccarro’s in the Light Street Pavillion.

Being the writer geeks that we are, we headed over to the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum – unfortunately located in a not-so-great part of the city. A manned police car sits outside all day long so that visitors aren’t accosted by the locals. In order to enter the museum, you have to knock on the door and wait for the curator to unlock it and let you in.

The house is tiny, and it’s hard to imagine how five people lived in the household without stepping on each others nerves.

Except for one item, all things in the house are reproductions, but it’s still interesting to see the photos and city directories and playbills.

The one authentic item in the home is Poe’s lapdesk which he used when he attended University of Virginia. The curator referred to it as Poe’s “laptop.” (This satisfies both my writerly geekiness and my tech geekiness….can’t get any better than that!)

Here’s a photo of me (my hair wild from Baltimore humidity) standing beside Poe’s laptop.

Kelly A. Harmon and Edgar Allen Poe's 'Laptop'

Of course, after we visited Poe’s House, we had to visit his grave. Here it is…

Egar Allen Poe's Grave

Poe is buried in the Westminster Hall Cemetery which is an old, estasblished graveyard. Age and elements have eroded most of the slender gravemarkers, but there are large monuments protecting the mouldering bones of several former Baltimore residents famed for their part in the Revolutionary War.

(I love graveyards. They’re beautiful and serene…and wonderful places to sit down write (quiet and inspiring!).

After the Baltimore tour, we drove to the Con and met up with other writers from Broad Universe and got our schedules straight for the rest of the weekend.

Tonight is the Steampunk Ball. Here’s a photo of Jean-Marie Ward (and some guy I don’t know!) in their dance finery.

Jean Marie Ward at the Steampunk Ball - Balticon

More tomorrow as the convention continues…

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Balticon, Here I Come…

It’s official! Today I received my final scheduling update for Balticon. I’m participating in four events:

  • A Rapid-Fire-Reading with Some Other Members of Broad Universe
  • “High Noon in Fantasyland” Panel (Did Fantasy Kill the Western?)
  • What is Social Media? Panel
  • Developing One-Liners to Pitch Your Book to Media Panel
  • I’m really looking forward to the Rapid Fire Reading. This is where I, and several other members of Broad Universe, get to read from something we’ve published or from works-in-progress. Because it’s “rapid fire,” the audience will hear only 5-7 minutes from each author. It gives several of us an opportunity to showcase our work and keeps listeners attentive because the subject matter changes frequently. All of the RFRs I’ve attended or participated in have played to packed rooms.

    At first I was leery about participated in the “High Noon” panel…but after doing a little research and giving myself a chance to think about it…I’ve decided I do have an opinion on the matter. I’m really looking forward to the discussion.

    I work with Social Media a lot with my day job — especially lately…but there are some very talented people on the panel who live and breathe by social media. It should be very informative for all who attend.

    The One-Liners panel should be very good, too. I’m hoping to learn as much during the panel as I’m able to contribute.

    Here’s my Balticon schedule. Click on the Index to poke around for more information….or go to the Balticon Home Page.