Writing on Tuesday Nov 27, but this actually happened over the weekend on Saturday Nov 24.

I went and hunted down breakfast in the restaurant again. We arrived a little late for the first session, but not by much.

The first session was Writing for Smart Kids and the panel was Gilden, Wrede, A. Turtledove and Smith. A. Turtledove turned out to be Harry Turtledove’s teenage daughter, who served as the “typical young adult reader”. The general consensus seemed to be that an author shouldn’t talk down to a young audience, or try to dumb down the material… kids are smart. I can’t actually think of anything they said you should do differently for a Young Adult audience… hmmm. Pat Wrede was asked “What inspired you to write X?” where X was some book she had written that I didn’t recognize, and Pat then gave her Rant about how Inspiration is overrated, and that a writer’s life is 90% Perspiration and 10% (or less) Inspiration. Another writer, Mel Gilden, took a moderate stance and said that all the little ideas that you string together to make a single work also count as inspiration.

I didn’t comment on this, since it was a bit off-topic for the discussion, but my opinion is that Inspiration is important, not to do your work for you, but to make the work more enjoyable. Perhaps the word “inspire” was not quite right for the question–this caused Wrede to go off on a bit of a tangent–it probably should have been asked as “What made writing X enjoyable for you?” or could even be shortened to “Why did you write X?” The premise is that writers write about a topic that is interesting to them, not a topic picked from a hat or from the marketing reports on what kinds of novels are selling well this year. I mentioned this to Michelle later, I think…

At 11:30 we attended Psychotic Fantasies with Hartman, Turtledove, Nazarian and Gilden. This was all about what it is like to write about “not quite sane” individuals as either heroes or villains. The discussion was interesting, but was hampered a bit by a rude audience member who kept commenting out of turn and interrupting people. I asked what it was like to write from the perspective of someone who is not quite sane or does things the writer himself would never do, and the consensus seemed to be that it was both difficult and rewarding (and also could be a release-valve of sorts.)

At 1:00 we went to Robocop Meets Real Cop which the panel was Cady, Hartman, Pournelle, Green and Hackworth. Two of these were real cops, two were writers, and one was a scientist? technician? working for a military equipment supplier on government contracts or something. The discussion revolved around what futuristic or dream technology cops would like to have in order to do their jobs better, and what scientific advances have revolutionized police work or might do so in the future. Unfortunately, reported the cops on the panel, no dramatic invention has removed or altered the “violent confrontation” aspect of police work… you will still have “us vs. them” and situations where you have to fight and subdue someone without killing or maiming them… there’s pepper spray and tazers but these are still not totally reliable and still kill and/or maim people from time to time. It was also generally agreed that we are a pretty long way off from having either a robot or AI or both to do the job for you, since you need to make decisions that are both quick, judicious, and custom-fitted to the situation by a human. On the brighter side, there have been lots of advances in communication, especially video cameras, personal wearable communication, telemetry that tells HQ when an officer is down and where he is, etc. Interesting discussion.

At 2:30 we grabbed some soup and brought it back to the same room for Victoria’s Secret. This one was all about why authors like to write stories set in the Victorian era, and featured S. Smith, Hambly, Shetterly, Bull and Gilden. There was general agreement that the Victorian era (including the States’ version involving steam engines and the frontier and all that) was a Great Time to be Alive, and it is much-romanticized by contemporary folks looking back. Victorian times were also the time when Science Fiction first appeared (with such as H. G. Wells and Jules Verne) and coincidentally (or not?) was when Horror and Western genres appeared too. Early Victorian writers scorned the New-Fangled Industry for its woes, but later Victorian writers took it as read that Industry was here and made technology play a prominent part in things. One important thing about Victorian-age technology was that it not only worked, it also looked good; everything made of metal had to be brass, and engraved, and shiny. In our modern world, we have machines that execute incredible technical marvels but look for all the world like boxes with a couple of flashing lights, which tendency has no sense of style at all.

We crept out a bit early to hear Pat Wrede read from some new work which would probably not be published for 18 months from now, it was about two women, both recently married, who both (along with each husband) go off on a joint post-wedding trip, along with a few others for good measure. It was a sequel to some work and one of the characters was named Kate, but more than that I can’t remember at the time of this writing.

There was another session-period at 4:00 but we decided to knock off for a bit and retire to our room. We emerged again for the masquerade at 7:30.

The Masquerade was supposed to start at 8:00 PM but due to a last-minute problem with the seating (where it conflicted with the light rigging, according to the Fire Marshall) so lots of seats had to be removed and we weren’t allowed to enter the room until 8:30 or so. The show didn’t start until 9:00 I think. Notable entries for costuming were God II The Sequel, In the Beginning (featuring authentic-looking old-style Star Trek uniforms and a red-shirt guy wearing “Shoot Me” on his back), and Wolverine and Nighthawk, (very well-done costumes). Oh and there was a dog dressed up as a turkey, that was cute. After the showing of costumes, there was judging, during which the audience watched the Virtual Masquerade (a video showing interesting hall costumes and interesting sights of the show, which went on probably twice as long as it should have) and then sat through the blood drive raffle, a couple other award presentations, and finally were presented with the judges’ decisions on the costume awards. I’m not sure who won what, really.

We finally escaped back to the room for some more reading and bed.

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