the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘ConText’ Category

Last weekend I was at Context in Columbus OH.  This small-ish SF/F convention is so casual and fun that it felt like a relaxicon.  Columbus is also a fantastic city to visit, with bookstores on nearly every corner, beautiful college campuses, historic neighborhoods, and a highway system that actually makes sense. While you are being so very patient to hear about my adventures, here are some photos to whet your appetite.


Warning: large photo files ahead.

Is that a panelist packet? why yes, yes it is!

Is that a panelist packet? why yes, yes it is!

pumpkin beer in a pumpkin glass.

pumpkin beer in a pumpkin glass.

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Warning: massive photo dump ahead.

Continuing my post from yesterday about the awesomeness of ConText26, on Saturday afternoon we went to a few more panels:

What Editors Want, with Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore, and Scott Sandridge. This was one of my favorite panels.  They talked about common errors seen in manuscripts  (such as not following submission guidelines, the story submitted doesn’t match the style of genre of the publication,  bad grammar), the author-editor relationship, and how the anthology editor decides what order the stories should in be. Frustration with not being able to take great stories came up more than once, where an editor was putting together a themed anthology and had to reject an excellent story simply because it had nothing to do with the theme.

Faith, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Sandridge

Faith Van Horne, John Joseph Adams, Jason Sizemore and Scott Sandridge

A big part of the discussion was What Do Editors Really Want?

– how did you put a different spin on the idea?

– how is your approach different to everyone else who has used the same device?

– originality is better than polish

– how is your character different? what do they care about? Why should the reader be interested in them?

– humor is a plus. Just make sure you are laughing because the author wrote it as a humor piece!

During the Q&A time I asked how they each got into editing, and what steps someone who is interested in that aspect of the business should take.  The advice was to volunteer as a slush reader to get a taste for it.

next, was:

Non-Human Characters, with Elizabeth Bear, Matthew Cook, Linda Robertson, Dave Creek, T. Lee Harris, and Scott Sandridge.  Another excellent panel! Be the character an animal, alien, shapeshifter or humanoid who isn’t human, they can’t just be the classic Star Trek “dude in a rubber suit”, or the person with nose ridges and lots of ear piercings. The authors talked about their techniques for writing non-human characters, which included tossing a lot of questions out to the audience. What sensory experiences does your character have (maybe they depend on smell?)? just because we are  base-10 doesn’t mean other creatures will be, especially if they don’t have 10 fingers.  What about symbiotic relationships? If you are on an alien planet, the environment of that planet will affect everything about the creatures who live there, everything from their physiology to their economy to their moral culture.

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I got to do a bunch of cool stuff last weekend.  Once of them (which encompassed all the other things) was attend ConText26, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Columbus, Oh.  As you can tell by the number after it’s name, ConText has been around for a while. Geared towards writers and publishers, this is a smaller convention. There was probably around 200 people there. In this case though, smaller is better. It makes for a casual and friendly atmosphere in which to learn and network.   As a “fan, non-writer”, I was in the minority. Nearly all the other attendees were writers, or involved with publishing, and interested in learning more about the craft.  I’m not a writer, but I was still fascinated by everything. Beyond panels and seminars, ConText offered a Filking concert, a Flash Fiction contest, a mass autograph session, a dealer room (to buy books to be autographed!), author readings, and of course, evening parties.

The best part was that I got to spend the weekend with my friend Elizabeth. She runs Dark Cargo, and she’s my partner in crime over at Bookstore Bookblogger Connection. She showed me around Columbus’s cool Victorian neighborhoods, took me on a bookstore adventure, introduced me to the local pizza and beer scene (Pies and Pints, FTW!), and generally ensured that I would have a #bestweekendever.  I met up with my friends John and Paul as well.


on Friday:

First panel was Liz Coley’s How To Make Your Words Shine. This was mostly about revising your drafts to get your manuscript ready for submission.  Everyone knows the basic grammar rules, but she touched on more subtle writing concepts, like adding sensory and textual descriptors (use your senses other than sight!), verbal patterns that it is easy to fall into (such as using too many adverbs) and other tips.  In my brain, what she was talking about was the engineering behind the artwork, the act of putting in the foundation last so the surface can glimmer with the texture you originally planned for it.  She suggested using the “find/replace” function to make sure the same words or phrases aren’t used over and over again, or twice in one sentence.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.