World Fantasy Convention Wrap-Up

This was my first World Fantasy Convention. I’ve never been to one, so I was a bit surprised at the lack of panels, however conversation with friends old and new made up for everything that was lacking. 

I got to meet some very wonderful people at this convention namely, the sweet Christie Yant, the wonderful Brenda Cooper, Functional Nerd Patrick Hester, SF Signal Guru John “Turturo” DeNardo and the Goddess otherwise known as Cat Valente. While there I chatted with the likes of Brent Bowen, John Anealio and Nick Mamatas. I met some of the rest of the super awesome Clarkesworld staff;   Nayad Monroe, Daniel Robichaud and Jamie Lackey were amazing.  Altered Fluid members, Matt Kressel, Paul Berger, David Mercurio Rivera and Raj Khanna were ever awesome in both their companionship and spirit.  I gave hugs to Sarah Goslee, Jeff Hentosz, and Jeremy Tolbert and talked quite awhile with a Ferrett. There are of course others, and I hate to name drop, but these were the people with whom I conversed the most.

The ever nice and born-to-give-me-hell Neil Clarke was there along with Sean and Jen Wallace. They happened to bring their newborn twins along and I was in heaven the few hours I got to spend rocking and holding. Unfortunately the rumor I tried to start that one of the girls was Neil Gaiman and my love child failed to take off, but more than one person congratulated Neil Clarke and I on our new twins as we tried to get the Wallace babies to sleep for their REAL parents.

Speaking of rumors, you might have heard that I record my narrations in one take, with no mistakes. This is absolutely true. More on that later, but I did enjoy coming home to these tweets:

  1. atfmb  FYI – @Kate_Baker Rocks. She is The Voice & The Legend. That is all.
  2. daemonrange @Kate_Baker And the legend of “one-take Kate” lives on … Glad we could contribute to the smoky voice. 🙂

Note to self – prepare a box to ship the bag o’books home that you receive at the convention. I was cursing myself that I hadn’t as I dragged what felt like 50 lbs around the airport on connections. Speaking of airports and airlines, the con got off to a rocky start when I arrived to Columbus to no checked bag. According to Delta, my bag was running up a bar tab in Detroit. After repeated calls, they finally delivered it to the hotel around midnight.

Despite my claims of being socially awkward, I did have a fantastic time and it was thanks to all those wonderful people mentioned above. Would I go again to a WFC? Absolutely. Maybe not San Diego next year, although my love child’s father is the GOH, but most definitely to Toronto.

Where I Annouce Awesome Things!

So I totally missed the bandwagon last Wednesday and forgot to blog about Sybil’s Garage No 7. Despite having hit the social networks like Twitter and Facebook, I still wanted to show you the awesome cover and links here as well. Isn’t she absolutely gorgeous?

Table of Contents

Fiction

I know that she will live forever

“By Some Illusion” — Kathryn E. Baker
“Suicide Club” — Amy Sisson
“The Noise” — Richard Larson
“A History of Worms” — Amelia Shackelford
“Thinking Woman’s Crop of Fools” — Tom Crosshill
“The Unbeing of Once-Leela” — Swapna Kishore
“How the Future Got Better” — Eric Schaller
“The Telescope” — Megan Kurashige
“Under the Leaves” — A.C. Wise
“The Ferryman’s Toll” — Sam Ferree
“The Tale of the Six Monkeys’ Tails” — Hal Duncan
“The Poincaré Sutra” — Anil Menon
“Kid Despair in Love” — M.K. Hobson
“My Father’s Eyes” — E.C. Myers
“An Orange Tree Framed Your Body” — Alex Dally MacFarlane
“The Watcher Thorn” — Cheryl Barkauskas
“Other Things” — Terence Kuch
“The Dead Boy’s Last Poem” — Kelly Barnhill

Poetry

bombs raining down on everyone

“Seven League”s — Lyn C. A. Gardner
“One October Night in Baltimore” — Jaqueline West
“Indian Delight” — Alexandra Seidel
“Candle for the Tetragrammaton” — Sonya Taaffe
“Emigrant” — Linsdey Duncan
“Schehirrazade” — Amal El-Mohtar
“The Hyacinth Girl” — Adrienne J. Odasso
“Pathways Marked in Silver” — Marcie Lynn Tentchoff
“Rain ” — Juliet Gillies

Non-Fiction

“Glourious Homage: Quentin Tarantino’s Love Letter to Cinema” — Avi Kotzer ««click to read now

Did you see that? I am the opening story! When I saw the proofs of the anthology, I sent a letter back to Matt Kressel and was like, “Really? You’re putting me first?” How exciting!

Sybil’s Garage No. 7 can be purchased at the following places:

Sybil’s Garage No. 7 at Senses Five Press (information & purchasing info, print, ePub):
http://www.sensesfive.com/publications/sybils-garage-no-7/

At Amazon.com:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0979624614/alteredfluid-20

At Barnes & Noble.com:
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/books/e/9780979624612/

At Omnilit.com (ePub version):
http://www.omnilit.com/product-sybilsgarageno7-444059-235.html

In addition, SG7 will soon be available in the UK at Amazon.co.uk, and also within the Apple iBookstore.

My second piece of news is Clarkesworld related:

Have you graduated to an e-reader? Maybe you purchased a Nook, Kindle or IPad. Well, if you happen to be a Clarkesworld Magazine fan, you can now take your favorite shorts wherever you go! Downloadable for a small price, you can choose between MOBI and EPUB formats. An excellent way to show continued support for this highly acclaimed publication (and incidentally, help me keep my job there as Podcast Director).

The Fog of Surreality – (A.K.A. #Readercon) #fb

I’ve been waiting to write this post, because it means I actually have to convince myself that Readercon is over. I guess I can’t live in the fog of surreality forever. I must come out and enjoy the sun. It’s been a week, I know. Allow me my dreams!

I arrived on Friday and instantly met up with Neil Clarke. For some odd reason, I have that weird, “omg I must find a friend so I don’t look like a complete idiot standing around in halls pretending I’m taking a phone call, so no one realizes that I’m too timid  to just come over and say hi” hang-up.  In fact, every time I’ve seen the Goddess known as Cat Valente roaming the halls with her posse, I’ve wanted to go over and say hello and gush about how much I love her writing.  Instead, I end up staring like a jackass.

I have gotten better at this in general and will muster the courage. In fact, from a recent twitter posting — it sounds like she’s just finished a story for Clarkesworld! Yay! Perhaps I’ll have something with which to introduce myself!

Where was I? Oh! Friday night. So I meet up with Neil Clarke who hands me a box of Clarkesworld business cards! I don’t think I showed the first squee I had of the night properly. How cool is it that I’ve been an official member of staff for almost 11 months? I’m almost at the two year mark for narrations!

So as I’m saying hello to Sean Wallace and his most lovely wife, Neil then surprises me with a copy of Sybil’s Garage No.7 that he just bought at a neighboring dealer’s table. I squealed with delight when he showed me. I squeed even more when he asked me for my first autograph! That has to rank right up there with one of the coolest moments of my life. I danced with my book. I didn’t care who was watching.

I went to a “Futures of Magazines” panel at 8:00 that night that included the likes of Neil, K. Tempest Bradford, Liz Gorinsky, Matt Kressel and Michael J. Deluca.  I was going to run up and introduce myself to Matt after the panel but I caught his eye and shyly waved. Much to my surprise and delight, he jumped up, ran over and gave me a warm hug. If I could meet everyone like that, I would be so happy.

Later that night, Neil and I were sitting on the floor having wonderful conversation with whomever decided to stop by and join when, David Mercurio Rivera, Devin Poore, E.C. Myers and Rajan Khanna came over to introduce themselves. I can’t say enough how cool and welcoming these guys were. Devin confessed he was the one who pulled my story out of the slush and sent it on to the other editors. It doesn’t get any better than that! Trying not to be socially retarded, I tried to hide most of my excitement. I think I failed.

Saturday was equally cool. I got up and read for a roomful of people attending the Rhysling poetry awards. I read Susan Slaverio’s “The Reaper’s Wife”. The tongue tripped up on the word, “hagiographer” but it was smooth sailing after that. Special thanks goes to Susanne Reynolds-Alpert who introduced herself and calmed my nerves with some warm words of encouragement.

I caught Mary Robinette Kowal in the lobby, said hello to her busy self and got to hold her upcoming first novel Shades of Milk and Honey. It is a gorgeous book and I can’t wait to read it when it comes out.

John Anealio stopped by the Clarkesworld booth and said hello as well. It’s always great to meet someone who’ve you been conversing with on any online medium and I was delighted he hung out with us after dinner. If you haven’t taken the time to go listen to his music, go do it now!

I got to talk a little with the ever wonderful Charlie Stross and the lovely Margaret Ronald. I wish the time had not gone so quickly.

So by now, if you attended Readercon, you know about the not-so-secret party that Matt Kressel held in his room. A celebration of sorts for the release of Sybil’s Garage NO. 7, he asked if the contributors would read their stories at the gathering. Again, another inside snoopy dance for me. See, I read other people’s work. I can’t get over the fact that I was standing in a crowded room, reading my story! Holy crap. Lots of praise for both the narration and the story left me reeling. I was very nervous that the experience of reading into a microphone in a private environment where I could correct my mistakes would translate poorly to a live medium. I am happy to report I was wrong about that.

After a lovely breakfast with Nora Jemisin on Sunday, I participated in the Clockwork Phoenix 3 reading with a wonderful panel. Gemma Files, Ken Schneyer, Mike Allen, Nicole Kohner-Stace, Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney and Amal El-Mohtar did wonderful jobs with their material. I read from the Cat Rambo story, “Surrogates”. I can only hope I did the story justice!

Afterward, I ran over to the  reading where Chang Terhune was reading along with other graduates from the workshop. It was fantastic! Now, I know I’m missing someone, or something I did. In all, every person I met made this convention truly amazing. It was an event in my life that I will never, ever forget so thank you to everyone who made that possible.

I can’t wait until next year.

(Picture above by Matt Kressel — more photos here)

BAMBOOzled Beliefs and Wishes

I must warn you. This is a cautionary tale of belief; of wishing for things and calling out for help to an uncaring universe.

2009 was a year that I’d like to forget. 2010 started off much the same way for both me and friends who are quite dear. I wanted things to change and found myself frustrated that good intentions and well-wishes only carried one so far.

As I perused the shelves of indoor plants at Home Depot, a thought crossed my mind that I could try to wield the power to change fortune. To beg for release from horrid fates yet to befall.

Lucky bamboo.

She was beautiful as she sat in her green pot on a top shelf. Twisted carefully at delicate angles with little leaves that seemed to wave hello.  At almost six feet tall I can usually reach anything, yet I had to stand on the tips of my toes to pull her down. A sister plant in a burgundy pot accompanied us through the checkout line and home.

She stood strong in the window, watered and ready to meet her new owner. I targeted this plant for Neil after a conversation at Boskone. The question that started this very unfortunate series of events went something like this:

“Out of every story that you’ve published for Clarkesworld, in which one would you call home?”

His answer — Nora Jemisin’s, “Non-zero Probabilities”.

A story where belief in things was a game changer. Whispered prayers and rituals around sentimental trinkets would protect from harm. If you wished hard enough to get well from disease, you would. Playing upon the theme of that particular universe, the gift was half gag and half sincerity. I wanted to believe.

Two days after I brought Lucky home, she showed me where I could shove those optimistic thoughts. As I packed for LunaCon, setting aside the plant for travel, I ran downstairs to get clothes from the dryer. It was then I tripped over my own feet, down the stairs and broke my ankle. No LunaCon.

I missed PAX East as well. I joked with Neil that the plant wasn’t working. Six months passed in the blink of an eye and despite my gross inattention,  Lucky survived. She grew. She waited patiently. Readercon was coming.

I placed her in the back seat of the CR-V with my bag and left for Massachusetts. As I rounded the corner of an on-ramp, she fell. Spilled her rocks all over the back seat and onto the floor. I think I actually heard her cry out. Pulling off to the side, I gathered as many of the small stones that I could and re-potted her. She came up front with me then, strapped into the seat. I played her music, she seemed okay. Perhaps it was the universe’s attempt at balancing the scales.

Now, I feel guilty for giving Lucky to Neil. I hope she lives. I hope she finally knows what she’s doing.  Maybe in the beginning,  I didn’t believe in her enough to work.

Hopefully, he will.

P.S. Burgundy says hi.

The Horribly Late May Clarkesworld Magazine Post

 So what if it’s almost June! This is a totally strategic post in a brilliant attempt to get you to go visit the Clarkesworld Magazine site for the May issue. This post is in no way a direct result of being so incredibly busy and or wiped out that I couldn’t bring myself to blog. Nope, never. I did share the links on Facebook and Twitter though, so give me some credit!

Now onto the pertinent stuff — Look at that cover. Just look at it. It’s a perfect mix of both mesmerizing and appalling. There are so many interpretations one can derive from this stark work of art. On the darker side, is that an alien race holding the last of our species in jars, the way science teachers displaydead frogs in formaldehyde  for teaching purposes? Could it be a benevolent culture (menacing space suit aside) hoping to regrow humanity with some genetic modifications? Or could it be us behind that re-breather colonizing a planet in the depths of space, growing the population like seedlings in soil?

Granted the title of the piece is “The Biomarket” which is pretty sinister in it’s own right. I instantly imagine a bounty hunter, tracking down pregnant human colonists in the first trimester, only to kill them and extract fetuses. Our race commands a high price on the extraterrestrial black market. We’re so easily manipulated in the early stages of life both chemically and biologically.

Okay. Shudder. (That might just be a story in the making.)

So where was I? Oh yeah, the May Issue. I got to narrate for one of my favorite authors — Tobias Buckell. I was also reintroduced to a brilliant writer by the name of Tony Pi. While I knew the name from the Campbell Award ballot from last year, I was eager to read something new.  I continue to be quite honored to get to read for some of the best in the SF/F field. Did I mention how much I love my job?

In other news — “Spar” by Kij Johnson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story this past weekend down in Fl. Not only was the event super cool, but judging from  Tweets and pictures, the launch of the space shuttle was both awe-inspiring and humbling. I really wish I could have gone. So, a big hearty congratulations to Kij and Clarkesworld!

If you want to read her winning story — here are both the print and audio…for free, cause we’re awesome like that.

Here is the TOC for the May Issue of CW. Enjoy.

Fiction

A Jar of Goodwill
by Tobias S. Buckell
 
A Sweet Calling
by Tony Pi

Non-Fiction
Revealing How the Elements Cohere: A Conversation with Elizabeth Bear
by Jeremy L. C. Jones
 
The Border between Writing and Life: A Conversation with Marly Youmans
by Jeremy L. C. Jones
 
Stranger Than Science Fiction: Into the Alternate Dimension of Mainstream Literature
by Ryan Britt

Audio

Audio Fiction: A Jar of Goodwill
by Tobias S. Buckell, read by Kate Baker
 
Audio Fiction: A Sweet Calling
by Tony Pi, read by Kate BakerArt
 “The Biomarket”
by Rodrigo Ramos

New Clarkesworld Narrations

 

 “Between Two Dragons” by Yoon Ha Lee

 “January” by Becca De La Rosa

In other news, we’ve been nominated for a 2009 Hugo Award and a Locus Award. I’ve been reading for Clarkesworld since January 2009 and officially became staff in October that same year. You can imagine my elation of being a part of something that is getting recognized in wondrous ways.

I do hope Neil, Sean and Cheryl take home the rocket come August in Australia. I for one will be anxiously biting my nails in anticipation.

I know this is alittle late, but here is the rest of the table of contents for the April 2010 Clarkesworld Magazine edition.
Between Two Dragons
by Yoon Ha Lee
 
January
by Becca De La Rosa

Peculiar Notes of Contradiction: A Conversation with N. K. Jemisin
by Jeremy L. C. Jones
 
We Come in Pieces: The Alien as Metaphor
by Daniel M. Kimmel

 

Audio Fiction: Between Two Dragons
by Yoon Ha Lee, read by Kate Baker
 
Audio Fiction: January
by Becca De La Rosa, read by Kate Baker “Bagadurn”
by Aimé Jalon

Stay tuned for more content on May 1st and May 15th!

Holy Podcasts, Batman!

First things first: I’ve updated the podcast/narration page on my blog. I was missing a few, so if you were looking for more narration goodness, it’s all there.

Second: I am doing a secret podcast. I will update once it’s out. It should be coming out at the end of the month. See if you can guess where!

Third: “The History Within Us” by Matthew Kressel was just put up in audio form over at Clarkesworld Magazine. Matthew had some nice things to say about the narration —

 “This is the first story of mine podcasted, and Kate’s amazing rendition of the aliens’ voices gave me chills throughout.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I have.  She’s one of the best readers out there.”

Also – “Alone with Gandhari” byGord Sellar went up on March 1st! Gord writes on his blog:

 “If you’re more of a fiction listener, I can happily direct you to the wonderful Clarkesworld podcastof the story in which the tale is narrated (and briefly but insightfully commented upon) by the ever-sensitive and dramatic reader Kate Baker.”

I can’t even begin to tell you how overjoyed I am that we’re not only getting great feedback from the actual authors, but the subscription and download rates have skyrocketed since the first of the year! We are surpassing last year’s monthly rates in the first few days of release. So, thank you for your continued support and time!

Keep listening. You’re making me very, very happy!

 

Podcast Updates!

January 1st- “The Things” by Peter Watts breaks both visitor and audio download records for Clarkesworld. I continue to be humbled when I take a glance at the numbers.

Some lovely comments on the site included:

Janbo sez: My first visit to Clarkesworld, and I get to hear an excellent audio rendition of a story by one of my favorite writers. Containing my joy will be difficult. Thanks to Kate Baker for the subtle, deliciously inflected reading. I will return — with any luck, accompanied by monetary support for this fine website.

and

Zontar sez: Wow! I’ve heard some good audio fiction before. I’ve heard audio fiction that expanded on favorite, even beloved works of art or literature. But this is the first time that I’ve heard (or read) a story that actually improved–*fixed*, even–the work from which it stems!

January 15th- Clarkesworld Magazine releases the second audio fiction of the month, All the King’s Monsters” by Megan Arkenberg.

January 25th – The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine released “Excision” for which I did a character for the story.

February 1st – My gig as Podcast Director for Clarkesworld Magazine keeps getting better and better. We released the audio podcast, Torquing Vacuum by Jay Lake! I have a ribbon I received at the Anticipation WorldCon workshop that says, “I Ain’t Jay Lake”. Tis true! I am not Jay Lake, but I got to narrate his work and that is pretty fantastic!

February 15th – The second podcast of this short month is “The Language of the Whirlwind” by Lavie Tidhar.

This whole podcasting thing continues to be surreal. It never gets old and I love having the ability to put my dramatic interpretation on these fantastic stories. As always, while the numbers are showing substantial growth on Clarkesworld with downloads, I always appreciate comments. What did you like about the story? What didn’t you like about the narration? Constructive criticism is always welcome along with flowers and chocolates.

Don’t forget to tell a friend if you like the podcast. You can download the podcasts directly from the site, via the RSS feed, and subscribing via Itunes. I am sure we’re available through other means as well. Speaking of the Itunes subscriptions, if you like what you’ve heard, rating the podcast and leaving comments there too would be awesome. It takes less than a minute to rate the ‘cast and a little more to give a small review.

Getting Out of Our Own Heads Regarding the Hugos

I eagerly opened the Hugo nomination packet that came in the mail a few weeks ago. As I flipped through the pages, my confidence began to fade. Thoughts like: “How can I possibly give each field a fair evaluation when I haven’t read nearly the amount to make a qualified decision?” or “What works even qualify as a novelette or novella?” or “Where can I find a comprehensive list of everything that’s available?”

As I found myself putting the nomination form aside, those same thoughts evolved into: “I will just have to catch up on everything that was published in 2009, to make the best decision possible.” and “I have to culminate a list of everything that people are putting up for consideration and read it.” and “I shall take note of editors and word counts and artists and…”

The nomination form quickly got buried with the burden of my now self-employed, full time, non-paying job of “Nominatrix Extraordinaire”. For the last twelve days, I couldn’t even tell you where the form went. Sure, I read some books, but they were books I had already decided I wanted to read. I was not as successful coming up with anything else of note.

Then a few days ago, a writer who I was lucky enough to share critiques with at Worldcon sent out a note. Addressed to ‘Devotees of Science Fiction and Fantasy’, it warned of the same mental stagnation that I was experiencing.The email also pointed to an article written by my fellow colleague at Clarkesworld Magazine, Cheryl Morgan. While Cheryl’s point is directly aimed at getting more women on the ballot, I think she nails it on the head that women tend to sabotage themselves when it comes to making decisions of this nature. Granted, this isn’t all women, but it looks like a good portion of the female population tend to crawl inside their own heads. This is not a reaction to fear, but I am clearly one of those women who like to make informed and qualified decisions. The nomination portion of the Hugo Awards does not fit into my orderly world of control.

…reading “everything” is impossible. You just have to look at what you have read and seen, and judge whether you think any of it is good enough to be nominated.

“Really? It’s that easy?” Yep. It is.

Don’t worry if you don’t have views in every category either. If you haven’t read any novellas in the past year, leave that section blank.

But…but!!!

I know, this goes against everything single deep-seated desire to fill in every line in every category. I’ve had to train myself that it is necessary and indeed, appropriate in some cases to skip things with which I’m not famliar.

So my lovely ladies of the universe, go vote. Read Cheryl’s post as to why it is imperative that you do.  Time is running out on the new supporting memberships, so if you can’t get to it, consider becoming a supporting member in order to vote on the forthcoming short lists.

If you are still gung-ho about being “informed” here are a pile of links to peruse with some ideas for the up and coming awards season.

If there are more links which point to either eligibility or recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments. I will add them to the post.

Also – I didn’t want to leave this post without a gratuitous pimp for Clarkesworld Magazine which is eligible for the Semi-Prozine category. I love working for this magazine as the Podcast Director and would love to see it recognized.