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.

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)

Pinch Me Edition: I Sold My First Short Story

I know many of you already probably know about this considering my excited Tweet and Facebook messages. Thank you all for the wonderful replies filled with encouragement and cheer. However, I don’t know if it fully becomes “official” until I blog about it. When I write about things here, it usually means I’ve actually stopped pinching myself and havent woken up from a blissful dream. It means I am indeed still in reality.

It means that I’m actually going to be published.

“By Some Illusion” will appear in Sybil’s Garage No. 7. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be featured in this acclaimed magazine. You can find out more about Senses Five Press here.

The good news is that according to Matthew Kressel’s blog, SG 7 will hopefully be released before Readercon! If you are attending that particular conference this year, I might just have to buy a few more copies of the magazine and share my good fortune with some fun people.

I can’t wait to see my name in print!

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

My Narration for the SHINE Anthology

 Remember that secret project I was working on? It’s up. I had the honor of reading the opening story for the SHINE anthology edited by Jetse de Vries.

“The Earth of Yunhe” by Eric Gregory was an absolute joy to narrate. In all the stories I’ve podcasted, it is the rare few that have a positive ending. Luckily, the SHINE anthology has all optimistic fiction.

So with happy heart, I encourage you to click over and listen to the podcast, and support Jetse and the authors who give us some hope for the future.

The book is out today and available at all major book sellers.

Smile. It ain’t all that bad out there.

A Little Redecorating – Dining Room Edition

Did you know you can paint in a chair? While I was sidelined with smashed ankle and couldn’t attend either

 LunaCon or PAXEast, I decided to give my living room a little makeover. With the generous help from dad and my son, we transformed my living room into something warm and inviting.

The picture to the right is how the walls looked when we first moved in about two and a half years ago. Unfortunately, those aren’t my couches, but the curtains stayed.

We left the room alone and felt bored with the whole thing. We stopped spending time in there. It was an “apartment” type feel. So we added a splash of color to the walls, brought up some lonely furniture from the basement and decorated with a few new things.

As we pulled down the curtains, we noticed gorgeous windows beneath. We decided against putting them back up.

Here’s the gallery of what now is the living room.

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.

The Podcast WhirlWind (aka Awesome News!)

Some big news to report on multiple fronts!

I’ve been invited to be “Podcast Director” (get a load of the official title) for Clarkesworld Magazine! That’s right, I’ve joined the staff of the Hugo Nominated Magazine! What will I be doing, exactly? I’ll be coordinating podcasts for the monthly releases, and introducing some new and exciting content as the magazine continues to grow.

Do me a favor? Mention the magazine to your friends, have them mention us to their friends! (I can actually say “us” now! *Squee*)

In other news, I’ve been interviewed by the wonderful Charles Tan over at Bibliophile Stalker. I am quite humbled as this was my first interview ever, but Charles made me feel welcome. Thanks, Charles. You’re the best!

I also have a narration up at Escape Pod as well this week. You should go over there and take a listen! “The Kindness of Strangers” by Nancy Kress opens discussion about our true selves. When disaster of epic proportion, propagated by aliens strikes, who do we become? Do we change or do we show our true colors?  Two more narrations are  in the pipeline for Jeremy Tolbert and the good folks at EP.

I will also have another narration up on Clarkesworld as we hit October 1st. I can’t say much about this one and will update the blog when it comes around. As a narrator, I am still digesting and it’s been a few days since I read it.

Tony C. Smith with StarShipSofa has given me another story to add to the two I’m still working on as well. Again, I’ll update when those are done and published.

I’ve updated the podcasts/narration page with the stuff that is just recently out. Enjoy!

It’s been a whirlwind and I have only to thank those of you who have cheered me on, listened and recommended my readings to others. You guys get all the credit here. Not me.

The Weekly News and #WorldCon09 Report

My body is still recovering from four lovely days in Montreal at this year’s Worldcon. My mind will need years of repair.

If you are interested, Tony C. Smith has let me take the reigns of The Sofanauts for two days while he is away on vacation.  You can find my first worldcon report here, and the Hugo round-up, here. While you’re on the site, you can also listen to Gord Sellar, the lovely Amy H. Sturgis, and John Joseph Adams.

All in all, it’s a weekend I will never forget.

Some more thoughts:

  1. Rockband is a lot more fun when you have groupies and an audience and alcohol.
  2. While I appreciate and love the plethora of programming available, my feet are filing a restraining order. I wish I had brought my pedometer with me to this con, I am convinced I walked over 10 miles.
  3. I am pretty sure that while in training – the convention center “guards” are taught to use the “evil eye”.
  4. Rooms dedicated for use to the Guest of Honor are always too small, no matter how large the room.
  5. There is an under-appreciated art of badge glancing. Style points for making it look like you are doing something other than desperately looking for a name hanging from someones neck. Negative points for those who walk up, tilt their head, stare at your chest and then walk off.
  6. Contrary to popular belief at cons, eye contact is not a deadly disease.
  7. Not sure if it’s the case, but it seems as if the better the hotel, the worse the internet connection. Although, I was hearing that even the cheaper hotels were having connectivity problems. Maybe bandwidth stealing moose are involved.*
  8. Most audience members are fantastic. There is always that one, though, or in some cases, two who believe they should have been on the panel.
  9. There will always be someone who starts eating an apple or fiddling with a candy in a noisy wrapper right as author starts to read from his/her highly anticipated and upcoming novel.
  10. Escalators are not dress friendly.
  11. Klingon costumes still make me smile.
  12. Most people will go out of their way to offer a grin, a wave or a nod of the head in your direction. Some will not. Some give dirty looks!
  13. By my estimation, it probably took Neil Gaiman thrice as long to make it from one panel to the next based on the mob mentality vs. the five foot rule. **
  14. I was briefly a part of the mob mentality vs. the five foot rule. *fangirlfail*
  15. Neil Clarke is and will continue to be made from the purest awesomesauce even though he made sure to taunt me about *fangirlfail*.
  16. Mary Robinette Kowal does not only look totally gorgeous in dressy Hugo attire, but she’s a kick ass presenter, panelist and friend.
  17. Aside from being beautiful, the hugo is really heavy.***
  18. John and Krissy Scalzi are the nicest (and funniest) people on Earth.
  19. Jay Lake is warm, fuzzy and a really great writing coach.
  20. Jeremy Lassen of Nightshade Books knows how to wear a suit.
  21. Cory Doctorow knows how to wear a tuxedo.
  22. Ellen Kushner is one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
  23. Peter Watts is totally cool, sexy and engaging in a dark, intelligent, existential sort of way. I mean that in the nicest way possible.
  24. Patrick Rothfuss epitomizes the words, ‘gentleman and scholar’.
  25. Stu Segal was welcoming and reassuring to a girl who felt distinctly out of place.
  26. Cheryl Morgan was beautiful and gracious in a red dress during the best fan writer acceptance speech.
  27. Irishmen (especially those who run semi-prozines), are a riot. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun in a conversation, ever.
  28. Hallways of party floors are super sadistic fun to navigate.
  29. Lines for crowded elevators are super sadistic fun to wait in.
  30. Proper attention to special con rules involving mobbed guests of honor regarding tickets for signings are always good to find out — you know, before they sell out and you’re left with a book you dragged all the way from home in the hopes you could get it signed, only to lament and watch the line go by in the dealer’s room that was full of lucky bastards who were prepared.
  31. Even if you happen to leave your dress shoes in NJ, your tennis shoes will be the envy of all, not only for their comfort but for completing an eclectic stylish ensemble.****
  32. Despite initial mental imagery, the Campbell tiara does look fabulous on men.
  33. Flying the  Hugo Award around like rocket ship toy complete with sound effects during an acceptance speech was totally funny and endearing.*****
  34. I’m wondering why the powers that be decided ‘cloud nine’ was the highest concentrated water vapor level allowed. There really should be ‘cloud 54’ complete with disco music.

Thank you to everyone who made this worldcon something special and ultimately something I will never, ever forget.

*as suggested by Shawn Powers.

**A celebrity with as much rock star status as Neil Gaiman could not move more than five feet in any given situation without a constant crush of people being replaced by a…constant crush of people.

***I got to hold John Scalzi’s hugo. This is a first hand account!

****See Neil Clarkes’ (@clarkesworld) twitter before the Hugo ceremonies.

*****See Frank Wu’s speech.