Archive for category Mary Robinette Kowal

Alpha-Reading, a Primer

Mary Robinette Kowal is all sorts of awesome. I think I mentioned I first “discovered” her at Readercon a couple of years ago, right before Shades of Milk and Honey was released (she had actually just gotten an author copy at or right before the con). (Actually, I wrote a little bit about another con experience with her here, too.)

One of the things that I think is awesome of her is her wilingness to open up some of her WIP’s for “Alpha” reading – allowing people to read along as she is drafting a novel, and provide feedback – specifically reactions about the reading experience (how well the story is coming through).

She recently outlined some thoughts on the process, aptly titled “How and why I use online alpha-readers while writing novels.

I mention this for two reasons. First, for those readers that are interested, hop over to her site and keep an eye out for any “current” projects that may be underway. The second is a little more self-serving while sharing….

Still being in the pre-publication, craft-development trenches, I am always on the lookout for things that might be useful some time down the road. This is one of those ideas, and the explanation behind her implementation makes sense, and is something to keep in mind for when I get to said point down the road. So I’m linking it here for my own future reference (hence the self-serving portion). At the same time, I am sure there are other writers in a similar position as myself that might be interested in the process for some point in their own careers, that may not have found MRK’s blog (yet)…

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Reconstruction 2010

While in Boston (for Readercon), I ended up meeting someone from Raleigh that turned us on to Reconstruction, which was conveniently going to be held… in Raleigh. I was a little leary about going for the whole conference (mostly due to requesting that much more time out of work). And for most of the next couple of weeks, I vascillated between go/don’t go, right up until a few days before the event. Instead of going for the whole event, I only went for the Saturday (seriously considered going for Sunday as well, but after a cost/session analysis,there wasn’t enough scheduled for Sunday to warrant the extra day’s fee.

Even though there were a couple of sessions that happened before Saturday that would have been good, I was still able to get a few things accomplished that would not have otherwise happened had I NOT gone. For example:

Kaffeklatched with Mary Robinette Kowal, where either the group was small enough or I was confortable enough now to ask about SFWA [note: I have been considering various memberships for a while, but no one that I had tried asking could/would really address the issue of guild-like memberships].

Went by the SFWA table in the dealer’s room and picked up a couple of the recent bulletin/magazines. When readingone of them, I discovered a possible market [call for stories for an anthology] for a story that I wrote a couple of years ago. I’m in the process now of going back over it and preparing it for submission.

While in the Dealer’s room, I discovered that there is a local market (based in Durham): BullSpec. Looks to be a good publication (nice rates, if I can sell to them). And they, in turn, let me know about another event (coming in September): a reading/book tour stop by William Gibson.

Other tables in the Dealer’s room that I made sure to stop by were those for the next few cities bidding to host WorldCon. I’m thinking about trying to go, but we shall see how the future unfolds.

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[I had started this right after returing from Readercon 21… but am finally fleshing it out a month later… jle/8-11-10]

The trip was fun… the flight up was uninspiring, other than to find out just how convenient it is to fly out of TINY LOCAL AIRPORT as opposed to driving two hours (usually the night before the scheduled flight) to MAJOR TRAFFIC AIRPORT, even if it does involve a layover and flight change instead of a direct flight. The plan was supposed to be having MC and I meeting up with Chris in Boston. When tickets were gotten a year ago, all was fine. A month before, and Chris was scheduled to arrive about an hour before us. Flight delays on his end led to a correction of schedules, so he arrived only a few minutes before us.

Readercon was my first conference, and I think it was a good place to cut my teeth. There was a fair amount of nerves in place, so I didn’t do nearly as much networking as I was hoping to going into it, but I did a little bit (including going to a “magazine” party that was looking for people interested in doing SF reviews), so it worked out well. [I’ve got a couple of magazines that I’ve downloaded, with the intention of writing some sample reviews to submit.] Other highlights include Charles Stross… yes, I have pictures, and yes I plan on uploading… but will probably add to a later recap post. Signing, Kaffeeklatch, and a reading (along with a variety of panels)… but there were other writers that I went into only with vague name recognition, that I can now say: “I’ve seen them!” or “I’ve heard them speak!” – like Barry Longyear, and Paul di Fillipo).

And Mary Robinette Kowal… I hadn’t been familiar with her before the conference, but afterwards looked her up online. Turns out I had a piece she had written downloaded to the iPad, as well. Her first book was soon to be released, and on the merit of how she was on panels, I added her to my radar of writers to try and follow… (see future post about Reconstruction)

Most of the specific conference events are a blur, but the short version was that it was a good time.

Then we flew home. Chris flew home without a problem, but we ended up with about two hours of delays for our layover – mechanical delays, then weather delays – before we were able to get home – just in time for our own rush hour traffic.

While the trip itself was good, and one I wouldn’t mind repeating in the future, I had the distinct feeling of anti-climax. For as long as I had been wanting to go to Boston, it fell short of the pedestal that I had it on… Maybe it’s because we were outside of Boston proper for the event, or maybe I’ve moved on from that mental place that set up the pedestal. Maybe it’s because all I really saw of Boston itself was from inside a car…

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