Okay, it was hot in the literary vendor’s room. Let’s get that out of the way first thing — still it was a very enjoyable show in spite of all the bumps, hiccups and Dagger of the Sun moments. The convention crew was really on top of things and the literary track, in particular, was aces!
First thing on Saturday morning, I was on a panel discussing what it takes to write a good short story. Lee Martindale moderated this panel, and I have to say that it was one of the best I’ve been a part of. It was pretty well attended, too and I think the audience got a lot out of it — I know I did.
Later in the evening, I was on a panel discussing e-publishing. This is a topic that is in major flux. I’ve been on several panels on this same subject and each new panel, there’s some new development in the field. Many thanks to Steven Saus for doing a bang-up job at moderating this one — also for some great tips on epub conversion in his book So You Want to Make an E-Book. We didn’t discuss his book directly in the panel, but I looked it over very well when I was working to get a few the Southern Indiana Writers’ anthologies on disk prior to the convention.
All-in-all, it was a great convention and a lot of fun. One of the best things was all the new folks I met. Reconnecting with other friends was just as enjoyable.
This was the first year for the literary track and I have to say it launched beautifully. Yeah, there were snags, but when aren’t there? Any time that many people gather in one place, there will be snafus, but there were remarkably few with FandomFest’s first literary outing. My hat is off to Stephen Zimmer and Nathan Day for keeping things running smoothly all weekend. I’m looking forward to next year, too!
Hi all! This came through from Jay Hartman over at Untreed Reads a short time ago and I thought I’d share it. March 6-12 has been declared Read an E-book Week! This annual celebration of the electronic format began in 2004. The background for the event can be found over at the official site ebookweek.com.
The folks at Untreed definitely know how to celebrate and event like this right! They’re having another of their kick-ass sales. Unfortunately, Josh Katzen isn’t part of this year’s event, but who knows what the future holds, right? Still, there are some wonderful books there from some excellent authors — and who doesn’t love a great sale?
Here’s what Jay says:
March is a big celebration month with Read An Ebook Week happening March 6th – March 12th. As you know, we don’t do anything small around here, so we’re going to celebrate the entire month!
Until March 30th, readers can buy the newest story by an author and get all other titles by that author at 40% off.
Here’s the lineup of who is part of this sale and which story is the full price one:
Andy Frankham-Allen: Serere
Anne Brooke: A Woman Like the Sea
Beth Mathison: A Mobster’s Toast to St. Patrick’s Day
Bryl R. Tyne: The Zagzagel Diaries: Broken
Denise Dietz: Footprints in the Butter
George Seaton: The Cow and Other Colorado Tales
Herschel Cozine: The Birds
Jesse S. Greever: The Annex
Joshua Calkins-Treworgy: Faith in Amelia
Neil Plakcy: The Outhouse Gang
Pete Peterson: Black Clouds and Epitaphs
Ruth Sims: Song on the Sand
S. Furlong-Bolliger: Paddy Whacked
Victor J. Banis: Illusions
Wade J. McMahan: Witches Witch?
Ma’at, the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Truth.
I hate politics. I refuse to talk politics. One of the quickest ways to get me to stop listening or to make me get up and just plain leave the room is to initiate a political debate with me. Still, as witnessed by the settings and subject matter of the stories I write, I love archaeology and history so the recent happenings in the middle east have held my attention. No fear. This is not one of those laments for the wonderfulness of the bygone eras. Those eras, while very interesting as viewed from the present day, were hardscrabble times for the average person. Even in ancient times, there was a marked divide between classes and most of the ancient societies were ruled as something of a theocracy. (I said I hate politics, not that I don’t know about them.)
Nonetheless, the very areas where people are fighting to overthrow dictators and Rulers-for-Life are the same places the ideas that form the basis of what we think of as modern civilization came into being. Ancient Egypt gave us the Forty-Two Principles of Ma’at, a group of precepts that codified ethical behavior. Some two thousand years after their codification, these rules, also called the Forty-Two Negative Confessions, were distilled into what we know today as the Ten Commandments. Yeah, really. Check out the Wikipedia page for the goddess Ma’at.
Concurrent with the Forty-Two Principles came the Code of Hammurabi. These laws come down to us via a seven-foot tall diorite stele carved in Babylon (Present day Iraq) around 1760 BCE. Because this was so important to the people of the time, we also have many cuneform clay tablets containing all or parts of the code. This collection of laws is based on even earlier ones, all from the same areas of the middle east. Reading the laws, many will sound familiar to modern day people for much the same reason as the Forty-Two Principles. It became the basis for traditional Old Testament law.
Art, literature and mathmatics all took root and flourished in these areas. As noted in a previous entry on this blog, the first known example of animation was found in the Burnt City, an archeological site located in present day Iran. Functional prothetic body parts and fine surgical implements from ancient times have been found, most notably, in Egypt and Iran. When Europe fell into the Dark Ages and lost the knowledge of mathmatics, medicine and a host of other subjects, scholars in the middle eastern cultures preserved them.
The list goes on and on, but I won’t. What it boils dow to is that today, the area that was called the Cradle of Civilization when I was in school is on fire — figuratively and literally. One has to wonder what will rise from the ashes. Until then, the only thing the lovers of history and archaeology can do is nervously watch the conflagrations and hold hope and prayers for the people of today as well as the relics of history
The glittery little cats that start all the trouble in Hanukkah Gelt.
Recently, UntreedReads.com published my short story, Hanukkah Gelt, as part of their Fingerprints line. In the story, former military intelligence operative turned artist and photographer, Joshua Katzen and his sometimes girlfriend, Roz Eliahu’s plans for a cozy holiday together get sidelined by a fake antiquities scheme gone horribly wrong.
Whenever I write about an ancient artifact, I usually have a specific piece in mind. It’s a little bit of a writer’s cheat. Having a real object to work from helps me bypass one part of the creation process: deciding what the McGuffin is and what it looks like. Okay, that’s more like two things, but who’s counting?
This is helpful to me especially with the Josh Katzen stories since he’s an archaeological artist and photographer. When I start planning a story for Josh, first thing I do is spend some time on the Internet looking for an object or objects that spark a plot idea. In the case of Hanukkah Gelt, I knew I was looking for something gold — yes, yes, I know gelt means money not gold. Do I sound like I care? Good. Now, as I was saying . . . when I saw this little dingus in an auction catalog, I knew I’d found what I was looking for. It has it all, gold, pre-Columbian origins and a pair of cats, to boot. Can’t get much better than that.
Maybe it’s because I just finished my first stab at electronic publishing, but I went into my Sunday panel at ConText 23 (Aug. 29) with the idea it would be a sort of DIY subject. Well, it wasn’t. It turned out to be more about the electronic readers themselves and a discussion on the future of e-publishing. Interesting, and definitely a fitting subject for a science fiction-heavy convention, but I had to do a massive gear shift once the talk began.
My fellow panelists were Doug Johnson, Tilly Greene, JD Williams and David Wyatt with Steven Saus as moderator.
It’s been over a week now, but I’m still thinking about this discussion. Seems like everyone else is, too. Every place I go, people are talking about what e-reader they want and what e-books they’ve downloaded. It’s been kind of amazing, really. It used to be that only my most avowedly geeky friends (Yes, Grant and Joe, I mean YOU. lol) were reading actual books on the computer screen. Now, even the people who used to tell me they always printed out a manuscript hard copy for edits because they couldn’t stand reading off the screen are reading e-books.
Fad of the Moment or the shape of things to come? Probably a bit of both. Will the e-book be the doom of paper books? I seriously doubt it. I can’t see e-books sending paper books the way of the Sauropods any time soon, really. I’m probably speaking from a position of prejudice because I love books. My house is filled with books of all sorts and all ages. There’s just something wonderful about the feel of a book — especially a hardback book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a dyed-in-the-circuits geek, so I also appreciate the electronic form and the portability of the new readers. I get most of my news electronically, even my archaeological updates. How’s that for anachronistic?
Still, I think there will be room for both for a long time to come. The book didn’t supplant the scroll immediately, after all. Hey! This is a great excuse to link to one of my favorite tech support spoofs! Medieval Tech Support. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA!
Again the infamous Chinese blessing/curse comes to visit. All in a short space of time, the water heater and my ISP blew up. I’m not sure which was more debilitating: the lack of hot water or the lack of internet access. Maybe the lack of internet. I could at least heat water on the stove and lug it to where it was needed. So far, I haven’t found much workaround for the ISP going BOOOM.
Regardless, I’m back online and whatever equipment at Win.Net that went out in a blaze of glory has been replaced. The fact I haven’t had even a brief outage so far today gives me hope that it’s well settled.
There’s now hot water, too, thanks to Amazon.com and my housemate, Dale. YAY AMAZON AND DALE!! We got a Rheem 40 gallon heater through Amazon for about $150 less than we could buy it locally and it came with free shipping. Yeah, we could have gotten instant gratification for the $150, but money is tight and the place that Dale works has showers. It was a little inconvenient for a few days, but it worked.
Anyway, with restored internet access, I can now upload my languishing posts on Context. *ahem* We now return you to the irregularly scheduled programming.