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Readercon Recap

Readercon 24! As always, Alexa and I had a great time at this Burlington, MA convention. Roger Zelazny was the posthumous Guest of Honor, and I was very pleased to see my tribute essay, “The Immortal Mr. Zelazny,” printed in the souvenir book. I’d like to extend special thanks to outgoing program chair Rose Fox for thinking of me a couple of years ago and inviting me to be a part of programming. It’s been a great experience, and one I hope will continue for years to come. Special thanks also to the very generous Jack Haringa for putting Alexa and me up at his house in nearby Worcester. In good news, we found a restaurant close to the convention hotel called Papa-Razzi with gluten-free pasta that Alexa can eat safely! In less-good news, the hotel was undergoing renovations and had no lobby or bar this year. As you might imagine, a convention without a lobby or a bar is crazy talk! But we all managed to get through it with a minimum of inconvenience.

I had a pretty busy programming schedule this year. On Friday afternoon, my Writing (Hot and Heavy) Action panel drew a standing-room-only crown. As moderator, I came up with probably half a dozen questions for the panelists, including some that were tailored specifically to each of them, but Elizabeth BearMargo LanaganJohn Shirley, and Cecilia Tan were all so charming, smart, and well spoken that I think I only had to ask the first two or three. The conversation flowed pretty organically, albeit with lots of pauses after unintentional double entendres to say, “So the speak…” We got lots of laughs and, I hope, taught folks a thing or two about writing sex and action scenes. Mostly sex scenes, if I’m being honest. Some good points were made about using sex scenes to further the story and the characters arcs by focusing on the before and after just as much as, if not more than, the sex itself. In the end, it might have been one of the best panels I’ve ever been on.

I had a reading Friday night. When I got there, I immediately noticed that the name on my table tent was spelled wrong. Nicolas Kaufman? Who’s that? Also, it was handwritten instead of printed. We soon discovered the reason why: someone else’s name was printed inside it. That’s right, my table tent wasn’t just spelled wrong, it was hastily scribbled on the reverse of a completely different person’s! READERCON!


As you can see, my reading was also standing room only:


Actually, to be fair, the reading was scheduled for 7:30 p.m., which is prime dinner time. Not that it would have had many more people at a different hour! Also, of the three people who came, I didn’t already know one of them! That’s 33% brand-new readership! I read from the first two chapters of Dying Is My Business. Nobody hated it.

On Saturday, I had a late night (9 p.m.!) panel called Writing in Shared Worlds with (again) John Shirley and Barry Longyear, moderated by “Hour of the Wolf” radio host Jim Freund. Unfortunately, Barry Longyear couldn’t make it for some reason, so it ended up being just me and John. Since we both worked on Zombies vs. Robots for IDW, we had some similar experiences to share, but of course John has written a ton more in the work-for-hire field than I have. Hell, he’s written a ton more than me in the original fiction field, too! The panel went really well, despite Mr. Longyear’s absence. The audience had some interesting questions, ranging from whether we own any of the characters we created in other people’s worlds (no) to whether there are series bibles (usually) to what we thought of the different versions of the same story that are presented over different media, like Game of Thrones books versus the TV show (it’s all good, says I, and no one version is inherently better than the other, only subjectively better). Also, an audience member introduced herself as being part of Transformers fandom. She was wearing an Optimus Prime t-shirt. So that happened.

My panel Sunday morning, Workshopping as a Lifestyle, also went very well. Despite the clear “is workshopping just for the artsy-fartsy?” agenda threaded into the title, everyone on the panel was actually a big proponent of workshopping and no one felt it was something that existed solely to “impress other writers,” as I’ve heard some people put it. Some really good advice was doled out to the audience, including one that I will keep with me forever, which is that readers usually look for things to love in a piece of fiction far more than they look for things to hate. In other words, don’t worry if not every sentence is smooth as silk or if not every word is spun gold. You shouldn’t make yourself crazy laboring over every sentence because what matters to writers is generally different from what matters to readers. Mostly, what readers remember are your stories and your characters, not your turns of phrase. That’s quite liberating, I think.

In addition to enjoying the programming, Alexa and I got to see many friends we see only rarely, though we were sad to miss a few who couldn’t make it to Readercon this year (John Langan, Sarah Langan, and Laird Barron, there was much weeping in your absence). This year we left with only eleven new books in our suitcases! ONLY ELEVEN! Also, as far as I know, nobody got grabbed or harassed this year! Hooray! (Boy, I really hope I’m not speaking too soon on that front.) Anyway, this post is getting kind of long, so I’ll just leave you with these other pictures I took over the weekend and a hearty “See you next year!”


Here’s Matt Kressel reading from an as-yet-unsold novel. He had a lot more people at his reading than I did, that jerk!


This is a not very good picture of Craig Shaw Gardner reading from the first in a new series of comedic fantasies coming out from Ace Books. He also had more people at his reading than I did. I’m sensing a pattern!


Here are Peter StraubJohn ShirleyElizabeth Hand, and Jack Haringa on pretty much the only horror-themed panel of the weekend — all of them glowing with the light of divine horrorness! David G. Hartwell was on the panel as well, but he wasn’t there yet when I took the picture. It was a great panel, one of the best of the weekend. I don’t know whose head that is at the bottom of the picture. Maybe…MY OWN! (Cue scary horror music.)

9 responses to “Readercon Recap”

  1. I’m the Transformers fan! I saw this so late because I was seeing if you’re coming to see if I should buy your book as paper to get signed or in my preferred ebook format.

    The fact that you mentioned me, plus the fact that I am, in fact, wearing that same Optimus Prime shirt as I read this with my laptop out in the bookstore means I am buying it in paperback in the hopes that you will attend because I am so excited by the mention!

    Also, mention of it on my Booklikes page. I almost squealed out loud in excitement in the bookstore. And it wasn’t about an actual book I just found this time!

    • Nick says:

      I remember you! How funny that you found this blog entry, and that you were wearing the same shirt when you commented! As it happens, I will indeed be at Readercon this year. I love Readercon and wouldn’t miss it for the world! If you bring the book, I’ll be happy to sign it for you. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy it!

      • Yay! I remember you saying I made your night when I told you how much I enjoyed Chasing the Dragon earlier, too. Everyone was asking me about it since I was so into it I couldn’t put it down in the con-suite, too, and I was like, ‘oh, it’s just fabulous!’

        Well, fair turnaround. You totally made my night. I think I’m going to reread Chasing the Dragon to post a shiny new review, then immediately start Dying is My Business, which I really should have gotten to earlier!

  2. Will do. Hopefully Chasing the Dragon will be up by this weekend, and then I’m hoping to take my time with the first read of Dying is My Business and just really savor it.


    There’s a little bit about Readercon in there, but mostly gushing about the book. Oh, and ranting about drug addict characters, because normally do not want, but you actually made Georgia likable and sympathetic to me in the end. (Hey, I bought the book for Readercon, and didn’t give much thought to this when buying it. I’m sooooo glad I didn’t, either. Five enthusiastic stars. i think Chasing the Dragon gets better on the second read, too.)

    • Nick says:

      Thank you, that’s such a great review! I’m going to link to it everywhere!

      • And one of my friends into drug culture in fiction is already interested! I honestly hope that it gets you at least that one sale.

        This book was amazing. I’m already kicking me for not reading Dying is My Business already -_-

        Also, I have a buddy read I promised I’d catch up on tonight, but I should start DiMB quite soon.

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