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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.)

Look Who’s Coming to Readercon



Olympia laughs at my plans to leave without her.

Readercon This Weekend!

If you’re just joining us, I will be attending Readercon 24 this weekend! If you’ll be there too and would like to find me, you can see my schedule here.

Just don’t look for me in the hotel lobby or bar. Apparently, both will be closed for renovations during the convention. Seriously bad timing. Lobbies and bars are the main gathering points at any convention, and to be without them is an unwelcome disruption. Still, I’m so excited about Readercon and the opportunity to see so many of my friends and colleagues again that I’m trying not to be a grump about it.

Also, copies of Chasing the Dragon will be available in the Bookshop from ChiZine Publications. Lucky readers might also get a signed ARC of Dying Is My Business, coming from St. Martin’s Press this October!


ChiZine Publications is running a special Fantasy Fire Sale through the month of July. Among the many great deals is a chance to buy the ebook of the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated and International Thriller Award-nominated Chasing the Dragon for 20% off, if you order it directly from CZP’s website. That’s $6.36 instead of $7.95! But as they used to say in those Ginsu knife commercials…that’s not all!

For a limited time, you can also buy the trade paperback of Chasing the Dragon for 30% off (that’s $7.67 instead of $10.95!) directly from CZP’s website and receive the ebook edition free!

Essentially, what this breaks down to is this: You can buy the ebook for $6.36 or, for basically one dollar more, you can get both the ebook and a copy of the trade paperback to keep, donate to a used book shop, give to your friends, or sell on eBay after I sign it for you at Readercon or Necon.

But again, this special sale only works if you order directly from CZP’s website. So hop to it! The Fantasy Fire Sale ends when July does.