Coming to you from Pasadena, California, I present my account of my first night participating as a podcaster in the Writers of the Future ceremonies. Special thanks to John Goodwin of Galaxy Press for extending this special invitation.
The trip started like most of my trips. Invariably, no matter the precautions, I end up lost or in the wrong place. Getting to my hotel was easy enough. LA traffic attempted to quell my enthusiasm with gridlocked seas of metal and concrete, the air permeated with noxious flatulence from the purring, iron beasts.
But almost four hours later I managed to cover the 120 miles between my home and the Pasadena Inn. (Word of warning for future travelers: do NOT stay at the Pasadena Inn! It says on hotels.com that they are a three star hotel, but it’s a dirty lie!)
Anyway, my trip was progressing smoothly, and I left my hotel with plenty of time to cover the five miles between me and the Sheraton, where the winners of the WOTF mingled their dreams with reality.
And this is where my traveling history bit me in the ass. Turns out Google doesn’t comprehend the difference between South Cordova and East Cordova. I braved the streets of Pasadena, vexed by surroundings that became increasingly residential, and arrived at my destination twenty minutes later to realize I had been duped. A couple of phone calls later I discovered the error of my ways. The Sheraton was actually only five blocks from the Pasadena Inn. So I drove back to my hotel, parked, and walked (hastily, sweat dripping from my clenched forehead) to the Sheraton.
Curse you Google!!
I arrived with about five minutes to spare. John Goodwin happened to be passing through the lobby, and he directed me to the conference room where Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta planned on giving a lecture. I setup my podcasting equipment and had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin and Rebecca as I did. I really enjoyed watching Kevin give his wife a hard time for not doing an interview with me yet!
I first met Kevin and Rebecca last year at Westercon. I started reading Kevin’s work when I was thirteen years old, so I still get a fanboy kick out of shaking his hand and talking with him. We’ve met half-a-dozen times now, and they always treat me with the utmost kindness and respect.
The contest winners entered the room as I scrambled to connect microphones, run a quick sound check, get out of the way, Shaun, get out of the way! I finally hid myself from view, and Kevin and Rebecca began the “Things I Wish Some Pro Had Told Me When I First Started” presentation. Listeners, keep your podcatchers open for some choice segments of this talk in a future episode of Adventures in Scifi Publishing.
Next to speak were two editors. The first will be republishing some of L. Ron Hubbard’s work, and her name escapes me NOT because I didn’t write it down, but because her name was never announced. The other editor was Charles N. Brown of Locus. He took the stage with the confidence and ease of someone long in the business, and he told the winner to enjoy this moment, because it will be the highlight of most of their careers. Truth is, this is a really tough business, and only a select few have the stamina to persevere and succeed. That is my own paraphrase, but you get the idea. He was funny and sobering at once.
After the presentations, we retreated to a dining room to partake in grilled flesh. Hamburgers and hot dogs were the order of the day, and I was the last to peruse the food line, having secured my recording gear. While scooping macaroni salad onto my plate, I met contest winner John Burridge. We discussed podcasting a bit, and he made me feel a bit at ease.
I sat down to eat with contest winner Tony Pi, who has a Ph.D. in Linguistics. I’m looking forward to reading his story. As someone who plays with words and studied literature in college, I love writers who experiment with the meaning of language and the nature of communication. I’m just guessing here, but I bet that Tony’s story evokes some interesting linguistic twists.
With food and drinks consumed, the mingling began. Being that I wasn’t a winner, a guest of a winner, or a staff member of Galaxy Press, I felt like the lone Corellian at a banquet on Alderaan. Luckily, the participants weren’t about to let me sit there by myself.
The new editor of the Science Fiction Book Club, Rome Quezada, approached me first, just saying hello. We talked a bit about his experience working for book clubs and his love for science fiction. As a member myself, and as someone concerned with the future of the SFBC with the departure of former editors Ellen and Andrew, I felt at ease after speaking with Rome. He has a love for science fiction, and he certainly seems very committed to the club.
Then I spoke with Liza Groen Trombi, Executive Editor at Locus. I am also a subscriber to Locus, so it was cool to talk about the magazine with someone who works on it. After fifteen minutes or so of conversation we recalled having met at Worldcon. In fact, I had the pleasure of holding Locus’ Hugo Award, ever so briefly, and it was Liza who had passed it off. We had some great conversations about new media and the science fiction field.
After speaking with Liza I met some artists and saw some wonderful portfolios. These artists are incredibly talented. I was astounded by the intricacy and imagination of their work. The black and white prints in the WOTF books do not do the drawings justice.
Finally, I ended the evening with a wonderful conversation with David Wolverton/Farland, New York Times Bestselling author. I first read his work when I was fourteen, and I now have that first edition hardcover signed. Cool. David is as real (and as nice) as they come. He encouraged me in my writing, and repeated the mantra I had heard several times that evening: 99% of making it as a writer is persistence. Not talent, though you need that, not contacts, though that helps, but writing and submitting everyday, getting that butt in the chair and keeping it there until you produce something. David was great, and hopefully he’ll be on the podcast in October along with Brandon Sanderson.
Other writers present in the room included Tim Powers, Sean Williams, Eric Kotani, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and K.D. Wentworth.
That’s it for night one, except for running into Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in the bathroom. I have a rule about that. Leave people alone in the bathroom! That is not the time to be shaking hands.
I had a great time and met some great people. Tonight is the awards ceremony. That will be a blast, and I will have a microphone in hand for reactions from the winners and judges. Check back tomorrow for a report on day 2, and keep your ears tuned in to the podcast for the great content I’m getting.