November 1, 2012. As usual, I began with good intentions to get daily exercise. At home, I typically exercise for half a hour before breakfast, and then get in a walk later in the day. So Friday morning I wended my way to the hotel fitness center. The treadmills, my torture of choice, were equipped with headphones and leeetle television screens. After flipping from one channel to another (which reminded me emphatically why I do not watch television), I discovered a program of videos made by Japanese children in the wake of the tsunami and then a year later. They were lovely, poignant, generous, joyful, grief-stricken, honest as only children can be honest. I wanted everyone to see them. They were all the more powerful in the context of Hurricane Sandy.
November 3, 2012. Writers workshop went well yesterday. Likewise my reading, which was well-attended considering it was 5 pm on Friday. I believe there were a number of snafus with other readings, so I felt grateful that mine actually took place where and when it was supposed to. Today’s panels went really well – as moderator for all of them, I happily accept my fair share of credit. Topics were: what authors influenced you (and what do you see as the wave of the future, which none of us were interested in talking about, so we ignored); gender (as if writing the other); is publishing obsolete. The latter two drew large, engaged audiences, always a nice thing for a panelist. I particularly enjoyed the gender panel; we started with the issue of whether/how we write opposite-gender characters and progressed to larger issues of gender fluidity, gay/queer characters, tolerance in general and how fiction informs and infuriates various audiences. I usually keep my own book pimpage to a minimum (no “wall’o’books” for me!) but I did get to talk about creating a gender-fluid race for my sf novel, Collaborators (forthcoming from Dragon Moon Press, May 2013). The panel gave rise to some pretty amazing connections.
In the middle of the afternoon, during my autographing session (in the art show) as a matter of face, a large demonstration took place in the park adjacent to the hotel. I believe it was of the Occupy tradition. A cadre of mounted police used the road between the hotel proper and the art show/dealer’s room as a staging area, much to the delight of the horse lovers among the attendees, who flocked out to chat about horses. The cops seemed reasonably gracious about answering questions. (This was the first time I’d seen horses wearing riot gear – clear shields over their eyes, some kind of protection for their noses.) There is something appealingly screwball about costumed sf/fers exchanging horse neepery with mounted cops during an Occupy demonstration, although I’m not sure the demonstrators appreciated it. Actually, I doubt they could view the interaction.
For both Friday and Saturday dinners, I “ran away” from the hotel with friends. For the first, my LaunchPad Astronomy Workshop buddy author/journalist Jennifer Willis and I hopped in her car and went adventuring, just drove until we found an area of restaurants, then walked until one caught our fancy. Thai food, homestyle, with quiet for serious conversation. After LaunchPad (which was summer 2011 for us), Jen was off to Ireland to investigate minority religions (who knew there were Muslims in Ireland, or a Buddhist healing retreat on the very Western edge?) I got to hear many stories of her adventures, and we caught up on personal and publishing news. She’s part of the Northwest Indy Writers Assn, one of many such support/coop groups springing up in the wake of ebooks and POD technology. Saturday, Dave Smeds and his wife and I decided we were not up for the extremely limited menu available at the hotel restaurant and ventured forth on foot, through the tangled wilds of Lloyd Center mall, and eventually to a seafood grill sort of place with a decent menu and an extraordinarily charming waiter. We talked writing and martial arts and growing-old injuries and nursing (Connie advancing the opinion that if she had to do it all again, she’d specialize as a nurse anesthesiologist).
Since I’d pretty much gone to bed after dinner, I was able to get up on Sunday, exercise, and make it to the SFWA regional meeting, where we were brought up to date on a number of matters. I was SFWA Secretary back in 2005, and these meetings always hold a soupcon of nostalgia. My final panel was another great one, on Writing Characters With Disabilities. We came up with all kinds of examples, good and bad, talked about “writing the other,” doing our homework with sensitivity, what makes good characters anyway. It was one of those panels that eventually morphs into a group discussion with the audience, in the best way.
After I was officially Done and had checked out, Irene Radford drove Dave Smeds and me over to Powell’s Beaverton for their Authorfest. We walked into the bookstore and gaped in astonishment and joy to see how crowded it was (and not just for the signings – the whole store!) Tables were arranged, books placed and displayed, and the fun began. Ru Emerson and I were at the very end of the rectangle, facing a table at which a school of Western martial arts (swordsmanship and the like) was holding forth. Partway through the signing time, a local group of Star Wars re-enactors posed for photographs. I went, “I’m a Star Wars author! Run, go get Tales From Jabba’s Palace! And proceeded to autograph copies. I had the usual lovely time talking to people who were just wandering by (“Hi! Would you like to hear about my books?”) or had brought a stack of out-of-print anthologies for me to sign. It was nice to chat in between with Ru, who I hadn’t seen in decades. She was wearing glamorous red satin high heels, admired by all and sundry. I haven’t been able to wear heels in decades, no matter how shiny or how “comfortable.”