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Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:13 PM PDT

Kossacks at Lunacon

by Swordsmith

As many of you know(or used to before the Publishing for Kossacks series went on hiatus), I'm a writer and editor, but I'm also a regular program participant and sometime organizer at Lunacon, the New York regional science fiction convention, run by a nonprofit group called the Lunarians. The convention features about 600 hours of literary, media, science, art, gaming, music, and other programming over this coming weekend (March 14-16). It also has a world class art show, 24-hour gaming and anime rooms, and a hopping bar where you can meet about 200 writers, artists, and editors who you didn't catch up with during the day.

And because there's so much overlap between genre fans, genre professionals, and Kossacks, for the second straight year there will be a DKos meet and greet on the actual program schedule.

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I'm a member of a Democratic Town Committee in rural northeast Connecticut. (Yes, I know that sounds like the opening to a Penthouse Letter, but please bear with me.) By last month, we finally hit a point where even the most conservative Liebercrats among our members agreed to support a call to end the war. I was asked to present language that could be voted on, and wanted to get some input here.

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I posted another version of this a few weeks ago, but since the convention is coming up in just a couple of weeks I wanted to remind people. Hopefully I'll see lots of you there at the meet & greet.

As many of you know, I'm a writer and editor, but for the last five years I've also volunteered to run the program at Lunacon, the New York regional science fiction convention, run by a nonprofit group called the Lunarians. The convention features about 400 hours of literary, media, science, art, gaming, music, and other programming over the weekend of March 16-18. It also has a world class art show, 24-hour gaming and anime rooms, and a hopping bar where you can meet about 200 writers, artists, and editors who you didn't catch up with during the day.

And because there's so much overlap between genre fans, genre professionals, and Kossacks, this year there is a DKos meet and greet on the actual program schedule.

Continue Reading

As many of you know, I'm a writer and editor, but for the last five years I've also volunteered to run the program at Lunacon, the New York regional science fiction convention, run by a nonprofit group called the Lunarians. The convention features about 400 hours of literary, media, science, art, gaming, music, and other programming over the weekend of March 16-18. It also has a world class art show, 24-hour gaming and anime rooms, and a hopping bar where you can meet about 200 writers, artists, and editors who you didn't catch up with during the day.

And because there's so much overlap between genre fans, genre professionals, and Kossacks, this year there is a DKos meet and greet on the actual program schedule.

Continue Reading

Dialogue
We’re all talkers, right? Most of us are, anyway. We know what a conversation should sound like, even if there’s no sound involved. (As the Gallaudet students recently proved, no actual speech is required to detect insincere conversation.) So why isn’t dialogue easy? Why do so many conversations lose their vitality when put down on paper, or get pulled out of context faster than a John Kerry song at the James Dobson Karaoke Festival? (I realize there isn’t such a thing... but there should be.) So, by reader request, some long-delayed suggestions on making dialogue work. (Yeah, I know it’s been a frighteningly long time since the last entry in this series... but I tried to make up for it a little with some bonus Leaving Laura excerpts.)

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Sat Nov 04, 2006 at 04:54 PM PST

Rove: The Roleplaying Game

by Swordsmith

"Nobody's that evil!" you've found yourself saying more than once in the last six years. "The real world is all about shades of gray, but these guys are less nuanced than the villains in a Jean-Claude van Damme movie. The only place that people behave this monstrously and get away with it is in really bad fantasy novels and really good roleplaying games."

Here's your chance to find out. What follows is the beginning of a roleplaying campaign setting using Washington D.C. as a gaming environment. Whether you want to vanquish the menace of the Dread Wizard Rove, or play the role of one of his minions attempting to thwart the ambitions of those meddlesome bloggers (and their pesky dog), you'll find something for you here. Feel free to write up your own ideas for places and people to be added to the system (Matt Drudge? The Page Dorm? The Libertarian Menace?)

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Worldbuilding
I've been teaching a bunch of big, sprawling setting-heavy books in my fantasy class recently (Lord of the Rings, The Mists of Avalon, A Wizard of Earthsea, with Watership Down and The Iron Dragon's Daughter coming up shortly) so I guess I have worldbuilding on the brain, but here's the thing: As a writer you still have to sell me on a believable world regardless of whether you're writing high fantasy or nonfiction. If I don't believe in the world where your book takes place - whether it's your vision of Middle Earth or your vision of the White House - I'm not going to believe in any of the points you're trying to make in your narrative.
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Being a northeast Connecticut DTC member means you get to talk to a lot of interesting people this time of year, and tonight that meant regretfully skipping Kossack Sherri Vogt's event in favor of the Killingly DTC's "meet the candidates" night. (Yes, there were two competing Democratic spaghetti dinner fundraisers in the same town on the same night, due to an unfortunate last-minute schedule change.) Probably the highlight of the night - which was energizing on many levels - was the best, most unified effort I've seen yet to bring the Lamont message home to town committee members who are still Lieberman supporters, or on the fence. The night also featured rousing speeches from Joe Courtney, Tom Swan (Lamont's campaign manager), State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Williams, and other folks all along the Democratic list. The message from everyone: Be energized and get out the vote!
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How Publishers Pay You
Last week we touched on the "ask what you can do for your publisher" part of the equation, but tonight is time to "ask not what your publisher can do for you." Publishers would prefer you not ask that, of course, and may react with Hastertlike expressions of shock and incredulity that you wouldn't trust your publisher to look out for your best interests, and want to sully your artistic purity by actually asking to be... you know... paid for it. But before I can quote specific payment clauses (like last week's contract language) I need to talk a bit about how it is that publishers pay authors.
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I almost didn't write this diary tonight. The events of the last couple of days have been so dispiriting, that I thought about taking a break, and just focusing on writing the books I have under contract, and the Connecticut election activities I'm involved with through the DTC I'm a member of. (Yeah, my name was on the round-up-and-torture list long before the Leaving Laura follies.) But then I thought about it a little more. The whole point of this series is to help progressive writers to finish books, sell them, and get them published. And I'll be damned if I'm going to stop pushing for that, just because our current government is treating the Constitution and Common Law the way previous generations of fascists treated partisans. ("For every incumbent you defeat, we'll execute ten more Constitutional rights.") So if you're new to the series, start reading here. But new or old, please write, and keep writing - fiction, nonfiction, whatever it is that touches your soul. While we still have a national conscience to be saved.
"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions." - Lillian Hellman

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Ideas
If you're a writer, people approach you reasonably often with variations on the following proposition: "I have a great idea for a book. How about I give you the idea, you write the book, and we'll split the profits." They seem to think that the key to a great book is a great idea, and that the specialness of the idea is what gives the book it's value. I hate to disillusion them, especially since most of them don't believe me, but here's a cold truth about writing: Ideas are the easy part.
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Tue Sep 19, 2006 at 09:44 PM PDT

How to Manipulate Your Professor

by Swordsmith

I started teaching my fall courses a few weeks ago, and while I'm pretty happy with this semester's students overall, way too many of them seem to have missed that class freshman year in how to get professors to say yes to your requests, not call on you when you're unprepared, and give you the benefit of the doubt on grades. (Well, it should be a required class for first-year students.)
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