MileHiCon 50 Announcement

Fifty years is a long time. MileHiCon, Colorado’s premier literary science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention turns 50 this year, and the organizers have pulled out all the stops. 

For the golden anniversary, organizers invited all surviving prior guests of honor to return, an impressive list of writers, artists, and fans. As of 10/15/2018, the following names are confirmed to be appearing:

Mario AcevedoPaolo Bacigalupi — Steven BrustLiz Danforth — Shaenon K. Garrity — Barbara Hambly — Stephen Graham Jones — Chaz Kemp — Ed Kramer — Jane Lindskold — Theresa Mather — Wil McCarthy — Jack McDevitt — Robert J. Sawyer — Jeanne C. SteinJohn E. Stith — Michael Swanwick — James Van Pelt — Robert E. Vardeman — Carrie Vaughn — KathE Walker — Connie WillisCourtney Willis — Lawrence Watt-Evans — Lubov Yegudin 

I will be moderating a couple of special events at this con, namely a 40th Anniversary SFPA / MileHiCon 50 poetry panel and, like last year, a panel remembering Edward W. Bryant, Jr. and his legacy. Publisher Jean-Philippe Gervais will be on hand to discuss and announce his seven year work in progress, the Complete Works of Edward W. Bryant, 1968-2018, a three volume compendium of Ed’s writing, authorized by Ed himself before he passed in early 2017.

My MileHiCon 50 appearance schedule is below. As usual, MileHiCon is being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center location. The dates are October 19-21, 2018.

Friday, October 19, 2018
2pm — Tips on Being an Awesome Panelist (Wind River B) — A discussion ranging from how to improve your chances of becoming a panelist at MHC to ways to prepare to wow the audience. With Wil McCarthy (Moderator), Carrie Vaughn, Goth Hobbit, Meg Ward, Stace Johnson.

3pm — Roundtable: Finding Your Tribe (Bristlecone/Other) — Fandom, a subset of fandom (anime, gaming) or something completely different … how do (or did) you find your tribe? With Nonir Amacitia, Stace Johnson (Moderator).

Saturday, October 20, 2018
1pm — MHC Poetry Slam & 40th Anniversary SFPA Celebration (Mesa Verde A) — Celebrating 50 years of MHC and 40 years of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Bring genre poetry to share — whether your own or some Rhysling winners penned by others that you love. All attendees will receive a theme-appropriate gift (while supplies last.) With Carina Bissett, JD Harrison, David Lee Summers, Stace Johnson (Moderator).

Sunday, October 21, 2018
10am — Ed Bryant’s Memory and Legacy (Mesa Verde C) — Friends of Ed, including the editor of the Bryant retrospective anthology, share memories and discuss the status of some projects related to Ed. With Jean-Philippe Gervais, John Stith, Stace Johnson (Moderator).

2pm — Bye Bye Net Neutrality (Wind River A) — What are the real-world effects of the FCC ruling, and what are the best and worst-case scenarios of what will happen? With Tim Anderson, Arlen Feldman (Moderator), Goth Hobbit, Stace Johnson.

Life Cycle of a Drabble

On July 23, 2018, Martian Magazine published my piece entitled “To Be Human,” along with an author spotlight about me. Martian publishes drabbles (100 word short stories) exclusively, so it’s right up my alley. I’m in good company, too, with authors like Lou J. Berger and Steve Rasnic Tem also making sales to that market. Working with editor Eric Fomley was a good experience; he even worked with me to resolve a misunderstanding about my submission, for which I’m grateful.

“To Be Human” has always been microfiction, but it has both grown and shrunk over the years. The names and genders of the characters have changed, as did the nature of the relationship between them. I originally wrote it in 2005; the first version was about 500 words and written for a different magazine, which rejected it. I tried a couple of other markets, unsuccessfully, and then shelved it.

In 2010, I revised it and sent it to a different magazine for a flash fiction submission call. This time, I got a more personal rejection and compliments on it, but it was still rejected. A couple of months later, I tried the original market again, since I had revised the story, but they still didn’t want it. Back on the shelf it went.

In 2016, I revised it up to about 1,000 words and sent it to a flash fiction contest. Same story; the editors liked it, but it didn’t win. In 2017, I tried again, this time for an anthology with very specific requirements that fit the story well, but apparently it didn’t fit the editor’s needs as well as I thought. Back on the shelf, permanently this time. If half a dozen markets didn’t like it, I figured there must be something wrong with it, and I should stop wasting time on it.

Then, in June of this year, I heard about Martian Magazine’s call for submissions, shortly before the end of their submission period. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to come up with something, so I looked through the archives in my Google Drive (my “shelf”) and found “To Be Human.” It was still in its heavyweight 1,000 word form, but I’m pretty good at revising to reduce word count, so I figured I’d give it a shot. (Revision is actually my favorite part of writing. It’s creating the content in the first place that slows me down.)

It wasn’t easy to cull 90% of the story and still keep the core intact, but it was fun. It was similar to revising poetry, actually, with my brain performing mental gymnastics to find just the right word, or to figure out how to change the context so I could use fewer words. In the end, the story is very tight, and I’m proud of it.

So far, my favorite interaction with readers is this one, from Twitter user Marc Criley:

Yes. Yes indeed, Marc.

Denver Comic Con 2018 Recap and General Update

My first Denver Comic Con as a panelist has come and gone, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Thanks to the efforts of superwoman Shannon Lawrence, I was able to participate in five panels over the three days of the convention. Here are some personal highlights.

Art

I picked up this beautiful piece of artwork by Chaz Kemp, one of my favorite local artists. Nearly every aspect of this piece has personal meaning to me, and I’m honored to own it.

 

"Insight" by Chaz Kemp

“Insight” by Chaz Kemp

 

I also stopped by the VisiColors booth and picked up some very cute stickers for my girlfriend.

 

VisiColors Stickers

VisiColors Stickers

 

Inspiration

I was lucky enough to get in the front row for Frank Miller’s Q&A session, though I couldn’t afford an autograph. Miller is by far my favorite comic book writer thanks to his incredible “Born Again” run in Daredevil. His economy of language and ability to tell a gripping story in so few words is inspirational to me. It’s no secret to people who have known me for a while that even though I haven’t collected comics for a long time, Daredevil is my favorite superhero, and seeing the man behind The Man Without Fear speak is a bucket list item I can now check off.

 

Comic book legend Frank Miller

Comic book legend Frank Miller

 

Also, after fighting my way through the throngs of people in the exhibitor hall, I finally found Connie Willis‘s signing table and she signed my personal copy of Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence. I’m honored to have a story in the same book as her, especially since it’s my first fiction sale. (I also got a free copy of Crosstalk, which she also personalized for me!)

 

Connie Willis personalization on the Prologue page of Edward Bryant's Sphere of Influence

Connie Willis personalization on the Prologue page of Edward Bryant’s Sphere of Influence

 

Artistic Growth and Exposure

After fighting through a writing slump in recent months, I feel like I’m finally moving again. With another recent sale to Martian Magazine (to be published online the week of July 23rd), I’m feeling motivated again, and event submitted a piece of flash fiction to Postcard Poems and Prose from my phone while at Comic Con. There’s a lot of my dad in that story, so it’s fitting that I submitted it over Father’s Day weekend, and I hope it does well in their “Clutch” contest.

I attended a panel on geeky songwriting (“I Sing and I Know Things”) featuring my friends Losing Lara and Seth Phillips, and Lara was kind enough to give me a shoutout about my upcoming Westercon 71 / MALCon 6 concert on Sunday, July 8th at 2 PM. Watch this space for a more detailed announcement about that con appearance, coming soon.

 

Seth Phillips, Will Plumb, and Losing Lara

Seth Phillips, Will Plumb, and Losing Lara

 

Big Audiences without Anxiety

I’ve been participating on panels at SF conventions for over 15 years, and I’ve helped organize them as far back as 1987. But Denver Comic Con is an order of magnitude larger than any other convention where I’ve appeared, so the panel attendees were an order of magnitude larger, as well. Here’s a shot of the audience for my final panel, on “Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology.” DeAnna Knippling did a masterful job moderating the panel, and the time flew by.

Audience for "Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology"

Audience for “Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology”

Even better, when I saw the size of the line before the panel and the number of people streaming in, I barely got nervous at all. The only time this introvert’s social anxiety really kicked in was when I was trying to thread my way through the exhibit hall during its busiest times. For me, that’s a major win.

 

General Update

My life has become very busy lately, between convention appearances, musical gigs, stories published, and everyday work and relationships. Add to that the fact that I’m currently displaced from the room I rent and living out of boxes because the owners of my home are renovating the basement where I live, and I would normally be freaking out. But I’ve realized that I’ve changed a lot in the last couple of years, and the positive changes are mostly due to things I have put in place myself. I told a colleague last September that I really wanted to focus on my writing and music, and good things are coming from that. Even the displacement has had positive effects; it has disrupted my normal routine enough that I’ve broken out of some habits that were taking too much of my time and reducing the quality of my sleep.

However, there have also been some challenges because of these positive changes. I’ve had to erect some boundaries in order to stay on track and not get behind. One of these is in the area of computer consulting. I’ve done consulting on the side for years, but I’ve never done it with a monetary focus; it’s always been about helping people resolve problems inexpensively. But if I want to keep up the momentum on my creative endeavors, I can’t accept any new clients, and I have to be judicious about helping existing clients. That means I’ve had to say “No” to some people who have wanted my help recently, and that’s a new — and difficult — thing for me.

Sometimes I wish I could clone myself so that I could have WriterStace, PoetStace, MusicStace, FriendStace, and ConsultingStace for various tasks. When it comes down to it, though, MeStace is my default setting; I don’t need to create him, and he takes precedent over all others, perhaps for the first time in my life.

This just in … (Updated 5/31/2018)

DCC Logo

In addition to the appearance at Denver Comic Con that I wrote about a few days ago, I am now going to be on a total of five panels! Please see below for my appearance schedule. DCC takes place at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, June 15-17, 2018.

I’m excited to be on my first Comic Con panels! HUGE thanks to Shannon Lawrence for including me.

Friday, June 15, 2018
Favorite Horror Tropes
Horror is full of common tropes, for good or ill. Let’s talk favorites. Which tropes are the best, the ones that stand out and make us beg for more? Which ones do we revisit over and over in books, television shows, and movies? We’ll discuss the horror tropes that make us shriek, shudder, and shake in fear. And the ones that make us think long into the night, while we peer into the shadows … and our own psyches.
Coast City – Mile High Ballroom DCCP4, 4:00 pm – 4:50 pm
Panelists: Melissa Sauer Locy (Moderator), Veronica R. Calisto, DeAnna Knippling, Emily GodhandShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Saturday, June 16, 2018
Creating Believable Monstors
The more believable the monster, the more frightening it’ll be. But how do you take creatures of fantasy and make them real to the reader? What about when the monster is human? What details must be addressed to form a fully realized creature to creep and slash its way through your fiction?
Room 405, 12:30 pm – 1:20 pm
Panelists: Matt Bille (Moderator), Veronica R. Calisto, DeAnna KnipplingShannon LawrenceFleur BradleyStace Johnson

Not Just Novels — Writing Different Lengths
You frequently hear about novels, but writing comes in many lengths, from one sentence stories to flash fiction, short stories to novellas, and everything in between. Do some genres work better in short form? Are there some genres that don’t work in short form? What are some of the benefits of writing shorter works? Is the dynamic different?
Room 405, 5:30 pm – 6:20 pm
Panelists: DeAnna Knippling (Moderator), Jason Dias, Fleur Bradley, Carolyn Kemp, and Shannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Sunday, June 17, 2018
First Steps in Self Publishing
More authors are taking their careers into their own hands, whether going exclusively indie or going forward as hybrid authors. But what does it take to self-publish? What are the first steps? We’ll go over the initial elements that need to be addressed in order to get started with self-publishing.
Room 405, 10:30 am – 11:20 am
Panelists: Marla Newbrough Bell (Moderator), Patrick Hester, Melissa Sauer Locy, Andy BurnsShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

Black Mirror and the Evils of Technology
Black Mirror addresses the dark aspects of technological advancement in a time where technology is rapidly taking over our lives, from our bank accounts to our social and online presence. Why should we be afraid of technology? Where does it end? What topics haven’t they discussed yet?
Room 605, 4:30 pm – 5:20 pm
Panelists: DeAnna Knippling (Moderator), David R. Slayton, Veronica R. CalistoShannon Lawrence, Stace Johnson

w00t!

A word about the GDPR

On May 25, 2018, enforcement begins on a new set of European Union (EU) regulations designed to protect the privacy rights of consumers online called the General Data Protection Regulations, or GDPR. These regulations are designed to protect EU consumers globally, not just within the boundaries of the EU, so it has the potential to affect American businesses and websites that have customers in the EU, even though the regulations are not part of the United States legal structure.

The idea is that if a person in the EU visits and gives personally identifying information (PII) to a website anywhere outside the EU, their personal information is protected because they are making the transaction from within the EU, even though the transaction itself may not take place in the EU. For instance, if someone from France visits this website and opts into the email subscription form at left using their email address, they are giving me personally identifying information, and it is my responsibility to be transparent about what that information will be used for, as well as providing the subscriber with the ability to opt out of the subscription easily if they so choose. Since I don’t actually sell anything through this website or my consulting website and don’t do business in the EU, my exposure appears to be limited to the caretaking of email addresses. At least, that’s how I interpret the research I’ve been doing.

To that end, here is my official statement regarding my intent for the PII of my site visitors.

  • I will never sell your personally identifying information. I will never give it to anyone without directly asking your permission first (and likely will never give it away for any reason.)
  • The regulations state that any opt-in features should require active input from the user, like checking a checkbox that is not already prepopulated or another “binary choice given equal prominence.” This site already complies with that, because a user must type in an email address and actively click a Subscribe button to join my site’s subscription list, which I then manage personally, not through any third party.
  • This website is the only entity authorized to use any personally identifying information gathered from visitors (email addresses, in this case), and it will only use that information for purposes of notification about website updates or direct interaction initiated by visitors to the site.
  • You are free to leave the subscription list at any time. Just visit the Contact page and let me know you want your address removed. I will comply as soon as I am able, after which you will receive one confirmation email from me at the address you provided on the Contact form, but no more subscription or site related emails after that.
  • Per the requirements of the regulations, I will begin keeping private records documenting how and when visitors provided me with personally identifying information, what that information consists of (email addresses), and what the visitor is consenting to (email notifications of new blog posts or relevant site-related changes.)

If you have any questions or concerns, please use the Contact page to let me know. Thank you for your time and understanding.

Stacy A. Johnson
Owner and Maintainer, lytspeed.com
May 23, 2018