MileHiCon 44

As promised, here is my schedule for MileHiCon 44.  The convention is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Denver Tech Center from Friday, October 19th through Sunday, October 21st.


Online Alphabet Soup, Grand Mesa B-C, 11:00 AM
This promises to be a fun panel about SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, and various other attempts to control the Internet. I’ll be in the esteemed company of Andrew Burt (former SFWA vice president, notorious Critter Captain, founder of the world’s first ISP, and e-publisher of out-of-print works by Ben Bova, among others), Marie DesJardin (technical writer and author of For the Time Being), Arlen Feldman (software developer, computer book author, and recovering costumer), and Doris Beetem (a longtime fixture of MileHiCon and short story author.)

Playing with Participants, Atrium, Table 2, 2 PM
This is an opportunity to sit down for an hour or so and play a game of … something … with me.  Assuming I can find them in the sea of boxes that materialized after my recent move, I’m likely to bring along some of my old Magic: The Gathering decks or my Car Wars boxed edition.  Any takers?


Falling Skies, Terra Nova, and Primeval, Mesa Verde A, 12 PM
Join me, Daniel Dvorkin (the writer, not the Chicagoan who hired a hitman to kill a rival businessman), Patrick Hester (from the Hugo nominated Functional Nerds podcast), Christopher M. Salas (Colorado Springs author and martial arts expert), and SFWA Grand Master Connie Willis (!!!) as we discuss the above television shows.  I followed Terra Nova all the way through its short run, and enjoyed it quite a bit, but I’m going to have to brush up on the other two a bit.

Poetry Fantastique, Wind River A, 3 PM
I have the honor of moderating the poetry panel this year, and with guests like Gail R. Barton (who read some wonderful poetry last year), Daniel Landes (Westword writer), Dr. Rob S. Rice (historian specializing in ancient and military history, poet, fiction writer, non-fiction writer, and steampunk fan), and anyone else who happens to show up (Owen Allen and Laura Deal, I’m looking your way), it should be a great hour of poetry. I may even get up the guts to read the steampunk rewrite of “The Windhover” that’s been rolling around in my brain.  (Imagine if Gerard Manley Hopkins had never entered the priesthood, and instead became an early Vorticist or Pre-Raphaelite.  Does your brain hurt yet?)

When I’m not on panels, I’ll probably be checking out other people’s panels, getting books signed, or wandering around with my lovely steampunk-bedecked wife.  I’m looking forward to it!

MileHiCon 41

You asked for it, you got it:  My MileHiCon 41 panel schedule!

(Okay, so no one asked for it, but here it is anyway!)

Hyatt Regency — DTC
Saturday, October 24

10:00 AM, Mesa Verde Room A: “GM 101 – A Thief, A Mage, and a Paladin Walk Into the Tavern” — I’m moderating this panel about how a GM can make the difference between a good role-playing campaign and a tortuous one.  Featuring Ephemeris game designer J. Alan Erwine and three other experienced GMs.

12:00 PM, Wind River B: “Disabled Fen and Con Challenges” — Disabled people are SF fans, too!  I expect this to be a frank discussion about what works and what doesn’t for disabled individuals in a convention setting.

2:00 PM, location TBD: “Playing with Stace Johnson” — This probably won’t be as pornographic as it sounds; it’s more likely to be me sitting at a table somewhere armed with one of my favorite games, looking for someone to game with for an hour.  (Unfortunately, it looks like Brandon Sanderson has already claimed Magic: The Gathering.  I’ll have to think of something else.)

4:00 PM, Grand Mesa B-C Stage: “SciFi Theatre” — I don’t know what this is about yet, though I have a guess that it involves either improv or one-act plays.  Either way, Connie Willis is one of the other scheduled participants, so I’m excited.

Sunday, October 25

12:00 PM, Wind River A: “It’s Almost 2010: What is Your Computer Up To?” — I get to be on another tech panel this year, with Andrew Burt, David Dvorkin (I don’t think it’s Daniel), Drupal Master John Fiala, and the mysterious L. Rowe (could be any number of people!)

If you’re coming to MileHiCon, I hope to see you there.  If you’re not, why the hell not?!

Planteing Rumors

Today an excellent e-mail conversation sprung up concerning a website by a writer named Brian Plante, whose work I’ve never read. On those pages, Plante chronicles his experiences with a local writing group which he basically infiltrates, hiding his status as a semi-professional writer from the participants in the group and then posting comments about them and their practices on the weblog. It seems to me he has a specific idea of how a writing workshop should be run, and he’s unfairly grinding his axe on the members of this unsuspecting writer’s group.

I am a member of three writing groups (and a non-participating member of Andrew Burt’s excellent group; I just couldn’t keep up with the pace and maintain the others as well.) It seems to me that the most important aspect of any critique group is honesty. Critiques should be civil, but honest. If a piece is written poorly, the writer needs to know so s/he can fix it; the writer won’t benefit from false “I liked it” criticism. The writers putting their work out for critique have to trust that the other members are going to be honest with them. By posing as a novice writer and then exposing the group’s goings-on in his weblog, Plante is betraying that trust, even if he has changed all the names to protect the individuals involved.

Plante claims to have posted notices about this blog on the Speculations website, but I didn’t see them in the Rumor Mill. If he did post them there, I have to wonder about his motivations; by advertising this, he has to know that he’s coming across as duplicitous. Does he think that other writers — and especially editors — are going to find this to be an admirable trait?

All this discussion about blogs made me question whether I am being fair in mentioning friends occasionally in this creativity log. I think I’m okay, because when I do mention my friends by name, it’s only in a positive context, and generally only in relation to how that friend has affected my creativity for that day. This is not a personal journal, like some blogs. It has a theme, and I think it’s smart for me to keep it that way, after reading Diane Patterson’s excellent essay “Why Web Journals Suck..” I stumbled across that while reading a journal recommended to me by my friend Michael Main. Bluejack is an online journal that seems to be intentionally anonymous; I couldn’t find the writer’s name on the site at all, and rather than dig through the WhoIs records, I’ll just take it on faith that the writer would like it to remain somewhat anonymous. The writer of this journal is currently attending Clarion West in Seattle (lucky dog) and I think I will find his daily journals to be inspirational.