Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sunday (final day) at Worldcon 75

On my last day at Worldcon 75 there were only three panels I wanted to attend, which was good because I was getting even more tired than earlier in the weekend. Afterwards I rested, did a bit of blog writing, met for one last time with some of the Writing Excuses Retreat members, and went to bed early to get ready for my 3am (Helsinki time) wakeup to start my 26 hours of travel homewards (arriving in Kingston at 10pm Eastern, 5am Helsinki).

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Saturday at Worldcon 75

On Saturday I got into all six of the six panels I’d selected. I had once considered adding a few more, but con and crowd fatigue took me back to my room (with a little lunch on the way).

Monday, 14 August 2017

Friday at Worldcon 75

On Friday there were fewer panels I wanted to attend, which was good because two weeks of travel were catching up with me. I managed to get into all six.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Thursday at Worldcon 75

Worldcon 75 is being held at the Messukeskus convention centre in Helsinki, a large venue for a large convention. Because of the castle tour I described in several previous posts, I missed the first day, which may have been a good thing for my tension level. The organizers apparently didn’t expect the huge crowds, so lots of rooms filled up; one fellow writer only got to 3 of 6 sessions she wanted. By Thursday they had decided to stop selling day passes to be fair to people who had already paid money, and managed to rent additional space and move several planned events into larger rooms. This made the printed schedules completely untrustworthy; I had fortunately arranged to use the online scheduler on the website, and made it to 7.5 of my chosen 8 talks (1st choice for seven timeslots, 2nd for one; I don’t remember which one).

Friday, 11 August 2017

From Heidelberg Castle to Helsinki

Worldcon has kept me very busy, so this post is a couple of days late. Wednesday was Heidelberg Castle. We stayed in town the night before and the 28 of us fit into 7 taxis to get to the base of the furnicular that takes people up the hill. The castle is at the first stop, so my vertigo never had to endure a long trip over empty space.

Unlike the others, Heidelberg Castle is in ruins. For the post part I'll let the pictures speak for themselves, since there was too much detail to remember.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Hohenzollern Castle

Today we took a short trip from T├╝bingen to Hohenzollern Castle in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, the ancestral seat of the Prussian monarchy. It has about 300,000 visitors a year, about a fifth of what Neuschwanstein gets but still ranking as one of the most popular castles in Germany. The tourist income goes towards castle upkeep and restoration.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau

This morning we left Munich in Bavaria and drove towards the Alps to see two castles close to each other: the famous Neuschwanstein in the hills, with Hohenschwangau in the valley below.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Short Story Intensive Workshop

On the last weekend of July 2016 I was fortunate to be able to participate in a short story workshop taught by Mary Robinette Kowal over a Google Hangout, with seven other students. It was advertised as "Intensive" and it sure was! But even though it turned out to be a bit too intense for me (I wasn't able to complete the Sunday exercises due to brain weasels and other problems), it was enormously valuable.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Lessons of WXR17

I’ve divided my blogging about the Writing Excuses Retreat 2017 into travel (the last few entries) and lessons from workshops (this posting). We were asked not to record the sessions, to respect the intellectual property rights of the instructors, so I’m not going into a much detail about the presentations. Instead, I’m focusing on how I think the retreat has affected my writing and me personally.


Wednesday August 2 involved a short three-hour tour of highlights of the city of Tallinn, Estonia, particularly the upper and lower parts of the Old Town.

Copenhagen and Stockholm

I’m dividing my blog entries into travelogue and writing; this is the description of the travel from leaving Kiel to touring Stockholm, with Copenhagen in between. Unfortunately wifi on the ship was sufficiently slow I couldn't upload photos in realtime, so this is several days late.

Friday, 28 July 2017


I found out a little about Kiel a week before the trip; a researcher who lives here was visiting one of my colleagues at Queen's. He said there wasn't much to see that was old, because the city was bombed out in World War II. It was a major submarine base and submarine construction dockyard, so was a major target.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Traveling to Germany

I'm composing this on because I'm in Kiel, Germany for the start of the Writing Excuses Retreat 2017 --- a writing conference taking place on a cruise around the Baltic. This post is about getting here; I expect to post more whenever I have Internet access.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Workshop: Worldbuilding in Urban Fantasy with Alyssa Cooper

Over the June 3-4 weekend I had a lot of fun at Limestone Genre Expo 2017, held at St. Lawrence College in my hometown, Kingston. There are many things I may want to blog about later, but what I most want to record first is my experience at the “World Building in Urban Fantasy” workshop run by Alyssa Cooper. I’ve been struggling with writing an urban fantasy series since my first National Novel Writing Month more than a decade ago. Alyssa’s guidance and insights were very helpful; with her permission I'm posting my notes on her session.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Multiple right answers

Someone posted this image on Twitter yesterday, and I surprised myself by reacting so strongly to it that I had to blog about it:
The Writer in Red has some important points (which I'll discuss below), but the initial bald statement "one of those people is wrong" really irritated me. The image is trying to get across an important pedagogical point: There can be more than one "right" answer to a problem.