My Balticon 2023 Schedule

Balticon is the annual literary science fiction convention that I always try to attend. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and this year, they’re keeping me real busy on panels! If not on a panel, you’ll probably find me at the Fantastic Books table in the dealer’s room.

I’m looking forward to finally meeting John Scalzi there — I have all his books!

Anyway, here’s my schedule:

So you Want to Be a Writer? (Friday 4 pm): Joshua Bilmes (moderator), Monica Louzon, Ian Randal Strock, Michael A. Ventrella. How does a would-be writer become a published author? What are the steps to improve your writing and produce publishable work? Should you start with short stories or a novel? Do you need an agent (and how can you get one). Published writers tell how they broke in and how you can learn from their example.

Reading (Saturday 10 am): Michael A. Ventrella. I’ll probably read my short story from the “Eye of Argon” anthology

They Banned my Book (Saturday 11:30 am): AD Boorman (moderator), Shahid Mahmud, Elektra Hammond, Martin Berman-Gorvine, Michael A. Ventrella. Books are being banned in libraries and schools. Have you had to deal with an attempt to ban or censor a book? What did you do? Why are we seeing more attempts to ban/censor books? Is there ever a good reason to ban/censor?

As You Know, Bob (Saturday 1:00 pm): Michael A. Ventrella (moderator), Ann Chatham, Alan Smale, Aaron M. Roth, David Keener. Science Fiction and Fantasy frequently has an enormous amount of backstory that needs to be conveyed to the reader. How can writers share this backstory without having one character explain to another something they both should already know, with an “As you know, Bob”? How can the writer avoid long paragraphs of background? And how do readers learn to accept things that don’t make sense at first and trust the author to fill it in?

Limits on YA (Saturday 5:30 pm): Michael M. Jones, A. L. Kaplan, Dr. Jim Thorne, Michael A. Ventrella. There is often a problem with defining YA and it often boils down to whatever the publisher declares is YA. But are there limits to YA? Is there anything that cannot be included in YA or whose presence makes the book not YA?

A Little Laughter is a Serious Thing (Sunday 11:30 am): Randee Dawn (moderator), Alex Shvartsman, Michael M. Jones, Mary G. Thompson, Michael A. Ventrella. Many serious books/tv/movies still add some humor, especially in dialogue. How much humor can you include before it looks like you are trying for the next Hitchiker’s Guide? Can humor be distracting? What books/tv/films get it right and what ones don’t?

Do Alternate Histories Still Need Turning Points? (Sunday 5:30 pm): Walt Boyes (moderator), Martin Berman-Gorvine, Jim Beall, Roberta Rogow, Jack Campbell, Michael A. Ventrella. It used to be that authors of alternate history invented a turning point (point of divergence) and everything logically followed from that change. Is this still necessary? Can an author just say what if the Romans discovered America or what if the South won the civil war and just go on with the story? What is gained and lost in such an approach?

Here are some pictures from previous Balticons. Click to enlarge.

One Response

  1. Looking forward to seeing you and Heidi. We’re on some panels together.

    Liked by 1 person

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