My Capclave 2018 Schedule

I’ll be a guest at the Capclave convention soon (September 28 – 30) held just north of Washington DC.  It’s a fun little convention dedicated to the written word, whose slogan is “Where reading is not extinct.”

The Guest of Honor is Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Sturgeon and Locus Award-winning author Nancy Kress!

Here’s my schedule!

Friday 4:00 pm: Beginnings (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressWendy S. DelmaterWill McIntoshMichael A. Ventrella (M)
First sentence, first paragraph, first chapter. You only get one first chance to grab your reader’s attention. How do you craft the perfect opening hook?
Friday 6:00 pm: SFF of Political Resistance (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelists: Tom DoyleCarolyn Ives GilmanLarry HodgesMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Science fiction and fantasy are often not politically neutral: they can serve as a mirror of and a screen for contemporary controversy. What are examples of the SF/F under past repressive regimes? How may current authors best engage in political expression, and what are the pitfalls in balancing art and advocacy (there are certainly examples of bad writing making for worse propaganda). How may an author’s politics affect their career, for good or ill?
Friday 7:00 pm: Biggest Mistakes Made by New Writers (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: David BartellWendy S. DelmaterIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Our panelists just might be wiling to serve as examples of what not to do. Panelists share stories of things you shouldn’t do or at least what did not work at all for them.
Friday 8:00 pm: Anthology Builder (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelists: Neil ClarkeAlex ShvartsmanDavid StokesMichael A. Ventrella (M)
So you want to edit and publish an anthology. How do the stories get picked?  How do you come up with a theme? What sells and what doesn’t?  How do authors produce readable fiction in the straitjacket of an original themed anthology? How do you properly curate your anthology?
Friday 9:00 pm: Dealing With Rejection (Ends at: 9:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Neil ClarkeScott EdelmanBarbara Krasnoff (M), Michael A. Ventrella
Everyone in the field has to deal with rejection at some point. Panelists will talk about how they handle rejection, and in the case of editors, panelists will offer suggestions on how NOT to handle rejection
Friday 11:00 pm: How NOT to Get Published, a/k/a Late Night Tales From the Slush Pile (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Neil ClarkeWendy S. DelmaterBjorn HasselerIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella(M), Sean Wallace
Editors will discuss all the things authors shouldn’t do if they want to be published. For instance, submission guidelines exist for a reason. And no matter how brilliant your story is, threatening the editor will reduce the probability that it will be published to zero.
Saturday 7:30 pm: Mass autographing (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressAlyssa WongDanielle Ackley-McPhailJeanne AdamsCatherine AsaroT. Eric BakutisStafford BattleJonathan BrazeeJack Campbell – John G. HemryNeil ClarkeDoc ColemanWendy S. DelmaterTom DoyleKelly DwyerDeidre DykesAndrew FoxJim FreundCharles E. GannonCraig L. GidneyCarolyn Ives GilmanJ. L. GribbleBjorn HasselerInge HeyerLarry HodgesDavid KeenerBarbara KrasnoffMark LaportaJohn Edward LawsonEdward M. LernerWill McIntoshMike McPhailBernie MojzesJames MorrowKathryn MorrowLawrence M. SchoenDarrell SchweitzerAlex ShvartsmanJack SkillingsteadAlan SmaleJoe StechMichael A. VentrellaDavid WaltonJean Marie WardLawrence Watt-EvansJoan WendlandSteven H. WilsonA.C. WiseAllen L. Wold
Saturday 10:30 pm: Eye of Argon (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: Hildy SilvermanIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Our panelists read the worst fantasy story ever written, mistakes and all, and if they laugh or read it incorrectly, they are forced to act out the story. Just try not to fall over laughing! At some point, volunteers from the audience can participate and discover firsthand the author’s contentious relationship with spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Sunday 10:00 am: Politics in SF vs. Fantasy: Meaningful Differences or Not? (Ends at: 10:55 am) Washington Theater
Panelists: Aaron EmmelJames MorrowMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Do writers handle politics differently in fantasy than SF? How different is politics in a faux medieval setting vs. a future polity based on 20th or 21st century political movements?
Sunday 11:00 am: Endings (Ends at: 11:55 am) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressWendy S. DelmaterMary FanMichael A. Ventrella (M)
How do you stick the landing? So many stories start out well but end abruptly or just trail off, leaving the reader to wonder, what’s the point. Why does this happen and how can writers avoid this fate? How do you determine your endings? Is a twist ending a cheat?
Sunday 12:00 pm: I Hate His/Her Politics, But I Love His/Her Books (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: Day Al-MohamedJames MorrowCerece Rennie MurphyMichelle D. SonnierMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Should a personal evaluation of an author be separated from how you view his/her politics? Many people refused to see the movie Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s statements on homosexuality and other writers charge that political views influence award nominations and who is picked for con programming. Is this true and if so, is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Sunday 1:00 pm: Handling the Unavoidable Infodump (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Truman
Panelists: Jack Campbell – John G. HemryBrenda W. CloughIver CooperJames R. StrattonMichael A. Ventrella (M)
As you know, Bob, it’s often considered more elegant to establish backstory or setting details gradually rather than in an infodump. Sometimes, though, the demands of the rest of the novel leave little choice. What are some of the tricks to infodump in a way that at least keeps the reader interested, and doesn’t disrupt the other elements of the story? Are there ever points at which an infodump is preferable over other methods of communicating setting detail?
Sunday 2:30 pm: Reading: Michael A. Ventrella (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Lincoln
Author: Michael A. Ventrella
Sunday 3:00 pm: Write What You Don’t Know (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Jeanne AdamsDoc ColemanMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Fantasy authors rarely get irate email from dragons saying they got it wrong. How to write characters from places and times that you don’t know but members of your audience do, and why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone.

Here are some pictures from previous Capclaves!

My 2018 Ravencon schedule

Ravencon is a fun little convention that keeps growing — It used to be in my hometown of Richmond but now it’s in Williamsburg, right next to Busch Gardens where I spent many days riding roller coasters when I was younger… This year, the writer Guest of Honor is Chuck Wendig! Other guests include Philippa Ballantine, Tee Morris, Gail Z. Martin, and me (among many others!)

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Chuck Wendig, me, and Tee Morris.  I love this photo!

The entire program is here but here’s where you can find me:

Morally Ambiguous Bad Guys (Friday 5 pm): Those wonderful lawful- and neutral-evil bad guys. You love to hate them and hate that you love them. Panelists: John “Cal” Baldari, Kettle Maccaulay, Greg Smith, Michael A. Ventrella (Moderator)

Opening Ceremony (Friday 7 pm) Wherein guests are introduced and Mike Pederson tells some bad jokes

Elementary (Friday 8 pm): Why Sherlock Holmes is still popular after over 100 years.
The last of his stories just went into the public domain in the last year, has this increased the number of homages we’re seeing? Panelists: Sandra J. Baldari, Joshua LeHuray, Greg Smith, Michael A. Ventrella (M)

The Great Geek Debates (Saturday 11 am): Our panelists debate a variety of geeky subjects following standard debate club rules. We’ll focus on teen-friendly topics. Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella, Voices of Tomorrow Students, Michael J. Winslow (M)

The Allen Wold Writing Workshop (Saturday noon):  Allen Wold gives the writers attending a brief exercise. Then he and the panel will comment on each exercise, helping the writer understand what they have done well and where they can improve. Panelists: Paul Barrett, Michael A. Ventrella, Allen Wold (M)

Ignore this Advice: Writing Tips that Aren’t So Great (Saturday 2 pm):  Tips and tricks that turned out to be anything but helpful. Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Misty Massey, Greg Smith (M), Michael A. Ventrella

The Allen Wold Writing Workshop (Part Two) (Sunday 10 am): The conclusion of Allen Wold’s Writing Workshop. Only those that attended the first half may attend the second half. Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella, Allen Wold (M)

You Need an Editor (Sunday noon): You’ve gotten a piece written, but it’s not finished until it’s been through the editor’s hands. Panelists: Janet Carden, Darin Kennedy, Michael A. Ventrella, John G. Walker (M)

My 2018 Heliosphere schedule

Heliosphere is a fairly new convention just outside of New York city. The second one will be held on the weekend of March 9th, and guests include Charles Gannon, Eric Flint, Tom Kidd, Cecilia Tan, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Lori Perkins, Mike McPhail, my wife Heidi Hooper (who was artist guest of honor last year!) and many more. Baker Street 2

My latest book Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot! will be promoted there. We’ll be having a raffle for prizes and although the book has not yet been released, the publisher has allowed us to sell Advance Review Copies (ARCs) for a discounted price. You can also meet some of the writers who have stories in the book, including Keith DeCandido, Hildy Silverman, R. Rozakis, Gordon Linzner, and Derek Beebe.  Autographs are free!

Here’s my schedule:

Solicited Advice: Editors Share Their Thoughts (Friday 5 pm): Get inside the editors minds and see why they accept and reject certain work. With Bjorn Haessler, Mike McPhail, Alex Shvartsman, and Ian Randal Strock.

Hogwarts House Party (Welcome to Heliosphere) (Friday 8 pm): A grand opening ceremony where all the major guests are introduced. I’m the emcee! We’ll also be placing the Sorting Hat on our guests and con attendees to see which Hogwarts House they’ll end up in.

Books ‘n’ Brew (Saturday 11:30 am): A time where you can sit down with some of your favorite authors over tea or coffee and just talk. With Laura Antoniou, Russ Colchamiro, and Hildy Silverman.

Ka Pow! the Art of the Fight Sequence (Saturday 4 pm):  How to integrate action scenes into your story without them taking over. With Keith R.A. DeCandido, Charles Gannon, and Mike McPhail.

Readings (Saturday 5:30): Authors read from their recent works. With Laura Antoniou, Carol Gyzander, and Hildy Silverman. 

Raffle (Saturday 10 pm): We’ll read off the raffle winners for the Baker Street Irregulars prizes!

Through the Ages With Sherlock Holmes (Sunday 2 pm): A not so elementary discussion of Sherlock and how he’s changed through the years. With Elizabeth Crowens, Teel James Glenn, and Mercy Van Vlack. 

Murder Your Darlings (Sunday 3:30 pm): Gerorge RR Martin has taken the art of killing off fan favorites to new heights. Others have tried to copy his style with…. mixed results. What makes this work for some stories and just plain suck for others? With Griff Barber, Eric Flint,  Charles Gannon, and Hildy Silverman.

My 2017 Capclave Schedule

Capclave is a fine little literary SF convention held near Washington DC, which this year will be on the October 6th weekend. small_dodo_transparentCome and join us and meet some of your (and my) favorite authors and editors, including but not limited to Neil Clarke, Ken Liu, James Morrow, Alex Shvartsman, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Allen Wold, and many more (including me!)

Capclave is where I spoke to George R.R. Martin a few years ago and then became an internet sensation for a week or so because of the “Hodor” comment.

Here are some pictures I took from from the convention in 201320142015, and 2016.

And here’s my current schedule (subject to change):

Friday 6:00 pm: How Not To Get Published (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Salon A
Panelists:Neil ClarkeMike McPhailHildy SilvermanIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Editors will discuss all the things authors shouldn’t do if they want to be published. For instance, submission guidelines exist for a reason. And no matter how brilliant your story is, threatening the editor will reduce the probability that it will be published to zero.
Friday 7:00 pm: Write What You Don’t Know (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Scott H. AndrewsJoshua PalmatierMichael A. Ventrella (M), Jean Marie Ward
Fantasy authors rarely get irate email from dragons saying they got it wrong. How to write characters from places and times that you don’t know but members of your audience do, and why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone.
Friday 10:00 pm: Michael Ventrella Reading (Ends at: 10:25 pm) Bethesda
Author: Michael A. Ventrella
Saturday 2:00 pm: Writing Workshop (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Boardroom
Coordinators: Andrew FoxMichael A. VentrellaAllen L. Wold (M), Darcy Wold
Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. All you need is a pen and paper. Limited to 15 people.
Saturday 11:00 pm: Eye of Argon (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists: Hildy SilvermanIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Our panelists read the worst fantasy story ever written, mistakes and all, and if they laugh or read it incorrectly, they are forced to act out the story. Just try not to fall over laughing! At some point, volunteers from the audience can participate and discover firsthand the author’s contentious relationship with spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Sunday 10:00 am: Abusing Authors (Ends at: 10:55 am) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Sarah AveryScott EdelmanWill McIntosh (M), Lawrence M. SchoenIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella
Panelists answer whatever questions the audience has on writing, editing, character development, agents, and others. Includes many non-writer-parts-of-being-a-writer, such as being your own boss, setting schedules, and so on.
Sunday 11:00 am: Writing Workshop (Follow-up) (Ends at: 11:55 am) Suite 1209
Coordinators: Michael A. VentrellaAllen L. Wold (M), Darcy Wold
A one hour follow-up session.
Sunday 12:00 pm: Political Dynamite (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists: Sunny MoraineJames MorrowMalka Older (M), Michael A. Ventrella
Writers and editors talk about how they address current events in their work and in social media–and what they don’t.

My 2017 Ravencon schedule

Ravencon is a fun little convention that keeps growing — It used to be in my hometown of Richmond but now it’s in Williamsburg, right next to Busch Gardens where I spent many days riding roller coasters when I was younger… This year, the writer Guest of Honor is Mercedes Lackey! Other guests include Chuck Gannon, Philippa Ballantine, Tee Morris, Jack McDevitt, Bud Sparhawk, and me (among many others!)  Here’s where you can find me:

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Opening Ceremony (Friday 7 pm) Wherein guests are introduced and Mike Pederson tells some bad jokes

What Rules to Break and Which Don’t Apply (Friday 9 pm): Many new authors have heard the rules: One POV per scene, don’t use adverbs, limit the POVs to no more than three per story. These “rules” have been taught for over a hundred years, but who came up with them and do they still apply to the modern reader? With Nicole Givens Kurtz, Kelly Lockhart, and Melissa McArthur

The Dystopia is Already Here; It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed (Friday 10 pm): Unable to change abortion laws that have already been decided upon by the Supreme Court at the federal level, many state legislatures have gotten laws approved that effectively ban abortions by curtailing various freedoms for “medical” reasons. Protections for voting rights have eroded in a similar manner, at the state level. While dystopian literature has all but taken over the field of Young Adult SF, the resolutions offered by these narratives are often violent. How could SF/F predict more realistic/more feminist ways to combat local hostile governments? With Nancy Northcott, Carolyn O’Neal, and Gray Rinehart 

Time Travel in Literature (Saturday 1 pm): Many books include time travel, some more successfully than others. How does time travel affect plot lines and history in different ways in different books? What are some of the more creative uses of time travel and ways around the paradoxes? With Lou Antonelli, Darin Kennedy, and Steve White 

Ethics Behind the Story: Moral Dilemmas In SFF (Saturday 2 pm): Science fiction as a genre is rife with future ethical issues. Fantasy is all about the moral choices of heroes and villains. Learn about ethical dilemma, receive a brief overview of Western ethical philosophy including the diverse approaches to resolving moral dilemmas, and discuss what important moral issues we will face in the future. With Charity Ayres and Fabian Rush

Pre-Judging for the Masquerade (Saturday 6 pm): In which I give a pep talk and advise the masquerade participants in how to present themselves for the judges and the audience.

Reading (Saturday 9:25 pm):  I’ll be reading something (audience choice)!

Signing (Sunday 10 am) I’ll be signing anything anyone wants me to sign (preferably my books)

My Heliosphere 2017 schedule

Heliosphere is a brand new convention I will be attending next weekend (March 10th) and is very special because it will be hosting the book release party for my latest:  Baker Street Irregulars!baker-street

The Guest of Honor at the convention is David Gerrold, who has a story in this new anthology, so this is the perfect place for our release party. Also in attendance will be other contributors to the book, including Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ryk Spoor, Hildy Silverman, and Austin Farmer!

Heliosphere will be held in Tarrytown, New York, just outside of the city. (Also I have to brag a bit: My wife Heidi Hooper is the “Special Guest” artist!)

Here’s my schedule:

Reading (Friday 3:30): I’ll be reading from my work, along with Anthony Balilovsky, Keith DeCandido, Alex Shvartsman, and Grant Carrington.

Books and Brews (Saturday 10:00) Come join me for coffee (no brews at 10 am, unless you want to) and we can talk about anything you want!

Capturing and Changing History in Speculative Fiction (Saturday noon): History is always subjective. Or at least written by the winners. How do you keep it close enough to recognize but different enough to be exciting? Listen to discussions among Pros and Fans. With Charles Gannon and Roberta Rogow.

Baker Street Irregulars book launch party (Saturday 1:30): A celebration for my new book, with prizes!

Elementary, My Dear Watson (Saturday 4:30): Why is Sherlock Holmes still so popular? People are flocking to recent comic releases, films, and plays. Panelists will discuss why Sherlock is still such a popular figure in contemporary culture. With guests Carol Bugge, Elizabeth Crowens, Keith DeCandido, and Marvin Kaye.

Autographing (Sunday 11:15): I’ll be sharing autographing space with David Gerrold and David Harten Watson.

The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers (Sunday 2:00): My solo presentation for new writers.

My Arisia 2017 schedule

I was at the very first Arisia convention in Boston way back when it started in the 80s, and started being a guest in the 90s. I haven’t attended in a few years for various reasons (such as attending my wife’s Niche Award ceremonies for art, where she won!), and it will be nice to get back to Boston, where we lived for a dozen years or so and made many friends.

Unfortunately, Arisia only scheduled me for three panels, only one of which is about writing. The other two are about animated films, which apply to me from my days as founder and editor of Animato! magazine.  They refused to allow me to do my normal “Eye of Argon” panel because it may be seen as insulting to the dead guy who wrote it. Go figure.

The convention is from January 13 – 16th.

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I’ll spend the convention more as a vacation, visiting friends and having a good time, instead of as a programming guest like I usually do (especially since it is a three day convention). I’d like to tell you who they are but the Arisia web page doesn’t list any of us, apparently. We must not be very important.

In any event, if you are going to be there, be sure to say hi! Here’s where you can be sure to find me:

Moana (Sunday 10 am): Disney’s Moana, their latest release, is a huge hit. We’ll discuss what we loved and didn’t love about The Rock’s first major role anchoring a Disney animated flick, as well as their handling of native Hawaiian mythology (and casting), and the use of music by Tony Winner Lin-Manual Miranda. With panelists Hanna Lee Rubin Abramowitz, Konner Jebb, Kate Nepveu, Barbara M Pugliese. I’m the moderator of this one.

Movie Year in Review (Sunday 2:30): Our annual look back at the year in SF, horror, and fantasy film. Our panel of experts will cover every theatrical release of 2015. Find out which ones are worth catching up with. Note: Time for audience participation is reserved for the end of our panel’s high speed review. With panelists Bob Chipman, Deirdre Crimmins, Garen Daly, and me, with moderator Daniel M Kimmel.

Writing a Worthy Adversary (Sunday 8:30): Nothing brings a story to life like a worthy antagonist, but how do you figure out the yang for your protagonist’s yin? What is your villain’s backstory? What are some of the ways they can twist, torment, and temper your main character? And how can a good antagonist act as your protagonist’s mirror? Boo! Hiss! Come learn how to write bad guys your audience will love to hate. With panelists Michael Bailey, D. L. Carter, Alexander Danner, and Leigh Perry. I am moderating this one as well.

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