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.

My 2016 Philcon Schedule

I’m looking forward to the Philcon science fiction convention the weekend of November 18th. It’s Philadelphia’s oldest literary convention. It’s in New Jersey.  (Look, it was cheaper, okay?)philcon_logo

I’ve been a guest at Philcon for years, and it’s always great to go back there and see so many of my friends. The Guest of Honor is C.J. Cherryh! Other guests include Philippa Ballentine, Keith DeCandido, Gregory Frost, Barry Longyear,  Lawrence Schoen, Tee Morris, and many more famous award-winning authors you’ve probably heard of (I didn’t want to list them all and take up the whole blog post).

Here’s my schedule:

Friday 11:00 PM: EYE OF ARGON INTERACTIVE: CHAPTER THREE [Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella (mod), Peter Prellwitz, Ian Randal Strock, Hildy Silverman, Bethlynne Prellwitz]: Since everyone is usually laughing too hard to get through reading what has been dubbed the worst piece of published SF of all time, we thought we’d start where we left off last year. We’ve got a roster of pros to get it going, but after that, audience participation is
expected.

Sat 5:00 PM: CAN INTERPLANETARY GOVERNMENTS ACTUALLY WORK? [Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella (moderator), Neil Clarke, James Beall, Ariel Cinii, Tom Purdom, John Skylar]: Empires, Federations, Alliances… there are many examples of various types of interplanetary, or interstellar, governments found in science fiction. But would any form of government actually work if it were extended between worlds, star systems, or even galaxies? We will examine how governing bodies might work over such long distances… or even if they can.

Sat 11:00 PM: WHOSE LINE IS IT, ANYWAY? [Panelists: Peter Prellwitz (mod), Hildy Silverman, Ian Randal Strock, Tee Morris, Michael A. Ventrella]: Come watch and wince as our hammy authors attempt to act out terrible improvisational skits based on audience suggestions and a devious MC.

Sun 1:00 PM: IMAGINING AN ATHEIST REALITY [Panelists: John Grant (mod), Kathleen Bragg, Lawrence Kramer, David Silverman, Gordon Linzner, Michael A. Ventrella]: Is atheism just another belief system like any other religion, or do atheism and secular humanism stand in the unique position of being unbiased government and social worldviews, able to make decisions free from religious bias? And if the latter is the case, what other biases and difficulties might be experienced by a culture that doesn’t recognize the existence of anything that can’t be counted and codified?

My Ravencon 2016 Schedule

Ravencon is a fun little convention that keeps growing — It used to be in my hometown of Richmond but this year, they are moving it to Williamsburg, right next to Busch Gardens where I spent many days riding roller coasters when I was younger…RavenConBanner

Anyway, the main guests this year are Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, but you can also find many other great writers. editors and agents, including many I’ve interviewed here on the blog:  Larry Hodges, Mike Kabongo, Gail Z. Martin,  Peter Prellwitz, Bud Sparhawk, and Allen Wold! We’re also doing a tribute to my old college friend Bud Webster.

The convention is the weekend of April 29th.

Here’s where you can find me:

MARKETING AND BRANDING FOR AUTHORS (Friday 6 pm): Many old-school authors have stories about books that were rejected because the publisher didn’t know how to market them. In the Createspace world we live in, marketing has become the author’s responsibility. The panelists discuss tips and strategies on promoting your writing to a potential audience, and on how building the right identity can attract readers to your work. Panelists: Baine Kelly, Gail Z. Martin, Alex Matsuo, Michael A. Ventrella (M)

RAVENCON OPENING CEREMONIES (Friday 7 pm): We welcome attendees and guests to RavenCon 11 and present last year’s RavenConnie. Plus a performance by Jonah Knight.

BUD WEBSTER TRIBUTE (Friday 10 pm) Bud Webster was an author, a literary historian, a book dealer, and so much more. He was also a dear friend to many of us here at RavenCon. Join us as we share our favorite Bud stories. Panelists: Michael D. Pederson (M), Michael A. Ventrella, Allen L. Wold

THE EYE OF ARGON (Friday 11 pm): The worst science fiction story ever written gets a reading by our brave panel as they compete to go the longest without tripping over a misspelled word or laughing uncontrollably. Audience members are also encouraged to take a chance. Can you keep a straight face, especially when the panel begins acting out the story? Panelists: Gail Z. Martin, Peter Prellwitz, Gray Rinehart, Michael A. Ventrella (M)

LAW AND SOCIETY IN SCI-FI (Saturday 11 am): How do the law and social structure fit into Sci-Fi? Should you regulate the tech in your SF universe? What fundamental differences in law are there between SF and other genres? Panelists: Richard Groller, Stephen J. Simmons (M), Michael A. Ventrella

ALTERNATE HISTORY (Saturday 9 pm): Why is this genre so fascinating, and how does it relate to the rest of speculative fiction? What special challenges does it pose for the writer—and reader? Panelists: Kate Paulk, J. Matthew Saunders, Michael A. Ventrella (M), Steve White

READING: MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA READS BUD WEBSTER (Sunday 11 am): Michael A. Ventrella reads one of Bud Webster’s classic stories

My Lunacon 2016 schedule

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Robert Sawyer is the one on the right

I will be at Lunacon this weekend, one of the oldest science fiction conventions in the country. The Guest of Honor is Robert Sawyer, and I’m anxious to meet him in person having interviewed him here on the blog and talked to him on Facebook many times.

My schedule is very full (like I like it) and I’m honored that they have asked me to be the host of the Masquerade competition. Should be fun!

Promoting Your Book (Friday 6 pm): What works when promoting a book? Do book-signings really help a new author? Are bookmarks and/or postcards effective at garnering attention? What internet presence works or is a time-waster/PITA. Does a blog help or hurt an author? Does an author have to have a website? How do you find good reviewers? What tactics do NOT work? What methods might work for an established author that wouldn’t work for a beginner? Can you do it all yourself?  With Frederick Doot, C.E. Lawrence, and Paul Levinson.

The Eye of Argon (Friday 11 pm): The worst fantasy story gets a reading and the audience is invited to join in and see how far they can get before they crack up laughing. With Daniel Kimmel and Ian Randal Strock

Promoting Yourself in a Positive Way (Saturday 1 pm): Self-Promotion is an important part of building a career. Done poorly, it can do more harm than good. We will discuss items of self promotion to include book signings, postcards, bookmarks, a blog, website etc.. Do they help or hurt?  With Daniel Kimmel and David Walton

Censorship v. Free Speech (Saturday 2 pm): The arguments, the petitions, the points of view. With Marilyn Brahen, Gordon Van Gelder, and Kate Paulk  

The Biggest Mistakes New Writers Make (Saturday 5 pm): From poor openings to uninteresting characters to cliched plots, this panel will discuss the most common storytelling mistakes seen from new authors. This will also discuss promotional and business mistakes. With Gary Frank, Gordon Van Gelder, Larry Hodges, Robert J. Sawyer, and Hildy Silverman 

The Masquerade (Saturday 7 pm): Come and cheer on the best of the costumes as they march across the stage for your entertainment. (I’m the host!)

My Albacon 2016 Schedule

What a crazy two weeks. Last weekend we were down in Roanoke for Mysticon and this weekend, we’re off to Albany for Albacon. Albacon is special because my wife Heidi Hooper is the Artist Guest of Honor!albacon16 flyer v3-page-001

Albacon is also special because on Friday, they start very early and have what is basically a writer’s conference. It’s like a convention and a conference all in one. I am hosting some of these sessions, and I look forward to meeting some new writers there.

Here’s my schedule:

The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Authors (Friday 9 am):  We’ll discuss not only writing mistakes but also promotional mistakes: How writers have screwed themselves over and killed their chances of making it in the publishing world doing easily preventable things!  With Llalania Ghose, Jim Rudnick, and David Weber

Tooting Your Own Horn with Social Media (Friday 2 pm): Self-promotion is an important part of building a career. Poorly executed, it can do more harm than good. Our panelists will discuss what works and doesn’t work. With Debi Chowdhury, Kate Laity, and Keith Willis

Ice Cream Social (Friday 8 pm): What better way to meet the Guests of Honor and other participants than in a big party, complete with ice cream and all the fixings?

The Greatest Animated Films of All Time (Friday 10 pm): A debate over the list of best animated feature films. Will our panel agree or will the discussion break out in fisticuffs?  With Susan Hanniford Crowley, J.A. Fludd, Herb Kauderer, and Dawn McKechnie 

Reading (Saturday 3:30 pm):  I’ll be reading from “Bloodsuckers” and, depending on time, perhaps a bit of a preview of some upcoming works.

The Eye of Argon (Saturday 11 pm):  The worst science fiction story ever written gets a reading by our brave panel as they compete to go the longest without tripping over a misspelled word or laughing uncontrollably. Audience members are also encouraged to take a chance. Can you keep a straight face, especially when the panel begins acting out the story?  With James Cambias, Andre Lieven, Ryk Spoor, and Ian Randal Strock

Making Politics Work in Fiction (Sunday 11 am): Real world political narratives are filled with cultural revolutions, passionate speeches about social change, war, and intricate Machievellian plots. How can you portray them convincingly in your story? From noble houses in fantasy worlds to galaxy-spanning empires in SF, how do you make them believable and engaging without burying your reader in the intricacies of your setting’s political theory? With Ian Randal Strock and David Weber

 

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