At no point in my long and wicked life have I been what one would call an "early adopter". I don't follow fashion trends. I refuse to beta-test new technologies unless someone is paying me to do it. I wait while someone else works the bugs out and they prove themselves to be robust and not a flash in the pan. I upgrade my smart phone and my computer when I have absolutely no choice in the matter. My mantra in such matters is that fine old saying of technicians everywhere: "If it aint broke, don't fix it."
The same goes for my adoption of social media. I've been on LiveJournal the longest, and didn't join FaceBook until a few years ago. And it wasn't until this weekend that I finally got a Twitter account.
If so inclined, feel free to follow me: @Lee_HarpHaven. I'm still learning the ropes, so be patient.
1. Himself successfully completed the coursework and earned his MBA. Proud of him, I am.
2. “Hell Hath No Fury...”, a Copperwood Bard story and one of my favorites, was accepted for inclusion in Unconventional Fantasy: A Celebration of Forty Years of the World Fantasy Convention. I’m quite pleased.
Three weeks ago, our DSL modem pointed its toes to the sky and blinked its last blink. The provider is one of those that only conducts customer support by email, so a few days were wasted waiting for an initial response, responding to that with “we’ve already done that”, and finally being told that a replace modem would be shipped, to arrive in 3 - 5 days.
Did I mention I was getting ready for a convention (ContraFlow in New Orleans) along with the usual stuff I really need Internet access for?
Discussion ensued, and we contacted our cable provider. (We’d been planning to do an upgrade on our TV plan at some point, anyway.) A reasonable upgrade deal was made and a morning appointment set for the installation, a couple of days before I was to head for New Orleans. In the meantime, the replacement DSL modem arrived, Himself hooked it up, and it worked – sort of. Enough that I was able to do what I needed to in preparation for the convention.
Comes installation day, and Himself decided to work from home and be here when the installer arrived, in case there was anything that needed to be moved, etc. Installation time came and went. No joy. Numerous phone calls ensued, multiple people talked to, promises made, etc. A second appointment made for late afternoon. Himself decided to work from home for the rest of the day. I continued packing. We’d been given a direct phone number for the customer service supervisor we’d talked to last, with instructions to call her if the installer hadn’t arrived by a half-hour before the end of the two-window. At a half-hour before the end of the two-hour window, we called. And got her voicemail telling us she was gone for the day and would be back in the office two days later. (I would be in New Orleans by then.)
More phone calls made, and another customer service supervisor was acquired. Profuse apologies before he put us on hold to find out what the hell was going on. Many minutes passed listening to the joys of having the cable providers many services before he came back and filled us in. The gist: the first installer was also the second installer (once assigned, there is no provision for reassigning work orders), and the dispatcher had been unable to raise him all day. The installer was MIA, and no one could explain it. I suggested a review of that particular subcontractor’s performance might be in order. We were offered an installation appointment two days later, when I would at ContraFlow and Himself would be hip-deep in a major project at work. We canceled the order – Internet service *and* upgrade to the TV system – and formulated a Plan C.
While I was in New Orleans, Himself accessed his inner electronic tech. He discovered that he could get the new DSL modem running at a more workable speed by disconnecting the phone line to the house and making the modem the only thing on the phone feed. (Yes, the house phone wiring is probably as old as the house, and it probably needs to be replaced. But not now.) It wasn’t an elegant solution, but it meant I had workable access for the pile-up when I got home. With the added bonus of no interruptions from politicians, robocalls for lowering my credit card interest rate or a free medical alert system, or offshore scammers trying to convince me they were with the IRS or Microsoft.)
But we needed a permanent solution that didn’t include not having a landline. By putting off the TV service upgrade, we put off the need for one of their installers. We could pick up a cable modem from one of their nearby storefronts, hook it up ourselves, and boogie. The package even included a splitter for pulling a feed from one of two operational cable feeds in the house. For the next several nights, after he got home from work, Himself went out, worklight headband in place, and split the feed at the terminal box attached to the house, ran the cable under the soffitt and ran it in through the wall above where the cable box and router has been living on the desk in his office. And lo, there was SPEED, and it was very, very good.
I’m back to having landline. I have highly operational Internet Access. I will, eventually, get caught up. I am a happy woman.
So far, my schedule looks like this:
2:30 PM New Panelist 101
The write-up: “A crash course in convention etiquette and panel performance for new guests. A team of seasoned professionals will answer questions and help guide you through the ins and outs of the con experience from the other side of the table.” This is one I suggested for last year’s FandomFest, and it proved to be highly successful. And, yes, I’m moderating.
4:00 PM Paths of Publishing
The write-up: “A look at various publishing avenues – major press, indie press, and self-publishing – and what it means to be a part of each. Come listen to our panelists, ask questions, and decide which path is right for you.” This one should be fun and wonderfully informative.
8:00 PM Opening Ceremony
Wherein Ye Olde ToastMistress presides over the official kick-off of the festivities.
11:00 AM Congratulations! It's an Anthology
The write-up: “Anthologies are a good way for readers to find new authors without a large investment. Come learn how anthologies work, why they’re popular, and what Anthology editors expect from their submissions.” Another moderating assignment on a subject I know pretty darn well. A lovely group of fellow editors have been assembled for the panel.
2:00 PM What Editors Expect of a Professional Author
The write-up: “They aren’t the enemy, and here’s why. Editors sit down with the audience and candidly discuss their requirements for working with authors and how authors should behave when working with their editors.” Yep, another moderating gig, on a session that should prove both informative and lively.
3:30 PM Author on Author Interviews
The write-up: “Moderated by Lee Martindale – Authors break into teams and interview each other.” We did this one last year at FandomFest and it was great fun. Three authors per team (so far) will take turns asking a question that is answered by each member of the other team. A great chance to hear from six authors.
4:30 PM ToastMistress Q&A
My turn in the hotseat, with grillmaster Stephen Zimmer and (hopefully) an audience of inquisitive folk.
10:00 AM Exploding Out of the Gate:
The write-up: “A 2-hour workshop on getting that piece started with a bang. A modified version of Allan Wold’s workshop, hosted with his permission by Toastmistress Lee Martindale, this session help authors master the art of a strong opening. Limited to 15 participants, no non-participating observers, please.”
12:30 PM Here There Be Scumbags
The write-up: “Scams built on separating new and aspiring writers from their hard-earned cash are everywhere. Learn to spot a legitimate opportunity and identify a scam.” Another moderator’s assignment, on a subject near and dear to my heart.
3:00 PM What Writer's Organizations Can Do For You
The write-up: “From promotion to awards, this panel hosts a frank discussion of literary organizations, membership guidelines, and proper etiquette when joining and participating.” Moderating, and talking about SFWA. Not sure what organizations will be “represented” by the other panelists, but it should be a good hour.
5:00 PM Awards Banquet/Convention Close
Putting on my MC’s hat one last time for the convention.
Somewhere in there, there’s still a signing and a reading to be scheduled. It’s going to be a busy, and enjoyable weekend, I think.
I wondered how long it would take Texas Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Greg Abbott to play the "noble crip" card. Yes, he's a paraplegic, the result of an accident. His latest TV spot shows him wheeling up a completely deserted parking structure while his voiceover talks about perserverance and "just one more".
Upper body strength is a good thing for a paraplegic. (I know this first-hand. I'm a paraplegic myself.) But being a paraplegic doesn't wipe out the harm he's done during a judicial and political career that has gutted the rights and well-being of women, children, the poor, the elderly, and -- ohyeah -- the disabled. It doesn't excuse rulings that consistently backed big business and special interests. It doesn't wipe out actions as Attorney General that put his own personal religion ahead of the state and federal constitutions.
Texas doesn't need "just one more" Republican governor bound at the wallet to the Koch Brothers and right-wingnuts intent on rolling back civil and human rights to 1950s levels. It doesn't need "just one more" governor following in the footsteps of Bush and Perry.
What Texas needs is Wendy Davis elected Governor of Texas in November.
The majority of the calls break down into the “lower your credit card interest” invitations, the “your insurance carrier has authorized you to receive a free investigational pain cream” calls – complete with scary statistics about senior citizens misusing and abusing pain pills – and the ones that start out with scare-the-old-people statistics about how many seniors fall and how many of them die as a result of those falls, followed by the news that I’m to be sent a free medical-alert device.
There are the calls from actual people (with almost unintelligible Indian or Pakistani accents) from the “support desks” of either “Windows” or “Microsoft” urgently telling me that my computer is being reported as having a virus or is spreading malware and that they need to have remote access to computer to fix it. Oddly enough, these people get confused when I ask them *which* computer is being reported or ask them to verify my IP address. They tend to hang up, apparently cursing me in their native language, after the fourth time of asking for their remote-access password.
A couple of new ones cropped up recently. One was a live person, against with an almost unintelligible Indian or Pakistani accent, telling me I had been awarded a government grant. I asked whose government. The United States government, she replied. What department? The United States government department, she replied. I invited her to send me notification in the mail. She hung up.
But the oddest one was the robocall from someone purporting to be Agent Julie Smith of the IRS in Washington, DC. I had, the recording informed me, serious charges pending against me and was instructed to call 206-495-9309 (her direct line) within seconds of the end of this call or risk being arrested within two hours. I did not call back, of course. Even if the area code (that area code is in Washington state, not DC), the absymal quality of the recording, or the fact she ended the recording with “Take care” hadn’t tipped me, the fact that this was a robocall and not a formal letter in the mail would have been a dead giveaway.
I did, however, research the number and found that, had I called it, it would have been answered by a gruff male with an almost unintelligible Indian or Pakistani accent who would threaten my work license (my “job” doesn’t need a license), my credit rating, and arrest within minutes (“The police are on their way!” I’d be tempted to say “oh, good, that saves me going to the station to turn over the recording of this conversation). This one got reported to the “Imposter - Government” page of the FTC; apparently they’re accumulating quite a roster of complaints about this one.
I’ve been accused of liking to play with my food. Unfortuntely, I don’t always have time to indulge.
Yes, I have safely returned from Dragon Con. Glowing like a lightbulb, exhausted beyond telling, and started the dig-through on a record-setting pile of pile-up. (I was gone a full week, with a end-of-month/first-of-month rolling in my absence. Whimper). And I wouldn't have missed a single second of it.
Many good memories and much fun acquired. Friends seen and good company enjoyed. Good panels. Many laughs. Books sold. Duties acquitted. After two years unavoidably missed due to commitments elsewhere, it definitely felt like coming home, and I am grateful to those who made it possible.
A trip report will have to wait while I prep for the next convention. Speaking of which, here's a short interview tied to my gig as ToastMistress for the first-ever Imaginarium.
2:30pm - 3:30pm: Hyatt - Edgewood: SFWA “Regional” Meeting: I’m chairing a meeting of SFWA members for an hour of information about organizational business, programs, events, and matters of interest. All current members of SFWA are welcome.
5:30pm - 6:30pm: Hyatt - Vinings: Reading - Lee Martindale: With an hour, things are wide open in terms of what I’ll read. I’m leaning toward the title story for Bard’s Road, since only a handful of people have heard that one yet.
1:00pm - 2:00pm: Hyatt - Embassy A-B: The Big Stuff: with Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Robert J. Sawyer, Lee Martindale (M), and Sam Ortega. The write-up: “Hard SF is known for the Really Big Stuff it throws at us, from space stations to Dyson Spheres and beyond. What is your favorite Big SF Thing?”
5:30pm - 6:30pm: Hyatt - Regency V: Politics in SF: with Michael Z. Williamson, Lee Martindale (M), S. M. Stirling, John D. Ringo, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, and Elizabeth Moon. The write-up: “How do politics of today inform the writers of science fiction?” Something tells me this one is going to fit squarely under the category of “spirited”.
7:00pm - 9:30pm: Hyatt - Regency VI-VII: Dragon Con Guest of Honor Awards Banquet
11:30pm - 12:30am: Hyatt - Embassy D-F: Writing for the GLBT Market: with Lee Martindale (M). The write-up: Who's buying what? Developing great storylines that will catch the editor's and readers' attention.” I’ll either be moderating with panelists assigned at a later date, or doing a roundtable with the audience. Either way, it should be fun. And, yes, that last one starts waaay past my bedtime. But what the heck, it’s Dragon Con. And the Programming Powers were kind enough *not* to start the next day’s paneling before noon. At least so far.
1:00pm - 2:00pm: Hyatt - Embassy D-F: Worldbuilding 101: with Lee Martindale (M), Michael Bunker, Lynn Abbey, C. L. Wilson, Jim Butcher, and Jonathan Maberry. The write-up: “Where does a writer start? What's important to the reader? Who needs to know what and when do they need to know it? Build a better fictional world.”
2:30pm - 3:30pm: Marriott - International Hall South: Autographing - Lee Martindale. Other folks signing at the same time will be Beth Revis, Larry Niven, Debbie Viguié, Dr. Scott Viguié, and David Weber. The people-watching opportunities will be prime.
5:30pm - 6:30pm: Hyatt - Embassy D-F: Anthologies for Fun and Profit?: With Stephen L. Antczak, Lynn Abbey, Lee Martindale, Mike Resnick, and S. M. Stirling. The write-up: “Getting asked to participate in an anthology is great, right? What's involved? How does a writer get invited?” A great list of panelists for what is likely to be a very popular panel. What’s not to love?
11:30am - 12:30pm: Hyatt - Centennial I: Ask Me Anything!: With Lee Martindale (M), Allen M. Steele, Mark L. Van Name, Peter David, and Kevin J. Anderson. The write-up: Now is the time to ask the authors anything you may have not asked earlier in the con.”
1:00pm - 2:00pm: Hyatt - Embassy D-F: Werewolves, Vampires, Demons, Dragons-Oh My! With Lee Martindale (M), Gail Z. Martin, Cherie Priest, and Samantha Sommersby. The write-up: Learn to develop "classic characters" that stand out. What makes one better than another? What are the "rules" and how can they be broken?”
There’s not a panel on the schedule that doesn’t look likes it’s going to be a lot of fun. You’ll note that my moderator chops are being fully utilized, having been assigned moderator on all but one of the panels on my schedule. I’m good with that. One can do far worse than having that kind of reputation with programming folk. And the roster of folks I get to work with pleases me no end. Add to that the downright humane spread of the panels, with ample time for things like sleep and food, and I am one very happy gal.
This year’s Dragon Con is going to be blast!