Trina Marie Phillips - Science Fiction Writer  

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Aliens Made Me Do It

 

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Lone Star Con 3 - Part 3 - Most Awesome Day

Posted by tmphillips on September 18, 2013 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (2)

It really shouldn't have taken me this long to get this post up. Especially since this was the best day of the con for me. But I was on a writing high when I got back and now that's landed me in the middle of working on a story and I'm torn between spending my writing time on blog posts and finishing a story before deadline. So my apologies for the lateness of this.

 

Saturday morning started with a panel on Bujold's, Vorkosigan Universe. The room was packed with fans and I was sharing the stage with Steve Jackson, John O'Halloran and Lillian Stewart Carl. Lillian, whom I was seated next to, has been Lois McMaster Bujold's best friend for 52 years.

 

This panel, this whole room – ROCKED!

 

Comments and questions from the floor opened up early and we got a grand discussion going with excellent participation from everyone. Of course, with everyone being fans, there were elements that could be spoken in shorthand. And while there were certainly some spoilers for anyone who hadn't finished the series, we managed to somewhat cloak the more poignant moments that occurred at the end of the last novel (series chronology), Cryoburn. Being all of similar mind, the jokes and ideas flowed readily and everyone was having a rollicking good time. The best moment for me was a point where I popped in with a wisecrack and the whole room busted up. I have never made a room full of people laugh like that before.

 

When the panel was over, Lillian told me that Lois had snuck in the back a few minutes after the panel started. So she got to hear all my fangirl declarations of appreciation, and my jokes, for herself. I've learned the hard way not to pass up opportunities. So I piped up and mentioned that I'd never had the chance to meet Lois in person. Lillian was happy to remedy that situation. Lois was gracious and kind. I didn't want to be that pesty fan and impose too much so I let them get off to lunch and I went outside to call my boyfriend and tell him how great the panel went. He was a saint for listening to all my giddiness.

 

I spent the afternoon stalking Lois through several panels. One that stands out is the one on Writing Combat. All the writers were heavy hitters – Elizabeth Moon, Elizabeth Bear, Martha Wells, Jean Johnson and Lois McMaster Bujold. And do you notice something else? They're all women. A panel about writing combat was covered entirely by women. Awesome.

 

My second panel that day was in the late afternoon and it regarded buying art at cons. I hate to say that it was poorly attended; even two of the panelists didn't show up. I'm not sure what we were up against though. Maybe something big was going on.

 

That evening, there was a get-together at Ernie's Bar – Meet the Authors. Well, by the time I was able to get there, there were no authors left. I hung out a bit, but when I found a group of Codexians heading out to go to the Baen Books party, I immediately tagged along. You see, Baen Books is Bujold's publisher. If you ever go to a con and have a favorite author you want to meet, go to their publisher's party. It's one of your better bets for meeting them.

 

At the Baen party, I mingled and wandered as a good party-goer should. I still haven't mastered small talk with strangers. I'm not shy, I just don't know what to talk about. Once or twice I mentioned that next year I'm considering going to Cambodia and possibly spending a week on a jungle walk and the reactions were mostly, "why would you want to do that?" or some equivalent oddball look. Evidently SF writers and adventure travelers are not significantly overlapping groups. I'm fine once I find common ground. It’s finding it that's the trouble.

 

Then, partway into the evening I stumbled into an end room in the suite and who was there but Lois McMaster Bujold. Again, not wanting to be a bother, I asked if I could join them and was invited in. You can't go wrong with courtesy. This is another point where my SFWA sticker may have given me some cred. I wasn't just a goofy fan, I was a fellow writer.

 

Shortly after I sat down, Astronaut Cady Coleman entered the room. Evidently she and Lois had already met, but some introductions were made and Lois introduced me as a science fiction writer. So I find myself in the room with one of my favorite authors and an astronaut that has been on two shuttle missions and spent time on the ISS. I wasn't leaving that room for anything at that point. The conversation rolled and split and came back. I got to speak to some other NASA people as well. All very interesting. I also got to ask Lois about some of her methods, though she writes very much by the seat-of-her-pants so set methods don't exactly apply. She makes up her brilliance as she goes along. She's in between projects now and not sure what she wants to work on next. I didn't push. No one can tell a writer what they should write. I also thanked her again for her time and insights.

 

The NASA people also brought swag. I got a personalized autographed photo and a sticker. The photo is being framed at my shop as we speak.

 

Lois left the party about 1am. I left at 2am and Astronaut Coleman was still going strong, though it seemed the party was winding down. We all had panels at 11am the next morning and regretted that we weren't going to be able to attend each others' events. A great night all around. I couldn't have imagined the company I would be keeping that evening. It was a real privilege to meet these wonderful people.

 

What I Learned: Put yourself out there and don't be shy about grabbing opportunities. Don't wait for anyone else to do it for you.

Lone Star Con 3 - Part 2

Posted by tmphillips on September 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (1)

Friday was the start of the ball rolling. In the morning, about fifty Codexians (an online writers group) met for breakfast in a frenzy of waffles and bacon. It was great to meet new friends and get reacquainted with old. Being part of a group like this is fantastic because even if you arrive at a con alone, you won't stay that way for long. We also had stickers for our badges so we'd know each other around the con. One of these days we'll actually get our own little badge flags.

 

Shortly after breakfast, I did an interview with Patrick Hester for SF Signal. Not quite knowing what to expect, I was a little nervous. But Patrick is a great interviewer and a good conversationalist. The interview went quite smooth. My one regret here is that I did this so early in the con, I didn't have as many cool stories as I would have liked. This was also the beginning of something I learned throughout the weekend. Not only should you have ideas and opinions on things in general, and especially about the genre, but you should know how to state them clearly and distinctly at a moment's notice. This was especially true for panels and the interview, but it also applied at parties. If you need time to formulate your thoughts, you may lose out on a prime opportunity to express yourself. I don't mean that you should speak in sound bites, but it doesn't hurt to have a cache of well formed thoughts on a variety of subjects.

 

What I Learned: Even if you're attending your first con, know what you stand for and how you want to express those ideas. Stay respectful and be open-minded but be prepared so you're not left behind in a conversation.

 

This day also left me a little time to attend some panels. The highlight of these was the Starship Century presentation with Gregory Benford, Karen Burnham, Joe Haldeman and Nancy Kress. The panel discussed how we should be approaching space travel in the next hundred years. I had originally set out to see this presentation at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach, near where I live. But I had misread the schedule and didn't realize the gathering was at the San Diego store. So I was very excited when I saw the listing at World Con. This was a very informative panel and really addressed viable options in the near future. The book, Starship Century, is now widely available. There was an entire symposium at UCSD, and there's supposed to be watchable video of the event, but I have not succeeded in finding a working link. If you find one, let me know.

 

I also attended two other panels, one on medical ethics and reproductive technology, the other was about corporations and their role in the future. Both good panels, and both had Lois McMaster Bujold as a panelist. I went to most of her panels over this con, and also had the pleasure of meeting her (more on this later). As she is one of my favorite authors, I was quite earnest in catching her appearances.

 

In the early evening I had a demo table at Art Night. Being that I'm a picture framer by day, they figured I'd have some good information, which I did. I had samples of good and bad mats and pictures of different framing styles and the oodles of information that's in my head. Unfortunately, the event was not heavily attended and as I wasn't selling anything, people were a little baffled by my presence. I chatted with some nice people though, and hopefully enlightened a few about how to frame their art well.

 

THEN CAME MY FIRST PANEL. 'Keeping Control of a Long Series' with Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, L.E. Modesitt, and Saladin Ahmed. To say I was lowest on the totem pole is not self-deprecation, it was a simple fact. I let Steven and Lee know that this was my first panel, but Elizabeth and Saladin arrived late due to clogged elevators. This was a late panel and parties were already starting upstairs. Despite this, we had a full room. Elizabeth was the moderator and she was fantastic. The panel was conversational, but organized and she led with very good questions. And if you don't know him, Steven Brust is a big personality, but so is Elizabeth. They balanced each other well and respectfully and no one dominated the panel. Even not knowing that I was new, Elizabeth made sure I didn't get left out of the conversation. Once, Steven and I started to talk at the same time and she told him to be quiet so I could speak. On the flip side, there was a point where a question came up that I had no experience and no good answer. A piece of advice that I received from John Joseph Adams about being on panels was very helpful here. He said that it was okay not to speak. Don't talk unless you have something to add to the conversation. So when that question came to me, I simply stated that I didn't have experience to speak to that, and the conversation moved on.

 

This was an excellent first panel. I learned a lot and it made me very comfortable going into my future panels. In fact, I rocked my first panel the next morning partly due to the confidence this one gave me. I want to publically thank my fellow panelists for making me feel so welcome.

 

What I Learned: Be prepared when you're on a panel, but also be prepared for your preparations to be useless. Also, don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. You'll get more respect with honesty than if you spout a bunch of words that don't contribute or make sense.

 

At the parties that night, I GOT MY SFWA STICKER. I finally found the SFWA suite and when I walked up and they asked if I was a member, I proudly said, "Yes I am." This was a point of pride for me, but I also found at various points during the con, that sticker garnered me a certain level of respect. I was a serious writer and should be taken as such. I'll admit, that felt good.

 

This night I bounced between the Tor party and the SFWA suite which was hosting the Dell Publishing party (Asimov's and Analog). I talked to a lot of people and even though I wasn't drinking, it's all a bit of a blur. I'm still getting the hang of parties like this, though I would consider this a successful night all around. It also set me up for an awesome party night on Saturday. More on that in the next post, which will hopefully happen in the next day or two.

Lone Star Con 3 - Part 1

Posted by tmphillips on September 3, 2013 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This con was a whirlwind of activity and a grand learning experience for me. I went this year with great intent. I wanted to meet people on the professional side of the business and get the hang of the party scene. I was ready to pitch, even though the novel isn't ready, if the opportunity arose (it didn't). And I wanted to start getting my name out there so when I did have stuff coming out, I might look familiar to some folks. I was mostly successful, but learned a few tough lessons.

 

I'll give it to you mostly chronologically but with the insights I've gained since then. I'm also going to break this up into several posts so it doesn't become cumbersomely long.

 

I arrived in the heat of San Antonio on Thursday, got to the hotel, changed out of travel clothes into something a little spiffier, then went to register at the con and wander around the Dealer's Room. I also met up with my most awesome roommates. Sharing a room was an excellent way to control costs. None of us knew each other except through the Codex Writers group. We got along great.

 

Con Registration was very well organized. I got my program participant packet which had a little name tag flag and a sticker for the back of my name tag with my schedule printed on it. Despite having my schedule programmed into my ipod, this was a very useful thing to have.

 

What I Learned: Upon registration be prepared to obtain a significant amount of swag. Bring something to carry it in.

 

That evening, I had pre-registered for the Ghost Walk. They made it sound like there were a limited number of available spots, when actually they just added more tour guides as needed. The Ghost Walk was interesting, though very sweaty. It didn't cool off much after the sun went down. I was glad to see some of San Antonio as I knew I wouldn't have much time for touring otherwise, but part of me wishes I hadn't committed. This was a lot for my first night in town. I also wanted to go to some parties, found a few, but was tired and sort of party failed on this night. I also forgot where the SFWA suite was and couldn't find anyone who knew. But the Codex breakfast was early the next morning so maybe fewer parties was a good thing.

 

What I Learned: Arrive a day before the con actually starts. This will give time for relaxing and sightseeing and getting the lay of the land. I saw tweets from a handful of pros that were already meeting at the bar on Wednesday night. They obviously already knew this trick.

 

The first day was interesting but not terribly eventful. On Friday things really started to get rolling, including being on my first-ever panel with some big name authors. I'll cover that in my next post.

Phew!

Posted by tmphillips on September 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)
Lone Star Con is over and I'm exhausted. Sorry I didn't have time to blog, but I will give you the full shebang when I get back to LA and recover my brain.

Final World Con Schedule

Posted by tmphillips on August 18, 2013 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi all,

 

Well World Con is going to be a busy time. I now have six panels, one demo, one podcast interview and a Codex breakfast. There's also a Ghost Walking Tour of San Antonio that starts at the Alamo on the first night. Sounds like fun if I can make it.

 

Below are the official events. It's going to be a fun con!

 

My World Con Schedule:

 

Art Night Showcase II

Friday 19:00 - 20:00

 

In addition to a special docent tour offered by John Hertz, here are some of the artist presentations on offer: 1. Trina Phillips, Frame & Protect Artwork 2. Loren Damewood, Bracelet Tying 3. Judy Peterson, Puzzle Cutting & Design 4. Carole Parker, Shibori Dyeing Techniques 5. John Wardale, Hair Braiding pt. 2

 

Keeping Control of a Long Series

Friday 21:00 - 22:00

 

So many participants, so many events, written over so many years -- is writing a long series more like wrestling a snake than writing a single volume novel?

 

Elizabeth Bear (M), Trina Marie Phillips, Steven Brust, L. E. Modesitt, Saladin Ahmed

 

Bujold's Vorkosigan Universe

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00

 

Steve Jackson (M), Lillian Stewart Carl, John O'Halloran, Trina Marie Phillips

 

Bid High, Bid Often and Bring your Friends!

Saturday 18:00 - 19:00

 

"Buy me! Buy me ! Buy me! " calls the art. We give you the basics of what to look for when buying art. Terminology, media, techniques and a touch of art history. We also highlight some common practices and approaches to buying art at conventions.

 

Maurine Starkey (M), Andrea Senchy, Trina Marie Phillips, Jean Stuntz PhD

 

Should SF Consider the Aspects of the Future rather than Predicting the Future?

Sunday 11:00 - 12:00

 

Myke Cole (M), Tobias Buckell , Trina Marie Phillips, Charles E. Gannon, Catherynne M. Valente

 

Care and Feeding of Your Aliens and Magical Beings

Sunday 15:00 - 16:00

 

With all of space, time, biology and imagination to work with, why is it so hard to create fictional aliens that aren't just humans in rubber suits. Our panelists discuss some of the more successful aliens from fiction as well as what to consider when creating new ones.

 

Brenda Cooper (M), Edward M. Lerner, Trina Marie Phillips

 

Treasuring Art

Sunday 17:00 - 18:00

 

The care, feeding and maintenance of art.

 

Jennie Faries (M), Naomi C Fisher, Lila Garrott, Trina Marie Phillips, Rebecca Tinkham Hewett

Back in the Saddle

Posted by tmphillips on August 3, 2013 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)

So this is my new blog. I tried this once before, gave some great reports on Reno World Con 2011, and that's where it stopped. I'm going to try to do better this time. I promise. But I'm also not going to babble on if I don't have something to say. So you can subscribe (the little RSS button at the bottom of the page) and know you're not going to get a bunch of garbage.

 

I do have exciting news though. At this year's World Con in San Antonio, I'm on five panels, and I'm doing a demo for Art Night. My panels are: Keeping Control of a Long Series, Bujold's Vorkosigan Universe, Should SF consider the Aspects of the Future rather than Predicting the Future?, Care and Feeding of Your Aliens and Magical Beings, and Treasuring Art. I have to admit I'm furiously reading the final few Vorkosigan novels. Over the past couple of years I've been spreading them out so I wouldn't run out the series so quickly. If she's in attendance I really hope I get the opportunity to meet Lois McMaster Bujold. I'd love to ask her about her methods.

 

I'll post my exact schedule closer to the con, when I'm mostly certain there won't be any changes.

 

Until next time.


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