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My 2018 Baltimore Book Festival Schedule

No Comments » Written on September 14th, 2018 by
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Baltimore Book Festival

I’ve had most of September to recover from the excesses of the 76th Worldcon, but the end of the month offers a weekend packed with two separate events

I’ve already posted my tentative schedule for Capclave, now it’s time to talk about what I’ll be doing before that at the Baltimore Book Festival.

The BBF is an incredible, free, three-day event that takes place along Baltimore’s scenic inner harbor. Panels, readings, book sellers, food and drink. What’s not to love?

Because I’m due down at Capclave on Saturday and Sunday, I’ll only be on programming at the festival on Friday, and even then only over a three-hour span. Here’s where you can find me:

Friday, September 28th
11:00 a.m. (SFWA Tent) What’s Your Writer Origin Story
Our panel of authors will tell you what led to their chosen career, and which books and stories inspired them along the way.
With Elektra Hammond, Kosoko Jackson, and Kenneth Rogers Jr.

12:00 p.m. (SFWA Tent) Autographing
Come by and I will sign all the things. If you forgot to bring something for me to sign, I’ll have my SF Trading card to give you and The Ivy Bookshop has promised to bring a few copies of The Moons of Barsk for that important impulse buy.

1:00 p.m. (SFWA Tent) Self-Pub, Traditional, and Hybrid, Oh My!
There are many roads to publication in this day and age. Find out which one is right for you, the positives and negatives of each, and the things our authors wish they had known.
With Jonathan P. Brazee, Vera Brook, Kenneth Rogers Jr., and Nancy Schrock.

That’s it for my programming, but all weekend long under the SFWA Tent, you’ll find lots of writers all talking about books. It should be glorious.

I’ll be swinging back by late Sunday afternoon on my way home from Capclave, and I’ll be hanging out in the SFWA tent (no surprise).

See you in Balitmore!

My Tentative Capclave 2018 Schedule

No Comments » Written on September 12th, 2018 by
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Capclave

It’s nearly time once again for one of my favorite small conventions, Capclave, where reading is not extinct.

This year it happens to fall on the same weekend as the awesome Baltimore Book Festival. I”ll be doing the Festival on Friday, and then continuing on to the convention. And on Sunday, after finishing at the convention I’ll pause on the way home for another stop at the festival. This will also be the first road trip in the new car, and joining me on the drive will be my co-author and friend, Jonathan Brazee.

This year’s ConChair has just sent out the schedules. Here’s mine, but keep in mind some of it may change.

Saturday, September 29th
1:00 p.m. | Lincoln | Reading
I’ve been paired with Steven H. Wilson for an hour of reading. I’ll start and hand off to him at 1:30pm. I have no idea what Steven will be reading, but I expect to read to you from a new work in progress.
with Steven H. Wilson

3:00 p.m. | Washington Theater | How to Remember EVERYTHING!
Mnemonics and You! Come hear me explain how memory works and how to enhance yours.

7:30 p.m. | Eisenhower/Jackson | Mass Signing
A double-sized room full of authors armed with pens. Also cake. What could possibly go wrong? Bring your books, we’re hungry to sign all the things. I’ll also have Barsk bookplates and trading cards.
with everyone!

Sunday, September 30th
10:00 a.m. | Eisenhower | Ask Me Anything – Author Edition
Ask the panel of authors absolutely anything about what they do – writing, getting published, elevator pitches, getting an agent, dealing with writers block, writers workshop etc. Includes many non-writer-parts-of-being-a-writer, such as being your own boss, setting schedules, and so on.
with Jonathan Brazee, J. L. Gribble (M), Suzanne Palmer, and Alyssa Wong

2:00 p.m. | Eisenhower | My Characters Have a Life of Their Own
What to do when you meant for character X to be the protagonist, but at some point in the draft character Y took over?
with Sarah Avery (M), Brenda W. Clough, Mark S. LaPorta, and Alan Smale

If you’ve never been to Capclave, you owe it to yourself to come and experience its glory. And if you have, you’ve probably already booked your hotel room and paid your registration. Either way, I look forward to seeing you there.

My I-Really-Think-This-Is-Final Worldcon 76 Schedule

No Comments » Written on August 14th, 2018 by
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Worldcon 76

I’m all packed and the dog suspects I’m leaving. I fly out tomorrow morning and the house/dog sitter is awesome. I will be arriving at Fairmont in a shiny Tesla, which short of a personal jetpack has to be one of the best ways to start a World Science Fiction Convention.

Below you’ll find my schedule as I currently understand it to be. It actually looks very much like the last version of the schedule I shared, but some of the other participants on panels have come and gone. Anyway, I hope you’ll use it to stalk me in a good way. The Moons of Barsk came out today, and nothing would please me more than to have you bring me copies to sign.

Thursday, August 16th
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Guadalupe (San Jose Marriott | SFWA Board Meeting
That’s right, people. While you are off enjoying the opening day of the conventions I’ll be in the “Room Where It Happens” making all the sausage.
with Kate Baker, Curtis C. Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Nathan Lowell, Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, Kelly Robson, and Steven Silver.

Friday, August 17th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | 210DH (San Jose Convention Center) | SFWA Business Meeting
Oh god, another 8am start? Good thing I’ll still (probably) be on east coast time, right? This is a members-only event. Are you a member? C’mon, you know you want to be.
with Cat Rambo (M), Kate Baker, Curtis C Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Terra LeMay, Sarah Pinsker, Steven Silver, Nathan Lowell, Kelly Robson, and lots of other folks!

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. | SFWA Autographing (Main Exhibit Hall) | Bonus Autographing Session
The convention has assigned me an official autographing slot on Sunday at 3pm, but if you can’t wait that long I’ll also be spending half an hour at the SFWA autograph table (as distinct from the convention’s autograph table). Please be respectful of other people who want to get things signed and limit yourself to no more than 30 books at a time. Also, signing of body parts will be on a case by case basis.
with me, you, and all those books (and maybe a body part).

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. | 210E (San Jose Convention Center) | Trading Card Awards Ceremony
I’m not being put on a trading card (I got mine last July at the NASFiC), but lots of other people are being honored and I will be in the audience cheering them on. Come join us in this ceremony as many famous authors and fandom luminaries receive their Science Fiction Trading Cards. Free packets of cards will be handed out to all attendees.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 210F (San Jose Convention Center) | What Can SFWA Offer Me
Learn what SFWA has to offer authors at all stages of their careers, from networking opportunities to sample contracts to the grievance committee. SFWA’s officers will provide an update on what SFWA is doing and where the organization is going and answer questions from potential (or current) members.
with Kate Baker (M), Cat Rambo, Curtis C Chen, Erin M. Hartshorn, and Jeffe Kennedy

Saturday, August 18th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Super Secret Location (shhh!) | Annual Codex Worldcon Breakfast
Every year I organize breakfast for members of the online writing community known as Codex. I don’t pay for it, I only organize it. If you’re in Codex, you know where this is happening. If you’re not, you’ll be able to spot members today because we’ll all be very well fed.
with probably around EIGHTY people. It’s crazy!!

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. | 210A (San Jose Convention Center) | Research Rabbit Holes
Sometimes you start researching one thing and wind up six centuries away, on another topic entirely. Sometimes you find facts so bizarre they’re too true to make good fiction. What are some of the best facts you haven’t been able to use? The strangest places your research has led you?
with Sarah Pinsker (M), Andy Duncan, Karen Joy Fowler, Ann Leckie, and Irene Radford.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 210E (San Jose Convention Center) | Klingon 101
The popularity of Klingon is on the rise. It’s spoken, correctly, on Star Trek: Discovery, and available to learn on Duolingo. So there’s no better time to break up your Worldcon programming and come around so I can teach you 80% of the grammar in a mere 50 minutes.

Sunday, August 19th
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Lower Level Plaza (San Jose Convention Center) | Stroll With The Stars
We’ve been going for days, and we could all use a casual walk around the convention center. I love doing this and you will too. Meet in the Lower Level Plaza area.
with Debra Nickelson (M), Kate Baker, Jeffe Kennedy, Mary Robinette Kowal, D. A. Xiaolin Spires, and lots of other folks.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | Autographing (San Jose Convention Center) | Autographing
I’ve been really busy publishing lots o’ stuff. No pressure, but seriously, you should come by and have me sign something. I’ll even have (a limited number) of bookplates for people who show up with newly released copies of The Moons of Barsk. And Barry Mantelo should be there, if you happen to come by with his eponymous and Nebula-nominated novella, Barry’s Deal. I’ll also have copies of my Science Fiction Writers trading card to give you, just for showing up.
with Greg Bear, Robin Gage, Tom Lombardo, Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Larry Niven, and a bunch of your books (I hope)!

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | 211B (San Jose Convention Center) | Kaffeeklatsch
The last time I had one of these was in Kansas City, and it filled up! I know, I was as surprised as anyone. So, if you plan to attend, remember that you need to sign up for this event in advance (which you cannot do before 10am Sunday morning) and seating is limited. Ah, but if you get in, you can ask me anything you like, about Barsk, Buffalitos, Hypnosis, Klingon, most anything you can think of. Also, I’ll have a few prizes to give away.
with whoever signs up!

Monday, August 20th
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 211A (San Jose Convention Center) | Reading
The con is finally winding down. You’re tired, I get it. Me too. So come on by and all you have to do is sit there while I read to you. But wait, there’s more. I’ll be sharing my reading slot with Jonathan Brazee. That’s right, two readings for the price of one. Seriously, can you think of a better way to end your Worldcon experience? Hey, that’s a rhetorical question in case you weren’t sure.
with Jonathan Brazee

And that’s it. See you in San Jose!

My Shiny New What Could Possibly Go Wrong Worldcon 76 FSchedule

No Comments » Written on August 2nd, 2018 by
Categories: News
Worldcon 76

Hi, Welcome to August. If you’re planning on attending the 76th annual World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 76) in San Jose, CA that’s coming up in about two weeks then you probably already know that scheduling has been… umm… in flux.

Some questionable choices were made in earlier drafts of the program and our community responded with outcry. To their credit, the concom did not double down but rather acknowledged that mistakes had been made and even accepted assistance from some folks outside the committee who had experience, expertise, and the willingness to lend a hand. The result should be more people on programming and broader representation. This makes me happy. I want SF from as wide a swath of the community as possible.

So, here’s my new schedule. It’s not carved in stone but I’m hoping it’s pretty stable. Still, a lot can happen in two weeks, so do check back. If things change, I’ll to post another update.

Thursday, August 16th
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Guadalupe (San Jose Marriott | SFWA Board Meeting
That’s right, people. While you are off enjoying the opening day of the conventions I’ll be in the “Room Where It Happens” making all the sausage.
with Kate Baker, Curtis C. Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Nathan Lowell, Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, Kelly Robson, and Steven Silver.

Friday, August 17th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | 210DH (San Jose Convention Center) | SFWA Business Meeting
Oh god, another 8am start? Good thing I’ll still (probably) be on east coast time, right? This is a members-only event. Are you a member? C’mon, you know you want to be.
with Cat Rambo (M), Kate Baker, Curtis C Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Terra LeMay, Sarah Pinsker, Steven Silver, Nathan Lowell, Kelly Robson, and lots of other folks!

11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. | SFWA Autographing (Main Exhibit Hall) | Bonus Autographing Session
The convention has assigned me an official autographing slot on Sunday at 3pm, but if you can’t wait that long I’ll also be spending half an hour at the SFWA autograph table (as distinct from the convention’s autograph table). Please be respectful of other people who want to get things signed and limit yourself to no more than 30 books at a time. Also, signing of body parts will be on a case by case basis.
with me, you, and all those books (and maybe a body part).

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 210F (San Jose Convention Center) | What Can SFWA Offer Me
Learn what SFWA has to offer authors at all stages of their careers, from networking opportunities to sample contracts to the grievance committee. SFWA’s officers will provide an update on what SFWA is doing and where the organization is going and answer questions from potential (or current) members.
with Kate Baker (M), Cat Rambo, Curtis C Chen, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, and Sarah Pinsker

Saturday, August 18th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Super Secret Location (shhh!) | Annual Codex Worldcon Breakfast
Every year I organize breakfast for members of the online writing community known as Codex. I don’t pay for it, I only organize it. If you’re in Codex, you know where this is happening. If you’re not, you’ll be able to spot members today because we’ll all be very well fed.
with probably around sixty people. It’s crazy!!

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. | 210A (San Jose Convention Center) | Research Rabbit Holes
Sometimes you start researching one thing and wind up six centuries away, on another topic entirely. Sometimes you find facts so bizarre they’re too true to make good fiction. What are some of the best facts you haven’t been able to use? The strangest places your research has led you?
with Sarah Pinsker, Karen Joy Fowler, and Andy Duncan.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 210E (San Jose Convention Center) | Klingon 101
The popularity of Klingon is on the rise. It’s spoken, correctly, on Star Trek: Discovery, and available to learn on Duolingo. So there’s no better time to break up your Worldcon programming and come around so I can teach you 80% of the grammar in a mere 50 minutes.

Sunday, August 19th
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Lower Level Plaza (San Jose Convention Center) | Stroll With The Stars
We’ve been going for days, and we could all use a casual walk around the convention center. I love doing this and you will too. Meet in the Lower Level Plaza area.
with Debra Nickelson (M), Kate Baker, Jeffe Kennedy, Mary Robinette Kowal, D. A. Xiaolin Spires, and lots of other folks.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | Autographing (San Jose Convention Center) | Autographing
I’ve been really busy publishing lots o’ stuff. No pressure, but seriously, you should come by and have me sign something. I’ll even have (a limited number) of bookplates for people who show up with newly released copies of The Moons of Barsk. And Barry Mantelo should be there, if you happen to come by with his eponymous and Nebula-nominated novella, Barry’s Deal. I’ll also have copies of my Science Fiction Writers trading card to give you, just for showing up.
with me, you, and a bunch of your books (I hope)!

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | 211B (San Jose Convention Center) | Kaffeeklatsch
The last time I had one of these was in Kansas City, and it filled up! I know, I was as surprised as anyone. So, if you plan to attend, remember that you need to sign up for this event in advance and seating is limited. Ah, but if you get in, you can ask me anything you like, about Barsk, Buffalitos, Hypnosis, Klingon, most anything you can think of. Also, I’ll have a few prizes to give away.
with whoever signs up!

Monday, August 20th
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 211A (San Jose Convention Center) | Reading
The con is finally winding down. You’re tired, I get it. Me too. So come on by and all you have to do is sit there while I read to you. It’s really just that easy. Seriously, can you think of a better way to end your Worldcon experience? Hey, that’s a rhetorical question in case you weren’t sure.

And that’s it.

Other dates that are important around this time:

Sunday, August 12th – World Elephant Day.
Tuesday, August 14th – Tor Books releases The Moons of Barsk.
Tuesday, August 21st – My wedding anniversary!

My Worldcon 76 Far From Final Schedule

No Comments » Written on July 25th, 2018 by
Categories: News
Tags: , , , , , ,
Worldcon 76

In August my wife and I will be traveling to San Jose so I can take part in the 76th annual World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 76).

I love the Worldcon. I love seeing so many old friends and I love making new ones. I love hanging out with colleagues and chatting with fans. I love signing books and trading cards. I love bloviating on panels and wandering around from party to party until I’m exhausted and just need to crash so I can start all over the next day.

What I don’t love are attention-seeking assholes who try to ruin the convention for everyone else and hide behind false claims and falser ideals. You know who you are, and if I had it in my power to stuff you all in a time machine I’d send you back to the day Baptistina hit the Earth and everything was incinerated. Sounds like a good idea for a Kickstarter campaign to me.

Anyway, as I write this, it’s late July and the schedule is still very much in flux. Here’s what I know now, but keep in mind a lot could change.

Thursday, August 16th
8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Guadalupe (San Jose Marriott | SFWA Board Meeting
That’s right, people. While you are off enjoying the opening day of the conventions I’ll be in the “Room Where It Happens” making all the sausage.
with Kate Baker, Curtis C. Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Nathan Lowell, Sarah Pinsker, Cat Rambo, Kelly Robson, Steven Silver, and lots of other folks!

Friday, August 17th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | 210DH (San Jose Convention Center) | SFWA Business Meeting
Oh god, another 8am start? Good thing I’ll still (probably) be on east coast time, right? This is a members-only event. Are you a member? C’mon, you know you want to be.
with Cat Rambo (M), Kate Baker, Curtis C. Chen, Andy Duncan, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, Terra LeMay, Nathan Lowell, Sarah Pinsker, Kelly Robson, Steven Silver, and lots of other folks!

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. | 210F (San Jose Convention Center) | What Can SFWA Offer Me
Learn what SFWA has to offer authors at all stages of their careers, from networking opportunities to sample contracts to the grievance committee. SFWA’s officers will provide an update on what SFWA is doing and where the organization is going and answer questions from potential (or current) members.
with Kate Baker (M), Cat Rambo, Curtis C. Chen, Erin M. Hartshorn, Jeffe Kennedy, and Sarah Pinsker

Saturday, August 18th
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Super Secret Location (shhh!) | Annual Codex Worldcon Breakfast
Every year I organize breakfast for members of the online writing community known as Codex. I don’t pay for it, I only organize it. If you’re in Codex, you know where this is happening. If you’re not, you’ll be able to spot members today because we’ll all be very well fed.
with probably around sixty people. It’s crazy!!

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. | 210E (San Jose Convention Center) | Klingon 101
The popularity of Klingon is on the rise. It’s spoken, correctly, on Star Trek: Discovery, and available to learn on Duolingo. So there’s no better time to break up your Worldcon programming and come around so I can teach you 80% of the grammar in a mere 50 minutes.

Sunday, August 19th
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. | Lower Level Plaza (San Jose Convention Center) | Stroll With The Stars
We’ve been going for days, and we could all use a casual walk around the convention center. I love doing this and you will too. Meet in the Lower Level Plaza area.
with Debra Nickelson (M), Mary Robinette Kowal, Kate Baker, Jeffe Kennedy, and lots of other folks.

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | 211B (San Jose Convention Center) | Kaffeeklatsch
The last time I had one of these was in Kansas City, and it filled up! You need to sign up for this event in advance and seating is limited. Ah, but if you get in, you can ask me anything you like, about Barsk, Buffalitos, Hypnosis, Klingon, and most anything you can think of. with whoever signs up!

Monday, August 20th
12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 211A (San Jose Convention Center) | Reading
The con is finally winding down. You’re tired, I get it. Me too. So come on by and all you have to do is sit there while I read to you. It’s really just that easy.

Anyway, that’s what I know as of right now, and it could all change. Doubtless, some of it will.

Other dates that are important around this time:

Sunday, August 12th – World Elephant Day.
Tuesday, August 14th – Tor Books releases The Moons of Barsk.
Tuesday, August 21st – My wedding anniversary!

Eating Authors: William Ledbetter

No Comments » Written on July 16th, 2018 by
Categories: News
William Ledbetter

I’ve been busily preparing for the publication of the translation of a historic work into the Klingon language. The timing has been tricky because I wanted to have it done in time for the 25th annual Klingon Language Conference that begins on Thursday in Indianapolis. It’s going to be tight, but the plan now is for the printed proof to meet me in Indiana and it should all work out.

As exciting (to some) as that may be, it doesn’t make for a very good segue for introducing this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest, William Ledbetter. On the other hand, complaining about not having a good segue isn’t a bad segue, and so here we are.

Bill is a card-carrying geek of the space technology variety. He administers the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award contest for Baen Books and the National Space Society, and is also a graduate of the Launch Pad Astronomy workshop.

He mainly writes short fiction. It’s something he does very well (and he has a Nebula Award to prove it), but this blog generally only features authors who are publishing books, and that typically means novels (and more recently novellas). Bill found a loophole in that his first novel, Level Five comes out tomorrow as an audiobook, or as the fine folks at Audible like to call it, an “audible original.”

If you’re not already familiar with his work, this link will serve as a good introduction to it. Check it out, it’s free!

LMS: Welcome, Bill. Talk to me about your most memorable meal.

WL: I’ve had a good life that has been filled with amazing meals shared with fun and interesting people, so narrowing those down for this blog was difficult, but one recent dinner seems to have so many memorable elements that it begged for the honor.

Just before WorldCon last year, I received an email from my friend, writer and editor extraordinaire Eric Choi, inviting me to attend a dinner while in Helsinki. I knew Eric wouldn’t steer us wrong, because he’d set us up with some excellent Chinese cuisine while in Toronto for the International Space Development Conference a few years earlier, and he has a lot of interesting friends, so I eagerly accepted. We went to a Viking themed restaurant called Viikinkiravintola Harald which was only a couple blocks from the central train station. If you are a serious food critic, looking for the finest cuisine in Helsinki, you might be disappointed, because this place is set up to entertain tourists, but I am not so serious about my food and really enjoyed it.

Level Five

Between my own plate and stealing tastes from my wife Denise’s plate, I tried things like reindeer tenderloin in lingonberry and butter sauce (lingonberries are very popular there,) beaver sausage, artichoke mashed potatoes and beer with tar in it (tar in food is very popular here too). Others at the table had things like tarred Baltic herring, cold-smoked salmon, smoked duck, lamb stew, tarred lingonberries, potato cake, fried fennel and cabbage and even tar-flavored ice cream served with tar and caramel sauce. Our host Eric Choi split “The Game Sword of Mimir the Giant” with Ian McDonald which had reindeer tenderloin, wild boar, partridge and vegetables skewered on a sword!

Of course the best part of any big dinner like this is the people. We had a good mix of scientists, writers, artists and various other disciplines, from at least a half-dozen countries, which made for some great stories and a lot of laughter. I sat next to Tony Pi, whom I had previously never met. As one might imagine from reading his work, he’s a fun and interesting guy. In addition to those already mentioned we were joined by Rodney Branch, Gillian Clinton, Asmus Koefoed, Cenk Gökçe, Yves Meynard, Geoff Landis, Mary Turzillo, Chelsea Merriman, Trica Tynan, Julie Novakova and Karen Rylander.

Thanks, Bill. That sounds like the kind of Worldcon meals my wife likes to organize (though yours was on a much bigger scale. And yeah, I had some tar liqueur while in Helsinki. What’s up with that?

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Eating Authors: Kate Heartfield

No Comments » Written on May 14th, 2018 by
Categories: News
Tags:
Kate Heartfield

I’m in full on packing mode. The Nebula Awards Conference is this week. I’m actually heading there tomorrow because the SFWA Board has two full days of meetings to get through and so we’re starting a day early, and in order to start that bright and early Wednesday morning I need to drive there (Pittsburgh) on Tuesday. It should be a great week of planning for the next year, welcoming new members to the Board, seeing lots of old friends, meeting lots of new people, sneaking in time for some professional development, and celebrating some great fiction. And a few fortunate people will go home with lovely paperweights.

Out of deference to the Nebs, I won’t even pretend to offer you a segue to this week’s EATING AUTHORS guest and simply tell you that it’s the remarkable Kate Heartfield. She lives in rural Ottawa, teaches journalism at Carleton University, and has been a newspaper editor.

Kate’s first novel, Armed in Her Fashion, comes out in paperback tomorrow (the ebook came out last month). She’s also written an interactive novel, The Road to Canterbury for Choice of Games, and she has two time-travel novellas coming out soon from Tor.com. No stranger to history herself, she’s now on her way to making some.

LMS: Welcome, Kate. What was your most memorable meal?

KH: I don’t really remember what was in the soup. But eight years later, I can still see the covered dish it was in, on the light layer of snow on my front porch. I remember how it allowed me to believe that everything might be OK.

It was early February, in Ottawa, Canada. My partner and I had just come home from the hospital with our newborn boy.

The labour was long and difficult but without incident – until about an hour after the birth, when I complained about continued abdominal pain. My midwife’s smile vanished, and she said something along the lines of, “That’s not right.”

It quickly became apparent how not-right it was. The pain got worse. My pulse went wild and I became very cold.

Armed in Her Fashion

Post-partum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. I was lucky; I was in a very good hospital, where a surgeon saved my life.

But I’d lost two litres of blood, and had to stay in the hospital for a few days while the doctors monitored me and decided whether to give me a transfusion. They decided against the transfusion, but the blood loss left me severely anemic.

We humans use the iron in our food to make hemoglobin, which transports the oxygen from our lungs. Normal hemoglobin levels for someone with my body type are between 120 g/L and 160 g/L. Blood loss temporarily reduces hemoglobin, and it can take a while for our bodies to build it back up. Canadian Blood Services won’t take donations from people with levels lower than 125 g/L, because even that much of a drop from those levels could be dangerous.

As a long-time vegetarian, I was already aware of the importance of dietary iron. When I went into the hospital, my hemoglobin level was a healthy 157 g/L.

My hemoglobin level when I left the hospital with my newborn was 72 g/L.

In addition to the standard recovery issues after childbirth, the paucity of oxygen reaching my cells made me weak and confused. I had a few hallucinations, and could barely get out of bed at first. The worst of it, from my perspective, was that the hemorrhage delayed the onset of breast milk. I desperately wanted to nurse my baby, and I did, but it was a long, difficult and painful process to make it work.

When we arrived home to see that covered dish in the snow, with a little note about its origins, it was a sign that I had more support than I realized. I had friends who cared. Friends who lived in the city, but who made the 45-minute drive out to our rural home in February just to leave some soup on our porch.

The Course of True Love

We brought it into the kitchen, and lifted the lid. I wish I could remember the ingredients, but all I remember was realizing that (a) it was vegetarian and (b) it was full of iron-rich foods, like spinach, lentils, beans and chickpeas. My friends were thoughtful enough both to respect my vegetarianism and to make me food that would bring up my hemoglobin.

I ate it eagerly over the next few days. With the help of iron supplements and good food, my hemoglobin levels recovered in a few weeks – faster than my doctors had expected.

That humble vegetarian soup has stuck in my memory because it meant life for me (and for the hungry baby at my breast). My friends (who were then new parents themselves) left it for me in such a kind, quiet way that wouldn’t impose on me for anything, not even thanks or small talk. It was food without fuss. Food as offering. Food as help.

We writers who draw on medieval Europe for our settings often use a pottage of vegetables or perpetual stew — the pot sitting on the fire for days, with new scraps going in as needed — to signal humble surroundings. We might not think about the fact that humble or not, those nutrients allow our characters to fight, talk or think.

The main character in my novel Armed in Her Fashion is a wetnurse in medieval Bruges. In the opening scene, she sneaks out of a city under siege because she’s desperate to gather herbs she thinks might help her maintain her milk supply. I know exactly how she feels.

Thanks, Kate. What a generous and perfect gift. Soup is a miracle and a marvel in so many ways. And, by total coincidence, I just finished a novella about it. 🙂

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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Semi-Obligatory and Late-Arriving Award Eligibility Post

1 Comment » Written on January 13th, 2018 by
Categories: News
Tags: , ,
Barry's Deal

I’m deep in the throes of reading, reading, reading so much brilliant fiction from 2017, and making recommendations and notes in preparation for turning in my nominations for the Nebula Awards (including the Norton) and the Hugo Awards (including the Campbell). Along the way, I somehow failed until now to put up a post of which among my own fiction in 2017 I’d hope you might consider as you go through your own process.

I’ll keep it simple, just one thing: My novella, Barry’s Deal.

So here’s there thing. I’m uncomfortable with posts like this. While I like nominations as much as any author (and maybe more than many), and the occasional win too, I don’t want to campaign for them. That’s not my job. My job — and I’d argue, every author’s job — is to write the best fiction that I can, and moreover to write better fiction each year than I did the year before. Also to challenge myself, to try new things, to grow as an author, but yeah, all of that is in service to the main thing: writing the best fiction that I can.

But the world isn’t that simple any more (and maybe it never was), and more and more every author also has to do publicity and marketing. Which is why, I believe, you see more and more posts like this, year after year. And now, here’s mine.

In that light, I’m a bit more comfortable with it because, let me be clear, I’m not asking for your vote or even your nomination. I’m asking you to read my work. Anything beyond that, well, the work itself will either inspire your action or it won’t. That’s as it should be.

Which brings us back to Barry’s Deal. Here’s the irony: while my novels have the backing and distribution of a major press, my shorter fiction continues to come out from a small press. Barry’s Deal, is only the fifth book from NobleFusion Press. It was published in late, in the second week of November. Both of these facts mean you’re unlikely to have heard about it, let alone seen a copy. And yet, I have the audacity to think that if you only read it you’ll like it quite a bit, so I’ve been persuaded to put up this post.

Barry’s Deal is the fourth novella in my ongoing series about the Amazing Conroy and Reggie, a stage hypnotist turned corporate CEO and his alien companion animal that can eat anything and farts oxygen. The novella stands on its own, though if you’ve read some of the other stories you’ll likely recognize returning characters. I’ve been writing about Conroy for 17 years. It appears that writing the more serious Barsk novels has taught me a thing or two, and the early reviews have described this novella as the best thing in the series so far.

Anyway, I hope you’ll read it. And if you do, post a review and let me know what you thought. Thanks.