AWP 2018 Schedule

Next week I’ll be attending the Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in Tampa, Florida. Follow me on Twitter (@moodyjenni), and I’ll tweet photos and panel news when I can.

I’m super excited to participate in my first AWP panel, especially since it focuses on an issue close to my heart — crossovers between composition and creative writing pedagogies and identities. Interested? Here’s more information:

“Creative Writers, Composition Teachers” S241

Saturday, March 10, 2018   3:00 – 4:15pm

Marriott Waterside, 2nd Floor, Mtg Rm 4

Panelists: Shane Seely, Rachael Stewart, Jenni Moody, Jonathan Udelson, Tina Shen

Panel Description: Most creative writers who teach will, at some point in their careers, find themselves in the composition classroom. For many, first-year writing provides the first teaching experience. This panel explores the strengths that creative writers bring to the composition classroom, the struggles they inevitably face, and lessons from this teaching that can serve them throughout their teaching and writing careers.

cream city review Bookfair Booth #1735

Do you write fiction? Would you like to submit your fiction to cream city review? I’m currently a fiction editor for the journal and would love to meet you! I’ll be at the booth during these times:

Thursday, March 8 — 12:45 – 3:00

Friday, March 9 — 8:30 – 10:30 and 3:00 – 5:15

Saturday, March 10 — 10:30 – 12:45

Hope to see you in Tampa!

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Con*Stellation XXXI: Perseus

This year I dove into Con*Stellation, spending more than twenty hours there over the course of the weekend. I went to many panels, attended the art auction, nibbled on cashews at the Friday night reception, and hung out in the dealer’s room with my fellow Trek club friend Laura.  Here are my favorite moments from Con*Stellation XXXI: Perseus!

Friday

The Science Fiction Writers and Cake Appreciation Society Reading

First up on Friday was the reading by members of the Science Fiction Writers and Cake Appreciation Society. Last year one of the stories was bought by an editor of a pro magazine.

This year was my first time taking part in the reading. I read snippets from “Sister Winter,” my week 6 Clarion West story. I was afraid that reading short snippets from a long piece, instead of an entire really short piece, would work badly, but a few of the other writers told me afterwards that they had really enjoyed my story. So I was really glad I had decided to read that one. 

The organizer of my local sf writing group is Lin Cochran, who is also a Clarion West alum.(She attended the first two Clarion Wests – so cool!) She read her story that appears in the recent anthology of Alabama authors, Summer Gothicand it was lovely.

Lin Cochran reading from Summer Gothic
Louise Herring-Jones read a witty and hilarious excerpt of “slug porn” that has me wanting to try some humor writing. It worked so well as a piece to read aloud to a group. She’s also a wonderful convention friend – waving you to sit up front with her at panels and making sure you’ve met everyone in the conversation circle. Louise had some extra copies of Mirror Shards 2 on hand, so I bought one from her to get a better feel for what sf anthologies feel like. I think I’ll make it one of my writing goals this year to submit to a themed anthology. 

Panel: “Non-Traditional Routes to Publication”

Late on Friday evening I went to a panel on self-publishing. A lot of the conversation centered on e-publishing, including perils and format limitations. Images seem to be especially tricky, and are better left out unless printing a specialty coffee table book where people expect to pay higher prices. Createspace seems to be the go-to place for print self-publishing.

Two of the panelists were L.R. Barrett-Durham and Grady Glover, authors of the Fear and Trust series. They are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and were always ready to hang out and talk about writing and how to publicize your work. But the biggest tip they had to give me wasn’t anything they said – it was about how to be really friendly to (sometimes shy) strangers.

L.R. Barrett and Grady Glover
Photograph by Laura of SF Collectibles

Saturday

Filk Concert: Cat Faber

Cat Faber

On Saturday I went to a mid-day filk concert by Cat Faber. She has such a wonderful stage presence, and I loved listening to her songs. I wish the concert could have been outside; her lyrics are the kind that make me want to stare up into leaf canopies and daydream.

My favorite songs she performed were “If the Last Spaceship Leaves On Time” and one about a mouse finding a giant chocolate bar and pretending to be magnanimous when he offers the leftover almonds to his friends (after having consumed the entire chocolate bar by himself).

Usually music doesn’t make me think of story writing. Literary readings help dredge up solutions to my story problems, but music mostly helps me block out background noise. But Cat’s songs had me spinning fantasy yarns in my head from the start. I think I might try listening to her CD when I have writer’s block to transition into the feeling of storytelling.

Filk Concert: Marc Gunn – Firefly Drinking Songs

Marc performed several awesome Firefly inspired songs, and it was easy to see that he’s a real fan of the show. My favorite song was “Freedom Costs”, an anthem for the independence fighters.

All of the songs he performed were amazing, lilty and soulful at the same time. He took the time to speak out the chorus with the audience before the sing-a-longs, encouraging us to join in.

Con*Stellation is a very intimate con, so taking pictures or videos of people on a panel feels like walking up to someone and taking a picture in their face. But there are tons of good fan videos of Marc performing at DragonCon on Youtube, so check him out.

Sunday

Autograph Session

I almost didn’t go back to Con*Stellation on Friday, but I’m very glad I did. I had spent around ten hours on Friday and Saturday at the convention, and by Sunday morning I was really tired. But I drank some coffee and that made me feel more like heading out.

When I arrived at the con everyone in the lobby was gathered around the television, watching Felix Baumgartner’s dive to earth. When he landed, he knelt on the ground and everyone cheered. It was so cool to watch this moment surrounded by science fiction fans, writers, and NASA scientists. I hope there are more universal cheering moments in our near future.

Felix kneeling after his record jump

At the autograph session I got to sit down and talk with David B. Coe/ D.B. Jackson. That’s one of the best things about a small con – there wasn’t any huge table between us and a line behind me hurrying me up. I just sat across from him at a small two-person table.  I’m really excited about reading his new book, Thieftaker, and diving into his epic fantasy as well. 
Jackson was a really wonderful literary guest of honor, and was very warm and enthusiastic when I spoke with him for a few minutes after he signed my books. Somehow we wound up talking about Alaska, and a trip he had taken to Denali. 
I have lots of notes scribbled in my notebook from Jackson’s panels, but one of my favorites is one I had heard from another person a while back, but hearing it this time it clicked.
One of the panels Jackson was on was an interview, and Eric Flint asked Jackson why he chose to write about Boston during this era. He answered that there is a parallel between the setting and the main character – the character is the embodiment of the city. It is something I’m going to keep in mind while I’m working on my novel. 
Con*Stellation XXI was a great con, and I’m so thankful it takes place in Huntsville. It gave me a great chance to reconnect with my local writing group and to also meet professional writers both in person and by introducing me to their work. I hope it lives on for many years to come. 

Con*Stellation Time Again!

Art by David O. Miller

This weekend is my local science fiction convention, Con*Stellation. I had a wonderful time last year at the 30th Anniversary con, and I’m looking forward to a great convention this year.

On Friday evening at 7:00PM the local writing group, the Science Fiction Writers and Cake Appreciation Society, will be reading stories in the lobby. There will, of course, also be cake.

I will be reading a short story. I am not yet nervous, but it is only Wednesday.

Con*Stellation XXX: Corona Borealis

Another long-missed opportunity that my hometown has offered for years – a science fiction convention! 2011 is the first time that I have known about, and as a result have attended, my local science fiction convention. It is put on by North Alabama Science Fiction Association (NASFA), and has been running for thirty years now.

On Friday afternoon I picked up my convention badge. Somehow the spellings never quite seem to work out for me. But the alternatives always sound cooler than my real name.

The Guest of Honor for this year’s convention was Gene Wolfe. Gene Wolfe! He’s sitting in the middle of the table in this picture taken during the Opening Ceremonies. To the left is Guest of Honor Artist, Lubov. On the left end of the table is Master of Ceremonies, Stephanie Osborn. To the right is Gay Haldeman, Fan Guest of Honor, and her husband, Joe Haldeman.

Gay and Joe Haldeman were an awesome duo. Gay handled panels with deftness and wit and humor. Lubov kept appearing near me at random times during the convention, always wearing beautiful skirts and tops that seemed like she had plucked them from her paintings.

And Gene Wolfe! He was delightful. He told wonderful stories and anecdotes on the panels, and a few in the hallways too. He gave a reading from his current project,The Land Across.

On the last day of the convention, there was an author signing. I had brought my copy of The Fifth Head of Cerberus. I’d been trying to work up the courage to talk to him all weekend.

He asked me if it was my copy, and he said it was in wonderful condition for such an old edition. He signed my copy of his book, and I gushed for a minute about how much I liked his writing.

Yay Gene Wolfe! I’m so glad I had the chance to meet him.

Con*Stellation also had a nice Art Room. There were probably twenty or so artists that had art for sale. They had a great range of art, from amigurumi cthulhu to an original painting by Lubov.

There was an amazing Martian landscape, “Oasis on Mars”, by F.R. Amthor. I made the mistake of waiting to buy it. On Sunday morning I came to the con ready to take it home, but someone else had purchased it.

 There was one print that I fell in love with and bought right away (presented here by Furball):


“Hero Worship” by Sarah Clemens.

There’s a little card in the corner of the print that says, “It brings a tear to their eyes to see The Big Guy stomp Tokyo”. I love the wistful look in the dragon’s eyes, and the cunning in the cat’s.

Each year the convention has a kind of patron saint constellation. This year it was the Corona Borealis. The t-shirt art is done by the same artist every year, and it is a tradition for regular con-goers to wear the t-shirts of Con*Stellations past. One of my favorite past-con t-shirts was an aquamarine shirt with Delphinus.

In the dealer room, I successfully kept myself from buying a Star Trek plate painted with the Enterprise sailing into a nebula. I don’t have a good place to display it at the moment without the fear of a cat knocking it over. But someday I will have a china hutch with a few antiques I have inherited. And some Star Trek plates. It is going to be awesome.

I learned how to play the Eleminis  card game, and bought a set to play with my brother. I bought a copy of Tales from a Goth Librarian from Kimberly Richardson. And, I bought these:

Yes. SeaQuest badges. Aren’t they awesome?

Con*Stellation was a great small convention. There weren’t so many people there that I got overwhelmed with agoraphobia (well, except for once during the Friday night mingle session where everyone was in a small room). And the Guests of Honor were always visible hanging out at the panels, in the hallways, on the sofa in the lobby. I talked to some people I had never met before and came away feeling a recharge in my sense of science fiction community.

My dream is to go to the World Fantasy Convention within the next few years, but whether or not I can go, I’m glad that I’ll be able to attend my extremely awesome local science fiction convention. My many thanks to NASFA for all of the great work they did to make the convention happen!