Last RT Update

Okay, here we go – the last RT 2011 update. I’m actually going back to Friday, since I didn’t have my notes with me yesterday.

Friday morning I went to a panel on creating out of this world Science Fiction. But really, it ended up being a panel on world-building. I learned that when you’re creating a world, you can’t just take your home town and put it on a different planet. You need to come up with political, social, religious, and economic structures for your planet (or your area of the planet), and you cannot ignore the weather as that, too will affect the inhabitants. L.E. Modesitt, Ann Aguirre, Melinda Snodgrass and Kate Elliot were the panelists (since my sons are huge L.E. Modesitt fans, it was a thrill to be there). Another thing – when dealing with sci fi in particular, stay away from what Modesitt calls “techno-porn”, digging into how things work. Keep it gray, amorphous, and it won’t date the book as fast. When you think about it, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and Modesitt himself all have timeless stories. That’s what you want, timeless, so your book can still be on the shelves 20 years from now and still feel fresh, not dated.

From there I went to a panel with Merrilee Heifetz, a VP with Writer’s House; Anne Hoppe, a Harper Collins Executive Editor; and Sally Willcox, a film agent with CAA. They were talking about taking a book to film, the options process, and how few options actually make it to the silver screen (less than 2% of the million options that happen in a year). This was nothing new to me, having been around the Hollywood scene for a couple decades now; but I did accomplish my objective, pressing my bookmark into each of their hands. Go, me!

I sat in on the TOR Spotlight and got a ton of L.E. Modesitt swag which I had him autograph on Saturday. I also learned that TOR is very interested in romance in their sci fi, and they do want Space Opera. Yay! An interesting side note – Modesitt does not have an agent. He’s married to TOR, as he puts it, and sees no reason to get an agent at this point. He’s doing well with approximately 20 books in print (I don’t think any of his books have gone out of print, actually). Nice!

From there I went to The Many Faces of the Undead with Caridad Pinero, L.A. Banks, Kerrelyn Sparks, and Jeanne C. Stein. On the social side, since I just did a blog post with Caridad it was wonderful to meet her in person. She’s warm, funny, and so smart! We talked until it was time to start the panel.

The interesting thing I took away from this panel was that, since the Vampire has so many advantages, you have to give them vulnerabilities. Which is why one of the panelists stuck to all the traditional trappings of vampires – they die during the day, can’t go into the sun, etc. All the panelists had different ways of handling their vamps, and it was fascinating to listen to. The main thing is once you set those parameters for your characters, then you have to stick with them and make them work. I think it was Kerrelyn who said the one device she wished she hadn’t done in her first book was the garlic thing – now she thinks it’s kind of silly. So if you’re writing supernatural creatures, be careful of the restrictions you put on them, and make sure you give them weaknesses that make them vulnerable.

After that panel was the book signing and I’ve already talked at length about those two hours, so I’ll skip it here.

The Vampire Ball was interesting. Heather Graham and Helen A. Rosburg sponsored the ball and put on a show. Unfortunately the show was done while we ate, and it was very difficult to hear (not to mention follow the story line). And the story line was incoherent – too many writers, I’m thinking. All in all, the dinner was nice – the show, not my favorite way to spend forty minutes.

And now it’s Sunday morning. Time to pack up all my free books and get ready to head on for home.