Victorians, Werewolves, and Spies, Oh, My!

ConDor was great fun, an established convention in San Diego with reliable attendance and a writing/reading SF/F bent. I arrived Friday and hit the ground running with my first panel. I’m going to let you peek at my notes. I’m afraid I didn’t take them on other people’s comments, just my own thoughts. And, of course, they are only notes, starter thoughts on what I actually said, so don’t take them as gospel. I also include links to some of the sources I recommended. Gentle Reader, make of them what you will.



The New Victorians: The Allure of the Antique to the Decidedly Modern

  • Existing silliness, whimsey of playing with technology that wasn’t, interconnection of tech & culture
  • Industrial age as compared to modern world, our economic chaos is attracted to their perceived order
  • Americans apparently love the idea of the class system (see popularity of Downton Abby)
  • Etiquette & manners, introductions & politeness, precedence, safety in knowing the requirements of any social interaction, joy of secure place
  • Progress as an allure: accepted by middle class, threat to some aristocrats
  • QV giving over much of her monarchical power to parliament just as aristocrats are loosing out to middle class
  • (Sherwood Smith was on this panel with me and I must admit to a fan girl squee, I adore her Crown Duel YA and highly recommend it.)


Friday Ice Cream Social (by Jerry Abuan)

Developing & Maintaining Romantic Relationships in Continuing Storylines

  • Differences in writing love/sex for Romance market vs SF/F
  • 6 standard Austen tropes in romance
  • Realistic versus romantic
  • Thrill of suspense in the handkerchief drop
  • Combative love, matched wits
  • Using romance as a spice (not a main theme), using it for humor
  • Twisting tropes in series: Theirs Not to Reason Why series (friends arrange the match), Miles Vorkosigan saga (not your typical hero)
  • My suggestions were: Farscape (soap opera love but I stay engaged), Servant of the Empire series (two love affairs both wonderful), Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness YA series (multiple loves, all romantic and appealing)
  • Authors who write good romantic threads (not major themes but still wonderful) Tarr, Renault, Edwards


Ice Cream Social
There was a cake just for me! Three kinds of ice cream, another cake for the fan GOH, and it was all delicious and fun.

Friday Ice Cream Social (by Jerry Abuan)


Guest of Honor Q&A
No notes. It was the usual if you come to see me in person. You can ask me anything, I’ll answer as best as I can, with the understanding it doesn’t leak onto the net.

Q&A (by Jerry Abuan)

Had a nice little line, managed to get them done in 45 minutes just long enough for an off the cuff interview and signing stock for Patrick and the Mysterious Galaxy folk.

In the dealers room with authors Tod McCaffrey and Brothers K (Dani’s phone)

Inventing Exotic Cultures

  • Be wary of cultural misappropriation
  • Use of word “exotic”
  • Info-dumping
  • Real world ancient vs historical
  • Objects having meaning & symbolism informing character & space
  • Point of entry
  • Using exotic words in context to give enough understanding, trusting the curious reader to look up exact definition if they want (fichu, decolletage)
  • Subversive nature of humor

Werewolves: Sociology & Sociobiology
Some books I suggested: Black Dog, Blood & Chocolate, Mercy Thompson series
Myth debunked: Full moon does not increase incidence of psychological problems

On Panel (by Jerry Abuan)



Historical Research for Fantasy Literature

  • Know the rules of the time period, so you can break them
  • Types of errors that throw people out of the suspension of disbelief, give up on some of the specifics (the 10% rule)
  • Errors of context ~ no jean at the Renascence Faire
  • Primary vs secondary sources: each are biased in their own way
  • TK ~ return to check later, beware the assumptions of your own brain
  • Recommended starter books: children’s DK Eyewitness Books, Timetables of History, maps of the time period
  • Visit the location if possible: familiarity with space, light, smells, mood, may not be exactly the same as the past but it gives a starting access to all five senses
  • Keep in mind basic human needs as provided by environment: drink, sleep, eat, shelter, procreate
  • Worldbuilding in my book ~ including resources
  • 26 Tips for Researching Victorian Set Steampunk


Eytan and I, friends for years, our first panel together (by Jerry Abuan)

Learning to Edit Your Own Work

  • Identify your own ticks & bad habits search/replace
  • Gail’s stages of editing detailed
  • Read manuscript out loud to catch sing-song and flow issues
  • Read backwards, one sentace at a time (short stories)
  • How to keep deadlines from impacting quality
  • Keeping drafts of deleted scenes


Dani edited himself out of the panel (by Jerry Abuan)

Secret Agent Stories in SF/Historical/Fantasy: Adapting Espionage Tropes


Tribute from lovely readers

As you can see it was a fun con with lots of panels discussing topics I’ve never had the opportunity to discuss before. That was so much fun!

Next up? Colorado Springs, CO April 25 ~ 27, 2014 Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference (Colorado Springs Marriott 5580 Tech Center Drive Colorado Springs, CO 80919)


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Pile of crochet octopus in the dealer’s room

Book News:

Blast from the past, Mike and I at my first steampunk convention.

Quote of the Day:

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Posted by Gail Carriger

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