I don’t convention the way that I used to. And that’s okay.

This blog post was prompted by a twitter conversation with Merrie Haskell.

Our family travels a lot for SF/F conventions; we do between 8-12 a year, depending upon the year, invites, etc. This is both for my day job and for Uncanny. 

The way I experience conventions has changed significantly in the past few years. We now typically travel with Caitlin rather than without her. We drive instead of fly. If there’s a flight involved, or international travel, it will likely be one of us rather than the whole family.

Getting where we’re going (in terms of packing, driving, etc.) is an extensively planned tactical strike followed by a marathon. It takes more energy and time than it used to. I now build in half a day for packing and a post-convention recovery day where possible. It helps, but it’s not a cure-all.  I’m trying to adjust my own expectations for How I Convention in response to the New Normal.

When it was just Michael and I when we first started going to conventions a decade ago, it was not uncommon for me to stay up late socializing (late for me = 1 am. I’m still basically Cinderella) and not have a terribly regular or healthy meal schedule. I would do 8-10 panels in addition to the late nights (my record is 18 on-book program items when I was the Guest of Honor at CONvergence–I had a great time, but NEVER AGAIN). I gave in to my fear of missing out on social time, fear of not participating enough to justify the trip, and exhausted myself. By the end of the convention, I’d have lost my voice, and would be in need of several days of sleep and a lot of vegetables.


I’ve learned some hard lessons about taking care of myself in the past few years. Now that we travel with Caitlin, I simply can’t physically do that anymore, not in combination with her care. Also, I’m 10 years older than I was then. So, at the ripe old age of nearly 42, I’ve developed some new guidelines that seem to allow me to not feel as though I’ve been physically hit by a truck post convention.

Here’s what you need to know about how I convention nowadays.

  1. I now limit the total number of panels/programming that I can handle at a convention. My absolute max is 6 unless it’s a 4 day convention, in which case, 7. Ideally, no more than 2 things per day. Paneling requires me to be “on.” It takes energy and focus to be a good panelist. That is in more limited quantities now.
  2. In a world where I was not required to be physically present for any particular purpose (like work or school), my natural body clock is to go to bed between 11 and midnight, and to wake up between 7 and 8 am. Pushing past those limits makes me either tired and unsocial (early mornings) or stupidly tired and not cogent (late nights).
  3. Please don’t be surprised if you cannot find me in social spaces after 10:00 pm. My social time is over and done by 10:30 pm at the absolute latest if I’m on Caitlin duty. That’s the upper limit of how late she can stay up, and she can’t do it daily.
  4. I will typically have one evening where I’m off Caitlin duty. My social time ends by 11:30 or midnight that night.  I have to go to bed, because Caitlin still gets up in the morning by 7 or 8.
  5. I want to see people! But I cannot physically do it at 2am. It’s just not going to happen. If you want to make absolutely sure that you get some socializing/hangout time with me, schedule it during the day. Pick a meal, ask me to coffee/tea, etc. I will do my best to work it into my convention/programming schedule. Having limited my official convention schedule helps immensely with this.
  6. If you are a GymCon person, I’m also trying to commit to working out at least once per con in the hotel somehow where optional, so this is a good way to get time with me if you don’t mind seeing me sweat.


  1. I try to carry around water to drink and healthy snacks to nibble upon, and have committed to eating two actual real food meals daily. One meal per day must include fruits or vegetables or both in as close to natural states as possible. Fried vegetables do not count for this metric.
  2. I now am much more vigilant about managing both my caffeine and alcohol intakes. While I was never a huge drinker to begin with, do not be surprised if you see me either nursing a single drink or not consuming alcohol at all during typical BarCon experiences. If you offer to buy me a drink, I may ask for lemonade. I’m still grateful for the hospitable gesture and am happy to chat.
  3. I’m going to point out that telling me I look tired has developed into a pet peeve. I understand that it’s meant to be an expression of concern. No matter how much makeup I’m wearing, I have resting tired face, apparently. I look tired to people when I’m not being “on,” when I’m relaxed or comfortable, listening intently, or focused on a task. It’s perfectly okay to ask me if I have hydrated lately, or to offer me healthy snacks or a cup of tea if I look as though I’m beginning to wilt and you are the kind of person who feels the need to do something useful.
  4. While I’m in a general sense comfortable with hugging people I know, and being photographed, please ask first, especially if I haven’t known you for a while. I am committed to doing the same.

While these are not hard-and-fast rules, I’m finding that I personally have a better convention when I roll with these guidelines.

Good boundaries make good conventions!

Thanks for understanding.



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Verity Extra! – Quel Dommaged Goods

New Verity! In which I experience a New Adventures novel.


VerityExtraDamagedGoodsIt’s another bookish Extra! Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we look at another first. This time it’s Russell T Davies’ first published Doctor Who work, his New Adventures novel Damaged Goods. This is another very grown-up-themed tome, and the Verities react as such. Some really enjoy it, others not as much. But as always, it’s a great discussion! (Though we do, necessarily, venture into some rather adult territory in the course of the discussion, so sensitive/young listeners may want to beware.)

Have you read this one? If so, what do you think of it? And can you see any RTD-isms poking up in this early work? Let us know in the comments!


Related links:
The Doctor Who Book Club Podcast covers Damaged Goods
Russell T Davies Talks Damaged Goods in Doctor Who Magazine

Download or listen now (runtime 56:12)  

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Verity! Extra! – Camille Appeal

New Verity! Camille Corduri interview!


VerityExtraCamilleWe have another lovely convention interview for you this week! Join Deb and Erika ever-so-briefly as they reminisce about the fab time they had at the LI Who convention in 2015. While there, Deb did this onstage interview with Jackie Tyler herself, Camille Coduri!

Do you have fond Jackie/Camille memories? Let us know in the comments!


Download or listen now (runtime 49:50)  

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Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very solid fairy tale riff. I enjoyed the characters and the plot of the killer Wood, but I found myself a little frustrated with the main character–Agniezka’s impulsiveness didn’t seem to get much better through the course of the book after things went wrong from her acting on it. She had a full emotional life, and it very much drove pretty much all of her choice making.

Her romance with Sarkan was very much backgrounded rather than foregrounded, which was fine.

Enjoyable if you have strong feelings about themes of hearth and home, and how they impact our choices, or like fairy tale retellings that riff on Baba Yaga and country vs. court life.

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My WorldCon Schedule!

BEHOLD! I have a schedule for WorldCon now!

Thursday Aug 18, 2016

You’re assigned to this item as: Moderator
  • Doctor Who and the Changing Show Runners
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2502A
  • Panel  1 hour
    TV Doctor Who Genre
  • Russell T. Davies and Stephen Moffatt had very different approaches to the classic British timey-wimey drama. Each have their fans and detractors. How will the show change under Chris Chibnall? What is the impact of show runners on Doctor Who, and are they more important in the Internet era and the reign of the geek?
You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker
  • Editing and Crafting the Short Story
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2206
  • Panel  1 hour
  • Any writer or editor can tell you that writing a short story and writing a novel require different skills in the writer’s wheelhouse. Writing on the small scale requires precision of detail from concept to completion. What do you need to know about openings, character development, narrative arcs, endings, and more that will make your short fiction pop? How does the process differ from putting the initial draft on paper to editing the text to better reflect the vision in your head? When do you know when that short story is finally ready to go?
You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker
  • Science Fiction at Universities: Creating the Canon
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2204
  • Panel  1 hour
  • Different universities including Dundee, Liverpool and the local Kansas City University run science fiction courses. The reading material they cite as foundational varies considerably, with some including very few women, PoC or otherwise diverse SF while others start from a basis that SF began with Mary Shelley and includes works such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915) and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s, We (1921). What influence do university courses have on canon formation and what responsibilities do they have in representing and encouraging awareness of the diversity of material that is published?
  • Campbell & Sturgeon Awards
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2501D
  • Awards  1 hour 50 minutes
  • Join us as we honor the winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of the year and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best science fiction short story of the year. These awards are unique in that they are selected by incredibly well read authors and scholars in the field. This process side-steps the politics of other award methods. Tonight we will announce the winners and honor their talent with a brief reception.

    The John W. Campbell Memorial Award is one of the three major annual awards for science fiction. The first Campbell Award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973.

    The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award was established in 1987 as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

    Awards Events

Friday Aug 19, 2016

You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker
 There are a number of research institutions throughout the world holding collections dedicated to documenting and preserving the history of the science fiction and fantasy genres. This history is expressed through the published and broadcast works themselves, the secondary literature devoted to them, the primary materials (i.e. authors’ manuscripts) that are their building blocks, and the products lovingly created by fans in response to those works.  Together these types of materials chart the birth, development, and evolution of the SF&F genres, and without them, researchers and scholars, as well as fans, will be unable to get a sense of where the genres came from and where they might be headed in the future. Several SF&F librarians and archivists will discuss their collections (with images of some of the more important or interesting materials), the uses to which they are or can be put, and the importance placed upon SF&F creators to preserve their work for future scholars. The panel will focus heavily on discussion between and amongst the three panelists and the audience in order to foster interesting and proactive conversations.

Lynne M. Thomas, Curator, Rare Books and Special Collections, Northern Illinois University, specializing in embedded curatorship, the SFWA Archives, digital preservation, and fundraising.

Elspeth Healey, Special Collections Librarian, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Elspeth’s curatorial responsibilities include KU’s SF collections, which have particular strength for the Golden Age of science fiction.

Jeremy Brett, Processing Archivist and Curator, Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection, Texas A&M University.

Saturday Aug 20, 2016

You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker

Sunday Aug 21, 2016

You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker
  • Hybridity in Comics
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2503B
  • Panel  1 hour
    History Genre Comics
  •  “The hybrid constantly betrays the reader as it switches from one formula to the other, shocking and surprising us and breathing new vividness into the familiar” (Ada Palmer). As with any evolving genre, comics borrow elements from elsewhere, cross genres, and learn from their peers, both historical and contemporary. Our panel discuss some of the ways that hybridity benefits the genre, and helps it grow.
You’re assigned to this item as: Moderator
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Verity 115 – Father’s Day of the Dead

New Verity!


VerityEpisode115Our new-Who rewatch has reached Deb’s personal tipping point into super-fandom. Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy as we discuss feelings and poor choices and schmaltz and glorious 80s hair.

How do you like “Father’s Day”? Did it reach into your heart, give you the feels, and make you a devout fangirl? Or did it confuse you to have all these strange emotions in your Doctor Who? If the latter, has that changed? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus link:

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Verity Extra! – Build-Your-Own Who

In which I determine that Doctor Who requires additional wet Colin Firth. Because reasons.


VerityExtraPitchIt’s a fantasy-casting Verity! Extra! Join Deb, Katrina, and Lynne as they let their imaginations run wild and try to pitch fantastical (or actually, historical) ideas for future Doctor Who episodes, complete with mismatched Doctors and companions, historical figures, guest cast members, and a healthy dose of wet Colin Firth.

This Extra! is lovingly dedicated to the Time Scoop Podcast, in which panelists compete in a fantasy draft choosing a Doctor, a companion, a monster or villain, a writer, and two wild card elements that best exemplify what they love about Who.

What would you like to see in a future DW ep? Let us know in the comments!


Download or listen now (runtime 38:39)  

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In Which I Have An Article on The Mary Sue

I wrote a thing over on The Mary Sue about inclusive SF/F, the Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter and accidentally sparking a culture war.

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Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Cover of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

{cross posted and slightly expanded from my goodreads review}

This book.

This was amazing.

This is a feat of science fantasy and storytelling. To explain exactly :why: it is a feat would, fundamentally spoil major elements of this work. Plot, characterization, and worldbuilding work together here to just… make magic.


But this is completely, utterly in the “holy shit, this was good” category.


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New Verity! Ep 114–Aztec Savvy


It’s a sangria-fueled classic-Who-episode of Verity! Join Deb, Erika, and Katrina as we cover a pure historical, “The Aztecs”. As usual, we don’t all fall in line with received fan wisdom, but for a change, the majority of us do.

Are you a fan of “The Aztecs”? Or are you bored by the lack of sci-fi elements? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Lazy Doctor Who covers “The Aztecs”
Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room

Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:29) Audio Player

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