Friday, June 21, 2013

Pictures from the World Horror Convention in New Orleans

Hello. I am not as cranky as this picture suggests. Stick with me and I promise to smile.

This is my Bitchy Resting Face

A week ago I was in New Orleans for the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend incorporating World Horror Convention -- which for brevity's sake I'll refer to as WHC.

I stayed at the convention venue: the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. My friend and fellow writer, Eliza Hirsch, shared a room.

I arrived Wednesday night with no trouble--unlike Eliza, whose flight was canceled, but that's her story to tell. I rode the Airport Shuttle into the French Quarter, checked in to the hotel, dropped off my stuff, and went in search of a grocery store. I was going on an all day tour the following morning and I'd been told there wouldn't be time to stop for food, so I stocked up on bread, blueberry preserves, peanut butter, and a lot of fruit. There was a minor incident when my bag fell off the counter while I was paying and the jar of preserves shattered inside the bag, but the kind staff replaced the jar and I only had to spend a little time washing blueberry paste off my bananas.

The weather was clear during my excursion, humid, and hot. I assembled my lunch for the next day, had a cocktail in the hotel bar (it spins slowly, hence the name Carousel) and went to bed.

A dim view of the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone

A Vieux Carre at the Hotel Monteleone

Thursday morning I ate breakfast in the hotel restaurant, Criollo--a delicious egg white omelet filled with vegetables and a spicy tomato sauce, plus lots of coffee. Then I caught the tour bus and we headed out to the Laura Plantation.

Front of Laura -- a Creole Plantation, comprehensive info here

Inside of one of the Laura Plantation slave quarters where folklorists recorded the Br'er Rabbit tales

Soon enough we were on our way to the swamp. I had arranged for a six-person airboat tour of the swamp, but lucked out. Only four of us were on the boat.

Waiting for my turn on the airboat. Not pictured: slathering on sunscreen.

My view on the airboat

"Airboat Self-Portrait" is the name of my next band

Our guide feeds marshmallows to a gator

Spanish Moss is not a moss. It is related to the pineapple.

A final stop in the marsh, talking about collecting gator eggs

Overall I really enjoyed the airboat swamp tour. I compared notes with some folks who took the regular flat-bottomed boat and they interacted with more wildlife, but the ride through the swamp was exhilarating.

Time passes. I meet up with my roommate and go on a ghost tour. Buy one Hurricane, get one free...

We were in the Beast group

"Creepy Jesus Shadow"

After the tour was over, Eliza and I took a brief walk down Bourbon Street. Thankfully, no pictures exist of that excursion.

The next morning (Friday) I went to a useful workshop about marketing taught by Matt Schwartz. And then I went to panels and readings.

Lisa Morton interviews John Joseph Adams

Selling Your Short Story Panel: Simon McCaffery, Ellen Datlow, Norman Prentiss, John Joseph Adams

Caitlín R. Kiernan is interviewed by Angel Leigh McCoy

Dinner was at a Paris-style place. I enjoyed the Shrimp Creole and a Bloody Mary. Then I returned for more.

Eliza and I dressed up for the dance.

Eliza looking lovely

Me goofing around

Next day more panels and readings. And a Kaffeeklatsch with Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Robert McCammon, reading

Kaffeeklatsch: Caitlín R. Kiernan (Best two and a half hours of the con)

For lunch I joined a group at Mr. B's for seafood gumbo and a Bloody Mary.

Caitlín R. Kiernan, reading

Eliza and I took a break to go to the Voodoo Museum with a stop at the Faulkner House and another for daiquiris.

Voodoo Museum

Voodoo dolls

Offerings at the Voodoo Museum

That evening I went to the Bram Stoker Awards, but I was too busy telling jokes and stuffing my face to take crummy camera phone pics.

Eliza and I went to see fellow writer Sanford Allen play a gig with his band Hogbitch at Checkpoint Charlie's

Sunday morning arrived fast. As an aside, I ate almost every breakfast at Café Beignet. Fabulous Cajun Hashbrowns and omelets.

Advice for New Writers Panel: K. Trap Jones, Liz Gorinsky, L. L. Soares, Yvonne Navarro, Rena Mason

I also went to the dialogue panel but didn't take a photo. Too busy scribbling notes.

The Future of Writing Panel: Peter Giglio, Jason V Brock, Alexandra Sokoloff, William F. Nolan

After the closing ceremonies I joined up with some cool people, ate lunch, walked around and imbibed a lot--including a stop at Pat O'Brien's for a Hurricane. Also, absinthe.

At The Olde Absinthe House, the bartender prepares our drinks

My glass of Mata Hari absinthe. Very tasty. The anise was subtle.

Sunday night also involved a snack at Daisy Duke's and a lot of packing. Monday morning I caught a shuttle to the airport and had an uneventful trip home.

Can't wait for next year in Portland, OR!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Dear Self, Reading Is Not Writing

Over the past couple of weeks I've read a lot of excellent short stories and novellas. I've been overdosing on stories by Connie Willis, Ray Bradbury, and those in an anthology of Nebula winners from 1977--in particular "The Screwfly Solution" by Raccoona Sheldon aka James Tiptree, Jr. aka Alice Bradley Sheldon, and Harlan Ellison's "Jeffty Is Five."

Sometimes when I'm reading non-stop like this, I have trouble resuming my own writing. Everything I want to say feels flat, my ideas unoriginal. On the one hand, I read these powerful works and they inspire me to push my writing further. On the other, it seems like it'd take such a monumental effort to attain the level of skill they exhibit. I don't even know where to start.

So I remind myself: the big picture will drive you crazy. Break goals down into manageable steps. Learn everything you can and be flexible. Make the best art you can. Don't forget to play.

And get back to work.