Where We’ll Be This Weekend

This weekend, Jim Macdonald and I are going to be at Albacon, in (surprise, surprise) Albany, New York.  This will be the first convention we’ve fully attended since Arisia, back in January — Readercon was a bar-and-lobby con for us this summer, for one reason and another, so we didn’t get the full experience with that one.

Albacon isn’t one of your big crowded conventions that sells out its hotel room block within 24 hours of reservations opening up, and then goes on to fill an overflow hotel or two.  It’s a pleasantly-sized regional con that won’t overwhelm a newcomer.  So if you’re in the area, why not swing on by?  Jim and I will be wearing name badges (and so will everyone else) — if you greet us, we’ll say hi.

(Well, I’ll probably squint at your name badge and try to remember exactly where I know you from, because I suck at remembering names and faces.  Just say, “I read your blog,” and that’ll be introduction enough.)

Where I’ll Be Tomorrow

Jim Macdonald is on the road again:

Madhouse Manor

I’ll be at the Granite State Magicians’ benefit performance for the Merrimack (NH) CrimeLine.

Come out on Saturday, April 14th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to support the Merrimack Police K9 Program. Meet Dallas, Merrimack’s new K-9 officer and watch a demonstration at noon!

The Magic Show will be held at the American Legion Post 98 on Baboosic Lake Road.

$5 per person / $2.50 under 12 / $15 family max

Enter to win one of the many raffle prizes!

Hot Dogs, popcorn and soda for sale during the day!

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What’s Happening This Weekend, Dr. Doyle?

Winter-Faire-2018-Poster-and-Postcard

What’s happening this weekend on March 3 is that my spouse and co-author, Jim Macdonald, is going to be doing his stage magic at the Vermont Winter Faire in Essex Junction, Vermont.  This is an indoor faire, being held at the Champlain Valley Exposition event center.

Once again, he’ll be doing walkaround magic all day; this time, he’ll also be doing a stage performance at 2:30 PM.

If you’re in the area, come by and give him (and all the other vendors and performers) a look!

A Not Entirely Disinterested Public Service Announcement

Fantasy writer Jo Walton is running a Kickstarter for Scintillation, a small convention to be held – provided the Kickstarter succeeds — in 2018 in Montreal.

Jo (who deservedly often has Homeric epithets like “acclaimed” and “award-winning” affixed to her name) ran the Farthingparty convention in Montreal from 2006 to 2014, before time-management issues and the stress of worrying every year whether or not the convention would draw enough members to break even brought the run to an end.  She’s coming back now with the new Kickstarter model, which she explains in detail on the project page.

I really really want this Kickstarter to succeed.  (Yes, I’ve already thrown in my mite, and will throw more as more becomes available.)  Farthingparty was the closest convention to where we live,† and I think we made every single one of them, even the one which we had to do as a Saturday day trip because we were moving one of our offspring into their dorm in Boston on Sunday.  I’ve missed it ever year since it ended, and having a new convention we could attend in Montreal would be a wonderful thing.


Yes.  We live that far north in New Hampshire.

Food and Drink in the North Country

Things you can have if you travel up this way.  Possibly #1 in an ongoing series, depending upon how much I get out of this house before winter comes back around.  (The Starks of Winterfell could have a summer home up here, I suspect, and nobody would even notice because they’d fit right in.  “Winter is coming.”  “Ayup.  Got your wood in yet?”)

Anyhow.  Here’s a photo of that pHtea Jim Macdonald blogged about in his post about the Vermont RennFaire:

PhTea

That’s white tea, chamomile tea, and yerba mate in the photo; the black tea had already been consumed by me the night before.

And here is breakfast at the North Country Family Restaurant in Groveton, New Hampshire, where they make their own corned beef hash.  (As does any diner in northern New England with a shred of self-respect.)

Hash and Eggs at the NorthCountry Restaurant

That’s two eggs sunny-side up over corned beef hash, with homemade toast and a side of hash browns.  (Well, up here they call them hash browns.  As a transplanted Texan, I feel obliged to point out that they are actually country fries, because proper hash browns are shredded, not cubed.  Nomenclature aside, though, they’re done well, and come with or without onions at the diner’s preference.)

The other breakfast, in the background, is a fried egg sandwich made with French toast.  I have it on good authority that it tastes just fine.

Albacon, Upcoming

Himself and I will be at Albacon in Albany NY this weekend — it’s at the western edge of our traveling periphery, and it’s a small, low-key convention that we’ve always enjoyed whenever we’ve been able to make it. All too often, it used to coincide with the Viable Paradise workshop, but now it’s moved back to the spring — which is tougher on our pocketbook but easier on our schedule.

Right now — such are the joys of the freelance life — it’s still up in the air as to whether we’ll be doing the con in shoestring mode or have a bit of leeway for nonessentials. (At least the con hotel’s complimentary full American breakfast takes care of two meals for the weekend, which helps to stretch out the shoestring.)

But if you’re in Albany NY this weekend in a congoing mood, you could always drop by and listen to Himself do his presentation on “100 Years of Dead Magicians” on Saturday night.

I Think It’s a Rule

If you’re driving into Boston from out of town, you have to get lost at least once on Massachusetts Avenue.

Normally, our GPS navigator saves us from this, but the rules caught up with us this trip, because the navigator went toes-up on us shortly before departure.  Fortunately, we were able to access Google Maps via my phone — not by using the phone’s web feature, because it doesn’t really have one, but by calling our younger son back in Colebrook and having him find the necessary directions and relay them to us.

After that mini-adventure, we made it safely to the Westin hotel, and our first programming item is a signing at 2 PM in the Galleria.  We’re signing alongside Ken MacLeod and Charlie Stross, so if you’ve got a book (or a short story in an anthology, or a bookplate, or whatever), feel free to bring it in and we’ll happily sign it for you.

And if you’re one of the people who mostly own our stuff in electronic format . . . if you can figure out how to get us to sign that, we’ll happily do that as well.

(Surely somebody, somewhere, has invented an app for getting author signatures on e-books.  Heaven knows, they’ve got apps for everything else.)

The Unified Doyle & Macdonald Boskone Schedule

Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
Autographing
Saturday 14:00 – 15:00, Galleria

(We’ll be autographing alongside Ken MacLeod and Charles Stross, a couple of overseas guests from the UK, so if you’ve got anything by us you’d like to have signed, feel free to bring it in so we won’t let New Hampshire down.)

Debra Doyle
Design Your Own Mythology:
Saturday 15:00 – 16:00, Harbor III

What goes into mythmaking? Panelists share their experiences in creating mythologies and pantheons — offering up dos and don’ts, tips on resources, and things to think about as you try creating a coherent mythology of your own.

James D. Macdonald
From Rapiers to Ray Guns
Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, Marina 1

From epic fantasy to space war, speculative fiction is rife with useful tools and weapons that can be used in battle. How much does a writer or reader really need to know about these weapons for fictional frays to feel real? What weapons work best for close-quarters or downrange combat in specific settings?

Debra Doyle
A Muddle of Mad Scientists
Saturday 20:00 – 21:00, Burroughs

From Dr. Frankenstein to Dr. Faustus, Mrs. Coulter to Dr. Horrible, genre fiction is filled with a long list of the crazily creative geniuses known as mad scientists. Why do we love them? What makes the mad scientist character so appealing in horror, comedy, and everything in between? Join us for a mad, mad discussion featuring some of our favorite screwy scientists/inventors from the past, present, and future.

James D. Macdonald
Abracadabra! Making Magic Real
Sunday 12:00 – 13:00, Marina 1

In writing fantasies — from epic to urban– how do you keep your story’s magic feeling fresh and new? It’s a challenge. Rules and boundaries can help, but how do you make the “science” of the supernatural seem, well, natural? Panelists discuss the perils and potentials of using magic in fiction.

Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
Reading Sunday 13:00 – 13:30, Griffin

It’s January, Which Means Arisia Is on the Horizon

Doyle’s Arisia Sked

What Lies Beneath: Adding Subtext to Your Story Alcott Fri 8:30 PM

    In real life and in storytelling, what -isn’t- being said is often more gripping than the actual dialogue between your characters. How can you use subtext to develop your characters and boost suspense? What dialogue tricks, body language, and setting communicate there’s a story which isn’t being told? Our panelists will teach you how to make your characters lie, dodge, and evade the thing they don’t want to face, all while foreshadowing the existence of inner demons.

Reading: Doyle, Ronald, Macdonald Hale Sat 10:00 AM

Expecto Patronum: Animal Symbolism in SFF Marina 1 Sat 5:30 PM

Symbolic and magical connections to animals are a standard trope in fantasy. But they are also prevalent in science fiction. From Black Panther to the Mockingjay, characters’ connections to particular animals can say a lot about them, especially in the context of the culture that produced them. What do animals mean in SFF, and how have they changed as we learn more about biodiversity and the changing natural world?

The 100 Year Old Barbed Wire: The Great War & SF Marina 2 Sun 1:00 PM

We are in the midst of the centenary of World War I. The US was not hit badly by it compared to Europe, and in 2017 the centenary of US involvement (6 April 1917) is coming up. How did the war and its aftermath change society and our idea of the future. Could “Brave New World” or “Things to Come” or other early classics of speculative fiction been written without the war’s impact? Why do so many alternate histories use earlier or later events as a changing point rather than this one?

Macdonald’s Arisia Sked:

Reading: Doyle, Ronald, Macdonald     Hale     Writing     Sat 10:00 AM   

Just the Facts: Vaccines     Alcott         Sat 8:30 PM

Why do we need a flu shot every year? Why do more people have to get vaccinated when the vaccine is less effective? What kind of harm _can_ they cause? And why is the U.S. having measles outbreaks again when Pakistan and India are eliminating polio? Come hear the science, the anti-science, and the ongoing discussions of immunology and epidemiology.
       
Pew-Pew-Pew! How to Write a Sci-Fantasy Gunfight     Hale         Sun 1:00 PM

Whether you write steampunk, gritty urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction or futuristic sci-fi, chances are you’ll need to write a gunfight. What kind of firearm (gun, pulse cannon or ray-gun) should your characters use? How should they secure and store their weapon? What are their weapon’s limitations? What materials will provide cover when the enemy fires at them? Don’t let your gunfights be like the Stormtroopers who always miss!!!

Going Viral: How Pathogens Spread     Faneuil     Sun 8:30 PM

Zombies don’t really work, but viruses do. This is a look at fast versus slow pathogens and how they can spread. Maybe it’s time to buy that house in Madagascar?

Where We’ll be Tomorrow

Jim Macdonald and I will be on a road trip down to Peterborough, NH, where we’ll be part of the group book-signing for the Conspiracy! anthology at the Toadstool Bookshop.

Our audiobook for the drive down and back is The Count of Monte Cristo.  Nineteenth-century doorstop novels make great road books, especially if you stick to the blood-and-thunder end of the spectrum.  We’ve already gone through Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and The Woman in White, both of which I can heartily recommend – among other things, Collins has a lot fewer female characters whom I want to slap silly than, say, Dickens does.  I don’t think we’ll be trying anything by Hardy, or by Henry James, though; the blind malice of the universe and the delicate delineation of interior states aren’t exactly the best antidotes for highway hypnosis.

(Or maybe for some people they are.  Everybody’s reaction to a work of literature is different, and is their own.)

Next up, after we’re done with Edmond Dantès and the gang, will be a handful of Welcome to Night Vale podcasts.  After that . . . who knows?  Maybe The Three Musketeers.