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Unusual times, remarkable places

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia

23 April 2008

Taking a bite of Orange (County)

On Saturday, 5 April, I attended the Literary Orange conference in Garden Grove, California. The conference was put together by librarians, and boy, could you tell it! It went off without a hitch. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks were fresh, bountiful, and on time. It was the first such event I’ve attended at which the coffee didn’t run out early. The book sales and signings were well organized. The printed program was logically laid out and easy to use. Everyone received a commemorative coffee mug, sturdy canvas bookbag, and bookmark. The graphics on the program materials—done by students on quality stock—was excellent. Hurrah for librarians! I could use one in charge of my life.

Forget the food and paper quality, you’re probably thinking. What about the conference? Well, I could have done a better job investigating it beforehand. I went expecting a workshop for writers, where in the science fiction panels I would learn about worldbuilding and how to get ideas for stories from current science. Instead, it was a venue for librarians, fans, and writers to hear writers talk about their work and their lives, get books signed, and meet other book lovers.

For what it was, it was a lot of fun. Elizabeth George and Janet Fitch each spoke about their lives as writers to the whole group. Despite my knowing almost no one in Southern California, I bumped into several of the few people I do know, and we sat together for these talks and lunch.

In-between these talks were panel discussions. I attended the two science fiction panels. Thus, I was lucky enough to hear David Brin and Vernor Vinge discuss Dr. Vinge’s concept of the Singularity and how every science fiction novel now has to either assume the Singularity has occurred or explain why it has not, as well as Gregory Benford and Larry Niven talking about the space elevator, among many other fascinating topics (about which I would go into more detail if I had not displaced my notebook—I wasn’t kidding about needing a personal librarian).

These four guys have won a lot of Nebulas and Hugos, and I was in awe to be sitting only a few feet from such giants of science fiction. They were all quite gracious during the booksignings. I talked to each for a few minutes, so I can now brag I’ve met them all.

I finished the day at a panel that included screenwriter Stephen Cannell, whose hand you’ve seen ripping a page from his typewriter and flinging it away hundreds of times.

Will I go to Literary Orange again? Maybe, if I'm flush with funds or my favorite writers are there . . . . or, dream of dreams, I'm invited to be a panelist.

For a different take on Literary Orange from science fiction writer and editor Jude-Marie “Kelly” Green, visit her blog.

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Just a reminder that my Mitzvah Madness: Pay It Forward contest is still going on. You have until April 30 to enter and possibly win free books. Rules are in last week’s post.

For those who’d like to enter but need an idea for a good deed to do, here are five.
1. This one is fast, easy, and costs you nothing. Each day you “click here to give” at the following sites, sponsors contribute money to a good cause. (Note added 28 April 2008: Please see Lana Gramlich's comment and the Website she recommends.) 
2. Prevent unwanted pets. Spay or neuter your dog or cat.

3. Help rebuild New Orleans’ homes, culture, and environment by donating time or money to one of these organizations:
4. Pick up litter on your street.

5. My niece Amber will be walking 60 miles in August to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure and National Philanthropic Trust. If you would like to be one of her sponsors and help fund breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment, her site is at http://08.the3day.org/goto/amroberts. Donations are tax deductible.

Check out the Daily Mitzvah blog for more ideas.


Oh, and once you've chosen your good deed, please don't forget to come back and enter my contest!

14 comments:

Michele said...

I've heard wonderful things about Literary Orange...It sounds like your experience lived up to that! That's fantastic.

How nice that you bumped into several people you already knew! And isn't Stephen Cannell a kick? I really enjoyed hearing him speak at OCC a while back. What an inspiration. :-)

Thanks for the great post.

Rae Ann Parker said...

Ditto your comments about librarians. I learn so much from the school librarians at my son's school in the few hours a month I spend there.

It sounds like you had a great time at the conference. I know I always go to a writers' conference hoping to improve my craft, but sometimes networking and inspiration are even better.

Bernita said...

Shauna, thank you so much for your good wishes.
It was a very anxious time.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have really enjoyed Brin's work in particular over the years.

And let's hear it for the Librarians. Can we get one to run for president?

Julie said...

Shauna, thanks for your comment.

I've been in the process of moving over to WordPress, which has a number of features that make blogging more manageable for me - not least posting in categories.
(Plus having a break in the Lakes).

I have enjoyed being on blogger over the last six months. I'd love to keep some contact with everyone, and am going to keep a linking blog here for the time being if I can make it work.

Shauna Roberts said...

MICHELE, yes, Stephen Cannell was really fun, and because I know little about Hollywood, that panel was very interesting. Most interesting, though, were the questions afterwards. Several people asked about his severe learning disabilities and how he dealt with them. He overcame great odds to become a writer.

RAE ANN, getting to talk more with some of the people I knew was one of the most useful parts of the conference for me.

BERNITA, you're certainly welcome. I would have been terrified in your shoes, and I hope you take some time to fuss over yourself as well as your husband.

CHARLES, a librarian for president would be a good idea. For one thing, they'd read up on the culture and history of a country before invading it and imposing an alien form of government.

JULIE, I've found your new sites. What I didn't find was some way for follow-up comments to be emailed to me. Is that not possible in WordPress?

Julie said...

Shauna - just called in to say that I've made a number of last minute changes as the idea of a keeping up a blog here as well looks less likely.

Delete the Nexus address - I've created virtualvoyage1.wordpress.com
as a link to blogger traffic.

As to the email track back - I'm not sure on that. WP is good but it's complex - I should have thought there'd be a provision for this. It does have effective internal links back to comments.
I'll keep my eyes open and let you know.

Sphinx Ink said...

Wow, Shauna, I'm impressed--you met some heavy hitters: Elizabeth George, David Brin, Vernor Vinge, Gregory Benford, Larry Niven, Stephen Cannell...even if the conference wasn't quite you were hoping for, it's a privilege to have heard these people speak (and get their autographs).

One thing great about your move to California is that there are a lot more cool writers' conferences there than in Louisiana.

Carleen Brice said...

Which day are you going to BEA? I'll be signing at BEA at 5:30 on the 29th (pretty much going straight from the airport to the convention center). I don't have any plans of Friday, so I could go back and meet you then if you were going to be around.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the conference--it sounds like it was really cool!
Kind of you to share the "helping" links, too, although the first 3 would be far better served if the clickers would just send in a check for $5. Here's an interesting page about The Hunger Site, although things may have changed since then...

Shauna Roberts said...

SPHINX INK, yes, I'm finding there's a lot more opportunities for writers out here to go to workshops and conferences.

I didn't say anything about the Steve Cannell session. The most interesting part was the Q&A afterwards. Several people asked questions about his severe dyslexia and how he worked around it to write so many books and scripts. For me, that was the most inspirational part of the conference, to hear what great obstacles he had to overcome and how he did it.

Carleen, I'll let you know after I hear from my agent.

LANA, thanks for the fascinating link. I had included those "click to donate" site because they were such an easy way to do something. I had not realized that the Hunger Site was yet another example of commercialism and incompetence in foreign aid. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Billy said...

Librarians will whip you into shape faster than anyone LOL. I tread lightly around them -:)

Shauna Roberts said...

Good idea, BILLY. You don't want to get on the bad side of someone who holds the key to all the knowledge in the world in her hands.

Farrah Rochon said...

I'm just catching up on your blog (not having the time to surf at the day job has taken a huge chunk out of my blog surfing time). Sounds like you had a great time at the festival. What great "Pay it Forward" opportunities!