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Worldcon schedule

I received my final schedule for Midamericon II. No reading or kaffeeklatsch, but some cool-looking panels and a SFWA signing. 

Thursday Aug 18, 2016, 12:00PM
Extreme, but Workable Societies 1 hour | 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2208
Steven H Silver | Chris Phillips (Flash Fiction Online) | Ms Kristine Smith | Mr. Jared Shurin | Nina Niskanen

2:00PM
Genre Shows You Should Be Watching But Probably Aren’t 1 hour | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2207 , Priscilla Olson | Max Gladstone | Ginjer Buchanan | Don Sakers | Ms Kristine Smith

Saturday Aug 20, 2016, 5:00PM
Science Fiction That Inspired Scientists 1 hour | 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 2206
Ms Kristine Smith | Dr. Ronald Taylor | Dr Dominick D’Aunno | Dr Helen Pennington | Mel. White

Sunday Aug 21, 2016, 10:00AM
SFWA Autographing: Kristine Smith 50 minutes | 10:00 AM -10:50 AM, Kansas City Convention Center, SFWA Table

3:00PM
A.K.A Why a Pen Name? 1 hour | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Kansas City Convention Center, 3501H
Toni L. P. Kelner | Ms Kristine Smith | Teddy Harvia

Also, BookView Café will have a Creators Table in the Dealers Room on Saturday. Stop by and pick up a ribbon for your badge (while supplies last) and learn about some great books (we will always have those).

Less than two weeks to go….

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The Littlest Basil

I like basil. I don’t love it–I don’t find it as versatile as thyme or tarragon, frex. But I enjoy the scent of it on my hands, and it’s wonderful when tossed with olive oil and warm tortellini. I haven’t grown it these last few years, though, because the plants always seem to bolt on me. Lotsa flowers, which are edible if a little bitter. Fewer leaves.

When I was in Madison for Wiscon, I visited the Saturday morning Farmers Market with Jen Stevenson, and wound up buying a small flat of mixed basils, opal and a curly green variety I’d never seen before. At the time, I didn’t know why I was bothering even as I forked over the cash. I think part of me just likes growing things I can cook with. Anyway, two months on, the plants are going great guns, thick with fragrant leaves and not a flower to be seen:

Curly and opal basil

 

For whatever reason, I examined the plants again this morning. Picked a few browned leaves, then looked behind one of the big opals, and found this little guy:

 

Little Basil

 

The curly green plants are shorter than the opals, but this plant is definitely lagging behind. Little Basil. I turned the pot around to allow him to get more sun. I don’t think he can catch up to the other plants, but who knows?

Hello, my name is Kristine, and I feel sorry for plants.

(I also just went outside and rubbed my hands over the basil leaves and oh man do they smell good. A sharp cinnamon edge.)

As for the container Black Cherry, nothing is even close to edible. 9-10 bunches of greenies at various stages, and a number of flowers. I picked a ripe loner last week, and that’s going to have to do for a while. Could be well into August before anything is ready to eat.

Black Cherry greenies

 

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So long, Thrillerfest–

–until next year, maybe. I don’t have all my 2017 cons sorted out yet, and I do not want to travel as much next year as I did/will this year. But I had a good time and I love NYC, so I don’t know….

Last week at this time, I was home, unpacking and making a list of needed groceries. It felt good to be back in my space, with everything I needed to get through the day close at hand, but it was good to get away. I love staying at The Jane. It’s located on Jane Street–duh–in a residential area of the West Village. You leave the hotel and run into folks walking their dogs or pushing strollers. No Midtown-Times Square crowds and craziness. It’s a neighborhood:

IMG_0457West Village/Chelsea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plenty of shops, bars, and restaurants once you head out to Washington Street, 8th Avenue. And it is on 11th Avenue, which can get busy. But if you cross that, you’re in the Hudson River Greenway. Then there’s the river, and the view (this from one of the terraces at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is a few minutes’ walk away:

view of Hudson River & NJ from the Whitney

I like it.

 

 

 

 

I also like Gitane’s, the restaurant off the hotel lobby. Sazeracs are on the menu, and they have an alligator:

A really good sazeracGitane"s alligator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did not manage to do all the things I wanted to do. Only managed two museums, the Whitney and the 1st floor of the Met–it was too hot and humid to wander, and I didn’t want to wear myself out before the convention. I never made it to the Campbell Apartments for a sazerac, but since I was able to get a good one at the Jane, I wasn’t too disappointed. I did snag a ticket for a fireworks river cruise on the 4th. I took too many videos, and some of the lighting isn’t the best. I also can’t upload any of them because there’s an 8MB limit for video files, so, imagine fireworks. Shopping was confined to a couple of quick runs through the Chelsea Market, and the Met gift shop. Oh, and the FBI gift shop, where I got the best t-shirt ever:

ZTF shirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The FBI workshop was great–very informative, with presentations about past cases and Q&A sessions. Thrillerfest was fun. I missed some of the events since I didn’t stay at the con hotel, but my panel went well–I wore my ZTF t-shirt:

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest

photo courtesy of Thrillerfest

 

Heather Graham moderated. From right to left: Me, Kelley Armstrong, Christine Feehan, Mell Corcoran, and Alexandra Ivy. We talked about what scares us, what books or movies inspired us, and whether we had ever had any paranormal experiences. I pushed The Dark Descent, a collection of horror stories that imo every horror fan should have in their library. Also mentioned my love of Constantine the movie. Sorry, purists–I know how you feel, but I don’t have anything invested in the comic, so.

 

 

After my panel, which was on Friday morning, I attended panels, and signed some books. Met some great folks–shout outs to Mell Corcoran, Veronica Forand, and Kate Kessler! Made quick passes through parties.

In closing, the 81st Street/Museum of Natural History subway stop is the best:

81st St. subway squawki was herethe bats are big down here

 

 

 

 

Hummer

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Doldrums

Two and a half weeks until Thrillerfest, which means not really the doldrums. More like, I should be thinking about what to pack but I can’t face it yet. I have a lot to work to do between now and then, so instead I’m dicking around online in search of bars in NYC that make sazeracs. Taking recs for food trucks and restaurants.

I get a year older during the visit. Born on the 4th, me. Looking forward to an NYC fireworks display. Also, walking the High Line, the Hudson Riverwalk. Puttering. I love New York. I really do.

And then there’s the con itself. I have a cool panel on Friday morning at 1020am:

WEREWOLVES, VAMPIRES OR WITCHES? Thrillers On The Wild Side
Panel Master: Heather Graham
Kelley Armstrong
Mell Corcoran
Christine Feehan
Alex Gordon
Donna Grant
Alexandra Ivy

Then I get to go to panels, sign some books, talk to folks, fangirl, etc etc. Hoping for decent weather.

Reading–I am ashamed to admit that I don’t read as much as I used to. I mean, I read a lot online–news and political blogs. Science articles. But as for fiction…I must have well over 200 books in my electronic TBR stack (we won’t even talk about the jammed bookcases). I finished Robin McKinley’s SUNSHINE a few weeks ago, and loved it. Wanted to start something else, but I have research to do and that means nonfiction. That current book is THE EPIGENETICS REVOLUTION by Nessa Carey, and I should be way further along than I am.

I feel…guilty. Writers should read. It’s a major tool in the kit. It’s the primary way to learn what’s out there.

Also, it’s fun.

I have some beta-reads on tap, so I can rebuild the reading muscles that way. Then there are some golden oldies: MR James, Terry Pratchett, Preston & Child. Honestly, if someone stranded me on a desert island with my iPad and a solar charger, I’d be fine for at least a year. Two, possibly.

Oh well, back to something resembling work.

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Award-eligible works

Since it’s Shoot the Moon Sunday–new holiday I just made up–I will mention that GIDEON by Alex Gordon is eligible for consideration for the 2016 World Fantasy Award ballot.

This is the first time I have ever mentioned that a work of mine was eligible for consideration. It likely won’t be the last, either, so.

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Home

Two trips in one week is a little much. Not that Park City wasn’t interesting, and Wiscon is always good.

But it will be good to stay put for a while.

Panels went well. Learned some things during Bowie’s Influence on SF, because that’s what happens when you stop following an artist for a stretch of time (I didn’t listen to much Bowie in the late 80s/90s). I also learned some stuff during the Writing Tools panel, which was moderated by K. Tempest Bradford. Smartpens with both audio and sensory (ability to ‘record’ handwriting strokes) capabilities–I knew vaguely that they existed, but didn’t realize how far the tech had come. That said, the love of fountain pens remains strong across age groups, and they’re not all expensive Mont Blancs and Watermans. Disposables are available. Antique stores are a good source. There is also a brand called Platinum Preppy which makes pens priced at $4-$5.

Tempest recorded the panel for a future podcast. I will link to it when it becomes available.

One of the best parts of Wiscon is Madison itself. The weather cooperated–there was a little rain, but not enough to impede restaurant crawls or interfere with the Farmers Market. I decided to brave container gardening this year, and bought a black cherry tomato plant and some mixed basils. Also bread, cheeses, spring spinach, and something called wasabi arugula which is DAMN. Bitey. Very bitey. Had some for dinner with goat cheese, pine nuts, and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Good stuff.

A few photos. The view from my hotel room window:

Hotel room view

 

 

 

 

 

 

The double rainbow following a Sunday afternoon storm:

Double rainbow

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset over Lake Mendota:

Sunset over the lake

 

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My Wiscon schedule

Convention website here.

Genre Blending (scheduled) participant Fri, 9:00–10:15 pm University B
Moderator: Rebecca Holden. Email fellow participants Rebecca Holden, Alex Jennings, Justine Larbalestier, Loren Rhoads, Kristine Smith, Brooke Wonders 

Whether it’s a steampunk fairytale or an end of the world love story between science and magic or a Hong Kong-style revenge space opera, stories are spilling over the edges of genre. When is it done well? What is left to explore?
David Bowie’s Influence On Science Fiction (scheduled) participant Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm University C
Moderator: Gwynne Garfinkle. Email fellow participants Gwynne Garfinkle, Kristine Smith, Scott Westerfeld 

In her obituary on io9.com for trailblazing musician David Bowie, Charlie Jane Anders writes that Bowie “had an incalculable impact on pop culture throughout his shape-shifting career. But perhaps more than any other musician, he also had a tremendous impact on science fiction. He changed the way we thought about the alien, the uncanny, and the familiar.” This panel will explore the way Bowie’s music, films, and shifting persona shaped and inspired speculative writing and pop culture.
Analog and Digital Writing Tools (scheduled) participant Sun, 8:30–9:45 am Conference 1
Moderator: K. Tempest Bradford. Email fellow participants K. Tempest Bradford, Dylan Moonfire, Kristine Smith 

Writers, bring your favorite writing tools—laptop, tablet, quill, or steam-fueled ideatron—and share the pros and cons of your favored method of writing with others! We’ll talk software, hardware, analogware, old-fashioned methods as well as new. If you’re willing to share your beloved your writing gear, others may be eager to give them a try.
The SignOut (scheduled) participant Mon, 11:30 am–12:45 pm Capitol/Wisconsin
Come and sign your works, come and get things signed, come and hang out and wind down before you leave.

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A Cover Reveal!

The new Contact Imminent cover, designed by Dave Smeds:

Contact Imminent cover for Nook

 

Like the old cover, it’s a tad more optimistic in mood. In the old cover, Jani is standing before a ship’s porthole looking out at the stars. In this image, she’s looking out over a world, over arriving ships. Like a guardian.

The ebook goes on sale May 27th. There will be a POD edition, available in early June.

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Safari issues

Just a short update to say that since the last WordPress update, the website is not presenting properly in Safari–the newsletter signup box and some of the social media links are missing. All is well in Chrome, Firefox, and iOS 9. whatever, so if you came here to sign up for the newsletter, one of those browsers will work.

Or, you can email me at krisATkristine-smith.com, and I can add you.

We’re trying to fix it. If we can’t, we’ll have to change to a new theme.

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A jam day

Blueberry Earl Grey, to be exact.

the finished product
the finished product

 

Used this recipe. Wondered why I couldn’t use fresh-squeezed lemon juice, so googled. The issue is apparently the need for sufficient acidification. But according to this article, lemons that one finds in a typical US grocery store are sufficiently acidic for use in all canning EXCEPT FOR MEYER LEMONS, WHICH ARE NOT. So, I guess I could have used fresh lemon juice. Since I wasn’t planning on giving any of the jam away, I would be the only person at risk of nastiness. Given that jam doesn’t last long around me, it probably doesn’t matter what I use.

Mistakes were made. I have never used pectin as a setting agent in jam before, so I simply noted Sure-Jell on my grocery list. Went to the store yesterday, and found that there were three different types: regular, less-or-no sugar added recipes, and All Natural. Of course, I picked the All Natural, which proved to be the wrong type; I should’ve bought the less/no sugar added. But I had already put the berries on the stove to cook, so I figured Hell with it and went ahead.

Oh, I also found that I had bought decaf Earl Grey instead of regular.

BE THAT AS IT MAY, I made the jam. I jarred the jam. See above photo. It’s in the fridge now, still slightly warm. However, it does appear to be setting. It may remain a little runnier than desirable–I’ll know more in 12-24 hours–but I shall endeavor to cope. It does taste good–nice berriness with strong hints of Earl Greyness. I think it’s a keeper recipe. I usually eat jam on toast, but I bet this stuff would rock on pancakes.

In other news, still dealing with tailing ends of Cold From Hell + Las Vegas Relapse. Got a tentative schedule for Wiscon, which looks like it will be fun–will post when it’s finalized. Wishing the weather here in far NE Illinois would warm up.

Oh, and the other day, this happened over on the Twitter:

yikes!
yikes!

 

So yesterday, I mailed off a book.

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