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Nebula Wrap-Up, part 1

I'm finally getting around to posting about the Nebula Award weekend in Pittsburgh May 18-21. I roomed with a member of my writer's group, Sally, and I enjoyed getting to know her better. We also met up with two other writer's group members, Lawrence and Barb.

Me, Lawrence, and Sally.

I attended sessions on a variety of topics, including selling middle-grade novels, creating and depicting invented cultures, writing about a culture without being a part of it, and using fairy tales in fiction. I was part of a group that was treated to a wonderful tour of  Allegheny Observatory, including visits to parts of the observatory that are not on the usual public tour. We even got to look through the large telescope at Jupiter. Unfortunately, my observatory photos are on my other computer, so I'll have to post them in a later entry. As an active member, I attended the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) business meeting, which was wonderfully drama- and dissent-free. And I spent a lot of time just talking to all the fascinating writers, editors, and others who were there for the conference at the Pittsburgh City Center Marriott that weekend.

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One of the telescopes at Allegheny Observatory.

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At the start of the tour, we heard that we were going to see where the bodies were buried. I thought that was a joke. It wasn't. Deep beneath the observatory, Gay and Joe Haldeman pose with an actual grave marker. I guess some people just never wanted to leave the place.

Every morning began with an optional walk of a mile or two around the area, which was a great way to get away from the hotel for a least a short while each day, to get some exercise, and to see a little of the city. I walked around a bit on my own as well, when I had some free time. I saw the gorgeously ornate lobby (below) of the William Penn Hotel (which was the site of the 1960 WorldCon), the Incline, and the farmer's market and restaurants at Market Square.

Another interesting feature of this year's awards weekend was the Expert Room. Various attendees listed their areas of expertise and volunteered to hold "Office Hours," during which anyone could sign up for a 15-minute slot to ask questions, discuss an issue, or pick their brains about their specialties. For instance, Lawrence offered to talk to people about hypnotherapy. Some of the experts could answer questions about science or technology for writers who were working on science fiction but lacked technical expertise. Others talked about world building, biology, engineering, writer's groups, or even cats.

I personally signed up for 15 minutes with a writer who offered to help fill plot holes. As it turned out, she was a fan of Stargate SG1, so she already had the background in my series, and together we were able to come up with some possibilities for resolving issues in my still-tentative novel plot. I also volunteered for a shift staffing the Expert Room, which meant I sat at a table near the door, explained to people how it worked, and pointed out which tables the various experts where sitting.

My other official volunteer gig was in the Book Depot, the room in which we were selling books. As usual, I helped out where needed in other places, as well, setting out food in the Hospitality Suite, and helping to dismantle book bags on the last day of the conference.

Stay tuned for another post soon, with more pictures and with details on the awards banquet itself.

In the meantime, here are some photos from around Pittsburgh.