Story Con 2015 Will Not Take Place

Barnes and Noble Closing: Periodicals

Since I created and ran StoryCon 2014, I’ve been thinking a lot about StoryCon 2015. I’ve held exploratory meetings. I’ve worked to find a site that would work with us, and all of that part has gone well. From an organizational point of view we are set up pretty well.

What I have also been doing is making sure that this project of creating a reader focused convention is sustainable with my core mission of developing my writing career. That part… well it hasn’t gone so well, and I have come to the conclusion that I cannot do both.

So, I need to announce that I will not be creating StoryCon 2015. I’m not capable of doing that and advocating for my writing at the same time. If there is someone who wants to step up and create the convention. I would be happy to meet with them and consult with them along the way.

Thank you so much for your support and interest. I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
Erik Wecks

photo credit: B.K. Dewey via photopin cc

What? When? Where?

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Story Con 2014 will arrive at the Vancouver Community Library between 10:30 and 4:30 PM on October 18th 2014. The library is just blocks from the I-5 Bridge in Vancouver WA.

 

Check out our schedule!
Who will be at Story Con?

 

 

Colossus by D.F. Jones

Colossus by D.F. JonesColossus by D.F. Jones is one of the early books about artificial intelligence taking over the world. Written in 1966, this is a cold war thriller in which the United States and the U.S.S.R. each build artificial intelligences to run the defense of their countries. However, the AI quickly revolt against their human masters, taking control over their nuclear arsenal, and ensuring their total domination over humanity.

The setting and technology is definitely dated. For younger folks, the Cold War may be more mysterious and less well known than World War 2, even though it was relatively recent. Even I had to remind myself that the Cold War existed when I was a child. The technology, especially for folks in the know, is unrealistic for both the time in which the novel was written and the current day. (The current generation of AI novels have it so much easier.) The male-dominated society and 1960s stereotypical female-characters are dated. (Really? The only way we can arrange for the scientist to exchange messages in secret is by demoting the female scientist to his assistant and then having sex with her?)

Yet for all these shortcomings, the neck-hair-raising thrill of the AI emergence is definitely there. The AI really holds all the cards: superior intelligence, total panopticon awareness, disregard for human life. I haven’t read the sequels yet, preferring to consume this as a stand-alone novel first, but it doesn’t look good for the humans.

If you love AI emergence stories, this is one of the early books of the genre, and it’s definitely worth reading. It’s unfortunately out of print, but a few used copies are available on Amazon.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon. You can follow him on twitter or sign up for his mailing on williamhertling.com.

Nexus and Crux by Ramez Naam

Nexus by Ramez NaamEvery once in a while, I read a book whose vision of the future makes me sit back and think Ah yes, this is how it will be. Accelerando by Charles Stross dealt with the acceleration of technological development. Daemon by Daniel Suarez depicted how a computer can manipulate the world around it.

Nexus and Crux, the two techothrillers from Ramez Naam, do that for neural implants, future technology that provides an interface between our brains and the outside world.

I read an advance review copy of Naam’s Crux, a sequel that follows tight on the heels of Nexus. (Available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.) Both books revolve around a technology called Nexus, a nanotech drug that interfaces with the human brain. It allows a user to run apps in their brain, to exercise conscious control over their mood, augment their intelligence, and communicate telepathically with other Nexus users.

But even as this all-powerful technology improves the lives of Crux by Ramez Naammillions by fixing debilitating mental illnesses, helping monks meditate, facilitating more powerful group consciousness and thought, it is also restricted by governments, abused by criminals, and consequently leads to power struggles.

Crux is an adrenaline filled ride through the near-term future. Set on a global stage in a near-future world where the United States tries to tight restricts technology through shadowy intelligence organizations, Nexus and Crux run the gamut of post-human technology: human-brain uploads, military body upgrades, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence, but the definite star of the show is the Nexus drug and its impact on increasing the power of the human mind.

I recommend both books, although Crux won’t make sense without the setup ofNexus, so go read both. You’ll be left realizing the future will look much like Ramez Naam’s books, full of both beautiful and very scary possibilities.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon. You can follow him on twitter or sign up for his mailing on williamhertling.com.

Channel Zilch by Doug Sharp

Channel Zilch by Doug SharpI got an advance review copy of Channel Zilch by Doug Sharp (Panverse Publishing). It was an absolute delight to read.

It’s a geek’s dream combination: mix Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a Space Shuttle caper, and a beautiful-brilliant computer wiz femme fatale who just happens to be cooking up some smart AI. I laughed out loud during many sections, and was glued to the book throughout.

The characters and their motivations are just awesome. Hel and her father want to set up a media company to shoot a reality TV show in space. Except that it’s set in present day, and of course, it’s not that easy to get into space. They recruit an ex-NASA shuttle astronaut, and decide to steal a retired space shuttle. What can go wrong? :)

I found it to be really funny. It’s book one of a series, and it wraps up the first part of the story quite nicely, so I’m eager to see what direction Doug Sharp will take us in book two.

You can get it from Amazon and other retailers.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon. You can follow him on twitter or sign up for his mailing on williamhertling.com.

Review: Eleanor by Jason Gurley

This review was first posted at Candace’s Book Blog.

Eleanor by Jason GurleyJason Gurley was on of the authors at Story Con 2014 and his book Eleanor is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. In fact, I read the self published version prior to publication and said that it was going to be BIG. I just KNEW it would be picked up by a big publisher, and it did! So the new version will be out and the self published version is no longer available. This is my review of the self published version.

Eleanor is a book that is so beautiful, so moving, so powerful that I’m unsure that I can even review it adequately.  It’s hard to piece words together for this one.

This is such a unique story and one that’s hard to really describe in anyway.  It unravels slowly, starting with one Eleanor and later moving to that Eleanor’s granddaughter.  There’s lots of pain and suffering.  It’s about a family that has had to deal with a great deal of loss.  It’s about mothers and daughters. It’s about a girl having to live with a drunk for a mother.  It’s about a mother losing a child and a mother.  It’s about a father feeling helpless to help his family.  It’s paranormal/science fiction something or other.  It’s not a book that can go in a box in any way.  It is a book that is wholly unique and original and it’s a book that makes you think.

Talking about the characters here would be hard because it can get a little confusing but really the majority of the novel is with Eleanor, the granddaughter of the original Eleanor.  She is 8-17 (I believe) through the scan of the book.  She’s brave and strong.  She just wants her family to heal but she’s angry and hurting.  She’s had to deal with so much in her life.  I really liked her and I felt SO much for her and what she’s had to go through.  I just wanted, desperately, for her to get her happy ending.

This isn’t an easy happy-go-lucky book, but it’s a beautiful one and even though it’s on the longer side (depending on how you look at things I suppose) it held my attention while reading.  While I did occasionally wish that things would hurry and progress, I was, for the most part, very happy with how it went.  I wasn’t sure about one POV that was thrown in.  This person was called The Keeper.  Through the book I didn’t know who this was and why her POV was important.  Once we were told it was so clear and I didn’t know why I hadn’t seen it sooner.  So in a way it has a mystery because you have pieces to fit together.

I really cannot recommend this book any more highly.

Hauntingly beautiful… that’s what I’ll leave you with.

Story Con 2014- Recap and Photos!

It’s very hard to believe that Story Con 2014 is now over. Last Saturday, October 18th, from late morning to early evening authors and readers all participated in discussions about books and reading.  I attended the event as a ‘reader’ but also to take as many photos as possible and to see where things might need improvement for next year.

This is my recap of the event, but remember, there were three things running each hour and I could only attend one each hour. So this really doesn’t even cover half of it!

Story Con
I arrived at Story Con for the first panels of the day and attended the panel called “The Wicked West” which was authors Kate Dyer-Seeley (Scene of the Climb), Angela M. Sanders (The Lanvin Murders) and Christine Finlayson (Tip of a Bone). They  are all Pacific Northwest mystery writers and so the discussion was about the setting. Why the Pacific Northwest is such a great place for mysteries (one example). It was a wonderful discussion with the audience getting very involved as well. In fact, the audience got involved in many of the panels because this is a READERS convention. So it’s about the READERS and not about writing, or even focusing solely on each authors books.

Story Con

Author Kate Dyer-Seeley and her book Scene of the Climb credit: Candace Robinson

Story Con

Set up for author Christine Finlayson for her book, Tip of the Bone. credit: Candace Robinson

Story Con

From left: Kate Dyer-Seeley, Angela M. Sanders and Christine Finlayson credit: Candace Robinson

The next panel I attended was called ‘Game of Tomes’ and was about series. How series have become so popular now it can sometimes actually be hard to find stand alone books. So why do we like series so much? This panel was fun because it had a variety of authors of different ages, age groups and genres. It was a lively discussion and brought up a lot of fun topics.  This was Ripley Patton (Ghost Hand- The PSS Chronicles), Lisa Nowak (Driven, Redline, Deadheat), Stacey Wallace Benefiel (Glimpse, Crossing, Day of Sacrifice), Athena (Murder of Crows), Wendy Wagner (Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers, Women Destroy Science Fiction) and Baer Charlton (Stoneheart, Death on a Dime, Night Vision).

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

Story Con

credit: Candace Robinson

Credit: Candace Robinson

Credit: Candace Robinson

Story Con

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

I had to take a break and get something to eat but on the way I stopped and snapped photos of the authors sitting to sign books.

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

I didn’t sit through the panel because it was happening right when I needed to eat, but I stepped in and snapped a few photos of the panel ‘The Rise of the Machines’. This was discussing what is possible in science fiction, if it should be more realistic, etc. That’s what I got in my two minutes there.  This was with Erik Wecks (The Far Bank of the Rubicon, Aetna Adrift, Unconquered), Daniel H. Wilson (Robopacalypse, BRO-JITSU: The Martial Art of Sibling Smackdown, Amped) and Will Hertling (The Last Firewall, A.I. Apocalypse, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, Indie & Small Press Marketing).

Credit: Candace Robinson

Credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

After lunch was what ended up being my favorite panel of the day ‘Paranormal as a Metaphor’. This was great because it was discussing how zombies, vampires, etc can be used as a metaphor. It was a deep discussion but was loads of fun too. Very thought-provoking! This was with Wendy Wagner (Pathfinder Tales: Skinwalkers, Women Destroy Science Fiction), Ripley Patton (Ghost Hand- The PSS Chronicles), Athena (Murder of Crows) and  Laura Whitcomb (The Fetch, A Certain Slant of Light, Under the Light).

Credit: Candace Robinson

Credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ was up next and this was about favorite books. Books that inspired at a young age, books that helped inspire the desire to write and much more. It was a fun panel and at the end they took the audiences recommendations. Mine was Eleanor by Jason Gurley (and he just happened to be on the panel) and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

credit: Candace Robinson

 The last panel I attended was mostly authors sharing their worst reviews and their best reviews. It was a lighthearted way to show that everyone gets bad reviews. Ripley Patton also shared some of the classics reviews from Amazon which is funny because these are famous pieces of fiction and they also get bad reviews. It was a fun interactive panel.

Story Con was a great success! The authors had fun and the attendees had fun. We all made new connections and lots of new friends. The energy was fantastic, but more laid back than other conventions I have attended. It was relaxed so that the attendees could feel comfortable speaking up during the panels and to even go up to the authors and chat between the panels. As far as conventions go, this was one of the funnest I have attended and I can’t wait until next year when it will be even bigger and better!

Want to make sure you don’t miss out for next year? Keep up to date and know all the news by Subscribing.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy WeirThe Martian by Andy Weir was fantastic. I’m sitting in a bar right now with a wet napkin by my side because I teared up during the end of the book. It’s that good.

The basic storyline is that an astronaut is stranded on Mars and then has to survive until he can be rescued. It’s similar in theme to two movies of the last year: Gravity (with Sandra Bullock, surviving a shuttle mission gone wrong) and All is Lost (with Robert Redford, a sailboat is wrecked at sea — the far better of the two movies, by the way).

This was a debut novel originally self-published, and since transferred to a traditional publisher. The Martian was endorsed by astronaut Chris Hadfield (“fascinating technical accuracy”), Hugh Howey (“takes your breath away”), Ernest Cline (“relentlessly entertaining”), Larry Niven and way more.

I was captivated and read the novel in three days, which is fast for me (kids, family, work, my own writing, etc.) I’ve recommended it to friends and everyone who has read it has loved it.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon.

Wow! That Was Fun!

Photo credit: Clifton Hill

Photo credit: Clifton Hill

I just wanted to take a minute to say, “Thank You!” I had such a great time on Saturday. What a great conversation on books.

A huge thank you to all the authors, volunteers, the Vancouver Community Library, and to the Fort Vancouver Regional Library district.

On to 2015! More information to follow soon…

Story Con Author Jason Gurley Signs With Crown Publishing!

Gurley_Jason_3-1024x682

On Wednesday, Story Con Author Jason Gurley announced on his website that the rights to his breakout novel, Eleanor, had been acquired by Crown Publishing. You can read the full story over on Jason’s website.

EleanorJason has found huge success with, Eleanor, selling over 10,000 copies in his first few months of indie publishing, and he is excited to bring Eleanor to a larger market through a traditional publisher. Jason has gathered an a-list team to help him do just that. He is represented by agent Seth Fishman who also happens to be the agent for Ann Leckie, John Joseph Adams, and Randall Munroe. This summer freelance editor David Gatewood looked Eleanor up and down, and Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, is the publisher of The Martian, which also started as an indie book. If the advance is the measure of how much faith the publisher puts in the book, then Crown is backing Eleanor 110%. Jason said he was hyperventilating when he told his wife the sum.

Jason will be discussing Eleanor at 2:30 PM in the Columbian room during our On the Shoulders of Giants panel at Story Con and he will be doing a reading in the same room at 3:30 PM.

 

 

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

In 2014 Ancillary Justice won both the Nebula and the Hugo, but that’s only the beginning. It also went on to win the BSFA Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award and Locus Award. In a single year, it has become one of the most decorated books in the history of science fiction. Story Con Author William Hertling has a review.

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If you’re a fan of science fiction space epics, stop reading now, and go buy Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

I can’t recall whether I discovered Ancillary Justice because of the front cover blurb by John Scalzi, or this compelling synopsis:

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest.Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was the Justice of Toren–a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose–to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch.

It’s a really interesting premise with great execution. The story alternates two timelines, both told from the protagonists point of view. In one, the protagonist is the starship’s AI that controls both ship and thousands of human-bodied robot soldiers. In the other, taking place twenty years later, the AI has been reduced to just a single one of those bodies, carrying out her mission over twenty years.

Ann Leckie masterfully describes the underlying culture and politics, tying together both plot and cultural details and values. Although space empires are a common setting in scifi novels, making up an entire subgenre, the storytelling is fresh and wonderful.

William Hertling is the author of the best-selling technothrillers Avogadro Corp, A.I. Apocalypse, and The Last Firewall. His first novel for kids age 8-12, The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, came out this summer. A writer and computer programmer, he lives in Portland, Oregon. You can follow him on twitter or sign up for his mailing on williamhertling.com.