Most of the readers of this blog know that I attended the Superstars Writing Conference in Colorado Springs back at the beginning of February. Superstars is put on by writers Kevin J Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, and draws several other big name authors as presenters. One of the highlights of the Conference is the VIP dinner on Friday night. At the dinner the participants sit with one of the presenters through the meal where they can talk and ask questions. Kevin had said online that any of the presenters would be a good choice, and after the first few days of the conference I would have to agree. However, I had my sights set on one particular guest for the meal. Kevin would have been a very good choice, but I had already spent time talking with him, and had lunch with Rebecca on one of the conference days. The other author whose work I was very familiar with was Eric Flint, long time writer for Baen and the brains behind the 1632 series of alternate history books, also known as the Ring of Fire series. If you’re not familiar with this series, it’s worth a look. Eric developed it from a tale about a small town in West Virginia going back in time to Germany in 1632. To those not familiar with this period of time, this was the Protestant Reformation, and the war between Protestants and Catholics that killed from between one quarter and a third of the German population. The Germanies were a number of kingdoms, principalities, duchies and so forth, and more often than not the armies of either side were as likely to prey on their own co-religionists as the other side. Flint brilliantly placed his story in this backdrop of warfare and intrigue, when Cardinal Richelieu of France and the Pope were major players, along with King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. And a bunch of engineers, former military men and librarians from rural America change the technology of the era.
There were three reasons I wanted to talk with Eric. One, because I love the series. I haven’t read all of them yet, but I’m definitely working on it. Also in that he wrote alternative history, a subgenre I have always loved and eventually want to work in. And third, because he works for Baen, one of the most progressive of the traditional publishers, and one I would love to work for. Eric turned out to be a most gracious host, giving each of us a choice of signed books and including everyone in the conversation. I learned a lot about the publishing industry, about collaboration, from the king of that art, and about Baen books. At times the conversation went into military history, a subject several of us were well verse in. And I was able to bounce some ideas off of Eric, mostly just the basics, to see what might be a good choice for a submission to Baen. It turns out that Eric has a degree in history, something that seemed pretty useless for most of his life while he worked as a machinist in factories, but has come in handy in his current profession. At the end of the meal Eric gave each of us his card, and the invitation to contact him in the future if we had further questions. A true case of paying it forward, just like the other presenters were doing. The evening went by too quickly. I really can’t wait for next year’s Superstars. There was also the trip to Garden of the Gods with Kevin, the previously mentioned lunch with Rebecca, an conversation with James Aremis Owen one night in a quiet corner of the lobby. It was a great experience through and through, and one I would recommend to any author out there who wants to learn about the publishing industry while networking with some great people. Till next year.