The Nebula Awards 50th Anniversary Conference aka ZOMG I JUST CAN’T EVEN WITH WORDS

The Nebula Awards 50th Anniversary Conference aka ZOMG I JUST CAN’T EVEN WITH WORDS

The Nebula Awards Conference was wonderful! So many great people, great programming, my only sadness was that I didn’t get to spend more time with ALL THE PEOPLE, and I really should have organized having meals with people a little bit better. I ended up not eating very much, but hospitality’s delicious ham and frozen fruit kept me going.

I made a strong decision to use the Nebula Awards Conference as a place to run some experiments and challenge myself. For the authors’ signing I printed magnets with Things on them, and wrote letters for people. I wanted to do something a little bit different, there’s something so magical about getting a letter in the mail. It was a fun experiment to conduct in a small, non threatening window of time.

Using the signing this way allowed me to figure out the logistics of sketches and taking live commissions. There are lots of niggling details that you don’t realize you need to sort out until you’re in the heat of the moment. There’s nothing like opportunities to practice, play, and run experiments. I wonder what experiments I’ll conduct next year, SFWAns might be my favorite lab rats! They’re so smart and enthusiastic, and you can have good meta conversations about pricing, marketing and workflow.

Magnets are a bit tricky to sign, but envelopes hold ink quite well and keep the magnets safe.

Sometimes love is grabbing a magnet for each of your besties!  <3

Examples of letters the Things sent ^_^. There is so much joy writing notes of love  to special folks. Wish I’d photographed more of them before I sent them into the wild.

This experiment was so useful, and when the signing was done I didn’t want to finish! I had so much more to learn and explore… and still needed to do one octopoidal love letter. Up in the SFWA hospitality suite I was inspired by Mary Robinette Kowal doing a practice run for something exciting (I’m sure there will be announcements soon). Inspired by her practice run (practice makes such a difference) I asked people to give me a prompt, or pretend I was an artist at a comics convention, and challenge me to draw something. After I drew them a sketch they could choose to donate money to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund. The idea of working for money adding that little extra layer of responsibility, service, and fear!

Spending time with my drawings… it’s sometimes like listening to recordings of my own voice. It’s a little hard on the ego until you acclimatize! But rollerderby taught me that nothing helps craft like footage review (well, that and practice practice practice). I’m pleased with how I learned more about my own pens and what work for me in a loose sketching environment. I fear I shall purchase more copic brush pens in the future, there is something that brings out a different, more spontaneous line!

Mmm, Chicago pizza, I would love you for your tomato sauce alone.

EJ, of course, asked me to draw an anthropomorphic artillery shell!


Drawing an actual person is always a bit scary! But Marko was a good sport, and I was told he saved Christmas!

This is what happens when you ask me to draw a waterfall!

Off you go little letters! I hope your recipients enjoy you. The designs on the stamps are in honor Martin Ramirez, who was one of the great self-taught artists of the 20th century. I love buying stamps and discovering interesting human beings. Thank you post offices around the world for giving us all these gems.

Saturday meant OMG the actual awards! John Hodgman did a great job as Toastmaster, HILARIOUS! I’m so pleased he came and slummed with us prose folks ;-) 

The awards night started with a performance from Emperor Stardust and the Eunuchs of the Forbidden City. Henry Lien did a great job as composer, singer and choreographer. I was honored to be the tall lass in suspenders on the right. Keep your eyes peeled for the video of the fab dance number, I’ll post it as soon as I get it!

Photo thanks to @clarkesworld

And then… a great honor happened. I had been asked to accept the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation on George Miller’s behalf, as he was a wee bit busy at the Cannes Film Festival, should Mad Max: Fury Road win! Getting to rep for Australia made my heart grow a few sizes, and as an Australian who hasn’t been home for over five years holding that trophy was a little bit like hugging home.

The head of this marvelous award is a typewriter ball! Five pounds of love for dry rugged landscapes, strength in many forms, and go hard or go home.

Rob Wilkins accepting for Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE and Liz Argall for George Miller, AO

Sir Terry Pratchett received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award this year, in recognition of his “significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, and is particularly intended for those who have consistently made a major, positive difference within the speculative fiction field.”

Rob and I were the only people accepting for other people, and it was a delight to chat for a moment. It makes me happy knowing that Sir Terry had such thoroughly kind and decent people like Rob around during the increasing vulnerability of the embuggerance. It still makes my heart smile, thinking about good people taking care of our Terry, in physicality and in spirit.

And that is a tiny snippet of an amazing weekend. I almost bought shoes at Fleuvog’s. I kinda want to start a band with some fellow authors (even if I have to learn bass). I gazed at nominations in awe wondering how it was possible that I knew and or cared about so many on the list. I reconnected with people I care about, met wonderful new people, and now desperately want to figure out how to travel further. I wish I’d attended more panels and taken advantage of the amazing Ask an Expert sessions, but hopefully next time… I’ve already purchased my ticket.

This conference was put together with so much care and concern, organizers were like the best hosts, facilitating the awesome, listening, attending, connecting, and creating a love filled experience. Thanks SFWA and the army of volunteers that made it happen. See you in Pittsburgh :-)

The Things vibrate about their experience (re-scanned pretty picture soon come)

NPR/Tempest Bradford on the awards

Scalzi’s fab picture gallery (including one of me)

John O’Neill/Blackgate on the awards and a shout out to the dance number

Michael Underwood (in his ever thoughtful way) touches on why a professionally oriented conference is so very satisfying

M.C.A Hogarth visually describes the post confreence feels

I’ll keep adding more Nebula links, so I can hug them


John O’Neill at BlackGate’s write up of the full, with links to audio recording

More from Cat Rambo (inc video)

The ever hard-working Kate Baker’s write up and squeal of delight at something well earned

President Cat Rambo’s writeup

Brilliant 10 point recap by Cecelia Tan

Fran Wilde is always entertaining, so her OMG I won an award blog post is no exception.

ZYZ Recap – includes write up of panel “How to handsell your book”

ZYZ Recap – Author signing at the Nebulas

The Unbreakable Princess Alethea BEA and Nebulas writeup –

Lexie Dunne Recap

Beth Cato



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.