2023: The Year of Speeches

Speaking engagement plans for 2023 are shaping up:

  • March 15-18: ICFA, Orlando, FL
  • April 20-23: IMsLBB Piscataway, NJ
  • May 19-22: MISTI-Con 10th Anniversary, Laconia, NH
  • June 5: StoryStudio workshop online
  • July 5-9: SABR National Convention, Chicago
  • July 13-16: Readercon, Boston area
  • August 20-23: EFACon, Alexandria, VA

Okay, maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration to call this The Year of Speeches, but it’s what it feels like. Yes, I’ve been a keynote speaker or guest of honor for a few conventions before, including HELIOsphere and the OutWrite festival. But this year there will be two really disparate ones that really frame my extremes:

Banner graphic showing a photo of Cecilia Tan and the words Keynote Speaker, writer, editor, activist, IMsLBB - International Ms. Leather and Bootblack

International Ms. Leather & Bootblack
aka IMsLBB, is a leather title contest that has been running since 1987, and has been a destination convention and play party event for leatherwomen and kinksters, including transmasculine folks and trans women, for over 30 years.

I was slated to deliver the keynote at the 2020 conference. The organizers had booked my airline tickets and I was all geared up to go.

Then COVID lockdowns hit, and of course the convention was cancelled. IMsLBB went virtual for a couple of years, underwent a big turnover in who owns/runs the contest, and this year they’re re-launching the in-person convention on the East Coast (!) for the first time in years, and I’m finally going to get to give that keynote speech!

It’ll be a very different speech than I had been planning in spring 2020. The world has changed, and just the act of getting a bunch of kinky folks together in a building–which was always radical–has a different significance than it used to. The BDSM community has always been focused on “safety.” In the wake of both the #MeToo movement and the global pandemic, many people’s relationship to “safety” has been transformed.

That means many people’s relationship to pleasure itself has been transformed, and all kinds of negotiations have to take place around even the “simple” pleasures of going out to eat or dropping by a friend’s for a cup of tea.

I believe tickets are still on sale for IMsLBB if you’re interested: April 20-23 in Piscataway, NJ: https://www.imslbb.org/2023event

Banner showing Keynote Speaker Cecilia Tan for EFACon August 2023 in Alexandria, VA. Includes a publicity photo of Cecilia Tan and a quote previewing her speech, readiing "Freelancers swoop in to save the day, but what's the billing rate on heroism?"

In a complete change of subject, I’ll also be giving the keynote at the Editorial Freelancers Association conference in August. This is a conference for professional proofreaders, editors, and related fields. As someone who has cobbled together my freelance income successfully for the past (*checks notes*) 29 years (?!?!) I guess I qualify to give a bit of advice!

I used to often say to my interns and assistants that one of the good things about book publishing is that if you miss a typo in a book, or miss a deadline by one day, or misspell an author’s name… at least no one dies or loses a limb. We often feel tremendous pressure to be perfect, but if we’re not, it’s important to keep it in perspective.

But that doesn’t mean we should think of our jobs as boring or meaningless. And of course, in the face of relentless misinformation and hate being poured out all over social media and even “respected” outlets like the New York Times, perhaps publishing’s stakes are pretty high after all.

I’ll be ruminating on that a lot as I prepare that speech.

Early bird registration for EFACon is on now (get $100 off): https://www.eventleaf.com/e/EFACON2023 (August 17-19, Alexandria, VA)

Other appearances on my schedule

I’ll be at ICFA on a panel on editing in March, entitled “Editing Beyond the Western World” moderated by Mimi Mondal, with me, Neil Clarke (of Clarkesworld), Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Mary Anne Mohanraj.

The big excitement in May: I’ll be at the MISTI-Con Reunion (at the Margate Resort, where it all began) where me and my trans and nonbinary Harry Potter fandom peeps will mourn what’s been happening with JKR becoming a louder and louder voice in the anti-trans movement. I believe there are still some tickets left if you’d like to join this group of highly creative Harry Potter fanatics. The group includes many queer and trans fans, and in particular transmasculine folks, which is why I’ve always felt the most at home at MISTI-Con out of all the fandom spaces I’ve inhabited over the years.

I also expect I’ll be at Readercon! I’ve been trying to get two initiatives off the ground in recent years, one for a track of workshops for sf/f editors at Readercon, and one for an annual award for works of erotic sf/f (currently named the Diadem Award(s)), but I just haven’t had the braincells to get them going. It feels like since menopause and the pandemic, I just can’t make my brain do what it used to do. Everything takes longer. But I will get to them eventually!

I am probably NOT going to the Worldcon in Chengdu, China, (which is having various problems, not least of which is COVID, but also the convention center that was supposed to be built by now isn’t yet done, and so on…). Given the Chinese government’s recent anti-gay actions and their penchant for relocating their own citizens to “re-education camps” etc… I feel like as someone who writes queer characters of Chinese descent and who is an outspoken advocate for gay and trans rights, my presence there would just endanger anyone who might be a fan of mine.

Online Workshops, Coming Soon

On Monday, June 5, I’ll be teaching How (And Why) To Write a Sex Scene for StoryStudio Chicago. Registration will go live for that soon!

Also the class I mentioned in my last update, Writing Bisexual Characters, for Writing the Other, will be going live sometime soon as well! I’m just waiting for WTO to get back to me about when it’ll go up. The first 10 days after a class is live there will be Q&A interaction between me and those taking the class, as well. I’ll post everywhere when I find out the exact dates.

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