Tag Archives: Kevin Hearne

Odyssey Con 13: Steer Trek

Today is the last day of Odyssey Con (or OddCon, for those who know it well). It was nice being able to spend some time connecting with my fellow geeks. The highlight, of course, was being able to spend three days with two of my favorite authors, Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne. They signed some books for my collection, as well as a couple for my son Nate, who couldn’t make it this year.

I also entered the Spontaneous Writing Contest yesterday morning. Let me start by saying that it was definitely organized better than last year. The rules were that you had to sign up in advance to get a spot on the list, and then the first eight people (in registration order) that were physically present at 8:30 AM in the hotel lobby were given a flash drive. That drive contained an .RTF file with four lines of dialogue that had to be used in a story. Each contestant then had one hour to write their story and turn it in. I was fourth on the list, so I was assured a spot as long as I was there (and, of course, I was). The drives were each lettered, in order to keep the author anonymous and keep the contest fair.

Here are the lines of dialogue that we were given to work with.

“Not a one!”
“What!? Most of them never did anything wrong even on their own planet, let alone here.”
“You’re not hearing me, and I’m not going to say it again. Not. A. Single. One!”
“With all due respect, ma’m …”

We could alter them if we needed to, but any changes would count against us. Putting other text between the lines was no problem, though, and most of the authors (including myself) did so. I managed to write about 800 words in the allotted hour, and I felt pretty good about it. At least, until they posted the entries in the hallway for everyone to read. There were some nice stories there. And I overheard one of the judges talking to one of the other contestants about the merits of some of the OTHER stories. Needless to say, I began to have some doubts about my own work. My biggest worry was that, despite the reference to another planet in one of the lines of dialogue, I decided not to take the easy route and write a science fiction story about aliens from another world. Instead, I wrote about a murder investigation at a science fiction convention. It’s titled “A Killer Con”, and here it is, for your reading pleasure.

The trouble with these guys was that they seemed to think that the rules of normal society didn’t apply to them. To be fair, though, their own concepts of morality and ethics was sometimes a whole lot better than what the rest of us lived by. Still, there was a dead body in the hotel, and it was up to me to find out why.

“All right,” I said to the con rep that I had cornered, “we’re going to be here until I get some answers, so start talking.”

We had commandeered one of the rooms for the duration, in order to lock down the hotel until we had a chance to question the three hundred suspects that were still wandering the halls as if nothing had happened. The queen sized bed that took up most of the room distracted a bit from my interrogation techniques, but I tried to ignore it as we sat at the little work table in the corner.

“Well, like I told the officer earlier, we were just wrapping up the afternoon anime movie and as they left the room one of the kids complained to the AV guy about a nasty smell.”

“And nobody had noticed anything before then?”

“Not really. I don’t know if you have ever been to a convention like this before, but some of our attendees aren’t so good with personal hygiene, if you know what I mean.”

I grimaced. I couldn’t imagine going without at least a shower if I was going to go out in public. “Go on.”

“He went in to check it out, in case someone had gotten sick or something in there. And that’s when he found the body.”

His story checked out with what I had already gotten from the uniforms. “All right, so who was this guy?”

He shook his head. “No idea. I mean, his name was Jerry Dantillo, but nobody really knows him. He hasn’t been to the con before, and he wasn’t pre-registered. We think he was probably just some local guy who heard about the con and decided to check it out.”

“So nobody knows this guy, which means nobody has any reason to want him dead, is that it?”

“Not a one!”

I frowned. “That just doesn’t make any sense. You don’t get a nine-inch dagger through your heart without pissing someone off.” I planted my hands on either side of the little table and leaned over him. “I don’t really care what planet you guys think you’re from, but that sort of thing doesn’t fly in my town.”

Unfortunately, I had underestimated the sheer level of geekery I was dealing with. My intimidation technique was totally useless when he was more interested in my cleavage than my comment. I glared at him and sat back down in my chair, crossing my arms over my chest.

He looked up at my scowling face and flushed. “What!? Most of them never did anything wrong even on their own planet, let alone here.”

“Well, I’ve got a dead body that says otherwise. And nobody is leaving here until I find out who did it. So somebody had better start talking. Who here would think that this guy would be better off dead?”

“You’re not hearing me, and I’m not going to say it again. Not. A. Single. One!”

I threw up my arms in frustration. “Fine. Be that way. But this con is over. For good.”

“With all due respect, ma’m …”

I snorted. “Respect? You seem to have more respect for my breasts than for my job.” He ducked his head like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “I’m trying to help you out here, but you’ve got to meet me halfway.”

He raised his head and looked me in the eye. “You don’t understand. We have a strict weapons policy at the convention. No real weapons are allowed. Ever. And we have a security staff that keeps an eye out for those things. They check every single costume to make sure nobody has any real blades, or guns, or whatever. There’s no way that knife would have gotten past them.”

I leaned back in my chair. “Well, then I guess that narrows down the suspects, doesn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Vigilat qui custodem,” I said, getting up to open the door. “Who watches the watchmen? I need to speak to your security staff.”

His face blanched.

I ushered him out the door and gestured for one of the uniforms to join me. If I was right, there was no way I was going to be caught alone in a room for this interrogation.

Not too bad, right? Needs a little work, but most first drafts do. Especially ones that were written under a one hour deadline. But in the end, it wasn’t quite good enough, and I didn’t win. However, I may keep working on this story over the next week. I can extend it out, through the interrogation of the security guard  and on to the revelation of the killer and resolution of the mystery.

I’ll give you an update on Wednesday to let you know how it’s going. Until then, live long and prosper!

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Is It Wednesday Already?

Sorry for the late post. I just realized that it is Wednesday and I hadn’t posted anything yet.

I don’t have a whole lot to say. The weather turned sour again, and although I rode my bike in the rain yesterday, I didn’t ride today and I’m not planning on riding tomorrow. I’m going to rationalize my decision to drive by saying that I didn’t want to take the chance of getting sick for Odyssey Con this weekend.

Speaking of which, only two more days to go! I’m a little jealous of my friend Zombie Joe, who gets to go to pick up Kevin Hearne at the airport tomorrow. He will get the chance to spend some time alone with an author whose work has been compared with Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I’m hoping that Joe will have the time to introduce me to Kevin during the convention, but he’s going to be pretty busy, so I won’t push it. At the very least, I will have a chance to get a book signed.

Another bit of convention news is that I signed up for the “spontaneous” writing contest on Saturday. The idea is to work some lines of dialogue into a short story. It’s only open to the first eight people who have registered and are present in the lobby at 8:30 Saturday morning. I was number four to register, so as long as I get there on time I’ll be able to participate. Which means that I will actually have two short stories this week. I’m not sure exactly how I’ll count that. Maybe I’ll skip writing next week, or maybe I’ll save it for later in the year in case I run out of ideas. Or maybe I’ll just count it as a bonus. I may not decide until after I find out how it ranks among the other seven contestants (one of which is Zombie Joe).

So that’s it for tonight. I’ll check in again after the convention is over on Sunday afternoon. And don’t forget to look for me if you’re at the convention!

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Quick and Dirty

I don’t have a lot to say today. I finished Dirty Little Freaks #14 yesterday. The morning was spent running a lot of errands, and the afternoon (after finishing the story) was mostly goofing off. Today too was not very productive, as you might be able to tell by the fact that this post isn’t going up until almost 2 PM. But that’s okay.

This week I think I might write another Alchemist story, which will almost wipe out my ideas for shorts on that line. It should bring the character through most of his origin story and get him into a place where I can start planning the novel. But that’s for another time.

In the meantime, I think I’m going to spend the rest of my Sunday being lazy and watching a Warehouse 13 marathon.

I’ll check in on Wednesday and let you know how much I’m looking forward to seeing Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne at Odyssey Con next weekend. Hopefully I’ll have the majority of my next story done by then.

Catch you later!

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Socializing for an Anti-Social Profession

Let’s face it, writers spend a lot of their time alone, lost in the worlds inside their heads. Some of them have even been known to bite when provoked. Getting those words on the page is the only way to get the voices to stop.

But stories are about people, and it’s kind of hard to understand how people work without spending any time with them. So every writer needs to get away from the manuscript once in a while and get out there where the stories are. If they’re lucky they can also find other people who share their interests and might be able to help refine their work into something they can print.

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”

– Stephen King

Today I’m going to tell you about two of the things in my life that help me get my writing done. Writer’s groups and conventions.

I have been with a writing group for a few years now. We meet on a weekly basis and discuss our work. In the past, we would read our pieces out loud and get critiques from the others. That worked, but there were times when nobody had anything to read, or when only one person had anything prepared, so there was sometimes a bit of guilt or tension in the group.

We are shaking things up a bit now. We’re still going to meet weekly, but we’re only going to offer critiques once a month. The other weeks we will use as a scheduled writing time, with the opportunity to discuss any story problems we are stuck on with the rest of the group. We will also take some time each month to discuss a book that we have read.

I’m not sure about the book discussion, as I already have a discussion group that I go to at my local library once a month. I have enough trouble getting through the books on my own to-read shelf without adding yet another one from someone else’s list. But I’ll give it a try anyway, because at least the books that my writing group discuss will be more closely aligned with the ones I normally read for pleasure. The library book group mostly discusses popular fiction and non-fiction, which I would probably never read on my own.

As for conventions, it is nice to be able to get out and meet new people every once in a while. Conventions give me a chance to get out there and participate in discussions about interesting topics led by interesting people. I also get the chance to meet famous people, like Larry Niven, who has been a favorite author of mine for decades.

This year my convention plans include Odyssey Con, April 12-14, and WisCon, May 24-27, both held in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin. I almost decided to skip Odyssey Con this year, but when they announced that the Guests of Honor included Alex Bledsoe and Kevin Hearne, I just had to go. Alex is also local to the Madison area, and I have met him several times and consider him to be a friend. He is a great guy and his writing is superb. Kevin is the author of the Iron Druid series, which I started reading a couple of years ago and have loved every bit of it, so I am looking forward to meeting this outstanding author.

While at the conventions, I will have a chance to sit in on discussion panels with these two greats, as well as many other writers and fans, and pick their brains about writing, news of the world, and our future on this planet (and possibly others). And there will be lots of other, like-minded people around as well, each with their own opinions and views to share.

I highly recommend that, whatever your situation, you should try to connect with other writers. Either with a writer’s group or a convention. Preferably both. And if you can afford to travel, come and join me in Madison at one of my conventions and introduce yourself. We’ll chat.

I’ve got to go lock myself in a room now and get some writing done. I’m going to write another Alchemist story this week, and I am hoping that I will be able to finish it ahead of schedule again. As usual, I will post another update on Wednesday.

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A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I have to apologize for my late post today. I know it was supposed to be yesterday, but I didn’t even realize that I had missed it until this morning.

I still haven’t touched my story since November 30. Instead I have been playing online games and reading. I have to admit that the games are a complete waste of time, and I will probably stop playing soon, but for now they are relaxing and give me a break from everything else I have been dealing with in my life.

In case you are interested, the books I have been reading recently are:

 Seeing Things, by Kater Cheek

 Disappearing Nightly, by Laura Resnick

 Trapped, by Kevin Hearne

 What’s Left of Me, by Kat Zhang

All of these are excellent books, and I would highly recommend them to anyone. As a matter of fact, I have recommended the last one to one of my co-workers.

The one I am reading now is:

 The Casual Vacancy, by J K Rowling

I have been looking forward to reading this, but I have to say that I am finding it hard to get into the story. There are a lot of characters involved in the story and the reason I am not enjoying it yet may be because it is too complicated. I understand that there must have been a lot of work that went into plotting out the whole thing, but I am starting to wonder if it was worth it. I’ll continue to slog through it, and hopefully it will get easier as I go along. I’ll be sure to let you know my final opinion once I finish it.

That’s about it for today. I hope you are all having a nice holiday season, and I’ll try to remember to get my next post online on time on Sunday.

And finally, Happy Birthday to my dear old dad, who turned 69 years old yesterday. We may not always get along, but I certainly can’t complain about the work ethic that I inherited from him. Despite what he might think, I have always considered him an inspiration. Love ya, Dad!

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