Tag Archives: WisCon

I’m Back!

Did anybody miss me?

Seriously though, one of the reasons I was gone so long was that I was feeling depressed about my writing. I felt that nobody cared about anything I was doing and all the blog posts I wrote were simply masturbating out into the web, ejaculating my thoughts and ideas into a dark corner of the Internet where all they left was a sticky little stain and a funky smell.

Another of the reasons was that I was pouring all of my energy into my day job. A job that, sometimes, felt like no matter how much of my effort went into it, nobody cared much about it there, either. I was getting in long before anyone else showed up, 90 minutes before I was scheduled to be there, and staying late to make sure that everything got done. Nobody asked me to do this, but I was raised by a workaholic and that work ethic stuck with me, no matter how destructive it might be to my health and sanity.

So, combine depression with continually putting all of my energy into something other than writing, and that makes a sure-fire recipe for being completely burnt out. I didn’t feel like I had any time to write before work, and by the time I got home I was too tired to do anything more than crawl into bed. The only thing left was a feeling of failure as the days passed one after the other without anything getting on the page.

Which, of course, simply fed the cycle.

But now, dear reader(s) (if I have any of you left), I am going to try to start over. I am going to try to focus less on my job in order to save more of my energy for writing. My goals for the year have shifted as a result of this collapse, and I will no longer be trying to write a new novel this year. My main focus is not to simply continue to write, on whatever project I feel deserves the limited energy and attention I can give it. I can’t promise anything, but I will try to post whenever I can and give you an update on how things are moving along.

Speaking of projects, I thought of a new one over this last weekend. It was the opening day of WisCon, which, if you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you will remember I attend regularly. I was there in a last-ditch effort to regain my writing mojo, and, since I am currently blogging about it, I was successful in that effort. There were actually a few panels that I attended that helped me in this, from the Joy of Failure to Taking Care of the Writer’s Body. From Social Isolation to How to Not Give a &#@! All of these panels helped me to refocus my thinking on stuff that doesn’t really matter to the things that make me WANT to get out of bed in the morning.

Anyway, back to the project. There was a sign in the lobby with a title of “We All Met In A Tavern”. I’m not really sure what it was all about, but it reminded me of the old Thieves’ World anthologies, where several different writers all wrote stories set in the same world. It seemed like a good idea, and so, of course, that meant it was worth stealing. Not completely, mind you, but the general idea. So here it is:

The Liars Club

Let me explain. I want to get submissions from writers around the world (or, more specifically, the Internet) to send me stories that are essentially their favorite characters telling a lie. And not just any lie, but a big one. A profound prevarication. An immense insincerity. A fabulous falsehood.

Depending on the submissions, this could either be something simply posted online to the world for everyone to enjoy, or the tales could be collected into an anthology for sale to the gullible public. For now, I’m not sure if I would have the skills or energy to physically publish anything, and I have no idea whether or not anyone will even submit anything, so it will probably just be going online. We can revisit the publication aspect in the future if there is enough interest.

If YOU are interested, here are the rules:

  1. Use your own character. I’m not interested in fan fic or slash fic, so don’t kidnap another author’s brain child
  2. The story has to be told in the first person
  3. The story has to be something outlandish and/or outrageous. Something fantastic that really makes it hard to believe, but told in such a way that it maybe, possibly, could have potentially happened
  4. The story should be told as if it actually happened to the main character, and they should state why they are unloading this load of bullpuckey onto the listener. Whether they are telling the story to explain why they were late to their own wedding or why they have a terrible fear of wheelchairs doesn’t matter, but the story should start with a lead-in
  5. The story should end with the listener’s reaction. Do they believe this nonsense? Or were they smart enough to catch something in the story that revealed the lie?

That’s my idea. I would be interested to know what you think about it (if there are any of you still out there). And, like I said, if you want to participate, send me a story and spread the word!

I won’t bother telling you when I’ll be back with another post, as I don’t know myself. I have only turned on my laptop a few times in the last four months, and that was mostly just to check my e-mail before my inbox exploded. But I am going to try to be better at that starting this week, so hopefully I’ll have another post soon.

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WisCon Loot

WisCon was great. I learned a lot and had a great time. It was also exhausting. I actually skipped a couple of panels for the sole reason that my butt was getting sore. Instead, I found a comfy chair or couch to rest my laurels on for a while, and then it was back at it!

My wife gave me an allowance of $200 for the convention, but I went way over. I took that much in cash with me, and ended up getting another $100 on Sunday, but that didn’t last either. I also used plastic for some of my spending, so yeah, way over my limit.

Here’s a list of most of the things I bought this weekend (I won’t count food, although that was a big part of it):

  • Pocket watch – this is for the steampunk outfit I am trying to put together. It’s a really nice, wind-up timepiece. And of course, when I got home I discovered there’s no pocket on my vest. Doh!
  • Several small, brass-colored charms. I’m thinking of polishing them and making army-type medals out of them.
    • Tree
    • Key
    • Bat
    • Anchor
    • Octopus
  • I picked up twenty ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) for a dollar each at the Gathering. My friend Zombie Joe “helped” me by handing me five that he recommended. In no particular order, they are:
    • Changeling, by Kelly Meding
    • More Than Midnight, by Brian James Freeman
    • Deadly Sting, by Jennifer Estep
    • Born in Flames, by Howard Hampton
    • Ruins, by Orson Scott Card
    • The Disaster Survival Bible, by Junius Podrug
    • Touch of the Demon, by Diana Rowland
    • Tarnished, by Karina Cooper
    • Desperate Days: Selected Mysteries Volume Two, by Jack Vance
    • Bad Medicine, Vol. 1, by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (graphic novel)
    • Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines
    • Dearly, Beloved, by Lia Habel
    • The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 Edition, edited by Paula Guran
    • Alien Diplomacy, by Gini Koch
    • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
    • False Memory, by Dan Krokos
    • Shivers VII, edited by Richard Chizmar
    • Full Blooded, by Amanda Carlson
    • Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille, by James Van Pelt
    • Kindred and Wings, by Philippa Ballantine
  • I also bought several published books from the Dealer’s Room. Some were sequels from authors I have read before, while others were new things I saw this year and had to have. These are books that I will definitely be reading before next WisCon, while the ARCs may end up just gathering dust, like the ones I picked up last year.
    • The Mad Scientists Guide to World Domination, edited by John Joseph Adams
    • Dark Faith: Invocations, edited by Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon
    • Treemaker, by Kater Cheek
    • Dayrunner, by Kater Cheek
    • Faerie Killer, by Kater Cheek
    • Lunatic Fringe, by Allison Moon
    • Hungry Ghost, by Allison Moon
    • Interfictions, edited by Delia Sherman & Theodora Goss
    • Interfictions 2, edited by Delia Sherman & Christopher Barzak
    • Couch, by Benjamin Parzybok
    • Ex Heroes, by Peter Clines
    • Midnight Blue-Light Special, by Seanan McGuire
    • The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu
  • And finally, I ordered the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, from Amazon during the con. It was delivered on Tuesday.

That’s about it. If any of you are interested in hearing my thoughts about any particular book, leave a comment below and I’ll try to move that particular volume up in my To-Read list. Otherwise, the only thing left for today is that I just put my name on the Magic Spreadsheet. If you don’t know what that is, you can either Google it, or wait for me to write a post about it sometime in the next couple of weeks.

That’s it for today. See  you on Sunday!

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WisCon Writing Contest

On my first day at WisCon I discovered that the person who organized the Odyssey Con spontaneous writing contest also set one up for WisCon. So, of course, I had to at least attempt to participate. Since I hadn’t seen the e-mail before the con I knew I had little chance of actually being a part of it, but I thought it would be worth it to at least show up and see what happened.

To make a long story short, I got in. I decided that I didn’t care whether I won or not, so I would just treat it as a writing exercise. They provided six lines of dialogue and I decided to use them all as the start of my story and just go on from there. I also decided not to name the characters or use any kind of attribution. I was thinking about a writer’s podcast I had heard last year that spoke about how the reader should be able to tell the speaker by the dialogue if it is written correctly, so I tried to write each speaker with their own voice. I’m not sure how well I did, but I’ll let you judge for yourself. Below is my entry.

Mission Control

 “Picking anything up yet?”

“Nothing human. Coupla cats.”

“How do you know they’re cats?”

“How do you know they’re cats? If it looks like a cat and meows like a cat, it’s a cat. These guys think like cats.”

“And different from dogs, yeah?”

“Just like the difference between red and blue. Besides, they’re both normally like, uh, I dunno, a soft glow … until something lights ’em up. But it takes different things to do it. Cats light up when they see some kind of small critter they can chase, but dogs only do it for people. In f…. Oh, wait! What’s that now?”

“What? Let me see!”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist. Give me a second to focus in.”

“Is it them?”

“Not sure. Could be. Here, take a look.”

“They’re big enough to be human. But how can we tell if they’re the guys we’re looking for?”

“Let’s see what happens when they see the bait. If they light up, we’ve got ‘em.”

“What are you using for bait?”

“Like I said, they think like cats, so they’re looking for something small that they can hunt. But they’re bigger than cats, so they’re gonna want something a little bigger. Hang on, I think they spotted it.”

“That? Oh my god, what did you – you didn’t!”

“I told you, they needed something to hunt.”

“But it’s a child! How could you?”

“Don’t worry, we won’t let them hurt it. Besides, they like to play with their food first.”

“They play with it? That’s sick!”

“That’s why we’re here. We’ll get ‘em before they hurt the kid.”

“We better.”

“You worry too much.”

“I can’t help it. I’d like to have kids myself someday, you know.”

“You? Yeah, right! That’s rich. Carlos, they’re on the move. Get your team into position.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just that I have never thought of you as the parenting type. You’re always focused on the job. I bet you don’t even date, do you? Well?”

“All right! I admit it. I haven’t made a lot of time for myself recently, but that doesn’t mean –“

“When’s the last time you went out on a date?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Come on. You can tell me. I promise it won’t leave this room. Get ready, Carlos, they’re almost at your position.”

“Well… fine. The last time I was out on a date was right after I graduated from the Academy.”

“After… Holy crap, that was, like, eight years ago! No wonder you’re wound up so tight.”

“I am not!”

“Oh, please! You walk around like you’ve got a broomstick rammed up your ass. Ramrod straight and ready to snap.”

“… I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Where are our targets?”

“Don’t worry about them. Carlos took them down ten seconds ago. And look. There’s the kid, safe and sound.”

“So is it them?”

“Just a sec. Scan results are coming in now. DNA…Kirlian…Psychotron…. Yep, we’ve got ‘em!”

“Finally!”

“How long have you been after these guys?”

“Three years.”

“Wow. Must be a relief for it to be over.”

“You have no idea.”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“I’m not sure. Whatever the Director wants, I guess.”

“Can I make a suggestion?”

“Sure.”

“Take some time off. It doesn’t have to be long, but it wouldn’t kill you to take a vacation.”

“I don’t know…”

“Just think about it. I usually take a couple weeks off between gigs myself. I’m planning on taking my boat out for a tour of the islands.”

“That sounds nice.”

“Damn straight. Nothing but the wind and the waves for two whole weeks. If that doesn’t recharge your batteries, nothing will. So what do you say?”

“Are you inviting me to come with you?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Because we work together, that’s why!”

“That’s the worst excuse I’ve ever heard. You know damn well that interpersonal relationships are allowed. And besides, I think we work well together, don’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So think of it as a team-building exercise. There’s nothing like sailing to get people more in sync with each other.”

“…”

“Come on! It’ll be fun!”

“All right! It’s a date.”

“Okay! You won’t regret it.”

“I had better not. Now let’s get this mission wrapped up. I’ve got to go shopping for a swimsuit.”

“Yes sir!”

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WisCon, Here I Come!

I finished Dirty Little Freaks #21 yesterday, so I’m ready for WisCon! The biggest concern I had this week was making sure that I had my writing done soon enough that I would be able to concentrate on the convention instead of writing. Mission accomplished.

I’m really looking forward to taking a couple of days off of work and spending some time with my fellow authors. Several of the members of my writing group will be joining me at WisCon, and I’m also hoping to see some of the people I have met at the convention in the last couple of years. I’ve already gone through the program and selected all the panels I’m planning on attending, so all that’s left is for me to show up.

And of course, my cold seems to be making a comeback, so that’s gonna be fun.

If you’re at WisCon, keep an eye out for me. I’d love to meet some of the people who actually read this exercise in self-absorption. And if you can’t make it to the convention, remember: There’s always next year!

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Another Story Done

I finished Dirty Little Freaks story #20 last night. It wasn’t great, but I think it’s got something there. Now I have to figure out what to write about next.

I’ve got a couple of ideas. One more developed than the other, so that’s probably the one I’ll go with. It’s about a firefighter who gets caught in a chemical explosion while he is out on a call and ends up with the ability to control fire. I guess it would be an origin story for a superhero.

I’m hoping this will be one of my shorter stories, and that I get it done quickly this week. WisCon starts on Friday and I won’t have a lot of free time once the convention starts. I’ve already gone through the program schedule and planned out the panels I want to attend. I’m also going to remember to bring an extra bag on opening day for the ARC sale. Last year I came home with over twenty books, most of which I still haven’t read.

I’ll be back on Wednesday to let you know how the story is going. And if you haven’t registered for WisCon yet, why not?

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What Do You Think of This?

I finished my prequel stories for my Alchemist character, and now I have a new idea for either a series or at least a book. I was hoping to run it past you fine folks and ask for your feedback.

But first, as promised last week, here is a picture of me in my new outfit.

Sheriff Steele

Sheriff Steele

I don’t know about you, but I think I look pretty damn good in that getup, and I’ll definitely be wearing it to WisCon next month. Of course, it needs a few accessories, like a sheriff’s badge, a fancy pocketwatch, and a tooled leather holster for my shooting iron. Yeehaw!

All right, now that I’ve got that out of my system, here’s my new idea.

The title is “Broken”. And it’s all about a man in the middle of his failures. I started making a list of different things associated with the word broken, like broken dreams, broken heart, broken leg, broken promises, etc. For a novel, I thought I would try to fit in as many of these associations as possible. However, I might start with short stories (since I have been getting so much practice this year), and focus on one of those things per story.

I’m not sure just yet where I am going with this. I might write it as some kind of anti-hero, who gives up after all of the disappointments in his life and turns to the dark side. The other option is to show how he overcomes all of these things and struggles on, like the biblical character of Job. With the way my writing has been going this year, it will probably be door number one, but you never know.

So leave a comment and tell me what you think. And make sure to list your suggestions for other words associated with “broken …” that you think might make a good story.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back on Wednesday to let you know how it is going. See you then!

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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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Looking for the Right Characters

My latest struggle with my new book is trying to decide who my main characters are. This is a pretty big deal for me, as I firmly believe that a good story depends more on strong characters than the plot. That’s one of the reasons why my latest book is proving to be such a difficult process for me. I have no idea who my characters are. I have plenty of ideas on the pain and suffering I am going to put them through in the course of the story, but until I find out who they are I don’t have a story.

So what are some tips on finding your characters? Names are a good start. A lot of people use books on baby names to help them choose the right name for their characters. You will probably want to pick one that also lists the meanings of the names. Those can help give you some ideas on the type of person that might have that name. One of the books I have heard about is Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana, by Linda Rosenkrantz. It includes details such as period popularity, connotation, and the classical meaning of hundreds of names.

Pictures are also helpful. As I mentioned in my “The Outline Begins!” post on June 3, I went to a teen modeling website and found pictures of kids that I thought would be good inspiration for the characters in my novel. I won’t post the pictures here because of possible copyright issues, but it is pretty easy to find modeling websites through a quick Google search. A lot of them are also searchable by height, weight, gender, age, and even hair color. I found pictures of two boys and two girls that looked like kids I wanted in my book, and saved them to my netbook. I also noted a link to the original website and the model profile for each kid. That way I could refer back to it in case heaven opens up and I am blessed with a movie deal. 😉

Going back to the question of names, while I had actually picked out some names earlier, after picking out the pictures I decided to change most of the character names to the actual names of the models. I decided that since these kids had grown up with these names they should actually be well-suited for them, and if I was going to use their images I might as well use their names too. I’m only using their first names, and they are from all over North America, so I’m guessing none of them will have an issue with this. And besides, if they make a movie, they will be the first ones I recommend to play their part. The movie would have to be made within the next two or three years before they get too old for the part, but I guess that can’t be helped.

So I have names and faces. Now I need to find out about their personality. Some authors will get a degree in psychology in order to more fully understand the voices in their own heads. I don’t have that luxury, so I have to rely on reference books and my own gut instincts. I do have some books on my shelf that deal with standard character types and their traits, but those don’t really help until I can get at least a basic feel for my characters. In my last post I  listed some of the things I am looking for in regards to character history and personality. The problem is that even with the pictures of the kids I am still unable to fill out most of those questions. I’m just not feeling that special connection with these characters that is needed in order to write a good story. So I took a different route.

Have you ever looked at someone and come to a snap judgement about what kind of person they are? If you say no, I’ll say you are lying. All of us have been guilty of “judging a book by its cover”, despite the many times we have been told not to. While at WisCon last month, I was out walking with one of my friends and we passed by someone who was making a fairly innocuous comment. I didn’t even hear the whole thing, but the three or four words I did hear set me off immediately. Maybe it was the fact that the political tension in Madison has been so high for the last eighteen months, but those few words made me instantly judge this person as a Tea Party Republican and I just wanted to beat the crap out of him. I didn’t know this person at all, I didn’t have any idea what he was actually talking about with his friends, and I am normally not a violent person, but I had to get away from him as fast as possible before I did something I would regret.

So what does this have to do with the kids in my story? Well, I’ll tell you. What I decided to do was to take a long, hard look at their pictures and start doing what writers do: make stuff up. I decided I would judge these kids by what they looked like. I would reach into my subconscious and decide what kind of people they were based solely on how they looked. I would take little cues based on their clothing and facial expressions to decide things about their personality and background. Instead of filling out my little list, I just started writing some thoughts down, and eventually I had a short paragraph which told me a little about each of them and why they were in the camp in the first place.

The rotten thing about this process is that I had decided that the camp was going to be for juvenile delinquents, so I had to give each of those nice models a reason to be in a place for kids that were just short of going to jail. The thing I am most ashamed of is that it wasn’t hard to do. I turned those four innocent children into a slut, a kleptomaniac, a bully, and a borderline psychopath. I’m not proud of that, but the important thing is that I now know who they are.

And now the fun can begin.

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Putting Yourself Out There: Conventions

Today I thought I would write a little bit about conventions, and how they can help or hurt your writing career.

For the most part, conventions are great. They are a wonderful opportunity to meet other people who share your interests and struggles. As you might expect, writing conventions will have a lot of panels that revolve around writing. And even those conventions not specifically created for authors may still have activities that can either help you with your craft, or at least be a source of inspiration and ideas.

The local conventions that I have gotten hooked on here in Madison, Wisconsin, are Oddysey Con (OddCon), WisCon, and Geek Kon. All of them have panels for writers about the craft and the industry. Some more than others, but I think that all of them are worth my money.

OddCon starts the ball rolling in late April. It is a small science fiction/fantasy/gaming convention and costs $35 for three days. And when I say small, I mean less than 500 people. A lot of the panels are on writing, but there are also several on gaming and movies/television. They even have a video room where they are constantly playing movies and episodes of science fiction television shows.

WisCon is next, held on Memorial Day weekend. They proclaim themselves as the world’s leading feminist science fiction convention and have an upper limit to their registration of 1,000 people. Even though the convention has a strong female focus, they also welcome open-minded men into their ranks. The convention is also very friendly towards the LGBT community, so you can find all sorts of people walking the halls. This year was my second year attending. As a writer, I seem to be drawn to writing female characters, and the panels at this convention help me to tap into my feminine side and more fully understand the female perspective. WisCon is the most expensive of the conventions I attend, being $50 for four days, but it is worth every penny.

Geek Kon is the last hoorah of the summer for me. It is held in early September, and the cost is $25 for three days. While this large convention is mainly focused on movies, manga, and video games, they do have several writing panels to keep me connected to other authors. And sometimes it’s good to be reminded of the importance of play. Besides, a lot of the attendees come in costume, and just walking down the hall can be like stepping into another world. And the huge dealer’s room has everything a geek like me could want to celebrate all sorts of fandom. Definitely worth the price of admission.

So those are the conventions that I have experience with. As I said, they are all local for me, which makes it easy and cheap for me to attend. I don’t need to worry about a hotel room, as I can easily drive, bike, or bus to the hotels where they are held. And I can touch base with a lot of other local writers and editors, as well as authors from a little farther away.

This interaction with others is where things get a little dicey. As is true in all facets of life, no matter how friendly you are, there are certain people who will never be your friend. The way you interact with these people can either help your career, or hurt it. If you are trying to sell your novel or short story, a lot of times the deciding factor is who you know.

I have met a few editors and several authors over the last two years, and all of them have seemed very nice. A lot of them have been on the panels I attended, but some of them were simply enjoying the convention along with me. Either way, I tried my best to be polite and not intrude on their conversations with other people. Those are the most important things to remember when meeting someone who may be one of your heroes, like Larry Niven, who was the guest of honor at OddCon this year. Steven Barnes was the other guest of honor, and both of them turned out to be wonderful, really nice guys. Steven Barnes even led me (along with several others) through a short Tai Chi class on Saturday morning.

At WisCon last year I had the privilege of meeting Cassie Alexander, a newly published author who was leading a writer’s workshop, and helped me identify some problems with my first Valkyrie book. This year I met Kater Cheek, an independent author who did a tarot reading for me. Neither of them are local, but they are really cool women and I am happy to have had a chance to meet them. Two of the local authors I have met are Alex Bledsoe and Lori Devoti. Both of them are wonderful authors and have not only signed my copies of their books, but have become my friends on Twitter and Facebook. Lori in particular has taught me a lot about the current state of the publishing industry and has influenced my choice to self-publish once I finish a final draft of my books.

So, like I said at the start of this post, conventions can be a wonderful help to your writing career. Just remember to be polite and you should be all right. Tips I have heard for introducing yourself to someone are:

  • Don’t interrupt someone who is in the middle of a conversation with someone else. A better way would be to say hello if you pass them in the hall, or introduce yourself immediately before or after a panel, or at one of the parties.
  • Don’t immediately ask them if they would read your manuscript. Make a friend before you ask a favor.
  • Talk to them as people, not as superheroes. Believe it or not, most of them are not from Krypton, and have had some of the same life experiences you have had. Share something interesting about yourself, and maybe they will share something with you.

The last thing I wanted to say about conventions is about the inherent contradictions of being a writer. Writing is essentially a solitary undertaking, and yet the end result is a study of people and society, and is intended to be shared with others. So authors almost have to have a split personality to be good, being antisocial in order to work, but also being very perceptive of how other people both think and feel. Also, like actors, they have to be able to put themselves into the heads of their characters in order to allow their readers to share more fully in their world.

This is another of the things about attending a convention that may make things a little more difficult for you. Depending on your personality, you may find it difficult to make new friends at the conventions. Luckily, some of them have mixers or parties scheduled where you can introduce yourself in a more relaxed setting. For example, WisCon has an opening night dinner, where you can go out for a meal with a random selection of other attendees. The dinner conversation is always interesting, and you get to share some time with some potential new friends.

Writer’s workshops are also good opportunities to meet other writers. As I mentioned, Cassie Alexander led a workshop for me last year, and not only did she give me some excellent advice about improving my book, but we developed a friendship that I treasure. I look forward to seeing her at future WisCon events.

I hope this information has been helpful. My advice to you is to find out what kinds of conventions are in your area and see if you can work at least one into your budget. Despite my warnings, you shouldn’t be scared. Most of the people who go to conventions are looking for the same things you are. Namely friends that share your interest and the chance to meet others who have made the jump from aspiring writer to published author.

Good luck and have fun!

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WisCon Here I Come!

I have been looking forward to this weekend for months. Just a couple more days to go!

This weekend is not only Memorial Day weekend, and Bratfest weekend, but it is also the weekend when a thousand people get together for the “World’s Leading Feminist Science Fiction Convention” – WisCon!

I attended last year and had a blast. I got to meet a lot of writers and artists, and we discussed writing and other issues important to women. Even though I am of the male gender, I am appalled at the current war on women and I want to put myself squarely on the side of my wife, my mother, my sister, my aunt, and all the lovely women in my world. With the political activity over the last year, there are a lot more issues to discuss this year, and I am really looking forward to being there.

If you want to know more about WisCon, check out their website at http://www.wiscon.info/. If you are attending, look for me and introduce yourself. I would love to actually meet any of the few people who read my blog. 😉

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Filed under About Me, Conventions, Politics, Uncategorized