It’s been a few years, but I’m taking NaNoWriMo on again.
For a while, as I learned how to write, NaNoWriMo was an annual event around here, but once I started to turn out books on the actual physical plane, my life looked like NaNoWriMo half the time anyway. When November came around, I was either just off a monthlong sprint, or sometimes I was mid-project, and participated in spirit, but not officially, since my project started before Nov 1, (and sometimes continued beyond) One year I was editing in November, and tried to make meaningful progress goals for that, again in solidarity, but NaNoWriMo sort of lost its significance for me for a while.
Now, the kids are regulars (C is hoping for her third win!) and I am jumping in beside them, and I am surprised to find that I am really having a lot of fun with NaNoWriMo again.
I finished my first whole book during a NaNoWriMo, and while that book was in fact a sad, misformed abomination, which will never see the light of day, I am startled to find that I think of that moment as my baby steps as a real writer. Though I wrote, participated in writers’ groups, led writers’ groups, published some short, unpaid work, and collected a stack of rejections that you could press flowers beneath, I think that first NaNoWriMo represented a shift for me that was the beginning of my transition from ‘Aspiring’ writer to something more.
Another NaNoWriMo, while we were living in Canada and I was isolated and miserable, taught me how to write through rough patches, rather than let them derail me, and it was another big turning point for me. Another book that would never see the world, another two months of editing to figure that out, and another laundry list of lessons, and I became a new writer – while that draft was terrible, there was a distinct shift around the middle of it, where the writing suddenly changed. The plot, at that point, was sadly unsaveable – like a house built up room by room that would never have any kind of feng shui potential, but now when I look back, that shift midway through the draft is the first time I see glimmerings of my voice as a writer. Another shift.
It isn’t just my life that NaNoWriMo has changed for the better, either. I have watched the kids participate with a teacher’s assessing eye, and their skills take massive leaps, every year at this time. Win or fail, end with a diamond in the rough or a pile of steaming slag, it doesn’t matter – something about the pressure of that daily word count, the social fun of shared burdens, and the crazy idea of taking a month that is normally filled with writing inconveniences (Thanksgiving, my birthday, the aftermath of Halloween, etc) and saying ‘To hell with excuses. I am just going to do this.’ It forces growth.
So, I sally forth. As I pull this book together, I’m outlining every step with the kids, showing them how my process works as I help them find their own. Every day is our own little write-in as we compare results on the rainbow colored progress board we made, and I’m realizing that by putting my process on display like this, using it to illustrate a bigger picture, I am learning from it, already. On day 4.
I can’t help but wonder, as we move forward, what changes will I look back and ascribe to November 2014? What strides will I make, as a a writer, a mom, a teacher? And there’s only one way to find out.
If you found yourself promising to participate another year, if you were excited by the idea of NaNoWriMo, but daunted by the weight of the whole thing, dissuaded by the chaos and responsibilities of your ‘actual’ life, I urge you to jump in – it’s not too late. If 50,000 words is too much, do like the kids do and set a lower goal.
Now, I just wrote way too many non-novel words, and to be honest, the boy is so far ahead of me it isn’t even funny. I’m behind on my math homework, and my boring ‘job’-type work is slowly piling up. How did I do this again? Right, November is not for sleep… I’ll sleep in December. Back to work, Wrimos!
So, I’m going to make an admission. Part of me would like nothing more than to delete the previous post – the one about my now-failed kickstarter attempt. It was a failure, and failure is never fun to talk about.
I can look at the reasons why it failed (I chose a bad set of dates, and then managed to get bogged down in several other things that prevented me from promoting it properly), I can get wrapped up in the self conscious thoughts that are so tempting (nobody likes me and I will always fail at everything I ever do), and I can hide my head in the sand and delete any reference to the fact that the event ever occurred.
Or, I can call the whole experience a life lesson, learn a lot from it, and carry on.
So, I went ahead and jumped off another metaphorical bridge. This one, for me, was even scarier than putting myself out on a limb and asking for help getting my writing career back on track. I went back to school.
After 12 years away from higher education, I was terrified of going back. I was afraid that I couldn’t do it, that the math would be too hard (Calculus 2). I was afraid that I couldn’t balance it, that learning and teaching and writing and running a household and helping Jason run our own business (the one that pays the bills) would all be too much to coordinate, that it would never work out. I was afraid, to be honest, that we wouldn’t be able to afford it. But I just went down to the school, sat down with a counselor, talked through it, and signed up, promising myself that I’d handle every detail as it came.
And let me tell you, there were details. Still, every day, there are details. I am, in fact, posting this right now rather than doing the math homework that is silently waiting for me, judgement in its stare. But, I kept my promise.
I got my first test back last week, and despite my fear, I scored a 105%. I cried in the car at the note the professor wrote along the top – “Top score in the class, and you’re a mom!!!”
I’m working on a prospectus for a new non fiction project, and I’m hip deep in a novel that is slowly, but surely, coming into being. I’m building a giant Bioshock Big Daddy costume, complete with working drill arm for the boy, and helping my daughter plan a roller derby Halloween party. I’m setting up a new bookkeeping system for the consulting business, and planning out a model for building websites for our clients. I’m having a lot of fun teaching the kids about writing, in preparation for NaNoWriMo, which, of course, they are participating in this year. I am running a group at our local homeschool co op to guide other kids through NaNoWriMo too. I just joined a group at my school for Women in STEM fields, and am eyeing a research internship that I’d really love to take on, but just can’t at this moment in time.
And somewhere in all of that mess, there is failure (the ever growing pile of laundry that I never seem to catch up. the NaNoWriMo meeting this afternoon that I’m not sure anyone is going to come to. the kickstarter.) But also, there is success (The test score I studied so hard to get, the fact that my daughter thinks I’m the coolest mom ever (for a minute) because I surprised her with tickets to the Amanda Palmer show next month, the memories I know that my son will always carry with him of the hours we have spent together building this monstrosity of a costume)
It is easy to count the failures and forget the successes, let them slip aside beneath the pile of self recriminations that are so much louder than the self congratulations that we try not to make. I do it too. All. The. Time.
But this week, as a silly A+ made me cry in the parking lot of a community college, the successes suddenly came into focus for me, and I am going to try to hold on to them, for as long as I can, because they make the failures just a little easier to live with.
Okay, so here it is. My very first attempt at crowdfunding!
As the last year has passed, I have seen deadline after deadline pass for the conventions that I used to love to attend, and always my reaction is ‘Someday soon I want to start going to conventions again.’ Then I remember the effort that goes into setting up and running the booth, and breaking down etc, and know that it isn’t time yet.
So I was surprised when I saw a note about GeekGirlCon’s deadline for 2014 and instead of thinking ‘it isn’t time yet,’ I thought, ‘I should totally go.’ So then I actually read the note and saw that in fact I had just missed the deadline.
So later in the day, when GeekGirlCon tweeted that they were extending the deadline, I thought ‘That’s it. I’m going to submit an application.’ I mean after all, it was fate, right?
Except that the thing about long medical struggles is that they have a way of leaving you on the low end in terms of savings. And even a really successful con doesn’t actually leave you in the financial black until the con is over.
So, then, kickstarter. If I can raise the funds for printing and my table fee, then I will be there with bells on. And if I can’t, then I suppose I’ll take that as a nudge from fate in another direction.
So, if you want to take a look, head over to http://kck.st/1hVVnk7 and think about chipping in. Or just cheer me on.
Okay, okay, so I have been promising a return to the world of spacecraft and time travel and alien/celtic tribal mashups for a while now.
So, in that interest, I’m working on putting together a kickstarter. Which will hopefully lead to a con. And a new book.
Am I scared? ****ing terrified. Which is right where I think my muse wants me to be.
I’ll post more soon. Look for my kickstarter in the next day or so.
If you follow my blog, or know me at all, you’ll know that it has been a long, quiet year for me. I only realized that it was a year last week, when I scheduled an evening outing for the kids that will allow the man muse and me to enjoy our own evening out – the first one since February of last year. I saw the date of our last sign-up on the page, and had to think for a minute. Surely it hasn’t been a year… But it has.
Keeping the personal drama short and sweet, but from last February, when I got my diagnosis, through October was a long, slow uphill climb, and I was just bouncing back, just hitting my stride and just beginning to write again, when in a spectacularly Mary-like move, I tried to learn something new on, dare I say it, roller skates (hazards of having a derby brat for a daughter) and according to the man muse, “crushed my leg like a bundle of twigs.” Anyway, from then til now has been another marathon of recuperation, and I can’t say I always handled the timing of the two with good grace.
The point is that for one entire long, slow year, I have been focused on getting better, on rebuilding other parts of my life, and the writer has suffered. She has been buried beneath the need for early bedtimes, the growing pile of clutter that gathers in any home with children, the impatiently waiting stack of curriculum to be planned, lessons to be proctored. But beneath the weight of those distractions, she waited patiently, and now, at last, as I strap on my roller skates again, as the children play outside on the trampoline, their lessons all caught up, I can feel her beginning to wake.
For two weeks now, my work in progress has whispered to me every night from the moment my head hits the pillow until I am asleep. Last week, for the first time, there was the flash of inspiration that will become an entirely new story. This week, there was that subtle moment in which a new idea falls lightly into place, pulling every weak point in the story into order behind it.
For a year now, I have heard the threads of panic when I sat down to a blank page to find nothing there, nothing waiting, no words, no ideas, no stories – just nothing. Isn’t that, after all, the writer’s biggest fear? Finding that the words have just gone, leaving nothing behind. For a year, I have read blogs and books and had conversations about how writer’s block is a thing of the imagination, about how with enough priming, the pump will yield water, no matter what. What I have learned this year is that sometimes, the writer sleeps while the body heals, and only patience will see her awaken, just like only patience will knit broken bones.
But, as the man muse reminded me, over and again, no matter how much it felt like the bones would never ever be whole again, like I would never feel the reassurance of my own weight, borne by my own legs; nature does have a track record for this sort of thing, and in good time, I did, of course, walk again, then run, then skate (if still a bit cautiously).
And now, as I gird myself with the tools of my craft; with armor of coffee and my typewriter-sword, I throw myself once more into the fray and find that the nothing has gone. “Come for me G’mork, I am Atreyu.” Or… you know, whatever.
As many of you know, in addition to being a somewhat absentee writer (I will get out to more conventions in the coming season, I promise!) I am also a homeschooling mom. In fact, I have found this aspect of my personal life crossing paths with my professional life more and more often since the publication of Parenting For Gameaholics. As it happens, the Venn diagram of homeschoolers (who stray from the norm on educational systems) and science fiction people (who stray from the norm in most ways) has a pretty significant overlap.
In my last convention circuit, as a matter of fact, I was asked to speak on several topics about the overlap of various geeky pastimes and our educational model. (What, they don’t teach D&D in public school?) In so doing, I met a great many homeschoolers who had just never thought to incorporate their own hobbies into curriculum. I have really enjoyed the dialogue that has risen from the various panels that touched on Parenting.
Still, somehow it never occurred to me right away that *my people* in the convention circuit and *my people* in the homeschool community might be one and the same.
To digress (just a little, I promise!) I want to say just a bit about the Family Learning Program (FLP). *Removes Writer Hat* *Puts on Homeschooler Hat* One of the reasons that Seattle has been such a fantastic place for us to pursue the adventure that homeschooling has been, has been the FLP. The city of Seattle lets us take over a community center two days a week, and there is a park, a gym, several really cool classes, and lots and lots of kids. That’s why I don’t have to worry when people ask me whether the kids are missing out on social time, or whether they get to exchange valentines with anyone, or develop crushes, nemeses, etc. Actually, according to Cadence, she felt she got more social time going to the FLP just once a week than she did all week long in public school, since so much more of their time at the FLP is recess (we tend not to take more than two classes a day, just to allow for plenty of social time) Again, I realize this may be way more tangent than any of you are interested in, but I do have a point, I promise…
The point is this: When we found out that the well loved teacher of Gawen’s favorite programming class was moving on (Best of luck to you Max!) I offered to take over his position. After a bit of discussion, I wound up creating a second class as well, in which I will teach Gawen’s favorite thing in the entire world, Minecraft Modding.
For those of you who don’t speak Geek, I’ll translate into plain English – Minecraft is a really well loved computer game in the homeschool community – rarely have I walked the halls of the community center without overhearing an animated conversation between anywhere from 2 to 12 kids discussing this very topic. Modding is the practice of writing new blocks of code in order to change the game. You can add building materials, items, creatures – basically if you can code it, you can make it happen. It’s a fantastic way to get kids thinking about object oriented programming, while they think they are playing a game.
So, I am now an official employee of the City of Seattle, and will be teaching two classes in the fall in an attempt to give a little back to the community that has given us so much.
How does this concern the audience of people who know Mary the author, rather than Mary the mom? I don’t know – if my experiences at panels is any indicator, perhaps many of you are homeschoolers already, or might be considering it. If so, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line – I’m always thrilled to discuss tips and tricks for making homeschool work (whether you’re local or not) Also, I pointed to this site from my bio at the FLP, so maybe some of you know Mary the mom, but not Mary the author, or perhaps you don’t know either of us yet. In which case I don’t suppose I’m making a stellar first impression, what with the whole referring to ourselves in the plural and or third person. But whatever. Whether you got here from sci fi world or homeschool world, you’re probably one of *my people* And my people are used to a little weird.
In my last post, I mentioned a very timely e-mail, reminding me of the world of publishing that has been running along on its own wheels without me these past months.
During last year’s busy convention schedule, I found myself crossing paths several times with NIWA, a group of independent authors who have been working hard to build a community and set of standards in the northwest. They are a talented and devoted bunch, so when I was invited to participate in the Load Local program, I couldn’t have been happier.
Load Local is basically an incentive to link independent authors with the brick and mortar bookstores that are so vital to our industry through e-book sales, a medium that can often bypass the local bookstore entirely. As part of the Load Local program, you’ll be able to purchase and download the electronic version of Yours Is The Earth at Jacobsen’s Books and More in Hillsboro, Oregon. If you’re local, I highly recommend you stop by and check the program out!
I’ll be heading down to do a reading and signing sometime in September – more details on date and time soon, but I hope some of you will stop in and say hello!
I’ve been working on this post in my head for a while now, trying to decide exactly what to share about the last few months of my life. Sharing information about my own inner workings is not really my strong suit (funny, since that’s pretty much what writing is all about, isn’t it?) Still, my personal relationships have grown quiet, my writing career has drawn to a screeching halt, and if I want to reclaim my life, I guess it has to start somewhere. This is as good a place as any.
While it’s important to me to keep my personal issues and my writing career separate to some degree, some personal issues overshadow your career, whether you decide to allow it or not. For me, starting last summer, (not coincidentally the time when I attended my last conventions) that’s what began to happen with me.
Every day, I felt a little more run down than the day before, and the headaches that I wrote off as eye strain began to eat away days of my life. Little symptoms quietly became not-so-little. Still, it didn’t occur to me to see a doctor, until my joints began to hurt.
By the time the doctor ran the blood work that set us on the right path to diagnosing what was going on, I could barely type, could hardly sit at the computer screen and couldn’t fathom summoning the energy to make my kids lunch, let alone create something new. A part of me felt as though perhaps my writing career had passed me by, and I didn’t even have the energy to grieve it.
We got the blood results back, and after several other tests that led us in all the wrong directions, this one was a little more conclusive, and it indicated an autoimmune disorder that I had never even heard of called Scleroderma, or Systemic Sclerosis.
I was terrified. Bad enough to face the fact that I was sick – not cold/flu sick, but seriously and undeniably sick. It’s easy to fool yourself, especially with symptoms so insidious and stealthy in their commandeering of your life. Now I had to face that I would forever continue to be sick. Always. Meds every day for the rest of my life kind of sick.
I know, the last thing we are supposed to do in this age of information surplus is google an illness – any illness. But what else to do when the doctors were saying unfamiliar words about my test results? You can trust me when I tell you that our friend google had some pretty scary things to say about Scleroderma.
My life began to feel like an ever shrinking window through which I could only watch everyone around me passing me by. For a heartbeat, in the scope of things, I was suddenly certain that the window would only continue to shrink until it disappeared altogether. It was a difficult road to walk.
Then, however, there were meds. And more appointments. And more meds. And studies. And more meds. And slowly, but steadily, the window began to grow larger again.
So. Here we are. A life, reclaimed, if a bit scratched and chipped, from the wreckage of a rough year. My daughter wrote me a note in which she referred to ‘The New and Improved Mom,’ and I am finding myself reminding my son more every day that he doesn’t need to be quite to careful of my health anymore. My husband, the stoic and ever-constant man-muse has rediscovered his smile. Suddenly, the house is clean again, without any concerted effort on my part, and I can walk to and from the elementary school without pause. For a while, while I waited for the meds to do their slow and careful work, it was enough.
But behind the closed door of my office, there was a moss green IBM Selectric 2 that gathered dust and waited patiently. Several times a day, I have paused at that doorway, and thought about entering before passing by, promising myself that one day soon I would be ready. That I would know when it was time.
In the same pattern that lost me my life, little things becoming big things, I think that the universe is telling me that it is time. Last night saw a long heartfelt discussion with the man-muse about which direction my ‘reboot’ might take. I’m packing up my first paperback sale in long months to mail off, and though it is not to a new reader, but instead to a dear friend, it reminds me nonetheless of where my heart is. This very morning, as I contemplated these things, a new opportunity came to me, unexpected though very welcome, for a new venue for my ebooks.
Wrapping this new fact into the fabric of my life is not easy. This illness is a part of me now, and though the meds have made it far more manageable, I will never again be able to stop managing this disease process, tugging and squeezing at my life in order to make it fit the shape that the disease dictates. I don’t like it. But I can do it.
Writing, after all, has never been an easy thing to fit into the shape of any life. Having kids, a marriage, a job, school – there are always shapes in our lives that writing has to move to accommodate, and as I find my stride in the new skin I am wearing, I know that this is no different. I will make it fit, because I cannot do otherwise.
So today, before I sleep (even if after the laundry and the dishes) I will power up the Selectric, and hear its weighty hum, the warm breath of ink and moving parts soft against my face, and I will commit words to page, for the first time in six months. They probably won’t be good ones, but they will be the first to be written by this new me, and that carries a beauty all its own. For today, it is enough.
Once upon a time, in the long long ago, I used to love writing exercises. When I had a newborn baby (both times) and couldn’t quite devote my whole mind to writing, and again later when my back surgery put me in too much pain and on too many heavy-duty meds to feel like I could write anything of substance, I kept myself moving forward by pulling out my various prompt books and throwing together 500 – 1000 word flights of fancy.
However, as I grew as a writer, I couldn’t help but feel like I sort of grew out of the kinds of exercises I enjoyed the most. See, I have this little blue book, a wonderful book called The 3 a.m. Epiphany, by Brian Kiteley. It is full of fantastic exercises that force you to push your own boundaries (for example, one of my favorite resulting pieces was from an exercise called ‘The Reluctant I,’ in which you have to write a piece, in the first person, but only use two first person pronouns (I,me,my,etc)). They’re a lot of fun, the only problem is that trying to accomplish such a specific result, in a short piece and a short period of time didn’t really leave me a lot of room for the world-building that is such an important component of the speculative fiction that I really love to write. All of my results wound up firmly set in the mundane world. A fight between lovers, a mother watching her children playing in the yard, a high school girl who didn’t fit in. Bleh. I started to realize that the exercises, and their resulting flash pieces, were boring me out of my mind.
Eventually, the book went back on to the shelf, I found other ways to warm up my brain. But I missed the challenge that those exercises presented, and I always promised myself I’d find a way to make them more fun again.
Flash forward to this past Sunday afternoon. It was a glorious sunny afternoon, a swingset in the yard and a brand new, face-meltingly cute puppy scampering around looking for someone to throw her a ball so of course, the children were bored. I was using my most dulcet and loving of motherly tones to urge them to stop interrupting my precious video game time with their whining, when I remembered a blog post I had seen earlier.
Over at terribleminds, the funny and scarily talented Chuck Wendig has been playing with a new way to toy with the written word – it involves lists of topics to be mashed up and a d20. Go, check it out real quick, I’ll wait – The Epic Game of Aspects Redux
See? Cool, right? And, before he saved my little blue book, Chuck saved my video game time (a regular knight in shining armor!) because I had the children each roll a ginormous d20 that sits in the living room, and told them to go outside to play their mashups. After a handful of re-rolls (I know, I know, I’m much too easy a DM) they rushed outside to play games involving poisonous snakes, post-apocalyptic landscapes, and ‘sins of the father.’ (As a side note, I found it terribly amusing to try to explain that concept to my 7 year old, and then somewhat shaming when he finally caught on with the words, “Like Global Warming?” I suppose that’s one way to interpret it…)
Anyway. They had so much fun rolling and re-rolling and mashing up concepts, that I decided that perhaps I would give it a shot after all. I sat down at my writing desk (only after a well deserved Sunday afternoon of Dragon’s Dogma, which is slightly meh, but I’ll take what I can get until the magical and far off day when Skyrim DLC comes to PS3) and spied my sad, neglected little exercise book, and finally had my way to make the exercises in it meld into the kind of writing that is fun (and thus productive) for me to do.
So. What’s the takeaway here? I suppose first and foremost, is that if your writing exercises aren’t entertaining, you should ask yourself why, and look for ways to remedy that. Writing isn’t always fun. There are long patches of trekking through the desert, where it feels like you have to drag every word out of the aether against its will, where you hate all of your characters and all of your plotlines and you want to invent a particularly evil villain to just blow the whole thing to pieces. Exercises, warm-ups, whatever you want to call the writing that helps you to prime the pump, are awesome because they let you jump from the honeymoon ‘this-story-is-awesome’ phase, straight to the ‘hell-yeah-bitches-I-finished-something’ phase, with none of the confusion and self loathing of the desert in the middle.
It might take lots of hits and misses to find what your pump-priming method looks like, and it’s likely a moving target, that will change from year to year, from week to week or even mood to mood, but when you find the perfect magic ritual that helps you unlock the fun of writing, even when your book is making you want to smash your head into your keyboard, it is an awesome and powerful thing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ramble for 700 words in the subgenre of Magic Realism, with a conflict involving a Quest for Someone and the element of Flying Monkeys. The goal (from the blue book) is to write about ghosts exploring their existence in and outside of time. Try to get bored writing that.
As usual, it has been much too long between posts. This summer has disappeared in a flurry of family visits, camping trips and other glorious slacking off. Most recently, we have been focused on the search for the newest member of the Sturgeon clan. (More on that with pictures of face melting cuteness when Zoe comes home next week)
In official news, there has been little over the summer, but there have been a few tidbits of note:
Geek Girl Con – Geek Girl is one of my favorite cons, and though I neglected to blog right away about my weekend (like the terrible blogger that I am) it was a fantastic con for me. I met lots of great people (including Sidekick Quests creator James Stowe, who graciously agreed to join my family gaming panel, and Halo Engine Programmer Corrinne Yu, with whom I spent a lovely hour at the media signing table.) My panel went remarkably well, and I sold enough books to help offset my Westercon losses. The kids had a blast, in the game room as well as at several panels, and C, in particular, made a fixture of herself in the dealer’s room, charming free samples out of so many unsuspecting vendors that she had to prevail upon the people in the EA room to give her a reusable bag to carry her spoils. She came away with more swag that she knew what to do with, including a couple of new video games, a bunch of night lights, way too much candy, roughly a year’s worth of handmade tea, and all kinds of other stuff that now keeps her room cluttered as befits her pre-adolescent stature. All in all, a great con (probably C and G’s favorite for kid friendly-ness) and, just like last year, I left already looking forward to next year.
It also bears some brief discussion that Geek Girl in particular has achieved so many of its goals as a con. I watched young girl after young girl stop to ask Corrinne Yu for advice about their educations and career choices, saw lots of little girls strutting their cosplay with pride (including my own), and lots of guys too who didn’t eschew the con as beneath them for being too girly. But perhaps the most meaningful way that this con has achieved its goal is this: The community has been alight lately with talk of harassment at cons; women who are touched inappropriately or made to feel like objects for daring to enter a world that is not theirs. Those of us who frequent lots of cons usually just sigh at these discussions, knowing that it is true, because *all of us* have experienced it. I am no exception, and I have my own set of stories, both of being made to feel unwelcome at a con because of my gender, and of being made to feel as though taking liberties with me was purchased along with membership fees (though I want to stress that the perpetrators are always a vast minority, and I encounter so many more people who are earnest and kind and in the words of the oft-quoted Wil Wheaton, not dicks at all.) I won’t recount those stories here, and I will admit to never having felt overly traumatized by my own adventures in creeper-land. (Buy me a beer sometime, and I will spill them all.) Anyway, all that being said, Geek Girl is the one con where that behavior has been completely absent. No one (in my humble experience) gets quizzed to prove that they are ‘true geeks’ and no one gets cornered or groped. Not only that, security is everywhere. You can’t look down an aisle without seeing a yellow shirt, or a helpful storm trooper (I know, ironic, right?) In fact, Rain City Superheroes acted as honorary security as well, looking out for con-goers and even staying late to patrol the dealer’s floor. And while I won’t go as far as to say that I have ever felt unsafe at any Seattle con (my experience in that vein has been pretty good) I will say that I felt better about letting C wander as she would, knowing that she was under the continual watchful eye of those security teams and an extremely supportive and helpful community. And that’s all I’ll say about that. (Ever notice how shitty I am at doing ‘brief’?)
Future Cons – After my experiences through the summer, I have come to another important decision. I have loved my time spent in the dealer’s rooms, meeting lots of the people who read science fiction, and even, most recently, people who read my own work. I love signing every book that goes out, and have perfected the art of answering the inevitable “What’s it about?” However, I think it may be time for a change. Because I also love cons. I love panel programming, and parties, and hearing the guests of honor speak and standing in line to get my ratty paperbacks signed, and while I have been behind my booth, I have missed all of that (My well loved copy of David Brin’s Glory season left sadly unsigned when a Saturday line was too long to leave the booth unmanned). So, I’m hoping to find my way to the best of both worlds, by participating in more panel programming, and moving away from the dealer’s room. My books will still be available for purchase, both on the website and at various booksellers’ booths wherever I am speaking (I’ll make sure to post the locations before any cons I visit), and even at the media signing tables where I’ll still be doing scheduled signings.
New stuff – As I edge away from the dealer’s booths, I find that I’m throwing my effort back into my more serious work, and I’m planning on shifting even further in that direction in the coming months. There are inevitable gaps that come in the writing of a bigger work, weeks where I let a new idea or a major character change breathe and back-burner a bit. Over the last year, these gaps have been where my self-published work was born. The short stories that comprise ‘Yours is the Earth,’ the novella that helped me flesh out back story on a novel, the musings that came together into the gaming guide; they were all breathers, and rather than create any more, for the moment at least, I am going to target the publishing world. There are so many amazing magazines out there, large and small, and so it is my goal to finish a few short stories this fall, and rather than gathering them for a collection of short work, toss them into the stream of the publishing world and see what comes of it. I’ll keep you updated on where to look!
New Blog Content? – I really want to blog more often. However, a day-in-the-life blog style doesn’t always lend to having lots to say. So much of the time, the only news on the writing front looks like: “Head down, slogging through the word count. Yay for progress.” Which is all great, but not very interesting. I read lots of blogs. Some are journal-like, like marysturgeon.net, only with more frequent announcements of note, some have themes, like how to be a better writer (Love love love terribleminds.com for that), I could even follow the sales of my gaming guide, and blog about how to make mini-gamers of your kids. However, a new kind of bloggery has recently drawn my attention – the re-read/watch/whatever. ST:TNG, Dr. Who, Wheel of Time, Ice and Fire; there are tons of beloved sci fi/fantasy series that I loved and can’t re-experience as often as I’d like. By reading a ‘re-experience’ type blog, I get to appreciate the series all over again, remember all the details that I loved the first time around, and generally (in the best incarnations) also get the perspective of the blogger. The eye-rolling at the flaws and camp, the awe of what has been done well, and the general collective squee-ing that fans do when we get together. As a blogger, it’s a great way to have lots to discuss, it would push me – both to blog, and to re-read an old favorite, and it would give me a chance to throw some love out into the interwebs for a series that meant a lot to me. For a while though, I struggled with what I might choose, for my re-read. I thought about Firefly (too short!), or Dune (too long?) – I thought about Dr. Who, but it’s being done everywhere, and I am ashamed to admit that I’m still working through my first watch of that geek mainstay, and to write a re-watch, it really should be a *re*watch. Then, as I reorganized bookshelves, I realized that I needed a massive amount of shelf space for one collection, a collection that was well worth the space, Katharine Kerr’s Deverry Cycle. Idly, I thought, I would *really* like to re-read that, if I only had the time. So. I will *make* the time to pick up Daggerspell and throw myself back into the adventures of Jill, Rhodry and Nevyn, and then muse about it here. If you read them, and loved them, we can dish together. If you haven’t read them, hopefully what you read here will convince you to go and pick them up, because they are a lot of fun.
So. With that, I will get back to work. Look for another post in the near future though. News in the works includes: Bookstores soon to be carrying my titles, panel programming by yours truly, and of course, the arrival of Zoe!