Travel, World Fantasy Con, Writing

World Fantasy Con 2014

I am recovered at last (more or less) from my journey to the World Fantasy Con in Arlington, Virginia and ready to tell you all about it. So settle in with your tea.

Hubby and I arrived on Thursday afternoon. He planned to do the DC tourist thing, while I spent my time socializing and attending events. I met up with my VP 17 tribe, and met in person some of the people I see on the Codex online group. Also, I attended a gathering of the people who took Mary Robinette Kowal’s classes, and met IRL some of those who where in my class last year. It was so amazing to see these all people in the flesh instead of in a tiny still photo or a webcam image on your screen. And to have conversations with them in real time.

I went to a few panels each day, as well as attending the opening ceremonies, ice cream social, and part of the awards ceremony (had to leave to catch my flight home). Let me tell you, there are some amazing people in the spec fic field, and listening to them debate and ponder and discuss topics is lots of fun. And sometimes very educational. Also, these people are nice. Really nice. Toastmaster Mary Robinette Kowal is so pleasant and easy to speak with. GoH Chelsea Yarbro Quinn has the most amazing, high-wattage smile–it seemed to light up the area around her. SFWA president Steven Gould is very down-to-earth and congenial. I could go on and on, naming those you’ve heard of as well as those that perhaps you haven’t, but you get the picture. It was a whole lot of fun.

So this was a very different WFC for me in two ways: 1) spouse accompaniment, and 2) I know folks to socialize with! This latter bit was the most awesome thing (not that spouse isn’t awesome, but he already knows that–that’s why he’s “spouse,” of course!). I’ve been to two WFC previously (Toronto and Columbus, OH), and this was my favorite simply by virtue of knowing people there.

OK, that might sound simplistic, but really it only reiterates something I’ve thought all along, something that is difficult for some and easy for others. That is that your “tribe” or the social community of writers that you belong to can make all the difference. They can  support you when times are tough, cheer with you when things are great, offer advice and knowledge. And you help them, too. It’s a two-way street. Go read this blog post (I’ve linked to it before) by Kameron Hurley. If you don’t have time for that, just read this small bit:

“One of the most powerful things I ever did for my career, and my continued sanity, was to get to know other writers facing the same challenges. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook, supplemented with the occasional convention, have connected me with incredible people willing to share their own fraught publishing journeys. What stunned me more than anything else is how each of us thought our experiences were entirely unique, when it turned out we shared many of the same fears and frustrations.

“What will keep me writing far longer than I expected is not, necessarily, my passion, my talent, or the romantic story of how stringing together words will help me transcend the mortal plane. No, the deeper I get into the publishing game, the more I realize that what will keep me going when everything crumbles around me is the incredible support, advice, and commiseration I’ve gotten from other writers.”

So, my takeaway from WFC is that if you are a writer, hie thee to a writing community–in person, online, both–whatever works for you. Find somewhere and some people with whom you feel comfortable and wiggle down into the muck. Make yourself a home. You’ll never regret it.

Magic of the Everyday, Nature, Writing

A Miscellany of Topics, Wrapped into One Post

So much to share, so little time (before travel for WFC, that is!).  =-)

photo 5
Sign from the front of our neighborhood.

Let’s get started. This Halloween was our first in our new home. We were told that the community here is rather Halloween-crazy, and that, because of logistics and such, lots of the folk who live in the sparsely-populated countryside flock to our neighborhood with their kids to trick-or-treat. So much that they have cops directing people to park up front, and not allowing cars on the streets.

It’s all true. And it was awesome! In just under two hours, we gave out over 600 pieces of candy (don’t know exactly how many, since we ate some early, then bought more to make up the difference…it may well have been more than this). There were lines of kids coming up to our porch at times. And yet, it was all very polite and friendly. From tiny tots to teens, most of the kids said “Thanks,” or even “Happy Halloween!” The costumes were amazing. And our neighbors, wow! Some of them went all out on decorating. It made me feel like a slacker with a only couple strands of lights, a spider web, and a pumpkin.

Shortly before Halloween, our friend came to visit. We wanted to show him the alligators at Payne’s Prairie, but the La Chua trail was closed for some work. We went to a different trail, one we hadn’t walked yet. And lo and behold, coming towards us on the dike-trail, is a small herd of wild horses. I mean, really, how often do you get to see this? I was agog.

Moving off into the swampy bits.
Moving off into the swampy bits.
Lead stallion still on the trail.
Lead stallion still on the trail.
This is how close they were!
This is how close they were!

The horses were being pushed by a park ranger in a golf cart as she tried to get them off the trail (they’d come up on the trail and trapped other visitors out at the end, which is why the rangers had been called out–thanks to the glory of cell phones), but they weren’t budging, only walking along the trail towards us. The lead stallion stared at us, wary and defiant. And simply gorgeous. Whoever says, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away” had it all wrong–they didn’t have to do any dragging. I was ready to willingly follow them anywhere, they were so beautiful. (Yes, my inner 12-year old is still alive and well, thank you!) Eventually, they moved aside, caught between the ranger and us, and the ranger chatted with us a bit before moving on, leaving us to appreciate the horses a bit longer before turning back.

OK, now for the writers out there: Are you looking for some cool prompts? Maybe a daily one? Check out The Daily Imaginator. It’s a part of The Brainery Writing Workshops, and I’ve been pleased with most of the prompts I’ve seen there. They really get the brain creaking into motion and then humming along with delight as it ponders and pokes at the prompts. (I haven’t tried the workshops yet, but they look interesting. If you try them, let me know what you think.)

OK, that’s about it for now. As November descends on us, darkness increases. Winter’s coming (at least in the northern hemisphere). Think warm.

plain silliness, Quote of the Week, Uncategorized

Quote(s) of the Week

This week, something different. Instead of a single quote, I’m going to give you my out-of-context quotes from World Fantasy Con. I think these are pretty darn funny, and someone has asked for these already, so here we go. As always, feel free to tell me what you think.

“I’m much funnier in later drafts.”

“This is a panel about a state of confusion, not a state of certainty.”

“Any novel can be improved with the addition of talking cats.”

Person A: “Revision is a beautiful thing. If you’re a brain surgeon, you don’t get a second chance to get it right.”
Person B: “Not on the same brain, anyway.”

“Where does ‘strangeness’ end and ‘fantasy’ begin?”

“You’re really big on cell phones.”

“When I wrote my sequel, I took breathing into account.”

Question: “How much sex and violence is okay before it’s not YA anymore?”
Answer: “As long as it’s not with animals, you’re okay.”

“I do this personally, on my couch, in my pajamas.”

“Friends don’t let friends use Smashwords.”

“No one expects the oboe solo.”

“I’ve lived with vampires my whole life. (smiles) You know, the guys next door.”

So there you have it: WFC 2012 in a few short quotes. Now don’t you feel like you were there?


World Fantasy Con and Rodent Update

I’m just back from WFC 2012 in Toronto — well, almost. I got back last night, but my hubby merely tucked me into bed as I babbled on about Moving Wells, possessed elevators, too many books, and how good maple whisky is. Do I need to say I had a great time? I do? Well, I had a fantastic time.

I met new people, starting with those in the caravan driving north. I’d heard of Lucy Snyder (a founding member of WriteShop), but as she’s a member-emeritus now, I’ve never had the opportunity to really speak with her before. Yes, she’s smart and funny and a good person. She brought along another writer I’d never met, Linda Robinson. Linda was truly kind to me, the ‘new writer.’ We spent part of an evening talking about writing, characters and real life in the hallway outside the packed and loud Con Suite. It was great, and very much appreciated. It made me feel like an insider for a change–thanks Linda!

What else to say? There is so much. Listening to music performed by Charles de Lint and his wife and other extremely talented musician/authors–amazing. Seeing the glow of newly-crowned “authors” whose first novels they proudly showing off made me giddy with them; talking Clarion with  former attendees (I’m still a hopeful!) made me eager for submissions to open again; sharing table-space and anecdotes with others–both famous and not–in the Con Suite simply made me glad to be human and be there. I loved the chemistry I glimpsed at work between Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, John Joseph Adams, Aliette de Bodard (who I actually couldn’t see as JJA blocked my view of her), and Mary Robinette Kowal (sorry, I’m not linking to them–if you don’t know them, I suggest you Google these people, and soon!) at the EPIC release party. It made me remember all the joy I get out of writing, why I write to begin with–which was a great thing to recall, just then. Lavie Tidhar’s acceptance of his Best Novel award moved me to tears. (He took the award in hand, said “Thanks,” into the mic and was gone again, too overcome to speak.)

There was more, so much more. But I’ll stop here. You get the idea, and I need to process so much yet. And then I need to sort through the stack of books I brought home… .

Ah, but first, I can hear you asking about the ‘Rodent’ portion of this headline. Are we infested with mice? Did Tribbles overwhelm the Con? No to both. When I got to Toronto, I hit wifi and checked my email. There it was: an email accepting me into the Cleveland-area spec fic writing group called the Cajun Sushi Hamsters! Weeeeeee! What a great way to start the long weekend.

But now, it’s over. I’m home, and a rejection has come through into my inbox. But that’s okay, because it’s a big, beautiful world out there, and I’m only writing a tiny part. Fame and fortune go to some few, but to all who write goes the glory of the written word. Happy writing.

Nature, Personal Life, Uncategorized

Goodbye, Sandy!

The sweet sound of silence. There is no wind throbbing and shrieking outside our windows, no thuds or booms of things falling. No sirens cut the air. There is also no clamor from the generator that powers our building’s locks, garage doors and common areas. It’s the sound of safety, of security.

Our power went out Monday at 9pm. A few earlier flickerings sent me to charge up the phone and computers; after all, the storm was only just beginning. I also checked that the flashlights were where they were supposed to be, just in case.  Turns out, it’s good to be prepared.

Power came on again last night at 6pm, to mass acclaim and hugs all around from the building’s stalwart residents, most of whom had hunkered down in the party room with bottles of wine. Not that we had it all bad. There was no heat, that is true. But the building, stout masonry that it is, holds heat in. Leaving our apartment door open to the hallway let the heat trickle through our apartment (we faced windward, so cold leached in our windows–brr!). And the water heater in the basement kept hot water going the whole time. There isn’t much a hot shower can’t make better each morning.

Additionally, our Party Room (a former restaurant on the ground floor) is wired into the generator, so there people charged cellphones and laptops, had (usually dim but now remarkably, wonderfully bright) electrical lighting. I carried down a crockpot each morning full of things from our fridge and freezer, so by dinner there was hot stew by candlelight–so romantic.

The 2 gallon fish tank I moved into the hallway, where it was much warmer than our apartment. The fish (Sheldon and Quatre Cinq) came out just fine. Sheldon was pleased though when his filter started running again. For some reason this betta is convinced the running water is his friend.

*This* is our normally calm, shallow river?

While around us, bad things were happening, inside it was convivial. Those who remained after the first night checked on one another. Maintenance staff came in for short hours each day, and they left the office (which had heat!) open for us to warm up in. Miraculously, no one died in the area. Boats and docks cut free from the shore, washed downriver and disappeared under the incredible waves where lake and river met. Trees fell, power lines came down, power poles came down and emergency crews worked non-stop. I was “discomforted.” I can live with that.

Why they closed the Shoreway…

I’m leaving for World Fantasy Con today, and it’s nice to know that my hubby will be safe and warm while I’m gone, not cold and starving in the dark as he throws out spoiled food.

conventions, Personal Life

Prepping for World Fantasy Con 2012

I’m preparing for World Fantasy Con 2012: pulling out the suitcase, deciding what to pack, what to wear. I’m almost always cold, so I pack layers and sweaters–thick, bulky clothes that don’t like to pack nicely. And scarves, to keep my neck warm. Yes, really, I love scarves. (Looking for me? I’ll be wearing a scarf around my neck; there won’t be that many of us, I’m sure, so your odds of finding me this way are quite good.) I try to pack light, but with sweaters, it’s more difficult to take a small bag. It makes the ‘efficient traveler’ in me grumpy, but it seems I’ll be taking a wheeled bag, not my shoulder bag.

I downloaded the program guide from the website today, printed it out and have taken a first look at the panels and readings. Now I have to decide what I must see, what I can bear to miss. Lots of wonderful things are offered up this year, and lots of wonderful panelists, as well. Who is on the panel is often as important to me as the panel’s topic. An author I love, one who’s work really speaks to me, will draw me in even if the topic seems a bit of a stretch. I’m counting on the fact that she/he will put a spin on things and show me things I didn’t know I needed to know–until I heard it.

My Columbus writer’s group is banding together to caravan up to Toronto. They’ll pick me up along the way (another reason I’m lamenting a larger suitcase!) and we’ll all be jolly fighting the effects of Hurricane Sandy that, even now, have stalled rain and winds over the region. Oh what joy, seven writers (or spouses) road-tripping in a storm. Sounds like a great setting for a horror/comedy story, don’t you think?

I’ll be attending the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon–the first one I’ve ever attended. I have no idea what the dress code may be, but I’m guessing not too formal, since a) it’s a luncheon, b) I’m not a nominee, and c) there’s a five-plus hour road-trip on the backside. Still, there’s an allure to being able to dress nicely. Where did this come from? I grew up a tomboy, and still love playing in the dirt, but I dearly love having an occasion and reason to dress up. Packing compactly means no ‘wasted’ clothes…sigh…so don’t expect to see me too fancily clad. Guess I’ll save that for the day someone I know is up there, accepting an award. 🙂

I’ll try to get another post in before I leave, but if not, Happy Halloween everyone!

conventions, Writing

Making CON-tact

It’s convention time! I know, I know, I missed not only Chicon but DragonCon, too. But I am going to ConText 25, a science fiction workshop held every year in Columbus, OH.  This year’s dates are Sept. 28-29-30, 2012.

I went for the first time last year, not sure what I’d find. It’s a small convention. But that means you can see the panelists, can shake Mike Resnick’s hand at a coffee-klatsch, meet and talk to people in the halls. Check out the “Entertaining Guests” link; it’s pretty awesome!

Next up is World Fantasy Con, November 1-4, 2012, in Toronto. I’ll be there soaking up the good vibe, meeting people, socializing for the sake of writing (honest, it’s all work-related!). If any of you will be at either of these events, look for me and say ‘Hi.’ Many folks who leave comments here, or “like” the postings, are blogging under pen names (blog names? whatever!), so I’d be unlikely to recognize your real names. Still, I’d love to meet.

This talk of conventions leaves me wondering: what do you go to conventions for? Is it to meet famous writers? To meet editors who may publish your work, or agents to represent your novel? To socialize with your peers, with professional acquaintances, or far-flung writing friends? To hang out with the ‘big league?’ Or for some reason I haven’t hit upon?

For me, it’s two-fold. First and foremost, I socialize and remind myself that, while I labor in isolation, I am part of a larger spec fic writing community. This sense of community, of belonging, then fills me with hope, and that spurs my creativity. Also, the sheer amount of creativity in some of those rooms is mind-boggling. How can I not be awed, then aspire to shine my two-cents’ worth of creativity in response? And let’s face it, some of that creativity’s got to rub off, right?

And then I have to admit, I do love the panels and workshops. There is so darn much to learn, and those authors and editors on the panels share so much with the audience, it’s informational overload. Seriously, after the 2010 WFC, I sat dazed for two days afterwards. It was shocking, it was bliss, it was exhausting!

Which leads to my only piece of advice: after a con, give yourself time to decompress, to recuperate, and to process all you’ve seen and heard. Then, get back to it and write!