Post-Con and Nano Musings

I have survived the con again! Yay, go me. It was actually pretty relaxing, all told, except for panel nerves, a lot of which probably stemmed from the fact that I was the youngest person on all my panels, usually by a matter of decades.

(The moderator on my last panel had sold her first book the year before I was born.)

That’s kind of MileHiCon in a nutshell, though. It gets a lot of major speculative authors, but a lot of them, especially the science fiction ones, have been in the business for a long time. The average age of that subset is probably 70. And you get a lot of attendees who match that subset, because they’ve been reading those authors forever.

And then you have a lot of younger attendees, people in their teens and early to mid-20s, who grew up with the con because their parents dragged them along, and they have their own events and stuff, including a Harry Potter academy and so forth.

But I had a good time, and I wrote quite a lot on my anthology story (which is running slightly longer than I anticipated) and I drew some pictures and plotted out some children’s book series. Landsquid needs another friend, but I can’t think of anything. Turtleduck’s kind of hard to draw (I’ve never had success in the leg department–maybe if I quit trying to do duck legs and give her turtle legs? I can draw turtle legs) and I would really need three characters for a picture book. I came up with a stealth rhino this morning (essentially a rhino with tiger stripes) but my husband says it’s not weird enough.

Shall continue to ponder that.

The very last panel of the con was called “Nanowrimo Support Group” and I ended up going to that, not because I plan to do Nano, but because I have done it for many years (this would be my 16th if I’d done it consecutively) and thought I could offer support. It was mostly us just hanging out, offering tips and talking about potential write-ins (everyone except one person had done it before), but it was still nice, and it got me thinking about Nano.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Nano. I don’t quite love the monstrosity it’s turned into over the years, but in those early years, when it was only a couple thousand of us, I got a lot–friends, stories, skills–out of it. I still love the idea, and I think it’s a great way to get going if you want to start writing.

(As a bit of background, I learned about Nano in 2002, joined in 2003, and did it every year between 2003 and 2012. I won all but twice, my first and last years–my first one I suffered a concussion and a death flu, and the last one I had a four-month-old, my first, and only did it because it was my 10th anniversary. I also did it and won in 2014, but have not done it since.)

And I would be lying if, while I was sitting there in that room, with those other Nanoers, I told you that I wasn’t tempted. But it almost feels like I’ve outgrown Nano, or it’s outgrown me. It’s harder to do Nano if you have a serious project with a serious deadline, or if you’re editing, or if you’re co-writing, or a number of other situations.

Still tempting, though. And maybe I’ll be in a position again sometime where it will make sense to do it again.

How was your weekend, Squiders? Thoughts about Nano?

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It’s Go Time!

I just want to let you all know that you are absolutely no help at all. 😛

(I’m not quite done with my anthology story, so that answers the question about what I’ll do for at least part of the time. And maybe I’ll bring a sketchbook.)

MileHiCon starts at noon today! It feels like it’s come up very fast. It is a week earlier than normal this year (wonder why?), which might be part of it. But it feels like it sprang out of nowhere, all the same. Like…it’s been on my radar, but I still had less time to prepare than normal, if you know what I mean. Or maybe I’m crazy.

I’m doing a panel today on self-publishing and doing digital books versus physical books. I’ve been given a couple of moderator questions (Are physical books going away? When?) but the most part I’m not sure what exactly we’re covering. Ah, well, I have almost a decade of experience at this point, so I shall probably be fine.

(Sunday’s panel is about editing–Machete vs. Scalpel, they’ve called it–and there’s no provided questions for that one, but, again, lots of experience so I should probably be able to muddle through without looking like an idiot.)

Got to get some things done this morning before I head out, so I’d better run.

Quick list of things to bring:

  • business cards (more editing than writing)
  • books
  • card reader
  • notebook
  • laptop
  • permits
  • water bottle
  • snack

I’ll see you guys next week, hopefully still in one piece. And if you’re local and come by MileHiCon, stop by and say hi! I’m normally some place in the atrium when not doing panels.

Free Time!

One of the things I look forward to the most about MileHiCon is having some time to myself. Aside from some evening commitments and the panels I’m on (and the book signing time), I’ve got the whole weekend to myself, and I can do whatever I want with it.

And MileHiCon has traditionally been very productive for me. Admittedly, when I was chained to the Turtleduck Press table in Author’s Row, I could get a ton done, and that’s not as true now that I’m free (freeee ahahahaha), but last year at least still proved quite useful.

(Like many conventions, MileHiCon has ~50 minute panels that start on the hour. So there’s about ten minutes between panels where the majority of the con population is meandering about when you deal with people, and then for the other 50 minutes you twiddle your thumbs, or a few people wander through. That’s a lot of thumb twiddling.)

I tend to get overwhelmed at panels, so I don’t go to that many, no matter the convention (even when I go to writers’ conferences where there’s a ton of stuff to do, every now and then I skip a session to recharge). I’ll hit the artist’s alley (I love the artist’s alley and seeing all the cool stuff people have come with) and the vendors’ hall a few times, maybe watch some anime if something looks fun, watch the costume contest.

That still leaves a lot of time.

When I was table-chained, I often got some editing done, drew pictures for the blog, wrote short stories, etc. (The Internet does not really work in the hotel, so I have to plan ahead to make sure I can do what I want to do. But, on the other hand, I am not distracted by silliness.) Even last year, I wrote a short story and managed to get feedback on it throughout the weekend.

So, knowing that I will have several hours to do whatever this weekend…what do I do?

(Well, if this anthology story doesn’t finish itself a little faster, I’ll have to finish it there.)

It’s one of those times when there’s too much possibility. I could do so many things. How do I pick? How do I focus? Do you do that, squiders, where there are so many opportunities you end up getting nothing done because you flit from one thing to the next?

Because I do. And it’s problematic.

If we go off of priorities…well, anthology story. Hopefully done before the end of the week, and so no longer an option. Siri has the Sekrit Project and so there’s nothing I can do there. I’m into the climax and conclusion on space dinosaurs, so maybe that? I’m probably not going to want to write a short since I’m coming off the anthology story. (Although at a projected 10-11K, it’s not really a “short” story. We shall consider the matter still open.)

(I may need to have a short done by Nov 1 anyway, actually. Yes, we shall keep that on the table.)

I could also work on some things I’ve been wanting to do that keep getting eaten by other things, like work on potential new series (including a picture book and a chapter book one) or poke at the nonfiction books and see what I need to do to get them ready to be published. (I think there’s one more book to be written, but that’s kind of why I need to evaluate where I am.)

So, options:

  1. Space Dinosaurs
  2. Short story
  3. Children’s books
  4. Other series?
  5. Nonfiction books

Hm. Five options, and only three days. Decisions, decisions. A short would need to be plotted before hand (see, no Internet, so I won’t be able to access my idea file at the hotel). Nonfiction probably also needs Internet, so that might be out. What would you do, if you were me?

MileHiCon Prep and Nerves

My sister gave me chocolate for my birthday, which is both a blessing and a curse.

We’re about a week out from MileHiCon, squiders, which is a scifi/fantasy literary convention that I like to make the rounds at each year. You’ve probably heard me talk about it before. For a few years I had a table in the author’s row for Turtleduck Press, which ended up not being much fun (stuck at table, terrible habit of comparing sales to other presses/authors, etc.) so last year I struck out on my own, which is the plan again this year.

But I still feel a little weird about. I mean, I had a MUCH better time last year and I don’t regret abandoning the author’s row. But I haven’t really done much since last year. I’ve had some short stories published in zines, anthologies, and websites, but nothing too major, and nothing I’ve had any sort of ownership over. Sure, next year is looking better–a Fractured World anthology and the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin, as well as some other potential projects–but this year is pretty sparse.

So it feels weird to be doing something that is essentially marketing while having nothing to market. I mean, there’s still reasons to go–networking, to see people I like, to have fun, books, etc. (To stare longingly at the things in the art show I can’t afford. To buy awesome book-themed tea.) But I feel less relevant than normal.

(Also, reminder to self, file permits with state/city so I can sell books.)

Still, though–I’m on two panels, both editing related, and have a time at the authors’ signing table. And they offered me a comped pass for the weekend, which has never happened before. So that feels lovely. And my mom found me a proper book display so that will also be helpful for signing/selling. All in all, if I can get over the weirdness, it should be a good weekend.

(Things to do, because I honestly just realized we were a week away:

-File permits
-Organize stock/credit card reader/mailing list sign-up/business cards
-If, when panel details come out, I need to prep, prep)

Any thoughts on conventioning when there’s nothing to market, squiders? As a reader, what draws you to panelists/authors at conventions you attend?

Recording vs. Typing

I type, Squiders. When I write, I sit down at a computer, open a word processing document (or the blog window, I guess), and go to it. (Or get distracted by the Internet. Dang you, Internet, you double-edged sword.)

But, sometimes, it’s hard to find time to sit down and write. And my laptop is getting older, so sometimes it takes a few minutes to get up and running. And sometimes it hurts my neck because invariably I’ve picked some place stupid to write and have been typing away with terrible posture.

So every now and then I consider other options.

I do handwrite sometimes, but I’m not terribly fast at it and I find it hard to really get going. (I do find that outlining or brainstorming on paper can be more efficient, however.)

I had a dictation program that I used for a bit right after the largest of the mobile ones was born. It still involves sitting at a computer, and there’s a learning curve while the program learns how you talk. Also it hated all my nonstandard fantasy names. So there was still a lot of fiddling to fix up what the program heard wrong. Which kind of eliminated the usefulness of using the dictation program. Also, I’m pretty sure said mobile one broke the headset that came with it, so that’s a bit of a problem.

There’s another option which I have not previously tried, and that’s recording and typing it up (or having someone else type it up) later. Kevin J. Anderson, who is a very nice person and a very proficient author, works this way. He goes for hikes out in the wilderness, talking into a recording device as he goes, and comes home with two or three hours worth of story, which he sends to his transcriptionist to type up.

Of course, some of us don’t have two or three hours to wander around talking to ourselves in the forest, but I admit the idea intrigues me. I could maybe do it while I folded laundry, or cooked dinner. Or maybe in patches when I find myself with a spare 15 minutes.

My biggest worry is voice. I don’t talk like I write, and it seems like it would be awkward to learn how to tell stories out loud in a way that could be supplemented by (or supplementing) writing on the computer.

Of course, I haven’t tried. Maybe it wouldn’t be so hard.

I looked at audio recording apps for my phone, which seems most convenient (since I have my phone with me most of the time) but there was a ton of them, and I got overwhelmed and ran off.

Have you tried recording a story and then transcribing it later? How did it work? Or do you know of a writer that works that way that has talked about their process?

October!

It’s that time of year again.

fear them

October! Best month of the year! You guys are probably sick of me saying that every year, but it continues to be true.

The temperature is finally dropping enough to wear, you know, pants. And other fun things like boots and sweaters. The leaves are changing. People don’t look at me as weird for drinking tea all the time. The world turns a little bit goth, just for fun.

Here’s what October looks like on my end:

  • Rehearsal starts tomorrow for the Christmas review show. They gave me a solo. They weren’t supposed to ever actually do that. But aside from never having sung by myself in front of more than about three people at a time (aside from auditions), I’m pretty excited. Some of the songs are the same as last year, so less work for me. <_<
  • I’ve got a major client edit. It’s my fourth book for this client, and his books are just massive. So that will probably carry me through til the end of the year.
  • Also I have a beta that I’m about 60% done with that I need to finish up and get back to the author.
  • Red Mars needs to be read by Nov 1 and I have yet to start it. (Not too worried; I read pretty fast. Got distracted by a book talking about the relations between haunted places, our psyches, storytelling, and ghosts. Seasonally appropriate.)
  • I’m two-thirds of the way through my Python class. Did I tell you I was taking a Python course? I am. Programming seems like a good thing to be generally proficient in. Said class takes between six and twelve hours a week, so it’s more of a time commitment than I was expecting going in.
  • I’m halfway through my fitness challenge.
  • On the writing front, it’s all Fractured World, all the time. All the plans I had for September got eaten and it may be December before I get back to most of them. Priority is working on the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin as well as a related anthology (which I am super excited about–really looking forward to writing my story, as well as seeing the other ones).
  • My birthday is next week! I keep trying to direct people to my Amazon wishlist but no one ever listens. (Also, on a related note, can you make Etsy wishlists?)

I’m not a pumpkin spice person myself, but I always hail the return of pumpkin spice season, because it means peppermint everything season shall be here shortly.

October, squiders! Do you love it? Grand plans for the month? People doing Nano? Should I talk about Nano?

Assessing Yourself

I’ve talked about day jobs before, and how they can be useful for a number of reasons (steady income, giving your brain time to think through plot points and whatnot, etc.). I’ve also talked about how I think, at least for me, being a full-time freelance writer/editor has hurt my fiction (or at least my motivation).

So I’ve been thinking very seriously about finding a new day job. The problem is that the options are wide open. (I think I talked about that somewhere too.) I do think I’ve decided to go for something non-freelance, something where I have to go some place and talk to other people on a semi-regular basis.

Having so many options, and not knowing what I want to do, I scheduled an appointment with my alma mater’s career services department. (Most people know you can use career services to help you find a job as you near graduation, but it turns out that they’ll help alumni too. I got an email about it and was like, “Heyyyyy…”)

(Also, funnily, the woman I got was the one I worked with when I was graduating. Uh, many years ago.)

They recommended a series of assessments to help me learn about what’s important to me and what jobs would be a good fit.

And I figured, hey, what could it hurt?

That was a few months ago, and now I’m done with the lot. There was the Clifton Strengths, which told me what my strengths were. Then Myers-Briggs for personality. The Strong for what I’m interested in. And the Values for what’s important to me in a job/work place. Then the idea is to look at all four, see what patterns there are, and make a decision moving forward based on the results.

None of the results are especially a surprise, but I bet you that I wouldn’t have been able to pull the information out of my head before hand. The strengths was probably the most useful, in that they give you your top five strengths and explain how they are both good and bad (for example, one of mine is that I absorb information easily, which means I can learn–and apply–new things quickly. But the downside is that I can get distracted by research and lose a lot of time).

But it is nice to have it all laid out. Not sure it’s useful yet, because I can see three distinct career paths that could be taken from the results.

But aside from potential day jobs, I can also see how some of the information can be useful in my writing. It’s given me some ideas on how to work, and also on some new projects to try.

So if you have the opportunity, it might be a good idea to run through these tests yourself. One of the best ways to be true to yourself is to have a good idea of how you work. These tests aren’t perfect, of course, but especially by taking the lot, you can get a good general idea of things.

Taken assessments, squiders? Find them to be of any use?