Con Report: Cleveland Concoction 2019

Cleveland ConCoction logo 2019

March means a return to one of my favorite events of the year: Cleveland ConCoction! This year, I took the Tesla on her first official road trip, which involved stopping at multiple supercharger stations. We had a blast, and I am officially never taking a long trip without navigate on autopilot ever again.

supercharger selfie

My car has a moon roof. It is covered in snow.

FRIDAY

I left very early on a snowy Friday morning to accommodate the slightly longer time the trip would take for charging stops and any weather-related road issues. However, I was able to end the drive with a leisurely lunch at the requisite Steak n’ Shake visit while the car pulled a final charge to last through the weekend. After checking in to the hotel and setting up my books in Author’s Alley, I was just in time for my first panel of the weekend.

At this point I can probably do the panel on genres and genre-blending while half-asleep (and I’m pretty sure that I actually have), but it’s always fun to see what new insights my fellow panelists have and answer the often unique questions from the audience.

Afterward, I enjoyed a quiet dinner catching up with friends and excellent fellow authors Shannon Eichorn and K.M. Herkes. Once I delivered them to their evening panels, I also spent some quality time at the hotel bar with another fabulous author, Sara Dobie Bauer. The day finally caught up with me, and I crashed early.

SATURDAY

Despite my con report’s promise of getting three Dog Star Books authors together at one event, it was all a lie. Unfortunately, K.W. Taylor and Matt Betts both experienced health issues that prevented their attendance, which meant I was a poor replacement. In this case, it meant I moderated a panel on the mistakes beginning authors make on Saturday morning for Matt. We discussed issues authors face in both writing and the publishing industry, including sharing some of our own mistakes. My major take-away for that panel is always to tell the audience one thing: “Don’t be a jerk.”

I spent late morning and early afternoon hanging out in Author’s Alley, chatting with readers and writers alike. After a late lunch, it was time for my weekend reading! The audience enjoyed the first scene from Steel Time, and then it was back to Author’s Alley to sign books.

After a hasty dinner of cake in the con suite, it was time for the first highlight of my evening. Along with some of the other authors in attendance, I was invited to participate in a special episode of Prompt Joust, a web show that pushes storytelling to the limits. I dug deep for my improv comedy experience from college, and while I knew I wouldn’t make it to the final round based on the “king of the hill” competition style, I knew I had the opportunity to take out show host Marcus V. Calvert in the first round — so I did. /evil laugh

I closed out the night by moderating a panel on time travel in fiction and on screen, which was way too science-filled for my sleepy brain to handle, but I think we muddled through. Luckily, I caught my second wind in time for the late-night “author soiree,” in which I enjoyed homemade mead (compliments of the Very Vocal Viking) and lots of laughter with friends.

SUNDAY

I did not have anything official on the schedule for the last day of the convention, but due to a scheduling mix-up, I landed on a panel on urban fantasy! We had a lovely discussion about how romance, mystery, and horror can all be elements to the genre, and what reader expectations are (and how to break them).

Afterward, we wrangled a certain demographic of attending authors to take a photo. Gee, what did we all have in common?

blue hair authors

In what’s become a ConCoction tradition, I enjoyed a late lunch with a group of friends, and then I sent everyone on their way! Due to the long drive, I wasn’t heading home until Monday. Good thing, too, because the snow had started.

I closed out the evening enjoying a good book and watching the snow fall from my hotel room. It was a little creepy to realize that I was now one of very few guests in a giant conference hotel, but I passed out anyway loved my quiet time.

MONDAY

The snow was over by the morning, so I had a safe but COLD drive home to Maryland.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!


ConCoction 2019 haul.JPG

Cleveland Concoction 2019 Schedule

Cleveland ConCoction logo 2019

I’m excited to return to one of my favorite annual events this weekend! I’ll be in Cleveland, Ohio, for Concoction 2019. The spouse is jealous because I’m taking the Tesla for it’s first-ever road trip, as in, I will have to stop at least once each way to recharge at a supercharger stop. But once I get there, I’ll be geeking out over my own pursuits. Check out my full schedule below. Continue reading

Con Report: Farpoint 2019

Farpoint2

Growing up as a military brat, I always had this sense that once I left a place, I would never be back. While looking for a house in the Baltimore area before sixth grade, my family briefly stayed at a hotel, the Hunt Valley Inn. Therefor, it’s always a bit bizarre to be back there as an adult in a completely different context, such as for a convention.

That background aside, I had an amazing weekend at my second Farpoint. Continue reading

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

Okay, kids. Something isn’t working, and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. I have reached that point where I have so much to do that I’m getting overwhelmed and not doing any of it (as evidenced by the 11 books I read this month). Time to re-evaluate and change a few tactics. Because the wrap-up below isn’t pretty.

January Wrap-Up

  • I did not write 18k words in Steel Justice this month. I wrote 8k, bringing me to about 49k total.
  • The weekend at Broadkill Writer’s retreat got cancelled due to inclement weather.
  • I barely touched Steel Shadows, though I did review my editor’s notes and clean up any issues she found.
  • I did some minor brainstorming on the short story I need to write, but did not write any actual words.

Even my cat is disappointed with me.

disappointedcat

January Book Reviews

January Speculative Chic Contributions

February Goals

  1. Write the first draft of that short story, get it critiqued, clean it up, and submit it by the February 28 deadline!
  2. Complete a full editorial pass of Steel Shadows and return it to my editor for layout.
  3. Attend Farpoint 2019, where I will conduct my alternate history presentation along with readings, signings, and panels.
  4. Attend a much-needed writer’s retreat at Broadkill Resort.
  5. Survive a trip to New York City for the day job.

But wait! Where is adding more words to Steel Justice on that list? It’s not, alas. I needed to take one of the big things off my plate, and priority has to go to the two projects with solid (and much closer) deadlines. I’m looking forward to a productive March, especially since I already have another writing retreat planned in that month.

I already feel a huge load lifted from my shoulders. Now, time to get to work.

December Wrap-Up & January Goals

Another year, come and gone. As with any year, I’ve had some major successes and minor disappointments. On the writing front, the success was my fourth book published, which means that my series is officially over halfway complete. The fifth book is also in the midst of the publication process. Unfortunately, on the disappointment side, cranking out the sixth book has been like pulling teeth. I’ve missed some goals, but the only thing to do is keep moving forward rather than berating myself for time lost.

Another quiet success is a completed goal that I never advertised publicly. In 2018, I published content on this blog an average of three times a week (M/W/F), with a few weeks at T/Th when scheduling made more sense that way. A lot of that has to do with how much more time I spent reading, allowing book reviews to dominate my posts. According to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I read 138 titles in 2018 (books, novellas, short stories, and graphic novels). I’m actually so far ahead on my book reviews that I have blog content scheduled through February 2019. I hope to keep this trend going, especially considering the enormity of my physical and electronic to-be-read piles.

Let’s take one final look back, then move on to 2019!

December Wrap-Up

  • I had no excuse not to write 15k to 20k in Steel Justice…but I didn’t, and I still have no excuse. I wrote about 3k instead. Vacation and holidays should be the perfect time to write, but I read and LEGOed and spent time with my family instead.
  • I did, however, complete my 2018 Resolution Project for my other blog, Speculative Chic! I finished up the Wrinkle in Time series by reading and reviewing An Acceptable Time (link below).
  • I also contributed to four group blog posts at Speculative Chic (links below).
  • Between Christmas and my birthday on New Years Eve, I also built my largest LEGO set to date (yes, I know I could have used that time for writing). The full Hogwarts set is stunning, with lots of fun architectural details. My build report will appear here soon.
  • And finally, I had an amazing vacation with my family on a Caribbean cruise. I read 7 books in 7 days, ate a lot of amazing food, took some lovely naps, and enjoyed a splash of warm before coming home to chilly Maryland.

December Book Reviews

December Speculative Chic Contributions

January Goals

  1. Let’s do this! 18k words on Steel Justice, bringing me to 60k words.
  2. Which should be helped by the writer’s retreat I will be attending at Broadkill Resort one weekend.
  3. I also need to do a full copy-edit and clean-up pass of Steel Shadows.
  4. And write a short story to submit to an anthology! (More details on that project forthcoming.)

Through it all, I will continue reading and blogging. What do you have planned for this week, this month, this year? Let’s conquer 2019 together.


And the traditional December round-up for all the new blue police boxes to add to my epic collection! I got lots of awesome Star Wars and Harry Potter gifts (Ravenclaw represent) this year too, but my family and friends know that the TARDIS will always be my first love.

2018 TARDIS

(They also know that I live on coffee, apparently. Handmade mug by Mary K. Cloonan: Frivolous Function and Dysfunction.)

November Wrap-Up & December Goals

This month, it feels like I wrote all the words, read all the books, and went to all the conventions. Okay, it’s actually about 32k words, 15 novels, 8 short stories, 3 graphic novels, and 2 conventions. Still a hell of a month.

NaNoWriMo 2018 words

Obviously, that 32k words means that I did NOT “win” NaNoWriMo. As you can see from the chart, I missed the first few days for World Fantasy, wrote for a bit, stalled out for a week, then went hardcore for a few days until Thanksgiving and ChessieCon. In theory, I could have done another 18k words in the time left. But I’ll refer you to what I said in my con report for ChessieCon:

“During some time spent chatting with friends after the panel, mentally moaning to myself that I should have been working on NaNoWriMo, I had a bit of an epiphany. I didn’t sign up for NaNoWriMo this year to write 50 thousand words in 30 days. That would have been nice, but it wasn’t the main point. The main point was to kick myself in the pants and actually get some words written on my the next book. I started the month with 8 thousand words. I now have 40 thousand. I’m going to call that a win in my book and keep writing at a pace that is comfortable for me.”

In addition, I also found out this month that I’m perfectly capable of writing up to 3,500 words in a day, where before I’d felt like 2,000 was my maximum. So, I didn’t win NaNoWriMo…but I totally accomplished what I needed NaNoWriMo to do for me, which is more of the point.

November Wrap-Up

  • See above for NaNoWriMo details.
  • I had a fantastic time at both World Fantasy and ChessieCon! The links for each name go to my con reports.
  • I still have about 200 pages to go in the last Wrinkle in Time series book, An Acceptable Time. This one is not grabbing me as much as the others, alas.

November Book Reviews

November Speculative Chic Contributions

December Goals

  1. Now that I’ve started, I have no excuse not to write another 15k to 20k of Steel Justice!
  2. Finish An Acceptable Time and review it for Speculative Chic.
  3. Contribute to four group blog posts for Speculative Chic: my wrap-up of my 2018 resolution, a description of my 2019 resolution (more reading!), my biggest disappointment of 2018, and my most anticipated thing of 2019!
  4. As is my new tradition since I became obsessed with LEGO, I’ll build one set between Christmas and my birthday (Dec 31).
  5. And most importantly: VACATION! The husband and I will be on a giant boat in the Caribbean for 7 days. No internet. No writing. Just lots of sun and warm and reading. And maybe a caipirinha or three.

I reorganized my To Be Read shelves after all the free books I got from World Fantasy, and then Nicki-cat told me to get back to writing.

Con Report: ChessieCon 2018

chessielogoGoing to a convention after a major holiday would be pretty crazy, but luckily this convention is local, chill, and a chance to visit with friends. So it’s easy to treat it as an extension of the holiday, and I had a lovely time at ChessieCon this year.

FRIDAY

Friday started with how all days after Thanksgiving should start, with a massive lunch of leftovers. We ate at my mother-in-law’s house, where my parents also dropped by, so by the time I headed home to prepare for the convention, pretty much no NaNoWriMo writing got done. I was not super upset about that. Instead, I made sure my con bags were sorted and that I had questions prepared for the panel I was moderating on Saturday afternoon. Even though my first scheduled event was not until 9:15 that night, I headed up to Baltimore around 5 PM so that I had time to greet friends. Continue reading