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

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February Wrap-Up & March Goals

Oscar WildeAck, where did February go? I guess this is what happens when I try to reduce my workload but still end up ridiculously busy. The good news is that I got a lot of stuff done. The bad news is that I still didn’t manage to complete all my goals. Oh well, March is another month.

February Wrap-Up

  • I submitted a short story to an anthology I was invited to participate in! This does not confirm acceptance, but it was fun to play with some secondary characters in my world and *gasp* write in first person. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
  • I got about one-third through the editing necessary on Steel Shadows. That’s definitely going to be my priority for March!
  • I had a blast at Farpoint 2019! You can read all about it at my full con report.
  • My much-needed writer’s retreat to Broadkill Resort was a ton of fun. Everyone got lots of work done, and we thoroughly enjoyed the game Bards Dispense Profanity.
  • Finally, I had a great few days in New York City for the day job, and even got to meet my little sister’s significant other! We met at a cool bar called Oscar Wilde, and I got to pose with the man legend himself.

February Book Reviews

  • Threshold (Whyborne & Griffin #2) by Jordan L. Hawk (5 stars)
  • Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin #3) by Jordan L. Hawk (5 stars)
  • “Remnant” (Caldwell & Feximal short story/Whyborne & Griffin #3.5) by K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk (4 stars)
  • Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey (5 stars)
  • Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy #3.5) by Ilona Andrews (5 stars)
  • Caliban’s War (The Expanse #2) by James S.A. Corey (5 stars)
  • Belle by Night (Dommes by Night #1) by Rachell Nichole (4 stars)

February Speculative Chic Contributions

March Goals

  1. Let’s try this again: Complete a full editorial pass of Steel Shadows and return it to my editor for layout. (Seriously, this time.)
  2. Write 20k words for Steel Justice. This might get me within spitting distance of the ending.
  3. Attend Cleveland ConCoction 2019! (I will literally be driving there when this blog entry gets posted.)
  4. Attend another weekend writing retreat! This one is with a lovely group of romance writers who have accepted this speculative fiction writer as one of their own (even if they do keep trying to get me to write erotica).
  5. Finally, I’ll be in Providence, Rhode Island at the end of the month for a conference for the day job.

I did do one crazy thing this month. Got my hair professionally dyed! This color scheme has been on my mind for ages, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

 

Will I accomplish all of my goals this month? Will I do anything else ridiculous with my hair? Will I get a tattoo?

WHO KNOWS. This winter has made me a little stir crazy, and I’m anxious for spring.

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

Farpoint 2019 Schedule

Farpoint2

I’m thrilled to return to Farpoint 26 next weekend for my second year! I had a blast last year and made some excellent friends. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them and other local fans. Here’s where you can find me on the official schedule:

Friday

  • 10 PM: Farpoint Book Fair

Saturday

  • 10 AM: Alternate History: Creating Stories By Changing the Past (presentation)
    • Come learn about the alternate history genre and then create a few alternate histories of your own in this interactive presentation!
  • 12 PM: Autograph Session
    • With Brian Koscienski
  • 3 PM: Reading
    • With Steven H. Wilson and Michael Critzer

Sunday

  • 12 PM: Reading
    • With T. Eric Bakutis
  • 1 PM: Autograph Session
    • With Peter David (!!!!)
  • 3 PM: I Have Written a Book: Now What (panel)
    • With Keith R.A. DeCandido, Don Sakers, and Gregory A. Wilson

As usual, I’m more than happy to hang out with people anytime I’m not officially scheduled, whether for food, a drink, or just a chat. The best way to reach me during the convention is a direct message via Facebook or Twitter.

Until then, I’ll be over here freaking out that I’m sharing an autograph session with my favorite Star Trek writer…

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.

Build Report: Hogwarts Castle

hogwarts castle dragonSince I acknowledged that I’ll never have room for the largest LEGO set ever, I set my sights slightly smaller — on the second-largest LEGO set ever. I also thought this dream was unattainable, even though it was my number one wish-list item for the 2018 holiday/birthday season.

Even though my birthday is 6 days after Christmas, my husband is well aware that he is not allowed to combine gifts. But I made an exception this year, when he approved my purchase of my dream LEGO set!

Hogwarts Castle (71403) — 6,020 pieces

I built this set between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 2018/2019, and not a moment of it was ever boring. The architectural details and moments from the books were amazing, and I’m obsessed with the stained glass elements. This set came with not one, but FOUR instruction booklets (and a whopping 37 bags of pieces), so I’ll show the build off by sections. Continue reading