This past weekend I was honored to be invited to return to Cleveland ConCoction! I had such a great time in 2016 that I accepted eagerly. It’s one of my favorite conventions in terms of how authors are treated, by both the con and attendees. I had a great weekend of book sales, catching up with old friends, and meeting new people! Continue reading
I had a great time yesterday spending the day at the Raw Dog Screaming Press booth at AWP 2017 in Washington, DC. While my official book signing time was from 1-3 PM, I ended up enjoying a full day chatting with people who stopped by, answering questions about the press, and talking about my books and the other excellent stories published by RDSP.
I’d never been to AWP before, and it was a bit…intense. Lots of people, lots of booths, lots to take in. Most of the vendors there were representatives of writing programs and literary journals, so RDSP doesn’t stick like a sore thumb so much as a breath of fresh air for people who are looking for something a little different. Continue reading
I had a fantastic time attending my first ChessieCon convention this past weekend! Everyone on the convention staff was lovely, and I made some great new friends.
I’d also like to specifically commend this particular convention for their dedication to accessibility throughout the events, such as offering gender neutral restrooms and reserving seats in every room for people with physical or sensory issues who might need them.
I had no issues picking up my participant packet on Friday, and I arrived in time to see my local NaNoWriMo organizer perform her concert! Lee is a fantastic guitarist and singer, and I enjoyed listening to both original works and covers during her “Dystopian Set.” (Her husband Jon provides lovely backup.)
Since I had some time to kill before my reading, I ducked into the last half of a presentation on “Finding the Funny in Star Wars and Star Trek.” The presenters were delightful, and I managed to stalk them the rest of the weekend (more on that later).
I’ve been to a lot of conventions, from tiny little things hosted at the local mall to the epic scale of DragonCon. I’m not at the point in my career where I can afford to turn down invitations, and I’m so pleased that I accepted the opportunity to sell books at a local gaming convention known as TridentCon. I thought it was brilliant that the organizer invited local speculative fiction authors rather than having an entire slate of games dealers. It is the rare table-top gamer who is not also a science fiction and/or fantasy fan. Continue reading
It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s been 5 years since I’ve been involved with Raw Dog Screaming Press. There are other dates to mark that anniversary that might be more “official,” such as the date my first book with them was announced (at DogCon 3), but I quietly mark the beginning of this journey from my official invitation to the very first DogCon. That was when the Dog Star Books SF/adventure imprint was announced, and when I started to get the idea that I might have found a home for my urban fantasy/alternate history novel.
Funny story: I wasn’t even at the first DogCon! (Even though lots of people seem to think that I was.) I received the invitation after I’d already scheduled the housewarming party for my new home, and since I had not yet met John Edward Lawson or Jennifer Barnes in person, I thought it was weird that they were inviting me to their house. But that invitation started a lovely social media correspondence that has since blossomed into an amazing friendship and working relationship. I haven’t missed a DogCon since, and this most recent was definitely one for the books.
Life’s been pretty crazy lately, so it was as if a great weight lifted from my shoulders as I drove up the hill for Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind 2016 this year. It was a short weekend, Friday to Sunday, and I feel like I packed a lot into it!
Arrived on campus, dropped my Steel Magic raffle basket off at registration, and spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with friends and attending classes. I was joined by Deanna Sjolander and Anna La Voie for a reprise of my freelance editing panel, where I moderated a discussion that covered things like the different types of editing available to authors and how to jump-start your own freelance editing career. I was towed along in the wake of my much more exuberant friends afterward and somehow ended up at dinner with all of the professional guests. It’s always fun to meet people in the industry and get a different perspective on things.
That evening was the annual mass book signing, where a few lucky people were able to snag pre-release copies of Steel Magic! I stayed up way too late that night, including the requisite post-midnight campus walkabout, and enjoyed sleeping in the next morning.
I’m so used to spending the Saturdays of this event helping set up for the annual costume ball in the evenings that I found myself a bit at loose ends for most of the day. I wasn’t really in the right frame of mind for sitting through classes, so I spent a lot of time being social with good friends instead, interspersed with quieter moments of working on my book 3 line edits. I got the requisite homage to Steak n Shake out of the way for lunch, and finally experienced the joy that is a restaurant called “Smokey Bones” for dinner with another group of friends (complete with amazing sangria).
The costume ball was held on a restaurant just off-campus. The theme this year was “Trope Your Genre,” so I bought myself a cheap plastic sword last Halloween and showed up in my regular Renaissance Festival gear, topped off by a cute diadem I bought at a con ages ago. I was a badass warrior princess ready to adventure in thoroughly impractical adventuring gear (my coin belt was super stealthy). This was apparently enough to win an award in the fantasy category!
Next year’s theme is “International Persons of Mystery.” Costume ideas would be appreciated, because the only thing I can think of right now is something involving a cocktail dress, which won’t stand me out enough to win an award for the third year in a row.
After another night of staying up super-late again, playing Werewolf, and just talking with cool people, I enjoyed sleeping in again. Met up with friends for a late breakfast and then headed back to campus. I wish I could have stayed for graduation this year, but at that point I was operating on about 8 hours of sleep total and knew I had to be up early Monday morning. It was a good thing I did leave early, because I had to stop for coffee twice and still have to force myself to scream along to loud music for the last 30 minutes of the drive.
Took a nap when I got home, woke up for Game of Thrones, and then went back to sleep. It was a blast to see everyone and get inspired to throw myself into the next book in the series. Being reminded that other people are excited to keep reading my books is pretty much the best thing ever.
Final book haul, topped by my diadem and costume award:
I was excited to be part of the Dog Star Books invasion of Cleveland ConCoction this year, and I’m happy to report that this was one of the best conventions I’ve ever attended. I hadn’t been to a full media (versus strictly literary) convention in a few years and this was a fun way to jump back in the fray. It was also fun to see the great cosplay and mixture of people attending the rest of the convention.
As I told as many of the staff as I could, it was hard for me to believe that ConCoction was only in it’s third year. Everything was very well run and I had zero problems as a guest and panelist. I highly recommend ConCoction to everyone in the Ohio area, and even from farther away. Continue reading
I’m lucky enough to live close enough to other writer friends that I didn’t have to make the 4.5 hour drive to Mars, Pennsylvania, all by my lonesome. K. Ceres Wright, fellow Dog Star Books author of COG, was excellent company on the road. We both attended graduate school together and it’s crazy to think we’ve known each other for 10 years already!
I had a busy convention schedule, which kicked off Friday night with a panel on “Work-Life Balance for Freelance Writers.” Major point: Avoiding distractions is just as important as not letting yourself get sucked into your work to the exclusion of everything else. My personal addition to that is to remember that your physical health is an investment in your work, too. The moderator was publicist Beverly Bambury, and it was great to finally meet her in person! She and I spent a lot of time hanging out and plotting over the rest of the weekend.
Following that was a reading with another fellow Dog Star Books author, Albert Wendland of THE MAN WHO LOVED ALIEN LANDSCAPES. He read from the first chapter of his novel, while I read a section closer to the end of STEEL VICTORY. Both passages seemed well-received by the audience.
I spent the rest of the evening drifting between panels, the (very well-stocked) Con Suite, and hanging out near registration. I reconnected with some friends I’d met at last year’s Confluence and drank way too much caffeine. At 11 PM, I joined forces once more with my fellow Dog Star Books authors to host a Kaffeklatsch on genre blending, where we discussed how the changing way that people buy books is allowing for more diversity in fiction that would otherwise not be easily shelved in traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores.
At 2 PM on Saturday, I set up in the lobby for a bit of book signing. Once again, I was very pleased with my sales numbers for this event.
Afterward, I ran into a new friend I’d made the month before. Julie is a first-semester student at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction, where I also graduated many eons ago. The really cool thing about Julie is that she writes speculative fiction and geeks out with me about all things Marvel. The second-coolest thing about Julie is that she is Tamora Pierce‘s personal assistant, and she invited me to join them for lunch.
YOU GUYS. TAMORA PIERCE TOUCHED MY BOOK. AND THEN SHE READ SOME OF IT. AND THEN I GOT TO HAVE LUNCH WITH HER. HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?
In all seriousness, both of them are awesome people and I had a great time. This is why everyone should go to conventions! You never know what might happen!
I had two more panels in the evening. At 7 PM, I moderated “The Manuscript on the Doorstep: Successful relationships between authors and editors.” Major point: Be respectful, be open to communication, and trust that everyone is working as a team to make the book/story better.
At 9 PM, I participated on a panel on “Disability in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” I’m so glad that I was able to orchestrate the attendance of Steven Spohn of AbleGamers. I was both pleased and surprised by how many people attended this discussion, and the conversation bounced back and forth between both positive and negative representations of disability in the media and how to best represent disability in writing. Major point: Disability should be more than a plot device. And as with all things writing-related, do your research!
The rest of the evening was spent attending a party hosted by Fortress Publishing, a great group of people. Thanks for the fantastic local beers!
On Sunday morning, I attended my last panel on “Agents: To Have or Have Not?” This can be a contentious topic of discussion, and that panel was no exception! Major point: Again, do your research. My personal addition: Know what you want out of your career to determine whether an agent would be helpful or necessary, and know that this decision is certainly not permanent.
I drove home Sunday afternoon and did absolutely nothing productive that evening. I did finally finish season 1 of SENSE8, but that is a whole other blog post. (I am looking for people to talk about it with, though, so drop me a line if you want to!)
I already can’t wait for Confluence next year!
And finally, the all-important book haul:
- SHATTERING THE LEY, by Joshua Palmatier
- THE SHATTERED VISAGE LIES, by Brian Koscienski & Chris Pisano
- TOWN & TRAIN, by James K. Moran
- CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE: STEAMPUNK VS ALIENS, ed. by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier
Look for reviews of these books to appear over the next few months, and let me know if you want me to move any up in the to-be-read queue!