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

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…

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.

ChessieCon 2018 Schedule

chessielogoThis weekend, I will be recovering from Thanksgiving by hanging out at the Red Lion Hotel Baltimore North for ChessieCon 2018! My schedule is below.

I’m not staying at the convention hotel for this one, so give me a shout if you want to meet up for coffee or a meal. As usual, the best way to reach me during a convention is through a Facebook message or Twitter DM.

FRIDAY

  • 9:15 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
    • With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Margaret Carter, Roberta Rogow, Michelle D. Sonnier, and Elektra Hammond
  • 10:30 PM: Alternate Endings for your Favorite Canceled TV Shows (panel)
    • The show was brilliant, but that’s how they ended it?! Firefly, Enterprise, Jericho, Terminator, to name a few, all ended before their time. This panel is a group discussion/impromptu exercise to make our own endings.
    • With Elektra Hammond, Jeff Gritman, Timothy Liebe, and Harrison Demchick

SATURDAY

  • 10 AM: Time Management for the Overachieving Creator (panel)
    • Wearing too many hats? Going it indie as an author or publisher can really fragment your time. Panelists discuss ways you can streamline your process to be productive while still getting necessary things done.
    • With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Intisar Khanani, Valerie Mikles, and Linda Adams
  • 4:15 PM: Young Adult Fiction: Why Then? Why Now? (panel)
    • In 1967, highschooler S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders, and the YA genre was quickly off and running. Now, over thirty years later, YA is rapidly expanding again. Both adults and teenagers are reading it, and YA books pop up on every bestseller list. What happened then, and what’s happening now that causes YA to grow so wildly?
    • With Mary Fan, Tamora Pierce, and Intisar Khanami
  • 6:45 PM: Mass Author Signing

SUNDAY

  • 10 AM: Author Reading

Con Report: World Fantasy 2018

World Fantasy 2018 banner

When a professional convention in your field is literally in your back yard (or at least 2 blocks away from where you used to work for 12 years), there’s really no excuse not to go. And I’m so glad that I attended World Fantasy 2018 in Baltimore, MD!

THURSDAY

I worked from home on Thursday morning, and then my mother-in-law was nice enough to drive me up to the convention hotel, where I stayed for the weekend. I could have commuted, but sharing a room was literally the same cost as I would have paid in parking fees over the course of 4 days.

After checking in, a friend dragged me to a small workshop on using Tarot cards to help prompt story ideas. While I don’t disbelieve in using Tarot for more personal means, I adore the concept as a storytelling exercise.

Following that, my afternoon workshop on Working with Editors went well. Scott H. Andrews, of Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, was a great presenter and very knowledgeable about the subject. I was pretty much there to speak from the novel perspective, and help wrangle one of the small Q&A groups we held with other editors — and I am totally okay with that!

I joined the three lovely ladies I shared a hotel room with for dinner at the Irish pub across the street. All of us are former students from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, but the best part of that is how many of those former students are now my friends and colleagues.  Continue reading

World Fantasy 2018 Schedule

World Fantasy 2018 bannerI’m very excited to attend World Fantasy this year! It’s in Baltimore, so I really have no excuse not to be there. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for me to start meeting agents BEFORE I have a novel to pitch to them (the UFO book, which gets written in 2020!), so it will be a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone involved.

As an added bonus, I’ll get to see so many writer friends from my grad school tribe and beyond, and I’m even on programming!

  • Thursday, 2 PM: Working with Editors
    • Workshop with limited space available
    • A broad discussion about editor interactions regarding short fiction and novels, including hiring developmental editors, finding sensitivity readers, submitting short fiction to magazines, sending queries for a novel to agents or publishers, and handling rewrites and line-edits. Plus a Q&A session with leading editors in the speculative fiction field today.
    • With Scott H. Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine
  • Friday, 11 AM: Writing as Sanctuary
    • Panel: How does the art and/or exercise of writing provide sanctuary from the world. Can writing take you away from the external or is that always carried through to your work? #SanctuaryWriting
    • With Jacob Baugher, J.D. Blackrose, J.L. Gribble, Anna La Voie (M), and K. Ceres Wright
  • Friday, 8 PM: Mass Author Signing
  • Saturday, 10 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
  • Sunday, 11:30 AM: Individual Author Reading

I’m staying at the hotel in Baltimore, so I’ll be around all weekend if you want to hang out and chat or grab a meal/coffee/adult beverage. As usual, the best way to reach me during a convention is through a Facebook message or Twitter DM.

Con Report: Capclave 2018

Capclave dodoThis weekend was amazing, and I’m absolutely exhausted. (I apologize in advance that this con report will not be as in-depth as usual.) I’m very glad that spent the weekend at the hotel, despite Capclave being a “local” convention to where I live (Rockville, Maryland, is a 40-minute drive from my house without traffic). But it meant plenty of social time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones, which is really the best part of conventions anyway!  Continue reading