a little red flag

Jul. 24th, 2017 02:08 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

I know a lot of writers. Really a lot. Really really. And we all have different process, and that’s great, that’s wonderful. In person I have been known to chirp “we are all a beautiful rainbow,” but it’s really hard to get my total lack of sarcasm on that point through on the internet. (We are, though! We are all a beautiful rainbow! Yay!) In this case, I have spotted what looks like a consistent red flag for burnout, and I’m having a hard time phrasing it so that it’s clear that I don’t mean to exclude some kinds of inspiration.

Here’s the red flag. Writers with a few novels or a ton of short stories under their belt who get into a place where they only want to talk about being sick of tropes and wanting to deconstruct them. I know that deconstruction is a major creative inspiration in some writers’ processes (all a beautiful rainbow!). But the larger percentage of conversation about other people’s work gets to be about deconstruction and frustration, the more I watch for other signs of burnout.

Because–squee is not just good publicity. Squee is important for your own work. If you’re not honestly feeling like squeeing about other work you’re encountering, that’s a bad sign. And it’s probably not a bad sign about what’s out there in the world, because there is a lot of stuff out there in the world. If none of it is pressing your buttons, really none? that’s a bad sign about your buttons and where you are in terms of energy levels, taking criticism, getting enough recharge, all those things.

This is not a red flag of you being (or a friend being!) a bad person, or a worthless artist, or someone who will never recover, or anything like that. I’ve seen many people come out of this kind of burnout. But just as it’s easier to talk about how to begin a story than how to deal with the middle and ending that grow out of it, it’s a lot easier to talk about early-career things than all the paths that can grow out of them. And yet it feels to me like there are a lot of mid-career/developing writer paths and pitfalls that it would be really useful to talk about more, so…I’m going to try to do some of that, and I appreciate the other people who are doing that too.

(One of my favorite roads out of this is to cast my net very, very wide and look at things that are way outside my usual so that badly handled tropes and obvious choices are less grating. But other solutions for jolting out of this kind of deconstruction/negativity trap welcome.)

Three Hines Books On Sale!

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:56 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

I checked Amazon today and was surprised to see that three of my books are on sale in electronic format. Barnes and Noble doesn’t appear to have price-matched the sale yet (they have now!), and I don’t know if this is limited to North America, but here’s what I do know:

Libriomancer is on sale for $1.99.

Goblin Quest is on sale for $2.99.

The Stepsister Scheme is on sale for $2.99.

That’s book one of all three of my fantasy series. If you’ve been waiting to check out my stuff, this is the perfect time.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Trailer Roundup

Jul. 23rd, 2017 12:36 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

It’s movie trailer season!

1. Thor: Ragnarok – I love the banter between Thor and Hulk/Banner. Everything I’ve seen about this movie looks like fun.

2. Star Trek: Discovery – I’m intrigued enough to want to see more, and it will be nice to have some new television-style Star Trek. We don’t have CBS All Access, but I’m sure it will be available on Blu-ray eventually.

3. Ready Player One – I know a lot of people loved this one, but for some reason, the book just didn’t work for me, and the trailer seems to be following suit. The trailer looks pretty, but it doesn’t grab me.

4. Justice League – I don’t know. DC’s cinematic universe has let me down again and again…but then they did Wonder Woman, and I started to hope again. This looks like it could be fun. Or it could be a mess. I’m withholding judgement for the moment.

Which ones, if any, are you looking forward to?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Gleefulness!

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:16 pm
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[personal profile] brooksmoses
I just looked at the Schlock Mercenary comic for tomorrow, and the sound effect for firing the Very Large Gun that was introduced a storyline or two ago is making my vibrate and clap my hands with utter glee.

It works well as a standalone strip even if you're not familiar with the comic, too, so I'm going to make you click through to see it rather than spoiling it.

Attention tax

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:32 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

One of the things that has been making me furious about sexual harassment lately–secondary to all the other things that make me furious about it–is the attention tax it imposes on women. The time spent figuring out whether there’s enough evidence for us to be taken seriously this time, whether the people who were in the “surely you misinterpreted” and “that doesn’t mean what it blatantly means” camp last time will finally take us seriously, the time spent recovering from someone shouting in our faces and someone else grabbing our asses, the time sharing stories and pooling information and cleaning up messes and figuring out what to do, what we can do, what we have the power to do. That is time not spent on other things that are frankly a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

When it’s in convention terms, the time spent discussing who did what and what to do and letting the adrenaline settle and coping is time not spent on ideas for books and stories and where to go with them. It is very directly a tax on attention that could and should be going toward work. And it makes me exhausted and resentful, and then I try to corral my attention back to my work, because that is a far, far better place for it to be. I have directly observed that when I am at a con where people are dealing with an ongoing situation of this type, I come back with far, far less in the way of inspired notes for new projects–not just coming away drained instead of energized, but the specifics of what business are we doing here, where is our attention going.

I’m lucky. I know a lot of good men. I know a lot of good straight, white men. One of the benefits of this is that when a straight, white dude is an asshole, I am clear that it is artisanal assholery that he is hand-crafting by choice, not a trait he can’t avoid by his demographics. And a lot of good straight, white men have been stepping up to share the work of dealing with sexual harassment on a community level. I appreciate it. I do. But that is a choice they are making. Statistically, on average, the nonconsensual part, the part where you have to cope with the fallout of being harassed again, the part where it happens several times in a row and then it’s on your mind and you go into the next professional situation having to have a plan for how to cope–that’s a drain on your time and attention that you cannot have back, that other people can help with structurally but not in the moment. They can donate their time but not hand you back yours, not give you back those hours and days of working on the situation and processing and coping. It can happen to men. It does happen to men. And as one woman I know never loses an opportunity to point out, it does not happen to every woman. But statistically, on average, it is an attention tax that falls much, much more heavily on women, for things that we did not ask for and cannot change.

It’s not just sexual harassment. This is not the only attention tax, and I don’t mean to talk as though it is. Racist bullshit and the people who visit it upon people of color? That is, among other worse things, an attention tax on those people of color. Having to cope with accessibility issues and prejudice against the disabled? Attention tax. Homophobia and other forms of anti-queer assholery? Attention tax. Navigating the world while neurodiverse, even in ways that do not feel like a disability internally, among people who are going to be utter jerks to any hint of non-neurotypicality? Attention tax. And while I’ve talked about men and women above, the amount of attention tax that falls on gender-nonconforming and non-binary people gets mind-bogglingly larger the more gender-policing the subculture they’re interacting with gets. One of the fundamental questions is: how much jerkitude are people going to blithely shovel on you for being you and then skip along with their day, and how much will that pull away from the focus you need to do your stuff that you do.

Do I imagine I’m the first to observe this? Hardly. But “show don’t tell” is hardly new advice, either, and writers get blog posts out of that several times a year. What I’m saying to you is: this is affecting the work of people you know and care about. All the time. It doesn’t have to. It is literally all entirely voluntary. The thing I said above about artisanal bullshit: last month I got very tired of people saying “so that’s a thing that happened” when they were describing a choice someone made. So let’s not do that. Let’s not ascribe to fundamental forces things that are actual bad choices people are making.

And also: people who are doing work through all these attention taxes, who are managing to push it aside and fight their way through to focusing on making something awesome: I see you. I appreciate you. I’m sorry it’s like this. I keep hoping that some of the draining work will gain us some ground and it will be long-term less necessary. But in the meantime, thanks for clawing back some of your own in the face of it. It’s so hard, and it matters so much.

Apologies for Not Being Around

Jul. 22nd, 2017 01:17 pm
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
Mason will be fourteen on Monday. It’s kind of hard to believe that I have a high schooler in the house.

On the other hand, I like teenagers. Maybe I will live to regret the words I just typed, but I will confess that my very least favorite stage in child development is everyone else’s absolute favorite: infancy.

Babies? Not for me. You can keep the “new baby smell” and the diapers and the once every two hours feeding schedule. I like young people when I can have a talk with them. Pretty much the instant they’re able to communicate, I’m there. I quite like the stage where they hand you random things and you suggest, “Oh, you’re giving me an apple?” and they sternly correct you, “No, moose.” Because, you know: toddler brain. But, that delights me. Plus, they just grow more interesting, IMHO, the more they age.

Even though he’s moody af sometimes, I’m happy to have a clever, bright young adult at home.

My folks came up to celebrate early.  We had a good time. Friday night we met them at their hotel and ordered Red's pizza. Mason got to open his present, which was from all of us: a Nintendo Switch.  He was so excited by it (and the new Zelda game) he lost track of time playing it and ended up staying up all night.  This morning, my folks came by ours and we went off to the Good Will Outlet.  That's always an experience. It's the sort of place where you pay by the POUND.  Shawn gets a ton of fabric for her rugs this way, and we usually actually find a few shirts and whatnot for me to wear.  The outlet is a little different from the experience of a regular thrift store because nothing has been processed yet at all--except in the barest minimum of ways: all the clothes are together, all the non-clothes are together. That's it. Sometimes stuff is still in the paper or garbage bags that people donated them in.  We were there when the outlet first opened and there were only the hardcore sifters there.  I watched people just take handfuls of stuff and shove them into their shopping cars--I presume to sort later, though maybe, like us, these were people who wanted fabric of any kind. I'm not sure.  It's quite the experience. I highly recommend it.

Mason and Shawn are both napping now. My folks have left and the temperature is climbing.  I'm thinking about joining everyone in the "cool room."

Cool Stuff Friday

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:22 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

Friday still hasn’t seen the new Spider-Man movie 🙁

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

F&SF story interview

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:32 am
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

I’m back from Boston! I had a lovely time going to Readercon and writing and seeing friends and riding back and forth on the T and wandering up and down Mass Ave. I am now convinced that wandering up and down Mass Ave is a substantial part of what you do in Boston. Things are there. Also, every time you come out of the Harvard T, there is Greer Gilman, so it is written and so it must be.

But other, less eternal things are written, and you can read them! Such as this interview about my story in the July/August issue of F&SF. Interview with me! Things you might want to know! or maybe not, but there it is anyway.

I answered these interview questions in the spring, and one of the things they’re showing me now is that life moves fast. Well. I knew that. And if it’s going to move fast and smell all right while it goes, I’d better get a load of laundry in. More, much more, soon, now that I’m home for awhile.

Diversicon schedule!

Jul. 20th, 2017 10:02 am
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
 My Diversicon schedule - this also will include the traditional Saturday at 5ish autographing 
Saturday, July 22
 
4:00-4:55 PM, Krushenko's Annex (Northern Pacific)
Panel: You've Got Magic on My Crime Scene!--Police Procedurals in Fantasy
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Melissa Scott, Phyllis Ann Karr
 
Sunday, July 23
 
3:00-3:55 PM, Main Stage (Soo Line)
Bidding Farewell to the Red Shirts and Side Kicks: LGBTQ Protagonists in Science Fiction and Fantasy
Catherine Lundoff, mod.; Melissa Scott

I'm on the radio!

Jul. 19th, 2017 01:13 pm
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[personal profile] catherineldf
KFAI's Fresh Fruit (longest running weekly Queer radio show in the country) did a feature on the Pride Month Queer Voices reading at the Central Library. Featured are co-curators Andrea Jenkins and John Medeiros, and two south Minneapolis writers: Anthony Ceballos and myself. Queer Voices is also the longest running Queer reading series in the country, so it's a pretty cool way to celebrate! 

Wednesday Reading (and Writing)

Jul. 19th, 2017 11:50 am
lydamorehouse: (Default)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
I didn't get a whole lot of reading done over this last week. First, I was busy prepping for class, and then, right after finishing all that, I read and critiqued a manuscript for the Loft's writing coach program. (If you ever have an extra pile of dollars lying around and want to hire me, here's how you can do it.)

Then, yesterday, out of the blue, I got a note from my agent asking if I have any other trunk novels that I might be able to polish up and send off to Tapas Media again.  (She seems convinced she can squeeze real money out of them). I sort of do, but in order to meet what they're looking for, I'm doing a lot of revision... kinda major revision, which might not, ultimately, be worth it. But, I mean, what else do I have to do? (I mean, besides fan fiction.)

But, despite all that, I did plow through three manga that I picked up at Quatrefoil Library when I was there for Gaylaxicon's book club reading of Precinct 13. So, I read:

Dining Bar Akira / Kuimonodokoro Akira by Tomoko Yamashita
Man’s Best Friend / Inu mo Akurekeba by Takashima Kazusa
Your Honest Deceit / Kimi no Tsuku Use Hontou (vol. 1) by Ajimine Sakufu, and one I haven't had a chance to review yet:
Bachi Bachi by Kijima Hyougo.

You?
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
 Next "Out of the Past" column up at Queer Sci-Fi. These are expanded from my original SF Signal posts, FYI, and I'm planning on increasing the timeline and talking about specific authors and works and such.

 

I am having a writing anniversary today! I've have just had my 20th story accepted for a Year's Best antho! I'm defining these as edited anthologies from a given year or publication with "Best" in the title.

So far, that's:

Best Lesbian Romance 2009 and 2011

Best of Luna Station Quarterly

Heiresses of Russ 2011

The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica - Vols. 4, 6 and 9

Ultimate Lesbian Erotica (Alyson Publications) - 1999 and 2001

Best Lesbian Erotica (Cleis Press) - 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2017

 

And possibly something I'm forgetting, but hey, we'll call it even. At any rate, it's a milestone and I'm pretty proud of it. :-)))

 

jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

“There is a common poor attempt at a joke … that consists purely in stringing together a series of marginalized identities and calling attention to it … as if the mere existence of someone like that would be so absurd it could only be laughable.”

Invisible 3 CoverAlliah is one of the contributors to Invisible 3, which came out on June 27 and includes 18 essays and poems about representation in science fiction and fantasy. You can order the collection at:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords | Google Play

Any profits from the sale of the collection go to Con or Bust, helping fans of color to attend SF/F conventions.

As with Invisible and Invisible 2, the contributors to this third volume have shared work that’s heartfelt, eye-opening, honest, thoughtful, and important…not to mention relevant to so much of what we see happening in the genre today.

#

Our Hyperdimensional Mesh of Identities

Growing up in the 90s and early 00s in the south-east of Brazil, all I saw in mainstream media were the same repetitive, harmful and offensive stereotypes about travestis in telenovelas and badly written comedy TV shows, and the effeminate gay men and macho lesbian women token characters whose non-conforming gender expression was grossly caricatured for cheap laughs.

As an openly queer young girl in school, I learned that I could be queer, but not too much, not too visibly. I’ve heard those laughs, and I internalized through bullying and ridicule that I should change how I presented myself to the world—which I did really fast by becoming the stock image of a non-threatening feminine girl, although I never hid my sexuality. My first awkward attempts at a masculine gender expression didn’t have time to blossom. I shoved it down some unreachable recess of my mind and avoided it for 10 years, which (along with compulsive heterosexuality and a binary cisnormative culture) is why it took me so long to understand my bisexuality and figure out my transmasculine non-binary gender identity.

Once I did, I uncovered a gender euphoria I’ve been cultivating ever since.

It took me years to understand the ways in which I inhabit my queer transmasculine genderfluid neuroatypical body, and my most powerful illumination came unexpectedly through the stories of a queer non-binary neuroatypical green witch: Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wicked: Cover ArtI first met her in the book series The Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire, where most aspects about her gender and sexuality were ambiguous or obscured between the lines, and later in fan fiction, where the depths of Elphaba’s intersectional identities (canon or not) could be explored to the fullest by writers that shared those same identities.

Despite being an avid reader of speculative fiction since childhood, it was only after these encounters with trans and non-binary characters in fan fiction during the first half of my twenties that I started researching these topics, that I found out where I belonged. I discovered a thriving community of authors from marginalized groups creating astonishing rebellious versions of every world I’ve ever dreamed of and countless others I couldn’t imagine would be paramount to my process of liberation.

I owe it mostly to the fictional characters and their creators that illuminated me—from early readings like Virginia Woolf’s Orlando to the most recent fan fiction stories about a non-binary autistic Elphaba, a genderfluid bisexual Korra (from The Legend of Korra), and an agender transhumanist Root (from Person of Interest). I wish I could’ve met them sooner. Along the way to self-discovery, I had to collect all sorts of missing pieces with jagged edges and weird fractal shapes, and figure out a way to put them together myself. I was lucky to stumble upon the stories that I did and then to be able to find the communities that I needed. That’s why representation is vital. You cannot search for something you don’t even know exists.

There is a common poor attempt at a joke (that I’ve seen in both Anglophone and Brazilian online spaces), often directed at dehumanizing non-binary people and mocking activists working at the multidimensional core of intersections, that consists purely in stringing together a series of marginalized identities and calling attention to it, using the accumulation of these identities as a joke in and of itself, as if the mere existence of someone like that would be so absurd it could only be laughable.

One of the things fantasy author Jim Anotsu and I wanted to acknowledge when we wrote the Manifesto Irradiativo—our call to diversity and representation in Brazilian speculative fiction—is that our lives cannot be reduced to an isolated shelf in a bookstore or a niche market, thus we cannot be constrained to discussing the realities of our identities in those compartmentalized terms. We’re so much more than single-issue stories, than the same old one-dimensional narratives constructed to serve the gaze of the oppressor without making them examine their privileges and dismantle their systems of violence.

Those single-issue stories exist and persist for several reasons concerning the maintenance of racial, economic, and social power, amongst them because there is a fear of “too much” diversity. As if a book about a bipolar asexual bigender Afro-Brazilian person, for example, would scare away or alienate the common reader—who is always presumed to be the neurotypical cis straight white default that can handle only one unit of diversity at a time, served lukewarm, unseasoned. But as Audre Lorde said in a 1982 speech at Harvard University: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

Stories matter. And we shouldn’t have the full extent of our existences cut, segregated, and dimmed in them. We deserve to live as a hyperdimensional mesh of identities when they want to flatten us, to be loud when they want to silence us, to occupy the spaces that have been negated to us, and to be wonderfully written and represented as such.

***

Alliah/Vic is a bisexual non-binary Brazilian writer and visual artist working in the realms of the weird and pop culture. They’re the author of Metanfetaedro and have various short stories published in themed collections and on the web. They’re currently building too many independent projects, working on their first novel, and haunting your internet cables. Find them tweeting at alliahverso and newslettering in Glitch Lung. Or buy them a coffee at ko-fi!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

New interview!

Jul. 16th, 2017 08:47 am
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf
 Author Christopher Rose interviewed me about Queen of Swords Press, where we've been and what's next on Curiousful.

Mazes and Monsters: The LiveTweeting

Jul. 15th, 2017 08:29 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

A couple of weeks ago, I asked people to share an announcement about Invisible 3, saying that if we got at least 100 retweets, I’d do a livetweeting of the 1982 made-for-TV film Mazes and Monsters.

Mazes and Monsters movie posterThe film is based on the novel of the same name, by Rona Jaffe, and warns of the dangers of fantasy role-playing games. It’s based at least in part on rumors and legends of students sneaking into the Michigan State University steam tunnels to play Dungeons and Dragons and disappearing.

Most of this background is, as you might imagine, complete bugbear twaddle.

On the other hand, this was a chance to see Tom Hanks in his first starring role for film.

You’ve got Robbie (Hanks), a troubled kid whose brother vanished years ago. He comes to a new school after failing out of the last one for playing too much Mazes & Monsters. He tries to avoid M&M’s siren song, but because he’s “Level Nine,” Kate, Daniel, and JJ really need him to join their game.

When Robbie and Kate hook up, JJ gets depressed and talks about suicide, but instead decides to run a live-action version of M&M in the local caverns. Robbie promptly has some sort of mental break and “becomes” his character, on a quest that takes him to New York City to find the Two Towers.

All four kids seem to come from rich families (I’m not 100% sure about Kate), because the film is so much more powerful if it shows that even rich white kids can be broken and destroyed by the evils of role-playing game.

Invisible 3 CoverThere’s also a bird, a lot of hats, a mother who likes to redecorate her son’s room, and a skeleton having inappropriate relations with a flashlight.

I’m embedding the Storify of my tweets below. If any of this makes you laugh, or if you just want to show your support or sympathy, please consider checking out Invisible 3 and/or leaving a review. Thanks!

And now I’m off to try to recover some of my SAN points…

###

Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

lydamorehouse: (??!!)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Every time I teach teenagers, I take a moment to gather "market" information. I ask them what they're reading/watching/playing and what they wish they'd see more of.  For YA authors out there, here's what my Loft teens would like most of all:
  1. Assexual representation.  They want a character who is explicitly ace who DOES NOT FALL FOR SOMEONE BY THE END.  Please more GLBTQIA+ representation in general. Non-binary/Genderfluid/Genderqueer, too, please. (Ace comes up every year, by the way.) 
  2. Supernatural creatures who are *not* run of the mill vampires
  3. NO MORE ROMANCE.  Or, if there must be romance, can it please be something more than the tradition love triangle.  Better yet, let the triangle end in a poly arrangement (yes, my teenagers asked specifically for poly).  
  4. More dystopia, but no more Divergent rip-offs. How about a post-apocalypse that has nothing to do with the government dividing people by their skills/factions/what-have-yous?

Obviously, this sample size is small.  My class this year had twenty students, only four of them male-identified, one non-binary, and the rest using she/her pronouns. The majority of the class was female.  There were only two obvious PoCs. All of the students, except one that was there on a scholarship, came from families that could easily afford a $300+ class for their kids. Most were urban/suburban/Metro area, though some came from the 218 area code (I can't remember how many without checking my class list, but it was at least two. I remember because it surprised me.)  

The only other thing of note is that this is the first class where we've had to have a few discussions about the technical aspects of writing. Every year I teach, I try to have an opportunity for students to have their work critiqued. It's best when the whole class can participate and I can teach "how-to" peer critique, BUT with twenty kids it was strictly voluntary and I took their work home and typed up my response to their opening pages.  I bet half the class participated.  

Their abilities ranged wildly, but I was expecting that in a group of 13-17 year olds.  What I wasn't expecting was at least three students who seemed to have zero concept of paragraph breaks.  Their writing was otherwise good, it was just presented as a giant block of text.  I'm not sure where this comes from, and I had to take some time to remember how *I* was taught when a good paragraph break should come.  Of course, much of it comes from osmosis, from reading.  But I do remember someone requiring that we learn about what should be contained in a paragraph... I wonder which grade though?

Anyway, that was the only 'surprise.'  It's tempting to blame the lack of paragraph breaks on the internet.  But, I'm still not convinced that the Internet is ruining young writers. I suspect this lack of breaks comes from generally not being much of a reader.  (Voracious readers always have an obvious 'ear' for how stories are structured.) Or from reading things, like graphic novels or web comics, that come in a differently consumed format.

It was a weird year at the Loft this year, but, ultimately, the class was great.  My boss asked me to be sure to propose something similar for winter quarter.
catherineldf: (Default)
[personal profile] catherineldf

This is a phrase I run into a lot, generally with regard to certain kinds of author events: conventions, workshops, festivals and the like. New writers (or ‘new to the writing social scene’ writers, who are not necessarily the same people), new pros and other creative type folks get told a lot of things about visibility, networking, establishing themselves…all of which may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with actually selling work or meeting anyone who can help make your work sellable. And we don’t talk a lot about the subjectivity that goes into that phrase; all careers are not created equal, all access is not equal, and I can have a completely different con than someone else in a different social demographic or fandom.

 

Some of these things are based on personality as well. The cool, zillion person con that is mostly media-based that you adore may not be the place for your quiet, introverted professional editor pal.  You may regard the quiet con where everyone plays games and talks about books as excruciating. Whatever the experience that you’re looking for, deciding just how an event is going to help your career and trying to drive toward that is in your best interests.

 

 That said, I thought I’d try coming up with a checklist for what might make a given event “good for your career” from a writing-related professional perspective. Things that impact what I prioritize: I write in a range of genres and generally go to a couple of literary or at least nonsfnal events each year, so those are factored in. My average year: 2-4 readings (bookstores, libraries, bars, etc.), 4-6 science fiction conventions, 1 convention that is not an sfnal convention, 1-3 podcasts, 2-4 guest blogs, radio, miscellaneous appearances, 1-2 sundry writing-related events. I am an award-winning small press author, editor and publisher (no awards on the publishing yet, but the day is young, as it were) and I have been writing and publishing since the mid-1990s. I am also a middle-aged cis female who is white, mostly able-bodied and loud about being queer (all of which can impact event experiences as well as which kinds of events I attend or get invited to attend). In addition, I am reasonably extroverted and an experienced moderator and panelist.

 

Some basic questions to ask yourself:

·      Why am I going to this event?

·      What do I hope to accomplish there?

·      What am I planning on doing at this event to make those things happen?

·      What do I hope will happen afterwards?

 

 

Why am I going to this event?

·      This is a big one. I often go to things because I’m invited in, rather like a vampire. But I might also be there to see friends, to be on panels, to do readings, to meet with editors or publishers or writers, to see how a conference in a different genre is set up, to teach a workshop and/or to sell books. None of these things cancels out any of the others and I might go to a bigger event in hopes of accomplishing them all.

·      Sometimes, my assessment of why I’m at a given event can change once I’m there. Maybe I have a panel and a reading but can’t get an audience that responds to me. Or I have an option for selling books but no one’s buying. Then I try to regroup and consider the other options. Sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn’t. There are bad years, bad cons and bad days for pros, as well as good ones. You have to evaluate what you’re dealing with and any options for improving it (this generally gets better with practice). Sometimes, that’s going back to your room for a day and writing. Always keep that in mind as an option.

 

What do I hope to accomplish at this event?

·      Set yourself a small, manageable goal if you’re new to conventions – I want to be on my first panel or do my first reading, I want to attend a writing workshop, I want to meet a specific pro, I want to meet two new people, whatever, but give yourself some options for things to do.

·       If you’re more familiar with the convention scene, set your self some bigger goals or more goals: I want to sell more books, I want to go to all the publishing panels, I want to organize a local writer’s networking event, I would like to meet a professional I admire, etc.

 

What am I planning on doing at this event to make those things happen?

·      If you want to be on convention programming, did you volunteer for panels? Generally speaking, suggesting panel topics at the brainstorming stage is helpful if you want to be on programming. Want to do a reading? Can you organize with a group of writer friends? Again, it makes it easier for most programming committees to accept a group that’s already set up than a complete unknown.

·      Doing a reading series or a bookstore is generally a matter of talking to whoever curates the series or the bookstore owner and seeing what they’re looking for. Hint: it is super, super helpful if they can recognize you as a semi-regular audience member or customer.  Be polite, ask about the venue and the event, buy books – sooner or later, these things make you look more appealing.

·      Want to connect with other pros, including agents, editors and publishers? Being polite is helpful, being knowledgeable and respectfully enthusiastic about their work is very helpful. If they are jerks to you, go do something else with better human beings. Being a jerk back will not help you. Don’t overstay your welcome if people clearly want to socialize with each other at the bar, don’t follow agents around like a puppy, don’t slip your manuscript under the door of the editor’s bathroom stall, etc.

 

What do I hope will happen afterwards?

·      You hope to meet an agent and send them your book at their request, you hope to meet an editor and sent them a story or a manuscript, you hope to be super charming at a room party for a different con and get invited to be a guest, I hope to sell and autograph 5 books, I hope to be a guest on a particular podcast or reading series. Again, set yourself a goal, but be flexible about it. What if the agent gets the flu or the publisher is not the person you thought they were or they’re simply not interested in your work? Have a backup plan for something you want to see happen next.

 

 

Have I been able to make this work for me? Some of it. Not all the time, not at every con. I list interest in chasing agents awhile ago because that’s not a path I picked for myself. There are pros who I’ve encountered enough times that they drive me up a tree. There are fans who do likewise. I generally pick who I want to run around them and schedule with them beforehand. But I still try and drive a goal or two at each event.  A convention that I regard as “good for my career” at this point is generally about a combination of the following: 1. Book sales, 2. Follow up events or something that directly benefits my writing career (an anthology invitation, for example, is my gold standard), 3. Some form of networking that involves meeting some new people or cultivating a closer relationship with people I want to know better, and 4. A good conversation or three. #4 is about my sanity. This stuff has to stay fun or it gets to be too much and you burn out.

 

I recommend reading Jeff VanderMeer’s Booklife for ways to approach all this. I learned a ton from it. 

 

So what’s worked for you so far? How do you define a convention or other event as being “good for your career”?

Arthritis? Thanks, Mom…

Jul. 13th, 2017 04:14 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

You know those autoplay ads that sometimes run before an online video? Here’s the text version. Libriomancer is still on sale for $1.99 at Amazon, B&N, etc! (I believe this is limited to North America, though.) No idea how much longer this will last, so if you’ve been thinking about checking out one of my books, now’s a great time.

#

Anyway, I had a checkup with my doctor this afternoon, which confirmed something I’d suspected for a few months now. I’m starting to develop arthritis in the middle knuckles of my index fingers.

For the moment, this is a minimal annoyance. It doesn’t interfere with my writing. I notice it mostly when I’m trying to make a tight fist for karate. Or when I bump one of the knuckles against something. But it’s the first sign of what’s likely to be a progressive problem.

(Please note that I’m not asking for medical advice, thanks!)

I mentioned this to my father, and he was happy to tell me I inherited this particular problem from my mother. Which seems fair, considering the diabetes comes from his genes.

Mostly right now, it’s a worry for the future. I mean, I’m a writer. I spend way too much time typing at a keyboard. I know dictation is an option, but for the moment, I rely on my hands. And between some tendons tightening up in my hands (Dupuytren’s contracture) and now this, I’m not sure what’s going to happen as I get older.

Hopefully I’ll just get some bionic hands or something. Maybe I’ll be able to moonlight as a superhero. I could write a noir-style bestseller about my first case: The Hand Job.

Okay, maybe not…

In the meantime, I guess the best thing to do is write as many stories as I can. Just in case 😉

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Post-Vacation To Do List

Jul. 11th, 2017 04:59 pm
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

✔ Unpack.

✔ Process ALL THE PHOTOS!

✔ Page proofs for Death of All Things story.

✔ Page proofs for Unidentified Funny Objects 6 story.

✔ Groceries.

✖ Clean the gutters.

✔ Pet ALL THE ANIMALS! (With the exception of the fish and my son’s frog.)

✖ Page proofs for Terminal Alliance.

✖ Dedication and Author’s Note for Terminal Alliance.

✖ Plan and write Terminal Uprising.

Catch up on email.

✖ Livetweet Mazes & Monsters viewing as part of Invisible 3 promo.

✖ Figure out what to do with secret 15K-word novelette, finished last week.

✔ Write blog post to procrastinate working on those incomplete items…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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