Meeting authors

In the past four months I have met three of my favorite authors in person. Without fail all of them have been kind and gracious. Obviously it’s not in the author’s best interest to be a jerk, but not every author chit chats with you for a minute to make you feel valued as one of their readers.

Some people are intimidated by athletes. I wouldn’t know or really care that someone was a professional football player, for example. Others are intimidated by tv/movie stars/musicians and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d be intimidated as hell to meet BeyoncĂ© or Tom Ellis (Lucifer). But the real people who I idolize and who intimidate me are authors I read. Some actor from Days of Our Lives isn’t going to intimidate me half as much as Mercedes Lackey.

Or Spider Robinson.

If you’ve never read any of Spider Robinson’s work, and you like puns, boy do I have the series to recommend to you. The Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon series (start here) is fun and full of terrible puns. If you liked Piers Anthony’s Xanth as a kid/teen but it got to a point where the series petered out for you (for me it was a few books after Man from Mundania), then you will probably like Callahan’s. I think that Xanth would be classed as more YA than anything at this point, except for the age of some of the series protagonists, and the fact that the series has been in the adult section for twenty-odd years. Callahan’s is strictly adult, and not just because the owner of Callahan’s wife owns a bordello (and has two books of her own).

I haven’t really read Spider’s other series or his essays, but my partner is a huge fan. More of a Robinson fan than I am, in general, and had he been able to go to Worldcon he would’ve been even more in awe than I was.

When Spider was signing my husband’s book (it seemed only fair to get it signed for him since he couldn’t be there), he also let me take a video where he said hi to my partner. He didn’t have to do that. It’s wonderful and incredibly kind that he did.

In short, thank you authors for being awesome.

Should I ever be so lucky as to have a bookstore want me to do signings, I will endeavor to emulate your good example.

And for the record, no matter how many books I publish or if you’d consider yourself my fan–never be intimidated by me. I’m just a nerdy mom who should probably get more sleep.

Worldcon 76

In my last posted I noted that I would be at a conference over the weekend, focusing on writing. It was actually a sci-fi/fantasy convention where they give out the Hugo Awards (the biggest literary prize in the genre, if you’re unfamiliar). While I am not primarily a SFF writer–I identify as a romance writer who dabbles in the genre–I have been a SFF reader since I can remember, more on the Fantasy than Sci-Fi side. I mean, never say never–I’ve been considering turning Dumped into a longer piece, but I think that I’m more likely to make romance a central plotline, which would mean it would be marketed as a paranormal romance, more or less.

The classes I took were specifically for genre writers, but a lot of the lessons translate. Classes like the one I took on contract negotiations were incredibly useful, as was the lesson that I probably will never write children’s/middle grade/YA books, apart from what my children make me write for them. The class on wounds you can get from various weapons was useful for me specifically to help me think about a fencing match Bree engages in while on the Ghost in Plunder.

One of the things that comes up again and again is word level polishing, which is an area where I could definitely improve. Do you do it? If so, where in the process do you do it? Is it its own round of edits, or is it part of your revision process as you’re simultaneously doing chapter/paragraph level fine tuning? Come to think of it, how many drafts do you go through?

Another topic that was referenced more than once, and was even the subject of an entire panel, was that of imposter syndrome. We all have it, and it’s both comforting and exhausting to realize that there probably isn’t a writer out there (person, but today we’re focusing on writing) who doesn’t suffer from it. Which means that no matter how successful I become, I will probably always have imposter syndrome.

I’m starting to plot out my next book, a contemporary romance. I’m usually a pantser who knows the goalposts I need to hit, although I leave such big gaps between the goalposts that my characters sometimes wrest control of the book away from me at time. This is still a goalpost sort of planning, but I’m fleshing out the world, figuring out the characters, etc. Which is relevant because the main character owns a gaming company.

I did a bunch of panels on gaming, specifically women in gaming because as a woman my MC will face a set of barriers and gatekeepers that a man in her position wouldn’t. I’m not much of a gamer, which is why when my new laptop arrives I’m buying World of Warcraft and a few other big games to get to know them, and am also adding a bunch of mobile games that have commonalities to the sort of games my MC would develop. I also took a class on writing interactive fiction, which a layperson would call writing video games. I’m now well informed enough to be intimidated by my choice, but not so intimidated that I’d scrap the idea.

There was also a class on roads to publication. I’d thought indie publishing wasn’t easy, but I didn’t realize how expensive or challenging it really is. Thus far I’m traditionally published and I think at the moment I’m planning to keep it that way. If you self-pub, you have my respect.

If you get a chance to go to a convention with writing panels, check it out. Like I said, even if you rarely write in that genre, there is so much useful information to take away.