Given that Conflux is apparently this weekend (yikes, where did the month go?), it seems portentous to have stumbled across this list of Hot Tips for Writers At Conferences…
Oh no. It’s That Time of the Year again, the time when… (looks around nervously) … things happen.
I formatted a book! Wyrdverse: Tales of the Wyrd is an anthology of short stories from the, well. Wyrdverse. These aren’t new—you may have previously read them on my website—they’re just now… collated better.
Wyrdverse is currently available super-cheap from Amazon, although if you’d like to snag yourself a free copy you can do so from the princely sum of your email address, by signing up to my book news mailing list.
Oh, and because the whole purpose of this exercise was to practice using Indesign, a print version of the book (in all its extensive, 80-page glory) should be available sometime in the next few weeks. So… keep an eye out for that.
Speaking of awesome books you should buy (or, rather, back) right now, Crossed Genres’ Resist Fascism speculative fiction anthology is in the final days of its Kickstarter. From the official description:
RESIST. ANY WAY YOU CAN.
The world is in turmoil. The world is always in turmoil, but in recent years, people have seen violence and hatred become proud instead of ashamed. What meager rights we’ve fought for are being deliberately eroded. And the vulnerable have any help stripped away. All of this is happening openly and without fear of reprisal. And the worst perpetrators are some of the largest governments of the world.
Resisting the spread of fascism is as important now as it was 75 years ago. And there are many effective ways to resist.
For full disclosure, friend-and-all-round-awesome-person Rivqa has a story in this anthology, and I have read it and it is boss. So if you, too, would like to read a boss story about found family and Jewish jujitsu IN SPACE, then you should go smash that pledge button, as the kids on teh YouTubes say.
Knit robots, build spaceships, and shape the future.
Extraordinary short stories about gender, artificial intelligence and the art of building something new. Mother of Invention features the work of Seanan McGuire, Ambelin Kwaymullina, Nisi Shawl, John Chu, Justina Robson and more.
Awesome? Yes. So what are you waiting for? Buy like a hundred copies and you’re set for presents to give out to all your friends, enemies, and loved ones at every birthday, anniversary, and culturally appropriate religious celebration for the indefinite future. Let’s all knit a softer, warmer robotic future together.
Finally… Thing #5.
Conflux! It’s coming, and I will be there. You can even come hear me blather on about narrative in the panel Play to write: what tabletop and video games can teach writers of fiction. And by “me” I mean “Rivqa and Elizabeth“, and by “blather” I mean “make interesting and intelligent points while trying to ignore their drooling co-panellist (i.e. me).”
Sound great? Of course it does! See you there.
- … I know, I know. ^
Foz Meadows has a write-up of the current WorldCon 76 drama.
This all feels very much like people used to running a small-town parochial con1 with an established member-base suddenly getting in a twist because they have to accommodate (gasp) outsiders.
I do think it’s maybe indicative of the fact that WorldCon is finally starting, in the last few years, to live up to the “world” part of its name. In other words, you can’t just have your local con grab the host spot and expect to be able to run things in the same way you always run them…
Edit: Another write-up.
- I know San Jose has a million or so people in it… but on the other hand, Melbourne has about 4 million and it took me like two years to feel like I knew, at least by sight, most of the regulars at Continuum. ^
I’m back! I survived!
So this is my third Continuum in four years, and even in that short time the con has changed quite a bit… for the better. The programming this year was especially excellent, moving into more meaty takes on topics and the “Deep Dive” stream, which was basically two twenty-minute single-person presentations back-to-back, followed by a Q&A.
For panels this year I decided to combine my habit of sketching during the talking with my general desire to take notes/livetweet. I’m not entirely sure the end results are legible in any way, but I’ve included them below, with advanced apologies to all the panelists I attempted to draw…
It’s become something of a tradition that a bunch of us (Rivqa, Elizabeth, Lyss, and Alex) get together to play a tabletop RPG at cons. We started with Elizabeth running Dungeon World at Conflux 12, then Alex with Feng Shui 2 at Continuum 13, and Elizabeth with Monsterhearts at Conflux 13. We also had an out-of-season get-together (minus Alex, who was a piker for reasons I don’t recall) to introduce Rivqa’s daughter to the Wonderful World of TTRPGs, with Elizabeth running another session of Dungeon World.
Anyway, at Continuum 14, I dobbed myself in as GM, with the original intent of running a Changeling: the Dreaming game. Except the actual story I got into my head was designed for D&D, so I switched tracks to a 5e game.
For whatever reason, winter always seems to be my busy season for Author Appearances™, and this year is no different.
Panel assignments for Continuum have been handed out, so those of you who’re in the area will be able to listen to me ramble at:
- Out in the Open.
Fan fiction used to be hidden away, subject to takedown notices, and sometimes kept secret from friends and family. Now there are successful mainstream novels about fic writers and readers, and some creators allow writers to earn money from their work. Is this legitimisation or exploitation? What has been gained and what’s been lost in the process?(Sunday 10th June @ 4pm)
Continuum is always a lot of fun, and this year is looking to be especially awesome, with some amazing panels (and panelists) lined up. If you’re able to make it down to (or, alternately, live in) Melbourne over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend you should absolutely grab some tickets and go along.
While it’s still a little way away, I’ll also be assisting in a panel on Author Platforms for the CSFG June member’s meeting (20th June). We did one of these two years ago, and it seemed to go down pretty well, so it’ll be interesting to see what has and hasn’t changed in the intervening time (spoiler alert: the social media landscape is very different in this our post-CA/-GDPR world).
The meeting is open to all CSFG members, and if you’re in the area (i.e. Canberra) it’s absolutely worth joining up.
And, finally, to round off a busy authorial month: I’m taking a week off! By which I mean, “I’m taking a week off Day Job to try and finish up the dragon book, which got halfway done last year then put on hold for space demons.” So, yanno. A working holiday.
In other words: it’s gonna be a busy month.
Literary agent Jessica Faust on her experience at writers’ cons.
The take-home from this is that, for unagented writers, the big value of having agents are your cons is not pitching (any interest you could’ve gotten from a pitch session you could also have gotten from a slush query), but rather the opportunity to talk “shop”.
The inside of the publishing industry is both notoriously complex and notoriously opaque to people outside of it, including most unpublished authors. Even a lot of published authors are ratshit terrible at it, particularly if they got their careers started in the “pre-Amazon” age (and have never done work on the editorial side of things) because… I don’t know. The world was different then, or something.
In other words, if you are an aspiring author and you get the opportunity to talk to an agent at a con? Don’t pitch them.1 Instead, try asking them about their work–why the got into it, what they love or don’t love about it–and about the industry. Most people enjoy talking “shop” about their jobs, particularly to people who can ask intelligent questions and are good at listening to answers. Yeah, I know that’s not an easy skill–I’m rubbish at it, too–but it is something you can learn and you can practice.
Come with a pre-prepared mental list, if it helps. I’d suggest compliments to the books of an agent’s authors, questions about contract negotiations (e.g. “what do you look out for in a ‘good’ versus a ‘dodgy’ contract?”) and industry trends (e.g. “what are the current challenges you’re seeing in getting books into bookstores?”) are probably good places to start, and do your prep work. Know which authors an agent represents. Maybe scan insider blogs like The Bookseller or The Shatzkin Files to see if there are any Big Obvious Issues you have questions about. In other words, show interest in, a) the agent and her job, and b) the industry itself.
Why do this? Well, remember that pitching is a short-term skill that will open you a door… but the long-term skill is navigating the maze behind it. Being an author is, fundamentally, a business and your agent is your business partner. Showing interest in the industry shows an agent you’re interested in being a proactive collaborator in that partnership, rather than that you imagine agents as some kind of disposable “stepping stone” en route towards an editor (which is a depressingly common attitude in un-agented authors). Agents are not–and, often, are not even–just “gatekeeper” pseudo-editors; they’re business managers, handling contracts, royalties, and long-term business strategies. Which means they know things. Useful things. Things you’ll want to know, if you get the chance.
And then, of course, once you go home at the end of the con? That’s when it’s time to pick up that pitch, and send that email…
- Unless it’s, yanno, an actual pitch session. ^
On making friends when you’re the new person at a con.
I’m a deep introvert and incredibly shy, which manifests as a kind of aloof standoffishness. Nonetheless, even I managed to accrue a circle of Con Friends, mostly thanks to being adopted by more gregarious networkers (shoutout Alex and Elizabeth). Being passive about it–with the exception of joining the local spec fic writer’s club–it took maybe two or three cons to happen, starting from a baseline of “knowing no one”. So, yeah. If you’ve never been to cons before, breaking into “the scene” is damn intimidating. But, in general, people are nice, and most of the “aloofness” is a manifestation of the exact same feelings of anxiety and shyness you’re probably having.1 So… show up, and be patient.
Incidentally, at the last Continuum I was at, they has a system of color-coded pegs you could clip to your lanyard to show how open you were to approach from new people. Pretty much the only color I saw people take was the green “come talk to me” peg. I didn’t have a peg myself, for a variety of reasons, but I’m kinda interested to know how they worked out for people…
- I’ve had conversations with people that were basically “OMG I was, like, so intimidated you seemed so cool and you knew everyone and I was scared to talk to you!” from both sides, so… y’know. ^
Yikes. Only a week until Conflux 13? Where did that go?
For my sins, this year I will be appearing on four panels. They’re gonna be great. Y’all should come see them.
- Magic systems in SF fiction: Friday, 29 September @ 10am.
- Remembering Terry Pratchett: Saturday, 30 September @ 10am.
- Reinventing the myth: Monday, 2 October @ 10:00am.
- Wonderful, wide, weird, cruel & cool (worldbuilding): Monday, 2 October @ 1:30pm.
Or, actually. you should come see all of them except the Pratchett panel. Because I am totally, 100% going to cry in that and it’s going to be awkward for everyone. And by “awkward” I mean “amazing”. It’s going to be amazing. So come along!