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The Post-Con Naps

I just woke up from a two-hour nap. This nap was necessary because, in spite of 9 hours of sleep, I’m still exhausted from Norwescon. In convention terms, that means I had a very good time.

Regular readers (ha!) may remember remember a series of posts about last year’s Worldcon, where I expressed considerable annoyance with my apparent inability to talk to people I didn’t already know, whether they were fans or pros. It turns out that there are two solutions for this problem:

  1. alcohol
  2. a ready-made conversation-starter

By “alcohol,” what I really mean is a social environment where walking up to random people and saying, “what’s up” is acceptable and even expected. That way I don’t have to deal with my issues of not wanting to intrude on people’s personal space. If you fit 50 people into a smallish hotel room, nobody’s going to have personal space anyway, so who cares?

The ready-made conversation-starter was more accidental: I just went wearing my NIWA shirt and pin. Between that and the dealer flag on my con badge, people more often than not asked me what I was selling, and that let me dive in my NIWA spiel. I got very good at that spiel. And then, once that was over, the conversation could move along naturally. I talked to plenty of pros and plenty of fans that way, and I don’t think I ever embarrassed myself once, despite the atomic cherries floating about.

I’m not a social butterfly and I never will be, but it’s nice to know that I can mingle and schmooze and make some friends in the right set of circumstances.

Other con notes: it was a pretty good convention for Fugitives from Earth, especially compared to other recent events where it got no interest at all. I was one of the top sellers from NIWA, although the convention itself was admittedly slow for us. A big part of that, I’m convinced, was our booth setup. A million other small things contributed as well; I suspect that we’ll have a lot to talk about at our next meeting.

Norwescon itself was great: good panels, great costumes, lots of people and interesting things going on. Aside from last year’s Worldcon, it’s the best convention I’ve ever been to. Even if NIWA doesn’t go back next year, I probably will.

The New Job Post

I started a new job today. For ten years, I’ve worked at Hi-School Pharmacy in Vancouver doing IT support, but it had become clear to me over the last year that I didn’t have a future at that company. We weren’t getting raises, there was no opportunity for advancement, and in the end even the new projects started to dry up.

So now I work at Allion Test Labs in Beaverton. It’s a cool company, although it’s hard to describe exactly what it is they do…the short version would probably be “testing consumer electronics,” although it’s a lot broader than that. I’ve only just started, so I don’t really have a feeling for how the day-to-day is going to go, but everyone I talk to there enjoys their job and is happy with the company. That’s a lot more than I could say at Hi-School, and I could get used to working at a place like that.

There are downsides, of course. Working at Hi-School for so long, I got a real fine sense of what was allowed and what wasn’t, what rules were actually followed versus what the employee handbook said. I knew under what circumstances I should put off taking lunch, for instance, or when I could take off for the day 15 minutes early. I’ve just got to re-learn all that, and it takes time.

It also means that I don’t get to go to Norwescon this year. It’s in just three weeks, and I won’t have enough vacation saved up to make it. I kind of had a feeling this was coming, so it wasn’t a shock, but I’m still disappointed. Oh well; there’s still Westercon, WorldCon, and OryCon. It’ll be a busy year on the convention circuit.

I’m also hoping that this will be an opportunity to dig back into my writing. I tend to write with more discipline when I have less time to put off writing, and with this job I definitely have less time. Enough time, to be sure, but it means that I have to prioritize writing like I really haven’t for awhile. I think this job could be a good opportunity, in more ways than one.

Month of Letters

Because I’m a shameless follower of people far more awesome than myself, I’m throwing myself into Mary Robinette Kowal’s “A Month of Letters.” Every day in February, I will do three things: write a letter to someone, send it in the mail, and then check my mail in the evening. There’s just one problem, though: I don’t have enough people to write to. 

Hopefully, this is a problem that will solve itself later in the month, but for now I have barely a week’s worth of letters to write. Mary posted her address publicly but she’s going to get about a billion letters, so I want to take the road less traveled by. This is where you come in.

If you’d like to receive a letter, hand-written by yours truly, then please, give me your address! I’ll try to write to everyone who gives me an address, so just think…the next time you go out to the mail, you might actually have something fun to read rather than the usual junk and bills. That’s the whole point of this endeavor, after all, so although it’s not required, it’s more fun if you write back.

The deets: if you feel comfortable disclosing your house address, you can always just drop it in the comments, although I doubt most people will be okay with that. So, you can send me a direct message on Facebook or Google+, or email me at thetenthword at gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you, and writing to you.

Hangin’ with Obama

It’s been a long time since I posted something, I know. You can expect some changes coming to this site in the near future, not the least of which is the return of regular updates, and not just updates on writing. Updates on, just, you know. All sorts of stuff.

In that spirit of other-stuff-ness, I was watching the very first Presidential Google+ Hangout (must be capitalized!) today while I was working, and it was a surprisingly awesome moment for me. Not because I’m a huge fan of Obama, although I think he’s a decent president at least, and not because what he had to say was groundbreaking, but because of how personal it was.

That deserves some clarification too. Obviously there’s no way that I had privileged access to any sort of executive communication, so if I could watch this hangout, so could millions of others. And when millions of people are watching, the president is never, ever personal, or intimate, or familiar. He pretends to be those things, just like every president since TV was invented, but that’s not what I’m talking about either.

What I mean is this: there were eight other people in that hangout (seven, if you don’t include the event coordinator). They were carefully selected for their demographics, but they were real people. One of them cut Obama off while he was talking. One of them disagreed strongly with his position on foreign aid. That could’ve been me, or you, or anyone.* Maybe I’m just naively enthusiastic, but that seems incredible to me. Technology is changing our government, and it’s changing it for the better.

*Full disclosure: it never could’ve been me. I don’t have the stones to argue with the president while millions of people are watching, and I’m at least man enough to admit it.

The Light at Tunnel’s End

Ahaha! I’m DONE!

Yes, after a week of furious copyediting, I finally have in my hands the final version of Fugitives from Earth. It’s definitely not my best work, not anymore, but I’m not embarrassed to sell it to other people, and I’m oh so very relieved that I don’t have to think about the story anymore.

And the layout’s done, too. Let me tell you: Word is horrible at making print-ready documents that aren’t term papers. It took a fair bit of wrangling the page settings, margins, text wrapping, alignments, and who knows what else to make it look good, but at least it was mindless work, so I got to watch movies while doing it. Didn’t get to do that while I was writing the damn thing.

So, now I’m eagerly awaiting the proof copy from Createspace. I have my hopes that’ll be a quick green light, and I can order my print copies for OryCon, and not a minute too soon. Never again will I let myself get this close to the wire.

Finally, this blog is about to come full circle. I realize that I haven’t been posting as often as I did in my heyday, but I’ve got plans for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Yeah, it snuck up on me too, but whatever–I’m starting a brand new novel, and along with it, I’m starting a brand new posting schedule for The Tenth Word. You can also expect some layout changes to accompany the book’s release, just two and a half weeks away!