Tag Archives: conventions

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.

Norwescon!

Hey everyone! I’m at Norwescon! Just arrived at my hotel after spending an hour and a half setting up our booth in the dealer’s room, and then walking a quarter mile in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. I was so close a bolt of lightning that I could hear the sizzle as it struck, a quarter-second before the thunder hit.

The view

The lovely view from my hotel window.

It’s funny, this being the third con I’ve attended in the last year, that I’m starting to recognize people. Mostly dealer’s room folks; they tend to make pretty regular circuits to the local cons just like NIWA. But, there’s also various random attendees that I glance at in the hall and think, “Hey, I saw him in Reno.”

Another fun tidbit about Norwescon: it’s kind of packed. In terms of attendance-to-space ratio, this is the largest con I’ve ever been to, and I’m hoping that I’ll be doing less scooting between clots of people as the rush to registration ends.

Final tidbit for now: this is the first time I’ve ever stayed in a hotel room all by myself. Is that weird? Every other time I’ve been with my wife, my parents, or friends. I feel like a decadent Roman emperor, lounging all alone on the rock-hard beds or flipping channels on the ancient Zenith CRT.

Anyone else at Norwescon? Stop by the dealer’s room and say hi at the NIWA booth.

The Road (from) Reno, Part I

So endeth Renovation, so endeth my first WorldCon. I’m decompressing, just relaxing, in our hotel room in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland. Tomorrow begins the second, more easy-going half of our vacation.

The plan is this: I’m going to write up my Renovation experiences in two parts. Today, I’ll just write some general, random thoughts in more or less the order they occur to me. Friday’s post, on the other hand, will go into a little more detail on the panels and talks I attended. So, stay tuned.

First of all, the bad news. Reno is a pukehole. There’s this contrast between the depressingly artificial glitz of the big casinos towering over the depressingly realistic grime of the rest of the city. There were some newer shopping centers, and the convention center was quite nice, but we avoided the rest of the city wherever possible. Don’t ever go there.

The convention itself was pretty awesome. It wasn’t quite the non-stop spectacle of a megaproduction like PAX; in contrast to a lot of gaming and comic-cons, it was quite small and sedate. Two reasons for this: first, there weren’t a lot of people there. Renovation only had about 5,000 registered attendees, about 3,500 of which showed up on any given day. So, compare that to the SDCC’s 130,000 or PAX’s 68,000. The second reason was far more surprising: the average attendee of Renovation was old.

Well, perhaps not old, but certainly middle-aged. I was really surprised to find that I was one of the younger people present, and that there were a few people as old as my grandparents. Science fiction and fantasy have been around for a long time, of course, but I didn’t really expect the demographics to look like they did.

And I definitely got the feeling that a lot of those people have been going to WorldCons (and cons in general) since they were my age. Science fiction fandom wasn’t just organized around their hobbies, like gaming fandom generally is. No, SF fandom is more like a family, or at least a club, where a lot of the regulars have known each other for years and years. There were times (not many, but a few) that I felt like I was intruding on their private gathering.

Of course there were younger people there too, and a lot of the authors I was most interested in were in that group. Of course, they had their own groupies, and that leads me to the slightly negative part of my experience.

So, the panels were really interesting. And I did meet a number of authors–including everyone from Writing Excuses, which was very gratifying to me. But I didn’t really make any connections, like I was hoping to. I only chatted lightly with a few of the authors, and except for maybe Howard Tayler I don’t really expect any of them remembered me beyond the next moment. It was a little disappointing that I couldn’t find more of an “in.”

I might’ve fallen short of my hopes, but that doesn’t mean that my hopes were necessarily realistic. I didn’t really know how cons worked, and I didn’t make much of an effort to connect with people before WorldCon, which would’ve helped immensely. In a sense, I was hoping to make an “in” with some of these writers, but I should’ve come to the con with an “in” already prepared.

Of course, part of it was just my usual social anxiety. I hate feeling like I’m being an inconvenience to someone, and I can’t tolerate the thought of being “that guy” that hounds after authors, desperate to make conversation.

Well, there’s always next con. If what I saw was any indication, most of these people know each other pretty well, so I’ve got to start small. Like, say, by getting something published. Hmm…

Ooh, lemme talk about the Hugos. Pretty fun stuff, like our very own tiny little academy awards. It really made me feel like a part of this big happy family watching the way that the emcees, the category presenters, and the winners were so chummy. No real competition, and lots of genuine emotion. In particular, the winner of the fanzine Hugo was pretty much sobbing like a maniac at the podium for five minutes. Fun stuff.

Despite the fact that we were in Reno, no odds were offered on the winners. Which was good, really, because I picked almost none of the right ones. Best novel? Nope. Writing Excuses? Nope. Freaking best novelette? No, no, no. Ah, well.

That’s pretty much it for general impressions. The dealer’s room was cool, and the art gallery was amazing, but they’re both pretty par for the course. The panels were pretty much uniformly awesome, but that would be getting into specifics.

Speaking of specifics, on Friday I’ll be discussing the panels and kaffeeklatsches in more detail, plus anything I forgot to mention today. Stay tuned! Should be great.

The Road to Reno

No regular post tonight. Wife and I have dropped the dog off at the parents’ place, dropped the keys off at our friends’, and we’re finishing our packing. Next post, this Friday at latest, comes from Reno, Nevada, and the World Science Fiction Convention.

Godspeed!

The Tenth Word is a Century Old!

I’m not sure how I missed this, but I made my 100th post last week! Yes, that’s right, a century of posts in 10 months. Not too bad, really. While this blog’s never exactly been a paragon of timeliness and popularity, I’m glad I’ve kept it. I suspect I’ll be even more glad when I start working on the next novel, have the same problems all over again, and get to check how I solved them the first time.

And if I’m really, really lucky, I can look back here someday when I’m wildly famous and wealthy, and see the little man I once was. And then set this entire site on fire, lest anyone know I was not born a god.

I’ve actually been noticing that I’ve posted much more often on Google+, and gotten a lot more responses there than I have here. There seems to be some concensus on this point, even. Could it be that Google+ offers the perfect storm of features that will move us into a post-blog internet? Certainly, if my main goal was to connect to people, I’d be doing it there, not here. On the other hand, a lot of what I post here is pretty self-involved by its very nature, and I don’t think that most of it would get a very good response on any social network.

Well, we’re not in a post-blog state now, and I think that my two-posts-a-week status is pretty sustainable. “The Tenth Word” isn’t going away anytime soon.

Now, only your regularly scheduled status report. Good writing this weekend, although a little disappointing compared to the last. There was no way that I was going to have another 6,000 word weekend, but I’d rather hoped to be above 3,000. The final count was something like 2,750, which isn’t too shabby considering that I’ve typically considered weekends a break. At this rate, finishing a short story per month while working on the novel seems like a realistic option, and that’s really all I can hope for.

Still, I wouldn’t mind kicking it up a notch. Next weekend, let’s try 4,000. I’m not going anywhere, so I have no excuse for failure. At the very least, I should be able to sustain a NaNoWriMo-like degree of productivity. I am trying to be professional, after all.

Hmm. I may have just developed a September challenge for myself! We shall see.

In other news, I’m going on vacation next week, and will be entirely gone until the 26th of August at the earliest. The wife and I are making a road trip down south for WorldCon in Reno, followed by some relaxation (and sleep-catching-up-on) at Disneyland. Ah, summer and the great American road trip! I don’t expect this blog to be entirely silent while I’m gone; in fact, I may very well post more frequently, depending on how the convention goes. I’m a little anxious about not being plugged-in enough to really get the full experience, but we’ll see.

This week, though, your regular post should be up on Friday. Until then, have a good week.

Progress, and Other News

So, I’m writing. This is a good thing. Unfortunately, unlike Orson Scott Card, I can’t write endlessly about writing, so this is going to be a pretty short post.

Having a deadline has helped. With my re-read finished, I’ve been able to start into my phase 1.5 revision, and it’s been going decent. I don’t know if I was sick or what, but for the first part of this week not only did I not feel like writing, I barely felt like moving my limbs. I lived on Cheetos and YouTube for pretty much 48 hours…at least when I wasn’t sleeping. Fortunately, it passed, and now I’m back on track.

My goal is to get half of my revision done by this weekend. That’s half page-wise, by the way. The last half of the book is going to take more than half the time, I’m sure of it. Even so, I’m kind of hurrying here; I don’t want to tarry over words that’ll get sliced up in the beta reading phase anyway. Just keep it consistent, I have to tell myself, keep the characters in one piece and the plot moving along and don’t worry about the prose. It’s kind of liking doing NaNo all over again.

Anyway, I’m anxious to get things out to the readers so I can get their feedback and really pour myself into the revisions. November is going to come soon!

Speaking of which, it looks like I’m going to be at another con this fall! Woo! It’s actually not really a con, per se, it’s the Pacific Northwest Booksalers Association fall trade show, where all the indie booksellers hang out. Regardless, NIWA will have a table there, and one of the badges that comes with it has my name on it. It’s October 13-15th, and I’d love to have Fugitives from Earth done by that point, but we’ll see.

I’m definitely not going to have it done by late August, for Worldcon, but I’d love to have a cover, blurb, and sample chapters by that point. Not that I plan on foisting them off on anyone, mind, but there’s always the chance that someone will ask. Hmm. Should probably get some business cards as well.