Category Archives: Conventions

Sirens Is Now My Home

If you’ve read most any other person’s experience attending Sirens, you’ve an inkling of what I’m going to say.

Yes, it is an amazing few days—surrounded by women and men (why, YES, men do attend Sirens, and enjoy it immensely) who celebrate who they are, and what and who they love. The conversations are far-ranging and tightly-focused, curious and passionate, overlapping and attentive. The interactions are both open and intimate. There is space and there is affection. Questions and affirmations. Challenges and comforts. Embracing old friends and picking up where we left off last year, and embracing new friends with the anticipation of connections yet to be formed.

desktop_white_red_ribbons_1440x900

Three cool things in particular, but in no particular order:

First: Conversations about grief and grieving. Not many opportunities come about in daily life for those. People close to me are much more interested in making sure I’m “all right,” which to them means I’m not expressing loss and longing. That makes it easier for me to talk about grief with people I don’t see all the time; they tend to be more curious than concerned, and curiosity is what opens doors in search of answers. Those chats are emotional gold for me—the chance to share in the hope it’ll help someone else, yes, but also the opportunity to better understand myself and the process.

Second: The Sirens Fight Club. Hooking up with women who understand the subtle and overt challenges of choosing to train—to openly enjoy—combat arts is exhilarating. Truly, I wanted another entire weekend to spend with these women, and I knew so within the first few minutes of our meeting. We’re going to plot out a proposal or two for next year. Truly, between us, we could offer a multi-day workshop!

Hmm…

Third: Laurie Marks. I’ve said before I am grateful for, and humbled by, the female fantasy writers who “raised” me in this crazy world of storytelling. Laurie was the first published writer I’d ever met, the first to teach me about critique groups, the first to give me feedback on my very first attempted novel. I was nineteen and stupid and arrogant and ambitious, and when she told me I used too many gerunds, I had to go home and look up the word (in an actual printed dictionary, no less!) because I hadn’t a clue. We lost touch a few years later, and the more years that passed, the more awkward it felt to pop back into her life with a “Hey, remember me?”

Twenty-five years passed that way.

Nervousness remained as Sirens came closer, until I passed Laurie in the hall on the second day and re-introduced myself.

And was given a full smile and a tight hug and an invitation to lunch with her and Deb. Catching up was wonderful and too brief, but there isn’t a shred of awkwardness or nervousness on my part remaining. There will not be a horrible time-gap again!

All of that was Sirens for me.

The conference will be in Colorado again next year, but this time up in Vail at a marvelous luxury resort that—and this is the incredible part—will cost little more than the rooms down in Denver.

You want to do this, my darlings. You want to do this so, so badly.

You want to come to Vail in October, when it might be clear and merely crisp at sundown only to give way to snow-covered mountainsides by sunrise. When we will celebrate the women of fantasy who not only hold power in their own right, but wield it as well. Women of strength. Women of magic.

Women we all know.

Women like you.

#SFWApro

Sirens! Tomorrow!

Sirens begins tomorrow!

(Well, Sirens Studio is actually already in progress, but I couldn’t swing my schedule into alignment until the conference itself.)

But I am excited!  I pick up a friend at the airport tomorrow morning, then head to the hotel to meet up with existing friends and meet some new ones.  A couple folks have volunteered to help out with “The Movement You Don’t See (it’s a low-low-impact workshop, but I did want to demo a couple things that some might find uncomfortable), so I’ll get to meet up with them, too.

My son has been such a good sport, helping me decide what to leave in and take out of the presentation.  My inclination is to teach a three-hour class, so keeping it all within an hour is a bit of a challenge.

So if you’re attending Sirens, find me and say hello!  If you’re in the Denver area and not attending, drop me a line if you’d like to BarCon for awhile anyway!

 

Sirens in Six

In just about six weeks, Sirens will begin in Denver. This year’s theme is Lovers… so of course I proposed a fight-related workshop.

(Hey, I wasn’t the only one! Amy Boggs is presenting “Love is a Battlefield: Weapons and Methods for When Love Goes Wrong.”)

The workshop I’ll be presenting is “The Movement You Don’t See.” We’ll be discussing and using pieces of kata to explore and understand things like power generation, grounding, and the like. It won’t be about “pretty” kata, but its practical applications. And though movement will be a part of it, intensity will be low. I want participants to understand and be cognitive of the internal experience of fighting stances, strikes, and the like. Once we add the adrenaline of intensity, those thoughts are processed differently. If there’s time, I’d love to go over some of the “hidden” pieces of kata and its grappling implications.

Here’s an added cool thing: Anyone can sponsor a Sirens workshop or panel for only $35. Alas, it’s too late for sponsors to be listed in the program, but if you sponsor “The Movement You Don’t See,” I’ll make a grand sign indicating your sponsorship–your name, or “in memory of,” or, “in the name of,” or “prefers anonymity.” Heck, I’ll make the sign no matter who you sponsor!

So if you’ve the inclination, head over to the Sirens page on sponsorships and support, and check out the listing of Accepted Programming. $35 is all it takes!

468 x 60 Banner

 

#SFWApro

Pro Does Not Require Con

So it seems to be the time of year for discussing the relevance and/or purpose and/or importance of authors attending conventions.

There is this article from Sunny Moraine on the melancholy of non-con attendance. There’s this from Kameron Hurley, which opens with its own kind of sadness but ends with an urging, from the perspective of earned regard, to include those who aren’t already A Part Of in the convention experience. There’s the one from Chuck Wendig, which acknowledges a writer’s career isn’t dependent on cons but also goes on to name big professional reasons you better go anyway. There’s the cost breakdown from Marko Kloos, which makes the entirely relevant and under-discussed point that cons cost actual money that many folks simply don’t have.* And then there’s Harry Connolly’s take on convention attendance, which weighs the potential/implied/presumed social connections against the personal costs of convention attendance.

Also out there are numerous exchanges between newer pros and neo-pros who are, to varying degrees, afraid their inability to attend the same conventions as Big Name Authors and Editors will permanently and irrevocably damage their ability to thrive in traditional publishing because they’re not connecting properly. Alongside those conversations—parallel, rather than intersecting—is discussion of highly successful self-publishing writers who are, after achieving wide reader acceptance and earning solid money, considering attending conventions in order to see if there’s an advantage to it.

So let me tell you my little convention conclusions, from the perspective of someone who once wanted a trad-publishing contract and opted to quit, who came back to novel writing only because self-publishing was an option, and who has watched aspiring writers hunt down and dig up any scrap of helpful information for about twenty years.

Continue reading Pro Does Not Require Con

Does Convention Visibility Matter?

In the past few weeks, I’ve seen many successful writers make mention of the issue of visibility – the connecting of interested reader with published story.  These writers were not happy with their current visibility, and all commented about how difficult it was to know what would and wouldn’t work to increase success.  And these writers are trade-published, having the same conversation self-published writers have every day.

Gen Con’s Writer Symposium was quite educational in that regard.

A panel on how to get reviews was very specific in how writers were to approach reviewers, with all emphasis on demonstrating proper etiquette and expecting nothing in return.  The writer should submit a request.  The writer shouldn’t expect a response.  One panelist stated publishers didn’t do the reviewer-approaching for most writers anymore and the other panelists nodded agreement.  The consensus was that all but the most-publicized writers should expect to actively seek and collect their own reviews.  Whether the trade-published author was expected to send the reviewer an ARC and/or eARC at their own cost wasn’t clear to me.

As the panelists went into greater detail on the methods of gaining reviews and properly reacting to reviews, I was thinking to myself it was great information.  I’d love to approach other reviewers and–fingers crossed!–achieve a little positive visibility.  Here was the roadmap, right?

Nope.

Continue reading Does Convention Visibility Matter?

I’m Making Progress AND Sense

Yes! I’ve been at Wiscon — hanging out with folks I know, getting to know those folks better, and meeting new people I hope to see more of in the future.

My panels went well! I had fun answering questions and comments from the audience, and learned quite a bit from my fellow panelists, and managed to speak my ideas without (as far as I can tell) being obnoxious or too chatty.*

Later I attended a panel on SFWA and decided to share my opinions.  Things seemed to be decently received by some and more enthusiastically by others.  Now I have a few decisions to make on that front.  I’m currently intrigued enough to consider trying to track down the possibility a copy of a decade-old contract with Speculon might yet exist somewhere…  (That would be proof of my third qualifying sale.)

And why would I want to join now, after I’ve made it pretty darn clear I’d decided against it?  Good question. I’ve a multi-hour drive e tomorrow during which I can think it through and decide if I’m wishful thinking or if there was actual interest in that room.   Suffice it to say the SFWA panelists gave me just enough encouragement to think of possibilities and what part I might be willing to play.

I’ll share more about that later.

We Shall See.

*When I teach, I teach by myself, and thus had to remind myself the things are panels not solos. 🙂

My Wiscon Schedule!

Just a little less than three weeks to Wiscon! I’m so excited to see folks I know and meet folks I don’t.

I’m on a couple panels this year.

Taking Care of the Writer’s Body
Saturday 1:00pm – 2:15pm
Writing is usually not considered to be a physically demanding occupation, but it does take its toll. Eye strain, aching backs, and repetitive motion disorders are common complaints. What can we do to keep our bodies healthy while we write? How can we adapt our workspaces to accommodate injuries or disabilities? Ergonomic keyboards? Voice recognition software? Treadmill desks?

The Joys of Failure
Sunday 10:00am – 11:15am

All too often, we treat failure as a bad thing that stops us rather than a feedback mechanism to help us be more awesome if we try again—especially those of us who are targeted by oppression. The inner statistician might keep track of all the shots that we miss while playing basketball and the inner critic might fill us with regret for trying, guilt for failing, or shame for being the kind of person who does so, but nobody can ever know how many shots we might have made if we had tried again. Some of these ideas were expressed recently in the Failure Club series on Yahoo Screen, which featured the trials and failures of eight brave New Yorkers who dared to hope for extraordinary results. This panel is an opportunity to look at failures through a more empowering lens.

I opted into the first panel because of my background in wellness. I chose the second one because I’ve researched failure, and have even delivered a couple keynote addresses on the topic of failure and resilience. I’m hoping I can be a good panelist, and helpful to those who come with questions.

Why no writing panels? Because I’d still rather listen to others put forth their ideas than listen to my own. 🙂

I’ll also be volunteering for a bit at the Broad Universe table in the Dealer’s Room (schedule unknown at this time).