Tag Archives: conventions

New Connections and the NaNo Thing

was not as enthusiastic about MileHiCon this year for a couple admittedly ego-centric reasons, and because I was tired and had had such a wonderful and unique Sirens experience. But I’d made commitments, and so I went.

Thank. Goodness.

At the SFWA meeting, I in-person connected with Nathan Lowell–a wonderful indie writer I’d communicated with online, and waved to once at another local con. We chatted until needing to run off to respective panels, then met up again for whiskey in the afternoon. Eventually we were joined by three other writers–indie writers!–from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and I much enjoyed the three-ish hours we all spent together sharing experiences and encouraging more connections. There were dog stories, too, which makes everything more wonderful.

So now I’m looking at connecting with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, joining their indie publishing group, and picking brains about audio books and the like. And I’m looking at enjoying it.

(That last bit is important, you see, because I’ve determined life is too short to deal much and long with assholes. Yes, this limits my opportunities. Yes, I’m fine with that.)

Next year, I won’t be at MileHiCon, though. It’s the same weekend as Sirens. So I did spend some time convincing the folks I met they’d like to check out Sirens. ūüôā

As for NaNo… I’ve mentioned elsewhere I’m not doing the “real” NaNoWriMo. Truly, signing up on yet another website, proving my wordcount, and so on does not appeal to me. Besides, I’m starting with a pile of already-written material that will be shuffled in with newly written material, and methinks that’s not in the NaNo rules. But for the first time ever, the month of November is one during which I can give writing more time and focus because I do not have children at home, holidays with family do not require extensive travel, and my son’s early December birthday doesn’t require much planning. Thus I’m doing the nose-grindstone thing for thirty days.

So this is what the next Desert Rising book looks like this morning:

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Most of that will end up trashed or set aside for another novel, since it was first written years ago. Today’s task is to shuffle through those piles and pull out all the pieces I might want to use going forward, to integrate those pieces with the existing multiple-viewpoint outline, and translate those pieces onto the Magic Index Cards that will permit me to write the novel.

In other news, I’ll be making three frittatas and homemade caramel for apple-dipping so we can have a Halloween family dinner + trick-or-treat this evening.

#SFWApro

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‚ÄĒsurrounded 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.

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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‚ÄĒthe 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‚ÄĒto openly enjoy‚ÄĒcombat 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‚ÄĒand this is the incredible part‚ÄĒwill 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!

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#SFWApro

Lively Miscellany

Topic the First:

4th Street was a great experience this year–a great and glorious disproving of my usual silly pre-con anxiety of “This time no one will acknowledge my existence.” For me, the most wonderful parts are between and/or triggered by the scheduled events. It’s the conversations about why some authors successfully cross genre lines, examining creeping biases, opening publishing opportunities, determining themes, working with and as a beta reader, and and and… Truly, I LOVE those free-ranging conversations. I love even more that I can share them with folks who equally love them.

Part of me would be just fine with a con that had a mere three conversation-launching panels a day, and that’s the fault of fascinating people who are willing to share their thoughts and experience outside the panels.

Continue reading Lively Miscellany

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‚ÄĒparallel, rather than intersecting‚ÄĒis 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

Where the Boundaries Are Drawn

 

(This article originally appeared on These Certain Musings in July 2012.)

This story troubles me greatly.¬† It’s taken me awhile to pinpoint exactly–beyond the obvious–why.¬† During this morning’s karate class, I think I figured it out.¬† Now to see if I can articulate it.¬† I’m using a bunch of newbie-author italics and bolds.¬† Oh, well.

The decision made by the Readercon board says to me that¬†harassment happened, and that witnesses backed it up.¬† It says the behavior was not acceptable–but it was excusable.¬† A short-term banning says the boundary-crossing–which I understand included physical contact, correct me if I’m wrong–was determined to be not nice, but not a big deal.

But there’s another notion I want to discuss–a related tangent, if you will–that this situation triggered for me.¬† I don’t think it’s anything new, and it incorporates what others are saying, but I decided to post it anyway.¬† While the situation I’ve read of is the jumping-off point, I am¬†not talking about that specific situation.¬† I’m talking about generalities and probabilities, not specifics and certainties.

Statistically, the larger danger is not the creepy stranger lurking in the bushes, waiting to pounce.¬† It’s the family member or acquaintance who keeps his behavior just inside the lines of what society tells us we should expect to accept, the level of behavior we should treat with subtlety and civility, until he’s ready to attack.

But the primary danger is where society puts those lines.

Alas, many acquaintance attacks begin with the same behavior that many would deem “mere clueless rudeness.”¬† But following from place to place, invading personal space, seemingly casual touching, refusal to stop–all are behaviors we know can lead to a life-threatening attack.¬† We know this at a deep and primal level.¬† That’s why it makes us uncomfortable.

And society as a whole has agreed we may not take defensive action until after the aggressor has attacked.¬† In other words, it’s perfectly cool for the man to say he misinterpreted a woman’s actions, even though the woman is left fearing for her physical safety.¬† But if the woman takes definitive and physical action to stop an attack before it escalates, she is usually blamed for overreacting.¬† Shamed for being rude.¬† Castigated for embarrassing the one who is crossing boundaries.

Y’all know I teach self-defense.¬† One thing we discuss and practice at length is the correlation between distance, time, and safety.¬† The greater the distance between you and danger, the more time there is to react.¬† The more time you have, the greater the likelihood of reaching safety.

But the good manners women are taught draw the lines of “appropriate” response inside an average person’s reaction time, inside the point of likely success.¬† It isn’t the man’s superior strength or size that is most dangerous.¬† It’s the fact we’re not permitted to take action against him until he’s already gained the advantage.

If society wants the woman to take defensive action only after she has been isolated, restrained, or struck, society is placing the woman’s right to protect herself far behind the man’s desire to avoid being embarrassed by his own behavior.¬† Clueless or intentional–I don’t care.¬† The aggressor’s feelings are given a higher value than the woman’s safety.¬† And frankly, it’s the ones who claim cluelessness who are more dangerous.¬† If they claim they don’t understand, “Please leave me alone,” they can’t be trusted to understand, “I don’t want to have sex with you,” either.

There is one thing I try to hammer home–for myself as much as for my students–in an attempt to override that societal conditioning:¬† If someone places an unwanted hand on me, that person has forfeited the right to said hand.¬† If it is on my body, it belongs to me, to do with as I think appropriate for the situation.¬† That might mean a pointed but low-key removal of the hand from my shoulder, or a blatant and painful pinky-finger twist, or something more aggressive.

(If my intuitions–which should be trusted–are telling me the man isn’t going to comply with my words, I hope to all that’s worth hoping to I’d do what I’ve been trained to do.¬† Saying with complete conviction that I’d do X would really be nothing but bravado.¬† We all¬†hope we’ll know what to do, but it’s after you’ve faced a confrontation that you realize how unpredictable it can be.¬† Anyway.)

My actual response isn’t as important as knowing, deep down, that a person who harasses me, touches me, and tries to corner me has forfeited the right to polite words and civilized reactions.¬† I don’t need to be his teacher first, and verbally remind him to be a man rather than asshole.¬† If he hasn’t already learned, that isn’t my problem to solve nor my fault to bear.

If you tell a woman her “appropriate” boundary is within an unwanted¬†hug–when her ability to strike is impaired, her ability to flee gone, and her body possibly at the mercy of another person’s strength and mass–you’ve decided you’d rather see her come to harm than upset the “civilized” nature of an event.

Really think about that for a moment.¬† Consider the term “acceptable losses.” ¬†Now put faces to those losses. ¬†Put that in context of what price we’re willing to pay to keep those lopsided and threatening situations from being an “embarrassment.”¬† The physical and emotional wellbeing of the¬†person ¬†is of less value than the feelings of a man who may choose to pursue¬†a woman who tells him to leave her alone.

Distance = time = safety.  No amount of training can compensate for a societal requirement that the woman wait until she is hurt and restrained before fighting back.

I can’t speak to what Readercon’s decision means to those who are involved or¬†those who have faced similar situations.¬† That’s for others–who have more¬†con-going experience than I–to explain and discuss.¬† It’s just this little sliver of self-defense I’m addressing.
Notes:
1.  All of the above applies equally to men who have been assaulted by men or women, and women who have been assaulted by women.  I struggled with what pronouns to use, and decided to default to the genders specific to the Readercon situation for the sake of clarity.

2.¬† I’ve had women ask me some variation of, “But what if it’s one of your husband’s friends, and he’s drunk, and he doesn’t mean any harm?” My response is some variation of, “But what if the next time he cops a feel, it’s your teenage daughter?”

3. Yes, it’s possible to turn an unwanted hug to your advantage, but not for the average person.¬† If that nitpick is the best response someone can come up with, I expect it to be followed by, “So let’s give everyone a year’s worth of Krav Maga training!”