Saturday, August 31, 2013

Con, Descending

Was there ever a convention called Con Descending? There must have been. Punning is as deeply ingrained in fen as arguing, Monty Python quotes and the phrase, "Not a question, more of a comment..."

Regardless: Conventions. The gatherings of the geek tribes. Nerdhallas. Cons.

With two big exceptions, about which more later, my involvement in fandom-related conventions has mainly been tied to being the co-creator and co-writer of Xeno's Arrow. Even before Greg Beettam and I launched our own comic, I went to small local comic cons to hang out with my friends and help crew the Egesta Comics table. I started on at cons being on the creator's side of the table, in other words. I didn't attend a comics convention as a "fan" (as distinct from a "pro", for certain values of "pro", of course) for years.

So, for the most part, I stopped attending conventions when I stopped having a comic to sell to the unwitting masses. Greg and I have occasionally had a table at Toronto's big outdoor literary festival, Word On The Street. And while we haven't had a table there, I attend the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) every year, as a fan/enthusiastic reader/lover of comics.

I find that I miss cons. As the Labour Day long weekend approaches, I find myself missing them even more than usual. That's because there are two major conventions over this weekend - Dragon Con, in Atlanta, and the WorldCon, which this year is in San Antonio, Texas (WorldCon moves around from year to year, like the Olympics).

The two cons are very different in size, scope and character. Dragon Con is a huge media-driven nerd fest, with tons of programming tracks covering every kind of fandom. I believe that it's second in size in North America only to Nerd Prom itself, the San Diego Comic Con. Cosplay is a major, major element

WorldCons, wherever they are, are rather different. WorldCon skews older and is focused exclusively on literary science fiction and fantasy. There's some steampunkery and people in cool hats, but you won't find many Stormtrooper or Catwoman costumes. The Hugo Awards are presented at WorldCon. It's an order of magnitude smaller than Dragon Con.

I am, however, told that the partying at WorldCon is just as intense. Make of that what you will.

If my Twitter feed is to be believed, everyone in the world except me is at one of these two conventions. Or, okay, it might just feel that way. Regardless, missing on out con season is hitting me especially hard this year. 

It's funny, because when Greg and I were actively publishing the comic, cons were part of the job. They were exciting and fun and a wonderful opportunity to see and spend time with the friends we'd made through comics, certainly, but that wasn't supposed to be the point. The point was go somewhere where we could meet existing and potential readers, and hopefully sell them comics. I wouldn't have gone to a convention just for the excitement and fun and camaraderie - I was a pro. Or, rather, a "pro", but still.

I remember a lot of conventions from those days. Guess how many of my memories have to do with how much money we made? 

So yes, I miss cons. I miss the excitement and the fun and the camaraderie. Attending conventions is another part of my life where I'd like to get back from erstwhile. Of course, in this case, in addition to being a time thing, it's also a money thing -- hotels and air fares and paying ten bucks for a sandwich adds up. But there are options that won't cost an arm and a leg or take a week out of my life -- and for the options that would, I can dream, and plan.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This Is What I'm Doing: The End of August 2013 Edition (and a Slight Declaration of War)

So, first order of business - I feel kind of compelled to say this whenever I go radio silent for a while, these days - yes, I am indeed still alive. Busy, but well overall.

But since it has been a while since my last post, I'm going to defer the exciting conclusion of my epic 'A Not All That Hilarious Heart Attack' series for now, and instead do a scattershot update on the state of the me.

The Summer of Live
I've been focusing on home and family over this summer. Partly, just because that's what I've been most interested in doing, but also partly out of necessity. The kids have been out of school and unfortunately, the summer activities we had hoped to get them into didn't quite pan out - the demand for summer services for autistic kids being rather in excess of supply. Which would be complicated enough, and has been a huge amount of work for Sarah, who's been at home with them full-time while I've been at work. But on top of that, the change to activity levels has switched up their sleep cycles. They've always been night owls compared to typically-developing peers, and now they are up late. Late. Very late.  The opposite of early, is what I'm saying here. L-A-T-E.

This means that we don't get our usual time to unwind or do stuff after the kids are in bed - and we're up so late, I haven't been able to get up early, either. Although Sarah has done her level best to support me getting time to get out of the house and do me-time things, including writing, it hasn't always been possible, and I certainly haven't been anywhere near as creatively productive over the summer as I imagined I would be, before we realized how impacted we were going to be by the kids' schedules going wonky.

On the plus side, the kids are happy and healthy, and they're cheap dates - the splash pad at the local park will keep them entertained for hours. I love getting to spend time with them, and minor kvetching about free time aside, it's been a wonderful summer.

But boy, am I ever looking forward to the day after Labour Day this year!

Write On
Not as productive as I imagined doesn't mean that I haven't been productive at all. I've been polishing and submitting my short fiction - I generally have two or three stories out to market at any given time. No sales yet. This has had the beneficial side effect of making me much less sensitive about rejection, and will make the eventual acceptance, at whatever publication that ends up being, even sweeter. I expect that I'll be hard to shut about about that when it finally happens.

And revisions to the novel continue - that's really been the big-ticket project this summer. I'm about half-way through the manuscript, but since notes from my readers are a bit thinner on the ground in the second half of the story (because it was, you know, better than the first half) I'm likely more than half done. Then it'll be a matter of doing a final read through, making my own notes, and the resulting final buffing to get it into shape.

And then I'll start shopping it around to agents.

So, this is obviously not going to be done this month as I had originally hoped - but I am in good shape to finish in September. The important thing is to start contacting agents well before December, when they'll start getting flooded with everyone's NaNoWriMo output.

More on the process of finding representation as it unfolds.

Blog! War! Declared!!!
I was reminded that it was time (okay, past time) for me to post something new by two friends who are now blogging. Nicole Winters, whose debut novel will be out in September, has been updating the blog on her new website with all sorts of interesting content, and I recommend you check it out - and pick up her novel when it's out, too!

And Xeno's Arrow co-creator Greg Beettam just made the inaugural post on his Bleakwhimsy blog, which I also very much encourage you to check out.

Now, so far, Greg just has the one post up. An auspicious beginning, and his clearly-stated desire to blog regularly going forward gave me an idea. With this post, I hearby declare Blog War on Greg Beettam and his Bleakwhimsy blog!

What exactly does that mean, you ask? It's a fair question, since a Blog War is something I'm pretty sure I just made up.

A Blog War is a challenge to spur us both to post more regularly. When I update my blog, the gauntlet is thrown down to Greg to respond - not to the content, although he certainly can do that if he wants - but by updating his own blog with a new post. And, to keep this interesting and fair, I'm adding a word count stipulation - the new post must meet or exceed the length of the post it's in response to. So if I update with a 500-word post, Greg's response needs to be at least 500 words - and the armour-plated glove is thereby thrown down to me to respond with a comparable post.

(Greg gets a pass on the word count of this current post, to be fair - he just needs to post something, and the length it ends up being will determine the minimum length of my post in response.)

The goal is to keep the chain unbroken and the posts flowing, challenge and response, thesis and antithesis, Bert and Ernie. And on January 1, 2014 we'll tally up our total number of blog posts between today and New Year's Eve. The blogger with the highest total number of posts wins the Blog War and gets massive bragging rights, plus... I dunno, a cookie? Greg, is a cookie a good prize?

Mr. Beettam, I await your bleak and whimsical response. And may the bloggiest blogger win!