Saturday, June 23, 2012

ConTemporal, day 3

When I attend a convention, I almost always stay at the con hotel, so I'm finding it a bit odd to commute to this con.  That said, getting to work in my own office and sleep in my own bed is nice.  The distance, though, meant that after too few hours of sleep I had to get up in the nines--never a good thing on a Saturday--work, shower, and then drive to the con.

Well, not so much to the con as by the con and on to the Owens 501 Diner for late breakfast/early lunch.  I normally prefer to eat much later, but I was booked for five straight hours starting at noon, so it was either an early lunch or no lunch at all. 

After lunch, Laura Haywood-Cory, Jennie Faries, David Drake, and I presented the Baen Traveling Roadshow, a slide show and presentation in which we discuss upcoming and recent books, show their original cover art and ultimate covers, and give away lots of swag.  The session was smaller than it is at most conventions, but the audience was great, and we all had a good time.

I went straight from it to a panel on subplots.  Sam Montgomery-Blinn, editor of Bull Spec, moderated the discussion among Tonia Brown, JM Lee, and me.  I've mentioned Sam before and had already done a panel with Tonia, but I met JM for the first time here.  She's a fifteen-year-old writer who's working on her third novel; she and her dad, who acts as her manager, self-published her first two.  Sam kept us moving along as we covered everything from how to weave in subplots to how to know you have too many.  I'm not sure how helpful our answers were, but we certainly all gave it our best.

Next up for me was a panel on finances for writers.  JoSelle Vanerhooft moderated this one. She, JM Lee, JM's dad, and I dispensed advice for writers and answered questions.  My experience is that relatively few writers handle their finances well, but I'm hopeful that more and more will learn how to do so.

I then did a book signing, after which it was work time.

Dave was on an 8:00 panel on pirates, a topic about which he knows a great deal.  I enjoyed that session, and then I bid goodbye to the con, because I won't be back Sunday due to other plans.

I must commend the ConTemporal team; they did a great job for a first-time convention. 

Dinner tonight was a delicious birthday celebration with tasty Italian food from Chapel Hill's Il Palio. I'd write more, but I'm exhausted and still have work to do, so I must turn to it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ConTemporal, day 2

Going to a local SF convention on a work day is an odd thing indeed.  I got up early after very little sleep so I could work, exercise, and have lunch.  I did a long work phone meeting in the car on the way to con. 

My first event at the con itself was a reading.  One person I didn't know showed up, as did three friends.  I read the first two chapters of No Going Back and answered questions from the person I didn't know. 

On the way out of the panel, I ran into Sam Montgomery-Blinn, editor of the SF magazine Bull Spec and general advocate of and for the local SF scene.  I foolishly posed wearing his odd metal Bull Spec glasses. 

I have never looked more like a fat, demented, freakishly short-armed dwarf than in this photo.  Wow. 

I spent the next couple of hours working in a friend's room, time that helped me catch up a bit, and then I was on back-to-back panels.  The first addressed the author/editor relationship, while the second covered revising to make a sale.  Both audiences were very small--only four people I did not know--but my fellow panelists and I did our best to be entertaining and answer all questions. 

The rest of the evening went to dinner and work, as one might expect.

Tomorrow, I hope to get to see a bit more of the con, though I also have four straight hours of panels. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ConTemporal, day 1

The con kicked off today with a Guest of Honor banquet, which a group of us attended.  Most of the food was exactly what you'd expect--hotel banquet chicken--but the rice was reasonably fluffy and tasty, and the cheesecake wasn't bad. 

The conversation and fun at our table, however, more than made up for the food.  We got to chat for a few hours with local author John Claude Bemis, who proved to be a fine fellow and whom I look forward to getting to know better.  We also enjoyed a brief visit from the con's Toastmistress, Lee Martindale. I thought some sort of presentation would follow the meal, but after half an hour of sitting about, we gave up and headed home, where work into the wee hours awaited me.

Tomorrow, I will take part in three events in which I will give a reading (if anyone shows up), talk about the author/editor relationship, and discuss how to revise to make a sale.  If you're in the area, I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where I'll be this weekend

The Triangle area plays host to a new SF convention this weekend, and I'll be a guest there. ConTemporal portrays itself as primarily a steampunk con, but some non-steampunk writers, including David Drake and me, will also be there.

They're keeping me pretty busy, as you can see from the list of events on my Appearances page.  One event we forgot to put there is the Guest of Honor banquet Thursday night at 6:00, which looks to be gathering an interesting group of folks.  In addition to being on a bunch of panels, I'll be reading something Friday afternoon.  If you're there, you can help me decide what to read.  It might be sections of No Going Back, but it could also be a mainstream story I've never read at a con, or something else entirely; you never know. 

If you're in the area, drop by the con, have a good time, and find me at one of my events and say, "hi!"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two songs that have owned my head for much of today

Sarah turned me on to this one, and it's been bouncing around my skull for quite a while.

The other is one I've featured before, but it's been all over my mind today, so I'm sharing it again.

Here's the thing: I almost never feel like I belong anywhere, but I aspire to that feeling. I suppose I aspire to feel fully human.

Is it any wonder that no matter what I think I'm doing, I end up writing stories about alienation?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Maximum Fatness croons for love

I learned tonight, somewhat by accident, that Steven Seagal, aka Maximum Fatness, has at least two CDs for sale: Songs from the Crystal Cave and Mojo Priest. Both are available as made-on-order CD-Rs from Amazon.  The former features such tunes as "Don't You Cry," while the latter offers the almost irresistible "Love Doctor."

No, I haven't listened to either song.  I'm making these judgments from the titles and my mental images of him singing them.

The questions, of course, are whether I need to own these musical masterpieces and, if I did, how often I would have to play them for everyone at the beach.

The mind boggles. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Durham Father's Day Food Truck Rodeo

I slept almost eight hours last night, which was a wonderful treat.  After a bit of a walk, I showered, and a group of us headed to Durham for the city's Father's Day Food Truck Rodeo

If you've never been to a food truck rodeo, it's basically a planned gathering of a bunch of food trucks--in this case, 35, the most I've ever seen in one place in this area.  (The link above includes a list of all the trucks and links to their sites.)  The crowds at these events range from big to insane.  My plan was to arrive late, about 2:30, and hope to miss the initial lunch rush.

The plan did not work.  The crowd was closer to insane than to big, though it wasn't so bad that one couldn't walk at all.  I had to weave through crowds a lot, and every now and then wait for a few seconds, but that was as bad as it got.  Still, I'm not sure I'm willing to fight this level of crowd again, and certainly not anytime soon.

The food we sampled ranged from tasty to delicious.  Our strategy was to buy a bunch of things and share them, with each person eating only a couple of bites.  It worked pretty well.  I sampled both brisket and pork BBQ sandwiches from Stoke and Smoke BBQ, a spicy Southwest hot dog from Big John's Hot and Spicy, a BBQ pork sandwich from Olde North State BBQ, a piece of pizza from Klausie's, and a few cupcakes from Daisy Cakes.

The weather cooperated nicely, with temperatures never hitting eighty and a clear sky.  We found a bit of shade to eat in, so no one in our group overheated.

All in all, it was a lovely way to eat an interesting lunch and spend time with friends.  Definitely check out the next one that you can make.  


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