WorldCon Day… WorldCon

This being my third WorldCon, I’ve come to learn that there comes a point during the convention where days stop having meaning.  There are panels, people, scrambles for food, more people, parties, then a weary collapse into a bed where just enough sleep is achieved that you can do it all over again the next day.  In that regard, this WorldCon hasn’t been any different than the others I’ve attended.

Because my phone tells me so, I know that it is Saturday.  I’m writing this post from the lobby of the other hotel.  I’ll talk about that in a moment.

Friday morning was just like Thursday morning, in that I got up, took a leisurely jaunt to the con suite where I had an apple and some water for breakfast.  Then I went to join up with a bunch of people to do the Walk with the Stars.  Again, it was a sweaty almost-forced march along the river.  It’s a great way to wake up and get the blood flowing, except for how hot it is.  I wound up shuffling off to my first panel of the morning with my shirt clinging to my skin.

The first panel was about converting books to ebook format.  I hadn’t looked into it before that panel, and wasn’t sure what was going to be involved.  It turns out that I really only needed to be there for the first two minutes, where the presenter explained that you need to know a little bit of HTML and CSS to be successful.  There was a hand-out as well, so I didn’t need to take notes.  It wasn’t a terrible panel, it just wasn’t one that I needed to attend.

After the panel I hurried on to a Kaffeeklatsch with Lee Harris, the main editor with Angry Robot.  Lee Harris is a fantastic individual.  He talked about Angry Robot and shared with us some interesting information about how Angry Robot selects new authors.  Everyone I’ve met associated with Angry Robot is just fantastic, and Lee Harris is no exception.

After the Kaffeeklatsch, I deviated from the WorldCon routine that I’d established two years ago.  I let my schedule go, and just sort of wandered.  I went to the Dealer’s Room and visited with Howard Taylor and his people.  I also met up with Greg Close and M Todd Gallowglas.  Greg Close is a great guy, and has been sharing his table space with Michael and another man, whose name I don’t fully remember.  I remember that it is Bill, and that he’s selling his Dad’s books.

We went to lunch together in the food court.  After that, I wandered again.  Around 3PM, it occurred to me that I could head back to my room and write for about an hour.  I opened my laptop, edited a few words, and realized that I was very sleepy.  I napped for about an hour, which is very unusual for me.

I got up and out in time to make it to George R. R. Martin’s reading.  I let him spoil a little bit of the book I’m reading so that I could hear him read a chapter from book 6 of Ice and Fire.  It was really good!  He took a few questions and talked about some other stuff he’s working on.  He’s a very intelligent, well-spoken presenter.

When the reading was through, it was time for dinner.  I met up with Michael, Greg, and Jim Doty for dinner.  There was nothing interesting or exciting about the food, but the company was excellent.

With dinner done, I went off to help set up the room for the Convolution party.  Once the setup was done, the evening of partying began.

There isn’t a ton I can say about the parties.  There are tons of people floating around in different states of inebriation.  Myself, I had a little bit of wine, and a tiny bit of Scotch under Michael’s useful instruction.  I mostly drank water, though.  I wished that I had had more alcohol in my system, as that would have greased the gears for being social.

Meeting people and talking casually is a little bit outside my comfort zone, but it’s what you do at the parties.  Being pressed in by bodies on all sides, inundated with all of the sound and noise that comes with that is downright uncomfortable, but is a part of the con nightlife that must be endured.  I did my best, forced a smile on my face whenever I remembered to, and occasionally squirmed my way out to the hallway to catch my breath.

In spite of the things I’m complaining about, and in spite of myself, I did have a good time.  I met some fun and interesting people, and I think a lot of them got the impression that I was fun and interesting, too.

Before I put a bow on this blog post, let me touch on the Convolution party again, and explain why my daily wrap-up is going up the following morning rather than that night.  The laptop that the party host had brought wasn’t going to work for what she wanted it to, so I volunteered my laptop.  I had enough presence of mind to remember to close out my party evening at the Convolution party so that I could get my laptop.  I was too tired to remember to actually take it with me.

Today, I slept in a tiny bit, and I didn’t go on the Walk with the Stars.  I’ll write later tonight about how the rest of the day went.


WorldCon Day 1, For Reals

It’s close to midnight in San Antonio, and I’m having trouble forming interesting words to recap today’s experiences. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had a phenomenal day. I just might not have the words at hand to talk about it in an interesting fashion.

It started off with me getting up early enough to make it to the Walk with the Stars. This is basically just a morning stroll around the local area with some of the distinguished guests of the convention. This morning, there was Phil Foglio and Lawrence Shoen and one or two others that I don’t remember. The walk was around an hour long, and the San Antonio weather was warm and humid. By the time we got back to the convention center, my shirt was sticking to my skin from the sweat.

I went back to my room, cooled off and ensured that I wouldn’t offend anyone’s noses, and then went on to the con suite to get an apple for breakfast. I also drank a bottle of water. My wife would be proud of me.

I talked to lots of interesting people. The unfortunate thing for me is that I am fairly terrible with names. Everyone says that, but I really do struggle sometimes. I suppose meeting a large number of people in a short time exacerbates the situation a bit.

One person I ran into was Jim Doty, a fairly successful self-published author. I first met Jim at Westercon a few months ago. It was over dinner with Jim and Michael that I determined that I needed to stop whining about writing and start acting like a proper writer. In other words, it was partly because of Jim that I started this blog in the first place, so I was fairly pleased to run into him.

We talked for a little bit, went our separate ways, and I eventually wandered into the dealer’s room when it opened. To my surprise, Lee Harris from Angry Robot recognized me from last year and greeted me warmly. I chatted with him very briefly, but walked away feeling like a celebrity.

Wandering around a bit more in the dealer’s room, I found myself at the bookbaby.com table, where I ran into Julia, another person that I recognized from last year. We talked for a bit, and eventually I went to lunch with Julia’s assistant Christine. It was Christine’s first WorldCon, and either from the excitement of being at the con, or from travel fatigue, she forgot her bag at the lunch court. We had only stepped away from our table for a moment, but it was gone when she went back to get it. Fortunately, it had been turned in to lost and found, and she was able to get it back fairly quickly.

Then I was off to my first panel, which was all about how to get an agent. Like in Reno and Chicago, I took thorough notes. It was mostly a Q & A, and I wrote down some good information. It was mostly stuff I already knew, but it still kept my interest.

After the panel, I returned to my room for a few minutes. I dropped off my laptop before heading down for a Kaffeeklatsch with Shiela Williams. Shiela Williams was the celebrity I got to speak to at my very first Kaffeeklatsch in Reno. She was just as interesting to talk to this time as she was last time. When the Kaffeeklatsch was finished, I wound up walking her back to the Rivercenter hotel so that she could make it to Opening Ceremonies.

Shortly after that, I met up with Michael. I hung out with him as he went through registration, and then we went together into the Dealer’s Room to catch up with some more people. We wound up going to Howard Taylor’s booth, and met up with some absolutely fantastic people. They invited Michael and I to their room, where they had a kitchen and they made us dinner. It was a simple meal, but it was tasty, and it was made all the more delicious by their hospitality and generosity. I wish I could remember their names. I’ll have to see them again tomorrow so that I can commit their names to memory.

After dinner, Michael and I met up with Jim, and eventually went to the Booksworn party. Like most con parties, it was crowded and noisy and hot from all the warm bodies crowded together. There were drinks to be had, but I stuck with water. I’m not usually that comfortable at parties, to be perfectly honest, but I was relaxed and sociable at this one. I talked with dozens of people. I gave away bunches of business cards.

And now I’m back in my room, preparing to do the voodoo I need to do in order to post this. I wish I could add links for all of the people I mentioned, because they’re all amazing. WorldCon is fantastic. As I told some people earlier today, this con is like vitamins for me. I come here and just feel better. I’m going to be exhausted in the end, but it’ll be a good, well earned exhaustion.


WorldCon, Day… 1?

Okay, technically, this is more like Day 0. Everything actually starts tomorrow, but I was able to get my registration done today, get some cool swag, and check out the facilities, which are exceptional.

Let’s start from the beginning.

My flight took off from Sacramento at 6:30AM, which meant that I needed to get up around 3:30AM in order to have enough time to get there and get through security. That is, if I’m going by the recommendation to get to the airport 2 hours early. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I got up early.
It was hard getting up that early, but everything else was quite effortless. I didn’t have any problem with parking, and I didn’t have to wait for the shuttle to get me to the terminal. It’s like someone went ahead of me and greased the travel machines.

Normally, I’m an enormous baby when it comes to flying. This morning, however, I was comfortable and at ease. I listened to some more of A Dance with Dragons. I was as calm as I’ve ever been during the landing in Salt Lake City, where I had a very brief layover. I didn’t even have to travel very far to get to the connecting flight.

For the last hop into San Antonio, my seat was upgraded, and I wound up next to someone else traveling for WorldCon. We talked the entire flight, which made the last hop go very quickly. Landing in San Antonio was a little rough, but I mostly handled it well.

This isn’t the most exciting of my blog posts. I, the hero of this story, was never in any real danger, and I didn’t run into any adversity. As a writer, I recognize the danger of having a lack of conflict in my tale. As the hero, however, the writer can go jump in a lake. I hope all the stories I star in are frought with such boring ease and comfort.

I acquired some gifts for families and friends. I’m not going to talk too much about them at this moment, since those people are my only readers. I will say that I did well, and it was wise of me to do my shopping before the convention got into full swing.

The evening ended with me sitting on a padded bench in the Orlando bid party. I was really surprised that there were any parties at all on Wednesday evening. I talked with a few people that have tables in the dealers lounge, and learned some very interesting things about how coins are made.

If you’re reading this, then I have figured out how to type my blog posts on my laptop, transfer them to my phone, and then post them through my internet connection there. We shall call these technique Technomancy.


Pre-WorldCon Ramblings

My work week is finished!  Tomorrow, I get on a plane for WorldCon!!

I find it difficult to express just how excited I am to go to this event.  I expressed it a bit last year, when someone interviewed me and M. Todd Gallowglas after Chicon was done.  In regards to that video, I have to say that I’m glad it came out as well as it did.  I almost said some stuff in it that would have been permanently, irrevocably embarrassing.

Okay, let’s blab about WorldCon in general.

It is the yearly event that I look forward to the most, now.  When I was in the Air Force, it was a different convention, Dundracon, that I looked forward to.  I loved gaming, and I knew that I’d be able to meet up with my good friend David there.  It was a yearly voyage where I’d get to go and feel like I was going home.

Now it’s WorldCon.  Ever since Reno, WorldCon has built up more and more in my mind.

It doesn’t even make all that much sense, really.  I’m not a published author yet.  I’m not a very passionate fan, and indeed, I don’t recognize most of the names of the writers that are in attendance.  I’m not particularly good at the networking aspect.  There might not be that much more information I can get from the panels that I haven’t heard already.

And yet, I still feel like this is Shangri La, or Brigadoon, or some other magical place that I’ll get to visit.  Maybe it’s the open, welcoming community that I feel I have so much in common with.  Maybe it’s the dream that one day I’ll go to a WorldCon and be the guy that people want to see on panels, or sign books.  Maybe it’s the experiences, such as the Kaffeeklatsch where I got to discover just how awesome Hugh Howey is as he served me and the other visitors water, and gave us signed copies of his books.  Or that Tor party where Emma Newman talked with me for more than an hour and a half, giving me the most amazing encouragement to keep on writing.

It’s all of that and more.

Reno was the WorldCon that woke me up and reminded me that I like Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and that I should be writing.  Chicago was the WorldCon where I picked up some advice and started to take to heart the things I needed to actually do the writing.  What does San Antonio hold for me?  I can’t wait to find out!


A Busy Sunday Morning

I’ve been busy and productive!  It’s important to include both parts.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been simply busy, but didn’t actually produce anything.

With the new school year begun, it was time to sit back, wait for the bar to come down, and get ready to ride the roller coaster ride that is Computer Club.  I started it last year, because while I believe in my kids’ school, I find their computer science division to be sorely lacking.  One might even describe it as nonexistent.  So starting last year, I left work early two days a week in order to fill the brains of students with what I know about computer programming, heaven help them.

It went okay.  I made some mistakes, the main one being that I had kids ranging from 6th grade through high school.  The age range was too wide, which lead to the pace of the whole program being too slow and varied, which lost the interest of the serious students.  So this year, I’m narrowing it to high school age only.  I’ll probably wind up with very few students this year, but maybe that’ll be better, too.  We will see.

Here is the new web site I put up for the Computer Club.  My plan is to use it heavily for keeping notes and staying on track in maintaining a solid pace.

In other news, I went to a Shut Up and Write event yesterday and I got a ton of writing done!  In addition to adding about 2500 words to my book, I plotted out some more of the backstory.  I’m not a huge plotter, but it needed to be done in order for the context of what I’m currently writing to make sense.  To rephrase, my characters were entering a place where they’d been before but couldn’t remember, and I needed to figure out what they did while they were there before.  It’s way more confusing to describe than it is to just read.

Tonight, the band I play with has a performance.  That should be fun!  Some of the stuff we’ll be playing should go over really well.  Some of it, I expect to be a bit of a train wreck.

Tomorrow or the next day, I’ll post about WorldCon!


It’s So Meta Even This Acronym

So this is a post, about posting, and comments on posts.  It’s amazingly circular and self referential.  So let’s get to it…

First of all, I have no idea how many people actually read these posts.  I’m not promoting it too terribly much, yet.  At this point, this whole blog is an experiment to try and keep my blood hot about writing, and possibly provide a means for my friends and family to peer into my life and see how things are wriggling.  I don’t mind if I’m not getting a bunch of viewers yet.  Either I will get more traffic, or I won’t.  It’s too easy to lose track of the reason I’m writing this blog, just like it’s too easy to lose track of why I’m writing.  I’m not doing either to get rich or famous, but to satisfy my own desires in pursuit of a dream.

That being said, it is a little bit disconcerting that of the 8 comments I’ve received, 5 of them have been spam trying to get me to promote my site.  One of them looked like it might have been written by a real human being.  The robots are truly becoming cunning linguists.

(If you needed proof I’m doing this blog for my amusement, you need only look at that last sentence.)

I would like to see more genuine comments, and it would be nice to know that other people are reading what I’m writing.  I just have to remember that having people read these words is the icing and the sweetness.  The cake is being able to look back and see that I’ve been sticking with it, and that I’ve continued to write and post to this blog.

So I suppose this is my admission that I’m pretentious, and that I think I’m the most important reader of my blog.  But if you’re not me, and you have been stopping by from time to time, thank you!  You’re a very close second.

(FYI: The title of this post is based on this XKCD post.  I love XKCD)


Describing my World

I heard back from my friend Tim, and he’s willing to do cover art for me.  I’m really excited about it!  Tim is a fantastic artist, and as we were growing up, I always assumed that our stars would rise together, me with my writing and him with his visual art.  He and I both lost our way for a while, but we’re both finding our way back to our dreams.  It would be fantastic if we could help each other achieve them.

He asked me some questions to help him visualize the setting in my story, and it was a good exercise for me.  I had done quite a bit of thinking about what the characters looked like before I launched into the story, but I only had some vague notions as to what the world actually looked like.  There’s some geography in my head, some of which won’t even show up in the book.  But the architecture?  The building styles?  I hadn’t given it that much thought.

As I told Tim, my setting is relatively low fantasy.  There aren’t any elves in the woods, or dwarves in their mines.  The world of A Clean Slate is primarily occupied by dirty, sweaty humans.  They don’t have medicine.  They’re not far off from starving, and if it weren’t for some key elements of the story, they’d be fighting each other and dying more often than living.  You could compare it to Game of Thrones, except I gave everyone a lobotomy and removed sexism.  The book I’m writing is my fantasy, not George’s.

Actually, I really wouldn’t want to live in the world I’m writing about.  I like the comforts of home and the wonders of modern technology.  It’s an interesting world, the way a tragedy is interesting.

I have a really long ways to go, still.  The word count isn’t climbing that quickly, and my focus the last couple of weekends has been almost non-existent.  Maybe I can coax out some more speed by setting a finish date.  I’m hesitant to do that, though.  I’m enjoying the process at the moment.  I just need to slice out more time.


Gaming: My Kryptonite or My Muse?

We drove back from Disneyland last week on a Wednesday, putting us home around 5PM.  As it was a Wednesday, I met up with M. Todd Gallowglas and we wrote together.  I expected to be too tired to get much done, but it was a surprisingly good writing session.

After that, I allowed exhaustion to take me, and I pretty much took a week off from writing altogether.  I mostly studied WiX at work on Thursday and Friday, and I dedicated the weekend to basically doing nothing.  I think it was the right decision.  I needed to rest and recharge.

Since I met up with Mr. Gallowglas again last night and had another fruitful writing endeavor, I thought I’d try to make another post here.

So let’s talk about the thing that got me into writing, and the thing that pulls me away from it: gaming.

I’ve talked a little bit before about what started my writing itch.  I had enjoyed something a friend had written, and thought I’d try it myself.  What I didn’t mention is that often, writing was something I did between computer games.  I’d get a game for the Apple, exhaust it, and then fire up Appleworks because I wanted to do something on the computer.

That was the start of the relationship between gaming and writing for me.  Eventually, that relationship changed because the games moved from the Apple to the Nintendo, and there was no vehicle there to capture my attention once the game was consumed.

When gaming changed from digital games to roleplaying games, there was another shift for me.  I would create characters for the games and then find that I wanted to do something with them between games.  Writing stories for them was the answer, and I wrote bunches of trite short stories starring my characters.  Starting in my late 20s, writing became the means by which I would flesh out a character before playing him.  In fact, one of my favorite pieces of writing is a journal written for a character in a game.

It would seem from this that gaming is a boon to my writing, right?  Well…

I don’t have a lot of people to play roleplaying games with anymore.  That type of gaming requires scheduling.  It often requires commitments of time and money that aren’t always in ample supply.  Most of the people I used to play games with either live some distance away from me now, making regular gaming problematic, or their lifestyles have changed such that they just don’t have room for gaming anymore.

That leads us back to computer games.  The graphics are so much better than when I was my son’s age.  The stories in some of these games can be so compelling, too (I’m looking at you, Bioshock Infinite).  Sometimes, the games themselves serve to remind me of roleplaying games and stories that I enjoyed in the past.

That’s what I wound up doing quite a bit this last weekend.  The bulk of the “nothing” that I did was playing Shadowrun Returns, which did an amazing job of delivering on the world of Shadowrun that I enjoyed so much in the past.  I played through it twice, and I’m hesitant to open the game again, lest I get sucked in to play all the way through a third time.