On Worldcon 76

doctor who that can't be good

Well.  Nothing like waking up to a hot mess on Twitter.

I’ll start off by saying I have a very small pony in this horse race.   There are other writers out there, specifically writers of color, marginalized people, pro writers just starting out, and so on, that have a much bigger horse running right now.  I’m not trying to lump myself in with them or their issues regarding this convention, nor am I looking for sympathy.  I’m not saying my issues are more important than theirs; quite the opposite. This particular post is just about me.

First of all, I understand that there are more Worldcon attendees than there are panels and rooms to hold said panels.  Most of us are there as fans anyway.  I get that.  But a considerable segment of us are also writers, struggling to make a name for ourselves with minimal or no help from promotion departments.  We sign up for these conventions because it’s one of the few ways we writers know how to get our name out there.

The programming decision to leave out so many writers and professionals of all levels ‘because they’re not known’, on the other hand, is elitist, rude, and unprofessional.

I’m a self-published author and proud of it, but this decision sent a message that to me felt like I was destined to stay at the community access channel level of SFF conventions.  (Not that that’s a bad thing — BayCon and FOGcon have done me extremely well the last few years and I can’t thank them enough.)  It felt as though I hit a glass ceiling.

And imagine how that feels to others — the women, the people of color, the LGBTQ writers and fans — who get hit with this bullshit every single fucking time.

Us early career writers (and career self-publishers for that matter) rely heavily on conventions to get our names out quickly and easily, and also to network.  We especially rely on a Big-Name convention like Worldcon as a major boost to our career because of the sheer number of attendees.  We hope to be on panels and readings, because this method of exposure works for us.

Furthermore, many writers, both self-published and professional, happen to self-publish because they’re not getting any help from the regular commercial avenues.  Or that they aren’t getting the proper (or any) promotion.  Cons are a HUGE help to combat that.  And leaving them off the panels is NOT the answer.

Especially if they’ve been nominated for a Hugo this year.

I’ve also seen tweets from a few authors stating that they saw their own panel suggestions on the programming but they are not part of the panel at all.*  That might be an oversight (and a gross one at that), but it also sends a similar message: it might be your idea, but someone else more popular is going to benefit from it instead. We writers create these panels because a) we think it’s interesting and want to share it, b) it’s something relevant to our own career, and c) again, it helps put our name out there.  Keeping us off our own panels essentially closes a door in our face.

* – I was unaware the programming had gone live on the website this weekend, and it has since been taken back down, so I do not know if any of my panel suggestions have been accepted or not.

I would have loved to have been on a few panels, especially those dealing with self-publishing so I could Pay It Forward.  And to be honest, I’d also would have liked to at least gotten a form rejection letter saying I wasn’t going to be on any panels.  To not get any response at all — not even a simple ‘check our website on (date) to see if we’ve accepted you as a panelist’ — sent the message that I wasn’t worth it in the first place.

That I was still labeled a fan and not a writer, despite having multiple books out.

[Yes, I do know how rejection works in the publishing biz.  Some houses don’t even respond back because they just don’t have enough people to do it.  But this is a convention, not a publishing house.  There’s room for creativity and covering bases here.]

We’re still going, of course.  Even though I won’t be on any panels, we’re still going.  We have friends we’d like to see.  There are writers we’d like to meet.  I have freebie cards to give out, and other writers to network with.  Despite the annual wave of ‘Worldcon done fucked up again’ tweetstorms, we still have a lot of fun in general.  It’s not a complete shitshow.  Not like some cons I’ve heard about.

I’m not asking Worldcon to be perfect, flawless and infallible.  We all fuck up now and again.  All I’m asking is that they be professional and have a better awareness of the variables.  It’s a big project with a lot of moving parts that need monitoring.  And this really felt like there were a lot of people sleeping at the switch, or worse, weren’t aware of it in the first place.

EDIT:  Earlier this afternoon the Worldcon 76 committee agreed to the numerous complaints that had been placed about this issue, and have decided to “[tear] the program apart and start over.”  Good on them.  Their Twitter message can be found here.

Convention Time Coming in 2018!

anime crowd

HEY KIDS!  I’ll be hitting the science fiction convention circuit with a force next year, as we’ve just bought our registrations for three of them that will be our neck of the woods!  And yes, I’m planning on getting myself on some panels and maybe even doing a reading of something from the New Project (aka the Apartment Complex story)!

If you’re in the SF Bay area, and are at one of these, come and say hi! 🙂

March 9 – 11: FOGcon, Walnut Creek, CA

May 25 – 28: BayCon, San Mateo, CA

August 16 – 20: WorldCon 76, San Jose, CA

[I will of course be posting this elsewhere on the blog later on under an ‘Appearances’ tab and again when it gets closer to the dates…just thought I’d share the excitement now!]

two novels, finish my blueprints, begin my beguine

nowhere man typing

I’m writing this on Wednesday evening, but by the time you read this on Friday, I’ll be awake and preparing for BayCon down the road in San Mateo.  Come by and say hi if you’ll be there!

Speaking of preparation…this is officially the second convention I’ll be going to where I’m actually taking part in panels to some degree.  Which means that even though I’ll be going there mostly to have fun and meet other writers, in a way I’m also there on business.  As much as I feel more at home riffing in conversations, playing off what other people are talking about, I should also ensure that I stay on subject.  And more importantly, I should be prepared to bring up certain points that I’d like to share with the audience.

For two of the panels, the moderators reached out to the rest of us panelists for some preplanning and idea sharing, which I thought was a brilliant idea.  [The moderator for one of the panels I was on at FogCon did the same, which helped a lot then as well.]  It gives us a chance to come up with a barebones list of points to make and where we’d like the conversation to head.  It also breaks the ice a bit!  If you’re ever moderating a panel at a convention, I highly suggest doing this.

There’s also my half-page flyers to prep.  By this, it’s just a simple address label stuck in the lower corner where I’ve written something along the lines of “I’ll be at these panels.  Come and say hi!”.   If someone sees these on the freebie table, then they can follow up if they so choose.

And as always, I’ll have needed to take some allergy meds and stashed a few bottles of water with me.  Yapping on a panel for an hour or so does dry you out!

And lastly, A. and I are familiar with the area, as it’s just down the road from SF Airport.  I’m sure the hotel will have a restaurant and probably a snack shop, but it’s good to know places nearby where we can stop for take-out on the way home!

I don’t need to prepare for every detail, of course.  But doing at least the bare minimum so I’m prepared is good enough.

*

Note: Monday’s blog post will either be up late or will be up on Tuesday, due to the fact that it will be the last day of the con and I have two of the panels that day. 🙂

March 2017: a platinum celebration

platinum-record-12

Hi all!  It’s March 2017 and it’s a platinum anniversary.  Of what, you ask?  Well, it’s been twenty years since I started writing The Phoenix Effect out in the food court at Solomon Pond Mall before my day’s shift at the record store. It’s the anniversary of the Bridgetown Trilogy, after so many failed starts and misguided attempts to a solid story that evolved through multiple revisions and rewriting into the self-published e-books that are now available to the world.

It’s been twenty years since I went from okay, I’ll write something when I have the time or I’m in the mood to a much more productive outlook of I’m gonna write something every damn day even if it kills me, and made the decision to become a serious professional writer.

So!  What do I have planned for this auspicious occasion?  Well!  Glad you asked!  I’m going to have a bit of fun this month and provide you with fun behind-the-scenes stuff related to the Mendaihu Universe that I’ve accumulated over the years — outtakes, trivia, origin stories, pictures, music, drawings, and more.  I may even write and post the ‘director’s cut’ ending of A Division of Souls, which has existed only in my head for at least three years!

And to top it off, I’ll also be releasing the trade paperback of Book 3, The Balance of Light!  W00T!

Hope you enjoy the festivities!

 

 

 

HARK! I will be at FogCon 7!

YAY!  I will be at FOGcon 7 this year!

I know it’s super last minute announcement, but I’d been hedging about whether or not I’d be able to go, for various reasons.  However, thanks to personal plans (and Major Editing Projects) coming together with perfect timing, I’ll be able to make an appearance.  I may have even signed up to be on a few panels and may even do a reading…!

Which means I have one month to do some serious homework and preparation for this, my first official con as a participating author instead of just an attendee fan.

This should be quite interesting.

FOGcon 7 will be in Walnut Creek, CA, on March 10 – 12, at the Walnut Creek Marriott.

 

Hope to see you there! 🙂

Year in Review, Year to Come

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Two down, one to go.  What next?

It’s been quite a busy year here in Spare Oom.

Most of the time was spent focusing on releasing the first edition of The Persistence of Memories as well as cleaning up and releasing the next edition of A Division of Souls.  And once those were taken care of, I focused solely on the Big Galley Edit of The Balance of Light.  As of today I am about one third of the way through transcribing my manual edits to the digital document, which will then be formatted to both e-book and trade paperback.

[Side note: I’m worried that TBoL is still going to be quite a long book, so while it’s going to remain a single e-book, I may have to split it up into two trades just to keep the price and size down.  More on that when I get closer to finishing this portion of the project.]

The Persistence of Memories had an official drop date of 15 April of this year, about six months after the first book.  I haven’t nailed down a specific release date for The Balance of Light yet, but again, the closer we get to the end of this edit, quicker I’ll be able to do so.

All that said, I had to make do without a few other projects in the interim.  I put aside any actual work on future Mendaihu Universe books until this one was finished.  I also put aside any non-MU ideas that have been brewing; I haven’t trunked them, they’re just on hiatus.  In addition to that, I’d also put a temporary stop on my Daily 750 Words exercises.  I wanted to clear my desk and get rid of any extraneous assignments and deadlines so I could focus completely on finishing the Bridgetown Trilogy.

The unprecedented decision, however, was to stop writing poetry.  I’d come to the realization that it had stopped being something useful to me some time ago.  I’d used poetry as a personal experiment for a good few decades: a creative release for my personal dreams, irritations, ponderings, or whatever.  But it hadn’t been that for at least two or three years; it has become less of an outlet and more of a chore, and thus less enjoyable.  So I wrote one last long poem, closed that composition notebook, and filed it away.  I haven’t written one since.  Will I ever pick it up again?  Who knows.  Maybe, but I think I’d need to put some real thought and dedication into that form and do it right this time, instead of the way I used to write it.

*

So.  What’s up for 2017, then?

Aside from releasing The Balance of Light sometime in the early months, who knows.  It’ll be the first time in decades where the Mendaihu Universe (and in particular, these three books) won’t be weighing down on me.  The slate will be fully clean.  For the first time in a LONG time, I’ll be able to fully focus on a completely new project.

I’ll be able to start in on one or more of those Possible Ideas I have on hiatus.  A few more stories in the Mendaihu Universe, for starters.  I don’t have any concrete plans at the moment, where New Projects are concerned, but once I’m ready, I’ll be planning like a fiend.

I would also like to return to the Daily 750 exercise again.  Over the past couple of years it has been a great Word Playground for me, and at least three possible future novel project ideas have come out of it.  And of course, I’d like to return to a stable blogging schedule.  Those things go out the window for everyone at the end of the year, so I’m not beating myself up too much over them not being timely.  Come next year, however, I’m going to make the best effort to stick to it.

I’d also like to practice more on my book cover artwork.  As I keep saying, doing the covers for my Trilogy was an unexpected joy for me, to the point that I could see myself doing cover art as a possible career step.

I do have some Big Plans regarding the business side of my writing career.  In the next year I’ll be making some very big, very important steps towards raising the bar.  [Yes, I know, that’s a business-speak phrase and I can’t stand that kind of talk, but it fits the situation.]  I don’t want to share them just yet, but I’ve been thinking about them and planning them in my head for at least a few years now.  I’d promised myself that 2017 would be the year they will become a reality.  I’ve started giving myself a soft schedule to work with, and will soon be spending some offline time making this business plan work.

And yes, as soon as I’m ready to release these Big Plans upon the world, I’ll let you know!

*

All told, I think 2016 has been a stellar year for me, creatively.  One of the best I’ve ever had.  That’s not to say I wish I’d spent more time and dedication learning how to best sell my creative wares online and make money off it, but I’ve certainly reached goals that have been on my bucket list since I was at least ten years old.  I’ve rarely looked at my sales numbers, but I’m not taking them too seriously for the moment.  I scored a good number of downloads of both books during a month-long sale on Smashwords — a LOT more than I expected to get, to be honest — and while I earned no money, the fact that I did get that many hits meant quite a bit to me.  It meant that I was doing something right.  It meant I was closer to my goals as a professional author than I’d expected.  I now know where I stand, what direction I should head in, and what to expect when I get there.

Which means that 2017 will be the year I step up my game and start making money off of the Dream Job I’ve always wanted since I was a kid.

I’m looking forward to it.

Blog Under Construction – Please Mind the Gaps

 

Hey there!  Sorry for the mess here at Welcome to Bridgetown.  I’d been wanting to update the blog’s setting for quite some time, and of course the one day I was able to do so with not much interference, the site decided it didn’t want to cooperate.  Every time I tried to play with the customization, something crashed.  [In retrospect, I think WP was doing a server update and so most of the coding responded with LOL NOPE.  Very much like this very amusingly excellent Nichijou segment above.]

SO!

I did manage to get a nice sunset picture of Dubai for the header picture to set the new mood.  I’d like to give WtBt a much brighter view with easier navigation and readability, so I’m trying out a few different settings to see what works.

I’m also looking into different writing things to blog about — not just the writing, and definitely not just the Bridgetown trilogy!  I’ve got a lot of writing-related ideas percolating in the formerly dusty confines of my brain, so hopefully within the next coming months I will be providing you with more entertaining, informative, or just plain silly things to brighten your day.

This will be a work in progress, so thanks for your understanding and patience!

 

Coming Soon

Not too much to report on this slightly cloudy Friday afternoon here in Spare Oom.  Just waiting for the Day Job to end and for the weekend to start!  I’ve been all kinds of busy the last few days.  I’m still neck deep in the edit for The Balance of Light; the Walk in Silence entries are coming along at a good clip, and will be hitting a multi-entry ‘interlude’ before continuing with the story; I’ve been hitting my daily practice words almost without fail; and I’ve been making slow but consistent plans for the next non-MU project I’ll be writing.

But!

I will say, however, that I have a few fun announcements to make pretty soon, regarding the Bridgetown Trilogy, as well as with the business end of my writing projects!

Let’s just say that it’s going to be an interesting ‘release’.

Stay tuned! 🙂

Returning Back to the Fold!

naruto dive
My life over the last month and a half.

FINALLY!

Yes, I have returned from the shadows and back to the land of the living!  I’ve been so busy as of late, it took me a few days to realize that I didn’t have any pressing OMG deadlines weighing me down!

The last few days have been spent mostly doing project clean-up and getting everything back to some semblance of order.  This meant an often precarious balance of Day Jobbery-related fires to put out (and there were many), doing the post-production and release prep for The Persistence of Memories, and generally just taking time to BREATHE again.

So now that it’s midweek and my brain has stopped spinning some, what do I have on tap for the close future?

Glad you asked!  A partial list:

The Persistence of Memories to be released in ebook on 4/15!  WOO!  It’s available directly from Smashwords in all kinds of formats, including Kindle, for $4.99.  And for a brief time, you can buy the first book ABSOLUTELY FREE!  Two for the price of one!  [Note: As before, since the formatting of the physical book takes more time, I’ll let you know as soon as I can when it’ll be available through CreateSpace/Amazon.]

— I shall be taking part in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge this year, here at WtBT!  It’s a fun blogging exercise that I’ve done a few years in the past on my LJ, and thought I’d give it a go here.  I was thinking of doing an A-to-Z of the Mendaihu Universe, partly to get me to talk about it more (as I’m sure you’re all wondering, what the hells is he talking about in these books?), and partly to get me back into the blogging habit.  Hope you enjoy what I have in store!

— And speaking of blogging, I’m still planning making good with my ‘alternate plan’ for the Walk in Silence project by turning it into an ongoing series over at the WiS blog.  This series will start the third full week of April (around the 20th or so).  Stay tuned!

— Returning to the whiteboard schedule.  I purposely put it aside a few months ago when I chose to focus solely on the TPoM revision/edit/remaster/release, and now it’s high time to return to it.  Which means more practice words at 750 Words, more WiS entries, and maybe even some words and music elsewhere.  Truly looking forward to that.

 

So yes!  Definitely looking forward to returning back to the writing and the other projects.  It’s going to be a fun and creative summer, that’s for sure!

naruto ramen
Ahh…now that everything’s back to nor–