Two things always come into play on the Saturday. The first is how many additional books am I likely to buy from the dealer’s room? The second, and more difficult, is which discussions or panels am I going to prioritise over others? In the past I’ve dealt with this in a simple way, which am I likely to get the most benefit from? That might mean missing a reading or a Q&A but it’s the best measure I’ve come up with.
Coming back to the first point, I did get there early enough to do a quick sweep of the dealer’s room and pick up a couple of books for later. Then, once I’d put them with the rest (more on this later), I went to my first reading of the day.
10:00-11:00 Mary Robinette Kowal Reading
Mary Robinette Kowal read the first chapter of her recently released The Calculating Stars. (On a side note: this was one of the two books I bought earlier). Given that one of the many strings to her bow is professional audiobook narrator, the reading was very entertaining. There was also a Q&A afterwards where I learned that many publishers aren’t in favour of authors reading their own books and that those that do, including Mary Robinette herself, are required to audition first. Unfortunately, I had to duck out of the Q&A early to make it to the next item on my list.
11:00-12:00 Establishing Your Work Flow
The first of two panels today, with John Scalzi, Carrie Vaughn, Rebecca Roanhorse, Jane Lindskold and Benjamin Radford. Giving that getting my work moving has been a particular challenge of late, I thought this would be a valuable one for me to attend. I got some good practical hints, from how to filter ideas to finding the right character to deliver the necessary information.
12:00-12:30 Victor Milan Memorial
After that panel, I was able to catch the last half hour of the memorial to Victor Milan with Lauren Teffeau, John Jos Miller, Emily Mah, Melinda Snodgrass, Patricia Rogers, George. R.R. Martin and S.M. Stirling. Choosing to go to the panel was probably the one I had the most conflict about. While I can’t say that I particularly knew Victor, I had met him a couple of times at previous events and he was always kind and generous with his time. I did want to hear some other people’s memories of him so I’m glad that I was able to hear some of this one.
12:30-1:00 John Scalzi Reading
My second reading of the day, this time with John Scalzi reading from the first chapter of The Consuming Fire, the next book in his Interdependency series. This time I had to leave before the reading was even finished but since I’ve already read a majority of his books, I think it’s safe to say I’ll end up reading this one at some point.
1:00-2:00 Writing Cross-Genre & Succeeding Anyway with Jeffe Kennedy
While I generally describe the majority of my writing (i.e. The House Valerius series) as Urban Fantasy, I do like to try other genres so I thought this talk might be useful. Especially since Jeffe Kennedy has been writing cross-genre enough that one was invented for her. One of the points I took away from this one is that writing cross-genre can be difficult, not only when trying to pitch to an agent or publisher but also when it comes to reader expectations. Plus, there was a question that stuck with me; what does success mean as a personal measure? I’m not sure I know how to answer that one yet.
2:00-3:00 George R.R. Martin
I was expecting this one to be a reading but it turned out instead to be a discussion of the friends lost this year (Victor Milan, Gardner Dozois, Harlan Ellison) and his various projects currently on the go. To deal with the elephant in the room first (in his own words), The Winds of Winter is not finished yet but there is a book of Targaryan history, Fire and Blood, coming soon. There is also at least one of the proposed GOT successor shows (his preferred term) having been approved for a pilot episode. There are more Wild Cards books in the offing as well as a possible TV show. And finally, a TV show based on his novel Nightflyers. There may have more, but I had to leave for the next panel.
3:00-4:00 Self-Publishing: When To Do It, When To Go Traditional
I’d be lying if I said the notion of self-publishing has never crossed my mind so this panel, with Jeffe Kennedy, Corie Weaver, Robert E. Vardeman, Emily Mah and Joan Saberhagen, was another I thought would benefit me. I got some truths about the reality about the realities of the business, what to be cautious of as well as a few marketing tips.
4:00-5:00 Writing Exercises
Time for a little bit of writing practice, courtesy of Josh Gentry, Jane Lindskold, M.T. Reiten, Robert E. Vardeman and SnackWrites. SnackWrites are writing exercises that can be done in fifteen minutes or less, usually in response to a prompt. Of course, since the panel were professional writers, the time limit was shortened to five minutes but those of us in attendance were encouraged to take part as well.
We had time to work through four prompts:
- One rabbit, two heads.
- Incorporate the following: medical mystery, Toby the frog, library, candlestick and “What the?”.
- The safety announcement for a time machine.
- Eulogy for a sandwich as you’re eating it.
And, just for the hell of it, here’s my attempt at the third:
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Trans-Temporal Tours. If we could have your attention, we do have a short safety announcement. Before we depart, please ensure that any and all metallic items have been removed from your person and stowed in the quantum shielded box beneath your seat. As we depart, secure all restraints, and then press the blue button on your armrest to deliver your dosage of muscle relaxant. Since this has been pre-determined for you, please make sure you are in the seat you were originally designated.”
So, as you might guess from the above photo, I did have a few books signed and personalised. I know that I could probably sell them on if they weren’t personalised but I like the memories they engender. That’s just me I guess. Anyways, I did manage to get around everyone in the time allotted (as far as I know anyway) and carrying them about got me some cardio into the bargain.
And that was it for the second day. There was still the costume competition but I’ve never been one for that. At least, so far.