Bubonicon 2017!

The 49th iteration of Bubonicon, New Mexico’s science fiction and fantasy convention, is in just a few short weeks. C. J. Cherryh and Sherwood Smith are guests of honor, Ursula Vernon is toastmistress, and Elizabeth Leggett is our artist guest of honor. Back in time is this year’s theme.

The festivities are August 25, 26, and 27 at Albuquerque’s Marriott Uptown.

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There are a number of panels and events scattered throughout the weekend, so if you are local, be sure to check out the programming guide.

On Friday, you can find me participating in the following:

Panel # 4 – FACTS BEHIND THE FANTASY: RESEARCH IMPACT

Panel # 7 – REBEL SCUM: OPPOSING THE EMPIRE

Saturday, we’ll be talking about the science in science fiction.

Panel # 12 – HEY, YOU GOT YOUR SCIENCE IN MY FICTION

Hope to see you there! Be sure to check out bubonicon.com

Summer Roundup!

This summer has simply flown by, and I’m appalled we’re nearly halfway through August already. My writing has ebbed and flowed these past few weeks but I’ve been staying busy, even if it hasn’t always translated into words on the page. Behold:

June

To celebrate the release of The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth by Roc, including my story “Against the Wind,” I participated in the anthology’s book launch in Santa Fe (which I talked about last time). There was also another author event a bit closer to home in Albuquerque at Page1 Books. I joined editor S.M. Stirling and fellow contributors Jane Lindskold, Emily Mah, Victor Milán, and John Jos. Miller.

Milan, Miller, Lindskold, Me (answering a question), Stirling, & Mah

Milan, Miller, Lindskold, Me (in orange), Stirling, & Mah at Page 1 Books in ABQ.

I’m so happy to be a part of this anthology, and am still thrilled with the review of my story in Open Letters Monthly.

July

I spent most of July on the East Coast, three weeks plus recovery time. There I visited with friends and family but also used the trip as an opportunity to attend Readercon in Boston. I’ve heard tremendous things about the convention over the years and decided my travel dollars would be better spent attending Readercon instead of this year’s Worldcon, which has been mired in controversy after controversy.

I had a wonderful time at Readercon, particularly the part where I got to hang out with some of my SF/F writing friends and make new ones. I was also able to meet Bart R. Leib and Kay T. Holt of Crossed Genres Magazine and thank them for not only publishing me twice in one of their anthologies as well as their magazine, but also giving me my first pro sale. So that was a special moment as well.

While I was in Boston, I also met with my agent Lana Popovic where, over a delightful lunch, we plotted world domination—er, rather discussed my next project. She’s closed to queries at the moment, but I highly recommend her if you are looking for an agent with a strong editorial eye and market savvy.

When I returned to New Mexico, I learned my short story “Jump Cut” published in the Journal of Unlikely Cryptography earlier this year had been nominated in Lady Business’s Short Fiction survey from Jan to March 2015.

2015-Q1shortfiction

A heartfelt thanks to whoever nominated my story! I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know about this site, but I’ll be participating in the Lady Business’s quarterly recommendation periods to come, and I hope you will too!

Finally, the end of July saw the release of Vic Milán’s The Dinosaur Lords from Tor. I got a sneak peak of the book while it was being workshopped, and know you are in for a treat if you like Dinosaurs and epic medieval battles!

dinolords

August

This month has been thankfully quiet so far, allowing me to get back into my writing routine and get caught up on things. However, I’m looking forward to participating in my local convention Bubonicon at the end of the month.

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The theme this year is “Women of Wonder” with co-guests of honor Tamora Pierce and Catherynne M. Valente, toastmistress Mary Robinette Kowal, and guest artist Ruth Sanderson. August 28-20th at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown.
I also want to mention that The Future Fire magazine is celebrating ten (!) years of publication! They published my story “Digital Ligatures” last year, and I encourage you to check out their stories and support their crowdfunding campaign by preordering the celebration anthology.

TFFX

That’s it for me. Happy writing!

Where You Can Find Me at Bubonicon 2014

I’m very excited to be a part of my local convention, Bubonicon, in Albuquerque, New Mexico this year. New Mexico has an amazing group of speculative writers writing across many different sub-genres of the field, and they’ll all be in one place! If you find yourself in the Land of Enchantment for the first weekend of August, be sure to check it out.

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Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday: ASPIRING WRITERS 201: KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES – RESEARCH
To be successful in SF, a writer must keep up with the technology, the competition and the field. Why are those all so necessary? How do the panelists do that? How does one balance the writing needs with mundane life? What happens if a writer doesn’t keep up? Are the panelists worried about being left behind?

Why I’m excited: Because I get to geek out about research and how my time in grad school and academia shaped the writer I am today!

Saturday: WRITING THE CHANGE: ANTHOLOGY DISCUSSION
An anthology based on SM Stirling’s “Change” series will be released in 2015. Contributors to the anthology (including me!) talk about their stories, what inspired them, what part Stirling played in their creations, the rules to playing in one person’s sandbox without contradicting each other, etc.

Why I’m excited: I get to talk all about my forthcoming story in the anthology along with both the editor and some of the other contributors—a unique opportunity to see how other authors tackled their stories for the anthology.

Sunday: HIGH SCHOOL IS HELL: YA DYSTOPIAS
Why are dystopian futures so popular in the YA market? Are they analogies for how teenaged youths feel about high school? What are some of the good YA dystopian works beyond The Hunger Games and Divergent? Is this sub-genre just a fad or is it here to stay? What might replace it? What’s being done that’s new and different? Has the dystopian theme become a crutch for writers and publishers?

Why I’m excited: Well, it’s no secret that at least half of my published short stories are YA in nature. I’m a big fan of speculative fiction for young adults and look forward to hearing my fellow panelists’ take on the genre.

So mark your calendars and be sure to say hi!

Bubonicon 46
The Albuquerque Marriott Uptown
2101 Louisiana Blvd NE (Louisiana & I-40)
Albuquerque, NM 87110

Guests of Honor: John G. Hemry and Cherie Priest
Toastmaster: Steven Gould
Guest Artist: Darla Hallmark

http://bubonicon.com/

 

How to Survive Your First Worldcon Part Two

Over Labor Day weekend, I attended my first Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas. I had no idea what to expect, and I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned so you’ll be better prepared if you plan to attend an event like this in the future.
Be sure to also check out Part One.

6. Stay in the Conference Hotel

It can cost more money to get a room at the conference hotel, but by staying there you quadruple the opportunities of meeting people. For this con, since I was traveling with my non-con attending husband, we decided to stay in the non-party hotel so he’d get a break from the convention atmosphere. Big mistake.

Our hotel was right next door, so logistically, it wasn’t a big deal. But looking at it in terms of elevator rides, morning coffee lines for the lobby Starbucks, drinks at the hotel bar or dinner in the restaurant—these are all opportunities to see and be seen. And serendipity may smile on you and put you in the path of someone who can help your career.

You know the old adage that publishing is a numbers game? Cons are no exception. Position yourself to best advantage, even if that means putting up with hotel room that backs to a con suite.

7. Panels Are Not Your Primary Objective

This might sound counter-intuitive, but bear with me. I spent my first day at the convention scouring the program and identifying what panels I wanted to see. And that first day, I went from panel to panel like a good little attendee.

There are two problems with this approach. One, you will not be able to maintain this level of focus for ten hours of programming each of the five days. Two, if you are attending panels, you’re learning, but most likely not networking. Granted you could approach panelists at the end of a presentation and if you’re lucky be able to introduce yourself. Or perhaps you find yourself sitting next to someone important. It can happen.

But you should be flexible enough so that if someone, especially if they’re higher up on the writing ladder, says let’s skip the next session and chat/get drinks/food/whatever….that’s what you should do. No matter what panel you planned to see at that time.

8. Be Prepared but Be Prepared to Leave Empty-Handed

We’ve al heard those magical stories of authors who attended a conference and came home with a book deal. And if that happens to you, more power to you.

But for the rest of us, you never know what could happen. You could have pitching opportunities and flub them or maybe no one will give you the chance to talk about your work. That’s okay, because you have to take the long-term view and know that slow and steady wins the race.

Knowing that lightning probably won’t strike though is no excuse not to be prepared to talk about your book (or whatever else you have going on). Think elevator pitch and practice it so you don’t sound like an idiot (I wish I practiced more).

Even if you don’t talk to an agent or an editor, your fellow writers may ask. You have to view these moments as opportunities to gain an advocate of your work if they like what they hear. They could be indifferent or unimpressed by your story pitch—but they’ll still recognize the fact that you are treating yourself and your story professionally.

9. Take Time for Yourself

This is important. Give yourself a break every now and then to recharge. There will be plenty of opportunities to hang out with other writers and meet new people.

 

But you have to be the best possible version of yourself to make genuine connections. Everyone will be operating on fewer Z’s, and some people might be hung over or have spiking blood sugar. But it’s on you to maintain your body and your well being.

***

That’s it. That’s all I got. Hopefully it will be enough to give you a kick start for your next convention. Happy writing!

How to Survive Your First Worldcon, Part One

Over Labor Day weekend, I attended my first Worldcon in San Antonio, Texas. I decided to go for a lot of reasons, but I think the most important one was to slowly increase my visibility in the field by networking with my writing colleagues.

The view from my hotel balcony.

I had no idea what to expect, and I’d like to share what I’ve learned so you’ll be better prepared if you plan to attend an event like this in the future.

1. Never Take Off Your Nametag

This could be my own issue, but I’ve never been a fan of nametags. Whether it was the first day of school, my work as a waitress back in the day, or attending work conferences, my initial impulse was always to whip off the tag as soon as possible.

Do not do this. The whole point of conventions is to meet like-minded people, right? But unless you already know someone’s a writer, it can be tough to spot one out in the wild. At a convention, if you see a nametag, you can be reasonably sure they’re a serious SFF fan or writer or both, whether you are crossing the street between the hotel and the conference space, hunkering down in the hotel lobby for the free internet, or getting a drink or a bite to eat in the hotel lounge. So this is one of the few times where it’s okay to let your freak flag fly.

The nametag also makes introductions easier and seeing a printed name (as opposed to just hearing it) can reinforce retention.

That said….

2. Be Prepared to Reintroduce Yourself A Lot

You will be meeting a lot of people. And just as you will have difficulty keeping everyone straight, the people you meet will also have trouble putting the name to the face. If they don’t remember you, don’t take it personally. Be gracious, and if the opportunity presents itself, remind them that you met them the night before at a party or last year at another event or that you share a TOC together… whatever it is that will help jog their memory and put you into context.

 

You want them to remember your face, your name, and something pleasant about you—not how you gave them a hard time for not remembering who you are from a 15-second introduction. That just makes them feel guilty, and they will then avoid you to avoid experiencing that negative emotion again.

3. Dress to Impress

I’m not talking business casual. Personal hygiene is important to handle (especially in Texas in August). As Mary Robinette Kowal said in a panel on schmoozing, you want to be the best possible version of yourself—whatever that means to you.

For me, that meant wearing clothes that had a consistent feel, styling my hair in a similar way, and wearing the same necklace and bracelet combo across the days at the convention so that people would recognize me, even if they didn’t know my name. Think of it as professional branding.

4. Ribbons Ribbons Everywhere

As this was my first con, I didn’t realize there were special “ribbons” you could affix to your nametag. These little pieces of fabric were issued to people who had pub’d in certain magazines or talked to certain con personnel or supported a particular author or whatever. I later found out there was even a ribbon for attending your first Worldcon. Many people (though not everyone) had them. I even saw one kid walking around the convention hall with so many ribbons they dragged along after him.

As with the nametags, the ribbons provide quick visual reinforcement in identifying people in your “tribe” and often served as a source of small talk. Now, I’m not saying I was ignored because I didn’t have any ribbons—I wasn’t. But it did reinforce my newbie status because I had no idea how they worked.

The exception of course were the bright green ribbons identifying the panelists and invited guests to the convention. Which leads me to….

5. Pay Attention to the Social Hierarchy

At the con, I was pretty insignificant compared to the writers further along in their careers and the editors and agents that were there. And the ribbons often reinforced this.

Unlike other cons, there were no pitch appointments offered. The only way to get an agent or editor’s attention was to either get introduced by someone they respected or small talk your way into their hearts.

Both are hard to do and are extremely dependent on luck, your social abilities, and the kindness of your colleagues.

People can sense desperation. If someone powerful has a bad opinion of you, it could haunt you the rest of your career. So don’t be that person who stalks the important people all over the con or the person who turns into a squeeing mess the second you get to talk to your writing hero, dream agent, or whathaveyou.

Instead, be sure to act courteously, and if at all possible be interesting. You may not get an opportunity to talk about you or your work, and that’s okay. Take the long view. You want to leave people with a favorable impression no matter what because who knows what could happen the next time you meet them.

Stay tuned for Part Two next week!