Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This weekend I attended ArmadilloCon, Austin's annual sci-fi/fantasy literary conference.  I'm still something of a conference newbie, since I only ever go to ArmadilloCon (it being the only one I can, at this juncture, financially justify), but from what I hear from other people, it really is one of the better literary-minded conferences out there.  And it really is more about books than any other media of geek entertainment.

The first part of it was the Writers' Workshop, which I have participated in for several years now.  I really have to say, this workshop is a fantastic opportunity for fledgling writers.  If you have the means and the time in the coming years, I highly recommend it.  Not only did I get my piece (the opening chapter to Maradaine Constabulary) read by Stina Leicht (whose "Of Blood and Honey" comes out in March 2011) and Anne Sowards (Senior Editor at Roc and Ace), I got the chance to meet and talk to Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, Julie Kenner and many others.

On a side note-- doing said Workshop several years in a row has given me rather definitive insight into how my writing has improved over the past five years.  I've looked back at what I submitted back in 2005 and 2006, and I'm kind of embarrassed.  Not by the writing itself-- though it is poor, don't get me wrong-- but by the amount of ego I remember I was walking in with at the time, in comparison to the quality of the work.  I honestly thought at the time that not only was what I wrote awesome, but I was going to get a pat on the back and be told how awesome I was.  This was definitely not the case, and I'm better now for it.

As for the rest of the convention, it's something of a whirlwind in my head.  A lot of interesting panels, a lot of shaking hands of people I've known for a bit, and other people that I just met.  A lot of information to process, certainly.

And it was such a busy weekend, I didn't even get a chance to see my play, which also just opened this weekend.  I heard it went well, and looking at the write-ups from audience members on NowPlayingAustin, it looks like it was well-received.  Can't wait to catch it next week.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just a few bits of news

I may have mentioned this before, but my short story "My Name Is Avenger Girl" was accepted for the superhero anthology "The Protectors", edited by Paige. E. Roberts.

Also, my short play "Pleasure to Meet You" is being produced as part of The Vestige Group's "Muses IV: Memories of a House".  This is the third year in a row a piece of mine has been featured in their "Muses" series.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More Perils of Worldbuilding

When it comes to worldbuilding, I like to think that most of us fledgling sf/fantasy writers actually sit down and get the work done.  This probably isn't true at all.  Plenty of wanna-be writers don't do the work at all, much like they don't do the research about querying or how to write a novel.  But a fair amount of us do it, and do it in depth.

The question then becomes putting it on the page.  This is the hard balance.  It's very easy to fall into pure info-dump mode, dropping a ton of history and culture information but not actually telling a story.  Not only is this an easy mistake to make, it's an easy mistake to recognize, no matter how you dress it up.  I was doing this a lot in Crown of Druthal's early drafts, even if I was couching it in a historian giving a lecture and other characters being bored by it.  Lampshade hanging doesn't make it not boring.

The other mistake is almost as easy to do, but harder to realize you're doing, I think.  It's knowing your world SO WELL that you forget that you have to actually explain it.  Just like how, if you were writing contemporary fiction you wouldn't explain New York or London or US History, because you assume the audience knows this.  It becomes very easy to be so immersed you don't realize no one else knows what you know.

I've seen works fall into this trap plenty.  I've fallen into this trap plenty as well.  But it's important to realize that Too Little Information is just as damaging as Too Much.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yet Another Opinion on the Future of Publishing

My mother pointed me towards a Newsweek article essentially promoting self-publishing as the viable model of the future to circumvent "traditional publishing" and get your work straight to the people.  This article was roughly the same one I've seen several times: taking a single success story and trumping it up as a new paradigm.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, pursuing Traditional Publishing is still the preferred option.  It's what I'm doing, and what I'll continue to do for some time.  But will I reach a point where, failing to break through that way, I will decide I need to put on a publisher's hat?  It's entirely possible.  And the tools to do that, and do it smartly, are indeed out there.  But it's also very easy to do it stupidly.

One key way is doing it before you really are ready to do it.  It's one thing to polish and query and polish and query until you've exhausted your options and you say, "This is really the best I can make it, and no one is picking it up... so why not try this?"  It's another to finish a rough draft, run a quick spell check and upload it to Lulu.

However, here's the thing: regardless of the method one uses to try and get one's work out there, cream will still rise, and lead will still sink.  I think the new paradigm will more go in this direction: self-publishing will not replace traditional... but it will become more accepted as a path to traditional publishing.

Just like youtube has not killed the TV or Movie industry, nor has mp3 sharing killed the music industry, the traditional publishing industry will not be killed by self-publishing in the future.  But, just as these new tools allowed people to find an audience they wouldn't have before, and through that, find a new path to success.

Up until now, the Conventional Wisdom is that by self-publishing, you've screwed yourself out of your chance for traditional publishing.  However, there are enough success stories out there to prove that isn't true: if a publisher thinks there's a profit to be made off your work, they'll go for it.  I think in the coming years we will see more and more success stories like that.

But only if the books are any good to begin with.  Cream rises and lead sinks, after all.